Fanfic - Max/Liz
"Strong, Dangerous, and Undeniable"
Part 38
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
Isabel and Liz lay on opposite sides of Isabel’s bed with their heads propped up by their hands, a snapshot of Tess lying between them atop the scarlet bedspread. Liz was listening attentively while Isabel attempted to explain the basic fundamentals of how her gift worked in an informal lesson that could’ve been entitled, ‘How to Dreamwalk the Unsuspecting in Ten Easy Steps’.

“It’s kind of a balancing act going in,” Isabel was saying. “I guess you’d say it’s like entering another plane of consciousness. You have to be relaxed enough to let go of your conscious self, but you can’t completely lose your focus or it won’t happen.”

Liz shivered with trepidation at her words. She’d said that so casually, as if it were nothing to let go of everything that was logical and real, and allow the unknown to take over. To Liz it sounded horrifying. She couldn’t imagine doing anything more contrary to her nature, and she felt a little bubble of panic at the prospect.

“Why is it different?” Liz asked apprehensively, cutting Isabel off mid-sentence as she explained what would take place on the dream plane.

“What?” she asked with a confused frown.

“I thought... what we’ve done before- I thought that was basically the same thing as dreamwalking,” Liz said in halting agitation.

“It was,” Isabel agreed. “At least from my end it was. Why? What’s wrong?”

Her eyes clouded with distress, Liz replied, “I never had to make any kind of effort to- to,” she stumbled over the words as if they were a different language, “let go of my conscious self when I projected myself to Max. I just...connected to you, and somehow found myself on that- other plane.”

Her expression one of comprehension, Isabel told her, “That’s because I was doing that part. You were just kind of...piggybacking my power. But when you do it on your own, you’ll have to learn how to do that part yourself.”

Reading the anxiety in Liz’s face, Isabel reassured her, “It’s not a big deal, Liz. You’ll still be going to the same place, the only difference is you’ll be in the driver’s seat,” she said with a little smile.

“Right,” Liz said leerily. “It just sounds kinda... hard,” she ended lamely, failing to mention her fear.

“It’s not that hard, “ Isabel refuted. “You’ll be able to do it, Liz, trust me.”

Liz didn’t argue, but she was suddenly extremely nervous about this.

“We’ll go ahead and connect so I can take you in and try to go with you, first, and then you can try by yourself, okay?”

Liz nodded reluctantly and silently encouraged herself with the fact that this first time at least would be similar to what she’d done with Isabel before. Even doing this much had taken a huge leap of faith on Liz’s part the first time they’d done it. But it had been to save Max and she couldn’t have made any other choice. After taking that monumental step, projecting herself to Max only yards away when they’d been experimenting with it hadn’t seemed scary at all.

Of course, she hadn’t realized Isabel was doing the hard part, she thought with an inward grimace.

Isabel placed a finger on the photo of Tess, and Liz watched with fascination as its surface seemed to ripple beneath her touch.

“It might help if you try and keep contact with the picture while we do this,” Isabel suggested.

“What’s the picture do?” Lis asked curiously while gingerly touching her fingertips to the photo. She was ridiculously disappointed to see no ripple effect.

Isabel shrugged. “It’s just always helped me to focus in on them. I’m not sure why, exactly. Maybe it just helps to keep them prominent in my consciousness. Or maybe it somehow helps me to recognize their energy or thought patterns. I don’t really know. I just know it works.”

Reclining fully, she folded her arm across her stomach and reached out to clasp Liz’s forearm with her other hand. Following her lead, Liz lay on her side and tried to relax, leaving her hand on top of the snapshot that sat between them.

“She won’t have any idea we’re there, right? I mean, she won’t be able to sense we’re um- we’re in her head?” Liz asked anxiously.

Isabel shook her head. “She’s asleep, Liz. She won’t feel anything.” Upon further consideration, Isabel became uncertain. “At least...I don’t think she will. No one ever has before, but then- I’ve never dreamwalked anyone with Tess’ kind of powers before.” Seeing the trepidation increase in Liz’s eyes, Isabel said more definitely, “But I’m sure it’ll be fine. She’s going to be completely unconscious. As long as we keep quiet and don’t move around a lot, I’m sure she’ll never even know we’re there.”

Liz nodded warily, her misgivings about this multiplying.

“Just try and relax, okay?” Isabel said encouragingly, feeling the slight tension in Liz’s arm where she was holding it. “Take a deep breath and remember to think positive thoughts.”

Liz looked at her in surprise. “Think positive thoughts? Will it really help to do that?”

“Well,” Isabel shrugged shortly and grinned. “It couldn’t hurt.”

Liz shook her head at her own gullibility and smiled, appreciating Isabel’s efforts to lighten the mood.

Reminding Liz of the part of her instructions that might actually be of use, Isabel took a deep breath and slowly released it, silently urging Liz to do the same.

Liz copied the relaxing technique, trying to quiet the butterflies in her stomach, and praying they would only see good things in Tess’ dream and would remain completely invisible while doing it.

In an instant she could feel the connection forming between them.

It wasn’t quite as stark in Isabel’s subconscious this time as it had been the other times they’d connected. Faint swirls of warm emotions eddied around Liz teasingly, and she even thought she saw a brief flash of Alex dancing goofily, but before it could fully form, she could feel herself moving along with Isabel as she led them to the dream plane.

They were suddenly standing in a vast open space that was similar to the place where she had always launched her projections from. The same star-studded sky was low overhead, but instead of the unrelieved emptiness that usually surrounded them, shadowy, mist-colored images flickered disjointedly all around them. Each image was a constantly shifting form. As soon as it seemed on the verge of solidifying into a single identifiable object or person, it quickly changed into something else. It was hard to distinguish one from the other, but as far as she could see in every direction, their pale flickering motions met her eyes.

It was really kind of eerie, Liz thought with a faint shiver of unease. Like being surrounded by ghosts or something. She jerked around when she thought she heard a distant voice echo through the silence. She looked where Isabel pointed, and a bright flash of color amidst the hazy images caught her eye. The shadows parted easily as she and Isabel made their way through them towards the single bright image. As they drew closer, the sound of voices grew clearer, and Liz began to catch distinct words here and there. Her heart began to beat a little faster when she heard Max’s name being said.

The closer she and Isabel got, the larger the image grew, and by the time they were upon it, it had gained life-sized proportions. Liz marveled at the strangeness of it, as the image stood in front of them, comparative in size to a wide doorway. Looking at it was like looking in through a fogged up window, where you could clearly tell that action was taking place inside, but it was impossible to make out more than vague outlines.

Isabel tugged her forward, and Liz took a deep breath and braced herself for whatever she was about to see as the two of them stepped inside.

At first, Liz could see nothing. It was like they’d stepped into a cloud of smoke, and she automatically waved her hand in front of her face to try and clear it away. After a moment, it dissolved around them, and she found herself standing on the sidelines of the school football field. Several yards in front of her, Max and Kyle stood at either end of a turquoise colored rope that was stretched out directly across the 50 yard line, engaging in a fierce-looking game of tug-of-war. The scrap of material tied to the rope to mark its center looked suspiciously like a Crashdown waitress’s apron. Standing between them looking on was Michael, his arms folded across his chest.

Liz and Isabel looked at each other with raised brows, unsure how this would play out.

Max and Kyle were struggling mightily, their muscles bulging as they fought each other for dominance.

“Just forget about it, Evans,” Kyle said breathlessly as he strained against the rope. “I had her first. In every possible way. Why don’t you just give up?”

“No way, Buddha Boy,” Max grunted, digging in with his feet and heaving forcefully. “Liz and I love each other. You should just go take a hike.”

“You said you were only friends!” Kyle protested accusingly.

“I lied,” Max said, grinning devilishly. “So, just...let...go!” he gritted out, punctuating the words with a hand over hand tug on the rope that forced Kyle to give way at the other end.

“In your dreams,” Kyle returned grimly, struggling to regain his ground.

Between them, Michael shook his head. Scowling lightly, he complained, “You know if you keep this up you’re gonna break her, and I might never listen to David Gray again.”

Isabel grinned as Liz released a bubble of laughter. She couldn’t help it. She’d come in here afraid she might find Tess in a passionate clinch with Max, and instead she found this ridiculousness. The relief was absolutely giddying. So, was the rope actually supposed to be her, she wondered with amusement.

At that moment, Tess walked up to the three boys and grumbled, “I just don’t get it. What is it about Liz Parker that has every guy I care about revolving around her like she’s the sun or something?”

No one seemed to hear her except for Kyle, who turned his head to look at her. “I don’t revolve around her, Tess. I’d revolve around you if you’d only give me a chance.”

Tess smiled widely in delight. “Really, Kyle? That’s so sweet.” Her smile dimmed. “ slept with her,” she pointed out.

“We were just doin’ a little lamp trimming. It didn’t mean anything, I swear,” he assured her.

Her gaze dropped down to his hands and she frowned. “Then, why are you still holding the rope?”

He looked down as if surprised to see the rope in his hands, and immediately released his hold on it, sending Max flying backwards at the sudden lack of resistance. Liz, in her Crashdown uniform, went sprawling atop him, as they both went crashing to the ground.

Smirking, Kyle taunted, “You lose, Evans.”

Tess looked at him in confusion. “You’re the one that gave up. Don’t you mean he wins?”

“Nah. How can he win when he doesn’t have you?” Kyle said, his expression sincere.

Her face softened into a smile. “Kyle,” she said softly in bedazzlement. “Why have I never known how sweet and romantic you could be?”

He shrugged. “I guess because you never bothered to look.”

“I’m looking now," she promised softly.

“Couldn’t you do more than look?” he asked engagingly, slowly leaning towards her.

She began leaning forward as well, and asked coyly, “ What exactly did you have in mind?”

He answered her question with a murmured question of his own. “How’s your lamp these days?”

“Burning brighter than ever,” she answered breathlessly.

Liz gripped Isabel’s arm in excitement as Kyle and Tess continued to lean in towards each other, the narrow space between them taking an inordinate amount of time to breach. Liz felt like jumping up and down and crowing in triumph. Tess liked Kyle! Tess liked Kyle! Surely, this proved it.

Their lips were hovering only inches away from each other’s now.

“Tess!” a voice barked her name sharply.

Tess jerked away from Kyle and whirled around. “Nacedo!” she exclaimed guiltily as her shapeshifting guardian glowered down at her.

“Would you care to tell me exactly what it is you think you’re doing, young lady?” he asked in the arrogant tone Liz remembered so well. “I die, and the first thing you do is forget everything I ever told you so you can play a nice little game of pretend with this... human ?” he spat the word as if it were an epithet. “You don’t have time for this. You have your destiny to think about. Our people are counting on you.”

“This isn’t a game of pretend,” Tess protested. “I think Kyle might really care about me. I’m the one who’s been pretending. Pretending that Max will ever see me as anything other than a friend. I’m tired of trying to change his mind. I just want to have a normal relationship for once. I want somebody to love me,” she ended forlornly.

Isabel and Liz exchanged a wide-eyed look of disbelief at the vulnerability of her plea.

“Max does love you,” Nacedo assured her. “He just doesn’t remember. You can’t give up on him now, he needs you. He’ll never become the king our people need without his queen by his side to help guide him.”

“But...Kyle...” Tess said in half-hearted protest. She turned to look at him longingly, but Max stood there in his place.

“Don’t give up on me, Tess,” he said in soft-eyed appeal. “We had something really great once. I’m sure we could have it again, I just need you to help me remember.”

“You won’t let me help you remember,” she said in frustration. “How much longer am I supposed to keep trying?”

“How ever long it takes,” Max answered.

Tess wilted a little. “I’m just so tired, Max. I’m tired of doing this on my own. I’m tired of waiting for you to love me.”

Max caressed her cheek then threaded his fingers through the hair at her temple. “Don’t you think I’m worth the wait?” he asked with a beguiling smile.

Gingerly, she slid her hands around his waist, and he responded by pulling her up against his chest.

Liz grit her teeth at the sight. How had this suddenly gone so wrong? Only a second ago she’d been longing for Kyle. Didn’t this girl ever have a consistent thought in her head? Nacedo had made it sound like this was her duty. But was it really duty, or desire?

“Max,” Tess answered him weakly, “You’re everything I’ve ever wanted and more. But what if you never come around? Am I supposed to spend my entire life waiting for you?” she asked in distress.

Lowering his lips to her ear, he promised silkily, “I’ll come around.”

“I really want to believe that,” she said longingly, pulling back to look up into his eyes.

Slowly lowering his lips to a hair’s-breadth from hers, he urged softly, “Then.. do.”

Liz turned her head quickly away as their lips met, a strangled note of anguish sounding deep in her throat. The sight of them when she’d once seen them kiss was etched on her brain in permanent pain-colored ink. She had no desire to add a second picture of them to her gallery, whether it was only an imaginary kiss or not.

She clearly had the answer to her question. And the answer was definitely ‘desire’.

Isabel poked her gently in the side, and when Liz looked around at her she motioned toward the ardent couple. Liz frowned at her in consternation, refusing to look where she directed. She knew Isabel couldn’t be so insensitive as to urge her to watch the guy she loved making out with another girl. Dream or no dream, even the thought of seeing them like that created a pinched feeling in her heart.

“Liz, look,” Isabel whispered insistently, her eyes pointedly drawing a line toward Max and Tess. Only it wasn’t Max and Tess, Liz discovered, as curiosity bade that she give in to Isabel’s urging. It was Kyle whose lips were locked on hers in a passionate kiss that showed no signs of ending anytime soon, his hands gently anchoring her head in place.

Liz lifted her eyes to Isabel’s face, whose smirking expression seemed to say, ‘what do you think about that ?’

Liz wasn’t sure what to think. Did this mean Tess really did want Kyle? Or she wanted him, but she wanted Max, too? Or she only wanted Max because she felt duty-bound to, but deep down she really wanted Kyle? Or was she simply as confused as Liz was feeling right now, and had no idea what the heck she wanted?

She turned her attention back to the embracing couple when she heard Tess speak. She was clutching at Kyle as he placed random kisses over her face, and she breathed his name dreamily as if unaware she’d ever been kissing Max in the first place.

“Seen enough?” Isabel whispered.

Liz nodded silently in answer, glancing back to find Tess and Kyle kissing passionately on the lips once again. She only had a second for her spirits to be buoyed by the sight before a sudden sharp pulling sensation caught hold of her, drawing her out of the dream and across the dream plane with a force that was startling. Liz had the fleeting uncomfortable thought that this must be what it felt like to be sucked into the funnel of a tornado. Then a feeling of coming back to herself took over her consciousness, and she gasped, her eyes flying open to see Isabel lying on the bed across from her.

It took her a moment to get her bearings, during which time, Isabel asked, “You okay?”

Grimacing a little, Liz replied, “Yeah. Great. Is coming back always...intense like that?”

Isabel made an apologetic face. “Yeah, I guess I should’ve warned you about that. But you get used to it,” she assured her. “I actually think it’s kind of a rush,” she finished with a small grin.

Liz gave her a skeptical look and flopped over onto her back. “Remind me never to be anywhere near you if we ever have a tornado in Roswell,” she said dryly.

Isabel’s smile widened, and she wiggled around to find a comfortable position facing Liz. “So? What did you think?” she asked expectantly, her tone and posture saying clearly, ‘Let’s dish!’

Liz turned her head to look at the other girl as she contemplated what had just happened. “It was...interesting. The dream plane was a little spooky, but other than that...” she shrugged.

Isabel wrinkled her nose in dismissal and said more specifically, “What did you think about Tess’ dream ? I think it was a pretty good sign, don’t you? I mean, obviously she’s interested in Kyle romantically. At least on a subconscious level.”

Gloomily Liz said, “Yes, but it’s just as obvious she still wants to be with Max. She hasn’t given up the destiny thing.” Her earlier jubilation at seeing Tess kissing Kyle was fading quickly as she recalled other parts of the dream. Such as Nacedo’s stern admonitions about her destiny with Max. His words about their people needing their king and queen together struck Liz’s heart with guilt.

“Maybe not yet, but she wants to. Look how many times she said she was tired of waiting for it to happen,” Isabel said.

And look at how she’d encouraged herself to continue her efforts. Through Max’s very own lips, Liz thought with a pang. A dream Max’s lips, anyway.

When Liz was silent, Isabel pointed out another promising part of the dream. “And deep down she knows you and Max are still in love, otherwise why would she have had Max say it?”

Liz nodded. That was true. She’d even had him admit that he was lying about them only being friends. But Liz wasn’t sure that was a good thing. In terms of the end of the world thing, it could only be bad.

Isabel looked at her questioningly when she continued to hold her silence. “Why are you so down, Liz? For the most part it was good news, wasn’t it?”

Liz tried to shake off the sudden heaviness that seemed to be pressing in on her shoulders. Isabel was right. There had been a lot of things that were encouraging in the dream. But the things Nacedo had said stabbed at her conscience. The part about how their people were counting on them had reminded Liz of exactly how many people’s lives depended on her and Max making the right decisions. They couldn’t afford to make selfish choices. And she was afraid their being together was the selfish choice.

“Liz? Are you alright?” Isabel prompted with a frown. She couldn’t figure out this funk Liz was in. She wondered what she was thinking.

Shaking her head a little to clear it, Liz said, “Yeah. I’m sorry Isabel. You’re- you’re right. It was mostly good news in the dream. I guess... I just need some time to think about it. You know, figure out what all of it means.”

Isabel continued to study her, a little disappointed in Liz’s reaction to the dream. She’d thought they had grounds for celebration, and in her enthusiasm, had been looking forward to a little late-night gab-fest. She’d thought they’d figure out what the dream meant together. Maybe laugh a little at its silliness, and hatch a few matchmaking plots for Kyle and Tess. Instead, Liz was strangely subdued and didn’t seem to want to talk.

It left Isabel feeling a little deflated.

Sighing in acceptance, she said, “Okay. Well...are you ready to try a dreamwalk on your own?”

The question was extremely effective in pulling Liz from her thoughts, as nervous dread once again pooled in her stomach.

Was she ready to do this on her own?

Not even a little bit.

Part 37 | Index | Part 39
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