FanFic - Max/Liz
"How to Disappear Completely"
Part 3
by Deidre
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended, either with respect to Melinda Metz' work and characters, or to the wb or Jason Katims. Many thanks to all of you for creating such a fabulous world. Also, no infringement is intended in respect to Radiohead's song title, either-just a respectful bow of thanks.
Summary: The story takes place the night of The End of the World and afterward, and imagines what might have happened differently.
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: PG-13
Liz sat at her desk, enveloped by darkness, the victim of yet another sleepless night. There had been a lot of those in the past week.

Prove me wrong, Liz. Please.

She stared at the open email, its simple plea flickering on her computer screen. She had logged online to surf a bit, since lately the website for the international space station had been the only thing to help her fall asleep. Who wouldn't find real-time video of something so quiet and distant at least a bit lulling? So, at 2:38 am, wide-awake, she had padded to her desk, logged on, and found two emails waiting.

Her heart had jolted upon seeing them, and of course she had instantly recognized the sender... Max. Great. He'd sent them at 1:14 am, which meant he wasn't sleeping any better than she was. But why should that surprise her? She clicked on the first one and groaned. I guess my heart really was wrong the entire past year. Then the second one, sent at 1:16 am. Prove me wrong, Liz. Please.

The cursor blinked rhythmically, demanding an answer where she had none to give. Liz buried her face in her hands, and fought back tears. She couldn't possibly explain that she'd made an unspoken pledge to him. And that she was bound to keep it, no matter what the cost to either of them-cursed by the very fact that she would do anything he ever asked of her.

It was a giant logic loop, threading backward and forward throughout time, and there seemed no way out of it for any of them. Her head swam with it all. But one thing was certain-all their futures depended on her. She had to be strong, had to resist the connection she'd forged with his other self, because it was always there now... singing to her, wooing her, seducing her. Even when she slept it whispered her name. And if she chose to reach for it, Liz had no doubt it would simply come alive between them. Not an option, she reminded herself firmly.

Liz hit delete, and in one furious gesture, exited her email. Goodbye. Suddenly, she hated that automated electronic voice. She shivered, remembering the tone of Max's email. He had all but begged her to tell him the truth. He knew something wasn't right-had known from the beginning. As he'd pointed out, it just didn't make sense. Now, she was just hurting him even more by refusing to be honest with him.

Grief rolled over Liz in waves all the time now. Just when she thought she could catch her breath, it would hit again. Worse than any pain she was experiencing, though, was the knowledge of what she'd done to Max.

Wasn't there some morsel of hope she could offer him? Liz combed her fingers wildly through her hair, as she stood and paced in the darkness. What she needed was a plan-yes, if there was anything Liz knew, it was how to strategize. She clasped her hands together tightly, ignoring the slight tremors that shook them. No, she would not heed the voice that insisted there was no way out of this maze for Max... for her. She had to believe. All it took was a plan.

Max Evans turned over in bed, kicking at the covers that had grown tangled around him.

Prove me wrong, Liz. Please.

They were the very same unspoken words Max had cried out to her from the beginning. Show me that I'm not what I fear I am. All his life he'd believed that if anyone saw what he really was, if they came too close, they would run from him. But for some reason with Liz, he'd felt he could risk exposing his innermost parts, those aspects he'd always protected.

So he had let her in, past all the barriers, further than anyone else. And she had applied her own healing balm to his soul, gently rubbed it into every place that needed human touch. Funny that she thought of him as having healed her, when the truth was so much the opposite. He may have healed her body that day at the Crashdown, but she had healed his heart, spirit... his essence.

Her answer had been simple acceptance. And with every kiss, every touch he'd felt something that had always seemed just beyond his grasp. To the very core of his being, he had felt human. And the amazing thing was, the more human he felt, the more his alien nature awakened within him. He'd never been able to tell Liz that, had worried it might frighten her, but it was certainly the truth. For even his powers had grown so much stronger as she had coaxed him to life... loved him, because in her arms he'd stopped running from himself. For the first time, he felt whole, balanced--the human and alien sides in true harmony-so intertwined that there was no separating them. That's what Liz's touch had done to him, and it had felt so safe.

Until now. Now he didn't know what to think anymore. Could he have been so wrong? He turned over in bed for perhaps the hundredth time tonight, haunted by the luminous glow of his digital clock. 3:13 am. Would sleep ever find him? Not so long as those emails hung suspended in cyberspace. What had he been thinking? It had seemed like a good idea a few hours ago, but not now. No-he just needed to intercept them and choose a new strategy in the morning, one that would seem less desperate.

He felt his way to the computer and logged on in the darkness. The modem crackled and whined to life. He couldn't help but feel disappointment when he realized he hadn't received any new email. What did he think-that Liz would write him at 2 a.m. on a school night? Quickly, he selected his outgoing mail and hit delete.

But his heart sank when the reply came back that he couldn't unsend a note that had already been read. So she had gotten his letters... and not replied. That figured. He stared at the computer's opaque screen--he wasn't even sure for how long--waiting, hoping for a reply. Because no matter what he'd seen with his eyes, Max couldn't shake the feeling that he should believe his heart instead.

Liz had paced herself into a frenzy, determined to think of something she could offer Max, some kind of answer. God knew he deserved it. And then she'd simply seen the way. If he solved the riddle, then perhaps there could still be hope for them-after all, both Maxes had said they made their own destiny, so it must be true. Liz had quickly scanned her bookcase, her pulse quickening with excitement, until her fingers found just the volume of literature she was looking for.

All it took was a plan. Maybe this one was crazy, maybe he wouldn't see, but she had to try. And as faith came alive within her-for the first time since the whole strange odyssey had begun-- Liz heard a faint whisper in the deepest recesses of her mind. You were going to be the wife of a leader. The wife of a king. Liz stopped dead in her tracks at the revelation, frozen in the pools of moonlight cascading across her bedroom floor. The pale light danced across her body, touching her, empowering her.

Seventeen-year old Liz Parker might not know much about royal heritage, but she knew one thing from her history books. Great queens always pointed their husbands toward home.

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