posted on 31-Aug-2001 1:11:20 PM
Everything You Are

Author: Javagin

Rating: Definitely NC-17!

Summary: Takes place right after Viva Las Vegas. Spoilers thru the end of Season two will be incorporated throughout. What would happen if Max and Liz got together and found their true destiny? What really happened to Max in the White Room? Read on and find out!

Disclaimer: The characters from this story are borrowed and I only own the situations I put them in! I make no money from this venture

Authors note: The first 4 sections of this story were posted under the title After Vegas on the Crashdown website. They take so long to post new sections that I thought I would start it over here! I changed the name when I noticed a story called After Vegas by a different author was already posted here. The new name suits it better anyway! This is my first fanfic and I would appreciate tons of feedback!

Part 1

"It's 226!" Michael declared adamantly.

"No, it's 227," Max replied, "did you count the guy whose head was in the basket?"

"Oh! Maybe you're right! Let's watch it again!" Michael said eagerly while looking around for the remote to start the Braveheart DVD over again and resume the body count.

"No, Michael we have to catch our plane, remember?" Max stood up and stretched looking around the opulent hotel room. He wouldn't be forgetting this trip anytime soon. His eyes automatically searched out Liz, who was laughing with Maria, Alex, and Isabel as they finished off ice cream sundaes across the suite. She glanced up and caught him staring -again. He gave a slight wave and turned quickly back to Michael.

"Let's get our gear together and head out!" He stated loud enough for everyone to hear. He hid a half smile at the general grumbling that filled the suite at his announcement. He didn't mind, he was used to being the voice of responsibility, the reminder of reality. He also couldn't blame them, they were headed back to certain trouble. After Sheriff Valenti got done telling all of their parents that they had given themselves a vacation in Vegas and skipped 6th period last Friday they probably wouldn't be allowed out of their respective houses again for weeks-except for school or work, of course.

Oh well, thought Max, that won't be so different from my life right now anyway! He shook off the mood and grabbed his backpack, sweeping it onto his shoulder and scanning the room to make sure they had not left anything behind. His gaze collided with Liz's once more before skittering away quickly. Was it too much to wish that she might still have feelings for him, or was it just a coincidence that she seemed to be looking at him as much as he did at her? He remembered the amazing way she felt in his arms during their dance earlier and the happy camaraderie they shared until they came back to their suite and found Valenti waiting.

"Our plane leaves in an hour and a half Maxwell-let's hit the road!" Michael slapped him on the shoulder and opened the door, sweeping his arm grandly to usher out the gang.

"Let's go! Let's go! No loitering in the halls, no trips to the boutique, and you better not have any of that money left, because it's all staying in Vegas!"

As Michael made this declaration all the girls filed past and then Max and Alex. He took one last look around and closed the door. He felt that maybe he had purged the nightmares and he certainly felt he had reconnected with Max. That had really been the most important point of the trip for Michael. Maxwell was his beacon of sanity, his reality check, and kept him on course. Not that he'd admit that out loud! He knew he was rough around the edges, he liked it even, in a way he felt just as necessary as Max to the group because he thought outside the box, acted impulsively, and sometimes that was the only answer.

They'd almost made it to the lobby when Maria stated she had to pee and grabbed Liz's arm to steer her off to the lavatory.

Michael rolled his eyes and asked, "Iz, what is up with girls pairing off in bathrooms?"

"Hey, don't ask me! I am not solving that mystery for a man and breaking my oath as a woman to never reveal our secrets!"

"Uh huh, so you don't know either?" Max asked. "Nope. I have no clue." Isabel shook her head with a wide smile.

"What is taking them so long?" Michael asked in frustration a couple minutes later, "Liz has the room keys and we need them to check out!"

"I'll go in to check." Isabel volunteered.

"Oh no you don't!" Michael grabbed her back. "Maria will just suck you into the make-up, gabfest and we'll miss our plane!" Michael strode to the bathroom door and shoved it open just as Maria came careening out.

"Michael! Is Liz out here?" she asked, clearly in a panic.

"What? No, she came in with you!" Max swept past Maria and scanned the bathroom.

"Liz! Are you in here?" His gaze fell to the floor under the sinks and landed on Liz's purse. He strode forward and picked it up. She would never leave that behind, she was just as responsible as he was. A sick feeling of dread washed through him. His eyes roamed the room as he tried to slow his heartbeat. He spotted another door across the bathroom and ran to it. It was locked tight so he used his powers to pop it open and stood looking down a Staff Only hallway.

Michael, Isabel, Maria, and Alex crowded in behind Max. Max held up Liz's purse as silent testimony that something was very wrong and took off down the hall yelling "Liz! Liz! Where are you?" They all searched frantically for several moments knocking on doors and eliciting surprised reactions from various employee's, several of whom eventually escorted them back to the public areas forcibly.

Max began to pace muttering under his breath about needing a plan.

"OK stop!" Alex held up his hands. "Here's what we need to do: Isabel, try your dreamwalking thing, you've connected with her before when Max was in New York right?" Isabel nodded her agreement.

All the friends crowded around as she closed her eyes and tried to focus. All of a sudden a vision of Liz appeared in front of Max and showed him the number 134. Her face was streaked with tears and she was trying to tell him something, but he couldn't make out the words. She disappeared suddenly after looking quickly over her shoulder.

"Liz!" Max and Maria cried in unison. "We've got to find her!" Max ground out.

"What does 134 mean?" Isabel asked the group. "It looked really familiar..."

"It's a room number!" Max burst out, suddenly certain that's where they would find her as he took off running down the hall.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Liz trembled in fear as she cowered down in a heap where her kidnapper had left her. It was the man who had turned Tess and her away from the casino for being under age.

"I am sick and tired of you young girls flaunting yourselves and thinking you can deceive me!" he ranted.

Liz could see his powerful fists clenching and unclenching. Her mind screamed out for Max to save her and she tried to reach out with her senses, suddenly finding herself standing in front of him.

"I'm in room 134!!" She yelled waving her arms and visualizing to him the number plaque from the door that she'd glimpsed when she was dragged in.

The man came up behind her then and grabbed her around the neck.

"Please don't!" She pleaded with the small amount of breath she had left.

"You want to be all grown up?" he asked, "I'll teach you how to be a grown up!" He forced her onto her back on the floor and ripped her skirt off with one hand as he pressed her throat closed with the other. Liz struggled for air and freedom, but the room was getting fuzzy as she felt him rip off her hose and underwear and force her legs apart.

"Max!" her mind screamed out her last thought before giving in to the darkness.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

“She’s here!" Max yelled out as he felt Liz's frenzied panic in his mind. He kicked the door open, all of his adrenaline screaming for physical action.

The scene before him shocked him to the core. A large man with his hand around Liz's throat was obviously in the act of attempting to rape her.

In a blind rage Max leaped forward with superhuman speed and ripped the attacker away from Liz. His fists flew at the mans face with cruel force before the surprised criminal knew what was happening and collected himself enough to retaliate. He threw a couple of ineffective punches at Max before succumbing to unconsciousness.

Max continued to pummel his face into the ground until Michael and Alex dragged him away forcibly.

"He's out Max! He can't hurt her anymore!" Alex shouted. Max's gaze flew back to Liz and he crawled over to her and gathered her into his arms.

"Liz? Liz? Please be okay!" He pleaded, his hands running over her body, using his power to ascertain the damage. Just then the hotel security burst in and demanded to know what had happened. Alex explained quickly while Michael went up to Max.

"You can't heal her in front of them!" he whispered, glancing back at the guards.

He moved to block their view and gestured to Max to do it quickly. Max started Liz's breathing again, but did not have time to fix her bruises before a security officer kneeled down by them.

"Is she okay?" he asked. "Does she need an ambulance?"

"No," Max held her closer as her eyes fluttered open. "She's going to be fine."

He lowered his head into her hair and whispered, "I'll never let anyone hurt you again!" Liz looked up into the most beautiful amber eyes she had ever seen.

"Max, is it really you?" Suddenly she flew into his chest in fright, huddling as close as was physically possible.

"There's a man! The one that wouldn't let Tess and me into..."

"Shhh... I know, he can't hurt you anymore," he promised, stroking her hair back and turning her to look at him. "I'll keep you safe -always." He promised solemnly.

"Ma'am, can I ask you a few questions?" The security man asked as he reached out for her arm to get her attention away from the young man holding her. She flinched violently further back into Max's arms.

"Max! Get me out of here!" she whispered frantically. Max gathered her up and stood effortlessly. He smoothed her skirt down over her legs and began walking to the door. As he left the room he could hear sirens outside getting closer and hoped it was the police and not the ambulance the attacker probably needed.

One of the hotel security officers followed them out, "We're going to need a statement!" Max shot him a fierce look over his shoulder.

"Give her a few minutes to pull herself together!" He continued striding down the hall. "We'll be in the Presidential Suite."

The friends crowded with them into the elevator, closing in a protective circle around Max and Liz. Michael held his hand over the controls and the elevator glided uninterrupted to the top floor. They swept into the room and Max took Liz directly to the largest bedroom and laid her tenderly on the bed, sliding in quickly behind her. She leaned back against him gratefully. He always seemed to know exactly what she needed.

Maria jumped on the bed and gave her a fierce hug. "I was so worried! What happened??! I heard a noise and then you stopped answering and when I came out from the stall you were gone! What can I do? Are you okay?" Maria's questions ceased abruptly when Michael pulled her back and whispered "Give her a break! She looks like she's in shock."

He directed his gaze to Max. "What can we do?"

Max looked up into the faces of his four worried friends. "Get Liz some water -and an extra blanket," he added when he felt her shivering, "and then I want you guys to fly home."

That was a very unpopular suggestion and elicited immediate protests from all the friends.

"No arguments!" Max glared at them meaningfully, "We can't get you all tangled up with the police here! I want you all to catch that flight, you need to explain to Mom and Dad that I had to stay longer, okay Isabel?" Isabel nodded. "And Maria, take Alex and cover with Liz's parents for another day okay?"

They nodded also.

Michael came back just then with blanket and an entire pitcher of water. Liz favored him with a small grateful smile and huddled under the blanket against Max's warm chest.

"Does anyone have Tess's cell number? I may have a better idea." Max looked at the faces surrounding them.

"Yeah, I know it." Isabel volunteered. "Okay, call her and tell her to put the sheriff on the phone and explain to him what went down here so he can help cover the situation with our parents, that way we won't be expected back for another day anyway. Michael, this room was paid for one more night anyway, right?"

Michael nodded.

"Good! Now does everyone know what to do?"

They all agreed silently.

"Okay Maxwell, call if you need anything all right?" Michael said.

"Yeah I will," Max cuddled Liz closer and gently kissed the top of her head, running his hands up and down her arms to stop her shaking. "Now get out of here before the police start knocking!"

The group left together with many worried looks cast back over their shoulders. It just didn't feel right to leave a friend in that situation.

"I want to heal your bruises. Is that all right?" Max gently moved his hand up toward her neck.

"No Max!" Liz exclaimed, flinching away. When she saw the hurt look in his eyes she turned into his arms and hugged him hard. "The hotel security already saw them remember?" she sighed when she saw comprehension dawn over Max's face. "Besides, it's like evidence against him right? He needs to be put away for life!" She trembled at her memories.

"Yeah, if he makes it out of the hospital," Max agreed quietly.

Liz looked back at him anxiously, "Max, what did you...?"

"I didn't use my powers," he reassured her quickly, "but I beat him up pretty bad -he wasn't moving when we left." Just then a loud knocking rang out.

"Open up! Police!

Part 2

Liz whimpered softly when Max moved off the bed to get the door.

"I'll be right back," he promised.

He quickly answered the door and led the two officers back into the bedroom with Liz. He automatically moved in behind her again and pulled her in close against his chest.

The officers noted the protective posture and began to ask a series of questions about the events of the morning.

Once they seemed satisfied with the completeness of their accounting they brought in a female police photographer to document Liz's bruises.

Max looked away to lend her privacy when the officer asked to take Liz's torn clothes into evidence. When they were finally left in peace Max made sure the hotel door was "double" locked against any further intrusion and made his way swiftly back to Liz's side.

She looked too small and helpless huddled inside her voluminous terry hotel robe. She folded naturally back into his arms and began to cry. He held her close and stroked her back tenderly, marveling at how strong she had been while it was necessary and unspeakably grateful that she could release her pain to him.

When her sobbing subsided into occasional sniffles and hiccups he cupped her face in his hands and looked deeply into her eyes.

"Please Liz?" he questioned.

Understanding immediately, she gave him a slight nod and lifted her chin to give him access to her neck.

His hand crept up gently to touch her bruises and, keeping his eyes locked to hers, the marks disappeared as his hand passed over.

He experienced the entire episode from her memories in a sudden flash as if it were happening to him. He gasped out loud, his hands seeking out the bruises he now knew were on her arms and inner thighs from her struggles.

"Liz!" he breathed her name in heartfelt sympathy and fell deeper into their connection as she surrendered to his care.

Now the flashes he was seeing were coming faster and it took him a moment to process the sequence of events.

An older, long haired version of himself saying he needed Liz to make him fall out of love with her or they would cause the end of the world.

Liz's fierce sobbing and heart wrenching cries of despair at her efforts to push Max away.

Liz's desperate ploy with Kyle to give Max that final push away -because she loved him too much not to.

Max rocked back in shock as what he had seen sank into his mind.

"Liz! What did you do?" he gasped out.

Liz stared at him -not knowing what he had seen.

"What?!" She was starting to worry he thought the attack was her fault. "He just came after me -I tried to get away!"

"No! I mean pushing me away -that thing with Kyle was all a lie."

The blood drained abruptly from Liz's face deepening her pallor alarmingly.

"Max I don't know what..."

"No! Don't lie to me Liz. I saw! I can't believe how strong you are. I felt how hard that was for you and I know how you feel about me, but you did it anyway. For me, for us, for the world!"

Liz slumped against him in surrender. She was tired of fighting, and he knew!

"I couldn't tell you! That was the hardest part! Max -I will never lie to you again." She swore earnestly, looking him in the eyes so he would know the sincerity of her statement.

"I know, I know," he cuddled her close and realized she was still shivering. "We need to get you warmed up!" With sudden resolve Max picked her up and walked her into the bathroom.

He set her on her feet gently still holding her close to his chest and reached into the shower and adjusted the temperature.

He started to step away to give her some privacy, but she pulled him back begging him to stay "Max, please! I don't want to be alone!" Slowly she untied her robe and let it drop to the floor.

Her beauty and trust stunned him to the core as she gently started opening the buttons of his black shirt. She pushed it over his shoulders and down his arms to the floor and then reached for his pants.

Max stopped her with a gentle hand over hers on his pants button and asked "Are you sure?"

She nodded mutely and unbuttoned his pants, slowly lowering the zipper. She pushed her hands inside the waistbands of his pants and boxers and tugged them down at the same time.

Max hugged her close, reveling in the first touch of their naked bodies against each other. They stepped into the spray of the multiple showerheads together and Max ran his hands up and down Liz's arms and sides, enjoying the slick softness of her skin.

His bodies natural reaction to Liz's proximity could not be hidden, he backed away from her slightly, hoping she would not notice. Now was a time to take care of her. After what she had been through she didn't need to worry about his advances!

But Liz had other ideas and pulled him back, wrapping her arms around his neck, she lifted her face and said simply, "Kiss me Max."

Max could not deny her. Staring into her eyes he gently lowered his lips to hers and feathered them over her mouth.

Liz whimpered and stood on tiptoe to gain better access. Max slowly deepened the kiss, his hands sliding up her arms to tangle in her hair. He angled his mouth and gently teased her lips with his tongue. Her lips parted naturally, her own tongue peeking out to deepen the kiss.

Max groaned deep in his throat and pulled back with a Herculean effort of will.

"Liz -let me take care of you! Please -you don't have to do this!"

"Max -you're always taking care of me and I need you now, I need to feel close to you, I need your love!"

"I will always love you Liz Parker!"

"And I will always love you Max Evans!" She echoed sincerely, "Now show me." she added, hoping he wouldn't resist, she needed his loving touch to wipe away memories of her unwelcome attack.

Max reached slowly to the side of the shower and retrieved the soap, rubbing it between his palms. Liz's initial disappointment at his withdrawal trickled away when he drew her back to him and began rubbing soap over her arms and gliding his hands down her back.

The sensual feel of his hands running over her now overheated flesh caused new shivers of desire to shake her slight frame. She closed her eyes and tipped her head back, enjoying the sensation of Max's strong hands on her body at last. Working up more lather from the soap Max began running his hands up her sides from the waist, watching her reactions, ready to stop if she changed her mind. He gradually brought his palms across her pert breasts, carefully rubbing his thumbs over the now straining peaks.

Liz whimpered her enjoyment, her body straining forward into his hands in an unconscious bid for more.

"You are so beautiful!" he exclaimed in wonder. He marveled at the love and trust she displayed toward him after everything she had recently endured.

His hands continued their route up her body and gently massaged her shoulders for a few moments, trying to show Liz with his body how much he wanted to nurture and care for her.

Applying more soap to his hands he began to rub slow circles over her hips, kneeling down he carefully ran his hands down her legs and back up. Both of their breathing patterns became erratic and ragged.

Liz didn't know how much more she could take. Her trembling legs could no longer hold her up and she sank down to kneel with Max on the floor of the large shower. The water sprayed over them from all directions, the misty steam giving a surreal feeling to all that was happening. Liz slowly reached up, cupped Max's face in her hands, and drew his mouth back to hers.

"Make love to me Max," she whispered, pleading with her eyes.
"Liz, we can't! It's too soon and you'll regret..."

"No! Max, I will never regret anything we do together and I want to be with you!"

"We don't even have any protection Liz! What if..." he stopped talking when her face suddenly flushed and she looked down.

"What?" he asked.

"Uh, Max -you saw the flashes of what happened when Future Max came back right?"

He nodded uncomprehendingly.

"Well, after he told me that we had "cemented" our relationship I couldn't stop thinking abut how sometimes things just happen without any planning and you know how I always need a plan right?"

Max nodded again.

"So I made an appointment with my doctor and she put me on the Pill."

Realization dawned over Max's face as the last barrier to their intimacy was neatly removed for him. He could no longer resist. The overwhelming feeling of love and longing he had felt for her for the last eleven years were too strong to be denied.


Part 3

Max turned off the shower and reached out the door grabbing two towels off the warming rack. He bundled Liz into one and wrapped the other around his waist. He swept her effortlessly into his arms, his eyes never leaving hers, and walked purposefully to set her gently in the middle of the king sized bed.

He crawled on the bed and lay out full length beside her. Still holding her gaze his mouth slowly descended to lightly brush her lips. Their eyes swept closed as new sensations washed over them. They slowly increased the intensity of the kiss until their mouths opened.

Max's tongue sought Liz's and he angled his head for greater access while slowly removing her towel. He flung it to the side and pulled back to gaze at his only love. Her beauty constantly amazed him. He stroked his hand down her body to her thigh and back up, resting it just beneath her breast amazed at his freedom to touch her so intimately.

Her chest heaved as she tried to control her breathing. He made her feel so beautiful, like he couldn't even see any of her flaws.

"You don't have any," he answered her thought.

"Any what?" Liz questioned in confusion.

"Flaws, you don't have any."

"Max... I didn't say that out loud!" Her eyes widened at the realization of what this meant.

Their connection was deeper than it had ever been. Max smiled slightly and shook his head.

"Nothing should surprise us about what we can do when we're together." He then stared into her eyes projecting one thought.

"Oh!! I love you too!" Liz exclaimed, thrilled with the new feeling of closeness. She reached out and removed his towel, feeling his surprise at her boldness through their new connection.

She reached out tentative hands and pushed him back to lay down on the bed. She ran her hands all the way down his chest slowly over his rippling muscles. She enjoyed the effect she was causing in Max as she watched his breathing quicken and his fists clench at his sides.

Lowering her mouth to his masculine nipple her tongue lapped out and she licked all around it causing Max to groan as it hardened. Encouraged she began to suck lightly.

Max's hands instantly went to her shoulders and pulled her up for a deep, drugging kiss. He trailed his lips down her neck and repeated the process that she had performed for him.

Liz thrashed under him, moaning for more. Max switched to the other breast and licked it. He lightly blew air over it and watched in fascination as it grew and hardened.

Unable to resist he sucked it deeply into his mouth and laved it with his tongue. Liz clamped his head to her chest and thrashed her hips under him, not able to believe he was capable of eliciting such sensations. Max continued his sensual journey downward, trailing kisses over her ribs and swirling his tongue around her navel. He gently let his hands travel over her thighs, moving in small circular motions to her inner legs. He then used his thumbs to part her curls and gazed for the first time at the source of his beloved's pleasure. He trailed his fingers along the edges of her nether lips causing her hips to jump forward in frantic response.

Encouraged, he lowered his mouth and tasted her.

Liz screamed out his name and jerked closer to him. Her body was on fire! Max held her hips firmly and began to gently lick and suck her center of pleasure in a steady rhythm sensing what she needed. Liz's hips bucked up matching his pace and she tossed her head and clenched her hands over the sheets as she let go and fell over the edge into bliss.

"Max!! Oh Max!!" Liz panted.

When her tremors calmed Max slid up in the bed and leaned into her passionately, sharing her spicy taste with her. Liz returned the kiss heatedly, finally letting her hands roam over his hard buttocks and around to the front where she explored his straining erection for the first time. Silk over steel. She briefly worried that he wouldn't fit.

"Don't worry," Max whispered to dispel her brief concern. "We'll go slow."

Unable to take any more of her innocent exploration Max gently nudged her knees apart and guided himself to her entrance. He eased in inch by inch until he felt her barrier. Not wanting to cause her any pain he paused and moved his hand down between their bodies. Max stared into Liz's eyes and, understanding what he intended to do, she gave him a slight smile and nodded.

Liz rocked her hips up as Max pushed in and breached her barrier, immediately healing the slight sting of pain. The feeling of being inside his love was unbelievable!

He held himself motionless for a moment to catch his breath, gain control, and give Liz a chance to adjust to his bulk.

Liz could not wait any longer. Max, inside of her! This was the way they should always be. They completed each other.

As she began to move her hips under him it caused such a riot of sensations between them that they both moaned aloud. They realized in shock that their connection was allowing them to feel the others pleasure as well as their own.

Max sensed that Liz craved his lips on her breast and bent his head to pleasure her taut nipples. He sucked one hard nub into his mouth and flicked his tongue over it while she cried out her pleasure underneath him.

He could feel her inner walls clench over his manhood as she came again in long rolling waves and he couldn't wait any longer. With several long firm thrusts he joined her over the edge and spilled his seed inside her. Max collapsed to her side, still connected and they stared at each other in awe. He gathered her close until their breathing steadied and asked, "Are you all right?"

"Perfect!" She replied with a wide grin which he returned full force.

Liz was stunned by the beauty of his rare smile.

"Hey, I smile!" Max protested.

"Uh, not much Max, it's like you've always got the weight of the world on your shoulders and you never take time to laugh and enjoy yourself."

Uncomfortable with the truth behind her words, Max kissed her quickly and changed the subject. "I had a flash Liz."

"Me too."

"What did you see?" They asked together and collapsed laughing at how in sync they were.

"You start," Max said as Liz settled her head on his shoulder.

"It started with a man running through the desert toward the cave where we found the healing stones..."

"And he hid something in an opening in the cave wall!" Max finished for her realizing they had seen the same thing.

"We need to get back and check it out!" Liz exclaimed, realizing it may be an important find for the pod squad.

"Not right away, okay? I just want to concentrate on you -on us. I can't hardly believe we're together like this! Liz, I can never let you go, it's you and me from now on. We're stronger and better when we're together. I love you..." His impassioned speech ended with a tender kiss that gradually turned more passionate.

Max's member stirred back to life inside Liz and he rolled her on top of him. Liz began to move up and down his length for long moments setting the pace. Max watched as she sat up and arched her neck back in ecstasy as she let the explosion roll through her.

Feeling the intensity of her release triggered his own as he pulled her down to his lips for a soul searing kiss.

Liz collapsed on his chest and trailed kisses wherever she could reach before snuggling back into his shoulder. They dozed together for the next hour.

Liz woke first and just looked in awe at her beautiful mate. That's what they were, she realized with a satisfied smile - lifemates. She couldn't imagine spending another day away from Max, and wondered how she had survived so long without him.

Max felt such a surge of loving emotion from Liz that he woke up to wrap her tightly in his arms. Her stomach chose that moment to growl and he smiled.

"Maybe we should order room service." Liz suggested, "I seem to have worked up an appetite!"

"Yeah, that's a good...Wait! We spent the last of our money this afternoon!" Max worried about what they would do.

"Oh...about that... Max, I still have about $2700 bucks," Liz admitted.

"What?! Michael said to spend the money in Vegas before we left!"

"Max, think about it! It's hard to spend three thousand dollars in the arcade, our cab driver to the airport was going to have a fabulous tip!" Max and Liz grinned at each other.

"So room service it is!" Max decided and jumped naked out of bed to grab the menu, much to Liz's fascinated delight.

When Max called down their order they discovered the hotel personnel would not take their money. They sent up a large selection of lunch items along with a half dozen new outfits for both Max and Liz. The clothing ranged from casual Polo's and slacks, to a formal tuxedo for Max. Liz's selections ranged from slacks and sweater sets to a sequined evening gown.

"What in the world??"

The note that accompanied the items was attached to two large suitcases and apologized profusely for any "inconvenience" they had suffered at the hands of former hotel personnel. Max and Liz exchanged amused glances and Max said,

"They're trying not to get sued over our "inconvenience"!"

"How did they know our sizes?" Liz marveled as she held a new dress in front of her and twirled.

"Maria arranged our dinner wardrobes through the hotel last night remember?"

Liz put the dress down and hugged Max closely, inhaling his masculine scent. He leaned his head down and kissed her hair.

"Can I get you anything else?" The hotel waitress asked with a slight gleam of envy in her eyes at the obvious love flowing between this gorgeous couple. They couldn't keep their eyes or hands off each other!

Max looked up startled. He had forgotten she was there!

"No, that will be all for now," he told her, holding out a tip. She shook her head and backed out of the room, reluctant to take her eyes off of them.

"Your money is no good in the hotel. Please let me know if you require anything else!"

Liz shook her head. "Now how am I supposed to get rid of Michael's money?" she wailed in mock despair.

"Don't worry, we'll figure it out!" Max told her, "Now let's eat!"

They turned to the banquet of food that had been set up and filled their plates. Max doused his with the Tabasco he had specially requested and then was surprised when Liz held out her hand for it.

"What?! I like my food spicy!" she answered his questioning look.

"Since when?"

"Since you changed me Max Evans! Kyle and I had a long talk about the effects of your healing us, and we both seem to like things a little spicier now...Not as much as you, of course!"

"So you like things spicy huh?" He gave her a comical leer and pumped his eyebrows up and down.

"Max! You're incorrigible!" Liz chuckled, happy to see this lighter side of Max once again.

They proceeded to try various dishes and exclaimed over how good it all was. They occasionally shared a bite of something particularly tasty, smiling though their attempts to feed each other. They finished with strawberries dipped in thick whipped cream (and Tabasco for Max). Liz held one out to Max's lips and he parted them to accept the bite. He held her hand there and proceeded to suck each of her fingers into his mouth treating each one to a sensual tongue bath, unable to get enough of her sweet, spicy taste.

Part 4

Liz was startled by her bodies immediate reaction to such a simple stimulus. The feel of Max's lips and tongue sucking on her fingers caused a matching pull in her groin. She leaned in and gave Max a long sensual kiss.

Each enjoyed the sweet and spicy taste of the other as their tongues explored the recesses of the others mouth. Soon they were scattering clothing along the floor as their hands sought out the planes and curves of their bodies.

Max smoothed his hands up Liz's sides and captured a breast in each one, loving the silky perfection of her skin against his callused palms. He lowered his head and suckled her straining nipple deeply into his mouth, lavishly stimulating it with his tongue at the same time.

Liz's body jerked in response and she gripped his shoulders as her hips began moving to the rhythm they had shared earlier. She could feel a flood of new moisture between her legs as Max switched his attention to her other breast.

His hands traveled down her stomach to settle over her dark curls as he lowered them to the floor and stretched out over her. He parted her curls and began to rub his fingers over her pleasure point in a circular pattern.

Waves of his love and awe passed through and she moaned his name and tossed her head at the dual stimulus. Max felt her pleasure through their heightened connection and had to tamp down on his control as he realized how close she was to the edge. He carefully slipped two fingers into her slick opening and her hips bucked up to take him deeper. He began to move his fingers back and forth within her until he located her most sensitive spot and pleasured it exclusively.

Liz came apart in his arms, arching her back and moving her hips in rhythm to prolong the pleasure. As she came down from her explosive orgasm, Max leaned up and kissed her passionately.

Their tongues met and began to imitate the dance of love as Liz let her hands explore his muscular back and massage his hard buttocks, pulling his hips down to hers. She reached under him and guided his pulsing member into her. He sank full length into her. She was made for him! Who would have thought someone as tiny as her could accommodate his body!

Max's pleasure increased as her walls tightened around him, still pulsing from her earlier release. He began to move slowly within her, varying the pace teasingly when he felt her coming close to her peak again.

At last they could take no more and shared their pleasure with a last series of deep, satisfying thrusts. They lay side by side until their breathing slowed.

"If I had known it could be like this I could never have stayed away from you!" Max declared.

"And I would never have let you go!" Liz answered.

"What do you think? Is it time for another shower?" Max asked. Liz's gaze strayed to the hot tub and lit up.

Max followed her thought and picked her up in his arms. He gently lowered her into the bubbling water and slipped in behind her.

He began a gentle massage of her neck and shoulders and after long minutes began to work his way down to soothe the muscles in her slender back. When he had finished he leaned her back against his chest and let his hands explore her flat tummy and ribs, eventually cupping her firm breasts and massaging them until she turned in his arms to straddle his lap.

"I can't get enough of you Max! I need to touch you." Liz moved back and indicated she wanted him to sit on the edge of the hot tub.

As Max moved to comply Liz was mesmerized by his magnificent male beauty. Her gaze wandered from his gorgeous face, his eyes full of love for her, down the strong column of his neck, to his muscular shoulders and developed arms, further down the rippling strength of his chest to his washboard stomach, eventually settling on his obvious arousal.

Liz reached out her hands to the sides of his thighs and began a massage of her own. She worked her strong fingers deeply into his hard muscles from his outer legs to his inner, careful not to brush against his erection. She slowly moved her fingers up his sides to massage his bulging chest muscles up to his shoulders and down his arms. Bracing her hands on his thighs she lowered her mouth over his manhood.

Max's hands tangled convulsively into her hair. Liz used her tongue to stimulate the silky underside of his erection while lowering her head to take as much of him in as she could hold.

She began sliding her mouth up and down, sucking strongly and loving every minute of his obvious enjoyment, his groans of pleasure echoed through the room.

When he could take no more Max lifted Liz up and she wrapped her legs around his waist as he lowered her onto his straining erection. He used his strong arms to raise and lower her, setting a steady rhythm.

Liz cupped his face in her hands and pulled him down for a deep kiss. Their pace quickened and their groans of release were muffled by their kiss.

Max lowered them back into the water and Liz cuddled into his embrace as they relaxed at last.

"We're going to kill each other!" Max mused out loud, amazed at his loves boldness.

"I know what you mean, but I can't seem to stop touching you!"

"Me either," Max admitted, "I don't even want to!"

"Max, what will we do when we get home? I can't stand the thought of being apart from you for even a minute -let alone every night!" Max turned love filled eyes to Liz.

"Marry me Liz." He whispered softly, projecting his sincerity and love.

Shocked, Liz stared back at Max. "We can't! We're too young and what about the future version of you predicting the end of the world if we are together?"

"First of all we're both almost 18, I can change our ID's so we are right now if you want. Second, I think we have already changed the course of events over the last few months. I think Tess has grown a lot, she's not trying to make me love her anymore, and it looks like her and Kyle may be starting something. I think if we explain what could happen if she left the group that she would stay."

Liz let hope stir in her. "When do you want to be married?"

"Now! Today! Let's do it before we go back and then no one can separate us! How do you feel about the Elvis Chapel?" Liz laughed out loud.

They dried each other off, resisting the urge to be together again, and went to put on some of their new clothes. Liz started a list of what they would need for the wedding. A dress, flowers, rings, a license, Max already had a tux thanks to the hotel, shoes... They held hands as they descended to the hotel shops armed with their $2700.

Max waited in a secluded seating area while Liz found the perfect dress and matching shoes. When she went to purchase them though the clerk refused her money and just folded it into a huge box and told her she would deliver it to their room, no charge.

Liz shook her head as she came up to Max, "I guess they're pretty serious about making up for our bad experience!" The same thing happened when they tried to purchase flowers. They went to the jewelers and found a simple wedding set for Liz and a beautiful gold band for Max, but when the clerk wouldn't take their money both Max and Liz protested.

These were their wedding rings and they wanted to be the ones to purchase them. The clerk finally relented and took the $2100 when he saw how upset they would be if he refused. Max shot Liz a puzzled look when she whispered some special instructions to the jeweler. The man nodded and then announced the rings would be sent to their room within an hour.

"It's a surprise!" Liz answered his look with a secret smile.

Max took his and Liz's ID's and changed them back to their real names and made Liz 18 and himself 21 since he had been seen in the casino the day before.

Together they made an appointment in the chapel and signed for the marriage license. When they went back to their room there was a stylist and make-up artist form the salon waiting by the door. It had been obvious to the hotel personnel that they were planning a wedding so they sent up their best people from the salon to pamper them before the ceremony.

The next several hours went by in a rush as Liz's hair was swept up in a classic style and she got a manicure and pedicure as someone else did her make-up. They helped her into her dress and she stared at her reflection in wonder.

While this was happening Max had his hair trimmed and styled and consented to the manicure, but protested at the offer of a pedicure. His tux fit perfectly.

Max called through the door when he was ready and Liz let him know that she didn't want him to see her till they reached the chapel.

The hotel staff assured him they would accompany her safely to the chapel and he started down alone, feeling strange to be parted from her.

They would never forget the next hour as they pledged their eternal love and devotion to each other with the teary eyed hotel staff as witnesses.

Max was stunned that Liz had chosen the exact dress he had seen in his memory/vision earlier. When the brightly sequined Elvis minister pronounced them husband and wife Max needed no prompting to kiss his bride.

With her face framed between his palms, Max gently lowered his lips to hers in a kiss that revealed how much they cherished and loved one another.

The staff sighed and began clapping spontaneously as the kiss continued.

Max and Liz broke apart at the sound of applause. They looked around in confusion, having been lost in their own world. Max picked Liz up and spun her around, experiencing pure joy at the thought of spending a lifetime with Liz. He couldn't resist one more passionate kiss before setting her back on her feet.

"Congratulations kids!" The Elvis minister drawled out and Max and Liz burst into laughter as they linked hands and raced through the rain of rose petals being thrown enthusiastically from all directions.

Before reentering their suite Max once again swept Liz into his arms and carried her across the threshold. Max felt the heavy, unfamiliar weight of the new ring on his finger. Liz had had the jeweler engrave "forever love" on the inside of the band. He hoped she would like his surprise just as much.

"Mrs. Evans, will you dance with me?" Max asked, holding out his hand. Liz thrilled to the sound of her new name.

"Why certainly Mr. Evans!" she smiled back at him.

Max cued the CD with the remote and Liz's eyes filled with tears as Sheryl Crow's "I Shall Believe" came on.

She melted into his arms while the tears slipped down her cheeks because of his thoughtful surprise. Each movement flowed gracefully into the next and when the dance was done they shared a tender kiss and Max swept Liz up and carried her to their bedroom.

They began to slowly undress each other between kisses. When they both stood naked their hands began slow explorations that gradually became more urgent until they were sprawled over the bed facing each other.

Liz lifted her leg over his hip and he entered her in one long stroke. The pleasure built on itself as they felt each other getting closer to the peak. Liz kissed his lips and chin and gently sucked a path down the sensitive column of his neck. Feeling his pleasure build to an exquisite high sent her over the edge and with her hot, slick walls clamping over his turgid flesh Max moaned out his pleasure as well.

They lay panting in each others arms, whispering of their love and devotion until they drifted into a peaceful sleep.

Reality intruded with the shrill ring of the phone and Max groped for the receiver as he squinted against the morning light.

"What?" He ground out, annoyed by the intrusion.

Liz stirred beside him and looked up inquiringly from where her head rested on his chest.

"Get home Maxwell -we've got trouble." Michael stated tersely.

“What’s wrong?” Max sat up, immediately back in “leader” mode.

“Valenti decided to give us a break by not telling anyone’s parents where we went, but he’s got us all holed up in his house together so we won’t be seen around town…”

“That doesn’t sound so bad,” Max slumped back in relief, giving Liz an encouraging look to remove the worry from her eyes.

“Yeah, you’re not stuck here in a two bedroom house with seven people in it getting remodeling instructions from a drill sergeant with a grudge!”

“Just what is Valenti making you do?” Max asked with a half smile, picturing the scene Michael was painting for him.

“He’s decided we can use our abilities and hard labor to build on a new bedroom for Tess. I swear Max, he’s got way too much time on his hands to think out these punishments now that he’s not the sheriff!”

That sobered Max instantly.

“It is our fault that he’s not the sheriff anymore Michael.”

“Like hell Max! He chose to stick his nose in and get involved in our lives and he should have known there would be consequences! I can’t believe he’s trying to take it out on us now just because we needed a break! We just saved the earth from an alien virus –you’d think we could take a couple days off…”

“Listen to yourself Michael!” Max broke through the tirade. “We saved the world from an alien virus that was here because of us. It was our job to fix it!”

“I’m just saying we deserved the break is all. Now could you and Liz get your butts back here so we can all break out of this labor camp and go home?” Michael paused as if just remembering why they were still there. “Is Liz okay? Did they put that perv in jail?”

Max gazed down at his wife as she propped her chin on his chest and gazed up at him lovingly.

“Yeah, they did and Liz is just…. ahhhhhh……fine!” Max wiggled underneath Liz who had begun teasingly kissing and licking her way up his chest.

“You don’t sound so good. Did you have a rough night?”

The concern in Michael’s voice made Max feel slightly guilty.

“Yeah, I guess it was kind of a long.. mnnn…hard night. We’ll try to get a flight out this morning, okay?”

Liz collapsed in giggles.

“The sooner the better Max. We left your Jeep at the airport. Come straight over when you land.”

“Ahh….sure, no problem!” Max gasped out as Liz’s adventurous tongue ranged lower. “I’ve got to go see what Liz is up to…see you later!” With that he hung up and pulled her into his arms. Nuzzling his face in her sweet smelling hair he chuckled.

“You little minx! Didn’t you get enough last night?”

She turned her face to nibble on his neck. “Never!”

Max wiggled out from under her. “I told Michael we’d get a flight back this morning.”

Liz lay back on the bed and practiced her pouty face at him.

“Max, don’t you have just a few minutes to spare for your loving wife this morning?”

“Ahh!” Max growled out in near defeat. Wife! That had to be the best sounding word on the planet! His body hardened instantly at the thought. Leaning over her he covered her mouth in a kiss filled with longing and love before pulling away with a teasing grin. “What I have in mind for you would take more than a few minutes! Now let’s get moving!” He turned away from her before she could change his mind.

“Beast!” Liz groaned into her pillow just before she threw it at his retreating back.

They decided to shower separately to save time since they knew they would be a distraction to each other. While Liz showered Max called down and had the hotel arrange their flight and for breakfast to be sent up.

When Liz came out wearing only a short hotel robe and a smile Max just groaned and shielded his eyes as he scooted past her and quickly into the bathroom for a cold shower of his own.

Liz chuckled as she answered the door to receive their breakfast trays. Standing back to allow the waiter to wheel in the room service cart she was suddenly overcome by a wave of dizziness and collapsed to the floor.

“Miss! Are you alright?!” The waiter rushed to crouch over her to see if she was injured. Just as he touched her face he was hauled off his feet and hurled across the room by Max.

“What have you done to her?!” He screamed in anguish. Not bothering to look where the waiter landed Max gathered Liz into his arms and moved her to the couch. His hands trailed over her body to see what he could fix. She was burning up!

Just as he was attempting to deepen the connection and heal her she fluttered her eyes open.

“Wh..what happened?” She whispered softly meeting his worried gaze.

“I don’t know. Tell me what you remember….he didn’t do anything to you? Touch you at all?” Max waved behind him at the waiter who had gotten up and was edging toward the door.

“ No!!”

“Leave! Now!” Max growled at the waiter without looking behind him to see if he was obeyed. The door slammed loudly.

Max trailed his hands over Liz again. “You feel really hot. Do you feel sick?”

“Just a little dizzy. Max, I’m fine!” Liz pushed herself up to a standing position and braced her hands on his bare shoulder to steady herself. A worried look crossed her face. “Max! Your skin is burning up!”

“It’s why I got out of the shower, I felt really strange…I didn’t know if it was you or me.”

Their eyes locked and Liz slowly drew Max toward her without conscious thought.

“Touch me Max.” She whispered against his throat.

“Yeah, that would be a really good idea.” Max agreed. His breathing quickened as he inhaled her clean scent. He felt the strangest pull to be with her right now. To be a part of her, to connect and be one, body and soul. He placed small kisses over her brow and down her temple to her chin. He nipped the sensitive column of her neck that always made her shiver.

Liz moaned and threw her head back. How could he always make her feel better, always know just where to touch?

As if her moan was a signal, Max lifted her up by her hips and she automatically wrapped her legs around his waist and slipped her arms around his neck. He held her up with one hand and twined the other into her silken hair, holding the back of her head at an angle to kiss her as deeply as possible. Liz’s hips began to writhe against him in an imitation of what was to come. Their motions became frantic as hands moved hurriedly to untie her robe and loosen the towel wrapped to his waist.

Freed of all encumbrance, Max took the one step back to the couch without letting her go and turned to sit with her in his lap. The sweat gleamed on their bodies as they slid eager hands and mouths against each other.

I love you! So glad you’re all right!

I need you! Please, pleeease…now!

Unable to ignore her plea, and feeling her desperate urge to be one, he lifted her under the arms and settled her back down over his straining erection. Unable to move as urgently as he needed to in that position, he flipped her over onto her back on the couch and began a frantic rhythm. She raised to hips to meet him stroke for stroke, urging him faster, harder, gooo!

The kiss grew harsher to match the motion of their hips, tongues dueling for possession of each others mouth. Reaching, reaching…

I can’t be gentle right now!!

Don’t stop!!

Bodies slapped together, urgently primal, hands groped, massaged, raked marks over each other. Their connection heightened and spiraled so they could feel their souls merging, dancing, twining with them, exploding with the love and devotion they had pledged to each other.

When the explosion hit the pleasure exploded back and forth through the bond, reverberating between them for an impossibly long time.

Panting ragged breaths against each other it took several moments before either could attempt to speak.

What was that??

I don’t know what happened!

When Max opened his eyes and really looked at Liz he found his voice quickly.

“What did I do to you?! My God! Liz I am so sorry! Are you all right?”

“Max!! You are covered in scratches! Are you hurt?”

Each was covered in bite marks and red welts that were the beginnings of bruises. Max’s shoulders and back were marked with angry red nail tracks, some of which had drawn blood.

“I swear I don’t know what came over me!”

“Max, it’s all right! The same thing happened to me, it’s…it’s like I couldn’t get enough of you, or get close enough to you.”

“Yeah, that’s what I felt too.”

“I know.” Liz suddenly flushed as images flashed back to her of how out of control they had been. “I wonder if this is what Future Max meant when he said our relationship had been “cemented” after we made love?”

“Do you mean you think we could get this out of control all the time?” Max asked with concern.

“No! Well, I hope not! Not that this wasn’t great, but it might be a tad inconvenient in front of everyone else!”

“Your temperature is back to normal.” Max noted with satisfaction.

“You seem to be able to heal me no matter what you do!” Liz teased with a small smile, noting happily that his temperature was back to normal as well.

“Speaking of which…” Max ran his hands gently over the marks on her body and then his own.

They stood up on shaky legs and finally finished packing.

Their cab driver was happy with his several hundred dollar tip and as they waited for their flight to be called they began to discuss how they would break the news to family and friends.

This could be very interesting!


Part 6

Liz stared out the Jeep window distractedly as they drove toward the Valenti’s house. What had they done? All of a sudden she felt so young. How were they going to tell their parents what they had done? Where would they live? Well, she thought pessimistically, maybe they wouldn’t have to worry about that for long. If her Mom didn’t kill her, then her Dad was sure to make her a widow anyway.

Max reached his hand out to take hers. It didn’t take any special powers to figure out what was on her mind.

“We’re going to be okay. We’ll be together and that’s all that matters!”

Allowing herself to be comforted by his words, she let her head fall against the back of her seat and relaxed for the first time since the plane had landed.

“I know you’re right Max, it’ll just be hard for everyone to accept what we have done. They don’t know all that we have been through in the last two years. They don’t realize how fast we’ve had to grow up. My Mom is going to kill me!!”

“I think you’re underestimating your mother Liz. She’ll be shocked, yeah, but she loves you so much…”

“That’s what you think.” Liz muttered under her breath.

“What was that?” Max asked curiously.

“Nothing! Let’s not talk about my mother anymore, okay? It’s just making me more nervous!”

Liz began searching the back of the Jeep for a ribbon to tie her hair back with so the wind would stop whipping it in her face. Max admired the view for a moment before tearing his eyes away to pay attention to the road.

“With all the girls in this car all the time you would think there would be one stray barrette! Oh! Here we go, this should work!” Liz plopped back into her seat, triumphantly waving a silk scarf. She quickly secured it over her hair.

“It’s so soft, does it belong to Isabel?”

“No, I think it’s Te…Liz! What’s the matter?!”

A low moan had escaped Liz’s throat and she was staring straight ahead. Her pupils were dilated so far that her eyes appeared black, and she was shaking softly.

Max veered off the road and stopped the Jeep with a jerk. Turning quickly in his seat he grabbed Liz into his arms and shook her gently. He was immediately pulled into a vision.

Max and Liz entered the Valenti house and Liz noticed that Tess was mindwarping the others into believing that she was helping with the construction project.

Their friends surrounded them with their faces filled with shock as they shared the news of their marriage.

Tess screamed out in horror that they had ruined everything.

Tess unleashing her powers on everyone in the room saying that they would never remember this after today.

Everyone standing around in confusion after the mindwarp before returning to the project as if no announcement had been made.

Alex collapsing in convulsions.

Max rushing up to try to heal him….

“Ma….Maaax! What’s happening to me?” Liz wailed softly, as the vision finally let them go.

“I don’t know angel, I don’t know!” Max ran his hand through her hair softly to comfort her. He looked down and saw the scarf where it had fallen on the floor at the end of Liz’s vision. Reaching down to pick it up, he looked up at Liz consideringly.

“This belongs to Tess. Maybe when you put it on…”

Seeing where he was going with that theory Liz began to shake her head.

“No, no, no!! I don’t have powers like you! I don’t get visions! And besides, you guys don’t see into the future do you?” Liz looked at him desperately.

“Liz, just because none of us have seen into the future doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. We haven’t fully explored all of our powers yet.”

“Do you really think that I’m becoming like you?” Liz tried desperately to hold back panic at the thought. There had been so many changes recently, so many heartbreaks and tragedy, drama everywhere. Did she really deserve to have one more life changing event heaped on her at this point? Wasn’t life going to be stressfull enough having to tell friends and family that she was married, let alone having to break the news that she was turning into an alien??

“Would that be so bad?” Max looked slightly hurt. He knew she loved him, but was she that scared of who he really was?

“Oh Max! You know what I mean, don’t you? We’ve been through so much! I don’t know how much more I can take!”

“Do you want to touch the scarf again to see if that’s what caused the flash?”

“ No!!” Liz shrank back automatically from the offending garment.

“I think maybe this has something to do with our making love.” Max offered softly. “Maybe our joining together like that has accelerated the development of your gifts. Ava said that when I brought you back that I changed you. I did this to you Liz!”

“Max! Please don’t feel guilty! I love you and that will never change. We’ll deal with this together and figure out what it is okay?”

Max nodded slowly and brought his forehead to touch hers.

“We need to talk about what we saw.”

“I don’t think we can tell Tess about us until we figure out what all this means.”

“You’re right. It looked like she just flipped out when we told her and made everyone, including us, forget about the entire marriage! Liz, how could she do that? I’ve never seen her use a power like that before! She has to be stronger than we thought if she can use her powers like that even on Michael, Isabel, and me all at once!”

“Okay, oh! Well, here’s one good thing, if we can’t tell Tess then we can’t tell our parent’s either!” Liz smiled at Max in relief.

“Leave it to you to find the bright side! Who can we tell? I think Isabel needs to know, she might be able to help us be together if she knows and I’ve never been able to keep secrets from her anyway.” Max looked at Liz for agreement.

“Yeah, you’re right, you definitely need to tell Isabel, and I think we should tell Michael and Maria too.”

“Maria? Are you sure she won’t let something slip?”

“She’s kept your secret for a long time now hasn’t she? And she’ll know something’s different about me the minute she lays eyes on me!”

Max nodded. “You’re right. She’s your best friend, and I trust her.”

“What about Alex? Does he need to know?”

“I don’t know. Did you see him collapse in the vision? What was that about? Did Tess throw extra powers at him, or maybe the stress weakened him. I think we need to figure out if he has a medical problem before we embroil him in more drama.”

“Yeah, can you like, use your powers to scan for illness or weakness?”

“I’ve never done that before, but I can try!” Max smiled at her new enthusiasm for the plan.

“I think maybe I’m ready to touch the scarf again.” Liz told him, boldly reaching out for it.

“Are you sure? I don’t want you to be hurt by any of this.”

“I have to know what’s happening to me Max.” He reluctantly relinquished the soft fabric to her.

Liz twined it through her fingers slowly. Nothing happened. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the item. Her breathing quickened and the flashes began again in sequence.

Max reached out quickly and removed it from her grasp when he saw its effect on her.

“Yeah, that’s definitely not of this earth!” Liz gasped out when she got her breath back. “The vision was the same, and I think we absolutely need to take it as a warning of something that could happen and keep our eyes on Tess!”

They settled back in their seats again, their hands intertwined. Looking down at the joined fingers Liz let out a soft breath.

“I have to hide my ring.” Her eyes filled with tears that she blinked back furiously. I will not let him see me get all weepy over this! It’s just a ring, and it only symbolizes something that has been cemented in our hearts for ages!

“Me too.” Max nodded sadly. He gently slipped Liz’s ring off her finger and closed it into his fist. Liz watched in awe as he reopened his fingers to reveal a newly shaped silver ring that he slipped over the middle finger of her left hand. “That way you can still wear it.”

“Thank you Max! I know it was kind of dumb to be worrying over a little thing like that after everything we just saw, but you knew exactly what to do.”

Max cupped her face in his strong hand. “It’s not dumb, I feel the same way, I want everyone to know that you are mine and I am yours for all time!”
Max took his ring off next and after a brief manipulation he slipped it on his right forefinger. It gleamed silver in a design that almost matched Liz’s.

“I left the inscription.” He whispered gently as he placed a kiss on her soft lips.

In the middle of their kiss it seemed impossible that anything could go wrong.

Part 7

Max pulled over to the side of the road one block from the Valenti house. He pulled in a deep breath and turned to Liz.

“We’re here. We can do this.” He whispered into her hair as she buried her head in his chest. His strong arms surrounded her, pulling her into a tight hug. How can I let her go? How can I pretend that we’re just friends? He allowed his fingers to stroke over her sweet smelling hair for a few moments and then cupped her face in his hands.

“You okay?”

She nodded. Tears pooled in her eyes and then he could see the resolve solidify in her as she straightened her shoulders and offered a trembling smile.

“This is only an act for Tess, when we’re alone we can be together, right?”

“Absolutely! And I’m sure Isabel will help as much as she can to make sure we can have time together. This is only until we figure out what is going on with Tess. We were obviously wrong about her developing a thing for Kyle, so we’ll just pay attention to her reactions to everything and find out how to break this to her without her going psycho on us.” He was convincing himself as well as her.

“Right. Okay. Yeah, we can do this,” she whispered, her eyes never leaving his. She lifted her face and gently brushed her lips over his. Electric. Their eyes drifted closed as their mouths mated in a sweet goodbye kiss that continued until a horn blared two streets over. With one last hug Max released Liz and drove the rest of the way to the Valenti’s.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

“Liz! Oh my God! Are you okay? I’ve been so worried about you, but Michael wouldn’t let me call and Valenti’s had us working all night…”

Maria had been just rounding the house from the backyard when she caught sight of her friend and ran to her.

“Maria I’m fine!” Liz couldn’t help laughing at her friend who had her wrapped in a tight hug that was beginning to cut off her air. She wriggled free as she quickly
could without hurting Maria’s feelings. “Max took really good care of me,” she added to reassure her.

“I’ll bet!” Maria gave her an impish grin and looked carefully between a pink-cheeked Liz and Max, who wouldn’t quite meet her eyes. Hmmmm.

“Well come on in, everyone’s been working so hard and been so worried about you! This will give them a break from worry and work!”

They walked in Maria trailing behind struggling with a pail of paint, and Liz scanned the room for Tess. She found her laying on the couch, just like in her vision, while another version of her appeared to be working industriously on the new addition.

“Max! Do you see this?” Liz whispered fiercely.

“I just see her working on the painting. Do you see something else?”

Liz directed his gaze subtly to the couch by darting her eyes toward it. Tess had not turned to notice them yet, she appeared almost asleep.

Max just shook his head.

In frustration she grabbed his arm and made him look again. Awareness washed over him as he stared back and forth between the real Tess and the vision of Tess working. His mouth dropped open.

“Do you realize what this means?” He whispered urgently.

“We’ll analyze it later, pretend you don’t see her on the couch or she’ll realize we’re on to her.”

“They’re here!!” Maria called out loudly to get everyone’s attention as she banged the door closed behind them.

Liz and Max were quickly surrounded by friends and Liz watched as the real Tess got up and merged with the vision of herself that had been following everyone to the front door. She couldn’t help the small shudder that overtook her as Tess smiled at her and gave her a seemingly sincere welcome back hug.

“I hope you’re feeling better?” She asked in her little girls voice.

“Yeah, I’m doing much better now thanks. They put the guy in jail, and there was enough evidence that they should keep him there for a long time.”

“Good! That scum bag should never have laid his hands on you!” Michael declared with conviction, his eyes glowing with the heat of his anger.

Everyone turned to him with surprise at the vehemence in his voice.

“What? They shouldn’t mess with one of us!” He still didn’t realize how possessive he sounded.

“All right then. Everyone’s okay now, so tell us what’s been going on over here.” Max interjected to save Michael any more awkward looks. What was with him? He almost sounded like he cared about Liz. Maybe too much. He’d have to watch him to see what was up. Max shook his head, he was being paranoid.
“Why don’t you guys show us what you’ve been doing for the last couple days.”

“I can show you that.” Jim Valenti crossed the room until he was standing in front of Liz.

“Is there anything I can do for you?” He asked her gently.

“Thank you Sher… I mean Mr. Valenti, but I’m fine now. Really,” she added at his look of disbelief. “Max healed all my injuries and talked me through last night, I think it was just bad luck and that man was just…”

“Insane!” Michael finished for her, before muttering and walking back to his assigned project with quick, angry steps.

“What is going on with him?” Max asked Maria.

Maria watched Michael stalking away and shook her head. “He’s been more worried than any of us, it’s like he couldn’t get it out of his mind last night. I think he feels like he should have protected her or something, like it was his duty to protect all of us and he messed up. He worked like a dog all night. He probably just needs to rest.”

Max nodded, understanding exactly how Michael felt. He should have been there for Liz also, should have known there was something wrong, done something different to prevent….he had to stop thinking that way. It had all worked out, better than anyone here knew! And he would protect her with his life from now on.

Valenti led them to the back of the house and Max and Liz gasped in awe at the amount of work that had been accomplished overnight. The room was framed, wired for electricity, sheet rocked, plastered, and they were nailing on the trim and painting.

“Wow! I can’t believe what you’ve done!” Liz gasped out.

“Yeah, well with all of our talents combined it doesn’t take much to put up a room like this once we saw the blueprints.” Isabel boasted proudly. She’d never thought to use her powers on a project of this magnitude. This was a far cry from changing her nail color!

“You guys have done a beautiful job on this!” Max complimented them sincerely.

“It’s been work.” Michael glared at the cause of their labor.

“I think you’ve all been punished enough.” Valenti returned Michaels stare pointedly. “I guess you’ll think twice before skipping class and taking off without telling me again. Am I right?”

A chorus of “Yes sir!” “Absolutely!” and “Let’s get out of here!”

“I’ll finish this up myself with Kyle and Tess of course. The rest of you can go.”

“Dad! That’s not fair! I’ve been busting my a… uh, butt working on this and I think we deserve a break too!”

“You can have a break when you two aren’t grounded Kyle, now let’s get busy!”

“Grounded! How long?” Tess wailed, looking over her shoulder at her departing friends.

“One week ought to be enough time for the three of us to get this done and you moved in. Be glad I’m giving you the room at all after the stunt you pulled this weekend! And Kyle, be happy you won’t have to sleep on the couch. Just make sure you’re home right after school every day this week and maybe I’ll let you off the hook this weekend.”

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

“I can’t tell you how glad I am that you’re all right Liz!” Alex pulled her into a big brother hug. “We were all worried about you.”

“Thanks you guys.” Liz’s eyed misted at the sincerity of the faces surrounding her.

“Alex, you look really tired, are you feeling all right?” Liz asked with worry, remembering him collapsing in her vision.

“Yeah, I’ve been tired since I got back from Sweden. I thought it was just jet lag, but it’s not going away. I’ve been thinking about going to see a doctor, but I haven’t had the time…”

“Maybe you could let Max check you out.” Liz suggested, casting her eyes toward Max, who began to nod his head.

“Yeah Alex. Liz and I were just talking about testing to see if my healing ability can be expanded to diagnose illness and stuff. I could try it out on you.”

“Hey, I don’t want to be beamed up to your ship and experimented on! I’ve seen the video’s and I don’t think that’s really the way I want to get cured!”
Alex laughed to show he was joking and dodged back to escape Max’s playful grab at him.

“Okay, Okay!! I’ll let you probe me! But not tonight and only if Liz is there! I don’t want you getting fresh with me! Now I’m going home to bed.” He gave Liz a final hug and jogged to his car that was parked around the corner.

Max had gone still and serious at Alex’s last remark and stared after him until Liz lightly touched his arm.


“Uh, yeah, what were you saying?” He made himself turn to focus on Liz.

“It’s just you, me, Maria, Isabel, and Michael.” She raised her eyebrows significantly.

“Oh. Ohh!” He turned to Michael as he realized the importance of this particular group. “Michael, would it be all right if we all met at your house for a while before the rest of us head home?”

“Yeah, sure, no problem.”


Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
-Robert Frost
posted on 31-Aug-2001 1:26:10 PM
Part 8

“Ok Max you got us all together here, now what’s the big secret?” Michael demanded irritably. It came out sounding gruffer than he had intended. He scratched the back of his neck and rotated his head to get the kinks out. Maria had been right. He’d worked like a dog without even bothering to rest the night before because of his agitation over the Las Vegas incident. He really should have been there to protect Liz; she was a part of their circle. Besides, what if it had been Maria? He shook his head, that thought did not bear thinking! “What can’t wait till tomorrow?”

Liz and Max turned together to face their friends. Now that the moment was here they weren’t sure how to start. Max unconsciously reached back and found Liz’s hand waiting for him. They grasped each other like a lifeline.

They were saved the trouble of having to figure out the words, because the gesture spoke volumes. All eyes were drawn to the locked hands and jaws dropped.

“What the hell?” Michael demanded.

“I knew you two were back together! It was only a matter of time!” Maria squealed out clapping her hands happily. Oh yeah, she was good! She’d seen this coming a mile away! No way anyone could keep a secret from her. All the little clues, the intimate glances, the “Max took really good care of me last night” oh yeah, they were more than just “back together”! She sighed happily, planning on prying all the juicy details out of Liz later.

“So I guess you two worked things out in Vegas? It’s about time!” Isabel smiled. Now maybe all the moodiness and sulking that had landed him in therapy last fall would end!

“Um, yeah I guess you could say we’re back together,” Max smiled shyly. He looked to Liz for help with the next part, his eyes widened in appeal.

“ THIS couldn’t wait till tomorrow?” Michael demanded grumpily. “This is hardly an earth shattering event! Now can I be excused to get some much needed rest Oh Mighty King?” he added sarcastically.

“Michael we needed the three of you here so we could tell you that yes, we are back together, but it’s more than that…” Max looked to Liz and she nodded her encouragement. “Liz and I got married in Vegas.”

For a moment no one moved or spoke. The silence was so sudden that it heightened their awareness of each breath they took. And then all hell broke loose.

“ YOU DID WHAT?!!!! HOW STUPID COULD YOU BE? If you’re supposed to be the responsible leader then God help us all!” Michael fumed, getting in Max’s face.

“My God Liz, how could you do something like that without even telling me?” Maria moaned she had definitely not seen this one coming. “We need to be there for each other! Is this even legal? I mean you’re both underage! Were you just freaked out or something? That’s it! You just needed someone to lean on and there he was! I’m right, aren’t I? What are you going to tell your parents?” Maria inhaled another deep breath as another thought overtook her. She leaned close to Liz’s ear, “What about what Future Max said? That doesn’t all just go away does it? I can’t believe you’d risk the end of the world just to get a little nookie from Max!” As she spoke her volume rose and Michael caught the last of her speech.

“You married Liz just so you could get some? Man if that’s all you needed you could have just gone to Tess! She’d give it up without…” Michael choked as Max caught his throat in one strong hand and squeezed.

“Don’t you EVER even think that what Liz and I share is anything less than pure love! I married her because she is what makes me whole. Without her I can barely think straight! She is the best part of my life and I will not listen to anyone who disparages her or believes that she is anything less than a pure, honest, selfless person… so back off!” With that Max shoved Michael away from him by the throat as Isabel rushed between them to prevent Michael from taking a swing.

“Okay everyone, CALM DOWN!” She swung her head toward Max. “First off Max, you have to understand that this is a major shock to all of us. Have you even thought of the amount of attention this will bring to our group?” At Max’s blank look she stated, “I didn’t think so.” She turned to Michael, whose chest she was firmly pushing back to keep him from Max. “And you! Calm yourself down! What’s done is done and now we have to figure out how to deal with it! We don’t need a testosterone driven fighting match over something we can’t change. Just listen to what they have to say. I’m sure they have a reasonable explanation for this, am I right?” She implored Max and Liz with her eyes to tell her they had an explanation.

“Of course we do Iz,” Liz offered softly, crossing the floor to wrap her arms around Max and transfer some of her calming energy.

“Great! Now let’s all just sit down and listen for a minute. Okay?” Max nodded his assent. “Okay Michael?” Michael reluctantly stepped back, flexing and unflexing his fists, and then nodded also.

Michael, Maria, and Isabel arranged themselves on the couch opposite the overstuffed chair that Max sat in before pulling Liz down to his lap. He really needed to touch her right now. He had shocked himself with the amount of rage that had coursed through him at Michael’s words. He knew Michael often spoke without thinking and regretted his words later, but no one should put Liz down like that! Liz stroked his arm gently before turning to her friends.

“A lot of things happened in Vegas after you guys left,” she began in a matter of fact tone.

“Obviously,” Michael muttered under his breath. “What?” He shot a look back at Isabel and Maria’s glares.

“Let her speak Michael!” Maria implored.

“Go ahead, by all means. This has got to be good!”

Liz started again. “After you all left, well you saw what kind of shape I was in.” Maria nodded sympathetically. “The police came and took our statements, I had to live through the whole experience all over again. That was all right though, because Max was there and he gave me the strength to get through it.” She leaned back against his chest and he circled her tiny frame with his arms.

“When they were through and we were alone again Max healed all of my injuries. We started getting flashes and we just realized that we couldn’t be apart anymore. It’s like we were drawn together by something outside of ourselves. We have loved each other so much for so long and finally all the barriers came down and we just….had to make it official.”

They all just stared at her.

“That’s it? That’s the entire explanation? What was in these flashes? Did they tell you that you HAD to get married or the world would end? I mean what???” Michael couldn’t believe they were going to try to get away with that lame ass explanation. He ran his fingers through his already disordered hair in agitation.

“Michael, don’t start okay? We did it and we’re not sorry. Nothing will change my love for Liz or hers for me. It’s cemented. Got it?” Max’s glare dared Michael to object again.

“Fine! I got it okay? Nice of you to include the rest of us on your major life changing decision!” Michael fumed at Max and then looked down between his legs, his elbows on his knees.

“We should have waited to let you know, but understand this: Nothing would have changed what we did, because it was right and necessary.”

“Necessary? Liz you’re not… pregnant…are you?” Maria interjected worriedly.

“What? Maria no!” Liz blushed with embarrassment.

“Good! I was gonna say, you’re barely back together and I know you guys have always been intense, but this is…” She trailed off as she noticed Liz’s acute embarrassment.

“God Maria! Let it go already!” Isabel insisted.

“Michael actually brought up a good point. Liz and I did have flashes that don’t really make sense. And some other things have happened.” Max looked to Liz for agreement before going on at her nod. “Liz is developing a power of her own.”

“ WHAT? Any other bombshells for us Max?” Michael groaned. He was never gonna sleep tonight.

“What power Max?” Isabel looked at Liz with new interest.

“It seems that she can see into the future.”

A chorus of “How do you know that?” and “Are you sure it was Liz’s energy and not yours?” and “No one can do that, is it even possible?” echoed through the room.

“All right! One at a time! We know because we tested it on the way back. Liz was doing it by herself, but I can see what she sees if we’re making physical contact. And yes, it is possible, we just haven’t tapped into that yet.”

“What did she see?” Isabel asked.

“When I touched a scarf that Tess had left in the Jeep I got a flash of her mindwarping everyone into thinking that she was working while she was really sitting on the couch relaxing.”

“I knew it! I kept having to do things over after she was done, I just thought she was sloppy!” Maria cried out angrily.

“Yeah, well when we walked in I saw her laying back of the couch, just like in my vision and I could also see another version of her working alongside you all.”
Liz shuddered again at the memory of the proof of her vision. If that part was true, then the other part would have come true as well if they had not averted it.
“Max didn’t see anything wrong until I grabbed his arm, and then he saw what was really happening.”

“That sounds like another power as well, if you can see through one of Tess’s mind warps! I can’t believe that she is so strong that she could fool all of us like that at the same time!”

“That’s only part of the story Iz,” Max continued for Liz. “In the original flash of the future we saw Tess flying into a rage after we announced our marriage and she used a new power to make us all forget the wedding, the announcement, everything!” He paused to allow that to sink in.

Isabel was horrified. Who was this girl that seemed so innocent. Could they be wrong to trust one of their own? It seemed like every time things started making sense in her life the world tilted again.

“Why would she do such a thing? Is it all that destiny crap again?” Michael got straight to the point.

“I think I need to tell you guys what happened to me last fall, it’s what’s kept Max and I apart all this time.” She proceeded to fill in Michael and Isabel on the details of what had happened when Future Max came to visit and the lengths she had gone through to protect them all. “We thought that Tess had grown and moved on to care for Kyle, but after that vision we realized that she hasn’t, and we can’t tell her or anyone but you guys, about us until we know what’s going on with her.

“You’re right, we can’t say anything. Do you have a plan to figure out what’s going on?” Michael wondered how far they’d thought this out and if they were even going to consult the rest of them on this important project.

“Actually, we could use all the suggestions we can get. We’re still a team here and we need to work together so no one gets hurt.” Max looked directly at Michael. He was sorry their fragile bonding in Vegas seemed to have been broken, but he hadn’t been able to control his reactions around Michael for almost a year now. It seemed like every time he turned around Michael was challenging his decisions, his leadership.

“Do you think the planet is still in danger?” Maria asked directly.

“We don’t know. Future Max disappeared, which means that that reality no longer exists. I think if we know what we’re up against we can change the future, and maybe that’s why I’ve been given the visions. We’ve already changed that version of the future that I saw with Tess making us all forget, and I never would have known anything was wrong unless I had had the vision, right?”

Maria and Isabel nodded. There was logic to her theory.

Isabel noticed how Liz was now slumped back against Max, and how tired she appeared. “Let’s all go back to our houses and get some rest. We need to think about all this logically, and while I know it’s only 5:00pm some of us have worked all night,” she looked pointedly at Michael, “and I think we will make better decisions after we’ve eaten and slept. Let’s agree to meet tomorrow, just the five of us at say, 3:00pm right here, okay?” They all looked at each other and nodded before getting up to stretch and head for the door.

“Maria, would you mind giving Isabel a ride home? I’m just going to drop Liz off and I’ll be back later okay?”

“Yeah, sure no problem. I’ll see you later Liz,” she leaned in for a hug whispering, “I want details tonight!”

“Maria!” Liz flushed pink again, knowing the exact details Maria was talking about. “I’ll see you later, okay?”

Maria nodded, her eyes smiling.

“You bet you will!”

Part 9

“Hey Mom, I’m back.” Liz tried to edge around her mother to avoid the hug being offered. When would she get the hint? Liz had been avoiding her for months, at times been downright rude to her and still her Mom wouldn’t leave her alone.

“Liz! How was the debate? Did you guys win? It’s strange that you never mentioned it before you just left! We had a really hard time trying to cover shifts for you and Maria both, but we worked it out.” She tried to block out that Liz obviously didn’t want to talk right now. Teenagers! So moody! Especially Liz lately, hopefully she would outgrow this ‘I don’t need you anymore’ stage. It was getting old pretty fast.

“Yeah, sorry about that, it was kinda last minute.” She faked a yawn. “You know I’m really wiped out right now, I think I’ll just go up and rest for a while before dinner, okay?” Without waiting for a response she slipped away to her room.

“Oh, okay. I’ll just knock when dinners ready.” Nancy called at her retreating back, before she shook her head and went back to her chores.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Max was just struggling onto the balcony with her new suitcase when Liz slammed into her room.

“Hey, what’s the matter?”

“My mother just constantly gets on my nerves!” Liz fumed and began straightening up her room agitatedly. “She just can’t leave me alone, and I can’t stand it when she tries to act all motherly and concerned!”

Max watched her pacing around the room moving things from one location to another and back again. Something was definitely going on between Liz and her mom, and he hadn’t been around long enough in the last few months to pick up on it before.

“Liz,” he began hesitantly, “that’s what mothers do…they hover and get concerned and care about their children. Is something else going on here?”

Liz paused with a framed photo in one hand and looked up at him as if trapped. He could see a look of indecision change to resolve as she plunked the photo back down and sat on the bed. He moved to take his place beside her and gathered her hands in his.

“Max you know at the end of last year in biology class when we learned about genetics?” Max nodded his head in confusion at the apparent non-sequiter; maybe Liz wasn’t ready to talk about her mom yet.

“Well, remember when Mr. Harris was telling us about eye color and we charted out the various combinations of dominant and recessive genes?” Max nodded again, Liz was obviously going somewhere with this, but he was still in the dark.

“Max, have you ever noticed what color my parents eyes are?” Now he was really confused.

“They have blue eyes Max. Both of them.” Comprehension dawned and Max gathered Liz into his arms for comfort. He remembered Mr. Harris’ lecture very clearly now, ‘ blue eyes are the result of having two recessive blue genes, people with this eye color can only pass along a blue gene. If a person has both a blue and a brown gene, then the dominant brown gene will manifest itself .’ This meant of course, that it was genetically impossible for two blue-eyed parents to create a brown-eyed child.

Max stared deeply into Liz’s chocolate brown eyes and kissed away her tears.

“Does this mean that you think you are adopted?” Max asked gently.

“No Max, I think it’s worse than that.” Liz could barely look at Max as she revealed the rest of her pain.

“I have pictures of Mom pregnant, bringing me home from the hospital, pictures of me as a baby, I have her feet, her ears; Max I think my mom had an affair!” She burst out and then leaned into his chest sobbing.

Max just held her while gently stroking her back. That would explain her shortness with her mother and several comments she had made lately. He couldn’t believe she had been carrying this around inside for so long.

“Have you confronted your mother with this?” Max asked her after a while.

“No, I couldn’t do that to my dad! I don’t think he knows that I’m…I’m not his daughter!” Liz’s tears streamed down her face again and Max gently brushed them away.

“I just can’t respect her after that Max! I’ve barely been able to be civil to her for almost a year! I mean, I think I still love her, but how could she do something like that to Dad? I could never even contemplate being with anyone but you Max!”

“Of course you couldn’t! But maybe there’s more to the story.” Max was grasping for plausible explanations. “Maybe she was artificially inseminated! Maybe your dad is sterile or something!”

“I’ve already thought of that, but they were so poor back then, there’s no way they could have afforded that kind of a procedure, and I’m not sure how common it was then anyway.”

“I don’t know what to say Liz.” Max began stroking her hair away from her face. “It was a long time ago, and if something happened back then, they have obviously worked it out. She makes your father very happy and she’s always been a good mother, right?”

Liz nodded, not breaking eye contact. Her tears stopped flowing. It was so comforting just being able to share this with someone. Maybe things would be OK. And Max was right, her dad seemed very happy with his family. Maybe, with time, she could let it go.

Max drew her into a tight hug and held her for a long while.

“Okay chica! Give me all the gory…. OH! Hi Max!” Maria stopped in her tracks; she’d really have to learn to knock from now on, she thought to herself. What if she’d walked in on something more…. Okay, Maria, turn off that thought!

“Hey Maria, couldn’t wait for the gory details, huh?” Max grinned at the red flush staining Maria’s cheeks. He’d gotten to know her pretty well last summer, and he knew that she’d soon be grilling Liz for all the juicy details of their marriage and abbreviated honeymoon.

“Well, I uh… just came over to…okay! All right! Inquiring minds really do want to know okay?” Maria gave up with a laugh. “Now can you tear yourself away from Liz long enough for me to pry it all out of her already?”

Max laughed with her and gave Liz a quick kiss, whispering, “Are you going to be all right if I go?”

Liz nodded, “I am now that I know you’re here for me.”

“Always.” Max straightened and headed back for the window pausing briefly to say, “Hey Liz, don’t tell her the part about the hand cuffs and the chandelier, okay?” He ducked out the window to the sound of Liz’s helpless giggles and Maria’s shocked gasp.

“Okay, now I have got to know! Was he being serious? Are you guys already so kinky? How was it?”

“Maria!” Liz groaned, she would not escape this with her dignity if she weren’t careful. “Max was just pulling your chain when he said that! Although the shower and the hot tub were pretty intense!” Her eyes twinkled with mischief as Maria’s eyes widened into saucers.

“You were only gone for one night! How many times could you possibly… this an alien thing? I mean like super stamina or something?” Maria paused, maybe she was getting a little personal, but hey, this was her best friend who told her everything, right? Right!

“I refuse to answer on the grounds that I may incriminate myself.”

“Liiiiiz! Come on! You’ve got to give me something!” Maria wheedled, giving her the puppy dog eyes.

“All right, it was the sweetest most intensely romantic experience that I have ever had. Oh! And when we are together we can read each other’s minds and feel what the other is feeling, I can’t even explain how close that made us feel. It’s just….consuming.” She ended on a sigh, a faraway look in her eyes.

Maria sighed too. This conversation definitely called for ice cream. Maybe that would release Liz’s inhibitions about telling her everything!

Part 10

Max drove toward home, reflecting on all that had happened already that day. Poor Liz! He knew first hand what it was like to wonder about who your parents are. She had him to lean on now and he would always be there for her to talk to and confide in. He ached at having to leave her like that after he had thought they would be together every night of their lives after their marriage. Maybe she would get a surprise visit later….

His thoughts turned to Michael and the blow out they had nearly had. It just didn’t feel right the way they had left it. Before he could talk himself out of it he swung the Jeep around and headed toward Michael’s apartment.

Knocking on the door Max stepped back and took a deep breath. They had to figure a few things out here tonight. Why was Michael on his case all the time? Did he want to be the leader? Why was he sounding so possessive about Liz all of a sudden? That last one rankled, it brought up every protective instinct Max had.

“Come in!” Michael yelled through the door.

Max walked in to find Michael sprawled on the couch, the remains of a take out pizza spread out in its box on the floor in front of him.

“Well, if it isn’t Fearless Leader,” he began sarcastically. “Come to drop another bomb or check for survivors of your fallout?”

“Michael, that isn’t necessary. I came so we could talk this out and figure out where we need to go from here.”

“Oh, so now I’m finally getting consulted? Very noble of you!”

“Is that what this is about Michael? Do you feel like I just jump over your head and do whatever I want no matter who it hurts?”

“Lately, yeah. That is exactly how I feel, and let me tell you it’s getting old and not sitting well!”

“Michael that is not what I meant to do at all! I respect your position within our group. In a way, you’re the strongest of us all, the most equipped to handle whatever our enemies throw our way. I depend on you to be there for all of us….”

“Then how can you justify all the major life changing decisions that you have made for us lately? Marrying Liz?? I mean, what could you have been thinking! Like we don’t get enough exercise hiding from the FBI, parents, and school already. And all that crap this year about blending in and acting normal? You are a junior in high school who’s now MARRIED! How normal is that? I just can’t help wondering whether you’re thinking with your ‘power source’ there or if you really don’t know what you’re doing to us!”

Michael leaned back exhausted from his outburst and the long day he had put in. It felt good to unload and it didn’t look like Max was ready to explode as he had half expected. It would have almost been a relief if he had. Just to have a physical outlet for all of his frustration.

“You’re right Michael.” You could have pushed Michael over with a feather. Those were probably the last words he expected from Max. Fearless Leader was admitting he was right? He glanced out the window to check if pigs were flying. Nope, nothing yet.

“I didn’t consult you before doing this Michael, and I probably should have. This does affect all of us, but I want you to know that nothing could have changed what we did, for a lot of reasons. I don’t know too much about your relationship with Maria, and I’m sure you know more than you want to about what’s been happening between Liz and me for the last year. Knowing all that I think somewhere deep inside you can see that I am a better person, a better leader when I am with her. She completes me in a way I haven’t even been able to justify to myself. I need her. I feel stronger and more focused than I ever have before, and since we have joined, I can already feel my powers taking on a new dimension. It’s like they fit me now, like I can expand them at will….I’m not saying this right.”

Max raked his hand through his dark hair in frustration. “I want you to understand that I did this for the team, and for myself, but also that I couldn’t help myself. I needed to be with her and after everything we’ve been through I feel like we deserve some happiness together. She’s the only thing that I am sure of right now. I don’t always feel like I know exactly what to do about all the crazy situations we have to deal with. I’m just trying to figure out this whole ‘king of another planet, save the earth while you’re at it’ thing. Believe me when I tell you that I am taking this all seriously and I truly believe that Liz was meant to be a part of my life. Just the way I’ve always been drawn to her, from the minute I saw her! Now that she is developing powers of her own, can’t you just think of her as one of us? Can you stop challenging every decision I make and just accept that maybe, just maybe, there is a good reason for what I’m doing?”

“I’m really trying here Maxwell. But I’m sure you realize how big this is. You should have told us.” Michael was somewhat blown away by the passion in Max’s voice and the expression of earnest concern that Michael really understand what he had done. He hadn’t seen him this passionate and strong since…,well, since he’d been with Liz last year. “I actually do think that Liz is good for you, but marriage? Don’t you think that’s taking this a little far? How long do you think you can keep a secret like that? Maria knew you were back together the minute she saw you. What’s to stop Tess from figuring this out?”

“That’s part of the reason I’m here tonight Michael. I want to make sure we can agree on a plan. And Michael, we haven’t told you guys everything yet. We didn’t say anything earlier, but when Liz had her vision of Tess slacking off at the Valenti’s earlier she also saw her reaction to our marriage announcement, and it wasn’t pretty!”

“Wait Max, what announcement? You never…”

“We didn’t make it because Liz and I saw her putting a mindwarp on us all that made us forget that we’d ever gotten married, that we’d ever made the announcement. She just freaked out, and Michael, when she did that Alex just collapsed. I ran up to try to heal him and then the vision ended.”

“Oh my hell, do you think this could get any creepier? Now we don’t just have to worry about our enemies, we have to worry about one of our own making us forget anything she doesn’t like! That’s crazy! I’ve never seen her use a power like that before!”

“Yeah, but would you remember if you had? That is part of the reason we didn’t tell everyone about Liz and me. We can’t afford to let Tess in on this until we know why she’d react like she did.”

“Yeah, I totally see your point about that.” Finally! Agreement about something. Cue the confetti and fireworks!

“Michael, something else. I really want to know why you seem so protective of Liz one moment and so against her the next? Is there something going on with you that I should know about? You…you don’t have…feelings….for her, do you?” Max asked the question that he feared would tear them apart, but he had to know the answer.

“Max! NO! Feelings? You have got to be joking! I’m with Maria, and believe me, she’s all I can or want to handle right now. It’s hard to explain. I DO feel protective of Liz, but I’m not sure why. When I saw her today I just felt like I needed to be there for her, like I was compelled to protect her from any harm. I don’t know! It sounds crazy when I say it like that, maybe it was just me sensing that she is becoming one of us, that she’s changing. But at the same time I think I resent her too. She’s never going to really be one of us, is she? She wasn’t created and sent down here to fight our enemies. Does she even believe in what we’re doing? Why should she care? She’s always had a nice comfy life and will she really want to stick around for all the grimy, dirty fighting that our lives will inevitably become? But you know, I’ve been thinking about that thing you said earlier, about how she gave up all of her happiness, everything really, for the chance to save the world. That was the first time I think I really ever thought about her as strong. She never said a word. She could have just said, ‘screw destiny, I can have fourteen happy years with Max and I’m taking them’, but she didn’t. That’s given me something to think over while you were gone.”

“She’s the strongest woman I know. Believe me, I’ve seen into her soul, and she does believe in what we’re doing. She was going to stay close to us, whether we were together or not, just so she could help the cause. She would never abandon any one of us, she cares too much.”

“I’m just starting to figure that out.” Michael met his friend’s eyes. “So want some pizza?” Max looked at the congealed mess of pizza left in the box and shrugged.

“Sure, why not.” He liberally dumped Tabasco on a slice and took a bite.

“Now how do you think we should handle the Tess situation?” He began, as he settled back against the couch. “We all will have to deal with her in school tomorrow.”

“Well here’s what I think…” Michael launched into his theory on how to handle Tess. He was just enormously grateful that Max had stopped by, maybe this could work after all.

Part 11

Liz flopped back on her bed with a frustrated sigh. Her damp hair fanned around her as she squirmed restlessly. She’d been just fine, really, until Maria had left when her mom called her home to dinner. Alone, she’d unpacked her clothes and straightened her room tidily. She knew she should do the homework she’d been assigned before they cut their last class to fly to Vegas, but she couldn’t make herself sit still. She was even grateful for the distraction when her mom called out that dinner was ready.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

She remained unusually quiet throughout dinner, surreptitiously watching her parents to see how they interacted with each other. Max had given her a lot to think about. Maybe it wasn’t something that she should punish her mother for. Obviously, her parents were very much in love. But did Jeff even know that Liz was not his real daughter? Would it make a difference in how he looked at her if he did?

“What a beautiful ring!” Nancy exclaimed suddenly, breaking into Liz’s thoughts. “Where did you get it?”

“Oh, well I found a really nice jewelry shop when we had some free time last night.” Liz improvised quickly. She couldn’t meet her mother’s eyes. She’d bet money that she was the world’s worst liar. Her eyes always gave her away, they were like windows to the truth.

“That’s great honey, I’ve been looking for a ring like that to match my new outfit. Can I borrow it sometime?”

“ NO!!” Liz couldn’t help the outburst. No matter what finger she wore it on it was still her wedding ring. The rational part of her mind knew that her mother would never have asked if she’d known what significance the ring held for her, but she hardly felt rational at the moment. She felt hot.

“That’ll do Lizzie.” Her dad admonished softly.

Nancy looked crestfallen. She’d always imagined that when her little girl grew up they’d share make-up and jewelry. Talk about boys and school. Be best friends. So far it wasn’t working out that way.

“May I be excused?” Liz implored her father, standing up and begging with her eyes to be released.

“You’ve hardly touched your food honey. Why don’t you….?” Nancy was cut off by an impatient Liz.

“Why don’t you just leave me alone! Do you think I can’t tell when I’m hungry or not? I’ve got a ton of schoolwork to catch up on for tomorrow and all I want is to be left in peace long enough to get it done! Is that all right with you?” Liz’s eyes glistened with unshed tears.

“Honey, are you feeling all right? You look really flushed.” Nancy reached out and placed her hands on either side of Liz’s face. “Oh Liz! I think you have a fever! Why don’t you go lay down and I’ll bring you….”

“I don’t need anything from you right now but to be left alone! Can you do that?” Liz glared at her mother again before stomping away to her room.

“Oh Jeff! When did I lose her?” Jeff rose and put his arms around Nancy and held her while she cried.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Now two hours later Liz was staring at her ceiling feeling remorseful over the scene she had created. What was wrong with her? She’d never been so openly rude to her mom before, and she still hurt from the disappointment in her father’s eyes. Everything seemed heightened today. All of her emotions were swirling through her and she felt like she couldn’t settle them down. She rolled on the bed restlessly.

Where was Max? If only he would come over, he could help her feel better. Help? What a joke! She needed him to hold her, she physically ached for his arms to be around her, and her mom was right, she did have a fever. And it was getting worse.

She’d always laughed at the idea of a cold shower, never taking the concept literally. Tonight she’d been so hot and achy for Max that the thought of a cold shower was actually tempting, so she’d tried it. The water had washed over her and cooled her temporarily. Maybe there was something to this! She smiled softly to herself, proud to have solved her dilemma. Proud, that is, until she lathered a sponge with soap and began rubbing it over her body. Her eyes closed and her neck arched back, a low growl escaping her lips. The sponge took long, slow strokes down her body and her breathing quickened, imagining Max was holding it.

She moved the cleanser slowly over her breasts, circling the sensitive nipples until they peaked rigidly under her ministrations. Her eyes opened and she looked down at herself. Ahhhhh! What was wrong with her? Couldn’t she survive one night without him? She turned angrily in the shower and quickly scrubbed and shaved her body. She realized that even the cold shower hadn’t lessened her temperature.

So now as she rolled onto her back again to stare at the ceiling she only had one thought. Where is Max??

^ ^ ^ ^ ^
Max chuckled conspiratorially with Isabel and his dad as they all secretly disposed of the shrimp flauta flambé that his mother had fixed especially for her children’s return. It had become a game between the three of them to find the most creative ways to hide the evidence of Diane’s culinary disasters. Isabel won tonight, hands down. While her mother was distracted by a comment from her husband, Isabel removed a baggie from her pocket and smoothly transferred the contents from her plate. She had intended on hiding it down her boot and then suggesting a walk with Max after dinner, but Diane ducked under the table just then to pick up a dropped fork. Looking helplessly at her father and brother, the evidence in her hand, she thought quickly and dropped it down her shirt. Max almost choked on his water at the expression on Isabel’s face and her dad couldn’t hold back a loud chuckle.

“What’d I miss?” Diane glanced from father to son, eyebrows raised in inquiry.

”Nothing Mom,” Isabel interjected quickly. “Dinner was a masterpiece, as usual! Excuse me for a moment and then I’ll come back and help you clean up okay?”

Diane nodded, still looking suspiciously at the two men in her life. They thought she didn’t know what they did each evening when she tried out a new recipe. How could she not know? She had to eat it too! One day they’d break down and tell her the truth about her cooking, but until then, well…this was too much fun! The look on Isabel’s face! Priceless!! She hoped briefly that the baggie didn’t leak, laundry was not her favorite chore!

“Okay guys, you clear the table and I’ll get the dishes started, Isabel can dry when she gets back.”

The guys stood up, eager for dinner to be over, they’d be raiding the kitchen later for something edible.

Max swayed when he stood and had to grip the table hard.

“Are you all right?” Diane asked with concern.

“Um, yeah Mom. I must of stood up too fast.”

“Oh, well just be careful.”

“Yeah Mom.” Max took several deep breaths. His temperature was rising fast. He could feel his skin flushing and beads of sweat at his hairline. The dizziness passed momentarily and he helped to clear the table as quickly as he could.

“There you go Mom. Do you need anything else before I get to my homework?”

“You still have homework? You’d better get busy! Tell Isabel that she doesn’t have to help clean up tonight, I’d rather you two get your work done.”

“Okay Mom. I think I’ll just go to bed when I’m finished. That trip really wiped me out.”

Diane looked at her son more closely. He did look wiped out, his skin was flushed and his eyes were glazed.

“You’re not coming down with something are you?”

“No, no Mom. I think I’m just tired, need some rest.”

“All right, good night honey,” she leaned in to give him a kiss.

As he made his way to his room his steps grew heavier and heavier. Something was not right.

“Max! You look awful! What’s going on?” Isabel grabbed his arm and steered him to her room. He sat down heavily on her bed.

“I don’t know Is,” he tried to clear his head so he could figure out what was happening. He felt so restless and … horny?

“Something like this happened in Vegas too, right before we left. Liz and I both ran a fever and ….”

“And what? How’d you get rid of it?”

“I …we…well, um…”

“Out with it already! Tell me what we need to do!” Isabel threw up her hands in exasperation. Nothing like this had happened since Michael got so sick last year. Maybe she should call Michael to go get the healing stones.

“We made love.” Max couldn’t meet her eyes.

Isabel sat back in stunned surprise before smacking him across the back with a pillow from her bed.

“Are you telling me that I was worried sick over you because you’re horny? Go, go!!! Get out of my room!” She grabbed his arm and hauled him to her door, closing it firmly in his face. “I really did not need to know that about my brother,” she muttered to herself.

Max closed his bedroom door behind him. It was just getting worse. He peeled off his shirt and pants and pulled on some shorts. He was so restless that he decided to start his nightly workout a little early. He began a series of push ups and sit ups, before moving to the door to install the bar he used for chin ups. Just as he moved to place the bar in its brackets he realized that maybe he was not the only one suffering. Maybe Liz was passed out on her floor and needed him again or maybe….

He grabbed a T-shirt and leaped out his window. Jumping in the Jeep all he could think about was Liz and being with her. Hang on baby, I’m on my way!

Taking the fire escape to her balcony he leaped over the rail and ran to her window. The closer he got to her, the more he knew he had made the right decision. Liz needed him just as much as he needed her.

His powers unlocked her window and he leaped through. Liz sat up in bed quickly, a breathtaking sight in just a tank top and underwear.

“You came,” she breathed out contentedly holding out her arms.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^
Ten minutes later

Michael screeched his motorcycle to a stop outside Liz’s balcony and wiped his brow. Something strange was going on here and he didn’t know why he had been drawn to come here. The fever that had gradually come over him for the last hour seemed to be lessening. He shook his head, maybe he just needed to take a drive on his motorcycle. He turned back around and drove through the streets of Roswell for a while.

Part 12

Max moved into Liz’s arms as if in a trance. Their eyes locked together and she immediately began pulling up the edges of his shirt. He raised his arms helpfully and then ran his hands down her sides to return the favor. Their lips met and immediately began to move urgently deeper, tongues dueled for dominance and Liz pulled Max over the top of her as she lay back on her bed.

Max’s hands worked busily to remove her underwear as he kissed his way down her belly, pausing to lick and suck her sweet skin. Liz moaned out loud and her body bucked up in invitation.

Knock, knock, knock.

Without raising his head from his task, Max immediately raised his hand to the door and locked it firmly, just as the knob began to rattle.

“Liz honey? Why is this door locked?”

“I’m not wearing any clothes right now Mother, I just got out of the shower!” True enough, Liz thought.

“Well I thought I heard you groan or something, are you in pain? Is it that fever? I’ll call the doctor…”

“ NO Mom!” Liz called out desperately, “I don’t need the doctor. I’m just really frustrated right now!” Max bit the sensitive skin at her navel and she jumped, threading her fingers through his hair.

“I could help you with your homework if that’s what’s bothering you,” Nancy offered helpfully.

“This is something that I have to figure out for myself Mom, but thanks for offering.”

“All right, but you be sure to go straight to bed when you’re finished. I don’t want you getting sick and missing school.”

“I promise I’ll go right to bed. Night Mom!” Liz muffled a giggle as the vibrations of Max’s laughter tickled the skin of her inner thighs. They could hear Nancy’s footsteps fading down the hall. At least she hadn’t really lied to her, she was frustrated and definitely needed to go straight to bed. Her breath rasped in through her lungs as Max’s tongue stroked a sensitive area. Her fingers curled in his hair and she was so ready for him that she exploded immediately.

Max licked and suckled his way back up her body to claim her mouth in a deep kiss.

“I can’t wait any longer,” he gasped out before resuming the kiss.

“Me either,” she responded as she spread her legs further and guided him into her. The first plunge wrought sighs of satisfaction from both of them and as Max set a desperate rhythm Liz matched his pace, urging him faster, harder, deeper.

As their tongues and bodies mated wildly, Liz ran her hands over the sweat slickened skin of her mate. He was the sexiest man alive. She was so lucky he had chosen her. Married her. Wow! Just that one thought sent her over the edge again and he quickly followed. As their bodies arched together in pleasure, they shared another vision.

The man was running to the cave with a box cradled protectively in his hands. Entering the cave he placed the healing stones in their matching slots in the cave wall and tapped out a rapid sequence against them. A hole slid open and he inserted the box and quickly removed the stones. The hole slid closed and the man turned. It was Jeffrey Parker.

Max and Liz gasped at images as they flashed before them. Max rolled to the side cradling Liz close.

“What could that mean?” he questioned aloud.

“I have no idea! Our visions have always been of true past or future events. But I can’t imagine what my father had to do with all of you! I can’t exactly just go right up and ask him either.” Liz was despondent. Was her father keeping secrets from her too?

“We’ll tell everyone in the meeting tomorrow after school, and then I think we should go out to the cave and see what’s in the box,” Max stated firmly. It was good to have a plan.

“Yeah, that’s a good idea.” Liz adjusted herself more comfortably against his lean length. She ran her hands down his chest, just because she could, and it gave her just as much pleasure as it did him. “What are you doing here Max? How did you know….?” She let the question trail off and glanced at him inquisitively.

“It was the same as last night. I got a fever and needed to be with you. It was impossible to ignore. I was drawn to you, and then I started to think that maybe you were being affected just as much.”

Liz kissed him to erase the worried frown that marred his face.

“I had a fever too,” she revealed softly, “and all I could think about was you. Touching you. Being with you. Making love with you.” She punctuated each remark with a kiss to his shoulder, neck, chest.

“What does all this mean? Have I transferred something to you that’s addictive? Or are we just being typical teenagers? We’ve obviously both never been with anyone else, is this what happens to everyone? Will it fade away over time or…?”

“I don’t know Max. I don’t think it’s typical teenage hormones though. It’s too strong. I hope it does fade, but just because it would be nicer for us to be able to choose the time and place of our joining, not be pushed together out of necessity. Future Max never said anything about this, or that it was harmful or anything, you’d think he would have mentioned it, right?” She looked at Max hopefully.

“I think I would have told you if I had harmed you in any way. And he did say we were happy for fourteen years right?” Liz nodded.

“So it won’t kill us. Maybe we should just track it for awhile and see if the severity lessens over time.”

Liz agreed, already planning a chart in her mind. Maybe color coding….

“I love you,” Max interrupted her musings, “but I’ve still got to get my schoolwork done tonight, and maybe I’ll be able to sleep.”

The way he said it concerned Liz.

“Haven’t you been sleeping well?”

“Sometimes I have insomnia is all.” He avoided her eyes.

She took his chin in her hand. “Is that all?” she questioned sharply, not letting his eyes move away from hers.

“Well,” he squirmed in discomfort at the topic, “sometimes I have nightmares, but I’m dealing with it.”

“Nightmares? About what?” Max looked down and pulled away to reach for his clothes. “Oh.” She murmured softly as she realized intuitively what it was. The White Room. He hadn’t been able to let it go yet. She reached out her arms to him and pulled him into a hug. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“Sometime. But not now, is that okay Liz?” His eyes searched hers to see if she was hurt by his response.

“Of course we can talk about it later! Just know that I’m here for you when you’re ready all right?”

Max nodded and pulled on the rest of his clothes. He swooped her into his arms and gave her one more kiss to last the night.

“See you tomorrow. I’ll pick you up okay?” He set her down as Liz nodded. Tomorrow was so far away!

But it came sooner than she would have thought.


Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
-Robert Frost
posted on 31-Aug-2001 1:31:35 PM
Authors Warning: This section contains scenes that involve non-consensual sexual contact between two males. If you are offended by such things please skip this section. It was necessary to establish a future plot point, but, if requested by anyone who wishes to skip this part, I will post a PG version of just the highlights so that you will not be lost in future parts. This is DEFINITELY NC17. If you are under 18 turn back now.

Part 13

Run, run, run!

Liz bolted upright in her bed. She had an overwhelming impulse to get up and goY running? She shook her head and tried to relax back into her pillows. It was only 4:47am for goodness sakes! The compulsion to get moving would not leave her. Reluctantly she crawled from the warm cocoon of her bed and went into the bathroom.

Run, go, run!!

The impulse grew stronger and she began to move faster, barely taking time to brush her teeth, she dragged her hair back into a ponytail and pulled on a pair of form fitting running pants. Leaving her red tank top on she grabbed a sweatshirt and wrapped it around her waist as she stuffed her feet into her running shoes. Exiting through her window she went quickly down the fire escape and took off running through the streets of Roswell.

She set a steady rhythm for herself. She had begun running last year when it seemed that she was doing so much of it to save her life. It seemed like a good idea to be able to outrun her enemies. It also gave her time to think and sift through the mess that her life had become since last May when she had learned Max=s destiny and had forced herself to walk away from him so that he could fulfill it. Step, step, step. Usually she ran at the track after school on the days she didn’t have to go straight to work, but she had never had this urge to run through the dark streets of Roswell before dawn.

Her feet seemed to know where she was going and she ran steadily and strongly into one of the nicer neighborhoods.

Never again! Never again!

This was getting scary! What was happening? Liz couldn’t make herself stop. What did this voice in her head mean? Never again what? The voice was familiar but not. Almost scared, definitely focused, and vaguely harsh. Could it be…Max! It was Max! She ran faster, he must need her if he was reaching out through their new connection like that! Her feet led her around one final corner just as Max raced by her from another direction. He hadn’t even seen her! She sprinted to catch up with him and reached her hand out and grabbed his shoulder.


Her query ended in a scream as Max turned and flung her back eight feet into a neighbor’s rose bush.

“Never again!” He yelled out harshly as his shield came up in front of him.

“MaxYit’s me Liz!” And she could see the moment recognition dawned over his face and his shield came down. He was by her side the next instant, helping her to her feet, the apologies flowing almost faster than he could say them.

“Oh my God! Liz! I thought you were…I’m so sorry! I didn’t know it was you! Are you hurt? I don=t know what…”

“I’m fine Max! I’m okay! Now just what is going on here? Why are you out here running alone in the dark? Is someone after you? Do we need to gather the rest of the group?”

“No. No! I’m fine. I go running every morning. Please Liz tell me I didn’t hurt you!”

“It’s just a few scratches Max. I’ll be fine.”

« Let me see. » He gently took her arms and assessed the long ugly scratches that the thorny rosebush and gouged into her delicate skin. “Oh Liz! Let me heal those!”

“No! Max we’re right out in the open, anyone could see! Let’s go back to your house and you are going to tell me exactly what is going on with you!” She tugged her arms free and took off running toward his house knowing he would follow.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Diane Evans was having a terrible time getting back to sleep. She had thought she heard a noise about an hour ago and hadn’t slept since. Finally she gave in to the urge to get up and check on her children. First she peeked in on Isabel since her room was the closest. Seeing her daughter curled safely on her side and tucked securely under the covers she quietly closed the door and proceeded to Max’s room. Max, what is going on with you?

She didn’t know what to do with him anymore. She knew that something was bothering him, but he would never talk about it with her. She had tried to be understanding and patient, had even sent him to a therapist thinking that maybe it would be easier for him to share things with a stranger, but nothing seemed to really help. He was always so tired looking in the mornings and it seemed like he had to make an effort to act normal around everyone, like it was forced.

She shook her head as she slowly turned the knob of his bedroom door. Just as she had the door open a couple inches she was shocked to see him crawling in his bedroom window. Her shock was compounded when he turned back to the window and helpedYLiz Parker? over the sill after him.

“Okay Max tell me what is going on with you?” Liz demanded softly.

Diane inhaled sharply. That was exactly the question she had wanted the answer to for almost a year! She swallowed back her unease at the thought of eavesdropping on her child and settled back to listen to his response.

“Liz, first just let me…” he took her arms in his hands and Liz could feel him gathering his energy to heal her scratches. He ran his hands over them and they disappeared instantly.

Diane’s eyes widened, her son had just healed Liz Parker!

“Thank you Max, that feels much better. Now talk to me!” Liz implored him urgently.

“Liz this isn’t something that I’ve been able to talk to anyone about before, you don=t need to hear all the ugly…”

“Max! I am your wife! For better or worse and I meant that when we spoke our vows! If something is upsetting you to the point that you don’t even recognize me then I need to know what it is!”

Max flinched at her statement.

“Sit down Liz.” He gestured to the bed.

Liz arranged the pillows against the wall and leaned back against them drawing Max down to sit beside her.

“This is about the White Room isn’t it?” Max=s expression gave her the answer. “Are you saying that you haven’t ever talked to Isabel or Michael or…or Tess about what happened to you? How could you keep that kind of thing bottled up inside you for almost a year?”

“I kept thinking that I would get over it eventually, and we’ve had so much going on and I had to be strong! Be a king! They needed to look up to me, not see me as some scared, weak little…”

His voice trailed off in misery.

“When you were seeing that therapist last fall did you ever try to tell him what was going on inside you?”

“No! Liz, what was I going to say? Gee Mr. Therapist I’m an alien from a planet far, far away and I’m having trouble working through my issues since the Alien Hunting Unit of the FBI captured me and tortured me for two days last May just before I discovered my destiny is to lead my alien squad to save the Earth and my home planet from evil aliens who have been trying to kill us for the last few months. Oh yeah, and I have woken up every morning since with terrible nightmares of the White Room and what they did…”

“Okay! I get it! You could never tell him stuff like that. You’ve had nightmares every night?” She caressed his cheek tenderly, looking into his anguished eyes.

He slowly nodded. “I keep thinking, if I had only been faster, stronger, then they would never have caught me! And every night I work out until I=m exhausted enough to sleep thinking maybe tonight it won’t happen again, maybe I’ll get to wake up like a normal person and not have fear choking me, and every morning I wake up trying to hold back the screams so my family doesn’t find out what a mess I am, and I force myself to be brave enough to go out in the dark alone and run. I just keep running faster and faster and I just chant in my head Never again! Never again! Because I will not go back there again! It would kill me, and I’d rather be dead than go through that again!” He finished on a sob, unable to meet her eyes, and Liz gathered him close so she could cradle his head to her chest.

“You need to show me what happened to you there.” Max began to shake in her arms.

“Believe me, you don=t want to see it, and I don=t want to expose you to…”

“Show me” She insisted emphatically.

He reached out his hand for hers and when they had made the connection he struggled to open that part of himself that he kept locked away, that only came out when his guard was down in sleep. He closed his eyes in concentration and buried his head against her body. He could not look at her while these memories were pouring over him.

Liz gasped in surprise. The intensity of their connection combined with the strength of Max’s memories to cause an actual image to appear in front of her in the room. It played before her like some sick movie.

Max running from the FBI agents until they overcame him.

The sharp prick of a needle in his arm and the sudden sense of disorientation and weakness that swept over him.

Being forced face down on a gurney and transported in a van to a strange location.

The sharp taste of fear in his mouth as they wheeled him into the White Room.

The utter confusion when they left him there with no clue of what was to come.

His futile struggle against the three men who came in and stripped him of his clothes.

He was so weak, so weak!

They hauled him up onto a narrow bed and strapped his hands to the sides and his ankles to the bottom corners. His powers didn’t work and his body wasn’t strong enough! His fear built by leaping degrees when another man came in. This one was in a full decontamination suit and he couldn’t see who it was.

The man proceeded to take samples of skin, saliva, sweat, stool, and blood. These were all things that Max expected. They had all imagined the worst if one of them should be captured. He thought he knew what to expect, but what came next had never even entered his worst nightmares.

“Max, you=re going to love this!” The man’s soft voice was vaguely familiar and he only later realized that it was Agent Pierce. Max watched apprehensively while Pierce removed the glove from his right hand and stroked it down Max’s hip. Max leaped up as far as he could in his restraints. “ NO!!!!”

“Now Max relax, you’re really going to enjoy this and it’s the only way to get the other sample I need! Now lay back like a good alien and let me do this or I’ll call the other men back in here to hold you down and watch.” Pierce’s tone started out soft and reasonable and ended on a menacing note.

Max just stared at him in horror and knew that Pierce would get what he wanted. He lay back and shuddered when he felt Pierce wrap his hand around his cock and stroke it.

He tried to make his mind retreat back so that he wouldn’t be conscious of what was happening to his body, but Pierce kept up a running stream of conversation about how much he was going to enjoy this and how responsive his body was to his touch. The sound of his voice kept pulling him back from his retreat and he was ashamed and disgusted with himself when his body betrayed him with its natural reaction to a direct stimulus. “You can pretend I’m your pretty girlfriend Liz if you want.” Pierce intoned gently while stroking Max roughly.

“You animal!! Don=t ever say her name!” Max leaped up again in a rage.

“I’ll call in the men if you don=t lay back right now!” Pierce threatened.

Max lay back down, weak from the energy he had expended with his protest. As Pierce continued the manipulation of his body Max realized that there are things worse than death. It was at this point that he gave up and actively willed himself to die. But even that was out of his control and Max’s seed finally erupted into a specimen jar that Pierce had ready.

As he felt himself spilling his seed Max could not stop the sob in his throat or the tears from pouring down his face.

“Interesting, it’s almost like you have human emotions.” Pierce noted impartially. He casually picked up another specimen jar and took a sample of the tears.

Max took a deep breath and promised himself that he would not voluntarily give up any more of himself to this monster. That promise was immediately broken at Pierce’s next statement.

Running his bare hand casually down Max’s chest and leaning close to his ear so that only he could hear, he softly caressed a nipple and said evilly, “I told you that you’d like it, and you’re going to be here for years! The nights are long and I’ve got so much to teach you!”

Max gagged and began to choke on his vomit. Pierce immediately pushed him to a sitting position and slid his hand tenderly up Max’s back to support his neck, his other hand holding a basin to contain the mess. When the retching subsided he gently eased Max onto his back again and cleaned his face with a warm cloth. He beamed at Max approvingly. “I didn’t think we=d get a vomit sample until we really got started!”

They hadn’t even started yet? They’d raped his body and soul what more could they take from him? He was about to find out.

Pierce left him there naked and strapped to the bed for what seemed like hours. Max knew that this was just to humiliate and degrade him and it worked. He was almost pitifully grateful when a man came in later and released him from the restraints after giving him another shot and then handed him some scrubs to put on. He leaped into the clothes faster than he thought he was capable of.

“You’ve seen most of the rest,” Max interjected to Liz in a voice devoid of any real emotion.

He allowed the images of the torture that followed to flow quickly through the connection.

The electric shock, the endless interrogation, the ice baths, the drugs.

And all through this Liz could sense that he had hung on to her. His image of her and the purity of their love had given him strength to persevere and the will to survive. He endured everything that came after for the promise of being with her, of being cleansed by her and loved by her. He had to be strong to be worthy of her.

Shaken by all that she had seen Liz let out a shuddering breath and broke the connection. The images that had flooded the room were gone abruptly and Liz sighed with relief. Guilt rushed through her as she realized that she had walked away from him right after he had learned his destiny, when he had needed her the most.

“I’ve only had two nights without the nightmares since it happened. One was the night you rescued me and I slept in your arms, and the other was the night before last when you married me and we made love and I fell asleep wrapped up in you. I…I had hoped that maybe now that we are together that the nightmares were gone, but last night…”

He still couldn’t meet her eyes. Liz gently took his face in her hands and turned it to look at her. Tears streamed down both of their faces and she gently began placing soft kisses over his cheeks and eyes murmuring her love and reassurance over and over.

Max groaned and pulled her in closer. His lips sought hers hungrily and his tongue gently parted them. Her love and acceptance washed over him in waves, and he knew it was real! She really didn’t think of him as weak and shameful, but as beautiful and strong. Max finally let go of his guilt and rage and poured all of his love into their kiss. His hands began to remove her top as hers moved to strip him of his.

Diane gently eased the door closed and leaned back against the wall. She had collapsed to her knees at the images that had assailed her. There was so much to process! Max! Her little boy was an alien? Not only that but he was a king? And all those times he had been missing last year he had been in mortal danger, and even tortured and abused and she had never known! Guilt washed over her. Shouldn’t she have tried harder to figure out what was wrong with her son? He had carried that around for so long! And what was this about he and Liz being married! My God! Her son was a married man and she hadn’t even known they were dating! He was in his room right now making love to his wife! Diane got up on shaky legs when she began to hear soft moans through the door. She vaguely felt that she should stop what was happening, but after what she had just seen, what her son had survived without aide or comfort, how could she ever deny him the only comfort and solace he had been able to find for the last year!

Plans for how to let him know that she knew and how to keep Liz close to Max so the nightmares would stop began rushing through her head as she started down the hall on shaky legs to her room.

Part 14

They came together slowly, each touch an affirmation of love, each caress a promise to always be there for each other. They shared long slow kisses and murmured words of love and passion. And when they finally joined, the connection spiraled around them expanding to bind body, heart, and soul.

When their breathing slowed, they lay twined in each other’s arms, wrecked from the avalanche of emotions and exertion they had endured that morning. Liz cradled Max’s head to her chest as slow tears trailed over his cheeks and she rocked him gently back and forth. His grief and pain was released from the bond they shared as her support and comforting love rushed through to buoy him. Never had he felt such complete acceptance of himself. The awesome amount of shame and guilt that he had carried for so long, once shared, seemed so much lighter. The past was over, never to be repeated, and he lay in the loving arms of his future.

Isabel walked by Max’s door on her way to the kitchen and thought she heard muffled crying. Curious, she eased the door open and stood there shocked at the sight that greeted her eyes. Liz’s head was bent over Max, her lips in his hair, as she gently rocked his crying form. Both were completely unclothed and absolutely oblivious to her interruption. Isabel was washed over with the emotions that reverberated through the room. She had interrupted an intensely private moment and she eased the door closed again quickly.

What was wrong with Max? Something had to be really wrong for cool-headed Max to take a chance of getting caught like that in their own house. What if their mother had walked in? Isabel quickened her pace to distract her mother away from Max’s room in case she had any plans on waking him early.

“Good morning Mom! You’re up pretty early. Is that a new robe? What’re you doing up?” Isabel inquired too brightly. Tone it down a notch girl, she thought to herself, you’ll make her suspicious for sure!

Diane turned at her daughter’s voice and embraced her in a fierce hug, distracted enough by her own thoughts that she didn’t notice Isabel’s flustered tone.

“Gee Mom! It’s nice to see you too!” Isabel eased back a bit so she could breathe better. “Is something wrong?” Now worried, Isabel stepped back from her mother to look in her face. Diane appeared strained and preoccupied. Had she found Max and not said anything? No. Mom would have booted Liz out in a heartbeat and made Max apologize to her parents for corrupting there daughter. Maybe she knew the reason for Max’s grief.

“Did someone die or something?” she asked hesitantly.

“Oh no dear!” Diane exclaimed. “I just really missed the two of you while you were out of town and I got all sentimental thinking about next year being your last year of school and then you’ll both be gone to college. You two are growing up so fast!” Diane was improvising, but her words were all too true. Her children were growing up faster than they should.

As she looked at her daughter she was struck by the thought that maybe she was an alien too! How was this possible? Diane stroked her hands down Isabel’s cheeks and looked at her with new eyes. All those times it seemed that Isabel wanted to tell her something, all the evasions about Max and Isabel’s origins before they were found on the road. It all came together that these two had never felt they could share their unique heritage. And it hurt that they felt they needed to keep it from her. She stood up straighter. She knew now, and maybe she could have Isabel help her with her plan to aid Max.

“Honey, what are you doing after school today? I thought maybe we could spend some time together.”

“Well, right after school a group of us are meeting over at Michael’s for awhile, and I’m not sure how long we’ll be. Can we get together later?”

“Sure honey, after dinner sometime?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure we’ll grab some dinner before we come home.” Isabel tried not to make it obvious that they preferred to eat elsewhere.

“Will Max and Liz be over there with you?”

Isabel looked up sharply at her mother, making Diane realize that she wasn’t supposed to know that Max and Liz were back together and she should not have paired their names like that.

“And Maria, Alex, Kyle, and Tess?” she tacked on quickly.

Isabel still looked a little suspicious, but answered anyway.

“No. Kyle and Tess are grounded for the week and I think that Alex has some computer project he’s researching today, but the rest of us will be there. So what’s for breakfast?” Isabel opened the fridge and hoped her mom would accept the change of subject.

“Well, I haven’t really decided yet. I was thinking maybe papaya kiwi pancakes. I saw a recipe on the cooking channel the other day and I think I remember how to do it.”

Isabel missed the twinkle in her mother’s eyes and tried not to gag at the thought of that odd combination.

“You know, I’ve got a little extra time this morning, why don’t you sit down and drink your coffee and I’ll fix you some waffles for breakfast Mom?”

“Oh, if it isn’t any trouble dear, that would be lovely.”

“Believe me Mom, it’s no trouble at all!” She began rooting through the cupboards, thinking that she was saving both Max from discovery, and herself from food poisoning at the same time.

Her mom sat and watched her daughter moving through the kitchen. They would definitely get a few things straight after dinner.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Max sat up slowly, it felt odd to leave Liz’s arms after what they had shared.

“What time is it?” He inquired, suddenly thinking that the sun was awfully bright.

“It’s almost seven,” Liz answered after glancing around for his alarm clock. “We need to get ready for school, and I need to get back home right away.”

“Liz…I….Thank you!” Max looked in her eyes and saw only understanding and love. They reached out and embraced tightly one last time. Each moved away to search out their clothes, moving quicker when they heard cupboards banging closed in the kitchen.

Liz stopped with one foot over the window sill and turned back to blow Max a kiss.

“I’ll see you in school okay?”

“Yeah. Oh! That reminds me! Michael and I talked about what to do about Tess in school today. I’ll talk to Isabel this morning and he’ll talk to Maria before school. Everyone is going to be on the lookout for Tess for the next little while to figure out what her plan is and to distract her from us. We’ll take rotations monitoring her and report back to us with any unusual activity. We’ve compared everyone’s schedules so we know who’ll take what shifts while we’re in school, and they’ll make sure they warn us if she’s coming our way when we’re together.”

“That’s a good plan you two came up with.” Liz sounded impressed.

“Actually, Michael thought up most of it.” Max admitted.

“Good, let’s see how it works today and we can fine tune any kinks at our meeting at 3.”

“It’s going to seem like such a long day if I can’t touch you or hold you like I want to.” Max’s eyes were sad at the thought.

“It’s just for a while, and then we can be together always!” Liz reassured both him and herself, hoping it was true.

Max took her hand and kissed her wedding ring.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Part 15

Max entered the kitchen grinning. Fresh from his shower, he felt cleansed and lighter of spirit than he had in ages.

“Mmm...something smells good!” he complimented, as the smell of waffles drifted to him. He walked to where Isabel stood by the sink. He leaned in to give her a kiss on the cheek. “We need to talk on the way to school,” he whispered for only her ears.

“Yes we do,” Isabel agreed, staring at her brother with puzzlement. How had he gone from abject misery to joyful happiness in so short a span of time?

Max took a plate and went to the table. Diane had been unable to take her eyes off her son. Looking at him now, so happy and carefree, made what she had seen before almost unreal. How had he been able to endure in silence for so long? His happiness strengthened her resolve to make sure Liz became a permanent part of his everyday life.

Max leaned down to give his mom a good morning kiss as well. He was surprised when she stood and took him in a fierce hug, reluctant to let him go. He hugged her back, wondering what was wrong. He shot a look over Diane’s shoulder to Isabel. She walked over toward them.

“Mom’s started thinking that we’re growing up too fast and leaving the nest soon,” she clarified for Max.

He kissed his mom’s cheek again and held her back from him, “You still have us for another year and a half! You’re sure to be sick of us by then,” he joked.

“I will always love you and want what’s best for you, you know that, right?” Diane startled both of her children with the intensity of her question.

“We know that Mom,” Isabel answered first.

“We love you too,” Max added, his smile dimming, as he wondered if maybe something else was wrong.

Diane realized that she was over the top with her actions this morning and forced herself to step away from Max.

“Oh, listen to me! I’m acting like such a mother hen today. Eat! Eat! You two need to get ready for school. I’ll start cleaning up.” She busied herself around the kitchen, restraining herself from too many furtive glances at Max.

Max and Isabel quickly ate and finished getting ready for school.

In the Jeep, on the way to school, Max filled Isabel in on the plan to keep track of Tess.

“You have her in first and third period, so just pay attention to what she says and does, and let us know if anything seems unusual. Also, if you see her coming when Liz and I are together, try to give us a warning so we don’t appear too close.”

“Speaking of too close, just what was Liz doing in your room this morning Max? You need to be way more careful than that! What if Mom had been the one to walk in this morning instead of me?”

“You…you walked in on us this morning? What did you see?” Max couldn’t even look at her. His face flushed red with embarrassment at any of the possibilities of what she could have witnessed.

“Don’t worry Max, I wasn’t traumatized for life or anything, although I think it’s pretty obvious what you had been doing. I just saw Liz holding you and both of you were crying. Is there something wrong that I should know about?” She held her breath, truly hoping he would share it with her.

“That’s kinda private Iz, between Liz and me for now, okay?” A wave of relief rushed through him, until he realized that neither he nor Liz had been wearing any clothes at the time Iz had walked in. Another flush stained his face. He may never be able to look her in the eye again!

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Michael woke up groggy, feeling like he hadn’t gotten any rest. Strange dreams had plagued him, but now seemed just out of reach. It felt like he’d been running all night. He stretched and got reluctantly out of bed to head for the shower. He needed to get ready fast if he wanted to see Maria before school. His steps quickened at the thought of seeing her. She always got his blood pumping, in both frustration and desire. At least she was never boring. He always had a hard time trying to reason out his feelings for her. In a way he knew it was dangerous to get too close, but he had to fight himself to remain aloof. Maria seemed to understand his conflict. Most of the time.

He revved his motorcycle and took off for Maria’s. He pulled in behind her just as she was backing out of her driveway. She hit the brakes, barely missing a collision.

Maria slammed out of her car and stalked over to Michael, getting right in his face.

“Just what was that stunt all about? Don’t you think I have enough trouble keeping Mom’s car in one piece without you endangering your life with a stunt like that?”

Ahh…sweet Maria! He couldn’t suppress the small grin before she saw it, causing the predictable smack to his upper arm. Ow! The girl had swing on her, that’s for sure!

“We need to discuss our plan regarding Tess,” he barked out like a challenge.

“Don’t you think you could have called to say you were coming over? Is this going to make us late to class, because some of us are trying to graduate eventually you know.” She couldn’t help the sarcasm dripping from her tone, it came so naturally in conversation with Michael, and really, he wouldn’t expect any less of her.

“I just wanted to fill you in on what Max and I came up with last night.”

“Oh, now you and Max are having secret meetings and making plans for all the rest of us?” Maria really hated being out of the loop.

“No! We’re not having secret meetings. Max just came over to talk and we thought it would be a good idea to have a plan before we all went to school, but if you’re not interested then we’ll just leave you out.” He turned as if to leave, and as he predicted Maria spun him back around.

Those were fighting words, of course. “There is no way you are leaving me out of anything Michael! Now what’s the plan, maybe I can make it better.”

Rolling his eyes, he told her what they had come up with.

“You have Tess in 6th and 7th period, so that’s your assignment, and keep a lookout for Tess when you’re with Liz and Max together, so they don’t do anything stupid in front of her.”

“Yeah, they seem a little out of control when they’re together. Maybe it’s just euphoria from finally getting together.”

“Yeah, they seem to be pretty close. Did Liz share the details last night?” Maria and him had always been able to talk comfortably about their friends lives.

“She didn’t want to get into details, but I pried a few things out of her. Apparently it was pretty explosive!”

“Really? Not literally I hope.”

“No Michael of course not!” Maria snorted. “But I wouldn’t put it past them,” she added upon further reflection.

“Wanna follow me to school? We can walk in together.” Maria asked, trying not to act like she cared what his answer was.


Her heart made a tiny leap as she got into her car.

Part 16

Max and Isabel walked toward Liz’s locker to confer with her briefly before class. Max saw Michael and Maria with their heads together, coming toward them down the hall. They snapped apart, looking slightly guilty, when Maria spotted Max. Her face flushed lightly and Michael regarded Max with a new respect. Maria had given him all the details that she had been able to pry out of Liz and, while not graphic, they made him look at Max in a new way.

“Hey Max, how’s it going?” Maria asked with interest. “Where’s Liz?” She looked behind him, as if expecting Liz would pop out any second.

“We’re heading to her locker to see her now,” Max answered with an amused grin.

“Well aren’t you cheerful this morning!” Maria was happy to see the smile on Max’s face.

“Max! Max! Wait up!” Tess wound her way through the throngs of teenagers milling in the halls.

Everyone looked at each other and unconsciously straightened their shoulders. The battle was about to begin, ready or not.

“Oh, hi everyone.” Tess finally noticed the others surrounding Max. She turned back to him and took his arm. “You would not believe the night we had last night! Jim made us work until way after dark, but we finally convinced him to let us stop long enough to eat, and then I just charmed him into letting us off the hook for the rest of the night!” She flashed him a smile and tried to lead him away from the others.

“Yeah, I heard you were grounded for the whole week, that’s too bad.” Max tried to act appropriately sympathetic.

“We’ll see about that.” Tess said under her breath, just loud enough for Max to hear.

Max felt a tingle in his connection to Liz and knew she was approaching. He steered Tess back to the group.

“Liz!” Maria exclaimed when she caught sight of her friend, “How’s it going? You feeling okay today?”

“Yeah,” Liz answered with a small smile for Max, “I feel great.” Liz turned to Maria and tried not to look at Max again. Tess was clinging to his arm and staring at her strangely and she didn’t want to make her suspicious this early in the game.

“Sooo.. did you get your homework done?” Maria asked innocently.

“Most of it. I think I better finish up my science paper in the library before class starts.” She opened her locker and stuffed in her backpack, removing the items she needed for her science paper and first period. “Well, I guess I’ll just go…”

“See you later Liz,” Tess sang out. “So Max, I was thinking that maybe you and I could get together after class to work on your memory retrieval, what do you think? Three o’clock at your place?”

“I thought you were grounded Tess. And I’ve already made plans with Michael after school, so some other time okay?” Max removed his arm from her grip, trying to make it look like he had to adjust his backpack. “Well, I’ve got to finish up some homework too, so I guess I’ll get going.”

“I can help you with that!” Tess piped up.

“It’s advanced chemistry Tess, so I’m on my own. See you everyone!” He made his escape in the opposite direction that Liz had taken. The gang all noted Tess’ dejected posture as she stared after him.

Maria tried to chat with Tess, an almost impossible task given her intense dislike for the girl. Isabel noted her bumbling attempt at small talk and stepped in smoothly to assist.

“I can’t believe Jim is treating you and Kyle like that! We all did it. You really got the raw end of the deal Tess.”

“Tell me about it! I’ve never had to work so hard in my life! I’m actually sore from building that damn room! Not that it won’t be nice to have my own room and quit having to listen to Kyle gripe about sleeping on the couch!” Isabel steered her down the hall to her locker.

Maria turned to Michael. “That girl is so…so…ohhh, I can’t stand her! Did you see the way she was all over Max? It’s like she thinks she owns him or something! Disgusting!!” She shivered with distaste. “Michael, I think we’re going to have to count on you and Is to distract her, because I honestly can’t think of two civil words to say to her!”

“You’ll do just fine Maria, you can always think of something to say.” Michael hugged her briefly.

“Hey guys, how’s it going?” Alex walked up appearing tired.

“We’re fine Alex, you look tired though. Didn’t you get any sleep last night?” Maria asked with concern.

“Yeah, I haven’t felt really rested for awhile though. Maybe I will let Max work his whammy on me.”

“The sooner the better, don’t you think?”

“Yes Mom!” Alex joked, “I’ll go to Dr. Max right after school, okay?”

“Max has plans after school.” Michael broke in shooting Maria a look.

“Yeah, maybe later tonight he can give you a call or come over to your house.” Maria, Michael, and Alex walked together toward her first class.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

“Hey baby, how’s it going?” Max leaned over Liz’s chair from behind to give her a sweet kiss on the cheek. She had chosen a table that gave them some privacy from curious eyes.

“Better now, I didn’t expect to see Tess all over you this early in the morning.”

He slipped into the seat beside her. “You know I didn’t want anything to do with her, right?”

“Oh course not Max! I still don’t like to see it.”

“I know. I think she’s trying to make sure that you and I didn’t bond over our Vegas experience.”

“I’d say she’s too late to avoid that.” Liz twined her fingers through Max’s and enjoyed the warm jolt of their connection flaring to life between them. Love and happiness flowed through her from Max and she thrilled to the joy that his new happiness brought to her.

They sat that way until the bell rang, finally jolting them away from the incredible experience of being together.

“We’ll meet for lunch in the quad, okay?” Max whispered in her ear as they stood and embraced. She nodded and their arms fell away from each other.

“I’ll miss you.” Her voice was filled with longing that matched the expression on his face.

“Me too.”

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

It was difficult to wait for the first class that Max shared with her, 4th period AP History, but at last the time arrived. The only problem was that Tess shared the class with them as well. Liz walked into the room with equal amounts of expectation and trepidation. Scanning around she immediately found Max, who offered her a dazzling smile. She walked toward him eagerly until his expression dimmed when Tess pushed past her rudely and ran up to Max.

“Hey. How’s it going? I thought maybe we could go somewhere to have lunch today and talk about when we can meet for more training sessions.” She glanced smugly over her shoulder at Liz, who had turned away and quickly found her seat.

“Um, well, I told the gang that we’d meet for lunch in the quad. You can join us if you’d like.”

“Of course I will!” Tess settled into a seat beside Max.

Throughout the period Max consciously tried to keep his eyes away from Liz’s stiff figure in a chair one row up and to the right of him. When the bell rang, she sprang up out of her seat and left quickly.

“See ya Tess! I gotta grab my lunch, I’ll meet you in the quad!” Max ran off after Liz.

“Something’s definitely going on here,” Tess muttered, her eyes narrowing suspiciously.

Max slowed his pace as he saw Liz disappearing into the eraser room. He grinned and glanced around before slipping into the room behind her. Locking the door he whirled her into his arms with her back to the door and crushed her with a searing kiss. His lips danced over hers and his tongue demanded entrance to her mouth. Liz responded eagerly, parting her lips and running her fingers through his hair. Max’s hands crept to the edge of her short top and explored the bare skin he revealed as he eased his hands up. Liz’s moans only encouraged him further and when his hand cupped her breast fully she went wild. She kissed him with renewed urgency and when his other arm went around her waist she lifted both legs to surround his hips.

Their connection was wide open and each could feel the others giddy happiness at being together and frustration over the morning’s events. Their love swirled around them as their hands roamed each other’s bodies. Liz began rhythmically grinding her center against Max’s obvious arousal until he too groaned in frustration at the clothes between them.

He moved his hands to her zipper as she clung to him with her arms and legs. He lowered it quickly and set her down. When her feet touched the floor, she grabbed his shirt and pulled it over his head, running her hands down his sleek chest. He began to lower her jeans down her hips.

A loud knocking sounded on the door and they froze in place.

“Oh course it’s them! Who else would it be? Knock again Michael!” Maria instructed like a drill sergeant. Another loud knocking sounded through the small room.

“Maxwell, you’d better be decent, because we’re coming in!” Michael warned as he unlocked the door with his powers. The door swung open to reveal a disordered Max and Liz.

“Well! I can see we got here just in time!” Maria swept in, closing the door behind her. “Do we need to worry about you two setting off the fire alarms?”

“Maria! What’re you doing here?” Liz turned and zipped up her pants. Both she and Max were trying to regulate their breathing, and Max was searching the floor for his shirt.

Michael helpfully handed Max the shirt and Max pulled it over his head.

“I think we need to set some ground rules here. If we’re going to be your early warning system for Tess alerts, then the least you can do is try not to have sex in the middle of a school day.” Michael glared at Max. For a man so famous for his self-control, Max was sure blowing it lately with Liz.

“We weren’t… we were just…okay, that’s probably a good rule.” Liz agreed, flustered, not looking at her friends.

“Michael, be nice!” Max glared back at his friend as he exited behind Liz. Of course, they ran right into Tess, who’s mouth was working open and closed like a fish until she saw Michael and Maria come out of the room too.

“Was there some special meeting I didn’t know about?” She asked Max caustically, standing with her arms crossed in front of her chest.

“No, we just ran into each other and…so when did you want to work on that mind retrieval?” Max couldn’t think of a decent excuse for the Eraser Room meeting, and tried to distract her with the only thing she seemed to be interested in lately.

“Oh, well I thought we could start to have sessions at your place after school every day.” She tucked her arm through his and walked him down the hall.

“Michael…do something!” Maria exclaimed, pushing Michael after them.

“Poor Max!” Liz burst out laughing.

Maria looked at her like she was crazy. “Why are you laughing?”

“Sometimes when his emotions are running high and we’re close in proximity, I can feel what he’s feeling. Right now he’s so mad and frustrated by what almost…well, let’s just say he’s not satisfied with the way this just turned out. It’s kind of good to know for a fact that he wants me and not Tess. Is that bad Maria?”

“Are you kidding me? A blind man could see that you’re the only one for Max. So you can really feel what he feels, huh? Does that still apply when you’re in the middle of…you know?”

“Yeah,” Liz said dreamily, before she realized that she had answered aloud. “Maria! Stop it!”

Laughing, they made their way to the quad for lunch.

Tess practically sat on Max’s lap at lunch, and Max talked her into waiting until after she wasn’t grounded to start the retrieval sessions.

“I think I should sit in on them with you,” Isabel volunteered. “I want to know our history too.”

“It takes really intense concentrations Is, I’d be happy to work with you separately if you’d like.”

“Are you sure it wouldn’t be better if we all worked together?”

“I’m very sure. We need to meditate together and really connect, you know?”

“If you say so…”

Liz and Maria rolled their eyes out of Tess’ view.

The rest of the day passed fairly normally, and as the last class ended they all made their way to Michael’s for the strategy meeting.

Part 17

“Alone at last!” Maria quipped comically as they closed the apartment door behind them. They were the first to arrive, and she didn’t waste a moment. Turning into his arms she lifted her face for a long awaited kiss. Michael was more than happy to oblige.

Maria was often conflicted about Michael, but one thing that he always had going for him was that he was a great kisser. He really had ruined her for other guys. Were all aliens this talented? From Liz’s dazed expression yesterday and today, she guessed that they were. She deepened the kiss, and just as they started to get really heated, Michael pulled away.

“Liz is here,” he stated out of the blue, going to open the door. Maria gazed up at him in confusion, slightly dazed from their kiss.

“I didn’t hear any…” Just then a knock sounded on the door and Michael pulled it open.

“Hey Liz. How’s it goin’? Come in and sit down. Can I get you anything?” Maria stared at Michael in total confusion. How had he known she was at the door? And what was with all this hospitality he was dripping all over? He never asked if she needed anything. Her confusion compounded when Liz didn’t even seem to notice that she had taken Michael’s arm as he led her to a chair. He sat her down and got her a drink, without her even asking.

They all sat and made small talk until Max and Isabel arrived. Maria noticed that Liz was starting for the door even before Max knocked. Maybe it was an alien thing. Max and Liz embraced as if they had not seen each other for weeks, not hours. They walked together back to the over-stuffed chair and Max sat down, pulling Liz into his lap.

“Why don’t you ask everyone if they need a drink Michael?” Maria prodded.

“They know where the kitchen is Maria, let them get it themselves.” Michael was charming as ever.

Maria started to get up to serve the gang when Isabel waved her back down. “I can get it Maria, thanks.”

She came back with juice for everyone and the aliens took turns adding Tabasco.

“So what’s the feeling about Tess?” Max started out. “Am I being paranoid, or did anyone else notice that she was extra clingy and wanted to get me alone for the memory retrieval sessions?”

“Yeah, I noticed that too.” Liz seconded, massaging Max’s palm and forearm.

“It was kinda hard to miss,” Maria interjected, “I mean, the girl can’t stay away from you. I don’t think she can take a hint.”

“Do you think we’re all being over-critical here guys? I mean we have no proof that she’s evil. All we have to go on is that she snapped and made us all forget a big event. Maybe she was just shocked and reversed it right away. You didn’t say that you saw anything after that, right Max?” Isabel asked.

“No, nothing but Alex collapsing in a heap. She could have killed him!” Maria was incensed over the thought of harm coming to one of her friends.

“What are you talking about Maria? Is there something you guys were holding back from me?” Isabel was instantly alert and worried about Alex. “What do you mean Alex collapsed?”

“Nice going Maria! I didn’t tell you that so you could blab it to Isabel.” Michael shook his head and turned to Isabel. “Look, they did see Alex collapsing, but we didn’t see a reason to worry you. Max is going to see if he can scan Alex for any health problem that may have contributed to his collapse and fix it before anything happens, okay?”

“No. This is not okay. You guys need to tell me everything, no secrets. I am not going to fall apart here, and I have the right to know if one of my friends could get hurt! I need to know what to look for, what the signs were. I could have missed something important if you hadn’t told me!

“You’re right Is, we should have told you.” Max looked right at his sister. “We just didn’t want to add to your worries, but we should have let you know.” Looking around the group he added, “It’s important that we all tell each other everything, no matter how insignificant it seems at the time, if it has something to do with our situation, okay?” Everyone nodded.

“We had Tess covered all day, except for the one class that no one shares with her, did anyone talk to her?”

“I did,” Isabel volunteered. “She was asking me about prom coming up and trying to be subtle about asking if you had a date yet.”

Max cringed. “I do have a date,” Liz was pulled back against his chest, “so she can put that thought out of her head.”

“Don’t you think that would be like a glaring sign that you two are back together?” Michael was being the realist for once.

“I can’t stand the thought of going with Tess. I’ll just say that we’re going as friends because Liz is uncomfortable around other guys after what happened in Vegas. She might buy it.”

“That could work, but Tess is not stupid. You guys would have to restrain yourselves from gazing into each other’s eyes and groping each other in public places! What? Like you don’t know what I’m talking about?” Maria huffed at the wide-eyed innocent expressions on Max and Liz’s faces. “I have two words for you, ‘Eraser Room’,” she ended triumphantly, as Max and Liz blushed.

“What? You guys were making out already today? Didn’t you get enough this morning?” Isabel crossed her arms uncomfortably. She knew entirely too much about her brother’s sex life.

Now Max and Liz were on fire with embarrassment.

“What?! Liz, you never said a word! Best friends are supposed to share these things!” Maria was getting indignant again.

“Mariaaaa!” Liz turned her face into Max’s chest.

“I think we’re getting off the subject here. Max, Liz, do you think you can realistically pull it off?” Michael questioned.

“It’s like, weeks away, we should be able to control ourselves by then. We’ll have plenty of practice before then soo…” Max answered for them both, stroking Liz’s soft hair comfortingly. “What?” Everyone was grinning at them. He reviewed what he had said and flushed again. “Plenty of practice at staying apart in front of Tess! Get your minds out of the gutter!” They all shared a laugh.

“Okay, so we know Tess is angling to get Max to the prom and we solved that, so anything else?” Michael continued.

“Not really, she did ask me if Max said anything about what happened in Vegas after we left,” Isabel replied.

“What did you tell her?”

“I just said that he had to stay to handle all of the legal stuff and that Max had told me that he and Liz had decided they could be friends.”

“Did she believe you?”

“She seemed to.”

“That means that she’s already suspicious, do you think that’s why she wants to get me alone for the memory retrievals?” Max asked the group.

“You can’t be alone with her!” Michael replied.

“Liz and I worked that out during gym,” Maria stated smugly. “We’re going to be outside his window whenever the Wicked Witch is there and I’ll be the lookout while Liz watches Max. She’s the only one who seems to be able to see through her tricks.”

“That sounds good, we’ll just need to make sure Max always tells you when she’ll be there and make sure Liz is free at the same time!”

“We’ll share our work schedules ahead of time so we’ll know when it’s all right to schedule Tess to come over.” Max solved that dilemma neatly. “Anything else before we move on?” He looked around and everyone shook their heads.

“Okay, same drill for tomorrow. Just keep your eyes and ears open for anything suspicious. I’m going to call Alex after our meeting to see what’s wrong with him. Is, do you want to come with me?” Isabel shook her head regretfully. “I’m meeting Mom later, she wants to bond after dinner. Girls night, I guess.” She really wished she could be there for Alex. She wasn’t sure how she felt about him yet, but she wanted to be free to explore the possibilities, and she certainly didn’t want him to be hurt because he was her friend!

“I guess the next thing is that Liz and I have had another flash of the man in the cave hiding something. We think we need to go out there and see what it is. This flash was even clearer than the last one, so we know exactly where to look. Can anyone go with Liz and I after school tomorrow?”

“I have to work.” Maria put in.

“I’ll go.” Isabel and Michael chorused together.

“Okay, so let’s plan to leave by 3:30 after school. Should we all meet here?” Michael and Liz nodded. “Good, I’ll drive.”

Max stood up with Liz and stretched. “Well, we’ll see you guys later then.” They exited together quickly.

“I wonder what they’ll be doing?” Maria put out facetiously.

“Maria!” Michael grabbed her around the waist and swung her around.

“Hey! I’m still here! Hello?” Isabel waved her hands in front of them. “I hate to break up your party here, but I think Max forgot he was my ride, so Maria could you take me home?”

“Sure Iz, no problem. Bye Michael!” Maria gave him a flirty wink and walked out with Isabel.

“Women!” Michael huffed, standing there alone.

Part 18

“Hello? Anybody home?” Max called out as he escorted Liz into his house. No one answered. With a wicked grin Max turned to Liz just as she threw herself into his arms. Their lips met in a hungry kiss, trying to finish what they had started in the Eraser Room earlier. Max trailed his fingers over her back, moving them up and down in a soothing rhythm.

“Maybe we should go to your room Max,” Liz gasped out against his neck. He obliged her by picking her up by the hips and wrapping her long legs around him. Still kissing, Max began walking them down the hall to his room. He lowered them both onto the bed and framed her face with his palms. “I love you,” he whispered. “I don’t want you to think that this is something we always have to do when we’re alone together.” His concerned tone stirred her heart.

“I want you, I can’t help it. I know you love me too, and I don’t feel like I’m being pressured in any way, okay?” She brushed small kisses over his face. He groaned at the limited contact, longing for a deeper touch. She grinned and accommodated him by pressing her lips fully to his. His parted instantly and their tongues began a leisurely exploration. Without the fevers their loving was slower, more controlled. Their hands roamed, fingers exploring, reacquainting themselves with each other’s touch. They slowly removed each other’s shirts and let their fingers wander over the newly exposed skin.

Max’s lips followed the trail of his fingers and Liz gasped out her approval. He teasingly circled her nipples, without giving her the satisfaction she craved. He waited until she was writhing beneath him, her hand clutching his hair, before he gave in and gave them both what they wanted. She cried out her pleasure and held his mouth to her firmly.

“ MAX!” Isabel’s voice rang through the house, freezing them in place. “You better be decent, because I’m coming in!” Both scrambled to replace their tops and were still in a serious state of disarray when Isabel slammed into the room.

“Liz, what a surprise to find you here.” She started sarcastically, “Did you forget that you were supposed to give me a ride home? I know that you two are newlyweds and all, but you’d think that you could still remember your sister! I had to ask Maria for a ride home today! I just sat through ten minutes of incessant chatter! That girl can talk about anything!” She flung herself down on the bed between them, really liking the way her interruption was turning out. et’s see if Max forgot her again! “So what were you doing?” She swung her leg lazily and tried to act innocent.

“That’s not going to work Iz. You know very well what we were doing, and we don’t appreciate the interruption. I’m sorry I forgot to give you a ride, but you seem pretty resourceful, and you don’t look any worse for wear. Liz and I have a lot of new things going on right now that we need to discuss, so if you don’t mind?” Max stood and tried to usher her to the door.

“Anything I should know?” Isabel was concerned that they were still keeping things from her.

“You know the highlights, and I’ll fill you in on the rest on the way to the cave tomorrow. Please Iz?” Max gave her his patented ‘puppy dog eyes’ and she let herself cave.

“All right. I should warn you that Mom’s coming home any minute and if you don’t have other plans, she’ll be cooking you dinner.” Her duty done she exited the room.

Max turned to Liz and he lowered his forehead to touch hers. “Later?” He questioned. Liz mustered up a tiny smile and nodded.

“Are our friends conspiring against us?”

“I know it seems that way. Between Michael, Maria, and Isabel we don’t seem to be able to enjoy a single moment alone.”

“Maybe we should take this as a sign and really talk about some of the stuff that’s been happening lately.” Liz tried to sound enthusiastic about it.

“What did you want to talk about?” Max gave in and sat down with her, side by side on the bed.

“Well, we should try to figure out what’s going on with our fevers. We seem to get really out of control in the middle of one. Is that normal for aliens or should we be concerned? I mean, I don’t think we could’ve stopped just now if we had been in the middle of one, even if Isabel stood right over us. That’s been bothering me. And how do we know how long they’ll last. Is this permanent? Can we predict when the next one will happen? I think I’ll start a chart.” Liz cut off her musings at Max’s amused expression.

“What? I’m trying to be constructive here!” Liz ducked her head.

“I’m not laughing at you. I just haven’t given this as much thought as you clearly have. Do you really think we need a chart?”

“Well, it would be nice to know if there’s a pattern here or something. Have any of the rest of you experienced anything like this?”

“Not that I know of. But I think that I’m the only one of us who has truly been sexually active, so it’s hard to say if this is normal for us.”

“I just don’t want to be embarrassed in front of family or friends one day.”

This was a new and disturbing thought for Max. This whole thing could get really complicated. “Why don’t you go ahead and do that chart thingy and we’ll take a look at it in a week or so. So far we know that you and me seem to have the same symptoms, simultaneously, and that the only way we can relieve them is to be together. I wonder what would happen if we resisted, you know, if we weren’t together?”

Liz shuddered. She knew how she felt in the middle of one and knew that she couldn’t make herself resist.

“I don’t think that’s really an option Max. Do you honestly think you could resist?” She locked her eyes with his to see how he felt.

“No.” His simple honesty washed through her.

She gave him a hug, massaging his neck with her strong fingers. Their breathing quickened, and they started to lean in for a kiss.

They pulled back and sat apart simultaneously, sharing the thought that now was not the time to finish what they had started earlier.

“Maybe I should call Alex now,” Max piped up. He stood and took her hand.

“That’s a great idea.” Liz seconded with enthusiasm.

They walked out of the room hand in hand. Max called Alex and arranged to meet in an hour at his place. As he hung up, Diane walked in, greeting them happily. She hugged Max, and surprisingly Liz too.

“Hi Mrs. Evans. How was work today?” Liz inquired politely.

“It was completely hectic! Our practice is getting so busy! Philip is working on a case out of town for the rest of the week, and I’m trying to hold the rest of it together by myself!” Diane did look like she’d had a crazy day.

“Can you kids stay for dinner?” She inquired politely.

“No, I’m heading over to the Crashdown to grab a bite with Liz before she starts her shift.” Max quickly put in.

“Oh, that’s too bad. Liz, how do you like working at the Crashdown?”

“It’s all right. I’m just helping out my parents tonight. I’ve been looking for something with a little more professional tone to it since my job ended with Senator Whittaker’s office.”

“Really?” Diane looked at her speculatively. This could be a golden opportunity. “Have you ever considered working for a lawyer?”

“A lawyer? I’ve never really…oh! Did you mean your firm?” Liz widened her eyes, considering the possibilities.

“Of course dear. I’m really swamped right now. Most of it is just paperwork and typing. It could really be done from the house here if you wanted, of course it would mean long hours. You do have computer experience, don’t you?”

Liz nodded eagerly.

“Would you mind helping me out?” Diane tried not to sound overly anxious.

“I think I’d love it!” Liz raised shining eyes to Max. He hugged her close and thanked his mom with his smile.

This was working out better than any of them could have thought.

“When can you start?”

“How’s next Monday?” Liz enthused.

“Perfect. Come over after school and I’ll leave out your work assignments.”

“Thank you so much!”

“Thank you! I don’t think you realize how much we need you.” Diane was truly sincere.

“Well we’d better get going.” Max and Liz left together.


Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
-Robert Frost
posted on 31-Aug-2001 1:38:57 PM
Part 19

Max left Liz at the Crashdown to start her shift after they had eaten dinner together. It was nice to get to talk about something normal for a change and they had chattered on about the possibilities of her new job. Liz thought it would look great on her applications for college and both were excited by the idea that Liz would get to work right in Max’s home so they wouldn’t have to constantly be coming up with excuses about why she was over. Liz made it clear though, that once she was on the clock she had to apply herself to her job. Max understood completely, but with the thought in the back of his head that every job had to include breaks!

As Max rang the bell to Alex’s house, he was also planning on calling the florist in the morning and sending Liz a congratulatory bouquet. Alex answered after several moments and leaned against the doorframe, looking exhausted.

“It looks like I came just in time,” Max commented as he walked into the house. He was only half joking.

“Ha ha Evans,” Alex returned. “I don’t think there’s anything serious going on here, but if you can get rid of my exhaustion and headaches you will be a godsend!”

“I’ll do what I can, where’re your parents?”

“They went out to dinner, I told them I had homework and to go ahead without me. To tell you the truth, I haven’t had the energy to do my homework since I got back from Sweden. That’s part of the reason I wanted to give this a try. I’m kinda concerned about my GPA.” Alex led the way into the living room. Looking around, he turned in confusion before leading Max back to his bedroom.

“This’ll be better, how long do you think it’ll take?” Alex asked, scratching the back of his neck.

“I’m not really sure,” Max answered, closing and locking the door behind him. “I don’t really know if this will even work. I do want to thank you for letting me try this with you.”

“Uh, sure. This isn’t going to be painful or change me into an alien or anything is it?” Alex asked. “Not that there’s anything wrong with being an alien, mind you, I just’ve gotten kinda used to being one of the only all human members left in our group. I’m thinking of asking Maria if she wants to start a club or something. We could have a cool logo like ‘Don’t mess with us, we’ve been abducted’,” Alex shook his head. “Wow, that sounded cooler in my head. So where do you want me?” He gestured around his room.

Max looked around. “The bed I guess. I don’t want you to worry that this will change you in any way. I think I can only do that if I bring you back from death’s door. You know, like with Liz and Kyle. They each had a mortal wound, they would have died within moments if I hadn’t, you know,” Max made a gesture with his hands. “You should just lie down and relax.”

“Relax, yeah I could do that,” Alex stretched out on his bed and closed his eyes. His breathing became regular almost immediately.

“Alex,” Max shook his shoulder. “Alex!” Alex came awake with a start.

“What’s that? Oh sorry. Did I mention I’m exhausted?” Alex tried to sit up a little to keep himself awake.

“I just need you to look at me right at the beginning, I need to make a connection. You can sleep after that if you want and I’ll just do what I can, okay?” Max was more concerned than he had been before.

“Sure,” Alex raised his eyes to Max.

Max framed Alex’s face with his hands and locked eyes with his friend. The connection was made quickly, Alex had no strength to resist. Max was swept with a wave of pure exhaustion. He worked around that and fought to stay focused. He removed his hands from Alex’s head and lowered them down to his stomach. He felt the exact moment when Alex fell back to sleep, and it relieved the exhaustion he had been fighting against. With renewed strength Max began to concentrate his energies into exploring Alex for the source of his collapse in their vision. He scanned through all the vital organs and blood vessels, checking for weakness or structural anomalies. His talent was innate, he just knew what was right and what felt wrong in a person. He didn’t question his instincts, and they had never led him wrong.

He was beginning to feel frustrated when he made his final sweep. He reached one hand up to the side of Alex’s head again and made one last attempt. Reaching deeper he began to sense a wall, something false, something that should never be there. He pressed in deeper, being slow and careful to heal any damage that he caused by pushing into his mind. Pushing through the final barrier, Max was assaulted by a rush of images. Images that were confusing, but at the same time explained so much.

When the images faded Max concentrated on closing out the anomalous block that was like a shadow over Alex’s brain. Because of the flash, Max understood that Tess had carefully constructed a shield over Alex’s memories to protect herself from the backlash of her heinous actions. He felt his temperature rise and held back his anger to finish fixing the weaknesses that had been draining his friend’s strength for weeks. Alex would remember everything. Max knew he could never forget either.

More than an hour later, when the reconstruction was completed, Max fell back until he was sitting on the floor. He went ahead and lay down, since he was sitting there anyway. He was drenched in sweat and trying to catch his breath.

Alex sat up, staring at his friend.

“How is this possible? How could she have used me like that? I never went to Sweden! I spent two months sweating out the secrets of her damn book so that she could figure out how to get you all home! I… I don’t even know where to start.” Alex started to really notice that Max was barely registering what he was saying. “Max, buddy, are you all right?” He climbed down off the bed and sat beside Max.

Max tried to sit up and needed Alex’s assistance. He scooted around until his back was to the bed and pulled his knees up to his chest. He crossed his arms over his knees and laid his head on them, trying to recover.

“I had no idea, Alex, I need you to know that,” Max felt responsible as always for the actions of someone he had trusted.

“I know that Max,” Alex’s gaze turned inward as he began to remember more. “I gave her the translation, but only part of it.” Alex began to grin. “I don’t think she knows that the disk I gave her was only a partial translation of the entire book. I gave her the part that would activate the Granolith to send her home, but I wouldn’t give her the rest. I didn’t give her the part that talked about the tremendous power that the Granolith contains and the different ways to use it. As a weapon, and for time travel! Max! I hid the other disk, I put it in my backpack and it’s been sitting in my closet this whole time!”

“Do you know what this means Alex? We have the knowledge we have always needed, we could even…go home.” His voice trailed off as he realized the implications of Alex’s announcement.

Alex was rooting through his closet. “Aha! I knew it! Here it is!” He waved the disk triumphantly in the air. “Take it. It belongs to you.” He handed the diskette over to Max. He was reluctant to touch it, now that he knew what he had gone through to make it.

“Are you all right Max? Can I get you some water or something?” Alex hovered over Max, starting to get concerned. Max was sweating all over and was having a hard time catching his breath. “Does this always happen after you…you know?” He glanced at the clock and was surprised that they had been in his room for almost three hours. “Whoa! No wonder you’re exhausted. I didn’t realize these things took so much time!”

“They don’t, usually. I’ve never really done anything like this before, I guess it just really drained me.” Max was starting to get concerned for himself as well. He usually felt drained, but he recovered quickly. This was getting worse, it almost felt like…

“Oh no! I’ve got to get to Liz!” Max exclaimed, stumbling to his feet.

“I think maybe you should sit down before you fall down Max!” Alex tried to steady his friend.

“I’ll be fine Alex. Right now I’ve really got to go!” Max made his way out to his car as quickly as he could.

“I could give you a ride!” Alex called after him.

“I’ll be fine!” Max climbed into his car and started the engine. “Hang on Liz!” He mumbled under his breath.

Part 20

Liz leaned against the pick-up window and blew her hair out of her eyes. She had been on her shift for two hours and it had been a crazy rush the whole time. She looked at the clock, eight o’clock, one hour to closing and then she could put her feet up. Her heart rate quickened with anticipation at the thought of starting a new job next week. No more running around, taking people’s orders and trying to act pleasant to rude patrons. Yea!!!

“Michael, it looks like it’s finally slowing down. I’m going to go ahead and send Agnes home, okay?” Liz peered through the window as Michael finished cleaning the grill after the last round of burgers.

“Yeah, we can handle it on our own from here. It’s mostly the dessert crowd now anyway.” Michael picked up a clean towel and flicked it at her through the window. Liz jumped back laughing.

“You’re aim is still off, Michael,” she teased. “Thanks for filling in tonight. My parents left for Albuquerque to be with my aunt Julie while she has her baby, and then Jose called in sick!” Liz was truly grateful that Michael didn’t have any other plans for the evening.

“No problem, I could use the extra cash,” Michael tried to brush off his good deed and turned back to cleaning his spotless kitchen. He was a remarkably tidy person for someone who had grown up as he had, Liz reflected. Then again, maybe it wasn’t so mysterious, maybe it was Michael’s way of finding order in life, taking control of his surroundings. In any case, it was a nice habit to have and it served him well here at the Crashdown, her dad was a stickler for cleanliness.

Twenty minutes later, Liz was wiping down the last of the tables when she a sudden wave of dizziness made her grab the sides of the table for balance and sit down hard. Breathing deeply she sat for another moment, glad that the restaurant was almost empty. Maybe she should have concentrated more on dinner than on Max earlier! She stood up slowly, moderating her breathing, and made her way over to the pick-up window again.

“Hey Michael? Can you get me half a sandwich? I don’t think I ate enough at dinner.” She leaned heavily on the counter for a moment, promising to take better care of herself.

“Let me guess why!” Michael glanced over to tease her, but when he saw her wan expression he grew instantly concerned. “You all right? You look kinda pale.”

“Yeah, I just need to eat, I think. And maybe I’ll get myself a soda.” She poured ice into a tall glass and filled it with Cherry Coke. Taking a long drink she did feel better.

Michael set out a turkey sandwich for her and told her to sit down and eat it.

“I’ll watch the front while you’re eating.” Michael left the kitchen and moved to sit beside her on the stools. Liz ate slowly, feeling marginally better. After taking another long drink, she set down her cup and fished out an ice cube. She ran the ice over her wrists and then moved it over her neck, arching her head back and enjoying the coolness against her suddenly overheated skin.

“Is it getting warm in here Michael?” She took another ice cube and sucked on it, trying to cool off.

“No, it’s cool in here.” Michael had been watching her eat and try to cool down with increasing concern. This was not like Liz to be so weak, and he couldn’t remember the last time she had sat down in the middle of a shift. Michael rose to cashier for the last customer in the restaurant and made a split second decision to close the restaurant after they left.

Hearing the lock click, Liz turned questioning eyes to Michael.

“Hey Michael, it’s not time to close for another twenty minutes!” She stood up and another wave of dizziness assailed her.

Michael rushed to her side just in time to stop her from falling. “I think you need to go up and lay down. You might be coming down with something.” Michael steered her toward the stairs to her apartment.

Liz shrugged out of his hold. “Don’t be ridiculous Michael! I’m perfectly fine, I just didn’t eat enough and then worked on my feet for the rest of the night!” Her hands went to her hips as she glared at him.

“Uh huh, is that why you’re dripping sweat and can’t seem to stand up without tilting over?” He asked her sarcastically.

Liz wiped her brow and realized that she was very hot. Fevered really. Oh. My. God! Not now! This was absolutely not the right time for this! Max! Where was Max? She realized all at once that Max was helping Alex and there was no way she was going to interrupt him. She shuddered at the thought that she would soon have to find out if resisting their fevers was an option.

“Maybe you’re right Michael. I think I’ll just head on upstairs…” she turned and started up the steps, and had to grab the rail when another wave of dizziness overcame her. She felt herself being caught up in strong arms and seemed to float up the stairs. Her eyes fluttered closed as darkness fell around her.

“What the…” Michael swooped in to catch Liz just before she fell. Picking her up effortlessly, he wasted no time carrying her straight to her room. Should he call the doctor? Was it even safe for Liz to see a doctor? What if Max had changed her too much and now that she was developing her powers she was too alien to pass for human? Why would she pass out like this if she was an alien? They didn’t get sick. Michael suddenly remembered that he had been sick. Once. With a terrible fever that had almost killed him.

Making a quick decision, Michael ripped open the snaps of Liz’s uniform and stripped it from her overheated body. Carrying her into her bathroom, he cradled her in his arms and used a washcloth to bathe her face as he filled the bathtub with tepid water. He’d read somewhere that this was a good way to lower her core body temperature. When the tub had filled about halfway, he lowered her into the water.

Liz’s eyes flew open at the abrupt shock of the cool water on her heated skin. With a gasp she sat straight up and tried to lunge out of the tub. Michael restrained her as best he could, struggling to keep her in the water.

“What the hell are you doing Michael?” Liz screeched in shock. Michael’s hands slipped over her wet skin and grazed her side. Liz gasped in renewed horror as she realized that she was sitting in front of Michael in her bra and underwear. She ceased her struggle with him and used her arms to shield her body from his sight.

“I just…I needed to…You were burning up! You passed out, and I read that this is a good way to cool people off.” Michael sputtered. He was soaked to the waist and getting angrier by the second. Did he need this kind of aggravation? Where the hell was Max? He stripped off his wet shirt and used it to wipe the sweat off his face. “Look, I didn’t know what else to do, okay?”

“Okay! Just please, get out now all right?” Liz was desperate. No one had ever seen her like this except Max. Even her swimsuits were modest one-piece items. Her face flushed with embarrassment.

“I don’t know if it would be a good idea if I left right now Liz.” Liz shot him a glare. “What? I’m serious! What if you passed out in the tub or something? I’m not going to be responsible for that, so get over it! I don’t think of you like that anyway!” Michael was torn between the instinct to protect her and the strong urge to flee.

“Of course you don’t…I didn’t mean…This is just really awkward okay?” Liz was mortified and at the same time she was touched that he was concerned for her. “Could you just…turn around or something?”

Michael turned his back to her and listened to the soft splash of water against the sides of the tub.

“I didn’t know if we should call the doctor or not,” he threw out over his shoulder. “Have you been feeling like you’re coming down with something?”

“Michael…I know what this is. There’s nothing you can do, so you really should just go.” Liz was mortified that Michael might have to know what was really happening with her.

“You know what’s going on here?” Michael turned around again and began to grill her. “Why didn’t you tell me? Has this happened before? If this is some kind of female thing Liz, I swear…” He let the threat trail off as Liz glared up at him. There was more going on here than she was telling him.

“Talk to me Liz,” his softened tone caught her off guard. He did have a right to know after all he had done to help her tonight, Liz thought.

“It’s happened a couple times before. Max experienced the same symptoms as I did at the same time. There was only one way we’ve found to make it stop.” Liz couldn’t finish.

“Are you saying that Max could be having this fever and may be passed out somewhere right now?” Michael stood and paced around the small area. Concern for his friend distorted his features, but he couldn’t make himself leave Liz’s side. There was just something about her. “Is Max at home right now or still over at Alex’s?” He questioned.

“I don’t know. I think he would have called or come over if he was done.” Liz tried to climb out of the tub, but she was getting so weak. Michael helped her to step over the edge and wrapped her in a towel.

“You need to lay down,” he led her to the bed, stumbling himself just as they reached it. He held his hand to his head and shook it. “Wait! You said you found a way to make this stop. Why haven’t you done it? Do you need me to get you something?” He sounded out of breath.

“Michael we…wemadelove,” she said superfast under her breath, turning her head into her pillow.

“What was that? I didn’t understand what you said.” Michael used his shirt again to mop his brow. It really was getting hot in here, maybe he would open the window.

He stumbled across the room and wedged the window open.

Liz decided it would be easier to say it to his back. “We made love,” she said again, very clearly this time. Michael spun back around to stare at her.

“Look Michael, I’m sorry that you got in the middle of this. Max and I are still trying to figure it out for ourselves. It started in Vegas after the first time we made love. Max and I both developed a fever, and I passed out that time too. Max hasn’t ever passed out from this though, he may be okay tonight,” she tried to reassure him.

“Are you telling me this is about sex?” Michael was incredulous.

“No! It’s probably some alien thing. None of you has had sex yet have you?” Liz turned the tables on Michael.

“I don’t see how that’s any of your business, but no, we haven’t.” Michael was uncomfortable with this turn in the conversation. “I feel very hot all of a sudden.” Michael lay down beside Liz.

“Do you have a fever?” Liz rolled to her side, the towel coming undone without her realizing it. She reached out her hand and tested his forehead. At the first touch of her fingers, the mood changed. Her hand trailed down the side of his cheek and he turned his face into it, gently placing an open mouthed kiss on her palm. Liz shivered in response and Michael moved closer.

The shifting of the bed jolted them to their senses. Liz grabbed her towel and Michael jumped off the bed.

“I…I’m sorry! I don’t know why I did that! I swear Liz…I never…!” Michael was shaking his head and raking his fingers through the tangled mess of his hair. He backed away from the bed. “I don’t know what came over me!”

“I know that Michael. It was nothing. I need…I need Max.” Liz moaned and turned into her pillow, rocking softly back and forth, utterly miserable and confused by her bodies needs. She was burning for Max.

“I’ll try to call him.” Michael grabbed the phone by her bed and began dialing.

“Liz,” Max’s strained voice reached her from her window. He crawled through and closed the distance separating them.

“Max,” Liz breathed his name and reached for him. He took her into his arms and devoured her with his kiss. Their connection flared to life between them, their need soaring around them like vibrant, warm colors and music. He swept the towel from her body as her shaking hands worked at getting his buttons undone. Her movements were frantic, she needed his skin against hers like she needed her next breath. The buttons popped free at last, some of them rolling to the floor. Max moved his lips down over her body, tasting every inch of her heated skin. Liz moaned out her pleasure, writhing on the bed beneath him. Max shrugged out of the remnants of his shirt and released the clasp of her bra. Her breasts sprang free of their encumbrance and Max moved to suckle each one frantically into his mouth. Her pleasure crashed through him in waves through their link and increased his urgency. Liz panted louder and worked to free him of his jeans. Max helped her, his breath releasing loudly through the room, and leaned away just far enough to slide his jeans and boxers over his lean hips. Discarding the garments he slid his hands under the waistband of her damp underwear and removed the last barrier between them.

Liz closed her legs around his hips and urged him to enter her immediately. He could wait no longer and plunged into her eagerly, unable to stop the frantic motions of his hips. He held her face in his hands and kissed her urgently, his tongue caressing hers, his teeth nipping gently on her lips, and moving down over her neck to leave love bites where he suckled and nibbled. Liz’s hands roamed desperately over his arching back to settle over his straining buttocks, urging him to go faster, harder. Their pleasure built in cresting waves and release came quickly to the two desperate lovers.

Max collapsed on top of her and rolled quickly to the side. Breathing was hard enough without her having to support his weight too! He stroked his hands over her sweat dampened sides and back, soothing her in the only way he could. His eyes roamed over her to check for damage. He had been so rough! He felt like a rutting animal that he had taken her so carelessly! How would she forgive him? Liz’s liquid eyes raised to meet his gaze and he understood. In one flash he could see that her urgency had been as great as his own. That she had needed him as much as he did her.

“Oh Max, what are we going to do?” Liz breathed out in a husky cry of despair.

“I don’t know.” Max was sorry not to have a better answer. They’d just have to hope it eventually went away.

Liz bolted upright in bed all of a sudden, looking frantically around her room.

“What?!” Max got up on his knees, preparing for danger.

“Michael! He was in here when you came in! He must have seen…where is he?” Liz was once again mortified that the strength of her compulsion to be with Max could be so strong that she couldn’t even remember if someone else was in the room with them or not.

“I’ll see if he’s still in the house,” Max volunteered. He grabbed his jeans and dragged them back on. Leaning over he gave her a soft kiss. “I’ll be right back. It’ll be okay,” he reassured her as he left the room.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Michael closed the bedroom door behind him and leaned against it for support. His breathing was still erratic, although now he couldn’t tell if it was because he was fevered or because of what he had witnessed. When Max had come through the window Michael had been prepared to greet him. Until he saw Max’s eyes. They were practically glowing with a strange light and so obviously focused only on Liz. He hadn’t even noticed that Michael was in the room! When Max moved to Liz’s side and they touched, it was explosive and mesmerizing, the strength of the connection flowed around them. Each movement flowed naturally into the next, everything right and perfect, as it should be. Michael had been unable to pull himself away until Max had removed Liz’s last garment. The shock of what he was doing, just standing there voyeuristically watching his friends make love, rolled through him and he stumbled out the door.

Taking deep breaths to ease his labored lungs, Michael used the walls to support him as he made his way into the living room. Hell yeah, he had always been curious about alien sex, but really, he’d never expected to witness a demonstration. He sank down onto the couch and just stared at the ceiling, willing away his bodies reaction to what he had seen. Moments later he felt his body cool down dramatically. He sat up and stared down at himself. He felt normal again, like nothing had ever happened. What was going on with him?

The bedroom door opened and Michael’s gaze shot up to meet his friend. Max stared at him sheepishly and sat beside him on the couch.

“I guess there’re a few things we didn’t tell you about what happened in Vegas,” Max started.

“No kidding,” Michael retorted. “Care to explain what just happened here Max?”

“We don’t really know why this started. I have a couple theories. It could just be a by-product of mating with an alien, or it could be caused by the changes Liz is going through with her new powers. Or maybe it’s some kind of heat that we go through, we really don’t know. We just start running a fever and are drawn to be together. It seems to hit Liz harder than me. I don’t know if that’s because she’s human or female or what. I’m sorry that you had to see that.” Max angled an amber gaze up to Michael. “Just how much did you see?”

Michael squirmed uncomfortably. “Enough. Suffice it to say that I got out of there just in time.”

Now Max squirmed uncomfortably. “Sorry man. We just can’t seem to help ourselves when the fever hits.” He looked around the room suddenly and whispered, “Where are Liz’s parents?”

“Liz’s cousin is having a baby in Albuquerque and they’re spending a couple nights over there to help her out.” Michael responded.

Max let out a relieved breath. “Can we talk about all this later Michael? I’m really beat.”

Max did look totally wiped out. “Did everything go okay with Whitman?”

“Yeah, that’s another thing we need to talk about tomorrow. Can I tell my parents that I’m spending the night at your place tonight?”

Michael nodded and was hit with his own wave of exhaustion. He got up to leave, he needed to go home and process what had happened.

After Michael left, Max called home to his mom and she agreed to let him stay over at Michael’s for the night.

Max went back into the bedroom to find Liz sleeping. He smiled softly and pulled his jeans off again. Naked, he crawled back into bed with her and spooned his body against her back. She sighed sleepily and automatically adjusted herself to fit perfectly against him. Max nuzzled his face into her hair and breathed deeply with contentment. There would be no nightmares tonight.

Part 21

Isabel came out of her room after she heard the door close behind Max and Liz. She had thought that she heard her mother’s voice.

“Mom? Are you home?” she called out.

“I’m just getting changed, honey,” Diane called back from her room.

Isabel went into the kitchen and called in a take-out order to be delivered for them. She wanted her bases covered in case her mom had some whacky new dinner recipe to try out.

“How was your day sweetie?” Diane asked as she entered the room.

“It was good. I learned a lot today.” Isabel hid a small smile at all the new things she was learning about lately. “I just ordered Chinese food to be delivered, hope that’s okay? How was your day? You look kinda tired.” Isabel followed her mother out into the living room and sat beside her on the couch.

“Chinese sounds wonderful, I’m glad you thought of it, and yes I am tired. Your dad is out of town for the rest of the week on a case he’s been researching, and so the office is all mine. We’ve been getting so busy lately that I’ve been thinking about hiring an assistant.” Diane rested her head of the back of the sofa. “I ran into Liz here with Max earlier. They looked pretty cozy.” She peeked out of the corner of her eye to see Isabel’s reaction.

Isabel stiffened at the turn in the conversation. “Oh, well I think they’re lab partners or something. Maybe they were working on a project together,” Isabel improvised. Damn! What did Max want their mom to know about his relationship with Liz?

“Oh, that’s strange. He was hugging her. It looked like they were dating again. What do you know about Liz?” Diane sat up and looked straight at Isabel. She was really curious to find out more about this special girl in her son’s life.

“Well, she’s a really good student. She’s very responsible. I think she could use my help in the fashion department though,” Isabel finished with a laugh, feeling more comfortable with the topic now. If Max had been so openly affectionate in front of their mother then he must not mind if she knew about them.

Diane was frustrated by her daughter’s response. She wanted to know who this girl was. What made her tick. She’d just have to observe these things on her own though, she didn’t want Isabel to get suspicious of why she had so much interest in her.

“I was just asking because I offered her a job as my new office assistant. I’m going to set up an office here in the house and she can help with research and typing, that kind of thing. What do you think?”

“Wow Mom! I think that’s a great idea. I know she’ll do a really good job for you, and she has been talking about looking for a new position.” Isabel was glad this was working out so well for Max. They wouldn’t have to think of reasons why Liz was over at their house to throw off Tess. Very convenient.

“Good. I think I made the right choice too.” Diane had known that she had made the right decision just from the expression on Max’s face earlier, and she would have stuck with it even if Liz didn’t know how to turn on a computer, but it was good to know that this would help everybody.

“Have you thought any more about your career plans?” Diane touched Isabel’s hair softly. “I know you’ve been talking about doing some modeling.”

Modeling had been the furthest thing from Isabel’s mind recently. Maybe now would be a good time to tell her mom that she could graduate early if she wanted.

“Well Mom, since you bring it up, yeah, I have been thinking about my future lately. My guidance counselor and I had a meeting awhile back, and since my grades are so good and I’ve got all this extra credit from community projects and advanced placement classes, he said I could graduate a year early. What do you think?”

Tears welled up in Diane’s eyes. She turned her head and wiped at them surreptitiously.

Isabel squirmed uncomfortably in her seat. Here her mom had been crying just this morning about losing her babies in a year and now she was bringing this up!

“It’s okay Mom! It was just a thought.” Isabel was eager to console her mother. She never wanted to see her hurt in any way and she would do anything in her power to prevent it.

“Oh honey, I’m just so proud of you!” Diane rushed to reassure her, giving her a warm hug. “When you and Max first came to us you couldn’t even speak. We had to teach you absolutely everything, but you caught on so quickly! I stayed home with you for over a year, and in that time you learned to talk and read and write. You learned math so fast and it’s like you were just sponges, soaking up whatever I could teach you. I shouldn’t be surprised that you would have an opportunity like this. If I had put you two in school a year earlier, with your own age group, you would be graduating this year anyway. Wow! Have you thought about which college you would like to attend?”

“Thanks Mom!” Isabel was relieved by her mother’s reaction. “I have thought about it, and I think I want to apply to the University of New Mexico and the University of Las Cruces. I don’t want to be too far away from home just yet.” For a lot of reasons, she added internally.

“That sounds wonderful! We need to call for admission information and see if it’s too late to apply for the fall semester. Wow! This is so sudden! You college fund should be enough to cover any of those schools. Does Max have the same opportunity?” Diane knew he had excellent grades as well, but he wasn’t quite the ‘joiner’ that Isabel was. Extra-curricular activities for Max were almost non-existent.

“He hasn’t said anything to me, but then, I haven’t told him about me yet either. I wanted to talk to you and Daddy about all this first.”

“I’ll have to ask him. How do you think he’ll feel if you take off for college without him next year?” Diane was concerned that Max would feel even more alone. It was a good thing Liz was around. That just made Diane remember the real reason that she had wanted to talk with Isabel tonight and she wondered how to segue into the ‘I know you’re an alien’ discussion. There was really no easy way.

“I don’t really think he’ll mind. I mean I hope he’ll be happy for me, and it’s not like I’m moving out of state or anything.” Isabel really hoped that Max and Michael would be able to support her college ambitions. Her fear over their reactions was one of the reasons that she had procrastinated this long in telling anyone.

“Isabel…I really wanted to talk to you about…” Diane stopped abruptly at the sound of the doorbell.

“Oh! That’s our food. Hold that thought Mom, I’ll get the door.” Isabel jumped up and answered the door, giving the delivery girl a generous tip.

Diane slumped back on the sofa and breathed a sigh. She wasn’t sure if she was relieved or annoyed by the delay.

“Mmmnn it smells really good, should we eat in the kitchen?” Isabel asked, walking back in with two large bags of fragrant Chinese food.

“No, let’s just get some napkins and eat in here,” Diane offered.

They parceled out the food and enjoyed a really good dinner filled with conversation and plans for the future.

“Ohhh…I don’t think I can eat another bite!” Isabel shoved her plate away from her on the coffee table and leaned her head back onto the back of the couch, closing her eyes. Her mom, who was seated on the couch beside her, put her plate down as well. Diane stroked Isabel’s long hair away from her face, causing Iz to open her eyes and look at her mother.

“You know how much I love you and Max, don’t you Iz?” Diane asked out of the blue.

“Of course Mom. You and Daddy have always let us know that we are the most important people in your lives,” Isabel hastened to reassure her. She lay down on the couch and put her head on her mother’s lap, facing away, as she had done when she was a little girl and needed comforting. Diane looked down at Isabel and started to stroke her hair.

“You know you can tell me anything, anything at all, and your father and I would still love you, right?”

Isabel’s form went stiff momentarily, before she forced herself to breathe and calm down. Her mother didn’t know, she couldn’t. She turned to her back to look up at her mom.

“Of course I know that Mom what’s this all about?” Her voice came out thin and strained.

“I just, well…, I found out something recently, and I just really want you to know that no matter what I will always be here for you.” Diane struggled to find the words to tell her daughter that she knew.

Isabel sat up and pulled her knees to her chest, wrapping her arms around them in a protective posture. What had she found out? Not…no, she couldn’t know their secret!

“I don’t know what you’re talking about Mom. What do you think you have found out about us?”

Diane felt awful for the stress she was putting Isabel through. Her daughter’s face had gone deathly pale and if she wasn’t careful she was going to cause her lips to bleed from biting them so nervously.

“I found out who you and Max are. That you’re…aliens,” Diane blurted bluntly, bracing herself for the backlash she knew was coming.

Isabel’s entire body stiffened in reaction to hearing words that she never thought to hear from her mom. This was the moment that she had always dreamed of, dreaded, hoped for…but now what? Confirm or deny? Fight or flight? Her heart was beating so fast she wondered if her mom could hear it.

“Mom…I think you must be working too hard. I mean, you just said you think your children are aliens. This is some big joke right? Should I look around for the candid camera?” Isabel faked a laugh and tried to study her mom to see how serious she was.

“Iz, I know this has got to be a big shock to you to find out that I know. I overheard something, and saw a few things that are, well, out of this world, but you can trust me. I love you both, I would do anything for you, anything!” Diane’s sincerity rang true in her voice.

Isabel began to shake and huge tears welled in her eyes. “Mom! Oh my God you know! This is so unbelievable! I’ve wanted you to know for so long! So long…and now you’re saying that you know and you still…you still love us! I knew it! I knew it and I told them that you were different! That you could be trusted and that you would never turn away from us. This is so incredible!” Isabel launched herself into her mother’s open arms and cried. Her sobs mingled with her mother’s and they sat, rocking each other. They remained that way for a long time, each taking comfort in the others presence, secure in their love for each other.

“Oh Mom! There is so much I want to tell you, share with you, but we didn’t want to put you in any danger. We made a pact that no one could know. We thought it was better that way. I’ve wanted to tell you so many times.” Isabel’s tears made tracks down her normally perfectly made-up face.

Diane wiped the tears away and consoled her. “I know honey, I know it must have been terrible for you. And Max. I just…I just want to be a part of your lives. I want you to feel like you can share things with me. I would never judge you, and I may even be able to help you.”

Isabel sighed in contentment at Diane’s words. She knew her mother meant every one of them and would help them all that she could.

“Tell me what you know about yourselves, have you been able to learn anything? Why you’re here?” Diane started gently. She wanted Isabel to explain in her own words what she knew about herself.

“It’s a long story Mom,” Isabel lay her head back into Diane’s lap, closing her eyes in contentment when her mom began stroking her hair again. “We’ve found out we were in the crash in 1947. We were in these incubation pods and we developed there until we emerged in 1989. We looked like six year olds. Max and I stayed together, but we lost Michael, oh my God! You don’t know that Michael’s one of us do you?” Isabel wondered if she should have let that slip, but then decided that she would have found out sooner or later anyway.

“Michael too?” Diane gasped in shock. She had never considered that there may have been other children wandering the desert that night. “Is there anyone else?”

“Yeah, one more. Tess. You’ve met her Mom. She and Nacedo moved to Roswell last year. She’s…she came out later than the rest of us. We don’t know why. She was raised by a protector named Nacedo. He was supposed to raise us all, but he came too late, or we came out too early, whatever, he wasn’t there for us. He taught her all these different things. He told us about our destinies, or what he thought were our destinies. Now we’re not as sure that what he taught us was true.”

“Can’t you ask him? Do you have a reason to distrust this Nacedo?” Diane asked with worry in her tone.

“No. He died last year. That’s why Tess has been living with the Valenti’s, and recently we’ve discovered some things about Tess that have made us wonder if we can trust her.”

“Does anyone else know your secret?”

“A few people have found out. Liz knows. That’s kind of what started all this. Liz was shot at the Crashdown almost two years ago and Max healed her. He saved her life. That’s Max’s special gift, to heal people. After that she figured out for herself that he was different and she told her friend Maria. Later they told Alex, you know him, right?” Diane nodded. “Anyway, last spring Kyle Valenti was shot and Max healed him as well, so he knows. Oh and Sheriff Valenti knows too. He’s helped us a lot lately.” Isabel nodded her head to affirm her statement.

Diane shook her head. All these people had known and their own mother had been living in the dark. She was a little hurt, but at the same time she understood the chain of events that led to each of these others knowing her children’s secret.

“Is that why Liz and Max started dating?”

“Well, I think that’s part of it. You know Max, he would have been too shy to ever introduce himself to Liz in any normal way. This just kind of threw them together. He’s had a crush on her since we started school, but we’ve never really thought that we should get too close to anyone, you know? It might be dangerous for them and for us, if they found out what we are and turned us in.”

Diane was so sad to realize that her children had felt they needed to be so cut off from normal lives and relationships that they could never pursue any kind of romantic interest that might lead to something lasting.

“What do you mean, ‘turned you in’, is someone after you? Is there someone out there looking for you?” Diane remembered what she had seen from Max’s memories when the FBI had captured him. She shuddered, hoping that they had given up looking for her children.

“Well, the FBI have sent some people, but I think we took care of that last spring.” Isabel answered evasively.

“Have any of you been caught?” Diane knew the answer, but wanted it confirmed.

“I think you should talk to Max about that,” Isabel evaded again, she didn’t know how detailed she could get with her mother. I mean, should she tell her all about the FBI? That would mean she would have to say something about what happened to Max, and that was really his story to tell. If he ever could. And what about the Skins? Her mom definitely wasn’t ready to hear that there was an entire alien race that had been sent here just to destroy them. “He’s our king, our leader. We found that out last spring also. He was the king and I was his sister even then. Isn’t that strange that we’re still together?”

“Maybe not so strange, maybe that’s why you two stuck together after you hatched,” Diane mused aloud.

“Hatched?” Isabel giggled. “We’re not birds Mom!” Diane joined her in laughter, amazed that they could joke so easily about this already.

“Is this why Max has been so cut off from everything lately?”

“I think you really need to talk to Max Mom. I really don’t want to be evasive here now that you know everything, but some things are personal, and only Max can answer that. But you know what? I don’t think Max can really handle all this right now. Do you think I can just feel him out about this for the next couple days before we tell him that you know?” Isabel looked hopefully at her mom.

“I don’t know Iz, I really want to help him with everything. But if you think you’re right…yeah, I can wait if you think that’s what’s best.” Diane was sad to think that her son would be forced to lie to her for several more days.

They continued to talk into the night, connecting on so many new levels that it was almost like they were strangers, getting to know each other for the first time.

Later in the night the phone rang and Diane got up to answer it. The caller id said ‘Parker, Jeffrey’, so she knew that it must be Liz calling for Max.

“Hello?” Diane answered cheerfully.

“Hi Mom, it’s Max. I’m over at Michael’s and I was just wondering if I could spend the night? We’ve got a lot of studying to do.” Max’s voice was filled with longing, and contained an underlying tone of deep exhaustion.

Diane sighed inwardly. Max should not have to lie to her like this. There had to be a way that she could ensure that they could stay together.

“Of course you can Max. You sound tired, you should get some rest. Is everything all right?”

“Yeah, it is now. Good night Mom, and thanks. I really appreciate this.” Max hung up.

Diane put down the phone and walked back in to sit beside her daughter.

“That was Max. He’s going to spend the night with a friend so I’ll drop you off at school in the morning okay?”

“Yeah, that’d be great. It’ll give us more time to talk.” Isabel sighed in perfect contentment. One of her all time best dreams had come true tonight. Her mother knew exactly who and what she was and she wasn’t freaked out or treating her differently. She was unconditionally loved and accepted.

They spent the rest of the evening talking and laughing together.

Part 22

Knock, knock, knock!

Maria burrowed deeper into her pillow. This was the most annoying dream she’d had in a long time.

Knock, knock, knock!!!

Maria’s head peeked out from under the covers. Maybe it wasn’t a dream.

“Come in?” she called tentatively, making it more of a question than permission to enter. She peered blearily at her door for a moment before dropping her head back on her warm pillow. Very annoying dream!

Knock, knock, knock!!!!

Maria reared up in her bed in sudden fury, suspicion coloring her angry voice.

“Sean DeLuca if you don’t stop that right now I’m gonna…” she flung the door open and no one was there. “What the…?” She stared in bewilderment at the empty doorway.

Knock, knock…Maria swung around to face her window and jumped back in fright at the unexpected sight of a dark figure staring in.

“Don’t even think about it,” Maria mumbled, backing out the door, ready to run, ready to scream out for Sean’s assistance.

“Maria! It’s me, Michael!” A familiar voice whispered loudly.

Her heartbeat slowed for a moment before accelerating again with a new fear. What would bring Michael to her window in the middle of the night? She quickly made her way over to the window and eased it open, hoping her Mom’s radar wasn’t working tonight.

“Michael, what’s the…” Maria’s question was cut off abruptly as Michael took her face in his hands and hauled her in for a deep kiss. Maria was stunned by the hunger and need that she sensed in Michael. She responded eagerly, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him in the window without releasing him from her lips. They angled their lips together and let their tongues explore deeply into each other’s mouths. Maria moaned in the back of her throat, stimulating Michael to renew his efforts. His hands wandered over her back and up her arms, running over them as if she was cold. Maria moaned again, louder this time, and it brought momentary sanity back to Michael. He grasped her arms and held her away from him, looking into her eyes, searching for something. Desperate to find something within her gaze.

“Michael,” Maria started gently, “what’s happening to you?” Fear caused her voice to tremble. Michael was not one to show need or vulnerability. This was starting to remind her of another time Michael had come to her window. Such terrible pain and need of her comfort, locked inside him. He wouldn’t tell her then, couldn’t tell her, that he had been beaten by his stepfather. She had just held him in her arms that night, pouring her love and reassurance into him. But that was over now. Hank was gone. What could this mean? This lost look, this bewildered gaze?

“I just…I just really needed to do that,” Michael whispered brokenly. He gently brushed a tear off her face. She hadn’t even realized that this time she was the one who was crying.

“Talk to me Michael! Please!!” Maria’s eyes pleaded with Michael to let her in, to share his torment.

“Maria, I don’t even know why I came. I should go.” Michael turned to go back out the window, but was abruptly swung back around to face an infuriated Maria.

“You wake me up out of a sound sleep at…” she glanced over her shoulder at her alarm clock, “2:17 in the morning, scared the hell out of me and now you’re leaving without one word of explanation? I don’t think so buddy! You had better talk to me right now and it had better be good because I am not some toy that you can just pick up or leave hanging whenever you get the urge! Got it buster??” Maria’s eyes flashed fire and her face flushed rosily with the heat of her anger.

“Calm down Maria! Your Mom could wake up any minute!” Michael wrapped his arms around Maria’s slight form and hugged her to his body, trying to squelch her tirade. She pushed away from him roughly.

“My Mom will be the least of your worries if you don’t start talking right now!” Her hands moved to her hips and she started tapping her foot, impatiently waiting for an explanation.

“Maria I…it’s just something happened tonight. I’ve been driving around Roswell trying to figure it out in my own head, but I just kept coming by here. I really wanted to see you.” Michael hung his head, he couldn’t look her in the eye right now. This vulnerable thing did not sit well with him, and he couldn’t go around telling his girlfriend that he’d had Liz half naked and felt an incredible urge to…He shook his head. That didn’t even bear thinking! Maria was the one he wanted. He knew that.

“What happened Michael?” Maria wasn’t going to let it go.

Maybe he should just tell her part of it.

“Well, Liz has been getting these fevers…”

“What?? Is she okay?” Maria broke in, grabbing his arms and clinging tightly.

“Yeah, she’s fine. Max can…uh…heal them when the fevers hit.”

“Them? Is Max getting these fevers too? Is it some kind of alien thing?” Maria’s eyes widened at the new possibility.

“If you’d let me finish the story I think you’d get the answers a little faster!” Michael pushed his fingers through his unruly hair with impatience.

“Fine, fine go on.” Maria waved her hand, giving Michael permission to finish.

“Max and Liz get the fevers at the same time, and it seems the only way to get rid of it is to…well…they get together.” Michael glanced at Maria’s puzzled face and knew he wouldn’t get away that easily.

“They gotta have sex.” Michael winced at the high-pitched squeal that Maria let out, before clamping his hand over her mouth. Maria’s wide eyes danced with mirth. Of course she knew aliens were hot, but this? This was beyond.

“Anyways, they didn’t tell any of us that this was going on and Liz actually fainted at the Crashdown earlier. I had to carry her up to her room. She was sweating like crazy and I stuck her in a tepid bath to cool her off. She came to and told me that she needed Max, that they had to…get together, but Max wasn’t around. Then I started to get a fever. I was out of my mind, not thinking clearly at all. I just lay down beside her on the bed…”

“ YOU WHAT?? How did we get from the bath to the bed? Tell me you didn’t…” Maria sputtered for words, “sleep with her!!!”

“ NO! No, Maria of course not! I carried her back to her bed and then got really dizzy. I just lay down for a second and then Max came in through the window.” No reason to tell her that he had wanted to. Well, hadn’t wanted to exactly, but felt compelled to…He stopped that thought to. Maria was the one for him.

Maria slumped against him in relief. This was getting out of hand.

“What did Max do when he saw you there?” Time to get this back on track.

“I don’t think he even really saw me. He just went straight to Liz and they just…went at it.”

“What? Right there in front of you? That does not sound like Liz! There’s no way she’d just…”

“Look! I was there, I’m just telling you what happened. Believe it or don’t. I’m outta here.” Michael made another move to leave, but allowed himself to be pulled by the arm back into Maria’s arms.

“I’m sorry I was so harsh. It’s just really early and I’m not a morning person. You must have been really shocked by all that. I’m sorry.” She brushed her palm over his forehead, pushing his hair back. “Are you okay now? No more fever?” She asked solicitously.

“Yeah, it went away after…after Max and Liz…” he couldn’t finish.

“What are you saying? Are you somehow connected to them when they go into heat like that?” Maria brow furrowed with worry.

“I don’t know! I don’t know anything right now. I’m just gonna go home and try to get some sleep before school tomorrow. See ya there?”

“Yeah,” Maria answered, “I might be a little late. I want to swing by Alex’s to see how it went with Max.”

“Max said he’s gonna be fine, but I’m sure he’ll be glad to see you.” Michael put one foot over the windowsill and looked back at Maria. He offered her a small smile.

“Thanks for being here,” he whispered, before disappearing into the darkness.

“Anytime,” she whispered to the empty room.

Part 23

Liz stirred softly in bed beside Max, sighing in her sleep. Her dreams had been filled with Max all night. She snuggled her head further into the warmth of Max’s smooth skin under her cheek. Max’s arms automatically snugged her in closer to his body, even in dreams unwilling to let her go. In the dream they shared, each was laughing and carefree. Max was holding Liz’s hand and running through a field of bright flowers toward a bright light. The light shone down on a patch of grass amidst the flowers to reveal…

Liz’s alarm blared music into the still air of her bedroom, sending her bolting upright on the mattress. Max groaned and covered his eyes from the morning light with his arm slung over them. He let his eyes peek open when he felt Liz sliding back down into the circle of his embrace to snuggle back into his warmth.

“What time is it?” Max inquired, not really caring. This moment was perfect no matter what time it was.

“6:45.” Liz answered softly into his chest, her breath sending puffs of warm air over his skin. His breathing accelerated from even that simple stimulus.

“That’s early. We don’t have to be at school for a couple hours,” he hinted.

“I know. I thought that maybe we could stop by to see Alex before school. I really want to see for myself that he’s all right now.”

Max was touched by the concern in her tone. Liz was always a loyal friend.

“That’s a good idea. Do you think we should invite him to the meeting after school and fill him in on what’s going on now that we know he’ll be okay?”

“Thank you Max. I was just thinking the same thing. I don’t like keeping secrets from our friends.” Liz shifted against Max again, thinking that she had a secret and she didn’t feel right about keeping it from Max any longer.

“Max…about last night…” she started determinedly.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t here for you when you needed me,” Max broke in, filled with remorse that she had suffered without his presence. “I was healing Alex when the fever came on and I didn’t realize what it was for more than an hour. I promise I’ll try to stay closer from now on.” He kissed the top of her head and slipped his fingers through her silky hair.

“Michael was here,” she started again, propping her head on the hand that was laying on his chest. “He carried me upstairs after I passed out. No! I was fine!” Max was running his hands over her to assess for damage. “I was just so overheated that I fainted. He carried me up here and ran me a cool bath to reduce the fever.”

“That was a good idea, did it work?” Max asked her.

“It woke me up in a hurry, I can tell you that! It’s just, the thing is…he had to take off my uniform.” Liz cringed back in the bed as Max reared up in anger.

“He what?? Why the hell did he think he could just…just…” Max sputtered, unable to finish the thought of Michael seeing his Liz like that, let alone touching her.

“Calm down Max! Nothing happened! He was just being a friend and doing what he thought was right. I did feel better for a couple minutes in the bath, but then I just wanted to lie down. I wrapped up in a towel and lay down here on the bed, but then the strangest thing happened. Michael started to get a fever too. He was sweating and he opened the window, then he got so dizzy that he had to lie down beside me. I was really worried about him Max.” Liz could see that she was getting through to him now. Concern for their friend covered his features.

“When I turned to see if I could help him,” Liz paused and took a deep breath, the hardest confession was coming, “it was so strange. It was like I was drawn to him or something. Not my mind, but my body. I’m so sorry, I’m not explaining this right at all.” Liz hid her face in misery.

“What exactly happened between you Liz?” Max stroked her hair back gently and lifted her face to meet his gaze. He knew through their connection that Liz would never betray him. Something very strange was happening and he wanted to find out everything she knew.

“I don’t know!” she answered desperately. “We both had the fever and it was like for a second we were compelled to be together. We both realized it was happening at the same time and Michael got up immediately. Neither one of us wanted anything to happen, I swear!” Liz’s chocolate eyes begged Max to believe her.

“I trust you Liz. And I trust Michael. This is getting bigger than just us now. We have to know what’s happening to our bodies so that we don’t project our needs onto other people.” Max tried to work out in his head what could possibly have caused Michael’s fever and the only thing he could figure was that Liz’s need had somehow spiraled out to include the nearest person. He pulled her into a comforting hug.

“How are you doing on the chart thingy?” He asked her seriously.

“I haven’t had time to put it together yet,” Liz confessed. “My shift started right after you left and then I got so hot. Michael closed a few minutes early because of it and you know the rest.”

“We can work on it tonight after we get back from the cave. Michael said your parents are going to be out of town for another night. Is that right?” Max sighed softly in contentment at her nod. “Can I stay?” He held his breath for her response.

She pushed him back from her lightly. “You better stay! When else are we going to have the opportunity to snuggle together all night?”

He let his breath out in a whoosh. Tonight would be perfect!

“I wonder what new surprises the cave will spring on us tonight?” Liz expressed her concern. They already had so much to deal with, but this was so important. Why else would they have seem the vision together twice?

“We can do anything together.” Max reassured her, and he knew that it was true. He felt so strong when he was near her, so able to confront any new danger. He realized with a start that he had slept the entire night through without the hint of a nightmare. Feeling joyous and rested for the first time in ages he swung a surprised Liz in a circle around the room. He set her down laughing with her as they shared this perfect moment. He leaned his forehead down to touch hers. “I love you.”

“I love you too. Now,” Liz was getting back to business, “we have got to get ready and get to Alex’s before school!” She started toward the bathroom with Max close behind her.

They left a little later than she wanted when they took off for Alex’s.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Alex had been up since dawn. He felt so…well, WELL! Wellness had never really been an issue for him until he got a taste of being really ill. Physically and mentally. When he awoke and actually felt rested for the first time in months, he had sprung out of bed filled with energy and purpose. His first order of business was to get his grades back in order. He completed all of his assignments that were due and started on some extra credit to boost his previously apathetic performance.

His head came up when he heard a car pull into the driveway, closely followed by another. He went to the front and opened the door to reveal Maria, Max, and Liz, all beaming at him in joy. He opened his arms and his girls flew into them, mobbing him with hugs and kisses.

“Whoa!! I’m gonna get sick more often if this is the treatment I get!” Alex joked.

“How are you really?” Maria questioned.

“I feel great!” He told them enthusiastically. “Better than I have in months. Thank you Max! You really saved me.” The look that passed between the two spoke volumes. They were the only ones right now who knew exactly how much Max had saved him from.

“Do you wanna tell them or should I?” Alex questioned. There was no thought of not sharing everything with his best friends.

“Go ahead,” Max gestured for Alex to continue. Alex lead them to the living room. He settled in comfortably, telling them that his parents had already left for work.

“Well I guess that Tess should really come with a warning label. I thought that what she did to you and Max was bad, but what she did to me…” Alex dropped his head into his hands, remembering the pain that had resided there for so long. Both Liz and Maria looked on in confusion, just what had Tess done to poor Alex? “Well I guess it started when she realized how good I was with computers. I didn’t realize what she was up to for a long time, I just thought that she wanted to learn more for herself. Later she decided that I was the only person that could help her with a little project that she had cooked up. The problem was that she wanted me to translate the alien book that she had and I knew it would take special equipment and more time than I had. I refused to do it and that was the first time that she mindwarped me. I realize now that she made me forget the entire conversation, and then she made it seem like I had this golden opportunity to go to Sweden for a couple months on an exchange program. She was so powerful that she convinced the school, my parents, everyone that I was leaving. But I didn’t go to Sweden.” Outraged gasps interrupted softly at the realization of the scope of what had been done to Alex. “I was at the University of Las Cruces, cracking the code every night on that damn alien book. I did eventually translate it, and when I did I saved it on a disk that I gave to Max. The longer I was away from her the weaker her mindwarp was. I knew that I was doing something wrong. Or that something wasn’t right, I just couldn’t figure it out. I made a more general translation for Tess and gave her that in a hard copy. She took that and a laptop out to this old rental place and poured over it for hours. When she was ready to go she set up some kind of alien device to protect it and when we left she made me forget that I had ever been there. She gave me all these great memories of a fantastic trip to Sweden, and then I came home.” Alex ended his story.

“Oh my God! I can’t believe how evil she is! I knew she was bad, but this…this is just…I’m gonna kill her for what she put you through!!!” Maria’s face turned bright pink with her anger. She’d always know that conniving bitch was up to no good! Always trust your first instincts!!

“I’m with Maria!” Liz declared hotly. No one should get away with treating sweet, lovable Alex that way. Why she’d just plucked him up like some marionette and maneuvered his every action for months! And not one of them had know or suspected.

“I know we’re all angry here, but we have to keep cool heads,” Max tried to calm them down. “We don’t know exactly why this was so important to her, and we need to figure it out without tipping our hand.” Both girls shook their heads at him.

“No way I can be civil to that girl now!” Maria declared, in full on protective mother mode.

“We’ll try Max. We know how important this is.” Liz took Maria’s hand and held is reassuringly. “Maybe Maria and I should go out to lunch today. Then we won’t have to deal with Tess and you and I won’t have to worry that we’ll let something slip about us being together now.”

“You and Liz are together now?” Alex asked incredulously.

Liz reached out to Max and hugged him to her side. She had forgotten for a moment that Alex had not attended their little meeting the day before. “Yeah, you could say that we’re together.” She looked up at Max for permission to fill in Alex on their true situation. Max nodded with a smile for her to continue.

“We got married in Vegas.”

Alex’s jaw dropped comically and Maria pushed it back into position. Alex looked from Liz to Max’s grinning face and realized that they weren’t joking.

“I…I…don’t know what to say! Congratulation!!” He hugged first Liz and then Max tightly.

“Well I hate to break this up, but we’ve gotta get to school,” Liz said sadly, she really didn’t want this moment to end.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

The school day passed by quickly, with nothing unexpected happening. Liz and Maria avoided Tess at all costs, going out to lunch together and chatting about normal, teenage girl stuff. At one point Liz choked on her burger as Maria told her about the strange, early morning visit from Michael.

“He wasn’t himself. He seemed really concerned about these fevers you all are having. Which by the way you didn’t tell me about!” Maria shook a stern finger under Liz’s nose. “This is not the time to be withholding information. You should let me know what is going on with you so that I can help! Well,” she amended with a sly smile, “so I can get Max so HE can help!”

“Mariaaa! I can’t believe he told you about that!” Liz’s face was crimson with embarrassment.

Tess was more than happy to have Max all to herself and plastered herself against his side as they ate together in the quad. Alex, Michael, and Isabel tried to distract her as much as possible, but she would not be deterred. Max gritted his teeth and concentrated on blocking out any intrusion that Tess might try on his mind. It was very difficult with her hands traveling all over his thighs under the table. He gently removed them several times, shooting her a look that tried to say, “this isn’t the place or the time” without tipping her off to his deep disgust. She just giggled and pretended not to understand. Every time she so much as blinked, the group held their breaths, thinking that she was going to try something. Alex and Isabel had talked about his experiences earlier in the morning and she was as outraged as the rest of them. It was so hard to believe that they now had actual proof that Tess was as uncaring as Nacedo had been. Such a random disregard for human life and free will! It was very difficult to be so close to her, to actually choke down food in her presence, pretending that nothing had happened, but they could not leave Max alone with her.

After lunch the rest of the day passed quickly and soon it was time for the meeting at Michael’s.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Michael, Maria, Alex, and Isabel arrived at the same time and filled Alex in on the happenings that he had missed at the last meeting while they waited for Max and Liz. They came in looking flushed and satisfied, causing knowing grins and sly jokes from their friends. Both were too happy to care.

They caught each other up on the day’s events, but it was pretty short.

“The only thing I could see was that Tess is obviously making a play for Max.” Isabel ended her recitation. “She couldn’t keep her hands off of him at lunch today, she’s getting bolder and more public than she has been.”

Liz’s eyes flashed fire. Max had already told her what had happened, which let to the current satisfied look in Max’s eyes. There was no way she was going to let Tess lay her filthy hands on her man and replace the memory with a more pleasant one for him! Liz’s quick attack on Max’s body had surprised him at first, but he too was eager to cleanse himself of that repugnant touching at lunch.

Max reached out a hand now to run it over her hair soothingly, stroking her back into a more reasonable mood.

“We set up our first memory retrieval session for next Monday. Liz will be working at my Mom’s that day, so she’ll just sneak around to my window so she can watch what Tess does. Maria, Liz says you’re not working that night, so if you can…”

“You got it! I’ll keep a lookout so that no one wanders back there and catches Liz watching you two.” Maria was eager to advance their plan to figure out what Tess was up to so they could get rid of her. That chick was EVILLL!!

“Now who all is going out to the cave with Liz and me right now?” Max questioned the group.

“I’m going,” Michael stated, crossing his arms over his chest. He spoke only to Max, he was currently having a hard time looking at Liz after what they had gone through the day before, and everything he had seen that he shouldn’t have.

“I’m coming too,” Isabel put in. “Can you come Alex?” She asked him in that special soft tone she saved just for him.

“I can’t, I have a ton of school work to catch up on, and I’ve been begging for extra credit assignments from all of my teachers, so I’m out.” Alex was truly sorry to deny Isabel anything she wanted, and it caused a little thrill to his heart that she wanted him to join them.

“I have to work, as usual,” Maria declared morosely. “Someone’s gotta keep the shop running while you all tour the countryside.” She hated missing any adventure, and this time she knew they were going to find something.

“Shall we get going then?” Max questioned, moving to the door and holding it open as everyone filed out. “I’ll drive us out there in the Jeep.”

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

The drive was a long one, but shortened by their lively conversation. The hike was as exhausting as it had been the first time Max and Liz had met Riverdog at the cave, but the excitement of knowing they would find something overcame any tiredness they might have felt.

Arriving at the cave, Michael stepped up and unwrapped the healing stones, inserting them into their proper slots in the wall. They formed the V constellation that was their map home and began to glow. Michael stepped back to allow Max and Liz room to do what they remembered from their vision.

Together the joined hands and tapped out the proper sequence onto the stones in the wall. When they finished they looked and each other and sat back. At first, nothing happened, but just as they were beginning to wonder what had gone wrong, a low rumbling sound broke the stillness.

As they looked on in awe a small seam appeared in the rock and spread apart to reveal a recess in the stone. Peering keenly into the darkness they saw a small box nested cozily in the hole.

Max reached in and removed the box. He stood with Liz and turned to face the others. Holding his breath he slowly peeled back the lid.

Author’s Note: This part was written way out of sequence over a month ago. It kept me awake until I wrote it down. It was completed at 3am on a work night, so take a minute and let me know if it was worth it!!!

Part 24

“What is it Max?” Liz gazed down in wonder at the object in the box.

“It looks like a necklace,” Max gently removed it from it’s casing and held it out to Liz. As she began to take the smooth round stone into her hands it suddenly flared with light. She gasped and moved her hand away. Max cradled it gently, looking at it with new respect.

“The stone looks like one of the healing stones,” Isabel noted, “but the cord, it looked like leather at first glance, but now,” she fingered it gently, “I’m not sure what it is.”

“It didn’t glow when you touched it with Max,” Michael said, wondering if it would glow for him. He reached out and touched it as Liz had. Nothing. “Try it again Liz.”

Liz tentatively reached out her hand again and the stone instantly glowed to life. Her posture straightened and her eyes dilated to black as she formally turned to face Max and bowed to him. Isabel and Michael gaped at the change in Max and Liz’s demeanor. Max’s posture had straightened as well, and, as if performing a stylized ceremony, Liz took the necklace flat in her palms. She bowed even deeper before standing straight again and reaching out to place the necklace around Max’s throat. Max moved automatically in a straight, stiff bow to allow her to reach his neck. As Liz placed the ends of the short cord together at the back of his neck, they fused instantly together in a permanent bond. The necklace hung just to the hollow of his throat, the amber stone the size of a small grape.

They turned together to face the center of the cave, side by side. Isabel and Michael stood ready to rip it off Max’s neck at the slightest indication of trouble and gazed on in wide-eyed wonder at what was happening.

Max abruptly bent his right arm at the elbow, palm up and Liz placed her left forearm over the top of his, palm down. As their palms connected the stone took on a new glow and an image began to appear in the middle of the cave.

Isabel gasped out loud. Her mother! She had never dared hope to see or hear from this precious woman again. She could barely breathe. Michael put a supporting arm over her shoulders to steady her. She leaned in gratefully as her mother began to speak words that would change their lives forever.

“My son, My King, you have been led to this communication stone because you are fulfilling your destiny. This message can only be triggered because you and the human life mate we have made for you have created a child together. He is to be our planet’s savior.

“I am sure you have many questions. I will attempt to explain the chain of events that have led to this communication. After we sent your pods to the earth to incubate in safety, it was discovered that Avara, your bride, betrayed you all. As you will recall, Vilandra placed her life in jeopardy to become a spy for us in the enemy camp. She sent her messages of enemy movements to Avara directly, because she possessed the gift of mind reception. It was only discovered years later that Avara gave false reports to her King and this resulted in the deaths of you all.

“The rarest gift we possess is prescience. It takes a very special mind to withstand the toll that future knowledge takes without going insane. Because of this we have only two talented seers. They have seen your human lives and told us your names. Both have agreed that the one you know as Tess will betray you again. An agreement has been made through your protector Nasedo to impregnate Tess with Max’s child and return all of you to your deaths on our planet. The child must be yours Max. It has been foretold widely that the son of Zan will come back with the powers of all to conquer the enemy and free our people. Khivar wishes to raise this child and control the powers he will possess. We could not let this happen.

“To prevent this, the resistance here has pooled all of our resources to allow you to overcome the enemy. We are able to travel through space in a non-physical form very quickly to inhabit the bodies of humans and use them as vessels for our needs. We located two humans of the right age and geography and sent our seers into them. Their names were Jeffrey and Nancy Parker. Our seers used their abilities within the human bodies to genetically manipulate ova and sperm to the exact specifications we needed. A child was created to be the perfect mate for you Max. You will have each felt an irresistible pull toward the other upon first meeting. It was too late to send anyone from our planet; the incubation would have been too long. She is entirely human.

“The human form was chosen for all of you because the gifts that seem so extraordinary to them are actually things they can do as well if they could just utilize more of their brains. We have triggered in Liz that portion of her brain that she can use for prescience. This gift was deemed to be the most useful to you for the fight on earth. She will only manifest this gift after you have made a deep connection with her. She will only gain her full abilities as the child grows within her. This child must be protected at all costs!

“It has been foretold that Max must remain with his team on earth as we have placed that planet in grave danger by sending you there. The war will be long but you will prevail with perseverance. The only hope for Antar is if your son comes home to lead our armies to victory.

Because Liz is in a purely human form and the child contains alien DNA we had to factor in a way to maintain the pregnancy. The alien portion of the child’s development will cause an enormous energy drain on Liz. The child will develop much slower than an Antarian pregnancy. The process should take approximately ten human months. Because of the physical drain on the human mother we have genetically coded the child to remain very small for the first eight months of gestation. The child will continue to develop perfectly until this time.

“To provide the child with the alien nutrients he will require to reach his full powers and to lessen the drain on Liz, you will need to mate often. The alien properties within the sperm will develop the child’s abilities. The baby will manifest its needs by causing an increase in the temperature of both mother and father and an irresistible pull toward each other. In the case where Max may not be available, your second in command, Michael, may step in to take his place. If hybrid sperm is not supplied to Liz within 24 hours of the fever, both mother and child could die. This cannot be allowed to happen. For this reason we used Jeffrey and Nancy’s bodies to go into the pod chamber while you were incubating and place a protective instinct into both Max and Michael for the welfare of the child. While they were there, they formed a connection, enhancing their talents with the granolith, to materialize this stone to earth. Jeffrey will secure it inside a cave.

“To protect the child you must destroy Tess. She cannot be allowed knowledge of the creation of our savior. Do it quickly.

“Max, you must wear this stone at all times. It will enhance your connection to Liz and the child and enable you to locate her quickly in the event you become separated or need to mate. Other messages are contained within the stone and will be triggered psychically by your need.

“Our entire future is depending on you. I look forward to the day my grandson will return to save us all.”

The image faded to nothing and, as it did, Max and Liz collapsed together to the ground, unconscious.

“Oh my God! Michael, are they all right?” Isabel rushed forward and cradled her brother=s head in her lap. Michael reached out to Liz and gathered her into his arms, rocking rhythmically back and forth. So much to process! They had to be okay.

Max and Liz began to groan simultaneously and struggled to sit up. Their eyes locked. They freed themselves quickly from the others and crawled to each other wrapping their arms safely around one another.

“Liz, are you all right?” Max whispered into her hair, placing his palm protectively over her abdomen.

“I’m fine...I think. We…I can’t believe it!”

“The babyY he’s really in there isn’t he? I can’t believe we didn’t figure it out before! All those fevers, our attraction, Michael’s protective hovering; now it all makes sense...if anything can anymore. What are we going to do?” Max’s eyes were streaming tears at the thought of Liz carrying his child.

Liz’s eyes were damp as well. She rested her palm over Max’s. “We’ll do what your mother told us and keep our son safe.”

“We need to call a meeting right away and get a game plan,” Michael interjected.

“Your right,” Max helped Liz to stand, “
“Yeah, I think that’s best. Liz and Isabel can use their cell phones on the way over to call Maria and Alex to come over ASAP.”

“All right, let’s go.”

They filed out of the cave in pairs. As Max supported Liz’s trembling frame he couldn’t help but think that again, things were never going to be the same.


Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
-Robert Frost
posted on 31-Aug-2001 1:48:56 PM
Part 25

The walk back to the car was completed in almost total silence, broken only once when Michael and Isabel called Maria and Alex respectively, and asked them in hushed and urgent tones to meet them at 9:30 at Michael’s. Each was wrapped up in consuming thoughts of the changes that were coming. None of them would ever be the same. Michael took the keys from Max, not even questioning that Max and Liz needed some time in the back of the car to be alone together.

Michael noted how Liz curled up immediately into Max’s lap with his arms wrapped securely around her. Cocooning her from the world, from everything but each other. And their child.

He crawled into the Jeep and the engine groaned to life. A child. A savior for their planet. A heavy sigh escaped his lips as he raised his eyes to the black night sky. Stars winked facetiously at him, mocking his thoughts. He would never go home. This was his home now. That thought thudded like a stone into his consciousness. So many times he had dreamed of leaving, of getting into a ship or ‘beam me up Scottie’ or whatever. He had lived his life knowing that his time on Earth was only temporary, never putting down roots, avoiding attachments, because he knew in his heart that he would only have to leave one day. Leave everything that he had built here on Earth. So he had built nothing.

Nothing. His life right now consisted of him being some distant, unreachable stonewall that was consciously abrasive, that pushed everyone that might have a chance at his heart away. All that time he had wasted. All the connections he could have made. Maria.

His heart soared. He needed to see Maria. He needed to tell her…everything. He had never let anyone see into his heart, but the only person he had ever wanted to see, to know, was Maria. This funny, clever, talkative girl that had persistently pursued him, who had never given up on him no matter what kind of a jerk he had been, and he knew how to be a jerk! It was like she already knew how his heart had longed for her, how he just hadn’t been ready to share himself yet. She deserved to know now what his life was, what it had been.

He winced. Sharing with Maria would no doubt mean hysterics and flying objects when he had to tell her about his connection with Liz. A shiver ran down his back at the thought of what could have transpired between them if Max hadn’t shown up the night before, and a cold finger of fear ran down his spine at the thought of what would have happened to Liz and the child if Max hadn’t shown up and Michael had successfully denied his instincts to protect the child he hadn’t known was there.

The child must be protected. Max and Isabel’s mother had said that this child could only be created upon Max’s first mating. This was their only chance at the savior who would protect their home planet. Michael’s thoughts ran rapidly, cataloguing the catastrophes that could befall them before the child was born. He resolved that he would do what he had to, whatever he had to, to protect this baby, but he would make damn sure that Max never left Liz’s side!

Decision made, Michael straightened his shoulders and, revving the engine he sped through the night toward home. Home!

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Isabel was staggered by the implications of what had transpired this night. Her mind whirled through the possibilities that lay before her now. She had learned what her heart had wanted to believe all along. She was not a traitor. Isabel Evans was not a traitor! She had, in fact, put herself in extreme danger for her family and her people so that they could win the war. Her only fault had been trusting too easily in the wrong person. Tess. Isabel shuddered in distaste for all she had learned about Tess recently. She had trusted her again when she had come to their school as a new student, and even more when she had revealed herself to be one of them.

One of them. Liz was one of them now. Maybe not the same as them exactly, but a product of their people. Sent to save them from the danger that was Tess and to create the boy, the man, that would save her people. A rush of gratitude ran through her as she thought of all that Liz Parker, uh Evans, had done for her family. She had no doubt that Liz loved her brother as much as he loved her.

She peeked back to check on how they were doing, and immediately averted her eyes. They hadn’t been doing anything in particular, Max was just stroking down Liz’s back as her hand traced circles over his broad chest, but the way they were looking at each other…it was as if they were communicating without words, and the moment seemed so charged, so intense, that Isabel had felt as if she were intruding.

She stared out at the endless ribbon of road before them, the darkness cut only by the twin beams of light emanating from the Jeep. She wasn’t a traitor! She basked in the sheer glory of the knowledge that she never had to worry about her dark side returning. She gloried in the fact that this was stated out loud to all the people who were important to her, and she glowed with the memory that even before they had heard the pronouncement, they had never doubted her for a moment. This was love.

Her thoughts drifted back to Max and Liz. Love. They were so connected, always had been. Now they knew why. Liz was made for Max. She wondered if anyone had been made for her. If one day out of the blue, she would meet some tall, handsome stranger’s eyes across a room and know…just know that he was the one. She pulled herself out of that daydream with an effort of will. She should be the happiest woman alive. She was not a traitor and everyone knew it. Her mom knew the truth about her children and still loved her without treating her any differently, and this was her home.

Home. She would never again need to worry that one day they would suddenly find a way to travel home and be compelled by her loyalty to her alien family to leave everything and everyone she loved behind to fight in a war that she couldn’t remember the cause of. She was giddy with the knowledge. Happy all over for the first time in so long she couldn’t even remember.

Her gaze drifted to Michael. He looked so determined. Resolved. This would affect every aspect of their lives and she wondered how he was taking the news that they would never go home. That their war was here on Earth. She hoped she could talk with him later, comfort him. It had always been Michael, more than any of them who needed to know all the answers, who wanted to find their alien roots so he could make a connection, feel involved and loved for who he was. Now he would have to find that connection on Earth.

And how were Max and Michael going to react to each other now that it had been revealed that Michael could step in for Max to provide nutrients for the child Liz carried. She predicted shouting and breakage before this matter would be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction. She was pretty sure that Max would never leave Liz’s side. This situation could become very awkward. What if the urge to mate came over them in school, or at the dinner table? She shuddered delicately. There had to be a way to avoid it. Maybe she should tell their mother what was going on. She had been so understanding about everything else. She pondered that for a while, watching the road slip past endlessly, without really seeing it. No. It was not her place to tell their mother. Max needed to be the one to place his trust in her and to let her in on the events that had changed all their lives. Forever.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

When they crawled into the Jeep Max gathered Liz automatically into his arms. She crawled up into his lap without even thinking about safety belts for once. Their lives had been irrevocably changed this night. The revelations in the cave affected them more directly than anyone else. As they had walked to the car with their arms wrapped around each other for support, they had realized that their connection was enhanced to a degree they had only ever reached before when they were in the throws of passion. Now they could hear the whisper of each other’s thoughts with very little effort.

It was a tangle of desperate emotion that was mirrored in each. Love. Fear. Anxiety. Anger. It was hard to separate one from the other.

When they settled into the Jeep and took off down the road they attempted to sort out their emotions together in a silent communication that came so naturally that they didn’t consciously register the fact that no physical words were emanating from their mouths.

Max’s hand drifted down to rest over her flat abdomen. He opened a connection to search for the child within her, sharing the process with Liz. They gasped in awe at the tiny spark that met their search. This small life would mean so much to so many. It seemed impossible to ponder the fact that he would grow to be a man of war. A man of peace. A fighter and a son.

‘How are you doing?’ Max questioned silently, stroking his hand rhythmically down her narrow back.

‘I don’t even know where to start,’ the fear echoed through the connection, flaring Max’s protective instincts into full life.

‘I love you. I will always be here for you, you know that, right?’ Max sought to reassure her.

‘Of course I do,’ she answered almost calmly, ‘But is that because of who I am or what I was made to be? Is it fair to you that I was literally made for you? You never had a chance to experience anyone else.’ Her trepidation grew, but she forced herself to name her most obvious fear. How would Max react to the news that they had been basically set up? That there had never been a choice about who he would love? That his free will had been taken away from him as surely as when he thought that Tess was his destiny?

‘Don’t even think that I don’t love you for everything you are! There is no point in wondering how we are together, because if you were made for me, then surely I was made for you as well. We are one. We are meant to be together and I thank whatever power there is out there that I have you in my life, that I have the chance to love you, to know you, to be with you every day of my life! There is no place I would rather be, and absolutely no one I can imagine being with that could compare to you. You are everything to me!’ Silent tears streamed from their eyes at the intensity of Max’s speech. Their connection was so strong there could be no lies between them. Any hint of insincerity would have been a blaring scream against the quiet magnitude of the truth.

They were made for each other.

Liz buried her head under Max’s chin and sobbed her happiness into his chest.

What are we going to do?’ Her thought wound its way into his mind.

‘We will do anything it takes to protect our son,’ a fierce wave of fury rushed through Max at the thought of Tess’ evil plan. He would put a stop to that before she even knew what hit her.

Liz gasped softly. ‘Max! You can’t just walk into a room and kill her!’ Her shock was ringing through to him and he stroked her soothingly.

‘We’ll talk about what to do with her at our meeting.’ He reassured her.

‘What do we say to our parents?’ She wondered. Now that she knew that she was pregnant, there was no way they could hide that from their parents.

‘We have eight months to plan that, and if we get rid of Tess, then we won’t have to hide our marriage from them anyway. I’ll be eighteen in a couple weeks, and you’ll be eighteen in October. The baby isn’t due until the first part of January, so even if they object, we’ll be legally adults. I won’t let anyone keep us apart.’ Now that Max knew about Liz and his child, he couldn’t imagine spending a moment away from her. He needed to talk with his mother. His heart shrank at the thought of her reaction to Liz’s pregnancy. They would think he was so irresponsible. Now he knew that this child was meant to be regardless of whether Liz was on the Pill or not.

Liz suddenly straightened up against him. She had been swept with the realization that none of this had taken place in their future reality. Future Max had not worn this necklace, would never have told them to be apart if he had known about this child. They had not made a child. She remembered the vision of Max’s mother saying that this child would only be created upon Max’s first joining. In the future reality that had been told to her, Max had come to her room with a condom in his back pocket. That must have been what prevented the conception. Her heart grew cold at the thought of what could have happened if her and Max had not gotten back together. If her plan to push him toward Tess had worked. Max must have known somewhere in his soul that Tess was not right for him, could never be the one.

Max rained kisses over her face and neck while Liz rubbed slow circles over his chest. They were one. Heart, mind, body, and soul.

The Jeep revved suddenly and sped up through the dark night, causing them to look up at Michael. Max’s expression darkened and a wave of fury and helplessness at their situation swept over him.

Liz soothed his thoughts. ‘I only want you. You are the only one for me.’

‘I know that Liz. I know that with everything inside me, but I still feel so…so…I don’t even know how I feel. It’s not his fault that he feels a compulsion to protect the child. I just…I’ll always make sure that it’s me who’s close to you, that nourishes our child. I won’t let anything harm either of you!’

‘I know that Max, I know.’

The car sped through the night toward their new destiny.

Part 26

Alex was waiting outside Michael’s apartment when the others arrived. They all filed in quietly, and Alex shot Isabel a worried look. He couldn’t tell if they were happy or sad, they just looked stunned.

“What’s goin’ on guys? You all look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Alex joked weakly.

“You won’t believe it when we tell you Alex,” Isabel leaned her head unexpectedly on his shoulder. He awkwardly wrapped his long arms around her waist and patted her back, unsure what else to do.

“Let’s wait for Maria so we only have to go over it once, Liz is exhausted,” Max inserted, helping a weary Liz to sit on the sofa. He made sure she was comfortable, then his eyes met Isabel’s and he crossed the room to give her a hug. She must be so relieved about her past life. All that time she had spent torturing herself that she had been a traitor had been wasted! He was so happy for her.

Isabel turned to Max and buried her head in his shoulder, sobbing quietly for the first time since finding out about herself. It felt wonderful and embarrassing at the same time to release those tears. She normally tried to save them for when no one was around, but this time she felt entitled, and Max understood.

Alex gazed on in worried perplexity, impatiently checking his watch to see when Maria would arrive. She was already five minutes late.

Michael sat beside Liz tentatively, unsure what her reaction to him would be.

“Are you all right?” He started, not looking her in the eye.

“Yeah. Just drained from all the new stuff, you know.” She tried to make him look at her and felt a jolt of satisfaction when he finally did.

What he saw was trust and acceptance. Just the thing he needed to release him from his awkward feelings of vague guilt, even when he knew he had done nothing wrong.

“New stuff, yeah, I guess you could say you’ve got a few things on your mind now, huh?” Michael’s eyes smiled at her and she grinned back at him, placing her hand over her stomach. On sudden impulse she reached for Michael’s hand and placed it under hers.

“Can you feel him?” She queried, with wonder in her tone. Her shining eyes asked him to make a connection, to share this powerful child who would make such a difference in all their lives.

Michael closed his eyes and concentrated, reaching out and trying to focus the powers that had always been so difficult for him. The line of his mouth relaxed and a small smile hovered on his lips when he felt the tiny flutter of life inside her. Awe swept through him until he was suddenly jerked to his feet by his shirtfront.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing to her!” Max’s boiling anger instantly consumed him when he glanced over and saw the intimate position of Michael’s hand on his wife’s stomach and the rapt expression on his face.

Frustration and unreasonable guilt flowed through Michael, causing his typical reaction to fight back. “What? Did you think I’d just throw her down right here on the floor and have my wicked way with her in front of everyone? That’s more your style than mine, isn’t it Max?” Michael threw the dart well, aiming at Max’s recent night spent with Liz when he had taken her almost right in front of Michael.

Max’s face paled and then went red with rage. He shoved Michael back against the wall roughly. Michael hit the wall hard, but kept to his feet. Max’s clenched fist hovered in the air, ready to strike.

“Is that what you had in mind last night when you had her practically naked in her bed?” Max’s rage was so strong that he couldn’t control the words coming out of his mouth. His unreasoning jealousy made him forget that he already knew exactly what had lead to Liz’s state of undress the night before.

A whimper at the door was only noticed by Liz. The horrified expression on Maria’s face made Liz push to her feet and intervene between the fighting men. She grabbed a handful of shirt from each man and started shouting, “Will you two please grow up and simmer down?! I can’t believe the way you are acting!” She turned on Max, “You know very well what happened last night and you should be thanking Michael for trying to help me when you weren’t around to do it!” Michael let out a satisfied snort of agreement and Liz rounded on him next. “And you Michael! What kind of a smartass comment was that to be making when you know very well what our situation is! I can’t believe you would throw that in our faces when you know we didn’t have any control over it! And don’t worry, you’re services will not be required!” She hauled them each by their shirts over to the couch and pushed them down to sit together side by side. Each looked sufficiently chastened, so she turned to Maria.

Maria still stood at the doorway, allowing the frame to prop her up. She had really been a very understanding girlfriend up to this point, she mused, considering that her love was an alien. She had even tried to be reasonable when she thought that Michael and Isabel had created a child together. But this! This involved Michael and her best friend. And it didn’t sound good.

“Just what the hell is going on here?” She demanded with venom in her tone, her laser sharp gaze pinning Michael to the sofa.

Michael shot up from the couch immediately and crossed quickly to Maria’s side. He attempted to put his hands on her arms, but she smacked him away sharply.

“Uh uh. You are not going to touch me again until I have heard a decent explanation of what you two were fighting about!” Her chin swept up a notch and she slammed the door behind her, crossing her arms in front of herself and tapping her foot impatiently.

“Tell me I did not just hear that you’ve got a thing for Liz.”

“No! Maria you’ve got it all wrong! It’s not that simple. You just need to calm down and listen…” Liz begged.

“No. Liz I want to hear this from Michael.” Maria stood there, tapping her foot and never took her glare off of Michael.

“Let’s all just sit down here and go over everything that happened today. It’ll all make sense then, I promise.” Isabel guided a reluctant Maria into the overstuffed chair and sat her down.

“This had better be good Michael.” Her frigid stare was starting to unnerve him.

“Oh, believe me! It’s a real treat.” Michael said in weary tones. He dragged impatient fingers through the mess of his hair and took a deep breath for courage. Maria was not going to like any of this.

“Okay it’s not what you think. Or not exactly what you think anyway. Liz and Max have been getting these fevers since they got married, and it turns out that I’ve been getting them too, just a little later than them.”

“What? What are you talking about Michael? What does this have to do with your thing for Liz?” Maria demanded impatiently.

“ I DO NOT HAVE A THING FOR LIZ!” Michael shouted in frustration, pacing back and forth in agitation.

“Don’t you raise your voice to me Michael Guerin!” Maria sprang to her feet in fury.

Liz moved over and put her arm around her. She looked up at the men in their lives and silenced them with a glance.

“I can explain it Maria,” Liz said gently. “Max and I have been getting these fevers and the only way to get rid of them is to, well, to make love.” Liz dropped her eyes from Maria’s incredulous gaze.

“What? Does that mean that Michael wants to…has to…” Maria sputtered to a stop, unable to voice her worst fear.

“NO! Maria, no! When we went to the cave today we found this necklace,” Liz reached out her hand to Max and he sank down on the couch beside her, she touched the stone on the necklace and it flared brightly, eliciting a startled gasp from Maria. Max smiled softly at the proof of his and Liz’s connection. He had calmed down considerably, reopening his connection to Liz and hearing the voice of reason. She gave him a private smile before turning back to Maria. “When I put it around Max’s neck it transmitted another message from his and Isabel’s Mom, a newer message than the one we had seen before. To make it short, she said that Tess is plotting against us and that I was literally made for Max.” Liz forestalled Maria’s inevitable urge to interrupt with a gesture of her hand, begging her to let her finish before interjecting. “They sent down two of their people and basically took over my parents so that they would conceive me. They manipulated my molecular structure so that I would be perfect for Max.” Max squeezed her hand, letting it flow through the connection that he was perfectly satisfied with the way things had turned out.

“That’s why you two have always been drawn together.” Maria said in wonder. The knowledge settled into her with a satisfying click at how clear it all was now that they knew. All those years with her two friends pining helplessly for each other, that whole soul mate connection thing when they gazed into each other’s eyes. Wow!

“Yeah. We’ve always known somewhere inside us,” Max murmured, rubbing his fingers over the back of Liz’s neck, just where her tension was gathered. She leaned back into his caress, enjoying the comforting warmth of his fingers.

“The message was triggered because I’m pregnant.” Liz blurted out, leaning back into Max’s side quickly, as if to avoid Maria’s inevitable reaction.

Maria did not disappoint.

“ YOU’RE WHAT??? I thought you were on the Pill! Wait a minute, you two are barely married! How could you know already?” Maria’s face flushed bright red and her arms gesticulating wildly around her. “Don’t even answer that!” She switched gears suddenly. “This is all some weird Czechoslovakian thing isn’t it?” Her eyes flashed fire at Michael, as if accusing him of having something to do with it. She stabbed her finger into his chest. “It’s a good thing I told you no buddy, because I am not cut out to be a mother at this stage in my life!”

“You were the one who was all over me all the time! I was the one who always…” Michael’s protest was cut short by a sharp smack against his upper arm.

“It doesn’t matter who did what!” Maria reversed herself quickly. “How do you know you’re pregnant?”

Liz looked at Max for strength. His arm tucked her into the curve of his side and he took over the tale.

“Our mother told us that the message could only be triggered if Liz was carrying our child. The savior of our planet.” Maria’s eyes widened again, impossibly large in her pale face.

“They apparently have seers on our planet. They’ve programmed Liz to have this gift to help our team when Tess is gone.” He spat out Tess’ name like it left a bad taste in his mouth.

“They’ve told us that we need to protect our son at all costs because he will be the one who goes back to our planet to save our people. In order for Liz to be able to carry a partially alien baby it requires certain nutrients that can only be passed to him through alien sperm.” Max faltered before going on. “There were only two men on the planet that could provide it, so they gave us a protective impulse to take care of Liz when the fevers weaken her.”

“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” Maria asked incredulously.

“Yeah. But I promise that I will always be near Liz when she needs to…uh…feed the baby.” He finished lamely. The look on his face and his choice of words startled a chuckle out of Liz and Isabel. They sobered immediately when they saw the look on Maria’s face.

“I’m sorry Maria!” Liz said quickly, “I wasn’t laughing at that. I just…”

“No Liz. That’s not why I’m upset. Is it dangerous for you to carry this baby? What could happen to you if Max doesn’t…you know.” She made a vague gesture with her hands.

“We’re not going to find out Maria. I will always be there for her, okay?” Max didn’t want to tell her that his alien mother had said that Liz and the child could both die if she didn’t get what she needed within twenty-four hours.

“You’d better,” Maria muttered darkly.

“There’s more Maria,” Isabel took up the tale.

“More? What more could there be? Haven’t we been through enough?” She wailed plaintively, allowing Michael to put his arms around her at last. It wasn’t his fault that his alien family had messed with his instincts.

Isabel quickly filled her in on the rest of the details. How Isabel was vindicated from her traitor status and that Tess had always been the betrayer of their people, how they had been directed to destroy Tess before she learned of Liz’s pregnancy.

“About damn time,” Maria muttered under her breath.

“Max needs to wear the necklace at all times. It enhances his connection to Liz, so he can locate her no matter where she is.” Isabel finished.

“I don’t think we could take it off anyway,” Liz tugged on the cord and turned it to see where it had fused together.

“Quite a fashion statement,” Alex laughed. He was amazed at the turn of events, and so happy for Isabel. She had been carrying around a heavy load of guilt lately.

“Yeah. I hope it stays ‘in’,” Max joked back. He’d never sought to be openly trendy, he hoped his parents didn’t comment on his choice of accessories.

“When are we gonna kill Tess?” Maria asked callously. No one messed with her friends and got away with it.

“We can’t just walk up to her and…and kill her,” Liz’s voice broke over the hard words.

“Why not?” Michael asked.

“Michael, I’m the first one to admit that it has to be done,” Max said, “but we have to think this through. The world sees her as this innocent teenager, and even though we know differently we have to be careful how we go about this. There may be things that she knows that we should learn from her.” Liz gasped softly as her connection allowed her to see Max’s plan.

“You are not going to be alone with her!” Liz exclaimed, horrified by the thought.

“No, no. Michael and Isabel can back me up.” Max stroked her face soothingly, allowing his fingers to tangle in her silky hair.

“What are you two talking about?” Michael interjected, impatient with being out of the loop.

“Max wants to go ahead and let Tess come to his house on Monday to work on the memory retrieval.” Liz had gone pale.

“Are you crazy? Do you think you can just let her go walking around in your mind like that? She’s gonna find out that we’re on to her!” Michael couldn’t believe the stupidity of the plan.

“I’m not gonna let her into anything I don’t want her to see. I’m sure I can block her from the parts of my memories that I don’t want her to see.”

Michael cut him off. “How are you gonna do that?”

“With this.” Max lifted the stone around his neck. It glowed with a weak light when he concentrated on it. “It’s like it enhances my power. I feel like, since it’s connecting me to Liz, I can tap into more of my own power. It’s like it’s honing my strength.” He shook his head. “I don’t know how else to explain it.”

“Are you sure this will work?” Isabel’s worry shone from her eyes.

“I think so. After she shows me how to retrieve those memories, maybe I can find out more of her plan. It may be our only chance to find out what she knows.”

“I don’t like it.” Liz put in.

“Me either, but if Iz and I are right there…” Michael thought about all they could learn. “I’ll help you Max. I’ll back you up.”

Max gave him a grateful look and turned to Isabel.

“If you really think you can…”

“I can Iz.” Max infused his voice with certainty.

“Okay. I’m with you, but the first sign of…”

“I got it Iz. When we’re through we’ll take her out for a quiet drive in the desert, okay?”

“Okay.” Isabel was nervous about the thought of what would happen in the desert, but knew it was necessary.

“It’s getting late guys,” Alex noticed that it was after 10:30. “We have school tomorrow.”

The group groaned. How could they be expected to go back to something so normal after all that they had learned.

“Max, can you…” Liz didn’t finish her sentence.

“Yeah, I’ll be spending the night again,” he murmured into her ear.

Liz purred with pleasure. This was how it should always be.

As they began to leave Michael grabbed Maria’s arm. She turned weary eyes to look at him.

“What is it Michael?” Her tone told him to make it snappy.

“Stay. We need to talk tonight,” he said gruffly.

“Michael, I’m really tired and I just want to…”

“Please.” His soft tone caught her off guard, and just the fact that he’d said please told her how important this was to him.

“Okay.” She went back in and sat down. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”

Part 27

Michael closed the door behind his departing friends and took a deep breath for courage before turning around. Maria was sitting on the couch, leaning forward with her head in her hands.

“All right Michael,” Maria began, “I’m here. And seriously, I don’t know what you want to…”


“…talk about, but, let me tell ya, I’m very tired. There was this one…”


“…customer who just wouldn’t leave the Crash tonight. Kept nursing…”


“…that same cup of coffee until I just wanted to boot him out the…”

“Maria! I really need to talk to you, so do you think you could just listen for a minute?” Michael was exasperated, here he was trying to open up his heart to his girl for the first and only time in his life and she was raving on about some lunatic customer that made her late tonight!

“…door.” She finished lamely. She finally looked up at Michael and was startled by the intense expression in his eyes. She huffed a small breath, probably lost in his ‘Liz connection’. Yep, probably had nothing to do with her.

“Are you trying to break up with me? ‘Cause I could save you the trouble.” Maria stood up and began stalking to the door. Michael. Michael in the way. She diverted her path to go around him, but he stepped over to block her again.

“Michael, really, it’s no problem. I won’t make a scene or anything. You’ve got this…” sob, “whole new life now, and you need some breathing room, right?” Maria’s eyes filled with tears that she desperately wanted to hold back.

She looked up into his face, startled when he closed his large hands over her shoulders and drew her in close.

“I can’t believe that this is what I’ve done to you.”



“I never meant to be such a jerk. That you feel like I could be so callous and disregard everything we’ve been through together after all this time…”

Maria looked behind Michael to see where the real Michael had gone. Nope. Not back there. Where had they put her Michael? Oh well, she kinda liked this one better anyway. She aimed her attention back to his eyes. Yep. Definitely better. This Michael had very sincere eyes, shining with love and pleading for her to understand what he was saying. Oh…what had he been saying?

“…love you.”

“I’m sorry, but could you say that last part again?” She could not possibly have understood that correctly. Yep. Must be way out of context.

“I said that I want to be with you. That I love you and want you to know who I am.” Michael cupped her face in his hands. “Do you think you could still love me? Just a little bit?” His voice trembled with emotion.

“Michael….I….I thought that you were…you know what? Scratch that. Yes I love you, and yes I want to know who you really are. But first, I think you’d better tell me what is going on with you and Liz.”

Michael gazed up to the heavens, sending a silent thank you that Maria was giving him a chance, and pleading for patience and the right words to explain what was going on in his world.

“First off, you should know that it is out of my control.”

“What? You just go around lusting after Liz and it’s out of your control, so that’s all right?” Maria snorted caustically.

“No! That’s not what I meant, and that’s not what’s happening here! Will you just…can you please just listen for a minute?”

Maria crossed her arms in front of her body defensively and shot him her best ‘I’m the soul of patience and forbearance’ look.

“You know that the people on our planet consider Max and Liz’s son to be their savior, right?” Maria nodded her agreement.

“So they went to whatever lengths they could to ensure the survival of the baby. They implanted a need in Max to protect the child by nourishing it with alien fluid” no need to say sperm here and get her all riled up again “and to draw them together whenever Liz feels the child weakening her.” Okay, so far so good. “And apparently, they thought that if anything happened to Max that they couldn’t let Liz or the baby die, so they put the backup plan in me.” Michael was scared to see Maria’s reaction to his blunt statement, so he rushed on quickly. “It’s not like I go around wanting her or anything. God! I can hardly even think about her that way! Max has promised that he’ll always be close to her, so if the need arises” oops! Bad choice of words “uh, I mean if Liz started to get weak, he’ll be able to take care of it right away. My fever seems like it’s a delayed reaction, only if Liz and Max haven’t, you know.”

Maria’s foot was tapping a steady rhythm on the hard floor. She looked very thoughtful.

“So you don’t feel any…sexual feelings for her?” She asked bluntly.

“No! No. I only feel that way about you.” Michael confessed softly.

“Oh.” Well okay then, I guess that’s, well that.

“I don’t mean that I kept you here tonight to jump you or anything.” Wow, that came out all wrong.

“Oh, no, of course not, I mean, we’re not really ready for that yet anyway. And what if, well you saw what happened to Liz, and I’d really like to get through high school first, you know? I mean having a baby is great and all, but what if you guys have, like, super sperm or something…” Oh no, did she just say that? Out loud and everything. Gulp!


“Not that I’m sure you don’t have super sperm anyway” Shut up Maria! “but, I know you can see my point here, right?” Did she really have a point? She’d have to learn to control that incessant babbling thing.

Michael just stared at her in awe. She was the most entertaining, refreshing thing that had ever happened to him, and he wouldn’t let her get away. And she looked damn sexy, flushed all pink like that.

“Maria. I love you.” Maria peeked up at him through her lashes. He felt so good from saying it, that it had put that look in her eyes, that he said it again. “I. Love. You.” Yeah, he was in love all right.

“I love you too Michael.” She leaned up, and they shared a tender, heartfelt kiss.

“And you’d better keep you hands off my best friend or I’ll hunt you down myself.”

“Maria!!!” He groaned in exasperation.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Max stopped the Jeep outside the Crashdown to drop Liz off first, before taking Isabel home. He’d been trying to think of a way to ask Isabel what she thought about sharing what was happening to them with their mother, and he thought Liz should get a say in it as well.

He cleared his throat nervously.

“A lot of new stuff, huh?” Great opening gambit, he thought in disgust. Well, hey, he’d been through a lot today, and he couldn’t sparkle with wit all the time, right? Right.

“Yeah, I’ll say.” Isabel rubbed the back of her neck. Max wanted to say something more. She recognized that look in his eyes. “What is it Max?”

She knew him so well.

“Well, I was wondering…and I’m not saying we should do this, but what do you think Mom would say if I told her…”

“Told her what Max? About the baby? Or about everything?” Isabel’s heart started pumping faster and she looked to Liz to gauge her reaction. She was just calmly looking on, a faint smile on her lips.


A quiet breath whooshed out of Isabel’s mouth. This was too good. Okay, calm down. Can’t overplay my hand here.

“I think that she would totally support you. I think she has a lot of love, and we’re gonna need a ton of help if you’re having a baby. I mean, none of us really knows how all that’s supposed to go, and Liz could use the support, I’m sure. Right Liz?”

Max turned his eyes to her as well. She nodded and said, “Absolutely. I think Isabel’s right. You’re mom could really help us in the next few months. Plus, we don’t really know what type of abilities this baby will be born with. How could we explain levitating crib toys, or visions of baby barn animals all over the house, you know?”

Max’s eyes widened. He hadn’t even considered the difficulties in raising an alien child who didn’t know he had to keep his gifts a secret.

“So you both think that we should tell her everything? Well, almost everything?” He amended quickly, thinking of his time in the White Room. Liz’s hand soothed his neck and back, she could feel what he was thinking of.

“Yeah, we should tell her all together, and the sooner the better. What if you two went into heat or something right in front of her? I mean, wow, how would you explain that?” Isabel couldn’t resist teasing her brother, if only to see him turn eight shades of red. Yep. She was a good sister.

“I never even thought about…does she really need to know…” Max stuttered to a stop, appealing to Liz.

“She’s gonna figure that out soon enough, don’t you think? We have to be together every day, and maybe she can help us figure a way to make it happen.” Liz hated to see him squirm like that, and it was doubly bad because she could feel it through their connection.

“I guess. I don’t know how to even explain that to her. She’s gonna flip out.” Max’s distress was doubling up on itself, growing into an insurmountable obstacle. Maybe they could just leave town or something.

“Max. We are not leaving town.” Damn. She could hear his thoughts. Have to remember that. He sent her a sheepish grin and sent her an image of them tangled together in passion. A soft hiss left her lips and her eyes glazed over. Mission accomplished.

He leaned in and gave her a parting kiss. “See you in a little bit, okay? I just need to grab some clothes and cover with my Mom.” Liz nodded her head; still in a daze from the vision he had given her.

“Do we really look like that?” She whispered in wonder.

Max nodded again, also caught up in the image she threw back at him.

“I’ll come back in just a few minutes, okay?” He needed her.

“ ‘Kay.” She whispered and got out of the Jeep.

Max watched her get in the door, and waited until he heard the lock click before driving home.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Liz walked in, still caught up in the beautiful vision that Max had shown to her. She skipped happily up the stairs to their apartment. Her pace quickened when she heard the phone ringing.

“Hello?” She answered, out of breath from the stairs.

“Lizzie? Are you okay? The phone rang forever, and you sound out of breath.” Nancy Parker’s worried tone jolted Liz back to reality.

Uh oh.

“Oh. Well I was…in the shower! Yep. I was taking a shower and I didn’t really hear the phone, but then I thought I did, so I ran out to get it, and here I am! How’s the baby?” Good. Distract her mom and get her talking about something else.

“Oh!! She is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen! Well, not as cute as you were, of course, but cute enough. They had to have her by C-section, so my sister can’t get out of the hospital until tomorrow. That’s why I’m calling, we want to know how you’re doing, and if it would be all right if we stayed until Friday? We can be back in time for the dinner rush on Friday night if you think you can handle everything until then. It’s okay if you can’t though, I mean, if it’s interfering with your school work, or if you’re just too tired, then I could come right back.”

“No! Mom, everything’s fine! You should stay and play with that baby and help out as much as you can.” Liz couldn’t believe her luck! Tears sparkled in her eyes and she had to sit down when another thought struck her. She was really her father’s daughter. Nancy had never betrayed Jeff! Remorse swept her as she thought of how nasty she had been to her mother.

“I love you Mom.” Her sincere emotion traveled through the line, landing straight in Nancy’s heart. Nancy’s eyes teared up.

“I love you too, baby.”

Liz sighed as she hung up after twenty more moments of conversation. She had her Mom back! A smile broke across her face as she turned to go to her room. Max would be here any minute, she didn’t have very long to get ready!

Part 28

“Wow,” Max breathed softly as he climbed into Liz’s window. He wasn’t looking at the glow of candles that shone throughout the room, or at the freshly turned down bed, covers folded over and inviting. He only had eyes for Liz, resplendent in white silk, her shy gaze turned down, only to flick back up to him coyly. She had thought he might use the door for once and was only glad she was ready for his sudden entrance.

“You look amazing.” Max crossed the short distance to her in a daze and took her in his arms. She felt so good there, so right, that he began swaying in a tender dance to the soft music she had playing. The moment lingered in time, suspended and perfect, and when the song ended he pressed a single kiss to her waiting lips.

“Hi,” She greeted him.

He grinned back at her, realizing he hadn’t even said hello yet. “Hi.”

She ran her hands over his muscular arms and trailed one down to catch his hand in hers and lead him to the bed. Max sat and pulled her into his lap, where she cuddled securely, basking in the comfort of his presence. She began placing small kisses over his neck and unfastened the first few buttons of his shirt to continue her explorations. Max inhaled sharply at her aggressiveness. He could feel her need, and this time it was all her. He allowed her to push him back until he was lying on the bed, Liz straddling his hips. Her kisses grew more heated as she pressed her open mouth over the skin she exposed as she finished with his buttons and drew it aside. He helpfully shrugged out of it at her silent command.

Liz could feel nothing but a burning need to be close to Max. They had learned so much, endured so much in the last few days and she needed this affirmation that they were in this together, that no matter what happened in their adventurous and sometimes scary lives, that they would be their for each other. Her hands worked quickly on the button and zipper of his jeans and Max lifted his hips as she removed the last of his clothing. He lay before her, completely exposed as her hands and eyes covered him hungrily.

A low growl escaped her throat as she licked her way down the column of his neck, pausing to take little love bites and then soothing them with her kiss. Max’s hands moved of their own accord to weave through her hair, just to feel the sweet silky texture. She turned her head into his palm and gave it a lingering kiss, before sucking one finger into her mouth and caressing it with her tongue. Max groaned and arched his head back at the sweet sensation. She lingered over his amazing hands for long moments, before Max could take no more and pulled her up, taking her mouth in a deep kiss. Their mouths mated aggressively, each moaning in the back of their throats.

Max pulled down the shoulder of Liz’s gown and shifted to taste her sweet skin. The connection flowed openly between them, heightening each sensation, doubling every pleasure upon itself until it was almost unbearable.

Each move they made was in symphony with the music that rolled around them, their bodies matched the deep, pulsing rhythm that flowed through the room. Their eyes locked together as they shared the slow beat.

‘I will love you forever’

‘Always’ Her agreement was swift and tinged with desperation. The song ended and a new song began, faster, more powerful. Max matched the thrusts of his body into hers to the new beat and watched her eyes glow darkly in the candlelight. Her head arched back and she cried his name as her release ripped through her. Max’s pleasure could no longer be contained as he watched her wild response to him. Only him. He poured himself into her body and she collapsed against his broad chest.

As their breathing began to even out, Max tried to untangle the jumble of emotions and half-formed thoughts that were racing through his Liz. Many matched his own feelings. Shock. Fear. Overwhelming love. Hope. Fear.

His hands stroked down her back and brushed through her hair. He couldn’t see her eyes, and he wanted to desperately. And then he felt the warm wetness of tears falling silently to his chest. He hugged her to him tightly, his arms strong around her tiny frame. He unconsciously began to rock her back and forth, whispering soothing words of comfort and love.

“Talk to me Liz,” he begged her.

“Max, oh Max! What are we going to do?” Liz’s voice came out hoarse, almost desperate in her need for guidance and reassurance. “I mean, we are so young! Too young. I know that this was meant to be, please don’t ever doubt my love for you Max! But…a baby Max! I’ve never even owned a pet!”

Her words brought a brief smile to Max’s face before he thought how to answer her. Many of the same thoughts had been flowing through his mind as well.

“I think that we’ll have to wait and see how things go Liz. When I was at my house earlier I asked my Mom if it would be all right if we had you over for dinner on Friday. I think we should tell her Liz. I think she can help you through this. She’s always been a great mother to Isabel and me, and I know that she can help us get through this. I just hope that she can forgive Isabel and me for all the secrets and lies we’ve had to tell her all these years and that she doesn’t think that we’re disgusting or…”

Max was silenced by Liz’s hand over his mouth.

“She loves you Max. She’s a mother and she could never turn her back on you. I know this.” Liz’s eyes implored him to believe her. “I do need someone, a mother, to talk to about all this, and now that I’ve got my connection back with my own mom, I don’t want to ruin it by announcing that I’m 17 and pregnant and married.” Her eyes lowered quickly.

“You talked to your mom.” It was a statement, not a question and Max could see how happy and secure that made Liz.

“Yeah. I’m so ashamed that I could believe that about her for so long.”

“Liz. You can’t blame yourself for that! You were just following the laws of science, which apparently don’t apply to angels.”

“Max!” Liz pushed against his shoulder at his gentle teasing.

“You are my angel,” Max was so sincere.

“Please don’t break into song,” Liz tried to lighten the moment.

Max pretended to look affronted. “What? You don’t like my singing? And after I serenaded you last year and everything.” Max couldn’t contain a slight grin and Liz knew he was teasing her.

“So, we’ll talk to your mom and get her help. We really need to figure a way that we can be together.” Liz was shy again, not meeting Max’s gaze.

He put a finger under her chin and lifted it to meet his serious expression. “It’s not our fault that all this is happening to us. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and we shouldn’t act like there is, okay?” Max waited for her tentative nod of agreement before continuing. “I think that we should make sure that we are together as often as possible when we can so that we don’t get an unexpected heat wave at times that may not be convenient for us, like in school.” Liz nodded again.

“That sounds like a good idea. I’ve started a chart.” Liz moved to open the bedside table and removed a notepad. Flipping it open, she revealed a rather complicated graph that showed the times between fevers. “So far, it looks like the longest we’ve gone is fourteen hours, but we don’t know if this need will grow stronger the farther along I am, or grow weaker because of the changes in me.” She glanced to Max to get his opinion.

Max’s eyes were glued to the page, a slow grin creeping across his face. This was his Liz. More comfortable with action than passivity. Graphing and charting until the results were in black and white in front of her.


“What? Oh. Yeah, we should keep track of everything, and when we’re out of school for the summer and on the weekends, we can see how long we can go before…”

“Yeah. That’s good.” Liz was lost in his eyes again.

She leaned closer and touched her forehead to his.

“We can do this.”


“Did I tell you my parents said they’ll be gone till Friday?”

“Wanna spend the weekend at my house? With Isabel, of course?” Max was elated at the opportunity to be alone at Liz’s until Friday and then, after talking to his mom, then spending the rest of the weekend at his house.

“Of course, but maybe you should convince me a little more…” Max obliged very nicely.

Chapter 29

Liz woke slowly in the early hours of Wednesday morning to the sounds of regular panting breaths that were coming from the floor. She scooted sleepily to peer over the side of the bed and then inhaled a surprised breath at the sight before her.

Max was completing a set of push-ups that had obviously been going on for some time. His body gleamed with sweat and his muscles bulged from the effort he had taken. As he finished his last one he leaned back to stretch his back and arms and then sat up, glancing toward the bed. He grinned widely at her flushed and sleepy expression.


“Hi.” She smiled back into his happy eyes. “Been awake long?”

He glanced down briefly before answering. “Yeah. Force of habit, I guess. I’ve been up every day by five a.m. to go running after…well, you know.” He swept his eyes up to her face before looking down again.

“You didn’t…” Liz’s horrified expression made him want to reassure her quickly.

He reached a hand out to brush her hair back. “No. I haven’t had any nightmares since we’ve been able to sleep together. I think you’re my good luck charm.”

Liz was relieved. No one should have to constantly relive the horrors that Max had endured for the last nine months. She felt rotten that she could have been there for him all that time to help alleviate his suffering.

“Please don’t think like that.” Max framed her face in his hands and angled her chin up so she would look at him.

“We’re going to have to have a talk about private thoughts,” Liz grumbled good-naturedly.

“I just don’t think we should beat ourselves up about things that we can’t change. We need to move forward. That’s what I intend to do from now on.” Max was sincere. They had to move forward and forget about the bad things that had happened.

“Is that why you’re up before dawn, working out like your life depends on it?” Liz questioned skeptically.

“Hey, I’m just staying in shape for you babe.” Max stood up and puffed out his chest, flexing for her enjoyment. “I don’t want to be one of those husbands who just let’s himself go after he lands his woman.”

Liz sat up in the bed, catching his teasing mood. “What’s with the ‘babe’ and ‘woman’ talk? I think all this working out is turning you into a Neanderthal! Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll just go and take a shower.” Liz slid off the bed and brushed her body against his as she moved past him.

“Neanderthal? I’ll show you what a Neanderthal would do!” With that said, Max scooped a screaming Liz up over his shoulder and marched with her into the bathroom. She beat ineffectually at his back and between laughs she tried to convince him to put her down.

“What will you do if I put you down?” Max pretended to consider the prospects.

“I’ll…I’ll wash your stinky back for you!” Liz giggled out, trying to wriggle her way down.

Max clamped a hand over her squirming bottom. “Stinky? I don’t know if I like your tone woman.” He deliberately used the term again to elicit a reaction.

He didn’t get the reaction he expected though. Liz had gone still as his hand caressed her backside and reviewed her possible options. She ran her hands down over his back until she cupped his butt in her palms. She began a slow, deliberate massage that ranged over the portions of his body that she could reach and continued until she heard his soft moan.

“Put me down baby,” she requested softly. Not able to think of doing anything else, Max lowered her gently to her feet. She allowed her hands to roam over his chest, until he was out of breath again before she pushed him back from her and turned to the sink. Pretending to ignore him, she began to brush her teeth.

Max looked dazed and confused as he moved behind her. She glanced at him in the mirror in time to see him reach around her and massage her breasts. She leaned back into his chest weakly and enjoyed the sensations that coursed through her. She finished her teeth quickly and turned to capture his mouth with her own. Their kiss was greedy and filled with desire. It quickly escalated their need for each other and Max began to back up into the shower. He turned on the water without looking and they were soon drenched with the cascading water.

Picking up the fresh smelling soap, Liz filled her hands with lather and ran them over Max’s body, not missing an inch. Max’s breath came out in labored sobs when she was finished and he picked her up and wrapped her legs around his waist.

“Are you ready for me? I don’t think I can wait.”

“Yes, please now,” Liz moaned out against his lips.

Max captured her mouth in a hungry kiss as he lowered her over his straining erection. Both let out a satisfied moan at the renewed contact. Liz braced her hands on Max’s shoulders for leverage and assisted him in beginning a smooth movement. Their passion escalated as the water rushed between them. Max locked his eyes on the beauty of his wife as she arched her head back in ecstasy. Her walls clamped tightly around him and his cries echoed hers in the small room.

Max gently lowered her back to the floor and steadied her as her knees wobbled. He took his time running the washcloth over her smooth skin and then washed her long hair with her strawberry scented shampoo. When his task was finished, they gently dried each other off and got ready for school.

Liz heaved a contented sigh as they sat at the breakfast table together. “Just think Max, we’ll be able to do this every day after we tell our parents that we’re married.”

“Does that mean that you’re ready to tell your parents?”

Liz stirred her cereal around in her bowl. “Not quite yet. I think that they’ll freak out initially. Maybe we should just start with your mom and see how that goes.”

“Thanks a lot,” Max grinned to show he was teasing. “I like being the guinea pig.”

“I think it’ll be okay. I hope.” She smiled at him uncertainly. “Do you think that she’ll think that I trapped you into marrying me by getting pregnant?” Liz blurted out.

“What? No! No way would she think that! She’ll take one look at you and one look at how happy you make me and know that I couldn’t be expected to live without you.” Max tried to allay her fears.

“Uh huh, I’m sure that’s just what’ll happen,” Liz stated skeptically.

“Liz,” Max reached out for her hand, “she’s gonna love you. It’s me that’s the alien, remember? If she doesn’t run screaming from the room after I tell her about myself, then our news will be nothing compared to that, right?”

“Max! Your mom would never run away from you! I didn’t when I found out, did I? And your mother has gotten to enjoy you for years longer than I have, so she knows how special and wonderful you are! Are you seriously still worried?”

Max suddenly found his juice fascinating.


“I just hope that it goes okay. This is something that I have worried about for a long time. I don’t know what I’d do if she…couldn’t accept who I am.” Max’s face was tense.

“I know that she’ll be fine. Shocked at first, but fine. I’ll be right there with you okay?” Liz tried to reassure him of her constant presence, and it was the right thing to say.

“It’ll always be okay if you’re there with me. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you accept me, have always accepted me in spite of what I am.”

“What you are is a kind, gentle, thoughtful, loving man who needs to stop worrying about everything for awhile!” Liz tried to cheer him up.

“We have had a rough few days here, I think that I’m entitled to worry just a little, don’t you?” Max raised an eyebrow at her quizzically.

“Okay, but just a little! What do you have planned for the day?” She could feel his mind sorting through various scenarios for the day. This mind reading thing was more complicated than people might think. A lot of what people have rushing through their heads was just pictures, half-formed thoughts and concepts that flitted through at lightening speed. Very few actual thoughts came through as complete sentences. Of course, everything made sense in your own mind, but to try and interpret someone else’s thoughts, wow! Complicated.

“Wellll….I kinda thought that we could work on me blocking you out of a connection.” Max took in her stunned response.

“No! No, I don’t mean that I want to block you out! I just want to practice to see if I can block you so that I can resist Tess when we meet on Monday.” Liz let out a relieved breath.

“So, after school?”

“Yeah, we can meet back here. Do you have to work?” Liz shook her head no. She had rearranged her schedule so she could have as much time as possible with Max this week.

“Neither do I until tomorrow. Also, I think we should review the disk that Alex had hidden from Tess. Maybe there’s something on it that can answer some questions or help us get rid of Tess.”

“Where is the disk?” Liz asked.

“It’s in my backpack.” Max reached over and snagged it off the nearby chair. He took out the disk and handed it to Liz.

As her fingers closed over it she was consumed by a vision.


“Have to hide the disk, can’t let her get it” Alex mumbled under his breath and fumbled clumsily to secure the disk in it’s hiding spot.

Alex grabbed his head as it throbbed painfully under the pressure of Tess’ newest assault on his senses.

“Have you told me everything? Is this all that the Granolith can do?” Tess features distorted into a mask of ugliness as she confronted Alex.

“I…it…” Alex tried to remember to keep the secret; it was almost impossible under this pressure.

“You’d better not lie to me!” Tess increased the strength of her assault and Alex passed out.

Tess kicked his still form in frustration before walking away.

Liz gasped as the vision ended and pulled her fingers away from the disk as if it was on fire. Max let go at the same time and it clattered to the tabletop.

“Did you see it too?” Liz whispered brokenly, fresh from feeling the pain that Alex had endured to secure this disk.

“Yeah. I…he…wow!” Max didn’t know what else to say. He was glad that they had arranged it so that Alex wouldn’t be alone with Tess again.

“She’s…she really is evil Max. I think we need to be really careful around her. Maybe it’s not such a great idea to be alone with her on Monday. I mean, what if she found out that we’re on to her? She could really do some damage!” Tears pooled in her eyes.

“Liz, we have to know what she knows. She was raised by a protector who taught her things that we haven’t even thought of yet. It could really aid our cause here on Earth, now that we know we’re responsible for keeping it safe. I really think that with practice, I can dig around in that ugly little mind of hers and get information that could really help us.” Max hated to worry Liz, but this was the quickest way he could think of to get what they needed from Tess before disposing of her. He tried not to think of the cold-blooded murder he would have to perform.

“Promise me Max that you will not go through with it if you don’t feel that you’re ready to block her all the way. Promise me!” Liz insisted.

“I promise. I would never put you in danger like that, or our baby.”

Liz shuddered at the reminder of what would happen to her and the baby if something happened to Max.

“You just…it has to be you okay?” Liz didn’t want to think of being with Michael like that.

“You know I’ll be there for you!” Max stood and hugged her close to his beating heart. This had just reminded him that he wanted to have a private chat with Michael before school started.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Max roared up behind Michael in the school parking lot and hopped out of his Jeep. Maria had picked up Liz for school so that they wouldn’t be seen by Tess arriving together.

“Hey Michael. I want to talk to you.” Max began gruffly, pulling Michael around to face him.

“Yeah, I wanted to talk to you too,” Michael replied mildly.

Taken aback by Michael’s calm reaction, Max took a deep breath and started the speech he had planned earlier while working out.

“I just wanted to tell you that I know that you can’t help this reaction that you have when Liz is…when she needs me. I don’t blame you for that, but it’s obvious that the people on our planet don’t share the same sense of…monogamy that we have here. I will be the only one that Liz needs to nourish our child, and you will never be called upon to step in. Is that clear?”

“Clear as day Maxwell. I didn’t ask for this and you’re more than welcome to her. I’m in rough enough water with Maria as it is over this and I definitely don’t need any more complications in my life right now, so just take care of her quickly when she needs you and I won’t even be affected. Fair enough?” Michael had thought this out as well.

“Yeah. Fair enough. We’ve worked out a schedule so that…” Max blushed, not meeting Michael’s eyes. Too much information, definitely.

“A schedule huh?” Michael couldn’t help ribbing Max about that a little. “Liz’s idea?”

“Actually, it was mine,” Max gave up and smiled at Michael. This was the sign that Michael needed. He clapped his hand to Max’s shoulder and turned him to walk toward the school.

“So tell me Max, what is alien sex like?” Michael dodged away from Max’s playful swipe at him.

Max laughed. “Out of this world Michael. Out of this world!”


Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
-Robert Frost
posted on 31-Aug-2001 1:57:48 PM
Part 30

“How does that feel?” Max asked in a hushed voice.

“ Mmnnn, that’s… ohhh! Do that again!” Liz exclaimed in pleasure.

“What? That?”

“Oh yeah! That’s soo…Oh! Now it just tickles!” She burst into laughter and collapsed on the bed.

“Can we get serious here you guys?” Michael drawled out impatiently.

Liz sat back up quickly and looked guiltily over at Max, who was seated across the room. He shot her an innocent grin.

‘We’ll explore that alone later,’ he sent through their connection.

“Sorry Michael, it really did tickle though,” Liz offered sheepishly.

“I bet. Now did you learn anything new Maxwell?” Michael directed his attention back to Max.

“Yeah, well sorta. It’s really complicated in there you know. I was trying to reach into her mind and explore which parts trigger different reactions or emotions, and especially figure out where specific memories are held. I think I touched on a pleasure center or something.” Max shot another grin at Liz.

“No kidding,” Michael interjected sarcastically. It was bad enough that he had to be here for this ‘exploration’, but he really didn’t need to witness Max pleasuring Liz from across the room! “Did you find any memories?”

“Yeah, I did. They were pretty easy to get to, and she didn’t even feel me in there looking.” Max glanced at Liz for confirmation. She gave him a puzzled look, she really hadn’t felt him lifting her memories.

“What did you see Max?” She asked him curiously.

“I saw you with your Grandma Claudia during a summer vacation when you were ten. You spent that summer swimming in her pool and going along on archeological digs. You found a pottery fragment with zigzag lines running around it and you were so excited that you tripped and fell when you ran to show it to your grandma. You saved the pottery, but you banged up your elbow and your knee. Your grandma was so proud of you that she took you out to a special dinner that night and you felt like a princess.” Liz’s eyes filled with tears as he reminded her of a cherished moment in her life. He didn’t have to ask if the memory was accurate, he could see it in her expression.

“After I got the memory I started exploring other aspects of her brain, but I think that I was more obvious about that, so she felt it.” Liz nodded her agreement. She had felt him poking around for a while.

“Why don’t you try blocking Liz out of your connection now Max? That is the real reason that we’re here, right?” Michael tried to remind them of the reason for this after school session. “If Liz can’t get through your block then no one can. She has the strongest link to you of all of us.”

“Right. Let me just…” Max’s gaze turned inward as he concentrated on what he thought he needed to do. It felt unnatural to block Liz out, she was a part of him now and it felt like he was denying the best part of himself.

Max nodded to indicate that he was ready. Liz looked right at him and gathered her energy. When they were both ready she sent her thoughts out to Max. Her first attempt was rebuffed by Max and so she tried harder. Concentrating hard, she focused her energy right to the core of Max. This time she broke through and reached him. She felt a wave of his frustration hit her hard before he blocked her out again abruptly. The energy in the room seemed to pulse around them as they played a tug of war with their connection. Liz could feel that she was getting closer and pushed through again. This time Max surrounded her and accepted her intrusion.

‘Try to find a memory,’ Max instructed her silently.

’I don’t know…I’ve never done that before,’ Liz answered.

‘I’ll show you.’ Max allowed a flow of information through to Liz, showing her how he had found the memories of her and Grandma Claudia earlier.

Liz nodded her head and began to look within Max. She probed and prowled around for what seemed an eternity before her energy began to flag and she sighed her defeat. She slumped back in the bed and groaned.

“That is absolutely exhausting!” Liz exclaimed. “I didn’t find any memories.”

“Does that mean that you broke through and made a connection?” Michael asked with worry.

“Yeah. I did get in. Max blocked me for a while, but I just kept trying until I got through.”

“That’s not acceptable! There is no way that we can let Tess get in there at all! You have to keep practicing!” Michael exclaimed. No way he was going to let his friend take on that kind of danger if he wasn’t fully prepared!

“Michael, I started to think that it might be too obvious if I blocked her out altogether. I mean we have to have some kind of surface connection to make the memory retrieval work, right? If she can’t get in at all, she might think that I’m hiding something from her. I just have to block her out of the parts of my brain that she could mess with, like my memories. It was easier for me to do that anyway.” Max grinned at Liz.

“Easier for you!” Liz snorted from her prone position on the bed.

“Are you okay? Do you need to rest for a while?” Michael couldn’t resist asking her.

“I’m fine Michael, we can keep going if you want.” She glanced at Max to gauge his reaction.

Max was fighting back his natural urge to jump down Michael’s throat and tell him that he would never do anything that would harm Liz or their child, but when he looked at Michael’s concerned expression he realized that Michael was not a part of his and Liz’s connection. There was no way he could know that Liz was just fine and could go on for a little while longer.

“She’s fine Michael. Let’s just try it a couple more times and then I do want you to rest, okay?” Max sent a wave of loving energy through to Liz. Her eyes thanked him as she sat up to try again.

About a half hour later they stopped and chatted about the results of the experiment.

“I couldn’t find any memories in there at all. You’re really good at blocking them. I’m glad that you let me in before we started again, or I would have just thought that I didn’t know how to look for them!” Liz chuckled at the memory that she had retrieved when Max had let her in to make sure she could do it if he allowed it.

“I didn’t know you were so clumsy on roller skates!” Liz laughed out loud at the embarrassed expression on Max’s face. He had been at a mutual friends birthday party when they were eleven years old and he had been so caught up in the fact that Liz was there, that he had skated right into four people, knocking them all to the ground. Liz had never even noticed at the time, she had been chatting with Alex and Maria over by the snack bar.

“I don’t think I’ve ever gotten up so fast in my life! I was just praying that you wouldn’t notice the geeky kid that caused a four man collision!” Max shook his head at the memory.

“Well, you were lucky! I never saw a thing.” Liz moved over to make room for Max on the bed. He settled in beside her.

“I think that’s my cue to leave,” Michael edged toward the door, having flashbacks of the last time he’d seen them together on that bed.

“You don’t have to go Michael,” Max put in quickly. He’d invited him over to get his input on how to go about these training sessions, and Michael had offered several helpful suggestions throughout the day.

“Maybe we could all watch a movie or something,” Liz put in. She was encouraged by the friendly interaction between Max and Michael today and didn’t want to see it come to an end.

They argued lightheartedly about which movie they should watch from her parent’s large collection of videos. They settled on a comedy and laughed together over pizza for the next two hours.

As Michael was preparing to leave they set up a time for the following evening to work together again after Max finished his shift at the UFO Center.

“I was thinking that this time you should try to block her out while you’re touching. See if that makes it harder or something. What do you think?” Michael asked.

“That’s a really good idea. Tess might try to touch you or hold your hand or something.” Liz looked to Max for his reaction.

He shuddered at the thought of allowing Tess to touch him in any way. “Yeah, that’s a good idea Michael, knowing Tess, she’ll probably try something.”

“One more thing. Today she was asking around about where Alex was. I put her off by telling her that he’s been really tired lately and so he can’t hang around as much. I think that she might be worried that her mind warp is wearing off.” Michael took in the dismayed expressions of his friends.

“We have to get rid of her by Monday. There’s no way we can let her get to Alex again,” Max stated grimly.

“Have you thought about how you’re going to kill her?” Michael asked. “Because I could do it. There’s no reason that you have to get your hands dirty killing her. I’m your second, it’s my job to be the protector, and it’s not like I haven’t killed before. I don’t think you should have to do it.” Michael was absolutely sincere. He didn’t want Max to go through the terrible jumble of mixed emotions that he had gone through after killing Pierce. Even knowing that Pierce was a heartless bastard and deserved to die, it had been difficult to reconcile his death in his own mind. He had taken a life. Killing Tess might be even harder, because it was a pre-planned event, not something spontaneous in the heat of the moment.

“I think this is something I have to do myself,” Max said softly.

“I can back you up,” Michael put in.

“I think the less people involved, the better. Besides, I want you to stay with Liz until it’s all over and I come back.” Max looked at Michael and hoped he understood the trust he was placing in his friend.

Michael nodded his acknowledgement and went out the door.

Liz turned to hug Max. “I don’t like the idea of you going out into the desert alone with Tess.”

“Isabel is going to follow us out there to make sure nothing goes wrong. She wants to see Tess dead. I really think she would like to be the one to actually kill her after what Tess did to her in our last life.”

“Well that’s a little better if Isabel will be there, but I still think it’s too dangerous.”

Max stroked her hair back soothingly and kissed her forehead. “We can’t do anything to her here in town, it would be too obvious. We have to be isolated to get rid of her body.” Max took her hand and led her back to her room. “What do you say we scan through this disk of Alex’s and see if we can find anything useful?”

Liz shuddered at the thought of touching the disk again. Max caught her distaste and reassured her that he would handle that part himself. He loaded up the diskette and they spent the next several hours with their fascinated eyes glued to the computer screen as they learned all of the many applications of the Granolith.

Max eventually sat back and scrubbed his tired eyes with the heels of his hands. “We have got to be sure to send Alex a thank you card for this. If this ever got back to our enemies, we’d be through! I guess we know how I can get rid of Tess now, huh?”

Liz just nodded her head in numb agreement.

Part 31

Friday afternoon

Tess closed her locker and scanned the halls for Max. Something was going on between him and Liz Parker, she was sure of it. Even when they weren’t friends after the Kyle incident, they had still talked and acted fairly normal around each other. was different. When they got back from Vegas Max had seemed so protective of Liz, watching her every move as if she could disappear any moment, and when they were together…it was like they were trying too hard not to seem together. She had thought that he was just being a macho male after what had happened to Liz in Vegas… oh why couldn’t that pervert have just finished her off? It was time to do something about it.

Max rounded the corner and started down the hall toward fourth period AP History, his eyes on the floor and his arms loaded with books. It was the only class he shared with Liz and he was anxious to see her again, even if Tess’ presence would stifle their enjoyment. Waking up in Liz’s arms that morning had been so natural, so right. And even if he hadn’t already been a morning person, he would be now if he got to wake up wrapped around her every morning. A smile crept across his face as he remembered the amorous greeting he had received.

Tess watched Max moving distractedly down the hall and timed it to step out directly in front of him, deliberately causing him to stumble into her. His books clattered to the floor as his arms went up automatically to steady her from falling.

“Oh! Sorry! I wasn’t watching…” Max looked up and saw that it was Tess that he had run into. His guard went up immediately and he dropped his hands from her arms as if they had burned him. “Oh! Hi Tess.” He took a step back and crouched down to gather his books together, hoping she would move on.

“Hi Max, let me help you with those,” Tess kneeled down beside him and started piling books together, bending over to show off her cleavage and watching Max out of the corner of her eyes.

“I’ve got it. Don’t worry about it,” Max tried to move faster to hurry it along, not even noticing the show she was trying to put on for him.

“What are all these books for?” Tess asked curiously, brushing her hand over his deliberately.

“Oh, you know that research paper that’s due in AP History, I just thought I’d get it done this weekend,” Max stacked the last book on top and stood up hurriedly.

“That’s not due for another two weeks, I haven’t even glanced at the assignment yet,” Tess got up and started moving down the hall with Max. “You and Liz sure seem to get involved in your school work.” Tess watched carefully for Max’s reaction.

“What?” Max’s eyes darted to Tess, back down again. “We don’t work on this stuff together or anything,” he added hurriedly. Calm down Max! You’re acting like you’re trying too hard! “I mean, I guess we do both think that grades are really important. I know I want to do something important with my life some day, and I want to get a good education.” Better, keep your tone even, disinterested.

Tess raised her eyebrow at his reaction. Yep, definitely something going on. Time to step it up a notch.

“So Max, I was wondering,” she moved closer, using the crowded hall as an excuse, allowing her arm and the side of her breast to brush against him, “maybe we could get together after school sometime to…study.” She gave him a sultry look to let him know that she didn’t really mean she wanted to study and licked her lower lip provocatively.

Max’s step stumbled when she brushed against him and he bobbled his books so that he could use that as an excuse to pull away from her.

“Yeah, sure, we could do that sometime next week maybe,” Max said, mustering enthusiasm into his voice. After we take you out to the Granolith chamber and get rid of you once and for all! He added maliciously in his thoughts.

“Great!” Tess’ step hopped a little in glee. If she could just get him alone for a bit, he wouldn’t even remember Liz Parker’s name! She tucked her arm through his just as they reached the door to their class and walked in with him, searching the room for Liz. She smirked in satisfaction when she saw that Liz had been watching the door. Tess turned adoring eyes up to Max and leaned into his arm. “So we’ll get together next week!” She drawled huskily, loud enough for Liz to hear. Tess let Max go and moved smugly into her seat.

The class dragged by slowly, each wrapped in their own separate thoughts. When the bell rang Liz sprang out of her seat and hurried out the door. Max made sure to ignore her exit and made his way out as quickly as he could, deliberately going in the opposite direction as Liz. He knew that she had sensed his roiling anger and deep disgust.

Tess hurried after Max and followed him to his locker. “Let’s have lunch together Max,” she chirped brightly. “We could go out somewhere.”

“Uh, I told Isabel and Michael that I’d meet them in the quad so…maybe some other time,” Max tried to school his expression to make it appear that he actually enjoyed her company.

“Oh, okay. I’ll just eat lunch with you guys then,” Tess tried to hide her frustration. “Is Alex going to be there?”

Max’s shoulders stiffened at the mention of his friend. “I don’t know, maybe.” Max had made sure that Maria and Liz took Alex out to lunch today to avoid any contact with Tess.

“I haven’t seen him in a while. I wonder…”

Max cut her off. “So how’s your room coming along at Valenti’s?” He knew that she would be distracted by that.

“It looks really great!” She enthused, “We’ve got the whole thing done and I’ve been experimenting with different colors for the walls. Of course, it’s sucked that I had to be grounded for the entire week to work on it, but Jim’s been pretty cool. He may even let me off the hook for the weekend. Do you think we could get together for a movie or something?” Tess batted her eyes hopefully.

“Hey Max. How’s it going?” Michael interrupted smoothly. “You still have to work on that special project at the UFO Center this weekend? Cause there’s a killer movie out that I’ve been wanting to see.”

“Oh. Yeah, I do have that project, all weekend. I won’t really have time for anything else,” he threw Tess an apologetic look.

“Oh,” Tess looked dejected, then straightened her shoulders. This isn’t over yet!

“Max! Over here!” Isabel waved them over to a table, glad that Tess was with them so that they could keep an eye on her.

They all sat down, Tess making sure that her thigh was pressed to the length of Max’s. If anything else, he was a teenage boy, with hormones to match, and she was sure that he couldn’t keep ignoring her. As they all talked about school and town events Tess moved her hand under the table and massaged Max’s thigh. His leg hardened under her fingers, immediately tense. Good! He’s reacting to my touch! I knew he couldn’t resist. She moved her hand up higher on his leg, massaging toward the inside.

Max could not believe her gall. It was bad enough to have to act as if he enjoyed her company, but this was too much. He reached down and removed her hand from him

Tess smiled slightly. He obviously didn’t want to get turned on in front of his sister and friend. She needed to get him alone.

“Max I really need to talk to you in private for a minute,” she stood and pulled a surprised Max to his feet.

“What? I really don’t think…” Max looked to his friends for assistance.

“I’ll only keep him for a minute,” Tess interjected, looking at Michael and Isabel’s surprised expressions. She dragged Max back into the school before he could protest further.

Keeping hold of his arm she dragged him into the Eraser Room, locking the door behind them. She turned to face him, her back blocking the exit.

Max reached around her to unlock the door and leave, a sudden feeling of panic rolling over him. “Tess, I really don’t think that we should be in here like this. You know what the kids use this room for.”

“I just wanted to have a little privacy for a minute. I think we need to talk.” Tess stroked his arm up and down, taking a step closer to him. Max retreated one step before he made himself stop. He couldn’t make her any more suspicious.

“What did you want to talk about?”

“Us.” Tess looked him right in the eye and saw him flinch. Not the right reaction Max! She didn’t want to use her power on him just yet. This would be much more satisfying if he came to her himself. She just had to make sure he knew she was still interested.

“What about us?” Max asked nervously, sweat began pooling at the back of his neck.

“I just think that we’ve grown a lot closer in the last few months and I was wondering if we can do something about it,” Tess reached up and cupped the side of Max’s face in her warm hand, she ran her finger over his bottom lip and waited for his reaction.

“I thought that we agreed to be friends,” Max stumbled back a step, but Tess moved closer again.

“Well, if you aren’t seeing anyone, and I’m not seeing anyone, why shouldn’t we at least give it a chance? We’ve never really seen what would happen if we dated or anything. Maybe we’d find out we’re perfect for each other. I think that we’ve become very good friends. You helped me when Nacedo died, and I helped you when Kyle slept with Liz,” you need that reminder of her betrayal, she thought smugly, watching him flinch. “I’m ready to see if we can be more than friends.” She held both his arms and pressed her chest to his, rubbing her breasts across his hard body. She stood up on tiptoe to kiss him, hoping he would lean down. He didn’t, so she pressed kisses to his neck, her hand beginning an exploration of his chest down to his waistband. Boldly she reached down to cup his manhood.

Max was stunned for a moment, but when her hand groped at his pants he grabbed both of her arms and set her back from him roughly. “I thought you understood that I’m not ready to be more than your friend right now. I don’t…we can’t…, this is too fast for me.” Max groped for a better explanation. “I don’t want to be with anyone right now.” Except Liz.

“Not even Liz?” Tess spat out harshly, hurt by his reaction. It was time to use her gifts. She took a deep breath and concentrated.

The door swung open before she could launch her attack. Tess swung around in frustration.

“Tess! There you are! I’ve been looking for you everywhere!” Isabel took Tess’ arm and steered her out the door, giving Tess the cover story her and Michael had cooked up while watching them disappear into the Eraser Room.

Max slumped against the wall, sick with disgust. Her touch had repelled him, causing such deep revulsion that he thought he might be sick. He hadn’t felt so violated since Pierce had touched him in the White Room. He slid down the wall and rested his head on his arms, knees up. He started shaking and tried to take deep breaths to calm himself.

He felt her before he saw her. Her presence wrapped him in safety and love. Home. Her touch stilled him as she kneeled beside him and he leaned sideways into her waiting arms. She surrounded him with her comfort and caressed her hand through his hair and down his back, massaging away tension.

“ Liz.” Saying her name was an affirmation of everything good.

“Sshhh,” she murmured softly, feeling him calm, aching to take away his suffering. His mind overflowed with memories of past torment and his helplessness today. He was so strong to endure Tess’ evil touch and not shout out his love for Liz.

His face crumpled as he let the tears flow, soaking her shirt, releasing his emotions to her safekeeping. She rocked him gently until the episode subsided.

He sat up at last, sniffling and using his sleeve to dry his face. He glanced at her briefly before looking back at the floor. “I swear I’ve cried more in the last week than I have since I got adopted,” he joked weakly.

“You’ve had plenty of reasons, and I’m glad that you’re letting it out. It’s not good to keep things inside,” Liz reassured softly.

“I need to get out of here,” Max stood up and pulled Liz to her feet.

“Let’s go,” she said, heading for the door.

Max drove them both back to the Crashdown and they climbed the fire escape so that those working in the restaurant would not wonder why Liz was out of school so early.

Climbing in her window, Max started to remove his clothes, heading toward the bathroom. He left a trail all the way in and stepped into the shower nude. He turned the water on as hot as he could stand it and began scrubbing his body hard with a washcloth. Over his thighs where Tess’ hands had touched him, up his stomach and especially his neck where she had dared to kiss him. He ran the cloth roughly over himself until the water began to cool and then he just leaned his forehead against the cool tile and breathed.

Liz undressed slowly and waited for him on the bed. She knew what he needed right now and she would wait until he was ready. Her heart ached for the suffering he endured.

Max emerged slowly from the bathroom. He looked lost and drained. His steps led him straight to Liz and she lay him down on the bed. Her lips traveled over his body slowly, paying special attention to cover all the angry red marks on his skin where he had tried to scrub away his revulsion. Max sighed and lay there relaxed, his eyes closed. Liz moved her hands over him as well and continued her gentle loving until she heard Max’s breathing accelerate and felt his chest moving rapidly beneath her lips. She moved down his body and took him into her mouth. Max whimpered softly, his hands moving restlessly on the bed. Her tongue licked out to explore the flare of his erection and sucked lightly on the slit. Max’s hands moved into her hair, taking soft handfuls as his hips began moving of their own volition. Liz increased the suction and moved her mouth up and down over him until Max pulled her up the length of his body and took her mouth in a desperate kiss.

His tongue slipped out and teased her lips open, delving in deep to explore her sweet mouth. Goodness. Safety. Home. He sucked on her bottom lip until she moaned in pleasure. Her legs straddled his hips and he moved one hand down to guide his erection to her wet center. He moved the tip back and forth in her slick heat before plunging to the hilt in one swift motion.

Liz dragged in a ragged breath at the immediate connection. Everything was heightened and they began to move together in long, heated strokes. Her walls clamped over him tightly and massaged away the hurt and the memories. Their motions continued, feeding the passion, stoking the fire until neither could take it anymore and they fell over the edge.

Liz collapsed on top of Max to catch her breath, feeling his chest heaving under her cheek.

“Are you okay?” She asked, reasonably sure he was, but wanting to hear it.

“Yes.” Now. “How did you know I needed you?” He asked curiously, his hands twining through her hair, straightening it and then tangling it again.

“I didn’t like the way she was clinging all over you today, so I told Maria and Alex that I wanted to keep an eye on her today,” she answered, never more glad that she had followed her instincts.

“I’m so glad you did,” Max rolled to the side, looking into her amazing eyes.

“Me too.” They lay together side by side, their bodies eventually cooling.

Liz sat up after a long time to check the time.

“We have to get ready to go to your mom’s,” she stated regretfully.

“Already?” Max groaned. This day just wouldn’t end, would it?

“We’ll be fine,” Liz asserted bravely. “She’ll be okay.” I hope. Liz’s hand drifted over her stomach, they needed to do this. There was no other way.

Max’s hand covered hers over their child. “ We’ll be okay,” he corrected firmly.

Part 32

Liz decided that she needed a shower before heading over to the Evans household and Max designated himself to help her ‘get cleaned up’. This involved a lot of soap and even more giggling and teasing. They dried each other off, in a much better mood than they had been in earlier in the day. Liz finished wrapping her towel around herself and remembered that her clothes were still in her room. She was laughing as she came out the door, just in time to see her mother walk in.

“What’s going on Liz?” Nancy asked her curiously.

“Oh! Hi mom,” Liz reached back and pulled the bathroom door closed firmly behind her, hearing a startled yelp within.

“What was so funny?” Nancy moved further into the room eyeing the unmade bed and scattered clothes. Liz was usually such a neat child.

Liz rushed to pick up the clothing on the bed and floor, surreptitiously kicking Max’s boxers under the bed.

“Nothing. I mean I was just remembering a joke that Isabel told me in school today. It was so funny. Sorry about the mess. I was going through my clothes to see what to wear tonight. I didn’t know that you and Daddy were coming home so early and I told Mrs. Evans that I would have dinner over at their house tonight. She wants to go over the duties of my new job.” Liz hoped she didn’t sound as guilty as she felt.

“We just wanted to get home to see you. We thought we’d been away too long.” Nancy thought that Liz looked a little tired, drawn. “Are you okay honey?”

“Yeah,” Liz looked up, surprised by the question. She actually felt remarkably fine for a seventeen year old, pregnant, married girl with alien powers who had just skipped school to comfort her emotionally distraught husband who happened to be an alien. She giggled a little under her breath.

“I missed you Mom,” Liz said sincerely, giving her mom a big hug. Nancy wrapped her arms around Liz and soaked her in, loving the emotional moment. Liz was back! She sniffed back her tears. Every mom had horror stories about their teenager’s awkward years and she hoped sincerely that Liz was over it.

“We missed you too honey,” Nancy ended the hug and looked at Liz again. Had her eyes always looked that old? She ran her hand over Liz’s damp hair.

“Is it okay if I spend the weekend at Isabel’s? Mrs. Evans wants to give me a thorough orientation into my new position and they invited me over,” Liz gauged her Mom’s reaction. Nancy looked ready to protest, so Liz rushed ahead, “I know you and Dad were really proud of me that I got this new position, and I really want to show them that I’m serious about my work and will do a good job for them. Plus Isabel and I have been getting closer than ever, she’s a really good friend, almost like a sister,” or sister-in-law.

Nancy didn’t want to say no to Liz when she had just re-bonded with her.

“All right, but your father and I want you back on Monday!” Nancy had to take a quick step back for balance when Liz bowled her over with an exuberant hug.

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Liz said, laughing out loud. “Oh! I’ve got to get ready!” She whirled around to find an overnight bag.

“I’ll let you get packing. I’ve got to check the store receipts. Make sure you say hello to your father before you leave. Do you need a ride?”

“No. They’re gonna pick me up in a little bit. Thanks again Mom, really,” Liz gave her mom one more hug before she left the room.

Liz made sure she locked the door behind her mom before going back to open the bathroom door. Max was inside, sitting on the toilet wearing only his jeans.

“Is the coast clear?” He whispered.

“Yeah,” Liz licked her lips, staring at the jeans. No way he was wearing anything underneath them, she’d kicked his boxers under her bed.

Max followed the direction of her thoughts and flushed slightly pink. “I uh…”

“I know,” Liz moved further into the room and kneeled down in front of him allowing her fingers to smooth up his thighs. Max’s hands reluctantly stopped her fingers before they found their ultimate target.

“Liz. Liz!” Liz’s eyes snapped up to meet his. “Your parents are home.”

“Oh.” Liz sighed her disappointment. Then she brightened. “Mom said I could spend the weekend at your house. I think she forgot you live there. Of course, she doesn’t even know we’re dating again or she would never have said yes.” Liz stopped rambling when she saw how happy that made Max that she was his for the weekend. “I hope your mom lets me stay.”

“She will,” Max stated with finality.

“Okay,” Liz agreed hopefully. “I told my Mom that someone was going to pick me up to take me to your house, so maybe you’d better,” she gestured for him to get up with obvious reluctance, “get dressed. You’ll have to go out my window and actually knock on my door. Do you think you can handle walking in the front door?” Liz joked.

“I’ll see what I can do ma’am,” Max stood and saluted her before going out to her room and grabbing his shirt and shoes. He looked around surreptitiously for his underwear, while Liz pretended she didn’t know where they’d fallen. Max gave up with a sigh and finished dressing. He gave her one more long kiss before crawling out her window. He popped his head back in briefly to say, “Thank you. For today. I really needed you and you were there.”

“I’ll always be there for you Max, just like you are for me,” Liz cupped his face in her hands and kissed him one more time.

· * * * *

“Mom we have to talk,” Isabel sat down beside her mom on the couch.

“Sure honey, what is it?” Diane asked with concern.

“Max and Liz are coming over in a few minutes, and Max wants to tell you what he is. What we are,” Isabel looked for her mom’s reaction.

“That’s great Isabel! I was hoping that was what this dinner was about,” Diane didn’t understand why Isabel would be nervous about this.

“He has other things to tell you too. You need to be really understanding, no matter what you hear,” Isabel rushed on.

“What things?” Diane inquired, pretty sure that she knew.

“That’s for Max to tell you Mom, I really can’t speak for him. He’s had a lot of hard times in the last week or so and he really just needs our support right now. Can you promise me that you’ll be there for him?” Isabel’s voice trembled slightly as she finished her request. Tonight depended solely on her mother’s favorable reaction. She didn’t know how Max would take it if their mother wasn’t behind them.

“Isabel! I’m surprised you even have to ask! Of course I’ll support you and your brother whenever you need me. I’m sure your father will too when we tell him,” Diane was slightly hurt that her children didn’t know for sure that they could trust her with anything.

“Dad? I don’t know if Max is ready for that yet,” Isabel said uncertainly. “I guess that there’s no way to keep this from him, huh?”

“I don’t keep secrets from your father Isabel, and when he gets back in town tomorrow I’m going to tell him everything,” she stated firmly.

“Okay. Yeah, of course you shouldn’t lie or keep things from him. He’ll be okay with it, won’t he?” Isabel begged for reassurance.

Diane hugged her daughter and kissed her hair. “He’ll always love you and your brother just as much as I do,” Diane reassured.

They both turned as they heard the front door opening and closing.

Max and Liz appeared in the doorway with their arms around each other. Diane stood to greet them warmly.

She stood on tiptoe and Max leaned down to receive her kiss and he hugged her tightly thinking that this might be the last time she would freely accept him as her son. She hugged him back reassuringly before turning to hug Liz too. Liz was a little surprised, but more than pleased by this show of acceptance.

“I’m so glad you could come,” Diane said brightly. “I bet you two are hungry! Liz could you come help me set the table and then we’ll be all set.” Diane steered Liz out of the room. Might as well start treating her like family, she thought.

“Iz, I don’t know if I can do this,” Max turned to his sister, suddenly anxious not to lose his mom.

“She’ll be fine Max. Trust me,” Isabel told him. They wandered into the kitchen to see if they could help. Liz was finding her way around nicely, chatting with Diane about her new job as if they were old friends.

“I can’t wait to get started!” Liz enthused.

“I know I made the right choice in you Liz, just like my son has,” Diane angled a glance back to catch Max’s surprised, pleased expression.

“Thank you,” Liz said sincerely.

They sat down and enjoyed a normal family dinner. Diane had restrained the impulse to mess with the dinner recipes hoping not to scare Liz away with her unique cooking game.

Diane finally pushed away from the table and began clearing when she saw that none of the teens were really eating. The conversation had become more stilted as the meal progressed and they kept exchanging meaningful glances back and forth. When the table was cleared they all convened in the living room and sat down comfortably.

Diane sat on the sofa beside Max who had Liz tucked as close as she could get into his side. Isabel sat across from them on a cushioned chair, tucking her legs under her.

“Max, I know that you wanted to talk to me about something tonight, maybe it’s just best if you just say it,” Diane started the ball rolling.

Max’s gaze darted to Isabel, who nodded, and his hand tightened around Liz’s. She gave him a comforting squeeze back and nodded her head against his shoulder.

“Well, …this is really hard to say,” Max squirmed uncomfortably in his chair. These next words would change the rest of his life. Again. And he didn’t know if he could take one more heartrending moment.

“Just say it Max,” Diane encouraged him softly, taking his free hand in her own. She wanted to just blurt out that she knew, and that it was okay, but she also felt that it was really important that he tell her. That he face his fear and feel that he could trust her with himself.

“I know that you’ve always wondered where we came from. You were always asking us what we remember about ourselves, and we’ve always told you the truth. Our lives started when you found us on the road that night. Isabel and I…well you know that we’ve always been…different. You asked me about that video when we were kids and that hurt bird flew away, and I told you that I couldn’t talk about it then. But I think I’m ready now.” Liz’s hand smoothed up and down his back, a reassurance that she was there.

Max flicked his eyes up to his mother’s and then back down again. He licked his lips nervously before continuing. “Mom, Isabel and I aren’t from around here.” He met her eyes steadily. “We’re aliens.”

Diane’s mild reaction was almost a let down to what he had imagined in his mind.

“I know,” she said simply.

“You…you what?” Max was awash in confusion, looking to Isabel and Liz to see if they had heard the same thing.

“I know. I put it together a few days ago. I’ve wondered for a long time about you two and I’ve seen too many unexplainable things not to wonder…”

“This…this is incredible! Don’t you…aren’t you…do you still…?” Max’s eyes were filling with tears and his voice choked over what he wanted to express. All this time he had worried what she would do, how she would treat them if she found out they were different, and now here she was calmly telling him that she had known for days and she had never once treated him as subhuman or anything other than her son.

Diane couldn’t stand to see her son in distress and leaned in to give him a loving hug. He threw his arms around her tightly, burying his face in her neck and letting the sobs escape him. Isabel drew closer to join the embrace and they pulled her in together. They rocked and patted and cried and murmured reassurances for several moments while Liz gazed on in awe and gratitude that they could place their trust in this amazing woman.

Max finally leaned back and turned to Liz hugging her as well before using his sleeve to dry his face. The smile he bestowed on her lit up the room to reflect the joy he felt about his mother’s reaction.

Liz beamed back at him in relief and then handed out tissues to everyone. Diane and Isabel giggled nervously as they wiped their tear-streaked faces. Isabel settled on the floor in front of her mother’s feet and Diane leaned against the back of the couch.

Max took a deep breath and started again. The hardest part was over, or maybe it was just beginning. “I have something else to tell you. Liz, Isabel and I discovered something else recently. Liz is a part of why we’re here on Earth right now. I was a king on the planet we came from. We were in a war and we were losing pretty badly. There was betrayal within our ranks,” Isabel gripped his ankle, showing her anger over Tess’ betrayal, “Tess,” wow, it was even hard to say her name after the disgust he had felt for her today, “she’s one of us too. They sent Michael, Tess, Isabel, and me to Earth so that we could grow in power after we had died on our planet. The original plan was for us to come back and free our people from enslavement. Together we have different strengths, and working together we were supposed to be this ‘super group’ that could overcome our enemies. Just recently we got a communication from our alien mother that Tess was the one who betrayed our people and was responsible for our deaths on Antar,” Max paused to see how Diane was taking all of this. Her face was rapt with attention, just taking it all in.

“When they found out that Tess had betrayed us, they made arrangements for Liz to be created,” Diane sucked in a surprised breath, she hadn’t seen that one coming. “They used Liz’s parents to create her, manipulating the DNA to create a perfect partner for me to replace Tess. I can’t really get into all the technical details, we don’t really know how they did it.” Max unconsciously fingered the stone at his neck. “I’ve always been drawn to Liz, and I’ve never known why. It’s like she was made for me,” he laughed nervously, “well, I guess she was made for me, so…” Liz hugged his back and he turned to give her a quick kiss, drawing strength from her. “She’s 100% human, with a few extra talents thrown in. She’s a little more advanced than regular people. She can have visions of the future.”

“What? How is that possible?” Diane interjected.

“It’s a talent that anyone can do, it’s just that humans don’t normally use that part of their brains and it’s been turned on in me,” Liz softly explained. Diane just nodded her acknowledgement.

“There were some Antarians that had this talent also, not many, just a couple. They’ve seen into our future here on Earth and they’ve sent us a message that Michael, Isabel, Liz and I have to be together. Our mission is to protect Earth from those who will try to destroy us. They said that we aren’t the ones who will go back to Antar to free them. Our son will.” Diane started visibly.

“Liz and I are going to have a son,” Max stated with more confidence. He would never be ashamed of that connection between him and Liz.

“In the future, right?” Diane put in.

“Now,” Max affirmed.

“You…” Diane pointed back and forth between them, temporarily struck speechless.

“Yes. We lied to you about where we were last weekend. We went to Las Vegas and while we were there we got married. The communication stone,” Max fingered his necklace again, “told us that we were expecting a child. It triggered the message and told us about our past and our future.” Max pulled Liz in until she was almost seated on his lap.

“I’m sorry that we lied, but I can never be sorry that Liz is in my life. I need her like I need air and I won’t let her go. Ever.” Max’s eyes dared anyone to challenge that.

“Max! I…I know that you love Liz. This is just so…wow! A baby!” Diane slumped back at the realization. “I’m gonna be a grandma! When are you due?”

Liz flushed slightly, “It’s a little different than a normal pregnancy. It lasts ten months, so I’m due around the first of the year. The baby is supposed to remain really small for the first eight months or so because it’s alien side will drain a lot of my energy.” Liz flushed brighter and buried her face in Max’s shoulder when she realized what else they had to tell Diane.

Max stroked her hair and turned to his mother.

“What? What is it? This isn’t going to hurt Liz, is it?” Diane asked worriedly.

“No! No. I won’t let anything hurt Liz,” Max squirmed a bit. “The baby needs special nutrients to develop it’s alien side so that it won’t drain away all of Liz’s resources.”

“What nutrients? Like vitamins?” She was planning a trip to the health food store first thing in the morning.

“Um…this is really hard to say,” Max dropped his eyes, they fell on his sister and he flushed brighter and darted his gaze away again. “Liz and I need to be… together for the baby to receive nourishment.” Max prayed his mother would understand and drop it.

“Together? Can the baby sense your nearness? I don’t understand,” Diane shook her head in confusion.

Max’s blush increased, he felt like his face was burning and he could feel Liz trembling against his shoulder. He straightened his posture and faced his mother. It was time to make things clear and move on.

“We need to make love. Often. The child needs to receive the nutrients in my sperm a couple times a day in order for the pregnancy to be maintained. If we don’t, then Liz and the child will die. We’ve already discovered that if we don’t then Liz and I both develop a high fever and Liz gets weaker until we…Anyway, once the fever starts we only have twenty-four hours to be together or they would…would,” Max broke off, not wanting to say what would happen. He buried his head in Liz’s arms and she stroked his hair and neck, massaging out the tension.

“It’s okay baby,” she murmured, for his ears alone. He gave a small nod.

“This is…unbelievable,” Diane was stunned. There was so much that she hadn’t even known. These children of hers were a complete mystery.

“We need to know if you can help us to stay together,” Max expressed his deepest concern.

“I can…Yes. Of course I’ll help you,” Diane thought rapidly. “New Mexico law states that a marriage is legal even if you’re underage as long as you have parental consent. You have my consent, we just need to get Liz’s parents. Do they know?”

Both Max and Liz shook their heads in a vigorous ‘no’.

“Do you think you can tell them?” She asked tentatively.

Liz looked uncomfortable. “I don’t think that they’re ready for all of this yet. I don’t know how they’d react, and I can’t risk being kept away from Max for even one day or…” she didn’t finish the sentence because she felt the slight tremor of Max’s reaction against her body.

“Okay. Okay, let me think here,” Diane massaged the side of her head where an enormous headache was brewing. Max reached out and brushed her fingers aside. She felt a warm tingle and then the pain was gone. Max smiled shyly and lowered his hand.

“How did you…?” Diane asked in wonderment.

“That’s my primary gift. I can heal people,” Max stated shyly.

“That’s…that’s so amazing!” Diane always knew that her son was made for great things. His heart was pure and his gift suited him perfectly.

“I think you should hold off on telling your parents about the alien side of things. Let’s wait a couple months and then tell them that you are pregnant and we’ll get their consent for the marriage. You two can live here if you want, after they consent. You are staying in school?” Diane asked with worry.

“Of course!” Liz responded resoundingly.

“Absolutely! We may have this huge destiny to save the Earth, but we have a responsibility to ourselves to learn everything we can while we have the opportunity,” Max added with certainty.

“Good! Okay, so you’ll go to school. We need to work out a way to keep you two together until you can reveal your pregnancy Liz. Let me work on that and I’ll come up with something.”

“Wow. Great. Okay! Um, I kinda told my Mom that I was spending the weekend over here to learn the ropes about my new job. Is it all right if I stay here this weekend?” Liz was uncomfortable inviting herself over.

“Perfect! Yes, of course! It’ll give us a chance to get to know each other better,” Diane enthused. Her thoughts turned inward, planning. “We have to tell your father when he comes home tomorrow.”

“He doesn’t know…anything?” Max had a small hope that he’d figured it out too and wouldn’t be in total shock.

“Sorry honey, but no he doesn’t, but I know he’ll be just fine. I want to tell him alone first okay?” Diane thought the news would come better one on one.

“I can be there if you want,” Max volunteered.

“I’ll tell him first and then we can all talk,” Diane asserted.

“Okay. Are you really all right with all this?” Max questioned uncertainly.

Diane hugged him again because she could. “I love you and your sister more that anything in life. God brought you both to me for a reason. You have filled my life with joy and gladness everyday that I have had you and I do not regret on single moment of it! You need to know that I love you both,” she reached out her hand to draw Isabel into their embrace, “more than anything on this earth or any other. I will love you and help you and be there for all of you no matter what happens in our future,” she drew Liz into the hug as well, “and I can’t wait to meet my grandson!”

Max, Liz and Isabel sighed in relief and contentment. Things were going to be okay.

Part 33

Max shut his bedroom door behind him and leaned back against it, suddenly nervous. Liz lay sprawled across his bed in a tank top and underwear reading her lit assignment. She glanced up when he didn’t immediately join her.

“What?” She asked with a small smile, reasonably sure that she knew.

“I don’t know. It’s just strange, I guess. Mom knows now. She knows that we’re in here together, and she knows what we have to do for our son. Don’t you feel different? We don’t have to try to hide from her,” Max said.

“Yeah,” Liz answered softly, sitting up and patting the space beside her on the bed. “It’s freeing and embarrassing at the same time. There are some things that mom’s should not know.”

“It’s different with us though. She had to know. Everyone knows. It’s crazy!” Max burst out in frustration.

“I know that it should be a private thing, but at least everyone is supporting us so far. You have the coolest mom on the face of the planet. I can’t believe she wasn’t freaking out about everything we told her!” Liz absolutely knew that her parents would not react well.

Max, Isabel, and Liz had spent the last couple hours explaining the communication stone, how they found it, and the message it had contained to Diane. She had taken it all in mutely, nodding a little to let them know they could continue. She was especially frightened by the plan Max had come up with to get information out of Tess before they took her out to the desert. She was conflicted about killing Tess. She’d seemed like such a normal girl. Wasn’t there some other way to detain her? Rehabilitate her?

That was a very unpopular suggestion. All the kids agreed that she needed to be destroyed in order for them to live the life they were destined for. She was simply too dangerous.

Liz leaned up to embrace Max. His arms automatically surrounded her, one hand dropping to caress her flat stomach, loving that connection between the three of them.

Liz nibbled on the sensitive cord of his neck, right under his chin and he growled low in his throat. Liz laughed, “What was that?”

He pushed her back onto his bed and hovered over her, “That’s what you do to me.”

Liz wiggled her hips up to come in contact with his, meeting the evidence of his arousal. “So that’s what I do to you, huh?”

Max growled again and kissed her lips thoroughly before rolling to his back to lay beside her.

“I thought we agreed to wait this weekend to time how long it takes between fevers?” His tight voice indicated his unhappiness with the plan.

“I know, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t tease you like that,” Liz rolled to her side to face him and put her hand over his chest.

Max put his hand over hers to stop her from moving it over his sensitized skin. “Maybe we should go to bed.”

“Yeah, good idea,” Liz scooted up with Max and they slipped under the covers. Max spooned in behind her with his left arm over her side caressing her stomach. He inched up the tank top she was wearing to enjoy her smooth skin. He inhaled the clean scent of her hair and closed his eyes, content.

6:47 am

Liz moaned quietly in her sleep and her hands moved restlessly over Max’s broad chest. Max turned into her arms and his hands tugged up her tank top. His strong fingers caressed her nipples, causing them to pucker into hard knots. Liz moaned again at the intimate contact. Her body undulated against his and he bucked his hips forward, seeking friction against her body. Max’s face brushed over her heated skin, dropping light kisses across her neck and down her chest. Dissatisfied with the clothing between them, he dragged her shirt up and off, dropping it over the side of the bed. Liz’s hands busily relieved him of his boxers while Max stripped her of her last garment.

Her breath came in panting gasps when his lips closed over her hard nipples. His teeth lightly grazed over and then his tongue soothed them. Her fingers clenched the tangled sheets of the bed in a tight grip when Max trailed his hand down her body to her center. Her slick heat enveloped his fingers as he thrust two deeply inside of her. Her juices flooded over his hand as he pumped them in and out. Her back arched off the mattress and her mouth opened in a soundless scream of pleasure as she came hard.

Their eyes snapped open in the same instant and they stared in shock at the position of their bodies. Max swept down and took her lips in a consuming kiss. His tongue stroked the seam of her lips and she parted them eagerly for his invasion. He explored her mouth thoroughly, sucking her tongue as his body hardened further at the sound of her panting moans of pleasure and need.

Liz clutched his shoulders and wrapped her legs around his hips, arching her aching center closer to his pelvis. Max slowly removed his fingers from her and stroked the slickness over his erection. He teasingly rubbed it over her core until she whimpered in protest. He pulled back to look into her eyes as he entered her, filling all the empty spots inside her that were calling for him. Her eyes went wide and then closed in ecstasy as her head rolled to the side. Max took the invitation and began thrusting deeply within her as he sucked and nipped down the exposed column of her neck.

Liz’s hands could not hold still. She massaged his shoulders, smoothing his straining muscles. She enjoyed the slick texture of his skin over his chest, circling the nipples and pinching lightly. She arched up to taste his skin, licking up the salty taste and humming in the back of her throat. Max sped the movements of their hips as the sounds of her pleasure increased his own.

At last, they could no longer control the feelings spiraling around them. With a series of deep, regular thrusts Max poured his seed into Liz as she screamed her enjoyment. He collapsed on top of her and she pushed him to her side so she could catch her breath. They looked into each other’s faces and burst out laughing at the same time.

“I guess we should note the time,” Max sputtered out between chortles of mirth.

“I’ll break out the charts,” Liz wiped the tears streaming from her laughing eyes.

“That might just have been a chart topper!” Max adlibbed.

“Definitely!” Liz agreed wholeheartedly.


Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
-Robert Frost
posted on 31-Aug-2001 2:09:11 PM
Part 34

Diane smiled to herself as she cooked breakfast on Saturday morning. She had a new recipe for pancakes that she’d been dying to try on the kids. She looked forward to the inventive ways they would try to hide their distaste. Her smile widened when she thought of Liz’s reaction. She hadn’t yet been indoctrinated into the joys of Diane’s cooking, but she might as well start treating her like family. Maybe she should cook her something normal on the side to make sure she got her proper nutrients. Diane rummaged through the refrigerator looking for milk, juice, and fruit. Satisfied she closed the frig with her hip and turned with her arms filled.

“Let me get that for you Mom,” Max moved forward to take some of the items from her hands. He inhaled appreciatively as the aroma of cooking pancakes filled the room. “Something smells good,” he stated, glancing around the kitchen. Maybe his mom had started cooking normally now that Liz was around.

Liz had walked in behind Max and automatically began to set the table. She was feeling more at home here now that Diane knew all about her and Max. Diane thanked her and made sure that Liz was seated next to Max, placing a large glass of milk and juice in front of her plate.

“Sit down kids, it’s almost ready,” Diane said cheerfully. “Where’s Isabel?”

“I’m right here,” Isabel groaned as she walked into the room.

“You sound tired honey. Didn’t you sleep well?” Diane asked with a worried look in her eyes.

“I slept fine until about 7:00,” Isabel glared pointedly at Max and Liz. Liz ducked her head in embarrassment and Max’s face turned three shades of red.

Diane glanced back and forth between her children. “What happened at…?” Her face flushed hotly the moment their meaning registered. She busied herself in the kitchen, transferring pancakes and scrambled eggs to the plates and sliding them onto the table.

Isabel took in the smell and she smiled for the first time this morning.

“This smells fabulous! What did you put in these?” Isabel picked up her fork and dug in, taking a large bite.

Diane’s eyes danced with mirth, anticipating their reaction. “They’re jalapeno chocolate chip! And I slipped the extra peppers in the eggs.”

Max’s eyes went round and he forked up a large bite as well. His eyes closed in appreciation of the sweet and spicy taste. “This is my new favorite food. Great idea Mom! I love this! Liz, give it a try.”

Liz looked slightly more dubious and she cautiously took a small bite. She chewed thoughtfully and took another bite, sampling the eggs. “It’s a little more spice than I’m used to, but really very good.” Liz complimented Diane.

Diane’s expression was priceless. They really seemed to be enjoying their breakfast this time and she could clearly see that they weren’t spitting it out anywhere. Diane sat down at her place at the table and tried her breakfast. Her eyes watered and she took a quick sip of her milk. How could these kids be shoveling it in like that? She knew, of course, about their love of Tabasco, but really!

Max and Isabel finished in record time and asked for seconds. Diane shook her head as she prepared the rest of the batter and placed a large plate filled with pancakes in the middle of the table. Her kids helped themselves to generous portions and cleaned their plates.

Liz finished what was on her plate and then had a small bowl of strawberries with a slice of cantaloupe. She watched in amusement while Max and Isabel ate their breakfast with almost comical enjoyment.

At last Max sat back from the table, his hands over his stomach.

“Wow Mom, you totally outdid yourself!” He rubbed his belly and smiled at her.

“Well, I…I’m glad you liked it son,” Diane answered, not precisely sure if she was pleased or disappointed that her game had backfired.

Isabel turned to Liz. “So Liz, can you feel the baby inside you yet? Like sense it I mean?” Isabel was excited by the idea of becoming an aunt and wanted to be involved.

Liz nodded her head, her hand drifting to her stomach. A small smile broke over her face and she glanced at Max. He couldn’t repress his own proud smile as he remembered the spark of life they had felt within her as they formed a connection. “We can feel him in there. It’s hard to describe. He’s too small to form thoughts or anything, but we can feel…love, I guess. Contentment and peace.” She looked to Max for confirmation. His eyes glowed warmly with love as he reached out a hand to cover hers on her belly.

“It’s too bad we can’t go shopping for maternity clothes! You’re so tiny, but I guess the baby won’t show for a while, huh?” Isabel was disappointed that they would miss out on a shopping opportunity.

They all laughed.

“Is there something you want to tell me son?” Phillips stern voice pierced the happy mood at the table.

Diane turned around quickly in her seat, her face filled with dismay.

“Phillip! You’re home early! Can I get you something to eat?” Diane stood and gave Phillip a quick hug, hoping he had not heard the conversation at the table.

“Max, I think we need to have a talk,” Phillip turned on his heel and left the room.

Max’s worried eyes met his mother’s and he gave Liz’s hand a quick squeeze before he followed his dad into the den.

“Hey Dad, we missed you this week,” Max offered weakly.

“Did I just hear that Liz Parker is pregnant?” Phillip cut right to the point.

Max had been looking down toward his feet, but he straightened his posture and met his father’s eyes as he answered.

“Liz Evans is pregnant Dad. We got married last weekend,” Max stated bluntly, not ashamed of their actions.

“ What?!” Phillip roared, taking a step closer to his son. “You two are children! I can’t believe how irresponsible you were! I thought we had a talk about birth control and safe sex! Weren’t you listening?” Phillip pulled his agitated hands through his hair causing it to spike up oddly.

“Calm down Dad!” Max answered in an authoritative tone. “Liz and I have loved each other from the minute we met, and it’s only natural that we wanted to express that love physically. We did use birth control, but it doesn’t always work!” Max couldn’t stand the thought that his father would think he would be careless with Liz. He would protect her from anything!

“This is unbelievable! What are you planning to do? You kids are in high school for goodness sakes! How are you going to graduate? Have you even thought about how you’re going to support a family? What do Liz’s parents have to say about all this?” Phillip couldn’t imagine that they’d be thrilled with Max right now.

Max shifted his stance, suddenly uncomfortable. “Liz’s parents don’t know yet Dad. There’s a lot about this that you don’t know.”

“What else is there to know? My teenage son got his teenage girlfriend pregnant and made an impulsive decision to marry her! Did she push you into this? It was her wasn’t it? Did she say that you had to marry her?” Phillip was angered by the apparent lack of judgement that his usually cautious, responsible son was showing.

Max grew hot with rage at the tone in his father’s voice.

“First of all, I did not have to marry Liz! I love her and we got married before we knew that she was pregnant! I will never regret that decision and I will love her and support her until the day I die. I will not have you hurting her with doubts about my love for her or making her feel ashamed of our son! Do you understand me?” Max’s hot anger was blinding.

“Max, honey. Let me talk to your father alone,” Diane had heard the entire exchange and thought that she needed to intervene. Max stood frozen, staring his father down. Phillip was shocked by the entire exchange. He looked to his wife in confusion. Had she known about all of this and not told him?

Diane took Max by his shoulders and turned him toward the door, leading him reluctantly out.

“Don’t let him talk about Liz that way,” he requested on the way out. Diane hated the hurt look she saw in his eyes. He had been hurt enough.

“I won’t honey. You go to Liz and wait in the living room. I’m going to tell him what’s really going on and then we’ll come out to see you,” Diane reassured him.

“I should be here when you tell him,” Max protested.

“I think that there’s a lot going on and he’ll take it better from me,” Diane reached the door and found Liz waiting. Liz took Max’s hand and led him out to the living room. They sat of the couch, Liz cradling Max to her warm body.

“They’ll work it out Max. It’ll be fine,” Liz soothed.

“He shouldn’t have said that stuff. Thought it,” Max was hurt by his father’s lack of understanding.

“He was just shocked. How could he know what was going on with us Max?” Liz answered reasonably.

“He should know me,” Max asserted stubbornly. He was feeling very defensive suddenly.

“You never let him in Max. After today I think he will know you,” Liz responded, pulling his face down to kiss him softly.

“Ewww!” Isabel plopped down in a chair across from them. “It’s bad enough that I have to wake up to you two moaning and groaning, but do I have to witness all your PDA’s?” Isabel needed a distraction and she really enjoyed watching Max flush red.

“Isabel! You know…” Liz started defending them.

Max cut her off. “She knows Liz. She’s just trying to embarrass her brother. Isn’t that right Isabel?” Max arched an eyebrow at her.

“Yeah, well, if I had something more entertaining to do, I would,” Isabel smiled smugly.

Max snatched up the remote and tossed it to her. “Your entertainment, my lady,” he quipped, and turned Liz into his arms for a real kiss. Liz was startled, but responded eagerly.

Isabel averted her eyes and flipped on the TV. One day she wouldn’t mind if Max had something to tease her about. She started channel surfing and tried not to think about her mother exposing all their secrets to their father. She felt itchy, filled with anxiety and had a hard time sitting still.

Max reached across and took her hand. “We have each other. And Mom. If he’ll listen to anybody, it’s her.” Max filled his voice with confidence.

“Thanks,” Isabel took a deep breath and squeezed his hand back, before letting him go.

They both shot their eyes toward the door at a loud, “WHAT? Are you insane?” They looked at each other worriedly as the voices toned down to a murmur again.

Minutes later the door swung open and Max rose to meet his father. Phillip looked very agitated and looked from Max to Liz to Isabel. His hands wouldn’t be still, nervously smoothing down the seam of his slacks and rubbing together shakily.

“Max, your mother is not well. I’m going to take her to the hospital and we should be back…”

Max watched his father in astonishment. “Is she sick? Where is she?” Max started around his father, who was blocking the door.

“I think that she’s just in shock over all these new developments. It’s not every day you find out you’re going to be a grandmother at such a young age. She probably just needs rest. She’s losing her grip on reality,” Phillip said sadly.

“What…what makes you say that Daddy?” Isabel asked softly. Her eyes met Max’s. Phillip hadn’t believed a word that Diane had told him.

“She thinks that you all are…I can’t even say it. I just need to get her to the hospital,” Phillip pulled his keys out of his pocket.

“Did she tell you what we are? Did she tell you that we’re aliens?” Max inquired gently. His father looked ready to crash.

“What? Are you saying…? Has my entire family gone insane???” Phillip sounded desperate.

“It’s true Daddy,” Isabel put in, moving to stand by Max. Liz stepped up, slightly behind them.

“Show him Max,” Liz encouraged softly, knowing that Phillip could not believe until he had physical evidence.

Max thought for a moment and reached out his hand. A green wall filled the space in front of them, separating Phillip from the children. Phillip stumbled back in astonishment, tripping and falling on his rear. He sat there in stunned amazement until Max closed his hand, allowing the shield to collapse. He had chosen that because it was the flashiest of his powers, and it appeared to have served its purpose. Max stepped back when he saw the fear float through his father’s eyes. He turned to embrace Liz so that he wouldn’t have to face the contempt that he knew would follow.

“Daddy?” Isabel stepped forward tentatively. This was not going as well as she’d hoped. She reached out her hand to him and he backed away from her. Hurt swamped Isabel’s eyes with tears. She stepped back again, giving him room and hugged her arms to her body.

“Phillip, these are your children,” Diane said from the doorway. She couldn’t bear what this was doing to her family. She moved forward and helped her husband to his feet. He pulled her behind him protectively, but she pushed him aside impatiently.

“We’ve all told you the truth. Max and Isabel are aliens. Liz was made to be with Max. Their son is our grandson. I know that it’s a lot to take in right now but you’re acting like an ass!” Diane shouted impatiently.

Phillip snapped out of it to gape at his wife. She never rose her voice to him! He re-ran what she had said through his head again. He looked from wife to son to daughter to daughter-in-law. He saw his family. He saw the devastation and hurt that was reflected in each face and he realized that he had put it there.

“I have to think about this,” Phillip started to walk away, his head down.

“Phillip!” Diane started after him, taking his arm. He shook her off.

“It’s the best I can do right now, okay?” Phillip ground out in frustration. He left the room and his bedroom door closed decisively.

Max, Isabel, Liz and Diane stared at each other with identical expressions of hurt and fear.

Part 35

The teens spent the day working on blocking a full connection between Max and Liz. They practiced retrieving specific memories between Isabel, Liz, Max, and Diane. Each tried not to show the strain of the waiting.

Phillip remained holed up in his room, not even coming out to join them for lunch.

Diane tried to be cheerful and upbeat about everything, but the strain showed in her expression, and when Max showed her how he made a connection he felt her fear and uncertainty slam into him. He didn’t indicate that he knew about her distress. All of them were caught at one point or another staring at the empty doorway that they had last seen Phillip disappear through.

Isabel revealed to Max and Liz her plan to graduate early and attend college. Max was very concerned, thinking that she planned on leaving; too far away to help with their fight. Isabel reassured him that, after all that had taken place recently, she was going to attend the local community college for now. This prompted a discussion about Max and Liz finishing high school by the middle of their senior year. They made plans to consult their counselor at school to find out exactly how many classes they still needed to graduate. That would mean they could finish school by winter break, just in time for their son’s arrival.

The door was heard opening down the hall and everyone raised anxious faces to the doorway. Phillip appeared, dressed casually in sweats and a T-shirt, appearing tired and rumpled.

He looked into the faces of his family and then down at the floor. Sitting in the armchair across from the sofa he rested his elbows on his knees and stared down between his legs.

Max and Isabel stopped breathing as they waited for their father to accept or reject them.

Phillip took a deep breath and faced them all. “Your mother was right. I’m an ass,” Phillip started. “I didn’t handle any of that well at all and I’m ashamed of myself. I know that I was shocked and said things that I shouldn’t have, and I’m more sorry than I can say that I hurt you so much. Can you forgive me?”

Max felt tears welling in his eyes and opened them wider so they wouldn’t spill over. He’d done enough crying this last week to last him a lifetime.

“There’s nothing to forgive. We’ve kept things from you our entire lives and I can’t imagine how you felt hearing it all come out in one sitting like that,” Max stood up and moved one step to his father. Phillip stood to face his son and looked him in the eyes. Same eyes. Same face. Same son. He pulled Max in for a close hug, never wanting to let go of this precious boy.

Isabel felt the tears streaming down her face and dropping on her clenched fingers. She had longed for this final moment of acceptance for her entire life. Diane gave Isabel an encouraging squeeze around the shoulders and motioned for her to join Max and her father. Isabel stood on shaky legs and tentatively touched her father’s arm to get his attention. He pulled back slightly from Max and reached an arm around Isabel as well.

Liz smiled happily and Diane sat next to her on the couch with a comforting arm around her shoulders. Liz leaned her head down onto Diane’s shoulder and sighed. She was so happy for Max! If only her own family could be so accepting. It would never happen.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Dinner that night was filled with animated conversation. They filled in Phillip on the details of Max and Liz’s connection and her origins. They talked about Michael and how he had been left in the desert the night that the Evans had picked up Max and Isabel. Phillip was grieved to find out that they had left Michael alone out there and they had missed the opportunity to have another son.

When the conversation turned to Tess, and their plan to get rid of her, Phillip grew concerned. He was a lawyer and had seen a lot of things, but he could not condone murder.

“No! There is no way you can go out in the desert and just…just kill her!” Phillip was shocked to the core of his being. He felt that there were other options that they just hadn’t explored yet. Some way to imprison her or…

“Dad,” Max started, “you have no idea what she is capable of. She’s already almost killed Alex. I had to heal him, and if we hadn’t found out what was going on when we did, then Alex would be dead right now. Dead Dad.” Max shook his head. “You know me Dad. I don’t like the idea either, but I will do everything in my power to make sure that Liz and my son are safe. They have a destiny that cannot be disrupted by Tess’ obsession with power and control. She cannot know about our son and she cannot be allowed to interfere with his destiny. Thousands of lives are depending on us keeping him safe, and the Antarians told us what they saw! She was planning to betray all of us. She wanted to be the one carrying my baby! She wants to be in control of my son, to control the incredible gifts he will possess, and we can’t allow that to happen. Her powers bend people’s perception of the truth. She’s too dangerous to hide away somewhere, she’d only break out and nobody would even notice. They told us to destroy her and that’s just what we have to do!” Max’s eyes glowed with the passion of his speech.

Phillip sighed deeply. His son was no longer a boy, but a man protecting what was his. There was no deterring him, and, truth be told, he would kill her himself if she hurt his family.

“You’re sure?” Phillip had to ask one more time.

“No doubts Dad. We’ve seen what she’s done, what she will do. We don’t have another choice,” Max’s voice was filled with certainty.

“Okay. Monday, huh?” Phillip scrubbed his hands over his eyes.

“Yeah. We’re meeting her here. She thinks that she’ll just show me how to do the memory retrievals, but I’m going to make a connection and pull out everything that she knows that might help us with our fight. She learned a lot of tricks from Nacedo, and we need every advantage we can get. She may even know what our enemies plans are for us here on Earth,” Max said. He was still nervous about allowing the connection, but he felt the potential payoff was worth it, especially since Michael, Isabel, and Liz would be backing him up.

“I’m going to stay home on Monday, just in case,” Phillip volunteered.

“That’s not necessary Dad. There’s nothing you could do,” Max told him

“I can be here for you. I need to,” Phillip couldn’t bear the thought of his children in danger. How was it that they had been oblivious to all that they had gone through in the last two years?

“Thanks Dad,” Max could tell that this was important to his father and his chest swelled with happiness that his father could still care what happened to him after everything.

Liz stood suddenly, looking flushed. Her eyes were wide. Max felt it at the same time. Heat.

“I…um…excuse us please,” Max grabbed Liz’s hand and pulled her with him, down the hall and to his room.

Pulling the door firmly closed behind him; he leaned against it, panting already. Liz covered his mouth eagerly with hers, her breath coming in irregular gasps. “I’m sorry,” she panted out breathlessly.

“I’m not,” Max scooped her up into his arms and carried her to his bed, laying her down gently. He knew that soon neither of them would be capable of gentleness or slow caresses. They would be consumed by their need for each other and thoughts of tender, slow loving would be non-existent. His mouth covered hers hotly, tongue seeking that deeper penetration. Her lips parted eagerly and she moaned low in her throat; that sound that he loved. He growled and increased the pressure of his lips and his hands moved on their own to strip her out of her clothes. Her hands helped to relieve him of his garments and soon they were piled on the floor.

Max’s hands traveled over the silky planes of her body lingering at the places he had learned she loved. Liz’s hands wandered over his hard body, loving the play of muscles beneath her fingers. His body was hard and ready for her and he reined in enough control to check her slick opening with his fingers to assure himself that she was ready too. Liz’s hip bucked up eagerly under the pressure of his hands, begging for more.

Max slipped within her waiting body with one long thrust and released a sigh of pure pleasure. He held still for a moment, allowing her to adjust to his presence and when he felt her hands on his hips, urging him to move, he couldn’t wait any longer. Their mouths mated along with their bodies, hands exploring, caressing, pinching and soothing. Liz couldn’t contain the sounds of her strong release and Max muffled her scream with his mouth, thrusting his tongue and muting her cries. Max moved within her several more times before joining her over the edge. This time it was Liz that muffled his moans as his body shuddered and then went still over her.

Max moved over to the side, still connected to Liz and they smoothed their hands lovingly over each other. Looking into his eyes, she smiled at him tenderly.

“It’s a good thing your Dad knows that we’re married or he would have never…”

“Oh my God! Liz, I don’t think we told him about that aspect of your pregnancy! What is he going to think?” Max’s distress struck Liz funny and she started to giggle. The laughter caused her inner muscles to contract around Max provocatively and she felt him stirring back to life within her. She stopped laughing at the smoky look in his eyes and she rolled over on top of him to take his mouth in another hot kiss.

She began moving over him slowly, able now to think and take her time pleasuring them both. They each panted out endearments and words of love until they were out of breath. Max’s hands guided her hips in an up and down motion that drove them insane. The connection had remained strong throughout their joining and Max hung on to control tightly as he felt Liz starting to reach the edge. He plunged into her deeply, triggering her to let go and tumble into bliss. Liz was so focused on the pleasure coursing through her that she had to stop her movements, and Max quickly rolled them over so that Liz was on the bottom. Bracing his hands on each side of her body, Max dug his knees into the bed and used the leverage to pound into her deep and strong. Liz’s nails scratched over his back, leaving long trails of abused skin. The pleasure and the pain swamped him and he groaned loudly as he came inside of her.

They lay side by side again, and when they looked at each other this time they both burst out laughing.

“If they didn’t know why we left before, then they certainly do now!” Liz’s eyes danced with mirth.

Max groaned in exasperation and threw his hand over his eyes.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

“Is something wrong? Where did they go? Is Liz feeling all right?” Phillip asked with concern.

“Oh…um…Liz is fine honey,” Diane stepped in, gesturing for Isabel to leave them alone for the moment. Isabel left for the kitchen, in search of a snack. She thought that maybe the kitchen was far enough away to not hear the noises that were sure to emanate from Max’s room.

“Phillip, we haven’t really told you everything about Liz’s pregnancy,” Diane thought that was a good start.

“What? You already told me it would last ten months and that the baby would be very small for the first eight months. Is the baby affecting Liz’s health? Does Max have to heal her?” Phillips brows were drawn together in concern.

“Well, in a way he is healing her,” Diane shifted uncomfortably in her chair. It was one thing to hear about all this and another entirely to have to tell someone about it. “One of the things that the communication stones told the kids is that this pregnancy is very hard on a human body. Liz is entirely human and the baby is part alien. Their son needs special nutrients to develop its alien traits and he drains Liz’s energy when he needs that extra boost. If Max doesn’t supply what she needs then both Liz and their son would die.”

“What?? How does Max get these vitamins? Is there anything we should do? How do they know when she needs them?” Phillip’s mind was boiling with questions.

Here came the hard part.

“It’s not vitamins that Liz needs. It’s Max. Max has special properties in his sperm, and they need to be together at least twice a day so that the baby won’t drain Liz’s energy. They know when they need to be together because both Liz and Max develop a fever at the same time. Liz’s fever is caused by the drain on her resources, and Max was given a protective impulse that connects him to her and lets him know, whether they are together or apart, that they need him. He experiences her symptoms, although to a lighter degree. Liz gets weak, Max just gets a fever. Michael has the urge too, but in him it’s delayed. The aliens needed to insure that there was a back-up plan in case something happened to Max, so they planted the impulse in Michael as well because he is the only other being on the planet that can ensure their survival.”

Phillip just stared at her.

“Michael and Liz?” Phillip finally sputtered out.

“Max would never leave Liz alone like that. It’s not Michael’s fault that they planted that impulse in him. He feels really awkward about the whole thing, so don’t bring it up in front of him,” Diane requested softly.

“Like I’d just bring something like that up?” Phillip asked in disbelief. They both turned to the doorway at the sound of a loud groan.

Phillip covered his ears and Diane followed him out of the room to join Isabel in the kitchen.

Isabel turned from the freezer where she was putting away the ice cream and saw their expressions and her father with his hands over his ears.

Her laughter rang through the house as she turned back to the freezer to get some ice cream for her bewildered parents.

Authors Note: The song is ‘With Arms Wide Open’ by Creed. It helps if you’ve heard it before. I was playing it over and over as I wrote, it makes me cry, it’s so perfect for how I imagine Max is feeling right now.

Part 36

Sunday Morning

Well I just heard the news today
It seems my life is going to change

Liz woke quietly to the gentle sound of Max’s voice. He lay with his head by her stomach, his hand a warm comfort over their son. She listened in awe at the pure, true notes that Max was singing to their baby. His breath puffed warmly against her skin as he sang.

I close my eyes, begin to pray
Then tears of joy stream down my face

His fingers caressed her taut abdomen softly so as not to wake Liz. The connection between the three flared brilliantly to life. Peace. Joy. Family. Tears sparkled in Liz’s eyes as she watched Max and their son connect on a level deeper than any they had achieved before.

With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I’ll show you everything

With arms wide open
With arms wide open

Well I don’t know if I’m ready
To be the man I have to be

Liz threaded her fingers through Max’s hair. He turned sparkling eyes to look at her with such an expression of awe and love in his eyes that she gasped for breath. She prayed that he would continue now that he knew she was listening.

I’ll take a breath, I’ll take her by my side
We stand if awe, we’ve created life

Max twined his fingers through Liz’s, holding her tightly. Liz released her breath on a sigh of relief that he could share this beautiful part of himself with her.

With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I’ll show you everything
With arms wide open
Now everything has changed
I’ll show you love
I’ll show you everything

With arms wide open
Wide open…

Max scooted up to lay his head in her outstretched arm, looking down at their joined hands over her flat stomach. He turned back to her, his eyes filled with the strength of his emotion as he sang the next part as if it was wrenched from his soul.

If I had just one wish
Only one demand
I hope he’s not like me
I hope he understands
That he can take this life
And hold it by the hand
And he can greet the world
With arms wide open

Liz sobbed her heartbreak. Max meant those words with everything inside him. His son would have a different life than he had. Richer, fuller. No hiding, no secrets from everyone he loved. Max turned back to the baby, caressing her skin gently.

With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I’ll show you everything
With arms wide open
Now everything has changed
I’ll show you love
I’ll show you everything
With arms wide open
With arms wide open

Max finished softly and turned his head into her neck, releasing the flood of tears he had been holding back. His shoulders shook with the force of his quiet sobs, and Liz enfolded him in her arms giving him the only comfort she could.

Max couldn’t stop the flood of emotion that inundated him. He felt bad that he knew Liz was suffering with him through their connection, and at the same time he was unspeakably grateful that she knew. That there was one person on this Earth that was his and his alone. That she would stand by him, suffer with him, celebrate life with him. It was staggering. It was overwhelming. It was Liz.

He dragged in a ragged breath and grasped for control. He wiped his damp cheeks with the back of one hand and met Liz’s eyes. She met his gaze levelly, looking deeper that anyone else could. She knew without words that Max was overwhelmed by the events of the past week. She understood his wish for his child to grow up safe and accepted and loved without condition. She saw the moment that Max comprehended her understanding of what he had done this morning.

“I’m going to thank God every day for you and our son.” His voice was firm. Steadier than he thought it should be after what he had just done.

“I thought you didn’t believe in God,” Liz breathed softly, knowing he needed to talk it out.

“Do you know that when Isabel, Michael, and I were kids we made a pact. A list of rules really. They were the rules that we made together after we realized that we weren’t normal. That we were freaks and that people would try to hurt us if they knew who we really were.”

Liz stroked her hand through his thick, soft hair, gently smoothing the ends and running her hand back up. She knew that Max needed to tell her in his own way, that this apparent non sequitur was leading somewhere.

“It was ‘How to Hide in Plain Sight’ in twenty rules or less. Never reveal yourself to anyone. Never use your powers where anyone might see you. Don’t make friends outside our circle who might get too close to the truth.” Max’s voice was bitter. He took the hand that wasn’t stroking through his hair and brought it to his mouth for a sweet kiss. “We were good at it. We didn’t see any other options, and we didn’t even understand half of what would be done to us if we were caught.” Max breathing accelerated, coming in short pants that he worked to control. His eyes closed at the sharp memory of what had been done to him. Liz’s hand massaged his gently.

“And then one day, there was you.” Max smiled behind closed eyes and replaced the evil thoughts with pure ones of Liz and all she meant to him. “I had watched you for years. Years Liz. But you were against the rules. Isabel dated casually, never getting too close to one boy. She had fun and knew that it was just that. I couldn’t even imagine doing that with you. I knew even then that if I were to ever let you get close to me that I would never let you go. You were everything. Everything in a way that I knew I would never feel for anyone else. And it hurt Liz. It hurt so bad to try to shut off that part of myself that loved you, that couldn’t imagine a life without you. But we had the Rules.” Max sighed a soft breath of air that puffed over Liz’s skin warmly and lay his head back against her shoulder.

“When you were shot and I saved you. I can’t even explain what that was to me Liz. Instant connection. Instant knowledge of you and who you were. And Liz, you were even more beautiful inside than I had ever dreamed of. You have the most pure, loyal heart…Michael and Isabel were freaking out that you knew. But I had faith in you. You would never betray me. It’s not in you. I would never regret revealing myself to you that day because it was right in a way that nothing had ever felt before in my life. And you brought me the world. Literally. You showed me things about myself and living life and being. Does that even make sense?” Max felt her nod of agreement.

“When we were together it was so new and so different that at first it scared me. I started to doubt myself. That I could be good for you. That I could keep you safe. And when I stepped away from you I thought I was doing this noble thing. To give you back a normal life. To give you back everything you gave up by allowing me into your life.”

“I didn’t give up anything. You gave me everything I needed, then and now,” Liz insisted quietly.

“I know that now. It just took me awhile to figure out that life without you was empty and meaningless. When we got back together, that was the happiest time of my life back then. And then…” Max took a breath and forged on, “when I was taken, all I could think about was you. I was guilty that I had put you in danger, and at the same time I hung on to you. Thoughts of you, your gentle touch, the feel of your hair brushing over my skin, your perfect smile, the love in your eyes that you only reserved for me. Me Liz. How is it possible that you could love someone like me? Someone so lost and confused about…everything? I just accepted it. It was a gift and I was never giving it back. And then we learned our ‘destiny’,” Max scoffed at the word. “When you left that day I was completely shattered. How can it be that the answers to all my questions were right in front of me and it still felt so… wrong?”

Max hugged her tightly to him, as if fearing to lose her again.

“I understand why you left. It took awhile to try to get over the initial pain. So much pain that summer. I needed you in a way I never had before. I couldn’t imagine turning to Isabel or Michael, and certainly not Tess, to confide what had happened to me in the White Room. I needed you. I ached for you and prayed for you and made promises that if I would only get you back…” Max broke off, these memories were hard. He didn’t like making Liz feel guilty about leaving him at that time in his life, but if she were ever to understand him…

“You were doing what you thought was best for me and my race. So selfless. I could never have done it. I’m way more selfish that you are. Even then I held onto the hope that I could win you back. I needed that hope like I needed air, because that’s what you were to me. It was hard to breathe without you. I was hollow and empty. I didn’t know how to be anymore if I wasn’t a part of you. When I saw you with Kyle…I can’t even tell you what that did to me. My hope was gone. My worst fear all along was that you’d realize that you needed something more…normal. When I saw what I did, it was like a huge neon sign was winking: ‘I’m Over You Max Evans’. I didn’t handle it very well. I’m so sorry that I ever doubted you. The pain was more than I thought I could bear. I wanted to get away, lash out, hurt you like you hurt me. That’s why I took Tess to New York. Petty, I know. Selfish.” Max shook his head, not liking how he had acted back then.

“I didn’t believe in God. How could I? Here I was, literally an alien on this planet. Dumped here for unknown reasons, hiding my entire life from everyone who ever loved or cared about me. Lying constantly to my parents and friends about everything I was. Denying myself. And then the one thing that gave me hope…gave me a reason to be myself…was just…gone,” Max felt Liz shudder under his cheek. He raised up on one elbow and silently brushed her tears away. Liz was taking in all the raw emotion that was emanating off Max in waves.

“And then there was you again. My precious gift was back. Made for me. Mine. True destiny. And now, because of you, I don’t have to hide from my parents anymore. They actually accepted us for who we were. I can’t even explain how incredible that is. And this,” Max’s hand traveled over her abdomen, “this amazing child will not grow up the way I did. He won’t be ashamed of who he is. He’ll have parents and grandparents and our friends who will love and support him through all the difficulties of growing up different. He will embrace life wholeheartedly. He’ll have friends and guidance and…and…he’ll take this life that has been given him and make it his in a way that I never could growing up.”

Liz’s eyes were streaming tears. Max had so much love inside him, so many hopes and dreams for their son. Her heart ached for the way he was forced to grow up. She regretted the time they had spent apart, but she didn’t feel guilty any longer over it, because Max didn’t blame her. Everything that had come before had resulted in this…this incredible time in their lives that was at once scary and exhilarating. The best and the worst. Pleasure and pain.

“And now…now everything has changed. I used to think that if there was a God then he was needlessly cruel. I had worked all my life to not hurt anyone. To just be, you know? And then all this crap happened and I thought, what’s all this for? What did I do to deserve this? It was easier to believe that there wasn’t anyone up there planning all that then to believe that He just didn’t care about me. But, you know what? If all that didn’t happen then I wouldn’t be right here with you now. We’re having a child, a son, that is you and me together. A boy so special that I would do all of that over again just to have this moment right now with you.” Max’s lips paused to gently brush over Liz’s. She sighed into the kiss and parted her lips to encourage him.

“Did you feel his heartbeat? When I was singing?” Max spoke against her lips, his eyes open to catch her expression.

Tears spilled over again as she nodded. Their joined hands settled over their son again and they reached for him.

Thump thump thump

They smiled behind their kisses and their bodies mingled in a healing embrace.

Part 37

Max and Liz stood in the hallway preparing to face Max’s family for the first time since their hasty exit the night before. Max’s forehead was touching Liz’s, his hands framing her face, hers wrapped around his arms. He looked into her eyes and took a fortifying breath.

“We can do this,” he whispered.

“No problem,” she answered in the same hushed tone.

“It’s not like they don’t know why we had to leave.” Max thought about what he had just said and winced. Maybe not the best idea to bring that up right now.

“Do you think they told your Dad?” Liz was an interesting shade of pink.

“I hope so. I really don’t want to be the one to explain that to him. It was bad enough to have to tell my Mom,” Max’s breath puffed against her face. Liz inhaled and closed her eyes.

Sensing something different in her continual fascination with him, Max asked, “What are you doing?”

Liz’s eyes popped open in surprise and her eyes dropped self-consciously. “You smell so… good,” she said on a laugh.

Max inhaled dramatically and smiled. “I don’t smell anything different. What do I smell like?”

Liz inhaled again, long and slow. Her smile widened. “You smell like cinnamon.”

“What?! You’re kidding!” Max turned his head to smell his arm and then tried the other one.

“Nope, it’s true. My sense of smell must be heightened right now or something. I swear I could smell you even if you left the room,” Liz asserted.

“Ewww…he must smell really bad!” Isabel chuckled as she passed them in the hall. “Are you two coming to breakfast? You must have worked up quite an appetite!” Isabel continued into the kitchen to the sound of Max and Liz’s groans. It was too easy.

“We can do this,” Max repeated.

“We can do this,” Liz affirmed.

They linked hands and walked together into the kitchen.

“Morning kids,” Diane chirped out brightly. She was dishing out the last of the oatmeal and placing it in front of Liz’s spot at the table. Liz looked on in fascination. She had a spot at the table. A warm feeling crept through her as she slipped into her seat beside Max.

“Did you two sleep well?” Phillip looked over the top of the Sunday paper.

“Um, yeah, thanks Dad,” Max answered uncertainly. He looked to his Mom with raised brows to see if she had told him. Diane winked and gave him a nod. Max wasn’t sure if he was relieved or mortified.

“I wanted to talk to both of you this morning,” Phillip put the paper down on the table, folding it neatly. He glanced to Diane and she came to stand behind him, her hand on his shoulder.

Max and Liz looked at each other and then back at his parents, identical expressions of concern mirrored in each other’s eyes.

“It’s nothing bad!” Phillip didn’t like to see the panic on the kid’s faces. “Your mother and I have been thinking about restoring the rooms over the garage. They were supposed to be a mother-in-law apartment, but we’ve always just used the space for storage. Max, I could use your help moving the stuff to a storage unit today, and then your Mom will scrub it down. We wanted you two to have some space to yourselves, now that you’re…married,” Phillip still had a hard time picturing his little boy all grown up and so obviously in love.

“Dad, that’s…that’s fantastic!” Excitement filled his tone and his eyes shone at the possibilities. He squeezed Liz’s hand under the table enthusiastically.

Liz stretched her fingers under his to work out the kinks he had put in. Her smile was a mile wide. “I’d really like to help,” she offered Diane shyly. Diane nodded.

“I could use a hand with the lighter chores, but I don’t want you straining yourself,” Diane accepted.

They ate their breakfast with enthusiasm for the day ahead.

Liz and Diane cleared the table in companionable silence while Isabel left to see Alex.

“I really can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for Max and me,” Liz started. “I don’t know if you realize how much your support means to Max…and me.”

“Honey, I would do anything for Max, and it’s you that he has chosen to love, so you’re my family too. I’ll always be here to do whatever I can,” Diane gave Liz an impulsive hug.

“I’ve been thinking about your work schedule, and how to make sure that you and Max can spend time together every morning and night,” Diane busied herself scrubbing the counters, not looking at Liz.

“I can’t wait to start working! Just tell me when you want me here and I’ll show up!” Liz said with enthusiasm.

“Well I was thinking that you could work here after school Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from four to eight, but you can tell your parents that you have to be here all week from four to nine or so. That gives you and Max a chance to spend some time alone together.”

Liz blushed again at the reference to alone time. She nodded her head. “That’s great. That takes care of the nights, but…” Liz trailed off, not wanting to say more.

“Yeah, I was thinking that you are a really smart student, right?”

Liz nodded, uncertain where this was leading.

“So your parents wouldn’t find it unusual if you had to ‘tutor’ someone at school every morning at six-thirty.” Diane glanced at Liz for a reaction.

Liz had stopped loading the dishwasher and just stood staring at Diane. “You are a genius!”

Diane smiled in satisfaction. “Max will pick you up in the morning and bring you to your apartment.”

“Wow! We have our own place,” Liz wrapped her mind around that idea. A slow grin crept across her face. “I want to see it!”

Diane grabbed her hand and they giggled like school girls as they went out the back door to the outdoor entrance.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Max lifted another heavy box down the stairs to the waiting SUV. He slid it into place and wiped his brow before starting back up the stairs. Their own place! His heart leaped at the thought of setting up house with Liz. This made it more real. He was grinning when he stepped back into the large main room. The apartment consisted of one large room for the kitchen, dining, living area. A door led to a small bathroom with a tub/shower combination, a toilet, and a sink, while another door led to a medium sized bedroom with a window facing the back yard.

Phillip watched his son’s face glow with pleasure as he cleared out more of the boxes.

“You look happy,” Phillip blurted out.

Max looked up in surprise and then down at the floor. He scuffed a shoe along the hardwood floor before nodding his head. “Yeah, I am. Liz does that for me. Everything about her, when we’re together, things are just so intense,” he stated simply.

“I noticed,” Phillip said wryly.

Max looked up sharply to see if his dad meant anything by that comment. Phillip smiled at him and clamped his hand over his son’s shoulder. “I was going to have a talk with you before you got serious about a girl. Tell you how to please a woman, what she expects from a man,” Phillip laughed as his son’s face turned magenta. “Somehow I think you’re doing just fine without me,” Phillip added on a teasing note.

“Dad!” Max couldn’t meet his father’s eyes.

“Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you. Really. It’s just that I’ve never seen this side of you before. Or heard it,” Phillip added under his breath.

“Oh my God! I did not just hear you say that,” Max clapped his hands over his ears and grinned.

“Are you tormenting our son?” Diane asked from the entrance.

Liz crossed the room to Max and he smiled in answer to the question in her eyes. He took her hand and led her around the space that was theirs. Diane and Phillip watched them looking so happy and smiled in satisfaction. They had made the right choice.

Four hours later

Max lay back on the couch in their apartment that had formerly resided in the Evans’ den. Liz lay with her back against his chest cradled in the V of his thighs. Max allowed his hands to wander to her stomach and quietly said ‘hi’ to the baby. The work had gone quickly with the four of them together, and now the place looked ready to live in.

“I’m going to put curtains on the windows over the kitchen sink and in the bedroom,” Liz said, her mind picturing the homey touches that would make the place theirs.

“Good idea. I can change the wall colors if you want,” Max volunteered, looking around at the white walls.

Liz turned in his embrace to nibble on his neck. “You’re a handy one to have around, huh? I knew there was a reason I was keeping you,” she bit down gently on his collar bone.

“You’d better think of more than one reason,” Max spun her around so they were chest to chest, “I plan on being around for a long time!”

“I’m sure I’ll come up with something,” Liz’s hands were busy undoing the buttons that lined his shirt.

Max’s hands moved over Liz’s to still her actions. She glanced up at him curiously, one eyebrow arched in inquiry.

“We have to talk,” Max started.

Liz scooted back a little. That was always an ominous way to begin a conversation, and did not bode well for the listener.

“About what Max?” Liz asked hesitantly.

“I think we should call Michael, Isabel, and Maria to come over here so we can talk about tomorrow,” Max told her.

Liz nodded her head and they went downstairs to use the phone in the kitchen.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^
“I don’t understand you Michael. You seem like you would be such a slob, but your apartment is immaculate,” Maria plopped beside him on his couch.

“What can I say? I’ve got the magic touch,” Michael wriggled his fingers in front of her.

Maria’s eyes widened to saucers. “Do you mean you just,” she waved her hand around in the air, “wish it all away?”

“It’s a little more complicated than that, but yeah, I just…clean,” he waved his hand over the empty cereal bow on the low table in front of him and it sparkled like new.

Maria’s eyebrows drew together. “Is that sanitary?” She questioned with obvious distrust.

“Yes Maria. No one’s died yet from eating off my dishes! Geez, Maria,” Michael rolled his eyes and snorted at her reaction.

They sat for a while in silence and Maria kept sneaking glances at him out of the corner of her eye.

He picked at a fingernail and waited to see how long it would take her to break the silence.

“Why did you want me to come over this morning Michael?” Maria burst out at last.

“What? Oh, well I guess I just wanted to see you,” Michael answered honestly.

“You just wanted to see me,” Maria restated, obviously expecting further illumination.

“Yeah. Is there something wrong with that?” Michael retorted. Couldn’t this girl just accept a simple statement?

“Yeah there is. You never just call because you want to see me. Something’s up, isn’t it? Is it something bad? Are Liz and Max okay?” Maria’s imagination was working overtime on the various scenarios of what could have gone wrong now.

Michael’s hands closed over her shoulders. “Calm down Maria. I just thought that we could get to know each other. You know, talk. You don’t have any inhibitions about talking, do you?”

“No, of course not Michael. It’s just kinda weird is all. So what do you want to know about me?” Maria asked, thinking of the million things she would like to know about him.

“Why do you care about me so much?” Michael asked the question that had been burning in him for a long time.

“What? Why? I don’t know Michael. You’re frustrating and abrasive and way too blunt. You’re rude and obnoxious and you treat me like crap half the time…”

“Gosh, thanks Maria that really clears things up,” Michael leaned away from her on the sofa.

“…but the other half of the time you are incredibly sweet and caring. You make me feel cherished and special. I think that your attitude is just a cover for the person that you really want to be, but can’t. I want to be the one to bring that out in you. I want to see you happy,” Maria finished as if he had never interrupted.

Michael leaned forward again and surprised her with a kiss. “I knew there was a reason that I loved you,” Michael couldn’t believe how close she was to the truth about his gruff exterior. That’s what scared him about falling for her. She was very perceptive, and that had been a danger to him before, when he thought he might have to leave her behind one day.

“I…I’d like to try something,” Michael said hesitantly.

“Okay,” Maria was slightly out of breath from the kiss. Michael really knew how to kiss!

“I want to make a connection. Like Max and Liz have,” Michael slid his fingers through her hair on either side of her face.

Her eyes went wide and she shook her head. “I thought we said we weren’t ready for that yet. I mean, I think you’re a great guy and all, but I’m not ready to carry your baby Michael!” Maria asserted quickly.

“No Maria! I meant like their mental connection. I want you to see me,” Michael’s tone was serious.

“Ohh Michael,” Maria breathed, knowing how hard it was for him to want to connect with someone, to share himself with her.

“Breath,” Michael whispered as he looked into her bright eyes.

The connection bloomed slowly, tentative at first, and then more sure of its direction.

Maria gasped as Michael allowed her access to all the parts of his life that he had kept only for himself, not even sharing with Isabel and Max.

She saw the confused little boy, too afraid to reach out to his friends when they were found wandering in the desert.

The confusion of the child welfare system he had been rudely thrust into and the utter panic at the sight of all the unfamiliar things around him.

The hurt fear as Hank shoved him around.

The mute screams as Hank took off his belt to hit him.

The joy of rediscovering Max and Isabel. The connection they shared.

The acute longing for a family of his own and a place to belong.

The frustrated lust he felt every time he looked at Maria.

The disbelief that she could care about him.

The resolve to stay a stonewall so he wouldn’t allow her too close to him.

The recognition that it was too late, he could never leave her behind.

The sick guilt over taking a human life, however necessary it was.

The panic over what had happened to Liz in Las Vegas, and the guilt that he had not prevented it.

The hurt that Max didn’t include him in the life-altering decisions he had made in Vegas.

His confusion over the connection he now shared with Liz. At once proud to be her protector and scared that he would ever be called upon.

The flood of joy at the realization that Earth was home, now and forever.

The crack in his heart that he had made to let Maria in.

Maria’s hands were on Michael’s face, her thumbs brushing his tears away as the connection slowly ebbed. She closed the distance between them and met his lips with hers. The kiss turned hungry as each absorbed what they had seen from the other. Their mouths mated frantically and hands roamed freely over each other’s bodies. The couch wasn’t big enough and they rolled to the floor, neither particularly noticing the new location.


Maria gasped for breath and looked up at the sound of the phone. Michael ignored it and pulled her down for another hot kiss.


Maria pulled away again and glared at the phone. It was calling to her to pick it up and answer it. It was unnatural to not immediately pick up a ringing phone.

“Leave it,” Michael gasped and tried to pull her down again. Maria scooted off of him and reached for the phone, shooting him an apologetic smile.

“He…hmmmhmm,” Maria cleared her throat and tried again, “Hello?”

“Maria? Is that you?” Max asked.

“Yeah, I’m over at Michael’s. We were…talking,” Maria slapped Michael’s wandering hands away and ignored his smirk as he listened to her side of the conversation. “Did you want to speak with Michael?”

“Actually, we wanted to talk to both of you. Can you guys come over to my place?” Max asked.

“Um, sure. Right now?”

“Yeah. And use the entrance behind the garage. Liz and I have the apartment over the garage now so…”

“You guys moved in together???” Maria squealed with excitement and Michael blocked his ears.

“Um, yeah, sort of. We’re working out a way to make sure Liz can be here as much as possible every day. We’re gonna wait to tell her parents for another couple of months.”

“We’ll be right over,” Maria stated and hung up the phone. She scrambled up and put her shoes on, looking at Michael to check his progress. He stood up slowly and moved closer.

“I take it we’re heading over to Max’s?” Michael drawled, reaching out a hand to caress her shoulder.

Maria moved out of the way, not wanting to be distracted. She stood at the door with her hand on the knob and tapped her foot impatiently.

“Move Michael! I want to go see their new place!”

“And you’re just going to walk out the door like that?” Michael smiled and gestured to her top.

Maria glanced down and blushed to the roots of her hair. She hurriedly did up the first five buttons of her blouse and raised her chin defiantly.

“Move!” Michael moved.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

“Oh Liz! I can’t believe this! You’re all grown up with a place to call your own!” Maria gushed after she had taken the ‘grand tour’. “We should get you guys some candles and some flowers for the little table. Oh and do you have dishes?” She went back in the kitchen and opened all the cupboards. There was already an odd assortment of plates, bowls, and cups.

“Come sit down Maria, Max wants to talk about tomorrow,” Liz watched the enthusiasm die in Maria’s expression replaced by one of grim determination as she remembered what was happening tomorrow.

She went and sat beside Liz, who was curled against Max on the couch. Michael sat across from them on a hard chair from their little kitchen table, and Isabel sat on a small rug on the floor, leaning against the arm of the couch. They all looked at Max expectantly.

“Well, I thought it would be a good idea to go over everything for tomorrow so everyone knows what their part is in this and so it’ll go smoothly,” Max’s hands massaged Liz’s shoulders when he felt her tense.

“Liz is starting her job here at the house tomorrow, so she’ll be in the den working when Tess arrives at four thirty. Liz will meet Maria in the back yard outside my window. Maria, you’ll be the lookout, to make sure no one else is spying on us, and Liz, you’ll watch everything that Tess does to make sure she’s not making me see things.” Maria and Liz nodded.

“When I’ve got what I need from her I’ll suggest we take a ride together out to the pod chamber. I know she’ll go with me. She’ll leap at the chance to be alone with me,” Max cringed at the thought of what Tess wanted to do with him if they were alone together.

“Isabel will follow us out there to back me up in case anything goes wrong,” he tightened his grip on Liz as he felt her tense.

“I’m coming too,” Michael interjected.

“Me too,” Liz added softly, not being able to bear the thought of wondering if Max needed their help.

“No. You’re both staying here.”

Everyone stared at Max and started objecting at the same time.

“Are you crazy? You can’t go out in the desert with just you and Isabel! She could do all sorts of things to your mind out there!” Michael objected the loudest.

Max shook his head. “This is my decision Michael. Liz can’t go…”

“I need to be there for you Max,” Liz pleaded with him.

Max took her face in his hands and made her look at him. “You are too important to me Liz. I couldn’t concentrate on what I have to do if I feel like you or our son might be in danger. Please understand that Liz,” Max’s fear for them vibrated in his tone.

Liz just nodded. Their connection was flaring brightly and his fear was palpable. She wouldn’t do anything that would distract him from his goal. Max sighed in relief and kissed her on the forehead.

“That’s why you’re staying here too Michael,” Max watched his friend, “You need to be here to protect Liz and our son in case anything happens to me.”

This caused another uproar in the room.

“What do you mean if something happens to you? This is too dangerous. We need another plan,” Isabel insisted.

“No. We have to do this now, and now that we know what the Granolith is capable of we need to use it.” Max’s voice was certain.

“What did you mean ‘take care of Liz and our son’? Are you saying you want us to…” Michael stuttered to a stop.

Max looked from Liz’s hurt expression, to Maria’s stunned one. He nodded slowly, looking at Michael.

“Everyone in this room knows how important it is that our son survives. There are thousands of lives out there depending on his growing up and leading the rebellion. It’s bigger than all of us, and we can’t be selfish,” Max stopped, remembering his conversation with Liz that morning. He couldn’t be selfish anymore. He was a father.

“I need to know that if I don’t come back…” Liz shook in his arms, tears streaming down her face, “that you won’t let Liz or the baby die. You need to promise me that you’ll take care of them,” Max’s voice rang with authority.

Michael looked from Max, to Liz huddled in his arms, and finally to Maria. Maria stared back at him, fighting her urge to write her name on his forehead and she nodded at him slowly.

“I promise,” he said simply. “But you’d better get your butt back here and do it yourself! There are people here on Earth that are depending on us,” he couldn’t resist adding.

“It is my complete intention to come back here to all of you,” Max smoothed his fingers through Liz’s soft hair and felt her tears soak into the soft fabric of his shirt.

“Are you up for this Iz?” Max questioned seriously.

“I’ll back you up Max. Tess won’t be a threat after tomorrow,” Isabel’s voice rang with certainty and her eyes flashed fire. She had a score to settle.

“We have a plan then,” Max sat back and closed his eyes, envisioning what the new day would bring.

Part 38

Monday morning 4:17am

Max moved restlessly in his sleep. His head tossed sideways on his pillow, his blankets were bunched in his fists. The chords of his neck strained as he screamed in his nightmare, but only a muffled sob escaped his lips. His forehead beaded with sweat and his mouth worked soundlessly.

Diane sat slumped on a chair in Max’s room. She had anticipated his nightmares returning without Liz there to comfort him and so she had slipped into his room silently just after midnight. It had been her full intention to watch over him all night, but the soft regular sounds of Max breath had lulled her unwillingly to sleep at little after three a.m..

Max bolted upright in his bed, breathing hard and stood up immediately, running his shaking hands through his sleep matted hair. He leaned over and rested his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath.

Diane woke with a start to see her son in distress and was just about to make her presence known when the phone rang loudly in the silent house.

Max reached across quickly to his nightstand and snatched up the receiver.

“Liz,” he panted into the phone, knowing it was her. Diane could only hear his end of the conversation.

“I’m sorry I woke you…I know that I can’t control it but I wish it didn’t affect you…Me either,” said of a sigh of relief as he sat back on his bed, his breathing instantly calmer at his connection to Liz. “I love you too….Yeah, I’ll be there by six-thirty….Okay, are you sure?….Six o’clock then….I can’t wait to hold you, touch you…I need you Liz,” the longing rang through Max’s tone and Diane began to feel like she was intruding on something intensely personal. She stood up and cleared her throat to let Max know she was there. The effect was immediate and shocking.

Max gasped out loud and whirled in place, dropping the phone and raised his arm toward the intruder. A vivid green shield immediately divided the room from wall to wall between him and the danger. Wild panic leaped from Max’s eyes, the nightmare too fresh and vivid for him to realize who he was protecting himself from right away.

Diane let out a startled cry and shielded her face with her arms instinctively, not knowing what would happen next.

“Max?? MAX!!! What’s going on?” Liz’s voice could barely be heard over the harsh panting of Max’s breath, but it was enough to bring him back to reason. He took a closer look at the now huddled form of his mother and dropped the shield immediately. He closed the distance between them swiftly and pulled her to her feet. He wrapped his arms around her and started apologizing.

“Mom! I am so sorry! I didn’t realize…I just had a bad dream, and…I would never hurt you!” Max pulled back, dreading the look that would be in his mother’s eyes. He never wanted her to fear him. He would never bring her harm.

“Max! I know you would never hurt me! I’m sorry I startled you, I just wanted you to know I was here before you said anything too private to Liz,” Diane reassured him quickly.

“Liz!” Max ran back and picked up the phone. “Liz? Oh Liz, I’m sorry about that…My Mom…Yeah, she startled me and I…No, don’t worry, everything’s fine now….Yeah, I’ll see you in a little bit….Love you too. Bye.” Max said softly and hung up the phone. He turned back to his mother.

“Did the phone wake you? Liz and I are so connected now that my nightmare woke her up. She was just calling to make sure I was all right,” Max explained.

“The phone? No, I heard you and I thought that maybe you were having a bad dream, or anxiety about everything that’s going to happen today, so I thought I’d check on you,” Diane blurted out. She didn’t think her son would appreciate her staying up all night watching over him, and he didn’t know that she knew about his regular nightmares.

“I must have been yelling in my sleep,” Max scratched the back of his neck, looking at the floor nervously. What had he said? He glanced back up to see if she looked suspicious. She gazed back at him steadily and sat of his bed, patting the place beside her. Max sat down and Diane gave him a huge hug. She knew that his only real comfort was Liz, but maybe she could substitute for today. Max allowed himself to be comforted for a moment, hugging her back and then pulled away self-consciously.

“You should go back to bed Mom. I’m just going to go for a run and then shower before I pick up Liz,” Max stood and pulled on jogging shorts over his boxers and a sweatshirt over his T-shirt. He popped his head out of the neck of the shirt and glanced at his mother. She looked tired, but determined.

“Max, you can talk to me about anything. Is there anything you want to tell me about these nightmares you’ve been having?” Diane tried to inject her voice with comforting calm.

Max was startled by her question. She had known that he’d had nightmares? What else did she know about? He shook his head in a gesture of confusion. It was too early to have to deal with this.

“Mom I….I don’t think…” Max swung his head toward the door as it opened suddenly.

Phillip poked his head in and found his wife and Max.

“Everything okay? I heard the phone,” Phillip asked the two.

“Yeah, Dad. Everything’s good. That was just Liz, checking on me. She knew I was awake and worried so…We’re fine. Mom you should go back to bed,” Max hoped she would take the hint. He couldn’t tell her anything right now.

Diane watched the curtain fall over her son’s eyes and her shoulders slumped in temporary defeat. She met Phillip at the door and blew Max a kiss over her shoulder. “Be careful on your run son,” she advised as she closed his door behind them.

Max sat on the bed and rested his head in his hands. Breathe, he commanded himself. The adrenaline from his nightmare and then the scare by his mom was rushing through his system. He got up and searched for his running shoes, finding one by his hamper and the other under the bed. He tied the laces and crawled out his window out of habit. He glanced back in at his room one more time. That was the last night he would spend in his old room. After the meeting today with Tess he planned to move all his things up to the garage apartment. He crossed the darkened backyard and out to the sidewalk where he began to run.

6 a.m.

Max pulled his Jeep to a halt in back of the Crashdown and was immediately greeted with the sight of Liz running across the darkened alley to hop in the passenger side. He pulled her in close for a deep kiss that left her breathless and smiling. She pulled back and looked over his strong features, searching his eyes to see if he was okay. The connection and the reassurance of his physical well-being satisfied her that he was back on an even keel. She sat back as Max shifted the Jeep in gear and rushed back to his house.

“How did your parents take the ‘tutoring’ idea?” Max asked with a sideways glance at Liz. She smiled softly at him before answering. She couldn’t stop looking at him! It felt like they had been parted for days, and not just hours. After waking with him practically every morning for a week it seemed unnatural not to rest cuddled in his arms. Her fingers twined more tightly with his, unconsciously not wanting to let him go again.

“Um…they thought that I might be taking on too much with the new job from four to nine at night, every night, but I told them it was something I really wanted to do,” Liz’s soft laugh rolled out to him happily. A small grin tugged at his lips.

“So you really want to do it, huh?” Max couldn’t resist teasing.

Liz licked her lips, watching the play of emotions on Max’s face before nodding her head. “Yeah, I really do,” she said, her voice husky with intent.

Max took a deep breath and pulled into his driveway. Taking her hand he let her around to the back entrance to their apartment and led her up the stairs. Opening the door, he waved a hand and candles flamed to life from every available surface. Liz gasped out loud and turned her shining dark eyes to Max.

“It’s beautiful. Perfect!”

Max ducked his head, pleased by her pleasure. “I know you like candles,” he said softly.

“I like you better,” she returned boldly and placed her hands inside his jacket to slip it over his arms. Next, she tugged at the hem of his T-shirt and pulled it over his head. Her hands worked busily to shed him of the rest of his clothes and soon he stood before her, magnificently naked and aroused, his body bathed in candlelight that made gorgeous shadows over his well-defined muscles. Liz moved closer and inhaled his scent deeply. “Mmmm…I love how you smell!” She darted her tongue out and lapped at his nipple, causing a pleasured gasp to escape him. She allowed her hands and mouth to roam freely over his torso until finally he took her by the arms and walked backward with her over to their sofa. He sat down and placed her between his knees. Her jacket fell to the floor soundlessly, followed by her blouse and bra. She gasped in a ragged breath as his mouth closed over her nipple. His tongue circled delicately before he sucked it deeply within his mouth. The nipple popped out again, rigid and aroused. He turned his attention to the other one and suckled until she was gasping for air, her hands holding his head to her.

His hands moved to the button of her jeans and the silence was broken by the slow slide of the zipper. He dipped his fingers into the waistband and drew down her jeans and underwear together, leaving her as naked as him. Liz leaned forward over him and took his mouth in a kiss that told him how much she had missed him in their hours apart. She kept her forward motion until he was fully reclined on the sofa and she was lying on top of him. Her hips moved over him in an instinctual gesture of longing. Max’s hip’s echoed her movements. They continued to arouse and tease each other to greater pleasure until they couldn’t stand not completing the act.

Max slid into her warm cavern with a sense of coming home. Liz moaned loudly at the completion and began to move over him. Max’s hand massaged over her hardened nipples, gently plucking and rolling them in the way that caused a sexy groan. Her sounds of pleasure heightened his own and his hands sought out all the sensitive points on her body that he could reach.

Liz cried out her release and Max continued on, building the friction, stoking the fire for a new explosion. Liz’s thighs trembled with her efforts to quicken her movements. She took him in long, hard strokes, designed to give him the maximum pleasure she could. Max took her hips in his hands to help her movements and they crested together moments later.

Liz collapsed, gasping against Max’s chest. She could hear his rapid heartbeat drumming in her ear. Turning her head, she brushed her lips over his heart and then rested her head on him again.

Max’s arms were wrapped around her and they shared a quiet, peaceful moment. At last they sat up together and talked in hushed tones about what lay ahead.

“Are you ready?”

“Yeah, I think so. As long as I know you and the baby are safe…”

“Max, are you sure? Michael should come with you…”

“No Liz. You know why he has to stay with you.”

“I don’t think… I could never be with Michael.”

Max kissed her forehead. “You won’t have to be. I’ll always come back for you.”

Liz breathed in his scent again and nodded.

“What if we…” Liz trailed off as an idea formed in her head.


“I just thought of this. I don’t know why we hadn’t thought of it before. What if you and I kept a conscious connection while you’re in with Tess? You can use my power to see through her visions because you’d be connected with me. We’ve already proven that you don’t need to be touching me to see what I see as long as we’re fully connected.” Liz’s voice rose in breathless excitement. Maybe this was a way she could help without endangering herself or their son.

Max thought through what she was saying. He wanted to cover all the angles before be agreed to anything. Liz held her breath, waiting for his verdict.

At last he nodded. “I think that might work. If I think she senses anything off though I’ll break the connection myself,” he warned.

Liz nodded and lay her head back on his chest, a small smile playing over her lips. She would be a part of this after all.

4:00 p.m.

Max and Liz got dressed in their apartment slowly. They lingered over each garment and watched each other’s every movement. They knew that everyone would soon be knocking on their door for final instructions. Liz smoothed the pretty new comforter over their new queen sized bed. Diane had been very busy while they were in school that day using her nervous energy to purchase furnishings and linens to be delivered that afternoon to welcome Max and Liz to their new home. They had put the bed to use right away, coming together almost desperately, cherishing every touch, every glance, as if it would be their last.

A knock sounded on the door and Max hugged Liz close before turning to allow Michael, Maria, Isabel, Phillip, and Diane into their apartment.

They sat around the living area and reaffirmed each person’s part in the plan.

4:32 p.m.

The doorbell rang loudly through the house causing everyone within to stiffen their posture and take a fortifying breath.

Max opened the door and smiled welcomingly to Tess. She smiled back as she stepped over the threshold.

“You look good Max,” Tess complimented, looking over his form-fitting sweater and jeans that molded to his muscular thighs. He had chosen them for comfort and ease of movement, but now she made him feel naked. She nodded her approval and moved past him into the house. Max took a deep breath and turned to face her.

“Thanks. You look nice too,” he told her, praying that it came out sincerely.

She preened happily, flipping her hair back and glancing at him coyly. Max tried not to retch.

“Maybe we should just uh…” Max gestured to the hall toward his room.

“Yeah, let’s go to your room Max,” Tess purred, she took his arm and led him away.

“Hello Tess,” Diane greeted from the doorway to the den.

Tess turned, startled and disappointed that they weren’t alone in the house.

“Hello Mrs. Evans. Working from home today?” She struggled to remain polite.

“Yes. Phillip and I both are. Are you two going to study?”

Tess tried not to let her frustration show. “Yeah. We’ve got a big project to work on so…”

“Oh. Well, don’t let me keep you,” Diane went back into the den, leaving the door open.

“You didn’t tell me your parents would be here,” Tess hissed.

“I didn’t know until this afternoon. Will that be a problem?” Max asked innocently. They had all agreed that Tess would be less likely to pull her tricks if she had a larger audience to fool.

“No. I guess not.” Tess was busily rearranging her plans for Max. She had hoped to seduce him into bed with her, but with his parents in the house she would have to wait for a better opportunity to be alone with him. She could still do it, but she didn’t want to divide her attentions between warping Max and his parents. She wanted to remember this for a long time to come.

Max opened the door to his room and stepped in. He pulled a chair over by the bed and gestured for her to sit on the bed in front of him while he took the chair. He knew that by this time Maria was watching for trespassers in the back yard and Michael and Isabel were waiting in the front. Liz was crouched right outside his window and Max could feel the fear and excitement through their open connection. Be careful Max! Tess took her seat with her back to the window.

“So where should we begin?” Max started.

“Well…I thought we could start with a connection for the memory retrieval. Take my hands, and breathe deeply. Look into my eyes and think about where we come from, what we know about ourselves. Feel the emotions you felt for me then, remember back…” Tess voice droned on hypnotically. Through Liz, Max knew that Tess wasn’t trying anything funny yet. He reached out slowly to take Tess’ hands and allowed a limited connection. He followed along with her suggestions for a few minutes until he felt her fall deeper into the Antarian memories. He removed a part of his mind, as he had practiced with Liz and began probing gently for memories from Tess.

Rapidly he moved through sequences of her life that he would process later. Her upbringing appalled him. So cold and emotionless. He felt a momentary pang that she had never really had a choice of who she would become. Her fate had been sealed the moment she was created.

He came across many new tricks and things that would aid them in the future. He also saw scenes of her use of Alex that sickened him and strengthened his resolve for what needed to be done this day. He probed deeper for clues that might help him in his fight here on Earth. He wanted to know if she was in league with the skins and what they planned next. He saw her in deep conversation with Nicholas. They were plotting her triumphant return to Antar, carrying Max’s child and marrying Khivar. He felt her smug satisfaction that she had outsmarted all of these stupid humans and aliens on Earth. She would go back triumphant to rule with her chosen king as she had wanted all along when she had plotted against them on Antar.

He moved his full attention back to Tess as he heard her asking him a question.

“…anything Max?” He caught just the end of her question.

“What? No, sorry. I don’t think I can really concentrate with everyone here, you know?” He answered with practiced ease. He had rehearsed that line several times in his mind already. “Would you mind if maybe we just go out to the pod chamber? No one will disturb us there.” Max almost smiled at the eagerness that lit her face before she carefully schooled her expression back into a casual acceptance.

“Sure, if you think that’ll help you, I mean,” she voiced huskily. She couldn’t believe her good fortune! Her plan was going into action today after all!

They got up and went out to the Jeep.

Come back to me! Liz sent out, filling her thoughts with confidence and love.

Always! Max answered before he started up the Jeep and took off down the road.

Part 39

5:47 p.m.

Liz watched the Jeep round the corner at the end of the street and was glad to feel strong arms wrap around her. Her legs were shaking and her fear threatened to swamp her. She leaned back against his chest and let her head fall back onto his shoulder. Her eyes were determined, but her hands were trembling with the force of the control she was exerting as she tried to hold back her terror. She didn’t want Max to feel it through the link they maintained, and knew he would work better if he wasn’t worried about her. Her eyes met Michael’s and she knew instantly that he was feeling helpless and left behind. Michael was a doer, not a sitter, but he had told his king he would protect Liz. His hands linked in front of her, low on her abdomen, reminding them both what was at stake. She rested her hands over his and stared blindly at the deserted road.

Maria watched from several paces away. The sight of Michael and Liz together pulled her in so many directions that she couldn’t pick an emotion to express how she felt about it. She was scared, proud, and jealous as all hell. She moved closer and ran a comforting hand down Liz’s arm so she could feel a part of the tableau. As she began to pull away, Liz reached out and caught her hand, pulling her in for a hug. Liz held on tight and Michael wrapped his arms around them both.

“He’s scared,” Liz whispered.

Michael led them into the house.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

“I think it was a great idea to go out to the desert alone,” Tess chattered as they sped down the road. Her left hand trailed up his arm, settling on his shoulder as she tried to catch his eye.

“Um, yeah. More private. I think I’ll be able to concentrate better,” Max was feeling the strain of maintaining a polite façade around Tess. And if she didn’t stop touching him soon he was going to hit her, he thought as his body shuddered in revulsion. He shook the thought out of his head and took a deep breath before turning to try to smile at her.

Tess’ smile widened until all her teeth were showing as the satisfaction of feeling his shudder of desire ran through her. This would go easier than she had ever thought. Max was so weak! She’d make sure he didn’t even remember Liz Parker’s name! She began a massage of the tight muscles in Max’s arm thinking how they would soon be wrapped around her.

Max began to worry that she would sense his connection to Liz if they continued the physical contact.

“Could you look in my glove box for some music?” He blurted out. She needed to stop touching him!

“Oh…sure Max,” Tess reluctantly released him and opened the glove box. She rooted through it for a few minutes before she found a Gomez cd. Max almost groaned as she started it playing. He didn’t want to associate Tess with Gomez. At least the volume of the music precluded further conversation. The wind began to pick up as they drove further into the desert the sand dancing in low whirls on the ground and across the road.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

“He’ll be fine,” Maria reassured her. “It’s Max! That hussy doesn’t stand a chance! And with Isabel there to back him up? I mean, come on!”

“Yeah. You’re right Maria. He’s coming home in an hour or two and we can be together without worrying from now on. Right?” Liz needed to hear it again. Maria hugged her tighter and solidly agreed.

Michael sat across from them, staring out the window and allowing his knee to bounce in a nervous release of energy.

“What are they doing right now?” He blurted out suddenly, leaning forward to peer at Liz.

Liz stared back at him, but her eyes were turned inward.

“He’s driving. He feels really disgusted by the entire situation. I think, I think she’s touching him or…no she was, but he distracted her with music. They’re listening to Gomez. They’re almost there.” Liz sent Max a wave of reassurance.

“Almost there,” Michael repeated. He leaned back and his knee started bouncing again.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Max parked the Jeep and hopped out, immediately heading up the trail to the cave entrance. Tess jumped out and scrambled to catch up with him, her canvas purse bumping her hip as she hurried. He sure was eager to be alone with her! She caught up and grabbed his hand so he would slow down for her.

Fear rolled over Max in a suffocating wave as he worried that she would sense Liz through the connection. He tugged his hand free and severed the connection with Liz. He couldn’t put her in danger.

Tess gave him an odd look. She had felt strong emotions pouring off of him, but it was obvious he didn’t want her to know. Maybe he was nervous about his first time. She’d help him over that.

The cave door rumbled open and they both walked inside. Max led the way further back into the cave toward the Granolith chamber.

“Max? Aren’t you going to close the door?” Tess waved back toward the gaping entrance.

“No. I thought we could leave it open. Fresh air, you know?” Max responded quickly.

Tess arched a brow. Oh well, at least they were the only ones here. The only other people that would ever come out this far were Michael and Isabel, and they’d told her today that Michael had to work and Isabel was spending the day at a friends house.

She ducked through the entrance to the large Granolith chamber and watched Max staring at it. He looked transfixed. She moved in closer and touched his arm. She immediately warped him into thinking she was the hottest girl on the planet. She sent his brain the message that he wanted her and only her and that he needed to possess her now. She moved so that she was directly in front of him and boldly ran her hands up his muscled chest.

Max looked down at her in confusion. Something was not right. He shook his head and tried to think, licking his suddenly dry lips. He had something to do here. Think! He was distracted by Tess’ hands as they traveled over his chest. His breathing hitched and she put her hands behind his neck to pull his lips down to hers.

Tess’ fingers snagged in the cord of the necklace Max had worn for almost a week now. She followed the cord around to pull the stone out from where it had hidden just under his collar. Her eyes widened as she took in the alienness of the bauble. She touched her finger to it and was instantly shocked by the force of a strong electrical current and thrown back to land on her butt several feet away. Tess gasped, her eyes widening in horror. She scrambled awkwardly to her feet and backed away further, until the wall of the chamber stopped her progress.

It was impossible! Her mind wanted to reject the flash she had received when she had dared to touch the stone. Max and Liz and a…a… baby? A son! That was supposed to be her son! Her eyes shone with rage and her fingers curled into claws as she advance toward Max. She would kill him herself and then take the baby from Liz! A growl forced its way out of her throat.

Max was instantly jolted back to himself when Tess touched the communication stone. He watched her recoil in horror and then moved into action when he saw the murderous glint in her eyes. It was too soon! His mind screamed at him. There was no way that Isabel had made it into the chamber yet!

“You lying bastard! You’ve been with Liz this whole time! You think you’re going to get away with making a fool of me? You’re going to pay for this and then I’m going to make Liz pay. She’s never going to see her son!” Tess’ eyes narrowed as she tried to focus her rage enough to unleash a mind-shattering warp on Max.

Max moved closer to the Granolith and slapped his hand on it. He kept his eyes on Tess watching her concentrating her powers. He focused inward and channeled the power of the Granolith into himself as Alex’s research had shown him. The Granolith began to glow with a blue-white light that steadily got stronger.

Tess unleashed a monstrous blast at him, fully expecting him to crumple into a heap on the ground. The blast made Max stagger back a step, but he didn’t release his hold on the Granolith and the light flared brightly as it absorbed the shock and channeled the power back into Max.

Max felt the hair all over his body rise as the power rushed into him. His pupils dilated to cover his iris’s causing his eyes to appear black and alien. His lips began the chant that would trigger the power outward to his target.

“ Jihadima aracma jarindafe dai,” he chanted the words steadily. The Antarian words rolled from his tongue as if born to him. My enemy cannot defeat me.

Tess recoiled in horror as the realization of what Max was doing rolled over her. She scrambled back again pulling at her canvas purse, her hands shook so bad that she spilled half the contents in search of what she needed.

“Max!” Isabel rushed in to find the Granolith glowing with an unholy light. She ran behind him and placed her hand close to his. She pulled in the power as fast as she could and chanted with Max.

“ Jihadima aracma jarindafe dai!” Their voices rose together and echoed in the stone chamber.

Tess’ stubby fingers wrapped around the object she had been searching for and she pulled it forth triumphantly. The device was larger than her hand, but compact. Nacedo had provided it to her in the event she would need to kill her fellow podsters before they headed back to their planet. The device rose off her palms as the energy pulsed through it. It darted forward, exploding with light just before Max and Isabel hurled the killing force of the Granolith directly at Tess.

The energy whipped through the room, stirring clouds of dust up from the stone floor and blinding them with light. The walls of the chamber shook and loose rocks tumbled around them.

Max heard Tess cry out in terror and watched her fall to the ground writhing in pain. Max’s knees crumpled underneath him and he went down hard, surprise careening through every fiber of his being. The chamber went black and the last thing he heard was Isabel thudding to the ground behind him.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

“ He’s gone!” Liz gasped out in terror. The emptiness inside her mind echoed mockingly back at her. She had felt when he had consciously removed their purposeful connection. She’d even understood it, but she had still retained a sense of Max. It was a much a part of her as their son. Now that connection was just… gone. She turned hollow eyes toward the sound of Maria’s voice and found her legs would no longer support her. The room went black as she fell.

Michael leaped forward to catch Liz in his arms before she hit the ground. He lay her on the couch and stared at the frightened faces of Maria, Diane, and Phillip.

“What should we do Michael?” Maria’s voice came out high pitched and scared.

“I don’t…I…We need to go to him!” Michael rasped out, torn between his promise to take care of Liz and his duty to his king.

Phillip was already grabbing his car keys. “I’ll go out there myself. You all stay here.” He rushed to the door before realizing he didn’t really know where he was going.

“Where?” He turned helplessly.

Michael grabbed Phillip’s head at the temples and concentrated on the location. He stared into his eyes and willed him to know where to go.

Phillip nodded. “I’ve got it!” He ran out the door and left it swinging open behind him.

Diane wrung her hands and tears streamed down her face. Her entire family was in jeopardy. How could it all have gone so wrong? She knelt before the sofa and began chafing Liz’s cold hands between hers. Liz moaned and turned her head restlessly before her eyes opened. Realization swept freshly through her and the tears rained over her face.

Two hours later

Michael sat in the overstuffed chair in the living room holding Maria tightly to him. They both watched Liz rocking herself back and forth on the couch. Her arms were wrapped around herself and she was humming Creed’s ‘With Arms Wide Open’ under her breath over and over. She would not let anyone touch her.

“I don’t know what to do! There has to be a way to help her!” Maria wailed in despair.

Michael shook his head. Liz wouldn’t listen to anyone right now and when they went anywhere near her she freaked out screaming for them to get back, stay away from her! Diane had tried to call Phillip’s cell phone to find out what was going on, but when she dialed it the phone rang from the table in the entry. Phillip had forgotten it in his rush to aid his children.

Now all they could do was wait.


Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
-Robert Frost
posted on 31-Aug-2001 2:18:29 PM
Part 40

It started just before five in the morning. Liz’s sleeping form began to toss restlessly on the couch, her eyes moving behind the lids, hands pushing her hair back from her flushed face. She moaned softly under her breath.

The sound of a quiet moan woke Michael instantly from a light doze he had fallen into on the floor. He was vaguely surprised that they had fallen asleep at all, but all those hours of nervous, tense waiting had taken their toll and everyone had fallen asleep where they sat. He sat up carefully, trying not to wake Maria, and shifted her head gently from his lap to a throw pillow on the carpet. Maria adjusted her position and opened her eyes slowly, slightly disoriented. She blinked her eyes to clear them from sleep and sat up also. Her eyes fell on Michael who was crouching on the floor in front of the couch, staring at Liz. His eyes were wild when he glanced back at Maria.

“Oh no!” Maria breathed softy. Understanding flashed between them.

“What are we going to do?” Michael implored her, needing an answer.

“You’re not affected yet?” Maria questioned as she crawled across the floor toward Michael.

Michael assessed his own condition. He was warm, but not fevered. Probably just from anxiety. Yeah. That had to be it.

“I’m fine, so far,” he told her, not looking fine.

“Okay, that means that it’s just started. You don’t get affected until a half hour, forty-five minutes after Max and Liz, right?”

“Yeah, I think. We don’t know how this works!” Michael sounded desperate.

“Mr. Evans should be back anytime now from the desert. I’m sure he’ll bring them back.” Maria tried to interject a positive note into her voice, inwardly praying that she was right.

“It’s already been too long! What are we gonna do?” Michael asked again, gently brushing Liz’s hair away from her face again.

“We are not going to panic. This only gets worse, right?” Maria motioned toward Liz.

“Yeah, the last time she fainted before I put her in the bathtub. Do you think she needs a bath?” Michael stood, ready to scoop Liz into his arms and carry her to the tub.

Maria reached out a restraining arm and held Michael back.

“Maybe we should hold off on that for a while. I’ll go into the kitchen to get an ice pack and we’ll try to keep her cool from here. We have twenty-four hours, right? That’s a lot of time, I know Max would never leave her alone longer than that, no matter what’s happening to him.”

“Is it twenty-four hours from the fever starting, or twenty-four hours between baby feedings?” Michael’s hair was a wreck from raking his fingers through it nervously.

“I…I thought they said from the fever starting. I don’t remember!” Maria started to panic.

“You didn’t see her the last time. She was in really bad shape, and she’d only been fevered for maybe three hours tops,” Michael couldn’t take his eyes off Liz’s restless form.

“Max,” Liz moaned, turning her head as if searching for him.

“Shhh…It’s okay, it’s alright,” Michael dropped to his knees to murmur in her ear, stroking her hair gently. Maria was shocked by the tenderness in his voice and touch. This was a new side of Michael. Liz quieted under his care, her body momentarily still.

“I’ll go get the ice pack,” Maria bolted from the room, conflicting emotions roiling through her. It was stupid to be jealous of the way Michael touched and soothed Liz. Liz was obviously in need of his comfort right now and she was grateful that Michael could give it to her. She was. Really. It was just strange that he could barely bring himself to show that side of himself to her. Maybe it was time to have another talk with him. He’d said he wanted her to know the real Michael. Inside. She desperately wanted to feel that closer connection with him again. Her hands shook as she dropped ice into a plastic bag and wrapped it in a towel.

Returning to the living room she stopped in the doorway, frozen by the sight of Michael sitting on the couch, cradling Liz in his arms. Michael’s eyes met hers across the room, and she shivered at the fevered gleam she saw in them. She shook herself free of doubts and misgivings and raced across the room with the ice.

“I’ll get another ice pack,” she said hurriedly. She shoved the pack she was holding into Michael’s outstretched palm and ran back to the kitchen to prepare another one. Her thoughts raced. As she delivered the second ice pack to a grateful Michael she bolted up the stairs to find Mrs. Evans. This was going to be a rough morning, and she needed the support.

Thirteen hours later…6:07 p.m.

“Ma..Max?” Isabel croaked out, her voice raspy as she reached out a hand without opening her eyes, sweeping it across the ground in front of her. Something was wrong, very wrong, and all she could think of was Max. Something had happened with…

“Oh my God! Max! Max?” Isabel sat up abruptly, trying to gain her feet. She fell back again, dizzy and awkward and stayed on her hands and knees, searching for Max. Her eyes swept over the rough stone floor and landed on her brother, lying crumpled on the floor across the cavern.

“Max?” Isabel crawled across the cavern to get to him, not yet trusting her balance. Reaching him, she pulled him over until he was on his back, her hands slipping on his sweat-soaked skin. His eyes remained closed, but his lips were moving soundlessly. She leaned in closer, trying to make out what he was saying. He was so hot!

“Liz…Liz…Liz…” Max kept mouthing over and over, no sound escaping his lips.

No! This was the worst possible timing. Max was in heat again over Liz! They had to get out of here and get him to her or…no; that did not bear thinking about. Pulling in a huge, fortifying breath Isabel pulled Max’s head into her lap. She slapped his cheeks lightly, talking to him constantly, trying to pull him out of the stupor he was in. “Come on Max! Wake up. Please wake up.” Isabel began rocking him in her lap while silent tears dripped down her face onto his still form. After fifteen minutes, he still had not roused.

Isabel’s brain started working again, clearing from the fog of shock that had engulfed her. Gotta get Max out of here. Gotta get him to the door. Isabel, very gently and very carefully, laid Max’s head back onto the cold stone floor. She scooted back and used the cave wall to support her awkward steps to the cave entrance. She stared at the closed door in confusion. She knew she had left it open after she came in. She reached up and placed her palm over the hand mark that began glowing on the wall and was blinded by the light of day as the door slid open. Her arm went up to shield her eyes and she thought she saw the shadow of movement back lit by the blinding sun.

“Isabel! Thank God you’re okay! I couldn’t get in! I…I tried, but I couldn’t…” Phillip ran through the entrance and swept her into his arms as soon as it had widened enough. He ran him hands over her back, checking for injuries and then held her away from him. “Where’s Max?” He questioned grimly.

Isabel’s tear streaked face collapsed into new sobs as she hugged her father one more time. She quickly grabbed his hand and led him back to Max.

“You have to help him Daddy,” Isabel sobbed.

“Oh my G…Max!” Phillip couldn’t believe that his strong son, who was never sick, could look so helpless and…broken.

Phillip leaned down and pulled his son into his arms, shocked by the heat that was pouring off of him. “Max! Max? Wake up son!” Phillip reached around to cradle him into his arms like a child. He staggered as he stood with Max in his arms and led the way out of the dark cave.

As he lay Max in the car across the back seat Max began to moan and his eyes flickered open, squinting in the light. He glanced around vaguely, looking for something. “Liz?”

Isabel cried again at the desperate, lost tone in Max’s voice, shuddering in relief that he was conscious.

“We’re going to her now Max. Just hang on okay?” Isabel crowded into the back of the car, on the floor in front of the seat he lay sprawled on.

“Where is she Iz? She needs me,” Max’s husky voice was desperate and his eyes begged her to find Liz for him.

“She’s at our house Max. I’ll get you there as fast as I can,” Phillip said as he got into the car and started the engine.

Max struggled to sit. A wave of dizziness washed over him and he slumped sideways in his seat. Isabel reached out to straighten the drunken angle of his posture and tried to summon any energy that she could to try to transfer it to him.

“Max. Max!” Max’s eyes swung to Isabel at her imperious tone. “Can you try to heal yourself?”

“So hot, Iz. I’m so hot. She needs me Iz. They need me. I have to be with her now.” Sweat dripped down his face and he couldn’t summon the energy to move his hands to wipe it away. He hung on to Isabel’s arms for balance as the car swayed into motion.

“Max! You have to focus! You have to try! Can you heal yourself?” Isabel was desperate. Max had taken the brunt of the blast that was meant to kill them both.

“I…don’t…don’t know Iz,” Max’s voice was weak and his head fell back onto the car seat.

“Max! Don’t pass out again okay? Liz needs you to stay strong!” She didn’t even feel guilty using Liz’s name to goad him into cooperation when she saw Max struggle to open his eyes again. He needed to stay conscious so that he could heal the injuries that Tess had inflicted on him.

“Look at me. Look at me Max!” Max swung his eyes toward Isabel with a great effort.

“Good! Okay, try to feel the energy I’m going to give you okay?” Isabel held both his arms in hers and concentrated. It was very difficult, the damage she had sustained had weakened her considerably, but Max needed this more than she did.

Max took a heaving breath as he felt the raw energy permeating his being. It flowed around him, shoring up the weak spots. He rallied some until he realized what it was doing to Isabel. He pushed her hands off of him and sat up weakly on his own.

“Isabel, you have to stop! We need you too!” Isabel lay her head in his lap, barely conscious after what she had done.

Max rested his hand in her hair and lay his head back again, closing his eyes. I’m coming Liz!

Back at the Evans house

“She’s getting so much worse!” Maria exclaimed worriedly. They had moved her up to their apartment and she had calmed slightly as his scent surrounded her on their new bed as she buried her face in his pillow. Michael huddled across the room in a chair, miserable and sweating and unable to move his eyes from Liz. His wretched expression clearly revealed his inner battle to fight his urge to be with Liz. They could wait awhile longer. They could. Michael shuddered harder, clamping his teeth in concentration.

Liz lay unmoving now on the bed, covered in sweat. They had removed most of her clothes to make her as comfortable as possible and she lay on top of the sheets in only her bra and underwear. She writhed on the bed in pain occasionally, turning her head back and forth in search of something that wasn’t there.

Diane sat beside Liz, brushing her hair back and cooling her body with a cold washcloth. She was past crying, beyond worried. If Liz and this child died she knew her son could not go on. She prayed he was still alive to… No! She couldn’t allow herself to doubt right now. Her children were strong and they were coming back to her any minute!

Liz struggled to sit, barely able to open her eyes. She inhaled strongly as if attempting to scent something in the air. She moved closer to Diane taking a breath and her brow furrowed in a dissatisfied grimace. She crawled across the bed to Maria and inhaled again. Same reaction. Her eyes lit on Michael across the room and she struggled off the bed.

“Liz, honey! You shouldn’t try to move,” Maria was pushed aside as Liz staggered over to Michael. She breathed him in and sighed in satisfaction, crawling into his lap. She curled up there and rested her head under his chin. Michael’s arms encircled her naturally, both getting what they needed for that one moment in time.

Maria’s eyes couldn’t let go of the sight before her. Michael wrapped around Liz like she belonged in his arms. Liz taking momentary comfort from the pain she was experiencing. She’d stopped asking for Max about an hour before, and her body was getting weaker and weaker. Diane left the room to get more ice.

Maria stood up, suddenly decisive. “That’s it! We have to do something. Get up Michael,” she hauled him to his feet, still cradling Liz. “Put her over on the bed. You can still hold her,” she added as he shot her a desperate look. Michael set Liz down onto the soft mattress and held her to his chest. “You have to do it. You have to help her. Now.” Michael gave Maria a disbelieving look, sure she didn’t mean it. Maria’s mind whirled with the idea. She ran out of the room.

Michael looked down at Liz, so helpless. The urge to give her what she needed was overpowering. He stood and slowly unbuttoned his jeans, starting to lower them over his hips.

Maria came running back in just then and stood, shocked, in the doorway.

“What the hell are you doing?!” She exclaimed in horror.

“I’m…you…what did you think I was gonna do? You said we had to do it!” Michael was distinctly uncomfortable with the situation, but he was unwilling to let Liz suffer any longer.

“I meant with this!” Maria beat him on the shoulder with a turkey baster. “You can just fill it up and I’ll inject it. It should solve everything. Jeez Michael!” Maria shook her head. It was noble, sort of, that he had been willing to do that for Liz, but still!

Michael fended off Maria’s attack and saw the possibilities of the plan. He grabbed the baster out of her hands and took it into the bathroom.

“It’s okay Liz,” Maria sat beside her to comfort. “We’ll take care of you and your son.”

Liz moaned in pain, clutching her stomach. Her eyes went wide and her nostrils flared as she took in a large breath. She struggled to sit up again.

“Max?” She fought against Maria’s restraining hands to get off the bed. “MAX!!”

“Liz, honey! You’re in no shape to go wandering around.” Maria was having a difficult time holding her.

“Max! He’s here,” Liz subsided against the bed, too weak to continue, knowing that Max was on his way.

Maria looked at her in disbelief and then turned to the doorway as she heard a commotion on the stairs leading up to the apartment. Her eyes widened again as Phillip and Isabel supported a staggering Max as he stumbled into the room. They led him to the bed where he closed the distance that separated him from Liz.

Part 41

Michael hurled the bathroom door open when he heard the commotion in the living area. He slumped against the doorframe in intense relief when he saw that Max and Isabel were back alive. His worst fear was that he would be left alone again and he didn’t even want to think what that would have meant for him and Liz. He watched as Phillip and Isabel stumbled across the room holding Max upright. What had happened to Max? The fevers were intense and uncomfortable, undoubtedly draining after sweating and shaking for so long, but they weren’t disabling for the men. Only Liz. He crossed the room to see Max crawl up the bed to be closer to Liz.

Isabel turned and saw Michael. In two steps she collapsed on him. Michael’s strong arms caught her and he helped her to the couch. What was with all these fainting women lately? He knew something bad had happened to both of them and prayed that they had completed their mission before they were hurt. Isabel came to and sat up, holding her head. Diane rushed out of the bedroom to help her daughter.

“Michael…they…Max can’t…” Diane made a gesture down the front of her body and turned back to Isabel. “Can you help them? Please?” Diane pleaded.

Help them?? Help them what?

Diane gave him an odd look as she noticed what appeared to be a turkey baster clutched in his hand. “Is that my…?”

Michael’s face flushed even more, if possible and he pulled the baster behind his back and dropped it out of sight, intensely grateful that he hadn’t had to use it.

Michael looked warily at the bedroom door and swiftly crossed the room and went in. Phillip backed out of the room with an expression of intense relief saying, “He’s too weak to undress. Could you just…?” At Michael’s nod Phillip quickly left them alone in the room.

Michael’s body was numb with relief that that was all he was required to do. Max and Liz were making incoherent sounds of frustration. He went to the bed and pulled off Max’s shoes and socks one at a time. Max was so absorbed in Liz that he didn’t even notice. He could see Max fumbling to undo the button on his jeans with no success. Max’s raging erection was obvious, and Michael was completely sympathetic. He had not gone unaffected himself. Part of the fever was a fierce desire, and he had had no outlet for that.

Michael rolled Max onto his back while Max protested weakly. He couldn’t be separated from Liz! Liz whimpered at the loss of Max’s lips and crawled up his chest to resume the contact. Michael quickly unzipped Max’s jeans and tried to pull them off of his friend. The sweat soaked material made it very difficult and slow, but at last Michael was successful. He grabbed one of the arms that was wrapped around Liz and pulled it away, quickly pulling the sleeve off of Max. He freed the other arm and paused briefly wondering how he would get them to separate long enough to get the shirt over Max’s head. Finally, he put his hands on Liz’s heated shoulders and pulled her away. She growled, actually growled, at Michael and fought against the withdrawal with her remaining strength. Michael could see no comprehension in her eyes, no recognition of who he was or why he was there. He ripped the shirt over Max’s head and tossed the sodden fabric to the floor.

Max rolled over on top of Liz and took her mouth again, his hands moving over the familiar paths of her body, his hips thrusting rhythmically. Michael fervently hoped these two would appreciate what a good friend he was and grabbed the waistband of Max’s boxers and pulled them down. Michael wiped sweat off his brow with his sleeve and squinched his eyes shut as he reached under Max to pull off Liz’s panties.

His task complete, Michael backed away from the bed until he ran into the door. Max and Liz were already joined, their sweat glistened bodies moving as one. Michael fumbled for the doorknob and shakily opened the door a crack and slid out sideways. He closed the door behind him and leaned back against it sliding to the floor. He rested his arms over upraised knees and dropped his head, panting softly. He prayed that they would finish quickly so his body could be his own again.

“Are they…?” Maria gestured to the door.

“Yeah,” Michael answered softly, raising his head to meet her concerned gaze.

“Mr. and Mrs. Evans took Isabel downstairs to make sure she’s all right,” Maria informed him. Michael nodded. He hadn’t even noticed they were gone.

“Are you…okay?” Maria asked awkwardly. She knew that he had been as affected as Max by everything that had happened.

“When they’re…I’ll be fine in awhile,” Michael wiped his brow on his sleeve again. Maria moved to sit beside him on the floor. She put her arm around his shoulders and something in him finally broke. Sobbing in relief and pain for all they had been through he leaned into her chest and soaked her shirt with his emotions. His shoulders shook and Maria completed the hug, wrapping her other arm across his chest. She held him there making soothing sounds and waited for the waves to subside.

“I can feel them,” Michael whispered against her chest in misery.

Maria drew in a surprised breath. “You’re connected to them?”

“To Liz,” he confessed, not sure how Maria would take it.

“Oh,” she breathed softly. Wasn’t it bad enough that he had to suffer all of these terrible protective and health-affecting symptoms without adding the cruelty of making him feel the resolution without giving him his own? Maria was indignant over the entire unfair mess. “Do you want me to…Do you need to…” Maria stuttered in her uncertainty over what she was offering. Should she offer to comfort Michael in a way that would satisfy his body after all he had done today?

“ No! God Maria no!” He couldn’t see the hurt expression in her eyes at the rejection, but he felt her whole body tense. He looked up. “Our first time will be just about us. I won’t have you offering yourself as some kind of pain reliever for my…my…I just don’t want it to be like that, okay?” Michael brought a shaky hand up and used his thumb to wipe away a track of tears that was trailing down Maria’s silky skin. She closed her eyes and nodded against his hand, immensely relieved that he wasn’t rejecting her, just the circumstances.

Michael body stiffened momentarily and the harsh sound of his inhalation filled the quiet room. They could hear Max and Liz moaning faintly for a moment, and then silence.

“Was that…?” Maria started.

Michael nodded and got to his feet. “I’m just gonna use the bathroom and then we’ll go down and find out what happened out there today okay?” Without waiting for a response he moved stiffly to the bathroom. He closed the door and leaned on the sink, staring at his reflection in the mirror. Had he done the right thing today? Had Max been distracted by the fever and gotten hurt as a result? Was it fair to have let them all suffer for so long when they knew the solution was simple. He shook his head. Not simple at all.

He stood straight and unzipped his jeans. He waved a hand over the sticky mess to evaporate the evidence of his connection to Liz. When he had felt the incredible wave of her release, he just couldn’t stop it. Refastening the jeans he ran cold water over his hands and splashed it on his face to cool it down before rejoining Maria. The edge of the fever had eased considerably, but he knew that they needed to join again. Soon.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Max’s back stiffened as he thrust the last few strokes into Liz. He could feel her pleasure cresting and he followed her immediately into bliss, the life-giving juices spurting out of him in long waves. He collapsed on top of her, vaguely aware that he should be more considerate of his weight against her small frame, but Liz’s arms were making sure he didn’t go anywhere, and he didn’t have the strength or will to resist.

His finally got his breathing under semi-control, and with a quick maneuver he rolled them so that Liz lay over his chest, their bodies still joined. Her eyes were closed and her hands couldn’t stop touching his body. She smoothed her fingers over his chest and down his side, changing the texture of her touch from feather-light strokes to deep massage.

“I’m so sorry,” Max’s voice was miserable.

Liz popped her head up and narrowed her eyes at him questioningly.

“For what?”

“For not being here. For not thinking that it might take longer. For not planning it right.” Max was overcome by the close call Liz and their son had suffered.

“Max! Please don’t say that! You did what we all agreed was right! We’re all here. Alive. And I don’t want anyone but you Max, you know that,” Liz finished softly.

“I wish I could have been here sooner. She had some kind of alien device…I don’t know what it was. It sent this shock out to me and Isabel and it felt like it was ripping us apart. The alien part I mean.”

Liz’s eyes widened. “Is Tess still…? Did you…?”

“I don’t know,” Max confessed. “I heard her screaming in pain. I saw her fall. We were so messed up when we left the cave, I didn’t look for her body. Maybe Isabel knows. I’m sorry,” he said again.

“Are you okay Max?? How did you survive it?” Liz’s hands on his body now were frantic, searching for injury. Max placed his hands over hers and stilled their nervous journey.

“We were connected to the Granolith. I think it absorbed a lot of the shock, but I also felt like it weakened the Granolith’s strike against Tess. I don’t know if it was enough. What she did…it knocked us out. I could feel it ripping through me, not my skin, but inside…it’s hard to explain. We were out for a long time I guess. When I came to I realized right away that you needed me. We got here as fast as we could. I’m sorry.” He couldn’t stop apologizing.

“Please Max, please don’t feel bad. You guys did everything you could. I know that. Maybe your Dad saw something,” she mused.

“Maybe,” Max answered, his hips squirming unconsciously against hers as the need between them grew. “My fever’s not gone yet,” he voiced huskily.

“Mine either,” she whispered against his lips, licking her tongue out to taste him. They began to move together again, slowly this time. Murmured words of love and devotion passed between them as their bodies rocked together. Max licked the sensitive area behind her ear and was rewarded with a low moan. His hands traveled up her back and he realized that she still wore her bra. He undid the clasp and tossed it on the floor. Funny, he couldn’t remember them undressing earlier. He shrugged it off. He wouldn’t have remembered getting hit by a car, the way he’d been feeling earlier. He could feel Liz’s racing pulse under his lips on her neck and he nipped and sucked gently down the column of her throat. Liz’s head arched back to increase his access and he obliged her unspoken request to pick up the pace.

Liz moved her hips over him frantically, milking each stroke to the end and plunging down on him again. Harder. Faster. More, more, more…

Max made that visceral growling noise that he always made just before he came and Liz moaned his name as she felt her body stiffen in exquisite pleasure. She continued her movements until Max stilled her body with his hands on her hips. He was going into sensory overload. She settled on his chest again. Soothed with his hands over her back and her ear to his heart she whispered, “Don’t ever leave me Max.”

“ Never,” he promised from the depths of his being. He turned his head to the side and let his tears soak the pillow.

Part 42

Tuesday 8:47 p.m.

Max and Liz fell into a much-needed slumber after the fever finally released them from its sweaty grip. Even in sleep they could not let go. Their arms wrapped securely around each other and Liz’s head rested over his heart.

A gentle knocking at the door finally woke them. Max blinked his eyes opened first, looking for his bedside clock, and frowned in confusion before he realized he was in his new bed in their new apartment. He sat up, laying Liz gently on the pillow beside them. He pulled the sheet up and called softly, “Come in.”

Michael opened the door a crack and, not meeting Max’s eyes, said, “Isabel and your parents are awake now and they wanted to know if you two are well enough to come down and go over what happened.” Michael was feeling awkward over what had taken place earlier. He wasn’t even sure they would remember judging from the disoriented state they had been in. He fervently hoped that they wouldn’t.

“Can you wait outside for a minute?” Max asked, gesturing to his bare chest. Michael flushed and nodded as he closed the door and went to wait on the couch.

“Liz? Liz? Wake up baby,” Max gently coaxed. He rubbed her shoulder and behind her neck gently to ease her into wakefulness. She sighed and leaned into his touch before waking fully and blinking her eyes to clear them of sleep. She gasped softly at the sight of Max and flung herself into his arms.

“You’re here!” she cried out emotionally. “Don’t leave me again Max!”

Max smoothed her soft hair down her back and rocked her gently. She had been through so much because of him. He could feel her fear for him and for their child and was deeply sorry that his life was so complicated and dangerous that they couldn’t have a normal relationship. “Sshhh…it’s alright. I’m here baby. I won’t leave again. We’re safe, okay?” Liz nodded against his shoulder and took a deep breath. She was already sorry that she had reacted so emotionally. She could feel Max trying to struggle through all the guilt of not being there when he was desperately needed. She sat back and smiled through her sadness.

“I’m okay now. Sorry about that,” she added in embarrassment. “I know you will always come for me. Be there for me, for us. Don’t think that I doubt you,” she reassured him.

“I know that you don’t blame me, but maybe you should. We didn’t plan it all out before we just took off and…” Liz stopped him with a hand over his lips.

“How could you know that she would have an alien device to protect herself with? You couldn’t know, so stop beating yourself up over it. Now we need to plan what to do about all this.”

“Michael’s waiting in the living room for us. I guess Iz and my parents fell asleep downstairs, but now they’re awake and want to go over what we all know. Are you up for that?” His eyes searched hers for fatigue even as his mind reached out to assess her true emotional and physical status.

“Yeah, I’m still a little weak from everything, and so tired, but yeah, I really want to know what happened out there today, er…yesterday I guess. Oh my God! Max! My parents! I never went home last night!” Liz scrambled from the bed and started yanking on the clothes she found scattered about the room.

Max also got dressed and he hugged her close and kneeled down for a moment lifting her shirt to kiss the spot over their son. Standing again, they opened the door and exited the room arm-in-arm.

Michael looked up nervously from the couch, rubbing his suddenly sweaty palms together as he looked for any sign of embarrassment or condemnation from his friends. He was shocked when Liz crossed the space between them and hugged him close to her. Max stood back for a moment, feeling the incredible wave of gratefulness that Liz felt for Michael. Michael had been her support for the entire time Max wasn’t there, and she didn’t know how she would have gotten through it without him.

Michael hugged her back awkwardly looking over her head at Max who stood back and watched them with a faint smile on his lips. Max moved forward and put his arms around both of them and they stood that way for several moments, sharing the joy of being together, of having survived something so horrific and coming out healthy and well.

“Michael what’s the pr…” Maria’s voice trailed off as she watched the three sharing an intense moment of togetherness. She averted her eyes, feeling like she was intruding on something private.

Michael reached out an arm and called her name. She touched his hand with hers and he pulled her in. Max and Michael both put an arm around Maria, including her in the circle of gratitude.

“Thank you,” Liz’s voice trembled with emotion as she looked at her friends, “Thank you so much. I don’t know what would have even happened to me if you guys hadn’t been here to hold me together. I can’t say it enough. You two are the best friends we could ever have and I am so grateful you were there for me!”

“Liz! I’ve always got your back, you know that, right?” Maria reached across the circle and hugged her friend. Liz nodded with a trembling smile.

“I think you guys saved my life. I don’t know…” Liz leaned sideways into Max and drew comfort from his strong presence. Michael took Maria in his arms and hugged her, knowing that she was feeling left out a lot lately.

Maria pulled back after a moment. “We should get downstairs, the natives are getting restless and they sent me up to find out what was taking so long,” she reluctantly said. She wanted to bask in her feeling of inclusion for awhile longer, but she really needed to know what had happened in the desert and if they could stop worrying.

They trooped out the door and down the stairs.

They all shared hugs and looks of concern over the exhausted expressions on the teen’s faces. No one had slept well the night before and it had definitely taken a toll on everyone. Max gave Isabel a huge hug and a heartfelt thank you for all she had done to get him out of the cave and for backing him up when Tess had tried to kill him. If she hadn’t added her strength to his…

“You okay?” she asked with concern. The image of how she had last seen him haunted her still.

Max nodded, “You?” Isabel reassured him she had rested and was going to be fine.

Diane had a hard time letting Max go after Phillip had told her the state he was in when he found him. She touched his face and told him she loved him and was so proud of him for what he had done. Max’s face was filled with emotion at the realization that his parents would always love and support him.

“Liz is worried about her parents. Did they call last night?” Max voiced his top concern.

Diane nodded and touched Liz’s arm. “I called and told them that you stayed for dinner after you got done with work and that you fell asleep watching a movie with Isabel. They said that was okay. They don’t expect you back until about 9:30 tonight, because they think you get off work right after nine. You’ve only got about twenty minutes.” Diane’s eyes filled with sympathy when Max and Liz both whimpered and held each other tighter.

“We’ll think of something,” Max whispered for Liz’s ears alone. She took a deep breath and nodded against his chest.

“We better talk about what happened yesterday,” she said, pulling Max to sit on the lounge chair and making herself comfortable on his lap. Everyone else found seats on the couch and the floor.

Max filled them in on the events that occurred in the cave. They all gasped and asked questions he had no answer for when he told them of the alien device.

“I don’t know where she got it. It sent out this shock wave that I think would have killed us, except we were connected with the Granolith and it absorbed a lot of the blast. It attacked us inside, our alien side. Not like a bomb or anything I would have expected,” Max watched Isabel nod her head in agreement. It had been the same for her. “I think that’s what took us so long to come out of it. It inhibited our ability to heal ourselves while we were unconscious.”

“Wait a minute,” Michael interrupted. “Are your powers still affected? Is that why you two had to…twice?” Michael hated to ask, but needed to know.

“How do you…?” Max shook his head, not really wanting the answer to that question. They would have to resign themselves to the fact that everyone already knew way too much about their sex lives. “No. I feel fine now. I think we just missed a feeding, so we had to make up for it.” Liz nodded her agreement, not meeting anyone’s eyes.

Max reached out to the arm of the chair and concentrated for a moment. The chair started to change to a pretty shade of blue. He changed it back before his Mom could freak out about his lack of decorating sense. Michael sat back, satisfied.

“I…I don’t remember seeing Tess’ body,” Max voiced his worst fear. He looked to Isabel.

Isabel shook her head. “I didn’t even look for her, I was too worried about you.” They turned to their father.

Phillip sighed and leaned forward to rest his arms on his knees. “I passed your Jeep on the road when I was heading out to the cave. I could see it wasn’t either of you driving. It was a short blonde. I’m sure now that it was her. She was veering all over the road, and I was so worried that she had done something to you that I kept going. I was stuck outside that cave all night, but I knew you still had to be in there, because I hadn’t seen you in the Jeep. I’m sorry,” he finished.

Isabel let out a low moan. She hadn’t yet considered that Tess had not been destroyed. Diane put an arm around her to comfort her.

Max cradled Liz’s shuddering form into his arms. They were enveloped in the circle of each other’s emotions. Max shared that same fear and despair that it wasn’t just over, and that now it was a hundred times more dangerous for them because Tess was on to them. She was going to be looking for revenge. Max stiffened when he remembered Tess’ threat about never letting Liz see their son. That is never going to happen, he vowed silently to himself and Liz. Liz’s body shivered again as she shared the memory of Tess’ vow of revenge.

The phone rang shrilly in the hall and Diane rushed to answer it.

“Hello? Hi, Kyle. No she’s not here, we haven’t seen her…Her stuff is all gone?,” Diane flashed a desperate glance into the living room. What was she supposed to say about Tess? “His Jeep is parked at your house? I guess, maybe she borrowed it…No, Max and Isabel are both here. We’ll come pick up the Jeep in a little bit…Okay, yeah. Thanks for calling Kyle. We’ll let you know if we see her. Bye.” Diane cradled the receiver and turned back to face the anxious faces in the living room.

“What?” Isabel questioned nervously.

“Kyle said that he just woke up from a huge nap and that all of Tess’ things and her SUV are gone. He found Max’s Jeep parked outside their house and thought we might know what was going on.”

Michael and Max shared a stricken glance. She could be out their anywhere.

The phone rang again and Diane answered, somewhat out of breath from all the excitement.

“Hello?…Hi Nancy,” she glanced back to Liz and watched her face pale. “She’s heading home right now. Yeah, she’ll be there soon…She’s doing really well, I don’t know what we’d do without her. Thank you so much for letting us hire her. We’ve been so busy and she’s been a wonderful help…All right, well, good night. We should get together for dinner soon…Okay, bye.” Diane put the phone down again.

Max was standing, holding onto Liz’s hand, balancing her weight against his side as she sagged against him. He glanced at his mother and started making plans.

“I’ll take you home in Mom’s car, and wait for you on your balcony. Spend a little time with your parents and then tell them you’re tired and need to get some rest since you have to be up early to tutor in the morning. They don’t check on you at night, do they?”

Liz shook her head, hope filling her eyes. She didn’t want to be away from Max anymore. “They stopped doing that when I started asking for more privacy last year. They respect it. And plus, they don’t ever wake up before seven, and I told them my tutoring starts at six thirty, so…they won’t be looking for me in the morning!”

“Michael could you and Maria come with us? We can pick up the Jeep and then you can drop Maria off at home before bringing it back here. You’ve got your motorcycle here right?” Max was pretty sure he had seen it, almost tripped over it really, on his way to the house earlier.

“Yeah,” Michael answered.

“We’ll all go to school tomorrow and figure out what to do next, after we’ve rested. I think we need to bring in Kyle and Jim now that Tess isn’t living with them anymore, and Alex needs to know what happened too.” Everyone agreed.

Diane, Phillip, and Isabel watched from the doorway as the rest of the group pulled out of the driveway. It was strange to see them go, after all they had been through together, almost as if a part of them was going too. They closed the door and turned back into the living room, all wondering what was going to happen next.

Part 43

Max stopped the Jeep and Michael and Maria hopped out. Max walked around the back of the vehicle digging in his pocket for the keys. Tess must have used her powers to start it earlier. Handing the keys to Michael while Maria got in on the passenger side of the Jeep, he leaned closer to ask softly, “Can Liz and I stop by your place before we head back? It’ll be maybe an hour or so, so if that’s too late…” he stopped when he saw Michael agree right away.

“Naw, come on by. I’ll be awake anyway. There’s a lot to process.” Big understatement. Big.

“Good. Okay then, we’ll see you later.” Max leaned into the driver’s side window and said goodnight and thank you to Maria.

Max and Liz continued on to her house, and they each continually watched the streets for any sign of Tess or her white SUV. Both were uncomfortable at the thought of Tess popping up just anywhere. Max couldn’t stand the thought of spending time away from Liz now that the danger was so ominous.

“I’ll meet you on your balcony whenever you’re ready,” Max gave her a quick kiss and watched her get safely in the front door before heading around back. They maintained a conscious connection so that he would know if she were in danger or afraid.

Climbing over the rail of her balcony, he circled the small area and prepared for a long wait. His eyes constantly scanned the street below and he listened for any strange noises. His paranoia caused him to go in at one point and walk through Liz’s room, checking under the bed, in the closet and bathroom. Satisfied, he went back out to the balcony. A few minutes later he heard Liz call out a good night to her parents and saw the light flick on in her bedroom.

She quickly opened the window and waved him in. They briefly touched hands in silence before she turned to stuff some clothes and overnight accessories into a bag to keep at the apartment. It looked like she would be spending a lot more time there from now on.

They quietly slipped down into the alley and climbed in the Jeep for the ride to Michael’s.

Knocking on Michael’s door softly, they were surprised when it opened almost immediately.

Michael waved them in. “Have a seat. I guess you want to talk about Tess, huh?” Michael sat on the chair and let them have the sofa.

“Well, actually we just wanted to say thanks…” Max looked at Liz. They had been having memories from the night’s events returning to them and had realized together exactly what they had put Michael through.

“You already said that. Nothing that a friend wouldn’t do for another…” Michael was interrupted by Liz.

“Michael! No friend should be expected to strip down another friend so they could…you know…Especially after feeling so…hot and bothered yourself!” Liz exclaimed.

Michael flushed a dull red. So they remembered that, huh? Damn! “I…you needed to…Damnit! Your Dad was too uncomfortable seeing you two that way, so he thought it’d be better if I…helped you out! No big deal,” he stuttered out. Except it was.

It was Liz’s turn to flush red. “Your Dad was in there?” This night keeps getting better and better, she thought sarcastically.

Max caught the thought and hugged her close. “He helped me into the room. I don’t think he stayed long.” Max turned questioning eyes to Michael, who immediately backed him up.

“Um, no. He just helped Max over to the bed and then asked if I could help you guys out. Which I did,” Michael added before he thought how that wasn’t going to help Liz’s embarrassment issues. Michael shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

“We aren’t trying to embarrass you or anything,” Max inserted, seeing how uncomfortable Michael was. Not only with the embarrassing subject matter, but with their gratitude. “We just want to make sure you know how grateful we are that we have a friend like you. And I want you to know that I felt better knowing you were there for Liz. I know how hard it is to resist the pull to be with her. I’m just really glad that you waited. I know you would have taken care of her if it had gone on any longer.”

“It was a really good thing you came when you did. Maria had some bizarre idea involving a turkey baster…” Michael cut off his speech wishing he hadn’t shared that particular tidbit.

“A what?” Max asked in confusion and then smiled at Liz when she grabbed her stomach and burst out laughing at the image Michael had created. She laughed so hard she finally started snorting and Michael couldn’t help but chuckle a bit now that it was all over.

Liz gasped and tried to catch her breath. “A…a….,” laughter stopped her speech, “A turkey baster??? I swear! Only Maria would come up with something so…so…uniquely inspired!” Liz laughed again and fell to her side on the sofa.

Max and Michael exchanged amused looks and watched Liz until she calmed down somewhat.

“What’s a turkey baster?” Max asked innocently. Liz almost rolled off the couch in a new fit of giggles and Michael rolled his eyes, leaning back in his chair to wait it out.

“I’m sure Liz will explain it to you later Max,” Michael told him dryly. Probably in excruciating detail, he added in his thoughts, No way they’d let him hear the end of this one. He could see it all now when Thanksgiving rolled around…he shuddered. Never look at turkey the same way again!

Liz finally ceased her fit of laughter. It felt so good to be able to release her emotions in a good way for once! She looked over at Michael’s pensive face and felt a little sorry for the way he must feel right now.

“Michael, I’m…I didn’t mean to just go off like that,” she apologized. “I know what we’ve been through. I felt a connection with you when I didn’t feel like I could go on.”

Michael nodded, meeting her eyes, “I felt it too. What you were going through, you know…”

“Were you…did you feel it when…?” Liz hoped Michael knew what she was trying to say because she was having a hard time getting the words out. She had a feeling she already knew the answer, because she had felt him in their connection at the moment of completion. Had felt his swirling emotions and frustration loud and clear.

“Yeah, I did,” Michael answered her unspoken question.

“What?” Max asked in confusion. Liz stared at Max for a second, communicating silently, and his eyes widened briefly. “Ohhh!” He looked back at Michael. “I’m really sorry man! I didn’t know that you would be connected to Liz like I am if we waited too long to consummate!” Max winced at the thought of how that must have felt for his friend to feel the outcome of the lovemaking without any relief for himself.

Michael shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Don’t worry about it man. I think that was a one time deal, because we were affected for so long, you know?”

Max nodded. “I hope so. I’m really sorry we’re putting you through all this.”

“Nothing we can do about it Maxwell. Let’s drop it okay?” Michael asked in desperation. “Now what are we gonna do about the demon-bitch from hell?”

Liz’s eyes widened at the venom in Michael’s tone.

“We have to find her. I don’t know where she’d go. We’ll have to get together tomorrow and see what the gang thinks,” Max mused aloud.

“The problem is that she can make everyone see things that aren’t there. Well, everyone but me,” Liz thought about that for a second. “I could try to get a vibe off the Jeep. I think her emotions were probably running pretty strong, maybe she made plans while she drove away. I could maybe see where she was gonna go!” Liz was getting excited by the idea.

“That’s a great idea!” Michael exclaimed. “That power of yours is going to come in very handy.” He turned to Max. “You never said if you got anything useful off of her when you had your ‘session’ in your room yesterday.”

“I did learn some good stuff. A few ways to refine our powers, how to scan information instantly,” Max looked at Liz. It would be a good way to graduate early if they could memorize school texts in one sitting. “Also, she was planning to warp me yesterday to make me sleep with her. Her body was ready to conceive, and she wanted to use the Granolith to get back to Khivar. She was going to marry him and rule at his side. With my son to raise they would have been invincible. The seers foretold that he would have ‘the power of all’, that means that he will be strong in all of our gifts. He’ll be a formidable opponent. No one should be able to beat him.” Max smiled proudly at Liz.

Liz shivered, wishing their son didn’t have to have such a strife-filled existence.

Max noticed how tense she was and got up to leave. “We should go. Liz is still tired from everything, and we all need our rest.” Max moved over and surprised Michael with a strong hug. “Thanks again, man. You’re the best friend a guy could have.”

Michael shrugged self-consciously and stepped back only to be hugged again by Liz. “Thank you Michael. For everything,” she whispered quietly. Her eyes reminding him that she knew all he had done and had been willing to do for her.

Michael closed the door behind them and sighed. He was mortified that they knew what had happened, but at the same time he was gratified that they appreciated his efforts. He raked his hands through his shaggy hair and decided to hit the shower.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Liz hopped out of Diane’s car as soon as it parked in the driveway and rushed over to where Michael had parked the Jeep. She hovered close to it, but hesitated to touch it until Max joined her.

“Are you sure you want to do this tonight?” Max questioned her. “We could wait for the morning if you’re too tired right now,” he added.

Liz shook her head and reached for the door handle resolutely. “No. I need to know if she’s planning something. We can’t be looking over our shoulders all the time. What if she’s coming for you or Isabel tonight? We have to find out what we can.” Liz opened the door and quickly slid into the seat that Tess had occupied in her wild ride back to the Valenti’s.

She was having a hard time breathing. Damn that Max Evans for trying to get the best of her! She started the car after an interminably long time trying to muster her strength to use a faint spark of the power she was capable of. Her breathing was erratic and she was covered in burns. The pain was excruciating, it had felt like her skin was melting off of her. Damn! He wouldn’t get away with this! It was going to take her months to use her limited healing skills to fix this!

The car jerked to a start and she drove erratically toward the road. Plan! Plan! She tried to think what to do. No way she could do anything right now. Not for months. She needed to find someplace far away and get strong again before she could even think about coming back. That bitch Liz Parker was going to pay with her son for what Max and Isabel had done to her. She smirked. What would little Liz Parker do when she found out her boyfriend was dead? Tess laughed out loud, sorry she would miss the show. She immediately winced in pain as the laugh pulled the burned skin on her face and caused excruciating bolts of pain to sear her flesh. The wince caused more pain and she tried to control her urge to howl and scream out loud.

Where would she go? She thought of several places that she and Nacedo had lived in the past and rejected each one. She braked to an abrupt stop in front of the Valenti home and took a deep breath. She needed enough power to warp Kyle and Jim into a deep sleep long enough to get her stuff and get out. She slammed the door of the Jeep closed, still thinking where she could go.

Liz gasped and refocused her eyes. Max clenched his fingers over the shoulder he had been holding to support her and they just stared at each other. Tess was crazy with lust for revenge. The only good thing was that she was weak right now and wouldn’t come back for several weeks at least, but when she did come back she’d be strong and pissed.

“She thinks you’re dead,” Liz’s voice was husky with emotion. “She thinks she killed you and Isabel.”

“The less she knows the better. She won’t be prepared for us. That gives us an advantage, and we have months to plan a new attack.” Max helped Liz out of the car and led her around back to their apartment.

Part 44

Liz woke in Max’s arms on Wednesday morning and stretched luxuriously, being careful not to disturb him. She leaned up on her elbow and watched him breathe for a while, loving the calm, innocent expression that only sleep could inspire. She knew that sleeping in her arms was the only way that Max could remain undisturbed by nightmares throughout the night, and while she prayed that one day he would be healed enough from his emotional scars to sleep peacefully without her, she was more than willing to volunteer her services until that time. She sighed softly. Nothing would ever be easy for them, not even sleep. It was the story of their young lives so far; when they were together they were stronger. Whole.

The realization washed over her again that they would have to tell her parents what was going on with them. Soon. She could no longer bear the thought of sleeping without Max’s comforting arms around her every night. Just a taste of what life without Max would be like had almost killed her the day before. The thought of her parent’s undoubtedly negative reaction to her news forced her to close her eyes to hold back the tears. She barely had her mother back as it was and this bombshell was going to tear a gigantic hole in their relationship.

Liz jumped in surprise when she felt Max’s warm fingers caress her smooth skin.

“Hey,” he whispered huskily, blinking to focus his warm amber eyes on her.

“Hey,” she answered back with a special smile just for him. Yep. It was heaven to wake up to those eyes.

“I agree,” he answered her thought. He used his hand to lower her face to his for a brief good-morning kiss. Liz sighed and deepened the connection, noticing how Max always got rid of morning breath for both of them without even mentioning it. Very handy.

I try, he answered again.

Liz smiled through the kiss and allowed her body to flow against his. Time to feed the baby.

Oh yeah!

One hour later

“What else did you get off the Jeep?” Isabel questioned as they all sat around the breakfast table.

“That was about everything,” Liz answered, looking to Max for confirmation. Max nodded.

“We need to talk to the Valenti’s today and see if they’ll let Liz into the house to see if we can find out anything else,” Max stated, watching Liz for a reaction.

She nodded thoughtfully. “I want to try the Jeep again too,” she added, “I don’t know why I only got visions of what she was doing while she was in the Jeep. When I touched her scarf before I got future visions, but that didn’t happen last night.”

“Psychometry,” Isabel nodded knowingly. She caught the blank looks around the table and decided to elaborate. “Psychometry is the ability to get impressions that are stored in objects. It’s just another facet of ‘the sight’. Make sense?”

Liz nodded thoughtfully again. “I wonder if I can control whether a vision just stops in the present, or if I can make it continue into the future.”

“We’ll play with that after school today,” Max said. It felt so strange to be in the middle of all this drama and still have to sit through interminable high school classes. Very strange.

Liz’s eyes sparkled and she nodded at him. “I know!” she agreed out loud.

“Know what?” Diane questioned curiously, watching the silent interaction between her son and his wife.

“Oh! Sorry about that! Max was just thinking how strange it is that we’re sitting here plotting an alien search and destroy mission and we still have to wait till we get out of classes to get started,” Liz enlightened them.

Phillip’s eyebrows rose almost to his hairline. “You kids read minds?” he asked in astonishment.

Max quickly reassured them, “Only each other.”

“Only…Have you always?” He thought how long the kids had known each other and how quickly they’d seemed to bond.

“Um…No, not really. Only since we…” Max turned pleading eyes to Liz.

“Bonded,” she finished for him quickly. Whoa! Time to change the subject!

Diane sensed a rescue was in order and stepped in. “I’ve been looking up New Mexico’s statutes on underage marriage. It took a little digging, but I found that statute 40-1-6 states,” she pulled out a little notebook to read, “ ‘Section B; The children’s or family court division of the district court may authorize the marriage of persons under the ages stated in subsection A of this section in settlement proceedings to compel support and establish parentage, or where the female is under the age of consent and is pregnant, if the marriage would not be incestuous.’” Diane looked up triumphantly. She was met with blank stares. “It means that Liz’s parents can’t stop the marriage. If they don’t agree to give notarized, written consent then you two can appeal to family court and they will grant you leave to marry in New Mexico because Liz is pregnant.”

“Oh my…,” Liz leaned out of her chair to give Diane a huge hug. “Thank you so much! I’ve been so worried about my parent’s reaction. What if they don’t give their consent, you know? Now they can’t stop us anyway!”

“That is so great Mom,” Max chimed in, so obviously happy that that was one less thing to worry about. There was no way he’d be parted from Liz!

“Yeah, well when you told us that Liz was pregnant that sort of changed the picture. I had visions of statutory rape charges coming up after Max turns eighteen tomorrow. Liz, your birthday isn’t till October is it?” Diane questioned.

Liz’s face had gone pale. Statutory rape? The thought had never even occurred to her. Max would never force himself on her! Max squeezed her thigh under the table, acknowledging her fear.

“Um, yeah. October,” she finally remembered to answer the question. She turned to Max. “When are we going to tell them? I don’t think they’re ready for the whole truth yet, and if we tell them now they might wonder why I don’t start showing till I’m eight months pregnant and why the baby took ten months to get here.” This concern had been eating her all night since she realized that she needed to tell her parents.

Max thought for a moment before Isabel interjected, “Would a pregnancy test come out positive?”

Liz and Max exchanged blank looks. “I don’t know,” Liz answered. “Maybe we can pick one up after school and find out. I think it would though, our bodies are human and I can’t imagine there’d be anything different about my hcg levels.”

“Good. All you’d have to do was show them a test. Once you move over here for good they won’t see you every day to notice much. You won’t be expected to really show much until your fifth or sixth month, and by then you may want to tell them everything anyway,” Isabel finished.

“Thanks Isabel,” Max answered for both of them. This might actually work!

“I’ll pick up the test,” Diane added, looking at the kids. She saw the relief in their expressions. Roswell was a small town, and news of Max Evans and Liz Parker strolling in to purchase a pregnancy test would be a hot topic all over town before the dinner hour. “When do you want to talk with your parents Liz?”

Liz looked at Max and he enfolded her small hand in his large one. Diane could see the silent communication flowing between them. Finally they both nodded and turned to answer Diane.

“Tonight. We’ll go to school, I’ll come back and take the test, we’ll head over to the Valenti’s and find out what we can about Tess, and then we’ll go over to my parent’s place,” Liz finished. Wow! It was ‘her parent’s place’ now. It didn’t really feel like her home was anywhere but with Max anymore.

Diane nodded. A very full day. Not the life of a typical teen! She stood and began clearing the table and Liz jumped up to help her.

“Thanks Liz,” Diane watched the girl industriously move through the kitchen, obviously used to household chores. “I thought we’d postpone your starting date till sometime next week if things calm down by then. What do you think?”

“I’m sorry I haven’t been any help to you yet!” Liz apologized, “I really am excited to start my new job.”

“I know you are honey. We’ve got lots of time to get you trained, and you’ve had a lot of things happen in a short period of time.” They finished the dishes in companionable silence and the kids piled in the Jeep to head for school.

West Roswell High

Max took Liz’s hand in his and walked boldly through the halls of the school. Man it feels good to make our love known!, he thought with a bubble of happiness at the stares and whispers that floated around them.

I know what you mean! Liz’s happy thought joined his. The kids from school were already wildly speculating about their renewed status. Liz had gained quite a reputation after the ‘Kyle incident’ a while back and they were amazed that Max would be seen with her again.

“Hey,” Michael greeted from where he was leaning against Liz’s locker. He raised his eyebrows at Max’s possessive hold on Liz. “You can probably let her go now. She might need that hand later.” Max reluctantly released Liz’s hand so she could open her locker.

“Did you find anything out last night from the Jeep?” Michael got right to the point. Maria walked up just in time to hear his question and he tucked her under his arm and waited for their answer.

“Yeah, we did. We’re going to try a few things later and also check out the Valenti house if they let us,” Max answered.

“What are we letting you do?” Kyle interrupted unexpectedly. “Are you guys trying to find Tess? My Dad and I were looking all night, but he doesn’t want an official search yet just in case she’s on some kind of ‘alien’ mission.”

“Kyle!” Liz greeted in surprise. “Yeah, we do need to find Tess. We have a lot to tell you. Do you think we could all come over after school and tell you and your Dad about what’s been going on for the last week?”

“Um, sure I guess. I’ll find out when Dad’ll be home and let you know,” Kyle responded. “Do you know why she’s gone? Is she okay?” His concern was reflected in the tone of his voice and his anxious posture.

“She left on her own Kyle, and we’ll tell you why at your house later,” Max tried to avert any further questions. “Call over to my house and let us know what time okay?”

Kyle nodded. Isabel took pity on him and linked her arm with his and led him away, trying to ease his mind with lighter subjects.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Alex joined the group, watching Isabel walk down the hall arm-in-arm with Kyle.

Maria grabbed his arm and steered him down the hall. “You’re not going to believe what happened last night!” she exclaimed and proceeded to fill him in with quiet tones as she led him down the hall.

“Later guys!” Michael took off for his first class.

Max turned to Liz and they linked hands again. He walked her to her first period class and cat-calls and whistles rang out as he bestowed a passionate kiss, just in case there was still any question from the student body that they didn’t belong to each other.

“She must be putting out,” Pam Troy said cattily, just loud enough for them to hear as she swept past with a group of her friends.

Max’s body stiffened and he pulled away from Liz as he automatically turned to deal with the slandering bitch.

“Max! She’s not worth it!” She turned him around to face her again, showing him that she wasn’t concerned about Pam’s snide comments. “She’s always ragging on me! It’s no big deal.”

“She doesn’t have the right to say things about you…about us!” he ground out anger.

“Please, Max. Just let it go. She doesn’t know anything about us. Let it go for me, okay?” Liz’s fingers felt the tenseness drain out of Max’s forearm as he took deep breaths and looked into her eyes.

“Okay, but if she says anything again…” Max let the threat trail off at the look in Liz’s eyes. “Fine! I’ll drop it.” Liz smiled her approval and pulled him down for one final kiss before turning to her class.

They had bigger fish to fry today.


Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
-Robert Frost