posted on 9-May-2002 1:31:11 PM by McGees
Title: My Heart is Staying Here
Author: Kate
Category: mainly M/L, but includes everyone
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: This is a story about what went on during the week that was skipped in 4 Aliens and a Baby. I suppose it was to be left up to our imaginations, so here's my spin on what went on. This is not a spoiler fic, and anything that is spoiler-ish won't be posted until after the final episode. Feedback is always welcome and appreciated!


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Part One
Saturday, 3:48 am


Max shot up in the darkness, his heart pounding in his chest. What had awakened him? Had they found them? He froze. There it was again.

His son was crying.

Max rose quickly from the recliner in Isabel’s living room, stepping over Maria, Michael, and Kyle asleep on the floor before Zan could wake them up. It had been a long twelve hours. They all needed their sleep, Max included, but right now being a father was more important. His son needed him.

Closing the door behind him, Max made his way to the bed where Zan lay, his tiny body clenched and trembling as he wailed. “Shhh,” Max soothed, scooping the baby into his arms. “It’s okay, buddy. It’s okay,” he whispered, cradling him against his chest.

The infant’s cries subsided almost immediately, becoming nothing more than little snuffles as Max walked around the room in slow circles. Rubbing his hand up and down Zan’s back, Max made his way to the window and peered out into the night. Though he couldn’t see much through the veil of trees, a peculiar orange smoke was wafting through the air. A chill went down his spine.

“I heard it, too,” Max murmured, holding his son tighter.

*****

Liz drove through the dark streets of Roswell, her body exhausted but her mind racing.

Tess was dead.

The source of her pain, confusion, anger, and pure hatred for the last year was gone. The nightmare should be over now.

So why did she feel like this?

Why didn’t she feel triumph, relief…glee, even? Tess told her the only thing she could have wanted to hear – except, of course, that Max’s sleeping with her had been a mindwarp. Tess’s words rang in her ears. Max loves you. Every time we were together, every time we kissed...he was thinking of you. He had these flashes that I saw...and they were always of you. Liz had won.

Sighing, she turned onto Isabel and Jesse’s street. No, that wasn’t true either. Because no one really won at all. They’d all been betrayed, deceived…Alex was still dead. Max still had a child, one that Liz hadn’t carried. One that represented the fact that Max had given himself to Tess. And part of Liz feared that Zan would always be a reminder.

Liz pulled up in front of the apartment and put the Jetta into park. No, the nightmare was far from over.

Glancing around as she hurried up the front walk, she realized this would be something they might have to do from now on. Constantly looking over their shoulders to see if they were being watched, followed, attacked. Satisfied that the coast was clear, she slipped inside as quietly as possible, using the spare key from the hall table, and crept back to the living room.

Kyle, Michael, and Maria were still fast asleep on the floor. The door to the spare bedroom, where Isabel and Jesse were sleeping for the night, was still firmly closed. Valenti had opted to return home for the night, deciding it would be less suspicious in the chance that the Air Force would make another surprise visit. But Max was nowhere to be seen. She glanced toward the closed door of Jesse and Isabel’s bedroom, where he had put Zan to sleep.

Without giving it a second thought, Liz pushed the door open. Max stood in front of the window, cradling a dozing Zan in his arms. “Is he okay?” she asked quietly.

Max turned from the window and nodded yes. “He just…needed…” He trailed off when Liz nodded her understanding. “Are you going somewhere?” he asked, noticing the keys to the Jetta still clenched in her hand.

“I…no,” she whispered. “Max…Tess, she-“

“She’s gone,” he stated quietly.

Liz nodded mutely.

Max gazed down at his sleeping son, gently touching his round cheek. “He knew.”

“But Tess said they’re not connected…”

He shook his head. “But we heard it.”

“Oh,” Liz whispered, not sure that she completely understood, but definitely sure it wasn’t really important. She could never fully understand. “You should sleep, Max,” she continued instead. “We’ll talk to everyone else in the morning.”

“I don’t want to put him down,” Max admitted.

Liz nodded, putting her hand on his shoulder and guiding him to the bed. Max eased onto it gently, being careful not to jostle the baby, and settled against the headboard.

She slid a pillow behind him and then crawled onto the bed beside him. Max placed a kiss on her forehead as she settled into the crook of his arm, both of them finally falling into a restless sleep.

*****

Alright, should I continue? Let me know!

[ edited 25time(s), last at 9-Feb-2003 11:14:54 PM ]
posted on 11-May-2002 1:07:03 AM by McGees
Wow! I definitely was not expecting this much of a response, but I guess we all feel the same way - it's no good when the show skips such important things! Anyway, here's a new part...sorry it's a bit on the short side, I'm still kind of in the process of deciding exactly how, where, and why everything will fall into place. Let me know what you think!


Part 2
Saturday, 7:16 am


Maria’s eyes fluttered open. She yawned, stretched, and then gazed at the ceiling. Her left hand groped for her alarm clock to check the time, but when she encountered a male torso, she sat up in surprise. Why the hell was Michael in her bed?

Wait a second. Maria shook the sleepy haze from her mind. She wasn’t in her bed. She was on the floor in the living room of Isabel’s apartment. Because Tess was back. She brought the baby, killed God knows how many people, and now the authorities were on a manhunt.

Glancing at the couch, Maria noticed Liz wasn’t there. Max and Tess were gone too. She couldn’t keep the smirk from crossing her face as she wondered if maybe Max and Liz had reconsidered their vote and dragged her off to turn her in. Or better yet, taken matters into their own hands and blasted the crazy –

No. Liz was far too noble to do what Maria was itching to do had she some of her own alien juice. She knew her best friend was right, but she was damn proud of Lizzie for blasting Tess against the wall – not once, but twice. She wished she’d been there, but Michael had gone to great lengths to describe it to her in delicious detail.

But the fact remained that the three of them were nowhere to be seen. Maria got to her feet, careful not to wake Michael and Kyle, and padded down the hall. Jesse and Isabel’s bedroom door was open a crack, and she peered inside.

Max and Liz were asleep on the bed, Liz curled against his side while little Zan slept soundly on his father’s chest. Maria had to do a double take – had she not known better, the three of them would have looked like a little family.

Maria turned and quietly shut the door behind her. No sense in waking them up yet. “Coffee,” she muttered suddenly, heading back toward the kitchen.

Down the hall, Jesse was also awake. He lay on his side, propped up on one elbow as he gazed at his sleeping wife. The words they had exchanged the night before rang in his head.

“Your parents will love you regardless."

“I don’t know, Jesse, do you?” Isabel had shot back.

Those words were a sharp blow to his heart. He reached out and gently brushed a strand of hair off her forehead. Of course he still loved her. He certainly hadn’t expected her to be an alien, but she was still his wife. He had fallen in love with her, not because of her past or her heritage, but because of her heart. And that – that beautiful heart of hers – was no different than it was when he first met her.

The repercussions of his knowing were still too much to wrap his mind around, that was true. But it was something they could work through. Couldn’t they? He touched her wedding band. It wasn’t a decision he could make on his own. They needed to do it together.

Jesse settled back down beside her, resting his chin atop her head. “I love you, Isabel,” he whispered.

*****

Saturday, 7:42 am

Michael grunted and rolled over onto his side. “Mmm…Maria,” he mumbled in his sleep. “Maria.” In his dream, he could feel her warm body against his, and he reached out for her to pull her closer. “Maria…”

His sudden curse broke through the early morning silence, and both he and Kyle shot up from the floor.

“Uh…” Kyle ran his hand through his hair, unable to make eye contact with Michael. “So…no one ever needs to know about that.”

“Never, man,” Michael ground out, rubbing his hands over his face. He wasn’t sure which was worse, saying Maria’s name in his sleep or groping Kyle, thinking it was Maria. Damn. It had been a long twelve hours.

“Where the hell is everybody?” Kyle quickly changed the subject, looking around the empty living room.

“I’m gonna be really pissed if they took Tess out and flogged her and didn’t let me help,” Michael muttered, kicking the blankets aside.

“Maybe she ran away,” Maria offered, appearing in the doorway. “As much as I would have loved flogging the bitch, I’m sorry to say that didn’t happen.” She took a sip from her mug. “Max and Liz probably know.”

“Where’d they go?” Kyle asked, taking the mug from Maria and helping himself to a swig of coffee.

“Iz and Jesse’s room with the kid,” she answered, grabbing the mug back and slapping Kyle’s hand away. “I figure, if they’re actually able to sleep we might as well let them.”

*****

There is a finger in my mouth. Why is there a finger in my mouth?

Liz reached up and brushed at her face, shooing away whatever it was hovering there. It was back again in seconds, this time accompanied by a cheerful cooing.

She rolled her head to the side and found herself face to face with Zan. His toothless grin widened as her eyes adjusted to the morning sunlight, and she scrunched her nose as he batted at her cheek again.

“Hello there,” Liz mumbled with a yawn, finding herself with a mouthful of baby fingers again. She reached up and retracted the hand, which was immediately wrapped into a fist around her index finger.

Liz smiled, running her finger over the tiny ridges of his knuckle. Zan grinned back, thrilled to be getting attention from this new person, and squirmed impatiently on Max’s chest.

Max awoke with a start, his arms instinctively tightening around his son. “Zan.” His voice was hushed, as if he still couldn’t quite believe his son was here, in his arms, safe…for the moment.

He turned to Liz, his lips curving into a weak smile. “Morning.”

“Hey.” She propped herself up on her elbows, studying Max’s sleepy face. “Did you sleep okay?”

Max shrugged as he sat up and put Zan against his shoulder. “He’s got to be getting hungry by now,” he said suddenly. “And his diaper…” Max paused, lowering his eyes in shame. “I’ve never even changed a diaper before.”

Liz smiled gently. “I think first it would be helpful if we had some clean diapers to change him into, Max,” she reminded.

A look of tension crossed Max’s face. “But the authorities…they saw my car. They saw me and Michael,” he said. “I can’t go out-“

“I’ll run to the twenty-four hour market over on Citrus,” Liz said quickly. “And…Max, it was dark. I’m sure they didn’t get a good look at you, not enough that they’d remember. You probably better keep the Chevelle in the garage for a while, though, just in case. Maria will let me take the Jetta.”

He nodded gratefully. “Liz, I…thank you,” he murmured. “God, you never left me through any of this. I don’t even know how to-“

“Shh,” she quieted him. “We can talk later, okay? Right now we need to think about your son,” Liz said firmly, unable to hide her smile as Zan cooed happily at her. “I don’t think you’ll be nearly as pleasant if we don’t get some food in that tummy of yours, huh?”

“We definitely need to talk later,” Max agreed as they both got to their feet. “And we’ve got to tell the others what happened to Tess.”

“I know,” Liz whispered, swallowing hard. “We’ll talk when I get back.”
posted on 15-May-2002 4:39:36 PM by McGees
Thanks so much for all the feedback! It's been great to get such a response. It's definitely motivating to write more, and I'm sorry it's taken a few days for this update. More coming soon!


Part 3
Saturday, 8:06 am


Michael, Kyle, and Maria raised their eyes expectantly as a door down the hall opened. When Isabel and Jesse appeared in the kitchen, Michael let out a sigh.

“So sorry to disappoint you, Michael,” Isabel muttered. “Who were you hoping for, Tess?”

Maria leaned back against the counter. “Tess is gone,” she said simply.

Jesse’s eyebrows knitted. “Where’d she go?”

“Beats the hell out of us,” Kyle shrugged. “I personally don’t care if I never see the murdering bitch again, but then there’s all the many, many innocent lives that are at stake from the simple prospect of her being in our universe, so…” He paused, taking a gulp of orange juice. “Plus, you know, her kid’s still here.”

Isabel slid into the booth at the kitchen table beside Michael. “’The kid’ is my nephew,” she reminded. “He’s part of Max too, not just Tess.” Pausing thoughtfully, she added, “Not that I could ever predict her actions, but it’s hard to believe she’d leave without Zan.”

Liz walked into the kitchen then, followed by Max with Zan against his shoulder.

“Where is she?” Kyle asked.

Max and Liz exchanged a look. “Tess is dead,” he said quietly, pressing his lips to the top of his son’s head.

“What?” Maria nearly dropped her mug, her jaw falling slack in surprise.

“How?” Isabel asked. She had always figured hearing of Tess’s own death would somehow avenge Alex’s, but now she just felt sick.

“She turned herself in,” Liz said, glancing around the kitchen at her friends. “And they shot her.”

Jesse sighed. “Oh God. Now they’ll be testing her body, trying to figure out-“

“No,” Max interjected, holding Zan close. “Her body exploded. So that there would be nothing left.”

Michael studied his best friend. “How do you know?”

“I took her there,” Liz admitted quietly. “I saw it happen. Or…heard it, I guess. I drove her out to the base early this morning and she went in on her own.”

“Tess would never do that,” Maria said, shaking her head in disbelief.

“Could it have been a mindwarp?” Michael added. “Could she have been trying to convince she turned herself in but-“

“No,” Max said firmly. “I…we felt it. Or…or heard it, I don’t know. But it did happen, and it was real.” He took a deep breath. “Tess is gone.”

There was a long silence. Finally Kyle spoke up. “So would it be inappropriate to ask if anyone wants to join me in a round of ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’?”

*****

Saturday, 8:52 am

“Good lord,” Liz muttered under her breath. How in the world would she narrow this down? Super absorbent, stretchy, anti-leak protection, every size and design imaginable.

The large display of diapers before Liz threatened to overwhelm her, but she stood her ground. After all that had happened recently, she wasn’t about to let a package of Pampers get the best of her.

Hmm. Maybe starting by size should be the first move. Zan was a little guy, that was for sure, but the truth was they didn’t know exactly how old he was. He wasn’t a newborn, and he wasn’t a toddler, but that didn’t narrow it down too much.

Deciding to go with a large package of animal theme diapers for three to six month olds, Liz continued down the aisle. Food was next. Formula, she presumed. Zan didn’t appear to be cutting teeth yet, so cereal didn’t seem necessary.

Liz narrowed her eyes at the row of formula, inspecting each label. Wonderful. She hadn’t even considered the possibility that Zan could be lactose intolerant. To be on the safe side, she grabbed several cans of each and added them to her basket.

“Liz?”

She whirled around and found herself face to face with Diane Evans. “Oh…hi,” she managed.

“I’m sorry if I scared you,” Diane said apologetically, smiling kindly at the girl who had so completely accepted her son – and how her grandson as well, it seemed. She didn’t know all the details of the others involved in her children’s secret, but Isabel had told her enough for her to know that Liz was special.

“Oh, it’s okay Mrs. Evans,” Liz said politely. “I was just surprised to see you. I’m picking up some things for the baby.”

Diane nodded, gesturing to her own cart, which Liz now noticed was filled with baby supplies. “I figured Tess and Max might need some things for him, so…”

Liz nodded shortly, remembering that Mrs. Evans didn’t know many of the details of what happened after they left the house – just that for the time being they were safe at Jesse and Isabel’s, and would call if anything changed. “It looks like you’ve made a little more progress than I have,” she said, noting the baby carrier, large selection of bottles, pacifiers, and toys, and packages of rompers and Onesies.

“Between the two of us we should have enough to last a few days,” Diane decided, scanning Liz’s basket.

“A few days?" Liz asked incredulously.

Diane smiled, leading the way to the registers. “Babies go through things faster than you might realize.” She paused thoughtfully. “Phillip and I took in foster children before we adopted Max and Isabel, and we had a few babies stay with us. That was a long time ago, of course, but some things never change. Like the number of diapers they go through,” she added with a wink, lifting a package of Pampers onto the checkout line.

Liz simply nodded, glad there was someone who knew a bit more about this kind of thing than she did. Sure, she’d done her share of babysitting back in the day, but nothing like the prospect of caring for a baby all day, or all week, or…longer.

*****

“What’s that stench?” Michael demanded, wrinkling his nose in disgust.

Isabel looked down at her nephew bouncing in her lap. “I think we’ve got the culprit right here.”

“You better change him,” Kyle decided, looking directly at Maria.

She immediately raised her hands in protest. “What are you looking at me for?” she demanded.

Michael shrugged. “You’re a woman. Women are supposed to know how to change diapers.”

“You know what, I have to talk to Jesse about something. It’s, ah, important,” Isabel spoke up, handing Zan to Kyle and hurrying out of the kitchen. She passed Max in the living room, deep in a serious phone conversation with Valenti.

Maria stifled her laughter at the look of horror on Kyle’s face as he held the baby, and then jumped when her cell phone rang. She grabbed it from the table, glancing at it and then announcing, “Oh look, it’s my mom. I gotta take this.” She waggled her fingers at the boys and then hurried out of the kitchen as well.

Michael and Kyle looked at one another warily. “Flip a coin?” Michael offered.

“Never place bets with an alien,” Kyle shot back. “No way, man. You and me are in this together.” He moved over to the sink, holding the stinky baby out in front of him.

“You gonna put him in the sink?” Michael asked.

Kyle gave him a withering look. “Do you have any other suggestions?” He held Zan up in the sink and glanced at Michael. “I saw this once on Full House.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“No, Jesse and Joey put Michelle in the sink and hosed her off. It looked pretty effective, actually, and – just shut up, alright?” he demanded, glaring as Michael shook with silent laughter. “TBS is the only station we could get in at the garage.”

“Whatever, man,” Michael said, glancing down at Zan, whose face cracked into a cheerful smile. “You think this is funny, don’t you, kid? Real funny to do this to your Uncle Michael and Kyle while Auntie Isabel and Maria ran away and your daddy is busy playing king.” He took a deep breath. “Okay. I’ll hold him up and you…take off whatever the hell it is he’s wearing,” he instructed Kyle.

“Me?” Kyle demanded. “Oh, no. Your hands are free, you take it off.”

The smell was becoming overwhelming, and Michael decided this was one battle he was willing to let go of. Swallowing his pride, he reached down and began to unwind the strange fabric from the baby.

“Make sure you, ah, catch it,” Kyle said, turning his face away to gasp some fresh air.

“Oh my God,” Michael muttered, pulling the material away and tossing it into a ball into the garbage.

“Holy…” Kyle groaned. “How can something like that come from something like this?”

Zan grinned again, happy to be free of the stinky confines, and waved his little arms in the air.

“You are laughing at us, aren’t you,” Kyle muttered. “Okay, Michael, turn on the nozzle and hose him down.”

Michael obliged, running the warm water over little Zan’s backside and rinsing him clean.

“Um…grab a dishtowel or something to wrap him in until Liz gets back with the diapers.”

“Isabel is gonna be so pissed,” Michael said with a smirk, grabbing one of her good white dishtowels from the cupboard.

“Too bad,” Kyle announced, making a face at a giggling Zan as he lifted him up. He was starting to get the hang of this, and he said so. And then…

Michael burst out laughing as a steady stream of warm fluid hit Kyle square in the chest.

Glancing from his soaked shirtfront to Zan, Kyle narrowed his eyes and cooed, “Your daddy owes us big time.”

*****
posted on 18-May-2002 1:31:50 AM by McGees
So yeah, I changed the title. I wasn't really feeling the original one, and after I got the Kasey Chambers album I knew it had to be done. I'm loving "Nullarbor Song," which was used in the final scene of 4AAAB, and the new title was born. Thought I'd post some of the lyrics for ya'll as well.

When the fire burns out here
It's brighter than the city lights
Warmer than a heart of gold
And dingoes howl just to break the silence
The sun comes up just to break the cold
Last night I woke
With the stars looking back at me
Swallowing the sky
I felt no anger, I felt no shame
I felt no reason to cry

If I'm not here in the morning
I'll cry a river of tears
I'll learn to live in a new town
But my heart is staying here


Anyway, I also come bearing a new part. I feel like I might be losing my following for this story, guys! More to come soon.


Part 4
Saturday, 9:10 am


“I believe this belongs to you,” Kyle muttered, plopping Zan into Max’s lap as he hung up the phone.

Max looked from Kyle and Michael back to his son in puzzlement. “What’s he wearing?” he asked, studying the strange white concoction wrapped around the lower half of Zan’s body and held in place by a Chip-Clip.

“A couple of Iz’s dishtowels,” Michael said simply, flopping down onto the couch.

"So what did my dad have to say?” Kyle asked, rummaging through the blankets for his other shirt.
Max sighed, and then held Zan up in front of him, making faces as a distraction. “Well, they haven’t shown up at the house since yesterday evening.”

“Which is a good thing, right?” Michael asked, kicking his feet up onto the coffee table.

“It’s probably because they were a little distracted by the explosion at the base,” Max answered dryly.

“I thought it was just Tess?” Maria appeared in the living room, cell phone in hand.

“Nice of you to join us,” Michael muttered under his breath.

Max shot Michael a look. The last thing he needed right now was to be a referee for those two. “Apparently when Tess’s body exploded, it took most of the base with it,” he explained.

“Damn,” Kyle whistled. “That’ll be a bitch to clean up.” He jumped to his feet, clapping his hands together. “But hey, at least we’re out of the woods, right? No way they’ll waste time looking for some random baby when they’ve got a whole air force base to deal with.”

Max looked unconvinced, holding his son closer. “We still have to be careful.”

“Oh hey, Max?” Maria spoke up. “Liz called my cell a couple minutes ago, she’s on her way back from the store. She ran into your mom, and your mom’s coming over too with some stuff.”

“She’s coming over?” Isabel repeated, entering the living room with Jesse. Her eyes met Max’s. “She’s going to have so many questions,” she mused anxiously.

“Let’s deal with one thing at a time,” Max said, glancing down at Zan, who was now chewing rather impatiently on his father’s finger.

Isabel nodded, perching on the arm of the couch. “You’re right, I – hey!” She glared and smacked Michael in the back of the head. “My dishtowels are not diapers!”

*****

Saturday, 10:16 am

“I…well, I don’t really know what to say,” Diane said honestly, glancing at both of her children in turn. They had spent the past hour giving her the basic details of what they were dealing with; what they’d been dealing with for the past three years.

Diane was still baffled by it all, especially the fact that it had been going on right under her and Phillip’s noses. They’d had their suspicions, of course, but it had never been anything like this.

It was strange, but on some level she felt a sense of relief. Yes, they were in trouble, but they hadn’t done anything wrong. They were just trying to live their lives, trying to be good people, just as she and Phillip had taught them. And the fact was, they were her children and she loved them. No information about their past or where they came from would change that.

She took a deep breath, squeezing a sleeping Zan’s little foot. “Your father and I will do whatever we can to keep you all safe,” she promised finally. “Anything you need, just let us know.”

“Thank you, Mom,” Isabel said quietly, clasping Jesse’s hand.

Max nodded shortly. “We appreciate it.” He set the empty bottle aside and got to his feet with Zan in his arms. “I’m going to put him down.”

Liz watched as Max strode to the bedroom and quietly excused herself. She was about to push the door open behind Max, but instead stopped and watched him in silence.

Max murmured quietly to the sleeping baby, and Liz couldn’t quite make out what he was saying. But it wasn’t so much the words that struck Liz. It was the complete tenderness she saw as he handled his son. For someone who had clearly had no experience with infants until the evening before, Max was quickly getting the hang of it.

He laid Zan carefully in the middle of the bed, this time propping several pillows around him for added safety, and then simply gazed down at his son’s sleeping form.

“Sleep tight, little guy,” he whispered, touching the baby’s soft cheek before quietly getting to his feet.

Liz met Max’s eyes then, and she offered him a slight smile. “Hey.”

Max wrapped his arm around her and gave her a quick squeeze. “Thank you again for going to the store and picking up the things for him. Are you sure the cash I gave you covered it all?”

She nodded, leaning her head on his shoulder as they gazed at Zan, his chest rising and falling with each even breath. “He looks a little more comfortable in a diaper and a sleeper than in Isabel’s dishtowel,” she noted.

“Yeah.” Max paused. “Liz, you don’t have to stay.”

Liz pulled away from him, hurt. “Do you want me to leave?”

“Liz, no,” he said quickly. “God, no. I just…” He took a deep breath. “I don’t know if this is uncomfortable for you. And I don’t want you to feel obligated to stick around and help me deal with my mistakes, because-“

“Max.” Liz’s calm voice stopped him. “I’ve been through this with you for almost a year now. Did you really think I’d leave now that your son is here?”

Max stared at her in utter amazement. As if she hadn’t floored him enough during all these months, or when hers was the deciding vote in sparing Tess’s life – and the life of his son, or so he thought. And now here she was, still by his side as he watched over the child he had created with that monster.

As if she was reading his thoughts, Liz spoke up again. “Max, the things that happened…they weren’t Zan’s fault. He’s an innocent baby. I could never hold anything against him.” She took a deep breath. “I mean, yes, I’ve hurt this past year. We both have. And…it’s going to take time to heal. I’m not going to say it’s easy to see you with the child you and Tess created, because that would be a lie. But we’ve made it through this much, and I’m not going to turn my back on you now.”

Max gazed into Liz’s eyes, framing her face between his palms. “You, Liz Parker, have the most beautiful heart I’ve ever known. Don’t ever forget that.”


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 18-May-2002 2:17:00 AM ]
posted on 23-May-2002 1:44:08 AM by McGees
Thanks so much for the feedback and bumps, everyone! Work has started for the summer - no fun, but I'm doing my best to fit in plenty of writing time for both stories. There should be an update for "Never Let You Down" by the end of the week, and hopefully another one for this here story as well. And without further ado, the new part!


Part 5
Saturday, 11:32 am


“So how long is everyone going to be staying at our place?”

Isabel glanced at her husband, feeling her irritation grow. “I don’t know, Jesse.”

“I mean, are we going to be giving up our bed to Max’s baby again, or-“

“Jesse. I don’t know,” Isabel spat out through gritted teeth. She could tell it was the stress of the past twenty-four hours – of the last month – getting to them, but did he have to do this now?

“I’m just saying we have a lot to talk about, Isabel,” Jesse said, his voice forcibly calm.

Isabel sank down on the bed in the guestroom and gazed at the closed door. “Why now? Everyone’s here.”

“I realize that, Isabel. That’s why I would like it if we could have some privacy in our own home so we can-“

“This is the only safe place left, “ she interrupted.

Jesse looked at her evenly. “Exactly. And I’d like it to stay that way.”

“What are you saying, Jesse?”

“I’m saying that if we’re not careful, we’re going to have the authorities knocking at our door, too. The last thing we need is for them to have a link to both our place and your parents house.” He paused, rubbing his hands over his face. “They have to leave, Isabel.”

Isabel threw her hands up in frustration. “That’s great, Jesse. Where the hell are they supposed to go? Max and Zan can’t go back to my parents’ house! What if the authorities come back?”

Jesse sighed. “I don’t know. I don’t know, maybe we need to try getting them out of Roswell again.”

And as much as she hated to admit it, Isabel knew he might be right.

*****

Liz poked her head into the dimly lit bedroom. Max sat in silence, gazing at his sleeping son. “Max?”

He raised his head at the sound of Liz’s whispered voice. “Maria’s going to take me home. We both have to work this afternoon, so…”

Max got to his feet and crossed the room. “Okay,” he said quietly, his eyes searching hers. “Will I see you later?”

Liz bit her lip and nodded. “I hope so,” she said with a shy smile.

“I…good.” He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly, relieved when he felt her relax and return the embrace. “Bye, Liz.”

She turned at the doorway and watched as Max sank back into the chair. “Max…why don’t you get some sleep?” she suggested gently.

Max rubbed his hands over his face, his elbows resting on his knees. “I can’t. He’ll need me when he wakes up.”

Liz started to say something, but didn’t. She watched as he returned to his near-vigil over the peacefully sleeping baby. “Bye, Max.”

*****

Saturday, 12:57 pm

Max’s chin shot up from his chest at the sound of Zan’s cries. Wide-awake, he unfolded himself from the chair and lifted the crying baby from the bed. “Hey buddy,” he soothed. “Shhh, Daddy’s here.” He paused then and stared down at Zan’s tear-stained little face. “Daddy’s here,” he whispered again, marveling at what he’d said aloud. For a year now he knew he had a “son.” But suddenly he was a father. A daddy. And now he was solely responsible for this little life. Max shook his head, marveling at it all.

Diane stuck her head in then. “I heard Zan crying,” she explained. She smiled, seeing her son’s sleepy face. “I figured he woke you. Do you need anything?”

“No, I’m okay.”

She fought back her smile as Max juggled a fussing Zan. “But he might,” she pointed out.

Max looked from his mother to his son and back again, a look of pure bewilderment on his face.

“He’s probably wet,” Diane supplied gently. “Are there diapers in here?”

“Over there,” he gestured. “Um, Mom?” Max swallowed his pride, cupping the back of Zan’s head with his hand. “Could you show me how to do it?”

Diane smiled her understanding. “Of course, honey. Lay him down on this.” She spread a receiving blanket on the bed and set a diaper and a box of wipes beside it.

Max did as he was told, gently placing the squirming baby onto the bed before looking at his mother expectantly.

Diane stood beside her son and patted his back. “You’re doing this, Max. I’m just walking you through it.”

He nodded dumbly, eyeing Zan. “I guess I’ll just take this off first,” he said aloud, unsnapping the top of Zan’s sleeper and reaching to pull one of his arms from the sleeve.

“You don’t have to take the whole thing off,” Diane explained. “Just the snaps by his legs. It’ll be easier for both of you.”

Huh. Good idea. Max mulled over the ingenuity of the design as he freed Zan’s legs and exposed the diaper. Zan had stopped crying by now and was happily kicking his legs and blowing bubbles. Max smiled down at him and couldn’t resist tickling his round little tummy.

“Now for the fun part,” Diane continued with a smile. “Pull the tabs away and lift his legs so you can wipe him off. But, ah, be careful to keep him covered as much as possible so you don’t get sprayed. Sometimes the cold air will do that.”

Despite Zan’s wiggling, as Max pulled the diaper away he couldn’t keep the proud smile from crossing his face. That's my boy.

He had the sudden urge to kick himself then; how completely Neanderthal of him. After placing the clean diaper beneath Zan, he again looked to his mother for assistance.

“Okay, now just pull the tabs up and fasten them tight enough that the diaper will stay on, but not so tight that he can’t breathe,” she instructed, making a face at her grandson. “Then snap him back up and you’re done.”

Max looked down at his son in triumph. He had just changed a diaper. All by himself. Well, mostly. “Thanks, Mom.”

“You’re a natural,” she said, kissing his cheek and reaching for the dirty diaper. “I’ll get rid of this. You finish up with him and then come out for some lunch.”

He watched as she retreated from the bedroom and then turned back to Zan. “Hold still, buddy,” he chuckled, struggling to fit Zan’s kicking feet back into the sleeper.

“Hey Max?” Isabel knocked lightly on the door as she stepped inside.

“Hey Iz.” Max lifted Zan against his shoulder. “Could you take him for a minute? I’m gonna wash my hands.”

Isabel took the baby from her brother and settled onto the edge of the bed as Max headed for the attached bathroom. “Is everyone still here?” he asked.

“Kyle has to work this afternoon and Michael went home to sleep before his shift tonight,” she replied, standing a cooing Zan on the tops of her thighs.

Max nodded, drying his hands and returning to the bedroom. Funny how everyone else was returning to their regularly scheduled lives. Everyone else doesn’t have a son to take care of, he reminded himself, taking the baby back from his sister and sitting down beside her.

“So what’s the plan now, Max?” Isabel asked her blunt question quietly, reaching out and allowing her nephew to take hold of one of her fingers.

Max shook his head silently. “I’m not sure,” he admitted. “Tess is dead, but I don’t know if that makes Zan any safer.”

“If they can still track his scent…” Isabel trailed off, managing a smile at the baby’s iron grip.

“We could leave, but I don’t know where we’d go,” Max continued. “And I’m supposed to graduate in less than a month.” He paused. “Zan’s safety is the most important thing, obviously, but I don’t know what’s the best thing to do.”

Isabel sighed. “Me neither.” She watched as Zan began chewing intently on her finger. “I think the best thing to do right now is feed this little guy.”

The three passed Diane and Jesse in the living room, watching the television for any kind of bulletin or news report that could indicate danger. In the kitchen, Max handed Zan off to Isabel again and began to carefully prepare a bottle as his mother had shown him earlier.

“I don’t think this is a decision I can make on my own,” Max continued, heating the prepared bottle in his hand and testing it awkwardly on his wrist.

Isabel started to reply, but was interrupted by the doorbell. She and Max exchanged a wide-eyed look. “I’ll get it. You stay here,” Isabel said quickly, handing Zan back to Max and hurrying into the hall.

Max gazed down at his son as he latched onto his bottle. His heart was thundering in his chest as he cradled little Zan, vowing he’d keep him safe no matter what happened.

*****

“Long time no see.”

Liz looked up from tying her apron around her waist. “Hey Maria.”

Maria tossed her things into her locker and stretched uncomfortably. “Remind me never to sleep on the floor again.”

“I’m sorry,” Liz said, squeezing her best friend’s shoulder sympathetically.

“Oh, don’t be,” Maria shrugged. “It was my choice to stay. It’s doubtful because she’s leaving for Phoenix this afternoon, but if my mother asks, I spent the night at your place.”

“Yeah, that’s what I told my mom too,” Liz said with a chuckle.

"Told me what?” Nancy Parker asked, breezing into the back room with several empty storage cartons.

Liz shot Maria a look. “Um, that we don’t want you guys taking tons of pictures before Prom,” she said, thinking fast.

Nancy sighed good-naturedly. “Honey, your dad and I feel bad enough that we had to be out of town on Prom last year. I know it doesn’t make up for it, but we want to make sure to get plenty of pictures this time.”

Liz and Maria exchanged another look. Moms. “So where have you been, Mom?”

Nancy looked up from pulling open another box of alien-themed merchandise and smiled innocently. “Around. I could ask you the same thing, you know.”

“Oh, we just…slept in and stuff,” Liz said quickly, grabbing Maria’s arm and leading her toward the swinging door. “Let us know if you need help with that stuff, Mom,” she called over her shoulder.

“Hi girls,” Jeff Parker greeted from where he stood behind the counter, fiddling with the stubborn shake machine. “Lizzie, did you see the front page of the paper today?” he continued, gesturing to the folded paper on the counter.

Liz unfolded the paper and swallowed hard. “Explosion at Rogers Air Force Base,” it read in bold black letters. She and Maria scanned the article anxiously, relieved to see that any information about the mysterious space ship and its’ occupants was still being kept under wraps.

“So they’re, ah, speculating it was some kind of chemical explosion, huh?” Liz commented, turning to her father.

Jeff shrugged. “Sounds like it. Doug Lorenz stopped in this morning. He lives out that way, you know, and he said the damage was unbelievable. They aren’t letting anyone very close, but apparently the explosion took out practically the entire base.”

“It doesn’t look like the officials are saying much,” Liz noted thoughtfully. “Most of the article is just speculation.”

Jeff shrugged again. “They probably want to handle this carefully, after everything they’ve been involved with lately. Don’t want to get any more alien rumors started.” He sighed and chuckled dryly, looking around the café. “Not that we couldn’t use the business.”

“Sorry, Mr. P.,” Maria said, giving him an encouraging pat on the back. The fact was, she was relieved. The less that was said about the incident, the better. But that didn’t explain the increased anxiousness painted across Liz’s face.

*****

“Max!” Isabel’s voice floated in from the front hall a few moments later. “It’s okay, it’s Valenti.”

Breathing a deep sigh of relief, Max made his way into the family room to join them. “Valenti. Did something happen?” he asked, his voice again tinged with anxiousness.

“Not as far as I can tell,” Jim replied, settling into a recliner.

“Sher- ah, Jim,” Diane began, “What have you been able to find out?”

“Unfortunately, not much,” Jim admitted. “What’s left of that base in virtually locked down, and no one’s talking.”

“That’s good, isn’t it?” Jesse spoke up.

“Well, that depends,” Jim continued. “What worries me is the media. If it gets out that it wasn’t a chemical explosion, people are going to want answers from the Air Force.”

“And we don’t know what they’re capable of,” Max said slowly, that reminder settling over all of them as he cradled his son closer.

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 23-May-2002 1:59:57 AM ]
posted on 26-May-2002 5:30:30 PM by McGees
Feedback is so nice, guys!! Here's a new part...I was watching the last scene of 4AAAB last night while writing, and I couldn't believe it, but I was actually in tears. I have a feeling I'm going to get too emotionally involved in this story...though I've gotta say, Zan had me from this moment:
4a57
Yeah. Kate was definitely a goner. *tongue* Anyway, new part! Enjoy!


Part 6
Saturday, 6:02 pm


“So are you heading back over to Isabel’s?” Maria asked, tossing her silver apron into her locker.

Liz glanced around, relieved that neither of her parents was in sight. “Yeah, for a while anyway.”

“Ah, the alien chaos.” Maria sighed dramatically. “Me, I’ve got a date with an empty house, a carton of Chinese food, and a rerun of Saturday Night Live.” She paused as Michael hurried in the back door and nodded at them in greeting. “You’re late.”

“I overslept,” Michael responded shortly, throwing on his baseball cap and heading for the kitchen.

“Michael, have you talked to Max at all?” Liz asked anxiously.

“Nope,” Michael called over his shoulder.

Maria rolled her eyes. “Always so helpful, he is.”

“I better call before I go over,” Liz muttered absently. She pulled her cell phone from her jacket pocket and dialed up Isabel’s number. Max answered on the third ring.

“Ramirez residence.”

“Max?”

“Liz? Is something wrong?”

“No!” Liz assured quickly. “Actually, I was calling to see how everything is over there.”

There was a pause. “Okay.” Max’s voice dropped. “I kind of feel like we’re intruding. Jesse’s freaked out enough by everything, but then to have Zan and I here…anyway, my mom wants us to go back to their house, but I don’t know if that’s such a good idea right now.”

“Max, can you hold on a second?” Liz asked suddenly, the wheels turning furiously in her brain. She placed her hand over the phone and glanced at her best friend. “Maria?”

“Yeah?” she answered, fishing through her purse for her keys.

“Um…how would you feel about sharing that big empty house with a few people?”

Maria’s eyes raised to meet Liz. “Huh?”

Liz bit her lip hopefully. “What if Max and Zan stayed at your place? Just for a few days, of course, until-“

Maria grabbed the phone out of Liz’s hand and said, “Max? Liz will call you right back.” She punched the end button and gaped at Liz. “Are you crazy?”

“No, Maria, I’m not, I just…I’m trying to keep them safe,” she answered softly.

“By getting us all killed if my mother found out?” Maria demanded.

Liz sighed. “I know, I’m sorry. It’s just…Max can’t go back to Michael’s or his parents’ place yet. The authorities could come back and…there’s just no where else safe to go yet.” She closed her eyes, realizing how desperate she was.

Maria was quiet for a moment. “You have to stay too, you know. No way am I going to be changing any diapers if Max has to go off on some kingly mission.”

Liz’s eyes widened and she threw her arms around her best friend. “Maria, you are the best. Better than the best, you’re a…a lifesaver.”

“You do realize this will require compensation. Of the fudge ripple kind,” Maria added smugly.

“Anything,” Liz promised.

“And they have to be out by Friday,” Maria warned. “My mom gets home Friday, and if there’s any indication a baby was living there-“

“Absolutely,” Liz assured. “You’re the boss. She’ll never know we were there.”

“And you also realize I’m only doing this because you’re my best friend,” Maria muttered. “So much for escaping the alien chaos.”

*****

Saturday, 7:12 pm

“You’re sure Maria is okay with this?” Max asked again, lifting Zan’s car seat carrier from the backseat of the Jetta. He glanced around anxiously as Liz came around from the driver’s side.

“It’s fine,” she assured, shouldering her duffel bag and grabbing a bag full of baby supplies. “We just have to keep a low profile about it.”

As they made their way up the Deluca’s front walk, Max glanced at Liz from the corner of his eye. “I’m glad you’re staying too,” he said softly.

Liz smiled and shrugged. “I just told my parents Maria wanted some company for the week. Since the AP tests are done and there’s not much going on in classes, they don’t mind it being school nights.”

Max returned her smile, reaching over with his free hand and quickly squeezing hers as Liz knocked on the door.

Maria answered, carton of Chinese takeout in hand. “Welcome to the Deluca Hotel. Let me show you to your room.” She took the bag from Liz and dropped it on the living room floor, gesturing around with her free arm.

“Maria, I really appreciate this,” Max said sincerely. “I can’t thank you enough-“

She silenced him with a wave of her hand, pausing as she swallowed a forkful of fried rice. “Tell you what. Work some alien magic on the garbage disposal and we’ll call it even.”

“You’re still having problems with that thing?” Liz mused absently as she set down the other bag.

Maria shrugged around another mouthful of rice and crouched down to peer into the baby carrier. “He’s asleep,” she noted.

“I know, he fell asleep in the car. Could I put him somewhere for now?” Max asked.

“Yeah, no problem. He can sleep in my mom’s room.” Maria led Liz and the supplies to the kitchen while Max headed to the bedroom with Zan.

“You do realize you’re the best, don’t you?” Liz said again as she unloaded cans of formula into the refrigerator.

“Of course. But…I mean, it’s only five days. What happens then?”

Liz paused thoughtfully. “I don’t know. Maybe after a few days Max will feel safe enough taking him back to his parents’ house.”

Maria started to reply, but Max reappeared then. “I need to pick up some things from Michael’s. And I guess my mom found something for Zan to sleep in, so…”

“Would you like to use the Jetta?” Maria asked with dry grandeur.

“I’ll fill the tank,” Max offered hopefully.

She tossed him the keys. “You know I’ll never refuse free gas.”

“Thanks, Maria,” Max said again. He gave Liz a quick kiss on the cheek and said, “He should sleep for a while. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

When he was gone, Maria glanced at Liz and arched an eyebrow. “Does he have any idea what he’s doing?”

“Maria, he’s driven the Jetta before-“

“I mean about the baby.”

Liz was silent for a moment. “He’s only had a day…I think some of it comes naturally. The instinct to nurture and protect…but even that doesn’t make it much easier. The only way to do this is to take it day by day.”

Maria nodded. “And hope no one figures it out.”

“Exactly.” Liz paused. “Did you hear that?”

“What?”

Liz listened closely. The distinct sound of a baby crying. “I’ll get him.”

“So much for the kid sleeping for a while,” Maria muttered, taking over the unpacking as Liz hurried to the bedroom.

She pushed the door open and peered through the deepening evening shadows. Zan sat in his carrier near the bed, clearly very unhappy. “What’s the matter, Zan?” Liz asked softly, kneeling before the carrier and unfastening the crying baby.

“Shhh,” she soothed, straightening and lifting him against her shoulder. After walking in slow circles and unsuccessfully trying to quiet him down, Liz gave in and said, “Let’s go see Maria.”

“What’s wrong with him?” Maria asked as Liz reappeared, jiggling a whimpering Zan in her arms.

“Maybe he was lonely,” Liz suggested, shifting Zan so he could look around.

“Maybe.” Maria tickled his tummy and cooed, “Just be happy your evil bitch of a mommy is gone.”

“Maria,” Liz warned as she glanced down at Zan. He smiled at Maria, oblivious.

“See, you agree with me, don’t you, kid?” Maria said triumphantly. “Good thing he’s too young to remember her. Hopefully that’ll prevent some damage.”

Liz, choosing not to comment, pulled up a kitchen chair and sat down. “It looks like he’s been well taken care of, though,” she noted absently, bouncing Zan on her lap.

“Well, whatever,” Maria scoffed, sitting down across from Liz. She watched as Zan’s face quickly began to crumple and he sucked insistently on his fingers. “I think he’s hungry.”

Getting to her feet again, Liz plopped Zan into Maria’s lap and said, “Hold him. I’ll make a bottle.”

As Liz busied herself preparing the formula, Maria held the baby up and inspected him. “You know, he’s actually pretty cute. Who would guess he’s the spawn of Satan?”

"Maria." Liz glared at her. As much as she disliked Tess, the constant mention of her and her connection to the innocent baby wasn’t helping. She had to keep reminding herself that he was Max's. She loved Max, and she was determined love could outweigh hate.

Once she was satisfied the bottle was at an acceptable temperature, she retrieved a hungry Zan and offered it to him. He gladly accepted and began to drink contentedly, satisfied little slurps escaping around his lips.

“Looks like that did the trick,” Maria shrugged.

Liz nodded. “I’ll take him back to your mom’s room and see if he’ll fall asleep again,” she decided, realizing that she had no idea if Zan was on a specific eating or sleeping schedule. Oh well. She was new at this too, after all.

Returning to Amy’s darkened room, Liz eased into the old rocking chair in the corner and cradled Zan in her arms. She gazed down at the baby, her eyes tracing over his tiny features. It baffled her to think that the existence of this little person had caused her such pain for an entire year. She swallowed hard and touched a finger to his cheek. “It’s not your fault,” she murmured. “Please don’t think I’m angry with you.”

Zan’s eyes fluttered up to meet hers. He regarded Liz seriously for a moment before the bottle slipped from his lips and he grinned at her, milk dribbling down his chin.

Liz couldn’t help her soft laughter as she guided the bottle back into his mouth and said, “I know that smile. I get that from your daddy when he’s trying to be cute.” She sighed, leaning her head back against the chair as she watched Zan continue with his bottle. “And it usually works.”

They rocked back and forth, Liz humming softly as Zan’s eyelids began to grow heavy. His tiny hand latched into a fist around Liz’s finger, and he held on tight as he drained his bottle. Neither noticed Max appear in the doorway, gazing silently at his son and his girlfriend.

Liz’s hair spilled over her shoulder and a tender smile crossed her face as the baby in her arms drifted into sleep. Max watched Liz and wondered how he could possibly love her more than he did at this very moment. He couldn’t have imagined a more surreal or more beautiful scene than the one Liz and Zan presented.

He moved quietly across the room, kneeling at her feet as Liz shifted her gaze to meet his. “Hi,” she whispered, glancing back down at the baby. “He’s asleep.”

Max nodded, watched as Liz carefully slid the bottle from Zan’s mouth. He shifted in her arms, contented little noises coming from his throat as Max touched his hand. His finger eased Liz’s hand from Zan’s grip, and he caressed it between his before bringing it to his mouth and pressing a soft kiss into her palm.

After a moment, Max looked up at her and said, “We can put him in this.” He gestured to a large wicker basket, the perfect size for Zan to sleep in. Getting to his feet, he lifted it onto Amy’s bed and then helped Liz to her feet as well. She slowly, carefully eased Zan into the soft blankets, holding her breath as he stirred and then settled back to sleep.

Max slid his arm around her waist, pulling her close and kissing the top of her head. Liz sighed softly and snuggled into his embrace, her hand finding his and squeezing it tightly.

“Thank you, Liz,” Max murmured into her hair.

She nodded silently, resting her cheek against his chest and listening as his heartbeat thumped steadily into her ear. “We’ll get through this, Max.”

He pulled her against him tightly, as if he was afraid to let her go. And he wouldn’t, he vowed to himself. He would never let her go again. If she deemed him worthy enough, Max would hold her forever. “I love you,” he whispered into the peaceful silence.
posted on 3-Jun-2002 11:04:42 PM by McGees
New part...I'm getting the hang of going back and forth between both stories...it's a bit of a challenge at first! Characters are in different places and whatnot...but anyway, thanks for the feedback and please please please keep leaving it!


Part 7
Saturday, 10:44 pm


“Jimmy Fallon is so sexy.”

Liz glanced up at Maria from where she lay on the couch, her head in Max’s lap as they watched Saturday Night Live. “You’ve got a thing for guys with the hair, don’t you?”

Maria made a face. “I have a thing for guys who can play guitar and have a sense of humor, not raging power trips,” she shot back.

Once Jimmy launched his pencil at the camera at the end of the Weekend Update, Maria got to her feet. “I’m gonna make some popcorn, you guys want anything?”

Max was silent, so Liz spoke up, “A couple of cokes would be fine.” Once they were alone, Liz shifted so she could look up at Max’s face. “Max? What’s going on? You didn’t even crack a smile during the Mango skit, it was hilarious.”

He sighed, running his fingers through her long, silky hair. “I’m just thinking.”

Liz sat up, sitting cross-legged beside him and taking his hand in hers. “What about?” she asked gently, though she already knew the answer.

“Us,” Max replied simply.

Taken by surprise, Liz was silent for a moment. “Oh.”

“I guess it’s that I’m not sure-“ Max was cut off by a shriek from the kitchen.

“Oh my god, Maria.” Liz bolted to her feet with Max just behind her.

“Dammit, Kyle Valenti, you scared the shit out of me!” Maria screeched, throwing the box of popcorn at Kyle as he shut the kitchen door behind him.

He held his hands up in surrender. “I guess this isn’t the best time to be looking in your window.”

The sound of Zan crying could now be heard loud and clear over the commotion, and Max ducked out of the kitchen. Liz gazed after him, realizing he hadn’t finished what he was about to say. She sighed. “Kyle, what are you doing here?”

“Hanging out, I guess. It was Michael’s idea,” he explained, retrieving a soda from the refrigerator.

A still rattled Maria looked around pointedly. “I don’t see Spaceboy anywhere.”

Kyle shrugged. “He should be right behind me. He had to finish up at the Crashdown first.”

Maria sighed, retrieving a bag of popcorn from the microwave and muttering something about a peaceful evening at home.

“Um, Kyle?” Liz spoke up. “Does your dad know you’re here? The last thing we need is for one of us to be ‘missing.’”

“Yeah, he knows.” Kyle took a long swig of soda. “He was fine with it, but he’s been really distracted. I think he’s itching to be a part of the investigation so he can get the inside dirt. He hates being out in the dark on anything that happens around here, but when it…when it involves any of us it’s even harder.”

Armed with popcorn and sodas, the three trooped back to the living room. “Your dad is great, Kyle,” Liz agreed. “Everything he’s been through and sacrificed…”

Kyle sighed, sitting back on the couch and propping his feet up. “I know. He’s an amazing man, I just wish he’d see that in himself. It’s his damn pride that keeps him from going back to the department. Okay, so the Kit Shickers thing was fun for a while, but hell, they haven’t had a gig since February. The bills are starting to pile up-“ He paused as Max returned from putting his son back to sleep, and slid over so Max could sit close to Liz. No one really knew for sure, but those two appeared to be getting mighty cozy again. And while Kyle knew Liz and Max were meant for one another, it was only the old Valenti pride that kept him from being insanely jealous.

“Is Zan asleep?” Liz asked quietly.

“Mmm.” Max leaned back against the couch and glanced around the room. “Michael’s not here yet?”

“No, but he should be here any minute,” Kyle offered absently, captivated suddenly by the television screen. “Hey, nobody told me Kirsten Dunst was hosting tonight. Hell yeah.”

*****

Saturday, 11:57 pm

“Where the hell is Spaceboy?” Maria peered through the living room curtains, trying her best to appear nonchalant. Michael would never get the satisfaction of knowing she was worried about him, that was for damn sure.

Liz glanced over at Max, who had begun to pace through the living room. “Closing never takes this long. I’m going to call the café and see if anyone answers,” she decided, heading for the kitchen.

“Try calling his apartment again,” Kyle suggested, shifting to get a better view of the television as Max passed in front of him.

Max dialed up Michael’s on his cell phone, only to be met with ring after ring. “I’m going to try Isabel’s,” he decided.

Isabel’s sleepy voice answered on the third ring. “Max? What’s going on?”

“Have you seen Michael?”

“He had to work tonight,” she reminded with a yawn.

“No one’s seen him since then. We can’t get ahold of him anywhere.”

“Shit,” Isabel muttered. “You don’t think…”

Max sighed. “I don’t know.”

Liz reappeared in the living room then, chewing on her lower lip. “I just called my dad. He said Michael left over an hour ago.”

“I’m going over to his apartment,” Max decided.

“Good idea,” Isabel agreed over the phone. “Call me as soon as you know anything.”

“I don’t want you to go by yourself,” Liz warned, watching as Max tossed his cell phone onto the coffee table. “I’m coming with you.”

Max shook his head. “No, Liz, stay here. It might not be safe.”

Kyle got to his feet. “I’ll go with you. I’ve got some alien juice floating around here somewhere.”

“Be careful,” Maria said anxiously. “Oh god, someone could have gotten into his apartment and-“

“Maria.” Liz took ahold of her arm, silencing her. “Be careful,” she repeated as she watched Max and Kyle head out the front door.

“Oh my god.” Maria sank down onto the couch, burying her face in her hands. “What if they have him, Liz?”

Liz sat down beside her friend, pulling her close. “Max will find him,” she assured, stroking Maria’s hair gently. She wished she could tell Maria that Michael was fine, but the truth was she didn’t know if she believed that herself.

“God, Liz, I’m just so scared,” Maria admitted, choking back tears. “If something happened to him…”

“I know,” Liz whispered, squeezing Maria tight. “I know.”

The two friends sat in silence for several minutes when Liz heard Zan start to cry. “Maria, I’ll be right back,” she promised, giving her another hug before hurrying to the bedroom.

“What’s wrong, baby?” Liz murmured, rubbing the crying infant’s tummy. Her nose wrinkled. “Oh.”

She scooped Zan up with ease, reaching for a clean diaper and wipes before laying him on the floor and kneeling before him. “Okay, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so go easy on me,” she whispered, tickling Zan’s foot through his jammies.

The baby watched Liz with keen interest as she set to work on his diaper. She made a face as she peeled the diaper from his bottom. “Wow, this is pretty impressive.”

Zan’s face broke into a grin. He sure liked this pretty lady. Waving his arms in the air and gurgling, he waited patiently as Liz finished changing him and prepared to dispose of his mess.

“YOU BASTARD!”

Liz’s eyes widened at the commotion from the living room. Zan started as well, his lower lip trembling. She swept him up into her arms and rushed through the kitchen to Maria.

There she stood, her hands planted angrily on her hips as she screeched at a sheepish Michael.

“You scared the hell out of us, Michael! How could you go out there at night?! By yourself?! Without telling anybody?!”

“Hey, hey, calm down,” Michael said, setting his bike helmet on the floor and reaching out for her.

“Don’t touch me! Just be glad I’m too tired to kick your ass!” She spun on her heel, noticing Liz then. “I’m going to bed.”

Liz watched in stunned silence as Maria stalked off to her bedroom and then balanced Zan on her hip as she turned to Michael. “What happened?”

Michael sighed, plodding into the living room and sinking onto the couch. “She’s pissed that I went out to Rogers.”

“You went to Rogers?” Liz repeated incredulously.

Michael flinched. “Look, don’t backhand me or anything. I just wanted to see what was going on out there.”

“By yourself? God, Michael, do you have any idea what could have happened-“

He groaned, burying his face in his hands much like Maria had done not too long before. “Nothing happened. I just needed to see for myself what-“

“We have to call Max,” Liz interrupted suddenly. “He and Kyle went over to your apartment, and he-“

“Forgot his phone,” Michael supplied, nodding toward the coffee table.

Liz sighed. “Take Zan for a minute, I’m going to call Isabel and let her know you’re okay.”

Michael looked at the baby warily. “That kid is a volcano waiting to erupt.”

“He just did,” Liz said wryly, handing Zan over and heading for the kitchen.

“How you doing, kid?” Michael asked gruffly, holding Zan up before him. “Listen, your dad is going to kill me when he gets back. Do you think you could maybe do something really cute and distract him?” He trailed off as the front door opened and Max and Kyle walked in.

“We couldn’t find…Michael.” Max paused, noticing Michael and his son sitting on the couch. “Where the hell have you been?”

“Now would be a good time,” Michael muttered to Zan, who merely cooed and tugged at his hair.

“Michael.” Max’s voice was low and even. “Where were you?”

“I went out to the base,” Michael answered, getting to his feet and staring back at Max cooly.

Max took a step closer. “How could you do something so stupid?”

“Trying to keep us alive is stupid?”

“You could have gotten yourself killed or worse in the process, Michael!”

Liz stepped quietly between the two young men then, easing Zan from Michael’s arms and joining Kyle on the other side of the room. She, too, was interested in Michael’s excuse for his behavior.

“Listen, Maxwell. Don’t get pissed at me. Tess did this, and I’ll be damned if she screws us over too.”

“Too late,” Kyle muttered under his breath.

“You’re screwing yourself over if they find you out there and know you’re connected,” Max reminded tersely.

“Look, right now I think we’re safe. About the explosion, that is. There’s no way they can connect it to Tess directly, and they’ll never have to know the truth.”

“Neither will the media,” Liz spoke up softly. “The media would have a field day with this. It’s one less enemy to worry about.”

“We still can’t make ourselves suspicious,” Max pointed out. “They’ll be watching us, we all know that.”

“But it seems like we might be out of immediate danger,” Kyle added. “They can’t prove we were connected to Tess at all. So as long as they can’t connect the baby…”

Max glanced over at Zan, who was chewing contentedly on a strand of Liz’s long hair. His son could still be in danger. They weren't even close to being past this.

*****

Sunday, 3:02 am

Liz rolled over and yawned. She rubbed her eyes groggily, getting to her feet and being careful not to wake Maria, who was sound asleep in her bed. Maria was right about sleeping on the floor; she’d been tossing and turning for the last three hours. Of course, she didn’t know if it was because of the floor, because of the anxiousness from before, or from what Max had said earlier. Rather, what Max hadn’t had the chance to finish saying earlier. What was Max unsure of? Her? Them, together? She padded out of Maria’s room and down the hall toward the kitchen in search of a glass of water and a distraction from her thoughts.

The door to Amy’s bedroom was open just a crack, and Liz could hear the bed shift slightly. She peered inside.

Max sat atop the bed, his head bowed over Zan’s basket. He wasn’t touching him, wasn’t speaking to him, but was simply watching him sleep. And he looked as if the weight of the world was resting on his shoulders.

He looked up at the soft sound of the door clicking shut. Offering Liz a tight-lipped smile, he returned to his vigil over his son.

“Max. Have you slept at all?” Liz asked softly, taking in the dark rings under his eyes.

Max shook his head as Liz carefully sat down beside him, being careful not to move the bed too much. She peered down into the basket at Zan, who looked absolutely angelic. His fists were curled up close to his ears, his face peaceful. They both watched as his little chest rose and fell with each even breath, soft sighs coming from his throat.

“He’s perfect, Max,” she murmured, reaching over and touching Max’s hand. “He’s healthy, and he’s safe now…he’s with you.”

Max continued to stare down at his son. “I’m scared, Liz.”

Liz squeezed his hand, but was silent as she waited for him to continue. She was scared, too.

“I’m scared of what might happen to him. Not just…not just in the next few days, or weeks, but…I’m scared I won’t be able to keep him safe. I’m scared I’m not going to be a good enough father.” He paused, taking a deep breath. “And I’m scared that I’ll never be able to stop hating his mother. That I’ll never stop cursing what led to his existence. That I’ll never stop wishing he was yours and mine.”

Liz sucked in a breath. “Max…”

“He should have been,” Max whispered.

She was silent for a moment, trying to figure out what to say. Part of her was relieved; he was obviously quite sure about Liz. But the other part… “Zan is completely human, Max. That will keep him safe, safer than the possibility of being half human, half alien.”

Max rubbed his thumb over Liz’s knuckles. “What if she was lying about that too?” He sighed deeply. “I have no idea what to believe anymore.”

“Let’s find out,” Liz suggested thoughtfully.

He turned to her in confusion. “Find out?”

“We’ll go over to my house tomorrow. Take a sample of his cheek cells, like we did in biology. Then we’ll know. Okay?” Liz rubbed his arm soothingly.

Max nodded, unsuccessfully stifling a yawn. “Thank you, Liz.”

“Come here.” Liz opened her arms to him, lying back against the pillows. “You’re completely exhausted.”

He nodded again, resting his head against her chest. “Maybe I can sleep now.”

“Good,” Liz whispered, stroking her fingers through Max’s dark hair. It wasn’t long before the only sound in the room was three peaceful, even breaths.

posted on 15-Jun-2002 6:08:49 PM by McGees
Ugh...page 40. I better get my butt in gear. Sorry about the delay, work has been crazy this week and I haven't had tons of writing time. So this part is quite short, but more will be coming soon. Meant to get it up last night, but then word broke that my buddy Taylor Hanson got himself married, and so then it was just a frenzied internet search for confirmation. I'm too old to be a teenybopper. It's just ridiculous. What can I say, we've all got our vices. *coughRoswellfictioncough* Some of us more than others. *tongue*

Part 8a
Sunday, 9:04 am


Maria stretched, yawning as the morning sun crept through her window and awakened her. Inhaling deeply, she sat up as a delicious smell invaded her nostrils. She shifted her feet to the floor, kicking a pillow in the process.

“Crap, sorry Liz,” she apologized, only to realize that the little nest on the floor was empty. Hmm. Maybe Liz was responsible for the yummy breakfast smell.

Maria padded down the hall and into the kitchen, nearly jumping out of her skin when she encountered Michael at the stove.

“Spaceboy! What the hell are you doing?”

Greeting her with a spatula, Michael shrugged. “Making breakfast.”

She sat down at the table, rubbing her eyes. "Didn't you go home?"

“Nope. Me and Kyle crashed in the living room,” he said simply, turning back to the sizzling bacon. “Kyle had to open the garage for Toby this morning, though.”

“Where’d you get that? My mom doesn’t buy pork.”

Michael shrugged again. “I went to the store.”

Maria’s jaw dropped in surprise. “What?”

“No offense or anything, but you guys don’t keep much carnivore-friendly food in the house.”

Maria rolled her eyes, reaching for the pot of coffee. “My mother’s a vegetarian, genius.”

“Yeah, well that’s no good.” He nodded to another pan on the stove. “But I bought some eggs, and I managed to find some pancake mix, too.”

“My, my, you just pulled out all the stops.” She paused at the counter, lifting an upside-down plate from another. “Oh my god…Spaceboy! You made chocolate chip pancakes! They’re my-“

“Favorite, I know,” Michael smirked, puffing on his knuckles.

“You’re trying to make up for last night, aren’t you.”

“And what if I am.” He busied himself turning the bacon in the pan.

Maria sighed. “Michael, it’s not a matter of making breakfast. You scared the hell out of us.”

“But I was fine,” he reminded. “I did what I needed to do.”

“That’s not the point, Michael,” Maria retorted, planting her hands on her hips. “You can’t just do shit like that without thinking about how it will effect other people. And there are other people involved here, people who care about you. We’re your family, Michael, and-“

“I don’t have a family,” Michael cut in bluntly.

Maria gaped at him, unsure of how to respond, when the door to her mother’s bedroom creaked open.

“Something smells wonderful,” Liz noted, rubbing her sleepy eyes.

Max appeared behind her, Zan against his shoulder. “Tabasco scrambled eggs,” he croaked appreciatively.

Liz paused, noticing her irritated best friend. “Is everything okay?” she asked carefully, her eyes darting from Michael and back to Maria.

“Just peachy,” Maria retorted. “Michael here is frying bacon and any chance of redeeming his jack ass tendencies.” With that, she spun on her heel and stalked out of the kitchen.

Sighing, Liz retreated as well. “Save me some of that bacon,” she called over her shoulder.

Max shook his head, rummaging through the refrigerator. “What happened now?” he asked, retrieving a bottle for Zan.

“Maria’s overreacting again,” Michael shrugged, removing the pan from the stove and dumping the contents onto a plate.

Arching an eyebrow, Max settled at the kitchen table and offered the bottle to Zan, who eagerly accepted and attacked it hungrily. He grinned at his little boy’s appetite. Like father, like son. “Is this about last night?” Max continued.

“Of course.” Michael sank down at the table across from Max, prepared for another reaming.

“Can you blame her? You really gave us a scare.” Max’s gaze was focused solely on Zan, who’s little hands patted at his daddy’s as they supported the bottle.

Michael eyed Max, realizing his attention was elsewhere. “So I guess I shouldn’t tell you that I ran into Lonnie and Rath in the dairy aisle,” he said dryly.

Max’s head shot up at the mention of the dupes. “What?”

“Kidding.” Ignoring Max’s warning glare, he continued, “I thought it needed to be done. I mean, you’re kind of occupied, and I am the second in command-“

“This isn’t about who’s in charge, Michael,” Max replied seriously. “We’re all responsible for staying safe, and going out to Rogers wasn't.." He paused for a minute, clearly deep in thought. “Do you really think Zan is safe?”

Michael’s eyes shifted to the baby in Max’s arms. “For now,” he said quietly.

*****

“I’m so sick of this!”

Liz sat quietly on the bed, watching as her best friend paced around the bedroom.

“It’s this damn alien chaos, Liz! I’ve been saying it for years. It’s completely taken over my life!”

“That’s kind of your choice, Maria,” Liz reminded her gently.

“Not when they’ve set up camp in my kitchen,” she muttered darkly.

Liz sighed. “Okay. You’ve got a point there. But Michael? You’re letting yourself get worked up over him.”

“I think he did something to my head,” Maria continued decisively, ignorning Liz’s look of exasperation. “I mean, nothing else explains why I keep getting myself involved with his life, making myself sick worrying about him, letting him drive the Jetta-“

Liz got to her feet, slinging her bag over her shoulder. “Maybe you’re still in love with him.” She paused for a moment, a mysterious grin on her face. “I’m gonna take a shower, Max and I are taking Zan to my house in a little while.” And with that, she left a very frustrated, blushing Maria to ponder this theory.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 15-Jun-2002 6:24:18 PM ]
posted on 19-Jun-2002 11:54:07 PM by McGees
Here's the second part of 8...I'll be back with more ASAP - woo, a whole part at once - so please leave me some words of your own. Or feedback would be fine, too. ;)


8b
Sunday, 10:46 am


“So what do we tell my parents?” Liz asked, settling Zan into his car seat.

Max thought about this, lifting the carrier off the DeLuca’s couch. “It wouldn’t be safe to tell anyone he’s my son,” he mused. “I guess…I guess we could tell them he’s my cousin’s baby…that he’s staying with us for a few days until we can think of something else.”

Liz arched an eyebrow. “Is this the same cousin in the car accident?”

Max smiled wryly. “That would be the one.” He pulled the front door shut behind them and hurried across the lawn as Maria leaned on the horn.

“I’m gonna be late for my shift,” she complained from the front seat of the Jetta.

Liz tossed a diaper bag into the backseat before Max settled Zan there, fastening the seat belt with some quick alien magic. He climbed in beside him as Liz hopped in front. “You’ll be right on time,” she assured.

Maria glanced in the rearview mirror at Max and Zan. “So why exactly are you taking the kid to the Crashdown? We know agents have been hanging around. Penne pasta my ass,” she grumbled.

Liz reached behind the seat and tickled Zan’s tummy, making him giggle in delight. “Just doing an experiment.”

Max winced slightly. It was just the scientist in Liz talking, but the thought of an “experiment” being done on his son sent a chill through him.

Noticing the pained look on Max’s face, Liz realized what she’d said. “I…I mean, we’re going to test Zan’s cells…make sure they’re human.”

Maria nodded, her eyes focused on the road. “Never can trust that bitch,” she muttered.

After parking in the small lot behind the Crashdown, Maria hurried inside. Max and Liz followed more slowly. When Max was satisfied the alley was deserted, he removed a sleeping Zan’s carrier and they headed in the back door.

“We can just go up the back stairs, and no one will ever know we’re -“ Liz paused as her mother appeared at the top of the stairs, engrossed in paperwork.

“Oh hi, honey,” Nancy said, looking up and noticing her daughter and Max. “Don’t you have the day off?”

“Yeah, we’re just…”

“Hanging out?” Nancy smiled. “I understand. How are you, Max? Ready for graduation?”

“Definitely,” he answered politely, shifting Zan’s carrier to the other arm.

Spying the back of the carrier, Nancy looked at Max questioningly. “Is that for a class? One of those…oh what are they called, think-it-over babies? I’ve seen some of the kids in here with those.”

Zan gurgled in his sleep then, making Nancy jump in surprise. Her eyes widened when Max turned the carrier around and she caught sight of a very real baby. “I, uh, I didn’t realize they started using real ones,” she chuckled.

“This is…Max’s cousin, Mom,” Liz explained, glancing up at Max.

Max cleared his throat. “My cousin’s son, actually,” he continued. “He’s, uh, got business up in Albuquerque, so Zan is staying with us.”

“Zan?” Nancy arched an eyebrow.

“His name,” Max explained, then quickly added, “It’s a family name.”

“Hm. Unique.” Nancy peered into the carrier. “He’s just darling. How old is he?”

Liz and Max exchanged another look. “Three months,” Max offered.

“He’s a big boy,” Nancy noted, smiling at the sleeping baby before straightening. “Well, I’ve got to get these stock orders to your dad. What are you up to?”

“I’m just taking some things over to Maria’s,” Liz said. “I’m going to take the Volvo, if that’s okay.”

“Sure. And stick around for lunch, okay?” Nancy pecked her daughter’s cheek and continued into the café.

Liz’s eyes flashed with guilt for a fraction of a second, but it was enough for Max to sense. He hated that Liz constantly had to lie to her parents. It was because of him, of who he was, that she had to cover up for him.

“Max.” He felt her hand on his arm. “I saw that look. Stop it.”

He lowered his eyes as they ascended the stairs. “I’m sorry.”

Liz shook her head. They weren’t going to play that game again. She led him through the apartment and to her bedroom.

Max shut the door behind them and set Zan’s carrier on the floor. He watched Liz rummage through her closet, finally retrieving a large box and placing it on her desk.

After quickly assembling the microscope and needed supplies, Liz glanced from Zan to Max. “How do you want to do this? We could swab some cheek cells…or take his blood…”

Max’s brow creased in thought as he studied his sleeping son. “Blood would probably be more thorough,” he finally resigned.

Liz nodded. “Probably,” she admitted.

Max sighed, scooping Zan out of his carrier. Awakened by the sudden movement, Zan whimpered in surprise. “Sorry, buddy,” Max murmured, moving to the bed and sitting down. He studied the baby’s hand. “His fingers are so tiny, Liz. Where do we get the blood from?”

“I think you take a baby’s blood from the heel of his foot,” she answered thoughtfully as she carefully unwrapped a sterilized needle and moved to sit beside Max and Zan.

“Oh.” Max swallowed hard as she handed him the needle and began unfastening the bottom snaps of Zan’s sleeper. His heart constricted at the thought of his son’s eyes filling with tears and his lower lip trembling…the thought of causing his little boy pain was more than he could bear.

Noticing his hesitation, Liz touched Max’s hand. “If you want me to, I can –“

“No, I’ll do it…” He kissed the top of Zan’s head and then pressed his hand into the baby’s foot.

Liz watched the glow from Max’s hand, and then the look of serious concentration on his face as he pricked Zan’s heel and smeared a drop of blood onto the waiting slide. Zan, too, watched in sleepy curiosity, patting at his daddy’s arm, and Liz’s heart swelled with love. Max had numbed Zan’s foot and then healed it before Zan even realized what was happening.

“All done,” Max whispered against the top of his son’s head. He glanced up at Liz again, his eyes still filled with anxiety.

Liz cupped a soothing hand under his chin. “Hey. Let’s get this over with, okay?”

Max nodded silently, pulling Zan against his chest and watching as Liz put the slide together. She glanced up, giving him a reassuring smile before slipping it under the microscope. He watched, holding his breath as Liz squinted and adjusted the dial. Finally, finally she moved back over to Max and bent over, placing a kiss on Zan’s forehead.

“100% normal,” she said, lifting her eyes to Max.

“Are you…?” He searched Liz’s eyes questioningly for a moment before handing Zan to her and checking the slide himself. As his eyes adjusted, he let out a huge sigh of relief. The cells were round and pink and hell, they had a nucleus…completely human.

“Thank god,” he breathed. His son would never know what it was like to be ostracized for being different; he would never have to fear a simple trip to the doctor. And these people, whoever they were, would never have a reason to study him.

“So Tess was telling the truth,” Liz was saying quietly as she placed a sleepy Zan back in his carrier and rocked it gently back and forth.

Max braced his hands on the desk and nodded, staring down at the wood surface deep in thought.

Liz hesitated for a moment and then got to her feet, wrapping her arms around him. “What are you thinking about?”

He was silent for a minute, his focus turned to Liz – her arms around his waist, her body pressed against his, her warm breath tickling the back of his neck. All other thoughts flew from his mind as he spun around and took her in his arms.

Liz felt the breath whoosh out of her as Max’s lips descended on her for the first time since this had all begun. His tongue begged for entrance, and she conceded. She reveled in the feeling of him, drinking her, consuming her, leaving her breathless just from his kisses.

It took every ounce of strength she had to pull away. Resting her hands on Max’s chest, she gazed up at him. “Max, what are we…Zan’s right here…”

Max turned to the baby, who was already sleeping soundly. “He’s asleep.” He touched Liz’s cheek gently, turning her attention back to him. “I’m sorry, Liz, I just…I couldn’t help it.”

Liz smiled faintly, resting her forehead against his. “I don’t mind.”

“I’m glad,” Max murmured, nipping gently at her bottom lip. He needed Liz so much, in so many ways…and right now it appeared the physical need was winning.

He lifted her into his arms and set her gently on the bed, never breaking their kiss even as he settled next to her. Liz smiled against his lips as they once again found themselves in that spot. How things could change in a day. But all those thoughts faded from her consciousness as Max detached his lips from hers and began a trail of soft kisses along her jaw and neck.

Liz let out a soft sigh, sliding her leg between Max’s knees. She felt Max’s breath catch as her thigh rubbed up against his arousal, and she leaned in to kiss him again.

Max’s hands began to wander, rubbing along her back until he reached the hem of her shirt. Liz nodded vigorously against him, and his hands slipped up and under to caress her soft skin. His fingers grazed the underside of her breasts through her bra, and the breathy moan he received only served to excite him even more.

“You’re so beautiful, Liz,” he whispered, his hot breath tickling against her ear. “Can I touch you?”

Liz nodded, her skin flushed in anticipation as his fingers flicked at the front snap and freed her to his searching hands. Max cupped her gently, his thumb running in small circles that were slowly driving her crazy.

“Mmm…Max…” Liz suckled at the sensitive skin below his ear, already regretting what she was about to say. “We…we shouldn’t…we can’t get too…”

“I know,” Max sighed. He slowly withdrew his hand from beneath her shirt, allowing a few last lingering touches, and then proceeded to wave his hand and fasten her bra.

“Thanks,” she murmured, kissing him tenderly. She hated to feel like she was leading him on, but…

“Hey.” Max tilted her chin up and traced his finger over her lips. “I understand.”

Liz nodded. “I know.” She snuggled closer, resting her head against Max’s chest. There was no hurry, and the risk of getting caught in such a compromising position – with a baby in the room, for pete’s sake – wasn’t something either wanted to gamble with just then.

“It’s okay with me, you know,” Max continued, his voice rumbling against Liz’s ear. “I’m just happy to hold you.” He buried his nose in the crown of her shiny hair, inhaling the faint smell of coconut and Liz. Huh. She must have used Maria’s shampoo today. He was used to strawberries, but “Liz” seemed to go with anything.

He glanced over Liz to take a peek at Zan, who was still sleeping soundly, and stifled a yawn. “Maybe he has the right idea.”

Liz craned her neck to peer at the baby and then smiled. “Those 3 am feedings getting to you already?” she teased.

Max ruffled her hair, pulling her close to him again. “I’m still getting used to all this.”

“Mmm.” Liz yawned, feeling her eyes grow heavy. Max was too warm, too comfortable…it was only a matter of minutes before both joined Zan in a much needed naptime.

*****

Sunday, 12:41 pm

Max’s eyes drifted open, squinting into the sun as he recalled where he was. He propped himself up on his elbow and gazed down at Liz. Her long hair spread out behind her, curled up against his side, and he could feel her chest rising and falling with each even breath.

My Liz, he thought lovingly, reaching down to caress her cheek. How he had loved waking up beside her lately…

Liz stirred against him then, her eyes fluttering open. “Max?”

“Hi,” he smiled. “Did you have a good nap?”

“Mmm. What time is it?” Liz sat up, rubbing her eyes.

Max sat up as well, squinting toward the clock. He stopped short, his heart leaping into his throat. “Liz?” he croaked.

Liz turned. “What’s…oh my god.” She clapped her hand to her mouth. “Oh my god, he’s gone.”
posted on 4-Jul-2002 1:22:55 PM by McGees
Sorry for the delay in the next part, guys! Work and such hasn't left me with much writing time, and I've been spending most of that working on my other story, Never Let You Down. (check it out if you want!) But I'm working on the next part and I hope to have it out in the next week or so. A few of us are going down to the Tacky Capital of America, aka Branson, MO, for a few days, and hopefully I'll have some writing time in the car. Have a great 4th of July, everyone, and thanks for the feedback!
posted on 21-Jul-2002 8:17:05 AM by McGees
Thanks for bumping, and sorry it's been so long! Between real life and writer's block, things have been coming along quite slowly. I'm hoping to get back on track, though, so I'm planning on there being more (and longer!) soon, but I wanted to put up what I have.


9a
Sunday, 12:42 pm


“Oh my god, he’s gone.” Liz scrambled to her feet behind Max as he rushed to the empty carrier. Her eyes instinctively scanned the floor around it for any sign of Zan, but she reminded herself that the baby was far too young to escape the carrier on his own.

Max scrubbed his fingers over his face, trying to force down the panic that was rising in his throat. He glanced toward the window, the flimsy curtains fluttering in the spring breeze, and felt his heart constrict.

Following his gaze, Liz touched his arm. “I wasn’t thinking, Max. I should have closed and locked it-“

He shook his head silently. This wasn’t her fault, it was his. He was a father now, he was responsible for his son’s safety. “Don’t, Liz, he said sharply. “This isn’t your problem.”

Liz was stung by his words, but she recovered quickly. “We would have heard something,” she mused, beginning to wring her hands. “It’s the middle of the day, they wouldn’t risk-“

“They’ve got nothing left to lose, Liz,” Max interrupted, his face drawn.

“Maria. Maybe she heard or saw something,” Liz said suddenly, grabbing Max’s hand and dragging him out of the bedroom.

They hurried through the empty apartment and down the stairs to the café just as Maria was backing through the door with a stack of dirty plates.

“Oh hey. I was just about to come up and heat Zan’s bottle,” she said over her shoulder. “We figured you two would be cashed out a while longer.”

Max practically spun Maria around. “You have Zan?” he demanded.

Giving Max a strange look, Maria replied, “He’s out there with your mom, Liz.”

Without another word, Max pushed out into the café. His eyes settled on the counter – on Zan. He was happily blowing bubbles at Nancy as she balanced him on the plastic surface.

Nancy looked up in surprise as Max took the baby from her. Liz was right behind him, resting her hand on his back as he held his son close. “Did you two have a nice nap?” Nancy asked, arching an eyebrow at her daughter and Max. It was a good thing Jeff was still in Hondo picking up an order. She doubted the sight of Lizzie and Max curled up together on Liz’s bed would have made him very happy.

“Mom, you scared us,” Liz managed, her hand tight on Max’s trembling arm. “When we woke up and couldn’t find Zan-“

“I’m sorry, honey. I poked my head in and you two were sound asleep. Zan looked a little antsy, so I thought I’d bring him down here with me for a while,” Nancy explained.

“Thank you for keeping an eye on him, Mrs. Parker,” Max finally spoke up, his hand cupping the back of Zan’s head close to him. The weight of the baby in his arms, his warm breath puffing against his throat, was beginning to slow his racing heart. The sheer panic he had just experienced, the thought of his son being taken from him by those monsters, was enough to make him never put Zan down again.

Nancy tried not to be obvious as she watched Max handle his cousin’s baby with such care. The tenderness showed with each movement, as he soothed the little boy with soft murmurs, pressing gentle kisses to the crown of his head, acting more like a father would with his son.

“He was getting hungry.” Maria appeared again, this time with Zan’s bottle. She handed it to Max and casually nudged Liz, who merely gave a quick shake of her head.

Liz sat down on the stool beside Max as he guided the bottle to the infant’s mouth. It was obvious that he was incredibly shaken up by what had just happened, and she still couldn’t shake the way he’d spoken to her earlier. The strain of the past few days was catching up to them all. Reaching over to squeeze Zan’s tiny foot, Liz sighed. Somehow, she knew it was just the beginning.


posted on 29-Jul-2002 1:02:01 AM by McGees
I do believe my muse has returned. So yay, a new part! And I caught some of an old Angel episode earlier...with our little Zan/Conor! That was the only reason I watched it, just because he's an absolute doll. Does anyone know what his real name is? Anyway. Back to fiction.


9b
Sunday, 4:46 pm


“Maria.”

“No, Liz.”

"Maria." Liz held out the phone impatiently. “Talk to him, please.”

Maria crossed her arms stubbornly. “Just tell him I’m not home.”

Liz rolled her eyes and returned the receiver to her ear. “Michael? Yeah, that was Maria. She says she’s not home. Uh-huh. Okay. Yeah, I’ll tell her. Bye.”

“What was that?” Maria asked suspiciously as Liz hung up the phone.

“Michael says to take your Midol,” she replied, opening the refrigerator for a bottle.

“Bastard,” Maria muttered, stalking out of the kitchen. She passed Max in the living room, attempting to comfort a fussing Zan and talk on his cell phone at the same time.

“Can you take him for a minute?” Max asked over Zan’s hungry cries as he balanced the phone between his ear and his shoulder.

Maria sighed dramatically, but held out her hands to the baby. “C’mere, kid.”

“Thank you,” Max mouthed before sitting down and returning to his conversation.

Circling back toward the kitchen, Maria bounced Zan on her hip in an attempt to quiet him. He continued to cry, chewing frustratedly on a strand of her hair. “Hang on, Lizzie’s making your bottle,” she said, wincing as he tugged.

“It’s coming, buddy,” Liz soothed, taking the baby from Maria and prying her dampened hair free of his tight grip. “Almost done.” She plucked the bottle from the pot of hot water and grabbed Maria’s arm.

“What are you-“ Maria began as Liz shook a drop of milk onto her wrist.

“Too hot?”

“No, it’s fine,” she answered, watching as Liz nodded in satisfaction and offered the bottle to Zan. He latched on hungrily, his whimpers fading into contented slurps.

Murmuring to him and wiping the tearstains from his pink cheeks, Liz slowly moved into Amy’s room. She knew he’d be asleep before too long; his eyelids were already growing heavy.

“What’s going on?” Maria sank into a recliner in the living room just as Max hung up his phone, rubbing at his temple.

“That was Valenti. He’s concerned about the lack of publicity on the Roger’s explosion,” Max explained with a heavy sigh, setting his phone on the table and leaning back against the couch.

“Wait, I thought we decided that was a good thing.”

“We’re not sure,” Max responded, hunching forward and resting his elbows on his knees. “He thinks it’s strange that they’re refusing to let the media get close.”

“But it’s a crime scene,” Maria argued.

“That’s what I said,” Max sighed. “But Valenti reminded me that they don’t know that. They don’t know what caused it for sure. And the fact that they’re already declaring it a natural explosion yet treating it like a crime is suspicious.”

Maria gripped the armrests anxiously. “So what do we do?”

“We wait,” Max said simply, getting to his feet. “Valenti’s coming by later tonight. I’m going to check on Zan.” He crossed the living room, glancing out the window just in time to see Michael heading up the front walk with a large grocery bag.

This could get interesting, Max thought dryly. He pushed Amy’s bedroom door open and peered inside. “Hey,” he whispered, his agitation fading just slightly at the sight of Liz and Zan. His family. The thought made him smile.

Liz glanced up, raising a finger to her lips. Zan had drifted off to sleep, his little mouth still working at the bottle.

Max approached them quietly and was about to crouch beside the rocker when their peacefulness was shattered.

“GET OUT!”

Liz jumped at Maria’s sudden shouting, and Zan, too, was jolted from slumber.

“It’s just Michael,” Max reassured dryly, and Liz shook her head.

“FUCK YOUR SPAGHETTI!”

Zan burst into startled tears from the yelling, spitting out his bottle and dribbling milk down his chin.

“Shhh,” Liz soothed, taking the cloth from the arm of the rocker and cleaning him up before lifting him against her shoulder. “It’s okay, Zan,” she murmured, rubbing his little back as she rocked back and forth.

Max took the forgotten bottle from Liz and then simply watched as Zan’s cries faded into whimpers, and finally into nothing more than soft sighs as his head lolled onto Liz’s shoulder. “You’re incredible with him,” he murmured.

Liz was silent for a moment, kissing the top of Zan’s head before she turned hurt eyes back to Max. “And yet he’s not my problem. Isn’t that what you said before, Max?”

“I didn’t-“ Max abruptly cut himself off. He did say that, didn’t he? “I…Liz, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it the way it-“

“Hush. He’s sleeping.” Liz got to her feet, all her attention focused on not jostling Zan, and proceeded to lower him into his basket without so much as a glance in Max’s direction.

Max stepped forward, laying his hand on Liz’s arm. “Please, Liz,” he whispered. He couldn’t bear it if she was angry with him, not right now. Why did he have to go and say such stupid things?

Shrugging away, Liz wrapped her arms around herself defensively. She wasn’t in the mood for one of Max’s apologies or explanations. Taking care of such a young child took energy; she was tired. Tired of so many things – tired of Max acting like he didn’t need her, of his flippant reaction to all she’d done for him, or tried to do. She’d exhausted all her resources in the past year to help him find his son. And now that he had, she’d stepped forward without hesitation and was helping him care for Zan. Was she crazy? Or maybe just expendable.

Liz reached into the basket and adjusted the thin blankets around Zan. As her finger brushed over his, they curled around and held her tight. She felt some of her anger melt away as she realized that she’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Max watched with some relief as a faint smile crossed Liz’s face. But before he could say a word, Liz stepped past him. “It’s too quiet out there,” she muttered. “I’m going to see what’s going on.”

Leaving Max in the dim room, Liz headed out into the kitchen. Michael was its only occupant, standing at the stove and stirring a pot of water. “Hi Michael.”

“Hey Liz.”

When he offered nothing more, Liz continued in her search for Maria. Sharpening her claws, no doubt, Liz thought wryly as she wandered down the hall to Maria’s room.

Max carefully shut the door behind his sleeping son and nearly ran into Michael. He was bustling about, setting plates on the table and checking up on the bubbling tomato sauce. “You’re cooking again?” Max asked in surprise.

“Well, yeah, I mean I know Maria doesn’t exactly like to do it, and with extra people here I just figured…” Michael shrugged. “Preheat the oven to 350, will you?”

“You never cook for us at home,” Max muttered, twisting the knob on the stove.

“You haven’t been home for dinner lately, honey."

Max pulled up a chair at the table. Fair enough. He’d had most of his meals at the Crashdown lately, spending Liz’s break with her whenever he could.

“What’s going on with you and Liz anyway?” Michael was asking.

Oh, great. Had he picked up on his assholish-ness, too? Michael, of all people. “Why?” he asked suspiciously.

“I mean are you two back together or what?” Michael demanded.

Oh. “Oh.” That was a good question. Max’s feelings for her hadn’t changed since…well, since forever, as far as he was concerned. But after the events that led Liz to Vermont…he wasn’t entirely certain how she felt about him. Sure, they were close and had made out a little and, hell, she brought him back to life, but…did she still feel for him what he knew he would always feel for her?

“Earth to Maxwell.”

“Sorry,” Max muttered, snapping out of his thoughts.

Michael slid a tray of garlic bread into the oven. “She must be feeling something or else she wouldn’t be helping your sorry ass with Zan,” he announced bluntly.

“Thanks, Michael,” Max replied bitterly.

“What are you getting so defensive about? Maria doesn’t even want me in her kitchen,” Michael reminded. “I don’t know why she’s gotta get so pissed when I’m actually trying to do something nice.” He paused, eyeing the spaghetti sauce on the stove. “Think it would work if I dissolved some Midol in this stuff?”

On the other side of the house, Liz pushed open the bedroom door. “Maria?” She lay on her bed, eyes closed, a vial of cedar oil clenched in her hand.

“He’s making spaghetti.”

“Oh.”

“The bastard.”

Liz flopped down onto the bed beside Maria. “What exactly was the offense this time?”

Maria inhaled a generous amount of the soothing oil. “He just agitates me, Liz. My nerves are shot.”

“And this makes him a bastard for cooking dinner because-“

“Because he can’t keep doing this to me,” Maria burst out, sitting up and drawing her knees to her chest.

“Doing what?” Liz urged gently, touching her friend’s back.

"This," Maria replied miserably. “Scaring me to death and then trying to make up for it by being wonderful. I can’t…I can’t handle it. My heart can’t.”

“I know,” Liz murmured, rubbing Maria’s back soothingly. “You shouldn’t have to.”

Maria sighed in frustration. “But I guess that’s part of what you sign on to when you decide to care about Michael Guerin.”

“The bastard,” Liz completed in unison with her best friend.

“So,” Maria continued, turning to sit cross-legged before Liz. “It’s been a bit chilly between you and Max this afternoon. Care to tell Maria what’s going on?”

Liz shook her head. “Not especially.”

“Why do we do it, Petunia?” Maria lamented. “Why do we put up with the alien chaos?”

Liz was quiet for a moment before she spoke. “It’s all we know.”

posted on 22-Aug-2002 9:27:09 AM by McGees
You guys are great! Thanks for the bumps! Sorry it's taken me so long to update...almost a month, sheesh. The last couple of weeks have been hectic, with work and getting ready to go back to school. I promise to have the next part up real soon...my computer will be up and running again this weekend.


10
Sunday, 10:02 pm


It’s May 12. I’m Liz Parker, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what Maria said tonight. Why do we put up with the alien chaos? Like I told her, it’s encompassed almost three years of our lives – it’s all we know. It’s shaped who we’ve become, what we believe…what is important to us. And when I think back to where I was a year ago, mourning for Alex and for what appeared to be the end of any kind of relationship with Max…I wonder what’s gotten me this far. But if I take a good look at myself, I start to figure it out. I’ve gotten stronger, so much stronger than little Lizzie Parker who had a run in with the supernatural when she was sixteen.
It was so different then, before she came along. Before I started to have doubts. But I can’t let it hang over my head for the rest of my life. I’m graduating soon, and maybe…maybe graduating means leaving Roswell. Leaving what’s become my life. Sometimes it seems like the only way to –


“Liz?”

Shifting her journal, Liz peered across the Deluca’s dimly lit front porch. Max stood, his shape illuminated in the doorway. “Over here,” she spoke up quietly.

Max slowly made his way over to the porch swing. “Do you mind if I sit?”

Liz patted the space beside her. “Go ahead.”

“Thanks.” He sank down beside her. “Valenti’s going to be leaving pretty quick.”

“Did I miss much?” she asked. After the first half-hour or so of their meeting with Valenti, Liz had excused herself in favor of some alone time.

“He was mostly going over the things he told me on the phone with Michael and Isabel,” Max answered. “The police not being involved in the investigation, which is keeping the media away…” He trailed off. “Anyway, they’ll all be leaving soon, so we can go to bed and…Isabel doesn’t have class tomorrow, so she’s going to watch Zan while we’re at school…” He was rambling and he knew it. Most likely, it was to overcompensate for the fear that Liz would hardly speak two words to him – like she’d been doing most of the evening. Not that he didn’t deserve it. Hell, he deserved a lot worse than that for the way he’d treated her.

“Liz?” he spoke up suddenly. “About earlier-“

“Are you guys out here?” Isabel appeared in the doorway. “We’re going to get going.”

Max glanced over at Liz apologetically before getting to his feet. “So we’re all on the same page now?”

“Laying low,” Isabel answered promptly. “Nothing we haven’t done before.”

Stepping over to give his sister a hug, he said, “I’ll drop Zan off before school. Thanks again, Iz. For…for everything.”

Isabel nodded, returning Max’s tight embrace. “Try to get some sleep tonight, okay?”

As Isabel made her way down the front walk, Jim and Kyle appeared. “We’re heading out, Max. Liz,” he added, nodding to her where she still sat on the swing.

“Thank you,” Max said quietly. “You’ve done so much for us, and-“

“Say no more,” Jim interrupted. “We’re in this with you, Max. You know that. Anything we can do…”

Max nodded, reaching out to shake his hand. “Let us know if anything comes up…”

“You know we will.”

“’Night, Liz,” Kyle called, offering a wave.

“’Night, guys,” Liz answered, pulling her jean jacket tighter.

And finally, Max and Liz were alone. He approached her carefully, his hands buried in his pockets. “Liz, I think we need to talk,” he spoke up softly.

Liz lifted her chin and looked up at him squarely. “Go ahead.”

Max sighed. It didn’t look like she intended to make this easy on him. And why should she? he asked himself. Maybe it was about time he put his ass on the line. “Look, Liz, we’ve been through a lot this past year,” he began, then paused. It was true, of course, but why state the obvious? He gazed down at her, waiting until he was sure her eyes were meeting his. “I’m so sorry, Liz,” he whispered.

Liz continued staring evenly at him. “You say that a lot, Max.”

Swallowing hard, Max removed his hands from his pockets. “I…I know. I know I do, but I do mean it. I just…God, Liz, sometimes I feel so lost.” How could he possibly explain to her how he hated himself for hurting her? But suddenly, it all came tumbling out of his mouth…out of his heart. “Sometimes…Liz, I wish I could just go back and erase everything that went wrong, everything that hurt us. I never wanted to hurt you, Liz. You’ve got to believe me. I’m sorry for everything that’s hurt you.” Again he repeated the only phrase that came to mind, the phrase he wished with every fiber of his being would wipe away the memories and allow them to return to their past.

Liz’s expressionless face began to waver just slightly as she listened to Max speak. As he knelt down at her feet, her chin began to tremble.

“Liz, I…please don’t cry,” he whispered, reaching for her hands.

“No!” she burst out suddenly, jerking away. The tears were coming fast now, and she swiped at them with her hand. “Max, I know you’re sorry. I know you didn’t want to hurt me. But…but you did. And sometimes I wonder if I meant anything to you-“

“Don’t ever think that,” Max interrupted, his voice choked. “You mean everything to me, Liz. You are my everything. Without you…God, without you, I wouldn’t have made it through this past year.” He paused, his eyes bright with tears of his own. “Liz, you’ve saved me so many times. More than you know.” He took a deep, shuddering breath, searching her eyes. “Thank you.”

*****

“Didn’t you leave?”

Michael glanced up at Maria, who was speaking around her toothbrush and a mouthful of foam. “Nope.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Sorry. Dumb question. Let me reiterate. Why are you still here?”

“Max and Liz are talking,” he said simply. Any offense to Maria’s chilly attitude was unnoticeable, as Michael proceeded to lean back on the couch and kick up his feet.

Letting out a frustrated groan, Maria hurried to the bathroom to rinse out her mouth. She returned moments later, hands on her hips. “And is there a reason that’s holding you captive in my house?” she demanded.

“I don’t want to interrupt,” Michael explained. “It sounds pretty intense, and…I don’t know, I don’t want Liz blasting me against any walls.”

Maria eyed him for a moment. “Fine. You can stay until they’re done talking. I’m going to bed.” She started to turn, then stopped. “If the kid starts crying, he’s yours. You’re closer.”

Michael nodded silently, dismissing her with a wave of his hand before stretching out on the couch and closing his eyes.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 22-Aug-2002 9:31:00 AM ]
posted on 26-Aug-2002 1:04:30 AM by McGees
Thanks for the bumpage! I'm so glad I was able to keep my promise and get more up this weekend. Well, almost. Let me know what you think about this part...more soon, I hope!

10b
10:34 pm


Max’s eyes searched Liz’s as he offered two words he had said so little of in the past year. Thank you.. It echoed through his mind, all the times he should have said it, all the times he took her for granted. As if she’d just always be there. But that wasn’t true. Hell, he know that first hand – he’d healed her, after all. The sob rose in his throat as he recalled that day…the day his life began. What had be been thinking all these months? “Oh god, Liz,” he sobbed, reaching for her hands.

This time she allowed him to touch her, seeing the pure anguish in his amber eyes. It was then that she was hit with a barrage of images. Moments she knew so well…but through his eyes. His hands on her body, knitting her flesh, saving her life…their first kiss, and the electricity that sizzled between them…but there were others, moments that nearly made her pull away from their contact. Moments that she could feel…his confusion, his terror…his revulsion…his pain…moments that changed both of their lives forever. The moments that were tentative steps back to each other…his hope and his joy and his love…love that surged through him…and the responsibility and fear that held him at bay.

“Liz,” he breathed, his tears flowing unchecked from his eyes. “Thank you for helping me…and…and for loving me…”

Still silent, Liz reached up and smoothed the tears from his cheeks. “I never stopped, Max,” she whispered finally.

“I know it’s stupid,” he continued quietly, “but I didn’t – I couldn’t – believe you’d stay. I…I was sure you’d leave me. I know I don’t deserve you, Liz. I never have.”

She was torn. The truth was crystal clear in his eyes…his pain, his sorrow, his fear…but it didn’t excuse the way he’d treated her. She knew that. He knew that. “It’s not about that, Max,” she whispered. “It’s…you keep hurting me. I know you don’t mean to, but you do. I’m so tired of feeling expendable.”

Max started to open his mouth, but Liz quickly continued. “Words, Max…they don’t mean much anymore. You keep apologizing to me, and I know you mean it…but you don’t act like it.”

He bit back the urge to apologize again. Everything she was saying was true. Why hadn’t he seen how he was hurting her? Why didn’t it cross his mind that was hurting just as much…if not more…than he was? And why…why in God’s name hadn’t he respected her? She deserved so much more than he’d given her in the last year.

*****

Michael was just about to drift off to sleep when a crying baby jolted him awake. Dammit. He sat up and cocked his head. Maybe…maybe Zan would go back to sleep.

Or maybe not. He just kept on crying, and as if to prove her previous point, Maria suddenly began blasting Sheryl Crow from her stereo.

Dammit.

Michael dragged himself to his feet. Maybe Max and Liz were done with their talk and were just, like, making out on the porch or something. He peered out the window, and instead found not only Liz, but Max as well, in tears. He supposed he probably shouldn’t interrupt, although maybe they wouldn’t notice a third crying party.

He trudged through the kitchen into Amy’s bedroom, where little Zan lay red-faced and squalling in his basket. “Hey kid, quiet it down a little,” he muttered. Geez. Not even years of blasting Metallica could prepare someone for this racket. He sniffed suspiciously at the air, but when he wasn’t greeted with any unpleasant odors, he relaxed a bit. Maybe the kid was just tired of lying there in the dark. He imagined it would probably suck if he wasn’t ready to sleep.

“What’s the matter, huh?” he asked, reaching tentatively into the basket. Zan’s cries slowed a little as he awkwardly lifted him and cradled him against his chest. “I know I’m not your dad…or your mom, for that matter,” he added, “but he’s a little busy trying to fix everything he’s screwed up. Which your mom had a lot to do with, actually.” He walked slowly toward the door, Zan snuffling against his shoulder. “And since Maria is trying to prove some kind of point, it’s just you and me for a while.”

Relieved that Zan seemed to have stopped crying for the time being, he flinched when he realized why. “That hurts!” he grumbled, pulling a strand of hair from the baby’s fist and mouth. He absently ran his hand over the back of his head, tying it into a shaggy ponytail. Maria hated when he did that. She was always nagging him to cut his hair, and…oh hell, what did he care anyway? She was the one blasting that stupid ‘Soak Up the Sun’ song at 10:30 at night just to piss him off.

Out on the porch, Liz finally broke the long silence. “I think Zan’s crying,” she said, starting to get to her feet.

“Wait, Liz, don’t go,” Max pleaded, taking her hands. “Michael will take care of him.”

“Michael?” Liz repeated dubiously. “Max, he can’t even take care of house plants.”

“Just…please,” Max continued. “He’ll be fine. I just…I can’t go inside…I can’t keep going with things like this between us.”

Liz sighed, sinking back onto the porch swing. “Max…things aren’t just going to change overnight. They can’t. We just…we need some time. We knew that back in February, when I started…changing. Max, I’m still dealing with that, and I-“

“Let me help you, Liz,” he whispered. “Please. I – I feel like it’s my fault. I’m the one who made you different, and I don’t want to just leave you alone. You, Liz, you never left me when I needed you. Please let me do that for you.”

Liz appreciated his concern, his want to be there for her. But that wasn’t going to solve everything. He needed to actively keep his promises. And she told him so. “It needs to go both ways, Max. Let me be there for you…acknowledge that I’m there and that I want to help. Just…Max, don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

Max nodded solemnly, gazing into her wide eyes. “Please, Liz…have a little faith in me. Can you…will you do that?”

She was silent for a long moment before answering. “It takes time, Max,” she said finally. “Show me.” Her eyes stayed locked with his until she finally got to her feet. “We should check on Zan. And Michael.”

Max followed behind, knowing that Liz was done talking about things for the night. They both needed rest…they both needed time. And that was something Max was more than willing to give her, if it meant that he had the chance to show her that things would change. That he would change.

Liz stopped short at the door, stifling a giggle with her hand at the scene on the living room couch. It looked as though Michael had found a way to keep Zan entertained after all. The baby cooed with delight at Michael’s bowed head, the tangle of waves falling forward for him to pull and chew on.

“Real funny, isn’t it,” Michael muttered dryly, tossing his head back. “Will somebody take him before I go bald?”

Back in daddy-mode, Max lifted his son from Michael’s lap and managed a chuckle. “Let’s leave Uncle Michael some hair,” he said, settling Zan against his shoulder. “I think we all need to get some sleep.”

Liz ran her finger over Zan’s knuckles and smiled. “I’ll fix a bottle for you to give him.” When Max glanced down at her in surprise, she merely returned his gaze evenly and said, “I’m sticking to my end of the deal.”

Max nodded. He would too. He would do whatever it took to regain Liz’s trust, her faith in him. In them.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 26-Aug-2002 1:10:33 AM ]
posted on 11-Sep-2002 9:59:58 PM by McGees
Sorry it's been awhile! I've been a bit preoccupied with classes and all that, and most of my writing time has been focused on my other story (Never Let You Down - yes, this is a plug. *tongue* Please check it out if you get the chance!) But I really wanted to get this story moving again, so here's a new part. Thanks for your bumps and patience - more to come soon!


11

“Chica.”

“Mmm…”

“Chica…CHICA!”

“What?” Liz shot up from the floor in Maria’s room where she had been fast asleep.

“Didn’t mean to scare you,” Maria said, straightening her denim skirt. “You overslept.”

Liz rubbed her hands over her face and groaned. “Shit. Why didn’t you wake me up?”

“You’re exhausted, Liz,” Maria answered. “I wanted to let you get as much sleep as possible.”

Tossing the blanket aside, Liz got to her feet and searched blindly for her duffel bag. “I appreciate it, but I can’t afford to miss AP Bio.”

“Chill, Petunia, the AP tests are over,” Maria reminded as she applied a smudge of eyeliner.

Liz retrieved a pair of jeans and a fitted T-shirt. “I know, but I’m working on an extra credit project that Mr. Seligman said would-“

“Go take a shower,” Maria interrupted quickly. “The guys are both done. Well, Max, anyway. You can never be too sure about Michael’s personal hygiene.”

After a quick shower that left her feeling much more alert, Liz hurried out to the kitchen to grab something to take with her. She settled on a banana and a granola bar and was about to put them in her backpack when the back door opened.

“Hey,” Max greeted quietly.

“Morning,” Liz replied, offering a little smile. “Where’s Zan?”

“I just dropped him off at Isabel’s.”

“Oh.” Liz paused. “Did he sleep okay last night?”

“Yeah. He got a little fussy around three, but he went back down pretty quick.” Max cleared his throat. “Uh, how did you sleep?”

“Fine,” Liz answered quickly. Truth was, she doubted she slept a full hour. “Maria!” she called. “Hurry up, or you’re gonna be the one making us late!”

Michael sauntered in from the living room. “Max has her keys. How about we leave her here and teach her a lesson.”

“Don’t be an ass,” Maria spat, hurrying into the kitchen and smacking the back of his head as she passed. Snagging the keys from Max, she added, “Let’s go kids, the Jetta is leaving.”

*****

Michael sighed with relief as the bell rang, sounding the end of second period. He gathered his books and had just about reached the door when Mr. Seligman stopped him.

“Mr. Guerin, it seems your presence has been requested in the guidance office,” the biology teacher informed him, holding up a piece of paper.

With a groan, Michael accepted the pink slip. “What’s it about?”

“If I had to make a guess, I’d say it’s your less-than-stellar Biology 101 grade, which has failed to improve,” Mr. Seligman answered dryly. “But then, what do I know?”

“No kidding,” Michael muttered under his breath. He strode out of the room, crumpling the paper in his fist, and nearly ran into Liz.

“Michael, hey,” she said, shifting her books in her arms.

Michael offered a grunt in response. “I gotta go to the guidance office,” he informed her.

Liz cocked an eyebrow. “What for?”

“Hell if I know,” he grumbled. “But if I’m not at lunch, that’s where I am.”

“Thanks for letting me know,” she called after his retreating figure.

“Letting you know what?”

Whirling around, Liz found herself face-to-face with Max. “Oh…hey.”

“Hey,” he repeated. “So…what did Michael let you know?” His curiosity was getting the better of him, and while he was sure no one would make any rash decisions without consulting the group, he wanted his friends accounted for. All the time. Well, as much as possible, anyway.

“He’s going to the guidance office,” Liz answered as they filed into the classroom. She saw the look cross his face, and before she realized it she had reached out to touch his arm. “Hey, I’m sure it’s nothing.”

Max nodded shortly as they took their seats at the lab table. He was grateful for her words, her touch.

Liz fiddled with the spiral of her notebook, not quite knowing what else to say. He was anxious, she knew that, wanting to take care of them all. He's a leader, she reminded herself. It was engrained in him, just as being a father was. It must have been awful leaving his son, she realized, even if just for a few hours.

“I just called Iz,” he spoke up, as if reading her mind. “She said he just fell asleep.”

“That’s great,” Liz said encouragingly. She paused, studying his face. “Max, he’s fine. Isabel will take good care of him.”

“I know,” Max answered quietly. “I know she will. I just – I wonder if it’s enough. If any of it’s enough.”

“Max-“

“Miss Parker, Mr. Evans, I assume this deep conversation is regarding your project?” Mr. Seligman appeared, arms crossed, as he looked at them expectantly.

“Uh, yes. Yes it is,” Liz said quickly. The last thing she wanted to hear was another speech about teen angst. The guy had no idea. “Max, you set up the control while I get…” Trailing off once Mr. Seligman was out of earshot, she leaned a little closer. “We can talk more at lunch, okay?”

Max looked up and found himself staring right into her eyes. His heart swelled when he felt her small hand cover his and squeeze. “Thank you, Liz.”

*****

“Mr. Guerin, do you understand what I’m telling you?”

Michael glared up at his guidance counselor from where he sat, slumped in a chair. “Yes.”

“And do you have any questions?”

“Why am I being informed of this three weeks before graduation?”

Ms. Ortecho sighed. “Because it was only at this point we determined there is no possibility of you passing those three classes. There’s always a summer school option-“

“Whatever.” Michael got to his feet. “I don’t have time for this.”

"This is your education, Mr. Guerin. Your future-“

“My future has nothing to do with an audio visual grade,” Michael finished. “Thanks for your time, Ms. Ortecho, but I’m through with West Roswell High.” With that, he stalked out into the hallway and proceeded to slam his fist against a bank of lockers.

“Whoa there, Spaceboy.” Maria flinched as she rounded the corner in time for Michael’s fit. She walked toward him, pushing the lockers closed on her way. “I hope you don’t plan on blowing anything up, you might acquire an audience.”

“Not now, Maria,” Michael muttered through gritted teeth.

“What’s the matter?” Maria demanded. “Did the authorities find-“

“It’s nothing to do with that.” He took a deep breath, bracing his hands against a locker and dropping his head. “Maria, I’m not graduating.”

*****

“Isabel?”

“Max, he’s fine. Just like he was the last time you called.”

Balancing the phone beneath his chin, Max leaned back against the tree trunk. “Could you just humor me, please?”

Isabel sighed, her voice softening. “I’m sorry, Max. He really is fine, I’m just…I guess I’m thinking too much about what Valenti was saying last night. I was reading the paper a little while ago-“

“What does it say?” he asked sharply, glancing at Liz and Kyle. Kyle told him Jim had looked into it this morning, and there was nothing new.

“It just says it’s under investigation,” Isabel sighed. “Under investigation, Max. What the hell does that mean?”

“Calm down,” Max urged gently. There was no use in her getting worked up when she was by herself. “Maybe that’s okay. Maybe the media will just get bored after a few days and-“

“Max, the media never gets bored with anything.”

She had a point there, but Max preferred not to think about that too hard right now.

“I’m sorry,” Isabel continued. “I didn’t mean to-“

“I know,” Max sighed. “Just…just take care of him for me. I’ll be there in a few hours, okay?”

“- got to be some way around this!”

Max, Kyle, and Liz glanced up as Maria’s furious voice preceded her and Michael. “Iz, I gotta go.” Max flipped his cell phone closed and studied his two friends in curiosity.

“It’s a bunch of shit, Michael!” Maria was continuing angrily.

“Maria, what’s going on?” Liz broke in, getting to her feet and preparing to take Maria for a walk. Michael must have pissed her off again.

Maria shook her off, her eyes blazing. “You’re not going to believe this.”

“What?” Liz asked, eyeing Michael cautiously.

“Maria.” Michael placed a hand on Maria’s shoulder. “It’s okay, I’ll handle this.”

“Michael, if you don’t get to graduate-“

“You’re not graduating?” Max broke in. Sure, Michael struggled with some of his classes…well, all of them, actually…and mostly just because he slacked off…but not graduating?

Michael sighed and flopped down onto the grass. “It’s true, ladies and gentlemen. Much to the delight of most of West Roswell’s faculty, Michael Guerin will not be a part of the graduating class of 2002.” He paused as his friends stared at him in disbelief. “Maxwell, it looks like your lucky ass found the kid a nanny.”


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 11-Sep-2002 10:44:47 PM ]
posted on 19-Sep-2002 6:57:28 PM by McGees
Thanks for the bumps! I plan on being back with more soon...my muse has been keeping me quite company lately with both my stories, so hopefully that will continue. *fingers crossed*


12
Monday, 3:30 pm


As soon as the final bell rang, Max, Liz, Michael, and Maria met up at the front entrance. Liz drove the Jetta to the Crashdown to drop off Maria and Michael for their shifts, and then she and Max continued on to Isabel’s.

After a few moments, Isabel opened the door, ushering them inside. She noticed Max’s agitation as his eyes swept the front hall and then said, “Max, I wasn’t going to answer the door with him. He’s in the kitchen.”

“Good idea,” Max admitted, moving past her and toward the kitchen. Upon spotting the child in his carrier, he moved with greater purpose and lifted Zan into his arms. “Hey buddy,” he murmured, kissing the top of his head. “Daddy missed you today.”

Zan grinned in response, his eyes bright as he continued to blow bubbles for his dad.

“He always looks like he has so much to say,” Liz commented, appearing in the kitchen behind them.

“Yeah.” Max was silent for a moment, gazing down at his son. “Can you imagine the things he’d tell us? The things he’s seen?”

Liz studied him, knowing what he was thinking. Zan had seen a whole different world, this was true, and he’d probably also seen things that no one should ever see. Max’s next question broke her from her thoughts.

“Do you think babies remember?”

“I don’t know,” Liz answered honestly, reaching out to touch Zan’s tiny hand. “I can’t remember much of anything before I was three of four, but…I don’t really know.” She knew Max didn’t have much to compare it to. He had been a human 6-year-old when he was ‘born,’ and the most important memories from his first few years on this earth were emblazoned in his mind – being adopted by the Evanses, reuniting with Michael, seeing Liz for the first time…

Max nodded silently. What he really wanted to know was if Zan would remember his mother, and whether it made him a horrible father if he hoped Zan wouldn’t.

Isabel was moving around the kitchen, packing up Zan’s things, and her voice interrupted Max’s thoughts. “He wouldn’t take much of his bottle when I tried a little while ago,” she spoke up. “He just hasn’t seemed very hungry-“

“Do you think he’s sick?” Max interrupted, pressing his hand to Zan’s forehead.

Liz smiled as Zan batted Max’s hand away, obviously not enjoying this new game very much. “He seems to be feeling okay.”

“I think he’s fine, Max,” Isabel assured. “He probably just missed his daddy. Plus…I mean, he’s adjusting to an awful lot. I’m sure it’s normal.”

Max nodded, gently bouncing Zan on his hip. Unfortunately, they couldn’t take Zan to a pediatrician to have him checked out. Not just yet, anyway. “Maybe I should talk to Mom,” he wondered aloud.

“Excellent idea. She wanted to stop by and see him on her lunch break, but she couldn’t get away,” Isabel informed him.

“Is that alright with you, Liz?” Max asked. “Do you have time?”

Liz shrugged. “Sure. I don’t have to work tonight, so…”

Max was already loading Zan into his carrier. “C’mon, buddy, we’re going to see Grandma and Grandpa.”

*****

Liz drove through town, every few moments glancing in the rearview mirror. Max sat beside her, turned to face Zan in the backseat, tickling his feet and talking softly to him.

She had to smile at the giggles and coos coming from the grinning baby. His innocence amazed her; he had no idea what was going on around him, the fears they all faced. All he knew was that he had a clean bottom, a full tummy, and a daddy to hold him and tickle him and love him. He knew that much, Liz was sure.

Then again, maybe she would have to rethink the clean bottom. “Max?” she ventured. “Do you smell that?”

Max turned to her, wrinkling his nose. “Definitely.” He reached over to roll down the window and turned back to his son. “What did you do, Zan?”

Zan merely giggled and kicked his little feet.

Liz and Max couldn’t help but join his laughter. “Looks like he saved it for you,” Liz giggled.

Max leaned his head back against the seat and chuckled. “Thanks, buddy.”

The rest of the drive to the Evans’ house was cheerful, despite the distinct smell permeating the small car. Liz pulled to a stop behind Phillip’s SUV, and Max got out to retrieve his son. He lifted the carrier from the backseat and glanced out toward the street. The park was just down the street, and even from the driveway he could hear children playing.

Slamming her door shut, Liz studied Max’s face. “What are you thinking about?”

Max quickly shook his head. “Nothing.”

“Do you want to take him to the park afterward?” she ventured.

“Liz, we can’t,” he reminded. “You know that.”

Liz was silent, watching Max as he trudged up the driveway. Her heart ached for him, knowing he was right. She followed him onto the porch, taking Zan’s carrier from him so he could fish his house key from his pocket. “Max, you don’t need-“

“Less suspicious,” he explained simply, turning the key and opening the front door. He wasn’t going to take any chances. They could be watching him anywhere, at any time. It made him nervous enough to be coming back to the house, but he did his best to convince himself that it would be okay for a short time. After all, he still needed a plan for where to go once Friday rolled around. He was doing his best to take one moment at a time, but he needed to do some planning ahead. He was a father now, and he needed to protect his son.

“Dad? Dad, it’s us,” Max called, ushering Liz into the foyer and shutting the door behind them.

“Max?” Phillip came into the hall, a look of surprise on his face. “What are you doing here?”

“I…” Max’s face fell. In all of the commotion of the past few days, he hadn’t even thought about the fact that he hadn’t spoken to his father since he learned their secret. His mother had accepted them, and it seemed their father had too, but…

“It’s good to see you, son,” Phillip added, placing his hand on Max’s shoulder. He understood. “I wasn’t sure if you’d be bringing the baby by, after what happened here on Friday night…”

Max nodded, slight relief rolling through him. “We just wanted to come by for a little while. Let you see Zan, and…talk, I guess.”

“I’m glad.” Phillip turned to Liz with a warm smile. “Hello, Liz. I’m glad you could come, too.”

Liz managed a smile, trying to hide her surprise. Phillip had always been friendly to her, but she was still having a hard time realizing that he was so completely accepting of everything. It made her sad, in a way, that Max had kept his life hidden for so long from parents who would have loved him no matter what. But that’s in the past now, she reminded herself. And it was for the best.

“Hi, Mr. Evans,” she answered finally, shifting the carrier. Zan cooed then, the sound seeming to startle Phillip. His eyes softened even more, and he reached for the handle.

“I’ll take that for you,” he offered.

Liz passed it to him, and both she and Max watched as Phillip peered inside. “Hi there,” he said softly, staring down at the little boy. “Remember me? It’s your grandpa.”

Zan studied him for a long moment before his face broke out into a smile. Without giving it a second thought, Liz found herself reaching over and squeezing Max’s hand. He turned to her, the corners of his mouth turning up just slightly, before squeezing her’s back.

Phillip cleared his throat then, tearing his eyes away from his grandson. “Well…why don’t we sit down in the living room? Max, Mom should be home before too long, so we can just-“

“Phillip? Phil, are the kids-“ Diane’s voice floated through the back door as she came through the kitchen, pausing when she saw them standing in the hall. “I saw the car, I was hoping you were here!” she chirped, reaching out to take Max in a hug. “I’m so glad you’re home, honey,” she said, before turning to Liz and hugging her as well. “It’s good to see you, Liz,” she continued, kissing her cheek before turning to Phillip. “And is that my favorite grandchild?”

“The one and only,” Phillip answered with a light chuckle, turning the carrier to face his wife.

“There you are, precious!” Diane cooed, reaching in and retrieving Zan. “Grandma missed you so much, yes she did!”

Max and Liz exchanged a look. She was certainly in for a surprise when she discovered what her favorite grandchild had done to his diaper.

*****

Later, once Zan was again donning a fresh diaper and the chicken was on the grill, the four sat around the kitchen table talking.

“So you’re telling me that Michael is going to be watching Zan tomorrow?” Diane asked incredulously, staring at Max as he urged Zan to finish his bottle.

“I guess we haven’t really decided yet,” Max said, glancing over at Liz. “I mean, Iz has class and you have to work-“

Liz was aware that Max continued to speak, but she could only stare at him. He just said “we.” As in Liz and Max, making a decision about Zan…together. She was floored.

“I think Michael will be okay,” she suddenly spoke up.

Three pairs of eyes turned to her.

“I…I don’t know, I just think he’d take good care of him,” she continued shyly. “He’s kept an eye on him a few times already, and I think he’s getting the hang of it. Diapers might be a bit of a persuasion, but…”

Max nodded thoughtfully. “And we know Michael could protect him. As long as he doesn’t leave the house…I think you’re right, Liz. Let’s ask him, and make sure he wasn’t joking.” He offered her a smile across the table, and Liz found herself returning it.

“Just make sure to leave my number at the office,” Diane warned. “Tell him to call me if he needs anything, which…well, knowing Michael, he will. Does he even know to put on a diaper?”

“I think taking off the dirty ones will be the challenge, Diane,” Phillip chuckled.

“I’ll just skip gym fifth period and check up on them,” Max decided, lifting Zan up to his shoulder. He paused at the looks from his parents. “What? It's gym."

Liz couldn’t help the smile that twitched her lips. She eyed the bulging biceps under his T-shirt. One missed gym class certainly wouldn’t kill him. Blushing then, she mentally smacked herself for having those thoughts at his parents’ dinner table. But oh, how true it was.
posted on 1-Oct-2002 12:36:20 AM by McGees
Hey guys! I'm in the process of writing the next part, but I really wanted to post this. Heidi, aka ItWasYou, is an absolute doll and made this banner for the story. *big* Love ya, girl!

fd374992

And Ari, I was wondering if anyone would catch the "Ortecho" part. LOL, we'll have to see about a Mr. Manes (with red hair, of course) appearing in the future! If you have no idea what we're talking about, Ortecho is Liz's last name in the Roswell books, and Alex's last name was Manes. *shrug*

Anyway, I'll try to be back by the end of the week with more. Take care, all!
posted on 24-Oct-2002 1:19:49 AM by McGees
Yay! Finally! Thanks for bumping this story up and not forgetting about it, even though you may have thought I did. *wink* Here's the first half of the next part...


fd374992
by It Was You

13a
Monday, 7:12 pm

Max placed his hand over the knob of the DeLuca’s kitchen door, unlocking it and ushering Liz inside. “I’m going to put him down in the bedroom,” Max whispered, indicating a soundly sleeping Zan.

Liz nodded, watching as Max took Zan’s carrier into Amy’s room, and then wandered out into the living room. She flopped onto the couch, debating whether to look at her Bio lab write-up or flip on the television. Entertainment won out, and as Liz flipped through the channels Max reappeared.

“There’s nothing on Monday nights,” she muttered, leaning back as she continued her channel surfing.

Max sank down onto the couch beside her, keeping a safe distance. “It doesn’t look like it.”

She paused at MTV. “They’re actually playing a video,” she marveled. “I love this song. U2’s new stuff is actually really good.” Liz studied the screen for a moment. “Yep, definitely. Maria pointed out that guy to me. She thinks he looks like Michael.”

Max squinted at the screen. “Who, the football player?”

“No, Bono,” Liz teased. “Yes, the football player. I kind of see it. Michael’s hair is lighter, though. And his nose isn’t that big.”

“And I can’t really picture Michael in a football uniform, either,” Max noted, chuckling. His grin widened when Liz giggled along with him. How he loved the sound of her laughter, her smile…both had been missing the past few days.

Noticing that Max’s smile had faded from his face, Liz fell silent for a moment. “Your parents were really great tonight,” she offered finally.

Max nodded. “It – it’s almost too good to be true, you know?” he said quietly. “That was one of mine and Isabel’s biggest fears our whole lives, that our parents would find out and hate us for what we are. It was just kind of second nature, and now to have them know…”

“I’m proud of you,” Liz murmured, gazing up into his face. “For being honest with them. I know how hard that was for you.”

Averting his eyes slightly, Max sighed. “We didn’t have much choice,” he said. “It was our only chance of keeping Zan safe.”

“But you’re done hiding from them,” Liz persisted. “You’ve told them, and you’ve answered their questions the only way you know how. You’re finally letting other people in, trusting them.”

Max fell silent again. The only person he truly trusted was Liz, even though it meant putting her in danger. He hated that. Hated that his trust and love made Liz’s future uncertain. On the same token, he was learning to trust his parents now, too. It meant others were in danger, and that fact alone tortured him.

“Max…” Liz ventured, reaching out and touching his arm. He jumped in surprise, causing her to jump as well. "I – I didn’t mean to startle you,” she said hastily.

Max turned anguished eyes to hers. His jaw clenched painfully in an attempt to keep his emotions in check, but he knew he was failing. The next moment Liz’s arms were surrounding him, holding him close as she buried her face in his neck.

“It’s okay, Max,” she whispered. “It’s going to be okay.” She repeated this over and over, unsure if her words were meant to comfort Max or herself. She couldn’t bear to see the pain in his eyes, knowing how he tortured himself inside. “We’ll be okay.”

We'll be okay. The words rang in Max’s head. We'll be okay. Liz said we. He pulled away just slightly, cupping her face between his hands. Their eyes met, two pairs of dark, reflective pools staring into one another. Max’s voice was raw with emotion as he breathed, “I love you so much, Liz.”

Liz’s lower lip trembled as she touched her fingertips to the sides of Max’s chiseled jaw. “I love you,” she whispered back. She held her breath as Max slowly, tentatively moved closer…his lips just a few painstaking centimeters from her own…when the moment was shattered by the sound of a crying baby.

Letting out the breath he’d been holding, Max sighed and rested his forehead against Liz's. “I should go get him…”

“You should,” Liz agreed, closing her eyes. Out of relief or disappointment, she wasn’t sure. She was acutely aware of the emptiness as he moved away from her, and when she opened her eyes to his retreating figure she let out a sigh of her own. Drawing her knees to her chest, Liz lowered her head and took several deep breaths. She could hear Zan continuing to cry even after Max entered the room, and raised her head in curiosity when the sound accompanied them back into the living room.

“Is he okay?” she asked, noticing the distressed look on Max’s face and getting to her feet.

Max studied the fussy baby with concern before glancing back up to Liz. “I – I’m not sure,” he answered. “He feels warm.”

Liz rested the back of her hand against Zan’s forehead. “A little bit,” she confirmed. “Maybe he’s dressed too warm.”

“Maybe.” Max surveyed the baby’s terrycloth sleeper, the worried look remaining. “What if something’s wrong?”

Carefully taking the baby from Max, Liz cradled Zan in her arms. “What’s going on, little guy?” she asked him. “I wish you could talk to us…”

“He just ate a little over an hour ago, and his diaper’s dry,” Max mused, checking off the most obvious possibilities. “He doesn’t just cry like this for no reason.” Running an anxious hand through his hair, he watched as Liz cooed softly to his son before turning back to him.

“Sometimes babies cry,” she reminded him.

“I know, but…” Max paused, taking a deep breath. “I’m sorry, I must sound so paranoid. It’s
just-“

“It’s okay, Max,” Liz interrupted. “I think that’s pretty normal for new dads.”

Max smiled sheepishly. Even as she spoke, Zan’s cries were slowing into whimpers. “Yeah…”

“But he does feel a little warm,” Liz continued, touching the baby’s cheek.

“I’m calling my mom.” Max was reaching for the phone before Liz could say another word. She glanced down at Zan and shook her head.

“Mom? It’s Max,” he said quickly as soon as Diane picked up. “Something’s wrong with Zan-“

Liz grabbed the phone away from Max before he could panic his poor mother. “Mrs. Evans? Hi, it’s Liz. No, no, he’s okay. Really, he’s just a little warm. A little flushed, yeah. Should we…okay. Okay. Yeah, that’s a good idea. Okay. If it doesn’t help we’ll call you back. Thanks. Uh-huh. Okay, bye.” Hanging up the phone, Liz was met with a dumbfounded look from Max.

“What just happened?” he asked.

“You’re going to give your mom a heart attack,” Liz scolded gently. “She said we should give him a warm bath and see if it helps.”

“A bath?” Max repeated.

“Yeah, she said if he’s got a little fever it’ll help.”

“A fever?”

Liz bit back a smile at the panicked expression on Max’s face. “Yes, Max. She said it’s probably nothing, babies get fevers sometimes and they go away on their own. But a bath might make him a little more comfortable.”

How his mother knew all of this, Max had no idea. Heck, he and Isabel had never been sick as children, a result of their alien heritage. But she was his mother, and he had to figure she was right. “So we give him a bath and then what?”

“Let’s just get through the bath first, okay?” Liz said gently, taking Max’s hand and leading him to the kitchen.

Fifteen minutes later, a contented Zan was splashing away happily in the sink. “Such a happy boy,” Liz cooed, running a warm washcloth over his round little tummy.

Max smiled down on his son, his large hand supporting Zan’s back. He seemed to love the water, and Max figured he must be familiar with it. It was still so strange to him, that his son had been to a planet Max had only had faint memories of from in a past life.

“Max?” Liz’s voice broke Max from his thoughts. “Can you hand me that towel?”

“Yeah.” Max reached for a fluffy towel on the counter and gave it to Liz. He lifted Zan from the sink and into Liz’s waiting arms, where she bundled him up tight.

Zan whimpered in protest to the cool air, and Liz cuddled him close. “Let’s get you nice and dry,” she said, gently rubbing the towel over his bald little head.

“Does he still feel warm?” Max asked, wiping his damp hand on his shirtfront.

Liz smiled. “I think he’s a little chilly right now,” she pointed out.

Max made a face, stepping closer. “Let’s see what we can do about that.” He pulled Liz into his arms, sandwiching Zan between their bodies.

“Max, you’re all wet!” Liz squealed. “I think you got more of a bath than he did.” And she was probably right, with the way Zan splashed. His soaked sleeves were rolled to his elbows, and his front was splattered with water. That didn’t stop him from holding his son and Liz close, though, despite Liz’s protests.

His mischievous smile didn’t curb Liz’s giggles, either. “I really don’t appreciate this, you know,” she said as he held her tighter. “And I bet Zan doesn’t either.”

Max glanced down at the baby, who was cooing happily between the two warm bodies. “I don’t think he minds.” He fell silent for a moment, and Liz’s giggling halted. “I think…he feels right where he belongs…”

He trailed off, and Liz’s breath caught. Their eyes met for the briefest of moments, and then his lips were descending on hers.






[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Oct-2002 1:52:31 PM ]
posted on 1-Nov-2002 2:46:45 PM by McGees
Dee, I love the poem! And look, it motivated me to post a new part. Hope you all approve...leave me some feedback, ok?


fd374992
banner by It Was You


13b
Monday, 8:52 pm


She was melting.

As Max’s tongue eased her lips apart and began a tentative exploration of her mouth, Liz could feel herself melting away. Her knees buckled, about to give way, but Max’s strong arms enveloped her and his son.

Zan. Liz had nearly forgotten about the child sandwiched between their bodies. His sudden squawk alerted them both that he was not to be overlooked so quickly, and Max reluctantly pulled away.

He studied her, his breath quick and shallow, hands still resting on her hips. “Liz…I…”

“We’re home!” Maria announced, bursting through the kitchen doorway with Michael just behind her. “I brought some leftover Men in Blackberry pie…” She trailed off at the sight of Max and Liz and poor little Zan, who had grown fussy in Liz’s arms.

Liz gazed down at the baby in near-confusion, almost as if she couldn’t quite understand how he got there. “I have to…get some air,” Liz managed, passing Zan to Max and hurrying past Michael into the living room. A moment later the front door opened and closed.

Maria started after her, but Michael grabbed her arm. “Let her go,” he said quietly.

Considering this for a moment, she suddenly turned accusatory eyes to Max. “What did you do?” she demanded.

“Nothing,” Max muttered, in no kind of mood for scolding from Maria. What had he done? He’d kissed her, that was for sure. But she didn’t seem to mind. She’d kissed him back, hadn’t she? With a frustrated sigh he bundled Zan tighter, brushing past his friends and into the bedroom.

He lay the baby on the bed, reaching for a sleeper from the diaper bag on the floor. Zan stared up at him, squirming in the fluffy yellow towel. He seemed to sense Max’s tension, and he cooed softly.

“I think I just screwed up, buddy,” Max said to his son, drying the last droplets of water from Zan’s chubby legs. “I know you like Liz an awful lot, but…I like her more. I love her. How is it possible to love someone so much and still end up hurting them?” He shook his head, lifting Zan and easing his arms into the sleeves. “Let this be my first father-son advice, okay?”

Zan’s clear blue eyes focused on Max’s then, listening intently. “If you ever meet someone as special as Liz, don’t let her get away,” Max said softly. “Hold on to her with everything you’ve got.”

His face suddenly breaking into a grin, Zan proceeded to blow bubbles at Max.

“Okay, maybe it’s a little early for father-son advice,” Max chuckled.

“I don’t think so,” came a voice from the doorway. Maria.

“Hey,” Max offered, placing Zan on the bed again to fasten his sleeper and preparing for a bombardment of accusations. And hell, he probably deserved them.

“It’s good advice that you just gave him,” Maria continued, stepping out of the shadows and closer to the bed. “Maybe he’ll turn out okay, even in spite of that maternal side.”

“Did you need something, Maria?”

“Listen, I’m sorry I jumped on you like that earlier. I didn’t mean to assume that you did something-“

“But my track record would be pretty conducive to it,” Max finished.

Maria shrugged, sitting on the edge of the mattress. “I know you’re trying to change, Max,” she said. “I can see it. And I think it’s really great, but…don’t hurt her anymore. If your changing still includes Liz, that’s fine. I think she’s made it pretty clear that she’s standing by you. Even if you might not deserve it.” Maria paused. “ But if your changing will eventually lead to not needing Liz…don’t pull her back in.” She glanced over to him seriously. “Don’t do it, Max. Because I swear to god, I will hurt you-“

“Maria,” Max broke in before Maria could complete her threat. “I will always need Liz. I always have. I…I put her through hell before I completely understood that, and I’ll never forgive myself for it. But if – if she’s willing to take me back, I’m going to spend the rest of my life making sure she doesn’t regret it.”

Nodding shortly, Maria stared down at her lap. “She’s my best friend, Max. I know how much she loves you. She’d do anything for you…she already has.” She paused, taking a deep breath. “It’s strange. When we were little and we talked about how our lives would be when we grew up, Liz was always so sure. She was going to live in a house by a lake so she could have a sailboat. And she and her husband, a doctor, they were going to have two boys and two girls, and…”

Maria fell silent, and Max glanced at her sideways. “And what?”

“And they would live happily ever after,” Maria finished. “It seemed so simple when we were young. I know it’s not really that easy, but…Liz deserves that, Max. Can you give that to her?”

“I want to,” Max murmured. “More than anything, I want to make her dreams come true.”

*****


“Hey.”

Liz glanced up momentarily from where she sat on the porch swing, knees drawn to her chest, before turning back to the night sky. “What’s up, Michael?”

“Nothin.” Michael hesitated in the doorway for a minute before stepping out onto the porch. “Nice out, huh? Not as cold at night as it’s been.”

“You know that you really suck at small talk?”

“Where have I heard that before,” he grinned, sidling over to the swing. “Can I sit?”

Liz gestured to the space beside her. “So did Maria give you the message?”

“About being Mr. Mom? Yeah.” Michael leaned back, stretching his long legs in front of him. “Maxwell must be pretty hard up if he wants me to watch the kid.”

“Well, Isabel has class tomorrow and his parents are working, so…” Liz paused. “He trusts you, y’know.”

“Right, so long as I don’t try to make myself king again,” Michael said dryly. “Yeah, I know he trusts me. I’m lucky.”

“You’re his best friend, Michael. His brother, practically. Of course he trusts you.”

“And I’m lucky,” he repeated. “But he’s pretty damn lucky, too.”

Liz rolled her eyes in amusement. Did his ego never quit?

“Because of you,” Michael explained. “Liz, you’ve gotta know you’re the best thing that ever happened to Max.”

She shifted her eyes to him curiously. “This coming from Mr. ‘Humans-are-worthless’?”

“I never said that,” he defended. “Well…not in those exact words. And I wasn’t exactly myself that night either. But my point is that you’re what keeps him going. I’m not too proud to admit that if it weren’t for you, and Maria and Alex…we wouldn’t know anything about who we are.”

“Yeah, but look where that’s gotten you,” Liz muttered.

“Screw that, Liz,” Michael responded. “At least we’ve got something worth fighting for.”

Liz was silent for a minute, pondering this. Maybe that was their problem. They didn’t give one another enough credit. Max had taught himself that he was unworthy of love, and it was Liz who showed him otherwise. It wasn’t an easy task, and the fact that Max had succumbed to Tess’s actions showed that he was still learning. He hadn’t understood that he was worth more than that…that they, Max and Liz, were worth more. But then, maybe Liz hadn’t either.

“You’re thinking,” Michael observed.

“Trying to,” Liz said with a smile.

“Well, hopefully that means I’ve said something with at least a little importance.” Michael pushed himself up from the swing. “I’m cashed. I’m gonna hit the sack.”

“Is Maria taking you home?”

“Nah, I’m staying over.”

Liz arched an eyebrow. “Really?”

“Let me rephrase that. I’m gonna hit the couch. I figured it’d be easier that way, since I’d have to be here early anyway.”

Once Michael had retreated back into the house, Liz rested her chin on her knees. He really had given her a lot to think about. But…maybe she’d been doing too much thinking. Maybe what she really needed to do now was feel.

*****

“I need a blanket.”

“Excuse me?” Maria glanced up from the bed to see Michael in the bedroom doorway.

“I’m going to sleep. I need a blanket. You got any extras?”

Maria sighed. “Weren’t you just commenting on how warm it is outside?”

“Your house is drafty,” Michael retorted. “I’ll get cold.”

“God forbid,” Maria muttered, getting to her feet. “Max, I’m gonna head to bed pretty quick, too. I’ll see you in the morning, okay?”

“Night, guys,” Max answered, lifting Zan to his shoulder. “Michael, thanks again for agreeing to watch Zan.”

“Yeah, well you better come home to relieve me during fifth period,” Michael threatened. He followed Maria out into the kitchen and down the hall toward the linen closet.

“Here.” Maria plopped a folded blanket into his arms. “Better?”

Michael shrugged. “I actually didn’t need a blanket. I just figured Liz might be coming back in and we should leave them alone.” Sure enough, they both heard the front door open, then shut and lock.

“How thoughtful of you,” Maria said, only half facetious. “So…I’m going to bed. Do you actually need anything?”

“Uh…” Michael cleared his throat. “Nope, I’m good. Night.”

“Night.” Maria lingered a moment longer than she meant to, and then quickly turned and retreated to her room.

*****

Liz slowly pushed the bedroom door open, revealing Max in the rocking chair feeding Zan. “Hey,” she murmured softly. “Is he asleep?”

At the sound of Liz’s voice Zan turned his head. The bottle slipped from his mouth, and he gave her a milky grin.

Max chuckled lightly. “Nope, he’s not.”

“I didn’t mean to disturb you,” she apologized, closing the door behind her and crossing the bedroom.

“You didn’t,” Max assured, urging the bottle back into Zan’s mouth. He was silent for a moment before continuing. “Are you…feeling better?”

Liz nodded, perching on the bed across from the rocker. “I talked to Michael a little,” she said simply. “He told me he’s going to watch Zan tomorrow.”

“At least for the morning. If it’s not going well when I come back fifth period I’ll just stay.”

“And your mom will be calling every five minutes to make sure everything’s okay,” Liz pointed out, a grin creeping onto her face. “If she can get through between your calls, that is.”

Max made a face, but he knew it was probably true. “It’s not that I don’t trust Michael. I do,” Max explained, gazing down at his son. “It’s just…it’s hard when I’m away from him, knowing all the things that could happen…”

Again Liz nodded, studying Max as he held his child. She was quite familiar with his protective nature, but seeing him as a father was something new. Every touch, every word spoke volumes of Max’s love for his son, and it warmed Liz’s heart.

And yet, it was strange. All this time she was sure she’d feel resentment for the child. And when Tess showed up with him, her rage could hardly be contained. Hell, she’d blasted Tess into the wall. Not just to avenge her anger and pain, but to protect Max. She’d be damned if Tess hurt him again.

As she watched Max with his son, she knew it was too late to stop that. Tess had hurt him. And while she’d given her own life to protect her son, she’d left Max as a single father. Maria once told Liz he deserved everything he got. And for a time, the anger in Liz almost convinced her of that as well. But she couldn’t wish pain on him. Not after what she had been through, after what they had been through. She loved him too much. And she would do whatever it took to make sure he didn’t have to hurt.

With infinite care, Max lifted a sleeping Zan against his shoulder. Rubbing his little back, he waited until Zan burped and then laid him in his basket on the floor. He turned back to Liz, who was still sitting in silence on the bed. “Liz?”

“Hmm?” She glanced up at the sound of his soft voice.

“Did you…are you angry that I kissed you?” He was afraid, she knew this. Afraid of her rejection, her abandonment. It broke her heart.

And she stared up at him, her brown eyes wide. “No.”

At the sound of Liz’s whispered answer, Max sank onto the bed beside her. “Really?”

She nodded, swallowing hard. “I want you to do it again.”

Max sucked in a breath at Liz’s words. Silently, he reached up and touched her cheek, cupping her face in his hand. Slowly, deliberately, he lowered his mouth to hers.

The kiss was soft, gentle. Max didn’t want to scare her away again. But Liz brought him closer, threading her fingers through the hair at the back of his neck. They broke for breath a few moments later, and Liz gazed into his eyes. “Let’s lie down,” she suggested softly.

“O-okay,” Max managed, scooting up on the bed. Liz settled close to him, wrapping his arms around her when he seemed unsure of what to do with himself.

“Just hold me tonight, Max,” she requested in a whisper. All she wanted was to be close to him, the warmth and love she felt from him enveloping them both in safety.


posted on 5-Nov-2002 12:06:51 PM by McGees
How do you like that, two new parts in a week! Thanks for the feedback, it's really gotten me going on this story. I love writing it, but it can be a challenge. And thanks also for letting me know you like this Max. I'm doing my best to make him into the Max I know he COULD have been, but that really wasn't given a chance to shine during the season. And with that, on to the next part.

fd374992
banner by It Was You

14
Tuesday, 6:10am


Liz drifted awake, slowly becoming aware of the warm body cuddled close. Before her eyes even fluttered open, she could smell him. The clean, musky scent that was uniquely Max. It wrapped around her, nearly as tangible as the arm that held her close. Her own arm was thrown across Max’s chest, rising and falling with each even breath he took.

She squinted, adjusting to the faint early morning light, and realized they were still in their clothing from the day before. Max’s t-shirt was rumpled beneath her arm, clinging to his shapely chest and shoulders. Her eyes traveled up, past his graceful neck to his chiseled jaw. His face relaxed so when he slept, taking years off his normally serious expression.

Liz couldn’t help the sleepy smile that crossed her face. Max looked like a little boy. From the slight part of his lips to the long lashes that fluttered against his cheeks to the tousled hair that flopped over his forehead, he was all boyish charm.

As she shifted her palm over his chest, Liz’s fingers encountered his nipple. With a gleam in her eye, she ever so gently teased it into a hard little pebble. She bit her lip, freezing when Max began to stir. When he didn’t awaken, Liz leaned up and pressed a soft kiss to his jaw.

He shifted again in his sleep, snuggling closer and sighing, “Liz…”

Liz smiled at his sleeping face, resisting the urge to kiss him again. He looked so peaceful, and she knew how much he needed the rest. Zan had slept through the night, but he’d be awakening soon for a morning bottle.

As if on cue, Liz heard a faint snuffling. She carefully untangled herself from Max, who whimpered a soft protest at the loss of contact, and crawled to the end of the bed. Zan peered up from his basket on the floor, a cheerful smile crossing his face at the sight of Liz.

“Good morning,” she whispered, reaching down to lift the baby from the blankets. “Did you sleep well?”

Zan gurgled in response, his tiny hand tangling itself in her long hair as she scooted back up to the head of the bed. “You stay here with your daddy while I make you some breakfast, okay?” Liz carefully laid Zan onto Max’s chest, knowing he wouldn’t be sleeping much longer.

His hands reached instinctively to cradle the child close, and as Zan snuggled into his warmth, Max’s eyes fluttered open. “Hey,” he said, his voice thick with sleep.

“Hey yourself,” Liz smiled. “Keep an eye on him while I get his bottle, okay?”

Max nodded slowly, his head still clouded from sleep. He glanced down at his son, who was chewing on the neck of his t-shirt. “I think he’ll try to eat me if you’re not quick,” he chuckled.

Minutes later, Liz returned to the bedroom with a warm bottle. Max had laid Zan on his back and had shifted onto his side next to him, gazing down at him and tickling his round little belly. She hesitated interrupting the scene, but then noticed that Zan was sucking intently on his fist and decided it would be okay.

Glancing up, Max smiled sleepily and lifted Zan into his arms. He accepted the bottle from Liz as she settled back onto the bed, and then offered it to Zan.

“He’s like a shark,” Liz giggled, watching as Zan attacked the bottle with gusto.

Max’s smile faded as he watched Zan eat. “I wonder if it’s enough for him. I mean, Tess fed him milk since Isabel had it at her apartment. But do you think that’s what he’s used to?”

Liz thought about this. “He takes a bottle with no problem. Which mean Tess probably wasn’t breast feeding him.” She cleared her throat uncomfortably. “I – I don’t know. I mean, he’s human. Human babies drink formula. If he had something else on…on Antar, he seems to be adjusting pretty well.”

“I guess,” Max sighed. “I just…”

“I know,” Liz murmured, well aware that there wasn’t much she could do to ease his worries except…just be there. And that was exactly what she intended to do.

*****

7:52am

“Max, you are not calling him right now.”

Glancing up at Maria guiltily, Max slowly removed his hand from his backpack. “I just wanted to make sure-“

“We left ten minutes ago,” Maria reminded patiently as they walked through the doors of West Roswell High. “Zan was sound asleep. And despite any misgivings I may have about Spaceboy, I doubt he’s had any sufficient opportunity to burn the house down.”

“Don’t give him any ideas,” Liz whispered to her friend as Max’s face paled. “Max, just try to get through the first class, okay? Let Michael know you trust him.”

Max grudgingly agreed to this as they paused at their respective lockers. “But I’m calling before biology.”

Liz merely nodded, knowing it was best to just humor him. “So I’ll see you in class.”

“Yeah.” Max paused, closing his locker and turning to face her. “In…class.” He gazed down at her, licking his lips. God, he wanted to-

Before she could give it a second though, Liz was up on her tiptoes and pressing her lips to his in a sweet kiss. After a moment she pulled away and began to back down the hall. “He’ll be fine,” she reassured before slowly turning around and leaving him to stare after her.

“Liz! What was that?” Maria hissed once they were out of earshot, grabbing her best friend’s arm.

“What was what?” Liz asked innocently.

“Oh, do not give me that,” she groaned. “Are you two…you know…”

Liz shrugged, a grin creeping onto her face. “Maybe a little…”

“God, not on my mother’s bed I hope.”

“Maria!” Liz admonished. “We’re not even messing around or anything, we just slept together…oh, that came out wrong. I just mean-“

“Chica? Isn’t that your classroom?”

“My – oh. Oh yeah, it is.” Liz glanced over her shoulder. “I’ll see you at lunch, okay?”

“Bitchin.” Maria smirked as she continued down the hall, satisfied with her ability to make her best friend blush before 8am.

*****

8:48am

Can of Cherry Coke? Check.

Bowl of Fruity Pebbles? Check.

Rerun of The Flinstones on the Cartoon Network? Check.

Michael nodded in satisfaction, spreading out on the DeLuca’s living room couch. He could definitely get used to this. Hell, yesterday at this time he’d been in Mr. Seligman’s bio lab on the verge of gouging his eyes out with a scalpel. And now, he was chuckling over the fact that he was eating Fruity Pebbles while watching The Flinstones. Oh, the irony.

He glanced at the clock on the wall. It was nearing the end of first period, which meant he could expect a call from Max at any time. Michael smirked. Wouldn’t Maxwell be surprised to hear that he was doing just fine. Granted, Zan was still sleeping in the bedroom, but wasn’t that beside the point?

Settling back, Michael shoveled a spoonful of cereal into his mouth. That Barney, he was a riot. And Wilma…was it weird that he thought a cartoon character was hot? He was pondering this when he heard a strange noise.

Michael glanced around suspiciously, clicking the mute button on the remote. And he sighed. It was just his luck, wasn’t it? Unfolding himself from the couch, Michael trudged through the kitchen to Amy’s bedroom.

“Okay, okay, I hear you,” he mumbled, crossing to the bed where Zan lay in his basket, yelling his head off. One whiff of the air permeating the room and Michael immediately knew why. “Shit.”

Trying his best not to breathe through his nose, Michael reached in and lifted the crying baby from the basket. He held the red-faced infant out at arm’s length and marched into the kitchen before sucking in a lungful of fresh air. “You had to wait an hour, didn’t you?” he sighed.

Zan’s cries faded into hiccups as he and Michael moved to the living room. “Stay here,” Michael commanded, laying the baby on the couch while he reached for a diaper and wipes.

“Okay, kid, let’s not make this harder on ourselves that it has to be,” he continued, hoping to reason with the child. But the way he was squirming around and kicking his feet, it was going to be next to impossible.

“Hold…still," Michael ordered through gritted teeth as he unfastened the terrycloth sleeper. He’d just worked up the courage to remove Zan’s diaper when the phone rang.

"Shit," he cursed again, startling Zan into more tears. Michael groaned. He couldn’t very well leave the kid here by himself, but he wasn’t exactly wearing anything…

Thinking fast, Michael ripped his t-shirt over his head proceeded to wrap it around Zan before racing into the kitchen for the phone. “Hello?” he panted.

“Michael? What’s wrong?” came Max’s urgent voice.

“Wrong? Nothing’s wrong,” Michael answered nonchalantly, balancing the phone against his shoulder and bouncing Zan on his hip.

“I can hear Zan crying. Why is he crying?”

Because he just eliminated half his body weight in his diaper, Michael thought disgustedly. “He just woke up,” he answered lamely.

“Does he feel warm? Did you check his diaper?” Max pressed.

“I’m on it,” Michael assured. “You interrupted some major diaper changing action just now.”

“But does he feel warm?”

Did he feel warm? He was a baby. Weren’t babies always warm and soft and cuddly and…oh, he really needed to stop watching that crap on TLC. “I don’t know, I guess.”

He heard a shuffle at the other end, and then Liz’s voice came on the line. “Michael? When you say warm do you mean hot and feverish, or just not cold and clammy?”

“He feels like a baby,” Michael answered helplessly.

“I thought so. Okay, since everything’s fine we’re going to go into class now – yes, Max, we are – and I’m sure Max will talk to you soon.”

“Can’t wait,” Michael muttered, hanging up the phone. “Alright, let’s get a diaper on you,” he continued, turning his attention to Zan…and to the warm, wet spot that was slowly leaking through his t-shirt.

So much for those Fruity Pebbles.

posted on 22-Nov-2002 2:16:10 AM by McGees
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15
Tuesday, 11:35am


“Okay, so what you’ve got to understand about Darren is that he doesn’t know.”

Zan stared up at Michael, his eyes wide with wonder. The ‘Bewitched’ premise didn’t matter much to him, but he loved the attention Michael was giving him.

“And, see, that’s the whole thing. Samantha doesn’t want to tell him that she’s really a witch, because it kind of changes the whole relationship.” He rolled his eyes then. “Not like I couldn’t base my own freakin sitcom around that concept, but I guess it’s more fun to watch it on the screen.”

Pausing when he realized Zan had become more engrossed with his fingers, he muttered, “Kids,” and turned his attention back to the television.

It was then that Max appeared in the kitchen doorway. He glanced around expectantly, looking for signs of dishevelment or distress, but instead found Michael and Zan sitting side-by-side on the couch oblivious to his entrance. “Sorry to interrupt,” he spoke up wryly.

“Oh hey, Maxwell,” Michael tossed out.

“Hey.” He stooped to lift Zan from his carrier. “How are you doing, buddy?”

Zan’s eyes lit up as Max lifted him into his arms and the contented gurgling noises from his son made Max’s heart soar. “Did you miss me?”

“Not really,” Michael spoke up, his eyes trained to the television.

Max rolled his eyes, shifting Zan in his arms to give him the once-over. Hmm. He looked clean, fed, and content. Either Michael was really lucky, or he was holding his own.

“Hey, you’re blocking the screen,” Michael complained, pushing Max aside with his foot. Who did he think he was, barging in and interrupting Bewitched?

Shaking his head, Max sat down on the couch beside him. “Did you feed him already?”

“Huh?”

Max lifted his hand toward the screen, shutting the television off. “Did you feed him?”

“Like a half hour ago,” Michael grumbled, raising his own hand and turning the TV back on.

“Did you get the paper yet?”

“Nah, it’s probably still out front.”

Sighing, Max got to his feet and plopped Zan onto Michael’s lap. He retrieved the newspaper from the front porch, unfolding it and scanning the headlines as he returned to the couch.

“Anything new?” Michael asked, tearing his attention from the screen.

“You would know if you had bothered to check,” Max answered evenly.

“Oh, back up a minute!” Michael glared, his full attention on Max. “As I recall, the last time I made an effort I was attacked by the rest of you. I’m second in command, remember? I’m just following orders.”

Max struggled with his frustration for a long moment before answering. “Reading a paper and going out to the scene are two completely different things, Michael,” he reminded, his jaw clenched in anger.

“Like I said, I just do what you tell me,” Michael shot back. “Stay out of trouble, watch your kid. It’s all pretty damn ironic, isn’t it?” His and Max’s eyes locked, a silent battle of will and pride.

“Screw you, Michael,” he barked finally, gathering Zan close to him and stalking out of the room.

*****

“Long time no see.”

Valenti bit back the urge to retort to Hanson’s obvious sarcasm. “How’s it going, Hanson?” he managed instead, stepping into the sheriff’s office. His old office.
Stop it, he chided himself. This was no time to get distracted.

“Pretty good,” Hanson answered smoothly, leaning back in the desk chair. “What can I do ya for?”

Pulling up a chair of his own, Valenti studied Hanson evenly. “Any new details?”

“Not since you were here yesterday.” Hanson paused. “Jim, what’s this all about?”

“I’m a concerned citizen,” he shot back. But the he paused, realizing defensiveness would only make him more suspicious. “Look, Hanson, I know this has been an awkward situation between the department and the base-“

Hanson frowned. “What makes you think that?”

“Hanson, I was sheriff for fifteen years,” Valenti reminded none-too-subtly. “When the base refuses any additional involvement from the local police, it tends to raise some eyebrows.”

“They haven’t refused involvement,” Hanson hedged, clearing his throat. “Look, speaking as the sheriff of Roswell, I can see where they’re coming from. What do they need from us when they’ve got some of the best investigators in the area right there on base? It actually makes our job here at the station a hell of a lot less complicated.”

Valenti sighed. How this kid had managed the role of sheriff was beyond him, and it turned his stomach. He clearly wasn’t going to get any information from Hanson, but that didn’t stop him from asking one last question. “Who’s wrote up the article?”

“Huh?”

“The article in the Tribune. There wasn’t a name mentioned, it just said ‘staff writer’.”

“Uh…well, I guess I could find out,” Hanson said, befuddled. “Why?”

Valenti set his jaw. “I’ve just got a few questions.”

*****

“Max, he’ll be fine.”

Sighing, Max cradled his cell phone between his chin and shoulder and his son in his arms. “I don’t know, Liz.”

“Look, whatever happened between you and Michael shouldn’t stop you from coming back. It’s just a few hours, and he’ll probably sleep for most of that anyway.” Liz paused. “Zan, I mean. Not Michael.”

“Maybe…” Max agreed hesitantly, staring down at Zan and chewing on his lower lip. “I think he’s exposing him to too much television.”

“Max, are you listening to yourself?”

“Fine, fine, I’m coming,” he sighed. Liz was right, and the more he continued with his regular activities – like school – the less suspicious he would be. God, he was so paranoid. No one would come for him at school.

“Listen, I think I’m just about out of time on my bathroom pass,” Liz continued. “Will I see you after this class?”

“Yeah, let me go talk to Michael and I’ll be on my way,” he said grudgingly. Squaring his shoulders, Max emerged from the bedroom and walked into the living room.

Michael didn’t look up, rather continued popping cheese curls into his mouth.

“I’m heading back to school,” Max offered, balancing Zan on his hip.

“Okay,” Michael muttered around a mouthful of orange goop.

Max resisted the urge to roll his eyes, knowing he didn’t have the time to get into anything. “So I’m going to go.”

“Whatever. We’ll be fine.”

The easiness with which Zan went to Michael made Max feel a little better. He nearly even cracked a smile when, as he started out the door, he heard, “Okay, kid, now we’ve got The Fonz…”

*****

3:16pm

“Hey Dad.”

Valenti looked up to see his son appear in the kitchen doorway. “Hey Kyle. How was school?”

Kyle shrugged, pulling open the refrigerator. He didn’t feel like humoring his father’s feigned interest.

“Did you talk to Max at all today?”

“Not really,” Kyle answered with another shrug. “He skipped lunch and gym, so…”

“I should call him tonight,” Valenti mused thoughtfully.

“Why, some big new development?”

“No.” Valenti paused, thinking he’d heard a faint note of bitterness in his son’s voice. “Actually, I’ve got a meeting with Karen Garcia from the Roswell Tribune in the morning.”

Kyle favored his father with a dull look, popping the tab on a can of Dr. Pepper. “That sounds thrilling.”

“It’s just a little investigating, really,” Valenti continued. “I feel like my hands are tied. I can’t access the information I need, so I’m trying to find someone who can.”

“I thought no one was able to access the site.”

Valenti rubbed his hands over his face with a sigh. “That’s what I’m trying to find out.”

Kyle leaned against the counter, tapping the side of his can. “He who seeks the truth may find his interests conflicted.” When his father merely stared at him blankly he sighed. “Don’t let it bite you in the ass.”

*****

Michael had just successfully laid a sleeping Zan in his basket when the telephone rang.

“Give it a rest, Max,” he muttered, heading into the kitchen. “Hello?” he barked.

“Hello?”

Shit. Not Max. “Hello?” he repeated.

“Who is this?”

"Who's this?"

"This is the owner of the house,” the woman’s voice informed him. “Is this Michael?”

“Hi, Ms. DeLuca,” Michael answered warily.

“Michael, why are you answering my phone?” she demanded. “Shouldn’t you be in school?”

“Uh…I just got out.”

“Put Maria on the phone.”

Shit. How was he supposed to explain the reason he was there and Maria wasn’t? “I can’t.”

“You can’t?” Now Amy really sounded pissed.

“She’s in bed asleep,” he said, thinking fast. “She wasn’t feeling well, so she came home early. And…uh, I stopped by to see how she was feeling.”

There was a moment of silence, and Michael knew she was pondering this. “Alright,” she said finally. “But sleeping better be the only thing going on in that bed, do you understand me?”

“Yes, Ms. DeLuca.”

“She has my number here at the hotel. Tell her I called, and if she’s not feeling better I can sneak home early.”

“Will do, Ms. DeLuca,” he said, about to breathe a sigh of relief when Zan began crying – loudly – in the next room.

“What is that?” Amy demanded.

“TV,” he answered quickly. “I’ll tell Maria you called. Bye, Ms. DeLuca.” And with that, he slammed the receiver down and turned toward the bedroom just as Max, Liz, and Maria appeared in the doorway.

“Is he okay?” Max asked in alarm, pushing past Michael.

“He’s fine,” Michael called after him. “Almost got my ass kicked by Ms. DeLuca, but…” He trailed off, seeing Liz and Maria staring at him in confusion. “Maria, your mom just called,” he explained. “When she asks, tell her you were sick and I was taking care of you.”

Maria snorted. “Right, Spaceboy. I’m sure she bought that one.”

He glared at her. “Is it that hard to believe?” When Maria and Liz exchanged a look, he threw up his hands in frustration. “I’ll have you know I was a damn good nanny today!”

She patted his arm soothingly. “I’m sure you were, Mr. Mom.”

“Okay, that was uncalled for,” he grumbled, watching as Maria traipsed out of the kitchen.

Liz watched this exchange with growing amusement. It was only a matter of time for those two.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 22-Nov-2002 2:19:22 AM ]
posted on 9-Dec-2002 9:22:18 PM by McGees
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16a
Tuesday, 8:02pm


“What kind of plan do you think they’re hatching?”

“They’re not hatching anything, they’re just discussing,” Liz reminded, not looking up from her lab notes.

Kyle sighed. “What I mean is, they’re gonna need more than just what that reporter tells my dad. Rule one in journalism: never divulge your sources.”

“I thought it was ‘who, what, when, where, why,’” Maria spoke up from her place at the kitchen table.

Liz gave her friends a look. “This might be why we’re not part of the conversation.”

Maria made a face at her best friend. “Kyle has a valid point, though. If the reporter found out more than she’s letting on in the article, she’s not gonna just offer it up to Valenti.”

“I think it’s a risk they’re willing to take,” Liz responded, reaching out to Zan’s carrier on the table before her and rocking it gently.

“It’s a risk we’ve got to take,” Michael announced firmly.

Valenti stapled his fingers, leaning forward on the living room couch. “That’s what I thought too.”

Max rubbed his fingers over his chin thoughtfully. “I’d do whatever it takes to ensure Zan’s safety,” he said finally. “And if it means going to another source for information I say we do it.”

Isabel was still skeptical. “Do you really think it’s necessary? She probably doesn’t know much more than what was printed.”

“So what harm does it do?” Michael demanded.

“It could raise suspicions,” she shot back. “They could be watching any of us at any time. If they see Valenti getting information, they’ll know he’s involved.”

“I’ve been involved for a long time, Iz,” Valenti reminded gently. “And like I said, if this could help you I’m going to do it.”

She nodded slowly, conceding. Ever since Jesse had gotten involved, she was increasingly afraid of anything happening to their human comrades. Part of it, she supposed, was the simple fact that he would equate their alien status with death. Not the best way to regain his trust and acceptance. Still, Valenti was a cop. He knew how to handle questioning. And tomorrow he would merely be a concerned citizen. Nothing suspicious about that, right?

“So we’re all in agreement?” Max spoke up then, catching Isabel’s eye. “Valenti will talk to Karen Garcia tomorrow morning.”

“I’m going with him,” Michael announced.

“No.” Max’s answer was short, inarguable.

“Why?”

“I believe we agreed to make this as subtle as possible,” Max answered tightly. “Besides, you’re watching Zan tomorrow.”

“Isabel can do it,” Michael reasoned.

“I have class until noon,” she reminded.

“That’s not the point anyway, Michael,” Max continued. “You’re not going because it’s too damn obvious.”

“What? I’ll say I’m doing a project for a journalism class-“

“At a school you’re no longer enrolled in, brilliant,” Isabel groaned. “Max is right, Michael. Let Valenti do this.”

Michael’s brow furrowed. “Never thought I’d see the day when we stand back and let humans do the work,” he muttered. “No offense, Valenti.”

“None taken,” Jim assured. “But Max is right.”

Michael twisted the ring around his finger moodily. What else is new.

*****

9:37pm

Later, after Isabel and the Valenti’s had left, Max wandered into the kitchen to find Maria scrubbing the dinner dishes in the sink.

“Hey,” he offered.

She turned around, wringing out a sponge. “Liz is putting Zan down,” she told him.

“Okay.” He stepped toward the counter, waving his hand over the dishes in the rack and drying them instantly.

“Thanks.” She paused. “So did everybody else leave?”

Max nodded. “Yeah. Uh, except Michael. He’s watching TV.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Surprise, surprise. You know, I hope the novelty of not being in school wears off pretty quick or else this could get really annoying.”

“It’s not like it’s something he should be proud of,” Max scoffed.

“He can still get his GED,” Maria defended. “Or go to summer school or something.” But even she didn’t believe the summer school thing. No, Michael Guerin had probably seen the end of his days in the classroom. It aggravated the hell out of her and she couldn’t figure out why. What should it matter to her, anyway? He could stay in Roswell and flip burgers the rest of his life for all she cared.

“You okay?” Max asked with a touch of amusement at the firm nod of Maria’s head. Her thoughts were obviously elsewhere. “I’m gonna go check on them,” he continued, nodding toward the closed bedroom door.

Max pushed it open quietly, his eyes squinting as they adjusted to the dim light. He could make out Liz’s small form on the bed, curled up on her side. He opened his mouth to greet her when he heard the soft coos coming from the bed beside her. There was Zan, who, in an apparent reversal of roles, lay wide-awake while Liz slept peacefully.

“Hi,” he whispered to his son, easing onto the bed beside them and touching the baby’s hand.

Zan’s fist immediately curled around his father’s finger, and he offered him a wide, toothless grin.

“It looks like you wore Liz out, huh buddy?” he continued, gently moving Liz’s hand from where it rested on Zan’s tummy and lifting the child into his arms. “Was it past her bedtime?”

The baby let out a happy gurgle, staring up at Max with wide eyes as he held him up.

“We’re lucky to have Liz,” he continued, his voice soft. “But you know that, don’t you?” He could swear he saw a knowing twinkle in his son’s eye, and then shook his head. His exhaustion was getting to him again.

“I think it’s past my bedtime too,” he admitted with a yawn, leaning back against the pillows. Zan squirmed in his arms for a few moments before settling into his father’s chest with a deep yawn of his own. “I knew it. You were keeping an eye on Liz, weren’t you?” Max grinned, brushing his lips against the soft skin above Zan’s ear. He began humming tunelessly, rubbing his hand up and down the baby’s back, and in just minutes Zan had fallen fast asleep.

“Did I fall asleep?”

Max turned at the sound of Liz’s husky voice beside him. “You did,” he confirmed with a smile.

“I’m sorry,” she said through a yawn. “One minute I was lying here with Zan and the next…” she trailed off with a sleepy smile, pushing herself up on one elbow to peer at the baby. “Is he sleeping?”

“He’s out.” Max watched as Liz ran her finger over Zan’s tiny knuckles and then slowly moved from the bed. After carefully depositing Zan in his basket, he returned to the bed and crawled back to his place beside Liz. “Thank you for taking care of him tonight,” he said seriously. “I don’t mean to just dump him on you-“

“Max. You’re kidding, right?” Liz looked at him with equal seriousness. “We've talked about this. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be. You know that, right?”

Max shrugged uncomfortably. “Yeah, I – I know. But I don’t ever want you to think I’m taking advantage of you.”

Liz sat up, reaching for Max’s hands and clasping them between hers. “But I don’t think that. Not at all.”

He nodded, swallowing hard. “Okay.”

“Tell me about tonight,” she continued, caressing the palm of his hand with her thumb. “Is Valenti going tomorrow for sure?”

“Yeah. He is.” Max struggled to think straight over Liz’s gentle touches. “Tomorrow morning.”

“Are you going with him?”

“N-no. We decided he should go by himself. Less suspicious that way,” he answered, trying to hide his surprise as Liz settled closer to him.

“Right.” Liz nodded, her dark brown eyes studying him intently. “Less suspicious.”

“Less suspicious…” Max repeated again, his gaze locked on hers. “Liz…?”

“Hmm…?”

“Can I…can I kiss you?”

“I’ve been waiting for you to,” Liz whispered, her gaze flickering from his eyes to his lips as they ever so slowly crept together. She let out an audible sigh as his lips met hers, losing herself in his gentle caress.

*****

“Anything on?” Maria asked casually as she plopped down beside Michael.

Michael shrugged from where sat slumped on the couch cursing commercials. “The Osbournes.”

Maria made a face. “You can’t even understand a word that guy is saying. He’s like the poster child for the anti-drug campaign.”

He shrugged again. “Black Sabbath is right up there with Metallica. If James Hetfield ever did a reality show I would totally watch that one too.”

“What if I want to watch something else?”

Michael favored her with a bored look. “But you don’t.”

“But it’s my TV!” Maria insisted.

Rather than answer, Michael simply grabbed a pillow from the end of the couch and flung it at her.

“You little-“ Maria sputtered, heaving it back at him and hitting him squarely in the face.

“Hey!” he yelped, throwing his arms in front of him as Maria continued to pummel him with the pillow.

“Do you promise to behave?” she demanded, looming over him with the pillow in her fist.

“Not a chance,” he retorted, flipping her onto her back before he began tickling her mercilessly.

“Stop!” she shrieked, kicking and flailing as his fingers easily found her most ticklish spots. “I’m gonna wet my pants!”

“Now that would be funny,” he mused with a wicked grin, his fingers flying over her sides.

“Michael!”

And just as suddenly as he’d started, he stopped. Maria struggled to catch her breath as he hovered above her, his face unreadable. “Michael…” she repeated, her voice a mere whisper.

Without giving it a second thought, Michael’s lips descended on hers in a quick, sweet kiss. He pulled away, nearly flinching from the fear that she’d slap him.

But she didn’t. She simply stared at him for a long moment before settling onto her side in front of him.

“Commercial’s over.”



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 9-Dec-2002 9:32:12 PM ]
posted on 10-Dec-2002 10:24:44 AM by McGees
I didn't have a chance to leave a note when I posted last night...tis finals week, ugh...but I had a minute and wanted to address a couple questions that have popped up.

Since my other story, Never Let You Down, is almost finished, I'm hoping to update this story much more frequently. It's a challenge, but I love writing it. I've thought a lot about it and I've decided to go with my original intent, which was to follow the show's timeline. My purpose with this story isn't to change what happened on the show, but rather to extend on what was unfortunately left out. Then again, when you can come to your own conclusions it's a bit more fun anyway!

This means that the rating of the story will stay at PG-13, possibly moving into R territory. And I think we all know how the story will end. I guess my whole point is not to change what happened but to make it more human. Hopefully you won't be disappointed. *happy*

The jury's still out about a sequel...it's definitely a possibility, but I think that will depend on reactions to this current story and the status of the sequel to my other story. As you can tell, I haven't completely mastered the art of multiple stories!

Anyway, thanks so much for all your incredible feedback and enthusiasm. I'm having a great time writing it, and I'm so excited that other people are just as interested as I am about what went on during that mysterious week.
posted on 12-Jan-2003 7:08:57 PM by McGees
I'm back, finally. Thanks as always for the feedback and bumps!


fd374992

16b
Wednesday, 5:57am


The faint rays of early morning sunshine were just beginning to slant through the curtains, but Max was already wide-awake. He shifted slightly atop the rumpled covers, rolling onto his side to face a sleeping Liz.

God, she was beautiful when she slept. Curled on her side, hands tucked beneath her chin, hair fanned out on the pillow. Max reached out to tuck a loose strand from her forehead, sliding the silken tress between his fingers before releasing it.

Liz sighed softly in her sleep, and Max could swear he saw a faint smile cross her lips. Those soft, petal pink lips, still swollen from last night’s kisses. He resisted the urge to kiss her again, now, and instead recalled the night before.

He’d kissed her with abandon, hands touching and caressing along the curves of her body, and Liz had responded in kind. He was surprised, but had no argument, when Liz rolled halfway onto his body, her leg nestled between his thighs.

She’d smiled at him, that coy flirty little smile that drove him crazy, and proceeded to slip her hands up under the hem of his t-shirt. He could still feel the heat of her slender fingers on his bare chest, could still feel the soft skin of Liz’s stomach as his own hands crept beneath her shirt.

Max closed his eyes then, the heat of that moment rushing back to him. He’d shed his shirt, assisting in Liz’s heated exploration of his muscles and planes. His own nimble fingers had unbuttoned the front of her blouse, and his heart raced as he recalled the feel of her silk-encased breasts. The way she fit so perfectly in his hands. It had been so long since they’d touched so intimately, before the crash, even before Liz had gone to Vermont. They had just started easing back into the tentative make-out sessions…into their relationship. And Max knew that, while nothing was ever really “normal” about them, now was no exception.

Presently, he stroked one finger down the length of her cheek, overcome with love for the girl – the woman – sleeping beside him. He’d somehow managed to control himself the night before – perhaps it was the thoughts raging through his head, or his son sleeping across the room, or their friends just down the hall, or the fact that it was Ms. Deluca’s bed – but just before they drifted to sleep, Liz had cupped his cheek in her hand and gazed right into his eyes.

“I don’t regret any of this, Max,” was what she’d whispered.

Suddenly feeling a bit constrained, Max rolled onto his back and remembered they were still wearing their clothes from the day before. He quietly got to his feet and readjusted himself in his jeans before stepping over to Zan’s basket and peering inside. Satisfied when he saw that Zan, too, was still sleeping soundly, Max trekked toward the bathroom.

As he entered the living room, he stopped in his tracks.

There on the couch lay Michael – with Maria asleep in his arms.

*****

6:48am

Michael awoke slowly, leisurely, and inhaled deeply. His nose was buried in coppery silk.

He reached out, gently curling a strand of Maria’s hair around his finger. He’d been surprised – though not altogether shocked – when she’d waltzed into the Crashdown for her shift a few weeks before with a new hair color. Ever since Isabel gave in and performed her free beautician magic, Maria had taken full advantage. And while she wouldn’t admit it, Michael suspected the change had something to do with their latest argument. “Female empowerment,” she’d once called it. Michael knew better.

His fingers slipped from her hair when she began to stir from sleep. He felt the moment she realized where she was, felt her stiffen in his arms. “Morning,” he whispered.

She sat up quickly, sifting her hands through her hair and clearing her throat. “Hey.”

“Um…I guess we fell asleep…here…last night,” Michael offered.

“I guess so.” She cleared her throat again, glanced around. “I should get ready for school.”

She should do that. She should definitely do that. Especially so he wouldn’t be so damned tempted to tuck the unruly strands of hair behind her ear. “Yeah. That’s a good idea.”

“Yeah.” Maria nodded, getting to her feet. “So I’m just…gonna do that.”

Michael fought the urge to stare after her as she disappeared down the hall, but Maria could feel his eyes on her as she turned the corner to the bathroom.

The door opened before her, and Liz stepped out wrapped in a towel. “Good morning,” she said, arching her eyebrow and pulling Maria into the bedroom.

“Liz, I’ve gotta take a shower-“ Maria began.

“So I couldn’t help but notice your choice in sleeping arrangements last night,” Liz began casually, hopping into a pair of jeans.

“What about you? It’s obvious no one slept in here last night,” Maria pointed out, gesturing exageratedly to her neat bed.

Liz shrugged, pulling her shirt over her head. “Max and I fell asleep.”

“So did Michael and I!”

“Okay,” Liz said quickly, raising her hands in surrender. “I didn’t mean to-“

“He was touching my hair, Lizzie,” Maria sighed, sinking onto her bed. “I woke up and I felt it, just like he always used to do when we…” She trailed off. “Anyway, it was so awkward and now I don’t know what’s going on.”

“None of us do.” Liz paused, sitting down beside Maria. “And isn’t that what’s so exciting?” she deadpanned.

Maria rolled her eyes, but managed a smile. “Whatever would we do without the alien chaos?”

In the kitchen, Max ran his hand over a pan of eggs. Satisfied with his quick scrambling job, he turned to empty them onto a plate when he saw Michael slump in. “Hey.”

“Hey,” Michael grunted, sitting down at the table and squeezing Zan’s foot. Zan gurgled contentedly in his carrier and proceeded to blow an impressive display of bubbles. “Making breakfast?”

“Yeah. I was up early, so…”

“So you saw me and Maria.”

Max shrugged. “Well yeah, I kind of couldn’t help it.”

“Nothing happened,” Michael quickly informed him. “Okay...one kiss. But don’t go telling Liz and saying that we were all making out and stuff.”

“Liz saw you too.”

Michael groaned. “Great. So she’ll ask Maria about it and Maria’s gonna freak out – cause you know how she gets – and she’s gonna kick me out.”

“No she’s not,” Max broke in. “You’re watching Zan, who’s here with me as a favor to Liz. She’s letting us stay till Friday, so-“

“Her mom comes home Friday,” Michael reminded. “That means we’ve got to be out by tomorrow night.”

Max paused. Michael was right. He had less than 48 hours to figure out where he and his son would go next. Would they leave Roswell? Could they? Whether they stayed or not, where would they go? Clenching his jaw, Max gazed at the kitchen table where Zan sat cooing happily. Just when he had allowed himself to relax, he was hit with another blow from reality.



[ edited 2 time(s), last at 12-Jan-2003 7:21:04 PM ]
posted on 16-Jan-2003 11:22:58 PM by McGees
Bet you didn't expect me back so soon! If you missed the part added earlier this week, it's on the page before.


fd374992

17a
Wednesday, 9:46am


Michael groped for the ringing telephone on the kitchen wall, his eyes on the bottle heating on the stove and one arm balancing a fussy Zan on his hip. “’Lo?”

“Michael? This is Diane Evans.”

“Hey, Mrs. Evans,” he greeted distractedly, untangling the phone cord to move across the kitchen.

“Is everything alright over there?” she asked suspiciously, hearing a timer go off and Zan’s increasing cries over the phone.

“Yeah, the kid’s just hungry is all,” Michael answered, plucking the bottle from the hot water and managing to burn his fingertips in the process. He cursed under his breath and nearly dropped the phone. “Sorry, sorry,” he continued, balancing it against his shoulder as he popped the bottle into the infant’s mouth.

Diane cleared her throat. “Well, I’m calling because I finished a case early. I’ve got some time before I need to be back at the office, and I wanted to stop by and see my grandson.”

Hot damn, was she serious? Michael glanced at the clock on the microwave. “How soon can you be here?” he blurted out.

“Five minutes or so?” Diane answered, slightly bewildered.

Be cool, Guerin. “Okay, that’s great,” he said nonchalantly. “Turns out I have an appointment I forgot about, and I can’t exactly bring the kid on my bike, so-“

“I’ll just stay there with him, then,” she quickly assured.

Michael nodded, unable to believe his luck. “Perfect.”

*****

10:31am

“Thank you again for meeting with me this morning.” Jim shook the young woman’s hand before taking a seat across from her in the small office at the Roswell Tribune.

Karen Garcia smiled. “It’s my pleasure. I have to admit, I was surprised by your curiosity when we spoke over the phone.”

Jim sat up a little straighter in the upholstered chair. “Just a concerned citizen, you know.”

“Once the initial surprise over the explosion wore off, most people seemed uninterested,” Karen informed him. She paused, steepling her fingers on her desk. “But I think I know why you’re here.”

“You do.”

“Yes, and I should have thought of this before.” Leaning forward, she continued, “Mr. Valenti, you’re the former sheriff.”

“Well yes, that’s true.”

“Now, I was only an intern then, but I do remember the controversy surrounding your release from the department.”

Jim swallowed. “I’m not sure what this has to do with-“

“Mr. Valenti, I think we all know that you were the most qualified member of the Roswell police department,” Karen stated bluntly. “It’s only natural that you’d want your position back, and with the department’s hands tied, this seems like the perfect opportunity to get your job back.”

So that’s what she thought. Jim was silent for a long moment before speaking. “With all due respect, Ms. Garcia, my concern right now isn’t for the sheriff’s position-“

“But you do find it strange that the air force base has refused involvement from the police department,” she pressed.

“Not especially,” Jim returned. “They handle most of the affairs on the base, that’s nothing new.”

“Including the threat of an escaped terrorist that same night?”

Jim glanced up sharply. “Your article didn’t mention anything about that. All that was said is it’s being investigated as a chemical explosion.”

Karen pursed her lips, realizing she’d said too much. “Mr. Valenti, I appreciate your concern, but I’m afraid that’s all I’ll be able to answer today. I have an important deadline this afternoon, and-“

“That’s fine,” Jim interrupted stiffly. “Thank you for your time. I’ll see myself out.” His mind was already racing from the remark the reporter had let slip. She did know more than she was letting on – and she wasn’t going public with it. But why?

He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he didn’t notice a young man just down the hall engrossed in a newspaper.

Once Jim was around the corner, Michael slowly lowered the paper from his face. Jackpot.

*****

10:46am

“He’s not picking up.” Max sent Liz an anxious glance, gripping his cell phone in his hand.

“Maybe he’s in the bathroom,” she suggested helpfully.

“I’ve let it ring nine time,” Max fretted. “Come on, Michael.”

Liz squeezed his free hand in hers. “I’m sure it’s nothing, Max,” she soothed. “He’s probably just putting Zan down, or-“

“I’m going over there,” he announced, shoving his phone back into his pocket and turning to face Liz. “I’ll call you if – to let you know what’s going on.”

“Do you want me to come with?” Liz asked gently.

Max considered, but shook his head. “No, Liz, I don’t want you skipping classes too. I – it’s probably nothing, you’re right, but I have to go check it out.” He bent to capture Liz’s mouth in a soft kiss before striding down the hall.

As Liz gazed after him, Maria and Kyle weaved through the hallway of students. Resting her hand on Liz’s arm, Maria asked, “What’s going on, chica?”

“Max thinks Michael is MIA,” she sighed.

Maria rolled her eyes. “I’d like to give Spaceboy the benefit of the doubt, but who knows. Is Max gonna go ream him out?”

“I don’t know.” Liz leaned heavily against her locker. “They’ve been on real thin ice this whole week, and they can’t afford to be arguing. I know Max has been especially anxious about Zan, but-“

“You’ve got to admit he has some power issues,” Kyle remarked as Maria pulled Liz from the lockers and they started down the hall. “Being el presidente and all.”

Liz slowly shook her head. “This is something different. He’s learning what it is to be a father.”

*****

10:57am

The first thing Max noticed when he parked the Jetta was his mother’s Maxima out front. Perhaps Zan was better off than he thought. But still, he couldn’t shake the sinking feeling that something wasn’t right.

“Michael? Mom?” he called, stepping in through the front door and tossing his bag on the table.

Silence.

“Michael.” Max tried again, his voice growing shrill. Cursing, he took off through the living room, the kitchen, Amy’s bedroom…nothing. On the couch he spotted his mother’s purse, her cell phone, her keys…but no sign of Diane. Or Zan.

Panic was bubbling up through him, tightening his throat, tensing his muscles, and he was about to call Isabel, Jim, whoever he could reach to help search when he heard Michael’s motorcycle pull up at the side of the house.

Max met him at the kitchen door and began firing questions. “Where is Zan? Where were you? Was my mother here?”

“Hold it, Max,” Michael broke in. “Zan’s here with your mom, okay?
“Where were you?” Max repeated.

“I had an appointment, okay?” Michael dodged past Max and his question and proceeded into the living room. “Where’d they go?”

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out,” Max shot back through gritted teeth.

“Look, they were right here when I left.” Michael gestured to the couch. “Your mom said she’d stay with Zan until I got back, and-“

“Michael, her car’s still here, her keys, her purse, everything.” Max paced anxiously around the living room. “She wouldn’t just leave without letting us know.” He turned anguished eyes to his friend. “We have to find them.”

Michael patted Max’s arm. “We will, Maxwell. We will, okay? Let’s call Isabel and see if she’s out of class, and we can go from there-“

“No, we have to – we have to start now. They couldn’t have gotten very far, there hasn’t been enough time-“

“Hello?”

Max whipped around as the front door opened. Diane poked her head in, unloading Zan from a stroller on the front porch. “Max, what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be in school?”

“Mom?” Max bolted to the door, taking Zan into his arms. “God, Mom, what – where did you go?”

Diane gave her son a look. “I took him for a walk to the park, honey. I found a stroller at a yard sale down the street yesterday, and I thought I’d-“ She paused. “Max, honey, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Max closed his eyes, holding his son close. “Mom, you can’t just – just leave without telling me, I-“

“Well I left a note right here,” she told him in exasperation, pulling a sheet of paper out from under his bag on the small table. Seeing her son’s ashen face, she squeezed his arm gently. “Honey, I’m sorry if I worried you. Really, it’s just such a nice day and I wanted to take him out…” She trailed off, realizing how Max must be feeling at that moment. It was just how she’d felt all those times Max had taken off without explanation. At the time she’d thought it was just teenage rebellion, but now she understood that it was much more than that. “I really am sorry,” Diane continued quietly. “I guess I’m still learning how – what it’s like to be in your…situation.”

“I know, Mom,” Max sighed. “But we can’t take any chances. Not right now, it’s just not safe. I – I’m still worried about him just being outside. If people see him with us they’re going to start to wonder.”

Diane nodded silently, gently touching her grandson’s back. As much as she’d wanted to believe otherwise, her son’s problems were bigger than she’d ever imagined. “We’ll just…we’ll learn together, Max. All of us. Your father and I, we want to help. Just let us know.”

“I will, Mom,” he promised. “Thank you.”

Michael watched the exchange between Max and Diane silently. He was, of course, grateful that Zan was safe. But at the same time, he was just as thankful that Max’s attention had been on things other than his whereabouts. Max couldn’t know, not yet. Not until he’d done what he had to do.







[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Jan-2003 11:27:12 PM ]
posted on 9-Feb-2003 11:12:04 PM by McGees
New part, finally! The good ol dinosaur has been giving me problems as of late, but I should have better access from now on. So there's the new part of this story, but also if you'd been reading my other story, Never Let You Down, I've got the first two parts of the sequel up. It's called Wherever You Will Go. And if I could figure out how, I'd post the link. Arrgh.
Anyway, thanks for the bumps, and on to the next part...


fd374992
17b
Wednesday, 3:09pm


“Hang on, I’m coming,” Kyle muttered, fastening the top snaps of his mechanics jumpsuit on his way down the hall. He pulled the front door open and found himself face to face with Isabel.

“What’s up?”

“Is your dad home?” Isabel brushed past Kyle into the living room.

“It’s a pleasure to see you too.”

Isabel rolled her eyes. “You asked what’s up, and I’m looking for your dad. So I ask you again, is he home?”

“And since you asked so nicely, yes, he’s in my bedroom trying to repair the giant hole left by our favorite homicidal alien,” Kyle shot back.

“It’s that bad?”

“Half the freakin wall’s gone.” Kyle flopped down on the couch. “And FYI, he hasn’t been in the greatest of moods this afternoon, so-“

“Him? What about you?” Isabel scoffed. “Every time I’ve seen you this week you’ve been pissed off and brooding. You’ve spent too much time with Max.”

Kyle managed to crack a smile at that one before glancing around and falling somber again.

“What is it, Kyle?” Isabel asked, her tone gentler.

“This whole damn house reminds me of her,” Kyle finally admitted. “She was part of our family, Iz, and then she just – she screwed all of us over. And Alex…” He trailed off, shaking his head. “I’ve been sleeping out here on the couch all week cause we’ve just had plastic covering the wall, you know? And I wake up in the middle of the night and I – I think she’s here, sleeping in my bedroom.” Kyle paused, taking a deep, shuddering breath. “I was doing okay and then she came back. And this time it’s like she left so much more behind. Not just Zan, but…so many questions. I just – I don’t understand any of it.”

Isabel watched Kyle, listened to him silently. He was talking about Tess, of course, but she was certain there was something else too.

Sure enough, Kyle glanced up and continued. “You know, my mom came back when I was ten. Not for very long…it was like a week or two, I think.”

“You never mentioned that,” Isabel said softly.

Kyle shrugged. “Not much to say. She wasn’t the same. She was just…passing through, I guess. She had an agenda and we were just…convenient. And then she left again, during the night, and we haven’t heard from her since.”

“I’m sorry,” Isabel murmured. She’d been so preoccupied lately, with keeping the peace in her marriage and the need to help protect her nephew that she hadn’t thought about much else. She hadn’t thought much about how Tess’ 'family' reacted to her brief return, to the chaos she left in her wake. “I’m sorry,” she said again.

“He who seeks the strength of his soul perseveres,” Kyle answered matter-of-factly, getting to his feet. “I gotta go, I’m gonna be late for work. But like I said, my dad’s in the back. You know, since that’s why you came and everything.”

“Kyle.” Isabel got to her feet and abruptly pulled him into a hug. “You’re wonderful, you know that? In spite of all that Buddha crap.”

Now Kyle grinned, patting the squat statue on the table. “He’s the man.”

Isabel watched Kyle leave the house and then turned down the hall. She paused in the doorway of Kyle’s room, watching Jim wrestle with a sheet of insulation. “Need some help?”

“Isabel, hi.” Jim glanced over his shoulder and carefully balanced the insulation against a remaining wall. “Is everything okay?” he asked, brushing his hands off on his jeans and coming toward her.

“I guess. I mean…well, I guess that’s why I’m here. To find out how things went this morning,” Isabel explained.

“I was actually going to head over to talk to Max after I got some things done here-“

“I know,” Isabel said quickly. “I mean, I figured. And I guess I just wanted to be prepared. You know, before you told Max."

Jim nodded somberly. “It’s tough to say, Isabel.”

“Was she completely clueless? She’s just a local reporter, she probably knew as much as the rest of the town…” Isabel trailed off, watching as Jim slowly shook his head.

“I wish that were the case,” Jim sighed. “I’m not entirely sure how much she knows, but she’s not talking. Not yet, anyway.”

Isabel nodded silently, stepping past Jim to the gaping hole in the bedroom wall. Placing her right hand at one of the jagged edges, the splintered wood and drywall dissolved back together. Before their very eyes, the wall mended into one solid piece.

Jim let out a low whistle. “I should have thought of that days ago,” he chuckled. “Took one alien to do it and one alien to fix it.”

*****

3:58pm

“So Michael’s in the doghouse again, huh?”

Liz glanced up at Maria as she tied her silver apron around her waist. “I don’t know much more than you,” she admitted. “I mean, Max didn’t even come back to school this afternoon. Everything seemed okay when we got home though.”

“Minus the chilly silence between him and Michael,” Maria noted, nudging her locker closed.

“I can understand Max being upset when he didn’t know where Zan was,” Liz mused. “Even just him being out with Mrs. Evans could have been dangerous, but Michael didn’t know they were going anywhere. It’s not entirely his fault.”

Maria shrugged. “It still doesn’t explain where Spaceboy was this morning.” She chewed on her lower lip, glancing toward the kitchen where Michael was already busy at the grill. The look on his face told her she shouldn’t dare ask. Not right now, anyway.

Liz followed Maria’s eyes to a pensive-looking Michael. “Sometimes I really don’t understand those two,” she said. “I mean, they’re both worried about the same thing, and yet they butt heads like they’re enemies.”

“Male ego,” Maria supplied knowingly. “Besides, I don’t think Michael is completely over his stint as king.”

Shrugging, Liz propelled Maria toward the door. “I’m sure I’ll hear all about it later. I’ll keep you posted.”

Several blocks away, Jim and Isabel were just sitting down with Max. He looked at his sister anxiously, as if he expected an indication of good or bad news.

“He hasn’t told me anything yet, Max,” Isabel informed him. “But I got the impression from Kyle that it wasn’t the best news.”

“Am I that transparent?” Jim sighed, only half-joking. He wasn’t completely blind to the fact that his son bore the brunt of his distraction this week. But he knew deep down, just as Kyle did, that they would continue to fight for their friends. They had, after all, both been saved themselves. He hoped – unrealistically, maybe – that they’d gotten past it driving any kind of wedge between them.

“What is it, Valenti?” Max asked quietly, casting anxious eyes toward the bedroom where his son slept. “What did you find out?”

“Not enough to be of much help,” Jim sighed. “Unfortunately, it just raises more questions.”

Isabel cast a sideways glance at her brother. “Like what?”

“Like how did Karen Garcia know about the base’s search for Tess Friday night-“

“She knows about Tess?” Max exploded.

“Not Tess exactly,” Jim was quick to add. “Just that they were looking for someone.” He paused, studying Max and Isabel’s somber faces. “Look, she cut herself off real quick when she realized she’d let on more than she should. To my knowledge, she knows nothing specific. Just that the base was after somebody.”

“But it’s still possible she knows more,” Max concluded woodenly.

Jim only nodded.

“And if she knows more it could become…news.”

Thinking back to his short conversation with the reporter, Jim nodded again. “It’s possible. But – what angle would she go with? Without quotes or direct information from the base, it’s doubtful anyone would believe it anyway-“

“I can’t take that chance,” Max interrupted harshly.

“I know you can’t, Max,” Jim replied gently. “And I’ll do my damndest to keep you all safe, you can count on that.”

“Thank you.” Max slumped back in his chair, suddenly deflated. “We should…talk to Michael before we decide…anything.”

“I wouldn’t make any rash decisions, Max,” Jim added. “We can’t assume she has anything…” But he trailed off, realizing Max was right. It didn’t matter if she only might have something. It was a risk none of them could afford to take.

*****

9:24pm

“So…we’ll see you back at my place then?” Maria questioned casually.

Michael reached into his locker, retrieving his motorcycle helmet before turning to look at her. “Yeah, I don’t know. I think I’m just gonna head back to my place tonight.”

“Oh.” Maria paused. “Well, my mom is going to be back in like a day, so-“

Michael shrugged. “I know. I just, you know, haven’t been sleeping very well on that couch. Besides, Max doesn’t need me to watch the kid anymore, so I don’t have any reason to be there.”

“Oh,” Maria said again, unsure of how to respond. Of how she wanted to respond. She couldn’t tell him that his indifferent words and attitude stung a bit; she wasn’t even sure why she cared. This was Michael, after all. “Well, whatever,” she managed, clearing her throat. “Ready, Liz?” she continued, grateful to see her friend descending the stairs from the apartment.

“Ready. See you back there, Michael,” Liz added.

“I’m going back to my place,” Michael responded gruffly, pulling his helmet over his head. “Later.” And without another glance, he was out the door and into the night.

Liz and Maria exchanged a look. “What was that all about?” Liz asked. “Is it because of that stuff with Max?”

“I don’t know,” Maria answered distractedly. But as she stared at the closed door after Michael, an unexplainable chill ran down her spine.



[ edited 2 time(s), last at 9-Feb-2003 11:26:05 PM ]