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Summary: Post JTNY. Liz is getting sick, and her friendships are tested as the gang struggles to help her. No one is getting any sleep as Michael and Isabel start having strange dreams.
Authors Note: This was written before ARC, based on what Max said about not being able to just heal people in LN. As always, your feedback is much appreciated.
|"Liz, babe, are you sure about this? I mean, have you really thought this
Maria and Liz were sitting on the teacher's desk in a dark classroom. They were waiting for the others to join them. Max, Alex, Michael and Isabel were pouring over the alien files stolen from Whittaker looking for any information on Cadmium-X. Max insisted that Liz rest for the coming ordeal and Maria volunteered to keep her company. It was actually a ploy to try to get her friend to reconsider her insane plan.
"I mean were talking about surgery here. As in actually cutting you open and... and.... and removal of body parts. Are you crazy? I mean to even be thinking about this you've got to be nuts, right?"
"Maria," Liz said in her most soothing voice, "this is going to be fine. Max and the others will take care of me."
"How can you be so calm!?" Maria was hysterical enough for the both of them.
"There is no reason to get this worked up over this. I'm going to be fine. We just need to get through tonight, all right? We'll just take this one day at a time until it's over. Believe me I'm really good at that."
"How can you be so sure that you're not dying. We're talking cancer here, Liz. My grandfather DIED of cancer, remember?" Maria's voice rose in tone and volume.
Liz rebutted with, "Yeah but he smoked like four packs of cigarettes a day. I don't remember ever having seen him when he didn't have a cigarette in his mouth. Besides, it might not even be cancer. That's why were here."
"Death by Cadmium-X can't be any better than death by cancer, Liz!"
"Maria, I'm not going to die!" Liz had had enough of this. "Maria, listen to me. Remember I told you about what happened with the whole Kyle thing?"
That one question was enough to bring Maria back to attention. "Yes."
"Future Max was from like fourteen years from now. He said that I was still alive in his reality. We got married remember? There's no way I'm dying from this disease, whatever it is, anytime soon, so could you just calm down?"
"Yeah but, didn't you say that you changed the future? What if in this reality you do die from this? How do you know what's supposed to happen now? You don't." Maria answered her own question. "Are you saying that I got this lump because I'm not with Max?" Liz asked sarcastically.
As always, sarcasm failed to work on her friend. "Maybe... Which is why I think this whole idea is a bad one. You should be in the hospital with real doctors having real tests done by real equipment. Not here!" She grabbed Liz's hand. "We don't know what's going on here, Liz. I mean, remember the whole orb thing with the rashes and glowing hickeys? How do we know that this thing isn't because the two of you are apart?"
"Get real, Maria." Liz refused to even humor her.
"No, I'm serious. I think you need to tell Max what happened..."
"Maria, that's out of the question."
"...so he knows everything." Maria kept talking over her friend. "What if I'm right, and the only way to make you better is if the two of you get back together? He's gonna have to know. How long were you planning to keep all this from him, anyway?"
"You are NOT going to tell him."
"He's gonna find out, Liz."
"Maybe, but for now, it's too important that he and Tess be allowed to get closer without me in the way."
"Tess!" That one word spoke volumes. "If she's so important, then why isn't she here? Shouldn't she be here helping Max play slice and dice with your innards? I mean, there's a real bonding activity for you. I'm sure Tess would love to have the chance to shoot marbles with your kidneys. And just think of how grateful to her Max will be when you suddenly recover. Or how she can console him after you've died."
"Knock it off, Maria."
"Why isn't she here, Liz?" Maria pressed. She knew the answer, but she wanted Liz to admit it. "Why? The rest of the alien crew is present. Why not Tess?"
"I'd trust Isabel and Michael with my life."
"That's good because you are. But you still haven't answered the question."
Liz had to swallow before she could force herself to admit: "I don't trust her."
"But you're giving Max to her."
"You don't understand, Maria. I don't have a choice. And besides, I'm, not giving him to her, like he's a big present or something. He's making his own decisions."
"But he doesn't have all the information. How can he be expected to make the right decisions if all he's getting from you are lies and half truths?"
"Why are we even discussing this?" Liz wanted to know. "Look, Maria, there is no way the two are connected. And we're not telling Max. Tonight we are just going to do what we have to in order to find out what this thing is. Once we know, then it'll be time to talk about our options. Until we've figured out whether or not this thing is human, then there is nothing more to say on the subject."
The finality in Liz voice closed the subject and Maria sat beside her friend dejectedly in he silence. Finally she said, "You've changed."
"Yeah," Liz softly agreed. "I had to."
Which reminded her... "When were you gonna tell me?"
Liz looked startled for a second, then said guiltily, "Oh..."
"We were trying to figure out what had you so panicked earlier. Why you felt like you had to leave the hospital before you grew antennas, and Max told us about what happened in New York. So when were you gonna tell me?"
"I don't know. I was still kinda getting used to the whole thing myself. Plus I was afraid you'd freak. That you'd think I was different, I guess. I was afraid of being different, myself."
"You should have told me."
"I know. I'm sorry." Liz pulled her friend into a tight hug, forcing the ugliness of their argument into the past.
"I know." Maria was glad that they'd at least gotten everything out into the open. She still felt like Max needed to know her suspicions that Liz's illness could be a result of their not being together, like the bizarre rash had been last year, but she held her tongue - for now. However, for Liz's sake, she was prepared to spill the beans if it became necessary.
Footsteps sounded in the hall, causing the girls to break apart. Alex stuck his head in the classroom. "We think we found it. Come take a look, Dr. Parker."
In no time, the six of them we gathered in the high school's biolab. Liz and Max were focused on the few pieces of documentation present on the research done on Cadmium-X. Michael and Isabel were still looking through the rest of the files, hoping to find out more about themselves in the old paperwork.
Maria stood off to the side, making small talk with Alex and fidgeting. She was getting more and more nervous as the reality of what they were about to do sunk in. 'My god, it's like every cheesy alien movie ever made. We've abducted a human from the hospital and aliens are now preparing to do surgical experimentation on her. We must all be crazy.'
But try as she might, she couldn't come up with a reasonable alternative. There weren't any doctors they trusted to do this. And Liz assured her it was a very simple procedure. In and out. That was it. And by doing this, they were possibly saving Max, Michael and Isabel's lives in the process. What was there to complain about? Plenty, that's what and Maria was just about ready to make a list.
"Are you ready?" Max asked, looking into Liz's solemn eyes.
"Are you sure?" Max's dark eyes looked into her, his concern evident. "I mean you don't have to..."
"Max," she cut him off, "we've been through this. It's what we have to do. Are you sure you can do it?"
Looking scared and not a little sick at what was about to happen in this small classroom, he nodded. Liz stood up on tiptoe and hugged him to her. "It's going to be ok, Max," she said, unknowingly stealing his comfort statement from him. His arms tightened around her as he prepared himself for what they were about to do. Finally, when he felt he was strong enough, he released her.
"Isabel, Michael, it's time." Max walked with Liz over to one of the high tables in the lab and watched as she climbed up on it. Max raised one hand in the air and the overhead lamp burned more brightly, fully illuminating the entire area. The next table over held the few utensils they would need for the short procedure and the five of them gathered around.
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