FanFic - Max/Liz
"Small Sacrifices"
Part 2
by Karen
Disclaimer: Borrowed and returned undamaged, thanks.
Summary: A joyous event turns tragic; Liz sets Max free.
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: PG-13
Authors Note: Feedback is always appreciated. Thanks!
Liz was pacing her room again. Not out of nervousness this time, but out of excitement. She couldn't wait to tell Max, but she needed that night to be perfect. He and his family were leaving for Florida that afternoon - she would have to wait until they got back.

She stopped in front of her full-length mirror and slowly pulled her shirt up to reveal her belly. No signs of anything yet. It almost disappointed her. She frowned a little, then ran her hands over her bare abdomen. As she caressed her skin, she could have sworn she felt movement deep inside of her. Her eyes widened, then she chided herself - it was far too soon for that. Or maybe not…who knew what this pregnancy would bring? She was going to experience a pregnancy that probably no one else on earth had. She giggled.

A glance at the clock told her she needed to be on her way - she'd promised Max that she would say goodbye to him at the airport. Grabbing her purse and her dad's car keys, she rushed outside and jumped behind the wheel.

Dinner, she thought as she drove. She would make dinner for the two of them when she told him. It would have to be something special, something Max really liked. Candles - got to have a lot of candles for a romantic evening. Flowers. Would Max care about flowers? He would if she strewed them across the bed as an invitation. Liz giggled again.

Would they make love after she told him? She tried to think of how Max would react. Surprised at first. Then he'd kick himself for that one time he didn't feel the need to use a condom. And then, hopefully, he'd be as happy as she was. How could he not be happy about it when he saw how overjoyed she was? They'd created life.

At the airport, Liz quickly checked the monitors to find the gate where Max's flight was boarding. She only had a few minutes to get there before they started boarding. She half walked, half ran to the gate. As she approached, she saw the Evanses - Mr. and Mrs. and Isabel - sitting in the waiting area. Frantically, she glanced around for Max, then spotted him standing near the wide hallway, looking anxious. When his eyes settled on hers, he gave a visible sigh of relief and smiled.

Liz broke into a full run and jumped into his arms. He laughed and twirled her around, kissing her. Over Max's shoulder, Liz saw Isabel roll her eyes and flip her magazine page in annoyance.

"I love you," Liz chirped.

"Yes, and I love you," Max said, setting her feet back on the floor. "Too much caffeine today?" he guessed.

Liz shook her head. "I'm just really happy today."

"So I see."

"Listen, when you get back from Tampa," Liz said, trying to keep the excitement out of her voice, "you have to come over to my house immediately."

"Immediately?" Max questioned, raising his dark eyebrows.

"Well, I'll let you drop off your bags at home first, but then you have to come right over." Liz stood on her tiptoes and whispered into his ear. "I have something to tell you."

Max's eyes showed his confusion. "You do? What?"

Liz laughed. "Not yet. When you get back. Okay?"

Max nodded. "Okay." He kissed her again as the flight attendant started calling rows for boarding. He grimaced. "God, I hate flying."

Liz giggled at the irony of that. "Did you take some Dramamine this time?" she asked, touching the side of his face.

Max shook his head. "You know how I feel about human drugs," he said quietly.

"Well, just grab a barf bag and get it over with," Liz advised. Before she could stop herself, she added, "God knows I've been doing enough of it."

Max had started to bend to pick up his carry on bag, but looked back at her. "What?"

Liz covered her slip nicely. "I said God knows you're going to need it."

He laughed and slipped an arm around her waist and kissed her for the last time before boarding the plane. Liz watched him walk down the jet way, and when he turned around to get one last glance, she mouthed the words "I love you." _____________________________________________________________________

Liz awoke with an odd feeling creeping across her body. She didn't do her routine stretching; she was afraid to. She sat up as she swung her legs over the side of the bed and immediately felt the room spin. Grabbing the nightstand, she steadied herself and drew in a deep breath. Her knees were shaking and her heart seemed to be beating erratically in her chest. Something wasn't right. It's just morning sickness, she told herself as she pushed herself to her feet. It will pass.

She took her shower slowly, carefully, and felt good enough to go to school. She felt a little steadier on her feet, but there was still a gnawing feeling in the back of her head that something was wrong.

In fifth period PE, Liz was picked first for the softball team - she was the best hitter among the girls. After sliding headfirst into second base, she felt a pain in her abdomen, a pain that doubled her over. She told her gym instructor she was nauseous and needed to see the nurse. Of course, she had no intention of seeing the school nurse - then the world would know she was pregnant. Which would be fine once Max knew.

Liz went to the restroom and sat in one of the stalls. The room was starting to rock back and forth again and the pain in her stomach increased. When she wiped, she saw blood, a considerable amount of blood, on the paper. Liz's hands started to tremble as she looked at the paper and tears started to come to her eyes. This wasn't happening.

She found Maria studying in the library. When she felt Liz's presence beside her Maria held up a finger so she could finish the paragraph she was reading. Liz reached over and touched Maria's arm. At Liz's cold, clammy touch, Maria looked up, startled, then was immediately on her feet and moving for the parking lot.

"I don't know what's wrong," Liz repeated over and over in the car as they raced toward the hospital.

Maria knew what was wrong. Liz was miscarrying. "It'll be okay," Maria said, trying to keep her voice calm.

"Something's wrong," Liz repeated, swallowing past her tears.

"I know, babe, but we'll be at the hospital shortly. Hang in there."

Liz could hear a steady buzzing in her ears and it was suddenly harder to hear. Her hands dropped to her lap and soon she wasn't able to hold her head up. She barely heard Maria's startled shriek when she toppled over in the seat.

Then it was nothing but quick images, all in a fog, all a blur. White ceiling tiles whizzed past. Someone asked how old she was and what her name was. 18? Liz Evans? Isn't that what she had told them? Another voice asking whom her parents were; Maria's far-away answer. Not my dad, Maria, he doesn't know yet.

Liz didn't see the worried glances between doctor and nurse, didn't feel the needle penetrating her arm, didn't hear the words that would terminate her pregnancy in its entirety. She didn't see Maria, her blue eyes glistening with tears, looking through the small emergency room window.

Liz saw Max. She saw Max as if he was standing right before her, his wonderful lips curved into a gentle smile. He came toward her, past all of those bustling figures in white, and stretched out on the bed with her. He put his strong arms around her small body, kissed her on the cheek and told her he loved her. And that she would be okay. Then he tucked her head into his chest and she drifted off to sleep. _____________________________________________________________________

Liz opened her eyes and quickly shut them again when greeted with the harsh light of the room. There was a constant, raw pain in her belly, a stinging pain in her arm. She cracked her eyes enough to see that there was an IV dripping into her arm, the needle causing the discomfort. Where was she? She remembered leaving gym, then nothing.

Someone picked up her hand. She turned her head to see Maria standing there, a sympathetic smile on her face.

"Hi, Lizzie," Maria said softly.

"Maria? Where's Max?"

Maria shifted uneasily. "He's not here, Liz. He's in Tampa, remember?"

Liz shook her head, felt the sting of tears in her eyes. "No, he was here with me. I saw him."

Maria stroked her hand. "Why don't you sleep?" she said, wiping at her own tears. "You've been through so much."

Liz's free hand wandered to her belly. She felt…empty. "Is…did I…how's…" Her dark eyes settled on Maria's eyes and she knew. She wasn't pregnant any more. Then she remembered the car ride to the hospital, feeling more and more sick, the feeling of Max's child slipping from her body. Liz burst into tears and turned her head away from her friend. She disengaged her hand and wept herself back to sleep. ______________________________________________________________________

The next time Liz awoke, she felt more coherent and more grieved. Her eyes adjusted to the dimmer light of the room - she guessed it was late at night. Her father was perched beside her bed, his hands folded before his face. When he saw she was awake, he smiled at her. It was a weak smile.

Liz drew in a breath and touched his face. "Max loves me, Daddy," she said unapologetically.

"I know." Jeff Parker's voice was soft in the small room.

"I'm sorry if I disappointed you."

He shook his head. "You can't disappoint me, pumpkin. I just wish you would have told me."

"I was going to. After I told Max."

"You haven't told Max?" Jeff seemed surprised.

Liz shook her head. "I wanted that night to be special." She sighed. "I don't want him to know now, Dad. Okay?"

Jeff nodded his agreement, took her hand and kissed it.

"Can I go home?" Liz asked. She wanted the comfort of her own bed, her own home.

"Tomorrow," her father answered. "You lost a lot of blood. Sleep. I'll stay here with you tonight." He kissed his daughter and gave her a gentle smile, then watched over her as she slipped back into a drug-induced slumber. _____________________________________________________________________

Her legs pulled up beneath her, Liz sat on her lounger. Soon Max would be there, and soon she would have to tell him. Not about the baby, but that she never wanted to see him again. She sighed. It had been a tough decision to come to, but it was necessary. Max could never know about the pregnancy. Liz knew how he was - he would beat himself up for the rest of his life over the pain she'd gone through. He'd blame himself for being careless in the first place, then for not being there when she'd needed him. Not that he'd have been able to do anything about it. He couldn't stop what nature had selected to discard. It simply wasn't meant to be.

But Liz couldn't live with him looking at her with all of that pity and guilt. She couldn't live from day to day knowing he was afraid to touch her. She couldn't bear the thought that every time he tried to make love to her he'd think of how his actions had hurt her in the past. Max was a martyr, whether he wanted to admit it or not.

If he touched her, he'd get the flashes from her of what had happened. There was no doubting that would happen. Anything of significant emotional value was automatically transferred to Max when they touched, whether it be joy or love or pain. She wouldn't be able to hide the truth from him.

So, she'd decided setting him free was the only option. It was going to hurt. It was going to hurt like hell. But she was strong. Her heart was a small sacrifice. She'd make it through this. She wasn't so sure about Max.

Liz heard the clang of Max's shoes on the ladder and she jumped to her feet. She needed to stay mobile, to not let him trap her in a corner. His dark hair appeared above the ladder, then his face. He was tanned from his week on the beach and never looked more youthful or beautiful to her than he did now. He was smiling so wide that Liz almost felt her determination falter.

"Oh, love," he said as he stepped onto the roof and reached for her. "God, have I missed you." He was leaning towards her as if to kiss her, but Liz backed away. Max's hands dropped to his sides and his brow furrowed with a frown. "Liz, is everything okay?"

Stop wringing your hands, she told herself. You look unsure of yourself if you do that. "No, everything isn't okay, Max," she began, keeping her voice even.

"Did something happen?" He moved for her again and again she moved out of his reach.

"Not really." She cleared her throat. "Remember how I said I had to talk to you as soon as you got back?"

He nodded slowly. "Yeah?"

"I wanted to talk to you immediately so that I could let you get on with your life as soon as possible," she said in a rush.

"What? What do you mean?"

"I'm-I'm breaking up with you, Max." Nice stutter, she told herself. Now you really look unsure of yourself.

"Liz, you aren't making any sense. Are you okay?"

Great. He didn't believe her.

"I'm fine," Liz said, hoping she wouldn't have to get mean with him. She didn't want to add insult to the injury. "I just think we need to see new people, that's all."

"New people? What new people?" His dark eyes narrowed. "Is there someone else?"

Liz shook her head. She didn't want Max to think that she would cheat on him. She would never hurt him that way. "No, no one else. But maybe some day there will be. For you."

"For me?" He was repeating everything she was saying to him. His tone was one of pure disbelief. "But I don't want anyone else, Liz. I want you." He took a step forward and she took a step backward. He stopped in his tracks and Liz saw his jaw set in that defiant manner he got when he was starting to get irritated. "What happened?"

"Nothing." The answer was weaker than she'd anticipated.

"Last week when you said good bye to me at the airport, you were happy. You were ecstatic about something. And now you're telling me to get lost? How can you stand there and tell me that nothing happened when obviously something did?"

Liz swallowed. He was starting to raise his voice and she had never seen him angry. She forced herself to maintain eye contact while she lied to him. "Nothing happened, Max."

"No? Then why didn't you break up with me before I went to Florida?"

"Because I didn't want to ruin your vacation." She'd rehearsed that answer so it came out sounding confident, almost like she meant it.

Max stared at her, his eyes reflecting the disbelief and hurt he was feeling inside. "Okay," he finally agreed. "We'll break up. But you listen to me, Liz. I know something happened. I know there is a reason you are doing this." A pregnant pause ensued while Max eyed her warily. When he spoke, his voice was soft - it sent a shiver through her. "I love you Liz."

Liz looked to the ground. She hadn't anticipated this. She had expected Max to run off in a teary fury and she could've dealt with that. She couldn't deal with him turning the tables on her.

Max continued. "And I know you love me. I just thought that you would never lie to me. I guess I was wrong." He paused, then added sarcastically, "What? No goodbye kiss?"

Liz's head snapped up and her mouth fell open. No, there would be no more kisses. He would definitely know if she kissed him. And from the look on his face, he'd known that too - he'd managed to trap her without ever touching her. He could see from her startled expression she was obviously hiding something.

Max snorted in disbelief, turned on his heals and left.

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