Love By Any Other Name (AU,M/L,MATURE) (Complete)

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max and liz believer
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 818
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2002 10:45 am
Location: Sweden

Post by max and liz believer » Tue Feb 17, 2004 9:39 am

Hi everyone!

Okay, so I was really meaning to thank you individually. But it's like 10.30 p.m. and it's really really hot and I'm really really warm and really really tired since I only slept two hours this night, since it's really really hot outside. Well, you get the picture :roll:

Anyway... I have a new chapter for you... The big talk is coming up...or not? Well... :wink:

Thank you all so very much for your feedback! A big "Hi" to all new readers!!

Here's the next part!

Chapter 21

“Hi Max.”
Max turned around towards the voice. “Oh, hi Madison.”
“How are you?”
“I’m fine,” Max answered guardedly. Everyone had asked him that today. Did he have a sign on his forehead saying that he needed their pity?
The dark-haired woman bit her lip and looked at him worriedly. “Did something happen, Max?”
“Why do you ask that?”
“You seem different.”
He could always expect honesty from Madison. She didn’t know the concept of sugar-coating.
“I’m just a little tired,” Max answered.
She observed him through squinted eyes. “You look tired,” she confirmed. “Why don’t you skip the conference this afternoon and go home?”

“I can’t do that,” Max objected. Then he would be home too early. Then he would have even less time to avoid confrontation with Liz. It was weird in a way, because he feared facing Liz again just as much as he wanted to see her. He longed to look into those dark eyes of hers and lose himself in the emotions there. But he also knew that when he met her again he could easily accidentally reveal something to her, something that could destroy her image of him and scare her away. The thought of her disappearing from his life terrified him.
“I’ll cover for you,” Madison said. He jumped when she put a hand on his arm and she looked at him with surprise. “Max, you need to sleep. You cannot push yourself this hard. You have to rest.”
“I know,” Max answered. “There is just so much I have to do.”
”Like what?” Madison inquired. He could tell from the tone of her voice that she knew just as well as he that there really wasn’t that much he needed to do. When he didn’t answer, Madison continued for him. “You have already done everything you need to do, Max. I know, because no one can work that hard without having finished everything.”

“I still have some planning to do,” Max said, trying to sneak out of the trap Madison was setting up for him.
“You have already planned everything six months ahead. Max, listen to me. This is serious. You’re going to have a breakdown soon if you don’t rest.”
Her compassionate eyes tried to capture his, but he looked away. Her compassion was smothering him and he felt the sudden need for air.
“I’ll think about it,” he said. “I need to…”
And before Madison had the chance to stop him, he had disappeared out through the door. She sighed and turned into the direction of her room, knowing that there wasn’t anything else she could do for him right now.


Max’s steps were heavy when he walked up the graveled path to his front door. All day he had thought about what Liz wanted to tell him. Everything he could think about ended with the same ending. That she would say that she couldn’t see him anymore and she would leave. His mind had tried to convince him that he should be relieved about her reaching that decision, so that he didn’t have to, but his heart was being louder. He didn’t want her to leave, which made it so much harder because he knew that he eventually needed to break the bonds.

He hauled up his key from the pocket and unlocked the door. Slowly pushing the door open, the sound of the TV reached him. He untied his shoes and with a heavy heart walked towards the sound. He found her on the couch. Asleep.

He stopped dead at the sight, his breath catching in his throat and his heart starting to beat erratically. The sight was disturbing but at the same time beautiful. She was curled up in one of the big armchairs, her knees resting against one side of the armrest and her head hanging resting loosely against the back of the armchair. He was immediately catapulted back to last night, when he had found her in his bed, with only a vague memory of what she was really doing there. The feeling of her soft skin under his cheek was forever imprinted in his mind as he had woken up with his head resting against her chest. Her arms had been wrapped around him and he had been filled with a strange feeling of safety. As if she would protect him against anything. It had been the image of his late wife flashing before his eyes, making him nauseous with guilt and shame, which had forced him to move her. She couldn’t stay there, not in the same bed that he had shared with his wife. So he had cradled her in his arms and carried her back into the guestroom. In the two years he had slept alone in his bed, had he never felt as lonely as he did when he returned after moving her. The warmth of her still lingered in the bed and the soft fragrance of vanilla hung in the air.

He shook the memories out of his mind by a shake of his head and quietly moved to pick up a blanket from the couch. He stopped in front of her, his eyes moving over her and the pain in him intensified. He didn’t want to let go of Tess. He didn’t want to forget. But when he looked at her, when he looked at Liz, he so desperately wanted to move on with his life. He unfolded the blanket and spread it out over her. Her sleepy voice startled him.
Her eyes blinked a couple of times before she opened them and lifted her head and focused on him. His heart skipped a beat and his breath got lost in his throat.
“You’re home early.”
He swallowed. It sounded so right to hear her say ‘home’ like that. And that frightened him. “I skipped the conference.”
“Oh,” she said and gave him a weak smile, which didn’t meet her eyes. If he wasn’t mistaken, she was just as nervous as he was. But what could she be nervous about? She was only going to tell him that she couldn’t see him anymore, that she didn’t want any strings attached to him and that she wished that she had never met him.

Suddenly, the room felt suffocating and he looked away. He just realized that he couldn’t do this. He couldn’t hear what she was going to say. How had he ended up here, in the midst of the reality he had been so careful to avoid the last couple of years? He felt a sudden longing to return to the cocoon where he normally spent his life, separated from the rest of the world.
“I didn’t mean to wake you.” His voice sounded deflated, even to his ears, and he could tell by the worried shift of emotions in Liz’s eyes that she had noticed it too.
“That’s okay,” she whispered and slowly straightened up into a sitting position.
“Can I get you anything?” Max asked. For some reason, he felt the need to get out of there while he still had the chance. As if an impending disaster was waiting for one little false move to strike.
She smiled softly. “You can sit down for a second.”
He could feel her eyes move over him as he was being torn between letting go and moving on.
The soft plea was his undoing and he nodded, slowly lowering himself on the couch. He looked up to see Liz wet her lips. His heart was throbbing in his chest, the fear of what her fidgeting fingers meant. He met her eyes and forcefully willed every thought of resistance to the back of his head. He needed to listen to her now. She needed to tell him something and she had already helped him so much. He wanted to listen to her. He wanted to taste her words, feel them vibrate in the air against his lips. He wanted her soft velvet voice to grace his ears. He wanted the emotions in her voice to become absorbed by his body. He wanted them to drift into his system, into his blood. He wanted her every thought to nestle in every cell of his body. He wanted her essence to blossom in his heart.

But his mind was strong. The memories of a life lived and killed in one heartbeat too vivid and too close. He wanted to push her away just as much as he wanted her closer.
“Do you remember Disneyland?” Liz asked.
Max could feel himself relaxing a little, but apprehension was still holding his mind and heart hostage, and he was still looking at how she was twirling the small ring around her pinkie with suspicion.

Round and round. Back and forward.
“Of course,” Max answered, his voice betraying nothing of the mess of emotions inside of him. His mouth shifted into a half-smile as he thought about what the conversation about Disneyland truly had meant to him. “We went there sometimes.”
She smiled weakly, her fingers fidgeting nervously, and she let her eyes drop to the carpet. But not before Max was able to see the raw fear in her eyes.
“Liz, what is it?”
Suddenly he had this feeling that she wasn’t about to tell him that she didn’t want them to see each other ever again. That she wasn’t nervous because she intended to tell him that she wasn’t willing to invest anything with a man who was still living in the past. This was about something else.
“Max,” she looked up at him and her eyes met him one intense second, before she moved them to look at some point behind his head. “I need to tell you something.”
“Okay,” his voice was barely a whisper when he answered her.
“I want to be honest with you.”

He nodded mutely. She looked down at the ring she was turning around her pinkie, but she wasn’t seeing the ring. She was seeing a past she hated as much as it was impossible for her to escape it.
“I realize that this might be a little stupid, but I feel like…like… “ she looked up to look him straight into his eyes, “We have only known each other for a couple of days. We have only met on three occasions before I came here. You should be a mere stranger to me.” She paused and searched his face. He was waiting for what she was about to say. Would she confirm what his heart had already told him, or would she refute it all in a couple of words? “But you’re not.”
Still, her reply surprised him. And he could do nothing but wordlessly stare at her when she continued to speak.
“I feel things, Max. Things I’ve never felt before…” she rolled her eyes heavenwards “God, I sound ridiculous.” But Max could see the veil of tears in her eyes, which strongly emphasized the sincerity of her words.
Still too bruised with raw emotions to speak, Max speechlessly shook his head.
“You have shared so much of yourself with me. About your wife and your child…”
Max closed his eyes, feeling a blackness fall over him. This was it. This was when she would leave.
“That’s what makes this so much harder. The last thing I want to do is to cause you any harm. I already… I already care so much for you, Max. I don’t want to lose you, but I have to tell you… I’ve been lying to you.”
Max nodded, still staring at her, memorizing her every word and putting it on replay over and over again in his head.
“I told you that I couldn’t go on any attractions when I was on Disneyland, because I was a sick child.”
Max nodded.
“That’s not the whole truth.” Liz swallowed, not realizing that the sound of her heart beating erratically in her chest matched the throbbing of Max’s.

Liz took a deep breath, realizing that there was no turning back now. “I was born with a heart block. This basically means that I had a very sick heart.” She inhaled shakily when she saw Max’s face pale, but she just brushed a tear away from the corner of her eye before continuing. “Electrical impulses were unable to travel between the top and bottom chambers. I’ve had three heart attacks and had a pacemaker when I was twelve.”
She brushed another tear away. It was his expression that was making her cry. Somehow she knew that the shock and fear that was written all over his whitish face meant something really bad. He wasn’t taking this well at all, which was confirming all the fears she’d had from the beginning about telling him.

She didn’t know what else to do but to continue talking. She needed to tell him everything now. The damage was already done. There was no way she could’ve known that the worst damage was still to be done.
“The pacemaker worked perfectly, but I still needed to be careful and I didn’t have the strength to do all the things others kids did. About four years ago, I started to feel sick when I ate and I started to lose weight. It took some time for the doctors to understand that it was connected with my heart, which they had believed they had solved with the pacemaker. My body was gradually shutting down. I couldn’t walk, and doctors couldn’t access my veins to give medication because the veins were narrowing.”
Max looked like he was about to be sick, but Liz couldn’t stop. It was like a tidal wave of words had been released and there was nothing to stop it.
“My boyfriend found me on the floor one day when he got home from work. I was unconscious. If he had arrived two minutes later I would’ve been dead. My heart, liver and kidney had failed. The clinical term was acute heart failure.” Liz took a deep breath, her voice shaking some when she continued, “I was ready to die. I had been preparing for it all my life. Death has always walked beside me, so I was familiar with it. It didn’t scare me. What hurt the most were all the things I would never be able to do. And then… Then the most amazing thing happened.” She paused to search his face. But it wasn’t telling him anything different than it had been from the second she’d told him that she had a sick heart.

“I have a very rare composition of tissues and a rare blood type, which meant that finding me a heart transplant was considered close to impossible.” She didn’t notice how Max’s hand tightened around the armrest of the couch, her face was locked on his face, which remained inscrutable.
“Two years ago, when I was fighting for my life in the Intensive Care Unit, my doctor got the message that there was a heart that matched my heart tissues and had the same blood type.”
Max inhaled sharply, so sharply that an anguished whimper formed in his throat. Liz heart almost stopped as she witnessed tears pool in Max’s eyes and the harsh sound of his erratic breathing filled her ears.
“Max?” she whispered worriedly.
He was still staring at her, tears slowly starting to roll down his deathly pale cheeks. Liz felt a chill go through her. It was like he wasn’t looking at her, but through her.
“Max?” her voice was broken by a sob.
Max’s breath was coming in short inhaled gasps and Liz, terrified, wondered if he was hyperventilating.
“Max, please say something…. Are you okay? Are you alright?”
His mouth opened, and his lips twitched and moved as if he was trying to form words, but the words were as lost as the look in his eyes. Liz rose from the armchair with the intention of calming him down, holding him, just anything to stop him from getting any worse.

His voice froze her legs to the spot. Before she had a chance to utter a single syllable, he spoke again, his voice a mixture of uncensored feelings. “Leave.”
“Max, please…”
She didn’t want to leave him alone. She didn’t trust him to deal with himself on his own.
“Leave.” His voice was monotonous; still he was clearly ordering her.
It felt as if time was standing still. If she hadn’t been so focused on Max’s reaction, she would have heard the harsh ticking of the old clock on the wall as it was slowly moving time forward, ticking off the seconds of the first real experience she had ever had. And it was slowly ticking towards the end. Barely controlling her feelings, she nodded and left.

She turned in the hallway, and saw him slump back into the couch, burying his head in his hands. With tears streaming down her face, she left. But she only left the room, she couldn’t leave the house. She couldn’t leave him.



Okay, I'm crawling into the freezer...

See ya!
Unbreakable (M/L, AU)
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Post by max and liz believer » Sat Feb 21, 2004 10:03 pm

Hi everyone!

Okay, so I guess that most of you got the impression that Max put two and two together and figured out that Liz was the recipient of his dead wife’s heart. This is not the case. There were just too many things in Liz’s story that reminded Max of what had happened. And to explain Max’s fierce reaction to it all… Well, Max hasn’t really dealt with his sorrow. He’s in major denial. Then Liz comes around and starts to remind him of everything that he hasn’t even acknowledge in two years, so it’s like he experienced it all over again. It’s nothing personal about Liz that he wanted her to leave; he just couldn’t have anyone close…

Okay, this might seem confusing, but feelings are often very illogical… We won’t meet Max and Liz until the next chapter though, but I have the next one ready to be posted as well (thanks to Elizabeth). I’m just going to give everyone a chance to catch up :roll:

Lelle, Nan, Emma, Michelle, mareli, cherie, extingman, Eve, roswelluver, Alien614, Melysa, LTL, Scottie, Angelic, Ash_maxliz, I love Orli, Behrsgirl77, Elle, Tea, Carol, 561270 (Hi! I’m so happy that you decided to come out of lurkdom to tell me that you are reading my story. Thank you so much!!) AznGurl87


I cherish every word you say. Thank you!!

Here’s the next one. It’s a little short, but I’m planning on posting chapter 23 soon anyway :wink:

Chapter 22

Maria inserted the key into the lock, pushing the bag of groceries to her other arm, trying to balance it whilst opening the door.
One of the bags fell to the floor when Maria jumped with a shriek. The familiar contours of her boyfriend materialized out of the shadows. He looked at the bag on the floor, abashed, with sorrow written all over his face. “Uhm…sorry.”
“God Michael! Are you trying to kill me?!”
Before Michael could respond, Maria took a deep frustrated breath. “Well, don’t just stand there. Pick up the bag.”
“Right, right,” Michael said, crouching to pick up the bag.
Maria stopped and looked at his hunched figure and frowned. “What are you doing sitting here in the dark?”
Michael straightened up with the brown paper bag in his arms. Maria’s irritation quickly changed into suspicion when certain aspects of Michael’s behavior hit her. “Why are you like this?”
Michael frowned. “Like what?”
“All kind and stuff. Since when do you do something I tell you to do, like, immediately, without any argument?”
Michael stared at her like she had just announced that she was the master of the universe. “I’m a nice guy.”
”Not like this,” Maria said, unyielding.

“What are you saying, Maria?” Michael asked defensively, his voice bearing a hint of irritation.
Maria snatched the paper bag out of his arms and quickly walked into the kitchen, switching on the lamps as she entered. The canned goods in the bag slammed against the counter when she forcefully put down the groceries. She spun around, fire in her eyes.
“What is it, Michael?”
“Nothing,” Michael answered. He was trying really hard to stubbornly hold her gaze when he answered, but his eyes had a will of their own. Maria didn’t miss the betraying drifting of his eyes.
“What did you do?”
Michael’s anger flared to life. “Why do you assume that I’ve done something?!”
Maria’s eye-brows rose challenging. “Then tell me why we’re arguing right now?”
“You started it!” Michael exclaimed.
“Oh no. It was you who scared me half to death by sitting in the dark in my apartment instead of being at work, where you’re supposed to be right now. Something has happened, Michael. Don’t you dare lie to me!”

Michael stared at her hard, trying to come up with something to retaliate with. But the truth was that he was here for a reason and something had happened.
Maria witnessed the guilt flash in his eyes and she felt how her stomach twisted. Suddenly the irritation was gone, quickly replaced by fear. “God, Michael. What did you do?”
Michael looked at her for a long time, before slowly lowering himself on one of the wooden bar stools.
“I think I’ve done something really…disastrous.”
Maria paled and let the weight of her body fell back against the counter. She had a bad feeling about this. She could already sense what this was about.
“It’s about Liz,” she stated.
He looked up at her and nodded mutely.
“You told Max,” Maria whispered.
“No,” Michael answered truthfully.
Maria relaxed. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as she feared. But Michael didn’t her get too comfortable with the feeling of relief.
“I told Isabel.”

“You what?” Maria whispered, too shocked to be able to find her voice.
“I had to tell somebo-“
Maria straightened up, her eyes burning. “You told Isabel?”
“I wanted her to know. Max is her brother after all-“
Maria forcefully shook her head. “How could you?! I told you that in confidence.”
Michael was automatically pushed back into defensive behavior. “You never said that you told me that in con-“
”I shouldn’t have to tell you, Michael! You should know! You knew that Liz hadn’t told Max about her heart condition yet, so what gives you the right to spread the word to everyone around Max before he finds out-“
”I have not spread it to everyone else-“
”You told Isabel,” Maria said coldly.
“She’s his sister. She has the right to know:”
Maria’s eyes narrowed. “The right? No, Michael. This is certainly not about what is fair and not. What did you tell Isabel?”
“That Liz had a heart condition.”
”And what did she say?”

Michael’s eyes dropped, but not before Maria could see the guilt haunting them.
“Michael, what did she say?”
With his eyes glued to his knees, he answered, “That we should prevent Liz from ever seeing Max again.”
Maria’s chin dropped in disbelief. “You have got to be kidding me! She said that?”
Michael looked up at her defiantly. “Max has been through hell, okay? She’s really worried that he’s going to worry about Liz too much if he finds out. It’s better if he doesn’t have to be subjected to that problem.”
”Subjected to..:” Maria gasped, offended, “Problem? Liz is a problem?”
Michael sighed. “I thought so too at the beginning, but when Isabel was voicing my thoughts, it just sounded wrong.”
Maria snorted. “Well, I’m relieved that you aren’t as whacky as she is.”
”Don’t beat down on her,” Michael warned.
“She is trying to keep my best friend-“ Maria swallowed back tears of anger, “from ever feeling happiness. She is practically saying that Liz doesn’t deserve to fall in love and have a normal life, just because the heart she was born with wasn’t as good as others.” Maria’s fists clenched at her sides and she whispered through clenched teeth, “I actually liked her. But now… She’s a manipulative bitc-“
Michael shot up from his chair, grabbing her arm, “Hey! Stop that!”
Maria’s teary eyes stared into his, her eyes hard and her voice trembling with hurt when she spoke, “It’s because of people like her that Liz isn’t happy. Selfish people who-“
”That’s not fair,” Michael said quietly. “You have to try to look at it from her perspective.”
“Oh really?” Maria said sarcastically. “So this is about her?”

“Sit down, Maria,” Michael said.
Maria looked at him challenging. “Why should I?”
Michael didn’t answer, but looked at her steadily. After a staring contest that lasted a couple of seconds, Maria sat down with a resigned sigh.
“Thank you,” Michael said. “I need to tell you something, and then you might get a better understanding of why Isabel’s reacting like she is.”
Maria just bit her lips together and mutely stared at some point at the wall behind Michael’s head.
“Max was married. He married five years ago. They had a son, and both his wife and son died in a car accident two years ago.”
”I know,” Maria said, her voice trembling. Even though she was colorfully angry with Michael and Isabel right now, she couldn’t stop the sympathy of what Max had been through to seep into her intended rejecting voice.
Michael’s eyes widened in surprise. “You know?”
”Liz told me,” Maria answered simply.
“Where did she get that information?”
“From Max,” Maria answered matter-of-factly.
“No…no… that can’t be it,” Michael shook his head in denial.
Maria shifted her gaze to look at him, raising a questioning eyebrow. “No?”
“Max wouldn’t say that to someone that he just met. He is like Fort Knox. He doesn’t let anyone know his secrets. He hasn’t let anyone new in since the accident.”

”Doesn’t that tell you something?”
Michael met her eyes as she looked at him like she knew something he didn’t.
“Yes, it tells me that Isabel’s right. Max is breaking down. He isn’t caring about wh-“
What?” Maria shot up from the stool. “Isabel is as far from right as you can get! Don’t you see it? Are you completely blind? You are so caught up in keeping Max ‘safe’ as you call it, that you’re really fueling his insecurities and not encouraging him to live.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Michael fumed.
“Can it not be that Max told Liz because he cares about her? Because he wants something substantial with her? Something that lasts longer than just a few hours? A friendship, a partner, a lover, anything?”
”I’m not saying that Isabel’s right-“
”Oh really? ‘Cause it really sounds that way to me.”
”Max wouldn’t be able to handle it if something happened to Liz-“
”Maybe if you trusted in him to handle it and to make his own decisions about whether he wants to continue seeing Liz or not, it would be easier for him. As long as you, his closest friends, doubt his ability to recover and only want him to choose the safe choices in life, he isn’t going to truly live any way. You could set him up with a ‘safe’ candidate. Someone who’s been healthy all her life. Who only eats really nutritional stuff and always drives below the speed limit. But do you really think that this ensures that she won’t step out onto the street one day and get hit by a car? And most importantly, does it really ensure that he will live happily ever after? Or should he take a chance and follow his heart? Maybe he will worry more because of Liz’s heart, but at least he will feel alive.”
”Then why hasn’t Liz told Max yet?”
“Because she’s scared. She’s scared that he’s going to push her away because of the same reasons that Isabel wants to push her away. She wants to be accepted for who she is, not who she was.”

“But you have to see it from Isabel’s point of view. She’s afraid that this will kill Max-“
”This isn’t about Isabel. It’s not Isabel’s life. Max is still her little brother, but he isn’t four anymore. She can’t be there and hold his hand every time he scrapes his knees. She should’ve let go a long time ago.” Maria sighed. “She’s suffocating him.”
”You don’t even know her,” Michael objected.
“No, I don’t,” Maria said. “I can only draw conclusions from the little interaction between Max and her that I’ve seen during the Friday dinners, but it’s loud and clear to me. Max isn’t happy. And it’s not because he is still grieving his wife. It’s because he hasn’t been given a reason yet to move on. Liz is that reason.”

Michael just stared at her. “Who are you and what have you done with my girlfriend?”
“I’m always really careful when picking my girls. Blondes, long beautiful legs, and not much of a brain. I thought that I had made a wise choice, but now I’m wondering.”
Maria smiled despite herself. “Oh, I can assure you, Michael. I’m a natural blonde,” she teased.
Michael stepped up to her and wrapped his arms around her.
“I’m mad at you for betraying my trust,” Maria said against his ear.
“I know,” Michael murmured, feeling like a weight had been lifted from his heart. How had he been blessed with this woman? “How can I make it up to you?”
Maria pulled out of his arms and looked at him seriously. “I want you to call Liz and tell her what you did and apologize.” If it’s not already too late…
“Yes, mom,” Michael saluted, which earned him a swat over the chest. This only made his grin even wider.
“Don’t think you’ll get away that easily. Do you know my favorite food?”
Michael groaned. “Don’t make me cook!”
”It’s payback time,” Maria winked.
Michael moved towards the groceries bags with heavy legs.
“And after dinner I expect dessert-“
Michael groaned in protest.
“-in the bedroom,” Maria filled in.
Michael’s hands stopped mid-air and he stared at her, desire swiftly flashing into his eyes. “Seriously?” he asked hopefully.
“If you are good,” Maria answered.
Let’s just say that Michael had never cook that quickly before in his life.

Unbreakable (M/L, AU)
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Post by max and liz believer » Mon Feb 23, 2004 11:18 am

Hi you guys!

First off; Thank you soo much for voting for me (if you did :roll:) in the Roswell Fanfic Awards. It's because of you that I won the prize for the best author of a challenge response fic, for this story actually.

I can't thank you enough. I appreciate it so much that you are reading and that you are leaving feedback. I put so much time and soul into my writing and to be blessed with your kind words and the time you spend on giving something back is just marvelous.

Thank you so much!!

Before I post the next chapter (very M/L concentrated.. :wink:) I just want to say 'hi' to the new readers. I think that you are all new readers. I'm sorry if you've posted before and I just don't recognize your names. But that just means that you'll get a second welcome :roll:

polar vixen, TrueDestiny and Antarian Pixie - Welcome to this fic! I'm so happy to have you here!! :D :D

Okay, moving on...

Chapter 23

Liz fell asleep to the sound of the TV, coming from the living room. She was sitting on the floor at the bottom of the stairs, her head resting heavily against the wall. She had sat down with the intention of waiting for him when he decided to come out.

But he never did.

She’d heard the TV being turned on and the volume being turned up. The sound had the broken sound of a home video recording and after a while she could hear Max’s voice. It didn’t take her long to figure out that he was watching a recording of his own wedding. Max and his bride’s happy voices made Liz’s heart cry out in sympathy. If the happiness she could sense by listening to the voices was any indication at all of the kind of marriage Max and Tess had, they had been very happy with each other.

Liz fell asleep somewhere between the fifth and sixth replay. She woke up when she felt warmth surrounding her. Still half asleep she opened her eyes and saw him leaning over her.
“You shouldn’t sleep here,” he whispered.
She vaguely registered that the corridor was now dark and the sound from the TV was gone. The part of her brain that was somewhat awake was merely focused on his face, dimly noting the sorrow in his eyes and the haunting expression of numbness tracing his features.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled.
Her eyes closed again and she was fully asleep when she felt his arms tentatively move around her and she felt how she was lifted from the stair case. She heard him whisper close to her ear, his warm breath caressing her cheek, whispering that he was just going to put her in her bed. She snuggled up in his warm embrace with the vague feeling of being carried. She was asleep before Max had reached the top of the stairs.

The next time she woke up, she was struck with two things which didn’t make any sense to her. One; she was sleeping in a bed, even though she was very convinced that she hadn’t gone to sleep in a bed, and two; it was still dark, so it couldn’t be morning yet. She turned her head and buried her face in the pillow, trying to go back to sleep. But for some reason she was wide awake.

So when she saw the contours of a man in the shadows she was the fraction of a second away from crying out. But then she saw who it was.
“Max?” she whispered.
She could see the contours moving as he lifted his hand towards her, but she couldn’t see his face. It was hidden in the dark obscuring shadows.
“Max? What…”
“Her name was Tess.”
His voice was soft and quiet, but it could just as well have been shouted while shaking her; it had the same effect. The functions in her body momentarily stilled and she waited. Waited for him to continue, since she couldn’t think of anything to say. Her brain had turned into mush.
“I didn’t even like her at first,” Max continued. “She moved to our town when I was sixteen and at first I thought she was really annoying. She seemed nonchalant and dismissive. But it was only a façade. The vibrant fingerprint of her personality wasn’t. She was always so full of life. She made everything seem so easy. She danced through life; every obstacle was handled with laughter.” He paused and Liz realized that she had forgotten to breathe. “She could really infuriate me. I thought she was playing with people. But I was mistaken…”
Liz swallowed and finally found her voice. “Max, you don’t have to-“
”Yes, I do,” Max answered quietly.

She became even more aware of her racing heart when he rose from the chair and stood up. It was a dark night. The moon wasn’t showing its countenance tonight and there were no lamp posts outside the window to lessen the darkness. But her eyes were gradually getting used to the darkness and she had no problem to see him as he stopped by the window, his back turned against her.
“I need to tell you,” he said. “I need to tell you why I reacted the way I did. I shouldn’t have done-“
Liz started to shake her head, even though he couldn’t see it, “No, Max. I shouldn’t have intruded on you like this. I should’ve left. I never should’ve come here-“
”You did nothing wrong,” Max interrupted, his eyes still staring unseeingly out the window.
“I lied to you,” Liz said, scooting up into sitting position, pulling the comforter with her to protect her shivering body from the chilly air.
“I can understand why,” Max said.
“But…” Liz voice trailed off in surprised confusion. Why wasn’t he more upset? She had lied to him for days.
“Why did you do it?” He turned towards her then and she could dimly see his eyes in the poor light.
“I…I…” Liz stuttered.

Max inhaled deeply and raked his fingers through his hair. He hesitated before sitting down on the side of the bed, two inches from her feet tucked under the comforter. She could see him clearly now. She could see the anguish on his face. She could see his loneliness, his desperation, his fear, his panic, his sorrow, his guilt; everything seamlessly mixed up in a painful mixture of emotions.
“Why Liz?” he asked again, meeting her eyes.
“I wanted you to see me for who I am, not my disease. For once, I wanted someone to see me. I wanted to be treated like anyone else. I needed to know if someone could love me for me. Not out of pity. I didn’t want you to run away. I didn’t want you to be concerned about me if you stayed.”
A helpless tear tumbled down her cheek, caught in his gaze. He nodded, while his eyes followed the downfall of the tear.
“It was a drunk driver,” Max whispered, watching Liz’s hand brush the tear away before lifting his eyes to hers again. “Tess and Josh are gone, dead, because some idiot decided to drive drunk. They told me that…that Josh died immediately.” He had to push the words out over his lips. Words that had never been spoken, thoughts that had never been voiced. They were buried so deep inside of his mind making it so much harder to find them. He could feel a bitter taste in his mouth, could feel the nausea overwhelm him when his thoughts went places, visited memories, where he never went in a conscious state.

“Tess lived… But she wasn’t the-,” Max took a deep breath, struggling to remain in control, “She wasn’t there. Brain dead. She was brain dead.”
Liz’s heart hurt when she watched him struggle with the painful words and his emotions. She couldn’t even imagine how it would be like to lose someone; to live with the pain that Max was living with every day since the accident. She had always been on the other side of the spectrum. She had been the one almost dying and she had been prepared to die. She had never been in the situation her parents had been when they had watched their baby girl languish away, knowing that she would die. Brushing away another tear she reached out and searched in the darkness for his hand. He jumped when her hand made tentative contact with his, but he quickly recuperated and he pulled her smaller hand into his, holding it tightly.
“Just like you, she had a rare blood type,” Max continued.
Liz nodded, letting Max continue when he felt ready.
“The doctor told me that there was someone waiting for her heart. Her heart was perfectly fine and she could give someone else life by donating it.”
“Oh my God…” Liz whispered, when the magnitude of the emotions her earlier words must have triggered became clear to her.
“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever done. I wanted… I wanted…” Max lowered his head and started taking deep breaths.
”It’s okay, it’s okay,” Liz said, her tears flowing freely down her cheeks now, crying for Max’s pain and every tear he hadn’t cried since everything had been ripped away from him.

Max’s eyes looked up into hers and it took every last piece of control inside of her not to turn away and crawl up into a ball and cry her heart out at the look in his eyes.
“I wanted her to live. I wanted her to come back. I couldn’t let them…c-cut in her, because then she would never come back again. Never…”
His head lowered again and she could see the internal battle he was having with himself in his every miniscule gesture. She hesitated only a few seconds, before reaching her decision. Scooting closer to him and pulling her legs to the side, making it possible for her upper body to come closer to his, she put her arms around him and pulled him close. He was stiff in her arms at first, but she only tightened her grip on him and her hand consolingly threaded through his hair. Gradually, he relaxed in her arms and his arms moved around her. When she felt the weight of his head on her shoulder and the warmth of his breath against her neck her eyes closed and her hold automatically tightened.

“I agreed to donate her heart,” Max whispered.
Liz sniffled and nodded against his shoulder.
“She died on Valentine’s Day.”
Liz felt the air froze inside of her, freezing her blood. Valentine’s Day.
“Max, how long ago did Tess and Josh die?” She already knew the answer, because he had mentioned it before, but she had to be sure.
“Two years ago,” Max answered, his voice muffled in her shirt.
She slowly released the grip on him and moved away. Max looked up at her with confusion at the sudden shift in the surroundings.
“What?” he asked, his eyes searching hers. She was staring at him with a look that made a sinking feeling begin its process in his body.
“I’m really sorry to have to ask you this,” Liz said quietly, “But do you remember at what time they took her to operation and…removed her heart?”
Max blinked. “Liz, what…?”
“Do you remember the time?” Liz asked again, her voice more persistent.
“About 2 p.m.,” Max answered.
Liz hand flew up to her mouth, only partly drowning the gasp which escaped her lips.
There was insecurity in his eyes now. And concern. Confusion and fear.
“I think… I think… that I was the recipient.”

And it's to be continued... :wink:

Take care everyone!!

Unbreakable (M/L, AU)
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max and liz believer
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Post by max and liz believer » Thu Feb 26, 2004 11:45 pm


I thought I would put you out of your misery and just give you the next chapter. Max’s reaction might surprise you, hopefully in a positive way, but I’m just trying to write what comes my way. This story has more or less been writing itself, so I’ve just been going with the flow…

I just want to thank those people who took the time to leave feedback after the previous chapter…

Anna/Nana – Hi! Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D You’re going to find out how Max is taking the news right…now. :D

frenchkiss70 – Thank you so very much for the feedback! It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you! :D :D

Alien614 – You know what? I never get tired of hearing you say that you love this fic. :D Thank you so much!!!

polar vixen – Yeah, Max is finally opening up. It’s just natural, I guess. Liz does that to him. But he’s been very deep under and it’s not going to be easy to pull him up. It’s going to take time… Thank you so much for your feedback!!! :D :D

Anna / I love Orli – You might be surprised by Max’s reaction, as I mentioned at the beginning. I won’t say anything more than that, because I might reveal too much. But thank you so much for the feedback!!! :D :D

Scottie – Hi! Thank you so much for your congratulations!! :oops: I’m very relieved that you liked the Michael and Maria part. I’m a dreamer and thus I specialize in Max and Liz, and since I’m myself not the type of person who starts arguments (I often tend to go out of my way to avoid them :roll:), Maria and Michael are more difficult to write, because they are more or less always fighting :wink: So I really appreciate your compliment on them. Thank you!! And no, Max hadn’t figured out the connection with Liz’s heart transplant and his former wife’s. Read on and you’ll find out how he’s taking that news…

Dee- Dee!! *waves* Hi!! First of all, I’m so happy that you are still reading. I wasn’t sure since I didn’t see you around here, but since I know that you have lurker tendencies I was hoping that you were still reading. I’m so happy that you left feedback! Thank you!! And the feedback… Wow… I’m blushing ridiculously much when reading it. Thank you so much!! :D :D

Emma - :oops: Oh gosh. Thank you so much for the praise in your feedback, girlfriend!! :D

Eve – Sorry… I’m always doing that – stopping in the middle of everything :roll: It’s a curse, I’m telling you :wink: I guess you’ll just have to bare with me :mrgreen: About Max loving Liz just because she a part of his late wife inside of her… Well, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. Partly because I don’t know myself what’s going to happen, but even if I did, I wouldn’t want to reveal everything to you in advance. But I’m just going to say this. Max might be ruled by sorrow and denial. He has had a rough couple of years. But he’s not irrational. He can think rationally, even though in the heat of the moment, the emotions have a tendency to rule his behavior. Thank you so much for the insightful feedback!! :D :D

Behrsgirl77 - :oops: Thank you so much for your compliments!! You make me feel so special :D. Thank you!!

AznGurl87 – Thank you so much for your congratulations and the feedback!! Read on to find out what Max’s reaction to what Liz just told him is going to be…

mareli – I’m so sorry, mareli, for stopping there :oops:. I think it’s a curse. I can’t help it. I need to end the chapter somewhere and it’s often best to end it when something “exciting” is happening. But at least my updates aren’t that far apart. Thank you so much for your feedback and your congratulations :D :D :D

snoopie13 – Thank you so much for the feedback!!! :D :D :D

mezz – Thank you so much for your beautiful and heartwarming words. They truly mean a lot to me. About leaving you hanging like this… :oops: Sorry about that. I just do that… a lot. Sorry… But thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

Michelle – Do you know how much I love to read that you are loving my story? *A lot*. I can’t even describe how much I appreciate it. Thank you so much!! You’ll find out what Max’s reaction is when you read on. :)

Justine – Max’s reaction’s coming up. Thank you so much for the feedback!!! :D :D

cherie – Hi cherie! First of all I want to thank you for writing in my guestbook and for your compliments there! :D Girl, you making me feel so special! Thank you!! And to hear that you are thinking about my story sometimes in your daily life… That’s just… Wow… That must be the greatest feedback a writer can get. Thank you so much!! :D :D

Harper – Hi Harper!! So happy to see you here! Thank you for leaving me some feedback. It means so much to me. Welcome to this fic and I hope that you’ll enjoy reading it :D

LTL – Okay, you are one really perceptive reader. I love it that you point out a specific part or detail in my writing that has touched you or stuck with you in some way. And about using “heart” in ordinary sayings – even when it concerns Liz… I’ve actually thought about it myself when writing. When I write something like “her heart skipped a beat”, I’m always thinking that it might be misinterpreted… So it’s a fine thread to walk on. I just have to make sure that the surrounding text in some way informs the reader that it was only a figure of speech and that there’s nothing wrong with Liz physically… Thank you so much for your congratulations and for the feedback!! You’re feedback is great!! :D :D

roswelluver – Thank you!! :D :D :D

TrueDestiny:oops: Oh gosh… :oops: You making me blush. Thank you so much for your very uplifting feedback!! :D :D :D

Ana / moonlight – Hi Ana! Thank you so much for your congratulations!! My first days in school have been great, but nothing has actually started for real yet. It’s merely been introductions to the courses as of yet. So I still have time to write :D

Luvya – Hi! Wow… You really think that I’ve been able to portray Max, Liz, Maria, Michael and Alex completely? That’s just… Wow. That’s one of the best compliments I can ever get. Thank you!! That means so much to me. In answer to your question, Kyle and Serena will probably not be a part of this story. But I will never say never, they might show up, but for now there’s no sight of them :wink: Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

Stef – Hi darling! Thank you so much for your feedback!! Have I ever told you that I love when you quote me? It might seem a little self-centric, but I do :roll:. It makes it possible for me to see exactly what you like about the chapter. I also love it when you pinpoint exact events and tell me what those events meant to you. So thank you so much for your feedback!! It means the world to me!! :D :D

Okay, I won’t detain you anymore. Here’s the next chapter….

Though I’ve tried I’ve fallen
I have sunk so low
I messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here and
Tell me I told you so

We all begin out with good intent
When love is raw and young
We believe that we can change ourselves
The past can be undone
But we carry on our back the burdens time always reveals
In the lonely light of morning
In the wound that would not heal
It’s the better taste of losing everything
I’ve held so dear

Excerpt from “Fallen” by Sarah McLachlan

From Chapter 23…

“I’m really sorry to have to ask you this,” Liz said quietly, “But do you remember at what time they took her to operation and…removed her heart?”
Max blinked. “Liz, what…?”
“Do you remember the time?” Liz asked again, her voice more persistent.
“About 2 p.m.,” Max answered.
Liz hand flew up to her mouth, only partly drowning the gasp which escaped her lips.
There was insecurity in his eyes now. And concern. Confusion and fear.
“I think… I think… that I was the recipient.”

Chapter 24

She had never thought silence could be so deafening, or that eyes could see so much, and yet clearly process nothing. His eyes bore into hers, digging their way into her mind and her heart. There was no escape now. There was still many things unspoken between them, the pregnant silence was only scratching the surface of what was left to say, but the most important things had been revealed. Now it was up to them, up to him, what to do with that information. Would he run? Would he deny it? Would he show understanding?

“Are you sure?” he whispered, his voice so thin and light it was almost lost in the air between them.
She swallowed. “No, I’m not sure. But not too many heart transplants are made…and she had a rare blood type too…. thus increasing the likeliness that I’m…that Tess…that your wife-“
His quiet nod silenced her.
“What…what are we going to do?” Liz couldn’t think of anything else to ask. She was just as shocked as he was. There was a big possibility that it was Tess’ heart beating inside of her. That she was alive because Tess had died. She had of course always been aware of the fact that someone had died in order to give her life, but this was just too…
“This is just a little…bizarre,” Max whispered.
She smiled weakly. “Understatement.”
He shook his head in confusion, but the anguish in his face had eased, which calmed Liz some. “I don’t know what to feel about this. I… I miss Tess and if there had been something that I could do to have her here beside me right now, I would’ve. But there was nothing I could do. She would be hooked up to a respirator, not able to breathe on her own and never…never waking up again.” He looked up and met her eyes and swallowed. There was prominent guilt in his eyes and Liz had a feeling that his present feelings were making him feel guilty about something. “But…if I had waited. If I had told the doctors to keep her alive, you would’ve…you would’ve died….”
The last word was barely audible and he dropped his eyes. He gave a startle when he felt her small hand under his chin, gently forcing his face upwards to look at her.

“Thank you, Max,” she whispered. “Thank you.” She inhaled shakily and she was sobbing when she continued. “I’m so sorry that your wife died. I’m so sorry that you lost your little boy.” The first tears in two years began to form in Max’s tears as his eyes were transfixed on Liz’s face.
She fruitlessly brushed some tears away, but they kept running, “I’m so sorry you lost your family. But I can’t help but be happy that you decided to let go of her that day. Even if I think that… I think that you’re still holding onto her, you made the decision that day to give her heart to someone. And because of that I’m alive now. And for some reason we have met.” She inhaled shakily and the tears came faster when she watched fresh tears spill down Max’s cheeks. “I’m so happy that we met, Max. Because I…I…”
A stone fell from Max’s heart. Suddenly everything seemed lighter. The magnitude of what his decision had meant had never really hit him until now. Until he had the woman who was living because of it right in front of him.
Max smiled through the tears, “Tess always did have to have the last word.”
Liz gave a teary laugh.
“Don’t cry,” Max whispered, his hands moving up to brush her tears away.
“I’m so sad and happy at the same time,” Liz tried to explain.
Max gave her a sad smile. “Me too.” He pulled her close, wrapping her into his strong arms, feeling that his life had begun again as strongly as he could feel her warm body in his embrace.
“Me too,” he repeated.

To fall so deep into you
Lose myself completely
In your sweet embrace
All my pain’s erased

Excerpt from “Train Wreck” by Sarah McLachlan


The next day

“Michael just called,” Alex sat down opposite his wife at the kitchen table.
“Uh huh,” Isabel said, trying her best to sound casual.
“Iz, honey, when are you going to stop doing this?”
Isabel looked up innocently, “Stop doing what?”
“Treat Max like a child.”
Isabel’s eyes darkened and her body went rigid with the sudden need to defend herself.
“I’m not treating him like a child. Don’t be ridiculous, Alex.”
Alex lifted the coffee can and started to fill his cup. “Aha, so what’s this about making his decisions for him?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Liz. I’m talking about Liz Parker. The sweet woman who evidently caught Max’s interest from the second he laid eyes on her. The same woman who helped us find Michelle that day at the mall, remember?”
“Of course I remember.” Isabel lowered her eyes to the newspaper on the table. “I don’t forget a thing like that. Did Michael tell you that she is sick?”

“So what? Why should that make any difference?”
Isabel’s eyes flew up to his, irritation flaring wildly, “It makes all the difference. Why can’t anyone see it? Is everyone living in a romantic fairytale? Liz could die any day… What about the people she leaves behind? What about Max? It will destroy him. I know my brother, Alex. He can’t go through that all over again. You said it yourself; Max loves completely. It’s all or nothing. Doesn’t anyone see what a disaster a relationship with a person suffering from a sick heart would mean?”
“I understand your point-“
”No, you don’t,” Isabel snapped.
Alex reached out with his hand across the table and caught hers. “Yes, I do. But you cannot prevent bad things from happening. You cannot protect your brother from everything.”
Tears welled up in Isabel’s eyes and she murmured, “It’s my fault he’s suffering now.”
”Excuse me?” Alex frowned. Had she really said what he thought she had?
A tear tumbled down Isabel’s cheek, quickly followed by another. “Tess was my friend. I introduced her to Max. I helped them get together. I pushed them together. If it hadn’t been for me Max would have just continued to be annoyed by her.”
“They were in love, Isabel.”
“But if I hadn’t pushed it, they might not have found each other and-“

”Isabel, you’re being completely irrational. Do you really think that you can stop someone from falling in love? If it’s meant to be, it will happen, Iz, and you can’t prevent it. Neither can you be responsible for what happens. Everything in life’s a risk and if you don’t take some your life isn’t worth anything.”
The tears were now streaming down Isabel’s cheeks and frustrated she whispered brokenly, “Why did she have to have a heart disease? I really liked her. I could even see her as a potential friend.”
”Does it have to be perfect to be right?” Alex asked.
Isabel looked at him wordlessly and opened her mouth to answer, when her efforts were cut off by Michelle’s small body, yet harboring a strong voice, stumbling into their surroundings.
“Mommy! Mommy!”

Isabel quickly brushed the tears off her cheeks and forced herself to smile at Michelle as she came running into the kitchen. Michelle reached out with her arms and Isabel took the hint and lifted her up on her lap.
“Yes, pumpkin?”
“Can I have a puppy?”
Her innocent and sparkling eyes looked at her hopefully and Isabel looked over her daughter’s head on Alex.
Alex raised his eyebrows in amusement. “Well, it’s better than the pony she wanted last week.”
”Alex!” Isabel scolded.
“Mommy, pweeaasee!”
“Honey, we’ve already had this conversation. You can’t have an animal until you’re old enough to take care of it on your own.”
Michelle’s face fell
“But I can make peanut buttew and jelly sandwhises for him.”
Isabel fought to bit back her laughter.
“Well, puppies don’t eat the same thing as we do. They like meat more than peanutbutter.”
”I’s can give him my sosages,” her nose scrunched up, “I’s don’ like sosages.”
Isabel smiled, tenderly smothering Michelle’s morning hair.
“Yes, dogs like sausages, but you have to take him out for walks and you have to spend a lot of time with him.”

Michelle’s eyes brightened when she came up with an idea.
“I’s can put him in Michelle’s doll carrich and he can come wif me to Sarah.”
Isabel gave Alex a scolding look when he chuckled. He wasn’t making it any easier for her to remain serious.
“Dogs have to walk on their own, pumpkin. They don’t like to lie in a carriage.”
“But…” Michelle pouted, “I’s want a puppy!”
“Michelle, let’s try again tomorrow, okay,” Alex said, winking at Isabel when she gave him a deadly glare, “Maybe your mother will have gotten used to the idea then.”
Michelle’s face brightened again and she hopped down from Isabel’s lap. “’Kay!”
Isabel was just about to make sure that Alex knew what he had coming when Michelle poked her head back into the kitchen.
“How long is ‘til ‘morrow?”
“You have to go and sleep one time before it’s tomorrow,” Alex answered.
“Ohhh,” Michelle groaned in impatience. Then she shone up again. “Den I’s go to sleep now.”
”Oh no you don’t,” Isabel cried out.

Michelle turned to her with an expression of disappointment and confusion.
Isabel rose from the chair. “We are going to Uncle Max today. We have to get you ready.”
Alex smiled when he picked up the newspaper.
“And don’t think I’m finished with you,” Isabel whispered to him when she passed him. Alex smile faltered. Oops, maybe he shouldn’t have pushed that much.


It wasn’t the sun shining through the windows that woke her up. It wasn’t an alarm clock or her cell phone ringing. It was a tapping sound, getting increasingly louder. With a quiet groan she opened her eyes. She felt the bed shift beside her and turned her head to the side. Spread out next to her was Max. They were both lying on the bed in Max’s bedroom. Liz with her legs pulled up towards her chest and Max across the diagonal of the double bed.
“Max...” she mumbled.
He was slowly waking up as well, slowly becoming aware of the same tapping sound.
“What is that sound?” Liz asked, squinting in the bright morning light.
The tapping sound ended, to be replaced by another sound, slowly decreasing in sound.
“Max, wake up,” Liz tried.
Max opened one eye and peeked at her. He frowned in the light and closed his eye again.
Liz pulled herself up into sitting position and her eyes snapped to the door when the sound was getting louder again.
That’s when Max snapped his eyes open and sat up quickly.
“What time is it?” he asked.
Confused, she looked at her arm-watch. “Nine.”
“Shit,” Max breathed.
“What is it?” Liz asked.
“I was going to-“
He didn’t had the chance to say anymore when the door opened and the person responsible for making the quick tapping sounds with her small shoes revealed herself. The little girl frowned and bit her lower lip when her eyes took in the picture.
“Michelle? Where did you go? Have you found…” Isabel showed up in the doorway, “…Max yet…”

Max gave her a lopsided smile. “Hi Isabel.”
“Mommy, it’s Liz!!” Michelle exclaimed excited, recuperating much quicker than her dumbfounded mother.
“Hi Michelle,” Max said.
“Uncle Max,” Michelle said, “What’s Liz doin’ here?”
“Uhm…” Max began, scratching behind his ear.
Liz smiled at him before returning her attention to Michelle. She tried to ignore the looks Isabel was giving her and instead patted the comforter under her.
“Hi Michelle. Can I get a hug?”
Michelle bit her lip shyly.
“Please,” Liz tried, holding back a smile.
“’Kay,” Michelle agreed and hopped up on the bed, crawling into Liz’s arms.
Liz closed her eyes when she felt Michelle’s small arm around her waist. Everything seemed different now after what Max and she had talked about before. Josh had been Michelle’s age when he had died. He had been just as small and just as innocent.
Max’s chest tightened when he watched Liz hug Michelle. Somehow he could imagine what she felt. For some reason he thought that she was seeing it through his eyes, feeling what he felt every time he hugged Michelle.
“Max, can I speak to you.” Isabel’s resolute voice forced his eyes away from Liz and to his very displeased sister.
“Uhm…sure,” Max answered and looked at Liz to ask her if she was okay with them leaving.
“We’ll be fine,” Liz answered and smiled at him, before he even had the chance to voice his question. “Won’t we, Michelle?”
Michelle crawled off Liz’s lap and nodded with a big smile. “Yep.”

It was with great reluctance that Max left the bed and followed his sister out in the corridor. Isabel shut the door behind them and turned towards Max, her face red with anger.
Pointing at the closed door, she hissed, “What the hell is she doing here?”
“Isabel, it’s not what you think. She only spent the night-“
“Well, then it’s exactly what I think,” Isabel said, her fists clenching tighter at the sides of her body.
“She had nowhere to go. She needed some place to stay,” Max continued.
“Oh,” Isabel exclaimed sarcastically, “And you just took her in out of the goodness of your heart?”
“Yes,” Max answered simply. “Don’t you know me at all, Iz? I wouldn’t sl… I wouldn’t…”
”And you actually believed what she was telling you? What exactly was she telling you?”
“She broke up with her boyfriend and was planning to go to Maria’s, but Maria wasn’t home and her parents are away on a second honeymoon. She didn’t have that much money with her.”
”How convenient,” Isabel snorted.
“Why are you like this?” Max said irritated.
“Why am I- Max! She’s still a stranger! You don’t invite strange people into your home.”
”She’s not a stranger, Isabel,” Max said seriously.
Isabel blinked and a feeling of complete helplessness started to spread inside of her when she saw the look in his eyes.

“Oh my God… You’re falling in love with her.”
To her surprise, Max paled and took a step back. “No, I’m not. But we are friends and friends help each other out.”
“Then why were you sleeping in the same bed if you are just friends?”
Max bit his lip to control the anger quickly ignited in him. “I don’t have to defend myself. This is my house, Isabel, I’m an adult and I can do whatever I want.”
”Stop acting like a stupid baby,” Isabel hissed. “I know that you are still hurting, but please don’t bury that pain with sex.”
Max groaned and lowered his voice, “We did not have sex, Isabel. We are both fully clothed. We were up late talking last night and we feel asleep.”
”Uh huh,” Isabel said, not believing him. “Max, there’s something I have to tell you.”
Max sighed and leaned back against the wall. “What is it, Iz?” He just wanted to go back into the guestroom and spend time in the presence of Liz and Michelle.

Isabel lowered her voice, careful not to let anything sip through the cracks in the door to the bedroom. “Liz has a heart disease, Max.”
Max’s only response was to slightly lift his eye-brows.
Isabel frowned at his reaction. “She almost died. She had a transplant, Max.”
Isabel searched Max’s face. It was as blank as a window plane.
“She’s sick, Max,” she emphasized.
“Okay,” Max answered evenly.
“Okay?” Isabel’s teeth clenched in anger. “That’s all you have to say? ‘Okay’?!”
Max took three steps closer to Isabel, so that he was looking her directly in the eyes. “Isabel, Liz is the most incredible person I’ve met in a long time and I’m not willing to let her go. She already told me about her condition, but she also told me that she isn’t sick anymore. Her new heart is as good as mine or yours. The only difference between you and her is that she has to take medicine to prevent her body from rejecting the heart. If her past matters so much, then what does that make me? If my past mattered, I would never find someone again. Liz doesn’t care about that.” Max swallowed at the emotions starting to bubble inside of him at the thought of how Liz had unconditionally helped him, supported him, from the second they first met in the mall. “I want to be there for her like she has been there for me the last couple of days.”
Isabel stared at him, her mouth hanging open in shock.
“Max…” she whispered, her voice hoarse, “She can still die.”
”So can anyone,” Max answered. “If there’s one thing Tess and Joshua’s death taught me, it is that we have to live right now. Because everything can change so quickly.”
”You are not ready for this,” Isabel tried. She had to convince him. He was blind. She had to make him see what a big mistake he was making. “You are still grieving.”
”Maybe I need someone to help me stop grieving,” Max said, “A large empty dark house can be terrifying when you are in pain, Iz.”

“Don’t settle for Liz just because she has stayed this long,” Isabel whispered, “She is trouble.”
”I’m not having this conversation,” Max said, “Not if you’re going to be that way.”
Isabel reached out and stopped him with her hand on his arm as he started to walk away.
“I love you, Max. I’m only trying to help you.”
”Iz, I love you too, but maybe, just maybe, Liz wants to stick around and then I’m not going to be the one to stop her.”

Unbreakable (M/L, AU)
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Post by max and liz believer » Sun Feb 29, 2004 11:02 pm

Hi all you beautiful people!!

Well, it seems as if you “approved” of Max’s reaction. I’m so happy over the positive response :D. Isabel’s a whole different topic lol. I’m not even going to try to defend her :wink:

roswelluver – Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

AngelOhana – Thank you so much for your insightful feedback! You’re comment about the source to Isabel’s behavior is really good! :D And thank you for quoting :wink: I love quoting, because that helps me to see in detail what you liked :D

snoopie13 – If you’re happy, than I’m happy lol :D Thank you so much for the feedback! :D :D

Anna/I love Orli – Hehe… I get the feeling that you are not so happy about Isabel’s behavior… Thank you so much for the feedback, Anna!! :D :D

Michelle – Thank you! You brought up things in your feedback that the others hadn’t. I’m so glad that you like Alex in this story. Alex is my reasonable one :) Thank you!! :D :D

mezz – Isabel’s scars run deep, just as Max’s does. She just has another way of dealing with it, which at the moment is pissing everyone off :wink: Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

Emz80m – Hi! I think this is your first post on this story… Welcome!! And since you are pretty new to the board as well, I want to welcome you to the board too. :D Where in Australia do you live? I’m in Australia too, I just came here to study :wink: My flatmate (an Australian guy) forced me to try Vegemite. That was not pleasant :wink: Thank you so much for your feedback!!

Lelle – Don’t worry about not leaving feedback. I’m just as bad as you, since I haven’t posted anything on the Swedish thread in aaages… Haha, yeah, Alex has a tough job there, trying to calm Isabel down :D

Emma – Oh my God, Em. You’re making me blush :oops: Sometimes, it feels like you are talking about someone else, because all these good things that you are saying can’t be about me, can they? Thank you sooo incredible much for the looong feedback and the wonderful words!! :D

polar vixen - Whoa… Right in the bull’s eye. Your analysis of Isabel is very correct! Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

Behrsgirl77 – Isabel? Mad cow? Haha! That totally cracked me up!! I’m really impressed with your Isabel-analysis there. Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

extingman – Thank you so much for the feedback!! You’re saying some really good things there!! Thank you!! :D :D

Dee - :oops: :oops: :oops: I can’t do anything else than blush (and grin stupidly) when reading your feedback. Wow… You actually think that I’m doing your challenge justice? That’s just…wow…Thank you! Since it’s someone else’s idea that you are writing, I feel like there is more pressure, so to have you say that – you have no idea how happy that makes me. And I just love to read your feedback, because you always come with these wise insights. You are actually one of the very few who looked at Max positive acceptance of what Liz was saying with suspicion. Which you should really do, because Max has been down so deep, there’s no way this is going to go that smoothly… Unfortunately… Thank you sooo much for the feedback, Dee!!

Eve – One of the things I love about your feedback, is that you often connect it to something that has happened to you or something in your personal life that you can relate to. I love that, because that lets me know that what I’m writing is realistic in the way that you are able to connect it to real life experiences. Thank you so much for the feedback, Eve!

marteloise – Angeliqué! Hi! I’m so happy every time you decide to stop by! :D Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

Scottie – Okay, I’m so happy that you gave me such a detailed feedback (you always do, but this was just even more detailed than usual :wink:), so that I can see exactly what you are reacting to and what you find good (and not so good :roll:) Isn’t Sarah’s album great? I love it! :D Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

frenchkiss70 – You are so right. Max has been so depressed for so long, that there’s no possibility at all that he’s going to heal easily. I guess, what you read in the previous chapter was the calm before the storm in some way… Thank you so much for the feedback!!! :D :D

Alien614 – Are you mad at Isabel as well? :wink: I don’t understand why everyone’s upset with her lol. Just kidding… Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

AznGurl87 - :oops: Gosh… Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

mareli – You’re actually the only one who commented on the passage where Max “denies” being in love with Liz. Does he feel like her friend? Hmmm… It’s more complicated than that… Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

cherie – You’re probably right. If Isabel keeps going like she is, then she’ll drive a wedge between she and Max for sure. And your worries, together with Dee and frenchkiss70, are very justified. Everything just went a little too smoothly, didn’t it…? Thank you so much for the feedback!!! :D :D

Carol – Thank you, girlfriend!! :D

Okay people…

Without further ado…

Chapter 25

Liz looked at Max when Isabel closed the door behind her, after giving Michelle a good-bye kiss.
“Is everything okay?”
Max just put his arms around Michelle when she crawled up into his lap, snuggling with her nose in his shirt.
“It’s fine,” he answered evasively.
“She seemed upset,” Liz said quietly. She had a strong feeling that it had something to do with her.
“She’s just…being Isabel,” Max answered and smiled weakly. But the smile never reached his eyes and he shifted uncomfortably.
“Are you okay?” Liz whispered.
“Uncle Max is sad,” Michelle answered in his place.
Liz and Max turned their heads in unison towards the little girl.
“Why is he sad, Michelle?” Liz asked.
Max looked at Liz when Michelle answered, “He don’t like to fight. He don’t like when mommy is angry.”
Max dropped his eyes when Liz shifted her eyes to him and then placed a tender kiss on the top of Michelle’s blonde head.
“You’re right, Michelle,” he whispered, “I don’t like to fight. But mommy isn’t angry, she is just a little upset right now.”

Big brown innocent eyes looked up into his. “Why?”
“She wants me to do something I don’t want to do,” Max answered quietly.
“Oh,” Michelle said, biting her lower lip. “Is it like when mommy wants me to sleep and I’s don’t wanna?”
Max smiled. “Exactly, sweetie.”
“Can me show Liz my room?” Michelle asked, her eyes suddenly sparking with anticipation and excitement.
Max raised his eye-brows in silent question to Liz. She smiled and answered his question out loud, “I would love to see your room. I didn’t know you had a room here.”
”Uncle Max gave me one,” Michelle answered and began to inch her way out of Max’s lap.
They all rose from the bed, with Michelle bouncing away towards the door the second her small feet connected with the floor.
“Hurry, hurry.” Michelle’s voice held the same bouncy as her feet as she was jumping on her place next to the door.
Liz laughed. “Okay, okay.”
Max followed close behind, but was stopped by Michelle’s determined hands on the front of his legs.
“Only girls,” she announced in her best educational voice.
“Oh,” Max scratched his ear, “Okay.”
Liz sent him an apologetic smile when she was being dragged away by Michelle’s small hand.
“I’ll just make us something to eat then,” Max said.
With mixed feelings he watched them disappear down the corridor, before turning towards the stairs.

“There’s Josh’s room,” Michelle pointed towards one of the doors.
“It is?” Liz looked at the closed door, a twinge of sadness twitching in her chest.
“He doesn’t live there anymore. He lives in heaven now. With the cows and the angels.”
”Oh,” Liz couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“But Uncle Max has let me bworrow Josh’s teddybears. But not all. Just some.”
”Do you remember Josh?” Liz asked.
“No,” Michelle answered. “But he lived here. Before. When Michelle was a little baby. He didn’t only visit, like me, he stayed here all the time.”
Michelle’s eyes grew wide with the unbelievable aspects of that.
“Have you ever been in his room?” Liz asked, when Michelle opened the door to another room.
“No,” Michelle answered, “It’s locked. I’s can’t go in.”
Liz nodded, her gaze lingering at the closed door.
“C’mere.” Michelle tugged on their joined hands and Liz stepped into the small room. It was a typical girl room and if Liz hadn’t known better she could actually have believed that Michelle always lived there. It didn’t have the sense of being only a “guestroom”. It was completely furnished with a small bed and a small table with four small chairs, where four different teddy bears were sitting. There were pink curtains in the window and the wallpapers were white with small pink flowers.

Michelle gave her the grand tour, introducing her to her blue teddy rabbit, a teddy bear without an ear, her doll Lucy, one red and one green mouse. Everyone had their own name, even the plants in the window.
“That’s Thornman,” Michelle pointed at the cactus in the window, before quickly moving on to point at the small dog in porcelain, “And that’s Blacky. He is guawding Thornman. Because Thornman is magic.”
”Really?” Liz asked interested. “What can he do?”
“He pwotects the pwincess,” Michelle answered matter-of-factly.
Liz smiled. “Aha, the princess.”
“Dose,” Michelle pointed at the thorns, “is magic, and bad men wants them.”
”What can you do if you have one of those thorns?” Liz questioned.
“You get three wishes and you can decide a lot of fings,” Michelle explained carefully.
“Oh okay, I see,” Liz whispered, her eyes going wide with wonder.
Michelle giggled. “You funny!”

There was a knock behind them and they turned around, finding Max leaning against the doorframe. Liz could feel her heart speeding up at the sight and she dropped her head to hide the colorful blush that was rising on her cheeks.
“Have you shown her everything, Michelle?” he asked.
“Yep,” Michelle said and nodded proudly. “Eeeeevifing!”
“I bet you are really hungry now then,” Max said, stealing a glance in Liz’s direction. His heart fluttered in reaction to the sight of her and he had to tear his eyes away to refocus on Michelle.
“Can’t we play first?” Michelle pleaded.
“We can play after we’ve eaten,” Max said.
Michelle pouted and looked at Liz for assistance. Holding up her index finger Michelle said seriously, “Just one hour.”
Liz laughed softly and brushed some errand strands of blonde hair back from Michelle’s forehead. “An hour is a really long time.”
“A minute then,” Michelle negotiated.
“We can play much longer if we go and eat first,” Liz tried.
“It’s only a minute,” Max said, beginning to cave.
“Yay!!” Michelle exclaimed, starting to bounce up and down, since she knew that she had already won the argument.

Liz just smiled and shook her head. Max gave her a helpless what-can-I-do shrug and started to walk into the room. When he passed Liz, she whispered to him, so close that he could feel the warmth of her breath against his ear. “Sucker!”
“It’s only for a minute,” Max tried to defend himself.
“Right,” Liz smiled. She might not have been around children that much, but she just had to rely on common sense to know that they wouldn’t only play for a minute.

“Let’s play house,” Michelle dictated, starting to rearrange among the teddy bears. Some ended up on the floor and others on the bed.
“You can sit there,” Michelle pointed out the seats for Liz and Max.
Liz laughed quietly when Max gave her an uncomfortable look before doing his best to sit down on the miniscule wooden chairs. Liz was a little bit smaller so it didn’t prove to be as problematic to her as it was for Max.
“You are mommy and you are daddy,” Michelle said.
Liz could feel Max’s eyes on her when she smiled at the little girl. “And what are you going to be?”
“Pwincess,” Michelle answered, like it was the most well-known fact in the world.
“But then we should be king and queen instead,” Max said.
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you,” Liz teased.
Max looked at her, surprised by the flirtatious tone of her voice.
“’Kay,” Michelle agreed, ignorant to the exchange going on between Max and Liz. She started to arrange cups and plates on the table.
“We’s having tea,” Michelle explained, pouring imaginary tea into Liz and Max’s cups. Liz had to bit her lips to prevent the bubbling laughter inside of her from erupting. The mixture of Max’s slightly embarrassed shifting and Michelle’s bossy attitude was just too funny.
Liz pushed her cup closer to Michelle to help the little girl hit the cup with the invisible liquid. “Thank you,” she said with British accent, easily getting into the role.

Michelle giggled and barely had time to put down the pot before she was off, running to the other side of the room. Max and Liz watched her amused as she searched through the drawers in the bookstand. Picking out a piece of scissors she pulled out a drawing paper and started to cut the paper into small pieces. Max asked her to be careful at least four times during the minute she was cutting the paper. In a swirl of air she ran back to the table and placed small pieces of paper on Liz and Max’s plates.
“Cookies,” she said.
“Thank you,” Max and Liz said in unison and shared a private smile.

“And now the king is gonna work,” Michelle said after they had spent a couple of seconds “eating” the cookies. Eating constituted in holding the paper against their lips, hiding it in their hands and pretending to chew, and then place the pieces under the plates.
“Okay,” Max said and started to rise from the chair.
“And you have to kiss,” Michelle said.
Max froze, the air in his lungs stopped to flow. His eyes fell on Liz and quickly traveled to her partly parted lips. He could see the surprise that he knew was matching his on her face.
“Wh-what do you mean, Michelle?” Max stuttered.
Michelle sighed dramatically at Max’s obvious ignorance. “You’s mawied. Daddy kisses mommy aaaaalll the time. And they’s mawied.”
“Okay,” Max said, not quite knowing what else to say. He shifted his eyes to slowly look at Liz. She was looking down at the table and he smiled mentally when he noticed how she was once again turning the ring around her pinkie, a typical sign that she was nervous.
“Hurry,” Michelle said. “The king has a lot to do twoday. He has to start early.”
Max’s heart sped up when he watched Liz lick her lips before she lifted her head to look him directly in the eyes. Taking a deep breath, she said, “Well, let’s give the girl what she wants.”

She gave him a nervous smile, a smile that made his heart soar with wonder and excitement.
“Yes, we probably should,” he said, looking pretty nervous himself.
Michelle was looking at them in impatience. For her it was a simple game, for Max and Liz it was anything but.
Max swallowed and then leaned over the table. Liz smiled self-consciously before rising. Her eyes were focused on his lips and she didn’t think she had ever been this nervous before. A chill of pleasure ran down her spine when one of Max’s hands softly cradled her cheek. She could feel the racing of her heart in her chest and she was having difficulties to breathe. But it was a wonderful feeling; a feeling of excitement and anticipation. Her suddenly highly sensitive skin could feel every millimeter of the small circles Max’s thumb was making against her cheek, unconsciously calming her down. Then he leaned closer, his fingers moving further back around her head, burying them into her hair and gently pushing her head closer.

It felt like time stood still, but after what seemed like an eternity, his lips softly touched hers. Her body trembled at the contact. His lips were soft and his touch gentle. If she had been able to think the kiss probably would’ve reminded her of her very first kiss when she had been six. The tentativeness was the same, but certainty of the kiss was very different. Compared to the six-year-old on the playground Max knew what he was doing.

She pressed her lips harder against his, opening her mouth slightly, the taste of him intoxicating her. By its own free will her hand moved into his hair, trying to make him come closer. Closer than possible.
“Hello? Hello? Heeeelllloooo? King must go to work!”
Partly, Michelle’s voice, in true Isabel spirit, drifted through the cocoon they had formed around them. Max pulled back, his eyes slowly opening, his breath ragged, the softness of her lips forever imprinted in his mind. His eyes met her warm and dark eyes. She was looking at him in awe, her chest heaving up and down with the inability to breathe properly after the sensory overload. His hand slowly left her cheek, his fingers lingering along her skin as he pulled back, the feathery touch sending sparkles of electricity into her.
“You should go,” Liz said breathlessly, looking into his eyes intently. She couldn’t stop looking at him.
“Yes,” Max breathed.
“Now Liz is gonna pway with Michelle,” Michelle announced.
Liz took a deep breath and self-consciously brushed her hair away from her face. “Uhm, maybe we should go and eat now, Michelle.”
Michelle’s expression fell and the familiar pout settled over her rosy lips. “Do we have to?”
Liz looked up at Max, who had stopped by the door. He was looking at her intently and the look he was giving her was enough to make her legs go weak. She didn’t think she would be able to stand up.

Clearing her throat, she said, “Max and I haven’t eaten anything yet. We are hungry.”
She looked up at Max to have him confirm it and the air once again hitched in her throat, but this time for a completely different reason than when he had been leaning forward towards her only a minute ago. There was a difference in his eyes. When her eyes met his, he looked away, avoiding her gaze. Her lips were still tingling from his touch, but she knew with a painful certainty, just by watching him now, that something had gone terribly wrong.
“Uncle Max?” Michelle asked next to her, when Liz found herself without her voice. Liz couldn’t stop looking at him. The sudden coldness now surrounding his body was so tangible that goose bumps were forming on her bare arms.
Max looked up then and looked straight at Liz. But he could as well have been keeping his eyes closed. There really was no one looking. Max wasn’t there anymore. His eyes were dead. He turned his eyes to Michelle and smiled, but even though he could fool a five-year-old there was nothing real about that smile.

“Liz is right, Michelle. We should get something to eat.”
For some reason, Michelle didn’t object. It has often been claimed that children, as well as animals, have some kind of sixth sense, enabling them to feel emotions in another way. Something stopped Michelle from protesting, like she felt that it would be a really bad idea.
“Okay,” she mumbled and started for the door.
Liz slowly started to walk towards the door, her eyes traveling over Max’s tense form as he was waiting in the door frame, his eyes locked on Michelle. He ruffled Michelle’s hair when she passed, eliciting a giggle from her.
“Max?” Her voice couldn’t hide the trembles coursing through her. Fear.
Max looked up at her, his face blank and emotionless. “Yeah?”
“What just-“
Max dropped his eyes and shook his head, forcing himself to smile, as he interrupted her, “Michelle sure has some weird ideas sometimes.”
Liz looked at him closely, feeling her heart dropping further and further down in her stomach. “I’m sorry if-“
Max looked up at her again and she swallowed. She was standing so close that she could feel his breath on her face, but it felt as if he was miles away, on the other side of the world. “Let’s get something to eat.”
Her hand moved, without her being able to stop it, and dropped on his arm. He froze at the touch, fixing his eyes on the point where her hand was touching the bare skin of his arm. His eyes drifted close and he tried to fight the feelings her touch stirred inside of him.
“I just want you to know that…that I don’t expect anything from you, Max. I won’t…” He didn’t hear her deep intake of air to calm herself down. His attention was still focused on the part of his arm where they were physically linked. “I won’t pressure you.”

”It was just a game,” Max whispered and looked up. Her eyes were big and concerned, the emotions he saw there, emotions for him, were so real that he had to avert his eyes again. “We were just playing,” he emphasized. “We were just playing.”
Something broke inside of Liz. She could feel it in her chest, like a sharp pain. It was like nothing she had ever felt before. But she knew what it was. Hope. Her hope was falling apart, one big part just plummeting down her stomach. Hope about a new chance of life. She felt nauseous. She wanted to get out of there. She felt the instinctive need to protect herself from getting hurt.
“Yeah,” she whispered, swallowing back hot tears, “It was just a game.” The kiss didn’t mean anything. It didn’t mean anything to Max. To her, it had been the most powerful moment of her life. She would never forget it.
“I think…” She swallowed. “I think that I have to go. I shouldn’t disturb you anymore.”
She needed to get out of here. Maybe she was being ridiculous. It had only been a game. But she couldn’t stop the suffocating feelings from drowning her. She needed air.
“Okay,” Max said softly. One part of him wanted to prevent her from leaving, but the other part was stronger. He couldn’t have her here any longer. He couldn’t control himself around her.
Liz tried to get past him. “I’m just gonna…”
He stepped away from the doorway to give her room. “Sure.”
He watched her as she disappeared down the hall, towards the guestroom, and he took a deep breath. But it didn’t help. It didn’t help him to get the air more easily into his lungs. The solution to the pain spreading inside of him was easy and automatic, after years of practicing it. With a final look down the hall, watching her disappear into the room, he turned his head towards the stairs and pushed it all to the back of his head. He mentally started to bury his heart again. The sand of denial quickly covered the feelings Liz Parker had started to dig up.

Unbreakable (M/L, AU)
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Post by max and liz believer » Fri Mar 05, 2004 12:45 am

Helloo people!!

Okay, I'm gonna make this short since otherwise I'm gonna miss the bus for sure :roll:

Ms Yu - Hi!! Welcome to this fic!! :D :D
Nora - Hi Nora! I've missed you. I'm so happy to see you here again. I'm gonna respond to your e-mail when I get home from my all-very-necessary-stuff shopping trip. I'm so far behind on your story... :oops:

And everyone else: Sorry for not responding to you personally, but I don't have time now and I really wanted to give you the next update. But even though I don't respond to you personally doesn't mean that I don't appreciate your feedback, because I do. More than I can say. Thank you soo much for the feedback!!!!!!!!

End of chapter 25...

“I think…” She swallowed. “I think that I have to go. I shouldn’t disturb you anymore.”
She needed to get out of here. Maybe she was being ridiculous. It had only been a game. But she couldn’t stop the suffocating feelings from drowning her. She needed air.
“Okay,” Max said softly. One part of him wanted to prevent her from leaving, but the other part was stronger. He couldn’t have her here any longer. He couldn’t control himself around her.
Liz tried to get past him. “I’m just gonna…”
He stepped away from the doorway to give her room. “Sure.”
He watched her as she disappeared down the hall, towards the guestroom, and he took a deep breath. But it didn’t help. It didn’t help him to get the air more easily into his lungs. The solution to the pain spreading inside of him was easy and automatic, after years of practicing it. With a final look down the hall, watching her disappear into the room, he turned his head towards the stairs and pushed it all to the back of his head. He mentally started to bury his heart again. The sand of denial quickly covered the feelings Liz Parker had started to dig up.

Chapter 26

When he reached the first floor, there was nothing inside of him. Just a big aching black hole. As it had been for the last two years. Detached, he moved towards the kitchen, his body coming to an abrupt halt when his downward eyes spotted the white substance on the kitchen floor. His eyes slowly followed the trail of white to the small shoe, occupied by a white-stocking clad foot. His eyes traveled further over the little girl sitting on the floor and he took a step further into the room, slowly taking it all in.

Michelle was sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, flour covering both her and a large part of the floor. In front of her, between her outstretched legs in the shape of a V, floated a mixture of something. His eyes took in the broken egg shells next to Michelle and the yellowish tinge of the floating goo.
“Michelle,” Max said slowly, getting her attention. “What are you doing?”
“Baking,” Michelle answered, like it was the most natural thing in the world to bake on the floor, without a bowl and with a big wooden spoon.
“Really? And what are you baking?”
“A cake,” Michelle said, beaming with self-pride.
Max rubbed his forehead tiredly. “Aha, that’s what you’re doing.”
A soft sound to his left made him turn his head, finding Liz walking towards him.
She looked at him with uncertainty. “Uhm… I…” Her eyes absently flickered to her left and widened when she saw the mess. She looked up at Max in question, not knowing quite how to react.
“Michelle is baking,” Max explained.
Liz tried to read his reaction, but it would’ve been easier to figure out what a wall was thinking. “Oh.”
“Uncle Max is having a guest, we need cake,” Michelle said.
Liz focused on Michelle and smiled a little guiltily. “That’s so sweet of you, Michelle. But I have to go.”
The lost expression on Michelle’s face was heartbreaking to see and confused she looked at her uncle.
“Liz not staying?”
“I’m afraid not,” Max said, “We’ll just have to spend the day without her today.”
“She’s leaving?” Michelle asked again, her face crumbling. The little girl was trying to fight her tears. She wanted so badly to be a big girl and not cry. But she really wanted Liz to stay. She had thought that Liz would stay.

Liz had never felt as guilty as she felt right then, but she felt that Max didn’t want her there any longer. Maybe not even Michelle should be there. On another thought, maybe she should because Liz was afraid what would happen if Max was alone. There was something very unsettling about him. For as long, or brief, as she had known him, he had never treated Michelle with the tiredness he was treating her with now. He had always been incredibly patient. Looking at him now, his eyes moving over the mess on his kitchen floor, she thought he might just fall apart right there.
Liz got down on her knees in the doorway and motioned for Michelle to come over. “Come here, sweetie.”
Michelle bit her lip thoughtfully, before fumbling to her feet and walking towards Liz. The little girl was completely white on the front, the flour mixed up with some egg white and yolk, but Liz didn’t care about that. She put her arms out for the little girl. The least she could do was to give the girl a hug. Michelle crawled into Liz’s lap and put her small hands around Liz’s waist, as far as they would go.
“I just have some other things to do today, okay?” Liz said, stroking Michelle’s blonde hair.
Michelle nodded reluctantly. “Gown up dings?”
Liz smiled sadly. “Yeah, grown up things.”
“’K,” Michelle agreed and lifted her head from Liz’s chest.
Liz gave her a comforting smile and smoothed away the hair from her face. “I’ll see you later, okay?”
Michelle nodded with a somber expression on her face.
Liz inhaled deeply, lifting Michelle off her lap, and started to rise. “Okay.”
She glanced at Max briefly, registering his closed off expression, before dropping her eyes to a safer target. Michelle.
“I’m just gonna… go then,” she said slowly, feeling Max’s eyes burning into her, even though she pretended that she didn’t notice.
“Yeah,” Max answered. “Bye, Liz.”
The way he said her name made her heart sting. Her name rolled over his lips with such bittersweet ambrosia that it ached inside of her with confusion and grief.
With one final look his way, and a weak smile in Michelle’s direction, Liz turned around and started to walk towards the front door, feeling like something had been taken away from her. Something that was never really hers to begin with.


Maria’s surprise to see her best friend outside her door couldn’t be mistaken. But the main shock came from the look on Liz’s face.
“Hi Maria,” Liz said weakly, “Can I come in?”
Maria frowned. “What happened?”
Liz brushed past Maria, inviting herself in, and started to take off her jacket. “Nothing. Nothing.”
”Okay,” Maria said slowly, “You really have to start working on getting better at lying, girlfriend, because this really isn’t working.”
Ignoring Maria’s reply, Liz started to take off her boots. “Is Michael home?”
“And the pretending-that-it’s-raining attitude is a total giveaway, Liz,” Maria said. She spotted the small suitcase behind Liz. “Moving in?”
“Yeah.” Liz straightened up and brushed an errand strand of dark hair out of her eyes. “Is that okay? Could I stay here for a while? I promise I’ll start looking for an apartment first thing tomorrow.”
“Deal,” Maria agreed and Liz smiled gratefully. “But…”
Maria watched the smile starting to slip off Liz’s face as she continued, “Only on one condition. You have to tell me what happened. You look like…your best friend just died.”
“That’s not too far away from the truth,” Liz mumbled. She took a hold of the suitcase and started to drag it over the floor, pass Maria.

Maria watched Liz sink down in the sofa and put her hands on her hips, looking at her friend sternly. “So what did he do?”
“Nothing, nothing,” Liz said, her whole being sighing with bone deep fatigue.
“There it was again. Liz, you got to know by now that you won’t fool me at all by saying ‘Nothing, nothing’ over and over again. Something obviously happened. I thought you and Max were getting really cozy over at his place. So what’s with the long face?”
Liz opened her mouth to protest, but nothing came out. Instead she took a deep breath, trying to stop what she knew would happen from actually happening. But the feelings were too intense. Her dreams were shattered, hanging on with burning, stinging strings.
She could feel the familiar burning in her eyes. Her eyes felt hot and the back of her throat burned. The first, lonesome tear slowly left the safety of the eye and started its slow descent down her cheek.
“Liz?” Maria asked worriedly. She hadn’t seen Liz cry in ages. She had talked with Liz over the phone while she was crying, but that was not the same thing. Liz was strong and she rarely let anyone actually see her cry.
Liz’s face crumbled and she buried her face in her hands. Maria stared at her for a fraction of a second, momentarily frozen to the spot, before reacting. Quickly, she sat down next to Liz and put her arms around her. Liz turned in her arms, letting her tired head drop on Maria’s shoulder.
“Shh… Shh… It’s okay, Lizzie,” Maria soothed, stroking Liz’s hair. “Whatever he did, we’ll work it out.”
”He didn’t… he didn’t…do any…anything,” Liz sobbed.
“Honey, you wouldn’t be in tears if he hadn’t done something. He must have done something.”
Liz sniffled and lifted her head from Maria’s shoulder, brushing the tears away from her cheeks with frustrated movements.

“Michelle was there,” Liz said, sniffling.
”And she wanted us to play this game.”
”Just…just normal playing.”
”Aha. And you were…?”
”The queen.”
”Aha. I thought it was mom, dad and child.”
”Max was the king.”
“Michelle the princess.”
”The king was apparently leaving for work and Michelle wanted us to kiss goodbye.”
”Kiss goodbye…? Like on the cheek…right?”
“Uhm…not really.”
”I think this is where it went totally wrong.”
”So, okay, you just skipped the kiss. What happened? So he kissed you right? Or you kissed him? You kissed each other. Well, something like that.”
”We kissed.”
Liz’s head fell back against the sofa, a sigh passing over her lips. Maria wasn’t sure if it was a sigh of pleasure or regret.
“It was… I’ve never felt anything like it before, Ria.”
“That’s a good thing right?”
Liz smiled sadly at the ceiling. “Yeah, that’s a very good thing.”
“And he didn’t think so?”
Liz swallowed deeply. “I thought he did, but I guess…”

“So details, babe. What happened?”
“There’s really not much to tell,” Liz said evasively. “We kissed and it was…great. And then he just… closed off.”
”How do you mean?” Maria asked, looking at Liz’s compassionately.
“I don’t know if he realized what had happened and that’s why-“
”But why did he close off at all?” It didn’t make any sense to Maria. She had seen the sparks between Max and Liz. Isabel had seen them. Even Michael had seen them. Why wouldn’t it work?
“His wife…”
“She’s dead, Liz,” Maria said, pointing out the obvious.
“Not to him,” Liz answered. “It’s almost like I can feel her looking over his shoulder. I almost feel like I’m doing something wrong.”
”This is bad,” Maria mumbled.
Liz grimaced. The story of her life. “Yeah.”
“Did you guys talk about it?”
Liz looked at her like she had gone insane. “What was I supposed to say? That I felt like I was tempting him to cheat on his dead wife?”
Maria scrunched her nose. “Maybe a little more discreet than that…”
Liz let out a frustrated groan and raked her hands over her face. “God! Why can’t life just give me a break sometime? Why do I have to fell in love with the most complicated guy out…”
Her voice trailed off as she saw Maria’s smile.

Maria silently raised one eye-brow and gave Liz a pointed look. Liz opened her mouth to ask again, when she backpedaled what she had just said. Maria’s grin widened when Liz closed her eyes and her head fell back against the couch.
“So, love, huh?” Maria asked. It was taking all of her strength to control herself. What she really wanted to do was to squeal and drag Liz up from the floor and dance around.
“Did I really say that?” Liz mumbled behind the hands now covering her face.
“You’ve never said that before,” Maria said.
Liz inhaled deeply. “What should I do?”
“Don’t sound so miserable. You’re in love, Liz. For the first time in your life. You should be happy.”
”I should. But it’s so hard. It doesn’t help the situation any that I just realized that I’m… that I’m… That I have certain feelings for him. He still told me to get out of there.”
Maria’s eyes widened in appalled disbelief. “He said that?”
“No, not really. He just… I couldn’t stay there anymore. I could just feel the mood changing and it was suffocating me. I had to get out of there. And he didn’t stop me.”
“Oh-kay. This really is difficult.”
Liz rose from the couch. “I think I’m going to deal with this later.”
Maria stared at her. “Don’t push it away. You have to deal with this, Liz. You have to talk to him. You can’t just end it like this.”
“I know. Believe me; I don’t want it to end this way.” If it was up to her, she didn’t want it to end at all. “I just can’t think straight now. I need to… do something else.”
Maria rose from the couch and pulled Liz into a hug. “Okay, girlfriend. Just don’t bury it. You have to deal with it.”
”Later,” Liz promised.
“Yeah. I’ll be here if you need me.”
Liz pulled out of the hug and smiled weakly. “Thanks.”

Unbreakable (M/L, AU)
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Post by max and liz believer » Mon Mar 08, 2004 4:44 am

Hi everyone!

frenchkiss70, Tanya, LTL, Eve, Stef, Alien614, Lelle, AznGurl87, roswelluver, Ms Yu, cherie, mareli, Nora, Itzstacie (Don’t worry, you have left feedback before. I’m just so happy that you are still returning... :D)


And I want to thank each and every one of you who have nominated this story, or any of the characters, for the fanfic awards. Thank you so much!! :D :D :D

Elizabeth, darling, thank you so much for editing!!

Now... Let’s move on...

Chapter 27

“She’s beautiful.”
He turned around towards the voice and his heart started to pound wildly in his chest at the sight of her leaning against the doorframe. What scared him, though, wasn’t that he was able to see his dead wife, but that he didn’t rejoice over the fact like he used to. Her sudden presence just made the guilt intensify.
“Who is?” he asked tentatively.
Tess walked into the bedroom and sat down on the edge of the bed. “Liz Parker.”
Max didn’t answer. A part of him was trying really hard to make the image of Tess disappear. Before, he cherished those moments, but today he knew with a sudden clarity that he shouldn’t be able to see her and that it wasn’t healthy.
Tess raised one eyebrow. “You want me to leave?”
“You’re not real,” Max murmured.
“Oh,” Tess said, fingering on the quilt of the bed. “So… I’m not that important anymore? You are just going to forget me now?”
”You’re dead,” Max whispered, his heart aching just to pronounce the word that held such finality.
“Not as long as you keep me alive,” Tess answered.
“You’re only inside my head,” Max mumbled. “You’re only inside my head.”
“You can’t escape your own mind, Max. Either you let me go or I’ll stay. You can’t have it both ways.”

Max looked up at her and stared at her face. That face was so familiar to him. He still remembered how the blonde curls felt against his fingers. He could still remember what her lips tasted like, the taste of her skin, how she smelled… But that was all just memories. He couldn’t touch her now. He couldn’t kiss her. He couldn’t pull her into his arms and bury his nose into her hair. He couldn’t even smell that familiar scent surrounding her.
“Do you know what day it is tomorrow?” Tess asked.
How could he forget? He had tried so hard to ignore it. But in his line of profession, being a teacher, it was inevitable not to keep track of dates.
“Yes,” he whispered.
“He’s a big boy now,” Tess smiled. “Four years old.”
Max nodded slowly, bending his head. He couldn’t look at her. The guilt was driving him crazy. He could feel her eyes on him and he closed his eyes and tried to force the image of her out of his mind.
“You’re in love with her,” Tess said.
Max eyes opened wide and his head snapped up to look at Tess. She had the same calm appearance as she’d had for the last two years.
“No,” he said.
She smiled. “You’re in denial, Max. You always did wear your heart on your sleeve and I know you. I know your heart, Max. Even if you don’t recognize it anymore, it’s still a part of you.”
Max didn’t answer. He knew that she was telling the truth.
“Time’s running out, Max. It’s her or me. You have to make a decision. Soon.”
Tess rose from the bed and walked up to Max, standing so close to him that he should’ve been able to feel her breath against his face. But he didn’t. She didn’t have a breath.
“Just remember who your soul mate is. No one can ever love you like I love you.”
And with that she slowly disappeared.

He had to make a choice. If he chose Liz, he chose life. If he chose Tess, he chose death. The problem was, he might have already scared Liz away for good.

The musical score of a cell phone cut through the silence and confused he turned his head towards the sound. His cell phone didn’t sound like that. Frowning, he walked out of the bedroom and started to walk down the hall in search of the source to the sound.


“How are you feeling?”
Liz lowered her head under Maria’s sympathetic eyes. She couldn’t stand them. “Better.”
She took out a box of juice from the fridge and searched for a glass in the cabinet.
“You sure?”
Liz poured juice into the glass and answered lightly, “Mhmm.”
“Have you gotten over the shock yet?”
Liz looked up and met Maria’s eyes with confusion. “What shock?”
Maria put down her tea cup and raised an eyebrow suggestively. “Of figuring out that you are in love with him. It took you long enough, if I might say so. I saw the potential right from the beginning, at that dinner at Isabel’s.
At the mention of Isabel, Liz’s eyes darkened and she soundlessly lowered her eyes again and started to sip on her juice.
“What?” Liz countered, nonchalantly picking up the morning paper, pretending to be instantly captivated by the headlines displayed there.
“What’s with the look?”
Liz sifted through the papers, with a face like stone. “What look?”
“The look you just had.”
“I didn’t have a look.”
”Would you look at me when I’m talking to you?” Maria demanded, with a touch of anger in her voice.

Liz sighed and looked up, giving Maria a clear okay-what-do-you-want look.
“Did something else happen?”
“What would that be?” Liz retorted.
“You tell me.”
Maria was staring her down and it was starting to make Liz uncomfortable. She wasn’t used to lying and to suddenly have to lie this much was making her really uneasy.
With a frustrated moan, Maria covered her face with her hands and mumbled through her fingers. “God, this is like a bad soap opera. How much has happened that I don’t know about?”
“You don’t need to know everything about my life,” Liz said, with the touch of a smile in her voice. “A girl needs to keep some secrets to herself.”
Maria removed her hands, revealing stern eyes. “Liz! This is serious! I want to be able to help you, to support you, but how am I going to do that if-“
Her voice was cut of by the ringing of the phone.
“Uhm…” Maria hesitated. She really wanted to talk to Liz about this. She felt as if she was onto something here. Pointing a warning finger at her, she rose from her seat. “I’m not through with you.”
Liz just rolled her eyes in reply and picked up the paper again.
Maria shook her head in near resignation and picked up the phone.
“Hello? Max? What…”

Liz’s interest was peaked when she heard that name. His name. She tried to pretend that she was really reading but it was difficult to concentrate on keeping up a charade when she was trying to figure out what Max was saying at the other end of the line.
“Well, Max. I have a question for you. What the hell did you do to Liz?!”
Liz groaned and placed her head on the table surface. So much for being subtle.
“No…okay…yeah… But only for this time. You just… Max, just know that this isn’t just about you. You’re hurting Liz in the process. Right… Fine… Okay… Yeah, I’ll tell her. Right. Sure. Bye.”
Liz looked up at Maria as she turned towards her after hanging up the phone.
“Max,” Maria said simply.
“Yeah, I got that.”
“Apparently, you forgot your cell phone at his place and he said that you could come by and pick it up. If you wanted to.”
Liz opened her mouth to answer, but Maria beat her to it. “But I really think that I should get it instead, since I don’t think that he is that good for-“
”It sounded completely different yesterday,” Liz said, “Then you wanted me to talk to him.”
“I still think you should talk to him, but maybe it’s too soon.”
”There’s no better time than the present,” Liz said with a weak smile.
Maria sighed. “Right. But I still think…”
”I really need to talk to him,” Liz interrupted. “And this is as good of an opportunity as any.”
“Uhm…yeah,” Maria said.

Liz rose from the chair and put the glass in the sink. “I guess I should go then.”
”Already?” Maria asked surprised.


“…are warning about extremely strong winds. It is recommended that people stay inside…”
Max didn’t register what was being said on the TV as he walked into the kitchen to, once again, rummage through the refrigerator. He felt jumpy and restless. Liz might not be coming over until later that night or not even today, which would mean that he would be going around being nervous all that time. He didn’t even know why he was being this jumpy. He wasn’t sure what had changed, but it felt like something had changed, changed on the inside.

“…has already caused a number of serious accidents…”
Max closed the door to the refrigerator, once again reaching the conclusion that there was nothing in there that would still his confusing emotions. He exited the kitchen area and walked into his office and switched on the laptop, hoping that some schoolwork could get his mind off Liz.


“Maria! I’m leaving now!”
Liz bent down to put on her shoes and straightened up, picking up her purse in the process.
“Okay!” Maria’s muffled reply was coming from the other side of the house. “Drive safely! There’s a storm coming.”
But Liz didn’t hear those last words. She was already out the door.


Max went back into the living room, passing the TV on his way. He finally noticed that it was on. The woman’s voice on the news reached his ears and he walked up to the TV table, picking up the remote control and turning up the volume.
“…already mentioned, there have been several accidents. Some were caused by trees falling over the road, but the majority are car accidents and elderly people falling in the strong wind. Residents are advised to shut all windows.”
The TV-hostess quieted and she put her hand against her ear, listening to something being said in the ear-shell.
“Okay. This just came in. There has been a serious collision between a car and a bus.”
Max slowly sat down on the end of the couch, his eyes fixed on the TV-screen, as images of the car crash was being displayed on the TV.
“The collision was so violent that the car went straight off the road, spinning around several times before landing upside down. There was only one passenger in the car, a young woman, and according to our knowledge, she is alive, but unconscious. Rescue teams are trying to free her from the car.”
Max wasn’t really listening anymore. He was staring at the images. They didn’t show much, and they were already back to filming the TV-hostess, but Max had seen enough in those short snaps of images to have a strong fear spread inside of him. His hands were shaking as he rose from the couch, picking up the phone. With trembling fingers he dialed Maria’s number. The car in the news had been red, the same color as Maria’s. It had been a Toyota, the same as Maria’s. The camera had quickly swept over a road sign, showing that the accident had happened on the road Liz would take to get to him. Liz would borrow Maria’s car. The short glimpse of the girl hanging upside down in the car in her seatbelt was enough to have Liz’s face flash in front of his eyes.

With shaking hands he picked up the telephone and hit the re-dial button.
“Is Liz there?” His voice was trembling, barely able to get the words out.
“Who is this?”
“Did she leave already?”
“Max? Is that you?”
Just then there was a knock on the door. Without really knowing what he was doing, Max put the receiver down, his eyes fixed on the front door, disconnecting the call.
He quickly started to walk towards the front door, so quickly that he stumbled over the end of the carpet. But he didn’t notice. With the sound of his heart violently thudding in his ears he swung the door open.
That was all she got out before Max pulled her into the house. Before she could understand what was happening, Max was running his hands over the sides of her face, down her body, his eyes frantic and concerned. Frightened.

She could feel how her own heart was increasing in speed with every upset movement he was making. She could feel the fear and panic radiate from the tips of his fingers as they moved over her.
“Are you okay?” he asked breathlessly, his voice trembling.
“Yes,” Liz answered, confused.
Max’s eyes finally met hers and she involuntarily swallowed. She had never seen such raw emotions in anyone’s eyes before, as the ones she saw in his in that moment. His grip on her upper arms was tight, almost painful.
“You sure?”
“Max, what…”
“Nothing happened?” Max interrupted, his hands now cradling her face, his eyes flicking over her face as if he was trying to prove to himself that she was there.
“Nothing has happened,” Liz answered, trying to keep her voice calm. Whatever had happened, the last thing Max needed now was for her to freak out as well, even though it was tempting.
Max took a deep breath and stepped back, his hands reluctantly lingering against her skin before pulling back. “Okay…okay…”
”Max? What’s wrong?”
His lowered his head and slowly rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. “Nothing. Nothing’s wrong. I just…”
He looked up again. “Are you sure that you are okay?”
Liz nodded. “Yes.”
“Okay,” he said again. “I think… I think I need to sit down.”

He staggered backwards into the kitchen. Liz quickly scrambled out of her jacket and followed him, putting a supportive hand on his arm, afraid that he would fall before he had the chance to sit down.
“Max?” Something had obviously happened to put that haunted look in his eyes. “You want to talk about it?”
He shook his head as he lowered himself on one of the kitchen chairs.
“Okay…” She looked at him for a while, but as the seconds passed, she could feel him getting uncomfortable under the scrutiny of her looks, so she took a deep breath. “Uhm…maybe I should just take my cell phone and go ba-“
His outburst was so sudden that she actually jumped, startled by the intensity of his voice.
“I mean,” Max’s voice lowered, noticing how he had scared her, “It’s… there’s a storm coming.”
Liz nodded absently, her whole attention caught by his eyes as they looked at her worriedly.
“You shouldn’t be out driving now. There’s…Something can happen.”
“Max… I can make it home. It can’t be that bad. Besides I can’t stay here anymore. It wouldn’t be-“
”I wouldn’t mind,” Max interrupted.
Liz looked at him in surprise. “You wouldn’t?”

Shakily, he rose from the chair, his height towering up over her. But it didn’t intimidate her. She felt protected in his presence. Like he could protect her against anything.
“No,” he answered. After some hesitation, he put his hand on her arm, a touch that made her eyes drift close and she swallowed to hide how her whole body reacted to the contact. “I don’t want you driving in that storm, Liz. It can be dangerous.”
As his words sunk in, she heard another voice behind her. The voice from the TV, summarizing the headlines. She looked over her shoulder at the TV, seeing quick images of what the storm had already caused in its wake. She recognized the road she had just drove on and the car lying upside down in the ditch after a collision with a bus. Suddenly it all made perfect sense to her. She turned her head back to Max. His eyes hadn’t left her face that whole time and her breath hitched in her throat when she looked into his eyes. How was he able to do that to her? How was he able to cause all of these emotions inside of her?
“You thought… The accident… You thought,” Liz stammered.
Max looked at her for a long time, before his hand came up to rest against her cheek. She instinctively leaned into his touch. He nodded in reply to her unspoken question, his eyes drawn to the smooth, perfect skin he could feel under his fingertips. The implication of what he must’ve gone through the last minutes hit her and she could do no other thing than wrap her arms around his neck and pull him towards her.
“I’m so sorry, Max,” she whispered.

At first, he was surprised by her movement. But then her scent surrounded her and the warmth of her body pressed up against his grazed the surface of his dying heart. He didn’t have the same control over his feelings whenever Liz was near and having her this close, feeling her small fingers threading through the hair at the back of his head, it was nearly impossible not to feel. His arms moved around her small waist, feeling the fragility of her body. She was so small, and he felt a newly awakened fierce need to protect her. The feeling was so strong it almost overwhelmed him. He didn’t know where these feelings came from, but they were so familiar, as big a part of him as his love for his parents. There was something about Liz that was so natural that he was starting to feel like he couldn’t exist without breathing in her scent and feeling her calming presence. He was getting increasingly dependent upon her and that made him conflicted. His heart was soaring, trying to take a hold of this opportunity to come to life again, yet at the same time it was trying to shield itself from getting hurt again.

He buried his nose in her hair, the scent of her strawberry shampoo filling his nostrils.
“You have nothing to be sorry about,” he said quietly.
“You thought it was me, didn’t you?” Liz asked. “The woman in the car accident. You thought it was me.”
She could feel him nod against her throat and his arms tighten around her.
Max’s defenses were falling apart, destroyed by the same thing that had put them up there to start with. Love. Her scent was filling him up, moving into the pores of his skin, and slowly making him addicted to her. A need was rising inside of him. A need to not only smell her, but also taste her. It was like a dehydrated man after being in the desert for days without any water. He needed her. He felt it in every part of his body. An ache so strong that it almost immobilized him.

Liz closed her eyes and let herself sink into the warmth of his embrace. She had never felt so protected before. She had never felt so safe. And there was something else there. She couldn’t define it. She didn’t have the courage to define it. But it was filling her. Filling up the voids inside of her. Making her come to life. So when she felt Max’s lips brush against the side of her neck, her heart almost stopped. She fell completely still, waiting to see what he would do next.


And I'll be back... :roll:
Unbreakable (M/L, AU)
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Post by max and liz believer » Thu Mar 11, 2004 11:55 pm

Emma, mareli, Tanya, Elle, frenchkiss70, scottie, LttleMrmade, Lelle, Kara (I’m so happy to see you here! Welcome!! :D), Anna (Did my ending upset you so much that it forced you to leave feedback twice? :wink: Well, I don’t mind :roll: lol) Ms Yu, Michelle, Melysa, liz_maria, cherie, Elizabeth

Thank you everyone – from the bottom of my heart! Without you the updates surely wouldn’t be this frequent. Although, I have to warn you that I have a lot more to do now with homework and everything, than before…

I hope you don’t find this ending as cruel as the other one (it really wasn’t a conscious intention to leave you in suspense like that :roll:), but according to Elizabeth (my beta) it really wasn’t much better… :oops:

Well, enough of my babble. Have a great weekend everyone!!


Chapter 28


His lips rested against the smooth skin of her neck. His eyes were closed as he tried to push all the feelings from the past behind him. But he would soon realize the impossibility in that task, since all the feelings that he was trying to push away, that he was feeling for Liz, were the same as those he had felt for Tess, and the feelings for Tess was too big a part of him. He was trying so hard not to think about Tess, but he couldn’t. He had only kissed one other girl before Tess and that kiss had only been experimental. He and a girl made a deal to try it out. It had meant nothing. Every real feeling he had ever had was in some way linked to Tess. Feelings that he had long tried to push away were now trying to crawl back at a fervent pace.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered against her throat. He wasn’t sure what he was sorry about. He swallowed back some of the feelings when he felt her fingers thread through his hair. He knew that he probably should let her go, but he couldn’t.
“You okay?”
“I just… I just need to hold you for a second.”
She could feel the tremors haunting his body and the need to make him feel better was so strong that she didn’t want to let him go, even if he had wanted her to.

They stood like that for several minutes; Max trying to regain control over his feelings before facing her again and Liz trying to comfort him the best she could. Her whole body sighed with disappointment when she felt him move away from her, his arms slowly unwrapping themselves from around her, brushing against the sides of her body as he pulled back. She looked up at him when he returned to her field of vision.
“I’m sorry,” he said, his eyes downcast.
Liz looked at him, her forehead wrinkled with concern. Hesitating only for the fraction of a second before moving, she gently placed her hand against his cheek and coaxed him to look into her eyes.
“Don’t apologize, Max,” she whispered softly.
He looked at her, his eyes dark in the poorly lit room.
“Don’t apologize,” Liz repeated.
“I must have… I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s okay, Max,” Liz said, giving him a weak smile for comfort. “I can never completely understand what you went through two years ago and what kind of life you have been forced to lead with those memories, but you have every right to feel what you are feeling. You shouldn’t apologize for your feelings, Max.”
Max looked at her, almost like he was trying to deduce if she was for real or not. Apologizing for his feelings had been integrated into his life for such a long time. At first those around him had accepted his grieving, but as time passed and he was expected to stop mourning, he felt forced to apologize for the fact that he hadn’t forgotten yet. Instead he had just stopped hiding his feelings altogether. It was easier that way. But it didn’t really work that well with Liz. No one had affected him the way Liz did. No one.

“I can’t…” His voice trailed off and he took a step backwards, the edge of the sofa hitting his calves and resigned he slumped into the sofa. His eyes were tracing the patterns of the carpet as his voice continued, weak and uncertain. “I can’t get…get involved with you.”
She ignored the twinge of hurt in her chest and nodded, even though he couldn’t see her. “I know.”
Her soft statement surprised him and he looked up at her. He looked so surprised that she couldn’t help but smile. “What? Did you think that I would force myself on you?”
He dropped his eyes, his face sad, and slowly shook his head. “No…”
The smile vanished from her face like flour in a storm and she fell to her knees in front of Max, looking up into his down-turned face.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it to come out that way,” she said.
Max shook his head, the lamp in the room catching the golden sparkles in his amber eyes. “It’s not you.”

Swallowing, a fruitless attempt to add moisture to her dry throat, and hesitating before slowly voicing her fears. “Do you want me to leave?”
His eyes sprang to life and his negative head movements intensified. “No, no…”
Liz caught his eyes and firmly holding his gaze she asked again, “Are you sure, Max? Because I can’t be here if I feel like I’m only hurting you.”
She held his eyes even when he put his hand against her cheek and she felt the familiar warmth at the pit of her stomach.
“You are not hurting me, Liz,” he said seriously.
The intensity of his eyes and his statement made the air thicken around her and she automatically smiled to ease the intensity. “Okay.”
“I’m just not…” he paused trying to find the right word, “ready.”
She nodded. “Thank you. For being that honest with me.”
His hand gently left her cheek, floating back to his side.
“I think we should like…talk,” Liz said.
Max frowned, tilting his head slightly to the side with an amused smile playing in the corners of his mouth. “Isn’t that what we are doing right now?”
Liz blushed. “Right. Right.” Suddenly she was nervous. Her hands were sweaty and there was the nervous warmth spreading inside her body.
“Uhm… About the heart…thing.”
His expression turned somber again and he nodded. “Yeah… We probably should.”
”Since it’s, like,” she brushed a free wisp of hair behind her ear, staring at some spot on his shirt, “really weird that I’m, like…” She took a deep breath and met his eyes with a self-conscious smile. “Sorry. I’m babbling.”
“Could you tell me what it was like?”
With the self-conscious smile turning slightly confused, she asked, “What what was like?”
“Your life. Could you tell me something about how it was like… to live with a heart disease?”

There was something about the seriousness in his plea that told her that it was very important to him to hear this. She brushed a strand of hair behind her ear, suddenly very nervous with the prospect of baring her life to him. She was suddenly very aware of what it would mean if she told him about her life. It would automatically move them to another level of intimacy and considering how he had reacted the last time they had started to get close – dangerously close – she wasn’t so sure she wanted him to know. Maybe it would be for the best if they just didn’t cross that last barrier. Giving him the facts of her life would make her even more vulnerable and it would give him more reasons to stay away, to end this, whatever it was, once and for all.
“Uhm…” She took a deep breath and Max noticed the hesitation in her eyes.
“If you don’t want to tell me you don’t have to.”
Liz started to shake her head. “No no. That’s not it. I want to tell you. It’s just…”
He nodded slowly, understanding yet not really understanding.
“It’s just that I don’t want you to… I mean, I don’t want to…”
Max’s hand over hers made her voice trail off and she looked up at him tentatively. The warmth from his hand was blazing into her skin, but still it had a calming effect on her.
“It’s just that…there’s really not much to tell.”
“Have you…told anyone about it?”
“About me possibly having…” Her voice trailed off, uncertain about actually saying her name. His wife’s name.
He nodded, oddly grateful that she hadn’t said more, but had let it stay hidden in the silence.
Liz shook her head. “No. I haven’t told anyone. I’m still having difficulties believing it myself. I mean… What are the odds really that we were to meet?”
Her last words were drowned in the loud howling of the wind swishing by the house.

The storm was coming.

“I guess I’m not returning now, am I?” Liz asked, hinting towards the noise. A flash of fear and raw panic flickered over Max’s face as he was reminded of the terror he had felt when he had thought she had been hurt. There was a brief, but burningly sharp, sting in his heart when he also remembered another accident, when his loved ones hadn’t returned.
Her concerned voice brought him back to the present.
“No, I guess not,” he answered, his voice weak and unsteady.
“Max…” she breathed, fear and worry naked in her voice as her eyes were transfixed on his hands. “You’re shaking.”
The answer was automatic, as natural to him as his next breath. “I’m fine.”
He could almost see the cog-wheels spinning in her head and with a deep-rooted fear of what her next question might be, and he hurried to guard himself. “Please don’t, Liz. I can’t talk about it.”
“I wasn’t expecting you to,” Liz answered, but even though he hadn’t known her for very long, he could sense the lie in her words. She had wanted him to talk. She wanted to ‘help’ him, like his sister had tried to for years. But no one could help him. He didn’t want to return. He didn’t want their help. He didn’t want their sympathy or their compassion.

She could sense his withdrawal even before he started to rise from the couch. Her hands automatically fell away from his thighs and she was thrown straight into a battle between her heart and mind. She felt the unrelenting need to stop him. To say something. But she couldn’t come up with anything to say.
“You shouldn’t go back now,” Max said, swaying slightly on still shaky legs.
“Okay,” Liz whispered and she felt tears sting her eyes, something that surprised her. There was a loneliness surrounding Max as he walked unsteadily into the kitchen. She found herself still on her knees in front of the couch, watching his retreating back. She didn’t know what to do to reach out to him. He was pulling away. Every time she was on the border of having him say something significant, he pulled away.
She rose, her now sore knees protesting against suddenly having to unfold, and moved towards the telephone. Picking up the receiver, which for some reason was laying outside the cradle of the phone, she dialed Maria’s number. Not many signals later, Maria picked up.
“Liz?! Oh my God! Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Liz answered, a little taken aback by Maria’s reaction.
“God, couldn’t you have called me earlier? I was freaking out here. I’ve even called Kevin, but he didn’t know where you were-“
”You know where I was,” Liz said, confused.
But Maria just continued talking, not having noticed Liz’s statement. “-and after Max’s phone call-“

”Max called you?”
“Yes, he’s the one who got me all riled up. He didn’t actually say that something had happened to you, but it was just the way he was speaking- God Liz! What happened? Are you okay?”
“I’m okay,” Liz said softly, her eyes wandering to Max’s hunched figure slowly moving around in the kitchen, “There was this accident on the news and Max thought it was me. That was why he was…”
”Calling me,” Maria filled in, understanding in her voice. “God Liz, he scared the crap out of me. I’ve never heard anyone that afraid before. Is he okay?”
Her eyes resting on Max as he opened the refrigerator door for the third time, without picking something out, and then closing it again, she whispered in response. “I don’t know. I don’t know, Maria.”

“You can never escape getting hurt, you know.”
Max swirled around towards the voice, the sound of Liz’s voice fading into the background. Tess was sitting on the edge of the kitchen table, her legs dangling over the edge, her eyes cool and indifferent. She wasn’t the same angel she used to be to him. Her appearance had changed since her last “visit”. The usually perfect blonde curls were tangled together and her usually spotless white dress had streaks of black dirt.
Taking a deep breath, Max walked up to the refrigerator and opened the door, deciding to ignore her. If he ignored her she would disappear. Right?
“You can try to forget me, but you won’t.”
His eyes drifted close against her voice and he closed the door to the refrigerator.
“She shouldn’t be here, Max. What is she doing here? This is our home. You can’t invite her here.”
Max glanced over at Liz, painful longing coursing through him as his eyes drifted over her frame.
“She doesn’t belong here.”
Max took a deep breath, his hand rubbing his forehead. “Go away,” he mumbled.
“She will only hurt you. You know that. That’s what you are afraid of. You are afraid that if you trust her with your heart, she’s going to destroy it. You’re afraid that something is going to happen to her. Am I right?”
Max looked up at Tess. His mind was being torn between wanting her to stay and wanting her to leave. But maybe the first was just automatic, after two years of wanting her to come back so much that his mind had started to conjure up the image of her, and it was easier to not let go. It was safer that way.
Tess’ beautiful features darkened with the suspicious frown on her forehead. “You are thinking about letting her in, aren’t you? Max. You can’t.”
“I know,” Max whispered.
“She might die.”
His voice was merely a croak as he whispered his agreement. “I know.”
“It’s easier to just stay here. With me… and Josh. No one can hurt you here. You’re safe here.”
Max’s eyes searched out Liz again and, with desperation, longing and fear mixed up in one glance, he nodded.
“Max? Stop that.”
The warning tone in her voice made him turn his head back to her. She hopped down from the table and started to walk towards him. His breath was starting to strain painfully in his chest as she got closer and he felt the smallest hint of repulsion. Something that he had never felt before.
“You love me,” Tess said, her face close to his. “Don’t ever forget that.”

His breath caught in his throat and he turned around, finding Liz looking at him, bewildered. He turned around quickly, but Tess was gone. Before he turned to look at Liz again, he tried to get his breathing under control and to force himself back to reality. The reality where Tess was dead and Liz was very much alive.
The fear in her voice made him turn back to her.
“Are you okay?” she asked, her fearful and worried eyes searching his face.
He nodded mutely, transfixed by her face. She was so beautiful. He could smell the soft fragrance of the soap she used, surrounding her. Without really thinking about what he was doing, his hand moved out to graze the skin of her cheek. He needed to feel the warmth of her skin. His hand drifted down her neck, to the pulse he could feel beating there. Feeling the life in her.
His eyes wandered back to her eyes, her beautiful dark eyes. He was unaware of the tears running down his cheeks, the tears that had frightened Liz. He was oblivious to the desperation and fear in his eyes, which made Liz’s heart beat faster with worry. His hand traveled back to her cheek, his other hand simultaneously moving up to her other cheek, gently capturing her face between his strong hands. Instinctively, he stepped closer to her, feeling the warmth of her body brushing against his own body. She was looking up at him wordlessly, the concern still stark and raw in her eyes. His thumbs brushed against her cheeks, causing goose bumps to spread over her skin. With one final look into her eyes, one final attempt to resist what his whole being was crying out for, he relinquished and his lips touched hers. His body sighed in relief while also tensing in guilt. Her lips were so soft, so warm, so inviting. He could feel her responding to his kiss. He felt her arms move around his waist and his body gasped with something powerful moving inside of his body and slowly starting to break holes in the hard crust around his heart. His hands tightened around her face, bringing her closer to him, his kiss growing more urgent as he tried to shut out the darkness and coldness inside of him.
“Max…” Her soft moan made his heart jerk violently in his chest and he could feel the touch of her lips over his whole body. As if she wasn’t just kissing his lips, but his entire soul. Slowly, her touch was coaxing the ashes of his insides back into solid embers.
“Max…” Her whisper was different this time, begging and worried. But he didn’t notice. His lips had left hers and were traveling down her jaw line, caressing, sucking; kissing his way over her skin.

He pushed the feelings of anxiety to the back of his head and ignored her attempts to bring him back from the physical pleasures. The tears, which he was denying, were falling on her shoulder when he pushed her sweater to the side in the search of more bare skin.
“Please, Max…”
It was the teary quality of her voice that finally reached him, but it didn’t stop his assault on her body. It didn’t remove the fear of breaking down. It spurted a response in the opposite direction. Almost roughly, his lips returned to her s, trying to crawl inside of her. Maybe it was warmer there. He wanted to move into the warmth of her soul and sleep. He just wanted to sleep. He denied her arms as they tried to push him away. At first, they were gentle, trying to guide him to take the step away on his own, but when he didn’t respond, she pushed harder.

And he lost contact.

The coldness washing over him was so deafening and smothering that he couldn’t resist it any longer. With a heart-wrenching wail his body crashed into hers, his head falling onto her shoulders, his arms forming a tight hold around her waist, his body sagging against her. Liz stumbled back against the wall; trying to support Max’s shaking body. His devastated and lonely sobs cut through her heart and she stopped trying to fight him. Her body sagged under his and they both sunk to the floor. She held him, trying to soothe the demons haunting him, without really understanding the extent of his destroyed mind. All she could do was to be there for him and maybe be able to prevent the guilt and sorrow from devouring him.


Okay, I'm off to bake a chocolate cake and then study... You need chocolate when studying - especially on a Friday afternoon... :S
Unbreakable (M/L, AU)
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max and liz believer
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Post by max and liz believer » Sat Mar 27, 2004 7:54 pm

Hi everyone!

I'm so sorry for leaving you high and dry like this :oops:. I can't thank you enough for bumping and showing your support and patience for this story. It means so much to me!! Before I post the next part, there are some words I want to say to each and everyone of you.

LTL – Yeah, you’re certainly right. Max’s breakdown is a step towards his recovery, but (unfortunately?) there’s a long way for him to go still. I think the comment you made about how Tess is “decaying” in Max’s mind is a very interesting one. That whole last post is very interesting. You really got what I was trying to say! Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

Lys – Lys, thank you so much for your beautiful feedback! You don’t know how much it means to me that you consider this little story of my one of your favorites. And you’ve posted a very good summary of what I’ve tried to do with this story. Great! :D The thing about his family not being that supportive… Isabel (to just take one example) has been very caught up in her own grieving. Maybe she needs to deal with her grieving too… Thank you so much for returning and leaving feedback!!! :D :D

Michelle – I’m glad that you noticed the change in Tess. The change has something to do with Max, since Tess isn’t real but only a figment of Max’s imagination/subconscious. It’s actually “progress” that Tess has moved into the vindictive direction. It means that the part of Max’s subconscious which represents Tess and everything that she has ever meant to him, is becoming desperate, because “it” can feel Max pulling away – letting go… Thank you so much for the feedback, Michelle!! :D :D

PhoenixFlamez – Thank you so much!! :D :D

snoopie13 – That must be the best one-word feedback an author can get – “wow”. Thank you so much!!! :D :D

Eve – That was straight to the point lol. Okay, nothing significant happened between Tess and Max to make him feel guilty. It’s just that Max feels guilty for “betraying” his love to Tess. Which he really isn’t just by loving Liz, but his thinking is a bit screwed up. Which is way he needs, as you said, therapy. You’re right, of course, about the fact that Liz shouldn’t be in a relationship with Max right now. But they can still have a relationship, right? It doesn’t have to be romantic. However, :? We both know that it’s never that simple when it comes to Max and Liz. Thank you so much for your engaged reading and analysis!! And for leaving feedback of course! :D :D :D

Emma – Hi girlfriend! Yep, you’re right. Max should’ve sought professional help for his problems a looong time ago and about Isabel not helping him more… Well, she and Max are more alike than she thinks. She has not really dealt with her sorrows either… Just more or less focused all her energy on “helping” Max, instead of trying to get over the death of her best friend. You’re comment about Tess is very true. I’m relieved that you are understanding what I’m trying to say :wink: Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

frenchkiss – You said an interesting thing: “Living in his mind with his dead wife.” That basically sums it all up. And you’re right; he definitely can’t go on living like that. He needs professional help. The problem is to get him there. Thank you so much for the feedback!!! :D :D

Tanya – Yep, Max is certainly not ready for a relationship, but his breakdown was a step in the right direction, don’t you think? You’re probably the only one who addressed Liz in this chapter, which I find very interesting. She needs to open up as well… But then, Max is so unstable right now that she is afraid to risk telling him something that he can use later to hurt her. We know that he can, since he’s not really in his right state of mind… Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

Ms Yu – To answer your question; No, Tess is not real, she’s just something that Max’s mind has made up to help him “deal” with his grief. It might have worked in the beginning, but now it’s just turning bad. Exactamento; since Tess is part of Max’s mind, Tess’s behavior becomes so much worse… Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

liz_maria – Thank you so much!! :D :D

Stef – Lol. I think you were the only person who noticed (well, at least who made a comment on it) that Tess’s dress was no longer clean. She is slowly falling down that pedestal Max has placed her on, and to keep herself from falling she is becoming desperate. And this is just different parts of Max’s mind, which makes it so much more complicated really. Your thoughts were really correct on that one. Yeah, in a perfect world, Max would kiss Liz because he loved her and not because he wanted to forget someone else, or at least escape the haunting feeling of the absence of someone else… Thank you so much for the feedback, hun!! :D :D

Scottie – Hi darling! Thank you so much for all your bumps. Without you, this story would not be in the first three pages. It would be on page 12 or something. So thank you so much!! And I’m deliriously happy that you are obsessed with this story :lol:, nothing could make me any happier! I loved your feedback, because you really nailed what I’m trying to say with this story. Thank you so much for that!! :D :D

TrueDestiny – Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

cherie – What you wrote in your feedback makes perfect sense, cherie, and you’re completely right. Tess is starting to fade away, because one part of Max is letting go, while the other part (the guilt) is trying to hold onto her tighter than ever before. Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

mareli – Yeah, there is something about Friday and chocolate, right? And Mondays and chocolate, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays… :roll: Thank you so much for the feedback! You more or less nailed it!! :D :D

AznGurl87 – I agree completely with what you said. Unfortunately, life is complicated… *sigh* Ah well, I’m happy to see you returning. I know what an interruptus school can be… :? Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

Alien614 – Right you are! Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

roswelluver – Thank you so much!! :D :D

Melysa – Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

funquejunque – Hi!! Welcome to this fic!! Thank you so much for delurking to tell me what you think! Love that!! Thank you!! :D :D

Lelle – Hello darling! Max is really freaking you out, huh? Yeah, he’s starting to freak me out as well. He needs help. Seriously. Thank you so much for the feedback, girlfriend!! :D :D

Sali103 – Hey! So happy that you stopped by! I hope the assignments went well for you. I have a lot of those in two weeks, which I’m working on right now like a maniac… Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

Nora – Hi darling! I’m almost caught up with LAR, but now school has become a *big* issue. Sorry that I’ve sort of disappeared from your story. What I’ve read this far though is *really* good! I love it all!! I have some feedback scribbled in the margins of the chapters, I should post that… hmmm… yeah, I’ll do that later :D Have I ever told you how much I absolutely adore your lengthy feedbacks? Wow… You really analyse a lot and so well too! You pretty much nailed it :D Thank you so much for the feedback!! It means so much to me :D :D

Carol – Carol, thank you for helping to keep this story in the front pages! And thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

polar vixen Sorry for the long wait :oops:. School is completely ruining my writing schedule and it’s obviously ruining a lot for my beta as well, since she’s been very busy too. Thank you so much!! :D :D

Ana – Hello darling! You're welcome about the b-day e-mail. I hope you had a great birthday!! Thank you so much for the feedback!! :D :D

Danielle – Hi Danielle! Welcome to this fic! :D :D I’m incredibly honored to have you here! And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the feedback! I’m so happy that my small story has been able to catch your attention. :D Thank you!! :D :D

Okay, let's move on with the story, shall we? Thank you for reading!!

Chapter 29

Liz looked over at Max’s sleeping form, her eyes lingering on the lines on his face that not even sleep were able to smooth out, before moving out of the bedroom. She had managed to help him to his bed. He had been exhausted. She had been forced to pry his hands away from her because, even in his sleep, he wouldn’t let go of her. She really didn’t want to leave him, but she needed to make this phone call. She found a phone book on the shelf under the phone in the living room. It was not difficult to find Isabel’s phone number. Balancing the receiver on her shoulder, she dialed the number, waiting for someone to pick up.

“Whitman’s residence.”
“This is he.”
“Hi, this is Liz Parker.”
“Oh, hi Liz. To what do I owe the pleasure of this phonecall?”
“Uhm… Actually, could I speak to Isabel? Is she there?”
“Sure. Hang on a sec and I’ll get her.”
She heard the receiver being put down and Alex’s muffled voice in the background as he called for his wife. When she heard someone approaching the phone, Liz took a deep breath, trying to prepare herself for what was to come.
“Isabel, hi. This is Liz.”
There was a pause before Isabel answered, “Oh. Hi Liz.”
“How are you?”
“What do you want, Liz?” Isabel was obviously not interested in chit chatting.
“It’s about Max.”
”Right. I explicitly told you to stay away and then I find you sleeping together-“
”We weren’t ‘sleeping together’, Isabel.”
”Well, you looked very cozy.”
“I need to speak to you about something, Isabel. Could you just put your opinions about me to the side and just listen to me?”

A strained pause echoed between them before Isabel answered. “What is it?”
“Max needs help-“
”If you’re going to say that he needs your help, I’m-“
”He needs professional help, Isabel,” Liz interrupted. “Has he ever been to therapy after his wife and son’s deaths?”
“This is really none of your business, Liz. We can take care of Max. We’ve been there for him for several years.”
”Please Isabel. Has he ever seen a therapist?”
The stubborn silence told of Isabel trying to swallow her pride. Liz took the silence as Isabel not wanting to answer and thus continued, “Don’t you see that he needs help? He’s falling apart. I definitely don’t know him as well as you do, but even I can see that he isn’t well.”
“We found a therapist for him just after the accident,” Isabel said, her voice weaker. “After three times he stopped going. We couldn’t make him go.”
”And he’s had no therapy after that?”
Isabel’s voice was filled with guilt as she answered, “No.”
”Have you talked to him about the accident at all?”
Isabel quickly changed from being guilty to defensive. “He doesn’t let us talk to him. He doesn’t let anyone in.”
”That’s why he should seek professional help.”
”He won’t go!” Isabel practically screamed. Who was this woman, who was trying to teach her how to take care of her own brother?

Liz looked up, seeing Max standing in the doorway, looking at her with confusion, signs of sleep still evident not only in the wrinkles of his clothes but also his hair and tired eyes. Liz looked at him, wondering how much he had heard.
“Uhm… Isabel? I need to go.”
“Is Max there?” Isabel immediately asked. “Put him on.”
“I don’t think that such a good idea,” Liz said looking up at Max. He was watching her in a way that made chills run down her spine. And it wasn’t the good kind of chills. The momentary confusion had run off him and Liz could gradually see understanding dawning on his face.
“What? No, he’s my brother, Liz. I need to speak to him.”
“I’ll talk to you later,” Liz said absently and hung up, cutting off Isabel’s hurried protests.
“What are you doing?” Max asked as soon as the receiver was in the cradle.
“Just making a phone call,” Liz answered vaguely.
“To whom?” Max asked, his tone light but his eyes suspicious.
“No one, no one important,” Liz said, her voice being hushed to nearly a whisper, withering under Max’s penetrating look.
Max inhaled deeply. “I know that you were talking to my sister, Liz. I could hear her.”
Liz’s eyes dropped, studying the floor, before taking a deep breath and looking up at him. Squaring her shoulders, she calmly said, “Yes. It was your sister.”
“Why are you talking to my sister?”
“I needed to talk to her about something.”
“It’s private,” Liz said weakly.
Max’s eyes narrowed and his tone grew harsher. “What, Liz?”

There was no change in his expression and for a second Liz wondered if he had heard her or not. But she didn’t have to wonder for long.
“I don’t need any help.”
“How did you-“
”I can’t stand more people tiptoeing around me and trying to make me feel better,” Max said, his voice cold.
“Those ‘people’ are only trying to help you, Max.”
“Well, they aren’t. And I don’t want you to start as well. I don’t want you helping me, Liz.”
His words hurt her tremendously. He was refusing her help, refusing her support and her care, and it hurt beyond words that he didn’t trust her enough to do that.
“God, Max!” Liz exclaimed. “Why won’t you let us help you? You are falling apart.”
”Now you sound just like Isabel.”
“Why?” Liz demanded.
Max turned away and started for the kitchen. Liz frowned and followed him. “Why Max?”
“She’s always trying to dictate my life. Thinks she knows best.”
“She’s only looking out for you.”
Max spun around, making Liz’s breath catch in her throat as his face appeared very close to hers, hisburning eyes digging into hers. “She treats me like a two-year-old for God’s sake!”
“Maybe that’s because you act like a two-year-old,” Liz snapped and instantly regretted what she said.
Hurt flashed through his eyes and he shook his head, disappointed disbelief lingering in his every movement. Liz took a deep breath and decided to continue. At least she had coaxed a reaction from him.

“Maybe you should stop being so focused on yourself and start to see all the people around you. You don’t know what you have, Max. You don’t see how much everyone cares for you, because you’re too busy pushing everyone away.”
“You don’t know a thing about me,” Max whispered through clenched teeth, his face so close to hers that she could feel his warm breath against her face.
“I know that you are letting your demons devour you. You don’t even fight against it. You just let it happen. One day you’re going to wake up and realize that everyone is gone. That is, if you haven’t fallen apart before that.”
“I don’t have to listen to this,” Max said, stepping away from her.
”Yes, you do,” Liz said forcefully. “You can’t just run away.”
”I don’t want to listen to you,” Max said.
“It might have worked with Isabel, but I’m not letting you go,” Liz said, her voice more hushed, but the determination comes out loud and clear. “You can’t push me away, Max. Because I won’t let you.”
Max snorted and looked at her like she had just announced that she is leading a double life as a turtle. When he was met with the seriousness in her face, he slowly sat down on one of the chairs.
“Why are you doing this, Liz?” he croaked. “You are destroying it.”
Liz swallowed at the loneliness in his voice and took a step closer to the chair he was occupying. “What am I destroying, Max?”
He looked up at her with sadness. “Us.”
A sad smile made some lifeless twitching attempts in the corners of her mouth. “I thought you said that there was no ‘us’.”
His eyes dropped at that and his gaze focused on the floor he whispered, so softly that she had to strain to hear him. “I died inside…”
She could almost feel the blood freeze in her body and she slowly lowered herself to her knees in front of him and looked up at him, willing him to open his eyes with her presence. “No, Tess died. Maybe a part of you died, but you are still alive.”

He looked at her, into her, his eyes searching their way into the very core of her being. It was really just a simple thing that she had said, but it changed something inside of him. His perspective changed and before he could stop himself, the words were out of his mouth. “I see her.”
Liz frowned in confusion. “See who?”
“Tess. I see Tess.”
“What do you mean you ‘see Tess’.” Her concern for his mental health skyrocketed when she was slowly putting the pieces together of the hidden meaning of what he was saying.
“I…” He lost track of what he was saying when he saw the understanding dawn in her eyes and he just realized that this wasn’t exactly the best thing to reveal to her when he didn’t want her to think he was crazy. “I… forget it.”
“No,” Liz said, trapping his skittering eyes. “What do you mean?”
“You’ll think I’m crazy,” he said.
“I won’t,” she promised softly, even though the sound of her heart was throbbing in her ears, emphasizing the fear of what his next words would confirm.
Max hesitated, but realizing that it was probably too late now, he started talking. “She just appears sometimes. Talking to me.”
Liz nodded slowly, trying not to let the fear show itself on her face. “And you talk to her?”
Max answered with a nod and turned his face away, suddenly feeling mentally insane under the scrutiny of her eyes. He could feel the worry and fear in her eyes even though he knew she was trying to hide it from him.
“I know that she isn’t real,” he whispered.
“Okay,” she breathed, his words giving her some relief, but not easing the fear.
“But I can’t…” his breath wheezed in his air pipes and his head fell back as he agonized looked up at the ceiling, “I can’t stop her. I can’t make her go away.”
Liz looked at him in silence for a long while, before capturing his face in her hands and forcing him to look at her. “Yes, you can.” Every word was emphasized, trying to give him the strength that he was lacking.

“How?” he whispered desperately. Her heart ached with the lost look in his eyes. It was the look of a man who had tried everything and failed, the look of a man who was about to give up completely.
“Tell her to go away-“
“I have. It doesn’t work-“
“No, tell her to go away,” Liz repeated, putting more weight on her words. He opened his mouth to speak against her, when her words started to sink in.
“You have to mean it,” Liz said and her hand moved down his cheeks, his throat, to come to rest over his heart. “You have to mean it in here. She won’t let go of you until you’ve let go of her. She’s a part of you, Max, and you are the only one that can stop her from taking over your life.”
“Maybe she already has,” Max said, looking down in Liz’s face, watching the light play over her features. It was as if he was seeing her from the first time. She wasn’t rejecting him. She wasn’t pushing him away. But most importantly, she wasn’t letting him push her away.
“I don’t think so,” she answered him softly. “Because then you wouldn’t be telling me this.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry about before. And everything I’ve done since the moment we met.”
Liz looked into his regretful eyes and shook her head. “Don’t. Don’t be sorry. Just let me help.”
His eyes dropped at this and she could feel her heart waver at the movement. The fear that he was going to push her away again was so raw that it frightened her. When had she started to care so much about him that she was clinging to his every word like was her lifeline? When had it changed?
“I’m…” he took a deep breath and searched for the right word to describe what was tumbling up to the surface in her presence, everything that was released when she was around. “…scared.”
“I’m scared too,” Liz whispered. “I’m really scared that I won’t be able to help you.”
“So you called Isabel?”
“Yeah,” Liz said softly. “I called Isabel. I wanted to ask her if you’ve ever sought professional help. You know; therapy.”

He couldn’t help but be hurt by her statement. She had called his sister instead of asking him directly. “Am I really that closed off?”
Liz met his tortured expression and shook her head, trying to ease his worry. “No.”
”Liz… I need you to be completely honest with me.”
“You want to know my most holy secrets?” Liz asked, with the hint of a smile crossing her face.
“If you want to tell me, you have my permission,” Max said, teasing in his voice and Liz relaxed. She froze when she realized that her hands were still resting on him; one cradling his cheek, the other pressing against his chest. Slowly, regretfully, she removed her hands. She didn’t miss the disappointment in his eyes, but it could also have been her imagination playing tricks on her.
Her truth was soft and quiet. “I don’t want to hurt you…”
He nodded, understanding her fears because it was such a big part of himself. Her next words trapped the air inside his lungs. “I’m so afraid of being compared to… Tess.”
He stared at her, knowing that that was exactly what he had been doing, not realizing it until then. He had been comparing Liz to Tess. Trying to find out if his feelings for Liz were strong enough to replace his love for Tess. Trying to find out if he would be able to give up Tess for Liz and why. He hadn’t been aware of all the comparisons he had made, but now he realized that he had made many. All the time. He had compared how Liz had been fiddling with her ring to how Tess used to fiddle with her hair. He had compared how Tess would always sit properly on a chair and how Liz always curled up, with one leg against her chest or dangling over the armrest. He had even compared how they smelled, how they tasted, what their skin felt like under his fingers.

He could feel the bile rise in his throat with the realization. He felt sick with himself. He quickly rose from the chair, stumbling backwards. Liz looked up at him, recognizable fear in her eyes.
“Don’t walk away from me. Max? Please don’t.”
“I need to…” Max stuttered, gesturing towards the door. He continued out to the front door and Liz scrambled up from her chair to follow him, to stop him. Quickly, he put on his running shoes, ignoring her hand as she placed it on his arm. Shaking it off, he opened the door, even before he was completely finished with tying his shoes.
“Max? Where are you going?”
He ignored the fear in her voice that made his heart constrict painfully. He denied the impulse to bury himself in her arms and seek comfort there.
With Liz’s last pleading words echoing in his head he left.



*going back to studying... ::sigh::*
Unbreakable (M/L, AU)
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max and liz believer
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Post by max and liz believer » Sun May 23, 2004 8:58 pm

Okay, I'm baaack :D :D

Carol - thank you so much for understanding! :D

Stef - Gosh, girl. You really know how to make a girl feel welcome. Thank you so much, babe!! :D :D

Elizabeth - You are the best!! :D Thank you for the quick editing!!

Everyone, enjoy! Here's...

Chapter 30

“Liz,” came Isabel’s gentle response. “He doesn’t want to talk to you.”
She had been given the same reply for three weeks now, but it didn’t lessen the pang of hurt every time Isabel would answer her. Liz wasn’t sure why she kept asking, why she didn’t just give up. Why couldn’t she just let Max go and move on with her life?

The answer was always the same. She didn’t want to. She didn’t want to give up on him. He needed someone to believe in him and even though it hurt her that he didn’t want to talk to her, that he hadn’t spoken to her since he ran out of his house three weeks ago, she would continue to try and make contact with him. Sometime he had to answer her.


There was another reason to it as well, that she wasn’t that eager on acknowledging, because that mere acknowledgement would make her too vulnerable.

Liz swallowed, hearing the empathy in Isabel’s voice. She and Isabel had developed something of a friendship during the last couple of weeks. Isabel had after a while been forced to realize that Liz wouldn’t give up on Max and she had become the messenger, the link between Max and Liz. There were some things that Isabel didn’t tell Liz; some things about Max’s condition that was not only too difficult to voice, but too hard to think about. She suspected that Liz knew that she was withholding some information, but Liz never pushed. She always respected Isabel’s answers and never pushed for information that wasn’t hers to have.

“How’s therapy going?” Liz asked, biting her lower lip.
“It’s fine,” Isabel answered, her chest tightening. Therapy wasn’t fine. Isabel had visited the therapist numerous times to find out just what he was doing to Max. The therapeutic sessions seem to do more harm than good, considering the destroyed state Max was in when he came home. But Isabel always received the same reply. It was only natural for Max to get worse before he got better. He was finally facing all of his demons and getting better wouldn’t be a walk in the park.

Max had taken a leave from his work and moved in with Isabel, Alex and Michelle. It had been with much reluctance though, since he knew that Isabel would be watching over him like an overprotective mother hen. But after a week of going to therapy he had stopped eating and barely slept. He and Isabel had gotten into a big fight and Isabel had pulled away, angry with her brother because he was so stubborn. It had required a call from Liz to make Isabel swallow her pride and go back to Max and force him to move in with her. At least he was eating now, but Isabel knew that he still wasn’t sleeping very well. She could hear him wandering around the house in the middle of the night. He was moody all the time, barely speaking to anyone. He spent most of his time in his room, with the door locked.

“How is he really doing, Isabel?”
The seriousness in Liz’s voice put Isabel’s distracted train of thought to a drastic halt. Liz had never actually asked the question before and Isabel could hear from the tone in her voice that Liz knew that something was wrong. That she had known for some while.
“He’s fine, Liz. He’s doing a lot better.”
There was a pause at the other end of the line, before Liz answered. “Isabel, I know that he is not okay. Please, I need to know the truth.”
“Liz…” Isabel sighed. “You don’t want to know-“
“Yes, I do, Isabel,” Liz said adamantly. “I’m so…” She swallowed back the sudden mess of emotions clogging her throat, “I’m so afraid that he won’t be able to sort this out.”
Isabel sank down on the chair behind her. Her mind was in conflict about what to do. Should she confide in Liz about Max’s condition? She hadn’t even been able to talk to Alex about her fears, but she guessed that he already knew. Anyone with eyes could see that Max wasn’t doing any better.
“Me too,” Isabel whispered.
“Then tell me, Isabel. Please.”
“I’m…” She took a deep breath and just decided to give Liz the truth. “He isn’t Max anymore. At least before he was talking to me. Now he’s just…not here.”
“But it has to be better than when he was in denial,” Liz said.
Isabel sighed, rubbing her forehead tiredly. “I’m not so sure anymore, Liz.”

“Have you talked to the therapist?”
“He won’t give me any information. Client confidentiality.”
“Right,” Liz sighed, mimicking Isabel’s movements on the other end of the line, sitting down and rubbing her hand over her forehead. “Does he talk to you at all?”
“No… He barely says three words a day.”
“But… He has to be getting better.”
“I don’t know why he isn’t improving. He’s always locked up in his room. He won’t let anyone in. It feels like I… like I don’t even know him anymore. It’s like I have a stranger in my home instead of my brother.”
“I’m coming over,” Liz said without hesitation.
“What? No, Liz. You can’t. He’s not ready to deal with you now.”
”Isabel, if it continues like this he won’t be ready to ever deal with me. I’m coming over.”
She left no room for protest; still Isabel tried her best to get Liz onto other thoughts.
“You haven’t seen Max. You don’t know the state he’s in.”
“I want to see him, Isabel. I’ve tried to stay away, but I can’t. Not anymore.”
“Why, Liz? Why can’t you just leave him alone? He’s not your responsibility. We never asked for your help.”
He did,” Liz said quietly.
Isabel answered with silence.
“He was afraid that I would leave him. He told me some things, Isabel, and he was afraid that I would think he was crazy and that I would leave him. Now he’s… He’s is probably thinking that’s what I’ve done. That I’ve abandoned him.”
The pain in Liz’s voice struck something inside of Isabel and even though she was afraid for her brother, something told her that Liz might be the only one to help him out of whatever darkness he had fallen into.

“Okay, come over. He’s not home right now, but try in an hour.”
Liz felt her heart quickening at Isabel’s permission. She had been thinking about paying Max a visit for a while now, but the magnitude of what that would mean just hit her and it left her shaking in the aftermath. By some miracle, she managed to keep her voice stable and calm when she answered, “Okay. I’ll see you then-“
”Uhm… No,” Isabel said. “I have a PTA meeting to attend, so I won’t be there.”
“Oh,” Liz said, feeling her chest constrict and for the first time in three weeks she wondered if it was such a good idea to go to Max.
“Liz? You okay?”
“Yeah, uhm… I’ll be there. Just don’t tell Max that I’m coming.”
“Okay,” Isabel agreed, understanding Liz’s reasons for withholding that piece of information from her brother. Max would probably run away and hide if he knew that Liz would come, just like he always did.

“I’ll leave the key under the pot next to the front door,” Isabel said. “Let yourself in, because I doubt that Max will answer the door.”
Liz swallowed. What condition was Max really in?
“Okay,” she agreed weakly.


“Having fun yet?”
Max did not move. He did not acknowledge the voice at all. On some level, he knew that Tess was not sitting on the bed just then, looking at him with a sarcastic smile lingering on her lips, twirling one of her blonde curls between her fingers. During the tedious weekly therapeutic hour, he had no problem understanding what the therapist was telling him. It actually sounded logical. Tess was a figure of his imagination. He was still seeing her because he wasn’t ready to let her go so he conjured up the image of her for comfort and as a way to escape reality. Dr. Liggins made it sounds so easy. All Max had to do to get healthy again was to let go.

He had to let go.

That was all. But it was the hardest thing he ever had to do. He wanted to, but he wasn’t prepared to. He wasn’t prepared to deal with the silence and the loneliness that he would be left with. He wasn’t prepared to be alone with himself and his thoughts. He had been in that place, after the funeral, and he never wanted to return there again. It was better this way, in the company of his wife.

He glanced over his shoulder at her, before turning back to the magazine in front of him that he wasn’t reading anyway. Slowly, his eyes drifted closed. If he just listened to her voice, he could pretend that she was really there. That she wasn’t just something his mourning mind was making up. Then he could smell the soft scent of cinnamon surrounding her and feel the presence of her warm body next to him. Then he could pretend that he wasn’t pretending and he could ignore what the logical part of his mind was desperately trying to warn him of.

Dr. Liggins said it was self-destructive.

According to the therapist, Tess was personifying Max’s conscience and the fact that she was gradually becoming less like the person she had been in real life was Max’s way of punishing himself. It was his conscience that was letting him know that to stop grieving Tess and Josh was wrong. And it was destroying his mind. Devouring him from the inside out. At least, that was what it felt like.

So he didn’t push her away. He spent days locked up in his room, talking to someone who didn’t even exist so that he wouldn’t go insane. What would Dr. Liggins say about that logic if he knew? But Dr. Liggins didn’t know. Max was scared that if the therapist knew, he would help him to remove Tess, and that was the last thing Max wanted.

“Are you thinking about her?”
Sighing, Max shook his head.
“I know you are.”
He involuntarily shivered as her voice grew colder. He couldn’t recognize her anymore, something that he tried very hard to deny. Lately, her eyes had turned dark and lifeless, and she was tainted with a nauseating smell of decay. She didn’t laugh and her remarks were spiteful. But he had to hold on to the belief that it was going to return to the way it was before. That he would see her smile again and hear her laughter. That hope was the only thing keeping him going. That and-
“Liz. What is so special about her, Max? She left you. She abandoned you when you needed her the most.”
Max buried his head in his hands at her words. He understood why Liz had stayed away. He was the one to run away. He was the one that pushed her away. But it hurt that she hadn’t even tried to make him listen. She hadn’t even tried to convince him that she would help him.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Max mumbled.
He’d had the same conversations for days now and it was slowly driving him insane. He missed her. He missed her so much that it hurt. The problem was that it wasn’t Tess he was missing. It was Liz. His whole being was aching for her, but he knew that he couldn’t contact her. She would never come near him. He was damaged. He didn’t recognize himself any longer and he didn’t trust himself in the company of others. He had lost count of how many times he had yelled at Isabel. He wanted to be left alone. He wanted to crawl away from reality, far away where no one could find him.

But his heart was telling him different. And Tess knew it. That was the main reason why she was plaguing him with it, over and over again. Playing on his insecurities, his guilt and his fear. Slowly driving him to the brink of insanity.

“She doesn’t care about you. She only pitied you. Let’s face it, Max. No one wants you now.”
He knew it was true. He had stopped looking at himself in the mirror two weeks ago, because the stranger looking back at him scared him. That wasn’t who he was. That wasn’t who he had been. He’d had his whole life ahead of him. He had found his dream girl. He had married her and they’d had a beautiful son. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. His heart felt like a hollow void. He didn’t even feel the aching anymore. He didn’t care if he lived or died. To be honest, death seemed very tempting at the moment.

Looking over at Tess, he wondered, not for the first time, if he would meet her in a better place if he gave up on this life. Would she return to the girl he fell in love with? He was ripped out of his dark thoughts by the sound of a door closing downstairs. He vaguely glanced at the clock, his muffled mind registering that Isabel was home early.
“You are pathetic,” Tess whispered, suddenly standing next to him. The stench of death crawled up his nostrils and he could feel the familiar stale taste of bile in his mouth. He wanted to run away, while simultaneously longing for her touch.
“Everyone can see what a mess you are,” Tess continued, “You should know what they are saying behind your back. What they really think about you. Do you really think that your sister likes to take care of you as if you were her child instead of her brother?”

The next second, Tess was gone, replaced by the creaking sound of the door to his bedroom opening. It took his desensitized mind a couple of seconds before he realized that Isabel had changed her hair color and that she was smaller than usual. It took him a couple of seconds before he realized that it was not his sister but Liz Parker standing in the doorway.

Unbreakable (M/L, AU)
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