|"The Mission "|
Disclaimer: I don’t own nuthin’. (Tho I do now officially own my car, which is kinda cool. Heh.) |
Summary: A companion piece to my missing Destiny scene, Common Bonds.
Authors Note: And on the first day, it was all one story. And, lo I asked for feedback and Blanca the Brilliant wrote unto me, "My initial impression is that the piece might be stronger with only one point of view (obviously Liz's would make the most sense)." And I was mournful. But then she wrote, "Okay, this is the really sweet part that I would hate to see cut out if you went with an all Liz point of view. I'm a sucker for the mushy stuff." And hence the idea was born to spilt this into two separate fics. Thanx, as always, to Addie, who is just the coolest chick on the planet.
|"…so I’ll head to the Valenti house and deal with the guy Pierce sent there." Max could tell that no one was thrilled with that part of the plan. Himself included. But it was him or Michael and Max was a little worried about what Michael might accidentally do to Kyle. None of them had been able to sufficiently explain how Michael had stopped that truck. Including Michael. |
Just as Max was about to go on, Michael voiced the group’s concern. "Are you sure it should be you? Maybe I should…" Max felt everyone’s eyes on him and he squeezed Liz’s hand as much to reassure himself as her.
Well, how do we split her up, exactly? Every other week? Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, alternate Saturdays?
Then a hazy image of him and Kyle on Liz’s balcony floated through Max’s mind and he couldn’t quite stop the smile that crept onto his face. "No, I’ll go. We’re drinking buddies, remember?" He wasn’t surprised that no one laughed at his half-hearted attempt at humor, but he felt a slight easing of the tension in the room.
They were going over the plan -- his plan -- for the millionth time, ironing out every detail and trying to spot any potential flaws. He knew how risky this was, that the tiniest slip-up could cost the life of one of the people in this room. Doubt surged through him again, as it had been doing regularly since he’d first suggested this. He didn’t know what he would do if something happened to one of them…
He closed his eyes briefly and was assaulted by another image, this one of Agent Pierce, his face mocking as he leered over the operating table. And his voice --
Open him up.
-- as he sentenced Max to death. There wasn’t even a trace of hatred. It was all just business as usual for good old Agent Pierce. As if he, Max, was just one more science experiment.
A frenzied madness burst forth into Max’s heart, crushing any lingering doubts he might have had about what they were planning. Although this undeniable fury was new to him, he was growing more and more accustomed to it with each passing second. He would not hide anymore. Pierce was going to pay for what he had done. Not just to Max, but to all of them.
He was the cause of the terror that had put that haunted look in Maria’s eyes. And the attempted kidnapping that had ripped away Alex’s confidence. There was a hardness in his sister’s lovely face that had not been there even three days ago. And a weariness in Michael’s demeanor that Max had never seen. Even now, as they stood talking, Kyle’s life was in danger because of this man, this so-called alien hunter who didn’t seem to have any qualms at all about going after humans.
But it was what he had done to Liz -- wonderful, soft, kind, beautiful Liz -- that Max could not get past. It made his blood boil and his vision turn red with rage. It was Pierce’s fault that Liz regretted Max saving her life. When she’d said that, he’d felt as if someone had reached inside of him and pulled out his soul. A thousand images of what his life would have been without her flashed through his mind in that moment.
And the rage had begun to grow.
Max felt Liz tremble beside him. The physical reminder of her presence stemmed the tide of his anger. She was the calm in the midst of his storm, a soothing balm to his heart and soul. He knew he couldn’t live without her. As much as he loved Isabel and Michael, Liz was his lifeline.
Although Max continued to speak, outlining this plan that would hopefully bring some semblance of normalcy back to their lives, most of his mind immediately focused on her. He let go of her hand only long enough to wrap his arm around her tiny waist, hugging her small body against his. He didn’t want her to ever be scared. It had broken his heart when he realized that she had seen what they had done to him. She shouldn’t have to live with that kind of pain. Or any kind of pain for that matter. Her life should be sunshine and roses 365 days a year.
And that was why they had to do this. Why this had to work. Once all of this was over, once they’d gotten the FBI off their backs, Max was going to make Liz Parker’s happiness the sole mission of his life. He would make her forget these last two days if it was the last thing he ever did. Nothing was ever going to come between them again.
"Someone’s going to have to stay with me." Tess’ voice brought Max’s attention back to the present. Her eyes were on him as she spoke. His stomach churned at the pull he still felt towards her. He loved Liz with everything he was. Why wasn’t that enough?
Their love was the purest, most beautiful thing he had ever known. It had sustained him through everything that Pierce had done to him. Through the endless hours of pain that had seemed like days. Through the waiting, and the terror. And yet even now, even after all of that, even after he’d finally said those words to her, finally told her everything he’d known to be true since the first day he’d laid eyes on her, he still felt this inexplicable attraction to this girl he barely knew.
It killed him inside when he thought about it. He didn’t want to feel anything for anybody except Liz. And in his heart, he didn’t. It was only his body that was drawn to Tess. But he could fight that. He would fight it. Because he loved Liz. Every part of his mind and spirit ached for her. When he’d kissed Tess, he’d felt disoriented, confused. But when he was with Liz, he felt calm, safe. Complete. And that was worth more to him than a thousand destinies.
It was Liz’s voice that pulled him out of his thoughts this time. "I’ll go," she said quietly, but resolutely. Those two words brought the entire room to a standstill.
A wave of terror gripped Max’s heart at the very idea. Risking his own life was one thing, but he couldn’t bear the idea of anything happening to her. He spun her around to face him, his eyes searching hers, pleading with her to change her mind. "No. You should go to the museum with Alex and Maria."
But when she placed her small hand on his arm and looked up at him, he knew that she meant it. He saw the strength of her that he had always loved. That he had drawn on even before he’d really known her. And he recognized that fire of determination in her eyes, the same as the day she’d come to him and said she was going to the Reservation, whether he liked it or not.
Her voice was soft when she continued, meant only for him. "Alex and Maria can handle that on their own. And Michael and Isabel have to play decoy. I’m the only one left." He tore his eyes away from hers to look at the others because he knew he wouldn’t be able to resist her wishes any more than he had the last time.
He met each gaze and silently begged for someone to say something. Someone had to convince her that she couldn’t do this. But no one came to his rescue and he was forced to return his eyes to hers. "I don’t want anything to happen to you." He knew his voice was shaking, but he didn’t care. Pierce had shown him in graphic detail what he could do to her. What he would do to her, without even a second thought.
The warmth of her smile melted his resolve, as always. "I’ll be fine. I promise." He felt himself getting lost in her eyes again. How could she even be thinking of putting herself in danger again? Didn’t she know by now that he couldn’t live without her? "I promise," she repeated, just before her lips grazed his, sending a wave of love running through him.
He swallowed hard after she pulled away, his eyes still not leaving hers. He didn’t want to let her go. He wanted to lock her up here until it was over and they could be together in peace. But he saw the plea in her eyes. She needed to do this, he realized. She’d been hurt just as much as he had by everything that had happened. Yes, he wanted his life back. But he knew that wasn’t the only reason he’d started this. He needed to take some kind of action. He couldn’t sit back and wait anymore. How could he deny Liz the release that he couldn’t resist himself?
Max nodded almost imperceptibly. He pulled her in for another kiss, relishing this last moment of being able to protect her. When he let her go, his voice was steadier. "Okay." Max took another look at everyone, his eyes finally settling on Sheriff Valenti, searching the older man for any trace of doubt, any sign that his trust might be misplaced.
"Are you sure you’ll be able to get Pierce to the museum?" After a long moment in which Max could feel the Sheriff appraising him in return, Valenti nodded.
"I’ll deal with Pierce. You just take care of my son," he said, his voice tight with concern. Max knew what the Sheriff was really saying. It wasn’t a threat, although Max suspected Michael might take it that way. They were making a deal. If Max rescued Kyle, the six -- no, it’s seven now, he remembered reluctantly -- of them would never have anything to fear from him again. He would protect them with the same fervor with which he had once sought to expose them.
Their eyes signed the pact and Max squeezed Liz’s hand to let her know it was going to be okay now. He would protect Kyle and the Sheriff would protect all of them in return. "Let’s go," he said after another moment. There was nothing more they could do here; it was time to get started.
Max turned to the others, Liz’s hand still clenched tightly in his own. He glanced at Tess, wondering if she would get it now. If she would ever understand that he would never love anyone but Liz. He would protect Tess because she was one of them, but he would never love her. His eyes locked with hers briefly and he could feel that sickening lust wash over him, but he pushed it away. He didn’t want it; he never had. His eyes were cold as he looked at her, a warning of what he would do to her if something happened to Liz.
He didn’t let go of Liz’s hand as they left the mine. He didn’t know for sure what was going to happen in the next few hours, but it didn’t matter. Whatever happened, he would be with Liz. Nothing would ever tear her from his arms again.
Nothing and no one.
|Part 0 | Index|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|