FanFic - Max/Liz
"Strong, Dangerous & Undeniable"
Part 5
by Destinee
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.
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: PG
He wanted them to connect, she thought, in a mild panic. She couldn't let him connect with her, he'd find out the truth about her and Kyle!

She looked up to find him waiting patiently for her to place her hand within his, his eyes questioning her hesitancy.

Okay, what could she do, here? Refuse to do this? No, maybe she could do what Isabel had done when the two of them had connected. Maybe she could close off her thoughts so he couldn't see them. That decided, she focused inwardly. She imagined all her thoughts scattering to a place far in the back of her mind, and closing a door tightly on them. Concentrating on making sure no stray thoughts got loose, she reached for Max's hand.

The usual spark his touch created was overshadowed as the connection formed immediately. Simultaneously, they each drew in a startled breath at what they found.

Max had been anticipating this from the moment he'd suggested it. He missed being able to get this close to Liz. Closer than anyone else had ever been. Even Kyle, he thought bitterly. But he'd entered her subconscious to an utter absence of everything that was Liz. The silence and stillness around him was deafening. Occasionally, the ghost of an emotion would whisk past him, but he didn't try to make them out. One whisper was more insistent than the others, though, and he recognized it without conscious effort. Guilt.

Liz was hiding from him, and it hurt. It hurt almost as much as it had to find her in bed with Kyle. He could tell the exact moment that she felt his pain at what she was doing, and her sense of guilt intensified. It hovered around him in a cloud so thick, it threatened to choke him.

Liz was experiencing her own choking sensation. The moment she'd entered into Max's subconscious, she'd been immediately engulfed by a dark mix of emotions. Frustration, betrayal, anger, helplessness, but over and above it all, pain. A pain so deep, she didn't know how he was managing to function through it. It was horrifying, and it swirled around and inside her, sucking the breath from her.

Her eyes flew open to find his fixed on her. Deep brown eyes, met golden green, with matching expressions of anguish. The longing to hold him and give him comfort was a physical ache. She allowed that wish to communicate itself through the connection without restraint. His hand tightened painfully on hers, and she knew that he'd received the sentiment. It wasn't enough, though. Would any amount of comforting ever be enough to obliterate all this hurt he was carrying around, she wondered in despair.

They each took a deep breath, and mutually agreed to push this into the background, and get back to their purpose in doing this in the first place.

"I'm going to give you a push with my energy, then go ahead and try again to reach Michael," Max said.

Liz nodded to show that she understood.

The warm tingle of pure electricity flowed into her, and she closed her eyes to concentrate once more on contacting Michael.

After several minutes, she heard Max say, "Focus, Liz. Listen for Michael, and then let the energy take you there."

Her attempt to focus most of her concentration on the task of locating Michael while also keeping her emotions hidden away was giving her a headache. Finally, with a brief shake of her head, she broke their connection.

"It's no use, Max. I can't find Michael. I can't hear him like I could you. Maybe you're the only one I can reach."

He accepted the possibility with a nod of his head. "Let me go downstairs, then, and try again." He footsteps seemed impossibly heavy as he moved to the door. "You can try it by yourself, but I think I'll send Michael up in case you need some help, okay?"

"That's a good idea," she agreed quietly.

When he was gone, she leaned forward and buried her face in her hands.

How could she keep doing this to him now that she knew how much it was devastating him? Tears filled her eyes. How could he even think straight with all that seething inside him? That he could consider forgiving her for hurting him so deeply...The two times he had teased her lightly in the past two days gained even more significance. It broke her heart to know how generous and courageous he was being, and a sob tore from her throat.

The sound of someone clearing his throat jerked her attention to the bedroom door. Michael stood there, a look of concern on his face.

"You okay?"

She couldn't answer for a moment, then said sofly, "He's so hurt, Michael," the ache of unshed tears in her voice.

"Who? Max?"

"We connected, and I felt..." she swallowed hard around the lump in her throat. "He's so hurt," she repeated, another sob threatening to escape.

"Well, what did you expect, Liz?" he asked not unkindly.

"I didn't-" she shrugged helplessly. Teary brown eyes appealed to him for something he didn't understand. "It can't be any other way." She spoke as if she would give anything to change it, but it was out of her control.

What was going on with her, Michael wondered for the twentieth time since he'd heard the rumor about her and Kyle. He'd heard her tell Ava last night how much she loved Max. He couldn't believe that she would betray him that way. And if there was one thing he'd learned with his experience with Courtney, it was that things aren't always what they seem. So what was the deal?

"Why not, Liz?" he asked, truly wanting to understand.

Heaving a sigh and closing her eyes, Liz shook her head. After a silent moment, she said, "We- we better get this over with before Max decides to come back up."

Michael studied her from the doorway for a moment longer, trying to figure out what was going on, before finally giving up with a sigh of exasperation.

"You gonna try it by yourself first?"

Liz nodded, then concentrated on forming a connection with Max. It took only seconds before she could sense his presence nearby, the same as she had when she'd felt him pulling up outside the Crashdown earlier. She tried to answer to the pull of him, but again, nothing happened.

Shaking her head to show she had been unsuccessful, she told Michael, "I can't do it by myself."

In answer, he moved to sit down beside her on the bed, and offered her his hand. She snuck a peek up at him to see how he felt about doing this with her, but of course, she could read nothing in his face.

She took his hand and they focused on opening a connection. After a few minutes, nothing had happened.

"Um, maybe it would help if we looked at each other," she suggested. "Max had to do it that way the first time we connected, and Isabel and I did, too."

With a shrug, he turned to face her. Her eyes shifted uncomfortably, before coming to meet his. She wasn't really all that close to Michael, and she wasn't sure how she felt about him being inside her head. Taking a brief moment, she tried closing off her thoughts again.

This time when they tried to form the connection it worked. Once inside, she felt the push of Michael's energy filling her, and she had the brief realization that the energy the three of them posessed each had a distinct and very different feel to it. She listened for the call of Max's presence, and once again tried to answer to it, with no results.

A smile broke across her face, and she sighed in relief. "She was wrong. I told you she was wrong," she said triumphantly.

Michael looked at her in consternation. "What's the matter with you, Liz? I don't get it. You act like this is some disease you don't want to admit you have, " he accused.

"I don't think it's a disease, Michael," Liz scoffed. "It's's- I don't know, it's not...human. You know? I mean, we're talking about something with no scientific basis in fact."

Michael smiled humorlessly. "Not human," he repeated. "Do I need to remind you, Liz, that I'm 'not...human'? Max is 'not...human'. And if he hadn't done what he did to you, you'd be dead right now."

Liz caught her breath at his harshness.

"Maybe we're finally seeing how the perfect Liz Parker really feels about aliens," he sneered.

Her mouth set, she glared at him as her eyes filled with hot tears. She hated when he spoke to her this way. As if her feelings were invalid and incredibly stupid.

Her fear of this thing was irrational and she knew it, but she couldn't stop it. Everything in her life right now seemed beyond her control, and she didn't know if she would ever regain it. She was terrified at the thought that she might even have something inside her own body now that was out of her control. Something unexplainable. Something...alien.

She'd never been bothered by the fact that they were aliens, not after the first day Max told her. But now that it was possible that she could have something alien inside her, it made her look at it differently. And that made her feel guilty. Like she'd been lying to Max when she said it didn't matter. Like she'd only been accepting of it all this time because she hadn't really understood the magnitude of it.

Confusion, guilt, and hurt seethed within her until she couldn't contain them. Liz rarely lost her temper, but something inside her now just seemed to snap, and she jumped up off the bed and whirled to confront him.

"No, Michael, you don't 'need to remind me'," she threw his words back at him in the same mocking tone that he'd used. "Believe me, I've never forgotten for a single second how much I owe Max. And even if I tried for the rest of my life, I could never repay him for what he did. But when he saved me, if he left something inside of me, or-or made something grow in me, whatever, I'm sorry, but I DON'T WANT THAT!" Her voice rose angrily. "If you think that makes me ungrateful, I don't care! Because if it's true, if I've been changed, what am I supposed to do with that? I don't belong with Max. That's been made perfectly clear. I'm supposed to be trying to get on with my life and let him get on with his. But how am I supposed to return to a normal, safe, boring human existence if I'm not even human anymore?!"

Michael was taken aback. He'd never seen Liz angry before, and he was filled with remorse for being the one to push her to it now. She'd been so upset earlier, and he had been feeling really sorry for her, but for some reason this whole denial kick she was on made him feel defensive of who he was. Of what he was. Everything she was saying was true though, and he knew he wasn't being fair to her.

Standing, he put his hand on her shoulder, and implored, "Liz, calm down."

"No! I won't calm down! You think I feel disgust for you because you're an alien? You couldn't be more wrong! The only one I feel disgust for these days is myself!" she spat.

Turning her head, she caught sight of her reflection at the edge of the mirror across the room. She saw a girl who'd lied and betrayed the one person who'd gladly given her everything he had to give. A girl who was acting like a spoiled child right now because she wasn't getting everything her own way.

Anger and shame bubbled up in her until it was a force that begged for release from the confinement of her own skin. Her flesh grew hot, and prickled as if her pores were actually opening wide to allow an escape route.

She didn't like that girl she saw in the mirror. She didn't want to BE that girl!

She threw her hand up in front of her eyes with the intention of hiding the reflection from her sight. Suddenly all the air in the room seemed to be sucked toward the spot where she and Michael stood. Electricity crackled in the air, causing the lightbulb in the fixture overhead to explode, and a wide beam of brilliant blue light shot out from the palm of her hand. The light collided with the mirror, and before it even had time to cast a reflection, it exploded into a cloud of dust.

Michael and Liz both jumped in reaction, and ducked their heads automatically to avoid the dust particles floating down in a heavy cloud. When it was over, Liz began to tremble violently.

"What was that?" Max asked from the doorway, a stunned expression on his face. He'd heard Liz raising her voice and had hurried up the stairs to reach her room just in time to witness the explosion.

Liz didn't act as if she'd heard him speak, so he looked to Michael.

The look they exchanged was long and telling.

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