FanFic - Max/Liz
"A Stitch in Time - Revised"
Part 8
by Lynda
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.
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: PG-13
Authors Note: Dedication: to Addison, my first fan.
Max awoke suddenly to the sound of terrified screams coming from Liz's bedroom. He burst across the hall and into her room. Thanks to the light in the hall he could see her struggling figure on the floor at the foot of the bed, trapped in the bedclothes and screaming. He rushed over to her and tried to take her in his arms to comfort her but he got popped in the nose for his troubles.

Liz finally made it out from underneath the tangled sheets, and crying, she managed to gasp out, "Sorry. Sorry. Bad dream. Sorry. Don't touch. Sorry, I'm sorry." She buried her face in the sheets and began to cry in earnest. To Max's total amazement she cried for only a minute before raising her tear streaked face up and regaining control. "I've bloodied your nose." she informed him softly.

Max just sat back on his heels in total shock. Liz quickly got to her feet, went into the bathroom and returned with a cold, wet washcloth. "Here."

Max took the cloth and held it to his nose. He just stared at this enigma crouching before him in her nightgown, long dark hair in disarray. "It seems I'm not the only one with secrets." \\Shit! When did I get foot-in-mouth disease!\\

Liz looked at him calmly. "It's not a secret, Max. It's just reality coming back to haunt me after a period of denial."

"Oh, Liz, I'm sorry I said that," Max groaned.

"It's okay, Max. I'll tell you some other time. Just not now."

"Okay, Cleopatra," Max said in a teasing voice.

Liz chuckled and said, "Oh, and Max? It might be a good idea if you put your robe on before you rush into a lady's bedroom to rescue her." She buried her head back in her sheets but this time she was laughing.

Max looked down and for the first time became aware of his state of undress. His face flamed, but he had to laugh as he made his exit.

The next morning Max took his shower and put on his clean clothes. He walked over and climbed out the window to the deck, intending to enjoy the sunrise like he had yesterday. He was startled to hear Liz's quiet voice say, "Good morning, Max." He looked over and was treated to an amazing display. There was Liz in her robe and she had her freshly washed hair combed down over her face and spread out on her raised knees.

She pushed a strand behind one ear, exposing her face a little and smiled at him. "Have a seat." she offered.

Quite at a loss for words, Max took the seat indicated and watched, totally captivated, as Liz continued to brush her hair dry in the morning sun. After a while, Liz spoke up. "Is your nose okay this morning?"

"Um, yeah, it's fine." Max could barely form words. He was trying to come to grips with the intense attraction he felt toward a woman he had only known for two days. He shook his head and gave up. "I'll have to remember what a fierce fighter you are. I guess I'm just a slow learner. That wasn't the first time you've inflicted pain upon my poor body." He loved to tease her.

She brushed the hair out of her face and looked over at him, "What?" Then she remembered all the other times during her 'capture' that she had hit and kicked him and laughed. "Let that be a lesson for you." She finished brushing her hair back into place, totally unaware of how spellbound Max was.

Liz turned in her chair, drawing her feet up under her robe. "Max, I do need to tell you something." She waited until she had his attention. "It really isn't advisable to try to touch me when I'm really upset," she began somewhat hesitantly. "Dave was a black belt in Hapkido and a brown in Kung Su Do. He taught me some really down and dirty defensive moves."

Max was beyond amazement. He just chuckled and said, "I noticed."

Liz blushed and gave him one of her crooked smiles. "We played this game… did you ever see Peter Sellers in 'The Pink Panther'?" Max nodded. "Well, don't laugh at me, but… I told you Dave had this really twisted sense of humor… He got a kick out of pretending he was Kato and I was Inspector Clouseau and he would 'attack' me at odd moments, trying to catch me off guard." Liz sat a moment, lost in fond memory, then continued. "Anyway, he had an ulterior motive. He was installing a set of really keen defensive reactions in me. It was loads of fun. He never knew that I could tell when he was sneaking up on me. It gave me an unfair advantage."

Max was suddenly curious. He asked, "How could you tell where he was? Was he noisy or not sneaky enough?"

Liz looked thoughtful. "No," she said slowly. "I could always tell where he was, even when he was in town. It was probably just over-developed 'mom sense'," she said. She wasn't going to tell Max she was developing the same sensitivity with him; somehow she knew where he was, too. \\Secrets and questions all around, I guess,\\ she thought.

"Well, time to start the day. Meet you downstairs when you're ready, Max." And with that she got up and climbed though the window into her room.

Max watched as she turned around and noticed that her hair was way down below her butt. \\Such incredibly gorgeous long hair,\\ he thought. \\And such a cute butt… Stop that!\\ He sighed and wondered yet again what was getting into him. He needed to focus on the business of re-establishing contact with his group and seeing what the next steps were. Max collected his scattered thoughts and made his way downstairs. He had decided to cook Liz breakfast and wait on her for a change.

He arrived in the kitchen to find Liz dressed and with her hair back in its usual braid. She had coffee and some kind of fancy bread cut and set on plates. "I was planning on making breakfast for you but I see I'll have to get up earlier."

"It's no biggie. Thanks to the miracle of freezers and microwave ovens. Sit down…" Liz said absently as she put the finishing touches on breakfast.

"…and put my ankle up. Ha! Beat you to it." They smiled at each other. "And before you ask, my ankle is very much improved." \\Thanks to another partial healing session this morning.\\ They ate in silence, each occupied with their own thoughts.

Liz broke the silence, having organized what she wanted to say. Max had spent his time watching Liz. "Okay, let's see if I have this straight. One: Michael, Isabel and the terrorists are gone somewhere and we can't reach them." Max nodded. "Two: we can't go to the regular authorities because we don't know who is safe." Another nod. "Three: you have to stay away from your family and friends to keep them safe. And four: you can't contact your group until sometime next week. That how things stand so far?"

Max nodded but remained silent.

"Concentrate, Max, it's your sister and friend who are out on a limb," Liz admonished. "Is the altitude getting to you? We're up around 10,000 feet here," she added, concerned. Altitude sickness was nothing to mess around with.

"A wise woman once told me it was a waste of energy to worry about something I had no immediate control over," Max said, and then had to duck quickly to dodge the wadded up napkin Liz threw at him.

"Point taken. But I'm not worrying, I'm planning ahead. There's a difference," Liz insisted.

Max smiled at his success in teasing her then sat up and got down to business. "I have to trust that Michael and Isabel are okay and will accomplish what I wasn't able to. While it wouldn't be advisable for me to physically go home, I can contact Alex and Maria over the Internet. Alex will send an encryption program so there's no chance of anyone knowing what we say. I can contact the group over the Internet also; we have a regular mail drop. I can send them email anytime, but they can only retrieve it on schedule. Is it too much to hope that you have Internet access all the way up here at 10,000 feet above sea level?

Liz laughed aloud. She said with amusement still coloring her voice, "Well, I think I can arrange for that Internet access for you." She stood up and walked around the table to the French doors. Then in her best game hostess imitation she said, "And the gentleman chooses what's behind door number one!" She swung the door open and gestured grandly at the contents of the room. Max's mouth dropped open in surprise. The small room contained wall to wall computer equipment, monitors, scanners, printers; everything a computer geek could possibly want.

"Boy, oh boy. If Alex could see this he would think he had died and gone to computer heaven. Are you the resident geek?" Max marveled. He saw Liz shake her head 'no'. "So we have Dave to thank then." Liz looked at him with gratitude for his easy mention of her son.

"I only know basic computer stuff. Dave set this all up. It's quite sophisticated; he was rather proud of it." Liz smiled, proud of her son. "Help yourself. Nothing is password protected." She started to clean the table and stopped Max from helping her. "Go on and get busy, I'll take care of this."

Max began the process of contacting Alex to get that encryption program. Then he spent time acquainting himself with the computer system while he waited for Alex's email.

Liz cleaned up breakfast and began organizing supplies for chocolate chip cookies. She said to Max, "Don't log off yet, I have to send a grocery order out." Max looked at her in question and she pointed out, "I can't go to town until my bruises go away. It would cause too much question."

She continued mixing the cookie batter until a new thought occurred to her. "Max, make a list of sizes and what clothes you'll need to hold you over." Then taking pity on his baffled look she explained, "A couple of Dave's friends in town occasionally do shopping for me to earn money for college. They're nice kids. I give them an extra tip in the form of cookies." After she put the first batch in the oven to bake Liz pulled up a chair and started typing the email on another computer.

"His and hers computers," Max smiled in amusement.

Liz looked up and smiled. "Actually, mine's a Mac and it's in my the office."

When she got to Max's list, she added a few more items.

Leaning over to look at her computer screen, Max said, "I don't have much extra cash on me and I can't access my account until this business with the terrorists is settled."

Liz shook her head and responded, "Don't sweat the small stuff, Max. This won't bankrupt me and you can pay me back later."

Max asked her, "How are you going to explain the men's clothing on your shopping list or is this a common occurrence?"

"Oh, yeah, every day and twice on Sunday. You goose. \\If you only knew— you're the first adult male that has ever slept under the same roof as me.\\ In case you didn't know, you are now one of Denny's cousins in for a visit and the airport lost your luggage."

The oven timer dinged so she got up to take care of her cookies. "One or the other of the kids is frequently online so they should get our email right away. It usually doesn't take them long to do the shopping and we'll have our stuff sometime this afternoon."

In a short time they had both finished their tasks. Max was still waiting for Alex's program but had spent time writing up his report. Liz had finished the cookies and offered some to Max.

"These are really good," he complimented.

She said mysteriously, "My mom's secret family recipe." Then she chuckled. "That's an inside joke: the recipe is really the one on the back of the chocolate chip package, but she always said it was her secret recipe. Actually, she always dipped hers in hot sauce. Dave did, too."

Max kept his face impassive. "So, did you inherit your mom's odd sense of humor too, or did it skip a generation and hit Dave."

"You weren't listening the other night: I'm adopted. And you'll just have to wait and see what my sense of humor is like."

"Do you remember your birth parents?" Max asked. "Don't answer if it bothers you. It really is none of my business."

"No, it doesn't bother me at all. I always knew I was adopted, but I have no memory of my life before. Mom found me wandering in the desert and when no one claimed me, she adopted me. She used to tease me about finding me under a cabbage leaf. When I was old enough to realize that cabbages didn't grow in the desert she said it was a very special cabbage leaf. Mom was good to me and I had a great childhood— no adoption traumas here. \\And I don't know what I would have done without her.\\

Max sat there silently, adding up things in his mind. He looked up when Liz put a wrapped package on the table. "I need to put these cookies down in the drop box at the end of the driveway. It's too far for you to walk yet, but if you need to get out of the house we can drive."

Max stood up and stretched. "A drive sounds nice, even if it’s a short one."

Liz smiled mischievously. "Come with me to the garage. I'll show you our chariot." She led the way to the garage. Max walked over to the jeep, but Liz said, "Wrong chariot." She pulled a tarp off an ATV and continued, "This one is more fun. Have you ever driven one of these?"

Max's eyes lit up and he grinned in anticipation. "I've got one just like it at home. Only mine doesn't have a storage box on back or a pillow…"

"I'll have you know that is a custom made backrest to insure the comfort of the passenger: me!" Liz said haughtily. She spoiled her act by laughing. Then she balanced her package of cookies in one arm and hopped on the seat then scooted back to give Max room. "Come on, Max. The key's in it."

Max didn't waste another minute. He carefully swung his leg over the seat and started the ATV. He let the engine warm up for a few minutes then took off down the driveway. Before long the gate appeared across the road. On the other side was a small shed that he hadn't noticed before.

Liz said, "Lean forward or get off, Max." He got off and Liz followed before he could offer a hand to steady her. She climbed nimbly over the gate and fished her key out of her pocket. She opened a door in the shed and placed the cookies on a bench inside.

"Eddie and Ceci have their own key," she said as she climbed back over the fence and hopped back on the ATV and gestured grandly up the road, "Home, James."

Max laughed and got back on the ATV. When they got to the house Liz leaned over his shoulder and said, "If you want a longer ride, go around the house and follow the road up the mountain. It's a nice smooth ride and shouldn't hurt your ankle."

Max didn't need further encouragement. He sped up and took off up the dirt road. Liz braced herself with her legs and laughed in delight. When they arrived at a clearing Liz tapped Max on the shoulder to get his attention. He turned to see what she wanted and she asked, "Want to stop here for a while? The view is fantastic."

"Yes, it is," Max said, looking at her.

Liz laughed and said, "No, silly goose, the view is that way." She hopped off the ATV and opened the storage box and took out an old quilt. Max took it from her and spread it out on the sparse grass. They sat down and looked out over the expanse of mountain beauty.

Liz did not understand why she felt so comfortable around this dark haired stranger beside her. She had long ago accepted the fact that she would almost certainly be alone (and lonely) for the rest of her life. Events in her past had seriously affected her ability to form relationships with men. Even casual association with certain men was impossible; Liz didn't know why her internal voice warned her away from them, she just obeyed it. Since she had moved to her mountain hideaway it was easier to feel safe.

But she was still lonely. She did have friends and acquaintances that she was comfortable being around but even before Dave and Dennis died there was a place deep inside her that was incredibly empty. Being around Max made that feeling go away. Being around him made her feel safe.

But what would he do if he found out all her secrets: about her uncertain ancestry, about the circumstances of Dave's conception and birth, about her not being able to have more children. Talk about baggage! From what she had observed, her secrets made her undesirable. She had accepted this as a fact, but now… since she had met Max, it saddened her.

After a while, Liz curled up on her side and took a much-needed nap. Her nightmare last night had kept her awake a long time.

Max turned from the mountain view and began a serious examination of the view lying asleep beside him. He found Liz incredibly attractive. She aroused all his protective instincts (among other things). This was a first for him. He was 31 years old and had never found anyone who made him feel this way. Isabel and Michael had found mates who knew their secret and accepted them. All four were quite happy. Although he was often lonely, he found comfort in the close affection of their group.

Max felt so contented in Liz's presence. She seemed to be comfortable around him; she even said she trusted him. This was remarkable when he considered how he had made her acquaintance. Kidnapping was not a socially acceptable method of meeting women.

He thought Liz was the most attractive woman he had ever met. She acted so natural around him; not obviously flirting like some women he had met. He remembered with distaste one occasion when he was in high school a new girl had pursued him relentlessly. He had never liked the name Tess since then. Liz wasn't like that. She very well could be the one he had been looking for.

But who, or more importantly, what was she? More and more Max became convinced that she wasn't 'human,' that she was like him. Her age, her adoption after being found in the desert, her mental shields, the fact that she telepathed to him above that ravine, these things all indicated to Max that Liz might be 'Czechoslovakian.' He chuckled to himself as he remembered how Maria and Alex referred to their non-human origins. He would love to have access to Michael's records; he had devoted much of his detective skills to finding the 'lost ones.'

Liz definitely was a mystery woman. He wanted her to be his mystery woman. He wanted to spend his life exploring her mysteries. He wanted to make sure nothing else happened that would cause her sadness.

Max's thoughts turned to another facet of his mystery woman. She was his age, but she had had a son old enough to attend college. His math skills were as advanced as any Al'Centran and it just didn't add up.

Her grief over her son's death was heartbreaking. He admired her bravery as she coped with it and yet could still find beauty and enjoyment in her life. She had laughed with such carefree enjoyment as he hot-rodded the ATV over those whoop de dos. He wished she had held onto him instead of the handholds on the rack. He loved to hear her laugh. He decided that he wanted to spend the rest of his life finding new ways to make her happy.

Liz stirred in her sleep and Max noticed tears leaking from her closed eyelids. He felt his heart ache in sympathy; he was positive he knew the source of her tears. He wished she would turn to him for comfort, but although she acknowledged her grief, she held herself separate and didn't ask for help. Max wondered if there had ever been anyone there for her to lean on. He'd bet real money that since her mother had died, there had been no shoulder for her to lean on. \\I have nice broad shoulders that would love that job; they're even water-resistant and her tears wouldn't hurt them,\\ Max thought wistfully.

He reached out and gently touched the tears on her cheeks, an act he wouldn't have attempted had she been awake. Feeling guilty about the invasion of her privacy Max attempted to open a connection between them, but even in her sleep all her thoughts and emotions were tightly locked behind her shields. He wondered if she had conscious control of them; if she could choose to open them and let him in.

Liz began to stir. Max moved his hand away and looked back out at the mountains. She sat up, unobtrusively wiping her cheeks dry. She stretched and stood up. "Do you have a watch, Max? I wonder what time it's getting to be."

"It's a little after one," Max said. "I really should check and see if Alex has emailed me yet."

"Has your stomach informed you that it's hungry? It's way past lunch…" Liz looked at him mischievously as they folded the quilt together.

On the way back to Liz's house, Max pondered the advisability of coming totally clean and telling her everything, even telling her his suspicions about her birth parents. Would that be too much of a shock, when she was still recovering from the kidnapping attempt and her son's death? He didn't know and wasn't sure if he wanted to risk it.

Part 7 | Index | Part 9
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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