posted on 14-Apr-2002 8:38:35 PM by Wench On A Leash
Title: Truth Doesn't Make A Noise
Category: Max/Liz
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: I don't want to give too much away. The Parkers move into town, and Max is drawn to the young woman whose blank persona feeds his curiosity. =/ I'm not good with summaries. Besides, this is my first AU fan fic, kinda... Just read it, okay? Hehe. If you respond, I'll write more, if not then I shall stop. =) I got this idea from a White Stripes song... which shall be in the story at a later point; that is, if I get enough replies ;)

2-2-2

Look I finally have a banner!! Yaya! This WONDERFUL banner was done by Lilac_Stardust. Everyone give a big thanks to her for making it. Isn't it beautiful. =)

Part 1~ Pg. 1
Part 2~ Pg. 2
Part 3~ Pg. 3
Part 4~ Pg. 5
Part 5~ Pg. 7
Part 6~ Pg. 10
Part 7~ Pg. 13
Part 8~ Pg. 16
Part 9~ Pg. 20
Part 10~ Pg. 24
Part 11~ Pg. 27
Part 12~ Pg. 31
Part 13~ Pg. 37
Part 14~ Pg. 43
Part 15~ Pg. 46
Part 16~ Pg. 51
Part 17~ Pg. 58
Part 18~ Pg. 62
A/N~ Pg. 68
Part 19~ Pg. 72
Part 20~ Pg. 77
Part 21~ Pg. 82
A/N~ Pg. 84


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
The day they moved in was the day that the gossip started. Not just gossip at the local highschool, but gossip throughout the suburb. The whole neighborhood had their own thoughts on the Parker family. One of the rumors was that the parents were overly strict and kept their daughter home and under their watchful gaze at all times. Another was that their daughter was a prodigy who was way above the average teenager's brain capacity. Max, he could care less about some new family in town. He'd heard enough rumors about enough new families to last a lifetime and frankly, it was just a way to surpass the boredom of everyday life.
Max sat outside on his porch putting a new roll of film into his camera. For his senior year he decided to take photography... more of a blow-off class than anything else. He was surprised when he actually ENJOYED what he was doing... who would have thought that Max Evans.. Mr. Could Give A Shit Less about anything would enjoy taking snapshots of everything. His teacher, Mrs. Reed, had taken him aside one day and told him his pictures were unlike any she had seen before by any fellow students. He had this way of capturing the true essence of the photos. In people; he captured their emotions, their beauty. In scenery, he captured the slightest oddity in a leaf; and turned it into a beautiful creation. His pictures were unique, and his pictures were pure. Max smirked at the thought of his teacher telling him he was a good photographer, that was the first compliment he had ever gotten. His parents were okay, they just were never home. His dad was always away off on business trips and his mother spent an abundant amount of time at some shelter for messed up kids.
Max set the camera in focus and zoomed in on the house with the lovely little white picket fence across the street from his... this was the Parker's home. He saw the drapes to one of the rooms rustle and zoomed in more when he saw a girl with long brown hair draped around her face, almost as if to hide herself. Her eyes were blank, unknowing as she stared out the window. Max snapped a shot, thinking this would make a good black and white photo. The girl inside the window continued to stare, and Max had this sudden urge to walk to her house, stand directly in front of that window and stare back at her. His curiousity was sparked.

~*~

"Liz honey, dinner's ready" Came a sweet, surprisingly calm voice from behind her. Liz continued to stare blankly out the window. The voice behind her sighed sadly and gently touched her shoulder. Liz suddenly whipped around and jumped back a few feet, as if she had been burnt. The woman gazed at Liz, into her eyes that looked so lost, so frightened, and she had to swallow before she could regain her strength the speak. "Liz, please eat dinner with us." Liz nodded her head and walked into the kitchen, taking a seat and began staring blankly at the fan above the table. She watched it move, over and over, it's steady rhythm calming her from reality. She was in a different world. She was in her own little world.
Elizabeth was home schooled, which Max later found out when she hadn't been to school after a month of settling into the new house. He saw her once in a while, staring out the window with that same blank expression as always. He never really got a good look at her, all he could see was a slight glimpse of her face hidden behind her dark hair. He continued to take pictures of her, he just wanted to capture the truth behind her face. He wanted to know her emotions, he wanted to know who she was. He wondered if it was even possible. The Parkers seemed like very private people. In fact, he hardly ever seen anybody leave the house.
Max walked into his house and was surprised to find his mother there.
"Hey Max, I was just about to leave. I left a list of things we need from the grocery store." His mother stated, not even giving him a glance. Okay, so maybe he wasn't surprised.
"See ya" He said as she grabbed her purse and scurried out the door. His mother hadn't cared about him at all. He found it ironic that she spend her time at a shelter helping kids when he himself felt alone most of the time. She'd always leave post it notes for him, directions on how to make food for himself, directions on what to buy at the grocery store and so on and so forth.
A few minutes after his mother left he went to the freezer and looked for a frozen pizza he could heat up. Sadly, he realized he'd have to get the groceries sooner than later. He reluctantly got in his car and drove off to the local grocery store. He swept through the aisle quickly, grabbing everything listed, as well as a couple DiGiorno pizzas for himself when he saw an elderly woman attempting to reach up to get ice cream. The look of determination on the woman's face made him walk over to her and ask her if she needed help.
"You're too kind" The woman responded.
"Umm, which flavor do you want?" Max asked. The elderly woman's eyes flickered in sadness for a moment before she responded.
"Vanilla." She said, then lowered her voice and added "It's my granddaughter's favorite flavor." Max reached the top shelf and grabbed vanilla, handing it to the elderly woman. "Thank you..."
"Max. My name's Max Evans" He hadn't seen this woman before and vaguely wondered if she was in the Parker household. He had wanted to ask, but didn't want to be rude about it. The elderly woman smiled.
"Evans. I believe you live down the street from me. I'm Claudia Parker."
"It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Parker", Max said as he extended his hand for a handshake.
"Oh, please call me Claudia. Mrs. Parker makes me feel so old" Max couldn't help but smile at the woman's sense of humor. "Well, I better get home. Thank you for helping me, Max."
As Max drove home he spotted her walking down the street with only the ice cream in her hands. He saw sweat on the woman's face from the heat and figured the ice cream would melt by the time she got home due to the sun's harsh rays. He pulled over and rolled down the window.
"Mrs. Par..err, Claudia, would you like a ride?" The woman didn't hesitate and walked to the passenger side, opening the door and getting in.
"Thank you, I hope the ice cream didn't melt too much". Max drove in silence for the next 5 minutes and pulled into the woman's driveway. Claudia got out of the car and invited him inside for some lemonade. Max was surprised, he had heard enough rumors about the Parkers being cold and distant from people. He decided to go inside, maybe he'd get a glimpse of the girl who was always staring out the window.
He walked inside and the first feeling that came to him was coziness. The house was kind of dark, with it's grandfather clock ticking away in consistent time and everything perfectly in place. The house was spotless, and he made his way into the kitchen and sat down as Claudia poured them lemonade and seated herself down across from him.
"I would appreciate it if you'd stop taking pictures of my granddaughter" she said out of nowhere. Max almost choked on his lemonade, as a slight blush covered his face. He couldn't think of anything to say, and the woman laughed. "It's best to leave her alone." She said as the laughter quickly faded and was replaced with a sadness in her eyes.
"I don't know if I can" Max found himself saying what he was thinking. The woman looked away, wondering if this young man was what her granddaughter needed. But the burden was too big, and the emotional conflicts raging through her granddaughter's brain were too great.
"Max, you haven't even talked to her.."
"It's her eyes, they're so... blank" The woman's eyes welled up with tears and she had the remember to breathe.
"You're quite the perceptive one" She stated.
Just when Max began feeling guilty, he heard the squeak of a door opening and watched as the girl walked straight to the window and stared outside. Max realized she wasn't a girl. She was a woman. She had the body of a woman, but she looked so small, so fragile. He felt this... need to go over to her, to just get a better look at her. But as he took slow steps towards her, he felt a hand rush to his arm and firmly hault his movements.
"You'll scare her" Claudia said. He stood in place as Claudia then moved to the young woman's side and said calmly
"Liz, honey, I want you to meet someone." So her name was Liz, Max thought. He waited for her to turn around, acknowledge him perhaps. When she didn't, Claudia gave him a sympathetic look, and tried again, "Elizabeth". Liz blinked, and turned around. It was at that moment when Max met her eyes in close proximity that he realized she was beautiful.

~*~



[ edited 35time(s), last at 19-Feb-2003 11:33:08 PM ]
posted on 16-Apr-2002 6:29:38 PM by Wench On A Leash
First off, I'd like to thank everybody who left feedback. You have no idea how much I appreciated it. =)

Rapunzel, Moonlit Jade, LilEvEe, FreeFall, aZNroSweLl,anglgrl, roswellluver, shorty828, and Eraser Room.. you have no idea how wonderful it was to hear I had an original beginning and that you were drawn to it. My goal was accomplished. =)

Kitcat ~ It's good to know that I made ya laugh. I thought it to be a nice surprise in the story to have Claudia catch Max in the act. *wink* By the way, I'm a fellow Michiganian as well. Crazy weather here, huh?

TDDreamerBehr ~ I may be able to fit all/some of the Roswell regulars' into the story. As for you knowing the elderly women getting ice cream was Claudia Parker.. you must have some psychic abilities there, girl. *big* Let's see if you have anymore.


Now.. let's get to the second part..

*The asterics signify a flashback

Her large doe eyes continued to stare. Max couldn't tell if she even noticed him, it seemed like she was looking beyond him, fixing her gaze on some immanent object. He couldn't bring himself to say a single word. The look on her face made him feel an overwhelming amount of pain within from just looking at that blank stare on her expressionless face. He wanted to see those soft lips smile, he wanted to see those chocolate eyes sparkle, and most of all he wanted to hear the sweetness of her voice. He hadn't heard one word from her, and had a feeling he wouldn't be hearing any for a long time. If ever.
Claudia stood in the background observing Max's expressions, and she knew that if anyone could help her granddaughter, he would be the one. From the look on his face, he cared for her. She smiled slightly at the thought of her granddaughter once again holding the compassion and spirit of a young child. Her smile quickly faded when her thoughts drifted off to the last time she remembered Liz being that jovial, innocent child she so desperately missed.

***************

"Gramma, where is my brother?" Came the curious voice of an 8 year old. Claudia blinked back her tears as she tried to explain.
"Lizzie, your brother won't be back." Liz turned her head slightly to the side and furrowed her brow like a puppy trying to differentiate what it's owner is saying. She held that look as she felt a weariness take hold of her thoughts.
"Is he with the angels?" Claudia nodded, unable to speak, and finally broke down into sobs. "So there's only one me now?" Liz asked sadly.
"I'm sorry, honey, your twin.. is gone."
"Up there?" Liz asked, pointing her tiny, shaky index finger towards the sky. Claudia nodded, and realization dawned on Liz. Her large doe eyes filled with gloomy tears as she ran into the comfort of her grandmother's arms. "K.. Kyle is gone forever" Came the delicate words of a child losing her innocence. Forever.

*******************
"Elizabeth" came a dreamlike voice, snapping Claudia out of her reverie. She looked to Max and Liz, who were still standing across from one another. Claudia quietly made her way into the other room so Max wouldn't see the fresh tears now forming in her eyes, although he proabably wouldn't have noticed considering the intensity of his gaze on her granddaughter.
Liz blinked at hearing her name, and Max had to stop himself from reaching out to touch her. He didn't want to scare her.
"Liz?" Her eyes looked into his, and at that point he felt a tug on his heart. His instincts took over and he gently reached out his hand to touch her arm. She flinched at the touch, but didn't back away. Her gaze moved down to his hand and slowly returned to his eyes with a cold stare. The look on her face intimidated him and made him pull his hand back.
"I'm sorry." He said softly, but his words were drowned out by the steady sound of a guitar. Liz turned towards the sound coming from the backyard and walked towards it while Max followed closely behind. He knew who was playing, and smirked as he finally saw his old friend Alex sitting against an oak tree strumming the melancholy notes to Aerosmith's "Dream On". He watched Liz, and for a brief moment her eyes seemed to light up. The moment came and gone so quickly that he wasn't sure if he'd been imagining it or not. Claudia came out of her room and walked behind Liz, smiling as she too watched Alex play his guitar.
After the song finished Elizabeth turned and retreated to her room, shutting the door behind her. Max couldn't help but wonder what was going on in her mind.
"Claudia.. she can talk, right?" Max asked. Claudia sighed brokenly before answering,
"She hasn't spoken in 4 years." Max swallowed, as he looked towards Liz's bedroom door.
"How.. how old is she?"
"17" Claudia looked towards Liz's bedroom door and knew this had to be a moment between grandmother and granddaughter.
"I.. better get going. I'm sorry" Max said quietly. He took a breath and went to let himself out knowing he shouldn't ask any more questions. He'd find out the truth when they were willing to tell him. He wouldn't push. He would wait. He would wait because Elizabeth Parker was worth it.

~*~

When Max got outside, he could still hear Alex's guitar and debated on whether to speak to him or not. He decided on the latter, not wanting to bother Alex and his love of the guitar. It'd be like someone interrupting him taking photographs, and he couldn't do it. Besides, he hadn't spoken to Alex much, with the exception of the occasional "Hey man, what's up?" in the hallways, since his sophomore year. Max began walking towards his house thinking back to when he had turned into Mr. Football hero. He hated the sport, couldn't stand it in fact, but he tried out and made the team to impress his parents. Unfortunately, his parents didn't seem to care about the time when he got all A's and was highschool's favorite football player. He sucked at the game, but the girls still loved him, and when the girls hung all over him, the guys hung out with him to get into the girls' pants. When he transformed into Mr. Popular, he dropped his best friend Alex and spent his time with the football team. Max felt bad ending the only real friendship he'd had for such a superficial thing that only made him more alone in the long run. Now, he was no longer Mr. Football, he was no longer getting all A's, and he no longer had a flock of girls at his side. All thanks to a Sean DeLuca moving in and claiming the "bad boy" roll along with claiming the bitchy blond Tess Harding, whose last name held a second meaning.. to many.. many guys. =)
Max opened the door to his house and the first words that came out of his mouth were...
"Who the hell are you?"


*Thank you again for all the feedback* Big hugs to you all. *happy*
posted on 20-Apr-2002 4:10:14 PM by Wench On A Leash
Feedback is such a lovely thing. *big*
Thank you Lil EvEe, Rapunzel, Alien 614, FreeFall, roswellluver, aZnroSweLl and anglgrl for leaving it. =)

abbs007~ Kyle's death was only the beginning, and yes, there is more that happened

Eraser Room ~ Glad you caught the age thing.

Kitcat26 & forever dreamer ~Hehe, I'm a Tess hater as well, kitcat.. if you haven't already noticed*big*, and I'm from Macomb. *tongue* It's like, an hour away from Detroit.

On to the story... I'm telling you now, though, it'll take a while to find out about Liz's past. Most of this focus's on Max.

~*~
Max looked scrutinizingly at the guy going through his refrigerator. He had on faded ripped jeans and a Metallica shirt. His hair was fairly long and a dirty blonde color. His eyes were cold and hard, and Max felt slightly intimidated, but he wouldn't show it in his own home.
Mr. Metallica rolled his eyes, and responded
"Prick" Max blinked. He was beginning to get furious, some mysterious guy shows up in his house, scrounging around his refrigerator, and finally calls him a prick. The breaking point was when Mr. "Metallica" opened the freezer and took out a DiGiorno pizza.
"That's it". Max tackled the intruder and pinned him to the floor. "I'm serious. What the fuck are you doing in MY house?" Max leaned his elbow back and made a fist, ready to smash the guy's face in when he was interrupted..
"MAX! What in God's name are you doing?" Max leaped up at the voice
"Mom?"
"So Michael, I see you've already met my son Max." She gave Max a look of disappointment before continuing, "Michael's from the Shelter, and he's going to be living here for a while." She smiled warmly at Michael.
Max's jaw dropped open. Here his mother was, the woman who was never there for him, the woman who never encouraged him to do anything, helping some low-life kid. He clenched his jaw and spoke forcefully
"So why isn't he staying in the Shelter?" Diane gave Michael another smile as she grabbed Max, excused them, and went to the other room.
"Michael... well, he.. doesn't like people very much."
"Ha" Max snorted. "That's not a surprise to me."
"I just thought it'd be good for him to live with us, away from all the kids from the Shelter."
As Max was listening to his mother talk, he realized this was the most she'd spoken to him in what seemed like forever. Maybe she never realized the abandonment he felt from her. He glanced into the kitchen at Michael and felt jealous. Jealous that his mother was willing to help some other kid, and not be there for himself. And so Max decided to do what he always did. Smile and nod.
"Okay mom, I guess that'd be good for him."
"Now go and apologize"
Max gritted his teeth in trying to control his anger and returned to the kitchen muttering a terse "I'm sorry"
Michael smirked cockily as he took out the DiGiorno pizza from the oven.
Max left to the sanctuary of his room. His life was just getting better and better.

~*~

The next day at school, Max walked through the halls and heard the latest rumors of the Parker residence from the cheerleading squad.
"I heard she has some serious mental issues." Said a short curly haired redhead.
"I heard she has that disease where you can't go out in the sun or you'll die or something." Said another, even more moronic blonde chick with a fake perm.
"I heard she was deaf." Came from the head cheerleader, Tess, whom Max attempted to avoid by holding his Bio book to the side of his face.... but sadly, to no avail.
"MAX! Oh my God, Sean did the SWEETEST thing. He bought me a bracelette with our names engraved...."
She continued to talk as Max looked around, obviously annoyed. Why would he care about hearing what Sean had gotten her?
"Umm, yeah. That's really great, but ya know, can't miss Bio" He said and bolted away from the bouncy blonde bitch.
Max hadn't payed much attention to his Bio lecture, instead his thoughts drifted to Liz. He felt sorry for her, all the rumors going around about her. He knew there was something devastating that had to have happened in her past, and he only hoped he could help her. Maybe become her friend... he needed a friend.. possibly even just as much as she did.
The bell rang, and Max headed outside with his camera to eat his lunch and take pictures when he spotted Alex with two of the sweetest girls at his school, Maria and Isabel. Alex was clearly charming them, considering the amount of laughter coming from their area by the big tree giving them shade from the hot weather. Max smiled at the memory of his and Alex's friendship. Alex was always the whitty one.
Max hadn't realized he was staring until Maria waved at him from across the lawn. He awkwardly waved back, and Maria shook her head no and waved again, signaling that she wanted him to join them. He slowly made his way towards his former friend, and started conversation.
"Hey... guys" Isabel rolled her eyes,
"Do Maria and I look like males to you?" A hint of sarcasm in her voice.. Okay, maybe not JUST a hint. She was clearly pissed at him for leaving Alex.
"Hey man. What's up?" Alex asked. Max looked to him and shrugged. It was hard for him to casually talk to Alex. He wanted to apologize for leaving him. He wanted to tell him how alone he felt when he ditched Alex for the "in crowd". He wanted to tell him how much of an asshole he was.. but he didn't know exactly what to say. So he just chose a simple,
"Sorry"
Alex looked at Max a minute before he burst into laughter.
Max blinked, "Glad to know I've made you laugh?" He said questioningly. Alex only laughed more, followed by the giggles from Isabel and Maria, until he finally managed to say
"Oh my god, Max Evans has just said he's sorry."
"That is something I have NEVER heard before." Maria chimed in.
"Seriously though, it's all good man. I mean, if ya hadn't ditched me, I wouldn't have found my two best galls" Alex joked, puttings his arms around each of the girls shoulders. "What can I say, I am THEE ladies man."
Isabel rolled her eyes, but she couldn't hide the smile on her lips. Max thought of Liz again, for the thousandth time that day, and thought of how he'd give anything to see that girl smile.
"So Alex, still playing guitar?" Max already knew the answer, but that still didn't mean he didn't want to hear it from Alex himself. Smiling, Max took a seat on the lawn in the shade and listened to Alex exclaiming all the songs he could play, and how he was writing his own music now.
"I see you've found a permanent liking." Alex smirked. Max looked confused.. how did Alex know about Liz? "You know, that camera. I never see you without it."
Max looked down, "Oh.. yeah.. I found something I have a knack for." Alex smiled.
"I knew you would someday, man"
~*~

Grandma Claudia knocked gently on Liz's door. Slowly, her granddaughter opened the door, giving Claudia permission to enter.
"How you feeling, honey?" Liz sat on her bed, gazing down at a framed picture. Claudia sat next to her and smiled.
"Your mother with her 4 favorite things. You, Kyle, your father, and her guitar." Back when things were simple. Liz turned her head to the side, looking at the picture she held of her family. All of which were gone. In one way or another, they were all gone. One had a chance to return, but would it ever happen? "Elizabeth. It's been 4 years, honey. Please, talk to me. Let me know you're alive.. that you feel things. Liz, let me in." This wasn't the first time Claudia pleaded with her granddaughter. She had tried therapy, but the overly priced psychiatrist said it was normal for a child to close themselves off when a tramatic event occured. That with medication and love and support, she would get through it. Too bad they couldn't continue to afford the appointments.
Just when Claudia was about to stand up, Elizabeth hesitantly leaned forward and hugged her. Slow and awkward at first, but gradually Claudia could feel Liz clinging to her like she was her lifeline. Claudia smiled as tears of joy filled her eyes. Maybe Liz wasn't talking, but at least she was making progress. At least she was aware... of everything.


posted on 22-Apr-2002 8:54:52 PM by Wench On A Leash
I'm Backith... Yeah, I tend to update quite frequently. Although this'll probably be my last update for a while, considering my big brother is coming home from U of M for a short visit on thursday and I have MEAPS and everything this week. *Sigh*

Thank you roswellluver, LilEvEe, Audio Poet, Moonlit Jade, dancepixie, ILYMEFOREVER, Tabasco Liz (Which I must say, that picture is totally cute! *tongue*, RosBaby, JetBlack, FreeFall, KitCat26, Maia, angelbaby6977, and aZNroSweLl anglgrl for the wonderful feedback. *happy*

abbs007 ~ You're very perceptive. *wink*

Rapunzel ~ Hehe. What can I say, Max really loves that DiGiorno pizza. *big*

LixMix5 ~ Thank you so much. That kind of compliment goes a long way. *happy*


And before I start this story.. I just want to say that a tragic thing happened. Layne Staley (lead singer of Alice In Chains died last friday =*(.)...So I felt compelled to mention them, no matter how minutely, in the story. I just love that band. =)

I finally grasped the concept of there being a non paragraph thingy on here.. so I broke it up so it's more condensed for you guys to read.

Okay.. and here we go...

Max sat in his room loading a new roll of film into his camera when all of a sudden the house began to shake due to the loud noise coming from the room beside him. Max knocked on the wall and yelled

"Turn that down" Only to be recieved by the even louder music of Soundgarden blasting through the wall. Max got up and made his way to Michael's room.

"Look, this isn't your house. You may be living here for a while, but that doesn't mean you can do whatever the hell you want to do." Max explained.

Michael looked at him for a minute before turning off the CD player.

Ahh, momentary silence.

"Thank yo...", but that was drowned out by Alice In Chains. Max gave Micael the evil eye while Michael just ignored him and started putting posters of his favorite bands on the wall.

"What the hell is wrong with you? Is it your goal in life to piss everyone off?" Max asked.

"Naw, only you" Michael said casually.

Max got frustrated and bolted out of the house, leaving Michael in there alone. Max looked across the street to Liz's house, and debated on whether to go there or not... he took a step that way, but then decided it wasn't the best place to go when he was pissed off. So he took a walk to the park, with his camera in hand.

Max set his camera to focus on a little child feeding the ducks in the pond. His happiness and innocence was clearly evident on his face. Max snapped a shot as the kid's smile widened, watching the ducks attack the bread crumbs. Now this was calming. Maybe this was why Max loved taking photographs. Maybe it was the reason he was so good at it, being able to read people's thoughts, observe what they're thinking by their expressions. Max turned his head and caught sight of a middle aged man sitting on a park bench, looking sad and defeated. Max snapped a picture of him before leaving.

~*~
Grandma Claudia sat on the couch in her living room watching the tv. On the screen Claudia saw Liz sitting in her father's lap, closing her eyes and listening to her mother's calming melody on the guitar. None of the three were smiling, they all just sat there in silence as they listened to the soothing music. Claudia studied the determined expression on her daughter-in-law's face. She was so strong in hiding her pain. Nobody knew how much her son's death affected her. Nobody knew of the painful guilt that welled up inside of her from the knowledge that her only son died while sitting in the passenger side of their car that rainy day she drove him home from soccer practice. Nobody knew of the everlasting depression that would later mark her own death.

Claudia's thoughts drifted back to the day... the day the family started to break apart.


*****************
Claudia was watching Liz that gloomy day when the rain suddenly began to pour to no end.

"Gramma, gramma. You gonna show me how to make cookies?" Liz asked excitedly, her big doe eyes pleading with her grandmother to show her how.

Claudia smiled as she was about to answer her granddaughter, but the ringing of the phone meshed with the harshness of the raindrops plunking agianst the windowsill, and Claudia answered the phone.

The next thing she knew she was at the hospital holding her daughter-in-law's hand while she cried. The cuts and scrapes clearly evident on the right side of her once flawless face.

"Is he really gone?" Nancy asked through her sobbing.

Claudia took a deep breath

"The impact of the car on the passenger side was too.. too much. He died instantly, before he could feel any pain." Before he could feel any pain. Before he could feel any pain.. the words echoed through her head.

Claudia glanced out the hospital window, seeing Liz curled in her father's arms, clearly not understanding the severity of the situation.

****************

Just then a male voice cleared his throat and Claudia turned to the sound.

"I'm sorry.. I knocked and nobody answered..I was worried that maybe something happened, and the door wasn't locked so I.. let myself in." Max asked as he looked to the tv, noticing a small girl with long brown hair flowing down her shoulders sitting in a man's arms, a man who looked vaguely familiar to Max.

Claudia stopped the VCR, and Max couldn't help but ask

"Was that Liz?" Claudia nodded in response.

"She looks a lot like her mother." He stated.

"Yes, she does." Claudia half-smiled. "What brings you here, Max?"

"Oh, I just wanted to.. see if.." Claudia raised an eyebrow

"You wanted to see Elizabeth?" Max blushed.

"Umm, something like that." He said under his breath. Max gestured towards Liz's room "May I?" Claudia nodded and went into the kitchen.

Max made his way to Liz's room and gently knocked on her door. In a few moments she opened it, and he went inside. Her gaze was set on his face, and he saw something more than a blank stare this time. He saw sadness in her eyes. He felt a pang at his heart at that look on her face, but at least she wasn't in her trance-like state.

"Hi Elizabeth". She made her way to her bed and sat down, he followed, and sat across from her. He studied her for a moment, and she studied him, her gaze finally focusing on the camera he held in his hand. Max smirked

"This is my pride and joy." Liz continued to look at his camera. "Ever taken any pictures before?" Her gaze flew back to his face. At least she seemed to be responding more. She shook her head no, but so minutely that Max wasn't sure she even did it. He just had to trust his instincts on this one. "Want me to show you?" Liz looked at the camera again, and then back to his face before nodding slightly.

Max stood up and extended a hand towards Liz to take.. She got up and looked at it blankly.. he gently grabbed her hand and guided her out of her room. Surprised she didn't pull away from him.

"Claudia?" Max asked.

"Yes?"

"Can I take Liz outside, maybe to the park for a little while." Claudia's surprise was clearly marked on her face as she looked to Liz and Max, their fingers entwined. She walked up to Liz and asked..

"Lizzy? Do you want to go with Max to the park?" Liz nodded shyly, and Claudia got so giddy, she clasped her hands together.. "Okay.. then go" She said happily. Ever since Liz hugged her that day, she seemed to be opening up more, slowly but surely, and Claudia couldn't deny Liz the right to experience life again.

~*~
Max walked hand in hand with Liz to the park, glancing at her every now and then.

"I come here a lot. It's one of my favorite places to take pictures and calm down. It's where I go to get away from everything, all my problems." He explained to her, knowing that she heard him, even if she didn't respond.

Once they reached the park, they sat down on the grass away from all the people. Max had a feeling that Liz wouldn't want to be around too many people. He looked around, his gaze catching a little girl being pushed on the swingset by a young boy. He smiled and winked at Liz before taking a picture of the two cute little children. Liz studied how he worked the camera, focusing it and pushing a button. He handed it to her, wondering what even compelled him to let her use it. He never even let anybody touch his camera other than himself.

"You know.. this camera.. means, practically everything to me. It's my only comfort at times." Max mentioned, feeling this pull to tell her his thoughts. He wasn't very good at opening up to people, but with her it seemed natural. Probably the knowledge that she would just listen and not comment. Sometimes just having someone to listen was enough. Max looked to her face, and she seemed to be focusing on his eyes. He felt embarassed that he'd told her so much in that short moment and shrugged his shoulders, as if to erase what he'd just said away. "Okay, just... just pick anything in here that you find beautiful, Liz, and just take a picture of it." He explained to her, trying to give her the tactic that worked best for him. Finding beauty in things was the key to capturing the essence of a photograph.

Elizabeth continued to look at him, into his eyes, and for a split second he could have sworn he had seen the sadness in her eyes disappear and a sparkle shine through, but then she turned her head away, looking around the park. Max followed her gaze over to an elderly couple strolling through the garden patch hand in hand, and smiled in expectance of her taking a picture of them. Just as he turned his face back to Liz.... there was a flash....

And realization dawned on Max that he was the one in that picture.


posted on 25-Apr-2002 10:30:22 PM by Wench On A Leash
Wow, lots of feedback. Hehe.. it's very inspiring.

Thank you so much all my loyal readers for the support.

Thank you..Kayarra, ILYMEFOREVER, dancepixie, LixMix5, roswellluver,aZNroSweLl anglgrl, shorty828, Alien614, emmie, angelbaby6977, RosBaby, Eraser Room, frenchkiss70 and Rapunzel.

Kitcat26~ I'm not exactly a photographer. When I was younger I loved taking pictures and I recently gained an interest in it again.

abbs007~ Hehe. I just love Michael's personality. Besides Max needs some people to be evil to him in return for his evilness to Alex... anyway, I believe that "Everything comes back threefold." Mwah ha ha, so Max deserves what he gets.

LilEvEe~ Hehe. Guess you'll just have to read to find out. *angel*

Audio Poet~ Yes, pictures do capture so much more. I'm glad you mentioned that.

carenicoleIQ & LttleMrmade~ Yaya! New readers. Hehe, thanks for the feedback.

Moonlit Jade~ *big* Exactly!

*This part didn't exactly turn out how I planned, it seems my fingers have a mind of their own when they reach the keyboard. Hopefully, I'll be able to pull the story together the way I want to, so sorry if this doesn't live up to the recent chapters. I promise, eventually (hehe), you shall find out Liz's past, and the song will be in the story, as well as more of the other characters, pertaining to Sean and Tess. =/* OKay, enough of my rambling...

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Throughout the rest of the day Max couldn't hide the smile that crept onto his face. Liz took a picture of him. He had told her to take a picture of something beautiful... and it was he whom she chose. He, of all people, knew the importance of that simple gesture. Liz seemed to hold a power over him, this captivating spell that entranced him with every little thing she did. Her face was so pure, so innocent, and yet so troubled and sad that he wanted to be the one to reach out and pull her out of the shell she kept herself in. He was determined to do that.

After Max walked Liz back to her house and made sure she was safe at home, he felt this need to share his feelings with someone. But who was there to share them with... His mom? No... Michael? Hell no. Max smiled. He knew someone he could trust.

~*~
Alex looked surprised as he opened the door
"Max? Hey, what are you doing here?" Max shrugged, still smiling,

"I wanted to visit an old friend." Alex smirked, and moved aside to let Max in.

"You seem very... happy." He stated. "I don't even remember the last time you seemed this happy, Max."

"Yeah, well... I found this girl." Alex laughed.

"You found this... girl. That says a lot, buddy." Max laughed and looked at Alex.

"Yeah.. she's... you know.. the ... well... you know Elizabeth Parker? Her and her grandmother have been living here for about two months now." Alex raised an eyebrow..

"The.."

"No, none of those rumors are true, Alex. She's.. she's.. there's something about her. She's been through a lot, but she just.. her eyes, they're so.. and she's just.. so ..."

"Beautiful?" Alex asked.

"That doesn't even seem like enough to describe her." Alex chuckled.

"Looks like Max Evans is in love." Max shot Alex a glare.

"I wouldn't go that far. I just.. I want to help her. I want to be there for her. I want to.. protect her." Alex shook his head

"You've got it bad, Max." Max blushed, embarassed. He had never mentioned girls like this before. Usually girls were coming on to him so much that he didn't have any real emotional feelings towards any of them.. they were just.. there. Like Tess was just there.

"Hey, if it helps at all, I know how ya feel," Alex began. Max immediately looked up to him

"Isabel?" Alex snapped his head up.

"Oh my God, is it that obvious?" Max nodded his head, laughing.

"Yah, it's pretty pathetic, actually.... but, she likes you too. So I guess you're both pathetically obviously head over heals in lo-oove with eachother." Alex smiled.

"You think?"

"I know. Believe me, Alex, I've had enough girls hanging all over me to know how they act when they like you. Isabel's always smiling and happy around you. In fact, I distinctly remember her being Miss Ice Queen until you came around and softened her up." Alex had this goofy, dreamy look on his face.

Max was happy that he and Alex were talking like they used to, although he still felt he needed to formally apologize for the way he treated Alex.

"Hey... I'm really sorry for everything. You were my best friend, and I just... left you for.."

"Don't worry about it, Max" Alex shrugged his apology off. "I know how you feel."

"So, we friends again?" Max asked.

"Of course..." Max turned around to leave, but as he opened the door Alex continued...

"Umm.. you may have to face.. the Wrath of the Ice Queen for a while though. Heh..heh. She was the one who had to hear me bitch about your arrogance for a while."

Max winced.

"Well, I deserve some sort of punishment." He said before leaving.

What a great way to end the day. He was making progess with Liz, and he was gaining Alex's friendship back. There was absolutely nothing that could ruin his day.

He walked into his house and found Michael making out with a blonde chick on his couch..

"God Michael, get a room!" He yelled.

The two broke apart instantly and Max's eyes opened wide like saucers..
"Maria?"

Okay, so maybe that could ruin his day.

~*~

Maria licked her lips and pulled her bunched up skirt down, smoothing it out.

"Ummm... Max.. what are you.. doing here?"

"This is MY house. MY house. Not Michael's.. MINE!" Max yelled, aggravated."Besides, what are YOU doing here?"

"It shouldn't be too hard to figure out there..." Michael began. Max shot Michael a stern look.

"Was I asking you?"

"No, but any idiot would kno..."

"Just shut up already!" Max said, furious.

"Ummm, I'll just be... going now." Maria said, creeping towards the door. She quickly opened it and slammed it shut in a hurry to get out of the house.

Michael sat back on the couch, putting his feet up on the coffee table.

"Thanks man" He said sarcastically.

"Asshole." Max muttered, turning to make his way to his room, when he thought about how it was because of Maria's friendly invitation to sit with them at lunch, that he and Alex were friends again, and stopped, his back still turned to Michael. "Just.. don't be using her." Max said before continuing on his way to his room.

Michael heard the door slam shut before saying under his breath
"I'm not."

~*~

Despite last night's bad visual of Michael and Maria making-out, Max managed to get some sleep. And now here he was, in his school's dark room developing the two last rolls of film he'd taken. After setting up the equipment, and performing a test run on the enlarger time, Max set the clock, and watched the magic of art developing right before his eyes.

His amber eyes gazed with intensity as the image of Liz's blank stare hiding behind her dark brown, silky smooth hair came into view. Max breathed in, as the power of that blank stare captivated his senses and made him want to see her after school and work his way on opening her up.

He continued watching all his other pictures come into focus, smiling at how wonderful the picture of the child feeding the ducks turned out. The little boy's eyes were opened wide, as the duck charged at the breadcrumbs in the water, sending ripples of waves to splash around. The thing he loved most about this picture was the child's look of pure innocence.

Then Max saw himself. He smiled in rememberance of Liz taking his picture. He looked completely natural.. well, other than the contentness in his smile and the adoration shining in his eyes. Max knew that both of which were caused by Liz herself. Max had taken so many pictures of other people that he didn't have many of himself. This picture was priceless. Priceless in the fact that he rarely smiled. Priceless in the fact that he never had adoration in his eyes. Pricless in the fact that it was taken by Elizabeth Parker. The woman who had been making him smile more lately, the woman who he adored, the woman who captured his senses and made him feel.

Max's smile soon deteriorated, and he crinkled his brow curiously as the next photo came into view. His mouth dropped open and he was struck speechless as the man sitting on the park bench's facial features came into view. Max closed his eyes and opened them again to make sure he wasn't imaging everything.. but the man in the picture was the same man holding Liz in his arms in the video he saw Claudia watching. Granted, the man had more wrinkles and lines now, probably due to the stress of whatever happened. But the fact of the matter was that this was Liz's father he saw. Max had never seen the man at the Parker househould and wondered if he was on some restraining order or something.

The knowledge continued to haunt Max during the rest of school, he didn't want Liz to be in any trouble. He didn't want her to hurt, she'd already been hurt so badly in the past.. and he didn't even know what the reason was exactly. Maybe he was making a big deal out of nothing... but then as his thoughts turned optimistic, an image of Liz with her blank stare came into his mind, and he knew the knowledge of Liz Parker's father being in the same area, at the very same park he took her to, was too great to keep from her.

The only problem now was how to tell Liz. How could he tell Liz he had unknowingly seen her father in the park and had taken a picture of him. Wouldn't she be freaked out that he even knew it was her father in the picture? The scary thing was, if he hadn't seen that video, he wouldn't have known. He would have seen that picture and just noted it as an expression of sadness, but now he knew that there was a story behind that picture.

There was a story behind every picture he had taken, and now every time he would look at an emotional picture, he would recognize it was only a picture of a particular moment in a person's life. An image that would be captured forever. Memories of pain, heartache, love, death... everything... was captured in a picture. Only the sight of a person, not the voice, not the whole story. But an image of the story, an image of the truth. Talk never got to the matter of truth, words could be manipulated, but expressions could not be.

Liz Paker didn't talk, but she clearly observed. She understood that truth didn't make a noise. It was all expressions. Expressions that she never showed. Liz Parker didn't want anyone to know the truth. So she sat in her own little world, withdrawing herself from everyone so she wouldn't have to face the truth. But now it was time for Max to let her know the truth the only way he knew how. By showing her the picture and asking no questions.

~*~










posted on 28-Apr-2002 8:50:04 PM by Wench On A Leash
Wow, thank you for your continued support for the story. I'm taking your comments and everything into consideration and hope you'll enjoy the next part.

roswellluver, FreeFall, shorty828, the better twin, Eraser Room, Alien614, emmie, Lttle Mrmade, angelbaby6977, ILYMEFOREVER, BLS40, flohmac, maia, RosBaby, frenchkiss70, Rapunzel, Bubbles, Jason'sLove and AzNroSweLl anglgrl~ Thank you so much for the FB. You guys are great. *big*

dancepixie~ Thank you so much for saying I have a way with words, it makes me all happy. Hehe. *happy*

LixMix5 ~ Thanks for the reassurance. *bounce*

abbs007~ I love Alex too! *tongue*

Cinder~ You shall find out.

Kitcat26~ I thought the Michael & Maria part would be a lovely ending to Max's wonderful day. Besides, it'll build up the storyline as well. And thanks for the BUMP. That was vedy much appreciated. *tongue*

LilEvEe~ Yaya, you were right! Hehe. Good insight*wink*

Killian~ Wow. Thank you so much for that compliment. It really really means a lot to me.

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

His heart was pounding as he drove home from school, and the nervousness and worry creeping through his thoughts was what made him pull into his driveway instead of Liz Parker's. He knew he needed to calm down and think clearly before showing her the picture. He needed to be logical about this. He got out of his car and looked across the street to her house. He tried to remain calm, but to no avail, he knew the longer he'd hold out on letting her know, the more it would worry him.

Slowly, he grabbed his camera and the newly developed film, and made his way across the street to her house. He stood motionless, staring at the door. All he had to do was knock and he'd be inside... and where would he go from there? Just show her the picture, his thoughts told him. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and opened them, knocking before he had the urge to turn around and run back home.

It seemed like forever before Claudia came to the door, opening it and smiling sweetly at him.

"Max. Come in." She said, stepping to the side of the door. She looked up to him, clasped his hands in hers and said "Thank you."

Max understood what she was thanking him for. Liz. Max was overwhelmed with the sincerity of her words, and his face paled at the thought of provoking anything to go downhill with Liz from there. He had opened her up, very slowly, and he didn't want to ruin anything.

Claudia noticed the look on Max's face and dropped her hands from his.

"Max.. sit down."

Max made his way over to the couch and listened to the grandfather clock chiming in sync with the beating of his heart. He was worried. So worried.

"What's wrong?" Claudia gently asked, searching his face.

Max took out the photos from his pocket and handed them to Claudia. She silently grabbed them, looking through the pictures. Max watched the expressions on her face. They ranged from a sweet smile and jovial eyes to a mild frown and a look of sadness... the same look of sadness Max had noticed in Liz's father's eyes.

"Poor Jeff." Claudia sighed, as her thumb smoothed over his face.

Max looked confused. Claudia didn't act surprised, or worried. Just... sad. She looked up to Max's face that was so full of questions.

"Why doesn't he.. does Liz know he's.." Max's head was so full of questions that each one ran into the next, until finally they faded into the back of his head.

Claudia sighed.

"Max. I think it's time you know... what happened."

Max glanced up to Liz's room, her door shut as always, and looked back into Claudia's welcoming eyes.

"She was 8 years old. A regular, innocent child. Very naive. Very unaware of the cruelty life throws at us... when she was forced to grow up quickly. She had a twin brother, Kyle. They were so close. They could never be separated, and they even had their own secret language they used to speak." Claudia smiled at the memory, even though her sentences were choppy and her voice ranged from it's regular tone to a higher pitch. She sounded like she was on the verge of tears, but her determination willed her to continue the story. "It was rainy the day that Nancy went to pick up Kyle, and... there was a green light.. so she proceeded to drive.. when, she was struck on the passenger side by a truck, instantly killing... him. Her son. Liz's brother."

Max's eyes filled with the slightest of tears. He felt compassion towards this gentle old woman as she told him the painful story, and all he could do was listen.

"Then it was just them.. Jeff, Nancy, and Liz. Liz never really got over Kyle's death.. she started withdrawing herself.. from people. It wasn't anything extreme at the time.. Her mother and father tried so hard to comfort her, and it was working. Liz began opening up and Jeff was happy.. so happy. Whenever Nancy played the guitar, it brought Liz peace. We all took so much time worrying about Liz and her well being, that we never noticed Nancy." Claudia closed her eyes and took a long, drawn out breath before continuing. "Nancy's inner turmoil over losing Kyle, and the way she thought she could have stopped it plagued her. She hid it well. Busying herself with trying to help Liz, being the pillar of strength that held the family together. She began taking anti-depressants. I didn't know about it, Jeff didn't know about it. Only she did. Then.. the 5th year.. exact date of Kyle's death.. she.. couldn't take the pain and killed herself by overdosing on those same anti-depressant pills that were supposed to help her, leaving a suicide note behind."

Max closed his eyes, feeling the bitterness of pain take over him. How could Nancy be so selfish as to leave her daughter alone. Didn't she know Liz needed her? It must have been horrible on Liz. And Jeff. Claudia cleared her throat, before finishing,

"After Nancy's death, Liz completely withdrew from the world. She barely ate, barely slept, never talked, and... lived in a shell. Jeff couldn't take all the emotional damage, and he thought it would be best if I take care of Liz. I meet with him occasionally now, to tell him of her well-being. He needs time on his own, to deal with all the emotional trauma he's had. He lost a wife through suicide, and he lost two children.. one through death.. and the other, through complete silence. He worries about her so much, but he can't stand the pain of seeing that blank stare in her eyes."

"I don't see how he could just walk out on her.." Max said his thoughts before he had time to think.

"It didn't even phase her, Max. It was like she didn't notice what was happening."

Max tilted his head down, running his fingers through his hair, as he now empathized with Jeff Parker. No wonder he looked so sad and defeated in that picture. He was lost. When Max looked up, Claudia finally broke out in painful sobs. Max hugged her gently.

"Claudia Parker, you're the strongest person I know."

Claudia pulled back and wiped away the tears in her eyes.

"Thank you, Max."

"So.. Liz doesn't know that.. her father is.." Claudia shook her head no
"It's best that she doesn't. Not yet."

Max nodded in understanding. Now he felt stupid and selfish for ever considering showing Liz that picture of Jeff. It could have hurt her even more, and he would hate himself for being the cause of it.

"Here", he said, handing Claudia the picture of Jeff Parker. "Show her when you're ready. When she's.. ready." Max looked to Liz's door again, and he felt emotionally drained. He couldn't imagine what Liz felt, what she was thinking. Unimaginable pain, hurt, suffering? All the people she loved were gone, with the exception of her grandmother.

It was a horrible thought, to know that a perfectly normal family could be forced into a never ending cycle of problems.

"Max, I'm giving you a chance here. You can walk away now, before she's too attached to you. You know about what happened, and she's been hurt too much in the past. So if you won't be able to deal with it, then leave now. I can't afford to see her hurt again."

"Neither can I." Max said breathlessly, "And as for walking away from her, I could never do that."

He let his feet guide him to Liz's bedroom where he softly rapped on her door. She opened it, and let him inside. Instead of retreating back to her bed, she continued to stand in front of him. Max looked into that blank stare she once again held and he showed her, through the intensity of depth within his amber eyes, that he knew the story, and that he cared for her. He gently took her hands in his, intertwining their fingers together and said softly,

"I know, Liz."

Her solid stance shattered, as her feet crumpled beneath her and she lost her balance. Max pulled her to him, wanting to keep that unbearable pain away, wanting her to know he was there for her. That he would be there for her every step of the way, unlike her mother, unlike her father. But like her grandmother. He looked into her once blank-stare, and saw emotion flickering in her brown eyes. They widened in painful rememberance, and for the first time Max Evans saw tears forming in Elizabeth Parker's eyes. On impulse he pulled her towards him, wrapping her in his strong embrace, letting her head rest on his rapidly beating chest. He kissed her temple, and ran his fingers through her hair, gently stroking it in a comforting manner.

"It's okay, Liz. It's okay to feel, show me what you're feeling." He brokenly whispered into her ear, and he finally witnessed her resolve breaking, when he felt her arms wrap around him, clinging onto him for dear life, followed by the soft cries in her voice. The sound was painful and beautiful all at the same time. The moment was bittersweet. And it would be forever etched into his memory as he heard a click, and saw Claudia, with tears in her own eyes, holding his camera.

~*~
*angel*
posted on 1-May-2002 7:13:11 PM by Wench On A Leash
Wow. Lots of feedback! *big*

aZnroSweLl anglgrl, Eraser Room, LixMix5, limegreenli, roswellluver, shorty828, Audio Poet, Angelbaby6977, ILYMEFOREVER, frenchkiss70, Tabasco Liz, BLS40, rossieaddicted, LttleMrmade, Alien614, martleloise, and Bubbles.... thank you all so much for the fb and the inspiration to continue writing this story. *happy*

Kitcat26~ Awww! Thank you. You're just so full of comments and I LOVE it! *happy* As for the others knowing, you shall have to wait and see. Mwah haha. >=D

LilEvEe~ Hehe. I'm not exactly sure...Lol. Actually... well, you'll have to wait and see as well. *tongue*

abbs007~ Aww! I didn't mean to make you cry. I'm actually surprised I did. Thanks for the FB, and write your next chapter in Undercover!!! I loooove that fic.*bounce*

Adrianna~ If I told you, that'd ruin the story. So you shall have to wait like the rest. Mwah haha... >=D Thank you so much for the FB! *big*

RosBaby~ Thank you for that great comment. *happy*

StrawBehryAppleSauce~ *sad* Don't cry!

mareli~ Michael scene coming up! Just for you! Hehe. I hope you like it.

Rapunzel~ Ack! More crying. >_< Sorry! I'm glad you liked the picture part.

mpls muse~ Wow. Thank you. I'm glad you noticed that. Max and Liz are more alike than they seem to realize. *wink*

the freak of roswell~ Wow. Thank you for that comment and sorry for making you cry! *sad* *Hands her a tissue* *happy*

And...
Last but not least...

emmie~ Hehe, here's the next part for you. *happy*

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

That day had definately proven to be intense for Max. He was overwhelmed with the knowledge of Liz's past and all the emotions it evoked within him. For the first time in his life, he cared for someone else more than himself. All his problems with his mother always ignoring him and his father never being home seemed so trivial when compared to those of Liz's.

He had expected something bad to have happened in her past, but he hadn't expected such a horrendous loss for her. His heart went out to her, and he wondered about her thoughts. He wanted to know her, what she was thinking, and be there for her to open up to. He was now determined to help Liz no matter how much effort it would take from him. She had cried in his arms, and it felt good to know that he was beginning to open her up. He was starting to break that barrier she held over herself, and the thought alone filled him with a happiness. Not a regular, giddy happiness, but more of a sullen, haunting happiness. He wasn't aware of what he was getting into exactly, the first girl he cared for had serious problems, but he didn't care. All he wanted was to be there for her.
~*~

Max and Michael hadn't spoken much. Not that they really ever had in the first place, but they hadn't even so much as argued ever since Max caught Michael making-out with Maria. And now, as the two guys proceeded to get ready for school, Max decided to interrogate Michael.

"You like Maria?" He asked out of nowhere, breaking the silence.

"What's it to you?" Michael shot back.

"God! She's a friend, and I don't want to see her get hurt... and look at you" Max said, pointing to Michael's grungy clothes and long hair, "you're the type of guy who'd just use her, and then drop her."

Michael clenched his jaw and his eyes immediately flashed with anger. If Max had been intimidated by Michael the first time he saw him, then he was ultimately fearing for his life with the look Michael was now giving him.

"Maxwell, you need to get your shit straight before stereotyping me." Michael spoke surprisingly calm, despite the cold gaze he continued to hold on Max.

"Why did my mother have to take you in?" Max asked, more to himself than to Michael.

"Your mother is a great lady."

Max felt anger hearing someone else tell him how great of a mother he had.

"To you maybe, but you're not me. You don't know my situation at all." Michael raised an eyebrow...

"Just like you don't know mine."

Max grew frustrated as he realized Michael was right. He lowered his voice,

"She's never there for me. Never has been."

"Okay, oh selfish-one. And when have you been there for her? She's tried to reach out to you and you push her away. Are you even aware of how much your mother cares about you?"

Max's head shot up,

"What do you mean?" He asked. Michael shrugged.

"At least you have a mother." Max thought of Liz at those words, and immediately felt selfish. He gulped before changing the subject.

"How'd you end up at the Shelter?"

Michael locked eyes with Max as he slowly and silently rolled up the sleave of his Tool shirt to reveal the hideous scar of a cigarette burn engraved on his upper arm. Max looked down,

"Your father?" He asked.

"We'd better get to school." Michael changed the subject, and the tone of his voice told Max that it was a painful memory that was best left not to discuss.

Max nodded in reply as he led the way out the door of their house in complete silence.

~*~
Max found school to be relatively boring. It was the same old monotonous routine day after day. His only versatile moment was at lunch, when he'd sat with Alex, Isabel and Maria. Maria seemed to look everywhere but at him, obviously embarassed that he'd caught her with Michael. He'd noticed that every once in a while she'd be looking beyond him at something. Or someone. Probably Michael, Max guessed as he saw a sly smile grace her lips.

"So Max, what has inspired you to so graciously continue sitting with us poor, lost souls. And not with your..." Isabel turned her head and looked in disgust at Tess and Sean sitting at a lunch table making a show for the whole lunch period to see. "Oh.. God.. PDA. How disgusting. They could at least show some dignity."

"Isn't there some rule against Personal Displays of Affection?" Maria asked.

"Heh.. obviously unnoticed here." Alex stated. He slid his arm around Isabel, "What do ya say we give them our own little show of affection." He joked, winking at her. Isabel laughed,

"Alex, this is why we all love you so much!" She said, pinching his cheeks. "You're just so cute!"

"Hey, this body isn't cute." He said, releasing his arm from around Isabel and flexing it. "It's manly." He smirked. Isabel giggled, and Maria shot up..

"I just remembered.. I have this.. project thing. I need to finish it. Right now." She said hurriedly before giving Max a silent smirk and heading off in the direction to where Michael sat alone with a sketchbook in hand. So Michael's an artist, huh? Max thought. You learn something new every.

"You're awfully quiet today." Alex's voice interjected Max's thoughts. When Max didn't answer right away, Isabel took it upon herself to acknowledge him.

"Hey moron. Alex is talking to you."

He snapped his head back at them, and he saw Alex silently mouthing "The Wrath of Isabel" to him. He burst into laughter.

"What's so amusing?" Isabel asked. Max smirked

"Nothing really, something only a moron would find funny."

~*~
Claudia sat next to Liz on their living room couch, gently brushing her long dark brown strands of hair like she did when Liz was only a child.

"Elizabeth?" Claudia asked. Liz turned her face towards Claudia. "What do you think of Max?"

Liz's face turned a gentle pink, and she looked down. Claudia smiled at her grand-daughter's response. It was nice seeing Liz actually showing facial expressions and emotions. It was something that Claudia had wanted for so long. It was something that she took pride in. It was a moment that she relished and she didn't think she'd be able to tell Max just how much he had done for her grand-daughter as well as for herself.

Just then a knocking sounded on the door, and Claudia went to answer it, knowing who it would be. Max came in and found Liz on the couch. He smiled at her and reached his hand out for her to take.

"Liz, I have a surprise for you." Liz's eyebrow wrinkled in curiosity as she slowly laid her hand in his. Max guided Liz over to where Claudia was, and she couldn't deny the pleading look in his eyes.

"Go ahead." Claudia smiled, and she watched the two leave.
~*~

"I hope you like it. I just, I remembered when you first heard it, you seemed drawn to it, and then I learned about how your.. well, I just. I wanted to..." Max looked away, nervous. He wasn't exactly sure how Liz would take the surprise. He was hoping she'd like it. He'd give anything if she'd like it. As if Liz sensed his nervousness, she stopped walking, removed her hand from his and gently placed it on his shoulder. The simple gesture brought Max comfort, and he wanted nothing more than to take her in his arms and embrace her the way he had done the night before.. but he didn't want to scare her. That was a completely different time and place, and now... he didn't know how she would react to it. "The.. the surprise is at the park." Liz nodded and removed her hand from his shoulder, only to bring it back down and twine her fingers with his. Max looked Liz in her beautiful, brown eyes and smiled in content. She was definitely making progress. She was beginning to feel. Now, all he wanted was to see her smile and hear her voice.. for real this time.

As they walked closer and closer to the park, the faint sound of a guitar could be heard, and Max took a deep breath before glancing towards Liz. Her pace seemed to quicken, and she was now leading him towards the park. Max smiled, and followed before gesturing to a nice, shady area below an oak tree for them to sit at. The sound of the guitar was echoed with the chirping of the birds, and Liz closed her eyes, unconsciously leaning her head back and letting it rest on Max's broad chest. Max felt his heart pound through his chest, and sighed in both relief and contentness. Claudia was right, Liz seemed to find peace when she heard a guitar. He couldn't resist the urge to run his fingers through her silky brown hair, and gently watched as the strands slipped through his fingers. When the guitar ceased it's sound, Liz opened her eyes. She was suddenly aware that she had rested her head on Max's chest, and was about to pull away in embarassment, but she was reassured of her position when she felt his fingers playing with her hair.

Max looked down at her and his intense amber eyes bored into the brown depths of hers. She sat up and schooched closer to him. Max kissed her cheek, unable to control himself of that sudden impulse. She was just so innocent and vulnerable. Sitting there flushed with embarassment. Max reached out and wrapped his arms around her, gently pulling her towards him. He kissed her hair and whispered in her ear

"This is the first time I'm feeling too, Liz."

She slightly turned her head, and gave him the smallest glimpse of a smile. She ran her hand down his arm before grabbing his hand, bringing it towars her mouth, and shyly brushing her lips in the softest caress on his palm. Max felt her smile go through his body, sending a tremor of happines into his heart and when she gently kissed him, he involuntarily shivered at the sensation. This was a moment that he wished he'd had on camera. But as he watched Liz look into his eyes with that vulnerable, questioning look of wonder, he realized that this was enough. Her smile was enough for him. Her smile was beyond enough for him.

Alex watched Max and Liz, amazed at their interaction. Max was being really gentle with her and she looked like she felt safe with him. They way they looked at eachother with such intensity was beyond anything Alex had witnessed between two other people before. Alex once again continued to strum his guitar, playing the melody of "Glycerine" by Bush.

'Yep', Alex thought to himself as he glanced towards Max and Liz, watching Liz lay her head on Max's shoulder and close her eyes. Max looked towards her in gentle adoration. 'Max is in love.'

~*~



posted on 4-May-2002 2:56:27 PM by Wench On A Leash
alienchica, Bubbles, abbs007, kayarra, shorty828, LilEvEe, Rapunzel, the better twin, LttleMrmade, roswellluver, Audio Poet, aZNroSweLl anglgrl, Alien614, ILYMEFOREVER, flohmac, frenchkiss70, and Rosbaby ~ Thanks so much for the positive FB. I love you guys! *happy*

Kitcat26~ Lol.. ummm, how about we use "total cuteness!" in place of awww. =/ Hehe, I thought you might like that "Wrath of Izzy" part. *happy* I love Michael. He's a fun character to create. Lol.

dancepixie~ Yeah, Michael is good at opening people's eyes. I thought it fit his blunt thinking kinda personality well. *happy*

Pixie~ Aww. *Hands her a tissue*. Thanks for the FB

Anniepoo98~ Oooh. New reader!!! Yaya! Thanks for the FB. *happy*

Eccentric One~ Yeah. She will have to re-learn to speak if she starts talking again.

Cinder~ I'm glad you brought that up. Max's mother does love him, and you're right. He doesn't know as much as he thinks he does. But that's all I shall say*big*

emmie~ Michael's psyche is fun. He's kind of turning into my favorite character. To write, that is.... just because of his psyche. If that makes sense. Lol. Thanks for the FB.

Adrianna~ Thank you. And you're right, it will take a monumental even for her to say something, if she does.

ps_dreamer~ Yaya! Another new reader. Hehe. Mwah ha ha. You just gave me a great idea. *happy* And no, Isabel isn't Max's sister. I decided to make Max an only child.

Killian~ Yaya! You noticed that. When I was writing this, I was attempting to get that emotional, gentle, sweet, caring Max from S1. *happy* And I've been trying to show Liz to be expressive. Thank you so much for the wonderful FB.


~*~*~*~ will be used to signify the song "Truth Doesn't Make A Noise" by The White Stripes.. (An excellent band... and what do ya know,they're from Detroit . Lol.)

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

Max tucked Liz's hair behind her right ear before asking

"Liz?" She looked up at him. "Do you.. want to meet the talented guitarist? He's.. my best.. well, he's a really good friend of mine." Liz looked down, her gaze seemingly on the raw dirt of the earth. She dropped her hand to the ground and started plucking at the strands of grass. "Elizabeth?" Max asked once again.

She looked up at him, a look of apology. Max hugged her,

"It's okay, Liz. We'll wait until you're ready." He said, reassuring her. She smiled shyly in response, and Max thought this was something he could grow accustomed to. Her lovely smile.. despite the shyness in it, held so much purity and Max wondered how he went so long without seeing her smile. Now that he had witnessed it, he'd never want to go a day without seeing that smile on her face.

Alex watched the two, noticing them look into eachother's eyes so lovingly. He decided to play a new song he was working on. It had a stronger sound, more powerful to the ear.

The rustling of leaves could be faintly heard behind the sound of the guitar reverberating throughout the park. Max turned his gaze away from Liz, wondering if it was possible it could be Jeff Parker. He hadn't thought of what would happen if Liz found her father at the park. The sudden thought worried him, and he looked down, taking a breath as his face paled.

Liz lifted her hand under his chin and slowly guided his face up to look at her. Once he was eye level with her, she gently cupped his cheek and crinkled her forehead in question, as if to ask what was wrong without speaking the words. 'How can a woman hold so much emotion with one look', Max thought. What was it about Liz that seemed to open him up so much? It was like she was controlling his emotions with each gaze or gesture she did. She had so much control over him right now, that he wondered what would come over him if he heard her voice.

As Max and Liz sat in their own little dream world, the rustling grew louder and finally a high pitched shriek was heard

"Max!" He turned his head, wincing at the voice he knew so well. He looked to Liz, seeing this sort of transformation in her before his eyes. She was retreating back into her shell again. Her face that held such purity, and eyes that held him captive, suddenly turned cold and unresponsive. That blank stare he first witnessed in her eyes was back, and Max felt this unbearable pain course through his body.

~*~*~*~
My baby's got a heart of stone
Can't you people just leave her alone
She never did nothing to hurt you
So just leave her alone
~*~*~*~

He glared at Tess. Just then Sean came up, wrapping his arms around Tess possessively.

"Hey Matt." Max hadn't felt like correcting Sean. All he was worried about now was Liz. He stood up, hoping she would follow his lead so that they could leave. He knew that if Tess and Sean witnessed the way Liz was.. it'd be all over school. And he didn't want that. It was Liz's own private life, and it was cruel that gossip could be spread so quickly and harshly. Granted she didn't go to their school, but he still didn't want to hear snickering comments about her throughout the halls of school.

~*~*~*~
The motion of her tiny hands
And the quiver of her bones below
All the signs of a girl alone
Tell ya everything you need to know
~*~*~*~

When Liz didn't follow his lead, he glanced around nervously, and bent down before her, attempting to take her hands in his, but was surprised when she pulled away.

"Liz?" He looked at her in confusion. He felt a harsh tremor of pain tear through his body, even worse than the pain he felt from once again seeing her blank stare. He had to gulp away the lump that was forming in his throat.

"Oh my God!" Tess shouted. "It's Elizabeth Parker."

Sean waved a hand in front of Liz's face, and when she continued to stare blankly in front of her, he laughed. A harsh, mocking laugh.

~*~*~*~
I can't explain it
I feel it often, every time I see her face
But the way you treat her
It fills me with rage
And I wanna tear apart the place
~*~*~*~

"She's like a statue. I bet it's all just a front." He said. "Hey Liz," He bent down in front of her, looking at her face. When she held the same blank stare, he commented. "Wow, you're good at ignoring people. How about you stop the show and get up now." Liz wasn't phased at all. She was enclosed in her shell, back in her own little world.. the world where nobody could know what was going on in her mind.

Max harshly pushed Sean out of the way.


~*~*~*~
You try to tell her what to do
And all she does is stare at you
Her stare is louder than your voice
Because truth doesn't make a noise
No, truth doesn't make a noise
No, truth doesn't make a noise
~*~*~*~

"Leave her alone!" He demanded. Sean laughed in response. Max tried to wrap Liz in his arms, to shield her body away from the scrutiny of these people he once called his friends. Only Liz didn't let him. Her only movement had been backing even further away from him. Max looked back to Sean and pleaded with him. "Please. Just go."

Tess whispered something into Sean's ear, and he smirked.

"You were once like me, Max. You had it all, but who would have known that when Tess dumped you, you'd have lowered your standards.." He glanced at the zombie-like girl sitting at the base of the oak tree. "That much."


~*~*~*~
I can't explain it
I feel it often, every time I see her face
But the way you treat her
It fills me with rage and I wanna tear apart the place
~*~*~*~

Max felt rage well up inside of him, and in a blind haze he found himself hauling Sean to the ground. Red fire was burning in his body, telling him to obliterate this evil, shallow, self-centered son of a bitch. He threw punches, one after another. He hadn't noticed the blood spilling from his opponent's lip, or spewing from his nose. All Max saw was a blur of red, and the more pain he felt, the more rage he felt welling up inside of him at the way Sean treated Liz, the faster, and harsher his punches became. He was like an animal, like it was a primal need to destroy this... thing in front of him.

"Max!" Voices yelled for him to stop. He heard the high-pitched shriek of Tess, and finally felt himself being pulled away..

"No!" He shouted, as the waves of rage still overpowered him.

"Max. Please. I hate him as much as you do, but you gotta stop."

"Alex?" Max questioned, as the red haze slowly dissipated. Max looked at Sean and almost puked. Sean's once perfect face had been dramatically altered. His nose was broken, and blood dripped down from every gash Max had caused. Bruises adorned his cheeks and flecked underneath his sunken eyes. Max turned his head away, breathing heavily.

Then he saw her. Liz was now huddled up into a ball. Her feet pulled against her chest. Her eyes were no longer blank, but looking at Max in.. was that fear he saw?

"Liz.." He spoke breathlessly. "I.." And as it began to rain, slowly drizzling at first, he dropped to his knees in front of her. "Liz, I didn't mean to.. I.. he was disrespecting you. I couldn't.." The rain began to grow heavier now, as the drops pelted against the ground, and the once blue sky transformed into an ugly, dark blue, filled with grey clouds.

"Max?" Alex asked, as he saw even more fear growing in Liz's face. It was then that Max realized she wasn't afraid of him, but she was afraid of the rain.. and as his thoughts once again became coherent, he realized why. Her brother.. he died when it was raining.

Liz was still curled in the ball, shivering now. Max carefully curled his arms around her, bringing his forehead in contact with hers and whispered in her ear "Want me to me take you home now?" He felt her slight nod against his forehead, before he scooped her up in his arms and carried her petite frame away. She tightened her arms around his neck in fear, and hid her head in the crook of his neck as if he was her shield away from the pain. Max quickened his pace and finally reached her house. He returned her home to Claudia. Once he released her from his arms, she ran into her bedroom, slamming the door shut behind her. Max cursed to himself under his breath. What was he going to do now?
~*~









[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-May-2002 4:09:31 PM ]
posted on 7-May-2002 3:57:09 PM by Wench On A Leash
Wow. Lots and lots of FB. Hehe, yaya!

Rapunzel, aZNroSweLl anglgrl, shorty828, Eraser Room, flohmac, marteloise, FreeFall, ILYMEFOREVER, frenchkiss70, roswellluver, RosBaby, LttleMrmade, Bubbles, the better twin ( thanks for the bump! *happy*), Pixie, mandyhandford, emmie (thanks for the bump too!), abbs007, ps_dreamer, ISLANDGIRL5, Anniepoo98, Cinder, mpls muse, not_of_this_earth, Sarah_Copley, and angelbaby6977 ~ Wow, that's a lot. Hehe. *big* Thank you all for the wonderful FB. You guys are great!

Kitcat26~ Lol. Glad you enjoyed that *happy* Sean deserved an ass beating. I grr at the bastard. Hehe. Yeah, that was TOTAL CUTENESS. And don't worry, Liz shall speak. Mwah haha.
Woohoo! Go White Stripes. I get to see them in concert at Royal Oak on May 23. *tongue* Happy me!

LilEvEe~ Tess and Sean are the epitome of all that is evil in the world. They're.. "DA DEVIL", or in this case "The Devil and the Devil's Advocate". Rar!

SugarManiac2011~ Hehe. New reader, yaya! Thanks for the FB.

JDreamer~ Aww. Thanks, that means so much to me. I hope the next part doesn't let you down. *happy*

2crzy4roswell~ Hehe. Up til 4 AM reading my fic. *happy* That is such a great compliment. Lol. I can tell that you're getting impatient, so here ya go...

Audio Poet~ Yaya! Another Crow lover. *big* I loved Brandon Lee, and the movie was so excellent. The Soundtrack is pretty sweet too. Thanks.

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

The next day Max forced himself to go to school. If he hadn't gone, he'd just be letting Sean and Tess win and he wouldn't stand for that. He tried not to think about Liz Parker, every time he did, it'd hurt. It hurt him so much the way she went back into her shell. Maybe it was inevitable that it would happen, but he couldn't help blaming himself for being part of the reason. He sighed as he walked over to Alex and Isabel.

"Hey" Alex greeted him. "How is Liz?"

Max scratched his forhead,
"I really don't know."

Isabel wasn't even aware that Max had been seeing Elizabeth Parker, all this was news to her. She didn't really think Maxwell Evans would be capable of seeing someone like Liz. He was just too damn arrogant and selfish. All the while Alex and Max talked, she kept glaring at Max.

"I just hope things don't get too out of hand." Max said.

Just then, Maria walked over to them, seemingly pissed off.

"I hate men." She hmphed. "I can't believe he won't come over here with me to meet my friends. It's like he doesn't want our relationship to be known."

Max looked over to Michael, who was at his locker, throwing glances at Maria, looking just as pissed as she was.

"Who?" Alex and Isabel asked in unison.

Maria shot a glare Michael's way, and when all their eyes turned on him, he slammed his locker shut and walked away.

"Since when have you been seeing that guy?" Isabel asked.

"Ugh. It's kind of a long story. Detention.. he was drawing something and wouldn't tell me what it was. You know me and my curiousity.. I asked him very nicely if I could see the stupid drawing, and he wouldn't let me."

"Well, maybe it was personal to him." Alex interjected. Maria shot him a glare..

"Anyway, after I yelled at him.. he had this look in his eyes." Maria started to smirk.. "And then.. it just happened."

"Okay. So you kiss once and that means you two are together?" Isabel asked.

"That wasn't the only time we..Ugh.. I need my Cedar Oil" Maria said, reaching into her purse.

The bell rang, signifying class, and Max reluctantly made his way to his English room where he noticed people staring at him. He listened quietly to the whispers throughout the room.

"Yeah, Sean was so drunk he couldn't fight back. I can't believe Max would just attack him like that, all because he was jealous."

Well, at least there are no rumors about Liz, Max thought.

"That Liz Parker girl is seriously fucked up. She's like, a mute or something."

Max felt anger boil within him, and he turned around to the two people talking. They must have thought he was stupid to have not have heard them.

"Elizabeth Parker is a woman. She has more emotion and depth within her than the two of you put together. Don't ever speak that way about her again." He spoke with authority.

The two glanced at eachother, and then shut up.
~*~
Max was relieved when lunch finally came. He sat in his usual spot with Alex and Isabel.

"Where's Maria?" He asked.

"Uh, I think she and Michael made up." Isabel answered.

"Figures." Max said.

"Hey Max.. have you heard?" Alex asked.

"Yeah, I've heard all the rumors. I was expecting this to happen."

"Looks like your popularity just crashed down to zero, Max". Isabel stated.

"I don't care, Isabel." He said, not wanting to put up with her at the moment. He had too many things on his mind. He had to find out how to get to Liz again. Isabel noted the defeated look in him and decided to hold off on being a bitch... temporarily.

Sean and Tess came strutting outside and a flock of people made their way over to the two. Who would have known that Sean being beaten to a bloody pulp would increase his popularity. He now held the "Innocent Victim" title. While Tess just held the.. "Innocent Victim's Girlfriend" title. Fights weren't a normal occurance in school, so when one happened, it was the talk for about a week.

"Don't worry Max. It'll die down eventually." Alex said, reassuringly.

"I just don't like Liz being involved in this. I hate them for saying what they said to her. I hate them for provoking me to start something that would lead to rumors.. but to tell you the truth. If fighting with Sean was able to create a diversion from rumors of Liz, then I wouldn't take it back for anything in the world."

"What if Liz is afraid of you now, Max?" Isabel asked.

"She's not." Max said. "I know she's not. But she's retreated herself back into her shell and I'm afraid it'll take a long time for her to come back out."

"Maybe she should get professional help." Isabel suggested.

"They tried it before. They didn't have enough money, and frankly.. I don't think it would work. I can't see Liz opening up to someone she doesn't even know."

Isabel looked at Max.

"You're not such an asshole after all." She smiled.
~*~
Max was at home in his room, contemplating what to say to Liz. He was really beginning to get somewhere with her. Damn Sean and Tess for ruining his happiness. For once in his life he deserved to be happy. Why couldn't he have that? If Liz was happy, he was happy, and now Liz was just a shell of the woman she once was. Just then a knock sounded on Max's door.

"Come in."

Diane peaked her head through the door

"Hi Max." She smiled before walking in and sitting down on his bed. "Maxwell, is there anything you want to talk about?" Max looked surprised that his mom was actually asking him something about his life. It had been too long since she'd done so, and he didn't want to tell her about Liz, Sean, Tess, Alex and Maria. So he shrugged.

"No, not really."

His mother looked at him in exasperation, and then ran her hand through her hair.

"Max. You're never letting me in. You're always pushing me away."

"What?" Max asked, his jaw dropping. He was pushing her away?

"Whenever I try.. I try to talk to you, you never tell me anything."

"You never ask me anything, mom. This is the first time you've actually shown a semblance of concern for me."

"Maxwell. I try to talk to you, but you have this look on your face. This 'don't bother me' look. You know how much it hurts me that it's easier for me to talk to the kids at the Shelter than it is to talk to you?"

Those words cut deep into Max's heart, and he winced. He was aware that he wasn't open to people. Only recently had he been opening up to Alex and Liz. In fact, it was Liz that was beginning to open him up. It was she that was making him actually feel again. How could someone who didn't talk open him up? He realized that in him trying so hard to get her out of her shell, it seemed like she was bringing him out of his own in this weird way. A way he hadn't recognized until now. Maybe he was more like Liz than he realized.

"Her name is Elizabeth Parker.." Max started.. and then his mother sat down and he told her about Liz, Sean, Tess, Alex, Maria, Isabel.. and even Michael.

"Speaking of Michael," His mom began. "You may want to thank him."

"For what?"

"He encouraged me to try to talk to you again. Only to be more forceful this time." She laughed. "See, he's not so bad after all."

"I know he's not."
~*~
Grandma Claudia looked down at Liz sleeping in her bed. Not peacefully, but sleeping nonetheless. Liz never slept peacefully anymore. Claudia was so worried when it had started raining the day before, and was relieved when Max returned her home. But when Liz ran off to her room, Claudia knew something was wrong with the look of pain Max had on his face, and how he left without saying anything. She sighed, worriedly running her hand through her gray hair, and leaned down to kiss Liz on the cheek before leaving her room.

~*~
After Max told his mother about everything in his life, his mom gave him a hug.

"We're finally talking Max."

"Yeah." He said. "I'm worried about Liz."

"I know, Max. Maybe you should just go and try to talk to her."

"I'm scared"

"Of what?"

"I'm scared of her not getting any better."

"Maxwell, don't think like that. The most important thing for you to do is to be there for her. By going over there, it'll show that you still care for her. Just because something happened, doesn't mean you should hide yourself. Now go and talk to her."

Max got up,

"Thanks, mom" He kissed her on the cheek before leaving.

Once Max left the house, his mother worked up the nerve to call his father.
~*~
After Claudia let Max in, he made his way to Liz's room and softly rapped on the door. She didn't answer. Max felt a tremor of hurt shoot through his heart, but then Claudia approached him and opened the door.

"She's sleeping. Just try not to wake her." She whispered.

Max nodded before quietly entering Liz's room. He saw her sleeping form on her bed. Her legs were scrunched up and she lay in the fetal position. Her brow was furrowed as if she wasn't quite at peace. He wondered if the previous days events had anything to do with that. He slowly walked to her bed and couldn't help but tuck that stray bit of hair behind her ear. She was so beautiful. With her eyes gently closed, and her arms resting on the pillow beside her. He leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on her temple, before silently whispering

"I love you, Liz."

Careful not to wake her, he made his way to the door and softly closed it behind him.

Only when she heard the door close did Elizabeth open her eyes. She blinked back tears, and whispered a muffled, ever so faint sounding,

"I love you too" to the closed door.
~*~



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 6-Oct-2002 12:15:35 AM ]
posted on 11-May-2002 6:12:01 PM by Wench On A Leash
Woooooowwww! Lots n lots of FB. I love you guys. *big* Sorry about the delay, I just finished reading this awesom book "The Perks of Being A Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky, and I highly recommend it. Lol, wow, it's so good I'm actually advertising it. =/ I'm odd.. anyway..

Adrianna, dancepixie, the better twin, mandyhanford, shorty828, ISLANDGIRL5, Lttle Mrmade, mpls muse, Rapunzel, SugarManiac2011, marteloise, Frenchkiss07, RosBaby, Bubbles, aZNroSweLl anglgrl, roswellluver, Audio Poet, abbs007, angelbaby6977, Moonlit Jade, ps_dreamer, FreeFall, Juliette, and 2crzy4roswell~ Whew, that's a lot. Lol. Thank you all so much for the FB. I'm glad to know you're enjoying this. *happy*

Kitcat26~ Lol. Like Michigan weather.. lol, great simili.*big* Sean and Tess are evil monkies. I grr at them as well. Hehe, thanks for the FB, and telling me when the Roswell ep will be on for all of us "lucky" Michiganians.

LixMix5~ Lol. I didn't watch any of the other Crow movies either. I refuse to ever watch them. No one can ever match up to Brandon Lee's epic performance.

emmie~ Aw, thanks for leaving FB despite your systems being a PITA (Pain In The Ass). *happy*

Midnight Magi~ *Blinks* Woah, I am all exstatic right now *bounce*... Bex is actually reading my story and liking it. Yaya!!!!! Yaya!! Yaya!!!. Thanks for the FB.

Tea B7~ You're good. That's all I'm gonna say.

tamira~ Aww. Thank you. Emotive.. that's an incredible compliment.

tyranese~ *happy* Thanks for the wonderful FB. Yeah, I purposely had the majority of it based around Max's thoughts, because well, it's more effective. Hehe. And yes, that was the first time Liz spoke since she stopped talking.

A Special thanks to LttleMrmade, Kimberline, emmie, dancepixie, lisabehr and Kitcat26 for those bumps. *big*

Inmitable~ Yes, pretty please will work. Lol

Hope the next part doesn't disappoint. (I was going to break it up into two parts.. but since you guys are so wonderful, I decided to post it all at once. Maybe I'll be evil next time. >=D.)

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

Max walked home in silent strides. He wished that Liz was up so he could talk to her. And for a second he had the urge to turn around and go back there, but then his thoughts changed. Maybe she was purposely avoiding him. Maybe she was mad at him, or closing herself off from him again. He closed his eyes shut, as if to hide from the pain he felt. He ceased his steps and turned around to face her house. He loved her. He knew that much, and he'd told her. She hadn't heard him, but he told her, and that was all that mattered. He loved her, so if she wanted to have time to herself, he would give her that. He didn't know what else he could give her.
~*~

The following week, Max tried to put his emotions in check. He occupied himself with his camera, taking pictures of Alex with his guitar, the love of his prized possession clearly evident on his face. He took pictures of Isabel perking her lips into a smile while watching Alex play guitar, and pictures of Michael and Maria in a heated debate. Of course, his friends didn't know he'd taken these pictures of them. If they had known, the pictures wouldn't have been the same. He wouldn't have captured those precious moments the way they were actually portrayed. They would have been fake, and Max didn't want fakeness in his photographs. He wanted raw emotion. The raw emotion that he had found within Elizabeth Parker.

The week after that he attempted to drown the feelings coursing through his veins out by listening to music. His collection of A Perfect Circle, The Cure, Silverchair, Pearl Jam, and The Counting Crows didn't help him. They only increased his thoughts about Elizabeth Parker.

His struggle to conceal his feelings about Liz ceased after an attempted 3 weeks of letting her have time to herself. He couldn't sit around and continue wondering whether she was doing good or not. What if his not being there made her worse? What if Claudia was mad at him for leaving and not checking on Liz? He hadn't seen her in three weeks. The longest three weeks of his life.

Max was torn inside. He was confused and didn't know what to do, luckily Alex decided to drop by his house that night.

"What are you so worried about Max?"

"I just.. don't know what to say to her. I have all these thoughts in my head, but I can't bring myself to get up the nerve to talk to her. I'm afraid she'll hate me for beating up Sean or something. And I don't want her to hate me." Max said softly.

"But I thought you told Is that you just knew she didn't hate you?"

"I thought I did. But I'm not so sure anymore. She was sleeping, Alex. Only she didn't look peaceful, and I can't help thinking that the reason she didn't look peaceful was because of me. I mess everything up. I ruined our friendship all those years back, I ruined things with my mom for all those years that are now wasted, and now I'm... ruining things with Liz." Max confided.

Alex patted Max on the back.

"You know. I think you're analyzing this way too much. You should go and try to talk to her again. You're running away from things, and you should be facing up to them."

"I will do that. But I want to do something special for her first."

"Like what?" Alex asked.

"I don't know."

Alex looked at Max in wonder, and when Max saw the look of question on Alex's face he rubbed his eyes and asked,

"What?"

"You're just different, Max. Before you were never like this. You just.. never seemed to care so much about people. You always seemed so bitter towards everyone."

"Yeah, until you became my friend and introduced me to music."

"You were still bitter, only bitter with good taste in music,"Alex nodded, "Ah music, the escape to infinite feelings."

"Yeah" Max smiled in rememberance.

"Remember the first time you heard Smashing Pumpkins?" Alex asked.

"Definitely. Music was like my sanctuary when I felt bad. Music and now my camera."

Alex smiled,

"Well, what can I say. Music does help to change your mood."

"Yeah.. it does." A smile creeped onto Max's lips. "I think I have an idea, Alex."
~*~

Elizabeth sat on the couch with her feet pulled underneath her, and her head resting on her arm that was casually draped over the headrest, gazing out the window.

Claudia watched her sitting there in silence. Liz didn't exactly withdraw the way she had done before. She wasn't completely in that shell of hers. She still responded with a nod or a headshake, and at least Claudia had that. Liz seemed more gloomy though, staring out the window with a look of loss in her eyes. Grandma Claudia sat down by Liz and asked very quietly,

"You miss him, don't you?"

Her slight nod and look of false hope as she lowered her eyes down to the carpet said it all. Max Evans had done what Claudia hadn't wanted him to do. He hurt Liz. Unless he had a specifically good reason for disappearing without a word, she wouldn't allow him to see her again. Liz was treading on the thin ropes of a downward spiral within herself, and if Max sparked more hurt to her granddaughter, Claudia feared that she would lose the strength to help Liz.
~*~

"Okay, let me get this straight?" Michael asked. "You're going to go and serenade Liz, and I'm supposed to wait in the bushes with your camera to take a picture of it all?"

"Yeah." Max said. "I want her reaction on film. I want that moment to be captured." He gave Michael a pleading look, "Please?"

Michael gestured over to Alex,

"Why can't he take the picture?"

"Because he's going to be playing the guitar." Michael raised an eyebrow,

"Why can't I play the guitar and HE take the picture?"

"Because well, Michael.. you have an electric guitar in which you play heavy metal music.. and an acoustic would be more fitting for the song Max has planned for Liz." Alex explained.

Michael rolled his eyes,

"So I'm supposed to be subjected to listening to corny love music while you try and swoon Liz back into your arms?"

Max shrugged

"The song I have in mind isn't exactly corny. It's.. fitting."

Michael gave him a long look before answering.

"I'll do it."

"Really?" Max asked, clearly shocked.

"Only if you leave the house tomorrow. Diane's going to be at the Shelter, and I'm going to have Maria over. I'm cooki... um.. I just want the house to ourselves. So, find something to do."

Alex blinked.

"Did Michael just say he was going to cook for Maria?"

Michael gave Alex a stern look.

"No. I didn't." He said slowly, pronouncing each word slowly and forcefully.

Max and Alex couldn't help bursting out in laughter. The thought of Michael cooking was just.. not something they could picture.

"Hey," Michael began, "Hurry up and go do your Liz thing, Maxwell. I don't have all night."

Alex was the first out the door, and Max stopped Michael quickly before leaving

"I just wanted to say thanks.. you know, for my mom and everything."

Michael played dumb, pretending he had nothing to do with that.

"Let's go."
~*~

Alex seated himself in Liz's backyard, in front of his favorite Oak tree. He already made sure that his guitar was tuned before getting there. He gave Max the thumbs-up signal to show that he was ready.

"Maxwell." Michael whispered. Max hadn't heard him. "Maxwell!" He whispered a little louder.
Max snapped his head towards an annoyed Michael fumbling with the buttons on Max's camera. "How the hell do I work this thing?"

Max walked over to him, indicating how to zoom and take the picture.

"You do know how to focus the camera, right?"

"Yeah, yah. I'm not that stupid, Maxwell."

"Just making sure." Max walked below Liz's window, and took one last glance at Alex sitting against the Oak tree and Michael behind the bushes. She wouldn't be able to see them from inside the window, which was a good thing. He didn't think she'd want to see anybody she wasn't familiar with after that ordeal with Sean and Tess.

Max cleared his throat and Alex started strumming the first chords to the song. The song that Max had picked. It represented him and Liz perfectly. His feelings of abandonment had mirrored her own; even if they were not in the same way, they were in the same sense... and the lyrics flew forth from his lips, his strong, masculine voice deepening with emotion as he began..

"And even though the moment passed me by,
I still can't turn away
'Cause all the dreams you never thought
You'd lose
Got tossed along the way
And letters that you never meant to send
Get lost and thrown away"

He looked up as he sang, and saw the white drapes in Liz's room ruffle, and he started the second verse..

"And now we're grown up oprhans
That never knew their names
We don't belong to no one
That's a shame"

He saw the drapes being pulled apart, opening up the view inside as the darkness from the cool night engulfed the brightness of the candelight that shone through the window...

"You could hide beside me
Maybe for a while
And I won't tell no one your name
And I won't tell em' your name.."

And then he saw her face, illuminated by the light of the candles, hesitantly peaking out the window...

"And scars are souvenirs you never lose
The past is never far
Did you lose yourself somewhere out there?
Did you get to be a star?
And don't it make you sad to know that life
Is more than who we are?"

The stars seemed to brighten, as the night grew darker, and the hint of a crescent moon emerged.

"We grew up way too fast
And now there's nothing to believe
Reruns all become our history
A tired song keeps playing on a tired radio
And I won't tell no one your name
And I won't tell em' your name
I won't tell em' your name"

Max's eyes started filling with the slightest hint of liquid, and he had to close them to control his emotions, but his voice grew shakier as he ended the song..

"Think about you all the time
And I don't need the same
It's lonely where you are,
Come back down
And I won't tell em your name.."

Max took a deep breath when he finished. He wanted Liz to feel safe with him, to know that she could trust him. And as he let out his breath and opened his eyes to gaze up at the light in his life... she wasn't there. If a thousand knives had stabbed him in the back, he wouldn't have felt as much hurt as he did at that moment. A sharp jolt of pain etched an unbearable ache within his heart.

His eyes grew more teary, and he turned around only to find Liz standing before him. Her long brown hair danced wildly in the wind, and her face was glowing in the light of the moon's rays. Her long white nightgown flew in the same direction as her hair.. and Max took a small step towards her, wrapping his arms gently around her small frame

"My angel." He whispered.

And Liz held onto him. Her right hand stroked the nape of his neck, easing the tension in it with the gentlest touch of her fingertips. Her left hand lingered on his back, imprinting letters through his shirt... and Max realized she was spelling out
I L-O-V-E Y-O-U
He drew her closer, encircling her tiny waist within his arms, and slowly drew his hands up to tilt her chin. He brushed his cheek along the soft skin of her pale cheek, before placing a gentle, caring kiss there, and then he whispered,
"I love you" into her ear.
She shivered at the warmth of his breath and closed her eyes. Max brushed his lips over her eye-lids, her forehead, and then finally reached her soft lips.
He kissed her hesitantly and shyly, and when he felt the gentle pressure of her lips responding to his, his instinct took over and his tongue darted out, licking the contours of her lips. The moment she parted them, his tongue gently made entrance and found hers. Their tongues danced together, a slow dance that was to be savored as if it were the last dance of the prom. And when they both pulled away, the light in Elizabeth's brown eyes shone vividly, and Max saw her lips conform into a broad smile.
He closed his eyes, hoping he wasn't dreaming, and when he opened them, he was conscious of the clicking of a camera, and the music of Tonight, Tonight by The Smashing Pumpkins permeating throughout the night.
~*~
*angel*
posted on 14-May-2002 8:21:35 PM by Wench On A Leash
Awww, you guys suckered me into posting early... although I shall be evil and leave it on a cliffhanger. Mwah ha ha. >=D

Alien614, Pixie, roswell_chick101, 2crzy4roswell, the better twin, mitra, alienchica, Qtygirl411, cermel, JDreamer, limegreenli, Anniepoo98, emmiejay, aZNroSweLl anglgrl, emmie, abbs007, shorty828, ILYMEFOREVER, frenchkiss70, ps_dreamer, just me, Phoenix, and LttleMrmade~ Thanks for the wonderful FB. *big* *group hug* Lol.. wow, I'm odd.

limelight 66~ ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE.. That is Total Cuteness. Lol. Thanks for the FB. *happy*

Rapunzel~ Hehe. Flying Fishticks.. that's good use of alliteration. *tongue* Thanks!

Kitcat26~ Well, I wanted Max to be like a guy. I know S1 Max was totally sweet and caring, and I wanted to get elements of that Max in this story. I also needed a real guy-like persona for him.. and well, guys have a tendency to be really really dense. (Yes, I'm a little bitter).. Lol, anyway, that's my justification for him waiting 3 weeks.

Minand~ Wow. It was recommended? o_O I'm touched.
*happy* Thanks for the FB. *big*

Audio Poet~ Yaya! Smashing Pumpkins, (I'm listening to Disarm right now), The Perks of Being A Wallflower, you have good taste. *wink* Thanks for the FB. *happy*

RosBaby~ Awww. Hehe. It is a great song. *happy* Thank you.

tyranese~ Lol. Thanks for reminding me, I forgot to mention it... the song is "Name" by The Goo Goo Dolls. Ty for the not 1, but 2 replies.. and for that lil bump along the way. *big* You're great

Thanks for the bump emmie!

Inimitiable~ Lol. Hmm... apparently so..

*This part is dedicated to Kitcat26 for her persistance in me writing it.. and because she is sick. *sad* I hope you feel better.. and you know what. I don't think that Roswell will be aired tonight. They're not showing Buffy.. so I'm guessing they won't be showing Roswell. Psh, stupid BasketBall game. Christina is NOT a Happy Girl. *Sniffles* Anyway, hope this doesn't disappoint...
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claudia had heard the strumming of a guitar in the backyard, and the singing of a strong, powerful male voice blending beautifully with the music. She pulled on her robe and sat in the living room, looking out the window. She knew who it was, and wasn't surprised in the least to see Max Evans serenading her grand-daughter from beneath her window. She sighed, and rubbed her eyes. Max seemed to always show up and do the right things at the times she least expected it. She shook her head, but continued to smile. It wasn't up to her to decide whether Liz and Max would be together. She could no longer shield her grand-daughter from the real world, Liz would have to learn how to fend for herself. Now was the time for Liz to face reality and learn about living again. Claudia's previous attempts had all failed, and as she sat there surveying the intensity in Max's voice, and thinking of how Liz opened up so quickly because of Max, she knew that she had to let go. She had to believe in Liz enough to let her live her own life. So the last decision Claudia made was to enroll Liz in public school. But only when Liz was ready. Totally and completely ready. Claudia had a feeling that the time would come soon enough, as she noted Liz's subtle movements with Max and the two other males that stood in their backyard.
~*~
Liz's eyes sparkled, and she noticed Max looking awestruck at what was happening. The expression on his face was priceless and Liz started to giggle at his loss of coherence. He blinked, and then Alex and Michael quietly approached the two. Liz linked her right arm through Max's left arm and stood slightly behind him. Max sensed Liz's fear, and reassured her that Alex and Michael were people that she could trust. Liz finally nodded and moved to Max's side, facing the other two guys. Her face was set on the ground for a long minute, and gradually made it's way up to sweep over the two males, before returning her looked to Max. He gestured towards Alex.

"The wonderful guitarist, and my best friend, Alex..." Max proclaimed.

"Hi Liz." Alex said, a comforting smile on his lips.

Liz hesitantly smiled back and nodded. Then she awkwardly looked back to Max. He lovingly kissed her cheek, and then pointed towards Michael.

"That's Michael. My umm.. he's kind of like my brother, I guess." Max said.

Michael looked surprised for a split second but then returned to his calm, cool and collected expression.

"Hey Liz." He said casually.

Liz nodded again.

"These are my friends, Liz. They won't hurt you. And if you let them, they'll be your friends too." Max said softly.

Liz looked around and bit her lip, as if she wanted to say something but couldn't find the words. Then she blushed and looked back towards the ground. Max pulled her closer to him, and she seemed to burrow her head into the crook of his shoulder, as if to hide her face away from the two strangers. Max began running his fingers soothingly through her long brown strands of hair. Alex watched the two with a look of admiration on his face.

"Ah hem." Michael cleared his throat and Alex continued to watch the two who seemed to be in their own little world. Michael tried again, a little louder. "Ah hem." When Alex still didn't notice, Michael grabbed him by the sleeve and as quietly, yet forcefully, as he could, dragged him away.

When the two left and Max and Liz were alone, Liz's expression changed, as she rememberance of how much she suffered when he was gone returned. She slowly pulled herself out of Max's embrace, and met his eyes with a look of question in her eyes. Max started to walk towards her, ready to apologize, but she only backed away, determined to get an answer before she flew back into his welcoming arms. She silently mouthed 'why?' to him. The look of wonder and hurt in her eyes nearly killed Max. He dropped his hands limply to his sides, trying to explain.

"Liz, I.. it wasn't.. I. I didn't want you to.. I didn't know if you were mad at me.. or.. I was just.." He stopped, closed his eyes, took a breath and started again. "I was afraid you hated me. I didn't know what to do, so I did the pathetic thing, and ran away from you when I wanted nothing more than to be with you." His soulful eyes captured her brown doe ones, and she held up three fingers, signifying three weeks. He closed his eyes, unable to face the depth of pain he felt. "I'm sorry, Liz. All I could think about those three long weeks was you. Every time I saw someone smile, I'd see your smile lighting up the darkness I felt. Every time I listened to a love song, I thought of you and your gracefulness. Every time I saw a child I thought of your innocence and purity. Every time I saw a couple, I thought of us. Liz, I missed you more than anything in those three weeks and I'm ashamed of myself for doing what I did." Max started approaching her again, and this time she turned her back to him. Shutting her eyes tightly, as if to ward off the tears that were now forming.

Everything seemed to be happening so fast. The majority of her life she was living in a shell, hardly experiencing anything. This new emotion that was now forcing her out of her shell and back into the world of people made her confused and scared. She wanted to have friends. She wanted Max Evans in her life. She was just so afraid of opening up. She was afraid of giving too much, she knew that if she started anything with anyone it would be more intense than the average teenager's relationship. She seemed to have this need for Max, and as much as she wanted to hide it, she couldn't. She needed him to be there for her. She needed him to be her friend. She just.. needed him.

"Liz?" Max asked quietly as he tentatively touched her shoulder.

She flinched, caught off guard by his touch. Max winced painfully, knowing that she was afraid of his touch added tenfold to the hurt and painful emotions he was holding inside.

"If you want me to go, I will, Liz." He said softly.

Liz turned around, and Max saw the fresh tears in her eyes. She brisquely shook her head, and walked up to him, reaching up on her tip toes and wrapping her arms around his neck. He could hear her soft sniffles, and feel her tears wetting his grey t-shirt.

"Shh, Liz." He said, smoothing her hair. "I'm sorry, Liz. I'll be here for you. Please, don't cry." He gently cupped her cheeks and brushed her tears away with his thumbs. "I love you Liz... I even sang for you to prove it. And I am not one who sings on a regular basis." He chuckled, which prompted a laugh out of Liz. The first real genuine laugh Max had heard from her,and then he noticed her shivering. "It's getting cold, isn't it?" He asked. She nodded, and opened her mouth to say something.. Her lips formed an "I" but no words would come forth from, and she tried again but to no avail. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and willed herself to speak, but she couldn't. Her tongue seemed to not let her vocal chords project, and she became flustered. Her breathing started to come out in short pants and new tears of frustration filled her eyes. Her shaking continued, and Max pulled her to him. "Liz, please, don't try to talk. It's okay. Come on." He tried calming her with his words, while leading her shaking body inside her house. The whole time, trying to hide his fear as her breaths continued to come faster and faster, and she seemed to begin lacking oxygen.

He ran to the door, banging mercilessly on it.

"Claudia!" He shouted..

Liz's pale face began turning blue, and just as Claudia opened the door, her trembling subsided and she fell limply into Max's arms.
~*~

posted on 19-May-2002 5:23:03 PM by Wench On A Leash
Okay.. I'm ready to update.. this next part is kinda long.. I apologize. =/ I've been writing it and rereading it and changing it for a while now, and I'm content with it now.. so yeah.

LilEvEe, AnniePoo98, cermel (thanks for the bump), mpls muse, Sugar Maniac2011, roswellluver, shorty828, emmie (thanks for the bump), angelbaby6977, Audio Poet, mandyhanford, abbs007, ILYMEFOREVER, Tabasco Liz, frenchkiss70, ps_dreamer, mitra, RosBaby, aZNroSweLl anglgrl, ISLANDGIRL5, Phoenix82, just_me, Alexandra82, and Qtygirl411~ Thanks for the wonderful FB everyone! I can't tell you enough how great it is to get comments from you guys. *happy*

Kitcat26~ Lol. Good, you're getting better. I grr at UPN too, and thank you SO MUCH for letting me know when the final ep would be aired. I watched it.. and yeah, I cried. Lol. (Thanks for the bump too. *tongue*)

LixMix5~ Hehe. What can I say... music is my obsession., and yes, I also think that the kind of music people listen to says a lot about who they really are. I completely understand what you're saying. *big*

tyranese~ Thanks for the bump!! And.. your comments are making me feel all special. Hehe. I'm always trying to show Liz use a lot of emotion and speaking w/o actually saying anything. It's good to know that I'm being effective in doing so. And Graduation made me cry. It's weird to know that Roswell had actually ended. *Sigh* Oh well, I'll get over it.. eventually.

* I dedicate this next part to all of my loyal, reoccuring readers. *big* *

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

"What happened?" Claudia asked, as she helped Max guide Liz's limp body to the couch.

"She was trying to talk and all of a sudden she just... just... started breathing fast.. and then..." Max's worry and concern was evident in his voice. "Is she going to be okay?"

Claudia grabbed a brown paper bag and placed it over Liz's nose and mouth.

"Yes, she'll be okay." Claudia said casually. She didn't need to instruct Liz on what to do, Liz started breathing deeply into the bag, and soon her breaths regulated. Liz gave the bag back to Claudia after she was sure that her breathing was normal. Now she was taking slow, deep breaths with a look of concentration etched on her face.

"Has this happened before?" Max asked.

Claudia nodded. "Sometimes, if she's feeling intense emotions, or trying too hard to push herself to do something.. she'll just lose it.. she hyperventilates. She's been doing it periodically ever since.. since Kyle.. died. It was worse when she was younger.. and then when her mother.. well, after that, she sort of stopped when she umm.. when she bottled all of her emotions inside."

Max was silent after that, holding Liz's left hand in both of his hands, and kissing her palm.

"How long will she be like this?" Max asked Claudia, never breaking his constant look over Elizabeth's frail body.

"Well, her breathing is getting back to normal. She'll just need to rest for a while." Claudia stated. The two were silent as Liz's body slowly started to gain life back, and she curled herself into a fetal position on the couch, closing her eyes and letting sleep consume her body.

"Is it safe for her to sleep right now?" Max asked.

"Yes."

Max nodded, but didn't let go of Liz's hand.

"Max.." Claudia began, breaking the silence. "I know you care about my grand-daughter, but do you have any idea how bad it was for her when you left her alone for 3 weeks?" Max closed his eyes as he brought his head down and kissed Liz's hand again.

"I know." He simply said. "I was being selfish at the time. I was afraid she didn't want to see me after.. the.. uh.."

"The what?" Claudia began to perk up.

"After the incident with Sean and Tess."

"Who are Sean and Tess?" She asked.

"These kids from school. They kind of scared her, I guess... and Sean was saying bad things about Elizabeth... and I kind of lost it.. and, beat him up." Max's voice became quieter as he said the last few words. He didn't know how Claudia would respond to that. He soon found out when her soft laughter was heard, warming up the dark house.

"Max, you remind me of Liz's father."

After those words, Max turned his gaze from Liz to Claudia for the first time.

"What?"

"I remember back when Jeff was first with Nancy. He hardly told me anything about his girlfriends, but when he was with her.. she was always on his mind. He'd tell me about her playing guitar, her beautiful voice, and I remember whenever there were problems between the two, he'd tend to run from them. It's a good thing I was there to knock some sense into him." Claudia continued to chuckle. "The only thing I can't seem to convince him to do is.." Her voice trailed off as she looked down to Liz's sleeping form.

Max tucked a strand of Liz's hair behind her ear before standing up.

"Claudia?" He asked.

"Yes, Max?"

"Could I.. maybe stay here tonight? I just want to make sure that she's okay." He asked hesitantly.

Claudia smiled.

"I'll get some blankets and pillows."

"Thanks."
~*~

The next morning Max woke up to the smell of freshly made waffles. He rubbed the sleep away from his eyes, and sat up, cracking his stiff back. Sleeping on the floor next to the couch Liz had been on was something he wasn't used to. He yawned, and then stood up, stretching out.

"Good morning, Max." Claudia smiled at him, as she placed 3 plates of warm waffles on the kitchen table.

"Morning." Max replied. He walked into the kitchen, seeing Liz at the freezer pulling out vanilla ice cream. He smiled when he saw her shiver from the coldness as it touched her fingers.

"Good morning, Liz." He said, as he walked over by her and asked he if could help with anything.

Liz slightly blushed, and seemed to look everywhere but into Max's eyes. Max smirked a little and Claudia laughed.

"Max, just sit down. We have everything covered."

He took a seat and watched as Liz got a scoop for the ice cream. She walked over to him and placed two scoops of vanilla ice cream on top of his waffles.

"I don't like ice cream." Max said, smirking.

Liz stood there a moment, dumbfounded. Then she gingerly reached for the plate to take it away, but Max halted her arm with his hand.

"I'm kidding, Liz."

Max got the response he was hoping for. She hit him lightly on the shoulder, rolling her eyes at him. He smiled, happy that she was finally communicating with him.

They all ate their breakfast in silence. Comfortable silence. Max couldn't seem to break his gaze away from Liz's mouth as she ate. He was beginning to become aware of her feminine power, not that he never was before, but now it seemed to be affecting him more and more. He was glad there was a table separating them so that nobody could see the affects she had on his lower anatomy.

"Liz?" Max asked. "There's this annual carnival, and I was wondering if you wanted to go there with me today."

Liz's bright smile and shining eyes was enough answer for him.

"Liz always loved carnivals." Claudia smiled.

"Great." Max responded. "I'll just have to.. go home, change, and get my camera."

"You always have that camera with you, Max." Claudia stated.

"Yeah.. well, I like capturing special moments on film." He smiled, looking at Liz. "Although, to tell you truthfully, I wish I had my camera with me right now." Liz glanced down shyly as a hint of pinkness creeped into her cheeks. Max loved when she did that.
~*~

When Max reached his house he was surprised to find his father there.

"Hello, Son." Philip said.

How typical, Max thought. His father always called him son, as if to remind Max that he was more of a mantelpiece than an actual human being.

"Hello, father." Max replied sarcastically. His father seemed not to have noticed his sarcasm, and ruffled his hair. Max cleared his throat, "How was the business trip?"

"I won the case." Philip said casually.

"Surprise, surprise."

Philip smiled as he got a cup of coffee and sat at the kitchen table. He glanced at his son before saying,

"Your mother told me you're progressing."

Max looked at his father questioningly,

"Progressing?"

"Well, you know. Becoming more social."

"Right." Max said.

Michael walked into the kitchen in a white wifebeater and his red boxers, yawning.

"Michael, I presume?" Philip stated, standing up and extending his hand for Michael to shake.

"Yeah, that's me." He said, shaking Philip's hand.

"My wife told me a lot about you, Michael. I hear you're a good artist." Michael shrugged. "Well, I think that we should all have dinner together tonight. Get to know eachother." Philip suggested.

Max and Michael looked at eachother, silently communicating an exaggerated sigh.

"Actually, dad, I had plans today." Max said, and Michael continued,

"Yeah, me too."

Philip looked at his coffee mug sullenly.

"Well, Diane was taking off work tonight and wanted us all to eat together." He said, letting the sentence linger on.

"Well, dad. I guess I can take Liz to the carnival later on tonight." Max said. He wanted to do this because his mother had wanted it.

Michael folded his arms across his chest,

"Carnival?" He asked Max.

"Yeah."

"I guess I'll change my plans and take Maria there tonight too. Considering I'll be eating here."

"Okay." Max nodded. He felt selfish again at that moment because he wanted to be alone with Elizabeth that night.

Max called Liz's house and informed Claudia that he would be there later in the evening, around 8:00. She assured him it was okay, and he waited for what seemed like forever for the "family" dinner.
~*~

Surprisingly dinner went well. Diane seemed really happy to be bringing everyone together. Michael was quiet, but still heald his sarcastically witty demeanor, Philip made conversation, and Max enjoyed the moment. Dinner with his family was something that was a rare occurence. His father was gone most of the time, his mother rarely took off of her work, and when they had family dinners it was usually something he felt forced into. Something was changing though. He felt like he belonged in his family. He glanced at his smiling mother proudly complimenting Max's photography talent, as well as Michael's artistry.
~*~

Once dinner ended, Max and Michael piled into Max's jeep. First they picked up Maria, and she sat in the back with Michael. Max refused to glance towards the back of his jeep in fear of being scarred for life, especially after catching them making out that one day in his house. On reflection, Max found the memory funny and started chuckling to himself as he pulled into Liz's driveway. He parked his car and hopped out of the jeep.

"I'll be right back."

When she answered the door he had to do a touble take at her beauty. She looked very natural and content. Her hair was worn down, as it always was, but it seemed to have more life in it. He had this incredible desire to run his fingers through her long dark mane, and smell the silky strands. Her pale skin seemed to compliment the darkness of her hair, and she was wearing simple khakis with a black tank top that gave her the 'innocent girl next door' look.

"Liz.." He said, admiring the beauty before him. She smiled, and he continued.. "Listen, I'm sorry about having to come later, my parents wanted me and Michael to have dinner with them and.." She brought her finger to his lips to silence him, as if saying he didn't need to explain. She understood. Feeling the touch of her fingers on his lips made Max's heart melt, and a pulsing desire to spread throughout his body. Liz swiftly removed her fingers as she saw his amber eyes darken, and she felt her heart begin to beat erratically. This was a new feeling for her, and as much as it frightened her, it excited her even more.

Max took her hand in his, and began walking her to his jeep.

"Umm.. Michael and his girlfriend Maria are going with us, Liz. Is that okay?"

She nodded in the affirmative. Max smiled, opening the car door for her.

"Hey Liz." Maria said in her bubbly-like tone. "I'm Maria, and you and I, chica, are going to become good friends."

Liz smiled at Maria, actually meeting her gaze. She was astounded at Maria's forwardness and talkativeness. For some reason Liz felt that Maria would be a good friend for her. Unlike Tess, Maria seemed like she was an accepting person, and her bubbly personality was unique and different for Liz.

The four of them drove to the carnival as the radio decided to play good songs for once. Good songs that Max normally liked, but ironically, they all had lyrics that had to do with rain in them. First Garbage's "Only Happy When It Rains" came on. Normally he'd be blasting the song, but instead he quietly switched the station.

"Hey, I like that song." Maria shouted from the back of the car.

Max glanced over towards Liz looking out the window.

"Sorry, Maria." He said, just as "No Rain" by Blind Melon came on. This was one of Max's favorite songs, no matter how he was feeling, this song always seemed to cheer him up. He always had this urge to dance when the song was on... but as the lyrics began...

~*~*~
All I can say is that my life is pretty plain,
I like watching the puddles gather rain
And all I can do is just pour some tea for two
And speak my point of view but it's not sane..
~*~*~

Max changed the station again.

"Oh come on, Maxwell. That's one of the few mellow songs I actually like." Michael said. When Max refused to change the station back, Liz reached towards the dial and switched it back, turning up the volume.

Max looked over at her, and noticed her bopping her head to the beat.

"See, Liz likes it too. Right, chica?" Maria yelled above the noise. Liz began lip synching the song, and Max felt his heart swell. She seemed to feel the same way he did when she heard the song. Soon Maria and Michael could be heard singing with the music..

~*~*~
I just want some one to say to me
I'll always be there when you wake
You know I'd like to keep my cheeks dry today
So stay with me and I'll have it made..
~*~*~

And then Max joined in with the others, his belting out the next lyrics,

~*~*~
And I don't understand why I sleep all day
And I start to complain that there's no rain
And all I can do is read a book to stay awake
And it rips my life away, but it's a great escape
Escape.. escape..... escape...
~*~*~

There was silence in the car, followed by Michael and Maria headbanging as the last verse rolled around..

~*~*~
All I can say is that my life is pretty plain
You don't like my point of view
Ya think I'm insane
It's not sane.... it's not sane...
~*~*~

Once they all reached the carnival, Maria stood by Liz and whispered something into her ear. Liz's eyes sparkled as she began to giggle.

"What?" Michael asked.

"Oh, nothing Mikey G." Maria grinned. "Just telling Liz how you could never in a million years win a stuffed animal. You have very bad hand-eye coordination."

Michael glanced over to a booth. There were three pins stacked up, with a bunch of guys attempting to knock all three down with a ball.

"Yeah, cuz those games are rigged." Michael said.

"Oh yeah?" Maria asked.

"Yep." Michael responded.

"Then how come that hot guy over there just won one for his girlfriend?" Maria dared.

Michael gritted his teeth, making his way over to the booth.

Max and Liz stood by one another, watching as Michael attempted to knock the pins down. After three failed attempts, Max went up to the stand.

"Let me try." He said, and at the first try, he got it. Liz clapped encouragingly for him after he won, and he picked out a huge white teddy bear for her. She jumped up, wrapping her arms around his neck. Max held onto her tightly not wanting to let her go, he was in complete bliss just feeling her body pressed up so close to his. She kissed him on the cheek before pulling away.

"Goddammit!!" Michael yelled as he was on his fifth try. "This is a waste of my money."

Maria laughed.

"Don't worry, it was worth it to see you all pissed off like this." She grinned. When Michael glared at her, she continued. "Hey, you're all sexy when you're pissed." Then he seemed to smirk.

Liz laughed, watching the interaction between Michael and Maria. They certainly had an odd relationship. Max took the opportunity to wrap his arms around Liz's petite waist from behind and kissed her cheek. What he really wanted to do was kiss the soft pale skin pulsing at her neck. He had to refrain himself from doing so though.

"How about we go on some rides." Max suggested to everyone. They all complied, with Max and Liz holding hands as they began leading the way to the 'Gravitron'.

"Dude, I am so not going on that ride." Maria began, "That thing gives me hardcore headaches. I mean, they are like massive migraines. It's almost as bad as when I'm on my period."

Liz laughed loudly, smiling at Maria's openness. This girl was crazy and she loved it.

"You want to come on it, Liz?"

She nodded, and Max, Michael and Liz began making their way to the ride. Maria pulled at Michael's shirt,

"You are not leaving me out here alone with all these creepy carnis around!" Maria scolded him

"Maria." Michael said.

"Michael.. they're eyeing me and it is totally freaking me out. It's like they're.."

Michael pulled Maria into his arms and began kissing her passionately, leaving an unbeknownst Max to averting his eyes. He looked to Liz,

"Shall we?" He asked. The two made their way on the machine, and once they were off, Maria and Michael were still kissing.

"Get a room." Max said, jokingly.

The couple broke apart, and Michael said,

"Good thing I decided not to go on that ride."

Maria looked to Liz saying,

"See, us girls have power." She winked.

"Come on, let's go on the Ferris Wheel." Maria suggested, pulling Michael with her. The group began walking, but were halted as a familiar voice called out to them.

"Hey! What are you guys doing here?" Alex asked as he and Isabel made their way towards the four.

"I should be asking you the same thing." Max gave Alex a knowing look.

Liz stood by Max, and Max noticed her beginning to tense up. He looked back over to Alex and Isabel. It couldn't be Alex that she was getting uncomforatble around... then he put two and two together.

"Oh, Liz. This is Isabel." He said, pointing towards Is.

"Hello." Isabel said, nodding towards Liz. Liz just smiled shyly, intimidated by Isabel's presence. The girl was tall and beautiful, she looked like she could be a model.

"Hey girlfriend." Maria said, hugging Isabel to her.

Liz smiled watching the two friends embrace.

"Are you guys going on the Ferris Wheel?" Alex asked.

"Yep, Maria's suggestion." Michael confirmed. "And we all know that when Maria wants something, she gets it." The six of them laughed, and Liz finally began feeling at ease with the now larger group. The tension in her body subsided.

"Well, I'm up for a little stargazing tonight." Alex mentioned as he glanced at Isabel dreamily. "Want to go on it?" He asked her.

She smiled, "Of course, Alex."

The three couples got in their own seats.

Alex and Isabel were watching the stars beautifully masked against the darkness of the night. Isabel's laughter could be heard from the two other couples riding in separate seats. Michael and Maria were kissing passionately, as usual. And Liz layed her head on Max's shoulder, sighing contentedly. Max took the chance to smell her hair. It was a soft and gentle smell.. almost like a baby's..

"Baby shampoo." He stated out of nowhere.

Liz looked up to him with a slight smirk on her face and the faint raise of an eyebrow.

"Your hair." He said, reaching out to smooth a strand behind her hair. "Smells just like baby shampoo."

Liz giggled and layed her head against his shoulder once again.

"It's a beautiful night, isn't it, Liz?" He asked.

She nodded, closing her eyes.

"The view is great from up here, huh?" Max asked, staring down at Liz.

She removed her head from his shoulder and looked up at him. He slowly pulled her chin upwards, bringing his mouth closer to hers, but as they parted their mouths, the Ferris Wheel stopped, and a deep voice cleared his throat.

"Time's up." The carni said.

The two got off the Ferris Wheel and joined up with the others. Maria immediately made her way over to Liz.

"See, those carnis ruin everything." She said a little too loudly, causing the Ferris Wheel worker to give her a nasty glare.

Liz laughed, sparking Max's memory. He brought his camera with him, and now was the perfect opportunity to get pictures of Liz. She seemed so happy tonight, so natural. Almost like she was beginning to fit in again. He could sense her awkwardness every once in a while when Isabel was by her, but he understood that. Isabel intimidated very many people with her cool Ice Princess demeanor. The rest of the night Max captured numerous pictures of Liz with the gang. One of his favorites was with her and Maria. The two seemed to have a silent bond. He had noticed it when he first saw them interact, when Liz met Maria's eyes. That was the first time she actually met one of his friends' eyes.

Max's thoughts returned to the previous night, with Liz trying so hard to tell him something. He wondered what she was going to say to him, and he was honored that she was attempting to talk to him. He was just worried that she would never be able to actually talk. Maybe she was so used to not speaking that her vocal chords were messed up, or that she would never be able to speak without hyperventilating.

Max turned his head towards the ground, deep in thought, but when he felt her hand gently touching his shoulder, and he looked up to see her smile of reassurance, he felt comfort. And at that moment he knew somehwere deep in his heart that one day she would talk to him. He felt it in his bones, all he had to do was be patient. Liz Parker was special, he could see it in the way she communicated with the gang and with himself. Especially with himself. Liz unknowingly taught him a lot, and at that moment he felt infinite. He could spend forever gazing into Elizabeth's innocent doe eyes, smelling the soft hint of baby shampoo in her ear, and waiting for her to speak. Max hugged Liz to himself, and Maria grabbed the camera from him.

"It's my turn to play photographer." She stated, winking. The rest of the night, Max's roll of film was full of pictures of he and Liz. Now he couldn't wait to get them developed.
~*~

*I hope no one is offended by my terming the carnival workers "carnis". Hehehe... *angel*

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 22-May-2002 9:24:03 PM ]
posted on 2-Jun-2002 7:37:03 PM by Wench On A Leash
*Blinks* Wow. Talk about a lot of FB. Sorry for the extremely long delay in writing. You know how school gets, especially in nearing the end of it. With all the projects, studying and everything teachers just love to cram in right before school ends. I had to do this paper for English, but since that's done I can focus on this and My So-Called Life In Roswell... I still can't get over all this FB.

First of all I must thank....
LilEvEe, Rapunzel, roswellluver, marteloise, mitra, SugarManiac2011, dancepixie, aZNroSweLl anglgrl, Minanda, Ice Rose, ILYMEFOREVER, tyranese, Cinder, angelbaby6977, Miss dreamergal, abbs007, ps_dreamer, frenchkiss70, just me, mandyhand, 2crzy4roswell, roswell_chick101, mpls muse, Audio Poet, PIxie, the better twin, RosBaby, Moonlit Jade, ISLANDGIRL5, Calinia, not_of_this_earth, roswelllover, and sablaine.
Wow, that's a lot.

Kitcat26~ Yes. Carnis. It's pretty ironic, this year my school started this thing for the seniors. Since they don't really get anything specifically for JUST the seniors, they now have this after school carnival to go to on the last day. So.. they have this half day of school, and then they go to the carnival where us lucky juniors and the little sophomores get to be stuck in school, looking out the window at them having fun. It's evil.. lol, and very Grease-ish. Anyway, the whole point of this being ironic is that me and my friends were saying how it just won't be the same without those carnis there...
Lol. Hehe. Saint Max.*wink*
Yeah, Michael seems to be a key role in Max's family togetherness and stuff.
I didn't think that there was enough Maria in the story, so I thought that would be the perfect opportunity to capture "Maria-ness" Hehe. It seems to have worked well. I was afraid I was going too fast in getting the group to meet Liz, but oh well.

shorty828~ Thanks *blushes*. I'm glad you liked the part thought, I had my doubts about it.

Anniepoo98~ Hehe. Here's the new part for you. Sorry, it wasn't soon though. =/ And it's not that long, but I guess a little is better than none at all? Well, depending on if the little bit is good or not, which could go either way.. okay.. I need to stop rambling.

Bubbles~ Yes m'am. I will not apologize for long parts ever again. Lol.

LixMix5~ Yes. Something I can admit. I have excellent taste in music. Lol, music is my obsession, I'm like, addicted to it.

Adriana~ You shall see. Hehe.

Pegleg~ New reader. Yaya!

A special thanks to all those repeated bumps from the following...
dancepixie, ILYMEFOREVER, tyranese, mpls muse, ps_dreamer, the better twin, RosBaby, 2crzy4roswell, Kitcat26, emmie, and Bubbles. Wow, you guys are great.

And on to zee next part..

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Max awoke Sunday morning to the blinding sunlight shining through his window and the sound of birds chirping. He slowly opened his eyes, rubbing the sleep away from them and yawned. He lay in bed for a while as a smirk curled his lips, thinking about the events of last night. Liz Parker was becoming more and more alive, and he had noticed her spirited side. Still shy and innocent, but spirited and just aching to be free. He got out of bed, cracked his stiff neck, and then headed downstairs for breakfast only to be greeted by his mother.

"Morning, Max. You're up early." Diane noted.

"Yeah," Max replied, unable to stifle the smile on his face. Diane poured herself some coffee and asked ever so casually,

"So.. have fun last night with Elizabeth?" Max nodded in return. Diane sat down across from him and patted him on the hand. "Maxwell, I want you to know that I love you and I'm always here for you. Okay?"

"I know that, mom." Max said, looking her in the eyes.

"I'm just so happy that we're finally.." She let the sentence trail on and Max smiled. The two of them sat in companionable silence. Mother and son just content in silently eating breakfast together. Diane collected her and Max's plates and brought them to the sink, "So Max, honey, when do I get to meet this Liz girl that you've fallen completely head over heals in love with?" Max blushed and looked down. He wasn't used to his mother and him discussing his private life and even though they were getting closer, it still felt a little awkward at times. They hadn't exactly been the bonding type.

"Umm, whenever you want." Max said, shrugging as if it were no big deal. He had wanted Liz to meet his parents, maybe his mother could help her or something. Diane smiled,

"And what about Claudia Parker. She's such a sweet lady."

"You've met her?" Max asked, surprised.

"Yes. Lately she's been outside sitting on her porch quite frequently. I've introduced myself to her and she's a lovely woman."

"Yeah, she is. Strong too."

"Well, how about tomorrow night?"

"What?" Max asked, lost in thoughts of Liz.

"Have them over for dinner tomorrow night. I'd like to meet Liz."

"Sure" Max smiled.
~*~

Liz stood in her room in front of her mirror looking at her reflection. She smiled as "Ode To My Family" by the Cranberries came on her cd player. She turned the music up louder, grabbed a brush and began combing through her long brown hair. Her thoughts were consumed by Max Evans. He was so supportive for her and she wished she could tell him how much she valued him, but she couldn't. All she could rely on were her thoughts and attempting to show him her thoughts with a gesture or a look. The time she tried to talk to him, she absolutely lost it. She couldn't even get a murmer out of her voice, let alone an actual sentence.

She set the brush down on her vanity and just stood in front of her mirror. She reached out and touched her reflection, skimming her fingers over the face in the mirror. She closed her eyes as she listened to the lyrics...

~*~*~
Understand the things I say, don't turn away from me,
Cause I've spent half my life out there, you wouldn't disagree.
Do you see me? Do you see? Do you like me?
Do you like me standing there? Do you notice?
Do you know? Do you see me? Do you see me?
Does anyone care.

Unhappiness where's when I was young
And we didn't give a damn,
Cause we were raised,
To see life as fun and take it if we can
My mother, my mother,
She hold me, did she hold me, when I was out there?
My father, my father
He liked me, oh he liked me
Does anyone care?

Understand what I've become, it wasn't my design
And people everywhere think, something better than I am.
Do you know you did not find me. You did not find.
Does anyone care?

Unhappiness where's when I was young
And we didn't give a damn,
Cause we were raised,
To see life as fun and take it if we can
My mother, my mother,
She hold me, did she hold me, when I was out there?
My father, my father
He liked me, oh he liked me
Does anyone care?
~*~*~

She took a deep breath, still tracing her hands along her reflection in the mirror, and hesitantly opened her mouth..

"I" She choked out the words, forcing herself to continue in a muffled, hardly audible voice "miss you.." Soon her vision became blurred as tears seeped into her eyes, but she finished because she had to. She had to admit out loud what she hadn't let herself admit in 5 years. "Kyle." She sniffled, wiping at her tears and looked at herself again. She swallowed the lump in her throat and went to her dresser drawer to pull out a picture. She looked down and skimmed her fingers over the faces of her mother and father. "I'm.."
~*~

Grandma Claudia walked to Liz's room and was about to knock when she heard soft crying emmitting from the room. She furrowed her grey eyebrow in question, and then heard an ever so faint "sorry" being spoken.

Claudia slowly creeked the door open to find Liz looking down at a wooden picture frame.

"Liz?" She asked as she took small, tentative steps towards her granddaughter. Liz looked up at Claudia with dried tears flecked onto her cheeks and red-rimmed, puffy eyes. And then Claudia heard it, and her prayers for the past 5 years had been answered.

"I'm... sorry," Liz's speaking was slow, and she struggled with the words, forcing them out.. "grandma."

Claudia clutched at her chest where her heart was and gasped in awe. She stood frozen in place, shocked at hearing the voice she hadn't heard in so long. However muffled and quiet it was, she didn't care. Her granddaughter was speaking. The next thing Claudia knew, Liz was hugging her tightly and repeating the words, "I'm sorry" over and over again. Each time coming out faster, but soon sobbing overtook Liz's small frame, and she started breathing hard again.

Claudia guided Liz to the kitchen and grabbed a brown paper bag for her to breathe in. She sat down with Liz next to her, soothingly smoothing down her hair in an effort to help calm Liz as she breathed steadily into the bag. Claudia cleared her throat and began humming a melody from long ago.

Liz's ragged breathing soon commenced to normality when she heard the soft humming her mother used to sing when playing her guitar. Liz looked to her grandmother, and she became completely relaxed in the memory of her mom.
~*~

Max stepped outside with his camera and two rolls of film that were in harsh need of being developed in his hands. He looked across the street and smiled at the house with the white picket fence that belonged to Elizabeth. His mother and Alex were right, he had it bad for her. Never before had someone affected him so much, so deeply.

He glanced around at the beautiful red and brown leaves falling from the trees that cluttered their suburban home. He inhaled deeply, taking in the crisp sent of fall. Fall was one of his favorite seasons. The season where beautiful colors masked the neighborhood, and he could hear the leaves crunching beneath his feet. Being a photographer, he'd grown to admire seasons, and the changing of seasons. Fall was exceptional for landscapes, as colors miraculously changed from green to brown to red and faded. Winter was wonderful for the glistening frehsly fallen snow that covered the houses and sparkled when the streaks of the sun's rays seeped onto the white blanket. Spring was wonderful for all the blooming flowers, and various birds he could capture in their natural sense of freedom; and then summer, summer was the season for fun. The season best in capturing people. People swimming, people walking, people eating ice cream at the park.

As Max developed the pictures from his film he couldn't help but feel love in his heart and complete happiness for all those pictures of he and Liz. They looked so natural together. As an observer, he could read expressions good, and what he saw in those pictures was equivalent love. Liz's eyes sparkled and a shy smile would grace her beautiful lips. His eyes focused on her in glowing adoration, and in others her head would be resting on his shoulder and he'd have his arm wrapped casually around her waist.

The pictures of the night he serenaded her were the best. Michael certainly snapped the pictures at the right moment. Max saw he and Liz's first kiss, and his hands running through her hair the was blowing in the wind along with her white nightgown. He saw the tears in Liz's eyes, tears of happiness and joy, and an overwhelming sense of gratefulness consumed his heart.

The pictures of the group were fun. He couldn't help but laugh at some of the pictures, and admire the friendship he sensed from them. Liz's smile was broad and genuine, her face glowed with laughter as she stood by Maria who was sticking her tongue out at the camera. In another Maria had hopped onto Michael's back and the surprise was evident on Michael's face while Liz stood in the middle of a starry eyed Alex and Isabel gazing at eachother.

The pictures of Liz alone were beautiful. She had a natural gracefulness and it was obvious that the camera loved her. Her simplicity and innocence was captured so eloquently that he'd find himself needing sharp intakes of breath to calm himself from the beauty that wasn't nearly captured enough in just a picture.

As he came across one picture though, his smile faded. Liz had a slight smile on her face, but the smile looked forced, and her eyes held a deep sadness in them. Max wondered how he hadn't noticed that expression on her face before. Clearly, she still had moments of the past that plagued her mind.

Max realized then that he couldn't just make everything go away for her. It was she who had to cope with the loss of her family. The loss of her twin brother and the loss of her mother. And even the loss of her father. Max hated thinking about Liz's horrible past that she didn't deserve. It was up to Liz to open up to him about it though; and the scary thing was, when she did, he wouldn't know what to do. He was never good with words, and he wasn't in the same kind of situation that Liz was. Of course he knew about what she went through, but he didn't know what was going on in her mind about everything. She had blocked out everything before by retreating into herself, and yes, she was opening up at an astounding rate, but what would happen if some freak thing were to set her off. Something worse than Sean and Tess.
~*~


posted on 14-Jun-2002 7:03:53 PM by Wench On A Leash
Wow. Hehe.. I guess it's time for a new part. Lol. Thank you all for the wonderful FB and numerous Bumps!! =)

roswell_chick101, JaneLane, Rapunzel, Amberla, Bubbles, Donnie roswell gurl, mitra, azNroSweLl anglgrl, Audio Poet, the better twin, cermel, roswellluver, destinyros2005, roswelllover, emmie, Pixie, angelbaby6977, PegLeg, abbs007, frenchkiss70, just me, LixMix5, SweetLilDreamer, ISLANDGIRL5, RosBaby, not_of_this_earth, Juliette, 2crzy4roswell, tyranese and Jules...~ Wow, that's a lot. Thanks for the FB!!! *big*

shorty828~ Hehe. I have somethine else planned for when Max shows Liz the pictures... think birthday. *wink*

IceRose~ Lol. That scared me at first. Thanks for the FB!

Anniepoo98~ Aww. Sorry it took so long for the update, but thanks for the fb.

Minanada~ Glad you liked the song.

ps_dreamer~ It's good to know that I described the pictures well. T'was my intent. =)

ILYMEFOREVER~ Aww, you missed my fic? *happy* Sorry for the long await. Hope you enjoy.

Calinia~ Yaya! Lots of comments. Always fun to read. Thanks for the FB.

mpls muse~ Thank you so much! I'm glad you noticed how Max is growing and maturing throughout this fic.

Kitcat26~ *blushes* Aw, shucks. (Did I just say shucks?). Flattery. Thanks for helping boost my non-existant ego. Lol. Thanks for the suggestion. I shall use it pour vous!!*big* I can't thank you enough for the wonderful FB you always give me. Yaya! Can't wait for more of SIRT and SOF. Go Cranberries!!!

rossieaddicted~ I'm glad you found your way back to my story. Hope you like it.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Max was growing nervous just waiting for the digital clock in his room to say 6:00. It was only 5:30, and he had just come to the realization that Liz had never even been inside his house before. They were usually either out in the park or at Liz's. He was worried about his parents meeting her. His mom knew that Liz had gone through some bad times and wouldn't talk, but she didn't know the specifics and he hoped she wouldn't try and get any information out of Liz considering her tendency to want to help people. His dad didn't know anything about Liz, just that she was the woman in his life. His thoughts were consumed with the worst of possibilities. He had this knawing feeling that something bad was going to happen. Things were going too well, and nothing good could last forever.

Max clenched his jaw and tried to rid his mind of his pessimistic thoughts as he glanced at the clock. 5:38. He sighed, running his hand through his short brown hair. He stood up, walking towards his dresser, and bent down to his bottom drawer to retrieve all the pictures he took. He separated them in different piles. Family, friends, Liz, scenery, people, and emotions. The procedure helped to cease his horrible thoughts as he sorted through the pictures, remembering the moment he took each and every one of them. Looking at pictures was always soothing for Max, and the knowledge that he accomplished to capture these moments how they were in actuality, not through fakeness. Not in one single picture did someone look like they had posed for a shot, they all looked completely natural. His favorite pictures, other than all of Liz's, were the emotional ones. He felt enthralled when looking at the sincerity, love, hate, anger, sadness, happiness and beauty in all the pictures.

"Maxwell!" Diane's voice echoed through his room. Max glanced at the clock. 5:55. He hurriedly shoved all the pictures in their appropriate categories and put them back in his drawer.

Max ran downstairs, almost tripping on the way, only to find that Liz wasn't there. When his mother noticed the questioning look on his face she laughed.

"Calm down, honey. I just wanted to ask you something."

"Oh," Max said, releasing a breath.

"Has Elizabeth made any.. progress?"

"Mom.. please, don't do this." Max pleaded.

"Do what?"

"Try and drill information out of her. She's... I just don't want this to turn into a 'try and help Liz Parker' intervention. I don't want her to think that I'm pushing her to do anything..."

As Max continued to ramble on, he stopped once he felt his mother's hand on his wrist.

"Okay, Max. I won't. I'll treat her like a normal girlfriend." Diane smirked.

"Thanks mom."

"Well, they should be here any minute now" Diane said while wiping her hands on her apron.

"Yeah." Max replied, pacing around the kitchen.

Michael came into the room.

"Maxwell, a little fidgety much?" He asked mockingly. Max rolled his eyes but continued to pace. "Diane, what are we having for dinner?"

"Chicken Catchetori". She smiled.

"Sounds good." Michael said, reaching in the fridge and pulling out a can of coke. As he was leaving the kitchen he slapped Max playfully on the back and said "Max. Be a man, toughen up."

"At least I don't plan a cooking evening for Liz." Michael blushed slightly before appearing unfazed.

"Maybe not, but you're still whipped." He smirked, and left the room while Max shouted back

"I'm not the only one, Mikey G."

Diane rolled her eyes.

"Boys will be boys." Just then, the doorbell rang and Max rushed to open it, but Diane beat him to it. "Nuh-uh. I'm the hostess." She smiled. Max just laughed, and stood by his mother as she opened it and welcomed Claudia and Liz in.

Max was awestruck when he saw Liz in a pale pink sweater with navy blue hip-hugger jeans on. She looked so cute and innocent, and as she shyly smiled, he exhaled a breath before taking her hand in his and leaning forward to kiss her lightly on the cheek.

"Hey." He smiled, pulling her gently over by his side. "Mom, this is Liz, Liz this is my mother." Diane smiled, extending a hand for Liz to shake. Liz's smile lit up the room and entered the heart of Diane Evans.

"You've made Max so happy, Elizabeth." Diane said with sincerity in her voice, she could tell just from looking at Liz's deep brown eyes that she was a wonderful girl.

"Come on in." Diane said, as she took hold of Claudia's hand and lead the way into the living room. "It's nice to see you again, Claudia."

"Thank you for inviting us." Claudia smiled, allowing Diane to see the resemblance between grandmother and granddaughter. Claudia took a seat on the expensive black leather couch in the living room.

"Oh my.." She stated, glancing at the wall. "Lovely pictures."

"Yes, all were taken by Max." Diane smiled, proud of her son.

"Your house is very modern." Claudia noted and Diane laughed.

"Max, honey, why don't you show Liz around the house." Diane suggested.

Max looked into Liz's face and her expression lit up.

"Come on." He said.
~*~

When Liz saw the dining room, she released her hold of Max's hand and ran over to the old grand piano. A gasp of awe was emmitted from her lips and Max smiled, coming up behind her back, brushing his right arm lightly around her waist as his fingers touched the keys, making a loud, prominent sound echo through the room. Liz looked up to his face, smiling with glee, and he reached his other arm around her waist and placed his hands on the keys, playing Scarborough Fair. Liz immediately recognized the song, only wishing she could hear him sing it. And as if he could read her mind, his voice sprang to life

"Are you going to Scarborough Fair
Parsly, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to the one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine."

"Tell her to make me a cambric shirt
Parsly, sage, rosemary and thyme
Without no seam or needlework
Then she'll be a true love of mine."

"Tell her to find me an acre of land
Parsly, sage, rosemary and thyme
Between the sea and over the sand
Then she'll be a true love of mine..."

Once Max finished the song, Liz looked at him with adoration in her sparkling brown eyes. She turned around in his arms and hugged him tightly, kissing him lightly on the lips. He smiled against her lips, and then once she pulled away she looked into his eyes.

"I used to take piano lessons. I was a little rusty, haven't played in a long time." He chuckled. Liz just continued to look at him in awe, then she reached her hand down and grabbed his from around her waist, intertwining their fingers.
~*~

The last room Max showed her was his. Liz walked in timidly, and the first thing she noticed was the smell. His smell. She looked around the room, and focused her eyes on the framed pictures on his dresser. She walked to his dresser and picked one up, examining it.

"That was me when I was little." He blushed. "There's my mom and my dad." A look of sadness shown on Liz's features, before being takien over with happiness. For the millionth time Max wished he could hear her voice, ask her about everything, but there was nothing he could do.

"Liz.." He started.

Liz's face turned towards the door, and when Max followed her gaze he saw Michael waiting there patiently.

"Max, time for dinner." Michael smirked.

Max could have killed him.
~*~

They all went to their respective seats, with Philip at the head of the table, Diane opposite of Philip, Michael next to Claudia and Liz next to Max.

"Liz, you're a beautiful young lady." Philip said politely. Her response was a shy smile and Max reached for her hand underneath the table. She squeezed his hand, and he gave her a reassuring smile. Liz had to hold herself back from kissing him, from letting him know just how much she cared. She listened as Diane gushed about Max when he was younger.

"He was such a smart-ass. He always knew how to get on the teachers nerves." Diane laughed.

"Mom." Max said prominently, blushing while he did so. Liz looked at his face, smiling, and she curled one leg underneath her, feeling more comfortable and getting more into the stories that Diane told her.

"Well, Liz was a big dreamer when she was younger. At one point she wanted to be a singer, at one time an astronaut, at one time a ballerina. She used to dress up in her pink tutu prancing around the house attempting plies." Claudia smiled at the memory, and when Max glanced to Liz he found her blushing. He chuckled lightly and could't resist kissing her cheek.

The laughter from the table was interrupted by the ringing of the phone. "Excuse me." Philip said, wiping his mouth with his napkin and getting up from the table. He reached into his pocket for his cell phone and went into the other room. Seconds later he came back into the kitchen apologizing.

"I'm sorry to have to leave so soon but a client called and I need to meet him."

"It's okay honey." Diane said, skillfully putting on her fake smile. "We understand."

"I'll be home as soon as I can," Philip said, kissing Diane on the cheek and grabbing his coat.

"It was wonderful to meet you Claudia and Liz." He smiled before walking out the door.

After dinner, Michael left to go to Maria's, and Max and Liz huddled together on the love seat, while Diane and Claudia told more stories.

"Oh." Diane shot up from her seat, "I'll be right back." Max had a bad feeling, and was right when he saw his mom return with a big photo album. She smiled slyly at Max, knowing how embarassed he'd be by this. Diane handed the photo album to Liz, pointing to the pictures of a naked Max as a baby. He was crawling around with a blanket in his hand looking at everything curiously. "He was always very inquisitive. Liked to study and observe everything." Diane smiled, and Max turned a beet red. He ran a hand through his hair, clearly embarassed, trying to hide his face; but when he heard Liz's soft, breathy laughing his heart nearly melted.
~*~

Max didn't want Liz to leave when he saw her and Claudia getting up from their seats.

"Are you sure you don't want to stay longer?" He asked anxiously, "We can make coffee or something."

Diane laughed,

"Max, since when have you become the perfect host?"

Claudia laughed,

"Well, Max. I'm tired and should really be getting home, but I'm sure Liz would like to stay."

Liz nodded happily, before reaching forward and hugging her grandmother gratefully.

"Come over anytime, Claudia." Diane smiled.

"Likewise." Claudia replied.
~*~

Max sat up on his bed, with his back to the headboard and Liz curled up on his lap, resting her head on his chest. He ran his fingers through her luxuriant mane, revelling in it's silky softness.

"I love your hair." Max whispered, inhaling her scent and kissing the crown of her head. They sat there content in the silence, just holding eachother. Max couldn't seem to shake the image he saw of Liz in that picture. The sadness hidden behind her forced smile. "Liz.." She turned her head up to look into his eyes and he continued. "You mean so much to me. And you've done so much for me that I don't think you even realize." He sighed, "But I can't do anything for you. I just, I want to be here for you, to be your shoulder to cry on when you need it, to be the person you can confide in. I want you to trust me, Liz." Max took a breath. "I just.. I wish I could, I wish I could hear your voice." Liz looked at his amber eyes flecked with gold that held a look of helplessness. She swallowed, placing her hand on his chin to turn his head so he could look into her eyes. Her eyes were dark and deep, and they seemed to be glowing, but Max realized the glow in her eyes were slight, misty tears. She placed her tender hand on his cheek before moving it behind his neck and leaning forward to kiss him. Her lips brushed against his softly, and when he thought she was going to pull away, he felt her deepen the kiss. Her other arm locked around his back, pulling him closer to her, and her kiss was full of need. A need that showed him that she needed him. Her kiss was full of gratefullness. A gratefullness that showed him that she was grateful to have him in her life. But mostly, her kiss was full of promise, a promise he returned as he opened his mouth and gently sucked on her upper lip. When they finally broke apart, he peppered her face with soft butterfly kisses on her forehead, her eyes, her cheeks and her lastly returning to her lips.

"Thank you." He said, pulling her into his warm embrace. "I know you love me, it's just so hard sometimes not knowing what you're thinking." Liz rested her head against his chest, hearing the pounding of his heart, and she spotted a paper and a pen on his desk. She gently pulled away from his touch, and his heart sank. "Liz?" He questioned.

She went to his desk, grabbed the pen and wrote something down. When she returned to him, she handed him the folded piece of paper. He slowly unfolded it, never leaving the softness of her doe eyes, until she nodded in reassurance for him to read it.

Max,
Right now I'm thinking about how much I love you. How you make me feel. How you've changed me. Max, I don't think you realize what you are to me. I'm sorry I can't tell you all this, it's just so hard to say it. And sometimes I do want to confide in you so bad that it hurts, but I can't.. because I can't talk. So, from now on I'll write it down. I want you in my life, I want you to be everything you said you'd be. You're right, I don't realize what I am to you, but when you tell me all these things and I hear the love in your voice I feel ashamed that I can't return those words with words of my own. I'm sorry, Max.


Max returned his gaze to her, she was looking down at the ground, biting her lip, with her hands clasped nervously together.

"Liz.." He began, getting up from the bed. "Oh God, Liz." He wrapped his arms around her and rested his forehead against hers. "Don't be ashamed." He grabbed her hand, kissing her lightly on the palm before placing it on his heart. "I love you so much that it hurts. I can't believe how lucky I am to have found you. You're... you're so sweet and caring, and as much as I want to hear your beautiful voice, I can wait. I can read your thoughts now, Liz. We think the same thing." He ended his words with a long, lingering kiss.
~*~


posted on 20-Jun-2002 9:27:28 PM by Wench On A Leash
You know, it's really weird. I didn't realize how much FB I got until I went through writing down all the names to respond to it all. You guys are so great. *big*

roswell_chick101, ILYMEFOREVER, JasonBFan, mpls muse, angelbaby6977, Rapunzel aZNroSweLl anglgrl, abbs007, 2crzy4roswell, frenchkiss70, not_of_this_earth, mitra, flohmac, ps_dreamer, SugarManiac2011, SciFiNut111, rossieaddicted, and the better twin~ THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE FB, HEHE, HAPPY ME! *big*

Kitcat26~ Lol Cath, you're silly. Congratulations on being the first one to post? Lol.

Hehe, yeah, guys seem to get enjoyment over seeing who is more whipped.. and Max certainly is. Lol. And GOLD STAR pour vous!!!.. when Michael interrupted, Max was going to say pretty much the same thing he said to Liz at the end. You're so good, Cath!

shorty828~ Hehe. Yes, the story is starting to move along so the birthday shall come up... umm, eventually. Hehe. =/

SweetLilDreamer~ Aww, thanks.

JaneLane~ Hm, I'm really not sure when she'll speak to Max or if she will. We'll see.. BTW, I LOVE Empire Records and I LOVED Lucas. =) Go you!

Pixie~ Aww, you're so sweet. Hehe, and busy! Jeez, girl, you've got so many fics started and they're all wonderful. Makes me all happy reading them. I'm so glad you're enjoying this story. *happy*

Minanda~ Ooh.. thanks. That's a great compliment. I love when people notice things in my stories.. growing as an individual and a couple.

IceRose~ Lol. I love the way you talk. "wicke", "peace", "man", "spiffy", nice and laid back. Lol, thanks for the FB.

RosBaby~ Wow, with compliments like that, I'm so inspired to write more. Hehe, thanks for the FB. =)

Calinia~ I'm glad you mentioned a friendship between Claudia and Diane. I think they'll be good to help eachother out. =)

LixMix5~ Lol, awww, cornball. Well, a lot of this story is cornball. Cornball can be cuteness. Glad you liked that last part.. Hmm smutt. You know, I was actually thinking about progressing Max and Liz's relationship so that they actually do it, but in fear of ruining it.. I'm not so sure about doing that. Lol.

*Okay, umm.. this next part, I'm not exactly thrilled with. I'm trying to like, get the plot to move along and it seems kinda rushed to me. =/ I tried fixing it a lot and this was the best I could come up with. Hmph.. oh well. And sorry there's no M/L moments in this next part. =/ Hehh... yeah.. okay, here ya go.*

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Max woke up from his deep, peaceful sleep to the piercing ringing of his alarm clock. He slowly opened one eye, his vision blurred from sleep, then the other, and looked at the time. 7:00. He yawned and then proceeded to get ready for school as thoughts of the previous night consumed his mind.

Michael was already downstairs looking pissed when Max finally came down.

"You know, only gay guys take as much time as you do to get ready. That's a chick thing, not a man thing." Michael said with a bitter tone.

"What's crawled up your ass?" Max asked. When Michael didn't answer, he tried again,
"Seriously, what's wrong?"

"Nothing." Michael said, reaching for the car keys. "I'll drive today." Max was too fast for him, grabbing the keys first.

"You know, Michael. You can't keep everything bottled up inside, you should talk about your father-"

"Don't give me that shit, Maxwell. You don't know what it's like."

"Maybe not, but I know that it's not good to hide your emotions." Michael brushed him off, annoyed.

"Maxwell, stop trying to play shrink here. I'll deal with things my own way."

Max quietly claimed defeat. Michael was like a rock, there was no getting to him. Max drove them to school in complete silence.
~*~

Grandma Claudia was sitting peacefully on the porch when she felt Liz come and sit next to her. Claudia turned her head to face Liz and put her wrinkled right hand on Liz's cheek.

"You don't know how happy I am, Lizzy."

Liz hadn't heard Claudia call her Lizzy in so long, the nickname brought memories from long ago to come flooding back at her full force.

"I never thought I'd hear you speak again." Claudia confided, dropping her hand and fixing her gaze to a squirrel running across the street. The two sat in silence, and Liz's memories filled her head, plaguing her with thoughts about her selfishness over the years after her brother and mother's deaths. She felt immeasurable guilt for her mother having tried so hard to make her life normal after Kyle's death; when her mother was dying on the inside. The moment that Liz found out her mother died, she totally lost it. Not just because of the trauma of hearing that her mother took her own life, but from the guilt of not realizing her mother's pain.

Liz swallowed hard, trying to fight the thoughts that were still a burden on her mind.

"Does he know?" Claudia asked, still looking ahead of her. When Liz didn't answer, she clarified herself. "Does he know you spoke.. can speak?"

Liz looked down as more guilt washed over her. Max had done so much for her and she couldn't even bring herself to let him know she had spoken. She slightly shook her head no in response to her grandmother's question.

"Will you speak again..to me?" Claudia asked gently. Liz just ran her trembling fingers through her long dark hair in response. Claudia nodded, a hint of pain marking her strong features.

"I wish I knew what you were thinking, Elizabeth. I wish I knew you like I did when you were 8 years old." She got up slowly and walked back inside, leaving Liz to burrow her face in her hands and deal with the overwhelming pain of guilt that consumed her soul.
~*~

"Hey Max, I hear things are going well between you and Liz." Alex winked, "I think me and Is are getting somewhere too."

"Yeah." Max said, his thoughts elsewhere. Across the hallway, Michael was at his locker with a very pissed off Maria.

"Why are you like this!?" Maria's naturally loud voice echoed through the hallway. Michael clenched his jaw, hating that Maria was making a scene.

"Why are you so over-dramatic?" He retorted. Maria gasped.

"Over-dramatic.. me? I am NOT over-dramatic, if I were over-dramatic, I'd be.. I'd be.." She stammered, thinking faster than speaking.. "I'd be doing this." She took her Coke bottle and poured it over Michael's head before scowling and walking away with a loud "hmph".

Alex and Max shared confused looks as Isabel walked over to them laughing.

"Those two are hilarious." Isabel said.

"I don't know, I think something's wrong with Michael." Max said, watching as Michael slammed his locker shut and walked off in the opposite direction of Maria.

"Well yeah, Michael's an asshole, I personally think Maria could do so much better than him." Isabel voiced, adding her two cents.

Maria came over to the group, trying hard not to cry and her effort was shown when she tried to talk. "He.. he broke up with me." She sniffled, "And he didn't even have a valid reason for it."

"Oh Maria." Alex said, pulling her into a comforting hug. "Don't cry over him." When her sniffling only got louder, Alex tried again. " Hey, come on. If you stop crying I'll take you out for ice cream like I did last year when Tommy McMaulin stood you up." Maria ceased her sniffling.

"Really?" She asked hopefully. Max never really noticed that Maria could be so vulnerable. He'd seen the pissed off side to Maria, but he never saw her break down and cry like that before. He always thought of her more as a Teflon kind of girl. Seeing Maria so hurt made Max angry at Michael for hurting her like that. Once Maria controlled her emotions, she looked over to Max. "Hi Max." She smiled genuinely, "How's Liz?"

"Good." Max replied.

"That's good." Maria said sincerely. "I like the girl, she's really sweet."

"Yeah, she liked you too." Maria immediately calmed down.

"What's not to like about me?" She grinned, "You know, I think she needs to get out more."

"Yeah, she's been doing that."

"No, like, with the girls. Me and Is should teach her about the power of a woman."

"Speaking of the power of a woman." Is broke in, "Did you hear the latest about Tess and Sean?"

"No, spill." Maria demanded.

"Apparently Tess found out Sean was cheating on her with Courtney and is looking for a new guy." The two girls laughed for a while until Maria stopped and blinked.

"I gotta find Michael" She said before storming off. Is turned to Alex,

"You wouldn't, right?" She asked.

"Hmm, I don't think so. The slutty thing doesn't really appeal to me." Alex stated.

Max rolled his eyes,

"Yeah, I gotta get to class now. See ya guys later."

"Hey, what did I tell you about calling me a guy?" Is yelled after him.
~*~

Claudia quietly crept in to Liz's room, seeing her lying curled up on her side with her eyes open. Obviously thinking. Claudia cleared her throat and moved over to the edge of the bed.

"Elizabeth." She said, reaching down and smoothing out her hair in all the tenderness a grandmother gives her granddaughter. "Want to help make chocolate chip cookies?" She spoke in a fragile voice, as if she were speaking to a young child.

Liz didn't speak, but got up and lead the way to the kitchen, remembering how her and her grandmother used to make cookies all the time when they were together, before everything got complicated. As Claudia put all the ingredients for the batter in a bowl, Liz pre-set the oven and then sat down at the kitchen table, remembering the night it rained when she and her grandmother were about to make cookies and they got the call that had changed their lives forever.

Claudia noticed Liz's troubled expression and cleared her throat.

"Lizzy, honey. Come help me lay out the cookies." There was that name again. Lizzy. Liz suppressed the thoughts of long ago that were propelling themselves into her mind as she got up and shaped the batter in her hands, rolling the dough to a perfect ball before placing them on the cookie tray. When they were done and Claudia set the tray in the oven, they sat across from one another at the kitchen table.

"My grandmother always told me to never leave the kitchen when you're cooking." Claudia smiled gently, and Liz was refreshed by that sudden insight into her grandmother's past. "That's why I always told you to do the same, Elizabeth." Claudia covered Liz's hand with her own and sighed. "I wish your..." her voice lowered and she spoke in almost a whisper, "family could see you now." Liz fixed her grandmother with a strong gaze, her forehead crinkled in question, as if a sudden thought came to her. "Lizzy?" Claudia asked with worry in her trembling voice. The words that seeped from Liz's lips in the form of a soft, struggled whisper shocked her.

"How.. did Kyle.. really die?"
~*~

Max heard the phone ring as he walked into his house, he answered it only to find his dad on the other end.

"Hi son. Listen, I've got a really great case that I'm working on and I won't be home until really late tonight. Tell your mother I love her." Then the line clicked off. Max rolled his eyes,

"My dad's such an asshole." He said outloud to no one in particular. He shook his head and looked up to find Michael with his arms crossed.

"You seriously don't realize how good you have it. Your father works all the time, bringing home the money while your mother helps people." Michael walked over to Max, standing right in front of him. "Do you know what it's like to not have a mother? To be stuck with an alcoholic father who you hate but love at the same time?" Michael made his eyes level with Max's, as his anger was piling up, his voice started getting louder. " And then try so hard.." Michael clenched his fist, "So fucking hard to.." he turned around and slammed his fist against the wall.

Max just stood in silence, not knowing what to do or say after hearing that. Michael turned back to look at him.

"You don't know what it's like." He said.. "You just don't know." He shook his head. Max looked down and Michael snorted, "You must think I'm a real asshole to Maria." He looked around the room self-consciously before lowering his voice, "But I'm doing this for her."

"Why?" Max asked slowly.

"I'm afraid", Michael said in exasperation.

"Afraid of what?" Michael looked around, finding it hard to answer

"Afraid of becoming like him." Max nodded letting the silence of the house engulf him.
~*~

The color drained from Claudia's face at Liz's words.

"What really happened to Kyle?" She heard it repeated, echoing in her mind over and over again. When she looked into Liz's large, determined brown eyes seeking answers, Claudia cleared her throat ready to answer truthfully, in defeat. She opened her mouth and hesitated, and that moment of hesitation saved her from facing her granddaughter, because in that moment a knocking came at the door. Liz's eyes were glazed with unshed tears when Claudia silently got up and answered the door.

Diane Evans appeared at the doorway,

"I hope I'm not interrupting anything."

"No, we were just baking cookies." Claudia voiced gently as she lead Diane into the kitchen. Liz stood up, covering her thoughts and feelings that had once been evident on her face with a forced smile. Diane worked with enough teenagers to be able to read their expressions.

"What's wrong?" Diane asked with concern. Liz shook her head, signifying that nothing was wrong. The ringing of the oven sounded, and Claudia got the cookies out.

"Just in time." She said, nervously. The three stood in awkward silence before Claudia asked Diane if she could help her with anything.

"Well, I just." Diane began, "Maybe we should all sit down for this." She smiled. Claudia ushered them all into the living room. Diane looked around, "You're house is very comfy.. very homey. Reminds me of when I was a kid." Claudia smiled, wondering what Diane had to say about things. "Anyway, Liz, I've heard that you were making more progress recently, opening up, and making friendships." Diane shared a smile with Claudia, and Claudia immediately calmed down. "I spoke to your grandmother about this before. Basically, to get to the matter cut and dry, how would you like to attend public school?"

Grandma Claudia and Diane sat in silence, waiting for Liz's reaction. Liz heard the words Diane was speaking.. "Progress... opening up." It was true that Liz was progressing, at a tremendous rate in fact, but she didn't know if she was ready for public school. When Liz's face shown no emotion, but the blank stare that it once held, Claudia got worried.

"Elizabeth?" She asked hesitantly. Liz looked at Claudia with pleading eyes when Diane spoke up.

"You don't have to decide yet. We could start you up for the second semester, and that doesn't start until January. You have a couple months to think about it." Diane stood up. "Take as much time as you need, honey." Liz and Claudia stood up as well, and Liz nodded in understanding. Diane leaned forward and hugged Liz in a gentle embrace. When she pulled back, she looked Liz in the eyes and smoothed a stray strand of hair behind her ear. "I've always wanted a daughter." Diane said. Liz was surprised and flattered by her words, and she smiled self-consciously and continued to stand there awkwardly. "Well, I better get home before I find Michael and Max at eachother's throats."
~*~

posted on 30-Jun-2002 9:26:46 PM by Wench On A Leash
Hiya everybody, it's me. Hehe.. and I come baring gifts. Or umm... a gift, rather. Hehe... an update? A very short one, but an update. =/ I know, I know, I should have had one sooner, but well.. I was plagued with that horrible disease we all know and "love" as writer's block.

Anyway...
mitra, NATEVANS, the better twin, shorty828, zANroSweLl anglgrl, angelbaby 6977, flohmac, ps_dreamer, marteloise, frenchkiss70, Rapunzel, not_of_this_earth, 2crzy4roswell, Calinia, Bubbles, RosBaby, alien614, FIREBLUEGURL13, roswellluver, Clair, and ISLANDGIRL5~ Thank you all sooo much for the FB and the bumps! ^_^ You guys are the greatest!!

Pixie~ No... not the turkey blaster! Anything but that!! *hides in a corner*.

Kitcat26~ Hehe. Michael and Maria are fun!! =) Hehe, and I LOVE Alex too, wish I had a friend like him. Yaya! I surprised you! That's always fun to do. I just love your FB. =)

SciFiNut111~ Michael and Max seem to be helping each other out a bit.

IceRose~ Lol. Back in 9th grade I got all A's... then I entered "Honors English" which consisted of more essays than creative writing and started getting *gasp* B+'s! Lol

SweetLilDreamer~ Lol. Evils of the public school system.

emmie~ Michael's afraid of becoming like his dad. Hehe, sorry I didn't make that more clear. As for the way Kyle died.. well, you'll see. Claudia did tell the truth, but only half of it. ;) You shall find out the rest... soon.

Cinder~ You'll find out how Kyle died and it doesn't have anything to do with Jeff's estrangement.. although he'll be coming up soon and well.. bwah, you'll see. Lol.

abbs007~ You shall find out =)

Minanda~ Aww, thanks. Hehe, I'm all blushing now.

Faith Evans!~ Wow. O_O. You reading this and liking it is flattering in and among itself. Hehe, I'm honoured.

Eerie~ Yaya! You're enjoying this too? I'm double flattered.

DMatahari~ *blushes* Wow. Thanks. That's such a wonderful compliment. I only hope the story continues to do so and will live up to your expectations. Hehe..

Thanks again everyone and sooo sorry for the long wait.

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

Diane returned home to find Michael and Max standing across from eachother, completely silent. "And here I thought leaving you two alone for so long, the house would be torn to shreds." She smiled good naturedly.

"Hi Mom." Max said. Michael grabbed a Coke out of the fridge and trudged along upstairs while Diane noted his sulleness. "Is something wrong with him?" Max shook his head,

"He's just Michael. You never know what goes on in his mind." Diane pondered this for a while, deciding she'd have a talk with him later.

"Well, I was just at Claudia's."

"How's Liz?" Max suddenly perked up. Diane smirked,

"She's fine. Listen, I discussed it with Claudia and we mentioned Liz attending school with you. We think that it would be in her best interest to be in a more social setting."

"What did she think about it?" Max asked, dumbfounded. He had mixed feelings about Liz going to school with him. He would love to be able to see her beautiful face more often, but he was aware of how she retreated back into herself when she encountered Sean and Tess.

"Well, she looked.. confused. I told her I'd give her time to think about it. It would be perfect to start her up for the second semester session." Max nodded, looking towards the door. Diane smiled,

"Go ahead."

"Be back later mom." Max kissed her on the cheek before practically running out the door.

Diane grinned at his retreating form and then looked towards the stairs, hearing the loud rantings of Rage Against The Machine making their way throughout the house. She headed up the stairs and knocked on Michael's door.
~*~

"These cookies smell good, don't they Lizzy?" Claudia asked, wiping her hand on her apron, trying to get Liz's mind off of Kyle. It wasn't working. Liz continued to give Claudia a pleading, questioning look.
She didn't understand why Claudia was hesitating so much. All her life Liz was told the half truth, everything under a sugar-coated lie. Liz was tired of half-truths and wanted to know exactly what happened that day. That horrendous day it was raining and her mother got in a car accident, killing her twin brother. Claudia studied Liz's face, reading the question of 'why' marked in clear confusion on her features.

"Elizabeth. You know what happened." Claudia said. Liz shook her head no, she only knew half of what happened. There was more to the story. "He died in that car accident. It was rainy and.." Claudia saw Liz's anger and hurt in her face. She knew all this already. Claudia took a deep breath.. "Hit and run.. they never found the driver of the other car.. they think he was.."

A knocking sounded at the door, snapping Claudia away from finishing her sentence. Liz stood up, quickly walking to the door. She flung it open, ready to kill whoever was there, but when she saw Max's soulful amber eyes shine with love for her, all her previous thoughts were pushed aside.

"Hi Liz." He said, pulling her into a hug and kissing her on the cheek. Liz's lips contorted into a small smile as she led him into the kitchen.

"Hi there, Max. We just spoke to your mother." Claudia said.

"Yeah, she told me."

"Would you like a cookie?" Claudia held the basket full of freshly baked cookies towards him.

"Thanks." He said, reaching for one and gulping it down in two swift bites. He proceeded to lick the crumbs off his hand when he noticed Claudia and Liz eyeing him with a hint of mirth in their eyes'.

"Umm.. cookies are my favorite." He said, quickly dropping his hand down to his side. Liz and Claudia both raised their brows at the same time before Liz tugged on Max's arm and led him to her bedroom. The first thing she did after she closed the door was walk over to her vanity and sit down. Max furrowed his brows in confusion and stood behind her. She saw his reflection in the mirror and smiled at him. The playful smile she gave him made him chuckle lightly and he began running his fingers through her hair, still confused as to why she went to her vanity.

Liz grabbed a pen and flipped through the pages of her notebook, finding a free page to write on. Max realized she was going to write to him and before she put the pen to paper he kneeled down, hugging her from behind. Liz smiled and turned her head to face him when he seized the moment and captured her lips in a soft and gentle kiss. She turned back around and grabbed the pen again, ready to write when she felt his soft lips claim her neck. He was placing feather-light kisses along her neck and she giggled at the ticklesh sensation when she suddenly felt a flicker of his tongue on the pulse of her neck. Her eyes bulged open in surprise, finding his reflection in the mirror. She saw him placing gentle kisses along her collar bone and she felt an overpowering sensation of love and intimacy shoot through her body. She reached her hand behind her, gently threading her fingers through his tawny brown hair.

Max suddenly stopped what he was doing and then stood up.

"Sorry." Liz saw his face pinkening in the reflection of the mirror and whipped her head around to look at him. He looked down, ashamed. Liz stood up and captured his right hand in her left, lacing their fingers together while looking him in the eyes and bringing her right hand up to lift his chin so that his his eyes were level with hers. She tilted her head to the side in wonder before realizing that he was embarassed for his actions. Liz gave him a smile and stood up on her tiptoes to place a kiss on his forehead. All it took was that simple kiss to make Max feel his heart swell at her innocent way of reassuring him what he did was okay. He closed his eyes, savoring the moment with her arms wrapped around his neck and her forehead against his. After Liz was confident that Max knew it was alright, she pulled away and smirked at him before sitting down and writing. Max smiled, laid down on Liz's bed and couldn't help but watch her as she write.
~*~

Diane sat across from Michael in his room. She had been sitting for the last half hour, waiting for him to talk.

"Michael. You know I'm not going to leave until you say something." She said. He crossed his arms over his chest and looked her in the eye. She fixed him with a stronger, more powerful look that showed she wasn't bluffing.

"Why did you take me in?" Michael asked. The question surprised Diane, mostly because she didn't really have an answer.

"I don't know. I just had this feeling." Diane said truthfully. "You know, you told me before about your father." She mentioned cautiously. "Is he the reason you're so gloomy today?" Gloomy was hardly the word for his behavior.

"It's his birthday." Michael said, lowering his voice.

"I see." Diane replied, completely understanding why Michael wasn't acting like himself. "Getting bad memories of him?" Michael didn't answer. "Okay." She said, standing up. "What do you want for dinner?"

"What?" Michael asked.

"I said what do you want for dinner?"

"No.. you're not going to ask any more questions?"

"Well, I got the answer I needed to know. Everything else is your business, Michael. I'm not going to pry, if you want to tell me, you can do so on your own. I never liked it when people pryed into my life." With that, Diane walked out of the room.

The phone rang and Diane answered, hoping to hear from her husband.

"Hey mom, I'm going to be having dinner over here." She could practically hear Max smiling over the phone.

"Okay."

"Oh yeah, and dad called earlier saying that he'd be home late. Something about working on another case."

"Oh, well, what's new?" Diane joked.

"See you later, mom."

"Bye."

Diane hung up the phone and closed her eyes willing herself not to break down now. She had lasted so long with Philip hardly ever home, off being a hero to someone else. Lately, it seemed like he had been gone more and more. She was starting to have her suspicions about him and his fidelity. She sighed and turned around to find Michael standing there.

"Michael." She said, surprised to see him.

"Need any help cooking?"

"That's right, I hear you enjoy cooking." She smiled.

"Huh, says who?"

"Well, I did hear something about you wanting to cook for Maria." Diane teased. Michael blushed,

"Will I ever hear the end of that?"

"Not while living in this house."
~*~

Liz finally stood up, walked over to the bed and reached her hand out to hand him the letter. Max looked up into her beautiful eyes and a playful smirk crossed his lips. Liz caught on to it too late, when she felt him tug her down next to him on the bed. She giggled and Max relished in the deep breathy sound coming from her lips. That was all he could get from her. She snuggled up next to him, resting her head on his shoulder and Max kissed her on the forehead before opening up the letter and reading it.

Max,
You say you want to know how I feel. I know you know how I feel about you, that much is very clear. Outside of me loving you, my feelings are hard to describe. Hard to share. You're the first person I can actually trust. I want you to know that.

I know you know about Kyle. But you don't know what I do about him. I can't say what it is because I'm not even sure about the truth, no one ever told me the whole truth..not even grandma. The main thing is that he's gone and so are my mom and dad. My feelings for all of them are guilt. Overwhelming pangs of guilt that I can't even begin to explain. I want you to know that I don't want your pity, though. I see the concern and the wonder in your eyes, and I thank you for that. I don't want you to constantly be worrying about me though. That's all that I can really say about Kyle and my mom.

There's something that you need to know though. One more thing that I should have told you yesterday. I'm afraid to tell you, I know that's crazy, but I am. It's the guilt thing again. I can speak. I spoke to my grandmother. When I say speak, I mean small fragments. Bits and pieces of sentences, hushed mumblings. The thing is, I can only speak to my grandmother. I tried with you, you know. That night you serenaded me. I tried my hardest. The thing is, I can't bring myself to talk to you. I can't exactly explain the reason why. People seem to have certain expectations, certain images they picture in their head. I'm scared that you'll picture my voice being normal. When the truth is that it's not. Believe me, if I ever speak to anyone besides my grandmother it will be you, but I just can't. I can't, not yet. Please understand.
Love,
Elizabeth


posted on 28-Jul-2002 3:45:13 PM by Wench On A Leash
Umm... hehe.. anyone remember me? =/ I have come backith.. mwah haha.. and with.. yes, an update. *Gasp*. Okay, yeah, I'm in a weird mood. I'm SO SO SO SORRY for the extremely long delay. It's summer, I've been busy going to a bunch of fun concerts and looking for jobs and all this hectic, crazy stuff... I've also fallen victim to all the wonderful fics on this board. Hehe.. so, there's my excuse. I hope I can be forgiven. *angel*

Well... wow, lots and lots of FB, thank you for all the bumps, you guys are awesome!

Rapunzel, Eerie, Faith Evans, the better twin, roswellluver, PIxie, Sweet Lil Dreamer, not_of_this_earth, mitra, Jason B Fan, angelbaby6977, IceRose, Moonlit Jade, tyranese, ps_dreamer, frenchkiss70, cermel, Calinia, Nana, Bubbles, marteloise, Kat7581568, and ISLANDGIRL5... Wow, thanks for all that FB. =)

mpls_muse~ Thanks for the FB, I'm glad that it said a lot to you. It's a huge compliment. =)

NATEVANS~ Ooh, thanks. You're right, I know I read stories and it amazes me as to how much the author isn't aware how many people love that story. There are so many talented writers on this board, it's crazy. But thanks for that bit of inspiration and I'm sorry for the long delay.

KitCat26~ Aww, your FB always makes me happy. =) I'm so glad you enjoy this fic so much and I promise Claudia will tell Liz soon.

emmie~ Yeah, Max remembers the picture of Jeff. He gave that to Claudia because he thought it should be her who shows Liz the picture when she thinks Liz is ready.

abbs007~ There is a reason for Philip's absense so much... that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Minanda~ Thank you, your FB is so sweet. =)

2crzy4roswell~ Hehehe. To clear that up for you, Kyle was killed in the accident, and Nancy became suicidal and killed herself 5 years after his death. Hope that helps.

shorty828~ Liz's voice is "different" because she hasn't spoken in so long. It'd be kind of like.. trying to walk after an accident and a long period of being in a wheelchair or something. You know?

RosBaby~ Hehe. After my long absense I am back... all will be revealed soon. Hopefully.

LixMix5~ Yeah, this story would not be very fitting for "smut". Lol. >_< I shudder at the thought, it would so ruin the basis of the fic. Lol. I love how everyone is enjoying this underlying story of Michael. He's a very fun character to write. =)

And now... for your wonderful patience...

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

Liz bit her lip as she watched Max sit up and read the letter, hoping he would understand. It seemed like it was taking forever. Max read it three times before he actually comprehended what Liz was trying to tell him. He didn't want her to be afraid to tell him things. He closed his eyes, slowly taking in everything she said. The main thing was that Liz was speaking, that she could speak, as for Kyle's death, that was something they could find out together.

Max looked Liz in the eyes, she was still biting her lip nervously waiting for his reply.

"Liz." He said softly, reaching for her and pulling her into a comforting hug. "Listen to me. You can tell me anything. You don't have to be afraid of me, Liz. I understand how hard it must be for you, going through what you are going through and the more you tell me how you feel the more I can try and understand. I'll be here for you." He kissed her forehead before taking a deep sigh. "So you spoke, huh?" He couldn't help but smile at the notion. She nodded her head, a look of guilt marking her beautiful face as she looked down in shame. "Oh Liz, don't feel bad. I don't care that you didn't talk to me as long as you spoke." She still didn't look up at him. "Hey," Max said, gently sweeping his hand under her chin to make her eyes level with his. He saw a sprinkle of tears flood her eyes and knew she was trying not to cry. "It's okay, Liz." He immediately touched his forehead to hers, wrapping his arms around her and running his fingers soothingly through her hair. "It's okay. Don't feel bad, Liz. Please don't do this to yourself." Liz continued to cry, her hands tightening on his shirt collar,and Max could hear her sniffling. He softly cooed comforting words into her hair.
~*~

Claudia was scrounging around the kitchen with the sauce bubbling and the water boiling as she was cooking pasta. Her thoughts were occupied with how she would tell Liz the complete truth about Kyle's death. She knew she would have to do it eventually, Liz wasn't stupid, she had a sense of what was going on, and frankly, Claudia knew she wouldn't be able to keep something so important from her grand-daughter's life. Claudia sighed after she poured the noodles into the boiling water when she heard the phone ring. She wiped her hands on her apron and answered,

"Hello?"

"Mom?"

Claudia looked around the kitchen, making sure Liz wasn't there. "Jeff, honey. You haven't called in a week, is everything okay?"

"Yeah, listen mom. I think I've found the guy."

"Really? After all these years."

"Yeah, I'm not entirely positive, I'll have to check some more."

"Oh." Claudia clutched her chest, "I can't believe it. We'll finally have closure and some justice."

"Yeah, mom. And I'll finally be able to rest at night and come back to Liz. How is she doing?"

"She's good, excellent actually." Claudia said, smiling as she thought of Liz's progress.

"I wish I could be there for her right now. I'm just not ready yet."

"It's okay, I understand. Please keep me notified on what's going on." Claudia begged.

"I will. Listen, I better get back on the reasearch. Love you, mom."

Claudia hung up the phone feeling a glimmer of hope scorch through her. She smiled, humming a soft melody as she continued cooking dinner for Max, Liz and herself.
~*~

"Well, it looks like this succulent meal will be just for the two of us." Diane joked.

"Oh well, I'm starving." Michael announced.

They set the table and sat down, silently eating dinner.

"So, how's Maria?" Diane asked. Michael looked up from his fork full of food.

"I thought you weren't going to pry."

"Hey, it doesn't hurt to try. Besides, I'm just wondering how she's doing. I think it would be wonderful to have her over for dinner with Liz and Claudia." Diane smiled. Michael rolled his eyes,

"Yeah, well, me and Maria are kinda on the outs right now."

"Ah." Diane smirked, "The ever-famous on again, off again relationship. At least you two will never get bored with eachother." Michael shook his head.

"I don't know, I think this might be it."

"Well, you never.."

The doorbell rang, and a very surprised Diane excused herself from the dinner table to answer it, only to find a blubbering Maria at the door.

"Is.. is Michael there?" She sniffled.

"Oh dear, yes he is.. come on in." Diane put her arm around Maria and guided her into the kitchen. Michael stood up as soon as he saw her crying.

"Maria?" He questioned.

"I'll leave you two alone." Diane said, turning to go upstairs.

"Don't.. don't you Maria me." Maria said, starting to sound like her normal self. Michael looked surprised. The girl was crying one minute and yelling the next. He would never understand the way her brain ticked.

"What?"

"Okay, I want some answers, Michael. So spill." Michael folded his arms over his chest in a defensive manner.

"What are you talking about?"

"Today. You've been acting weird all day. I know something out of the ordinary is totally pissing you off and you won't even tell me. Okay, I can understand if you don't want me to know. You don't want to let me in... yet. But you don't have to take it out on me. I mean, Jeezus, Michael. I'm your girlfriend, I didn't think I was some cheap whore that you could make-out with whenever you were feeling horny and wanted to.. to... satisfy your needs. I thought I was more than that. A relationship works in two ways. One being with trust and the other being in.. in.. well, trust is a big issue." Maria continued to ramble as Michael watched her with his jaw dropping open. He blinked, trying to understand what she was saying.

"Maria." He said.

"And you just.."

"Maria!" He said louder, "Calme down. Take a deep breath." Maria glared at him.

"You think this is funny, don't you?" She said.

"Maria, come on, let's sit down."

"Oh, so now you're being the 'I'm the mature one of this relationship' kind of guy, huh?" Michael rolled his eyes as he grabbed her arm and guided her to the living room, planting her on the couch.

"Maria. I don't think of you as a.. thing. Okay, I care about you." Maria scoffed at that,

"Yeah right."

"Please Maria, hear me out, okay?" Maria took a deep breath, waiting for him to continue.

"When it comes to my family, I don't talk much about them, you know that." Maria nodded. "Okay, well, my family consists of me and my dad." Maria was trying not to grow impatient as she listened. "Yeah, okay, you know that already too. Anyway, umm, the way I was brought up, it sucked. Okay, to put it blunty, it sucked. To have an alocholic father who would abuse you is just.." His voice trailed on in defeat.

Maria finally took hold of his hand, looking him in the eyes.

"Michael. You didn't have to tell me all that. But thank you, for letting me in." She hugged him. "I'm sorry for acting like a big baby." Michael hugged her back, his grip tightening on her. For as much arguing as they did, she was the only one who seemed to be able to comfort him. When Maria pulled away, she grinned the ever-famous Maria grin.

"You know, you still have to cook for me one of these days." Michael gave her a death-glare. "Oh, enough with those 'I'm such a hardass' glares, Michael. I know that you only do it out of love." She smirked.

Diane came down the stairs, clearing her throat loudly.

"Oh, hi Mrs. Evans. I'm sorry about my horrible entrance." Maria said, immediately standing up to apologize. Diane waved off her apology.

"Don't worry about it, honey." She glanced at the two teenagers. "I see you and Michael have made amends." She smiled. "We were just in the middle of dinner when you came, would you like to join us? There's plenty of food."

"That's great, I'm famished." Michael silently wished Max would come back. Being alone in a house with one woman was enough, but now two? He was certainly in for it.
~*~

"Dinner's ready!" Claudia called out cheerily. A few minutes later she saw Max and Liz approaching the kitchen and taking their respective seats.

"Mm, that smells good." Max announced.

"Thank you, Max." Claudia smiled as she placed the bowl of spaghetti on the table, the aroma of the sauce wafting through the air. "Help yourselves."

They all dug in, and Claudia watched the expressions on their faces. She loved cooking, especially to see people's reactions. If she were younger, she would have loved to own a restaurant and do some cooking for it. During dinner Claudia couldn't help but notice the looks Liz was giving to her. She knew she'd have to be getting around to telling her as soon as Max left the house. Claudia braced herself for the news. She would mention everything about Kyle, with the exception of Jeff's current findings. As far as Liz knew her father was far away. But if all went well, Liz would know the whole truth and become fully healed in only a matter of time.

After dinner, Max thanked Claudia for the wonderful meal and attempted to help Liz clear off the table only to be availed with Liz shaking her head no forcefully.

"Come on, Liz, let me help." He came up next to her and grabbed a plate, but Liz was stubborn and stuck to her word. She grabbed the plate from his hands, bumping him aside with a swing of her hips. Max nearly choked on his tongue when she did that.

"Um, excuse me." His voice was a pitch higher. "I need to use the restroom."

Liz looked after Max in puzzlement as Claudia forced herself not to laugh. Her poor, innocent grand-daughter. She certainly had been sheltered. Suddenly Claudia felt some sense of remorse on the new feelings that Liz must be encountering with Max. The poor child didn't know much about the opposite sex and what things could lead to. Suddenly Claudia became worried, the thought hadn't crossed her mind before. Maybe she should have a discussion with Max. No, that would probably embarass him to no end. Max came back into the kitchen, giving a shy smile as he asked if he could do any more to help out. Claudia shook her head.

"We've got it covered, Max."

"Okay. I should probably be getting home then." Max said as he walked over to Liz, kissing her on the cheek. "See you, Liz." He smiled. She laced her hand with his and walked him to the door placing a chaste kiss on his lips.

"Love you." Max said softly so only she could hear him.
~*~


posted on 10-Aug-2002 4:40:16 PM by Wench On A Leash
Aww, all of you guys are so sweet. Hehe. FB really is appreciated, it helps inspire me to write more.

So...

Alien614, Rapunzel, mitra, frenchkiss70, angelbaby6977, JaneLane, the better twin, shorty828, Elc, roswellluver, JasonBFan, ForeverDreaming8602, ps_dreamer, Nana, Calinia, Ner, 2crzy4roswell, emmie, abbs007, JDreamer and rossieaddicted~ Thank you much for the wonderful FB. *happy*

Kitcat26~ Wow, Cath, you're good, huh? You bump and I immediately have my new part out for ya. Lol, are you psychic or something? o_O Lol, Maria being a Michiganian.. lol, I wouldn't be surprised considering she's gifted with the wonderful BLESSING =P (See, I didn't call it a curse that time), of rambling. Lol, glad you enjoyed that last part, and I can't WAIT until you post more of SIRT and SOF. I just LOOOOVE those fics, but you know that already.

NATEVANS~ Lol. Don't worry, Claudia won't embarass Max like that. It'd be too awkward for him if she interrogated him about sex and what not with her grand-daughter. Although it would make for an amusing part. Thanks for the bump, you're wonderful!

SweetLilDreamer~ You'll find out about Kyle's death in time, and as for sweet love making between Max and Liz, I'll keep that burrowed in the back of my mind. Lol.

TrueLoveConquersAll~ Wow, I love getting FB like that. It is truly inspiring. Thank you so much, I enjoy writing Max and Liz as much as you enjoy reading about them. Writing Michael and Maria is just a blast, and yeah, everyone just loves Alex. Noticably the whole stargazer couple is hard for me to write considering I dislike Isabel a lot. Lol, but hey, I'm attempting here. I guess they're just the "are they or aren't they" kinda couple, ya know? Lol. It's good to know you like the way I'm writing all the characters, sometimes it gets really hard to keep them on track and everything. Thanks for that wonderful boost of confidence!

Minanda~ Love your insight. *wink*

Faith Evans~ Hmm, when you say "involved", exactly what do you mean? *wink* *And not dirty-like* I'm not trying to like, reference one of those sexual innuendos. Hehe.

mpls_muse~ *big* Yaya! My writing made you smile.*happy* Teeheehee. GLad you like how I write Max and Liz's interaction with one another. Thanks for the FB.

Areilya~ Aww, thanks, you've got me blusing. *angel*

Alright, you guys ready for the next part? I must admit I don't think it's as good as I'd like it to be, I tried my hardest re-reading it and editing it and I just can't think of a better way to move the plotline forward, so this'll have to do. I apologize in advance for the slight suckehness this may bring you. =/ K, enough of my Blessed rambling, right Cath *tongue*

Here goes nothing..

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

As soon as Max left, Liz walked right up to her grandmother, fixing her large doe eyes on Claudia's blue ones. The look on her face showed that she wanted to know, and the crinkle in her forehead from her brows nitted firmly together shown her determination. Claudia sighed in defeat, her wrinkled face flickering with sadness in her eyes.

"Liz, sit down." Her voice was soft. Liz continued to gaze into her grandmother's eyes, never breaking their hold as she made her way over to the couch. Claudia paced around the small living room, trying to think of a proper way to say this. "I don't know how to tell you this.." She began, letting her sentence trail on as she reluctantly looked Liz in the eyes. The pleading look of question that shown in her grand-daughter's curious eyes was too much, and Claudia knew she couldn't deny Liz from the truth any longer. Her mind scrambled and finally she decided to tell it like it was...
~*~

"I'm home!" Max shouted as he closed the door behind him, unable the wipe the smirk off his face. He felt like he was glowing everywhere, and all because of one Elizabeth Parker. Michael emerged from the kitchen, whispering

"Thank God you're back, Max. I've been stuck here with Maria and your mom in a heated debate over General Hospital." Max just grinned in response. "I can see you've had a wonderful day." Michael winked.

"Yeah, I did." Michael raised a brow and shook his head.

"You," he slapped Max playfully on the back "my friend, have got it bad." Max just shrugged, he was feeling love. Love from a girl who hadn't spoken a word to him. Had it been a couple years ago, he would have laughed at the word 'love', and the possibility to ever love someone and be loved so completely in return, but now he was feeling this powerful force that he couldn't deny to anyone. "Dude, snap out of it, man. You're becoming more girlish every day." Michael's words brought Max out of his daydream.

"Michael! Get your butt in here now!" Maria's powerful voice echoed throughout the house and it was Max's turn to raise his brow as Michael nearly rushed back into the kitchen.

"And you say I've got it bad." Max snickered at Michael's retreating form, and in response Michael stuck his middle finger up, causing Max to burst into a powerful fit of laughter. He hadn't been this happy in... a long time.
~*~

"Yes, it was an accident... yes, it was a hit and run, but what I haven't told you was that the driver was drunk." Claudia fixed her eyes on her grand-daughter's, waiting for her response. Liz raised an eyebrow, expecting more. Claudia ran a shaky hand through her gray hair, "We don't know how he got away, but the driver had to have been going at leat 80 mph and witnesses say that the car swerved a lot and ran the red light. I think the reason he got away was because of the rain that day. Nobody could catch the license plate number or what he looked like." Liz closed her eyes, taking in what she was hearing. Why hadn't they caught the driver? "Elizabeth?" Claudia questioned, and Liz opened her eyes with a blank, unreadable expression forming on her face. Oh God, not again. Claudia thought. "Liz?" Claudia rushed to kneel in front of her grand-daughter.

Liz's face remained blank, the only sign emmanent was the palor that had touched upon her cheeks. Liz couldn't believe she hadn't been told all this sooner. If she was told half of what happened, why wasn't she told the whole truth? How could she ever look her grand-mother in the eye knowing that she had kept something so important from her for all these years.

"Please Liz, look at me." Claudia pleaded, taking Liz's limp hands in hers. Claudia was nearly in tears when Liz did nothing, her hands remaining lifeless and her eyes unreadable like they used to be so long ago before they moved here. Claudia would have been happy if Liz had shown some sort of reaction, whether it was anger or hurt or sadness, Claudia wouldn't have felt as she did now. The horror of not knowing if Liz would snap out of her emotionless stature was the worst feeling ever.

After what seemed like hours, Liz disentangled her hands from Claudia's and stood up. Claudia watched Liz walk slowly, almost robotically, into her room and close the door behind her. Just when Liz was getting somewhere, just when Liz was talking... this would happen. Claudia closed her eyes, feeling a pain in her chest, and silently condemned herself.
~*~

There the three sat on the couch, Maria wedged on the sofa between Max and Michael, laughing and throwing popcorn at each other. Max had to admit, Maria and Michael were anything but boring. One minute they were pissed at each other, refusing to talk as stubborn as ever, and the next they were playing like young children. Max noticed the smile on Michael's face. He hadn't ever seen Michael smile like that before, a sly smirk, yes. A pompous grin, yes. But a genuine smile of happiness, never. This prompted Max to leave the room as discreetely as possible to retrieve his camera.

He'd returned to find Michael and Maria still throwing popcorn at one another, screeching and laughing the whole time. They hadn't seemed to notice his absense, or they had been so wrapped up in each other that they never even noticed he was there in the first place. Max smiled, snapping a picture as soon as Maria pounced on Michael, pouring the bowl of popcorn over his head while he tickled her sides mercilessly in response. Max was glad he hadn't had a flash on his camera, although for some reason he figured that even if he had, they wouldn't have noticed.

No longer wanting to be the third-wheel, Max decided to take a nice long walk by himself as the evening approached and the outside grew dark. He would be able to catch up on his pictures, lately he hadn't been taking as many as he used to. As he walked along the street, his thoughts returned to Liz. He thought of how long he had known her, since September. Ever since he met her the days didn't seem quite so long, the weeks brushed by even faster and the months sweeped by him. It was now December and he knew her 18th birthday was coming up soon. He wanted to give her something special, something that would touch her and let her know what she meant to him. He looked down at the camera strapped around his neck and smiled.
~*~

Liz had been in her room contemplating everything she learned. She soaked up the information Claudia fed her and couldn't help but wonder if there was anything else her grand-mother was hiding from her. She ran a hand through her long silky hair before resting her hands on her temple, slowly massaging her forehead. She willed herself not to cry over this, she had done enough crying lately and wanted to remain strong. She wanted to be able to pull herself together and get through this. She was tired of always wondering, tired of being watched. At her own choice she had stayed locked away inside her home, feeling safe tucked away from the rest of the world.

She looked out of her bedroom window, knowing how wonderful it had felt to be outside with Max. When she was with him, the pain and hurt that she felt wrapped up inside her from her family seemed to dissipate. Max had done what no one in her family was able to do, he was able to make her feel again. He was able to make her believe in trust and goodness in the world. It was Max who opened her up to things, new things. And now she wanted to experience more in life, she yearned for some freedom, yearned for friendship, and with those thoughts she made her decision. She would go to public school. It wasn't a massive change, but it was a step in the right direction.

The gentle strumming of a guitar filled her thoughts as the familiar melody of Landslide emerged from outside. Liz couldn't help but smile as she opened up her window and looked down to find none other than Alex perched against the oak tree playing his guitar. She glanced quickly at the picture of her family on her dresser, her mother calmly strumming the guitar with Kyle and Liz on either side of her while her father looked like the happiest man in the world.

Friendships, Liz thought. And with that, she climbed out of her window, not wanting to deal with her grand-mother just yet, and into the backyard.

Alex hadn't noticed her approach him until he finished playing the Fleetwood Mac song and looked up to see a shy smile on her lips. Max was one lucky guy, he thought. Alex noticed the way Liz looked at the guitar and he scooted over to make room, signaling her to sit down next to him. Once seated, he tried to hand her the guitar, only to find her furiously shaking her head no in protest.

"Don't worry, I trust you won't break it or anything." Alex joked light-heartedly. Liz looked up at him, his friendly grin lighting up his whole face. She gently took the guitar, hoisting it over her legs and running her fingers over the strings. She remembered when she was younger, always wanting to play with her mother's guitar. She was told she was too young and that she would break it. Apparently, all Liz had to do was give her mom the puppy dog eyes and finally she crumbled. At age 7, Liz picked up the guitar, her little left hand fingers not quite reaching the strings. She pouted, mad that she couldn't play it properly. Then Kyle bounded up beside her, holding down some of the strings at the end of the guitar, like their mother had done when she played it, and Liz smiled happily as she flicked the strings over the hollow area with a pic. Her mother watched the scene laughing at her twin children, beckoning Jeff over to watch the picture perfect family.

Alex noticed Liz sitting there with the guitar in her lap and a melancholy look marking her features.

"Liz, are you okay?" Snapping out of her reverie, Liz nodded before she placed her left hand on three of the strings and strummed the guitar. Alex smiled as he watched Liz. She clearly didn't know much about chords and finger placement, but she seemed to have a natural ear for sound. After playing a few minutes, Liz looked up to Alex with a smile he couldn't quite detect. It was a smile that looked both happy, but held a hint of underlying sadness. "You know, you're pretty good. If you want to learn I could always teach you, you know. You seem to be a natural." This seemed to wipe the sadness out of her half-smile and she nodded hesitantly.
~*~

Max had made his way into the park, after all, there weren't very many other places he could go. Being that it was early December, snow hadn't hit the ground yet despite the cold weather. He shivered involuntarily, feeling an air of coldness sweep through him. He gazed at the weeping willow that held a small child bundled up in winter clothing underneath. She looked around the park, breathing in the air around her, looking completely in tune with nature and her surroundings. The young girl's eyes pierced the lake before her and watched as the last leaves of the trees around her were carried away with the powerful gusts of wind. Max couldn't help but take a picture of this. For some reason, he thought that this young child could have been Liz, if Liz hadn't been torn so early on in life. The park was getting darker and darker by the minute, as the evening proceeded along.

Sighing, Max turned around, following the path along the park. His eyes strayed from child to child, couple to couple, and his smile only grew. He chuckled at a group of three kids looking up towards the sky, decked out in winter clothing, running around in circles calling for it to snow. To him, it seemed to be their "snow dance". This brought back memories of himself and Alex when they were younger. Whenever it was cloudy and gray outside, looking as if it were about to rain, they'd wave their hands around vehemenently while calling for the sun to emerge. Max chuckled at the memory. Back before he felt abandonment by his parents, back before he himself abandoned Alex. Even though he and Alex were back on track, he still felt guilt for the way he so carelessly left him for the "in-crowd". Truth be told, he missed being a child and not having the complications and growing responsibilities he got as he grew older.

Max turned around, catching sight of two middle aged men sitting on the bench. He closed his eyes, rubbing against them in hopes of his eyes weren't deceiving him. When he opened them again, he saw what he thought he saw. There before him sat Elizabeth Parker's dad, and to his right was his very own father.
~*~

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Aug-2002 4:42:11 PM ]
posted on 10-Sep-2002 6:24:24 PM by Wench On A Leash
Hey everybody, sorry I haven't updated recently. With all your wonderful feedback I felt compelled to let you know what's been going on lately. Well, I figured that my Senior year of highschool wouldn't be so hectic, but I'm constantly busy with my AP Government, AP English and Student News classes. Plus, my older brother is in Japan, and it may not sound like a big deal or anything, but he's gone for 8 months and it's really the first time he's been far away from home for so long. I'm kind of bummed that he won't be home for Christmas or my birthday, or any holidays coming up. I guess that's also contributed to my lack of writing. The only time I ever have to write is on the weekends, and even then, I find myself busy or occupied by other events. Ack, and I don't even have a job yet! Hectic life.

Anyway, even though I'm suffering through a combination of writer's block and business, I still look forward to reading your comments and everything you have to say. It is really inspiring, and a lot of times it makes me motivated to write. Or at least try to write however little I can.

*Sigh* I haven't even been able to catch up on fics on this board lately.. which really sucks. =(

Anyway, I thought you all should know my justification, however long-winded and boring it may have been. Lol. Thanks again for your support though, you guys are the best.

When I get the next part out, I'll reply to the FB, but right now.. yeah, business is here again. Don't you just love my vocabulary? Lol.

Princess Stacey~ To answer your question. I honestly didn't even know about the book. After you mentioned it I looked it up and saw that the premises was about a new person moving in and discovering about someone's refusal to talk. I may read the book, but only after I finish this particular fic. I don't want to get any ideas or anything from it. This fic was completely inspired by the song Truth Doesn't Make A Noise by The White Stripes. Thanks for mentioning that though.
~*~

~*Christina*~
posted on 11-Sep-2002 9:57:34 PM by Wench On A Leash
First of all, I'm not the best at expressing my thoughts, not when something this major is what I'm discussing. So I'll say what I feel, and hope you can understand the message I'm trying to get across..

September 11, 2002

The anniversary of a day that I will never forget. As a whole, I remember the day vividly. The moment that everything happened was a shock and it took a couple of days for me to actually comprehend what was going on. I know I went through many stages.. anger, grief, disgust, hope and pride.

The fact of the matter is that I'm proud of the way America pulled through the tragic events of 9/11. Throughout mourning, we, as a people, have pulled together and tried our best to help one another. People of different religions, people of different origins, people of different political views all stuck together and united to get through such a horrific event. That was when I realized the power of the United States. If we can get through that, we can get through anything.

And not only has America been affected, other countries have also lost loved ones, and have also shown they care in many ways. I really think that this event showed how strong people can be.

What I don't like is that it took such a tragic event for this to actually happen. In order to unite, we had a harsh wake-up call, and it's such a sad way for us to realize that we can put our differences aside and pull through things together.

One thing I need to comment on is how I don't understand when people decide to buy flags and wear "I Love New York" shirts just because of the event. I can understand patriotism, and if the reason one is doing it is because they want to show their pride in living in America, and the tragic event "woke them up", so to speak, I can understand that. But for those that have never prided themselves in living in America and suddenly decided to show patriotism because of the fact that it supposedly shows they care is shallow and hypocritical.

I guess that's all I can really say before I start getting angry again and talk about other things about this day that are on my mind. All I know is that no matter what, I'm proud to be an American and I don't need a shirt to show that.

Thank you, America. God Bless you all.

~*Christina*~


posted on 6-Oct-2002 6:31:51 PM by Wench On A Leash
o_O
O_o

Wow. You guys are all so wonderful and special and great and yeah.. Lol. Seriously, thank you all for your numerous bumps, continuous support and faith in this fic and my writing. It's been pretty hard to get back into the fic, but I've written this whole plot summary out and I'm hoping it'll help me get the chapters out sooner for you guys. I feel really bad about making you all wait so long. And this part explains a little bit, but I promise the next part will focus more on all the connections. Oh yeah, and there'll be Max and Liz in the next part as well. =) I know you all want that to happen. Just bear with me. Heh..

flohmac, Minanda, Dreamer4ever, the better twin, Dreamy, ForeverDreaming8602, Anniepoo98, Faith Evans, shorty828, Alexia, SciFiNutt111, mitra, Pixie, roswellluver, angelbaby6977, ps_dreamer, mpls muse, DMatahari, GORDONKTINIA, 2crzy4roswell, Kittens, Areilya, rossieaddicted, AggieChick, TabascaGurl, Angel85, cermel, gothgirl, max and liz believer, frances..~ Wow, that's a lot.. I can't get over that. Thank you all so much for those bumps, and all your insight. Some of you are right, some of you are wrong. Wow, that says a lot, huh? Lol. Thanks again.

RosBaby~ Yeah, I'm more partial to the Smashing Pumpkins version of Landslide too, but then again, it's the Smashing Pumpkins, and they just kick hardcore ass.

LixMix5~ LMAO, You are so awesome. You're stalking me, you have great taste in music, you continuously bump me, you're just great. Oh yeah, and hilarious too. Thanks.

Kitcat26~ Dude, where are you? I miss you? Internet Problems I'm guessing? I love getting FB from you.. and you'll find out soon enough what Max has in mind for Liz's b-day. Well, if you're back by then. =/

Minanda~ Thank you so much, I'm always having doubts about how my characters are played out in this. Sometimes it gets hard to try and think of how they would feel under certain circumstances. Thanks for all the FB. =)

SweetLilDreamer~ Lol. NO AFFAIR! I'll tell you that much. I just wanted to make every body think there was one... =) I'm weird like that.

Morrigan Undomiel~ Your FB was really beautiful, it actually inspired me to continue writing more of this fic, however difficult it seemed to be to start up again after a long time. And that b-mail you sent me, thanks so much. =)

TrueLoveConquersAll~ Hehe. You're very smart. Lol.. Thanks for the FB. Good insight.

Aussie_Dreamer~ Wow. Thank you soo much. That's definitely a compliment I'm so not worthy of. I think Claudia should have stayed on the show longer too, she was great.

*Takes a deep breath* Here we go...
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

All Max could do was stare, shocked at the two people merely a few feet away. How could his father know Liz's father? This was unbelievable and he didn't know whether to go up to them and question them, or silently watch from the corner. Phillip had papers in his hand and seemed to be sorting through them to show Jeff something, and after a few minutes of talking the two shook hands as if making a deal.

Max was suddenly struck with a thought. What would happen if Liz knew? She had confided in him about not knowing the truth about Kyle... what if this had something to do with it? He thought about that day several months ago, the first time he had spotted this familiar person whom he took a picture of in the park, only to realize it was Liz's dad... and somewhere in the back of his mind, he remembered that he had given that picture to Claudia. Liz hadn't even known that her father was here, and Max helped aide Claudia in hiding that news from her. Did that make him any worse than everybody else who hid things from Liz as if she weren't strong enough to pull through them on her own?

It was that moment that Max knew he had to approach the two men. However distant he was with his father, he had to question him... he had to, for Liz's sake. The question was, how would he? Jeff didn't know who Max was, and did Phillip even realize that Jeff Parker was his girlfriend's father?
~*~

"Good." Alex smiled, "Now try this one. Place your index finger on this string right here.. yeah, just like that.. and then your middle finger there. Right.. and your ring finger here.. Yeah, perfect. Now strum the strings. Beautiful."

Liz couldn't help but smile at Alex's attempt to teach her guitar. He was showing her chords, continuously telling her what a wonderful job she was doing, and that in no time she'd be a pro.

"You know Liz.. Maria and Isabel are planning on taking you out for a 'girls night out.' Maria's idea, of course."

Liz looked up, surprise evident on her wide eyes. Alex smiled,

"What, you didn't think they'd want to hang out with you?" Liz looked down self-consciously, it was hard for her to really picture any reason people would want to befriend her. She couldn't even talk and truthfully, she was still amazed half the time about all the time Max spent with her, let alone random people. Who would have the patience to want to be around her? "Well, I just wanted to warn you, you know. Maria's well, I'm sure you noticed what Maria is like. She just talks and talks and talks, and when she has an idea in mind, there's no stopping her. So I wanted to prepare you for what was in store." Liz couldn't help but release a small laugh at Alex's accurate description. Hearing Liz laugh boosted Alex's ego up a notch, he loved making people laugh. And for some reason, hearing Liz laugh was extra special than hearing anyone else do so.

Liz was feeling this wonderful kinship with Alex, and she was grateful for his generosity towards her. He was what she needed right now, a person to make her laugh and ease her mind of the ever-growing problems with her grandmother and her family.
~*~

Max tried to walk, but found his feet plastered to the ground. It was as if they were stone, and he could not, for the life of him, manage to lift his heavy feet one in front of the other to face his father. He felt the chance slipping away from him as he watched Jeff look down at the ground and then back up at Phillip with a hint of a smile marking his face. The smile was genuine, filled with gratefullness. Even if Max had given Claudia that one picture of Jeff so long ago in trust that it was the best for Liz, he needed something of his own to keep so he could show Liz himself. His fingers touched the camera hanging down from his neck, and as if in a trance, he robotically took pictures of Jeff. Not his father, but only Jeff and his face- the face of a man who had been through so much. A man who held a smile that was genuine, but behind that mask of solid acceptance, held an underlying look of pain and hurt. A man whose wrinkles on his forehead shouldn't have existed yet, but had been acquired through a disastrous past. The painful look was hidden so well behind that mask, that if Max hadn't known of the past that Jeff went through, he wouldn't have realized what was hiding beneath.

Max hadn't noticed that by the time Jeff left, his whole roll of film had been taken. He looked on, finally letting out a much needed breath, a small fog of grey escaping from his lips and mixing in with the cold, bitter wind of the appraoching winter.

He watched numbly as his father departed, getting into his warm car after Jeff left. Max decided he'd question his father after taking a long walk home so that he could think rationally. For once not focusing on his surroundings, and only on the contradicting thoughts within his mind.

When he spotted his house in the distance, this power overtook him and he found himself quickening his pace. His footsteps started getting louder on the ground, his feet moved fast without stumbling over one another and right before he reached his sidewalk, he heard Alex's guitar in the distance.

Maybe Alex could help him out. He was always good with advice, and even if he was indecisive, there was always some way that Alex could cheer him up. Max stood before his doorway thinking of what to do next. Talk to Alex, or go into his house and confront his father. He turned around, ready to find Alex when the door suddenly flew open.

"Max, honey? You were gone for a long time, I was getting worried." His mother's voice greeted him.

Max turned around, his face crinkled in confusion.

"Yeah, I guess I got caught up with the pictures." His voice was completely monotone, devoid of any real thought.

"Max? Is something wrong?" Diane prodded, and Max didn't answer her as he walked passed her, into his house and straight into his father's study. He could faintly hear his mother's voice behind him,

"Maxwell, you know your father doesn't like to be interrupted while he's working..."

Max placed his hand on the door handle, and before throwing it open in rash impulsiveness, he gently placed his other hand on the door itself before lying his forehead against it. He took in another breath, gathering the strength to face his father. Finally, he took a step back and started turning the handle as his mother came to a hault behind him. He turned his face to her, a pleading look for her to understand his need to speak with his father, and she nodded in response. It was a silent agreement between mother and son. With that, he walked in and closed the door behind him.

Phillip, whilst on the phone, waved his son in further while holding up a finger to let him know it'd take him a minute before he'd be able to talk. Max found it ironic how his own father had to call him in as if he were just a random client.

When Phillip finally hung up the phone, he looked to Max, folding his arms on his desk and intertwining his fingers.

"What do you need, Son?"

Max wondered why his father didn't just name him Son in the first place.

"Maxwell?" Phillip looked at him, waiting for him to speak. Finally, Max stepped forward and took a seat in front of his father's desk.

"I.." In Max's haste to find out about Jeff Parker, he hadn't thought of how he'd question him. He gazed up into his father's intimidating face, and when their eyes met, Max began. "Are you working for Jeffrey Parker?"

The question was blunt, and Phillip was stunned to know that his son was asking about his clients. After a brief second of confusion, he responded with a question of his own.

"Are you interested in becoming a lawyer?"

"Dad." Max's voice was clear and concise, and his amber eyes burned holes into his dad's blue eyes, showing him he meant business. He was no longer the little boy that was afraid of his powerful father. No longer the little boy that tried so hard to make his father proud by taking piano lessons, or trying to maintain a high GPA, or becoming a star football player. He was no longer the little boy who stopped trying so suddenly when he realized there was nothing he could do to get his father's attention.

"What makes you ask?" Phillip raised a brow, while his voice remained strong and prominent.

"I just want to know, dad."

"Yes, he's a client of mine." Max exhaled a breath, glad he could get this far with his father.

"What's the case?"

"Maxwell, it's strictly private. I can't go around telling people cases I'm working on..."

"Dad, I'm your son, it's not like I'm this random person you think of me as." Max shot up from his seat, his voice growing louder as he spoke the truth to his father.

Phillip blinked, and for once, looked up and not down, to his only son. He cleared his throat before standing up to be taller than Max, finding his comfort zone.

"Why do you want to know?"

"I just need to know." Was Max's defeated response. His eyes shined with determination, and his father shrugged.

"I don't think I can tell you, Son." At that, Max snapped.

"For Christ's sake, dad! You would know if you even knew me! Remember when I brought that girl over for dinner a while ago. The ONLY girl I've ever brought home for you and mom to meet... do you even remember her name, or were you too busy with your work to even take time to learn about the girl I.." Max turned around, his hands flying up to his forehead to massage his temples. His head was starting to pound from the growing stress of talking to his father.

When he turned back around, Phillip was completely silent. His arms were down at his sides, his usual confident look was gone, and his eyes were fixed as if in thought.

"Her name's Liz. Liz Parker." Max broke the silence.

Phillip's face immediately paled.
~*~

"See ya Liz," Alex smiled as he flung his guitar case over his shoulder. Liz smiled back at him, she really didn't want him to leave yet. A part of her wanted to just stay outside forever and strum the guitar, even as the sky grew darker and the air grew colder. Most of all she wanted to thank Alex for staying with her and helping her more than he'd ever know he had.

Alex waved a hand before turning around, but stopped when he felt a gentle hand touch his shoulder. He turned back around to face her,

"Everything okay, Liz?"

Liz just hugged him. It was a gentle and friendly hug, and it was the only way she knew how to thank him. Alex beamed, and in response, nearly crushed her against him shouting

"Bear hug!!"

Liz pulled away, a beautiful smile lighting up her melancholly face. She mouthed the words 'thank you'. And Alex pulled her in for another hug before he left.

Liz stood outside, underneath her Oak tree, just watching her new friend leave. She wrapped her arms around herself, as the wind suddenly began picking up speed and sending bolts of coldness all along her body. She shivered and crawled back into her room through her window, returning to her once safe haven of secrets, but now, safe haven of confusion.
~*~

posted on 1-Dec-2002 11:27:38 AM by Wench On A Leash
I'm backith. With a new part. I apologize in advance for no Max/Liz interaction. I also apoligize for the length. It is kinda long. Anyway, yeah, I miss the Max and Liz interaction, which means there will be some soon.. anyway, I'll stop babbling and start thanking.

Thanks to Rapunzel, Pizie (that innocent kiss picture is so adorable), shorty828, SweetLilDreamer, Minanda, roswellluver, Faith Evans, Dreamers4ever, angelbaby6977, emmie, RosBaby, ps_dreamer, frenchkiss70, the better twin, marteloise, AggieChick, nallitie, 2crzy4roswell, Ner, stargrl678, skyiris, max and liz believer. =) You guys are great!

Cath~ Hehe. I love your speculation. It takes a brilliant person to know a brilliant person. Think that whole "takes one to know one" comeback thing, only in a positive light.. if that makes any sense. Sorry, no chick night in this next part, but soon. I swear, probably the part following this, and then Liz's birthday and of course more of the truth.. and yeah, I better stop typing before I give away all my plans. As always, LOVE your FB to pieces. Thanks!

TrueLoveConquersAll~ Yeah, I always loved Alex and Liz's friendship, and I wanted to try and capture a special kind of bond between the two. Thanks for the FB.

Morrigan Undomiel~ Yes, that is such a beautiful song, Sarah McLachlan always has such intense songs though.. probably why many of them were on Roswell. Anyway, thanks for the FB. =)

LixMix5~ Lol. I was actually wondering if anybody would think Phillip and Jeff were having a relationship.. lol. And I never said "middle finger". Lol. Funny stuff. Thanks for the FB.

Srfgirl02~ Welcome to the fic!

Sunrise102~ Aww, thanks for the FB.

Assilem_1~ Aww, I don't mind you nominating me, even though I don't feel worthy of it. But thanks anyway!

Up in the blue sky~ Wow! Thank you so much for putting all that into my story. It's always incredible to read FB like that.

Aussie_Dreamer~ Hehe. I wish I could take photography, I'm in filmmaking and there was a small section we did that dealt with photography. I've always been interested in it too. Glad it was inspiring. Thanks for the FB!

And now on to the fic.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Three restless bodies were unable to sleep Thursday night.
~*~

The usual confident, well-organized Phillip Evans, for once, was baffled. He normally praised his reasearch, finding numerous ways of getting the best evidence possible and being able to use that evidence in a court system to further his client's needs. When he had a client, his work was above and beyond all else. From days on end he researched and interviewed, helping aide in his task of achieving a victory. Every microscopic detail of a client, he knew. He had known that the tight-knit, homely family of Jefferey Parker consisted of a mother, Claudia Parker, a wife, Nancy Parker, and a pair of twins, Kyle and Elizabeth. He had known and recognized that Kyle's death occured on a rainy day while his mother was driving him home from soccer practice. He had known that because of a drunk driver ramming into their car and driving off afterwards, that three other souls would have to live through a grieving process. He knew from his wife that studies shown the loss of a child being the worst possible death parents and siblings could ever deal with, and the damage it could cause was traumatizing. He had known that the study was right, because afterwards, Elizabeth became withdrawn from people, and five years later Nancy took her own life, the final task in crumbling the entire family to pieces....

Yet after every bit of his research, every bit of his knowledge in discerning the truth, he had never recognized that the grand-daughter of Claudia Parker, the daughter of Jeffery Parker, and the twin of Kyle.. was living right across the street from him, dating his only son. All those times he had met Jeff, his client declined informing him of the wherabouts of his family, mentioning he'd be keeping contact with Claudia, but not wanting them to know much of what was going on so that they wouldn't get their hopes up. Abiding by the decision his client made, Phillip hadn't prodded into finding the whereabouts of the family, only in finding the events that took place. What erked him most about the whole situation was that they were right under his nose, and he hadn't even realized it. He hadn't realized that his son was dating his client's troubled daughter.

And now finally, after careful calculations, research, and connections with Jim Valenti, a long-time friend who just happened to be a police officer, Phillip found the truth. He found out just who that drunk driver was, and in order to be faithful to his client he couldn't let his son know who that person was.
~*~

Liz Parker's thoughts went to her fragile relationship with her grand-mother. The last person who she'd ever think would keep something from her had done so, and now she was teetering on the brink of sanity, wondering who she could and could not trust. She felt a deep place in her heart cave in when she learned the truth spoken from Claudia's lips. Now she was left wondering if that even was the truth, or if there was more hidden from her.

She had already given up on her father the moment he left her. She had noticed him leave, but she hadn't registered it. Too much was happening and all she wanted to do at that time was block everything out. And somehow, she had wasted years of her life in solitude. Now she was stuck between trying to open up and spread her wings, or to go back into her shell and hide in some sanctuary that wasn't full of horrible events, but a dream of what it could be. At least that way, she was safe.

But throughout her dark thoughts, images of people would flash through her mind. An image of Alex with his guitar and a big cheeky grin on his face somehow relieved her of her stress. An image of Maria talking incessantly without a mere breath between her words somehow made Liz want to smile. An image of Michael bickering with Maria about trivial things somehow made her want to laugh. An image of Isabel, tall, intelligent and perfectly poised somehow made her envious. And the most prominent, an image of Max, strong, artistic, and protective somehow made her want to live. Made her want to experience the rush of life. And the combined image of all five made her want to go to school with them, and experience life with them.
~*~

Max Evans kept staring at the clock, counting down the hours until he had to get up. Emotionally drained, he felt even more detached from his father. After he saw Phillip's face pale, the phone rang and his father had 'important business to take care of'. After that, neither one spoke a word to the other the rest of the night. Finally coming to the decision that it would be impossible to even try getting sleep, he got up and went downstairs. On the way, he noticed the kitchen light was on and he wished it was his father. It would be the perfect time to talk to him. At night when no clients would call, while everyone else in the house was sleeping peacefully, there would be no excuses for his father to make.

As he turned the corner, he found himself face to face with Michael's ass. Ruffling through the fridge Michael was crouched over, clad in only his plaid boxers. The sight was so contradictory to Max's thoughts and hopes that he couldn't help but laugh. Michael, startled, suddenly whipped his head around and released a high shriek, only causing Max to laugh louder.

Approximately five minutes later, when Max's laughter ceized, he finally noticed Michael's trademark death glare.

"Don't. Say. A. Fucking. Thing." Michael spoke, his mouth clenched shut. Teeth grinding. If Max just met Michael he may have been intimidated, but having lived with him only made the scene that much more amusing.

"Oh don't worry, Michael. I won't tell Maria that her boyfriend screams like a girl."

"You do and you die." Max tried to suppress his laughter with a smirk. "What are you doing up anyway, Max?" Max shrugged, not wanting to get into any details,

"Couldn't sleep."

"Good for you."

"So, everything cool with Maria?" Max asked as he pulled out a chair from the kitchen table and sat down.

"Yeah, we're good again."

"Cool."

"You and Liz?" Michael asked nonchalantly as he turned back around to the refridgerator. "Still whipped?"

"More than ever." Max finally admitted. "Although, I could say the same for you."

"Speak for yourself, buddy."

"Right." Max coughed "atleastImnotthechef".

"I heard that." Michael's voice reverberated through the fridge and echoed.

"That's the point."

"Shut up." Max stood up, watching as Michael pulled out left-overs and placed them in the microwave.

"I think I'll work on Liz's birthday present." As he started for the stairs, Max heard Michael snickering.
~*~

When Max was in school, the first place he went to was the darkroom. He needed to develop those pictures of Jeff. Just as they were starting to turn out, a creek in the door opened letting light in.

"Shit!" Max yelled in frustration. He needed complete darkness to develop the film, and now he had to start over. He was pissed off at himself for not locking the door in the first place. "Give me ten minutes, then you can use the room." He yelled to whoever was behind and waited for the door to close, instead, he heard a loud squeal.

"Max!" He shut his eyes in annoyance.

"Tess, are you aware this room is for developing pictures. Pictures that come from a specialized camera. As far as I know, you are not in Photography class, and you have no idea how to use a camera.. so, I'm going to give you the count to three to leave."

"Ugh.." Tess's voice oozed with a bitterness she was incapable of possessing, only making her sound more stupid. "Maaax.. I need to talk to you."

"Why?" He said, his back to her. Fed up, Tess walked up behind him and folded her arms across her chest.

"Turn around and look at me."

"Give me ten minutes, Tess. Just ten minutes
and then I'll be out."

"Fine!" Tess huffed and turned around slamming the door shut behind her.

"Thank God." Max muttered under his breath. He made sure to go over to the door and lock it for no more interruptions.

He started over and fifteen minutes later he heard Tess's continuous knocking and yelling "You said ten minutes!"

Choosing to ignore her, Max shook his head, gathering the final pictures up and putting them inside his folder.

As soon as Max opened the door Tess started..

"Okay, I need you to help me with something." Max shook his head, a bitter laugh in the back of his throat. This was the girl who he used to date. This was the girl who was dating Sean. This was the girl who, together with Sean, hurt Liz. Did this girl forget everything she had done, and think he'd suddenly jump at the chance to help her out?

"What?" Tess asked.

"No."

"You haven't even heard with what."

"I don't need to, Tess." Suddenly, Tess burst into tears and ran into Max's chest. On instinct Max's arms wrapped around her, and he could smell her strong, musky perfume, the scent nearly choking him. "He... he.. broke up with me." She sobbed onto his shirt. Pushing her away, he looked at her and realized she wasn't faking it. She actually had tears in her eyes. This girl, he had never seen cry. He had seen her at her ditziest, and at her meanest, but he had never seen her cry before. "I just.. I love him, and he.. he..he... said he needed a break."

Rolling his eyes, Max couldnt' help his next words.

"And you're telling me because..."

"Because I need to make him jealous."

Max stared at her for a long minute.

"You don't know the first thing about love, Tess." With that, he brushed past her. "None too bright either." He muttered to himself.

On the way to his locker he spotted Isabel and Alex.

"Hey man." Alex greeted him. "What's up?" Max shrugged.

"Not much."

"Oooh Maaaaaaxxx!" The three heard Tess's
loud voice booming through the hallway.

"Oh God." Max muttered, turning his head away from her and putting his arm up on the locker to cover his face, attempting to go unnoticed as Tess walked past them. Isabel raised an eyebrow before asking,

"What was that all about?"

"She wants to make Sean jealous." Isabel burst into laughter.

"Oh.. so glad that amuses you, Isabel." Max replied sarcastically.

"No.. it's just.. can she be any more dense?" Isabel looked over her shoulder at Tess's retreating form while the majority of the male population in the school checked out her short mini skirt covered ass. "Ugh, and she's wearing a skirt in December." Is shuddered.

"Oh I know." Maria seemed to appear out of nowhere. "Especially a bright pink one! I mean, come on. Get some sense of color."

"I don't know, it looks alright to me." Michael said as he continued to watch Tess march down the long hallway. Maria responded by smacking him on the arm.

"Don't look at her." She scolded. Michael just rolled his eyes. "Did you just roll your eyes at me, Michael?"

"What?"

"Oh, don't you play dumb with me Mikey G!"
Maria huffed and went off. Leaving every member of the male population checking her ass out.

"That girl.." Michael spoke vehemently before he followed her off..

"Go get her Mikey G! Be her whipping boy!" Max called out while laughing. After watching the two dissappear down the hall, he turned back to Alex.

"So, how's Liz doing?" Alex asked.

"'Good, I had dinner with her yesterday." Max smiled, "It seems like so long since I last seen her, though. I should have visited her after I went to the park." Max finished with a hint of sadness on his face.

"I saw her yesterday, too." Alex stated.

"What?" Isabel and Max both said at the same time. Alex smirked,

"I was outside playing my guitar by that oak tree, the one in her back yard. I guess she heard me and came out. I showed her some of the chords. She's a really fast learner."

"Okaaay." Isabel couldn't hide the jealousy that oozed from her voice. For some reason Alex found it cute and flattering.

"So... did she.. talk to you?" Max asked, trying to hide his own twinge of jealousy. He wanted to be the one there for Liz. He wanted to be the one making her smile.

"Well, she didn't talk. I did all the talking, but she has this way of letting you know what she's thinking without saying anything. It's amazing." Alex spoke in awe.

"Wow. Well, I better get to class." Isabel rushed the words out before flipping her hair over her shoulder and leaving Alex along with the rest of the male population staring at her ass.

"What were you saying to her?" Max asked as the two headed down the hall towards their classes, his curiousity suddenly piqued.

"I was just telling her how Maria has plans to take her out, you know? I think she might do that tonight, considering it's Friday."

"Oh.." Max was at a loss of words.

"Why, is something wrong?"

"No. I guess we can all hang out together tonight, then." Max shrugged, contemplating plans for the evening.

"No, Maria wants a whole girl's night out thing, you know. No guys. Just her and Isabel and Liz." Alex explained.

"But.. Isabel and Liz? I don't know if that's such a great idea..."

"Listen." Alex started, "Isabel is really sweet. She just has a rough exterior, you know. They got along fine at the carnival when we all went."

"Yeah, but we were all there. I was with Liz. This it'll be only the girls." Alex stopped mid-step and turned to face him, "Max, I'm sure Liz would love to hang out with you alone. But maybe it's better for her to spend time with the girls. You can't always be there for her. Last night she was fine when it was just us two."

Max nodded his head, his natural protectiveness over Liz minutely dissipating.

"It's just after the whole Sean and Tess thing.. I don't want anything bad to happen to her."

"Bad things happen to everyone, Max. It's part of living." Alex said before heading into his classroom and leaving Max alone to contemplate those words.
~*~

Diane Evans scrambled around her room with her hair partially blow-dried, fixing her watch around her left wrist. She was running late for work, and she hated being late. Especially when there were kids that needed help, and she wanted to be there to help them. She stepped down the stairs and went in the kitchen to leave a sticky note for Max when he got home. She grabbed her purse and was ready to leave out the garage when she heard a knock on her front door.

Who would be here this early? She thought to herself. The knocking persisted.

"Just a minute!" She yelled as she ran towards the door. Throwing it open she found Liz on the other side, looking a little timid and uncomfortable.

"Liz, honey, come right in." Diane ushered her inside. "Is something wrong?" Her eyes searched Liz's face for any sign of trouble. Liz shook her head no in response and reached into her coat pocket. She smiled shyly up at Diane before handing her a piece of folded paper.

Diane glanced at her with hope shining on her face as she unfolded the letter.

When can I start attending public school?

A smile crossed Diane's lips and she dropped the note to hug a surprised Liz.

"Oh, this is wonderful!" She beamed. "I can get everything settled for you today at work." And then for a moment, the two women stared at each other in understanding and envy. Diane was amazed at the progress Liz was making, and Liz was amazed with all the care Diane was showing her. The silent bond between them broke when Diane asked, "Does Claudia know you're here?"

Liz shook her head no in response.

"Well, we better get you home before she starts to worry."
~*~

Max was thankful for lunch. The school day seemed to be going by really slowly and he needed time to sit with his friends and relax. He found Isabel and Maria sitting in the cafeteria seemingly in a heated debate. He approached their table and sat down,

"I think it'd be fun!" Maria exclaimed to Isabel before tossing out a quick "Hey" to Max. Before Max could greet them back Isabel continued to voice her opinion.

"I really don't WANT to.."

"Want to what?" Alex asked, plopping down in his seat next to Isabel. She took a quick glance at Max before biting out a short "nothing." Alex shrugged and bit into his pizza.

"Well, if you don't want to come then you don't have to. I'll do it myself!" Maria said stubbornly.

"Fine!" Isabel replied irritably. Alex raised a tentative brow across the table to Max before moving his right hand up and mouthing a silent hiss as if he were a cat. Max couldn't help laughing, and both Maria and Isabel turned their anger on him.

"What's so funny?" They asked simultaneously.

"Nothing." Max smiled.

"Skank-o-lert, 9 o'clock." Maria chided.. Max turned around and immediately regretted it when he locked eyes with Tess. Finding her target, she marched over to their table,

"Maxwill Evans!"

"It's actually Max-well." Max corrected.

"Whatever!" Tess said, "you never heard my plan." Max rolled his eyes,

"Tess, get this through your head. I am not going to help you do whatever sick and twisted thing you have planned for Sean."

"Okay, so maybe trying to make him jealous isn't such a great idea."

"No, really?" Max asked sarcastically.

"Maybe you could just talk to him? You know, make him realize what he's missing out on?" Max was completely baffled.

"Tess. I'm not going to help you in any way, so stop asking me." He tried to explain in the nicest way possible.

"Why not?" Tess asked in her ignorance.

"Oh my God. Does the name Liz Parker ring a bell?" Maria jumped up and decided to throw her two-cents in. When Tess looked at her in confusion, Maria continued,

"Hello! The girl that you and Sean so blatantly ridiculed in the park. Everybody and their mom has heard that story!"

Tess's face controted from confusion to curiousity in a matter of minutes..

"Ooooh... that girl." Tess said, "What about her?"

"Oh my God, you are a complete idiot." Maria mumbled to herself. Ignoring anything Maria had to say, Tess looked back at Max, expecting him to say something in her defense.

Ever the peace-maker, Alex stood up from his seat and walked over to Tess.

"Tess." He said, looking her straight in the eyes and speaking very slowly so she could understand him. He grabbed her gently by the shoulders and turned her around, "Look over there. You see Sean?" Tess nodded. "See how he's with a bunch of girls?" Tess nodded again. "See how he keeps glancing over here at you?" Tess nodded a third time. "That means he's being as immature as you are being and he's trying to make you jealous to come crawling back to him."

Tess nodded for the last time and then turned back to face Alex.

"So what are you saying exactly?"

"Never mind, I give up." Alex sat back down next to Isabel.

"You want a woman's advice." Is decided to try. "March right up to Sean and show him who's boss." Alex couldn't help but raise his eyebrows and utter the words

"Kinky."

Isabel winked at him with a sly smirk on her lips. Alex blushed and suddenly found himself in quite a coughing fit.

"I think I get it now!" Tess exclaimed happily before exiting the group and making her way over to Sean.
~*~


posted on 9-Feb-2003 11:06:24 AM by Wench On A Leash
Yaya! I finished my next part and it's very long. And yes, there is M/L interaction.. but I MUST apologize for the extended like.. absence of this fic. The mix of business and lack of inspiration was blahish and yeah. See, I'm rambling about nothing.. anyway.. my thanks..

Thanks to mitra, roswellluver, gothgirl, the better twin, skyiris, NATEVANS, frenchkiss70, Morrigan Undomiel, Aussie_Dreamer, Rapunzel, AlienDreamer101, Faith Evans, Sweet Lil Dreamer, Ner, Minanda, RosBaby, kittens (she'll talk, eventually), ps_dreamer, LPorter, Shorty828, modern_wicca, kiwigirl, Caligirl, mareli, TrustCoFan86, Assilem_1 *happy*, tallguy171, and Gigo thank you ALL so much for the wonderful FB and bumps and everything.

KitCat26~ Hehe.. Yaya! My portrayal of the characters is good.. =) At least, Cath thinks so. For a brief moment I was afraid I was making Tess a little TOO dumb, but on reflection, there actually ARE girls at my school THAT dumb.. so yeah. Thank you so much for that wonderful Feedback I always look forward to getting. So happy you enjoyed the Michael's ass part. Hehe..

2crzy4roswell~ Ditzy Tess. Hehe I'll leave what happens to her to your imagination... don't worry, she'll have other cameos in the fic. She does make quite a good comical character, doesn't she? So happy you found that last part funny. ^_^ Thanks.

wiccu~ Glad you touched ont he Michael and Liz thing, I had contemplated that, but Alex stood out in my mind more cuz of the show, and cuz I just love him to pieces.

Max and Liz believer~ Yaya! Fellow Tess hater! Lol. Thanks for the FB.

abbs007~ Yaya! You're back. Missed ya. Thanks for all the WONDERFUL feedback. You are very perceptive. ;)

And this next part is dedicated to my wonderful beta, LixMix5. =) She is one "dank" chick. =P
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Finally, Max was home. After the day he had dealing with Tess and her antics, this was where he wanted to be. He thought he'd like the peace and quiet he'd find there, but it only served to make him think. He contemplated whether or not to show Liz the pictures he'd developed of her father. She deserved to see them more than anything, but he was worried about how she'd react. Not that he didn't have faith in her, he just wanted it to be the right time to show her. The thing he feared most was her closing herself off more to him. There was still so much going on inside her that he didn't know, and even after all the time he spent with her, he still knew only half of the pain she was feeling.

Somewhere in the corner of his mind, he had this lingering wish that he'd never seen Jeff with his father. If he hadn't, then maybe he wouldn't be so confused. He'd be happy with Liz, his love. But maybe the knowledge of what he had discovered could possibly serve to make Liz happier. Throughout the times he spent with her, he would see her smile at him and every time her eyes would shine he'd feel a place in his heart tug a little more.

Yet the moments when her eyes held that bleakness to them, that underlying darkness of a burden so heavy he couldn't even imagine what she could be feeling, he felt like hands were clutching at his heart, ready to rip it out in a matter of seconds. It hurt him to see her hurting. He grabbed the pictures he'd developed earlier in school and looked them over for the thousandth time, studying the expression. Max wondered how Jeff could live with abandoning his child like he did. Of course he did it for her best interest, as Claudia mentioned to him, but to leave his only daughter at a time so tragic seemed cold-hearted.

Noticing the masked sadness hidden behind Jeffrey's eyes, Max came to a decision. He would show Liz Parker the pictures and nothing would stop him. Only he'd show them to her after her birthday. Right now, Liz deserved to be loved, not worrying about the complications of everything that was going on in her life.

Max got up from his bed and looked out his window to see her house across the street. Maybe he could see her before Maria and Isabel showed up.
~*~

Claudia answered the door with a smile of mixed emotions on her face.

"Hello Max. Liz is in her room." Max looked past Claudia over to the closed door that held his beloved. "From what I understand," Claudia paused a moment, "she has some wonderful news for you."

"Thanks." Max smiled, "I guess I'll just go see her then." For some reason, he sensed a distancing from Claudia. It just wasn't how it used to be when he spoke to her, they could normally talk for hours without any awkwardness between them.

As Max started toward Liz's room Claudia halted him,

"Oh yeah, Max. Keep in mind that Liz is.. innocent when it comes to relationships. You see, we never.. well, I've taught her every subject to date except sexual education."

"What?" Max asked in a tone that held surprise and embarassment.

"Max, I see how you look at her, and how she looks at you. And last night at dinner I noticed..." She glanced at Max's red face, and how he tried to keep the embarassment out of reach by looking down and scratching his head. She smiled internally, deciding she'd picked on him enough and ended her speech, "well, I'm sure you understand what I'm getting at."

"Yes, m'am." His voice cracked. Great, he thought. I'm now entering a second stage of puberty.

"Go on. I won't stop you now." Claudia patted him on the arm as she left for the kitchen.

Max was ecstatic the moment he saw Liz's face transform right before his eyes. When she opened the door, her eyes held a look of thoughtfulness to them, but once she saw him, a very appealing hint of pink covered her cheeks while her eyes became livelier.

"Hey." He said, almost shyly. Funny how after all the time he spent with her, there were still moments when he found himself devoid of words.

Liz nodded to him with a devious smile before she gently held his hand and brought him closer to her. Her eyes never left his as she stood on her tip-toes to give him the lightest hint of a kiss on his forehead. It was such a sweet gesture that Max found himself mirroring it once she landed back on the flat of her feet. The two stood there for a moment, just holding each other in silent contentment.

Liz slowly broke apart from him and gave him a "come hither" look as she sat on her bed. All Max could think about when he saw that look was Claudia's voice reverberating in his hormonally induced mind. He cleared his throat as he walked over there and sat next to her. Once he sat down Liz handed him a letter.

His eyes quickly read the words.

Max,

I've come to a decision that is in part because of you. That time when we were all at the carnival, I felt good. I felt happy and alive. I always feel alive when I'm with you, but when I was with you and your friends I felt this acceptance. It was a comaraderie that I've never felt before. I've never had very many friends, not that I remember anyway.

That moment with all of you made me wonder how it would feel to be with you guys more often. I thought about what your mother said, about attending public school, and I've decided to give it a try. I'm tired of being in this house. I'm tired of so many things that I wasn't strong enough to do before. I want to change. I need to change. I need to face my fears and live.


The last sentence reminded Max of Alex's earlier words, and even though he understood what Liz was saying, he still felt the need to at least warn her. He threaded his left fingers through her right, and brought a chaste kiss to her knuckles before fixing his amber gaze to her anticipating doe eyes.

"Liz, there's nothing I'd love more than to have you at my school. To be able to see you every day with my friends and everything. I just think you should know about Sean and Tess. The ones that were at the park that day.. they go to my school, and well, they're not like Maria or Alex. They're superficial and.. they get a thrill out of making other people's lives miserable.."

Before Max could continue his speech, Liz put her free hand up to his lips to halt his words. She slightly nodded her head with a look of awareness in her eyes.

"What about talking, Liz? Will you be able to handle the rumors they spread through the halls?"

This time Liz broke away from the comfort of being so close to him and gave him an irritated look before she got up and hastily wrote something on a piece of paper.

Stop worrying so much. I know what can happen and I need to face it.

"Sorry." Max said after reading. "I'm acting like an over-protective jerk."

Liz answered with slow, sarcastic nod. Max found himself amazed how she could manage to express her sarcasm without the use of words. After her nod a smirk crossed her lips, and she held a look that said "See, I was right". The way her face turned up so defiantly was the cutest thing Max had ever seen.

"Come here." He said, reaching out for her. Deciding to be playful, she folded her arms across her chest and shook her head in the negative. Max's eyes began to shine with mirth while he started pouting. Liz tilted her head to the side in an innocent gesture, and in the time spanning a beat of a heart, she felt his right hand curl around her waist and she spun around in his arms only to find herself lying across his lap on her bed.

"You're beautiful." Max said without a second thought while smoothing the hair that shielded her face behind her ear.

Liz blushed at his sincere words, and Max couldn't help himself any longer. He leaned down and touched his lips to hers, surprised with the rapidness in which he felt her arms curl around his neck and force the kiss deeper.

Max was lost in their kisses, his hands moving to massage the smooth column behind her neck. The move made Liz sit up, forcing Max to sit back on his knees, while she leaned forward and curled an arm securlely around his neck. She moved her head to the side, her soft cheek caressing his rougher one, before resting her head on his shoulder. On impulse, his hands moved to her back to bring her closer to him.

The two sat there, breathing each other in. Slowly, Max started to pull away, noticing that Liz's eyes were closed, and her breathing was still erratic. He kissed her closed eyelids, and then her cheek and the side of her mouth. She opened her eyes, and the intense, deep look of her brown liquid pools made him wonder how it was even possible for him to love her any more than he already did. Yet she did it every day. With every look and every breath.

A knocking sounded on Liz's door.

"Honeybear?" Claudia's gentle voice called out. Liz sat up in bed, and even though Max's own face reddened with embarassment, he noticed how she bit her lip with some sort of resentment. "I'm going to come in now, okay, Lizzie?"

Once Claudia opened the door, she pasted on a smile for Max and glanced towards Liz. "Maria DeLuca is on the phone, and she wants to know if you'd like to go out with her tonight." Liz's eyes immediately turned to Max's, a smile lit up her entire face, immediately causing a warmth of delight to surge through Max's body.

He hadn't noticed the phone ringing before, but maybe that was because of...

"So, do you want to go?" Claudia glanced back and forth between Max and Liz, wondering if she'd rather stay with Max tonight or go out. Liz looked at Max briefly, before holding up her index finger to represent one minute to her grand-mother. "Okay, I'll be right outside the door."

Once Claudia left, Liz looked up at Max with regret on her face. He could clearly see that she was torn between time with him and time with friends. Max hugged her and kissed her temple, before whispering, "Don't worry, Alex warned me earlier. I was prepared for you having a 'girl's night out', where I wouldn't be allowed to come join you, otherwise defeating the purpose of said 'girl's night out'. Alex's words, of course."

Liz looked up at him and, in her delight, kissed him all over his face. Clearly a thank you without words. Max held up her hands, and in all seriousness said, "Just promise me one thing." Liz nodded, a curious look in her eyes. "Don't go chasing after any guys." He almost held his seriousness, but couldn't help it when a smile curved to his lips at the end of his sentence. Liz playfully hit his shoulder and then stuck her tongue out at him. He laughed and kissed her on the forehead before calling out to Claudia.

She opened the door and peaked inside, "Liz'll go with Maria." Claudia nodded and returned to the kitchen.

Once she left, Max looked Liz in the eyes. "What's going on between you and Claudia?" Liz just shook her head and looked down. "Don't want to talk about it?" Max asked, pressing his hand beneath her chin to bring her eyes up to meet his. Again, she shook her head no, while averting her gaze to his left ear instead of his eyes.

"Liz, I know my ears are big, but you could at least look me in the eyes." His light-hearted mood made her giggle while she playfully tugged on his right ear with her hand.

"Haha, very funny Li-" His voice cracked and then stopped as soon as he felt her mouth gently clamp down on the fold of his ear. Was she aware of the torture she was putting him through? He cleared his throat when she pulled away. She looked up at him with a smile, and a very light pink etched on her face. It wasn't devious, or seductive, and it answered his question. She was completely oblivious to what her actions were doing to his body. Her shyness suddenly kicked in, and she looked down at the carpeting in her room while tucking her hair behind her ear.

"Maria will be here in twenty minutes!" Claudia called through the door.

"Well, I guess I better get going then." Max said. Liz bit her lip as if contemplating something, and then slightly nodded her head.

She grabbed his hand and laced their fingers together while she walked him to her front door. Max noticed Claudia leering at them from the kitchen and he leaned in close to Liz to kiss her on the cheek and whisper, "Have fun tonight, okay?"

Liz's eyes sparkled with happiness, and she watched their fingers separate while he started walking out the door. She let her eyes linger on his retreating form before closing the door behind him. She took a breath and turned around, knowing that her grand-mother was going to bring something up. She had been avoiding Claudia as much as possible the past couple days, and now there was a perfect chance for them to talk.
~*~

Max turned the key in the door to enter his house. He walked in and looked around, "Anybody home?" He called out. When he didn't get a response he stepped into the kitchen to throw his keys on the counter.

A thought suddenly occured to him, and it was so brilliant, he wondered why he hadn't thought of it earlier. His mind started ticking incessantly as he clambered up the stairs to his father's office. Phillip had two places that were dedicated to his work. One was a study downstairs, where he'd mostly make his phone calls and relax; the other was his office where he'd keep files on his clients.

A wave of anticipation gathered inside of Max, and he wanted the answers to all his questions now. He put his hand on the doorknob and twisted it... only to hear a clicking sound.

"Fuck. No no no no. NO. NO!" He swore. The door was locked. Damn his father. He slammed his fist against the door before turning around and pacing back and forth. A key, there had to be a key somewhere. Max raced down the stairs and went straight to his father's study. His hands scorched through every single drawer and every single compartment.

He heard the garage open and sat down in his father's swivel chair. He brought both hands to his head and squeezed tight. The motion brought his temper down enough for him to breathe correctly and leave the room.

"Hey Maxwell." Michael greeted,

"Hey, where were you?" Max asked. Before Michael could answer, Phillip walked in and stood behind Michael.

"Hello Son. We were just out for dinner. I had some time on my hands and Michael was the only one here. You know I can't cook, so I offered to take us to a nice restaurant." Max could literally kill his father with that smug look of pride on his face. Instead, he opted to embarass Michael.

"Oh, but Michael can. I'm sure if you ask his girlfriend she'll tell you all about it."

"Dude, are you ever going to drop that?" Michael asked, "I mean, look at you. Every single chance you get you're always upstairs working on Liz's precious birthday present. You won't even tell anyone what it is! If you ask me, you are overly sensitive for a guy."

"Well, I think he gets it from me. I used to do all kinds of things like that for Diane." Phillip winked at Max, while Max attempted to keep the bile down his throat.

"'Used to' being the operative word." Max mumbled under his breath.

"What's that, Maxwell?" Phillip asked.

"Nothing."

"So, since I have tonight off, I was thinking we could all watch that boxing match on tv."

Max had to hand it to his father. If he didn't know him so well, he would think he wasn't such a bad guy. But considering the lack of quality time he'd ever spent with his father in the past, he knew there must be something up. Unless his father suddenly had some kind of epiphany in which he realized that he'd better start being an actual figment in his son's life; which he highly doubted.

"Boxing? Cool." Michael quipped. "I never get to watch that with Maria. It's always chick flicks." Max glanced at Michael, ready to laugh, and then Michael cut in, "Or... action," he cleared his throat, "on occasion."
~*~

"Lizzie, sit down."

Liz complied and sat on the couch. "Please look at me." She looked up, a tight expression on her face.

"I wanted to tell you sooner, honeybear. You think I liked keeping all that from you? Everything I've ever done, everything I'll ever do will always be for you. I only want what's best, and I'm sorry I haven't been doing everything correctly. People make mistakes. I made a mistake by not letting you know sooner. But Liz, you've got to trust me. I'm your grand-mother, you're.. you're all I have left in the world."

Liz folded her hands securely in her lap and sat there quietly, listening to her grand-mother's words.

"What will it take for you to speak to me again?" Claudia asked in defeat. Liz looked away, feeling guilt eat at her soul. "Please Liz. Let me know you'll forgive me."

Before Claudia could continue the doorbell rang and Liz immediately sprouted up. Claudia answered the door to find a pixie-ish looking blonde nearly bouncing around.

"You must be Maria. Please, come in." Claudia smiled while she ushered Maria inside with her right arm, "it must be freezing out there."

"Yeah, I think my fingers are numb." Maria grumbled, and then she immediately bolted back to her bubbly personality in no-time. "Oh.. my God. You must be Grandma Claudia. Max has told me so much about you, and from what he says, you have got to be the coolest grand-mother ever."

"Well," Claudia looked to an un-smiling Liz and held her sadness inside as she covered it with a tight smile and a brief, "I like her already."

Liz noticed that the two of them seemed to click, and her guilt only multiplied.

"Well, we better get going. Isabel's in the car.. she's kinda in a not-so-nice mood right now. Probably getting mad since I didn't leave the keys in the car for her to get heat. You know, I told that girl that if she wasn't going to come to the door with me, then she could freeze to death." Claudia started laughing as Maria continued ranting.

"You remind me so much of myself when I was younger." She broke in.

"Really?"

"Yes. Strong-spirited and powerful. That was me."

"Then I'll turn out to be one kick-ass grand-mother."

Claudia glanced at Liz again, only to see her staring at the door. "Well, I better not hold you two back any longer. Go ahead, have fun honeybear." Claudia kissed Liz on the cheek and then held the door open for the two girls to leave.

"See ya later, Grams'." Maria called out behind her as she exited the house; while Liz left without a second glance.

Maria immediately threw her arm around Liz in a friendly gesture, and Claudia was surprised when she saw Liz look behind her and smile. Claudia smiled back as she waved to her grand-daughter. She turned around and started to close the door behind her when it was suddenly propelled back open.

Arms quickly flew around her and tightened.

"Oh, Lizzie." Claudia felt tears well in her eyes, and when Liz pulled away, she noticed the tears mirrored in her own flesh and blood. "We'll talk more when you get back. Okay?"

Liz nodded serenely before she stepped back out the door and into the night with her friends.
~*~

"Maria, I am going to slaughter you alive for leaving me in the cold for so long. Do you realize what this is doing to my skin? I'm turning blue. Blue, Maria. That is not healthy." Isabel was immediately on bitch-mode the moment Liz got inside and sat in the back of the car.

"Oh, suck it up, girlfriend." Was Maria's response. "You know I only did it out of love. Anyway, I was thinking we could either go to the arcade, or back to my house to watch some movies. What do you guys think?" She checked her rearview mirror for Liz's response. From her expression, it seemed like she was just happy to be out of the house, no matter what she was going to do.

"I'm thinking none of the above." Isabel stated. Maria fixed a threatening glare at Isabel which immediately prompted a serious response. "Okay, movies. I don't want to be in an arcade with all that second-hand smoke corrupting my lungs."

"Movies it is, then. That sound good to you Liz?" Liz nodded, but she couldn't help herself from staring out the car window as they drove along. Sure she was getting good vibes from Maria, but she sensed awkwardness around Isabel. Like when she was at the carnival, she still felt intimidated around her. She was definitely no Tess, but her presence made her feel less comfortable.

When the three girls got to Maria's house, Liz's awkwardness only multiplied. She didn't know what to do there, especially when Isabel seemed to be making herself at home. Literally. She was already lying sprawled out across an orange sofa adorning Maria's vibrantly decorated living room.

It didn't help matters when the phone rang and Maria excused herself to answer it. Liz stood rooted to her spot, just looking around at everything in the living room.

Taking pity, Isabel sat up. "You can sit down, you know." Despite the attempt to be nice, the words ended up sounding a little more cold than she'd expected them to be. Liz gave Isabel a weak smile, unable to meet her eyes as she led herself to the couch to sit down.

As tempted as Isabel was to use the moment to her advantage and scare Liz, there was something in the look on Liz's face that made her decide not to.

Maria came back in the living room laughing with a cordless phone held up to her ear.

"Liz.. Max is on the phone. He decided he'd do the typical boyfriend thing and check up on you." Isabel saw the anxious look on Liz's face melt away into a cheesy smile.

"Yes Max, we're staying at my house and remember.. this is a GIRLS' night. NO PENISES ALLOWED!..... yeah.... okay.. one sec." Maria held the phone out to Liz. "Max wants to say something to you."

Without hesitation Liz grabbed the phone from Maria and held it to her ear. Isabel and Maria shared a look before sitting next to Liz and placing their ears as close to the phone as they could.

Liz started laughing at their antics.

"Liz.." Max's voice was a mere breath, "Have I ever told you how beautiful your laugh is." Liz couldn't help but blush as she glanced at the two girls around her and nudged Maria in the ribs.

"Ouch.." Maria voiced, "Okay, okay, I get the hint." She got up and grabbed Isabel. "Looks like Gidget here needs a little privacy with Moon Doggie".

"So it would seem." Was Isabel's terse reply. Once the two went into the kitchen Liz was able to concentrate on Max.

"All I really wanted to say was that I hope you have fun tonight. Thanks to my dad, I'm stuck at home watching a Boxing match." Liz frowned into the phone when she heard the resentment in Max's voice. And she immediately wished that she was right there with him to comfort him. "Anyway, I better get back there. Love you, Liz."

Liz responded with a content sigh into the phone which managed to make Max smile as he hung it up on it's cradle.

"Well.." Maria sauntered back into the living room and plopped down next to Liz. "By that smile on your face I can tell that all is well in Max and Liz land." This only served to make Liz blush ten shades of pink.

Isabel walked into the living room with a pillow and blanket and found a spot on the floor.

"What's this, the goddess has not claimed her spot on the almighty couch already?" Maria joked, reffering to how Isabel would normally have the orange sofa all to herself.

Isabel rolled her eyes. "At least I can manage 5 minutes without having to blabber."

"Ugh.." Maria said, disgusted. "I so do not blabber. I'm just very opinionated. There is a difference."

Liz laughed at that, and Isabel nodded towards her. "See, she even agrees."

It was Maria's turn to roll her eyes before getting up and putting a movie in the DVD player.

"What are we watching?" Isabel asked.

"Only my favorite romantic-comedy of all time."

"When Harry Met Sally?"

"Well, my OTHER favorite."

"Nooooo, not Benny and Joon. We ALWAYS watch that."

Maria waggled a finger at Isabel. "You may protest now, but you're the one whose eyes are always glued to the tv screen when we watch it. Hell, I've even heard you actually quote lines from it before.. Lines that I couldn't even quote myself!" Maria announced. She turned to Liz. "See Liz, there are a lot of these little idiosyncracies that pertain to Isabel here."

"Oh shut up, let's just watch the movie."

"See, I knew you wanted to."

"No, I just want you to be quiet."

Maria stuck her tongue out and Liz couldn't help but laugh as she watched the two friends banter. It seemed weird to her. The whole aspect of being so comfortable with someone to constantly joke with them and know that what they're saying isn't serious, only playful, seemed like it was a hard thing to do.
~*~

"Well, with the way this match is turning out, I'm ready for some beer." Phillip announced while he stood up. "Anyone else want one?"

Max brushed past the fact that his father was a lawyer, but this was so completely out of character for him.

"I don't drink. Thanks though." Michael responded.

"Haven't acquired the taste yet?" Phillip joked.

"Something like that." Michael replied with no humor in his voice.

"Okay then. Just one for me."

Max stood up. Something just wasn't right here. "I'll be right back. Bathroom break."

He went upstairs and decided to try his father's door again. Still locked. He was a fool to think that it would miraculously open all of a sudden, but his wishful thinking made him try anything he could think of. He got his wallet out of his back pocket and grabbed his credit card. So he saw it done in the movies, it didn't mean that it would exactly work.. in fact, he highly doubted it, but it was worth a shot.

Max put the plastic card along the door and slid it down. He slowly turned the knob and... Nothing.

Yeah, wishful thinking will get you nowhere. He thought. He couldn't believe his father's upstairs office was like Fort Knox. Even though Max had a lock on his own door, his father could still get in if he wanted to. All he'd have to do was use his ke..

Oh my God... Max rushed to his room and scrounged around for the key to the lock on his door. He returned to his father's office and put the key in the hole. It fit. He aptly turned the key and heard a click. He turned the knob, pushed the door in and...

Max blinked a few times, unable to believe all it took was something that was right in front of him. He could have saved so much time if he had thought of using his key sooner, but his impulsiveness permitted him from it.

He walked in and started opening his father's file cabinets. There were so many white manilla folders, Max was surprised with how many clients his father actually had. He never really cared much about who his father was working for, or how many people he was "helping", or so he said. All Max remembered was that every single time he needed his father, or hungered for his attention, he was always off "helping" some client of his in order to get money.

As Max's eyes scanned through the last names on each of the folders, the thoughts of his father and his relationship kept flooding through his mind. The more he thought about it, the less sense it made that his father would so suddenly enter his life. Just come home early from work to watch boxing with him.. unless he wanted to impress Michael. But why his father would want to do that was beyond him.

Michael Guerin of all people would be the least of his father's...

"Guerin." Max looked at the manilla folder. What was Michael's father's name doing in here. Was he a client? Maybe it had something to do with Diane taking him in to stay. After all, his father was an abusive, alcoholic man. Maybe it was in order for Michael to get away from his father. That was probably it.

Something inside of Max made him want to open that folder and check it out, but he felt like he was prying. It was one thing to look for Jeffrey Parker's folder.. that was something he needed to find out. For Liz. For Claudia. For himself. Michael's business was Michael's business. It didn't belong to him, even if he was a friend.

"Maxwell!" Max jumped back, and dropped the folder when he heard his father's voice calling out to him. "You're missing the game, Son." His eyes were glued to the floor where the folder opened and revealed documents inside.

"I.. I'll be down in a minute." Max called back. Max quickly gathered the papers and placed them back in the folder. His eyes scanned through the other names until he found "Parker", and he was about to take it out when he thought better of it.

If his father went upstairs tonight to look at his documents and they were gone.. Max would most likely be held accountable. Especially considering he had partial knowledge of Phillip helping Jeffrey.

Hoping that his decision would be the most pertinent one he could make, Max placed the folders back where they belonged.

He knew how to get into his father's office, and if he just had the patience he'd be able to wait until his father was gone. Then he'd have all the time in the world to piece everything together and soak all the information in. For some reason, based on his instincts, Max had a bad feeling about this. One that he didn't want to get into exactly yet. So it was a mix of procrastination and patience that made Max leave the room empty-handed.
~*~

All three of the girls' eyes' were glued to the tv screen, completely endorsed in Johnny Depp's beauty, when Maria muttered the words all of them had been thinking.

"Guys in top hats..." All three of the girls' spontaneously sighed unbeknownst to their knowledge. The only other words throughout the movie were Isabel's snickering at Benny's antics.

"That damn over-protective brother." She snickered.

"Amen to that, sister." Maria said, while Liz furiously nodded her agreement.

By the end of the movie all the girls sat entranced on the edge of their seats.

"Beautiful. Just beautiful." Maria voiced before glancing over to Isabel. "Did I not tell you you would be quoting lines from the movie?"

"Hey, all I quoted was the green troll part!" Isabel justified herself.

"Suuuuuure." Maria replied. "Just don't ever deny the greatness of Benny and Joon ever, ever again." She glanced over to see Liz's eyes downcast. "Lizzie?" Her voice immediately took on a gentle tone.

Liz was still thinking about the movie. Benny kind of reminded her of her grand-mother. Despite the whole brother thing... Grandma Claudia was only trying to protect her. Liz remembered the time in the park with Tess and Sean that she didn't handle so well and could find herself relating to Joon in many ways.

Her thoughts turned to the actual relationship between Benny and Joon. If Kyle were still alive, would he be protective of her? Would he be playing any sports? Would he have been in love? Liz found it sad that he had to die so young, before experiencing any of the things she was just now starting to experience.

That was the moment when her decision became perfectly clear. No matter how hard it would be, she would continue to live and experience things, if not for her own sake, then for Kyle. For the life taken away at so tender an age. For the brother she remembered so vividly sharing 8 years of life with. And for her mother, who's strength was a mask to hide her own turmoil. She would live for them. Both of them.

"Liz?"

Liz blinked out of her trance and saw Maria looking at her in concern. "You okay?"

Liz nodded, as bittersweet thoughts continued to sweep through her mind, painting pictures of memories and family from so long ago.

"Did you like the movie?"

Liz bit her lip and nodded, feeling on the brink of tears from the profound effect the movie had on her own ideals. It was so odd that a movie could provoke so much thought from her, make her realize things that she had been so confused about before.

And that Sam character was like the Max in her life...

If only she could get him to wear a top hat...

"Liz?" Isabel asked this time as she noticed a dazed look cross Liz's face. "You keep zoning out on us."

Liz shook her head and then started laughing.

Maria raised a questioning brow, wondering what was so funny. Liz grabbed her purse from the floor and pulled out a small spiral notepad and a pen and wrote something down, then handed it to Maria.

I was just wondering if I could ever get Max to wear a top hat Maria burst out laughing, immediately doubling over and clutching her stomach.

"Oh.. my... God.."

"What?" Isabel asked, "What's so.." Maria handed the paper over to Isabel, still laughing uncontrollably.

Isabel read the words and chuckled a deep throaty laugh, "I'm wondering the same thing about Alex."

Maria's eyes bulged out of her head as her laughing mutliplied. "You.. you.. want to see ALEX in a .. top.. top... hat!"

"Hey.. better than Michael in one."

The three girls thought of Michael all dolled up in a suit, top hat and cane and burst out laughing. Isabel had tears in her eyes, Liz was completely red, and Maria started gasping for air.

"Oh, man, I haven't laughed like that in so long." Maria said, once she gained her air back.

"Niether have I." Isabel wiped at the tears on her eyes.

"I think this settles it. Girls' nights more often." Maria spoke, looking straight at Liz. Liz nodded with a knowing smile and for the first time looked Isabel in the eyes. Isabel immediately went back on ice Queen mode and just shrugged.

"Maybe."

But it was too late. Liz had seen Isabel with her guard down, an actual nice Isabel. An actual funny Isabel.. and she knew she shouldn't be intimidated by her.
~*~












[ edited 1 time(s), last at 9-Feb-2003 11:13:41 AM ]
posted on 18-Feb-2003 7:23:09 PM by Wench On A Leash
Hey everyone. Tis I.. and I come bearing a wonderful banner made by Lilac_Stardust. It's amazing, isn't it? I think so. =)

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I just love it to pieces and can't thank Lilac_Stardust enough for making it. =)

Anyway, this is just an author's note so all you lovely people can see the beautiful banner. I guess this can also be a shameless bump for my own fic. =/ I feel so... canniving and manipulative.

Anyway, yeah.. I'm all giddy about the banner. =)

And thanks for all the FB again. You guys are beyond wonderful.

And a belated thanks to those Birthday bumps I got a while ago. ^_^

~*Christina*~

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 19-Feb-2003 11:34:30 PM ]
posted on 19-Feb-2003 11:39:13 PM by Wench On A Leash
Okay.. I think I finally have it. Let me know if it doesn't show.. and if it does.. THANK YOU STACEY for all the trouble you spent putting into the banner and everything.

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~*Christina*~