posted on 15-Oct-2002 4:36:29 PM
ANH1


A NEW HOPE
Author: abbimorgan
Disclaimer: Roswell belongs to a lot of people but I'm not one of them.
Category: Liz
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Story that takes place after Departure. I also changed the ending of Departure. The story revolves around Liz and her life after that horrible episode. I don't want to say too much more because I don't want to give a lot away.
Author's Note: For those of you who are still reading Family, don't worry I haven't given it up. In fact there will be a new update late tonight. I just felt the urge to start a new story. I'm not planning on this one being very long. It should be no more than 15 - 20 parts which I think I can handle. *happy* I hope everyone likes it and thanks for giving it a shot.

Abbi*happy*

PART ONE

"I guess this is our goodbye. Just tell me one thing, do you love her?"

"Not like I love you."


She wanted to reach for him, the man in her dreams, the man who had just told her he loved her. And so she did, still half-asleep her fingers searched for him, hoping that this time she could touch him, that his form wouldn't drift away from her. She could feel the fabric of the bedspread beneath her and its cool, silky texture but it wasn't what she wanted and so she continued on, sighing when she made contact with warm, soft skin. Could it be real? Was he real? Excitement spread like wildfire within her and she opened her eyes hoping to see her first love again.

"Hey sleepyhead."

"Maria? What are you doing here?" Liz asked, squinting to see her best friend looming over her, her heart sinking in disappointment.

"Getting your sorry butt out of bed. We had a breakfast date, remember?" Maria questioned before standing up and smoothing the wrinkles away from her taupe cotton slacks.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot." Liz apologized as she sat up quickly and threw her legs over the side of her bed. With the palms of her hands she rubbed her face, the image of his face still fresh in her mind, just like it was everyday of her life. Wasn't time supposed to fade things like this?

"That must have been some dream." Maria commented as she stood in front of Liz's floor length mirror, moving strands of her auburn locks about her head, her gaze never losing sight of Liz who was sitting on the bed, her body still.

"What?" Liz asked, confusion marring her face as she looked up at her dear friend.

Maria turned to face Liz, giving her friend a playful smirk. "Well you were moaning in your sleep and if I didn't back away soon enough I do believe you would have kissed me Liz Parker. So who was the dream guy?"

"I don't remember." Liz said shaking her head as she stood up and turned around to make her bed.

"Of course you don't." Maria replied, her voice low and quiet. Maria watched Liz meticulously make her bed before retreating to her bathroom and Maria held back the urge to charge after her, wanting desperately to shake some sense into her. This had all gone on far too long and she would be damned if she let him continue to hurt Liz even after all these years.

"Just give me a few minutes and I'll be ready." Liz called out from inside the room. Maria nodded her head, wishing silently for the solution that would break Liz finally free of Max Evans.

~*~*~*~

Liz Parker sipped her coffee in the courtyard of O'Brien's restaurant and watched her best friend flip through the morning paper. It had become a daily ritual for Maria, often times not leaving the table until she had scoured every single page. Liz sighed, grateful that the paper had occupied Maria's attention, if only for a short time. Conversation was always inevitable with Maria. Even after years of friendship there never seemed to be a lack of things to talk about. However, it were mornings like these, when the dreams of Max she had the night before continued to play over in her mind that Liz wanted to stay lost in them.

Lately it had been the same dream, night after night. The moment when she and Max had said their final good-bye in his jeep, in front of the Crashdown so many years ago. In each dream Liz reached for Max, hoping to grab hold and beg him to stay. However Liz never could quite reach him and her heart ached for all that she had lost.

"Ooh, there is a sale at Dillard's, you want to drive into town today?" Maria asked, her eyes still scanning the paper.

"Maybe." Liz said taking another sip of her coffee. It was then when Liz caught sight of the Want Ads and she remembered that today was the day. "Oh look to see if my ad's in?" Liz asked, reaching for the section of paper.

"Hold on." Maria ordered, holding the palm of her hand up in the air before flipping the pages. "Okay, here it is. For rent, garage apartment. One bedroom. Spacious. Thousand a month. St. Paul area. Contact Liz at 636-555-0070."

"Let me see." Liz said, reaching her hand out for the paper once more.

"Are you sure you want to rent out the space?" Maria asked after she handed the paper to Liz.

Liz shook her head. "I don't have much of a choice Maria. It's either go back to work at the lab which you know I don't want or get a renter."

"But who knows what kind of lunatic you may get. Besides, with you living all alone I just don't think it is safe."

"I can take care of myself Maria." Liz said pointedly as she looked at Maria.

Maria nodded her head, knowing full well that Liz was more than capable. "I know you can however forty years of friendship has given me the right to worry."

"You just have trust me and my instincts." Liz said softly, reaching her hand out to touch Maria's arm.

"I will." Maria nodded her head once more and the two friends smiled at one another, grateful that time had made some things simple. It was the little things; smiles, touches, an expression, acts that held pages of meaning, though a single word need not be spoken. Maria knew all that Liz had gone through because she had been with her every step of the way. And when Liz asked her to trust her instincts and touched her so, Maria knew from experience that she could. Liz knew a lot of things but what she knew best was people and if a good old gut feeling didn't work there was always a little alien mojo waiting in the wings. Maria knew that Liz wouldn't allow anyone into her home that she didn't trust.

Maria watched her friend look over the paper once more, every now and then sipping her coffee. Maria smiled slightly at the sight of Liz, her brow furrowed, glasses upon her face, her hair pulled back in a lose ponytail. She was clean and perfect and still beautiful after all these years. The passage of time had yet to leave its cruel effects on Liz Parker and in the morning light Maria could almost see the same seventeen year old girl sitting across from her. The only difference now was the pain in Liz's eyes, a whole lifetime's worth that she had been carrying with her for the past twenty-four years. She had tried her best to rid Liz of it, tried to find something or someone to take it all away but so far she had been unsuccessful. Maria hoped that last night might do the trick.

Maria pushed the paper aside and leaned closer towards Liz. "Well I've been waiting for you to bring it up and you haven't so I have to ask. How did your date go last night?"

Liz paused, setting coffee cup on the saucer. "Fine. Doug is a very nice man." Liz said, her voice monotone as her fingers played with the delicate pattern on the cup.

"And?" Maria pressed.

"And he said he would call." Liz said.

"You don't like him?"

Liz sighed and looked up at Maria. "It's not that I don't like him, there's just no chemistry."

"You say that about every guy Liz." Maria said, hearing the frustration in her voice, wishing her friend would stop being so stubborn.

"Well it's true. I just haven't found the right guy yet."

Maria shook her head. "Liz you can't keep doing this. You have to let go of the past." Maria said, her voice demanding.

"I have Maria." Liz answered her, trying to sound convincing. Seeing the look upon her best friend's face Liz knew Maria didn't believe her.

"No you haven't. You are still holding onto Max. He's gone Liz and he's never coming back. You have to accept that and move on." Maria pleaded.

"I have, all right." Liz retorted. "It's been twenty-four years and any hope that I had of Max Evans returning died a long time ago."

"Then why can't you let yourself be attracted to another man?"

Liz sighed and let her body relax against the back of the chair, her heart tired of fighting. "I don't know. All I do know is that when I'm on a date I can't let myself relax and open up. And then I keep trying to find all the man's flaws and before I know it I've made a list so long that no matter how sweet he is, or if he's a great conversationalist or even how handsome he is he'll never be the right guy."

Maria kept silent, waiting for Liz to continue.

"How did you do it?" Liz asked shaking her head, her fingertips tracing the intricate design on the cup once more. "How did you let go after Michael?"

Maria shrugged her shoulders. "It was easy with Jake. He made me laugh the first time I met him and he made me feel safe. I knew in my heart that he wouldn't run out on me. There was also the fact that he was the complete opposite of Michael and that is not even counting the fact that he wasn't an alien."

Maria reached for her friend and Liz placed her hand inside Maria's.

"Look babe, I know how much you loved Max but in reality he wasn't the right guy for you. All he did was hurt you and he's still doing it after all this time and who knows how many light years away. You have got to let the bastard go."

"Maria, please don't call Max that."

"No Liz. He is what he is just like there is no excuse for what he did. Look, we've been over this. When Max fucked Tess and got her pregnant he fucked it up for the rest of us. There is no forgiving that. Let's just hope that we never have to see any of them ever again."

Liz kept silent; knowing there was no point in arguing with Maria. Her mind was made up and she had moved on. Why she couldn’t do that herself, Liz didn't know. Maybe someday. Someday soon before it was too late.

~*~*~*~

Liz threw open the front door of her open, letting her shopping bags fall to the floor and raced across the living room to answer the ringing phone.

"Hello?" Liz asked, her breathing heavy.

"Yes, may I speak to Liz please." Liz heard a man ask.

"This is she."

"Hello Liz. I’m calling about the garage apartment for rent."

"Yes." Liz replied.

"Would it be possible for me to be able to look at it this afternoon?" He asked of her and Liz looked up at the clock on her wall, noting that the time was just a little after two in the afternoon.

"Actually that would be great." Liz said, still trying to catch her breath.

"Good then. Is five okay?"

"Yes. The address is 25 Kenneth Drive, St. Paul."

"Got it. See you at five then." He told her.

"Um wait, I didn't catch you name."

"It's Xan. Xan Wilson."

Liz paused for a second upon hearing his name and forced herself to reply. "I'll see you at five Mr. Wilson. Goodbye."

Liz hung up the phone, her mind swarming with memories of the past that the name Xan had just brought forth.

"Stop it Liz. That part of your life is over, it's time to move on." Liz ordered herself before retrieving her bags and taking them up to her bedroom.

TBC…


[ edited 16time(s), last at 12-Feb-2003 11:14:38 PM ]
posted on 18-Oct-2002 6:51:55 PM
Author's Note:

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read this story, I'm glad you are enjoying it. *happy*

PART TWO

"All right Sam, time for inverted poses. You ready?'' Liz asked as she positioned a folded cotton blanket in the center of her yoga mat. She laughed out loud when Sam let out a deep bark and lowered his body onto his fluffy, blue cotton towel and turned himself onto his back.

"Good boy."

Sam kept a watchful eye as Liz lay down, with her shoulders on the blankets and bent her knees over her abdomen and then straightened them, her legs up and her hands pressed against her shoulders blades for support. He then cocked his head, somewhat puzzled over how his beloved owner could position her body in such a way. He continued to stare at Liz as she moved throughout her last few poses and he panted softly, his thick tail lightly swaying back and forth.

Liz moved into her final pose, the corpse pose as Maria called it and focused on keeping her breathing even, her body relaxed. With each breath she could feel the weight of her body sinking into the floor and her mind becoming still. Gone were the thoughts of Max and the dream she had last night. She had let go of her memories about the tears she had shed earlier in the mall bathroom after Maria told her latest suspicion; that she was pregnant. Liz had even forgotten about the man with the oh so familiar name who was coming by to look at the apartment or the all-day insatiable need to have a cigarette. All she felt right now was peace, in her mind and in her body and Liz wished she could stay this way forever.

The minutes passed and Sam began to stir and Liz reluctantly ended her mediation. As she rolled up her yoga mat Liz noticed she only had a half-hour until Xan Wilson was to arrive. An image of Max quickly flickered in her mind and Liz shut her eyes tight, forcing the image out, refusing the let him take any more of the day away from her. He was gone, for good. It was feeling she felt deep within her soul and seeing his face, whether she was dreaming or awake Liz knew it wasn't going to make him real. Wherever Max was at this moment, he wasn't with her and he never would be again.

"C'mon Sam, let's get some water." Liz said and led the two of them into the kitchen, the quiet house coming to life with the sounds of Liz's bare feet and Sam's paws paddling across the hardwood floor. Once inside the kitchen Liz opened up her refrigerator and took out two bottles of water. She opened both and poured one of them out into Sam's large silver bowl that sat by the back door. He lapped it up eagerly as Liz drank her own water, a daily ritual between the two them after they had worked out.

Whether it was yoga or weight training or a run through the countryside, Sam was faithfully by her side, providing her the companionship and support Liz needed. He had been her trusted friend ever since she rescued him from the pound seven years ago. At the time he was only a puppy but he had been abused, various cuts and scrapes on his body, a part of his ear missing, his back right leg broken. Sam had been abused by a local teen and been left to die in a ditch just outside of town. Animal services had found him and tried to mend his physical wounds, however it had been Liz who adopted him from the shelter and healed his broken heart with her love.

He was skittish at first around Liz but Liz remained patient and gentle and Sam learned to trust her and her intentions. In time, he bounced back and learned to enjoy the life with Liz he had been given. He was also fiercely devoted and protective of her, never allowing anyone he didn't trust to come near Liz. He would bark and growl; making sure the terrified human knew what he was capable of if necessary.

Liz bent down and began stroking his soft chocolate-brown coat, as she stared out the back door. Fall was coming soon, she could see it in the way the leaves were beginning to change color, from green to yellow, and she sighed over the thought of her entire back lawn covered with leaves and how long it would take to clean them up. Liz really didn't mind the work though, which had always been plentiful since she had bought the place nine years ago. Her land, roughly ten-acres in measurement kept her busy with chores of gardening and tending to her horses. She had a small apple orchard and a large strawberry patch in the back corner and there was always the inside maintenance that her old farmhouse required. It was a quiet and simple life; much different than times spent many years' back which was why she appreciated so much more. She had lived the life of business suits and deadlines, water cooler talk and big paychecks and it had left her lonelier than she ever felt on the farm by herself.

In reality though she wasn't alone. She had Sam; her beautiful hundred pound Labrador Retriever. And she had Maria and Kyle, the two best friends a girl could ever have. She had even been blessed with godchildren and the love and friendship of Kyle and Maria's spouses. Life for Liz for the most part was good. She had a lifetime of memories to reflect on, some good and some bad. There were accomplishments and failures, embarrassments and moments to be proud of. However Liz wanted more and no amount of yoga or time with friends or fallen tears were going to give her the more that she wanted and knowing that was more painful than all the dreams she would ever have a Max Evans.

As if sensing her sadness Sam rested his head upon Liz's legs as Liz continued to stoke his fur, grateful for his presence. He closed his eyes and Liz leaned back against the cupboard, closing her eyes as well.

~*~*~*~*~

Xan glanced over quickly at his automobile navigational system and according to it he had just missed his turn.

"Shit" Xan muttered under his breath and he looked in his rear-view mirror to see if anyone was behind him. After seeing that he was clear, his shifted his car into reverse and backed up until he was parallel with the missed road. Nervously he looked at the clock in his car and shook his head. He was late. Ten minutes so far to be exact and he hated how his tardiness would look to his potential landlord. Xan turned onto Kenneth Drive, the words of his mother about the importance of punctuality echoing in his mind.

It had almost been his mother's personal crusade in life to make sure Xan arrived to places on time, with impeccable personal hygiene that should only be surpassed by his even more impeccable manners. He laughed to the memory of his mom and he knew if she was sitting right next to him she would surely be giving him one of her patented looks. He could use one right about now; at least it would take his attention from the butterflies that were multiplying by the minute in his stomach.

He was nervous which puzzled him. Xan rarely became nervous about things, tending to take life mostly in stride. Whatever happens, happens was his motto for living. You take the good with bad, the ups and the downs; you got to give a little to get a little as his father used to say. And so he did, usually, however today was different. Ever since he had called his landlord, Liz, he couldn’t shake the nervousness he was feeling nor could he rid himself of the thought that things were about to change for him.

Xan ran his large hand through his brown hair in attempt to calm his nerves. The last thing he wanted was this lady to think he was some weirdo and not rent out the space to him. He needed this apartment, even though it was fifteen miles away from his school and the hospital; it still appealed to him. The place was located just outside of St. Paul; a small community that had remained relatively unchanged in the midst of the burgeoning St. Louis and its suburbs. He had been fond of it when he first drove through the town last year with a couple of his buddies. They were on a fishing trip and were told that a bait shop in St. Paul had some surefire bait that catfish couldn't resist. So they had stopped, purchased some after they had eaten at local restaurant called O'Briens and sure enough the bait worked. On that day they had managed to catch more catfish than beers drunk and later on when they passed back through the town on their way back to the dorms he knew this was a town where he could call home.

A home. Xan loved that word. He instantly thought of his house back in Albuquerque where he had grown up with his parents. He tried to get back there every chance he could but medical school had made those times fewer and few these last couple of years. Now in his third year and with all the time he would have to put in at the hospital he would be lucky if he got to go home at Christmas. He didn't have the heart to tell his mom that that was a definitely possibility. She needed him home during Christmas time and Xan couldn't bear the thought of her sitting around the Christmas tree alone. Maybe if this new place worked out he could fly her out her, Xan thought.

Xan shifted his attention back to the task at hand and begun reading the house numbers on the mailboxes that infrequently lined the road. They were getting smaller and within a short time he saw his destination, 25 Kenneth Drive. Xan cocked his head and squinted up at the large white farmhouse that sat back off the road, surrounded by large Oak and Locust trees, a red painted barn to the right. The whole sight reminded him of Grant Wood painting; all that was missing was an old lady and an old man with pitchfork in hand. Xan sighed in contentment, feeling his first sense of calm all afternoon and he knew this was where he wanted to live.

~*~*~*~*

The sound of Sam barking brought Liz out her sleep and as she opened her eyes she saw Sam moving quickly through the house to the front door. Liz stood up and began following him, squinting her eyes to see what had Sam barking. As she approached the foyer she saw a man on the other side of the door, the stained glass distorting his features and she assumed this must be the man who was here to look at the apartment; Xan Wilson.

"Sshh Sam." Liz ordered and she tugged on his collar and pulled him away from the door. Quickly Liz ran her hand over her hair and wished she had taken the time to take a shower. Matted hair and sweat stained clothes was not the first impression she wanted to make. She thought for an instant about using her powers to change her appearance but decided against it. Sweaty old lady would have to do, she concurred.
Liz took a deep breath and opened the heavy wooden front door; the screen door rattling as she did and she caught first sight of him. Unknowingly her mouth moved to form his name but no sound came out. Her voice, along with her breath had been caught in her throat upon seeing him and Liz felt herself begin to sway. She blinked and stared at the man who stood a few feet a way from her that reminded her of Max Evans.

"Liz?" Xan questioned after she opened the door. He was surprised he managed to even say her name now that the butterflies had sprang to life again. He couldn't stop them or his heart that seemed to be racing a mile a minute as he looked at her. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and Xan stood there, continuing to take in her beauty.

"Max?" Liz whispered, so faint that Xan barely understood what she had called him.

"No, I'm Xan Wilson, we had an appointment about the apartment." Xan clarified, hoping even more that she would allow him to rent the apartment out.

Liz shook her head, trying to clear away the confusion. "Um, Yes. I'm sorry. C'mon in." Liz offered as she cleared her throat. Liz stepped away from the open door to allow him access.

"I'm not sure if I can." Xan said, very aware of the mammoth size dog that was keeping that from happening. Sam was on all fours, his large tongue dangling out the side of his mouth as he panted heavily.

"Oh sorry. Out of the way Sam." Liz said as she nudged him lightly, all the while never losing sight of Xan. At first he appeared to be the spitting image of Max, with his dark hair and full lips but now, after she had stared awhile Liz began to notice other things about him that changed all that. She noticed his eyes, how they were sky blue color and larger in shape. His nose was different too, broader she thought. As Liz continued to observe him the image of Max began to disappear and she found herself looking at someone else entirely. Someone new.

"I'm sorry I'm late. I got a little lost." Xan apologized, hoping that he didn't sound like a blundering idiot. A confident man, who in the past never seemed to have a loss for words, Xan found himself searching his mind for the next thing to say, other than words of complete adoration that he was feeling for this woman he had laid his eyes on.

"It's okay." Liz said, nodding her head, still struggling herself for communication. A thousand people had passed through the course of her life but none had rendered her speechless. Was it because of his faint resemblance of Max or was it because of the little spark of attraction that had flickered to life inside of her when she saw him, Liz wondered. Silently she cursed herself for even feeling such a thing. After all she was old enough to be his mother and here she was attracted to him.

"Why don't I show you the apartment." Liz offered, gesturing towards the open doorway. Xan nodded his head and followed Liz and Sam out the door and across the front porch. After they had made their way down the short flight of stairs Xan stepped up beside Liz as they walked across the gravel driveway.

"You have a nice place." Xan said as he cast a nervous glance around the farm.

"Thank you." Liz replied softly and looked down at Sam who had protectively placed himself between her and Xan.

"How long have you lived here?"

"It will be ten years this December." Liz said, allowing herself to look at Xan for the first time since they had left the house. She couldn't help but think of Kyle right at this moment, who would surely give her a hard time if he knew that she was having fuzzy feelings over this young man. Liz let out a soft laugh over it all, realizing what a fool she must be.

"What?" Xan asked, worried that she was laughing because of him. He was making an idiot out of himself he just knew it.

"Oh, nothing, sorry. Just…uh never mind, the apartment is just up these stairs." Liz brought up her hand, motioning to wooden stairs that were now in front of him.

Once again, Xan gestured for her to lead and Liz cringed at thought over how large her backside must look to him as he followed her up the stairs and she prayed he wasn't paying attention.

Xan walked up the stairs, trying his best to keep his eyes of the sight in front of him. If there was any doubt he felt attracted to Liz, there wasn't now. From the view he was getting to the even more lovely one of her face when she turned down to look at him once she reached the top of the stairs, it all made him want her.

Liz opened the apartment door and walked inside, Xan a few paces behind her. She flipped on the light switch and looked over the apartment, tying to imagine what Xan might of think of it. Was it too small or perhaps she had decorated it too feminine, Liz wondered and then instantly regretted her decision to put yellow curtains in the living room.

"If there is something you don't like, feel free to change it." Liz offered and began biting her lower lip.

"Oh, no, this is great. Really great." Xan nodded eagerly, his attention torn between the apartment and Liz.

"Well the kitchen is over there as you can see. All the appliances work and the stove is electric." Liz began walking over to the kitchen, Xan following her once more. "I, I even put in a dishwasher, here." Liz said, pointing to it.

"That's good."

"And if you go to you left…" Liz paused as she approached him, standing so close that she could smell the rich scent of his cologne. Her head swam a little and she tried to keep focus. "Um, the bedroom is through that door." Liz finished, forcing herself to pass by him quickly.

Silently they toured the bedroom and then the bathroom, Liz opening closet and cabinet doors, allowing Xan to get a better look. He only nodded when she showed him such things, not caring if he had a place to store his belongings. They could all go on the floor for all that mattered, just so long as he was able to live her next to her.

"So what do you think?"

"It's perfect. I'll take it." Xan answered eagerly.

"Good. That's good. I just have couple forms I need you to fill out. They're in the house."

"Okay."

Liz and Xan made their way back into Liz's home where Xan filled out the necessary paperwork. The chatted a little as he filled out his information and Liz found out he was a medical student at Washington University and had wanted a place that was quiet so he could study. In turn Liz had told him her last name, informed him of tenant information and tried to fill the quiet moments with small talk about the weather. All the while Liz tried her best to bury the physical attraction she was feeling that had only increased when they sat down at her dining room table. Suddenly it became even easier to do when she read Xan's birth date, quickly doing the math in her head the told her that he was only twenty-four, much too young for a forty-two year old woman.

"So I'll be by tomorrow afternoon with my things and your check Ms. Parker." Xan said, trying to be respectful, hoping to leave her with a good impression.

"Sounds good." Liz said as she walked him out. She watched Xan climb into his automobile and back out of her driveway, Sam following Xan's car the entire time. Liz sat down on the stairs of her front porch, her arms around her knees and watched his car fade into the distance until she could see him no more. She stayed on the porch, long after sunset until the coldness and pangs of hunger forced inside for another night by herself.

TBC…


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 18-Oct-2002 7:30:14 PM ]
posted on 19-Oct-2002 2:00:25 AM
Oh Araxie, now you have me feeling guilty and I can not deceive you or others who have been speculating. I'm not going to say too much but I will tell you that this is not a dreamer fic. The board format changed Friday which placed this story in a category it really shouldn't be in. I asked Cookie to move it into the CC category for me. Don't get me wrong I love Max and Liz but this time around I wanted to do something different, focusing more on Liz. Now I understand this may turn some of you away and if you can't stand to read anything other than a dreamer story I will understand. I just ask that you please give this story a shot, no matter who wins Liz's heart at the end.

Thanks,
Abbi*happy*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 19-Oct-2002 2:02:53 AM ]
posted on 23-Oct-2002 2:35:14 AM
Author's Note: Ah, so you want to know who Xan is. I'm sorry I can't tell you yet but all will be revealed very soon. *wink*

Must tell you that the character of Jake, Maria's husband is now being called Vern. I changed it as part of a tribute to one of my favorite shows. I won't tell you which one but there are a few more clues in this part to help figure which show it is.

Thanks so much for the taking the time to read this story and for the lovely feedback.

Part 4 will come after my next update on Family.

Abbi*happy*

PART THREE

When Liz pulled into her driveway Friday afternoon, she immediately spotted the two vehicles that were parked at the end of it. Both she recognized. The one on the right, near the garage was Xan's, the one on the left, Kyle's. Liz slowly steered her car between the two and parked it. Absentmindedly she reached for her purse that was lying on the passenger seat as her eyes darted around the area for any sign of Xan. The trunk of his car was up and the door to the apartment was open and Liz assumed he must be inside, probably unpacking. For a moment Liz thought about going up, seeing if he was settling in all right but then decided against it, nerves and curiosity to why Kyle was here being the deciding factors.

Liz stretched her body after she had climbed out of the car and couldn't stop the yawn that escaped her. She was tired. Spending a couple of hours with Hildy always wore Liz out. She was just like Maria was at ten, hyperactive with the ability to speak at an incomprehensible speed. From the time Liz had picked Hildy up from in front of her elementary school up until the moment that she left after Vern arrived, Hildy had never stopped talking. Liz didn't mind, she loved spending time with Maria's daughter and even though it was exhausting Liz treasured those moments with her. The only downside was that it awakened the need inside of Liz to have a child of her very own. Did Maria even know how lucky she was to be called mommy, Liz wondered? Of course she did, Liz answered herself and immediately felt guilty for the jealously monster that had reared its ugly head.

She was happy for Maria, truly she was and Liz knew she would be thrilled when Maria told her how her doctor's visit went this afternoon. If Maria's suspicion were correct, in eight months she would be a mommy once again and Liz would have the pleasure of being a part of that child's life. It was almost as good as having her own. Almost.

Liz sighed, too tired to worry or think about it any longer. All she wanted was a nice hot bath and some chick flick on Lifetime to watch, allowing her to cry over someone else's problems for a change.

Liz stepped inside of her home, immediately greeted by Sam, his tail wagging furiously.

"Hey Sammy, did you miss me?" Liz asked, bending over to rub Sam's fur. He answered her with a lick on the cheek and Liz jerked away before he could get in another swipe. "Do you need to go out?" Liz watched as Sam walked to the door and barked, letting Liz know that he did. Liz stood up and opened the door, allowing Sam to slip out.

"Kyle!" Liz called out as she threw her keys on the plant stand.

"I’m in the basement!" Kyle answered, his voice muffled.

Liz shook her head, wondering what in the world he was up to. Obviously he had failed to listen the last time she lectured him on being able to take care of herself. Liz briskly walked across the living room and threw open door that led down to the basement and began walking down the stairs.

"Kyle what are you up to?" Liz sighed with exasperation as he came into view, his back to her.

"I'm checking your carbon monoxide detector. It's that time of year you know." Kyle answered, glancing over his shoulder to look at Liz briefly before focusing on trying to put the lid back on once again.

"Kyle, I can do these things myself." Liz informed him, feeling tired of her friends' constant need to look after her. Hadn't Kyle and Maria seen the change in her after all these years? She wasn't the same girl that existed during those years after Max left. The girl who needed to be looked after constantly for fear she would yet again make the wrong choice. She was strong now and independent and perfectly capable of checking her own carbon monoxide detector.

"I know you can Liz but I'm happy to help so just shut up and let me do this." Kyle said as he snapped the lid back in place. "Finally" he breathed out. Kyle turned around and faced Liz, instantly noticing the look of disgust she wore on her face. He knew that look, been privy to it on many occasions over the last twenty-five years and he knew just how to rid her of it. Kyle flashed her a smile, wide in size with ample white teeth showing. He knew he looked utterly ridiculous and so would Liz, he was counting on it. Just as expected Liz laughed as she shook her head.

"I really don't know how Paige has put up with you all these years." Liz spoke, trying to hold onto her frustration. How Kyle managed to break her so easily she would never know. She supposed it was because of the soft spot she had for him in her heart. The one that had formed from all those years Kyle had spent holding on to her. Her hands, her body, her heart; holding on so tight so she wouldn't break apart from the guilt, anger and hurt that consumed her soul for far too long. Liz knew she couldn't have made it through that dark time without him.

"Me either." Kyle admitted as he toned down his smile. Kyle reached for Liz's hand and with a final sigh Liz took it and lead Kyle up the stairs.

"So I met your new tenant." Kyle said as they reached the top.

"You did?"

"Yep, he was unloading his car when I pulled up." Kyle answered as he walked through the house on route to the kitchen.

"So what did you think?" Liz asked as she followed Kyle.

Kyle shrugged his shoulders and then turned on the water faucet. "He seems all right, though I can't figure out why he would want to live all the way out here and make the commute."

"He told me he likes the quiet." Liz answered as she watched Kyle wash his hands. She toyed with her next thought, debating whether or not to ask him. By doing so could bring up the past and just as Maria had buried it, Kyle had provided the shovel. The past had been painful for all of them and the wounds that it had caused would never really heal, especially if they kept being exposed. Still Liz couldn't stop herself from wondering if Kyle saw something familiar when he looked at Xan.

"So, um does he remind you of anyone?" Liz asked, trying to sound casual. She handed Kyle a dishtowel and watched his facial expressions, unconsciously furrowing her brow when he did.

"Should he?" Kyle asked taking the towel from Liz.

"Well, no I just thought he looked kind of familiar, that's all."

Kyle looked out the window above the sink, giving Liz's question one more thought. "I guess he kind of looks like Mr. McCormick." He offered.

"Our old pharmacist?" Liz asked skeptically.

"Yeah." Kyle answered flippantly as he opened up the refrigerator door and began looking inside.

Liz's mouth opened slightly, puzzled by how Kyle could make such a correlation.

"The man who's seventy-five, walks with a cane and is bald?" Liz spoke, trying to clarify that it was indeed the same Mr. McCormick.

Kyle looked up from his inspection upon feeling Liz's incredulous stare and cringed. Why all the women in his life had to have that same look with him, he'd never know. Thank goodness for Vern. "Yeah, hell I don't know Liz. You know I'm not any good at stuff like this."

"Well at least you could do a little better than Mr. McCormick." Liz said as she walked over to the fridge. Kyle stood speechless and Liz rolled her eyes and sighed.

"Look I've got bigger problems than trying to guess who your new renter reminds you of." Kyle said, running his hands through his dark blonde hair and then clasping them together at the base of his skull.

"Why, what's wrong?" Liz asked, concerned, Xan's familiarity forgotten.

"I met him Liz. You know that Ty kid that Genni's been talking about?"

Liz nodded her head in understanding and then reached inside the fridge and grabbed Kyle a soda. She handed it to him as Kyle continued on.

"Well he dropped Genni off at the house this afternoon and I actually had to shake the boy's hand. Apparently he's meeting her at the football game and then taking her to the dance. Isn't that great?" Kyle asked sarcastically.

"You knew this day would come Kyle." Liz replied, trying to be sympathetic.

"Well that doesn't make me like it or him for that matter." Kyle sighed as he fell into a chair at the kitchen table. Liz followed suit, sitting down on the chair next to him and placed a hand on his arm.

"Why? From how Genni talks he seems like a nice boy." Liz said softly.

"What does she know? She's only sixteen years old for pete's sake; she's still a baby! She doesn't see what I do."

"And what's that?"

"He's arrogant and way too into his looks, plus he's got that look in eyes. You know the one that tells me he's only thinking about sex. Well not with my daughter dammit!" Kyle lowered the can of soda on table with a little too much force. Some of the brown liquid shot out, landing all over Kyle's hand and the table. Kyle swore and raised his free hand up over the mess but Liz halted his actions as she placed her hand over his.

"Let me." Liz offered. Kyle nodded and took his hand away, knowing it was best for Liz to handle it. Things always tended to go from bad to worse when Kyle used his powers when his emotions were raised. Objects had a chance on either being melted, set on fire or blown up and Kyle didn't feel like cleaning up a mess.

With a swipe of her hand Liz cleaned up the mess for him and then focused her attention back on Kyle.

"Kyle listen yourself. You're being the paranoid, overprotective father here. You've got to trust Genni and let her enjoy her first date."

"I'm trying," Kyle breathed out. "It's just that I remember being sixteen and I also remember what I was doing at sixteen and I don't want my daughter to follow in my footsteps."

"She's not. I doubt if Genni will even let Ty kiss her good night."

"You think?" Kyle asked, his voice hopeful.

Liz let out a small laugh and nodded her head. "Yeah, I do."

Once again Kyle reached for Liz's hand and held onto it tightly, grateful for her faith in Genni. He only wished he had some at this moment but when it came to Genni it was hard. Not that she wasn't trustworthy but because she was his oldest. The first to perform all the childhood milestones. Kyle wanted to protect her from the hurt this milestone was capable of, just as much as he wanted to when she learned how to walk. Then he had followed her around the house, making sure she wouldn't fall and hurt herself. He had been there to catch her when she started to fall and let his own body hit the coffee table instead of Genni. He couldn't be there for her this time though and deep down he understand what that fact really meant. It was all part of growing up and all the alien powers in the world couldn't prevent his little girl from doing so.

"So you're coming to the game right?" Kyle asked before taking a sip of what was left of his soda.

"Uh, sure. I wouldn't miss it." Liz said and bit her lip, trying to keep her true feelings hidden. Tonight she didn't feel like sitting with her friends, supporting Kyle and his team. If she went she would have to smile and cheer and act like everything was okay. She would have to listen as Maria and Paige tried to set her up with the next available bachelor in the area and then come up with an excuse as to why she didn't want to date him. One that had nothing to do with Max Evans. Liz had actually gotten quite good at it, her laundry list of excuses almost as long as the one she had created to give for after the date. So what if her screening process was a bit too refined and conditional? At least it kept the majority of potential suitors away which in turn freed Liz from numerous nights of dates gone wrong and moments wishing to be anywhere but.

"Good cause it should be a good one. I think my boys will annihilate Fort Zumwalt South."

"Is there even a question about that why with you as their coach." Liz said playfully trying to rid Kyle of the skeptic stare that he was giving her, telling her that he knew something was up. Kyle was never easy to fool as much Liz had wished he were at times. The truth was Kyle knew Liz better than anybody, even Maria. The two of them shared a bond, more than friendship, something alien and all because of Max. Their bodies had both undergone a change that Max had started when he healed them both from lethal gunshot wounds that occurred during their sophomore years. Unbeknownst to Max or the rest of the aliens that once inhabited the Earth, he had altered their bodies, their minds to be able to access all that human beings were truly capable of.

It was frightening to them at first when Liz's powers began to make themselves known during their senior year. Kyle knew he was soon to follow, the months spent waiting wrecking havoc on his nerves. Even Maria had spent many of nights worrying over them, wishing their powers were only a delayed temporary side effect of Max's healing. However they weren't and once Liz and Kyle had gotten past the fear and the anger they began to accept their new selves. Together they explored what they could do with a concentrated thought and by doing so opened themselves up to each other, connecting both mind and soul.

The first time they connected Liz wept afterwards, her heart aching for a time when she had only connected with Max. Those beautiful times when their souls touched, their deepest thoughts and fantasies made known only to each other. Liz missed the feel of Max's soul intertwined with her own and she cried over the fact that she would never feel him again. The only saving grace was Liz's connection with Kyle and when she stopped crying over the loss of Max's soul Liz began to cry over the magnificence of Kyle's.

His soul was kind and timid and bruised by the people in his life that had hurt him. Beyond the bruises Liz found humor and love and a wisdom that was far beyond Kyle's years. The experience was one of the most precious things that Liz and been given and it gave her the courage to move ahead.

It was the same for Kyle. Even though the connection at first had been a surprise and Liz fought to keep control, in time she opened the crevices of her mind and let Kyle really see all that was in her. The parts of her soul that she had kept locked away since the year everything went wrong. When unthinkable words had been said and people did the unimaginable. And after that year, with the aliens gone and hearts broken Liz changed to the point of being almost unrecognizable. The girl he knew all his life barely existed during that time, giving way to a woman he sometimes feared. Up until the time they first connected him and Maria had been scared for Liz and of her and when he connected with her Kyle began to understand how dark and scary Liz's mind could get because he saw it, felt it. The experience nearly consumed him but he held fast, knowing that Liz needed him now more than ever. So when the cries came, the kind that tore at her soul and shook her entire body, he understood the pain behind them that she felt and from then on he knew the right thing to say and do to help her find some peace.

The connection that they shared helped to lift Liz out of some of her despair and put her on a road to healing. There were still inner demons to slay, tears to shed and moments when she felt like giving up but through it all there was Kyle and Maria, holding on, never letting go.

Liz blinked back the tears that were beginning to form in her eyes and put her best smile upon her face. She didn't want to remember those dark days and she didn't want Kyle to either. He had a good life now. A loving wife, three beautiful daughters, a job he loved and lots of inner peace.

"You okay?" Kyle asked, tugging at Liz's hand.

"Just tired but I'm looking forward to tonight." Liz said as she nodded her head. "So what time to do you need to be back at the school?"

Kyle looked up at the kitchen clock that hung on the wall and sighed. "In about fifteen minutes so I should go. You sure you're okay?" Kyle asked, looking deep into Liz's eyes.

"Yes, don't worry. You just concentrate on winning that game." Liz said and smiled at him.

"I'm here for you."

Liz wrapped her arms around Kyle and hugged him. "I know. Thanks for coming over."

"Anytime Liz." Kyle said, giving Liz a final squeeze before breaking away.

Liz walked Kyle to the front door and opened it for him, giving him a gentle push as he passed through the doorway.

"Oh by the way, who does your new tenant remind you of?" Kyle asked after he stepped off the porch, turning to face Liz.

"No one." Liz said, shaking her head. "I'll see you later." Liz bid Kyle a final goodbye and closed the door.

TBC…


posted on 12-Nov-2002 2:59:05 AM
PART FOUR

Liz began to sort through a stack of mail after Kyle left, trying to keep busy with the daily tasks of life. She had a good hour before she had to leave for the game, long enough time for all the things that she would normally do to fill the space. However Liz's mind wasn't focused on the water bill or the fact that the nightly news was due to come on in about five minutes. It was on Xan and the mystery that surrounded him.

At first sight yesterday afternoon he appeared to be the spitting image of Max Evans, a boy that had taken her heart after he saved her life when she was barely sixteen. Two years later he broke it and Liz had spent the following years trying to repair the damage and claim sole ownership once more. It had been the toughest fight of her life, especially since her opponent lived within her soul. His face was constantly invading her thoughts, his voice echoing within her heart. No matter how hard she tried after Max left for Antar her Max wouldn't let go and it almost destroyed Liz and everyone around her.

The months immediately after Max had left were the worst and Liz wished with every waking breath for death to take her away. The guilt was unbearable as well as the knowledge that she had lost the love of her life. No man would ever take his place. No matter whom he was or hard he tried.

The first relationships after Max were dysfunctional to say the least. There was Maria's cousin Sean. He was the first and suffered the most by trying to love her. Sean would have done anything to take the darkness from her face and Liz knew it. She abused his compassion, his want of her and took from him what she could. It was the darkest time of Liz's life and long after it was over Liz began to deeply regret the pain she had caused Sean. The mess his life was all because of her. She tried to apologize profusely, but he returned the letters she had sent to him in prison and when he was released fourteen years ago he told no one that knew of him back in Roswell where he was going. It wasn't until Amy, Maria's mother, heard from her sister five years come this April that they knew where he had gone. But then it was too late. Sean had died in a car accident just outside of Los Angeles. The funeral was to be the next day and Liz dropped everything and flew out with Maria to bid their final good-byes. Liz held onto Sean's cold hand as he lay in his coffin and whispered words of repentance to him, praying that somehow he would hear her and believe that she was truly sorry. Only God knew if Sean could forgive her.

Men that didn't even have names followed after Sean during Liz's senior year. To Liz they were another warm body that in the dark of night she could almost believe it was Max. That is if they didn't speak and if she didn't breathe in their scent and always if she drank enough alcohol Liz could almost give in to the lie. It wasn't until the night turned to day and the alcohol lost its power to fool that the illusion became an ugly reality. Those were the times that Liz hated herself and what she had become. The truth being never more crystal clear in those mornings after when she stood in front of her mirror, naked and exposed and she knew that even if Max came back to her one day he wouldn't want the girl that she was now. And yet Liz couldn't let go of the hope that he would.

Confrontations and circumstances came to play as high school ended and they forced Liz to see what her behavior was doing to all that loved her. Though she tried not to, she couldn't stop seeing the hurt in their eyes and hear the love behind their desperate pleas. A love so deep that it saw past the filth and the self-loathing that covered her and wanted her anyway. And so for them and for her own self Liz chose life for the first time since Max left.

When the self-beating stopped and Liz began to assemble a new life Kyle was the man by her side. It started innocently, a New Year's Eve kiss that held the potential of something wonderful. Tentatively they moved forward, allowing love to find its place. The relationship was freeing for Liz for Kyle knew her deepest, darkest secrets and he loved her anyway. He never pushed and he never expected more than Liz could give and because of his understanding it allowed Liz to began to understand. To discover the woman she was without Max Evans.

As time moved on Liz's tiny, tattered heart began to beat a little faster and began to love a lot more, more than she had allowed in such a very long time. The years spent with Kyle were a time of growth and healing, a time of tears and laughter. Kyle was her companion, the perfect date when attending graduations and weddings. He was the man she cuddled with and the one who stole the blankets during the night. The boyfriend that remembered birthdays and anniversaries, sent flowers just because and always let her pick out the movie. It was a nice, safe relationship made up of two people who respected and loved each other deeply.

For four years they were together, right up until the time that Liz introduced Kyle to her new friend Paige. The sparks that flew that night could have lit up the sky and Liz knew the only right thing to do was to let Kyle go. She was ready to stand on her own and ready to give Kyle the love of his life. Liz knew that she and Kyle would always love each other that special way that true friends do however they weren't in love, at least not in the way soul mates should be. On the night when it was over they held each other tight, tears falling while promises were made to never lose the friendship between them. And they never had, if anything it was stronger than ever even after all these years.

After Kyle and much to the assistance of her friends Liz began to date. A few men held her interest for awhile but most were dismissed before they even said hello. The reasons why were clear; they weren't Max. During those years he became an invisible force that stayed with her. Invisible to everyone but her. He was the other man at the dinner table. The one whose voice Liz heard more clearly than all those around her. It was his eyes that the candlelight flickered for. His lips she yearned to kiss goodnight. His face she saw in her dreams at night and no matter how hard she tried she couldn't make him go away.

Liz held onto the hope that one day she would open up her front door and there Max would be, standing on her porch, whispering her name. She wondered how many times she had dashed to the door, flinging it open in hopeful want. But he was never there and then one day the urge to open the door stopped an his presence became suddenly absent from the table. He remained only in her dreams and even those changed. For years her dreams had been fantasies, moments she longed to happen one day. Their wedding day, what it would be like when the finally made love, the birth of their child. A lifetime of the little things that married people get to do.

When the dreams changed there were now memories that filled them. The moments that she had really spent with Max Evans while he lived on Earth. The day that she was shot, their first kiss, the night they proclaimed their love to one another. Months of beautiful and precious memories.

There were the painful moments too. Having to push Max into Tess's arms, the night Alex died, the day Max told her that Tess was pregnant and that they were returning to Antar. For almost six months one year Liz continually dreamed of the moment she realized that Tess had been the one to murder Alex and that very same morning when she and Maria banged on the rocky outer wall of the pod chamber, screaming for Max and Michael to hear them, to expose Tess's lies and stop them from making the biggest mistake of their lives. It was too late and Liz couldn’t stop wondering if Max ever found out the truth. Did he understand the evil the mother of his child was capable of before it was too late? She prayed that he did.

And so for years this was how Max existed in her world, forever seventeen and still loving her. In time Liz stopped wishing he was on the other side of the door, stopped hoping that he would come back to her and stopped wanting her heart back, because she finally did and Liz understood what it meant. Max was dead and no expanse of starry sky could keep that fact from her.

Liz cried the day that understanding washed over her. Huddled in the corner of her bedroom as young Sam licked away her salty tears. Liz mourned over the loss of Max and of the love they shared so long ago. She mourned for all that they would never have that she had longed for in her fantasies. Never again would she hold Max's face in her hands, kiss his tender lips, feel his warm arms around her. She would never know what became of him all those years on Antar. Was he happy with his son and his other family? Did he stop the war? Did he ever miss her as much as she missed him? Liz longed for answers to questions that she knew she would never find, and all there was left to do was move on.

She tried, sometimes harder than others, and whenever the image of Max formed in her mind she pushed him away. He didn't have a place in her life anymore and so the last thing in the world Liz expected when she opened her front door yesterday afternoon was to see a man staring back at her that at first glance looked like Max. The world seemed to stop in that instant and she doubted the truth that told her that Max was no more. He was here, flesh and blood and he was saying her name, just like in her fantasy. But his voice was different, deeper perhaps. And then so were his eyes, his smile, the way he carried himself as he stood there in her open doorway. The longer Liz looked at Xan the less he looked like Max and soon there was only a glimmer of familiarity. Just enough though to keep her wondering about him and the reason why her heart suddenly woke up. What was about Xan Wilson that made him different from all the men since Max?

Liz sighed, knowing it was a waste of effort to think about such things. After all he was young enough to be her child and more than likely all he saw when he looked at her was a lonely old woman that was too screwed up to ever be worth anyone's time. Whatever feelings she had would diminish in time and her questions would be left unanswered.

A low rumbling occurred in Liz's stomach and she welcomed the distraction. At least dinner would kill some time before she had to leave for the game. Liz stood up, placing the mail at the foot of the stairs and stepped outside of her home in search of Sam. Off to her left she heard the sound of Sam's familiar bark and Liz walked across to porch to catch sight of him. She was just about to the corner of her house when she heard a man laughing, and though the voice was fairly new to her ears Liz knew it none the less. It was Xan. Liz felt her pulse began to speed up. And as her pulse raced so did the butterflies in her stomach and her breathing. Liz lean back against the siding, closed her eyes, and laughed over how her body was reacting to this man.

"What is wrong with me?" Liz asked, feeling foolish and slightly crazy. She waited for a moment, forcing herself to taking deep breaths and then moved her hands to smooth back her hair. She pushed herself away from the house and peered around the corner slowly until Xan came into view. He was running around in the backyard near the garage, Sam running close behind. In Xan's hand he held a yellow tennis ball and he was toying with it above Sam's head, causing him to bark. Liz watched as Xan threw the ball in the air and Sam skillfully caught it his mouth before rushing back to Xan. Sam jumped up excitedly and his front paws landed firmly on Xan's chest. The force of Sam's weight pushed Xan backwards and in an instant Xan was on the ground. Sam plopped his body on top of him and began licking his face causing Xan to laugh once more.

A smile spread across Liz's lips as she watched Xan at the mercy of one of Sam's slobbering tongue baths. His expressions quickly wavered from amusement to grimacing and Liz didn't know whether to laugh or feel sorry for the guy. Pity won out and Liz made her way to the backyard to rescue Xan.

"Come here Sam." Liz called out as she neared the two of them, her eyes never losing sight of Xan. She saw his head jerk to the side and Liz held her breath when their eyes locked. Sam leapt off of Xan and rushed to Liz's side but Liz stood unaware. The world around her seemed to disappear as she felt herself being pulled into his sterling blue eyes.

Xan lay motionless on the ground as he looked up at his new landlord, Liz. Liz, he had repeated her name over and over since he had left her yesterday afternoon, the image of her face always in the forefront of his mind. She was amazing, utterly and completely and he had told all his buddies about her as soon as he returned to campus last night. As he packed what little belongings he had, Xan longed for the moment to see her once more. And here the moment was; though he had imagined himself suave and upright, not lying flat on his back covered in dog slobber. Definitely not the second impression he wanted to make. And even though the image of what he must look like right now to her mocked him Xan lay frozen, completely unable to move or to stop staring into Liz Parker's beautiful brown eyes.

Sam ran around Liz's legs, eager to garner Liz's attention that was still fixated on Xan. He jumped and twirled, his tail moving back and forth, his tongue bobbing in and out, utilizing all his usually surefire canine charms and coming up unsuccessful. He whimpered and then pushed his head into her outer thigh, the pressure causing Liz to stumble back.

Liz blinked, trying to get her bearings and her balance back. Startled she looked down at Sam, puzzled to what was going on and how much time had just passed. She could have sworn the sun looked lower in the sky then when she had first came outside. Liz wrapped her arms around herself to protect her from the chill in the air and slowly raised her gaze to look at Xan once more, almost afraid of what would happen when she saw him again.

"Ms. Parker." Xan breathed out as he scrambled to his feet, his hands brushing away the blades of grass and moisture that covered him. He wanted to go to her, steady her tiny frame in his arms but he stopped himself, afraid his touch wouldn't be welcomed.

"Xan." Liz said softly as she looked into his eyes once again. She could feel the pull again but resisted, needing to stay in control and fight back the confusion that was increasing by the second. Whatever these feelings, the reasons that were drawing her to this young man Liz vowed to sort them out later. Now wasn’t the time. After all there was dinner to eat and a football game to watch and long lecture to herself about how crazy it was to be attracted to a man almost half her age.

"You saved me." Xan laughed nervously as he motioned to Sam who remained close to Liz's side.

Liz cast a nervous glance at Sam before looking again at Xan. "Oh, yeah, sorry about that."

"No don't be." Xan replied shaking his head. "He's quite a dog and a mighty strong one too." Absentmindedly Xan rubbed his shoulder with his hand and Liz became concerned.

"Are you all right?" Liz asked as she stepped towards him, closing in on the space that they both had been so aware of. Liz stopped a few feet in front of Xan, close enough to almost touch him and she felt surprised by the need to. For just as his eyes held an open invitation so did his skin. Golden in color, almost mirroring that of the early evening sun and it looked smooth over the hard muscles of his arms. Maybe a hand on his arm or perhaps a quick brush against his neck with her fingertips just to see if he was okay, Liz thought to herself as she continued to look him over though her hands remained still.

"I'm fine, really." Xan assured her, noticing the concerned expression she wore and the fact that she was so near to him. Xan lowered his hand wanting to reach out to her, to feel the touch of her skin, to run his fingers through her thick dark hair but instead he slipped it into his front pocket of his jeans. He felt the light prick of paper on his index finger and he then grasped it between his fingertips and pulled it out, not bothering to look at it. Instead he held it out to Liz to take.

"Uh, I um have your rent check. I went ahead and put this months rent and the security deposit on one check, I hope it's not a problem."

"Oh, no, this is fine. Thank you." Liz said, taking the check from Xan's hand, their fingertips almost touching.

"And I hope you don't mind that I moved my stuff in. Your friend let me in. I was going to wait in my car but he said it would be all right." Xan continued on.

"That's fine. Is the place all right?"

"Oh, its great." Xan said enthusiastically. "More room than I ever had in the dorms."

"Good." Liz nodded and smiled up at him. "Well if you ever need anything just let me know."

"I will. Thank you Ms. Parker." Xan held out his hand for Liz and almost gasped when he felt her slender fingers slide into his palm. Her touch was almost electric and he clasped his fingers around her hand quickly for fear she would let go before he had the chance to savor it. Slowly he began to shake her hand lightly and looked down to watch the sight before him.

"It's Liz. I mean you can call me Liz." Liz said slowly, as she to stood watching their hands move together.

Xan smiled when he heard her grant him permission to use her first name and looked back up at her, still holding on to her hand. "Okay. I will."

Liz met his gaze and felt the blush upon her cheeks as she smiled back.

"Thank you Liz. For everything."

"You're welcome." Liz answered and reluctantly pulled her hand away, hating how cold the air felt against it.

"Well I'm going to go into town and grab some dinner." Xan said, motioning towards his car. He didn't want to leave her but he didn't know what else to do. It was too soon to ask her out and who knew if she would even agree to such a request. For all he knew she had a boyfriend or husband who was out of town of business. He felt his heart sink at the thought of her being married and the possibilities of a relationship with her ceasing to exist. His eyes quickly scanned her left hand, looking for the sparkle of a wedding band and he smiled to himself when he saw none.

"Uh, Xan."

"Yes." Xan's head shot up and looked at Liz.

"I, I have, well if you would like I have some stew in the crock pot. You're more than welcomed to have some with me." Liz offered, her stomach a bundle of nerves once more, taken aback that she had just asked him to dinner. She never asked guys to dinner but before she had time to worry if he would turn her down Xan answered her.

"Stew sounds perfect. Thank you."

The two smiled at each other once more before they both began to move towards the house with Sam between them.

Liz walked through the front door and gestured Xan inside, his second time in two days and the thought pleasantly petrified her.

"The kitchen is this way." Liz said softly, looking over her shoulder, making sure Xan was following her.

"Do you mind if I wash up first?"

"No, not at all. The bathroom is right in here." Liz pointed to the small half-bath to the left of her, reaching in to flip on the light.

"Thank you." Xan replied, as he stepped past her, their bodies touching ever so lightly, the sensation maddening.

After Xan closed the door Liz let out a deep breath and ran her hands through her hair. How she was ever going to make it through dinner, she didn't know. She quickly walked into the kitchen and began setting the table as Sam rested on his back hind legs and watched her.

"Mmm, it smells incredible." Xan said as he came into the room.

"Thank you. It's ready if you want to have a seat." Liz watched Xan move to the table and then cast a nervous glance at Sam, hoping for some support. Sam simply lowered his head on his front paws and blinked and Liz rolled her eyes and sat down at the table.

Liz fidgeted with her soupspoon, her eyes starring intently at her supper afraid to look up at Xan. He was so close now, so close that she could feel the heat from his legs under the table and if she looked at him he would surely know that she was attracted to him. So she agreed to not look at him, not yet at least, not until she had reason to. She took up a spoonful of stew and brought it to her lips, her mind mulling over something to talk about and yet nothing appropriate came to mind.

Liz knew she needed to say something, afraid that her lack of conversation would surely have Xan brand her as strange, if he hadn't already. She could do this, she told herself. It was just conversation. Years of waitressing and business meetings had perfected her communication skills. Heck, she had even mustered up enough to say when she was trapped at a dinner table with the blind dates from Hell. And yet here she was, with a man she wanted to talk to and the only words that could come to mind was if his stew tasted all right.

"This stew is incredible." Xan said before savoring another bite.

"Oh, thank you." Liz sighed, grateful that he not only liked her cooking but that the conversation had begun.

"Is it from scratch?"

"Yes, it is."

"It's incredible. Really incredible." Xan winced when he heard the repetition in his voice. How was he supposed to make this beautiful woman notice him if he couldn't come up with any other word besides incredible? He was a medical student after all. Educated, even somewhat cultured and usually able to converse with just about anyone he came in contact with.


"Have you decided what field to specialize in?" Liz asked.

Xan nodded his head. "I've narrowed it down to two. Family practice and emergency medicine. Both have their rewards so choosing is going to be tough."

"So why did you want to be a doctor?" Liz asked, this time letting herself look at him and she could feel her body start to relax a little.

"My father actually."

"Oh, his he physician too?"

"No, he was a carpenter. He made cabinets and furniture. He was really talented. Well when I was fifteen we were on a fishing trip and when we were out on the lake my Dad had a heart attack. I had no idea how to help him and before I could get him to shore he died."

"I'm so sorry." Liz offered, understanding how difficult it was to lose a parent.

"Thank you." Xan replied as he looked into Liz's eyes, clearly seeing that she cared. He knew at that moment he had just fallen for her a little more.

"Well after his death I had a lot of guilt for not being able to help him and my mom, the eternally wise woman that she is understood that. After she reassured me that I wasn't to blame she told me that I had a choice to make. I could either spend my life in regret or I could make something positive out of my father's death. I chose the positive and I decided that since I didn't know enough to help my father that I could learn and become a doctor and hopefully save someone else's father. And here I am though I haven't done any actual saving yet. So how about you? What do you do for a living?" Xan asked and took a bite of his bread.

"I used to be a molecular biologist but I quit my job two years ago."

"And now?"

Liz lowered her spoon and folded her hands together over her bowl. "I'm sort of in between jobs. I guess I haven't quite figured out what I want to do with the rest of my life. All I know is that I want to try something different."

"I think that's good. I mean you're not afraid to try something new."

Liz let out a small laugh. "Your opinion is of the minority. Most of my coworkers at MetLabs couldn't understand why I wanted to leave my seemingly great job. There were rumors before I officially left that I was having a midlife crisis. I suppose there is some truth to it."

Xan shook his head. "I don't believe it. You're too young for that."

"And you're too kind." Liz said, lowering her lashes.

"I'm serious."

Liz felt the blush creep back up on her cheeks and felt the need to change the direction of the conversation. "Um, thank you. So, where are you originally from?"

"Albuquerque, New Mexico." Xan stated and Liz's eyes grew wide.

"Really? I'm from Roswell."

Xan smiled widely. "No kidding. You know how hard it is to find a fellow New Mexican here in the Midwest. I think it's the snow."

"Well Kyle, whom you met, he's from Roswell as well as my best friend Maria who lives just a couple miles away."

"Did you all move here together?" Xan asked as he pushed his bowl aside and leaned his elbows on the table.

"Yeah, we did." Liz nodded. "We all went to college together at Northwestern and then when I was offered a job in St. Louis we moved down here.

"So the three of you are really close?"

"Very." Liz rolled her eyes. "Almost too close at times. I mean I'm the only one out of the three of us that's not married and they tend to worry about me. A lot actually and it can be…"

"Claustrophobic?" Xan answered, smiling at her.

"Yeah." Liz smiled back. "They mean well though and I don't know what I would do without them."

"I could tell Kyle cares about you. He wouldn't let me out of my car until he saw my copy of the lease." Xan said and they both shared a laugh.

"Oh, I'm sorry about that."

"It's okay." Xan waved his hand in the air. "I'm that way with my mom. She still lives in Albuquerque and she's never remarried and I can't help but worry about her. I know she's fine but I hate knowing that she is all alone. I feel guilty sometimes for being here."

"I know what you mean. After my mom died I seriously thought about moving back to Roswell to help out my dad at his restaurant. I think I would have if my dad hadn't insisted that I stay here."

"Is he still alive?"

"No, he past way two winters ago." Liz answered, still saddened over the fact that her parents were gone.

"I'm sorry Liz." Xan offered, wanting to hold her hand once more, this time for comfort. She looked so sad to him right now and he would give anything to take the sadness away.

"Thank you." Liz tore her eyes away from Xan and looked up at the kitchen clock, wishing it wasn't time to go. But it was and Liz contemplated about not going. Kyle would surely understand and wouldn't even notice until after the game. Maria would however and Liz knew she would calling the house before too long, wondering where she was. She had no choice but to go.

"Do you like football?" Liz asked before she had a chance to regret her latest thought.

"Yeah."

"Well Kyle, he's head coach for Fort Zumwalt North and they have a home game tonight. I have to go and I thought if you wanted to come you could. Kyle would love to have another person cheering on his team."

"That sounds great Liz." Xan said, trying hard to control the smile that was about to burst across his face. Oh how he wanted to spend the evening with her and now he was going to.

"Great. We can take my car." Liz said smiling and pushed her chair back from the table. Xan followed her lead and stood up.

"Okay. Let me just grab my jacket and I'll meet you out front."

Liz nodded and watched Xan walk out of the kitchen. She knew she was acting crazy but for once in her life she didn't care.

TBC…

posted on 7-Dec-2002 10:56:33 PM
I'm here and writing actually. My muse left me for awhile but I'm happy to say she's come back to me and the words are starting to flow. I should have a new part out by tomorrow night and hopefully it will be worth the wait. Now if she would just give me the words for "Family" life would be really good. Back to writing!!!

Thanks for the feedback and the bumps!!!
Abbi*happy*
posted on 8-Dec-2002 5:06:27 PM
Part Five

Expertly Liz steered her car around the numerous curves on the road that led to the football field. She had traveled this road so many times over the past nine years and the familiarity served her well on a night like this. Liz was finding it hard to keep her eyes on it, her gaze constantly wavering from the road to the man next to her. She smiled as Xan spoke. He was telling her of a trip he had taken several years ago with some friends. The trip apparently had not gone well and it ended with Xan stranded along side a road and a rather large, multi-tattooed woman coming to his rescue. She laughed out loud when he told of how the woman had grabbed his buttocks with her large, almost manly size hands and then propositioned him for a night of tender loving in exchange for a ride back into town. He had never been as grateful to see his friends pull up and save him from what would have surely been the worst night of his life.

Xan laughed at the memory, all though at the time it had been anything but funny. On that night he had feared for the last shred of his innocence and quite possibly his life that could have easily been taken by the brazen, biker woman. Now however he was grateful for such a moment to have happened, silently wanting to relive it a thousand times over just to be able to tell such a tale that would make Liz Parker laugh the way she was laughing now. My god she was beautiful, he thought to himself again. He still couldn't believe he was sitting with her in his car on the way to a football game. He didn't actually care where they were going, whether it be a football game or to the moon, just as long as he could be with her.

Xan continued to talk, or rather babble as he suspected how he must sound to Liz but he couldn’t stop himself. He was happy and comfortable in her presence and those feelings kept his mouth moving. The only thing that could make him stop was when Liz looked over at him, her brown eyes twinkling from the glow of the dashboard light. And then she would smile and Xan would stop mid-sentence, getting lost in her beauty for awhile, forgetting about what he had been saying.

"So then what happened?" Liz would ask, her voice rattling him out of his latest, worshipping thought of her. Xan continued on as they drove towards the football game, talking and laughing with her like it was the easiest thing in the world to do.

Liz turned the corner, giving way to the large parking lot that sat across the street from the football field and steered her vehicle to fall in line behind a sleuth of cars waiting to find a spot. There were people everywhere, walking in bunches of two or more, dressed in winter coats and the team's colors of purple and gold. From inside the car Liz could hear bits of conversations people were having as they walked past and the loud cheers and screams from young and old over which team would be victorious tonight. Even from inside the car she could feel the electricity from them all. Their energy that seemed to leap and bound all around them, making her body jolt to life a little more.

She had to admit this is what she loved most about the football, the anticipation, the excitement over what was to come. Tonight though it was magnified with Xan's warm body so close to her in the car, his own energy pushing at hers. His musky scent had pleasantly taken over the car and she loved the sound that his black leather jacket made every time he shifted in his seat. Liz kept stealing glances at his hands; one was on the armrest the other on his knee. They were magnificent with long, lean fingers and palms strong and soft. Her eyes would search out the rest of him as well. His strong thighs, the way his hair curled under slightly at the nape of his neck, his long, dark lashes. He was beautiful and Liz couldn’t ignore the fact that she was indeed attracted to him. Her mind kept telling her she was being foolish but her heart and her body didn't care. Liz smiled to herself, looking at him out of the corner of her eye and watched as his took in the sight before him.

"Wow, there's a lot of people here." Xan stated, looking over the sea of parked vehicles in front of them.

Liz nodded in agreement and concentrated on finding a space. "Yeah, people take their football very seriously around here, especially since Kyle's team has won the State Championship the past two years."

"Kyle must be a great coach." Xan said, turning his attention back to Liz.

"He is. Very dedicated but I'll warn you now, don't let him get you alone after the game."

"Why is that?" Xan asked, smiling at her and Liz laughed.

"Because he'll grill you with an inch of your life about plays and referee calls. It usually takes him until Sunday afternoon after a game to calm down so we tend to ignore him until then."

"Thanks. I'll keep that in mind."

Liz pulled her car in an empty spot in the back corner of the lot, cars pulling in on either side of them. Carefully they both stepped out of the car, aware of the people around them and as they met up at the back of their car, Liz held up two tickets for tonight's game.

"Kyle keeps me stocked up for the entire season. He'll be happy that you're using my extra ticket."

"Me too." Xan said, sighing deeply as he looked down at her. She seemed so tiny, wrapped snug in her navy pea coat, her nose already turning slightly pink from the cold. He wanted to wrap his arms around her and bring her close to him, let his body keep her warm.

Liz looked up at Xan for a moment, reveling in the way his eyes appeared to be looking into hers and she felt the pull to lose herself again in him. It was getting stronger the longer they were together and if she didn't move towards the field soon she wasn't sure where her body might lead her.

"We should get going." Liz said reluctantly, disappointed when he nodded in agreement. They began walking to the stadium entrance, in between a patch of cars to get to the sidewalk that would lead them there.

"Oh gosh this brings back memories." Xan said as they stepped onto the sidewalk. Before them were the tall fluorescent lights shining brightly on the stadium and the sounds of the crowds and the Fort Zumwalt Marching Band performing their opening number.

"Did you play football?" Liz asked, peering up at him.

Xan shook his head. "Not in high school. I was too skinny. I was like six foot and 140 pounds soaking wet and I knew that the minute I stepped out on the field my life would be in jeopardy so I opted to be in the band. You're looking at the quintessential band geek." Xan pointed to himself and cocked his head in acknowledgement.

"I wouldn't call you that." Liz said, smiling at him and Xan held up his right index finger.

"But oh Liz Parker you didn't know me in high school. I practically walked around with a trumpet pressed to my lips and a big white, feathered band hat on my head. And to think I used to wonder why I couldn't get a girl to date me."

Liz laughed, an image of him with a white band hat on his head in her mind yet still she couldn't picture him as he had said. There was nothing geeky about Xan Wilson. "Do you still play?"

"Sometimes. During my junior year of high school I started playing the guitar in hopes of finally getting a date." Xan admitted.

"Did it work?" Liz asked playfully as she raised her eyebrows.

"Not at first. I was a pretty horrible guitar player, but I kept practicing, eventually joined a band and finally managed to muster up enough courage to ask my high school crush on a date."

"So did she say yes?"

"Yep. We ended up dating the rest of my senior year, right up until I left for college." Xan said, as he remembered briefly his first love. He was so crazy over her for the longest time and when she had agreed to go out with him he felt like the luckiest boy in the world. She was everything to him back then. First kiss, first love. However their lives were headed in two different directions. She was going to college in Miami, he to St. Louis. There would be too much distance to try to make a long distance relationship work and the only logical thing to do was to end it. Breaking up hurt of course but he was able to move on, date again, and let his heart be open to someone new. There had be a few he grew to care for but none that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, not until now anyway. Yes, he knew it was completely illogical to even think such a thing, but one look at Liz Parker and he knew what he wanted. His hope now was that she would want the same.

"How about you? Were you into sports in high school?" Xan asked before they crossed the street.

"No but I was good at cheering a team on. I spent most of my time in high school studying and working." And hanging around with aliens, Liz thought. The reality was she had missed a lot this. Going to games and pep rallies, high school dances and after-game parties. She had been too busy falling in love with Max and doing anything to keep him safe. He had been her life and so many of her high school memories were wrapped up in him. Even after he left, her senior year was spent self-destructing and before she knew it high school was over and all she had left to remember it was yearbooks that told the tale of all that she had missed out on.

At least she had these memories with her friends, she conceded. So what if they were older? They could still rally with the best of them, laughing and cheering as Kyle coached his team. She could remember many of nights when they had driven to away games and then stopping at some diner on the way back, eating and singing with the kids, letting themselves be carefree. A luxury they didn't have back in high school.

The crowd was thicker now as they approached the entrance gate. "I hope you don't mind us sitting with my friends. It's just Kyle's wife Paige, my best friend Maria and her husband Vern and of course their kids but they're usually running around with their friends." Liz said, weaving around the line of people waiting to purchase tickets.

"No I don't mind at all. I hope they don't mind me tagging along." Xan said, keeping close to Liz.

"No they won't but I feel like I should apologize now for the plethora of questions Maria will probably ask you. She doesn’t know when to stop sometimes and her inquisitions have taken some of the best men."

Xan lowered his head to Liz and with a half-smile he spoke. "I look forward to the challenge then."

They both laughed as they walked up to the entrance that led into the outdoor football stadium. Liz held out two tickets to the booster club member that sat on a stool near the metal fence and then she looked back to make sure Xan was still behind her. She smiled when she saw him again, his eyes looking right at her, like she was the only person in the crowd of people that surrounded them and once again she felt her heartbeat speed up. Liz forced herself to look forward and she could feel the blush upon her face. She felt happy, happier than she had felt in such a long time. The was a tingling warmth in her stomach, the kind that made her body hum and her mind wonder with a dozen thoughts of Xan. She wanted to laugh out loud, let the smile she had to hold back take root permanently on her face and bloom for the entire world to see. But she wouldn't, even when Xan came up beside her and began to walk in step with her once more.

Liz could feel the warmth of his body; she listened to the sound his shoes made as they hit the tiny bits gravel that covered the track that surrounded the field. She was also very aware of how their bodies seemed to get closer and closer to one another as they continued to walk on. Xan was so close to her now that their sleeves of their coats brushed against each other and every now and then their hands would lightly touch. The moments were always quick but just enough to make the warmth in her stomach heat up a little more each time. Her fingers longed to touch his, to intertwine and hold on for the rest of the night. Liz felt like a silly, little schoolgirl, something she hadn't felt in a really long time and tonight it felt good. She knew in her head Xan didn't think of her as anything more than his landlady, but her heart and her body relished in the possibility that maybe he did. That maybe the reasons behind the dark look in his eyes was because he was feeling the same things. That he wanted to touch her, hold his hand in hers and that the smile that never seemed to leave his face since dinner was because of her.

Sighing, Liz rolled her eyes and then looked ahead at the bleachers, her eyes searching for Maria, wondering what her reaction would be to sight of Xan. She pictured in her mind Maria's eyes widening, her mouth gaping open in astonishment. Liz also knew that as soon as they sat down with her and the others there would be countless questions from Maria, both with her lips and with her eyes, wondering whom this man was and why Liz had brought him with her. On second thought maybe this wasn't such a good idea, Liz said to herself.

"Thanks again for inviting me Liz. I'm having a great time." Xan spoke, his head lowered to hers so that his voice could be heard over the crowd that surrounded them. Once again his hand touched hers, this time a little longer.

"Me too." Liz replied, relishing his touch, willing to face Maria and the rest of her friends just for another chance to touch him again.

Liz led Xan up the small stairway to the bleachers and behind the long line of people that were finding their seats. The destination was clear to Liz, the same spot that they had sat at for the last eleven years. So long in fact that all the regular attendees knew that it was "their" spot and was left open just for their small group. Liz looked up and saw Maria and the others, sitting a few rows in front of the press box, snuggled in coats with blankets around their legs. Maria was engaged in conversation with Paige while Vern was having his own with Troy Finter, a neighbor of his. The kids weren't around, probably off with their friends and Liz was grateful for that a least. The girls would definitely be just as surprised as Maria and Paige to see Aunt Liz with a man, a much younger and very attractive one at that. Their surprised looks and giggles would be harder to dismiss than Maria's and Liz knew she could only handle her friend right now. Liz braced herself for what she knew was coming and as if almost on cue Maria turned her head towards Liz.

Maria smiled; raising her black gloved hand up and waved hello. At that moment Xan placed his hand on the small of her back as they ascended the stairs Liz watched the look on Maria's face change to curiosity then surprise. And just as Liz had pictured Maria's mouth fell open, taking the shape of an O and for the first time in a very long one Maria DeLuca-Yip was rendered speechless.

Liz didn't know whether to laugh out loud or crawl inside her coat and escape the looks that Maria, and now Paige, Vern and about ten other people that new Liz Parker were giving her. Granted most of the other onlookers weren't close friends like Maria, Vern and Paige but they knew her or of her and they knew Liz Parker rarely showed up to a football game with a man. There had been the theories and rumors to why she was still single; ranging from lesbian to emotionally unstable but none of them had any idea of the real reasons. The ones that had led back to Max Evans and alien life forms. She just prayed that Xan wouldn't hear any of those rumors, that someone wouldn't pull him aside and ask him what in the world he was doing with Liz Parker. Or maybe they didn't even suspect something romantic between her and Xan, Liz thought. They probably saw him as a nephew or perhaps a coworker when they looked at him.

Of course they wouldn't because he's young enough to not want anything romantic with you, Liz berated herself, suddenly feeling very foolish for all of her wanting thoughts and feelings for Xan. And in the midst of the football fans and Maria and Paige's surprised stares Liz felt very old and very foolish. Her gaze fell downward and she could feel the wonderful warmth in her belly being taken over by cold, hard reality and she wanted to cry.

Liz suppressed the urge and stepped in the row that Maria and the others sat in, her eyes focusing on the empty space besides Maria.

"Liz, you made it." Paige said jovially, her arm giving Maria a quick nudge in the side to break her out of her stupor.

Maria blinked and closed her mouth, her eyes still wide. "Uh, yeah, we were starting to get worried."

"It took awhile to find a parking space. It's pretty crowded tonight." Liz answered, her eyes darting around, never quite focusing on her friends.

"Well you know Kyle's loving that." Vern said, leaning forward to look at Liz and the man that was standing next to her. Liz finally looked down at them, all three of them sitting so close, staring up at them, looking like birds lined up on a wire. She could see the expectancy in their eyes, wanting to know whom this man was.

"Everyone this is Xan Wilson, my new renter. Xan this is Maria, Paige, Kyle's wife and Vern, Maria's husband." Liz said, pointing as she said their names.

"It's nice to meet you all." Xan greeted, nodding his head in acknowledgement.

"Yeah, same here." Maria, Paige and Vern replied, almost in unison and Liz couldn't help but smile over how comical they looked and sounded.

"I hope you don't mind me sitting with you tonight." Xan spoke again and this time Vern replied.

"No, of course not. They more the merrier." Vern smiled at him and then began to scoot down, tugging on Paige's arm when she didn't follow suit. In turn Paige grabbed a still shell shocked Maria and moved Maria with her down the row.

Liz took the seat next to Maria and Xan sat next to Liz. The space was small and there was no choice but to sit close to Liz. Not that he minded, he loved the feel of the side of her body pressing against his. The feeling was enough to send his mind spinning. Nothing else seemed to matter. Not the crowds, or the cold or the fact that Liz probably didn't feel the same way about him as he was feeling about her. At least he had this night, this moment and the wonderful memory of Liz sitting next to him. How she felt, her scent, the sight of her profile. All of it absolutely perfect.

"Are you all moved in?" Maria asked Xan, leaning around Liz to talk him.

"Almost. I just have a few suitcases to unpack." Xan answered before looking back at Liz.

Maria, who prided herself on being observant didn't miss the way the Xan was staring at Liz, the look of wonder on his face. If she didn't know any better she would guess he was attracted to Liz. Maria raised her eyebrows in suspicion as she studied him and her best friend who was looking at Xan too, the lids of her eyes lowered slightly as if she was caught in the struggle of not looking at him. Maria knew that look. She hadn't seen it in years but she knew what it meant. Now the question was if Liz knew herself. Maria needed answers to the long list of questions that had been forming in her mind every since she saw Xan place his hand on Liz's back and she needed them now.

"Hey you know what, how 'bout some hot chocolate? Vern would you mind going to the concession stand?" Maria asked, giving her husband a look that years of marriage helped to interpret. It made it even easier knowing that they already had a full thermos of hot chocolate next to his legs, like they always brought to every game for the past eleven years.

"Sure, no problem." Vern said, giving his wife a wink. He stood up and looked over at Xan. "Xan, you mind going with me."

"Not at all." Immediately Xan rose up and then looked down at Liz. "Liz what would you like?"

Liz shook her head. "Oh, you don't have to."

"No, I insist. You fed me that wonderful dinner after all, it’s the least I can do."

Liz smiled slightly. "All right. Hot chocolate sounds good. Thank you."

"You're welcome." Xan replied, smiling back at her.

"Ladies, we shall return." Vern announced as he shuffled past them.

Liz, Maria and Paige watched Vern and Xan descend the stairs and as soon as they were out of earshot Maria turned to Liz, her face beaming and she fired off her first question.

"Okay, Liz spill. What is going on?" Maria whispered as both her and Paige huddled close to Liz.

Liz shook her head, knowing what she meant. "Nothing Maria. I was just being nice and inviting him to the game." Liz answered, her voice quiet. She wasn't ready to divulge the details of the war that her mind and body were presently waging inside of her.

Maria shook her head vehemently. "Oh no, you do not fool me Liz Parker. I saw the way you looked at him and of course the way he was looking at you."

"What?" Liz gasped in astonishment and then shook her head, refusing to believe that Xan was attracted to her. "No. It's not like that." She denied.

"Not buying it." Maria whispered back.

"Paige, talk some sense into her will you?" Liz asked, her eyes pleading with her good friend.

"Sorry Liz, but I'm with Maria on this one." Paige answered, smiling at her.

Liz rolled her eyes and sighed. "You guys are crazy, all right. I mean, he's young. Way too young. I mean he's only twenty-four, a child."

Maria cocked her head back slightly and gestured towards the concession stand. "Uh Liz babe, that is no child, that boy is man and fine looking man at that. If I wasn't married I be drooling myself."

"Maria!" Liz gasped, making sure to keep her voice quiet. The last thing she wanted was half of the town to hear about this. They had enough in the rumor mill already; they didn't need this too.

Maria nudged her best friend. "C'mon Liz, can you honestly say that you're not the slightest bit attracted to him." She cooed and then waited. Before long she saw the blush on Liz's face and Maria's mouth gaped open once again.

"I knew it." Maria whispered loudly and Liz began shaking her head.

"So what if I was. It doesn't change the fact that I'm a lot older than he is." Liz said, this time the tone of her voice was serious.

"So, what does that matter?" Paige asked.

"You guys know it does."

"It obviously doesn't to Xan because I can tell he likes you." Maria said.

"Oh, you can, can you?" Liz asked in disbelief. "Maria you sat with him for like a minute and you were able to tell that."

"Never doubt my ability to sense things Liz. After all these years you should know better and if I think that Xan likes you than it's true."

"You're off this time Maria." Liz stated.

Maria pursed her lips. "We'll see. We've got four quarters to sit through, plenty of time to use my gift."

Liz shook her head and smiled at her friend, wanting in her heart to believe her words. These feelings she had for Xan, though new were real and powerful, more than she had felt for any man in such a long time. Not since Kyle, more so Max.. In her mind Max's face shone bright for an instant and then he was gone but the twinge of guilt lingered in her heart and Liz couldn't help but wonder where he fit in on all of this. He was gone, physically anyway but would his memory let her move on? If Maria was right and Xan did feel attracted to Liz, would she have the strength to let go of Max and fall in love? Liz knew she was jumping ahead of herself, attaching what ifs to mere possibilities but it was simply how her mind worked, how she coped with everything that life had dealt her. She couldn't remember a time when Max hadn't factored into life's equations somehow and now, with the new feelings she was experiencing with Xan Max's presence was expected. Just one more thing to think about when this night is over, Liz told herself.

Maria saw the shadow that cast over Liz's eyes as she sat there next to her. She felt the urge to scream, at Liz and at the invisible Max who always made an appearance and messed everything up. She wanted to yell "Why?" and "Let Go!" but she knew it wouldn't do any good. Max was Liz's demon to slay not hers though Maria didn't stop wishing she could.

Maria opened her mouth to speak, to say anything to take Liz's mind off of Max but before she had the chance the marching band began playing the national anthem and the three of them rose up with the rest of the crowd then turning their attention to the American Flag. Maria sang the words of the song softly to herself, every now and then stealing a glance at Liz, waiting for the shadow to disappear. It didn't, even after the song ended and Paige began talking about Kyle and how nervous he looked and it wasn't because of the game. Maria heard her mention Genni's date with Ty tonight and that Kyle was worrying himself sick over the entire thing.

"He better get his head in the game or we're toast tonight." Paige said as she watched her husband pace around the sidelines. Maria let herself look down at Kyle and then let out a small laugh over how he looked. The last time he looked that freaked was when his powers started to emerge their first year in college. It had taken Liz over an hour to get him to calm down and even after that he still looked like he was going to retch on the spot. At least that night he had made it to the toilet. She wondered if tonight he would be so fortunate.

"Poor Kyle." Maria said softly and then turned to look back at Liz. To her surprise the shadow was gone from Liz's eyes and she was smiling nervously as she looked down at the bottom of the bleachers. Maria followed Liz's gaze and let her own smile form across her glossed lips when she saw Xan, a cup of hot chocolate in each hand and a large grin upon his face. Maria thanked the heavens above to whoever had brought this man into Liz's life and she prayed that her dear, sweet friend would let herself grab hold to the love that was waiting for her that Maria saw just now in Xan Wilson's eyes.

TBC…

posted on 15-Dec-2002 10:50:53 AM
Araxie ~ Whine and you shall receive! *happy*

The next part is coming very soon. I've been working on it a little bit at a time all week and I'm almost finished. Maybe by tonight or for sure by tomorrow afternoon. So just hang a little longer please!

Also, thanks to everyone for their wonderful feedback. I'm really having a lot of fun writing this story and then to read your kind words is a definite plus. Thank you!!

Abbi*happy*
posted on 16-Dec-2002 1:59:07 AM
Author's Note: Well kiddies here it is. I'm sort of having a love/hate thing with this next part so please feel free to do the same.


Part Six


Xan handed Liz her cup of hot chocolate and settled in next to her to watch the game. Side pressed to side they sat despite the open seat next to Xan. He thought about scooting down, allowing Liz some space but he couldn't get himself to move and he wondered if Liz didn't want him to anyway. When he had sat down he could have sworn that Liz had moved a little his way, closing in the tiny gap of space between them. And then she had looked over at him, whispering a word of thanks, the sound so slow and sweet. Her lips turned up into a small smile and Xan's gaze wavered from her beautiful brown eyes to her sensual full lips. He wanted to kiss her right then and there, take what he hoped she was offering. She wanted him, didn't she? It wasn't just his hopeful heart wishing for the impossible? His questions were left unanswered and the moment was broken when the crowd around him leapt to their feet and began yelling over something that was taking place on the field. He watched Liz turn her head towards the game and then he followed suit, forcing himself to pay attention for the real reason why they were here.

The game was instantly forgotten when Maria handed Liz a blanket. All Xan could do was shake his head when Liz asked if he minded that they share and then watched her hands as she spread the blanket over both of their legs. She tucked one corner under her arm and Xan mimicked her actions, securing the cocoon they were now encased in. In it Xan could feel the warmth of Liz's body and he longed to feel the touch of her skin that lay hidden to him beneath layers of clothes. He wanted to wrap his arm around her, even hold her hand but he didn't. He needed her permission, whether it was with her words or with the power of a certain look, he would hold back and wait for it. The one thing he knew for sure was he wanted Liz Parker in his life and time would either be his friend of his enemy from here on out.

~*~*~*~*~

Liz couldn't believe how bold she was being with Xan. Staring at him, offering to share a blanket with him, sitting so close that she was practically on top of his lap. She knew Maria, Paige and Vern were shocked as well. As the game progressed they would give her these looks that she interpreted as a mixture of surprise, happiness and encouragement. Each time they did it gave Liz a reassurance that these feelings she was experiencing because of Xan weren't wrong. That it was okay to be attracted to him, to give way to the possibility of a relationship. That maybe age didn't matter. Now only if she knew if Xan felt the same way. She thought he did. I mean why else was he sitting so close and giving her these longing looks with the most beautiful pair of blue eyes she had ever seen, Liz wondered to herself.

Liz closed her eyes in an attempt to recollect herself and when she opened them again she tried to concentrate on the game. There were times when it held a certain appeal. Watching the team complete a long pass then scoring a touchdown or when they sacked the opponents quarterback led to moments where she was clapping her hands and cheering on with the rest of the crowd. But no matter what happened on the field, no matter how many touchdowns or that her dear friend Kyle was having quite possibly a nervous breakdown on the sidelines, her attention always came back to Xan. Every time he moved Liz was stealing glances at him underneath her long lashes. Sometimes he would catch her and at first she would look away, too shy to stay in the place she wanted to be in. But then she felt him, his eyes on her and nervously she chewed on her lip, wondering what he must see when he looked at her. Slowly she looked over at him and met his stare and it that moment everything else faded away and the world that only her and Xan existed began to move in slow motion. She searched his face, discovering the little details that made him so beautiful. His thick, black lashes, the tiny dimple in his cheek, the thin scar on his chin and his lips that were full and begging to be kissed. Liz blushed over her last thought and turned away once more, forcing herself to say something to Maria. She could still feel him looking at her and Liz smiled in delight.

~*~*~*~*~

"So Xan, Liz says you're in medical school?" Maria asked when halftime had rolled around. Paige had left to go check on Genni who was having a pre first date crisis and Vern had taken the rest of the girls to the concession stand.

"Yes, I am. Third year." Xan replied, leaning forward a little to look Maria in the eyes.

"You must spend a lot of free time studying then?"

"Usually." Xan answered.

"I see." Maria pursed her lips. "So I imagine you're so busy with school it must make it hard to date?"

"Sometimes." Xan chuckled softly.

"And now?" Maria pressed, avoiding the warning stare that Liz was giving her.

"You mean am I seeing someone now?"

"Yes." Maria answered.

"No. I'm not." Xan answered, shaking his head and smiling.

"Well if you're interested in being fixed up I know this great girl in my husband's office." Maria said giving Xan a wink.

"Oh." Xan said, sounding surprised and Liz watched him intently, silently hoping that he would say no. She let out a little sigh when she heard his next words. "Well, I appreciate it but no thank you. No offense, I just don't like blind dates."

Maria wrapped an arm around Liz's shoulders and gave a gentle squeeze. The two friends look at each other as Maria spoke. "Neither does Liz so I've had to resort to blackmail to get her to go on some of the ones I've set up for her. She hates me for it but I must keep the faith, one of these days I'll find Mr. Right for her."

Liz rolled her eyes, quickly glancing over at Xan and then back at her nosey best friend. "Maria has been relentless on this subject but like I've told her a hundred times, I can handle dating by myself." Liz explained, emphasizing her last word as she raised her eyebrows.

"C'mon Liz, sometimes a little push is good." Maria nudged her. "Besides you introduced Paige and Kyle."

"That was different." Liz clarified.

"Yes," Maria drew out. "But still where would they be without you. Sometimes a third party is necessary, don't you think Xan?" Maria turned her attention back to Xan who had been watching them intently the entire time.

Liz shook her head. "No Maria, you are not dragging Xan into this. He's an innocent."

"I don't know, Xan you don't look that innocent to me." Maria said playfully and winked at Xan. "I bet you've got a very interesting past."

Xan laughed. "You think so?"

"I'm very intuitive."

Xan shrugged. "Well I'm sorry to disappoint you Maria but my life has been pretty boring and average."

"C'mon Xan, everyone has a story to tell, even you. What's your family like? Do they live around here?" Maria pressed.

"Pretty normal and no they don't. My mom lives in Albuquerque and the rest live in Washington." Xan told her.

"Oh, did you grow up in Albuquerque then?" Maria asked looking surprised.

"Yes I did." Xan said, looking over at Liz. "I was telling Liz on the ride here that I had visited Roswell a couple of times growing up. I even ate at the Crashdown." Xan smiled warmly at Liz.

"Really?" Maria asked, enjoying the sight of Liz and Max staring at one another. "What brought you to Roswell?"

Liz cleared her throat and looked at Maria. "Maria, I think you've tortured Xan enough." Liz ordered.

"It's all right Liz, I don't mind." Xan informed her, the sound of his voice so gentle.

"Okay then." Liz sighed. "Well then I'm just going to the ladies room." Liz looked to Maria and then to Xan. "Maria behave yourself and Xan please send a flare up if you need me."

Liz pulled the blanket away from her body, stood up and shivered from the punch of cold air and the absence of Xan's warm body. As she silently cursed the call of Mother Nature for taking her away from him, Liz folded her arms across her chest and then made her way down the bleachers. When she had reached the bottom Liz slowly turned her head and looked up to where Xan and Maria still sat. Liz held her breath when she saw Xan looking right back at her and then she sighed, her lips forming a shy smile across her face. He smiled back and the two held each other's gaze for a moment before an elderly man asked Liz if she wouldn't mind moving. Quickly Liz apologized to the man and began walking away. When she had broke free from the line of people Liz turned back once more and chuckled softly as she saw her best friend talking to Xan, Maria's arms moving about the air wildly.

A while later Liz returned to the bleachers with Paige and Vern in tow. She had met up with them in the concession stand area and spent the next five minutes answering their questions about Xan and what exactly was going on between the two of them. She had answered them the only way she could. She told them she didn't know. That she was attracted to him but what exactly that meant or how he felt towards her was still a mystery. They filled her in with their observations, from how he was looking at her to how he seemed to be enthralled with everything Liz had said and did. They told Liz that Xan was interested in her, that he wanted her.

We'll see, Liz told them as she smiled, her insides a delicious mess of nerves and attraction over Xan. She continued to smile as they walked back to the bleachers to rescue Xan from Maria's inquisitions.

Liz laughed softly when she saw Xan mouth a thank you to her and she happily took her place next to him once more. This time the action was more familiar and comfortable yet still charged with sexual electricity. Liz shivered from the intensity of it.

"You're cold." Xan stated, his voice sounding concerned.

"A little." Liz replied as Xan had already begun laying her half of the blanket over her legs. He tenderly pressed the blanket against her thighs and then around her waist. Still leaning over her Xan turned his head to the side and looked up at Liz.

"Better?" He asked, his hand on her leg.

Liz nodded slowly. "Yes, thank you." Liz answered him and smiled, enjoying the feel of his touch.

"Uh, you're welcome." Xan stuttered out, suddenly aware that he was still leaning over her. He sat back abruptly as Maria chuckles rang in the air.

~*~*~*~*~

"So we're all heading to Paige and Kyle's, right?" Maria asked as she looked to each of them. The game had just ended and the crowds were already beginning to thin out.

"Oh, well…" Liz said as she cast a questioning look over to Xan. Before either of them had a chance to speak Maria was talking away.

"Xan, you don't mind do you? This is sort of a tradition we have. Getting together after the game. Besides I think Kyle is going to need the support while he waits for Genni to get home from the date."

"Sure, it sounds like fun." Xan nodded his head as he looked down at Liz.

"Are you sure?" Liz asked softly. "I mean, I can take you back to the house if you want."

"No. I’m having a great night and I'm not ready for it to be over." Xan said honestly.

"Me too." Liz admitted. Xan offered her his arm and she took it, clinging to him as they walked among the crowds back to Liz's car. They talked and laughed and Liz enjoyed every second of it.


(continued in next post)

posted on 16-Dec-2002 2:00:35 AM
~*~*~*~*~

"Kyle back away from the window and come sit down." Maria ordered as she sat on the living room couch. "She's not even supposed to be home for another hour."

"Fifty-two minutes." Kyle corrected her, his eyes only wavering from the window for a quick second to glance at his watch. The curtains were practically draped around his body that stood rigid. He had been standing there ever since he had arrived home from the game. Liz and the others had all stopped their conversation when they heard the sound of tires screeching to a halt and seconds later they saw Kyle come charging through the front door asking Paige frantically if Genni had called. When she had answered no he moved to the window and took watch, every now and then muttering words that Liz and the others barely understood. Some they could hear quite well like "little punk", "hands-off" and "castration". So for the last hour they had left him there, letting him perform his fatherly watch dog duties no matter how ridiculously sweet he looked.

"Oh good god. She's fine so get you’re as…, uh butt over here because Vern and I have an announcement." Maria demanded, looking sheepishly at the kids after stopping herself from completing the swear word that was halfway out of her mouth. Thankfully for her they were preoccupied with a video, all three girls huddled together on the floor in front of the television. She turned her attention back to Kyle who was gently being pulled away from the window by Paige. Paige was whispering to him and his face softened as he nodded his head.

"You've got five minutes Maria." Kyle grumbled playfully as he sat in the over-sized armchair and Paige giggled when Kyle pulled her down on top of him. He kissed her on lips, making a large smacking sound and continued to as he moved his lips across her cheek and then down her neck.

"Kyle stop!" Paige squealed though to Liz it didn't look like she was minding.

Liz smiled as she watched them and then let out a contented sigh. After seventeen years of marriage Kyle and Paige we were still madly in love with each other. They touched and laughed liked young lovers and talked liked best friends. Liz loved being around them and here in their home. She felt safe and loved here. A place where she could retreat to when sometimes the walls of her own home seemed to encase the loneliness she felt in her heart. She wondered how many times she has slept on the very couch she was now sitting on with Xan, the nights that Paige had insisted that it was too late to drive home. And how many mornings when she would sleepily stumble into the kitchen begging for a cup a coffee while Paige went about making the most amazing apple cinnamon pancakes in the world. The smell of them making Liz's stomach rumble with hunger and soothed with contentment at the same time. As she would sip her coffee and talk with Paige the house would spring to life with Kyle and the girls bounding down the stairs into the kitchen, filling the room with the wonderful sounds of their voices.

Liz fingered the mug in her hand that was hers, literally. Laurie, Kyle and Paige's middle daughter had painted it for her five years ago when she was fourth grade and given it to Liz on Christmas. Liz had kept it here, always reaching in the cupboard for it whenever she needed something to drink. In fact, Liz could look around the room and see little things that belonged to her. A blanket, a few books, c.d.'s, pictures, a jacket that hung on the coat rack. This place was like a second home to her, with people that made her feel like she was a part of their family.

Liz looked around the room at faces she could see just as clearly with her eyes closed. They all were her family. She looked at Maria, the one who had known Liz the longest, whispering something into Vern's ear, while her hand caressed her stomach. Maria hadn't say anything to her tonight about what the doctor had said about the baby but Liz knew that Maria was pregnant. The smile on her glowing face told her so. Liz was happy for them. They had waited so long for this baby and now he or she was finally here. Liz couldn't wait for Maria's belly to grow round just so she could place her hands on it and feel the baby move inside. Maybe Maria would even let her connect with the baby, Liz wondered and in the next heartbeat Liz knew Maria never would. Connecting was an alien power and something Maria didn't want any part of. She had even asked Kyle and Liz not to use their powers around her. Liz didn't need to ask why for she knew that they reminded her of Michael and the part of their lives that Maria wanted to forget most of the time. Liz couldn't blame Maria for her feelings however it was those same feelings that had brought a change to their friendship. Now when she was with Maria Liz felt she had to hide a part of her that after all these years was so ingrained in her. Her powers, the things she could do as well as Max, Michael and Isabel could do when they lived here, were always there at the surface, waiting to be used. It had taken Liz awhile to control them but she did and over the years she learned to appreciate them. After all they were a gift from Max. A reminder of the time when a boy had loved a girl so much that he had risked everything to save her life.

If only that love would have been strong enough, Liz thought wistfully, wishing her happy heart hadn't take such a sad turn at this moment. After all this was a time for celebration. Maria had just announced the baby and Liz leaned over and brought Maria into a fierce hug.

"I'm so happy for you." Liz whispered into Maria's ear.

"Thanks chica. I just wish…"

"Please, don't." Liz interrupted and pulled back. She held Maria's face in her hands. "This is about you remember?"

Maria nodded as a tear fell down her cheek. Liz wiped it away with her thumb and placed a soft kiss on her cheek where it had fallen.

"My turn." Kyle announced gently pulling Maria away from Liz and wrapping his arms tightly around her. He lifted her off the ground and Maria's laughter made everyone smile.

~*~*~*~*

Xan watched as Liz gave Paige and Kyle one last hug. It was well after three in the morning and he knew he should be exhausted but he wasn't. He was too happy to even think about sleep right now. He had experienced one of the best nights of his life. Being with Liz was wonderful and he had enjoyed getting to know her. They had talked throughout the night, laughing together over his lame stories over childhood and college life. He had listened intently as she recalled a trip to Europe that she had taken with Maria in Kyle after they had graduated from college. And they probably would have talked all night about cell mutation if Kyle hadn't begged them to stop. Liz promised Xan they would continue it at a later time and he was going to hold her to it.

Maybe tomorrow he wondered, trying to think of the next time they could be together and then mentally cursed himself when he remembered his obligations that would keep him occupied for the entire Saturday. Xan thought for a moment about blowing off his study group but knew he couldn't. As much as he wanted to be with Liz he couldn't sacrifice his education in order to do so. Soon, Xan promised himself as he followed Liz out of the door.

He opened her car door for her and after she was seated in the driver's seat he shut it carefully.

"You know Kyle is going to want a rematch." Liz told him after Xan had climbed inside the car. "He's convinced that you and I were cheating."

Xan laughed as he remembered back to the card game they had played. After Genni had came home and Liz, Paige and Maria returned from Genni's room where they had been having "girl talk", the six adults engaged in a rowdy card game. The kids were fast asleep upstairs and downstairs challenges were being thrown out and promises of total annihilation vowed. In those early hours of the morning they drank wine and laughed over bad jokes and Kyle's facial expressions when he would lose a hand. In the end Xan and Liz had prevailed and Xan thought his heart would stop in his chest when Liz had leaned over and hugged him. He squeezed her tight and breathed in the sweet scent of her hair before she pulled away.

"He just hates losing." Xan said, watching Liz as she drove.

"That he does." Liz laughed.

"So it was quite a night. Do you guys do this every weekend?" Xan asked as Liz turned on the road that was becoming very familiar.

"Usually." Liz nodded. "Well everything except baby announcements. It's been awhile since we've had one of those."

"Maria mentioned that they've been trying for awhile." Xan said.

"Yeah, for the past five years. They had pretty much given up hope and then a miracle happened." Liz said, turning to look at Xan, a smile upon her face.

"I'm happy for them." Xan said, smiling. "They're nice people, all of your friends are. I liked them."

"They liked you too." Liz told him, her voice sincere. Xan shifted in his seat to face Liz after she placed the car in park in her driveway. He waited for her to look at him and then he spoke.

"Thank you Liz for tonight. You gave me something I haven't felt in a long time." Xan admitted.

"What's that?"

"Being around a family. I mean I have my friends but it's not the same. Usually life can get pretty lonely here without my family back home but not tonight and it's all because of you." Xan admitted as he looked into her eyes. When she smiled and lowered her head he felt his heart skip a beat. She looked so innocent, so sweet sitting here next to him in her darkened car. Little did he know that two days ago when he had picked up the paper that his life was going to change. That one tiny ad was going to lead him to the woman of his dreams.

Xan took a deep breath and spoke. "Liz I want to ask you something and I'm hoping you'll say yes."

"Okay." Liz said as she looked him. "Ask me." She encouraged.

"Will you go out with me? On a date?" He asked, looking right into her eyes. "I was thinking if you're not busy on Sunday we could go then."

"You want to date me?" Liz asked skeptically.

"Very much." Xan replied, nodding his head.

"Really?"

"You don't believe me?" Xan asked, confused.

"I want to but…" Liz stopped and cast her eyes downward. Xan reached out his index finger and touched the underside of her chin. Gently he lifted her head up to look at him.

"But what?" He asked softly and he felt a wash of relief flow over him when she smiled.

"Nothing." Liz shook her head. "Yes. Yes, I'll go out with you."

"Thank you." Xan breathed out. "You've made me a very happy man Liz Parker." Xan reached for her hand and watched their fingers lace together. They stayed that way awhile, his thumb lightly stroking the palm of her hand and they talked till the dark night sky began to lighten in the east.

Xan walked Liz to her front door and hugged her good night, whispering in her ear another word of thanks.

"No, thank you." Liz whispered fiercely back.

"For what?" Xan asked.

"For making me laugh. For asking me out. For a lot of other things. Goodnight Xan." Liz answered and smiled.

"Goodnight Liz." Xan he replied, holding onto her hand as he began walking back until the distance was too great and her fingers slipped out of his grasp.

He watched Liz walk into house and then started singing softly to himself as he walked back to his apartment to spend the first night in his new place where he knew for sure he would be dreaming of Liz.

~*~*~*~*~

"Ask a girl to dance with you." He told her, a strip a paper held between his fingers and thumbs.

"Is that really what it says?" Liz asked, a half-smile on her face.

"It depends on your answer." He said, looking right into her eyes and Liz blushed.

"Yes." Liz said with a firm nod of her head.

"Then that's really what it says." He replied and then stood up and reached out his hand to her.

Liz took his hand, stood up and let him lead her to the small dance floor at the center of the restaurant. Easily they slipped into an embrace and began to gently sway back and forth with the music. As they danced the rest of the world disappeared around them. It was just the two of them, moving together, touching, looking deeply into each other's eyes. The moment was perfect, one they had both dreamed of for a very long time.

"You know my parents are away for the weekend. They're at a stargazer's campout, something about Venus being in the morning sky." Liz informed him, her voice husky, laced with a bold sensuality.

"I thought she was right in front of me." He replied, slowly drawing out the words, his smile on the verge of breaking free.

They both laughed and he pulled her even closer to him, making their bodies completely flush with each other. And then he looked down at her; his eyes sparkling with desire and Liz felt her body heat rise. She licked her lips, anticipating his next move and began moving her head closer to his. He leaned his head down; his gaze focused on her wet lips that were parted slightly. Closer and closer their lips came to one another and Liz took in one last deep breath and waited for his kiss.

The moment was halted when Liz felt a tap on her shoulder and she turned her head to look at the person who was now standing behind her. Liz gasped when she saw the person's face.

"May I have this dance?"

"What?" Liz asked, bewildered.

"Will you dance with me Liz?"

"I can't. I'm dancing with Max." Liz answered, shaking her head.

"Who?"

"Max."

"I don't see him."

Liz's eyes widened and quickly she turned her head back to look at Max, the man she had been dancing with, but he was gone. Liz frowned and began to look over the near empty restaurant.

"Max?" Liz questioned as she called out for him. He was no where to be found and Liz began to panic. " Max? Max!"


Liz shot upright in her bed, tiny beads of perspiration covering her body. Her breathing was labored and her body shook. Her eyes swam as she searched within her mind to find the answers over what had just happened. One moment she was dreaming she was dancing with Max on the night they had their first date at Senor Chows. The beginning of the dream was almost a carbon copy of that time and Liz had had the same dream dozens of times over the last twenty-five years. The dream usually ended with Maria interrupting them before their kiss. Some times her dreams had taken her to the moment she had never had the chance to experience first hand - the kiss on the dance floor with Max. Tonight in the dream she could feel it was going to happen. They were so close and then someone had tapped her on the shoulder and stopped them. Liz knew that it was supposed to be Maria, it had always been Maria but this time it wasn't. It was the last person she had expected and the first time he had made his presence known in her dreams. Xan.

TBC…


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 16-Dec-2002 12:39:45 PM ]
posted on 20-Dec-2002 12:35:31 AM
Author's Note: I can't believe it, I actually have a new part ready for y'all and it has only been a few days. This part kind of just wrote itself. I went into this one not really knowing what I was going to write and then the characters just staring yapping away.

Thanks SciFinNut111 for recommending my story. *happy*

I know a lot of you are really wanting to know who Xan is, especially Borderinsansity but I can't tell you. No one knows except me, not even Cookie2697 who has been my beta for some of this story. I do love hearing your predications though and the good news is that you won't have to wait too long to find out. I really don't see this story going past twenty parts so revelations will happen soon.

For those that love Xan, thank you!!! I love him too. In my mind he's kind of like a taller version of my husband. *happy* And yeah, I know eighteen years is a big gap but my thinking is when it comes to the matters of the heart sometimes age doesn't matter. Well, as long as they're both legal. Okay, enough babbling. Expect the next part after Christmas. And the btw, for all those who celebrate Christmas may it be a merry one for you and your family and for those I still bid you good tidings. *happy* Thanks everyone for reading my story and for being so supportive!!!!

Abbi*happy*

Part Seven


“She’s getting so good.” Liz commented as she watched with pride as Hildy rode Liz's horse around the barrels that were set up in the fenced in area next the barn.

“I know.” Maria agreed as she grinned at her daughter and then at Liz. The two friends were sitting atop the wooden fence with the elbows linked. Almost every Saturday they sat like this as Hildy practiced her riding. Sometimes Liz would ride with here, each taking off on horse, galloping through the pasture, over the rolling hills. And sometimes Maria would ride with them, usually behind Liz and always holding on for dear life.

“Does she have any idea that she’s getting her own horse for Christmas?” Liz asked as she tucked some strands of hair behind her ear to keep from blowing in the afternoon breeze.

“Nope not yet." Maria said, shaking her head. "Right now I’ve got her thinking she’s getting a television but it’s getting harder to keep a straight face. I may not last.”

“Just three more months, you can do it.” Liz encouraged.

“Let’s hope." Maria said and then let out a deep breath as she watched Hildy guided the horse over the horizontal wooden bar that was held up two feet off the ground. "Gosh, look at her Liz. The girl has no fear. I was so not like that when I was ten. I was such a pansy.”

“You weren’t that bad.”

Maria raised her eyebrows and looked over at Liz. “C’mon Liz. When I was ten I’d cut my finger and whine for a week, last year Hildy breaks her collarbone and she barely cries. She definitely doesn’t get her toughness from me. That’s all Vern.” Maria acknowledged as she pointed to her daughter.

“That’s not true." Liz argued. "You’re a lot tougher then you give yourself credit for.”

“Thanks." Maria said as she lowered her head briefly onto Liz's shoulder.

"Anytime." Liz whispered. They went back to watching Hildy, every now and then waving to her and offering words of encouragement as the she rode by.

“He asked me out Maria.” Liz said softly, watching Maria expectantly out of the corner of her eye. She saw Maria's eyes grow wide, her mouth opening up wide long before any sound came out of it.

“And you wait till now to tell me?" Maria admonished and Liz shrugged her shoulders. "So when?” Maria asked excitedly.

“Tomorrow night." Liz answered, a timid smile upon her face. "We going to BB's for dinner and to listen to some jazz.”

“Eek, this is so exciting!" Maria yelled as she tugged on Liz's arm and then stopped abruptly. "Oh gosh, tomorrow, that’s not a lot of time. We need call Paige right away and get her over her to plan.” Maria's words tumbled rapidly out her mouth as she climbed down the fence.

“Plan? Maria no.” Liz said, shaking her head. She hopped off the fence and began to chase after Maria who was headed towards her car.

“Liz you can not go into this date blindly and you’re going to need our help.” Maria explained before reaching into open car window for her purse.

“I’m not helpless Maria.” Liz said firmly while Maria pulled out her purse.

“Of course not sweetie but this date is special.”

“You’ve said that about all the guys you’ve fixed me up on.” Liz spoke, feeling frustrated over Maria's behavior. Liz knew her friend was going to react like this as soon as she found out and it was the reason she had waited to tell her. Liz was already nervous enough, not to mention the second thoughts that had been rattling around in her brain since early this morning. After her dream she had been unable to go back to sleep and Liz had spent the time up until Maria had came contemplating backing out of the date with Xan. She had a long list of excuses to use if she did, all she had to do was pick one or two and hopefully her nonsensical heart would start making sense again.

“Well Xan is different and besides you never liked any of the guys I’ve fixed you up with and I know you like Xan.” Maria continued as she fished out her cellphone from her purse. She started pushing buttons and speaking of plans.

“So, let’s see. I’ll do your makeup and Paige can do your hair and of course we’ll let the girls pick out your clothes. Oh, we need to go lingerie shopping. We’ll go after Hildy finishes riding. Damn it's busy.” Maria muttered as she flipped her phone shut.

Liz held her hand up, hoping to stop her friend's madness. "Time out Maria. It’s our first date, I don’t need a negligee.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” Maria said playfully and Liz shook her head.

“No, I’m not jumping into anything.” Liz protested.

“It never hurts to be safe and besides you definitely need new panties because you are not wearing your grandma underwear on your date.” Maria glanced down at Liz's waist and then laughed over Liz's horrified expression.

“You’re incorrigible, you know that?” Liz let out with an exasperated sigh.

“I try.” Maria replied, putting a hand on her hip. Liz took a step towards her friend and put a hand over Maria's cellphone.

“Look Maria, I don’t want to make a big deal out of this. It is just a date." Liz pleaded softly, hoping Maria would respect her wishes this one time. Instead Maria shook her head and pressed on.

“It’s more than that Liz. I was there last night remember? I saw the sparks. More like flames. Even Kyle saw something and he was practically delirious with worry." Maria snorted and then furrowed her brows as she looked intently at Liz. "Why don’t you want to admit that? Is it cause you’re scared?”

“What?" Liz asked, visibly shocked by Maria's question. "No.” She denied, taking a step back from Maria. Maria's shoulders slumped and Liz could see the look of worry that Maria was now wearing. Liz hated that look, one that almost resembled pity, that seemed to silently tell Liz how sorry she was that Liz's love life was such a mess. That Maria's poor, single friend had yet to find love and thankfully Liz had Maria to take care of her. Silently she cursed her friend and then herself for having such horrible thoughts about her. Deep down Liz knew that Maria only meant well. That everything she did and said was out of love but it was still hard to remember when Maria looked at her like that.

“Liz, it’s me. You can tell me if you are." Maria pleaded and waited a moment for Liz to speak. Tentatively she reached out for Liz and then spoke again. "If its cause he’s younger I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I don’t think it matters to Xan.”

“Well it should and it will eventually.” Liz said sharply, retreating from Maria's touch.

“Why?” Maria asked and Liz could see the hurt in Maria's eyes. But instead of softening and giving in Liz gave in to the anger that was building inside of her. To the frustration that she felt over the lack of control that she had over her head, her heart and her life. Inside she could feel her energy building, her powers threatening to explode if she only let them. But she couldn't, at least not in front of Maria and especially in front of Hildy who knew nothing about the special things that Liz and Kyle could do. Instead she forced herself to take a deep breath and focused on her next words.

“Xan and I's age difference may not matter to him but it will to everyone else. His friends, his mother, everybody in this town.” Liz explained.

“Who cares what everyone else thinks?” Maria asked, throwing her arms up in the air.

“I care." Liz brought her palm to her chest. "And eventually Xan will to.”

“He asked you out Liz, he wouldn’t have done that if he thought you’re age difference matters.”

“You don’t know that!” Liz exclaimed, shaking her head.

“Liz stop." Maria ordered as she pointed her index finger at Liz. "You are not going to do this again! Not this time!”

“Do what?” Liz asked although she already knew what Maria meant.

“Push Xan away. Sabotage this relationship before it gets a chance to even start. I won’t let you do this.” Maria demanded.

Liz rolled her eyes and through up her arms. “Oh you won’t let me?”

“Yes.” Maria answered, tears beginning to form in her eyes.

“That’s great. What would I do without you telling me how to run my life?” Liz mocked, her voice rising with anger.

“What?" Maria asked shocked. "Wait a minute. Where’s this coming from?”

“It’s coming from me Maria!" Liz yelled. "It’s coming from the fact that you always try to run my life. Telling me what to wear, who to date, how I’m supposed to feel, what I'm supposed to forget.”

“This about Max, isn’t it?” Maria conceded angrily.

“No.” Liz denied, shaking her head.

“Yes it is!" Maria yelled and threw her purse to the ground. "Dammit Liz, why can’t you let him go? He’s gone; he’s never coming back! Get over it!”

“At that would work out great for you wouldn’t it?" Liz snorted. "For me to totally forget Max and that part of my life that way you wouldn’t have to remember it either! I can't believe you sometimes, you act like Michael didn’t even mean anything to you. My gosh, did you even love him Maria?”

“Damn you Liz!" Maria cursed, the tears falling down her cheeks now. "How can you even ask me that? You know I did. You know it took me a long time to get over him, what I went through those months after I left." Her hands were now clinging at her jacket and then in an instant they were up in the air again and Liz saw the fire of anger in Maria's eyes.

"No wait, you didn’t. You were too busy getting drunk and fucking guys to even care about what was going through, that I needed you.” Maria spat.

Liz stared at Maria, a hundred hurtful words on the tip of tongue, waiting to be spewed but she held back, suddenly realizing this had all gone too far. Guilt washed over Liz as she was reminded of the baby that Maria was now carrying and of the one that Maria had lost three months after Michael had left. The miscarriage that Maria had suffered that had left her bleeding on the floor of the Crashdown bathroom while Liz was off with Sean. It wasn't until months later that Liz had found out the secret that Maria had carried with her. She hadn't even known Maria was pregnant that year until it came tumbling out when Maria was pleading with Liz to stop hurting herself. The revelation had brought Liz to her knees then and Liz could feel the weakness in them even now.

She looked to Maria and saw the tears still falling down her cheeks. And then Liz looked to her right to where Hildy sat atop of her stalled horse, her young face looking scared and confused. Liz searched for something to say but even an apology didn't seem right so instead Liz looked at Maria one last time and then ran. She ran as fast as she could towards the house while Maria called out to her.

“That’s right, run away Liz! That’s what you do best!”

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

Liz looked down at the paper that she held her hand, reading over what she had written. Gently she pushed her foot against the railing on the porch forcing the porch swing she sat on to move back and forth. It was shortly before sundown, the sky around her a mixture of orange, golden and blue hues. Sam was resting beside her on the porch floor; his eyes closed though his ears perked up every time Liz moved.

Maria and Hildy had left a couple of hours ago, Maria's car leaving a cloud of dust in Liz's driveway as she drove off. Liz had watched her go from inside her living room and then cried into Sam's soft, tufted fur. After the tears had stopped the anger returned and Liz retreated to the safety of her barn to let off some steam. It was there, amidst shattered bottles that Liz had blown apart with her powers that Liz made a decision. One that she knew Maria wouldn't agree with but one Liz knew she had to follow through with. She needed this, needed some semblance of control in her life and she hoped Xan wouldn't fight her on it.

Liz looked up when she heard a car slowing down on the gravel road near her house. Immediately she recognized Kyle's car and she sighed over knowing the reason behind his Saturday visit. She could feel the tears again threatening to spill over but she shook them off and waited for Kyle to come to her.

"Hey." Kyle said between bites that he was taking from the cookie he held in one hand. In his other hand he held a small, white paper back with the word "Bakery" written across it.

"Hey Kyle. What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be reviewing last night's game?" Liz asked while running her hands through her hair and sat up straighter in the swing.

Kyle shrugged and took a seat next to Liz.

"I was but I had this sugar craving so I decided to try out that new bakery on Main Street." Kyle held up the bag for Liz to see.

"Any good?" Liz asked flatly.

"The best cookies I've ever tasted but don't tell Paige that. Want one?" Kyle asked before taking another bite. Liz shook her head.

"So that's why you came over, to offer me cookies?" She asked pensively.

"Yeah?" Kyle mumbled.

"I'm not buying it."

"Why not?"

Liz sighed. "Cause its about as convincing as when I quit my job and you came over here with the excuse that you wanted to show me your new socks when really you wanted to talk about why I quit."

Kyle laughed over the memory. "That was a pretty lame excuse. Thank God I'm charming."

"You talked to Maria." Liz acknowledged.

Kyle squinted his eyes and made a small wincing sound before he spoke. "I'm not sure talked is the right word. More liked forced to listen. She was pretty upset."

"I know." Liz breathed out. "I shouldn't have gotten mad at her, especially with her being pregnant. I'll go call her." Liz began to sit up but stopped when she felt Kyle's hand on her arm.

"Wait Liz." He spoke and nodded his head when Liz turned to look at him. "She's okay. She's with Paige and I'm sure she's calmed down by now. How about you and me talk instead?" He asked softly.

"Look Kyle I'm sorry." Liz apologized as she fell back into the swing.

"And I know you are and Maria will be to before long." Kyle said, wrapping his arm over Liz's shoulders.

"Maria doesn't have anything to be sorry for."

"C'mom Liz, I love Maria but you and I both know she sticks her nose into places it doesn't always belong, even with the best intentions. From what I gathered from her rant was that she was in high gear to help you out with your date tomorrow night and knowing you that's the last thing you wanted. She should have known that but she didn't and things got a bit out of hand."

"That's just how she is Kyle and I shouldn't have said what I said to her."

"Maybe not but maybe there was some truth to what you said. And maybe Maria needed to hear it." Kyle told Liz, the sound of his voice was soft and kind.

"Not everything." Liz said and hesitantly looked up at Kyle. "I brought up Michael."

"Oh." Kyle drew out.

"I asked her if she even loved him. " Liz said and waited for Kyle to say something. She watched his face and looked for any change in his expressions but there was none. Instead he reached in his bag and brought out another cookie.

"You're not going to say anything?" Liz asked after she watched him take his first bite.

"What do you want me to say?" Kyle asked and Liz leaned her head against Kyle's arm and looked at Sam.

"I don't know. Tell me how wrong I was."

"But you already know that. Why don't we talk about what you've got in your hand?"

"It's nothing." Liz said, shrugging her shoulders. "Just a note."

"No it's not. It's a Dear John letter or should I say Dear Xan. You're canceling the date."

"How did…?"

"Flash." Kyle stated simply and looked down at Liz. She was holding the letter in both hands as she stared at it.

"So you know what is says then." Liz whispered out, wondering how much he could see inside of her as he held her.

"Not everything. I picked up the overall theme but I didn't catch the reasoning behind it."

"I told him it wasn't right for us to be dating, with me being his landlady and that we should just remain friends." Liz explained as the tears start to well up in her eyes.

"That's a good one. I don't think you've ever used that excuse before."

"Kyle." Liz warned. "Don't start too."

"I have to Liz." Kyle conceded. "Normally I try to stay out of your dating life cause I figure you have enough to deal with by having Maria helping you out but I can't just sit back and not say anything this time."

"Why not?" Liz asked, the first of her fresh tears began to fall down her cheeks.

Kyle leaned over and kissed the top of Liz's head. "Because I saw the two of you together and more importantly I saw how you were around him. You were happy Liz. You were laughing and smiling and playful. In all these years of watching you go out with other guys I've never seen you that way. The way that you are with only your friends. You really like this guy."

"It doesn't matter because it's a mistake." Liz said, wiping the tears from her face. "I can't go out with him. He's way too young and besides he doesn't need me. I've got too much baggage, too much to have to explain. I'd only mess up his life."

"I don't believe that and I'd bet money Xan would agree with me." Kyle said firmly "I saw the way he looked you and as a guy I know that look. He likes you Liz."

"He doesn't know me. Give him time." Liz said flatly and was surprised to see the shocked look on Kyle's face when she finally looked at him. And then he took her face in his hands and Liz began to cry even harder.

"Why do you think like that Liz? Don't you see how special you are? How people can't help but fall in love with you after spending five minutes with you. Liz, my girls adore you. Every single guy I know and a few married ones want to date you. And I personally think the world of you." Kyle explained to her as he gently wiped away her tears with his thumbs.

"But what about when he finds out about my past and realizes he can't love me?"

Kyle gave Liz a small smile and bent his head a little to look her in the eyes. "Even in your darkest hours Liz you were still loveable. You have this light within in you, this power and I'm not talking about anything alien. It's who you are, who you've always been, even before Max. Even now after everything."

"Thank you." Liz offered, nodding her head in his hands.

"You're welcome." Kyle leaned over and kissed Liz on the forehead and then let go, allowing Liz to lean back against the swing. They stayed that way awhile, lightly swinging, neither of the saying a word. They watched the sun finally set in the sky and the tiny stars that begin to shine in the blackened sky.

"Kyle, Maria thinks I haven't let go of Max." Liz told him, their eyes both fixated on a familiar pattern of stars in the sky.

"Have you?" He asked quietly.

"I know he's not coming back. I've known that for a long time." And in Liz's heart she believed but she was saying.

"But?"

Liz closed her eyes and sighed, grateful for times like these when Kyle seemed to read her mind. "But I can't stop dreaming about him. Remembering him in my life. How I used to feel. I miss that."

"Do you miss him?"

"Yes." Liz admitted.

"So let me ask you this. If Max came back tonight would you take him back?"

"He's not coming back Kyle." Liz breathed out and she looked up when he laughed.

"I'm being hypothetical here so just humor me and answer the question will you?"

"I don't know." Liz said, shaking her head. "So much time has passed. I'm so different then I was back then. So much as happened in my life and it would be the same for him I suppose."

"Is that a no?"

"I guess." Liz groaned and abruptly stood up, causing the swing to move and Sam to wake up. He moved next to Liz as she leaned against the railing and looked up at Xan's empty apartment. "Max is gone, for good. I know that in my gut but still after all this time the thought of really letting go of him and moving on scares me. And why? I mean I finally meet a man I really like, that I want to be with and here I am getting ready to give him a note to end it all. What's wrong with me?"

Kyle stayed in the swing and watched Liz cry out to the night air. "Nothing." He said a moment later. "You're just scared and that's okay."

Liz whipped around and looked at him. "But I'm tired of being scared and I'm tired of being alone."

"You'll never be alone Liz." Kyle vowed, shaking his head. Liz wanted to believe his words, take comfort in them but what he was offering wasn't entirely true.

"It's not the same and you know it." Liz admitted. "I want you have with Paige and what Maria has with Vern. I want what I used to have with Max. I want look into a man's eyes and see the love there, see the hope of how wonderful it all can be. I want to get married, have babies, and grow old with somebody. But it's too late. Half of my life is already over and even if I do go out with Xan he doesn’t need that kind of pressure. To feel like he has to be the one to give me what I want."

"And what if he wants those things too?" Kyle asked before folding his arms across his chest. "What if you go out on this date with him and it goes well? Really well. So you two keep dating and fall in love and soon everything you both really want is yours."

"But what if it doesn't?" Liz asked, skeptically and Kyle shook his head.

"You can't think like that Liz. You have to hope for the best."

"I just don't want to mess up Xan's life Kyle." Liz admitted honestly.

"You won't." He said pointedly.

"I wouldn't be so sure." Liz scoffed. "You know I don't have the best track record when it comes to relationships."

"What about us?" Kyle asked and Liz thought she heard a twinge of hurt in his voice.

"That was different." Liz conceded. "When we were together we were still so young and we needed each other. With or without Paige it would have ended eventually."

"Liz I would have stayed with you." Kyle admitted. "Not because I felt sorry for you or because I was too scared to make it on my own but because I loved you." Liz softened at his words and knelt down in front of him, taking his hands in hers.

"I loved you too but you belong with Paige and I'm so happy that the two of you are together. You are perfect for each other." Liz said smiling through her tears. Kyle leaned his head forehead and smiled down at Liz.

"I know and I am madly in love with my wife but you know what, it doesn't mean that I stopped loving you. You are one of my dearest friends and you and I have a bond that can't be broken. We can thank Max for that. For saving our lives, for giving us these powers that no other humans have. For giving me the ability to see into that beautiful soul of yours.

"Liz you never have stop loving him and I don't think you could if you tried. Max is a part of your soul and the woman you are today is partly because of him. Because of his love for you. But you're right, he's gone and all you can do now is remember and move on."

"What if I can't?" Liz pleaded, her tears falling once again down her cheeks. "I haven't been able to with any of the men I've dated so far."

"They weren't the right guy Liz. If one of them was you would have felt it, I know you would have." Kyle told her, his voice sounding so confident to Liz.

"When I first saw Xan the other day I thought he was Max. At first glance he looked so much like him." Liz admitted.

"And now?" Kyle asked.

"Now I don't. I only see Xan and I think that's part of the reason why I'm scared. I'm scared if I fall in love with Xan I'm going to forget about Max."

"You'll never forget him Liz. But I think that it's okay to remember and still move on. It's like with our parents. They're all dead but we'll never stop loving them, wishing they were here. And as long as we're alive we'll always carry them with us. Just like you will always carry Max with you." Kyle lifted up Liz's hands to his mouth and kissed them. "Liz it's okay to move on, to fall in love again. Max would have wanted that for you."

"Can I still dream about him?" Liz cried, her shoulders shaking and Kyle pulled in her into his embrace.

"If you want. Just like you can dream about Xan." Liz nodded her head, knowing that Kyle had seen her dream that she had last night. How could he not? She couldn’t stop thinking about it especially now. She was grateful that because of their connection she didn't have to explain it or her feelings behind it. It just made everything easier at a time when everything else seemed so hard.

"What do you really want to do Liz? What is heart telling you to do?"

"To go out with him tomorrow night." Liz admitted, her heart guiding her words.

"Follow your heart Liz. That's what I do every day with Paige." They smiled at each other, the kind of smile that said a dozen things. Love and thanks, compassion and understanding. Liz let out a deep breath and then held up the letter to Xan that was still in her hand. With one single thought the white piece of paper broke into a thousand little tiny pieces before disappearing completely.

Kyle gave her a firm nod and Liz moved onto the swing next to Kyle.

"Kyle I don't know what I would do without you." Liz said, reaching out for his hand.

"Ditto." He said taking it. They shared one last smile and then Kyle lifted up his bakery bag with his other hand and held it out to Liz. "Cookie?"

TBC…







[ edited 3 time(s), last at 20-Dec-2002 12:17:57 PM ]
posted on 27-Dec-2002 3:10:24 PM
I'm here to say that I'm not ticklish so any threats to do so in order to get information out of me will do no good. My lips are sealed.

Thanks for the feedback! I'm sorry that I made some of you cry but I must admit as a writer knowing that I was able to make a reader feel something when they read my words is a good thing. Take comfort though, happier times are ahead for our Liz Parker.

I'll be back with the new part probably on Sunday plus it will have a wonderful banner made by Borderinsanity to accompany it.

Abbi*happy*


posted on 30-Dec-2002 2:19:48 PM
I knew I was going to get busted sooner or later. Okay, so as you all can probably tell there is no new part yet. Not because I haven't tried, believe me I have but unfortunately I couldn't get the words to come out like I wanted. I have not given up though and will try again today to finish up this next part. So please be patient and I will do my best to get the new part out as soon as I can.

Thanks,
Abbi*happy*
posted on 6-Jan-2003 12:59:27 PM
ANH1


Author's Note: Hey all. So, I'm a week late, what can I say. I have a beautiful new banner courtesy of Borderninsanity. Thanks!!

Here's first half of part eight. I usually don't post this way but I know that some of you really want this and I'm still struggling with the last half of this part. Sooo, instead of making you wait another day here's the first half. I'll work on the second half tonight after I put my kids to bed and if all goes well it should be posted by tomorrow morning. I have all the dialogue written I'm just trying to put it all together. I hope this first part was worth the wait.

Thanks for the feedback and the bumps!

Abbi*happy*

A NEW HOPE
Part Eight A


Xan moved his head from side to side and then yawned widely as he drove down the quiet highway that led him to his new home. It had been a long day, one that had started in a rush as he scrambled around his apartment in order to make it to his morning group study date on time. He was late of course, fifteen minutes past the time the rest of the group had arrived and he could only smile when they asked him why. They alluded to a hot date for the reason behind his lateness but Xan kept quiet, not wanting Liz to be simplified to merely tabletop discussion in the middle of the student union. She was more than that, more than some beautiful girl whom he had spent the evening with and bragged to his friends about the next day. The truth was she was different than any woman he had ever been with. And it was her amazing differences, the special things about her that he kept reveling over as he lay in bed after he had left her at sunrise. When he had finally succumb to sleep, it was the image of Liz in his mind that he last remembered seeing and it was her same amazingly beautiful face that he saw again after he was awoken by his alarm clock an hour later.

Xan yawned his way through study group and then downed a double tall latte at Starbucks before starting his shift at the hospital. It was there where he forced himself to stop thinking about Liz in order to concentrate on his tasks at hand. The battle was tough and he was grateful when his shift was over and he could freely think about Liz once more. As Xan drove home he mentally planned their date for tomorrow, going over every possible detail, wanting tomorrow night to be perfect. If everything went according to plan, it would hopefully be the foundation for what was to come between the two of them. Something that meant forever.

Xan laughed to himself in the car after the word forever came out as a whisper, wondering when he had become such a romantic dreamer and he realized the change happened the moment he laid his eyes on Liz Parker. Xan also knew that he had no control over the change, the way his heart raced in his chest when he thought of her, the feel of urgency he felt for tomorrow night to come quickly so he could be with her again.

If only it wasn't so late, Xan thought to himself as he looked at his dashboard clock. It was already past midnight, much too late to knock on her door. He would have to wait until tomorrow for forever to start.

He steered the car into the driveway, Xan's eyes focused intently on Liz's house, hoping to catch a glimpse of her in a lighted window and he sighed with regret when he couldn't. Tomorrow, he repeated over and over, as he turned off the ignition and drug his tired body out of the car. Xan's head turned abruptly to the left when he heard the sound of scratches against wood and was surprised to see Sam trotting over to where he stood.

"Hey boy." Xan greeted as he leaned over to stroke Sam's coat, his fur looking black in the night. "What are you doing out here?" Xan asked, his voice holding a modicum of concern as to why Sam was outside at this time of night. Was Liz outside too? Xan's head shot up and he scanned the perimeter of the house, looking for any sign of Liz. His eyes traveled the width of the wrap around porch and his gaze stopped abruptly when he saw her tiny form laying on a white whicker love seat. Immediately Xan began walking towards her, his heart clamoring with fear as to why she was so still.

Xan called out to her as he bounded up the porch steps and willed her to answer him. Fear and silence surrounded him and he fell to his knees in front of her and took in the sight. Liz's eyes were closed, her body covered by a burgundy colored blanket, her head resting on her right arm. Xan reached out and touched her exposed neck with his index and middle finger and sighed in relief when he felt the strong beats of her pulse.

She was sleeping. Not hurt or worse, just sleeping and as he looked at her face that was bathed by the light coming from the garage he saw her eyes dart back and forth under her closed lids. She was dreaming.

~*~*~*~*~*

"I've fought a thousand battles...but watching you do that was the hardest thing I've ever had to do." He said to her, his face etched with a myriad of emotions and none of them pleasant.

"The look on his face...on your face." Liz said to him, her cheeks stained from fallen tears, as she remembered how hurt her Max had looked at her a little while ago. She still couldn't believe she had gone through with it. Broken the heart of the one thing she had loved most in this world. Now it was over and Liz knew she had never felt so alone, even though he was still next to her.

"Maybe it's for the best. For you, too." He told her and Liz shook her head over his optimism. There was no room left now for optimism or hope in her tired heart. Pain filled it completely.

"What are you talking about?" Liz asked.

He lowered his head and smile at her slightly as he spoke to her. "I saw you with Kyle. He's turning out to be a...a great guy. Maybe it would be better for you to be with a human."

Liz's mouth opened to protest his words; to make him understand that what he was saying went against everything her soul wanted. Would always want.

"Liz?" A voice called to her and Liz looked over Future Max's shoulder to where he stood in the corner of her balcony. His hand was reaching out to her, his eyes pleading with her to take it.

"Liz?" He called to her again and Liz looked from him to Future Max for the answers to what she should do. Future Max smiled, though it never reached his eyes and then he nodded. The movement slow and deliberant and before Liz had the chance to think, to move or speak Future Max's form dissipated into the night air, giving way to Xan's tall and muscular one. He was smiling now, his curved lips offering an invitation that Liz couldn’t deny.

Liz pushed herself off the plastic lawn chair and walked over to the man that waited for her.


~*~*~*~*~*

"Liz?" She heard him ask her and Liz gasped after she opened her eyes and saw him staring at her.

"Xan?" Liz questioned. Confusion filled her as she scrambled to get her bearings. Moments ago she had been on her balcony in Roswell, the night when the future changed forever. She had been there with Future Max, both of their hearts breaking over the events that had transpired. Liz could still feel the pain in her heart all these years later but she frowned as she felt this new sensation within her waiting to take it away. She searched for its name and she smiled to herself when she found it. Hope.

"Oh, thank goodness. You had me worried there. What are you doing out here this time of night?" Xan's words tumbled out of him

"What?" Liz asked, taking in her surroundings. She saw Xan looking at her; his eyes swimming over her intently and the intensity of it warmed her. Liz then felt his hand on her arm, his fingers stroking her forearm and she moved her arm up, his fingers grazing her skin as she moved and then Liz intertwined her fingers with his. The action seemed so natural and for a moment neither of them moved as they looked into each other's eyes.

"I feel asleep." Liz answered her own question, her voice thick with a dreamy air to it as she looked at Xan. She couldn't believe he was here, next to her, touching her. Liz wanted this and she didn't know how much until this moment. His touch seemed to soothe the ache in her soul that lived there for so long. And though Liz didn't understand the reason behind the power of it she didn't really care either. All that mattered was right now and Liz needed that like she needed air to breathe.

"I can see." Xan smiled as he stoked his thumb along the palm of her hand.

"What time is it?" Liz asked.

"After midnight. Do you know how long you've been out here?"

"A couple of hours I think." Liz answered and forced herself to sit up, her hand never letting go of Xan's. As she moved the blankets fell away from her upper body and a photograph slid off of her and onto the ground.

"What's this?" Xan asked as he picked up the old photograph. He studied it, a smile spreading across his lips as he saw the image of Liz in the middle of a girl and a boy.

Liz tore her eyes off of Xan and looked down at the picture he was referring to. A wave of nostalgia poured over her, flooding her with remorse and longing.

"That's Maria and me and our best friend Alex. We were sixteen." Liz drew out the last sentence slowly, thinking of how long ago that was. A lifetime.

"Look at you. You're beautiful. And Maria, I would never have recognized her with that short hair." Liz looked up at Xan and watched him study the picture; his thumb lightly tracing over Liz's stilled form. His voice, his actions made Liz feel cherished amidst the sadness she now was feeling.

"She was going through her Meg Ryan phase back then." Liz explained, forcing herself to speak. Xan nodded, glancing quickly up at Liz before looking back down at the picture.

"What about Alex? Are you still friends?" Xan asked, his question sounding so innocent to Liz. He knew nothing of her past. Not of Roswell anyway or of the pain the mention of Alex's name still could bring. Liz could feel her throat tightening as a series of memories flashed in her mind. Why did everything have to feel so bad? Alex's death, the fight with Maria, Max, all of it tore at Liz's scarred heart. Liz closed her eyes, willing it all away.

"Um, he died about a year and a half after that picture was taken." Liz said, the lids of her eyes slowly lifting revealing Xan's sympathetic gaze.

"Oh, Liz I'm so sorry." He said, squeezing her hand tighter. In one fluid movement he was off the porch floor and next to her on the loveseat, his eyes still focused intently on Liz.

"Thank you." Liz breathed out. She reached out at took the picture from him, looking down and the three young faces that looked so happy and she smiled back at them. "I still miss him. Maria and I both do."

"Of course." Xan agreed and joined Liz to look at the picture once more. "He looks like a really nice guy."

Liz nodded slowly. "He was. I think you would have liked him."

"I'm sure I would have. Tell me about him." He pleaded with her, his voice so gentle when speaking with her. Liz smiled gratefully up at him and then tucked a few strands of hair behind her ear before letting out a long sigh.

"Gosh, where to start. Well, he was the best friend a girl could ever have. He was always there for me, no matter what. And he was funny. He loved to make up top ten lists and post them on his website. You know like top ten greatest B movies all time, things like that. He played the guitar, loved computers and nachos. Knew every word to every U2 song and seemed to always know the right thing to say. There isn't a day that doesn't go by that I wish he was still here."

Xan lowered his head towards Liz and leaned into her. "He is, inside. I know that doesn't provide much consolation but its what I cling to when I miss my father."

Liz looked up at him when he mentioned his father and her heart ached for him. Xan had suffered too, lost his father when he was only fifteen, at a time when a son needs his father the most. His father's death had been more recent than Alex's had and yet Xan seemed to be moving on. Why Liz let the past affect her so she would never know. Kyle and Maria had moved on, started new lives. And Xan was making something good out of his father's death by becoming a doctor. Everyone had lost people dear in their lives, been hurt by the ones they loved and overcome it yet Liz felt like that for every step she took forward there were two steps back. For every new and wonderful memory made, the painful ones of the past would taint the moment and force the happiness from her weary heart. If only she could really let go, find the sense of closure that she needed then perhaps she could live a life without regrets. See the reasoning behind it all and know it had been worth it just to make it to where she was now. To be able to remember Alex and Max and everyone else with a happy heart.

"So you were out here remembering?" Xan asked her, breaking her from her trance. How long had she been gone, she wondered. Was she staring off in space and was she doing that thing with her mouth that Kyle always teased her about?

"Yeah." Liz said, forcing herself to focus on Xan and she saw the concern in his eyes.

"Liz are you okay?"

"Maria and I had a fight today. I said some things I shouldn't have." Liz confessed, shaking her head.

"Have you talked to her since?" Xan asked.

"No. I guess I'm too afraid." Liz said, shrugging her shoulders.

"Of what?"

"Of her not forgiving me. Of saying things that I really need to say." Liz confessed to him. She looked down at her hand that he was holding with his left hand, the fingers intertwined like a perfect little puzzle. With the tips of his fingers on his right hand he was stroking her exposed flesh on the top of her hand, his touch feathery light on her skin.

"Maybe she needs you to say them." He told her and Liz shook her head.

"But they would hurt her." Liz protested. "Bring up the past that Maria wants to forget."

"If it's important Liz you shouldn't keep it from her."

Liz sighed and nodded her head, knowing what Xan was saying was true but how could she when it could hurt Maria so. After Kyle had left earlier tonight Liz had decided she would apologize to Maria and hopefully they would move on, avoiding any real discussion of Max or Michael like they always did. Liz would keep from Maria in the dark of Liz's fears and wants, the guilt she still felt over Alex's death, her ongoing dreams of Max, the now new ones of Xan, of anything that remotely was alien. It was how Maria had wanted it to be and how could Liz deny her that? She was her best friend, the most important person in her life and Liz couldn't lose her.

"Maybe someday Xan but for now I can't." Liz told him, hoping he would accept her answer.

"I'm sorry, I'm intruding on something that's private." Xan apologized.

"No, you're fine." Liz assured him. "I will talk to Maria tomorrow though and hopefully we'll be okay. Thank you."

"I didn't do anything Liz." He answered, shrugging his shoulders and Liz was touched by his modesty.

"Yes you did." Liz said, hoping he would understand what she meant, that his presence in her life had awoken up a part of her she thought she'd lost forever.

"Well I did wake you up. Do you sleep out here often?" He teased, his eyes twinkling like the stars in sky overhead.

"No." Liz laughed. "I guess I was pretty tired from the night before. How about you? Did you just get home?"

"Yeah." He answered her.

"Oh, you must be exhausted." Liz lamented but Xan shook his head in denial.

"I'm all right. I'm glad I was able to see you." He admitted and lifted her hand up to his lips and kissed her.

Liz stared at his lips upon her skin. "Me too." Liz whispered as she stared at his lips upon her skin. Xan lowered Liz's hand and they talked for awhile, telling Liz about his day. It was when he yawned that Liz ordered him to bed and they bid goodnight. Liz watched him walk across the driveway and told herself that tomorrow night couldn't come soon enough.

Liz picked up the blanket and the picture, her gaze falling onto Maria. She knew that tomorrow they would have to talk and she prayed that Maria would be able to forgive her.

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

TBC with part 8B.


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 6-Jan-2003 1:57:09 PM ]
posted on 8-Jan-2003 12:10:50 AM
ANH1
Thanks for the feedback!

Part 8B


Liz sighed when she saw Maria. She was on her knees in her garden, her body almost hidden amongst the tomato plants that surrounded her, her floppy white hat blowing from the afternoon breeze. Liz stopped in her tracks and watched her friend as she pulled ripe tomatoes from the vine and placed them in a basket. She looked at home in her large garden, amidst a variety of vegetable plants and flowers that Maria had nurtured since late spring. This was Maria's special place, the place that Liz knew Maria spent time in not just to garden but to reflect on life. A place where she had confessed to Liz that she worked out her problems, prayed to God, cried her tears, found inspiration. It was her church. Her sacred place and Liz felt guilty for disturbing her now.

What if they fought again? What if Maria couldn’t forgive her? What if yesterday was too much? The questions continued to swirl around within Liz's mind as they had been all morning. The constant need for the answers to them but more importantly Liz's need of Maria's forgiveness had propelled her here to Maria's in hopes that everything would return to normal. Liz knew she couldn't go on her date with Xan if she was still fighting with Maria. She wouldn't be able to enjoy herself. However to be able to find the strength to walk across the lawn to where Maria was seemed almost impossible. Liz closed her eyes for a second and thought about Kyle and his early morning pep talk he had given her over the phone.

"Liz, Buddha says on a long journey of human life, faith is the best of companions; it is the best refreshment on the journey; and it is the greatest property. Have faith Liz. In yourself and in Maria. Go get 'em tiger!"

Liz shook her head and laughed to herself over his words, knowing that in that special way of his Kyle always managed to say exactly what Liz needed to hear. She wished he could be here holding her hand too but a girl can't have everything, can she. Besides she had already asked and he told her this was something that Maria and her needed to do on their own. Kyle promised to be there for her later if she needed but until then Buddha's words would have to suffice.

So with a roll of her shoulders and every available strands of hair tucked behind her ears Liz started forward towards Maria.

"Hey." Liz said softly after Maria had noticed her nearing the garden. Liz quickly tried to read the expression on Maria's face, wondering if was anger or sadness that made her eyes look that way.

"Hey." Maria replied as she stood up. Liz watched her take off her dirt stained gardening gloves and toss them into the basket of tomatoes.

"Your tomatoes look great." Liz offered.

"Thanks." Maria replied. They both stared down at the basket for a moment, their bodies almost perfectly still. Liz could feel the crackle of tension in the air between them and she wanted so badly to take it away. To just go back to normal.

Liz looked over at Maria, their gazes interlocking and then it happened.

"I'm sorry." They both said simultaneously, tears already falling down both of their faces and they closed in the gap of space that had been between them.

"No Maria it was all my fault." Liz apologized as she reached out and took hold of Maria's hands.

Maria shook her head in protest, clinging tightly to Liz. "No it wasn't. I was being too pushy about everything when I should have just kept my big mouth shut. Please forgive me."

"There's nothing to forgive. You were just trying to be helpful and you're right, I was trying to get out of my date with Xan." Liz said.

"Oh Lizzie." Maria cried. "Talk to me please."

"It's nothing." Liz dismissed. "I was a little spooked but I'm okay, I'm just sorry I took it out on you."

Maria shook her head. "C'mon Liz it's more than that. Look, I don't want to fight but I can't keep doing this anymore. Keep ignoring what's really going on. I need you to talk to me. Really talk to me."

In that moment hearing Maria's pleas Liz thought about everything that hadn't been said over the years, the problems that existed because they had let them and she wondered if Maria really meant it. Was she ready to talk about the past? Ready to let everything out in the open despite the pain.

"But do you really want to hear it Maria?" Liz asked, needing some final confirmation before opening up. Maria kept silent at first, tears still falling down her face and she led Liz over to a bench that sat at the edge of the garden. Never letting go of Liz's hand she held on tight and looked into Liz's eyes.

"I need to." Maria whispered. "I need to hear you, to hear what you're feeling even if it's about Max."

"But you hate him." Liz said pointedly and Maria nodded her in head with admission.

"I'm sorry, but I just hate how much he's affected your life. But that shouldn't matter because you should be able to talk to me about Max. I've been wrong to not let you and I realized that yesterday after talking to Kyle and Paige. I know what I've been doing to you and I'm just so sorry that it's taken me so long to realize it. You know I've been feeling the distance between us widening over the years. I could feel you holding back from me and I think deep down I knew the real reasons why. It's not because of Max; it's because of me. I've put these conditions on our friendship and I've asked to you to be a certain way and that's not right. I've been selfish Liz." Maria admitted and Liz couldn’t believe Maria was saying of all this. She had expected her not to understand and blame Max for everything but she wasn't. Instead Maria was blaming herself.

"Please talk to me cause I can't stand this anymore." Maria begged and Liz gave in.

"What if I told you they're a part of me Maria. Max, Isabel, even Michael. They're gone but I will forever have a connection with them that I can't quite explain but its there because of Max saving my life. I just feel different, like they felt different. And that I dream about Max every night. That my powers I have don't feel alien anymore, that they feel natural and I sometimes I use them just so I can be close to Max. But Maria when I'm around you I feel like I have to hide a part of myself from you, that I can't be completely honest because you don't want me to be. That you can't accept the change in me."

"You're right, I can't." Maria agreed as she cried. "I can't because it reminds me of Michael. Of how much I miss him. That you are linked to him in way that I can never be and I'm jealous of you because of that. I always have been. But I don't mean to be Liz, you have to believe me." Maria begged.

"I do." Liz said. "But I can't change who I am Maria."

"I know and I have to learn to accept you, no matter what."

"Maria, I'm sorry." Liz said.

"I know you are and I'm sorry too. I've been wrong Liz, about a lot of things."

"Maria, don't blame yourself. This hasn't been easy on any of us." Liz said, tugging on Maria's hand.

Maria shook her head again. "There's no one else to blame Liz. I know what I've been doing. Asking you to forget Max, about everything that has to do with him just so I won't have to feel the pain. But you know what? It hasn't helped. The pain is still there and I've hurt you even more in the process. I'm so sorry."

"Maria, you've only been trying to protect yourself. I've always understood that."

"But Liz I've put conditions on our friendship and I haven't been there for you when I should have." Maria protested.

"Yes you have." Liz argued.

"No, not when it comes to Max. With helping you deal with losing him." Maria paused and sighed. "Liz when they left and I saw you break down that first day I couldn’t deal with it. I was too wrapped up in my own pain to see that for once I needed to be your crutch. You needed me then but I didn't care and I let you deal with the pain all by yourself and then I stood back and watched you self-destruct."

"Maria you had your own pain to deal with." Liz quickly supplied not wanting Maria to feel the guilt for that time in their lives. After all it had already been settled years ago. Tears had been shed and apologies were given. What was left was picking up the pieces and moving forward, not sitting around placing blame.

"But I still saw you suffering." Maria lamented. "You were dealing with heavy stuff and I should have listened, really listened to you but I didn't. I left you alone."

"You tried to help me later Maria, but I didn't want any." Liz explained. "What happened to me that year, happened because I let it and there was nothing you could have done."

"I shouldn't have let you get that bad." Maria argued.

"What would you have done?" Liz countered.

"Talked to you, listened to you. Been there for you. I should have been there for you." Maria said adamantly.

"I didn't want you. I didn't want anyone except Max and Alex back." Liz said as she shook her head.

"I know." Maria agreed solemnly.

"Look I needed to hit rock bottom first before I could let you or Kyle or my parents help me. I was just that messed up. But when I did you were there for me and you did help Maria."

"But not after." Maria said. "Not after you and Kyle got your powers. I really freaked out then."

"You weren't the only one." Liz said, letting a short laugh over the memory. There was definitely a lot freaking out going on by all of them. There were screams, cries and a lot of things getting blown up and melted. And with no aliens to guide them Liz and Kyle had no choice but to learn to deal with them on their own.

"That's true but after we got past that I just didn't want to talk about it anymore. About them. I thought that if we didn't talk about them that it would all go away. That the pain would stop so I asked you and Kyle to keep a part of yourself from me to protect me." Maria said and Liz could hear the guilt in Maria's voice.

"I don't blame you for wanting that." Liz offered.

"But what about what you wanted? What you needed Liz?" Maria questioned. "I knew you were missing Max but I didn't want to admit it or talk about it because then I would have to admit I was missing Michael and I couldn't deal with the kind of pain that admission brought. So instead I just ignored everything and forced all of us to move on, even if we weren't ready."

"Maria I needed that push, really I did. I think that if I had stayed in Roswell after we graduated I wouldn't have been able to move on. Max was everywhere in that town and it hurt so much just to be there."

"But I didn't stop there Liz. I pushed you into dating when you weren't ready. Expected you to forget about Max and Roswell and I'm still doing it after all this time. You're still not over Max and I know that but instead of listening to you and trying to help I've just been angry at everyone else when I should have been angry at myself." Maria said and Liz sighed.

"We've both made mistakes Maria and we've both been hurt."

"You really miss him." Maria said and Liz couldn't deny the relief that filled her over Maria's acknowledgement.

"Always." Liz said, knowing it sounded almost like a promise.

"I miss Michael too." Maria confessed and fell into Liz's open embrace.

"I don't think we'll ever stop Maria." Liz whispered as she held Maria tight while they cried.

"Do you think they're okay Liz? Wherever they are." Maria asked and Liz pulled back and looked at Maria once more.

"I don't know about Michael or Isabel but Maria, Max is dead." Liz confessed.

"What? When, how do you know that?" Maria asked, visibly shocked over Liz's words.

"Because I felt it." Liz answered.

"You felt him dying?"

"Sort of." Liz answered. "I mean I didn’t feel anything physical pain from him it was more like I no longer felt him in my soul. Ever since he healed me Maria I always felt Max, his presence within me no matter how far away we got from each other. Physically, emotionally, he was there, within me. It was this invisible bond we had and I held on to it like it was the most precious things in the world to me. And it was and even through the bad times and then when things got better he was still there. But then one day, I was cleaning out my closet and I was having this imaginary conversation with him in my head. You see I used to think I could see him walking around in my life. Sometimes it seemed so real that I couldn't understand why I couldn't feel him when I reached out to touch him. And so on that day he was sitting on my bed and I was laughing over something he said, I know that sounds crazy."

"No it doesn't." Maria said in a rush and Liz continued to share the painful memory.

"Anyway one moment I was laughing and the next moment I felt so empty inside. I looked over at the bed and he was gone. I ran around my house like a crazy lady looking for him, calling out his name but he never answered and the empty feeling just got stronger and I knew what it meant. He was dead."

Maria put her arms around Liz and Liz could feel her sympathy and it soothed her.

"I'm sorry Liz. I'm so sorry. When was this?" Maria asked.

"About six years ago." Liz explained.

"Right before your birthday?" Maria asked, though it sounded more like a statement to Liz. She knew, Liz conceded, just like she always knew when something was bothering her. They may have kept things from each other but it didn't mean they didn't know each other deep down. Know when the other was hurting. Why they hadn't acknowledged each other's pain at times was something Liz regretted.

"Yeah." Liz said softly and Liz held onto tighter to Maria as she cried harder.

"I'm such a jerk. I was so mad at you then cause I had fixed you up with Mark for your party and you weren't talking to him. I thought you were being so stubborn, holding onto Max and here you were dealing with his death. I'm so sorry."

"Maria you didn't know." Liz said and was shocked when Maria pulled back at look Liz right in the eyes.

"But I should have." Maria stated. "I should have been there for you."

"Maria please, don't blame yourself and look you're here now. You're right beside me like you've always been since we left Roswell." Liz said as she began to stroke Maria's hair with her hands.

"Liz, you're my best friend and I don't know what I would do without you. After we fought yesterday I was so scared that I had lost you, that you'd finally wised up and would move on." Maria confessed and Liz's laughed because she felt the same way.

"You could never lose me." Liz vowed. "I feel the same way. I want you to know though that you have every right to move on from the alien chaos, to distance you and your family in order to keep them safe."

Maria shook her head. "You're my family too and I am safe with you. I want you to promise me something."

"Okay." Liz agreed.

"Don't keep anything from me please. I don't care if it the slightest bit alien I want to know so I can help you if you need me to."

"I will. No more secrets." Liz promised.

"No more secrets." Maria agreed.

They stayed in the garden that afternoon and they talked about everything. Max, Michael, everything. Liz shared her feelings over Xan and the dreams that she had been having of him and Max. They talked about what the dreams meant and of Liz's fears to move on. They talked about Xan, each others perceptions and Liz was surprised when Maria told her that Xan seemed familiar, that there was something about him that she couldn't quite place. Liz told Maria of her first impression on him, that she thought he had looked like Max and Maria didn't deny there was a slight resemblance. In the end they passed it off as coincidence and began discussing the beauty of his eyes, among other things. Vern had found them laughing hysterically and when Maria's asked him what he thought of Xan's butt he let them be.

The cried and laughed as they remembered things they hadn't remembered in years. They both admitted that if felt good to get everything out and they vowed once again to never keep secrets.

By mid afternoon Liz knew she had to leave to get ready for her date and she was grateful when Maria accepted her invitation to help her get ready for it. Liz was a bundle of nervous anticipation and she needed her best friend to help her through. Tonight was going to be special, Liz could feel it.

TBC…

posted on 7-Feb-2003 10:43:37 AM
I'm still here. As you can probably tell I'm having issues with this next part though I did have a breakthrough last night. I was finally able to get them to the club and they're having a conversation so it is something. I haven't given up so please have a little more patience with me.

Thanks,
Abbi *happy*
posted on 12-Feb-2003 11:08:10 PM
Author's Note: Finally. Thanks to Anne and Stacey for their help with this part.

PART NINE

"All righty then, if that's all I'll be back in a few minutes with your drinks."

"Yes, thank you." Xan said to the waitress, offering her a smile.

"You're welcome, enjoy your evening." She replied as she tucked her pen behind her ear, the writing instrument almost disappearing beneath her bright red tendrils of hair. She smiled at the couple in front of her once more before backing away from the table, then turning and walking towards the kitchen.

Liz watched the waitress disappear behind the kitchen's double doors and kept her gaze fixated on them instead of on the man that was sitting so close to her. The truth was she was too afraid to look over at Xan. She knew he was watching her, she could feel his stare. Liz wanted to turn to him and soak in his handsome face. All the contours and crevices, the textures, the colors. The salmon pink of his lips, the ethereal blue of his eyes, his warm golden skin that looked like the color of honey. She wanted to stroke his cheek with her palm, weave the wavy ends of his dark hair through her fingertips. And she wanted to tell him how much being with him tonight meant to her. But she didn't speak or touch or look, instead Liz began to look at everything else instead and let the unspoken worry in her heart fester.

To her left the band took the small stage and Liz watched them talk and laugh amongst themselves. There were seven men total, some thin, some burly, all dressed in black suits, white shirts and black ties making them look unified. The appearance reminded Liz of the main characters' dress in those silly Men In Black movies that Kyle had forced her to watch back in college. One snowy January night they cuddled on his couch in his dorm room, both wrapped in his comforter and they laughed as they watched while their hands tentatively explored each other beneath the blanket. By the time the second movie had ended Liz was giggling so hard but it wasn't because of the movie. Kyle had found on her a ticklish spot an inch below her ribs and was taking great pleasure in torturing her with his fingertips and later his mouth.

"This place is great. I've always wanted to come here."

Liz heard Xan's words and nodded her head in agreement, still unable to look his way. She fought the pull to, her fingers grasping her skirt to keep herself in place. Liz knew she couldn't avoid him for much longer. She would have to look at him and then try not to get lost in his eyes while she told him that this had all been a mistake. That no matter how attracted she was to him or that deep down she wanted to find where this relationship was headed one fact remained. It was a blatant and cruel truth that Liz acknowledged but up until now had talked herself through. She had told herself it didn't matter. That it couldn't rival the feelings she was having towards Xan and it obviously hadn't Xan's feelings for her. He wouldn't have asked her on this date if it mattered. Right?

Liz knew she would have said no to that question earlier when Maria was fastening the hook to Liz's necklace while Liz looked out her window and watched Xan walked across the driveway to her house, Sam close to his side. Just as there was no doubt when she opened the door and saw him standing there, dressed in a navy shirt and black pants, holding a bouquet of fall flowers. And during the drive to the club, while music came softly from the car speakers and they talked about the latest breakthroughs in sickle cell disease research, Liz's afternoon with Maria and Xan's lifelong fear of clowns. The conversation between them had flowed so easily as if they had been doing if for years. There were no awkward pauses, no moments where Liz wanted to cringe over something she had said. It felt right. Real. Meant to be.

How things change.

On the way to the club it had begun to rain. Sprinkles at first, then a loud thunder broke in the sky bringing with it a downpour of rain. They ran from the parking lot to the club, Xan's hand holding tightly on to Liz's, both laughing as the rain pelted them. The entered the club in a flourish, bringing in with them some of the wind and the rain into the dry interior. People waiting for tables stood around them and took notice however all Liz could see was Xan.

She looked up at him. He was smiling and wet, drops of water dripping from his hair, face and clothes. With her free hand Liz tenderly brushed away the raindrop that was sliding down his cheek. Liz shivered when he slid his hand up her arm and then held her hand in place before placing a kiss on the side of her palm. In that moment nothing else mattered. Not the rain outside or the gust of wind that blew in, tossing Liz's hair about her head when someone had opened the door. Liz could only see Xan's eyes and his lips, feel his touch, his breath on her face. She wanted to kiss him. Her lips felt heavy with want and her heart was pounding rapidly in her chest. She had never wanted or needed anything like this for such a very long time.

Xan drew Liz closer to him and Liz leaned her chest against his, trying to tell him with her body that she was ready. Liz parted her lips and slowly began to close the lids of her eyes. It was then when reality came crashing down and Liz stopped. To her right Liz saw an older woman, draped in black fur staring at them. The woman's eyes were narrowed; her mouth curled up in what Liz interpreted as disgust.

Liz pulled away immediately from Xan and watched his eyes flutter open.

"What's wrong?" He asked her, his breathing heavy.

Liz rolled her head slightly, signaling that they were not alone and Xan looked around hastily.

"Oh sorry." He apologized quickly and led Liz to the hostess station. After giving the hostess his name they waited for their table along with the others. Xan was making conversation and Liz was doing her best to keep up. She was distracted, not just by the old woman who was still watching them but also by the couple that stood next to the potted plant and the man who was eyeing them as he talked on his cellphone. Their curiosity and disapproval was evident in the looks they gave and Liz wondered if Xan had noticed them too. Did he understand what they meant? Was he now feeling what she was feeling?

Liz couldn't let her thoughts go, let the reasoning behind their looks and whispers be ignored. She knew the why just like she understood that everyone, not only the people in the club would feel that the two of them being together was wrong. His mother, his friends, the people that he worked with at the hospital. When they looked at them together it would all be made perfectly clear which was why Liz needed to end it tonight.

The waitress returned, glasses clinked on the table, the saxophone player played a few notes and Liz discreetly wiped the tear from her cheek before looking at Xan. He turned to her and the smile he was wearing faded from his face.

"Liz, are you okay?" Xan asked, placing his palm flat against her forearm, his touch sending a shiver through Liz and she involuntarily let out a shaky breath. Her skin tingled from his warm touch and she lowered her gaze to stare at his hand on her. She could do this.

"Um, yeah, I'm fine." Liz lied.

"You sure, cause ever since we sat down you've seemed to be somewhere else." Xan said skeptically.

Liz looked up at met his curious stare. "Xan, I'm forty-two." Liz blurted out.

"I know." Xan nodded.

"You're twenty-four." Liz stated, willing him to understand what that fact meant.

"Liz…" He whispered, tightening his grasp of her as Liz interrupted him.

"Xan that's an eighteen year difference."

"I know. I've done the math."

"Okay, but have you thought about it? What that means?" Liz asked, her voice rising above a whisper.

Xan sighed and slid his hand under her forearm and then down until he held her hand in his. Liz watched, mesmerized.

"Liz I'm not naïve. I know that some people are going to have a problem with us seeing each other but I don't and I thought that you didn't either. What's changed?"

Liz shrugged her shoulders, her eyes still downcast. "I don't know, being here I guess. Seeing the way that people are looking at us."

"What people? Where?" Xan asked, looking around the room.

Liz looked up. "Everywhere. When we came in. When the waitress sat us at our table. All this time people have been staring at us."

Xan stopped his search, his gaze locking with Liz's. "Maybe its because you're so beautiful. I know that I can't take my eyes off of you." Xan said earnestly.

"It's more than that. From them I mean." Liz replied quietly.

Xan shook his head. "I don't care about what any of these people think in this room except you. We can leave if you want, go somewhere else." He offered.

Liz closed her eyes, wishing it were all that simple as a change of locale.

"It wouldn't matter where we go Xan, I will still be older than you. Too old." Liz told him, her voice tight.

"No, you won't." Xan argued, his words quick.

Liz looked at him again, amazed by his aura of decisiveness. How could he be so sure?

No, he wasn't sure, just young. Naïve. Unaware of life's cruelties or of the secrets of the woman whose hand he was holding. She couldn't be swayed.

Liz withdrew her hand from his and sat back in her chair, needing the distance between them.

"Xan, look I'm flattered, really I am and I like you but I shouldn't have let us get this far. You should be with someone your own age." Liz said, trying hard not to let her voice waiver as she made her plea. She prayed that he would accept her words and not fight her because the truth was that she didn't know if she had the strength to say it again.

Xan reached for Liz but she pulled away even farther. Didn't he know what his touch could do to her? How her skin hummed when he did? How is soothed and excited her all at once?

He tried again and this time when Liz shook him away she didn't miss the hurt look that came over his face.

"Liz, listen me." Xan pleaded, his hands balled. "I'll admit on paper eighteen years seems like a lot and to some people age matters but not to me. Not when I look at you. Not when I touch you." Xan whispered out his last few words while reaching out once again for Liz.

His hand touched the exposed flesh on her knee and Liz's defenses started to crumble. She could feel the tears well up in her eyes and she closed her lids, trying to make them stop. Liz took a deep breath and opened them again, pulling out from within her the last bit of her resolve.

"I want to believe you and maybe right now that's really how you feel but what about later on?" Liz asked. "Let's say we continue to date and then your friends, your mother finds out about me. About how old I am. What then?" Liz demanded.

Xan leaned forward in his seat towards Liz. With his thumb he brushed away the tears that had fallen onto her cheeks, his touch ever so soft. Like a feather to her skin.

"The people that matter won't care because they'll want me to be happy." Xan whispered as he continued to stroke her face. "And I am happy Liz. You make me happy."

For a moment there was silence as Liz reveled in his touch, in his words. She made him happy and he wasn't giving up. Why wasn't he giving up?

Liz didn't fight him when Xan took her hand in his and listened as he spoke to her again.

"Look, I don't want to scare you off by telling you this and frankly these feelings I've been having for you are a little overwhelming but they're real. What I'm trying to say is ever since I met you on Thursday you've put this spell on me. You're all I want to think about. Be with. Tonight couldn’t come fast enough for me. To be with you now, holding your hands, it's like a gift. And the more I get to know you the more I like you, the more I want to be with you. I know we've just met but I've never felt this way towards any woman before. You're different. Special. You're beautiful and intelligent and this wonderful mystery to me. I want to know everything about you. Please Liz, give us chance." Xan pleaded. "Don't let the age difference between us be an issue."

"I just don't want you to make a mistake." Liz cried out softly, hot tears running down her cheeks.

Xan sighed, cradling her face in her hands.

"You're not a mistake Liz." He breathed out. "You could never be a mistake."

"You don't know me Xan." Liz argued weakly. "There's so much about me that you don't know."

"Then tell me." Xan said smiling tenderly. "Tell me everything. I want to know Liz. I want to know you. Every part. Every story."

"It's not that easy."

"Okay, then we'll take it slow." Xan said, nodding his head. "You tell me what you want, when you want. No pressure. I just want to be with you."

"Who are you?" Liz asked incredulously, a small smile forming on her lips for the first time since after they arrived.

Xan let out a soft laughed before bringing her head close to his. He leaned his forehead against hers and spoke.

"Hopefully the man who is going to make you very happy. Will you let me Liz?"

"Yes." Liz answered as she closed her eyes, her heart finally ready to move on.



They ate blackened Cajun chicken and sipped on wine while the band played through their set. Liz let go of her fears about age and allowed herself to enjoy the night with Xan. They laughed and talked, touching each other every so often and Liz didn't fight his touch. She welcomed it now like a cool rain on a hot summer day, wanting her whole self to dance in it.

The candlelit restaurant grew quieter as the night went on, couples lost in intimate conversations at tables and on the dance floor, each in their own private worlds that the club atmosphere seemed to provide.

Xan and Liz moved to the dance floor and began to dance. Their bodies swaying back at forth with the rhythm of the music. They were flush against each other, chest against chest. At first they moved together in silence, enjoying the feel of their bodies so close to one another. Liz closed her eyes, wanting to never forget how good in felt to be in his arms. How safe and cherished she felt for the first time in so very long. The moment was perfect.

And then she felt pain. In her foot and Xan apologized profusely for stepping on her and Liz began to laugh. Long and loud and Xan joined in.

~*~*~*~*~

"I've never met anyone quite like Maria." Xan said as he continued to dance with Liz.

"She's an original." Liz answered, her fingers playing with the collar of his shirt.

"That she is." Xan chuckled. "Vern seems the complete opposite. I mean, he's so calm."

Liz rolled her eyes and laughed. "His calmness drives Maria crazy sometimes."

"How did they meet?"

"Oh, it was about twelve years ago." Liz sighed. "Maria and I were driving on I64 and the traffic was heavy. Maria was in a rush, which is pretty normal for her when she drives. Anyway, she was doing half dozen things at once, one of them being talking to me and she didn't see the car in front of her stop and so she rear ended it."

"Let me guess, the driver was Vern?"

"Yeah, Vern." Liz answered, nodding her head, loving how he seemed to be reading her mind.

"Maria was hysterical and after we pulled off to the side she went rushing to his car." Liz continued on. "She started apologizing repeatedly and Vern, true to character wasn't upset. He didn't yell or anything. He was levelheaded which completely pissed Maria off. She started yelling at him for not yelling at her. And then he started laughing at her and then I started laughing and by the time the cops came Maria was livid. She almost got arrested by the cops."

"No way." Xan said, amazed and Liz nodded her head again.

"She would if it wasn't for Vern intervening." She supplied.

"So then what happened?" Xan asked.

"For the rest of the day Maria couldn't stop talking about him and not in good way either. I don't think Vern would want to know all the adjectives she used to describe him that night. Well the next day Vern called Maria up and asked her on a date and she said yes. They were married four months later."

"Sounds like it was meant to be." Xan said, smiling.

"It was." Liz agreed, remembering Maria and Vern's wedding day. The wedding was outside, under a gazebo in the old part of Saint Charles. There wasn't a dry eye left after Maria and Vern had made their promises of love and forever and everyone who was there, who knew them, knew that they meant every single word. "He's so good for her to you know." Liz continued. "He balances her out. Completes her."

"What about Paige and Kyle?" Xan asked as his hand stroked her back.

"They were like two magnets." Liz said, with raised eyebrows. "Completely drawn to one another. And though Kyle denies it I think he proposed on their first date. It wasn't much longer after that they were married."

"What about you Liz? Have you ever thought about getting married?" Xan asked quietly and Liz looked down.

"I'm sorry, if that's too personal." Xan apologized.

"No, you're fine." Liz said, shaking her head as she looked back into his eyes. "When Kyle and I were dating we talked about it but it was always a maybe, someday kind of deal. We never made any plans. I guess we both knew it wasn't meant to be." Liz told him, hoping Xan understand that she didn't have any regrets when it came to Kyle.

"It's amazing that you two are still close." Xan said. "Most couples I've known don't stay friends after a breakup."

Liz lightly shrugged her shoulders. "I guess it's different with us. We've been through a lot together, even before we started dating." Liz explained. "Kyle, Maria, some friends we had in high school, all of us had to deal with things that most teenagers don't have to. At times all we had was each other. And now, after all these years I can't imagine my life without Kyle or Maria. They're my dearest friends and thankfully Paige is the exceptional woman she is. She understands Kyle's friendship with me and what it means."

Xan nodded his head in understanding. "Has there been anyone else?" He asked slowly and Liz could tell he was gauging her reaction, not wanting to ask too much. His thoughtfulness warmed her.

"A long time ago. Before Kyle." Liz stated, surprised that the memory of Max didn't bring forth sadness like it always had in the past. Tonight there was none and Liz discovered how freeing that felt. To not feel the shackles of the past. She smiled up at Xan and spoke. "Obviously it didn't work out."

Xan smiled back and for awhile they were lost again. Lost in the magic of the moment.

A waitress cleared her throat, trying to break the spell. Xan looked up and noticed a nearly empty restaurant. The band was clearing off the stage and the two of them were the last of the customers inside.

"You know the music stopped." Xan laughed as he looked back down at Liz. With his hand he cupped the back of her head, his fingers massaging her scalp.

"I didn't notice." Liz breathed out.

The fluorescent lights turned over head and near the bar the sound of a vacuum cleaner came to life. Xan leaned his head down towards Liz, his lips curved in a playful, half-smile.

"I should get you home before they have to throw us out of here."

Hand in hand they left the club as those that remained watched them leave with smiles on their faces.

~*~*~*~*~*~

"Thank you for a really great night." Liz said as she walked across her porch with Xan.

"Thank you Liz. It's been the best of night of my life."

"I bet you say that to all your dates." Liz said playfully as she tugged on his hand.

Xan pulled her towards him and wrapped his arms around her.

"Only to you Liz." He breathed out, his voice deep and Liz's stomach flipped. She could feel the warmth spread out from her stomach, feeling every cell in her body heat up in reaction to him.

"So what's next?" Liz asked through ragged breaths.

Xan wrapped his hand through her hair, gently pulling her even closer. "I want to see you again Liz. Soon."

"Is tomorrow soon enough?" Liz asked, a warm smile unfolding across her face. She could feel his breath on her and it was making her dizzy.

Xan groaned. "I'm busy all day but what about Tuesday night. I’ll make us dinner."

"You cook?" Liz asked, her smile continuing to grow and she laughed when he let out a little wince.

"Uh, sort of." He said. "I think I can manage something edible for us." As Xan spoke his eyes turned downward and focused on Liz's lips.

"I'm sure it will be delicious. I'll bring dessert." Liz whispered, she too was staring at his full lips.

"Great. I'll be home by six." Xan spoke softly as he moved his lips closer to Liz's and he stopped. He was just a few centimeters from their first kiss.

"I want to kiss you Liz." Xan whispered and Liz smiled as she heard the question within his words.

"What are you waiting for?" Liz asked seductively and then pressed her lips against his. They both shuddered from the contact, the feel of their soft, sensitive skin touching each other. The first kisses were slow, timid as they studied each other. The shape and feel, the rhythm and style. But soon they both needed more, an unspoken desire to take as much as they could of each other with only a kiss.

They held onto to each other tightly as they kissed and stroked in those wee hours of a September morning, both not letting go until the cool wind drove them apart, forcing them to bid goodnight, until they could see each other once more.


TBC…



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 12-Feb-2003 11:31:25 PM ]