In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult) COMPLETE 3/10/13

Finished stories that feature the characters from the show, but there are no aliens. All fics completed on the main AU without Aliens board will eventually be moved here.

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 21

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:54 am

Earth2Mama: It does happen. He was getting desperate and he knew it would get under Tess’ skin. LOL, Tess knows how to get back at him though, doesn’t she?

keepsmiling7: Kyle wasn’t about to let Jake get away with that!

Natalie36: He’s a trip, right?

mary mary: Tess and Maria would do well going into business together. Isabel is tough, but she’s fair. Now the parents on the other hand, we’ll see…

Maiqu: It’ll be good for both of them. We’re hoping their parents understand and aren’t too hard on them. Tess and Kyle… they’re just this side of crazy!

Alien_Friend: Yup, whether or not Tess is willing to admit it, she’s still in love with him!

Tess and Maria could both use an opportunity like their business idea.

Sam’s a sweetheart. They weren’t expecting to get caught sneaking back into school, lol.

dreambeliever: It’s a good move for Tess and Maria. Explosive… yeah, probably a good word for it.

begonia9508: Getting under Tess’ skin was the whole point, so Kyle achieved his goal.

sarammlover: Thanks! Kyle and Tess are a lot of fun to write here. Yeah, he might’ve gotten extra points with her if Tess had heard that!

killjoy: Well, we certainly can’t fault you for that, lol! We’re glad you’re enjoying Kyle and Tess here.

Tess certainly gives as good as she gets, doesn’t she?

kismet: We’re happy to hear that!

We think so too.

Hopefully Maria and Andy have started to rebuild that foundation for their relationship and it’s strong enough to withstand this minor setback.

quelbebek: Who better to find those two?

Since Sam hasn’t really been in any trouble Alex and Isabel have had no reason to meet… yet. And if they’ve passed each other on the street in their small town, they’ve managed to overlook each other. Nah, the only reason Isabel tends to avoid men with kids is because those kids usually attend her school and she doesn’t want to cross any lines… but even high school principals deserve to find tha

You can count on Kyle and Tess continuing with their amusing streak. The business and dinner with the family… we’ll see how both go. Oh, Max and Tess will talk – it’s just a matter of time. Oh, just like so many of the others, Tess could help Max if he would just let it happen. We’ll see about Max and Liz soon… it’s just gonna depend on where those two take us!



Part 21

Max watched the Kindergartners and Preschoolers as they burst free from the confines of the school building, their voices excited and energetic as they were released for the day. He leaned back against his truck, watching the doors as the children scattered and ran to their parents and he smiled when he saw Kara step out of the building, carrying her little backpack and a piece of poster board that had been folded in half to make it easier to carry.

She paused at the steps and turned sideways to carefully step down, slowly making her way to the sidewalk. She looked up to search for Mrs. Meacham and a big smile graced her young features when she saw Daddy waiting for her. “Daddy!” She rushed past some of the other kids, her grip on her poster slipping as she neared him, and he managed to grab it as he crouched down and caught her in his arms.

“How’s my baby girl doin’, huh?” he asked as he kissed her cheek and stood up again. “You have a good day at school?”

She giggled when his goatee tickled her cheek. “We made a pitcher,” she said as she pointed to the poster board he was holding.

“Ya did, huh?”

“Uh-huh.”

He pulled her backpack off of her shoulders as he opened the back door and leaned inside to settle her in her car seat. “Wanna show me?” He buckled her into her seat and paused when she looked uncertain. “Tell ya what,” he reached across her to place the poster board on the seat and placed her pack on top of it, “you can think about it, okay?”

She nodded. “Tay.”

Max closed the door and hurried around to climb into the driver’s seat, turning the engine over and glancing at his daughter in the mirror. Usually she jumped at the chance to show off whatever she had done at school and it worried him that she was hesitating now.

“Where we’re goin’, Daddy?” she asked as she looked out through the windows.

He reached back between the seats to tug on her foot. “We’re gonna run a few errands and then we’re gonna go watch your brothers at football practice.”

“Mommy too?”

“Not right now, baby girl. Mommy’s at work, but we’re gonna all have dinner together after she gets home.”

“Daddy too?”

Max winced. His kids had never had to wonder if he or Liz were going to be there for dinner until he had started missing meals, coming home late, and being absent from their activities outside of school. “Yeah, Daddy, too.”

*****

Maria stepped into the office and walked up to the counter, smiling slightly at the man pacing at the opposite end of the confined area. A woman flipping through a stack of folders looked up when Maria cleared her throat.

“May I help you?”

“Yes, I’m here to see Principal Russell.”

“Ah, you must be Mrs. Evans.” She smiled sympathetically. “She’ll be with you in just a few minutes.”

“Um, excuse me,” the pacing man inquired. “I couldn’t help but overhear you. May I ask why you’re here?”

“Do I know you?” Maria asked.

“Not that I know of, no. It’s just that I’m here to meet with Principal Russell too, and I just wondered if you’re here because your kid was caught skipping school too.”

Maria frowned. “Um... yeah, I am.”

Alex stepped back and crossed his arms over his chest. “Your son... Andy Evans?”

“That’s right,” Maria said, still confused. “How did you know that?”

“Because he’s the new kid in school and my daughter doesn’t just skip class.”

Suddenly Maria knew what this was all about and she shot an angry glare at the man in front of her. “Are you saying that it’s my son’s fault?”

“I’m sayin’ Sam seems to have taken your son under her wing and now she’s cuttin’ classes.”

“You’re Sam’s father,” Maria mumbled and shook her head to clear it. “It’s not Andy’s fault if she went along with him.”

“No, but it was obviously his idea!”

She placed her hands on her hips. “What makes you think that?” Okay, it probably was, but this man didn’t know anything about Andy.

How could she try to turn this around and make it Sam’s fault? “Uh, how about because my daughter does not ditch her classes? They were caught tryin’ to get back INSIDE the school, so obviously she – “

“Mrs. Evans, Mr. Whitman, Principal Russell will see you now,” the woman behind the counter said, cutting off any further arguing.

Both parents fell silent and glanced at the woman in the room. They had forgotten about her. “Alright,” Maria sighed and turned the back to Alex to go into the principal’s office.

Andy stared at the floor when his mother entered the office so he wouldn’t have to see the look of disappointment on her face. As if talking to the principal and his stupid counselor wasn’t enough, now he had to deal with his mom... and Sam’s dad.

Sam slouched down in an attempt to make herself smaller when her dad walked in, knowing he wasn’t going to be happy with her. She was going to be grounded for the rest of her life!

“Mrs. Evans, Mr. Whitman, please have a seat,” Isabel said and gestured to the chairs in front of her desk.

Andy glanced up at his mom when she and Sam’s dad sat down facing the principal. Her posture was rigid and when she turned her head to look at him he could see that she was angry, but it was the disappointment lurking beneath that made him feel like shit.

“As you already know,” Isabel started, “you were called because Andy and Sam decided to skip their last class of the day. I don’t have to tell you that skipping classes is something we don’t tolerate in this school and that there will be consequences.”

“Yes, there will be,” Alex said sternly as he shot a quick glance at his daughter.

Sam wished she could just disappear in that moment. That was not a look she had ever seen on her dad’s face and it wasn’t one she ever wanted to see again.

Maria turned her attention back to Principal Russell. “Can I assume that detention will be part of the punishment?”

Isabel nodded. “Detention for today, yes. In addition to detention, I’ve already talked to Counselor Guerin as well and we both think it would be a good idea if Andy would help him with coaching the basketball team.”

“I’m not helpin’ that dick with anything,” Andy stated defiantly. This was all that idiot counselor’s fault anyway. Why couldn’t he have just let them get back to class?

“Andy,” Maria glared at him. “Do not talk like that about Mr. Guerin.”

“Whatever.”

“Cut it out, Andy,” Sam mumbled. She knew he was angry and hurt, but he was only making things worse for him and his mom.

Maria turned to the principal again and nodded. “He’ll help, Principal Russell.”

“And for Sam?” Alex asked.

“I’ve already talked to her as well and we’ve both agreed that if she wants to hang out with Andy, then they should do that in school. She’s going to tutor him and some of the other students in math since she’s very good at that subject.”

Alex shifted in his chair. “Look, Principal Russell, I’m sure you know your job, but I don’t think that’s the best answer here.”

Isabel lifted her eyebrows in surprise and turned to the kids. “You two can go to detention now. And, Mrs. Evans, Counselor Guerin is waiting for you in his office to go over the details.”

She waited until everyone but Alex had left the room and she walked around her desk to lean back against it, facing the man directly. “What would you suggest for Sam?”

“Somethin’ that doesn’t put her in constant contact with a bad influence.” He shook his head when she lifted one eyebrow in question. “I know Andy has some issues and I’m not suggestin’ that he’s no good, but my daughter has a very good record and I don’t wanna see all that hard work just go down the drain.”

“No one forced her to go with Andy, Mr. Whitman.”

“I don’t see how putting her in a position where she’s around him all the time is gonna prevent this from happenin’ again.”

“It may not. Look, kids always want what they can’t have. So, trying to separate them would only make things worse, Mr. Whitman.”

Alex pulled his glasses off and raised his right hand to rub his temple. “This was so much easier when she was little and she thought I had all the answers.”

Isabel laughed. “She’s a good student, Mr. Whitman, and she’s very intelligent. I’m sure she’s not gonna end up on the wrong side of the tracks just because of a boy.”

“I just always thought if I was gonna have to worry about her cuttin’ classes it’d be with the twins.” He shook his head. “I can’t believe they weren’t involved.”

“Oh, they were. Tried to come up with a cover story for them.”

“Let me guess... Nick tripped himself up somewhere in the lie.” He chuckled slightly. “That boy couldn’t lie if his life depended on it.”

Isabel nodded. “Their story wasn’t the best.” She glanced at her watch. “Alright, Mr. Whitman, there’s a class waiting for me.”

“You spend time in the classes?” he asked, surprised.

“If one of the other teachers is out for some reason, yes.”

“Oh, well, that’s good... the kids respond better when they know that you’re involved in things.”

“They do,” she agreed and started to head for the door.

He stood up and followed her, clearing his throat as he slid his glasses back on. “So, I noticed you’re not wearin’ a wedding ring... would it be improper for me to ask if there’s a Mr. Russell at home?”

Isabel glanced at the floor and almost blushed at the sudden turn of events. “No, there’s not,” she said and managed to look at him again.

He smiled at the slightest hint of a blush on her cheeks. “And if I were to ask you to dinner?”

She straightened up a little. “Then I would tell you that you’re not asking me out during an official talk in school.”

“Very well, then.” He lowered his voice as he moved past her to step out of the office. “I’ll be lookin’ for you outside of school when there’s no official business bein’ conducted.” He winked at her before turning to leave. “I’ll see ya ‘round, Ms. Russell.”

*****

It seemed like the hallway to Michael’s office was endlessly long as Maria walked towards her destination. She wasn’t really looking forward to talking to him – bad memories came to mind as she thought of other experiences of meetings with teachers, principals or counselors from the school in Miami. She could still see the people as clearly as if they were standing in front of her now, how they had looked at her – as if she was the worst mother in the world, how they had told her that she needed to change Andy’s situation and get control of things and she hadn’t had any idea how to do that.

Nearly a month had passed since they had arrived in Roswell and Andy had started to attend West Roswell High. So far she had only been there the one time, on that first day. Maria had hoped that things would get better and it had seemed like they really were going that way, but now that she was here… what if was all just starting again?

She knocked on the counselor’s door weakly, wondering if he could have even heard it.

“C’mon in,” a male voice called from inside.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Guerin…” she said when she opened the door. They had agreed to use their first names when Andy wasn’t around, but right now it just didn’t seem right.

He studied her for several seconds when she walked into past his desk, her movements slow and unsure. It hadn’t escaped his notice that she had addressed him by using his last name, so he decided to go with that as well for now.

He greeted her with a nod, “Mrs. Evans,” and gestured to the seat in front of him, “have a seat.” Michael waited until she had found a comfortable sitting position before he started to talk. “I guess you’ve already talked to Principal Russell and you know why you’ve been called?”

“Yeah,” she croaked and coughed slightly. “Yes, I know that Andy skipped his last class.”

He nodded. “Do you know why?”

She shook her head. “No, I haven’t really had a chance to talk to my son and Principal Russell sent me down here immediately… Listen,” she hurried to say, “I know that you’re gonna tell me that I need to make sure this doesn’t happen again and…”

“It’s not your fault,” Michael interrupted her.

She frowned at him. “What?”

“It’s not your fault that Andy skipped a class, Mrs. Evans… Maria. A lot of students do that week after week and you have no idea how often parents are called to come out here.” He tried to smile a little because he had a feeling that the woman was under so much pressure. “Kids do that now and then… even the good and busy students. I was actually a little surprised that Andy made it three weeks without a skipped class. To be honest, I was expecting it a lot sooner.”

Maria felt some of the worry in her ease at his words and the realization that he wasn’t blaming her.

“I don’t know the whole story yet myself. I just talked to Sam and Andy for a brief moment after I found them, while they were trying to sneak back into school. But I don’t think he did it because of provocation or to attract attention like he used to do back in his former school.”

“No?” she asked, surprised. “But why would he cut a class then?” She lifted one eyebrow. “Please tell me it’s not because he wanted to impress this girl.”

Michael chuckled a little at the mother’s way of thinking. Sure, that was always a possibility as well, but he wasn’t sure that fit Andy’s character. Besides that, Sam Whitman wasn’t the type of girl who was impressed by little wanna-be bad boys who cut classes. “No, one of his teachers told me that Andy and another student had a fight during their break before the last class of the day.”

Maria winced. This wasn’t the first time Andy had gotten himself into a fight at school. “How bad was it?”

“They got interrupted before anything serious could happen. I know the other kid and he’s a little troublemaker. Provokes and picks up fights whenever the opportunity arises.” He looked at her intensely. “I’m pretty sure the boy dropped a comment about his father or something else related to his past.”

“Oh.” Maria opened her mouth and closed it again because she didn’t really know what to say.

“This’s a small town, so Andy’s past is probably no secret for the students. From what I’ve already seen from your son, I can tell that Andy isn’t someone who goes out of his way to pick up fights on his own. He’s pretty calm and he’s on his way to makin’ some friends here. You don’t have to worry about this girl, Sam Whitman. She’s a good student and she’s also a good friend of the Evans twins. My guess is that the girl went after Andy when he got upset about whatever caused the fight with the other boy.”

Maria nodded. “That would make sense… I mean, Andy reacts pretty intensely as soon as someone mentions his father.”

“He’s still trying to avoid that topic as much as he can,” Michael said. “We can’t expect too much from him after such a short time.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Can I ask you something? Have you noticed any changes in him since you moved here? I mean, small things, maybe even something that no one but those closest to him would notice?”

Maria nodded, remembering that morning. “Yeah, actually I did notice something recently. The other day was the first time that he’s said good morning to me in so long, and we also had a little conversation this morning during breakfast that didn’t end up in a fight. And he’s a little bit more present, ya know? Not always locked in his room with loud music.” She shook her head. “That sounds really stupid, doesn’t it? I mean, those things should be normal.”

Michael shook his head. “That’s not stupid. It’s exactly what I meant. And sure, things like this should be normal… but your current family situation is anything but normal for everyone involved. Those things will be normal again, though,” he promised.

“I hope you’re right.” She glanced out through the window for a few moments, considering whether or not she should bring up something she had been thinking about for the last few days. “Do you think it’s too early for me and Andy to move out into our own place again?” she blurted out before she could stop the words. “Don’t get me wrong, my family is great and all, but the house is so… crowded, you know? I feel like I can’t do anything with my son without my mother or Kyle watching to see what’ll happen. I know they mean well and I’m thankful for their support and everything they’ve done, but… I just feel like we need our own space.”

“You’ve already got an idea where you wanna live?”

“There’s a small house not far from my mother’s; it has a little garden and a yard big enough for Theo. Nothing really special, but it looks nice… I haven’t brought it up at home yet. I’m not sure how they’re gonna react, especially Andy. He’s not handling any changes very well right now.”

Michael thought about his answer for a moment as he walked over to the small table at the other end of his office. “Want a cup?” He gestured to the full coffeepot.

She nodded. “Sure.”

He filled their cups with the dark liquid. “Sugar? Milk?”

“No, black is fine.”

“We’ve got somethin’ in common then.” He walked over to her, placing the cups on the desk and sitting down again.

“Thanks,” Maria took her drink in her hands and leaned back in the chair again.

“So, about your question… I think it’s probably a good idea.”

Maria lifted her eyebrows. “Really?” She had expected that he would tell her it was too soon.

“Andy has to learn that changes are necessary and he already knows that living at your Mom’s house is a temporary situation. And moving out before he gets too used to it is probably better than waiting until he’s settled in. You have to make sure that he knows that he won’t lose anything with moving to a new house. It’s still Roswell; his family is still around…”

She bit her lip. “His room at my mother’s house is really tiny and most of his stuff is still packed in boxes because there’s just no room for it.”

He smiled a little. “That’s one more good reason to move into your own place.” He took a sip of his coffee. “Just prepare him, make him a part of the decision. You could have a look at the house together and then ask him what he wants. But make sure he knows what you want too.”

“I’ll do that,” she mumbled and stared out through the window again, watching some students leaving the building.

“Did Principal Russell already tell you that Andy’s gonna help me with the school basketball team for the next few weeks?” He chuckled. “She makes sure that every student who skips a class has something to do for the school.”

“Yeah, she had told me earlier. Guess Andy isn’t too pleased about that.”

Michael laughed. “No, especially since he’ll have to spend even more time with me now. But I think it’s probably a good idea. Maybe I can get to know him a little better then. I know he likes basketball and there’s always the chance that he’ll forget about me being his counselor during the hours there… and speaking of that,” he glanced at his watch, realizing that it was getting late, “I’m sorry, Maria, but I’ve gotta go for now.”

“Oh, sure. No problem.” She placed the empty cup on the desk and stood up when he did. She couldn’t believe how much time had passed since she had come to his office and it had actually turned out to be one of the best talks she had ever had in a school building.

“I hope you don’t have to come here again too soon,” he told her with a wink and walked around the desk to shake her hand. Honestly, he wanted to see her again soon, but he knew he couldn’t see her the way he wanted to yet.

“Yeah, I hope so, too,” she said, smiling and grabbing his hand in response. “Goodbye, Michael.”



The final voting round is up on our Author´s page. Come and vote one last time. :)
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 22

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Mar 28, 2010 5:57 am

begonia9508: Alex is full of surprises!

Think Michael’s gonna be roped into helping her move, huh?

mary mary: We’re glad you’re enjoying Alex. Michael will do his best to help Maria too.

killjoy: You’re right, Alex is facing something he hasn’t yet had to face. Andy has some things to work through and as a father Alex has every right to be concerned about his daughter hanging around with someone he sees as a bad influence.

guelbebek: Somewhere in there, you’ve got the answer. We’ll find out what was in Kara’s picture soon.

Don’t worry, Alex will get past his attitude with Maria. Right now, that protective streak where is daughter is concerned is showing itself. Isabel was right though; Andy didn’t pressure Sam into skipping class, and in fact, didn’t even ask her to go with him.

keepsmiling7: Kara definitely made Max stop and think.

We’ll find out about the picture and Kara’s hesitation soon.

Alien_Friend: Cool, we’re very glad you’re enjoying the Michael/Maria/Andy storyline.

We’ll find out how Andy reacts to the idea of moving.

Aww, Kara’s a sweetheart for sure and she’s a Daddy’s girl! We’ll find out about the picture very soon.

Alex didn’t waste any time at all with Isabel. Don’t worry, Alex will get over his issue with Maria. Accepting other guys in his daughter’s life will take some adjusting for our single dad.

Earth2Mama: Kara’s reaction definitely provided a bit of a wakeup call for Max.

Nope, not a good first meeting… hopefully it’ll get better.

LOL, the man may not be the smoothest, but at least he let her know he was interested.

Maiqu: LOL, Alex is so versatile. More M/M moments to come!

sarammlover: Involvement is a key element and it’s too bad there isn’t more of that going on. Michael has a lot of experience in the area of pain and healing, so expect more of that from him.

Eva: LOL, perhaps a bit of unconscious influence in our writing there, huh? We’re glad you’re enjoying it!

Michael’s advice is sound and Maria needs someone outside of her family and friends to tell her she’s doing good and to give her some hope.


Part 22

Liz walked down the small aisle between the way-too-high shelves in the supermarket and cursed when she saw that once again they had rearranged everything and she couldn’t find the white bread where it had been the last time. Why the hell did they refuse to leave things where they were?

“Looking for something?” a female voice asked from behind her, tone amused.

Liz whirled around and her features automatically softened when she saw her sister-in-law. “Hey, Tess.”

“Hey. They moved everything around again, huh?”

“Yeah, I’m starting to get the feeling that they’re doin’ it almost every week just to annoy me.”

“Tactics, Liz. So people have to go around the whole market and then they see things they didn’t originally want, but buy them now because they see them.”

“Bastards,” the other woman muttered.

Tess laughed. “I already got what I wanted, so I can help you with the rest.”

Liz glanced at the few items in her hands and then looked back at Tess. “Thanks, I’ll be finished if I can just find the bread. I forgot to pick up the secret decoder map when I walked in,” she muttered and rolled her eyes. “What were you shopping for? Already sick of take-out and room service?”

“Actually, I’m just buying some chocolate. The ones they have in the hotel suck.”

“Hotel chocolate usually leaves a lot to be desired. You should order from the new diner over on the corner of Main and Alvarez... they have a chocolate cake with a center made of hot fudge.” Liz smiled. “Complete chocolate overdose, but it’s the perfect thing when you’re feeling down or you just hate the whole world.”

Tess nodded. “I’ll try that one. Hey... you wanna stop and get a coffee? Or do you need to be home soon?”

Liz checked her watch. “Coffee would be nice. Max already picked Kara up and he’s handling the twins and getting their homework started tonight, so I’ve got some time before I need to get home.”

“Cool. Oh, hey, look what I just found,” Tess gestured to the bread.

“Perfect! You would not believe how much bread we go through.” She found two nice soft loaves and pulled them off of the shelf. “I swear, I don’t know where those boys put the food they eat. They’re like eating machines.”

“I think that’s normal for boys their age. I remember Kyle and Max in high school. Was there a time they weren’t eating something?”

“Well, that’s true; they were always stuffing their faces. And yet they never seemed to gain so much as an ounce.” She shook her head. “It’s sooo not fair.”

“Yeah, just thinking about chocolate makes me gain weight.”

“That makes two of us, girl.” They walked up to the registers and waited in line for several minutes before making their purchases and leaving the store. “Where should we go?” Liz asked when they were back on the street and she had placed the few things she had bought in her car.

“Well, there’s that tacky little alien cafe over on Main or... I happened to notice that Roswell got with the 21st century, so we could drive a few blocks over and go to the Starbucks.”

Liz smiled. “Let’s take the alien cafe.”

Tess rolled her eyes. Some things would never change and Liz would probably always hang out at the crazy little cafe when she had the opportunity. “Alright, guess we’ll be havin’ a cup of Kryptonian Coffee or whatever they’re callin’ it now.” She giggled and shook her head.

Liz laughed. “You can always have an Alien Blast.”

“An Alien Blast... God, that takes me back to high school.”

“Yeah, we used to hang out there a lot, huh?”

“Try all the time. Worked there, hung out there...” She waggled her eyebrows playfully. “Made out there.”

“I think almost all of us had their first kiss over there.”

“Uh-huh... bet that wasn’t the only first you had over there.” Tess smirked and rolled her eyes at her sister-in-law. “Please, girl, you and Max were not as subtle as we’ve all let you think you were.”

Liz opened the front door of the cafe for both of them. “Oh, look, it still looks like it did back in high school.” She gestured to a booth at the end of the room that had been theirs all through high school. “Wanna sit over there?”

“Yeah,” Tess laughed, not missing the way Liz ignored her comment.

“And Max and I did NOT have sex in here – just for the record.”

“You just assume I was talkin’ about sex... there are plenty of firsts that don’t include sex.” She slid into the booth and her eyes automatically started searching the wide strip of wood that ran along the wall.

“What’re ya looking for?”

“Hmm? Nothing,” Tess denied. “Just looking at the things kids have engraved over the years.” She nudged the napkin holder out of the way when the waitress came over and struck up a conversation with Liz. There it was, she thought. A heart with T.E. + K.V. carved inside. Kyle had carved it into the wood one afternoon when they had been sitting there, waiting for their burgers.

“I’ll take an Alien Blast,” Tess told the waitress with a grin.

“Feeling nostalgic, Tess?” Liz asked with a smirk. She knew exactly what was hidden behind the napkin holder.

“Huh?”

“Bein’ back here... some of those old feelings trying to get your attention?”

“Which old feelings? Ya mean the need to gag every time I saw you and Max making out?”

Liz laughed and shrugged one shoulder. “You’re as bad as the boys. And it’s not like you and Kyle were any better.”

“Yeah until he cheated on me!”

“You’re still beating that dead horse?” Liz glanced up and thanked the waitress when she dropped off their order and then disappeared again. “Good grief, give that man a break, Tess.”

“But it’s the truth, Liz.”

“Yeah, it’s true, but it also happened a long time ago. You still like him, he still likes you... how’s he gonna prove to you that he’s changed if you won’t give him a chance?”

“I will. Eventually. I just don’t want to make it too easy for him.”

“Well, no worries there... from what I’ve heard you’re making it anything but easy for him.”

“What about you and Max, girl?”

Liz sighed. “I don’t know. One day it’s like things are getting better and the next day he’s back to acting like a complete ass and I just wanna smack him upside his thick head.”

“Yeah, that sounds like him. He thinks he can deal with it all alone.”

“I just wish he would talk to me; he’s never talked to me about what happened the day of the accident and anytime I’ve tried to bring it up he just walks out.”

“I bet he’s blaming himself for what happened, Liz. We have to find a way to get through to him.”

“I’m sure you’re right. And now he’s started traveling, taking over the legwork that Andrew used to do and that scares me... right now the distance is bad enough but at least we’re in the same space, ya know? Traveling just creates a whole new kind of distance and I’m...” she swallowed hard, “I’m scared it’s gonna let him shut me out completely.”

Tess winced. “I’m sorry, Liz.” She reached across the table to take her hand. “Let me know if I can do anything for ya, okay? I can watch Kara or help ya around the house, just tell me.”

“Come to dinner tomorrow night, Tess.”

“Sure. I can bring that cake you were talkin’ about for dessert.”

Liz smiled. “The boys’ practice runs an hour later on Tuesdays... think you could pick them up on your way over?”

“Sure I’ll bring them over and then we can prepare dinner together.”

“That sounds like fun. Any preference for dinner? Or does it matter as long as it’s homemade?”

“Homemade sounds good to me. You pick whatever you’re in the mood for. Maybe ask the kids what they want.”

“I’m doing good if I can get the food fully cooked before they descend on the kitchen like a pack of ravenous wolves.”

“I’ll keep them busy.”

“Well, Kara will want to share her day in great detail and if anything interrupts her she’ll start all the way back at the beginning, and the boys will bitch about homework for an hour before they settle down and actually get to work on it.” She smiled. “It’s crazy, but I love the chaos.”

“You can be really proud of them, Liz. The kids are great.”

“Thanks. I think so too, but I’m biased.” She took a sip of her coffee. “So, have you had a chance to look around for a job or an apartment?”

“Yeah, actually I went to see one just a few hours ago.”

For the next half hour they talked about things that were going on in their lives and made plans for dinner the next evening.

*****

Andy stood up and grabbed his backpack when the teacher released them from detention, ready to run for the door so he could escape from this institutionalized version of hell.

Sam rushed to catch Andy before he could reach the door. “Hey, where’re you goin’?”

“I’m getting outta here before that asshat remembers that I’m supposed to help him.”

“Ya know the counselors are here to help us, Andy. And Mr. Guerin’s a pretty cool guy; he’s not all pushy and in your face like some of the counselors.”

Andy rolled his eyes and hooked the strap for his backpack over his right shoulder as he continued walking towards the door. “Whatever. I’ve got news for him; I’m not helpin’ him with any-damn-thing.”

She shook her head and followed him out of the classroom. “I don’t think you have a choice.”

“Sure I do... watch me tell him what he can do with himself if he bothers me again.”

“Mr. Evans, you’re right on time,” Michael said as the teenagers stepped out into the hall and turned to the left.

Andy clenched his teeth together as he turned and looked at the man leaning against the lockers on the opposite side of the hall. “Dude, you’re like a stalker. There’re laws about that, ya know.”

Michael just watched him, seeing the anger and irritation in the boy’s expression. “Miss Whitman, I’m afraid you’re gonna have to catch a ride home with your dad.”

“Huh?”

“Well, Mr. Evans here is gonna be busy for the next couple of hours and unless I’m mistaken, your dad was sitting out front waitin’ for you to be released from detention.”

Sam had expected her dad to be waiting for her even though she had been hoping that he would have some meeting or something to get to.

Andy winced when he saw Sam’s expression. She hated that she had disappointed her dad and he felt bad about that. She had skipped school because of him.

“Mr. Evans, why don’t you and I head on over to the gym?”

“Go,” Sam said. “I’m gonna go face my Dad. Not so much fun either.”

Andy decided that he probably wouldn’t want to face his mom just yet so he nodded and followed the counselor that he just couldn’t seem to get rid of.

Michael heard Andy following him; the sound of his angry footfalls echoed along the hallways. “Did you clear your head at all when you skipped class?” he asked as they turned down another hall.

“I don’t have to clear anything,” the boy muttered.

“Wanna talk about what made you decide to cut class?”

“No.”

“How ‘bout we talk about whatever you and Sam talked about while you were gone?”

“Just random stuff.”

Michael hid a smile as he reached for the gymnasium door and pulled it open. “You’re a man of few words, Andy, and I can appreciate that, but it’s not gonna help if you won’t talk to me.”

“What d’you want to hear man?” Andy snapped.

“I wanna know where your head’s at, but it does no good for me to force the answers out of you.” He turned around as he pulled a whistle out of his pocket and hung it around his neck. “C’mon, let’s get started.” He blew the whistle and the players stopped what they were doing to turn around and look at him.

Andy followed the man quietly and stood next to him, feeling stupid when the others turned to look at them.

“Alright guys, some of you may already know my assistant, but for any of you who don’t, this’s Andy Evans. Now, we’re gonna break from our normal drill... break up into two teams and spend today’s practice playin’ an actual game.” He handed Andy a clipboard with the players’ information listed and then spent the next few minutes dividing his players into two teams.

Andy shook his head as he watched Michael. “Big mistake,” he muttered under his breath.

Michael glanced at Andy. “What’s that?”

“I’d divide them differently,” Andy said without looking up from the clipboard.

His right eyebrow quirked. This was exactly what he had been hoping for. He blew the whistle again, telling the players to stay where they were. “Alright, talk to me... give me a different setup.”

Andy handed him a sheet of paper with a bunch of notes he had just scribbled down.

“That’s an interesting choice for Timmons.” He ran his finger down the sheet, nodding at the changes. “You think Jefferson’s gonna handle defense better?”

Andy nodded. He had seen the team at a few games now and the guy was much better than he thought – he was just playing the wrong position.

“Alright, let’s change it up and see what happens.” Michael walked out onto the court and shifted the players around before motioning for Andy to toss him a basketball.

Andy smirked when Michael turned away from him again. Wow, that was the first time someone had actually listened to his opinion about something.

Michael bounced the ball against the floor a few times while he waited for his players to take their positions. He stepped up next to the players standing at center court and blew the whistle as he tossed the ball up in the air and hurried to get back out of their way.

Andy watched the other guys and nodded, satisfied with how it had turned out.

Michael called a timeout after the boys had been playing for a while and he disappeared into the coach’s office to grab a new whistle. He tossed it to Andy when he came back out onto the court. “Here, they’re runnin’ me ragged tryin’ to watch all of ‘em at the same time.” It was obvious the kid was familiar with the plays, understood the rules, and most importantly, he had a love for the sport.

The boy nodded and stood up from the floor where he had been sitting. He walked to the opposite side, across from Michael to get a different view of the team, seeing what his counselor couldn’t see.

Time flew by as the game progressed and Michael observed the way that Andy studied the plays, the players, and the offense and defense. The kid was a natural and Michael wondered why his father had never encouraged him to play. When practice ended he released the team and waited for them to clear the floor as they headed for the locker room.

“Am I allowed to go home now?” Andy asked when it was just Michael and him left on the court.

“Well, practice is officially over, so you’re free to go. I wanted to talk to you if you’ve got a few minutes though.”

Andy thought about it. Going home meant he would probably get in a fight with Mom so maybe staying here a little longer wasn’t such a bad idea. “Can we go outside at least?”

“Yeah, lead the way.”

The boy started to walk out of the school building towards the wooden benches where Sam, the twins and he usually hung out at lunch or on their breaks. He sat down on the table, feet braced on the bench below.

“How d’you like livin’ with your grandparents, Andy?”

He made a face. “How do ya think a 15-year-old guy likes livin’ with his grandparents?”

He smiled. Couldn’t really argue with that one. “Probably don’t have a lot of room... much privacy?”

“No, my room is like a little storage unit, ya know? My stuff’s still in boxes. But, despite all that, I think its okay.”

“Have ya given much thought to you and your mom movin’ into your own place here?”

Andy frowned. To be honest he hadn’t really thought about that until now because he thought his mother wasn’t ready for it. “I don’t know...”

“Your mom’s gonna need to do that before long and she’ll need your support.” He paused a moment, knowing that one wrong word and the kid would go on the defensive.

“I have no choice but to follow her anyway,” Andy said. It was either that or running away, and the last wasn’t really an option that would make any sense at all. He knew he would end up in an even worse place if he did that.

“Maybe not, but you do have a choice about how you handle it.”

“Did she say somethin’ to you?”

“She mentioned that she wants to start lookin’ for a place and also expressed some concerns that you might not be ready for another change in your life right now.” He let that sit for a moment. “Does it bother you that she’s worried about you like that?”

Andy snorted angrily. “The only thing that bothers me is that she talked to YOU first, instead of me.”

“Your mom worries about you, Andy. She’s not goin’ behind your back; she just needs to be able to start getting her life back together and she needs your support to do that. Does that make sense to you?”

“I want my life back as well, but who cares? We’re not able to go back to our life like it used to be.”

“No, you’re right about that, there’s no way to go back to the way your life was before. The thing is, at some point you’ve gotta start movin’ forward; you’re gonna have to accept that nothin’ you do will ever change the past. I know you felt like your mom abandoned you after your dad’s accident and that had to hurt like hell. She can’t change the past either, Andy; she’s gotta find a way to put the pieces back together and go on livin’ too.”

It sounded so easy when he said it, Andy thought, but he knew it wasn’t. “I don’t wanna talk about this anymore,” he decided.

Michael nodded and let the subject drop. He knew pushing it wouldn’t get him anywhere. “So, I noticed you’ve got a birthday comin’ up here pretty soon.”

“Yay,” Andy muttered ironically.

“Don’t sound too excited about it,” Michael mused.

“There’s nothin’ to be excited about.”

“You don’t wanna celebrate your birthday?”

Andy shook his head. “No, why would I want that? Dad won’t be there. My friends from Miami won’t be there... so why celebrate it?”

“You’ve got family here. Don’t you think it’d be important for them to celebrate with you?”

“Why would it be important to them?”

“Because they love you, Andy.”

“It’s just a birthday,” Andy muttered. “There’s nothin’ special about it... and we don’t really have the room to have a party anyway, so...”

“Well, I’ve been thinkin’ about that and according to your records you an’ Kyle share the same birthday, right?”

“Apparently.”

“A friend and I are plannin’ to put somethin’ together for Kyle over at my place, so I thought since you guys have the same family maybe you might wanna come with him an’ hang out… kinda make it a party for both of you guys... whatcha think? Nothin’ fancy, just a barbeque with your family and friends. You interested? I could talk to your mom about it.”

“Oh, yeah, ‘cause it’s every teenager’s dream to have a birthday party at their counselor’s house,” Andy muttered. “I don’t wanna celebrate,” the boy said and got up. “I’m goin’ home now.”

“Alright, well, it was just an idea. It’s getting late, you need a ride home?”

“No. I’m gonna walk.”

Michael nodded when the boy started walking away. “Andy?”

He stopped and turned around to look at his counselor again.

“Ya did a great job with the team today.”

Andy nodded, trying to suppress the slight smile. “Thanks.”

Michael sat there for a while, not realizing how late it was getting until the lights around the campus flickered and came to life. He needed to get home and figure out what to do next.

____________________

Watch out for the results of the last voting round after 7am CST ;)
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
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In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult)Part 23 - 4/3/10

Post by Double Trouble » Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:39 pm

kismet: Thanks, lol.

If Liz and Tess gang up on Max… look out!

begonia9508: Michael connects well with kids and he has a special gift for reaching the troubled kids.

mary mary: We’re glad ya enjoyed that last chapter… and we don’t think you sound like a broken record!

Alien_Friend: Andy just needs some nudges in the right direction… and Michael’s very good at nudging. So is Sam, lol.

Tess and Liz could become very good friends. Tess really wants to be there for her family, to be a part of her family… and Liz needs that support and friendship.

Earth2Mama: Yeah, right now Andy isn’t interested in his birthday, but chances are we’ll see some encouragement from a few people.

We’re enjoying writing it!

dreambeliever: Thanks! Yep, Andy will eventually start to open up with him.

Maiqu: They make great friends, don’t they? Michael is great at his job as a counsellor, but the best thing is that for him, it’s more than just a job.

Something tells us you’re right… hmm… again, lol!

sarammlover: Progress is being made, slowly but surely. Michael is familiar with Andy’s pain and while it’s not exactly the same, he knows what it’s gonna take to get through to him. Maria will start rebuilding her life.



Part 23

Sam followed her dad into the house, her nerves standing on end in response to his unusual silence. It wasn’t like he had never been silent, but this was completely different than anything she could remember. She bit her bottom lip when they entered the kitchen and he motioned to one of the barstools at one end of the island in the center of the room. She dropped her backpack on the floor and pulled the stool out, sitting down and hooking her feet on the bottom rung.

Alex moved back and forth between the refrigerator and the island, taking things out so he could start preparing dinner. He was trying to get his thoughts in order before he spoke, not wanting to just start yelling and making accusations that would put Sam on the defensive. He peeled several potatoes and cubed them before rinsing and dumping them in a pot to cook. He turned the burner on and got the chicken breasts prepared and in the oven before washing his hands and turning to face his daughter.

He bit back a smile when he saw that she had reached for a knife and started chopping up the vegetables left on the counter. He pulled a bag of frozen broccoli out of the freezer and emptied it into a pot, adding water and covering it before putting it on the stove to cook as well. He reached for a green pepper and started cutting it into thin strips, keeping an eye on Sam as she sliced a tomato.

“Why’d you cut class today?” he asked finally. The normalcy of the evening had finally started to calm his nerves and he felt ready to deal with the situation.

“You remember that guy I told you about, the one who asked me to the movies?”

Alex paused a moment before nodding. “The Peterson kid, right?”

“Yeah.” She made a face. “He came up to us before our last class and he started sayin’ a bunch of stuff about Andy’s dad… mean stuff, Dad, and it really hurt him.”

“Sam, I know you feel for this kid, but, honey, you can’t jeopardize your future, academic or otherwise to run off and try to make things better for him.”

“Would you let a friend who was hurt go off alone and just ignore their pain?”

“Samantha Marie Whitman, that is not the point! You’re 15 years old and I will not have you cutting classes or getting involved with troublemakers, do you understand me?”

“You’re bein’ unfair, Dad! Andy’s not a troublemaker, he’s just – “

“Misunderstood? Sam, I know he’s got a lot goin’ on right now, but that’s not a good enough reason for you to ruin everything you’ve worked for.”

“I’m not ruining anything, Dad, and I didn’t skip class because Andy asked me to or even suggested it. I went after him, he had nothin’ to do with it; it was my decision.”

“Look, Sam, I know you like this kid, honey, and I know he’s havin’ a rough time right now, but he needs help that you can’t give him.”

“He’s seein’ Counselor Guerin, Dad; he’s getting help. I know right now it seems like he’s just a big troublemaker, but he’s not, I promise.”

“I know you believe that, and maybe it is true, but until he straightens his act up I don’t want you hangin’ out with him.”

“Dad,” she whined. “Why is it that Principal Russell’s okay with me and Andy spendin’ time together, but you’ve gotta be a wet blanket about it?”

“She may control what goes on when you’re at school, but that does not mean she makes the decisions about what you do the rest of the time.”

“So, I can’t see him outside of school?”

He stopped to think as he remembered what the principal had said to him when they had been left alone. “We’ve always had a very good relationship; you’ve always been able to talk to me and we’ve been very open about things and I don’t want that to change.”

“Then trust me, Dad. I promise he didn’t do anything to get me to skip class and if you’re gonna ground me for that or take away somethin’ like the TV or my phone for a week or whatever, fine, but don’t punish him too. He listens to me and he tries to talk to me about some of the stuff that he’s holdin’ inside.”

Alex could feel himself weakening in the face of her sincere request, but he reminded himself that he was the parent and he needed to be strong. He was doing this for her own good even if she didn’t know or understand it. “This isn’t about punishing either of you, honey. I’m not sayin’ you can’t see Andy, but until that boy gets his head on straight you don’t see him outside of school unless there’s adult supervision and I’m aware of it.”

“But, Dad!”

“No buts, Sam, and I’m not kiddin’ about this.” He lifted his head and met her confused gaze. “I don’t doubt that somewhere inside of Andy there’s a good boy, but right now there’s a lot of conflicted things goin’ on with him and he’s outta sorts.”

“Okay, but as long as there’s adult supervision and you know about it we can still spend time together, right?”

Alex groaned silently and nodded. “Don’t make me regret this, Sam.”

She jumped down off of the barstool and ran around the island to hug him. “Thanks, Daddy, you won’t regret it.”

“Go find Oscar and feed him; then get washed up for dinner,” he said as he released her. He watched her as she gathered up her backpack and scampered out of the room. God, he hoped he was making the right decision. He turned to check the chicken and adjusted the temperature before sliding it back into the oven and leaning on the counter next to the stove.

*****

Max dried his hands on the dishtowel hanging across his right shoulder and turned his head to check on the kids before he started slicing the vegetables on the counter. He glanced at the folded poster board sitting on the chair next to Kara; she hadn’t let it out of her sight all afternoon and she still hadn’t offered to show it to him. She had even dragged it up into the bleachers and held onto it while they had watched the boys’ football practice. He hadn’t missed it when the boys had noticed them and looked at each other as if to confirm what they were seeing. He had to start doing better where his family was concerned and he had to get the business in better order or he was going to put them all in a bind.

“This’s just stupid,” Nick grumbled, throwing his pencil down on the table.

Justin looked up from his own homework. “What?”

“This! It doesn’t make any sense!”

“What’re ya stuck on, Nick?” Max asked, noting the tone of frustration in his son’s voice.

“Multiplying binomials. There’re too many steps! It keeps comin’ out wrong!”

“Okay, bud, take it easy. Here, bring your textbook over here and lemme take a look at it.” Nick and Justin had both had their share of learning challenges early on and stress tended to bring those difficulties back up.

Nick dropped his textbook on the island and turned it around to show Dad the problem he was working on. He sat on one of the barstools and propped his left elbow next to the textbook so he could rest the side of his head against his fisted hand. “See?” he pointed to his notebook where he had been trying to solve the problem. “We have the answers to the problems, but I still can’t get it right.”

“So, Mr. Miller wants you to show your work and get to the answer he’s provided. Okay, show me how you’re doin’ the problem.”

“I don’t know how to do it, Dad! When Mr. Miller was doin’ the examples it looked easy, but no matter how I do the problem it comes out wrong. How stupid am I if I can’t even understand somethin’ so – ”

Max rapped his knuckles on the counter in front of his son. “Hey, don’t ever call yourself stupid, you understand me?”

“But everyone else got it, Dad,” he complained, “and I don’t know what I’m doin’.”

“This stuff doesn’t just automatically click for everyone, Nick.”

“The way Mr. Miller showed us how to do it is hard, Dad,” Justin said, frowning at the problem he was working on. He wasn’t getting the right answer either!

“Alright,” Max said, motioning to the dry erase board on the wall with a nod, “you guys pick out a problem – same one – and both of you work it out while I get this cookin’. Keep your eyes on your own side of the board. Lemme see where you’re havin’ the problem.”

“Me too, Daddy?” Kara asked.

“No ma’am, you keep workin’ on that picture for Mommy.”

They were hard at work when Liz arrived home a while later and her mouth watered when she smelled dinner cooking. She leaned in the doorway and watched her family for a few minutes, soaking up the feeling of normalcy. This was the way things were supposed to be, she thought, resting the side of her head against the doorframe.

Max was standing in front of the large dry erase board that he had hung on the wall between two of the windows behind the table. It was a complete eyesore and they had argued about it when he had first suggested putting it up in the kitchen, but he had won that one and she had to admit that it had worked out well. It was still an eyesore, but she had found a way to live with it. How many nights had they spent in the kitchen, the two of them making dinner and helping the kids with their homework?

Kara had abandoned her coloring book in favor of watching Daddy as he helped the boys with their homework. Lucky was sitting in the chair next to the little girl and Liz wondered how the large dog managed to avoid falling off of the chair.

“Alright, remember the next step?” Max asked patiently when Nick paused, the marker in his hand hovering several inches from the board. “Always follow the steps in order and you’ll be fine.”

Liz smiled when Justin slowed down to let Nick get ahead of him and finish the problem first. Nick had a tendency to get easily frustrated when things didn’t make sense to him and she knew Mr. Miller wasn’t the best math teacher the boys had ever had. He knew math and he knew how to talk about it, but when it came to explaining it he just didn’t have that special knack to make it interesting and easy to understand.

Nick glanced over the last example Dad had walked them through and then back at the problem he was working out and it suddenly clicked. The marker flew across the board as he quickly calculated the numbers in his head and wrote out the equation, simplifying it when he reached the end. He underlined his answer with several bold marks and then stood back to look at Dad, his expression hopeful. “Is that it?”

“You tell me.”

Liz smiled at the expected response. She and Max always waited to see if the kids were certain of their work before going forward and either agreeing with the method or disagreeing and showing them the correct way to work the problem out.

Nick’s gaze flicked over the equation, going over every step he had taken and the final answer before pausing to erase one of the numbers and rewrite it. “Multiplied that one wrong. Yep, that’s it.”

“Good answer.”

“Really? I got it right?”

“What about me, Dad?” Justin asked.

“Me too, Daddy!” Kara chimed in, holding her coloring book up.

“Just a sec, baby girl.” Max glanced over both problems and nodded. “Keep doin’ ‘em like that and you’re gonna be fine. He turned to grab the textbook off of the table and smiled when he saw his wife watching them. He gave a slight nod when she motioned for him to go on and finish what he was doing.

“Daddy,” Kara said insistently.

Max leaned over the table to look at the picture his little girl had colored. “That’s the prettiest pink and purple cow I’ve ever seen.” He dropped a kiss on her head and ruffled her hair before turning back to the boys. “Okay, take a look for yourselves… check the answer against yours.”

Kara beamed proudly under his praise and she reached for the orange crayon to color the hooves of the cow.

“No way!” Nick enthused. “Look at that, Dad, I got it right!”

“Hey, me too!” Justin grinned and gave his brother a high-five after checking the textbook and verifying that his answer was right.

“Alright, you two knuckleheads get back to work; you’ve still got a couple dozen problems to do before your homework’s finished and there’s still time before dinner.”

“I tan put it on there for Mommy?” Kara asked, pointing at the refrigerator.

Max turned and pointed across the room. “Why don’t you show it to Mommy first and then she can help you put it up?” He smiled when Kara scrambled around to drop down to the floor and she ran across the room with Lucky right behind her.

Liz caught Kara and lifted her up in her arms, kissing her cheek and shifting to settle the little girl against her side. “Looks like you’ve been busy today.”

“Um-hmm… me an’ Daddy, we went to the store an’ I told him what was for us to eat tonight, an’ then we went to see Nicky an’ Justin at the football thing.”

“You made it to the boys’ practice?” Liz asked, looking at her husband.

“Most of it, yeah.” He gave her a small smile. “We missed the first few minutes because somebody kept changing her mind about what we were havin’ for dinner.” He reached out to tickle Kara, making her laugh.

“Looks like you’ve got everything under control here.” She turned to look at the boys. “How’s the homework comin’, guys?”

“Dad should’ve been a math teacher,” Nick said as he glanced up from his textbook and smiled at her.

“Yeah, he’s so much better than Mr. Miller,” Justin agreed.

“That’s because your dad was a math nerd in high school.”

Max rolled his eyes at his wife’s teasing tone. He couldn’t exactly deny it; math had been like a game for him. “Hey, I would’ve been a cool teacher.”

“You would’ve been a cool teacher,” Liz agreed, setting Kara down and dropping a kiss on the boys’ heads as she passed them.

“Are you guys gonna make out now?” Justin asked, rolling his eyes.

Nick grinned and followed his brother’s lead, gathering up his homework and setting it aside as he stood up. “Y’know they are.” He scooped Kara up and let her hang over his right shoulder, hooking his arm across the backs of her knees to keep her from falling. “Let’s go get cleaned up for dinner, Justin.”

“My pitcher!” Kara shouted as she clapped her hands to get their attention.

Justin picked up the poster board and followed them out of the room, but stuck his head back inside a few seconds later. Ungh, Mom and Dad were already kissing! He was secretly relieved because to be honest he’d rather have them doing that than fighting. “So, we’re gonna be back in a few minutes… for dinner…” he shook his head when they didn’t respond. “We’d like for it to be cooked right, not burnt or – “

Max lifted his head and looked at his youngest son, grinning at the teenager. “We’ve got the picture now get outta here.” He shook his head when he and Liz were left alone again. “You do know they just got out of homework before dinner.”

“I think we can let it slide this time,” she smiled. “I’m glad you and Kara made it to the boys’ practice.”

He held her closer and kissed her again. “I kinda need to talk to you about somethin’, Liz.”

She heard the hesitant tone in his voice and she sighed. “You’re not gonna be back in time for the retirement dinner,” she guessed.

“No, no, I’m gonna be back in time for that. It’s just that, I was supposed to fly out in the mornin’, but one of the meetings had to be rescheduled and the only way to fit it in means I need to be there earlier.”

“You have to leave tonight.”

“Yeah, but I got the latest flight possible; I won’t have to leave until after the kids are in bed, Liz.”

She bit her bottom lip, stopping the words before they could escape. She was tired of fighting and she just wanted to enjoy a normal evening at home with her family. “What’d you make for dinner?”

“Steak fajitas, but they’re not quite ready; the boys were having trouble with their homework and Nicky was startin’ to lose it.”

“Were you able to settle him down before he got too upset?” she asked, knowing how frustrated both boys could get when something didn’t make sense to them.

“Yeah. I’m wonderin’ if we should’ve left them in that remedial math class for another year, Liz; they’re havin’ a tough time with this stuff and Miller assigns a lot of homework.”

“Max, we were told that they were ready for this and we asked them if they wanted to try it.” She reached up to frame his face in her hands. “They’re gonna be fine. It’s just gonna take time for them to get accustomed to the workload.”

“I just hate to see them struggling like this.”

“We’ve always encouraged them to succeed at whatever they wanted to do… they wanted to be in more classes with their classmates.”

He nodded. “I know.”

“C’mon, let me help you get dinner finished and we’ll talk to the kids afterwards and let them know about your trip plans.”

“Hey,” he locked his arms around her waist when she started to move. “I’ll be back for the dinner on Wednesday night.”

She wanted to believe him and she decided that until he proved otherwise she was going to believe that he would keep his promise.

“Mom, Dad, is dinner ready yet?” Nick hollered from upstairs.

Liz laughed. “I guess we’d better hurry up before he starts chewing on the banister.”

*****

After dinner while Liz was clearing the dishes away from the table Max cleared his throat and looked at the kids. It was only right for him to be the one to talk to them about his trip so he nodded to himself and leaned forward over his clasped hands.

“You guys know that I’ve been goin’ outta town for business,” he started.

Justin slouched down in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. “Guess you won’t be at the game on Thursday night then.”

“Daddy go ‘way?” Kara asked, looking back and forth between Mommy and Daddy.

“Only for a little while, baby girl.” He reached over and picked her up, sitting her in his lap and looking down at her. “Daddy’s gonna leave tonight and be back on Wednesday.”

“So, you’ll be back for the game,” Nick clarified.

“I’ll be back on Wednesday; we’ve got Mom’s teacher thing that night and you guys have a game on Thursday night.” He glanced over his shoulder to meet his wife’s gaze. “I won’t miss either event.”

“We need to finish our homework, Dad,” Nick said.

Justin nodded. “Yeah, can we be excused?”

The boys looked at Mom when Dad didn’t respond to their questions and they quickly got up and left the room when she nodded, giving permission.

“Don’t go, Daddy,” Kara begged. “Stay wif me.”

“Daddy’s gotta go and do this, Kara,” Max tried to explain. Damn it, he thought when he saw the big tears filling up her eyes. “It’s just for a little more than a day…” He trailed off when she shook her head and wrapped her little arms around him. He glanced at Liz and motioned to their little girl. “I’m gonna take her upstairs and try to get her settled down.”

“I’ll be up as soon as I finish up down here.”

When the kitchen was cleaned up once more Liz let the dog out and was leaving the kitchen when she noticed the poster board Kara had forgotten when Max’ announcement had upset her. She crossed the room and picked it up, unfolding it and her vision quickly blurred when she saw what Kara had drawn. The stick figures could easily be identified by the names written below them, the letters different sizes and a few backwards, but it was the lone figure standing away from the others that brought tears to her eyes.

Max was even farther away from his family than he realized. She sighed tiredly and folded the poster board over before turning the lights out and heading for the second floor.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 24

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Apr 11, 2010 6:49 am

keepsmiling7: So true. Her pic shows how much the kids are already aware of the problems M&L try to hide.

mary mary: Lol, let the frustration out! We deal with it.

M&L need to talk, the problem is that Max still has a hard time to say out loud what´s going on in his mind. Maybe their kids can help them to get through this. They both know that it´s not working to keep their problems from the twins and Kara.

dreambeliever: We can´t tell you if your feeling is right or wrong right now. But we all know that M&L still have to deal with the problems they have. Max needs to talk about what had happened.

Every Dad what´s to keep his little daughter save. Sam is in an age where boys get a little bit more interesting than in a friendly way and she can feel that there is more behind Andy´s rough behavior. Alex will have her hands full with her, but ya know it… he will to fine.

Natalie36: Maybe Max would realize how much Kara is really hurting about the problems of the family.

Thanks for reading!

Alien_Friend: Favourite part? Cool.

Max has a strong connection to his kids and if he could see Kara´s pic right now, he would realize how much the little girl is aware of what´s going on around her. He´s trying to make things right and no matter what problems he and Liz have right now, we all know that he loves his wife and kids without a doubt.

Sam and Alex have a strong daughter/father relationship, because it was just the two of them right from the beginning. He is worried about her, especially now that she is in an age where boys get a little more interesting, lol.

Sam knows, that Andy´s is not the bad boy he seems to be and she tries to get through to him. Let´s see how well she will do.

Thanks, we´re glad you love this, since you came up with this amazing idea.

begonia9508: Max definitely doesn´t enjoy the time, when he is apart from his family. He tries very hard to be there for his family while keeping his business alive. He´s in a though place right now and he is still searching for a way to get out of it.

Earth2Mama: So true, this pic would hurt him. It shows how much the little girl is aware of the things, which go on around her. Maybe it would also help him to realize that he needs to talk about what´s going on in his mind.

Liz tries to be there for her husband, even through he doesn´t make it easy for her most of the time.

Alex is worried. He knows that Sam likes Andy. He also knows that his daughter is now in an age where boys get more interesting for her. He will have her hands full with her, but we´re sure he will do fine.

Maiqu: Lol, not liking math, huh? Welcome to Nick-world!

Max is really trying to make things right, but it seems like fate is against him these days.

Lol, ya think Sam will meet Andy behind his back? Hm, we will see.

sarammlover: Max really tries to make everything right with his family. It just seems that right now, he can´t. His work and his memories refuse to leave him alone.

Eva: Max is in a tough position right now. While he tries to make everything right, he ends up with hurting someone in the end. We will see if he can hold his promise this time.

Ti88: Wow, first of: This is probably the longest review we ever gotten, lol. Thanks.

We´re glad you decided to give our fic a whirl. The credit for the main idea goes to Novy, aka Alien_friend though, she won us in the Support Stacie Author Auction last September and ITCOAL is the fic, we´re writing for her.

Lol, the question about what if it had been the twins and not Andy is very interesting. Alex probably didn´t think about that one. He´s just worried that his little girl is slowly getting an adult. It was only the two of them in the last years and he wants to protect his daughter from everything bad, that could happen to her.

No doubt, that he can´t protect her from everything and one of these days he will realize this. He doesn´t know Andy the way Sam does. She knows that there is a lot more behind the young boy’s rough behavior.

Interesting what you said about Andy and his feeling towards Max. There could be a little truth behind all that. We will see if Andy had known about his parent’s problems and what his real issue is with Max during the fic.

Kyle and Tess throw a little comic relief in the fic, we love to write them here.

Liz tries to understand what’s going on with Max. But he won’t really talk to her about the day of the accident or what’s going on in his mind. She’s a strong woman though and she’s not giving up on him or their family.

Max is trying hard to make everything right, but it seems like right now, he just can’t. He has to deal with much more than one person could handle alone. Let’s see how he’s going to get his life back in order again.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply and we would NEVER complain about a review, especially not when it’s long.



Part 24

Maria knocked on the door and held her breath as she waited for an answer or an invitation from her son. He had been upset when he had come home from the long school day and he had avoided talking to her. He had gone from the front door straight to his room without so much as a word to anyone and she wondered if it was just because of the long day he’d had in school of if the reason for him skipping class was still upsetting him.

“Come in,” he grumbled from inside.

Maria nodded to herself and opened the door slowly to step into the small room. “Hey, Andy,” she greeted him quietly, to show him that she wasn’t there to yell at him.

He lay on his bed, back facing her. “Just say it, Mom,” he started once his mother had taken a seat on the edge of his bed.

“Look, Andy, we don’t have to talk about you skipping class because I know the principal and Mr. Guerin already told you that it was the wrong thing to do and that neither they nor I appreciate this behavior. You know all too well that things like this can get you in trouble at school and it would mean spending even more time there – not to mention they could kick you out for this. But… that’s not what I wanted to talk about right now. Well, unless you want to tell me why you skipped class.”

Andy stared at the wall in front of him and considered his next move. Why was she here if she wasn’t planning to give him a lecture about his behavior today? The boy turned around slowly and looked at his mom. “Some asshole in school started to mess around with us during a break.” He avoided her gaze and lowered his own gaze to the bed as he shrugged. “He said things… about Sam… about me and… Dad.” Andy swallowed hard at the mention of his dead father.

Maria tried to hide her surprise at Andy’s sudden confession and she nodded. “It’s still hard for me to accept that he’s not here anymore, too. Wanna tell me what that other boy said to you?”

Andy shook his head. “I can’t really remember all of it.”

It was probably just the fact about that a stranger had dared to talk about his father, Maria realized.

They stayed quiet for several long moments, as they remembered Andrew and the man he had been.

“So, what’d you wanna talk about?” Andy interrupted the silence first, when he felt the need to push the thoughts of his father away before they got too intense again.

Maria felt the nervousness coming back to her as she tried to find the right words. How was she gonna tell him her plans without upsetting him? “I need to talk to you about something that’s been on my mind for a few days now.” She lifted her gaze to meet his. “I’ve been thinking maybe we could start to look for a place of our own…”

Andy braced his upper body on his lower arms on the bed. “You wanna move out?” He was surprised that Mom was telling him this so soon. He had already known that she wanted it after Mr. Guerin had mentioned it earlier, but he hadn’t expected that Mom was going to bring it up so soon.

“It’s not a decision I wanna make on my own, Andy; I want you to be involved. It’s just… This house is too small for all of us and your stuff…” she gestured to all the boxes and crates stacked against the wall across from them, “… you have no room for this in here.” She dared to look at him, waiting for any reaction, good or bad. When he stayed quiet, she continued. “Besides that, I really need to start something new with my life and this would be the first step… with you. I want us to be a family again.” She sighed. “I mean… we never stopped being a family, but ya know… Finally acting like one again would be nice. You and me.”

Andy didn’t know how to feel about his mother’s confession. On the one hand, he wanted to throw himself into his mother’s arms because he had missed her as a mother like hell over the last few months and he wanted things to be more normal again. But on the other hand he wanted to yell at her and ask her why she had let it come to that point in the first place.

Maria could see that her son was torn between a lot of feelings right now and she didn’t know how to make it better. She didn’t want to push him for an answer and she didn’t want to set him off with a wrong word or move either. “Tell ya what. Just think about it, okay? We don’t have to make a decision today.” She couldn’t stop herself from reaching out and touching his cheek for a few seconds.

“Mom,” he complained and made a face, but didn’t push her hand away.

She smiled slightly and lowered her hand again. “Take as much time as ya want and tell me whatever you’re feeling about this idea, okay?”

He nodded quietly.

“Maria, Andy. Dinner’s ready,” Amy called from downstairs.

The boy straightened up more, feeling better about the situation. “Let’s go downstairs. I’m starvin’.”

Maria nodded and got to her feet again. “Yeah, good idea.” He hadn’t said anything in response to her idea, but he hadn’t told her that it was a bad idea either.

Andy glanced at his mother. He was wondering if they were both ready to start a life on their own already. Although he had to admit that the thought of a place with more room for his stuff and a little more open space for him wasn’t a bad idea.

Maybe this could be a start of something new…

*****

Andy and Maria arrived down in the dining room after everyone else was already sitting around the table.

“What took you so long? I’m starving!” Kyle complained.

Maria rolled her eyes at him. “You’re always hungry, goofy.”

“You all behave now,” Amy warned and started to fill a plate for everyone – starting with Jim.

“I’ll take a little more meat,” Kyle told her when she reached for his plate.

“You’ll eat this and then you’ll get more,” she told him.

“I’m a big boy, Mom, and I need to keep my energy up.”

“You need to watch yourself. One day, all the food you eat’s gonna show on your hips.”

Kyle frowned at Maria when she laughed. “You think that was funny?”

“Uh-huh.”

Jim glanced at his wife. “You mean because he’s related to me?”

“I would never insinuate that you’ve put on weight, Jim.” She smiled at him and smacked his hand when he reached for the gravy. “You know your doctor said no more of that for you.”

Andy didn’t wait any longer and started to fix a plate of his own... with just the right selection and amount of everything he wanted it to eat.

“No fair,” Kyle muttered.

“Did you hear that the Henderson family is moving to Denver? I ran into Debbie Henderson at the store this afternoon and she said her husband received a job transfer. They’re packing the kids up and moving right away; they’re not even gonna wait until after the holidays.”

“Really?” Jim said while he chewed his first bite. “That’s a pity. The family’s very nice and they loved livin’ here.”

“What’re they doin’ with their house?” Kyle asked as he eyed the basket of croissants and debated whether he could sneak another one without being noticed.

“Why? Thinkin’ about comin’ back home?” Amy asked.

“To work closer to home I’d have to transfer to Santa Fe or Albuquerque, Mom.”

She nodded. It never hurt to try. “I think Debbie said they’re gonna put it up for rent.”

Andy’s ears perked up at that and he waited to see if Mom would say anything about it. Even though he could see the interest in her eyes she remained silent. “Are their kids my age? I don’t remember meetin’ any Henderson’s in school.”

“No, they’re only five and eight,” Amy said.

“So, they probably don’t have a real big house, huh?”

“No, it’s just a small two-bedroom with a garden behind it.”

“So, maybe we should get our own place, Mom,” Andy said as he poured gravy over his mashed potatoes.

Maria almost choked on her last bite and glanced up at her son in surprise. “You serious?”

“Yeah,” he shrugged, “why not?”

“Andy, maybe it’s a little bit too early to...” Amy started.

Maria gave a slight shake of her head, silencing her mom’s protest. “Is that what you want, Andy?”

He glanced at his grandma carefully. “A little bit more space would be cool.” Andy had remembered what Michael had said to him earlier. That his Mom needed his support right now and that there had to be some changes... He knew Mom needed to move out to start something new.

“Andy’s a smart kid, honey,” Jim said as he frowned at the broccoli on his plate. He wondered if he could get away with sneaking it to the dog.

“Well, if that’s what you both want,” Amy said, unsure how to feel about it.

“Maybe we could go around and look at some houses this weekend.”

“I can call some people who might be able to tell us about some houses for rent or for sale,” Jim said.

“We need a big yard for Theo,” Andy said.

“And a bathroom with a tub,” Maria added.

“Close to school, too,” Andy mumbled around a mouthful of food.

“So this is serious, huh?” Amy asked.

“I think it’s definitely something we should look into,” Maria said.

Kyle noticed that Amy was looking kind of sad, so he decided it was time to change the subject. “Hey, Mom, what would you say if I invited Tess Evans over for dinner this Sunday?”

She glanced up at Kyle’s question, smiling when she recognized his attempt to distract her. “Sure, that’ll be nice. Did you have something special in mind for dinner?”

“Nah, everything ya cook is great, Amy.”

“Yeah, because it’s not like he’s gonna be paying any attention to the food anyway,” Maria teased.

“So, you’re really interested in the Evans girl, huh?” Jim asked his son.

“Well, ya know, I’ve never stopped bein’ interested in her, Dad.” He grinned and shook his head. “She sure doesn’t make it easy on a guy though.”

“She’s just making sure you’re interested in a serious relationship, Kyle,” Maria told him.

“A serious relationship? I can’t even get the girl to go out for coffee with me!”

“She’s coming for dinner, isn’t she?”

“I’m just sayin’,” he muttered. “She wants to know I’m interested in a serious relationship but she wants to make my life difficult in the meantime.” Damn, women were too confusing!

“I guess dinner is a good first step,” Amy helped out.

“If it’ll get that stubborn woman to agree to go out with me – and just me – then it’s an important first step.”

*****

Maria took the last plate from the sink and started to dry it off.

“So, you’re serious, huh? About moving out with Andy? So soon?” Amy glanced at her daughter out of the corner of her eyes.

“You think it’s a bad idea,” Maria said. It was more a statement than a question.

Her mother shrugged. “I’m just a little worried. Andy hasn’t really listened to you the past few weeks, Maria. I admit he’s starting to react better than he did when you first got back, but still… are you sure you’ll be okay with him on your own again?”

Maria shrugged. “I’m not sure about a lot of things since Andrew died, Mom. But I realize that I have to get some control back. Of my life, of Andy, of everything. Maybe staying here longer would be better for Andy, maybe not…. Who knows? I miss spending time with my son, and I’m scared that I’m not gonna be a good mother for him anymore if we stay here any longer. He has to know that I’m still there for him and that we are still a family. I know I made a lot of mistakes back in Miami, I was too focused on my own pain then.”

“Maria, that’s normal when someone dies…”

Maria shook her head and placed the plate on the counter next to the other clean dishes. “I know, Mom. I’m trying to look forward now. And the first step will be to get a house for me and Andy. You know, we can’t stay here forever and maybe it’s better to move out again before Andy gets too used to this…”

Amy nodded. “Alright. I’m always here for you. Both of you. You know that, right?”

“Sure.” She gave her mother a little hug. “Thanks. Would you mind if I go upstairs now? I’ve avoided checking my email the last few days, but I think it’s time to have a look and see if my realtor in Miami has sent any news about the house.”

“No, go ahead. We’re finished here and I think there’s a movie on TV that Jim and I wanted to watch anyway.”

“Okay. I may join you later.” Maria went upstairs, pausing at the door to Andy’s room and wondered if she should talk to him about the living situation again now that he had brought up the topic of moving out during dinner. She heard someone in the bathroom further down the hall as the shower started. She knew it could only be Andy because Kyle was still walking Theo.

“Alright,” she told herself – it was time to face her email account.

The door to her room creaked slightly when she pulled it open. Maria smiled a little at the memory that automatically entered her mind when she heard the sound.

It had been nearly midnight when Andrew Evans had slipped into the DeLuca house with the help of the key Maria had given him earlier in the day. He glanced around the dark living room quietly to make sure Amy wasn’t anywhere in sight. He knew he was definitely in her bad books when it came to Maria. Amy thought her daughter was too young for him, even if the difference in their ages was only a few years and she was almost 18 now. Andrew couldn’t hate her for that, though. A lot of people thought that way, but he knew what he and Maria had was more than just a little flirtation.

He started to walk upstairs as quietly as possible, carefully avoiding the third step because he knew from experience that it would make a sound as soon as someone stepped on it.

When he reached the second floor he held his breath for a second and listened quietly for any sign that someone had heard him so far. “No,” he decided and crept down the hallway until he reached his destination. A small patch of light shone below the closed door of her bedroom. He smiled as he imagined her lying in her bed, wearing those sexy boxers she always wore at night. Sometimes it drove him crazy, but they had agreed to wait a while longer to have sex and he was okay with that. Because he loved her.

His right hand came up to rest on the doorknob and he turned it slowly, pushing the door open slightly. Maria glanced up when she heard the familiar ‘squeeeeek’ her bedroom door made. A smiled appeared on her face and flashed in her eyes.

“What took you so long, Andy?”


She wiped a tear away when it ran down her cheek. You wanted to concentrate on the future, she reminded herself and took in a few deep breathes before she sat down in front of her laptop. It felt like an eternity as she waited for the stupid thing to boot up. “Come on,” she mumbled nervously and stared at the black screen that finally showed the desktop.

Her hand reached out for the mouse to click on the small picture of a letter that would open up the email program. It took her three times before she was finally able to do the double click right. She leaned back and waited a few moments until the program had downloaded everything. 20 new emails. Her eyes locked on the uppermost line and then started to wander further down.

The first new email was some spam crap. She deleted it directly.

More crap.

Crap.

Crap.

No longer impotent… Crap.

Hello!

She smiled slightly. It was a message from Sue, a friend in Florida. With another double click she opened the email and read the few lines Sue had written.

Hey girl!

How’s it going in Roswell and how is Andy doing? I know you’ve been through a tough time here and you need your family, but I miss talking to you. So call me when you read this, okay? I wanna hear everything about Roswell and what’s been happening the last few weeks.

Sue


Maria took the pencil next to the mouse and wrote herself a note on a small piece of paper that would remind her to call her friend later.

Her eyes locked on the computer screen again and she deleted a few more spam mails before her heartbeat raised when she read the reference line of the last email.

Good news from Miami.

She accidently deleted it and had to go to the deleted folder to get it back. It took her another four attempts to actually open the message.

Good afternoon Mrs. Evans,

I’m happy to tell you that I’ve already found two interested parties for your house here in Miami. The first is a businessman from New York, who wants to have a residence in Florida for him and his wife as he works here nearly half the year.

The second is a family with three kids. The wife is pregnant again and they’re searching for a bigger house than the one they have right now.

If you want my advice, I would choose the family. They seemed to immediately love the house, while the other man was already making plans to tear out a couple of walls and renovate it.

Renovate it?
she thought, horrified. How could she let someone rebuild the house she had spent the last ten years in? What could that man not love about it? It was perfect.

Both parties have been approved though, so it’s your choice. Both are willing to pay the price we agreed on.

She hadn’t really cared about the price. Why would she? Money wasn’t a problem; it was the memories that were connected to the house… They weren’t something that could be sold for any amount of money. Another few tears filled her eyes until they spilled over and ran down her cheeks. Was she ready to sell it?

“The house is sold?” someone asked from behind her.

Maria whirled around, shocked to find Andy standing right behind her, his hair still wet from the shower. She hadn’t even realized it when he had entered the room. “Not yet,” she croaked out and wiped her tears away quickly even though she knew it was already too late for that.

Andy studied his mom’s face and felt his own heart sink when he detected the hurt in her eyes.

“There’re two parties interested in it,” she told him quietly.

He sat down on the bed next to the chair Maria was sitting in and stared at his hands. “Who is it?”

“A businessman from New York and a family from Florida with three kids and another on the way.”

“I’m voting for the family,” Andy said quietly.

Maria was surprised. She had expected him to go mad about the fact that the house they had lived in together with Andrew – his father – could be sold soon.

Andy felt like someone had just rammed a knife into his heart. Just the thought of someone else living in their house made him sick. But he knew they wouldn’t go back there; he couldn’t live there again either, not without his father. It wasn’t the house he was clinging too, it was the memories he had connected to it.

“Nobody can take the memories away from you, Andy,” she whispered.

The boy nodded quietly and continued to stare at his hands where they were clenched in his lap. “Sometimes I’m scared that I’ll forget what he looked like or how it was to talk to him.” He hadn’t even realized what he had just admitted until it was too late to take it back.

Maria’s throat tightened at her son’s confession and she leaned forward to take one of his hands. “You won’t forget about him, Andy.”

Silence fell over the room for several long moments. Neither Maria nor Andy knew what to say now.

“You should pick the family,” he finally forced out and got to his feet. Maria had to drop her hand again when he moved. She knew he wasn’t ready to talk about what he had just said and she was okay with that.

“I think I will.” She watched him walk to the door so he could leave. “Andy?”

The boy stood in the doorframe and glanced back at his mother.

“You sure you want to move out? To some little house here in Roswell?”

“I’ll go wherever you go, Mom.”
Last edited by Double Trouble on Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Re: In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult)Part 24 - 4/11/10

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:50 am

keepsmiling7: It’s slow, but they’re beginning to make progress.

Earth2Mama: Yep, that day is getting closer!

dreambeliever: Thanks! It takes time, so we appreciate your patience!

killjoy: We enjoy the family parts, too. They’re family has a fun dynamic.

Eva: It’s something that will definitely help.

It’s important for Andy to feel as if he has some control over his life at this point and Maria’s trying to give that to him.

begonia9508: Small steps, but positive steps.

Hopefully, that will be the same for Maria and Andy… they need a fresh start.

mary mary: Not that Michael will get any credit from Andy, lol. So, how was your visit with “Webster’s”? Lol, words are great, aren’t they?

Alien_Friend: Andy’s making some progress where his mom is concerned. He’s still struggling in other areas though.

Maria knows she needs to do these things herself if she’s going to get control of her life back and while Amy has her concerns she knows well enough to know that she has to let her daughter make her own choices.

Oh, you can count on Tess to add some fun to the mix!

We’re gonna see it in time.

We’re so glad you get excited that ITCOAL is here for your viewing pleasure every Sunday!

sarammlover: Aww. Well, he’s trying, although we’re pretty sure he won’t be giving his counsellor any credit for that anytime soon.

Maiqu: We’re glad that made ya feel good!


Part 25

Max walked through the second floor of the house to check on the kids and make sure they were all down for the night. Lucky walked along beside him until he reached the twins’ room and he circled the floor between their beds before lying down. He knew the dog would stay there all night unless something disturbed him, so after making sure the boys were alright he pulled their door nearly closed and moved on to Kara’s room.

She was sleeping restlessly and Ari’s tail thumped in annoyance when she shifted and nearly pushed the cat off of the bed. Max sat down next to her and rubbed her back, murmuring to her softly until she started to settle down again. Once he was satisfied that she was settled down he brushed her hair back and pressed a kiss to her forehead. He checked her nightlight before he left her room and pulled the door so that it was almost closed.

He paused in the hallway and looked up ahead at the light spilling out from the open doorway to the master bedroom. He knew things were far from being alright between them, but it was a good sign that Liz had left the door open. He walked into the bedroom and closed the door behind him so they wouldn’t disturb the kids.

“What time do you need to leave?” Liz asked, glancing up at him.

Max leaned back against the door and watched her as she applied lotion to her legs. He had seen her do this very thing on hundreds of occasions but it still tugged at something inside of him. He pulled his gaze away to glance at the alarm clock on his side of the bed and sighed inaudibly. “Within the next hour.”

“You’re already packed?”

He nodded wordlessly. He wanted to tell her that everything was going to be okay, that they would get past this, but he was afraid it would just sound like more empty promises.

“Is this what it’s gonna be like for the rest of our lives, Max?”

“What do you mean?” He frowned and pushed away from the door to cross the room and sit down on the foot of the bed.

Liz recapped the bottle of lotion and set it on the nightstand before looking at him. “Fighting, avoiding each other, putting on a show and acting like everything’s just perfect around everyone, lying to our children…” She shook her head. “The kids aren’t stupid, Max; they know things aren’t right between us.”

“No, it’s… I don’t want things to be like this, Liz.” He lowered his head to stare at the bedspread as he ran a hand through his hair.

“C’mere,” she said, crooking a finger in his direction and pulling her right leg up towards her.

Max looked at her and did as she had requested, moving further up the bed to sit directly in front of her. His hand automatically settled on her bare leg when she stretched it out to rest across his lap and she took his face in her hands, forcing him to look at her.

“Do you really think I can’t see how badly you’re hurting? Damn it, Max, seeing you in this kinda pain is tearing me apart. Talk to me,” she begged. “This distance between us is slowly tearing us apart… as a couple and as a family.” She let her hands slide down to settle on his shoulders, unconsciously rubbing them when she noticed the tension there. “I know how close you and Andrew were and I know his death hit you hard, but you’re never gonna be able to let it go and move past it if you won’t talk about it.”

“I can’t, Liz.” He shook his head and looked at her, his dark eyes miserable. “Don’t you think I would if I could?”

“I don’t understand.” She watched him as he distanced himself from her, getting up and moving across the room. “It was an accident, Max, there was nothing you could’ve done to – “

“I should’ve been able to hold onto him… you weren’t there… you didn’t see the look in his eyes when he looked straight at me and… and…”

She jumped to her feet when he suddenly bolted from the room, running into the bathroom and slamming the door before she could catch up with him.

Max braced his forearms on the sink as he leaned over to splash cold water on his face. He was doing everything he could think of to keep his stomach under control, forcing down the feeling of nausea as it rolled over him in response to the memories.

Liz reached up to rest her hand on the door, waiting only seconds before she turned the doorknob and pushed the door open. “Max, what’s wrong?” she asked as she rushed to his side. Her left hand settled at the back of his neck and she frowned; his skin was cold and clammy and she could feel the tremors coursing through his body. He was reacting to the memory of his brother’s accident, she realized. “Have you been having this kind of reaction all along? Damn it, Max, why won’t you talk to me?” she asked, hurting for him and frustrated with the situation.

“It’ll pass,” he muttered raggedly. He leaned over to rest his forehead on his fisted hands and drew in several deep breaths.

“Max, you have got to talk to someone, honey.”

He shook his head. “I can deal with this.”

“You’re not dealing with it,” she snapped and then forced herself to calm down. “Max, look at me, please?” She was relieved when he turned his head and met her gaze. “Tell me what happened that day.”

He looked away and swallowed hard. “I killed my brother.” He winced and sighed heavily. He hadn’t meant to say that.

“You stand up and look at me right now, Max Evans,” she demanded. This was worse than anything she had imagined. She had been certain that he was blaming himself for the accident, but never would she have thought that he believed he had killed his brother.

“I need to get goin’, Liz.” He shook his head. “I can’t afford to miss my flight; the next one won’t be until mornin’ and then I run the risk of not bein’ here for you Wednesday night.”

“This is more important than anything else.”

“I’m takin’ my truck so I can just leave it in the parkin’ garage at the airport.” He walked past her and out into bedroom, hurrying down the hall to the guestroom and gathering his things together. “My flight should be landing here around 4pm on Wednesday.” He grabbed the garment bag hanging on the back of the door, hefted the straps for his travel bag and laptop case up onto his shoulder and then snatched his briefcase up off of the dresser. “It’s been a good day, Liz; let’s not ruin it with an argument before I leave.”

“You can’t just say somethin’ like that and then leave, Max.”

“Just… forget it, okay? I’m tired and I’m talkin’ about things that make no sense.” He leaned in to kiss her. “I love you, darlin’.

“I love you too. I just wish you wouldn’t shut me out like this.”

“I’ll set the alarm on my way out and I’ll see you soon.”

She followed him out of the room. “Max?”

He paused on the top step and turned his head, but didn’t look at her.

“Call me when you get to the hotel so I know you got there safely.”

He nodded and started back downstairs.

Liz sat down on the top step when she heard the front door open followed by a series of quiet beeps, indicating that the alarm was being set. A few moments later the door closed and the locks turned and the next thing she heard was the engine of the truck turning over. She sighed and turned her head when Lucky lay down next to her and rested his big head in her lap. “I think it’s time for me to make some calls.”

She knew Andrew’s fall had been ruled an accident and from her understanding he had been the one to let go so what Max had said made no sense. It was already late so she would have to wait until the next morning, but she would be making some calls as soon as the kids were out the door and on their way to school. She didn’t care if it took all day and she had to call in sick, she would have a clearer picture of what had happened before her husband returned from his trip.

*****

Sam altered her path when she spotted the twins sitting alone at one of the picnic tables at lunchtime on Tuesday afternoon. Usually some of the other football players and at least a couple of the cheerleaders would be hanging out with them but they had slowly withdrawn as the problems between their parents had gotten worse.

“What’s wrong with my boys?” she asked as she sat between them and rested her forearms on their shoulders.

“Dad’s gone outta town again,” Nick said after a moment. “He left last night.”

“Did your parents argue again?”

Justin shook his head. “No, but it was pretty easy to see that she’s not happy about it.” He glanced up when Andy joined them and sat on one end of the table. “What’s up, Cuz?”

“Nothin’ much, just waitin’ for this day to be over. Gotta meet with my loser counselor again today.”

“C’mon, man, Mr. Guerin’s not so bad,” Nick said.

“Easy for you to say,” he muttered. “You’re not the one who’s gotta talk to him about personal stuff.” He didn’t really feel like talking about his stupid counseling sessions. “What’re you guys talkin’ about?”

“Dad had to go outta town again.” Justin shrugged. “Another business trip.”

Andy shook his head. “So? What’s the big deal? He’ll be back in a few days.” Yeah, whine about your daddy bein’ gone for a few days, he thought irritably.

“Well, Mom’s got this teacher thing tomorrow night an’ we’re all supposed to go – “

“Oh, right, so worst case scenario you have to go without your dad. That must suck for you.”

Sam leaned back to look at Andy and she shook her head in disapproval. “How’s your mom doin’ with your dad takin’ another trip?” she asked.

“She’s upset,” Nick said. “She tries to hide it, ya know? But his last trip ended up takin’ longer and I think she’s worried the same thing’s gonna happen this time an’ he’s gonna miss that dinner thing tomorrow night and our game on Thursday night.”

“I can’t believe you guys,” Andy muttered. “At least your dad’s gonna be back in a day or so, it’s not like he’s gone for the rest of your lives.” He shoved himself to his feet and stalked off, unable to deal with listening to their problems.

“Hey, don’t listen to him,” Sam said when the twins exchanged a glance. “He’s got his own stuff to work through.”

“I know he’s havin’ a tough time, but…” Nick shook his head. “Hey, we’re gonna go by and pick Kara up after school. We were gonna take her over to the park and let her feed the ducks. You wanna go with?”

“Yeah, that sounds like fun.”

Justin glanced at her when he noticed that she was following Andy’s retreat. “You wanna go after him, huh?” he asked.

“Yeah. You guys mind?”

“Nah, we’re gonna stop and talk to the coach for a few minutes before classes start after lunch.”

“Alright, I’ll catch up with you guys in Math class this afternoon.”

Nick glanced at his brother when Sam took off after their cousin. “Ya know she likes him, right?”

“Do you see a stupid sign on me somewhere?” Justin snapped. “Yes, I know she likes him.”

He shrugged. “You okay with that?”

“I don’t know.” He scratched his left ear. “I think so, it’s just that Sam’s always kinda been our friend and I’m not used to havin’ to share her with anyone else.”

“It was bound to happen sooner or later, Justin.” He slapped his brother on the back. “C’mon, let’s go grab a burger before they’re all gone.”

“What’s the other choice today?”

“Sloppy Joe’s.”

“Ungh,” Justin made a face. “Yeah, we’d better hurry.”

*****

Kyle was having breakfast at the café and contemplating his next move where Tess was concerned when the bell over the door jangled. He glanced up from the sports section of the local newspaper and smiled when Liz noticed him and started walking towards his table.

“Mornin’, Liz,” he greeted, motioning to the bench seat across from him.

“How’re you doin’, Kyle?”

He waited to answer until she had placed an order for toast and coffee before he responded. “Can’t complain. Looks like your boys have a big game this week.” He cut into his soft eggs and reached for a slice of toast that he wrapped around a piece of bacon.

Liz felt her stomach roll nauseatingly as she watched him use his toast to sop up the bright yellow yolk as it oozed out across his plate. “Yeah, they’re playing against Clovis on Thursday night. I’m so glad it’s a home game and I won’t have to worry about getting over there in time for it to start.”

“Max gonna be outta town?”

“He’s scheduled to be back tomorrow morning.”

But she didn’t believe it. He could hear it in her tone. His gaze dropped to her hands for a moment and he watched the way she twisted her wedding rings around her finger. He reached over and covered her hands, stopping the nervous movements. “I don’t know what all the,” he raised his hands to make air quotes, “’in-law’ rules are, but our families are connected through Maria’s marriage to Andrew, so if there’s anything you need a hand with, I’m here, okay?”

“Thank you, Kyle,” she choked out, touched by his offer.

“Any time.” He winked at the waitress when she paused by their table to refill their cups. “Hey, I know it’s not easy to ask for help so why don’t we start with me offerin’ to get the kids outta your hair on Saturday afternoon.”

“You wanna take the kids for the afternoon?”

“Sure. My buddy volunteers over at the community center and he said they usually get a game of B-ball started up after lunch. I thought I’d take Andy over there and if it’s cool with you I’ll take your kids too. Matter of fact I’m sure I can wrangle Tess into givin’ me a hand and we’ll just bring ‘em home after dinner. You an’ Max just take the day and relax for a while without the kids underfoot.”

God, when was the last time she and Max had spent a day alone? “Kyle, I don’t know what to say.”

“Say ‘thank you’ and let it go. Tess can be hard-headed and stubborn, but it means a lot to her to really be a part of your family. You have no idea what you did for her when you called her the other day and asked her to watch Kara.”

She nodded. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He grinned and motioned at the piece of toast left on her plate. “You didn’t come here for the food, huh?”

“No, I actually came here looking for you. I called Amy and she told me where you were.” She took a deep breath. “I was hoping you could tell me how to go about getting a copy of Andrew’s accident report.”

“You’d need to file a request with the department that actually investigated the incident.”

“Would they be able to fax it today?”

He shook his head. “Huh-uh, you’re probably lookin’ at a few weeks at least.”

She sighed and slumped back in the booth. “I can’t wait weeks. Do you know anyone there? Maybe someone who could expedite the process?”

“Not in the county where the accident happened, no.” He grabbed a napkin from the dispenser and started writing on it. “I don’t have the number for the office there, but once you’ve got it just give ‘em a call and tell them you’re requesting a copy of an accident report.” He tapped the napkin with his pen. “That’s the form number you need to request.”

She nodded and accepted the napkin when he slid it across the table.

“You don’t wanna see that report, Liz,” he said quietly.

“No, I don’t.” She smiled tightly. “But I need to see it.”

He could hear the stress in her voice and his hand tightened around his mug. “I’ll make some calls, see if there’s anything I can do to help.”

“I appreciate it, Kyle. I’d better go. I’ve got quite a few things to do before dinner.”

He sat there for a while after she left, wondering if he should have gotten her the information she wanted. He could get it with no hassle, but sometimes family members changed their minds about viewing the report before they ever had the chance to see it.

*****

“Hey, Andy, wait up!”

Andy had been heading for the bleachers, intending to get away for a few minutes when he heard Sam calling him and he turned to look at her. “What?”

“Look, you’re havin’ a hard time with losin’ your dad and stuff and I understand that; I know it’s hard to grow up without a parent, but you’re wrong for goin’ off on the guys like that and you totally owe both of them an apology for it. They’re havin’ a hard time right now – “

“A hard time? What, Daddy’s not comin’ home tonight… oh, yeah, boo hoo, big loss!” he yelled, angry that she was calling him on his behavior.

“Andy, just because they haven’t experienced the loss you did doesn’t make what they’re goin’ through any less painful. Nicky and Justin are your cousins, your family, and treatin’ them like that is just wrong. They’re hurtin’ too, Andy!”

“Their parents are arguin’, so what?! At least their dad’s still alive to argue or go out of town or whatever!”

“You are bein’ so unfair to them!”

“Yeah? Well, God, Fate, the Universe… it’s all been unfair to me!” he yelled.

“So because you feel like everything’s against you that means you’ve gotta turn around and be cruel to your own family? What kinda screwed up logic is that?” She shook her head at him and sat down next to him when he finally took a seat in the bleachers.

“What would you know about growin’ up without a parent?”

“Oh, no way, buddy,” she muttered. “You want me to share so you can just tear into me ‘cause you don’t think what I’ve been through is as painful as what you’ve been through?”

They sat there in silence for several minutes before Andy couldn’t take it any longer. “Did your mom die?”

“No, she abandoned me an’ my dad. She just walked away when I was four days old and never looked back. You wanna argue about shitty situations? I could sit here and tell you how at least your dad didn’t leave you ‘cause he didn’t want you.” She shrugged and turned her head to the side to wipe her eyes with the heel of her palm before glancing at him again. “So, we can sit here and whine about which one of us got the worst deal or we can just accept that we’ve all got issues with our parents and instead of tryin’ to keep score we can support each other.”

Andy felt like a total jerk when he saw the tears glistening in her eyes and he suddenly realized that it wasn’t necessary for a parent to die for them to be lost to their children. “Sorry, Sam, I guess I never thought about it like that.

“I’m not the one you need to apologize to, Andy. What you said to my boys was just mean and regardless of what they’ll admit to, I’ll tell you right now that those words were cruel enough to make me hurt for them.”

He stared at the ground under his feet and dug the toe of his right tennis shoe into the dirt, doing his best to avoid her disapproving gaze. He didn’t even understand why her disappointment in him affected him the way that it did, but he knew he had to do something to make it right.

Sam turned to look at him. “Andy, they don’t know what to say and you get mad and go off on anyone who tries to talk to you. But it’s so wrong to make them feel guilty because your dad died and theirs didn’t. You make it so hard for anyone to have a civil conversation with you and the guys wanna hang out and do stuff with you but no one wants to spend that time walkin’ on eggshells ‘cause they’re too afraid to say the wrong thing.”

“I’ll say I’m sorry,” he mumbled after a few minutes.

Not far away Michael Guerin listened as the girl gave Andy a dressing down that the boy took to heart and responded to in a grudging, yet positive manner. He had been passing by when he had overheard Andy go off on a rant against his cousins but he had been intercepted by one of the teachers before he could go after him. By the time he had found him Sam had already found him and started telling him what she thought in a very direct and honest manner.

He smiled to himself and backed away when he heard the boy agree to apologize to his cousins. They were making progress, he thought, satisfied.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
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Re: In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult)Part 25 - 4/18/10

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:43 am

Earth2Mama: You’re right, progress is a step in the right direction, no matter how small.

We love Sam too! The girl does not pull punches when it’s important. She does have a special relationship with her boys. If it ever comes up we’re sure she’ll deal with in a fitting way.

Guilt is a horrible thing and Max has let it eat away at him because he refuses to deal with it.

begonia9508: Thanks! We’ll revisit that day at some point.

Liz will get her hands on that report.

Eva: Sam’s great, we love her too!

mary mary: Max does need to talk to someone… and he will. The realization that he needs help will come. We’re glad you’re lovin’ Michael!

Alien_Friend: Counsellor Guerin is very intuitive and he knows when to push and when to wait. Sam has a gift and she’s able to cut through the bull and get right to the heart of the matter. We’ll see what happens after Andy gets around to apologizing.

Girlfriends for the twins, huh?

With just a few words from Max, Liz now has a place to start. She wants so badly to help him, but until he opens up to her – or someone else – to share what he’s feeling and dealing with it’s gonna be hard to do that.

Kyle’s a great guy! Wonder if Maria will somehow end up there? Ya just never know…

Liz has only had the basic information but now, after what Max revealed, she’s thinking that she needs to take a closer look at what happened for herself. She believes that if she can get a better understanding of the events that occurred on that day then she can help her husband. Now we just have to wait and see if she’s right.

dreambeliever: Alex is a wonderful single dad and his daughter is proof of that.

keepsmiling7: It does seem hopeless, but we assure you it isn’t. The journey is often painful, but the destination will be worth it.

We’ll find out when Liz gets her hand on the report.

sarammlover: Sam doesn’t shy away from those difficult moments and she speaks her mind. Andy needs that in his life right now. At least now Liz has a place to start from.

Maiqu: We’re glad you’re lovin’ Michael and Kyle here.

Sam doesn’t pull any punches. Andy’s gotten used to people leaving him alone once they get a dose or two of his attitude. Sam won’t do that but she will speak her mind and call him on his behavior.

Max just opened the door whether he realizes it or not.



Part 26

Kyle leaned against the doorframe between the living room and kitchen of Tess’ new apartment, amused by her attempts to climb up on the sink. It had taken him a few minutes to figure out that she was trying to collect the window measurements. He smirked when she finally made it and he listened to her muttered curses as she did her best to brace her knees on the edge of the sink while leaning forward to measure the window.

“Oh, what the hell is wrong with you now?” she grumbled when the measuring tape wouldn’t cooperate. “Oh, locking button again.” She giggled and went back to humming along with the radio as she stretched the tape across the window.

He grinned when the next song came on and she immediately got into it, singing out loud as her jean-clad hips swayed to the music. She shifted, accidentally nudging the piece of paper she had been scribbling measurements on and she twisted in an effort to grab it before it could fall, upsetting her precarious position and losing her balance.

Kyle lunged away from the doorframe when he saw her move too quickly and just barely managed to catch her with an arm around her waist before she could hit the floor. He registered her frightened scream and assumed it was from falling until she rounded on him and clocked him upside the head with the heavy-duty tape measure she was still holding.

Tess jabbed her heel into the guy’s instep when he didn’t release her and she was pulling her arm forward with the intention of slamming her elbow into his abdomen when his voice suddenly registered.

“Ow, fuck, Tess, it’s me!”

She jerked away and rounded on him and the angry words spilled out when she saw Kyle bent over, holding the edge of the sink for support. “What the fuck is wrong with you?!” she shouted. “How dare you just walk in here without knocking or letting me know you were here?! I thought you were some creepy perv; I could’ve killed you! It’s not funny to sneak up on people like that!”

“Point taken,” he muttered, blinking to focus his vision. “You think you could get me a towel or somethin’ and yell at me later?”

“What? Why?”

“Because I’m bleedin’ over here and I need to know if I’m gonna need stitches.”

“Shit, are you serious?” she asked as she dropped the tape measure and rushed over to him. She winced when he lowered his hand and she saw blood on his palm. “Damn it, I’m sorry, Kyle.” She motioned for him to lower his head and she pushed his hair away from his temple, revealing the wound. “I can’t tell how deep it is, but it’s bleeding like crazy and it’s already startin’ to swell.”

“Head wounds always bleed like crazy,” he assured her. “It’s probably okay, but if you wanna run me over to the hospital I’d appreciate it.”

“Oh, my God, do you think it’s that serious?”

“No, but I wanna make sure before I go home. No need to walk in the house bleedin’ all over everything and scarin’ the family.”

*****

Andy dragged his feet as he walked into the counselor’s office and made a big production of throwing himself down in the chair in front of the desk. He was still feeling bitter about his cousins and he didn’t understand why their dad being gone for a night or two was such a big deal, and now he had to figure out how to apologize for his behavior because he had made a promise to Sam.

“You don’t look like a happy camper today, Mr. Evans,” Michael mused as he tapped on the keyboard in front of him.

“Wow, you must be some kinda genius or somethin’,” he snarled.

“Do you really wanna start today’s session with this attitude?”

“Why do you even care?”

“You know that knot in your chest that hurts all the time? That knot that just gets worse every time you do somethin’ that hurts either you or someone you care about? It’s been there since your dad got hurt and it’s only getting worse… that’s not gonna change until you deal with things, Andy. I know what I’m talkin’ about, kid; I carried that pain around for several years before I dealt with it.”

“Whatever. They pay you guys to say this shit. You don’t know anything about it. You were probably lyin’ when you said your dad died.”

Michael pushed the keyboard away and folded his hands on the desk. “You can say anything you want to me, Andy… you can yell at me, scream at me, and rant about the injustice that the world’s put on your shoulders, but don’t ever call me a liar.”

Andy hung his head for a minute. Damn, that was twice in one day he had been told off by someone who wanted to help him and be there for him. “When did your dad die?”

“I lost my parents when I was 15, just like you. They were killed in a car accident comin’ home from a movie.”

“Do you still remember that day like it just happened?” Andy asked after a while. He didn’t wait for an answer before quietly admitting, “I have nightmares about it sometimes.”

“The nightmares will eventually stop and the memories will fade in time. I can’t tell you that they’ll completely go away… I have the occasional nightmare about the night of their accident but it’s rare and the memories aren’t as painful now.”

“Did you have to talk to somebody?”

“Let’s take a walk.” He stood and motioned for the teenager to follow him. They left the building and crossed the campus, walking up into the stands when they reached the football field. “I had no interest in talkin’ to anybody after I lost my parents, Andy. It hurt and the more I tried to push it down the worse it got; I just wanted it to stop. I got in fights with anyone who’d fight back, I got into trouble, and I pushed people away. I moved around the foster system, got bounced from one home to the next for a while, and eventually they stopped tryin’ to find a home that’d fit me.”

Andy frowned. He couldn’t imagine not having his mom, uncles and aunts, and grandparents around right now. “So, you didn’t have any other family?”

“I didn’t have anyone that could take me in, no. And to answer your other question, yeah, I was eventually forced to sit down and talk to somebody… a guy who did what I do now.”

“So, he made that much of a difference for you?”

“In time, yeah.” He shook his head, chuckling at the memory. “I didn’t make it easy for him, Andy; I was sure he didn’t know anything and he was just gonna spout off a bunch of psychological mumbo-jumbo and expect me to be fixed. I didn’t expect him to actually listen to me or make a difference in my life.”

“Is he why you’re a counselor now?”

“He’s a big part of the reason why I chose this profession.”

“Everybody thinks I’m just a big troublemaker.”

“What makes you say that?” Michael asked, careful to keep his eyes focused on the field.

“Sam’s dad said she can’t hang out with me unless there’s an adult around ‘cause of the other day when we ditched math class.”

“Doesn’t feel too good does it?”

Andy shook his head and stared out at the field, grateful for the silence when Counselor Guerin didn’t say anything else. The guy had a really annoying habit of saying things that made him think and then just being quiet so he had no choice but to think about it.

*****

“I am so sorry,” Tess apologized again as they drove through the small downtown area a couple of hours later. They had waited around the emergency room for what felt like forever before he had been seen and after a few stitches and a painkiller for the pounding headache she had given him he had been released.

“Stop apologizin’, Tess, you’re makin’ me nervous.” He motioned to a shopping center up ahead of them. “Stop over there, would ya?”

“What?”

“I can’t go home lookin’ like this.” He pointed at the patches of blood dotting the shoulder of his shirt. “I’d send Mom an’ Maria into a panic. Look, the doc said I’m fine. Besides, weren’t you gonna pick up some curtains or somethin’?”

“No, I was just getting my information together for later. I was gonna go over to the hardware store and pick my paint out today.”

“Okay, so lemme run in here and get a new shirt and then I’ll go to the hardware store with you and haul your purchases around.” He grinned. “It’s the least I can do after scarin’ the hell outta you earlier.”

“Why were you there?”

“I wanted to ask your advice on somethin’.” He reached over to pinch her side. “Wasn’t expectin’ you to commit assault and battery on a Federal officer though; there’re laws against that, ya know.”

Tess rolled her eyes at him as she pulled into a parking space near the entrance. “My advice? About what?”

“Liz wants to see the report that was filed after the investigation into Andrew’s accident was wrapped up.”

She made a face. “Okay, I wouldn’t wanna see it, but it’s a matter of public record, right? So, all she has to do is request the report and then wait because I’m sure there’s probably several miles of red tape she’ll need to go through.”

“She asked me if there was anything I could do to cut through all the bull so she could get her hands on it quicker.”

Tess glanced at him as they walked through the automatic doors and entered the store. “You can do that, right?”

“Yeah.”

“But you don’t want to,” she guessed, shaking her head and making a face when he picked up a short-sleeved shirt with little sharks all over it.

“No, I just don’t see how that can help anything. They’re having a rough enough time without throwin’ that in the mix.” He reached for another shirt from the discounted rack and grinned when she rolled her eyes.

Tess grabbed his arm and dragged him away from the sales rack, ignoring his protests. “No shirts designed with marine life, palm trees, or women in bikinis. Ungh, you have no sense of style or fashion, Kyle.” She steered him towards a more suitable selection and turned him loose. “Look, after the accident Max started pulling away from everyone and he’s never talked to Liz about what happened… she’s probably just trying to find something that’ll help her get a better picture of what Max is dealing with.”

“Do you think I should make a couple of calls?”

“I don’t think it’ll hurt anything. Who knows, maybe it’ll help. I think Liz is reaching a point where she feels like nothing she’s doin’ is helping and if she doesn’t do something drastic she’s gonna lose her husband and it’s gonna tear their family apart.”

He nodded. “Alright, I’ll see what I can do to expedite things.” He paused in his search for an acceptable shirt and grinned at her. “Got any plans for Saturday afternoon?”

“Maybe,” she hedged. “Why? What’ve you got in mind?”

“I kinda told Liz and Maria we’d take the kids off their hands and bring ‘em home after dinner.”

“It’s nice of you to ask me after you’ve already volunteered my time.” She took a blue shirt off of the display and unfolded it, shaking it out and handing it to him. “This one will really bring your eyes out.”

“And that’s important?”

“Just try it on.” She shook her head at him when he took the shirt and checked the tag inside the collar before yanking the price tag off. He handed her the tag and then hung the shirt over a nearby rack. “What’re you doin’?” she asked when he started unbuttoning the shirt he was wearing over a white tee shirt.

“If I’m gonna buy it anyway I might as well put it on. Otherwise I’ll be changin’ in your car and you know the tongues will start waggin’ if someone sees that.”

Tess rolled her eyes at him. “Like I’ve ever cared what the gossips in this town think about me.”

He chuckled as he shrugged into the new shirt, buttoning it up and smoothing his hands over the front before holding his arms out at his sides. “How’s it look?”

She reached out and straightened his collar before taking a step back and raking her gaze over him. “It’ll pass,” she said dismissively. It would more than pass, she thought as she mentally fanned herself. But there was no reason to feed his oversized ego. “What’ve you got planned for our outing with the kids on Saturday?”

Kyle hid a grin when her eyes darkened just slightly while she was watching him, letting it go without comment. A guy had to know when to just stand back and take a silent compliment. He led the way back to the front of the store to pay for the shirt while sharing his thoughts about the upcoming weekend.

*****

Maria glanced at her watch. It was shortly before 6pm and there was still plenty of time before dinner would start. Her Mom had told her to get out of the kitchen when she had offered to help prepare the food. “I’m taking Theo out, ya wanna go with me?” she asked her son, who was sitting on the couch studying the TV guide.

He glanced up at Mom and seemed to consider his answer for a few moments. “No, I guess I’m gonna have a look at my math book before dinner. We’ve gotta test tomorrow.”

She nodded. Thank God, Andy had never been too lazy to actually study. His grades had gotten worse since his father had died, but she knew it was just because his mind was too distracted to learn. It seemed to be getting better though. “Alright, tell your grandma I’ll be there when dinner’s ready.”

The boy nodded as he threw the magazine on the coffee table in front of him and got to his feet to go upstairs. Maria searched around for Theo’s leash, rambling when she suddenly found it under a stack of old newspapers next to the front door. She stepped out of the house and walked around to the small garden behind it.

Theo was already at the gate waiting for her, wagging his tail. “Missed me, huh?” she asked with a soft smile. “How about we take a little walk together?”

The dog’s tail started to wag even harder, as if he understood every single word she said. She chuckled. “Thought you’d like that. Oh…” her cell started to ring, “ya gonna have to wait a little bit, big boy.”

Theo barked once in protest when she turned her back on him again to answer the phone. “Hello?”

“Hey, Chica, it’s Tess.”

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Liz invited me over for dinner tonight. Ya know, Max is outta town and she’s feeling lonely. I thought maybe you and Andy could come over as well?”

“Hmm, I don’t know. My mom’s already started dinner…”

“C’mon, Maria. The three of us could have a little fun while the kids occupy each other.”

“Alright, I’ll ask Andy and if he’s interested then we’ll be there.”

“Great,” the other girl said and Maria could hear the smile in her voice. “So I take that as a yes. Just call me if you’re not gonna make it.”

“Sure. Later, Tess. Oh, no, wait. Promise me you won’t say anything about our business plans tonight. I haven’t told Andy yet and I want him to hear it from me first.”

“Promise, okay? Later,” the girl said in a sing-song voice.

Maria shoved her cell back into her pants pocket. “I’ll be right back,” she told Theo and hung the leash over the fence before walking back into the house again.

“I thought you were taking Theo out?” Andy asked from where he was sitting on the couch again, math book balanced on his thighs.

“Tess just called me. She’s heading over to Aunt Liz’s for dinner and she invited us over too. You wanna go?”

Uncle Max isn’t home, the boy thought. Maybe this would be a good opportunity to apologize for acting like a dick in school. And the twins could probably help him with the math thing. They weren’t as good as Sam, but they were still a lot better than him. “Yeah, why not?”

Maria nodded with a smile. He wasn’t running from his family anymore, that had to be a good sign. She started to walk into the kitchen to find her mother. “Mom…”

“What is it, Maria?”

“Would you be mad if I told you Andy and I aren’t gonna eat dinner with you guys?”

“What? Why?” She turned from the sink where she had been washing some vegetables.

“Tess invited us over to Liz’s place. Max is out of town again and we want her to feel a little better and not so lonely.”

Amy nodded with a sad smile. “Yeah, maybe that’s a good idea. It’s okay, we can eat the leftovers from dinner tomorrow then.”

“Okay, I’m gonna take Theo out for a short walk and then we’ll leave.”

*****

Michael stopped in his tracks when he saw who was heading right towards him as he walked through the park. “Mojo,” he called his dog who was roaming around a few feet away from him. “I’m gonna have to put ya on the leash, buddy. Sorry.” Mojo made a whining sound, but stood still next to the tall man as he clipped his leash to the leather collar he wore. “I know, but we’ve got company.” Michael glanced up at the woman he had just noticed.

Maria had considered turning around when she had seen Mr. Guerin in the park but it was already too late, he had seen her and it would be rude to not say hello now. She called for Theo and put him on the leash as well when she saw that Michael had his dog with him.

“Hey,” the man greeted her when they finally met on the path. “Mojo,” he warned his dog when the Rottweiller pulled on the leash, interested in the other dog. “He’s just curious,” he told Maria.

“Uh-huh,” she said sceptically.

“So, how’s it goin’?” How’s it goin’? Come on, Guerin, you sound like a teenager.

“Actually… good, I think.”

Michael started to walk a few feet over to a nearby bench, hoping that she would take his silent invitation and sit down with him.

Maria watched him and tried to figure out if she should tell him she needed to go or if she should sit down next to him. “Is your dog okay with it if I let Theo off the leash again? He needs some exercise before we head home again.”

“Are you okay with it if I release Mojo?” he countered.

“I don’t know…” She looked at his dog, her expression uncertain.

Michael knew she didn’t trust Mojo for some reason. Okay, he was a big dog and looked a little daunting at times, but Theo was even larger.

“It’s just…” she started, when she saw him wondering, “Andy got bitten by a Rottweiller when he was a little boy. It was our neighbor’s pet and they had actually played together, but one day,” she shrugged, “he just bit him in the arm.”

Michael nodded. “You can let Theo off the leash. I’ll turn Mojo loose later.”

“Thanks.” She watched Theo running riot as soon as she had unleashed him. “The yard at my parents’ house is too small for him.”

“Easy,” Michael told Mojo when he wanted to do the same thing. He stroked the dog’s big head. “Did you already tell Andy about the idea of movin’?”

Maria tried to relax a little and leaned back on the bench. “Yeah, I did. And he reacted well, even better than I had expected.”

“What’d he say?”

“Well, at first he was a little distant and I told him that we have time to make this decision and that he should think about it for a while. But then when we were having dinner with my parents he was the one who brought it up again.”

Michael smiled when he thought about his talk with the boy about that very topic. “That’s good. He’s accepting changes in his life.”

Maria nodded. “I can see the difference already. I mean, am I too excited by it? I’m still worried that he’ll revert back to the way he was behaving when we got here.”

He waited until she looked at him before he started to speak. “There is no guarantee that it’s only gonna get better from here, Maria. There’ll still be days when he’ll be distant or react to things negatively, but we’ll keep workin’ on it.”

“You’ve done an amazing job with him so far,” she admitted honestly.

He tried to suppress the proud smile as much as he could. “Thanks. Sometimes a change of scene is a really good start for things to get better.”

She wondered if he was talking from his own experiences or if it was just something he had learned in college. But who was she to ask him personal questions like that? “It was a good idea to come her,” Maria confided. “How’s he doing in school? He doesn’t really tell me much about it.”

“From what I’ve seen and heard he’s getting along with his classmates and teachers. The twins and Sam are his closest friends though.”

Maria chuckled. “Yeah, this Sam girl really seems to get through to him. Probably more than I do right now.”

“She’s a good girl and she’s someone who accepts him the way he is. Maybe he’s more comfortable talking with her than with you right now, but that’s normal, Maria.”

She nodded. “I’m trying to accept that.”

Michael remembered what he had seen earlier that day. How Sam had set Andy straight about his behavior towards his cousins. He decided that he wasn’t going to say anything about it though. Instead he brought up something else he had been thinking about more and more lately. “It’s Andy’s birthday soon, right?”

“Same day as Kyle’s, yes,” she nodded.

“Has he said anything about it? Does he want a party?”

“No,” she sighed. “He told me that he doesn’t want anything for his birthday. He doesn’t want a party without his Dad, I guess.” I don’t know how I’ll react on that day either, she thought sadly.

“It’s gonna be a tough day for both of you, no doubt. But you should do something together. Just being home and thinking about your loss won’t help and no birthday should be like that.” He knew what he was talking about. How many years had he avoided celebrating his birthday when he had been younger?

“I’m trying to think of something that might actually get him out of the house for his birthday.”

“If I can make a suggestion…” he said carefully. “I’ve already told Andy that I’m givin’ Kyle a party at my house. We’ll barbecue, hang out, and you guys are family, so if ya want we can make it a double birthday party.”

“I don’t know…” she said, “wouldn’t that be weird for him to have a party at his counsellor’s house?”

“Probably. But it might also help him to see me more like a friend than just a counsellor.”

“I’ll let you know, okay?”

He nodded. “Sure.”

She glanced at her watch. “I’d better head home now. We’re going over to my sister-in-law’s house for dinner. Theo…” she called the dog who had settled down near a tree a little ways away from them.

Theo glanced up when he heard her voice and stood immediately. “Have a nice evening” Maria told Michael.

“You too.” He watched her as she walked along the small path that led out of the park in the direction of her parents’ house. God, why couldn’t he be interested in a woman without a heavy background like hers? He smiled to himself and shook his head. “C’mon, Mojo, let’s get ready to head over to Isabel’s for dinner.” He scratched behind the dog’s ears as he stood up. “Wanna chase the kitties?” He laughed and patted Mojo’s side when the animal looked up at him and his ears flicked back at the word ‘kitties’. “Don’t worry, I won’t let ‘em get ya, big guy.” They jogged back over to his house and he put all of his thoughts into dinner and planning Kyle’s birthday party with Isabel.


A/N: We're not sure if we can post in our regular updating schedule the next week, since we'll both pretty busy. We will try through, just no guarantee. You can check out our Author's page here, we will keep ya up to date there, when the next uppies will be posted.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 27

Post by Double Trouble » Sun May 02, 2010 6:09 am

Earth2Mama: Lol, seems like Tess knows very well how to protect herself. Poor Kyle!

Ya know K&T will have fun with the kids... and also with each other. Tess would just never admit it.

Michael has to make sure that his feelings for Maria won’t come between him and Andy. This is hard to do and we will see how he manages this situation.

begonia9508: True, everyone has something! Michael will figure it out sooner or later.

keepsmiling7: We’ll find out… eventually.

mary mary: Animals are such strange, funny creatures!

Natalie36: Keep your fingers crossed… we’ll find out.

dreambeliever: Yes, it’s something taken for granted by those of us who aren’t… hmm… vertically challenged. :)

Alien_Friend: Little moments… but each one is a tiny building block. The birthday party promises to be interesting.

Andy is learning from his time with his counsellor whether or not he wants to admit it. We’re guessing he probably still isn’t gonna admit any such thing for a while.

Tess was certainly no shrinking violet, was she?

Let’s go check in on dinner. Oh, the only updating schedule that’s being interrupted by real life is the Thursday update for DT. :)

killjoy: Painful, but Kyle may think twice about doing that again, lol!

Um-hmm, Tess wasn’t even thinking about how ‘mad’ she is at him.

Exactly! And Kyle is obviously no different from the rest of the male population, lol!

sarammlover: Nope, not fair to treat the twins like that! Michael’s walking a thin line, but so far he’s balancing pretty well. We’re glad you’re enjoying Kyle so much here!

Maiqu: He is… and that just annoys Andy to no end, lol!

Thanks! We had a lot of fun writing that one!



Part 27

Liz turned when the front door slammed shut and the twins barreled into the kitchen, kissing her cheek as they headed for the refrigerator. “No snacking, boys. Dinner will be ready in 45 minutes.”

“Mom,” Justin complained. “We’re starvin’!”

“Have a piece of fruit and get started on your homework.” She smiled at Tess when she came into the room with Kara clutching her hand and sharing her day. The little girl had run out of the room the moment she had heard the car doors slamming. “Hey, what’d Maria say?”

“She said they’ll be here.”

“Aunt Maria an’ Andy are comin’ over?” Nick mumbled around a mouthful of banana.

“Nicholas Evans, do not talk with your mouth full!” Liz chastised.

He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Sorry, Mom.”

She rolled her eyes at his mumbled apology… made with his mouth full of course. “Yes, your aunt and cousin are coming over for dinner.”

The twins exchanged a glance, thinking about their earlier run-in with Andy before Justin spoke up. “I don’t have any homework tonight, Mom. You want me to do anything?”

“You can set the table in the backyard. The weather is nice, so we should eat outside.”

“Okay. Real dishes or you just want me to use paper plates?”

“Real dishes.”

“Oh, you sure?” Real dishes meant he and Nick would probably have to wash dishes after dinner.

Liz rolled her eyes at him. “Well, let me rethink…” She tapped her lip with her index finger as if she was really thinking about it again. “Yep.”

“Ungh, Mom, you are sooo not funny,” he complained as he got the dishes down. “C’mon, Kara, gimme a hand with settin’ the table.”

Tess nodded at the little girl when she looked at her uncertainly. “You can tell me about the teddy bear later.”

“Otay.” She ran over to Justin and held her hands out for the plates.

“Here ya go,” he handed her three plates. “Too heavy?”

She shook her head with a smile.

“Okay, I’ll take the rest of them. Let’s go, kid.”

Nick looked between his mom and aunt. “I can go help ‘em. I’ve only gotta write a report for my History class and I got most of it done in study hall.”

“Go and get your homework done first. We don’t know how late it’s gonna get with dinner and everything and I don’t want you to sit up too late tonight.”

“Well, alright.” He made a face. “I guess I can get it done before dinner.”

Tess waited until the boy left the room. “God, how do ya manage three kids, Liz? I mean, they’re all amazing, but it has to be exhausting.”

Liz smiled and shrugged. “It’s exhausting and chaotic, but I wouldn’t change it either. It’s a lot more manageable now that they’re older.”

“So what should I do?” Tess glanced around the kitchen.

“You can get started on the salad. I’ve already got the roast in and I’ve just about got the potatoes ready.”

“Okay.” She walked over to the counter and did what Liz had told her to do. “Did Max call you from his trip?”

“He called last night when he got to the hotel and I talked to him this morning. I just don’t know why he’s doing this, Tess... he hates it. I can hear it in his voice.”

“Well, I guess in some weird man way of thinking he’s doing it for you, Liz. Not that I’d appreciate it either.”

Liz smacked her hand down on the counter in irritation. “Why won’t he talk to me, Tess?”

The blonde looked up, surprised by the other woman’s sudden outburst. “I don’t know, Liz. He doesn’t talk to me at all.”

“Well, that makes two of us.” She sighed and rubbed her eyes. “Do you know what he said to me last night?”

“What?”

She glanced outside to make sure the kids were still out there and out of hearing range. “I asked him to tell me what happened the day of the accident and he said he killed Andrew. It was an accident, Tess, I know it was an accident and so does he. I don’t understand why he said that.”

Tess wasn’t really shocked; she had already expected that he thought something like that. “I don’t know... I think it’s the trauma he still has from watching Andrew...” she swallowed, “watching him, as he fell.”

“I just... God, I don’t know how to help him.” She suddenly realized who she was talking to and she forced her tears back as she turned to look at Tess. “I’m sorry, Tess, I know this isn’t something you wanna talk about. Andrew was your brother too.”

“No, no, it’s okay, Liz. I’ve learned to talk about it.”

“I wish he would talk to someone, even if it isn’t me.”

“It won’t help if he doesn’t go there of his own free will.”

“I know, but... the longer he stays in denial the worse it’s gonna be when he reaches the point where he can’t deny it any longer.”

“I can try to talk to him…” Tess offered.

“Have the two of you ever gotten along?” Liz asked curiously.

Tess snorted. “Yeah, until I told him I didn’t want to be a part of the family business.”

“That’s what started the problems between you two?”

“Well, no, but it didn’t help any.”

“Why?”

“Well, the boys always planned out that they’d do the dirty work while I’d do the paperwork and accounting for the shop. At first I was into it too, but ya know... interests change and I realized in college that I wanted something completely different.”

“I can understand that.” She paused. “Max has never really talked about why you guys don’t get along.”

“I kinda destroyed their little plan and while Andrew was cool about it, well, Max... wasn’t.”

Liz sighed. “I know you guys never seemed very close before the business got started and I guess I just never gave it much thought later on.” She shook her head. “I’m so sorry, Tess.”

“Don’t be.”

She nodded and glanced up when she heard a car pulling into the driveway. “That should be Maria and Andy.”

“Yeah, want me to open the door for them?”

“Would you? I’ll get these potatoes finished, check on the kids, and be right back.”

“Sure,” Tess wiped her hands on a towel and started to head for the front door.

Maria glanced at Andy as they stood on the front porch and she shook her head at him. “Why are you fidgeting? You’ve been unable to be still since we left the house.”

“Just because,” he answered.

Before she could question him any further the door opened and Tess was ushering them inside.

“Hey, Aunt Tess... where’re the guys?” Andy asked.

“Hey, very nice greeting, boy,” she shook her head at her nephew, amused. “Nick’s upstairs and Justin’s in the backyard.”

He couldn’t help but grin at her response. “Sorry, just gotta talk to the guys.”

She stepped aside to let him in. “Hey, Maria. Your son seems to be in a hurry.”

“I know, he’s got somethin’ on his mind but he hasn’t let me in on it. How’s Liz?”

“Well, considering the circumstances she’s okay I guess.”

“Is there anything I can do to help with dinner?”

“Let’s get to the kitchen and find out.”

They walked through the house to the kitchen, entering the room just as Liz stepped back inside. Before she could close the door, Lucky pushed through the opening and she made a grab for the dog.

“No, no, no,” she yelled. “Out! Damn it, Lucky,” she cursed at the dog when he flopped down on the floor and looked up at her, tongue hanging out of his mouth.

“Hey Lizzie,” Maria greeted her friend and hugged her.

“How’s it goin’, Maria?” Liz asked as she returned the hug.

Tess left them to grab Lucky’s collar and tug on it in an effort to get the stubborn animal up and out of the house while dinner was being prepared. She frowned at the face the dog was making as his nose twitched and his muzzle crinkled up. “Ungh, gross!” she yelped when he sneezed.

Liz laughed at Tess’ disgust. “Lucky, get out now!” She opened the door with her left hand and the dog ducked his head as he walked back outside.

“Oh my God... what did I do to deserve that? Where’s the antibacterial soap?”

“How about the bathroom, goofy!” Maria shook her head at Tess in amusement.

Liz bit her lip to keep from laughing when Tess ran out of the kitchen, muttering under her breath about dogs and how they were such useless, disgusting creatures. “I guess Tess has never had a dog?”

“No, I don’t think her and dogs will ever be great friends. I remember when she visited Andrew and me one summer: We were sitting out in the backyard in our garden and we were having a barbecue. Theo was still a puppy but almost as big as he is now and Tess was just eating some piece of meat when he jumped up and licked her and took the food from her fork before she could eat it.”

Liz laughed. “Dogs can be an annoyance as much as a comfort at times. We’ve had Lucky for seven years now and I can’t imagine not having that animal underfoot.” She shook her head and smiled. “I could live without him getting loose and chasing the neighbors’ cats... or Mrs. Barrows’ rabbits.” She rolled her eyes. “That old woman just loves to bitch about anything that disturbs her rabbits and Lucky’s made it his goal in life to make sure I have to hear from her at least once or twice every month.”

“Who the hell thinks rabbits are pets?” Tess asked when she joined the girls again.

“Not Mrs. Barrows, that’s for sure. She raises and sells them.” Liz glanced at her sister-in-law. “Feel better now?”

Tess grimaced. “No.”

Maria washed her hands and dried them before pulling out one of the stools at the island and sitting down. She pulled the cutting board closer to her and reached for the knife Tess had been using. “Are you ready for the boys’ game on Thursday?” she asked as she started cutting into a tomato.

Liz sighed. “I’m never fully ready to see one of my boys go out there on the field where they could easily get hurt, but I know I can’t do anything about it so yes, I’m ready.”

Maria nodded in agreement. “I have to admit, I’m so glad Andy’s never shown any interest in going out for football.”

“Table’s set, Mom,” Justin yelled from outside.

Liz sighed in exasperation. “Do they walk up to the door and just say, ‘Hey, Mom, table’s set’? No, they have to shout so that the entire neighborhood knows, and do you know why? Because their dad does the exact same thing... apparently walking a dozen feet or so to the back door and speaking at a level acceptable to the rest of civilized humanity is too much to ask.”

Tess and Maria exchanged a quick look after Liz’ little outburst. “When will Max he home again?”

“If everything goes right he’ll be home before five tomorrow afternoon.”

Maria nodded. That wasn’t too long, at least this time. “Did you hear that the Henderson family is leaving Roswell?”

Liz nodded. “Yeah, their little boy’s in my class and he’s not very happy about the sudden move.”

Tess watched her friend, interested in the new subject. “Are ya planning to have a look at it?”

“Well, I don’t know... maybe. Mom was pretty sure they’re putting it up for rent instead of selling it outright. If we like it, maybe buying at a later date could be an option. They have two small children, so the house is most likely a two bedroom and it probably has a decent-sized yard.”

“Did ya already tell Andy?”

“That it’s time for us to think about getting into our own place again? Yes.”

“What’d he say?” Liz asked as she washed her hands in the sink.

“He actually reacted much better than I expected.”

“He’s a good boy, Maria,” Tess said.

“I know. He’s just been having such a hard time here lately.”

Liz glanced at the two women in her kitchen. She was so glad they were all here in Roswell now. She needed some friends around.

“So, Tess, Kyle says you’ll be joining us for dinner on Sunday night... is that right?” Maria asked, grinning when Tess dropped the head of lettuce she had just picked up.

“Is that right?” Tess mocked in the same tone.

“Tess, are you keepin’ secrets, girl?” Liz teased.

“Nooo, I’m not. Kyle and I have a date, so what?”

“Oh, it’s a date now? I thought it was just dinner with the family?”

Tess rolled her eyes. “Shut up. Both of you.”

Maria smirked. “Um-hmm, somebody doesn’t wanna talk about it,” she said in a sing-song voice.

“There’s nothing to talk about, okay?”

They looked up when Nick and Andy came through the doorway, heading for the backyard. “Hey, Aunt Tess,” Andy said with a big grin. “Uncle Kyle’s real happy ‘bout that big date y’all got comin’ up.”

“Wow, so you’re goin’ out with Uncle Kyle now?” Nick asked, stopping so abruptly that Andy walked right into him.

Tess just groaned. “Get out, you two.”

“Hey, Justin,” Nick hollered as they opened the back door. “Uncle Kyle finally got Aunt Tess to go out with him!”

“Huh-uh,” Justin denied. “Seriously? Man, how weird would it be if they like, got married?” Anything else he had to say was cut off as the door slammed shut behind the boys.

“Marry him? God!” Tess shook her head.

“Hey, that’s my brother you’re talking about,” Maria grumbled and then ruined it by laughing.

“Technically, he’s not your real brother,” Tess denied.

“Technically,” Maria snorted.

“Alright girls, let’s get dinner outside.”

Tess grabbed a couple different bottles of dressing out of the refrigerator and followed Maria outside while Liz was pulling the roast out of the oven.

Just when she was about to leave the kitchen, the telephone started to ring. “Damn it,” she muttered and walked through the door. “Nick, answer the phone.”

Nick hurried back inside and snatched the phone up off of the cradle, lifting it to his ear. He leaned over the stove and snatched up a spoon, sticking it in the pot of homemade mashed potatoes. “H’lo?” he mumbled around the mouthful of food.

On the other end of the line Max bit back a smile. “What’s for dinner, Nick?” he asked, knowing the boy was digging into whatever Liz had made.

“Hey, Dad,” Nick greeted him. “Mashed potatoes. Mom made the real ones, not the fake ones outta the bag.”

“How was practice? Everything goin’ okay?”

“Yeah, it was good. Are you comin’ to see the game on Thursday?”

“Everything’s still runnin’ on schedule; I should be landing at 4pm tomorrow afternoon.”

“Cool.” The boy took another bite of the food and almost burned his mouth on it. “Ya wanna talk to Mom?” he mumbled.

Max shook his head. Once that boy got his hands on food he lost interest in everything else. “Yeah, put your mom on. Oh, and Nick?”

“Huh?”

“Make sure you guys don’t give your mom a hard time tomorrow. I know you don’t wanna put the monkey suits on and spend a couple hours at the dinner, but she needs our support. So, no arguments out of you two, got it?”

The boy groaned. “Okay, Dad.”

“Hey, you guys won’t be on your own... trust me, she’s had my suit cleaned and pressed too.”

“Uh-huh,” Nick opened the door to the backyard to yell for his Mom, but forgot to move the phone away from his ear.

“I think, I’m gonna go deaf...” Max groaned when Nick yelled into the mouthpiece.

“Sorry, Dad.”

Kara ran through the door ahead of their mom, grabbing Nick’s shirttail and tugging on it to get his attention. “Daddy? I talk to Daddy!”

Nick grinned and handed her the phone. “Don’t hang up on him like the last time, okay?”

She made a face at him as she shouted an enthusiastic greeting into the phone. “Hi, Daddy!”

Max grimaced at the high-pitched voice on the other end. “How’s my little girl?” he asked with a smile.

“We have dinner now.” She smiled up at Mommy when she moved behind her to get the potatoes that Nick was devouring. “When you’re comin’ home?”

“Tomorrow afternoon and then we’ll take Mommy out to her dinner, okay?”

“I picked out my clothes, Daddy. All by myself an’ Mommy said it was pretty.”

“What’ll you be wearin’?” He loved to talk to his family when he was away, even if he knew it wasn’t the same as being with them. The least he could do was to call once or twice a day to show them that he was thinking about them all day.

“S’the green one wif the ruffies. And Mommy’s gonna make the ribbon for my hair an’ I’ll be all pretty. Right, Mommy?”

Liz smiled and crouched down to hug her daughter. “That’s right. You’re gonna be the prettiest girl in the world.”

“See, Daddy? I’m the prettiest!”

“Yes, you are,” he said, smiling. “Can you give me Mommy?”

“Okay, Daddy, love you! Daddy wants to talk to you,” Kara said, still talking into the phone as she looked at Mommy.

“Love you too,” Max said quickly, hoping Kara had heard it.

“Daddy loves me,” Kara crowed proudly as she accepted the stack of napkins Nick put in her hands. She followed him outside, chattering about what she would be wearing the next day, completely oblivious to his lack of interest in the topic.

“Hey,” Liz greeted her husband softly. “How’re things going in Dallas?” All she could think was: Please don’t tell me you have to stay longer than expected.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

User avatar
Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 28

Post by Double Trouble » Sun May 09, 2010 7:34 am

Eva: We’ll see what happens.

Max definitely needs a turning point right now – it’s important now more than ever.

Earth2Mama: All three of these women need that girlfriend connection in their lives.

Max is trying to let his family know he cares even though things aren’t working quite the way everyone wishes they were right now. Tess isn’t interested in the family business, but she will be trying to help out. Max should think about it… we’ll see if he does.

Oh, Andy’s apology has yet to happen… we wouldn’t overlook that scene! ;)

That little girl just loves her daddy! Hopefully he’ll be able to reassure Liz that he’s coming home… on time. Max is feeling the pressure, lol.

begonia9508: Nope, not a lot of choice and he is alone with it, but that’s by his own choosing.

We’re gonna find out.

keepsmiling7: Thanks.

Ah, family business can often cause a lot of problems.

Natalie36: We hope so too!

mary mary: Andy’s much more relaxed when Uncle Max isn’t around. Us? Drop a bomb on our readers?

Alien_Friend: Hopefully Max will make it home in time.

Yep, it’s gonna take all of them working together to get through this!

sarammlover: Well, we’ll find out about Andy’s talk with the twins… in this next part! Having that closeness is important and these women need that in their lives.



Part 28

“Hey,” Liz greeted her husband softly. “How’re things going in Dallas?” All she could think was: Please don’t tell me you have to stay longer than expected.

“Ungh, as well as can be expected I guess. I’ll know more once I get the books back to Alex and he can take a look at them, but I’m not that impressed with the numbers a couple of the shops are bringin’ in.”

“Does that mean you have to stay longer than expected?”

“No, and actually I managed to squeeze in one of tomorrow’s meetings today, so I’ve just got the one left. If I can get it wrapped up any earlier tomorrow I’ll catch the noon flight.”

She smiled slightly. “That’d be great.”

“So, what’s for dinner besides mashed potatoes?” he asked, glancing at the unappetizing meal he had ordered from room service.

“Um, it’s just pot roast with mashed potatoes and gravy, mixed vegetables, salad, and rolls. Maria, Andy and Tess are also here for a visit.”

“Oh... really? You an’ Tess seem to be hangin’ out a lot,” he said, unsure how he felt about that.

Liz was well aware of the change of tone in his voice at the mention of his sister. “Well, she lives in Roswell now and it’s nice to have someone around, especially when you aren’t here.”

“So, you guys are getting along pretty well then, huh?”

“Yeah. She’s offered to help with the kids and they love her.”

He nodded even though she couldn’t see it. “Yeah, you’re right. And I’m glad you’ve got some help while I’m not there.”

“Did you already have dinner?”

“Well, I ordered somethin’ up from room service, but it’s not your cookin’.”

“I’ll save you a plate. I’m pretty sure you won’t like the fancy dinner tomorrow either, so you can eat something good when we get home.”

Mmmm, pot roast with mashed potatoes and gravy... yeah, that was so much better than hotel food. “Why do they always make weird food for these kinda events? It’s always stuff normal people don’t eat.”

“I couldn’t tell you.”

He chuckled and he stared at an uneven spot in the paint on the windowsill that he was picking at with his thumbnail. “I miss you, Liz,” he said quietly.

She bit her lip as she looked out of the window to the others. “I miss you too, Max.”

“I’m sorry ‘bout the way we... I left things last night.”

She didn’t want to talk about this on the phone. It would end in an argument and it was bad enough to argue when they were facing each other, but with hundreds of miles between them? “We can talk about it when you get back home, Max.”

He squeezed his eyes shut, blocking out the view of Dallas. How was he gonna make it right if she wouldn’t talk to him? He sighed and gave up on the stubborn paint spot. “I guess I should let you get back to the kids before they eat everything in sight.” He laughed but his heart wasn’t in it.

“Yeah... I should probably get back outside.” She sighed. “So, call me if anything changes okay?”

“Alright. I love you, Liz.”

“I love you too, Max. I’m looking forward to tomorrow night… after the dinner and after we’ve put the kids to bed.”

“Really?” Okay, he had to admit, he had pretty much expected that he’d still be in the guestroom after their last conversation.

“Yeah, our bed is just too big for one person alone.”

He smiled to himself. “Would be a shame to waste all that space.”

“Maybe I should ask Lucky to join me,” she teased.

“Well, you could,” he agreed, getting into her playful mood. “Of course, I make a much more satisfying bed partner... and I don’t shed everywhere.”

“Uh, Max, that’s gross.”

“What? The dog is covered in hair and he sheds, is that my fault?”

“I’m going now,” she told him with a laugh.

He loved the sound of her laughter. “I’ll call ya at bedtime, darlin’... just to find out what you’re wearin’.”

“Probably nothing. Bye-bye,” she said and hung up before he could reply.

Max tossed his phone on the dresser and turned to look at the meal waiting for him. “Nothin’,” he mused with a grin. “Can’t wait for that phone call.”

*****

Andy brought the last empty plates from dinner back into the kitchen and placed them on the counter. “Anything else you want me to do?” he asked Liz, Tess and his mom, who were already busy washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen.

“No, you can go outside and hang out with your cousins,” Maria told him.

He nodded, even if he had kinda hoped she would make him help them. He still needed to talk to the twins about his earlier behavior in school, but he didn’t really know how to bring it up.

Liz glanced at the clock. “Would ya mind if I leave you two alone for a few minutes? I have to get Kara ready for bed.”

“No, go ahead. Me and Maria will manage the kitchen,” Tess told her.

“Alright, thanks.” Liz followed Andy outside and called for her girl. “Kara, sweetie, come here. It’s time for you to get ready for bed.”

The little girl glanced up from where she was sitting at the table with the twins and she stuck her bottom lip out in a pout. “Don’t give me that face!” Liz told her, shaking her head.

Nick leaned in to tickle his little sister. “Dad said to be good, squirt.”

“I’m good,” she stated, her tone indignant.

Justin laughed at her and shifted closer so he could gently pinch her side. “You’d better go get ready for bed... you wanna be all rested and pretty for tomorrow night, don’tcha?”

Andy looked up from playing fetch with Lucky when Aunt Liz went back inside with Kara. “So... guess you guys are still pissed at me,” he muttered as he turned to glance at his cousins.

Justin and Nick exchanged a glance and shrugged. “Seemed like you were more pissed at us.”

“I’m not...” He scratched his head as he tried to put his thoughts together. “I don’t really know how to explain it... it just pisses me off when I hear people bitchin’ about how their dad won’t be home for a game or dinner like those things are gonna totally alter their lives.”

“Well, we’re used to Dad bein’ home most of the time, so him bein’ gone so much is something new for us.”

“I was used to my dad bein’ around too... maybe not all the time ‘cause he travelled a lot, but he was still my dad and now...” he swallowed hard, “and now he’s never comin’ home again.”

Justin ran his hands over his face. “We know... and we’re sorry. We really are. He was our uncle and even though it’s nothing compared to losing a dad, we miss him too.” Uncle Andrew had been a lot of fun and they’d always had a blast when they had all gotten together.

“I just wanted to tell you guys that I didn’t mean to be a total dick today.”

“Guess that means Sam caught up with you this afternoon,” Nick said.

Justin snorted with laughter as he swallowed a drink of juice and the next thing he knew he had juice coming out of his nose. “Shit,” he muttered, grabbing a handful of napkins and trying to clean himself up. His eyes were watering like crazy and he kicked his brother when he laughed at him.

Andy smirked as he glanced at the football lying in the grass not far away. “You guys up for a little game?”

“Yeah, let’s go,” Nick said, shoving Justin as he got to his feet.

“Watch out for Lucky, he’ll trip you up and steal the ball,” Justin warned as he brushed ineffectively at the damp spots all over the front of his shirt.

*****

On Wednesday morning Max was packing the last of his things into his bag when the news on the television caught his attention and he turned to look at it in disbelief. “No, no, no,” he muttered as he leaned over the bed to grab the remote off of the nightstand and turn the volume up.

“…all flights are grounded until further notice. Airline officials are holding out hope that they will resume normal operations by late this afternoon…”

He dropped down to sit on the bed, not even listening as the reporter droned on and on about the flight delays that were expected to last most of the day. He grabbed his phone and made a few calls, trying to determine what was going on while powering up his laptop and searching for the nearest airport other than the one he was scheduled to fly out of.

He finally called Alex when he noticed the time. He had intended to pack and take his things with him to his final meeting with the manager of one of the Dallas shops before heading for the airport, but he knew he was going to have to cancel. He was relieved when Alex picked up on the second ring.

“Alex, damn I’m glad you’re home,” he said, relieved.

“What’s up?”

“I’ve got a situation here… something’s goin’ on out at the airport and the planes have been grounded.” He looked around for the tie he had worn with his suit the day before and he placed it inside the garment bag. “I can’t find any other airports within reasonable distance that can get me back home in time for Liz’s dinner thing. I’m gonna have to cancel the meetin’ at the last shop; I’ve got the rental car so I think if I hit the road within the next half hour I should be able to make it.”

Alex had already pulled a map up on his computer and his right eyebrow lifted as he looked at the driving time. “About nine hours,” he mused as he glanced at the clock. “You’re gonna be cuttin’ it close. I’ll make the call to reschedule at another time; you just work on getting home by six.” He made a mental note to call the rental agency where Max had picked the car up to let them know he would be returning the car at the airport in Roswell.

“Thanks, Alex.” He grimaced. “I’d better go… got another phone call to make.” One that probably wasn’t going to go as well as this one, he thought. He hit the first number on his speed dial and glanced around to make sure he wasn’t missing anything as he gathered his bags together. He dropped the keycard on the dresser by the door on his way out, hurrying to the elevator and hitting the button with his elbow. “Damn it, Liz, answer the phone,” he muttered.

When it went to voicemail he just left a quick message asking her to call him back as soon as she checked her messages. He slid his phone into the case clipped to his belt and stepped out of the elevator, crossing the lobby and walking out into the early morning sunshine. He shook his head as his ears were quickly assaulted by the combined noise of nearby construction and the freeway that seemed to surround him on all sides. He slid his sunglasses on and wondered why anyone would willingly live in such a congested city.

He couldn’t wait to get back home where it was quiet and there was more landscape than blacktop, and where he could hear himself think. Now if he could just get his act together and work things out with his family he’d really be getting somewhere. The boys weren’t acting out yet, but their reaction to the business trips he had been taking concerned him. They hadn’t said much, but he could easily read the uncertainty in their silence each time he had told them that he had an upcoming trip.

Kara was more open because she hadn’t learned to hide her feelings and her reaction to this trip had been worse than it had been the last time. He opened the trunk and placed his bags inside as he remembered his daughter’s refusal to share her little art project with him. That had hurt and it had been a very blatant reminder that his behavior was hurting everyone he cared about. He had been so tempted to look at it when he had checked on her one last time before leaving the house for his trip, but she hadn’t wanted to show it to him and he would wait until she was ready.

He jumped when the sound of squealing brakes, blaring horns, metal and fiberglass grinding together, and glass shattering broke through all of the other noise surrounding him and he turned, right hand shading his eyes as he scanned the busy freeway that was already backing up due to the four, five… no, seven-car pile-up.

“Great,” he muttered when he saw that it was backing up past the exit he needed to take to get up on the freeway. He knew better than to tempt fate by asking what else could go wrong that morning, but really… grounded flights, gridlocked freeway, and time was running out on him. He slid in behind the steering wheel and started the engine, reaching for the onboard GPS navigational system when his phone rang.

He didn’t bother looking at the caller ID, recognizing the ringtone as the one assigned to his wife. He hit the speaker button and dropped the phone in the seat next to him as he fumbled with the GPS system. “G’mornin’, darlin’,” he greeted as he studied the alternate route the system was displaying.

“Good morning, Max,” Liz said and even though he could hear the smile in her voice he could hear the hesitation there as well. “Are you on your way to your last meeting?”

He winced, hoping she would take the news well. “Uh, not exactly, no.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Do you have a few minutes to talk?” he asked.

“Yes, what’s wrong, Max?”

“I had to cancel this morning’s meetin’.” He decided not to mention the fact that the freeway now resembled a parking lot. “The flights goin’ in and out of the airport here have been grounded so I’m leavin’ now and headin’ for home.” He bit his lip as he waited for her response.

“Are you driving?” Liz asked, knowing how long the trip would take.

“Yeah, it’s the only option I’ve got at this point and I’m pretty sure I can make it, Liz.”

She loved him for being willing to attempt it and she hoped he was right. “Just promise me you’ll be careful, Max. I know the traffic in Dallas is horrific and it’s a long drive; don’t push it if it starts getting too close. I want you to be here, but I don’t want you air-lifted here because of an accident. Tonight is not that important.”

“Liz, tonight is important to you and I’m gonna be there for you.” He pulled out of the hotel parking lot and turned onto the service road, driving to the first light and looping around under the overpass. Damn, he really hoped this navigational system was giving him the correct directions because he couldn’t afford to lose time getting lost.

“Have you had breakfast?”

“No, I’ll grab somethin’ on my way out of the city.”

“Don’t get anything greasy,” she reminded him. “You’ll just end up with an upset stomach if you drive after eating somethin’ like that.”

“Nothin’ greasy,” he promised. “Hey, do I need a suit and tie for tonight?”

“Yeah, and I’ve already had your best suit and the boys’ suits in for dry-cleaning. I’ve got all of them in our closet along with Kara’s outfit for tonight.”

“Worried that the boys will find a way to get them dirty before they’re supposed to put them on?” he asked, knowing how much the boys hated getting dressed up. He laughed at his wife’s exasperated sigh and he quickly reached out to grab the phone as he slammed on the brakes when someone jumped across three lanes and cut him off.

“I know they hate things like tonight’s dinner and I’m not giving them a single reason to get out of it.”

“Don’t worry, Liz; we’ll all be there and you won’t be disappointed.”

“Alright, well, I need to get to the school, so gimme a call around lunchtime to let me know how you’re doing, okay?”

“I’ll talk to ya ‘round noon, darlin’. Be careful goin’ in to work and I love you.”

“Love you too, Max. Be safe drivin’ home. I’d rather you get here late and in one piece than not at all, understand?”

He smiled at the normal conversation. “Understood, Mrs. Evans. I’ll call you at noon.” He hung up feeling better about things than he had just half an hour earlier.

*****

Maria glanced at her watch. It was shortly after 1pm, but she had done her best to be at the restaurant in time. Tess had called her earlier, just as she had stepped out of the shower, still dripping wet.

“Maria,” Tess had said into the phone, her voice high-pitched with excitement, “we need to have an emergency meeting for lunch!”

“Lunch? But it’s already time for lunch, Tess,” Maria had answered.

“I know, but it’s somethin’ important. C’mon over to the little restaurant on the opposite side of my hotel, okay? I’ll wait for ya there.” Her friend had hung up the phone before she had been able to say anything.

And now here she was with messy, still a little damp hair to meet Tess. She opened the swinging door to the restaurant and glanced around.

“Over here,” Tess called from a booth at the end of the room and waved excitedly.

“What’s wrong?” Maria asked, worried as she approached her.

“Wrong?” Tess frowned before it hit her. “Oh, no, girl! Did ya think something was wrong? Everything’s okay, there’s just something we need to talk about.”

Maria lifted one eyebrow as she sat down. “And this couldn’t wait until I had done my hair?” She gestured to her blonde mane.

“No, we have to make a quick decision!” Tess told her and opened up a folder in front of her.

“About what?”

“About our business plans.”

“But I told you I need some time to think about it, Tess,” Maria told her friend slowly.

“Yeah, I know. Problem is, the realtor called me earlier today and said there’s another interested party who wants to rent the apartment under mine for his business. He’s even willing to pay more than the asking price to get it.”

Maria grimaced. “How much more?” Not that money really was the problem.

Tess waved her off. “Doesn’t matter. The realtor told me that we still have the prior claim ‘cause I reserved the place for us. The problem is, he needs our decision today, girl!”

“TODAY?” Maria asked. She winced. Now she was the one sounding high-pitched. She tried to relax when the waitress stopped by and took her order. “I’ll just take the salad of the day.” She waited until the woman was gone before she faced Tess again. “Today?” Maria asked, a little calmer now.

“Yeah. I know it’s kinda fast, but Maria…” she turned the open folder in front of her so her friend could look at the papers, “I’ve thought about this a lot the last couple of days. Here’s the floor plan. I thought this area here could be where we have the hair cutting area.” Her index finger wandered over the paper in front of them. “And here,” Tess pointed to a little room, kind of separated from the others, “could be the cosmetics area. I’ve checked out every hairdresser in Roswell,” she grinned. “I went on a scouting mission yesterday. They all seem kinda boring and frumpy. We could definitely get the younger woman into our beauty shop.”

“But we haven’t even calculated the whole idea, Tess. It was just an idea for the moment and we should really find out what all the equipment will cost us and…”

Tess held up a hand and flipped to a new page. “I’ve already done that. I called a lot of suppliers and I’ve already calculated and recalculated everything. And I’ve got a friend back in Cali who owns a few businesses of his own and he can help us with this stuff.”

Maria sighed, still uncertain.

“Come on girl, I know ya don’t have any problems with money. To be honest, ya know ya won’t be financially ruined if this doesn’t work, which it will. So this isn’t really an existence-threatening thing for us. We HAVE TO try.”

“I’m not really worried about the money, Tess…” Maria admitted.

“It’s Andy, right?”

Maria nodded. “He didn’t react all that well the last time we talked about me working again.”

“But he’s making progress, Maria.”

“True. But what if it just drives us apart again? I just told him about the idea of us moving to our own place. I don’t know how he’ll react to this news.”

“But you want this right? And he has to learn that you need a new outlook in your life. Maybe he’s still worried and scared about changes, but YOU have to show him that changes are necessary and that no matter what happens in the future, he is still your son and you love him.”

Maria smiled a little. “You sure you don’t wanna be a psychologist instead of a hairdresser?”

Tess grinned. “Sometimes a hairdresser can be also a psychologist for frustrated people. So, what do you say? Take a risk with me?”

Maria chewed on her bottom lip as she stared at the table and thought about it again. Maybe Tess was right. What would she do if Andy always said no to this idea just because he didn’t like it or didn’t want change? She was his mother; he needed her to make the decisions for the family, not the other way around. Maybe he wouldn’t understand it first, maybe he would be mad at her, but in the end… If she was happy, maybe he could be as well?

“Okay,” she finally said and winced when Tess shouted for joy. “But promise me we’ll take this slow. I don’t wanna hit Andy with moving and starting the business all at once. I want to spend time with him, if he lets me, and I won’t be able to if we start rushing things now.”

Tess nodded. “We can meet now and then while he’s in school to get everything planned out. I can handle most of the organization since I don’t have a family to work around.”

Maria smirked. “Bet Kyle’s gonna try to distract you.”

“Hopefully,” the curly blonde said with a wink. “And he can help us with this as well. So, don’t worry, we can take our time with it. There’s no rush beyond making the decision to go ahead with the business. And I was planning to help Liz and my brother a little anyway…”

“Liz isn’t doing so good, huh? She looked pale yesterday at dinner.”

“Yeah,” Tess shook her head sadly, “I really need to talk to Max. This whole travelling and not talking to his wife can’t continue. If it does, I’m gonna kick his ass.”

Maria nodded. “Ya know, I feel really stupid now. When I came here, I thought I was the one with the biggest fucked up life. I never would’ve expected Liz and Max to have these huge problems… They always seemed soooo… You know, indestructible. It really shocks me to see them falling apart like this.”

“I know. But we’re gonna change this. We have to help them. I just have to figure out how.”

They talked for a while longer, lingering over coffee until Maria received a call from the realtor she had been dealing with as she considered different houses in the area.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult)Part 29 - 5/16/10

Post by Double Trouble » Sun May 16, 2010 8:52 am

Earth2Mama: Lol, there’s nothing quite like gridlock! Oh, you know Max is gonna push it because he promised he’d be there and he doesn’t intend for anything to stand in his way.

Keep your fingers crossed that Andy doesn’t react badly when he finds out. Hopefully all the work Counselor Guerin’s been doing has made a difference and his reaction isn’t as bad as it would have been a while back.

Those are definitely some serious forces to combine, lol!

mary mary: You are just soooo suspicious of our motives, lol! Well, guess we’ll see what you’ve got to say after this next chapter. Until then we’ll hide from objects that might be hurled at us.

begonia9508: Thanks! Small steps, but each one is so important at this stage.

Maria and Tess both need something to do and working together will provide them with not only jobs, but security, friendship and support.

Alien_Friend: Tess is right! And Maria just needed a little bit of a nudge from her friend and sister-in-law to get her going.

He did well. And thankfully accepted gracefully and then let it go.

No, Max is having horrible luck here lately. He has a big ol’ heart and he’s trying so hard to get things back on track with his family and the love of his life. He and Liz have a very strong bond and while there are cracks in their relationship, it’s still holding them together.

We think you’ll enjoy what we’ve cooked up for this next chapter. 

keepsmiling7: We are seeing some small progresses on several fronts. We’re pretty sure Liz appreciates the effort Max is making to keep his promise.

sarammlover: Yup, it’s a looong drive! Max will do everything in his power to make it home in time to keep his promise. He knows how important this is.

Eva: Someone needs to hunt Murphy down and put him out of commission! Max will do everything humanly possible to keep that promise!

Hopefully, he’ll remember.


Part 29

Maria stepped into the gymnasium and walked around in front of the old wooden bleachers that had been pulled out from the wall so that the few observers could sit and watch the practice game. She smiled and nodded at a couple of the people she recognized as she settled down near the end on the row farthest from the action on the court.

She heard someone blow a whistle and she turned her head to follow the sound, surprised to see her son waving his hands and calling out directions. A moment later several of the players on the court switched with players who had been sitting on the bench, the whistle was blown again, and play resumed. She watched as Andy ran back and forth from his position at the sidelines, making calls and on occasion consulting with the man standing on the opposite side.

Her gaze slid over to Michael Guerin as Andy pointed something out on the clipboard he held. He waited until he received a nod of approval and allowed the man to pat him on the back as he ran back to his own side of the court. Despite her best intentions she couldn’t help but notice that the counselor was an attractive man and there was a part of her that wondered if it would be so wrong to encourage his interest.

He had been working with her son for a while now and his methods were obviously working because while Andy still had days where he seemed to hate the world at large, she could see the positive changes in him. She looked back at Andy and smiled at the look of happiness on his face as he refereed the game. It seemed as if the guys on the team had accepted him in his role assisting the coach because as practice started to wind down they started playing around on the court, goofing off and trying to get him to come out and join them.

She sighed when one of the boys tossed the basketball to him and motioned for him to join them and his expression became wistful as he stared out at the court. She saw him shake his head after a few moments and his hands held onto the ball tightly for a moment longer before he bounced it back out to the other guy. She knew he wanted to play, knew how much he loved the game, but he had never gone out for the team back at his old school because his father hadn’t considered it a ‘real’ sport.

Andrew had never been the type of man to hold his son back or belittle him, but he’d had a habit of expressing his opinion about things in a way that had made the boy think twice about trying out for basketball. His criticisms of certain things had made Andy hold back in that area because the one thing he had never wanted to do was disappoint his dad. She glanced up and caught Michael watching the boys, his gaze focused on Andy, but at the same time not singling him out.

After about ten minutes of letting the boys horse around he blew the whistle and sent them all to the locker room. He and Andy gathered up the equipment and placed it on the racks waiting nearby and he nudged the boy when they were finished, letting him know his mother was in the stands.

Andy glanced around to make sure none of the guys were looking before he quickly made his way over to his mom. “Uh, Mom, what’re you doin’ here?”

“I came by to pick you up – “

“You can’t just show up to practice to pick me up like I’m in the third grade, Mom!” he hissed in embarrassment.

“I came by to pick you up so we could go look at a house.” She controlled the urge to smile when her only child looked like he was about to die of terminal humiliation. “I’d like to have your opinion of it before I make any decisions.”

“Oh, well…” he straightened up. That was completely different. “Alright, well, I’ll just let the guys know that I won’t be goin’ out for a burger and fries with ‘em after practice. Since you need my help and all.”

She bit the inside of her cheek. “I’d appreciate that,” she said sincerely. He was trying so hard to be a man even though he was only 15 years old.

“Okay, I’ll be ready in about 15 minutes if that’s cool.”

She waved him away and watched him as he ran across the court, pausing to talk to his counselor before heading through the doors to go to the locker room. Her stomach started to flutter nervously when the man glanced around and she followed his gaze, noting the otherwise empty bleachers. Where had everyone gone so quickly?

“So, you guys are gonna go look at a house, huh?” he asked as he approached her, basketball bouncing against the floor in time with his steps.

“Um, yes… the realtor called earlier and I didn’t wanna miss the chance to take a look at it before she had a list of people with appointments.”

He nodded and leaned against the bleachers next to her and he held the basketball between his forearm and side. “Your son has a lot of athletic ability out here but other than showin’ the guys different plays and positions I can’t get him on the court.”

“Andrew… his father… he wasn’t a big fan of basketball.”

Michael grinned. “Not a ‘real’ sport?”

“How did you know?” she asked, surprised.

“It’s not a contact sport like football or hockey and a lot of guys don’t care for it for that reason.”

She shrugged one shoulder. “He never told Andy he couldn’t play,” she said, feeling the need to defend her husband since he couldn’t defend himself. She sighed when he quirked an eyebrow at her. “That came out a little too defensive, didn’t it? Sorry.”

He shook his head. “Not a problem. It’s just a shame to see a kid who obviously loves the game and has potential but he won’t get out there because he feels like he’d be disappointing his dad.”

“I don’t know how to help him with that,” she admitted quietly.

“Ah, don’t worry about it,” he said with a reassuring smile. “One step at a time.” He reached out and let his hand cover hers where it was gripping the edge of the bleacher. “Good call, comin’ by to get him to go take a look at the house. Also good cover story for Mom comin’ to pick him up from practice,” he said with a wink. “No 15-year-old wants a ride home from practice from his mommy; especially not when all the guys are expectin’ him to stop by the local teen hangout to chow down on junk food and listen to music.”

She smiled and fought down the urge to turn her hand over under his just to see what his calloused palm would feel like against her softer one.

“You know, most of the guys will probably still be over at the café when you’re done lookin’ at the house. You could drop Andy off over there and let me buy you a cup of coffee.”

“I love my son but the thought of hanging out with a bunch of teenagers really doesn’t do anything for me,” she said, deliberately misunderstanding his offer.

Michael frowned and shook his head. “What? No! No, I didn’t mean…” He grinned at the slightest hint of teasing in her gorgeous green eyes. “Okay, you got me with that one,” he chuckled. “I’d love it if you’d let me buy you a cup of coffee though, Maria.”

“No. Thank you, but, no.”

“Well, maybe next time.” He glanced at her. “If you don’t mind me askin’ again?”

Maria bit her lip as she stared into his dark eyes, feeling something tug at her that she hadn’t felt in way too long. “Well,” she rasped and then cleared her throat. “Well, it certainly never hurts to ask, does it?”

He grinned and patted her hand as he took a step back. “No, it certainly doesn’t. So, until next time, Maria.”

“Until next time, Michael,” she said softly, unaware that he had heard her.

Andy ran out through the doors that led back to the locker rooms, high-fiving Michael as he took off in his mom’s direction. “Later, Mr. G!” he shouted over his shoulder. “Let’s go, Mom!”

Michael stood back and watched them leave together, smiling when Andy did his best to rush his mom out of the gym before the rest of the guys came out.

*****

Liz parked in the driveway and was just getting out of the car when she heard the twins’ voices and she turned around to see the two of them dragging Lucky across the street with cranky old Mrs. Barrows following them, her crooked, skeletal forefinger pointed at them and shaking up and down in time with her words. She sighed when she heard the woman’s nasally voice issuing chastisements at her two oldest children and as soon as they stepped up into the yard she cleared her throat to get their attention.

“Mrs. Evans, I have asked you and your husband repeatedly to have this nuisance taken care of,” Mrs. Barrows started.

“He wasn’t even chasin’ her stupid rabbits, Mom,” Justin denied.

Nick nodded. “Lucky just treed some stray cat and she came out an’ started yellin’ at us.”

The old woman forcefully tapped the end of her cane against Nick’s leg and Liz leaned over to grab the cane.

“Do not touch my children, Mrs. Barrows.” She turned to look at the boys. “Put Lucky in the yard and get inside. Now.” They exchanged a quick look and hurried to do as she had said. “I realize my dog is a nuisance and I have multiple citations that we’ve paid in response to your complaints.” Normally Liz would’ve just apologized and let it go, knowing that the crabby old woman used the dog as an excuse to stir things up, but she was exhausted, her conversation with Max at lunchtime had ended when the battery on his cell phone had died, the boys obviously weren’t even close to being ready to go, and she felt like she was at the end of her rope.

“As I’ve said, Mrs. Evans, your dog – “

“Is a nuisance, yes, I know. And perhaps if you wouldn’t open your back gate when you see that my nuisance of a dog is loose he wouldn’t come into your yard and bark at your rabbits. You instigate these situations just to do it and I’ve bitten my tongue on more than one occasion because I think you’re just lonely and you enjoy bitching about things… and fine, if that’s what makes you happy, bitch away! But find something new to bitch about!”

“Well, I never!” the old woman exclaimed.

Liz just looked at the woman. “I don’t have time for this tonight. So just call it in, have another citation issued, whatever you’re gonna do, just do it.”

Mrs. Barrows harrumphed and pulled her cane free of Liz’ grasp so she could make her way back across the street and several houses down.

Liz stalked up the walkway to the front door, going inside and just barely stopping herself from slamming the door behind her. She followed the commotion inside to the kitchen and stopped in the doorway when the guilty culprits all suddenly froze in place. Any other day she would’ve seen the humor in both teenage boys wrestling to get Lucky back out of the house, but the muddy paw prints and shoeprints tracked across the floor she had mopped the night before lacked a single hint of humor at the moment. Mud on the floor meant that they had gone off chasing the dog and left the garden hose running, forming a nice big mud puddle right behind the house and the first thing the damn dog had done upon being turned loose in the yard was start digging in it. Kara had obviously opened the back door to see what was going on, which had alerted Lucky that the door was open, and the dog had probably knocked her over trying to get in the house.

Sam was in the mix as well and she had lifted Kara up to stand on one of the kitchen chairs to get her out of the way and to check her over to make sure she was alright. Liz felt like she was going to lose it at any moment but she managed to hold it together as she crossed the room and checked her daughter over. “Thank you,” she said to the teenage girl waiting silently next to the table as the boys finally dragged the uncooperative dog back outside.

Sam nodded. “Um, hey, Mrs. Evans,” she greeted with a tentative smile. She had a feeling the guys were in serious trouble and it was time to vacate the premises. “I was just on my way home but Lucky got out and well…”

“I appreciate your help, Sam.”

“Okay, well, I’ve gotta get home for dinner so you can just tell the guys I’ll talk to them later.” She hurried to grab her backpack and jacket, making her escape before the twins made it back inside.

“Mommy mad?” Kara asked, tipping her head to one side as she studied Mommy’s expression.

“No, sweetie,” Liz denied. She was just tired, worn out, frustrated with the situation, and ready to go outside and just start screaming until she felt better. She looked up when the boys came back inside, sighing when she saw the muddy splotches on their clothes and the muddy footprints being tracked over the floor again.

“Um… we’re gonna go get ready, Mom,” Nick said, feeling like a jerk when he saw the look on her face.

Justin nodded as he leaned over to unlace his tennis shoes. “Yeah, an’ it won’t take us that long.”

“No, you boys just clean this mess up, clean yourselves up, and then I want you to make something for dinner for the three of you.”

“Oh, but… um…” Justin looked at his brother and when Nick didn’t say anything he shoved his elbow in his ribs.

“Right, um… we can get ready really quick, Mom.”

Liz looked at the mess in the kitchen and then at her children and she shook her head and forced a smile. “No, do what I said and then get Kara ready for bed and do your homework. Your dad will be home before long and I need to be there early to help with the last-minute preparations.”

“Well, alright,” Nick said as he glanced around at the mess they had made. “Sorry, Mom,” he mumbled as he leaned in to give her a one-armed hug so he wouldn’t get any mud on her.

“Don’t worry about it, sweetie.”

“So, Dad’s not gonna be home?” Justin asked.

“Your dad was runnin’ behind schedule when I talked to him earlier this afternoon, but he will be home tonight.” She picked Kara up and set her on the floor. “Upstairs, young lady, let’s go.” She glanced at the clock over the stove and calculated how much time she had to get ready. The dinner would start in just a little over two hours and if she hurried she could be there with just enough time to help finish getting things ready.

“We can get Kara cleaned up, Mom,” Justin offered as he grabbed his muddy shoes and followed the little girl up the stairs.

Nick grabbed the mop and a bucket so he could start cleaning up the mess all over the floor. “Yeah, we got this, Mom. You should just get ready so you’re not late or anything.”

“Alright, you guys make sure you eat something good. Please don’t just make a sandwich or throw a frozen pizza in the oven.”

He grinned and gave her a sloppy salute, happy to see the small smile that graced her features at his actions.

*****

Andy wandered around the Henderson’s house while his mom talked to the realtor about rent, a possible option to buy at a later date, and some other stuff he wasn’t interested in. He had known the people were moving out pretty fast but he had expected to be tripping over their stuff while trying to look at the place. Mom had told him she thought it might be a two-bedroom, but it was actually bigger; three bedrooms, two bathrooms, living and dining rooms, laundry room, and a huge kitchen that she had flipped over. She loved to cook and they used to all hang out in the kitchen when Dad was home; she’d be making dinner and Dad would be teasing her about something while he just hung out and read his comics or played some handheld video game until one of them would pull him into the conversation.

He walked over to the patio doors that opened up onto the large deck at the back of the house and he opened them up, pulling them towards him and stepping outside. It was a nice deck, big enough for family get-togethers and barbecues, and the yard was more than large enough for Theo. The backyard was enclosed by a privacy fence but he could easily detect half a dozen boards that needed to be replaced.

“So, whatcha think, Andy?” Maria asked as she joined her son out on the deck.

Andy turned to look at his mom before pointing at the fence. “Gotta replace some of those boards.”

She nodded and waited patiently for his next comment.

“I kinda like that the third bedroom is on the second floor and it has its own bathroom. Kinda gives a guy some privacy, ya know?”

She had been surprised to learn that the bedroom on the second floor wasn’t the master bedroom, but the realtor had informed her that the original owners had created the floor plan with the master bedroom on the first floor along with a smaller bedroom that would serve as a nursery. The couple had designed the bedroom on the second floor as a guestroom and she could see how Andy had immediately taken a liking to it.

“So, would you let me have the second floor to myself?” he asked.

Maria nodded. “I don’t see any problems with that.”

“Cool.” He looked around. “It’s a lot more room than we’ve got over at Grandma an’ Grandpa’s house. How would we get all of our furniture and stuff here?”

“Well, thanks to your Uncle Kyle everything’s packed and in storage; all we’ll need to do is arrange for a moving company to load everything up and drive it out here.”

“Guess we wouldn’t be all moved in by my birthday, huh?”

“No, I’m sorry, honey. It’ll take a little time to get everything arranged. But it won’t be long after your birthday.” She bit her lip as she debated whether or not to bring up the possibility of having his party with Kyle’s.

He shrugged. “It’s cool, Mom. I don’t really care ‘bout my birthday anyway.”

“Would you be interested in maybe spending your birthday with family, Uncle Kyle, and some of his friends?”

“His friends… like my counselor? Ungh, Mom! I heard the principal’s friends with him and Uncle Kyle too! Do you have any idea how embarrassing that would be? Monday mornin’ would roll around an’ the guys at school would all be talkin’ about what they did… I’ll be like, ‘hey, what’d you guys do?’ and they’ll say, ‘oh, we went to a football game’ or ‘we went to some really cool rock concert’. And then they’re gonna be like, ‘what’d you do, Andy?’ and my answer? I’m gonna be all, ‘oh, me? I hung out with the principal and my counselor for my birthday party.’ I’ll be the laughing stock of the entire school, Mom!”

“I’m sure I can imagine,” she admitted, doing her best not to laugh at his dramatic verbal enactment of the great humiliation. She probably wouldn’t have agreed to do that either at his age. “Well, would you at least be willing to go over there for a bit for Uncle Kyle? From what I understand you’d know everyone there.”

“You know it’d be totally uncool don’t you?”

“I’m not sure that’s a word, but I understand what you’re saying, yes.”

“It’s just gonna be a lot of old people, Mom,” he complained. “People who’re like, ya know, your age.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Thanks, honey, remind me to repay that compliment someday.”

“Well, I guess we can go for Uncle Kyle, but I’m not wearin’ any stupid party hats or blowin’ out any candles an’ singin’ Happy Birthday or anything else that’s completely embarrassing.”

She smiled and nodded. “Alright then, no stupid hats or singing songs,” she agreed.

“Okay then. I’m gonna go back upstairs and make sure all my stuff’ll fit in my new room.”

Maria watched him run back inside and she waited a few moments before going in to find the realtor and let her know that they were definitely interested in the house.

*****

Max glanced at the clock on the dashboard of his truck as he threw it into gear in the driveway and jumped out to run up to the front door. He had 45 minutes to grab a shower, get dressed, and get over to the banquet hall where the dinner was being held. He had stopped at the airport to drop the rental off since it was on the way and it would save them the return trip the next day. He had noticed that Liz’s car wasn’t in the driveway so he was surprised when he stepped inside and heard the television blaring loudly in the living room.

He peered around the doorframe and his eyes widened in surprise when he saw the kids laying on various pieces of furniture around the room, their eyes locked on the movie they were watching. He frowned at the bag of chips on the coffee table and the pile of school books lying ignored on the floor over by the fireplace.

“Why aren’t you guys with your mom?” he asked as he stepped into the room. Within seconds he had three kids telling the same story and doing their best to talk over each other as they shared their individual versions. “Okay, okay, okay, hold it down!” he said loudly as he held his hands up for silence. “Nick, and only Nick, what’s goin’ on?”

“Mom said we could just stay home ‘cause when she got here we were chasin’ Lucky, Mrs. Barrows was arguin’ with Mom, me an’ Justin an’ Lucky were all muddy – “

“Me too!” Kara shouted.

“Yeah, the squirt was too ‘cause Lucky kinda ran her over when he came in the house. Course, then he got mud all over the kitchen… anyway, Mom said for us to just get everything cleaned up, make somethin’ to eat, do homework, an’ she’d just go by herself.” He shrugged. “Well, we got the kitchen clean an’ we’re all clean, we just didn’t get the rest of it done. Yet.”

Max sighed. “Alright, you guys, we’ve got half an hour to get this done. Nick, Justin, get your suits out of the closet in my room and I don’t wanna hear one complaint out of either of you. Get dressed and do not get anything on your clothes, you hear me?”

“Got it, Dad.”

“Go.” He crouched down in front of his little girl and he smiled when she jumped into his arms and hugged him tightly. “I think I was supposed to have a date with the prettiest girl in the world tonight, wasn’t I?”

“Wif me, Daddy,” she said, nodding against his shoulder.

“Well, I can’t take my princess out in her pajamas now can I?”

“Who’s do my hair?” She reached up to pat his cheek. “You do the ribbon ugly, Daddy.”

She was right about that; he seemed to be all thumbs when it came to tying ribbons in his little girl’s hair. “Let Daddy figure that out, princess. For now, let’s just get you in that pretty little dress so I can grab a quick shower and get ready too.”

“Otay.” She ran out of the room ahead of him and seconds later he could hear her pounding up the stairs, shouting for Nicky to help her get her dress.

He glanced at the clock on the mantel over the fireplace and he hurried to run up the stairs as well, joining the kids as they dug through the closet to get their outfits for the evening. Exactly 25 minutes later he was crouching down in front of Kara as he motioned for her to turn around so he could finish brushing her hair.

“It’s not gonna be pretty, Daddy,” she complained and he could hear the pout even if he couldn’t see it.

Max smiled as he reached for the small bag he had carried back with him from Dallas and he carefully unwrapped it from the soft tissue that had been placed around it to keep it from being damaged during his trip. He had seen it in a store when he had been downtown the day before and he had known it would go perfectly with the little dress she was wearing for the dinner. He held the small tiara comb in the palm of his hand and called her name softly.

Kara turned around and the pout froze on her face as she saw what Daddy held and she reached out to reverently trace her small fingers over the heart design. It was silver with tiny emerald glass stones and a little heart-shaped crystal pendant in the center and he smiled when her face lit up with a smile of pure happiness. “It’s pretty,” she whispered as she looked up at him. “For me?”

“All for you, princess.” He motioned for her to take a step closer and he carefully placed it in her hair, shifting it this way and that way before he was satisfied that it was on straight. He stood and picked her up, walking over to the mirror over the dresser so she could see how it looked. “Whatcha think?”

“Dad, I can’t get this stupid tie on straight,” Justin muttered as he walked into his parents’ bedroom. “Why can’t we just use those clip-on kinda ties?”

“Because your mom thinks they’re tacky. It could be worse, she could’ve made you wear a bowtie.” He rolled his eyes. “Be glad you’re not me.”

“Hey, look at you,” the boy said as he looked at his sister. “Fancy gear, baby girl.”

She shook her head at him. “I’m pretty.”

“Yes, you are.”

“Head up, Justin,” Max said as he untied the tie the boy had mangled in his attempts to put it on correctly. He fixed the tie and straightened it before folding his white shirt collar over and patting it into place. “Lookin’ good, kid.” He smiled and slapped his shoulder as he motioned to the door. “Get my keys and you guys get in the truck; make sure Kara’s strapped in her car seat and don’t turn the stereo up so loud I can feel the bass when I come through the front door.”

“You’re no fun, Dad.”

“Deal with it. Go, I need to finish getting ready.” He stood in front of the mirror, critically eyeing his appearance as he flipped his collar up to put the stupid bowtie on. He hated them but Liz just loved the way he looked on the rare occasion that he put the monkey suit on and he didn’t have the heart to disappoint her. He adjusted it and fixed his collar before checking his appearance once more and deciding that he looked about as good as he was going to for the night. Just before leaving his bedroom he pulled his top bureau drawer open and lifted out the rectangular box that held the elegant watch Liz had given him last Christmas. He didn’t really get a lot of chances to wear it unless they were going to some school function or they were going out on a date… something they hadn’t done in way too long.

He placed the watch around his wrist and snapped the clasp into place before shaking his arm out and feeling the band settle against his wrist comfortably. He glanced at the watch, noting the time, and hurried downstairs to set the alarm and run out the front door.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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Part 30

Post by Double Trouble » Sun May 23, 2010 6:53 am

Eva: Liz is in for a big surprise!

The house is just one step closer to being able to move forward.

Earth2Mama: Well, we’ll get to that reaction here pretty soon. 

Andy is definitely having visions of his teenage bachelor pad, lol.

mary mary: See? ;) Max certainly picked out a sweet gift for his little girl.

Alien_Friend: Yes, he did! Liz will be very happy.  Max is great with his kids. It would be a nice break for the two of them to have a date night… we’ll see!

Slowly, but surely, Andy’s making progress and letting some of his anger go. Look for other Michael and Maria moments to come.

Natalie36: Yup, we think you’re right!

keepsmiling7: He’s definitely coming around! You can back away from the edge now, lol… here’s the next part!

begonia9508: Oh, she’s gonna be very happy. Poor Lucky… he’s just got a bad reputation, lol. Yep, they made the mess, they should clean it up. You make a very good point about dads, lol.

sarammlover: Oh, you know she is! He’s trying hard and hopefully he’ll see how much of a difference it makes for his family. Andy’s doing well… “go Michael!!!” indeed, lol! He’s still got some hurdles to jump, but he’s already doing much better.

guelbebek: Oh, we’ll get Liz’s reaction in this next part. You’re right… someday Maria will say yes… we’re all waiting for that day! Lol, yes, that teenage attitude is definitely showing itself, isn’t it?


Part 30

Andy was scanning through the available stations that came in clear as they drove through Roswell and he frowned at the limited selection. “You’ve gotta get that satellite radio, Mom,” he complained. “I’m gonna be learnin’ to drive soon an’ you can’t expect me to suffer with the stations they have here. At least join the 21st century and put in a CD player.”

Maria smiled at his annoyance with the lack of up-to-date musical technology in her car. There was a brand new stereo system packed in one of the boxes from the garage in Miami. Andrew had bought it, intending to put it in on his next free weekend after the camping trip and she had never been able to bring herself to have it installed afterwards. There were certain options they had never purchased when buying new cars because the cost was ridiculous and he could install the equipment himself for a fraction of the price.

“Ya know, we can go buy a new sound system for the car and I can put it in. I helped Dad put that one in his car before…” he bit his lip, mentally kicking himself for bringing the subject up. He and Dad had spent an entire afternoon the weekend before their trip installing the new system so they could crank it up during the drive up to the Everglades.

“Andy, I know it’s difficult to talk about your dad, but it’s okay if you do.” She smiled sadly. “It’ll help both of us to remember the good times.”

He rubbed the side of his tennis shoe across the floorboard. “Hey, Mom?”

“What is it, honey?”

He picked at a spot on the front of his tee shirt. “I know you didn’t like it that Dad traveled so much and you guys kinda argued about it sometimes, but… was it causin’ problems for you guys?”

Maria swallowed hard when her son voiced his question. “Why do you ask?” She pulled over and parked next to the city park, wanting to give him her undivided attention.

“It’s just…” his foot rubbed across the floorboard again. “I kinda got into it with Nick an’ Justin the other day ‘cause they were goin’ on about Uncle Max not bein’ there for some dinner thing or somethin’.” He shrugged. “I went off on ‘em ‘cause it’s not like he’s not comin’ home again, he’s just out traveling. I mean, I apologized an’ stuff when we were over for dinner, but I was watchin’ ‘em, ya know? Aunt Liz, the twins, even Kara… it’s like they’re not…” he rolled his eyes. “I don’t know, it’s like they’re not complete without him there. Does that sound stupid?”

“No, not at all.”

He crossed his arms over his chest as he slouched down in the seat. “I remember that feelin’ sometimes. How it’d feel when he was gone so much an’ how sometimes you seemed sad and other times it seemed like you were kinda mad about it. Nick told me while Justin was in the house for a drink that they’re kinda scared their parents are gonna get a divorce ‘cause they’ve been havin’ a lot of problems an’ now Uncle Max is travelin’ all the time and it’s just makin’ things worse.” He shrugged. “Anyway, it just made me wonder if things were that bad with you an’ Dad and if you’d ever thought you might get a divorce.”

“Andy, your dad and I had a lot of disagreements over his decision to do so much traveling but we never talked about divorce.” Yes, she had considered a trial separation a couple of times in the hopes that it would make Andrew see that the distance he was putting between them was hurting them as a couple and as a family. She had talked about it with him when he had refused to see a marriage counselor and they had fought about it the night before he had left with Max and the boys for that week in the Everglades.

They had both lain awake most of the night, staring at the walls, the ceiling, and anything else except each other. Just before dawn Andrew had come up on his right elbow and reached out to cup her cheek in his lightly-calloused hand and he had given her that crooked grin that made his amber eyes crinkle at the corners.

“Look, if you think it’s gonna make a difference, we’ll go see that marriage counselor.” He shook his head. “I don’t put any stock in those head shrinks, but if you wanna do it we’ll do it.”

She had sighed tiredly. “It won’t make a difference if you just go to placate me, Andrew. If you’re just gonna go and roll your eyes while you make jokes…”

He had silenced her with a gentle kiss, intentionally sidetracking her because he hadn’t wanted to talk about it. He wasn’t the kind of man who went to shrinks for anything. He solved his own problems; he didn’t pay other people to do it for him. He leaned down to kiss her, hoping she would forget about this nonsense about going to see a counselor.

“I’m gonna be gone for a whole week,” he whispered, smiling against her lips when she shifted and pulled him over on top of her.

Maria had known exactly what he was doing but she hadn’t wanted to spend the last few hours they had together arguing before sending him off for a week to play in the woods. There would be time to deal with their problems later.

Only, there hadn’t been time to deal with it later
, she thought as she blinked back the tears she could feel building up.

“Sorry, Mom,” Andy mumbled when he saw her brush at a tear that slid down her cheek.

“No, honey, it’s okay,” she assured him. “Not all tears are because you feel sad.”

He made a face. “I’m not a girl, Mom.”

She smiled and shook her head. “No, I know that. We should be getting home; I told your grandma I’d give her a hand with dinner tonight.”

Andy was nodding when he happened to turn his head and he noticed Sam walking on the other side of the park. “Hey, Mom, would you mind if I walked home?”

Maria turned to follow his gaze and she hid a smile when she saw the girl who seemed to have captured her son’s interest. “You’ll be home in time for dinner?”

“Yeah, yeah,” he said quickly, worried that Sam would see him sitting at the park with his mom of all people!

She nodded. “Go on.”

He hurried to get out of the car, making it a point to close the door as quietly as possible so he wouldn’t draw any attention to himself. He waved Mom away and cringed when she pulled away from the curb and honked the horn.

“Sorry!” Maria yelled, unintentionally embarrassing him further. It was habit to press on the horn when she let him out somewhere and drove off. She smiled when he started to wave furiously, trying to make her leave faster.

“Parents are totally embarrassing sometimes, aren’t they?” Sam asked sympathetically. She had seen the entire scene and she knew from hanging out with the twins that moms could be so clueless about some of the things they did. “Don’t feel bad, Andy, my dad’s the same way.”

He shrugged one shoulder. “So, you walkin’ home?”

“Yeah, I was hangin’ out over at the twins’ house but they managed to get into trouble and then their mom got home, so I thought I’d go ahead and start on home. My dad’s probably just about got dinner ready anyway.”

He motioned to her backpack when she shifted it higher on her shoulder. “I could carry that for ya… I mean, if ya want.”

“Well…” she glanced at it for a moment before shrugging and then handing it over to him, “okay, if you want to.”

Andy hooked the strap over his right shoulder and they started walking towards her house. “So, you said you were over at Nick an’ Justin’s place; did their dad make it home this afternoon?”

“He wasn’t there when I left. It’s like he keeps tryin’ to make things right but I don’t know… he’s got like the worst luck ever. They didn’t say anything but thanks for talkin’ to ‘em.”

“How’d you know I apologized?” he asked, confused.

“I’ve known them my whole life, Andy. I can read those two like an open book.” She smiled and pointed to the left, indicating they needed to turn at the end of the block.

“So, is your dad still pissed about the other day?”

“No, I wouldn’t say he’s pissed. Dad never really stays mad about much of anything for long. He’ll say what he has to say and once he knows he’s got his point across he usually chills out again.”

“You sure about that?” Andy asked as they neared her house and he saw her dad standing on the porch, watching them.

Sam swallowed hard. “Well, technically, we are together unsupervised, so he might be a little bit pissed right now. Just be cool, okay?” She smiled as she opened the gate and stepped into the yard, not surprised when Andy handed her backpack to her over the fence and opted to stay out on the sidewalk.

“We were just walkin’, Mr. Whitman,” Andy explained nervously.

“Uh-huh,” Alex said, unimpressed. “And now you’re…?”

“Um… goin’ home?”

He nodded. “Good answer.”

“Yes sir.” Andy backed away as he nodded at Sam. “See ya at school tomorrow.”

“Bye, Andy.”

Alex just barely stopped himself from rolling his eyes when his little girl lowered her head and smiled sweetly as she waved at the little troublemaker who tripped over the uneven sidewalk and then blushed furiously as he practically ran down the street.

*****

Liz was moving around the banquet hall, making sure everyone was finding their seats without any trouble when she was approached by one of the town’s worst gossips and she could feel the internal cringe as the woman looked around before her sharp gaze settled on her. Loretta Givens was married to the school superintendant and she felt that it gave her the right to stick her nose into everyone’s business. “Hello, Mrs. Givens,” she greeted politely.

“Mrs. Evans, I don’t see your little family here this evening.” She brushed her fingers over the strand of pearls hanging around her neck, drawing attention to it. “I was under the impression that all of the faculty would be bringing their families.” She sighed dramatically and reached out to pat Liz’s arm. “But of course, with your difficulties here recently… I’m sure your husband is doing the best he can under the circumstances, dear.”

“My husband is just fine, Mrs. Givens, but thank you for your concern. Could teeth shatter from gritting them together so tightly? she wondered.

“Well, it’s alright, dear, we don’t like to discuss these things in public anyway, do we?”

Jeanie Lassiter, the new first grade teacher joined them and tapped Liz on the shoulder. “Hey, it looks like they were just running a few minutes behind.” She had seen the old busybody corner Liz and she knew the woman was just looking for something to gossip about and she had been relieved when she had noticed the small group near the entrance.

Liz turned her head and her heart started to beat triple-time when she saw her husband and children standing at the entrance looking for her. “Excuse me, won’t you, Mrs. Givens.” She glanced at Jeanie when she walked next to her as they made their joint escape. “Thank you!” she whispered.

“Anytime, girl. That woman could drive a saint to commit criminal acts.” She smiled. “Say hi to the family for me.”

“Mommy!” Kara shouted when she saw Mommy and she ran across the room to grab her hand and tug on it. “Look, Mommy, look what Daddy got for me!” She pointed at the little tiara comb resting on her head and Liz couldn’t help the tears that momentarily clouded her vision.

“It’s very pretty, sweetie,” she said, brushing her hand over her daughter’s head. She looked up once more and she smiled at the picture her boys made as they stood there, fidgeting, and tugging at their ties as they looked around for the food. “Don’t you two look sharp,” she said proudly as she straightened Justin’s tie and tucked Nick’s collar down.

“Hi, Nicky.”

Nick looked up when Sarah Lambert walked by with her mother and his posture straightened up as he gave her a goofy smile. “Hey, Sarah.”

“Hey, Sarah,” Justin mocked under his breath when the girl disappeared into the crowd. “Dude, if that was your smoothest move you’re never gonna get around to askin’ her out.”

“Shut up, man.”

“Okay, okay, you two knock it off,” Max chastised as he placed a hand on each of their shoulders. “Take your sister and the three of you go have a seat.”

“Where?” Nick grumbled.

Liz turned and motioned to get Jeanie’s attention and a moment later the other woman smiled and waved to the boys. “Just go on over there and Jeanie will show you where our table is.” As soon as the kids had moved off to find their seats she turned her attention to her husband. “You made it,” she whispered against his lips.

“Just barely.”

She leaned back in his arms and let her gaze travel over him. “You’re so sexy,” she rasped as she ran her hands up over his shoulders to settle at his neck.

“Me? Look at you!” His eyes slid down over her and he growled low in his throat. “You know what that dress does to me, Mrs. Evans.”

“Um-hmm.” She grinned knowingly at him and took his hand as she turned to lead him to their table. “And you can show me when we get home, Mr. Evans.”

He smiled at her teasing tone and resisted the urge to reach up and tug the hated bowtie away from his throat. The ticket he had gotten that afternoon for doing 90 on a 65-mile-per-hour stretch of highway would be worth every penny he had to pay just to see the look of happiness on her face when she had looked up and seen him standing there with their children. He let every other thought leave his mind as they stopped at the table where Mr. Grant was sitting, waiting to be honored by his peers and friends after so many years of dedicated service.

*****

Alex stepped around Oscar as he followed his daughter into the house and he glanced at the stove to make sure everything was fine before continuing after her when she left the kitchen. “I can’t imagine that you think there isn’t gonna be any discussion of your obvious lack of concern for the rules, young lady.”

Sam cringed and her shoulders slumped as she turned around on the second step and sat down, backpack hitting the step below with a loud thud. “Daddy, he’s – “

“Huh-uh, no ma’am. What part of the rule regarding that little troublemaker did you not understand?”

“He’s not a troublemaker, Dad!”

“No, he’s misunderstood, right? Look, Sam, I made it clear that I don’t want the two of you hangin’ out unless there’s adult supervision and I know about it. No part of that is confusing or difficult to understand, and until that boy straightens his act up that rule will stay in effect. Do you understand me?”

Ungh, Dad was totally being all parental! She nodded and stared at the floor for several minutes. “He’s not a bad guy, Dad,” she said finally. “We were just walkin’ home, that’s all.”

“Look, Sam,” Alex said as he moved to sit on the step beside her, “I know you believe in this kid… you see somethin’ there that I don’t.” He shrugged. “Maybe it’s somethin’ I can’t see because all I see when I look at him is a kid who’s gotten in trouble on more than one occasion and one of those occasions involved you.”

“I don’t understand that, Dad. You’re like… you’re like the fairest man in the world! You believe in givin’ people second chances, but with Andy it’s like you won’t even consider it and that doesn’t make any sense to me.” She sighed and leaned against the banister as she looked at her dad. “You’re the one who asked Mr. Evans to give Josh a chance and he had just gotten out of jail!”

Alex’s head snapped to the side and he stared at his daughter. “Where’d you hear that?”

“From you.” She shrugged one shoulder. “I was in the next room, Dad,” she said, exasperated. “I was 13 not three, ya know!” She rolled her eyes. “I’ve never told anyone, not even Justin or Nicky.”

Alex was relieved at her assurance that she had never repeated what she had heard. Josh had fallen in with a bad crowd when he was younger and he had paid the price for his mistakes, but he’d been unable to find steady work after his release. They had met by chance and after several hours of conversation over coffee at the local diner Alex had felt certain that the man was worth the risk.

“So how come you could give him a chance, but you’re not willin’ to do the same thing for Andy?”

“He has a history of getting in trouble and I don’t want to see that begin to affect you.” He held one hand up when she started to protest. “I will give him a chance, but he has to earn it.”

“And to do that we both have to follow your rules,” she guessed.

“To the letter,” he agreed. “I’m not bein’ unreasonable, and one day I hope you’ll be able to see that.”

“It’s not that, Dad. Well, not just that anyway. We were walkin’ home. What did you want me to do? Call you and ask you to meet us at the park so you could walk home with us? Wouldn’t that be kinda stupid? I mean, jeez, Dad, this town’s like the size of a postage stamp… you could find out where I was by checkin’ with a few of the neighbors.”

“Next time, call me.” He sighed and draped his right arm around her shoulders, tugging her up against his side and dropping a kiss on her head. “You just don’t know how badly I don’t wanna let you grow up,” he whispered against her hair.

“Aww, Dad,” she mumbled against his chest as she hugged him. It was probably a waste of time to point out that she was gonna grow up regardless of whether or not he wanted to let it happen so she just remained silent.

“Alright, you need to get started on your homework and I’ve gotta get dinner finished. You need help with anything?”

“I’ve gotta select a famous person in history who did somethin’ important to change things and then pick someone more current who also did somethin’ to change things and compare and contrast their successes and failures and tell whether or not I think the changes they made impacted life today.”

Alex winced. History was not Sam’s favorite subject. “And this’s due when?”

“I don’t know… tomorrow?”

“Um-hmm, and all week long when I’ve asked about homework and you’ve said it was finished?”

“Well, it was,” she defended herself. “That other stuff was all due in the next day. This wasn’t due yet.”

He shook his head. “Put your stuff away, grab your laptop, and you might as well set up camp at the kitchen table because you’ve got work to do.”

Sam kissed his cheek as she got up and grabbed her backpack to go upstairs. She actually had a pretty fair start on the assignment, but it always made him feel good when he gave her a hand with her homework.

*****

Max watched his wife as the evening wore on, noting the exhaustion on her features. Most people would never even notice it because she covered it well, but he could easily see it. He was standing near the entrance where she had left him a little while ago and he was patiently waiting for her to finish. He was holding their sleeping daughter and he unconsciously rocked her as he rubbed her back. His eyes followed Liz as she moved around the room, pausing to speak with some of the stragglers who were hanging around.

“Isn’t Mom ready to go yet?” Justin asked as he joined his dad. “I thought she said she just had to say bye to a couple of people?”

“She’s not quite ready yet. Where’s Nick?”

He snorted. “Talkin’ to Sarah.”

Max smiled at the annoyance in his son’s tone and he shifted Kara so he could glance at his watch. “Your mom’ll be ready here pretty soon. You two get your coats and go start the truck so it’ll be warm when your mom an’ sister get out there.”

“Okay. Hey, can we stop an’ get a cheeseburger on the way home, Dad?”

“We’ll run it by Mom and see what she says.”

“Aww, Dad,” Justin complained.

Max tossed the keys to his son. “Warm the truck up and I’ll see what I can do.” He smiled and shook his head when the teenager ran off to find his brother.

“It was a nice sendoff, don’t you think?”

He turned his head and smiled at the elderly gentleman who had joined him. “It was very nice, Mr. Grant.” He reached out to shake the man’s hand. “I was very sorry to hear about your wife.”

The old man smiled past the grief that still sat on his chest like a ton of bricks. “You hear people say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone… but I knew. I made my fair share of mistakes and there were plenty of times over the years when I overlooked opportunities to tell her, but I knew.” He followed the younger man’s gaze and he observed the way Max watched his own wife. It wasn’t exactly a secret that the couple was having some problems but he wasn’t the type of man to indulge in gossip or pry into other people’s business.

“How long were you married, Mr. Grant?”

“47 years,” he answered with a touch of pride. “You know what the secret to a good marriage is?”

Max turned his head to look at the old man, interested in what he had to say. “I’m guessin’ you’re gonna say somethin’ besides love and trust?”

Mr. Grant shook his head. “Communication, boy. Love, trust, respect, friendship… those are all very important, but on their own, not a single one of them can hold a marriage together. Being able to communicate is the key and it’s the glue that holds the rest of it together.” He smiled and patted Max on the shoulder. “Just this old man’s opinion, son. You have a good evening.” He turned and walked back over to a small group of faculty that had gathered in the center of the room to talk.

“I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to finish up here, Max,” Liz said as she joined him a little while later. “I know you’re tired and ready to go home.”

“No, don’t rush on my account, darlin’. If you need more time…”

“No, no, I’m all finished up here.” She reached up to stroke Kara’s head. “Poor thing, she’s worn out from all the excitement.”

“Looks like she’s not the only one,” Max said quietly as his hand lifted to cradle her flushed cheek. “You look exhausted, Liz.” He frowned and reached up to rest the back of his hand against her forehead for a moment. “You’re warm, too, are you feelin’ okay?”

“Just tired,” she said, leaning into his touch. “I’ve been feelin’ bad the last couple of days.” She rolled her eyes. “Some of the kids have come down with the flu over the past week and I really hope I haven’t caught it.”

“Liz, if you’re not feelin’ well you should stay home tomorrow.”

“We’ll see how I feel in the mornin’.”

Max sighed. The woman could be as stubborn as him sometimes. “Alright, let’s get your stuff. I sent the boys out to warm the truck up.”

She nodded and led the way over to the small room that held their coats and she pulled Kara’s out first.

“You wanna try an’ put it on ‘er?” he asked. “I’m parked pretty close to the entrance.”

“Alright, we’ll just cover her up.” They carefully maneuvered the coat over Kara’s arms and the little girl grumbled crankily as her sleep was disturbed. “The boys didn’t eat much,” Liz said as she slipped into her own coat.

“No, and they’re hungry. They were hopin’ I’d be able to persuade you into lettin’ ‘em have a cheeseburger or two on the way home.”

“That is not a habit I want them to get into.” She exhaled slowly. “Although I suppose once in a while won’t hurt anything. But, no soda this late.”

“No soda,” Max agreed. “C’mon, let’s get the boys somethin’ to eat an’ get home so we can put the kids to bed. Y’know, you didn’t eat much either.”

“I didn’t really feel like seafood tonight.”

“Well, rumor has it that we’ve got leftovers from last night’s dinner waitin’ for us at home. Why don’t you go upstairs when we get home and soak in a nice hot bath while I take care of the kids and make us a little somethin’ to eat,” he suggested.

“You’re not goin’ back out right away are you?”

“No. I’ll have to make up for that meetin’ I missed earlier today, but we’ll worry about it later. For now let’s just get home and get the kids down for the night so we can spend some time together.”

Liz smiled and nodded. That sounded perfect to her. She stepped out into the brisk night air and walked beside her husband, grateful for his presence and his willingness to handle things and give her a break. She was so tired and she was looking forward to spending the evening enjoying being with Max without arguing or fighting over anything.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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