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.
|“Max, you need to eat something.” Isabel glared at
him, hands perched on her hips.|
Max sighed and arched into the hand he braced against the back of his neck, trying to work out the tenseness in his muscles. “Iz—“
“When was the last time you ate anything?”
He looked from her accusing eyes to Liz’s. There wasn’t much difference. “About 5:00 yesterday afternoon,” he admitted.
“And what time is it now?” Isabel tapped her watch.
Max looked from her tapping finger to her face and clenched his teeth. “Isabel, I’ve been up for a very long time and you are being very irritating. That’s not a good combination.”
“What time is it?”
He glanced down at his own watch and closed his eyes. “5:17.”
“Twenty-four hours, Max. Now we have a ton of food in the other room. I’ll sit with Liz and you go have some of it.”
Michael entered the bedroom, an extra-crispy drumstick in one hand and a plastic cup in the other. “Maxwell, you’re not going to win. Come on.” He jerked his head towards the doorway.
“Michael,” Max stared hard at him. “Do you mind getting out of here with that?” He looked pointedly at the food in Michael’s hands.
Michael blushed and looked from the chicken to Liz. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
Liz smiled. “It’s okay.”
Isabel was still staring at Max. The tapping had now extended to her foot.
Michael looked from Isabel to Max and stepped forward, thrusting the greasy drumstick into Isabel’s hand and pushing her towards the door. “Iz, I don’t recall seeing you eat anything either. You’ve been too worried about mother-henning everyone else.”
Isabel looked at the half-eaten chicken in her hand with distaste and then shared that look with Michael. “What do you—“
Michael whirled towards the bed and grabbed Max by one hand, hauling him to his feet. “Get out,” he ordered.
Max looked helplessly at Liz as Michael continued to shove him, step-by-step, toward the door.
Liz couldn’t help but laugh. “Go. Relax for a few minutes.”
“I’ll be back in time for the next contraction,” he promised as Michael shoved him from the room and shut the door in his face.
Michael looked at Liz over his shoulder and wiggled one eyebrow. “At last we are alone.” He smiled at her giggle and sat on the edge of the bed. “Actually Liz, I did want a few minutes alone with you.”
The smile left Liz’s face and she looked away from him. “Michael—“
“I shouldn’t have said those things before… about you playing the martyr and punishing Max. I was out of line and… I apologize.” Michael stared down at his hands for a few moments. When Liz didn’t respond he hesitantly raised his eyes.
She was staring through the window across the room. Michael dropped his eyes again. Did he really believe it would be so simple? That he could say such things and still be instantly forgiven? He had thought he had changed. He had always been impulsive when he was young, a little too quick to speak before he had thought things through, but he had always expected them… his friends… his family… to just forgive him and move on. He thought he had outgrown such selfishness. He sucked in a breath and made a move to rise, but Liz laid a hand on his arm.
“I’m sorry, too,” she whispered, eyes shining. “I put all of you through hell, made you all fly here in the middle of the night… all because I was too stubborn to admit that I needed help. I didn’t just punish Max. I punished all of us.”
Michael looked down at her upturned face and suddenly the past few weeks no longer mattered. They were all here. Together. They hadn’t all been in the same room together since Max and Liz’s wedding. And now it was the birth of their baby that had brought them all back. And they were all pulling together… taking care of one another… just the six of them. Michael hadn’t realized until this moment how much he had missed that.
He raised one hand and quickly lowered it, unsure what to do. Liz leaned in toward him, tugging on his arm slightly. He swallowed and slowly slid the arm around her waist as his other arm wrapped around her shoulders and pulled her into a stiff embrace. He felt awkward, but, as Liz leaned her head on his shoulder, he relaxed and held her closer.
“Thank you, Michael.”
She pulled back slightly. “For being here. For caring about Max and me. For talking to me on the phone when I was lonely. For trying to convince me to come to Seattle. Everything.”
He looked away self-consciously. “I’m glad you’re feeling better, Liz.”
“There is one other thing that would make me feel better… if you’d be willing to help me.”
He eyed her suspiciously. “What’s that?”
“I desperately want to brush my teeth, but Max thinks I’m too weak to get out of bed.”
Michael grinned. “Oh and I’m supposed to brave his wrath and help you?” He rolled his eyes at the wide-eyed, pleading look she bestowed on him. “Fine, let’s go. But it was your idea.”
Michael winced at the slight grating of wood against wood as he eased the door open. He prayed that it was quiet enough to escape Max’s attention. He looked down at Liz where she leaned heavily against him and placed one finger against his lips in warning. They smiled conspiratorially at one another as he helped her into the hall and took one step towards the bathroom.
“Michael? Is everything all right?” The voice floated to them from the kitchen.
Michael shook his head as Liz fought against a giggle rising in her throat. “Everything’s fine, Max. I’m just… getting a fresh cloth for Liz.”
“Okay,” Max replied, the doubt in his voice evident.
Michael flipped on the bathroom light and kept one arm around Liz as she gripped the edge of the sink. “You gonna be okay?” Michael was not at all happy with the way she had paled and was now swaying slightly on her feet.
But she nodded vigorously. “I’ll be fine. I feel a little shaky, but I’m fine.”
“Do you want me to stay in here with you?”
“No.” She tried to smile up at him, but it came off as more of a grimace. “I just need a few minutes alone, Michael. Please?”
He nodded. “Two minutes.” He held his fingers up in a V. He backed out of the room and pulled the door closed, twisting the doorknob as far as he could so that it wouldn’t make any noise.
Liz waited until the door was closed, then let her breath out in a rush as she leaned heavily against the sink. In. Out. She forced herself to take even breaths. Forced her head to remain clear. If she passed out in here she could seriously hurt herself on the hard tile… and Max would seriously hurt Michael.
She picked up her toothbrush and turned on the faucet just enough so that a trickle of water ran into the sink. She had to be careful to not alert Max as to what she was doing. He was in full overbearing-protective mode. She cupped a little of the water in her hand and brought it to her mouth, rinsed, then spit it out. She picked up the tube of toothpaste, thankful that she had never outgrown her bad habit of leaving the cap off, and started to squeeze. Nothing happened. The tube was nearly empty and needed a bit of pressure to force the toothpaste out. Liz bit her lip and tried to squeeze harder. She felt so weak. Her eyes watered in frustration. How could she possibly be this weak? She sighed. The fact that she hadn’t been able to eat for two full days might have something to do with it. But how would she ever manage to deliver their baby when she couldn’t even get toothpaste out of the tube?
She dropped the tube and stared sightlessly at the tears that dripped onto the counter. She wanted to give up. A part of her just wanted to sink to the floor and fall asleep and give up. But the other part of her was equally determined to get through this. She couldn’t leave Max. The hollowness she had seen inside him when they had connected had frightened her. Had frightened her because she knew she had appeared the same way to him. They were incomplete without one another. It was unthinkable for one to live without the other. She nodded to herself. There was no choice.
Liz raised her head and contemplated her reflection. She looked… well, she looked better than she had yesterday. But that wasn’t saying much.
“Max must really love you,” she whispered to her image. “Right now your own mother would have trouble loving this face.” She felt ashamed at how she must appear to all of them. She looked… grotesque. She hadn’t bathed or brushed her teeth in more than 24 hours and… she turned away from the mirror slightly and looked at herself from the corner of her eye… yep, she had a serious case of bedhead going. And… oh god… she had thrown up in a bucket. She closed her eyes at the memory. Things were only going to get worse. They were all going to be in the room during the delivery. Helping. She met her gaze in the mirror again. “No screaming or showing any sign that it hurts. And no more crying. No being weak! I hate you when you’re weak!”
She slid the tube of toothpaste over the edge of the counter and placed her toothbrush under the opening, then leaned down on the tube with as much force as she could. She was rewarded with a small drop of paste falling onto the brush. She lifted it to her mouth, smiling in triumph. “Score one for the pregnant chick.”
“Why are you standing in the hall?”
Michael looked up to see Max standing in front of him, his eyes moving from Michael to the open bedroom door. He finally noticed the bathroom door was closed.
Michael raised his shoulders helplessly. “She wanted to brush her teeth.”
“And so you just let her get out of bed and roam around the house on her own?”
“No.” Michael’s voice rose defensively. “I was there. I helped her. Hell, I practically carried her to the bathroom.”
“Which means that she couldn’t make it there on her own. Michael, what were you thinking? I doubt that she can even stand up on her own right now and you leave her alone in a bathroom where there are hard floors to fall on and equally hard fixtures to hit on the way down?”
“Hey, who am I to stand in the way of her desire for minty fresh breath? I would want the same thing.”
Max growled and pulled against his shoulder. “Get out of—“
He was cut off by the door opening. Liz looked out at them with a look of pure innocence. “Hi, Max. Thanks so much, Michael. I really feel a lot better now. Help me back to bed?”
She gripped his arm weakly. He looked down and saw the whiteness of her knuckles and knew she was trying to act like everything was fine for Max’s benefit. Wrong. She was acting that way for his benefit. Max would kill him if she got any worse because of this little foray.
He wrapped one arm tightly around her and guided her across the hall to the bedroom, Max hot on their heels. He had just angled them through the bedroom door when Liz doubled over and pressed one hand against her stomach. Michael felt her knees buckling, her weight pulling against his arm. He quickly swung her up in his arms and carried her the rest of the way, laying her gently on the bed.
“Liz.” Max took her hand and Liz’s breathing quieted immediately.
Michael watched in fascination as the pain left Liz’s face, as it left her body and flowed into Max’s. Their expressions were strained, but they managed to smile at one another, as though they were sharing some secret. Like the smile he and Liz had shared minutes ago when he was sneaking her to the bathroom. Liz had told Maria and Isabel (and, of course, Maria had immediately told him) how she and Max had connected. How it had changed everything. They were truly sharing everything now. Like they were one.
|Part 13 | Index | Part 15|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|