Fanfic - Max/Liz
"Strong, Dangerous, and Undeniable"
Part 37
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
The jeep and mustang pulled up in front of the DeLuca house and sat quietly idling on the street. Inside the jeep, the only thing to be heard was the sound of Liz’s hushed conversation on Isabel’s phone. The rest of the jeep’s occupants were silent, as they tried to deal with the sudden deflation of their adrenaline-fed emotions. Though it was a profound relief to see the Jetta parked safely in the driveway, it was also a bit anticlimactic after racing all the way here at 80 mph, terrified at every curve that they would come up on the Jetta at the side of the road, and find that Alex and Maria had been dragged away by some unknown enemy.

The flood of relief and anger Michael felt were dizzying. He was extremely glad that Maria was okay, he never would’ve forgiven himself if anything had happened to her, but he also wanted to throttle her for scaring them the way she had. They’d tried to call her repeatedly on her cell phone on the way here and she hadn’t answered. Whether she’d shut off her phone, or was simply ignoring them was anyone’s guess. Only after they’d reached Roswell had Alex called to let them know they’d made it safely, and that Maria had just dropped him off at home. He and Liz had been talking for several minutes now, and judging from her end of the conversation, Maria hadn’t told him anything, and he was demanding to know what was going on. Liz kept telling him that this connection stuff must’ve finally just gotten to Maria, but apparently he wasn’t accepting that.

“Look, I have to go now, Alex. We’re using up Isabel’s minutes, and we’re at Maria’s house now. I’ll just talk to you tomorrow, okay?” Liz said, gently drawing the conversation to a close

They said their goodbyes, and after she’d hung up, Liz looked at Max bleakly.

“What did he say? How’s Maria?” Michael prompted impatiently.

Liz shook her head dejectedly. “She wouldn’t talk to him. He said she was...crying- a little, and all she would tell him-“ she faltered as her throat grew tight, and Max reached over to wrap his hand around hers, his brows pulled down in sympathetic concern. She looked over at him, pain and regret twisting her features. “All she would tell him was that...he was the only- the only real friend she had, and...she didn’t even know me or Michael anymore,” she choked out softly.

Max squeezed her hand gently, and she clung to it, needing the comfort it gave, as she fought against the emotions clogging her throat. She couldn’t believe what things had come to. She’d never thought the day would come when Maria wouldn’t even consider her a friend. Of course, she knew intellectually that Maria had only been speaking out of pain and anger, but it didn’t make it any less devastating.

Isabel looked out her window at Maria’s house, and asked uncertainly, “Well, do you think someone should go in and try to talk to her now? Make sure she’s okay?”

“I’ll go,” Michael stated decisively. He wasn’t all that eager to face Maria, he had no idea what to say to her, but he knew this mess was his fault, and he had to do something to try and make it better.

Liz whipped her head around to look at him resentfully. She was heartsick and distressed about this whole situation, and Michael made a convenient target for her frustrations as she was furious at him for it. “Don’t you think you’ve said enough?” she asked, her tone harsh and accusatory. “If you go in there what are you gonna say? 'I’m sorry I’ve been acting like such a thoughtless lunatic, but the connection made me do it’?”

His jaw clenching at the sudden attack, Michael struck back with angry sarcasm. “How ‘bout if I just say, ‘I’m sorry your best friend keeps lying to you. I guess she’s not really the best friend, is she?’”

“Oh, like you’ve been completely on the up and up,” she returned acidly.

“C’mon, you guys. Stop,” Isabel implored, a little wide-eyed. She’d never heard Liz speak with such rancor before. “We need to think about what’s best for Maria right now.”

“Isabel’s right,” Max agreed gruffly. He was a little disturbed by Liz's uncharacteristic outburst as well, and he chafed her hand soothingly. “We’re all...really upset about this, but we just need to try and calm down and think about what Maria needs.”

Liz subsided guiltily, knowing they were right. She knew she couldn’t place all the blame for this on Michael’s shoulders. She bore as much responsibility for this mess as he did. But that wasn’t even important right now. What mattered was Maria and what she was going through at this moment. She must be feeling so hurt and betrayed, Liz thought, her stomach twisting with guilt.

“What she needs is for me to stop lying to her,” she confessed with dark remorse. Turning to look at Michael again, she added in a voice that was grudgingly conciliatory, “And she needs for Michael to tell her how much she means to him.”

Michael looked at Liz mutely, his expression implacable for a long moment. Finally, the corner of his lip tightened in concession and he asked somberly, “So who goes first?”

Liz turned to look at the exterior of Maria’s house, softly bathed in the golden light from the front porch light, and swallowed. Shaking her head sadly, she said, “I’m not even sure she’d listen to either one of us right now.”

“Well, we have to at least try,” Michael said vehemently. Then less certainly, “Don’t we?”

He’d be the first to admit he was no good at dealing with this kind of stuff. He wanted to charge in there and demand that Maria listen to him while he told her... well, something that would make her feel better. But he could see how forceful insistence might not be the best way to go.

“You go, Liz,” Max softly urged. “Somehow I think she’d have more of a problem slamming the door in your face than she would in Michael’s,” he said somewhat dryly.

Michael snorted. “Yeah, that’s probably true.”

“Yeah, well, don’t be too sure,” Liz said apprehensively, as she steeled herself for the confrontation ahead, and climbed out of the car.

A few seconds later Max began to climb from the jeep as well, saying, “I’m just gonna go tell Kyle to go ahead.”

Michael and Isabel watched as Liz approached the front door, and after a moment, Amy answered her knock.

“It’s late,” Isabel exclaimed with mild surprise. “What’s her mom still doing up?”

Shrugging with a slight shake of his head, Michael replied, “She was probably out with the sheriff or something.”

Liz stood talking to Maria’s mom in the doorway for several minutes, and when Max slid back into the driver’s seat, he grimly concluded, “She’s not gonna talk to her.”

It appeared he was right, as Liz turned away without gaining entrance to the house, and slowly returned to the jeep, her expression slightly stricken. She entered the car quietly, then sat without speaking for a moment. An aching sense of loss was thick in her throat and dread sat heavily in the pit of her stomach. The fear she’d felt this morning over losing Maria’s friendship over all of this had just edged a little bit closer to reality.

“She won’t talk to me,” she stated the obvious with quiet despair. “To either of us,” she glanced back in Michael’s direction to include him in the edict. “Her mom said she told her that if we called or came by, she didn’t want to talk to us.” She made a bitter huffing sound. “And of course, her mom is completely in the dark and kept asking what was going on.”

She deliberately left out the part about how Mrs. DeLuca had questioned if something was going on between her and Michael. She’d said she couldn’t believe that that might be the case, but what else was she to think when her daughter extended her angry silence to both of them like this?

“What did you tell her?” Isabel asked.

“Just that there had been a misunderstanding. I don’t know if she believed me, though. Maria... she’s never shut me out like this before. Not- not ever,” Liz said desolately.

Reaching for her hand again, Max said consolingly, “She’s just upset right now, Liz. She’s been hit with a lot of stuff since this morning, you know? You just have to give her a little time. She’ll come around.”

Liz bit her lip and nodded, hoping he was right.

Everyone was silent on the way home, each lost in his own thoughts about the latest turmoil that was stirring their small group.

Michael couldn’t believe how royally screwed up things had gotten. It had only been last week that he, Liz, and Isabel had been vowing to themselves to make things better when Max got back safely from New York. Instead, things had just continued to go steadily downhill.

He was calling himself all kinds of stupid for saying what he had back there at that club. It was a wonder Max hadn’t punched him right in the face for suggesting that he could possibly have more of a claim on Liz than Max did. He must’ve gone temporarily insane. Liz hadn’t been wrong in calling him a thoughtless lunatic. That was exactly how he’d been behaving tonight. She had asked him to help her prove to Maria and Max that there was no threat to them and their relationships from this connection, and he’d done exactly the opposite.

That he could have completely forgotten Maria’s presence and blurted out the truth about Max and Liz, and worse, had intimated that he possibly had some kind of feelings for Liz, was really just inexcusable. Guilt and regret were churning in him like acid, and he cringed to imagine how Maria must have felt when she’d heard him say all that.

It was true that where Liz was concerned his feelings were a jumbled mass of confusion. He’d never thought anyone would ever understand him the way Maria did, and now that Liz could actually see inside him the way she did, it kinda blurred the lines somewhat. And up till now, no one had ever been able to arouse his protective instincts as quickly and thoroughly as Maria, but suddenly, he was feeling fiercely protective of Liz, as well.

But his worry and fright for Maria on the way back from Dexter had made him realize that no matter what he might be feeling for Liz, he still cared about Maria as much as he always had. It was her he wanted to be with. She kindled emotions in him like no one else. From fiery passion and excitement to caring concern and tenderness, she always made him feel alive. When he was with Maria he had a little less cynical view of the world, and of all the people in it. Maybe because he knew that she’d been through a lot too in her young life, but she hadn’t let it suppress her naturally cheerful, optimistic nature. He really admired that in her.

But the fact that she made him feel so much was exactly the reason he shouldn’t be with her. She made him too soft and weak when he needed to be strong and clearheaded. That, and the fact that he was afraid he would only ever bring her heartache and sorrow if they were together. He thought that the situation they were in now was a perfect example of that. It tore him up inside to know that he was bringing Maria pain. He just had to make this right somehow.

When Max pulled up in front of Michael’s apartment, Michael hesitated before getting out, feeling extremely conflicted. He knew he shouldn’t say anything else about it, but he just couldn’t let go of his concern over Liz spending the night with Max. It was driving him crazy.

“Listen, uh- Liz... you know, you and Is could use my place tonight to do your dream-walking thing. I could always find somewhere else to stay,” he offered hesitantly.

Gritting his teeth, Max said without turning around, “Michael, don’t start, okay? Just drop it. Liz is staying at my house. Period.”

Michael stared at the back of Max’s head, a muscle working in his jaw, then turned to find Liz looking at him.

For the first time tonight, Liz could sense the extreme turmoil that was going on inside of him. Maybe because she was in such a state of turmoil herself, it was easier to recognize it in him. Feeling a need to reassure him, she said softly, “We aren’t gonna do anything stupid, Michael. His parents will be right there. There’s nothing to worry about, okay?”

The same muscle that had just been working in Michael’s jaw now bunched in Max’s as he turned to look at Liz. Why did she think she had to explain herself to him? This was none of Michael’s concern, he thought resentfully.

After sharing a long silent look with Liz, Michael finally nodded his head. “See you tomorrow,” he said to the car in general as he climbed out and made his way to his apartment.

Turning to catch Max’s stare, Liz bit her lip, knowing immediately what he was thinking. Placatingly, she said, “Look, I know he’s being a pain, but he’s just- I think he’s just trying to look out for us, you know?”

“Yeah, well...maybe he should remember we’re capable of looking out for ourselves,” Max replied darkly, pulling out on the street to head for home.

When they’d reached their house, Isabel fished Liz’s overnight bag out of the back of the jeep, and Max took it from her as the three of them made their way to the front door.

A dark gray sedan pulled to a stop at the corner without making the turn onto the Evans’ street, and lurked there like an unnoticed shadow as the three teens crossed the lawn towards their destination.

Obliviously, they entered the house, and unexpectedly found Max’s and Isabel’s parents waiting up for them in the living room.

“Mom, Dad, what are you guys still doing up?” Isabel asked in surprise.

“We just wanted to make sure you made it home safely,” Mr. Evans replied. “You never know with that old jeep, and Dexter’s a pretty long drive.”

Max had made sure that everyone, with the exception of Liz, had called their parents to let them know where they were going after they’d decided to go to the club. It had been the responsible thing to do, he’d told them in response to their grumblings.

“And, we wanted to greet our guest, make sure she got settled in properly,” Mrs. Evans added with a friendly smile at Liz. “How are you, Liz? We’ve missed you around here.”

Smiling shyly in return, Liz replied, “Oh, um- thank you, Mrs. Evans. I appreciate you having me.”

“Anytime,” she said graciously. “And please, call me Diane. All of Max and Izzie’s friends do. Well, except for Michael,” she amended in an aside, a wry expression on her face. “We’ve never been able to get him to drop the Mr. and Mrs. And this is Phillip,” she said, with a gesture toward her husband.

Liz nodded in acceptance of the friendly gesture, and diffidently dropped her gaze to the floor.

“Well. You kids must be tired,” Diane said, preparing to see them off to bed. “Liz, please make yourself at home. If there’s anything you need, don’t be shy to ask, okay?”

Liz smiled. “Thank you, Mrs.- uh, I mean, Diane,” she corrected herself at Diane’s mock-look of censure. “I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

Mr. Evans gave Max a stern look and said, “I trust that we’ll find everyone in their proper beds in the morning. Right, Max?”

Max flushed and dropped his gaze to the floor, and Liz mirrored his reaction in abashment.

“Dad,” Isabel protested for him with an awkward little laugh.

He held up a hand to forestall any further protests and said, “I just wanted to remind you that I expect everyone to behave responsibly tonight. This is a slightly unusual situation, and the only reason your mother and I agreed to it is because we trust you,” he told Max in a no-nonsense tone, glancing at Liz to include her in the mild lecture.

Max cleared his throat and threw an apologetic look at Liz. “I told you, Dad, Liz and I are friends. You don’t have to worry.”

Lightly touching the back of her hand to Phillip’s chest from where she stood beside him, Diane said, “We aren’t worried, are we, Phillip?” Without waiting for an answer, she said, “Good night, kids,” at the same time moving to give Max and Isabel each a kiss on the cheek, and then gave Liz a friendly hug. “Sleep well, alright? We’ll see you in the morning.”

“Good night,” they chimed as everyone headed for their respective bedrooms.

Max halted at his bedroom door, and he and Liz exchanged a look of longing as he handed over her bag and she moved on to follow Isabel to her room. He wanted to tell her that despite what his parents said, he wanted her to come to him after she and Is tried the dream-walking, but he was afraid his parents might overhear him. He only hoped she already knew that.

As the two girls entered Isabel’s bedroom, Isabel began slipping off her jacket and moved to the closet. “Here, let me hang up your coat,” she offered and waited for Liz to comply. “You can put your stuff over there,” she indicated the dresser by the bed.

After handing her jacket to Isabel, Liz placed her small overnight bag on the dresser top, and moved to sit on the bed with a deep sigh.

Isabel looked at her sympathetically and said, “Are you sure you’re up to testing your powers tonight, Liz? Maybe we should save it for another time.”

Liz looked up at her in incomprehension for a split-second, then shook her head slightly with a frown of dismissal. “Oh. No, I’ll be fine. Besides, we might never get another chance as good as this one.”

Watching her carefully, Isabel said, “It’s just’re gonna need to be able to concentrate, and I know you’re upset over Maria and everything.”

“Yeah.” Liz sighed dejectedly. Needing desperately to talk to someone, she blurted, “Everything is just such a mess, Isabel. With Maria, and Max. With Michael. It’s like- I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore. With any of them.”

Isabel sat next to her on the bed. “What exactly happened at that club tonight, Liz?” she asked with curious concern.

That was all it took to open the floodgates, and Liz found herself pouring the entire story out to Isabel. About what had happened yesterday and the discoveries they’d made about her and Michael’s connection, about confessing about it to Max and Maria, and about everything that had happened tonight. With the small exception of exactly what she and Max had been doing when Michael had caught them. About that, she only said he’d caught them in a compromising position, made mention of what was happening with their energy, and let Isabel’s imagination fill in the rest.

“Poor Maria,” Isabel said when Liz finished by telling her what had made Maria run out of the club on them.

“Yeah, I know,” Liz replied, wincing in remorse. “We couldn’t have possibly handled things any worse where she’s concerned in all of this. I’m so mad at Michael for saying the things he did tonight I could kill him. But at the same time, I know he only said them because he’s confused and frustrated about this whole thing. I know how he’s feeling because I feel exactly the same way. You know, when we first found out about this connection I thought we could just ignore it. As long as we just didn’t connect there was no way it could hurt anybody, right? But’s like it’s taken over our entire lives or something. It’s affecting everything. And every one ,” she finished with quiet frustration.

Isabel had listened quietly to everything she’d said, and now cut straight to the heart of the matter. “So what do you think this thing is that connects you, Liz? Have you and Michael even talked about it at all?”

Avoiding her eyes, Liz answered, “ Um...yeah. Kind of. We sorta talked about it last night- a little bit. Michael wants to experiment with it. See what we can find out about it... but, um- I told him I didn’t want to.”

Isabel looked at her in bafflement. “But, why? It sounds like a good idea. Even if you can’t find out exactly why you’re connected, maybe you could find out how to keep it under control. Max and Maria still might not like it very much that the connection exists, but it would probably be a little easier to deal with if it wasn’t quite so... out there . You know? I mean, you’ve got to admit, Liz, talking in sync, feeling each other’s energy, Michael going all postal on you and Max- that’s all a little freaky. Max and Maria must feel like this thing is constantly being shoved down their throats.”

Biting her lip, Liz looked down at her lap. Nodding, she said, “You’re right. But, we don’t even know if this thing can be controlled. What if...what if working with it only makes it even stronger? I’m just- for some reason, I’m just really afraid to find out any more about this thing. I’m scared to know why it exists,” she confessed softly.

Slowly, Isabel said, “Because, somehow- you know it’s something deeper than just from Max changing you.”

Liz felt a chill go through her as her startled gaze met the other girl’s. “Yeah,” she agreed in a near-whisper. “M-maybe. did you know?”

Isabel gave her a direct look. “Because, I’ve kinda been thinking it, too. Ever since you did the energy blast at the quarry. Michael told me that day that when you two joined energy it was like something was complete in him for the first time in his life. And all the power you generated between you...Liz, if that was because of something Max created inside you, why wouldn’t he and Michael be able to produce that same amount of power together?”

Liz’s heart was pounding in dread. She hadn’t wanted to admit it, even to herself, but these same thoughts had been playing around the edge of her subconscious. But she couldn’t accept the idea that this connection wasn’t any of Max’s doing. Because, if it wasn’t, what other possible explanation could there be? How could this- link between her and Michael just suddenly come into being?

“I don’t know, Isabel,” Liz answered wearily. “I don’t know what to think anymore. I just wish none of this had ever happened. I wish...I could make it disappear. For Maria and Max’s sake, if nothing else.”

Accepting that she didn’t want to probe further for the meaning behind the connection, Isabel let the matter drop. She wasn’t helping Liz to feel any better about it anyway, she thought with a touch of insecurity. She was new to this female confidante thing. The only kinds of things she’d ever talked about with her girlfriends from school had been shallow and meaningless. Just idle gossip really. If she’d ever had anything important to discuss, she’d always had Max and Michael for that. But sharing confidences with Liz was a whole different dynamic than talking to those guys. It left her feeling a little unsure that she was saying the right things.

“So...uh, what are you going to do about Maria?” Isabel asked tentatively.

Liz shook her head despondently. “I don’t know. I feel like I’ve messed things up with her so bad, I don’t even know where to start. She’s never been so mad at me that she wouldn’t talk to me,” she mourned, her chest tight. “I don’t even know what she’s thinking right now.”

“Well,” Isabel said in a bolstering tone, “I think you’ve found your first dream-walking subject. That’s the biggest advantage of this gift. It lets you see what’s going on in someone’s subconscious mind.”

Liz had any number of reservations about that suggestion, and she shook her head, saying, “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea, Isabel. I mean, for me to just go in and- and find out things that she refuses to tell me...I would just feel like I was - violating her free will, or something.”

Isabel lifted a brow. “But you wouldn’t feel like that with somebody else? Who were you thinking we were gonna try this on?”

Flushing a little at her hypocrisy, Liz replied, “Um, well...actually, I was thinking maybe we could try it on Tess.”

A slow devilish smile curved Isabel’s lips. “Why, Liz Parker. That’s so devious. Who’d have thought you had it in you?” she teased.

Smiling a little, Liz rolled her eyes.

“That’s a really good idea,” Isabel said in approval. “I should've thought of it before. We can go in there and see what she’s thinking about Max.”

“And hopefully about Kyle,” Liz added.

Isabel’s enthusiasm for the idea dimmed somewhat as the possibility occurred to her that it could turn out badly. “Have you thought about this, though, Liz? What if you find out something you didn’t want to hear?”

It made Liz’s stomach turn to think of having her worst fears about this realized, but she firmly pushed her apprehension aside. She needed to find out once and for all.

“Yeah, I- I need to know, Isabel. And besides, it’s pointless to worry about it ahead of time. Tess might not even be dreaming about Max.” Liz grimaced at the way that had come out sounding, as though Max was what Tess’ hopes and dreams were about, and hastily corrected herself. “I mean, she may not be having a dream about him right now”

Isabel made a face at Liz’s first choice of words, then smoothed her expression and said encouragingly, “Well, we’ll just have to find out, then, won’t we?”

Part 36 | Index | Part 38
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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