|"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.
|Max stayed in the office, lost in thought. He sat down in her chair and
leaned back. Idly his eyes rested on a small photograph he hadn't seen
the first time he had been, well, snooping around her desk. It showed an
attractive elderly woman with a Yorkshire Terrier on her lap. This was
normal, but what wasn't normal was that the woman and the Yorkie shared
the same ears. |
He picked up the photo and looked closely. Yes, it did indeed look like she had dog ears. He could see where her hair was carefully brushed around the ears. It looked so real. What was this? He was still examining the photo when Liz returned.
When she saw what he was looking at she laughed a little and admitted, "That's my Mom. I gave her those ears."
Max's mouth opened but no sound came out. Liz realized what he was thinking and rushed to correct him. "Max, I manipulated a digital image, not her molecular structure." She took the photo from him and looked at it, smiling in fond memory. "I used to tease her that she and Toby looked so much alike with that white streak in the front of their hair. So one Mother's Day I scanned this photo and copied Toby's ears and put them on her." She put the photo back on her desk. "Not a bad job even if I do say so myself."
Max laughed with her and then reached up and drew her down into his lap for a cuddle. He wanted to give her as much emotional support as he could and not allow her to go back into her shell.
Liz sighed a big sigh and snuggled her face into Max's neck. "It feels so nice to be held like this, Max. Thanks so much."
"My pleasure." And he did enjoy just holding her and giving her the physical closeness that had been sadly lacking in her life. His eyes rested on her desk again and he noticed some legal papers there. Quite a stack of them. "Liz, I see some legal papers on your desk. Do you need help going through them? I have a legal background and would be glad to help if you want me to."
Liz raised her head and looked at the papers he indicated. "Maybe later. I usually have to go through them single word by single word with my 'Lawyer to English' translation book handy." She snuggled back against his chest. "I'm enjoying this too much to crank up my brain enough to read those."
Max's conscience was stinging him for being so nosy. "Liz. If I ask you a question you don't want to answer, if you feel I'm sticking my nose in where it doesn't belong… feel free to tell me. I have highly refined detective instincts and you…" He touched her lightly on her nose. "…incite them unbehrably." He followed his touch with a kiss then brushed her cheek lightly with his palm.
She was such an innocent child in some ways. But then, considering her history, it wasn't surprising that she was devoid of 'experience.' What did surprise him was that she accepted his kisses and hugs without any obvious evidence that her rape had scarred her emotionally. He admired her strength and resiliency; a weaker person would have crumbled under such burdens. And he was here now and she would not have to carry them alone anymore.
The oven timer interrupted them again. Liz extricated herself from Max's embrace and smiled shyly at him. Without saying anything she went into the kitchen to finish dinner preparations. Max followed and set the table. They worked in a companionable silence, each occupied with their own thoughts.
Liz looked out the front windows and saw Maria and Alex on their way back from the lake. They were walking closely and Alex had a brotherly arm around her. Liz looked up at Max. "Maria really needs to talk to Michael. Could we dreamwalk him tonight?"
"I will not drain your energy like I did last time we dreamwalked, Liz. It's too hard on you. You had a nightmare that night, if you recall." Max came up behind her as she watched out the window and wrapped his arms around her.
Liz twisted in his arms so she could look him in the eye. "So, you're refusing to let me help bring comfort to my friend Maria in the only way I can?"
Ouch. Why did she have to phrase it that way? Max winced and rethought his position. He reached down and kissed her nose. It was a cute nose and deserved a kiss.
He turned her back around and wrapped her snugly in his arms again. "Okay. Let's think this through. What did your mom do to protect you when she tapped your energy?"
"Ummm. When she was healing me she kinda surrounded me with her aura and projected love and security. Then I would relax my shields as much as possible. And then…" Liz turned again to look Max determinedly in the eye. "…she would draw as much energy as she needed because we both knew it wouldn't hurt me. If I became too tired, I'd just fall asleep like I did the other night. I wasn't hurt in any way, Max."
Distracted, Max asked, "You can see auras?" Liz nodded yes. "Could you and your mother telepath each other?" Another nod. **Can you hear me, Liz?** Her expression was unreadable but she hesitantly nodded yes.
Maria and Alex came in the front door at this point. "Hey, it was our turn to cook dinner tonight but I can tell by the wonderful aromas wafting our way we're too late. Sorry," Alex said.
Maria picked up on the fact that they had interrupted something, and she put her arm through Alex's and hurried him down the hall. "We'll just go wash up. It might take us a while. Holler real loud when you're ready for us to come eat— we'll have the door closed."
Liz couldn't help but smile at Maria's words. She started towards the kitchen but Max didn't let her go. He wasn't smiling. His face looked determined and as he opened his mouth to say something Liz spoke up quickly in a teasing voice, "You know Max, you're starting to look a lot like Kato. And it's been a long time since I've had any practice…"
Max let himself be distracted; he would pick this conversation up later. "You know, I got a flash of you and Dave 'practicing' when I touched one of his belts the other day. Who was better? It looked pretty serious to me."
"Dave was better, hands down. Besides, he would get me laughing and I'd be helpless."
"So that's the secret to controlling you, hmmm?" He wiggled his eyebrows at her.
"Oh, but I have secret weapons. I bite and pull hair."
"So you resort to fighting like a girl?"
"You'd better watch what you say, buster. I also have a super secret weapon that has never failed." Liz looked at Max mischievously and slowly began to put her hand near his waistband in back. She reached up on tiptoe and whispered in his ear as she got a grip on the waistband of his boxers. "The wedgie…"
Max laughed and used both arms to reach behind himself to try to prevent the super secret weapon from getting him and Liz took this opportunity to get away and darted into the kitchen. She turned around and laughed at him from the kitchen. "See? It always works. Even if it's just a threat." She raised her voice. "Maria, Alex. Dinner is ready."
Max had to laugh at her as he went down the hall to wash up. When he came back to the dining room he heard Maria's voice. "Oh Liz! It would be so wonderful if we could actually dreamwalk Michael. You're absolutely sure it won't hurt you?"
Liz looked at Max as she responded to Maria. "Absolutely positively sure." She smiled and hugged Maria. "I know you want to see Michael."
Maria caught the by-play between Liz and Max. "Max, what do you say?"
"I say that Liz is the most stubborn, pig-headed woman I've ever met." Max hugged Liz lightly so she wouldn't misunderstand his words. "If I agree to this, will you do exactly as I tell you?" When she nodded he pulled her chair out and seated her.
Dinner conversation was about light and casual topics and when everyone was finished Maria shooed Liz and Max into the living room so she and Alex could clean up. Max took Liz's hand and led her out to the porch where they could have more privacy.
Max sat down in Liz's rocking chair and pulled her into his lap. "Max, there are two chairs… and I've been sitting upright for some years now."
"So?" He settled them comfortably. "Your point would be?" He laughed as Liz nestled in with her head tucked under his chin. And then jumped when she pinched him for laughing. **So, you can hear me when I telepath to you, can you. I knew I wasn't mistaken when you 'pathed to me about grabbing that rope.**
Liz looked up at him and said, "I didn't realize I was doing it at the time. Mom and Dave were the only people I could communicate with like that."
**'path to me, Liz.** Max encouraged her with his eyes.
**Max…** A look of wonder filled her eyes. Then, unable to handle the intensity, she buried her face back into Max's chest. She felt rather than heard him chuckle. **What did you do for amusement before you met me?**
**I must admit that my life was pretty dull.** He wrapped his arms around her small form and began to rock. **Rock a bye baby…** "Ouch!" **If you pinch me again I'll have to retaliate, you know. You look like a ticklish person…**
**Wedgie…** Liz threatened, then giggled.
**I'll quit wearing underwear…**
Liz popped her head up in shock and exclaimed, "MAX!" Then, her face flaming red, she hid again. **You're so bad.**
**Just call me Commando Max, braving the Kung Fu Queen, on a tickling raid.** Max began to move his hand, searching along her ribs for a ticklish spot. He felt her body tense as he neared one and then had to reassign his priorities as he now had a lap full of struggling Liz. They both laughed as they wrestled in the rocking chair, searching for each other's ticklish spots.
In the house, Alex heard the commotion and peeked out the window. He shook his head and went back to finish helping Maria. "Now, that's a braver man than I," he commented to her. "He's tickling Liz." He chuckled and shook his head at their antics.
"And he's still alive?!" Maria had to see for herself and peeked out the window just in time to see Max and Liz fall out of the rocker, still locked in their tickle battle. She saw Max jerk, then pull back and accuse Liz of biting. Maria laughed at them and then motioned Alex to join her on the porch.
"All right, all right. Children behave yourselves!" But she was secretly very happy to see this horseplay. It had been a long time since she had seen Max laughing like this.
The four friends settled down, Max and Alex insisting that the girls have the rockers. Max leaned against the porch railing, facing Liz. He thought she looked beautiful all flushed from their play. She was trying regain her composure after having been caught rolling around the porch. Max telepathed a chuckle to Liz and was rewarded with one in return. A telepathic chuckle was somewhat like being tickled from the inside, Max thought.
"So, Max, when do you think we'll have the best chance of contacting Michael during a dreamwalk?" Maria was anxious to start.
Max grimaced and scratched the back of his head. He really didn't want to use Liz's energy but he was feeling pressured into it. He didn’t have enough energy to do the dreamwalk by himself.
"Maybe we can try short dreamwalks every hour until we catch either one of them. Then we can get some idea of their schedule and won't have to waste energy?" Liz was going to see that Maria had a chance to talk to Michael no matter what it took. She knew Overprotective Max would refuse to let her help if given half a chance. **Please, Max. It means a lot to me to be able to help.**
"I'll stay out of the 'walk and just provide energy like Liz, if it would help," offered Alex.
"Alex, you are my buddy. Thanks." Maria hugged him.
With three faces looking expectantly at him, Max gave in. "Let's go inside and get started, then."
Maria squealed and threw herself at him for a hug. When Liz stood up to go inside, Maria included her in the hug. They went into the living room and Maria and Alex arranged themselves on the floor.
Max knelt down to put Maria and Alex to sleep. "I won't bring you in, Maria, until I've made contact with Michael. Our energy source…" He glanced over at Liz. "…will last longer." When they were asleep he went over to Liz and stood looking at her.
Becoming very uncomfortable under his scrutiny Liz reached out her hand and touched his arm. "Max. Let's get started." He reached out and framed her face with both large hands. He pulled her in for a kiss then folded her in his arms wordlessly. Their auras blended together with the shining gold of love. They both drew comfort from each other's touch and they stood like that for a while.
Max sat down cross-legged beside their sleeping friends and pulled Liz into his lap. With his arms wrapped around her and his aura projecting his love, he connected to her freely offered energy and entered the dream plane. He called out for Isabel and Michael and waited. Then he left and returned to reality.
Liz was looking at him when he opened his eyes. "What's it like?" she asked wistfully. "What? The dream plane?" When she nodded, he continued. "Well, humans can only be there outside of their dream orb if one of Al'Centran blood is with them. It's a very peaceful place. Somewhat like a cross between heaven and a Lawrence Welk concert. The dream orbs float around looking like large soap bubbles and when we're there we are somehow supported on clouds. The mist obscures the distance and what passes for reality there is very malleable."
"It's like heaven? I'd love to visit there sometime. I wonder…" she broke off and her aura displayed sadness.
"What do you wonder, sweetling? Tell me," he asked gently as he stroked her soft cheek.
She met his eyes and he could see her sadness. "My son… Dave's dead. In the cold, harsh light of reality, I know this. But deep in my heart I can still feel him; it feels like he is still alive." Her unshed tears glimmered in the light. "I have to keep reminding myself of the reality of the situation because denying it is so tempting. I would give anything to be able to tell him I love him and to say goodbye."
"Is that why you say that he's 'dead' when you refer to him? I wondered why Cleopatra didn't use one of the gentler euphemisms." He pulled her close and rocked her. After a while he asked, "Would you let me help you to take a nap? I promise to wake you for our next attempt." When she nodded he put his hand on her head and used his powers to put her into a restful sleep.
When it was time, Max awoke his sleeping beauty with a kiss. They exchanged a smile and he entered the dream plane. This time Michael was waiting for him.
"Maxwell! It's good to see you. Man, I have to tell you that you scared me shitless when you fell down into that ravine! Isabel kept telling me she would know if you were dead, but I must say, it's good to see you with my own eyes."
"Thanks, Michael. I knew I could count on you to take over and Isabel tells me I wasn't wrong. Maybe you missed your calling… Isabel tells me you earned a promotion?"
"Yeah, but I still haven't been able to get that beacon set yet. There's something going on, I don't know what just yet. Don't trust anyone. I think they have a ringer in Gregory's bunch."
They discussed business for a short time then Max said, "So, two hours later is a better time to meet? Every other night, remember? Now, Michael, if you look right over there you'll see a certain somebody's dream orb… She really wants to talk to you. I'd bring her into the dream plane but I think we've used enough of Liz's energy for tonight."
"Liz's energy? What's up, Max?"
"Later. I'll bring Maria in Monday night, then it'll be Alex's turn. Tell Iz to meet us." And Max returned to the reality of Liz's living room and her warm body in his arms.
He opened his eyes to find Liz looking at him, an affectionate smile on her lips. "Welcome back," she said shyly. Then she yawned and stretched gracefully.
Tempted beyond resistance, Max tightened his arms and buried his face in her neck, her long silky hair brushing his cheeks. He breathed in her scent then began kissing his way up toward her mouth. He pulled back far enough that he could look into her dark eyes.
"Uh, Max. I really hate to interrupt, but did you talk to Isabel?"
Max and Liz looked over at an abashed Alex. His normal consideration would never have allowed him to interrupt, but he was really worried about his wife. "I saw Michael this time. He said Isabel is fine, so try not to worry. We've arranged a schedule of contacts to best use our available energy. Right now Michael is visiting Maria's dream. I didn't bring her into the dream plane this time; too much business to discuss and we were running short on energy. I'll bet that if you get yourself to sleep you'll have a visitor."
Alex began to get to his feet. "Thank you kindly for this information. I suddenly feel quite sleepy and will take myself off to beddy bye."
Max got to his feet also, reaching down an arm to help Liz. "Hand me a quilt, please, Alex. We'll just cover Maria up and leave her to her dreams." Then he took Liz's hand and followed Alex toward the stairs. "Do you want me to help you get back to sleep, Alex?"
Alex looked back at him gratefully, "Would you? I suddenly find myself a little too excited to get directly to sleep." He went into the bedroom and began to get ready.
Max led Liz into her bedroom to wait until Alex was ready. He was admiring the quilt she was working on when he heard Alex's voice calling him. "Be right back, Liz. Be ready for bed when I return." She looked at him in question. "Please," he said as he left the room.
Liz stood there bemused until she heard, **Are you ready yet?** Then she quickly went into the bathroom, brushed her teeth then undressed and got her nightgown on. She was coming out when she met Max coming up the stairs. He was wearing the robe she gave him that first night.
"I shut off the lights and locked up. Maria will sleep okay on the floor. Her dreams will keep her happy, I'm sure." Max smiled and took Liz's arm to lead her into her bedroom.
"What are you doing, Max"
Max led her over to her bed and pulled the covers back. He picked her up and tossed her into bed, then taking off the robe, he climbed after her. "I'm going to hold you in my arms all night and protect you from nightmares," he said smugly. "And I'm better dressed than the first time," he said, indicating his boxers and t-shirt.
"Max…" Liz started.
"Hush. You agreed to do what I said if I let you provide energy for our dreamwalking. I think it tires you too much and that's what triggers a nightmare. So, I'm here to try to prevent that. And… if you do have one, I'll be here to help you."
He lay down on his side and opened his arms for Liz to cuddle close. When she remained sitting there looking at him, he smiled at her, reached up and drew her down beside him. **You did say you'd do what I told you... OUCH! No pinching.**
**Quit gloating, then.** She turned her back to him and snuggled in when he put his arms around her. **Night, Max.**
|Part 21 | Index | Part 23|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|