Serendipity(Every Path Leads..) (AU, ML / Mature) (Complete)

This is the gallery for the winners of the fanfic awards to show off their fics, and their banners!

Moderators: Itzstacie, Forum Moderators

User avatar
Majesty
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Serendipity(Every Path Leads..) (AU, ML / Mature) (Complete)

Post by Majesty » Tue Aug 26, 2003 11:00 pm

Winner - Round 4

Image

Image

Image
Tess

Image

Title: Serendipity (Every Path Leads to You)
Category: M/L F/F AU End of the World-ish yet not...oh forget it, just read on.
Rating: R (mostly for language).
Disclaimer: They're not mine. I just like to play with them. I'll give them back when I'm done.
Summary: Liz changed the future and set a course that led to yet another disastrous ending, the death of Alex, Max's betrayal, Tess getting pregnant and eventually the death of all who they love. Max takes a risk and goes back to stop the shooting in the Crashdown before it happens, but he couldn't have known what lay in store for them.


This was supposed to be a Christmas short story, but you know how that goes. :roll: The good news is that this story is basically complete, except for an epilogue. Can't guarantee the quality, but it wasn't for lack of trying over the past 9 months. I will be returning now to my other abandoned fics, now that this one is finally out of my head.

Special thanks to Gigo for plowing through a big portion of this at once. I don't know how she did it, but I am forever thankful. :)


You Only Live Twice - Coldplay

You only live twice or so it seems,
One life for yourself and one for your dreams.
You drift through the years and life seems tame,
Till one dream appears and love is its name.

And love is a stranger who'll beckon you on,
Don't think of the danger or the stranger is gone.

This dream is for you, so pay the price.
Make one dream come true, you only live twice.

And love is a stranger who'll beckon you on,
Don't think of the danger or the stranger is gone.
This dream is for you, so pay the price.
Make one dream come true, you only live twice.


Prologue

2014 - The Granolith Chamber

The very walls seemed to rumble with the force of the approaching ship. The destruction of Earth as they knew it was at hand, and there was nothing that could be done to stop it.

This was their last stand, their last chance to change their fate and the fate of the people they loved.

"I won't leave you," Max said in desperation.

"No, no, no. Max, you have to," Liz pleaded.

She looked into his eyes as he pulled her close and saw the torment that waged a battle in his heart at leaving her behind.

"If I'm successful, if I can do this, you and I won't exist. Not as we do now," he said.

She knew that everything rode on her convincing him that he had no choice.

"Max, if you don't do this, we're gonna die. Everyone will. Max, you have to do this. You have to try it," she said with a conviction she hoped rang in her voice.

"I'll never see you again," he said in an anguished voice.

They were still for a moment, realizing the enormity of what they were about to do.

"Thank you," he said quietly.

"For what?" she asked.

"For every kiss, every smile," answered, willing her to see the love that had carried him through some of the worst times he could remember.

"Max, I don't have any regrets," she said.

Max activated the Granolith, inserting a crystal into the base of it.

A flash of light bathed the room, and he reappeared within the walls of the Granolith.

Liz stared up at his wavering form, praying for the strength she would need to face her last moments alone.

He put his hand out to touch the skin of the Granolith, and she raised her hand toward it.

The whirring of the Granolith grew brighter, and Max's form was washed out by the myriad of color bursting from it's interior.

The force of its power knocked Liz to the ground.

She was alone.

"Max!" she cried, looking around the chamber.



2010 - Desert Chamber - California

"It's over Max. Everything still wound up the same," Liz whispered.

She lay on the floor, the blood on her white shirt a stark contrast against the absence of color of her unnaturally pale skin.

Max leaned over her, tears brimming in his eyes. She touched his face.

"Everything you gave up, every sacrifice you made, it was all for nothing," he said angrily. "How could I have been so stupid? How could any future version of me have thought that the only answer was for us to be apart?" he asked.

"I love you so much," Liz panted. "I wish that...things could have been different."

"You listened to me the last time. It didn't work," Max said, shaking his head.

"Trust your own heart Max. You'll know what to do," she whispered.

"I don't want to leave you," he pleaded.

"Nothing is going to stop what's happening to me here. Go..." she said.

He lay his head on her chest, feeling her waning heartbeat against his ear.

"I can't," he whispered, his voice cracking.

"You can...you have to," she said.

He leaned up to place a long lingering kiss on her lips.

"What if I make things worse?" he asked, needing her reassurance.

"You can't," Liz gasped.

"I'll always love you, but you have to stop the shooting. You have to," she said.

"It means I'll never have known you, never have loved you," he said.

"Max, no one knows what the future holds. But this is our only chance. Once the shooting happened, there was no tearing us apart, even after Alex...even after Tess. It has to be changed before the shooting happened, before I saw into your soul and fell in love," she said.

"Liz, please, I don't know if I can do this," he said.

He brushed her hair off of her forehead, and she coughed violently, blood trickling from the corner of her mouth.

"Do it. Do it for all of us Max," she whispered.

Max stroked her face, tears flowing freely.

Her breathing slowed and then stopped.

"No," he sobbed. "Liz..."

His kissed her, knowing it would be for the last time.

He gathered her to his chest, rocking her.

An hour later her body growing cold, he laid her down gently and stood, looking at the Granolith.

She was right. It was the only way. But would his heart survive not ever knowing Liz Parker as he did now? Would he know what he had missed?

He'd made so many mistakes. He'd hurt so many people.

Now it was time to make amends, even if it meant that he would never know Liz Parker's heart.

He walked over to the Granolith and slid the crystal into its base.

A brilliant flash of light bathed the chamber, and he was inside.

He could see his beloved lying on the floor.

His Liz, his beautiful Liz.

His hand trembled as he raised it to the inside wall of the Granolith, wanting to touch her one more time.

And then he simply vanished.


******

December 16, 2007

*~Liz~*

Liz Parker walked amidst the bustling crowd heading downtown on Fifth Avenue. The air had taken on a chill as the sun went down, and she could see her breath blowing out in small puffs before her face. She shivered a bit, and put her gloved hands in her pockets.

All around her people were readying for the holidays, laden with bags and packages, eager to get home to loved ones.

The bells of the Salvation Army volunteers rang through the air, accompanied by the muffled Christmas music that changed tune as she walked past each store.

Windows were decorated festively, keeping in tradition with the city's transformation at the holidays.

Liz sighed as she continued on. The holidays hadn't been easy the past three years without her parents. But with Maria, Alex and Kyle coming to spend Christmas with her this year, maybe things would be a little better.

Her heart felt heavy as she thought of her mom and dad, both killed in a fire at the Crashdown while she was away at Harvard her sophomore year. It happened right before she was supposed to come home for Christmas break.

The funerals were held a week before Christmas, and most of the town came. Her family was well-liked by most of the community.

Blurred faces all seemed to run together as she recalled that dark time.

In her grief, she remembered the arbitrary faces of some of her classmates over the two days of the wake, and Liz received offers of all kinds of help

But she didn't want any help. She wanted to be away from the pain, as far away as she could get.

She felt as if she were suffocating. She left to come back to school right after the burials. She didn't tell anyone she was leaving.

For three weeks, she locked herself in her bedroom in the apartment she'd shared with three other room-mates. Only Lydia remained at the apartment through the holidays, having lost her parents in a car accident a few years before.

She had tried to talk to Liz, tried to let her know that she understood what she was going through, but Liz wouldn't open her door. She barely got out of bed, making sure she left her room only when she knew Lydia was out. She didn't answer calls, and she barely ate.

She lay in a darkened room, dreading when classes would start again, not knowing if she would be able to function.

A week before classes were to start again, a bright sliver of light shone on her face from the open doorway.

She squinted and threw her blankets over her head.

"Lizzie," a voice said, and the blankets were pulled off of her head.

A cool hand touched her cheek and she closed her eyes.

This was just a bad dream, she thought. They aren't really here.

"Jesus Alex, look at her," she whispered.

"Lizzie sweetie, come on, let's get you out of bed," she said.

"Leave me alone," Liz answered in a flat voice, turning over.

"Liz you can't just lie in that bed forever," Alex said.

"Yes, I can," she mumbled, pulling the sheet over her head.

She felt herself being forcefully lifted from the bed.

"Leave me alone," Liz screamed, trying to kick her captor and failing miserably with the sheets tangled around her legs.

"Sorry, no can do," Alex replied, avoiding her attacks with relative ease..

Liz felt herself being carried out of the room, and she growled, hitting Alex in the back.

"Let me down!" she snarled.

"It's for your own good," Maria said.

Then she felt the cold porcelain beneath her back as she was dumped into the bathtub. She launched herself at them, trying to get out, but Maria had held her there.

"I hate you!" she screamed. "I hate you both! Leave me alone!"

She pushed against Maria but Maria only threw her arms around her, holding her in place.

And then a cold stream of water slammed on her head and she howled. Tears started to fall, tears she hadn't shed for her parents, for all that she'd lost.

Maria held her and Alex stroked her hair, both getting thoroughly soaked as Liz's sobs escalated into heart-wrenching wails.

A half hour later, cleaner and in warm clothes, Maria borrowing some of hers and Alex in one of her male room-mates jeans and t-shirt, Liz sat at the kitchen table while Alex made her some soup.

"Feel better?" Maria asked.

Liz nodded.

"Thanks," she said in a hoarse voice.

"You needed to get that out," Maria said.

"I know," Liz answered.

In that instant she realized that they'd traveled halfway across the country.

"What are you guys doing here?" she asked.

"Your room-mate Lydia called. She was worried, and she didn't know what to do," Alex said setting a hot bowl in front of Liz.

"Oh God, I'm sorry," she said, putting her head in her hands.

"Liz, don't shut us out like that again," Maria said. "You left without a word, and didn't return any of our phone calls. You had us so worried."

"I couldn't stay," Liz said, her eyes filling up again. "I couldn't...I just couldn't face anybody. I couldn't deal with it. The funeral...I know people meant well, but..."

"I know," Maria said, taking her hand, "but you have to snap out of this. Do you think this is what your parents would want? Do you think that they'd be happy seeing you like this?"

"I know," Liz said, her voice trembling.

"I'm going to stay with you for awhile," Maria said decisively.

"Maria no," Liz started to protest.




"Liz, don't argue with her. You know how she gets. Besides, without the Crashdown, she'd be stuck working with her mom, and you know how that would go," he said.

"It'll be great Liz," Maria said. "I can get a job, maybe do some singing...hey, you never know, I might be discovered!"

"I don't know," Liz said doubtfully.

"Come on, it'll be a blast," Maria coaxed.

"She isn't going to take no for an answer, so you might as well just give it up now," Alex said dryly, and Maria punched him.

"Ow!" he said, rubbing his arm.

"So it's settled," Maria said, turning to her. "Where do I sleep?"


*****

Maria had stayed in Boston with her until she'd graduated, and when Liz had been offered a job at Sloane Kettering as a laboratory assistant, they both decided to make the move.

Alex had finished his bachelors at Northwestern and was now attending graduate school at NYU. He kept a separate apartment, feeling the need to refrain from the "estrogen overload" he knew would be a given had he stayed with Liz and Maria.

Ironically enough, Maria *was* on the verge of being discovered. After a year and a half of singing in various dives around the city, a scout had taken interest in her work.

Liz put off attending graduate school for the time being. She had loans to pay, and she was burnt out after her four years at Harvard. She'd needed a break.

For most of the year, Liz kept herself occupied, but this time of year always brought melancholy to her normally busy life.

Maria said she needed a man to take her mind off of things. Alex always rolled his eyes when she said it.

The last time Maria had gone on her boyfriend rant, Alex had taken her aside afterward.

"You're special Lizzie, and someone so special deserves a love that will last a lifetime. There's nothing wrong in refusing to settle for anything but that kind of love," he said, giving her a hug.

She knew that Maria wanted her to be happy.

Hell, *she* wanted to be happy. But her work had become such a big part of her life, she'd barely had time for anything else.

But how pathetic was she, that her last long-term relationship had been Kyle Valenti back in high school? She knew he wasn't "the one", and they'd broken it off the summer after graduation, but she and he still remained close friends. In fact, she was excited that he was coming out to see them. It had been ages since she'd seen him. In fact, the last time she had was at her parents' funeral.

She sighed as she watched a couple walk by, laughing at their own secret joke, their hands entwined, bumping against each other with the easy familiarity of lovers.

A pang of yearning echoed through her melancholy heart.

She'd resigned herself to the possibility that she'd never find "the one". Wasn't it all just a fairy tale anyway? She'd been obsessed with Romeo and Juliet in her high school years, but the time that had passed had made her a bit cynical. After all, it all ended up badly for the star-crossed lovers, didn't it? Maybe true love wasn't all it was cracked up to be after all. School-girl crushes quickly became folly under the glaring reality of adult life. She'd only had one, and it was stupid. The boy had barely even glanced her way, though Maria wanted her to think differently.

No, she had not found that soul-searing love of her life, and she was starting to think that that kind of love didn't exist anyway. But something still held her back from taking that first step with anyone. It was almost as if she were waiting, looking for something, someone...

It was a crazy ideal, she admonished. Maria was right, she had to grow up and face reality.

Liz descended the stairs to the subway platform. A mournful version of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" echoed against the walls, amplifying the horn's noises, somehow making it seem even sadder.

She turned the corner just as the song ended, seeing the man against the wall with his case open on the floor. She dug in her pocket and threw in a few dollars.

"Merry Christmas, Miss," the man said with a smile.

"You too," Liz answered, starting to turn away.

"It's all gonna be looking up for you soon, Miss," he called out, and she turned back to look at him.

"I've got a sense for these things," he said, with a nod, and she turned with a wave back toward the turnstile.

She shook her head, rueful, as she swiped her Metro-Card and walked through.

If only it were that simple. If only people could see the future. But the future always held surprises, whether people liked it or not.

She stood on the platform, leaning against one of the columns, waiting for the sound of the approaching train.

She barely registered the argument happening not far from her, so used to the bedlam and noise that was such a part of city life. Sometimes it was better to remain oblivious to the talk of others around you, and safer.

Sometimes hearing the wrong thing could threaten your life.

She pulled her headphones out of her pocket and put them over her ears, turning on the mp3 player in her pocket. Maria had given her the new demo a few days ago and now seemed a good time to listen to it. She had enough of her own problems to deal with. She just wasn't in the mood to hear about this pair's drug deal gone bad.

"Don't give me any shit! I ain't doin' it until I get the money!" a harsh voice said.

"You'll do it, and you'll do it now," another voice hissed.

"Oh no you didn't! You didn't just threaten me..."

"I'll do more than just threaten you if you don't get your ass in gear NOW!"

"Fuck you man, fuck you," the other hissed, shoving him.

Liz remained with her eyes closed, barely hearing the scuffle, instead focusing on Maria's smooth alto voice. She really was amazing. Liz could just tell that she was going to go places. Maria always lamented that she'd be forever a waitress, but Liz knew she was so much more than that. She was bright, talented and funny, and she couldn't wait to be standing there behind the scenes when Maria came out onstage for her first big debut. She had no doubt it was going to happen, despite Maria's insecurities, and she just knew that it would be one of the happiest memories she would have. She was so proud of her.

"You want some of this?" the first man shouted, backing up as the other advanced on him.

"You want a piece of me? Well bring it on muthafucka!" he finished, as the other drew a knife.

"I'll fuck you up," the other growled, and the other laughed.

"You ain't got the balls!" he said.

"Aiight, you asked fo' what you get," the second man said as he launched himself at the first man.

Liz heard a shriek and opened her eyes.

Everything seemed to move in slow motion. She saw the flash of the metal blade and a dark shape move toward the man standing with his back to her. The man jumped aside and her eyes widened as she felt the razor sharp metal slice through her coat straight into her stomach. The man's eyes widened in disbelief.

"I'm sorry Lady. I'm sorry. I need my fix," he whispered, pulling the knife back in reflex. She gasped as she slid down the column, Maria's voice still crooning through the headphones.

"Come on G! We gotta get the fuck outta here!"

Liz felt her vision blur as she watched the men run away from her.

People were running. What were they running from? It was getting so dark.

The burning was eating away at her insides, and she was tired, so tired....

She felt pressure on her thighs, heard the panicked cries as if from a distance.

Warm hands on her face.

She felt her eyes roll back into her head.

"Someone call an ambulance!" a woman shouted.

"Open your eyes. You're going to be all right, just open your eyes, and look at me. You have to look at me," an urgent voice whispered.

Something pulled her back.

It hurts, she thought.

She squinted, trying to focus on the dark shape above her.

The halogen light behind the face was blinding. The figure shifted and her eyes locked on the stranger's. They were filled with tears.

Beautiful.

"Are you an angel?" she slurred.

"No," he replied. "Look at me. Everything is going to be all right."

She felt warmth in her stomach, comforting warmth that took the burning away.

A soft gasp echoed in her ears.

It came from the stranger, her angel.

The eyes were so clear, so filled with pain. It was the only thing she could focus on. She couldn't look away. She could see every lash that framed them clearly. She saw his pupils dilate. His breathing seemed to become labored.

Was she dying? She thought.

It didn't feel as if she was. The burning was fading away.

A sense of calm and clarity came over her as the pain completely faded.


A harsh voice broke the trance she was in as her angel's eyes were suddenly ripped away from hers.

"Get out of the way!"

And he was gone.

"Wait!" she gasped, trying to focus her eyes in the direction he'd been dragged.

"Lady, just lie still," a voice commanded and her head snapped toward it.

"Go after him!" the officer yelled.

"No!" she said, trying to struggle free of the officer's grip. She caught a flash of an olive green trench coat, long dark hair and converse sneakers, and then he was gone.

"He didn't do anything! He was trying to help...I," her hand went to her stomach on instinct, expecting to feel blood, expecting to feel a wound.

But there was nothing.

*******

The two men moved toward the woman standing in an alley not far away from the subway stairs.

"The money bitch! Give us the money! We gotta get outta here!" the one man yelled impatiently.

The woman handed it over without argument, and they took off toward the opposite end.

"Well done gentleman," she said in a low voice. "It is time the King gets what he deserves."

TBC....
Last edited by Majesty on Wed Jan 07, 2004 3:32 pm, edited 47 times in total.

User avatar
Majesty
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Serendipity Part One & A/N

Post by Majesty » Wed Aug 27, 2003 1:06 pm

I haven't posted a new story in such a long time that it's making me nervous, LOL. I am posting this on a few boards, so I will post the another part later on to catch you all up. After that, the posts will be regular, probably either weekly or bi-weekly. This story's finished, but it was a difficult one for me to write, as I once again try to find some ending that satisfies me, as opposed to the show's ending. It will incorporate a lot of things from the show's storyline.

I've been reading the "Can Fan Fic Redeem Max?" thread on the Fan Fic Discussion board. I am not sure that any story that's a canon to S2 and/or S3 can ever redeem Max, however I can't seem to stop trying. This story will reference the show's storyline, just as a warning. However, I'm sure y'all know by now that I can't stand Tess, so take it from there.

Here's Part One. Part Two will be posted later tonight.


In My Place - Coldplay

In my place, in my place,
Were lines that I couldn't change,
I was lost, oh yeah.

I was lost, I was lost,
Crossed lines I shouldn't have crossed,
I was lost, oh yeah.

And yeah, how long must you wait for it?
Yeah, how long must you pay for it?
Yeah, how long must you wait for it?

I was scared, I was scared,
Tired and under prepared,
But I wait for it.

And if you go, if you go,
Leave me down here on my own,
Then I'll wait for you, yeah.

Yeah, how long must you wait for it?
Yeah, how long must you pay for it?
Yeah, how long must you wait for it?
Oh for it

Sing it please, please, please,
Come back and sing to me,
To me, me.

Come on and sing it out, now, now.
Come on and sing it out
To me, me
Come back and sing.

In my place, in my place,
Were lines that I couldn't change,
I was lost, oh yeah.
Oh yeah.


Part One

*~Liz~*

Liz walked into her apartment in a daze.

She was still trying to comprehend what had happened.

She slumped on the couch, exhausted.

After hours at the police station, having time to think about it, she still had no easy answers.

She'd been stabbed with that knife.

She was dying. She was certain of it.

But how could she have been? Was it just shock? Could she have been wrong?

Her mind cried out against it, but there was no other explanation.

But then who was the stranger, the man she'd come to think of as her angel? Why did he run?

She didn't get a good look at his features. She only remembered his eyes. They were burned into her consciousness. She could see them whenever she closed her own.

She'd seen his tattered clothes as he fled, long hair unkempt, matted.

By all appearances, he was homeless, probably one of the thousands who lived throughout the city.

But something about him haunted her. Something tickled her mind like a long-forgotten dream.

A miracle had happened on that dirty subway platform among everyday people, and none of them knew it. They knew what they thought they saw, but their minds had already told them they had to be mistaken. After all, what other explanation could there be? The statements gave by the eyewitnesses were that the man must have fallen into her, missing her with the knife by inches. Her story was similar to theirs.

What else could she have said? She felt the life draining out of her body, but some homeless man came along and made it all ok?

They would have locked her up as a lunatic, and if she were in their shoes, she would have done the very same thing after hearing her story.

She had no proof.

But the thing was, she already knew in her mind that even if she had, she would have still told the very same story she'd repeated probably one hundred times tonight.

What happened tonight was something important, something life-changing. Maybe it was something that wasn't meant to be shared with strangers.

She had been given a second chance, and for all the heartache she'd had over the past three years, she knew it meant something. Maybe there was a reason it happened.

Maybe...she was saved for some purpose. Maybe she was saved so that she could save someone else.

Hell yeah that sounded cheesy, especially at the holidays, but something told her it was true.

Was he an angel, sent by some higher being?

Her scientific mind told her no, but there was also no scientific proof that people could heal each other. It had been said that people could heal themselves with the power of the mind, but nowhere had it ever been scientifically documented that a person could physically heal another person.

So what other alternative could there be?

No. No...

It all sounded so crazy. The whole thing was crazy, she argued to herself.

Maybe it was a shock-induced hallucination.

Maybe her mind had tricked her into seeing something that wasn't there. Maybe he'd just woken her up. Maybe he just happened to be the person that was there when she came to.

Shaking her head, she took off her jacket and threw it on the floor, thinking a shower would clear the imaginary dirt from her body and the mud from her mind.

She went into her room and kicked off her shoes.

Wait till she told Maria and Alex about this.

Maria would surely freak, though she was more apt to believe it than Alex.

Maria believed in the unknown, that things could happen that just couldn't be explained. It was probably a by-product of growing up in Roswell and living under the roof of the alien merchandising queen, aka Amy Deluca.

Alex however, would be able to find some plausible explanation. Alex would set her mind at ease.

A bit relieved at that thought, she pulled her socks off and flopped on the bed, pulling her sweater over her head.

Maybe when she had some time to think about it and a good night's sleep, things would seem clearer.

She unhooked her bra and picked up her sweater, walking across the room to throw them in her hamper, and her eye caught something in the full-length mirror in the corner.

She froze, her eyes widening.

Slowly, she walked toward the mirror, her mind trying to grasp what her eyes were seeing.

She stopped, putting her right hand to her stomach.

"It can't be," she whispered.

For her hand fit inside the perimeter of a lightly glowing handprint, burning with a silver sheen across her abdomen.

******

She scrubbed at the print furiously in the shower, trying to make it disappear.

She wanted proof, didn't she? Well wasn't this proof?

The hot water scalded her skin and ran down her hair into her eyes as she grabbed more soap, panting in her efforts to remove the mark.

It only resulted in the skin around it growing redder from the irritation of the washcloth.

Feeling her breathing growing erratic, she leaned heavily against the wall, palms pressed against the wet tile, her forehead resting against the wall.

She closed her eyes, trying to calm her racing heart.

It was true. It was all true.

It was a miracle, and the mark a sign.

But what was she supposed to do with it?

*******

Much later, sitting at the kitchen table in her pajamas with a cup of hot tea, she sat and waited for Maria and Alex to come in.

She'd calmed herself sufficiently to realize that this was a gift. A gift not meant to be taken lightly.

She needed the guidance of her friends.

Yes, it was a private thing, but one she couldn't keep from her two closest friends. This was too momentous, too important.

Her mind was already forming ideas, but she pushed them to the back for the moment.

She couldn't consider anything until she talked to Maria and Alex.

A muffled laugh and chattering came from the hall, and she heard the distinctive clomp of Doc Martin's on the stairs and she knew they were back, finally.

She sat up straighter, mentally preparing herself for the coming conversation.

The door opened.

"So then he says, 'Hey sweet mama, how about I take you back to my place and you can test your pipes on mine?'" Maria scoffed, indignant.

"You're kidding," Alex said with wide eyes.

Liz sat and watched their exchange in silence, in the dim of the kitchen light.

"Nope," Maria retorted smugly. "Jack Nicholson is a total dog. Of course no one would believe me if I told them, but I swear it's true. I told him to go home and feed his anorexic freak girlfriend."

"You didn't!" Alex said.

"I did," Maria said, matter of fact, raising her chin.

"I would have kicked his ass," Alex said, trying to look like a badass.

"Yeah, sure," Maria quipped. "Good thing he left ten minutes before you got there, or I can imagine how that would have went."

"What do mean?" Alex asked, indignant.

"Oh nothing, I just remember the last celebrity you ran into at one of my gigs," Maria said, rolling her eyes and throwing her purse on the couch.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," he said, shaking his head.

"Psshh," Maria said, rolling her eyes as she took off her boots.

She paused.

"Does, 'Oh my God Joaquin, I'm your biggest fan! You were awesome in Gladiators. I'll hook you up with her, she's a personal friend of mine' sound familiar?"

"I was drinking," Alex protested.

"You were star-struck," Maria corrected, turning on the light in the kitchen.

"Liz," she said, completely forgetting her conversation.

"What are you still doing up? It's so late," she said, her brow furrowing.

Alex walked into the kitchen and gave her a quick peck on the cheek.

"Hey you," he said, sitting down at the table.

She gave him a wan smile and sighed.

Now that they were here, she didn't know how to begin.

"Couldn't sleep," Liz said, clutching the warm mug.

"Everything all right?" Alex asked.

"Yeah, yeah...no, she said, running her hand through her hair.

"What happened," Maria asked rhetorically, already winding herself up.

"I'm fine Maria," Liz said immediately.

"You're sure," Maria asked with a worried look.

"Yeah, I think so," Liz said.

"'I think so' means something's wrong," Maria said, and Liz could see her ready to fly into panic mode again.

"No Maria, nothing's wrong. I mean, I don't know...look, if I tell you something, you have to promise not to freak out," Liz said in a weary voice.

"What? They laid you off, didn't they? They can't do that! You work five times the hours everyone else there does. Bastards," she cursed. "Don't worry, we'll figure something out. With your scientific brilliance you can get another job in a heartbeat," she said.

"I didn't get fired, Maria," Liz said, looking at Alex for support. Once Maria got on a roll, it was almost impossible to stop her.

His blue eyes twinkled and he winked at her.

"So what then? Is that geek Brad hitting on you again? Because Alex will go over there and kick his ass," she said, completely forgetting her conversation only two minutes before.

'Because you know, there's a thing called sexual harassment, and I know you don't like to make waves, but..."

"It's not Brad Maria," Liz said in a low voice.

Alex looked back and forth between the two of them with his hands folded, his mouth twitching in amusement.

"Well then, if it..." Maria started again.

"MARIA!" Liz said, and Maria's mouth froze poised to launch into her next tirade.

"Zip it," Liz said quietly.

"Ok, sorry," Maria said, shifting in her seat. "Go ahead."

"Tonight when I was waiting for a subway on the platform..."

"Oh...my ...God! You were mugged, weren't you?" Maria said.

"Maria please," Liz half moaned, half whined, resting her forehead on her palm with a weary sigh.

Alex saw the seriousness of Liz's posture, and gave Maria a look, silencing her.

"Go ahead Liz," he prompted.

She lifted her head.

"Tonight when I was waiting for a subway on the platform, there was an argument, and I thought I was stabbed," Liz said.

"I knew it! I knew something bad happened! Are you all right?" Maria practically yelled getting up from her seat.

"I'm fine," Liz answered, shooting a look at her that caused Maria to sink back down into her seat.

There was a pregnant silence in the room for a few seconds.

"The thing is, I think I was stabbed, and someone...some stranger...fixed it," she said in a low voice.

"What do you mean "fixed it", Liz?" Alex asked, confused.

"This is going to sound incredible, and I know it sounds crazy, but there was an argument between two men. I don't know what it was about, maybe drugs. I was trying to ignore it, but it got out of hand, and one of the guys rushed the other with a knife. The guy ducked out of the way, and I was right behind him. I think it was an accident, but I felt the knife...I felt it go into my stomach, and the guy apologized when it happened. I mean he actually apologized," she said.

"I don't understand," Alex said, shaking his head, as he looked over at Maria, whose eyes had filled with worried tears. "Were the police there? Did they take you to get checked out?"

"They would have, if there was something to check out, but there wasn't. Not a mark," Liz said.

"Ok, I'm confused," Alex said.

"After the guy apologized, I started to lose consciousness. I remember sliding down the column I was leaning against, and everything fading. People were screaming, panicking," she said, her voice trembling.

"I thought I was going to die," she continued. "It hurt...a lot. And then someone was calling me, telling me that I had to open my eyes; that I had to look at him. That everything was going to be ok."

She took a shaky breath, for this was the part of the story they'd find hardest to digest.

"I felt this heat in my stomach, and I opened my eyes, and I couldn't see his face. I saw long hair and a beard...dark, and these eyes, these amazing eyes," she said in a faraway voice.

"Whatever he was doing, it was draining him physically. I could hear it in his breathing," she said.

"The pain went away. Then a cop yelled at him to get out of the way. I think for a minute they thought he'd done it," she said.

"Then they grabbed him, and he ran off. One of the other cops went after him, but he was gone," she said. "He looked like...like he was homeless."

"He did something to me. He healed that stab wound," Liz finished in a whisper.

Maria sat looking at her with wide eyes.

Again all was silent in the kitchen.

"Maybe you hit your head," Alex said finally. "The mind can do crazy things when you get a traumatic blow to the head."

Liz shook her head.

"I didn't hit my head Alex. When I stood up, I was fine. Shaky, but fine. Believe me, that same thought occurred to me too," she said, looking at him.

"So, you think this guy...this stranger, just healed you with some super-power?" Maria asked, biting her lip.

"I don't know about super-powers, but he did something," Liz answered.

"It's the Christmas Miracle," Maria burst out suddenly.

"What?" Alex and Liz said in unison.

"Every year around Christmas, there's a miracle. I've seen it on the news. It's like, one happens every year. Don't you remember Alex? There were those kids that were healed like four years ago in Las Cruces. They all had cancer and on Christmas morning, they woke up and they were cured," Maria said, nodding her head.

"Maria, that was a media ploy," Alex said in disgust. "That also showed up in the National Enquirer. You don't actually believe that crap do you?"

"As a matter of fact I do, Mr. Grinch!" she snapped.

"Guys, please," Liz pleaded. "I don't know what it was, but something happened," Liz said.

"There has to be some logical explanation for it," Alex said.

"Alex, you're always the voice of reason, and I was kind of counting on that, but this time...it's different," she said.

"The mind can do some crazy things Liz," Alex said, trying to placate her.

"Yeah I know that, but that wasn't it," Liz answered. "It wasn't a trick my mind was playing on me."

"Liz I know it might have seemed real, but..." Alex started.

"No Alex," she said standing up.

"If it's something in my head, then tell me what your mind says about this," she said, lifting up her tank to reveal her stomach.

Alex's brow furrowed, and Maria's eyes grew as wide as saucers.

"It....it could be paint," Alex said, moving closer.

"It doesn't come off," Liz said. "And it doesn't look like paint. This is right where I was stabbed."

"See, it's the Christmas miracle," Maria said, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Maria!" Alex snapped.

"No Alex, she's right. It was a miracle," she said. "Look at my jacket. Look at my sweater," she said, going over to the counter and picking them up, throwing them in front of him.

Alex picked them up and put his finger through the tattered hole in her sweater.

"It's torn Alex. With a rip like that I would have had at least a gash, if not more," she said quietly.

Alex put his head in his hands and ran his fingers through his hair.

"So, if what you're saying is true, if this...guy healed you, what are you going to do? Maybe you should be checked out by a doctor," he said.

"And what would I say? I was mortally wounded, and by the way someone came along and brought me back to life, and hey can you tell me what this is?" she said sarcastically, pointing at the handprint on her stomach.

"Come on Alex, you know the drill. Either they'd think I was crazy, or I'd be poked and prodded only to find myself on the cover of Weekly World News," she scoffed.

"But what if what this person did, like change you or something? What if somewhere along the line you get sick or something?" he asked, worried.

"Maybe he's right Liz," Maria said. "Maybe you should get checked out."

"No!" Liz snapped. "I'm fine!"

"For now," Alex added.

"Look, if I start to feel weird or start to feel like crap, I'll go, but I feel perfectly fine," Liz said, pacing the kitchen.

"I don't think this was meant for anyone else's eyes," Liz sighed. "I can just feel it."

"Promise me, promise that if you feel anything strange, you'll get checked out," Alex said, sitting straighter in his chair.

"I will, I promise," Liz said, sitting down in her chair.

Maria gave Alex a knowing look.

"Liz...if you aren't going to tell anyone, what are you going to do?" Maria asked, leaning forward on her elbows.

"I mean, what if this guy was like meant to do this for you or something. What if it was fate? What if he was sent for a reason?" she asked.

"I thought about that too. After what happened to my parents, and this...funk I've been in, I feel like I've been woken up. Like I've been walking around, just going through the motions. I feel like I've been given this second chance, and I have to figure out what to do with it," she said, pushing her hair behind her ears.

"So what's the plan?" Alex asked, not sure if he believed what Liz thought happened, but ready to encourage her to really get back into the land of the living.

"I need to find him," Liz said.

"What?" Alex exclaimed, standing up.

"That's crazy. It's dangerous, I mean who knows what this guy might do to you? You said he looked homeless. You don't know if he's on drugs, or if he's like some psycho or something. I know you believe he saved you Liz, but that’s just insane!" he said, exasperated.

"He wouldn't hurt me," Liz said quietly, looking at her hands. "I don't know how I know it, but I do. He wouldn't do anything to hurt me."

Alex gave Maria a pleading look. She had to back him up on this.

"Liz, maybe he did give you a second chance," Maria said gently, "but maybe that's all it was supposed to be. Maybe he doesn't want to be found."

"No, there's something I'm supposed to do," Liz argued. "I need...I need to at least thank him."

Alex leaned against the counter.

"If it was a miracle, the thanks was in you taking another breath and living to see another day," Maria said.

"Let it go Liz. Sometimes things aren't meant to have an explanation. You don't even really know what he looks like. There are thousands of homeless people in the city. The chances of you finding him are slim to none."

"I can't just let it go!" Liz said, defiant. " I have to do something."

She turned to Alex.

"You don't even really believe that it actually happened, do you?" she asked.

He was silent for a moment.

I believe that you believe it," Alex said.

"Liz, please...we're going to have a great Christmas. Kyle is coming in, and we're going to make this one a blast. I don't want to have to worry about you going to look under bridges for some bum. Please, promise me that you aren't going to do anything stupid."

Liz sighed in irritation, knowing that if she didn't concede, Alex wouldn't let her out of his sight.

"Ok fine, I promise, I won't go looking under bridges for bums," she grumbled finally.

Alex came over and gave her a hug.

Maria stood.

"You," she said, pointing at Alex, "out. Go home and get some sleep."

"And you..." she said, pointing at Liz, "my bed, now. I want to be right next to you if anything weird happens tonight."

Liz nodded and said goodnight to Alex, her mind already racing with possibilities as she climbed into Maria's bed.

She'd promised not to go looking under bridges, but that didn't cover the shelters.

She knew she wouldn't be able to move on until she found her angel, and some much-needed answers.

User avatar
Majesty
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Part Two

Post by Majesty » Wed Aug 27, 2003 9:19 pm

This part will have everybody on all the boards caught up to the same place. I will definitely be posting a part per weekend, and maybe a part during the week here and there.

Enjoy.





A Whisper – Coldplay

A whisper, a whisper, a whisper, a whisper
A whisper, a whisper, a whisper, a whisper

I hear the sound of the ticking of clocks
Who remembers your face
Who remember you when you are gone

I hear the sound of the ticking of clocks
Come back and look for me, look for me
When I am lost

Just a whisper, a whisper, a whisper, a whisper
Just a whisper, a whisper, a whisper, a whisper

Night turns to day
And I still have these questions
Bridges will break
Should I go forwards or backwards.
Night turns to day,
And I still get no answers

Just a whisper, a whisper, a whisper, a whisper
Just a whisper, a whisper, a whisper, a whisper

I hear the sound of the ticking of clocks
Who remember your face
Who remembers you when you are gone

I hear the sound of the ticking of clocks
Come back and look for me, look for me
When I am lost

Just a whisper, a whisper, a whisper, a whisper
Just a whisper, a whisper, a whisper, a whisper


Part Two

December 22, 2007

*~Liz~*

Liz watched, morose, as Maria rushed around the apartment gathering her things for her gig.

"I'm so late," Maria muttered, picking up her lyric book.

"Hon, I have a feeling the gig is going to run late tonight, so I'll be home late, maybe not at all depending on whether Alex lets me crash at his place. It's closer, and I have to get up early for work tomorrow. God, I dream of the days when I can sleep late whenever I want," she paused, moaning.

"It'll happen Maria," Liz said with a wan smile. "Soon enough you'll be partying all night and sleeping all day, making obscene amounts of money."

"Can't happen soon enough," Maria grumbled, shrugging her jacket on.

She glanced and Liz and tilted her head, a heavy sigh escaping her lips.

"Are you still pissed off at me?" she asked with puppy dog eyes.

"No," Liz said, looking down at her fingers. "You're probably right. Maybe I wasn't meant to find him."

The morning after the subway incident, she'd woken early and called in sick to work for the first time since she'd started her job.

Without waking Maria, she dressed and logged on to the computer, searching for a list of homeless shelters located within the city.

She knew it was a long shot, but it was a start.

She printed out a list and bundled up, heading to mid-town, and the first address on her list.

Hours later, tired and frustrated, she realized firsthand how hard it was to try to find someone without a photo or clear description.

Though the volunteers at the shelters tried to be helpful, they also tried to make her face reality.

"Do you have any idea how many people we have here with dark hair and brown eyes? In fact, even the most of the blondes look brunette from living out on the streets," the last woman she spoke to had said.

Her angel's description stuck out in no one's mind.

She found that most of the homeless left the shelters during the day, returning after nightfall to sleep.

Tired and discouraged, she headed home to get something to eat.

Maria was waiting for her, hands on her hips when she walked in the door.

"What? Maria I had a long day," Liz said with an exasperated sigh.

"Feeling better?" Maria asked.

"I'm fine," Liz answered.

"Work problems?" Maria asked, brow raised.

"You could say that," Liz said.

"Really," Maria said, following her into the kitchen.

"Did you get lost or something? Cause I don't see how work could have been a problem when you
weren't even there today!" Maria said, raising her voice.

Liz opened the refrigerator, and pulled out a can of soda, walking past Maria without a glance, sitting down at the table.

But Maria didn't give up that easily.

"Missy, you got some 'splainin' to do," she said, with a warning look.

"Maria, let it go, please," Liz said wearily.

"You were out there looking for him, weren't you? After you promised me and Alex!" she exclaimed.

"I only promised not to look under bridges," Liz answered lamely.

"That's a technicality, and you know it!" Maria said, sitting down in front of her.

Liz dropped her head on her forearms.

"Don't worry Maria, I didn't find him," she answered, her voice muffled by her arms.

She felt a comforting hand on her head and she looked up to see Maria's eyes had softened.

"We're only worried about you Liz," she said softly.

"I know that," Liz answered, running her hand through her hair. "It's just...I can't get him out of my mind."

"Understandable," Maria said, pondering the situation.

She rested her cheek on her hand.

"But do you understand where we're coming from?" Maria asked.

"Alex doesn't even believe it happened," Liz said.

"I don't know what he thinks, but whatever he's thinking, he's still right. If you had a brain-burp, and he didn't heal you and just happened to be the one you saw when you came to, who knows what he could be like? He could be a druggie, or something worse," Maria said.

"And even if you're right, and he did heal you, chances are he doesn't
want to be found. Think about it," she said.

"He doesn't know you at all, or what you might do. I'm pretty sure with that kind of gift, he knows what could happen if anyone did find him," Maria continued.

"The thing is Liz, you have take it for what it was, and take from it what you need, and move on," she said.

"I know you feel like you have to thank him, and Jesus, if he did actually do what you think he did, I can completely relate," she said with a half-incredulous laugh.

"But I don't think it's going to happen," she finished in soft sympathy. Liz lowered her eyes.

"Let fate handle it," Maria said. "If he means for you to see him again, you will. But don't go running around looking for him. It's too dangerous."

Liz nodded, disconsolate.

Maybe Maria was right. Maybe she wasn't meant to find him. Maybe he didn't want to be found.

"I'm not even going to tell Alex about this," Maria said, sitting up straight. "You know how he gets. You won't even be able to pee in peace. It's a good thing he was locked in a meeting all day, because you would have been dealing with both of us. He doesn't know you weren't at work. He called here during his lunch break when he couldn't reach you to check up on you and I told him you were probably swamped."

As if on cue, the phone rang.

Maria answered. She listened in silence for a moment.

"Yep," she said, and handed the phone to Liz.

Liz spent the next few minutes convincing Alex that she was ok. No, she didn't need to see a doctor. No, she felt fine. Yes, the mark was still there. No, she didn't tell anyone at work.

Finally she was able to get off the phone, after again reassuring Alex she was all right.

"I've got to go," Maria said, picking up her coat and keys. She walked toward the door, opened it, and paused.

"Promise me you won't go out looking for this guy Liz. Really promise me this time," Maria said, with a knowing look.

Liz sighed.

"I promise," she said.

"'K, I'll see you later then. If you need anything, call the restaurant," Maria added.

Liz flopped on the couch, pulling her legs up.

She rubbed her stomach absently, thinking of the stranger's eyes that seemed as if they'd seared her soul.

The mark was the only thing she had to keep herself from believing she was crazy. She pulled her sweater up to look at it.

Her brow furrowed.

It had faded. It was just a little bit, but enough for her to be sure that it had.

She felt an irrational fear at this revelation. The mark was going to go away, and if it went away, then there would be no way to prove it ever happened.

She panicked for a moment, and then jumped up and padded over to the hall closet, pulling out a Polaroid camera.

She carried it into her room, and stood in front of the mirror. Pulling her sweater up and rolling it underneath so that it revealed her stomach, she paused aimed the camera at the mirror and snapped the picture.

The print slid out of the front, and she walked over to the bed and sat down to wait for it to develop.

Slowly the membrane went from black to gray, and then to a funny green as the photo started to reveal itself. She held it in trembling fingers as the photo darkened.

Tears came to her eyes and she chewed on her lower lip not daring to hope.

The handprint came into view, perfectly defined against her flesh. A trembling smile crossed her lips.

At least she had this, this one thing.


*****

In the days that followed, the print faded and disappeared, but every night, she'd taken the photo out of her nightstand and looked at it, tracing the silvery brand with her fingers.

She had found herself thinking of the man who healed her all the time. She'd even made a few phone calls to shelters, feeling she wasn't really breaking a promise by picking up the phone.

Every call had led to a dead end.

She was frustrated and it showed in her withdrawal around Maria.

If it weren't for her promise she could be out looking for the man who had haunted her dreams for the past five days.

A long time ago, the three had made a vow that if they made a promise to one another, then they had to stick to it.

Liz had pushed the envelope going to the shelters the day after the incident and she felt bad about it, even though Alex didn't know. But that also fed her resentment in making the promise in the first place.

Liz knew that Maria could sense the change, but she didn't say a word about it, until now, and when she did, Liz realized that she had been hurting her friend with her silence.

This was insane. It was the holidays, and she was making it miserable for her. She'd barely seen Alex, as he was trying to wrap up the end of the year at work, and after a few days of her feeling fine, he calmed down with the calls.

It was Maria who saw the melancholy on Liz's face. It was Maria who noticed the silence of her roommate.

"I'm sorry for the way I've been acting Maria," Liz said.

Maria gave her a sad smile with her hand on the door.

"And I'm sorry that he didn't come to find you, for what it's worth," Maria said.

Liz shrugged.

"It's going to be a good Christmas Liz, you'll see," Maria said in sympathy.

She opened the door further.

"Oh, and keep calling the shelters. Maybe with the holidays and all, someone will take pity on your obsession. I'll see you later," she said with a smile shutting the door.

Liz felt her cheeks redden, and she shook her head with a smirk. Maria knew what she'd been up to, and she hadn't said a word.

Liz sighed and leaned back into her chair, her thoughts again drifting to the stranger.

Maybe Maria was right. She was obsessed, and it was getting her nowhere fast.

She got up to go downstairs to get the mail.

She descended the stairs and opened the box taking the envelopes that had been stuffed into it.

She half-heartedly flipped through the bills and junk mail as she walked back up the flight of steps.

A pristine white envelope with her name written in beautiful flowing script caught her eye, and she put it on the top of the pile and went back into the apartment.

The phone rang and she dropped the mail onto the table to pick it up.

"Hey girl, you ready for Valenti?" a voice asked.

"Hey Kyle," she said happily.

"I'm all packed and ready," he said. "You got the women lined up for me?"

She laughed.

"I wouldn't introduce the likes of you to any women I know," she answered.

"I'm offended," he pouted.

"I can't wait to see you," she said. Maybe his presence would take her mind off things for a bit.

"Been awhile, hasn't it?" he asked thoughtfully.

"Too long," Liz answered. "Alex has your flight information, right?"

"Yeah, he only called to double-check it like three times," he answered dryly.

"You know Alex," she said, her attention focusing on the envelope again.

"So I guess I'll see you tomorrow night then," Kyle answered.

"Can't wait," Liz said.

"I feel so loved," he joked.

Then he became serious.

"This is going to be a good Christmas, Parker," he said.

"Yeah," Liz said thoughtfully, "I think it will be."

"Love ya kid. I'll see you tomorrow," Kyle said.

Liz said goodbye, her heart feeling a little lighter after hearing Kyle's voice.

She hung up the phone and sat down at the table, picking up the envelope. The handwriting wasn't familiar.

She carefully opened the envelope and pulled out the neatly folded sheet of bond paper.

Liz,

I would tell you my name, but you wouldn't know it, and it is probably best that way, now that I think about it. There is someone out there that has given you a second chance. That someone saved you in more ways than I have time to explain, and I'm not sure it should be put on paper anyway.

What matters is that he needs you to save him now.

If you're anything like I think you are, you will make the right decision.

What song does your heart sing? Who does it sing for? It's time to find out, if you have the courage.

There is not much time left, and you must take the first step tonight. After tonight, there will be no second chance. I cannot change things again. It's too dangerous.

I know this doesn't make sense at the moment, and it isn't meant to. You have a choice. You can throw this letter out, or you can start the journey to get the answers you seek.

I warn you, you will feel a bit like Alice, climbing into the rabbit-hole. But if you have the courage, and I think you do, go to the corner of 42nd and Broadway. Be there at 7 p.m. You will figure out what to do when you get there.

Merry Christmas. May it be all that you dream of…

S.



This was a sign. It had to be. She felt her heartbeat quicken as she re-read the letter.

Who was "S"? What did he or she know?

Could it be her angel?

She knew that the only way to find an answer was to follow the instructions.

User avatar
Majesty
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Part Three

Post by Majesty » Fri Aug 29, 2003 10:07 pm

Happy Labor Day Weekend everyone. This will probably be the last part I post until next weekend. I am hoping to complete the next part of "To Hell and Back" this weekend. Can't promise anything, but I'm going to try. Anyway, glad you all are enjoying this so far.

Again, a huge thanks to Gigo for being so efficient and a wonderful beta! She went through all of this in less than a week, and I can't thank her enough for taking the time to do it.



Help Is Round The Corner - Coldplay

Stuck here, in the middle of nowhere,
With a head ache, and a heavy heart,
Well nothing was going quite right here,
And I'm tired, I can't play no part.

Oh come on, come on,
Oh what a state I'm in,
Oh come on, come on,
Why won't it just stay here?

Help is just around the corner, for us.

Oh my head won't stop aching,
And I'm sat here, licking my wounds,
I'm shattered,
But it really doesn't matter,
'Cause my rescue is going to be here soon.

Oh come on, come on
What a state, I'm in,
Oh come on, come on,
Why won't it just sink in?

Help is just around the corner, for us,
Help is just around the corner, for us,
Help is just around the corner, for us.



Part Three

*~Liz~*

Liz stood in the epicenter of Times Square searching faces for any sign of her angel. Lights flashed, horns wailed, bells rang. Hordes of people jostled her in their haste to get wherever they needed to be.

She thought of the letter. He needed saving. It must have been he that sent the letter. It had to be.

She knew it was crazy. She knew what it would look like to anyone on the outside.

She, Liz Parker...workaholic, Ms. Sensible, waiting on a corner for a vagrant.

Yet it wasn't crazy to her. For when she looked into those eyes, it awakened something in her.

For two hours she waited, looking for any sign of him, but he never appeared.

Discouraged, she decided finally that he wasn't coming.

Disappointed, she finally started to walk back toward the taxi stand.

The general cacophony of the area barely registered on her senses, her heart feeling like lead in her chest. She'd pinned all of her hopes on this, and it turned out to be for nothing.

On the edge of her line of vision, a light flashed brightly and she turned her head to find its source. There was no strobe, as she had assumed it was, to her left.

Instead her eyes fell upon a small shop she'd never noticed before, nestled in amongst the garish tourist shops.

She paused, deliberating.

Its softly-lit lilac neon sign beckoned to her.

Second Chances

In the window she saw the glimmer of vintage jewelry.

She walked over to the window to get a closer look, and noticed a pair of Marcasite antique earrings that were perfect for Maria. She'd already finished with buying her gifts, but these just seemed to call out to her. It would be her peace offering for being such a bad friend over the past few days.

With a sigh, she took her bag off of her shoulder to see if she had enough cash on her to cover them.

A pedestrian jostled her and she turned as toward them in reflex, she felt her bag being ripped from her hands.

"No!" she yelled, not even thinking about the money. The letter was in it, the only link she had to her angel.

The pickpocket's head was covered with a thick wool ski hat, and she desperately tried to keep her eyes on it as she jostled her way through pedestrians to try to catch him.

He glanced back, saw her coming, and moved even faster, shoving people into the building walls as he ran.

"Please, wait!" she shouted. "You can have the money, I just need my bag!"

But the man kept running and his head ducked out of sight. It took her a few seconds to get to the spot where she'd last seen him, and she looked around, frantic. She turned to her left and saw a silhouetted figure running at the end of an alley between the buildings.

She sprinted into the alley, calling after him.

"Please! You don't understand, I need my bag!" she called.

With one last glance behind him, the man turned the corner and was gone.

She stood in the middle of the alley, out of breath, knowing her chance of catching up with him had passed.

He was too far away. He could duck into any building around the corner, and she'd never find him.

The best thing she could do was to call the police. She was sure they'd be thrilled to hear from her after the incident in the subway station last week. Getting accosted twice in the space of a week was sure to raise some eyebrows. She felt so stupid. She'd lived here long enough. She should have known better.

She turned to walk the way she came, and froze she heard a low moan seeming to come from behind a dumpster.

Liz caught her breath, feeling the hair standing up on the back of her neck and a humming that seemed to make her blood race.

She turned toward the dumpster slowly, afraid of what she might find, but more afraid to walk away.

As she came around its metal walls, she spotted a tattered trench coat and dirty converse sneakers.

She couldn't tell the color of the coat in the orange glow of the street lamp. It distorted the colors of everything it fell upon, playing tricks on the eye.

But she didn't need to see the color to know that it was whom she'd been seeking. She could fairly feel it. It was he. He was the reason her whole body was humming with curious electricity that made her heart race.

She knelt beside him, his face concealed by the shadows that fell across it, leaning closer giving in to the pull, unable to move away.

His jaw was covered in the same bearded shadow he'd had the day he'd healed her.

He was still, too still.

She reached out with a shaky hand to brush the hair away from his face. As soon as her fingers touched his skin, he jerked, scrambling back into the shadows. She pulled her hand back, startled.

Automatically, she eyes flew to her hand, feeling something wet on it. In the strange glow of the streetlights, it appeared to look like back ink.

Judging by its stickiness, she knew it wasn't ink.

It was blood.

She heard his labored breathing from the shadows.

"It's ok, I'm not going to hurt you," she says.

"Leave me alone," a ragged voice whispered.

"I just want to help you. I'm not going to hurt you," Liz says in a soft voice.

A half-strangled sob came from an unseen mouth.

"You can't hurt me anymore," he said. "She's safe. I saved her."

"You saved me," Liz whispered in a calming voice, confused, moving to touch his knee and he jerked it away.

"Just let me die. You got what you wanted," he said bitterly.

"I don't want you to die. I...I don't know you," Liz said. "I've been looking for you."

"Please, you're hurt. I can help, you. Let me help you," she said in a gentle voice.

She made a move closer, and he struggled to his feet before she could stop him.

"Stay away from me," he said, backing away from her.

"No, don't leave, please!" she said as he stumbled a few steps down the sidewalk and fell to his knees, slumping to the ground again.

She was on her feet and beside him in an instant.

Something was pulling her toward him. She knew that it was crazy, and she knew that she should be afraid after experiencing what he was capable of in the subway station, yet somehow she wasn't. He was different, that she knew, but she also knew in her heart that he wouldn't harm her.

She put her hand on his neck feeling for a pulse, and pulled it away. It was hot, burning hot. Inhumanly hot.

She glanced around frantically, looking for someone, anyone to get help, and a flash of white against the dumpster caught her eye.

An envelope, just like the one she found in her mailbox earlier. Even in the dim light, she could see her name scrawled in dark contrast against the paper.

She crawled over and picked up the envelope, tearing it open. She heard a soft clink of something dropping to the cement when she pulled the paper out. She looked down and picked the object up.

It was a crystal, a purple crystal that seemed to glow with its own unearthly light from within. She picked it up and unfolded the letter, crawling back to the unconscious man.


My Dear Liz,

So you have decided to climb down the rabbit hole. Somehow I knew you would.

I see you have found your savior. Have you called him by name? Surely you have recognized his soul, if not yet his face. Does it not call out to you? Do those eyes not haunt you in your dreams?

Conventional medical care will mean his death, as surely as if you were to hold a gun to his head and pull the trigger.

Therein lies your next dilemma. Are you ready for what you will see and learn? Is your heart open? Can you put aside all that you believe to be true?

What you learn may take you places you never dreamed. It will open your heart to the real truth: a truth far more complex, wondrous...and ugly, than anything you could possibly imagine.

But it is also a truth that no longer exists, merely recorded for you to learn from. What you take from it is up to you. What you choose to act on, or walk away from, is a decision that is yours alone.

A wise man and a very dear friend once said, "Your destiny is yet to be determined." I believe that, as surely as I believe all that was sacrificed to bring you to this point in time.

Inside this envelope, lies the key to all of it, if you choose to know it. "Drink me", the bottle was labeled, wasn't it? So what do you choose? The mushroom or the bottle? It's up to you.

I have done all I can and can do nothing more. The rest is up to you.

I know you'll make the right decision.

S


Liz felt the rising wave of panic release adrenaline into her veins, quickening her heart and breath.

She didn't know what to do. What if she didn't call for help and he died?

Something told her that what was in the letter was the truth. This man was not like everyone else. They would take him if she called.

"What do I do?" she whispered, knowing in her heart, she already knew the answer.

He remained motionless, but she needed to get him out of the cold. She knew that.

She put her arms around him and turned him on his back.

"It's going to be all right," she said, pulling his coat across him. "I'm going to take care of you now."

She was so busy trying to close his coat that she neglected to look at his face. Finally securing the buttons, her eyes moved up to his face.

Her mouth dropped open, eyes wide and she gasped, for the letter was right. She did know this face. It was a face from her past, but one she could never forget.

"Max..." she said, her voice faltering in disbelief.

*****

Max Evans.

He was the last person she would have ever dreamed of seeing again, after all this time, and here of all places. And he'd saved her life.

But he was supposed to be dead.

She pushed her astonishment to the back of her mind, knowing that she needed to get him off the street and out of the cold as soon as possible.

She ran to the busy street at the end of the alley, moving to the curb and holding up her hand, waving frantically for a taxi. She managed to hail a cab after a few moments.

"I need help," she said, leaning to look at the driver.

“Down here,” she said, pointing at the alley, not waiting for an answer.

The driver turned the corner and stopped the car.

“You gotta be kiddin' me mon!” he said, looking at her as if she'd gone crazy.

She was already trying to push Max into a sitting position.

"Lady, why you takin' a bum in da cab? He probably stink sometin' fierce," the driver said in impatience.

Liz bit her tongue to prevent herself from saying that half the cab drivers in New York City smelled a hell of a lot worse than Max did at the moment.

"Please," she gritted, as she struggled to lift his torso.

The driver sighed and opened the door, shaking his head in resignation.

"I ain't supposed to be doin' dis," the driver grumbled.

"I'll make it worth your while. Fifty bucks plus fare, when we get back to my apartment and another fifty if you help me get him inside," she said.

"How many stairs?" the driver asked, suspicious.

"One flight," Liz answered.

"Deal," the driver said, hoisting Max and dropping him roughly into the back seat.

"Be careful!" Liz snapped.

"'E ain't gonna feel no-ting," the driver said. "Look like he been on some bender."

"He was attacked," Liz said angrily. "Or did you miss all the blood on his head?"

"Kinda easy to do wit all dat dirt," the driver retorted, rolling his eyes.

"Just get in the car," Liz said, climbing in beside Max. She gave the driver the address and they were off.

Liz turned in her seat to get a better at the boy...correction, man, she hadn’t seen in years by the light flooding through the window from Times Square.

She checked him over with anxious eyes. His chin rested on his chest, rolling a little as the driver wove his way in and out of traffic.

Headlights behind them flooded the car, accentuating the pastiness of his skin, contrasted so sharply against the brownish stain of blood clotting on his head.

His chin and jaw were bristled and unshaven, his hair unkempt.

What had happened to him? Who had done this?

As the driver turned off Seventh Avenue to cut across to Sixth to avoid the bottle-neck, he was thrown roughly against her.

The canned recording chattered in the background, reminding passengers to use their seatbelts, but it barely registered in her mind. Her entire focus was on Max.

Her arm slid around his shoulder automatically to keep him from falling off the seat, and his head fell to rest on her chest under her chin.

In this close proximity, she could feel the heat radiating off of his body, and she shuddered, once again wondering if she was making the right decision in taking him home instead of straight to a hospital where he could receive proper medical care.

But if she believed what was said in the letter, she might be putting him in even worse danger.

No, she decided. She would have to take her chances.

She wrapped her arm around him, feeling him shiver.

"Why me, Max?" she whispered. "Why did you pick me, out of all the people in this city?"

She received no answer, his breath warming her neck.

"It doesn't matter. I'm going to take care of you," she said in a low voice.

She was going to have a lot of explaining to do to both Maria and Alex, she knew, but she couldn't even think about that at the moment. Maria would surely freak, seeing a transient in her apartment, never mind that she knew him and that he was supposed to be dead man.

But with any luck, Maria would spend the night at Alex's and would go straight to her morning shift before coming home. Alex wouldn't be by until he'd picked up Kyle from the airport.

A small moan muffled against her coat drew her eyes once again to Max.

She felt the tightening of her heart looking down at him, and acknowledged it, embraced it, like an old friend. It wasn't an unfamiliar sensation, but one that her heart had not felt in quite some time.

This man had given her a second chance to live. He'd risked being caught. In her mind, he'd probably risked everything.

She hadn't seen him in at least five years, not that she'd ever said much to him begin with. He'd always been so quiet back then, an enigma that had intrigued her more than she'd wanted to admit for most of her high school career.

Hearing that he’d been killed had upset her considerably, considering the proximity to her parents’ deaths. At least that’s what she told herself. But it had been more than that. She’d felt that another part of her girlhood that had died with him.

It wouldn’t have made sense to anyone but Maria, especially since she couldn’t even say that they were friends.

She'd barely known him, but now he'd given her the greatest gift she could imagine.

Six days ago, her life had changed forever, and now she truly did feel as if she'd jumped down the rabbit hole.

The ride seemed to go on for eternity, but in reality lasted only a few minutes. Liz was relieved when the driver pulled to a stop in front of her building.

The driver looked through the plexi-glass that separated the front seat from the back skeptically.

"You sure you want to bring dat smelly ting into yo' crib?" he asked, with raised eyebrows.

She glared at him.

"I'm not paying you to make judgment calls for me," she said, irritated. "Just bring him upstairs and I'll get you your money."

"Whatever," the driver shrugged, opening his door.

"We're here Max," she whispered, hoping that he could somehow hear her.

The door opened, and the driver pulled on Max's legs with a rough tug.

"Be careful!" Liz snapped, and the driver answered her with an impatient glare.

“Not like he gonna feel it,” he snapped, maneuvering Max out of the cab and hoisting his arm over his shoulder.

Liz got out and rushed to the stairs, feeling her pocket for her keys.

Her keys...

Dammit, she cursed as she realized they were in her bag. How the hell was she going to get into the building?

She froze as she glanced at the doorknob, where her bag was hanging by its strap, swinging in the bitter December wind.

She stared at it for a split second and then whirled to look out over the street.

What the hell?

"Lady, I ain't gettin' any younger, and 'e ain't gettin' any lighter," he snapped.

"Sorry," she mumbled, grabbing her bag and fishing for her keys. She'd have to think about this latest mystery later.

She opened the door with hasty fingers and climbed the set of stairs to her apartment and unlocked the door, pushing the door open and turning on the light, stepping back to let the man in.

"Where you want 'im?" the driver asked, and she thought quickly. It was unlikely that Maria would be home tonight, but she didn't need the scene she knew would occur in the middle of the night if she were to walk in to find a strange and apparently homeless man lying on their couch. And that would be before she recognized his face.

She pointed to her bedroom and walked ahead of him to flip the light on in there.

The driver dumped Max on the bed without ceremony and Liz bit back an angry retort that threatened to spill forth from her lips.

“Go on out to the living room, and I’ll bring you the money,” she said in a tight voice.

After he left the room, she went to her drawer and found her emergency money.

She grabbed the agreed upon amount and walked out to give it to him.

“Here,” she said, shoving it at him. She was impatient for him to be gone.

He counted it, and seeing it was the correct amount he smiled and nodded.

"Merry Christmas Lady," he said, as she walked to the door and opened it.

"Yeah you too," she muttered as he walked past her. She shut the door and locked it behind him, leaning against the door for a moment, taking a deep breath. The whole day seemed like an episode of "The Twilight Zone", and it was far from over as far as she could see.

Pushing away from the door, she walked toward her room, and paused in the doorway, her eyes falling on the man who lay on her bed.

She took off her jacket and scarf and hung them on the closet door, and closed the distance between the door and the bed with caution, afraid that she would startle him if he woke.

His head was turned to the side, facing away from her. A fine sheen of moisture covered his face and neck, and his chest rose and fell with rapid pants, a sure sign that his fever was still raging.

A worried frown crossed her face and she bit her lip, second-guessing her decision to bring him home. The letter had said that a hospital meant certain disaster for Max, but it hadn't told her how she was to help him.

She'd seen and heard the nurses at the hospital talk about how to treat fevers, but it had all flown out of her head.

The only thing she remembered was that extremely high fevers were dangerous, and that the body had to be cooled.

She went to the kitchen and pulled a large bowl and a glass out of the cabinet and filled them with cool water. She stopped to pull some washcloths out of the closet on the way back to her bedroom.

He hadn't moved.

Putting the bowl and the glass on the night table, she sat gingerly on the side of the bed, afraid to touch him, remembering what had happened in the alley.

With a cautious hand, she reached out and touched his cheek, her hand moving down to cup his jaw.

He remained still, and after a pause she stroked his skin, roughened with the light beard that had grown there.

"I don't know what to do Max. Tell me what to do for you," she whispered, and received no answer.

Sighing, she surmised that the best she could do for him at the moment would be to make him as comfortable as possible. She was hesitant to move him, but she had to get him out of the layers of clothes he was wrapped in. His body temperature felt dangerously hot.

She stood and put one knee on the bed, putting her hands behind his shoulders as leverage, trying to lift him from the mattress.

She grunted with the effort, managing to pull him to a sitting position.

With her hand behind his neck, she struggled to pull the trench coat off with one hand. It took a few moments and a bit of maneuvering, but she finally managed to pull it down his limp arms.

Beneath the coat, he wore a flannel shirt and through the opened top button, she saw he had a thermal undershirt on underneath that. She might be able to manage to get the shirt off, but the thermal shirt seemed like it would be a logistical nightmare.

She decided to deal with one thing at a time, and started to fumble with the buttons.

She carefully pulled at the thermal shirt, managing to lift first one arm and then the other, pulling them out of the sleeves. She finally got it bunched at the hollow at the back of his neck, and lifted his head to pull the shirt off.

She laid his head back down on the pillow and slumped to the bed, exhausted from her efforts. She brushed his face and neck with the cool washcloth, hoping to cool his heated skin.

He moaned something unintelligible, and shivered.

She pulled the light blanket over him, her fingers moving to touch his cheek, lingering there for a moment. He leaned instinctively toward her cool skin.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” she whispered.

He didn’t answer, and fell still.

Her world had turned upside down, and she had no idea how to begin to make sense of it. She knew now that something was very different about Max.

How could an angel be someone she had gone to school with? How could an angel be a living and breathing person, when everything she knew said that Max Evans had died shortly after her parents did?

“Liz,” he whispered, his breathing becoming agitated.

She stiffened, hearing her name, and answered, calling his name in a low voice, hoping he would wake, not wanting to startle him. But her call was answered with silence.

She moved away from him and off the bed, dropping into a chair, looking at the gaunt figure wrapped in her blankets, unconscious and now shivering.

Now that she had a moment to sit still, she thought of the implications of finding Max Evans thousands of miles away from Roswell, the place he’d called home.

She’d pushed her initial shock to the back of her mind, because she knew in those moments in the alley that it was important that she get him out of there, somewhere safe, somewhere where she could try to figure out what she was going to do.

But now, she could no longer avoid the questions that had been struggling to the forefront.

He was supposed to be dead.

At least, everyone in Roswell thought he was dead, but the proof was staring her right in the face.

For a wild moment, she’d entertained the idea of a twin, but her ever-logical mind told her that it was impossible.

It had to be him. She’d noticed that tiny scar in biology class on his forehead too many times to count. How often had she sat beside him in lab, studying him when he wasn’t looking, wondering where he’d gotten it? True, he’d been adopted along with his sister by the Evans family after being found wandering in the desert, so there was a slim possibility that perhaps there’d been another child, but that possibility shrank even further in entertaining the idea that a twin would have the exact same scar.

A few months after her parents died, Kyle had called to check up on her. He’d mentioned it in passing, as if it were just another piece of small-town gossip. Max was killed in a tragic accident. He’d died on a Sunday, along with his passenger, Tess Harding. His torched jeep had been found down at the old quarry, burned beyond recognition.

She’d only asked after his family once, a few months later. Kyle seemed anxious to get off the subject, telling her that Isabel had moved away, and as far as he knew, no one had heard from her. The Evans had moved out of town as well, to Albuquerque. The town held too many memories for them. Liz could understand that. She hadn’t been back to Roswell since her parents’ funeral, and she had no intention of going back. There was nothing for her there.

She never admitted to herself why it had bothered her so much. At the time, she chalked it up to the recent death of her parents, and the natural reaction to take it hard when someone you knew, even in passing died. But when she was honest with herself, she knew that it was more than that. She had thought about Max Evans too often over the years for it to be considered a passing interest.

Even after she left Roswell, she thought of him often while at Harvard in her spare moments, his gentle voice and his kind eyes. She remembered thinking there were times when it seemed as if he wanted to say more than he did during their labs together, but then again she had an active imagination that Maria took great joy in feeding.

And besides, she was dating Kyle at the time.

Kyle Valenti, one of the most popular boys at West Roswell.

TBC....

User avatar
Majesty
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Part Four

Post by Majesty » Wed Sep 03, 2003 10:45 am

Well Happy Birthday J. :) Not much of a present for you, but it's better than nothing. LOL

Ok folks, from here on out is where we start to find out the different paths Max and Liz have taken. We're going to go back in time for quite a few chapters coming up. The answers to the questions being asked will be addressed, but not right away. First we go back down "Memory Lane" with Liz.

Will post the next part this weekend.

Part Four

October – 1998

*~Liz~*

She'd noticed Kyle watching her for the first time as she made rounds of the tables at the Crashdown. At first she thought it was only her imagination. Why would Kyle Valenti of all people be smiling at her?

She turned her head to see who was behind her, but there was no one there. She looked at him again in disbelief, her face already turning red knowing the confusion was showing on it.

She tucked a non-existent strand of hair behind her ear in nervousness and then her hands lowered to smooth her apron.

"Hey Liz," he called out, motioning her over toward the table he was sitting at with Paulie. She hesitated, glancing over at the vacant booth behind it, with a wistful expression.

He wasn't here.

Max Evans always sat in the same booth on Wednesday nights, sometimes with his prickly friend Michael Guerin or his sister Isabel, but he wasn't here tonight. She wondered what he was doing or who he was with, and then mentally chided herself.

She really was a dumb-ass, pining over the untouchable. Max Evans didn't even know she existed. He was so out of her league. Half the girls in school, a lot of them way prettier than she, had tried to "get" Max without success.

She shouldn't even be thinking about him. But there was something about Max Evans, his shy smile, those eyes that seemed to hold mysterious secrets, the way that he seemed to observe everything around him, yet never got involved. He was soft-spoken and studious, and apparently athletic, though he never bothered with any sports in school. She never saw him around town much, except of course here at the Crashdown every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night, in the empty booth she was staring at.

"Where's Mr. Mysterious?" a voice whispered in her ear, and she turned her head and glared at her best friend as she glided by with a smile and a tray full of burgers.

She shook her head. Maria was so exasperating.

"Hey, Earth to Liz!" Kyle called, pulling her attention back to his booth. "Are you deliberately ignoring me? Should I be offended?"

She smiled at him as her face turned a light shade of pink, cursing herself for daydreaming about her lab partner once more.

"Sorry Kyle," she said, walking over to him and pulling out her order pad.

"What can I get you guys?" she asked, in a business-like tone, readying her pen to take their order.

"I'll have the cheeseburger platter and a coke," Paulie said, throwing the menu at her. Kyle glared at him and threw a napkin at him, and Paulie started to laugh.

"Cut the crap Paulie," Kyle said.

She lowered her eyes to write down Paulie's order. Yep, typical jocks. She didn't know what was wrong with her today, thinking Kyle would look at her like that.

She paused, looking up from her pad, waiting for Kyle to tell her what he wanted off the menu, wishing she could be anywhere else but there.

"Don't pay any attention to him. He's an animal," Kyle said, giving Paulie a glare, and Liz bit her lip, looking away.

"What can I get you then Kyle?" she asked, turning back to her order pad, starting to write down what he usually ordered when he came in.

"How about pizza and a movie?" he asked.

She'd started to write down pizza and then her pen froze in place.

Had she heard him right? Her eyes snapped up to look at him.

Paulie was looking at him in disbelief, in fact much the look Liz knew she had on her face.

"Excuse me?" she practically squeaked.

"Well, I'll take a Will Smith burger now," he said, "but yeah, do you want to go out with me Friday night?"

She didn't know how to react. Kyle Valenti, wrestling and basketball star at West Roswell was asking her, Liz Parker out on a date?

"Um, I...uh," she stammered.

He looked down at the table.

"Ok, I get it. You don't want to go out with a dumb jock," he said, sighing.

Her face turned even redder if that was possible.

"No! No I'd love to," she said quickly.

He looked up and smiled at her.

"Cool," he said, "so I'll pick you up at seven then?" he asked.

She nodded, glancing at Paulie, who had a smirk on his face, clearly thinking his friend had gone crazy asking the science geek out.

"Yeah, that would he great," she said, looking at Kyle again with a shy smile.

"Great," he answered returning a warm smile.

There was an uncomfortable pause, and then Paulie coughed.

"Fine, you made your date, now can we eat? I'm starving," he said, impatiently. “I’ll have the same thing he’s having.”

Liz pulled her eyes away from Kyle.

"Yeah...yeah, I'll put your order in right away," she said, embarrassed.

"Thanks Liz," Kyle answered.

She nodded and turned toward the kitchen, seeing Maria behind the counter looking at her with narrowed eyes.

Oh boy.

She walked toward the window to the grill and gave Jose the order, hoping to escape into the back to get her bearings before Maria got to her.

She pushed through the doors and walking to the couch, sitting down and resting her burning face in her hands.

She heard the swoosh of the door and sighed. No such luck.

"So?" Maria said, and Liz looked up.

"What?" she asked, feigning innocence.

"Oh no, don't even...." she said, putting her hand on her hip. "What just happened out there?"

She knew Maria wouldn't be too happy with her latest news, so she tried to hedge her way out of telling her.

"Nothing..." she said.

"Don't ‘nothing’ me! Spill it!" Maria prompted.

Liz dropped her head into her hands.

"Kyle Valenti asked me out on a date Friday night," she mumbled, her voice muffled, hoping she wouldn't hear her.

"What? Oh no, you didn't tell him yes, did you?" she asked.

She lifted her head.

"What if I did?" she snapped. "What's wrong with that?"

Maria sighed and sat next to her.

"Only that he's a jock, and he probably sleeps with anything that moves," Maria said. "I bet he's even slept with Ice Queen Isabel."

"Maria! You don't know he's like that. You don't know him at all," Liz interjected, handing Jose the order with a smile.

"Neither do you," Maria reminded her sarcastically, reaching around her for a packet of mayo.

"Look, I don't see anything wrong with going on a date. It's one date. I'm not getting married to him," Liz said, irritated.

"It's just that you guys are so different Liz," Maria said with a sigh, leaning against the counter.

"So what! So he's different from me! Maybe he doesn't get the best grades, and maybe he does hang out with the jocks. It's not like I've been on any dates with people from the Science Club," Liz snapped.

"Yeah maybe because you haven't gone after the right one yet," Maria mumbled under her breath.

"What?" Liz asked, looking at her.

"Nothing," Maria said in an innocent voice.

"Maria, first of all, Max Evans isn't in the Science Club, and I wish you would just get off this 'Max secretly worships you' kick," she sighed.

"I'm telling you, you're blind!" Maria countered. "I see him looking at you all the time! He's smitten."

"Smitten," Liz snorted.

"We've been over this. It's not like that with Max. He's...not interested. Believe me," she scoffed. "He's polite to me, but he is so beyond..."

"Bullshit," Maria answered stubbornly, poking Liz in the side. "I have a feel for these things, and I'm telling you, he's got it bad. I mean, why would he be in here at least three times a week without fail?"

"To eat maybe?" Liz said. "And in case you hadn't noticed, he isn't here tonight."

"Maybe something happened, something at home. Maybe he's sick," Maria offered.

"O r maybe," Liz said in revelatory sarcasm, "maybe he has a date tonight!"

Maria pursed her lips in disagreement.

"I don't care what you say, he likes you," Maria muttered.

"Maria, believe me, there would be nothing I would love more than for Max Evans to notice me, but I sit with him every day in Science, and I'm telling you, he doesn't," she said. "So...I am going to go on that date with Kyle, and I am going to have fun."

"I don't think it's a good idea," Maria grumbled.

"Duly noted," Liz countered. She leaned and bumped her shoulder into her friends.

"Come on Maria, can't you be at least a little happy for me? I have a date with one of the most popular guys in school. That's a good thing."

Maria sighed and turned to look at her.

"I'm just afraid he's going to use you or something. You're my best friend Liz. I just don't want to see you get hurt," she said.

Liz smiled.

"I know. But it's just a date," she said with emphasis.

"Fine," Maria said, trying to hide a smile.

"Order up!" Jose screamed, and Liz stood.

"I've got to go give them their food," she said. "Are we ok?"

"Yeah," Maria said, looking at her as if she were crazy.

"Good," she said, turning to go out the door.

"I haven't given up on Max yet," Maria called as pushed the door open, and Liz just shook her head in exasperation.

******

Later, while lying in bed, she thought about what Maria said, about Kyle using her.

She didn't think he was like that. He seemed nice enough.

He was handsome and funny, and well liked by most of her classmates. But he did hang around with a lot of jerks like Paulie.

She'd been excited earlier. Who wouldn't be? But now, lying in her bed, her thoughts once again turned to the face that was so familiar in her dreams, someone she thought about since the fourth grade during the late hours before she went to sleep, someone who was in so many ways the complete opposite of Kyle.

He was shy where Kyle was outgoing, smart where Kyle was average. He was darkly handsome and guarded, where Kyle was open and witty. He never participated in school activities, where Kyle was involved with sports. He never showed at class parties, where Kyle was almost always one of the first at a kegger and the last to leave.

But there was the most important difference that she really didn't want to dwell on. He hadn't noticed her, where Kyle had. For all the little romantic daydreams she'd had about Max Evans, not one of them was rooted in her reality.

Maybe different was good.

*******

Friday night had come and her stomach was filled with nervous butterflies.

It was just a date, she kept telling herself, but it hadn't helped that her mother was all over her case. She'd had to ask her mother for the night off, assuring her that Maria would cover for her, but her mother wanted to know why.

She knew right off that something was going on, because Liz usually spent Friday nights with Maria and Alex after work, so if Maria was covering for her, then she was going out with someone else.

Liz admitted that she was going out on a date, and her mother sat her down for "the rules", something every teenager dreaded.

She'd made it through the conversation surprisingly unscathed, considering. Her mother knew she had a good head on her shoulders, and she knew Jim Valenti and Kyle, so she laid down a few basic guidelines, like curfew and not letting things get out of hand.

No, the conversation wasn't the worst part. It was spending the week watching her mother's eyes filling with tears, talking about how her baby had grown up. She hoped that after Friday when she came home in one piece, with her virtue intact, that her mother would lay off.

That afternoon she spent a good deal of her time trying to find the right outfit to wear, with Maria playing closet critic before her shift started.

She sighed in exasperation as she pulled yet another skirt and sweater from her closet.

"Nuh uh," Maria said, shaking her head as she threw it over her shoulder.

What's wrong with this one?" Liz asked, holding up a red sweater with pearl buttons.

"Nothing, if you're looking to get some," Maria scoffed.

"Maria!" Liz said, exasperated, watching her walk over to the closet.

"What about this one?" Maria asked, pulling out a bulky brown sweater.

She didn't dignify that with an answer, merely glaring at her and yanking the sweater from her grasp, throwing it back into the closet.

"Isn't it time for you to start my shift?" she snapped.

"Testy," Maria said, going to the door.

"Liz," she said suddenly, and Liz turned toward her.

"Have a good time," she said in a low voice.

"Thanks," Liz said with a smile.

*******

She'd finally decided on going casual, in a pair of cargo's and a soft black sweater that showed off a bit of her belly.

She was supposed to be meeting Kyle over at the movie theater, because he had a late practice. She had no idea how the date was going to turn out, and she was ready early. She decided to go down and wait at the counter to help Maria until she had to leave.

Pounding down the stairs to her mother's final warnings, she rolled her eyes. Jose called out a greeting to her as she walked through the break room and she gave him a smile and a wave, pushing through the doors.

Her smile faded as she caught sight of her usual customer sitting down at his usual booth. She'd been so filled with nervous anticipation, that she hadn't even thought about Max since she got home, an unusual occurrence. Yet as always he was there for his Friday night dinner. Tonight he was alone.

She watched him spread his books on the table, probably cramming for the big Biology test they were having on Monday.

It suddenly struck her as strange that he was studying on a Friday night. Why wasn't he out doing something?

Biting her lip, she walked over to the counter and sat down near the fountain, where Maria was filling glasses with soda.

She glanced over her shoulder with a raised brow.

"Ready?" she asked.

"I'm a little early, so I'm going to wait here a few minutes," she said.

"Good, then you can go over and take Max's order for me," Maria said, putting the drinks on the tray.

"Maria! I'm not on the clock," she protested, glancing over at Max. The last thing she needed to do was to be near him, setting the tone for her first date.

"Come on Liz, we're swamped. I won't make you run any food, just help me out and take the order," Maria said, lifting the tray and walking away, leaving no further room for her to argue.

Her lips tightened in annoyance at the realization that Maria had set her up.

Reaching behind the counter, she grabbed a pen and pad, feeling her heart quicken, a sensation she was quite accustomed to whenever Max was in the Crashdown or sitting next to her at the lab table. She took a deep breath and went around the tables near the door and made her way toward the booth.

His head was bent over a book, so intent on whatever he was reading that he didn’t notice her approach. Not that she was surprised. The Café was pretty busy.

She peered over his shoulder trying to see what he was reading. She caught a glimpse of a drawing of an alien.

Then he seemed to sense someone behind him and looked up. His eyes widened in surprise and he closed the book quickly, throwing his notebook over it.

“Aliens, huh?” she asked with amusement and he blushed.

“Yeah, sort of a guilty pleasure I guess,” he stammered.

She smiled.

“Don’t worry Max,” she whispered conspiratorially. “I’ll keep your secret. Wouldn’t want you to lose the respect of the towns people.”

He lowered his head.

“Yeah thanks,” he said in a low voice.

She noticed his embarrassment and suddenly felt really bad for calling him on his reading.

“I was only kidding,” she said.

“I know,” he said, looking up at her, his expression now closed off.

She shifted her feet, uncomfortable. She could feel his gaze and it made her blood race, her heart was pounding in her chest. She was such a geek. Only a geek would get worked up over someone looking at her. And he wasn’t even looking at her weirdly or anything. It was a normal Max look, detached and polite.

“Yeah so, can I take your order?” she asked.

It was then that he must have noticed she wasn’t in her uniform.

“New dress code?” he offered.

“Um no, actually I’m not working tonight. I have plans. I was just helping Maria out for a few minutes,” she said.

“Oh?” he answered.

She really was crazy, because she was imagining that she saw a flash of disappointment in his eyes. She really was pathetic.

“Yeah,” she said. “I’m meeting a friend for dinner.”

He nodded.

A friend? What was wrong with her? Why didn’t she just say what she was really doing? Then again, why did she explain herself at all?

“No big deal,” she added, dismissing it, and then prayed her face wasn’t flaming. What was wrong with her?

“Ok...” he said, meeting her eyes with a smile.

God he had such beautiful eyes....

“So, what can I get you?” she asked, already knowing what he was going to order, and she wasn’t disappointed.

He ordered what he always did, a Will Smith Burger, Saturn Rings and a Cherry Coke.

She lingered for a moment, wanting to say more.

“So...what do you do on the weekends, Max? Besides read about aliens,” she said.

He shrugged.

“I don’t know, there isn’t much to do around here,” he said.

“Yeah, I know. It’s a pretty boring place,” she said dryly.

An uncomfortable pause followed.

“I’ll just go put your order in,” she said motioning to the back. “Maria will get your order. I have to um...”

“Meet your friend,” he finished, nodding. For a moment, she felt as if he could see everything she was feeling written on her face, or hear her heart pounding practically out of her chest.

“Yeah,” she said lamely.

“Have a good weekend, Max,” she said softly.

He smiled at her and turned back to his books.

She turned away and shut her eyes, completely mortified.

Liz Parker makes an ass out of herself yet again, she thought.

Sighing, she took the ticket back to Jose and waved goodbye to Maria. Then she moved to the door without looking in Max’s direction again. She felt like she could just die.

She walked out into the cool night, the air feeling wonderful against her flaming cheeks.

She paused, putting her hands on her warm cheeks.

“Oh God, you are such an idiot,” she moaned.

It was time to face reality. Max Evans wouldn’t ever notice someone like her. She had to get over this obsession.

She was going to do it, starting right now.

She turned back and looked at him once more with a wistful expression, and then straightened her back and started to walk toward the theater.

Kyle Valenti wasn’t going to know what hit him.
Last edited by Majesty on Wed Sep 03, 2003 5:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Majesty
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Part Five

Post by Majesty » Sat Sep 06, 2003 7:26 pm

Thanks for all the great feedback everyone. :)

Here's the next installment. Gigo, I added a small scene in this one.

Wisdom – Coldplay

time no good
wisdom no good
patience no good
to me anymore

now night has fallen on the stair
some things you do you can never repair
seems I'm always pretending
things aren't there when they are

and the leaves are nearly off the trees
and the traffic's thick past yellow windows
and I'm lost inside the frozen headlights
thinking of you

time no good
wisdom no good
patience no good
to me anymore

and the trees are looking like bones
and the afternoon's filled with storm and rain
I'm staring out of this metal train
thinking of you

and the trees are looking like bones
and the afternoon's filled with storm and rain
and I’m tangled up in memory's thorns
no way through

time no good
wisdom no good
patience no good
to me anymore

trees like bones, yellow windows
memories, thorns, oh and you

time no good
wisdom no good
patience no good
to me anymore


Part Five

October – 1998

*~Liz~*

Despite her resolution, by the time she got close to the theater she half-believed that the date would turn out to be a disaster.

Maybe it was all a joke between the jocks. Tell the brainiac to meet you at the theater and leave her hanging. Ha ha.

She had almost turned around and went back to the Crashdown and her daydreams of her unattainable Romeo she’d left behind eating dinner when she spotted Kyle.

He was been waiting out front, just like he said he would be.

He smiled and waved at her, and she returned it weakly, crossing the street.

“Hey Liz,” he said with a grin, seeming genuinely happy to see her.

“You ready?” he said, motioning to the theater.

She nodded with a shy smile.

He bought the tickets and they went inside.

After buying popcorn and two sodas, they made it into the theater just as the movie was starting.

She laughed at all of the appropriate places, but the truth of it was she really wasn’t paying much attention to it.

Damn Maria. Why did she have to send her over to Max’s table before she met Kyle?

This whole thing was ridiculous. She should be enjoying the date, not worrying about whether it was all a sham or thinking about someone she could never have.

After the movie ended, they walked over to the pizza parlor.

Kyle kept up the conversation and made her laugh with his imitations of Jim Carrey from the movie they’d seen.

They sat down in a booth and ordered.

After a long silence, he looked at her concerned.

“Is everything all right Liz? You’ve been kind of quiet,” he answered.

She made a split second decision. There was nothing she could do about Max, but at least she could find out the truth about the date.

“Why did you ask me out Kyle?” she asked.

He looked confused.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“I don’t know. It’s just that guys like you don’t ask girls like me on dates,” she said, looking down.

“Girls like you?” he said in confusion.

Great. He was going to make her spell out the whole horrible truth.

“You know, the science geeks. Jocks don’t ask geeky girls out on dates,” she said. “So if you need help with some project or something like that, you can just ask. You don’t have to do this.”

He laughed, and she reddened further.

“Liz, you’re not a geek, and I don’t need help with any project. My grades are what they are. I can deal with that. I asked you out because...” he paused, and she looked up, vulnerable.

“I asked you out because I think you’re one of the prettiest girls in school, and I
like you,” he said.

She blushed and shook her head.

“Paulie thinks you’re an idiot for asking me out,” she pointed out.

“Paulie
is an idiot,” he quipped with a laugh.

She dipped her head.

“You really don’t see it, do you?” he asked, and she looked up and met his eyes with uncertainty.

He smiled at her.

“The way I look at it, I’m ahead of the game. No one else has had the balls to ask you out yet, so I’m the lucky one,” he said.

“Really?” she asked shyly.

“Really,” he answered with a grin.

**********

She received her first tentative kiss from Kyle that night. It was sweet and soft, but left her feeling strangely like it was lacking something.

As she lay in bed that night she thought about it.

What was she expecting? That it would be a kiss that would make her swoon with passion? In real life things like that just didn’t happen.

Only she had the strangest notion that it would if it were someone else...someone...

She cut the thought off.

She had to quit this.

But her mind was already hoping that somehow when she walked into school on Monday with Kyle, that Max would notice what he was missing.

Would he?

********

She should have known better.

Kyle was waiting for her at her locker, and made it no secret that he was into her. He was charming, flirty and funny. Everything a girl could ask for, really. So why was she expecting Max Evans to come walking down the hall, to suddenly wake up and realize that she was dateable?

He didn’t come down the hall, and in fact, he wasn’t even in school that day.

It was a sign.

She knew it, despite Maria’s protest that Kyle wasn’t the one for her.

Maria conceded that maybe Max wasn’t either, but she insisted she could just smell it. Liz and Kyle were not meant to be forever.

But Liz wasn’t ready to admit failure to Maria.

Alex refereed their little argument at lunch.

“Ladies, ladies, retract the claws please,” he joked. “You remember the ‘no weapons’ edict at West Roswell?”

“Just because Maria here thinks that there’s this guy who secretly likes me, which he doesn’t by the way,” she admonished, “it doesn’t mean that it can’t work out with Kyle.”

“It’s not just that I think he likes you, and you know it,” Maria said, with a stubborn tilt to her chin.

“Maria, he doesn’t know I’m alive!” Liz fired back.

“Who?” Alex asked, confused.

“Max Evans,” Liz said, pushing her hair behind her ear and lowering her head

“Ah brother of Isabel Evans, the Goddess of West Roswell,” Alex said dreamily, wagging his eyebrows.

“More like Ice Bitch,” Maria countered.

“So maybe she’s a little stuck up,” Alex shrugged, “wouldn’t you be if you looked like her?”

“Thanks a lot!” Maria said outraged, and Alex cringed, realizing his error.

“I didn’t mean it that way, Maria,” he protested. “You guys are like...my sisters or something. Looking at you like that...ugh, it’s too gross for words.”

“Oh really?” Maria said, folding her arms across her chest.

Liz watched this unfold with amusement, grateful that the conversation had turned away from Max.

“Oh come on, you know what I mean!” he said. “Isabel Evans is like...the ideal.”

“And what am I? Chopped meat?” Maria fumed.

Liz felt a hand on her shoulder and an amused voice spoke behind her.

“What are we discussing here?” Kyle asked, sitting next to Liz and putting an arm around her.

She turned her head and smiled at him.

“Alex here thinks Isabel Evans is filet mignon, while I merely qualify as hamburger,” Maria scoffed.

“Oh...
Isabel,” Kyle said, looking at Alex with a knowing smile.

“See?” Alex said, pointing at Kyle. “See?”

“Ugh!” Maria yelled, glaring at Kyle.

Kyle looked taken aback for a second, and then grinned.

“No see, what you don’t understand is that Isabel Evans is the unattainable,” he said.

"Just like her brother", Liz lamented in silence, as Kyle continued.

“Yeah sure she’s gorgeous, but so what? She’ll never live up in reality to the image every guy at West Roswell creates in his head,” Kyle said.

Liz thought about what he said. Was he right? Maybe Max couldn’t possibly hold a candle to her imagination.

“Gorgeous is nice, but I guarantee she’s high maintenance. Where Liz, well she’s just beautiful, and she’s real, and that’s what I like about her. I’d take that over what Isabel’s got any day,” Kyle said.

Liz blushed as Maria sat speechless, obviously not expecting that to come out of Kyle’s mouth.

“Besides, Isabel’s an Ice Queen,” Kyle finished.

“I’m beginning to like you Kyle,” Maria said with a grin. “You have my permission to date my best friend.”

“Uh... thanks?” he said, looking at her as if she’d grown two heads.

Maria turned back to Alex.

“And as for you...hah!” she said, picking up her books and standing up.

“I’m off,” she said, walking before she looked where she was going, and smacking headfirst into the chest of Michael Guerin.

“Watch it!” he growled, with a murderous look.

“Oh, take a pill,” she spat and walked around him, leaving him glaring after her.

The three remaining suppressed their laughter until Michael walked off.

*****

That day, she made a conscious decision to make things work with Kyle. Maybe it was just her. Maybe she had just been expecting too much. He was like, the perfect guy.

Mutual love at first sight didn’t exist and she wasn’t even giving Kyle a fair chance because she was mooning over a guy who was safe. A guy she knew would never hurt her because she would never be anything to him.

And she did give it an honest try with Kyle, finding out along the way that he wasn’t perfect, but all in all he really was a great guy.

Still, sometimes she found their relationship lacking.

*********

She had been happy with Kyle, happy that she had found someone who genuinely cared for her.

One afternoon in September of 1999, she had been waitressing with Maria. The café was crowded, and she had just shown a gullible couple her “alien” photo.

Maria smirked at her as she walked toward the back.

“You are sooo bad girl. Oh, and Max Evans is staring at you again,” she said.

“No way,” Liz answered, almost automatically. “Maria, that is so in your imagination.”

She glanced over at the booth Max was sitting in with Michael Guerin.

“Max Evans? This? No, un uh..it's not...” she said, shaking her head.

“And with those cheeks! Preciosita tan linda!” Maria laughed, pinching her cheeks.

“Maria,” Liz said, exasperated.

“And, and even if it weren't I'm going out with Kyle. I mean, he's steady and loyal, and he appreciates me,” she said.

“Sounds like you're describing a poodle,” Maria retorted, walking away to serve another customer.

Liz knew that Maria tolerated Kyle, but it was almost as if she couldn’t help making a dig where she could. She just wouldn’t give up on the Max thing.

In the next instant, there was a struggle, and Maria cried out her name.

Two men had started to argue near the front of the restaurant, and one of them pulled a gun from his waistband. Liz looked up to see the second man pushing the other man’s hand away, and the gun was pointed in her direction. She froze, watching the man’s finger close on the trigger. People were screaming, and she waited for the explosion of the bullet from the barrel.

Instead there was only a click. The gun didn’t go off and the two men ran from the restaurant, leaving pandemonium behind.

Maria rushed over to her, in tears.

“Are you all right?” she asked, and Liz nodded, shaking.

“You’d better call the Sheriff, Maria,” Liz managed to say.

A chorus of “Dios Mios” flew from Maria’s mouth as she ran toward the back.

Liz stood completely still, just trying to catch her breath, when her eyes lit on Max, who was staring at her wide-eyed.

Michael said something and Max’s attention was turned to him.

She could already hear the siren of the Sherrif’s cruiser approaching, and it brought home how close she’d come to being shot, and she her legs grew shaky. She walked over to the counter and sat down on one of the stools.

*******

Her father had come in shortly after, and was nearly panicked when he heard what happened.

The Sheriff had taken her statement, along with the rest of the patrons. She watched as he took Michael and Max’s. Michael looked like he couldn’t wait to get out of the restaurant, and she supposed she couldn’t blame him, after what had happened.

She watched Max as he gave his statement to the Sheriff, and he and Michael left soon after. After she’d met his eyes earlier, he didn’t look her way again.

Kyle had been really worried about her, and she was grateful he was there for her, but in the deepest places in her heart she wished that Max could have been the one that held her.

When she returned to school Max never mentioned what happened in the Crashdown that day and she couldn’t help but feel disappointed. The look in his eyes that day had seemed so...but she realized it was just her own wishful thinking.

*********

When her Grandma Claudia had come for a visit and had a stroke, she’d been beside herself. She didn’t know what to do, or where to go, and she didn’t have the heart to listen to kind-hearted falsehoods from everyone, and so the night her grandmother had slipped into a coma, she walked to the park to be alone.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been sitting on the bench when she’d heard a gentle voice call her name.

“Liz?”

Her head snapped up in surprise, her cheeks still wet with tears. She wiped them away hastily, and put on a smile that didn’t reach her eyes.

It was he, the person who was both the last person she wanted to see and yet the only person she wanted to see, all at the same time.

“Oh, hey Max,” she said in a trembling voice, not meeting his eyes.

In all of the dreams she’d had of chance encounters with him, she never would have imagined this one. She wished she could just disappear.

“Are you ok? It’s late. You probably shouldn’t be sitting here alone,” he said, concern lacing his voice.

It was dark and she couldn’t really see his face, hidden in shadow, and she hoped he couldn’t see hers.

“Yeah I’m fine,” she said, standing up. “I was just going to go...”

She started to walk away but he caught her arm as she passed him.

“Is something wrong?” he asked.

She paused, the urge to just lie to him and walk away on the tip of her tongue. But before she knew it, the words were falling from her lips.

“Yeah actually,” she said, looking up at him. “My grandmother is really sick. She’s in a coma.”

She wasn’t sure why it was so easy to tell Max, who was a virtual stranger, when she’d been avoiding her family and friends all day. But it just felt...right.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly, his eyes glittering in the light of the park lamps.

“Yeah, me too,” she said, sniffling.

“Is there...anything I can do?” he asked.

She shook her head.

“No. There’s really nothing anyone can do. But thanks,” she said, looking at the ground. “She’s in pretty bad shape.”

"I’m sorry," he said again.

She nodded.

“I don’t know...it’s like...my Grandma, she’s been my confidant and she’s always there for me, and I don’t know what I am going to do if something really bad happens to her,” she whispered. “I just feel...lost.”

She felt his eyes on her, yet he said nothing for a moment.

“I think...whatever happens, you’re going to be ok,” he said.

She looked up at him.

"How do you know that?" she asked dully.

He looked up at the sky and shrugged.

"Because you’re a strong person,” he said.

“You don’t know me,” Liz answered, shaking her head.

“No, not really. But from what I’ve seen...I think that you’ll get through whatever is thrown at you. You have a lot of people that care about you. Your parents, Maria, Alex...Kyle,” he said in a low voice.

“It’s funny,” she sniffed, her eyes filling with tears. “I know they want to be there for me, and I know they mean well, but then why am I here, in a park? By myself?”

“There’s nothing wrong with needing some time for yourself. Sometimes really bad things happen and you feel like you're all alone. But sooner or later, the bad things fade. Nothing lasts forever, nothing good and nothing bad. It’s ok to want to be alone, just as long as you know that there are people who are there for you if you need them,” he said softly.

She bit her lip and kept her head lowered.

After a moment, he spoke.

“Liz, I...”

“Max,” a voice called, and Liz looked up to see Isabel coming up the path.

“I should really go,” she said, pulling away and backing up.

“Max?” Isabel said again, and saw her.

“Oh...hi Liz,” she said in a flat tone.

“Hey Isabel,” she said, looking away.

“I’ll see you in school Max,” she said, turning around.

“Liz,” he said, and she turned toward him again slowly.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly.

“Thanks,” she said, and turned, walking away without looking back.

**********

A few days later, Grandma Claudia was dead. Kyle was there for her, but somehow his words of comfort seemed empty.

That night, she thought again of Max.

When Grandma Claudia had passed away, she’d had the irrational impulse to call him. She’d actually picked up the phone and dialed his number, only to lose her nerve when she’d heard his machine click on.

Immediately she felt stupid. They barely spoke in school, and she was sure he would have thought she was crazy. She wasn’t sure why she did it in the first place. Maybe it was because he hadn’t tried to sugarcoat things like everyone else had, trying to make her feel better in the park that night. He’d merely said he was sorry. But his words seemed more heartfelt than any of the condolences she received from her classmates.

But maybe that was something she created in her imagination too.

She'd wanted to thank him in Biology the day she’d got back, but he’d seemed closed off, distant.

He never mentioned the night in the park, and they resumed their polite exchanges in class and at the Crashdown, as if they’d never seen each other that night.

She started to doubt herself. Maybe he was just being nice. Maybe she’d been wrong. She had to keep telling herself that he wasn’t the person she’d dreamed up. That person wasn’t real.

******

Kyle was real for all his good and bad points.

There were times when he exasperated her, like when he dragged her to the jock parties and drank too much and puked his guts out.

Or when he distracted her with jokes or kisses when she was trying to study. Or the couple of times that he was supposed to pick her up and never showed up because he went out with the guys and lost track of time.

It was at those times she longed for more.

She had an ideal she’d created in her mind, and he was a lot like Max Evans. But that ideal didn’t really exist in her reality. In reality, he was probably just like every other guy, who got drunk and acted stupid, only he probably did it in some other town like Hondo. Anyway, at least she didn’t have to see that he wasn’t perfect, and she didn’t have to see any girlfriend he might have.

At least until Tess Harding came to town.

Liz disliked her on sight. She immediately latched herself onto Isabel and soon after she was always with Max, which made Liz like her even less.

It wasn’t that she’d ever even spoken to her much. When she did, she realized that she was a lot like Isabel, aloof and snobbish. But that wasn’t why Liz disliked her.

It was because Tess was everything she wasn’t: blond and curvy, with striking blue eyes. She wouldn’t have guessed that she was Max’s type, but then scolded herself. She didn’t even know Max, so how could she know his type?

He was reserved even with Tess, and though the buzz went around that they were dating, Liz never saw any public displays of affection between them, at least on his end. Maybe he was just a really shy guy. It wasn’t like she and Kyle were overly demonstrative either. By senior year, they had fallen into a comfortable routine of occasional hand-holding and a quick peck on the lips when they separated for class.

Soon after Tess showed up, Max started to work at the UFO Center, and she saw more of him and unfortunately Tess, in the restaurant.

Liz had come to a conclusion.

She’d realized that though she tried to believe it, Kyle was not going to be the love of her life. She was pretty sure he’d recognized it on his end too. Their relationship was safe and comfortable, and he didn’t seem to mind too much that they’d never made love. She’d explained that she thought she was too young, and he’d accepted it, but the truth was that she wanted it to be with someone she loved wholeheartedly.

She didn’t know why she was holding onto the crush she had on Max, but she supposed it was because it was safe. Maybe he was the manifestation of her heart trying to tell her that Kyle wasn't the one.

Maybe the Max she'd created in her mind represented the promise of what she could have someday. She knew she didn't have a chance with him. Still, it irked her to see Tess clinging to him whenever she could. She had no right to feel that way, she knew. She was being irrational. But she would have sworn that Tess became more touchy with him as they passed her in the hall.

Max didn’t seem to notice. He’d smile at her or say hello politely just as he always did. But that did nothing to quell that little flare of jealousy that welled in her heart.

Prom had come, and it was almost time for her class to leave the halls of West Roswell, beginning new adventures in college.

She’d been accepted to Harvard, though she only told those who were closest to her, Maria, Alex and Kyle. The truth was, she was finding herself nervous about leaving everything she had ever known to embark on a career she had always dreamed of.

There were so many uncertainties that loomed in her future and she wanted to cling to the routines and people that made her feel safe. But she knew that it was wrong, and it wasn’t fair to do that. She knew it was time to let go of the old ties and begin anew.

Kyle had picked her up for the prom in his Mustang. She’d dreamed of this night for most of her young adult life, and it was nothing like she’d imagined it would turn out to be.

She wore a red dress and strappy heels, her hair piled on her head. The night should have been perfect, but as they sat in Kyle’s parked car, before they went in, she knew she couldn’t put off what she needed to do any longer.

“Kyle, this thing...what’s between us...it isn’t fair to either one of us. I’m going to be going off to Boston soon, and you’ll be here, and....”

“You want to break things off,” he finished with a nod, looking out the windshield.

“I’m not being fair to you, I know,” she said. “I haven’t been fair, and I’m trying to do the right thing.”

“I know,” he said with a sigh. “Believe me, I’ve been thinking the same thing, that is isn’t right that we’re kind of just pretending.”

She felt tears fill her eyes.

“Oh come on, don’t cry Parker,” he said with a shaky smile. “It’s prom night.”

“I’m sorry,” she sobbed, and he pulled her into a hug.

“There’s nothing to be sorry for,” he said, his voice muffled in her hair.

“Yes there is,” she said.

He pulled away from her.

“Look, I am not going to let anything ruin this night for us. I’ll make you a deal. We’ll keep things casual until you leave, and then we’ll just see what happens, ok?” he asked.

She lowered her head, and he raised her chin with his fingers until her eyes met his.

“Ok?” he asked again. “I don’t want to lose you as a friend. Maybe we aren’t like...Bogey and Bacall or anything, but I don’t think it was all bad.”

“No, it wasn’t!” she said, shaking her head vehemently. “I do love you Kyle, just not the way you deserve to be loved.”

“Ditto kid,” he said, pressing a kiss to her cheek.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a tissue, handing it to her.

“You know, it’s really going to suck when you’re at Harvard and you don’t have a tissue keeper,” he said dryly, and she laughed, punching his arm.

She dabbed at her eyes with a tissue.

“I’m a mess,” she said.

“Nah, you’re perfect,” he answered.

“You lie like a rug,” she retorted with a chuckle.

“Are we ok?” he asked, and she nodded.

“So let’s go kill this party,” he answered, getting out and coming around to open the door for her.

******

She’d had a good time with Kyle that night, feeling much lighter than she had in a long time because things were out in the open between them.

During the night, she’d seen Isabel with her date, but Max and Tess were conspicuously absent. It shouldn’t really have surprised her. Max was never one to participate in school functions, and she didn’t know why he would start now, when it was basically over.

She and Kyle spent most of the night with Maria and Alex, who had come together. Liz had broken the news about she and Kyle to Maria in the bathroom.

“I told you! Did I not tell you that the two of you weren’t meant to be together?” she said.

“Maria!” Liz said, exasperated.

“How’s he taking it? Is he heartbroken? You Man Eater,” Maria deadpanned.

“He feels the same way I do and he’s fine,” Liz said. “We’re just going to keep things casual until I leave for Harvard.”

Maria finished touching up her makeup and took Liz’s arm.

“See, now if you’d only had the cajones to talk to Max Evans like I told you to,” she started.

“Maria... shut up,” she retorted, as they rejoined the dance.

*******

She’d sat up long into the night before graduation, working and reworking her speech. She’d rehearsed it earlier with Maria and Alex, and then after they left decided that it needed something else. This was the end of this part of her life here in Roswell. In two days she would be leaving for Harvard for the summer session, and she wasn't even sure when she'd be back with the class load she'd signed up for.

It was now or never. She was giving herself this one last chance to say what she needed to. Maria and Alex had said her speech was perfect earlier, but she felt there was something missing, something left out that she needed to say.

Well... in Liz Parker fashion, at least.

As she sat and thought about what she wanted to say, she wondered if the person she would really be speaking to would even notice. He hadn't in all the years they'd been in school together, so why should this time be any different?

But at least she could say that she tried.

She smiled and began the last paragraph of her speech.

"...as we embark on our new journey, we should never forget the faces that we've seen every day for most of our young adult life..."


***********

The next part will be posted Wednesday.
Last edited by Majesty on Sat Sep 06, 2003 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Majesty
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Part Six

Post by Majesty » Wed Sep 10, 2003 6:27 pm

Hi everyone! Thanks so much for the awesome feedback.

I am still working on reworking the ending for this, but that's a long way off. There's still a long way to go.

Hope you all enjoy the next installment.



Shine- David Gray

I can see it in your eyes
what I know in my heart is true
that our love it has faded
like the summer run through
so we'll walk down the shoreline
one last time together
feel the wind blow our wanderin' hearts
like a feather
but who knows what's waiting
in the wings of time
dry your eyes
we gotta go where we can shine

Don't be hiding in sorrow
or clinging to the past
with your beauty so precious
and the season so fast
no matter how cold the horizon appear
or how far the first night
when I held you near
you gotta rise from these ashes
like a bird of flame
step out of the shadow
we've gotta go where we can shine

For all that we struggle
for all we pretend
it don't come down to nothing
except love in the end
and ours is a road
that is strewn with goodbyes
but as it unfolds
as it all unwinds
remember your soul is the one thing
you can't compromise
take my hand
we're gonna go where we can shine
we're gonna go where we can shine
we're gonna go where we can shine

(and look, and look)
Through the windows of midnight
moonfoam and silver



Part Six

June - 2002

*~Liz~*

The whole morning was a blur, rushing to get dressed and then donning her cap and gown before meeting Maria and Alex down in the Café. They were going together in Maria's car.

Maria and Alex chatted excitedly on the way to the high school, but Liz remained quiet.

As they pulled into the parking lot, seeing the swell of red robes moving into the school, Maria turned to Liz.

"Are you ok?" she asked, with a small frown.

"What's up with you Liz?" Alex said from the back seat and she felt his hand on her shoulder.

"Nothing," she said with a small smile. "I'm just a little nervous is all."

"About what? The speech?" Maria asked. "We went over and over it yesterday. It's perfect."

Liz shook her head.

"Not just the speech. It's just everything. I'm going to be leaving you guys and this place in two days. I don't know what's going to happen, and everything just feels so...I don't know, scary," she said, blinking back tears.

"Oh, don't do this now!" Maria wailed, reaching over to give her a hug. "We're supposed to save the tears till after the photos are taken."

"I'm sorry," Liz said in a trembling voice, and Alex slipped his other arm around Maria from the backseat.

"Girls, now come on," he whined. "I don’t have the hormones for this."

This elicited a laugh from both Liz and Maria, and the both pulled apart want wiped their eyes.

"This is going to be a good day," Maria said. "And look at it this way. Alex is going to be out there in the fall, and it gives me an excuse to come and play the flaky/artsy best friend."

"Yeah," Liz smiled.

"Come on, let's do this," Alex said and jumped out of the car and Maria and Liz followed.

He looped his arms through theirs, and together they walked into the school, signaling the end of one part of their lives, and a new beginning for the next part.

******

Liz sat clutching her speech nervously, not listening to a word the speaker was saying. She glanced at the program again and saw that her speech was next.

She felt a wave of panic wash over her.

Could she really do this?

Peering at the rows in front of her, she spotted the back of Max's head, Tess alongside of him.

This was crazy, she couldn't do this.

But she had to. She couldn't just dump everything she'd written to wing it. This was too important.

It wasn't like what she was saying was that obvious. And if she didn't look at him, then he wouldn't even know, right? It's not like she was mentioning any names, or that she was yelling out that she'd loved Max Evans for years.

Oh God, how could she have been so stupid? Why had she thrown out her original speech? She could have kicked herself now. What was she going to....

"...and now, I'd like to introduce the Valedictorian of the Class of 2002, Miss Elizabeth Parker," the Principal said.

Applause erupted around her and she felt as if her lungs had collapsed. She couldn't breathe. Oh God, she couldn't breathe.

She stood and swayed a bit.

"Left foot, then right foot Liz," she thought to herself as she made her way out of the aisle. She glanced back and Alex gave her a thumbs up.

Crap.

Her face felt like it was on fire, and her heart was thundering in her chest as she walked up to the podium to the applause of her fellow students and their families.

She thought she smiled at the Principal as she shook his hand, but she wasn’t totally sure.

She turned to face the sea of expectant faces, and swallowed hard.

She wanted to run off of the stage. She felt like she was either going to be sick or pass out. What had made her think she could ever do this?

Panic started to tighten her body as her eyes roamed the crowd, and then they settled on the one face that had graced her most romantic fantasies.

And suddenly, she found the courage to continue.

"Good morning everyone," she said, looking out over the audience.

"I'm going to make this short, because I don't have this profound speech about the wonderful turns our lives are going to take in the near future, and truthfully, I don't know what's going to happen. It's an exciting time of new beginnings and adventures, and we're all going to leave the halls of West Roswell to begin our journeys."

"For some of you, that will be close to home. For others, their travels will take them farther. But each person in this room has the power to choose their future, to make their lives what they wish them to be. For some, it will be more difficult than it will be for others. Our paths may take us to places we'd never dreamed. They may push us to limits we never imagined we could be stretched to. Life is a test, and it always has been."

"I don't know about you, but I also feel scared. Many of you, like me, will be moving away from home to strange places with strange faces, and it's a daunting prospect. There are so many unknowns, so many things that could go wrong. Like, I worry that I won't make the grade. I know I'm not alone in feeling that way."

"But the thing is, every time I start to feel that way, I have my friends and family who tell me that I *can* make the grade, that I *will* succeed, because they believe in me. And you know what? Every time they tell me that, I believe it a little more. How can I not? With such wonderful people in my life, I can't help but feel a little awed that they have this faith in me. Sometimes I don't really understand why, but it always makes me a feel a little bit awed."

"I'm going away, across the country in fact, and I know there are going to be times when I am feeling unsure, times when everything might be feeling overwhelming. But I know all I have to do is pick up the phone and my parents or my best friends Maria and Alex, will tell me that I'm being irrational, that everything is going to be fine," she said, smiling at Maria who's eyes had filled with tears. Her best friend waved her hand frantically in front of her face, fanning it, trying to get control over her emotions.

"Cherish the friends you've made here in this town, in these halls. For though it's important to carve out your own path, it is equally important not to forget where you came from, or the friendships and acquaintances you've forged throughout your school career. You never know if your paths will ever cross again. So I hope that you'll take the time to commit these faces to memory. Now is the time to say all the things you maybe wished you had said earlier in the game. Don't leave here with any regrets or any should-haves."

"I know that we all forge on, bravely pursuing our own quests. But as we embark on our new journey, we should never forget the faces that we've seen every day for most of our young adult life. Take a moment to say the things to them that you never got around to saying. Who knows where we'll be ten years from now, or where our paths will lead us? Take a moment to think about how those around you have affected your life, even in the smallest of ways. Some of these people may never know that they've touched your life unless you tell them. Good luck, best wishes and congratulations everyone," she said, stepping back, and was shocked to see her classmates burst into applause, rising from their seats.

She smiled and breathed a sigh of relief that she'd gotten through it, and stood back from the podium. It was then that she caught Max's eyes again. He was standing just like the rest of her classmates, applauding her.

He looked so serious, so...sad. Maybe he hadn't hated school as much as he'd like to think, or as much as she'd assumed for that matter. She knew he worked as hard on his grades as she did. Maybe he was feeling just as scared as she was at what the future might bring.

In that moment she felt a strange kinship with him. They were worlds apart, strangers in so many ways, but when she looked into his eyes, she saw the sadness and uncertainty that she knew were reflected in her own.

She threw caution to the wind and smiled at him, knowing that she had nothing in the world to lose.

“Congratulations, Max,” she whispered from the stage.

Then to her amazement, he smiled at her, something he did so rarely, and the applause seemed to fade away.

Nothing else existed but Max Evans, and the silent message that was passing between them. She would remember it long afterward.

It seemed like an eternity to her, but in reality only a few seconds had passed before she felt the Principal’s hand on her shoulder, and she snapped out of her haze.

She smiled at the Principal, and walked off of the stage.

Truthfully, she didn’t remember much of the rest of the ceremony, coming off of the high of her speech, and thinking about the rare unguarded expression on Max’s face.

She caught Maria looking back at her from Max’s row more than a few times, a teasing smirk on her face. Liz gazed back at her in feigned innocence and then pretended to turn her attention back to the ceremony. She trained her eyes on the Principal until she saw Maria’s head turn forward out of the corner of her eye, and then her focus was immediately drawn back to Max. She couldn’t see his face, but she noticed the frequent glares Tess was turning on him. He apparently didn’t seem to notice, as his head never turned toward her.

Liz wondered what Tess was to him. She’d thought Tess was his girlfriend. It was true that they were never overly demonstrative, but Max was always reserved, so that didn’t surprise her too much. Besides, she’d seen the girl with her arm linked through Max’s more times than she could count.

She’d wished she’d had the nerve to really let him know how she felt, before Kyle had come into the picture, before Tess had come to town. She knew she couldn’t play the game with Kyle anymore, and was sorry that it had taken both of them so long to get up the courage to admit that what they had wasn’t what either of them wanted. She’d always played it safe, never really taking a chance on the unknown.

But she was afraid to get her heart broken. She had pinned all of her girlhood fantasies on this one boy. Maybe it was better that the fantasies remained just that.

Besides, he had Tess, and she was leaving town in a few days.

They received their diplomas, and she applauded just a little bit more enthusiastically than the rest of the class when Max walked up to receive his. His eyes scanned the crowd and rested on hers, and when he smiled at her, her heart quickened exponentially.

Before she knew it, the ceremony was over, and people were milling about, trying to find their loved ones and friends. She had told her parents she would meet then in the parking lot by their car, just to make things easier. But first, she waited for Alex and Maria at their agreed meeting place near the stage.

She was searching the crown for their faces when she was rushed by Maria.

“I can’t believe it! You’re speech was so amazing!” Maria said, giving her a tight squeeze.

Alex ruffled her hair.

“You looked like you were going to pass out there for a minute,” Alex joked, pulling her into his arms.

“I was more worried I was going to be sick,” Liz said, stepping back.

“Well at least the robes were red. Red blends well with green,” Alex laughed, and Liz slapped him playfully.

"I'm so proud of you Liz," Maria said, happily. "My best friend, valedictorian, up in front of all those people...not that I had any doubt your speech would be perfect."

Everything she’d said in the speech was true. Alex and Maria had always supported her, and she considered herself so lucky to call them her best friends.

"Thanks Maria," Liz said, blushing a bit.

Maria smiled at her mischievously.

"But spill, that last part wasn't in the speech you rehearsed with me last night. That wouldn't have been directed toward one particularly handsome specimen, would it?" Maria asked.

"Maria," Liz chided her face turning red.

She felt her face flame further as she noticed Max standing behind Maria. Her eyes met his, and she froze.

Maria frowned as she noticed Liz’s attention turned behind her, and turned.

"Well hey, Max," Maria said, with a smile, turning back to look at her with a knowing grin.

She groaned inwardly. Could this get any worse?

Alex was staring at Max as if he’d never seen him before.

Great, she thought. Now he suspects something too. She watched as Max shifted from one foot to the other and cleared his throat.

"Um...hey Maria, Alex," he said, nodding at them.

His eyes turned back to her, and he smiled.

"Hi Liz," he said softly.

Her breath felt like it was frozen in her lungs, as she returned his smile.

"Glad to be done?" Maria said, with a raised brow, and his attention turned back to her friend.

"Uh, yeah...I guess so," he answered, and looked at her again.

Her eyes met his and she felt as if she could lose herself in the depths of his eyes. For a moment, she forgot where she was.

"Well, Alex and I have to find my mom," Maria said, pulling on Alex's arm.

She felt her face flame, realizing what they were doing. She was such a loser.

"Oh...yeah, she has a conniption in crowds like this," Alex said.

"So congratulations Max," Maria said, "maybe we'll see you over at the Crashdown this summer."

He nodded at them politely.

"We'll see you later Liz," Maria said in a pointed tone, mortifying her completely before dragging Alex away.

Her mortification was complete as Alex turned back to look at her, curious.

Max was watching them walk away.

Oh God, he’d seen Alex’s look. Could this possibly get worse?

He turned toward her.

She wanted to disappear.

Her friends had just completely humiliated her. She should have amended her speech to add that friends were always there to support you, but also had the distinct privilege of embarrassing you like no one else could.

She nervously tucked her hair behind her ear.

"I...I just wanted to say congratulations, and that your speech was really great," he said.

"Thanks Max," she said, feeling the heat rise in her cheeks.

He smiled at her and she looked down away from his eyes, afraid that he would see that she was mooning over him like a fool.

"So, I hear your going to Harvard," he said, uncomfortable.

She nodded.

"I leave in two days," she said.

"Two days?" he surprised. "But I thought at least you'd have the summer..."

Her heart flipped at the implications her lovesick brain was already conjuring up, hearing his last statement. She cursed herself for deciding to take those classes.

Was she dreaming, or did he actually sound...disappointed?

"Yeah, well, I had this opportunity to get some extra credits before starting, so Mom and Dad convinced me to go for it," she said, biting her lip.

"Oh..." he said with a nod, shifting from one foot to the other.

It hit her that she’d never asked him where he was going to be heading for college. She didn’t dare to hope he’d been accepted somewhere on the East Coast.

"What about you?" she asked. "I never got the chance to ask you."

"I...I'm going to be here for the summer. I got a job at the UFO Museum and my Dad wants me to attend community college at some point, but I don't know yet," he said in a lame voice.

"Oh," Liz said nodding, confused. She’d just assumed that he would be going to a great school. It wasn’t like his parents didn’t have the money. His father was a lawyer. Again, she wondered if there was more to Max’s story than met the eye. He was so bright. It was such a waste for him to attend a community college.

But maybe he was staying for Tess. Of course...she should have known. Once again, she cursed herself for having an overactive imagination filled with wishful thinking. For a practical girl, she really was an idiot.

It was time to wake up.

Well," she said. "Best of luck to you Max.”

He stood there, just looking at her, and her embarrassment grew. If Alex had seen what was going on, then maybe Max had realized it too. Maybe he felt sorry for her or something.

She started to back away.

"Liz," he said, and she stopped.

What came next filled her heart with happiness.

"That last part...what you said about the faces you see everyday and the way they’ve affected your life? I just wanted to say thank you to you for being my lab partner. It made the class bearable," he said.

She couldn’t help but smile at him

"Yeah for me too," she said. If only he knew...

He had been the person who had filled her dreams at night, the boy who she measured every other boy against. He had been the boy that had comforted her with a few kind words when she had thought her heart was going to break. And it was time she told him so.

He was smiling shyly at her, and she couldn’t help but smile back.

Yes, maybe this was the time to say it.

"Max, I-"

She felt an arm slide around her.

"Hey Babe! Great job," Kyle said, kissing her cheek.

The moment had passed, and there was nothing she could do about it now that Kyle was here.

"Thanks, Kyle," she said softly, lowering her eyes.

"Hey Max," she heard him say. "Glad to be out of this hell-on-earth?"

"Um, yeah," Max said.

She looked up to see him moving away.

"Well, good luck at Harvard, Liz," he said, not meeting her eyes. "You too Kyle, congratulations on graduating."

"I'll see you around," he said, turning away.

She pulled away from Kyle before she’d even made a conscious decision to do it. Her fingers fell on his arm, squeezing lightly, and he turned toward her.

She looked up at him, knowing that this would probably be the last time she would see him for awhile, and knowing that there was a possibility that he might leave Roswell.

She acted on impulse, following her heart, wrapping her arms around him, feeling for the first and probably last time what it would feel like to be in them, and it was everything she imagined it would be.

She didn’t think, she just acted rising on her toes to kiss his cheek.

He smelled so good, a mix of soap and something that was uniquely Max.

His skin was so soft, she thought, just like she’d imagined it would be.

She leaned toward his ear.

"Best of luck to you too Max. I'll miss you," she said, pulling away before he could say anything, because there was nothing to say, and the moment was perfect, a few seconds in time that she would think about for a long time afterward.

******

That night she met Maria and Alex after having dinner with her parents. She was going to be finishing up her packing for the next few days, so they’d decided to make a night of it.

They sat in the coffee shop on Main for hours.

Maria finally brought up what they’d all been avoiding.

“What am I going to do without you here?” Maria said with a sigh, resting her chin on her hand.

“Hey, I’m going to be here for the summer,” Alex protested.

“Yeah, and you leave too in August, and I am going to be completely alone,” Maria retorted miserably.

“It’s only prolonging the inevitable. You two are going to be something, and I...I am going to have the dubious title of ‘Oldest Waitress at the Crashdown Café,’ she said.

“You two will come back with your fancy cars and fancy clothes, and I’ll still be stuck here in that damned uniform. I’m cursed!” she said.

“Maria,” Liz started.

“No...no,” Maria answered shaking her head. “I’m sorry. Let’s not go there.”

Alex looked from Liz to Maria. Liz could see the wary look on his face and smiled wistfully. It would probably be one of the last times he would wonder if he were going to drown in girly emotions from his two best friends.

She was going to miss them terribly, and she hadn’t felt it more poignantly then she did in that moment. She blinked back the tears that threatened to spill from her eyes.

Alex stood.

“Well, I am going to blow this popsicle stand before it gets too mushy,” he said, leaning over to kiss Liz’s cheek.

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” he said, and she nodded, giving him a shaky smile.

“Don’t sweat it Parker. You’re going to be fine,” he said.

“I know,” she said, not quite believing it at the moment.

“And you, don’t get her all worked up,” Alex said, pointing a finger at Maria.

“Moi?” Maria said, putting a hand on her chest.

“Oh don’t even try it,” Alex said with a smirk.

“Oh just go home and leave us to our hormones,” Maria said, returning his smirk.

Alex said goodnight and left the two of them at the table.

Maria laced her fingers together and leaned forward in anticipation.

“So...spill it!” she said.

“Spill what?” Liz asked, leaning back.

“Oh no....don’t even try to hedge your way out of this one. What did Max Evans say to you?” she asked impatiently.

“Nothing,” Liz hedged, embarrassed.

“Don’t give me that! I saw the way you two were ogling each other,” Maria said.

“I was not ogling him!” Liz said. “And he certainly wasn’t ogling me...”

“Are you deliberately obtuse, or is it just an instinct?” Maria said, exasperated. “He had that whole mooning thing going on. Please don’t tell me you didn’t see it!”

“I didn’t see it Maria,” Liz answered, pausing. “At least I don’t think I did...”

“You did!” Maria said excitedly. “Finally, after all of these years, you finally believe me.”

Liz shook her head.

“It was an emotional day. I think everyone was feeling a little sentimental. I don’t think it meant anything. Besides, he’s with Tess,” Liz said.

“Says who?” Maria asked. “I give him more credit than to date a beast like that.”

“Maria, that’s mean!” Liz said, with a laugh. “We don’t even know her.”

“I don’t have to know her to know what she is,” Maria said. “All you have to do is look at her. Besides, he’s been eyeing you forever.”

“According to you,” Liz challenged.

“That’s right, according to me, your best friend,” she answered. “Come on, admit it Liz. You’ve been into him for like...forever. Yet, you go and date Kyle for three years. Granted, he’s not as bad as I originally thought he was, but still...”

“Maria, Kyle was good to me!” Liz said.

“I’m not saying he wasn’t. But he wasn’t the one, was he?” she said. “You made every excuse in the book not to talk to Max Evans, the guy you’ve been secretly fantasizing about for years, and don’t tell me I’m wrong, because I know you too well, and I’ve seen you looking at him when you thought I wasn’t watching. So my question is, what were you so afraid of?”

Liz wasn’t sure how to answer that, because she knew Maria was right.

“I did try to talk to him in class and at the Crash,” she said lamely.

“Oh yeah, sure you did,” she snorted.

“Can I take your order, Max? Can you hand me that beaker, Max?
Do you want fries with that, Max?” she mimicked.

“Ok, so maybe I was afraid,” Liz said with a sigh. “Maybe I knew I had dreamed up this guy in my head, this perfect guy that I knew I could fall in love with. And maybe I was afraid that if I said something, if I really tried...that he would laugh at me, or look at me like I was crazy. Or maybe I was afraid that he would turn out to be nothing like I’d imagined him to be, and if that were true...well then, maybe there isn’t anyone out there like that, and that kind of guy really doesn’t exist. Maybe I didn’t want to face that.”

Maria sat with her mouth hanging open.

“You did not just say that!” she said. “You didn’t just tell me that you didn’t even consider letting Max know you liked him because you were afraid he wasn’t going to be perfect.”

“That’s not exactly what I meant,” Liz said.

How could she explain it? How could she put it into words? She’d watched him every day for years. Max Evans was different than any boy she’d ever known. She’d just known it instinctively. She knew that if she opened her heart to him, she would fall hard, and she wasn’t sure that she would be able to take it getting broken. Just because she had these idyllic fantasies, didn’t mean they actually existed. But she wanted them to, oh how she wanted them to...

“Maria, it wasn’t like he even really noticed me. He was polite, and we made small-talk, but that was it,” she said.

“Well maybe he was afraid you wouldn’t live up to everything he’d dreamed of,” Maria retorted sarcastically.

“You’re not helping me here. There are other reasons, Maria,” she said. “I almost did say something, once.”

“Really...” Maria said, perking up. “When?”

"It was when Grandma Claudia was sick,” Liz said.

“You never told me about this,” Maria frowned.

“I never told anyone,” she said. “It was just...a bad time. I was in the park one night, the night she went into a coma. Max must have been walking, and he saw me. I was pretty upset, and he said some things, and it wasn’t like he was trying to make it go away or anything, but he was so sweet.”

“And?” Maria said.

“And then Isabel showed up, and I just left,” she said.

“Isabel the cold bucket of water,” Maria muttered rolling her eyes, and Liz shot her a look.

“ After the funeral, when I came back to school, I wanted to thank him for what he said, but he was so distant, closed off I guess, and I just lost my nerve. Even now when I think about it, I think he was probably just trying to be nice,” she said.

Maria shook her head.

“Max Evans never says much to anyone. If what he said to you was enough to make you feel better, then that has to mean something, because none of us could say the right thing,” Maria answered.

“I second-guessed myself, and I just let it go. I know it sounds stupid, but I was afraid that if I pushed it, I would make an idiot out of myself...you know, making a mountain out of a molehill. Like maybe he would have said that to anyone who was sitting in the park crying in the middle of the night. Do you understand what I mean?” she asked.

“I guess,” Maria answered, sighing. “But Liz, I really do think there’s something there, and even you admit you saw something today.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Liz said. “I’m leaving in two days. I guess when I changed my speech, I wanted to say something, and maybe I did in my own lame way.”

“What do you mean?” Maria asked.

“After you guys left, he said that he was glad that I was his lab partner,” Liz said. “And I don’t know, it sort of seemed like maybe he was disappointed when I told him I was leaving. But that could have just been my imagination.”

Maria shook her head.

“You can’t just let this go, Liz. It’s going to kill you if you leave and you don’t know what could have been,” she said.

“No, that’s exactly what I am going to do. I am going to let it go,” Liz said.

“Why?” Maria asked in disbelief.

“Because, I think I would feel worse if I found out that there was something there, and I had to leave. I can’t do it Maria. Leaving you guys is hard enough. I can’t handle anything else,” she said.

“That’s a stupid way to look at it!” Maria said, leaning back.

“No, it’s the smart way to look at it,” Liz countered. “Maybe someday I’ll come back, and maybe he’ll still be here. I don’t know. But I do know that now isn’t the right time.”

“What you just said tells me that if it would bother you that much to leave here, and you’ve barely spoken to the guy, then you’ve got it bad,” Maria said.

Liz shrugged.

“Maybe I do. But I can’t change anything now. It’s better that I don’t know what might have been for now,” she said. “Don’t give me a hard time, Maria. This is bad enough as it is.”

Maria studied her for a second.

“Fine, I’ll drop it. But I want to state for the record that I think it’s a mistake,” she said.

“Duly noted,” Liz answered.


**********

The next part will be posted sometime this weekend.

User avatar
Majesty
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Post by Majesty » Sun Sep 14, 2003 9:35 am

High2Maintenance - Thank you! :) I know I am guilty of infrequent updates, so I 'm surprised anyone is still reading. I know people lose interest when authors seem to drop the ball. But this one's pretty much finished, so at least I can say there will be no pauses on this one. :)

Thanks to everyone for the feedback.

Part Seven

Fall, 2002

*~Liz~*

Before she knew it, she was in Boston and starting her classes.

She’d moved off campus into an apartment with a girl named Lydia. They’d gotten along really well, both serious students. Liz was grateful, because one of her fears was that she wold wind up with someone who was a partier, and she just couldn’t afford to get behind on her studies. She’d decided to double up on her classes to graduate early, which meant doubling up on the stress as well.

In the end it would be worth it, but there were times when she cursed herself at 3 am in the morning, cramming for a test, thinking that she must have been crazy to try this.

The workload was demanding, and she’d barely had time to eat, never mind think of Max Evans.

Before she knew it, it was Christmas break. She had made the Dean’s List, and couldn’t wait to tell her parents. Her heart was doing somersaults on the flight home, still in late night study mode.

She got in late, and would only be staying for a week, because she was taking interim classes. Her father had been waiting at the gate for her, and she flew into his arms, savoring the bear hug he reserved only for her.

“Hey kid,” he said brusquely, and she detected the tremor in his voice.

“I missed you Daddy,” she answered into his shirt. The truth was she hadn’t realized just how much she had missed him. Her schoolwork had kept her so busy she’d barely had time to breathe, but seeing him now she felt like a little girl again. Her heart tightened painfully.

She was having that first moment. She’d heard about them, the ones when you realize that you’re grown up and your parents aren’t going to be around forever. The moment when you wish in that moment that you could just stop time and jump off of its crazy carousel and just be the little girl without worries or responsibilities.

She gave him another quick squeeze and pulled away to look at him with a smile and tears in her eyes.

“How’s Mom?” she asked, wiping at her eyes.

“She’s good,” he said nodding. “She’s been a little antsy all day. She wanted to come with me to pick you up, but the Crash is a zoo tonight and Agnes called in sick.”

They laughed together, the running joke not lost on either one of them.

“I guess nothing ever changes around here, does it?” she said with a grin.

“Did you really think it would?” Jeff said with a wry look, and then broke into a smile.

“Come on, let’s get your bag and head home, before your mother starts calling my cell in a panic,” he said putting his arm around her, and she nodded.

They chattered about inconsequential things for most of the ride, and then she fell silent, looking out at the arid landscape that was so different from the one she’d come to know in Roswell. She hadn’t really appreciated it until she’d left it.

In fact, she hadn’t realized how much she’d missed Roswell until her father drove her into the city limits. Everything was familiar and it was comforting.

She glanced at her father, intent on the road and smiled. When had he gotten so...mature looking? She didn’t remember the gray that now sprinkled his temples, or the little wrinkles that had made a home at the corner of his eyes. Why hadn’t she noticed?

“I have some news Dad,” she said. “I was going to wait to tell you and Mom together, but...”

“Don’t tell me you met some rich young Pre-Med guy,” he groaned.

“No,” she laughed.

“There’s no guy. I don’t have time for dates with the coursework I loaded myself up with during that one moment of temporary insanity,” she said in a dry voice.

“Is it too much, Lizzie?” he asked, glancing at her, concerned.

“No,” she said shaking her head. “It’s a lot of work, but it paid off.”

She smiled.

“ I made Dean’s List,” she said in a low voice.

A grin spread from one end of Jeff’s face to the other.

“You wouldn’t be pulling my leg, would you now? You wouldn’t be that cruel to your old man,” he said.

“No, I really did,” she said with a smile.

Her father let out a yell, and she couldn’t help but feel the rush of happiness that her father was so thrilled. He and her mother had worked so hard to send her to Harvard, to give her the opportunities that they never had. They’d always been so proud and supportive of her, and the look of pride in her father’s eyes was worth every late night, and every hour of sleep that she’d lost.

“I can’t believe it!” he practically shouted. “Your mom is going to be so proud.”

She grinned, and he leaned over and gave her a quick squeeze with his free arm.

“That’s all I ever wanted Dad, for you guys to be proud of me,” she said.

“I couldn’t be more proud of you than I am right now,” he said with a smile.

He started talking about a party to celebrate and she smiled.

She looked out the window at the town that she’d grown up in. It looked so much smaller than it used to. Nothing much had changed, and she found herself glad.

They passed the high school, and drove into town, past Senor Chows, the alien-themed store that Maria’s mom ran, and finally the UFO Museum almost directly across the street from the place she called home.

Looking at the bright lights of the “UFO” mounted to the awning of the restaurant she smiled. She remembered how it used to embarrass her, but now she felt a sense of coming home.

She couldn’t wait to see Maria and Alex. They’d spoken frequently over the past few months through email and on the phone, but she missed them terribly.

Her father killed the engine and beamed at her.

“I’m glad you’re home Lizzie,” he said warmly.

“Me too Dad,” she said, and he got out, moving to the back of the car to get her bags.

She paused for a minute before getting out, turning to look behind her at the building across the street.

A familiar jeep was parked in front of the UFO Museum. Max’s jeep.

Was he still into his secret fascination with aliens? She suppressed a laugh. She doubted he would ever find anything useful in there. He couldn’t still be working at that place. It was a tourist trap.

Maybe he was somewhere else in town. There weren’t many available parking spots that she could see. The town was decorated festively for the holidays, and even at this late hour, people were walking along the sidewalks, finishing their holiday shopping.

A screech snapped her head face-forward as Maria came running out of the restaurant clad in her waitress uniform complete with bobbing antennae.

Liz jumped out of the car and was pushed back into the door as Maria tackled her.

“Oh my God! I can’t believe you’re back!” Maria screamed.

“I can’t believe it either,” Liz returned happily, pulling back to look at her friend.

“Look at your hair, it’s gotten so long!” Liz exclaimed, pulling on her ponytail.

“Yeah well, contrary to popular belief, some things do change around here,” Maria scoffed with a grin.

“You look great Maria,” Liz said.

“And you my friend, look like road pizza,” Maria admonished. “Don’t they let you sleep out there?”

Liz shrugged.

“Finals,” she offered as way of an explanation for the dark smudges she knew were ringing her eyes.

“Bastards,” Maria cursed with a good-natured frown.

“Come on, come inside. Your mom’s waiting for you,” she said, pulling the door open for Jeff, who had his hands full with her bags.

“Dad, let me help with that,” Liz said, trying to take one of the bags.

“No way,” Jeff said, shooing her off. “One of the benefits of being on the Dean’s List is that your Dad brings your stuff in.”

“Wait,” Maria said stopping, looking at her wide-eyed. “Did I just hear Dean’s List???”

“Keep that on the down-low Maria,” Jeff said. “Nancy’s going to be furious if she finds out she’s the last to know.”

“My lips are sealed Mr. P,” she said, as he went inside, letting the door close behind him.

She looked at Liz with barely contained excitement.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked. “I just talked to you the other night and you didn’t say a word.”

“I didn’t know for sure. I hadn’t gotten my final English grade yet. It was hinging on it,” Liz said.

“Dean’s List! You really are a geek!” Maria teased. “I’m so proud of you!”

“Thanks,” Liz smiled, and paused, just looking at her life-long friend.

“I really missed you Maria,” she said.

“Back at ya,” Maria said, giving her a quick hug. “Come on, let’s go inside before your mom has a conniption. She’s been waiting all night.

Arm in arm, they walked into the restaurant together.

********

Later, she sat on her balcony as she had so many nights before she’d left for Boston. Though she was tired, she was still on her suicidal studying schedule, and she was too wound up to sleep.

She smiled as she remembered the proud smile on her mother’s face when she revealed her latest accomplishment. She and her mother were nowhere near as close as she was with her father, but she always knew that her mother loved her.

Her parents had sacrificed so much so that she could chase her dreams, and she hadn’t wanted to let them down. There were times that she was afraid that she wouldn’t live up to all the hopes they had for her. But now, seeing how proud the two of them were that she was living her dream and that she had accomplished so much, she knew that all of it was worth it.

Maria had finished her shift and they’d resumed their ritual of ice cream and gossip, lying on her bed in her room.

“So get this,” Maria said. “I have some dirt about Pam Troy.”

“Ooh,” Liz said with wide eyes. “Spill.”

“Well a certain former quarterback from West Roswell supposedly got her knocked up,” Maria said.

“Paulie??” Liz exclaimed. “You’re kidding me!”

“Nope,” Maria replied with a satisfied grin. “It seems that Ms. Perfect decided to get good and drunk with a couple of her girlfriends after work, and Paulie offered to take her home, and well...he took her home all right.”

Liz laughed.

“So back in October, Paulie’s walking into the Crashdown and she comes in screaming after him, telling him he’d better step up, because it takes two to tango,” Maria giggled.

Liz rolled her eyes.

“That must have been some scene,” she said.

“You should have seen your father’s face. He didn’t know what to do. Here’s this screeching girl like, slamming on this huge guy in the middle of the restaurant. They cause such a scene, Agnes said she had to go home sick.”

The two of them burst into laughter.

“I wish I’d been here to see it,” Liz said.

Maria shook her head.

“No you don’t,” she said. “It wasn’t pretty. I’ll never look at Paulie the same way again. What a wimp.”

Liz filled Maria in on the non-existent social life she had at school, but it wasn’t long before Maria had brought up the subject of boys.

“So, did you meet a rich and brilliant guy to sweep you off your feet yet?” Maria asked, spooning some Ben and Jerry’s into her mouth.

Liz smiled.

“My boyfriends are my books right now, Maria,” Liz scolded. “I don’t have time for anything else.”

“Oh come on!” she said. “Don’t tell me there aren’t any good looking guys in Boston.”

Liz shrugged.

“No there are. I just...I don’t know. I don’t really want to get involved right now,” she said. “My life is hectic enough as it is.”

“You know,” Maria said, wiggling her eyebrows, “Max is still in town. He still works across the street at the UFO Center. Maybe you should look him up this week.”

“He still works there? Really?” Liz frowned.

“Yep,” Maria said, taking another spoonful of ice cream. “He comes in to the Crash almost every day to pick up lunch. I’ve heard him asking your Dad how you’re doing a couple of times.”

“He’s probably just being polite,” Liz answered, dismissing it aloud, yet feeling a thrill travelling down her spine.

“Whatever,” Maria sighed, exasperated by her inability to see what she saw.

“Is Tess still around?” Liz asked, trying to sound nonchalant.

Maria smirked.

“Yeah, she comes in at least once a week with Max, Isabel and Michael Guerin,” she said.

“See,” Liz pointed out.

“I don’t even know if she’s with him,” Maria countered. “I mean, I think she thinks she’s with him, but looking at him, it’s almost like he pretends she isn’t there sometimes.”

“Maria, you’re seeing what you want to see,” Liz said.

“Oh fine, whatever,” Maria said, dropping her spoon. “Don’t believe me.”

“It’s not that I don’t believe you, Maria. It doesn’t matter either way. I told you that I don’t have time for anything, even if there was the almost non-existent chance that he might even look at me,” she said.

“Liz, I’m going to say something, and then I promise I’ll drop it from now on. Life is short, and making the grade is great, but you have to live a little. You know, take a chance. You said it yourself in your speech, that you never know what could happen,” she pointed out.

“Maria....” Liz warned.

“Ok, fine. Fine,” she said. “I won’t say another word.”

“Ok,” Liz said, grabbing the spoon from her friend.

“So, what about you?” she asked.

“What about me?” Maria said, rolling over on to her back.

“You’re shoving Max Evans down my throat, but what about you?” Liz countered.

“Oh please, there are slim pickins in this town,” Maria said. “I’m just going to have to come to visit you and find me a rich, beautiful Harvard man.”

Liz laughed.

“You just tell me when,” she said, rolling to lie next to her.

“What do you think the future holds for us? Seriously,” Maria said.

“I don’t know,” Liz sighed.

There was a quiet pause.

“I’m really afraid that this is all I’m going to be,” Maria said softly. “That I’m going to marry some townie and take over my mom’s business and die a slow death here.”

“Maria,” Liz chuckled. “You can be whatever you want to be.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” Maria said in a quiet voice. “You have options.”

Liz turned and leaning on her elbow.

“So do you,” she said, seeing her friend’s eyes filled with tears.

Maria smiled and let out a humorless laugh.

“Ugh, look at me getting all morose,” she said, sitting up. “Time for me to go home and catch my beauty sleep."

Maria climbed off the bed, taking the carton of ice cream and spoon with her.

“I’ll um...I’ll talk to you tomorrow, ok?” she said, walking toward the door.

“Maria,” Liz called, concerned at the change in her friend’s attitude.

“I’m fine,” she smiled. “I promise. I’ll see you tomorrow, ‘k?”

“Ok,” Liz said hesitantly, seeing that she didn’t want to talk about it.

“I’m glad you’re back Liz,” Maria said.

:”Me too,” Liz answered, and Maria was gone.

Now she sat thinking about what she’d said.

Did Maria really feel like there were no options for her?

Liz had always half-hoped that she would pursue some sort of career in music. She had a beautiful voice, and when she’d performed at the local karaoke bar, people had loved her.

Did she really think things were that hopeless?

It bothered her to even think that her friend had given up. It wasn’t fair.


*********

See you on Wednesday....

User avatar
Majesty
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Post by Majesty » Wed Sep 17, 2003 5:50 pm

Thanks again everyone for the feedback.

Well, we sort of know from the first chapters that Maria has gotten out of Roswell. I am mainly focusing on Max and Liz because that's who I am best at writing, but the other characters will be featured in the story, as well as a new character that's introduced in this chapter.

So, on with the story.

Happy Frappy - Guster

Not much of this makes sense to me
The river leaves run cold and dry
But it keeps me from swinging tree to tree
And sometimes I’m too scared to even try
Hashing through the possibilities
They seem as endless as the sky
You seek the truth and the quiet breeze
But the air is too thin to reply

Well I know that’s where I’ll never be
Because I can see the summer’s done
I try to let the river flow in and out of me
And pray I float the way I think I want
And pray I float at all

Distant notions of subtle residue
Cling to minds from our past
Tell us what is what and who made who
But time’s events move us too fast
Simple sentiments whisked away by anxious steel wool
Struggling to content ourselves with what we think best
That what makes happy of which we seem never full
Is actually more than plenty though it is already possessed

Well I know that’s where I’ll never be
Because I can see the summer’s done
I try to let the river flow in and out of me
And pray I float the way I think I want
And pray I float at all

Not much of this makes sense to me
The river leaves run cold and dry
But it keeps me from swinging tree to tree
And sometimes I’m too scared to even try
Utter confusion feigns clarity
Scattered delusions excuses destiny
It’s never exactly how it appears to be
It’s too much for any of us who even try to see

Well I know that’s where I’ll never be
Because I can see the summer’s done
I try to let the river flow in and out of me
And pray I float the way I think I want
And pray I float at all



Part Eight

Winter 2003

*~Liz~*

Christmas came and went and New Years Day was upon her before she knew it, and she was returning to Boston.

She was sad to be leaving so soon, but classes waited for no one. She’d barely had time to see Alex after Christmas, because he’d gone with his parents to visit his grandmother in Albuquerque. She’d spent most of her time with Maria. Her parents had given Maria the week off paid, and they’d spent the break shopping and catching up.

She soon became wrapped up in her classes again, and fell into the routine of sleep-deprivation and constant studying.

Even Lydia couldn’t keep up with her, and more times than not, Liz would look up from her notes at the kitchen table to see her passed out on her books.

Truthfully, she wasn’t sure how she was doing it either. Her schedule was brutal, and she was amazed she hadn’t gotten sick yet with the harsh Boston winter. She knew she was pushing herself too hard, which is why she said yes when a classmate from the previous semester, a boy named Justin McKinney, asked her if she needed a study partner after class one day.

She'd been gathering up her books when a shadow fell across her desk. She looked up to meet the most amazing emerald eyes.

"Liz Parker, right?" he said in a rich, husky voice.

"Um...yeah," she said, nodding her head, tucking her hair behind her ear.

"I'm Justin. Justin McKinney," he said.

Tall with attractively mussed, spiky midnight hair and deep green eyes, she would have never guessed him to be a science major if she hadn’t seen it herself. There were times when she had trouble keeping up with him in class.

She smiled politely, wondering what it was that he wanted. When she didn't say anything further, he cleared his throat.

"So listen, I was wondering, do you have a study partner? Because I have finally conceded that I need help with some of this stuff," he said. "I can't keep up."

"Then I'm really in trouble," Liz groaned, shaking her head.

"Huh?" he asked, confused.

"You were one of the best students in class last semester, so if you're having trouble, then I'm screwed," she said.

"You weren't exactly doing badly last semester," he pointed out, with a grin. "Anyway, I've seen you on campus cramming, and I just thought that since we're in the same class, we might benefit from enduring the hell of cramming together."

She was silent, weighing it out.

"Look, I wouldn't ask, but I have even less time than I did last semester, and I need to keep my GPA," he said, shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans. There was something about him, something she couldn't put her finger on that momentarily made her pulse quicken.

"No...I mean yeah," she said hastily. "I could really use the help too."

"Great," he said, smiling. "So, how about Tuesday night then?"

"Ok, yeah," she smiled. "How about at the Java House?"

She didn’t really know him that well, but he seemed to be a nice guy, and he wasn’t exactly hard to look at either.

They’d met at the coffee shop, and she immediately felt at ease with him. They had many of the same studying techniques, which made it fairly easy to coordinate their notes.

What she hadn’t counted on was his sense of humor. She’d found herself laughing until her stomach hurt at some of his stories.

“...so then he says to me, ‘Dude, I dare ya. You don’t have the balls to do it,’” he said.

Liz was clutching her stomach, trying to squelch her laughter.

“Please tell me you didn’t,” she said.

“Hell yeah, I did!” he retorted with a laugh.

“Oh my God!” Liz laughed.

“Yeah I felt pretty stupid the next day when I sobered up. It kinda sucked to find out that one of my so-called friends captured it on film for posterity,” he said. “Picture it. Me flying buck naked off of my friend’s roof into the pool. I didn’t live that one down for a long time. I was afraid it was going to wind up in the yearbook or something.”

She was laughing so hard that she was gasping for breath, tears coming out of the corner of her eyes.

“I’m glad you find amusement in my shame,” he grinned.

“I’m sorry,” she said, trying to keep a straight face, only to wind up bursting into another fit of giggles.

“Nah, it’s ok. It is kind of funny, in a 'wanting to crawl under a rock and die' sort of way,” he laughed.

He paused, looking at her.

“So, thanks for this,” he said. “You know, studying with me and all. The new night job I took to pay the bills sort of puts a damper on my study time, so this is helping. I think we got a lot covered tonight.”

“Yeah me too,” she said, “and don’t thank me. With the course load I have, just having someone to bounce things off of and keep everything straight is really such a help.”

She'd been shocked when he'd told her earlier that he worked two jobs on top of his full-time course load, and he also tutored teens in science in his spare time. The money wasn't great, but he said that it was just something he liked to do, because he'd had a sort of mentor when he was younger that had helped him out in high school. He attributed that to where he was now, and wanted to do the same for others if he could. She had no idea how he was doing it, and felt a little sheepish at being overwhelmed with just her course load when she didn't even have to worry about having a job on top of that.

“Good,” he smiled, raising one eyebrow. “So, what do you say to say...Thursday night again?”

“Yeah, that sounds great,” she answered, nodding her head.

“So are you ready? I'll walk you home?” he said, putting some money on the table for their coffee.

“Oh no, that’s ok. I’m right around the corner,” she said, shaking her head and pulling her jacket on..

“Please, I’d feel better doing it. It’s late,” he said.

She shrugged.

“Ok,” she said.

They’d left the coffee shop walking into the cold night, heading toward her apartment.

“So, you’re like not right out of high school obviously,” Liz said. “What’s your story?”

He cringed.

“You make it sounds as if I’m like thirty or something,” he said.

She blushed, lowering her head.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” she said.

“I know,” he said with a smile, nudging her shoulder with his.

“I got a little side-tracked,” he said. “Lots of ambition, not enough money. So I worked for awhile and attended night classes at a local college in New York. I’d been accepted here, but I deferred for two years, with special permission from the head of the Science Department. Don’t tell anyone that. It’s not normally done and he could get into a lot of trouble.”

She shook her head.

“Anyway, I’m finally here, and I’ll be damned if needing money is going to keep me from what I’ve always dreamed of doing,” he said.

“Can’t your parents help you out a bit?” she asked.

“They’re dead,” he said.

“I’m sorry, I...I didn’t know,” she answered, wondering how much further she was going to stick her foot into her mouth before the evening was over.

“No, it’s ok,” he said glancing at her. “It happened a long time ago. It was a car accident. I went to live with my Aunt, but was older, and she didn’t have much. She died six months ago. I was able to get financial aid and some loans, but scholarships were a lot harder to get when you are out of high school for two years.”

“Oh,” she said, not knowing what else to say.

So that’s the whole sordid story as to why I am working two jobs,” he said with a grin. “ I don’t even know why I’m telling you this.”

“No, I’m glad you did,” she said, feeling a new respect for him.

She thought she had it bad with just her class work, but thinking of how hard he had to work at school and still had to go to work made her think she was spoiled. She didn’t even have to work with her partial scholarship and the money her parents were contributing. They didn’t want her to have to worry about a job while keeping her grades up, and she knew she’d never be able to do the double up she was currently doing if she had to worry about a job too.

When they reached her apartment, she was almost sorry the evening was over. She'd hoped that they would get through their studying, but she hadn't counted on fun being thrown into the mix.

They stood uncomfortably for a moment at the door.

"Thanks for walking me home," she said with a shy smile.

He nodded, with a grin.

"I...had a good time," he said.

"Yeah, shocker, right? I did too," she said. "Who would have thought science could be such a blast?"

He chuckled.

"Well, it wasn't exactly the science," he said. "More like the various ways Justin has humiliated himself."

Liz laughed.

"Well...." she said.

"So yeah, there's plenty more where those came from. I can keep you entertained for whole semesters with the dumb things I've done," he joked.

She shook her head and looked at him mischievously.

"I might just hold you to that," she said.

He shoved his hands in his pockets and started to back away.

"So, I'll see you in class," he said.

She nodded. He turned and started to walk away, and glanced back again smiling at her. She bit her lip with a smile.

"'Night," she said with a small wave.

"G'night," he answered. She watched him from the door as he moved further away from the house turning back to look at the house frequently.

*******

Summer, 2003

Liz found herself in a maelstrom of homework and class experiments. She was grateful that she had accepted Justin's offer for a study partner. At least together, they completed twice the work. Then it was just a matter of going over the other's notations and double-checking their integrity.

It was easy to be around him, for though he was serious about the work, he managed to make it fun with wisecracks or half-hearted complaints about the work. She knew as well as he did that there was nothing he'd rather be doing, even during the most tedious parts, but he made it bearable.

She found herself spending more time with him as the months went on, and as time went on, she learned a little more about who he was and where he came from.

He'd worked hard to get where he was. He hadn't had it easy at all, and there were times when he talked about the long hours of work, or squeezing in studying in between jobs, that she wondered how he had done it.

But it was his dream, and she understood his passion for science, because it had always been hers.

But it wasn't until that summer that she really began to see what kind of person he truly was. She had decided once again to remain in Boston for extra classes, feeling that any extra credits she could earn would only benefit her. She needed to stay ahead of the game.

Justin too was taking classes, but he didn't have to worry about going home, for he had no home to go to outside of Boston. Most of the other students had gone home for the summer, and the roommate of his that had stayed behind was rarely around. All along, she wondered how he found the time to date at all, but he managed it along with work and school.

In the beginning, she asked about his dates out of polite interest. Each time, she’d noticed that the names of his dates changed on a regular basis.

Then she started to notice the pattern. He never went out with a girl more than twice, and it was rare that one of them even got that second date. More than once, she’d been with him, only to be confronted by an angry, buxom woman who didn’t appreciate that he’d never returned her calls. She never said anything when they glared coldly at her, assuming she was his next conquest. She figured it was up to him if he wanted to tell them, and truthfully she didn’t really care what they thought.

On his rare days off, they would choose some area of the city they had never been and would make a day of it. At first, she thought that maybe he felt sorry for her because she was in the city without anyone she knew. But gradually as the summer months passed, she began to realize that it wasn't only she that enjoyed his company. He enjoyed hers too. It was nice to have a friend away from home, someone that didn't know everything about her.

It had been a brutally hot August, where her mediocre air-conditioning did nothing to cut the damp heat.
Classes had ended and they were both enjoying the week of free time before the next session began. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating.

“God, I can’t stand this anymore!” Liz exclaimed as they sat on the front steps to her apartment. Her skin felt clammy, her clothes damp with the humidity.

“Roswell was hot in the summer, but nothing like this. This is killing me,” she moaned.

“Oh just buck it up,” Justin said with a smirk. “It’s not that bad.”

“Easy for you to say,” she grumbled, wiping at the back of her neck. “You’re used to this whole East Coast humidity thing.”

“It’s not like I had much of a choice,” he sighed.

She glanced over at him.

He sat with his elbows on his knees, his head tilted back, eyes closed, with a smile on his face. His t-shirt clung to his chest, his shiny black hair in its usual unruly state.

“Are you ever in a bad mood?” she asked, exasperated.

He opened one eye to look at her sideways, and shook his head.

“Should I be?” he asked.

“Well yeah, maybe you should,” she said with a huff. “You make me feel like a lousy person. I’ve had everything handed to me, and you’ve had to struggle for everything. Yet, I’m sitting her complaining, while you sit there with a smile on your face. It’s just not normal. Either that, or I’m just spoiled.”

“I learned a long time ago not to sweat the small stuff, no pun intended,” he said with a laugh.

“Yeah, I’ve kinda pegged you as one of those ‘glass is half full’ people a long time ago,” she said, with a grin.

He shrugged.

“If I let all of the bad crap get to me, I’d never get out of bed,” he said simply.

“So, why aren’t you out in some air-conditioned club with one of your many dates?” she asked.

That was the one thing about Justin she just didn’t get. He couldn’t seem to stick with a girl. Since she’d known him, he’d been out with so many women, she'd lost count. She didn’t quite understand it, because it contradicted everything she thought she knew about him. She’d never had the nerve to ask him about it before, but it was out of her mouth before she’d even thought about it.

He flashed a grin at her, leaning back, resting his elbows on the step and stretching his legs out in front of him.

“What, and miss the captivating company of my geeky science study partner?” he scoffed.

She nudged him with a smile.

“I’m serious,” she said. “My apartment porch isn’t exactly the social epicenter of the city.”

He bit back a grin and didn’t say anything. For a moment, all that could be heard were the infrequent passing cars.

“Why is it you can’t stick with one of them?” she asked.

She noticed his jaw tighten.

“I don’t know,” he said finally. “I got burned once, and I guess I just don’t want the entanglements.”

“Mind if I ask what happened?” she said, mimicking him and leaning back against the step, crossing her tanned legs in front of her.

He looked away, lacing his fingers together.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. That was rude of me,” she said, feeling stupid for overstepping their boundaries. Things had always remained light between the two of them, and it was obvious he was uncomfortable with the turn of the conversation, and now she didn’t know how to turn it back.

He was quiet for a moment.

“Her name was Jennifer,” he said. “My first girlfriend from back home, before my Aunt died. She was so beautiful,” he said in a low voice.

He stared out at the street for a long moment before clearing his throat.

“We dated for like three years, and I really thought she was it for me. We were close for a long time. I had even kind of unofficially asked her to marry me,” he said with a wry laugh.

“Really?” Liz said, turning to face him.

“ It was stupid I know. We were only seventeen. She was like me, from the wrong side of town, know what I mean? We had all of these plans, how we were going to get out. I was going to go to school and she would someday be the wife of a famous scientist. We were both naïve,” he said bitterly.

“Then again, I guess it was just me that was naïve,” he said in a flat tone. “I never saw it coming.”

“Saw what?” she asked, watching the painful emotions play across his face.

“ During my senior year, I used to work security for a car dealership, first late shift for extra money. I usually didn’t get off my shift till after one in the morning, so three or four nights a week I wouldn’t even see her at all. It made things hard between us, and she grew a little distant. So this one night...” he paused, taking a deep breath.

“This one night, the guy who worked the second shift showed up a little early, and I decided to go over to see her,” he said. “I thought she’d be happy that we could spend a little time together.”

He looked up at the hazy night sky.

“She wasn’t alone. She was with this guy...his name was Christian Harris. He was such an asshole,” he said bitterly.

“He was one of those guys we both hated when we started dating. His parents had money and he had a thing for flaunting it. He thought he owned the town, I swear,” he said.

“Apparently some things her feelings had changed, and I had just been unaware of it,” he said. “It was a warm night, I remember, and the front door was open, to let air in through the screen. Her mom worked nights too, at a diner as a waitress, so she was home alone a lot during the week.”

His jaw clenched and he lowered his head.

“I heard the TV, and I was going to knock, but when I got to the door, I saw them on the couch...” he broke off.

“I just...stood there. I don’t know, I guess I was just in shock,” he said. “I couldn’t look away. Then she saw me, and I was finally able to move. I took off. I didn’t see her until the next morning at school.”

“She didn’t really try to make much of an excuse for herself. She said she didn’t know how to tell me, and so she just didn’t. She started talking about needing security; that she didn’t want to go through lean years, as she knew she would have to with me while I put myself through school. She said she’d started to realize that she didn’t feel the same way I did, and that she loved Chris. I saw this whole other side of her and I realized that I didn’t know the girl I loved at all. She tried to apologize, but I didn’t even let her finish. There was no point,” he said.

“I’m sorry,” Liz said softly, putting her hand on his arm.

He smiled wryly.

“For what? You didn’t do it,” he said. “It was for the best anyway. Last I heard, they’d gotten married.”

He seemed to shrug off his pensive mood.

“Anyway, I decided that it was safer not to get involved with school and all, and I guess I either just haven’t found the right girl, or I don’t have the inclination to open myself up like that again. Besides, I spend more time studying with you than doing anything else,” he said with a laugh. “What more could a guy want?”

Liz smiled and shook her head.

“Yeah really, ‘cause I’m such a barrel of laughs,” she said.

He turned to look at her with a mischievous look.

“Don’t sell yourself short,” he said. “I like the fact that there’s no pressure with you. It’s kind of refreshing actually.”

“Should I be offended by that?” Liz asked with a playful frown.

“Nah,” he said, putting his arm around her with a grin. “I say that with the utmost sincerity.”

“Ugh,” she said, picking up his hand and dropping it from her shoulder. “It’s too hot for that.”

“See what I mean?” he chuckled.

*******

Roswell - Christmas Break, 2003

It had seemed like forever since she'd been back home, but it had only been a few weeks. She'd com home for Thanksgiving break, but it was a quick visit, and she'd felt like she was back in Boston before she'd even gotten used to being home. She was actually looking forward to this visit. She'd tried to convince Justin to come with her, because he had no family to speak of and nowhere to go for the holidays, but he said he couldn't afford to pass up the extra money he could make over the holidays.

And so, she returned home alone.

Now she sat on her balcony, as she had for so many nights during high school, trying to wind down.

Though she was exhausted, her mind was active, used to working long into the night.

She sighed and stood, moving to the ledge of the balcony. There was no way she was going to sleep anytime soon.

Maybe she should just walk it off.

She climbed onto the ladder, not wanting to wake her parents by going through the apartment. She’d go for her walk and would be back and in bed without either of them being any the wiser.

She wandered down Main Street, which was basically now deserted save the occasional passing car.

She hadn’t even realized she’d been heading toward the park, but she found herself wandering down the dim path, lost in her concern for her friend.

She looked up, and her steps faltered.

A short distance down the path, she saw a figure sitting on a bench.

Whoever it was had most likely come here to be alone, so she diverted off of the path a good distance onto the lawn between the trees to avoid disturbing the lone figure.

She was hidden in shadow as she moved parallel to the path in silence. She wondered how many people took midnight walks through the park. She’d never really thought about it. The last time she’d been here was when Grandma Claudia had been so sick...

Her eyes fell on the figure sitting on the bench and she stopped, moving to stand behind a nearby tree.

Of all the people she might have guessed would be sitting there, she never would have guessed it to be Max Evans.

She knew she was completely shadowed, and she peered cautiously around the trunk of the tree.

He sat with his hands clasped on his thighs, looking up at the clear night sky.

He’d changed, yet she couldn’t imagine why he wouldn’t have. It had been a year and a half since she’d left Roswell. Yet she herself didn’t feel and different. Maybe that was why she expected him to be the same.

She saw his hair was shorter, the youthful bangs that used to fall across his forehead were now shorn in spiky patterns. His face was more angled, matured, and he was dressed differently, clad in a black leather jacket and Doc Martins.

But it wasn’t any of those things really that had signaled that he’d changed. Washed in the orange tint of the park lamps, he looked like someone who...worried, as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

She chewed on the side of her mouth, trying to decide whether to make her presence known. Maybe he wanted to be alone.

“Of course he wanted to be alone,” she chided herself. Why else would he be sitting here this late at night?

But she’d come here to be alone that night a few years ago and he’d made her feel better. She fought with herself for a few seconds, and then the decision was taken away from her as she noticed someone coming up the path. She ducked behind the tree again.

“Max,” a familiar voice called, and her jaw tightened.

Tess Harding.

She wanted to bolt in that instant, but she was afraid that Tess would see her, and so she stayed still.

“What are you doing out here so late? I went by your house and Isabel went to your room and you were gone,” Tess said in an edgy voice. “You shouldn’t just leave without telling anyone. People get worried.”

“I just felt like getting out for awhile,” he answered.

Liz heard her sigh.

“Max, what’s wrong with you lately?” she asked.

“Nothing. Why?” he asked in a dull voice.

“Because, you’ve been acting strangely,” she answered.

“I’ve been acting strangely?” he said. “I think you should be telling Michael and Isabel that, not me.”

“Look Max, there’s a lot going on. You know that. But you know I’m here for you, right?” she said.

“Yeah, I know, ” he answered. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” she said. “I just...I want to be there for you, you know?”

“I know that...thanks Tess,” he said wearily.

Liz decided she’d heard enough, and crept away.

For a few seconds, she’d entertained the foolish idea of approaching Max, like he had approached her that night, but it was obvious that he had Tess, someone he knew, someone he probably was involved with, as she had suspected.

She was thankful that she’d come along before she’d made her presence known. That would have been really uncomfortable.

But as she lay in bed drifting off to sleep later, she wondered if she should have just taken the chance anyway.


********

TBC this weekend.

User avatar
Majesty
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Part Nine

Post by Majesty » Sun Sep 21, 2003 11:22 am

For those of you that are sticking with this story, and me, I appreciate it. I know that everyone wants to know what's going on in the present, but as I said, we won't be going back there for awhile. We still have another four chapters of Liz's point of view, and then we move on to Max's.

As much as I know everyone is impatient for the present, a big part of the premise of this story for me was to create a world in which Max and Liz lived seperate lives for awhile, so that hopefully when fate or some other hand brought them together it would make it all the more special.

For those of you that read my previous note, you know how I stand on things, so don't be overly worried about the coming chapters.

This is different than anything I have written before, and honestly it was difficult for me to write, not for any other reason than it's just becoming harder for me to write Max and Liz at all.

Thanks to you all for sticking with this.

A p.s., for the girl from Poland who had written me about my stories. Please email me again, as I would like to reply to you, but lost your email because of Outlook.

Thanks. :)


Protection - Everything But the Girl

This girl I know needs some shelter
But she don't believe anyone can help her
She's doing so much harm doing so much damage
But you don't want to get involved
You tell her she can manage
Now you can't change the way she feels
But you could put your arm around her

I know you want to live yourself
But could you forgive yourself
If you left her just the way you found her

I'll stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection
I'll stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

You're a boy and I'm a girl
But you know you can lean on me
And I don't have no fear
I'll take on any man here
Who says that's not the way it should be

I'll stand in front of you
Take the force of the blow
Protection
I'll stand in front of you
Take the force of the blow
Protection

She's a girl and you're a boy
Sometimes you look so small (look so small)
You've got a baby of your own
When your baby's gone
She'll be the one
To catch you when you fall

I'll stand in front of you
Take the force of the blow
Protection
I'll stand in front of you
Take the force of the blow
Protection

You're a girl and I'm a boy
You're a girl and I'm a boy
Yeah
You're a girl and I'm a boy
You're a girl and I'm a boy

Sometimes you look so small
I need some shelter
Just run around helter skelter
And I've leaned on you before
Now you can lean on me
That's more then it will ever be
That's the way it should be
I can't change the way you feel
But I could put my arms around you
That's just part of the deal
That's the way I feel
I'll put my arms around you

I'll stand in front of you
Take the force of the blow
Protection
I'll stand in front of you
Take the force of the blow
Protection

You're a boy and I'm a girl
You're a boy and I'm a girl
Hey
You're a boy and I'm a girl
You're a boy and I'm a girl


Part Nine

Winter, 2004

*~Liz~*

Justin became a regular aspect of her life. Their study dates became a tension breaker from the stress of her schoolwork, and they worked well together. Often one would point out something that the other missed and they became great at covering the material, often finishing earlier than expected.

Sometimes they studied at the coffee shop, and other times they would grab a pizza to take back to her apartment.

Often, she'd listen to him bemoan his bad luck with women, and his complaining about the opposite sex would send her into fits of laughter.

"There must be something wrong with you," she said one night, wiping the tears of laughter away from her eyes. "I mean, its not like you're Quasimodo or something, and you're able to get the dates, but moving beyond that seems to be a problem."

What she'd just said was definitely the truth. Justin was the type of guy that most girls would be throwing themselves at. He was the fantasy, with his dark hair and fair Irish complexion and piercing green eyes. Tall and broad-shouldered, yet not overly muscular, with an open and friendly demeanor, he was what most girls looked for.

He shrugged.

"I can't help it. Her laugh went through me like nails on a chalkboard," he answered, and she looked at him skeptically.

"I think you're just too critical," she said.

"Oh no, not on this one," he argued. "Think, like...the Nanny and Janis from “Friends” combined."

"She couldn't be that bad," Liz said, shaking her head with a smile.

"Oh really," he said with wide eyes.

"Ow Justiiinn, I just lawv yowa sense uh humah, ah hah hah hah hah!" he said, mimicking his latest date's accent.

Liz punched his arm in mock indignation and burst out laughing once again.

"Keep up that discriminating taste, and you'll never find anyone," she said. "I know who Michelle is."

"So you you've heard her then?" he asked, with a knowing nod.

"She's a very pretty girl," Liz retorted with a smile, pulling her legs up on the couch and leaning against his arm companionably.

"I'm not saying she isn't," he said. "But looks fade, and in 30 years what I'll be left with is that voice."

He shuddered in mock revulsion.

"You're a funny guy J," Liz said, yawning, pushing her hair behind her ear.

He glanced over at her.

"You tired? You want me to go?" he asked, concerned.

She shook her head with a smile.

"No. I have no social life to speak of. It's nice to just sit and talk," she sighed.

"Speaking of which," he said, slouching further down on the couch. "We're always talking about my dates. What about yours?"

"I'd have to be having them to be able to discuss them," she answered, looking up at the ceiling, studying the little cracks in the paint.

"Well you have to know what my next question is, then," he said, looking over at her.

Her averted her eyes, not sure if she wanted to go there with him.

“Aha!” he said, nudging her.

“What?” she said in mock irritation.

“We’ve finally found ‘the story’,” he said in excitement.

“What are you talking about? What story?” she asked, sitting up with a frown.

“I sense that there is a broken heart in there somewhere,” he said, poking at her chest.

“No,” she said with a sigh, flopping back on the couch. “No broken heart. Nothing that dramatic, believe me.”

“So some guy didn’t just run all over you then?” he asked. She turned to look into his eyes and saw the genuine curiosity and a touch of confusion in his eyes. They softened as his eyes traveled her face.

She smiled wistfully and shook her head.

“I’ve only dated one boy, and he didn’t break my heart. Kyle was really good to me,” she said in a low voice.

“So... I don’t get it then, Is there something you aren’t telling me here?” he asked.

“About what?” she asked.

He was thoughtful for a moment.

“Well, for one, you haven’t dated anyone since I’ve known you. And if a guy didn’t break your heart...” he paused.

A look of mock shock painted his handsome features.

“Wait a minute! I get it now,” he said, smacking his forehead.

“Get what?” Liz asked, her brow crinkling in confusion.

“You’re playing for the other team aren’t you?” he asked with mock seriousness.

“Playing for the other...no you jerk!” she said, shoving him with a laugh.

“It’s Lydia, isn’t it?” he asked, plastering a look of devastation across his face.

“What does she have that we men don’t...oh yeah, I forgot,” he said, with a laugh.

She grabbed a pillow and walloped him with it.

“”I’m not a...a...” she stuttered in exasperation.

“I know,” he chuckled, fending off another blow of the pillow. “I just wanted to see your reaction.”

“You’re unbelievable,” she said with a laugh.

“I try,” he answered, crossing his fingers behind his head with a smug grin.

They settled into a companionable silence for a moment.

“Well now that we’ve established your first and only boyfriend didn’t flatten you, and that you like guys, what’s the deal?” he asked.

She shrugged.

“I don’t know,” she said.

“Come on Parker, you can tell me,” he said with a nudge.

“It’s stupid,” she said, studying her fingers.

“Nothing you have ever said is stupid. I’m the elected idiot, not you,” he said with a smirk.

Then his expression turned serious.

“I told you all about Jennifer, and how she screwed me up,” he said. “Quid pro quo.”

“It’s nothing like that,” Liz said in a faraway voice. “I guess...I guess I’m just as picky as you are. I just have this crazy ideal, you know...that when the right guy comes along, I’ll just immediately know or something, like I'll have this feeling and I will just know that he's it. You know, like fate or something.”

He was quiet for a few seconds.

She glanced and him and smiled.

“See? I told you it was stupid,” she said, leaning her head against his sculpted arm, and closing her eyes.

“I don’t think it’s stupid,” he said quietly. “But the thing is, how will you ever find this dream guy if you don’t go out and look for him? And what if...what if you're theory is wrong and you've met him already, and you didn't know it was him? How will you know?”

“I don’t know, I just have this strange feeling that I will,” she said, dismissing it. “And maybe I don’t really want to find him right now. It’s not like I don’t have enough going on. I don’t even really think about it much.”

She felt his shoulder rise and fall as he sighed, and she opened one eye to peer at him.

“What?” she asked, with a smirk.

“You done broke ma heart, Miss Parkah,” he drawled, and she giggled, closing her eyes again.

“Oh please,” she drawled. “You are the evil man at the root of broken hearts scattered all over the city.”

“Well maybe that’s because I just haven’t found the right one yet. I can’t help it,” he said.

“You’ll find her,” she said, patting his arm, and yawning again. “Probably when you least expect it.”

“Yeah, I think you’re probably right about that,” he said.

*********

"Put him on the phone Liz," Maria said.

"For what Maria? We're studying! I don't have time for this, and Justin doesn't either," she said with a sigh.

"Make the time. If this guy is hanging around you, and if he's become such a good friend, I want to feel him out," she said. "You've been pushing me off forever," she said. “How long have you know this guy? He sees you more than I do!”

Just then a small gasp echoed across the phone line.

"What Maria," Liz said dryly.

"You like him don't you? That's why you won't let me talk to him. You think I'll embarrass you," Maria said.

"No!" Liz retorted, getting up from the table and walking into the living room, knowing Justin was staring after her curiously.

She lowered her voice.

"No," she said again. "He's just a really good friend. He's been helping me out with my studying, and we just...hang out sometimes."

"Define hang out," Maria said. "Hang out as in 'Come on let's get a pizza and a movie' hanging out, or are you, you know,
"hanging out"?

"Maria," Liz warned with a hiss. "It's not like that. We're just friends".

"Ok fine, fine," she said with a sigh. "Just put him on the phone."

Liz let out an exasperated sigh and brought the phone into the kitchen, holding it out to Justin.

"She wants to talk to you," Liz said, rolling her eyes.

Justin looked at her with a raised brow and took the phone from her.

"Hello?" he said slowly.

Liz watched as he listened to Maria. He tried to suppress a laugh as she started talking. Liz could only imagine what she was saying.

"Uh...no," he drawled.

"Well, I..."

"No, we..."

Silence.

"Ok yes, but..."

More silence.

"Yeah, I will..."

"No, I will..."

"Nice chatting with you..." he started to say, and then pulled the phone away from his ear, "too."

"She hung up," he said with a laugh.

"That's Maria," she said, rolling her eyes. "Did she steam-roll you?"

"Pretty much. She doesn't let anyone get a word in, does she?" he asked.

"Not usually," Liz answered with a wry grin.

"She's very...protective," he said. "I got the best friend warning."

"Huh?" Liz said, opening her book.

"You know, the 'if you have any intentions toward my friend and you screw with her in any way, I'll put your testicles in a vice' warning," he laughed.

She shook her head with a grin.

"I tried to tell her there was nothing going on between us. She just doesn't listen. I figured if I let her talk to you and run through her little speech, she'd leave us alone," she said.

"Good plan," he answered.

"If she only knew the girls you go through," she said, mischievously. "Like I would put myself in that position."

"Hey, I'm offended at that statement," he said, with mock indignation.

"Well, lets just put it this way. I'm glad I'm on the friend side of the coin, know what I mean?" she said.

"I'm a good guy," he protested.

Liz looked up from her books and smiled.

"I know you are," she said softly. "And if I haven't said it before, I'm glad we met. You've been a great friend Justin."

"I'm glad we met too," he said, lowering his eyes. "I got more than I bargained for when I asked you to be my study partner."

"And what's that supposed to mean?" she asked throwing a crumpled piece of paper at him. He fended off the paper ball and smiled.

"Nothing. I just...I didn't think that I was going to get a friend out of the deal. I figured you're smart, and it would help my grade and yours," he said with a shrug.

Liz fought to keep a straight face.

"But you didn't expect to like me...did you?" she asked.

"I don't know," he said. "I don't know what I thought. I didn't know much about you. I knew you were an ace in class."

"Oh, so I was the geek," she said, with narrowed eyes.

"I didn’t say that!" he said leaning back in the chair. "Geez, you really have a knack for putting words in my mouth."

"That's ok. I get it. You thought I was a geek that was going to bring your grade up. Uh huh," she said, pasting a wounded look on her face.

"Get over yourself," he said with a chuckle, throwing the ball of paper back at her. "You know I was doing almost as well as you were in class."

"Almost being the operative word here," she said with a grin. "Maybe you would have been doing 'as good' if you weren't so busy taking all of those women out."

"Oh Justin!" she said in a squeaky voice. "You're so smart! You're so handsome. Why didn't you call? Don't you like me?"

"That's it, you're dead meat," he said, lunging over the table with a laugh.

She was too quick for him, and was on her feet and running into the living room.

"I know where you're ticklish!" he shouted, running into the living room after her.

*******

Spring 2004

The rest of the year seemed to fly by. Soon the days started to get longer and warmer, and finals were looming in the immediate future.

Liz felt as if she were surely going to lose her mind. There was no possible way she was going to be prepared for all of the finals she had to take.

After a marathon session of studying alone at the kitchen table one night, Liz felt as if she'd finally reached the limit. Panic invaded her body as she thought about the daunting prospect of finals. Everything was riding on it. Her parents were counting on her. She couldn't let them down. Moreover, she couldn't let herself down. She tried to concentrate on the pages in front of her, and the words swam before her eyes, and suddenly she felt as if she couldn't breathe. She felt as if her skin was crawling. She grabbed her keys and locked the apartment door, walking out into the cool night, without any conscious idea of where she was going. She just needed to keep moving, because it kept her from feeling like she was going to go insane.

She fought tears as she roamed the streets, trying to get a handle on the panic that seemed to have taken command of her body. She wanted to call Maria, but she knew that she'd had a singing gig tonight, and didn't want to burden her with her anxieties when she was sure she had enough of her own.

She hadn't realized that she'd had a conscious destination, until she looked up and saw the door to the house Justin shared with three other guys.

She walked up the steps and knocked on the door, knowing it was late, but also knowing that his roomies partied until all hours. That was the reason they usually studied at her apartment.

She heard muffled footsteps on the wood floor in the foyer and the click of the lock disengaging. The door opened to reveal a shirtless Justin, clad only in a pair of sweats. He ran his hand through his hair and squinted.

"Liz?" he said in a sleepy voice. "Is everything ok?"

She shook her head and her eyes filled with tears.

"I don't know what's wrong with me. I feel like I can't breathe. I can't sleep, and I can't concentrate. Justin, if I screw this up, I don't know what I'm going to do," she said in a shaky voice.

"Come here," he said, grabbing her hand and pulling her toward him. She let him pull her to his chest, wrapping his arms around her, and when her cheek pressed against his war skin, she finally let the tears she'd been struggling with fall freely.

"I'm sorry," she sobbed. "I shouldn't have come here so late."

"I don't even know what I'm doing here, and you probably...Oh my God, do you have someone here?" she asked, starting to pull away.

"No, I don't have anyone here, it's finals week, remember?" he asked, pulling her back into his arms. She let her hands rest at his waist, while his fingers rubbed comforting circles at the small of her back.

"Look at you. You've been pushing yourself too hard," he said softly into her hair. "You're pale. It looks like American Tourister set up shop under your eyes. When's the last time you got a good night's sleep?" he asked, his voice laced with concern.

"I don't know," she mumbled. "You're one to talk, Mr. 'I'm-holding-down-two-jobs-and-going-to-school-full-time'."

"I'm used to it," he said in his defense.

He pulled away and grabbed her hand.

"Come inside, you're hands are freezing," he said, pulling her inside and shutting the door. She couldn't help letting her eyes graze his muscled back, before stopping herself.

He turned toward her when she slowed with a questioning look.

"How long were you walking around out there?" he asked.

She shrugged, wiping her eyes.

"I don't know. Awhile," she mumbled letting him pull her out of the foyer and into the living room.

"Where is everybody?" she asked, noting the unusual silence that pervaded the house.

"Adam's out with Johnny, and Anthony is spending the night with Rana," he said, guiding her toward the kitchen. "Want something to drink?"

"No," she said, as he flipped the light on and opened the cabinet, reaching for a glass.

She leaned against the counter as the thought of the lack of sleep made her remember why she hadn't been sleeping. She hadn't been sleeping because she needed to study, and she needed to study because her finals were a big part of her grades, and if she did bad on the finals, then it would all have been a waste and then...

"Breathe Parker," Justin said, and her head snapped up to see him standing in front of her.

"I'm sorry," she said, gasping a little. "I don't know what's wrong with me."

She blinked back more tears that were forming in her eyes, trying to calm her racing heart and the panic that made her feel as if her lungs were being closed off.

He grabbed her hand again and led her over to the kitchen table.

"Sit," he commanded, and she didn't argue with him, lowering herself onto the chair. She felt dizzy, as if she were going to black out.

She felt his fingers at the back of her neck, slightly callused, gently pushing on it.

"Put your head down, between your knees," he said, and she complied.

She felt his fingers stroking the back of her neck in a soothing motion. No boy had touched her since Kyle.

"Concentrate on your breathing," he said. "Take slow breaths, letting them become deeper. Don't think about anything else."

She remained that way for long moments, trying to calm her erratic breathing. Finally, she felt as if she could catch a full breath.

She raised her head, resting her elbows on her knees and pushing her face into her hands.

"Better?" he asked, in a low voice. She nodded without taking her hands from her face.

"I'm sorry," she mumbled again. "I don't know what I was thinking coming here. Now I'm behind again. I have to get back and..."

"Oh no," he said, and she looked up to find him shaking his head.

"What," she said wearily.

"No more studying tonight," he said, pulling her out of the chair.

"No, I have to..." she protested.

"Uh uh," he said. "You're going to get some sleep."

He pulled her toward his room, and she yanked back on her hand.

"Look Justin, I'm just not thinking straight. I just needed to get some air. I'm fine," she said.

He turned toward her.

"Exactly, and why aren't you thinking straight? Because you haven't slept, and by the way, when's the last time you ate something?" he said.

"I can't afford to fall behind," she whispered, feeling the tears coming on again. "Not now."

He moved closer.

"Liz you aren't going to be any good to anyone, including yourself unless you get some sleep. I'll make you a deal. You get a few hours of sleep, and I'll call in sick tomorrow and we'll go over it together, ok?" he asked.

"No," she said. "You can't afford to call in sick."

"Yes I can," he said.

"I haven't taken a sick day yet. It will be fine. Look, don't argue with me, ok? Because it isn't going to work," he said, yanking her back toward him.

He pushed her into his bedroom and she sat on the bed, feeling the weariness set in as the adrenaline of the panic attack left her body. He crouched before her, pulling off her boots.

"Lie down," he said, and she debated arguing with him, and then realized she just didn't have the energy.

She pulled herself back up on the bed and stretched out on her side.

Her eyes met his and he smiled.

"Sweet dreams," he said, turning away.

"Where are you going?" she asked, and he turned back toward her.

"Couch," he said simply.

She shook her head.

"I'm not taking your bed on top of you calling in tomorrow," she said.

"The couch is comfortable," he answered.

"I don’t care. Get over here," she answered, "otherwise I'm leaving."

He paused for a second, uncertain and then moved to sit down next to her.

"You sure you can trust me?" he asked, in a teasing tone.

She snorted.

"It's you," she said, as if that said everything.

He chuckled and settled into the bed next to her. The mattress shifted, and she felt herself falling closer to him.

"Sorry, the mattress sucks," he apologized, putting his arm behind his head.

She studied his face in the dim light of the room.

"What?" he whispered, seeing she was watching him.

"Why are you so nice to me?" she asked quietly.

His mouth turned up at one corner.

"Does there have to be a reason?" he asked.

"It's just that I don't know many guys who would appreciate a hyper-ventilating female showing up at their door at 2 am in the morning," she said. "And it was pretty selfish of me. I mean, what if you had someone here? I wasn't even thinking."

He chewed on his lip for a second.

"Parker, you're one of the few women I've met that I can stand to be around for more than an hour at a time. That alone is an accomplishment. There's no pressure with you, and I know you're not expecting anything from me. I don't have to put on an act when I'm around you. I know I can tell you anything, even the most reviled, disgusting thoughts that go through twenty-something male brains and I know you won't hate me for it," he said. "So, if you're asking me why I'm nice to you, it's because I want to be. Because you're probably the best friend I've got here in Boston, and well because...I want to."

She smiled, feeling emotional for the thousandth time that night.

"You're pretty much my only friend here too, other than Lydia," she said. "I haven't even really seen much of her lately either. This whole school thing sometimes is so...I don't know, overwhelming."

He reached over and pulled the blanket over her.

"Well, it's a good thing you met me then," he said with a satisfied smirk. "I mean, where would you be without me? In a straight-jacket, I'd wager."

She giggled and shook her head.

"Probably," she admitted. "How do you do it? Keep your sanity I mean? You're life is even more hectic than mine is."

"With a sense of humor I guess," he said, looking into her eyes.

"Obviously," she said dryly.

"No, I'm serious," he said quietly. "This is pretty important to me, and I've worked really hard to get where I am right now, but it isn't everything. It can't be everything. You can't just focus your attention on any one thing like that. You've got to stop and take a look around to realize the ridiculousness that is' life'."

"I don't find being on the edge of a nervous breakdown to be funny," she said with a smirk.

"No, but see, you don't see the irony of the whole thing. You're working like a dog because you feel this drive to reach your goal, but what good will it have been if you've wound up completely falling apart at the end of it? You've got to pace yourself Liz. You have to focus your attention on other things at least some of the time," he said.

"Like what?" she asked, with a sigh.

"How about finding this guy you insist you'll know at first sight?" he asked.

She closed her eyes, yawning.

"J, I don't even know if he exists," she said wearily. "He's like...in my head, more than likely a figment of my overactive imagination."

"Think so?" he asked, with interest. "So then, the possibilities are open."

"Yeah," she said, yawning again, "possibly. Why? Are you thinking of setting me up with someone?"

"Maybe," he said thoughtfully.

"I'm not sure I like the sound of that," she said sleepily.

"Don't you worry your pretty little head about it, Parker," he whispered. "Put yourself in my capable hands, and I won't steer you wrong."

"Mmmm," she muttered, the last thing she remembered before dropping into a deep sleep.

************

Liz awoke a few hours later, feeling a heavy weight at her waist. She slowly opened her eyes, revealing Justin’s face only inches from hers. It was then that she realized that the weight she was feeling was his arm draped over her.

A tiny smile appeared on her face as she studied his face relaxed in sleep. His hair was tousled, spiking out in all directions, and she stifled a laugh.

He’d been so good to her over the past few months, and she knew that her studying would have been hell without him. But that was only part of it.

Because despite his teasing, she knew that he was looking for his dream girl too, the girl that would match his heart perfectly.

But he’d been hurt.

It seemed to her that he was conflicted between needing to find that girl and being afraid he would find her.

Her heart had never really been broken, but inside of it lived a boy she too had been afraid to make real.

She sighed softly as she watched him sleep.

It was stupid of her to hold on to this stupid ideal.

His brow crinkled in his sleep, and she wondered what it was he was dreaming about. His arm tightened around her, pulling her closer and she didn’t resist.

She remained still, closing her eyes, inhaling his scent, just enjoying the feeling of being held.


************
Last edited by Majesty on Sun Sep 21, 2003 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Locked