FanFic - Unconventional Couples
"All in the Family"
Part 1
by Karen
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a half-breed Siamese cat and a car payment.
Summary: Max finds out who his true destined mate is. From Max's POV
Category: Unconventional Couples
Rating: R
Authors Note: I'm a closet outsider. Please be kind.
She's not my sister.

I know this now. Even though we were raised as siblings, I think I have always known she wasn't really my sister. She is so much more. She is my destiny.

I hate that word. First Tess wouldn't stop about me being her destiny. "You're my destiny, Max. We're meant to be together, Max." Then Liz rattling on and on about I should follow my destiny, meaning Tess. God, they were both wrong. My destiny is my sister.

I watch her walk past my bedroom door. No, 'walk' is too plain a word to describe the way Isabel moves. She glides. She seems to float on air. I catch a whiff of her perfume and I feel my throat go dry. How can she not know she does this to me?

I don't want to rehash how I found out about Isabel, that she was my wife in that past life. It's too complicated - thinking about it makes my head hurt. Call it a case of mistaken identity. She was Ava then, Tess was Vilandra. I should have seen that - it's as plain as day. Tess would be the one to betray me. I haven't trusted her from the beginning. But Isabel, oh my lovely Isabel.

From the moment we broke free from the pods I formed a connection with Isabel. Tess was the one I left behind, perhaps because subconsciously I knew she was the one who had betrayed me. I will never understand why the powers that be decided to give her new life. Unless they didn't know of her treachery. Oh, well. It doesn't matter now. Tess is here and Isabel is here and Liz has always been here and I am a mess.

I love Liz, I really do. And it would have been easy to throw over Tess for Liz because I feel nothing for Tess. But I feel everything for Isabel, and shoving her aside for Liz is something I don't think I have the strength to do. When I thought Isabel was just my sister, I could ignore the feelings I had for her. I could be with Liz and give her 100% of my attention. But now I know that Isabel isn't my sister, I remember what she meant to me in a prior life, and now I know that Liz can never satisfy my desires. I am going to hurt Liz, and I hate myself for it.

She glides past my door again and I can't resist calling out her name. She reappears in the doorway, all blond and beautiful. Her cheeks are slightly red from the hours she has spent in the sun rollerblading with Alex today. Alex - he'll be another casualty of this. I know Isabel will dump him when she finds out, when I let her see what our love was once like.

"Yeah?" she asks, her cheeks dimpling with a friendly smile.

I can't think of what to say to her. Mostly because my heart is now jackhammering in my chest and I can't drag in a breath to save my life. "Um, just wanted to say hi," I say stupidly.

She gives me that you're-a-confusing-dork look and arches her eyebrows. I gulp as I realize I need to run my fingers along those perfectly manicured brows. "Hi," she repeats, sounding somewhat condescending. I'll let her condescend to me every day for the rest of our lives…as long as I get to be with her. "Are you through?" she asks. "Because I need a shower."

I nod my head. I am a dork. She starts to leave but I stop her again. "Isabel?"

She looks at me with pure annoyance. "What?"

"Do you want to come out and play tonight?"

Now she smiles that glamorous cover girl smile that melts my heart. "Sure," she agrees and is gone.

Tonight is the night. I am going to tell her - or rather show her - everything.

When we were kids, first out of the pods, Isabel and I couldn't communicate verbally. Mentally, we could tell what each other was thinking, we could give commands to one another. I can barely recall standing in the pod chamber, looking at Tess floating in her pod and Isabel silently whispering my name against my brain. She called me Zan. I didn't remember that until recently. I must've called her Ava, but I don't remember that. She'd urged me to leave Tess behind, and I did as she commanded.

After we came to live with the Evanses, we obviously learned to speak. But on occasion, Isabel would still talk to me mentally, often after everyone else in the house had gone to bed. She would be upstairs in her bed and I would be downstairs in mine and I would get a sudden craving for ice cream. When I got to the kitchen, she'd already be perched at the table with the tub of ice cream and two bowls. But our telepathy must have dissipated over time. Either that or we just forgot about it or how to use it.

In its place, Isabel would sometimes dream walk me. We'd take wonderful trips all around the world. We'd do bad things. Sometimes she'd take me with her into other people's dreams. The last time she did this, she took me into Liz's dreams after the shooting. It had made both of us uncomfortable and now I understand why - Liz was having a fantasy dream about me. I think it hurt Isabel's feelings.

Tonight I plan to take Isabel somewhere she's never been - our past. I've never been able to control the path of a dream before, but tonight I have the confidence I will. I try to prepare myself for her reaction - will she be horrified, happy? I can't predict.

Ironically, I am so excited about going to sleep that I can't get to sleep. An hour after going to bed, Isabel appears in my doorway again. Her hair is somewhat mussed from her slumber and her eyes are squinted half shut.

"If you want to play," she says, her voice full of the arrogance I love so much about her, "then you need to go to sleep. I've been trying to get in your head for the last 45 minutes."

She has dispensed her reprimand and vanishes before I can even mumble an apology. I flip onto my stomach - for some reason I can always sleep easier on my stomach. I yawn a few times and drift to sleep.

I am on the dream plane waiting for her to join me. I glance around my surroundings - I'm in a void. Nothing by blackness. Oddly, I don't feel uncomfortable. I feel like I am in a state of suspended animation, just waiting for her arrival.

And she does arrive. She is wearing those red silk pajamas I adore; her feet are bare. Her perfect lips curve into a smile. "Nice surroundings," she jokes. "You like black, huh?"

I laugh and my voice sounds like tinkling bells. I jump in spite of myself - I've forgotten that everything is different in the dream world. It's been a while since I've been here and Isabel laughs at me. It's not a mean laugh, it is an affectionate, bemused laugh.

"Where do you want to go tonight?" she asks sitting beside me. Although I don't know what she's sitting on because there isn't anything but blackness.

"Nowhere," I answer, my voice sounding foreign, almost as though it is echoing. "I want to stay here."

"Well, that's quite boring, Zan," she says. Then she looks surprised at what she has just said, but I know she will just pass it off as another dream anomaly.

"Not really," I say, ignoring her slip on the name. "I have a lot to tell you. To show you. I wanted to do it here in the dream plane."

Her pretty brow furrows. "Why?"

"Because I think you will be more open-minded," I answer honestly. I swallow and wring my hands together, cracking my knuckles. "I need to connect with you."

She looks warily down at my hands. "Will that even work within a dream?"

I laugh - more tinkles - and shrug. "I dunno. Can we try?"

She gives in easily. She's always been very daring during her dream walks, I remember this. She feels she can't be harmed in a place that isn't real. I hope she is right. I bring my hands up and hold her face between them. I feel her smooth skin beneath my fingers and I am a little surprised that I can feel texture within the dream. I focus my eyes on hers.

"Take deep breaths-" I begin.

"I know how to do it," she interrupts.

Yes, she does. I forgot. My wife knows everything about me. There will be no stumbling through all of this alien stuff. She knows as much as I do. Hoping the connection works, I concentrate on her, on what I know.

Suddenly I am in. I have control. My excitement almost causes me to lose my grip on the connection. I get a rush of images from her - breaking free of the pods, fighting with me as children, kissing Alex - then I am completely in. I open up my mind and show her what I have to offer.

Our old world. My kingdom. My queen. I show her an image of the two of us in the royal chambers, my arms around her, my lips on her neck. I feel her confusion as I share these visions with her. At first she thinks I am making everything up, but then I feel her accept it. She knows who she is.

I take my hands away from her face and break the connection. Her dark eyes pop open and she looks at me in amazement.

"I'm not Vilandra," she breathes.

I am a little disappointed that she is thinking of Vilandra right now. But then I tell myself that having the burden of being a traitor lifted from her shoulders is a big deal. I shake my head slowly. "Do you know who you are?" I ask.

Her mouth is agape as she nods her head. "I'm your wife."

I am about to respond when she is gone. I look frantically around the dream plane, but she is nowhere to be found. I make myself wake up.

I sit up in bed and stare across my dark bedroom. Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe I should have kept it all to myself. But I couldn't. Because I love her.

I wipe my hand across my face and swing my legs out of bed. In the bathroom, I wince when I flip on the light. I grab a wash cloth, run it under the water and press it against my face. I'm an idiot. I've alienated her, and I have to live with her. Just wonderful. I check my face in the mirror. I see an asshole.

I flip off the light and walk back to the bed in the dark. I heave a heavy sigh and crawl back under the covers. Something brushes against my arm and I am about to recoil when a hand stops me.

"Isabel?" I ask.

I can now see her - she must have crept into my bedroom while I was in the bathroom and slid beneath my blankets. Now that my eyes have adjusted to the dark once again, I can see her smile.

"I'm sorry," I tell her. "I should have found a better way to tell you."

"No," she whispers back. "You told me perfectly." I can see her expression shift to serious. "You were the perfect husband," she says in awe. "I remember now…and I remember that I loved you."

I don't know what to say to her, but something tells me that she didn't sneak into my bed for a bedtime story. Her arms come up around my shoulders, her scent fills my nose once again. There is a strange sensation in my stomach and I feel my heart begin to thump in my chest.

"I do love you," she continues. "I always have."

Before I can respond, I feel her lips, full and soft, brush against my own. The shock I feel all of the way down to my toes is not the kind of thing you feel from a sisterly kiss. She is cautious with me, almost timid. She nibbles at my bottom lip, then pulls back and looks down. I think she is embarrassed.

I reach down and lift her chin so she will look at me. "I've found you again," I say to her. "My wife."

There is a moment of silence, then her lips curve into a smile. "You could be the first man to ever do a very difficult thing, you know." Her eyes are playful and she confuses me.

"What do you mean?" I ask.

Her expression is serious again. "Take my virginity twice."

I can't register her words all at once. My head reels from the possibility of knowing Isabel in this way and I almost feel frightened. I'm not ready for this. I need time to adjust. I need time to tell Liz I can't love her.

Then she picks up one of my hands and kisses the back of it and all of my fears fade away. There is no reason to be afraid. This is the same woman I have loved forever, in this life and the past. Never taking my eyes from hers, I release my hand and move for her pajama top. Her eyes follow my hand and I hesitate, waiting for her to give me the okay. She looks up and smiles and I know it will be okay.

I unbutton two buttons on her top then bend to kiss the hollow of her neck. She tastes sweet, inviting and I drag in a ragged breath. I continue to kiss her neck as I flip the last of the buttons. I sit up and roll her onto her back. I push the garment aside and just stare in awe at the beauty before me.

I dawns on me that I haven't seen Isabel naked since we emerged from the pods. Not even in accidental passing in the hallway on the way to the shower. Her body is a pleasant mystery to me, a mystery I intend on solving piece by piece.

She looks uncertain. I wonder where the self-assured, cocky ice princess has gone. She's certainly not laid out before me.

"You're beautiful," I tell her as I gently trail my fingers across her stomach. I can feel her muscles tighten at the contact.

She sits up and reaches for the bottom of my T-shirt. Isabel has seen me shirtless countless times, but she goes at this like it is something new to her. And I guess it is. I wonder if she ever had thoughts about me when she saw me. Did she want to touch me? She pulls my shirt over my head and throws it across the room. Her eyes settle on my chest for a long moment, then she cautiously reaches out and runs her long fingers across my skin. Her nails lightly scrape my abdomen as she reaches for the waistband of my boxers. I drag in another ragged breath and pull her body to mine.

I can feel her full breasts crushed against my chest, her heart pounding erratically against mine. My mouth covers hers and I devour her. I feel my whole being pouring out to her in this moment and we become one.

In the morning, I nudge her awake when I hear Mom stirring in the kitchen. Before she can retreat to her own room, I pull her back to bed and kiss her.

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