posted on 11-Aug-2002 4:47:49 PM
Title: Hindsight

Author: Watcher Tara

Disclaimers:
I own nothing... If I did, our show would be gearing up for Season 4.

Spoilers: Anything up to and including Wipeout. (S2)

Author's (really long) Note: Ok, I started this story immediately following Wipeout's original airing. I was still shocked, devastated from the End of The World and certain that though Liz would never willingly tell the others after her promise to FM, the truth would come out. (Little did I know.) I figured the flashes would do it. Remember in Missing, Max got a flash of Kyle in Liz's room just by touching a CD, a seemingly innocent thing. Max explained that sometimes when their emotions were running high, they could get flashes of things and people. Then in Skin and Bones, he and Liz both got flashes from just touching, his hand on her arm, not even kissing. There was no way this could be kept a secret for long, I was certain. (Were the writers even watching the same show we were?) Anyhow, I envisioned a world where Liz had drawn into herself, yet still felt the pressure of ensuring the alien's safety as her personal mission. -After all, it was no longer just their world, but Earth, too that would come under attack if anything happened to one of them.

At one point, I hit a major wall of writer's block and put Hindsight down in favor of TDTTG and Exhaustion, but I think I'm ready to give this one another go. A few people saw it listed on my site as a Coming Soon fic and asked if I would consider posting it here, too and I think you guys would be just the thing I need to get my creative juices flowing.

So, here it is. As always, your comments are more than appreciated, good or bad, I can take it.

Hindsight

Chapter One

June 2001 – seven months after “The End of the World”


“Oh my God, Liz! Look out!”

“Maria!” Liz looked desperately through the smoke trying to locate her friend. The sound of footsteps cautiously moving toward them could be heard off to her right, and Liz silently moved forward praying that the same smoke that was threatening to overcome her would shield her from the aliens. All around them, the shuddering building threatened to collapse. Flames from the lower levels were making the floors incredibly hot under her feet. She prayed that they could make it out in time. Please God, let Max be ok, she thought desperately.

Up ahead, she could dimly make out Maria’s form. Her friend was huddled on the ground, trying futilely to stay under the blanket of smoke where the air was slightly less hazardous. On bare feet, Liz rushed to her.

“Come on,” she whispered. “We’ve got to get out of here.” She pulled Maria up and continued to offer encouragement to her friend as they awkwardly made their way to the exit. “Come on, Maria.”

“I can’t.” Maria was limping badly, in pain everywhere from the fight. Reckless. That’s what she was. Reckless and stupid and Michael was going to kill her.

“Yes, you can. You have to. Now move!” Liz ordered. Her current plan ran only to getting the two of them outside and away from the deadly gasses that were making it impossible to breathe. Oh, and hiding from the aliens who were determined to kill them. That was pretty much the rest of the plan, but one thing at a time. The doorway loomed in front of them. She anticipated the heat in the metal doorknob, and used the bottom of her coat as protection against it.

She had not, however, anticipated the wall of flames that rose in front of her on its other side. “Dear God,” she breathed.

“Liz?” Maria lifted her head to see what the delay was. Her eyes widened in terror. “Oh no. We are not going that way.”

“We have to.”

“But Liz…” Her plea fell on deaf ears. Liz was busy stripping off her jacket and draping it over their heads to protect their hair from the flames. “Liz, are you crazy? This is suicide. This is insane.”

“We can’t stay here.” As if to emphasize her point, part of the wall on the other side of the room fell in with a deafening roar. “Besides, I’ve seen worse.” She was trying to be optimistic for her friend’s sake.

“Oh yeah? Where? Hell?” As always Maria’s wit was sharp enough to cut stone.

Liz wanted to grab Maria in a fierce hug and tell her, “I love you,” but there would be time to fall apart later. Right now, she needed to stay strong and focused on the task at hand. Their lives depended on it.

Holding the jacket firmly in place, the two girls took a deep breath and plunged forward through the flames. They sprinted through the hall and down the stairs. Downstairs, the flames weren’t as bad, but they didn’t slow down, not one bit. When they cleared the entranceway, Liz heard several voices shouting at them and was beyond relieved to see their friends were safe. She fell with Maria to the ground and they rolled a short way to extinguish any flames that might have been on their clothes.

Michael was the first to reach them with Alex right behind. “Are you ok?” The question was for both of them, though his eyes were on Maria as he said it.

“Maria’s hurt.”

“So are you,” Alex said, brushing Liz’s hair off her face.

Isabel joined them as Michael launched into a stinging lecture on how Maria was to never put herself at risk like that again. Ignoring them, Liz looked around. “Where are Max and Tess?” she asked.

“Max is in the back, looking for stragglers. I swear, Liz, we didn’t know you were in trouble out here.” This from Isabel, who’d only just arrived and was obviously frightened by the terrible destruction surrounding them, knowing it had all begun as an elaborate trap… for her and the others. She reached for Liz, to check her friend for injuries, but the other girl was already rolling away, getting to her knees in the dry, unkept grass and weeds surrounding the enflamed building.

“I know.” She looked back toward the building as hot ashes rained down on them. The old structure was nearly engulfed in flames. “Where’s Tess?” Liz asked again.

“We don’t know. We haven’t seen her.”

“What?!” Liz jumped to her feet. “She was in there. You mean she hasn’t come out yet?”

“No. No one’s seen her.”

Liz looked quickly from Michael who was still yelling at Maria to Isabel who was staring helplessly at the building as the flames shot higher into the sky. Making a quick decision, the only decision, Liz grabbed her coat from the ground. “Take care of Maria. I’m going to check out back and see if she’s with Max.” If she wasn’t… then God help them all, she thought in despair. Not a day went by that Liz didn’t forcibly remind herself of Tess’s importance to the group. Why it was necessary that she, Liz, had to stay away from Max. Destiny was a bitter word in her mouth, but it came with a responsibility she couldn’t deny. The fate of the world was a constant weight on her shoulders carrying with it an unwanted destiny for her alone.

It might be Max’s destiny to rule on some distant planet with Tess at his side, but it was Liz’s destiny to make sure it happened. More than the others who - one and all - turned their backs to their predetermined fates, Liz accepted hers. She was striving in everyway possible to watch out for the four aliens put into her care to protect by the very person who would deny its necessity the loudest: Max Evans. Her love, her husband in a life she would never know, her soulmate in any life.

Ignoring the way the prickly ground cut into the tender soles of her feet, Liz shot around the corner of the building. She heard Max’s voice shouting out a question, and felt a moment of intense relief that he was safe as the others had said. It was followed by an answer from Sheriff Valenti but there was no sign of Tess anywhere when she got close enough to see them.

More certain than ever that Tess was still in the building, Liz backed up. In a few short minutes, she had found a rock and busted through one of the lower windows. Choking on the billowing smoke, she hoisted herself over the sill. Her bare feet had nowhere to land except for the shards of broken glass from the window she’d just broken. Gritting her teeth against the sharp pain, she lowered herself quickly and as carefully as she could, Liz tiptoed out of the shiny minefield. Once clear of the glittering, razor-sharp carpet, she began running desperately through the old building to where she had last seen the fourth alien.

The crackle of the flames was loud in her hears, drowning out almost every other sound. Twice she stumbled over the bodies of dead aliens who must have succumbed to the smoke. Barely giving them a glance, she continued onward, aware that she was running out of time. She could barely see between the smoke and the tears in her eyes, but it was enough. She managed to avoid smacking into any walls or equipment. And up ahead was the door to the room she was looking for. God help her if Tess had gone to some other place. There wasn’t enough time to check anywhere else.

“Tess.” Liz called out just as a hand clamped down on her shoulder. With a frightened cry, she jumped and turned around. It was one of the aliens. His “Skin” was scorched and peeling off his skeleton. He looked like something out of a Wes Craven nightmare. And smelled worse. A shrill scream rent the air before she could stop it. She shoved against it and it stumbled backward, off balance. Taking advantage of its confusion, she quickly turned back to the door.

Forgetting her jacket, Liz grabbed the metal doorknob with her bare hand, and her palm was immediately and deeply burned. She blocked the pain from her mind and pushed her way into the room. “Tess,” she yelled, looking around for the blond hybrid. The room wasn’t very large, and less than a minute later, Liz was kneeling down where Tess was lying behind a large piece of mechanical equipment.

She was unconscious, blood pooling on the floor underneath her from a head injury. Looking around, Liz couldn’t tell what had happened to the other girl, but the obvious conclusion was that she’d tangled with a Skin and lost. Fortunately, she was still alive.

Coughing against the smoke swirling around them, Liz shook the other girl - hard. “Tess. Can you hear me? You have to wake up. Come on, we have to get out of here. I can’t carry you all by myself. You have to help me. Tess!” Getting no response, Liz deliberately smacked her hard across the face. “Tess. Wake up! Wake up Tess!” Then she hit her on the other cheek.

The other girl groaned in pain, beginning to come to. “Max?”

“Do I look like Max to you?” Liz asked sarcastically. “Come on. We need to get out of here.”

The building gave out another loud groan as Liz pulled Tess shakily to her feet. “We’re getting out of here – now.” Tess wasn’t responding, and Liz took a second to study her. The other girl was shaking, sweating and there was something about her eyes… “Oh no. Can this day get any worse?”

As if in answer to her question, there was a low rumble building from the top floors. The structure was going to come down in seconds if not sooner. The back door was the closest exit, and dragging Tess’s limp body, Liz went to it as fast as she could. The alien that had grabbed her earlier was nowhere to be seen. Liz could only assume it went looking for a way out of the building rather than waiting around for her.

Just as the two of them cleared the doorway to the outside, something flammable inside must have ignited because there was an explosion. The resulting shock waves were the last straw for the abused factory, and the whole thing came down, throwing debris into the air in a thunderous roar. The force of it knocked the two girls a good five feet across the gravel parking lot.

“Liz, Tess!” Suddenly, Max was there, reaching for her. Liz pushed Tess into his startled arms.

She was coughing, trying to force fresh air into her abused lungs, and could only gasp, “Tess… healing stones… heat.” More coughing. “Hurry.” Max needed only one quick glance at Tess to see what Liz was talking about. The heat and smoke from the fire had thrown off the balance in her alien body, and she was still in danger of dying if they didn’t use the healing stones on her right away.

Without another word, Max carried Tess to the front of the house, shouting for Michael and Isabel to start the Jeep.

With the four of them safe – for now, Liz collapsed on the ground. Having been a silent bystander to Liz’s heroic rescue, Sheriff Valenti then urgently checked her vitals before he scooped her up in his arms.

Maria and Alex rode with him to the hospital where she was admitted and promptly treated for smoke inhalation and second and third degree burns.

The two human teens gave not a single thought for the burning building, the evil aliens, nor the uncertain survival of Tess Harding as they sat in strained vigil on the uncomfortable plastic chairs. Instead, they prayed for the well being of their friend whose valiant courage had been the only thing standing between themselves and certain death – or worse. As one, they wondered what had driven her to do it.


TBC...








[ edited 11time(s), last at 7-Dec-2002 11:45:36 PM ]
posted on 12-Aug-2002 3:28:56 PM
Hey all, After what probably was the most boring day at work I've spent in two years - and that's saying a lot, I am happy to announce I've got the next section of Hindsight ready for posting. (STBFL, too, but ya'll have to wait 'till tomorrow for that one! LOL)

I'm very excited about your response to that first chapter. It was the scene which I couldn't get out of my mind once I'd thought of it. The whole reason for writing this fic in the first place. Now, we're going to take a step back in time and see how we got to this point before picking the reigns back up again.

Two quick notices: First, this isn't meant to be a Max-bashing fic, so Dreamers, have no fear. Don't be mislead, however. He won't be painted in a very flattering light, either. Remember, in Harvest, Max actually accused Liz of colluding with the enemy. As if. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Max has a lot of anger towards Liz and Liz is equally angry - not at him per se - but at the unfairness of it all. Expect to be pissed at Max before this is over, but remember I love him. Liz loves him. Everything will be made right in time.

Secondly: Subterfuge No worries. Isabel will remain as a VERY minor character in this. LOL

Ok, so you ready to find out how we got to the fire? Well, what are you waiting for? Let's go.


Hindsight

Chapter Two


Four weeks earlier ---

There was only one person using the track that morning. No surprise there. It was the same every morning. People preferred to spend money on memberships to expensive gyms with their air conditioning and TVs rather than go to the public facilities and sweat it out. Kyle Valenti preferred the out-of-doors. Just about every morning that the weather was good he could be found on the track at West Roswell High School doing his two-mile jog/run. He enjoyed being fit, and running the track was one of his favorite exercises. His least favorite exercise in his regimen was on Friday when he forced himself to run the stairs on the bleachers. Up and down, up and down until he thought his lungs would explode and his legs felt like rubber.

Sometimes he dreaded Fridays. Like today. He could think of a hundred other things he'd rather do, including fifty thousand push-ups - in three inches of sewer water, to running the bleachers. But, in order to be the best, he was willing to make certain sacrifices. School was beginning to wind down, and he was as busy as ever. Football and basketball summer camps were gearing up, and he needed to be in top shape to be at his competitive best. This was the end junior year in high school. He was on the Varsity teams for most of the sports he played in including wrestling and basketball, but he knew that this summer he could possibly be approached by one of the university scouts with a scholarship offer if he impressed them enough. It would take a lot of pressure off of his senior year if he could get his college plans firmed up, and so that was his goal. To be the best. To out run, out jump, out throw every one of his teammates so that he could catch the eye of the recruiters.

Of course, it didn’t help that most of his teammates had the same goal, giving him stiff competition. Still, Kyle knew better than to focus on them or anything other than the here and now: his heart beating, his muscles throbbing from exertion, the sound of his feet striking the rich earth. He only controlled his body, his reactions. In the grand scheme of things, he knew the future would be as Buddha willed.

He could only pray that it was Buddha’s will that he be given a one-way ticket out of this small, cloistering, alien infested town before it took him down with it.

Completing the ritualistic two miles run, he jogged off of the track and across to the bleachers. His feet made no sound on the damp grass. He breathing was hard but not labored as he used the bottom of his shirt to wipe the sweat off his face.

So focused on his body and the workout ahead of him was he, that it wasn't until he heard the sobbing that he realized that he wasn't alone out there as he’d thought. He slowed to a stop, his feet just at the bottom edge of the bleachers. Looking around, trying to pinpoint the location of the sound, he realized that whoever it was he heard was underneath the seating structure. And from the sounds of it, she was crying.

He stood in indecision for a moment, his hand resting on the handrail. He was a guy. What did he know about crying females? Should he leave? Should he see who it was? Should he just ignore it and hope the person went away? A heretofore-unknown voice of sensitivity spoke up inside his head and demanded that he find out what was wrong. Aw, hell.

He bent over and peered between the steps. He couldn't see anyone. Walking around to the side, he was able to enter the supporting framework. The person, definitely a girl, was about halfway across. She sounded like her world had come to an end, like she could cry forever. He reluctantly allowed his feet to carry him closer. He had no idea what to say to her. He wasn't even sure why he felt compelled to help. He'd be the first to admit that he wasn't adept at dealing with women outside the realm of passion. When the girls he dated started talking about feelings and relationships and commitments, that's when he usually bailed. The only exception to the rule had been Liz Parker.

Not that she'd ever actually talked about any of those things with him, but if she had, he was certain he wouldn't have minded. Not at all. But that was Liz, not just some girl. So, why was he here, moving closer to this girl having a crying jag? He had no idea.

He was near enough to her now to make out her form. Her back was turned to him. She was half laying, half sitting on the cold ground, completely absorbed in her misery.

His mouth was dry, and he had to clear his throat before he could speak. "Excuse me. Are you ok?"

She whipped around so fast it was a blur of motion. They stared at each other across the space as time stood still. He watched as her eyes widened in shock and recognition. "Kyle!"

It was his turn to be shocked. "You know me?" He stared at her intently certain he had never seen her before despite the tearstains and blotchy redness obscuring her features from him.

Her eyes darted everywhere looking for an escape as she stood. "I...I'm sorry. I didn’t…" She looked at him one more time, and he was struck by the misery he could easily read on her pretty face. And the fear. "I'm sorry. I... I gotta go." Then she took off.

His feet frozen to the ground, all he could do was stare after her. She ran with the speed and grace of a doe. Here one second, gone the next.

Kyle stood a moment longer, his mind still trying to comprehend the entire strange encounter. What was she afraid of, he wondered. He wasn't sure, but it looked like she was terrified of him. Why? He had a reputation for being a tough competitor on the field or in the court, but outside of sports, he used his brains not his muscles to get through life. He knew that some of the other guys were different. Like his friends, Tommy and Paulie from the football team. They had been known to use their strength against those who were weaker than them, but Kyle wasn’t like that. Being the sheriff’s son lay certain expectations at his feet and he understood that. He had never done anything to make others afraid of him. So, what was her problem?

It suddenly occurred to him to go after her and ask. "Hey, wait!" he shouted as he sprinted out from under the bleachers in the direction she'd gone, but when he reached the field, she was nowhere in sight. He hadn't heard a car, but she could have ridden over on a bike, or maybe she was just fast on her feet.

The short incident played itself over and over in his head throughout the rest of the day as he finished his regimen then went about his business. He just couldn't seem to get her out of his mind. Who was she? How did she know him? Why was she crying? And why did she run away? He couldn't make out much of her appearance but he had the impression that she was just about the same height and build of Liz. Her hair was definitely red. It fell in curls to about the middle of her back. He couldn't tell what color her eyes were, but he knew that she had long dark lashes to frame them.

If he had realized what he was doing, he would have been amazed with himself. Kyle Valenti was not the type of guy to moon over girls. They usually mooned over him. He knew that he was considered one of the most popular guys in school, even last year when he'd been a sophomore. It was a fairly common occurrence to have some girl ask him out, or make up some lame excuse to talk to him in an effort to get his attention. It had always been that way.

This was the first time he'd ever had some girl go out of her way to avoid him. No, not just avoid, run away from. She'd run away from him, and he couldn't figure out why. That, more than anything else, was what kept her in his mind. Not the vulnerability of her delicate features, not the poise and grace which she’d moved. Not the moment of recognition that had flashed across her face at the sight of him.

At least that’s what he told himself.

*~*~*~*~*~*~

Liz was getting very adept at avoiding the mirrors in her room as she dressed. Even when brushing her teeth, she focused her gaze into the sparkling basin where the water splashed and swirled rather then watching the rhythmic up and down motions of her toothbrush against her teeth in the mirror which showed too much and concealed nothing at all.

As long as she didn’t have to see the dark circles under her dull eyes, the perpetual brackets of long suffering pain bracketing her mouth, she could pretend they weren’t there. Pretend that she wasn’t slowly dying from the inside out, her broken heart affecting her like a slow moving cancer, irrevocably eating her up one painful cell at a time.

In the months that had passed since Max – Future Max – had made his desperate visit, tearing her world upside down in the process, Liz had been merely existing, as if waiting for the punchline of the cosmic joke some deity had decided to play on her. To give her Max for mere moments of time, unraveled from the very fabric of Destiny, only to take him away again. It was unbearable. Made doubly so, because only she knew the immensity of what she’d done. The finality of it.

To make Max fall out of love with her…

To save the world…

To see his beautiful, soulful eyes accusing her, demanding explanations she could not give every time they came to rest on her. He wanted to hate her. It was in his tone when he spoke to her, the hurt like a festering wound as fresh today as it had been the night he’d confronted her in Copper Summit. In a way, she thought it might be simpler if he did. As least hatred would purge the confusion and pain from his heart, bringing to an end this terrible dance of ‘friends and enemies’ they’d been engaged in since that night.

“I made a mistake.” Her own voice, pleading for understanding even as her words cut into the both of them, draining the blood from their encompassing love, killing it as Future Max had demanded. Too bad he didn’t think to kill her, too before he left. Surely death by his beloved hand was better than the endless tortures spread out before her now.

Whoever said ‘it was better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’ was full of shit. There were days when Liz wished she’d never met Max, had never known the feel of his lips against hers, the warm comfort of his strong embrace. The memories of these tendernesses were now a sharp dagger, digging into her, tearing out her heart, aided by the crushing reality she now lived with.

Max, despising her all the while, was publicly dating Tess, often bringing her into the CrashDown on the nights he knew Liz was working as if to rub in her face that he was moving on. Forgetting all about her. Maria, bless her, had more than once covered their booth for her as she couldn’t bear to watch them together, knowing he was a lost as she was. Knowing that if she were to look up and catch him watching her for one unguarded moment the questions, pleas and entreaties he refused to speak again would be there in his eyes held at bay only by his force of will and his pride.

Each time it happened, her resolve would crumble a little more.

Stay strong, she admonished herself. This thing is bigger than just you and Max. It’s bigger than Roswell, the FBI and the whole United States government. If she gave in, went to Max and pleaded with him to hear her out while she spilled the whole terrible truth of what had really happened that night with Kyle, she knew she was putting the safety of the entire planet at risk.

What was her love, the unfulfilled love of a silly schoolgirl, compared to the fate of the world?

Nothing.

She was nothing. Small town Liz Parker. That was all she was, all she would ever be. Not wife to King Maxwell Evans of some unnamed planet in some uncharted section of the galaxy. Not the happiest woman on Earth.

It was better this way, she consoled herself.

What did she know about being a queen? Tess was born knowing how to rule, how to grind the peons around her beneath her heels, how to make people feel insignificant. She excelled at it. Liz could never be that way. Tess was Queen Elizabeth I. Liz was more of a Jackie O and she knew it. Max’s subjects, assuming he ever got to go home, would laugh at her. Laugh at Max for choosing someone like her. No, he was better off with Tess. She would show him how to be a strong, iron willed ruler. She herself would rule without mercy, forcing her people to bow and scrape before her.

Liz could never be like that, in reality, she didn’t want to be. Ever since she’d heard of Max’s true destiny last May, she’d known they could never have a future together despite Max’s avowals to the contrary.

Still, she’d give anything to take the granolith and live just for a day that other Liz’s life. To know the feeling of waking beside her husband, to know the joy of making love to him, to face the uncertain future by his side, their hands clasped so tightly as though to make them one being. A single entity with two heads, two hearts and one soul. Maxandliz. Perfection.

Oh to be her. To have that to look forward to. Just one day of that forbidden life before returning to this barren mockery was all she prayed for. Unfortunately, it was impossible. She didn’t know how the granolith worked, and even if she did, that life was gone, erased from the ripples of time, never to be.

“Liz?” Nancy Parker rapped at her daughter’s door. “Honey, can I come in?”

“Yeah, mom,” she answered, pulling open the door. “I’m up.”

Nancy tried not to let her fear show as she looked over her withdrawn daughter. Liz, had always been vibrant, sparkling up, a ready smile gracing her lips… until six months or so ago. Now she was sullen, withdrawn. She and Jeff were at their wits end of how to deal with this. It wasn’t drugs – they’d had her tested a few months ago despite her heated protestations. It wasn’t new friends, Liz still hung with the same crowd as always, when she went out, that is. It wasn’t school. Liz’s teachers all reported that her grades were still exemplary, though she didn’t participate as often in class discussions or after school activities. What else was there? After talking to Dr. Armens, Roswell’s noted child psychologist, Nancy was still as frustrated as before. The only other common reason behind such drastic behavioral changes was death of a loved one, and as far as she knew, no one Liz had known had ever died in Roswell. The loss of her beloved grandmother was too far in the past to be directly related to what was happening, though Dr. Armens suggested it could be a factor.

When Nancy had suggested sending Liz to the therapist herself, hoping a professional might be able to get Liz to open up where she’d failed, Liz had flat out refused, insisting nothing was wrong, citing her friends and schoolwork as examples. That was the night Nancy had outright asked her if something had happened to her daughter.

Incredulous, Liz had asked, “Like what, mom?”

“I don’t know, Liz. I’m trying not to think. I just know you’re not the same, happy girl you were a year ago and I’m terrified something awful’s happened to you and you’re covering it up. Liz, honey, you know you can tell me anything,” Nancy put forth in her most reassuring, understanding tone. “I love you. Nothing you could tell me will change that.”

Cutting to the chase, Liz asked outright, “Do you think I was raped?”

Stunned because that was exactly what she’d begun thinking, Nancy simply stared back.

Real laughter driven by pain and irony burst from Liz’s mouth. “Mom, that’s like the furthest thing from what’s happened.”

Pouncing, Nancy said, “But something DID happen?”

Cornered, Liz simply stared back, forcing Nancy to adopt her no-nonsense tone. “Liz, just tell me *What*…”

“I broke up with Max,” Liz all but shouted just to shut her mom up. Immediately, she regretted her words and tone, but it was too late to call them back. Softer, she repeated, “I broke up with Max, and things have been really… awkward between us since then. It’s just hard, ok? I’m dealing with it in my own way.” Putting a hand on her mother’s arm, she entreated, “I’m fine. My grades are good. It’s not like I’m hurting myself or something. Please just let me deal with this on my own.”

“Liz…”

“Please, mom. Could you just respect my privacy on this?”

Not knowing what else to do, Nancy had agreed. That had been a month ago. Now, four weeks later, Liz didn’t look any better off now than she did then, in fact, Nancy would bet the farm that Liz had lost more weight, and she hadn’t had all that much to spare to begin with.

Forcing a smile to her lips, she said, “Hey, I was talking to Aunt Susan last night and she wanted to know if you were planning to go out to see her again this summer. She said the two of you had a good time last summer.” In truth, she’d called her sister and practically begged an invitation. If Liz’s problem lay in her break up with that Evans kid, then getting her daughter as far away from him as possible seemed like the best idea yet. Jeff agreed with her wholeheartedly.

Smiling faintly, Liz considered the possibility. Sun, sand, no Max and Tess to remind her of what she’d lost. It sounded like heaven.

Coming to a quick decision, Liz nodded, “Yeah, that sounds great, only for a few weeks though. Not the whole summer this year. I missed you guys too much last year.”

Trying not to clap her hands in glee, Nancy said, “Great. I’ll just give her a call then and we’ll make plans for next month as soon as school’s out.”

“Sounds great,” Liz smiled before turning away. Her mom was already moving down the hallway to tell Jeff the good news.






TBC


posted on 20-Aug-2002 9:13:39 PM
Hello everyone!

Once again, here I am with a good news / bad news scenario...

Good news:

I'm going to have a baby!!!

I know. Oh my god! I found out last Wednesday when I took a HPT after feeling ridiculously crappy for two days. (Then, being from Missouri, I took another on Thursday because I didn''t believe the first one.) *wink*

Bad news:

Today is the first day this entire week I've been able to sit down in front of my computer without feeling queasy. No, I'm not kidding. LOL I don't know if it was the flickering of the screen or what, but I couldn't take it. It made working interesting the last few days, as I'm sure you can imagine. *happy* So, needless to say, I haven't been able to get the next chaper ready for posting. It's mostly done, I just didn't like how the beginning flowed and planned to rework before I got derailed. *tongue*

I will work on it, if that whole throwing up at any second sensation will go away for at least a few hours. If it's not ready for Friday, I'll at least post a progress report on Friday. I'm sorry ya'll have to wait again, but you can blame it on my husband - lord knows I've blamed him for everything I've had to put up with this week. *wink* (And this is only the beginning. LOL)

Love you guys,

Tara

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 21-Aug-2002 8:52:14 AM ]
posted on 23-Aug-2002 6:23:43 PM
Thanks you guys for your well wishes. Once again, you’ve all come through to make me feel fantastic even when I’m feeling absolutely wretched.

I’m feeling a little more ‘normal’ but boy does it come and go. I’ve never been so aware of my body in my life – all you mommies probably know what I’m talking about. It’s like half of my attention is focused on the task on hand – going to work, getting through the day – the other half is solely concentrating on how I feel, how my stomach feels, etc. Sometimes I wonder if I’m making this out to be worse than it is, you know, like a paper cut, hurts like h*ll when you’re aware of it, but mostly, you forget it’s even there. I think if I can just stop worrying about being sick, then maybe I won’t feel the ongoing, seeming unending nausea every minute of every day.

This is my first wee one, so every day has been a new adventure of discovery. Don’t laugh, but I already made my first trip to the maternity store. *happy*

Ok, some comments, then it’s on with the story.

GORDONKTINIA I don’t want to confuse you. Watch the timing of this story. Liz’s ‘trip to Florida’ is planned for 4 weeks away, the same time the enemies set the trap at the warehouse and she gets hurt in the fire. That’s a long time away and lots of things can (and will) happen in the meantime.

Puzzlechild You are exactly right, and that’s actually the realization I’m trying to push Max towards as you’ll see. I think it’s important for Max to get over it and ‘forgive’ Liz for her seeming ‘betrayal’ because he loves her, not because he finds out the truth and that makes it all right – something he didn’t do on the show. (Jerk.) To name the kid for a Roswell character would be kinda fun, however, I’m certain I’ll get a choice. My husband has already informed me he has picked out the name - if it’s a boy: James Russell. James is his middle name, Russell for Rusty Wallace, his NASCAR car racing idol. (Wait, I’m confused. Don’t I get a vote? If I do, we are NOT naming the kid after some race car driver! Especially that one! LOL)

Subterfuge see note below Regarding Max Bashing. Don’t hold back on my account! LOL Plus your unexpected visit…

BelieveInTrueLove In regards to Liz’s friends noticing her health, not yet, but they will and you might be surprised who puts it together first. Forest for the trees. I repeated what you said about ‘poking fun’ to my husband (he didn’t get it – I had to explain it.) LOL. I’ve never heard of that before, and it’s still cracking me up. Thank you.

Kitkat26 Yes, this is my first, and I’m scared to death! Everyday gets better, though as I get used to the idea. I don’t know when I’m due as I haven’t been to a doctor yet, but I’m guessing May sometime… (8 mos to go)

Lelea I hope you have your insults lined up and ready to go… unfortunately, you may have to hold them until the next post. LOL Thanks for wishing me well on BOTH threads. That was cool to see you hanging in with me twice. *happy*

ckkittenI’m so sorry about your blues. I don’t want to presume to know your situation, but my hubby and I have been married for 5+ years, and we’ve been planning to wait for a time when he can support both of us so that I can stay home and raise our children rather than sending them to daycare and whatnot. Unfortunately, we’re not there, yet. This was an unexpected surprise, yet, we’re doing what we can to adjust and make due, after all the choice is out of our hands now. Still, I appreciate you stopping by to wish me luck, and I hope maybe you won’t have to wait too long until it’s your time, too. The best miracles are never planned, they just happen.

Angela35, Angeleyes, Asabetha, Dreamy, Sapt, crazeesmilee and Roswool Thank you all for your kind wishes. Your thoughts, support, suggestions have made each day just a little brighter.

Ok everyone two last comments and we’re on our way:

First of all, when I said this wasn’t a Max bashing fic, I meant I’m not bashing. You can say what ever you want. *tongue* I would never presume to tell you what to comment. I’m just happy that ya’ll post anything, ‘cause I’m a FB junkie, like most of the other authors here. I just wanted to warn the dreamers who might jump ship when things get rough that beating Max up was not the POINT of this story. LOL This was a hard story to write, because I like so many others, couldn’t believe how he had turned on Liz after TEOTW. He said and did things that were completely out of character for him, again, I cite his accusing Liz of helping the Skins in Harvest as an example. Yes, he was hurt and confused, but that was uncalled for, especially in front of the others. When we get to Max’s point of view, you’ll see he’s not evil, just hurting and unfortunately lashing out at the person who is responsible for that pain.

Secondly, IMPORTANT remember in Skin and Bones and Wipeout there was some ‘invisible’ person following the gang which was never actually revealed or explained? Someone leaving Skins laying around, yet couldn’t be seen by the podsters or humans? I’m using that character in this story, as you’ll see.

Broken into two parts due to length restrictions.





Hindsight

Chapter Three


That same night ---

Amanda Swanson was huddled underneath her thin blanket. Despite the fact that it was a balmy eighty-five degrees outside, she was chilled to the bone. She wasn’t sure she’d ever be warm again. Tremors shook her body as she waited for the inevitable.

Her father would be home anytime.

She knew it was the coward’s way out to go to bed early, hoping he would leave her alone until morning, that despite her efforts it would be an exercise in futility. Her dad wouldn’t let the night pass without speaking to her. He would want to know how her day went. Just like a regular father. She knew that, but still she hoped that maybe, just this once… After her meltdown today, all she wanted was to hide from the world, the good and the bad.

At the sound of the automatic garage door opening, her whole body tensed. Her pulse began to race, and she could feel the panic beating at her mind. She fought the urge to get up and run, run as if her life depended on it. As the car pulled into the garage, and the automatic door lowered, she tried to gain control of her emotions. Like a small child, she chanted to herself, “It’s ok. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Nothing is going to hurt me. It’s ok.”

Over and over she repeated it again …until she almost believed it.

On good days, Amanda knew she was heading toward a catastrophe. She was aware in a purely detached manner that her mental and physical health were in danger, as if the problems belonged to someone else, but she could see no way out of the mess her life had become. She wished her mother were there. Her mother would know what to do. She always knew exactly what to say to make her feel calm; to make her feel like everything would be ok. Her mom would understand what she was going through right now. She always seemed to be able to say the right thing to make it all the bad stuff in her life seem less important than the good stuff.

Her mom had been an irrepressible optimist whose greatest gift had been her capacity to love, see goodness in others and make others see it, too. Her life was lived through rose colored glasses, tainting all things so that all the ugliness they lived with was masked in shades of pink and gold.

Somehow Amanda had lost the ability to see what was right and good in the world the same time she lost her.

The woman was gone, but not her legacy: her incredibly strong-willed and courageous daughter. Everyday Amanda lived hoping to make her proud wherever she was now.

Just thinking about her mom, gave Amanda the strength she needed to conquer the panic that had been threatening to overcome her. She took a deep, cleansing breath and let it out slowly feeling the last of the terror drain away from her. Nothing was going to hurt her. There was nothing to be afraid of. It was only her father, not some monster. What was there to fear?

Amanda honestly didn’t know.

She hadn’t always been like this: timid, frightened, and terrified of the very man who’d given her life. Back in Ohio with her mom, her dad had just been an ordinary guy. A little inattentive, maybe, but he was always busy with his company. Besides, he traveled a lot. The nights he was home, her mom would cook something special for dinner, cater to his few demands. He hadn’t asked for much. In sixteen years, Amanda couldn’t remember so much as an argument between them. It was only since they’d moved, or just before that she’d suffered from these… unfounded fears… that he would hurt her.

Logically, she knew it was ridiculous. Her father wouldn’t hurt a flea. Honesty, he was the least intimidating man anyone could ever hope to meet. Emotionally, there was no stopping the unreasoning fear. Part of her told her to go to him. Tell him about how he frightened her – trust him to take care of her, to help her get past it, but another, stronger part warned her to stay away – as far away as possible.

His footsteps were now approaching from down the long hall. She waited, wondering if he were walking with such slow deliberation on purpose to intimidate her. If he knew how much she dreaded the upcoming confrontation.

He came straight to her door and opened it without knocking, just as she knew he would. She turned her head in his direction, and opened her eyes. He was back lit by the hall light, his features obscured in shadow, except his eye which managed to glow eerily in the darkness. His sinister appearance was amplified by the seemingly innocent question he asked. “Hey, pumpkin. How was your day?”

The silence stretched as she wondered how to answer him. In the end, because she had no choice, because she was a coward and she knew it, she replied, “It was fine.”

His moonlit eyes searched hers, looking for the answers he wanted. He stepped into her room and sat down on the side of her bed. He seemed almost to smile at the way she instinctively moved away from him.

“Did you do that little task we talked about this morning?”

“Yes.” The soft whisper was barely audible in the otherwise silent room.

She clutched the blanket tighter as he beamed proudly at his daughter. “That’s my girl. I know it’s hard on you, changing cities and schools right at the end of the school year, but this will help you feel less homesick, I promise. You’ll have new friends in no time.” Amanda tried not to flinch when he reached out and stroked her hair. It was soft, and so much like her mother’s that his fingers tightened in the red curls for a moment, uncaring of how it pulled painfully at her scalp. “I’m so proud of you. You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good.” He released her and stood up and still she lay stiffly on the bed. She wouldn’t relax until he was gone from the room. “Good night, sweetheart. We’ll talk some more in the morning.”

“Good night, daddy.”

Then mercifully, he left, closing the door behind him.

An hour later, she continued to lay in her bed, silent tears rolling softly across her cheeks and into her hair, despair and loneliness crowding her mind. See, she told herself again. There was nothing to fear. Her father loved her, and was proud of her now. There was nothing to be afraid of after all. At least until tomorrow.

The dawn of a new day would bring with it a whole new set of problems. The move from their old home, the loss of lifelong friends, all of it had been rough on her, and her father’s odd request hadn’t been easy. Why he was so determined that she find a job so fast, she couldn’t begin to guess, but she had to admit, the small restaurant he’d asked her to apply in looked like a fun place to work. She hadn’t seen anyone her age, but there always were at places like that.

The CrashDown Café. It was so funny with its alien décor and the waitresses aprons with alien heads. Despite her reluctance to go an put in an application, once there, Amanda had begun to hope they’d call and offer a job. Maybe tomorrow. It would be something to look forward to. A single ray of sunshine amidst all the clouds and storms that surely awaited her.

It would be another day of pretending that everything was great. Roswell was great. Life with her dad was great. Everything that had come to represent ‘normal’ since her mother had died.

Deciding that the only way she’d make it through the night was by not thinking about tomorrow, she instead chose to remember her short conversation with Kyle Valenti. If it could even be called that. She was mortified that he’d caught her spying on him. On the other hand, watching him running at the high school track in all his masculine glory had been the highlight of her day, something she’d dwelled on again and again during the intervening hours.

Yesterday in the grocery store, she’d been standing in the check out line with her Ho Ho’s and chocolate milk when he’d pushed his way in the front doors. Amanda just knew she’d stood there, mouth agape as he’d passed her by. His eyes had swept over and dismissed her in a glance. She, on the other hand, had not been so easily dissuaded. His easy gait and athletic body mesmerized her to the point that, to her everlasting mortification, she had actually wondered aloud, “Who is that?”

The cashier, a chatty woman in her mid-forties with a head full of bleached blonde hair, and excellent hearing happily answered Amanda’s question. That gorgeous hunk of man was one Kyle Valenti, son of Roswell’s beloved sheriff, and all around sports hero. Why, he was practically on every team the high school had to offer and their wins/losses seemed to run parallel to the nights when he played well and every body knew it. In fact, the only game they’d lost before the playoff’s last year had been the night his dad had made him stay home with at temperature of 101. Everybody knows he’s the one who’s going to put Roswell on the map for something other than all this alien nonsense.

Despite her embarrassment, Amanda had hung on every word, turning now and again to catch a glimpse of him if she could. Finally, transaction completed, Amanda had to force herself to grab her sack and head for the exit, even then, his handsome face had stayed with her for several hours.

Then this morning, she’d been walking around the campus of her new school when she’d seen him pull into the parking lot in a flashy red convertible. She’d unwittingly followed him out to the practice fields behind the school, and had watched him exercise, forgetting herself and all her troubles in the grace of his movements. As she watched, she thought that her mom would probably have liked him on sight, just as she had. That led to her thinking about her mom, which led her to the embarrassing state she’d been in when he’d walked over.

At this point, she didn’t know which was worse, the fact he’d caught her crying or the fact she’d run away like he was the boogy man. He must think she’s a complete brain case, she lamented.

She didn’t know how she would be able to face him again after this morning and secretly prayed that they wouldn’t see each other at school – ever. Was it too late to move into another district? she wondered with a half smile. Still the image she’d seen of him, sweaty and flushed from his exertions was burned into her brain. As she drifted off to sleep, temporarily distracted from the nightmare of her life, she vaguely wondered what color his eyes were.

*~*~*~*~*~


con't next post...


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 23-Aug-2002 6:28:44 PM ]
posted on 23-Aug-2002 6:24:49 PM
con't from previous post...


*~*~*~*~*~

In his own room, the man called Harold Swanson was standing in front of his full-length mirror, studying his appearance. The ill-fitting two piece suit and tie all proclaimed him a man of intellect, not physical strength. His hunched shoulders and general air of perpetual confusion added to the illusion. The spare tire around his middle and thick-framed glasses, which obscured most of his features, were the icing on the cake. He looked… geeky, docile. No one would ever think twice that maybe he wasn’t all that he appeared to be. Which was exactly what he wanted.

Piece by piece his costume came off until he was down to his skin… and then even that came off. His real body was more energy than form, and as he stretched up to his full height, he grew another foot and a half. He raised his arms above his head and groaned in pleasure as, one by one, the kinks fell out. He pressed his palms flat against the ceiling and pushed. If he’d had a spine, the vertebrae would have popped in several places, as he stood straight for the first time since putting on his disguise early this morning. Sometimes he felt like one of those puppets in a jack-in-a-box just waiting to be released by a turn of the handle. He was Harold-in-a-box.

And his handle was turning…

One day he was going to pop out of his self-imposed confinement, and rain death on all those who opposed him.

After a minute, he dropped his arms. It had been a long day dealing with imbecilic humans, one after another. What he needed was a long, hot cleansing. With a sigh and a twist, he strode into the bathroom and plugged in the blow drier. It was an industrial strength model, like those used to melt plastic shrink-wrap. While the shower stall next to him stood unused, he let the ultra heated air run over his body, starting at the top and working his way down, until his normally translucent skin glowed red from the purifying heat.

Satisfied that he was as clean as he was going to get on this filthy planet, he put away the drier and returned to the bedroom. He picked the empty Harold suit up off the bed, slipped it onto a hanger, and returned with it to the bathroom where he hung it in the shower. He turned on the water and made sure that the nozzle was pointed in the right direction. Five minutes later he returned and turned the suit around so that the front was facing the spraying water.

To anyone else, the sight would have been bizarre. With no neck to support it, the head just flopped against the chest of the suit, and his hair was dangling upside down. This arrangement worked out fine for him though, because all he needed to do next was pour a small amount of Rogain into his palm and rub it into the suit’s scalp. (Short geek he could live with, but short, bald geek? No thank you. That was asking too much.) He let the water run another five minutes then shut it off and left the bathroom. The suit would dry overnight in the tub and be ready to go in the morning. After nearly twenty years on this planet, he had his nightly ablutions down to an easy routine.

As he reached for the switch on the lamp, his body cast no shadow against the wall. For all intents and purposes he was invisible to the naked eye as light passed right through him here. On his home planet, their color spectrum of visible light was vastly different, and his people could see well into the ultra violet end of the spectrum. Someone with a heat sensor or night vision goggles could pick him out easily, but the average human was blind to his presence until he made himself known.

It was useful for spying on his enemies. Even those pathetic hybrids couldn’t see him, which tickled him to no end. He could follow them around at school and home as they went about their pointless, meaningless lives observing them at will, and they never had any idea. It amused him to see them so helpless, such easy prey.

He had considered picking them off one by one, but decided that it would be too risky to expose himself until he was certain of their inevitable destruction. Watching how easily they’d defeated Congresswoman Whitaker reinforced his decision. If they found out they were being stalked, and started looking for him… No, catching them by surprise was the best way.

Which is where his darling daughter came into play. It surprised him how willing they had been to help protect one of their enemies just because she'd gotten close to one of them before revealing herself. Courtney’s plan had been ingenious, and he’d decided to take a page from her book.

So, he’d brought his weak, stupid daughter to Roswell and put her in a situation where she could get close to them. Knowing the aliens would be suspicious of any newcomer, putting her to work in the CrashDown had been the obvious choice of cover. There, she would become friends with Michael and the others. And like Courtney, she would become an accepted member of their tight circle, and ultimately the instrument of their downfall. Like the Trojan Horse. Send in an innocent decoy to destroy them all. You’ve just got to appreciate a plan as simple as this, he thought. The only weak spot in the plan was Amanda herself.

When his idiot wife, Lucy, had tried to prevent him from taking their daughter away from her friends and school in Ohio, he’d taken a great deal of pleasure in killing her, something he’d been wanting to do for years. The only thing that had stopped him in the past was the fact that she added to the illusion of his normalcy. And a missing wife would bring out too many questions. Too much attention. However, the folks in Roswell didn’t know the circumstances, so they wouldn’t become suspicious. Lots of men changed cities after being widowed, needing a fresh start. He was certain no one would suspect he was more than met the eye. No one, that is, except Amanda herself.

Amanda had stood in shock as he turned away from the bloody corpse on the kitchen floor and ordered her to pack. Since then, she seemed to have blocked out the entire incident from her mind, acting like everything was fine. But a part of her remembered, he knew. Part of her trembled in fear at the very thought of his name, and he liked it. Poor little rabbit. Frightened of her own shadow. As long as she didn’t fail him, he didn’t care.

But if she did… Well, no matter. Either way, she was going to die. They all were. She would just come into hers a little sooner than planned.





TBC...

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 23-Aug-2002 6:27:03 PM ]
posted on 4-Sep-2002 6:38:15 PM
Well, hello to everybody! Thanks so much for your kind wishes and bumps! I'm sorry It took so long to get this part out. I have no excuse except I am just in hell. My mantra has lately become 6 more weeks... 6 more weeks.... Hopefully then I'll be over this whole morning sickness thing and can move on to ENJOYING this pregnancy. I'm praying daily that I'm not going to be one of those women for whom the nausea lingers all 9 months, cause I'm certain I won't make it! Ugh!

Ok, you've waited long enough, so let's get on with it.



Chapter Four

The following Monday ---

Liz was sitting alone in the quad at lunch, trying to focus on the open book before her. Normally her science textbooks enabled her to put her emotions on hold, set all of her worries aside for a time, but not today. Today marked the six-month anniversary of her final breakup with Max. Six months since Future Max had flashed in and out of her life.

She’d had six months to get used to the fact that he wanted nothing to do with her, could hardly bear to look at her. It was what had to be. What she’d wanted… right? No, it was what he’d wanted. And even after all this time, the cold looks, and the poignant silences, it still hurt.

She’d done the right thing, she was certain of it. Every time she looked at the four of them sitting, talking together, she was reminded why she’d done it. She’d single handedly stopped the end of the world from happening. By cutting out Max Evans’ heart and serving it to him on a gold platter.

Even now, despite the time that had passed, or perhaps because of it, Liz wondered if there hadn’t been some other, less painful and less permanent alternative. The promise of a life with Max was alluring. Her very own happily-ever-after. Had she not done what she did, she would have gotten to be Mrs. Max Evans for twelve glorious years before it was time to cash in her chips. She’d never wanted for anything more, but it – that perfect existence – wasn’t meant to be. His destiny was elsewhere… in another woman’s arms.

Had there been another way? Was there any solution other than blindly accepting that Tess and Max were meant to be together? The thought haunted her... sometime to the point it was hard to think of anything else - like her schoolwork.

“Hey. Can I sit down?”

“Hey, Kyle.” She quickly moved her stuff to the side. “Yeah, sure. Of course.” After he was settled on the hard bench, she asked, “What’s new with you?”

“Nothing.” Playing with her pencil on the table, he fidgeted briefly before confessing, “Actually, I wanted to get your opinion on something.”

“What’s that?”

“Have you heard… are there… Look, you’re a girl, right?” He chose to ignore the way she raised her eyebrows in amused assent. “Is there a reason that you, as a girl, would be afraid of me?”

Liz couldn’t help herself and burst out laughing.

“Ok, I’ll take that as a ‘no’.” He tried to sound annoyed, but was secretly relieved.

“I’m sorry, Kyle,” Liz said, trying to control her smile. Kyle was so open and friendly it was hard to imagine anyone thinking that he was something to be afraid of. “Why are you asking?”

He rubbed a hand over his face and answered, “I don’t know. I ran into this girl a couple of days ago, and she just seemed like she was afraid of me, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.”

“Who was she? I mean, have you seen her since then?”

“No. She looked like she was about our age, but I haven’t seen her anywhere around before. I don’t have any idea who she is.”

“Hmm. Well, I don’t know what to tell you except that you’re more teddy bear than grizzly bear.” She smiled again at his disgruntled expression following her pronouncement. “Maybe you were mistaken.”

“Maybe.” He sounded unconvinced. Looking around, he spotted Tess and the other aliens sitting a few tables away. She caught his eye, but he pointedly looked away. They were currently having a personal war over her need to clutter up every inch of the bathroom sink with all her girly crap, not to mention the lingerie hanging from the shower rod, the towel rod and the back of the door, sometimes even the doorknob itself. Sharing his living space because it’s the human thing to do was one thing, living with a slob was something else entirely.

He easily brough his attention back to Liz asking, “So why are you sitting here by yourself? Where’re Alex and Maria?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen either one since this morning. I’m just trying to get a head start on my homework. Advanced Physics is turning out to be really difficult.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet,” he agreed pulling her heavy text book towards himself and glancing at the indecipherable pages before shrugging. “Well, you are the only Junior in the class. Maybe it’s a little too much for you. I thought biology was more your thing anyway.”

She smiled softly for a moment, then said, “No, no. I mean, it is, but, this is fine, Kyle. I’m finding it very interesting actually, just harder than I thought it would be.”

“Ok, but if you need any help…”

“What?” she asked smiling at him, already anticipating the answer.

“…Don’t ask me.”

“Some friend. What are you good for, then,” she teased.

His eyes flickered to where Evans was sitting, glaring at the two of them. “Oh, I’ve been known to have my uses.” Quick to change the subject before she caught the reference, he said, “So, how about a ‘humans only’ gathering at my house this weekend. I’ll get rid of Tess and you, me, Maria and Alex can relax, watch videos and talk about anything except aliens.”

She grinned, a true smile – the first one she’d used in a long time - and said, “That sounds like fun. I’ll let Maria and Alex know.”

“Terrific.”

“Oh, but I get to pick out the movie.”

“What? No way. If you make me sit through another copy of ‘Wings of Boringness’, I’ll fall asleep.”

“Hey, we never got to watch it the last time.”

“That’s right. Your grandmother.” A thought occurred to him. “Couldn’t Max…?”

She shook her head, already knowing what he was going to say. “Not something like that. There’s a difference between a bullet and old age. The stroke wasn’t anything that he could reverse.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Yeah. I still really miss her.”

“I’m sorry.” He reached over and covered her hand with his own.

She smiled at him gratefully. “Thanks.” Then she froze at the sight of Max and Michael walking by. Max was unable to stop himself from looking at her, and the sight of Kyle touching Liz sent him flying back in time to the night of the Gomez concert. The night he’d caught them in bed. Despite all of the time that had passed, he still couldn’t get that night to fade from his memory. It was still as vivid as ever, and every time he saw them together, his heart would drop into his feet and his stomach would begin churning. Today was no exception.

Without a word to either one of them, he hurried on, suddenly unaware of anything except the need to be as far away from them as possible before he lost his dignity as well as his lunch.

Swearing under his breath, Kyle stood and also made a hasty exit, going pointedly in the opposite direction, leaving Liz as alone as she’d been before his arrival.

Michael paused at her table to say a brief hello. His friend’s abrupt disappearance didn’t surprise him. Not anymore. He’d stopped trying to figure out what was eating Max a long time ago. He didn’t know why Mr. Sensitive Guy continued to treat Liz the way he’d been for the past few months: vacillating between coldness and indifference. He’d been so caught up in his own issues, first with Courtney then Maria that he’d barely had time to notice when things between Max and Liz had deteriorated to the point of near hostility. Still, some things were unchanged: Liz was still Maria’s best friend and she never turned down a request for help.

Which is what had brought him over to her in the first place.

“Hey, Michael.”

“Liz,” he said by way of greeting as he sat. “I wanted to ask you a favor.”

“Sure. Anything.” She looked at him questioningly.

“I want to get Maria something special for her birthday, and I wanted to ask your opinion.”

“Michael, you know Maria’s birthday isn’t until next month?” she asked, just to be sure.

“I know, I just need a couple of ideas on what could be a good present for her. You know… something she’d really like.”

“I don’t know,” she looked at him assessingly as if weighing is sincerity. Everyone knew the hotheaded couple was currently on the outs, and he acknowledged Liz’s cooperation might depend on whether or not she thought he was out to hurt her again. Impassively, he stared back, awaiting her decision. Finally, Liz sighed and said, “Let me think on it for a couple of hours. I usually see you after eighth period. I’ll have some ideas by then, for sure.”

“Thanks. I really appreciate it.” With a smile, he walked away. His relationship with Maria had gone through several reincarnations in the last year and a half. For the last couple of months, they’d been in a holding pattern of just being friends. Part of him was satisfied with that, knew that it was the only reasonable thing for them. The rest of him, however, longed to kiss her senseless. Lately, the need to be with her had been growing inside him. He couldn’t look at her without remembering how it felt to hold her warm body close to his. The memory of the touch of her skin and lips against his own was keeping him up at nights. He needed that closeness again, and he was preparing an all-out assault on her to get it. He figured her birthday next month was as good a place as any to start.

*~*~*~*~*

Later in the afternoon, he waited impatiently for Liz to get out of her last class. “Hey.”

“Hey, Michael.”

They began walking side by side down the hall. Liz had her books clasped tightly to her middle, held in place with both arms. Michael’s arms were hanging loosely at his side. There was easily a foot of space between them.

“So, did you come up with anything?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I think I did. You said you wanted to get her something special, right?”

“Yeah.”

“You remember the napkin holder that you made for her last year? She loves that thing. I swear it’s her favorite possession.”

“Ok.” Michael was confused. “So I should…”

“I’m not saying to buy matching salt and pepper shakers, or anything like that. She loves it because you made it – for her. A gift like that usually means you were thinking about her while you were making it. When you tucked it into her locker, you were probably anticipating her reaction, hoping she’d like it after all the work you put into it,” Liz guessed.

A little uncomfortable with Liz’s accurate assessment, he nodded briefly. “Yeah? So?”

“So?” She couldn’t help but shake her head at how dense he could be sometimes. She stifled the urge to punch him in the shoulder. “A gift like that is better than anything you could buy for her. Make something. Just for her. Something feminine this time. Or paint something for her. Have you painted anything since last year?”

“No. Not really. I’ve been kinda busy what with being thrown in jail and the skins and all.”

She grinned at his tone but let it pass without comment. Instead, she said, “Something like that would be the best kind of present in the world.”

“Make her something, huh?”

“Yeah.” They shared a smile, both enjoying a moment of peace and normalcy. It was nice to have a conversation that didn’t involve some life threatening menace for a change.

“Thanks.”

“Any time.” They were just about to go their separate ways when someone rounded a corner and smashed into her. With a small sound, her books flew out of her grasp and she went down, landing painfully against the unyielding tiled floor. She bit back a cry of pain as her wrist bent under her at an odd angle sending sharp needles of pain instantly up into her arm.

Michael looked to see who the idiot was, and his eyes narrowed in dislike. It was Tommy, one of the guys from the football team. Michael recognized him instantly.

“Hey! Watch where you’re going!”

“Sorry, Jeez.” The other boy hurried off without even glancing at them.

Already kneeling, Liz was quickly gathering up her stuff, keeping her face blank and her emotions carefully guarded, praying she could get out of there before he noticed anything was wrong.

“Here, let me help.” Michael squatted down next to her. “Are you ok?” he asked as he handed her a textbook.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she smiled tightly at him.

“Your pencil’s broken.” Michael picked up both pieces, and held them in his hand for a second. When he opened it again, the pencil was whole again. “There you go. Good as new.”

“Thanks,” she said, climbing to her feet.

“No problem.” He looked in the direction Tommy had hurried off. “Someone needs to teach that kid some manners.”

“Michael…”

“I know. Leave him alone.” His tone was disgusted.

The bell rang. Liz said, “Look, I got to go. Good luck with the present, and don’t worry, I won’t tell her a thing.”

It hadn’t even occurred to him to ask. “I know. Thanks.”

Rather than going to class, Liz hurried to the nurse’s office. If she could get some ice on her wrist right away, perhaps the swelling wouldn’t be so bad.

She hoped not, because the last thing she wanted was to draw attention to herself - especially from the alien contingent of the population.



TBC
posted on 7-Dec-2002 11:43:00 PM
Wow, sorry it's taken so long for me to get back with another update. I certainly never meant to keep ya'll waiting this long.

Here's the next part and I hope to have another ready in a week or so.

Broken into two parts due to legnth restrictions.

HINDSIGHT

Chapter Five


Two days later ---

Odd how wearing a long sleeved blouse in New Mexico in May could cause such a sensation. Over the next two days, as Liz hid her swollen wrist, she felt like the whole world was watching her, speculating on her mental health, not to mention her fashion sense. However, the alternative was unacceptable. She couldn’t run the risk of Max, Michael, Isabel or Tess offering to heal her wrist for her. She couldn’t let any of them that close to her. Not ever again.

She didn’t know when the realization struck her, but she became aware one day of how she was avoiding contact with her alien friends. Max had told her how when things get intense or heightened with them, they sometimes got flashes from people or objects when they touched them. Heck, Max had gotten a flash from a simple CD case Kyle had left for her in her room the day they thought her journal was stolen. Then there’d been the time he’d grabbed her arm the night Nasedo died. They’d both been deluged in images with the force and speed of Niagara Falls. And as equally uncontrollable. Considering the emotional turmoil they were both in from her lies and betrayal, Liz knew she had to tread carefully, fully encased in a façade of normalcy else risk waking the sleeping lion. If any one of them ever found out about what had happened to her in November… about Max coming to her from the future… she didn’t know what she would do. There was no back up plan in case the truth was discovered. She had no idea what Max’s reaction would be, let alone the others. She hoped never to find out.

And so, she did what she had to do. What she always does. She did her best to bury the memory of the long-haired, battle scarred Max deep in her mind, and she was extra careful to avoid actual physical contact with her alien friends.

So far, no one had seemed to notice her withdrawal. Still, she knew she was on borrowed time. A secret of this magnitude would not stay hidden forever. Liz could only hope that when it finally came to light, Max and Tess’s bond would be secure thus minimizing her own sacrifice. If Max were still waiting for her, the resulting shockwaves could emperil the entire planet. Liz knew she was done fighting him, herself, their future happiness, however short lived. She didn’t have it in her to push him away again. She’d done all she could.

It was up to Max now. Accept his destiny and save the planet or deny Tess, condemning them all.

*****

For the hundredth time, Liz cursed the fact that her waitress outfit had no sleeves, making it impossible to hide her bruised and slightly swollen wrist. Of course, it was too much to ask that it might go unnoticed. She was actually surprised she’d made it to the second day after the accident before someone commented on it. ‘Someone’ meaning one Kyle Valenti.

Liz and Maria were both working, training the new girl, Amanda, when their fair-haired friend came in the diner.

With a slight smile, the senior waitress hurried over to him as he slid into a booth. “Hey Kyle.”

“Hey.”

“What can I get for you?”

“Um, a coke and fries,” the usual for the younger Valenti. Liz didn’t even bother writing it down.

“Okay.”

Entering the kitchen, she put in his order, and stopped to listen to Maria instructing Amanda on the ins and outs of the kitchen area, including a fascinating discussion on how to clean the deep fryer.

At the new girl’s distressed look over the dirty and oftimes gross task, Liz interrupted to assure her, “Don’t worry. The cook usually takes care of it at the end of the night.”

“Unless it’s Michael,” Maria grumbled.

“Who’s Michael?”

“A friend,” “My ex,” Liz and Maria both explained. “He’s a good guy,” Liz added. “He’s just a little…”

“Spacey,” Maria supplied.

“Unreliable,” Liz corrected. “He tends to get called away for family emergencies…”

“A lot,” Maria sighed, sounding every bit as put out as she often feels when it comes to her alien. “Leaving us to clean up his mess.”

Not knowing what to say, Amanda simply nodded in understanding.

In an attempt to change the subject, as well as get to know their newest addition, Liz asked, “So, what do you think of the CrashDown so far?”

Amanda looked around her. “I like it. This looks like such a fun place to work.”

“Oh, it is,” Maria said.

“So, how long have you lived in Roswell?”

“Only a week. Monday will my first day at school.”

“Where did you move from?”

“Ohio.”

“And what brings you to Roswell?” asked Maria suspiciously.

Liz nudged her friend with a frown. After Courtney and Congresswoman Whittaker, the girls were a lot less trusting of strangers.

“My dad got transferred here,” Amanda answered unaware of the other girls’ silent communication. “He works as a factory manager at the chemical plant they built outside of town.”

The three of them chatted, well, Maria interrogated, Liz and Amanda chatted while Jose cooked up Kyle’s fries. When he dinged the small counter bell, Liz went back to work. She fixed Kyle’s drink and carrying it along with his fries weighing down her sore arm, she returned to his table. “Here you go, Kyle.”

He took his coke from her, saying, “I was beginning to wonder if you’d forgotten about me.” His grin showed he was teasing.

Liz responded with, “As if.”

Awkwardly putting down his fries, she couldn’t contain a grimace when pain twinged through her wrist. Spotting it, he was immediately concerned. “What’s wrong?” His athletic training had him conditioned to ferret out they physical weaknesses in the people around him either to exploit a competitor, or to support a team member and he did so without a thought.

His eyes traveled up and down her body, stopping at her slightly swollen wrist. Gently but firmly grabbing her hand he touched the abused flesh gently. “Liz, what happened?”

“Nothing.” Kyle’s look said he wasn’t going to let go until he’d heard the whole thing. With a sigh, she explained, “I fell at school on Monday…”

As she was telling him the story, Max and the others were coming into the café. His eyes automatically sought Liz out, and narrowed at the sight of Kyle sitting there, holding her hand as she spoke animatedly to him. ‘How touching,’ he thought as pain and jealously warred inside him. Pretending he hadn’t noticed the two lovers, he led his friends and sister to a booth, and sat down. Apparently not far enough away, for he could hear every word the two lovers spoke, despite their hushed voices.

“You’re still coming over on Friday night?” Kyle asked, turning his attention to his neglected fries having been assured that Liz’s injury was merely inconvenient and that she had matters well in hand. He was of course speaking of the ‘humans only’ party they’d spoken about at lunch the other day.

“Yeah.” Liz said, softly, aware in every cell of her body that Max was nearby, unable to prevent her self from looking at him or watching the way Tess scooted as close as possible to him on the wide bench. She barely heard herself respond, “8 o’clock?”

“Yeah, that’d be great. I’ll make sure the pillowcases are clean.”

“What?” Liz asked before she remembered. Kyle was implying that he and Alex would fall asleep if she and Maria insisted on watching a chick-flick. “Oh.” Her laughter rang out in the room. “Maybe you’d better. Wash a blanket, too, as long as you’re at it.”

Max’s fists were clenched as he fought the urge to either leave or punch Kyle in the face. Pillowcases. Blankets.

They were obviously planning a romantic evening of lovemaking and cuddling. Again, a vision of her and Kyle laying back against the pillows in her bed hovered in front of his eyes blocking out the sight of anything else. Liz’s laughter. Kyle’s self satisfied smile. The silk of her skin. The sound of her breathless cries. The smell of burning candles mixing with the musky scent of sex. Everything was so clear, so real, it was as if he’d been there, living the dream, not Kyle.

Despite what Liz had said in Copper Summit, she obviously didn’t view being with Kyle as a ‘mistake’ anymore. They were well and truly back together now. Else they were in the habit of having one night stands – which he knew better. Liz would never give herself so cheaply.

It was time he stepped out of denial land. Liz was with Kyle.

Max had lost any chance of winning her back. ‘How could you even want her back after what she did?’ an angry voice in his head demanded. ‘You don’t even know her. You never did. The Liz you thought you loved could never have betrayed you like she did. Get over it.’ Max had no answer. The voice had a point.

“Max? Is something wrong?” Tess touched his tense arm.

“No.” He forced himself to relax despite this unexpected lesson in pain. “No. Nothing new anyway.” He brought his attention back to his friends. Isabel and Michael were looking at him, puzzled. “What were you saying?”

“What’s with you, Maxwell?” Michael wanted to know.

“I said nothing was wrong.” His voice was louder than he intended, causing them to stare at him in surprise.

“Hey, guys.” Suddenly, Liz was standing at the end of their table, smiling at them, her arms behind her back. She was unaware of the turmoil she’d caused Max, and her warm greeting was directed at him.

He refused to look at her, ignoring the longing bubbling inside at her nearness, hating himself all the more for his continuing weakness. In defense, he let his anger at his inability to let her go once and for all grow into a shallow resentment.

How could she just casually stand two feet away from him after making plans to have sex with Kyle in a couple of days? Friday? At eight? Didn’t she know she was killing him?

“Hey, Liz.” Michael said.

Trying not to let Max’s indifference get to her, Liz continued to smile, though her face felt wooden now, not warm, real. The façade she’d perfected came to her rescue once again. “Let me get Maria over here to take your order. She’s just in the kitchen. Do all of you want cherry coke?”

“I want fresh lime in mine.” Tess ordered. It was clearly not a request.

“Sure.” Liz smiled at the other girl. She’d gotten so used to being pleasant to Tess that it was second nature after six months. Liz wasn’t taking any chances that Tess would decide to leave Roswell after all because she still felt unwelcome and unaccepted. Maria and Alex had strict orders to be friendly with the fourth alien if it killed them. Sometimes they acted like it would. Of Course, they didn’t know as she did that the loss of one of the four aliens would jeopardize the lives of the other three as well the lives of everyone else on the planet. Liz usually tried to make up for their sometimes transparent attitudes. She treated Tess like a princess, catering to her every whim.

Unfortunately, Tess was petty enough to take advantage of the situation. Or maybe she just didn’t know any better.

In no time, Maria was delivering their drinks and taking their orders as Liz went about waiting on the customers sitting in her area.


(Continued in the next post)
posted on 7-Dec-2002 11:44:53 PM
(CHAPTER 5 CON'T)


A couple of minutes later, while standing at the register paying for his check, Kyle caught a glimpse of Amanda helping in the kitchen through the serving window.

“Oh my God, Liz. Who is that?”

“Who?” Liz glanced through the window, seeing only their greasy cook. “That’s Jose. He’s like worked here forever.” Liz frowned at him.

“Not him. The girl. The red head. Who is she?”

Comprehending, Liz started to smile. “Oh, her. That’s Amanda. She just started today.”

“That’s her. The girl I was telling you about on Monday. The one that was afraid of me.”

“Kyle, you must be mistaken. She’s only lived here for like a week. She hasn’t even met you. How could she be afraid of you?”

“I know what I saw, Liz,” he stated, stubbornly. “I’m telling you, she knew me, and she was acting like she couldn’t wait to get away from me.” The memory of the red haired girl fleeing from him had stayed with him much longer than the incident warranted.


“What was she doing when you saw her?”

He looked uncomfortable. “Crying. That’s what got my attention in the first place.”

Liz grinned at him and said, “That’s probably what was wrong. No girl likes to be caught crying, she was probably afraid you’d think she was a basket case or that her face was all splotchy or something.”

“Maybe.” Kyle looked unconvinced.

“Tell you what. Next time you come in when she’s working, I’ll have her wait on you. Then you’ll be able to talk to her. Or, she said she starts school next Monday. Maybe you’ll see her in one of your classes.”

“Monday, huh? Thanks,” he said as she handed him his change.

“Anytime.”

With one last look toward the kitchen, he left.

‘Well, that was weird,’ she thought watching him climb into his flashy convertible. Maybe too weird. Strangers usually meant trouble in Roswell. Even cute, innocent looking ones. Especially cute innocent looking ones, she amended, glancing in Tess’s direction.

As she walked back over to where her friends were sitting, Liz overheard Michael saying, “We’ve got entire communities of Skins… and shape-shifters, and plus there’s another set of us out there somewhere doing who knows what to whom. We need to be prepared. I’m telling you we need to figure out what the granilith does. Maybe it’s a weapon, or maybe it has information about us like the orbs did.”

She couldn’t prevent the guilty look that crossed her face as she looked at Max. She knew one of the things the granilith was capable of, but she wasn’t permitted to say. She’d promised future Max that no one would ever know of his visit. Besides, she consoled herself; it wasn’t ready for time-travel yet. Max-from-the-future had said that they had to make modifications to it to get it to do what they wanted to do. Still, she hated keeping something so important from her friends.

Max looked up in time to catch her crestfallen expression and attributed it to Kyle’s absence from the café. His already sour mood took a turn toward nasty. Without thinking, he found himself waving her closer and loudly complaining, “My fries are cold.” He pushed his plate towards her. “I’m not paying for cold food.”

“What?” She was stunned. Not that he’d gotten cold fries – after all Jose was in the kitchen today, but that he’d said something about it. Couldn’t he just…? Max’s eyes were harsh, teeming with a hundred dark emotions as he looked at her, telling her this sudden attack was prompted by something else altogether and with Tess practically gloating as she pressed against his arm, enjoying Liz’s discomfort it wasn’t difficult to guess at its cause.

Liz’s stomach plummeted as she again faced the consequences of the deception she’d been forced to perpetuate. When would this end? Could they ever get past what had happened and be friends again? She didn’t even know what she’d done to go from being ignored to this sudden show of spite. “I’m sorry… I’ll take them off your bill.” Picking up his plate, she hurried to say, “Let me just go get you a fresh plate.”

Luckily, there was nothing obstructing her path into the kitchen, for Liz certainly couldn’t have seen them with the tears welling in her eyes. Blinking them back, she wordlessly handed Max’s dinner to Maria.

“What’s this?”

“Max’s fries are cold.”

Maria’s eyes went from the plate to Liz’s face, the flippant question, “So what” dying on her lips. Without a word, she took them to Jose as Liz fled upstairs.

Back in the dining room, Isabel was as shocked as Maria was. She had never seen Max act like this, or use that tone before, and that he was behaving like that toward Liz…

“What is your problem?!”

“What? The fries were cold.” Max casually picked up his drink and sipped at it, apparently unconcerned that his best friend and sister were staring at him like he’d just grown a second head. Or that there’d been tears shining brightly in Liz Parker’s eyes before she walked away.

“So? In the time it took you to hurt her feelings, you could have heated them up yourself. Or if you’re suddenly above such things, I could have, or Tess.”

“Or me.” Michael said gruffly.

“That’s not the point. This is a restaurant. In as much as we’re paying for our food, it should be served at the right temperature. If it hurt her feelings to have to heat them up the way they should have been served in the first place, maybe she should get a different job.”

“In as much as she’s saved your life more than once, maybe you should cut her some slack.” With anger in her voice, Isabel stated, “When Liz comes back out here, you had better apologize to her, Max. I mean it.”

Michael knew better. “Liz won’t be coming back out.” Max had more than likely earned the ‘wrath of the best friend,’ something Michael had learned to fear and respect over the last year. Liz, Alex and Maria never hesitated to fearlessly back one another up in any situation, even at the risk of their own safety, something his jaw could attest to.

Sure enough, less than a minute later, Maria swung into the restaurant in a fury. Michael sat back, expecting her to slam Max’s plate down in front of him. He was surprised when she said, instead, “I’m sorry. Liz said that your meal wasn’t cooked properly.”

Already regretting his outburst, acknowledging it had only happened because he was so torn up over Liz and Kyle’s reconciliation and had wanted to hurt her as he, himself was hurting, Max had the grace to look shame faced. It wasn’t Liz’s fault she didn’t love him any longer. Just because she’d let go and moved on when he couldn’t was no reason to attack her, and to involve their friends in it was just plain stupid and childish.

Getting his attention, Maria set his plate down politely. “Would you like to try it now? We want to make sure that everything is satisfactory.”

“I’m sure it’s fine, Maria. Thanks.”

“I’ll wait,” she said. Her tone and body language were that of the perfect waitress. Only her eyes, narrowed and sparking with fury, gave her away. Her eyes and the anger that was rolling off her in waves. Max meekly popped a fry into his mouth. It was scalding hot, straight from the deep fryer, burning his tongue. He swallowed it quickly and chased it with a drink of soda. “It’s fine. Perfect. Thanks.”

Not done yet, Maria didn’t move. “How’s your burger? Is it done the way you wanted?” Again, she waited while he tasted the rest of his lunch. “And your soda? Enough ice? Too much ice? Let me fill that back up for you.” She snatched up his cup, and went to pour him a fresh new drink.

Max was sending up a silent prayer for it to be over, when she returned not only with his drink, but also with a new Tobasco bottle as well as more ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper, sugar, napkins, silverware and a straw. She efficiently lined everything up on the table in front of him like a royal offering, ignoring Michael’s barely concealed smirk at her antics. “Is there anything else you need today, sir?” She paused before sneering quietly, “I mean ‘your majesty’? Anything at all? Should I bow? Curtsy? Which would most please your graciousness?”

He just looked at her, shame making his tongue heavy. He’d long since lost his appetite.

Apparently satisfied with the remorse stamped on his face, Maria relented, silently muttering a curse that he choke on it. “All right then.” She headed back toward the kitchen, but only took two steps before turning back around. “You know, all of your fries came out at the same time, which means everyone else’s meals are probably cold, too.”

Michael and Isabel both held a hand over their fries and instantly reheated them. “No thanks, mine are fine,” Michael said.

“Mine too.”

Maria looked expectantly at Tess. The blonde, unconcerned with Maria’s uncertain temper complained, “Mine are a little cold.”

Furious, Maria reached for her plate, but whether it was to take it to the kitchen, or flip it into Tess’s lap she wasn’t sure. Max grabbed her wrist with one hand, and heated Tess’s food with the other. “It’s fine, Maria. Thanks.”

“As you wish.” Having made her point, she walked regally back into the kitchen.

“Nice one, Maxwell. Would you like me to call Alex up so you can get him mad at you, too?”

“God, Max. What is with you?”

The rest of their meal passed in silence as Michael and Isabel contemplated the boy they’d known all of their life. Tess, unperturbed by the silly, overemotional humans around them, just smiled at Max and ate contentedly.

Max wondered if aliens could get ulcers as he pushed his dinner around on his plate.

*******

Friday night, Max lay in his bed, watching the minutes tick by. Helpless but to imagine what was happening over at the Valenti residence, he turned this way and that. 8 o’clock. Liz would be arriving at Kyle’s any minute. 8:15. Had Kyle put clean linens on his bed as requested? Were the pillowcases fresh? Some perverse demon inside him had forced him to change his bed linens this evening, too. The muted smell of his mom’s dryer sheets just added to his torment. 8:30. He was torturing himself with visions of Liz and Kyle locked in one passionate embrace after another. Variations in positions and locations fed through his eager imagination. 8:45. He heard Tess downstairs talking to Isabel. Kyle must have kicked her out of the house to ensure their privacy. Of course he did. He wouldn’t take Liz on their old smelly couch… would he? Not the first time. Liz deserved a big, soft bed. Max ignored the memory of the night he’d nearly taken Liz on Michael’s sofa which swelled in seeming contradiction. A man would take Liz’s sweet body anywhere he could get her. 8:50. Max could imagine Liz’s hoarse voice crying out in pleasure. The sweet sound had haunted many of his lonely nights when he allowed himself to remember what they’d once had. 9:10. Would the night never end?

He couldn’t stand it any longer. Grabbing a coat, he headed over to Michael’s apartment.


TBC