What a wonderful Christmas surprise we had here!
And the humor is running wild with these guys.......
Kyle has surprised me more than once, especially with his "breast friend".
The three custody of Charlie is an interesting arrangement.
Loved the brief Max and Liz moments!
I continue to laugh at Kyle's new powers and antics.
Ha, ha! I had to put in that "breast friend" part because of that time Isabel dreamwalked a Playboy model for him - a guy who is into that, is not going to always have pure thoughts, lol, even if he has mostly turned over a new leaf.
Children these days, really can have more than just two parents, due to divorces/remarriages, open adoptions, non-stranger surrogacies, polyamorous relationships and probably some other circumstances that I haven't even considered, yet.
Unconventional seems to be becoming the new normal, in real life and also in this story.
It's part of the reason I'm posting this in The Abyss. I have a general outline in mind but even I don't know all of the details that will end up in this story. Some details might turn out to be upsetting to readers who prefer conventional circumstances. That's the closest I can get to warning for specific content.
Every time you say anything good about my versions of Max, Liz and their relationship, I feel relieved because I'm always worried about not only, merely not doing them justice but doing them really terribly, since they are not my OTP - obviously I do like them, a lot, though, or I wouldn't write them into my stories, at all. So thanks, Carolyn, your feedback is invaluable, to me.
Title: Finding Something Better
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. It is only loosely based on characters from the 1999-2002 tv series Roswell as I imagine they could be from different points throughout and beyond the three seasons of the show. I am not affiliated with any of the original creations nor creators from the series. I will make no monetary gains from publishing this work of fiction.
Pairings/Characters/Category: Michael & Maria, Max & Liz, Kyle, Isabel, Ava, CC, UC, AU, w/Aliens
Summary: This chapter - Snapshot moments of the lives of the nine member alien-hybrid and human crew, from December 26th, 2002 to January 4th, 2003.
Finding Something Better
December 26th, 2002.
Maria kissed Michael's cheek enthusiastically and declared, "I love being rich!"
Michael chuckled and refuted, "We aren't rich, though. Maxwell and Isabel are rich and are merely sharing their wealth with us."
Maria insisted, "Do we or do we not have a quarter million dollar a year budget, between the two of us?"
Michael corrected, "Up to, Maria! Up to. There's no way we need to or even could spend all of that."
Maria pouted and argued, "Speak for yourself! I totally could! Hello, Michael? we have a baby coming! Babies need stuff!"
Michael scoffed in amusement, "You weren't saying anything of the sort when Isabel told us that she was pregnant with Lex."
Maria relented somewhat, "Okay, true. But I simply misspoke; parents need stuff to make baby raising easier! You can totally get away with raising a baby without much money. My Mom did it, but she had to work her butt off, at work and at home! With the funds that Max and Isabel have gifted us with, we're going to have it so much easier!
Max's and Isabel's Queen Mommy has my forever gratitude for making sure that, that Kal guy grew a massive nest egg for both of her kids! What a woman! Alie- uhh Czechoslovakian! Whatever!
So, can we go shopping, now, spaceboy? Are you coming?"
Michael laughed, shook his head, kissed her quickly on the lips and agreed, "Fine. Let's go shopping then, angelwife. Just, try not to buy the whole store? We only have one kid on the way and we only have a van; not a transport truck."
Maria stuck out her tongue at him and waited for him to help her down from the passenger seat. She rubbed her early third trimester pregnant belly and spoke to the life inside, "Don't jump on Mama's bladder too much, okay? Mama takes forever trying to pee in those tiny, public restroom stalls and Daddy is not so patient about shopping to begin with. I love you, my little bowling ball! Now, let's go shopping!"
December 27th, 2002.
Isabel resolutely opened the door and greeted their weekly visitor coolly, "Yes?"
The young, red-haired woman smiled and said, "Lemons took fifty years."
Isabel nodded, stepped aside and said with a weary sigh, "Kal. Come on in."
As soon as he was inside and she'd closed the door, Kal shifted back to his most comfortable form.
Lex called from the kitchen in a loud whisper, "Is it Mr. Kal, Mommy? Can I come in there, now?"
Isabel smiled fondly and answered him, "Yes, Lex, sweetheart, you can come on back in here, now!"
Lex raced into the living room and greeted their visitor inquisitively, "Hi, Mr. Kal! Is it time for me to have special vitamins, again?"
Kal nodded and used his celebrity charming smile, as he confirmed, "Of course! Did you have a nice Christmas?"
Lex nodded emphatically and confided, "Daddy and me did lots of nice stuff for sad people! It was the best Christmas, in my whole life!"
Kal didn't point out that it was his first Christmas in his whole life and Isabel was relieved for it; Lex had no idea that he was not like other kids. He really did seem like a typical five and a half year old kid, already, despite that he was technically only about six months old.
Kal did more with Lex, during his weekly visits, than just give him the elixir; he also did a full assessment of his overall health and performed "fun" tests to gauge his cognitive developmental age. Kal's visits usually lasted about an hour and Lex readily accepted it as playtime.
Isabel gestured to the kitchen and politely offered, to Kal, "Can I get you anything?"
Kal declined wordlessly and got right to assessing and then dosing Lex with more elixir.
Isabel sat at the kitchen island with Ava, Liz, Maria and Charlie, who was in Lex's not-so old, bouncy seat.
The guys were out running errands and doing anonymous good deeds. They usually found reasons to miss Kal's visits.
Maria noted in a hushed voice, "He didn't ask about Charlie straight away. That's a first!"
Ava muttered sarcastically, "The hour's not up, yet. I give him five minutes. Tops."
Isabel tried to steer their conversation back to the topic they'd been on before Kal had arrived, keeping her voice low, due to the thin walls,"Well, I don't like him any more than you do, but I do believe that he'll keep his vow to Max. Lex is fine with him. If he asks about Charlie, no matter what his motives are, I see no harm in it. We're here. We'll protect the kids. Now, how about we get back to discussing my wedding?"
"Your wedding? Aren't you already married? To your eldest child's father?", Kal asked from the kitchen doorway.
Maria gave Ava's smug look an impressed smirk and then she greeted Kal, "Mr. Langley. Is there something that we can help you with?"
Kal gestured toward Charlie, "Oh, I didn't mean to intrude, Commander, I just meant to pop in and see how Her Majesty's dream come true is doing? Has she exhibited any other powers, lately?"
Isabel answered his questions, trying to keep her patience, around her kids, "My divorce from Jesse has been finalised, as of December twenty-third. Kyle and I are getting married on January the second.
As for Charlie's powers, nothing new has happened. She seems to only reach out like that if she is afraid, hurt or really mad. We keep her pretty happy and calm, most of the time."
Kal sighed and lamented, "I suppose that is for the best, since she cannot be reasoned with or taught how to control what she is capable of, yet.
Have you chosen an officiant for your wedding, yet?"
Isabel's face fell and she stammered in disappointment, "Oh. Well, no. I can't believe I didn't realise that we don't have anyone to marry us! The only one of us who can perform weddings, is my groom. I guess we're not getting married on the second after all, then. We have to find an officiant, first."
Kal gestured to himself and declared, "I suspected, as much. You children are ambitious but you really don't think, far enough ahead. Look no further. I'll do it."
All four women asked skeptically and in unison, "You?"
Kal nodded and bragged, "Certainly! I performed wedding ceremonies on Antar, as well as during my time in Hollywood! I even officiated several secret ceremonies between celebrity couples.
I have certification to perform marriages in California, New York and Nevada. The process is fast. I can be certified for Oregon by the thirtieth, or we can cross the state line, into California, for the ceremony. Which do you prefer?"
Isabel sought clarification, "So if you marry us, it will carry legal weight? What about the paper trail?"
Kal answered her, "Of course it will be legal. As for the paper trail, well, I cleaned up the one for The Commander and His Royal Highness's Second In Command and of course, the ones for the children's birth registrations and inocculation schedules, as well. I will simply have to clean up after yours and your groom's paper trail, too. It's all part of my job. This is my area of expertise; it's what I do.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do anything about the the paper trail His Royal Highness left in Peoria. At least those suits have nothing more to go on, after that, though, so I suppose you children aren't completely inept, then."
Isabel put a hand on Ava to stop her from an outburst. Ava looked at her and Isabel glanced toward Charlie. Ava grit her teeth and glared at Kal but said nothing.
Isabel ignored Kal's back handed compliment and said decisively, "Get the certification for Oregon, Kal. I don't want to upset the kids' routines any more than I have to and there's no way I'd go to California without my kids, so."
Kal nodded and vowed, "Consider it done, Her Royal Majesty's Beloved Princess. I'll get back to my assessment of your eldest child, then; the task I set him on, is likely completed by now. Have His Royal Highness relay to me, the details that I need to know for your wedding day."
As soon as he'd left the kitchen, Ava asked, not even quietly, "Are you really going to let that shady shape-shifter marry you and Kyle?"
Isabel shrugged, nodded and explained quietly, "It's that or postpone the wedding, and I really, really want to marry Kyle, on January the second, as planned, Ava. In my mind, any delay means that it won't happen at all and I just, I need for this to happen. Period."
Liz and Maria said in unison, "I hear you, on that.", and then they looked at each other and giggled together, both enjoying still being so in sync with each other, even beyond their newly married lives.
Later that night, laying in her husband's arms, in the afterglow of lovemaking, Liz confessed, "I want a family, with you, Max."
Max objected gently, "Liz, we've already talked about this. We can't. You know that we can't and why we can't."
Liz argued, "Right. Just like we couldn't kiss in case it was dangerous but then Michael and Maria proved it wasn't and then we thought that our biologies were not compatible enough to conceive and for a while, we were even reckless because we believed that.
I mean it boggles my mind, now, that our reasons for deciding to start using condoms didn't even have anything to do with preventing pregnancy. You just didn't like me leaving the bed right after being intimate, to go wash myself. Condoms solved both of our issues; I felt cleaner, which I prefer and so then I could stay put afterward, which is what you prefer.
To think we'd only been using condoms for two months when Isabel and Jesse proved that human and hybrid biologies were not incompatible, after all, is still a bit frightening, to me.
I'm amazed that I never got pregnant during our two months of reckless intimacy. It could have been you and I dealing with an unexpected and possibly accelerated pregnancy. It's a scary thought.
We've gotten other things wrong, too, like thinking all pregnancies involving a hybrid parent would result in hybrid children but you and Tess proved that wrong and then thinking that all pregnancies involving a hybrid parent would automatically be accelerated but Michael and Maria have just proved that wrong, as well. There's still so much that we really don't know.
The thing is, Max, I understand why you've been so cautious, I really do. I get it. You love me and you don't want me to be harmed. I've considered the idea, that if it was you, would I risk your life or even you enduring bodily harm, on such limited instances of proof and of course, I know that I wouldn't.
I mean if kissing had made one or the other of us sick, then that could have been easily dealt with and avoided but creating a life is not something that can be undone, easily, once it's done.
Suddenly, more than one life is at stake. I saw what Michael went through and what Maria went through dealing with his reaction, and I definitely don't want that for either you or I."
Max interjected softly, "I'm glad you understand. That's it exactly, but if you know all of this, then why are you bringing it up, again?"
Liz ventured tentatively, "Max, what if there's another way for us to have a family?"
Max asked in confusion, "Another way? What do you mean?"
Liz shared, "When I first found out that Tess was pregnant with your child, I was so hurt and angry and jealous. Somehow when I met your baby, all of that receded. I didn't hate your child and to be honest, that surprised me.
When I thought about it, much later, though, it made sense, after all, because he's part of you and I can't hate you, even when I'm angry or hurt or disappointed. I love you, Max. I could love any child of yours. I truly believe, now, that if you had kept Zan, I would have fallen in love with him, the same way that I did with Lex, only even more, simply because he's yours.
When Isabel announced that she was carrrying Michael's child, I thought Maria would feel as I had about Tess, except it turned out that it had been Maria's choice and now we've all got Charlie and Maria couldn't love that baby girl any more, than if she was her own flesh and blood.
Max, what if that could be me? What if I could raise your child with you, even if it isn't my flesh and blood? What if I could be a Mom, by being a step-Mom?"
Max asked still confused, "What are you suggesting, Liz? That I try to get my son back? Even if I could, that would be too disruptive and likely emotionally damaging to him. I'm sorry, Liz, but that isn't an option. Wherever Zan is, I believe he is loved and happy. I won't take that away from him, now. It's simply too late for that."
Liz nodded and agreed, "No, I know. I already considered that and came to the same conclusion. I meant your future children."
Max asked incredulously, "My future children? Liz, I'm not going to endanger a human surrogate, either. Why would you ever even think that I would or could?"
Liz suggested, "I didn't think that, not even for a minute. There's another possibility, Max. I mean it would be up to her, of course, and we'd have to be really clear on all of our roles and expectations of each other but what if she was willing to help you and I have a family, what if she was a part of our family, the way that Isabel, Maria, and Michael are managing to be that, for Charlie?"
Max asked, "Be a family with whom? Maria? I don't think Michael would be okay with that, not even one time."
Liz took a deep steadying breath and she said, "No, obviously not Maria for many reasons, besides just Michael. I was talking about Ava, Max. What if the three of us could create a family together? What if she was willing to do that? Would you consider it?"
Max echoed, "Ava? She's asexual, though."
Liz lightly swatted at Max and clarified, "Well, I wasn't suggesting that you have sex with her, Max! She'd only need your biological material to get pregnant. Plus, then we could help her, when she is experiencing those awful breeding pains, you know? And at the end of it, the three of us would have a child to love and to raise together."
Max wondered aloud, "Do you really think she'd be agreeable to this idea? I mean how do we even ask her something like that without offending her or making her feel like we see her as a means to an end?"
Liz suggested hopefully, "Because that isn't the offer we'd make. Yours and Ava's children would have three parents, just like Charlie does. The three of us would raise your children. I happen to know that Ava would really love to be a Mom and I would love to be a Mom and I even know that you would love the chance to be a Dad and not just a father by biology alone.
Isabel and Kyle are raising Lex, together. Charlie has three parents, oh, well, four actually, now that I think about it, if you count Kyle and since he's marrying your sister, then he should be counted and Michael and Maria are going to have a child together in a few months, too and all of this while we've been on the run.
Being on the run, then, isn't really a valid excuse, anymore, to not go ahead and have lives and do things that bring us joy, like get married and start families, because the rest of our crew are doing exactly that. Even Mr. Langley has said that us living like this, so far, was okay. He's even offered to be in Kyle's and Isabel's wedding; he'll be officiating it.
Anyway, my idea for us having this life that I've imagined, all hinges on Ava because it's her body and it's a really big commitment for all three of us. The question is, could you live that way, Max? If she agreed to it, I mean? I've already decided that I could live that way; that I really want to live that way. Ava is already family to me. Isn't she to you?"
Max spoke quietly, "Can I take some time to think about all of this, before I answer you?"
Liz kissed his chest and assured, "Of course, Max. I know it's a big deal. I'd be concerned if you answered right now, either way, anyway. I've been thinking about it, since Charlie was born, and it's taken me this long, to finally share my thoughts about it, with you.
I'm trying to prepare myself for you to say no, or for Ava to say no, even if you do agree to ask her with me, because I don't want my happiness to depend on us having a family but Max, I would really love for this to happen. I believe it would enhance our lives and our happiness rather than make or break us, you know?"
Max kissed her forehead and assured, "Yeah, I understand what you mean. Let me think about it for a while, okay?"
Liz nodded and added, "Thank-you, Max. For hearing me out fully and for loving me and for being such an amazing and attentive husband! I am still very much head over heels in love with you, you do know that, right?"
Max smirked, nodded, kissed her on the lips and answered, "Confirmation never hurts, though. I'm just as much in love with you, too, Liz Parker.", as he began making love with her, again.
December 28th, 2002.
As Max and Liz undecorated the house from Christmas, together, in preparation for decorating for their impending New Year's Eve party, Max suddenly spoke, "Liz? What we discussed last night? I've thought about it and I'm sorry but my answer, is no."
Liz's mouth opened slightly in disappointed surprise and she said, "Oh. Okay. Thanks for considering it, at least."
Max asked, "Are you okay?"
Liz shrugged and admitted dejectedly, "No, not really but I will be. Despite my best intentions, I did kind of get my hopes up that you might say yes. I totally understand, though, why you're saying no."
Max asked carefully, "Are we okay, then?"
Liz dropped her refuse bag to embrace her husband and she assured him, "Of course we are. I told you last night that this idea I had, wasn't something that I'd allow to make or break us, Max. It won't. It hasn't, okay? I love you, too much, for that."
Max tightened his arms around her and responded, "Good. I love you, too. I'm still sorry for that answer, though. For making you sad."
Liz smiled bravely at him, nodded her head and insisted, "It's not permanent. I'll adjust. I'll be okay. Promise."
Max smiled back and they resumed undecorating.
December 29th, 2002.
Ava didn't think anything of it, when Max invited her to go with him to get the party and wedding supplies. Liz was busy helping Isabel with wedding planning and decorating, Michael and Maria had Charlie with them, while they were rearranging their sleeping quarters to make room for life with a baby, testing baby furniture out on Charlie, first and whatnot, and Kyle was at the park with Lex.
On the way back to the house, after their shopping errand, Max pulled over and shared Liz's idea with Ava.
Ava's eyes watered and she admitted, "Being a Mom is something that I've wanted to be for as long as I can remember, Max, but this idea; it's a bit much. I can't just decide on the spot, you know? I mean, when would you need an answer?"
Max assured her, "Whenever you have one to give. It's an open ended offer, Ava. I had to think about it, too. I told Liz, no, yesterday, actually. Today, I'm reconsidering things but I don't want to jerk Liz around and tell her that I've changed my mind, only for you to wind up declining.
So, I'm leaving it up to you. We could do this, if you want to and if you don't want to, that's totally okay with both of us. Our feelings for you won't change, if you decline; we both think of you as family, already, regardless of your answer. I just want to make that clear. There's no pressure here, to answer one way or another. It's just an idea.
Are we okay?"
Still teary-eyed, Ava smiled slightly and assured, "Yeah. Thanks, Max, for even offering, at all. I don't know my answer, yet, but when I do, I'll tell you, okay?"
Max smiled, squeezed her hand, briefly, in reassurance, said sincerely, "Take as long as you need.", and then he resumed the drive back to the house.
December 30th, 2002.
Kyle and Isabel were giggling together between kisses, as they stripped each other, and then they tumbled clumsily onto Kyle's air mattress, on the floor.
Isabel impatiently wrapped her legs around Kyle, drawing his erection inside of herself with a satisfied sigh of pleasure, which he passionately echoed. They made brief but frenzied love and afterward they lay on their backs, holding hands, breathing hard and still stifling giggles.
Kyle thought back over their day; all the flirting and covert suggestive looks and comments they'd been baiting each other with and his grin widened as he mused aloud, "That was a first for me. Foreplay that lasted all day. How can something, that felt so agonising, at times, in the end, turn out to be, my idea of fun?"
Isabel leaned sideways, kissed his cheek and said with a happy smile, "For me, too! I love my children but I was starting to think that they were never going to go down for the night! Lex just can't get enough of that bedtime story, bless his beautiful heart!
I've been looking forward to our time, all day! Today was so much fun, Kyle! We should do that, at least once a month, after we're married! What do you think?"
Kyle rolled over on top of her, suckled her nipple briefly, kissed his way up her neck, to her mouth, kissed her for several seconds and then answered, "I think ... I like the way my fiancee thinks. You are so sexy, you turn me on so fast, you're my version of a bedtime story that I can't get enough of. I want more. What do you want?"
Isabel made out with him for a few minutes, concluding with stroking him intimately and she whispered a more elaborate answer beside his ear, "It's not a what, it's a who and the who I want real bad, is you, Kyle! Definitely, over and over again! Maybe just for a little longer, this next time, though?"
Kyle looked her in the eye and said solemnly, "Oh, longer is a given, Pookie."
Isabel let out a loud, short laugh, belatedly covered her mouth with her hand and demanded, "What? Pookie? Why would you call me that?"
Kyle explained just as solemnly, "I identify strongly with Garfield, the comicbook cat. He's a bit rough around the edges but he's got a soft spot for his stuffed bear. His Pookie. You're my soft spot."
Isabel smirked as she felt his penis already firming up in her hand, again and she teased, "Are you sure about that because that's not what this feels like, to me?"
Kyle gasped in pleasure, as she gently stroked him to full firmness and he explained, "Soft spot in my heart, Isabel. In my heart. Never what you're holding because mmmm, yeah, that is most definitely not what I meant."
Isabel chuckled and countered, "Okay, then, my Froggy, have it your way! I'll be your Pookie!"
Kyle objected in dismay, "Froggy?! Why?"
Isabel kissed him lingeringly, still touching him just enough to keep him hard, as she answered, "You have this way of smiling sometimes where you don't show your teeth, that reminds me of a frog. A frog crouch even reminds me a bit of your precious Buddha, too. Anyway, I like frogs. I think they're cute. You're cute. Besides which, you were the last frog that I needed to kiss, to finally find my Prince."
Kyle moaned as he gently thrust himself into her hand and he said, "I surrender. Ribbit, already! Isabel, my Pookie, please?"
Isabel released him from her hand and invited him back inside of herself. They shared a heartfelt, long, passionate kiss as he sank into her and then they made love slowly and thoroughly, for the better part of an hour.
December 31st, 2002 - January 1st, 2003
On New Year's Eve, Isabel and Kyle got Lex mostly ready for bed by seven-thirty. Then the entire crew played bingo with Lex. At ten seconds before eight p.m. they did the countdown to the New Year with him. At exactly eight p.m., everyone toasted with him, with glasses of sparkling apple juice, shouting, "Happy New Year!", and then Maria led them all in singing Auld Lang Syne.
Afterward, Lex kissed everyone Happy New Year and goodnight, of his own volition and then Kyle brought him upstairs to brush his teeth and get him tucked in, for the night. Isabel put Charlie to bed for the night by eight-thirty, as well.
Once the kids were down for the night, the crew watched the movie, Galaxy Quest, on VHS, together, then got ready for the more adult version of a New Year's Eve party.
Luckily, neither of Isabel's children were particularly light sleepers. as long as they weren't blaring the tv or music, the kids stayed asleep through most other normal noises, like voices and laughter and even occasional noisy door closings, provided they didn't quite qualify as sudden slams.
The theme for their New Year's Eve party was casino night. A half hour was dedicated to each of blackjack, poker and craps, with Ava as the dealer.
There were no monetary stakes but they kept track of who had the most losses and the most wins. The person with the most wins could cherry pick and trade out the easiest, least unpleasant chores from each member of the crew's upcoming chore list for the month, for a chore that they'd been assigned that they weren't too keen on doing.
Everyone else could give their least favourite chore to the biggest loser of the night in exchange for a chore that was less unpleasant. The loser could only choose to protect one chore from being stolen, while the rest were fair game. The point was for all of the chores to still get done, just not quite fair distribution, anymore.
By eleven-thirty, Isabel had the most wins and Michael had the most losses. Their ideas of what constituted unpleasant chores versus less unpleasant chores, were nearly opposite to each other and so Michael wound up gaining chores that didn't even bother him to have to do and he had chores stolen from him that the others didn't mind but that he really had to push himself to do, in the first place, so he really didn't mind how things shook out, in the end. He didn't feel like the biggest loser, at all.
The just under a half hour before the New Year began, was dedicated to fast dancing, with or without partners, with the understanding that the slow dancing would happen after midnight. Only Michael sat out on the fast dancing. Max and Ava would occasionally sit out for a song and keep him company, but Liz, Maria, Isabel and Kyle danced the entire time.
Michael wasn't bored, though. Even with company sitting with him, he never took his eyes off of his pregnant wife, getting her groove on, for longer than a few seconds, at a time. He particularly enjoyed the smile plastered on her face, the whole time.
Ava excused herself from the rest of them, a few minutes before midnight, letting Liz know, "I'll come back when I hear Maria singing Auld Lang Syne, to wish you guys a Happy New Year, too."
Liz smiled at her, nodding in understanding.
Within the final thirty seconds before midnight, all the couples gravitated toward their significant others and counted down the final ten seconds, looking into each others eyes.
Mindful of the sleeping children in the house, they didn't go too wild with the celebration noises but they all said, "Happy New Year!", in unison and then there was silence, as they each shared their first kiss of the year with the person they loved most.
Max had to prompt the engaged couple to come up for air, so they could sing the song and wish the rest of the crew a Happy New Year, as well.
True to her word, once Maria had started to sing, Ava rejoined them and gave hugs and cheek kisses, all around, as she wished them each a Happy New Year.
She saved Max for last and before releasing him, she said quietly, "My answer is, yes, Max. Maybe we could iron out the details sometime tomorrow or rather later today? Does that work for you and Liz?"
Liz overheard her final question and asked with a smile, "Does what work for Max and I?"
Max was momentarily stunned by what Ava had said and he didn't know who to respond to first.
Ava stepped back and said helpfully, "Why don't I give you two some time to talk?"
Max nodded, lightly grasped Liz by the elbow and implored her, "Can we go talk in the garage?"
Liz agreed with obvious concern, "Okay? Max, what's wrong? What's going on? What was Ava talking about, just now?"
Max waited until they were alone together in the garage, to answer her, "I told Ava about your idea. The three of us making a family together."
Liz frowned in puzzlement and asked, "Max! Why would you do that? We've already decided not to pursue it. What if all you've done is get her hopes up for nothing?"
Max smiled encouragingly and clarified, "That's just it, Liz. She said, yes and so do I. I changed my mind, the day after I told you my initial answer but I didn't want to jerk you around by telling you that, unless Ava said yes, so I told her about it, left it totally up to her, an open ended offer and she wants to do it! Do you still want to?"
Liz silently processed his words for several seconds and her eyes welled with tears.
Max's heart sank as he thought he'd somehow gotten the whole thing completely wrong but then Liz smiled at him and said, "I love you for so many reasons, already and now I love you for this, too! Max. Thank-you. Yes. Yes, I very much still want to make a family with you and Ava. You're amazing! She's amazing.
I get to hold your children, someday and they're going to call me, maybe not Mom, but something like it. That's all I want. To raise your babies with you and Ava. Everybody wins."
Max hugged her hard and kissed the side of her head. He suggested, "Maybe we go tell Ava, then, that later today does work for us, to iron out the details together before we proceed?"
Liz smiled in sudden understanding and said, "Ahh, so that's what I overheard. Yeah. If I wasn't free today, I'd have rescheduled whatever it is, for this. For us. For the family we're going to have, together, after all."
Liz and Max returned to the living room, where both Michael and Maria and Kyle and Isabel were liplocked and slow dancing, and Ava was already beginning to tidy up empty drinking glasses.
Liz bee-lined it for her, made her put down what was in her hand and she hugged Ava fiercely, as she said emotionally, "Thank-you for saying yes, Ava. Later today, after we get some sleep, ironing out the details, definitely works for Max and I."
Ava countered with somewhat more subdued emotion, "Thank-you for thinking of it, at all. You're easily the kindest, most generous and loving person, I've ever known, Liz. Which is great because our future child deserves to have at least one cornball parent."
Liz chuckled, wiping moisture from the corners of her eyes, as she vowed, "I will do my best to live up to that!"
January 2nd, 2003.
Shortly after lunch had been eaten, the two married couples of the crew, with Charlie in her Daddy's arms, looked on with nostalgic smiles, remembering their own weddings, as Isabel and Kyle got married.
Isabel wore a cream, knee length, lace wedding dress and Kyle wore a cashmere navy blue suit, a grey dress shirt, and a satin, cream coloured tie with a matching satin pocket hanky.
The bride and groom stood facing one another, in preparation to offer their wedding vows to each other.
Ava, wearing a navy chiffon over gray satin knee length dress, acted as maid of honour, and Lex was the ring bearer, wearing a miniature version of Kyle's suit. Kal officiated, as promised.
After introducing the point of the ceremony, Kal invited Kyle and Isabel to exchange their memorised personal vows.
Isabel handed her bouquet off to Ava and she and Kyle faced each other, holding hands.
Kyle stated with heartfelt solemnity, "I love you, Isabel Amanda Evans. You are my best friend. I trust you, and depend on you and I will always be trustworthy and dependable, in return."
Isabel responded to his vow, similarly, "I love you, Kyle James Valenti. You are my best friend. I choose you to make a family with and to grow with and I will always choose you, above all others."
With only occasional prompting from Kal, they offered to one another, the personal vow they'd written together, speaking as one, in unison, "Today, as I give myself to you in marriage, I promise to celebrate with you, in times of joy and to comfort you, in times of sorrow.
I promise to love you when our love is easy, and also when it is an effort, knowing that the true magic of love, is not to avoid changes, but to follow the path together, hand in hand, as we are at this moment.
When we look to each other, for strength, we will always find it and know that we can face whatever lies ahead, come what may, because we have willingly and eagerly bonded to one another for life and for love. I hereby gratefully and faithfully accept your promises to me."
Kal then directed them through their ring exchange, at the conclusion of which, he declared, "By the power vested in me by the state of Oregon, having met all criteria to be legally wed, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride."
Kyle and Isabel both giggled once before their lips met in a heartfelt, romantic and happy kiss.
When they separated, Kal announced, "I hereby present to all those gathered, Mr. & Mrs. Kyle & Isabel Valenti!"
Maria and Ava witnessed the marriage documents and then Lex asked with loud enthusiasm, "Now, Mommy? Is it time for cake?"
Everyone chuckled, Kyle tousled Lex's unruly mop of dark curls affectionately and Isabel answered him, "Yes, Lex, sweetheart, it is definitely time for cake!"
Charlie heaved an audible sigh and Maria stroked her less abundant and lighter coloured hair, than she'd had at birth, as she consoled, "Not for you, though, sweet one. It'll be a while yet before you can eat cake."
Charlie audibly filled her diaper in response and Maria couldn't be certain that it hadn't been on purpose. Maria smiled at Michael and declared, "She's your daughter, too. This one's yours, spaceboy."
Michael chuckled, kissed Maria on the cheek, stood up and agreed, "No problem. We'll be right back.,
"Hey, Prozac? Save Uncle Awesome some cake, okay, buddy?"
Lex grinned widely at Michael and gave him an emphatic thumb up, as he said, "You got it, Uncle Awesome!"
Kyle asked Isabel jokingly, "Are we sure it isn't some kind of negligence or abuse, on our part, letting Heckle brainwash him, like that?"
Isabel only laughed and said, "Probably, but it's way too late to nip that in the bud, now!"
"What does brainwash mean, Daddy?", Lex asked innocently.
Kyle fibbed, "It has a few meanings but the one just now, just means making someone think good thoughts, okay?"
Lex nodded hard, once and ran off to the kitchen yelling, "I want the biggest cake, with lots and lots of ice-ning, please, Auntie Ava!"
Kyle stated solemnly, "Because he obviously needs more sugar."
Isabel kissed him on the lips and pointed out, "Well, his Mommy and Daddy will only have one wedding day, so let's just let him eat cake!"
Kyle's eyes watered and he said, "Thank-you for saying it that way. That means a lot, to me."
Isabel caressed his face and countered, "You mean a lot, to me and to him. Charlie might be a tougher nut to crack, but I have faith, that you'll come to mean a lot to her, too, my Froggy."
Kyle insisted, "I love them both and I don't require reciprocation but getting it from Lex, anyway, is humbling. I love all three of you, Pookie, and that's permanent."
Isabel smiled and said with happy confidence, "I know."
They joined the others in the kitchen, fed each other wedding cake and then Isabel spoke quietly in Kyle's ear, "Listen can you supervise our cake monster? I need to speak to Ava, privately; girl talk, you know?"
Kyle nodded and took over serving cake to the rest of the crew, while Isabel led Ava out to the garage.
They returned less than five minutes later and Isabel looked troubled. Kyle checked in with her, "Is everything okay? That was about the shortest girl talk I've ever seen or you know, not seen."
Isabel smiled at him reassuringly, "Everything's fine, Kyle. Let's just enjoy being celebrated for a bit before we have dinner, get the kids to bed and then lose ourselves in our wedding night, okay?"
Kyle smiled softly, with a naughty twinkle in his eye and he admitted, "I like the sound of that; especially that last part."
Isabel winked and grinned, as she flirted, "I thought you might."
Michael interrupted them to ask, "Who is giving Charlie her bath, tonight?"
Isabel answered, "I am. Why?"
Michael replied, "Good. So after dinner my wife is all mine. All the rest of mine and Maria's chores are done, for today. You two going to get things moving along here, with the first dance, now, or what?"
Isabel chuckled and teased him, "Impatient, much?"
Michael countered impatiently, "Apparently, you haven't seen my wife, lately or you wouldn't need to ask me that nor be surprised by it."
Isabel assured him, "Yes, we will get this party started, Michael. It's almost like you're still a newlywed."
Michael grimaced at her and said, "Duh?"
Maria slipped her arms around Michael's middle, from beside him, and asked the actual newlyweds, "Is my grumpy spacehubby bothering you guys?"
Kyle and Isabel chuckled and said together, "Not at all. We're just about to get the dancing started."
Michael complained to Maria, "You can't have it both ways, you know. You can't tell me to wait and then keep touching me."
Maria smirked, kissed his frowning mouth, looked into his eyes and suggested, "If you put up and shut up and a smile wouldn't kill you, either, then I promise to make it worth your while, later."
Michael smiled the fakest smile she'd ever seen and she burst out laughing. He led her by the elbow to the designated dancing area in the living room and he made one more attempt to get his own way, "I'm pretty sure this is spousal abuse, Maria."
Maria nuzzled his ear and insisted, "You'll live. And then I'll make you very glad that you're alive."
Michael's whole body stilled, he looked into her eyes and said contritely, "You're right. I'm sorry. I already am glad about that. Thanks for the reminder, angel."
Maria kissed his lips softly and countered, "You don't need to be sorry, spaceboy. A little more patient might be nice, though."
Michael half-smiled wryly and he conceded, "I'm working on that. For you. I'd do anything for you."
Maria assured him as they swayed together to the ballad in play, "That hasn't escaped my attention, in a very long time. Remember, I didn't say no I only said yes but wait."
Michael pondered aloud, "Maybe we should go to a hotel, tonight."
Maria suggested, "Well, we never did finish our mini honeymoon. You can take me to a nooky hotel, tonight."
Michael nuzzled her neck and agreed, "That's a plan. The things I want to do to you, are probably best done, not in this house."
Maria gasped and lightly swatted him as she admonished, "Mission accomplished; now I'm impatient, too!"
Finally, Michael smiled for real and Maria just shook her head at him and smiled back.
After everyone had danced with everyone in male and female pairs only, unlike at Michael's and Maria's wedding, Isabel got everyone's attention, "I just want to thank you guys for being the best crew, ever and for celebrating our day with us but before we wrap this up and get back to our regularly scheduled routines, I have a request.
There's something that I'd like to discuss with all of you, when Kal returns on the fourth, to give Lex his final dose of elixir. It's important, so please don't find other stuff to do and miss Kal's visit. This is something I need to discuss with all of you, okay? Please?"
Max asked, "Why didn't you do it before Kal left, right after the ceremony?"
Isabel hedged vaguely, "Because what I wish to discuss, didn't even enter my mind, until after he'd already gone, or you're right, I would have. So do I have your word, everyone? You'll all be here during Kal's weekly visit on the fourth?"
Everyone nodded. Kyle quietly asked, "Don't I warrant at least a hint?"
Isabel nodded, and agreed, "You do, actually. Ask me for that, right after we consummate our marriage, okay?"
Kyle kissed her lips, smiled and then agreed, "I will do that, Mrs. Valenti."
By four o'clock p.m. celebrating the wedding of Kyle and Isabel had wrapped up.
Michael and Maria had left even before that to go to a hotel together for the night.
The dinner menu was supposed to feed seven people, twice. Ava opted out of dinner with the remaining two couples, in favour of going to the public library, insisting she'd eat something either on the way there or else on the way back.
Kyle suggested, "What if we barbecue, instead? That way we use up the meat?,
"Hey, Pookie, we can let Lex have his favourite canned pasta, tonight, instead, couldn't we? He doesn't like meat, if it's still on the bone and well, it's pork chops, tonight."
Isabel nodded, "Let's not make a habit of it, but yes, for tonight Lex can have mini beef ravioli. I'll sneak extra veggies into him, somehow, tomorrow. Pork chops on the barbie sounds awesome!"
Max also nodded agreeably and said, "Hey, you're the cook, tonight. Whatever you want to do, is fine by me."
Liz concurred with the others and they left Kyle to it.
Kyle made four baked potatoes, steamed green beans and a baby spinach leaf salad, with halved cherry tomatoes and feta cheese, to go with the chops.
While he was grilling the last batch of chops, his mind wandered to his wedding night, ahead, and a couple of the chops caught fire. He nearly cussed, "Oh, sh ... oot!", and he managed to get the flames out, but the chops were pretty charred.
Not wanting to admit to the others, how he'd burned part of the dinner, he used his powers on the chops, expecting the burning process to reverse but nothing happened. Curious if he even still had powers, he purposely spilled a kid friendly tumbler of water and then used his powers, again. It was like the spill never happened.
Kyle muttered to himself, "Good to know that there's a limit, I guess."
Rather than explain what had happened, Kyle cut away most of the charred parts and served what was left of those chops to himself for dinner.
After dinner, while Kyle and Isabel got the kids bathed and ready for bed, Max did his assigned kitchen chores and Liz redid the January chore schedule because it had gotten messy from all the changes to it from the results of casino night. She finished it before Lex made it to bed and so she requested that he put the new one up.
Lex did as he was asked with an air of pride and feeling important. He gave everyone hugs and kisses goodnight and then went to bed happily.
Liz and Max decided to stay downstairs and watch a movie while waiting up for Ava to get back from the library, at least in part to give Kyle and Isabel some temporary privacy on their wedding night.
To their mutual surprise, Kyle and Isabel didn't immediately start making out as soon as they were alone, together but instead found themselves sitting on the edge of Kyle's air mattress, holding hands and just feeling close as they decompressed from the beautiful but hectic day they'd just shared.
Kyle blurted quietly, "It was quite possibly the worst proposal in the history of proposals but you still said yes and then you actually did it! You married me, today. I don't think it's fully sunk in yet. Isabel Evans married me. Just wow."
Isabel squeezed his hand, kissed his cheek and insisted with a smile, "When you know it's the right person, like I did, then the delivery of the proposal doesn't matter all that much.
I married my best friend today and that makes me the happiest I've ever been. Besides, whenever I think of your proposal, all I remember is how adorable you were! I love you, for you, Kyle Valenti."
Kyle quipped solemnly, "Because I'm the best and Isabel Evans settles for nothing less."
They looked at each other straight-faced for only a few seconds before chuckling together and Isabel concurred, "Oh, you know it! Except for one tiny detail; my name is Isabel Valenti, now."
Kyle stared into her eyes, shook his head and muttered, "Call Ripley's.", and he kissed his wife with the reverence and awe that he was feeling.
They didn't rush through making love. They placed soft kisses on each others skin as it was revealed during the removal of their clothing. They explored each other with their mouths and fingertips and somewhere along the way their bodies joined as one flesh, by mutual desire and consent. Kyle continued adoring his wife beyond his own satisfaction, until she trembled with emotional and sensual ecstasy in his arms.
They clung to each other afterward, exchanging soft kisses, with their fingers laced together. Isabel whispered in his ear and Kyle didn't process what she'd whispered, for nearly ten seconds. He looked into her eyes and said with a soft smile, "I'm pretty sure that qualifies as more than a hint about what you want to discuss on the fourth."
Isabel nodded, laughed self-consciously and asked him, "Is that all you have to say?"
Kyle asked, "Confirmed by Ava during the girl talk?"
Isabel nodded, looking at him in concern. Kyle smiled and declared, "This day, no, my life, my entire life, just keeps getting better and better, Mrs. Valenti!"
Isabel asked tentatively, "So you aren't freaked out?"
Kyle caressed her abdomen and asked, "If by freaked out, you really mean, am I overcome with joy? Then yes, I am completely freaked out."
Isabel laughed through relieved tears and admitted, "Well, I was freaked out, at first. I mean I thought it could only happen during breeding pains. If I'd known that it could happen in between times, too, Kyle, then I would have forced myself to tolerate condoms, to give us more time, as just us, you know?"
Kyle countered, "We weren't just us, anyway, Pookie. I'm more than okay with this. The only possible down side, is that now Charlie needs to be aged up, too and that will delight a certain shape-shifter we know. Ahh, that's the real reason you want the big pow wow on the fourth! Makes sense.
After this baby comes, do you maybe want to give that birth control concoction a try? Instead of condoms? If it works then great! More reasonable space between this baby and the next, without resorting to aging up the kids, anymore, if we ever do have more and if it doesn't work, then I guess we get another new person to love and claim as family. I don't mind either outcome. You?"
Isabel winced and declined, "Even if he swears to me that it's safe, I wouldn't want this baby to ingest it through my breast milk, though."
Kyle nodded emphatically and agreed, "Oh, yeah, definitely not! That's why I meant that we should get it for me. I'll go on it. I'm not so crazy about condoms, either."
Isabel's jaw dropped and she asked incredulously, "For you? You'd do that, Kyle? For real?"
Kyle shrugged, nodded and smiled as he confirmed, "Yeah, of course I would. If it doesn't work, we have more kids sooner, if it does work we can have more kids when we choose it and if it permanently sterilises me, then, hey we're stopped at three kids. All outcomes are okay for me."
Isabel caressed his face and said with a teasing smile, "How very zen of you! I will actually contact Kal in the morning and ask him in advance because if I remember right didn't he say that the birth control one is the fussiest one to make?"
Kyle's eyes widened and he confessed, "I have no idea. I can't even think straight, right now because one, I just found out I helped create life and two, there is an incredibly beautiful and sexy, very naked woman in my bed and I think I might be her husband. I'm a little afraid that an alarm clock is about to wake me up."
Isabel kissed him deeply and assured, "You're definitely her husband and whether you're waking or dreaming, the truth of that remains, so you needn't fear the alarm, anymore."
Kyle smiled and said proudly, "Ahh, my voice of reason strikes again!"
Isabel smiled at him seductively, nodded and then she resumed making love with him, as if they hadn't ever stopped.
January 4th 2003
After Kal's final assessment and dosing of Lex, he let Isabel know that he was done, as she'd ordered him to do, and she gathered the crew in the living room.
Only Ava and Kyle didn't look curious, both already knowing the announcement that Isabel was about to make.
Isabel took a deep breath, smiled and announced, "Kyle and I are expecting!"
Michael asked skeptically, "How can you possibly know that, after just what, two nights? Plus wait a second, hold up, isn't it too soon for breeding pains to return, already? Did they, though, Isabel?"
Isabel commended Michael, "So, it's not just me who misunderstood that part of things! Thank-you, Michael! Apparently, our monthly cycles matter, too, with or without the breeding pains."
Max asked, "So wait, you're saying you got pregnant between breeding pains?"
Isabel nodded and Liz blurted out, "In that case, Ava, let's not wait for yours to come back, either, before you get pregnant with Max's child. Whenever you're ready, let's just go for it and get our family started!"
The four adults and one shape-shifter, who were not in on that particular loop, looked between Ava, Liz and Max, with stunned expressions and asked, "Your what?!"