Pairings: AU without aliens. M&L, M&M, A&I
Disclaimer: none of this is mine, not even the idea – it’s based on a challenge by Tequathisy. Roswell and its characters belong to WB/UPN – whatever they’re going to be called in the future.
Summary: Max, Michael and Isabel are the children of one of the wealthiest families in the US. They are spoiled and used to getting everything they want. But they are about to learn that money can’t buy you everything.
I’ve always thought that the worst things that could ever happen to me would be Grandma Claudia’s death. And now, a part of me, very small but still a part of me thinks maybe that would be the best thing.
Liz read over what she had just written in her journal and slammed it shut. She couldn’t believe that she had just written those words. And yet they were true. She grabbed a tissue from the box beside her and wiped away the hot tears beginning to roll down her face. She placed the journal carefully on the floor and moved her chair closer to the hospital bed where her grandmother lay.
It was three nights since she had been woken at 4am by the ringing of her cell phone and summoned to the hospital. It was three days since Claudia Parkers massive heart attack had left her unconscious and fighting for her life in a hospital bed, hooked up to all kinds of machines and wires that beeped and hissed incessantly. She hadn’t regained consciousness since she had been brought in. She didn’t know that her only grandchild had barely left her bedside.
“Grandma, please wake up.” Liz begged.
A nurse came in to the room, smiled kindly at Liz and made a note in the chart before leaving again.
Liz rose to her feet and began walking around the room, exercising her tired and cramped limbs. Out in the hallway she could hear the sounds of people talking, rushing past, a janitor cleaning the floor, laughter. It was such a contrast to the room she was in now, where nothing stirred and everything felt muffled and dead. In the three days that she had spent by her grandmother’s bedside, it felt as though all time had stopped.
With a sigh, she flopped back down on the chair and studied her grandmother’s face intently. The overhead lamp bathed her in an almost serene glow and made her grandmother somehow ethereal. For the first time Liz saw that her grandmother was old and fragile. It was a shocking and frightening development.
Claudia Parker had always been one of the strongest, liveliest women she had ever met. She had become a college lecturer at a time when female college lecturers were unheard of, was one of the worlds foremost authorities on archaeology.
When Liz’s parents had been killed in a traffic accident when she was only three months old, Claudia had become her guardian. Since then she had been everything to Liz, her parent and grandparent, her best friend, her mentor, her rock in hard times, her pillar of support and her inspiration. Claudia was a giant among women so seeing her lying so helpless in a hospital bed was shocking and frightening for Liz. For the first time in her life she realised that Grandma Claudia was not invincible.
There was a gentle tap on the door and Maria Deluca came quietly in. She was dressed in her nurse’s scrubs ready for her nightshift in the paediatric unit two floors up from where Grandma Claudia lay. “Hi sweetie.”
Liz smiled, outside the hospital Maria was boisterous and loud but in the hospital she was a different person, quiet, unobtrusive.
“Is there any chance you’ll be going home tonight?” She asked Liz after hugging her warmly.
Liz shook her head. “I want to be here in case she wakes up.”
Maria sighed. “Liz, you’ve been here for three days, you need to go home and sleep in a proper bed, use a shower. I’ll be upstairs, if anything happens one of the nurses will page me and I’ll be down in thirty seconds.”
“I want to be here.” Liz repeated firmly.
“Ok, I thought you’d say that so I brought you a change of clothes and your mail from home.”
“And my mom sent you a plate of brownies.”
“Maria you are a goddess.” Liz exclaimed, hungrily accepting the box of brownies. She selected a large, crumbly piece and wolfed it down. It had been ages since she had eaten something nice. Actually, she had eaten very little in the last few days.
“I also brought you some magazines to read. When you’re finished can you give them back to me so I can pass them around on my ward?” Maria said, handing Liz a stack of magazines with a flourish.
“In Touch, US Weekly, Life & Style, Star, Celebrity Living? Maria have you ever seen me read any of these?” Liz asked sceptically.
“Gee, thanks Maria.” Her friend said sarcastically.
“I have school work to do.” Liz said, handing them back.
“How much have you done so far?”
“None.” Liz sighed. “I haven’t been able to concentrate.”
Maria grinned. “Exactly. You don’t have to concentrate on these, trust me, they’ll take your mind off things and entertain you for a while.”
“Ok thanks.” Liz smiled She put the magazines down on the ground by her journal. “How’s Alex?”
Maria shrugged and picked up Claudia’s chart. “I haven’t seen him today. I got a call from him yesterday evening and he was really pissed. I don’t know why.”
“Probably a work thing, I don’t know how he does that job.” Liz shook her absentmindedly, an article in one of the magazines had caught attention. “How does she look like that three weeks after having a baby?” She asked holding up a page showing a super skinny actress posing on a red carpet.
“They cheat, they schedule a cesarean section a month before the baby’s due because they can’t wait nine months and don’t want to have to endure labor and then they have liposuction while they’re in hospital.”
“Nobody would be that selfish.” Liz declared, shocked and appalled.
Maria snorted. “You’d think! But one of my friends from nursing school works at one of the private hospitals they use and she swears it’s true.”
“I don’t believe that anybody would be so callous and self centred that they would endanger the life of their child just to lose weight quickly.” Liz said with a shake of her head.
“Celebrities live on a different planet to the rest of us Liz.” Maria commented.
Liz flicked the page in disgust, she was never going to watch another movie with that actress in it.
“What’s she famous for? I’ve never seen her in anything.” She was looking at a picture of a beautiful, voluptuous blonde dressed in a scrap of material that very little to the imagination.
“You don’t know who Isabel Evans is?” Maria asked in mock surprise. “She’s famous for being famous. Her parents are like uber-rich so she doesn’t work. All she does is go to Hollywood parties, look fabulous and date famous men. Her brother is exactly the same, only he dates women.”
“Nice life.” Liz commented dryly. “How do I get that kind of job?”
“You’ll need to find a sugar daddy I guess.” Maria grinned. She glanced at her watch and stood up. “I should go, are you sure that you don’t want to go home?”
“I’m certain, thanks Maria.” Liz told her.
Maria kissed Grandma Claudia’s cheek then hugged Liz before leaving the room.
A couple of hours later, Liz was shocked to see the time, it was past midnight. She had been so engrossed in the magazines that Maria had brought with her that she hadn’t noticed the evening fly by. She smiled, Maria knew what she was talking about after all.
As she tidied up the room and prepared to bed down for the night, she realized that she had never opened the mail. There were a couple of get well cards from friends and distant relatives of her grandmother, some bills and one from the insurance company. There was something about the envelope that gave her a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach. She knew that she wasn't going to like what it said.
Dear Ms Parker,
Subject to your claim……
Liz sank onto the uncomfortable hospital chair, buried her face in her hands and wept.
“You look as tired as I feel, did you get any sleep last night?” Maria asked when she met Liz in the canteen for breakfast the next morning.
“No.” Liz choked out, she shoved the letter to Maria who scanned it quickly and then thumped the table with her fist.
“Those bastards, how can they do that?” Maria growled.
Liz shrugged. “Apparently they can, I called their 24 hour helpline and basically there’s nothing I can do, if I appeal it’ll just be denied again. What am I going to do Maria? I already got the initial bill from the hospital and I can just about pay that but I won’t be able to afford long term care.” She wailed.
Maria patted her friend’s hand. “Sweetie, I don’t know. The first thing you have to do is talk to the woman in accounts. She might be able to help you out. And then, your Grandma must have money in her account that you can use.”
“I guess.” Liz sighed, brushing he tears away with a paper napkin.
“Why don’t you come home with me today and get some sleep?” Maria suggested, barely suppressing a yawn.
“I want to wait until rounds to see what the doctor says. You should go, you look exhausted.” Liz said with a shake of her head.
Maria nodded. “Ok, I’ll see you tonight. Love you.”
Liz waved her off sadly. She picked up the letter from the table and read through it again, hoping against hope that it might have changed. But it remained the same, the insurance company would only pay for Grandma Claudia’s first three days in hospital and wouldn’t pay for anything longer than that. She was so screwed.
“Excuse me, is this seat taken?” An impeccably dressed middle-aged woman asked pointing to the chair Maria had vacated minutes earlier. Liz nodded without lifting her gaze from the letter.
“I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation you were having with that nurse. Insurance company ripping you off?” The woman asked knowingly.
Startled by her question, Liz looked up. “Something like that. They said my Grandma isn’t covered for a long term stay in hospital.”
The woman nodded sagely. “How old are you dear?”
“I’m twenty three.” Liz frowned.
“Can you dance?”
Liz frowned. “I took dance classes for years, what does that have to do with anything?”
“I can help you. I own a club and I’m looking for dancers. The girls who work there make very good money. Lots of them buy their own houses after two years or put themselves through college, some of them make $2,000 a week in tips.”
“I’m not interested.” Liz said, rising from the table and gathering her belongings.
“It’s not a seedy club, nothing illegal happens there. All my dancers are well protected. A girl like you could make good money.” The woman placed her hand on Liz's arm to stop her from leaving. “Can you really turn down an offer of $2,000 a week?”
Liz hesitated before staring the woman down. “I’m not interested in being a whore for the entertainment of dirty old men.”
“It’s not like that, I assure you.” The woman said, not the least bit offended by Liz's tone or words. “Take my card and if you change your mind, get back to me.”
“That won’t happen.” Liz spat out, but she snapped the woman’s card from her as she stormed off.
When Maria came into work that night, she brought Alex with her and they went straight to Grandma Claudia’s room where they found a very distressed Liz pacing the floor.
“What is it?” Maria asked in alarm, immediately picking up the chart from the foot of the bed to see what had happened.
“It’s not Grandma.” Liz assured her. “I spoke to that woman in finance today and she wasn’t helpful at all. When I told her about the insurance company refusing to pay out for Grandma, she got all snooty with me and told me that unless I was able to pay the hospital would have to move grandma to county hospital or to a home. She needs to stay here, they have to best facilities. What am I going to do?”
“The house is in your name isn’t it?” Alex asked. When Liz nodded, he continued. “Maybe you could sell it or take out a mortgage on it.”
Liz dried her eyes. “I never thought of that. I wouldn’t sell it, it’s my parent’s house, it’s all I have left of them but I could mortgage it.”
“See, everything’s not lost. It’ll be ok.” Maria smiled.
“Thanks Alex.” Liz said as she hugged him.
“No problem, now if you could help me with my problem this might just be a good day after all.”
“Maria mentioned you were having a problem at the center, what is it?” Liz asked in concern.
Alex sighed. “When we set up the center, the building we use was given to us by a man called Jake Black, his daughter had died of a drug overdose and he wanted to help other kids who found themselves in trouble before they got hooked on drugs. Anyway, he was supposed to give the deeds of the building over to us but he died before he got a chance to. And now his nephew is selling the land it’s on andour building to a development company. Anyway to make a long story short, they want to knock the building to make way for a new mall so we’re going to be kicked out.”
“That’s terrible.” The two girls exclaimed at once. “Will they give you a new site?” Maria asked.
“No, we asked, but it’s going to be an upmarket development so they don’t want a teenage drop in center anywhere in the locality. I’ve a meeting tomorrow with someone from Evan’s Associates to see if they’ll drop us a bone but I’m not optimistic.” Alex explained mournfully.
“Evan’s Associates?” Maria repeated. “As in Isabel Evans?”
“Who is Isabel Evan’s?”
“She’s like a society princess, she’s in all the magazines Alex.” Liz explained, as though Alex should have known.
“Listen to her, she only found out last night.” Maria laughed. “I have to go now, please go home and get some sleep Liz. I’ll be here if anything happens.”
“I’m not taking no for an answer.” Alex warned. “When I go, you’re either walking out beside me or I’m carrying you out on my shoulder.”
“Liz laughed at the image. “Fine, I’ll go home tonight. I have to look my best if I’m going to meet the bank manager tomorrow.”
Liz fidgeted nervously as the bank manager went through her application for a mortgage. She couldn’t figure out if the noises he was making were good or bad.
He looked up at her through his wire-rimmed glasses. “Ms Parker, it says here you’re still a student?”
“Yes, at UCLA, I’m graduating in a couple of months. I was planning to go on to do a postgraduate course but that can wait. I’ve already had a couple of offers from several pharmaceutical companies and they’re offering very good salaries.” Liz replied.
“Mmhmm.” He glanced down at the form again. “The house is currently in your grandmother’s name?”
“It’s in trust for me, I’ll own it when I turn twenty five.” Liz explained.
“I see.” He turned to his computer and pressed a few buttons. “Liz, I know that you’re in a very difficult position and I’d really like to help you but unfortunately I can’t approve a second mortgage on this property.”
“Wait. What do you mean by a second mortgage?” Liz asked in confusion.
The bank manager blinked. “I thought you knew. Your grandmother took out a mortgage on the house a few years ago to pay for your college tuition fees.”
Liz shook her head dumbly. “I had no idea.”
“Oh…I’m sorry I assumed you knew.”
“But….why? I thought my grandmother had money, she told me that there was money in my trust fund to cover my tuition.” Liz said in disbelief and confusion.
The bank manger removed his glasses and wiped them with a cloth. “Liz, your grandmother is a terrific woman and we all love her. She's fearless and smart, she's really special. But she's terrible with money. I did my best to…. Unfortunately she chose to invest some of the money in the trust fund in a small company that went bust.”
“So there’s no money. Is that why she was still working instead of retiring like she wanted to?” Liz asked in a small voice.
“I’m afraid so.” The bank manager confirmed.
“Is there nothing you can do?” Liz pleaded.
“I can give you a small student loan, it might keep the wolf from the door until you graduate but apart from that, I’m afraid not.”
“I need more than to keep the wolf from the door, my grandmother is extremely ill. She needs the best hospital care I can get her, please.” Liz cried, fat tears rolling down her cheek.
“I’m sorry Liz. There’s nothing I can do.”
Liz turned the small white card over in her hand several times. She picked up the phone, dialed the number and then slammed it down before it got a chance to ring. “Come on Liz, you have to do this. It’s the only option.” She told herself.
She picked up the phone pressed redial and listened to the phone ring.
“Hello, the Dangerzone. How may I help you?….Hello…..hello, is there anyone there?”
“Yes…hello. I’d like to speak to Jenny Wilson please.” Liz stammered.
“One moment please.”
“Hello, this is Jenny Wilson, how can I help you?”
Liz took a deep breath. “Hello, this is Liz Parker. We met yesterday in the hospital. I was wondering if…if you’re still looking for dancers.”