Fanfic - Max/Liz
"Strong, Dangerous, and Undeniable"
Part 34
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
Disoriented at the interruption, Liz came plummeting to earth with a thud when she was finally able to process what was happening, and she cringed with embarrassment at her state of undress in front of Michael. Her legs fell abruptly from Max's hips, and she ducked behind him clutching the sides of her sweater together. Max darted a quick glance down at her and moved to shield her protectively with his body.

"Close the door, Michael," he demanded tightly, still breathing heavily from their intimacies.

Michael stepped into the room, then shut the door forcefully behind him. He scowled at the utter darkness inside. Guess they hadn't needed any light for what they were doing, he thought venomously. He felt like a complete idiot for worrying that something was wrong, and rushing around to find them, only to discover them doing this.

Lifting his palm toward the ceiling, he released a burst of energy to bring the overhead lights blazing to life, and they all squinted at the sudden brilliance. Once his eyes had adjusted to the light, Michael took in the scene before him, then quickly looked away. Acid began churning in his gut at the realization of how dangerously far things had been going between them, and he felt a sudden blind, unreasoning anger toward Max.

"Sorry to break up the party," he said, sounding anything but.

Liz made a small sound of distress as the lights came on in the room, and she frantically fumbled with the buttons of her sweater. Max laid a hand on her arm in comfort, then turned his head to glare at Michael, the intensity of his emotions changing instantly from blazing desire to frustrated fury.

"I meant close the door on your way out. What are you doing here, Michael?" Max asked curtly.

"I've been sittin' in that game room feelin' like a ticking time-bomb for the past half hour," he said accusingly. "When I finally figured out it was because of Liz's energy, I got this ridiculous idea you might be in trouble," he finished caustically.

"What kind of trouble did you think we could be in when you found us in a dark room with the door locked?" Max bit out, the reminder of their connection only serving to fan his anger. He was uncomfortable and indignant at the knowledge that it had somehow allowed Michael to tune in to what they were doing.

Michael wasn't about to admit that in his headlong rush into the room, he hadn't even noticed the fact that it had been dark. The strength of Liz's surging energy had called his up to such an alarming level that it had had his adrenaline pumping while he'd searched the complex for them. Once he'd pinpointed the room he thought they were in, he'd only paused for a brief listen at the door for any sign of trouble before rushing in. The music blaring from the club had been too loud for him to hear anything, so he'd burst in prepared for the worst.

"Well, what was I supposed to think?" Michael asked harshly in defensiveness. "Her energy level was shooting through the roof. If you didn't want your play-time interrupted, someone should've warned me sex had this effect on Liz."

Max flushed an angry red. "Shut up, Michael. We were not having sex."

"You may not have been doing the deed yet, Max, but from the looks of things you were headed there pretty fast" he charged sharply. "What would've happened if I hadn't come in when I did?" he demanded.

Guiltily admitting that there was some truth to his words, Max had a sudden attack of conscience for letting things get so out of hand. Especially in such an inappropriate place. He'd completely lost sight of where they were. Heck, he would've been hard-pressed to tell anyone his own name a few minutes ago, much less the general vicinity of space he and Liz were occupying. But regardless of how right Michael was, to stand here and listen to him criticize them for lack of self-control was simply too much. This, coming from the most impulsive, unrestrained person Max knew.

"Whatever might have happened between me and Liz is really none of your business, Michael. Connection or not," Max said raspingly, his tone hard. "I'm sorry if you were worried, but you've saved us from ourselves now, so why don't you just go back to the game room. We'll meet you there."

Michael crossed his arms over his chest, his stance proclaiming clearly that he wasn't moving. "Sorry, Maxwell, but I don't think I can consider you 'safe from yourselves' until you've left this room with me," he said with an expression of reproach.

Insulted and outraged by his entire attitude, Max's hand curled into a fist at his side. With the heated emotions coursing through him, the impulse to do violence was strong, and he struggled to contain himself. He didn't know who Michael thought he was, but it was very clear that some things needed to be set straight.

"Look, Michael," he began warningly, his jaw tight.

"Would you two please just stop?" Liz interrupted, her voice shaky and pleading.

They both turned their attention sharply toward her at hearing the distress in her tone, but Michael immediately averted his eyes when he realized her sweater still wasn't buttoned. He couldn't really see anything behind Max except her elbows as she worked on fastening her top, but he wasn't going to chance getting a glimpse of anything he shouldn't. This whole situation made him feel deeply disturbed, and he honestly felt like punching Max's lights out. Although, for the life of him he couldn't figure out why it should matter to him what they did behind closed doors. It never had before. He had to assure himself for the second time in as many days that this was not a jealousy thing, but the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach was hard to argue against.

Liz and Max were still connected, presumably through his touch on her arm, and as Max shifted his focus to her, he realized that his wasn't the only turmoil he was feeling. Her face was hidden behind the curtain of her hair as she bent her head toward the task of buttoning her top, but she was trembling so badly her fingers were fumbling ineffectually with the small pearl studs. There was an incredible amount of unspent energy seething within her, and Max could actually feel the heat of it radiating off her skin. His brows furrowed with concern. He didn't know if she just hadn't had time to deal with it in her hurry to make herself decent, or if she was so flustered she couldn't get a handle on it. Either way, he was sure that the roiling violence of his anger was only adding to the turbulence inside her. He felt a stab of self-reproach for being so involved in his ridiculous male posturing with Michael that he'd failed to realize what was happening with her.

Tears of frustration blurred her sight as Liz struggled with her stupid buttons. She was beyond humiliated at being found in this state. By Michael of all people. Who, of course, couldn't be at all tactful and leave them alone for a minute, but had to stir things up and make them worse by being all belligerent and reproving. It didn't help to know that he was right, and she shared Max's feeling of guilt for letting things get so out of control between them.

She chewed on her lip as raw energy simmered within her, setting her so on edge she felt like screaming. She'd attempted to pull it in, but she just couldn't seem to find an end to it. The more she tried to pull in, the more there seemed to be of it. She knew part of the reason for that was because Max's energy seemed to be stoking it somehow, as the upheaval of his emotions flowed in through their connection. She could also feel a slight tugging from Michael's direction, and she feared she might never be able to call all this down if their energy was making it grow.

Max could feel her apprehension, and his head tilted down to see her face while his hands came up to cup the sides of her head, then they smoothed over the flow of her hair to her upper arms. Chafing them soothingly, he murmured huskily, "It'll be okay, Liz. We just have to calm down, that's all." His eyes dropped down to the clumsy movements of her fingers, and he gently pushed her hands out of the way to take over the task of buttoning her sweater himself. "You should've said something sooner. I'm sorry I wasn't paying attention."

With nothing to occupy themselves, her hands curled around the edge of the table on either side of her thighs and held on with a white-knuckled grip. Her body rocked back and forth restively as her energy churned disturbingly within her. She tried to do as Max said, to calm down and dissolve the seething power, but she couldn't block out her discomfort enough to concentrate. She felt as if she had a live electrical current running through her, one that was sending fine vibrations throughout her every extremity. Her body was just one enormous throbbing ache. Partly from unfulfilled desire, partly from the huge mass of unused energy, and the havoc it was creating was impossible to ignore.

Max was aware of the struggle she was having, and he tried to help by getting his own emotions under control. But that was really difficult to do when he ached with frustration and he could still feel Michael's annoying presence at his back. He knew he should just break his connection with Liz, but it seemed to be the strength of their emotions rather than physical contact that was keeping them connected, because he wasn't touching anything more than her sweater.

Max frowned at the force of her shudders, and as soon as he'd finished fastening her buttons, he brought his hands up to gently cup her face. As he lifted it up toward his, the look of helpless distress he found there tore at his heart. He wanted to give her a soft kiss to soothe her, but his blood was still running so hot he was afraid a kiss between them now would be anything but soothing. He settled for lowering his forehead to hers, and he tenderly brushed the hollows of her cheeks with his thumbs.

"Just take a few deep breaths and try to relax," he said quietly, the huskiness of his voice wrapping around her like velvet.

Taking his own advice, he pulled in a calming breath, and tried to keep his body from reacting to her continued nearness by staying focused on the difficulty she was having.

While Max continued to murmur low and soothingly to Liz, Michael grit his teeth behind them as he fought to keep his energy from answering to the call of hers. This was exactly how it had felt in the game room earlier, like his powers were trying to gear up for action. When it had first started happening he'd been completely bewildered. His energy had never pulled together without conscious thought like that before. It had put him on the alert, wondering if there was an enemy present that his powers were somehow reacting instinctively to. He'd been a little worried about Max and Liz then, but he'd gotten it from Isabel that they'd gone somewhere to be alone, and he'd trusted Max to be able to look out for himself. For at least 20 minutes he'd tried to act normal in front of the others while unobtrusively keeping watch, and battling constantly against the charging of his energy. It had been a low constant hum inside of him that had set his teeth on edge, and he'd had to push it down time and again. Then suddenly it had flared up full at the ready, instantly attaining a strength that had reminded him alot of the day he and Liz had done the energy blast. As soon as that thought had crossed his mind he'd known he was reacting to Liz's energy, and he'd instantly gone into panic mode, unable to imagine why she would be using her powers unless she was in trouble.

Of course, now he knew differently. Disgustedly, he wondered if he was going to have to go through this every time she and Max made out now.

Liz released a slow breath of relief, having finally gotten the mass of energy dissolved inside her.

"Okay now?" Max asked, lovingly brushing back her hair.

Liz gave him an adoring look of gratitude and nodded. "Thank you, Max," she said softly.

His lips tipped up slightly while he continued to stroke her hair. "You did all the work, Liz. I just had to stop making it harder for you," he replied, making a rueful face.

Liz was silent for a moment. Now that everything had calmed, she was sad to note she could no longer feel him inside. They'd been connected as often as not tonight, and she felt empty without his presence inside her.

"I miss you," she whispered, a tiny crease between her brows.

Max knew immediately what she meant. He was feeling the loss as well. Suddenly needing to hold her, he enfolded her in his strong arms.

"Me too," he rumbled softly in her ear. The warmth of her body against him threatened to raise his pulse again, but he curbed his body's involuntary response. This embrace was to fill an emotional need, and the sweet solace it brought was satisfying in its own right.

Rubbing his cheek against the smooth silk of her hair, Max said, "I'm sorry I let things get so out of control, Liz."

Laying her head on his shoulder, she gently stroked his back. "You weren't the only one in the room, Max. I'm just as much to blame," she said quietly. "Things did get pretty...intense. What was happening with our energy do you think?"

"Ahem!" Michael cleared his throat loudly, disgruntled that they'd become oblivious to his presence as they held each other lovingly and had a hushed conversation he was excluded from.

They stiffened, then glared at him over Max's shoulder, dismayed that they'd forgotten he was here, and annoyed he was interrupting again.

Ignoring their looks of aggravation, he reminded them, "So we're going to the game room now, right?"

Max and Liz exchanged a look of reluctance.

"Yes, Michael. We're going to the game room now," Max agreed without looking at him. To Liz, he said, "We can talk about it later."

Nodding, she ran a hand over Max's hair to smooth it into place, completely unwilling to stop touching him. It was going to be harder than ever now to go in there and pretend to be only friends.

"Are you sure this is still a good idea, Max? I mean, how much longer can we keep pretending like this?"

Max shook his head unhappily. "As long as we have to, I guess."

Liz sighed, knowing that nothing had changed, and they still had little choice in the matter. Biting the inside of her lip, she nodded with lowered lashes, then lifted her eyes to his while her lips curved upward sadly.

Max forced himself to move back so she could slide off the table, and made quick work of the buttons on his shirt. When he was done, he slid an arm around her back, and they moved to join an impatient Michael.

Leaving the room just as they'd found it, the three of them headed for the game room. As they neared the end of the empty hallway, Max hugged Liz briefly to his side, a gesture that would have to serve as their last act of intimacy until they got home tonight. Her fingers curled around a handful of his shirt, as she returned the hug. Reluctantly, their hands fell away from each other as they stepped out into the crowd.

Leaving the protective enclosure of the hall, the crush of people and the deafening music came as a slight shock to Max and Liz after being wrapped in an intimate fantasy world where only the two of them existed. Liz actually stumbled back a step as the din greeted her ears, and Max and Michael both threw up a hand instinctively to catch her.

Their eyes met in a hard stare over her head.

Michael's look was one of accusation, and seemed to question Max's honor after what he'd walked in on back there. Max's eyes flashed with angry disbelief that Michael would act as if he had any right to challenge him at all. Looking from one to the other, Liz wasn't sure whether she should try to pacify them and break this up, or walk away in disgust to let them do whatever their testosterone led them to do. But, although she thought it was ridiculous for them to raise their hackles over this small matter, she found it hard to blame Max for being angry. She didn't much care for Michael's attitude either.

After a tense, uncomfortable moment they both dropped their hands to their sides, then Michael turned with silent grimness to lead the way through the crowd. The sitting area had filled up since the last time they'd come through here, and people were standing shoulder-to-shoulder behind the long row of seats in preparation for the live band's performance. Michael turned back to take hold of Liz's arm so they wouldn't get separated, and Liz caught Max's hand in hers to tug him along with them. They wove their way through the mob, and as they drew closer to the game room the crowd grew sparser.

Just before they reached their destination Michael glanced down at Liz and stopped.

Speaking loudly to be heard over the noise, he leaned towards her and said, "You know, maybe you should," he gestured vaguely, "go- do whatever it is girls do when they disappear into the bathroom. With make-up or whatever. You look like you just spent the last 30 minutes lettin' some guy rip your clothes off," he ended with a look of mild reproof.

Liz blushed fierily, and darted an embarrassed glance around at the people surrounding them to make sure no one had heard him. A twenty-something blond standing nearby met her eye and lifted his brow in curious amusement. Mortified, Liz lowered her gaze to the floor.

"Michael!" Max said sharply in reprimand.

Feeling as though everyone were staring, Liz wanted only to escape, and she laid a hand on Max's arm to keep him from saying anything further.

"No, he's probably right, Max," she said, running a hand over her hair in self-consciousness. "I must be a mess. I'll just- I'll go get my purse and run to the ladies' room."

Max tore angry eyes from Michael's face to nod down at Liz. He gave her hand a brief squeeze, then said, "We'll go wait outside the restrooms then."

She nodded, then hurried away.

He and Michael moved over to the alcove where the restrooms were located. The crowd was considerably thinner here, and as soon as they'd gotten completely out of the path of traffic, Max leveled Michael with a dark look.

"Don't talk to her like that again, Michael. You have no right to judge, and I expect you to show Liz more respect than that," he said, his voice low and hard.

"Oh, you mean like you were respecting her earlier?" Michael returned hotly. "We're in a public place, Max. How respectful would it have been to turn Liz's first time into nothing more than some hurried grope-fest in a back room with hundreds of people outside the door?"

Max looked around quickly to make sure they weren't being overheard, then lowered his voice even more. "Things got a little out of control, Michael, but we never would've let things get that far." His expression twisted as he shook his head. "And even if we had, we don't have to explain ourselves to you. This has nothing to do with you."

"I'm sorry, but I beg to differ, Maxwell. If I'm gonna have to take a little energy joy-ride every time the two of you decide to go at it, I'd say it has a lot to do with me," Michael said, his lip curling sarcastically.

Max's jaw clenched. "Well, then learn how to block it somehow. Or- go for a run. Take a cold shower, I don't care. But lose the self-righteous attitude, and don't embarrass Liz like that again." He took a steadying breath. "This connection is hard for all of us to deal with, Michael. But I won't have you making things even harder for Liz," he said with a dark-eyed look of warning that let Michael know he was completely serious in this.

As Liz approached them after freshening her hair and make-up, she could tell from the low intensity of their conversation that they were still arguing, and it made her reluctant to join them. She just wanted to forget this had happened. The whole thing was embarrassing and disturbing, and just one more thing to add to the list of things she hated about this connection with Michael.

She just didn't understand what was happening. This was the second time since last week that her and Max's energy had been activated when they were making out. Although, what had taken place last week in her room had been nothing compared to the strength and intensity of what had been happening here. Now that she'd had time to reflect, she was unnerved by the power they had generated together. It reminded her too much of the time she and Michael had done the energy blast, the way her energy had kept surging higher and higher. Oddly enough, at the time it had been happening, she hadn't been scared of it at all, but now it was extremely disquieting to have no idea what their power would have done if she and Max had gone any further. As embarrassing as it had been for Michael to come in on them like that, it had probably been a good thing he'd stopped them when he had, or there was no telling what might have happened.

Not that she could go so far as to be thankful to him for it.

When Liz had reached Max and Michael, the two of them stopped talking abruptly, and she looked at them both uncomfortably, aware that she'd been the subject of their argument. This connection with Michael seemed to be putting funny ideas in his head about her, and she didn't like what it was doing to all of them. She couldn't imagine what he must've been thinking when he'd sensed the gathering of her power, and she could feel empathetic with him on that point. But he was killing any sympathy she might have for him with his condemnation of them both.

"Ready?" Max asked, as his eyes swept over her with admiring approval.

Thankful for his silent reassurance, Liz gave him a shy smile and nodded. He placed a hand lightly at her back as they turned to enter the game room, and Michael followed close behind. Their friends gathered around them almost immediately, with varying degrees of relief evident on their faces.

"Where have you been?" Isabel asked, looking a little shaken. "We were about to come looking for you guys. It's been almost 20 minutes since you left for the men's room," she said to Michael accusingly. "We were worried something had happened."

Michael shrugged with forced nonchalance. "I thought I'd go check on Max and Liz so Tess would shut up about it," he said, causing Tess to shoot him a glare.

Michael thought it was a good cover story since Tess honestly had plagued him and Isabel with her supposed worries ever since she'd realized Max and Liz hadn't come to the game room with everyone else. 'Did they think Max and Liz knew they were in the game room, did they think everything was alright, did they think Max had been wrong and the watcher really was here?' Michael had already been on edge because of what was happening with Liz, and Tess' incessant questions had driven him to the brink of insanity.

"I was worried, alright? So sue me," Tess said huffily, her eyes flashing irately at Michael.

"We were fine," Max interjected placatingly. "We just stayed to dance, that's all."

"Well, you're a braver man than I am if you were out there dancing to this," Alex said humorously, pointing vaguely toward the dance club. The song that was currently playing had a hard-driving hip-hop beat that demanded fast-paced dancing.

"Well, some guys aren't scared of a little fast dance, Alex," Isabel said teasingly, quickly recovering from her worry now that everyone was safely together. She was definitely going to have a little talk with Max and Michael, but pulling them aside right now would raise too many questions. "It's too bad you're so easily intimidated. You're missing out on a lot of fun," she goaded Alex lightly.

Alex narrowed his eyes at her playfully. "Are you casting aspersions on my manhood?"

"If the shoe fits, then dance in it," she grinned tauntingly.

"Oh, it's on now, baby," Alex said, grabbing her hand with determination, and pulling her towards the dance floor.

Liz smiled as she watched them go. It was good to see them so playful together. She wished Isabel could see what great boyfriend material Alex was. He seemed really good for her.

The smile was quickly wiped from her face at the sight of Tess approaching them hesitantly.

She looked up at Max uncertainly, then glanced at Liz and seemed to gather her courage. "I know you just got off the dance floor," she told him, "but you're my only hope if I want a fast-dance partner." At this, she looked over at Kyle with a faint smile. The look he gave her in return could only be described as moody, and she frowned a little, then looked back at Max. "Would you- want to go back out? With me, I mean?"

"Oh," Max lifted his brows in comprehension, then shifted uncomfortably. "Uh..." It took a herculean effort of will not to look to Liz for her approval, but Tess seemed to be waiting for just such an action as she divided her gaze between him and Liz. He really wasn't comfortable fast dancing, and he definitely wasn't comfortable with the idea of dancing with Tess. Not with Liz here, and not after what they'd just been doing. It felt like a betrayal to Liz. But he was afraid if he made excuses, it would only raise suspicions with Tess. Afterall, he'd supposedly just spent all this time dancing with his 'good friend' Liz.

"Yeah, o-okay. Sure," he finally agreed.

As they turned to leave the game room, he sent Liz an apologetic look over his shoulder. She forced a slight smile of forgiveness, but inside she felt like raging. She was sick of this pretend game already, and it had only been a week. She wanted to be able to tell Tess in no uncertain terms that Max belonged to her, just as her own heart belonged to him. And she felt like shaking the other girl and tell her to open her eyes.

Liz glanced over at Kyle to find him staring darkly after Tess and Max, and decided it was time to move on to the matchmaking portion of the evening.

She was counting on Kyle to help her save the world once again. Only this time he would be saving her and Max as well.

Part 33 | Index | Part 35
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