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.
|Liz breathed heavily into the carpet, her eyes slowly
opening. She pushed herself into a sitting position
with a groan and leaned against the wall, trying to
pull her mind together.|
The steady beeping of the phone penetrated the fog. She remembered. She had been trying to call Maria. She picked the receiver up from the floor and pressed the disconnect button. She held it for a few seconds, then let go and waited for the click and return of the dial tone. Forcing herself to take steady breaths, she punched in the numbers.
“Hello, you’ve reached the Guerin’s. We aren’t home to take your call, but if you leave a message we’ll get back to you.”
Liz’s shoulders slumped. She started to pull the phone away from her ear when Maria’s voice came on again.
“And Liz, if this is you, we’re already on our way.”
Liz felt tears forming in her eyes. They were coming. It would be all right. She just had to hang on for a few hours. She bit her lip as she considered how long it would take them to fly from Seattle to Milwaukee.
Her fingers hovered over the keypad of the phone. Max. She wasn’t sure if he had really been in her dream or if it had been just a. . . a dream. When he had visited her dream before it had remained a crystal-clear memory, but this one was already growing fuzzy around the edges. Maybe it had been just an ordinary dream.
She slowly withdrew her hand and pressed the light on her watch. 3:27. She had been unconscious for little more than an hour. She turned slightly and gripped the edge of the counter with one hand as she pushed herself up off the floor.
Pain ripped through her as soon as she straightened, nearly dropping her back to her knees. She doubled over, one arm wrapped around her stomach, the other on the wall, bracing her up. She waited, waited for her mind and body to adjust, for the pain to lessen enough to allow her to move. Leaning into the wall with her shoulder, she made her way to the bathroom. She flicked on the light and bent over the sink, carefully avoiding her reflection in the mirror. She didn’t want to see what she looked like anymore.
She turned on the cold water and cupped her hands beneath the stream, bringing the water to her face before she opened her hands and released it. She half-filled a small cup and took a cautious sip. Her stomach recoiled as soon as the water hit it and forced it back up and into the sink. Liz squeezed her eyes shut as the tears forced their way out of her eyes. She had to be strong. She had to hang on until Maria got there. No, she had to hang on until the baby was born. Then… well, she didn’t want to think too much about what would happen then.
Max lay on his back, staring up at the ceiling of their bedroom. He was nearing the panic stage. He knew this and he tried to clamp down on his emotions. Remain in control. Think through the problem. Liz was in trouble. She was dying. His teeth clenched at the thought of how close she had come to dying in his arms during her dream, neither of them realizing it until it was almost too late.
No. Think through the problem. The only way to help her, to get her back, is to find her. He rolled off the bed in one smooth movement and grabbed the phone off the nightstand.
“Hello, you’ve reached the Guerin’s. We aren’t home to take your call, but if you leave a message we’ll get back to you.”
He slammed the phone down and immediately dialed another number. His jaw clenched and released, clenched and released as he waited for someone to answer. Finally, he lowered the phone to its cradle. No one was home at Maria and Michael’s or Isabel and Alex’s. He hadn’t told Isabel much about his and Liz’s breakup, but he guessed that Michael and Maria had filled them in. And they were all gone. That could only mean they were on their way to Liz now. They all knew where she was. Had probably known all these months. But no one had told him.
He should be happy. Well, maybe not happy, but… relieved. They all cared about Liz. Loved her. They would take care of her. But no one – not even his sister – had told him where she was. And they knew how he felt. They knew what he was going through. Day after day with no word. Of not knowing.
// Bullshit, Max! They didn’t know. You never told anyone how you really felt. You never even told Liz how you felt. The brief moment of exhilaration when Liz told you she was pregnant. The anguish that nearly crippled you half a second later when you realized the danger that put her in. You kept it all inside. //
Suddenly he was sixteen again. Back to his life before Liz. On the outside looking in.
Isabel matched Alex’s stride as they hurried down the hall. Alex stopped outside a plain door and checked the number on the wall against the instructions written on the piece of paper in his hand. He raised the other hand to the door and rapped his knuckles against it.
A few moments of silence passed. He and Isabel looked at each other worriedly.
“Liz?” He called out, knocking again.
Isabel glanced quickly up and down the hall, then placed her hand over the lock. The bolt slid over with a satisfactory click and Isabel turned the knob and pushed the door open a few inches. “Liz? It’s Isabel.” She pushed the door open a bit further. “Alex is with me.”
The low mumble of voices and canned laughter reached them as Isabel took a step inside, Alex right behind her. The light was on over the kitchen sink. A phone lay on the floor next to the counter. Isabel looked around the door, following the sound of the voices. Liz lay on the sofa, constantly shifting patterns of light and shadow from the flickering images on the television dancing over her. Alex rushed past Isabel and dropped to his knees next to Liz’s still form.
“Alex?” Liz whispered, raising one hand to his cheek. She smiled as he wrapped his own hand around hers.
“We’re right here, Liz. You’re gonna be fine.”
Isabel took another step forward. Liz looked like a beached whale. All stomach. Isabel had been frightened by the concern in Michael’s voice when he had called them shortly after 2AM. He made it sound as though it were a life or death situation. That Isabel and Alex had to get on the very next flight out of Dallas that would take them toward Milwaukee, because they could get there quicker than he and Maria could. How Liz needed them, couldn’t be alone for those couple of hours before he and Maria could get there.
Isabel shook her head. All that racing around in the middle of the night, too terrified to even sleep on the plane, and for what? To catch Liz watching cartoons at, she checked her watch, squinting in the near darkness, 7:38 in the morning.
Isabel stalked over to the table near the end of the sofa and turned on the lamp. She turned back to Alex and Liz and froze, mouth open, unable to finish the sarcastic comment she had been about to make about Liz keeping the place so dark. Isabel wanted to turn the lamp back off.
Liz’s face was a skull, a death mask. Her eyes were dulled with suffering and her skin was pale and lifeless, set off by the smudges of kohl around her eyes and under her cheekbones. Perspiration shone brightly on her face and her hair was stringy and sticking to her cheeks. Her shirt was damp and clinging to the swell of her stomach.
Isabel did not want to be here. She had to fight the urge to spin on her heel and leave this small, depressing apartment. This… coffin. Liz was obviously dying and she did not want to be the one here with her when it happened. She did not want to have to tell her brother what Liz’s last few moments were like. She didn’t want to be the one to lie to him and tell him that Liz didn’t feel any pain at the end; that she didn’t realize what was happening.
“Can I get you something, Liz? Water… or…?” Isabel took one hesitant step toward the kitchen.
Liz shook her head faintly.
“No.” Alex waggled his head somewhere in a cross between a nod and a shake. “No, you need some water or something. You’re dehydrating.”
“It wouldn’t stay down anyway.” They strained to hear the faint whisper of her voice.
“Maybe a cool cloth then?” Alex didn’t want to give up.
Liz gave a small nod. “That would be nice.”
Isabel quickly turned away and started down the short hallway, looking for the bathroom. She found a clean cloth and held it under the running water as her mind raced. Max had been right. It wasn’t safe for them to try and live like humans and have normal relationships and families. Isabel wrung the excess water from the cloth and then hesitated, her hand ready to flip off the light switch. Max would be destroyed if anything happened to Liz. He would blame himself and wallow in guilt and misery until the day he died. Isabel didn’t see her brother that often anymore, but she still needed him. She needed to know that he was there and strong and that she could come to him with her problems and he would help her. She couldn’t lose him and that meant he couldn’t lose Liz.
She walked into the living room and knelt beside Alex. She carefully wiped Liz’s face, then folded the cloth and draped it across her forehead.
Isabel nodded and squeezed Alex’s hand. “How far apart are the contractions now?”
“They aren’t contractions. I’m not having the baby. Or, if I am, it’s not being born in the conventional manner.”
Alex’s eyes narrowed. “Then… what’s the matter?”
“I don’t know.” She drew a deep breath, wincing, as she tried to control the sobs that were fighting to break free. “This has been a difficult pregnancy almost from the beginning. Then, last night this unbelievable pain hit. It felt like I was burning from the inside out; that my insides were being run through with a poker. I barely made it home. I tried to call Maria, but the line was busy and—” She paused, realization hitting her. “I never talked to anyone last night. How did you know to come here? How did Maria know?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Alex cut in before Isabel could open her mouth. “How are you doing now?”
“The pain isn’t as bad as it was at first, but I’m really tired. I’ve made myself stay awake since—” She stopped herself. She had almost told them about passing out, about how Max had told her she had to stay awake. She could see how worried Alex was already; she didn’t want to make him feel any worse. She was already lying to them. The pain was every bit as bad, but she was so weak and tired she didn’t care anymore.
“Then sleep,” Isabel smiled at her. “We’re here. We’ll… keep an eye on you. Just get some rest right now. Come on. We’ll help you to bed.” Isabel nodded to Alex and he slipped one arm under Liz’s thin shoulders and one under her legs.
“This is bad.” Alex dropped onto the sofa after having gotten Liz settled in her bed. “It was all I could do to keep from taking her into the hospital.”
“I know.” Isabel nodded. She reached for his hand and he took it gratefully. “We probably shouldn’t leave her alone for too long.”
“Yeah,” Alex agreed. “She seemed a little afraid to let herself fall asleep.”
“Why don’t you go sit with her now and then let me know when she’s sleeping.”
“I want to see if I can figure out what’s wrong with her and if there’s any way to… fix the problem. I think it will be easier to do when she’s asleep.”
Alex nodded and pushed himself off the couch.
Max stuffed a clean shirt into a bag and pulled open another drawer. He told himself that he wasn’t just keeping himself busy. They would call. And when they did, he would be prepared to leave instantly.
He walked into the living room and set the small bag on one end of the sofa. He sat down and hoped he would hear the telephone when it rang. The screaming in his head was getting loud again.
Isabel walked into Liz’s darkened bedroom and listened to the sound of her breathing. It was ragged, unsteady, peppered with periodic moans, but she was asleep. Isabel cast one glance at Alex and then knelt next to the bed. She placed one trembling hand on Liz’s stomach.
Isabel was immediately bombarded with images rushing past her at the speed of light -- and there seemed to be no end to them. Yet she couldn’t see them. There were voices – shouting, screaming, whispering – but she couldn’t hear what they were saying. But she knew. In a millisecond she knew more about her people, the race of beings that she, Max and Michael were born of, than they had ever discovered in all their years of searching.
And then suddenly she was thrust out, landing hard on her back. And Alex was there, whispering, clutching her hand.
“Are you all right? Thank god you got out.”
“No. I… I couldn’t hold on. I just got in and then I was forced back out.” Isabel pushed herself upright, staring at Liz, still asleep on the bed.
“What are you talking about? You’ve been catatonic for the last half an hour.”
She pulled her eyes from Liz and stared at Alex, shaking her head in confusion. Then she dismissed it. "It doesn’t matter. What matters is, I know what’s wrong with Liz.”
She stood and hurried from the room, Alex on her heels.
“Can you help her?”
Isabel grabbed the phone and jabbed out the numbers. “No,” she said, placing the phone to her ear, “I can’t do anything for her.” Her attention was pulled from Alex as the phone was answered. “Max? It’s Isabel.”
|Part 8 | Index | Part 10|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|