|"Taking a Step Back "
by Mary N.
Disclaimer: Roswell, the characters, and situations are owned by the WB. No infringement intended.
|Michael and Maria enter a shared dream for the first time. As they look
around they are surprised by what they see. They are standing in a secluded
desert location, under a sky full of stars. A few yards to their right is a
elaborate oak canopy bed, which has a white plush comforter on it, and on the
comforter lays bright colored petals of a fragrant bouquet of flowers.
Michael moves behind Maria. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he whispers "This isn't something you see everyday."
"Defiantly not, but in a strange way it works." Maria closes her eyes, and concentrates on the aroma around her. She tries to identify the mixture of smells, she identifies roses, violets, ylang-ylang "Do you know what it reminds me of?"
"What?" Michael can't imagine that this could remind her of anything. It sure doesn't him.
Maria turns to face Michael, smiling brightly. "You!"
Michael's eyebrows raise as he looks at the scene in front of them, and then back into Maria's eyes. He looks perplexed, "Me, how does this remind you of me?"
Maria still smiling at him, answers, "Simple, you like things that are a strong contrast. Really sweet with really spicy."
Michael smiles and shakes his head back and forth. "Fine, I can see it now, it's simple, yet erotic. Sweet and spicy." Pulling Maria in tighter against his chest, he declares in an endearing voice, "For the same reasons I love you!" He picks her up like a sack of potatoes and makes the short journey to the bed. Maria is kicking and playfully hitting him on the back the whole trip. . Michael tosses her onto the bed and starts tickling her.
While laughing really hard Maria cries out, "Stop, Michael Stop."
Michael stop long enough for her to catch her breath, and starts up again, but only briefly this time. He lays down on the bed facing Maria. "I knew that you would be ticklish."
"And are you ticklish?" Maria sits up, she looks like a cat that is about to strike.
"Not me." Michael rolls over on his back and rests his hands behind his head. "Your welcome to try."
Maria's not sure whether or not to trust him. She decides that she's going to find out for herself, but not the way he expected. She learned long ago, from the times Liz and her had ticked Alex, the most likely place for him to be ticklish was the inner thigh. She was right, she got him, he is ticklish.
Michael quickly sits up and grabs Maria's wrists. Maria tries to pull away, but to no avail. When she finally calms down. They end up staring deeply into each others eyes. Letting go of her hands he runs his hands up her arms and rests them on her shoulders. Pulling her down with him as he lays back on the bed, Michael draws her lips to his for a tender kiss. They have found the place they both feel most comfortable in the world, in each others arms. The time for play is over, they desires to share this night together. Here in their dream their anxieties are gone. Here there are only the two of them, no one else to consider. They are now only thinking about sharing their love completely.
Maria knows that this is the right time and the right place for their union. Nothing has ever felt more right. She closes her eyes as she feels Michael's hands wonder to places not ventured before. His touch is slow and patient. He strokes her skin as an artist works the canvas of a masterpiece.
Before Maria, Michael felt his life was meant to be spent alone. As he holds her in his arms, he fells blessed to have found someone as special as she is. *************************
Liz and Max have moved out on her balcony under the blanket of stars. Liz knows that Max will have to leave shortly; that her parents will be wake soon. However, she isn't ready to let him go, she wants to delay his departure as long as possible. Liz leans back into his chest as they share the lawn chair enjoying the new feeling of being complete.
Max also desires to stay as long as possible. He's not worried about his parents. He knows Isabel will cover for him. He has waited what seems like most of his life for the moment and he is in no hurry to leave Liz's side. He feels that there is so much for them to talk about, and yet it feels unnecessary to say anything at all. He knows Liz feels the same way. He slowly strokes Liz's jaw line running back and forth from check to check, occasionally drawing his finger across her soft lips.
As the sun raises in the sky they both know it's time for him to go. They smile lovingly at each other, and with a short sweet kiss Max says. "I love you Liz. I'll be counting down the seconds until I see you again." Standing up from the lawn chair, Max moves to the fire escape. Before he begins his decent he turns and tells her, "Take it easy today, and I'll see you when I get off work."
Michael and Maria are laying in each others arms. Neither wanting to ever return to reality. The are both pondering over how special this night has been. Their connection has increased their understanding, as well as their acceptance of each others differences. For the first time Michael feels complete, he feels like he has found the place he belongs.
They find themselves standing under the stars in the same place as Michael had his vision when he was ill. Maria didn't recognize it, but Michael did. On the ground in front of them they see the symbol from the pendent. Maria feels the inspiration to walk to the path on the right. Michael walks to the path on the left, they both knew what to do, it was as if it was instinct. They walk to the end of their path, meeting near the center, then reached for each others hands and stepped into the center. Michael looked down and realized that they were rising above the symbol, and then they heard a voice saying, "And two become one. Through love there is acceptance. Look for similarities, respect differences'
They both wake up laying in Maria's bedroom in her bed. Maria's head is resting against Michael's chest.
Max is at work, he is working on a new exhibit about some recent crop circles. He really didn't want to be at work today. He wanted to spent this Saturday with Liz. All he could think about was her, and how it felt to be so close to her. To feel her flesh next to his flesh. To hear her heart beating He also had a strong feeling that he and Liz needed to talk to the others about what happened in the end of his and Liz's shared dream. As much as Max wanted to leave work, he felt obligated to stay. Milton had given him all of last whole week off after he heard what happened at the Cafe last Saturday. It just didn't feel right asking for another day off.
Max was brought out of his thoughts when someone touched his left arm. Max turned around to see who it is, and is surprised to see Kathleen Topolski. "Ms. Topolski?"
"Hello Max. You sound surprised to see me." "I suppose I am, I didn't expect to hear from you so soon."
"I came to warn you. Four days ago one of Teomner's guys spotted a man tailing your sister. He's also been spotted tailing you and Michael. I've tried every avenue at my disposal to find out who he is. Whoever he is he's good, I haven't been able to find any record on him. It's like he doesn't exist. Teomner has also tried through his connections. He can't get to this guy. It's like he's a phantom. Whatever you do, be careful."
Max was thinking about what she had been saying, and wondered if Nasado had come back. Subconsciously he said his name out loud. "Nasado."
"Excuse me, what did you say?"
Max looks up at Topolski and realizes that he said it out loud. "Nasado."
What does that mean"
Realizing that she's never heard the name before, he decides to keep it to himself. "Nothing, it's just a word that Michael, Isabel, and I use. It means not good. Can you tell me when we will be able to meet with Teomner again. We have lots of questions for him."
"I talk to him, but I'm sure he'll want to wait until this other situations is taken care of." Ms. Topolski turns and leaves.
Max watches as she leaves. He looks deep in thought.
Liz has been struggling today. The pain in her shoulder has been unbearable. She walks into the Kitchen, pulls a glass from the cabinet sets it on the counter. Walks to the fridge and pulls out the milk. She fills the glass and returns the carton to the fridge. She reaches for a prescription bottle on the top of the fridge, removes the lid and dumps one pill into her hand. After putting the lid back on the bottle she returns the bottle to its' previous location. Placing the pill in her mouth she takes a drink of her milk.
Slowly she walks back to her room. Changing her mind she sits down on the couch and turns on the TV. She closes her eyes and tries to relax. Picking up the control she turns the TV back off, it wasn't helping. Her thoughts drift back to Max and their night together. She had thought about him and their night throughout the day. She never thought that things between them could feel this perfect. And for the first time since their connection she felt at ease. It was like the sense of urgency to bond with Max was over. She felt complete, their bond made her complete, Max was her other half and now they are one. As she laid on the couch she could feel his presence getting closer. She careful moved from the couch, not wanting to jar her shoulder any more than necessary. She moves to the door and opens it. Max is standing at the door with his hand raised as if preparing to knock. Max was surprised to say the least, but he still takes the time to notice that she is wearing her hair is down so that it frames her face. She is dressed in a red and white striped button down shirt which is opened revealing a red cotton t-shirt underneath with a pair of relax fitted jean. "Liz, how did you know I was here? I didn't...."
Liz interrupts, "Max, I could feel you. I knew you were on your way." She reaches out taking his hand in hers. They walk quietly to her room. They went to their usual corner for a lengthy passionate kiss. "I've been thinking about you today." She confesses.
Max taking a good look at Liz sees her pain. "Are you okay? Has something happened since I left?" A realization hits, "It's your shoulder isn't it?"
"I'll be okay Max, don't worry the doctors said that it would be sore for a while. I just took something for the pain before you arrived. It won't take long for it to kick in."
Max not wanting to see Liz uncomfortable offers a solution as he leads her to the bed. "Liz I know we can't risk me completely healing your shoulder, but I'd like to try to heal it enough to ease your pain. He watches as she nods her head in consent. "I'll need to see your shoulder." Max gently removes the sling from her right shoulder, not wanting to disturb her left shoulder. He eases her shirt off her left shoulder and slides the strap of her t-shirt to the side with his left hand which allows him to peeling back the medical gauze that covers her wound. He holds his right hand over her wound and concentrated on what he is doing.
Liz can feel heat coming from Max's hand and the pain in her shoulder subsidies. As Max moved his hand away she looked down to see what he had done. Her shoulder didn't look any different than when he started. With a puzzled expression on her face she looks to Max for and explanation. "What did you do Max? It looks the same, but the pain is gone."
With a saddened look on his face he answered. "I mended the inside tissue. We'll have to let the rest heal normal. You have to remember to still wear this thing for a while." Max points to the sling. Tears began to well up in Max's eyes. "Liz, I didn't realize how painful this really was, why didn't you tell me how bad its been? You've been leading me to believe that it was no big deal. I don't want you to feel that you have to hide the truth from me. I can't help you if you don't tell me the truth."
Taking his hands in her own she smiling thankfully. "Max, I didn't want you to feel any worse than you already were. I'm sorry I deceived you." She moves her shoulder, showing that it feels better. "Believe me really sorry. If I'd known that you could ease the pain without leaving any traces of what you did, I'd have asked you to do it when I left the hospital."
"No the doctors probably would have noticed that I wasn't in any pain and would have tried to figure it out. It's still safer this way. And knowing that the pain was for a good reason, protecting you, made it worth it."
"No more secrets, right Liz."
Liz agrees, "No more secrets."
Max fastens the gauze back to her shoulder. It's important that they maintain appearances. Liz pulls her shirt back over her shoulder and puts her arm back in the sling. Liz looks a lot more relaxed now.
Max remembering her first statement after they entered to room decides to tease her for a moment. "So you've been thinking about me today? What have you been thinking about should I ask?" He knows what he's been think about all morning, until Topolski showed up. He smiles as she playfully strikes his arm. "What you've been dreaming of hitting me. Is this a common thing you? I was hoping you were thinking of something more, dreamy."
She giggles briefly and responds, "Dreamy's right, That's all I've been thinking about. Right now I would love something more dreamy, along the lines of dessert."
"Dessert sounds good." Max pulls her tighter against his body, and leans in so that his forehead touches hers. "Thinking about you has distracted me most of the day as well. How am I supposed to get any work done when I can't get you out my mind." Max takes her lips hungrily with his own. When they break for air, Max feels it's time that he tells her what he has found out today. (No secrets.) "Liz, we have to talk seriously for a moment. First Topolski stopped by the museum today. She says that we're all being followed. They know who the guy is, I suspect it could be Nasado. She said that there's no record on this man, and that Teomner hasn't been able to get to him either. I didn't tell her about Nasado, it's weird; something didn't feel right. I wish I could explain it. There's something else we need to discuss.
Liz watches as Max stands up, walks over to the door, looks to make sure the coast is clear, and returns to sit beside her. "Liz, we have to tell the others about last night."
"If your sure Max." Liz looks doubtful. "I am assuming that you don't mean everything that happened last night. You wouldn't share all the details, would you? Although you know, they're going to realize that we had sex? Are you sure you what to divulge that information to them?"
Max turns a little red at the thought of his sister and their friends knowing every detail of their night together. "No, I don't mean everything. I mean what happen at the end of the night. And Liz, I think it's a safe bet that they already know... what we did last night."
"They already know?! How would they already know?" Liz looks perplexed.
"Yesterday, I filled Michael in about the connection, and Isabel was the one who woke me up last night. She also had questions about the connection. I had to fill her in, and when I left for your place. Well, I am sure she knew where I was going."
"Okay, it's a safe bet to say that they all know. So how do you want to handle this?"
"Can we have everyone meet in the Cafe after close tonight?"
"I don't think that will be a problem. I'll tell my parents that you guys are stopping by to say hello and visit for a while. I'll bring my radio down, that way if they decide to check on us; they won't be able to over hear what we are talking about, and it will make things seem more normal if we are being watched."
"Sounds like it could end up being more of a party than a meeting. Do you think your parents will go for the idea?"
"I think they would rather every one came here instead of me meeting you guys some where else. They'll go for it." Liz looks confident.
For the rest of the afternoon Max and Liz talked about everything and about nothing. They simply enjoyed each others' company.
Max and Isabel walk into the Crashdown. The place is almost empty, all that remains is a couple sitting in the front corner booth. A women looking to be in her mid twenties, slender, with long brown hair. Her companion, a gentlemen also in his twenties, medium build, with short blonde hair. Max and Isabel both take note of them as they walk past heading to a booth close to the kitchen. They figured the more distance between this couple and themselves decreases the likelihood of being overheard.
Maria walks up to their booth. "Max, Isabel, can I get you anything while you wait?
Max looks to Isabel, she just shakes her head no. "Where fine Maria, have the others arrived yet?"
"Alex and Liz were down here a while ago. I think they went up stairs for something. I'm sure they'll be right down. I haven't seen Michael yet. I'm sure he'll be here soon. Can you tell me anything more about what this meeting is for?"
"Don't worry Maria, it's nothing bad. There are some things that we need to discuss. Things that involve all of us." Max attention moves to Liz as she and Alex appear through the kitchen door. He stands to his feet allowing Liz to slide into the booth, he then sits on the edge.
Alex plugs in the radio on the counter and turns it on. Then he slides in beside Isabel who has slid over to make room for him beside her. They each to take each others hand. Isabel smiles at Liz, "Hello Liz. How's your shoulder, is it still bothering you?"
Liz looks over at Max, she wondered if he told his sister what he had done. She was hoping that he would give her a clue, but realized that he couldn't, Isabel was watching him to closely. Liz figured it's best to play it safe, "Yea, it was really bad for a while there, but it's better now."
"I'll be right back." Maria says as she walks away from the table. She walks over to the door, locks it, and flips the sign to read ‘SORRY WE'RE CLOSED.' She than strolls over to her last customers, pulling her order book from her pocket. As she lays their check on the table she asks, "Is there anything else I can get for you tonight?"
The gentlemen answers "Thank you were fine."
Maria hears a knock on the door and turns to look. Michael is standing at the door smiling a crocked smile at her. Turning back to her customers, "When your ready to check out. Let me know." She turns her attention back to the door and Michael. She walks back to the door unlocking it and holding it open for him. He briefly holds her hand while he takes a quick look around the Cafe. He smiles at Maria, letting go of her hand, and moves to join the others grabbing a chair from a table close by. He sits facing the back of the chair resting his crossed arms on the back of the chair. "So what's this all about Maxwell?"
"Hey Michael, it stuff we all need to talk about. So if you don't mind we'll wait until Maria can joins us."
Maria locks the door, and walks toward Michael and the others.
The woman calls, "Excuse me, miss."
Maria turns on her heals and approaches the table.
The women motions toward the gathering of friends and inquires, "What's all that about, do you often let people in after you lock up?"
"No, not normally, those are some friends of mine."
"Doesn't your boss get upset at your friends hanging around while your closing up?"
"No he's okay with it. One of my friends is his daughter. We figure he would rather we met here than out on the streets somewhere." They nod their heads in acceptance to her explanation.
"He sounds like a cool guy to work for." offers the man.
"Yea, I suppose he is." Maria notes that they look like they're done eating. "Are you ready for me to ring you up?"
"Sure." answered the man. Maria turned and lead the way to the register, collect their money, and let them out. She rushes to join her friends.
Maria stands behind Michael and rest her hands on his shoulders. "I hope this doesn't take long Max. You know I still have to clean this place up before I can get out of here tonight."
Michael looks really impatient. "Okay Max were all here now. What's up? Why the meeting?"
"Topolski stopped by the museum today. She said that we have to be really careful. We've been being followed by someone. Someone that neither her resources of Teomner's have been able to identify. I think it might be Nasado."
"Nasado? He's back. We can finally get some answers about what happened and about Our parents. We've got to find him." Michael is excited.
"Michael I want that too, but you have to remember I don't know for sure this is Nasado. It could be someone that is really good about hiding their tracks. Even if it is Nasado, we don't know anything about him. Can we trust him, Why has he stayed away for so long, and what happened to Atherton. Back to Topolski, I didn't tell her about Nasado, something about telling her didn't seem right. I've been trying to figure it out."
"That's smart Max. Think about it, if Teomner hasn't been able to sense Nasado, then either he doesn't want him to or it's not him."
"Isabel's right, so what do you suggest we do Max."
"We need to get a hold of Riverdog. He's the only one that can help us sort this out. We're going to have to be very careful. I don't think Topolski knows about Riverdog, and for now I want to keep it that way."
"Why don't you think we can trust Topolski and Teomner, they saved Liz's life, remember?" Maria questions.
"We don't know that for sure. They said they did. That's what we know." Answers Michael, "Has anyone realized that if Topolski knows that someone else is following us. That means she's still has people following us. That's scary, none of us have noticed. Right now there could be someone watching us. We have to be careful, very careful. Trust no one other than each other as I've always said."
"Excuse me?" Maria sounds upset.
"Anyone out side the six of us alright, happy?"
"That's better." Maria now looks satisfied.
"There's still one other that we can trust, Riverdog. The sooner we see him better off we're going to be." Their all in agreement. "That's the first thing we needed to talk about, the Second thing is the connections that we've been making with each other. I've explained what I know about the connection to Is and Michael. Have you two explained it to Marie and Alex?"
"Maria knows." Michael smiles over his shoulder at Maria.
"I filled Alex in earlier." Alex puts his arm around Isabel's shoulders. She leans her head over on his shoulder and smiles at him.
"Good, well Liz and I have more to tell you. Before our dream ended. We found ourselves somewhere that I have seen before, but I can't seem to remember where it is. Anyway, On the ground was a symbol, the same symbol that is on the pendant. Michael was right, it does stand for love and unity." Max looks at Liz.
Liz continues were Max left off. "It's more than that, we both knew what to do, it was like a ceremony, a marriage ceremony. After we went through this ceremony. We received a message. The message was, ‘You are one, let love be your strength.'
Maria speaks up, "Ours was different." She suddenly realized that she just announced to Liz and Max what her and Michael had done. She blushed and looked down at Michael.
Michael was shocked to say the least. He couldn't believe that Maria had just as much announced that they and been intimate. However, he figured under the circumstances it was important to tell the others what their message was. "Our message was, ‘And two become one. Through love there is acceptance. Look for similarities, respect differences'
They all turned to look in the direction of the kitchen, when they heard a loud bang. Max, Michael, and Alex move quickly to the kitchen to investigate. Michael was the first to enter he went straight to the back door. "The doors secure." Max and Alex moved around the kitchen cautiously. No one finding anything, they returned to the front of the cafe. They moved hesitantly back to their seats.
"We didn't find anything" proclaims Max
"Now I know we didn't all imagine it. The question is who was it, one of Topolski's people, the unidentified man, or it could have even been my mom or dad? Do you think whoever it was overheard what we were talking about? Liz looks a worried, right now she is more scared that her parents heard. It wouldn't surprise her if one or both of her parents came down to check on her. They have been checking on her a lot since her return from the hospital.
"Lizzy, I know what your thinking. If it was your parents, and they overheard and understood our conversation, do you think that you would still be sitting there? Or at the least, that Max would still be sitting there?" Maria knows Liz's parents better than any of them. She knows that Liz's parents would have stormed the room, not disappeared into thin air.
Alex chimes in. "The question still remains who made that noise, and where did they go, what did they hear."
Just then they hear a light tap on the window. They all jump, then turn to see Kyle standing at the door, then they breakout laughing at their reaction.
Liz taps Max on the shoulder. "Let me see what he wants."
Max stands up, allowing Liz to slide out of the booth.
She moves to the door and unlocks it allowing him to enter. "Hey Kyle, what are you doing here?"
"I saw you guys through the window. I thought that I would stop by to say hello. I hope I'm not interrupting anything important." He says trying to be funny as he moves further into the cafe, towards the others. "Seriously, what are you all talking about. You looked really serious before I knocked on the window." Kyle looks around the group waiting for someone to speak up.
"Oh you know Kyle, school, teacher, who's dating who, the typical gossip. They've been catching me up on what if missed at school." Liz had a feeling that Kyle would believe her. He had often heard Maria and Liz talking about those things in the past. He wouldn't have any reason to question the truthfulness of her statement.
"Kyle, so what brings to this neck of the woods?" Michael tries to ask nonchalantly.
"Me and some of the guys where out shooting hoops. I was on my way home when I saw the lights still on. I figured I'd stop bye, see how Liz is doing."
"That's great Kyle, I'm doing better. Thank you. Hey guys this was supposed to be a party remember. Maria, can you get drinks for everyone?"
"Yea, hon. No problem." Maria heads over to the soda machine.
"Max, can you help me in the kitchen for a moment? I need help carrying down the stuff my mother sat out for us. Max quickly follows Liz into the kitchen and up the stairs. "Max, we have to get rid of Kyle. I have an idea, and I need your help." She explains her idea while they gather some snack food for their friends.
They walk back into the cafe carrying chips, dip, a bag of cookies, and some popcorn. "Here's what we have. Lets have some fun. I am through talking how about some dancing?"
Max reaches over to the radio and pulls a CD holder out of his leather jacket. The CD is Celine - All the Way, a decade of Song. He inserts it into the player and selects track 11. We hear "If Walls Could Talk." Max walks over to Liz, "would you like to dance. Liz nods yes. Max delicately takes Liz into his arms. They sway back and forth to the music.
Alex stands and takes Isabel's hand leading her away from the booth, and into his arms.
Maria has to give Michael a few nudges, she is grateful when he finally gives in.
Kyle shifts uncomfortably, he realizes that he's like the third wheel in this group of couples. As he watches Liz and Max dance, and hears the words of the song, he begins to wonder if their is more between them than he'd suspected. He notes that they are holding each other very intimately. [She had never let me get that close.] Felling a rage of jealousy, he tries to turn his attention to the other couples. His attention keeps wondering back to Max and Liz, his eyes end up fixed on them, watching them as they dance. Feeling really uncomfortable, Kyle is ready to clear. When the song ended he was grateful and took the opportunity to excuses him self. "Hey guys, I really just wanted to say hello. Liz, I'm glad to see you up and moving around. Max, don't let her over do it. I think I should be on my way. See ya around."
Kyle walks to the door, followed by Liz and Max. She felt bad for making him feel uncomfortable, but it had to be done. "Kyle, why don't you come by tomorrow for lunch we could visit more then." She suggests as a peace offering. Kyle doesn't look to sure if she's serious. "I would enjoy the company." Liz pleads trying to convince him.
"Sounds good, I'll see you tomorrow." With that Kyle pulls the door open and steps out into the night. Max locks the door behind him.
Walking hand in hand, Max and Liz head back to the others. "So where were we before the interruptions? Asks Max.
"We were dancing. Just one more dance Max. Then we'll get back to business."
Max looks tempted, but not convinced. They really need to finish talking about what's been happening to them. They need to figure out what all this means. Liz slides her hand under the back edge of his shirt. Meeting her gaze with his own, he knows he's lost. He wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything but her right now anyway. "One more dance, we want to make sure he's gone after all.
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