|"Strong, Dangerous & Undeniable"|
Disclaimer: The characters belong to M. Metz, J. Katims, and The WB. I'm only gently leading them where I'd like them to go.|
Summary: This story begins with the scene in MITC when Liz does her astral projection thing. It follows along with everything in the show up to that point, and goes on to explore Liz's powers, and to resolve the obstacles in the path of her being together with Max.
|Liz woke early the next morning. After showering and dressing, she wandered downstairs to check on Ava. She was surprised
to find her already up and dressed. She seemed as though she were preparing to go somewhere.|
"Ava. What's goin' on? Are you leaving?" Liz asked.
"Yeah. I'm gonna book."
"But why? I mean, you know you're welcome to stay."
"Thanks. But I'd rather not be here if Rath and Lonnie decide to come lookin' for me. I don't think they'd really care if I fell off the face of the earth, but you never know wit them. I mean, I do know what they did to Zan. I'm like a loose end, ya know? And it wouldn't surprise me none if they up and decided one day to get rid of all their loose ends, if ya know what I'm sayin'. You should be careful, too. All of you."
"We will. We'll look out for each other. You know, we'd watch out for you, too. I mean if you wanted to stay."
Ava couldn't decide if this chick was for real or not. She honestly seemed like she wouldn't care if Ava crashed on this couch forever if she wanted to. In the seventeen years she'd been alive on this planet, no one had ever cared much about what happened to her. Except maybe Zan. He'd always had a soft spot for her, but he'd never stood up for her against Lonnie and Rath. They had always treated her like a second-class citizen, often making her the butt of their cruel jokes. Ava probably wouldn't know genuine caring if it came up and bit her, but it seemed like that might be what she was seeing in the face of Liz Parker. It made her a little uncomfortable. She didn't quite know how to deal with it.
"Not my style. But thanks," she finally answered.
She realized it had come out a little harsher than she'd meant it to when she saw Liz lower her eyes and chew on her lip.
"Really. Thanks," she said more softly, and offered a small smile.
Liz nodded and returned the smile.
"So where will you go?"
"I was thinkin' maybe California. I found this book once somebody left on the subway. It had these really cool pictures of the beach. I thought, now that's the place to be. Warm and sunny and clean. One day I'm gonna go see the ocean. This seems like as good a time as any."
"Will you be okay? By yourself, I mean?"
"I'll be awright. Sometimes I felt more alone when I was wit Rath and Lonnie than if there wasn't anybody else around, ya know? This way, at least I won't always be lookin' over my shoulder, wonderin' what their gonna do next."
Liz's face softened into a look of sympathy and she reached out and touched Ava's arm lightly.
"Well, you know where we are if you ever need anybody, okay?"
Ava nodded and looked away, uncomfortable again.
"How are you going to get there? To California."
Ava gestured airily. "Transportation won't be a prob. I'm sure it can't be that hard to swipe a car in Roswell, New Mexico."
Liz looked at her in concern, unsure if she was being serious or not. After studying her for a few minutes, she decided that Ava was completely serious. Liz was slightly horrified. She had a brief nightmare-ish vision of Ava stealing whatever flashy car caught her fancy, and Kyle's little red sports car came immediately to mind. It wasn't hard to imagine the sheriff being home while Ava attempted to peel out of his own driveway in his son's car. And, well, nothing good could come of anything that would take place after that.
"Um, right. Swipe a car. You know, Ava, I have something I want to give you before you go. Will you wait for me?"
"Will it take long?" Ava asked, anxious to be on her way.
"Ten minutes, tops," Liz promised.
Ava nodded her agreement and Liz rushed over to the stairs. A few minutes later she came bounding down again and hurried to the door to the alley.
"Don't go anywhere till I get back," she reminded Ava breathlessly.
Again Ava nodded.
Exactly ten minutes later, Liz returned through the diner's swinging door. At the sound of her entrance, Ava sprang to her feet from the couch. Liz approached carrying a large carry-out bag from the Crashdown.
"Here," she said shyly, as she handed the bag to Ava. "The kitchen isn't open yet, so it's just some sandwiches and snacks." She shrugged apologetically.
Nodding acceptance, Ava took the bag. "Thanks."
Liz hesitated before reaching into her purse to retrieve the envelope she'd just gotten from the bank. She was afraid the other girl might not accept money as readily as some leftover food. Liz knew she had to handle this smoothly so it wouldn't seem like charity. She didn't want Ava's pride forcing her to refuse the money.
Tucking her hair behind her ear, she spoke cautiously. "Um, you know, I'm really grateful to you for what you did to save Max. We all are. I mean, Max could have d-died," Liz stumbled on the word. Somehow, saying it out loud made it seem scarier and more real. "You know, if you hadn't warned us. We wanted to get you something before you left, kind of a thank-you present or whatever. We didn't realize you'd be leaving so soon, so maybe you could just take this."
She handed Ava the money she'd just withdrawn from her savings account. She didn't think the others would mind if she inferred that they were in on this little gesture. Especially if it would divert a car theft disaster.
Liz watched as she rifled through the bills, and rushed on before she could object. "You know, you shouldn't have to drive all the way to California by yourself. Why don't you just get a plane ticket? You'd get there alot sooner that way," she said persuasively.
Ava considered her words as she continued to count through the bills. She hated feeling that they all probably thought she was some poor little lost soul who needed their charity, but on the other hand, they all seemed like they had it pretty good compared to the way she'd always had to live. Why not take it if they had it to throw away on the likes of her. And it would be epic to be able to fly to where she was going. Actually the sooner she got there the better. And she'd never been on a plane before. In the end, that was really the deciding factor. She couldn't pass up the opportunity.
"Well," Ava cleared her throat, "I could just whip up a plane ticket if I wanted, but seein' as how it's a thank you and all..." Ava shrugged and stuffed the money into her purse. Embarrassed, she avoided Liz's eyes and said gruffly, "Tell everyone thanks."
"Sure," Liz nodded. Hoping to gloss over the moment for the other girl's sake, she quickly went on to say, "So. Do you need a ride anywhere?"
"Nah. I'll walk."
Ava nodded and shuffled her feet in a movement that moved her closer to the door.
"Well. Goodbye," Liz said with a little lift of her shoulders. "Good luck, okay?"
"Okay, " Ava answered. "You too."
Liz hesitated, and with a small huff of laughter at herself, she moved to hug Ava.
Ava was taken completely by surprise. Again she found herself wondering if this girl was for real. She sure was into that genuine caring thing. Slowly, her arms moved up to return the hug, and a warm feeling settled itself in the pit of her belly. When the two girls parted they both gave a flustered giggle.
"So cornball," Ava said derisively, then laughed to show she meant no harm by the remark.
Liz joined in with her laughter and nodded self-deprecatingly. "Okay."
Ava gathered up her stuff, and with one last smile and a fond glance at this girl that had given her so much in the past two days, she was out the door.
Liz continued to stand there for a moment, her smile lingering. Turning away from the door, her gaze fell upon the clock on the wall above the lockers, and she realized with a start that her shift started in fifteen minutes. She hurried upstairs to get into her uniform, then came back down to start the process of opening the restaurant.
She looked up from her task of upending the chairs from the tabletops when she heard Michael letting himself in the front door.
He nodded a greeting upon seeing her. "Liz."
He continued on his way to the kitchen, and Liz made a face. Conversation was definitely not the man's strong suit.
He paused and turned before going through the swinging door.
"You okay?" He spoke offhandedly, as if her answer weren't truly of concern.
The corner of her lip lifted. That was Michael. Never let 'em see you care.
Nodding, Liz answered, "I'm fine, Michael. Thanks."
He nodded in return and continued on to the back. Smiling, Liz shook her head and moved on to the next chair. Two minutes later, Michael came bursting back through the door. "Where's Ava?"
Furrowing her brow, Liz answered, " She left."
"Left? As in left left?"
"Why?!" He shook his head as if he couldn't believe she would ask such a stupid question. "She obviously knew things, Liz. Things about our past. Did you get any answers from her at least?"
Liz faltered as she realized he was right. She should have gotten some answers from Ava. She knew that he and Isabel had been in the act of prying answers out of the girl when she'd brought things to a halt last night. But things had just happened so fast this morning. She'd caught Ava in the act of leaving and had only been able to delay her long enough to run to the bank. She had seemed reluctant to wait even those ten minutes.
Liz knew though that if she had tried hard enough, she probably could have gotten her to wait an extra half hour until Michael got here.
"I'm sorry, Michael. I didn't think."
"How could you not think, Liz?!" he exploded. Rubbing his hand over his eyes, he turned away from her, obviously trying to keep a reign on his temper. Abruptly he turned back to her. "Even if you didn't think that she might know something about our past, how could you not want to know more about what she told you? About Max changing you?"
"She was wrong," she answered firmly.
"She was wrong," she repeated. "Max didn't change me."
Michael frowned. "What are you talking about, Liz? You did something last night that even Isabel couldn't do. What do you think that was all about?"
"I don't think it was me. I-I think it just had something to do with my connection with Max and the fact that I was connected to Isabel. I was just like a...middle-man or something. But I don't have any kind of power of my own," she said insistently.
He shook his head. "Liz, Isabel felt it. She told me she could tell that it wasn't her energy that formed your connection with Max. You did it on your own."
"No. I didn't. I couldn't. When I went up to my room last night, I tried again. I tried for over an hour, Michael, and I couldn't reach him again."
"You were exhausted. We always are after we use our power for something big. It was too soon for you to try again. And Is had to help you the first time. Max was so far away, and this is new to you. There are a lot of reasons why it wouldn't happen when you tried a second time."
She shook her head stubbornly. "No. I think Ava was wrong. I don't know why she thought what she did, but, you're right, I should have asked. I should have asked her to wait for you. I'm sorry, Michael."
He just looked at her for a moment, unsure what to say. He didn't know what to think about her fierce denial. Should he push it or let it go? He finally decided to just let it go. Max would be home soon, maybe he could talk to her. And who knew, she could very well be right. They had never had a reasonable explanation for the connection she shared with Max. He'd hoped they might finally get some straight answers from Ava if they could just play her right, but nothing could be done about that now.
Shrugging his shoulders, he said as much to Liz. "Can't help that now." Seeing her downcast face, he said more gently, "Don't worry about it."
Nodding her head disconsolately, she went back to upending chairs. Once again, Michael headed to the back and they worked together silently to get ready for opening.
|Part 2 | Index | Part 4|
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