FanFic - Max/Liz
"Epiphanies 1: The Ties that Bind"
Part 11
by Carol
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters except Josh; they are owned by Melinda Metz and the WB (or whomever!)
Summary: This story involves all characters, but centers around Max and Liz. This takes place a couple of months after Destiny. The Pod Squad meets someone with some answers, Liz is in danger, Mrs. Evans has a shock.
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: PG-13
Authors Note: Thanks to Sheldon and Dee for some valuable feedback, and for the support of my listserv, who really encouraged me! I love this show in an unprecedented way: It feels right--it feels right like nothing has ever felt in my life before.
Max pulled up in front of Michael's apartment and bounded out of the car. Within seconds, Valenti pulled up behind him. "Max!" he yelled, as Max disappeared into the doorway. Max turned to see Valenti running up the walk toward him.


"Max, you were burning up the road back there. What's going on?"

"Come with me, Sheriff. We may need your help."

They walked into Michael's apartment without knocking. Seated on the couch were Michael and Maria, holding each other. At Max's startled expression, Michael just shrugged. "This whole thing with Liz, Max. Life's too short," and he pulled Maria closer. Max nodded. He understood exactly what Michael meant.

"Listen, call everyone together. I think I know where Liz is."

Valenti turned sharply. "What do you mean, you know where she is. Is she missing? Why didn't you call me, Max? I thought we had an understanding."

Max brought Valenti up to speed on everything that had happened. "I'm sorry, Sheriff, but with this Josh guy in the picture, we weren't sure what to expect, and I . . . ."

"'This Josh guy' is here to explain, Max." Everyone turned toward the door, where a tall, sandy-haired man stood smiling at them. "It's good to meet you all in person," he said. "I know you have a lot of questions, and I'm here to answer them, as best I can. Where is Isabel?"

"At home, I think, " said Max. "She had some things to talk over with our mother. Michael, would you call her?"

Josh entered the room and introduced himself to Maria. Max was growing agitated. "Josh, we do have questions, but they'll have to wait. My girlfriend has disappeared and I finally have a lead on where she might be. This is Sheriff Valenti. He knows about our situation and is willing to help."

"Max, where do you think she is?" asked the sheriff.

"Milton confided in me that the FBI is holding someone in some sort of survival vault he built in his basement, I guess to use in case aliens invaded." Max caught Josh's amused expression. "It's very real to him, Josh. Anyway, from his description of the circumstances, I think they must be using her to get information on me. What I can't understand is why Nasedo would authorize such a thing."

"Maybe he didn't," mused Valenti.

"Rogue agents?" asked Michael as he came back from calling Isabel.

"It's a possibility," said Valenti. "We know these folks don't have to follow all the rules. Could be they took things into their own hands. Maybe planning to sell the information for profit or impress the boss. Either way, it's a dangerous situation." Valenti saw the panic in Max's eyes. Michael had pulled Maria to her feet and wrapped his arms around her protectively. "Don't worry, son," said Valenti. "If what Milton says is true, we have enough information to get her out of there."

"It doesn't matter if we're together or not. She's in danger either way," agonized Max. He roused himself with a quick shudder. "We have to think. We need a plan."

"Isabel is contacting the others. They should all be here soon," said Michael. The group sat quietly, desperately searching for an idea that had some potential for success.

After a few minutes, Alex, Kyle, Tess, and Isabel had arrived. Max and Valenti told them the latest news.

"What did Nasedo say, Tess?" asked Isabel. "Did he know about this?"

Tess hesitated. "He said he'll look into it."

Isabel studied Tess's face. "You never called him, did you?" she asked, accusingly. Tess looked like a deer caught in the headlights. "You conniving little bitch! You were going to let Liz suffer, maybe even die, just to keep Max to yourself. Don't you have any human compassion?"

Max and Michael were staring at Tess in stunned silence. Maria and Alex were livid. Straining to contain his rage, Alex's face was turning bright red. Maria didn't even try to control her anger. "I ought to . . ." began Maria as she pushed out of Michael's arms and stormed toward Tess. Kyle grabbed Maria just before she reached Tess. "Wait, Maria. Concentrate on what's important here right now. We have to find Liz. Don't waste your time on her." He sneered at Tess, suddenly disgusted by this girl he had actually considered asking out.

Tess turned to Josh. "You're Josh, right? The guy who dreamwalked Isabel? Tell them. Tell them that we have to follow our destiny, and that our destiny is to be together the way we were intended," pleaded Tess.

Josh looked confused. "What do you mean 'the way we were intended'?" asked Josh. "Did you think there was a set path? Some preordained plan?" Josh choked out a grim chuckle. "I wish it were that easy," he said. "I'm afraid we're on our own there. We have to figure out our own destinies."

"But the book, the message from the hologram, everything Nasedo taught me! That's the way it's meant to be. What does all that mean if we're supposed to decide on our own?"

"The book simply pictures your team, a record of your journey and those who are meant to work together on the mission. I started to explain that to Isabel in her dream the other night. You've all been engineered for specific roles on our individual missions. I don't know what the hologram said, but if you think back on it, I'm betting you'll find there is no mention of your being mates in this life, only what you were to each other in a past life. As for Nasedo, I have no idea who that is."

"He was on the ship! He raised me, he taught me everything I needed to know!" Tess's voice was rising in pitch with every outburst. "He's not like us-engineered, I mean-but I've never seen his true form. He told me this was how it was meant to be: Max and me, Michael and Isabel. I don't believe you!" She was frantic now, pacing and clenching her fists.

"I can only assume that he told you what he thought might be best. All parents do that-teach children what they believe is best. That doesn't always make it so."

Isabel stepped into Tess's path. "Give me Nasedo's number. Now." She handed Tess paper and pencil. Looking trapped, Tess reluctantly wrote the phone number. "I'll be right back," Isabel said, and walked to the next room.

Max walked slowly toward Tess. "I don't understand, Tess. You can't have feelings for me. You don't even know me. I told you from the beginning that I belonged with Liz. Why can't you accept that? How could you endanger her like this?"

Tess turned a tearful face toward Max. "Because if I don't believe in us, Max, there is nothing to believe in." She turned to leave. Valenti put a hand on her shoulder.

"Miss Harding, I think it's safest if we all stick together tonight. Besides, we have a rescue to attempt and we may need your special . . . talents. I hope you are willing to help us." Tess nodded meekly and went to sit down, her face in her hands.

Josh spoke up. "I know you don't know me yet, but I hope you will believe that I am on your side. I'd like to help, if you'll let me." Max nodded at him, a silent thank you in his eyes.

Isabel returned from making her phone call. "Nasedo is faxing you authorization to arrest those agents, Sheriff. He asked that we call him when we've decided how we're going to do this." Valenti nodded his acknowledgment. It was time to form a plan.

After a tense brainstorming session, the group settled on a course of action. It was 7:15, and they had to be ready to go by 9:00. They agreed to return to Michael's apartment at 8:30 and dispersed to prepare.

Part 10 | Index | Part 12
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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