Can you ever go back?(AU/CC/MATURE) Complete 01/29 pg 6

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Can you ever go back?(AU/CC/MATURE) Complete 01/29 pg 6

Post by FamersAmers » Tue May 17, 2005 7:57 pm

Hello, this is Melyssa posting what Amy & I hope to be the first of many chapters of our new fic! The creative idea behind this fic is all Amy's but since we seem to be sharing a brain lately :wink: we've decided to write this together! We hope you all enjoy and as usual feedback is appreciated :) Ok, enough of me blah, blah, blah...we hope you enjoy!

Can you ever go back?

Authors: FamersAmers & Safireskye26

Coupling: Conventional Coupling for now :wink:

Rating: MATURE

Disclaimer: We own nothing of Roswell, but wish we did!

Summary: Inspired by Objects In The Rear View Mirror by Meat Loaf

Sometimes we all make mistakes and wonder…can we ever go back? Max & Michael grew up together and had always been more like brothers than best friends. When a tragic accident takes Michael’s life, Max doesn’t think he’ll ever recover. Consumed by his guilt, Max leaves town vowing never to return. Finally, after 10 years of running from his mistakes, Max realizes the only way he can have a future is to put his past to rest. Reluctantly, he returns home to Roswell to face his demons.

Image

Prologue

Summer 1995...

It was a typical summer afternoon in Roswell, New Mexico. The sun was shining brightly, and the air was so hot you felt like you were going to melt, and the humidity was so high it made the whole town feel like a sauna. The teenagers around town were out in droves, swimming down at the lake, and planning the many parties they were going to have before most of them headed off for college in the fall.

Today, Max Evans and Michael Guerin were no different. Of course they’d been coerced by their girlfriends, Liz Parker and Maria Deluca, to come, but it didn’t take long for them to relax and let the hours of the day slip away. Max’s sister, Isabel, and Maria’s best friend, Alex Whitman, had quickly jumped at the offer to come along, so now it was the six of them. Lying in the sun, occasionally splashing around in the lake, and simply enjoying the freedom that summer brought to them.

They were all so different. Max was handsome and popular, but reserved. Michael was the tough kid from the wrong side of town that had befriended Max Evans at an early age, forcing him out of his protective shell. Liz was smart and beautiful but extremely poor, which only angered the many popular, well-off girls that would’ve loved to snag Max Evans. Maria was just plain feisty, never caring for a second what the small minded people of Roswell thought about her or the group of people she chose to call her friends. Isabel Evans was the polar opposite of her brother, always wanting the attention focused on her. She was beautiful, vivacious, and used to getting everything she wanted. Then, there was Alex Whitman. Alex Whitman wasn’t reserved like Max or tough like Michael, but instead the typical class clown always worshipping the girl of his dreams from afar. Together, they were an unusual group but they liked it that way.

“Michael, would you please rub some lotion on my back?” Maria whined, knowing full well that Michael was ignoring her. “Michael!” Maria slapped his arm, finally gaining his attention.

“Geez! What?” Michael asked, while rubbing the red mark Maria had left on his arm.

Maria picked up the bottle of lotion and chucked it at him. “I asked you to rub lotion on my back, but you were too busy staring at your damn car to notice.”

Michael opened the lotion and after squirting some into the palm of his hand, began to massage Maria’s back. “Sorry, babe, but I just don’t want any of these cocky assholes out here messing with my baby.”

“Your baby?” Maria huffed. “What does that make me?”

“Maria, you know what I meant.” Michael defended himself as he continued to rub lotion on her back.

Maria turned over and sat up quickly. “Why is it that we can’t have one day without you worrying about that stupid car? I don’t see Max panicking over his car. No, he’s paying attention to his girlfriend.”

“Hey,” Max interjected, “don’t bring me into this. Liz and I are minding our own business.”

“Dude? A little help would be nice.” Michael said, earning him another slap from Maria.

“Sorry, dude, but you’re on your…” Max stopped when he saw half of the football team swarming around Michael’s car. “Liz, we’ll be right back.” Max jerked his head at Michael and instantly they were both on their feet.

Liz and Maria looked toward the parking lot to see what had gotten the boys attention so fast. A moment later they were both on their feet, heading toward the crowd.

“This is a sweet ride, Mikey.” Tony Stevens, captain of the football team, commented. “How’d a loser like you get a car like this? You steal it?”

Michael jumped forward, fists ready, but Max stopped him. “You know he’s just trying to piss you off…walk away, man.”

“Yeah, Mikey. Why don’t you listen to your friend? He seems to have more brains than you do.” Tony loved getting under Michael Guerin’s skin. They’d practically been enemies since birth and lately Tony had been hearing all about the races Michael had been winning, which infuriated him. Michael was nothing in his eyes, but now even his own friends had started to take an interest in Michael.

“Walk away, Tony.” Max stated firmly. He knew Michael’s temper well enough to know with each passing second it was rising.

Tony laughed and looked back at his friends before responding to Max. “Why the hell would I want to do that? We both know Guerin’s a coward…if he wasn’t, he would’ve raced me by now. After all, everyone in town knows I have the car to beat.”

“Michael’s not a coward. We just know you don’t race fair. Now walk away.” Max said again.

“So he is afraid?” Tony said in a mocking tone. “I knew it. Come on, guys…we’ve wasted enough time on this.” Tony started to walk away but stopped when he heard Michael’s challenge.

“Any time. Any place.” Was all Michael had to say.

The crowd erupted into hooting and hollering with everyone throwing around money to place a bet. Tony was standing on one side, while Michael stared at him confidently from the other.

“Fine, Guerin. You’re on.”

Within minutes the lake had cleared out and everyone was gathered along the old highway that headed out of town. Tony was standing off to one side with his flock of sheep that hung on his every word, and Michael was standing among his own group of friends that were begging him to back down.

“You don’t have to do this, Michael.” Max said trying his best to reason with him.

“No, Maxwell…you don’t have to do this because everyone already thinks your somebody, but me…they all look at me like trash. It’s time to prove I can hang with the big boys.” Michael patted Max casually on the back as he started to climb into his car. He’d spent years rebuilding his dream car, a metallic blue 69’ Malibu SS 327 with 3 deuces and twin tail pipes, and now he knew he could take Tony.

“This is stupid! Michael, get out of the damn car.” Maria demanded.

“No.”

“Michael Guerin! Get out of that car or I’m leaving and I’ll never speak to you again!” Maria shouted.

“You do what you have to do, Maria, and I’ll do what I have to do.” Michael was completely focused on the task laid out before him and he was determined not to let anyone stop him.

Max pulled Maria away from the car and hugged her close. “Maria, just let me talk to him. I’ll take care of this.” He released her, smiled, and walked back to the car. “Ok, Michael…fun’s over. You’ve panicked Maria and showed Tony up, so I think you’ve proved your point.”

“Come with me, Maxwell.” Michael said, obviously shocking Max.

“You can’t be serious?”

“Why not? Come on, man.” Michael reached his hand out and grabbed Max’s in their signature handshake. “Brothers!”

“No, Max!” Liz insisted.

Max let go of Michael’s hand and walked over to Liz. “Liz, if he goes through with this…”

Liz shook her head. “No! It doesn’t mean you have to go with him.”

“Max, listen to Liz.” Isabel finally spoke up.

“You guys shouldn’t be doing this.” Alex threw in his two cents.

Max bent down and kissed the top of Liz’s head. “I have to.” Before anyone else could stop him, Max walked around the car and climbed in.

“I’m begging you, Michael! Don’t do this!” Maria screamed through her tears.

Michael didn’t want to look at her. He knew couldn’t bear the tears in her eyes, so he just called out to her. “I love you, Maria.”

Kyle Valenti, the sheriff’s son, walked out in front of the two cars, both revving their engines, and held up a bandana. Against the screams and pleas from the crowd, Kyle counted it down and dropped the bandana. Both cars took off flying and disappeared out of sight within seconds. The race was on!

Liz held Maria and Isabel closely, silently praying for both Max and Michael to be ok, but after several minutes neither car had returned. Liz could feel something deep; down in the pit of her stomach…something was wrong. She was about to say something when an ambulance, with sirens blaring, raced past them.

“No.” Liz mumbled under her breath, quickly followed by Maria and Isabel’s screams.

“Michael! Michael!” Maria screamed and then collapsed on the pavement. “I want Michael!” Alex held her tightly as her body rocked violently back and forth.

“They’re fine. I know they’re fine. They have to be fine.” Isabel repeated over and over.

Unfortunately, Liz knew they weren’t. She stood there in stunned silence until Sheriff Valenti approached her a few minutes later. “Ms. Parker…I’m afraid there’s been an accident.”

“What…what happened?” Liz asked with her eyes closed.

“Well, as I’m sure you’re aware, there was a race…Michael Guerin, Max Evans, and Tony Stevens...well I’m sorry to tell you this but not all of them made it.” He said as calmly as he could. “I’ve warned these boys several times about how dangerous this old highway is, but…”

“Sheriff…just tell me the truth.” Liz wasn’t sure how much longer she could hold herself up.

“Well…I’m sorry but Stevens and Guerin were killed on impact, and I just got word that the Evans boy is hurt, but they think he’ll pull through. They’re transferring him to the hospital right now. I’m sorry.” Sheriff Valenti tipped his hat and slowly walked away.

Liz stood there, listening to the sounds of everyone crying around her, but she was still in shock. It had to be a mistake…she just knew it, but as the ambulance passed by her a few minutes later, she knew their lives would never be the same again.


TBC
Last edited by FamersAmers on Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:29 pm, edited 53 times in total.
"You know what?House rules, Sammy. Driver picks music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole." Supernatural

"That Dude just full on obi woned me!" Supernatural

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Post by SAFIRESKYE26 » Mon May 23, 2005 6:50 am

Hello :) Just dropping off the next part. It's kind of short, so this chapter will probably be done in 2 parts! Amy & I both want to thank all of you for the amazing feedback...you've all been amazing! I know Amy would love to thank everyone individually, but unfortunately I'm running out the door. Just know we love you all and thank you so much for taking the time to read this :D On with the story...

CHAPTER 1

10 years later…

Max threw his sunglasses on the dashboard as he climbed out of his SUV. He’d been driving for more than two days straight and it was beginning to wear him down. He’d thought about stopping, but knew if he did it would give him the chance to change his mind. Completely exhausted, he reached for his wallet and grabbed a credit card to pay for his gas. Not too much further he thought to himself as he looked out over the horizon.

Ten years! That’s how long it had been since he’d walked away from his home, his friends, and Liz Parker. He still thought about her every day and always wondered where she’d ended up. Sometimes he thought he could still smell the sweet scent of her hair when he closed his eyes, but instantly he would brush those thoughts aside. Steph had asked him frequently where it was he went in his mind when he seemed to drift away, but then the shame would sink back in and he would dodge the subject at all costs.

Now, as he got closer to the place he once called home, he wished Stephanie was by his side. He’d met her eight years ago and despite all of his shortcomings and moody ways, she’d fallen in love with him. She was sweet, and smart, and sometimes reminded him of a girl he’d known long ago, but he knew it wasn’t fair to compare the two. He loved Steph, with what was left of his heart, which was one of the reasons he’d agreed to come home for his sister’s wedding. Steph was forever asking questions about his family and his past, but for years he’d managed to avoid them. It wasn’t until he’d asked her to marry him that he’d realized he couldn’t have a future with her, at least not the future she deserved, until he faced the demons from his past.

He climbed back into the SUV and reached for his sunglasses, to block out the brutal sun, before pulling back onto the highway. It wasn’t long before he saw a sign for Roswell 30 miles ahead. The knot that had been growing in his stomach over the last few weeks, now felt like a solid boulder. Why had he agreed to come? What was he thinking? What good could come from him showing up and stirring old wounds back to the surface? For a moment he thought about turning around, but he didn’t. He owed this to Michael. Michael he said again in his mind. It may have been ten years, but when he thought about Michael it felt like just yesterday. Michael, his best friend, and his brother in every way that mattered. A part of Max had died with Michael on that hot summer day…a part he didn’t think he’d ever get back.

If only I’d stopped him…if only I’d taken his keys…if only it had been me that died. His entire world had become those questions…if only.

The sun was setting as Max finally pulled onto the main street that ran through Roswell, with the Crashdown Café immediately coming into sight. Max had to laugh as he thought back to the endless hours he’d spent there during his teenage years. He and Michael had always loved to torture Liz and Maria because of the ridiculous outfits they were forced to wear. Liz would always smile and laugh as she walked away, but Maria usually ended up dumping something in Michael’s lap as payback before she’d leave their booth. Those were the best times of his life! He’d spent countless hours there, watching Liz as she took people’s orders, always tucking her hair behind her ears. Max couldn’t help but think every single move she made was done so gracefully, and so perfectly. He’d loved Liz Parker since they were children, but she’d never given him the time of day. In all honesty, he’d never mustered up enough courage to ask her out, but she’d made it clear that she would never date a pretty boy from the swanky side of town.

Michael and Maria had been another story. From the instant Michael had laid his eyes on Maria Deluca, sparks had flown! He’d always known he had to have her, and he’d never stopped trying until she was his. Their relationship was unique to say the least, but when no one was watching you could catch a glance of how much they truly adored each other. They were both feisty, and tough, and basically molded to fit one another, because there wasn’t another soul in town that could’ve put up with either one of them. Finally, after a year together, with all of them constantly hanging out, Maria had made it her mission to get Liz and Max together. Fortunately for Max…Liz had finally caved.

They were all in the prime of their lives; happy and carefree, never for a second thinking it could all come to a shattering end. Max absently wiped away a tear from his cheek when he remembered waking up in the hospital a few days after the accident. His family had been there, but Sheriff Valenti had been the one to break the news. That single moment was forever burned into his brain, and nothing…nothing could ever take that away.

Max passed through the heart of town and drove toward the cemetery where Michael was buried. He pulled into the grassy lawn that was the parking lot, and willed himself to get out. He knew exactly where Michael was buried, but he hadn’t been there in ten years. He’d stayed there for three days once he’d been released from the hospital, not wanting to leave Michael for a second. His family had begged him to come home, and Liz had tried to convince him to get some rest, but he wouldn’t leave Michael…he couldn’t. Finally, after he’d cried all the tears he had in him, and apologized over and over for not saving Michael’s life, he’d gone home. He tried to stay there for a few days, but he was no longer the boy he’d been, and no one could break the cast iron shield he’d built around him. In the middle of the night he’d packed his bags, written Isabel a letter, and walked away from everything.

But now here he was again. Slowly, he climbed out of his truck and walked through the darkness to find his best friend. He found him effortlessly, like a map was programmed in his mind, and then he sat down. For several minutes he was silent, trying to figure out what he wanted to say, but nothing seemed like enough. He knew he could sit there for hours and still not find the words he was looking for, so he just started talking.

“Hey, Michael, it’s been a while. Ten years actually…you’d think I would’ve at least come back to visit you, but the truth seems to be that I didn’t want to. I just didn’t know how to face this…to face you. I know what you’re thinking, “Be a man Maxwell” but I just couldn’t. I know I owed you a helluva lot more, but I just couldn’t face all the looks, and the comments coming from people I’d known my whole life.” Max shifted his weight to get more comfortable before continuing. He figured he’d probably be here for a little while.

“Maria resented me for surviving, Liz resented me for getting in the car in the first place, but most of all…I resented myself.” Max hadn’t admitted that out loud in ten years, but even now it stung to say the words. “I did nothing, Michael. I didn’t take your keys, I didn’t make you get out of the car, but instead I got in the car with you. We always said Bro’s before ho’s so I knew I had to back you up. I knew if you were gonna go through with it, I had to do it with you.” Max wiped a stray tear off his cheek with his sleeve, still trying desperately to hold himself together.

“Well, we did it together and look where our stupidity got us…you’re here in the ground and I ran away from my family and friends…everything. It’s funny…I never would’ve thought I’d be the one to run. That was always something you did…not me, but after you died I couldn’t face being Max Evans here in Roswell anymore. I feel ridiculous…I don’t even know if you can hear me right now.”

Max stopped talking and pondered the question…could Michael here him, because he’d always been able to hear Michael? Most of Max’s nights were sleepless, constantly haunted by memories. Memories of Michael, memories of his friends, memories of the family he’d left behind, and memories of Liz. Many times he’d woken up screaming and thankfully Stephanie would hold him until he went back to sleep. But out of everyone, Michael haunted him the most. He was always telling Max what he was doing was wrong, and that what he had done was wrong.

“You know I moved to Florida when I left Roswell…thought I’d bum around in the Florida Keys for awhile so I wouldn’t have to face anything. It’s true what they say about it there…no worries. No one really cares enough to ask you what’s wrong, so it was an easy place to escape to. Unfortunately, you were still able to find me there so hiding really didn’t work out too well. After two years of wandering around aimlessly, I headed north toward Orlando. I thought I could lose myself among all of the tourists, but it didn’t quite work out that way. I was looking for work and met a guy that gave me a steady job. He owned his own Electrical company, so he took me on as an apprentice to help him out. It wasn’t anything like I’d thought I’d end up doing that’s for sure, but I was good at it. Bill, that’s the guy’s name, kept pushing for me to go to night school, so I finally did. It took a few years, but I got my license and I actually enjoy doing it. I worked on the Hard Rock Café, which was pretty cool…the city’s booming, so I’ve always had work.”

“Guess I should tell you…I met someone. One night after work I walked around City Walk, basically just a bunch of clubs and bars, and I was about to leave when I saw her across the room. She was talking and laughing with her friends,” Max laughed out loud at the memory, “and she looked so…carefree. She was beautiful, but what I noticed first was her smile. It seemed to light up the whole room. It took me a few minutes, but I walked over and asked if I could buy her a drink. We started talking and had to finally be kicked out at closing time. I gave her a ride home since all of her friends had left hours earlier, and we just sat in my car and talked all night. It was the first time in years that something felt easy, so we started dating.” Max smiled as he thought about how easy it had been to be with her. She was so easy going and sometimes, although he never admitted it, she reminded him of Liz.

“Don’t know why I’m so nervous telling you about this, but we’re getting married. I know what you’re probably thinking…me married to someone other than Liz Parker? That’s just not possible! I thought that at first too, but somehow being with Steph seemed to heal me. She was like a bandage for all my emotional wounds, Michael. She’s funny and smart, extremely beautiful, and for some crazy reason she loves me with everything she has despite my faults. Everything was perfect until she started asking me more and more questions about my past. She wants to know everything about me…my parents, my friends, where I grew up, who my first girlfriend was,” Max paused for a moment, “who my best friend is. What am I supposed to tell her? I ran away from home after getting my best friend killed, I don’t talk to my family unless it’s an emergency, I haven’t been home in ten years, and the first girl I ever loved is my soul mate? How do you tell the woman you love things like that?”

Max sighed, realizing he didn’t want to tell her those things. “Michael, I really wish you were here. You always knew the right thing to say to me, even if you did blow it with the ladies.” Max chuckled. “I know you would tell me what to do, or tell me I’m being an idiot…either way, I just really wish you were here.” He said sadly.

Max looked down at his watch and realized he couldn’t hide here forever. It was getting late and he knew he needed to see his family. Unfortunately, he didn’t feel like they were his family anymore. He’d been gone for ten years and they’d gone on without him. Slowly, Max stood up and placed a hand on the headstone. “I love you, man…always.” His fingers lingered there for a short time, and then he turned and walked out of the cemetery. He knew he would be back soon…he still had more to say.

Max took his time driving through Roswell on the way to his parent’s house. Nothing in Roswell had changed at all. It was exactly the way he’d left it as though time had stopped, but he knew it hadn’t. Life had gone on without him, and now he was a stranger in the town he’d grown up in. Max finally pulled up outside his parent’s house and parked. He hadn’t been home in over ten years, but it still looked the same, at least on the outside. He stepped out of his truck and made his way to the front door. Standing there again seemed so surreal…he was finally home.


TBC
Last edited by SAFIRESKYE26 on Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Post by SAFIRESKYE26 » Mon Jun 06, 2005 2:59 pm

Hello everyone :D We're so sorry it has taken us so long to post another chapter but RL has been kicking both our butts :| Hopefully everything will calm down soon and we'll be able to post more regularly! Thank you for all of your feedback and for your patience!

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If I messed up the order I'm so sorry...Amy is so much better at this than I am :lol: On with the story...


CHAPTER 2

Room 45 was bustling with papers, books, and twenty anxious students ready to get out of class for the day. Liz glanced quickly at the clock before turning her attention back toward her class.

“C’mon, Miss P! It’s like 2:40 and I’m hungry. Can’t we go yet?”

“Now, Mr. Miller…I know its 2:40, but we haven’t finished this chapter yet. Then again…if you don’t want to finish it here, I’m sure it would make a great homework assignment on top of the one you already have.”

Jake Miller threw his hands up in defeat and then winked at Liz. “And I thought you were cool. You know, it’s sad that all you teachers are robbing us of our adolescence.”

“Cool, Mr. Miller, is highly overrated. Think of it this way…you can stay in school and learn something great from all of these teachers who are robbing you, or you can learn nothing, go race your cars, and work at McDonalds for the rest of your life…your choice.” She winked back at him and watched as he sunk down into his chair. “Now, let’s finish the last part of this chapter so we can all go home.”

Liz’s senior English class finally finished the chapter just in time for the bell to ring. Instantly, students were headed for the door but they all came to a screeching halt at the sound of Liz’s voice. “WAIT!” Lucky for Liz, they all understood that when Miss Parker said wait…she meant wait.

When Liz was certain she had their attention, she started to speak. “I want you to finish your reading of “Things Fall Apart”, and remember that your book reviews are due the 31st! Also, don’t forget to read T.S. Elliot and be ready to discuss it in class on Monday. Have a safe weekend.” Liz sat on her desk and smiled as she watched her students pile out of the classroom.

“Bye, Miss. P, and for the record…you can still be cool!” Jake Miller winked again and threw her a ‘thumbs up’ before rushing out the door.

Liz smiled, despite herself, and then sat down in her chair. Finally off her feet, she stretched and let out a long breath. Sometimes, her students drove her crazy! They were all good kids for the most part, but they had their moments and their days.

Right now, Liz was just thankful it was Friday. That meant she had the whole weekend to just relax before returning to a crowded classroom of cranky students. Who did she think she was kidding? She wasn’t going to have time to relax! Her weekend was completely booked with a dress fitting, a meeting with the cake maker, and a lunch date with Isabel and Alex. As if that wasn’t enough, she had to call Maria to confirm what time she would be arriving next weekend, stop by the cemetery, and somehow manage to spend some quality time with Kyle. Nope…she was not going to be relaxing this weekend!

Liz looked down at her watch and realized she couldn’t hide out in her classroom any longer…life was waiting. She reached into her desk, grabbed her purse, her cars keys, and then headed home for the weekend. She’d decided to take the long way home so she could stop by the cemetery tonight. No one, not even Kyle, knew how often she went to visit Michael’s grave. She’d thought about telling Kyle several times, but he could barely talk about the past, much less revisit it. For Liz, it was her time to think.

She pulled onto the narrow driveway that led to Michael’s grave, and watched as a truck with Florida plates pulled out. For one brief moment she would’ve sworn she saw Max, but it was just her eyes playing tricks on her again. They did that a lot. Over the last ten years she’d seen Max at least once a day, everyday, no matter where she went. Sooner or later she knew she was going to have to let that fantasy go. Max was gone and after ten years, it was time for her to accept it.

She parked in the familiar spot, and walked the short distance to where she’d spent so much time. She sat down on the grass and let her fingers trace the letters on the headstone.

“Hey, Michael.” She took in a deep breath and released it as she started her usual conversation with Michael. “It’s me again…Liz, time for my weekly visit. So, any new visitors this week? You know, one day I’m going to ask you that and somehow you’re going to show me a sign.” She laughed at herself, and kept running her fingers over the letters, still tracing them carefully.

“Nothing new to report really…Miller gave me hard time again this week. That kid! He reminds me so much of you, which is probably the only reason I haven’t strangled him yet! He has so much spirit, and he’s so…wild…there are just too many similarities between the two of you to even mention. I guess that’s why he’s one of my favorites.” A stray tear ran down her cheek as she thought back to their teenage years. She often cried when she came here but tonight she wasn’t going to let herself. There was a lot she wanted to tell Michael, so she brushed away the tear and continued on.

“Did I tell you I think Kyle is going to ask me to marry him? Yeah, he’s been hinting around to it a lot lately, and the other night he asked what my idea of a perfect proposal was. In my mind, I told him all about the fantasy I’d been dreaming about for years. You know…the trip to White Sands, sitting on a blanket under the stars and having a picnic. Then, I said I want to dance beneath those stars, while Tony Curtis sings “The Way You Look Tonight” on the radio. I even told him I want my ring in a chocolate box.” She laughed. “But you of all people know that’s my Max proposal, so obviously I couldn’t really tell him. Instead, I told him that dinner, dancing, and the ring was enough for me. The truth is though…I don’t think I could ever tell him yes without seeing Max first. I know it’s crazy, and that I should let go, but I just can’t.” Liz sat there picking the grass, and looking up into the cemetery.

“Do you ever wonder what would’ve happened if you hadn’t gotten in the car that day? I mean if those guys had never shown up.” Liz couldn’t stop the tears this time, so they began to stream down her face.

“Do you ever wonder how different it would’ve been if I hadn’t begged Max to go to the lake with me that day, and if Maria hadn’t begged you to go too? What if we had just stayed at the diner like you had wanted? I do…I think about those things every day. It still hurts like it was yesterday…losing you and then blaming Max for everything that had happened. We were all grieving, him more than anyone, but instead of being there for him…I pushed him away. I can still see the expression on his face the last time I saw him. I told him he killed you and it was all his fault. I remember he tried to wrap his arms around me, but I jerked away…I don’t think I’d ever seen him more devastated. If only…” She wiped the tears from under her eyes.

“That’s what we did…all of us. We blamed Max for your death. Whether we were saying to his face or even the looks we gave him…he knew we blamed him. It was easier that way…if we blamed him then we didn’t have to blame ourselves. You see, if I blamed him for not listening to me, or not taking your keys, or for getting in that damn car with you, then I could take the blame away from myself and from you. After all, you can’t blame the dead guy, and to blame myself was to admit I had a part in it.” Her tears were falling faster now, and her shoulders were beginning to shake.

“The truth is…I blamed him because I knew in a way I was just as responsible. I’m the one who begged the both of you to go to the lake that day, and I knew what was going on. I didn’t take your keys away from you. I didn’t stand in front of the cars to try and stop you. I didn’t do anything. Like everyone else, I just stood there and expected Max to fix everything. I may not agree with Max for getting in the car with you, but at least he wasn’t going to let you do it alone. God…I wish things were different. My life doesn’t even resemble the life I thought I’d have. I wonder what life would’ve been like if one of us had stopped you and Max from getting in that car? Would we all be married? Would we have the two kids we’d always talked about? Would you still be alive? If Only…I think my life is full of those.” She wiped away her tears and rubbed her hand under her nose.

“Michael, why can’t you just tell me? Why can’t you just give me a sign? Why can’t you bring all of us back together? Why can’t you?” Liz hadn’t realized she’d been shouting until a bird in a nearby tree flew away quickly.

“I’m sorry, Michael. I know why you can’t help me…it isn’t your job to do…it’s ours.” She looked at the setting sun off in the distance and knew she’d been there for quite a while. Liz glanced at her watch and gasped when she saw how late it actually was.

“Oh shit! Kyle will be home in thirty minutes and I haven’t even been to Isabel’s to get our dresses for the fitting. Weddings, especially Isabel’s, could drive even the sanest persons crazy! It’s a good thing she’s marrying Alex, otherwise I would’ve declined all Maid of Honor privileges!” She laughed, knowing if Michael were there with her he’d be laughing too.

“I love you, and I promise I’ll be back soon.” Liz put her fingers up to her lips and then touched them gently on the headstone.

Liz stood up, dusted herself off, and headed for her car. She turned the key in the ignition just as her cell phone started ringing. She looked at the caller ID and saw the familiar name: Maria. She smiled and flipped the phone open. “What’s up, Maria?”

“Not much. Same shit, different day! How you holding up? Have you killed the bride-to-be yet?”

“Not yet, but ask me again after this weekend. When are you gonna be here?” There was a pause on the other end of the line before Maria answered her.

“Sorry, Liz…my manager is waiting for me so I gotta run. I’ll call you back later tonight. Love ya, honey!”

Liz heard the click on the other end of the line as Maria hung up. “Sure, Maria.” Liz set her phone back down on the passenger seat and drove out of the cemetery. She headed toward the Evans’ house with the sun sinking in the sky behind her.


TBC

Sorry it's so short...we promise the upcoming chapters will be longer :D
Last edited by SAFIRESKYE26 on Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by FamersAmers » Sat Jun 18, 2005 12:58 pm

Hey all.. it is Amy! I am posting for there are Thunderstorms in Orlando today! And here there are Earthquakes...California is just a rockin and a rolling...hmmm i shouldnt have moved on a fault line! :roll: Anyway..Thanks so much for the feedback..you all are awesome! And all you Lurkers...we know you are there too! Jazzy... my love goes out to you!

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CHAPTER 3

“I can’t believe you wore that shirt to meet with our realtor!” Isabel walked through the front door and slammed her purse and keys down on the small table in their foyer.

Alex looked down at his shirt and then back to his fiancé. “Why? What’s wrong with it?”

Isabel took a deep breath while massaging her temples before responding. “Alex,” she started calmly, but looking at the shirt again made her even more furious, “It says Trojans on it!”

Alex still didn’t understand the problem. “So what…it’s not like I’m advertising condoms. It’s the first shirt I bought when we went away to school. I love this shirt…it’s finally broken in.” He said cheerfully.

“But, Alex, its old and worn out…and disgusting.” Isabel swore to herself that the moment they were married, she would find a place to bury that stupid t-shirt!

“You know…only a woman would see it that way.” He pouted. “It’s from USC…it’s important to me.”

Ok…I’ll try reasoning with him. “Alex, how do I look?”

Alex looked her up and down, and then smiled. “Good enough to eat.” He teased, moving closer to her and kissing her neck.

“Could we be serious for one second?” She asked as she pulled away.

“Fine.” Alex said reluctantly. “You look beautiful, Iz.” She really did. No matter how many times he looked at Isabel, it was always the same. She was always beautiful. Unfortunately, he knew her well enough to know that wasn’t what she was asking. She was dressed in a royal blue sundress she’d bought a few weeks back. The color looked amazing on her! “And I see what you mean…you look very nice for the occasion.”

“Exactly!” Isabel remarked triumphantly. “I wanted to look nice when we met with out realtor.”

Alex pulled her close again. “Well, you looked fabulous! Haven’t you realized yet that they never pay attention to the man? We’re just along for the ride.”

Isabel sighed and let herself relax into the comfort of Alex’s embrace. “I just don’t understand why that shirt is so important to you.”

Alex smiled and pulled back enough to meet her eyes. “Because…I bought this shirt when we went away to college and fell in love. Everything was so awful back then, but we were still able to find happiness with each other. That’s why I never want to let go of this shirt…it’s a memory.”

Isabel almost cried at his admission. Never for a moment would she have associated herself with the importance of that shirt. “Oh, Alex…I knew there was a good reason I wanted to marry you.” She leaned forward and gently brushed her lips against Alex’s. It only took a moment for the kiss to deepen into something more passionate, but Isabel knew they didn’t have time for this right now. Slowly, she pulled away causing Alex to grunt. “Trust me…I know, but we have to be at my parent’s house in just a few minutes. Rain check?”

“Of course…just remember this is one rain check you’re not getting out of.” He winked at her and reached for the car keys. “I’ll drive.”

“Sweetie, aren’t you forgetting something?”

“What?” Alex said with a questioning look.

“The shirt?”

“But I thought after what I just told you…”

Isabel looked at her watch and interrupted him. “What you said was extremely sweet and it’s the only thing that will keep me from burning the shirt, but I still don’t want you to wear it out in public.”

Realizing he wasn’t going to win this one, he gave up. “Alright, I’ll go change…but I’d really like my balls back sometime soon.” He retreated into their bedroom to find something more appropriate to wear.

“Oh…I guess I forgot to mention that part. Once you ask a woman to marry you, you give up all rights to have testicles unless it’s for reproductive purposes.” She teased.

Alex came out a couple of minutes later wearing jeans and a black buttoned down shirt. “I never agreed to that so you’d better find it in writing somewhere.” He said smiling. “Is this better?”

“Much.” She took his hand and led him out the front door. It was after seven, so they were already an hour late.

~*~*~*~*~

Max just didn’t feel comfortable walking into the house without knocking. Too many years had passed…this wasn’t his home anymore. He raised a hand and knocked before he could talk himself out of this. Ten years had been long enough.

Diane was exhausted. She’d been running around all day trying to finish the list of things to do that Isabel had given her. She’d just put her feet up to relax when she heard the knock on the door. Isabel! Slowly, she stood up and went to the front door. Isabel had never knocked on this door in her entire life, and she picked tonight, of all nights, to be formal! She reached for the knob and was already complaining even as she opened the door. “Isabel, I’m so exhausted! Why did…?” Diane gasped and raised both hands to her face. She had to be dreaming!

Max smiled. Some things never change! “I guess Isabel’s driving you crazy with wedding plans…hi, Mom.”

Diane lowered her hands and blinked several times just to make sure her eyes weren’t playing tricks on her. “Max?”

Max had known this would be difficult, but suddenly he felt like a kid again. He wanted to fall into his mother’s arms and hear her say everything would be ok. “It’s me, Mom…I’m really here.”

“Oh my God! All my prayers have been answered!” She grabbed Max by the hand and pulled him through the doorway. “My baby’s home! Thank God! My baby’s home!” Diane pulled him close and cried through her screams. “I can’t believe this! I’ve waited so long,” she pulled back a little and took a long look at him, “you look so handsome, Max. I always knew you would.” She leaned her head against his chest again, and continued to sob.

Phillip had heard the commotion and was trotting down the stairs. “Diane? What in God’s name is going on down here?” He reached the bottom of the stairs as the last word left his lips. Now he saw what had Diane in such a frenzy. “Max?” He stepped forward and looked at his son. “Is it really you?”

Max shook his head and smiled. “Yeah, Dad…it’s me.”

Phillip crossed the distance between them in an instant, and hugged his son tightly. “It’s really you! Do you know how long I’ve waited for this moment? My son is home!” He called out in pure joy.

Max held on to his father, and then his mother wrapped her arms around them both. “It feels so good to be home.” Max whispered. Then he pulled away from them so that he could look at them. They looked slightly older, but in so many ways they looked the same. They looked like home. “I know I should’ve come back years ago…I just couldn’t.” He lowered his head, unable to meet their eyes. “I’ve made so many mistakes, but I just couldn’t face…”

Phillip smiled and threw his arms in the air. “Enough. We can talk about all of that later. For now I just want to look at my son, and hear what you’ve been doing in Florida.

Diane and Phillip both smiled and led Max into the family room. They had so much to catch up on, and they weren’t about to lose one precious moment. The three of them sat and talked for a while. Max told them about Florida and the career he’d started…then he told them about Stephanie.

“Sounds like you’ve done well for yourself, son. I’m so happy for you. So, this Stephanie…do you love her?” Phillip didn’t see a sparkle in Max’s eyes when he talked about the young woman, which convinced Phillip Evans his son was settling for less than he really wanted.

Max felt a little uncomfortable talking about Steph, but his parent’s questions were understandable. “Well yeah…I love her. She’s an amazing woman. She’s smart and beautiful…and she has such a big heart. She’s been there for me when I needed someone.”

“All of those things sound wonderful, Max, but I still can’t shake the feeling that she’s just a friend and you’ve built her into more. I understand you love her, but are you in love with her?” Phillip continued to prod.

“Dad, I…” Max didn’t really know how to answer, but for now he wouldn’t have to.

“Mom! Dad! We’re finally here. I’m so sorry we’re late, but you know how it goes. Our meeting with the realtor went a lot longer than we expected it to.” Isabel and Alex finally made their way toward the family room. “Mom, are you even listening?”

Isabel stopped dead in her tracks the moment she saw her brother. Tears started to pour from her eyes before she could even manage to speak.

Max stood up and walked to his sister with tears in his eyes. “It’s me, Isabel…I’m home.”

“You’re home.” It wasn’t a question, but instead her way to process the fact that he was standing before her. She paused for a minute, and then launched herself into Max’s arms. “Max! I’ve missed you so much! I can’t believe you’re here!”

“I’ve missed you too, Iz.” Max looked over Isabel’s shoulder and saw Alex standing there completely stunned. He kissed Isabel’s cheek and slowly pulled away. “Hey, Alex. I hear you’re finally going to be a member of the family.” He teased.

Alex stared at Max in disbelief, and then finally smiled. “Max…you have no idea how glad I am to see you.” He reached a hand out to shake Max’s, but Max pulled him into a bear hug.

“No formalities, man…we’re about to be brothers.” Max had always liked Alex, and everyone had always known he was in love with Isabel…Max was just happy to see that they were together after all these years.


“It’s just really good to see you.” Alex said before Isabel pulled him back toward her.

“So why now?” Isabel questioned. “After all of these years, why would you come home now?”

“The last time we talked you said you were getting married. Do you really think I could miss my sister’s wedding?”

“Thank you.” Isabel whispered and hugged him again.

Everyone took a seat and chatted about anything and everything they could think of. There was no anger, only love.

~*~*~*~*~

Liz pulled up behind the SUV in front of the Evans’ house. She didn’t recognize it, but noticed it had Florida plates. She didn’t know who lived in Florida, or if the owner of the truck was even visiting the Evans. She tucked her purse under the seat, not wanting to have to carry it around, and grabbed her cell phone. She climbed out of her car and made her way toward the door next to the kitchen.

She walked around to the side of the house, glancing back at the truck one more time. As she approached the door, something about the truck kept bugging her. It looked familiar somehow, and that’s when it hit her. She was positive it was the same truck she’d seen leaving the cemetery earlier. She’d never heard anyone speak of family in Florida, and why would this person have been at the cemetery also? Suddenly, she got a nervous feeling in the pit of her stomach. She wasn’t sure what was causing it, but she didn’t particularly enjoy the feeling.

Liz slowed her pace and walked up the first couple of stairs. She wasn’t sure whether or not she should knock. She’d never knocked before because Phillip and Diane had always told her knocking was for guests. They’d said it was for unknown people, but Liz was not unknown. In fact, after Max had left she’d become a permanent fixture in this house.

She glanced at her watch and realized how late she was. She didn’t have time to stall, so she placed her hand on the doorknob and turned. She felt uneasy and afraid. Why was she so afraid? Finally, she decided to just walk in. As she turned the knob and started to push the door open, it creaked.

Philip heard the door creak, and looked around the house. Everyone who would’ve just walked in was already here. Liz, he realized, was the only one not here. “Excuse me for a moment.” They all looked at him and he signaled for Isabel to come with him. She stood up and followed her father into the kitchen just as Liz was walking in.

“Hey, guys.” Liz looked at the both of them, and realized by the look on their faces that she should’ve knocked. “I’m so sorry. I knew I should’ve knocked.”

Philip smiled at her and Isabel laughed. “You knock? Hmmm, nice thought!” Philip joked. Liz looked at him with a hurt expression on her face. “Sweetheart, I’m kidding. You know you’re family. Mi casa y su casa. Remember?”

“If it’s not a good time I could always come back.” Liz said quickly, but they both shook their heads. “Do you have company? There’s a truck out front that I didn’t recognize.” Liz watched as they exchanged worried glances, which made her nervous. “What?” Liz asked. The nervous feeling had returned, making her want to leave. “Iz, I need all of our dresses for the fitting…mine, yours, and Maria’s.”

“Yeah…umm…they’re in the living room. I’ll go get them.”

Isabel hurried out of the kitchen, while Phillip tried to distract Liz. He knew she didn’t need to see Max, and he was pretty sure Max wasn’t prepared to see her either.

As Isabel rushed back into the family room, her mother, Max, and Alex looked at her.

“Sweetie, who was at the door?”

Isabel wasn’t sure what to say. She couldn’t answer her mother in front of Max. “The girl picking up the dresses for the fittings.”

Alex and Diane looked at her funny, and without thinking Alex spoke up. “Wait, I thought Liz was doing that.” The expression on Isabel’s face told them all who was in the kitchen. Alex realized he’d stuck his foot in his mouth and made a mental note to kick himself.

“Yeah…umm…I really need to get these to her.” Isabel went to the closet and retrieved the dresses.

Max watched as Alex, his mom, and Isabel tried desperately to avoid the situation, and then his mom immediately changed the subject.

“Well, Max…your room is just as you left it, so as soon as you get tired you can head up for bed. We have plenty of time to finish catching up once you’ve rested. I know the trip was long and you look tired.” Diane rambled on.

Max was listening to his mother, and yet his thoughts remained on Liz. He wondered if her hair was still the same, if she smelled the same, and if she was happy. A million thoughts were racing through his mind, and he realized he needed to know. He needed to see her. He stood up and started toward the kitchen.

“Max, where are you going?” Isabel asked when she saw him stand up.

“I’m going to go and say hello.” He walked toward the kitchen, and when he reached the door he saw his father and Liz engaged in a conversation. God she was still beautiful! Her hair was still long, and after all of these years, her features had not changed. He rounded the corner and walked into the kitchen. The moment he came into view, Liz was so startled that she dropped her cell phone and her keys on the kitchen floor. She looked as though she’d seen a ghost. “Liz.”

“Max?”


TBC
Last edited by FamersAmers on Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by SAFIRESKYE26 » Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:15 pm

WE'RE POSTING :!: Sorry, just had to get that out really quick :) We both know it's been a while since we posted last, but unfortunately Amy & I are not only sharing a brain (scary :wink: ) we're sharing the same illnesses despite the 3000 miles between us! Hopefully (yes I say this a lot) things will start to calm down soon!

Amy & I would like to wish Steph a Happy (belated) Birthday! We love you! *Muah*

Also, icequeen, we've thought about you constantly this week and our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Finally, Melyssa...wait...that's about me. She has a note for me and I'm posting :lol: Freakin' dork :wink: It's all the drugs she's on I'm tellin ya :lol: Hello, Mr. Vicodin :lol:

Thanks to all of our feedbackers...thank you for reading and taking the time to post :)

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On with the chapter...

CHAPTER 4

They stared at each other for a long moment, both in shock. It might’ve been ten years, but in that moment, it felt as though no time had passed. Finally, Liz broke the stare and bent down to pick up the things she’d dropped. Quickly, Max bent down next to her to help. He reached for her keys and held them out for her to take. As he passed her the keys their fingers touched, causing Liz to jump back as if she’d been burned. She’d waited years for this moment, but now she just sat there…silent and shocked.

“Nice to see you two still electrify each other.” Max turned to see Alex smiling widely.

Max could tell by the look on Alex’s face that he was all for this reunion. He turned back to Liz in time to see the panicked look cover her face, and knew she wasn’t going to stick around much longer.

“I’m sorry…I have to get out of here.” Liz insisted as she stood up and tried to steady her knees. Isabel handed her the dresses and sent her a sympathetic smile. She and Isabel had talked about Max on many occasions, so she knew Isabel truly understood her reaction. Liz took the dresses, took one last look at Max, and bolted out the door. She’d waited years for that moment, but she wasn’t prepared to deal with it right now.

After Liz had run out in such a hurry, everyone just stood there looking at each other. They all knew how hard running into Max had been for her, but secretly they’d all prayed it would go better.

“Was it something I said?” Alex asked in an attempt at humor. Isabel rolled her eyes, and slapped him on the arm.

Isabel watched the glances pass back and forth between her dad and Max, and figured they might want to talk, so she turned to her mother. “Mom, I’ve got some last minute details that need to be worked out…would you mind helping me?”

Diane could see what her daughter was trying to do, and truth be told, she didn’t really want to stick around for this. She smiled at Isabel and placed an arm around her waist. “Of course, honey…I’m sure if we work together we can get everything taken care of much faster.” Diane quickly followed Isabel out of the room leaving Philip, Alex, and Max standing there.

The men stood there in silence for a minute, all of them waiting for someone else to speak up first. Finally, Max broke the silence.

“She still looks the same.” Max said quietly. “She’s still beautiful.” It was all he could manage.

Philip smiled when he saw the spark in his son’s eyes. Even after all of these years, her effect on Max was still the same. That youthful innocence that made Max go weak in the knees, and made his stomach do summersaults. Seeing that spark in both of them again pleased Phillip to no end. Philip reached out and put his hand on his son’s shoulders for moral support.

“She just walked out, Dad.” Max mumbled.

Phillip could hear it in his son’s voice…Max had meant it as more of a question. “She was just upset, Max. She didn’t know you were coming home, so I’m sure she was in shock…give her some time, she’ll come around.”

Max smiled at his father, appreciating the reassurance. “I think I’m going to get some air. You know…let it all sink in.”

Phillip and Alex watched as Max crossed the kitchen and went out the back door. They knew he would be all right, but they understood that seeing Liz and coming face to face with his past was something that would drain any one of them.

Forty-five minutes later, Diane and Phillip were sitting at the kitchen table with Alex and Isabel, waiting for Max to come back inside. It was obvious he needed some space, but they were eager for him to know they were here for him when he was ready to talk about it.

Alex looked out the window again to see Max sitting on the hammock in the backyard. Everyone was so happy to have him home again, so they’d all forgotten one important detail.

As if reading his mind, Isabel spoke up. “Do you think one of us should say something about Kyle?” Isabel asked. “After all, he is going to see them together on Saturday, and I haven’t exactly told Liz that Max will be escorting her to the wedding.”

“Yeah, but we haven’t even asked Max if he’ll even be in the wedding.” Alex loved Isabel, but sometimes she made up peoples’ minds for them. “And, Isabel…if he says no, we’re not going to push it.” He stated firmly.

“But this is my wedding.” Isabel whined. She was about to start her protest speech when Alex glared at her.

“NO. What he says goes.” Alex stood up from the table and kissed his pouting fiancés’ cheek. “I’m gonna see if he needs anything.” Alex left them all to talk and slowly made his way outside.

Max was still sitting on the hammock, looking up at the stars when Alex came up beside him. “This seat taken?”

Max smiled at his old friend. “It is now.”

Alex slowly sat down and looked at Max. “Are you ok? I know seeing Liz tonight must’ve brought back a lot of memories.”

“Memories I’m sure we’ve all tried to bury.” Max admitted.

“Not all of us, Max.” It was still so hard for Alex to talk about it, but it was time. “Liz came to me and told me about the fight you’d had…she told me everything. I didn’t really know what to think, and then you left. We were all hurting badly, so Isabel, Liz, Maria, and I clung to each other…we didn’t know how else to get through. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Maria couldn’t handle being here anymore surrounded by the constant memories, so she took off for LA to make a name for herself in music.” Alex chuckled. “You know Maria, so you know it worked.”

“That’s right…Maria Guerin. I heard her on the radio one day and told Stephanie ‘I know her. We’re friends’…at least we were friends.” Max said sadly.

Alex realized in all the years Max had been gone; he’d been excluded from the most important friendships he’d ever known. “Max, do you think you and I are still friends?”

Max looked at Alex, but closed his eyes. “I hoped we would be, but I wouldn’t blame you if we aren’t. I ran away from you all, Alex. I abandoned my friends when you needed me the most.”

Alex shook his head. It was just like Max to try and take all the blame. “We abandoned you, Max…we left you. Yes, Max…we’re your friends. I’m still your friend, and you need to hear that. You need to know that I don’t blame you, Max. I learned a long time ago that it was no one’s fault that day. It was a stupid mistake, and we were all there. We could’ve stopped it too, but none of us did. You were the only one that made it out alive, Max. The police report could never fully conclude what had happened, but you were there, you were the only one to walk away. You know what happened, Max…tell me.”

Max could see the need in Alex’s eyes to finally hear the truth. He drew in a deep breath, and prepared himself to talk about the one thing he’d been running from for over ten years. “Ok,” Max agreed, “You already know what happened up to the minute we got into the car.” He saw Alex nod, and then continued. “I want you to know that I did try to stop Michael from racing that day…I know a lot of people think I could’ve tried harder, but you know what Michael was like once he made up his mind.” Max thought back to that day and saw it so clearly in his mind. “When I realized I couldn’t stop him I figured I could at least be there for him, so I got in the car too. I could feel a lump in my chest the moment he started the engine, and I was worried that something might go wrong, but I just wouldn’t let him down. Michael’s pride was all he had.”

“True.” Alex mumbled as he brought the day back into his mind. Michael was stubborn and full of pride…it would’ve been a miracle if someone were able to change his mind.

“Kyle Valenti was standing in front of both cars waving that makeshift flag of his, and the second he dropped it…Michael gunned it. The last thing I really remember was heading for the curve and Tony bumping Michael’s car…they both lost control and started to spin…”

“Then what happened?” Alex knew Max had just explained the crash to him, but he felt like there was something more.

“That’s it really.” Max ran a hand through his hair and leaned back in the hammock again. “When I woke up in the hospital a few days later everything was a blur. At first, I couldn’t figure out where I was and where Michael was…everyone else was there, and that’s when Sheriff Valenti told me what happened. It didn’t seem real, but when it finally started to sink in I cried for what seemed like forever. Nothing seemed fair…I was the only one who survived and that made it hurt worse.”

Alex took in a deep breath now and let it out. He’d always known there had been a crash, but he never imagined what it might be like to be the soul survivor. “Max…I’m really sorry you had to go through that. The accident was bad enough, but to…” He couldn’t say it, but from the look in Max’s eyes, he’d known where Alex was going with it.

“Trust me…I know. When they released me from the hospital I felt like I was under a microscope. I could see the anger so evident in their eyes…it was like I shouldn’t have been there. Like I should’ve been in the ground too. Then, there were the other people that looked at me with pity. There goes poor Max Evans. He survived. I felt like I was suffocating. I remember going over to Maria’s house, but she wouldn’t see me.” Max could feel the sting of the tears in his eyes. “Her mom said it was just too hard for her. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, every time I was near Liz she would pull away from me…that’s when I started to realize that everyone blamed me.”

“Not everyone blamed you.” Alex said in his own defense.

Max appreciated Alex’s support, but he knew he had to get this out now or he never would. “I went to the cemetery that night after leaving Maria’s. I needed to talk to Michael and tell him how sorry I was. I told him I didn’t think it was fair that I survived and he didn’t.” Max zoned out a little remembering what he had said.

“Hey, Michael. Wow, this is even harder than I thought it would be. You have no idea what it does to me to be here. I can’t stand knowing that you’re in the ground and yet here I am…still alive. I needed to come here and apologize to you. You were my best friend in the whole world, and I have to apologize to you because I killed you. I never should’ve let you race that day…I never should’ve gotten into the car with you, but I did. I got into a car with you and I let you do something that was stupid and irresponsible…but I couldn’t let you go alone. Yeah, I could have, but I knew a true friend would be there right beside you no matter how foolish.” Max heard a branch twig snap behind him and turned around. There, standing behind him in the moonlight, was Liz. He didn’t say anything to her, but instead turned back around and began playing with the dirt at his knees.

“I called your house, but your mom said you were here.” She inched closer to him and sat down behind him. She was too afraid to touch him or reach out to him.

“You called the house?” Max was shocked! That was the most she had done since he’d gotten home from the hospital. His parents said she never left the hospital while he was in a coma, and after he woke up she was always there. But after he was released, something changed. He never saw her, and she was nowhere to be found.


“Yeah…I was worried. Your mom said you had come out here, so I came by to see how you were.”

“I’m ok.” Max lied. He felt the tears well up in his eyes and quickly wiped them away. “I miss him…he’s only been gone a week, but I miss him like crazy.”

“Well if you’d stopped him from doing that stupid race, maybe he’d still be here and we wouldn’t have to miss him.” She bit her lip the instant the words left her mouth. It’s what she’d been thinking, but she never intended for them to come out.


“You think I killed him, don’t you?” Max wiped away the tears that were steadily flowing down his face and looked at her. “You do…you think I killed him. Well you’re right…I did. I didn’t stop the car and I didn’t do anything to stop him.” He stood up and Liz stood up as well.

“Max?”

“What was I supposed to do, Liz?”


“I don’t know! Take his keys away…get in front of the car. Max, you were his best friend, you were supposed to do something! You weren’t supposed to get in the car and go with him.” There…she’d said it.

Max just looked at her and shook his head. “Yeah…I killed him.” He brushed past her and left the cemetery, leaving her behind at the mound of dirt where their friend had been laid to rest.


“That was the last time I saw Liz. I took off the next morning, swearing I’d never look back. I didn’t tell anyone about the incident with Liz, and for ten years I’ve tried to hold it against her and hate her…but it didn’t work.

Now everything made since to Alex. He could see now why Max had run away in the first place. They’d all been hurting, but Max had been blaming himself. He tried to say something, but what could he say right now? Nothing could erase what happened, and nothing could give them back the last ten years. Alex did the only thing he knew to do. He lay back in the hammock next to Max, and used his foot to swing back and forth while they sat there in silence.

~*~*~*~*~

Liz walked through the front door of the apartment she shared with Kyle, and absently threw her keys down on the table. She laid the dresses down gently on the back of the couch, and sat down. Her mind was wandering so far away that she didn’t even notice Kyle come into the room.

“Hey, baby…you’re late. Where have you been?” Kyle asked as he popped a chip in his mouth.

Liz glanced down at her watch and silently swore to herself. She hadn’t been paying attention to the time. Quickly, she jumped up and headed for the kitchen to fix dinner. “I’m so sorry. Dinner will be ready in just a few minutes.”

Kyle could see that she was shaking, so he walked over and put an arm around her waist. “Baby, what’s wrong?”

Liz pulled out of his grasp, and turned to face him. “Kyle…we need to talk.”

“Ok, you’re scaring me, Lizzie. What’s going on?” He insisted.

There was no easy way to say this and she knew if she didn’t just blurt it out she wouldn’t be able to tell him. Here it goes. “Kyle…Max is back.”

TBC
Last edited by SAFIRESKYE26 on Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Post by FamersAmers » Mon Jul 11, 2005 3:31 pm

Hi all, Amy here! (waving) they need a waving smiley! Well i know we are a few days late with our update...ok so a lot of days late, but Melyssa got the outer edge of Hurricane Dennis and it messed with our plans to have it out...plus thurnderstorms are not doing to well for her! We want to thank all of you who have left us feedback we apprciate it and enjoy reading it! To those of you who lurk...come out and tell us what you think..dont worry be wont bite!

icequeen- Jazzy, you will have to wait for the wedding...but yes Kyle and Liz we are sorry...but we had to! LOL! And yes she was harsh, she was running on emotion! :D
Mariael311- we are back!
Timelord31- Thank you...we appreciate it!
begonia9508- you got that right! :wink:
g7silvers- You are right about Liz...and thank you for keeping us on our toes! We are glad you are with us! :D and you are right YUCK! double YUCK!!!
Maxsgurl- Jennifer we are SOOO glad you are with us!! Dont worry...I miss things all the time!! We are just gald you are here!!! Thank you we really appreciate the compliment -Am's and Mel
Emz80m- Emma! There will be no throwing of things...it is your opninon and that is what we wanted! :wink:
Carebear79- So true..we hurt the ones we love! Glad you left feedback! :)
Sternbetrachter- yeah Manly was what we were aiming for LOL! Their talk was a good thing! And thank you much! :D
janesdilemma- STEPHANIE!! *HUGS*who knows if firstly it is a word..but we make up words all of the time!! :wink: I love making people hate my characters...shows emotion! I love making you hate them! I Love It!!! yes she bolted..she was in shock, she got her dream, she did the logical thing to her...she ran lol! Now you will find out about Kyle.Love ya! :D

Ok so enough bable and on with the show!! Cause I am sure Mel is going to kill me!!

CHAPTER 5


“What do you mean Max is back?” This was Kyle’s worst nightmare. It was the one thing he’d feared the most over the last ten years. He knew Liz had never truly let Max go, and now he was back. The only man he was in competition with for Liz’s heart was back.

“Yes…I just told you. He’s back…he’s home.” Liz continued to fill the pot with water, and then moved the pot over to the stove. She was still in shock from seeing Max, so how was she supposed to explain it to Kyle?

“Oh…well where has he been?” Kyle took his belt off and slammed it down on the table. He wanted to know exactly what Liz knew about Max’s return.

“I don’t know, Kyle. He didn’t share that information with me, and I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.” She turned on one of the burners and reached into the cabinet to get the olive oil.

Kyle was irritated and worried, so everything seemed to be bothering him right now. He watched as she poured the olive oil and salt into the pot, and got angry. “Why do you have to do that?”

“What?”

“Pour olive oil in the water?”

She turned to him in frustration, “I do it so the noodles won’t stick together, and I put salt in the water to make it boil faster. Do you want to know why I season the sauce too?” She retorted, and then put her head down in frustration. Instantly, her tears started to pool in her eyes. She’d always hoped Max would come back, but now…now Max being back affected her more than she wanted to admit.

“Liz, are you ok?” Kyle walked up to her, put his arms around her, and rested his head gently on her shoulders.

“No, I’m not! I’m tired and I’m frustrated! This wedding is stressing me out, and I’m just dealing with a lot right now. I’m sorry I flipped out on you…it’s me, not you.” Kyle kissed her neck and started to rub her shoulders…for the first time in six years, Liz felt disgusted by it. Liz stood back up and pulled away from him. “Kyle, if you don’t stop we’re never going to eat, and I’m never going to get this wedding stuff done.”

Kyle backed away from her slowly, and feeling defeated walked back to their bedroom. Once Liz thought he was gone, he peeked his head back out the door. He watched her as she continued to cook, but somehow he knew this had more to do with Max than the wedding.

~*~*~*~*~

Alex and Max continued to rock back and forth on the hammock for a while in silence, but finally Max spoke up again. “You know something, Alex, I’ve missed these nights.”

“What? Roswell nights?” Max shook his head and Alex laughed. “What’s there to miss? I mean we have nothing but desert!”

They both laughed and Max got the courage to ask Alex the one question he’d been thinking about for ten years. “Alex?”

“Yeah, man?”

“Is Liz seeing anyone?” He knew the answer could be painful, but he needed to know.

Alex looked at Max, but never faltered in rocking the hammock. What was he supposed to say? “Yeah, she is. You’re not going to like this, but she’s been with Kyle Valenti for the last six years.”

“What?” Max couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. Liz had blamed Max for the accident and that’s why he’d left. How could she forgive Kyle? He’d been part of the race too.

“I can't even begin to imagine how shocked you are right now, but she needed someone, Max. We all tried to lean on each other and when Kyle started coming around…well they clung to each other.” Alex had been planning on telling Max anyway, but he hated knowing how much the news must be hurting Max.

“But Kyle Valenti? He was there too!”

Alex shook his head knowing where Max was going with this. “I know. Trust me, I feel the same way, but she needed someone at the time.”

Max was angry, but knew he didn’t have a right to be. He’d left, so Liz moved on with her life. “Can I ask you one more thing?” Alex nodded so Max continued. “Is she happy with him?”

“Honestly…I don’t know. After you left she needed someone…I think anyone would’ve been good enough at that point, but Kyle stepped up and was there when she really needed him.” Alex knew he should shut up now, but he couldn’t. “Personally, I think Kyle has just been a stand in since she couldn’t have the one person she really wanted.”

Max shook his head in understanding. “So what do I do now?”

Alex wanted to see Max and Liz back together, but he knew there was still a lot of old baggage to sort through. Everyone had made choices in Max’s absence…choices that couldn’t be easily forgotten. “The best advice I can give you is to be patient. Both of you need to talk, but I’d wait for her to come to you. She has a life with Kyle now…give her time to figure out if it’s what she really wants.”

“I’ve been seeing someone.” Max admitted.

“Really?” Alex asked surprised.

“Yeah…for a few years now. She’s been good to me.” Despite Max’s lingering feelings for Liz, he knew Steph had always been good to him…and for him.

Alex understood. After all, it had been ten years. “I’m glad you found happiness, Max. You deserved it.”

“Yeah…I found happiness, but even then I still had a hole in my heart.”

“I know.”

“But they aren’t married right?” Max asked, still thinking about Liz.

“No. I don’t think she loves him enough to marry him. Besides, Isabel and I can’t stand him. We both try to respect whatever it is they have going on, but we think she’s hiding behind Kyle. It’s easier to hide behind him than deal with the pain of everything that happened.”

Max knew the feeling. He’d done it himself. “I guess so.”

“Max, I have to ask you a question. You can always say no, but I have to ask. You’re gonna be my brother very soon, and you’ve been my friend for most of my life. What I’m trying to say is…I want you to be in the wedding. I want you to stand up there with me where you belong, but I’ll understand if you say no.” Alex had to take a breath after rushing out his request.

Max sat up and smiled. “I would be honored. There’s no place I would rather be.”

Alex smiled at Max’s response. It had gone easier than he’d thought it would, and somewhat different. He’d expected Max to say no, but then realized it’s true what people say…time changes everyone.

Alex laid back and continued to rock in the hammock as he looked in the window. “They’re probably all freaking out that we’ve been out here so long. You know they’re dying to know if you’re ok, and if you need anything. Women!”

Max laughed. “Alex, welcome to the family of Evans’s women!” Alex laughed and stood up with Max.

“Come on, before they send Phil out to get us.” Together they walked back into the house.

~*~*~*~*~

Stephanie had been lying in bed for hours now missing Max. She glanced over at the clock on her nightstand 12:30 the bright red numbers flashed back at her. She rolled over onto her side and placed a hand on Max’s side of the bed. She missed him so much already and he’d only been gone for a few days. What made it even more difficult is that he hadn’t called her once. She knew the time change was different, but only by two hours…he should’ve called her.

The longer she laid there alone in the dark, the more she realized this feeling wasn’t going to go away until she talked to Max. She sat up in bed, pulled her long black hair up into a ponytail, and picked up the phone.

When Max’s voice mail picked up, she sighed. “Max, it’s me, baby. When you get this message please give me a call. I’ve been thinking about you and I wanted to make sure you got to Roswell ok. I love you.”

She hung up the phone and lay back against her pillow. She stared at her engagement ring and watched it sparkle. God how she loved Max! She’d been with him for almost eight years now…the happiest eight years of her life. They’d dated for what had seemed like forever before he’d proposed, but she’d been extremely patient with him. She knew he’d had a hard life and had run away from his past. However, it wasn’t something he ever talked about with her.

She’d almost given up on him, when he finally told her he loved her and wanted to spend forever with her. She’d been overjoyed and that’s when they’d gotten engaged. It had been the most exciting time of her life! She was in love with a wonderful, handsome man and she was getting married.

As she fingered her ring, she thought about why he’d gone to Roswell. He’d said it was for his sister’s wedding and to settle some old business. She’d offered to go with him, but he’d told her it was something he had to do alone. But now as she sat there alone in their apartment, Roswell sounded a whole lot better than Orlando.

Without anymore debating with herself, she got out of bed, went to her computer, and quickly booked the cheapest flight she could find to Las Cruses, New Mexico. Then, she reserved a rental car so she could get around. She was going to Roswell.

~*~*~*~*~

Liz stood in the shower and let the water wash over her body trying to relax, but all of her thoughts turned to Max. She wondered what he’d been doing for the last ten years, and if there was someone else in his life. It wasn’t like she didn’t think of these things all the time, but now seeing him she wouldn’t be surprised if he’d gotten married. All of this was too much for her alone, she needed help. She needed Maria. She got out of the shower and reached for the cordless phone she’d brought into the bathroom with her. She dialed Maria’s number and felt relieved when Maria picked up after the second ring.

“Hey, Chica! What’s goin’ on? Hold on a sec…I told you I wouldn’t wear that…that…thing. Find something else or I’m not going to the awards. Sorry, Liz…business. You ok?”

It was obvious that Maria was busy, but in ten years she’d never needed her more. “No…I’m not. Maria,” she took a deep breath, “Max is back.” There was a long pause on the other end of the line and then Maria spoke up.

“I’ll be on the next flight.” Maria stated quickly and hung up the phone.

Liz knew she could always count on Maria. She was smiling when Kyle walked into the room five minutes later.

“Well don’t you look happy.” He crossed the room and attempted to pull her close for a kiss, but then he felt her tense at his touch. He kissed her forehead anyway, and sat down on the bed.

“Umm…Kyle…I have a lot to do today and I just talked to Maria. She’s decided she wants to spend a little more time in Roswell, so she changed her flight. She’ll be flying in this afternoon instead.” Liz needed Maria, but she didn’t want Kyle to know that was Maria’s reason for flying in early.

“Really?” Kyle could see the change in Liz. She was trying to hide it, but he knew her too well. He stood up and smiled at her as he headed for the door. “I’ll just let you finish getting ready then.”

“Thanks.” Liz called out to him as he walked down the hallway away from their room. Only a few more hours, Liz. You can do this!

~*~*~*~*~

Max had desperately wanted to sleep in for a change, but after so many years of getting up early for work he just couldn’t go back to sleep. He’d been staring at the clock since quarter after five and now it was after seven…he couldn’t just lay there anymore. Reluctantly, he climbed out of bed and headed for the bathroom to take a shower.

The hot water felt good as it rushed over his body, while the massager pounded into his aching shoulders. He seemed to ache all over, but for the first time in years he couldn’t blame it on work. The stress from everything going on around him was all sinking in at once. He’d been honored when Alex asked him to be his best man, but at the time he’d forgotten that Liz was in the wedding too. Not that he minded seeing Liz dressed up and looking radiant as always, but he knew he would have to see Kyle too.

Realizing the shower wasn't working, he shut off the water and climbed out. He ransacked through his bags to find something to wear and that’s when he noticed his cell phone. He’d put it on vibrate and thrown it into the bag after he pulled into the drive way last night. Looking at it now, he saw that there were two missed calls. He was sure it was Steph, especially since he’d forgotten to call her when he arrived. He thought about waiting to clear his messages, but he knew he owed Steph more than that. The first message was from her saying she missed him and wanted to talk to him, which made him smile. She had such a soft, genuine heart and it was obvious even in the tone of her voice. Unfortunately, the moment passed when he listened to the second message…

“Max, it’s me. I know you wanted to go to Roswell alone, but I think I should be there with you. What better time to announce our engagement than when your whole family is there? I know you try to hide your past, but now that we’re moving on with a future I think it’s time for us to put all of our secrets behind us. Anyway, I’m babbling because I’m so excited! I’m getting on a plane soon and I’ll be flying into Las Cruces this afternoon. I can’t wait to see you! Bye, baby.”

Max was in a complete panic. She couldn’t come here…not now. Quickly, he threw on some clothes, rushed downstairs, kissed his mother good-bye, and headed for the airport. He had to stop her.

~*~*~*~*~

Liz quickly finished getting ready and made her way to the kitchen. Kyle was standing there making breakfast, so Liz suddenly stopped. “Kyle…I didn’t think you’d still be home. Aren’t you working today?”

“Nope. Today is my day off, and I was hoping I could go with you to finish running all of your errands. I won’t get in the way…promise.” He started whistling while he continued to cook breakfast. He needed to be with her today.

Liz smacked herself in the forehead and started mumbling to herself as she wandered through the apartment. She needed to be alone right now. She needed time to think. She needed to get away from Kyle.

“Liz, are you alright?” Kyle watched as she continued to mumble, pack her things, and pick up all the little wedding details. Suddenly, she stopped, turned around, and sent Kyle an agitated look. He noticed she was biting her lip, which meant she felt terrible for the way she was acting.

“I have to go to Las Cruces to pick up Maria…you can go with me if you want to. Actually, it would help out a lot if you drove, then I could get some of these last minute details out of the way.”

Her voice was calm now, and she genuinely sounded like she wanted him to go with her. Kyle smiled in return, happy to see the Liz he knew. “Of course.”

She reached out for him and he took her into his arms to hold her. “I’m sorry, Kyle. I know I’ve been acting like such a cow…I just have a lot on my mind. I’m sure things will calm down next week after the wedding’s over.”

Kyle looked down at her and kissed the top of her head. “It’s ok. Besides, you have to plan this one to know what to do for ours. Now come on…I’ll drive.” Kyle set everything he’d been cooking aside and grabbed the car keys. He stood there watching her, and then out of nowhere the nice, calm Liz disappeared.

“Well, what are you waiting for? I have to go now if we’re going to get everything done for this wedding, pick up Maria, and get back here in time for me to grade a few papers!” She turned back around and walked out the door slamming it behind her. She didn’t want to contemplate being married to Kyle, because she wasn’t ready for that. She didn’t want that!

Kyle looked around at the mess he’d made cooking breakfast. The food and dishes were going to have to stay there until he got back, because there was no time to clean it up and he wasn’t about to piss Liz off when she was already in a mood.

~*~*~*~*~

“Hello, I’m trying to reach flight information.” Max had no clue what time Steph was due to arrive, but he was determined to find out. The woman on the other end of the line asked him to hold while her computer finished loading the information. He was getting frustrated, but he had no other choice.

“Sir, are you still there?”

“Yes.”

“Where was the flight departing from?”

“Orlando, Florida. I don’t know what time it took off though.”

“Ok, just a moment.” Max waited as patiently as he could and was about to hang up when the woman returned to the line. “Sir, it seems that only one flight made it out this morning due to severe thunderstorms in the area.”

“What time is it due to land in Las Cruces?”

“Due to a minor delay, it won’t be landing until two.”

“Thank you.” Max flipped the phone closed and sighed in relief. He had plenty of time to make it to her first.

~*~*~*~*~

Liz looked at her caller ID and was happy to see Maria’s name. “Hello.”

“Hey, Chica! Just wanted to let you know that my flight will be landing around two. Are you coming to pick me up?”

“Of course! We’re already on the road heading for Las Cruces.”

“Well, I guess I’ll see you about two. Oh and, Liz…just hang on for a few more hours. I’ll be there soon.”

Liz smiled as she closed her phone. Having Maria here was exactly what she needed.


TBC
Last edited by FamersAmers on Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:59 pm, edited 4 times in total.
"You know what?House rules, Sammy. Driver picks music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole." Supernatural

"That Dude just full on obi woned me!" Supernatural

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SAFIRESKYE26
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Post by SAFIRESKYE26 » Sat Jul 30, 2005 12:13 pm

Hey, this is Melyssa! It's my turn to post :) Amy and I both want to thank all of you for your wonderful feedback and thank you for reading! Amy has written something to each of you below (I suck at this) and we hope you enjoy the chapter!

begonia9508-Yes, Yes, and Yes! You got that right!
Timelord31- Thank You
janesdilemma- STEPHERS!!! We know, we know…the cliffy’s!! I’m sure that Liz will tick you off more and more. As for Kyle…he’s just Kyle…what more can I say? I’m sure this chapter will piss you off too!! LOL!! I can’t wait! Maria will have her head on straight…you’ll see! Yes bad things await, because Stephanie came to town!! *hugs* Love mucho!
roswellian137-Glad that you caught up…we were missing you! The run in at the airport…hmmm…read on to find out!
g7silvers- He loves Stephanie…but Liz has always been with him. He’s never forgotten his love for her and he never will. Stephanie will soon realize it. What did Max leave out of the accident? That was a tough one…but no worries…you’ll soon know.
icequeen- Jazzy!! I know, I know...F-! LOL, Maria is coming from LA…Stephanie from Florida, and will they meet at the airport? Of course they’re going to meet at the airport!! LOL! *hugs*
Ellie- We feel bad for them too. I agree… but she hadn’t heard from him and she finally realized that it was now or never!
frenchkiss70- DISASTER STRAIGHT AHEAD!!! Max never told Stephanie about Liz, EVER! Seeing everyone is not going to shatter the dream until later! But the dream is going to break!
Carebear79- Yes we love killing people…at least I do. I think in every fic I’ve written I’ve killed someone! LOL…and I knew you meant the cliffhanger! Of course he moved on! No, both relationships were not rebounds. At the time the relationships became relationships…it was more than just a rebound! Thanks for pointing that out! Glad you came out of Lurking…we love it when you do. We can’t wait for 2 either!
Maxsgurl- Jennifer! I got all worried because I couldn’t find you! You are very close in your prediction…read on and see for sure!
Mariael311- I guess we left you speechless! Thanks.
G7silvers- Forgot something…Max stayed away for 10 years…I guess because he didn’t want to face everything. He figured they all felt the way that Liz did and even though his family never said that…he felt that. Liz did give up…she gave up on herself! Thanks for keeping us on our toes! We appreciate it!
Emz80m- Where are you????? We miss ya!

CHAPTER 6

Max glanced down at his watch for the hundredth time in an hour, and was glad to see that it was almost two. There were so many things going on in his head, and so many things he needed to be dealing with rather than standing in an airport. He looked around the baggage claim area, already feeling guilty about everything going through his mind, but he couldn’t help it. Seeing Liz again and being back home, brought so many emotions he hadn’t felt in years to the surface, causing him to feel awkward facing Steph when he was in such turmoil. Simple, I’ll just tell her I love her and put her back on a plane to Florida. Max knew it wasn’t the nicest thing to do to her, but he didn’t want her to see what he was going through, or worse end up running into Liz. Steph wasn’t stupid, so she would see right through him. Any way he looked at it, the situation he was in felt suffocating.

Just when he thought things couldn’t get worse, his cell phone rang. Cursing silently to himself, he flipped the phone open. “Hey, Mom.”

“Max, where are you? You left in such a hurry this morning,” there was a long pause on the other end of the line and then he heard his mother’s sniffles, “I thought you were disappearing again. Are you?”

Max wanted to beat his head into a wall, but the area was too crowded for no one to notice. “No, Mom…I’m not going anywhere. I promise I’ll never leave again without telling you where I’m going or why.” He felt awful. This was what he’d turned their relationship into. This was his fault! Now, his own mother was going to worry every time he walked out the door. “Mom…I know why you may have thought that, but trust me…I don’t want to run away from my family ever again.”

Diane breathed a sigh of relief. “I love you, Max. I’ve just…missed you.”

“I know, Mom…I missed you too. I’m so sorry for putting you through all of this.” He felt the tears start to run down his cheek, but he quickly brushed them away.

“So everything’s alright then?”

“Everything’s fine, Mom. I just have some things I need to take care of today. I should be home by dinner.” He assured her, but knew she wouldn’t relax until he walked through the door.

“Ok, honey…just be careful. I’ll see you tonight.” She hesitated before hanging up, but she realized she was going to have to trust him.

Max held the phone to his ear for a minute, but then closed it when he was certain his mom had hung up. “Dammit, Max…you’ve really screwed this one up.” He said aloud, causing people to stare.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Flight 891 from Orlando is now arriving at gate five. If you do not have a boarding pass please wait for your party in the baggage claim area. Thank you.”

“Too late to run now.” Max looked up at the screens above the luggage carousel and waited for Steph’s flight to be displayed, totally oblivious to the storm heading his way.

~*~*~*~*~

“Kyle, can’t you walk any faster?” Liz was growing more and more irritated at Kyle with each passing hour. He’d told her he wanted to help, but it had become painfully obvious that he was just trying to baby-sit her. All day he’d been dropping Max’s name just to see her reaction, apparently assuming she'd been born yesterday! “Maria’s plane is supposed to be arriving any minute!”

“Liz, Maria’s a big girl…I’m sure she can fend for herself for five minutes.” Kyle shot back. While he knew it had been his idea to come with Liz, he had a bad feeling that something was wrong. She’d been acting extremely touchy all day with no sign of letting up.

Liz came to a halt and spun around to face him. “Don’t you get it, Kyle? It’s rude to be late when you tell someone you’ll be somewhere!”

“Liz, we’re not that late!”

Liz huffed and pulled her hair away from her face. “It’s not how late we are, it’s the fact that we’re late at all! Plus, I’m getting really tired of you grilling me about Max! How stupid do you think I am?” She didn’t wait for answer, but instead spun back around and quickened her pace even more, leaving Kyle behind.

Kyle loved Liz, but even he was getting angry now. He jogged to catch up with her and attempted to finish what they’d started. “Liz, you’re not being reasonable. I wasn’t grilling you about Max, I was just…curious.”

“Kyle, I saw him for one minute! One! How much catching up do you think we could do in one minute with my jaw on the floor?”

“Liz, I’m sorry. I just…”

Liz had to bite down on her lip and count to ten before she could speak. “Kyle, I know damn well what you’re doing! You’re insecure about Max being back, but I don’t have time to baby your ego right now! I have so many things I have to get done this weekend and not nearly enough time to do them! If you want to know anything else about Max…GO TO HIM!”

Kyle stopped trying to keep up with her. She was angry and confused, now wasn’t the best time to be asking her questions. For now he would leave it alone, but sooner or later he was going to get some answers. He followed behind her as she walked through the automatic doors near baggage claim, and instantly heard a voice over the loud speakers.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Flight 205 from Los Angeles is now arriving at gate two. If you do not have a boarding pass please wait for your party in the baggage claim area. Thank you.”

“See, Liz,” Kyle said when Liz glanced over her shoulder at him, “we’re just in time.”

~*~*~*~*~

Stephanie was so excited when she walked off the plane that she could barely contain herself. She was here in New Mexico and finally she would get to meet Max’s parents! A flight attendant was kind enough to tell her where the baggage claim was, and then she was on her way. She found the baggage claim area easily and looked everywhere for any sign of Max. Once she spotted him, there was no holding back. She took off running toward him, calling out his name. “Max! Max! I’m here!”

Just as Max caught sight of her, he saw another familiar face with eyes locked on him. Liz. There was no helping the situation now. Liz had seen and heard Steph calling out to him and now her eyes were focused on him as Steph leaped into his arms.

“Oh, Max! I’ve missed you so much! I knew you’d be here waiting for me after you got my voicemail.” She cuddled up against him and kissed his neck. “Did you miss me?” She asked seductively.

Max could hardly catch his breath. “Of course…of course I missed you. I’m just so surprised to see you.”

“That was the whole point. If you had returned my calls, you might not have been so surprised! Will you help me with my luggage?”

Max saw the carousel start to move about the same time Kyle Valenti headed his way, dragging Liz right along with him. Obviously, there was no way to get out of this now. This was going to happen and he was completely powerless to stop it.

“Well, well…if it isn’t Max Evans!” Kyle said cheerfully.

Steph turned around and saw the handsome gentleman talking to Max. “Who’s this, Max?” She asked, while nudging him in the side.

“Hello, Kyle…it’s been a long time.” Just seeing Liz and Kyle together felt like a dagger had been shoved straight through his heart, but with Steph hanging onto him he knew he didn’t have the right to be angry.

“Yes, it has. I’m sure you remember Liz Parker, don’t you?” A devilish grin spread across his face.

“Kyle.” Liz growled under her breath.

Steph could feel the tension among the three of them, and decided to break the silence by introducing herself. “Hi. You must be old friends of Max’s. It’s nice to meet you…I’m Stephanie, Max’s fiancée.” She smiled brightly and extended her hand out.

Kyle was quick to grab it. The woman standing in front of him had just become his new best friend. “Oh, the pleasure is ours.” Kyle said sweetly, watching Max tense up. “Yeah, we’ve both known Max since grade school, but it’s been a long time since we all saw each other.” He leaned forward, kissed her hand, and stood straight again with his eyes fixated on Max. “How long has it been, Max? Ten years?”

Max couldn’t stand the hurt expression he saw on Liz’s face, and the smug grin on Kyle’s. Right now he wanted to punch him, but then he heard familiar squeals coming from behind them. And the hits just keep on coming!

“Liz! Oh, honey, I’ve missed you so much!” Maria wasted no time, instantly pulling Liz into her arms. “We have so much to talk about and so many things to do! How’s the wedding nazi? Have you killed her yet?” Maria looked down at Liz who wasn’t saying a word. Finally, she turned around to see what was holding all of Liz’s attention. When her eyes met Max’s she almost fainted. “Oh…my…God. I’m seeing things, right?”

“Nope, Maria. We just ran into Max and his lovely fiancée Stephanie.” Kyle stated triumphantly.

Did Kyle just say fiancée? She looked at the smug grin on Kyle’s face and the tears forming in Liz’s eyes, and knew it was true. Slowly, she stepped forward until she was face to face with Max. He’d aged well, barely looking older than he did at eighteen. He wore his hair longer now, and the stubble on his chin made him seem more rugged, harder, than he had years before. “For a minute I thought I’d seen a ghost.” She said quietly, and then smiled. “It’s great to see you, Max. It’s been way too long.” She took one more step forward and wrapped her arms around Max. This was the moment she’d been waiting years for.

Max was stunned, yet relieved at Maria’s greeting. “It’s great to see you, Maria. You look beautiful!”

“Thank you, Max. I see you’re still a hottie even after all these years.” She teased. “Hopefully, we’ll have time to catch up on things while I’m here for Isabel’s wedding. You do know your sister is making everyone nuts, don’t you?”

“Was there ever any doubt?” Max smiled, thinking about Isabel.

“Guess not. You know, Max…I’ve really missed you.”

“Me too.” Max said simply. Thankful she hadn’t punched him.

Maria knew Liz was standing behind her, but if she didn’t introduce herself to Stephanie it would make the moment even more awkward. “Stephanie, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Maria. Max and I go way back. He’s a great guy, a real keeper. You’re very lucky.”

Steph smiled and stepped forward to hug Maria. “Thank you so much.” She released Maria and hooked an arm through one of Max’s. “It’s great to finally meet some of Max’s friends. Hey, I have a great idea! Why don’t we all go grab a late lunch? The plane food was horrible, so I’m absolutely starving. And it would give you all some time together.”

Every one of them tensed, even Kyle, but they all knew if they said no it would raise too many questions. So together they gathered Maria and Steph’s luggage, and then headed toward a Chili’s not far from the airport. It was going to be a long day!

~*~*~*~*~

Thirty minutes later they were all seated in a large booth, munching on appetizers, having a few drinks, and waiting for their food. From the instant they’d all been seated, Max and Maria had pretty much taken over the conversation.

“Oh my gosh, Max! Do you remember that time when we were like fifteen and we all went bowling?” Maria was already laughing at the memory.

Max couldn’t help but laugh. He understood where Maria was going with this, and truthfully he couldn’t wait for Stephanie to finally know what his life had been like long before they’d met. “Are you kidding me? Of course I remember! We took your mom’s Jetta and the only one who knew anything about driving was Isabel, and she wasn’t even that good.”

Maria looked at him with exaggerated horror in her eyes. “Good? We hadn’t even made it off my street before she backed into the fire hydrant!”

Max was laughing hysterically at the image of his sister that night, swearing it had been everyone else’s fault not hers. Max and Maria were so caught up in their stroll down memory lane, that they hadn’t realized everyone else was just watching them.

Liz remembered that night too and while it was funny, she was too focused on Stephanie to care.

“I remember. She ran over it, put the car in drive, and ran over it again! My parents were so pissed!” Max hadn’t laughed so much in years…it felt good.

“Your parents? I thought my mom was going to drop dead right there!” They both continued to laugh as they recalled the memory that had meant so much to both of them.

“I’ve got a better one for you! Do you remember Vegas?” Even as the words left his lips, he erupted into a fit of laughter.

“How could I ever forget Vegas?” Maria laughed and rolled her eyes.

Max was laughing when he glanced at Stephanie, but she seemed lost in this particular conversation, so he began to explain. “You see, my parents decided to take all of us to Vegas because my dad had to go for this really big case. They rented this bus, if you could even call it that, and we all went together.”

“Oh, the bus.” Maria said sarcastically and pretended to bang her head on the table.

“Well before we left Michael decided there was no way we could go to Vegas without fake IDs, so we had to pay Robby Questal to get them for us. Some plan that turned out to be.”

“That’s right! I’d almost forgotten that!”

Max looked at Maria and smiled. “So anyway, we paid Robby fifteen dollars a piece for the IDs, and since there were six of us it wasn’t cheap. After we gave him the money and the pictures, three days later he gave us the finished product. We were all too excited to look at them, so Michael just passed them out and said hide them.”

“Yeah, really stupid on our part.” Maria retorted.

Max smiled at Maria and continued his explanation. “When we got to Vegas, my parents left us in the room, but told us we could go shopping at Caesar’s. That’s when everything got interesting. So we all get out our IDs and the first thing I notice is my name! It said Rob Roy! I couldn’t believe it, so I looked at Isabel’s and her name was Brandy Alexander. From there it only got better…Maria was Margarita Salt, Alex was Tom Collins, Liz was Shirley Temple, and Robby had given Michael one that said Dr. Love! It was hysterical!”

Maria laughed and interjected. “So what did we do? We headed straight for the strip! We managed to get into a casino, and we were all getting pretty lucky, except for Liz! She got so hyped up that she told the guard the truth!”

“What did you expect me to do? He knew I wasn’t twenty-one.” Liz said, and then continued to push the food around on her plate.

“So there we are, doing all of this stuff and we run into some guy named Anthony.” Max started laughing the second Maria mentioned it! “He’s outside, sloppy as hell, playing with a glow stick he’d gotten at one of the many strip clubs. Well he was knocking it around and banging it up, so Max here says ‘Um…are you ok?’ and the guy looked up at him, revealing very broken teeth and says. ‘I can’t figure out how I turned it on’!” Maria was already laughing so hard that she could barely go on. “So Michael, being the smart ass he was, says ‘You cracked it and it started to glow’ and this guy’s face just lit up! He got all excited, but then he looked up at Michael with the most confused look on his face, and started to shake it some more.”

Max started laughing loudly. “You have to let me finish, Maria!” Maria was practically snorting, so she shook her head in agreement. “Just when we thought things couldn’t get any weirder, this guy starts screaming at the top of his lungs ‘How do you turn it off?’ and we all just died laughing!”

Max and Maria were laughing uncontrollably, making even Liz chuckle at the story, but Kyle and Stephanie looked at the three of them like they’d lost it.

“I’m sorry, Steph…I guess you had to be there.” Max put his arm around her and smiled.

“I guess so.” She said quietly, and then smiled at all of them. When her eyes locked with Liz’s, she saw Liz giving her a dirty look for the third time this afternoon. Stephanie was fed up and about to ask Liz what her problem was, but Liz’s cell phone rang before she could.

Liz almost ignored it, but quickly realized she was thankful for the distraction. “Hello.” Immediately, Isabel was talking a mile a minute, so Liz decided to excuse herself. “Sorry, but I have to take this.” Liz stood up and made her way out the door.

“So…how long have you all known each other?” Stephanie asked in general, but no one responded. Maria was the first one to finally speak.

“Let’s see…Max and I have known each other since we were about five along with Liz, Isabel, and Alex. We’ve all been best friends since we started kindergarten. We’ve known Kyle just as long, and now he’s my step brother.” Maria finished, wanting to gag herself.

Stephanie smiled and shook her head. “That’s really amazing that you’ve all been friends for most of your lives. Gives some balance.”

Listening to Stephanie’s words, Max and Maria both looked down at their plates. Kyle had thought about mentioning the past, but he decided it wasn’t his place. After a couple of minutes, Liz rejoined them at the table, breaking the eerie silence surrounding each of them.

“I’m sorry to break up such a lovely lunch, but Isabel just called and we need to get going.” She looked at Max and Stephanie, and then smiled. “You know your sister.” She said smugly. “Dress fitting tonight.” It wasn’t that she wanted to be cruel to Stephanie, but at the same time she desperately wanted her to see that she’d always been a part of Max. “Stephanie, I’m sure we’ll meet again, and Max…it’s been way too long.” Liz pulled him close and closed her eyes as they embraced. It felt just like old times. When she let him go she smiled at everyone, and then grabbed her purse.

Max was trying not to be obvious, but he couldn’t hide the fact that he'd felt something in that moment. “Liz, it was nice seeing you again.” Stephanie noticed the tension between the two right away, and watching Kyle stare them down confirmed some of the things she’d been feeling.

“Well, I’m sure I’ll see you very soon. Oh, Isabel asked me to tell you that you need to be with Alex by seven.” With that, Liz turned around and took off leaving Max speechless.

“Max, it was good to see you.” Kyle said as he stood up. “Stephanie, it was very nice to meet you, and I’m sure I’ll be seeing more of you.” He kissed her hand, and then took off after Liz.

Maria stood there for a moment with sympathetic eyes and smiled. “See you later, Max.” Maria said, and then proceeded to follow after Kyle and Liz.

“Well that was eventful.” Max threw his napkin down on the table and sighed.

Stephanie saw the look in his eyes and didn’t like it. They both stood up and headed out to the truck. When they got there, Steph said the first thing that came to mind. “Your friends were really great. Maria’s quirky, but Kyle seems a little reserved.”

Max wondered why she hadn’t mentioned Liz. “They are great. I’ve really missed Maria through the years. She and I had a good friendship before the accident, and I suppose if we’d both stuck around we might’ve been able to continue it…at least I hope so. Kyle and I were never friends…we came from two very different crowds.”

“Really?” For some reason, she found that hard to believe.

“Really.” He started up the truck, and then she spoke again.

“Liz seems nice. Of course she kept giving me strange looks, but she seems nice. Were you two good friends as well?”

Max wasn’t ready for this line of questioning, even if Steph did deserve to hear it. “Well, let’s get you on a plane home, ok?”

Stephanie opened her mouth in shock, not believing he’d actually just said that to her. “No, Max! I’m not getting on a plane. I know you have things to deal with and I respect that, but you’re not going to send me home and forget that I’m there.” She folded her arms across her chest and looked at him sternly.

“What do you want me to do, Steph?”

She could see that Max was clearly frustrated, and didn’t want to deal with her at all! “I want you to tell me everything. I’ve been extremely patient with you for eight years, Max, and never once have I pushed you for information. Well, now it’s time you started talking. Otherwise, this isn’t going to be nice!”

Max saw the look on her face, so he gave in. “Ok, but not here. I’d like to take you somewhere first.”

Stephanie didn’t understand why he couldn’t just tell her the truth now, but she figured it was better than nothing. She strapped herself in and turned to look out the window. She knew it would take some time to get to Roswell, but she wasn’t in the mood for small talk…too much was at stake!

TBC
Last edited by SAFIRESKYE26 on Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Post by SAFIRESKYE26 » Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:06 pm

I'm here! I'm here! I set out to accomplish something today and we actually did it! Big pat on the back for Amy and myself :lol: Ok, normally Amy likes for us to post feedback to all of our feedbackers, but today we are just swamped :roll: So please don't take any offense to the quick "thank yous" cause you know we love you all!!! Enough of me...here it goes...

Maxsgurl- Thank you!
begonia9508- Thank you!
roswellian137- Thank you!
Jbehrbabe- Welcome to the story!
Alien614- Thank you!
Ellie- Thank you!
Timelord31- Thank you!
frenchkiss70- Thank you!
martine- Thank you!
Emz80m- Thank you!
janesdilemma- pissed?
Icequeen- PUNCHES!!
g7silvers- Thank you!
PennyC- Thank you so much!! We couldn’t have said it better!!! You took the time to get down to the very depth of our characters and it's obvious you understand them very well. Although I've already posted to this, Amy really wanted me to bring it up again...it was amazing feedback!
PennyC wrote:I thought that I'd throw in my thoughts about what's been happening.

Michael: I'd like to start off by saying, what he did was incredibly stupid. It was also totally believable. He had no family, little money, and not much status etc, he felt that all he had left was his pride and totally forgot about the other things he had like good friends and a girlfriend who loved him. Later on many of the characters forget that in the end the only person to blame for what happened was Michael (and possibly the guy he raced against). I wonder if this is partly to do with the fact that quite often in our culture when a person dies they suddenly become perfect - you can't blame the dead.

Max: He wasn't responsible for what happened. He did however make mistakes in how he dealt with the situation. He felt that he had to stick by Michael no matter what (loyalty is very admirable) but forgot that sometimes you just have to walk away. Later on he was definitely suffering from 'Survivor's Guilt' because he was the only one who didn't die in the crash. As well as justifiably feeling that people were blaming him he was probably taking anything that anyone said in the worst possible way; using their comments to increase his own sense of guilt.

As for him running away - it possibly wasn't the best thing to do because in the long run it increased his own pain by not giving him closure and increased everyone else's pain because they didn't know if he was alright etc. On the other hand everyone reacts to their problems in their own way and it must have seemed to be the right thing to do at the time.

I can't decide what to think about his relationship with Stephanie. His relationship with her has helped him heal, but at the same time he is settling for something less than true love. Things are going to be very difficult for him in the future!

Liz: Blaming Max was definitely not the smartest thing she's ever done; it was unjustified and simply helped him self-destruct. But she was hurting very badly, a friend had died, her best friend had lost the love of her life, her boyfriend could have died and she was blaming herself. Max is the leader but Liz is supposed to be the smart, sensible one and come up with a plan to fix things. With the car crash she's seen both of them fail - Max didn't make the best decision and she didn't have a hope of stopping things not matter how smart she is.

Later on I think she was a bit like a cornered animal that's in pain, lashing out to hurt someone else to protect themselves from more pain. It's never a good thing to do, but how many of us are really sensible in such difficult circumstances? At Michael's grave when she was talking to Max it sort of seemed like she was trying to make things a little better but couldn't quite hold back that instinct to lash out to protect herself. Liz would probably then feel like even more of a failure "I should have been able to stop myself" and then when Max left, feel that she had driven him away (which she was partly responsible for). Overall she's feeling guilty, weak, unsure and heartbroken.

It's not really a surprise that she clung to Kyle. She needed something stable to hold onto as she tried to put herself back together. On the plus side she does seem to be realising that she is strong enough to stand on her own, she's regaining her sense of self. Personally I think she needs to be on her own for a little while to rebuild her self-confidence and independence with no Kyle and (although my Dreamer heart doesn't want it) no Max.

Maria: This is probably going to seem strange but I think she might have had an easier time than Max or Liz. Her demon was the fact that her boyfriend died, which is a tragic thing to happen. She seems to have slain it by following her dreams, becoming independent and (unless you stun me with a husband / fiancee / boyfriend she's in love with!) has accepted that he was the love of her life and she'll never be able to replace him. She has also seen more clearly that it was an accident, nobody wanted it to happen. Hopefully she will be helping Max and Liz as they try to end their own amorphous (and sometimes harder to fight) demons of guilt. I'm sort of hoping she'll explode in a Maria sort of way and tell them what idiots they're being. :wink:

Kyle: I don't think he should be blamed for the crash. Being involved in those races wasn't clever (none of the main characters acted in a particularly sensible way) especially when he surely knew that one day someone would be hurt. At the same time he must have been the starter for dozens of races and he didn't decide who took part.

He probably knows in his heart that although Liz cares for him she isn't totally, madly in love with him. Although he's come across as a bit of a jerk it's almost certainly because he's afraid. He knows that if Liz works through her feelings then he won't be competition for Max. He's taking Liz any way he can get her which isn't healthy. Hopefully he will find someone who truly loves him.

Stephanie: Although I'm a Dreamer all the way through I'm not going to blame her; she didn't even know about Liz after all. She's understandably annoyed that Max hasn't told her anything about his past even though they've been together for 5 years and are about to get married. Getting on a plane to New Mexico without asking him, especially when he said he wanted to go alone is going to cause a lot of problems though . . .

At times she comes across as a tiny bit ditzy although that's not necessarily a bad thing - I've got a few friends who are a little like that. Seeing how her character develops will be interesting. She could be very nasty towards Liz when she finds out how close Liz and Max were or she could be upset but accepting. Who knows? Except the authors of course . . . (like to give me a hint? :looks for hopeful smilie: ) If she doesn't turn out to be deeply unpleasant she might end up with Kyle. They could fall in love and be very happy which would leave the way open for a reunion between Max and Liz. :D

All of which could probably have been shortened to this brief paragraph: I've rarely read a story with such brilliant, realistic characterization. Nobody in this has been evil and no one is without blame. It beautifully shows that people's actions are rarely black or white but made up of many, many shades of grey. Can't wait to read more!
CHAPTER 7

The drive back to Roswell was long and silent, each of them too lost in their own thoughts to attempt a conversation.

Max still wasn’t sure how much he was going to tell Steph about his past and about Liz. It wasn’t just because he was ashamed of his past, but also because he didn’t have the slightest clue how to explain exactly who and what Liz Parker had been and still was to him. He cared deeply about Steph and always would, but could she ever really come close to being the soul mate Liz was to him? It might’ve been ten years, but looking into Liz’s beautiful brown eyes, it still felt like just yesterday. He’d loved her from the first second he’d ever laid eyes on her and knew he would love her until the day he died. But now he’d made a promise to Steph…a promise he hadn’t taken lightly, and one he’d meant wholeheartedly at the time. He knew he didn’t want to hurt her, but right now his heart was being pulled in two very different directions.

Steph was still angry that Max had tried to shove her on the next flight back to Florida without so much as an explanation. True she was still here, but only because she’d refused to leave. She wasn’t sure where they were going, but somehow she knew it wasn’t the time to ask questions. Instead, she watched the scenery fly by outside her window and concentrated on everything she’d already witnessed this afternoon. It was obvious that Max’s friends were very nice and cared a great deal for him…so why had he left? Even as Max and Maria carried on at lunch, Stephanie could still feel the tension from the one topic that had not come up. After six years of loving Max and being patient with him, it hurt to know there was an entire life she knew nothing about. Sure, Max had always had secrets, but now it felt like so much more. Then, there was Liz. The tension between her and Max could’ve been cut with a knife, and yet neither one of them were willing to explain the connection they shared. Why? Stephanie had always wanted answers, and although she knew she needed them, now the truth was what she feared the most.

Max hadn’t said two words since they’d left the restaurant, he didn’t know how. He’d imagined this conversation over and over in his head for years, but finally being in the moment terrified him. Not only was he facing his own demons for the first time in many years, but he also had to figure out a way to explain them to Stephanie. He owed her the truth, it had been a long time coming, but how was he supposed to tell her everything without destroying her or her love for him? Did he still want her to love him? She’d been there for him longer than he could even recall now, his friend, his lover, his fiancé, so explaining to her exactly what Liz meant to him would break her heart, and that was one thing he was certain he didn’t want to do. She deserved better than this, he’d known that for a long time, but he’d been too selfish to let her go. So far, he hadn’t made a decision regarding their engagement, especially since Liz was with Kyle, but should he tell her how confused he was feeling?

Unfortunately, they’d both run out of time trying to figure things out when Max pulled his SUV into the cemetery. Slowly, he drove down the narrow road that would take them closest to Michael’s grave.

Stephanie looked around and started to understand what was happening. The only way for Max to finally tell her everything, was to start where it had all begun. “Is this where Michael’s buried?”

“Yes.” Max said quietly as he let the truck come to a stop. He climbed out and walked around the truck to open Steph’s door. Taking her hand, he led her to the headstone.

“Stephanie…I’d like you to meet Michael. Michael, this is Stephanie…the one I told you about.”

She squeezed Max’s hand and followed him as he sat down on the ground. “Thank you for bringing me here. I know Michael meant a great deal to you…I wish I could’ve met him. I mean…under better circumstances.”

“Yeah…you would’ve liked Michael. He was kind of a acquired taste, but once you got to know him…” Max started to get choked up, so he quit talking.

“So Maria…she was his girlfriend?”

Max looked at her and smiled. “How’d you know that?”

“I liked Maria, so please don’t misunderstand what I have to say.” Max nodded and she continued. “She just seems so full of life and kind of hard to control…an acquired taste maybe?” Stephanie chuckled. “I guess I just assumed the two of them would’ve been drawn to each other.”

Max had to give it to her…she’d hit the nail right on the head. “Well, you’re right. They were a couple. Actually, they were more like a catastrophe waiting to happen, but they loved each other very much.”

Stephanie couldn’t tap dance around the subject anymore…she had to know. “And Liz? Who was she?”

“It’s nothing, Steph. Liz and I aren’t friends…we aren’t even acquaintances.” He pulled at the grass and remained focused on Michael’s headstone.

“That’s it? That’s all you’re going to tell me? She isn’t a friend and she isn’t an acquaintance? Please, Max…don’t treat me like I’m stupid. I’ve been really patient with you for a long time, and now I deserve the truth. I’ve given you space, and I’ve never pushed you for more. I’ve always waited for you to come to me, because I thought the day would come that you would finally tell me everything on your own terms. Well that stops right now! It’s obvious that you’re hurting and I’m sorry for that, but you have to be honest with me and tell me the truth, Max. Otherwise, I’m walking away. I love you, but you owe me more.”

Max looked at her and nodded. She was right…he owed her more. “Ok. What do you want to know?”

“I want you to tell me who Liz reall is. I saw the looks she was giving me, and I saw the way she kept looking at you. They weren’t looks that said we aren’t friends and we don’t know each other, Max. You could’ve cut the tension with a knife.”

“Liz and I were friends…once upon a time.” He admitted quietly.

“Just friends?” As much as she was afraid to know…she had to know.

“Liz and I were friends throughout grade school, and I had the biggest crush on her. So obviously she wouldn’t agree to go out with me or have anything to do with me. Girls! Finally, after much pursuing on my part…she agreed to one date.” Max had to laugh at the memory. “Personally, I think she was just hoping to get rid of me, but after that first date she was just as hooked as I was. It was great. We were always together and we were so in love.” He saw the flash of pain in Steph’s eyes, he didn’t mean to cause it, but if she wanted the truth this was a large part of it.

“Ok…keep going.” Stephanie managed to say without crying. She wanted the whole truth, so he was just giving her what she’d asked for.

“We started dating just after Michael and Maria, and then the next thing we knew Isabel was sort of dating Alex. We were all happy and we were together. The six of us were completely inseparable. It was the summer after our senior year, so we were trying to live it up the best we could since we didn’t know where we’d all end up the next year. We were always at The Crashdown or at the Lake…we practically lived there. It was the best summer of my life…I cherished every single minute no matter how small. Liz and I did so many things, and we spent late nights together just talking…and then toward the end of the summer we made love for the first time. Neither one of us had ever been with anyone else, so it was like nothing I had ever experienced. It was beautiful, sweet, and perfect…everything it should have been and was supposed to be.” Max broke off for a few minutes, trying his best to gear up his courage for what was next to come.

“It sounds amazing.” Stephanie whispered. While part of her heart was breaking, it was nice to hear that Max’s entire life had not been horrible. From the instant she’d met him, he’d always had a dark side, but the young man he had described to her was very different.

“It was…until that day came. It was hot and humid, so Michael and I wanted to hang out at the Crash…but Maria and Liz were adamant about going to the Lake. They wanted to swim and hang out down there. Michael and I tried to fight it…Liz and I had even gotten into an argument about it, but there was no changing her mind once it was made up. So, I could either go with her or I could stay at the Crash and be pissed off with Michael all day. Finally, we all stopped arguing and went to the lake like the girls had wanted. After we got there, it seemed like the right choice. It was such a great day and we were having so much fun just being with each other…but all good things come to an end.” He glanced up at Steph and saw the mixture of emotions swimming in her eyes. He’d never talked to her about this in so much detail, and even though it was obviously hurting her, at the same time he could see the relief present in her eyes now that she was hearing the whole truth. “You ok?”

“I’m fine…keep going.”

“Well, Tony showed up in his car and started to taunt Michael about his. Michael didn’t come from the right side of town and he didn’t have much money…but he had his car. So when Tony challenged Michael to see whose car was faster, Michael took the challenge. I tried to stop him, Maria tried to stop him, even Liz pleaded with him not to go through with it, but he wasn’t backing down. That’s when I did the only thing I could do…I got in the car with him. He was my best friend…I couldn’t let him go alone. He was a loyal friend and he never would’ve let me down, so I couldn’t do that to him…he was like my brother. If I’m being totally honest…I didn’t want to let him go alone. I wanted to be there to wipe that smug ass look off Tony’s face when Michael beat him. I hated him, and this race was about proving something.”

Steph shook her head. “I’m not saying I agree with your decision to go with him, but I can understand why you did.”

Max looked at her again with a small grin on his face. “Thanks. Well considering the level of controversy surrounding the race, it didn’t take long for the lake to clear out and for everyone to meet up at one place. When the race finally started, Kyle was the one waving the flag.”

“That explains some of the hostile feelings I felt between the two of you earlier. Well, that and Liz of course.”

Max just shook his head and continued. “I remember we were on a curved road, so Michael promised to take it easy…but then Tony bumped us and Michael sped up the car. The adrenaline was rushing through our veins and when he looked at me I smiled, then he cut Tony off. It was the single most glorifying moment. It felt like we were on top of the world and no one would ever be able to talk trash about Michael again. Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last long. Tony hit us from behind and since Michael was going so fast he lost control of the car. He started to fish tail and in the process hit the front of Tony’s car sending him into a 360. Tony lost complete control of his car then, and he bumped Michael…both cars crashed into an old barn, and the cars started flipping. I passed out sometime after it rolled. ”

Stephanie saw the tears in his eyes and scooted closer to him. “It’s ok, just keep going when you’re ready.”

“I woke up in the hospital three days later, but everything was a blur. I couldn’t remember what happened, so they had to tell me about Michael. As it turned out, I was the only one to survive. After they released me from the hospital everyone in town looked at me differently…it was like I shouldn’t have been there. Like I should’ve been in the ground instead of him. Then, there were the people that looked at me with pity. “Poor Max Evans…he survived.” It was suffocating. I went to Maria’s house to check on her, but she wouldn’t see me. Her mom told me it was just too hard for her, and for me to give it time. That’s when I noticed everything changing between Liz and me…every time I was near her…she would pull away from me. She couldn’t stand for me to even touch her. It was like all of a sudden I had a disease. No one wanted me around, and the ones that actually did tolerate me still being there, looked at me with nothing but pity. When I finally went to the cemetery it was the hardest thing I had ever had to do. There were so many things I needed to say to him, and somehow I found the courage to apologize.” He blew out his breath and took another one in.

“Max…I know you were there, but it wasn’t your fault. You weren’t even the one driving, and you were both still just kids. Kids make mistakes.”

“Yeah, but this mistake took my best friend’s life. So there I was sitting at Michael’s grave pouring my heart out, and Liz showed up. We got into a really bad argument, the worst one we’d ever gotten into.” Max paused again, still seeing the anger in her eyes that night. “She blamed me for Michael’s death and told me if I had been man enough to stop the race none of this would’ve happened. I knew she was right…and that’s why I left. I couldn’t face my family, my friends, the people around town, so I left. I took off and I never looked back…until now. I’ve spent years running from these people, Steph, because I felt like I’d done something wrong. I felt like the entire mess was all my fault! I killed him!"

Stephanie looked at him appalled. How he could even think that was beyond her. It wasn’t his fault…it was a tragic accident. She pulled him into her arms and they both sat there crying together.

“Listen to me, Max…I understand why you felt that way before, but you have to know it wasn’t your fault. You didn’t do this…you didn’t kill Michael or Tony. You weren’t the one driving, and you didn’t make him do it. Yes, you went along for the ride and I’m sure you thought it was thrilling, but you couldn’t have known what was going to happen. I’m not sure why Liz said those things to you, but I think it was easier to blame you than for her to blame herself…but Max you aren’t to blame. It was a horrible accident.”

Max slowly pulled back away from her and she wiped his tears. Her heart was breaking for them both now. She couldn’t begin to imagine the pain and guilt Max had put himself through for ten years, it was just too overwhelming. Then, there was her pain. The pain she felt in her heart, knowing that Max was completely in love with someone else. In that moment, everything was painfully clear, and it was the worst hurt she’d ever experienced.

~*~*~*~*~

Maria sat on the bed in the guest room with Liz’s head in her lap. “You know, he looked so… I don’t know.” Liz couldn’t really figure out what Max had been feeling.

“You mean because he looked…happy?” Maria questioned.

“Yeah…like he’s found what he was looking for. Do you think that’s it?” Liz sighed.

“Maybe, but what did you expect?” Maria already knew what Liz was thinking. She’d wanted Max to wait for her, but that wasn’t fair. After all, she didn’t wait for Max.

“I thought that maybe…” She couldn’t say it, because then it would be true.

“You thought he would have pined away for you for the last ten years. Let me take a wild guess…you hoped that he would’ve waited and waited, and then come back for you? I’m sorry, Liz, but if that’s what you were thinking, you were wrong. You didn’t wait for him, Liz. What made you think he would wait for you?”

“I don’t know. I just thought he loved me more than that.”

Maria’s mouth dropped open wide. “Liz, he did love you! He was head over heels in love with you, and look what you did to him. Look at what we all did to him. He was the only one to survive that accident and we treated him like he was a disease. Worst of all, you sat there and openly blamed him! You! The one that was supposed to love him unconditionally! It wasn’t his fault, Liz…he did nothing wrong. The only thing he was ever guilty of was supporting his friends, because we all know none of us did that. Michael was the only one who was guilty, and the sooner you realize that the happier you’ll be.”

Just then Kyle knocked on the door, saving Maria from having to continue this conversation for now.

“Maria, Alex and Isabel are here.” She smiled, and gently moved Liz’s head off her lap and ran out the door to meet them.

Liz just sat there in stunned silence as she watched Maria disappear through the door. How could Maria have said those things? Maria was her best friend and should be on her side, but instead she was defending Max’s right to be with Stephanie. She didn’t leave the room for a few more minutes, but then she was too fired up to stop herself. She walked down the hallway and stood off to one side of the living room, watching her friends embrace one another.

“I am just so happy for you! I always prayed this day would come!” Maria had her arms wrapped around Alex as if she were never going to let go of him again. She’d missed him so much through the years, too much, and now she intended to make up for lost time.

“Hey! What about me?” Isabel demanded teasingly.

Maria smiled and finally released Alex. She and Isabel had never been that close, in fact she’d always taken Isabel for granted, but now she was about to marry Alex. Maria vowed she would never repeat the mistakes she’d made in the past again, so she walked over to Isabel and held out her arms. “I hope you know you’ve found one of the only great ones left?”

Isabel pulled Maria close and cried into her shoulder. “I do.”

“Ok…there will be no crying tonight. We have all week for that.” Maria insisted as she wiped a stray tear from her cheek.

“You know, Maria,” Alex started with a smile, “I think you’ve changed the most out of all of us. You’re not my little Maria anymore.” Alex pretended to sniffle. “I want my drama queen back!”

Maria punched him in the arm and laughed. “One of us had to grow up.”

“Well yeah, but…”

“Ok, enough. You two can bicker about this later. We have a hundred and one things we still have to do, but we just had to drop in and say hi.” Isabel pulled Maria close again and squeezed her tightly. “I’m just so happy you’re here.”

“Me too, Iz.”

“Will I see you tomorrow at the bridal shop? We have to make all the final alterations on the dresses.” Isabel said while pulling out her Palm Pilot.

“No worries, Isabel…I’ll be there. I wouldn’t miss this for the world! Now you two had better get out of here before this turns into an all-nighter!” Maria walked with them to the door, blowing kisses at both of them as they walked down the sidewalk.

Once the door was closed, Liz stepped forward. “How dare you?” She hissed.

“Excuse me?” Maria questioned, a little surprised by Liz’s tone.

“Just who in the hell do you think you are?”

TBC
Last edited by SAFIRESKYE26 on Sun Jan 08, 2006 12:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by SAFIRESKYE26 » Tue Aug 16, 2005 3:34 pm

We're back and here's notes from Amy...(and me too :wink: )

Timelord31- She was right, wasn’t she? And no, Liz doesn’t want to admit it, at least not yet!
janesdilemma - No it didn’t take a month and this is only day 5 too!! Woo hoo!! Aren’t we awesome! I am glad you weren’t as mad...although I tend to like it when you are mad! Isn’t she amazing!! See we modeled her after this girl that I know who is just AWESOME!!! I didn’t figure you would be a fan of Max’s at this point in time…he isn’t being fair! Liz… yeah I feel ya on that one! Maria…she had to be the sensible one in this fic…other than Alex and Isabel whom are busy with their own things…she had to be the smart one this time! Melyssa loves those cliffies…I have nothing to do with it!! LOL
begonia9508- It will be a little while before she moves on, and you’ll see why in this part, but you’re right…she has no right to say anything…she moved on! Thanks for the feedback we always appreciate it!!!
Maxsgurl- Oh Jennifer, I was seriously thinking you had dropped off the face of the earth!!! LOL… I got your PM and I will get back to you ASAP!! The head is killing me! Give Maria a chance…LOL she’s just stating the truth and while she is her best friend sometimes the truth hurts! I’m glad they had the talk too! And yes, she understands but she isn’t just going to hand him over!! LOL Thanks for everything!! You know what that means!!
Ellie- LOL!!! Thanks for the PM!! Well the response to the PM…lol. You’re right about your feedback! She isn’t stupid and she will see! We both have come to adore our character Stephanie and we have made her someone who isn’t going to just give up!
roswck - Very true we become best friends by our difference and they are what make us. I wouldn’t want my best friend to agree with me either…she needed to tell Liz how the cow ate the cabbage.
icequeen - Oh I am sending you punches!! I do a pretty good job of making you like people you should hate!!! LOL, I already told you my response to that!! But thanks for the compliment! Max did owe her and he owes her a lot more than just an explanation…6 years meant something and he can’t deny that. Yeah Liz did a little of the pot calling the kettle black...she gets an F!! Before the end of this…we will have you liking Maria too!! LOL!
g7silvers - I love how you word things…I really do!! Liz was wrong to do what she did and you pointed out some great things. She moved on why couldn’t he? Thank you so much! It means a lot to both of us!
Luvya- Welcome aboard! We hope that you’ll stick around! Thank you for your kind words! Max had every right to move on as Liz did and for her to think otherwise she will know she is wrong
Martine- I do that all the time…I read and then forget! But I will assume you have read just as I hope that you know the same!! I know I am sorry, she did move on and she blamed Max because it was easier to blame him than to take responsibility for her part in it. And while it was no ones fault but Michael and Tony’s, sometimes it’s hard to realize that. Oh we assure you a dreamer end, and Max doesn’t love Steph the way he loves Liz, no one really loves anyone the same, but he does love her and right now he realizes that he made a commitment to her that he has to keep.
Frenchkiss70- She sure did have a way with her words didn’t she!! LOL thanks for the feedback it’s appreciated!

On with the chapter...

CHAPTER 8

The shocked expression on Maria’s face only angered Liz more. “You heard me, Maria! Just who in the hell do you think you are?”

Maria had expected Liz to be angry, but she wasn’t fully prepared for the mild tantrum Liz was throwing. “Obviously you’re angry about what I said, Liz, but I’m not going to discuss this any further until you calm down.”

“Too bad, because I’m not planning on calming down anytime soon! How dare you? You’re supposed to be my best friend, Maria!”

“In other words, I’m supposed to tell you exactly what you want to hear, when you want to hear it, regardless of what I actually think?” Maria asked coolly.

“That’s not what I said and you know it.” Liz retorted.

“But isn’t it? Do you have any clue how long I’ve been holding my opinions inside, because I didn’t want to upset you? Well I’m sorry, Liz, but enough is enough. I am your friend and that’s why I said what I did…you needed to hear it.” Maria walked past Liz and sat down on the couch. This conversation had been a long time coming and it wasn’t going to be easy.

Kyle had just been standing there, completely clueless as to what they were arguing about. “Maria, what’s going on?” He decided to ask Maria instead of Liz, hoping he might actually get the truth.

Maria had forgotten Kyle had been standing there, but in a way maybe he needed to hear this too. She wasn’t going to be the one to tell him why Liz was so upset, but she could only hope that Liz would finally be honest with him and herself. “I’m sorry, Kyle. I didn’t mean to raise my voice in your home, but I’m afraid Liz and I aren’t agreeing on a few things right now.”

“Like?” Kyle asked again, but now Maria looked away from him and over to Liz. He stood there for a minute, watching the glares being passed back and forth between the two women and spoke up again. “Look, I want to know what’s going on, so which one of you is going to tell me?”

Finally, Liz turned around to meet Kyle’s eyes. “It’s nothing…really.”

Kyle ran a hand through his hair, growing more frustrated by the minute. “Liz, I know something is going on and I want to know what it is. I’m not stupid and I…”

“Kyle,” Liz interrupted, “it’s all just a misunderstanding. If you could just give us some time to talk…I would really appreciate it.”

It was obvious he wasn’t going to get any answers out of Liz for the time being, so Kyle accepted the defeat and agreed to leave them alone. “I’m gonna head for the gym…I’ll be back in about an hour.” Inside his heart was breaking. Kyle loved Liz with everything he had, and he wasn’t a total fool…he was certain all of the secrets Liz had been keeping involved Max. He bent down and kissed Liz’s cheek, grabbed his keys, and walked out the door before Liz could see just how upset he was.

Once Kyle had left, Liz whipped back around to face Maria. “I think you owe me an explanation. We’ve been friends since we were children, so I don’t understand how you could be so cruel.”

Maria didn’t look up to face Liz, but instead picked at her nails. “I’m not the one being cruel, Liz. You called me and I came running to Roswell so I could be here for you, but if you expected me to just stand by, smile and nod, and pretend everything was fine…you were wrong.” Maria looked up at Liz with tears in her eyes. The last ten years had been hell on them all, and what Maria wanted most was to let the past go once and for all. “Maybe I could’ve been a little more careful when telling you what I thought, but I’ve been subtle for ten years, Liz…you only hear what you want to hear.”

“That’s not true, Maria…I hear you.” Liz sat down in a pout. She knew Maria was right, but she wasn’t ready to admit it.

“Liz…Michael’s dead. He’s dead and he’s never coming back. Out of all of us, you’re the only one that has never come to terms with that. Maybe it’s because Max left, maybe it’s because you weren’t ready to face it…honestly I don’t know, but I do know that it’s time to move on.” Maria stood up and walked around the living room as she talked. “When Michael died I thought my life was over, Liz. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t handle anything, and that’s why I made the mistakes I did.” She paused to think back to the night Max had come by to see her. She’d been upset, and yes she’d been angry, but it wasn’t with Max. In reality, she’d always been angry with Michael. “I blamed Max too at first. I blamed him because he was the easy target. My boyfriend, the love of my life, was gone and there Max was…alive. It just didn’t seem fair, but it wasn’t his fault, Liz…it was Michael’s.”

Liz’s mouth dropped open at Maria’s comment. “How can you say that?”

“Because it’s true. I begged him not to race, but he did it anyway. Blaming him for what he did doesn’t mean I wanted him to die…it just means I’ve accepted the fact that he was old enough to know better.” Visions of that day swam around in Maria’s mind causing the tears to start flowing again. “If you really think about it you’ll see that Max was the best of us. Was he perfect? No, but whenever one of us needed anything it was always Max to the rescue. He never would’ve let anyone of us down the way we let him down, Liz, and I think you know that in your heart. That’s why I said the things I did. You let him down more than any of us. We were all guilty of blaming him when we should’ve been thanking God for not taking him away from us, but you’re the reason he left Roswell.”

Liz opened her mouth to defend herself, but shut it quickly. Maria’s words were tearing her apart, but only because she knew Maria was right.

Maria sat back down on the living room couch and stared at Liz. “I know you think I’m saying this to hurt you, but I’m not. After the accident Max went through a really rough time, we all did, but I don’t think he would’ve run unless he felt it was his only option. He would’ve stayed here, and despite the hurt and pain he was going through, he would’ve taken care of the rest of us…it’s just who he was. Unfortunately, after that night in the cemetery he couldn’t bear the thought of staying. He’d just lost his best friend, and now his girlfriend was turning on him too…what would you have done? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Have you ever put yourself in his position for even a second?”

Liz met Maria’s eyes and shook her head. “No.” She whispered.

Maria took a deep breath, let it out, and continued. “I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve laid awake, staring at the ceiling, wondering what I would’ve done if the roles had been reversed. I’ve spent years thinking about what I would say to Max if I ever saw him again, and today I finally had the chance to put something to rest that should’ve been let go years ago. I know you’re upset that Max is with Stephanie, but you didn’t exactly live the life of a nun, Liz. You both went through something horrible and you needed someone to lean on…that’s it. If I had to guess…I’d say Stephanie has been as much of a lifeboat to Max as Kyle’s been to you. It doesn’t mean his love for you ever changed…it means he needed someone there to support him because none of us ever did.”

Now it was Liz sitting there, playing with her fingernails. Maria was right, she could pretend she wasn’t, but in the end it was clear. “I guess I never looked at it that way.” She said quietly.

Maria stood up, walked over to Liz, and wrapped her arms around her best friend. “I know you didn’t…and if there had been an easier way to tell you then I would’ve. You need to try and understand why he’s done the things he’s done, and quit blaming him for something that happened a decade ago. If you don’t…you’ll lose him all over again.” Maria lifted Liz’s chin until their eyes met. “Let go of the past, honey, and figure out where you want the future to go.”

Liz laughed through her tears and hugged Maria tightly. “When did you get so wise?” She teased.

“It’s California, honey…that and a large bill from my shrink.”

Liz laughed again and smiled at Maria. “Maybe I should get one of those.”

“Right now…I think you could use all the help you can get.”

They sat there for a while, crying and holding onto one another. They might’ve been through hell, but at least now they could finally start to heal.

~*~*~*~*~

Stephanie glanced out the passenger side window toward the brightly lit house and her heart sank. Only days ago she’d imagined coming here to meet her new family, and now that might never be a possibility. Finally, she pulled her gaze away from the house and looked at Max. He’d been quiet for most of the drive from the cemetery to his parents’ house, only speaking up to point out things around town. It was a nice town, one she could easily picture herself raising a family in, but she was trying her best to push those thoughts aside for the moment and concentrate on right now. “Are you ok?” She asked softly.

Max had in fact been lost in his own thoughts, but the sadness in Stephanie’s voice brought him back to the moment. “Yeah…just thinking.”

This was the moment she’d been dreading, but she had to be strong. Hopefully, Max would be straightforward with her, so she could at least leave him with an ounce of her pride still in tact. “I want you to know that I understand. I’m hurt and I can’t deny that, but I know you never intended to come back here and fall out of love with me. That’s if you ever were in love with me.” Just saying the words ripped through her heart.

“Stephanie,” Max turned sideways until he was facing her. “Of course I love you…there’s never been any question in my mind about that.”

Stephanie couldn’t look him in the eyes any longer, so she lowered her head. “Max, please…this is hard enough as it is.”

“But, Steph…”

“No.” She held a hand up, not wanting to hear any excuses. “I understand that this wasn’t intentional, but you hurt me, Max. I loved you and I waited for you through everything. I thought if I was patient enough you would finally wake up to what was right in front of you and you did…I just never expected it to be so briefly. I still think I’m what’s best for you, and I think you’ll regret letting me go someday, but I’m not going to beg you to stay with me…I can’t. At the very least, I deserve better than that.”

Max sat there quietly, letting her words penetrate the surface, but instead of feeling relief, he felt pain. He loved Steph and that hadn’t changed. She’d been his rock and his happiness through the worst time in his life, and he wasn’t ready to let that go. He’d never stopped loving Liz, and that was something he couldn’t deny, but he had moved on and planned a life with Steph. While he understood that it wasn’t fair to string her along, he hadn’t made up his mind to let her go either. “Steph, I haven’t…”

“Just tell me where we stand right now…I won’t beg you to stay with me, but if you really do love me then I will stay and fight for the life we’ve made together.” It was her final statement on the matter…it was up to Max now.

Max took a deep breath and smiled at the beautiful woman sitting in front of him. “First of all, I do love you and that hasn’t changed. I know I’m confused right now because I jumped right back into a world I thought I’d let go, but it doesn’t mean I’m ready to call it quits. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t have feelings for Liz, because I always have. She was my first love and we never really ended things between us, but you are my life now. I can’t make you any promises right now which I know makes me a total asshole, but I’m asking you to give me some time. If you can’t, then I understand because it’s an unfair position to put you in, but I don’t want to jump right into a decision that could easily be the wrong one. So…I’m asking you to wait…not long, but wait. Let me get my head clear, and I promise I will be completely honest with you about how I’m feeling.”

It wasn’t at all what she’d expected him to say, so she had to let it process for a minute. The words were almost music to her ears! True, he wasn’t promising her a future, but he wasn’t running back to his past either. She refused to be his doormat, but since he did love her she was willing to fight for what was hers. If Liz Parker had thought for a single minute that she would take this lying down and slink away…she’d been wrong. “I’ll stay,” she watched as his face lit up, “for now. I won’t beg you to pick me, but if you really think we have something worth fighting for, then I’m not going to run away.”

“Good.” Max smiled and reached for her hand. She was still wearing the engagement ring he’d given her and for now it was exactly where it belonged. He brought her hand up to his lips and kissed it.

“So…what was second?” She questioned.

“Oh…my family is in there waiting for us. We’re all having dinner together so they could meet my fiancé.” He winked at her when he saw her blush. “Shall we?”

Stephanie smiled and flipped open the visor to look in the mirror. Quickly, she touched up her lipstick and was ready by the time Max came around and opened her door. “Ready.” It wasn’t what she’d dreamed about, but it wasn’t over yet.

~*~*~*~*~

Dinner was interesting, to say the least. Every time Stephanie thought she was finally catching her breath, one of the Evans would ask her something else or tell her another funny story about Max when he was a baby. They were a riot and Stephanie was enjoying herself immensely. With Max coming back the way he did after disappearing ten years earlier, Stephanie was prepared for them to be cold or aloof, but it was just the opposite. They wanted to know everything about her!

After dinner, Diane invited all of them to join her in the living room for coffee and more conversation. As Stephanie stood up from the table with her plate she noticed Max grinning at her from across the room. He looked so at peace among his family, telling jokes, and eagerly describing how the two of them had met and where. Coming into this house tonight she’d felt so vulnerable and worried, but the Evans family had completely put her at ease, treating her as if she was already part of the family.

By the time she reached the living room, Diane had already pulled out several photo albums and had scattered them across the floor for Stephanie to see. Phillip was sitting a few feet away, relaxing in his recliner and peeking down at the baby pictures Diane kept pulling out. Isabel, Max’s sister and bride-to-be, was there too, sitting on the couch chatting with each of them, while juggling the phone that had permanently been sealed to her earlobe. Her fiancé, Alex, had flopped down on the couch and was currently flipping through every possible channel on the television, but still managing to focus some attention on Isabel as she grilled him about wedding details. It felt like a real home. The kind of home she hoped she would have with Max.

She talked and laughed with Diane as they went through the thousands of pictures, but she could feel Max’s gaze settled on her. She glanced over her shoulder at him, and saw him watching contently as his family made a large fuss over her. This was exactly what she’d been waiting for.

As the hours passed, Stephanie couldn’t help but laugh at Alex making jokes about the wedding. He sat there watching and listening while Isabel called to torment the caterer, the florist, etc. and seemed to find the entire situation rather amusing. Isabel’s face was red with anger and she had started pacing the room, but not him. When he noticed Stephanie smirking, he leaned into her and whispered in her ear.

“Food $300, flowers $400, the look on your fiancé’s face while planning your wedding…priceless.” Stephanie laughed while Alex rolled his eyes. “She’s a Nazi…I swear!”

“Excuse me?” Stephanie asked, choking on a bite of pie Diane had given her a minute before.

Max started to laugh, so Alex continued. “It’s true, she is. She’s always been like this and will continue to be like this. At first it was just Christmas, and then it became the little things, and now she is officially the Wedding Nazi! People in town actually fear her now.” Alex stated, shaking his head. “Yep, Max…your sister’s crazy.”

Stephanie smiled, but didn’t know what to think. Were they serious? Isabel seemed to be a little insane, but calling her a Nazi was a bit much. “Max! You should be defending your sister.” She teased.

“Me? Why? I don’t have to live with her.”


“Thanks for the support, man.” Alex said when Isabel walked by and slapped him against the head.

“Sorry, dude…thought you’d know better by now.” Max was practically falling out of his chair because he was laughing so hard at the two of them.

“Yeah,” Alex rubbed the side of his head, “you’d think so.”

Stephanie didn’t want this night to end. Her trip to Roswell had started out rocky, but things were definitely looking up.

~*~*~*~*~

Kyle had been driving around for over two hours trying to clear his head. There were so many things going through his mind that it was difficult to keep them all straight. The last few days since Max had arrived back in town had been absolutely miserable for him. In the back of his mind he’d always known Liz had never gotten over Max Evans, but it was a lot harder to ignore now that he was back.

He could see them so clearly, staring at each other across the table earlier as if no one else existed. Thankfully, Maria had kept the conversation moving, so he couldn’t dwell on it then. Had he sat back and really thought about what was going on before his very eyes, he might’ve hit Max just on principal.

He knew Liz was keeping things from him and he was almost positive that’s why she’d been arguing with Maria, but what could he do? He could leave, but then he would lose Liz for certain. Then again, if he stayed he might still lose her. Neither option was what he wanted, but he couldn’t let things continue the way they were going.

He pulled into the driveway slowly, and grabbed his gym bag as he climbed out of his car. It had been a while so he’d expected Liz and Maria to be in bed, but Liz was sitting on the couch waiting for him when he came through the door. He set his keys on the table in the foyer and threw his bag over the back of the couch before taking a seat across from her. She started to open her mouth, but Kyle spoke up before she could.

“Liz…we need to talk.”

TBC
Last edited by SAFIRESKYE26 on Sun Jan 08, 2006 12:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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SAFIRESKYE26
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Post by SAFIRESKYE26 » Wed Oct 05, 2005 11:30 am

Yay :D We're finally back :D I know it's been awhile, but RL has made it almost impossible to find any time for either one of us to write :( Hopefully (I know I always say this) things will calm down and we'll be able to post more regularly, but for now...who knows :? Anyway, we both hope you enjoy the chapter and as always feedback is very much appreciated!!!

Now, a note from Amy (God bless her! She's the good one :wink: )


Timelord31- Thank you!
g7silvers- Yeah Liz is broken, and while Max has had time to heal he still isn’t whole. Liz did need to hear those things and maybe things would have been different. It is a shame it has taken them 10 years!
roswck- It made perfect sense and you were right. They are in love with people who are in love with other people. Everyone is going to be hurt, not just the ones who are with them.
begonia9508- He came back to let the past go, only he isn’t letting it go very well is he?
Ellie- Yes, much pain and angst…get ready!!! LOL, you are right in what you said. Liz has a long way to go before she gets ready to face the consequences of her actions, but she will get there. Thanks for the well wishes!
Alien614- Thank you!
martine- You are right, no one but Maria could've told Liz all of what she needed to hear. I'm not sure she would have listened to anyone else. Stephanie just wants an answer and she has to get it out of him. Most people wouldn’t stand for their fiancé doing it to them, she's the same, well kind of! Thanks for the well wishes! Still don’t feel good! LOL!
frenchkiss70- Dreamer ending assured here! It might not look good now, but things will start to look up for them all.
Emz80m- Emma, I feel ya on that one…not sticking around, but she is doing what she feels is right I guess…hmmm I don’t know! That's sad because I am writing her! But you're right, Liz and Maria were in much need of their talk.
icequeen- I like her too…and I knew I could get you to like her, now we have to work on you liking Maria in this one…lol. I like anti-Liz rants…they are awesome!! And that was great…grading everyone!! I love it!!
Maxsgurl- Jennifer!! Thanks for the healing thoughts. Stephanie is a good woman with a good heart, and well Kyle is too…just hasn’t shown it so far, but he will.
Carebear79- Amen to that!!! Mel is a diehard dreamer and while I am not a fan of Miss Parkers I am a dreamer and it isn’t right for her to be with anyone other than Max.
Roswell 10/2/00- Sorry it took so long :cry:
RoswellLover4ever- Here is more!!
janesdilemma- hmmm what can I say…other than I'm thinking you are MIA only you are probably thinking the same thing about me…lol! And whatever she tells you…she is not going to make me love the cliffies!! LOL! Miss you too, get your butt in gear…but I guess you will have tons of time starting next month!
brighteyes- Thank you!
POM- Thank you…glad to see you here!!
Ellie and g7slivers- We appreciate the support and encouragement!

**It's Melyssa again *waves* to everyone :lol: See, I told you she's the good one...I have no patience. I know...100 lashes :shock: Well, I just had two really short comments to make and then off to the story!**

Carebear79- I think you have a totally clear view of the characters that Amy and I are trying to portray! Before we ever wrote a single word on this fic we made notes on each character and how we planned to develop them...it's obvious you can see them. Also, thank you for seeing both sides of the story. Everyone knows there are many sides to the truth!!!
janesdilemma- Steph!!! Just so you know it was because of your novel length feedback that I was so determined that Amy and I finish this chapter :wink: We worked really hard on it and I hope you still think we're doing you justice :) Btw, don't listen to Amy...I will turn her to the dark side of the force where cliffies reside :twisted:

On with it...

CHAPTER 9

Max looked across the bed at Stephanie while they both tucked the sheet around the mattress. She was quiet and distant, not that she didn’t have a good reason to be, but for the first time in years he couldn’t tell what she was thinking. She’d glanced up at him a few times and smiled, but there was something in her eyes he didn’t recognize.

Stephanie finished pulling the sheets up on her side and sat down. She wanted so badly to tell Max to go, but truthfully she didn’t want him to leave. Spending time with his family tonight had been wonderful, but it had also made the situation more unbearable. What if his choice went the other way? What if he decided his heart was still with Liz Parker? She loved Max deeply and wanted to be a part of him and his family, but her lingering doubt made it hard to be hopeful. If she could be mad at him it would make things so much less complicated, but Stephanie knew he hadn’t come back here with any intentions to hurt her, and at least he’d been honest with her about his mixed emotions. His honesty might not make it hurt any less in the end, but at least she wouldn’t feel like a total fool, following blindly along beside him while everyone knew who his heart really belonged to.

“You, ok?” Max questioned, finally breaking the silence between them.

She could be honest…or she could lie. “I really don’t know, Max.” She stood back up and picked the pillows up off the floor to put pillowcases on them, anything to keep her hands busy. “Don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing time with your family tonight, and they made me feel very welcome.”

“But?” He could hear the hurt and doubt in her voice, which only deepened his feelings of guilt.

Stephanie took a deep breath, and then sighed. “But maybe I liked them too much.” When she saw the questioning expression on Max’s face she continued. “I’ve wanted to meet your family for so long, and please understand that I’m glad I did…but it just makes everything harder. I know you love me, Max, and we’ve had six wonderful years together, but you see…I want forever and that’s not a promise you can make to me right now.”

“Steph, I never meant to…”

She held up a hand to stop him before he started another one of his long apologies. They were just words, and even if he did mean them it didn’t mean he would choose her. “Stop, Max. I know you never meant for this to happen, but it is. You can say you’re sorry a thousand times and it won’t change the fact that I’ll probably lose you. Can you even imagine how awkward I’m feeling right now?” Max shook his head and looked down at the floor. She knew how guilty he already felt, but she had to get this out and she needed him to hear it. “I fly into town to surprise my fiancé only to find out that his true love is still here and obviously pining away for him,” she saw him start to interrupt, but she held her hand up again, stopping him before he could speak, “and while I’ll give you credit for being honest with me, it still hurts. Then, I have an amazing dinner with his family, who already make me feel like part of the family, and now I’m sleeping in his sister’s, the bride to be, room. Come on, Max…what if I put you through the same shit, huh?”

Max slowly sat down on the other side of the bed. “I’d feel like shit. I’d be hurt and angry…and I’d feel like shit.” He admitted.

Stephanie walked around the bed and sat down beside him. “Ok…so what would you do if you were in my position?”

“Honestly?”

“Honestly.”

Without thinking, Max blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “Well, being a guy, I’d kick the other guy’s ass and fight like hell for the woman I loved.”

Stephanie chuckled and nudged him in the side. “Good answer. So now when I tell you I’m not giving up without a fight, and that I’m gonna give Miss Parker a run for her money…you’ll understand.” She stood up, turned around, bent over to kiss Max, and then headed for the bathroom feeling much better.

Max sat there for a minute trying to figure out what had just happened, and then it finally sank in. “Dammit, Evans! When are you ever gonna learn to keep your mouth shut?” He fell backwards on the bed and rested his arms underneath his head. Yep, he’d definitely made a mess of this one. Dammit, Michael! I wish you were here now.

~*~*~*~*~

Liz stood up and walked past Kyle, quickly giving him a kiss on the cheek. “I’m sorry you had to leave earlier, but Maria and I had some things to deal with. It won’t happen again.” She reached into the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of water, and then stood at the counter drinking it.

Kyle knew this was going to be hard, that’s why he’d been driving around trying to clear his head, but it had to be done. “You’re right…it won’t.”

Liz smiled and walked to him and patted his arm. “I’m beat. You ready to go to bed?”

Kyle gently removed her hand and took a step back. “I don’t think you understood what I meant, so I’ll make myself more clear. What happened tonight won’t happen again because I’m leaving…I’m leaving you, Liz.”

“But why?” Liz was absolutely shocked. This was the last thing she’d ever expected to hear coming from Kyle.

“Why? Because believe it or not I do have some pride, Liz. I’m not going to stick around and let you make a fool out of me, which is exactly what you would do. Whether it would be intentional or not I don’t really know, but I’d be one hell of an asset to keep around to make your precious Max jealous, wouldn’t I?”

Liz walked past him again and sat down on the couch. She wasn’t about to admit he was right, but she couldn’t look him in the eyes. “That’s not true, Kyle, and you should know me better than that.”

“That’s just it, Liz…I do. Don’t you think I know I’ve been a stand in for him all these years? I’m not stupid, Liz! I just hoped that one day you’d come around and see what you had right in front of you, but you didn’t. That’s my fault because I thought I could love enough for the both of us, but I guess it doesn’t work that way. I’m not going to stand here and blame you for wasting years of my life, I did that, but I can stop wasting my future on a woman who will never love me.” It was the truth and he knew it, but letting Liz go had never been in his plans.

Liz didn’t know what to say. Everything he said was in fact true, but she’d honestly never meant to hurt him. “I’m so sorry, Kyle. I didn’t realize I…I never meant…” she couldn’t find the right words. After everything, Kyle deserved more than this, but she didn’t know where to start. “I want you to know that I did try to let him go.” It wasn’t much, but it was honest.

Kyle shook his head in agreement. “I know you did, but we don’t choose the ones we love. If you could’ve let him go I would’ve made you happy. I would’ve given you a great life, Liz, but I don’t hate you.” He assured her. “I’m hurt right now, but I don’t hate you.”

Liz felt the first tear run down her cheek. Maybe if he would just scream at her she would feel better, but instead he was the same gentle Kyle he’d always been with her. “Where will you go?”

“Well…for a few nights I’m gonna stay with my dad, but we’re going to have to make some decisions about the apartment soon. Neither of us can afford this neighborhood on just one salary.”

“True, especially on mine. I’ll start looking around for a new place.” Liz loved the home they’d made here, but she could never afford it on her own. Even if she were able to get Max back, he’d never want to live in the same place she’d been sharing with Kyle.

Kyle knelt down in front of her and brushed away her tears. “For now, let’s just make it through the wedding, ok?”

“Ok. Thank you, Kyle.” She whispered.

“For what?”

“For seeing what I couldn’t, and for not hating me once everyone else opened my eyes to what was in my heart.”

Kyle sighed. Sometimes being the good guy and doing the right thing sucked. “I’ll always love you, Liz, and it’s because of that love that I can’t hate you. I just hope Evans realizes how amazing you are and that he belongs with you…he always has.” Kyle started to stand up, but Liz pulled him into a hug.

“Thank you, Kyle.”

“Anytime.”

Maria had been eavesdropping from the hallway for almost ten minutes, so she’d pretty much witnessed everything. While she knew it was wrong to snoop, she had just seen a side of her stepbrother she never would’ve known about otherwise. In that moment, she vowed that she would find Kyle the woman of his dreams…it was now her mission in life.

~*~*~*~*~

Max could still hear his parents’ voices downstairs, so regardless of the time he went down to talk to them. He was a grown man now, but he was willing to listen to all the advice he could get…even if it was his Mom’s and Dad’s.

His parents hadn’t heard him come down the stairs, but the instant they saw him enter the family room they both hushed up. It was obvious that whatever they’d been talking about, they didn’t want Max to know. Slowly, he sauntered across the room and plopped down on the sofa across from them as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Phillip glanced at his wife before settling his eyes on his son. “I hope we didn’t keep you up, Max…we didn’t realize we were being so loud.”

“Oh no…you weren’t being loud. Actually, I practically had to strain my neck to catch what you were saying from the top of the stairs.” It was difficult, but Max managed to hold back his laughter.

Phillip suddenly got very nervous and started fidgeting around in his recliner. “Now, Max, I don’t know what you think you heard,” Phillip glanced back toward Diane, but she was concentrating on sewing a button back onto his pants and obviously determined to stay out of this conversation, “but let me explain.”

“You know, Dad,” Max lifted himself up on one elbow and looked his father up and down, “You look really guilty right now.”

“Well, maybe it’s none of my business, but I’m just concerned that,” Phillip paused again and looked at Diane. The moment he saw her grin he glared at Max. “Exactly what did you hear from up there?”

Max grinned and looked at his mom. “I didn’t say I heard anything. I said I practically had to strain my neck to listen, unfortunately I still couldn’t hear anything.” He winked at Diane, who was trying to hide her own giggle, and then looked back at his dad.

Phillip shook his head and smiled too. “Between you and your sister, you always were the devious one.”

“Hey, now I’m offended. I come down here in need of help and advice from my parents and this is what I get?” Max pretended to pout, causing his mother to laugh again.

“Oh, Max…your father’s right, you always were a little devil.”

“But I was cute, so you let me get away with it.” He winked again and relaxed a little. It felt like old times right now. Teasing his dad, making his mom laugh, and just lounging around in a room he’d spent countless hours as a child.

Phillip watched as Max’s expression changed from playful to lost. In a single moment, he seemed to have drifted away. “What’s on your mind, Max?”

Max rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. “Probably the same thing you and Mom were talking about before I barged in.”

“That depends,” Phillip started, but wasn’t sure how to put his next thought, “which woman were you thinking about?”

“Do you really think it’s possible to separate the two right now?” Max shot back.

Phillip took in a deep breath and thought about it for a minute. “No, Max…I guess it’s not, but that’s what you’re going to have to do.”

Max sat up and threw both legs off the couch. “You make it sound so easy, but it’s not. I love them both, Dad.”

“I can’t say that I blame you. I’ve known Liz for many years and she’s grown into an extraordinary woman and she’s part of this family, but seeing you with Stephanie tonight I could understand the confusion. She’s amazing, Max. Smart, beautiful, witty, and she has so many other qualities that would make her a wonderful wife.”

“But?”

“But nothing. You have two absolutely amazing women in your life that both love you, and we’d be proud to welcome either one into our family. You’re a very lucky man to have found gold twice.”

“You’re not helping.” Max growled as he flopped back onto the cushions.

“Max,” Diane decided maybe it was time for some motherly advice, and for once Max seemed open to it, “let me try to put it a different way. If you came down here to see who we favored more to help you make your decision, well you’re tough out of luck. We just met Stephanie tonight, so we don’t have the time with her that we’ve had with Liz, but she does seem amazing, and she obviously loves you very much. The question you have to answer now, Max, is where does your heart lie? I know when you were younger it was always with Liz, but that was many years ago. Is it Liz Parker you love or the memory of the girl you knew?”

“I don’t know.” He mumbled.

“To be honest with you, Max, I’m torn about giving you any advice on this one. Part of me says that six years is a long time to be with someone to just leave her in limbo while you choose who you want to be with. It’s not fair to give Stephanie false hope if you’re planning on running back to Liz in the end. But on the other hand, I feel like you need to get to know who Liz is now before you decide anything permanent. She may be a very different person than she was when you two were together many years ago. I wouldn’t want to see you toss Stephanie aside hastily, especially when you’re not completely certain about Liz. There’s no doubt you have a tough decision ahead of you, but it has to be yours.”

Max was just as confused as he’d been coming down the stairs, seeking his parents’ wisdom. “So let me get this straight…it’s wrong to lead Steph on after six years if Liz is the one I want, but I shouldn’t jump to conclusions about Liz since I don’t know her anymore, and obviously I shouldn’t throw away happiness with Steph until I’m sure about Liz…sound about right?”

Diane rolled her eyes and went back to sewing the button on Phillip’s pants. “When you say it like that it doesn’t make very much sense.”

“Admit it, Mom…no one’s getting out of this easily and without a broken heart, even me. Believe it or not, I do love Steph, and she’s been good to me. So how do I choose between my soul mate and the woman who brought me back to life?”

“I don’t know, honey, but if I were you I’d think fast before the women decide to take matters into their own hands.”

Max closed his eyes and let Steph’s words ring in his ears. “I know, Mom. Believe me…I know.”

~*~*~*~*~

Maria had given Liz some time alone while Kyle had packed some of his things, but now that he was gone she finally made her way out into the living room. “You ok, sweetie?”

“How much did you hear?”

“Enough,” Liz looked at Maria and squinted her eyes, “ok so I heard it all! Sue me. I didn’t mean to hear…it just sort of…happened.”

Liz smiled slightly and stared off into nowhere again. “Well…Kyle’s gone, now what?”

Maria sat down on the couch and scooted toward Liz until she was close enough to put her arm around Liz’s shoulder. “Now we figure out how to get you and Max back together. Anyone that ever knew the two of you knows you belong together, so I think it’s just a matter of time before he realizes it too.”

“How can you be so sure?” Liz questioned.

Maria didn’t want to give out too much information yet, after all that’s how the best plans get ruined. “Let’s just say I’m on it.”

“Maria.”

“Trust me…I think I have this one covered.”

Liz turned her head and met Maria’s eyes. “Trust you? Why are those words so frightening when they come out of your mouth?”

“Have faith, honey…I have a plan.” Maria pulled Liz’s head gently until it rested on her shoulder, and then began to smooth the hair away from her face. One way or another, I’m gonna fix this.

~*~*~*~*~

Talking to his parents hadn’t helped at all and Max wasn’t ready to go back upstairs and risk running into Steph again tonight, so instead he went outside and sat on the swing in the backyard. Out here everything seemed so peaceful, he wished life were so simple.

“Hiding again, huh?”

“I’m not hiding. I’m thinking and avoiding…it’s different.”

“I don’t think so. I mean I may be out of the loop, but it sure as hell feels like you’re hiding. Admit it, Maxwell…you suck with the ladies.”

“I do not. Right now I can see why it would appear that way, but I’ve always been great with women.” Max insisted.

Right. I’m sorry, but exactly how long did it take for you to get Liz to agree to go out with you?”

“Hey! That’s a low blow even for you. It’s not my fault she was playing hard to get.” Max retorted.

“No, that’s not what she was playing. She was playing look at this pitiful puppy dog following me around with his tongue hangin’ out.”

“You’re such an ass.” Max stood up and began to pace back and forth.

“Yep, and you’ve always loved me for it.”

Max stopped pacing and stood face to face with him. “Where the hell you been, man? It’s been like three years…I’ve missed you.”

Michael sat down on the swing Max had vacated and stretched out. “You didn’t need me anymore, so I didn’t need to be hangin’ around so much. You were finally getting your life back on track, and I knew me hangin’ around wasn’t helping.”

“Well if that’s true, why are you here now?”

“I’m here now ‘cause you need me. Maxwell, you’re life’s turning to shit. In less than a week that wonderful new life you’d built for yourself in Florida has come crumbling down. You’re back here in Roswell and more confused than ever.” Michael used one foot to push off the bar on the swing so it would start rocking slowly.

Max knew he was right, he was always right. Somehow, Michael always understood what was going on in his head in a way he never could. “I just wish you were really here, man. Isabel’s getting married, to Alex no less…you should be here. If you were still here we’d probably both be married with a kid or two by now.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Don’t you go plannin’ my future for me. What if I’m not ready to get married?”

Max shook his head and laughed. “Dude, you’re dead. Not even Maria can bitch at you for not marrying her yet.”

“Good point. You know, I’ll bet if you ever pointed that out to her it would piss her off.” Michael chuckled, already imagining the look on her face. “I know I took her for granted when I was alive…you don’t know what I’d give to be able to touch her and to kiss her one more time.” Michael sat up and stopped the swing’s motion with his foot.

“Actually, man…I think I do know. For ten years Liz has been like a ghost, haunting my every memory, but now…now she’s here and I have the chance to try and win her back. I have a second chance.” Max mumbled under his breath, staring at the ground.

Michael stood up and walked over to face Max again. “Then what are you waiting for?”

Even as the words left Michael’s mouth, Max heard the patio door behind him open, then close. When he turned around he was a little surprised to see Steph standing there, still awake. “I thought you were asleep.”

“I thought you were asleep. We were both wrong.” Slowly, Stephanie walked the short distance across the yard to where Max was standing. “I thought I heard you talking to someone.” Stephanie looked around, but there was no one there.

Knowing that Michael had vanished again saddened Max, but he had to deal with what was real and what was right in front of him. “No…just practicing my best man speech. I know I’ve got a few days left, but my sister only gets married once.”

“Actually…your sister is the reason I’m out here.”

“Isabel? Why?” Max asked confused.

“She just called me and,” Stephanie started to explain.

“She called you? This late?” Max interrupted.

Stephanie looked at Max a little funny. His behavior right now was even more peculiar than usual. “Yes, she called me. She wanted to make sure I was planning to stay for the wedding.” She watched him closely to gauge his reaction, but he didn’t seem too surprised.

“So? What’d you tell her?”

Stephanie smiled, feeling relieved that Max hadn’t panicked at the thought of her staying. “I told her I would be honored. Besides, I told you I was going to fight for you, and if I become a member of this family how would it look if I didn’t attend her wedding?”

“Not good I guess.” Max couldn’t help but grin. Stephanie had the most beautiful smile, and standing here in her pink, cotton pajamas and fuzzy slippers, she was pledging to fight for him.

Stephanie rose up onto her tiptoes and kissed Max goodnight. “I’m gonna get some sleep, busy day tomorrow.”

“Busy day…why?” Max had only planned for them to do some more sightseeing, but now he was worried she’d be disappointed. “I haven’t planned anything extravagant.”

“Oh…sorry, but I have to cancel. There’s a dress fitting tomorrow around lunchtime and Isabel wants to make sure I have something really beautiful to wear to the wedding.”

“Dress fitting?” Every warning siren went off in his head, “but that means Liz will be there too…are you sure you won’t feel too uncomfortable?” Who am I kidding? I’m uncomfortable with this!

Stephanie smiled again, but this time it wasn’t so innocent and sweet. “Nope, not at all. I think it’s time Liz Parker and I come to an understanding about my fiancé. Goodnight, babe.” She kissed his cheek again, and then disappeared into the house.

“Ok, Michael…what now?” Max called out into the night air.


TBC
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

MY FICS

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