Everyone froze when Tess suddenly stormed the bathroom, but the sound of raised voices and shattering glass moved them to action. A quick look from Max to Isabel had his sister standing outside the door, and she barely reached it, Max and Alex standing behind her, Michael coming out of the back as Maria came from behind the counter and pushing open the door, all ready to break up the cat fight they assumed was happening inside.
Perhaps that’s why they were so frozen by the sight that greeted them when Maria opened the door. Tess had Liz pinned to the wall between the sink and stalls, holding her there. Kissing her. The tiny brunettes eyes were screwed tight closed, obviously an unwilling participant.
“Tess, what the hell?” Maria half yelled, unknowingly finishing the sentence Liz had started moments before. Spell broken, Tess pulled back, dropping Liz wrist and her grip on her shirt.
“I have to get out of here.” She stated baldly, and pushed herself through the crowd in the doorway before fleeing out of the restaurant, leaving everyone by the bathroom door to watch as Liz nearly collapsed to the floor before Maria caught her. Tears were pooling in her eyes.
“Good job Maxwell,” Michael said, clapping him on the shoulder. “Only you could be thrown over by your former wife for your own girlfriend.” He said, before heading back into the kitchen.
Maria had Liz out of the bathroom now, and with Isabel's help was maneuvering her towards a booth while Max and Alex watched, dumbstruck. Liz was in tears as she sat down, and Maria and Isabel were glaring at him to do something. Suddenly he was moving forward to crouch beside her, Isabel sitting behind Liz in the booth, Maria sitting across from her, holding one of her hands as Max took her shoulders in his hands and she crumpled against his chest.
“Liz, what happened? What did she do?” He whispered hoarsely, one his hands moving to cradle the back of her head, fingers twining through her hair.
Liz just cried harder before saying, “No one has ever loved her, in her entire life.” He looked at Maria and Isabel, confusion evident on all their faces, but he didn’t understand. Holding her slightly away from him, he cupped her cheek in one palm, his thumb gently wiping away her tears.
“What do you mean?” Maria asked from beside them, her hand still holding Liz’s. Liz just shook her head, and took a deep, calming breath. Max felt her pull herself up, and released her, though he felt his heart swell as she reached for his hands to hold them.
“Here.” he heard Alex say from beside him, and looked away from Liz face for a moment to realize that Alex had grabbed a chair from one of the tables for him. “That can’t be comfortable.”
“Thanks,” he replied, taking a seat, knees touching Liz’s, and Maria slid over so that Alex could sit in the booth beside her, across from Liz. “Liz, what happened in there?” He asked again. He watched the confusion, and hurt, and a small flash of anger trace across her beautiful face.
“I don’t know. I was just washing my hands when Tess barged in. The next thing I knew she had me pinned against the wall, and was saying how you were supposed to be hers, and then she kissed me. And then I had a flash.”
Max blinked at that. “You had a flash, you and Tess?” He asked, and looked up to meet his sisters eyes over Liz’s head. She had the same bewildered look he could feel on his own face.
Liz shook her head. “I don’t know if she saw anything, but I saw her coming out of her pod, and Nasedo finding her, and all this stuff from her childhood.” She swallowed, and was surprised when Michael came out of the kitchen with a glass of ice water for her, and nodded her thanks. “She was so lonely, all the time, and the only hope she had was that when she found you all, that you’d fall in love with her and Isabel and Michael would be her family and she wouldn’t be alone anymore. And then I could feel how hurt and angry she was that you,” she looked directly at Max, “aren’t interested in her. It was like every dream she ever had turned to dust.”
Everyone sat there in silence for a moment, before Isabel spoke from beside Liz. “That still doesn’t give her a right to grab you like that or” she fumbled for the right word, “assault you.” Michael was nodding in agreement.
“Isabel’s right, just because you have a rough childhood is no reason to go around hurting people.” he said. “And it gives us less reason to trust her.”
“I know,” responded Liz, “I know that, and I think especially now knowing what she’s capable of, what she’s done, and what she’s been planning-”
“What did she do?” Max interjected, worry evident in his voice.
Liz sighed before answering. “She was messing with my mind at the pod chamber that day. Part of me wanted to run off, but I was staying.” She looked directly into his eyes, a direct, intimate look. “I was staying because you made me believe that we choose our own fate. But part of me was scared, and hurt, and wanted to run off, and she sensed that and she, she can sort of tipped the scales.” Liz twisted their fingers together, “I was going to stay, but then she kept pushing at all my doubts. That’s why I ran away. And then, she tried so hard to hold you there, but she couldn’t and you came after me and-”
A tight, angry look came over Max’s face. “You mean she was messing with all our heads all this time?” His voice was low and everyone could hear the slightest edge of venom in his voice. Liz shook her head.
“I don’t know everything she’s done, but I saw that she did it that day. And I saw what she’s wanting to do now. She’s planning to mess with my dad’s mind and get me
sent away for the summer.”
“What? How could she think she could do that?” Maria asked, her brows furrowing in concern.
“I saw it when I flashed.” Liz said, her voice a little higher than usual with nerves as she looked at Max. “She’s planning on putting the idea in my parents heads that we’re too serious, that you’re going to hurt me, so that instead of just a week in Florida with my aunt they send me for the whole summer. She got the idea when she heard Kyle was going away for a summer long football camp. That way she wouldn’t have any competition and could try to convince you to…” She broke off and swallowed, looking around at everyone else. “Anyway guys, I really think she can convince my parents, it won’t take much of a nudge and I… I need to be here.” Liz’s voice wobbled a bit as she said it, and she was grateful for Isabel’s hand on her shoulder and Max’s fingers laced between hers.
“Don’t worry chica,” Maria said. “We won’t let her win.”
“So that’s it, she’s out if she can’t be trusted.” Michael said from behind Max, but Liz shook her head.
“It’s not that easy. You guys still need her, to face whatever comes. Nasedo told her, that’s how it was designed. Your powers all compliment each other. Besides, she’s not evil, she’s just… not ready to let go of what she always believed.” Liz took her hand to rub over her eyes, and Max used the opportunity to rub the back of her neck, before pulling her against his chest again.
They sat there in silence for a minute before Alex asked, “So what are we going to do?” looking around everyone else.
“We’re going to Tess proof all our plans until we can convince her that we make our own destinies.” Max replied.