Summary: Can the lovers overcome all the challenges thrown at them and have a happy ending?
Disclaimer: Not mine, Don't sue.
The following afternoon, the eight teens gathered in Michael’s apartment.
“Ok, anyone wanna start filling me in on what exactly we’re doing here?” Michael bit out.
“Michael,” Maria admonished.
“What? They commandeer my apartment for a meeting, which they insist is important, but won’t tell us why. I think I have a right to be a little testy.”
“Michael’s right.” Isabel jumped in. “He may have been rude in the way he said it, but I think we’d all like to know why we’re here.”
Max, Kyle and Tess all looked at Liz. They might know the story, but the first part was Liz’s to tell.
“Well, it all started nearly a week ago. Last Friday to be exact.” Liz looked up. “This is all going to sound a bit crazy, but I swear that it’s true.” When she saw that no one had automatically turned away, she took a deep breath and continued. “Last Friday afternoon, Max came to see me. But it wasn’t Max Max. It was Max from 10 years in the future. I know it’s hard to believe, I didn’t at first either, but it’s true. He knew things that only he could know.” Liz paused to let everyone grapple with that concept. “He told me…he told me that in the version of the future he had come from…you were all…well…you were all *gone*.” Liz’s voice broke a little.
“You mean …?” Isabel asked meaningfully. Liz nodded dolefully.
“And Max, future Max said, he said…he said t-t-th…” Liz took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. “He said that it was because of me and him. We were together, and we, well, we kinda ignored Tess. A lot. So she left. I can’t say I blame her really.” Liz locked gazes with Tess for a second. “It sounded like we were pretty mean to her, even if we didn’t realise it. And then, after she left, there was an attack.” Everyone’s heads rose sharply at that.
“A what!?!” Michael exploded.
“An attack.” Liz repeated. “We can go back to that later.” Maria put her hand on Michael’s arm and nodded. Michael sighed and indicated for Liz to continue.
“Well, apparently the four of you together are much stronger than you are separately. And since Tess had left, when they attacked you were more vulnerable. So Max came back to get my help in making Tess stay.” Liz looked down at the floor, loath to say what she’d been asked to do. Luckily for her, despite the pain the words were obviously causing him, Max continued for her.
“He, well, I, no, *he* asked her to help him make me fall out of love with her.” Max shot Liz a look that told her that could never happen.
“At first I tried just refusing to see him. And we tried that crazy set-up with the book, which, you know didn’t work. I even said no to a concert. But Future Max said I did that the other time as well. And well, that didn’t exactly work out. So he told me I was gonna have to do something a bit more, well, brutal, you could say. And that was when I came up with my plan, which is where Kyle comes into it.”
“She came to me and asked for my help.” Kyle picked up. “When she first told me what she was planning it sounded a bit crazy, but we’re friends. And I’m always willing to help a friend in need. If I can.”
“I asked Kyle to help me stage a scene that would make Max hate me. Future Max told me that present day Max would be coming to my room that evening, so I set it up to look like I had, you know.”
“To make it look like she slept with me.” Kyle finished. “I didn’t understand at that time quite why she was doing it, but she seemed so determined to make Max fall out of love with her, and it seemed like a feasible plan.”
“And then Max came to the window and I saw his face…” Liz buried her head in her hands, tears leaking from the edges of her eyes.
“Ok,” Alex started, as Max sat down next to Liz, putting his arm around her comfortingly. “What I’m missing is why you’re telling us. For this ‘plan’ to work wouldn’t it have to be a secret? Especially in Max’s case.”
“When I left Liz’s window that night, I couldn’t just go home. So I walked around town for a bit to try and, I don’t know, really. To calm down maybe. While I was wandering, I bumped into Tess. While we haven’t exactly been the closest of friends,” Max acknowledged, “Tess offered me a listening ear, and after a bit of persuading, I told her what I’d just seen.”
“What I didn’t expect was the way him telling me would make me feel.” Tess began, looking at Kyle out of the corner of her eye. Michael, Maria, Alex and Isabel looked at her quizzically when she didn’t immediately continue.
“Which would be…how?” Maria demanded impatiently.
“I felt like I was the one being betrayed.” Tess answered. “At first I didn’t really understand why I was feeling like I did, I thought maybe I was feeling some sort of sympathy pain thing for Max. But after puzzling about it when I went home, I finally figured it out. As I told Liz on Saturday, at some point my heart stopped waiting around for Max to fall out of love with her and discover he was crazy about me, even though my mind didn’t recognise it.” Tess looked up and her eyes connected with Kyle’s for a second before she continued. “Once I’d thought about it all night, I realised that the real reason I was upset by Liz and Kyle’s fabrication was that it was Kyle. Neither Max nor Liz even entered into the equation.”
“Which is why I was woken up on Saturday morning with a bowl of icy water,” murmured Kyle, rolling his eyes dramatically. Maria couldn’t suppress a giggle as she imagined a sleepy-looking Kyle jumping up with ice cold water dripping everywhere. “Yeah, laugh all you want DeLuca, but it was damn cold. And at that point, I had no idea *why* she’d done it either.”
“Said ignorance didn’t last long, I’ll bet.” Alex commented.
“About twenty seconds, max. She laid right into me right off, wanting to know what I’d been thinking, when had Liz and I suddenly gotten so close, how could I do that to my friend Max. When you’ve just been woken up with a shock, it takes the brain cells a few moments to decipher an angry torrent.”
“The two of you look like you’re speaking again, so I take it you told her the truth then.”
“Hell yeah. I don’t know everything Tess can do with those powers, and believe me I didn’t want to find out the hard way. I told her everything I knew, which granted wasn’t exactly the full story.”
“Which she came to me for.” Liz interrupted.
“Yeah, after we finished our, umm, talk.” Kyle looked over at Tess, a questioning look under his raised eyebrows. Tess nodded imperceptibly and went to sit on the arm of Kyle’s chair.
“So, once I’d finished, umm, extracting information from Kyle, I kinda yelled at him that I had feelings for *him*, and that was why I was so upset.”
“And to cut the story short there, we, that is Tess and I, have decided to sort of see each other.” Kyle admitted candidly.
Maria laughed and poked Michael in the ribs. “See? What did I tell you?” Michael grumbled back at her under his breath.
“Does your dad know Kyle?” Alex teased.
“No!” Kyle raised his hands in a pleading gesture. “And please *don’t* tell him just yet. I really don’t want to know what he’s gonna do when he finds out quite yet.”
“He’ll find out sooner or later.” Isabel pointed out. “He eventually finds out about *everything*.”
“I know, but let’s make it later ok? Give us some time to think out the best way to tell him…”
After several more minutes of ribbing about their budding relationship, Tess and Kyle managed to turn the conversation back onto the real reason for the meeting.
“So what was this about an attack then?” Michael wanted to know. Liz sighed.
“About a year after Tess left, the skins attacked en mass. They started off with everyone around here, and slowly worked towards world domination. We battled as hard as we could, but as I said, there were…casualties. We weren’t prepared enough for them. And the four square wasn’t complete. Working as a group the four of you are supposedly unstoppable. But with just three, they had a chance.”
“But now we have an advantage.” Max pointed out to the group. “We know they’re planning to attack, so this time we can be ready for them.” He looked around the group, looking more like a leader than he ever had before. His eyes stopped briefly on each of the other three aliens. “The four of us need to work on focusing our powers. And we all need to try to find out as much as we can about the skins.” He stood and paced to the middle of the room. “And we should all try and make sure we’re as fit as we can be, including Liz, Maria, Alex and Kyle. We’re going to need you to win this. If all eight of us work together, they don’t have a hope.”
Max’s face turned serious.
“If they want a war, we’ll give them one.”