|"Eye of the Beholder"|
Disclaimer: Roswell, the characters, and situations are owned by the WB. No infringement intended.|
Summary: Max doubts his humanity
|Background : |
In the Roswell High #4 and #5 books, Max was dying. He had to connect to the collective consciousness of his home world in order to survive, and this required that he use the communication crystals stored on the crashed alien ship. After the gang retrieved the crystals, Max was able to connect, and to survive. During his connection to his homeworld, Max met his real alien parents who were a part of the collective.
During RH5, an alien teenager uses his powers to completely alter his appearance, to that of a young girl to escape from a compound where he is held by guards. When Liz hears about this, she wonders what Max really looks like.
Max stood in his bathroom, staring at his reflection in the mirror. "Damn, I'm a good looking guy", Max thought to himself. The only problem is the reflection looking back wasn't quite Max's face. It wasn't quite a reflection of Tom Cruise either, but it was a good attempt. Max lifted up the issue of rolling stones with Cruise's face on the cover, and held it next to his own. "The eyebrows and the nose still aren't quite right", Max thought to himself. He stared intently, and begin to push the molecules around a bit, sharpening the nose, adding a little fullness to the eyebrows. "Hmm, a little better,", he thought to himself. He had been at this for over an hour, and still could not get it quite right. The change was a slow process, and hard to hold, but it was one of his favorite powers to play with. Just then there was a knock on the door, and Max/Tom looked over his shoulder to see the door opening, and he freaked. He quickly grabbed a towel from the rack, and wrapped it around his head. "Uh, just a minute", he said, as his sister Isabelle, walked in to the bathroom. "Geeze, you scared me, I thought you were mom or dad", said Max at he let the towel drop away. Isabelle couldn't help but giggle as she looked at what Max had been up to. "And who exactly are you supposed to be?", she chided, as she reached for the magazine Max had been holding. "Not bad, I kind of see the resemblance", she said. "Tom Cruise after falling on his face from a 20 story building?". "Very funny, but I'd like to see you do better", said Max.
Isabelle closed the door behind her. "Seriously Max, what the hell are you doing?". "What if I had been mom or dad?" "Shouldn't you at least lock the door if you are going to be doing that?"
Max set down on the toilet, with his hands to his face. And when he took them away, he was Max again. "Do you ever wonder why we look the way we do?", he asked, ignoring her question. "What do you mean?", she said. "I mean with a little effort we can look like whatever we want for awhile, but we always come back to these bodies", he said. "Why is that, why do we maintain these forms without effort?". "You think too much", she said. "I'm not going to ask questions though, I'm pretty happy with my looks", she said as she turned in front of the mirror. Isabelle reached out, and ruffled Max's hair, then picked up her brush, and started to walk out the door. "Get some sleep Max, and quit obsessing", she said as she left.
Max stood up, and again faced his reflection in the mirror. Since he had connected to the collective consciousness of his planet a few weeks earlier, he had been obsessing on his physical human appearance. He had seen images of his people, brilliant energy beings that moved with thought. He thought for a minute, about what Liz would think if she knew what Max really looked like. "She'd be out of here in a minute", he thought to himself. Max stared intently at his own reflection, and pulled his ears in a little closer to his head. Michael, his and Isabelle's friend, and the third survivor of the crash always teased him about his ears. "No, it looks better the other way", Max said.and let his ears go back to the way they had been. Then he shut out the light, and went to his room and closed the door.
Liz set in the chair next to her bed, flipping through the pages of a book she had picked up that day from the local library. The book was filled with images of large headed bug eyed aliens with leathery grey skin. She had watched the Fox mock-umentary about the Roswell alien autopsy a few years ago, and laughed at it then. That was before she knew that the stories about the crash were real though, and way before she fell in love with one of those aliens. Max had risked his own life, and those of his friends to save hers. She loved him so deeply that it almost hurt. Still, she wondered what Max really looked like. Would she have loved him if he weren't Max, but one of those bug-eyed creatures. "Probably not if he looked like that when I met him", she thought to herself. "I'm not that deep of a person", she thought. Still Max was so perfect though. His eye, his hair, his body, everything about him was just so handsome. And she loved his sense of humor, and his spirit. She loved that he risked everything for her, and she loved him.
She had heard the stories though about Michael's escape from the compound. How he had manipulated the features of Adam, the other alien teenager, to look like the guards 10 year old daughter, to distract him while they escaped. "I wonder what Max looks like when he isn't looking perfect", she thought. She glanced down at the open book in her lap, and noticed that the page had opened to a picture of a particulary mean and nasty looking alien. The picture looked liked a crocodile in a space suit. She half laughed, nervously, and closed the book. "Am I that shallow that a person's looks matter?", she wondered. Liz stood up, then crawled onto the bed, and fell asleep with images of Max's smile dancing through her head.
Max got up from his bed, and went out into the hall. He pulled the door shut behind him slowly, so it wouldn't make noise. He walked to the bathroom, opened the door, went in, and locked it behind him. Max stared at his reflection in the mirror. He began to push his features around again, knowing he could get it right if he just tried. He picked up the Rolling stone magazine from the floor where he had left it earlier, and began to shape his face into Tom Cruise again. "I have to concentrate on the nose this time", he thought to himself. The molecules in his face began to move as he focused his power on himself. Just then, there was a knock on the door, and Max looked over his shoulder. The door began to open. "Hey Izzy, I locked that for a reason", he said, as he turned back to the mirror. Something still wasn't quite right with that nose. "Hey Max", he heard Liz's voice say. Max turned around surprised to see Liz standing there. Liz raised her hands to her mouth, and screamed. "Oh my God", she yelled and ran from the room. Max turned around, and saw his reflection. His skin was green and scaly, his eyes bulging and huge like tennis balls. He gasped, and saw the rows of sharp dagger like teeth that filled his mouth. He raised his clawed, and three fingered hand to his face, and mouthed the word no, but all that escaped from his lips was a vile hissing sound. "Liz, I have to protect Liz", he thought, and turned and left the bathroom. The door to his parent's bedroom opened, and he saw his father holding a gun aimed at his head. "No dad, its me", he wanted to say. But no words came. Only more hissing. His father raised the gun, and he heard his mother screaming from the bedroom.
He watched in slow motion as his father pulled the trigger…… Max set up in bed, and screamed "No". He realized that he had only been having a dream.. His body was soaked with sweat, and he was nearly panting with fear. Max lay back down, and raised his knees to his chest and began to slowy rock himself back and forth, as the tears welled up in his eyes. "I'm not even human", he thought to himself. "Everyone I love would hate me if they knew what I was". Max felt so alone, so ashamed. He hated being different. He hated being alone. "Liz, if only I could be like you, to deserve your love", he thought. Max fell asleep eventually, still tightly curled into the fetal position. His face wet with his tears.
Max knocked on Liz's door, and waited for her to answer. The door opened, and she stepped out, and pulled it closed behind her. "Morning", she said, as she kissed him hello. "Hey", Max replied. Liz backed away, "Hey. Is that all I get- Hey?, she asked. "What wrong, you look like you didn't get any sleeep". "Nothing", Max lied, "I was just up late studying for the English test." They walked down the sidewalk holding hands on their way to school. "Max, I was wondering if I could ask you a personal question?", Liz asked. Max cringed at those words. He looked Liz in the eye, and said "sure, go ahead". "I was just thinking last night about how you and Micahel and Isabelle are able to change your looks", she started. "I just wondered what the people on your planet look like naturally?". The color drained from Max's face, and he stopped. All of his nightmares, and his insecurities came crashing in on him in an avalance of emotion. Liz noticed the sudden silence, "I'm sorry, did I ask the wrong thing?", she asked. "No", Michael said, "No, it's not the wrong thing, and no I don't really know what the people from my planet look like" "Do you think I'm really a lizard wearing a Max suit?" , he asked nervously. Liz laughed at Michaels joke, "You never know do you?", she said, and smiled as she took Max's hand and began walking again. Max's heart sank at those words.
Max was sitting alone at lunch thinking about his dream, and about Liz's questions. Luckily Liz had first period lunch, so he wouldn't have to deal with her right now. Micahel came and sat down next to him. "Hey man, you look like crap!", Micahel said. "Gee thanks.", Max replied. "What's wrong, talk to me", Micahel said a little more seriously. "I lied to Liz this morning", Max said. "She wanted to know what we looked like, what our people looked like, and asked if I knew", he said. "I told her I didn't". Max had in fact shared everything he could remember about his experiences with the collective consiciousness with Micahel and Isabelle. It was something they would have to experience on their own, of course, in due time. "Why would you do that, man", asked Michael. "Are you afraid she wouldn't want to get next to you if she knew you looked like a living lighting bolt, under that Max face?", he asked. "She asked me if I was really a giant lizard", Max said. Michael began laughing at that, and almost choked on the milk he had been drinking. "Well, you are kind of reptillian", he said, choking now on the milk he had swallowed wrong. Max just looked at Micahel. Michael instantly realized that Max was hurting, and that he was not helping. "Hey Max, I was just joking", he said, "Why are you worried about this anyway?".
"Why do we look the way we do, like humans, I mean", Max said. "Why do we have these faces, and these bodies that we can't really change permanently". "I don't know Max, I've never thought about it before:, Michael said. "I wouldn't worry about it". "I can't help it", Max said, "I just love Liz so much, and if she knew that this wasn't even really me, would she still be there?". "I think she loves you Max, not the way you look", he replied. "I hope so", Max said, as he stood up, and walked with his un-eaten lunch towards the kitchen. Michael just sat in silence looking bewildered, as he watched Max walk away.
After school, Max waited in the hall by Liz's locker. She finally got there, and Max bent down to kiss her. Liz turned away, with an annoyed look on her face. "What's wrong Liz?", Max asked. "I just don't feel like talking to you right now, and certainly not like kissing you", she replied. "I talked to Izzy at lunch today, and she told me how you had told her all about your experiences with the communication crystals". "She shut up when she realized you hand't told me about it, and that hurt." "Why don't you trust me enough to share that with me?", she asked. Max just stood in awestruck silence staring at her with his mouth open. "Liz, I…", he began. "Never mind, Max, you don't want me to know, so I won't press you", she said as she slammed her locker shut, and stormed off. Max's worst fears were realized. Liz was going to push him to see who he really was, then she would never want to have anything to do with him again. He began walking forward, but his legs and feet felt like they were made out of lead.
He caught up to Liz, who was waiting for him by the door way. "I just don't see why you can't…", Liz began. "Look Liz, I've been thinking about this a lot", Max cut her off.. "I don't think we should see each other anymore". "I want to be your friend, but not your boyfriend", he said. "Max, I don't …", she began. "Bye Liz", Max said as he walked off. Liz stood in shock, watching Max move away from her. The tears began coming now, and she put her hand over her open mouth in disbelief. She watched Max until he walked out of sight, and he never even turned back to look over his shoulder.
Isabelle opened the door to the house, and yelled, "Max, where are you, I want to talk to you". No answer. Isabelle shut the door and began to head up the stairs. She paused when she heard a whimpering sound coming from the other room. She set her books down, and turned the corner and walked into the living room. Max was sitting there on the couch with all of their mother's photo albums spread on the coffee table in front of them. Izzy noticed how red Max's eyes were, and could see the tears on his face. "Max, baby, what is it, what's happened?, she said, as she slid in next to him. She had heard what a jerk he had been to Liz, and had meant to tell him off about it, but now her only concerns were to comfort her brother. She put her arm around his shoulder, and pulled his head down towards her chest. She held him like that for a few minutes, and just let him cry. Finally he seemed a little calmer. "Max, what is it, talk to me", she said. "I broke up with Liz", he finally managed to get out. "I broke up with Liz". She hugged him tighter. "Max, why, what happened?", she asked again. "What are we doing here?," He asked. "Why did our parent's bring us to this place, didn't they know how dangerous it was?". "We aren't even human Izzy, why did they do that to us". "Max, I'm sure they loved us, and wanted us with them when we broke out of the incubation pods", she said. "I'm sure they loved us". "Is that what you were talking about last night, when I blew you off Max?", she asked. "I'm sorry Max, I didn't know it was bothering you so much". Isabelle didn't understand what exactly was bothering Max, but she began to feel a little nervous, wondering if there was something he knew that he had not yet shared. "Did you see something in the collective that bothered you Max?", she asked nervously. "I saw mom and dad there Izzy, I saw our people all around me", he said. "We are just solid energy Izzy, we don't even have real bodies like these humans". Izzy was a little shocked at what Max was saying. This was the first time she had ever even heard Max talk about humans like he wasn't one. Sure they, and Michael had always known they were different, but she had not really thought about it. They all 3 had lived pretty normal human lives, until Max had saved Liz's life in the diner shooting.
Izzy noticed the album that Max had been holding, and saw that it held the baby pictures that the Evans had taken of them when they first were adopted. She knew the following pages contained pictures of her and Max over the next few years. "Why were you looking at this", she asked. "Have you ever noticed how different I look, how different my looks became over the years?", he asked. Issabelle glanced through the pictures. Max was right, but she had never noticed it. Baby Max, and toddler Max were both a pale little blond hair kid with bright eyes. After the kindergarden school picture, Max's hair began to darken along with his complexion. His features had changed somewhat too, though you could still see some of the "now" Max in those early pictures. But you would have a hard time believing that kid in the pictures would turn out looking like Max. "I don't know Max, but you are one heck of a handsome guy", Liz felt silly saying this to her own brother. "Really, Izzy, I don't think so", he replied. "I'm an energy blob that can become solid enough to move things around", that's what Max is. "I don't even know who this is". Issabelle was at a loss for words, so she just hugged Max tighter, and began rocking with him.
Liz came to the Evans' front door, and started to knock. Then she almost turned away. She settled on a compromise, and just walked in. She walked up the stairs and headed towards Max's room. She wasn't worried about his parent's being home since she knew they worked late on Mondays. She opened the door, and saw Max laying on the bed, with his knees tucked up against his chest. "Max, we need to talk", she said, as she sat down on the bed next to him. "I'm not good enough for you", Max said. "You need to find a nice guy to fall for, a nice human guy". "Max what are you talking about", Liz asked. "I love you", she said, "You are the most human guy I know, and the most sensitive and caring person I have ever met". She put her hands on Max, and pulled him over so she could see his face. "Max, what is this about", she said. "I don't understand where you are coming from, or why you broke up with me, or why you won't talk to me". "I'm sorry Liz", he said. Liz was taken back by how sad and desolate Max seemed to her. He pulled himself up on the bed into a sitting position, and Liz hugged him. "Just talk to me Max", she said.
"I know I'm not human Liz, I've always known that", he said. "I don't know what I was thinking, when I thought that such a beautiful person like you could ever love a monster like me". "What are you talking about Max?", she asked again. "Max, you are the most beautiful person I have ever met, and I'm not just talking about your looks", she said. "You are sensitive and intelligent, and I know beyond a doubt that you care for me. The way you risked everything to save me". Max looked at Liz with an expression of doubt on his face. "You don't even know what I am Liz, doesn't it bother you that I'm not human?", he asked. "Max, will you listen to me for a minute?, It doesn't matter at all.:, she said. Since I met you in our first day of kindergarten, I've known you were special. I remember taking you hand that day to say hello, and knowing then how special you were", she said. Max remembered that too. How he had touched Liz, and had seen a wave of happy images pass through his mind. That had been the first time he had ever "connected" with another person. Though he did not know what it meant at the time. "Why did you suddenly decide you wanted to know what I really looked like then?", Max asked nervously. "Does it scare you that this isn't really me?", he asked. "Max, no, of course not", she replied, "I just wanted to share everything with you, and that's a part of who you are, a part of who I love". "Ok, Liz, I will show you then", he said.
Max reached under his bed, and took out a small cardboard box. He opened it, and took out the communication crystals that would allow him to connect to his home world. took Liz's hand in his own, and pulled her closer to him. She felt warmth, and a kind of tingling sensation where their skin was touching. "Are you sure you want me to touch your mind like this", he asked. "Yes, I am very sure", Liz said. "Then just relax", Max said, and let it come naturally. "Don't be afraid". Liz relaxed slightly and closed her eyes. Suddenly she felt like she was floating up into the air, and she opened her eyes suddenly. But all she could see was blackness. She felt herself begin to panic, and squeezed tight against Max's hand. She looked down in the darkness to where she knew she should be able to see their hands, and saw a faint glow where she felt the warmth. As she watched, the glow spread up Max's arm, and suddenly his whole body was illuminated. But it wasn't really a body, more just a glowing thing. Max was light, a beautiful glowing blue, the color of lightning, and warmth came from his light body, and warmed her. Then the light being that was Max, raised his head and looked up. Liz could still feel her feet on the ground, but at the same time she felt a sensation of rising even quicker into the air, as Max pulled her along. All she could see in the entire universe was the beautiful light creature that held her hand.
Out of the darkness, ahead she saw a fuzzy blue glow, growing ever closer as they sped towards it. Suddenly they arrived. The light spread around them, and filled Liz's vision entirely. She could barely even make out Max against the brilliant blue haze that surrounded her. "Liz, do not be afraid", Max said, but he was no longer speaking words. Rather he though that and she heard him. The overpowering blue glow begin to separate, and she realized now that it wasn't a single thing, but rather a multitude of light beings like Max surrounding them. Max still holding Liz's hand reached out with his other, and two light beings separated from the group, and came and took the outstretched hand. Instantly Liz's mind was filled with images of her childhood, sitting on her mother's lap reading stories together in front of the fireplace, the strength of her father's arms as he hugged her and lifted her over his head, all images that represented her parent's love for her in her mind.
Liz realized suddenly, what these images meant. The two light beings holding Max's hand were his parents. "How can that be", she began to wonder. Suddenly, she felt a new flood of emotions filling her mind. Regret, and loss from these two, mixed with the same feelings of love that she had felt from her own parents. Then yet another new feeling, that she couldn't quite describe. She felt welcomed, or maybe accepted. It was a little confusing. The two light beings that were Max's parents now moved around him, and on either side of Liz. So that she was entirely surrounded by the light and warmth, and happiness that they shared. They briefly touched her mind, and she then realized that these two beings were offering her their acceptance, and were glad that Max had found her. A feeling of peace surrounded her, as Max pulled her closer to him, or actually into him. Then light began to fade. Liz finally remembered the sensation of her own feet on the ground, and opened her eyes.
She was back with Max now in his room, and he was standing in front of her in the flesh. "Max, that was so beautiful", she said. "Those were your parent's weren't they?", she asked. Yes, Max said, they were. "But how is that possible?". "They had touched the collective consciousness, and they are a part of it now", Max said. Even though their physical bodies died in the crash, their consciousness survived. "That is so wonderful", Liz said "I felt so accepted, so warm, but I felt regret at the same time". Max, pulled Liz closer, and kissed her.
Max felt good for the first time in days. He tightened his grip on Liz, and pulled her close to him. "Liz, you are my world", he said. Liz smiled, and kissed Max again. "There was something that I wanted to ask you about", Max said. "When I was seeing the images from your mind, I saw myself as you see me, but I could tell that image was something you had carried around for a long time, even before we got close", he said. Liz looked a little uncomfortable. "Max, I know this may sound strange", she began. Max laughed, "Liz remember who you are talking to". "Ever since I was a little girl, I had a picture in my mind of the man that I was going to fall in love with", she said. "It was just a little girl thing I guess, but I used to fall asleep thinking of him". "I was never quite sure if I was projecting that onto you, or if you were becoming more like that guy, but it used to confuse me how much you looked like my dream guy", she said.
Suddenly, it hit Max. He knew why he looked the way he did. "Liz, I got that image from you that first day we met when we were kids", he said. "I remember it now, but never realized it before." "I think I must have sub-consciously spent my entire life shaping myself into that image, for you". The implications of this struck Liz. "So in effect, I created you in my image of the perfect guy", she asked? "Yeah I guess so", he replied. "They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder Max, and you are the most beautiful person I have ever met", she said. Max was almost glowing with happiness now. "Liz, I couldn't have had a more perfect image in my mind of you", he said. They leaned back on the bed, still arm in arm, and lay there looking at each other. No words were needed, as they spoke volumes to each other with their eyes.
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