FanFic - Max/Liz
Part 3
by Danilise
Disclaimer: Roswell, the characters, and situations are owned by the WB. No infringement intended.
Summary: Michael is missing, and Max and Isabel need to find him before it's too late.
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: PG
When he arrived at the Crashdown Café that evening, Alex Whitman found Liz and Maria huddled together in one of the booths. Alex was in a good mood, having just fixed a tricky bug in his latest programming project. He grinned at the two girls who had been his best friends since grade school. “So what are we doing this evening, Parker, DeLuca?” he said lightly. He was about to launch into a description of his recent success when he stopped, taken aback by their grim faces. Hoping he was misreading their expressions, Alex gave them a silly two-thumbs-up sign. “I can see we’re having a good time?” Maria sniffled in response. “Okay,” Alex sighed. “Tell me what’s going on.”

“Michael’s missing,” Maria stated baldly. “Max and Isabel were afraid and went to find him.”

Alex sat down in confusion. “So? Why do you both look like death? I mean, nothing’s happened right? And anyway I thought Michael was like that. So what’s the big deal? Wait. Did you say that Max and Isabel were afraid?”

“I’ve never seen them like that before,” Liz confirmed in a voice barely above a whisper. “They’re usually so in control, you know. I’m just afraid that something bad is going to happen.” She clenched her hands together to stop them from shaking. “I’m afraid for them. For Max.” Her voice broke.

Seeing that Liz’s tears had set off Maria again, Alex groaned. “Don’t start too, Maria. I don’t understand females at all. For two supposedly rational human beings, you guys are losing it over something that isn’t even fact. Look. I’m sure everything is okay. Liz, Maria, just calm down. Tell me what happened from the beginning—“

Before either Liz or Maria could answer, they heard a knock on the window. Isabel and Michael stood outside the Café, silhouettes in the gaudy light cast by the Crashdown’s tilted-UFO sign. Michael was barely able to stand and looked like hell. Isabel was trembling so hard she couldn’t speak.

“Oh my god, oh my god,” Maria kept repeating as she flew to the door to let them in. “What happened?!” She helped them to the nearest booth, sliding on to the seat beside Michael. She couldn’t resist running her hands over his face to make sure he was all right, with all his features in the right place, even if they were bruised and swollen.

Realizing that Maria wasn’t going to be much help, Alex took charge. “Lie down or lean against the wall or something, Michael,” he ordered. “Isabel. Sit. Tell us what happened. Liz, do you have any bandages?”

Liz dashed to the back of the restaurant to find the first-aid kit. She brought it back to the booth and dumped its contents on the table, sifting through the bandages and bottles for what they needed. As she searched, she kept an eye on the door, expecting Max to follow Isabel and Michael into the Crashdown. Minutes ticked by. Realization slammed through her when Max didn’t appear. Liz’s suddenly nerveless fingers dropped the plastic bottle of alcohol she was holding. She watched it bounce crazily across the floor until it came to rest against the wall. Then her wide, frightened eyes sought Isabel’s. “Where is he, Izzy?” she whispered.

Isabel choked on a sob. Everyone froze. No one in the room could remember the last time they had seen Isabel Evans emotional before, let alone in tears. Alex moved first, putting his arms around her shaking shoulders, trying to comfort her. Maria followed suit. Even Michael found the strength to reach a hand towards Isabel. Only Liz remained rooted to the ground, separate from the rest of the group, her insides churning with fear. “Please,” she begged. “Isabel. Tell me. Where’s Max?”

Isabel lifted drenched eyes to meet Liz’s. “He’s still there.” Isabel buried her face in her hands. “He was shot getting Michael out.”

Wrapping her arms around herself, Liz gasped for air. “And you left him there?!” It felt like her lungs were on fire. She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t think.

Isabel sobbed harder.

“Lay off, Liz,” Maria snapped, rubbing Isabel’s shoulder. “They were obviously in no shape to mount a second offensive.”

Still gasping for air, Liz backed away from the group. Then she turned and ran out of the Café.

Maria stifled the urge to follow her best friend. Looking down at Michael, who had lapsed into unconsciousness again, Maria knew where her priorities needed to be. She had to remain calm. She had to help Michael. “Isabel,” she said. “You have to pull yourself together. You need to heal Michael.”

Swiping a hand over her eyes, Isabel nodded and bent over Michael’s prone form. She positioned a hand over his rib cage and the worst of his internal injuries. A couple of minutes later, Michael’s eyes fluttered, then opened wide. Maria released the breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding.

Michael’s eyes tangled briefly with Maria’s. His face softened. Then he seemed to remember what had happened, and he broke eye contact with Maria to scowl at Isabel. “Why did you do it?” he demanded.

“Save your life?” Isabel sounded confused.

“No! Why did you and Max come find me? It was bad enough that they had me. But they had no proof on me.” Clearly feeling better, his cuts and bruises already fading, Michael got up from the booth and began to pace the length of the Crashdown. “But they had stuff on Max. Liz’s dress from that day he saved her. The hard suspicion that we switched blood samples at the hospital. They knew they had something on Max. They would’ve let me go. They would’ve tired of it.” He slammed his fist into the counter. “They wanted you to come. They wanted Max. And now they have him.”

Running a hand through his spiky hair, Michael resumed pacing. “This is so typical of him. Why is he always so damn protective? Who appointed him our fearless leader anyway? I’m completely fed up with the way he can be so condescending. He always thinks he’s right, always tells me what to do. I was doing fine in that warehouse, even if I didn’t look like it. I may have had a plan even. But would he think that? No. He doesn’t trust me. He thinks he’s got to be a damn super-hero all the time.”

Isabel was beginning to get angry on Max’s behalf. “Michael. What did you want us to do? Just leave you there? You’re being irrational—“

Michael snorted in disgust. “You can be just like Max sometimes, Isabel. Both of you put down what I say—“

Isabel was angry now. “We do not, Michael. You’re being unfair—“

“No, I’m not, Isabel. And you know what else? It’s not my fault we’re in this mess, with everything out of control. You’re always thinking things are my fault. That when things get out of control, it’s my fault. But this whole situation isn’t. It’s Max’s fault. He broke the rules we made when he healed Liz and then told her what we are. We should’ve left Roswell two years ago, when the first human found out about us. But Max didn’t want to leave Liz, so we’re still here. We should’ve just left then—“

“Shut up, Michael,” Isabel hissed, seeing Maria’s and Alex’s stricken faces. “We all wanted to stay. There were good reasons to stay. It wasn’t just Max—“

“No, Iz. It was just Max. If he hadn’t been so stuck on Liz Parker, we would have left. This would never have happened. Think about it. Max’s fatal flaw – his love for this human – is killing us. I told him that we shouldn’t get involved with them, but he didn’t listen, and now we’re paying for it.” Caught up in pouring out all the hurt, anger, and fear he was feeling, Michael didn’t hear the wounded-animal sound that escaped Maria as she leapt up from the booth and hurtled toward the door of the Café.

Liz, who had walked back into the Crashdown sometime during Michael’s outburst, stopped Maria in mid-flight. “Don’t go, Maria,” she said quietly. “I need you.”

“I can’t, Liz. I can’t be in the same room with him. Did you hear what he said?” Maria’s voice throbbed with betrayal.

Liz nodded, her eyes sympathetic. “I heard. But please don’t go.” Liz walked away toward the others, letting Maria decide for herself whether she wanted to stay or not.

Gathering her courage, Liz faced Michael, Isabel, and Alex. She drew a deep breath, and said: “Michael, you’re right. This is Max’s fault … and mine. We knew being together was wrong, but we did it anyway. He told me he wasn’t afraid of getting hurt himself, but he couldn’t bear to hurt me, and I told him that wasn’t his decision. But we were wrong. We were too arrogant to think that we would also be hurting all of you. We were so caught up in ourselves that we didn’t realize we were taking away your ability to decide for yourselves how you wanted things to happen.” She paused, studying the paper menu she had scooped up from a nearby table, unable to decipher the names of the alien-themed dishes served in the restaurant where she’d practically grown up. When she finally continued, her voice was so low they could hardly hear her. “But if it meant I could be with him, I would do all of it – make all the same decisions – again in an instant.”

She looked up at them, her eyes pleading with them to understand. Dropping her gaze back to the menu she was folding into smaller and smaller squares, Liz said softly, “There are these moments in life when everything becomes crystal clear, you know. These moments when you realize what’s really important. Hearing Isabel say that Max had been shot, I knew what was important. I mean, I knew it before too. But at that moment, I knew absolutely that nothing matters to me without Max. I couldn’t breathe. I was suffocating, knowing that I can’t exist in a world that doesn’t also have him in it. Even if we aren’t together. Even if he insists that our love isn’t meant to be.”

Her fingers shredded the menu. She swallowed convulsively. “When he first told me what he was – what you all are – he asked me not to tell anyone. He told me that his life was in my hands. But I told Maria. Then I told Alex. I lost my waitress uniform with the bullet-hole in it, and I almost lost my journal. I’ve broken my promise so many times.” Her voice broke, but she kept going. “I’ve let him down so many times already. I’m not going to do it again. I’m going to get him out. Just tell me where he is.” She looked expectantly at Isabel and Michael, reading the protest and denial on their faces but demanding an answer anyway. “I’m going no matter what,” she said stubbornly. She set the little pieces of menu down on the table beside her. “He saved my life by putting his life in my hands. I’m not going to lose it now.” When neither Isabel nor Michael said anything, Liz turned to leave. Maria was right behind her, hooking an arm through hers, reassuring her that she understood, that she would always be there for her.

“Wait!” Isabel cried after them as she slid out of the booth. “He’s my brother. I’m coming too.”

“Me too,” Alex said quickly, standing up to follow Isabel. “You’re going to need male back-up.”

“Yeah,” Michael agreed gruffly after another minute. “Count me in too.”

* * * *

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