Written by Memory Echo
Disclaimer: Written for love, not for profit. Although they are in my heart, these characters do not legally belong to me. They belong to: Melinda Metz and Laura Burns who created them, Jason Katims who developed them, 20th Century Fox Television and Regency Television who produced them and the WB and UPN who broadcasted them.
Summary: Set in “Graduation”, after Liz accepted Max’s proposal. Here’s my take on what could’ve happened before the camera faded out.
Author’s Notes: This story was meant to be posted on a special day. Could there be a more special day than a wedding anniversary? I was always very tongue-tied whenever anyone asked me why I was so fond of Max & Liz (from the original books as well as the show). My fingers were agile, unlike my stilled tongue, and this story is the answer to that question. This fic is my way of paying homage to the most sublime love story ever told; it’s my toast to their thirteen years of marriage. With this fic, I am metaphorically raising my glass of champagne… er, make that an Alien Blast (means a lot more to them, right? ;)) to celebrate their awe-inspiring love. I invite all my fellow Dreamers to join me in this toast for our favorite couple!
Warning: Those readers who expect to read smut are going to be sorely disappointed, because they will not find it in this story.
Acknowledgements: How could I not thank Melinda Metz & Laura Burns for creating such magnificent characters? How could I not thank Shiri Appleby and Jason Behr for incarnating such a beautiful love? I would like to thank behrbabe (for the magnificent banner), O2Shea and BringMeBack from the bottom of my heart. Your priceless contributions and feedback made this story possible!
Also thanks to: a poster by the name of Coccy who made a wallpaper that was quite an inspiration for me. I would like to express my gratitude for that also.
“I’m writing for my ideal reader, for somebody who’s willing to take the time, who’s willing to get lost in a new world, who’s willing to do their part. But then I have to do my part and give them a sound and a voice that they believe in enough to keep going.”
– Elizabeth Strout
For O2Shea, the living proof that the ideal reader is, after all, one of life’s most magnanimous realities.
Part 1: As Above, so Below
Part 2: Succumbing to the Euphoria
Part 3: Cemented
Part 4: The Perilous Path to Bliss
Part 5: The Healer
Part 6: Eighty-four Minutes
Part 7: Light Shining in the Darkness
Part 8: The Bonds of Forever
Part 1: As Above, so Below
Author’s Notes: This part contains references to Melinda Metz’s The Watcher, Plato’s Symposium, and the ‘sleeping cure’ is a reference to my previous story “Hell’s Gate”.
Their lips met in a long, grateful, amorous kiss, and only then did they realize they hadn’t dreamt that proposal up.
The promises contained in that kiss forced Max to break from it. He couldn’t let things go too far – he didn’t want to rush Liz into anything, especially because she had called him there for a reason still unknown to him. He leaned his forehead on hers and smiled sheepishly. “I’m sorry… You wanted to tell me something?”
His voice crept in her exhilaration and she opened her eyes slowly, unwilling to waive the ardency of their contact.
“Uh… yeah… I wanted to show you…” Liz walked into her bedroom, emerging shortly after with two papers in her hand. She handed him one.
“Come here.” Tenderly, she took his hand and guided him to the telescope. She set the coordinates that she knew by heart while he read the paper. His curiosity piqued when he saw the words ‘Star Registry’, ‘Max’, ‘Liz’, and a set of coordinates. “Take a look.” Max looked through the telescope and was staggered by the sight: in the dark wilderness of the Cosmos, he gazed at a small region of enchanting light, with the brightest stars he had ever seen.
“Did you find them?” She smiled in anticipation.
“If you’re referring to the brightest of the bunch, yes.”
“It’s a binary system. To the naked eye, it looks just like one big star. The first time I noticed them was when you saved my life at the Crashdown… that tiny speck of light in the infinite dark sky… It was there when you allowed me to say goodbye to my grandmother; it was there when we first kissed; it was there when we took a step back; it was there that night we went to the desert to find the orb; it was there when we jumped off the bridge; it was there when you serenaded to me…”
Her dreamy voice trailed off… Max’s memories of all of those moments flashed before his eyes with the binary pair as background, and he had to smile, reliving every emotion she evoked in his heart. “You decided to register them in our name,” he finished her thought, softly.
“It felt like a good investment.” Liz replied in the same tone.
“Investing in eternity…!” Max chuckled.
“Yeah…” They were both lost in the majesty of that celestial sight.
“They’re located in the center of the Lagoon Nebula in the Sagittarius Constellation.” Max read in the paper registry.
“They’re young, just a couple million years old,” Liz said.
“The oldest star ever found is 13 billion years old.”
“I hope we can last that long!” Max sighed.
“Well, they’re not too big, so they’ll live a lot longer-”
“I wasn’t talking about our stars,” Max said, finally taking his eyes off the telescope. They gleamed as strongly as the stars above and Liz blushed under his gaze.
“I know,” she murmured, looking at him with equal intensity. “Do you think we can last that long?” She wondered, unable to hide the yearning in her voice.
“I’m sure we can last longer than the longest star,” he said, putting his arms around her waist, closing the space between them completely.
There wasn’t any rational basis for his words, but when she wrapped her arms around him, around his strength, and felt his heart beating against hers, she believed that the mortal plane would never taper their love off.
“I mean, it’s not like those stars have someone to bring them back from the dead,” he added, with a knowing smile. Liz gave a hearty laugh in response. He planted lingering kisses on her forehead as he spoke softly: “Thank you for the wonderful gift… for saving my life… for teaching me about Humanity… about Love… for loving me when I didn’t deserve it-”
She cupped his face in her hands and looked deeply into his eyes. “You were never undeserving!” She assured him, just before her lips covered his.
There was no denying the yearnings that kiss contained. As it deepened, both of them knew that nothing and nobody would come between them. A random night sound startled him and he looked around nervously, wondering if they could ever have a peaceful night.
“So, how long are your parents going to stay out?” He asked, glancing at her bedroom window, afraid that they could be home already.
“For a long while,” Liz said, self-assured. “They are gonna take their sweet time with this graduation gift. We’ll only see them at the ceremony.” She opened a smile that made his heart swell. “Isabel and Jesse are at the movies, but they will be at school in time for the ceremony. Michael has already left,” she said, dropping the smile for a moment.
“I know; he told me he was leaving… Maria must be distraught.” Max sighed, wondering if the impasse between Maria and Michael would ever end.
“She is… I was with her before you arrived, but then I told her you’d be here and she left.”
“Just like that?! What exactly did you tell her?”
“I told her the sleeping cure is over,” Liz laughed, “and she swore to me that she would stay home ‘til the graduation ceremony.”
Max’s smile spread widely and he held her closer in his arms, pleased with the news. The air around them was getting thicker with the fluttering fever they exuded, but neither of them seemed bothered. The world vanished when her eyes gleamed before him and her lips held that encouraging smile. Liz could feel his heart thudding stronger against her chest and added, in a playful tone, “The Crashdown is closed; all the doors are locked. There’s nobody in the building, but us. Do you know what this means?”
He nodded and gulped. He leaned over her, their foreheads touching slightly, and whispered: “Yeah… This is our moment. Just ours. Finally ours!” After a quick kiss, he gave her a mischievous grin: “Do you think Zeus will give us the night off?”
She just smiled and held him tightly: “Oh, we’ve shown him what we’re made of. He’s no match for us… trust me.”
Part 2: Succumbing to the Euphoria
Author’s Notes: This part contains references to “Blind Date”.
Indeed; for the first time, the Universe seems to be agreeing with us. With that thought, Max plunged into her warm chocolate eyes and kissed her in earnest, enjoying the feeling of her body molding against his. Without notice, he took her in his arms and walked towards the bedroom, his eyes never leaving hers. She stopped him close to the window.
“What is it?” Max asked, putting her down, gently.
“It’s just…” Liz looked around; that balcony had been the center stage of some of the greatest events in their lives, culminating in the most majestic marriage proposal she could’ve ever dreamed of. She glanced at the wall – the heart that he had painted with their initials was barely showing…
Liz took his hand. “Could you light it again?” She asked, with a wistful smile. Max placed his hand on the bricks dyed red and reignited the symbol of his love. “Thank you! Just promise me one thing: come what may, from this moment on, we won’t let fear control us.”
“I promise.” He said, returning her smile and cradling her gently in his arms, admiring how the heart shone so bright in her gaze. She cupped his face in her hands and brushed her lips against his. The kiss was gentle at first – both of them lost in the soft sweetness of each other’s lips. Liz traced his bottom lip, Max flicked out his tongue to taste hers and she felt his breath catch in his throat. They deepened the kiss, savoring each other in their sensual exploration. She wrapped her arms around his neck, feeling their urgency increasing.
An immeasurable need grew deep within her, making her feel that the intensity wasn’t enough… Max tore his lips from hers, both gasping for breath. They felt deliciously dizzy and hungry for more kisses. Max scattered kisses on her forehead, cheeks, jaw line, as she tilted her head, giving him access to the soft skin on her neck. He grazed his tongue on her throat, feeling her rampant heartbeat, making his knees tremble. Her hands clutched at his shirt, but it still wasn’t enough; she snuggled closer against him, slipping her hands beneath his shirt, marveling at his burning skin. Max couldn’t help the pleasurable shudder that her eager touch sparked in his body. He cupped her neck, trailing kisses upward, to that sweet spot behind her ear, feeling her melting against him. The rich sound of her soft moans was the beginning of his undoing.
In the last moment of clarity before succumbing to the euphoria, Max tore away from her. “Liz, we can’t…”
“Why?! What’s wrong?” She asked, confused, aching for all of him, and seeking the safety of his touch and his warmth again.
Unable to withstand the cold space between them, Max folded his arms around Liz and held her tightly, in an embrace filled with longing. “We can’t, not like this,” he mumbled, his tone resembling a plea. As much as he wanted to lose himself in that intoxicating passion that consumed both of them, he knew they had to do everything right if they wanted to make this last. This had to last as long as possible!
Liz tried to reason with him, but she couldn’t formulate a coherent thought with a beginning, a middle and an end. But just being there, encircled in his arms, listening to his panting breath and his wild heart, left her with no doubts about what he wanted. She held still as he tenderly stroked her cheeks with his thumbs, looking deeply into her eyes. “We can’t let this moment end!” He whispered.
Liz was snapped out of her mental fog. “You’re right; we can’t.”
Part 3: Cemented
Author’s Notes: This part contains references to “Pilot” and tons of other episodes.
Caveat Lector: Despite the title, you will not find graphic descriptions of sex here… Just my interpretation of what the ‘cementing’ could be. So that there’s no misunderstandings later. ;) And yes, I’m well aware how unpopular my opinion is on this matter. You’re welcome to tell me your opinions. I’ll be more than happy to read them all! :D
They trembled in each other’s arms for a long while, trying to get their breathing under control. They drew deep, even breaths, gazing at each other. Their eyes mirrored an uncontrollable desire… a delightful vision! They just stood there, feeling it simmer, deeper and deeper… After a time they couldn’t quantify, they felt each other’s heartbeats starting to pound more slowly; the oxygen being pushed in and out of their lungs. The feeling soothed them, their eyes shone brighter, their skin felt warmer.
Comfortably cradled in each other’s arms, no longer trembling, a series of flashes began to flow between them: Max saw her disappointment when he told her it wasn’t safe for them to be together as well as how deeply she loved him; Liz saw his strength and his determination hidden in his vulnerability when he got out of the white room, how much he just wanted to be with her for the rest of his life; Max saw how touched she was by his alcohol induced confession; Liz saw how exhilarated he was just playing pool and dancing with her on their first official date; Max saw how much the hug shared outside the hospital comforted Liz, how in that moment, despite her pain, she felt peace; Liz saw the mixture of surprise and deep longing that Max felt when he had that vision of them in Vegas; Max saw how amazed she had been after he let her see his soul, by the fact that he had loved her so deeply for so long; Liz saw how exhilarated he felt holding her hand at midnight service, how he had cherished that moment, even with everything that was happening between them; Max saw how liberated she felt from her emotional shackles when he took her flying through the desert sky, fulfilling one of her oldest dreams; Liz saw the heady combination of vulnerability and ecstasy when their love took hold of them and they exchanged their first kiss; Max saw how thrilled Liz was from her visit to Madam Vivian, because her faith that their love was going to have a happy ending had been completely restored; Liz saw his eagerness to help her get into the college of her dreams, even if it cost him their relationship; Max saw that behind the first smile that Liz blessed him with, there was a sharp relief of her own sense of loneliness; Liz saw how hard he fought Clayton in order to project the shield that saved her life again; Max saw her struggle with her fears when she was told that she was changed and her desperate yearning to put all that aside to help him when he was in New York; Liz saw Max’s desire to take a step forward in their relationship, undeniably sure that it was the right decision; Max saw the wave of elation that went through her when he said he would go with her to college; Liz saw how relieved and happy he was to have his arms around her and celebrate the New Year at the Crashdown…
Torrents of images passed before her eyes, but there was enough time to see all things and feel every twist and turn of emotion. Liz felt as if her brain was expanding. She couldn’t explain it to herself… The flashes came too fast, and the emotions were too intense… She should’ve been overwhelmed, but she wasn’t disoriented by the flashes; they were wonderfully vivid! How could she accommodate all this information if her brain wasn’t expanding somehow?!
After a multitude of experiences, Liz pressed her cheek against Max’s hand, reveling in his loving touch. An unfamiliar wave of awe and gratitude struck her, overwhelming her. The appreciative glow emanating from his eyes was only a minuscule fraction of the feelings that welled up in his heart; its strength throbbed in Liz, clear, as if sprouted from her own soul! A pang of happiness flashed up into her heart. Her reaction wasn’t lost on Max. Her happiness was so alive in his own spirit that he felt her tears in his eyes. They became enraptured by their discovery, focusing on it with all their might. Max caressed her arms, enfolding her gently. Liz smiled and leaned into him, touching her forehead to his, loving the feel of his sweet breath stroking her face. He stood there, basking in the love that shone radiantly in her eyes, mirroring his own feelings.
Without conscious thought, their breaths remained in sync. They smiled, as the majestic phenomenon of their distinctive fragrances blending – as they inhaled and exhaled, slower and deeper – became apparent to them. They saw the emotions in each other’s eyes emerging like clouds in the sky – the love and respect for one another, and their bare souls reflected in their vibrant gaze.
Max’s hands were soft against her cheeks and Liz closed her eyes, enthralled by his sensual touch. She sighed and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer, resting her head against his shoulders.
“I’ll never get tired of the way you feel,” she murmured against his ear. He cupped her face in his hands again and she met his gaze with a gleam in her eyes.
“Me neither,” he admitted with a smile. “I’ll never get tired of anything that comes from you!”
Max was amazed by how palpable her ecstasy was to him, still, after a few minutes… Their most meaningful connections had always been so evanescent… but now he held onto this bond for dear life! He knew that she wanted it to last for as long as possible, just as much has he did, and it made him happy. He wanted to thank her for loving him so ardently, thank her for holding on to their bond with such tenacity…
Liz pulled him closer; her lips tingling in heavenly foretaste of meeting his. Max felt it too. His lips hovered leisurely above hers, his hazel eyes smiling at her, calling her, enticing her. Regardless of how many times they had kissed before, there was no sweeter anticipation; it was like taking refuge in a tropical ocean surrounding a windy beach.
She let her eyes drift closed as he leaned over her, and sucked in a sharp breath in surprise as he nibbled on her earlobe and nuzzled her neck. Then, he brushed his lips softly against her throat, with a mixture of reverence and thrill.
The subtle intensity made Liz pull his face back to hers to kiss him tenderly, and they were wrapped up in the exquisite feeling of that sensual, perfect, surrendering kiss. Max moved his palms over her back in a slow caress, feeling her tremble.
Their bond’s ever growing influence stirred Max further, leading him to set an unequivocal path. He traveled slowly, planting gentle kisses along the curve of her jaw, her throat, her shoulder, letting his fingers trail the small of her back, pressing her closer to him, resting at the curve of her waist.
It marveled Liz that their bond kept expanding in soundness and sweetness to unfathomable depths! It was as if the flashes of their lives wove around their hearts, anchoring them to each other. She wished she could wrap herself around his strength, his sense of honor, his honesty, his devotion…, wanting to shed her mortal frame and meld with his energy completely!
Part 4: The Perilous Path to Bliss
Author’s Notes: This part contains references to “Pilot”, “Sexual Healing”, “The end of the world” and “White Room”
Max’s heart matched her deepest desire, but he couldn’t disregard the tiny projectile that had heralded that new dimension to them… He knelt slowly before Liz and lifted her sweater a little, placing his tremulous hand on the old point of impact. He caressed her skin, gently, remembering that fateful day – those brisk seconds that had changed their lives forever.
Between the bang, the fall, and the sight of existence slowly floating into oblivion, Liz’s strongest memory was of Max’s hand – his voice could barely reach her – but his touch, warm and true, restored her to life, breathing a new soul into her. The feeling was so vivid; it made her shiver just like that day.
Then he kissed her lingeringly, with tender reverence, as she heard his ‘thank you’ reverberate with ardor in her soul.
The majesty of his touch overwhelmed Liz, just as it had done two years before, and she took a deep breath, feeling herself falling softly on one knee to face him again. She cleared her throat and gazed deeply into his eyes. Thoughts raced so fiercely in her head, she was afraid the words wouldn’t come to her.
“You know, your touch felt like none other in my life. Its warmth was like… not only physical warmth… it was more spiritual warmth, as if my soul had been dormant until that moment and you brought it back to life.” She chuckled and lowered her head, defeated, fearing her words could never encompass the depth of her feelings. “Sorry, I still can’t explain it effectively enough. I know you think about that day as much as I do, but I needed you to know just how much you changed me in that moment…”
Max could feel her eagerness right through her turbulent words, and he relished that fact, nodding with an open smile. The intense emotions conveyed by her words overwhelmed him in a delightful way, making him giddy. Pulled by her memories (or his own unrestrained emotions), he leaned forward, touching his forehead to hers for support. Liz gazed at him, savoring his soft breath, and they lowered themselves sweetly and inexorably onto the blanket. Max framed Liz’s face between his hands and scattered a reverent kiss on her forehead, a playful kiss on the tip of her nose (making her giggle), tender kisses on her cheeks, and a feathery kiss on her lips, gently exploring them from corner to corner. He would never get used to the miracle that was kissing Liz; he didn’t want to get used to it. As his lips delicately fluttered over hers, he vowed to cherish her his entire life.
Her delicate fingers gave way beneath his shirt, stroking his back gently, making him jump with fever. He broke off the kiss and freed himself from that fabric nuisance. Liz laughed, amused. She had never seen anyone undress so quickly before.
His determination became her determination. As she reached to unbutton his pants, he took the little square package out of his pocket. Her eyes showed no surprise at the sight of their little passport to safety, but she decided to show him her little round pack. Max chuckled when he saw what she held; she held it with pride, as if it were her own little shield. Max shrugged and grinned… They had nothing to worry about; their problem was solved!
Their love sharpened their dexterity, and their clothes swiftly pooled around them. It dawned on Liz that they had never been so utterly together, so utterly alone, and so utterly uncovered… She let out a shaky sigh – quietly observing the stirring immensity of that moment, a refulgent preamble to paths yet unconquered. Max backed a few inches away to gaze upon her. He stayed there for a while, on his knees, with his heart in his mouth… Any hot-blooded male would feel a sense of lustful haughtiness at this particular time, but Max had never felt more reverential. While gathering his thoughts (resembling prayers) he smiled, thinking that perhaps only a divine entity could’ve envisioned someone as magnificent as Liz.
Max came up to her in no haste and placed a tender kiss on her lips. They parted, warm and inviting, to greet his own. He gave a couple of playful nibbles on her lower lip, feeling her tremble sweetly beneath him and throwing her arms around him in earnest. He couldn’t help but to tremble himself when he felt her nerve endings being inflamed with new life. His fingertips caressed her face as he deepened the kiss, stroking the inside of her upper lip with his tongue. Liz savored his tender touch and the feel of his tongue, like velvet, against hers. His lips lingered on hers a while longer, and then he pulled away, almost regretting it.
Liz felt his hesitation and studied him briefly; she could feel the wheels turning in his head and the blazing love, need and desire veiled in his hooded eyes. His distance soon became unbearable. She ran her fingers through his hair and her palms lulled him back to her embrace in a silent plea. Max chuckled, as he lowered himself to her again – unable to hide his awe of her innocent touch, always managing to rouse him with perennial precision, unwilling to deny the thrill of her loving energy gliding all over his body. Mere inches away from her face, he escaped again, grabbing her arms instead. He kissed an ardent trail from her palms to her shoulders, alternating between arms, ignoring the feeble moan of protest from Liz. He brushed a strand of hair from her eyes and pressed his lips to her forehead.
“Max…” She cooed, wondering how much longer the titillation could last.
“Shhh,” he whispered, placing her arms by her sides in a gentle but firm gesture, curbing the fever that rose steadily within her and flooded her eyes with a passion that shook him to the core. “Relax,” he murmured. He didn’t want her to think about anything… anything at all. He just wanted her to feel him.
Liz looked at him inquisitively – she felt his confidence: his voice was comforting, his smile was serene, his eyes sparkled with a bit of mischief… She had seen that look before, and the last time she did, she had been swept off her feet (in more ways than one). He had a plan for her, and so she returned his smile and nodded appreciatively, abandoning herself in his hands. Her swift nod and carefree smile was all it took for Max. With her head on the pillow, Liz felt him move closer, nuzzle her cheek and whisper,
The urge to embrace him pushed her to the edge of insanity, making it almost impossible for her to remain still while he took his time trailing fervent kisses along her jaw line and lower. At the hollow spot of her throat, Max sensed a surge of distinctive yet familiar energy that he recognized from the happiest days of his relationship with Liz. That recollection lingered in the back of his mind – what a wondrous place to return to! – and Max smiled to himself, pouring all his love on that little hollow spot.
His excitement palpitated in her heart, but when his lips brushed her skin, she was transported to an intimate place where love and pleasure reigned on an unparalleled level, a place where she had been but once before. Her memory (distant enough) couldn’t do justice to this moment, to the intensity of his gesture – her skin tingling in exhilaration when his lips touched her; his love streaming powerfully through her body, mixing with hers, expanding in warmth, in strength, flooding her entire being with an exotic rapture, soothing her completely…
They gazed at each other for a brief moment, both spellbound by the emotion that had seized them; Max trembled sweetly, captivated by her reaction, his eyes brimming with joy. He could feel it deep inside him, he could almost see it; his love traveled through her body, the lines crisscrossing all the way through, forming a sort of grid with sharply defined points on which he devoted his attention. With delicate movements, he kissed and caressed her, worshiping every inch of her – each gesture slower than the last, establishing a long, languorous rhythm… Liz couldn’t have imagined such a profound state of relaxation even if she had lived a thousand lifetimes; she reveled in total thoughtless bliss… All she could do was feel; feel that absolute love rippling in her body, again and again, growing in slow, luscious waves that echoed in the deepest recesses of her soul, soaking her spirit in boundless elation! Time no longer held any meaning to her. To feel his love shining so deep within her was nothing short of magical!
By and by, he met her again at eye level. No words came from either of them… no words were needed! They just gazed at each other for a while, admiring the love blooming in their contented eyes…
“Thank you!” Max said, finally, enfolding her soul in his frank tone.
Liz chuckled. “You’re thanking me?!”
“Sure… Why not? I’ve got plenty to be thankful for!”
Liz sighed; his words flowed into her soul like melted honey. “Yeah, I know what that feels like,” she said, with an interminable grin.
Max’s breath caught in his throat. He couldn’t help a shudder of anticipation as the heat from her palms seeped into his skin. Her hands traveled guileless over his body; her fingertips fluttering over, and her palms leisurely gliding along his skin, intoxicating him further, sharpening his senses. The richness of her caresses was all the invitation he needed. Her touch found its way into the core of his heart, her silent plea mingled with his own yearning for her. The distance between them (however small) became intolerable.
Liz caught a golden gleam in Max’s eyes as he lowered himself to her – a sure sign of his credence relating to the promises he had made her earlier that night. She cradled his face in her hands, caressing his lips with her thumb, before she pulled him closer for a kiss. Wrapping her loving arms around him, Liz was in awe of the luxurious feel of his strength against her.
They spent a measureless moment exploring each other, enjoying each other, letting the enchanting flames rise deliciously within them, slow and steady, enveloping them completely.
Her whole world was Max, their love, and how much he cherished her. All she wanted was to give herself to him, to share her spirit with his in that same pure, intense, unrestrained, permanent manner. How long could their connection really last? She wondered. A thought crossed her mind that better things were reserved for them. Wishful thinking, maybe… Would their hearts be capable of harboring such feelings, of elevating them day after day, of letting them live endlessly?
She caught his gaze – his eyes shone with a mixture of ardor and tenderness, as he aligned himself with her, feeling his passion grow to indescribable levels. She looked at him like never before, and Max blushed under her intense gaze, feeling her curiosity and passion rise deep within him. She watched Max as he sucked in a breath; his keen hooded eyes echoed her emotion, shuddering at the mercy of her enticing fingertips. He took his time basking in her breathtaking caresses…
Liz guided him to her in a mindful gesture. She could feel his slow and steady heartbeat as he touched her… She held his gaze as he bent over to kiss her, throwing her arms around him, enjoying his strong masculine scent, noticing his nostrils flaring as he took her sweet fragrance in… He gasped at the sensations, increasing the passion of his scattered kisses, reveling in her soft moans as they reached his ears, promptly drowning them against his lips…
Each sensation seem to strengthen their bond, and the more solid it became, the more vivid the emotions it allowed them to give each other, which only strengthened their bond…
Liz lifted her hips gently and arched against his chest; as they crossed the threshold together, his exquisite pleasure flooded her soul, revealing a new meaning to that curious stretching sensation of hers. Then, Liz felt a cold, crushing lack of understanding…
Max tore away from her. He wanted to be close to Liz more than life itself, but not like this… After everything that had happened between them, he had promised himself that he would never hurt Liz again, and he knew that if he kept on going, he would transform her discomfort into pain. Max had learned, after the most racking days of his life, that after the discomfort could only come pain. He would not let that happen to Liz again!
Part 5: The Healer
Author’s Notes: This part contains references to “White Room” and the “Pilot”.
While his whole world turned white, thoughts invaded his mind about the discomfort he had experienced on his first night at Eagle Rock, faster than he could control them… It was an inescapable quagmire – the more he struggled, the more Pierce tormented him, the whiter his world got. The images of the White Room twirled inside him, reducing him to a bewildered, dazed and quivering frame.
His panic worsened when he realized he didn’t know how to sever his bond with Liz… Between his white blindness and his increasing breathlessness, Max tried desperately to push Liz away from him, away from his demons… to no avail… While he struggled to keep the air in his lungs, all strength abandoned him; he was so weak that an ant could subdue him…
But Liz refused to leave him. Max was hyperventilating, so Liz knew she had to lower the oxygen and raise the carbon dioxide levels in his blood. She covered his mouth and his left nostril and waited for Max to regain control of his breathing. Max had squeezed his eyes shut, but each time he inhaled was a small victory, and before long, his breathing returned to normal. However, Liz felt that the trial would go on for a great deal longer; Max kept his eyes closed as he trembled helplessly – his every muscle painfully taut…
Liz could feel his nausea building in the pit of her stomach. Her eyes hurt; she squeezed them shut, but it was no use! She couldn’t get rid of the throbbing, agonizing whiteness; her ears rang painfully as if people were next to her yelling through a bullhorn. Every bone in her body ached in the brink of implosion, as she struggled to get a breath in, and shivered uncontrollably; her head spun relentlessly, further increasing her nausea. Her veins were about to burst and her muscles felt weak, as her heart raced manically; then blood started pouring out as her chest was sliced open and she just lay there, with blood trickling from her nose. Dead.
She suppressed an anguished sob, cursing her own mediocrity. She remembered how fast she had dragged Max away from Eagle Rock, setting a punishing pace on the Jetta to get him away from that prison – it had all been useless; she understood that now. As much as she tried, her human status would always cripple her in relation to him. Max’s heart had been a prisoner ever since that day, and her complete inadequacy meant that there was nothing she could ever do to keep him safe…
Max’s sudden shudder disturbed Liz, jolting her out of her thoughts. She gulped, and with a Herculean effort from her own hurting muscles, covered him with a blanket lying nearby. The ground beneath them still emanated a comfy warmth through the blanket from the scorching sun that had blessed the balcony all day, but when she touched Max, he was freezing, as if he was still being shoved into that tub of ice…
Liz knew that pondering on that whole ordeal would only worsen the situation. She took one deep breath after another to calm herself down and, when she finally stopped trembling, placed her hands on his lower back and let them linger there, as Max didn’t have enough strength to push her away…
In the midst of the rancid whiteness that left her blind and disoriented, the feeling of Max’s presence stood out. He was strapped to a chair… immobilized. She felt the air trapped in her lungs when she realized the fatal fact that she couldn’t go to him… She couldn’t take away his pain; she couldn’t take away his fear; she couldn’t yank him out of the White Room once and for all. She couldn’t repeat the same mistake… All she could offer him was her presence and her love.
Liz could feel the cold, taut horror weakening his muscles. The powerful stream of pain from the White Hell made it almost impossible for her to focus on anything else, but she struggled to send him all the love, tranquility and assurance she possessed… Those feelings seemed to come from unknown parts of her aching soul, filling her with hope and warmth.
Max held his head low; his torture and the pain he had put Liz through (yet again!) weighed him down, extinguishing all hope…
Liz saw the light she had always known existed inside Max with an astonishing clarity – his strength, his courage, his honor, his love. It was a welcoming vision; underneath the fear and the shame that plagued him at that moment, his soul was intact! Max’s clenched fists were the only things still separating them. Liz hoped he could see what she saw; she focused all her energy on staying still, staying calm, and sending him love. A formidable warmth spread from her palms to her fingertips and she aimed this fervor at his numb lower back.
Amidst his white blindness and the weight of his chilling shackles, Max felt Liz’s keen presence. He raised his aching eyes in her direction… In the abyssal whiteness of his prison, Liz stood at a doorstep of a reddish-dark open space, watching over him with a rare tranquility shining in her familiar loving eyes. His gaze dropped quickly as shame surged through him. He tried in vain to hide his wretched condition, cursing his own luck for failing at that, also! Her nearness awoke the good memories he had while being at Eagle Rock. When he gazed upon her again, she blessed him with a smile with no hint of shame or sorrow. Max begged her to release him from his hell in a wordless request.
Liz’s hands rose up his back with infinite patience. Her love filled him, flowing through him, rising with her warm hands… All those feelings (love, peace and hope) swirled gently through him… Oh, if only he could find the strength to break the vicious grip of the shackles that held him prisoner…
In that moment, those feelings were his life support, a kind of holy trinity that kept his head a little higher than before… Her love and warmth reverberated increasingly strong within him, in an ascending movement. The sensation intensified; and yet, Max still felt far from it. In his eyes and in his heart, Liz was still too far away… He wished he could free himself, stand up and rush into her arms…
She felt it too. The pain that held him was just so raw, so inconceivable, so utterly crushing!… She looked at his chest, where the monsters had sliced him open… There were no remnants of their assault on his body, but Max was still bleeding… A wave of terror, anger and nausea threatened to flood her again, but Liz focused on what was important. When she felt her courage returning, she placed a gentle kiss on his chest, as her hands rose to his upper back.
As the cold, wicked blade pierced his chest for the umpteenth time, Max flinched involuntarily. He tried to shield himself from the pain he knew would haunt him… to no avail. The scalpel stung him without mercy, and he shuddered and sucked in a breath, but not from the searing pain… Liz’s sudden kiss flooded his soul, forcing the coldness and the fear to recede.
A strange feeling lifted from him – a kind of unceasing vertigo, or nausea that had held him captive for countless years – and Max raised his head, effortlessly, to look into Liz’s eyes again; her love had never felt so new, nor so pure, enfolding him like a warm blanket of overwhelming benevolence. As his torture and hellish numbness yielded to her unrestrained love, Max glanced at himself, and it took him a while to believe what his eyes told him. His arms rested on the chair with no cuffs holding them down… Nothing was holding him down… He was free! After a while, when the idea finally sunk in, Max rose from his prison and put one foot in front of the other, moving slowly, but surely, to Liz’s arms. When he was but a step away from her, he gasped, surprised to feel the touch of her lips on his throat. He cherished her strong and pure gesture, before continuing on his journey.
Liz welcomed that sound – the first she had heard from him since he became consumed by his personal hell.
As the throbbing white pain in Max’s head was replaced by a peace he had never known, he was surrounded by an enjoyable darkness, dashed by red and flickering yellow lights, and the symbol of his love shining on the wall. Max took the final step into the darkness and Liz’s loving eyes came into focus as he opened his to the world.
Liz welcomed him with a crystalline smile – one he had seen before, (the first she had blessed him with) but that he never had the courage to reciprocate… She studied his face – she became captivated by that unfamiliar sparkle gleaming in his eyes, and the equally unfamiliar wide smile on his lips. Her fascination only grew as the minutes went by…
They took their time gazing at each other, getting acquainted with that new sense of peace that was mirrored in their eyes, revering their strong and calm heartbeat, letting those feelings permeate their souls.
When his distance became unbearable again, Liz pulled Max closer and put her fervent lips against his forehead, hearing him take his deepest breath yet. He threw his arms around her and murmured a ‘thank you’, realizing those words were insufficient for everything Liz had done for him, but trusting that she knew how he felt through their connection.
She shuddered when a cool breeze blew around them, transporting her out of her enthrallment, and she looked around, somewhat disoriented. “Do you have any idea what time it is?” She wondered.
He shook his head. “Uh-uh, not the faintest… Don’t you have a watch around here somewhere?”
Liz sighed. “Yeah, but it’s too far from my grasp… and I don’t really want to leave…” She laughed, hugging him again.
He shared her cheerful laugh and cuddled her up in his arms, weaving the euphoria of his newfound freedom and a new adoration around her. As he did, he felt the burden of the weight that still plagued her soul, quieted by the happiness he shared with her. She was exhausted by their whole ordeal and, even though he couldn’t feel it through his blanket of bliss, he was also weary.
She snuggled in his embrace, wondering about the prank that Zeus had pulled on them this time – necessary, though it was! But the evening had begun with so much promise that the shock couldn’t have been greater. She gazed into his eyes and murmured: “You know, we don’t have to… rush into anything; we can just stay here resting a little while longer, before we go to the ceremony…”
As much as he expected those words, Max was agape to hear Liz saying them. They filled his heart with joy; she was looking out for him, she was always looking out for him! In answer to the gratitude swelling in his soul, he raised his hand and caressed her cheek. Her eyelids fluttered closed as she was swept away by the sensation; his palm felt like the sweetest kiss while each finger sent sparks that fueled the embers of her passion. Her feelings echoed inside him and magnified his own, making him rejoice at the knowledge. She blushed, regretting the timing of her reaction. As much as she dreamed about it, that had not been her intent. As much as she welcomed the feeling, that was not what Max needed in that moment.
Liz took a deep breath. “I meant what I said.” Her words were coated in a voice Max knew all too well: a refined, unwavering, deceptively meek tone, that left no room for debate.
“I know,” he nodded with a compliant smile. It could not be any other way. Her words and her constant dedication shielded him from all the world’s evils, and the depth of her feelings intoxicated him ever more, making his heart drum with greater vehemence, emulating that mysterious, immeasurable, sublime love.
Max could also feel the burdensome anguish – like a wound, open for far too long – that Liz carried in the most recondite corners of her heart… He wanted to get rid of that pain, he wanted to free her from the doubts that tormented her, but didn’t know how to help without causing further suffering… He knew, however, that if he did nothing, that wound would spread and rot what was left of her soul.
He took a deep breath, lifted her chin delicately, so she would face him. “Liz, being human is not a disadvantage… There’s no part of my soul that is alien to you… no occasion where your presence wouldn’t be vital. What just happened between us is proof of that.”
Liz blushed furiously. She never thought that Max could pay such close attention to their bond in the midst of his panic attack.
He continued in a soft murmur: “Everything you ever did for me… even before you got shot… no one else would ever think of doing. You did more than save my life tonight… You rescued my soul… with such devotion, such patience… without questions or doubts! You did what no one else could, Liz… No one else will ever love me that much!”
She had spent so much time carrying the weight of that darkness, but as his words whirled through every corner of her heart, sweeping all the onerous torment in their path, she couldn’t find any logical argument to refute him. The pain of the last few years burned in her throat, as if that incessant, infernal dialogue she had with herself had finally strangled her completely. Max’s words cleansed her soul, rendering her darkest thoughts meaningless, reducing them to the nothingness they should have always been. She tried to take a deep breath; the pressure of the pain, accumulated for so long, popped up like a champagne cork, and the tears ran freely, washing her soul. Her arms went around him and he enveloped her like a cocoon, letting her vent her pain away. She trembled for a few seconds but she treasured his hug… feeling all of her doubts abandoning her heart for good… feeling safe… feeling whole! With a breath of fresh air, peace and freedom surged in her heart with fierce intensity. Liz wondered if she was just picking up on Max’s feelings through their connection, but she soon concluded that her newfound feelings were mingling with his own, strengthening them even more. She smiled at that knowledge.
Part 6: Eighty-four Minutes
As in previous pivotal moments, Liz looked up at the sky and saw their stars burning majestically 5,000 light years away. Max put his arm around her and did the same. If someone were to surprise them at that moment, they would mistake the glow in their eyes for consummated love…
“I just wanted you to see them up there… I didn’t know all of this was going to happen,” Liz whispered. Max looked at her with a raised eyebrow that made her chuckle. “Really, I didn’t have any flashes about this. If we had come here just to gaze at our stars before returning to school, I would’ve been delighted…” she stated.
“Yeah… And here I was thinking a marriage proposal was a good idea, until you topped it by having stars registered in our name,” he smiled, holding her closer. The majesty of the stars above was minuscule compared to the feeling that engulfed them presently. They knew what dying and being brought back to life felt like, but dying while their hearts beat and being brought from the brink of suffering was a fresh stamp on their souls. “I’m beginning to think that Zeus is really watching us,” Max said, in a serious tone.
“Or an intelligent Universe, at least…” Liz agreed. “Do you feel like we’ve just been tested?”
“It felt like the test to end all tests,” he murmured, kissing the top of her head.
He let his lips linger, relishing in her embrace. He believed his words; their relationship had never been what one would call ‘untroubled’, but how could any test storm with greater violence than the one they just passed through? They dove, heart first, humble and full of faith, and were showered by the holy waters of a connection like no other – they felt purified by their bond, sanctified, even. They felt it thriving in their hearts: as strong as a living being, as delicate as a soap bubble…
Max and Liz didn’t dare to move, for a dreadful fear that their connection would burst the moment they resumed their routine. The tight grip of the world outside that building was something they wished to avoid at any costs – so many of their best moments had been cracked by that pressure…
Together in their embrace, they held peace in their hearts, and just waited… wondering if the omniscient Universe had something else in store for them… They gazed at each other for long moments in absolute stillness… the wise Universe was also quiet; there were no crickets chirping, not even coyotes howling in the distance…
“Where’s your watch?” Max whispered.
“Somewhere beneath our clothes,” Liz replied. He fumbled through the garments piled around them and found the small wristwatch in no time. “If it’s bad news, don’t tell me…” Liz sighed, fearing that their moment of peace had come to an end. She looked at him, slightly nervous, while he looked closely at the display, with an expression she could not decipher… but his emotions pumped in her heart with unmistakable certainty.
“We should go,” Max said, with a deep, gloomy breath.
Liz couldn’t help herself. “How much time?” She murmured, not really wanting the answer.
“We have eighty-five minutes,” Max declared, frustration tainting his usually warm voice. “We might as well march back to school.”
Liz closed her eyes briefly… Eighty-five minutes seemed like poor compensation for three years of constant struggle. And yet, as much as she understood Max’s disappointment, as much as she felt it herself, part of her wasn’t surprised. All of their moments had been nothing like they imagined them, and yet they hadn’t been at all bad. This new ‘less then ideal’ moment was no different from other instants in their relationship – times their love had polished to perfection.
She took a deep breath, looked closely at the watch, and took it from Max’s hands. “Time is a tyrant, if we let it,” she said, with a wishful smile.
Max smiled back, his sigh still heavy with disappointment. “I wanted to wait for an ideal time… I wanted to give you the perfect moment,” he murmured.
“We’ll never have ideal,” Liz stated. She could feel the harsh, painful bile in those words as they fell from her lips. “But we can make perfect,” she added, in an intrepid tone, and a hopeful gleam in her eyes.
Her tone made Max forget her previous words. Liz opened her hand and he took the little wristwatch, studying it for a moment, until he exhaled deeply – a smile gracing his gentle features.
“You’re right; eighty-four minutes is more than enough time before duty calls again,” he said, putting the wristwatch back in the pile of clothes. In the second it took for Max to turn around to face Liz again, his blazing love had extinguished the disappointment in his eyes.
“Perfect, don’t you think?” She asked in a playful tone, entwining her fingers with his. A gesture repeated numerous times during their relationship – one that, as comfortable and romantic as it felt, had never gotten their attention until that moment. The soft meeting of their palms and the laced fingers, snuggled up against each other… Their hands seemed fused.
Out of this union, a familiar warmth resurfaced in a jolt, traveling through them. They shared a look and their eyes burned with an intense will for what their hands shared. Max caressed her fingers, as he drew nearer: “My only wish was that we had no duty at all…” he mumbled, slowing down each syllable, brushing his lips against hers…
Her eyes fluttered closed as she savored the delicious softness of his inviting lips. His intentions were clear; his words matched his feelings; and yet, Liz couldn’t help but smile at his gentleness… his unsurprising Max-like gentleness at the situation they found themselves in… Even in that moment, he walked a fine line between his intense feelings and the wish to make the most out of whatever time they had with breathtaking nobility.
Feeling time now on his side, Max extended his hand. Her mind was filled with previous moments when that same gesture had honored her, and she had to smile at his same righteous conduct, even in the face of a new situation. How could Liz resist such invitation? Max leaned back and she followed him promptly, with a locked gaze.
Their smiles illuminated the dark New Mexico night. A gentle breeze seemed to bless them, imposing itself upon the balmy evening. Quickly, Max straightened the blanket that shielded them from the night – his last minute of divided attention. From that moment on, he just focused on Liz – on her delicate features and the love that emanated from her winsome eyes… the warmth of her smooth skin, the heady feeling of her body snug against his… her trembling breath mingling with his… her heart pressed against his chest, beating as wildly as his own… Max enfolded her slender waist with his arms, nestling himself between the softness of her thighs.
Part 7: Light Shining in the Darkness
His chiseled body molded deliciously against hers, and Liz knew that if he kept his arms around her like that she would just melt… She knew she was far gone; the first clue was her total inability to formulate coherent thoughts… There was no use opening her mouth now, she would just babble like a crazy person! After that loss, she would have no choice but to surrender to the whirlwind of emotions that rushed through her.
Liz knew she was facing a magnificent force that enabled animals and plants to thrive equally on this planet, but she could feel a force grander than that one – the grandest of them all – and, looking in Max’s eyes, she knew he felt it, too! She knew he wanted to fight the fog that had settled in his brain and would not let him think; wanted to escape the maelstrom of sensations that would soon force him to yield, stopping him from using limpid eyes to find his truest self in her heart.
But to resist Nature’s most beguiling spell was no easy task! Earlier that night, it had been somewhat easy to avoid, but now the challenge had been magnified tenfold. She could feel him so eager against her inner thighs… with his muscles brushing against her flushed skin. Somehow, it didn’t seem just Nature’s whim anymore… His eyes were narrow and he breathed deeply, trying to control his dizzying yearning. He was fighting his own desperate battle. It’s just hormones, she reasoned with herself. It shouldn’t be so difficult to thwart! She couldn’t lie to herself. In a moment, all will to resist would drain from her, and she would forget ever wanting anything else in her life other than to be with him. It’s not just hormones… it’s lust!, and it has been fermenting for three years! It’s like trying to stop a runaway train with our pinky toes, she thought. Hey, this metaphor makes sense. She smiled. Maybe there was some hope after all. As that surge grew in intensity, so did their refusal to obey it.
For a long time, their resolve teetered on the edge of their passion… but they held steady, strengthened in the knowledge of a force that surpassed all others, driven by the embrace of an abysmal love that was just there, waiting for their patience to transcend the exhilarating fever of their desire. Every breath was dedicated to creating a state of deep relaxation… Little by little, each second seemed to expand as the space between their inhalations and exhalations widened. After an immeasurable time, Liz felt her heart beating happy and calm once more, pounding together with Max’s. She beamed at him, feeling their love as it kept expanding.
Max was amazed by the woman Liz had become. He had witnessed her stepping up at every occasion in her life, and now, her strength, her perseverance, her patience had paid off once more. Max was wreathed by the rhythm of her soft puffs of air warming his cheeks, by her solid heartbeat pounding in his chest, by her blood blazing through his veins, and with the greatest clarity, by her love binding with his soul. He beamed at her. The darkness could not obscure the sparkle in her eyes, that triumphant glitter, the glow of the brightest love overflowing from her. As she bent over him, Max felt the silky luscious caress of her hair cascading on his cheeks. A familiar wave of jasmine filled his nose, while her fingers stroke the back of his head gently, inundating him with incredible tingles… She touched her forehead to his – they could still see each other under the sleek curtain. They were amazed that the moon’s absence did nothing to impair their vision.
Each one had the details of the other’s eyes etched in their memory, or perhaps the strength of their bond allowed them to see each other so perfectly in the most absolute darkness! Yes, it was the stoutness of their connection that allowed them to see well beyond the iris.
Liz enjoyed an appeasing understanding; since she saw Max for the first time, her soul had started to revolve around a new orbit. At such an early age, it was impossible for her to grasp the strength of that unfamiliar emotion, unimaginable to recognize what her soul so ardently yearned for… That emotion had puzzled her for years, frightened her even! Time had helped her to get acquainted with those feelings, helped her to understand them, but until that moment, she had never felt them so clearly. She wished to give him every part of her soul, every inch of her flesh… Never before had this longing been so profound.
Max’s feelings for Liz – a human – had once been a concern, but since he had come to terms with them, they had never again troubled him; their greatness was too beautiful for him to see them as anything but a blessing in his hapless existence. Time had only magnified them in his heart. Feeling her most ardent aspirations, Max couldn’t help but to look at her with increased wonderment and Liz smiled because she knew. Overwhelmed by her emotions, he held her closer in his arms and let out a shaky sigh.
It felt wonderful – as if his spirit was touching her face – as smooth as a kiss. Liz inhaled it, entranced by his perfume. His strength was outstanding… not of his arms around her, but rather what this gesture revealed – his sense of reverence, his complete lack of pretension, and the grandeur of his surrender. Max had gone through a multitude of things, but she would’ve never known it by looking at him. His emotions didn’t carry the weight of that past, they were very genuine, very pure, very raw, but it was his willingness to feel, his willingness to share his heart with her that shook and humbled her. Max deserved all the best that life could give him, but Liz didn’t want to be on the sidelines. She wanted to give him everything that life denied him, wanted to give herself to him at least, if she couldn’t give him anything else in life. Her breathing became slower and gentler as she felt his strength and his vulnerability in his slow and warm puffs of air. She took her time absorbing them, entranced by their rhythm, her eyes lingering at the tip of his nose…
They were exposed to the night and to the rugged elements, but Liz was unfazed by the Roswellian darkness and the harshness of the balcony. Max’s enveloping aroma and the solid strength of his body were like a venerable spell that left her wondering if letting her live until that day hadn’t been the Universe’s plan all along… It was so natural for her to feel safe with him, but she had never felt so good about herself until that moment; never in her most ardent wishes had she imagined that her need for comfort and shelter would be so easy to attain.
Liz rubbed her nose against his in a playful movement. A wave of warm tingles permeated them, rising from their feet to the top of their heads; it enveloped them, cuddled them, and inflamed them like a full-bodied thrill. His eyes roamed over her face as she gazed at him, caressing the back of his head lovingly, as if asking for permission.
Max raised his head from the pillow and brushed his lips over hers in a slow and inviting gesture.
She sighed, closing her eyes involuntarily, tasting his wish as it lingered on her lips.
He felt her trembling above him; he was struck by what her eyes told him, and he couldn’t help but tremble himself as he held her closely to him.
Liz parted his lips with hers.
In the few seconds it took him to close his eyes, Max realized, dumbfounded, that he had never been kissed like that. How come he didn’t foresee her gesture? How could Liz have saved that kiss for that very moment? He could feel an immense rush of emotion through their bond; he had never thought a human heart could handle love like that… or an alien heart, for that matter.
Their bond pulsed in sync with their hearts, animated by the feelings they shared with one another; a love that begot so much more love, and expanded their bond’s solidity.
Despite its soundness, Max smiled to himself, overjoyed and grateful for her surprise. Some things never changed, though… His stomach still rumbled as her lips caressed his; only now, the sensation seemed to reverberate throughout his entire body. Each kiss was like a wrapped gift – one after the other, no two ever alike, and Max delighted in the flavor of them all. They did nothing but spur his eagerness for more kisses.
He buried his hands in her smooth hair and deepened the kiss. From her lips came the breath of life – the only sustenance he would ever want. He rubbed her shoulders with his palms, tenderly, before letting his fingers trail lazy patterns down her back. Her skin seemed to get warmer as he traveled down; he could feel her arching against his touch and purring sweetly into his right ear as she nibbled it. His hands rested on her hips, as if they were his final destination. He treasured the heat of those exquisite curves; then he swerved, abandoning them, leaving only coldness where his touch had been.
Liz felt his steady arms falling, slowly but surely, to his sides. She raised her eyebrows, despite her complete lack of surprise. She was awestruck and thrilled by his gesture, and was incapable of restraining a proud smile.
It was a picture worthy of contemplation – the coolness of his gesture rivaled his heated skin and the fire blazing in his eyes. How could such disparate feelings inhabit the same body?! On one side there was him, thoroughly licking his swollen lips as if he could still taste her, and on the other side was his carefully calculated move. His eyes shone with the strength of someone who had total mastery of his feelings; with the wisdom of a boy who had leaped across the chasm of the two disparate forces to turn into a man.
A rush of emotion filled her heart at his triumphant gesture. The rest of his body couldn’t quite keep up yet, but his hands told her everything she needed to know. His gesture was the culmination of his sympathy, his friendship, his trust and his unconditional love.
There was nothing sweeter or more revealing than that gesture, and Liz smiled because she knew exactly what to do next. Once again, she brushed her fingertips over his chest. Her doting fingers – five, and then five more – roamed down his chest like heated kisses. Still, there was no glow, but unlike last time, she could feel his skin trembling with her delicate touch.
She was amazed at the way his breath caught in his throat as he abandoned himself to her hands. She gulped, astonished by the power of those ten small pads of skin…
Her fingers caressed him for a while, before her right palm rested on his chest, like an anchor on his heart. She felt it beat for her, strong and happy, matching the love in his eyes.
Max grinned from ear to ear when he felt the tips of her fingers beating in the same rhythm, as if her heart was answering his.
Without wasting another beat, Liz put her lips over his heart, answering him with a warm, rapturous kiss. The most generous of kisses, one that delivered the promise she had made to him earlier that night; her greatest gift – her love, her life, her very self. The gentle strength of her lips entered his heart, her warmth melting ecstatically into him, creating a mild uplift, and that love that he recognized as part of him climbed his body in a growing tide of totally new thrills.
Max felt his heart expanding… those delicious tremors flooding his soul, rolling up his body, growing in waves, until the initial thrill was revived as a soft, hot pulse that echoed throughout all of him. Just as it had echoed through Liz earlier that night… those same tides of joy, fulfillment, and unbridled ecstasy that stirred through all of him. Max felt himself trembling again; every part of his body reminding him of Liz’s experience. The glimmer in her eyes assured him that she shared his thoughts.
His answer to her caresses was an honor to her, one she sought to elevate to unknown heights. Her fingers trailed his skin, slowly, with renewed sense of purpose, feeling his body relaxing under her touch. Her fingers felt the details of his bones, of his nerves and taut muscles, as her palms lingered on his skin, igniting her hands and reaching her heart.
His eyes followed her hands – the instruments of her will – as they roamed over his body.
She kissed him again, wanting to give him all she was. Sweet, tender lips, and enthusiastic warm hands roamed his body, in a wish to memorize him whole.
His body mirrored her feelings with an intensifying strength, a vibrancy that spread all over him and gained momentum in its ascending course.
Her love was becoming almost visible in its magnitude… She could see it rooting itself in that sensitive spot, crossing other parts of the body and dispersing in multiple directions, forming a kind of shimmering grid. Certain points, where a greater number of lines intersected, were more intense than others. Liz could not explain what her eyes were telling her, even if there was really nothing to be seen; but when she looked back at Max, she noticed his knowing smile. Yes, whatever it was that she was seeing, Max had seen it before as well. That blessing – whether alien or otherwise – enabled her heart to learn his rhythms thoroughly. It was a sacred map, a matrix of eternally interconnected paths, and she would follow each of its tracks, inch by inch. She would make this their most momentous journey – his happiness would be her zenith, her Everest.
Liz felt Max’s breath catch in his throat as her hands hovered over him. She could feel the heat emanating from his body, even with her hands inches away… Her fingers – elegant, playful and charged with emotion – met his hips, his navel, and the play of his solid muscles. She could feel his dormant power and the thrill in his smooth skin, as all her love was slowly spread in ten directions.
For Max, that moment was a study in contradictions. Liz’s light touch hid the most powerful jolt of love he had ever felt – a warm, vibrant energy that mixed with his own and enhanced it, somehow – and he felt a fiery, buzzing energy flourishing in his body, intoxicating him with the sweetest pleasure. At the same time, he had never been so relaxed in his life! He was tempted to think that the glorious ecstasy he was feeling wasn’t coming from his body at all, only from his soul. He saw the love brilliant in her eyes; a force that emanated effortlessly from her youthful gaze, one she seemed to have absolute power over. Her touch was curious, but deliberate; the love that shone in her eyes caressed him with the same delight as her hands. Her hands explored his skin with a slow eagerness; her touch was delicious and comforting as a hug given after a long separation. She was so attuned with his energy, his mind, his skin… How could she know such intimate details, if he had never uttered them out loud?! He exhaled a gradual and contented breath, trusting her instincts, and relaxing even further.
While her kisses and caresses circled through him, her love trailed new paths on his skin, growing on itself, mingling with his emotions and ingraining itself in his soul. This languor was spreading through parts of his spirit he didn’t know existed… It was a strange new feeling: not at all familiar, not at all distasteful!… It continued to bloom, to proliferate in his deepest self, rolling up his body – like a snowball breaking the laws of gravity – spreading ecstasy and serenity. Would that mean they were no longer confined to the laws of Nature?! Were they making their own laws?!
Max smiled, thrilled by the possibility…
Part 8: The Bonds of Forever
Without a warning, he pulled Liz closer. The unexpected gesture snatched a chuckle from her, which quickly turned into laughter, ‘till they were facing each other once more.
“It’s really difficult to stay still, isn’t it?” Liz asked.
Max shook his head. “Not really… You were just too far away,” he laughed.
“I know what you mean,” she mumbled.
It was the strangest thing… they touched each other across the abyss that separated them still, in a never materialized eagerness to unite.
Something in him was different… something that immediately caught her attention… Liz studied him, utterly fascinated by the change in him. His eyes sparkled; stripped of the disproportionate weight they carried since the day she first met him. With this haunting burden now removed, love poured freely from his gaze.
Her loving arms wrapped around him in a warm, languid movement, stroking his nape as he shivered under her fingers.
His own fingers did not remain idle; his arms draped around her waist in one fluid motion while his fingertips circled the curve of her hips. Those resolute fingers lingered on her waist, fascinated, rising slowly and trailing her back, her shoulders and her arms, in a soundless appeal that she would never let him go. He had to swallow hard when he focused his attention on her thighs as they cradled his hips. Her whole body cushioned against his – warm and every inch so inviting – was the most sensual thing he had ever felt. His own skin heated up, as if agreeing with hers. Her usually sweet fragrance was becoming delectable in his nostrils; it seemed as if her perfume was enveloping his entire being. He smiled when he noticed a charming blush greeting her cheeks, and then he fixed his gaze on her. Her eyes bored into his with stirring intensity.
Usually, a look like that was inebriating enough to make his blood boil and for the powerful current of the whirlpool of emotions that consumed him to drag him to oblivion… So why was he still conscious? Most importantly: why was Liz so calm? Well, even if they couldn’t have a connection as powerful as the one they shared, Liz’s demeanor left no room for doubt about her feelings in that moment… Max could easily read them in her clear brown eyes… Was the relaxation that they fought to conquer for themselves – just like their connection previously – permanent now?!
Max was at the center of that huge swirl of feelings, immune to the cussed current that would haul him into that benign spell that Nature put on all of its creatures. Those inflamed feelings were as vivid as an inferno, with its ever rising sultry flames licking at him without ever scorching his flesh. Would his heart truly be able to contain all that flurry of sensations in its depths?
“Closer?” Liz purred, her lips brushing against his.
Max nodded with a mischievous smile. He wanted nothing less than the warmth of her body forever etched in his!
She pulled away for a second and they gazed at each other again. The promise of something big seemed to loom in the hot puffs of air she gifted him with.
While wondering what Liz might do next, he felt her lower lip brushing against his upper lip… Max’s eyelids fluttered closed at the feeling; no matter how playful the gesture was, or how small the area of her attentions, her whole earnestness and passion converged on that gesture and expanded on that diminutive area… It made him blush to the roots of his soul!
His response was swift – he brushed her bottom lip, enfolding it in a lush surge, greater than the one she had started, exulting in her deliberate patience, trying to match her diligence, trying to stretch that moment before she could react…
Her supple lips worshiped the corners of his mouth, touching him lightly, and backed away for a second, before tempting him with more. Some unruly strands of her hair cascaded over his face, cupping his cheeks with their silky quality. While Liz traced the corners of his mouth, he parted his lips, deepening the kiss. They could feel their hearts calmly thudding in each other’s lips, exhorting them to take their time to rejoice in their embrace. Each kiss was smooth, slow and timeless as an ocean wave, perpetually fondling the golden sands. Each kiss was less arousing and more calming, less playful and more consuming. He wrapped his arms around her, tangling his fingers in her hair, hoping she wouldn’t stop it this time. She deepened the kiss, as if she wanted to reassure him. In other times, he would’ve considered it a bold action, but her languid movement was so unhurried that he let out a sigh of relief. She wanted to savor their moment together just as much as he did; it was as if by slowing down their kiss she could slow down Time itself. Their lips melded tenderly against each other, and their tongues played freely in the safe haven of their kiss.
They only relinquished this sanctuary when their yearning to shine in the unity their loving swollen lips had experienced became undeniable. They saw that feeling mirrored in each other’s eyes, as if a beacon from their hearts was showing them the way.
Max gulped (as if preparing to say something) but Liz smiled and rested two fingers on his burning lips. Her touch told him everything he needed to hear. Her hands strolled delicately around the contours of his firm chest. His left hand stopped hers as it found his heart resonating against her palm. It was not an abrupt or immoderate gesture at all; it was a simple touch, an invitation to contemplate the panorama of his soul. Liz didn’t know what it was exactly, but something in his meek gesture shook her with a force that almost tossed her back to that whirlwind of emotions they both had worked so hard to overcome. She could feel that sweet primal fog tangling her thoughts again… She wanted to kiss him senseless, to envelop him in her love constantly, so that she could thank him appropriately for offering her his greatest treasure. Max’s hands sliding down her waist and resting on her hips wasn’t exactly helping her snap out of that fog… It wasn’t helping him, either… Oh, it was enough for the sanest person to lose her mind!
His hands didn’t move any further, though… He was just trying to steady her – she could feel it. After a deep cleansing breath, Liz felt the fog receding again. Max blinked in relief. A sense of wonder and awe soared in her heart: for his patience, his enviable composure, and his burning desire to not let anything interfere with their love. A long, conscious breath took her back to their sanctuary.
In the quietude of her unfaltering heart, she yearned to find a proper answer to his gesture, a proper way to thank him… but, perhaps, it was impossible to reciprocate… perhaps the only way to honor his gift would be to mirror his offering… Maybe even increase it!
Max’s gaze shifted between her descending fingers and her lively eyes; there was a mystery in them, a hint, perhaps… The adoration he felt from her through their bond magnified, while her eyes gleamed with an intensity he knew all too well. Yes, he could see ideas taking form in her glittering gaze – an understanding all their own that made him smile instinctively.
Her hands moved with strengthened purpose over the skin of his abdomen and continued on their journey. While his eyes followed Liz’s actions, Max let out a sigh, rapt by the tenderness of her hand on its southerly trail. Ever since the minute they embraced their relationship, he had devoted countless hours thinking about how this moment would be between them; but in the middle of the ‘wheres’, the ‘whens’ and the ‘hows’, was it really possible he had never thought about this scenario?! Of all propositions, none made as much sense as this one, none seemed as right as this one. It wouldn’t feel so right if he had imagined it, though… He wondered if Liz’s imagination had ever ventured that far… The conviction of her movements seemed a good enough answer; yet, the surprise sparkling in her eyes told a very different tale. He knew then why he was smiling – her surprised echoed his own, after all.
Liz could feel his passion and his readiness blazing underneath that enchanting cloak of relaxation; a fact that would be fatally unnoticed by anyone else. He was aware that she could feel the fire blazing in his heart, even if the flames weren’t consuming his body. That miracle they shared, their bond, would not let her be deceived by what her eyes told her. Her hands slid uninhibited down his thighs, in slow motion, resting there, in the most eloquent gesture he had ever witnessed.
They gazed at each other; her eyes reflected her passion as it rose, grew and widened, equaling his own. She took him in her loving palms in a tacit invitation.
Max couldn’t help a soft intake of breath when he felt her warmth seeping into his sensitive skin, and he answered her with an abandoned smile. He wanted nothing but to immerse himself in that love that was radiating from her, to merge completely with her, as their lips had done just seconds before. He watched her, amazed… Liz was holding him with a fervent half-lidded gaze that made his pulse quicken in sheer jubilation.
She straddled his hips. It was a seemingly inconspicuous gesture, but of a monumental importance to him – not so much for the gesture itself, but for the intent it carried. Her eyes were affectionately dark, and her rosy cheeks could be seen perfectly in the Roswell night. Her determination transfixed and warmed him, causing a thrill of anticipation to flare through his whole body.
Is she really doing this?! It didn’t seem possible that this was happening… As far-fetched as all of this seemed, these puzzling forces were manifesting before him: her reverential touch, so passionately charged, mimicked his blazing heart inside his cool body, and the second that took her to subtly raise her hips seemed to stretch for centuries! Then, everything changed, when she touched him a microsecond later. Max shuddered at the contact.
Only then did his incredulity begin slipping away… Max was flooded with a strong sense of relief… That mellow feeling afforded him the golden opportunity to realize that he had once felt what Liz was sharing with him now – a feeling that had been hidden even from him. It was a most welcomed epiphany! His eyes rose slowly until they settled on hers.
Liz’s eyes fluttered as if she was struggling to keep them open against the waves of sensation that rushed through her. Max looked down to where they would soon unite, and let out a frustrated sigh that things weren’t happening the way he so often imagined… Liz could feel his disquiet blushing on her cheeks.
Her response was swift; he felt a tremendous serenity imbuing him, and joining his own. Once he had embraced that feeling, a prodigious force took hold of him, lifting a long, cumbersome veil from his psyche. In that moment, he recognized it, as though it were a friend he had not seen for many years.
It was curious that when he felt that same force, as he stepped out of the bus as a child, he didn’t need to explain it to himself. (His youth wouldn’t have the words, anyway). Years of rationalism and a turbulent existence took over, and the force lost some of its luster. Now, that same inexplicable force came back with a vengeance, and with it, all the purity of his childhood, drawing him again to that girl, that woman he loved above all else.
The power of this magnetic force was unfamiliar to them; yet, they embraced it, eager to learn this new language of energy. This force was consuming and reassuring; they abandoned themselves to it, trusting the path through which it was guiding them.
Max nodded, his shimmering eyes asking for permission…
Liz’s own eyes softened, realizing that he now believed that the path of that higher purpose could be traveled despite its tortuousness. Her eyes shone with an inviting glow; she shifted her position above him and welcomed him in again.
That subtle movement seized Max; that unsuspected thrill swept through his soul and his body, making him want to scream at the top of his lungs, to make sure the world knew how blessed he was feeling. But with all his energies so absorbed in those unique sensations, the only sound that escaped his lips was a faint moan. That avalanche of sensations that Liz knew were not hers, but merged with hers, filling her body and soul, extracted an unusual sigh from her.
That passion of theirs (that they had tamed with so much patience and effort) had been simmering, unable to consume them, but their union revived it, like a warm gust of wind that transformed into a fiery whirlwind. He wanted her now as never before; and to be allowed to feel that desire in all its plenitude, complete with such a startling lack of urgency – how could anything be better than this?!
Growing waves of gratitude emanating from her slowly covered his entire being, answering his question. Each wave became stronger, overwhelming, truer than every inch of sublime friction that brought them inexorably closer together. In a slowness that anticipated the most delightful of all contemplations, the sensations poured through them, flooding them, soaking them in an exquisite feeling.
All her doubts faded away the moment she realized they were, in fact, made from the same primordial mold, and now it was their turn to come together. She tightened her legs around him, reveling in that magical feeling of how well they fitted together.
What were you so worried about?! The thought thundered in his mind, unannounced.
He watched her with new eyes, adoringly, as if looking at a goddess, wholly enveloped in her warmth and sweetness. Liz’s gaze reflected a bare light whose luminescence radiated over his conscience. All the strength, courage, honor, devotion and love (traits he feared had never existed or thought were defunct by the trials of life) shone now before his eyes. That was how Liz saw him, his truest self – an unusual and welcomed sight! His new awareness rendered him unable to recall the reason of his earlier terror; he would never hurt Liz!
His eyes widened as he drank in the sight of her… she was so serene above him… her soft sighs filled his ears, and made him tremble with the contentment she emanated… he inhaled a lungful of air… the sweet fragrance that she alone possessed permeated him with a curious intensity that made him believe that was the safest of places… it both soothed him and invigorated him… his hands cupped her hips, basking in the sensual touch of her smooth skin, feeling her tingling everywhere…
Then, Liz leaned over him, – her luxuriant canopy of silky strands feathering around his face – took him between her palms and kissed him… a kiss sweeter than the sweetest molasses! Her tender lips were offering him her being. Her entire being. All for him! Liz’s arms surrounded him. It was a peaceful triumph; without fanfare, but as magical as a fairy tale kiss. That embrace had a unique warmth, an immense kindness and an unwavering assurance – there was no more comfortable place in the universe! The heavenly feeling of her velvety caress meant that not a molecule stood between them anymore.
That magnetic force they both had felt when they first saw each other shone brightly in their souls, as if it were an ancient beacon: inviting them, beckoning them, guiding them… The flames rose up in their souls as a sacred bonfire. Max felt her melt around him as the flames engulfed them both.
Mind meeting mind, soul meeting soul, body meeting body: like a divine combination for a mystical lock, those were the terms of their covenant with that magnetic force, and soon – they realized – the key to their emancipation. As that divine magnetism blazed in their souls, Liz was enraptured by the vivacity it imprinted on their every gesture and every glance. The secrets of every touch and every kiss were revealed, as if a long lost treasure chest had finally been opened.
Emotions emerged from the far reaches of their souls, flowing to their skin, to their hands and to their lips, in a continuous stream of caresses and kisses, from him, to her, to him, as two circles of a lemniscate. Everything began and ended in this moment; every time Liz dreamt of a future alongside Max, the moment they exchanged their first kiss, all the sweat and tears spilled during the difficult times, and all the majesty of that marriage proposal, were designed to sanctify this moment. The current of emotions they gave and received from each other was eternal and widely amplified by the magic of being lavished with the familiarity of each other’s feelings. That entrancing expression of their bond enveloped them, overflowing their souls and their bodies, setting the rhythm of their movements.
All the sensations they shared among them were multiplied times two, creating endless waves of amplified feelings. The abyssal power of that expansion impelled them to move slowly and sporadically. But even that gentle pace threatened to overfill their bodies with the pleasure erupting from their molten desire.
Liz realized their moment would be abruptly interrupted; all their efforts would be purposeless if they kept that rhythm… Max felt her apprehension emerging in his spirit, but before he could react, Liz gazed at him in absolute quietness and he felt the echo of his own words – we can’t let this moment end!
Max grinned and his thankful hands roamed her body in a solemn, almost liturgical touch, with a delight of someone enjoying their favorite landscape. The absence of movement focused their attention back to their union.
What a wondrous feeling; that magnetic flame had engulfed them altogether, melting away their bodies and souls, making it impossible to distinguish where one ended and the other began! They could still feel their hands, arms and legs but, in some mysterious way, they were becoming formless. Max felt Liz’s warm breath caressing his face as his eyes beheld hers, and they mused on the joyous flames that consumed them so. That was a slow-dissolving process (part puzzling, part hallowed), that threatened to change their nature, free them and give them a new form.
As that magnetic pull kept growing inside them, they felt enveloped in it as if it were a cosmic cocoon where Time could never again interfere. They had already felt that Time couldn’t catch up with them, but it had been a small taste of freedom, seconds, minutes perhaps… Now it was different. These minutes were expanding and they seemed timeless to them now.
Their stillness made them realize that something grander was happening to them: their hearts were reverberating with the hot, thrilling energy of that magnetic force. The warmth tingling in their chests started simmering less gently, threatening to overflow the confines of their hearts. Their glimmering eyes widened, surprised by the power of the emotion that welled inside them, and they kissed again, when they felt their hearts yielding to the love that ran free through their bodies, becoming one with it. That warmth grew torrid, sprawling in increasingly robust waves throughout their bodies. Each caress was saturated in that magnetic, sumptuous love that soaked through their skin, their internal organs and made their blood boil, stirring every cell in their bodies. This satiety became their foundation. It was as if this joyance had wrapped them in its cosmic embrace. Their love was permeating their every cell in an immense rapture, soothing and enduring. The mixture of the combined energy they exuded was a boundless string (beyond all forces) that animated every electron, every quark, every atom, every molecule, every cell of Life.
Their bodies were purged of their mundane substance and filled again with a holy substance. Their egos’ ashes dispersed, colliding with the heavenly weight of that bond that enveloped their souls.
They hummed and trembled all over, unable to contain the magnitude of their own energy. This ecstasy vibrating through them now was something that had permeated the Universe since its inception. A smile blossomed on their lips when they saw this everlasting force shine in each other’s eyes. That gleam was free of any questions or contradictions; its beauty was ineffable, its tenderness was boundless, and its depth was timeless!
Liz lowered her head and her burning lips met his once more in a triumphant kiss, drinking the sweet nectar from his lips. Max delighted in the utmost eloquence of that gesture and held her closer still. That body and spirit that he embraced as his greatest treasure was a mate of his own, and that desire for unity that had haunted them since before they were born was now sated, at last. That was the only medicine for all maladies of their souls, their fountain of youth – their long-awaited home!
From a distance came a breath of air, impossibly hot for that late hour; it was a joyous, compelling energy that matched this new gust of power that had emerged from their hearts and had taken hold of their entire beings. The paradox of the puff’s heat and the late hour made them think that it was more than just air moving about; it was almost as if the Universe was exhaling, happy for them, blessing them!
Author’s Notes: For O2Shea, who believed in this story from the beginning. I could never have done this without your support!
Author’s Notes: The Epilogue contains references about Melinda Metz’s The Watcher, “Sexual Healing”, “Leaving Normal” and “Blind Date”.
The mystery was extinguished and the flame of understanding shone brightly between them; so brightly that for long moments they were unable to do anything other than admire each other, while that luxuriant energy steadied within them.
Everything seemed so magic: not in the illusory sense, but as if they had legitimately been born again. And just like newborns, words were inappropriate, irrelevant, and incapable of expressing what had happened between them or what they were feeling at that moment.
Having answers to questions they didn’t even know they had made them feel relaxed, happy and blissful. The Universe was an intricate but orderly soul, like a benevolent parent, full of tenderness and acceptance, whose single aim was to unify all that was and would ever be at its core like an immense hug.
They felt indescribably grateful for that exuberant love and incessant bliss. The Cosmos’ intrinsic cozy eternity took the fear of the passage of Time and Death away from them, making them realize that they would always be together. Love was the only constant that vibrated through Space, through the Ages… Could there ever be a greater fortune than to embody such a coveted secret?!
“I’d like nothing more than to spend the rest of the night here, making love with you,” Liz cooed, caressing his face with her palms.
Max savored the galvanizing effect of those honeyed words and that charming touch. He swallowed hard and let out a contained sigh. “‘The rest of the night’ sounds wonderful… The rest of our lives sounds even better, doesn’t it…?” He asked, in an eager tone, enfolding her in his arms.
“Much, much better!” Liz whispered, wrapping her arms around his neck, and playfully rubbing her nose against his.
“Then again, you’d never disappoint your parents by missing a graduation ceremony,” he sighed, with a knowing smile. “I bet they’ve been dreaming about nothing else for the past year!”
Liz let out a gentle laugh. True to his spirit, Max wanted her all to himself, without depriving her from the company of her loved ones. He was protecting the wishes of a man who had done his best to chase him away… His words were of her deepest interests, and to know he held them so close to his heart rendered her speechless. Their nobility made her knees tremble and she melted into him with a profound admiration shining in her eyes.
“You’re such a tease!” She said, with a playful grin. She lowered her lips to his and Max felt all her gratitude in that tender kiss. His thrilled hands roamed a lazy path from her shoulders, resting on the small of her back. “So let’s go to the ceremony,” Liz whispered against his lips.
What ceremony? Max mused, amazed at how such a virtuous kiss could steer him away from his noble intentions. He had to say something quickly before he lost his nerve. “Besides, do you really think I’d miss the opportunity to see the most beautiful, the most intelligent girl in this world, receiving the laurels she deserves,” he asked with a jaunty smile.
“You can’t be serious,” Liz said, laughing again.
“I’m as serious as your serious effort to make up for lost time! I want to be on the front row seat to cheer you in your glorious moment,” he said, with an endless smile, feeling her blush burning on his cheeks.
Liz could feel his excitement rippling through her; his words didn’t even begin to cover how proud he was of her. Liz took a deep breath. “We should get going, then…” she said, smiling at him.
Max joined Liz in a quick shower, even though he hadn’t brought any change of clothes along. Happiness spilled from their palms as they massaged each other, spreading the aromatic lather evenly. The steam swirled around them, thicker and thicker, but the hot water couldn’t compete with the warmth they felt beneath their skin. That dulcet and bewitching energy flowed vividly through them, warming them like no water could; something they had feared would be lost upon their return to the world. The awareness of this entrancing presence intensified it further, and they shared a knowing, victorious smile.
Liz could hardly believe her eyes when Max reached for the rack… Her jaw dropped slowly while he wrapped her in a fluffy towel, rekindling that lost fantasy.
“You really know how to get a girl’s attention,” she smiled, feeling the emotion well up in her eyes.
“There’s more where that came from,” he said, taking a terry towel for himself. “And the rest of the night is ours!”
Liz pulled him by the edges of the towel, threw her arms around his neck and peppered him with kisses along his jaw, moving to his cheeks, and reaching his lips. Then, in a swift movement, she playfully rubbed his head with the towel. She couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight of his tousled hair. Infected by her good humor, Max started a contagious laughing fit that lasted several minutes.
“Has Michael spoken to you about having experienced anything even remotely like this?” Liz wondered.
Max could barely contain a giggle when he saw Liz putting her head outside of the bathroom, with her hair half combed, as if she couldn’t wait another second, as if curiosity had overwhelmed her. “No,” he said, shaking his head thoughtfully. “Maria…?” He asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Nothing at all…! And she would’ve said something if there was something to tell… I’m sure of it!” Max turned around, let out a relieved sigh, and resumed tying his shoes. His mind became abstracted from his chore and he focused on that comfortable energy he shared with Liz… His lips parted in an enraptured smile; it was more than obvious that what had happened between the two of them had no precedent for any of their friends, in any book they had read… This was, quite possibly, a unique event in the history of humanity!
Max observed as Liz walked past him with her regal step, heading for the wardrobe and getting her commencement gown out. He leaned back on the bed and watched as she put it on in front of the mirror.
Another feeling blazed under that fiery red gown… a modest amount of academic pride and recognition of the magnitude of hard work that had granted her the honor of wearing that outfit. As his pride expanded in her heart, Liz watched him from the corner of her eye.
Max got up from the bed in a fluid, noiseless movement, and went to Liz, never once blinking away from the apple of his eye. His hand slid down from her waist to her hips, cupping her. She leaned into him, melting into his embrace as he wrapped his arms around her. His hands slid around her waist, as if there were no barriers between them, and the exquisite warmth emanating from his palms filled them and lulled them to the core of their souls.
She felt the depth of that compelling foundation in every sub-atomic particle surrounding them. That loving energy vibrating through every elementary particle was the only permanent and indissoluble thing that existed. Liz grinned as every cell in her body waltzed to that new rhythm, that soothing thrill.
Their hearts had been attuned to each other with metronomic precision, and enveloped in the sublime flame of love. She threw her head back in a quiet and contented gesture, and Max couldn’t resist covering her with soft kisses – her cheek, her neck, and that sensitive spot behind her ear.
“If you keep kissing me like that, I’m not taking responsibility for what happens next, and then we’ll be late to the ceremony,” Liz chortled.
Max stopped mid-kiss, his eager lips on her flushed cheek while he remained perfectly still, glancing at her, weighing the pros and cons… He moved away with a lively step, almost leaping across the bedroom. His eyes were fixed on the mortarboard, forgotten on the edge of the bed, and he glanced at Liz again, with a proud smile. He picked it up slowly, crossed the room in a solemn step and placed it on Liz’s head, as if it were a crown. He straightened the cap on her head and turned the tassel to the right, admiring her for a moment, as one admires a Michelangelo’s fresco.
Liz felt a rush of emotion well up in her heart until the tears blurred her eyes.
“I’ll spend the rest of my days making sure this magical light never leaves your eyes.” Max whispered, caressing her cheek. Liz smiled, but Max saw a hidden feeling lurking behind her admiration.
His jaw tightened; he knew she could feel his ambivalence – how could he not want to stay there with her for the rest of the night, for the rest of his life?!… “Shall we go to the ceremony?”
Liz took a long breath and met his gaze. “Well, like you said, the rest of the night is ours…” They were going to enjoy their graduation ceremony and the rest of the night would belong to them; they would sleep intertwined, in an embrace that would make Francesca and Paolo blush with envy.
“Can we have a little treat before we go?” Liz asked, with an enticing smile.
Max cocked his head to the side and studied her face, trying to foresee her plan; then, he closed one eye, as if he was beating his brains out… His goofy expression made Liz laugh out loud.
“You’re gonna love it! Come on,” she said, holding out her hand to him.
While his mind considered what the surprise could consist of, his arm rose willingly, taking her smooth hand, which carried him with her promptly. They flew down the stairs and into the kitchen. With the lights out, and the stove turned off, the kitchen was a cold, gloomy and uninviting place – the opposite of what they were used to.
Liz, however, didn’t need great mental focus to remember the steam billowing around them while they kissed, and she was certain that Max didn’t, either. In those moments, they were the center of the universe; they lived their rightful passion while, on the other side of the kitchen, the rest of the world was completely out of whack. The memory coursed through her like a pleasant shiver, making her smile. “You know, I think you better go sit down in your booth, I’ll be with you shortly,” she said, leading him through the door.
Max smiled, kept his questions to himself and walked towards his usual booth. He had barely warmed the seat when a delicious aroma pulled him out of the seat. He stuck his head inside the door and said, “Either you put a clothes pin on my nose, or you let me in… I can’t stay back there, because I can smell whatever it is you’re cooking in here!”
“Dang…” Liz said, stamping her foot on the floor. She gestured for him to come in.
“Hey, don’t look so defeated,” Max said, entering the kitchen. “If it’s really that important to you, you can add a blindfold to the clothes pin… or… you can let me stay here and make me swear a blood oath.”
Liz sighed, defeated, and Max approached her with a lively bounce in his step. “Are you cooking what I think you’re cooking? Because the aroma is awfully familiar…” He murmured.
“It’s exactly what you think it is,” Liz said, with an impish smile.
“Great! It’s been too long since I’ve had one of these,” Max said, swallowing hard, barely able to contain his excitement.
“You’ve never had one quite like this before, Max, I can assure you… The Crashdown uses a watered down version of this recipe,” she revealed, with an enthusiastic tone and a smile to match. “What I mean is, well, uhm… You see… I created a stronger version of the original Crashdown recipe.”
Max felt a deep thrill go through him; he swallowed hard, trying to appease the eagerness of his taste buds, realizing that, if Liz was going to turn that recipe up to eleven, then the best was yet to come – a kind of best he had never known! Max took a deep breath, trying to focus on the present moment – there was a vaguely familiar whiff in the air of boundless possibilities, just like on that day, when he tasted that treat for the first time.
Liz was busy whisking a big bowl full of cream. “Can I do anything, besides swearing on my soul not to breathe a word of this to anyone?” Max asked, smirking.
“You can whisk the milk,” she said, pointing at the pot simmering in low heat. Max nodded and went to his post, delighted to help. He stirred the invigorating liquid, soon realizing that it wasn’t just milk – the slightly thicker consistency announced the presence of condensed milk.
Liz finished preparing the whipped cream, put the bowl in the fridge and pulled out a chocolate bar. Max’s eyes widened when he saw what she held in her hand, understanding the significance of that rectangular package.
“That’s your secret ingredient, I take it…” He gulped, barely containing his enthusiasm.
“The original Swiss formula! This chocolate bar was imported. No one would think of using this type of chocolate for this kind of recipe, but in this life you have to struggle to be original,” she said, putting the chocolate cubes inside the pan. To use that kind of chocolate was more than reinventing the wheel, it was thinking of a whole new way to use it. This impressed Max more than the revelation of the brand of chocolate.
Liz mixed a touch of a brown powder in her potion under Max’s increasingly inquisitive eyes. “Are you adding more cinnamon?” he asked, with a frown.
“No, this is just so you don’t have to add Tabasco sauce,” she said, admiring his top-notch whisking. The chocolate was near melting point, and Max’s gentle motions added a full-bodied, velvety character to the drink.
Her nostrils flared involuntarily when the first whiff of chocolate invaded her lungs… “Keep whisking the beverage, Max, I’ll go get the mugs,” Liz said, moving away as fast as she could, before she began drooling all over their drink.
Max nodded, silently begging her to hurry, because the spell the chocolate cast proved too powerful, and he could swallow it all in one gulp, regardless of its boiling stage, if she didn’t come back quickly!
Max heard the soft jingle of the mugs behind him and felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve, ready to open his presents. He poured the drink into the mugs and, from the corner of his eye, saw Liz going towards the fridge again. Before he could spell chocolate, she returned with the bowl of whipped cream and two other familiar packages…
“Shall we go?” Liz asked, with an encouraging grin.
Max trotted to his usual booth holding both steamy mugs. With a large spoon, Liz garnished both mugs with whipped cream. Then she picked up the conspicuous orange jar and, with another spoon, sprinkled more Swiss chocolate on top of the whipped cream. Max watched that sweet and sumptuous spectacle – he was mesmerized by the combination of Liz’s fluid movements and the irresistible aroma of the delicacy they were about to relish… Finally, she opened another package and took two strawberries, placing one on top of the chocolate sprinkled whipped cream in each cup, as if it were a flag of their love.
“Bon appétit!” Liz said with a dazzling grin.
Max glanced at the restaurant clock. “We don’t have to hurry… The hands are moving, but time is on our side,” he said, his voice deep with emotion.
Liz looked at her wristwatch and compared it with the restaurant clock. Those manmade gears would never admit to such a conspiracy; Time marched on… but it seemed to move in a relaxed and languid step, inviting them to contemplate that moment. “You’re right,” she said, wrapping her strawberry in the whipped cream. “Time seems to slow down for our benefit!”
“We should make the most of it, then!” Max replied, imitating her. A nibble on the chocolaty strawberry transported him to another world… The ripe, juicy strawberry mixed with the crunchy chocolate flakes in the whipped cream and clung to his teeth and to the roof of his mouth, slowly releasing its overpowering taste… Oh, if only all tortures resembled this one! Max mused, closing his eyes from the intensity of that single bite.
Liz’s eyes, also half closed, seemed to sparkle as much as his. He knew this was only a small sample, and the best was yet to come, which stirred his taste buds even more.
“Would you like another one?” She asked, pointing at the strawberries, when she noticed that there was little whipped cream left on top of his mug.
“I had my fill,” he sighed, with gaiety shimmering in his eyes. Then, he lifted his mug in a solemn movement and Liz mirrored his gesture.
Max had a glimpse of their honeymoon… Maybe it was a premonition, maybe nothing more than wishful thinking… but, in a strange way, he felt as if he and Liz were married already! That moment was more than he imagined any honeymoon could be – that glint of novelty between them, that smile that was always the first they exchanged, that total presence in the mystery of a present moment, and that total awareness of what they shared with each other… Could they ever have a better time than that after a minister declared them husband and wife?!
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could toast with these Blasts at our reception, rather than with champagne?”
“Yeah, it would be exceptionally wonderful for you,” Liz agreed, smiling, as the memory of a drunk Max came to her mind.
“Of course, you’d have to either share your secret recipe or prepare it yourself, and I just would not let you work on your wedding day!” Max said, shaking his head.
“I think we better make that toast now,” Liz said, entwining her arm with his.
They sipped their potion in a companionable silence, as if they were sampling champagne from the best vintage. For Max, there was no drink more perfect than that one: it was cold and it was hot; it was sweet but not nauseating; peppery without burning your insides, and that velvety texture invited one to drink it slowly and then have another!
“I didn’t know you had developed such refined tastes,” he said with a playful smile.
“Thanks to you! I never wanted it like this before… This is a whole new universe for me!” she admitted, beaming, basking in his delight with that full-bodied Blast, and she was astonished to realize their breaths were still in sync.
“Now I understand the reason behind this name!” Max said, sampling another swig. “I feel as if I swallowed a box of Duracell batteries!… Sorry, it’s not the most pleasant image, but I can’t find a better one…” He took another swig of the potion, and cocked his head, trying to think of something more elegant to say. “It’s infinitely more pleasant than swallowing batteries, no doubt about that!”
Liz burst out laughing… maybe because of his puzzled frown, maybe because of his hyperbolic metaphor, maybe even both.
Max also began laughing at his inability to find a witty metaphor for his experience, but he felt that, after drinking one of those Blasts, he could go a year without food or rest…
Then, he became thoughtful again. “Are you sure you don’t want to share your recipe with the world? Do you want to condemn your customers to a life of drinking a watered down version of this absolute wonder?!…” Max looked at the ever lighter mug and swallowed hard, realizing their private moment was coming to an end… The intrusion of that other less distant reality made him lose his train of thought.
He had a vision: an ocean of customers sprinting into the Crashdown, gobbling up their burgers and their colas, only to sprint out of the restaurant, eager to enjoy all the amusements and souvenirs the city had to offer…
Liz watched him, trying to read his silence, his lost gaze, and his arm holding the mug, suspended in the air as if he was missing something…
When he looked at her again, there was a new light in his gaze, and she became aware of his revelation. Max whispered: “You should really write this recipe down… in a sealed envelope… and tell your great-grandchildren not to open it until a hundred years after your death!”
Liz nodded and gave a soft chuckle – pleased that he came to that conclusion – and raised her dreamy mug for them to toast one more time.
“To us,” Liz whispered, with a wide smile.
“Forever!” Max added, also whispering, with the intense certainty of someone who could foresee every day of his life. His warm whisper reverberated throughout her core, comforting her in the imperviousness of their love. They clinked their mugs together and sipped their unique concoction with the leisure of those who never wanted it to end.
After that nourishing delicacy, they silently shared the task of erasing their presence from that kitchen, safe in the knowledge of their secret’s shelter, leaving only the walls as witnesses to what had happened there. They left the Crashdown and headed for his house to fetch his commencement gown.
While he changed, her inquisitive eyes roamed around the room and noticed a poster he had on the wall. The picture looked familiar; in fact, she had seen it before but had never attributed great importance to it. Kyle had lent her that album by Moby years earlier, shortly after she broke up with him. Maybe that’s why she’d never listened to it all the way through. It must be a great album, she thought, otherwise, why would Max have a poster of it in his bedroom?! She walked to the shelf where the CDs were and traced the cases with her finger until she found the album she was looking for.
“I’m ready,” Max said, adjusting his gown.
Liz turned, her eyes appraising him, traveling up and down his figure slowly, thoroughly… Her bated breath, her shimmering eyes lingering on him, and the sudden flurry of her emotions billowing in his heart made him blush. “Oh, I can hardly wait to see you graduating from college,” she said, as a proud smile emerged on her lips.
“I thought you were gonna say I looked incredibly charming in this gown!” He said, with a beguiling smile.
“I thought you already knew that, but I can repeat it as many times as you want… You look absolutely stunning in that gown!” Liz said, gazing minutely at him with an overcome nod. “But you’re gonna look even better in it when you reach your senior year in college… trust me!”
Her words fell on fertile soil; envisioning himself in such a ceremony stirred his heart up in hopeful anticipation. “What kind of college?” He asked in a voice that belied everything his face could not hide. His excited eyes glistened, illuminating his whole face, while his cheeks blushed in expectancy.
Liz really had to smile at his restrained thrill! “All in good time,” she said, caressing his cheek, trying to keep her own enthusiasm in check. She knew that Max had gone through a very difficult phase of his life and that the aftershocks were nearly as violent as the tragedy that had given rise to them, but he had crossed that obstacle with stoutheartedness – something she admired. She rejoiced in his avidness. What a sad thing it would be if all that potential went to waste! “Shall we get going?” She asked, touching her forehead with his.
“If you insist…” he retorted in a playful whisper that made her giggle and hold him closer in her arms. “Do you want to listen to ‘Play’ in the car?” Max asked, pointing at the CD that Liz held.
“Now I’m curious; I mean… it must be a really good album, or you wouldn’t have a poster of it, right?”
“It’s one of his best!” Max guaranteed.
“Really?! What’s your favorite track?” Liz asked, while her eyes searched the back cover.
“Oh, we could be here all night talking about Moby,” he smiled, opening the door, and gesturing for her to pass. “That’s why naming a favorite is so difficult, you know?” Max said, as they headed out to the Chevelle, after telling her the history of that album.
“In short, the entire album is great, is that it?”
“Well, I am a bit biased… but there are a few tracks I listen to more often than others.”
“Well,” he started, opening the car door for her, “lots of them, actually.”
Liz laughed, realizing that the topic was too complex, but as soon as they got in, she took the CD and put it in the player, while Max put the key in the ignition.
“Gimme a number, quickly, just off the top of your head,” she said, glancing at him.
“Fourteen,” Max said, without thinking.
Liz changed the tracks one by one, until she reached track fourteen. Three unassuming taps announced the melody. The rough sound of the guitar contrasted with the primal nature of that entrancing, ethereal theme that was gently insinuating itself throughout the car. At first, the subtlety of the acoustic guitar and the piano made her hesitant about what the music was trying to convey, but as the song progressed in a fervid crescendo the compelling language of those sounds seemed to her more and more splendid; almost divine! In her chest, her heart was seething with the excitement of those notes; tears prickled in her eyes and her soul swelled with the emotion she felt from Max. When that bewitching tune couldn’t reach any higher, she could feel the same sense of peace that was filling his heart. She leaned back in the seat as a smile lit her face, feeling that all was right in the Universe. Max glanced at her with a knowing smile, and she gave an exhilarated laugh, silently agreeing with him.
“Can I…?” Liz started, and Max just went ahead and hit the rewind button. She nodded in appreciation and relaxed into the seat. The school was just a tune away.
Maria was all alone, waiting for them near the school entrance. Her head moved from side to side, and she stretched her neck repeatedly, hoping to see a familiar face.
“There’s Maria,” Liz said, pointing in the direction of the school entrance. “I hope she just got here.”
Maria was startled when she heard the Chevelle approaching and she smiled when Max flashed the headlights at her. She went to meet them promptly, not even waiting for Max to park the car.
Maria froze when she glimpsed a strange being with four legs and four arms looming in the evening shadows, walking in a tranquil step towards her and murmuring sweetly; she became truly transfixed when the energy that emanated from that extraordinary presence reached her heart. It wasn’t long before she recognized the whispers as those of her best friends. Her heart started pounding as she felt wrapped in a wild, unknown wave of energy and, obeying an irresistible urge for something intangible, she quickened her pace to join them. She threw herself into her best friend’s arms without even seeing her face, but her eyes were still able to capture that image of both of them with their arms wrapped around each other.
“It’s so good to see you! Have you been here long?” Liz asked.
Maria let go of that hug, took a few steps away from her friend and stared carefully at them. There was something different about them, something she couldn’t discern… It was like there was an energy field enveloping them – a staunch, warm, thick and comforting energy field, a consecrated space just for them… “I just got here five minutes ago,” she mumbled, leaving her mouth opened in astonishment. Maria could not control the turmoil that had taken hold of her heart… “What happened to you guys?…” she asked, unable to untie that Gordian knot that had formed in her throat and had stolen all the right words from her tongue.
“Do you think there’s something different about us?” Liz asked, hiding behind a smile that gave her away completely.
“Different is an understatement, babe! What happened?”
“Remember what I told you before you left the Crashdown,” Liz asked, with a smile that only her best friend could decipher.
“Oh no, something definitely happened between you guys, but it has nothing to do with the ending of the sleeping cure! That much I know!”
“I’m sure you’ll hear all about it when the ceremony is over, don’t worry!” Max said, lacing his arm around Liz again.
Under the cover of darkness, Max’s arm looping around her and Liz leaning against him were invisible gestures, but utterly unmistakable to Maria’s understanding. She had never understood why they were attracted to each other; never understood why they had started dating; never understood how they managed to live when they were away from each other, nor had she understood why they had gotten back together after all the pain and suffering they had gone through… That demure gesture increased their energy field exponentially; the connection between them shone with greater fervor than the light of two giant stars!
The bumpy ride of those two (the one she had sponsored even before its inception) made her smile, while Michael’s face flashed into her memory and she felt a pang kick her heart. Why did I waste so much time without him? she thought to herself, feeling the pain burning in her throat.
While she was lost in her thoughts, Isabel arrived, hand in hand with her husband. Maria had never seen Isabel hug her brother so enthusiastically, or Liz for that matter. “Well, I think graduation ceremonies really agree with you both, you look amazing in those gowns; it’s like you’re glowing!” Isabel said, with a celebratory grin. “I really have to thank you, Liz; your influence over him is really good… I’ve never seen my brother so ecstatic!”
He’s ecstatic, all right, and so is Liz, but it has nothing to do with the ceremony, Maria mused, studying them for any clues that would give them away…
Liz’s parents arrived at school while they were engaged in a spirited conversation; it was natural for Mr. and Mrs. Parker to be delighted that their daughter was finishing high school, but Maria had never seen them fawning over Max before… The favorable pats on the shoulder and the ceaseless smiles were all the more impressive coming from Mr. Parker!
To see them all orbiting around Max and Liz made her smile and shake her head; they could obviously feel the energy emanating from them, just as much as she did, from whatever it was that had happened between them earlier that night, even if they were misidentifying it as ‘graduation cheer’. They were small planets, just like herself, orbiting around those two giant stars, whose immense, magnetic light had guided their steps ever since the day of the shooting.
As more and more people arrived, the group thought it best to head into the school grounds to attend the ceremony that was about to begin. As they started walking, Mr. Parker put his arm around his wife and Jesse did the same with Isabel. While Maria cursed her luck for not having Michael there with her, she realized that Max and Liz were gone. She looked around and found them a few yards behind the group with their arms around each other at the very moment their lips met in a long, grateful, amorous kiss.
I’m very grateful to the creators and the actors for making Max and Liz so special to us! I’m also grateful to the readers who took time out of their lives to read this fic. Writing this story was such an adventure to me, like climbing a great mountain, but the view was well worth all the effort! I hope you enjoyed it as well! If you have a favorite passage, I’d love to hear about it! :)
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