|"How to Disappear Completely"|
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.
| So she walked away from him. She turned her back because it was too soon for the truth.|
"I've got to go, Max." She stepped toward the stairs, assuming her most detached, rational voice. "I've got a history mid-term tomorrow, and... "
Then she heard it... his voice so quiet she nearly missed it. "This is killing me, Liz."
She froze in her tracks, and slowly turned toward him. All the fire was gone from him now, replaced only by brokenness.
His voice was barely more than a whisper. "Just talk to me... please."
And she was gone, utterly destroyed.
Moments hung suspended, both of them without words.
At last she found her voice. "Where?" she rasped, knowing she'd go anywhere he wanted... right into his arms forever, if only he asked.
He thought a moment, his brow furrowing slightly as he considered the possibilities. Then the frown was replaced by a faint smile as he found his answer.
"Here," he replied softly.
"No," she shook her head firmly, taking a step back from him, her heart thundering within her chest. Not here. No, she couldn't lose control here... not like this, not like she knew she would.
But he quickly closed the physical distance between them. "Yes, Liz... here," he whispered, capturing her hand gently within his. "Right here...right now." He traced his thumb lightly across the back of her hand. "I know you're ready to tell me the truth."
He covered her hand within both of his own, and she could feel an incredible heat envelop her, just as it always did whenever Max touched her. It began right between their hands and radiated outward like a giant rolling wave, gaining momentum throughout her entire body. Her face flushed and her eyes watered from the sweeping sensations that moved through her, and like the undertow below the ocean waves, their bond tugged her deeper into him. Oh, God, he was going to know everything now because she couldn't resist this... what was coming. The pull was too powerful.
Max's amber eyes met her own, widening with surprise... innocent wonder at what was beginning to unfold between them. She read the unspoken questions in his gaze, felt them as the bond unfurled. He had no idea what was happening... knew this wasn't a flash, that this was uncharted territory.
Then the connection skittered and sparked, and like wildfire set to desert brush, the flame simply roared to life. She felt everything that was in Max's heart at that moment, felt it ripple through her, touch her, as she spun deeper into him. Oh, and she felt him coming inside of her, too. He stepped even closer to her, and she heard a rushing noise all around them. She could no longer hear the thrumming sounds of the restaurant. There was only Max, and her senses were totally immersed in him. She reached a hand to his cheek, caressing it tenderly. He closed his eyes and she felt what her touch did to him. He was simply undone... by all of it.
"Liz?" His eyes fluttered open again, questioning.
"Hmm... " she sighed, feeling the soft stubble of his beard beneath her fingers. Every touch, every sensation was magnified.
"What is... this?" he murmured.
Liz stepped nearer and slipped her arms around him, pulling him close. She breathed in the scent of him, felt his heart beating wildly against her chest. Her own heart matched his beat for beat--both their pulses falling into a single rhythm as they became completely one.
Her mind spun with his endless questions, his confusion... his absolute release as they joined like this. He didn't understand what was happening, didn't care. Max pressed his lips against the top of Liz's head, burying his face in her hair.
Another wave hit her, and she knew the unspeakable anguish he'd been carrying for the past week. Kyle in her bed... covers thrown over their bare bodies. Tinkling laughter. Shock. Betrayal. The sensation of her heart being torn from her chest... but it wasn't her heart... it was his. Not just the past week... the past months. That day at the cave. Images of her running away, down the hill... him losing her forever. One question, echoing endlessly through his mind, over and over. Was it somehow his fault? Oh, God it felt like a knife in the very core of her being.
And just when the weight of his grief began to crush her, she touched the radiant spark of hope that had come alive within him during these past few moments. So warm, so golden... it was the promise of everything he held most dear. The faded embers of his love for her, his dreams-- fanned to life again, because he knew she hadn't slept with Kyle. And his heart simply sang with it.
The brightest sunlight, rippling between them. Max's breathing was erratic, his heart hammering against hers. He took her face in his hands, sending shivers across her flushed skin. She was absolutely on fire. He pressed his lips against hers, claiming her mouth with his own, and she could feel him shaking, slight tremors running through his whole body. It occurred to her that they were right in the back of the Crashdown-that her parents might walk in on them at any moment. Not that she cared.
That was her last coherent thought before she felt their souls touch.
She sensed him... a solid presence and it was the most beautiful thing she'd ever known. His lips stilled against hers and neither of them breathed for what felt like an eternity. Neither knew what to do, they were transfixed by the moment.
Slowly, Liz opened her eyes and saw that Max was watching her, sheer amazement dancing across his features. He pulled back and she realized for the first time that tears were streaming down her face. He reached a finger out and traced a damp path across her cheek.
"Oh, Liz," he whispered. "You... are even more beautiful than I imagined."
"Max, we've got to stop this... "
He leaned his forehead against hers. "Why?" he groaned.
"Because... " she took quick breaths, trying to steady her mind, her pulse. "Anyone could walk in... "
"That's bad?" he asked helplessly, wiping her tears with his fingers.
"Yeah... " Liz laughed softly, trying desperately to steady her thoughts. "Upstairs... let's go up... stairs."
"Okay," he murmured, pulling her against his chest tightly.
"Okay," she nodded in agreement. "Then... we've got to break this, Max." He released her, but threaded his fingers through hers, not ready to let the moment go. She smiled up at him, slowly disentangling her fingers from his.
And everything became perfectly still and quiet between them, as the roar of their connection cooled. But it didn't grieve her this time, not like with his future self. No, this time she felt a wonderful thrill humming all through her. Like Max had just done something really amazing to her... within her. In a way, he'd just made love to her, right there in the back of her parent's restaurant, for all the world to see. She smiled giddily at the idea, and smoothed out her hair, trying to compose herself at least a bit.
"I can't wait for you to explain what just happened." He met her gaze again, suddenly almost shy with her. "Because I have the feeling you understand it a lot better than I do."
"Upstairs." Liz smiled up at him. "Some place more private."
Max sat on the bottom step to Liz's apartment, running his hand absently through his hair. Liz had asked him to give her five minutes alone, and he certainly hadn't needed an explanation for that. Not after what had just happened between them. For that matter, he needed a few moments to sort through the huge avalanche of emotions that he'd just experienced.
One thing was absolutely certain. Liz had not slept with Kyle. But something else had definitely happened to her, something that had changed her profoundly. Irreversibly. And though he didn't understand how, he felt certain that it was all somehow related to... himself. All through their connection, he'd felt it... there was someone else, but that person didn't upset him, or frighten him.
Liz bounded up the stairs, her heart simply soaring within her. At that moment, she didn't care that Max was going to know everything. There had to be some way they could work things out together without it being the end of the world.
She thought of Future Max and what he'd asked of her. He had been desperate, driven, and maybe the plan they'd concocted together hadn't been the best. Well, that much is obvious, she corrected herself. And what would Future Max have thought about the secret she'd kept from him, especially now that she'd just revealed it to her Max downstairs.
She hadn't been sure until today, had only had her suspicions, but now she knew beyond any doubt-the two of them hadn't broken the connection in time that night. He had imparted their bond to her permanently then, and in all probability she had just passed it on to Max downstairs. The notion thrilled her to the core of her being.
She reached the landing, and fumbled for her apartment key, noticing the wedding band slip a bit on her finger. Future Liz had apparently been a tiny bit heavier, because the ring was always sliding around on her finger. Now there's something to look forward to in my thirties, she thought with a wry laugh. She turned the key in the lock and thought that she couldn't wait to show Max the ring... the inscription.
Liz stepped into the apartment humming happily, thinking about all the things she wanted to tell Max. She dropped her books on the sofa, contemplating all their many months apart, and how much had remained unspoken, how much there was to share now. She warmed at the very notion of it.
And then every delirious thought died.
A man she'd never seen stood before her bedroom window, and his eyes locked with hers. Cold, lifeless eyes, blacker than darkness. Eyes that in that split second she knew reflected his very soul--and what she saw in them was death.
Her first thought was to run, but she couldn't seem to move, or even breathe, despite gasping desperately for air. Her lungs burned with the effort.
Like something from her most terrible nightmares, time froze, suspending endlessly before her. There was only the sound of blood rushing in her ears as she turned to flee. But before she could even reach the door, it slammed shut right before her.
It was then that Liz understood just what she was dealing with because she heard his voice.
"Liz Evans. We meet again."
And she knew that the eyes were only the beginning.
|Part 4 | Index | Part 6|