Title: Before it's too late.
Category: Max and Liz. AU. No aliens.
Disclaimer: Roswell is mine. Jason Behr is mine. Roswell is mine. Jason Behr is mine. Nope, even auto-persuasion doesn't seem to work, so I guess we all know what that means. (next time I'll try hypnosis and maybe then I'll succeed in convincing at least myself, lol. )
Summary: Max and Liz met when they both were children but only really talked once they were in High School (sounds familiar, doesn't it?), they fell in love (that too? … oh boy, you already know everything then ), got married and so on and so forth, but something got definitely wrong because now they're living apart and their marriage is only hanging by a thread. (blame it on Max, he's the man… j/k … I guess no one is really more responsible than the other. Lack of communication is! ) … if you want to know what happened and why… I'm afraid you'll have to read now
However before you seriously start thinking about strangling Max… just know that there is a reason behind his behavior … and of course, the same goes for Liz
And before you start throwing things at your screen too with the hope that one of them could hit me square in the face for starting another story, just know that 2 parts out of the 4 left are already almost finished (that's why I decided to post) and that I really have the intention to finish this fic before let's say… the release of Roswell in France which is planned for April the 28th (obsessed much I know )… if nothing comes my way in the meantime, I should update every week… probably on Thursday. Of course, feedbacks would only help keeping that schedule more easily … so don't hesitate.
A big thank U to Tiphaine, Angie and Deborah for being my 'guinea pigs' and testing the waters so to say with this story… your comments have been greatly appreciated, and really helped me a lot… got to have different perspectives, right? You rock girls, LOVE YOU!
Best Portrayal of a child, for Janelle.
Best Alternate Universe Without Aliens
She moaned his name in her sleep as she felt his hot breath on her neck, caressing her and sending shivers down her spine.
His lips brushed against her skin, burning her everywhere they grazed it until they finally touched her own.
His tongue darted out, quickly swallowed into the recesses of her mouth where it mated with hers and enjoyed its sweet taste.
A set of amber eyes bore directly through her when they came up for air, touching her soul with the intensity they radiated, warming her heart with the way they shone love.
"I love you so much, Liz!" he whispered huskily and she moaned again as he kept thrusting in and out of her, his rhythm slow and torturous, just like he knew it drove her crazy.
God, she had missed this so much. Missed the contact of his fevered skin against hers, the touch of his hands all over her, the feel of him inside of her. How she had survived so long without it she didn't know, but now that she had him back she didn't want to let go. Ever.
Her nails scratched his back, when in reality her hands fisted the sheets at her sides, and she slightly arched up, trying to meet his every move.
"I love you… I love you… you and only you!" he repeated reverently and she felt tears welling up in her eyes.
She tried to show him, tell him how much she loved him, too, but the words got stuck in her throat and all she could do was look back at him.
Why wouldn't her vocal chords work when she needed them?
He needed to know, and she needed to tell him, even if somehow she knew he understood, she could feel it in his gaze, in the way he touched her, in the way he was loving her.
She brought a hand over his shoulder, slowly making her way to the nape of his neck and she smiled as she felt his fingers briefly intertwining with hers, before he let go of them and tenderly stroked the length of her arm, all the way down to her own bare shoulder.
Strangely she felt his weight seemingly pressing more firmly against her, but she didn't give it second thoughts, too busy relishing in the soft caress of his fingers, until she finally felt his hand on her shoulder, shaking her. And shaking her. And shaking her.
" Mommy… I'm hungry!"
She stirred and blinked a few times at the sound of the voice, wondering why Max was calling her mommy suddenly, only to finally come face to face with the amber eyes that haunted her every night, looking down at her. Those sparkling amber eyes she loved so much… and yet they weren't exactly the same… they weren't really his.
She felt disoriented at first, searching around her, hoping to find him near her yet, but he wasn't anywhere to be seen. He wasn't here anymore, period, she had to remind herself. He hadn't been for a long time now, and yet she still couldn't get used to waking up alone in what used to be their bed, even if she well knew now it was only hers, and their daughter's occasionally when she couldn't sleep and she couldn't help but come and join her mother.
"Mommy… mooommy… I'm hungry… I. AM. HUNGRY!" Janelle, her five-year-old daughter repeated even more forcefully as she resumed her shaking and her little bouncing movements on Liz's stomach, not understanding why it was taking so long to her mother to react or why she wasn't already downstairs, preparing her her breakfast.
You would think that after having been shaken left and right for several minutes and called a countless number of times her mommy would be up and ready, but nooo. Couldn't she see that she was very hungry, and too exited to wait?
Her daddy was coming and he would be the one to take her to school this morning and so she wanted to be ready for when he would arrive, and now her mother was making them both late, and of course they couldn't have that. What would her daddy say or think if he saw she wasn't there to greet him when she hadn't seen him in three long days? Of course she had talked to him on the phone every morning and every night before going to sleep during his absence, like they always did when he had to go away, but that was just not the same as seeing him in the flesh. No, not the same at all, her mother should know that!
"Okay, okay, sunshine… I think I got the message!" Liz said as she recovered and tried to stifle a laugh at her daughter's obvious excitation, then stop her from writhing even more on her lap. It wasn't the first time she had woken up with Janelle straddling her hips like this and shaking her for all she was worth, but she swore that one of these days she would just jump too much on her and kill her in the process, before she could even open an eye. "But what about a morning kiss first, huh?" she then added as she hugged her little girl against her chest and kissed her head.
At least if she couldn't revel in her husband's embrace first thing in the morning, she could still feel loved in her daughter's, and no one loved her more than her baby.
"Good mo'ning, mommy!" Janelle whispered as she hugged Liz back, or as best as she could in their still lying position, and she affectionately kissed her cheek.
"Did you sleep well, honey?" Liz asked, caressing her daughter's hair, loving the feel of it through her fingers.
It was the same texture as hers, and yet it seemed completely different to her, she couldn't help thinking once more. She had always found that strange, since if she had to describe her daughter, she would say she was the spitting image of herself, her mother from head to toes: same hair color, same little button nose, same chin, same tiny frame… only with Max's incredible eyes. That was the only physical trait she had inherited from her father in fact, but together with all the rest that was all Liz, it made a terrific combination Max often liked to say, already sure that his little girl would turn more than a few heads in the future. Not that he was ready to reach that step of course. Liz knew all too well how Max would preserve Janelle from the external world and keep her in a safety bubble the rest of her life if he could, just to be sure she wouldn't grow up at all or at least not too fast and he wouldn't have to lose her to anyone else, but he had eyes, too, and like anyone else who saw her, he couldn't deny what a beauty his girl would be. She already was.
"Yeah… very!" Janelle answered as she momentarily rested her head against her mother's chest but all too quickly for Liz's liking, pulled away again. "Can we go now?… daddy is coming and I've to be ready!" she almost right away asked with her best pleading voice.
Oh, god. This girl and her daddy. If there were ever a living stereotype of a true 'daddy's girl' Janelle Evans was it, no doubt about that. She simply couldn't live without the man, which made the situation all the more complicated for Liz, considering she and Max weren't together any longer -though so far nothing was definitive- or were even barely speaking most of the time lately, and she knew firsthand how hard it could be for her to not see her father every day.
"I know he is!"… 'don't remind me' Liz thought at the mention of him, already dreading the moment when she would see him this morning. "What about you go down first… you know where your favorite cookies are… you can take some and then if you just give me a few minutes to get showered and dressed, I'll follow and make you some pancakes." Liz negotiated, knowing that she would need a few minutes to cool down some more before being able to go anywhere or do anything else.
Her body was still humming from her dream and called for a very cold shower, and considering her daughter's impatience had made her wake up with the lark, she realized as she chanced a quick look at her alarm clock which had yet to go off, she could fortunately still take her time.
Following her mother's instructions Janelle quickly got down from the bed and padded to the door after a brief 'okay', but she had only taken a few steps into the hallway when she came backwards to ask her mother if she could watch some cartoons on the television while she waited.
"Sure, sweetie… I won't be long!" Liz authorized with a smile before falling back on her bed again.
No, Max wasn't here anymore, Liz sighed as she saw her baby girl exiting the room, remembering how had he been here, he would have followed suit at the mention of cartoons. When Max had nowhere to go in the morning, it had been like a tradition for the two of them to have their breakfast together, usually Cocoa Pebbles for him and whatever she was in the mood for, for Janelle, both cuddled close in front of the television. But now Janelle was all alone, and though she never talked or complained about it, Liz knew how much she missed those mornings.
It had only been a dream again. Only another dream. That was the only thing she had now anyway. That and a lot of memories, along with daydreaming fantasies that one day everything would be back to normal again. If only. She wished so much they could go back, but lately even just hoping was becoming too hard to her.
She often wondered where everything had gone wrong for them. Where their perfect life had changed so much and turned into this and why she had not seen it coming beforehand, maybe then she could have stopped it from happening, but she hadn't seen a thing, or not soon enough in fact and slowly she and Max had drifted apart until it was too late for her to do anything.
A couple of years ago they had everything and she was envied by most of her friends, and now that period seemed so far away that she wondered if that, too, hadn't been only a dream.
She had practically known Max Evans her whole life, ever since he had moved to Roswell, New Mexico in fact and he had stepped out of a yellow school bus his first day of class when they were just 2nd graders, but it wasn't until that fateful day of September eight years later, when he had risked his life to save hers, that she had really talked to him. She was still only sixteen, he was barely seventeen but both had immediately known that that day would seal their fate and that nothing would ever be the same between them after that.
Of course she had noticed him long before that, who wouldn't have noticed brooding, mysterious and elusive Max Evans with the looks he had. He was every girl's fantasy and yet he never seemed to care, never seemed to date which probably was what made him be even more coveted, but she had never really dared address him before, no more than he had in fact. But after that day though, and after his recovery, they had been nearly attached to the hip to quote what many commented back then. First as friends, and later as way more when they had finally been ready to admit that 'being only friends' just wasn't enough to any of them anymore, and during numerous years nothing could come between them. They were constantly together and shared all that could possibly be shared by two people. Max had been her best friend, her boyfriend, her confidant and later, the night of their Junior Prom, he had become her lover. Her everything finally.
That night he had eventually confessed having been in love with her ever since the first day he had laid eyes on her, and while he was waiting for her to laugh at him for how cheesy that sounded, she had kissed him and told him that it only made her love him more knowing that she had always been the only one to him. That was also the night she had known with even more clarity if there wasn't enough before, that there would never be anyone else for her but Max Evans either. Or so she had truly believed.
A year later, on the night of their Senior Prom and before bringing her back home, Max had made his proposal. Unexpectedly. Out of the blue. So totally Max.
She had been shocked at first of course, thinking that they were still so young, too young to get married in fact, but he had immediately eased her fears by telling her that he just couldn't wait any longer to ask her to be his wife, but that didn't mean that they had to tie the knot right that instant. They would wait as long as she would want, but he just needed to know that one day she would be completely his, and of course she had granted his wish. However none of them had known then how soon that day would come. Sooner than they had planned it at least, that was for sure.
They were barely starting their third year of college in Los Angeles, Liz studying to be a molecular biologist and Max to be a lawyer, when they had discovered she was pregnant. They had been both pretty scared and even shocked at first - okay, she had completely freaked out on Max at that moment and he had had to calm her down- but after talking it out, they had realized that it didn't matter or change anything since though they hadn't thought about starting a family so soon, both wanting to finish college before doing so, it didn't change the fact that that baby would be very much loved and wanted now that they knew of its existence.
Their parents, though their reactions to the news had been quite mixed to say the least, had insisted on the fact that they should get married and that no grandchild of theirs should be born out of wedlock, and Max and Liz had been more than happy to comply. They had thought it would be a little complicated at first to conciliate everything and make ends meet, but the surprise had come when Claudia Parker, Liz's grandmother, had offered them the house she was still currently living in as a wedding present. She couldn't very well let her granddaughter and great-grandchild live in a tiny two bedrooms apartment when she had the money, the possibility and the will to help or downright take care of that, Claudia had said, and though Max had been a little reluctant to accept such a gift at first, in the end, they both knew they had taken the right decision. It had surely helped and they would have had to struggle so much more if they hadn't.
So for a few months everything had been pretty normal, Max continuing school though Liz had to drop off the last semester due to her condition, and both were of course waiting impatiently for their daughter's arrival, but in the end Liz had fallen so totally in love with her little girl that she hadn't had the heart to pursue her studies, at least not to achieve what had always been her dream and become a famous molecular biologist. It would have taken too much of her time and she wasn't willing to leave her baby more than it was necessary if she could do otherwise. Eventually so she had become a biology teacher and it suited her just fine and with Max supporting her, she had never had to regret her decision.
Yes, everything had been perfect between Max and her and the birth of their daughter had brought them so much joy that sometimes they thought that any day soon they would just burst out with happiness.
If Liz had to point out the moment things had started to change then, she would certainly say it was around the time the rest of the Evanses, Max's parents and even Isabel, his sister, had moved to Los Angeles, too.
Philip Evans, a lawyer himself, had been offered a partnership in a Law Office there and decided to seize that great opportunity, seeing only advantages to the situation. He would make great money, he would do something he really liked in a town he liked, too, moreover, he would have a more important position, and he and his wife would be closer to his son and his family. And like it was predictable, Diane Evans who always complained she couldn't see her only granddaughter often enough had been ecstatic of course and everyone had thought that this new turn in their lives was for the best.
Not long after his coming, Philip had talked to his partners and Max had been offered a job, too, which was really great since he was just fresh out of Law School and it had spared him the trouble of going hunting for a position anywhere else, or finding himself somewhere he didn't know anybody, and again everyone had been happy with the situation. How could they not?
Liz hadn't really noticed anything being different at first, too busy she was with juggling between her own job and taking care of her daughter, but slowly Max had had less and less time for her, and soon she was barely seeing him at all.
All that seemed to matter to him was his job and trying to satisfy everyone, though mostly his father of course. Liz hadn't thought he really realized what he was doing to her or to their couple so she had more or less let it flow at first. At least as much as she could. And then when she couldn't, every time she really tried to enter the topic with him, Max always managed to reassure her, swearing that it was only a matter of time, of a few months, nothing more, just until he proved himself, and that then he would have more time for her and for Janelle, so what was she supposed to say? He told her everything she wanted to hear and she believed him.
But it hadn't been just a matter of a few months. Unfortunately.
After a little more than two years working for his father's Law Office, Max had gotten into a big argument with one of the main partners, completely disagreeing with his point of view on a case and consequently things had been a little more strained between him and everyone else after that. And that was more or less when Alex Whitman, one of Max's Law School buddies had come into the picture.
He and Max had kept in touch even after finishing school and when Alex had come to him, telling him that his own father's Law Firm, which was originally based in San Francisco, was looking for someone who could help opening up a branch here in Los Angeles with him, and that he had immediately thought of him for the job, Max hadn't thought about it twice. He had seized the opportunity, and left his previous job and father behind without hesitation. Philip Evans hadn't been particularly thrilled of course, understatement of the day here actually, but fortunately their relationship hadn't really been affected by Max's 'desertion'. To some point Liz guessed he understood Max's decision, since he would have probably done the same if he had had the opportunity to have his own Law Firm at such a young age.
Unfortunately for Liz, Max's new job, and most of all new responsibilities hadn't helped their situation at all. If anything it had only made matters worse, because if she thought that she didn't see Max enough before, now with him having to work practically 24/7 she didn't see him at all, what with him being always working or even on business trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco, or all over the West Coast depending on what he was dealing with. Of course they still had the weekends and the little time Max managed to save for their daughter, but Liz was seriously starting to resent him for not being there for her more often. Telling herself that it was just a matter of time, that everything would be back to normal once he would have everything settled and going in his office, was not enough any longer, not when it was costing her her husband. She needed more.
And then she had had that crazy idea that maybe having another baby would help them getting close again and that was when Max had snapped. He hadn't wanted to hear about it at all, stating that they weren't ready, that with them both working and with already Janelle to take care of, they wouldn't have time for another baby, or even worse that no child of his would come to this world with him not having time to see it growing up, that they should better wait, and Liz had really lost it.
Angrily she had reminded him that that was exactly what he was already doing with Janelle, but if she had thought that that would help her case, she had been really wrong. Max had argued then that it was all the more reason to not bring another baby into this and not make it go through this, too, if that was really what she thought already. And Liz had known the discussion was over. Of course she had tried to bring the topic up several times again afterwards, but Max was inflexible on that point, much to her dismay, and it had only caused the rift between them to widen even more.
In the end, Liz had learned that fate had a way of working that didn't always go with your wishes, but Max had never known about that. Because when she had been ready to tell him about it, she had discovered the real reason behind his refusal. She had discovered that while she was there, struggling and trying to save their marriage, Max was making other plans that were obviously more important to him. Plans that didn't include her anymore, and she had let him go. Or more like asked him to leave.
He was probably with her right now, making up for the time they hadn't been together these three last days, she thought bitterly, still not able to get over the fact that he could be with someone else.
Was he making love to her now? Was he holding her afterwards? she couldn't help wondering then against her better judgment -remembering how Max loved making love to her first thing in the morning and just cuddle close to her until it was finally time to get up and he had no other choice but to let her go- and not surprisingly she had to resist the urge to vomit just at the thought.
God, why was she torturing herself like that? Why did she even care what he did or not, huh? It wasn't as if it still mattered in any way now, right?
Pulled out of her not all pleasant memories, and even less pleasant visions by one of Janelle's fit of giggles, Liz turned and looking again at her clock, she realized that she had managed to space out for a good fifteen minutes and she couldn't help sighing. Would there ever be a time when she wouldn't get completely lost when thinking about him or what used to be their life? She doubted so.
Giving herself a short pep talk, she finally managed to extricate herself from the bed and padded to her bathroom to finally get that shower she needed so much before. Not that there was still anything humming inside her after having pictured what Max could be doing with that… someone else -she wouldn't even stoop to insult her anymore, she had been there, done that too many times already and it hadn't helped any- but she guessed that the water would do her some good nonetheless.
Pausing before her mirror she had to smile at the picture she made, dressed with that odd old top she simply couldn't get rid of because it was one of those Max had offered her a long time ago, back when he still thought about her enough to want to please her with the most little, insignificant or strange gifts that almost always left her smiling -though probably questioning his sanity, too- and a pair of his boxers rolled up at the waist since they were definitely too big for her but she obstinately refused to sleep in anything else, come winter or summer.
She didn't know why she couldn't be comfortable in anything else that was not his now, but she clearly remembered when it had started. Almost immediately after they had moved together in their first apartment in Los Angeles and she had discovered how great it felt to sleep with Max so close… and in Max's clothes, whether it was just a shirt, one of his tee-shirts or his boxers. Max had thought she was crazy, but it had also made him smile nonetheless, maybe because he liked seeing her in his things, and so he had yielded to her obsession.
Now it was a chance that most of his things were still here even after all this time, she thought, otherwise she didn't know how she could have made it. It was a stupid thing really if you thought about it, because a pair of boxers, a shirt or what else would never replace Max's presence by her side, or the feel of him holding her all through the night, but that was as close as she could come to feel anything that was him now, so she had to take whatever she could, right? It was even weirder if you considered that she had washed everything she wore that was his at least a hundred of times already since he had left, but strangely she still managed to find everything smelling just like him. And god, she loved that smell.
Groaning when she realized that she was doing it again - let her mind go and wander where it shouldn't - she quickly discarded her clothes and hopped under the shower, instantly reveling in the feel of the water pounding her now calmer body.
She heard a noise above the sound of the running shower and for a brief moment, merely a second maybe but that was enough to affect her deeply, she almost expected Max to come and open the shower glass-door and ask her with that cocky smile of his if she needed some help, like he had so many times before, when making love in the shower was almost the only way to not have Janelle walking up on them doing it once she was awake, but fortunately - or unfortunately, she didn't know anymore - it was only her daughter entering the bathroom.
God, how she hated this. How could she still be so obsessed with him even after all this time? Even after all she knew. It was insane. She was completely insane. She just had to stop otherwise she was really going to lose it and it wouldn't be a pretty sight, believe it.
Berating herself, she tried to chase away and out of her mind, the image of a naked Max entering the shower cubicle, ready for action, but it would probably be easier to learn to fly than managing to do that once the idea was implanted, and so she decided to concentrate on the only thing that could occupy her enough to get her mind out of the gutter. Her daughter.
"Sweetie?… did you want something?" she asked her loud enough to be sure she could hear her.
"Um-huh… there's no more cookies… are you coming?" she heard her whining slightly and immediately felt guilty for having taken so long.
"Yes, sweetheart… just give me another minute to wash my hair and I'll make those pancakes I promised!"
" 'kay… can you make for daddy, too?… he's going to be here soon!" Janelle demanded after a brief hesitation, sure that her father would appreciate, too. Her mother made the best pancakes ever anyway, and she knew just how much he liked them, too. That would make a good 'welcome back' little present. Maybe she could even help her mother make them and he would be proud of her.
"Of course!" was all that Liz could reply since she couldn't deny her daughter anything. But no one said it had to be easy, right? Yeah, thank you, that was what she thought, too.
Washing her hair and body in record time so that Janelle wouldn't be kept waiting any longer, she finally turned off the water and quickly tried to grab a towel to dry herself, only to smile when she saw that Janelle was already handing one to her.
"Thank you, Jay!" she whispered and kissed her daughter's head when she finally had the towel securely wrapped around her body. "Go ahead, I'm coming!" she then added as she reached for another towel to dry her hair.
Once that done she entered her walk-in wardrobe and searched for some clean clothes, hesitating briefly on what to wear before she remembered that since she didn't have any class until the last but one morning period, she would be able to go for a longer run than her usual twenty minutes, and so she chose something she knew she would be comfortable in.
When she finally was dressed and went downstairs, she wasn't surprised to find Janelle already in the kitchen and patiently, or at least as much as she could, waiting for her, and without wasting any more time, she prepared her girl's breakfast, trying not to cringe every time she reminded her that she had to make enough so that her father could have his fill, too. Like she could forget about him, huh? She wished, but she had understood long ago that her wishes were rarely granted.
It was a pretty stuffed Janelle who left the kitchen a little more than half an hour later, but nothing could have stopped her from running up the stairs, so happy she was when her mother had told her that she could go and choose herself the dress she would wear, since obviously it was important to her to look pretty for her daddy, like she had said.
Liz followed not far behind, though she herself didn't feel any need to run, and after helping her shower and get dressed, she settled to do her daughter's hair. Of course by then considering that her father was due to arrive a mere ten minutes later, she was a bundle of nerves, and it took all of Liz's patience to make her stay still, but she managed nonetheless.
"Do you think daddy got me a gift?" Janelle asked her mother as she combed her silky tresses.
That was the only thing she liked about the fact that her father always went on 'bizniss' trips, he always brought her back the coolest gifts. Usually they were stuffed animals and she already had a pretty big collection of them, but sometimes they were just dolls, or new accessories for them, or even just new DVDs. She wondered what it would be this time.
"I'm sure he did!" Liz answered, knowing that Max would certainly not forget about that. There was a time when he always brought something for her, too, but that had stopped once he had left of course. She guessed he didn't feel obligated any longer after that. "Braided or loose today, honey?!" she then demanded absentmindedly, though she was already starting to braid it considering that Janelle had asked her to do her hair that way almost all the week.
No need to say then that her answer surprised her, even if in some way she could have expected it.
"Loose… daddy like it loose… he say I look like you!" Janelle replied simply and smiled proudly at Liz through the mirror, not aware that her answer had caused her mother's heart to ache in remembrance.
Yes, Max had always liked when she wore her hair loose, too. At least a long time ago. He probably didn't care one way or another now though.