FanFic - Max/Liz
"How to Disappear Completely"
Part 8
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
Maria and Max stood in Liz's bedroom, staring at one another in silence, neither of them knowing what to say next. Maria looked down at the ring again, then began to shake her head, laughing softly.

"Man. Knowing you guys just gets weirder and weirder."

"I know it sounds crazy, Maria, but it's true."

"No, I believe you." She walked to Max and handed him the ring. "Just another example of how my brain checked out about a year ago."

"And I know it relates somehow to Liz's disappearance." Max felt his heart skip a beat, and he took Maria's hand in his. "I'm really worried about her," he said in a low voice.

"What do you mean?" Her eyes flew to his, her expression growing serious.

"Whatever happened in here... to her." Max glanced around the room as though searching for something. "When we first walked in I could feel it... her fear."

"Well, what do we do now?" Maria breathed.

Max lowered his head, thinking hard. "First let's call Valenti, then let's get Isabel and Michael." Max brushed a hand over his eyes, sighing heavily. "God, Maria... I don't know."

Maria squeezed his hand reassuringly. "Max, we will find her. We have to."

He met her determined gaze. "I know." He blew out a breath. "But how?"

Maria raised her eyebrows hopefully. "Maybe Isabel could dreamwalk her."

Max shook his head. "Only if Liz is asleep."

"No, no," Maria tightened her grip on his hand. "Maybe she can... when you were in the White Room she reached you-"

"I was drugged, Maria."

She cast her eyes downward. "Don't you at least want to try, Max?"

He pulled his hand from Maria's and began to pace. "Of course I do! You know what she is to me."

"Well, then we have to try something, Max," she whispered. "And right now we don't have much to go on."

Marco pulled Liz roughly by the hand, guiding her up the steep incline of the rocks. Briefly blinded by the setting desert sun, she stumbled, scraping her knee as she caught herself on the jagged surface.

"Come on, Liz." He jerked her hand roughly, pulling her to her feet.

"Would you give me a minute?" She hissed.

He paused momentarily as she examined her knee, which was raw and bleeding. Marco dropped his gaze to her leg, and for a moment seemed to hesitate.

"Let's keep going." He nodded his head in the direction of the rocks above.

"Going where?" She asked, staring up ahead of them.

" Now Liz." He stopped, casting a look over his shoulder at her. "You know exactly where you are."

"No." She shook her head, hoping she seemed convincing. "Where is this place?" She didn't want to give anything away if she didn't have to.

He stopped and turned back to her, pulling her roughly up against him. "Don't forget that I've been inside your mind." His dark eyes became fiery. "So there's nothing you can keep from me, nothing that is hidden, my dear."

"Okay, then where are we?" She asked, refusing to back down.

"You're testing me," he stated matter-of-factly, an uneven smile forming. She noticed that he had a dimple, which struck her as ironic for someone who rarely had reason to smile.

"Yes." A smile formed on her own lips. "I am."

"The granilith chamber," he ground out, raising his eyebrows. She flinched at the words because this meant he really did know where they were. But of course he did, since he'd followed them there in 2014. Why should she be surprised that he knew the granilith's exact location?

"Why are we going there?" she asked softly.

He drew his face within inches of her own, and she could feel his warm breath against her face. "Because that is where we'll wait for Max."

"So you're saying what, Maxwell?" Michael paced the length of his apartment yet again. Isabel sat on his sofa, hugging her knees, watching Max where he stood by the bar. Max had relayed everything that had happened, everything he'd seen in Liz's room, and had seemed so calm. Too calm, really. She tried to read his expressions, but kept coming up empty-handed. What he was saying sounded unbelievable, yet she knew Max, and he would never just invent something like this.

Max sighed heavily and raked a hand through his hair. "I'm saying that someone took Liz, Michael."

"No. You're saying some half-baked crazy thing about time travel."

"Yes." Max sighed wearily. "I am."

Michael stopped his pacing within inches of Max. "And you're basing this all on some ring?" He furrowed his brows as he stared at Max.

"No, Michael, I'm basing it on.... " Max closed his eyes and rubbed them for a moment. "A lot of things... there's a lot you don't know about the past week."

"Well, how about filling us in on these pertinent details, huh?"

"Michael... a lot of it's personal... between Liz and me, but what I'm saying about this future version of me is true. And it has something to do with whoever took her."

"Oh, well that's just great, Maxwell. Great-really gives us a lot to go on. You know, you're not the only one who cares about Liz... we all do."

Maria moved toward Michael and placed a calming hand on his arm. "Michael...."

"Well, we know they took the Jetta. It was missing from the back of the Crashdown."

"And you're just now telling us this?" Michael snapped.

"I can't believe you're pulling this crap at a time like this." Max stared at Michael in disbelief. "I called Valenti and he's already put a trace out on the car."

Isabel could see where this conversation was headed. She'd seen this play out too many times before, and from the look on Max's face, the calm fašade was about to crumble at any moment. Michael couldn't push him like this, not right now. Isabel sprung from where she'd been sitting quietly on the sofa. "Can I just talk to my brother alone for a moment? Please?"

Michael turned to her in disbelief. "We need to come up with a game plan, Isabel, and now."

"I know. But first let me just talk to Max for a moment."

"Fine," Michael said tightly, and walked toward the door to his apartment. "I'll be outside calling Valenti, so maybe someone can actually find Liz." Maria followed him to the door.

"We'll be back in five minutes, okay?" Maria said softly, looking at both of them.

Max and Isabel sat on Michael's sofa, both staring at the ring in Max's open palm. He had no idea what their next move should be, but the ring definitely seemed to be a clue.

"I just don't get him. I mean, I know she's his friend, but Liz is my... " his voice trailed off. What was Liz exactly? His girlfriend? His wife? Was she really anything at all that he could be easily defined at this point?

"You know how he is... Liz is important to him. Probably more than you'd guess."

Isabel took the ring tentatively from Max's hand, and turned it between her fingers.

"Unbelievable," Isabel whispered in wonder, holding the ring to the light. "And you saw this future version of yourself?"

"Just flashes. Images really, but...." Max hesitated.

"What aren't you telling me, Max?" Isabel looked at him pointedly.

Max dropped his eyes, staring at the ring. Isabel had to know the rest, because it might somehow help them find Liz. "Well, earlier when I was with Liz ... I felt him."

"Felt him?" Isabel coughed. "I'm sorry, Max, but that's just too weird. Could you tell me what you're really saying?"

Max smiled faintly. "Liz and I connected earlier, Isabel." He looked up at her, feeling his face grow warm, embarrassed to share the intimate details with his sister. "I mean something very different... something way beyond what's happened between us before."

"How beyond?"

"Well, we kind of became one." Max sighed, struggling for the right words. "I don't know how else to describe it.... I knew her thoughts-and I guess she knew mine." He started to feel a warmth spread through his chest at the mere memory of what had happened. It began to ripple through him, spreading through his whole body in waves. He cleared his throat, attempting to calm the sensations that were beginning within him.

"I knew things about her... " He hesitated, because he didn't want to tell her about Kyle and what he'd seen that terrible night. "And I did feel this man. Saw him... like me but older. It didn't make sense until Maria showed me this." He touched the ring.

Isabel sat quietly beside him and Max glanced at her. Her brows were furrowed in heavy thought.

"Do you think you could connect with her now?"

Max's heart raced within him, and he felt suddenly afraid. "Maybe you should try dreamwalking her first, Iz."

"Max, if you connected that strongly with her before, you might be able to do it again." She placed her hand gently on his arm.

"Okay." He nodded quietly. "But I'm just not sure how to do it... since we're not together."

"Well, why don't you start by focusing on the ring?"

"Alright," he said, staring down at it where it glittered in his palm. It was amazing to think that this had belonged to Liz... that they'd been married for a long time in some other life.

He closed his eyes, holding the gold ring tightly. Oh, Liz. Please let me reach you.

He saw the two of them in the granilith chamber, removing their wedding bands and exchanging them. They were clinging to each other as if their very lives depended on it. He heard Liz's voice floating to him from a distance.

Max, if you don't do this, we're going to die. Everyone will... Max, you have to do this. You have to try it.

Then the image dissolved into blackness and he couldn't see anything else. His eyes flew open.

He turned to Isabel, his heart thundering. "It was the granilith. They used it somehow."

"They?"

"Our future selves.... That's how I came back in time."

Isabel nodded, her eyes meeting Max's firmly. "Good, Max. But now try again. You've got to try to connect with her somehow."

He closed his eyes again and took deep breaths, working to clear his mind. He began to reach for Liz, groping blindly in the dark for her, in the desperate hope that he'd be able to feel her somehow. But like some shrouded figure in a dream, their connection kept eluding him, darting just beyond his grasp. More deep breaths, more darkness... then there was the faintest spark. His chest began to grow warm, and his face flushed instantly... but he saw nothing.

Then just as quickly as the connection had flared, it faded dully. Fear gripped his heart as his entire body cooled, leaving only the painful absence of Liz. Isabel must have sensed what was happening, because she placed her hand softly on his, lending her power to his own. He felt it surge through him instantly, adding strength and dimension to what was happening within him. His body began to hum with quiet energy, and he reached again through the blackness for Liz.

That was when he saw her, sitting on a smooth gray floor, hugging her knees tightly against her chest. Even though her lips weren't moving, he could hear her whispering his name, over and over like a mantra, trying desperately to make the connection from her own end. But he also knew she wasn't focusing on it fully, because there was someone in front of her, talking to her. If only he could see that someone.

Liz sat on the cold floor of the granilith chamber, leaning against the wall. She hugged her knees tightly against her chest, making herself as small as possible-- almost willing herself to disappear. Silently in her mind she drummed one word over and over. Max. Max. Max.

If she could just connect with him, then they might all come out of this alive. Especially Max.

Marco sprawled silently against the wall opposite her, his long legs extended in front of him. She propped her chin on her knees, and stared silently at his weathered black boots--anything to avoid his cold eyes. And she could definitely feel them beating into her. She noticed that one of his boots had a long gash in the side, which reminded her of his scar, and she wondered again why it felt so familiar and important.

"How'd you get that scar?" She ventured, raising her eyes to meet his tentatively.

He stared back at her for a long, thoughtful moment. At first she thought he wasn't even going to reply. "That's an odd question, Liz."

She shrugged, dropping her eyes again, and began to trace her finger in little circular patterns on the smooth floor. Finally she spoke again. "Well, then here's another one. What are we doing here?"

"I like the first question better."

She glanced up again and he seemed to be gazing at some distant point. Liz was more than a little surprised by the mixture of emotions she saw flashing across his features. Sadness, regret... emptiness.

Then his eyes focused on her own, and he grew quickly guarded.

"Yet I shall answer the second one," he said, sounding strangely formal. He shifted where he sat on the floor, sitting more upright. "We're going to call Max in a few minutes and have him meet us here."

"Why are you waiting at all? Why not just call him now?"

"Ah, well see, there's reason to my madness, my dear." His eyes searched hers. "I want to give him time to know you're really gone, because his fear for you will be his weakness."

"Why do you want to destroy Max? Are you a skin?"

He let out a deep, gravelly laugh, something she never expected. "I'll choose not to take that as an insult," He smiled his strange half-smile. "No, I'm a hybrid. Just like you and Max."

Just like you and Max.

She would have sworn that her heart literally stopped beating.

Then it began to hammer within her crazily, as the room nearly faded to black around her.

Finally she found her voice. "Like Max, you mean," she rasped.

Marco's eyebrows drew together in confusion as he studied her. "Like you, Max... all of you." She saw awareness grow in his expression and his eyebrows arched. "Liz... don't you know what you are? Do you not know yet?" His surprise seemed genuine.

She felt hot tears begin to sting behind her eyes, as anger began to roil within her. "What kind of game are you trying to play with me?" she hissed.

He stared back at her, his expression guarded and unreadable.

"I was merely answering your question as to my genetic disposition." He cleared his throat with a wry laugh. "I did not expect to bump into something so... awkward, shall I say? As your not knowing what species you belong to." He bowed his head dramatically. "I do hope you'll forgive my indiscretion."

"What you're saying... it can't be true. It's impossible." She felt the tears begin to spill down her cheeks.

"Liz, it is very much possible because it is who you are."

"I have human cells... human blood."

"Your composition is more human than the others because your pod was defective. You came out earlier than the rest of them."

Liz began to shake uncontrollably. "No, this isn't true." Liz shook her head vehemently. "There's no way you could even know this at all."

"Actually, I know firsthand that it is the truth."

"How?" she rasped.

"Because in the year 2006 I was sent to serve as your protector." He met her eyes with a steady gaze. "For you and Max. It was what I was engineered for."

Liz swiped at the tears, and buried her face in her knees. She didn't want Marco to know that his bizarre tactic was unnerving her so badly. Well, surely he already knew that? Yet something deep within her ignited at his words, knew that they were true.... Had somehow always known. Slowly she raised her head from her knees again, and found Marco studying her coolly.

"If that was your mission, then why are you here to destroy Max?"

Marco rose slowly, brushing off his faded blue jeans, and began to slowly walk the length of the chamber. "Because that's what Kivar has asked me to do. And I serve him now, not Max."

Part 7 | Index | Part 9
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