posted on 18-Sep-2001 6:06:43 PM
1)

Title: Armed for Travel
E-mail: Realspacecadet7⊕aol.com
Rating: G- it’s harmless.
Spoilers: Thru We Are Family
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything; I’m just borrowing the characters for a little while.

“Oh my god, Liz, I totally forgot!”

“Forgot what, Maria?”

“You know, the . . .” Maria nudged Liz meaningfully and the girl gasped.

“You didn’t!”

“I did. I’m sorry, Liz.”

“I can’t believe you, Maria. This is,” she grasped for words, “a complete emergency. What are we gonna do?”

“Hey, I’m not the one who thinks we need them.”

“Well, we do! You can’t go to-”

“I know, I know. I’ve been hearing your list ever since the plan started, how could I forget?”

“Well, you obviously did. God, Maria, there’s only a few minutes left and you forgot. Everything is going to be a complete disaster now.”

“Liz, they’re only-”

”No, Maria, this is just the beginning, I know it. One thing goes wrong, and then the whole thing goes down the drain. Kaput. Bye bye, law and order. It’s Murphy’s Law. I mean, look at how long it took to plan this and now…”

“Liz, it’s not really that much of a big deal.”

“I can’t believe you’re saying this, now, of all times. You told me you picked them up! I trusted you with this small task. I thought you could handle it.”

Liz let one shaking hand travel through her hair and Maria sighed. “I’m sorry, Liz. With all of the excitement, I just forgot. Hey, I’ve got an idea; we can get them when we get there. See, no biggie.”

“They’re not going to have the right ones, I know it.”

“How could you? You’ve never been there, anyway.”

“Of course I have! Remember when I went-”

“Oh, right. The time you abandoned us for three months. That was real great of you, Liz.”

“I needed space. Just like I need the Swedish Fish. You can’t go to Sweden without Swedish Fish, Maria.”

“You’d think you never left Roswell, the way you’re acting. I was just kidding, Lizzie. I have them right here, with my Cyprus Oil. Looks like you’ll be needing both of them.”

"Thank god. I really believed you forgot them."

"Me? Never. I wouldn't disappoint my two best girlfriends, would I?" Maria grinned at Liz, arched a brow, and gestured to the back of the car. “Think we should wake them up?”

Liz focused her gaze on a sleeping Max and Michael, who were not reacting well to their early morning departure. She smiled fondly. “No, let them sleep. We’ll wake them up when we get to the airport, to have the trip of our lives.” She grinned again and honked at the car that was beside them. Kyle, Isabel, Alex, and Tess waved from their seats and she smiled again. “Yep, definitely the trip of our lives.”

Fin


"It may sound absurd...But don't be naive/ Even heroes have the right to bleed/ I may be disturbed/ But won't you concede/ Even heroes have the right to dream." (Superman, Five for Flying)
posted on 18-Sep-2001 6:09:05 PM
2)

Title: The Hole-y Truth
E-mail: Realspacecadet7⊕aol.com
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Spoilers for HTOHL. What would happen if Max and Liz got stuck in the cave instead of Kyle and Alex? If they thought they might not make it, would Liz tell Max the truth?
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything; I’m just borrowing.

Push down. Push up. Lift. Thwap. Wipe sweat from brow. Push down. Push up. Lift. Thwap. Wipe sweat from brow. Glance at Max. Look away. Close eyes in pain. Push down…

Liz Parker leaned tiredly on her shovel, trying not to look at how adorable Max looked wearing his beanie. She was exhausted; hours of digging random holes in the middle of the woods could do that to you. So far, the crystals had yet to make an appearance for either her group, which included Max and Tess, or Alex and Kyle. She’d been so sure they would at least find something that would help them defeat this newest threat to their lives. It looked as if they didn’t succeed, she could kiss the world bye-bye, regardless of how many times she’d told Max she slept with Kyle. And it’d only been a few months, not even fourteen years.

“This sucks,” Tess announced bluntly, and she couldn’t help but agree. Their lives, all of their lives, were in danger, and they were running around in the rain with shovels like complete idiots.

“We have no other choice,” Liz answered, concealing a drowsy yawn, and she leaned in to bring up another shovel’s worth of dirt. Her shoes were completely brown, she noted with disgust, and wondered if she could ask Max to clean them once this was over. If they got out of this before Laurie was infected and they were all screwed, Liz corrected herself silently.

“I’m going to go check on Kyle and Alex,” Tess suddenly announced, and Liz wondered whether she just wanted to get out of doing more digging or if she wanted to go be with Kyle. It was sort of ironic; Kyle was the one who regretted being part of the group the most and Tess was gung-ho on alien destiny, yet they got along better than the rest of them. When Michael and Maria weren’t at each other’s throats, as it had been lately, they got along, but Tess and Kyle seemed to be closer than she would have expected.

“Okay,” Max answered. “Make sure if they found anything, anything at all, we know about it. There aren’t chances to be taken here; you heard what Larek said.” The blond nodded her consent, and she trooped off, her own sneakers making dull squishing sounds as she left Max and Liz in silence. Meeting eyes briefly and then sliding them apart, they went back to shoveling and tossing. It was easy for Liz to fall into a rhythm with him, and she couldn’t help but admire the ease with which he used the shovel. They tossed enough dirt from that particular hole to deem it “safe,” so Max walked a few paces away.

“New whole ahoy,” he semi-joked, and Liz walked over to join him. They set themselves up to begin the new whole in companionable silence, until Max abruptly stopped and stuck his shovel in the ground.

“I’m worried,” he voiced suddenly, the wet strands of hair sticking out from beneath his hat making him look vulnerable. “Michael and Maria are doing God knows what with Laurie now and we have no idea where the queen is. If it gets to her and they’re there, they’ll be infected. I mean, I know I warned them but there are so many what ifs…” Then, as if embarrassed by his monologue, Max concentrated awfully hard on the monotonous brown dirt.

“I’m scared, too,” Liz replied. “But there’s nothing more we can do, and like you said, anything we find here might help us save Michael, Maria, everyone…” She smiled at him as encouragingly as she could muster, and bit back the urge to give him physical comfort. Only a hand on his shoulder in reassurance, her heart pleaded, but her mind rejected the idea. She didn’t have the right to do that, now, not after all the pain she’d caused. And now, everything could be over soon, and she would have played an integral part in ending the world fourteen years earlier than, perhaps, it should have. “We’re doing the best we can, Max.”

“Thanks, Liz,” Max murmured, and drove the shovel into the ground with what could have been renewed vigor. She followed suit, and a strange tingle went up her spine as the dent in the ground began to transform into more of a hole.

Push down. Push up. Lift. Thwap. Wipe sweat from brow. Push down. Push up. Lift. Thwap. Wipe sweat from brow. Glance at Max. Look away. Close eyes in pain. Push down…

Suddenly, the sound of a shovel resonating on something much more solid than dirt brought her back to her senses. Liz snapped to attention, peering into the freshly dug pit and gasping as the faint glow of the blue Gandarian became apparent. And from what she could see, there was a whole lot more where that came from.

“Oh my god,” she whispered, in awe of the formation, despite the danger it held in its crystalline shapes. In an effort to uncover the rest, Liz forced her second wind to make an appearance and began frantically shoveling the dirt. Max, obviously, was as anxious as she was, and helped as much as he could. It didn’t take long before a good portion of the crystals were uncovered, and a slight shift in the ground served to remove dirt from the entrance of… well, Liz could only guess it would be the crystal “breeding ground.”

“Wow,” Max said. “That’s an enormous amount of crystal…” Liz nodded her head and tried to estimate if they could fit into the hole.

“It’s a cave, Max,” Liz announced. “They’re probably all in there…” Max looked alarmed as she gave him a meaningful look and swallowed nervously.

“We should go get the others,” he suggested quickly. “They should know we found it. Or, what we hope is the only one.”

Impulsively, Liz shook her head. “C’mon. What if we run out of time before we find them or the queen is in there and escapes while we’re gone? I really think we should investigate now. Scientifically speaking, you don’t leave the results out by themselves before observing them…” She didn’t understand why she was so adamant about going in, but she felt an urge to do so.

“I don’t know,” Max hedged, but because it was Liz, he caved. “Okay,” he resigned. “I’ll go first, in case it’s dangerous. Wait until I say it’s okay to follow me.”

“I will,” Liz agreed seriously, and watched as Max lowered himself carefully into the hole in the ground, noting how cautiously he attempted to avoid brushing the Gandarian. She waited with baited breath for Max to call for her.

“Okay, Liz,” his voice echoed up to her. “It looks safe.” She nodded to no one and proceeded to lower herself into the hole they’d dug. When she was safely inside, she caught her breath in amazement. The inside of the crystal cave was covered in the blue, glowing Gandarian, and it was fascinating. “It’s amazing.” My sentiments exactly, thought Liz.

She was so caught up in taking in the scenery, neither she nor Max noticed the crystals reforming over the hole to the cave until it was too late.

2/3

She was so caught up in taking in the scenery, neither she nor Max noticed the crystals reforming over the hole to the cave until it was too late. It was only when the change in the light reached her eyes that Liz realized what was happening, but their only way out was already sealed.

“Max,” she squeaked, “The Gandarian trapped us!” He turned to face her and his eyes widened in shock as he too realized what had happened.

“How,” he growled, and strode quickly to what was previously the entrance. “No,” he ground out. “This is not happening.” He reached up and tried to move the crystals to no avail. “Back up,” he told Liz, and she obeyed, watching him stretch his hand out. She knew the power blast wasn’t his special power, but that was what she assumed he would try to use. She was pretty sure a force field and the power to heal wouldn’t be much help in the current situation.

When Max began to tremble slightly, every muscle tensed as his hand was thrown out in front of him, and nothing happened, true panic set in. Liz whirled quickly around, praying with every fiber of her being that this was some crazy illusion or something and they could climb out of the cave safely whenever they chose. When she succeeded in pinching herself, closing and opening her eyes multiple times, and breathing deeply without getting any results whatsoever, reality came crashing through at warp speed. They were in a sealed cave in the ground, surrounded by deadly crystal parasites. Oh, god. If they didn’t get to them first, they might die from lack of oxygen. Oh, god.

“It’s not having any effect,” Max’s voice said, and it broke through her panicked haze. His eyes were wide and fearful, and he seemed to take stock of the situation as Liz had done. “Liz, we’re stuck…” She made no reply, only stared at him somberly, until a sudden epiphany hit her.

“My cell phone!” she shouted, and pulled it from her coat pocket, thankful Amy Deluca had returned it to her. “We can call Tess’ phone and have them help us. Kyle had it before, ‘cause we wanted one for each group, remember?”

“What can they do, though?” Max asked nervously, but she could see the hope as his shoulders relaxed slightly. “I don’t think they’ll be able to just break it if my powers aren’t even able to penetrate the parasites.”

“Max,” Liz whispered slowly, “They have to get us out of here.” Her voice turned desperate. “There’s only a few hours worth of oxygen in here for us to breathe…”

*****

“So you guys havent’ found anything either, huh?” Tess confirmed with Kyle and Alex, who were not exactly looking overjoyed in their digging.

“Nope,” Alex replied, and then, “So, you left Max, Isabel, and Liz to toil by themselves?”

Kyle grinned at the skinny kid who he was actually beginning to like, or was, at least, entertained by. “Yeah, Tess,” he joked, “Can’t take any more dirty work?”

After giving them a dirty look, Tess replied, “Actually, Isabel went to look for some better shoveling equipment a little while ago. I left Max and Liz alone.” Then, as if realizing what she said, Tess shifted awkwardly and asked, “I think I should go back and do some more digging.”

“Sure,” Kyle replied, and Alex opened his mouth to form a snappy reply, but was cut off by the shrill sound of the cell phone Kyle carried. Who would be calling them now? Max, Liz, Isabel, Maria? “Hello?” Kyle asked.

“Kyle, thank god,” Liz’s voice came over the phone, and he noticed she sounded as if she were in a total panic.

“What, what’s wrong?” Kyle demanded, waving off the curious faces Alex and Tess were giving them, and mouthing ‘it’s Liz.’

“Kyle, Max and I found where all the crystals are, but we, um, well, we’re stuck.”

“Stuck?” Kyle once again ignored the looks he was receiving and focused on trying to make out what Liz was saying.

“Yeah, um, they’re sort of in a cave, and we kind of-” Her voice was cut off as he heard her enter into a whispered conversation, which resulted in the phone being given to Max.

“Kyle,” the leader said evenly, “Tell Tess we’re stuck in the hole just left of the one she left us at, where the Gandarian are covering the opening. Grid 35-38, if you can find the clipboard, which is next to the whole, so it won’t do you much help. You all have to come dig us out; I tried to use my powers but they didn’t work. There’s limited oxygen, so we need you here quickly.”

“But why did you guys get stuck-” Kyle began to ask, but Max was in no situation to explain the whole story, especially to someone he loathed like Kyle. He hadn’t always hated the boy who he considered now to be an unwanted addition to their group, but ever since… he couldn’t help but loathe him for getting to do to Liz things he’d only dreamt about.

“Call us as soon as you get here. We need to save power, so I’m hanging up,” Max said curtly, and pressed the power off.

“Yes, your Majesty,” Kyle muttered into the dial tone, and turned to explain what was going on to a frantic Alex and Tess.

*****

When Max pushed the off button on the phone and flipped the lid shut, he glanced at Liz. She was twirling on finger in her hair anxiously and biting her lip, a signature gesture of her anxiousness. “Are they coming?” she questioned, raising scared eyes to Max’s pensive face.

“Yeah,” he replied. “They’ll get us out, Liz, don’t worry,” he tried to reassure both her and himself. She gave him a small smile and a nod, but began to pace the short length of the cave, inspecting the rock face. She was still facing the wall when she began to speak, and Max wasn’t sure if it was to him or simply Liz voicing her thoughts aloud.

“How could they just spread themselves enough to capture us in here, and so quickly?” she pondered. “And what could make them retreat? They’re like Kryptonite to Laurie; does that tell us anything? They probably have a weakness, but what do we know about alien life forms?”

Max couldn’t help answering that question. “Well, I am one,” he offered, expecting the withering look he was sure Liz would give him. He was trying to be light hearted, but Liz simply turned and looked at him.

“I know,” she answered softly. After a beat, she crossed the room and spoke quietly, not looking at him. “This is my fault. I’m really sorry for forcing you to come down here before we got the others, Max. I was just curious, and now we’re stuck and it’s all my fault.”

“No, Liz,” Max rushed to assure Liz he didn’t blame her. “I was as eager as you were, and if I really wanted to get the others, I wouldn’t have let you persuade me otherwise.” He reached out and motioned her to come a little closer, while prompting her to look up at him. “I don’t blame you at all, Liz,” he whispered.

“Thank you,” she returned, “even if I don’t deserve it.” One hand began to reach for him, but she caught herself and returned it stiffly to her side. Max noticed the slight movement and wondered if she pulled back because she thought he didn’t want her touching him, or if she simply didn’t want to touch him. Either way, it hurt him, but he filed it away to the part of him that still felt. Feelings only came to light deep in the night, when he finally admitted the downward spiral his life was in and the current shambled state of his heart. Now, he simply shoved his hands in his pockets and tried to think of something to say.

“Well, I guess we should make ourselves at home while we wait for our rescue.”

*****

“Here it is!” Tess called, as she came upon the hole covered in blue crystals that Max and Liz were apparently stuck in. She knew now she shouldn’t have left them alone; they had a knack for creating crazy situations, it seemed. And as unlikely as it seemed, she didn’t want them getting any insane ideas that they could still be together. Not that she really had to worry about that any more, ever since Liz and Kyle had been together, which was disappointing, really, because she was really beginning to like Kyle. Tess knew her thoughts were all in complete contradiction by being around humans for so long, so she just forced herself not to think about the turmoil inside herself, and focused on the situation at hand. Kyle and Alex rushed over, and mouths got a little loose once they saw the crystal covering.

“Wow,” Kyle said. “So how the heck do we get them out of there? Max,” his face grew a little dark even saying the name, “said his powers didn’t work on them. Would yours?” He grimaced at the talk of powers, still not comfortable with all the “Bewitched Crap” that went on. It wouldn’t be too bad if Tess wrinkled her nose at him like Samantha did in Bewitched, Kyle thought for a second, but then squashed the thought. No matter how much bonding they did, she was still obviously out for Max Evans, for some reason. Kyle, for one, didn’t see the great appeal of Max Evans. He knew Max was considered good looking, but he was such a pansy-ass control freak, and Kyle wasn’t gonna fall to his feet and bow to “King Max” just because he healed him. It was his fault he got shot, anyway.

“Max’s powers are more physical than mine, so it’s very unlikely, but I can give it a try,” Tess answered Kyle’s question belatedly. “Ring them so they know to move back when I try, in case they’re close enough to get hit.”

“Affirmative, Captain,” Alex answered, and before Kyle could dial, the phone was in the lanky boy’s hands. He wanted to talk to Liz anyway, make sure she was gonna be okay, stuck in an enclosed space with the secret object of her affections. Well, it wasn’t really a secret to anyone but Max, but that was the problem.

Liz answered before the second ring could even begin. “Hello?” she asked anxiously.

“Liz, it’s me,” Alex replied, “We found the hole. Look, Tess is gonna try to blast the hole with her powers or whatever, like Max did, just in case, so you guys should probably back up if there’s room.”

“I don’t really think that would work, Alex,” Liz explained, “Max-”

“I know, but it’s worth a try,” Alex interrupted. “You guys shielded?”

“Yeah,” she replied, so Alex motioned for Tess to start, who motioned for Kyle to back away. He nodded and stepped back to where Alex was standing, pressing the phone to his ear, and he watched Tess try to do her thing. She knelt down next to the hole and extended her hand, furrowing her brows in concentration. When nothing happened after a minute, the girl stood back up and shook her head, and Alex fidgeted nervously.

“What’s going on?” Liz’s voice demanded nervously. “It didn’t work, did it?” She sounded resigned, Alex noted, and he sighed.

“Sorry, Liz,” he answered. “She tried her best. Look, you guys are going to have to hang tough while we try to dig you out, okay?”

“But what about the air?” Liz whispered fearfully. Alex tried to calm his rising panic by cracking another of his stupid failed jokes.

“Uh, breath shallow?” he suggested. As predicted, it failed.

“Breath shallow?!” Liz choked. “Oh, thank you.”

“Look, Liz, we gotta start digging. Be brave, Liz. It’s gonna be ok.” And with that, he hung up the phone to begin shoveling them out. He only prayed to god there was enough time.

*****

An hour had passed since the phone call between Liz and Alex, and the two stuck in the cave had sunk to the floor in weariness and worry. They were sitting relatively close to each other, but far enough that they weren’t touching and neither could feel the warmth emanating from the other’s body.

Liz shivered.

Max, who was acutely aware of Liz next to him, yet trying to pretend he wasn’t, noticed immediately. He turned sharply to face Liz and worry was etched on his face as he asked, “Are you cold?” He immediately began to remove his jacket and tried to give it to Liz, but she shook her head at him.

“Max, it’s ok. You must be cold, too; keep your jacket. I’m fine.” Max frowned at her, knowing that she was lying, but didn’t call her on it. Then, he turned to face her.

“Here; come closer, so our body heat will keep each other warm.” He saw the look on Liz’s face and flinched inwardly, but remembered how he had held her the other day in the eraser room and beckoned again. “It’s okay, Liz. Come here.”

Though she tried valiantly, tears refused to stay inside Liz from Max’s sweet gesture, and her lashes grew damp. She didn’t try to hide them; instead, she simply crawled over to Max’s side and leaned into him. His arm went around her in a gesture of comfort, and she closed her eyes, giving up any pretense of strength she was still clinging to and letting Max take care of her. Max’s warmth seeped into her and she had to repress the urge to turn fully to him and hide herself as much within him as she could, and a few more tears formed and fell.

Max must have seen them, because his voice was filled with remorse and Liz could feel his hand clench in its place on her side. “I’m sorry, Liz,” he apologized profusely.

She raised her head to look and him in confusion. “For what, Max?” Her voice was throaty, and so was his as he moved to respond.

“For dragging you into all this again,” he explained. “I know,” he paused painfully, “What you said about wanting to be able to be normal… and I’m just so sorry for forcing you to help us again. You’re in danger so much, because of us, because of me… and it’s all my fault.” Max’s eyes began to burn with unshed tears as he went on, oblivious to how Liz was beginning to cry freely. “And now the whole world could be at risk, and it’s all my fault. I’m supposed to be this big savior, but all I do is screw people’s lives up. I never wanted for this to happen,” he pleaded with Liz to understand. “I never wanted you to get hurt.”

“Oh, Max,” Liz whispered. Her throat was clogged with tears and she drew in breaths unsteadily. “Max, this is not your fault. You… you’ve never made me do anything I didn’t want to; I chose to be a part of this, and I would never just not help you, Michael, Isabel; if you needed me, I’d do it.” She paused and took a ragged breath. “None of this is your fault. Max, you are the most wonderful, kind, brave, beautiful person I’ve ever met. That I ever will meet… You’ve never done anything to hurt anyone. I’m the one, the one who holds you back. If all of this is anyone’s fault, it’s mine. No matter how you look at it.” She let a sob wrack her body, abandoning all the control she’d forced herself to hang by the last months, and let it travel through her painfully. “I’m the one who’s sorry, Max. I’m just so sorry for everything…” As the sobs left her body wading through an ocean of sorrow, she began to talk to herself. “If the world ends again, it will be my fault. And no we can’t stop it… it’s all my fault. He trusted me, and now it’s all going to be over…”

It only became apparent to Liz that Max was listening astutely, and with that his confusion mounting, when he fingers prodded her face to turn up to his lightly, yet insistently. “What are you talking about, Liz?” He whispered painfully. “Please, tell me what you’re talking about.”

3/3

“Max,” Liz moaned, clinging to him desperately as though he was her anchor to reality, “I want to tell you so badly. I don’t even know where to start, or if you’ll even believe me.” The fear in her voice caused a few more tears to burn at Max’s eyes, and he tried to breath in some of the beginning-to-stale air to calm himself. He was finally going to get the truth.

He shifted the girl into his arms and rocked her slowly, knowing that she was crumbling before his eyes. “Liz, I promise I’ll believe you,” he whispered. “You can start anywhere you want, anywhere that would make all the pain I see in your eyes less. Whatever it is, nothing could be worse than how much I can see you’re hurting right now.” Liz trembled but nodded slowly.

“The end of the world could be worse,” she rasped out, but put a shaking finger up to Max’s lips to keep stillborn his reply. “I’ll tell you everything,” she mumbled, “But I just… I don’t know what to say first. It’s so bad, Max. I didn’t want to do it… I didn’t want to listen, and now we’re just going to be where we started, or worse. You can’t even use the granolith now…” Liz’s wide eyes, dilated from the semi-darkness of the cave and emotion, darkened with remembered pain as she tried to regain her composure.

“Start with the most important thing,” suggested Max, trying to keep his mind on task, instead of just forgetting learning what Liz wanted to say and only comforting her. She needed so much healing, by the looks of it, and he’d sacrifice the truth for right now to help her. But they were stuck in the crystal cave, and there might not be a later, so he let her continue.

“Okay.” Liz exhaled and seemed to fade inside herself, until newly brightened eyes looked up at Max, glistening with unshed tears. “I love you.” A tremulous smile broke out across her face, wobbling like it wasn’t sure it belonged there, until she began to speak again. “I love you more than the world, and that’s why I can’t lie to you any more. I’d die for you in a second, Max, no regrets. I don’t want anyone else, because they aren’t you. No one could ever take the place you have in my heart, because you are my heart.” Liz’s voice broke again. “I just love you so much, Max. I don’t deserve you, but I can’t give you up. Not anymore.” She let out a whimpering sound Max never expected to hear from his strong, calm Liz, and she pleaded with him, “Don’t leave me again, Max, please?”

“I won’t, Liz, I promise,” Max assured her, his confused heart swelling nonetheless, but his mind pressed to know the rest of the story. He smoothed a strand of hair back from Liz’s face as to coax her to go on.

“We made love the night of the Gomez concert,” whispered Liz, putting a slender finger upon Max’s lips to silence him. “We, as in you and me. We were inseparable that day forward, and you treated Tess badly because you didn’t have any want or need for her. Then she left, and you realized too late she was integral to your army of four. You complement each other, and without her, you lost, but I’m getting there.” A crooked smile crossed Liz’s face. “We got married in Vegas when we were nineteen, and we danced to I Shall Believe. It was our song. And we were together until Isabel and Michael died, and the world was about to end. So I sent you back in time using the granolith.” She paused to look back into Max’s eyes, which she was avoiding as she told her tale. “That’s why I was scared for you to give it away at the Summit. It’s not supposed to be a time machine, but if it can be, it’s got to be so powerful, Max. Anyway, you traveled back in time, to the night you sang to me, and nearly scared me to death. We had to devise a plan to make you… fall out of love with me, because then you’d be with Tess and she wouldn’t leave. We had to save the world, Max. And now, can’t you see, we lost anyway? And we didn’t even get to be together…”

Chocolate brown eyes met amber with matching looks of sorrow, and Max reached for words to convince Liz everything would be alright. He failed to find them, knowing they very well might not be saved. He knew the truth now, though, and it was all the reason in the world to keep on living. Liz loved him, and she did it all for him. Everything. Why, then, did he feel so cold? Oh, right. It was him who forced her to rip his own heart out. Lucky bastard; he, at least, got to live a long time with his love. “What happened to him, Liz? The, well, me who visited you?”

“He disappeared,” choked Liz in remembrance. “When we changed the future, there was no place to go back to, so he.. vanished. We were having our wedding dance, and then he was just gone.” A stray tear fell from her eyes, meandering from the steady stream, and he brushed it away. Okay, maybe he wasn’t so lucky. And then her words hit him, a little late, perhaps. They’d gotten married. They’d made love to each other, the very night Max resolved to do anything to get Liz back. He felt like the proverbial load of bricks came down on him, and if he wasn’t already sitting down, Max was sure he would have collapsed.

So he did the one thing he hadn’t allowed himself to do since the night he thought everything in his world jumped off the deep end. He cried. But this time, as he sobbed, turning to Liz unashamedly, they were healing tears. And as he pressed his face into her coat, she held him back, so they began to heal together. The murmured professions of love and whispered promises of never letting the other go again were a balm to their weary souls, and from that moment on, both lovers finally accepted that they belonged to each other. Forever. There wouldn’t be any more doubts, and they would weather the consequences together.

After a long period of time that consisted of only the warmth of each other’s bodies and the stickiness of tears being wiped away with small caresses, Max and Liz reluctantly released their grip on each other. Max, however, refused to completely let go of Liz, and kept her hand placed firmly in his. Liz didn’t show any signs of protest. With a sigh, she brought their current situation back up.

“How can we figure out what will cause the crystals to let us go?” Liz asked, and he thanked god she hadn’t pulled a Tess, with a ‘what are we gonna do now, Max?’ “The crystals are parasites, right? That means they’re alive, which tells us they have to subsist on something, right?”

“Yeah,” Max answered, knowing if anyone could figure out how to save them, it would be Liz, and knowing they absolutely had to find a way out of here. Now that he knew the truth, he was going to do anything in his power to make Liz the happiest girl in the world. “They’re obviously spreading without restraint,” he pondered, “so they must be similar to us in some basic ways..”

“Oxygen,” Liz said suddenly. “That’s the most obvious element they would need, just like us. Do you have a bottle or something?”

“A bottle?” Max asked, catching her train of thought. He frowned and reached for his backpack, knowing quite well there was no bottle, but found a plastic bag instead. Concentrating hard, Max willed the plastic to harden and become a container of some sorts that would withstand fire. Liz watched him intently, until he looked from the newly formed structure and into her eyes. Then, her look softened, and she felt the urge to be closer to him like an ache, pulsing through every cell in her body. “One bottle, specially made for killing evil parasites.” His voice was husky, and she knew he’d noticed the look in her eyes.

“We should see if we’re right,” Liz whispered softly, and the thought their lives were still at stake put her back into reality. Her hormones wouldn’t do her any good if never made it out of this hole.

“We should,” Max agreed, and stood carefully so that his knees didn’t give way from sitting too long. He walked over to the crystal-covered wall and, with great difficulty, broke off a piece. He put it into the container and created a flame with his finger onto a scrap piece of paper, and a wave of his hand sealed it shut. They waited with baited breath, until suddenly the contained flew out of Max’s hands from a violent shake. It landed with a dull thud on the ground and the two watched as the crystal bounced erratically, before dulling and dying, or so they hope.

“Wow,” Liz repeated, astounded yet again by these mysterious crystals. “That was impressive, but how do we do that to the whole cave without suffocating ourselves?”

For that question, Max had an answer. “My shield. I’ve experimented with it, and I think that if we have it surround us, the oxygen will keep in time for us to get free.”

Liz nodded slowly. “Okay. So you’re going to put it up and then try to burn this place? Will that work?”

“No.” Max shook his head. I actually think I can suck the oxygen out of the room. I might have done that to test before, but I wouldn’t know how to contain it so small…”

“That sounds safer,” Liz agreed, and when Max beckoned to her she moved to his side. His hand reached for hers, and when their palms met, she felt a shock of electricity pound through her body once again. It was like once she let her feelings back in, every touch, every brush of their bodies against each other left her body humming and wanting more.

“We should touch, just so I make sure my shield envelopes both of us,” Max whispered, his eyes burning into Liz’s. He wanted to touch her all over, so badly. Just their hands weren’t enough.

“Yea,” Liz managed. She stood closely to Max as he built his concentration, and her mouth fell open as she felt the power emanate from his body. The green shield was suddenly surrounding them, sending them into their own private world, but even that sensation was dimmed by the explosion of light from outside their bubble when Max began to suck the oxygen out.

The parasites were obviously not going to take their extermination standing down, and Liz’s eyes hurt and ears heard a dull roar as they were rock with explosions of the crazy crystals. Max could feel his eyes watering and his legs becoming weak as he struggled to hold out, and he was just about to collapse when the fight suddenly ended. His arm dropped and he leaned heavily into Liz, his body filled with relief. The shield dropped away in his tiredness, and they scrambled to the opening as fast as they could. It was open, and Liz almost cried from joy when she saw Alex’s frightened face peaking over the edge.

“Alex!” she cried. Her friend’s grin looked like it would break his face when he saw it was really her, and Alex’s lanky frame didn’t have any problems pulling her from the hole. She enveloped her long time best friend in a suffocating bear hug, before turning back to see Tess and Kyle helping Max out of the hole. She rushed to his side. He gratefully reached for her, ignoring the incredulous looks from the surrounding group, and she turned into Max to make sure they were really safe, and this wasn’t just a product of her deluded imagination. It was real.

“We did it, Max,” she said wonderingly, and Max gave her a rare smile.

“We did,” he nodded hoarsely, his eyes clinging to Liz’s face.

“What did you guys do?” Kyle butted in, but was ignored by both of the newly freed. He wasn’t an idiot; the matching looks on Max and Liz’s faces told him exactly what had been revealed down in the cave. About time, he thought.

“C’mon, Tess,” he said, and led her insistently away to the car with the shovels, gesturing to Alex as he went. “They’ll catch up.” His “favorite martian” allowed herself to be led away, though the look on her face did not match Alex’s pleased one in the least.

And still, Max and Liz hadn’t looked away from each other.

“We made it.” Max smiled.

“We did.” Liz smiled back and studied Max’s face, wondering what he was thinking. “I think this happened for a reason,” Liz whispered. “I’m ready to embrace the fact that we’re meant to be together, Max. No more running.”

“No,” Max agreed, reaching for her, and as their lips met, no more words were needed. Between them now were only love and the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

FIN



"It may sound absurd...But don't be naive/ Even heroes have the right to bleed/ I may be disturbed/ But won't you concede/ Even heroes have the right to dream." (Superman, Five for Flying)
posted on 18-Sep-2001 6:23:49 PM


E-mail: Realspacecadet7⊕aol.com
Rating: PG-13, I guess. I’ll change if needed.

Spoilers/Summary: AU. Features all the characters, though mainly Max, Liz, and Tess. (Don’t click back yet… lol.) Tess’s character is developed as my interpretation of what she would be like without destiny as her crutch allows. I see her as a woman in charge of her own destiny; excuse the bad pun. The group are in college and there are the aliens, but there is minimal science fiction. The story focuses on the pressures of society and how even as we as a race may mature, there’s always… ethnocentrism and prejudice, I suppose. Conventional couples are featured, though it’s mostly Max and Liz in the romance department. The alien situation is explained in the prologue.

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything; I’m just borrowing the characters for a little while.

Note: This is the first fan-fiction I’ve attempted to write since a long time and much frustration ago, though writing is a big part of my life. Feedback, suggestions, etc. would be appreciated.

This is the song that inspired the big dreamer part of the story (it probably won’t make all that much sense with the beginning, but hang in there):

(’Nsync, Could It Be You?)

Could it be you?
I've been searching so hard to find
Tell me how could I have been so blind
You were here all the time
(You were here all the time)
Could it be you?

You never looked as good to me
As you look tonight, oh yeah
It's like I've seen you for the first time
Through a lover's eyes
How could it be that I never knew?
It's always been you that I've been looking for
You were always right here by my side, oh yeah

Could it be you?
I've been searching so hard to find
Tell me how could I have been so blind
You were here all the time, oh yeah
Could it be you?
The girl I've always had dreams about
The one I just can't live without
Is it so? Tell me now
(Please tell me)
Could it be you?

Could you imagine what it's like?
To always live without love
I need to have you in my life
I think I know that now
My open heart will make you a part
A part of this love I've been keeping
And I might just give it all to you, oh

Could it be you?
I've been searching so hard to find
Tell me how could I have been so blind
You were here all the time
Could it be you?
The girl I've always had dreams about
The one I just can't live without
Is it so? Tell me now

Every girl I meet
Though they might be sweet
They can't compare to you
So I search no more
Cause what I've been looking for
I know I've found in you

Could it be you?
I've been searching so hard to find
Tell me how could I have been so blind
You were here all the time
Could it be you?
The girl I've always had dreams about
The one I just can't live without
Is it so? Tell me now
Could it be you?

(Prologue) Absence of humanity.

Humans were not a species unlike any other. They evolved, they matured, they looked back on past misconceptions and mistakes and blamed it on their ancestor’s lack of solid knowledge. The human race, which once believed it resided in the center of the universe, saw their flaws and allowed them to leak out, in strange fragments and fuzzy figures into literature, and later entertainment. Frankenstein. Monsters. Dracula. Werewolves. The Creature from the Black Lagoon. All humanoid groupings, their inhumanity stemming from the inflation of the traits humans themselves carry within them.

And, of course, aliens. The concepts of beings from another planet that were sentient and had the capability to interact with the human race held an allure that no other earth-bound creature could top. Somehow, the idea of extraterrestrials and little green men became woven inextricably, until they were held as one and the same. Blossoming scientists devoted their lives to searching for the truth, while the glittering exaggerations that flower from Hollywood warped cinema-goers perspectives of alien life. It wasn’t long before people believed if aliens did land on earth, they’d hop out of their space ships in silver suits, pull out fancy ray guns, and demand witnesses ‘take them to their leader.’

In general, the motives for the alien’s arrival were evil, or conversely, desperate. They wanted to take over the world or their planet was on the brink of destruction: why they chose Earth was a mystery. Few and far between were the ideas that a new race which didn’t look like humans wearing fur and putty could venture to the niche where earth resided, in search only of intergalactic companions. And maybe, intentions that pure were not so, but when contact was established, it was closer than the rest of the preconceived notions of other life-forms.

They came in the middle of day, yet their arrival was not punctuated with so much as a blip on a radar screen. Space travel as enormous as what they had accomplished would not allow them to be hindered by simple human cloaking disablers. It was child’s play to them what was the peak of human technology, yet that was not why they saw themselves superior to the human race. Quite the contrary- to them, what was seen as a bad case of evolutionary growth had an innocence to it that was endearing. Instead, it was the ways that came with society and civilization that perturbed them, as they had moved beyond that in the distant past.

Their planet was no longer an obstacle, nor was their way of life. They sought a challenge, and what better place to find it than an unbridled planet with a race of intelligent, if technologically backwards, people. On their planet, they gave up the hindrances of bodily actions when there were no longer uses for them, but earth was definitely not to that point. Before their journey, which was preceded by years of intense study with machinery, observing earth from a far-off viewpoint, they used their sciences to duplicate what seemed the dominant species and bring themselves into new life. The travelers wished to go to earth, and bring so much to the humans. In exchange, all they wanted was to live among them, yet not side by side. With the invocation of the human bodies, people who had once risen above petty judgments suddenly found themselves faced with the problems that come from the war between brain and heart. Perhaps they hadn’t expected what did occur, but humans saw and recognized it as another cycle in what would be history, and some were held by the conviction they were receiving only what they had dealt.

Yes, human and visitor lived in a peaceful coexistence, but they were not wholly integrated. With the landing of their space travel vehicles, the extraterrestrials abandoned their old lifestyle and welcomed the new, but many did not drop their views of the human race as inferior. Because of the small fact that the aliens could eliminate the earth with the drop of a hat, humans saw they were in no position to object to the society that was forming. It was eerily reminiscent of the post civil-war era, and as that situation did improve, so did the new one. Eventually, give or take a few unspoken, yet universally known beliefs, there was close to equality. As there is in any society of interacting beings, there were the disgruntled, the unhappy, and the rebels, but it was no different from remembered times when humans were the top of the evolutionary ladder.

Life went on; people laughed, infants cried, death brought the strongest of men and not-quite-men alike to their knees. Yet there was always the distinction between where the blood that flowed through one’s veins came from, and that could make all the difference.


(Part One) Waiting.

The seconds on the clock interface seemed to stretch on for hours to Liz as she willed the door to her apartment to open. It was half past eleven, and Max had not yet returned from his date. Neither had Tess, but Liz wasn’t surprised about that small fact. Her blond, vivacious roommate frequently went out and didn’t come back until the wee hours of the morning, but that was as much a part of Tess as her quirky accent. Max, on the other hand, was always home in good time to discuss the latest failed date with Liz before they had to go back to studying, or until they were falling asleep from sheer exhaustion. Liz was once again dateless. It wasn’t as though she couldn’t have been on a date, but nevertheless, she wasn’t.

An irrational pang of fear coursed through Liz as she imagined Max might actually be enjoying his company that night, and suddenly visions of him coming home, a girl on his arm, tortured her. Every time he went out and she was at home, she waited for him to give her the debriefing upon his return. He did the same for her, though it was done much less frequently. Liz didn’t know what she would do if he came home one night and the only thing he had to groan about was how long he had to wait until the next date. That would just kill her inside.

And he could never know that she was in love with him; he could never know she wanted to be the girl he searched for on all those disastrous dates.

Liz, Max, and Tess had been living with each other for a little over a year. To escape the crazy dorm life, the three college students joined together and bought themselves a modest apartment in their university town. They were an unlikely trio; two aliens, one human, two girls, one guy, three completely different backgrounds. The only things they really had in common on the surface were their majors; they were all medical students. In her childhood years, Liz had displayed a big interest in biology, but as the end of high school drew near, she shifted her focus. Liz and Tess were roommates their freshman year and bonded quickly, their differences in opinions and habits only serving to attract them to each other more. Liz and Max first met at a tour during their senior year in high school, set apart from the rest of the group by their parentless situations. Both teens went to the tour alone because their parents were booked up to the hilt with their businesses, and they found comfort in each other. Upon discovering they shared several classes the next fall, their bond of friendship grew, and for Liz it became so much more. Through Liz, Tess and Max were acquainted and hit it off wonderfully. It was sort of strange that a human girl would bring two of the visitors together, but Liz did. And even stranger was the fact that her two closest friends were aliens, but they didn’t even seem to acknowledge their differences most of the time.

Some of the students while they’d still been living back in the dorms requested to be put with the same species, and that was how Liz knew the differences between their two people carried on into even college life. For the humans, she’s overheard some were bothered by the powers the others possessed, or even afraid. And the aliens- well, some of them, not including Max and Tess, believed themselves to be better than those indigenous to the planet. Whatever the reasons, though, Liz didn’t believe they were creditable at all. She understood there were rules and practices everyone followed that would ensure the peace between the two races, but that didn’t include any barriers on friendship. So there she was, living with her two best friends, and it didn’t matter if maybe their blood was different than hers at all.

Suddenly, the door elicited a whooshing sound as it swung open. Liz’s eyes were drawn immediately to Max, who was looking especially perfect if not a little tired.

“Hey, Liz,” he said with a smile, hanging his leather jacket on the hook and making his way over to their couch. He plopped down unceremoniously and gave her a half-grin. “So, do we have ice cream?”

“That bad?” Liz laughed, knowing when he wanted to have a junk-food fest things had not gone well. “Don’t worry, Max, sit down and tell your patient, insightful, brilliant psychologist your woes. And if I deem them worthy, we can have ice cream. Vanilla, though, cause I threatened Tess if she didn’t pick it out on her supermarket run I’d steal her hair dye.” Max chuckled and clasped his hands behind his neck, sighing comfortably.

“I’m sure that gave her some motivation,” he agreed. “Ok, doctor, let me unload onto you my troubles. You see, I’m searching for my other half, yet my date probably needed to find her other… quarter before we even go there.”

“How’d you ask her out?” Liz inquired, even though almost all of Max’s dates came from the girls who fell all over him in his classes. Of course, the only ones who displayed their appreciation for his perfection were the ones like him.

“She’s in my psych class, actually. Now I understand why she never contributes to our discussions. Liz, she was a perfectly nice girl, just nothing inside the blond head of hers. Did I ever tell you I like brunettes better than blonds? Remind me of that next time I go out. Hey, speaking of empty headed blondes,” he joked, “where’s our roommate now?”

“Three guesses,” Liz smiled at him, then leaned over to pick a piece of fuzz off his shirt.

“Let me see,” Max kidded, playing along when he noticed Liz’s teasing smile. “Could she be . . . studying?”

“Nope.”

“Working?” Max asked, knowing quite well Tess was among the ranks of the unemployed.

“Oh, wrong again, Mr. Evans. Only one more guess; what could it be?”

“Darn, I was so sure it was one of those two, but if you’re sure it isn’t, I’ll believe you. Could it be that she’s on a date? Our Tess?”

“How’d you guess?” They both looked at each other, serious expressions on their faces, until they broke into hysterical laughter. “If I wasn’t flat broke, I’d give you a prize,” Liz told him. They were both aware, of course, of Tess’ dating records. She seemed to have the same track record on going out with the same person as Max, except she had no good excuses to back hers up. She wasn’t looking for the “one,” like Max was; she was just out to be a college student, probably get dead drunk, and have a little funny. It wasn’t even a secret among their circle of acquaintances that Tess had a thing for Max; everyone seemed to know except Max himself. Liz supposed you wouldn’t know if Tess liked you or not by her flirting, because she did it with everyone, but she didn’t even attempt to keep her lusting for her gorgeous roommate under wraps. Liz only wished she could have that luxury. She wanted to unload on someone, whether it be Tess or another friend on campus or her best friend Maria who lived halfway across the country, she just wanted to tell someone all the things she loved about Max.

She couldn’t, though. Alien-human relationships were not only socially unacceptable, but disastrous. There were so many things that could go wrong, and Liz didn’t even want to chance losing her friendship with Max. She could tell him everything, from her fears about an upcoming exam to how much she missed her grandmother.

“So, Max, tell me more about your wonderful night out,” she coaxed, batting her eyelashes adoringly at him.

“Sure,” he sighed. “There isn’t much to tell. I took her out to dinner and then we went to the astrology tower, because she told me she liked stars. How was I supposed to know when she said that, she meant celebrities?” he demanded. Liz couldn’t help herself; the look on his face coupled with the picture Liz could form in her head made her throw her head back with laughter until she was gasping for breath.

“Sorry, roomie,” she wheezed, between her guffaws. “I can just see that happening to you, Max. You have, like, the worst luck with girls. I don’t understand it; practically half the campus is falling over your feet and you can’t get a decent date.”

“I know,” he agreed emphatically, then paused to process her words. “Wait, I do not have half the campus falling at my feet, Liz. I know you’re my shrink, but that doesn’t mean you should try to increase the size of my ego.”

“Would that be so terrible?” Liz asked innocently, but then her tone turned more serious. “You are a beautiful person, Max, and you only deserve the best. Don’t think you’re something less than you are.”

When he met her sincere eyes, he smiled back at her softly. “Maybe you should take your own advice Liz. I haven’t seen you on a date in a while.”

“I’m not just talking about dating Max,” she bantered back. “Besides, if I want to go out, I’ll go out, Mr. Social Caterpillar. You just need to come out of your chrysalis . . . and I know you’ll find your soul mate.”

“Do you?” he asked her hopefully, eyes filled with the dreams that made him so unique from any other boy she’d ever known.

“I do,” she affirmed, then allowed a yawn she felt building in her throat to come out more exaggerated than it should have been. “Gosh, I’m tired,” she announced, stretching, and extracted herself from the sagging cushions of their couch. “Time for me to go to bed. Don’t count on waiting up for Tess.”

“I wasn’t,” he smirked. “Thanks, Liz. I can always count on you to make me feel better after disaster strikes.”

“The pleasure’s all mine, Max,” Liz replied, and then they retired for their separate rooms, for another lonely night. Liz perched on her bed, not yet ready to go to sleep so she painted her nails. She did believe that eventually, Max would, in fact, find his other half. And it would probably hurt, she admitted to herself, and I would probably be jealous. She wished she could be his other half, his soul mate, the person that would turn the faraway look in his eyes to something bright and clear and passionate.

Only in my dreams, she thought groggily, climbing under the covers while carefully not pressing her hands against anything too hard. Only in my dreams…

(Part Two) Telephone conversation.

The phone was ringing insistently, but Liz didn’t want to crawl out of bed to answer it. She was so comfortable, lying underneath her warm sheets, halfway between wake and sleep. This was, perhaps, the most enjoyable part of the day for Liz. Although she loved her life and the learning she did with all her heart, there seemed nothing better than those few moments where you felt warm, protected, and safe, snuggled between soft pillows. Maybe the only thing better to have would be someone’s warm skin beside you in the bed, knowing you would wake up like that for many mornings to come.

Whoever was calling didn’t want to give up; the phone was ringing for about the tenth time or so. Then, finally, it stopped. Liz sighed in contentment and closed her eyes once more, but was rudely jerked away from her dream world when she heard knocking on her door.

“Liz,” Max called. “Phone’s for you.”

She attempted to answer, “So?” but the words were lost somewhere between her mouth and the pillow that it was buried into. Max, apparently catching the gist but not about to take no as an answer, pulled her door open and strode into the room.

“It’s Maria, Liz,” he sighed impatiently. “She wants to talk to you.”

“Tell her to call back later, Max,” Liz groaned. “It’s too early and I’m tired.”

“Liz,” Max said incredulously, “It’s almost half past eleven; I was going to wake you up earlier but Tess said if you were actually sleeping past her, I should leave you alone.” He said gingerly on the bed and gave a little bounce.

“I still don’t wanna get up,” Liz told him. Max sighed and brought the phone back to his ear.

“Maria- yes, she is. But- fine,” Max sighed. “Maria says that unless you have a hot guy in your bed-” Liz pulled the covers from over her head and looked sleepily at Max.

“Care to join me?” Max sighed and rolled his eyes at her.

“Unless you have a hot guy in your bed and he’s naked-”

“Well, get stripping,” Liz shrugged, batting her eyelashes at him and managing to look totally innocent.

“You wish,” Max joked. “Anyway, if you would’ve let me finish, Maria said unless that’s happening, next time she visits she’ll kick your butt and hit me over the head with a newspaper.” With one last groan, Liz finally kicked off the covers and focused in on Max.

“Oh, fine. If she’s going to threaten to use the inherited torture methods of Amy Deluca and her newspaper smacking ways, I guess I have to save you.”

“Oh, Liz,” Max said in a high-pitched voice. “You’re my hero.” She giggled at him and reached for the phone. He handed it over gratefully and got up from the bed, smiling lightly at Liz before leaving the room and closing the door behind him.

“So, Maria,” Liz asked, “What was so desperate that you had to threaten Max to get me on the phone?”

“Liz,” Maria’s voice came over the line, “You’ll never believe what happened to me last night!”

“Let me guess. You went out and partied like it was nineteen-ninety-nine and got drunk. Wait, you don’t sound like you have a hangover, so forget the last part.” Liz flopped her head back on the pillow and wondered why she’d slept so late. It wasn’t like she had somewhere to be this Saturday, but it wasn’t like her to sleep so late, especially since she hadn’t done anything last night. Maybe she’s had some good dreams…

“Well, yeah, I went to a party. But the most amazing part was that I met this guy! Liz, it was so amazing…” Liz grew still suddenly and her attention was brought back to the current phone conversation she was having.

“Maria! You didn’t…?”

“No, no!” Maria reassured. “I was just at the this party and suddenly I see this wild-looking guy burning holes in my head from across the room. Of course, I went up to introduce myself and we ended up going outside. Turns out this guy was just passing through and visiting a friend, but we ended up talking art and music and I’ve never felt something so intense with anyone else before in my life.”

“Sounds like you had a hell of a better time than I did last night,” Liz said. “I’m really happy for you, Maria. Did you guys make plans to meet again or something?”

Maria’s happy tone suddenly grew flat. “No, actually. Michael was only staying the night and then he had to leave. He dropped me his e-mail, though, so I guess we might keep in touch. So, no hot date for you last night, huh?”

“Nope, not even close,” Liz replied. “The highlight of my evening was discussing Max’s date with him when he got home.”

“Ouch,” Maria sympathized. “Any dates at all lately, Liz? I mean, guys always liked you at high school…you’re smart, pretty, and nice.”

“Thanks, Maria. It’s not that I couldn’t get any dates, I guess, I just think that Max’s quest for his perfect woman is affecting me. I mean, he’s trying to find this ideal love so badly, it makes me rethink it every time I think about going out with someone I know I don’t want to be with forever.”

“If it’s his fault you’re not getting any action, maybe I should still smack him over the head with a newspaper when I visit. Just because the boy is way too mature for his years doesn’t mean he should bring you into his Czechoslovakian clutches…” Liz laughed, still finding it funny that Maria called the others Czechoslovakians, a term she adopted some time in junior high. It never failed to give Liz a laugh.

“Maria, Max isn’t trying to make me be like him or anything.”

“Ok, then. What about that guy you told me you were interested in? The guy in some of your classes who you were friends with or something? You practically admitted you were in love with him,” Maria hedged. Liz sighed; Maria had always been known with getting herself a little too involved with Liz’s love life, or right now, lack of one. Of course, the guy she was talking about was Max; Liz had spilled her guts to Maria one lonely night, but conveniently left out the detail the guy was her very own Czechoslovakian roommate.

“It could never work out, you know?” Liz told her friend, attempting to end the discussion.

“Why not?” Maria asked.

“Maria, he’s just so different than me, and I know there’s not even a chance he likes me anyway. He’s so much more than just a normal guy; a girl like me isn’t the kind of person he’d want. He deserves someone so much better, plus, I wouldn’t want to ruin our friendship. If I told him how I felt and he didn’t feel the same way, which I know he doesn’t, it would be so awkward between us. I can’t risk that.”

“But what if he felt the same way about you and he was just afraid of the same things you are? You guys would never have a chance to find that something special because you were hesitant of taking a risk.” Liz sighed; she knew Maria wouldn’t be acting like this if she knew the object of Liz’s affection was not her own species. Maria, although she had no problem with friendships between humans and ‘Czechs,’ had strong opinions about things beyond that. She’d even told Liz she found it strange that out of all the people Liz could be living with, she was residing with two of the Czechs.

Maria was one of the people, more at her mother’s request than anything else, who had even asked to be put with a roommate of the same species when she began college. Some students had a preference with who they had to live with, though Liz thought it was a bad idea to allow the entire practice. It encouraged people emphasize the differences between the two people’s on Earth. Some of the humans requested to not be with Czechs because they were scared of their powers or something else completely horrible like that, and Liz disapproved immensely.

“He doesn’t feel the same way about me as I feel for him, Maria, believe me. We’ll never be anything more than that. Now, anyway, how’s Alex and the band?” Liz tried again to change the subject, knowing perfectly well it wouldn’t work unless Maria would let it go, but she did.

“Oh, it’s going well. Alex burned a new CD the other day with a mix of my song choices and the band’s choices as well, and he’s going to send it around looking for people who might be interested.”

“That’s great,” Liz exclaimed, and the two proceeded to catch up on every other detail in each other’s life. Liz knew she must be running up Maria’s phone bill a lot, but decided that Maria called her, so she could be the one to hang up. When noon rolled around, Maria told Liz she’s promised to meet a friend for lunch and the two exchanged their goodbyes and promises to talk soon. “Love you, Ria,” Liz ended.

“You too, babe.” The phone clicked in Liz’s ear, and she got up reluctantly to make her bed and tidy her room. While she was inspecting a suspicious ding on her desk, Max knocked on the door and poked his head in the room.

“You off the phone?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she answered, taking in his worn jeans and messy hair approvingly. “Why?”

“Oh, I just wanted to know if you wanted to go grab some lunch. Seems like Tess forgot a lot of the food on her supermarket run, so we could stop on the way back and pick up what we need.”

Liz grinned at him. “Sure, but Max, we are gonna have a talk with our roomie next time we see her. She needs to learn that living with two control freaks doesn’t allow her to slack off in her grocery-buying duties.”

“Hey, are you calling me a control freak?” Max asked, feigning indignation. Liz pushed him lightly on his shoulder and started to walk out of the room.

“That I am, Max,” she replied. “And don’t deny it. I’ve never met another guy who has to label the slots you put your toothbrush in so we don’t mix them up. Give it up; I know your game,” she laughed. Max tried to glare at her, but failed miserable and started chucking against his will.

“You’ve got me there,” he admitted. “Come on, let’s go grab some lunch.”

(Part Three) Groceries and Gambling

It was a balmy winter day out, one that hinted at the soft comings of spring even though it was only late January, and Liz breathed in a deep breath of fresh air. Max looked at her and they exchanged a half smile before approaching his jeep. Their first year at college, when they lived on campus, students weren’t allowed to have vehicles. Liz remembered Max complaining daily about missing ‘Bob’; she was quite surprised when she found out whom she’d though was a friend was Max’s trusty automobile. When they’d all decided to live with each other, much to Liz’s delight, Max gave both her and Tess borrowing rights to it.

Liz hopped into the passenger seat as Max inserted the keys and leaned back into the leather. “So, where are we going?” she asked. Max looked over at her and shrugged.

“What’s near the grocery store?” He reached into his pocket and took out his wallet, grimacing at how thin it was. “I’m kinda short on cash, too; I haven’t been able to work that many hours with all the stuff we’ve had to do with school.” He shrugged resignedly and let out a small chuckle. “College life. Can’t live with it; can’t live without it.”

Liz nodded and furrowed her brows in thought. “I’m not exactly rich now either, so why don’t we just go pick up the food and make something at home? It’s healthier and less expensive anyway.”

“Okay,” Max agreed, “But you should know from past experience that I’m not much of a cook.”

“I’m sure we’ll figure something out,” Liz laughed, knowing she and Maria had experienced many a cooking disaster in their younger years.

“Okay, so we’ve got Life,” Max made a face, “a loaf of bread, yogurt, apples, some more Tabasco sauce, garbage bags, orange juice, turkey, frozen French fries, M&M’s, and ice cream. Are you sure we can’t get Lucky Charms or some good cereals, Liz? Please? Corn Pops or something?”

Liz sighed. “No, Max,” she told him, “I don’t like starting the day with my daily amount of teeth-rotting food, if you don’t mind, and I know Tess won’t either. Beside, can you taste the difference with all the Tabasco anyway?”

“Of course you can taste the difference,” Max grumbled half-heartedly, knowing perfectly well you probably couldn’t. “But Life, Liz? The ‘hey, Mikey cereal? We’re not in elementary school.”

Liz nudged Max in his side. “It’s healthy, Mr. Evans. Besides, you wouldn’t want to let that wonderful body of yours go to waste, would you?” Max turned red at Liz’s comment and she laughed inwardly. In all the years she’d known him, Max could never take a compliment. He was possibly the shyest guy she’d ever met, and it was really endearing. “C’mon, let’s go check out. Just hope we have enough cash, because I really don’t need to use my card any more this month.”

“Shouldn’t we be splitting this with Tess, anyway?” Max asked, frowning slightly at the thought of their irresponsible yet endearing roommate. When he’d first met her, he’d been put off by how straightforward she was, but when he got to know her she became a great friend. She was stable, though not in the same way Liz was, and she stood up for what she believed in all the time. He admired her strength and zest for life, but sometimes it got in the way of remembering she lived with two people and had responsibilities.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Liz replied. “Where is Tess, by the way?”

“I think she said she had to go meet some lab partner, or something,” Max answered, but he clearly remembered the extra flush in her cheeks before she’d taken off that morning. “I believe she’s found an interest in something other than her school work, for a change,” he joked.

“Oh, really?” Liz bantered back. “She’s found someone else to focus her attention on than you?” Max flushed again and shook his head at Liz as they approached the checkout counter. Almost since when they’d moved in with each other, Liz told him that Tess was interested in him. He didn’t believe her, but Liz insisted any idiot could tell, and besides, Tess told her anyway. Even though Liz said that, Max didn’t think much of it if it were true, because Tess was just that sort of person. It wasn’t like she tried to seduce him or anything, so he found no problems continuing their easy friendship. He had no romantic interest in her, either. She was pretty enough, he supposed, but he had a softer spot for quieter, more soulful, people. He preferred brown eyes and brunettes and girls who shared his interests but wouldn’t be scared to disagree with him.

A girl like Liz, he realized with a sudden start. His momentary freezing caught Liz’s attention and she gave him a curious look, but he just shook his head on put the rest of the groceries on the moving platform. Liz was his roommate, his human roommate, and he didn’t have feelings for her. Well, feelings that were anything more than a wonderful friendship, he corrected himself. Even in his childhood, Max never had a friend he felt as comfortable with as Liz. His standard best friend, Michael, was always there for him, but Max told so many things to Liz he would never think of telling now. With her, he wasn’t afraid to say what he felt, and she never berated his opinions or came down on him, like Michael would have.

She didn’t even make fun of him for his quest to find his perfect match; Michael, on the other hand, made fun of at every turn. For as long as he could remember, Max had felt this urge to fill up what felt like something missing inside himself. The thing with his species, unlike humans, was that they, well, mated for life. He really didn’t know why they’d been designed that way, but they were. There was something in their chemistry that was triggered by sex, to put it bluntly, and it only happened once. Once it happened, you couldn’t be with anyone else to have children, and he wasn’t sure about the extent of the rest of it. It baffled him how that was possible, but it was the truth. It solved the problem of most of their teens having sex, though, he thought with a wry grin. When people are confronted with the fact that the first person they’re with would pretty much be their match for the rest of their life, they were a lot more careful about their actions.

And since college was the place where a good amount of people got into serious relationships, it was when Max started to date. In high school, he’d gone out with less than a handful of girls, not because he couldn’t get a date, but because he’d grown up with all the girls, known high school relationships almost never lasted, and felt intrinsically that what he was searching for was not contained in those high school walls. So he’d gotten to college, fought his way out of his shy shell, partially, at least, and started going out with girls. So far, nothing had really gone too well. Most of his dates ended in him coming home to Liz and provided her with the gory details. He was beginning to think he was cursed, but Liz told him it was because he was trying too hard. Maybe she was right; maybe the girl he was looking for was right under his nose, and all his searching was a complete waste. Then again, he didn’t even know what he was looking for anyway, so what did he know?

In his dreams, Max always felt that when he met his other half, he’d feel it. Maybe it would be when they locked gazes, or touched, or even kissed, but he believed in a somewhat naïve way that he’d be able to tell. Either he was reaching for something that was never going to happen, which was most likely, or he just hadn’t found his dream girl yet.

“Max, Max,” Liz’s voice jarred him out of his train of thought, “Max, there are no more groceries in the cart…” He looked down and realized everything was being scanned, yet he was reaching inside the basket to remove more items.

“Oh,” he muttered, and stepped aside. He didn’t look at Liz until they grabbed the grocery bags and headed outside to get back in the car.

“What was that, Max?” she inquired. “You totally spaced out in there. Thinking deep thoughts?”

“Yeah,” he answered. “I’m hungry. Let’s go back to the apartment before I pass out from starvation.” Liz rolled her eyes at him.

“Doesn’t matter what species guys are,” he heard her mutter, “all they think about is food and sex.”

“What was that?” he prompted, raising an eyebrow at her.

“Nothing, Max,” was her light reply, and she flicked the radio on with a smile, so that they could simply relax on the way home.
____________

“I’ll meet your two green M&M’s and raise you an orange one,” Max told Liz, eyeing her poker face carefully. They were playing cards, their plates pushed to the side of the table, and they were using the little candies as the betting means. After eating some easy to make sandwiches, Liz announced she didn’t feel like doing anything productive, so they should play a game. The only thing available was a deck of cards, so Max suggested poker. He knew he had a great poker face, but what he didn’t know was that Liz’s could easily rival his. The only thing that gave either of them away was their eyes, so they just disallowed their gazes to meet. She had really expressive eyes. . .

“Fine. I meet your orange. Show me the cards, Max,” she taunted. He gazed at her steadily and slowly, letting the suspense build, revealed his hand.

“Full house,” he announced. “Three eights with the deuce and two sixes. Can ya beat that, Parker?”

“Damn,” she sighed, looking defeated. He felt his mouth turn up in a winning gesture, but then she spoke again. “I’ve got four of a kind,” she crowed triumphantly. “Looks like I win. Again.”

“You’re kidding!” he groaned, throwing his cards on the table in disgust. “You’re killing me here, Liz.”

“It’s a good thing we’re only playing for M&M’s then, isn’t it,” she teased. “Not like it’s strip poker or anything.” Before Max could answer, sounds suddenly came from outside the hall, and Tess crashed through the door.

“Did I hear something about strip poker?” she asked devilishly, looking appraisingly at Max and Liz.

“Yeah,” Liz replied. “I was just telling Max it was a good thing we were only playing for candy, cause otherwise he’d be in all his glory by now.” As it was probably intended, Max yet again turned red.

Tess laughed at Max’s discomfort and slid into a chair. “Interesting way to spend your afternoon, especially after sleeping half the day away. So, was there a prize to the winner?”

A gleam entered Max’s eyes, and before Liz could respond, Max spoke up. “Actually, there was. We were playing for rights to kick your butt for forgetting to pick up half the stuff at the grocery store. Looks like Liz won.”

“Funny,” Tess responded, looking vaguely uncomfortable. “Yeah, sorry about that. I sort of lost the list and couldn’t remember what to get. I’ll try to not forget again?”

“You better,” Liz intoned. “We know where you live.” And then she and Max promptly burst into fits of laughter, while Tess looked at them, her face amused.

“You guys are nuts,” she laughed, heading to her room.

“Oh, but Tess,” Liz called from behind her. “You have to do next week’s as punishment.” Tess only closed the door behind her in response.

(Part Four) One Week

"What's the worst day of the week that gets us all depressed? M-o-n-d-a-y s-u-c-k-s. Here comes more aggravation and a brand new week of stress, M-o-n-d-a-y s-u-c-k-s. Monday sucks, Monday sucks, forever will it make us want to cry, cry, cry, cry so come along and sing this song and get it off your chest. M-o-n-d-a-y s--u--c--k--s."

Max smirked. "Did Tess forget to take her daily dose of Ritalin this morning?" he enquired of Liz, jerking his thumb in the direction on the bathroom. Their crazy roommate had forgotten to turn the fan on and she's been singing extra loud, so their breakfasting selves were being treated to a live performance. It was too bad another one of the few things they had in common was the fact that none of them could carry a tune- or so he thought. Liz said he had a great voice, and that hers was too low, but he didn't agree with either statement. Whether they could sing wasn't important anyway- it was important that Tess get herself out of the bathroom so the two of them could put away their Life (Liz still insisted on buying that crap, and Tess agreed with her) and brush their teeth. At this rate, they'd never get to class.

"I guess so," Liz answered belatedly, shaking herself out of a daze and smiling at Max. "You know, for such a *sad* song, she sure does sound cheerful."

"Liz, it's a Mickey Mouse Club parody," shrugged Max. "They don't *do* sad." He grinned at her and picked up his bowl swirling around the pink-tinted milk that was left in it, and he didn't miss Liz's grimace when she glanced inside. She didn't have a problem with them pouring liberal amount of Tabasco on their food, yet it freaked her out when they mixed it with liquids, especially milk. How odd. She didn't know what she was missing, anyway.

"How true." She paused. "Max, how many classes do you have today?" Her brown eyes looked appraisingly into his, and he was sucked into their depths for a moment.

"Um," he faltered. "Since, uh, midterms changed some scheduling, I just have morning classes today. I'll finish at," he consulted the ceiling thoughtfully. "Noon. Why?"

Liz shrugged noncommittally, and then made an impulsive decision. "I only have classes until around then too. Let's do something."

"Something? Like what?" he asked. He didn't mind not doing serious stuff (his brain was overloaded as it was), but he was curious what she had in mind. There wasn’t all that much to do in the town, and they really never went that far away from campus. Liz didn't reply at first and simply looked at him, as though she was trying to make an important decision. Apparently, she came to one, because she straightened her head and smiled at him.

"I want to show you something; a place, actually. It's. . . really special, and I think you'll like it. Would you come with me?" When she asked him like that, with that tone and those eyes looking at him pitifully, he couldn't refuse even if he'd wanted to. Which he didn't.

"Sure. Where shall we meet?" Liz opened her mouth to answer, but then:

"Who's meeting who where?" Tess asked, striding toward them with the hair dryer dangling from her hands. "What did I miss?" Suddenly, Max had the fleeting desire to shove her back in the shower. For some reason, it felt like she'd interrupted something; it felt like there had been currents in the room until she walked in. He shook his head to clear his thoughts.

"Nothing important," Liz supplied. "Max and I are just gonna grab lunch today 'cause we only have morning classes and all, you know?"

"Oh," Tess looked disappointed. "I'd join you, but I don't have that luxury today. Give me a rain check, though, would you?" she said playfully.

"Sure," answered Liz easily, but couldn't help observe that she looked relieved, like she was glad Tess couldn't come.
_________

Tap. Drum. Roll. Tap, drum, roll. Tapdrumroll. Max shifted impatiently as he waited for class to end. When the clock finally, blissfully, rolled around to signify the end of the period, he was up in seconds. All morning, he'd been waiting for the morning to be over so he could find out where it was that he and Liz were going to go.

It was so strange; Max was never the type to be impatient, especially about things like surprises. Conversely, he was always the guy who had no problem waiting 'til it was his birthday or Christmas to open his presents. The way he saw it, the later you opened them, the longer they'd last. This time, however, all he could think about was getting away to wherever it was they were going to go.

And Liz.

A crazy idea had entered his head in the middle of ethics, so fleeting, yet so intense that it still made him shiver, in a good way, when he thought about it. His mind had conjured an image of Liz's face, her eyes dancing and her smile alluring. He'd been stuck with the sudden realization that she was beautiful. And then, as fast as it had come, it was gone, but he couldn't forget it.

When he'd seen her face in his daydream . . . it felt like magic.

"Max, hey, Max!" He heard someone calling his name, and it drew him from his thoughts. He turned to find himself face to face with just the person who'd been on his mind.

"Liz," he exclaimed with surprise. "I thought you said I was going to come pick you up at your class."

"I know," she said cheerfully, "but I was feeling really energetic so I decided to come and get you. I kinda couldn't concentrate that much anyway, so I stopped in the Caf on my way for some food. It's not gourmet, and I know you're probably starving, but where we're going, there's nothing else."

"Oh," seemed an appropriate answer. "Well, let's go then," he asserted, and reached out to link his arm with hers. It was a comfortable gesture, something they'd done a million times before, and he couldn't help but feel disappointed that it felt the same as always. Maybe he's just let his imagination run away with him a bit, he thought sadly. He wasn't getting a lot of sleep lately and it was making him fanciful. That was it. Liz was still just his totally cool roommate and co-best friend.

"Where is your car parked?" Liz queried.

"Oh," he replied, "right over there. C'mon."

"Can I drive?"

"I don't know; can you?"

"Oh, shut up, Max! We're not English majors." In a voice heavy with sarcasm, "*May* I drive?"

"But of course!" he said in a high voice, and she giggled as she nudged him gently in the side. They walked off toward his automobile in high spirits, and all the thoughts Max had been pondering were receded, to be filed away in the back of his head.
_________

"We're almost there," Liz announced, to Max's bobbing head. He must have been really tired, either that or cars just made him sleepy, because fifteen minutes into the drive and his head was drooping.

"We are?" he asked groggily. "Where is there? Where is here? I mean," he stopped. "Never mind."

"C'mon," she urged. "Let's go." Liz hopped out of the driver's seat and fairly bounced around to Max's side in anticipation. He opened the door and stepped out, blinking in the light, and looked at her with amusement.

"This place must be really special to you," he noted. "I haven't seen you this energetic in a while." She looked up at him and seemed to tone her energy down a bit, but gave him an honest grin.

"I love it out here," she explained. "I haven't been here in a while, with all the studying and other stuff going on, and I'm happy to be here again. I doubt anyone else will be here today, 'cause it's not the season where it would be popular." Max finally looked around, taking in the scenery, and realized what Liz was talking about. He knew the campus was near some forests and everything, but he didn't come in this direction much; civilization was the opposite way from school. He could tell there was a specific place Liz was leading him as they entered a small path going through the trees, but it was beautiful all around.

A mile later, he was beginning to retract his statement about the beauty of their surroundings. So far, three stupid rocks and one log had tripped him, he'd narrowly missed a patch of poison something-or-other, Liz had informed him, and there was no end in sight. He could heal himself, of course, if he got hurt, but that wasn't the principle.

"Liz," he whined. She turned to look at him and shook her head, but didn't speak. When she opened her mouth, her words were soft.

"Can you hear the rushing water, Max?" she enquired. He was about to respond verbally, but Liz shook her head at him and put a slender finger on her lips. One hand reached out for him and he took it, allowing her to lead him down what he identified quickly as a hill.

A few yards later, the sound of water had become apparent to him, and he marveled at the fact Liz had heard it all the way back there on the path. Or, perhaps, since she knew what was here already, she hadn't. Already, the calming sound of water rushing was making him feel better.

Yet, it wasn't until where they were heading came into full view that his breath was taken away.

In their world, beauty was apparent everywhere, but natural beauty was much less common than fashionable beauty or expensive material possessions. This, this was a scene right out of a photography magazine, or maybe a fairy tale. The forest tapered off into smooth rock, spread out in all degrees in front of him. The water was flowing, rivulets dripping off corners of stone and laughing little streams cutting thought mini-chasms, but most of it was running right through the middle of the rock, clear and swift. The rock was smoothed, but there were natural stairways sloping on the sides and little rocks peeking out from the water, until the edge. The gushing sound of the water was largely coming from the waterfall that was positioned at the far end of the rock, leading into a big pool of water with more forest beyond its banks.

"Wow," Max breathed.

"Do you like it?" Liz asked breathlessly, her eyes riveted on the scene as though she were taking it in for the first time too.

"Yes," Max answered. "It's absolutely breathtaking." *Just like you.*




"It may sound absurd...But don't be naive/ Even heroes have the right to bleed/ I may be disturbed/ But won't you concede/ Even heroes have the right to dream." (Superman, Five for Flying)
posted on 18-Sep-2001 6:25:46 PM
Title: Be Like That
E-mail: Realspacecadet7⊕aol.com
Rating: R
Category: M/L
Spoilers: Through Max in the City.
Summary: Max POV. Wish upon a star and your dreams may come true. This is gonna be a real short one. Three parts or so…
Author's Note: I'm a lazy bum and haven’t written for, like, forever. This is to get me goin' again. I also have a switched-universe obsession.

If I could be like that,
I would give anything
Just to live one day, in those shoes
If I could be like that,
I would give anything
Just to live one day, in those shoes

Three Doors Down, Be Like That

- - - - -

"Miracles"

"Did you sleep with Kyle?"

I hold my breath, and my heart constricts when she nods. It should hurt less the third time around, but it doesn't. Somehow, I'm not surprised.

"Ok," I say, resigning myself to the fact. I try to smile at her, but I don't think it's very successful. Something about a broken heart affects my control of my facial muscles. Go figure. "I'll see you tomorrow."

And for the who-knows-how-many time in the last months, I don't want to. I don't want to see Liz Parker tomorrow. I want to see her yesterday, the day I knew she loved me. Or I don't want to see her at all.

I leave, hop into my idling car, and drive home. It's another place I don't want to face. Mom and Dad aren't really buying the camping excuse anymore, and they're sick and tired of me skipping on therapy. I make a mental note to keep my appointment tomorrow morning; maybe that will get them off my back.

I make a mental note to ask Nicholas to schedule summits on non-holidays the next time we attempt to kill each other.

A face muscle twitch. Could it be a miracle?

No. A miracle, by definition, is "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs," whatever that means. Divine intervention implies believing in God.

I don't believe in God.

Yet, I've wished for miracles my whole life.

When I had Liz, I didn't need those wishes anymore. All that I wanted, I had in the love we felt for each other.

I'm not sure I believe in miracles anymore.

What is there to believe in when your north star, your guiding light home, turns out to be nothing more than an illusion?

- - - - -

It's the middle of the night, but my bed is cold. The sheets are untouched and the pillow is unruffled.

I don't want to sleep because my dreams haunt me.

They aren't always the same. Sometimes, I dream about the white room, even after all this time, and wake up in a cold sweat. Other times come the random nightmares, my fears manifesting themselves in the form of dreams.

Death.

Destruction.

Failure.

Sometimes I wake up and wonder how the dreams don't seem to be affecting me in real like. Or I wonder if they are, but I just can't see it.

Do insane people know they're crazy?

Suddenly, the walls of my room are suffocating me. I need space.

Air.

So I go outside, and I don't have to worry about getting cold, because I'm still in my normal clothes.

I never bothered to change out of them.

The numbness would stop me from noticing, anyway.

I once heard this joke.

"So, what is it? Ignorance or apathy?"

"I don't know, and I don't care."

It appalled me that someone should have that perspective on life.

I feel like I don't know anything anymore.

And you know what?

"I don't care." I say it aloud, because spoken word means so much more than thoughts. Because it's true that I don't care anymore about what's happening around me, because my life is falling apart and I don't have the incentive to put it back together.

There was always a light at the end of the tunnel before, when things looked bleak.

I wanted to find out who I was, and even though it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, the reward was having all the answers I searched for all my life. Then I had Liz, and suddenly my past wasn't too important anymore. I had her, and that was all that mattered. She gave me the strength to search for answers, to protect our group, and even to lead. I knew no matter what happened, at the end of the day she'd be there to love me.

But that strength was just an illusion. There's nothing left fighting for in my heart, and though my brain tells me otherwise, I can't make myself believe it.

I guess I owe Maria for that one. Listening to my heart is probably the only leadership lesson I even took to heart. No pun intended.

As much as I want to make myself care about Antar and duty and obligations, I don't.

I look at the stars, and now I have some idea where Antar would be if I decided to look for it.

I don't want to.

Instead, I simply stare at the inky black sky, littered with its thousands of twinkling lights. Star-gazing has always been one thing that calms me down.

Isabel likes star-gazing more than I do. She wished on the first star she saw every night for years, after our parents taught us the tradition. I don't know what she wished for.

She never told me, because she said then your wish would never come true.

I can't wish upon the first star I see, but then a shooting star appears, and I wonder.

What's the harm in wishing?

It's not like it will change anything.

So I do it. I make a wish on that shooting star. "I wish," I say, "I wish I could just be Max Evans. Not Zan, or your Majesty, but just Max. I wish I was your average small-town guy. Even just for a day…"

Nothing happens.

I didn't expect it to, so why do I feel disappointed?

It must be something about three AM. The hour has to be special if musicians consistently use it in their songs.

Another twitch. Watch out, or soon I might crack an actual smile. What would my therapist think of that?

Warm air explodes from my mouth, and I realize I was holding my breath. Suddenly, it's cold outside. I shiver and climb back inside to my dull, cornball room.

Everything is cast in shadows, just like my life.

I climb into bed, and sleep no longer alludes me. For once, I don't worry about having nightmares. They can't be worse than my life, anyway.

- - - - -

My eyes open to sun cascading into my room. I'm temporarily heartened to realize my sleep had no disturbances, but then my eyes fall on my alarm clock.

It's 8:45, and my appointment is at 9:15. Crap. I could have sworn I put my alarm on.

I pull on some clean clothes, make my hair presentable, and jog downstairs. My mother is making coffee, and she turns around at my footsteps. Her eyes widen with surprise.

"Max, what are you doing up so early?" she asks. She doesn't look hurt or upset at all, which baffles me, because she was so bummed about me missing Thanksgiving yesterday.

"Therapy," I answer, like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

She stares at me blankly, as though she doesn't know what I'm talking about. "What kind of therapy? You're usually so eager to catch up on sleep a little during the weekends; school seems to always wear you out so."

"You're right, Mom," I manage. "Excuse me." Panic is gripping me, but I turn and walk to my room in what I hope to be a calm manner.

I take a piece of paper and try to change its color.

Nothing happens.

Am I human?

- - - - -

There's a microscope that is strong enough to see to a cellular level in my closet.

At least, I hope there is. So I fling open the closet door, and now I know something is very, very wrong. My extremely boring wardrobe consisting of black, blue, and gray has apparently had a run in with Roy G. Biv. Now I know I'm hallucinating.

The microscope, however, is just where it should be. No one ever said insanity had to make sense, so who am I to question this stroke of luck?

I plug the machine into the wall and set it on the desk. There are a few slides in the plastic baggie next to the 'scope in the closet, so I take one out. I fumble around in my desk for something to get a sample with. All I can find is a broken pencil, so I shrug and scrape some cheek cells from my mouth with it.

My hand is shaking as I rub the pencil on the slide, and a bead of sweat breaks out on my forehead. I wonder if maybe I'm not really crazy, because I don't think you stress this much after jumping off the deep end.

The slide goes under the microscope and I stick my eye into the hole, bracing myself.

The cells I find myself looking at are completely human.

Lovely.

If I'm human, what does this mean about the rest of the world?

Did I suddenly change everything, or just myself? What about Isabel and Michael? What about Liz?

If I'm human, and if I've always been human, Liz could be dead. The thought causes the breakfast I haven't eaten to churn in my stomach. I have to find one of our tight-knit group and find out what this reality is hiding, because I certainly don't know who I am now.

I decide it makes sense to look for Isabel first. She has to be my sister, right? If I'm not delusional and this is truly reality, Isabel still has to be my sister. I walk out of my room, not paying attention, and turn left.

I bump into a wall.

My house has suddenly become a mirror reflection of itself. Where Isabel's room should be is just wall, and this panics me, but all the rooms are simply going the other way.

Even more lovely.

I take another deep breath and open the matching door that should lead to Isabel's room. It comes out on a sigh of relief as I see a recognizable room, the same room I glanced into yesterday on my return from New York. Whatever has happened, Isabel is still here. Thank God. She isn't, however, in her room.

"Where's Iz?" I ask my mother when I go downstairs.

"Running," she replies, and fixes me with another strange look. "Are you feeling okay, honey? You seem a little disoriented."

"No, I'm fine," I say. "Just a little tired, I guess, like you said. School just wore me out this week. You know, the pre-thanksgiving workload."

"Of course," Mom smiles.

"So, I'm going to head over to Michael's," I inform her. "I'll be back by dinner or I'll call."

"Sure, honey."

- - - - -

I'm knocking on the door of Michael's apartment, and I must be quite impatient, because I hear a bang and some muffled grumbling before the door opens.

"Michael," I begin.

A pair of crystal blue eyes with some wrinkles stare back at me.

"Does not live here, obviously," I finish, feeling like a complete idiot. "I'm really sorry," I explain, "I must have the wrong apartment."

Blue-eyes gives me a half smile and closes the door. I swear I hear a muttered "kids these days" from the apartment.

Damn.

Now what am I supposed to do? Michael could be anywhere. I walk dejectedly down the hall and am about to leave the building, but then I hear my name.

"Max! Hey, what are you doing here?"

I turn to see Maria Deluca fumbling with a set of keys and a purse in her Crashdown uniform. Did she just come from seeing Michael? Maybe I can get her to inadvertently tell me where his apartment is.

"Hey, Maria. What are you doin' here?"

I get a third odd look focused on me, and it's only around ten in the morning. I wonder what I said wrong this time.

"I live here, Max," Maria says dryly. "I guess astrally projecting yourself to New York has left you a little frazzled, huh?"

Her second statement doesn't register. I don't let it. "Do you know where Michael is?" I ask desperately.

"No," she answers. "But if you're looking for him maybe he'll stop bothering me. You know how mad at you he is for kissing my dupe? He's angry enough to forget about Colin for a while."

I kissed Maria's dupe?

Maria has a dupe?

And suddenly her previous comment hits me.

I, Max Evans, astral-projected myself to New York.

Processing, processing, processing.

Maria lives in an apartment building that Michael should be in. I don't have therapy and I'm a human. Maria has a dupe. My thoughts are so confused, refusing to fall into place. Maria has a dupe.

That means she is an alien.

And if she's an alien, and by her comments Michael isn't, all the evidence is pointing to a case of switched identities.

I'm freaking out.

I am. Really.

When I freak out, people think I look pitiful, I guess, because Maria inquires, "Are you okay, Max?" and pats me on the shoulder. Then she looks like she regrets doing it and steps back. Uh-oh.

"Maria," I give her my puppy-dog face. "I think that astral-projection thingie did something to me. My memory of the last few days is a little fuzzy."

Well, the last year and a half, I suppose, but I'll take what I can get.

So, Maria tells me she's heading over to work, and that she'll talk to me on the way.

And she does. The story, of course, rings a bell, and my suspicions are confirmed. Liz went to New York because she's 'her majesty.'

Kyle's dupe told me that because Liz saved me, I was changed. Liz saved me.

Maria asks me suddenly what she thinks she should do about Michael. Then I hear her mutter, "Never mind. I don't think you'd be one to give advice on relationships."

I stop walking, then, and stare at her advancing figure. "Maria," I call, "What are you talking about?"

"The cat's out of the bag, Max." Maria fixes me with a dark look. "Everyone knows about what happened between you and Tess. Just because Liz was too hurt to talk about it doesn't mean we would never find out about it."

My face is blank, pained, confused.

"Don't look so surprised, Max," she says. "I can't be too mad at you because… of what happened with Colin, I think I identify with you, but don't pretend you're the innocent one."

I don't know what to say. We reach the Crashdown and Maria begins to walk to the employee's entrance. "Goodbye, Max," she says.

"Wait." My voice cracks. "Does Liz have work now?" Please work at the Crashdown, please work at the Crashdown, please…

"No." For some reason, Maria looks pleased. "She's probably upstairs, trying to catch up on her work."

I have to find Tess and figure out what the hell Maria is talking about.

If this reality is just flipped over mine, then how could anything have happened between me and Tess. I love Liz, and I know I must love her here, too.

I have to find Tess. I do.

But first I need to just see Liz. Just for a second…

- - - - -

I scale the ladder to Liz's balcony easily, wondering what her reaction will be if she's on it. I don't get to find out, though, because she's in her room. I creep silently to the window and peer in to see her.

She is so beautiful.

I know that I should have gotten used to her beauty by now, but every time I look at her, Liz Parker blows me away.

She's sitting at her desk, and I can see her writing. Could it be the infamous journal? I don't have time to figure it out before she stands up and comes towards the window. I move away as quietly as possible and wonder if she senses me.

I hope not. The way I'm feeling right now, I would tell her what's happening to me, and then she would think I'm a lunatic.

Add to that the whole me and Tess mystery, and from Maria's little speech Liz probably wouldn't be happy to see me.

I peer in and see her pulling on her Crashdown uniform.

It's not easy for me to pull my eyes away from that, but I'm no peeping Tom. When I deem it safe, my eyes venture to look at Liz again. She's brushing her hair, and her eyes look like they're filled with pain.

She looks so sad and lonely, it breaks my heart. And old. She looks incredibly worn, with way too many burdens on her seventeen year-old shoulders.

I wonder if being a leader is eating her from the inside like it is for me. I wonder if she feels like she has no one to turn to, no one who truly wants to listen. I wonder if the only person she wants to tell is me, just as I only want her to know every crevice of my soul.

There's an ache inside me now, thinking about how much I need her.

Then she leaves the room, and I feel like the light inside me has gone out. The book she was writing in sits on the desk, and I can tell even from Liz's window that it is not a binder or schoolbook.

If that's her journal, it would answer all the questions I have.

Yet, even if she's not my Liz, that still feels like a huge invasion of privacy. My head tells me I can't just march into her room and read her journal, but my heart is crying out.

It needs to know if the betrayal that took place in my own timeline happened in this one.

The date is burned into my head, of course.

November second, the day my heart was smashed into a million pieces. If I creep in there quietly, just find that entry, could that be so wrong?

Whether it's the right thing to do or not, I can't help myself. I creep in the window, trying not to disturb anything, though I'm pretty sure Liz is on shift and won't be returning. The journal is sitting on her desk, black and unsuspecting.

I pick it up and try to open it.

Nothing happens. It's just a paper journal, so why does it feel like it's stuck?

Maybe, I realize, this Liz put a little alien oomph into keeping her privacy. While this really sucks for me, it's quite innovative. There has got to be some way to get past this minor hurdle. I'm an alien in a human body, for Christ sake's, in some warped alternate universe. A little alien superglue is not going to hold me back.

Watch out, ladies and gentleman, SuperMax is coming. It's a UFO, no, it's a blimp, no, it's SuperMax!

Unsurprisingly, the journal does not respond to my silent pep talk. I take it between my hands and close my eyes in concentration. Even if I'm no longer a full-blooded hybrid, being changed has got to be good for something.

Doesn't it?

"Bingo," I mumble when the pages fly open. The journal is definitely well-loved, and I flip through dog-eared pages to find November 2001. I don't know if Liz would write the night… whatever I did happened, but it's got to be around there somewhere.

"No, no, no," I mutter. Then, at the end of October, there is a pretty big gap in dates, to the middle of November. I begin to read at the first entry for the month.

I haven't written because I couldn't bear to go through these past weeks events again. I knew the summer was bad, but the hopelessness is taking over again. Max… Max and I are over, forever, I think. It hurts just to think of him, but I have to face what happened. I haven't talked to anyone about it, after seeing Kyle and letting him comfort me that night.
Max slept with Tess. God, how it hurts even to write those words. The pain is still so fresh. I can hardly believe it, but he tells me it's true. So much else has happened, but this much has drained me emotionally. Maybe I'll look back on this someday and not feel this pain in my heart. I don't think I'll ever be able to read the beginning of you, journal, ever again.

I close the book, softly, because my heart is slowly breaking again.

How could I have slept with Tess? It isn't possible. No matter how different this place is, I could never do that to Liz. I know intrinsically that I love her beyond anything else I will ever feel.

If things are the same in this world as in mine, and Liz slept with Kyle as far as I know, while I slept with Tess here, something has got to be seriously wrong.

God, even the thought of being intimate with Tess turns my stomach. I place the book back down on the desk, and I don't think about re-sticking it. I just need to breathe.

There must be some kind of explanation for this.

- - - - -

I jog over to the Valenti's, hoping that their house, like Liz's and mine, is still the same. A little voice nags at me that if Kyle is the alien and Tess is the human, then I don't know who will be a Harding and who a Valenti, but I focus instead on reaching their house.

A Sheriff's vehicle is parked in front of a familiar house. Thank god. The front of the house, however, looks a little more flowery than I seem to recall. I'm about to walk up to the door, but then I hear movement from behind it. I duck around the corner of the house and peer around to see Jim Valenti.

Whew. I was not looking forward for Ed Harding to make a reappearance from the dead.

"Tess!" He calls. "Remember to clean your room!" And then I hear him mutter. "And don't have Kyle hocus-pocus it. Ah, hell."

I smile. Kyle and Tess are not two of my favorite people. I don't think I'm going to like either of them in this reality, either.

Then I just about jump out of my skin.

"Evans," Kyle smoothly says from behind me. I whirl to see his unusually dark eyes assessing me. "Looking for something?"

"Is Tess here?" I inquire, and he frowns. At his eventual nod, I begin to head toward the door.

"You knows, Evans," Kyle drawls, "You sure got the up side of this situation." I pause and look at him. "You got to have Tess in the sack, and Liz still can't keep her eyes off you." Then he smirks. "I must say, your advice on me getting with her wasn't too useful, but she'll come around. Evans. She'll come around."

He walks off and leaves me with a lump in my throat. Leave it to Kyle to make me feel intimidated and unsure of myself.

Regardless, I have to see Tess and make sure nothing happened between us. Because it couldn't have. Right? I knock on the door, and when no one answers, I push it open.

"Tess?" I call out, "It's Max. Are you there?" No answer. Then, I hear a muffled crash and some swearing.

Tess appears a few seconds later, laundry basket in hand and what suspiciously looks like detergent in her hair. She's blushing. "You surprised me," she states. "What's up, Max?"

I'm at a loss of what to say. I know I need to make sure nothing happened between us, but how can I bring it up? You don't just forget things like these, real or not.

"Um," I finally force out, "Have you heard any of those rumors at school? About us?"

The annoyed look in Tess' eyes is not lost on me. "You didn't start them?" she inquires. "'Cause I didn't; I don't need my reputation screwed on something that never happened."

It feels like a ton of bricks is taken off my shoulders, and I'm proud of myself for getting my answer that quickly.

"Sorry," I tell her. "I just wanted to apologize and say I didn't start them, so I don't know who did." It had to have been Kyle. Who else would there be? "Uh, and, I still appreciate you helping me out, then."

I'm prying for more information. My fingers cross behind my back. Now that I know it was a set-up, I still don't know why.

"Sure, Max," Tess nods. "Though I don't understand why you had me do it if you still mope over Liz constantly…"

Damn. "Me either, Tess," I confide. "I don't understand it myself." She gives me a questioning look, but I merely shrug and bid her adieu.

I'm at a loss about what to do now.

- - - - -

I walk home slowly, trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle I've gathered. My heart is soaring because of the fact that if I didn't sleep with Tess, the probability is good that Liz was never with Kyle, either.

At least I hope it works that way. I wonder when I'm going to go back home.

I wonder if I'm going back home.

My wish was just for one day.

Will I remember all that I've learned?

I spend the rest of the day in my room, doing some homework that I know I'll have to do in my reality anyway, so it's worthwhile. Dinner rolls around and I sit at the table downstairs, watching my family interact.

It feels like it did a year ago, before Iz and I had the chasm of my saving Liz grow between us. I know she sees now that good has sprung from my action, but all the bad might be my fault, too. Truthfully, I don't think she's ever truly forgiven me for ruining her perfect life.

I don't miss the Ice Queen.

At this dinner table, Isabel talks about fashion and some television show she watched. Then she mentions something about taking a trip as an exchange student to Europe. My parents are apparently very interested in this, because they're still talking long after I excuse myself from the table.

The night creeps up without warning, and it's not long before I'm yawning. There's a certain fear of going to bed because I don't know where I'll be when I wake up, but my body doesn't seem to care.

I don't know whether it's because of astral-projection or a real trip, but I think New York is catching up to me.

The last thing I see before my eyes close on sleep is an image of Liz's face, haunted by what I know is my betrayal and filled with longing.

- - - - -

"Max! Max, damn it!" I hear a voice calling me. It vaguely registers in my fuzzy brain that it's Isabel. "Turn your stupid alarm off already!" she whines. "Either get up and go to therapy, or go back to sleep."

Therapy?

The events of yesterday's trip to that surreal world replay themselves in my mind, and I wonder if it was all a dream. But then I feel the slip of paper in my pants and pull it out.

It's the homework I was working on yesterday afternoon. Whoa. It was real. And then I think to myself that there has got to be something major wrong with me, because who does their homework when they're stranded in some crazy who-knows-what reality.

That's me, Max Evans. I may be an alien, but I'm as boring as they get. I don't need to be human to be a small town boy.

And then I laugh, because that's what I wished for. Now I realize that aside from all this alien crap, my life is utterly boring. Normal, even.

Or not. But we can pretend.

I hear Isabel start to yell again and realize I never turned my alarm off. So I do. I'm not going back to sleep, but there's no way I'm going to therapy, either. I'm too insane for the good doctor, I decide.

My mother's going to have my head.

- - - - -

If I'm not mistaken, Liz should be in her room now, getting ready for her shift. I'm going to use the element of surprise and catch her in her own haven.

Maybe at this early in the morning, she won't have woken up enough to lie to me. Regardless, the truth is going to be revealed this morning.

I climb up the fire escape, only to meet Liz on her balcony. By the looks of it, she's waiting for me.

"I knew you were coming," she half-smiles. "I think this changing thing has increased my awareness."

Weird. I can sense her, too; it will be strange to have it reciprocated. Then I pause, because Liz didn't sense me yesterday.

I correct myself, because that wasn't my Liz. My Liz, the love of my life, is standing right in front of me.

"Hi, Liz," I smile, and I think her eyes widen at the warmth in my voice. "I needed to see you this morning."

"About what?" she asks cautiously.

"I know the truth, Liz." It's said quietly, but I know she hears me. Suddenly, the light atmosphere is gone.

"What are you talking about, Max?" Liz asks fearfully. I see her gearing up, getting ready to lie to me again.

"Don't. Liz, please, don't lie to me any more. I know that nothing happened between you and Kyle. You don't have to explain right now." I see her mouth open to anyway, but I reach out a finger and cover her lips. "Shhh," I whisper. We both shiver at the delicious contact, and I lead her to a lawn chair. "Something happened to me earlier I need to tell you about."

Looking scared, she nods. "You can tell me anything, Max," she finally says. I think I've won her over.

"I know," I affirm. "I know."

FIN


"It may sound absurd...But don't be naive/ Even heroes have the right to bleed/ I may be disturbed/ But won't you concede/ Even heroes have the right to dream." (Superman, Five for Flying)
posted on 18-Sep-2001 6:57:16 PM
Jason Wade- You Belong To Me

See the pyramids along the nile

ss109-122

Watch the sun rise from the tropic isle

209-077

Just remember darling, all the while

211-020

You belong to me

ss113-085

See the marketplace in old Algiers

ss106-091

Send me photographs and souvenirs

216-121

205-073

Just remember when a dream appears

ss108-061

You belong to me

ss108-064

Though I'll be so alone without you

207-187

Maybe you'll be lonesome too

205-098

Fly the ocean in a silver plane

205-010

See the jungle when it's wet with rain

203-356

Just remember 'til you're home again

209-001

You belong to me

205-141

I'll be so alone without you

217-198

Maybe you'll be lonesome too

215-247

Fly the ocean in a silver plane

209-050

See the jungle when it's wet with rain

ss114-066

Just remember 'til you're home again

209-002

You belong to me

214-211


"It may sound absurd...But don't be naive/ Even heroes have the right to bleed/ I may be disturbed/ But won't you concede/ Even heroes have the right to dream." (Superman, Five for Flying)
posted on 22-Sep-2001 6:52:06 PM
Title: Ironing out the Bugs (Remember Me)
E-mail: Realspacecadet7⊕aol.com
Rating: R for violence and language.
Category: Zan/Ava|Max/Tess elements, M/L.
Spoilers: All of season two, but it's post Heart of Mine; Off The Menu did take place.
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything; I’m just borrowing the characters for a little while.

I remember what it was to be Zan.

I remember the glory and the power; I remember having the world at my fingertips.

It feels good, and then when the memories stop, I ignore the feeling that something is wrong. I was a king; I can do whatever I want.

I remember Vilandra and Rath. Isabel and Michael tell me maybe I should stop with the memory retrieval, but I'm the king. I'm the man, and no one tells me what to do. I thought Vilandra and Rath were too nosy in my kingly affairs for their own good, so what do they know now? Nothing. I don't need to listen to them; all I need is my memories.

I remember the taste of Ava's skin, the smell of her in the morning, and the way she shuddered under me when I took control and wouldn't stop for anything. The power fills my veins and I realize that spending the last decade and more as Max Evans has been a total waste, when I should be a king. Tess' skin is sweet too, and I ignore that pesky human emotion I feel when I kiss her, and tangle my tongue to hers. She's reluctant, sometimes, but I don't let her stop. She's my bride, and she'll do what I say. After all, I'm the king.

I melted some of my CD's today. All the pesky ones, like Counting Crows and Gomez. My powers feel energetic lately, and I wanted to just use them. I wasn't satisfied, though, when they sat in a pile of goo in my trash can. I want more. The twitch of my eye that happened when the CD’s disintegrated bothered me.

That's why I'm walking the streets now, searching for something in the ominous dark that will quench my thirst for something I don’t understand. I want to swim in the jello I felt in my memories; I want to be lavished with whatever my heart desires. I’ve spent so much time mooning over a girl who doesn’t want me, which is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done since I let myself be killed by Kivar’s goddamn forces. That was an act of stupidity that I’ll never get over, and it landed me here. I’m over it, though, and now I can move on to more important things than lovesickness and human emotions.


Max strolled down Murphy Lane, his dark eyes gazing moodily at the moderate houses and green lawns. If a random stranger laid eyes on him at that moment, they would have seen the embodiment of arrogance, and a gleam in his eyes that spelled danger. His posture was straight, and his walk contained no trace of the shyness that once permeated through his every bone. Suddenly, a car caught his eye and he walked over to it, appraising it coolly.

“I’ve got the power,” he hummed carelessly, and reached a hand out to stroke the curve of the vehicle. It was deep blue with a hint of purple, and Max closed his eyes in remembrance of the jello sea, which matched the color of the car almost perfectly. He could almost feel the way it had surrounded him, as he kicked and swam with Ava. She hadn’t liked water, he recalled, but he’d thrown her in one day because he wanted a companion. He didn’t need Rath and Vilandra breathing down his backs when he wanted to relax, anyway.

“I’ve got the,” he repeated, and his hand traveled over the window. It vanished as the last traces of his fingertips passed over the edge. “Power.” He smiled smugly, and peered into the car, drinking in the leather interior with his eyes and smelling it. The memory of something similar teased his senses, and the frustration of not knowing what it was overwhelmed him. Violently, he kicked the side of the car, and stepped back to survey the sent that appeared.

“Shit,” he muttered, and leaned over to fix it with another wave of his hand. As he bent, though, his eyes were caught in the reflection of the rear-view mirror, and he froze. Max stood stupidly, fixated on the image of his face that stared back at him, and a flicker of emotion traveled through his eyes. He could almost hear someone calling him, like a voice from heaven. But he didn’t believe in god.

What am I doing?

The silence was broken by the sound of an approaching car, and Max jerked out of his trance. He shook his head quickly to clear his momentary lapse, and fixed the damage to the automobile. But, wasn’t there something he’d thought of a minute ago that was important? Max searched himself, came up with nothing, and shrugged. Getting all his real memories back and becoming Zan again must be screwing with his brain.

It wasn’t long before Max found his way to the center of town, Roswell’s pitiful excuse for shops and alien attractions. He had fleeting interest in heading over to the UFO center and creating some kind of havoc for the people to discover the next day, but realized he’d skipped work the past few days and didn’t want to risk being found.

Instead, he crossed the street to look into the flashing lights of the Crashdown Café, and wondered again why he’d wasted so much of his earthly life mooning over an ordinary girl.

With ears that had apparently become sharper with the invocation of memories from his previous life, Max cocked his head to the sound of feline whimpers. It sounded like there was a cat in the Crashdown alley, and Max, intrigued by the pitiful noise it made, crept closer. The feline came into view as he rounded the corner into the alley, and he watched it look pitifully around like someone was coming to rescue it.

He was mesmerized by the cat’s vulnerability, and the thought of how easy it would be to scoop it up and stop its life echoed sickeningly through his brain. A roll of nausea passed through him at the contemplation, and how helpless it left him feeling goaded the darkness inside the grab the kitten unflinchingly. He was fast, almost with the liquid grace of a feline himself when he did so, and he stood afterwards in the alley, cradling the kitty’s body with gentle steel.

“Callie,” a voice was calling, hardly penetrating Max through the dim fog of his consciousness. “Callie, baby, where are you?”

And Liz Parker exited the side door of her parent’s café, in search of her newfound pet, to come face to face with the person she’s avoided like the plague ever since the stolen moment she’d walked in on. “Callie, I can hear you out here, thank-” Liz stopped abruptly at the sight of Max. Something was wrong; she could tell in an instant, without even setting eyes on Max’s face (which she was purposely not doing, by the way). “Max,” she announced coolly. “I see you’ve met my new pet.” Her body automatically stiffened with tension with his proximity, and she turned toward the garbage under the pretense of throwing something away. “I’ll take her now; I have to go finish my homework, so I... have to go.”

No answer. Liz chanced looking up at Max and found him staring fixedly at her pet. Her blood ran cold at what she thought she saw in his stare, and she found herself filled with pain at how this Max was suddenly a stranger. Liz allowed herself to close her eyes for a second and imagined what it would be like in that other timeline. It was her guilty pleasure, but it was driving her insane.

No movement from Max. “Max, give me Callie, please. Please. Callie, Callie, baby, come here,” she coaxed nervously.

Everything seemed to move in slow motion as Callie tried to leave Max’s arms and go to Liz, but the boy holding her refused. Liz watched as her cat’s claws dug into Max’s arm, and the rage she saw flash into his eyes as he snarled and flung the cat away. Against the wall.

Oh, god. She heard the sickening thud as her one faithful companion, however short she’d had her, hit the brick, and Liz cried out.

She was paralyzed with shock- shock that Max would do something like that, and she felt the urge to fling herself at him and hit him until her arms were too sore to go on. Yet, she didn’t move.

“No,” she whispered. “No. Max,” her voice broke, and she couldn’t bear to look at him. Never in a million years would the Max Evans she loved hurt a defenseless animal like that.

What have I done?

The thought echoed through both of their heads.

And suddenly, Max’s head was filled with a blinding pain. It just hurt, everywhere, like it was never going to stop. Blurred eyes raised to see a figure, Liz, he realized, and she was crying.

Crying.

Why?

Then he heard the almost inaudible whimper coming from a blob against the alley wall. It was a cat. Hadn’t he been holding a cat?

Yes, he had. The pain throbbed in his head as what he’d done traveled through him. “Oh, god,” he whispered, his legs almost giving out from under him.

And then, he was all motion, stumbling toward the cat, putting his hand out and healing it, the weak flashes animals giving off not even registering because of the pounding in his head. He was in the jello again, but this time it didn’t seem alluring. It was suffocating him, like he couldn’t breathe, like his limbs had gone limp and he was drowning. If he didn’t keep moving, it was going to win, and that couldn’t happen.

So he dropped the cat, who was now fully healed, and Max didn’t even notice how badly he was shaking. All he knew was that he had to run, get away, because it was wrong to want to be near Liz and he’d just hurt a defenseless creature and... he didn’t even know who he was anymore.

And Max tried to get away.

Liz, still frozen, had watched as Max seemed to fall apart. She saw him heal the cat, and she witnessed the look of desperation and confusion on his face as it registered what he’d done. At first, when he turned to run, she almost let him go.

And then she realized that everything bad always happened when you let people run away.

So she chased after him, and it penetrated her tear-filled eyes that he was staggering along, like he was dying.

It turned out she didn’t have to chase Max Evans long, because he collapsed halfway down the street.


The darkness outside was descending upon Liz’s mind, so she fought it as she ran to Max’s still form. Just keep breathing, she thought over and over. Sean had been right.

She was suffocating.

God, all she could think of before that night was how she and Max were growing apart, when they should be knowing each other... loving each other intimately. Now, he was sprawled out on the ground in front of her, a stranger except for his appearance, and she didn’t want to help him.

Of course she would help him, wanted to help him, needed to help him.

Correction. She didn’t want to have to help him. She couldn’t be sucked in the alien abyss when she was letting go.

He was on the pavement, not moving, but she saw when she kneeled next to him that he was breathing. The breaths were shallow, but she could see the faint rise and fall of his chest. Liz’s mind raced, trying to figure out what the most logical thing to do in this situation was, but logic flew out the window two years ago. It was obvious that logic was not apparent in this situation, because she knew Max would never do anything she’d witnessed him do in the past minutes.

She knew.

So, Liz did something very illogical. She helped the then semiconscious Max to stand up, and with him leaning heavily on her, she took him into the Crashdown. He collapsed onto the couch in the break room and she stood stupidly for a minute, gaining back her breath and wanting desperately to hold him. Then, she picked up the phone and called the person who she, sickeningly, realized he would most want to have help him.

Tess.

Tess, who he’d kissed. Tess, who was his wife. Not her.

Tess, who was helping him remember things that were driving him crazy. She felt a surge of anger at how Max’s supposed alien wife couldn’t even take care of him, so much that he’d had some meltdown.

Liz would never let anything like that happen to him. But, she reminded herself, she had. And then the phone was ringing in the Valenti house, so she had to stop beating herself up and concentrate on getting the one girl she hated to come save the man she still loved more than anyone in the world.

“Hello?” An unsuspecting Kyle answered the phone, and a depressed undertone wafted through the phone lines with his words.

“Tess. Phone. Now,” Liz managed to say, and she cut off Kyle’s question of ‘What’s wrong, Liz?’ by repeating, “Now, Kyle.”

“What’s going on, Liz?” Tess asked, a trace of annoyance in her voice. The truce that they had set between them during the crystal crisis was dissolved in the arcade room of a Vegas hotel.

“Max is over here, and he’s not in good condition,” she answered curtly. She bit back accusatory words and tried to pretend like it didn’t matter to her that she couldn’t be the one who was being called. No, it didn’t matter to her at all. Liz’s heart wasn’t breaking again as she saw Max’s pained face out of the corner of her eye. The tears weren’t resurfacing. They weren’t. “You should... come get him or help him, or whatever,” she choked.

“The Crashdown?” Tess demanded, sounding panicked. Well, at least she sounded like she cared.

“Yeah, the break room.”

“I’ll be right over.” Click

Give the girl a hand for not asking questions, for once.

Liz returned the phone slowly to the cradle, setting it down with minimal noise. She didn’t know whether to try and see if she could wake Max up fully, or if she even wanted to. The way he was with her cat, she was afraid he might do something crazy. Max would never hurt her, she knew, but what if he couldn’t help it?

She settled for pacing back and forth the proximity of the break room, until she couldn’t handle it anymore and knelt beside the dark-haired boy on the couch. A shiver ran through Liz as she noticed the bit of blood seeping through the denim on his knee, and it was reminiscent of another time and place, before she had to pretend she didn’t wish she could reach out and heal him.

Tess had healed him that night, too. She remembered how it had stabbed through her heart the way Tess could help him in ways she couldn’t.

Would it be so wrong if she touched him, just once, so she could remember?

Her fingers reached out to brush the wound gently, her insides aching to heal him, like his real wife could. A few tears involuntarily dripped down her noise and hovered of the top of her lips, so she could taste the salty-sweetness of them. Liz could no longer tell why she was crying. Everything was so muddled lately, as though Roswell was enveloped in a London fog, and there was no sign of the dawn coming to burn it away.

Maybe she was destined to live in the fog forever, because Max was her light, and she would never have him again. Maybe Liz had brought this upon herself, for defying destiny all the times she had, because now that Max and Tess were together she was alone.

Future Max had said she might not be alone. She wondered how he would feel if he saw the grief he’d put himself and her through.

Liz’s eyes closed and her hand unknowingly rested on his knee. She could see his face in her mind when it had looked at her with love, before she’d done everything in her power to change that. The connection formed before she knew what was happening, and then the montage began.

I’d never felt flashes like that before. When Max and I used to connect, the flashes were usually confusing as they shot at me into every crevice of my mind, but they were always discernible. I could always understand them and empathize with the emotions as some level, because everything I was seeing and feeling was pure Max.

Pure human.

This time, it was darkness and pain and foreign emotions that couldn’t register in the few seconds we were joined. I could feel the energy, though, something so powerful it was corrupting. There was a presence in his mind that had never been there before. And the jello. It was like I was swimming in a sea of jello, and I couldn’t reach the surface...


The swinging door leading to the restaurant opened abruptly and Tess raced in, which prompted Liz to jerk from Max abruptly. She avoided making eye contact with the blond girl, afraid if she did, the charade would end.

“What happened?” Tess shrilled, sliding over to Max and cradling his limp head in her hands. Liz flinched. As she’d predicted, Tess scanned Max’s body and found the cut, and she moved to heal it.

That was why Liz had to give Max up to Tess.

No matter how much she loved him, she couldn’t save him.

The next words out of Tess’ mouth almost made her blood run cold. “Why is there a hole in Max’s jeans with blood on it, but no wound?” Liz froze and allowed herself to focus back in on the pair. It wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be. She couldn’t heal. Tess was staring at her suspiciously, anger in her icy eyes.

“Ma-maybe he healed it when he fell. I- I don’t know. Why are you asking me?” she snapped, because her world had suddenly tilted on its axis. Max hadn’t healed his wound on the street, and it definitely existed when she’d touched it a minute ago.

“Calm down,” she muttered. “I was just asking. What happened?” she repeated. There was something in her voice that told Liz that Tess knew more than she was letting on, but she pushed those thoughts away. She had to get over her distrust of Tess; if the girl was out to get them, wouldn't she have already done it?

So Liz told her. She started with coming out to find Max with her cat and ended with bringing him into the room. “And then I called you, because I figured you’d know what was wrong with him. Your memory retrieval trick is screwing with his mind, Tess.”

“What do you know about that?” Liz might have taken that as a usual biting Tess comment, thrown at her because she was an inferior human, but she heard the nervous and protective edge to it.

Tess Harding was nervous. And scared. She was hiding something.

“You knew!” Liz shouted, unable to remain passive any longer. “Didn’t you? You knew it was doing something to him, and you did it anyway. You didn’t bother to tell anyone, either, did you? Of course not,” she babbled. “Who would you tell?”

“I didn’t know this was going to happen,” Tess hedged, but Liz saw right through her. She desperately tried to calm herself, but her fury was not easy to put a damper on. In her anger, she forgot momentarily that Tess was acting particularly suspicious, even for Liz's opinion of her.

“I can’t believe this!” she finally spat, infuriated. “I handed him over on a fucking silver plate for you, and you go and mess with his head!” Tess was shocked; she had never seen Liz lose her temper, but the girl raged on, forgetting that Max was even in the room. Her only intent was to, finally, give Tess a piece of her mind. It didn’t matter what she said, anyway, because she was no longer connected to Max. Tess would never leave because of Liz alone. “I could have fought for him last May, but did I? No, I walked away. And then, I made it so easy for you to have him, and you go and screw it up. I would never do something so careless, and if I did, if I noticed something was wrong with whoever, doesn’t even have to be Max, I’d stop and tell someone! I don’t care if you blast me to hell, but I hate you! I hate you.” Her voice became no more than a whisper. “I hate you.”

"I hate you too, you stupid bitch," Tess replied, her voice grating on Liz. Her rival was beginning to smirk in a way that made Liz's blood run cold. "Handed him to me on a plate?” she asked, voice dripping with sarcasm. “He came to me because he didn’t want to have Kyle’s sloppy seconds.”

That made Liz’s frantic anger cease and ebb, because she saw the taunt as what it was. Tess was trying to take control of the situation and she wouldn’t let her. The girl might get along with everyone else alright by now, but there was no love lost between the two of them. “Tess, you live with Kyle. Do you honestly think he would just have a roll in the sack with me, with anyone, and never mention it again, even if he is a guy? Because, you know, I don’t think he would chance getting blown up or something by the very guy who saved him for getting laid.”

"So, you didn't sleep with Kyle?" Tess grinned. Liz shook her head. "Good to know. Not that it matters now, when Max is mine and no one, especially you, is going to mess it up."

The tone of her voice made Liz's cold blood stop running and freeze instead. "What- what do you mean?" Liz asked. She was so wary of the evil glint that had appeared in Tess' eyes. She wanted to look away, but for some reason she was captivated by the sea blue, the coldness was somehow drawing her in against her will. The clarity of mind she's had just a minute ago was fading as she stared at Tess.

"Stupid humans," Tess whispered quietly. "You're all too trusting." And then her eyes closed in concentration, but Liz didn't notice as she stood in a stupor. The blond girl remained in her position for a few moments, her face screwed up enough to twist her features into something inhuman, more fitting to her cold soul. Then she opened her eyes and led the zombie-like Liz to the break couch and sat her down. Tess smiled cruelly and turned, her blue eyes lit with success. She grabbed an equally stupefied Max and directed him toward the door.

They left quietly, but before they could exit the alley, Tess caught sight of the cat crumpled against the wall. "That won't do," she muttered, realizing she'd erased all of the cat from Liz's memories. One couldn't be too careful about triggers. "Definitely won't do." So she picked up the cat gingerly and dumped it in the trash. The blood was gone with a wave of her hand.

Then they really left, and all traces of the past hour were gone.

~~~~

Liz woke some minutes later with a pounding headache and the feeling of lead in all her limbs. She shook her head tiredly and wondered why she hadn't made it to her room without zonking out. She didn't recall being that tired. "Oh well," she muttered. "Gotta get some sleep before school."

The End


"It may sound absurd...But don't be naive/ Even heroes have the right to bleed/ I may be disturbed/ But won't you concede/ Even heroes have the right to dream." (Superman, Five for Flying)
posted on 22-Sep-2001 6:53:14 PM
This just in… where to begin

ss100-062

Grin and bear it, it's bare and grim

ss113-015

Adoration, titillation, I'm the victim now

ss121-200

Because she's figured me out

203-144

She lights my candle, she has a handle on me

ss100-001

It's going well but I'm scared as hell

ss121-104

That she'll figure me out

ss103-023

She thinks it's sacred to be naked

205-190

But I don't care, 'cause she's had me there

205-199

You see she's figured me out

ss105-185

And I wanna shout at the top of my lungs now

ss201-144

But oh my god, if she hears me she'll come running in…

211-039

These are my hands, these are my faults

211-038

These are my plans

216-023

These are my nasty little thoughts

219-090

I wrote 'em down for you to contemplate

216-104

At a later date

ss201-137

Well, the word is out, what's it all about

ss113-116

It's doubtless shady, no shadow of doubt

ss113-061

In moderation, this sensation would be fabulous

ss113-090

But she's figured me out

207-138

She's in my shower for an hour

ss108-015

She just washin' and wonderin'

ss115-002

And trying to figure me out…

219-303

And I wanna shout at the top of my lungs now

211-124

But oh my god, if she hears me she'll come running in…

219-206

There are my hands, these are my faults

211-064

These are my plans and these are my nasty little thoughts

215-031

I wrote 'em down for you to contemplate…

219-096

It's a little bit of something that I feel

219-065

Oh man, I just can't deal…

211-127

And other than this distance that has covered me

221-216

Can't you see that you have smothered me

219-020

Well, you're out there, just stay out there

ss105-060

Just when I was on to something else

205-097

That's when she figures me out

221-223

Stroke 9- Washin' and Wonderin'


"It may sound absurd...But don't be naive/ Even heroes have the right to bleed/ I may be disturbed/ But won't you concede/ Even heroes have the right to dream." (Superman, Five for Flying)

Edited by - realspacecadet on 09/23/2001 18:57:12