Finding Something Better by Fidomom (AU,M/M,TEEN/ADULT) Ch1-18/? - 08/01/20

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keepsmiling7
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Re: Finding Something Better by Fidomom (AU,M/M,TEEN/ADULT) Ch1-16/? - 05/05/20

Post by keepsmiling7 » Wed May 06, 2020 8:30 am

Thank you for the clarification regarding Ava.
There was a bonding time with Liz and Ava, feeling the baby move and playing cards.
Liz will make things work because she loves Max.
I've just seen more hostile situations and that clouded my opinion.
Thanks for bringing us this great story.

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Fidomom
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Re: Finding Something Better by Fidomom (AU,M/M,TEEN/ADULT) Ch1-17/? - 05/15/20

Post by Fidomom » Fri May 15, 2020 9:18 pm

keepsmiling7 wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 8:30 am
Thank you for the clarification regarding Ava.
There was a bonding time with Liz and Ava, feeling the baby move and playing cards.
Liz will make things work because she loves Max.
I've just seen more hostile situations and that clouded my opinion.
Thanks for bringing us this great story.
@keepsmiling7:
I know that the hostile situations are not unique to just you; what I'm writing is unusual on purpose. My own experience with co-parenting was quite positive. My son has the best step-mother ever. Her entire family embraced and accepted my child as part of their family. I'm okay with more people loving and nurturing my son. Thank-you for reading this story even though it's coloured by my own experiences and also for sharing your perspective with me. I will try to be more mindful of the differing in real life experiences, of my intended audience, in my future writing.
~FM :)

Title: Finding Something Better
Author: Fidomom
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. It is only loosely based on characters from the 1999-2002 tv series Roswell as I imagine they could be from different points throughout and beyond the three seasons of the show. I am not affiliated with any of the original creations nor creators from the series. I will make no monetary gains from publishing this work of fiction.
Pairings/Characters/Category: Michael & Maria, Max & Liz, Kyle, Isabel, Ava, CC, UC, AU, w/Aliens
Rating: Teen
Summary: This chapter - Ava's experiences with moving are different from the rest of the crew. Kal changes his mind like he changes his looks. Charlie mimics Liz. Liz comes through for Maria, when Maria signals for back up. Jamie has impeccable timing. Adjustments to expectations are made. Beds get broken in (nothing explicit).
Author's Note: warnings=none

Finding Something Better
by Fidomom

Chapter Seventeen

Maria scowled at the phone on the passenger seat beside her, as it rang again after alerting for the seventh time, on both counts, that she had received a text message. She scolded it petulantly, "Leave me alone, since that's what your plan is anyway, right? I don't want to talk to you, right now! I just want to eat my ice cream bar in peace!"

When the phone stayed silent for over a minute, she still complained, "Oh, so you've already given up on me, just like that? Fantastic. Thanks a lot, Michael!"

She startled when it rang again and she answered without checking who was calling, "Would you get a freaking clue! I don't want to talk to you, right now! Stop bothering me!"

The hesitant voice of her best friend asked hopefully, "Even if this is Liz?"

Maria winced in regret and quickly apologised, "I'm sorry, Lizzy! No, of course that wasn't meant for you! Unless it's a trick and you're handing me off to him?"

Liz assured her, "No, it's not a trick. It is important though. You need to come back, as soon as possible. It's not about whatever the issue is with the two of you; it's something else. Where are you and how quickly can you come back?"

Maria asked, suddenly filled with anxiety, "Is it one of the kids?"

Liz assured her again, "In a round about way, sort of but they are all fine! It's just better to talk about this in person."

Maria answered Liz's previous questions, "I'm just sitting in the car, at the playground parking lot. I'll be there in less than five."

When Maria walked back into the house, Michael seemed on the verge of approaching her but he backed off when she gave him a warning glare and then she addressed only Liz, "What's going on? What's so important?"

Kal had already left to go get an extra vehicle, so Liz filled Maria in on the plan to leave early and the reasons why. Maria turned to Michael and demanded, "Are you coming with us, after all, then?"

Michael grimaced, slowly shook his head and was about to explain that Kal had reconsidered about forcing him to leave with everyone else, but Maria stopped him, "No. I don't want to hear it. It's whatever. I'm busy. I've got some packing to do. Just mine and the baby's stuff. You can just fend for yourself, pal-ly."

Michael gave himself an away errand, "I'm gonna go get the tanks topped up on both vehicles."

Max clapped him on the back and encouraged, "Thanks, Michael. You can give me your stuff later, if you two haven't called a truce by the time we leave."

Michael nodded gratefully and left with the main vehicle, first. By the time he'd returned after gassing up the Frankenmobile, as well, Maria was already getting the two older kids settled into the main vehicle. The plan was for Max, Liz, Ava, Maria, Charlie and Lex to travel together in the main vehicle, for Isabel, Kyle and Jamie to travel together in the Frankenmobile and for Kal to drive the third vehicle filled with any belongings they wouldn't need during the nearly twenty-four hour drive to Elyria, Nebraska.

While Michael had been out, he'd extended his reservation on a rental vehicle, for an extra day, for use while he was tying up loose ends, just in case Maria wouldn't or couldn't summon him later. He quickly packed up stuff he could do without, for at least two days and handed it off to Max to pack into the vehicle that Kal would be driving. Michael handed off his wedding ring to Max, as well, still holding out hope, that Maria might summon him to Elyria, later and he disclaimed, "I'd give it to my wife but with everything going on, I'm half afraid that she'd take it the wrong way."

Max accepted it and secured it in a zippered compartment of his wallet. He gave Michael a sympathetic look and sought confirmation, "So she still won't talk to you?"

Michael shook his head, then shrugged, as he conceded, "I guess I didn't give her enough advance notice and didn't explain my plan or my motives properly, in general. I should know better by now than to just spring changes in plans on her. She hasn't been this pissed at me, in a really long time."

Max offered, "Since we'll be traveling together, I can encourage her to call you and talk it out, if you want?"

Michael shrugged and suggested, "Nah. She'll just dig her heels in more. She'll think I put you up to it. Anyway, I'm more than a little pissed at her, myself, right now, so maybe this little break from each other, is for the best."

Max frowned and asked, "Wait, why are you pissed at her?"

Michael looked him in the eye and said solemnly, "When she didn't answer my calls or texts, I thought ... well, the worst. I'm relieved it wasn't anything like that but I'm not calm enough to talk it out with her just yet, anyway. I just want to go say bye to the kids and then I've got some scrub tasks to do."

Max nodded and queried, "See you in around twenty-four?"

Michael glanced toward Maria and suggested, "Might be longer if I have to make the drive, too."

Max frowned and insisted, "I doubt she's that mad, Michael."

Michael pointed out to him, "You're not married to her. Trust me. She's definitely that mad."

Michael gave the kids a pep talk and tasked Lex with reminding Charlie to use her words, tasked Charlie with noticing all the animals out the window to tell him all about it later and tasked them both with being on best behaviour for the adults. He fist bumped Lex and kissed Charlie's forehead. He was about to step away from the vehicle when Charlie insisted, "Daddy forgot Mama kiss!"

Michael barely hesitated before saying, "Well, Daddy can't reach Mama, so I'll just have to blow her a kiss, instead.", and he did. To his surprise Maria played along and pretended to happily catch it and even sent him one back. Michael caught it and grinned at Charlie, as he assured her, "There, okay? I'll see you in three big sleeps! I love you, Charlie B.!"

He lightly slapped the roof of the car, twice, with his open palm, letting Max know he was cleared to drive away.

Michael spent all the dark hours, scrubbing any traces that he and the crew had ever been in Bend, Oregon. Everything from burning so much as store receipts to using his powers to mess with any security camera footage, that any of them might have potentially been captured on.

From dawn and onward he stayed in the empty house preparing for his own likely road trip. He ate, showered and then slept on the mattress he'd shared with Maria, now without benefit of any bedding besides a sleeping bag.

He woke up feeling exhausted just before one in the afternoon. He made necessary calls to cancel power, cable and water services. He called the landlady to give notice, as if they'd still be staying another month. He hired a move-out cleaning service to thoroughly clean the place top to bottom and he couriered the key to them with instructions on where to send it when they were done. All of it paid for by a credit card under an alias, and which would be paid down to zero balance and then canceled, as soon as the services had been rendered. The cleaners would never even encounter him in person.

The car rental arrangements had also been contactless. There would be no evidence to associate his face with the alias on the credit card and no reason for anyone to dig around for more information. Michael had to hand it to Kojak; the guy knew how to effectively scrub. Everything went off without a hitch.

Michael's plan was to nap from nine in the evening until around two in the morning and if he hadn't heard from Maria by then, he intended to start his own road trip to Elyria no later than three in the morning. He expected to arrive in Elyria sometime between midnight and one, of the following morning but with the two hour time difference it would be closer to three in the morning, Elyria time.

At eleven at night, the ringing of his burner phone roused him from his nap. He fumbled in the dark for it and answered, "Yeah? I'm here. What's going on?"

"And when will you be here? We just got in about a half hour ago."

The sound of Maria's voice had him instantly alert and he answered, "I'm leaving here in a few hours, probably around three, so I should be there sometime after midnight, tomorrow, or I guess more like three o'clock in the morning with the time difference."

"I see. And all the loose ends? Alien hunters?"

"Loose ends all tied up; alien hunters blind and in the dark besides."

"Well, that's good to know. Is there anything else you want to say to me?"

Michael considered it but declined, "Nothing that can't wait until I get there. I'm really tired and I've got a long drive ahead of me, so uhh, goodnight."

"Don't you dare hang up on me right now, Michael DeLuca or there will be very unpleasant consequences, I swear."

Michael was sort of relieved that she'd used his married name, even though she was clearly still pissed at him. He stayed on the line and said, "Okay? Was there something you wanted to say to me, then?"

Maria stuttered getting the words out but finally managed, "Look, this is awkward for both of us okay. I know you're pissed at me, too and it's like you said, we can hash all of that out in person, later, but none of that is why I'm actually calling."

Michael was suddenly worried, "Is it the baby? Or Charlie? What's wrong, Maria?"

Maria sighed loudly and reassured him, "Baby's fine. Everyone here is fine. I'm just going to come right out and ask you, are you okay, Michael? What's wrong? Besides the stuff with us, I mean. Why are you so sad?"

Michael denied it, "I'm not. Why would you think that?"

Maria scoffed and said, "I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt, that you're not actually straight up lying to me, right now, but are just in denial. I have it on reliable authority that you are in fact very sad and my source is very concerned about it."

Michael's shoulders sagged and he admitted, "So Charlie B. wasn't buying my brave smiling face, hmm?"

"Not even a little bit. She wants us all to go back home now because, and I quote, Daddy is very very sad and he misses us too much."

Michael chuckled appreciatively and he confessed, "She's not wrong. It's been a long time since I've felt like this. The first half of the day, I was pretty busy and I didn't have time to really feel the emptiness in here. Right around dinner time I really noticed it. I miss the kids. I miss all the living noises we're supposed to pretend we aren't hearing. I miss seeing everyone's mess everywhere. This house is just so unbelievable empty. And it's not like I've ever minded my own company. I mean, when the house was full and noisy, there were so many times when I'd wish for just a few moments to be alone and have it be quiet."
.
"Kind of lonely getting what you thought you wanted?"

Michael nodded in the dark and he confirmed, "So you get it. This bites. You know when the phone rang, I hoped it was you, even if you were only going to yell at me but by the time I answered, I was sure it would be Max, instead. So, I mean, if you did want to yell at me, I've uhh, I've pretty much never been a more willing audience for it."

Maria sighed softly and replied, "There's a time and a place to sort that out but it isn't right now. I love you, spaceboy. I promise to yell at you plenty when you get here. And I am expecting you to get here. You belong with us. You belong with me. Doesn't matter who's mad about what. Got it?"

Michael swallowed past the lump in his throat and then nodded unnecessarily as he answered, "Yeah. Got it. Tell Charlie B. for me, that her Mama made her Daddy feel all better now. For what it's worth, I miss my wife most of all. Even the smell of you is gone."

Maria questioned his word choices warningly, "The smell? Excuse me?"

Michael hastily back pedalled, "No, I didn't mean it like that! I meant like your shampoo and your perfume; it was never strong or anything, to begin with, just faint ... lingering but it's already completely gone. I haven't been sleeping much and when I do it's not very restful. The kids even have your lullaby recording so I've got none of the usual."

Maria teased him a little, "Aww, my poor little comfort junkie!"

Michael joked back, "I see how it is, now. That's why you got me so used to all of that stuff. It was all part of your grand plan. Practically guarantees that we make up before bed, whenever we're on the outs."

To his surprise she answered back, "Bingo."

Michael blurted quietly, "I love you, angelwife."

Maria said meaningfully, "There isn't anyone who could possibly be more aware of that, than I am. This is a long shot but did you happen to double check the waste basket in the bathroom, after you took out the bag?"

Michael frowned and answered, "Uhh, no why would I, if I already know I emptied it?"

Maria suggested, "You might want to go take another look, before you try going back to sleep. We'll talk about everything we need to, when you're here. Drive safe please."

Michael agreed, "I promise. Good night, Maria."

"Goodnight, spacehubby."

Michael set his phone aside and climbed the two sets of stairs to the third level bathroom. He peered into the wastebin and slowly smiled. He fished out the empty bottle of Maria's perfume, removed the cap and inhaled deeply. He nodded in satisfaction and brought it with him back to bed, to try to get some sleep before the long drive to Elyria.

*****

Upon arriving in Elyria, the rest of the crew from Bend, got themselves settled into their respective units, in the triplex. Maria in the unit to the far right, Isabel, Kyle, Lex, Jamie in the unit to the far left and Max, Liz and Ava in the largest unit, which was the middle one.

Charlie was initially supposed to spend the first night with Isabel and Kyle but she had begged to stay with Maria instead and everyone was too out of it and maybe even too wary of Charlie's potential reaction, to argue with her. Maria was glad for the company. She got Charlie down to sleep easily enough and then flicked her stoop light on and off to let Liz know she could come over.

Maria shared Charlie's concerns about Michael, with Liz and Liz insisted, "Well, now you have to call him, Maria! You know that, right?"

Maria admitted, "I wasn't sure if it would seem like I was being a pushover, if I call him, to check on him, but if you really think I should, then it's not me being a pushover. Right?"

Liz smirked at her and assured her, "He's your husband, remember? For better or for worse? Call him. I will go back to my own unit to give you some privacy."

Maria objected emphatically, "No, Lizzy, you can't! You have to stay here to make sure I don't completely give in and you know, like, bring him here."

Liz queried gently, "And that would be bad, why?"

Maria huffed stubbornly and claimed, "Well, just on principle, because he took it for granted that I would just do that without even bothering to ask me and also because how is it fair that we had to endure that super long road trip but he gets to travel here in the blink of an eye? Uh uh, nope. He can just do it the hard way, like the rest of us had to!"

Liz pointed out, "Well, if you're so convinced of that, then why do you need me to stay?"

Maria pouted and admitted sheepishly, "For moral support because I miss him, already, after only one day. He's my weakness, Lizzy. Please?"

Liz chuckled, shook her head but agreed, "Fine. I'll stay just ... promise you'll keep it pg rated?"

Maria blushed and swiped at Liz's shoulder, laughing self-consciously,"Liz! We aren't that bad! Fine, though. Nothing over pg. Promise. Okay?"

Liz nodded and stayed close enough to hear Maria's half of the conversation with Michael.

Liz stayed another half an hour, afterward, to just hang out with Maria and decompress from everything up to and including the long trek to Elyria, before begging off, "It's beyond late and I'd really just like to shower and crawl into my new bed with my husband. Adjusting to the time zone change is going to be tough. Are you going to be alright, here by yourself, Maria?"

Maria smiled, nodded, patted her belly and assured Liz, "I'll be fine and between this one and little Miss Charlie, it's not like I'm totally alone, tonight, anyway. See you tomorrow? Or rather later today?"

Liz nodded and said casually, as they hugged goodnight, "Max asked me to bring over a box of Michael's personal stuff that he'd left with him. It's not big or heavy. It's in your foyer by the door."

Maria thanked her but insisted, "Well, he'll have to deal with that himself, when he gets here."

Liz smiled in understanding and returned to her new home. After a very quick shower, Liz joined Max in bed and as they held each other, Max asked, "So how is she really doing?"

Liz chuckled wryly and answered, "Oh, she's in deep denial, but otherwise she's fine. She's Maria; she's stubborn."

Max quipped back, "True but that could be what works in Michael's favour."

Liz sighed heavily and added, "Well, I am sure they will figure it out. They always do. Enough about them. I wanted to thank-you for making sure Ava's room was set up first, so that she could go to bed right away. You're already taking such good care of our baby."

Max smiled softly and admitted, "I'm getting kind of excited about finally meeting him or her. I'm just glad Ava didn't go into labour on the way here. I was reading that stress can bring it on and moving is known to be one of life's biggest stressors."

Liz divulged, "She and I talked about that some. She doesn't find it stressfull to move from point A to point B; rather she used to find it stressful to move from point A, with nowhere in particular in mind to go to, instead of point A. Having a destination actually put her at ease with this move and as for meeting our baby, I predict that we will get to do so, in fewer than ten days."

Max asked curiously, "Is that vision informed or just a woman's intuition hunch?"

Liz shrugged, smiled and admitted, "The latter. As far as my visions go, I consider that no news is probably good news."

Max silently acknowledged her answer and asked carefully, "So how tired are you?"

Liz grinned knowingly and answered between kisses, "Not that tired, at least, not yet, but I'm really hoping that you can do something to remedy that, Mr. Parker."

Max handed Liz a condom and slid further down in the bed, with her under him and he vowed, "I will certainly try my best."

*****

Kyle squeezed his wife's hand under the covers, rubbing his thumb lightly on top and he asked, "Pookie? What's wrong?"

Isabel sighed and admitted, "Well, technically nothing. I mean it's absurd when I consider how much I craved this at the other house, but seriously? How am I to get any sleep in this much quiet? I mean I think I can hear our very own refrigerator, that is just for us, so like not graveyard levels of quiet but it's still really eerie. Were you sleeping?"

Kyle sighed and confessed, "No. I meditated hoping I would naturally drift, but it didn't happen. Then I realised your breathing wasn't sleep breathing."

Isabel wondered aloud, "Do you suppose the others are already asleep?"

Kyle grinned in the dark and answered with understated joy, "I love that my legitimate answer to that is, I have no idea. I can't hear anything going on outside of our unit."

Isabel moved in closer to him and kissed his cheek. She whispered suggestively in his ear, "So then it's unlikely that they would hear us, if we made some noise?"

Kyle confirmed, "Highly unlikely, but even if they could, it's never stopped us before. Plus, you know, if my wife needs noise to sleep, then it's in my job description to provide that for her."

Their lips barely touched in the dark, before Jamie let out a wail over the baby monitor. Kyle and Isabel both chuckled and sighed together, then Isabel went to go take care of him, ordering over her shoulder, "Hold that thought, Froggy, and don't you even think about falling asleep without me! I'll be right back!"

*****

Michael rolled over in his sleep and slowly started to wake up. He wondered why his alarm hadn't rung yet and opened one eye to make sure he hadn't unset it or missed it. Then he was fully awake. He asked aloud, "Did that happen in your sleep?"

Maria answered quietly, "No."

Michael pressed further, "Was it an oops?"

Maria snuggled up to him, kissed him on the lips and answered, "No. It was just time for you to be where you belong. I have something of yours, that I'd like to return to you."

Michael deduced aloud, "Oh. Okay so not the baby, then. What is it?"

Maria slipped his wedding ring onto his finger. Michael thumbed the ring gratefully and held Maria more tightly to him, breathing her in. His voice was hoarse with emotion as he spoke against her hair, "I'm sorry for being such a jackass; for dictating my plan to you instead of discussing it and making a plan with you. Thank-you for bringing me home. I really missed you, Maria."

Maria expressed confusion, "We just got here, why are you already calling this home?"

Michael stated softly, "I wasn't talking about the location or the house, either; I meant you."

He heard her soft sigh and felt her head nod as she responded, "Oh. I missed you, too, Michael. And I'm also sorry. I was so caught up in my own feelings, that it never even crossed my mind, that me not answering, might make you think I was in danger. I only meant to make sure that you knew I was super mad at you. I'm sorry for worrying you. Shoe on the other foot, if you didn't answer and made me worry, we certainly wouldn't be cuddling in the raw, right now. Maybe I'm the jackass, here, then?"

Michael kissed her forehead and conceded, "We both have our stupid moments. It's just part of our story. I feel like we have a lot more moments like this, right here, though, especially since we got married. Maybe we should come up with a system, so that our next moments of stupid, don't cause us quite so much grief?"

Maria suggested, "Like, maybe instead of not answering, I could answer and just tell you that Metallica sucks?"

Michael gasped and objected, "Okay, first of all, blasphemy! And second of all, it's not like you to tell blatant lies, so I don't see how that would improve our communication?"

Maria countered, "Of course it's a blatant lie but I'm pretty sure if we were on the outs, me saying that, would make you really mad and then you'd know how I feel. Someone you love, saying or doing things that you don't love? Get it, now?"

Michael reasoned aloud, "So it'd be more of a code phrase than your actual opinion?"

Maria chuckled and reassured him, "Yes, spaceboy. They may not be my favourite band but I don't actually think Metallica sucks, okay?"

Michael sighed in relief, "Okay. Code phrase works, then. Wait, shouldn't I have one, too?"

Maria replied with humour in her voice, "What for? If you're pissed at me and I want to talk you out of it, I'll just summon you. It supposedly only doesn't work if you stop loving me, right? And since you already told me this love is permanent, then it will always work."

Michael complained indignantly, steeped in blatant awe, "That's so aggressively unfair and yet somehow it strengthens your hold on me, because I know for a fact, that you would actually follow through and do that to me. A force to be reckoned with for sure. Tell me again, why this gets to be my life?"

Maria laughed and set about seducing him, as she supposed, "You must have been a very, very good spaceboy in that other one."

Michael answered solemnly, "Obviously.", and he passionately surrendered to his wife's seduction.
Last edited by Fidomom on Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
~FM :)

keepsmiling7
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Re: Finding Something Better by Fidomom (AU,M/M,TEEN/ADULT) Ch1-17/? - 05/15/20

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sat May 16, 2020 2:44 pm

You are the author, and are entitled to write from your vantage point. One comment you made reminded of something my step-daughter said once, "you can never have too many people that love your children". We too are a blended family with some great relationships and some that were not perfect.

Back to the new part, loved that Michael misses the kids and the noises they made. He noted his wife's smell was gone, but quickly told Maria he referred to her perfume and such.
It was good that Max and Liz got Ava's room set up first. They are both anxious for this baby to arrive.
Have I mentioned how much I love Kyle's Froggy name?
We continue on and await the birth of the babies.

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Fidomom
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Re: Finding Something Better by Fidomom (AU,M/M,TEEN/ADULT) Ch1-18/? - 08/01/20

Post by Fidomom » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:32 pm

keepsmiling7 wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 2:44 pm
You are the author, and are entitled to write from your vantage point. One comment you made reminded of something my step-daughter said once, "you can never have too many people that love your children". We too are a blended family with some great relationships and some that were not perfect.

Back to the new part, loved that Michael misses the kids and the noises they made. He noted his wife's smell was gone, but quickly told Maria he referred to her perfume and such.
It was good that Max and Liz got Ava's room set up first. They are both anxious for this baby to arrive.
Have I mentioned how much I love Kyle's Froggy name?
We continue on and await the birth of the babies.
@keepsmiling7- Your step-daughter is very wise. :) Thanks for your encouragement and support.
That's so great that you love Isabel's nick name for Kyle! LOL! He's a total frog prince, and it's a bit of a carry over from one of my other stories where it was his costume for Halloween. Didn't even know I was going to include it in this story, until I did it and then didn't hate it, lol. As someone who plays and watches a lot of Sims 100 baby challenges, waiting for babies is very exciting and the births/finding out the baby's names just make me smile. Hint: I may have smiled while writing this current chapter, lol.
~FM :)

Title: Finding Something Better
Author: Fidomom
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. It is only loosely based on characters from the 1999-2002 tv series Roswell as I imagine they could be from different points throughout and beyond the three seasons of the show. I am not affiliated with any of the original creations nor creators from the series. I will make no monetary gains from publishing this work of fiction.
Pairings/Characters/Category: Michael & Maria, Max & Liz, Kyle, Isabel, Ava, CC, UC, AU, w/Aliens
Rating: Teen
Summary: This chapter - Heart to heart conversations and unexpected events lead various members of the crew to discoveries and revelations that delight, surprise and even unsettle them.
Author's Note: warnings=none

Finding Something Better
by Fidomom

Chapter Eighteen (Part 1 of 2)


Monday, February 3rd, 2003.

Max and Liz got up a little later than usual. They showered together, got dressed and upon opening the bathroom door, to go downstairs for breakfast, they looked at each other and smiled in puzzled amusement. Max admitted, "I've never heard her do that, before. Have you?"

Liz smirked and shook her head, then added, "She's almost always wearing those headphones but we've never discussed what she was listening to. I think my Dad has played this song before?"

They chuckled together as Ava belted out a line from the chorus,"I wanna shoo, ooh ooh ooh ooh oot, the whole day down!"

They proceeded downstairs to further investigate. They discovered Ava dancing and bopping around the kitchen, singing away, as she scrubbed the inside of what were clearly, already spotlessly clean cupboards. When she finally realised she had an audience, she giggled a little self-consciously, slid her headphones off and did a small curtsy, as she greeted them, "Oh, I didn't know you two were up! I guess I got a little carried away, since sound isn't an issue here, the way it was in Bend. Anyway, good morning! Did you guys sleep good? Because I sure did! I feel so full of energy and I just had to do something with it! I don't know that I've ever been in this great of a mood! The only bad part of today, is finding out that the shape-shifter is staying with us. At least it's only until Charlie stops taking the elixir, though. Mondays do usually bite, but this one only does because of him, hence the song choice. He's already gone out, by the way. Looking into news from Bend. Hope he stays gone, at least until my energy runs out enough for me to nap. While he's away the Boomtown Rats and I will play! And clean!"

Ava didn't really wait for responses from them; she just put her headphones back on to resume communing with her music, while continuing to vigorously clean the cupboards.

Max nudged Liz and suggested, "I think I've read about this. Is she nesting?"

Liz nodded and said softly, "Yes, Max, I think she is definitely nesting. We already deep cleaned this entire kitchen on Saturday."

Liz and Max started to make themselves hot morning beverages and breakfast, around Ava's continued energetic activity, still not quite familiar with where to find everything they wanted.

As they finally sat to eat, Ava took a break and sat with them, removing her headphones, again, although all three could still hear the music playing through them, from around her neck. She initiated conversation with them, practically sparkling with bright energy, "So we haven't really discussed what to name our child, yet and I have some ideas! I don't have my heart set on any particular given names, but it would mean a lot to me if the name contains the letter z; as my way to honour Zan and I was also thinking the surname should definitely be Parker like you guys! To be honest I kind of hate that my surname is derived from the shape-shifter's surname. Maybe someday, I'll be at liberty to have it legally changed again but I definitely don't want our child saddled with it, in the meantime! So what do you guys think? Can we do both of those things?"

Liz exclaimed happily, "You're only the reason that this child was even possible, so, yes, Ava, I think we can accommodate those requests! I actually think it's a really loving way to honour him without actually having our child be his direct name sake, because I mean Max already has a son named, Zan, which is sort of confusing because he was named for who Max was in that other life before arriving here, and so was your Zan. The letter z, though, that gives us a lot of options. Plus you know, my name also has the letter z, in it, so there's that! I think it's a great idea!,

"Max? What do you think?"

Max nodded and smiled at both of them, in turn as he concurred, "We are all on the same page."

Ava suddenly gasped, then laughed, "Apparently, all four of us! Oh my gosh, you guys, I think our baby has got some of my energy, right now! You have to feel this!"

Liz and Max eagerly set their utensils aside and within seconds, three pairs of eyes were shining with joyful tears, as they each rested their palms against Ava's tummy, to feel the life inside, actively thriving.

*****

Kyle and Isabel were in their very own kitchen, enjoying the cozy privacy of living in their new home with just their little family of five. Jamie was napping and Lex and Charlie were playing quietly in the living room. Kyle said out loud what they were both thinking, "Is it weird to think that it's really nice with just our party of five and at the same time to kind of miss our ex-housemates?"

Isabel laughed in relief and confessed, "If it is, then I'm having the very same weird thoughts!"

A sudden yell from Charlie startled them both and they hurried to the living room to find out what was wrong. Lex was trying to comfort his little sister but she was in a full on temper tantrum complete with broken toys, broken crayons and a shredded colouring book. Kyle took Lex out of the room, while Isabel tried to calm Charlie. Kyle gently asked Lex, "What happened with Charlie, buddy? Do you know why she's so upset?"

Lex shook his head, his expression full of concern as he kept looking worriedly back toward the living room, where Charlie was still tantrumming. He answered Kyle, "We were just colouring, Daddy and she just broke everything and I don't know why. Did I do something wrong?"

Kyle reassured him, "I think probably not, buddy. You want to make a snack with me, for you and Charlie once she calms down? Mommy will find out why she's upset. Everything will be okay."

Lex nodded eagerly and suggested, "Can we make happy face pb and j? That's her favourite!"

Kyle tousled Lex's curly hair and agreed, "I love this plan! You're such a great big brother, Lex! Let's get busy, then!"

Isabel was nearly at her wits end, over Charlie's distress and she was on the verge of getting Michael and Maria involved, when Charlie finally acted on Isabel's repeated prompts to use her words.

Through remnant sobs, Charlie lamented, "I can't do it, like Lex, Mommy! Green touch the black line! I don't like it, Mommy! Why I can't make green no touch the black line?"

It took a few seconds for Isabel to process what had caused Charlie's melt down, as she absorbed Charlie's words along with the physical evidence of the shredded colouring book and broken crayons, particularly one severely broken green crayon.

Isabel consoled her sympathetically, "Oh, honey! It's okay! You'll be able to colour inside the black line, when you're bigger. Lex couldn't do it when he was little, either."

Charlie pouted her angry objection, "I big now, Mommy! I not little! Jamie little! Green needs a timeout, Mommy! Green is not playing nice!"

Kyle poked his head into the living room and announced cautiously, "Lex and I made happy face pb and j's. Is there anyone here who needs a happy face?"

Isabel picked Charlie up and answered, "Oh, I think we could all use a happy face, right about now."

Charlie's lack of objection was duly noted by both of them, with relief.

*****

Maria was getting the nursery set-up and organised, finally. She and Michael had done Charlie's room first and then the rest of the house, including their own bedroom. She'd hoped Michael would help her with the nursery, but he'd been out since just after dawn and she'd decided not to wait on him, any longer. She didn't know where he'd gone but she wasn't worried about it, only mildly disappointed that he wasn't there to help her with it.

He strolled in shortly after lunch. When she heard him, she was prepared to express her disappointment, until she saw his face.

She looked at him expectantly and prompted, "What already? You can't just waltz in here after being gone all morning looking like that! Spill! What did you do?"

Michael shrugged and answered, "Hopefully got back in your good books after the whole Bend thing. You'd better head over to Isabel's and Kyle's, right now."

Maria narrowed her eyes suspiciously and asked, "Why?"

Michael shrugged, fighting a smirk as he responded casually, "I don't know. Might be someone you want to see. Well, virtually see, to be exact."

Maria gasped and her eyes watered as she sought confirmation, "Mom? For real? Wait. Aren't you coming with?"

Michael declined, "Nah. I already got some time in early this morning, arranging everything. Besides, we've got a nursery that needs a Dad's touch, too. You'd better get going. She'll be logging on in about five minutes. Just, Maria? Take it easy on the stairs. No falls."

Maria stuck out her tongue at him and agreed, "I can hurry carefully, you know!"

Michael half-smirked and pointed out, "Now that it will prove me wrong, I don't doubt that."

Maria glared at him half-heartedly and warned even as she kissed his cheek, "You're lucky I'm more grateful than annoyed, right now! Love you, spacehubby! Thank-you for this! Oh and it's a baby nursery not a bike garage so keep the Dad touch to a happy minimum, okay?"

Michael chuckled at that and prompted, "Yeah, yeah, go already. I've got this!"

Maria only got one knock in, before Isabel opened the door and eagerly invited her inside, giving her a quick hug, as she directed, "In the living room! Kyle's waiting on you! Lex is out with his Uncle Max, Charlie is somewhere around here, avoiding nap time and I've gotta go get Jamie to finally meet Kyle's Dad!"

Maria exclaimed, "Ohhh! Now I get why it's happening here! Wait. Kyle really hasn't seen his Dad at all since we left? Wow. This is huge! Now he's a Dad himself. A lot happened in a short time, even though it feels more like our other lives were a lifetime ago. Sure hope his Dad takes all of our news okay."

Isabel smiled and insisted, "The apple doesn't fall far. My husband was raised by a good and kind man. I'm sure my father-in-law will handle our news just fine."

Maria sat beside Kyle in the living room and bumped her shoulder against his, as she asked, "You ready?"

Kyle nodded and wondered aloud, "Is it weird to be this nervous about seeing my Dad?"

Maria pointed out, "Unless Michael already told my Mom that we're having a baby, then you aren't the only one with a surprise to spring on your single parent, so no, it's not weird to be nervous about this. It'll be a lot for both of them to process. Do you suppose our parents are still dating each other? Or is this just a friendly, since both of our kids are in the same place, let's both talk to them, at the same time?"

Kyle's eyes widened briefly, then he closed them and said under his breath, "Well, if they are, then please, dear Buddha, just don't let them do anything that we can't unsee during this call."

Maria concurred, "Amen to that. Let's login, already!".

Their first view of their respective parents, was of Jim Valenti rubbing Amy DeLuca's back reassuringly as he said, "See, darlin'? There they are! They look just fine, to me."

Maria corroborated, "He's right, Mom. Sorry we're a bit late. Totally my fault! Kyle was just waiting on me. Anyway, we're here. Hi! We miss you both, so much!"

Kyle softly greeted his estranged father, "Dad."

Jim's eyes shone extra for a second, as he acknowledged, "It's good to see you, son. It's real good to see you; to see for myself that you're okay and all."

Kyle held in all of the things that were not exactly okay and he fibbed, "Nothing to worry about. We're keeping safe and well. How about you, Dad? Any trouble there?"

Jim and Amy exchanged a soft look and then Jim answered, "No trouble here, at all, son. Michael had impeccable timing because Amy, here was fixing to text some news that we've been wanting to share, but now we get to share it almost face to face, instead."

Amy held up her left hand and wiggled her ring finger, which was sporting a very pretty piece of new jewelry, as she announced, "We're getting married!"

Kyle and Maria both rushed to exclaim emphatically, "Congratulations! That's so great!", and then they exchanged brief, subtly surprised looks, before Maria pressed for more information, "Have you set a date, yet? When's the big day?"

Amy winced contritely, as she answered, "Valentine's Day, actually?"

Maria exclaimed, "Wow, that's like really soon! Why the rush?"

Jim chuckled and explained, "I proposed at Thanksgiving, so for me it doesn't feel quick enough, to be real honest, here."

Amy laughed self-consciously and further defended, "Plus we're not exactly spring chickens anymore, either, so we didn't feel a long engagement was prudent."

Jim quietly asked his fiancee, "What about the other thing?"

Amy shook her head slightly and brightly queried, "I want to know how everyone there is really doing? That baby of Isabel's must be getting so big! Is he there? Do we get to meet him, this time?"

Maria turned suddenly at Charlie's sudden joyful greeting, "Mama! Is it sleepover time, now?"

Maria gathered Charlie onto her belly-crowded lap, kissed her soft, fine, light brown hair and corrected, "No baby girl, you have two more big sleeps with Mommy and Poppy, first. Mama's just here for a short visit, sweetie."

Charlie lightly rubbed the top of Maria's belly while she studied the confused faces on the laptop screen, then smiled shyly as she wiggled her fingers and said, "Hi."

Maria heaved a big sigh and introduced, "That's my Mom, baby and that's Poppy's Dad. You can call my Mom Grammy A and I'll let Poppy tell you what to call his Dad.,

"Mom, Deputy Valenti, this beautiful little girl, is Charlie. Explanations coming soon. Promise.,

"So, Kyle what should Charlie call your Dad?"

Kyle answered quickly, "Pop-Pop, obviously."

Isabel joined them, just then with Jamie in her arms, as she addressed Charlie, "There you are my little hide and seek champ!,

"Here, Froggy, can you hold him? I'm going to get this one down for her nap.,

"Hey, Ms. DeLuca, Deputy Valenti! Be right back!,

"Come on, sweet girl, let's go!"

Stifling a yawn, Charlie fibbed, "I not tired now, Mommy."

Maria chuckled and backed Isabel up, "That's okay. You don't have to sleep but you do have to close your eyes and be quiet in your bed for ten minutes."

Isabel silently mouthed, "Thank-you!", to Maria and carried an already drowsing Charlie out of the room.

Amy was looking intently at the baby in the crook of Kyle's arm and she guessed in continued confusion, "That isn't the baby we didn't get to meet on your wedding day, is it, Maria? No, he'd be older than that by now. I am so confused right now. What is going on? Whose baby is that?"

Kyle and Maria took alternating turns reminding Jim and Amy about truncated hybrid pregnancies and explaining, as briefly as possible, about age-gap elixir, before concluding with revealing Jamie's parentage. Their respective parents seemed to take that much in, easily enough and even readily congratulated Kyle on his marriage, but Amy asked Maria point blank, "Okay, but then who are Charlie's parents? She called you, Mama, and Isabel, Mommy and you both referred to Kyle as her Poppy."

Maria stated quietly, "Charlie is Isabel's and Michael's biological daughter, Mom."

Amy looked immediately furious and threatened, "I'll kill him. How could he cheat on my daughter and make a baby, all the while fooling me into thinking he's the perfect son-in-law? Where is he?"

Maria explained, "Michael didn't cheat on me, Mom. I gave Isabel the means and my blessing to let Michael become a father. He didn't even find out what I'd done, until Isabel was already pregnant, and you may as well know, that's also when he and I found out, to our own great surprise, that we are also expecting a child. You'll be a Grammy again at some point in March, best we can figure. He wanted to tell you, all about it, so many times, but it isn't exactly text friendly news to share. Please don't be mad at him; I insisted on telling you myself. And now I have."

Amy recapped aloud, "So let me get this straight, you kids are on the run with three babies, some of whom had some kind of magic potion and so somehow now they aren't babies anymore and soon there will be a fourth baby?"

Maria broke the news to her Mom, "Actually Mom, mine and Michael's baby will be baby number five because Ava is also pregnant and due to her short pregnancy, as well, hers will be born any day now."

Amy asked in exasperation, "Well, now, who fathered her baby?"

Maria answered carefully, "Ava conceived, in the same way that Charlie was conceived, except Liz provided Ava with her husband's uhh materials."

Amy sighed again and exclaimed, "This is more confusing than an afternoon soap opera! Why are you kids purposely having babies when you're in danger? Is it really the responsible thing to be doing? Doesn't it make a life on the run that much harder? Especially without support from your families? I just, I really just don't understand all of this!"

Maria answered with a calmness that seemed to surprise all of them, including herself, "Michael, Isabel and Max didn't choose to be human alien hybrids, Mom. They also didn't choose to be hunted for it. What they are choosing, is joy, in spite of everything. We are all determined to not allow the people after us, to steal any more time or life from us. We obviously all really miss the family we've left behind but we also aren't doing all of this without support from family, because we've become a family to each other and we're all doing this together.

As for being responsible, I'll have to accept the evidence the children provide; they are clean, well fed, well loved, healthy, mostly well behaved and pretty happy the majority of the time. Like all parents and step-parents, we are learning as we go and doing the best that we can. The kids really aren't making this harder, Mom; they're just making it more worth it. Three are already here and more soon will be and they'll likely have more siblings, too, beyond that, someday. Can you really fault us for actually living our lives, even though we're on the run?"

Amy's eyes visibly watered as she held her palm against her heart and replied, "Of course not, sweetheart. Oh, Maria. I'm so incredibly proud of you. Thank-you for helping me understand and all without even biting my head off. You're my own pride and joy and so, how could I ever begrudge you experiencing what that feels like? I don't. You live your best life, my darling!"

Jim nudged Amy and said, "I'm about to burst here, honey."

Amy laughed, kissed his cheek, nodded and encouraged him, "Okay, Jim, my love, yes, you can tell them!"

Jim sat up straighter, smiled proudly and divulged, "You kids aren't the only ones adding to our family. Amy and I are expecting twins! We heard two heartbeats, at our last check-up!"

Maria exclaimed excitedly, "Oh my God, Mom, congratulations! Wait, is it safe at your age?"

Amy grimaced, mildly offended and insisted, "I'm barely thirty-six, thank-you, daughter! However, it is considered a high risk pregnancy because it's at least twins. It feels like we just got on here but I suddenly need to go powder my nose! Do we have to end this or can you wait?"

Maria chuckled and admitted, "I'm needing the same sort of break, actually, but maybe it'll be good for Kyle to have some one on one with his Dad? Maybe you and I can stay scarce for around ten minutes and then come back and wrap up this visit together, after that?"

Jim smiled appreciatively and agreed, "That would be great, Maria."

Kyle echoed him, "Really, thanks, Maria."

Once the ladies had left the respective rooms, Jim smiled warmly at his son and grandson as he asked, "Can you properly introduce your old man to that little leaguer in your arms, now, son?"

Kyle beamed with parental pride, as he held Jamie up, so his Dad could see him better and he said, "Dad, this is Philip James Valenti; Jamie on the regular. Jamie, my son, this is your Pop-Pop."

Jim chuckled, "Jamie? I like it. Who decided that?"

Kyle's brows rose and he replied, "The short answer is, Charlie, actually. Isabel had hoped to call him PJ, but Charlie is hard to argue with. Not because of any difficulty with her, it's more of just genuinely agreeing with her on certain things, if that makes sense? As soon as she uhh indicated that he was Jamie, we all just knew that it fit."

Jim nodded and smiled in understanding, "It does make sense. Gosh, he sure is a looker, ain't he? Sure reminds me of you, son."

Kyle frowned in amusement and refuted, "That's what Isabel says, too but I don't see it. Looks just like her, to me. It's weird to think that my siblings are going to be younger than their nephews and niece. I'm kinda bummed, I won't get to meet them for possibly a good long while. I'm excited, though, to finally not be an only child, anymore and that I'm getting an amazing step-Mom, on top of that. That's pretty cool. I can't decide whether to say thank-you or congratulations, so both, on both counts, or you know three counts because, hey, twins! Are you nervous, at all? It's been a while, yeah?"

Jim shrugged and corrected, "Just excited. It feels like a second chance. I worked a lot when you were tiny. Missed a lot. It was a different time, back then. I may even qualify for parental leave, this time around. We're looking into it. How are you, son? Really? I feel like there's something on your mind. You want to tell me about it?"

Kyle quipped, "Time and distance hasn't dulled your parental radar or maybe just your cop instincts, even a little bit. You always seem to know, Dad. You know about Liz and her premonitions, right? And the theory of how she got those? Well, me too. Not premonitions. I can do things now that I couldn't before. I'm not entirely at peace with it, yet but I'm working on it. If something breaks, I can basically rewind it back to not broken."

Jim pondered that for a few seconds and then said, "Well, that sounds pretty handy, to me, son. Mine is, too, it's just far more subtle."

Kyle's mouth opened slightly, in surprise and he asked, "Yours? Wait, Max changed you, too?"

Jim nodded and elaborated, "I know at a glance if a suspect is guilty or not. Of course, I can't act on that. Still have to follow procedure and all, but it's made me better at my job, knowing not to waste too much time pursuing charges against people innocent of the crime I'm investigating. Token questioning and alibi checking and then I can keep looking for the actual perp. It took me a while to trust mine, too, but I could only explain away so many coincidences to myself, you know?"

Kyle said aloud, in wonder, almost to himself, "You got what you needed. Huh. Is this a secret or is it fine if I share this with the others?"

Jim grinned and advised, "It's only a secret from the folks who'd take issue with it, if you catch my drift. What about yours? Is it okay to let Amy know?"

"Let my Mom know what?", Maria interrupted.

Kyle answered his Dad first, "Of course, Dad. No trust issues on this end, either.,

"Just filling my Dad in on that thing I can do, now. That Christmas incident? He was just making sure it was fine to tell your Mom about it."

Isabel joined them, just then, with a breathless apology, "I am so sorry! That took so much longer than I expected it, to.

"Guess what, Maria? She actually asked to go potty! I'm surprised you all didn't hear me cheering her on!"

Kyle grinned widely and stated, "Have I mentioned how much I love our new place? Didn't hear a thing. I love that. Sincerely. Wait, I thought Maria was using our facilities?"

Maria sheepishly confessed, "I snuck over to our own place for that and to spy on my hubby's progress in the nursery. Just making sure that he stuck to our agreement about the theme in there. He caught me. That's what took me so long to come back."

Isabel asked worriedly, "Did you two get into it? As bad as before the move?"

Maria smirked and corrected, "Nooo, it was that other thing we do, this time. My fault. He had to remind me to get my duck waddling butt back over here."

Jim asked, "Nursery, hmm? So, then you've already had the baby shower? Because I could sure use some ideas, in that regard."

Maria cringed and admitted, "Actually, none of us have had any baby showers. We just sort of bought what we needed as stuff came up. But I'm sure we could come up with some ideas for you, for Mom's baby show ... oh hey, Mom!"

Jim winked in appreciation for the quick save and greeted his returned fiancee, "I was just getting better acquainted with my grandson. Philip James but they call him Jamie. Looks just like Kyle, I swear."

Isabel nudged Kyle and gloated, "I told you so!"

Kyle looked to Maria and begged, "A little back-up here? I can't be the only one who thinks he looks just like Isabel."

Maria shrugged and suggested instead, "Actually, Kyle now that I'm looking, I think he looks a lot like your Dad. I mean yeah there's a bit of both you and Isabel in there but mostly his Pop-Pop. Hey, you asked!"

Isabel and Kyle immediately investigated Maria's claim and said in unison, "Oh, wow, you're right, he kind of does."

Amy insisted, "Let me have a better look at him! Oh. Oh my, Jim, honey! He really does favour you. He's beautiful. Here's hoping our babies get a lot of those lovely Valenti genes, as well!"

Jim held Amy's hand and said with a warm smile, "I think our babies will do alright when it comes to that. Their Mom and big sister are also solid evidence for it."

After a brief knock on the door, they all heard Liz call out, "Hey, guys? I'm just bringing Lex back but I can't stay! Hi to Ms. DeLuca and Deputy Valenti for us! Bye!"

"Daddy, I'm home! Did you miss me, Daddy?", Lex hollered excitedly.

Kyle brightened up and called out to him, "Of course, I did! Come on in here, Lex, buddy! There's some really special people I want you to meet."

Isabel took Jamie from Kyle and excused herself, again, "On that note, this little dude needs a feeding and a nap.,

"Lex, honey, Mommy wants to hear all about your visit with Uncle Max, as soon as Jamie is asleep, okay?"

Lex nodded and sat on Kyle's lap. Isabel leaned over to drop a kiss on Lex's head and one on her husband's cheek before leaving the room, again.

Kyle indicated Amy and Jim on the screen, by turn and introduced them to Lex, "Lex, this is Auntie Maria's Mommy, sissy's Grammy A. ,

"So is Auntie A fine for him, then, Ms. DeLuca?"

Amy nodded, smiling as she said, "Yes, of course, Auntie A will be just fine, Kyle. Hi, Lex, it's really great to meet you! I love your beautiful curls!"

Lex giggled a little and announced, "But I'm a boy though, Auntie A! I'm only handsome!"

Amy countered with, "Well, bubbles are beautiful and they aren't boys or girls so you can be beautiful, too, then, right?"

Lex considered that and shrugged as he agreed, "Okay. I'm handsome and beautiful!"

The adults on both sides of the screen stifled chuckles and Kyle continued the introductions, "And this man, Lex, is my Dad, my Pop, so you can call him Pop-Pop."

Lex waved and greeted cheerfully, "Hi, Pop-Pop! Are you coming to visit us, soon? Will you take me fishing, too with you and Daddy?"

Jim smiled and asserted, "I would love to take you fishing, someday, Lex, but I think we're both going to have to wait on that. We'll definitely keep that on a list of things we want to do together, though."

Lex boasted, "And I'm gonna catch the biggest fish, ever! But we won't eat him, though, right, Pop-Pop? I don't like eating fish. It tastes yucky!"

Jim chuckled and agreed, "I bet you will catch the biggest one but you're right we'll just let him go, after. You don't have to eat him, son."

Lex loudly whispered to Kyle, "Daddy, I'm hungry! Can we make girl cheese sammiches, now?"

Kyle hesitated and Jim encouraged, "A growing boy needs to eat a lot of sammiches, son. You go on ahead. It was great seeing you and getting a glimpse for myself how you kids are doing. Hope we can talk again, real soon. These lovely ladies gave us some one on one time, now seems like a good time to maybe do the same for them. You take care, Kyle. I love you, son.,

"It was a real pleasure to meet you, Lex. I sure do hope we can add more things to our list, the next time we chat. How does that sound?"

Lex grinned and gave Jim a thumbs up before waving and saying, "Bye, Pop-Pop! See you later!"

Kyle's eyes watered as he said, "Love you, too, Pop. Thanks for taking all of this so well. I know it was a lot. I better go get to making them sammiches. Talk again, soon, for sure.,

"Bye, Ms. DeLuca! It was great seeing you, too. I'm pretty excited about the news you guys shared with us. Thanks for giving my Pop so many reasons to smile. I'm especially glad to know that he isn't alone, while I'm not around."

Amy gently chided, "We'll work out what to call me, after the wedding. Take care, Kyle. You all give those precious kiddos extra hugs and kisses for us, tonight!"

Kyle agreed over his shoulder, as an impatient Lex, pulled him by the hand toward the kitchen, "Absolutely. Will do! Later!"

Jim nodded to Maria and said, "I wasn't sure how you kids were gonna take our news. I know there've been ... issues, in the past. Thanks for taking it so well. I'm gonna go now and give you two some likely much needed mother daughter time. It was good to see you, Maria. We'll continue keeping in touch through the system Michael and Amy started. Stay safe. Bye for now.,

"I think the boy had the right idea, love. I could use a nicely toasted grilled cheese sammich, myself. Shall I make one for you, as well?"

Amy answered hopefully, "Or two, even? Thanks, honey!"

They kissed on the lips, briefly, before Jim left to go make the sandwiches for he and Amy, and Maria suddenly realised with a smile of wonder, that it hadn't grossed her out, this time around. She didn't have time to dwell on it, though because her Mom started grilling her, as soon as they were alone, "Are you and Michael okay, sweetheart? Michael inadvertently mentioned that you two had been at odds recently but he wouldn't elaborate. Was it about Charlie, then? He did say things were better, again, now but you'd tell me if it was still a serious issue for the two of you, right?"

Maria decided in that moment against divulging about the whole Commander thing, just yet. She fibbed, "Yes, Mom, I'd tell you if it was something for you to be concerned about. Michael wasn't mad about Charlie for longer than about a minute, I swear. It's like Michael said, we just recently hit a small rough patch but we're fine, now. Like, really, super fine, promise!"

Amy was still obviously suspicious but she backed off, "Okay, well, I'll have to take you at your word, then. How are you handling everything, though, Maria? Really? Michael has a child with someone else? You're pregnant with his child and on the run. The stress you must be feeling. I just, sweetheart, I really worry about you."

Maria tried for light-hearted, as she chided, "Worry is not good for my siblings, so just stop, okay? You aren't completely wrong, though. I mean, this is definitely not the ideal situation for any of us, so yes, sometimes it is stressful but we've all got each others backs, Mom. We give each other personal recharge breaks, as needed. We're doing okay. If that changes, Michael will let you know. I promise to keep you in the loop, even if it's not great news, okay? You haven't even told me your due date, yet. Let's talk about that. And your wedding, too! I hate that I can't be there for that, not even like this, but you'd better have an amazing photographer, or better yet, videographer, lined up because I don't want to miss out on your wedding, either!"

Amy brightened and addressed the due date first, "Well, the fourth of August would be forty weeks, however my OB has advised me that she doesn't expect me to go full term. Anytime after the fourteenth of July is the goal, barring these babies deciding to come earlier than that, which, you know, of course, we don't want.

As for our wedding, yes of course, we intend to have pictures taken, as well as a videographer, because we want you and Kyle to be included in our special day, even if it's not in a direct sort of way. If it was just for us we'd probably be fine with just a nice wedding picture to frame and display in our new home. Oh. Well, now I've just realised that we've left that part out. Jim and I aren't living together, yet, sweetheart, but we've bought a house together and we'll be moving into it, the second of April, only because I took issue with the move in date being on April Fools' Day. I just don't want anything going awry, you see. For now, though, honestly, Jim is here more than his own place, so it's almost like living together, but I outright refused to make that official. I told him, no, Jim, you'll have to marry me first, to live with me. We started our house search the very next day. He's a good man, Maria. He really makes me happy."

Maria shrugged, smiled and stated simply, "Then I approve, Mom. I want for you, what you wanted for me; to be really sure and really happy. Good news, no regrets, yet, for me! I wish the very same for you. Truly. It's kinda weird we're both pregnant at the same time and that your grandchildren are older than the children you're carrying, right now. I always liked being your one and only kid but I'm kind of not mad that I won't be anymore. I just wish everything would fall into place, so we could all come home and I could know my siblings from the moment they're born, you know?"

Amy said wistfully, "Well, who's to say that won't happen? A lot can go on between now and then. Look how many changes have happened just since your own wedding! There's nothing wrong with hoping, Maria. Remember that, okay?"

Maria nodded, somewhat teary-eyed and said, "I will, Mom. I love you and gosh, I really miss your hugs. I don't like goodbyes but we should probably wrap this up, now."

Amy sighed sadly, as well and concurred, "I miss yours, too, my baby. I've set Michael the task of being my proxy; he has a hug for you from me. He promised me that, so make sure you collect it. I do hope we'll get to do this again, soon? I mean, only if it's safe, of course!"

Maria only nodded and ended the connection. The aroma of the food Kyle and Lex were making reached Maria's nose and her stomach growled. She grinned wryly, patted her belly and reassured, "Okay, okay, little one, yes, yes, Mama will go feed us, now, too!"

She ducked into the kitchen first to let Kyle and Lex know that she was going back to her own unit. Kyle interrupted her exit with an accusation laced question, "So we're not even going to talk about their news? Both parts?"

Maria opened her mouth as if to say something, then snapped it shut, again. She and Kyle looked at each other in silence and Kyle prompted, "You didn't even bat an eye, never mind freak out."

Maria countered, pouting slightly, "Well, neither did you."

Kyle suggested in mock horror, "Are we adulting? Is that what happened? Are we even old enough for that?"

Maria winced and answered, "No. So it can't be that. I need to process this with my husband, first, but you and I will definitely talk about this later. A step-brother. I so cannot deal with all of that right now. Later, Kyle! Bye, Lex!"

She started to hurry down the steps to return to Michael and to check on his progress in the nursery, again, but remembered in time about being careful. She smirked to herself that it did feel pretty good proving her husband wrong and she mentally vowed to reward him for his foresight about that.

*****
(Chapter too long to fit in one post. Chapter 18 Part 2 of 2 in next post.)
~FM :)

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Re: Finding Something Better by Fidomom (AU,M/M,TEEN/ADULT) Ch1-18/? - 08/01/20

Post by Fidomom » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:34 pm

FSB by Fidomom Ch.18 (cont'd Pt. 2 of 2)

*****

Wednesday, February 5th, 2003.

Having Charlie over for her officially scheduled two big sleeps for the first time since the move, meant that Michael and Maria were getting a small glimpse into what life would be like daily, once their own child was born. In Bend, everyone had been involved in the childcare of Lex and Charlie but now it would just be Michael and Maria doing it all on their own with Charlie. It was a very different dynamic from having seven available adults to tend to one child, down to just the two of them. Charlie seemed to enjoy having the two of them all to herself, though.

Maria was particularly enjoying watching Charlie persuade Michael to do almost anything she wanted, whenever she wanted. Maria found herself taking mental notes, for future use, whenever Charlie got a yes instead of the refusal Maria was sure Michael was going to give her.

Maria quickly realised that she was to be the strict one between the two of them and yet she knew that even she had lax limits for Charlie. She hoped it wasn't biology related; that spoiling Charlie a little more than Isabel would like wasn't because Charlie wasn't her biological child but more just because she genuinely didn't have any serious qualms about Charlie's wants or behaviours. Shared custody was a new experience for all of them, but all four of her parents were mainly concerned about how Charlie might perceive the changed living arrangements.

To their surprise her only real concern was if her parents were all still friends and that living in separate spaces wasn't because anyone was mad at anyone. They were quick to reassure her about that and so she was excited by the idea of sleepovers at Mama's and Daddy's.

Isabel and Lex brought Charlie over for lunch after her sceduled elixir dose and assessment by Kal. Lex stayed to eat and visit, partly because Isabel hoped Lex's presence would make the transition easier for Charlie. Isabel left, though, saying she'd collect Lex, shortly after lunch.

After Isabel left, Michael and Maria showed Lex and Charlie the nursery. Lex was disinterested and went off to go play with the toys in the living room but Charlie examined everything very studiously, then insisted on putting her hand on Maria's belly. Michael asked her, "You've felt the baby kick lots of times, Bubbles. Why do you want to feel the baby when it isn't even kicking, right now?"

Charlie insisted quite dramatically, "So the baby can see, too, Daddy!"

Michael and Maria exchanged a look and Maria invited Charlie to go ahead and feel, as she muttered to Michael, "I didn't know that was still a thing. Did you?"

Michael shook his head and confirmed, "No, I did not."

Charlie sighed heavily and announced, "You better make the caboose red, Daddy. The baby likes red the most.,

"Uh-oh, Mama! Potty now!"

Maria scooped her up quickly and directed Michael over her shoulder, as she left to take Charlie to the restroom, "You know what to do - make it red, spaceboy!"

Michael mock saluted and agreed, "I can do that."

He touched the caboose in the wall mural and it immediately changed from yellow to red.

After lunch, Isabel returned and while Lex and Charlie finished watching a movie in the living room, Isabel caught Michael and Maria up on the news that Kal had shared about the incident in Bend. Apparently skeptics about the existence of aliens had managed to create a visual that was close enough to the captured images of Charlie's colour cloud, that the news rooms lost interest and dropped the story entirely, chalking it up to having been yet another hoax.

Michael commented, "I decidedly like skeptics, now. It's just good we didn't rush to get here for nothing, though, that we were already coming here, anyway."

Isabel concurred, "Right? Talk about unlikely allies. Now we just cross our fingers that our darling daughter doesn't do any other interesting, newsworthy things, while we're here."

Maria suggested, "Her cognition is already pretty advanced, so we might be able to talk her into not doing anything big, anymore, a whole lot sooner than we expected we'd be able to."

Isabel nodded and admitted, "That would be great! It's just, you know, I worry! So much! She's Charlie; she wants to do everything big!"

Michael reassured them both, "If she does, she does. We'll deal with it, then. Let's not borrow trouble. She's been pretty consistently calm for a few weeks, now."

Isabel winced and divulged about Charlie's colouring book meltdown and how she and Kyle had dealt with it. Maria and Michael reassured Isabel, that she and Kyle had handled it just fine and then Maria suggested, "Maybe store it away as a teaching moment about her powers, when she's ready."

Isabel furrowed her brow in puzzled curiosity, "What do you mean?"

Maria elaborated, "Well, Charlie will eventually gain the skill to colour inside the lines, but Lex will likely never gain the ability to make the toys dance with his thoughts. Most people can't do even half the things that Charlie can already do, that we even know about. For instance, were you aware that she can still talk to this baby?"

Isabel gasped and wondered aloud, "Oh my God! I had no idea! Why would she keep that from us?"

Michael defended his daughter, "I don't think it was an intentional secret, Isabel. Charlie thinks we all already know everything that she knows or that she can do. Everytime she reveals another ability to us, it's never hey look surprise, see what I can do, but more like she really thinks it isn't new to us. She was pretty annoyed that we didn't seem to know why she likes to touch Maria's belly."

Maria nodded and continued, "When she is ready, we can let her know that everybody doesn't already know and that doing things others can't do, right in front of them, could potentially hurt their feelings, like hers were hurt when she couldn't colour inside the lines. Obviously, we all know that it's a lot more serious than merely hurt feelings but I don't think we need to scare her unnecessarily, you know? Just give her a reason to be more aware that other people have limitations and that very few people will appreciate her flaunting all the gnarly things that she can do."

Isabel thanked Michael and Maria for their insights on Charlie, indicating that she was eager to share them with Kyle, too.

As soon as the kids' movie was over, Isabel kissed Charlie goodbye and then impulsively gave her two more for the two goodnights she'd be without Mommy. Charlie seemed quite content to stay with Michael and Maria, when Isabel and Lex left to go home to Jamie and Poppy, without her.

As Isabel and Lex returned home, Isabel was feeling a whole lot less worried, now that she had some idea of how to approach teaching Charlie to be careful about her powers without scaring her. She was also feeling relieved that Charlie had gotten settled in at her Daddy's so easily and that she understood and was just fine with the new living arrangements and shared custody agreement.

Charlie was in fact so comfortable at her Daddy's that she pulled her usual disappearing act, as soon as she realised it was nap time.

At first Michael and Maria tried coaxing her out of hiding with promises of fun after her nap but when that didn't work, Michael nudged Maria and suggested, "I think what works on me, might work on her, too. Bets? If I win, we revisit the motorbike discussion?"

Maria asked, "And if it doesn't work?"

Michael answered grudgingly, "Then I'll drop the idea completely plus no more of your least favourite chore until our baby's first birthday."

Maria sized him up and mused aloud, "Wow. Your level of confidence is impressive but you knew the chore thing would be too enticing for me to pass up. Fine. You're on!,

"Charlie Bridget Ramirez, if you don't come out right now for your nap, no song from Mama, not for nap and not for bedtime, either, you'll just get the tape again."

Maria was about to gloat about being relieved of kitchen clean up but Charlie materialised from her hidden room before Maria could utter a single word. Charlie lifted her arms up, to be carried and requested, "Charlie sleepy. Mama sing Charlie's song, now."

Michael smirked, kissed Charlie, then Maria on their respective cheeks and offered loser consolation, "How about two weeks off from it, seeing as I did that thing I'm not supposed to be doing, you know? Being right? Because that's your job."

Maria gasped, pursed her lips and then agreed, "Good point! You did say you'd stop doing that, so, uhh, yeah, it's the least you could do! We will discuss the motorbike thing, yet again, later. Spaceboy."

Michael fist pumped the air triumphantly, at her use of the affectionate moniker.

*****

Thursday, February 6th, 2003.

Charlie had been down for her nap for about fifteen minutes when Maria got a text from Liz, "You up for company? Just me?"

Maria texted back, "Sure! Charlie's napping & hubby is gone for groceries. Get over here!"

Maria startled, then laughed at the immediate light rap at the door. She opened the door to Liz grinning mischieviously and wiggling her fingers, in a hello wave. Maria laughed again as she surmised, "You really just texted me from my stoop! Why didn't you just knock in the first place? Get in here, already!"

They hugged hello properly and Liz explained somewhat sheepishly, as they went into the kitchen to sit and chat, "Well, in my hurry to come visit, I was already on your stoop when I suddenly remembered that you guys have Charlie and also that since we all have way more privacy, now, that perhaps you might be uhh busy? I just didn't want to be THAT friend that drops by unexpectedly."

Maria nodded and admitted, "Yeah, okay. All fair points. Good call and thank-you, Lizzie. Still, you're the only one who could get away with being THAT friend and still be welcome. Just so you know!"

Liz grinned and echoed, "And that's a two way street, just so YOU know!"

Maria assessed Liz in sudden suspicion and demanded, "What gives? You didn't rush over here just for besties time. What's going on?"

Liz announced gleefully, "So just after seven o'clock this morning, Ava threw up! Isn't that great?"

Maria frowned and started to respond, "Lizzie, that seems kind of not gre- OH MY GOD! Wait! Like today is the day, threw up? What are you doing here, then? Shouldn't you be over there with her?"

Liz winced and whined a little, "I know! I want to be but I'm getting on her nerves, a little! Not intentionally and you know she isn't being mean to me or anything but I can just tell, you know? These last few days she's been in a fabulous mood but ever since throwing up she's feeling a little less fabulous. You remember Isabel getting kind of moody, right? Like that but, you know, Ava style. Understated but still pretty clear. Anyway, bestie time is never a bad plan and it was just a really good idea right now. Thanks for letting me invite myself over, Maria! You're literally saving Ava's sanity! I'm just, I haven't felt this excited about an impending event for so long! Like maybe when I was waiting for acceptance letters was the last time? I mean, don't get me wrong, obviously, I was looking forward to getting married, and you getting married and Isabel having her babies but this is different for me, Maria! I'm going to be a Mom Two today! Not Mom also, too but like the number two, Mom Two!"

Maria shook her head and asked in bemusement, "I'm sorry, what? Do you even still speak English?"

Liz stuck out her tongue and fidgeted with nervous energy, "Haha, very funny! No, it's what we've all decided on! Max will be Papa, Ava will be Mom One and I'll be Mom Two!"

Maria said, "Ahh, okay, now I get what all that other gibberish was. Be interesting to hear what the kid actually calls you guys."

Liz's expression fell solemn and she asked, "What do you mean by that?"

Maria patted Liz's hand and quickly reassured, "Oh, no, Lizzie, nothing bad! I just meant nobody imagined Lex would actually keep calling Michael, Uncle Awesome, well, except maybe, Michael, ha! Kids just have their own way of talking, is all I meant and the Mom one and two sound cute to us but for a little kid, I'm just saying don't be too attached to that idea. You can lead a horse to school or whatever but the horse will still do whatever the heck it wants!"

Liz giggled at Maria's butchered metaphor but nodded and agreed, "You're right, of course. We'll just introduce ourselves to the baby that way but of course we will answer to whatever the baby calls each of us, whenever he or she does actually start talking."

Maria mathed out loud, "So seven this morning? If she's like Isabel, then what, baby by five-ish, you think?"

Liz squealed in over excited agony and confirmed, "Yessssss! Two more hours to go! Ish."

Maria openly chuckled at her and asked, "So where's Max?"

Liz sighed, rolled her eyes and answered, "Cooking. A lot of food. Too much food. I tried to tell him it was too much but he insisted that he didn't want us having to cook meals while we are all trying to bond with our baby. I finally just gave up trying to reason with him, when I realised he just needed to keep himself busy, too. Aaaand that's when I ended up on your stoop! Ta-dah! You know the whole sordid story, now!"

Maria asked in amusement, "So how long do I actually get to keep you?"

Liz cringed and answered contritely, "I might be able to stay away from Ava for maybe another twenty minutes, or so? I mean what if hers goes quicker than Isabel's, you know? I just really don't want to miss out on anything. I did kind of promise myself not to hover over her again until like four-thirty or so because then it will be as the baby catcher rather than as an annoying and impatient co-parent."

Maria stood up, grabbed the timer she typically used for Charlie, set it for twenty minutes and challenged Liz, "I declare War on you until either one of us wins or that timer goes off, what do you say, Lizzie?"

Liz leaned forward and answered intensely, "Oh, it's on, Maria. Challenge accepted. Get the cards, girlfriend."

To Maria's chagrin, not only were the cards turning in Liz's favour more often than in her own but Liz was surprisingly fast at grabbing her wins. The timer went off when Maria was down to fewer than ten cards in her pile and Liz bolted, apologising over her shoulder, "Thanks for the game, Maria! Sorry but I have to get back over there, now! Love you! Will share news as soon as there's any! Bye!"

Not two minutes later, Michael pulled up in the Frankenmobile and started bringing groceries in. He noticed the cards, bent slightly to kiss Maria on the cheek and casually asked, "So who beat you at cards?"

Maria teased him, "Why? Do you wanna ask them for tips?"

Michael grimaced at her and she relented and answered properly, "Liz. She needed a distraction. Ava threw up at seven this morning."

Michael immediately checked the microwave time and mused, "So maybe baby by five. Cool. Is Charlie B. still napping?"

Maria answered cautiously, "Yes. Why?"

Michael shrugged and continued putting groceries away as he answered, "After I'm done with this, just thought maybe we could play some cards, too. It's been a while."

Maria scoffed skeptically, "Cards my butt! You were hoping that I want to make out with you!"

Michael suppressed a smirk and tried for casual, "Well, I wouldn't be against that."

Maria goosed him on her way by, as she flirted, "I'll be in our room. Hurry up, spaceboy. We've got maybe a half hour before she wakes up."

He yelped in pleased surprise and promised, "I'm pretty much right behind you, angel."

*****

From the moment Ava had thrown up and realised that she'd most likely be giving birth in less than twelve hours, she felt absolutely terrified, which immediately set her entire being on edge. In spite of how she was feeling, she still immediately informed Max and Liz that today was likely the day that their baby would be born. Their immediate happy excitement made her feel very alone and guilty for not being excited with them; her terror and dread persisted.

The shape shifter had overheard her telling them and he had expressed his interest in the King's child. She had immediately snapped at him, no holds barred and had felt no remorse whatsoever for it. However, when Liz had tried to be her usual caring and thoughtful self, inviting her to share a meal with she and Max, Ava had declined in a far more sharp tone than she'd intended and she had immediately regretted that, just from the expression on Liz's face alone. Ava was afraid of lashing out at Liz and Max, any further, without meaning to and so she had suggested that they all go about their day, business as usual, since the birth was hours away, yet. Even that had come out much harsher than she'd meant for it to sound.

To their credit they did try but they were both subtly hovering around her. Her irritation must have been more apparent than Ava even realised or intended because in the early afternoon, they both finally backed off and gave her some space. Ava felt even more guilty for appreciating that. She knew that Max and Liz were also just dealing as best as they could with the same jumble of emotions that she was feeling, but her own emotions coupled with the magnifying bonus of pregnancy hormones was rendering her unable to even attempt to offer them any kind of comfort or reassurance. She fervently wished, not for the first time, that she could easily share her feelings with them, the way they seemed to be so at ease sharing theirs with not only her, but with their entire crew.

Ava knew that she owed both of them an apology for her demeanor, but she also knew that there was no point doing so, while she was still feeling so on edge, or she'd just wind up spending most of the day saying sorry to them. So, in an attempt to try to soothe herself and maybe even enjoy her last few hours before the impending and terrifying unknowns of giving birth, she decided to indulge herself in a musically enriched solitude. With her favourite music pounding in her ears, and for the first time ever, Ava allowed herself to fully dwell upon her best memories of Zan and when her resultant emotions leaked from her eyes, she purposely and uncharacteristically let them roll down her cheeks unchecked. The catharsis that provided her with, genuinely surprised her.

At just after three in the afternoon, Ava broke her own solitutde to tentatively reach out to Max and Liz, only to find that Liz had left to visit with Maria and that Max was washing up a surprisingly large stack of dirty dishes. She'd smelled food cooking earlier but the stack of dishes seemed excessive to her. When she asked him about it, he answered warily that he'd cooked several meals ahead for them, so that they wouldn't have to worry about meals for at least a week after the baby was born. Ava was openly, duly impressed and appreciative.

In an effort at contrition, as well, Ava offered to dry and put away the dishes, so Max wouldn't have to, from running out of room before he was finished washing them all. He immediately relaxed, accepted her offer and expressed appreciation for her help. They were just finishing up when Liz returned. Ava could sense the same wariness from Liz that Max had exhibited, earlier, so she tried to put her more at ease, as well.

She asked Liz as pleasantly as she could manage, "So, did you have a nice visit with Maria?"

Liz greeted her husband with a quick kiss on the lips, first, before cautiously answering Ava, "Yeah. I beat her at war. It was fun."

Ava asked with an encouraging smile, "And did you tell her our good news?"

Liz visibly relaxed then and smiled back fully, as she answered, "I did! I couldn't help it! I hope that was okay?"

Ava nodded and assured, "Of course it is! It's your baby, too and she is your best friend! Of course you had to tell her! How'd she take it?"

Liz beamed and exaggerated a little in her excitement, "Same as us! She's happy for us and wants notification as soon as he or she is finally here! How are you feeling, though?"

Ava blushed a little and answered, "Better than before. I'm really sorry. To both of you."

Max and Liz answered in unison, "No apology necessary, Ava, really.", and they both squeezed her hand briefly but meaningfully.

Ava smiled her gratitude but couldn't speak the words for fear she'd burst into tears. Crying earlier had seemed to increase her urge to shed even more tears, which she still wasn't completely comfortable with doing, even when she was alone, never mind in front of other people; even people whom she loved, the way she'd only recently realised that she'd come to love Liz and Max.

Knowing she'd be unlikely to keep the food down, Ava declined to eat dinner but she did keep Max and Liz company while they ate. They even laughed together, albeit nervously, when they each caught each other sneaking looks at the time.

After Max and Liz had eaten, Liz washed, Ava dried and Max put away the dishes, chatting casually about news from their ex-housemates who were now their neighbours, instead, with focus particularly on Lex, Charlie and Jamie, all of whom they each missed living with. Having the kids nearby next door, they all agreed, just wasn't the same thing, at all. They each lamented that because of the superiority in the way the triplex had been built compared to the split level in Bend, they couldn't even hear the kids making all of their endearing kid noises.

Ava said out loud what they were each thinking, "We'll get to hear plenty of noise again, very, very soon, though.", and she rubbed her belly pointedly. The three of them smiled softly at that and then Ava excused herself to use the restroom.

Liz and Max cuddled up together on their living room sofa and checked in with each other. Max searched Liz's eyes as he asked, "How are you doing, Mrs. Liz Parker?"

Liz shrugged and admitted, "Feeling a little anxious, I guess and obviously a little impatient, too. I just want to meet our baby, already, you know? What about you? How are you doing, Max? I know you had some reservations about this initially, but how do you feel about it, now, knowing that it's finally happening, like, today?"

Max smiled wryly, smoothed hair away from Liz's face and answered, "I'm your emotional mirror. I feel what you feel, Liz. Always. I wasn't prepared for how invested I'd feel but I should have been because you've been all in from the start. I'm with you in this one hundred percent. I'm excited about being a father. Our baby's Papa. I keep trying to imagine answering to that like I answer to my name and I'm decidedly eager for it. None of this was ever even in my plans and then there you were, once again, striving to make my life better in ways I could never have dreamed of without you. I feel like I'm more than ready for this next step and you are the reason. It's always you. Thanks for inspiring me to change my plans to include this for us. I love you, Liz Parker, more and more with every passing moment that we share together."

Liz smiled at him lovingly and said softly, "Max.", before kissing him deeply on the lips. When her phone started ringing while they kissed, she didn't hurry to answer it but gradually eased off from kissing her husband, first and then on the sixth ring she finally and very casually, did answer it, "Hello?"

"Since shouting didn't work, I figured this might. My water broke. It's time guys."

Liz nearly fell off of Max's lap in her scramble to get to her feet. She assured excitedly, "We'll be right there!" and she hung up. She pulled Max to his feet, as well and informed him, as she dragged him along, "So that was Ava and our baby is coming right now! She was calling out for us, but apparently we really couldn't hear her, so thankfully she thought of just using her phone! Hurry, Max! We get to go meet our baby, now!"

As soon as Liz determined that Ava was ready to start pushing, she invited Max to join them. Max held Ava's hand and helped coach her through the breathing and pushing, while Liz kept Ava updated on the progress she was making with each push, "This baby has a good amount of dark hair, guys! Wow! Way more even than any of Isabel's babies had! You're doing so great, Ava! Baby's head is out! Now for the toughest part; just the shoulders and then the rest should be easier! I'm so excited! You can do it, Ava! Just two more big p-! Oh! Oh! We have a son guys! We have a son! It's a boy! Oh, Ava he is just beautiful! He's so big!"

Liz cleared out his airways and rubbed his chest and back firmly and he let out a lusty cry. His three parents laugh cried with him, as Liz placed him in Ava's arms. The three of them took turns greeting him and welcoming him to the world and to their family. They waited until the placenta had been delivered before Max cut the umbilical cord and then Liz cleaned him up more thoroughly before taking his measurements and weighing him.

Liz smiled joyfully, as she announced, "Our son is in excellent health! Good job Mom One!"

Ava asked in concern, "So can we find out about his blood, now?"

Liz and Max both nodded. Liz poked his heel to collect a blood sample but he barely had a moment to cry from it, before his Papa healed it for him. Liz used a new microscope that Kal had procured for them, at her request. It was significantly better than the one they'd previously thrifted.

She examined his blood sample and sighed, "Huh. Well, good news guys, his blood is human looking. I'll have to add this into my data entry diary. I thought for sure he would have blood like the two of you. There's still so much we just don't know, yet."

Max took care of disposing of the biological remnants from the birth, while Liz helped Ava get the baby started on nursing. Once he was latched on and Liz made sure that Ava was comfortable, she and Max gave them some time alone together, while she and Max discussed names and let the others know about the newest addition to their crew.

At 6 p.m. on February 6th, 2003, Maria and Isabel received birth announcement texts from Liz and Max respectively, "It's a boy! Born at 4:47 p.m. 8 lbs. 14 oz. & 23 in. long. Everyone here is doing fine! Name not yet chosen but come meet our son whenever you can!"

After talking with Maria on the phone, Isabel and Maria decided to go meet the newest Parker at 7 p.m.. Kyle stayed home with the kids but Isabel had him on speaker phone while she met their nephew for the first time, so that he'd be included with the rest of them, and also in case they learned the baby's name. Since Charlie was back at home, again, with her brothers and Kyle, Michael and Maria were able to go meet the baby together.

With their crew gathered around them, Ava handed their newborn son to his Papa for him to present to everyone, "Son this is our family. This guy is your Uncle Mi- actually son that's your Uncle Awesome and beside him is your Auntie M,

"Sorry, Maria, but ever since Lex told me about his Auntie A, I just couldn't resist the opportunity to call you that!,

"And beside Mom Two is your Auntie Isabel.

"Speak now, or forever don't, Kyle!"

Kyle chuckled and spoke up, "You wish, Parker. Hey little dude! Can't wait to meet you in person. I'm your Uncle Kyle."

Maria piped up, "I'll overlook the whole Auntie M thing for now, girlfriend, but what is this little guy's name?"

Liz smiled and admitted, "We have a first name but haven't decided on his middle name, yet. We were hoping to get some ideas from you guys? What name goes well with Izaac and suits him, do you think?"

The baby set to wailing just then and Michael quipped, "Is little red dwarf a contender because wow? Did any of Isabel's kids ever get that red in the face?"

Isabel reached over and pushed at him, admonishing, "Michael! Be nice!"

Michael objected, "What? I wasn't being not nice? He's spunky! Kid already knows how to let us know he ain't happy about something. Good for him."

Maria chuckled abruptly, then stifled it and blurted, "He kind of reminds me of you, when I first met you, Michael, right down to the bristly hair and growly mood. You reminded me of a big scary grizzly bear! Decidedly he's less scary and much cuter; maybe a baby bear cub?"

Liz laughed lightly, took the wailing baby from Max's arms to try to calm him with gentle bouncing and she complained, "You guys are not being helpful, like at all! These are not names!"

Kyle spoke up tentatively over the phone, "What about Barnard? Sorry, I just remember reading it in one of the baby names books from when we were expecting Jamie. It means bold as a bear, if that helps?"

Maria exclaimed suddenly, "Oh! And there's a star, too, right?"

Max asked her carefully, "Oh? How do you know about that?"

Maria shrugged and guessed, "I wanna say Brody? He may have mentioned something about it, to me? I didn't always pay that close attention when he was rambling about the whole abduction thing that turned out to be not all in his head or actually kind of all in his head, or you know what I mean! Anyway, there's that Barnard star thingy, right? Earth peeps and Antar peeps can both see it or something? Am I just making stuff up now? These pregnancy hormones are messing with all kinds of brain function, lately, so I really wouldn't be surprised."

Max confirmed quietly, "You didn't get that wrong, Maria. I've seen it here and I've a vague memory of seeing it there, too.

"What do you think of Barnard, Mom One and Mom Two?"

Ava smiled and shrugged as she offered, "If it's the name of a star, it works for me. It fits the song I was listening to when my water broke."

Isabel asked with genuine interest, "What song?"

Ava sang part of the lyrics, "Hey now you're an all star get your game on!"

Michael and Kyle blurted, "Shrek!" at the same time, that Liz and Maria blurted, "Smash Mouth!"

Isabel asked, "Froggy? What does Izaac mean? Can you look it up?"

Liz, Max and Ava answered together before Kyle could respond, "Joyous laughter."

Even Michael cracked a small smile for that meaning and then Liz addressed Max, "Max? Does Barnard work for you, too?"

Max knew by the look in her eye, that she knew exactly how he had learned about Barnard's star and he was grateful that she wasn't throwing it in his face or letting it cloud her opinion of the name. He smiled softly into her eyes and nodded as he answered, "Yes, Liz, I think Barnard is a good fit with Izaac."

Liz cuddled the quieted infant and with a proud smile she introduced him to their crew, "Well, then it's settled. Everyone? Ava, Max and I, are pleased to introduce to you, our precious son, Izaac Barnard Parker."

Michael leaned over and whispered to him, "Welcome to our crew, Boo Boo bear and when you need advice about the hair, Uncle Awesome has got your back. You can count on it."

Liz just laughed lightly, rolled her eyes and shook her head. The crew then said their farewells and left Max, Liz, Ava and their son, Izaac to get further acquainted and to learn how to be their own version of a family.

TBC ...
~FM :)

keepsmiling7
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Re: Finding Something Better by Fidomom (AU,M/M,TEEN/ADULT) Ch1-18/? - 08/01/20

Post by keepsmiling7 » Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:15 am

Wish Ava would come clean out my cabinets while she's in this "nesting" mood.
Loved the little ones, of course someone is not "playing nice".
Now that's a surprise.....Amy and Jim twins!
That mother/daughter pregnancy is going to be very interesting.
Mom 1 and Mom 2....that works.
Also Izaac Barnard..........but my favorite is Uncle Awesome!

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