|"A Stitch in Time - Revised"|
Disclaimer: Dear Ms. Metz and Mr. Katims, can Max and the others come to
my house to play? I'll try to have them back in time for dinner. Thanks, loon.|
Summary: AU Fic. No spoilers. Max had thought just being an alien would fulfil the 'weirdness quotient' for his whole life, but now he had to cope with the concept of aliens from the future. And not just 'good' aliens from the future. There was a whole organization of 'bad' aliens from the future and he, Isabel and Michael had been recruited to help stop them.
Authors Note: Dedication: to Addison, my first fan.
|Liz was waiting with some trepidation for Max to return with his
friends. The bread was all baked, the stew was simmering in the crock
pot, the sleeping arrangements taken care of, the house was straightened
up; everything she could do to occupy her mind while she waited had been
Then about an hour ago she had gotten one of her 'feelings,' A positive one, thank goodness. She somehow knew that Max and his friends were safe and now she could wait without worrying.
She walked down to the lake and sat on the bench there to watch the sunset. When she heard the jeep coming up the driveway she started back to the house. There was a car with two people in it following. \\That would be Max's friends,\\ she thought and then added, \\Duh.\\
Max drove the jeep towards the house. It was just starting to get dark but the house looked so inviting with the lights burning inside and the porch light on. It felt like he was coming home, he realized. Alex and Maria got out of their car and began to gather their baggage. Max went over to help Maria. "Did you pack everything you own?" Max teased.
Maria teased right back, "Yes, do you have any objection to that?" When Max laughed and held up his hands in capitulation, she added, " Some of these boxes contain Michael's computer files. Alex thought it was a good idea to make a copy of everything Michael had and then fill the hard drives with the old files the previous owners had backed up."
Alex explained, "That way if our burglar comes back he'll find tons of information but it won’t be the information he was looking for. It should take a while for him to discover that."
"Alex created false names and addresses so no one would be endangered," Maria added.
"Good thinking," Max voiced his approval. Then he noticed that Liz had silently approached along the path from the lake. She was just standing there in the growing darkness, watching. It was almost like she was afraid to come forward. He turned and looked at her, waiting for her to make the first move, trying to send out soothing vibes.
Liz had been silently observing the two strangers, trying to get a feel for them. She approved of their obvious affection and concern for one another. Meeting new people was extremely difficult for her but she thought that maybe these two would be ones she could be around without the intense discomfort some people created in her.
Gathering all her courage, she walked out of the shadows towards them. Stopping about six feet away, she waited for Max to say something. She knew he had seen her come up.
Max smiled at Liz and held out his hand for her to come closer. She looked like a nervous fawn, ready to run for the safety of the woods. When she stayed where she was he began the introductions. "Maria, Alex, this is Liz Parker. Liz, these are two of my closest friends, Maria DeLuca and Alex Whitman."
Liz did not offer her hand, but said sincerely, "I'm very pleased to meet you. You are welcome to stay here for as long as necessary."
Alex and Maria smiled and looked at this woman who had had such effect of their friend. They saw a very slender, almost too thin woman about 5'2'' with her dark hair pulled back. She was attractive despite a massive bruise covering one cheek.
Maria said, "We can't thank you enough for your hospitality. Your house looks so beautiful. The mountains are magnificent, what we saw of them anyway, because it was getting too dark. Was that a lake we just passed as we came up the driveway? Love your gate opener, by the way."
"Forgive Maria," advised Alex. "She's been cooped up with me for too long. She's starved for female conversation."
Liz smiled at them and said, "That's okay. Are you hungry? Dinner is ready." She said shyly to Max, "Glad you all made it back safely." Then she turned and walked towards the house.
Max helped Alex gather the luggage and looked at Maria with his eyebrows raised as if to say, "Got your 'Maria-sensors' working?" They all followed Liz into the house.
"Alex, I've put you upstairs with Max. Max, will you show Alex where everything is?" She smiled her thank you at Max. "Maria, if you'll follow me, I'll show you to your room." She picked up two of Maria's bags and set off down the hall toward her office. She turned and smiled at Maria as she walked. "I have a daybed in the office, hope you don't mind. It's comfortable, though, I've slept in it before."
"You're not serious, are you? At this point, any room with any type of bed will do. I can't thank you enough for taking us in like this."
"That's okay. Glad to help. I cleared out space in the closet and the chest of drawers in the corner is empty." Liz pointed as she talked to Maria. "Sorry for the messy computer desk." She rolled her eyes in self-derision. "I can't seem to keep ahead of it."
"Little elves come out at night and have parties. They leave terrible messes. I ought to know: they visit my kitchen all the time." Maria laughed with Liz.
"The bathroom across the hall has a shower and the towels are in the linen closet. Want to clean up before dinner?" Liz asked courteously. "It's just stew and will keep."
"A quick wash up and I'll be ready to eat, Liz. Thanks again."
Liz went into the kitchen and began to set the table.
Max led the way upstairs and when he entered the bedroom he stopped in shock at the sight of the rearranged room and the second twin bed. He was totally at a loss for words and just motioned for Alex to put his stuff on the new bed. "What's up, Max?" Alex asked, seeing nothing out of the ordinary.
"Last time I was in here, there was only one bed."
"You mean she magicked up a bed? Can Czechoslovakians do that? Is this the proof you've been looking for?"
Max frowned at Alex. "Give me a break, Alex. You should know us better by now. I was just surprised to see it and shocked that she could carry it up from wherever she got it. She's just a skinny little thing. Half of her is hair.
"Maybe she power lifts in her spare time." Max gave him another look. "Kidding." Alex looked around. "Whose room did this used to be? Her son's?"
"Yes. Hers is across the hall and the middle door is the bathroom." Max paused in thought, then continued. "Hey, Alex. I know you have suspicions, but go easy on her. She tries not to show it, but she's had it really rough lately."
Alex was going to reply when they both heard Maria calling from downstairs. They obediently trooped down the stairs to dinner. There wasn't much conversation at dinner; all were lost in their own thoughts. When they were all done Liz began to clear the table.
"Oh, Liz. Let me help." Maria began to get up as she talked.
Max interrupted. "That's okay, Maria. Why don't you and Alex get settled in and I'll help Liz." One look at his face and they didn't argue. He had on his stubborn face and obviously wanted time alone with Liz.
Liz smiled her thanks and continued cleaning off the table. Max waited until his friends had left the room and then gathered a handful of plates. "Whose turn is it in our continuing question exchange?" Max asked casually. Liz looked up at him, startled. He continued without waiting for her response. "If you insist, I'll go next. Why didn't you wait until you had help to move that bed?!" Max was trying without much success not to sound upset. "You might have hurt yourself."
Liz just looked at him. Her aura gave him no clues. "Force of habit." She turned back to the sink and continued rinsing dishes. "Thanks for your concern, Max, but I'm not helpless."
Max was consumed with questions and began "Liz, about that scanner on the gate…"
She held up her hand to stop him. "My turn." She had a matching stubborn look on her face. "Wipe off the table, please," she asked with a smile. \\No hard feelings, Max. I'll respect your secrets if you respect mine.\\
Max looked at her for a moment and turned to do as she asked. He wiped the table and the counters and had started on the stove, waiting for her question. Finally he said, "I'm waiting for your question, Liz."
Liz was finished loading the dishwasher and she hid her smile. "Patience, Max. I'm still thinking. And I think I'll go down and say goodnight to the lake while I do my thinking." She smiled innocently and quickly left the kitchen. She escaped out the door, grabbed her quilt from her rocker and ran down to the bench by the lake.
Maria had been watching and listening from the doorway of her room. She walked down the hall, gently laughing. "Well, Max, how does it feel to be out-stubborned?"
Max just folded his arms and scowled. Maria came up and gave him a comforting hug. "We'll figure all this out together, Max. Don't try to carry it all on your shoulders like you usually do."
"Maria, I— " He stopped at her look, smiled ruefully then continued. "I don't know when I've had so many unanswered questions and it's starting to get to me."
Alex entered the kitchen. "Max got out-stubborned? And I missed it?"
"All right, you guys, enough's enough. Let's go and sit on the porch. There's a full moon tonight." Max led the way to the porch. Maria and Alex accepted quilts from Liz's quilt basket and followed him outside. They looked quizzically at the quilts and Max said in explanation, "Gets chilly after dark at this altitude."
They sat without talking for a short time, all of them caught up with their own thought, then Alex stood up. "I'm going to take a walk in the moonlight and ponder the unponderables." He took off around the house and disappeared.
"He's really worried about Isabel, Max."
"He needs to get in line," Max said, not unsympathetically, then lapsed into silence again. They both stared out at the lake and a small, still figure illuminated by the moon. Max noticed Alex approaching along the path heading toward Liz. He sat up in concern.
"What?" said Maria, becoming concerned at Max's concern.
They watched as Alex reached out and touched Liz's arm apparently to get her attention. "Oh shit," Max said under his breath as Liz sprang into an automatic defensive reaction and Alex went down.
Maria had started down the porch steps when Max stopped her. "Wait, let's see what happens. I don’t believe she injured him." They watched Liz stand motionless and Alex gingerly pick himself up. They talked for a few moments and Alex came up the path to the house and Liz remained at the lake.
When he got to the porch and saw that he had an audience he crossed his arms over his chest and said, "Alright, I'm humiliated."
Max laughed softly and said, "She bloodied my nose. My advice is don't startle her. She's small but she's mighty."
Maria looked at Max. "Was that when you kidnapped her? Serves you right."
"No, she had a nightmare and I rushed in to see why she was screaming. She had fallen out of bed and was tangled in the bedclothes. I tried to help her. You know the rest." He laughed to himself at the part of that story he wasn't telling.
"She was sitting there on the bench and I guess she didn't hear me come up so I reached out to get her attention and wammo!" Alex said. "I didn't notice the tears on her cheeks until she apologized to me."
"Did she acknowledge that she was crying?" Max knew the answer, but asked anyway.
"No, she just wiped her face dry and apologized for knocking me down. She was genuinely concerned that she might have hurt me."
Max sat on the steps and rubbed his face with his hands. He groaned, "Frickin' questions." He looked out at his mystery woman. "I have so many questions."
"I'm assuming you're not talking about the dissidents," Maria said. She put a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. "Well, I don't have any answers, Max, and it's late." She yawned.
Max stood up and said contritely, "You guys have had a long day. Sorry for burdening you with my…" Maria put her fingers over his mouth.
Alex said, "Don't even say it, Max. We'll get through all this together. In the morning it will look brighter."
"Yeah, the sun will be up." Maria snorted. She hugged Max and Alex and went inside. Alex put a comforting hand on Max's shoulder then followed Maria.
Max retrieved his quilt and sat in his rocker. He watched the lonely figure sitting on the lakeside bench. His heart ached for her sitting there alone in her pain but he didn't feel he had the right to offer comfort. How could he ask her to reveal her secrets when he couldn't reveal his own? \\Frickin' secrets.\\
Max went up to bed but didn't get to sleep until much later. Liz still hadn't come in when he fell asleep.
|Part 10 | Index | Part 12|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|