Fanfic - Max/Liz
"Strong, Dangerous, and Undeniable"
Part 26
by Destinee
Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, but thanks to Ms. Metz, Mr. Katims, and the WB for letting us play.
Summary: This story begins with the scene in MITC when Liz does her astral projection thing. It follows along with everything in the show, except the final scene in MITC in Liz's room never takes place.
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: PG
As Liz trudged back across the street to the Crashdown, her feet felt weighed down with a hundred pounds of reluctance. She so didn't want to do this right now. Never would really be a much better time for her.

She tried to come up with the words she was going to say to Maria, but her thoughts seemed heavy with dread, and the look on Max's face when she'd told him took up all her brain space. She'd already hurt the most important person in her life today, she didn't want to hurt the second most important person, too.

She wondered what Michael had told Maria. He'd undoubtedly had to tell her something. She couldn't imagine Maria settling for the half-truths they'd been giving her after the way her best friend had run from the cafe as though all the demons of hell were on her heels.

Liz sighed tiredly. She'd made such a mess of things.

Her stomach was churning as she reached the entrance of the restaurant, and she had to force herself to cross over the threshold...and was met practically inside the door by her mother.

"Lizzie, honey, are you alright?" she asked, coming up to take hold of Liz by the upper arms. "You look so pale," she said fretfully, and placed a palm on Liz's forehead as though checking for a temperature.

Liz just looked at her in perplexity. How could her mom possibly know how crummy she felt right now? Was her radar kicked into overdrive, or what?

"Maria told us you weren't feeling well and you had to go outside for some air. You should have told us you were sick, Liz. I know we're short-handed, but your dad and I can handle the restaurant. I want you to go upstairs and get into bed, okay? We've been pushing you too hard this week. I'm going to take over some of your hours until we can find a new waitress, so don't worry about things down here. You just go get some rest and I'll come up to check on you later, hmm?"

A little bewildered at this sudden turn of events, Liz felt compelled to admit, "Mom, I'm not really sick."

But as she looked around at the crowded restaurant she had to admit she didn't exactly feel well, either. It had gotten busy in her absence, and the thought of dealing with all these people had her trembling weakly with exhaustion. It was after 6:00 on a Friday night and it probably wouldn't slow down for hours. Another waitress had come on duty while she was gone, and the customers were keeping her and Maria hopping from one table to the next. This really wasn't the time or place to try and have a serious alien discussion with Maria anyway, Liz told herself. What would it hurt if she went upstairs to regroup for a little while before coming back to face this thing with her?

Feeling like a complete coward, Liz took the easy out her mom was offering.

"I guess I'm just...kind of exhausted, you know? It's- been a really tough week."

"I know, honey. I'm sorry we didn't realize we were over-working you. Just go get some sleep, alright?"

Guiltily, she asked, "Are you sure, Mom? It's pretty busy."

"Yes, I'm sure. Go," she said, giving her daughter a gentle push towards the back.

Liz turned to give her a quick peck on the cheek, saying, "Thanks, Mom."

On her way to the back, she passed by Maria, and touched her on the arm. "Can I talk to you for a second?"

Maria set two plates down on a table in front of the men sitting there with a quick, "Enjoy your meal," then followed Liz to the swinging door.

"Thanks for covering for me with my mom," Liz said in a hushed voice.

"No problem," Maria answered. "Are you okay? You look kinda pale."

Liz's lips twisted wryly. "Yeah. So I've heard. I'm just really tired, that's all. My mom's taking over my shift tonight and she told me to go get some rest."

"That's probably not a bad idea, Lizzie. You look like you could use it," she said with concern. Liz really did look stressed out. She was dying of curiosity to find out what had made her friend flip out the way she had earlier, but now was hardly the time.

"Yeah. Listen, Maria, I know that we really need to talk--"

"Don't worry about it, Liz," she interrupted. "We probably wouldn't get a chance to talk in the middle of all this, anyway," she said, gesturing towards the busy cafe. "You should just go get some rest like your mom said. We'll talk later, okay?"

Grateful tears stung her eyes at Maria's generosity. "Yeah, definitely," she agreed. Giving the other girl's arm a squeeze, Liz said, "Thanks, Maria."

Maria returned the gesture, saying, "Sure, babe. Now, go rest."

Nodding, Liz turned to go through the door to the back, amazed that Maria was being so calm and rational. Was it possible that Michael still hadn't told her what was going on? She glanced into the kitchen as she passed by the door. Her dad was helping Michael at the grill, so there would be no finding out about it now. She'd just go upstairs and rest for a few hours, then she'd come back down after closing so the three of them could talk.

That decision made, she went up to her room and changed out of her uniform, then fell into bed with a grateful sigh. As she lay her head wearily on her pillow and settled herself in for a nap, the picture of Max's face played upon her closed eyelids. His expression when she'd told him the news about the connection continued to haunt her.

He'd looked so hurt and bewildered that just thinking about it caused a squeezing sensation in her chest. It almost reminded her of the way he'd looked when he'd seen her and Kyle in bed together, she thought with a stab of pained regret. Although this whole thing was involuntary on her and Michael's part, and it seemed to be something beyond all their control, it still felt like just as much a betrayal as 'sleeping' with Kyle had been.

It tore her up to know that she was causing Max pain like this again. He'd seemed to put his hurt behind him quickly enough tonight, but she knew now that he'd only done that for her sake, and it made her feel guilty that he'd had to put his own feelings on hold in order to be strong for her.

Even though it hadn't been more than twenty minutes ago that she'd seen him, she felt a sudden need to talk to him. To hold him and make sure he was alright, to just be there for him the way he'd been there for her tonight.

But she told herself that he was working and she couldn't interrupt him again or she might get him into trouble. She'd call him tonight after she and Michael had talked to Maria.

Though her mind was still whirling, and her heart was heavy, her body was physically and emotionally spent, and she soon fell asleep thinking about how she might make all this up to Max.


Michael flipped the last chair over to rest atop the table, then grabbed the broom to begin sweeping up, thankful this long night was over. The only good thing that had come of it was that he'd been granted his reprieve after all.

As he swept his way behind the counter, he thought about his earlier conversation with Maria, and he knew that even though he'd been trying to prepare her, she still had no clue about what was coming.

When she'd dragged him back to the kitchen after Liz had left, she'd crossed her arms and demanded to know what he'd done to upset Liz so much.

"I just said something to her that I shouldn't have," he'd said evasively.

Shaking her head, she'd said, "That's not good enough, Michael. I want some answers. Some real answers. Liz was really upset, and I'm not gonna let you put me off this time. I want to know why."

Giving in with a sigh, he'd said, "Fine. But I need to start at the beginning, okay?"

"Start wherever you want, just as long as you give me the whole story this time."

He'd rubbed his eyebrow nervously, then said, "Well, you were there the day we did the energy blast. You know we found out we have some kind of weird connection that day. When we connect, and our energy comes together, I don't know, it's like...magnets or something. Her energy just comes rushing at mine, and when they meet..." he shook his head, "It's crazy, Maria, but when they come together, it feels- complete. Like my power is more complete when we're connected."

He'd looked at her intently to gauge her reaction, but she'd simply frowned a little as she'd taken that in, then prompted, "Go on."

"When we connect...for some reason, it's different than when she connects to the others."

"Different how?"

"For one's more unpredictable. I don't know if it's because of the energy thing or what, but we never know what to expect when we make a connection. It's just- completely out of our control. Like before Liz ran out, I burned my hand on the grill. I was gonna try to heal it, and then Liz looked at me...and the next thing we know, we're connected and she's helpin' me heal it. It had been the furthest thing from her mind, Maria- helping me to do that, but it's like it's...involuntary, you know?"

"And that's why Liz got so upset?" she'd asked.

He'd been able to tell from her expression that she thought it would take something more than that to make Liz come so unhinged.

"That had something to do with it, yeah," he'd stalled.

When he hadn't said anything else, Maria had sighed impatiently and said, "Well? Tell me the rest of it. What is it you haven't been telling me, Michael?"

The question had loomed large between them, seeming to swell with importance the longer it sat there unanswered, and the cafe had grown quiet and still, as though everyone were waiting to hear what he had to say. He'd shifted uncomfortably, wishing he were somewhere else. Wishing he didn't have to do this to her.

And then his wish had come true, as the bell over the front door had jingled, signaling the entrance of new customers. And as they were the only two working, Maria had had to go take care of them.

The term saved by the bell had gained new significance for him.

Those customers had been only the first of a steady stream of them to come wandering in, and soon the two of them had become too busy to talk anymore. It hadn't been long after that that the Parkers had come to check on things, and had stayed to help. Once they were there, he and Maria hadn't had any privacy to take up their conversation again.

He'd known his moment of reckoning would come once it was closing time, and he'd been looking toward the moment with dread, but help had arrived in the form of Amy DeLuca and Sheriff Valenti.

They'd come in near the end of the night for coffee and pie, and Maria had nearly gone ballistic over their 'disgusting displays of affection'. Michael hadn't seen them do anything all that demonstrative himself, but Maria was really freaking over that whole thing.

Amy had asked Maria about her plans when she got off work, telling her that Jim was taking her home, and hinting that they'd like to be alone. Maria had promptly left to follow them home, telling Michael that she'd be traumatized for life if she thought they were doin' the nasty underneath her very own roof, and she was going to go chaperone and make sure the good sheriff made it home to his own bed, at a decent hour for once.

She'd left Michael to close the restaurant alone, and the last words out of her mouth had been, "Don't think this lets you off the hook, Spaceboy. We're gonna talk later."

He wasn't sure exactly what she'd meant by 'later'. Had she meant like, tomorrow 'later', or later 'later'? Like she'd call him later tonight, or maybe even come by his apartment if she got done babysitting early enough.

In case she might've meant later 'later', he was planning on just not being home. Now that he'd been granted a final reprieve, he selfishly wanted to hang on to it as long as he could. He knew it didn't say much for his status as a warrior that he was afraid of a confrontation with one small human female, but Maria DeLuca was no ordinary female. She was a force to be reckoned with.

As Michael got through in front, he went back to the kitchen to finish up the dishes that were piled in the sink.

Maria was probably going to be pissed that they'd kept this from her, he thought, as he stacked each newly-washed container on the sideboard of the sink, but he'd much rather she be pissed at him than be hurt over this whole thing. He knew there'd be no getting around that, though. She was going to be hurt.

Ever since that night last December when he'd given in to his feelings, and had come to find her here alone at the Crashdown, he'd worried that something from the alien part of him would end up hurting her somehow. This situation wasn't anything he ever would've imagined, but still, it seemed as though he'd been right.

Something inside him connected him to Liz. And they could both deny it till they were blue in the face, but this connection was deep. He'd never imagined having such a strong link with someone.

It was scary. It was unwanted. It was...intriguing.

They were actually capable of communicating their thoughts to one another. Like mental telepathy or something. It was like something out of a science-fiction novel. He'd never dreamed that this was one of their capabilities, and it never had been before. But now it was. For him and Liz.

It just didn't make any sense! How could he do something with a human that he couldn't even do with Max and Isabel? And why was Liz able to do this with him and not with Max, who had been the one to change her? What was it that connected them like this?

It was the same old questions, and he played the whole situation over in his head, trying to come up with some answers this time, as he finished up the task of closing.

Lifting his apron off over his head, Michael walked contemplatively to the front doors, flipping off the lights as he went. Locking the doors behind him, he turned to walk away from the restaurant, wondering for the second time tonight what Max might be thinking about all this.


Trying not to think, Max concentrated on the pull of his muscles as he steadily lifted and lowered himself from the bar lodged in his doorway, an attempt to exhaust himself so he could get some sleep. It was after midnight and he had to get up early in the morning to go to work, but he just couldn't get his brain to shut down.

This connection between Liz and Michael really had him unsettled. It left him feeling somehow unsure of things, and he hated it.

He'd always thought that no one would ever know Liz as well as he did, and it disturbed him to find out he was wrong. To his resentful mind, it seemed like Michael had complete access to everything inside her, while he was restricted to brief flashes. And as if that weren't enough, they were also capable of some deep, mysterious form of communication that he was denied. Knowing everything their connection allowed them to do seemed to lessen his own connection with Liz, and he hated himself for thinking that way.

He just couldn't understand why this was happening! What was it that Michael had that was suddenly allowing him all these privileges with Liz, and why was it lacking in himself? The abilities she had now had only come into existence because of something he'd done to change her, so why would those abilities respond more favorably to Michael, while excluding the one who'd played a part in creating them? The whole thing just didn't make any sense.

And he didn't know how they were ever going to find the answers they all needed.

Max ignored the burning sensation in his arms, grimly pushing himself until his trembling muscles couldn't take anymore, then he lowered his feet to the floor and wearily stumbled over to the bed, dropping down upon it with a deep sigh.

His exertions had succeeded in tiring out his body, but his thoughts still spun with troubled confusion.

Why did all this have to happen now, just when he and Liz had finally gotten everything straightened out between them and had a possibility of a future together? It was bitterly ironic that if this thing were happening between him and Liz, it would be bringing them closer together than they'd ever been before, and helping them to bond at a time when they could really use the reassurance that they belonged together and nothing would ever come between them. Instead, it was happening with Michael, who hated it, was fighting it with everything he had, and would wish it all away in a heartbeat.

But when Michael did finally come to accept this connection, which he would have to do sooner or later, Max was afraid it would become even harder to deal with himself. Their connection opened up an opportunity for Liz and Michael to become close. Really close. And Max felt certain it would be hard not to be envious if that happened.

He was going to have to be careful to see that he didn't allow this to come between him and Liz, Max thought, punching his pillow and rolling over onto his stomach. They already had enough obstacles to overcome, they didn't need his jealousy putting a strain on their relationship.

He'd just have to remember how much Liz needed him. She seemed to be having a pretty hard time dealing with all this.

He wished he could've seen her, held her one more time tonight before he'd come home. He'd stopped by the Crashdown when he'd gotten off work, but Maria had told him she'd just been up to check on Liz, and she'd been sound asleep. He was glad to learn that she hadn't had to go back to work. She really hadn't seemed up to it the last time he'd seen her.

He'd see her tomorrow, he thought, finally drifting toward sleep. Maybe they could take their lunch hour together. It would give them a chance to talk, and maybe even take advantage of Rule #23.

He fell asleep with a small smile on his lips.


Liz was startled awake by a sound from her balcony.

It had sounded like the scraping of her lawnchair across the cement, she thought, her heart pounding heavily with fright. Someone had covered her up while she'd been sleeping, and her hands gripped the blanket fearfully now, as she strained her ears for any further sounds from outside.

Had she been dreaming, or was someone really out there? Was it their watcher? Would he have climbed right up onto her balcony? Had he come for her?

Each subsequent thought heightened her fear, and she told herself sternly to stop it. She was working herself up into hysteria.

Her heart in her throat, she tentatively opened her eyes to a slit, and peered through the darkness to her moonlit balcony, her mind cringing with the expectation of seeing a face in the window peering back at her.

But there was no one there.

Her eyes slid shut and her breath escaped her in a sighing rush. Silently, she had a brief argument with herself.

It had probably just been her imagination. But if someone was out there, she couldn't just lie here meekly and wait for them to come get her. And she couldn't allow her parents to be placed in any danger.

That thought spurred her to action, and she slowly climbed from the bed. As her heart pumped the chill of fear throughout her body, she frantically scanned the darkened room for something that could be used as a weapon, and despaired when she found nothing. Why wasn't she more athletic, she wondered with panicked dismay. The first thing she was gonna do tomorrow was go out and buy herself a good, stout baseball bat.

As she stood there in momentary indecision, she felt the sudden instinctive rushing of her energy, as it pulled together at her center and geared itself up for...what? Defense? Was she capable of doing something on her own to defend herself, she wondered. Was it possible that she could do the energy blast without Michael? She was extremely distressed that they'd never taken the time to find that out. That was the second thing she was gonna do tomorrow, she promised herself.

Forcing her reluctant feet to move, she began to creep towards the window, her heart knocking against her ribs. If her instincts knew to make her energy ready to be used defensively, hopefully she could rely on them to let her know what to do if she actually had to use it for that. When she got to the window, she timidly put her face up to the glass and peered out.

She couldn't see her lawnchair from here.

Taking a deep breath for courage, she silently raised the window, then eased her head part-way out its opening. Moonlight fell on the portion of the balcony directly outside the window, but both ends were secluded in shadows, and she couldn't make anything out in their dark corners. She still couldn't see the lawnchair, which meant that it had definitely been moved from the spot where she'd last left it. At that realization, she jerked her head sharply back inside the window.

She tried to control her panic and think rationally about what she should do. It was better to be on the offensive than it was to be on the defensive, right? The silent hum of her energy was a comforting answer, and it gave her a small surge of confidence. Without giving herself a chance to think twice, she stealthily climbed out the window.

The cold concrete of the balcony's floor quickly chilled the bottoms of her feet, as she stood uncertainly, looking from one darkened corner to another. She still could see nothing, and she felt uneasy at the thought of just walking blindly into their darkness. She bit her lip to stifle her ragged breathing and lifted her hand slightly in front of her, palm facing outward, then turned to the right and took a hesitant step toward the corner nearest her.

Suddenly, her instincts screamed at her to look behind her!

She began to whirl around, her breath coming in sharply and her mouth open to scream, when a strong arm wrapped itself around her waist, jerking her back against a hard male body, and a hand clamped over her mouth.

MAX! her mind screamed in blind terror.

But it had already been established that she and Max weren't capable of silent communication, and Liz's blood ran cold as she realized there was no one who could help her now.

Part 25 | Index | Part 27
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