FanFic - Max/Liz
"Epiphanies 1: The Ties that Bind"
Part 5
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.
Alex, Maria, and Kyle filed into Michael's small living room. Max, Isabel, Michael, and Tess were perched on various bits of furniture plucked from yard sales and attics, and they didn't look much better than the furniture did.

"What's up?" Maria asked of no one in particular.

"Where's Liz?" frowned Max.

"She ran home to feed the cat. She'll be here in a minute," replied Maria. "But, I repeat, what's up?"

"Let's wait for Liz." Max began to pace and for the first time, the human members of the group sensed the tension their alien counterparts were feeling about this mysterious "development."

Alex looked toward Isabel and found her watching him, her eyes a mixture of longing and fear. He hesitated for a moment and then walked toward her. She looked like she needed him, and in spite of his intentions to put her apparent destiny before their feelings, he had silently vowed to be there for her. As he approached her, he watched her face for a reaction, any sign that she didn't want him there. He saw none, and as he reached her, he took her hand. She closed her eyes at his touch, and he sat beside her.

Michael had been watching Maria, who was avoiding his eyes. She plopped down on the floor and leaned against the couch, pulling her knees up and rubbing her legs in an anxious rhythm. Michael moved to the end seat of the couch and put his hand on her head. She turned to look at him and met his intense gaze. He said nothing, but his furrowed brow and steady look spoke clearly to her. He, too, felt the need to be close. She rested her head on his knee and sighed, some of the tension leaving her, as if he were drawing it out from her body with his touch.

Tess sat quietly on a barstool watching Max pace as Kyle leaned against the wall. So much was being said in the silence-filled room. After ten minutes, Max erupted. "Where is she? I thought you said she'd be here in a minute!"

"Be patient, Max. She was changing clothes, too. She'll be here."

The silence descended again. Finally, Max walked to the phone and dialed Liz's number. He got the answering machine.

"She must be on her way," he mumbled.

The waiting continued for another ten minutes. Max looked out the window one more time and turned to the group. Pain and anxiety emanated from his eyes, but he spoke quietly.

"I guess Liz couldn't make it. We'd better get started."

"I'm sure she'll be here, Max," said Maria with a trace of concern, "but maybe you'd better tell us what's going on."

"I'm the one who should explain," whispered Isabel tentatively. Alex gave her hand a squeeze. She took a deep breath and stood to face her friends. She related what had happened the night before, again avoiding any mention of her original dream about Alex. When she reached the edited version of her middle-of-the-night conversation with Max, she paused. Maria and Kyle looked stunned. Alex looked skeptical, but worried. She continued.

"It took a while, but I went back to sleep and Josh seemed to be waiting for me. He apologized for scaring me and said he hadn't anticipated how disconcerting being dreamwalked might be to someone who was only familiar with the process from my perspective. He explained that many "visitors" kept in contact with each other this way, literally conducting meetings in what they ironically called their 'Star Chamber.' He invited me to join them once I was comfortable with the idea.

"Evidently, these visitors are living all over the world, all brought to Earth by crafts similar to the one that brought us. Many landed safely with parents, guardians, and advisors. Most thought we had all perished when our ship crashed, and they were devastated." She looked at Max and Michael. The thought of strangers mourning their death made them all feel uncomfortable. "Those who landed safely reorganized themselves and began to communicate about their purpose here and the dangers of their enemies who followed. That's why they don't use the orbs-it does reveal your location to anyone looking for the signal. But they can control who enters their Star Chamber meetings, so it's the safest way to communicate."

Isabel paused again. She was feeling tired and shaky, and she let Alex pull her back to the chair they shared.

"The last thing Josh said to me was that news of our survival had injected new energy into their efforts. It seems he was able to tell that I was the dreamwalker of our "team," he called it, and that's why he approached me first.

"He thinks it would be best to come meet with Max, Tess, Michael, and me so we can ask questions and talk about this with him. He'll be here in the next day or two, and he'll stay here with Michael. We wanted you all to know because it seems possible that when we used the orbs, we may have reached enemies as well as friends, and anyone who is checking on us will learn about you, too."

Isabel turned to look at Alex, tears in her eyes. "I'm so sorry," she whispered. Alex put his arm around her and drew her close.

Michael spoke up. "This means we all need to be very careful, very aware of what's going on around us. And we shouldn't be seen together publicly. The less people connect us, the more likely they'll forget to mention you, if anyone asks."

Max had been distracted through the whole explanation. He couldn't shake his uneasy feelings about Liz's absence. "Maria, when you leave here, please find Liz. If she doesn't want to call me, then will you call? Just so I know she's okay?"

Maria nodded. "Sure, Max," she reassured him. I'll check on her right away. Isabel, you look awful. This is really scary. Do you think this person really exists?"

"Yeah, I think he does," nodded Isabel. "At least I'm going to operate under that assumption for now. I expect him to show up here real soon."

"So what do you expect us to do? We're not supposed to be seen with you guys, we watch our backs . . . in the end, there isn't much we can do to protect ourselves, is there?" Maria asked nervously.

Kyle finally spoke up. "Do you want me to mention this to my dad? It sure seems like something he should know about. Maybe he can help."

"Let's wait and see what else Josh has to say," said Max. Michael and Tess nodded in agreement. Isabel didn't move; she just leaned in closer to Alex, and Max took that as assent. "That's it, then. Iz, we better get home."

Isabel reluctantly shifted away from Alex. Without looking at him, she squeezed his hand and stood to join Max. The others followed suit and gradually drifted toward the door. Maria turned to look at Michael one more time. His eyes seemed pained as he looked at her, and then he suddenly looked away. "See ya."

"Yeah, see ya," Maria said softly, and the group left the apartment. Kyle offered Tess a ride home with him, Alex, and Maria. When no offer seemed forthcoming from Max, she agreed. Max and Isabel watched them drive away and turned to embrace each other.

"We'll be okay, Iz," promised Max.

"I wonder," answered Isabel into his shoulder.

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