FanFic - Max/Liz
"Small Sacrifices"
Part 4
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!
Staring blankly into space, Max sat in his desk chair in his room. He let his vision blur to a stinging fog before he blinked, but that and his shallow breathing were his only movements. His outward solace belayed the turmoil inside of him. His confusion had sent his mind racing, but his sadness had reduced his heart to a barely perceptible bumping in his chest. If he sat perfectly still, the world around him ceased to move, to exist, and he could withdraw into himself. It was the only way he knew to stifle the confusion, the pain. Max was going to be a father.

He couldn't bear to think about Liz, about the pain she must've endured, about how she had chosen to go through it all alone. If he thought about it, he would break down, and he couldn't handle that right now. He knew it might drive him insane.

Upon returning home from the pod chamber, Max had helped Liz up the stairs and into her bed. Fortunately, her parents were on yet another stargazing excursion to the canyons. Trying not to notice her beautiful, tiny feet with their painted toenails, Max had taken off Liz's shoes and pulled the covers over her. She appeared ready to speak, but he'd put his finger over his lips to hush her, smiled a warm smile, then returned to his own home to confine himself in his own room. He couldn't deal with it.

He should be happy, he argued with himself. The girl he loved loved him in return. Loved him enough to keep the loss of their child to herself because she didn't want to hurt him. Who wouldn't want that?

Unfortunately for Max, the connection didn't give explanations, only emotions. He couldn't rationalize what Liz must've been thinking. He knew she loved him - deeply. When he'd connected with her, he felt her fear as she clung to his hand, her panic that he'd find out about the baby and how she really felt about him. She was in love with him. So in love with him it hurt her.

With the connection, he saw flashes of a hurried trip to the hospital, blood - so much blood, a plea to Maria to keep her secret from Max. He couldn't know. He could never know. If he did, he'd beat himself up for the rest of his life - for getting her pregnant in the first place, and then for not being there when she needed him most.

Max betrayed his vow to remain motionless and drew in a deep breath, released it as a resigned sigh. He scrubbed his face with his hands, then jerked toward the window when he heard a light rapping noise on the glass. Liz. He rose to his feet and pulled apart the curtains. Through the glass, Liz gave him a small smile. Max pushed open the window and held out his hand for her. He helped her through the window, then they both stood just staring at each other.

Max looked at the woman before him and thought of her bravery to go through what she had. Maybe it was true - maybe women were the stronger sex. He felt a stinging in his eyes and before he could stop himself, he pulled Liz into his embrace, squeezing her as tight as he could.

"I'm so sorry," he said against her shoulder, his voice cracking.

"Max, it's okay. I'm okay," Liz replied, her voice muffled against his chest.

Max pulled away from her and took her by the upper arms. His gaze went to her flat little belly and one of his hands soon followed. "Are you sure? I didn't mean to do that to you, Liz. I never meant for that - "

Liz placed one of her fingers against Max's lips to hush him. "Stop it," she commanded gently. "This is why I didn't want you to know. It isn't your fault. It isn't my fault. It happened."

Max sighed, looked at the floor. "Can you still…"

Liz nodded, a small smile creasing her features. "Yeah, I can still have children." She touched his cheek to bring his gaze back to hers. "I'm fine, Max."

He met her steady gaze and knew that she was telling him the truth. "Can you tell me about it?" he asked.

Liz pulled him down to sit on the bed with her. She drew in a deep breath. "What do you want to know?"

"All of it."

She picked up one of his hands in hers. "At first I freaked," she laughed lightly. "I kind of panicked. I mean, I'm 17, I'm pregnant. With an alien's child." She caught Max's guilty expression and squeezed his hand. "An alien that I love. I told Maria. She's the only one I told. One Saturday afternoon we went to the free clinic -"

"The free clinic?" Max's face contorted. "Liz, I would've paid -"

"No, that's not why. Everything at the free clinic is confidential. I'm a minor, Max. If I went anywhere else, they would have contacted my parents. Anyway, we went there and I got the confirmation. I was six weeks pregnant." Liz smiled gently. "And then I was just happy. I was so happy, Max. I had a little Max Evans living inside of me. I thought I could feel it - which is ridiculous, because you can't feel them until much later in the pregnancy. I started picking out names. I went from wanting a girl to wanting a boy to back to wanting a girl again. I wondered which you would prefer. I made plans to tell you - I wanted that night to be perfect." She stopped, her expression falling grim. "The night I'd planned to tell you that you were going to be a father, I told you I wanted to break up with you instead."

Max's eyes pleaded with her. "What happened, Liz? Please tell me."

Liz looked to the carpet. "I woke up one morning and I just felt like something was wrong. By lunchtime I had bad cramps. After PE, I went to the bathroom and just started bleeding." Max winced, almost as though he could feel her pain. "Oh, God, Max, I was so scared. I hunted down Maria and we went to the hospital." Tears welled up in Liz's eyes as she met Max's gaze. "I'm sorry, Max." Her voice cracked as the tears flowed down her cheeks. "I lost our baby."

Max wrapped his arms around her and held her while she cried. He had the feeling this was the first true release she'd allowed herself. He let her cry, kissed the side of her head when she'd calmed down. He pulled back from her and took her face between his hands.

"If I hadn't been in Florida," he mused, swallowing. "I could've helped."

Liz shook her head, wiped at her tears. "There's nothing you could have done." She touched his cheek in return. "It wasn't meant to be."

Max realized she was right. "Why did you break up with me?"

Liz drew in a breath. "Because I knew if I let you touch me again-"

"That you might get pregnant again?" Max's expression was grim.

But Liz smiled gently in return. "No. That's not it at all. I liked being pregnant by you. I knew that if you touched me again, that you would know the truth, that you would know what happened. I didn't want you beating yourself up over this. I didn't want you to be afraid to touch me again for fear I would get pregnant again. And you would have felt that way, Max. That's why I thought it best to just set you free," Liz concluded. "I didn't want you to have to live with that."

Max caressed her cheeks with his thumbs. "You did all of that to protect me?"

Liz nodded bashfully.

Max let out a soft snort. "Listen to me, Liz. I will always love you, regardless if you miscarried our child, regardless if you could get pregnant again. And I will never be too afraid to touch you, to let you see how much I love you. I may be more cautious next time, but I will never, never refuse to touch you."

Liz drew in a breath at the ferocity in his eyes.

"I love you," Max said simply. "You were going to be the mother of my child." He lips curved into a smile. "And I'm just sorry I missed it, no matter how short it was." His expression fell serious as his eyes settled on her lips. "Don't deny me," he pleaded.

Liz swallowed hard, felt her heart start to beat a little quicker in her chest. She shook her head. She wouldn't deny him this time.

Max leaned forward as his eyes drifted shut. He could feel Liz's sweet breath on his face, could feel the nervous energy coming off from her. The connection started before their lips even touched. Max gasped at its intensity, and then his lips touched Liz's. They both saw the blinding flash of light that was the preamble to the full connection, and the power of the connection nearly bowled them over when it kicked in full force. Max heard a rush of voices in his head, saw a barrage of images whiz through his mind - Liz as a toddler, taking her first step. Maria and Liz as young girls swinging on a swing set behind Maria's house. Liz and Alex dissecting a frog in seventh grade science class, Alex rushing to the bathroom to vomit. Liz's embarrassment as her mother explained the facts of life to her.

Then Max saw himself through Liz's eyes. In grade school, she was curious of his quiet manner, jealous of his academic ability. In junior high she was more curious - she thought he had cute eyes. The beginning of high school, she found his mystery enticing, found his maturing body attractive, his soft voice kind of sexy. After the shooting, she saw him as the most beautiful creature she'd ever seen.

Gasping, Max pulled away from Liz. Her eyes were round as they searched his. She'd received the same rush of the connection, had experienced the same intensity. She felt a strange sensation in her abdomen, where the baby had been.

"Max?" she breathed, a little frightened.

"My God," Max gasped. "That was so-"

"Yeah, I know," Liz nodded eagerly. "Why, do you suppose?"

Max's eyes wandered to Liz's tummy. "I don't know. Maybe because of the pregnancy." He paused, then swallowed hard. His head was reeling from the rush of images and emotions he'd received and his heart was pounding frantically against his ribs. He leaned his forehead against Liz's and gasped for air.

"Are you okay?" Liz's small hands went to the sides of his head.

Max nodded. "I'll be okay. Just give me a minute."

Beneath her hand, Liz could feel his erratic pulse in his neck. She let her hand drop to his chest where she could feel his heart against her palm. She breathed out a little laugh. "You aren't on the verge of a heart attack, are you?"

Max grasped her hand in his and leaned back so he could look into her eyes. Liz was left speechless by the tears she unexpectedly saw in his eyes.

"I love you so much," Max whispered. He squeezed his eyes shut and the tears rolled silently down his cheeks.

Liz felt her own eyes start to tear as she reached for his beautiful face. She used her thumbs to wipe the wetness away from his dark eyelashes. He opened his eyes at her touch, never left her gaze as she traced the tracks of his tears with her fingertips. When her fingers reached his chin, she let them slide slowly off, then she reached down and pulled her sweater over her head.

Max drew in a breath as his eyes traveled to her round breasts. Without even looking in that direction, he raised his left hand toward the bedroom door and Liz heard the lock flip closed. His hand then dropped to a lower level and his CD player started softly on the nightstand. Liz smiled. One click of his fingers and the lights went out.

It took a moment before Liz's eyes adjusted to the new light in the room. Gradually she could make out the outline of the furniture, the outline of the man sitting beside her. He hadn't moved, and Liz could tell he was still looking at her breasts. She allowed herself a little smile as she reached behind her back and flipped the clasp on her bra. Her shoulders shrugged and the undergarment fell to the floor. Liz thought she could hear Max gulp.

Liz rose to her feet and stood before him, letting his legs straddle hers. She looked down into his face as he gazed up at her. He still hadn't touched her. Liz reached down and slowly unzipped her jeans. Her eyes didn't leave his as she bent to pull the pants from her body. Max's eyes traveled to her flat belly, then down a few inches. Liz reached out and touched his hair, causing him to look back up at her. She proceeded to step out of her panties.

Max's mouth was agape. He drew in a ragged breath. "Is it possible for a 17-year-old to have a heart attack?" he joked weakly.

Liz smiled lovingly down at him. She traced the curve of his cheek, of his jaw with her hand. Both of their smiles faded away as she traced his lips with her thumb. Max brought his hands up to her sides and she shuddered at their first contact in so many months. He planted a soft kiss against her stomach, wishing he could have held her during her crisis. He let his last tear of grief fall and vowed to put it behind him from now on. He kissed her belly button, then trailed slow, soft kisses all of the way up her body, between her breasts, to her mouth as he stood before her.

Liz's hands went to his waist and pulled his shirt upward. He had to break off his kiss to let her pull the shirt over his head. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he pulled her nude body against his bare chest and they both gasped. Max pulled away from her and caressed her face.

"You're so beautiful," he breathed.

Liz smiled and leaned in to kiss him again. She let out a surprised squeak when Max lifted her under the arms and pulled her legs around his waist.

As the tumbled onto the bed together, Max cradled her in his arms. "How could I ever be afraid to touch you?" he said in wonder. He slid his hand between her legs and met her gaze. "Is it safe?" he asked. "Are you healed?"

Liz nodded and dropped one of her hands down to meet his. There would be another time, another day, and another baby. When they were older, when they were prepared. But for now, she was in Max's arms once again, and they had some serious making up to do.


Part 3 | Index
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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