Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the WB, Jason
Katims or Melinda Metz.|
Authors Note: This was written during season 1, so there are no references to Tess or other aliens.
|Maria fought to keep her voice steady and soothing as
she talked to Liz. Rambled, really. She had told Liz
about Michael’s latest art show and about her
obnoxious co-worker, June, at the advertising agency.
Now she was telling her how she had fixed up the
guestroom for her and the baby and how glad she was
that Liz had finally consented to move in with them,
even if it was only for a little while. Liz had
roused herself from her stupor when she and Michael
had first come in the room, but she wasn’t responding
anymore. Maria kept a close eye on her chest, marking
its rise and fall.|
She froze. She had distinctly heard the apartment door open. And now the steady drone of the voices in the front room ceased.
Maria released Liz’s limp hand and crossed to the bedroom door, settling the steel between her shoulders.
Isabel took one hesitant step towards him, blinking hard against the tears forming in her eyes. What had they done to him? To both of them? They never should have gone along with Liz’s wish to keep him away from her. He was gaunt. Isabel guessed he had probably lost twenty pounds since she had seen him last Christmas. He was unshaven and his eyes were red and bleary. He looked as though he hadn’t slept in days.
She flew into his arms, holding him tight against her, trying to soothe his trembling body. She pulled back and gestured with one hand while the other brushed at her eyes. “She’s in the bedroom.”
Max stepped around her, ignoring Michael and Alex, as he started toward the bedroom door. He stopped short when Maria stepped from the room and pulled the door shut behind her.
Maria locked her eyes with his as she crossed the few feet that separated them. She stopped, nearly toe-to-toe with him, never breaking her stare as she pulled her right arm back and brought it forward with all the force she could muster. Her open hand connected with the side of his face with a resounding crack, slamming his head to the side.
Max swallowed hard as he slowly turned his head back to face her, the print of her hand standing out sharply against his pale skin. He sensed Isabel starting forward and Alex grabbing her arm, stopping her.
Maria stepped sideways, eyes still burning into his, and waved her arm, indicating that he could pass. Max gave a slight nod and moved, unhesitatingly, to the door.
He wanted to burst into the room, calling her name. He wanted to throw himself at her, hold her close, shower kisses on her face and hair as he begged for forgiveness, begged her to come home with him.
He didn’t do any of those things. He eased the door open, slipped inside soundlessly and closed the door behind him. He moved to the side of the bed and looked down at her. Her dream hadn’t exaggerated her appearance. He knew he was close to losing her forever. And he knew he would never survive for long without her, without any hope of her return. And he wouldn’t want to survive.
He knelt on the floor next to her and took her cold hand between his own.
And her eyes flew open as her body jerked, her back rising from the mattress.
And his face dropped into the blankets, mouth stretched open in a silent scream as pain rammed into him.
Max felt someone reach inside him, squeezing and tearing at his organs. He was sure the blood was draining from his body, settling in a sticky pool around his knees.
And then it was gone.
He slowly opened his eyes; his face still pressed into the bed. He felt her fingers move slightly within his grasp. He raised his head, breathing heavily, still trying to recover from the vicious onslaught.
Her face was turned toward his, confusion in her eyes. “Am I dreaming again?” Her voice was strained, but tinged with hopefulness.
“No,” he shook his head and pressed a gentle kiss to her hand. “I told you I’d come and get you, no matter where you were.” Now that he was here and she was awake, he didn’t know what to do, didn’t know what to say. His eyes roamed over her, soaking up every detail. He shifted his gaze to her stomach and lightly swept his free hand over the top of it, then moved it up to smooth the damp hair away from her face. “Are… are you all right? I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He swallowed against the hysteria rising in his throat.
She weakly squeezed his hand. “I’m okay now. It… it doesn’t hurt anymore.” She was puzzled. “It doesn’t hurt anymore.”
She sucked in her breath and stiffened against the sudden pain. But this was different. It was a swift tightening in her lower back and abdomen. She heard Max pull in a quick breath and looked up to see his jaw clench as he breathed between his teeth. Then, as suddenly as it had come on, it was gone.
“Max?” Something released inside her and she felt a warm liquid run out of her, soaking into the sheets. The question she had been about to ask was pushed from her mind. “My water just broke,” she whispered.
His eyes widened and he stood, stumbling for the door and pulling it open. “Help,” he shouted down the hall. And then he was back, kneeling next to her, clutching her hand, as the others ran into the room.
“Lizzie,” Maria cried, circling the bed to take Liz’s free hand.
Liz gave a weak laugh. “Relax everyone. I’m okay.”
“You really are.” Alex looked from Max to Liz in astonishment. “Well, you’re not okay, but you are better than you were fifteen minutes ago.”
“So, what was with the big cry for help?”
Max looked sheepish as he met his sister’s eyes. “Sorry. Liz’s water broke and I got a little over-excited. It’s going to be a while yet,” he paused, bringing Liz’s hand to his lips, “but it’s starting.”
Michael stood a short distance away, studying Liz. “How long is ‘a while yet’?”
Max looked up in surprise. “Michael.” A smile lit up his eyes. “Thank you for being here.”
Michael waved his hand, dismissing the sentiment. “Yeah, yeah, whatever. How long is ‘a while yet’?”
“Uh… well, everything I read said a first baby usually takes at least ten hours.” He looked at Liz questioningly.
She nodded. “At least. Usually quite a bit longer.” She looked around the room. “Sorry guys, but I’ve only had one contraction.”
Everyone started talking and laughing at once. Except for Michael. He watched Liz, noting the exhaustion etched deeply into her face, the weakness of her voice, the trembling smile on her too pale lips. Ten hours, probably more, and each hour more intense then the last. Even with Max helping her Michael was afraid she wouldn’t make it.
“You should eat something. Or, at least have something to drink.”
The chatter stopped abruptly as everyone looked at Michael again, then at Liz. Max really looked at Liz, taking in her thin body, cracked lips, and dry, pale skin. He’d been ignoring it, letting the happiness of being reunited with her propel him along. Now the fear he had quashed was rising again. It would be hours before this was over. He would help, he would take on as much of the pain as he could, but he couldn’t alleviate all of it. It was still her body that would sweat and strain in her efforts to deliver their daughter. She didn’t look like she could last ten minutes.
“He’s right,” Alex said, disappearing out the door.
“We need to talk, Max.” Isabel touched him gently on the back.
He nodded absently. “Later.”
Isabel sighed. She was going to have a hard time getting him away from Liz. “But I have something important to tell you.”
He finally dragged his eyes away from Liz long enough to actually notice her presence. “I already know everything I need to know right now, Isabel.”
He probably did. “Instinct.”
He merely nodded.
Alex returned with a glass of water in one hand, a sleeve of saltines carefully gripped between one finger and the glass and a plastic bucket in the other hand. He handed the crackers and the glass to Max and waved the bucket in the air. “Just in case.”
Liz took the glass from Max and took a hesitant sip. The water was lukewarm, but it felt like the coolest, clearest drink of ice water that she had ever had as it slid down her parched throat. She hesitated, waiting to see how her stomach would react. Nothing. She took another sip.
Max handed her a cracker. She looked around the room. All eyes were trained on her. She shifted uncomfortably. “Uhm… guys, it would be a whole lot easier to eat this if you weren’t all watching me as though it were my last meal.”
They all started, realizing for the first time how they had been staring.
“So, Michael, how was your flight?”
“When do the two of you have to head back to Dallas?”
Max and Liz shared a smile and she took a bite of the cracker.
She had just swallowed the third bite when it happened. She felt her entire stomach rise up. She grabbed the bucket and brought it up to her chin just in time. The cracker and the water came up immediately, but she couldn’t stop. Her stomach kept trying to rid itself of its contents, ignoring the fact that there was nothing left to get rid of.
Liz was aware of a hand smoothing the hair on the back of her head, a voice murmuring in her ear. She vomited again. Dark red blood splattered against the side of the bucket. She inhaled quickly as her stomach rose again. More blood, not just random spots this time, but a stream, rained down.
The roar in Liz’s ears quieted, the spots blocking her vision began to recede. She breathed heavily as she sat back against the pillows, swiping the back of her hand over her mouth. She was too tired to grimace at the smear of blood across her knuckles.
|Part 10 | Index | Part 12|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|