|"Strong, Dangerous, and Undeniable"|
|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.
|Liz stared sightlessly at the ceiling and listened to the sound of Isabel’s deep, even breathing in the bed beside her. She’d fallen asleep about ten minutes ago, after Liz had given her the bare details of Maria’s dream|
It was late, and they hadn’t discussed it too much, but one thing was really bothering her, and she’d had to ask Isabel what she thought it meant that Maria had dreamed Liz in her place in that whole Crashdown scenario. She hadn’t liked anything they’d come up with. Not because she thought the suggestions were wrong, she just didn’t like it that Maria might be thinking such things.
Isabel had said that judging from the things Maria had said about being invisible, and about Michael denying her flashes while letting Liz in, that Maria was probably feeling pretty displaced in Michael’s life right now. Maybe she felt like Liz had taken something away that should’ve been hers, whether it be the deep insight into Michael or Michael himself. Even worse had been the suggestion that Maria could even be questioning whether this connection could somehow mean that Michael should be with Liz. Maria had made that comment this morning about a future Michael coming back to tell them that. She’d said it sardonically, but things like that often popped up in dreams.
She’d also heard what Michael had said at the club tonight about being unsure of his feelings and wondering who he and Liz were supposed to be.
Liz’s eyes sank closed in pained distress as she recalled that whole lamentable scene. She hadn’t even had a chance to think about what Max must’ve thought when he’d heard Michael’s words. Could he be feeling the same kinds of wrenching uncertainties Maria was, Liz wondered, troubled by the thought.
This whole situation was just becoming intolerable. It was causing all of them so much confusion and pain. The events that had taken place at the club, combined with tonight’s dreamwalking escapades had left Liz feeling guilty and depressed for the most part. But they’d also helped her reach the conclusion that Michael was right. They had to find out what this thing was once and for all. And they definitely had to find a way to control it. She was just going to have to swallow her trepidation and tell Michael tomorrow that she was willing to go along with his experimenting idea.
The thought made her stomach churn with dread. It didn’t help to know that she was going to have to tell Max about it, first. And he probably wasn’t going to like it much.
But even though she wasn’t looking forward to that conversation, she really wanted to see Max right now. So much had happened tonight, and they hadn’t had a chance to talk since the moment Michael had practically dragged them from the banquet hall. She needed to know what he was thinking. The idea that he might be lying in his bed right now having the same kind of tortured dreams Maria had been having made Liz ache to hold him. And she needed to feel the reassurance of his arms as well, as the guilty doubts stirred up by Tess’ dream continued to plague her conscience.
Liz threw a quick glance at Isabel to assure herself the other girl was asleep, then eased out from under the covers, and slipped out of bed with cautious movements. She crept over to the door on silent feet, and just as she was reaching for the doorknob, the sound of Isabel’s voice made her start with fright.
“Be sure and check the hallway first. If you get caught we’ll all be in for it,” she warned quietly.
“Isabel,” Liz whispered in guilty exclamation. “I thought you were asleep. I was just, um...I was kinda thirsty, so I thought I’d- go get some water,” she offered in hasty explanation for her leaving.
Her voice full of quiet amusement, Isabel said, “Don’t even try, Liz. It’s okay. Just- try and keep it down in there, okay? And my parents get up around 9:00, so maybe you guys should set an alarm or something.
Liz stood there uncertainly for a moment. She didn’t want Isabel to think she was being disrespectful of her parents. “We aren’t gonna do anything, Isabel. Just- just talk, is all.”
“It’s okay, Liz,” Isabel said again in reassurance. “You don’t have to explain anything to me.” When Liz continued to hesitate, she prompted, “Go on. Max is probably waiting for you.”
That idea was enough to galvanize Liz’s feet into motion.
“Thanks, Isabel,” she said warmly before turning back to the door.
Smiling slightly, Isabel snuggled down into the mattress and prepared to get back to sleep.
After making sure the hallway was empty, Liz silently stole out the door and tiptoed down to Max’s room. Once there, she lifted a hand with the intention of rapping softly on his door, but was waylaid by a moment of doubt.
Was Max really up waiting for her as Isabel had said, or would he be uneasily surprised that she had come, seemingly ignoring what his dad had said about staying in their proper beds?
Max provided the answer to the question himself when the door was suddenly pulled open in front of her, and he poked his head out to look furtively down the hall before urging her inside.
He pulled her past him into the room, closing the door soundlessly behind her, then turned to smile at her crookedly.
Max was inordinately glad to see her. He’d been lying here thinking about her for the past couple of hours, and he’d been about to come to the disappointing conclusion that she wasn’t going to come.
Blinking in surprise at the swiftness with which she suddenly found herself in his room, Liz stood there wordlessly for a moment.
Shaking her head a little in perplexity, she finally asked, “How did you know I was out there?”
He gave a tiny shrug. “I always know when you’re near.”
Liz’s lips curved up into a pleased half-smile, and they shared a long silent gaze as they got caught up in one another’s eyes.
Liz took note of the fact that his hair looked slightly rumpled, but he didn’t look like he’d been asleep yet. That eased her mind over the concern that he’d been in here having dreams along the lines of Maria’s. But that didn’t mean he hadn’t been lying awake thinking along the same lines, she acknowledged.
The lamp on his desk cast a warm glow over the room, and Liz’s eyes unconsciously dropped to take in his attire. He wore a red t-shirt that looked faded and soft from many washings over a dark gray pair of sweatpants that hung comfortably loose on his lean frame. His feet were bare on the carpeted floor, and her eyes lingered on his naked toes.
She’d never seen Max’s bare feet before. It was ridiculous, but it somehow seemed an intimate sight, blatantly pointing out the fact that they were both dressed for bed, she in a bare minimum of comfortable clothing, and that there was a bed only steps away that they could easily climb into together. After what had happened in the banquet hall of the club tonight, the thought was a little flustering.
Flushing a little, she raised her eyes to his and said shyly, “Um...I hope this is okay. Me coming here, I mean. I know what your dad said before, but I thought- maybe if we just talk it would be okay.”
“It’s definitely okay,” Max assured her. “I wanted to tell you that before you went to Izzie’s room, but I was afraid my parents would overhear. We, uh- we have a lot to talk about. And I wanted to know what happened with the dreamwalk. How’d it go in there?”
Liz made a face, then said with downcast eyes, “N- not all that great, actually.”
“You couldn’t do it?” he asked with some surprise. The sadness in her face prompted him to step closer and lift a hand to her hair in comfort. “It’s okay, Liz. That’s not a big deal.”
Shaking her head, Liz corrected him. “No, I did do it. I just...wasn’t prepared for some of the things I saw, I guess.”
His brows furrowing with concerned trepidation, Max asked, “Why? What did you see?”
Liz sighed with disheartenment. There was so much to tell him, she wasn’t even sure where to begin. Gesturing toward the bed, she said, “Could we...?”
“Yeah. Yeah, sure,” he answered, and they moved together to sit on the bed’s edge.
She sat looking down at her hands without speaking for a long moment, and Max watched her with a slight frown. He hated to see Liz looking so unhappy.
Their night out had pretty much ended disastrously for all of them. He’d been brooding over Michael’s words at the club, and the whole connection thing, himself. And what was happening with Maria was upsetting, especially so for Liz. But if it were possible, she looked even more dejected now than she had outside Maria’s house. It made Max apprehensive about knowing what she’d discovered in the dream she’d gone into. He didn’t even know who she’d dreamwalked.
Reaching to tuck her hair gently behind her ear, he asked quietly, “What did you see, Liz? Talk to me.”
Liz sighed heavily and decided to just start at the beginning. “We went into Tess’ dream first,” she told him, glancing up at him to catch his reaction.
Max didn’t say anything. He just waited for her to continue with a sick feeling in his stomach.
“It started out well enough. I-I think she might have feelings for Kyle.” She went on to tell him everything that she and Isabel had seen in Tess’ dream, ending with the way she’d kissed Kyle.
Max listened with ambivalent feelings about what she was telling him. It seemed as though he’d succeeded tonight in opening Tess’ eyes to the possibility of a relationship with Kyle. That was good news. But it also looked like he’d correctly interpreted those vibes he’d felt from her when they’d gone to dance. She hadn’t given up on the destiny idea.
It made Max feel uncomfortable and disturbed to realize that she’d had an agenda all along.
When Liz had finished relating the dream to him, she waited silently for his reaction. Had it reminded him of duty and responsibility as forcefully as it had her?
“Well,” Max said slowly. “It’s obvious she wants to give up on the destiny thing. We just have to help push her along. Keep doing what we’re doing. You know, just...do what we can to keep throwing her and Kyle together, and see what develops. And, I need to try and make it clear that all we’ll ever have is friendship. I thought she’d finally realized that...” he trailed off, shaking his head in frustration.
“But what about what Nacedo said, Max? About how you two need to be together- for your people. Maybe for our people too,” she ended faintly. The words tasted like ashes in her mouth, but the worry that they might be true had been reawakened in her and wouldn’t be suppressed.
“No.” His hand came up to the side of her face and gently turned it up towards his.
He’d been feeling disquieted and slightly uncertain over the connection business ever since Michael had said what he had at the club, and Max couldn’t bear to know that Liz might be feeling unsure as well. Especially not when it was over Tess.
Looking into her eyes, he said reassuringly, “That’s only what Tess thinks, Liz. It was just a dream. And- even if Nacedo really has told her that...he didn’t know me. He knew Zan, and that’s not who I am now. If I’m ever going to be any kind of a leader for anyone, I have to have you by my side.” He brought his other hand up to stroke over her hair before coming to rest on the curve of her jaw, framing her face between his hands. “You’re the best of everything that’s inside me, Liz. You know? You make me think, and- you help me see things from a different perspective. You keep me calm and rational when I get frustrated... and if I do something stupid you aren’t afraid to call me on it.” He grinned slightly, and her lips tipped up in response. “When I have you beside me I feel like I can do anything.” He looked at her intently and shook his head. “Tess can’t give me any of that. Maybe- maybe that’s part of the reason why Zan failed, who knows? All I know is that I need you, Liz. You’re my greatest strength. How could that not be what’s best for my people?”
As he saw the worry fade from her eyes, Max began to feel better himself. Everything he’d just said was the truth. He and Liz completed each other. There was no way either of them were meant to be with anyone else. If Michael thought his connection with Liz meant anything different, he was wrong.
Liz looked at him with shining eyes. This had been one of those perfect things to say to soothe her fears that Max was always so good at, and she was profoundly moved by his words. He made her feel as if she were essential to him. There was still the question of whether or not their being together would be to the detriment of the people of Earth, but they would be able work that out somehow. Max was right. As long as they were together anything seemed possible.
Love, thankfulness, and appreciation swelling her heart, Liz stared into his eyes with adoration as she carefully brought her hands up to cup either side of his neck, and stretched up to close her lips softly over his. They parted moistly in immediate response, and their mouths moved together with gentle reverence in an expression of love so stirring and pure it brought a lump to Max’s throat. His hands flexed slightly on her face, then pulled her in closer, and he tilted his head to slowly deepen the kiss.
Liz pressed up against his side, tipping her head at an opposing angle to widen his access to her mouth, and threaded her fingers through his hair to hold him close. Their movements were so slow as to seem almost tentative as they continued to kiss with a passionate tenderness that wrapped them both in feelings of reassurance and a sense of security in their love for one another. Their tongues twined together with warm, languid strokes, and each thrusting sweep sought a deeper contact than the one before. Max’s brows drew together in an expression of intensity as he tried to absorb all the emotion that was pouring from Liz’s lips, and returned them to her in full measure.
A low rousing heat began to simmer deep in Liz’s belly, and with it came the gentle springing to life of their connection.
The warm tide of Max’s emotions came washing over her. A sweet, heady mixture of love, need, and desire that was somehow both soothing and stimulating. After only a moment she began to see a quick series of flashes of the two of them earlier in the banquet hall, and her pulse rate escalated. It made her feel flushed all over to recall their heated encounter, and her fingers curled around the hair at the nape of his neck at the remembered pleasure of it. The memory of how their tryst had ended urged her to caution- they didn’t want a repeat of things getting out of control and her energy going berserk- but Liz was loathe to bring this to a halt. They both needed the affirmation it was providing.
When she gently broke away from the kiss, Max smoothed his lips over the hollow of her cheek without pause, and she tipped her head the slightest bit as he worked his way downward.
“Max,” she breathed, her senses spinning, as he slowly mouthed the sensitive skin between her neck and jaw. “We should...we should be careful,” she warned vaguely. When she got no response other than that of his open lips gently bathing her throat, she elaborated with stammering breathlessness, “So my...so my energy- doesn’t go crazy again.”
Max could hear her words, but he was lost in the taste of her and the rain of her emotions through the connection, and his brain wasn’t quite connecting them.
“Right,” he answered mindlessly, as he closed his lips over hers once again. Despite her words of caution, her mouth opened easily under his and welcomed him back.
This kiss contained more heat than the first one, as the hunger from earlier in the night began to reawaken in each of them. Their breathing became a little heavier as their tongues curled against one another’s, tasting sharply of desire. Heads swaying subtly with the passionate movements of their mouths, their hands moved to try and pull each other closer, though the position they were sitting in would hardly allow it.
Max began to receive various flashes of the things that had happened to Liz during that day. He saw her and Michael confessing to Maria about their connection, he felt the sadness and distress she’d felt as they’d worked their shift together, he could feel how touched she’d been when he’d told her how he’d learned to play pool, he experienced again their arousing dance at the club, then, the later happenings in the banquet hall.
He sucked in a deep breath as he was hit with the intensity of what they’d been feeling then, and his hands clutched at her and tried again to pull her closer. Thwarted in this a second time, he gently began to lower them both to a reclining position on the bed.
Unthinkingly, Liz followed him down, heart skipping as he seductively sucked her bottom lip into his mouth for a brief moment once their backs hit the mattress. Max leaned over her, bracing himself on an elbow, and cupped the other hand lightly over her ear, as his lips ardently moved on hers.
Liz wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back with ever-increasing hungriness. It took a moment before it registered in her passion-fogged brain as she lay against his sheets, but when she became aware of the intimacy of where they now lay and how quickly things were intensifying between them, caution reared it’s head again.
Reluctantly pulling her lips from his, she whispered between light gasps for breath, “Max- we were...only gonna talk. R-remember?”
Reminded of where they were, and the assurances he’d given his parents, Max hesitated before dropping the kiss on her jaw that he’d been about to place there. His lips lingered there sweetly, then with a great effort of will, he reigned himself in, and slowly pulled away.
The banked fire in his eyes as he looked down at her made Liz catch her breath, and she wanted nothing more than to pull him back down to her lips. She pulled in a deep breath and called upon her powers of restraint.
“You’re right,” Max finally answered, sighing, and lowered his forehead to hers.
Liz slid her hands up and down his back soothingly, and after a long, calming moment he lay a soft, but brief kiss on her lips, then propped himself up on his elbow beside her. Resting his cheek on his hand, he gently began sifting through her hair with the other.
“So. What should we talk about?” he asked, lips quirking wryly.
Liz gave a quiet huff of laughter and after a moment, suggested shyly, “Well, since the situation sorta brought it up...maybe we could talk about what happened at the club. In the banquet hall, I mean.”
Thoughts of that episode upped his blood pressure a little, just when he’d begun to get it down to a safe level. Swallowing, he said, “Uh- I’m not sure thinking about that right now is such a good idea.”
Liz flushed slightly. “I meant the part about our energy.”
Max made an expression of comprehension.
Her brows furrowing in puzzlement, she asked, “What was it doing, Max? Do you have any idea what would’ve happened if we had... um- you know, kept going?”
Max shook his head. “No idea,” he said apologetically. “But, it was really- strong. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt my energy reach that kind of level before.”
Liz looked up at him, her eyes dark with an expression of apprehensive foreboding. “I have,” she said ominously. “When Michael and I did the energy blast together.” Max looked at her in mild astonishment. “I mean, it didn’t get quite that strong tonight, but... it felt like it was headed that way. That day at the quarry, it- just kept growing inside me until it felt too big to contain, you know? That’s what it felt like tonight. Like...your energy was feeding it somehow. And if we had- gone any further...” Liz swallowed.
It was kind of scary to imagine what it would’ve done if they’d continued with what they’d been doing. It seemed as though it would’ve needed an outlet of some kind if it had grown to the kind of proportions it had at the quarry. The question was- what kind of an outlet? Considering what they’d been doing, one obvious answer came to mind, and Liz blushingly felt a wave of heat at the prospect. But how could making love dispel it, and why would- making out even activate it in the first place, she wondered with bewilderment.
Apparently Max was thinking the same thing because he asked, “Why would it do this now when it never has before, though? I mean, even back when-“ he dropped his eyes almost bashfully, then looked back at her with an endearing earnestness, “when- we found the orb, and things got so intense, nothing like this ever happened.” They were both lost in silent thought for a moment, then he said, “It seems like it only started happening after you did the energy blast with Michael.”
Looking at him intently, Liz said, “So you think this is me? Something I’m doing?”
“I’ve been thinking about the powers we’ve found out you have so far,” Max said by way of explanation. “And it seems like, not only are you able to do whatever we can when you’re connected to us, but you can also, like- amplify our powers. Use them in a way that’s stronger than what we can do ourselves.”
He looked at her with a question in his eyes as though asking if she agreed with what he was saying.
Looking thoughtful, Liz nodded her head. “Yeah. I think you’re right. So- are you saying this thing tonight was coming from you, and I only amplified it?”
Max sighed. “I don’t really know which one of us it was coming from, Liz. We are going to have to be careful of it, though. At least until we find out what it’s gearing up to do.”
He couldn’t deny that he was pleased over the possibility that their energies were capable of attaining a strength that was every bit a strong as her and Michael’s were together. It eased his stress over their connection just a little more.
Liz yawned widely, and Max looked down at her with a half-smile, brushing her cheek tenderly with his thumb. “You must be worn out. It’s been a pretty stressful day.”
She turned her face towards his caress, prompting him to cup her cheek more fully within his palm. “Yeah, I guess I am kinda tired,” Liz said in vast understatement. It had been a really stressful day, and she was exhausted. But she was reluctant to leave Max just yet.
“We still have so much to talk about though,” she said appealingly. “Could we just...lay here and talk for a little bit longer?”
Brushing her hair behind her ear with a slight smile, Max nodded. “Sure we can. Do you wanna- get a little bit more comfortable first?” he asked. His arm was getting tired of acting as a brace for him, and he needed a change of position.
Liz was agreeable, and the two of them crawled up towards the middle of the bed. Liz lay back down at his side, and he wrapped his arms around her to hold her close, their heads side-by-side on his pillow.
Liz lay on her side and fixed her eyes on his profile, sighing with contentment. She would love to spend the night here with him like this. But they really did need to talk some more. If she was going to go to Michael tomorrow and give the go ahead on exploring the connection, she needed to tell Max about it now. It felt so peaceful lying here in silence with him, and she hated to ruin that, but she didn't want to keep this from him.
She only hoped he would be receptive to the whole idea.
|Part 39 | Index | Part 41|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|