Summary: Can the lovers overcome all the challenges thrown at them and have a happy ending?
Disclaimer: Not mine, don't sue.
Max Evans couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Liz would never…no, not ever…she wasn’t like that…but…no…why…how could she…how could this be happening? This couldn’t be happening. Liz would never cheat on him like this. And especially not with Kyle. She just wasn’t that kind of person. She had always been so pure, so good…perfect. Something wasn’t right. He closed his eyes and pinched his arm as if to wake himself from a dream, but when he reopened them, he was still standing there, on Liz’s balcony. He had found himself in a waking nightmare. His breath caught in his throat, and an unknown hand squeezed his heart in his chest. A wave of nausea washed over him. He had to get out of there, and fast.
He backed away from the window, somehow managing to make his way down the fire escape without falling. He needed to think. He had to figure out what it was that was making Liz act so strangely. He couldn’t believe she would do something so terrible. His heart was still beating painfully in his chest as he rounded the building. He couldn’t go home. He needed time to compose himself a little before he faced his sister Isabel, who would know that something was bothering him as soon as he walked through the door. Setting off down the street, he soon found himself in the darkness of the park. He staggered towards a nearby bench and sank down onto it, his head dropping towards his knees as the pain in his chest became unbearable. His eyes welled up with unbidden tears, and he buried his face in his hands and wept out his heartache to the empty park.
Suddenly he felt a soft hand on his shoulder. He looked up into the sympathetic eyes of Tess Harding. ‘Great’ he thought. He and Tess didn’t exactly get along. She had appeared in town just a few months ago, and had proceeded to try and ruin his life. She insisted that he and she were ‘destined’ to be together, no matter how much he tried to drum it into her skull that it was never going to happen, that he was in love with Liz, and that wasn’t going to change any time soon. She had obviously convinced herself that just because his past self on Antar was married to hers, this meant that they should be together in this lifetime too.
“What do you want?” he demanded irritably.
“Nothing. I was just walking by and noticed you sitting here alone. Thought you might like some company. Or maybe someone to talk to.”
“Why would I need ‘someone to talk to’?”
“You’re upset. Maybe I could help. Sometimes it helps just to tell someone about what’s bothering you.”
This was exactly the reason he had avoided going home. He didn’t want to talk about what he had seen. It was too raw. “No,” he choked out. Tess sat down beside him anyway.
“Are you sure? I know we haven’t exactly been the best of friends, but I am a good listener when I want to be.”
“Is it something to do with Liz?” Max said nothing, and just stared at his feet. “It is, isn’t it. You can talk to me about her. I might not agree with you seeing her, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pretend I’m an impartial listener. It will do you good to get it out in the open.”
“I saw her,” Max mumbled. Tess started. She hadn’t expected him to actually tell her.
“With Kyle…both of them…in her room. I was…I was going to see her. Wanted to ask her to…to the…the Gomez concert. And I…I saw them.” Max lifted his tear-stained eyes to Tess’s. The words burned in his throat. “I saw them together”
“What do you mean?” Tess asked, slightly confused.
“I mean I saw them…in bed…with no clothes on. Both of them. Together.” His words stung Tess more than she thought.
“You mean they…?”
“I…yes…it looked like that.” Max turned to Tess. “I can’t believe she would do this to me. If she didn’t love me anymore why didn’t she just tell me? Why did she have to go and sleep with…Kyle.”
“I don’t know.” Tess wasn’t sure she wanted to examine her own reaction to this piece of news too carefully.
“I just don’t understand. Why? Why why why?”
“I really don’t know. I don’t understand it any more than you.” Tess put her arm around Max, pulling him into a hug. “You should go home. Things won’t feel as bad in the morning after a night’s sleep.”
Max looked at Tess gratefully. “Thank you for listening. You were right. It does feel a little better telling someone.” Max stood, walking off in the direction of his home. Tess sat for a little longer before determining to go find Kyle, and get the whole truth.
* * * * *
Liz Parker looked around her room. She hated this, but she knew that it was for the good of the world. Max needed to make Tess stay, and he couldn’t do that if he was still in love with her. ‘Future Max’ had made that very clear. She still wasn’t entirely sure why she had to be the only one that Max would come back to talk to. He had painted a very vivid picture, everyone dead except the two of them, the skins taking over the world. He had also told her of the happy times. Something she almost wished he hadn’t, since she knew she would never get to experience them. Never get to marry Max, be together for always. She knew she had to sacrifice her own happiness to save her friends’ lives.
Kyle came out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist.
“You’re sure you want to do this?”
“And you won’t tell me why?”
“I told you. I need to make Max fall out of love with me.”
“But you won’t tell me why that is.”
“I can’t. Anyway, he’ll be here soon. We better get ready.”
“Underwear stays on, right?”
“Yup.” Liz and Kyle climbed into bed and pulled the quilt over them, just as Max climbed up the fire escape onto Liz’s balcony.
Liz blanched as she saw Max’s face go white outside the window. She knew this would hurt him. She only hoped that she’d never have to hurt him this badly ever again.