FanFic - Max/Liz
"Strong, Dangerous & Undeniable"
Part 7
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
Isabel slid the turkey back into the oven and blew a stray lock of hair out of her eyes. Now all she had to do was get the yams ready for the oven and that should be everything, she thought with satisfaction.

As she began peeling the sweet potatoes she thought about how good it was to have Max safe at home, and what a relief it was to finally have all that stuff about Vilondra out in the open. They'd talked about it before he left for the Crashdown to try and find Liz. He'd been so great about everything Isabel felt stupid for keeping it from him for so long. She should have known better. After all, it was Max.

The past couple of weeks had been an enormous strain on them both. Max had never been so angry and upset with her before. She'd known something had been bothering him for at least a month, but after he found out about the Vilondra thing from Nicholas, he'd extended his hostility to include her.

Now, of course, she knew what had been bothering him. He'd found Liz in bed with Kyle. She couldn't even imagine how devastating that must have been.

She still wasn't sure exactly what it was she had seen in the flashes she'd received from Liz. She'd definitely seen Max walk up to Liz's window and see her and Kyle together. She'd heard Liz tell Max that she didn't want to die for him, and she'd heard her telling Tess, of all people, that Steinbeck was Max's favorite author. And it seemed as though some guy was forcing her to do all those things. Some guy who looked a lot like Max.

She was really concerned about Liz, but she trusted Max to know what to do about it. She hoped he and Liz got things straightened out. It was clear that they'd both been miserable without each other. Max had been hard to live with ever since Liz had left him at the cave last spring, but at least he had seemed to keep a sense of hope that they could work things out when she got back from Florida. This past month though, he'd seemed utterly defeated. He hardly ever came out of his room when he was home, and she thought if she had to listen to that stupid Gomez CD one more time, she was going to scream.

She heard someone come in the front door and a few seconds later Max entered the kitchen.

"What smells so good?" he asked.

"Could be any number of things," she said with a smile.

"You're cooking?" he feigned disbelief.

She aimed a glare at him, then answered, "Mom and I thought since you missed Thanksgiving, we'd recreate it for tonight. Everything you missed the first time around, plus your favorite, bread pudding."

His face softened into an expression of affection. "You didn't have to do that."

"We wanted to. It just wasn't Thanksgiving without you. Besides, now we have even more to be thankful for."

Extremely touched, he slid an arm around her waist and gave her a gentle squeeze. Isabel smiled and briefly rested the side of her head against his, both of them feeling an even greater closeness since they'd confessed their fears and cleared up all the tension between them.

Suddenly a look of uneasiness crossed his face.

"You said we were having everything you had on Thanksgiving...Mom didn't make anything weird, did she?"

Isabel grinned. "Well, she wanted to make something called ratatouille, but I appealed to her sense of traditionalism, so we had yams instead."

Max just looked at her questioningly, and she shook her head.

"Something with eggplant. Don't ask."

"Where is Mom?"

"She forgot the peaches for the peach cobbler, so she had to run to the store."

Max wandered over to the refrigerator and got out a bottle of juice.

"Did you and Liz get everything worked out?" Isabel asked as she searched through the cabinets for a baking dish.

Leaning back against the counter, Max studied his juice intently, and picked at the label on the bottle with his thumbnail. "Uh...yeah. We're gonna- we're gonna be friends."

Isabel sent a puzzled glance at the top of his downbent head. "Is that what you want?"

He shrugged.

"Well, Liz is okay, though, right? I mean she isn't being threatened or anything is she?"

Max looked up at her sharply. "What do you mean?"

At his look, Isabel paused uncertainly, then said slowly, "Well, I mean, who was that guy that made her do all those things? Was he a shapeshifter or something?"

He looked at her narrowly and asked, "Isabel, what are you talking about?"

She looked sick as realization set in. "She-she didn't tell you?'

"Tell me what?"

Isabel didn't know what to say. She couldn't believe Liz hadn't told him. What was going on with her?

She hated to divulge a secret if Liz had a reason for keeping it, but what if she was in trouble? She was certain that Liz had seemed as if she hadn't wanted to do any of the things she'd done to Max, but that Max-looking guy had forced her to. What if it had been some kind of enemy who was trying to hurt Max somehow? The best way to get at him would definitely be to go through Liz.

Granted, it wasn't a life or death kind of threat, but ever since Liz had seemingly betrayed Max, his head had been somewhere else. And it was causing him to make impulsive, dangerous decisions like going off to New York with those duplicates.

Looking at it like that, it did seem life-threatening.

"Tell me what, Isabel?" Max repeated more demandingly.

"Max. I-I got flashes from Liz when I helped her connect with you in New York."

He tensed. "What did you see?"

She took a deep breath. "I would respect her decision to keep this from you, Max, but...I'm worried for her. I-I saw someone making her do what she did to you. Telling you she didn't want to die for you, setting you up with Tess. And Max, she-she didn't sleep with Kyle."

She waited anxiously for his reaction.

Max's head was spinning with confusion. Why would someone force her to hurt him? What could anyone gain by that?

He swallowed hard. If this was true, he'd treated her horribly. And all the while, she was being threatened.

"W-why do you think it was a shapeshifter?" he asked hoarsely.

"He looked like you, Max. Only older."

His brows lowered. "He looked like me?"

She nodded.

So was the time-traveling alien a shapeshifter, he wondered. Liz had said she trusted him, but had he tricked her somehow?

Max couldn't make sense of any of it. Out of everything Isabel was saying, only one thing seemed consistent with what he'd found out from Liz. If she was being threatened, that would explain the fear and panic he'd felt from her.

His first impulse was to go tearing back over to the Crashdown to make sure Liz was okay, but Max forced himself to remain calm. He needed more information first.

"Isabel, tell me everything you saw."

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