“Only you could upstage the bride and groom Jim,” Michael murmured through gritted teeth thirty minutes in the backroom of the Crashdown; which was closed to hold the reception. They had an hour minutes before the guests would be making their way to the café. The group that had clustered together didn’t know how to respond as Jim and Max stood in the middle of the crowd. Both men knew Michael wasn’t talking to Jim, but of Max. Silence had befallen on the crowd at Diane’s scream.
A fascinated crowd which had mostly made up of friends from high school or colleagues; so many of them knew Max Evans and knew he had disappeared before the end of senior year and had been a chief cause for Liz’s crash and burn before she picked herself up. Little did they know the true events about how Max had aided in Liz’s recovery albeit giving her a much harder road than one would wish on someone.
“I take it that is meant for me?” Max asked as interrupted the code of silence. Amy Deluca was with the help of the first aid kit from the Parker’s home helping clean up Jim’s cuts. Max only needed a change of clothes once he washed his face. He hadn’t sustained any true injuries, just some sand rash for being forced down to the crowd. He knew he had Jim to thank for not dying for real in the shootout and he would be forever grateful.
Liz stood in the mayhem with Claudia in her arms as the child was looking up at her Mom as both mother and daughter looked at Max who only had eyes for them. Staring at them gave him strength as he wished he could sweep them away, and hide and just concentrate on them instead of sitting and feeling like he was before counsel awaiting his faith while at the same time, he did know he deserved this given the lies…
Nancy was organizing the staff to make sure everything was set while Jeff stood watch of a situation he barely understood as the gravity of the situation was starting to seep in as he observed his own daughter, and while Liz was oddly silent… she also didn’t have the aura of near collapse to her which left him to wonder just how in the dark his daughter was… or did she know more than she had let on?
Isabel and Maria were looking on in mystified stupor. Michael looked like he wanted to kill someone, but he needed answers first… “So, you’re alive and have been all this time…”
“Simple answer, yes.” Max said he sighed deeply because he knew his was going to be hard to explain.
“How can it be more than simple?” Michael asked.
“You wouldn’t believe how complicated it was” Max murmured as he turned and directly looked at his mystified parents. “Mom and Dad, I am sorry. I understand that you were under the belief that I was dead, and I am sorry for the confusion to you and to you Isabel. I never wanted that and if I had my way, I would have prevented all the pain you guys suffered because it wasn’t my choice to hurt you like this or to hurt Liz, but I did, and I know it… so I am sorry.”
“I don’t understand son…” Phillip asked as the confusion reigned on his face as Maria wanted to sink further because the Evans were operating under her explanation of the situation. “They may have mentioned that Liz had a stalker back in Vermont at that boarding school, and you died protecting her…” he murmured. “Is there more…”
Max’s eyes could only go up at the explanation that was given to his parents. Clever guys clever
he mused to himself deep in himself. “Yes, there is more to it… it’s way more complicated then that and it has more than the easy backstory that goes with it… so I will get into the easy stuff, and leave the heavy for later…”
“We want the truth” Diane asked of her son. “I think we deserve it because it’s obvious that we have been oblivious for too long, and we have been lied to more than once…”
“Mom, I know you do, and you do deserve it. I am sorry for hurting you, and as I said if I had my way, I would have been back here…”
“Why couldn’t you have your way?” Amy Deluca asked as she put the final band aid on her boyfriend’s face, as she saw the tension in both Jim and Kyle and suspected there was more than what meets the eye.
“As I told Liz, I wish I could…” Max said to the wince in Liz, and knew he had stepped into it by acknowledging that she knew…”
“Liz, you knew…” Isabel asked deeply stung. You knew my brother was alive?” she asked as she and Maria were hit by the knowledge, they were among the last to know…” she asked of her friend.
Having been noticeably silent during all this, Liz truly didn’t know how to respond or whether she had the strength as she held her daughter and took in the strength from her little girl to feed her ability to stay standing.
“Only last night Isabel. Don’t blame Liz, because I blindsided her as she was planning to head to your mother’s place Maria…” Max said in a hurry. “And given the circumstances of today; I would expect her to want to wait to tell you anything weighty… Right Liz?”
Forced into talking, she nodded. “I would have told you, but I didn’t want to interrupt your day, and really I thought Max was gone again
“What…” Isabel squeaked.
“It’s true,” Max sadly said again. “I thought I had to leave, and I was planning on it, but I got ambushed and Jim saved my life otherwise I likely would be dead for real…
“WHAT!” gasped the group.
As the group was reeling from the drip drip of information, a “I knew…” came from Kyle as he revealed his own secret as Isabel took her hand immediately out of his hand that she had been holding for support. “Liz, you don’t have to take all the pressure for knowing yourself because not only Dad knew, but I found out far longer than you did, and I kept it a secret when I found out nearly a year ago.”
“You did,” Liz recoiled from the information. “You knew all this time…”
“Only because I saw a mystery car following you after Claudia was born and so I forced a friend from school who works at the department now to run the license plate, and it came across Dad’s desk and he was forced to tell me…”
“I am not happy to say that I was following Liz,” Max revealed. “But I couldn’t reveal myself and I had done too much damage in the months before, so I thought I was being good in just observing and I do appreciate that you cared about Liz and Claudia enough to be worried…”
“Okay,” Maria muttered. “This is headache inducing, as I need answers… and now. My reception is about to begin, and I would like to know what in the fu@k is happening before I go enjoy the evening.”
“I am sorry about this,” Max said again. “I was following Liz, and Claudia once she was born because she, Liz I mean, she believed me to have died in the February of senior year when I visited her when she was at boarding school.”
“We know that…” Maria muttered as it this was repeating a very bad episode of their lives.
“Some of us don’t…” Amy reminded her daughter. “But I agree, we need to fasten this up because the reception should be starting anytime.”
“I’ll go out front and make sure everyone feels comfortable when they arrive,” Kyle offered, and they all nodded. “Isabel, I am sorry, we can talk about it later…”
“You bet we will be talking…” Isabel muttered as Kyle went out front as she was not happy to know all the secrets that were being kept.
“So,” Michael asked calling them back to the situation at hand.
“So,” Max said.
“Can you talk about this?” Liz asked of Max and Jim. “Isn’t he in legal trouble or something if he tells more people about what happened back then…”
“It’s all clear,” Jim said. “I’ll explain more when we get to that portion of events,” he sighed as he knew this was going to sit well with anyone as it wouldn’t if he had been kept in the dark, and the fact Liz apparently knew what was going on was not going down lightly with the others.
“To simplify it,” Max sighed. “Liz believed me to be that day, and in some ways, I did die but in a process that is very difficult to fully explain… I didn’t die that day, and instead I ended up in a hospital near the boarding school. Liz assumed I was dead and reacted in the only way she felt she could… she came home with Maria who was visiting her at school, but I ended up having to make a deal with the federal government to be a witness against a very bad person.”
“What the hell…” Maria said as she searched her memory for back then. “How…is… that possible…”
“Maria, you know how it would be possible” Max glared and Maria went silent because it was already difficult enough making the excuse plausible without having to go into the gory details about aliens, vanishing into dust and finding yourself a spirit in a new body and then having to fight to come back out, and only certain people knew… “Mom and Dad, Jeff… well it’s a very difficult story and I can explain more later. I don’t know how legal the deal they made with me, and Dad if I had it to do over again than I might have gone to you to get advice, but I felt I had to act because I felt I had to protect everyone.”
“Are you really serious son… The federal government?” Phillip asked. “You didn’t come to me, or someone else like Jim to see if it was legal?”
“Deadly serious. The agreement I made was that they would protect me, and I would allow everyone to assume I was dead or gone depending on how much people back here at home knew of my disappearance and what transpired. Everyone assumed I was dead, and to some degree I was. I was in a very different life. I was told if I made this deal that they would keep an eye on Liz, and the others in my life and maybe some day I could come home when it was all over.”
“So, witness protection?” Isabel murmured.
“Basically,” Max confirmed. “I felt I had no other choice otherwise decisions would be taken out of my hand, and things seemed to be going well enough until the situation went badly, and they were going to be move me, likely out of the country but I wasn’t told where I was going to be moved but because I knew I was leaving, for maybe good, I went rogue yesterday and sought out Liz and revealed myself to her and told her some of what happened. Still, I turned myself over and was prepared to leave Roswell and everyone here, but we got ambushed. Luckily Jim sensed it before it was too late and was able to save my life before I got myself hurt or killed. Unfortunately, he ended up banged up, but he saved my life, and the ambush made an impact on both of us, so I think you can safely say my protection is over, because the mole that was behind me being moved was under covered and I am safe.”
“How are you safe?” Diane asked of her son as she looked at the town Sheriff. “Jim…help us…”
“The mole is dead and doing some follow up on the ride here I am told that the deal Max made was very flimsy in the first place and they are skating on a fine line, so they rather just close it up, and be done with it. They know you guys would have a case against the government because of the way they conducted the operation and because they didn’t follow up on the agreement, they made with Max. They will go another way, without Max’s help.”
“Why would we have a case?” Jeff asked.
“Max was under 18 which means…” Jim sighed as he didn’t realize it until it was too late when he was looking at the paperwork.
“They needed the added agreement of his parent or guardian and while he may have been living on his own, he wasn’t legally emancipated like Michael was…” Phillip explained as it dawned on him. “We allowed Max to live with Michael, but he wasn’t 18 until March, so if this happened in February… he wasn’t legal yet.”
“Oh my god,” Liz whispered.
“Yeah,” Max nodded. “Given the circumstances of these days in question. I thought I had to agree otherwise they had some serious ammunition to go after me, and they could ruin those I love back here… so I believed them. I wish I didn’t, but I did, and, in the meantime, I thought they were keeping an eye on those I loved like Liz… later, I found they weren’t…”
“I was in a spiral?” Liz admitted.
“Max nodded. “So, I am not happy about what I did to stop it once I knew Liz was so devastated over my presumed death.”
“Oh my god,” Maria breathed. “You’re ‘Rob Roy’?” she said as she looked at Max in a different light as it came to that if Max was truly alive than he would have found out Liz was spiraling down a hole, and he would have done something to stop it.
“No, you’re not…” Nancy said coming into the conversation as she glanced at Max, and it didn’t gel with the man she saw that day. “I saw him, you’re not him…” she asked confused. “Maria, everything is ready. You don’t have to worry about a thing…”
“Thank you,” Maria nodded as she wanted to get back to this soap opera coming alive at her wedding reception.
“I was in my disguise,” Max said matter of flatly as possible to the new tension into the room. “Liz wouldn’t have known the real me, but that day I came to her again… she sensed something in me, so I had to vanish and until yesterday I didn’t see her again.”
“If you were this ‘Rob’” Jeff asked. “That means…”
“Yes, I am Claudia’s father…” he said to stunning transformation of the room as the new information changed everything. “When I saw that Liz was reeling, I came to see her… and under my disguise, I was there to comfort for her… She didn’t tell me her name, but of course I knew it while she told me her Vegas alias, so I used my Vegas alias and for one night we created magic and I am not proud of it because I feel like I took advantage of her… and put her in a situation she wasn’t ready for…
“Claudia saved my life,” Liz admitted. “You gave me what I needed, but I just didn’t know you had given me that gift…”
“Oh my god…” Diane asked.
“Yes Mom, Claudia is my daughter. So, she is your granddaughter.”
“I should have known. Claudia was such a dead ringer for you, and we could see it. But we didn’t know why…” Isabel mused.
“I am very sorry for all the pain and grief I have given you all. But I am back now, and I am determined to try to pay for it and be here…” Max was saying as the door to opened and Kyle came in. “Maria and Michael, the party is starting. You might want to come out and make your grand entrance.”
“That we can do,” Maria quipped with a smile at Liz who now openly smiled. “Let’s get this party going. So, I guess I should say ‘Welcome back to the land of the living Max’,” she said warmly because while she might have some serious doubts about how her best friend was treated like her reputation was worth nothing, still, he saved her that day, and got her to come back to them and for that, well, she could forgive anything.
“Thank you, Maria and Congratulations, on your wedding… I am glad I was able to experience a part of it.”
“I guess we shouldn’t expect any differently,” Maria murmured as soon the guests were all in the main part of the restaurant and Maria and Michael were being announced as Michael and Maria Guerin as they entered the party.
And the gang partied it up.
A short time later in the corner stood Liz. With Max off talking to his parents and Jeff and Nancy were working on the food stations as they were being prepared. Liz was observing the party atmosphere as she noticed Isabel who was still miffed at Kyle, so she wasn’t in the mood to dance with her boyfriend, so she was standing solo as she too noticed Liz in the corner and she approached as they watched as Maria and Michael were dancing to a slow song. “Michael’s become a better dancer since prom…” Isabel murmured as they watched the newlyweds.
“He loves her, so he’ll do anything for her” Liz commented as she searched the restaurant for Max and finally spotted him just as Max spotted her and he smiled, and she melted. Jeff had given Max a new shirt to wear and so he didn’t look like he came from a bloody ambush, which of course he had, but having him in her proximity was unnerving as it was welcoming.
“You’ve forgiven him?” Isabel asked of her brother.
“I thought I had lost him to death, so it puts it all in prospective” Liz thought. “I did get angry at him when I realized the events of what happened, and how he came to me and yet lied about who he was and made me see a version of him that wasn’t real but then I wasn’t sober that first night otherwise I might have sensed something off, and maybe I did but I went along for the ride because for one night it felt right.”
“It’s unreal…” Isabel allowed.
“He felt he was protecting himself. We all know the Special Unit and they would have gone to extremes back here if Max had denied them and tried to come back. He was in a no-win situation Isabel, so I can’t blame him because he was protecting the secret and he does feel tremendous guilt over what he did as Clayton Wheeler. So, they had him… and he knew it.”
“So much could have prevented if only we had known…” Isabel murmured.
“He was protecting us,” Liz said defiantly. “I have Claudia because of him, so I can’t be mad. Forgive Kyle Isabel,” she suggested. “It wastes a lot of time being angry when Kyle was just being concerned for me and Claudia and then he was forced to keep the secret to protect Max and the operation we thought was legit. I am sure he would have told you if he could, but he couldn’t so he was trying to be respectful.”
“I know…” Isabel murmured.
“Think about it this way Isabel, against all odds we have Max back, so I am not going to be miffed at any secrets when we’re by our very natures a secretive bunch. And until we can be honest with everyone than how can we be angry when we become victims of those secrets to protect one of our own.”
Isabel nodded. “I guess you’re right” she murmured as she saw Kyle come back into the main part of the restaurant and take a drink from the bar. “Thanks for the advice,” she murmured as she left her friend and approached Kyle and soundlessly smiled while he smiled back. She took his drink from him and put it on the bar and took him to the dance floor as they moved to the beat as their relationship became officially official with no secrets between them.
Liz could only smile as she saw Max break off from his parents as the beginning of Phil Collins “Against all Odds” played on the juke box. How appropriate
she murmured as she decided to take her own advice as she approached him as he felt entranced as he saw her approach with her sexy walk as he could only thank his lucky stars that he had this chance… “Hi,” he said softly as his beauty came his way. “We haven’t had much time to talk since you know…”
“You came back alive…” Liz smiled with a tender smile as the song changed and a slow song started, as he took her hand, and they went into each other’s arms and started to dance unaware of anything in the room, as they felt in their own dream world. “No, we haven’t…
“It truly feels like magic…” Max asked. “I dreamt about it a lot when I was away, during the many nights I couldn’t sleep and when I couldn’t stop thinking about you… about how it would be to come back and regain my life, but to have it be real, to know I can see you and touch you anytime I want, it feels like magic…”
“We were always unexplainable,” Liz murmured. “From the very beginning…”
“That we have…” Max murmured as they felt the wave of desire come through him as they stood in each other’s arms. “But you’re real now…”
“Just promise me that you won’t leave me again…” Liz asked as they stared into each other’s eyes.
“Not on your life,” Max in a murmur as they leaned for a kiss as it struck a passion that had been untapped for so many years as they kissed like they didn’t have tomorrow… and yet they knew they finally did have tomorrow…
She truly knew she was lucky, and she wasn’t about to let that love go anytime soon…
Days later as Claudia Maxine Evans
turned one years old. Max got down on his knee and popped the question, “Will you Liz Parker do me the giant honor of becoming my wife.”
“YES!” she said as the crowd went wild. Claudia being held by her newfound grandmother Evans reacted by reaching out to be held by her father. In the previous days Claudia had melted and fallen for her father, and Max took to fatherhood like it was a dream come true and now as he held his little girl, well, he felt a tremendous love for both his daughter and her mother and he didn’t know how he could have gotten this lucky as he and Liz stood and kissed.
Only mere months later, on New Year’s Eve and in a winter wonderland Liz walked down the aisle and married her Prince Charming in her royal and regal wedding dress she tried on that day. She kissed Max under the glistening snow as they walked out of the small chapel as Maria handed her Claudia who looked up at her parents with plenty of giggles in her green dress, as the three walked into a new future together!
Against all odds…
Thank you all very much for the support you gave to this story that was pretty angsty, and yet I hope it showed how much Max and Liz were in love with each other. It started as a strange tale in the vein of a major subplot of Ghost Whisperer in Season 4 and 5 which I guess was a ode to Chant Down Babylon LOL. Anyways, I just couldn't figure it out and so it morphed into a more realistic tale and it worked pretty well with the facts as we knew them to be... Anyways, thank you again. And this was always a simple story without going to any other avenues so I hope you're content with the ending...)