FanFic - Max/Liz
"Strong, Dangerous & Undeniable"
Part 10
by Destinee
Disclaimer: The characters belong to M. Metz, J. Katims, and The WB. I'm only gently leading them where I'd like them to go.
Summary: This story begins with the scene in MITC when Liz does her astral projection thing. It follows along with everything in the show up to that point, and goes on to explore Liz's powers, and to resolve the obstacles in the path of her being together with Max.
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: PG
Liz came through the swinging door of the Crashdown to find Max, Michael, Isabel, and Tess in their usual booth. Her face lit up, and she couldn't contain the broad smile that broke over her face as Max's dark eyes met hers. His answering smile was quickly subdued and he gave her a mild look of admonition.

Remembering suddenly that they were only supposed to be friends- close friends, she attempted to compose her expression into one of friendly greeting.

Approaching their table, she said, "Hi, guys."

Michael's nod coincided with Tess's brief greeting.

"Hi," Isabel returned hesitantly, as if uncertain of her reception.

Liz wanted to assure her that everything was fine between them, and smiled warmly at her. Max had explained to her last night that Isabel had only told him about the flashes of Future Max because she figured Liz had already told him. She didn't hold anything against Isabel for telling Max, and she hoped her friendly smile was enough to let her know that.

Isabel visibly relaxed and returned the smile.

Finally Liz's gaze rested on Max. His eyes were shining with admiration and gratitude on Isabel's behalf, and Liz could feel herself getting lost in the mysterious depths of them. His dark hair was wind-blown, he was wearing his black leather jacket over a bright blue t-shirt, and he looked positively kissable. She just loved Max in leather. A secret smile stole across her face, and Max's cheeks grew flushed in response.

Isabel cleared her throat, and they were abruptly pulled back into the world around them.

"Uh- hey, Liz," he returned her greeting belatedly.

"Hey, Max." She smiled at him, then glanced at the others to see if she and Max had blown their covers already .

Isabel was looking down at the table with a small smile, Tess was looking between Max and Liz with mild suspicion, and Michael returned her look with a speculative one of his own.

Trying to appear as innocent as possible, she asked, "Um, did you guys order anything?"

"We've eaten, thanks. We were just waiting for you," Max replied.

They had decided to meet here this morning, before heading out to the rock quarry to find out more about Liz's abilities. It was Sunday, and she and Michael both were off work today, since they'd worked yesterday.

Liz nodded. "Well, I'm ready, but we have to wait for Maria. I hope you don't mind that I asked her along, but she was a little disappointed about missing out on everything that happened yesterday. She wanted to come today and watch." As well as offer a little moral support, but Liz refrained from mentioning that.

Isabel answered, "We can always use an extra pair of eyes to help keep a look out for anyone who might accidentally come up on us while we' know. Right, guys?"

Max and Tess nodded in agreement, and all eyes turned questioningly toward Michael.

"What?" he asked. "It's fine. Whatever. "

Isabel and Max scooted down to make room for Liz to squeeze into the booth next to Max, and they settled in to wait for Maria.

Max and Tess had been filling them in on everything that had happened at the summit, and now they quietly began a discussion about Nicholas, and how he had managed to show up alive.

A few possible explanations were tossed about, and then talk slowly moved to the role Nicholas had played in the summit. After making the observation that he was obviously able to communicate with Khivar on their world, Max slid his foot over to gently nudge Liz's in friendly greeting. Hiding a smile, Liz responded by bumping the side of her foot up against his in a light kiss of shoe leather.

Isabel agreed with Max, telling them about the things Nicholas had said to her about Khivar when they'd been in Copper Summit. She began questioning them about everything they'd heard about Khivar, while sharing what she knew, and Max added his comments to Tess' as they answered intermittently. His expression was one of seeming absorption with the conversation, while underneath the table, Max's foot was toying affectionately with Liz's. Each part of his foot found its mate on hers and demonstrated its adoration, and she lovingly returned every stroke. Heels and ankles rubbed against each other amorously, toes brushed teasingly, and insteps slid together in a slow, breathless glide.

It was ridiculous for such small, odd caresses to be so exciting, Liz told herself, but her body had been deprived of Max's touch for far too long, and any opportunity to touch him now was a thrill. The secretiveness of their actions added to her exhileration. Their friends sat there within touching distance, completely oblivious to the intimicies Max's foot was committing upon Liz's.

Liz listened quietly as Tess mentioned something that Lonnie and Rath had told them about Khivar, and then they went on to talk about the Dupes and where they might have disappeared to. Occasionally Liz would insert a remark or question of her own, but most of her attention was focused on the make-out session that was afoot beneath the table. Boldly, she became the agressor, and proceeded on to the next base, seductively twining her lower leg around Max's so that her foot rested between both of his. Slipping her foot out of her loafer, she pushed up under the cuff of his pants with her sock-clad toes, and flirtatiously began stroking his ankle and calf.

Max glanced at her sideways with a roguish half-smile, and Liz peeked up at him through her lashes and allowed a tiny grin in return. She turned her head away to find Tess looking at them from her spot directly across the table, and froze. She knew Tess couldn't know what was going on under the table, unless she had some kind of x-ray vision they weren't aware of, but Liz suddenly became aware of how close together she and Max were sitting. The way their legs were tangled together had them practically glued to one another's sides.

Slowly, she began to edge away from him.

Max looked down at her in question as she pulled away, and followed her gaze across the table to catch Tess' stare. He tightened his legs around hers in a brief hugging motion, then allowed Liz to move away. Tess watched them for a moment more, before Isabel claimed her attention with a question.

Liz hugged the end of the bench seat, and shook with reaction. Her heart pounded heavily, and she silently berated herself for acting so carelessly in front of Tess. While she and Max had been acting so playfully, she'd allowed herself to forget for a few minutes about what hung in the balance here. But she couldn't allow herself that luxury. They had to watch every move they made. Too much depended on it.

Wanting to be alone for a few minutes, Liz told the others that she was going to go to the back to make a quick phone call to check on Maria, then made her escape.

When she reached the break room she dropped down on to the couch, and leaned her head back to stare at the ceiling. Taking deep breaths, she forced herself not to think about Tess and Max and the end of the world, and after a short while, she felt somewhat steadier.

Before heading back out, she picked up the phone to try Maria's house. Receiving no answer, she hung up, and turned just in time to see Max slipping in through the swinging door.

Her calm quickly fled.

"Max! What are you doing?" she hissed with distress. "You're going to give us away!"

"No one saw me," he assured her, "I told them I was going to the bathroom."

"Well, it's going to look suspicious. I should get back out there," she said, moving quickly towards the doors.

Max caught her by the wrist, and said, "Liz, wait. Please? A few more minutes isn't going to hurt anything."

He pulled her around to stand in front of him, then lifted a hand to curl around the side of her neck, and gently tilted her face up towards his with a thumb underneath her jaw.

"Talk to me," he said imploringly, his amber eyes full of entreaty.

Liz gave in with a sigh.

"I just got scared, that's all. Did you see the way she was looking at us?" She looked up at him with worried eyes. "We aren't being careful enough about this, Max. I mean, she was sitting not two feet in front of us, and there we were playing footsie underneath the table! What were we thinking?"

"We were thinking it's been over six months since we've been able to touch each other, it's been 16 hours since we last saw each other, and we didn't get to kiss each other hello like we wanted to, so we settled for what we could." His tone was soothing, and his half-smile attempted to coax an answering smile from her.

The corner of her lip lifted in acknowledgement of the truth of his words, but her eyes remained sober.

"We can't afford to think like that, though, Max, or this will never work." Her gaze dropped down to his chest, and she began to play with the open edge of his jacket. "I know it's probably not the greatest idea we ever had, but I really, really want this to work." Her fingers slid just underneath the leather of his jacket, and absently began to stroke up and down his chest, along the edge of the coat. "That's why I think we'd better set some rules."

Max's eyes focused on the movements of her hands on his chest, and he took an unsteady breath. Distractedly, he asked, "What kind of rules?"

"You, touching and stuff," Liz answered with bemusement.

She was quickly becoming diverted from the subject of their conversation by the feel of the hard muscles of his chest underneath the soft cotton of his t-shirt. An image of him as he'd looked in his room that night she'd interrupted him when he was doing pull-ups suddenly flashed in her mind. She'd only seen Max without his shirt a handful of times, and the beauty of his bare chest had never failed to take her breath away each and every time. She flattened her palm against the giving firmness of his pec, and slid against it exploringly. She licked her lips, and looked at his chest raptly, as though she could see the bronzed muscles from her memory through his shirt.

"Liz," he said with a husky voice.

She slowly dragged her eyes up to his.

"I think I need that hello kiss now," he told her.

She silently nodded her head in agreement.

He still had one hand wrapped around the side of her neck, and he used it now to pull her forward to meet his kiss. His mouth hovered over hers for a teasing second, making her yearn to have it on hers, before leaning down to softly lay claim to her lips. The warm slide of his lips against hers sent sweet sensations stealing throughout her body, and every concern she'd had just moments ago, vanished like the mist. His tongue stole out to brush teasingly against her lower lip, then boldly entered the hot cavern of her mouth to taste of its sweetness. When it pulled away to return to its home, hers eagerly followed to explore the familiar taste and texture of his mouth. He changed the angle of the kiss, and his thumb stroked her cheek caressingly, while his mouth continued to tenderly devour hers.

The startling sound of dishes clattering loudly together brought Liz jolting back to earth, and she reluctantly pushed against his chest, and tore her lips from his.

"Max!" she gasped. "W-we have to stop! Someone could see."

Breathing heavily, he grudgingly let her push away. He rested his forehead against hers as they tried to get their racing hearts under control.

After several moments, he swallowed and said, "I'm sorry. I forgot for a second where we were. You're right, anyone could catch us back here." He pulled in a deep breath, and took a slow step back.

Liz couldn't let him go completely, and clutched the edges of his jacket in her fists to keep him from moving too far away.

He smiled wryly, and said, "Those rules you were talking about is probably a good idea, but I don't think we have time to discuss them right now."

Liz nodded, and unwillingly slid her hands free from his jacket. "Yeah, one of us should probably get back out there. We've been gone way too long."

"I'll go in just a minute," he offered. "I need to tell you something, first. I thought you should probably know that Isabel knows about us. I mean, about Tess, and the future and everything."

She looked up at him, and he shrugged apologetically. "She just wouldn't let it go until I told her everything."

Liz nodded in acceptance. "I was pretty sure it would be hard to keep it from her. There was so much of it she knew already, I knew you'd have to explain it somehow. It's going to be really hard to lie to Maria, too. She already knows the whole story about the Max from the future. I told her last night that you and I had a long talk and we've decided to be friends, but I'm not sure how long she'll be satisfied with that."

With a nod of understanding, Max said, "We can trust them, Liz. They won't say anything."

"Yeah, I know. It'll actually be a relief to have two less people to hide this from. So far, I'd have to say that when it comes to you and me, we pretty much stink at subterfuge," she said drily.

Max grinned. "I guess I'd have to agree. But, it's only the first day. We'll get better, okay?"

He moved in close to give her a brief peck on the lips, then said, "I'd better get out there. You should probably go wash your face or something. If they saw you looking the way you do right now, I think it would be pretty obvious what's been going on back here."

Liz made a face. "Alright. I'll be out in a sec."

They turned to go in opposite directions, and after taking only a few steps, Liz turned around and called, "Hey."

Max turned to look at her inquisitively.

"I love you."

His expression softened, and his lips turned up in a beautiful heart-stopping smile.

"I love you, too," he replied.

With one last lingering look, they slowly turned away from each other.

When Max returned to their table he was met with looks of mild curiosity from the three sitting there.

"Didja fall in?" Michael asked caustically.

Max met his eyes, then looked away. "Oh. Uh, it was out of order, so I had to use the one upstairs in Liz's apartment."

The explanation seemed to satisfy everyone but Isabel, who looked at him with a twinkle in her eye.

"So where's Liz? And what's the hold-up with Maria?"

Max was saved from answering Tess' question by Liz's appearance at the swinging door. When she was half-way to their table, the bell over the front doors jingled, and everyone turned to see Maria entering the cafe.

"Hey, guys. Sorry I'm late," she said as she shuffled towards their table, then continued on past it toward the kitchen. "Just gotta get some coffee." They could hear her continue to mumble something about Reveille at the crack of dawn and Czechoslovakian calisthenics as she rounded the counter to pour herself some coffee.

They exchanged glances with one another.

Arching a brow, Isabel said, "It's after ten o'clock."

"Yeah, well, Maria's not exactly what you'd call a morning person," Michael said dryly, shaking his head.

They waited for Maria, then everyone piled into the jeep and the Jetta. Liz rode with Maria, and once she'd gotten her jolt of caffeine, she filled Liz in on the gory details of her mom's date the night before. Maria had waited up for her until 3 a.m. and was not happy with the way things seemed to be headed with Amy and 'Jim'.

"Can you even imagine having Kyle Valenti for a stepbrother?" she asked in mid-rant. "I mean, I like Kyle, but living in the same house with him? No," she shook her head firmly. "My life would be changed irrevocably. Even just doing the laundry with them living there would become something that could scar me for life. Do you know how much it could damage my psyche to know what kind of underwear Kyle wears? Not to even mention the sheriff." She shuddered dramatically. "Living with the two of them until I turn 18 and can legally escape does not sound like a good time. And you know what else occurred to me at exactly 2:13 a.m. as I contemplated the joy that would be my life if the DeLuccas joined the Valentis in holy matrimony?" She didn't wait for an answer, but forged ahead. "Tess is staying with them! She'd probably like, come along as part of the deal! I cannot live with Tess, Liz! I would just- I'd have to come live with you. Do you think your parents would adopt me?"

Liz smiled and shook her head. "Maria, calm down, okay? It was one date. I'm sure things can't be nearly as serious as all that."

"No, my mom really likes him, Liz. I can tell. She like, gets all giddy just talking about him."

"Well," Liz shrugged philosophically, "your eighteenth birthday isn't really all that far away. And, you know, Kyle is into Buddhism now, he could probably help you reach your inner peace. Just think. You'd never need your cedar oils again," she said, smiling impishly.

Shaking her head, Maria said, "Okay, clearly I have come to the wrong person for sympathy over Kyle Valenti."

"Kyle's a really good guy, Maria. A true friend. You could do worse for a brother. And as for Tess...okay, yeah, that would be really...hard. But look on the bright side. It might be kinda nice to have someone with Czech power around all the time. I mean, surely you can think of some advantages to having her Tess-o-vision at your constant disposal."

"Yeah, like she'd ever use it to do me a favor," Maria muttered.

"Well, you two could like, bond. She could become like the sister you never had," she returned, tongue-in-cheek.

Maria shot Liz a dirty look.

"I always thought you were like the sister I never had, but after this little conversation I'm beginning to rethink that whole issue."

Liz laughed. "I'm sorry. It's just- I think you're worrying prematurely, okay? I mean, even if your mom does marry the sheriff, who has turned out to be a really good guy too by the way, it's probably not going to happen any time soon. You, Kyle, and Tess could be 18 before it ever happens. And your mom's happiness is the most important thing here, right?"

Maria nodded reluctantly. "You're right. I know you're right. But just ask your parents about the adoption thing, okay? Just in case."

Liz grinned.

They reached the quarry, and everyone got out and gathered around. Maria and Liz followed the others to a hidden cove down by the water. Enclosed on three sides by a steep bank of unmined rock, it was very secluded, and could only be seen if someone were standing directly on the edge of the top of the bank. The fourth side opened onto a wide expanse of water, with the added advantage of giving an unobstructed view of the entrance of the quarry, which was the only way to get inside by car. One person sitting at the top of the bank could easily spot anyone who might wander in on them.

They all instinctively looked to Max to take charge of the practice session, and he slipped into the leadership role smoothly, saying, "We're here because we want to try and find out what Liz is able to do, but the rest of us can always use the extra practice on our own powers. I thought we could kind of take turns working with Liz, and find out for sure if she's only able to go through us and use our gifts, or if she can do something that's unique to one of us while connected to someone who doesn't really have that ability. And if she's up to it, we could also see if she can do things on her own, like manipulate molecular structure."

Max looked at Liz. "We already know you're capable of doing what Isabel, Michael, and I can do. Today why don't you start with Tess, and see if you can do her mind warp?"

Liz and Tess looked at each other warily.

Part 9 | Index | Part 11
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