Solar Eclipse Book 2 (CC,M/L,MATURE) COMPLETE

Finished Canon/Conventional Couple Fics. These stories pick up from events in the show. All complete stories from the main Canon/CC board will eventually be moved here.

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max and liz believer
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Postby max and liz believer » Mon Nov 10, 2003 3:40 pm

Hi everyone! :D

Thank you so much for the feedback!! Thank you, Elizabeth, for editing. You're the best!!

PuReDrEaMeR05 - I haven't seen you around here before, I think :roll:, so welcome to this fic!! :D


Without further ado... here's the next part




Chapter 17


The first rays of the red sun began to spread their warm light across the green sky. Animals tentatively awoke to the new day, wondering if it would be a day of peace or a day filled with screams and death. With the first timid notes of a bird’s song, people in the small cottages started to wake up. Some woke up feeling that this was the first day of their new life, the beginning of something better. Others woke up feeling drained of energy, lost, angry and confused.

Some hadn’t even gone to sleep. They were still walking around outside, looking for their loved ones among the heaps of people coating the former battlefield. The silence was occasionally interrupted by outburst of sorrow as someone found a brother, a sister, a father, a mother among the casualties.

Some men were trying to rid the battlefield of the bodies, with heavy hearts. The ones that were completely unrecognizable were buried. Others were put in small tents where their relatives could come and bid their last goodbyes. There was a hushed silence over Antar this day. People were mourning, but those who hadn’t lost a loved one were celebrating. Still, the celebration was quiet and respectful. Because the battle had been fought, and according to the simple people on Antar, they had won. But they had lost in so many ways too.

Out in the middle of the wilderness eight tents of different sizes were arranged. Here the battle was still being fought. A battle between shock and sorrow. A battle between life and death. Inside one of the tents a little girl was sleeping as oblivious to the meaning of the new morning as she was to the outside world. Her mind had pulled back to the place where she couldn’t feel, couldn’t register. Where she merely existed.

In another tent a woman was sleeping, her sleep plagued with painful images and memories of a friend being badly hurt and a brother almost dying. A warrior occupied the tent next to her. But his warrior heart had become scorched. Insomnia had been his uninvited companion through the night. He had spent his waking hours guarding his friends and giving orders so that nothing would happen to or even disturb the ones he loved. His thoughts were constantly pulled back to another person though. A person not walking on this planet, but on another. The one person who could pull him together and give him peace. When would he see her again?

One tent was empty. Once filled with deep love and gentle caresses, it was now deathly empty. It was as if it was holding its breath in anticipation of what would return and when. The bigger tent was the medical tent. It was here the real battle was fought. It was here a woman was fighting against the eternal blackness with her every artificial breath. It was here a man was sitting, waiting, hoping, and crying. His family had been taken away from him in a matter of hours and, if it came to it, he would die with them.

The battle wasn’t over yet. One battle had ended to give place to another and everyone was waiting. Waiting for what was to happen now. Waiting for the new life to begin. Waiting for the eyes of their loved ones to open again.

<center>----------------------------------------------------------</center>

”Max...”
The voice was gentle and soft, so as not to scare him. Still, he snapped violently out of his reverie, jumping at her voice.
”It’s just me,” Isabel said with the faint resemblance of a reassuring smile.
He didn’t give her any sign that he had heard her. He just turned his head back towards the still body, keeping a firm grip on the hand tucked safely within his own.
Isabel swallowed and tried not to be disconcerted by his lack of presence in this world. ”I brought you some food.” When he didn’t answer, she continued, ”You have to eat something, Max.”
His body was tense and unresponsive. She would probably have more success talking to a wall. She took a deep breath and put the tray with food on the floor. He might want to pull away from the real world, but she wouldn’t let him. She wouldn’t let him just give up on life, even if it meant that he had to live without Liz.
”I’ll just leave it here and you can eat whenever you feel like it,” Isabel said quietly.
She paused and looked at him, when he still wasn’t acknowledging her presence.
”You need your strength, Max. If you are going to be able to help Liz...”
Her name triggered the first response in Max. His body tensed even more and he lowered his head.
Isabel bit her lower lip to prevent herself from crying and whispered hoarsely, ”We are just outside if you need anything.”
She took a deep breath as she turned away from the shell that Max had become. He was only a body now, his feelings, his soul, either buried or desperately trying to reach a mate that it had lost. The other half of a whole. Tears fell down her cheeks as she turned her back on her brother and left the tent.

Max closed his eyes as his sister left and let his own tears fall. He had heard every word, he just didn’t have the ability to answer her. It didn’t seem to matter anymore. Nothing did. He was so tired and the logical part of his brain was desperately pleading with him to lie down and sleep. But he couldn’t. What if she left him while he was asleep? He clutched her hand harder in his at the thought and had to take a deep breath to calm the sudden painful emptiness and panic that was quickly filling him. It was a familiar feeling ever since she had been hurt.

The same part of his brain that told him that the sensible thing to do was to sleep was also telling him that he should eat. He cast a chaste glance towards the tray. The food didn’t appeal to him at all. He didn’t have an appetite. But that didn’t matter. He knew that he had to eat because it would give him more energy to help Liz. Not letting go of her hand, he reached out with his free hand and took the bread from the tray and took a reluctant bite. The bread felt dry in his mouth. It tasted like a sponge, slowly swelling in his mouth, making it almost impossible to swallow. But he forced it down. Chunk after chunk, and took the glass of artificially made water to wash the bread down.

Then his focus was back on Liz.
”Baby,” he whispered, ”I’m gonna make you feel a little better, okay?”
Taking several deep breaths to calm himself down and focus, he simultaneously moved his hands to her hair, letting his fingers thread through her thick mane. Then he began feeding her body with his energy. He concentrated on the vital organs first, trying to repair them as best he could. It was more strenuous than usual, not only because of his own weakened condition, but also because he couldn’t form a two-way connection with her since she was unconscious. Fortunately, the connection they ordinarily shared helped him some now. He knew her. He knew her body, her mind, and her soul by heart. He had memorized her entire body intimately, not only the exterior but also the interior. He had healed her so many times when she had been ill because of their blocked connection, and that knowledge helped guide him through her body now.

Three minutes later he pulled out of her mind and body with a sharp intake of breath. His whole body was trembling from the physical exertion, his energy completely drained. He only remained in the conscious state of mind for a mere two seconds before his body gave up and he passed out. His body slumped forward over Liz’s abdomen, the life beneath her skin pulsating in reaction to the sudden, but comforting pressure.

<center>----------------------------------------------</center>

”He in there?” Michael asked, nodding towards the tent. The question was merely rhetorical; he already knew the answer.
”Yes, sir,” the guard answered.
Michael nodded and brushed past the guard. His steps halted, his mouth falling open in apprehension when he saw Max slumped over Liz. He was probably just asleep, Michael told himself as he sped up his pace and grasped Max’s shoulder not so very gently.
”Max?!” he hissed, shaking Max lightly.
When he didn’t respond, or even stir, Michael shook him a little harder. ”Max!”
Fear gripping him, Michael clumsily searched for Max’s pulse on the underside of his wrist. He felt cold, but there was a pulse. Michael didn’t know very much about those stuff, it was Max’s area of expertise, but he would say that the pulse was weak.
”Max?!” he said again, a little louder this time. He took a hold of Max’s shoulder and pulled him upwards. His eyes were closed and his head slumped forward so that his chin rested limply against his chest.

”Hey! Max!” Michael could feel the fear building in him.
Just then Serena stepped into the tent.
”Michael?” she asked and then she saw the state Max was in and quickly stepped inside the tent and walked up to Max. ”What’s wrong?”
”I found him like this,” Michael answered.
”Okay, let’s lie him down,” Serena said, remaining calm. It was no riddle to her what had happened her. Max had tried to heal Liz and he had depleted his energy. Her eyes quickly registered the crumbs on the tray as she helped Michael lay Max down.
”He’s eaten something,” Serena said.
Michael’s eyes drifted to the tray, his eyebrows furrowed in angry confusion. ”So?” His attention was back on Max again.

”That’s a good sign,” Serena said as she slid to her knees beside her unresponsive king, ”He had more energy to take from and that’s perhaps what stopped him from completely destroying himself.”
She jumped as Michael clapped his hands over Max’s head. She quickly took a hold of his hands to silence them.
Michael turned to her with an angry look.
”What are you doing?” Serena accused.
”Trying to wake him up,” Michael answered with the same tone of voice.
Serena pulled his hands down to his lap again, away from Max. ”Michael, you have to let him sleep. You can’t wake him up now even if you wanted to. He needs to refuel his energy.”

Michael stared at Serena for a second or two, before turning his head to stare at Max’s weary face. His voice was soft and fearful when he whispered the question that scared him the most, ”He won’t die?”
Serena didn’t know how many times these hybrids have touched her heart with their care and compassion for each other. It must be wonderful to feel such things, but of course it also must be very painful in situations like these. From the day Khivar had taken over Antar and her parents had been killed in the process, her emotions had been repressed in order that she become the best possible warrior. But even ordinary people on Antar had been forced to stop feeling, to stop thinking, or they would have died from anguish under Khivar’s reign. It had been so long that Serena didn’t know how to feel any longer, not many people did.

She took a deep breath and smiled softly at the warrior beside her who was terrified that he would lose his best friend. ”He won’t die. He just needs to rest. Let’s put him here beside Liz. I’m sure that’s where he wants to be.”
Michael nodded and together they moved Max onto the mattress. Astonished, they watched Max move his body slightly towards Liz’s. As if there were a magnetic field and their bodies had been pulled towards each other.
”Is he still unconscious?” Serena asked, perplexed.
Michael actually smiled. ”Yes, he is.” That was just one of the many things Serena would witness about Max and Liz that would surprise and awe her.

<center>---------------------------------------------------------------</center>

One week later

Michael stopped again as the muffled cries reached his ears. It wasn’t his imagination. Someone was crying. After spending weeks in the company of aliens who didn’t feel or if they had any feelings, didn’t let them show, the sound sounded foreign to his ears. There could only be one person who would be crying, since he had just left the medical tent where Max had fallen asleep after the strain of yet another healing.

He followed the sound and stopped outside her tent. It had never been his thing to comfort. Maybe he was more like his alien men in the respect that feelings scared him. Or at least, intense feelings did. He didn’t know what to say or what to do to comfort someone. But her heart-wrenching and lonely cries twisted his heart and he found himself pushing the tent fabric to the side and stepping inside the poorly lit tent.

He saw her hunched figure in the corner of the tent. Her arms tightly wrapped around her legs, her face buried in her knees, her blonde long hair, dirty and neglected, hiding her face from any outside watchers. Without a word, he closed the distance between them and sat down beside her. She hadn’t noticed his presence, so when he gently touched her arm, she gave a start, the crying hitching fearfully in her throat.
”It’s okay, it’s just me,” Michael said.
She broke apart at his words, and her crying intensified as she leaned into Michael, searching his warmth and comfort. He wrapped his arms around her and held on tight, getting just as much comfort from having a warm body close as Isabel did. They sat like that for a long time, before her crying eased into broken sobs and hiccups.
”I’m sorry,” she whispered.
”No, it’s okay,” he said gently.

She shook her head against his chest. ”No, no. It’s not okay. We are still trapped on this godforsaken planet. Liz is dying, Max is dying...with her,” her voice broke and it took a while for her to regain enough strength to continue, ”And Emma is just...she isn’t answering. She is barely meeting my eyes. She doesn’t talk. She’s just...she’s just...there. Like some kind of statue.”
Michael knew what she was talking about. He hadn’t paid too many visits to the little girl, because her condition scared him. She was like a zombie. Not talking, not seeing, not eating. Barely alive. He didn’t know what they had done to her in captivity, but one thing was for sure. She was broken inside and it was on days like these that he wondered if she could ever be mended.
”Max is with her every night, after waking up from his healings... And he...he can’t reach her either,” she whispered, ”It’s killing him, Michael. He has lost them both.”
”I know, I know,” he said, stroking her hair.

”And the worst thing is that I can’t stop thinking about home. About mom and dad. And...and Alex.”
Her voice was soaked with guilt and it caused Michael to halter in his movements.
”How can I be so selfish, Michael?” Isabel asked, her voice becoming hoarse with new never-ending tears. ”Max is losing his family, the one person that he has been in love with since he was in third grade is dying, and all I can think about is that I want to have Alex here with me. I want to spend Christmas with him. Laughing, opening presents. Why can’t it be me?” Her voice bore a twinge of resentment now, mixed with anger and injustice.

Christmas. It was the 24th of December today. On Earth people were gathering, meeting old friends and eating and laughing. Here, there was no Christmas. Here, there was grief, frustration, darkness and death.

”I miss Maria,” Michael said softly, not sure what to say to convince her that she wasn’t selfish.
She sniffled and raised her head to meet his eyes that had taken on a far-away expression at the thought of Maria.
”It’s been too long,” she whispered.
He nodded. ”I miss her so much. I feel so lost without her.” She nodded, tears spilling down her already soaked cheeks.
”When do you think we’ll be going home?” she asked, weary hope in her question.
Michael swallowed and closed his eyes. Before checking up on Max earlier, he had been to a meeting with Serena and Aldonis and some other well-respected people. They wanted Max to begin act like a king and take care of the planet. Antar was in shock and it needed a firm hand to pull them out of their grief. Michael had a feeling that only Serena understood him when he had tried to convince them that Max wouldn’t be able to give hope to an entire nation right now. They needed a king and the situation was getting desperate.
”Soon, I think,” he lied. Her hopeful smile made his heart twitch painfully.
”Thank you,” she whispered before burying her face in his shirt. Gazing into the darkness, he took a tighter hold of her tired body while longing for another body to be in his arms.

<center>---------------------------------------------------------</center>

The man watched the cloth fly out of his arms and across the room. His shoulder sagged. The frustration and the meaningless of the situation smothered him. The man turned to another man who was carefully moving closer to the guarded person in the corner of the room, and spoke to him in Antarian. As he expressed his irritation, the cloth, following a forceful command from his mind, smoothly flew back into his hand. Coming to an agreement, the two men took a deep breath and once again started to move closer to the small person. The object of their attention moved her arms to cover her face and curled up even more tightly into a ball, like a hedgehog rolling up to protect itself from enemies. She whimpered as their shadow slowly fell over her body, blocking the light from her view. When the man with the washcloth reached out towards her and touched her arm, an agonized wail broke over her lips.
”What the hell are you doing?”

Both of the men jerked away from their victim at the quiet but menacing voice. They both knew who it was without even having to turn their heads towards the new arriver.
”Your Highness,” the men mumbled in unison, keeping their heads bent of fear of disrespecting His Highness by meeting his eyes.
”Get away from her.”
The order was clear and threatening, and the men obeyed immediately.
”Sir, we were only trying to-”
His explanation came to an end as their eyes met. ”Don’t ever do it again,” Max said quietly, with barely restrained anger.
”No, sir. Of course not, sir.” Stuttering apologies, the two men scurried out of the tent.

Slowly, as to not frighten her even more than the men obviously already had, he moved closer to her. He saw the bucket of water on the floor and the washcloths lying beside it. He knew what they had been trying to do. They had only been trying to clean her up. But when Max had stepped into the tent and heard her whimper and seen the men looming over her curled up body, his protective streak had kicked in full force. What infuriated him was that they wouldn’t leave her alone, even though she obviously didn’t want them doing what they were doing. She didn’t even want them touching her.

The acrid odor of excrement enveloped him and he swallowed back tears together with nausea. His little vibrant girl had gone from being independent and carefree, to someone who wasn’t functioning anymore. She didn’t know when she needed to use the toilet. She didn’t even care. Max stopped beside her body and saw her tense. She knew he was there but she didn’t know whether he was friend or foe. Her eyes were hidden behind tresses of her too long bangs and her head was bent into her knees. Still, he had a feeling she was watching him. Closely.

He slowly lifted his hand and registered how she retreated even further, before moving his hand over her body, removing all traces of her faeces.
”Emma...” he whispered gently.
She whimpered and pulled herself further up the wall which barely seemed possible, considering she was already plastered to the tent wall.
”You wanna go to bed? You wanna sleep in the warm bed instead?”
He didn’t expect an answer and wasn’t the least surprised when he didn’t receive one.
”I’m just gonna take you there. Okay, baby?”
Gently, he placed his hands on her body. She tensed, but she didn’t move away. He drew a mental sigh of relief. She was willing to cooperate with him.

”I’ll have to lift you up, honey.” He tucked his hands under her body and lifted her. Slowly. She was like dead weight in his arms. Tensing up even more, as if trying to put as much distance between her own body and his as she could. But Max wouldn’t let her. She needed to feel body contact again. She needed to learn to recognize the touch of someone who didn’t wish her harm. He pulled her closer to the warmth of his own body, the stiffness of hers cutting through his heart. He straightened up and walked the short distance to the bed. He was limping some, due to one of the many injuries that hadn’t been given the chance to heal properly because he had been feeding Liz’s body with his energy. He lingered some, careful not to stir her too much, and slid to his knees beside the mattress and laid her there. The second his arms reluctantly left her body, she curled up again, pulling her knees up to her stomach and burying her face behind her knees. Max took a deep breath to get his strength back. Then he took the blanket and pulled it over her body, before moving out of the tent.

He unceremoniously bumped into Serena, who was waiting outside.
”She okay?” she asked.
Max scrubbed his face with his hand in an attempt to remove the weariness that had become a permanent resident in his bones.
”Yes, for the moment.”
”Max, I’m sorry if those men-” Max looked up in her guilty face and shook his head, efficiently cutting off her apologies.
”They were only following orders and since aliens aren’t known for their ability to feel empathy, they didn’t know when to stop.”
Serena’s eyes clouded over with guilt. Feelings had been consuming her more and more as she spent more time in the hybrids’ presence but she knew that the other aliens, the warriors, still had a long way to go before they would be able to feel emotions.

She opened her mouth to say she was sorry, but Max beat her to it. ”From now on, I don’t want any strangers around her. Not even you,” she straightened her head and nodded, ”She didn’t know you before and she has only met you in captivity. I don’t want her to associate anything with her time in captivity any longer. I’ll take care of washing her...”
”Max, you can’t do this alone. You are giving so much of your energy to Liz-”
”Isabel will be helping. She will be with Emma when I can’t. I’m gonna ask Michael to keep watch. I don’t want any others inside that tent. I want guards outside, but no one else inside. Got it?”
”Yes, Max,” Serena nodded.
Max raked his hand through his hair, which was getting rather long from lack of attention.

”And I want diapers.”
”Excuse me?” Serena looked at him confused.
”You know what diapers are?” Max asked.
Serena thought about it for a few seconds and then she remembered a text she had read on maternal care and she nodded. ”Yes... But we don’t have any here on Antar.”
”Then make some,” Max said.
”Of course,” Serena said hesitantly.
”Thank you,” Max said and turned to go to the medical tent. Serena took a deep breath and turned in the other direction. Max calling out her name halted her in her movements.
”Yes?” she said, turning around.

”Thank you, Serena. For everything you’re doing here. Thank you.”
Serena could feel her cheeks getting hot from the heartfelt praise and she ducked her head. ”It’s an honor, Max.”



TBC...

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max and liz believer
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Postby max and liz believer » Sat Nov 29, 2003 6:08 am

Hi! :D

My internet at home has decided to not work - well, it's working on my brother's computers, but not mine. Slightly unfair :roll: So, to all of my msnm buddies, this is why I haven't been online lately. I'm using my father's computer now, because I have an update edited and ready to be uploaded.

Stef, I just noticed that you had sent me the new chapter of BW. I'll take a look at it ASAP. Sorry about the delay. The X-ray went okay. I just had difficulties breathing, because I'm suffering from slight claustrophobia... But we'll talk later on the msnm (when my brother gets home and fix it. Of course, he is away all the weekend... On a computer competition...)

Elizabeth, thank you for editing, hun!! :D :D


And everyone, thank you so much for the feedback!! It's really really warming my heart! And having a discussion on names and santa claus here is just an added fun bonus :wink:


Thank you!

Much love,

Josephin



Chapter 18


A gentle brush against his hand woke him up.

Tiredly, he started to lift his head, when it fell back down again as intense blinding pain shot through him. He barely resisted the urge to cry out and began taking deep breaths to remove the agony. Through the pain that had almost paralyzed him, he felt the tingle again and his stinging eyes moved to look at his hand. What he saw made his heart stop in his chest. Not thinking about what kind of pain that sudden movement would give him, he snapped his head up to her face.

She was looking at him.

”Liz...?” he croaked.
She was crying. Her eyes were red and if he had been able to see through the bandage covering her face he would’ve seen the frown of deep pain on her forehead. The pain had started to spread throughout his body. It felt as if his skin was on fire. His breathing became shallow and strained as he tried to control the pain. A pain he knew he was getting from the connection her return to consciousness had suddenly opened wide.

He never realized that he was crying. He never felt the hot tears. His attention was on the other part of his soul, who was looking at him. He could feel how much her eyes hurt by just looking, but underneath all the pain he could feel her feelings like a dull humming in the background. The pain was muffling most of it, making her most prominent feelings about pain and fear. But he could also feel her unwavering stubbornness to not to let him out of her line of vision. Her almost lethal desperation to hold onto him.

So that she wouldn’t fall.

”Baby,” Max whispered and moved his hands to her hair. Feeling her feelings in his body again was the most relieving and beautiful thing he had felt in a long dark time, even thought it was the most painful thing he had ever felt, seeing that the connection opened up all the pain Liz was feeling. Which only made him more determined to do what he had to do.

Even though he didn’t want to let her go.

<center>--------------------------------------------------------</center>

Simultaneously in the next tent

Isabel jumped as the normally deathly quiet child screamed.

A long, prolonged cry of raw pain, that made shivers broke out on her skin. She immediately crawled closer to the child, while silently debating whether or not she should touch her. Whether it would be comfort for the child, or just adding to the fear that was suddenly boiling in the room. Her whimper stopped Isabel cold.

”Mommy...”
Isabel gasped inaudibly and tears started to flow down her cheeks.
”Emma?”
The child was as still as ever, but her eyes weren’t. She was staring directly at Isabel and something in the way she was holding Isabel captured with her eyes told Isabel that something was different. There was a certain wakefulness and consciousness in her eyes. A focus.
”Mommy...” she whimpered again.
Isabel reached her decision and slowly reached out to touch her hair. Emma tensed at the contact, but she didn’t move away like she used to.

”Your mommy is waiting for you, Emma. She loves you so much.”
It seemed as if her soft whisper had reached Emma’s ears, because the little girl started crying. Lonely, heart breaking wails of misery.
”It hurts...” Emma sobbed.
”I know, honey. But we are going to take that pain away, if you help us.” Isabel wasn’t sure what hurt. There were no outside signs of any injuries, and she was certain that Max had checked her over internally as well. If there were something wrong he would have told them. Wouldn’t he?

<center>-------------------------------------------------</center>

Max slowly and painfully sifted through the pain. It was like looking for something buried in sand. No matter how much you dug, the sand kept flowing back into the hole, making the labor even more strenuous. He was searching for the question to which he could provide her the answers.
”Emma is with us,” he whispered. He saw the strong relief in her eyes and the questioning look that followed. ”She’s fine.” It was a lie, but Liz needed all the positive information she could get. She wasn’t capable of handling the paralyzing pain while worrying about their little girl not being sane anymore.

”I love you so much, Liz,” he whispered, his voice barely holding up against the tears streaming down his cheeks, a sign betraying the fear raging inside of him.
Her eyes filled with new tears, which fell onto the bandages on her cheeks.
”Please don’t leave us,” Max’s hand was desperately clutching a bundle of her hair in his hands, as if trying to hold her there. ”We need you.”
He took a deep shuddering breath, and hastily brushed away the tears on his cheeks. ”You have to fight, Liz.”
Her eyelids were getting heavier, but he knew that she would not be able to find peace if she were conscious. The pain would not leave her alone, until it had tortured her mind into the same tarnished state her body was in.
”I love you,” he whispered again before he moved his hands from her hair and his other hand up to her face, and concentrated hard on the connection.

As if it were a twig, he broke her only thread to consciousness, and the pain ended.

<center>-------------------------------------------</center>

”What’s going on?” Michael asked as he stepped into the tent.
”Mommy...”
The anguished wail made his head snap into the direction of the curled up girl.
”She’s talking?” he asked, a hint of hope in his voice, as he shifted his eyes to Isabel.
”Yes,” Isabel said breathlessly, ”But I think she’s in pain.”
”I’m getting Max,” Michael said.
Isabel only nodded, her eyes once again glued to the little girl, who had now begun to writhe on the mattress, as if the material were burning against her skin. Isabel crept closer with the intention of pulling her into her arms, when she stilled, the whimper dying on her lips. The tent fell eerily silent as Emma’s eyes once again became blank and unseeing. As if her connection to the real world had just dissipated, vanishing into thin air.

<center>----------------------------------------------</center>

”Max, you gotta come...” Michael’s voice tailed off as his eyes landed on Max. Max looked up at him, face wet with tears and eyes red, before turning back to Liz again and reluctantly letting go of her hand.
”What is it, Michael?” he asked hoarsely.
Michael’s eyes narrowed in confusion. ”You need to see Em...” then a thought occurred to him and he frowned, ”What happened with Liz?”
Max had risen to his feet at the mention of his daughter and was already walking towards Michael. His steps were tired, but his body had another sort of lightness than usual, which only further confirmed Michael’s suspicions.
”What’s wrong with Emma?” Max asked.

”Did Liz wake up?” Michael asked.
Max stopped and glanced over his shoulder at Liz. He inhaled deeply as he turned his head back to Michael and warily rubbed his hand over his face, noticing that he had been crying.
”Yes...” he said softly.
Michael had expected that answer, but it still surprised him. ”What? How? Is that even... Is she...”
”I had to make her unconscious again,” Max whispered.
Michael looked at his tortured friend. ”Did she speak?”
”No,” Max answered quietly, ”She couldn’t. The pain was too...there was too much pain. I could feel it, but only a fraction and it was enough to almost make me pass out.” Max met Michael’s eyes. ”I had to knock her out. She couldn’t go on with that pain. It’s better that she doesn’t feel anything at all.”

Michael could see in his eyes how much that decision had torn him up. Max would probably have endured the pain through the connection, he just couldn’t bear to see Liz in so much pain.
”But isn’t this a good thing?” Michael asked.
Max closed his eyes. ”I hope so,” he whispered. ”I hope this momentary consciousness is progress...and not her...her...saying...goodbye.”
”Hey man,” Michael said gently, putting a comforting hand on Max’s shoulder. ”She wasn’t.”
Max looked up at him and Michael saw disbelief, but also hope in his eyes. Max wanted to believe him, but life had dealt him so many evil hands in the last weeks that he had difficulties believing in the good. That anything good could happen for a change.
”She isn’t,” Michael corrected himself. Max stared at him, before tiredly nodding.
Max’s eyes drifted to the opening of the tent. ”What about Emma?”
”I think she felt the pain too,” Michael said, having put it all together.
”What do you mean?” Max asked, his voice an emotional mixture of fear and guilt.
”They have a connection-”
His voice was cut off by Max’s departure from the tent.

<center>----------------------------------------------------</center>

”She was awake, Max,” Isabel said as Max entered the tent. Max strode up to Emma with determination.
”What happened?” Isabel asked worriedly as she saw the tear stains on Max’s cheeks and his haggard looks.
”Liz woke up,” Michael said from the opening.
”What?” Isabel cried out, looking between Max and Michael. ”Is she okay?”
”No...” Max whispered as his hand threaded through Emma’s hair. ”Come here, baby.”

Gently, Max turned Emma’s stiff body towards him and pulled her into his lap. Isabel stared at them in awe. She had known that Max was more successful in reaching out to Emma then she and Michael were, but she didn’t know that Emma would let herself be touched that much.
Max wrapped his arms around Emma’s body and slowly started rocking her. He placed a tender kiss on the top of her head. With new tears rolling down his cheeks, he murmured words of comfort and love in her ear. Isabel rose and pulled Michael with her. Michael had to give her an update on what had happened with Liz.

They quietly left the tent, but Max probably wouldn’t have heard them even if they had been noisy. He was lost in his own world. A world of memories. A world of happy laughter and beautiful smiles. A world of comforting hugs and gentle caresses. A world of kisses and love. A world that was slowly dying. Slipping through his hands like sand.


TBC...

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Postby max and liz believer » Sat Dec 06, 2003 6:21 am

Hi! :D

Thank you all so much for the feedback!! :D :D

Norma Bates - I hope that you have recuperated from the lack of sleep :wink: But you should know that hearing that someone has been losing sleep (and almost their job :roll:) over your story is one of the best kind of feedback you can get. So thank you so much! Welcome to this fic!! :D :D

Ana and Stef - Hey girls! :D Thank you so much for your concern and your bumps and everything. I called my doctor yesterday to hear about the test results from my X-ray, but they hadn't come yet. So I'm still waiting. I'm gonna call on Monday though.

And Stef, dear dear sweet friend, thank you so much for the card!! That was just the sweetest!! Thank you! You are such a great support in all of this. I don't know what I'd do without you. *hugs*


And here, boys and girls, is the next chapter:



Chapter 19


”Max?” Serena timidly looked into the tent. She was expecting to find him there, where he had spent most of his waking, and sleeping, hours lately. Watching over Liz. She was surprised when she found Liz to be alone. Her shallow breathing echoed in the silence of the tent and Serena turned to leave when she stopped. Max hadn’t let anyone near Liz the last couple of days. He was guarding her with his simple presence. He hadn’t exactly spelled out to them that they weren’t allowed to visit Liz. It was something in his demeanor, in the way he was always with her, which made the others automatically leave him alone. It was like it was something too private, too personal, to disturb.

Finding Liz all by herself made a curiosity build within Serena and she found herself turning around towards the mattress again. She knew that she might be treading dangerous ground, but no one in the camp had been given the faintest clue about Liz’s condition. Max had forbidden the physician they’d had at the beginning to get even five feet within Liz, since one of the physicians had made the foolish mistake of hinting that Liz should be kept alive merely for the purpose of keeping the child inside of her alive.

It was simply her duty to her people to find out how Liz was doing, Serena told herself as she approached the mattress. Liz’s health was directly correlated to Max’s strength and ability to start focusing his attention on his people and rebuilding Antar, something that he had completely ignored. He hadn’t attended any meetings, Michael had attended them in his place instead. Max had not shown any interest at all that he wanted to help the people who were now hopefully waiting for him to help them to their feet.

Referring to the facts she had heard from Michael and Isabel about Max, and also due to the person she had judged him to be from her own observations, she had really tried to justify Max’s lack of interest in his people, but still it infuriated her. How a mate could mean more to him than a whole race of people was beyond her. She had tried to understand. She had tried to put herself in the same situation, if something like that would have happened to Aldonis, but she couldn’t. She wouldn’t have dropped her responsibility, ignored her duty, like that, even if she cared a lot for Aldonis.

She came to a halt beside the mattress, staring down in the face of the person Max would sacrifice everything for, even his own life, and she gasped. Because it was really Liz’s face she was looking at. Not only her closed and bruised eyelids and her parched dry lips, but her whole face. The band aids were gone and her skin had none of the awful blisters she had tried to take care of just after she and Max had been brought to the medical tent after Khivar’s attack existed. It was like they had never been there. Her skin was flawless. With her mouth gaping in a mixture of awe and surprise, Serena took a hold of the comforter and started to pull it downwards to take a look at the rest of Liz’s body.

”Serena.”
She visibly jumped and jerked her head into the direction of the voice, her hand guiltily moving away from Liz. She already knew who it would be before her eyes landed on his hard facial expression.
”Max,” she said, trying to appear calm, but his appearance had been too sudden and she had been too attentive to what she would find when she pulled down the comforter, that her voice was just a notch to high.
”What are you doing?” Max asked. His voice betrayed nothing. It was as cool as everything about him lately. Serena quickly pulled herself together and took a step away from Liz.
”I didn’t know that she had healed so much,” Serena said, deciding to confront him with it, ”Why haven’t you told us? She must be doing better. She looks better.”
”The superficial wounds are easy to heal,” Max answered. He hadn’t moved since she had turned her eyes to him and now he was just calmly observing her. Serena couldn’t put her finger on what that meant. Was he angry with her? Did he want her to leave? Narrowing her eyes she decided that he was resigned, even a little relieved that she had forced him to tell her this.
”What about the internal wounds?” Serena asked slowly.
Max met her gaze straight on, trying to appear collected, but one thing Serena had learnt about Max was that he had very expressive eyes, which always betrayed the truth. Especially when it came to Liz. Max was very bad at keeping his feelings for Liz secret.
”She is much better,” he answered.

Serena wondered why he hadn’t answered her question directly, but instead given her an answer to another question, but she bit her lip to stop herself from asking him about that. She had a feeling that Max’s trust in her was already on shaky ground, and she really shouldn’t do anything further to jeopardize that.
”How about the baby?”
A flicker of hope passed in Max’s eyes before he answered, ”They are perfect.”
Serena started nodding in relief, when the meaning of his words hit her. ”Wait... Why did you say? ‘They’?”
”Twins,” Max answered, a soft smile playing in the corners of his mouth.
”Twins?” Serena repeated dumfounded. Her brain was working overload trying to find out just what twins were. Somehow, Liz was going to give birth to several babies at the same time. She was carrying several babies at the same time.
”How is that possible? Is it two babies?” Serena asked.
Max’s facial expression softened some at her stunned expression. ”I found it out this morning. I was just with Emma, telling her that she would be having two baby brothers.”

”But that’s not even possible,” Serena said, shaking her head.
”How’s that?” Max asked. He started to move towards Liz, as if the mere mention of the babies resting inside the warmth of her protective uterus made him want to be near her and touch her.
Serena watched him take Liz’s hand, a hand that now had no bandage, and lovingly pushing a strand of her dark hair away from her forehead. The gesture made Serena forget what she was talking about. She had never seen anything like it. And he had only brushed away her hair. It had been so tender and on one level so very intimate it made her throat clog up and she had to swallow to clear her throat to be able to speak again.
”We...we can’t have two babies at the same time,” Serena said absently, her eyes fixed on the tender caresses Max’s hand made on the healed skin of Liz’s cheek.
”You can’t?” Max asked, looking up at Serena. He only seemed mildly surprised, like details like that didn’t matter to him since he was certain that he and Liz were having twins.
”No...”

”Humans can,” Max said, his eyes moving to Liz, and unbothered by Serena’s presence he bent forward and placed a gentle kiss on Liz’s forehead. Serena had to turn away. The picture it made was just as heartbreaking as it was achingly beautiful.
Just like that it hit her and she looked back at Max. Her eyes moved over his relaxed face and his warm eyes, lingering on the soft private smile playing on his lips, made it all more clear to her. There was something he wasn’t telling her. There was a hidden happiness in him and she didn’t think that it only had to do with the news of his babies.
”But when I examined her and found out about the pregnancy, I only felt one presence. There was only one.”
Max met her eyes again and nodded thoughtfully. ”I thought about that too and I think that it was too early in the pregnancy for you to be able to pick up two energies. And one of them is smaller than the other. His energy can have been so weak you didn’t register it or just assumed it was something different.”
”But... are you sure you can have two babies in the same pregnancy?”
Max actually smiled at this and Serena could feel a weird feeling of happiness in the center of her heart. During the short, albeit intense, time period she had known Max she had never seen him smile. Not like this.

”Feel,” Max said simply.
”Pardon me?” Serena looked at him in a mixture of confusion and curiosity.
Max reached out with his hand across Liz’s body and took Serena’s hand in his. Too stunned to speak, Serena wordlessly let Max move her hand towards Liz’s body while his other hand moved away the comforter and revealed the skin of Liz’s stomach. As on her face, there was no trace of the blisters and wounds on her stomach. Her stomach had grown, stretching out around the fetus it was shielding. Max put her hand down on Liz’s stomach and repeated, ”Feel.”

So Serena did. She let her energy pour into Liz and let her mind melt with the functions of Liz’s body. She allowed Liz’s bloodstream to appear in front of her and she watched the nerve impulses skitter from one nerve cell to another. Her energy was not the same as Max’s. She couldn’t surge energy into someone’s body with the purpose of sharing that energy with the other person. She couldn’t heal. She could only pour her energy into someone to be able to read its bodily functions and, after she was done, pull the energy back to her own body.

She expertly moved through the organs in Liz’s body, but their condition was barely registered, in order to reach the main point of interest for this examination. Two life energies came to her with full force, so strong and so pure that she had to take a mental deep intake of breath to calm the awe. She was filled with the warmest feeling she had ever felt. It filled every corner, every cavern of her heart, mind and body. The feeling was so great it didn’t take her long to figure out what it was. Love.

Next she encountered something like a great stonewall, its appearance so sudden that she abruptly lost the connection. Max was watching her when she opened her eyes and was catapulted back to reality. She took a shaky breath, trying to get the intense feelings she had experienced down to a more Antarian level. That is, almost non-existent.
”Did you feel them?” Max asked.
She nodded, being too shaken to talk. Max nodded and looked at Liz. Serena followed his tender look and having the emotions still raging inside of her she suddenly had no difficulty at all understanding why Max would sacrifice everything for Liz and his family. That feeling - love - had been the greatest feeling she had ever felt. She realized that it was something like that she felt for Aldonis, but that was only a faint whisper in comparison to what she had felt from the unborn babies Liz was carrying. Love children. They had been filled with the love Liz and Max felt for each other. They were pulsating with pure love. Serena felt the urgency to embrace these new feelings, but she knew that the years of repressing those same emotions couldn’t be undone that easily.

”I...” she cleared her throat, ”I was stopped by some kind of wall...”
”It was a block,” Max answered.
Serena frowned. ”A block?” Then it hit her. ”Did Khivar put it there? Is that why she is still unconscious?”
”I put it there,” Max said quietly.
”You?” Serena looked at him confused. ”Why would you put a block on her mind?”
Max took a deep breath and Serena saw him tighten his grip on Liz’s hand. ”She was in so much pain.”
”When she woke up?” Serena had heard about Liz’s brief moment of consciousness.
Max nodded. ”I put a block on her mind to keep her from waking up. Until I have her completely healed.” He looked up at Serena, his eyes shimmering with pain. ”She was in so much pain...”
”Have you been able to heal her completely?” Serena wondered. She vaguely registered the haggard looks of Max. He looked like a living dead. He was pale, with dark circles under his eyes, and he still limped, something that should have healed on its own a long time ago. Liz looked healthier than he did and Serena silently wondered how much of his energy Max had been feeding Liz every day. Probably everything he could give her before he passed out.
”Almost,” Max whispered. There was guilt in his voice, expressing his feeling of helplessness over not being able to do more than he was already doing.

Serena really hated to bring this up, but the others were wondering and time was quickly slipping away. ”Max, we have to talk about Antar. What are you planning on doing?”
Max looked up at her, his whole body going tense. ”I haven’t planned anything.”
”The people are counting on you to help them.”
”I don’t want to be a king. I want nothing more to do with this planet. As soon as Liz is completely healed, we will be going home. To Earth.”
Serena stared at him. ”You can’t mean that. You cannot abandon your people like that! They have been waiting for this for too long. You will be leaving them without someone to lead them.”
”I helped them the best I could, with Khivar,” his voice hardened at the mention of his enemy’s name, ”My family almost died because of it! It’s more than I ever wanted. I never wanted to come to this planet anyway. The only reason I came here was because Khivar took Emma and we had to get her back.”
Serena’s mouth was hanging open in frightened surprise. She had known that Max’s interest for Antar and its people was mild, but not that it wasn’t there at all.
”Don’t you feel any obligations at all towards your people?” Serena accused.

Max looked her firmly in the eyes and said slowly, ”Leadership shouldn’t be about obligations. I cannot rule Antar only because it’s my duty to do so. Antar needs someone who is willing to fight for the people. Someone who is willing to rebuild the planet. Serena, I don’t know the Antarian people and I hate to say it, but I don’t feel enough for the Antarians to lead them. Earth is my home. I belong with humans. I cannot speak for Isabel and Michael, but I doubt that they want to stay here. They have lives back on Earth,” he looked at Liz and added softly, ”We all do.”
”You can’t do this, Max! It’s your destiny-”
Max jerked his head up at her choice of words, ”This is not my destiny. Antar is not my destiny. It might’ve been Zan’s destiny, but my destiny is on Earth. My destiny is Liz and my family.”
Serena clenched her fists as a strong urge of some feeling built inside of her. It might have been anger. It might have been hurt. She didn’t know for sure because she had never felt it before.
”This is why you shouldn’t let your emotions rule you,” she said through gritted teeth.
Max stared at her like she had grown a second head. ”Things like duty and obligation really don’t mean anything, Serena. It is forced. Do you want your people to be ruled by someone who feels forced to rule them? Who feels obligated to rule them?”

”You are the right man to do it. You have the right abilities for it. I’ve seen them.”
”It’s the heritage from Zan,” Max whispered, ”It’s not who I am. It’s a part of who I am, but I’m not only a leader. I never chose to be.”
”Faith chose you.”
Max shook his head, and said firmly, ”No. Faith gave me the qualities, but it’s up to me what I do with them. Just because someone can sing doesn’t mean that person will become a singer.”
Serena could feel something bubbling inside of her, wanting to erupt. To explode. She wanted to yell at him, shake him. Make him understand that he had to guide his people or they would perish.
”This isn’t about some singing career-”
”No,” Max interrupted. ”This is my life. This is my family’s life. I don’t want my children to grow up here. I want them to be able to see blue sky, see fields of sunflowers, bathe in the ocean. I want them to feel safe and not be followed around by bodyguards because a follower of Khivar will seize any opportunity it can to kill them. I want them to meet their grandparents. I want to see them grow up, go to school, graduate, get married...”

”Those are just wishes, Max. We all have them, but sometimes dreams don’t come true-”
”Is it too much to ask that I want my children to be safe?” She could hear that he was getting angry.
”No,” she answered.
”I haven’t decided on what to do about Antar yet, Serena. But I will not just leave it to its mercy. If I cannot lead your people, I will find someone who will.”
Serena knew that she should probably feel a little relieved by his promise, but they had been waiting for him to rule Antar for so long. Who should rule Antar if he wouldn’t?
”Who?”
Max looked her directly in the eyes when he answered, ”I have someone in mind.”
”Someone?”
Max took a deep breath, his gaze drifting to Liz. ”Serena, are we finished? I will concentrate on that later. Just not right now.”
Serena had so much more she needed to talk to him about, but was frustrated when she realized that she had to leave Max alone now.

”Is it... Is Liz’s present condition a secret, or may I inform the men?” she asked, as she stood up.
Max eyes traced Liz’s facial features as he contemplated her question. ”It is a secret for now,” he answered after some seconds had passed. ”I want to talk to Michael and Isabel first.”
Serena nodded and then halted when something struck her. Max hadn’t told Michael and Isabel about the babies. He had only had the chance to tell Emma. The fact that he had told her before he had told Michael and Isabel made a warm feeling settle over her heart.
”Okay,” she whispered.
With a last look at Max and his soul mate, she quietly left the tent.


TBC...

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Postby max and liz believer » Sun Jan 18, 2004 7:18 am

Well, look at that... I’m back :wink:

And I come bearing gifts :D


But firstly, the most important thing; thank you everyone so much for the feedback, the bumps and the support!!


out of this world – Hi! I really love it that you sometimes leave feedback here and sometimes on the repost board. Thank you so much for the feedback!! And thank you for checking in once in a while… :D

Love Is Forever – Thank you so much!! :D :D

PuReDrEaMeR05 – Well, you’ll have to wait yet another chapter to see who Max has in mind for ruling Antar in his place :wink: Thank you so much for the feedback!!

roswelluverAlways leaving feedback… Thank you!! :D

youre my dreamgirl – Yes, who’s gonna rule in Max’s place? Well, that’s not revealed in this chapter, but the consecutive. But the trip back to Earth is getting closer… Thank you so much for the feedback and the bump!! :D :D

BehrObsession – Your assessment of Serena is very correct. For a warrior, she has amazingly much faith in things staying the way they have always been. She believes that it’s the routines, the predictable, of her life that ensures that she will survive. But Serena is actually the one of the aliens that is mostly opening up to human feelings, whether she’s intending to do so or not… Thank you so much for the feedback!!! :D :D

AmeliaML4 – I’m so happy that you followed me here from ff.net. This is my real home… To be honest, I way too often forgets to update over at ff.net :oops:. It’s much more fun here :wink: Thank you so much for the feedback and the bumps. You check in from time to time and you let me know that you do so. So thank you. That means a lot!! You were wondering if there would be a third book of this story. I haven’t anything planned, but I never plan further than the next word ahead when I write, so anything can happen lol. But I think I’ll stop after Book 2… :)

Stefanie – Hi sweetie! I can never thank you enough for the long, detailed reviews you post on my stories. I think you know from on experience how much that means. I love it when somebody else analyses what I’ve written. That means that I have written something worthy of analyzing, that is, something with meaning and content. You brought up Maria, Alex and the others left behind on Earth. I’ve thought about myself to focus on them in some chapter, but I haven’t reached the point of actually doing it yet lol. Thank you so much for all the bumps and everything!! For always being there… Btw, Gaby got your licquorice and she just loved that you thought about her. She thanks you very much!!

Elizabeth – Girlfriend, I can never thank you enough for the effort and time you put into editing all my chapters. I’ve tried but I can’t formulate my gratitude in words… So thank you! From the bottom of my heart!! :D :D And thank you for the feedback! :D

mmcheron - Once again, welcome to this story and to the board. Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D

Nan – Hi girl! :D Thank you so much for the feedback and thank you for checking in from time to time and giving me support and the encouragement to go and write another chapter! :D

Norma Bates – Thank you!!! :D :D


Now, let’s move to the update, shall we?




Chapter 20


”Mommy?”
”Darling, you have to stay here. Stay quiet. It’s like that game we taught you. You remember that game?”
”Yes.”
”Good girl.”
The room vibrated with the ominous sound of the thick wooden door being forced open. The young mother quickly scrambled to her feet, so that she wouldn’t reveal her daughter’s hiding place. Her mate put up his hands in front of him in an act of surrender and apprehensively, albeit calmly, started talking, ”Just tell us what you want and we will-”
There was a loud deathly sound and the little girl could hear her mother scream -- a scream ending in a death rattle as her soul was being torn from her body. The little girl put her hands over her ears, the tears streaming down her cheeks, as she tried to block out all the sounds that followed. How her mother was beaten to the ground and how the men forced themselves on her until she was begging for mercy.

And then they had her killed.



She bolted up from the painful sleep, her hand automatically moving to her left in the search of the person who could comfort her. Her hand met nothing but the cool material of the sheets. No one else had slept beside her tonight. She brought the comforter closer around her body, trying to reduce the trembles. Her body started rocking to still the fear surging through her and the endless stream of tears running down her cheeks. Painfully, she tried to block out the emotions. Think of something else. But tonight it wasn’t working. Maybe it was because Max had looked at Liz so tenderly that it had reminded her of how her own mother used to be. Or maybe it was because Max had announced that he would be abandoning the Antarians, shredding their last piece of hope.

With a strangled sob, she crawled out of bed. She needed some air. She couldn’t go back to sleep, or the nightmares would continue to haunt her. Pulling another shirt over her head, she stepped out into the cool night. Her eyes drifted to the sky, which had taken on a tint of dark green, almost black. The soft and warm red Xerios, the dying sun, always provided her with comfort. But not tonight. Tonight she couldn’t stop thinking about how beautiful Antar used to be. How free and friendly. She had only been a little girl when her parents had been killed and Khivar had taken power. But she could still remember the time before her life was drastically altered, before she was forced to go underground and change her identity. The tears stilled on her cheeks, making her feel cheeks dry in the night air. The camp was silent. Almost everyone was asleep. She noticed some guards in the fringes of the camp, but they knew better than to leave their posts and come and ask her how she was doing. Not that Antarians did that anyway. They didn’t know how. They barely showed any feelings, and didn’t feel any either. Thus, they had no clue to how to deal with them if someone lost their control.

Absently observing the sun spots on Xerios, she wondered if Antar had ever been anything like Earth. If Antarians had been like Earthlings. Some days, the longing to be able to feel real emotions and not be restrained to show them, made her ache. On other days, she was grateful that she didn’t have to deal with any of the turbulent emotions she had seen the hybrids harboring. Once, Antarians had been able to feel. They had committed to each other because they loved each other, not because it was convenient or the genes were right for copulation. Once, people had been free and happy. They had been laughing, crying, hugging, and smiling. They had been alive.

She shivered. Not because of the coldness of the still night. The memories haunted her.
”Serena?”
She jumped at the sound, spinning around. She visibly relaxed when she saw who it was, but mentally admonished herself for letting her guard down.
”Isabel.”
”I couldn’t sleep, and I thought I heard someone-” Isabel started, walking out of the shadows towards Serena. As Serena turned her face more fully towards Isabel and the dim red light from the sun fell over her face, Isabel’s voice trailed off.
”Are you okay?” she asked worriedly, watching the tears on Serena’s cheeks.
Serena quickly turned her head away. She had forgotten the physical signs of her turbulent inner state. ”Yes,” she answered quickly. She bent her head and rubbed the lingering tears off her cheeks.
There was a pause and she could feel Isabel’s eyes on her.
”Are you sure?” Isabel finally asked.
”Yes,” Serena answered, the professional and emotionless nuance of the voice she usually used slowly reinstating itself as she fought to recompose herself.

They stood next to each other as the silence fell over them.
“You miss home, don’t you?” Serena asked.
Isabel turned her head and observed Serena’s profile. “Yeah,” she answered quietly.
“Do you… do you have someone there waiting for you?” Serena asked tentatively.
Isabel couldn’t hide the surprise on her face as she looked at Serena. That was a question she had never anticipated Serena would ask.
“Yeah,” Isabel answered, turning her head to look off into the distance, her thoughts lingering on that particular person waiting for her on Earth. “At least I hope so.”
Now it was Serena’s time to be surprised. “You’re not sure?”
Isabel shifted her eyes down to her feet, an insecure smile grazing her lips. “Well, we were… Alex and I were never really together…”
“Alex?”

Isabel’s smile warmed and she met Serena’s eyes. “Yes, Alex.”
She spoke his name with gentle softness, which made a distant and bittersweet smile form on Serena’s lips. Right now at this moment, she would give anything to feel what Isabel felt whenever Alex was brought up.
“He’s always had this crush on me,” Isabel said softly, “At least that’s what Liz tells me.”
“Crush?” Serena asked, the word not sounding familiar to her.
“Oh sorry,” Isabel apologized, “He has had these, you know, romantic feelings about me for ages.” Receiving an understanding nod from Serena, Isabel continued, “And I never noticed him. He was like a fly on the wall. I was too caught up in everything going around me. In keeping my secret safe, I was too blind to see what a wonderful person he was. I guess the circumstances forced me to get to know him and I’ve never been more grateful.”
“What happened?” Serena asked.

Isabel’s eyes took on a far-away expression, as she remembered things that had happened a long time ago, in another time, because that’s what it felt like. She had been so different then, everything had been so different.
“There is this restaurant in Roswell, where we live on Earth, called the CrashDown. It is owned by Liz’s father, and Liz was helping out there as a waitress. Consequently, Max spent all his free time there.”
“Really?” Serena asked interested.
Isabel rolled her eyes at the memory playing out inside her head. “Yeah, he was always watching her every move. But he never approached her. Never talked to her, at least, not more than was necessary. You see, we had this pact, Michael, Max and I, to not get involved with humans. It was not safe. It would probably require that we revealed who we were and we didn’t trust anyone with that secret.”

“What changed?” Serena asked. She could understand the secrecy Michael, Isabel and Max had lived with. The double life they had been forced to lead. She had been forced to do the same. She had been forced to hide who she really was to keep herself from getting killed. Up to this day, not even Aldonis knew her real origin. He knew about her nightmares, but he didn’t know the cause of them. She had never told him. The fear had stopped her, even if she had wanted to. God, had she wanted to tell him everything. But something had held her back.
“Liz was shot,” Isabel said, her eyes darkening. The memory still plagued her. She hadn’t been there in the restaurant, but she still got nauseous when she thought back to the arguments she’d had with Max after he had saved Liz’s life. It sickened her when she thought about that she had yelled at Max for saving someone’s life. She had been so selfish.
“She was?” Serena asked, her eyes opening wide with fear. She had read about what effects guns could have on the human body.

“Max healed her. Right there in the middle of the restaurant,” Isabel continued, “Michael tried to stop him, but not much can get between Max and Liz.”
“I have noticed that,” Serena whispered.
Isabel smiled at her. “Max asked Liz to cover for him, to lie to the Sheriff. He trusted her to do so. She surprised us all when she did. Liz really came through. She stood up for us through everything and she opened up this whole new world to us. She really brought us to life. Max mostly, but each and every one of us were affected by what she did for us.”
“And Alex?” Serena questioned.
“Liz, Maria and Alex were this really tight-knit group. They’ve been together since fifth grade or something,” Isabel explained. “Liz wanted to keep Max’s secret to herself, but Maria was too persistent and I guess Liz really needed someone to confide in, so she told Maria.”
“Maria is…?”
“Maria is…” a chuckle escaped Isabel at the thought of the spunky blonde, “…she’s unique. She and Michael have this really weird hate-love relationship going on.”
“Aha,” Serena said, not really understanding what that meant.

“When you see them, you’ll know what I mean,” Isabel said. “Anyway, Max was in an accident and he was brought to the hospital. We had always worked really hard to stay away from hospitals, because our blood cells are different from humans’. When Max ended up in the hospital, they drew some blood. We quickly had to change the blood sample, so that no one would get their hands on Max’s real blood. Problem was, the only humans we had let in on the secret were women and we needed male blood, so Liz had to ask Alex. Alex, being the sweet and loyal friend that he is,” Isabel’s voice trailed off and she had to bit her lower lip to not give in to the tears threatening to fall, “agreed to let us take a sample of his blood, without any explanations. He just trusted Liz that much. He has this really pure and trusting heart.”
“It seems as if you’ve been through a lot,” Serena mused. Isabel swallowed and took a deep breath, trying to recompose herself. She really didn’t want to cry here. Not in front of Serena. They were getting to know each other better, but Isabel wasn’t the kind of person that could cry in front of just anyone.
“Yes, it’s been pretty rough,” Isabel replied absently.

Serena smiled faintly. Evidently, there was a lot she didn’t know about what had happened to Max, Michael, Liz and Isabel on Earth. There was a lot she didn’t know about them at all.
“I should go back to sleep,” Serena said.
Her quiet statement broke Isabel out of her reverie. She reached out with her hand and stopped Serena in the process of turning around. Serena looked at Isabel questioningly.
“Serena, do you want to talk about it?” Isabel asked, sincere concern in her voice. Something had upset Serena earlier. Even though she was back to being the very controlled Serena, she had been crying earlier.
Serena met her eyes, her gaze not faltering a bit. “Thank you, Isabel, but I’m just gonna head straight for bed. You should go back to sleep too. We need the sleep.”
Isabel looked at her closely, before letting go off her arm and giving her a resigned nod. “Yeah, you’re right. Good night, Serena.”
Serena smiled, but Isabel noticed the trembles in that smile. “Good night, Isabel.”

<center>--------------------------------------------------</center>

Movement.

It was movement that brought him back to consciousness. His head was heavy; his eyes were stinging, and his mouth dry.

There it was again. Something was trying to get his attention and slowly he opened his eyes. As they opened, he felt the material of her gown against his cheek and he instinctively knew where he was.

Right where he belonged.

Something jolted under his head and he was suddenly wide awake.

Lifting his head in agony, he blinked repeatedly to moisten his dry eyes. His eyelids were so heavy and his body cried for him to go back to sleep. But there was something there. Something that was keeping him from going back to sleep. Eyes staring into the darkness engulfing him, he tried to get his thoughts around what had happened before he had lost consciousness. The twinkling of bright light at the outer fringes of his peripheral vision put an abrupt halt to his wandering and lost thoughts. His head moved transfixed towards the light, as fast as it could without it feeling like it was going to explode.

Soft blue light was spreading out from under his hand. Quickly, he snapped it away, afraid that he had hurt her, that in his dazed condition he had lost control of his powers. But the light continued to glow even in the absence of his hand, even though it had lessened some in intensity at his withdrawal. His breathing getting shallow with apprehension and his mouth falling open in awe, he slowly moved his hand back to her stomach and, amazed, watched the light getting brighter the closer his hand got to her.

His heart started to beat faster as he watched the light pulse under his hand, in accordance to the rhythm of a heart. Two hearts. Slowly, he unbuttoned the gown just above the stomach. The light flickered as he placed his palm against her soft skin. His breath caught in his throat when he could feel the energy being emitted from underneath his hand. He could feel a presence tugging at his consciousness, bringing something that had been dormant back to life. Something that had been forced into sleep when Liz had run out on that battlefield. Everything that was truly her. Her mind, her soul, her smile, her laughter. All that remained was her tired body and the sound of forced breathing.

The light coming from her stomach was the first real sign that Liz still existed in this world and that the children she was carrying were still being nourished, were still breathing, growing and living. Now they were reaching out for him. He had never experienced this with Emma and he couldn’t help but feel a sting of sadness as his thoughts momentarily trailed to all of the other things he had missed. He closed his eyes and focused on the sensations he could feel starting to evade his mind. Somehow his sons seemed able to initiate a connection with him. He relaxed and opened his mind, trying to assist their weak, yet instinctive search for him.

A wave of something powerful washed over him, making his breath hitch in his throat, feelings, so intense, his mind was overwhelmed. Feelings, so raw, simple and true, his heart ached with emotion. He could feel their happiness at connecting with him, their simple wonder and their childish questions. He took a deep breath and let the oxygen flow down into his lungs again and he smiled. A peaceful, hopeful smile bringing forth tears in his eyes. They were not talking to him, not in words, but they were nonetheless communicating with him with feelings. They were telling him that they were fine and that their mother was fine. They were wondering about the feelings of self-doubt, guilt and grief in his heart. Feelings they could yet not understand, still pure at heart and untouched by the harsh world outside the protective womb of their mother.

His fingers, which had been resting calmly against her stomach, fluttered with emotion as another presence broke into the first connection between a father and his children. His eyes snapped open and the light illuminating her skin pulsated with renew intensity. Instinctively, he angled his head to her face, finding her looking at him.
“Liz…”
“Hey,” she whispered.
The hand resting on her stomach not leaving its position, he turned his body facing her and leaned forward to move his free hand through her hair. Concerned eyes met his and her first comment was about his wellbeing. “You look tired.” Her voice was weak, but it was the most beautiful sound he had ever heard.

A tear left unattended made a slow travel down his cheek as his eyes came to life. Softly caressing her cheek, he whispered, “Welcome back.”
She smiled and something broke inside of him. He fell forward against her chest. His hand left her stomach and moved towards her sides, clutching desperately at the piece of clothing covering her. Her weak arms slowly lifted from their position along her body and were gently placed around him, holding him as his body shook with tears being held back from days of pent up worry and grief, mixed with tears of relief, joy and love.
“I love you so much,” he sobbed against her chest, tears that couldn’t be soothed wetting her gown.
“I love you too,” she whispered, her fingers threading through his hair, tears pooling at the corners of her eyes at the misery she was getting from him through the connection. Her mind was still fuzzy. She couldn’t quite remember what had happened. There was desperation, a black fear of being abandoned, in Max, and that scared her. The feelings she was getting from him were raw and unshielded. Something she had never experienced from him before. Even with the connection, she knew that there had always been a part of him that he didn’t let her see in an attempt to protect her from feelings that he found embarrassing. Feelings that made him ashamed of himself and even at some times made him hate himself.

She could feel her energy returning to her, the more awake she became. Her arms tightened around him and she shifted slightly to the side. As if following a physical law, Max’s body shifted along with her and the mattress shifted as he crawled up beside her. She turned on her side, pulling him closer. His hand went around her body, his head coming to rest against the side of her throat, where he could feel the stable beating of her pulse against his cheek. His warm lips brushed against her skin as he whispered against her throat, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
His desperate plea for forgiveness surging through the connection emphasizing his words overwhelmed her with sadness and guilt. Her hot tears flowed down her cheeks, disappearing into her hair at the temple. “Shh, it’s okay. I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m not leaving you.”
“I’m sorry,” he sobbed.
Her words couldn’t get him out of the distressed state he was in. All she could do was be there for him, supporting him, loving him and taking in all his emotions. Feeling him. Really seeing the raw feelings of insecurity, self-doubt and fear in him for the first time, which she had only seen a weak shadow of before.
“Thank you,” she whispered. She had a feeling that Max had done more for her than she could ever begin to imagine. He always did. She just had to prove to him that he did. And she would.

As her arms rocked the man who meant more to her than life itself, memories slowly started to evade her mind. Her thoughts went to her daughter, to her parents, Maria and Alex. The world had fallen into pieces around her, but because a boy loved a girl so purely, Liz Parker had been given a second chance and she was going to take it. Placing a soft kiss on Max’s temple, she said softly, “Sleep, Max. I got you. Get some sleep.”
Fear of her not being there when he woke up again kept him awake for another ten minutes, clinging to her. But soon exhaustion overwhelmed him and he stopped fighting it. His hand tightened around her arm as his breathing evened out, hoping that it hadn’t all been a dream, but that she would be there when he woke up.

<center>-----------------------------------------------------------</center>

Liz slowly drifted out of the mists of sleep and became gradually aware of something pressing down on her. She took a couple of deep breaths before opening her eyes. The bright light of a new day hit her eyes, momentarily blinding her. Her senses were slowly coming back to life. She could hear the wind blowing outside, she could taste the foreign composition of air on her dry lips, and unfamiliar scents swirled around her, mixing up with some very familiar ones. Angling her head to her right, she could feel the beautiful love flood her at the sight. She took a shaky breath of relief and lifted her hand to sift through his hair. He was asleep. His face buried at the base of her neck, his lips resting against her skin. His arm was resting protectively over her stomach. Slowly, she became aware of the weight of something on her left side. She turned her head to see the dark head of her daughter resting on her shoulder.

Her breath hitched in her throat as a sob of surprised relief, joy and sadness erupted from her lips. Tear filled eyes traveled down her daughter’s curled up body and her maternal eye worriedly noticed the changes that had taken place in her baby’s outer appearance. She was so thin. So small.
“Baby,” Liz whispered, her other hand traveling up to the small of Emma’s back. Emma didn’t respond at her touch. She was sound asleep.
“Liz…?”
Liz turned back to him at the sound of his hopeful voice. She smiled when she met his eyes.
“Hi,” she whispered.
“Are feeling okay?” Max asked, lifting his head from her chest. She felt the loss immediately.
“Yes,” she smiled.
Max eyes shifted to his daughter and the surprise on his face brought Liz a tad of confusion.
“Emma…” Max said softly, with disbelief in his voice, like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“Max.” Liz’s voice prompted him to look at her. “What is wrong with her?”
Max swallowed at the sadness in her eyes.
“I can’t feel her,” Liz whispered, agony seeping through her voice.
“She…” Max’s voice caught in his throat. “She’s…”
Liz could feel fear surging through her, fueling her worst preconceptions of what could’ve happened to her girl. Emma was alive, but something was very wrong.
Liz’s hand moved to Max’s face, cradling his face. “Max…”

Max eye’s dropped, but not before she could see the very familiar guilt in them, and his hand captured hers, moving it away from his face. “I failed her, Liz. I couldn’t get to her in ti-“
“No, Max,” Liz interrupted, her voice stronger now as it was being fueled with fear, boarding on panic. “What happened?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know,” Max whispered. Tears of remorse trickled down his face and he moved himself into a sitting position. Liz hold on Emma’s body tightened as Max moved away from her. She knew what he was doing. He was closing himself off from her, to keep her from getting hurt, and that was making her even more frightened.
“When I found her, she wouldn’t talk to me. I don’t think she even recognized me.”
“No…” Liz whimpered. “What did they do to her?”
“We haven’t been able to contact her at all since we got her back,” Max continued, rising to his feet, his hands raking through his hair.
“Max… Please. What did they do to her?”
Max turned around and met her teary frightful eyes. “I don’t know, Liz. I couldn’t get there in time. Those bastards…” his fists clenched in anger and jaw tightened as he looked upwards, trying to regain his control. “Those bastards did something to her… and…”
Tears were flowing down his cheeks freely now.
“Max,” Liz begged, holding out her hand towards him.
“I wasn’t there…” Max continued. “I wasn’t there. And then he hurt you and I thought that you would die. The others were sure you were dead.”
”But you saved me.”

Her soft reply put a stop to his spoken anguish.
“You brought me back, baby.”
“I wouldn’t have had to if I had been able to protect you in the first place, if I had just fought harder to make you stay on Earth. God, Liz, I’ve ruined your life. You should be with someone normal, someone who could give you the safety you need-“
“But not the love I need,” Liz interrupted. “Max, I would’ve been dead years ago if you hadn’t been there. I would never,” Liz forced her through the connection to look at her, “never even consider trading my life or you for anything else. Normal is nothing without you, Max. I can’t live without you. Don’t you understand that? My life means nothing without you. All the things you just said. I want them. God, I want them so much. I want to be safe, and back on Earth. But I want them with you. I would rather kill myself than living without you-“
Max stepped up to the bed in two long strides. “Don’t say that.”
Liz reached out and cradled his face in her hands. “It’s what I feel, Max.”
“I want you to be happy,” Max whispered, “That’s all I ever wanted. This is killing me, to see you here and know what you have to go through just because…because of me and who I am.”
“Stop hating yourself,” Liz said softly. Her hands collected the tears falling down his cheeks. He looked at her in disbelief.

“How can you be with me, Liz? All I’ve ever done is causing you pain. Look at Emma. First, I abandon you to care for her on your own and then I failed to protect her and she was abducted to this place. Now she is barely living anymore because of what those aliens did to her-“
”Without you, there wouldn’t be an Emma,” Liz sniffed, “Without you, there wouldn’t be a Liz Parker.”
”And without a Liz Parker, there wouldn’t be a Max Evans,” Max filled in.
She smiled, her smile transforming into a sob and she wrapped her arms around his neck, burying her face in his shoulder.
“I don’t know how I will ever be able to convince you that you mean the world to me, Max,” she sniffled against his shirt, “But I have a lifetime to work on it.”
His hands tightened around her.
“I will give you a normal life, Liz. I promise.”
”I don’t want that, Max,” Liz said truthfully. “I want a life with Max Evans and somehow I don’t think it will be normal.”
She could feel him smile against the side of her throat. “Then I vow to always protect you. I want to spend my life with you, Liz Parker. I want to see our children grow up. Safe.”
”We will, baby. We will.”
He nodded against her throat, so desperately wanting to cling to that piece of hope she was handing to him.

“Did you feel them?”
He could immediately tell from the happiness in her voice who she was talking about.
“Yes,” he whispered. “They are beautiful, Liz. Just like their mother.”
Liz broke down into tears, thinking about her unresponsive daughter lying beside her. “They are. They truly are.”
She leaned back against the bed, taking Max with her. She let go off him with one hand and instead put it around Emma, pulling her petite body close. Max’s arm went around Liz’s stomach, his two sons, and his daughter.
“I love you Liz,” Max whispered, still trying to comprehend that she was talking to him again. Returning his hugs. Living. “I love you so much.”
”I love you, Max,” Liz said. “More than you’ll ever know.”


TBC...

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Postby max and liz believer » Sat Mar 13, 2004 3:58 am

I'm sooo sorry about the wait you guys. But here's the next chapter. Hopefully, the next update won't be too long into the future...


Take care everyone! And thank you again for being here; reading and leaving feedback!!

Elizabeth, thank you for the quick edit!! :D


*hugs*



Chapter 21


“I want Aldonis to take over.”

An intense silence lowered itself over the group. If they had been humans they would probably have been staring at the man responsible of such a shocking announcement with their mouths hanging open in unmistakable disbelief, but the majority of the group didn’t consist of humans. Their faces were as blank as a newly washed window. They didn’t reveal even the most miniscule trace of whether the information affected them. The only aliens showing some proof that they had in fact heard what had been spoken were Serena and Aldonis himself. Aldonis was looking at Serena, searching her face for proof that he had interpreted the foreign language he was still learning correctly. Serena met his eyes a brief second, shock briefly flashing in her eyes. Emotions were closer within her reach now then they had been before. She wasn’t a blank slate any longer.

“And I want Serena to rule by his side.”

This caused Serena to slowly rise from her seat, staring at the dark-haired man, standing at the center of the room, with a mixture of barely cooled confusion and suspicion.
“I don’t understand,” she said.
“I’m giving up the throne, but I won’t leave this planet to its mercy. I want to see it blossom and come to life. But I am not the right person to do that. My heart isn’t in it.” His voice softened and he looked at the woman standing next to him. “My heart is with Liz and Earth is our home. That’s where we grew up and that’s where we want to spend our lives together. A part of me is still Antarian and will always be. I’m not rejecting my heritage. It’s because I feel connected to this planet that I don’t want to rule it. I want it to be ruled by people who love it and will work for it to be a free place, a democracy. Where people are free to feel again and come to life. And I know that you can do it.” He gave Serena a comforting smile. “I can see the future of our people in your eyes, Serena. The person you are starting to become is also what the people will soon discover and look after in their lives.”

One of the men rose abruptly and protested coldly, “Your majesty. What exactly do you mean with Serena ruling by Aldonis’ side? She is a woman.”
The other men, warriors, around him nodded in agreement. The question had entered everyone’s head. A woman was to give support to the husband so that he could do his job. Nothing more.
Max opened his mouth to object, but Aldonis beat him to it. Standing up, he boldly grabbed Serena’s hand. The surprised look on her face revealed how uncommon, almost forbidden, it was to touch your mate in such an affectionate way in public.
“Serena will rule by my side. She will have the same amount of power as me. We will rule together in unity.” Serena looked up at him with astonishment, blinking her eyes rapidly to fight off the impending tears. She wasn’t sure if she could trust her eyes any longer.
The men observed Aldonis mutely, no one saying a word or displaying any emotions. It was only the movement of their eyes that told who of them had accepted Aldonis’s statement and who were still hesitant. Some men dropped their eyes and respectfully bowed their heads to their new king, while others still looked at Aldonis with resistance.
Aldonis shifted his attention to his king and slowly walked up to him, kneeling before him and bowing his head.
“Your wish is my command, Your Majesty,” he said softly.
“Aldonis, rise,” Max said.
Aldonis looked up, his grey eyes meeting Max’s sincere amber ones, before slowly rising to his feet.
“Listen to me, Aldonis. I don’t want you to rule this planet out of obligation or because I said so. I want you to feel it in your heart. I’ve talked this over with Liz and we feel that you are most fitted for the task of ruling this planet. You are more accustomed to the environment, the culture and the people than I will ever be.” Max reached behind him and took Liz’s hand in his and emphasized, “But I want Serena with you. The planet needs both of you. Even though I trust you to do the right thing, it’s never good to rule all by yourself. You need to listen to the people around you. You need to listen to your people. Sometimes you are wrong and you have to let the people tell you that.”
Aldonis nodded. “You are right, Your Majesty.”
Max couldn’t stop himself from smiling. “It’s Max, Aldonis. It’s you that are the majesty now.”
“You’ll always be the righteous king,” Aldonis objected.
Their gazes locked and a silent communication, quickly followed by an understanding between two men scared by battle and years of hiding, in their own respective ways. Max nodded.

“All right.” His voice faltered slightly when he felt a shift in his connection to Liz. He turned his head to look at her, finding her with her eyes closed.
“Liz?” He couldn’t help the worry to invade his voice, making it tremble with fear.
Liz opened her eyes and tried to give him a reassuring smile, but she couldn’t quite make it one hundred percent. Her eyes closed again and she blindly reached out with her hand towards Max. The meeting and the other people in the room completely forgotten, Max turned to Liz and grabbed her by her upper arms to support her.
“Liz, what’s wrong?”
Serena was walking towards them now, wanting to be close if they needed help. Maybe Liz wasn’t completely healed after all.
“It’s okay, Max,” Liz whispered and looked up at him, “I’m fine.”
“What happened?” Max asked, his worried eyes still searching her face, checking her eyes and the color of her face, while he unconsciously searched through her body through their connection for injuries.
“It’s nothing, Max. It’s just the pregnancy.” Liz was smiling at him now, but Max was still not calmed by her words.
“I get dizzy sometimes. It feels a little bit different than with Emma. Maybe it’s because it’s twins or…”
Max frowned when her voice trailed off. “Or what?”
Liz shook her head. “Nothing. It’s nothing.”
He knew that she wasn’t telling him the whole truth. He could feel her worry through the connection.
“Are you all right, Liz?” Serena asked.
Liz turned to her with a soft smile. “Yes, I’m fine.”

They returned to the meeting, finishing up the details, and slowly starting to form the new system that would take place instead of the dictatorship that had been keeping the planet in its jaws earlier. But half of Max’s attention was on Liz the whole time, and his hold on her hand was just as desperate as it was lasting. When Liz excused herself, needing to go to bed, it was with great reluctance that Max let her go. He wanted to go with her, but he knew that he needed to focus on the meeting first. He realized later that Liz had been able to stay longer, but she knew that he needed to keep focused and he couldn’t be the leader he needed to be if so much of his attention was focused on worrying about her.

<center>---------------------------------------------------------</center>

It was dark when Max returned to the tent several hours later. He brushed the opening to the tent to the side and stepped inside as silently as he could. The interior of the tent was as dark as the night outside. His eyes were still trying to accustom themselves to the darkness, so he didn’t notice her position until he was up close to the bed. She was lying on her side, her legs pulled up to her chest, one arm around her knees and the other one around Emma, lying beside her. His heart skipped a beat when he noticed the shivers making her body tremble. Her eyes were closed and she seemed asleep, but something was obviously wrong.
As if death had been hunting him, he quickly crawled into the bed, moving up on his knees next to her curled up form.
“Liz?” he whispered, brushing a dark strand of hair away from her damp forehead. His heart was beating wildly in his chest. He couldn’t feel all of her through the connection and that terrified him more than anything, reminding him of another time when the black darkness of her absence had been enough to suffocate him.
She didn’t react to his voice and his fears skyrocketed. His hands moved to her shoulders as he turned her to her back. Even though his movements were frantic by now, his touch was still gentle.
“Honey? Liz, wake up.”
The cold hand around his heart lessened its death grip some when Liz moaned softly. He took a hold of her shoulders and gentle shook her.
“Max?” she murmured, her eyes fluttering open.
Relief flooded him and he smiled at her. But he couldn’t hide the worry that was coursing through him.
He brushed the hair away from her face, gently cradling her face. The same gesture he had done so many times before. The same gesture he had done the first time he had let her see into his soul. “Baby, are you okay?”
She blinked sleepily and nodded. “Mhmm.”
”Do you feel nauseous? Are you cold? Are you in pain?”
His worry washed over her like a cold shower and she was instantly awake. She scooted back up against the headboard, moving up into seated position.
“Max? What happened? What’s wrong?”
“Are you okay?” Max asked again.
Liz pulled the poor replica of a comforter up to her chin and frowned. “Yes. What’s wrong?”
“You were shivering,” Max said, his fingers tracing invisible lines in her face.
“I’m a little cold,” Liz answered, her voice calm, but it wasn’t enough to make Max relax completely. “That’s probably why I was shivering.”
Max’s broke eye-contact with her just to look down at her stomach, which was still fairly flat, and his eyes followed his hand as he placed his palm against the fabric of the T-shirt covering her stomach.

His worry was so palpable that she would have been able to feel it, even without the mental connection between them.
“You were so sick when… when Emma…”
Liz softly interrupted his stuttering fearful voice by capturing the side of his face in her hand, guiding his eyes back to hers. “I didn’t have you then. That’s why I was sick. I didn’t have you. Our connection was severed because of the amnesia and it was hurting me. But now when we have it back, there’s nothing to worry about.”
“What about the dizziness?” Max whispered. He desperately wanted to believe her. He desperately wanted to be soothed by her words. But he couldn’t help but worry about her. He would probably never stop doing that.
“It’s normal, Max. Many pregnant women experience dizzy spells.”
“The shivering?”
Liz mustered up a comforting smile. “Honey, that probably had nothing to do with me being pregnant. I was just cold.” Her voice taking on a lighter quality, she continued, “Not everyone is immune to temperature shifts you know.”
But her attempt to lighten the atmosphere fell flat to Max’s ears. “They are alien… What if they harm you in any wa-“
“Max,” Liz interrupted, more sternly now, “I’ve already been through one pregnancy and it turned out okay, didn’t it?”
Max swallowed and glanced over at their sleeping daughter, and was for a moment reminded of how Emma had been when he had first met her. So carefree and happy. Now she was just… gone.
“Do you want to check on them?” Liz asked.
Max sighed gratefully and nodded. Liz scooted down into the bed until she was flat on her back, before pulling up her gown, exposing her stomach. Taking a deep breath, fear still crawling around in every part of his heart, Max lowered his hand to her skin, feeling the familiar tingle when his palm touched her stomach. He tried to will his beating heart down enough to concentrate on collecting his powers. His worry and fear was only strengthened when he initiated the connection. Something that was often easy to do, was taking a lot of effort. Something was obviously wrong. His hand was shaking as he forced himself to concentrate on the life forces inside Liz’s womb. He could feel them responding to his touch, seeking him out. He could feel their essence reaching out to him. It didn’t take him long to realize that they were okay. He gentle separated from their souls and broke the connection.

“Are they okay?” Liz asked when he opened his eyes and his body fell back to rest against his heels. He nodded mutely.
“Max?”
She could feel that something was wrong, but there was so many emotions being transferred over their connection that she had difficulties distinguishing one from the other.
“Is something wrong with them?”
The fear in her words hit him like daggers and he quickly shook his head. “No. No, they’re fine, Liz.” But you aren’t.
She looked at him for a long time, trying to read his facial expression.
“Please don’t lie to me,” she whispered.
Max shook his head in denial and pulled her close, gently placing a loving kiss on her forehead. “They are fine, love.”
He pulled her towards him, wrapping his arms around her. Liz tried to resist him at first, tried to force herself to make him tell her what was wrong, but then his love, mingled with the warmth of his body, protectively surrounded her and she relaxed in his arms.
“I need you to tell me if something’s wrong, Liz,” Max whispered against her ear.
Max’s words reminded her of the suspicions, the worries she had felt since she had regained consciousness. She opened her mouth to tell him, but just then she felt Max’s arms tighten around her and his fearful and concerned face flashed through her mind, and she couldn’t do it. She didn’t want to weigh him down with her worries too, when he had enough worries on his own to last him four lifetimes. Besides, her intuition might be wrong this time. It was probably nothing. She was okay.

But even as they lay down together, wrapping up in each other, the dark thoughts wouldn’t leave her mind. The fact that the connection to Max was slowly diminishing, like someone was gradually turning down the volume to a speaker, and the fact that she felt so weak, like she wanted to sleep the whole time, were whispering at the back of her head. It took her a long time to fall asleep that night, vividly aware that Max remained awake.

<center>-----------------------------------------------------</center>

Liz woke up to someone crying.

Dimly, she pulled herself out of the restless sleep and the first thing she noticed was Max’s absence next to her. Her hand automatically searched the empty space to her right, finding the sheet-like material under her fingers still warm.
“Max?”
“I’m right here.” The response came from her left and she slowly sat up, the darkness clinging to her body. Max was kneeling on the floor, his hand slowly threading through their daughter’s dark hair.
“I think she’s dreaming,” he said, the sadness making his words sting like acid. “But I can’t wake her up.”
Liz fought her way through the helplessness in his voice and reached for the calmness inside of her. The calmness she’d had years to practice on when she could have been panicking about dying and leaving her daughter all alone.
“Baby,” she whispered, gently brushing her fingers against Emma’s damp cheek. Emma’s eyes were moving rapidly behind her closed eyelids. Perspiration was covering her forehead and her neck. “Wake up, honey.”
Liz could feel Max’s eyes on her. She knew that they hadn’t been able to contact Emma at all, so he really shouldn’t have much faith in her waking up now all of the sudden. But for some reason, Max didn’t give up. He didn’t give up on the ones he loved. The gaze that was now lingering on her didn’t doubt her, it wasn’t questioning what she was doing or even considering her stupid for even trying. She could feel the warmth in his gaze. She could feel the belief and trust in her. She could feel the never-ending love and support. He wouldn’t stand back and let her do it by herself. She had been forced to fight many battles alone and he wasn’t going to make her experience that again.

She raised her eyes to his face, biting her lower lip in an attempt of having the mild pain drown the almost uncontrollable urge to cry. Her child was dying, in their arms, and all they could do was sit by and passively watch.
“What are we going to do, Max?” she whispered, her words laced with fear and anguish.
Max looked down at Emma and then reached over his daughter and captured Liz’s hand. “We have to go back.” The firm squeeze of his fingers around hers enhanced the determination in his voice. “The meeting today was just one meeting and there’s still a lot to do before we can leave. I have to make sure that I’m not… I’m not abandoning them.”
Max lowered his eyes in guilt. He felt like he was letting down his family, because he was prioritizing Antar before them.
“I know you do,” Liz said softly. “It’s just… it’s just so hard. I’m so afraid that every day we just don’t do anything, she’s going to get worse.”
Max nodded, her words confirming his deepest fears. What if he was racing against time – again – and this time might be his last chance. This might be when he lost the battle, when his daughter would be lost.


<center>---------------------------------------------------------</center>


Earth, United States of America, New Mexico, Roswell


“Maria?”
Alex poked his head through the door, but his searching gaze couldn’t find the blonde girl anywhere.
“Maria? Are you here?”
Mildly confused, he stepped over the threshold, the almost eerie silence wrapping around him.
“Maria?”
She had called him half an hour ago, wanting him to come over for dinner. They had almost made meeting on Friday nights and cooking together into a tradition. It was something to keep each other company and offer silent support. They never touched the subject of the absence of the larger part of the I-know-an-alien club. They had a silent agreement to not discuss it. It was just a relief for them both to be in the presence of someone who knew the truth and knew what the other person was going through.

Life on Earth had been chaos since Maria dropped the bomb on Liz’s parents. Well, really she dropped several bombs. Liz being alive. Liz having a child. Max being an alien, as well as Michael and Isabel. Max, the alien, being the father of Liz’s child. Finally, telling them that Liz was not really on this planet anymore, because their granddaughter had been kidnapped and taken to another planet. Alex was actually surprised that the Parkers were handling it so well. He was even surprised that Maria was handling it so well. Just the fact that she had gotten herself out of that situation without making a complete mess of everything was just remarkable. It reminded Alex once again of how much they had all been forced to grow up the last couple of days. They had all changed in some way or the other. Their perspective was probably different than other people their age’s were. They saw things in a completely different light.

But even taking all the experience and everything they had gone through into consideration, it didn’t prevent Alex’s heart from speeding up when there still wasn’t a response when he called Maria’s name. He repeated her name, his voice louder, as he crossed the living room floor, quickly scanning every part of the room after Maria. He pushed the door to her room open and there she was. Sitting on the floor next to her bed, her legs spread out in front of her and photos covering her legs. One of the photos was clutched to her chest and tears were streaming down her face.

Without a word, Alex kneeled next to her, gently gathered the photos and put them away, before guiding Maria into his arms.
“Shhh…” he soothed, holding her trembling frame in his arms.
“What if…” Maria hiccupped, “What if they don’t… they don’t come back.”
“They will, Maria. They will.”
“But what if…what if they don’t?” her sobbing voice echoed, reviving the embers of fear deeply hidden in his own heart.
“We just have to believe that they will,” Alex whispered, gently stroking her blonde hair. Her hair had grown during the last couple of months. At the beginning, everything had appeared normal – on the outside. But the interior chaos soon spread to the outside as well and she stopped to care. She didn’t apply any make up. She didn’t cut her hair. Her hair was hanging loose and she wore sweatpants and sweatshirts everyday. She still went to class, though. It kept her mind occupied.
“I can’t lose her…again, Alex. I just can’t.”
“You haven’t lost her, Maria. They will be back. She’s the smartest girl we know and she’s with the smartest guy we know. Together they can do anything. They’ll be back. We have to believe that. We have to believe.”
Maria nodded against his shoulder, the photo of Liz, Alex and herself, with a grumpy Michael poking out his head from the kitchen in the background, being pressed against her heart as she tried to seek comfort in Alex’s familiar arms. But it wasn’t the arms she longed for. It wasn’t the arms she missed. It was a good substitute, but it wasn’t enough. Not by a light year.



TBC...

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Postby max and liz believer » Sat Mar 27, 2004 9:38 pm

Thank you so much for the feedback, everyone!!

Stef, thank you for your bumps!! :D :D



Chapter 22


The mind is a dangerous thing. It can tear you down or it can build you up. Your own mind can turn on you and turn you into something you’re not. But is that really its intention? Isn’t the mind trying to fight you just because it wants to save you? To help you see things that you’ve missed, but have been right in front of you the whole time?

Memories.

Thoughts.

Feelings.

All bundled up into a confusing and fearful mixture, playing through your head over and over again. If it gets to be too much, would you be able to handle it? Would you be able to withstand its power? Or would you succumb?

It was the hardest decision known to mankind that was haunting his mind that night: the decision between life and death. He was panicking, but at the same time trying to distance himself. He was trying to make lists, but the lists were destroyed by items that weren’t following the system. He was trying to find the facts, what he knew, and then come to a decision. But what he had already known from the beginning was that he would never be able to make a decision. Because there was nothing he could do to make things better.

Facts.

The only thing he knew with certainty was that something was happening to Liz. He had healed her completely. He had checked on her so many times. Checked every single cell until he was teetering on the brink of deadly exhaustion. There was nothing wrong with her. Nothing physical. What he couldn’t get out of his mind was Liz swaying on her legs with her eyes closed, her face pale and her hand reaching out for him to support her. Asking him for his help. What he couldn’t forget was how she had been shivering and sweating in bed earlier that same night. Even though there was nothing physically wrong with her, nothing wrong with her body, there was something working inside of her that was slowly destroying her.

”But if it’s a power, why is it hurting her?”
”It’s probably due to the fact that she is human, and her body can’t handle the power.”
”But a power is supposed to help you, to protect you.”
“In an alien body, where the powers are integrated into the DNA, they do.”
“But in a human body the powers are treated like a virus, and thus act like a virus.”


The memories invaded his mind. They had always been lurking at the back of his head, but when Emma had been taken, he had pushed them away, because Liz had seemed better.

”The one thing I could resemble it to would be the human disease HIV. As the powers are progressing and are starting to become stronger or more rooted in your system, your body will not be able to control it and the immune system will break down, just like in the last stages of HIV-”

All he could think about was Liz’s pregnancy. He loved those children inside of her already. It would be so physically easy to move his hand to her stomach and end the children’s existence. But the ease with which his hand could move towards her stomach didn’t equal the difficulty he would have actually doing it. How was he supposed to choose between his children and the love of his life? He knew, deep inside of him, that the babies were harming her. He knew that, just because they were alien, they were eating away at her body from the inside out, just like Emma had. But Emma was just one person. Now Liz was carrying two.

Either Liz would die or he would have to kill the lives inside of her. It was not an obvious decision. Not at all.

His eyes closed against the darkness of the night, reaching for the darkness inside his mind. Not for the first time, and probably not for the last time, he cursed his own faith. He cursed the fact that he was not human and that he had put Liz in such great peril. If only he had been able to control himself and stay away, she wouldn’t had been on another planet in another solar system, with one apathetic child and two alien children harming her body while she was carrying them in her womb.

Fighting against the deep dark hole inside of him, which was flooded with acidic guilt, he turned towards her and buried his head in the crook of her neck, feeling the soft texture of her hair against his cheek, and breathed her in. His hand slowly, almost guiltily for what he had been thinking, came to rest on her stomach, resting on the lives which were unintentionally harming her.
“I’m so sorry, Liz,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

When Max’s breathing evened out into a troublesome sleep, Liz’s eyes opened and she swallowed back the fear and the tears. His guilt-ridden words were echoing in her ears and she pulled him closer to her. Things were falling apart around her. Max and her connection, Emma… Max. Like Max had mentioned before; they had to go back. Back to Earth. Back to Roswell. Otherwise they wouldn’t survive.

<center>-------------------------------------------------------</center>

“:..would like to present to you, your new king…”

“…leaving. My home is on a planet called Earth…”

“…with my mate and my children. There will be means to contact me, but if I were you, I would put my faith in Aldonis and Serena’s hands. They are good people and they…”

“…do just fine, Serena. I trust you and Aldonis. You are the right people for…”

“…with Liz? Is she sick? She looks pale…”

“…leaving tomorrow…”

“…communicators. This is how we will be able to stay in touch with each other. Just in case…”

“…let them feel again. Your society isn’t worth much without feelings…”

“Thank you, Max and Liz, for everything.”

“…take care of her, Max. She doesn’t look well.”


The days passed in a flash of confusion for Max and Liz. Max was trying to make sure that he wasn’t leaving Antar to the universe’s mercy by leaving too soon. He had meetings every day, came home to Liz in the night and collapsed out of fatigue on the bed. Liz was trying to keep his hopes up by pretending that she was okay, even though the connection between them was slowly getting weaker and Emma’s condition wasn’t improving. Emma was still an empty shell, like her soul had escaped her. She wasn’t responding to anything and she was asleep most of the time. Liz had constructed something similar to diapers and put on Emma, because she wouldn’t go to the toilet. They had to force her to eat and it was mostly something similar to soup, because the task of just getting her to eat was strenuous enough. Getting her to chew was close to impossible.

It was Michael, Serena and Isabel who were keeping everyone going. Without their discreet support, Max and Liz probably wouldn’t have made it. Michael was helping Max as much as he could, trying to ease the heavy burden of responsibility weighing down on his shoulders. Isabel was assisting Liz with Emma as much as she could. She had gotten Liz to promise not to lift Emma on her own, since she was pregnant.

It was with deep relief that they stepped onto the ship that would take them back to Earth that day. They were all worn and exhausted, like soldiers coming home from several years of war. But it wasn’t their bodies that had battled, it was their hearts; their souls. Memories, which would never completely disappear, had been engraved into their minds as a constant reminder of what had happened. The questions of their origin had been answered, but the answers hadn’t been satisfactory. Nevertheless, the whole experience had made them look upon Earth in another way. It was their home and they never wanted to leave it again. They were finally going home.

<center>---------------------------------------------------</center>

Earth, The United States of America, New Mexico


He never thought he would be here again. The last months he had spent on Antar he had actually started to believe that he would never return. But he was so close now. He was so close to her. To his home. He had never understood the true meaning of belonging somewhere until he met Maria. Even though he had thought for a long time that Max and Isabel were the only ones who ever could understand him, they never could. They had what he was missing. They had a family who loved them. They were accepted. They never had to be ashamed of their background. They had something to fall back on. He had had nothing until Maria came along. She was just what he needed. Even though he was resistant at the beginning, god was he resistant, she didn’t give up. She fought for him, but she never let him know that she was fighting for him. If she had let him know just how much she cared for him and how much she wanted to be a part of his life, he would have run away so fast that she wouldn’t have even been able to see the dust in his wake.

He kept letting her down. He kept hurting her, yelling at her, turning his back on her, but for some reason she always came back. Maybe it was just the competitive streak in her that never would allow him to win and to get his way, or maybe she actually had some feelings for him. It wasn’t until he had left with Max, to help him as his second in command, that he realized how much she had come to mean to him too. Life on Antar would have been so much easier to endure if she had been by his side. He had lain awake at night, longing to bicker with her. He woke up in the morning with the memory of her kiss tingling on the surface of his lips.

But then he looked at Liz and Max and what they were going through, and he was happy that Maria was only with him on Antar in his dreams and memories. He didn’t want anything to break that spirit inside of her and Antar might have been the force to kill it as it had almost done with Max and Liz. His eyes drifted away from the road and he looked in the rearview window at Max and Liz in the backseat.

Liz was sick.

It wasn’t just the pregnancy. Liz might have been able to fool them in the beginning, but anyone could see by now that the pale pallor of her skin and the dark circles under her eyes wasn’t a consequence of a normal pregnancy. She was asleep; her body curled up next to Max’s. To the outside observer, Max could’ve been taken for being asleep as well, but Michael knew that he wasn’t. He was resting, but he wasn’t asleep. He hadn’t slept for days and it was the worry for Liz and Emma that was keeping him up. Michael had known Max for a long time and didn’t take him long to figure out that something was gnawing on Max’s conscience. It wasn’t just about Liz’s health anymore, there was something else. Like a decision hung heavily on his shoulders.

Emma wasn’t any better.

She was curled up against the door in the backseat. At first, when Liz had been awake, Liz had held her close, but as Liz had drifted off to sleep, Emma had curled up away from her parents. As if she couldn’t handle their presence.

Michael caught the tightening of Max’s arm around Liz even before she moaned quietly. The incident that had occurred as they had stepped off of the ship was something he never wanted to experience again. Liz had gone into some state of shock, choking and her lips turning blue as she tried to breathe. Michael had felt the change in the atmospheric pressure as well. The composition of oxygen and carbon dioxide was a little bit different on Antar in comparison with the composition on Earth. But even though Michael had felt a little light-headed, it wasn’t even close to the reaction Liz had. It could have been an alien thing, and that’s why Emma didn’t react either. But it scared Max. Michael had seen the raw fear in Max’s eyes and in that exact moment, when looking into his old friend’s eyes, he had understood what Max was going through. He had understood his fear, the panic and the feeling that he couldn’t do anything to prevent whatever was happening from happening.

Max had given Liz mouth-to-mouth, because even if the air was there, she couldn’t get enough of it into her for some reason. It had been six terrifying minutes before Liz took a deep breath and started breathing on her own again. Michael had gotten them a rental car and they had only spent two minutes in the car before Liz had fallen asleep.

Isabel was sitting in the passenger seat. Her eyes were following the white line on the road, but her gaze was unseeing. Mentally, she wasn’t here in this car. Michael knew where she was: in Roswell. With her parents and Alex. Going to Antar had been tough on her, of that Michael was sure. But she wasn’t the kind of person to let anyone know that, if there were other things that were more important. That’s where the nickname “Ice Queen” came from back in high school: she never showed any emotions. It was only with Max that she was truly open. And Alex. But on Antar, she had been alone. Max had been struggling with his own demons and everything had been turned upside down. He had tried to help her, to support her, but talking was never one of his strong suites. So she had been on her own. She had been forced to keep her head high and prevent herself from feeling. Michael wondered what was going through her mind right now. She was so close to getting home.

For him, it was different. He had always been prepared to leave. Had always lived to avoid getting tied down. But he never would have imagined that coming back to Earth would feel this good. He had always thought that Antar was his home, where he belonged. He had been wrong.

He heard Isabel shift in her seat when the sign Welcome to Roswell came into view. They were here. They were finally back home.

<center>------------------------------------------------------</center>

“Nancy! Wait!”
Nancy turned around in the hallway, her hand resting on the doorknob. Jeff came up, placing a letter in her hand.
“Could you mail this for me?”
“Sure,” Nancy said with a smile and turned the doorknob. The next thing she knew, she was falling back against her husband, her legs suddenly having turned into jelly.
“Oh my God,” Jeff whispered, absently supporting Nancy with a firm grip around her upper arms, his gaze fixed upon the apparition crossing the street outside the restaurant. Their daughter, their baby girl who they hadn’t seen for almost six years, was walking towards them. At first glance, they didn’t notice the paleness of her skin or how carefully she walked. They barely noticed Max walking beside her or the little girl in his arms. But after the initial shock had worn off, they reacted. Nancy inhaled sharply before shakily stuttering towards Liz and pulling her into her arms. Jeff gave Max a quick glance before embracing both his wife and his daughter.
“Oh my God oh my God,” Nancy whispered over and over again, tears streaming down her face.
“I never thought I would see you again,” Jeff said, his voice strained with barely controlled tears.
“I’m so sorry,” Liz whispered in response, her body gradually weakening with the flow of her tears. “I’ve missed you so much.”
”You’re alive,” Nancy sobbed, planting kisses over Liz’s face. Then she pulled back, as the haggardness of Liz’s appearance suddenly became visible to her. “God Liz. You look sick. How are you feeling?” Easily drifting back into her mother role, she pressed a palm against Liz’s forehead to feel her temperature. “Liz, you’re burning up.”
”I’m fine,” Liz said weakly.
“She needs to rest.”

The soft and tired voice from behind them, made them aware of the fact that there were two other persons standing next to them. It wasn’t until then that Jeff noticed that Liz’s hand was still holding the young man’s, not even letting it go to hug her parents. A lot of different feelings exploded inside him at once and he turned towards Max.
“What did you do to her?!”
Max swallowed, guilt evident in his eyes.
“You did something to her,” Jeff whispered, the hardness in his voice slicing through Max; feeding his insecurities and guilt-ridden thoughts.
“Is that…” Nancy gasped behind her husband, “Is that…Emma?” The name of their granddaughter was spoken with breathless wonder which made Jeff’s accusing eyes shift from Max to the girl he was holding protectively in his arms.
“Yes,” Liz answered softly and walked up to Max’s side, clearly stating her place next to Max.
“Oh my,” Nancy breathed and walked up to Max. She brushed the hair away from Emma’s face, which was hidden in Max’s shirt, trying to get a peek of her grandchild. Emma didn’t turn away, but she didn’t turn towards Nancy’s touch either. She just remained still, not responding.
“Is everything...okay?” Nancy asked, her eyes turning worried. Fear was grating at her heart. Her daughter looked like a living dead and their grandchild seemed…closed off. Like she wasn’t even in this world.
“Emma is…She’s…” Liz bit her lip to prevent the tremors in her voice.
“Has…uhm… someone talked to you? How did you know Emma’s name?” Max asked tentatively.
“Maria told us,” Jeff answered, his suspicious eyes once again back to Max.
Max felt the air whoosh out of his lungs. “Did she tell you about me being-“
”Alien,” Jeff interrupted. “Yes, she did.”
His voice was cold, his eyes boring into Max. Max nodded. Being at war, fighting against aliens with powers he could barely begin to understand, never prepared him for this battle.
“She also told us that you healed Liz,” Nancy whispered. “Thank you.”

Max dropped his eyes. The ideal situation would be that he would feel good about Mrs. Parker’s gratitude, if it hadn’t been for the fact that her eyes were betraying her words.
“Max sacrificed himself to save me,” Liz said, seeing the look pass in her mother’s eyes.
“So Maria said,” Jeff said.
“Dad please,” Liz said.
“Baby, I love you and I’m trying to protect you,” Jeff said, his voice softening as he looked at his daughter, “but don’t you see the problem here? You cannot be with an,” his voice lowered into a low hiss, “alien.”
Liz’s heart dropped. Not because of her father’s words, because she had been expecting his reaction, but because Max took a step back, his fingers loosening their grip on her hand. She quickly tightened her grip on his hand, putting a stop to his withdrawal, or at least his physical withdrawal.
“Could I hold her?” Nancy asked, her eyes fixed on the motionless girl in Max’s arms.
“I don’t know if-“ Liz started, but Max interrupted her.
“Okay.”
Liz looked up at Max. “Max, we don’t know what her reaction will be.”
”It’s their granddaughter, Liz,” Max said quietly, failing to completely meet her eyes.
Liz looked at him a long second, missing the weakening connection between them more than ever as she was trying to understand what was going through his mind.
“I just want to hold her,” Nancy said. Her forehead was creased and she was looking back and forth between Max and Liz, wondering why it seemed such a big deal that she wanted to hold her granddaughter.
Liz gave her a weak smile, the corners of her mouth quivering with insecurity and she gently took Emma from Max’s arms and placed her in the arms of her mother.

Nancy looked down at the child in her arms. She was beautiful. The most beautiful girl she could ever ask for as a grandchild. But something was obviously wrong with her. She was so stiff in her arms, didn’t even move. Jeff looked at the girl a long time, before turning towards Max.
“I want you to leave,” he said coldly.
Liz’s eyes widened. “No. Dad, you can’t-“
“I can understand that this must all be a shock for you, Mr. Parker, but I can’t leave Liz.”
“Oh yes you can.”
Liz’s burning eyes centered on her father and she grounded out, “I’m not a girl anymore, dad! I’m making my own decisions. I’ve been doing that for a while now. Max and Emma are my family, and where they go I go.”
Her chin rose in defiance as she stubbornly forced down the urge to vomit. She felt light-headed and a wave of dizzying exhaustion flooded her. There wasn’t one outside sign of her faltering though, but Max knew by the tightening of her hand around his and the wave of nausea suddenly spilling over the connection. The fear he had barely been able to control since she had almost suffocated when they had landed, returned with full force.
“Liz, you need to lie down,” he whispered. The plea wasn’t intended for anyone else to hear, but the silence surrounding them was so deafening that if someone had dropped a pin, it would’ve been heard.
“What’s wrong?” Jeff demanded.
“I’m fine,” Liz answered Max. She turned to her worried parents and repeated, “I’m fine. Just a headache.”
“Liz,” Max begged, his hand tightening almost painfully around her fingers. When Liz didn’t move in either direction, Max pulled Emma out of Mrs. Parker’s arms, earning a gasp of surprise from Mrs. Parker.

Max cradled Emma close to his body and wrapped his other arm around Liz’s waist. “We have to go.”
”No!” Jeff said forcefully and caught Liz by the elbow. “You are not taking her away.”
Liz, sensing that things were dangerously close to spinning out of control, put a calm hand over the hand Max had wrapped around her waist, putting a stop to his movements.
“Max, I haven’t seen them in six years. I need to talk to them. They need to know what’s going on and what has been going on.”
Max’s head lowered towards her, his worried eyes locking with hers. “Honey, you are not well. You cannot have a discussion like that tonight.”
Nancy couldn’t help but overhear their conversation and she stepped closer to Max, “Please Max. We just want her with us one night. We don’t have to talk tonight.”
Liz shifted her eyes from her mother to Max, silently asking him what he wanted to do. His eyes traced her grayish features, the fatigue in her eyes and the darkness under her eyes. He wanted to say no. He wanted to take her to his apartment and give her something to eat and take her to his bed and curl up next to her and give her the first sleep in a human bed for ages. On the other hand, he could understand her need to be with her parents. He wanted to meet his parents as well. But that would have to wait. He wasn’t leaving Liz’s side.
“I’m staying with her,” Max said.
Jeff opened his mouth to protest, but Nancy, understanding that that was probably the only way she would have her daughter staying, beat him to it.
“Okay.”
“Thanks mom,” Liz whispered.
“I’m just going to tell Michael and Isabel,” Max said softly and bent down and placed a kiss on Liz’s forehead.
“Let me take Emma,” Nancy offered, not sure as to if Liz would actually be able to carry Emma. But something told her that Max hadn’t even been considering giving Emma to Liz. He would have taken Emma back to the car rather than having Liz carry anything.
Max agreed with a silent nod and gently lifted Emma into Nancy’s arms.
“I love you,” he whispered to Liz, she gave him a weak smile, and then he raced towards the car.
“Okay,” Jeff sighed. “Let’s go inside.”


TBC...

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Postby max and liz believer » Sat May 01, 2004 3:17 am

Hi... :oops:

I'm so sorry. I really really am. I never meant to leave you hanging this long. I hate doing that, but unfortunately school (and everything that comes with it) is taking up most of my time. I'm trying to write as often as I can, but it often only results in me have to spend most of the time re-reading what I've already written to understand where I want to take the story, and then I only have time to write two or three sentences. Which means that - theoretically - it takes me forever to write a new chapter :roll: I'm sorry about that. I'm gonna do my best to improve so that I can tie this story up soon and end it... But I still have a lot of things to deal with in this story before being able to write the final chapter.

Anyway... I have a new chapter for you today though.

I want to give a big thank you to Elizabeth for editing. She's the best!

mitra, BehrObsession, frenchkiss70, Sali103, nayney, Smac, Norma Bates, Stef, Amelia and I am a dreamer

Thank you so much for the feedback and for still reading even though I tend to disappear from time to time

Stef and Amelia - You guys are the best. Without you, this thread would be lost in cyberspace. Thank you so much for the bumps, the support and encouragement!! :D :D

Phaedra223 and Anna (I Love Orli) - Hi you guys! Thank you so much for your feedback and welcome to this fic!! I'm so happy to have you here!!!


Okay, here's...



Chapter 23


“You go first.”
Liz threw a hesitant glance in Emma’s direction, who Max had positioned on Liz’s bed.
“She’ll be okay,” Max said softly, even though the words spoke of something very far away from the actual truth.
With a slow, absent nod, Liz wrapped her arms around her, a distant look in her eyes as Emma remained at the center of her attention.
“What if she won’t?”
A sharp pain twitched through his heart at her fearful whisper. He stepped up behind her and wrapped his hands around her waist. Pulling her close, he placed a kiss on the side of her neck and then rested his chin on her shoulder.
“She will, Liz.”
“What if she never wakes up? What if she just remains dead inside?”
Max closed his eyes against the truth in her questions, against something that he was too afraid to acknowledge; something that reminded him to the decision he had to make. Feeling the guilt wash over him, he loosened his hold on her and took a step back.
“I’ll keep an eye on her, Liz. You should take a shower.”
Liz turned towards him and nodded, her eyes fixed on a spot on the carpet. Max laid his hands on her shoulders and forced himself to smile. “Honey, you know you want it. You’ve been longing for that bathtub for ages.”
The mood lightened some and Liz looked up at him, easing the pain in his chest with a soft smile.
“You’re right.”
Liz walked towards the bathroom, but Max’s voice stopped her. “Liz?”
She turned towards him. “Yeah?”
“I love you.”
He could practically see the tenseness in her shoulders lighten and she smiled, brighter this time, but still only a weak residue of the smile that could light up the world. “I love you.”
Liz started for the bathroom again when she was stopped by a feeling of hopelessness that suddenly loomed over her. Instinctively, she knew that it came from Max.
“I’m going to be alright, Max.”
He looked startled by her statement and his eyes met hers in silent question. But there wasn’t any confusion in his expression. He knew what she was implying; he just hadn’t expected her to pick up on it. He barely nodded in reply, his throat suddenly feeling too thick to voice words, let alone form a complete sentence. There was still the nagging voice at the back of his head, which not even her calm voice could silence. There was still that deep feeling of dread and helplessness crushing his heart.

It was not until he heard the water running in the bathroom that he averted his eyes from the bathroom door. His eyes wandered around the room where so many memories were imbedded: Liz’s bedroom. Something he had considered Mecca when he had been young. The room still held its importance to him and it probably always would. The room was permeated with innocence, of a time in the past when everything had seemed so much easier. It really felt as if nothing had changed when he stood there in the room. It still looked the same. It was as if time had been frozen here and nothing had ever changed. His mind could still conjure up the smell of the vanilla shampoo she had used that night when they had first made love. He could still remember how happy she had been, but as clearly as the memory of her smile was in his mind, so was the lingering sadness in her eyes. He hadn’t known the cause of it then, but now he knew. She had given up everything to act in accordance with his future self’s wishes and then she had let it all go. That night, when she had given herself to him, she had been disappointed with herself for not being able to withstand him.

It was with sadness that he sat down on the bed and took Emma’s small hand in his larger one. He was happy that Liz had succumbed and let him back into her life, but at the same time he wished that she hadn’t, because so much had changed with that action. So much of her life had been altered and so much that could have been reality for her was crushed because of his love for her. He turned Emma’s smooth hand, her skin as silky as her mother’s, so her palm faced upwards. If Liz hadn’t let him back into her life that night, Emma wouldn’t exist today. Slowly, he traced the lines on her palm, feeling the softness that only the hand of a child could have. She hadn’t grown up yet, but he had missed so much of her life and now she was destroyed, because of him. Because of whom he was.
“I’m sorry, Emma. I’m so sorry,” he whispered.

“Are you okay?”
He inhaled deeply, her voice startling him. He relaxed when he felt her arms encircle his waist and her body pressed against his. Her wet hair brushed against his back as she pressed a kiss against the side of his neck. He took another breath, letting the fresh smell of soap and shampoo, fill his nostrils.
“You smell good,” he smiled.
“Does that mean that I stank before?”
He could hear the responding smile in her voice and he captured her hands and entwined his fingers with hers, wrapping her arms tighter around his waist.
“Well…”
His voice trailed off, leaving it up to the silence to speak of what he was implying.
“Max Evans,” Liz murmured against his back as her lips softly kissed his skin just above his shoulder blades, “I think you might want to rethink that reply if you want to sleep in here tonight.”
Max took a hold of her arm and gently, but strongly, pulled her around him, so that she ended up on his lap. He couldn’t help but smile as his eyes met hers. He would never get tired to look into her eyes, to bury himself in the warmth that was Liz Parker’s soul.
“Much better,” he murmured before claiming her lips with his own.
For a moment, he let the worries and concerns that were eating away at him every moment of the day drift away and focused merely on the feeling of her soft lips and the taste of her. His decision to deepen the kiss earned him a moan from Liz, which made him warm all over. When oxygen became an issue, he slowly and reluctantly pulled away, resting his forehead against hers as he tried to gulp oxygen into his lungs.
“Do you have any idea what you do to me?” he whispered.
“I have a vague idea,” Liz said softly, her shallow breathing making his heart beat faster. “But…” She placed a lingering kiss at the side of her neck before pulling back and looking at him. “…I have to tell you that you smell pretty…bad.”
Max quirked one eyebrow at her in surprise. “Do I now?”
Liz hid her smile and nodded, biting her lower lip. Honestly, he didn’t smell bad. He smelled like Max and she loved that smell. But there were certain fragments of fragrances from Antar in his clothes and those smells disconcerted her.

“Aha,” Max leaned closer to her, his breath tickling her lips, “then you would really hate me doing this, wouldn’t you?” Closing the miniscule gap between them, he attacked her lips. There was nothing slow and tentative about the kiss. It was passionate and filled with barely restrained heated desire. Their lips moved together in the most familiar of dances, melting into one. Their hands roamed over their bodies, craving as much contact as possible. Just as she shifted in his lap, to come closer, Max broke the kiss, not being really successful in hiding the moan her last movement had elicited in him.
“Then I should go and take a shower then,” he said breathlessly, staring deep into her dazed eyes. She nodded slowly, his words being processed extremely slowly in her head, barely able to pass through the mist he had successfully created, submerging her into his soul.
But even in her dazed condition, she didn’t fail to notice how his eyes turned more melancholy and the way his fingers lingered lightly, like the brush of butterfly wings, against the side of her cheek, before he dropped his hand and gently lifted her off his lap.
“I’ll be right back,” he whispered. Liz’s gaze was fixed on his back until he disappeared into the bathroom and out of her sight. Her eyes remained fixed on the bathroom door for another couple of seconds, her mind far away, trying to decipher Max’s expression. She had a strong feeling at the pit of her stomach that something was very wrong. It wasn’t just her problems anymore, the ones she hadn’t told Max about yet. She got the strange feeling that there was something he wasn’t telling her. Maybe she should tell him about her fears. Maybe she should tell him about the connection. He must’ve felt the weakening too. Maybe that was what was worrying him.

Liz shook her head, mostly to herself, before lying down on the bed. No, there was something else. The last thought that had chance to enter her mind before sleep claimed her was that she had to speak to Max. They were drifting apart because they weren’t talking anymore. They were finally back on Earth and it was time for them to finally start living their lives – together. But her plan to talk to Max was overshadowed by the ever-present threat of death. What if she didn’t live long enough to give Max what he had always wanted?

Normalcy.

<center>------------------------------------------------</center>

His gaze remained steady, but as steadily as he appeared to be tracing the fluorescent star stickers on the ceiling, his gaze was focused on a more far-reaching outer space. He could feel how her chest was softly moving beside him with every breath, even though he wasn’t touching her in any way. He could hear the soft exhalations and he could picture how she looked just then perfectly in his mind. He had spent numerous nights lying awake, just watching her sleep. Watching the peacefulness in her face and how her lips were slightly parted. How her lips would occasionally move to form the reminiscence of a word, taken directly from the dream world she was experiencing. He had memorized every line in her face, every tiny freckle. Some nights he would let his hands hover over her, the healing powers in his hands working to pull her life force against his palms, feeling her vibrate with life in his hands, without ever touching her. But he didn’t do either today. He couldn’t touch her in any way; the guilt was too empowering. The knowledge of what he had to do was weighing him down and he still wasn’t sure he had made the right choice. The irony of it was that there wasn’t any right or wrong in this decision. There was never anything right about taking someone’s life, but he had to do it. To save hers.

His heart was thundering in his chest, feeling imprisoned by his dark thoughts and wanting to break free. He had lost count on how many times he had wished that he had been normal and that being with Liz wouldn’t harm her in any way. But just as soon as that thought entered his mind, there was the blinding realization that Liz would have died that day in September on the floor of the CrashDown Café if he had been normal. He wouldn’t have been able to help her in any way. He would have been forced to helplessly watch her die. A shiver of cold dread shook his body at the thought. He wouldn’t be able to live in a world where there was no Liz Parker. In a world where her warmth couldn’t surround him and her laughter couldn’t brighten up his day. He would be lost in a world where he couldn’t watch her every day and hear her voice. That’s why he had to do this. There were numerous feelings of selfishness, of guilt, of sorrow, of loss, but he was certain that this was the only way. The babies were harming Liz and if he didn’t do something, both the babies and Liz would die.

The darkness was dense around him, but he had been staring through it for so long that it didn’t help in shielding what he was about to do. With the feeling of a knife being turned in his heart, he turned to his side and stopped. Her head was turned to her side, her head resting against the back of Emma’s head. One of her arms was resting over Emma, while the other was stretched out next to her, as if reaching for him. He swallowed hard, but nothing could bury the taste of bile in his mouth. Forcing back the tears and the voice that was telling him to not go through with it, he took a hold of the thin sheet covering her body and pulled it down. She was wearing a thin nightgown. She told him earlier that she had bought it when she was seventeen. It still fit her, but the material was stretched around her waist, showing signs of the slight protruding of her early pregnancy. He pressed his eyes tightly together at the sight when a sharp loneliness stabbed him. He had to take several deep breaths before he could force himself to continue. Careful not to disturb her, he took a hold of the bottom of her nightgown and started to hitch it upwards. A soft sigh from her lips made him freeze and he waited; hoping that she wouldn’t wake up while at the same time hoping that she would.

He had felt it before, but never to the same degree. Not with the same loathed intensity. The disgust. The disgust for himself. Now it wasn’t only for what he was, but also for what he was about to do. He placed his hands on her stomach, but instead of having the warmth of her skin soothing him, a cold shiver raced through his heart and his hands started to tremble. His guilt-ridden mind conjured up the image of her. Her smile. Her beautiful face. Her eyes. Her lips. Her heart. The reasons to do it were many, but still not a single one was reason enough. He could feel the energy collecting in his body and sparkling down his arms, spreading warmth into his hands, his palms. But he held it back, waiting for the sign to come to tell him if he was doing the right thing or not.

He waited, but it didn’t come.

He was on his own. He took another deep breath, tears rolling freely down his cheeks, and he closed his eyes focusing on the energy inside of him. Energy to heal, to bring life; but the same energy to kill, to take life. Just then the surface beneath his hands moved. He jumped at the touch, the energy inside of him quickly retreating with the shock. Liz moaned softly and shifted, but his gaze was focused on her stomach. They moved. They just kicked.

And he knew that he would never be able to do it. The magnitude of what he was about to do and that he could already now have killed his own children washed over him and he quickly pulled his hands away from her. With trembling hands, he gently pulled down the nightgown and pulled up the sheet to cover her up. She shifted, her hand coming into contact with his thigh. He looked at it for a long second, before picking it up and feeling the soft texture of her small hand in his.
“I love you, Liz. I love you so much. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for what I am and for what I’ve done to you.”
His voice was barely a whisper, cracking with unrestrained tears and guilt. He brought her hand up to his lips and placed a soft kiss on the back of her hand. With a lonely ‘I love you’, he rose from the bed and walked into the bathroom.

<center>--------------------------------------------------------</center>

Liz awoke ten minutes later, feeling the absence of his warmth like a throbbing pain in her body. Her hand reached out to blindly fumble in the darkness. His mere absence wouldn’t have been so strange, if it wasn’t for the surge of panic moving through her body. Something was wrong. She left the warmth of her daughter and sat up in the bed, blinking repeatedly to transform the darkness into light. The furniture took form around her and she became aware of the muffled sound of water running.

She crawled out of bed and flung her legs over the edge of the bed. The floor felt cold under her feet and she shivered. Unconsciously resting the palm of her hand against her abdomen, she slowly walked towards the bathroom, ignoring the light-headedness that was trying to force her to sit down. The door was unlocked and the noise volume gradually increased when she pushed the door open. She could see the contours of his body through the thin shower curtain.
“Max?”
There was no response. Frowning, she spoke his name again, louder this time. When he still didn’t respond, she pulled the shower curtain to the side. He jumped at the sound, apparently not having heard her entrance into the bathroom. He quickly turned his head away from her, but he was not quick enough.
“What’s wrong?” Liz asked concerned, the short glimpse of his red eyes and haunted face burned into her memory.
“Go back to sleep, Liz,” came his whispered response. Or that what was he was intending for it to be. It sounded more like a tortured croak.
The panic racing through her intensified and the need to have him listen to her became harder to ignore.
“Hey!” Liz said more forcefully, reaching into the shower to take a hold of him. “Look at me!”
“Liz, please,” Max whispered, his eyes downcast as he reluctantly turned towards her.
“Max, you’re scaring me,” Liz murmured, her gaze raking over his face. Why was he moving away from her?
“I can’t…” Max breathed, refusing to meet her eyes. He couldn’t look her into the eyes after what he had almost done.
“Max, we have to talk,” Liz said. “I can feel you pulling away from me. There’s something very wrong with our connection and-“
“I can’t talk about this,” Max said.
“Yes, we have to,” Liz insisted. The water was pelting down her face, the nightgown clinging to her body, as she stepped more fully into the shower; quickly making up for every step he took backwards with one of her own. “I cannot go through this alone, Max. I need you with me.”
Her voice broke with a sob and Max faltered. He wanted to stay away from her. He didn’t want her to know what he had been about to do.
“I’m sick, Max.”
That simple sentence made his heart stop in his chest. She had never admitted it before. She had always acted like everything was just fine. To hear the words confirm what he had known for so long was terrifying.
“I might die,” Liz whispered, her voice cracking under the weight of her grief and loneliness.
Hearing that, Max couldn’t resist her any longer and he took her in his arms. He could feel the trembles going through her body and his arms tightened around her.
“Max, you’re trembling,” Liz whispered, worried.
That’s when he realized that it wasn’t she who was trembling, it was he.
“I did something, Liz.”
“What did you do?” Liz whispered softly, fear invading her.
“I… I…”
How was he supposed to tell her that he had been on the verge of killing their children? She would leave him. She would leave him immediately. But wasn’t that what he wanted? So that she could be safe?
“What is it, Max?” Her voice was calm, but due to the close proximity, the connection was more alive than ever and he could feel the fear taking over her.
“I’m… Liz… I…”
Liz pulled out of his arms, tears mixing with the water from the shower. “Max, please… What did you do?”

His stuttering reply was interrupted by a high-pitched scream, which make them both freeze.
“Oh my God,” Liz whispered agonized. “Emma.”
She turned around so quickly that her feet got caught up in each other, and she would’ve fallen, if Max hadn’t snaked out with his arm and steadied her. He ripped a towel down from a crook and tied it around his waist while his legs were simultaneously moving after Liz to get into the bedroom. Max barely had time to reach the bed, before the bedroom door was wrenched open and the light was switched on, making the room suddenly bathe in light.
“What’s going on?”
Max didn’t even bother to look up at Mr. Parker as his question rang through the room. Neither did Liz. She was already on the bed, pulling Emma into her arms.

Emma.

She was crying. Her lips were trembling and her big brown eyes, so reminiscent of her father’s, were filling up with big tears.
“It’s okay, honey. It’s okay,” Liz whispered over and over again, rocking Emma in her arms.
“Liz?” Mrs. Parker took in the scene in front of her. The crying child, the tears on Liz’s cheeks, the fact that Max was undressed. However, it was the haunted look on Max’s face that captured her attention. They didn’t need to have it spelled out for them. Everyone in that room knew that something had happened. Something had changed.
“Emma, can you hear me?” Max said gently, his body trembling as he sat down on the bed, still leaving some distance between him and Liz.
“Mommy,” Emma whispered. “Mommy… mommy… mommy…” Her voice gradually increased until she was screaming, her voice cracking, but it didn’t stop her.
“Please, honey,” Liz cried. “Please tell me what’s wrong. Please, baby.”
Liz’s desperate cries cut through Max’s heart and against his own feelings of guilt and his determination that his presence only hurt Liz he leaned closer to her and took her hand. Her hand squeezed his in response immediately and so tightly it would’ve been painful if he had noticed. As of yet, his attention was completely on Emma, who after three months of silence was communicating to the world again. Her screams slowly ripped his soul into pieces, while at the same time the noise was music to his ears.

“What is wrong with her?”
Mr. Parker’s silent question barely made broke through Emma’s screams, but the firm hand on Max’s shoulder forced Max to look at Liz’s father.
“Is she sick? What is wrong?”
“Mr. Parker,” Max’s eyes rested on Mr. Parker for only the split of a second, before returning his attention to Emma, “There are some things that you need to know, but it has to wait. Emma needs us now.”
“Dad, please,” Liz said, her voice cracking with fear and tears, “Could you just give us some privacy?” She was afraid that the presence of two strangers would put a stop to whatever progress was happening to Emma.
Mooommmy!!!
The scream sent shivers down Max’s spine and suddenly he didn’t care about being polite or careful towards Mr. and Mrs. Parker. He just had to get them out of there. Quickly scrambling to his feet, he almost pushed them out of the room, so quickly that Mr. Parker barely had time to voice his protests. The wooden door was shut behind them and Max put his hand against the lock and melted it.
“Maaax!!”
He turned quickly at her scream and the sight that confronted him turned the blood in his body to ice.


TBC...

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max and liz believer
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Postby max and liz believer » Mon Jul 26, 2004 4:01 am

Hi everyone!

I'm so sorry for the delay in updating. Real life just keeps getting in the way of my writing. I'm gonna try and get better at it. I started university six months ago and it took me a long time to adjust (being in a foreign country on the other side of the world, doing my own grocery shopping and all) and when I had finally started to adjust the workload had caught up with me and I had to study - a lot. I'm gonna try and be more structured this semester. I'm just gonna post this before I go and take a nap (I'm suffering from really bad jetlag, since I just returned to Australia from Sweden), and I really don't have any energy at all...

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of you who have left feedback, who are letting me now that you are still reading and waiting for me to update. Thank you

mareli
I am a Dreamer
Amelia
- Thank you so much, Amelia, for bumping!! :D :D
Sali103
Norma Bates
Elizabeth
mitra
smac
roswelluver
Love Of My Life
- Hi! Welcome!! Thank you so much for the feedback!!
frenchkiss70
Stef
Darling, thank you so much for all the bumps!! I can't thank you enough for keeping this story alive on the board!!
Ana
nayney
BehrObsession
Anna (I love Orli)
FloridaGirl
VeronicaB
- Hi! Welcome to this fic!! Thank you so much for the kind words!!
noelani
Butterflies
Crystal


And a big hug to Elizabeth for editing!!


End of chapter 23...


His stuttering reply was interrupted by a high-pitched scream, which make them both freeze.
“Oh my God,” Liz whispered agonized. “Emma.”
She turned around so quickly that her feet got caught up in each other, and she would’ve fallen, if Max hadn’t snaked out with his arm and steadied her. He ripped a towel down from a crook and tied it around his waist while his legs were simultaneously moving after Liz to get into the bedroom. Max barely had time to reach the bed, before the bedroom door was wrenched open and the light was switched on, making the room suddenly bathe in light.
“What’s going on?”
Max didn’t even bother to look up at Mr. Parker as his question rang through the room. Neither did Liz. She was already on the bed, pulling Emma into her arms.

Emma.

She was crying. Her lips were trembling and her big brown eyes, so reminiscent of her father’s, were filling up with big tears.
“It’s okay, honey. It’s okay,” Liz whispered over and over again, rocking Emma in her arms.
“Liz?” Mrs. Parker took in the scene in front of her. The crying child, the tears on Liz’s cheeks, the fact that Max was undressed. However, it was the haunted look on Max’s face that captured her attention. They didn’t need to have it spelled out for them. Everyone in that room knew that something had happened. Something had changed.
“Emma, can you hear me?” Max said gently, his body trembling as he sat down on the bed, still leaving some distance between him and Liz.
“Mommy,” Emma whispered. “Mommy… mommy… mommy…” Her voice gradually increased until she was screaming, her voice cracking, but it didn’t stop her.
“Please, honey,” Liz cried. “Please tell me what’s wrong. Please, baby.”
Liz’s desperate cries cut through Max’s heart and against his own feelings of guilt and his determination that his presence only hurt Liz he leaned closer to her and took her hand. Her hand squeezed his in response immediately and so tightly it would’ve been painful if he had noticed. As of yet, his attention was completely on Emma, who after three months of silence was communicating to the world again. Her screams slowly ripped his soul into pieces, while at the same time the noise was music to his ears.

“What is wrong with her?”
Mr. Parker’s silent question barely made broke through Emma’s screams, but the firm hand on Max’s shoulder forced Max to look at Liz’s father.
“Is she sick? What is wrong?”
“Mr. Parker,” Max’s eyes rested on Mr. Parker for only the split of a second, before returning his attention to Emma, “There are some things that you need to know, but it has to wait. Emma needs us now.”
“Dad, please,” Liz said, her voice cracking with fear and tears, “Could you just give us some privacy?” She was afraid that the presence of two strangers would put a stop to whatever progress was happening to Emma.
“Mooommmy!!!”
The scream sent shivers down Max’s spine and suddenly he didn’t care about being polite or careful towards Mr. and Mrs. Parker. He just had to get them out of there. Quickly scrambling to his feet, he almost pushed them out of the room, so quickly that Mr. Parker barely had time to voice his protests. The wooden door was shut behind them and Max put his hand against the lock and melted it.
“Maaax!!”
He turned quickly at her scream and the sight that confronted him turned the blood in his body to ice.




Chapter 24


“Maaax!!”

Liz’s terrified voice tore through him, freezing the blood in his veins and he quickly spun around. What he saw was enough to send any man to his knees. Blood. Liz was covered in blood.
“Liz!”
He stumbled over to the bed, his hands moving over her body in search of the source to the blood even before he had climbed onto the bed.
“No, Max,” Liz sobbed, “It’s not me. It’s not me. It’s Emma.”
His eyes met hers, his heart thudding in his ears and he could hear it slowing down as he slowly diverted his eyes away from her glittering eyes to his daughter.

He could see the blood, the red twinkling in the light, the shadows making it appear black. It was gathering in Emma’s hair, the thick fluid collecting in her ears. Blood, so much blood. Without any further thought, Max reached over and cradled Emma’s head between his hands, just seconds before her eyes rolled back in her head and her body tensed before going limp in his arms.
“Max?! Oh my God,” Liz whispered next to him. “What’s happening, Max?”
But Max didn’t hear her. He was already forming a connection with Emma, having been able to catch her eyes before they had drifted closed.

”Emma! Emma, baby…”
Max’s voice gradually fell to a forgotten whisper as he stumbled through the dark surroundings. There was hollowness around him, as if he was fumbling around in a vacuum. The darkness tried to force itself down his throat and he could feel the dampness of the air around him pressing through his clothes and against his skin.
“Emma!!” The volume of his voice scratched against the insides of his throat, the only evidence that he had in fact been screaming, because to his ears there was no sound. The darkness was devouring his voice like a hungry beast.

The surroundings shifted around him, shifted back and forth, a continuous motion that was starting to make him dizzy. He reached out towards a wall that was dancing in front of him in an attempt to steady himself. As his hand should’ve made contact with the wall, his feet stumbled as his body fell forward when his hand pressed through the wall. As if it consisted of merely air. He quickly regained his footing, his hands searching blindly through the darkness.
“Emma! Where are you? Emma, if you can hear me, please… Emma!”
But there was no answer. No answer except the eerie sound of the complete absence of sound. Then he saw her. She was sitting on the ground, her legs barely touching the muddy ground, a faint light surrounding her, making her glow with a flickering light.
“Emma!”
She looked up at him as he came running towards her. He saw the tears running down her cheeks as he fell to his knees next to her and pulled her into his arms. He held her close, trying to force himself to believe that he could feel the warmth of her body, when the rational part of his mind knew that he couldn’t. She was as cold in her arms as if he was cradling a dead body.

She pulled out of his arms, looking up at him with big round eyes, and her look was anything but dead. She was looking at him more intently than he had ever seen her, like she was trying to tell him something. Max opened his mouth to ask her about what when she answered his unspoken question.
“The man took them away.”
The sentence made a chill go down his spine. His hands shook as he brushed away the tears from her cheeks, trying to will his heart as well as hers to slow down.
“Who did the man take away?”
“My brothers,” Emma answered, causing Max’s hand to stop in mid-air. His mouth opened only to pull in air, while his lips were desperately trying to form any sounds.
“Wh…what… Who took them away, Emma?”
“The man,” Emma sniffled. “The man. He killed the doggie.”
Max frowned, trying frantically to figure out who she was talking about. Mentioning the man seemed to upset her, so Max decided to focus on the other part of her story.
“Were your brothers here? With you?”
Emma nodded, not breaking eye-contact for a second, barely blinking.
“Emma, I need you to listen to me, okay? Can you do that?”
She nodded again, her big chocolate eyes glittering with fearful tears.

“No one has taken your brothers. They are inside your mommy’s stomach. They are safe. Okay?”
Emma shook her head in protest. “No, th-th-the man took them. They were sitting here and then the man took them. We was playing and the man took them.”
“Honey, please. I promise you, your brothers are safe in your mommy’s stomach. Do you want to see for yourself?”
Emma looked at him and he could see that she did not believe him. He cradled her face between his hands. She was so small that the top of his fingers reached the top of her head while his wrists were touching her jaw line.
“Em, your mom and I miss you. We love you so much. Try to wake up. Your brothers need you, but you have to wake up first. Do you understand me?”
“They are in mommy’s stomach?”
Max nodded. “They are in mommy’s stomach.”
“Bad man is gonna-“
”Honey,” Max interrupted gently, “The bad man is gone. He can’t hurt you anymore. No one is ever going to hurt you again.”
She looked at him with big round eyes and then whispered, “I wanna go home now.”
Max’s throat constricted with her teary request and he nodded, pulling her up in his lap. “Let’s go home.”


Liz watched Max heavily fall down on the bed. He was still touching Emma with his hands and Liz could feel Emma go still in her arms. It was as if all the tension in her little body dissolved and she went almost limb. Even though Liz could feel Max through the, albeit weakening, connection, it didn’t do much to relieve her worry when she saw how unresponsive Max became. Usually when he connected he would remain in the position he was in when he entered the connection. But not this time. This time he just collapsed, which scared Liz to death. She couldn’t lose them both. She wouldn’t survive that. Brushing away the tears from her face, she reached out and took a hold of Max’s hand, entwining her fingers with his.

Max could feel the pull like a strong thread winding through him. He could feel her warmth surrounding him and protecting him. He could feel her soul calling him. He closed his eyes and bathed in her love for a few seconds, before slowly opening his eyes and pressing a kiss on Emma’s forehead.

Emma opened her eyes and looked up. She could see her mother, but her mother wasn’t looking at her. She was looking at something else next to her.
“Mommy,” Emma whispered, the need to drink washing over her.
Her mother turned towards her, with a startled expression on her face and when she smiled, the darkness in Emma eased away – to some degree.
“Emma…”
Then she was in her mother’s arms and she could hear her own sniffles in her ears, mixing with her mother’s crying. Shortly thereafter, she became aware of another set of arms surrounding her.
“Is she okay?” her mother whispered. “Emma, are you okay?”
“She’s okay,” her father answered next to her.
That’s when she remembered. Her brothers. She pulled out of their arms and looked up in their slightly confused faces, before her eyes traveled down to Liz’s stomach. She reached out to tentatively touch Liz’s stomach.
“We have to be together,” she whispered.
Liz threw a questioning glance in Max’s direction, but his face shared the same bewilderment that she was feeling.
“Of course, sweetie. We will always stay together,” Liz answered.
Emma slowly shook her head, her hands tightening their grip on Liz’s arms. “Otherwise they will die. We have to be together.”
“Honey, what are you talking about?” Max asked, his grip tightening around Liz as he could feel her distress echo in the silence.
“We have to be together,” Emma murmured with a far-away expression on her face.
Liz met Max’s eyes as Emma buried her face in Liz’s still wet gown.

But Max couldn’t give any answers. He was still shaken up from whatever place Emma had been in. It hadn’t just been a dream and something told him that it was real. Something told him that what had been going on in Emma’s head meant something. He just didn’t know what.

Emma fell asleep in Liz’s arms and Liz dozed off not long thereafter. Max used his powers to dry her clothes and as quietly as he could, he put on some boxers and a T-shirt before gently easing down next to Liz and his daughter, enveloping them in his arms. A shiver went through him as Liz’s stomach brushed against his hand and everything that had happened up to the moment when Emma had started screaming came flooding back to him. How he had almost killed his own babies. His heart twisted painfully and he pulled away, his hands leaving the places where they had rested on the bodies of his family. Liz’s breathing, a little more strained with every night passing, echoed in the silence, as he turned away from them. With Emma’s last words resounding through his head, he fell into a restless sleep.

We have to be together.


<center>-------------------------------------------------------------</center>

One month later

“Hey, I’ll do that,” Max said gently, catching Liz by the elbow as her tired legs stumbled. One of the toys that had been gathered in her arms fell to the ground.
“I’m doing it, I’m fine,” Liz said, her voice bearing the hint of irritation.
“Please, Liz,” Max said, guiding her towards the bed. As soon as she sank down on the bed, he let go off her, taking a step back.
Liz closed her eyes against the coldness washing over her. She missed him. She missed him so much. But something had changed that night when Emma had returned to them. Liz had gotten her daughter back, but her best friend, the person she loved more than her next breath, had pulled away. Sometimes she would wake up in the middle of the night and find Max on the other side of the bed, so close to the edge that if he’d moved one inch he would’ve fallen off. At first she had tried to scoot closer, but it would always end in Max waking up and disappearing to the bathroom. He would be gone so long that Liz would go back to sleep and when she woke up in the morning he would be gone and she would find his pillow on the couch in the living room. His presence and the warmth of his body was so rare that she had once woken up because he, in his sleep, had rolled over and put his arm over her. His lips had been resting against the skin of her neck and she had been able to feel the warm gentle puffs of air against her. She hadn’t dared to move, afraid that he would wake up and move away. So she had been lying there in the darkness, crying, because with him so close she could feel the anguish raging within him. The connection wasn’t strong enough anymore for her to find out the reason, but she could feel the torment, the everyday struggle that was going on inside of him.

Sitting there, she felt like she’d had enough. She had tried to talk to him before, but he would just close off. She wouldn’t let him get away without answering her this time. She could feel whatever was breaking down her body slowly eating away at her, and she didn’t want to spend her last weeks alive away from him.
“Why are you doing this?”
She opened her eyes and caught the look of raw fear in his eyes before his eyes skittered away, like they had done so many times before these last couple of weeks. She used to love his eyes. She still did. She used to be able to see every emotion in them, but now he wouldn’t let her. It hurt. It hurt so much.
“Doing what, Liz?” Max asked casually, like she wasn’t sitting there in front of him trembling with exhaustion and desperation.
“What happened, Max?”
She was struggling to prevent the tears from falling. She had cried so much lately that there shouldn’t be any tears left, but there were. There always were.
“Uhm… What are you talking about, Liz?”
Sudden anger screamed inside of her and she hit her fist on the bed. “Damnit! You know exactly what I’m talking about! I can’t do this anymore!”
He took another step back and she could feel her heart sinking. They could just as well be standing on two separate islands with an ocean between, their screaming voices being carried away by the wind, never reaching their target.
“Mommy?”
Liz took a deep trembling breath before turning her head towards her daughter standing in the doorway behind Max. She tried to smile, but the muscles in her face weren’t co-operating.
“Everything’s okay, sweetie.” The guilt came crashing down. Emma might be talking to them again, but she wasn’t well. They had to be careful around her. There had been times when she went inside herself and disappeared from the world, when something had scared her. A puppy whining on the TV. A door closed too suddenly. Lights being switched off. Loud voices.

“Go back to your room, Em,” Max whispered, having turned towards his daughter.
“Are you angry, mommy?” Emma asked in a small voice.
“No, honey,” Liz answered, shaking her head. “How about watching that movie grandpa bought you, huh? Do you remember what movie it was?”
Emma’s face lit up, but both Max and Liz could see that the fear was still present in her eyes. “Cindella?”
“Cinderella,” Liz smiled. “That’s right, honey. Ask grandma to put it on for you, okay? Daddy and I need to talk for a while. Okay?”
Emma looked from her mother to her father, hesitation in every small movement. “Okay.”
“Great, honey,” Liz said, “I’ll be right out.”
“You should get some rest, Liz. You look so tired.”
Liz turned her eyes back to Max, struggling to keep herself in control. “I am tired, Max. Do you know why? Because I need you. I can’t do this alone. I can’t do this anymore.”
“What do you mean?” She could hear the tremble of fear in his voice and one part of her was satisfied with the knowledge that maybe finally he would understand how much he was hurting her, but on the other hand it hurt her knowing how scared he was. He was just as afraid as she was. He knew just as little as she did about what was wrong with her. At least that’s what she thought. Lately, something had been telling her that Max knew more than her.
“Do you think I’m stupid-“
“No!” Max exclaimed, taking a step towards her.
“Then tell me what the hell is going on! We have to be able to talk to each other. Don’t you trust me?”
“Of course I trust you-“ Max stuttered, reaching out with his hand towards her.
Liz shrunk away from his touch. “You don’t trust me with the truth. You know something, Max, and instead of talking to me about it, you take it on your own shoulders, like you’ve always done. You try to fix it yourself and you shut me out. I don’t want you to make the decisions for me. I want to know what’s going on. If you know something about what’s going on with me, I want to know. I don’t want you to protect me. I don’t need you to protect me from the truth.”
“I know,” Max whispered.
“Then why are you doing this?” Liz sniffled in resignation, a tear falling down her cheek.

Max stared down at the floor in silence and even without the connection, Liz could feel the battle he was waging. With his gaze still locked on the floor, he started talking.
“I’m afraid, Liz. I’m afraid that you will…” he took a deep shuttering breath, “…die.”
“Max, I-“
Max looked up and she found herself looking straight into his shimmering eyes, which made the words vanish from her tongue.
“I thought that… That the… “ another deep breath and he reached forward and tentatively placed his hand on her stomach. This was the first time he had touched her like this in over a month and it made Liz’s heart skip a bit with sadness. “That the babies inside of you were hurting you. That they were making you sick. So I…”
He turned his face away at this, snatching his hand away from her and thus ending all physical contact.
“Max?” Liz questioned, looking up at him as he turned his back on her. She could see how his hands were shaking, how his whole body was shaking.
“That night…when you found me in the shower and Emma woke up. Before that, I had tried to…” His voice broke with a repressed sob and he barely got the next words out. “Liz, I’m so sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I didn’t know what to do. I was so afraid that you were going to leave me. But I couldn’t choose. I couldn’t choose.”
Liz rose to her feet and put a hand on his shoulder. “Max, you’re scaring me. What are you talking about? Max? Please tell me.”
He took a step forward, trying to avoid her touch, but instead of letting him she moved her hand down his arm and grabbed him, forcing him to turn around.
“Max, what happened?”
He wouldn’t look at her. He looked at some point on her chest.
“Max!” Liz demanded, giving him a shake. “What happened?”
He looked up at her and she had to take a deep breath to not start crying when she saw the look in his eyes. Fear. However, it was not the same fear as before. This was fear of abandonment. He was afraid…of her?

“I… I tried to kill them,” he whispered so softly that she barely heard him. But every word reverberated through her soul, cutting through her body with painful intensity.
“Who?” she whispered.
“The babies. I tried to kill them, but I…” Liz took a quick step away from him, pulling her hand away like she had been burned.
“I couldn’t,” Max murmured, knowing by the look in Liz’s eyes that what he had feared would happen was about to happen. She would finally see him for what he really was. She was finally going to see through his façade and realize that he would always cause her harm. It always had been. That just being who he was would harm her.
Confusion was rapidly replaced with fear and next worry as one feeling replaced the other. His hand reached out towards her in an instinctive motion to comfort her, but she took yet another step backwards.
“Liz…”
She swallowed, looking at him with betrayal in her eyes. “You tried to… The babies… Your sons...”
“I’m so sorry,” Max whispered.
“Just…” She couldn’t look at him anymore. Her arms went around her stomach protectively, a movement not missed by Max. “Just leave. Leave me alone.”
He didn’t argue. He had expected it. He knew that it was over. But that didn’t mean that it hurt any less.
“I love you,” he whispered before quietly leaving the room.
Liz stood staring at the empty doorway where he had disappeared and without any conscious thought of what she was doing, she sank down on the bed, tears helplessly tumbling down her cheeks.


TBC...
Last edited by max and liz believer on Mon Jul 26, 2004 4:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby max and liz believer » Sun Jan 02, 2005 9:24 pm

It's been forever, but here's the next chapter.

Thank you all - for everything!

Hugs,

Jo


End of Chapter 24


“I… I tried to kill them,” he whispered so softly that she barely heard him. But every word reverberated through her soul, cutting through her body with painful intensity.
“Who?” she whispered.
“The babies. I tried to kill them, but I…” Liz took a quick step away from him, pulling her hand away like she had been burned.
“I couldn’t,” Max murmured, knowing by the look in Liz’s eyes that what he had feared would happen was about to happen. She would finally see him for what he really was. She was finally going to see through his façade and realize that he would always cause her harm. It always had been. That just being who he was would harm her.
Confusion was rapidly replaced with fear and next worry as one feeling replaced the other. His hand reached out towards her in an instinctive motion to comfort her, but she took yet another step backwards.
“Liz…”
She swallowed, looking at him with betrayal in her eyes. “You tried to… The babies… Your sons...”
“I’m so sorry,” Max whispered.
“Just…” She couldn’t look at him anymore. Her arms went around her stomach protectively, a movement not missed by Max. “Just leave. Leave me alone.”
He didn’t argue. He had expected it. He knew that it was over. But that didn’t mean that it hurt any less.
“I love you,” he whispered before quietly leaving the room.
Liz stood staring at the empty doorway where he had disappeared and without any conscious thought of what she was doing, she sank down on the bed, tears helplessly tumbling down her cheeks.




Chapter 25

No one noticed how Emma’s weak body doubled over as Max closed the front door behind him.
“Daddy,” she whispered, her hand reaching out faintly to grasp air in the direction of where her father had disappeared to.
She could hear the subdued crying coming from the closed bedroom door, and the deep fear that had been luring in the background since Khivar’s men had taken control of her mind saw its opportunity and rushed forward knocking the wind out of her, making her legs give away under her.
“Mommy.” Her voice cracked in the empty house, growing weaker in the emptiness that was slowly, but gradually taking control over her. With a fearful whimper she crumbled to the floor. All she could do the next minutes was to try and fight the dizziness and nausea as the sound and light slowly disappeared around her and the frightening sounds in her head took over.

<center>------------------------------------------------------------</center>

It was in that position, with her legs curled up in fetal position, and a painful expression haunting her soft features, that her grandparents found her twenty minutes later.
“Oh my God…” Nancy gasped as she saw the girl on the floor. Turning her head slightly to the side, she yelled into her husband’s direction, “Jeff!! Get Liz!! Hurry!”
“What is…” Her husband quieted behind her for a second when he saw Nancy on her knees, lifting the lifeless body of their granddaughter from the floor. “What happened?”
“Get Max or Liz! Now!” Her voice remained calm, her movements with Emma gentle, but inside she was shaking with fear. She had always been able to come out on top of situations, remaining calm, but it was different with Emma. Emma might be her daughter’s girl and she might look human, but Emma’s father was inhuman and whatever had been going on with Emma since Liz and Max had returned had been dealt behind closed doors. Nancy and Jeff hadn’t been given any peeks into Emma’s condition and that told Nancy that something was really wrong with Emma, since Liz would never stop them from interacting with their granddaughter if she could help it. They might not approve of Max to the fullest, but Nancy hadn’t for a second thought he would try and keep Liz and Emma away from them. He had, after all, agreed with Liz to live in her room, for a while. Nancy was glad they had decided to come live here. Even if they were mostly hauled up in their room, it felt really good to have Liz home again and be able to have Emma so close.

Nancy’s heart sank when Liz appeared in the room. Her daughter looked like a living dead. She was pale, paler than usual, and her eyes were angry red. Nancy couldn’t help but stare at her daughter when she, without any healthy grace whatsoever, stumbled to the floor next to Emma and more or less ripped her daughter out of Nancy’s arms.
“Where’s Max?” Nancy wondered, noting the absence of the young man.
Jeff shook his head in response to her question, an expression with a mixture between anger and confusion masking his face.
“Emma, sweetie, it’s mommy,” Liz cooed in a soft voice, gently rocking her child in her arms. “It’s time to wake up. It’s okay, baby. You’re safe.”
Nancy looked back and forth between the desperation in Liz’s face and the twitching in Emma’s face, which was distorting her facial features into distinct signs of pain. Looking up at Jeff, she said firmly, “Jeff, get Max. Just get him here.”
Jeff held her gaze for a second or two, before turning on his heel and with some hesitation in his steps about leaving his family, walked out to find Max.

<center>---------------------------------------------------------</center>

Ten minutes earlier

“Max!”
A mere second after the door had opened, Max found himself enveloped in his mother’s strong familiar embrace. She held on to him for a long time and he closed his eyes against the guilt that washed over him. He had visited his parents since he returned from Antar, but the fear of something happening to either Liz or Emma while he was gone had made the visits few and far in between. She pulled away framing his face between her hands, looking at him worriedly. His heart squeezed with the familiarity of the gesture. It was like he was a little boy again. One of her hands brushed away some of the bangs from his forehead. His hair was getting long again.
“How are you?” she whispered, the emotions in her body making her voice tremble.
“I’m fine, mom,” he answered softly, not being able to meet her eyes.
“You look thin,” Diane continued as if he hadn’t answered her. “Are you eating right? Are you sleeping? You look so tired, sweetie.”
“I’m fine,” he repeated with a weak smile, even though his heart was aching with the knowledge of the truth he was hiding.
“Diane? What’s…?”
Max looked up to see his dad enter the hallway. He saw the changes in the expression on his dad’s face, going from wonder to happiness to worry in a matter of brief seconds. The ever present guilt started to bubble up to the surface and he once again felt that everything was falling apart around him. He had thought that going back to Earth would’ve been the answer. He had still been realistic about it; knowing that all their problems wouldn’t just resolve themselves with the mere return to Earth, but he had thought that it would at least make things easier. But Liz hadn’t gotten better, just worse. Emma was a little better, but she kept returning to that place in her head where they couldn’t reach her. He had talked to Maria, Alex, Isabel and Michael, but that was just because they had come and visited. If they hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been able to have the energy to meet up with them. His parents had done the same; they had made occasional visits. However, during the last week, Max had called them, begging them not to come. He felt that Liz couldn’t handle it. She needed her rest, even though she was still trying to do most of the things on her own.

Philip hugged him tight, holding him close. “Max.”
“Hi dad,” Max said quietly, feeling his heart plummeting to the ground. When did everything begin to go so wrong?
“Are you okay, son?” Philip asked, pulling away to look at his pale son.
Max gave him a faint nod, which was violently interrupted by a sharp ice cold pain slicing through his heart. He doubled forward, almost knocking Philip over.
Philip shot his wife a look of panic, as he grabbed Max by the upper arms to stop the young man from losing his balance.
“Max? What’s wrong?”
Max barely felt his mom’s concerned hands running over his back as it felt like his heart was turning to ice; hardening and cracking with ice cold death.

Then it stopped. Max immediately wished that it hadn’t. Because the emptiness and complete lack of anything filling him was among the worse things he’d ever felt. It didn’t take him long to localize the feeling that had started to scold with sudden familiarity. The loss of the connection.
“She’s gone,” he whispered, panic gripping him. He had anticipated it for a long time now, with the gradual weakening of the connection, but to actually feel it scared him to death. His whole body trembling, he looked up at the concerned faces of his parents, the anguished statement whispered again, “She’s gone.”
“What do you mean, Max?” Diane asked, fear marking her words.
“Liz? Is something wrong with Liz?” Philip asked, his grip on Max’s arms remaining and tightening.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Max mumbled as his eyes moved back and forth. He broke out of his father’s grip and more or less ran towards the phone. His fingers quickly dialed the all too familiar number and the person on the other side barely had time to put the phone to the ear, before Max had spoken. “Is Liz okay?”
“Max, thank God.”
And Max’s heart stopped. He had never heard Nancy that afraid before. Something was wrong. He barely heard Nancy’s last words before the receiver dropped to the table and he was out the door. “Please come back, Max. We need you.”

<center>--------------------------------------------------------</center>

“Where is she?!”
“Living room,” Jeff answered, but Max had already brushed pass him. He saw Liz on the floor with Emma bundled up in her lap. Nancy was sitting next to Liz, holding a glass of water in her hand.
Liz looked up at the sound of footsteps in the stairs and met Max’s eyes. As soon as she saw him, her eyes teared up and her bottom lip started quivering.
“Where are you?” she whispered tearfully.
“I’m right here,” Max answered, falling to his knees next to Liz and Emma. But they both knew that it wasn’t true. Max knew what she was really asking, but he couldn’t answer her. Because he didn’t know. The only thing he knew was that Liz was dying. He knew that with tormented certainty. The closing of the connection was the last step. It wasn’t long now.
“They’re gonna die with me,” Liz sobbed. “You have to save them, Max. Isn’t there something you can do?”
“Liz, please,” Max whispered, taking a hold of Emma’s head, carefully placing it into his lap while swallowing his own tears, “We have to focus on Emma now.”
“I don’t wanna die, Max,” Liz cried, on the verge of a complete breakdown. Max looked at her. It scared him. To see her so resigned and scared. She had always fought so hard to hide that side of her; to always appear strong and independent. But reality had finally broken her. She was beaten.

Firmly holding her watery gaze, Max addressed Nancy, “Mrs. Parker, help Liz into the bedroom. She needs to rest.”
Liz started to shake her head, seeing where he was going with this, “No, Max. I’m not letting you decide this time. I’m not leaving Emma.”
“Liz, listen to me. I will help Emma, but I need you to take care of the twins, okay? I can’t take care of them right now, you have to be strong and do that, okay?”
She didn’t want to listen to him; he could see it in her eyes. But he could also see that she knew that he was right. She was no help out here. She was already panicking and she would only disturb Max. She didn’t know how much longer she could stay awake. Fatigue was weighing heavily down on her. She could see in Max’s eyes that he knew. He knew that she was going to die – soon – and the only thing that could prolong her life right now was rest.
“Okay,” she sobbed, letting her mother pull her to her feet and guiding her to her bedroom. Liz looked back just before Nancy closed the door to see Max lying down next to Emma, his strong arms folded protectively around his small daughter and she knew with clear certainty that he never would’ve been able to go through with it. He would never have been able to kill his sons. He couldn’t make that decision. He would fight for them all three to live instead. But now it looked like they were all losing.

<center>-----------------------------------------------------------</center>

He couldn’t get in. A black brick wall was blocking his way and he couldn’t get in. He tried to break it down with his mind, with his will. He tried to break it down by physical force, beating his fists against the rough surface. But it wouldn’t subdue to his forces. He could hear Emma screaming behind the wall and it made him beat his fists harder against the wall, until they started to bleed, but he couldn’t get through. It was with deep black feelings of failure that he was pushed out of the connection, finding himself back on the floor in the living room. He looked down at the little brown-haired girl next to him. On the outside, it almost looked as if she was sleeping peacefully, if it hadn’t been for the small twitching of her fingers and the deep frown of pain on her forehead. He tried hard to push all the feelings down as he lifted her lifeless body up from the ground. Those feelings were no good now. He had to help Liz first. She was in a much worse place.

It was with heavy feet that he walked towards the bedroom.

Nancy looked at them worriedly as they opened the door, but with one reluctant look at Emma and Liz, she left the room. Liz was already asleep, her knees pulled up to her chest and tears still glistening on her cheeks. He stood there for a minute, just watching her, feeling like the world was weighing down on his shoulders. Was this it? Was this when he realized that he couldn’t help this situation and gave up? Was this when he realized that even with all his powers, he couldn’t save his Liz from dying? He swallowed back the burning tears and slowly walked up to the bed. He would do one last try to fix this. He knew that it must have something to do with the connection. The absence of the connection had been making Liz sick before, and it must be part of making her sick now as well. He gentle placed Emma on the bed, right next to Liz’s curled up body. He reached over and put Emma’s cold small hand in the hand that Liz was resting on the bed. Next, he climbed onto the bed, taking Emma’s hand in his left and scooting closer to take the hand that Liz was resting on her stomach in his right. He pulled Liz’s hand further down her stomach, moving it in between the buttons of her shirt to come into contact with bare skin and then pressed their joined hands against the skin.

He took a deep breath, let his eyes drift shut and started the search for their souls.


TBC...

----------

I apologize for the horrible long wait, but I'm gonna try and be better. I've already started on the next chapter so it probably won't be that long until the next one.

- Jo

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Postby max and liz believer » Fri Jan 07, 2005 4:20 am

What do you know, I'm back already :wink:

roswelluver, Liz86000, mitra, Sali103, aurorasky, VeronicB, Jason's Lover, AmeliaML4, HBGO and BehrObsession - Thank you so much for taking the time to read and leave feedback!!!

Thank you!

And a big thank you to Elizabeth for the never ending support she gives me in editing all my stories. Thank you so much, Elizabeth!! You're an angel!


Okeydokey - here's the next chapter...



Chapter 26

He found his sons first. Pulsating with life, he could feel them reaching out for him. He could hear their voices in his head, but something was different from the time he had connected with them on Antar. Some of their innocence had disappeared and they weren’t asking questions anymore. There was concern now. They knew that their mother was dying and it scared them. Max’s heart clenched painfully at their silent plea to help their mother. He tried to reassure them that he was going to help Liz, but it was difficult to hide the truth when he had his mind open. All his doubts, self-blame, fears and insecurities were constantly washing over the twins and they knew what was happening even if their father didn’t want them to see. Without Max noticing the change, the twins gradually took over. Their strong combined energy started pulsating straight through Max’s body and suddenly he knew not just what to do but also how to do it. With his sons guiding him, he started searching for Liz and Emma. Emma was easier to find than Liz. The twins’ energy joined with his, plunged through the wall around Emma’s mind and reached inside, finding Emma crying and scared. But there was also relief and hope, which fueled Max’s heart. Together they now tried to reach Liz. Max had to fight with his feelings to not fall apart as his mind moved through the surface of Liz’s consciousness. He hadn’t let himself see that she had been getting this bad the last couple of weeks. There was hardly anything left. Her whole body was weak and almost completely deteriorated, as if she had been suffering from a horrible disease that had been eating her alive from the inside, decaying her organs and wearing out her very essence. Moving deeper into her mind, Max got increasingly aware of how much of a miracle it was that Liz was not already dead. How had she been able to even stand up with this tarnished body?

His heart skipped a beat, and he could feel the simultaneous skip in his children’s hearts through their link, as he came into contact with the first conscious thought in Liz’s mind. They’d found her, but he had no idea that she was this close to disappearing forever. He had no idea that if they hadn’t found her now she might never had woken up again. She was ready to die. She was ready to give up. She didn’t have any strength left to fight whatever was devouring her. With her last vestiges of energy, more than she really had, she was hanging on to save her sons, but she couldn’t do it anymore. She was so tired. Max could feel the energy being literally sucked out of his body the more conscious contact he got with Liz. She wasn’t talking to him, but she was responding nonetheless. He could feel her essence envelop him, but it lacked the usual warmth. Now it was cold, deadly cold. Even though he was feeding her a lot of energy, he reached out around her soul and pulled her closer to him, trying to warm her up and awakening a bond that had died. He could feel his sons feeding him with energy and he was amazed at the strength they had; it seemed never ending. Emma was also helping, but he could feel that she was weak and he concentrated on putting a small block on her connection, so that she wouldn’t give her mother too much of her energy, even though he could feel that she would do anything to help her mother. He wouldn’t lose her too. The first instant he felt one of the twins falter he did the same to their connection. He could feel their surprise through the connection at what he had done, but he tried to assure them that daddy could handle this; they needed to rest so they could help their mother later.

As he was deep in Liz’s mind, voices started to swirl around him. Voices from a conversation that was long gone, but not forgotten. Max tried to push the voices away, and refocus on healing the connection between him and Liz, but the conversation wouldn’t leave him alone. The voices grew louder; they wanted to be heard. For some reason, Liz wanted him to hear this conversation. Reluctantly, he turned some of his attention away from the bond and focused on the voices. As soon as his focus fell on the voices, they became louder and clearer. Liz’s vibrant voice filled him, making his heart ache with bittersweet remembrance of how full of life she had once been. It had been so long that her voice almost sounded foreign. The other voice was more difficult to place, hence it took a couple of extra seconds before Max registered that the voice belonged to Kira.

“Are you really all right, Elizabeth? You look so pale and I can sense the concern in your soul.”
“I’m… uhm… Actually, there is this thing that I needed to talk to you about, Kira. You know when I was so sick – on Earth…”
“Yes, when we found you, you were really ill.”
“But then I started to feel better-“
”After you and Max mated.”
“Right.” Max could hear the smile in her voice and he could mentally picture the redness on her cheeks at Kira’s bluntness. “And after that I started to feel better, but then… then… then Khivar took Emma, and I… Something happened. Max and I… we were both grieving and Max was trying so hard to find Emma. He didn’t let himself rest. He was worrying so much, making decisions and seeing to it that I was okay as well. I couldn’t tell him that I was starting to feel worse again. At first I thought it was only because I was so afraid for Emma, but after a while it started to get really bad and I could feel Max slipping away from me. He was always there, always comforting and being so…so strong.” Max took a deep breath as he heard the tears in her voice; the appreciation of what he had done was mixed with the loneliness that the weakening of the connection had brought.
“I think Max noticed as well that the connection was weakening between us, but I think that it only made him fight harder to find Emma because he believed that it would fix everything. I did too. I thought that if we could just get Emma back we could heal again.”
“I understand.”

“But I couldn’t talk to him about it. You see, Max takes everything on his own shoulders. He was already taking all the blame for Khivar abducting Emma. I couldn’t tell him that I could feel our connection dying. He would only have found some way to blame himself for it. Now we have Emma back and Max has just announced that Aldonis is to take over to rule Antar, but we are still not okay. Emma is so…” Her voice hitched in her throat and she had to clear her throat before thickly continuing. “She is so weak. I don’t know what to do. I’m feeling even worse. It’s like the energy that Max gave me to heal my wounds is sipping out of me and I can’t stop it. I don’t have any energy left and I don’t know what to do. Max doesn’t know what to do either and it’s killing him. Please, Kira. Do you know anything? Do you know what’s happening?”
There was a pause before Kira answered. Max’s whole body tensed in anticipation of the answer.
“There is this story; it’s almost become a legend with time. By many it is not considered to even be true. That’s why I haven’t told you and Max anything about it yet, even though the story has been on my mind for a while now.”
”Please, Kira. Anything will help now.”
“Yes, I will tell you. You know that Antarians can speak with each other telepathically. Well, due to Max and yours connection I presume you can do that as well.”
“Yes, but we were not that advanced. I got sick again before…” Her voice faltered and Kira continued slowly.
“Because Antarians are more specialized in communicating with their minds, they don’t need a connection to the same degree as you and Max do. They
have a connection, but not with the same strength your connection. There is something you have to understand. Before Khivar took over, before Zan was killed and Antarians were enslaved under Khivar’s regime, they all had feelings; just like humans. They were all allowed to laugh, to cry, to care…to love. They could marry whoever they wanted. They were happy. Khivar destroyed that. He took it all away by forcing the people to repress their feelings. At the beginning, the Antarians still felt it in their hearts, even if they hid the feelings in their minds. But their children were brought up in another environment. Gradually, the Antarians forgot what it was like to feel. They forgot what it was like to love someone, and even what it was like to…kiss someone.”

“That’s horrible.”
“Yes, but there was nothing they could do about it. All they could do was to hope that the rumors were actually true. That the essence of Zan had been preserved and that he would come back and save them. So that they could live again.”
”I’m not sure I know why you’re telling me this, Kira.”
“I’ll come to it. There was this couple, who lived when Zan’s father lived. They loved each other deeply. At least, that’s what the legend says. When Zan’s father was killed and later Zan, instead of moving apart and hiding their feelings like Khivar commanded, they got even closer. They were fighting Khivar with their love. They wouldn’t let him win and they wouldn’t let him destroy what they felt. But the woman was a distant relative to Khivar, while the man came from a peasant family. The woman had always been loyal to Zan’s father and later to Zan during the short time he ruled, but something changed when Khivar took over. Even though they committed themselves so deeply to each other, the woman started to mistrust her own loyalties. She was always loyal to her husband, but she began to consider if she should really disobey an order from her family. What makes this story relevant to your problem, my dear Elizabeth, is that they had developed this really strong connection. It was unlikely anything anyone had ever seen. No one could describe the love that they showed each other, the tenderness and the selfless care. They were like one, always in sync and always supporting each other. But the woman started to pull away because of the mistrust she felt in her heart. She felt that she couldn’t trust herself and she didn’t want her husband to know of her insecurities because then he might start to doubt her. The legend tells that as she started to pull away and began to hide some parts of her mind from him, she fell ill. She grew weaker everyday and as she grew weaker she couldn’t hold on to the connection as strongly and it faltered even more and she grew even weaker. It became a…what do you say… a vicious circle. As the woman had started to pull away, the husband had gotten worried and after a while suspicious, and he had begun to distrust her. This did nothing to help with the connection.”
There was a pause and Max could sense Liz’s fear heightening.
“What happened to them?”
Kira cleared his throat before continuing. “She died. Her body was nothing more than skin and bones and she could hardly stand up. She couldn’t even stay awake for more than one hour at the time.”
”Oh my god.”
”The man died shortly after. When the connection was completely cut off with his wife’s death, he couldn’t handle the coldness. He killed himself.”


The voices faded and Max had to take a deep mental breath. That was what was happening to them. That was what was about to happen and he had to stop it, before it was too late.

Liz? Liz, sweetie, can you hear me?

He wasn’t sure how he knew that she had answered him; it just became clear to him that she had.

Baby, I need you to listen to me carefully, can you do that?

Her reply was weak, but he could feel her hope strike his heart with such force that he had to take another deep breath before continuing.

You have to trust me. Open your heart completely. Just feel and let me feel you. Don’t be afraid of anything. Let me see everything you’re thinking and feeling. I love you so much, Liz. Let me in.

With those words, he opened the connection completely and his own fears and insecurities started to leak out into the connection, flowing over to Liz. He could feel her surprise and the overwhelming power his feelings had on her. But then he could feel her relief and he felt himself relax. He only had time to relax for a couple of brief seconds before her emotions slammed into him. He had to focus harder not to be pushed out of her mind. Her feelings swirled around him, creeping into every little fold and corner of his mind. He had never felt her this strongly before. Her fear of losing everything, of losing him and the children shook him to his very core. He never knew she had been this afraid. She hadn’t let him know. These were the feelings she had kept hidden deep in her mind, where no one had access. Not even him. He could feel her insecurities about her own capacity to support him, her inability to help him when she was ill. Her worry about the connection growing weaker crawled around him like a snake and started to squeeze, almost painfully, around his chest. She had known that the connection had been the reason to why she had been feeling worse, but she didn’t want to tell him because she wanted to protect him. She didn’t want him to once again feel guilty about his origins and who he was. She knew that it would ruin him if he found out that he was indirectly responsible for her death. That something that they had both treasured, something that had been a special addition to their love, was killing her. She knew that the man she loved would never be able to live with himself if he had known. So she had hid it from him and she had tried to hold onto the connection on her own, hoping that maybe the connection would come back to life again and everything would be okay.

Instead, she had almost sacrificed her life out of fear that Max would start blaming himself. Max’s heart almost stopped under the pressure of her feelings. He never knew that his tendency to take the blame for everything would end up killing the person he loved the most – more than himself. Even though, naturally, the thought of her not telling him, because she had been afraid he couldn’t handle the truth, made the self-blame kick straight back in, he quickly pushed it to the side. The connection was one hundred percent open by now, so Liz probably felt his feelings of guilt, but that was how it was supposed to be. That was how they were to heal the connection. By feeling and experiencing everything with each other – something they hadn’t done since that one night in the warehouse when they had reopened the connection.

Max could feel his soul wakening up again, as if it had been hibernating. It was almost like he was cracking with fresh energy, excited to meet up with the essence that was Liz. He could feel her returning to him, slowly but steadily. He could feel her soul beginning to respond to his, and it was the most beautiful feeling he had ever felt. It was like a warm blanket spreading around him, enveloping him, buffering his feelings and making everything around him warm and soft. From deep within the core of his being he heard her heart, now becoming one with his.

I love you. I love you so much


<center>--------------------------------------------------------</center>


Liz slowly opened her eyes. Her eyelids felt heavy, but strangely light at the same time. The light forcing itself in through the small openings in her eyes was bright and she started to repeatedly blink in response. She closed her eyes again for a couple of seconds, deeply breathing in the air and the fragrances hanging in the air. It was with a smile on her lips that she opened her eyes again, feeling how his heart was beating with the same rhythm as hers. She could feel how soft the air was flowing into his lungs in sync with the air that was flowing into hers. She could feel the touch of her own hand on his arm. She was bathing in his essence. The feelings from the dream world he was currently experiencing were floating all around her and she started to laugh quietly to herself with happiness. She could feel him. She could feel all of him and it was the most beautiful thing she had ever felt.

He was lying just in front of her, one whisk of his dark hair hanging down over his left eye. Her smile was everlasting, ever glowing, as she slowly moved her hand to tenderly brush the hair away.
“Thank you,” she whispered. “Thank you for coming back to me.”
She could feel sleep starting to claim her again, her body still needed to recuperate, and she willingly succumbed. Her hand drifted down his side to fall softly over his waist as she moved closer to him. But there really was no way she could get any closer. Their minds were one, not to be separated ever again.


TBC...
Last edited by max and liz believer on Sun Jan 09, 2005 6:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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