posted on 28-May-2002 10:20:00 PM by Realspacecadet
This is going to be a pretty short story, so it won't take long to be posted. If you're reading Cross-Wired, this shouldn't effect that story at all. If you all like this, I'll post the next part on Friday.


Singled Out
Realspacecadet7⊕aol.com
PG-13
Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Roswell, nor the "Singled Out" idea, which belongs to BRHS (I think).
AU M/L - Not heavy on the angst.
Summary: A catastrophe threatens Isabel's latest project, "Singled Out," but in the process of saving it, she unwittingly creates a real love connection.

Part One

"So, remember, buy your tickets for Singled Out! It's tonight, guys, so don't forget; tickets are five dollars if you buy one from our wonderful student council volunteers at the school store but seven dollars at the door!"

Boos and catcalls reverberated against the West Roswell High cafeteria walls. Max Evans looked up from his slumped position in the Senior Patio, jolted out of his reverie by the sheer volume of the teenagers eating lunch. He immediately saw his sister looking annoyed, standing at the front of the cafeteria; a janitor stood next to her, waving her hands convulsively in an attempt to quiet the teenagers.

"I want a piece of that, Evans!" one obnoxious junior called. Isabel grimaced and raised the microphone to her mouth once again, deciding to ignore him.

"You all really don't want to miss out on this," she called. "Any one of you can enter to win a date with the tempting Tess Harding, the handsome Kyle Valenti, or our two mystery guests." The students paid no attention to her, but she forged on. "And remember that I'll be there too, as your host!"

"Yeah, baby!" the same boy called, but Isabel simply returned the microphone to the eager janitor and stalked off.

"The things I do for popularity," she mumbled as she walked away.

Once the teens tired making their racket and the cafeteria reverted to its usual dull roar, Max replaced his head on his backpack. Usually, he would read during his lunch period, but he didn't have any books today.

Ever since his freshman year, he'd either had a lunch that included Michael or Liz. If Michael was in his lunch, they'd sit in companionable silence for the forty minutes. If Liz was present, well, he had something to occupy his attention.

However, senior year gave him a lunch period only shared with Isabel, who pretended to not know him as she sat with her popular clique on the far side of the cafeteria. Not that Max minded.

It would have been nice, though, to have someone to talk to. But instead, he stared at the shoes of the students who stood in line to buy tickets for Isabel's newest addition to Roswell High's events calendar. As long as he only looked at their shoes, they couldn't tell he was staring.

There was so much you could tell about a person by their shoes, Max thought. If they were too white or too dirty, Nike or Adidas, with laces or laceless, sandals or sneakers- all of the elements made it easy for Max to guess what their personalities were like.

His sneakers were old, worn, and black: very inconspicuous. Classical style. That meant he was...

The bell ringing to signal the end of lunch jarred Max out of his thoughts, and he stood up slowly. The cafeteria was almost empty already, but no one had bothered to nudge or call him. They never did.

Max shouldered his backpack wearily and headed to his last classes of the day, wishing he could just leave then to seek the solace of his room.

------------------------------------

A long December and there's reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last, I can't remember the last thing that you said as you were leavin', now the days go by so fast

Max lay with his hands clasped behind his head and stared at his bedroom ceiling, listening to the same song on repeat over and over. A half smile crossed his face when the thought occurred that it was now the weekend, and he could do this all day long if he wanted to.

Lying on his bed and staring at nothing while thinking about Liz was Max's favorite pastime. She'd been so pretty today, wearing a sun-dress that looked clean and newly bought to usher in the summer season. Max sighed, looking down halfheartedly to see his usual color palate of gray, navy, and black coloring his clothing. A piece of lint caught his attention, and Max reached out to pick it off when the phone rang, startling him.

He didn't move to answer it, because he knew it wasn't for him. Michael didn't call when he could simply walk in, and no one else would call Max, so picking up was useless. It occurred to Max that having a phone in his room at all was pointless. He didn't call anyone, either.

When the phone let out a third shrill ring and Max realized no one was going to get it, he heaved a sigh and picked up the receiver. His fingers fumbled to turn it on.

"Hello?"

The only answer he got was a cough. "Hello?" he tried again.

"Is this the Evans'?" a raspy voice asked. "Is Isabel there?"

Max frowned. "Um, yeah," he replied. "May I ask who's speaking?"

"This is Alex- Alex Whitman." The boy sneezed, and Max cringed on the other end. "Can I please talk to Isabel?"

"Hold on one second," Max muttered into the receiver. With a grunt, he got up from his bed and padded to the door. He flung it open and walked into the hallway, his ears searching for an indication of where his sister was.

"Isabel?" he called. "Where are you?"

He heard what sounded like the basement door slam, and Isabel's voice floated up to him. "Were you calling me, Max?" she shouted.

"Yeah," he answered. "Phone for you- it's Alex Whitman."

"Hold on." Max heard Isabel scrape something against the floor and then her feet thumped up the stairs. She appeared before him, looking disheveled. A slight line of worry creased her usually perfect forehead. "Gimme," she ordered, not even realizing it was Max's phone. He didn't protest.

"Hello?" His sister turned around and walked toward her room, already cradling the phone between her ear and shoulder while her hands became otherwise occupied.

Max wondered fleetingly why Alex Whitman was calling his sister and the lack of surprise she'd showed at the call. He didn't think the two of them had ever spoken to each other, really, so it was kind of strange. Instead of thinking, though, Max simply shrugged and retreated to his room. He could hear "A Long December" starting over again and he didn't want to miss it.

------------------------------------

Not five minutes later, Isabel barged into his room without knocking. She looked frantic.

Max sat up from his supine position quickly. "Is something wrong?" he demanded.

"Yes!" Isabel cried. "That was Alex Whitman!"

The tension drained from Max's body. Whatever it was that had Isabel worried obviously had nothing to do with their heritage. "So?" he asked blankly. "Since when do you have anything to do with him?"

"Max!" Isabel shouted. "Have you not been listening to a word I've been saying this week?"

He looked her in the eyes and gave a little shrug. "I guess not," he said sheepishly. At his admission, Max swore he could see steam coming out of Isabel's ears. She was pretty red, at least.

"Max-" Isabel began to speak very slowly. "Did you at least notice what Alex sounded like on the phone?"

"Well, he sounded sick," Max replied.

"Yes, Max, he sounded sick, because he is sick. And if he's sick," her voice went a pitch higher, " the he can't be the Mystery Guest on Singled Out!"

"Oh," Max said. "So that's what the problem is." He paused. "Wait. Why is that a problem?"

Isabel shrieked and tried to poke him with his phone, which was still in her hands. She was gripping the device so hard her knuckled were white. "We can't promise everyone two mystery guests and suddenly not have them!" She threw the phone on his bed in frustration. "What am I going to do?" she muttered. "This is my school function. It's supposed to be perfect and run smoothly. No one is supposed to get sick and cancel and leave me in a lurch like this." As she continued to talk, Isabel seemed to forget Max was even in the room.

"Nazi," he murmured.

Isabel's eyes shot back up to his. "What did you say?" she demanded to know.

Max held his arms out in a position of surrender. "Nothing, nothing," he protested.

Her eyes narrowed as though she were looking at him for the first time, and a sudden smile brightened her face. "I have the perfect solution to my problem," she told him happily.

Max nodded at her and motioned to the door. "Great. I'm so glad for you, and now that your crisis is over, can I get back to moping and listening to depressing music?"

Isabel's eyes gleamed devilishly. "No can do, little brother," she replied. "You're going to have to come with me, you lucky Mystery Guest, you."


TBC

[ edited 5 time(s), last at 18-Jul-2002 4:56:04 PM ]
posted on 31-May-2002 10:45:52 PM by Realspacecadet
Thanks for all the feedback! I'm so glad you all like the premise of this story. I think the chapter gives you a little more insight into the character's histories and sets the stage for the fun to come. Hope you enjoy it!

Two

His mouth dropped open. "No way," he said. "I am not doing that."

"Max," Isabel sighed. "How do suppose I am going to find another fill-in in the next half hour? You're my last resort."

He sputtered, "Last resort? You haven't asked anyone else!"

"You've got to do this for me, Max," she pouted. "This whole event is my claim to high school fame, my great gold star on the wall of awesome achievements, the deciding needle in the Most Popular superlative haystack. You wouldn't let your sister down, would you?" She gave him another desperate look, using the face that never failed to bend his will through their childhood. Max felt himself weakening as her face triumphed once again.

He sighed. "Isabel, I can't be the mystery guest. People probably won't know who I am, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to have stage fright. What kind of mystery guest will I make?"

Now it was Isabel's turn to gape. "You think people don't know who you are?" She shook her head disbelievingly. "Max, you are an enigma. Are you deaf, dumb, and blind, that you think you aren't noticed? Have you looked at yourself lately?"

He responded by looking up at her. "Huh?"

"Max!" Isabel looked exasperated. "You weren't exactly beaten over the head with the ugly stick- far from it. Half the girls in our class would probably wet their pants if you so much as looked at them, and now they're going to have a chance to win a date with you."

"Sure, Iz." He gave her a smile that didn't reach all the way to his eyes. "I'm gonna suck." Then, a second later, "Wait. I have to go on a date?"

Isabel rolled her eyes. "That's sort of the whole point of this Max," she replied sarcastically. Her ice facade went up as she continued. "You eliminate all the girls until there's only one left. And before you start getting anxious again, all you have to do is read questions off cards and pick the girls with answers you like. Stuff like that."

"In front of half the school."

"You'll be fine, Max. I'm sure you're not as much of a hermit as you pretend. Besides, what's the worst that could happen?"

"Public humiliation that will haunt me in my dreams for years to come and rack up future therapy bills," he replied weakly.

"Oh, come on, Max." Isabel grinned. "If you aren't in therapy now because your entire life is a big facade, then I don't think a little attention will kill you." She glanced at her watch. "Look, we have to go; there's so much to do and so little time! Make-up, you need to read the notes, making sure the rest of the bumbling idiots on student council haven't managed to screw everything else up..." She flew out of the room, still muttering to herself. On an afterthought, she paused to call to Max, "Be ready to go in five minutes."

------------------------------------

"Maria, we're going to be late," Liz cried, peering for the millionth time into the bathroom to see what was taking her best friend so long.

"Liz, babe, we've got plenty of time," she called. "Besides, I need my hair to be perfect."

Liz groaned. "I wish you never got those stupid extensions," she grumbled. "What if too many people register for the mystery guest and we can't register?"

"Chica." Maria spoke slowly and surely. "There will be plenty of room for us to Alex's," she snorted, "emergency date choices. But tell me again why we're doing this?" Maria finally stepped out of the bathroom and Liz looked at her enviously. Her new haircut did wonder to her body, making her face seem prettier and her body curvier. Her jewelry and makeup set off her loud outfit perfectly and Liz felt plain in comparison.

"You look amazing," she said quietly. "And we're doing this because if the only prospective dates Alex has are frightening or manly, he can pick us as a safety. Besides, I need the student council point for attending so I get to be the supervising senior for the science club."

"You and your science club," Maria teased. "What do you want that for?"

"Because I love science," Liz reminded her. Then she smirked and added, "And it looks great on college applications."

"C'mon, Harvard girl," Maria grinned. "We've got us some competition for Alex's affections."

The two girls walked out of Liz's room and down through the Crashdown to Maria's Jetta and then headed in the direction of the school.

------------------------------------

Max didn't think so many people had ever been looking at him at the same time. He knew his face must have been as red as a cherry at that moment, because the heat suffusing his face just kept coming. Some girl was describing in detail each round of play to him while another, he thought her name was Samantha or something of the sort, was doing his makeup.

Makeup.

Max had never thought in his life he'd be watching some random girl put blush and eyeliner on his face.

And Isabel only stood in the wings, alternating between barking out orders at the people she thought of as peons and grinning manically at him.

"So, anyway, Max, you've got the elimination round, then the skills round, then the personal questions. Got it?"

"Um, yeah, I think so," he told her, trying to resist the impulse to bolt from his seat.

"Gosh, Max, this is so cool," the girl gushed. "I mean, having Alex as the mystery guest was neat, 'cause he's got that whole musician thing going on, but I can't help but think his getting sick was fate, or something."

He choked. "Why do you say that?"

She looked a little flustered and didn't meet his eyes, instead concentrating on perfecting his hair. Unable to take it anymore, he got up. "You're just going to be awesome, Max," she finally managed.

"Yeah, okay," he mumbled. "I should go. I think Kyle needs his make-up to be applied now."

He rushed over to Isabel while trying not to wipe his hands across his face in irritation. "You're going to pay for this one," he told her.

"Oh, hey, Max." She was undaunted. "Anyway, people are arriving and registering for all the events now. We're going to have Kyle go first, then Tess, then you. You should watch Kyle's performance from the wings so that you know how you should act while you're up there, okay?"

"No, not okay," he complained. "I don't want to go on this date. Can't the winner go on the date with Alex anyway?" But Isabel wasn't listening; she was on cue to go out and begin the festivities in five minutes so she ran the lines through her mind.

"Nope, sorry. Look, Max, just chill out." She looked discreetly to all her sides, and spying no one, ran a quick hand over her body. Not one hair could be out of place. Someone suddenly appeared and wave at her. "That's the one minute cue," Isabel told him, and then walked confidently off.

Meanwhile, outside in the auditorium, a large population of Roswell High students were milling around. Two student council representatives sat in front of the doors selling tickets, and two others were registering people to compete. Liz and Maria stood in the mystery guest line, and they only had one more person before they reached the top.

Apparently, the person selling tickets was refusing to give one to the girl in front of them. "You can't have a ticket for the girl's competition," she insisted.

"Why not?" the girl asked. "I didn't think you were allowed to discriminate in this school. Maybe I should go ask the principal about this."

"Just stop," the student said irritably. "We both know you're only doing this to bug me and aren't in the least interested in trying to win a date with another girl. Can we please have who's next?" The last comment was directed toward Liz and Maria, who moved forward. Maria rolled her eyes.

"Two entries for the male mystery guest," Maria told her. The girl handed them two yellow pieces of paper and collected their ten dollars.

"Good luck," she said. "You're on third so go find yourselves a seat and fill those out."

Liz nodded and walked away with Maria following. The two girls found seats near the middle center of the auditorium and sat down to complete the surveys. "Elimination Round," Liz read. "Please pick your answer of choice and be honest."

"What kind of crap is this?" Maria asked. The first few questions were basic descriptive questions; what color their hair was, what color their eyes were, and others like that. The last few were weird, though.

"If you were a super-hero, would you rather be Wonder Woman, Catwoman, or the Pink Ranger?" Liz read. She chuckled. "At least they have a sense of humor," she shrugged, and continued filling out the paper. A few minutes later, Liz was finishing up when the lights in the auditorium went out. Seconds later, Isabel's voice carried over the sound system.

"Welcome to Singled Out," she said cheerfully, and then went on to describe the basics of the game. Liz tuned her out. In actuality, if Alex weren't the one competing, she wouldn't have come. This wasn't her scene at all, and there was no one else she could think of that she would want a date with bad enough to play a game for it.

Well, maybe one. But Max Evans would never look twice in her direction.

Kyle was first, and some blonde, blue-eyed sophomore won. He looked pleased when they came face to face and Maria booed. It was typical. Then came Tess, who ended up with some kid names Eddie. When she saw him, Liz was pretty sure she saw her face pale even with the pound of makeup she had on.

It was time for the first mystery guest, and Isabel returned to the microphone. "I hope you enjoyed the planned part of our program," the girl recited, "but now comes the fun part. We're now going to have some competitors who didn't know who they were registering to try to win a date with." Liz and Maria exchanged a look. "I think you're really going to like this one, Roswellians." Her smile nearly cracked her face and Liz felt a little bit of confusion. It wasn't like Alex was a god, and Isabel seemed way too pleased with herself to just be introducing their best friend. "Can all the competitors for the date with our male mystery guest come up and take their seats?"

About two dozen girls made their way up to the stage and took their seats in the row assembled for the challengers. There was a partition separating them from the person who they were trying to win the date from so that they couldn't see each other. Once they all settled down, Liz and Maria taking seats next to each other, Isabel cleared her throat.

"I'd like to introduce our first mystery guest," she told the audience. "My own very dear brother, Max Evans."

TBC
posted on 9-Jun-2002 12:27:54 PM by Realspacecadet
Thanks for all the bumpage- wow, I feel really special. I'm aiming on getting a part out tonight, and extra long, since I've been really lazy. So look for it, say, 10 eastern time or so.
posted on 9-Jun-2002 10:15:18 PM by Realspacecadet
Wow. I just want to thank everyone again for that bumpage. I feel so nervous now; I don't want to disappoint everyone with this part. I don't think it's that exciting, so I really, really hope you all like it. I mean, feedback from Breathless? That's absolutely nuts...
And a page full of bumps? I can feel my ego inflating...

Ok, so much for extra long, but I feel like I'm on a roll and I bet I can get another part out tomorrow. Don't hold me to it, but I'm going to try.

Three

Grinning wildly at the silence that suddenly swept over the auditorium, Isabel continued. "I know that, due to some leaks from our student council," she glared at the wings of the stage good-naturedly, "that some of you may have been expecting Alex Whitman to be your mystery guest. However, he wasn't able to attend, so Max so graciously volunteered to be our substitute. Why don't we all give him a round of applause?"

The response was deafening, and Isabel smiled even wider as the desired effect crept up Max's neck and into his face. "Now, if anyone wants to leave before we begin-" She left the option hanging, but she wasn't surprised when no one moved. Pleased, she also noticed Liz was one of the suitorettes.

She was looking a little awed, mouthing something to her friend Maria with one hand making small, frantic motions.

"Well," she went on, "We're going to start with the usual elimination round. If everyone can see their number of where they're sitting right now, you all know who you are for this round. Also, I need everyone to take the yellow sheet you all filled out and pass them to the person on your right. In case some of you weren't paying attention before, I'm going to read Max a series of questions, some with supplied answers. For each question, anyone whose answer matches with what Max wants in a girl will get a point. At the end of the round, the top eight people will get to move on to the next round." She looked to the audience. "I think you guys might be getting a little bored with that though, huh?"

There was a chorus of "Yeas." Isabel smiled; she was going to scare the crap out of Max by not following the plan.

"How about we change it up a little and raise the stakes?"

On the stage, Max's blush faded to a pale peach. The audience, however, was all for it.

"Excellent!" Isabel exclaimed. "I have an idea here that might work; we have questions about normal things like physical attributes and personality traits, and then we have the wilder questions. We have about twenty of you up here, so how about six people get eliminated the regular way, with the attribute questions, and then Max will personally ask the rest to our contestants. If he doesn't like the answers, then he eliminates all but the remaining eight. How does that sound?" Again, Isabel only heard sounds of approval, although she spied the assistant principal in the back of the auditorium looking a bit apprehensive. However, she wasn't going to do anything risqué, and variety was the spice of life.

"So, let's get started. Max, you feeling good right now?"

Max looked like a deer caught in headlights, and his mouth worked but produced no words. "Um, yeah," he finally managed.

"Looks like someone is nervous about their date," Isabel teased. "Anyway, Max, here's your first question. What color of hair do you prefer on a girl?"

Max seemed to relax a little. That question was easy. In his mind's eye, he could see Liz's brown hair so clearly, cascading down her shoulders, so shiny and- "Oh. Brown. Definitely brown." On the other side of the partition, Liz let out a breath she was holding. Maria frowned.

"I wouldn't mind a date with him either, you know," she mumbled. "And we're just beginning." The girls up there were a pretty even mix of blonds and brunettes, ad the blondes looked miffed that they were losing already.

"Okay, question two," Isabel announced. "Do you like tall or short girls?"

Max began to loosen up a little and get into the game. The audience had quieted down and it was almost easy to forget they were there. "Well, I guess I prefer shorter girls," he answered.

"Good thing I'm not a contestant," Isabel joked, "'Cause I'd be losing already."

"I don't think I want a date with you anyway, Iz," Max said, smiling. "And I'm pretty sure the audience wouldn't like it either."

"You got that right," some guy called from the back. The assistant principal looked visible irritated. Isabel cleared her throat and continued on quickly.

"So, Max, you like short brunettes, but what's your favor color to stare into? Of course, I'm referring to a girl's eyes."

"I'm going to have to go with brown again," Max replied. On the other side of the partition, a slow grin was spreading on Liz's face. Although there were still a couple girls who had the same features as her, she'd gotten a point for every question. Of course, there were a lot more sections to go. Just because Max happened to like the color brown didn't mean anything.

"Fascinating," Isabel replied. "How are all our contestants feeling over there?"

"Great," Maria called, never one to be shy on stage.

"Well, at least someone's willing to talk," Isabel joked. "Anyway, question four has answers that our contestants had to pick from. They had to choose whether they consider their skin tone to be pale, medium, or dark. So, what goes best with bronze?" she asked him.

"Um." Max paused. "Medium, I guess."

"Such enthusiasm," Isabel noted. "Moving on, here we have four personality questions. The first one asks what you prefer in a girl: brains, looks, or athletic ability." This was the first question Isabel actually doubted his answer on. She knew he was in love with Liz, but she wasn't sure if he would choose brains in front of the audience watching him from every direction.

"Well, I think it's important to be able to have intelligent conversations, even with girls," Max spoke into the microphone. "So I'll have to go with brains, although looks don't hurt." Liz bit her lip happily. She was positive he would choose looks, but he hadn't. He was so beautiful that he could have had the prettiest girl in the school, but he wanted someone with brains. She grinned crazily.

"Spoken like a true male. Only three questions left here, Max, so make careful decisions. Do you prefer someone talkative, quiet, or in the middle ground when you're having a conversation?"

"Well, I guess you all know I'm quiet," Max said. "But I don't think that means I would like someone who's chatty, nor someone who would have nothing to say. Someone who knows when to talk and when silence is ok is perfect."

"So, middle ground?" Isabel asked.

"Yeah."

"Well, here's our second to last question. Do you prefer people who are serious or funny?"

"What do you mean by funny," Max asked. Liz looked sad at his question, because she put serious down and that probably meant he was going to pick humorous. "I mean, someone who can appreciate a joke versus someone who never laughs, or a person who goes around playing practical jokes?"

Isabel scratched her head thoughtfully. "Well, I don't think any of our wonderful contestants never laugh, so I would say someone who likes to be a comedian. Our serious people are allowed to laugh, too."

'Serious, then," Max decided.

"As you wish," Isabel announced. "And that brings us to our last personality question before we have to dismiss some of our contestants. And believe me, we don't want you to go when we haven't even gotten to know you. Right, Max?"

"Yeah," he agreed.

"So, here's your final question. It's along the same lines as some of our other questions, but we can never be too thorough. Would you like a laid back girl, a girl who takes certain things serious, or someone who throws themselves into everything even if they don't feel passionately about it. In other words, do you like a needlessly devoted girl, a carefree one, or someone right there in the middle?"

"I'll have to go with the middle again," Max answered. "Wow, I'm really glad we're done with that part. It was getting a little boring, if you ask me."

"Well, thanks for your input," Isabel replied. "And that," she turned to the audience, "finishes up the very first section of Singled Out with our mystery guest, Max Evans. Now, we have to give our contestants a moment to total up their scores, and then we're going to have to be saying some goodbye. Now, remember, when you're eliminated, you walk off the stage in Max's direction, so he gets to see what he's missing."

Over in the row of contestants, Liz was bouncing up and down a little in joy, because she'd answered every single question the same as Max. Maria, however, was not so happy. Of the eight questions, she only answered half of them the same as Max. She didn't think that was enough to move into the next round, although she never knew. Only six people were being eliminated right now. She shrugged, realizing that fate was stepping in and finally putting Max and Liz together. It was way past time, anyhow; the two had been longing for each other for years.

"So, everyone ready?" Isabel asked. "Give the yellow sheets back to their rightful owners." She paused a second for them to comply. "Now, did anyone match eight of eight questions with Max?"

Isabel was unfazed when Liz raised her hand, though one other girl had apparently gotten all the same answers as well. She was pretty sure their name was Danielle, but she wasn't positive.

"Well, congratulations, you two. That means both of you are moving to the next round, but sit tight to get the rest of your challengers elected. How about people with seven matches?"

This time, five people raised their hands. "That's seven people moving on, now, which means there are only seven more spots left. How many of you had six the same?" Only three girls raised their hands. "Five matches, going once, going twice?" Three people raised their hands again. Maria cursed under her breath. "Well, it's unlucky thirteen," Isabel noted. "It seems like we have only one spot left, but if more than one of you had four matches, we're going to need some sort of tie breaker." A few people clapped, anticipating some excitement and competition.

"So, how many fours do we have?"

To Maria's dismay, four people raised their hands. Only three girls sat glumly, having gotten less than four right. They were tall blondes, looking exactly like most of Kyle's final contestants.

"Well, looks like we have a four way tie. For our tiebreaker in this round, since I basically created it myself, Max is going to pick his favorite number that all of you who tied is sitting in. I know, I know, it sounds boring, but I'm going to let the four of you announce the number you are." She paused. "If I were all of you, I would make this count."

Maria was contestant eleven. Two girls said their numbers before her, trying their best to be sexy, but Maria only grinned. She sang out lightly, "I am eleven," and a few people chuckled. It was the desired result. The last girl went, and the audience clapped.

"So, Max, who do you pick?" Isabel asked.

He laughed. "I think I'll go for eleven."

Hell, yeah. Maria stood up and took a bow as the six losers got up and began to walk off the stage.

"And that wraps up the first part of Singled Out," Isabel announced. "Now, why don't we get ot know Max a little better before we go on?"

TBC
posted on 16-Jun-2002 10:14:03 PM by Realspacecadet
I'm really sorry I haven't been around lately. I've been feeling under the weather and I've had a mound of work to do. Everything should hopefully be clearing up soon so I can actually think without feeling like I'm having a breakdown. Usually I procrastinate by writing fic but I've gotten to the point where there's no longer a minute to spare.
Hope I can post soon.
posted on 9-Jul-2002 4:31:26 PM by Realspacecadet
Excuses, excuses, excuses.

I'm currently sitting in a public library because I feel horribly guilty that I haven't updated for a month. I'm on the vacation from hell, basically, but it ends Friday. I have half a part saved on a floppy disk right now, but I don't really like to post an incomplete part. So, I'm asking you guys to believe me that I'm going to post on Friday come hell or high water and hope you're all still interested in the story.

See y'all Friday.
posted on 13-Jul-2002 11:42:09 PM by Realspacecadet
Sorry, I got home late yesterday and then my brother hogged the computer. I know the part isn't that long but I'm home now with nothing to do, so expect another part by Wednesday.

Thanks for the patience!

Four

"So, Max, why don't you tell us a little about yourself?"

He looked at Isabel a little oddly, but opened his mouth. "Well, I'm a senior here at West Roswell High. I like music, sports, and my favorite subject is science, I guess. I'm a pretty regular guy."

"That's great, Max," Isabel said. "You're really making these girls want by that description." She grinned. "So, on that note, why don't we continue with this first round. We've eliminated six of the twenty contestants and now we need to get rid of six more. To do this, you're going to pick random contestants, who have all moved now to chairs one through fourteen. Then, you're going to ask them any of these questions you wish. There are six questions here, so you can ask two challengers each question. We've got a little pad of paper here for you to take notes and pick whom to eliminate as well. And without further ado, let's begin."

"That seems a little unfair," Max complained, turning his head to the audience. "I only get to ask one question, and what if I don't like that answer but I agree with the rest of them." Some people cheered. "I know we want to spice it up a little, but what if my near-perfect match gets unlucky?"

Isabel rolled her eyes. Max was such a cheese-ball, but the audience was eating it up. She knew the key to success was making people happy, so she needed to listen to Max. "I guess we can have the audience decide if they agree with you. Ok. guys, if you want to let Max change the rules again, make some noise!" A good amount of cheering and clapping sounded, and at her next instruction the noise was weaker. "Ok, Max, you win; so, what do you suggest we do?"

"How about I get thirty seconds to talk to each contestant, in order, about the questions. I move down the line, and at the end I get to decide who stays and who goes." Max grinned and faced the audience for their approval. "Yeah?"

The audience seemed to agree with Max, so the amended round two began. Liz, at that point, was squirming in her chair nervously. She was never going to win and she knew it, so she was trying to prepare herself for the disappointment. By then, she had been moved to seat eight, right in the middle of the mini-interviews. Liz realized Max was already on the third girl and began to listen.

"So, if you had a choice of wonder woman, cat woman, or the pink ranger, which superhero would you be?"

"Definitely the pink ranger; she’s real and powerful at the same time," the girl said enthusiastically.

"Oh, too bad, that's time for number three," Isabel announced. "Moving on to contestant number four..."

Liz sighed, deciding to just take some deep breaths until it was her turn to be interrogated. And then, all too quickly, it was.

"Contestant eight, if you had to give up one of your senses, which one would it be?"

"I would have to say smell," Liz replied.

"And why is that?"

"Well, I think that smell and taste evoke similar reactions, so it wouldn't be like completely losing a sensation."

Max nearly choked. He knew that voice. He would know that voice anywhere. Liz was a contestant. "Interesting," he managed. "And which cartoon character appeals to you most- the Tick, Mickey Mouse, or Face from Nick Junior?"

A couple people chuckled- he hadn't asked anyone that question yet, thinking it even worse than the superhero one.

"Face," she answered, "because he's always so happy and optimistic." And then time was up, and Max had to remind himself to breath.

Liz was here, on stage, separated from him with merely a divider. And she was trying to win a date with him. Technically. So what if she hadn't known he would be here? He still had the chance to go on a date with her.

"Hey, Max," Isabel was saying, and he came out of his reverie. "You've still got six more contestants to go." Max flushed and looked at the audience, seeing the sea of faces in front of him. Suddenly, he felt awkward and nervous again, the comfort of the spotlight gone when he realized his dream girl shared the stage with him.

He hardly listened to the rest of the answers, just giving perfunctory acknowledgements and jotting down scribbles. When the round was finally over, Isabel made a couple more jokes and then asked him if he was ready to decide who would stay.

"Yeah," he answered. "How do we do this one?"

"Just tell us who gets to stay, but mix up the order. Let's have some suspense!" On cue, a few notes of music played in the auditorium, setting the scene. "Who will be the first to stay?"

Without thinking, Max blurted out, "Contestant number eight!" Across the divider, Liz's heart skipped a beat. He called her name first! At the same time, Isabel grinned. This was working out perfectly.

"Congratulations to contestant number eight- you're moving on to the next round. But who else will join you?" Within the next two minutes, contestants one through six and contestant ten, who happened to be Maria, joined Liz among those advancing to the next round. Max knew that he wasn't being impartial, and that the first six girls had made it because he spaced out on the second half, but he didn't care. If he could just go on one date with Liz, that would be enough material to supply his dreams for a long, long time.

"Well, that's all eight contestants that get to advance to the next round. I'm sorry, but those of you who weren't picked now have to walk the walk of shame and let Max see what he's missing out on..." The girls got up, a little annoyed, and shuffled past Max's glazed eyes. He looked at them briefly; some were cute, some not so cute, and he noticed a girl who always stared at him in lit. None of them were even comparable to Liz. When the last descended the stairs of the stage, Isabel cleared her throat.

"That leads us into our second round, which is the skills round. Now that we have eight contestants, we're going to bring out the hand-made student council 'wheel of talent.'" Isabel grinned. "Each contestant will spin the wheel and land on a trait that significant others should have, and we have a task for all of you to perform to show your aptitude in that area. The audience will be in charge of the scoring, of course, because their clapping determines whether you move on or not." She paused. "Let's have the audience give a nice practice cheer while we bring the wheel out, shall we?"

The auditorium was filled with applause and cheers. "Great! Let's set that as a mark to judge how much you guys like our contestants." As she talked, two boys finished setting a large, awkward wheel a little to the right of Max.

"As before," Isabel continued, "our contestants will don our stylish paper bag masks to conceal their identities from Mystery Max, so he can watch them complete their tasks. Remember to watch for Max's reaction, because I know you all want him to get his dream date, right?!"

------------------------------------

Everyone got a good laugh each time the contestants put on the paper bags. Eyes and mouths had been poked out by student council members for breathing and seeing, but most also had funny features sketched on the paper, big enough so that the first few rows in the audience could make them out. Danielle was the first of Max's suitorettes to don the bag and make her way to the front of the stage.

The wheel was separated into eight sections, each one consisting of a colorful word or phrase on a piece of paper. The whole apparatus was supported by a wood frame, and a flipper at the top slowed the wheel down when Danielle spun it to pick the first category.
After a few seconds, the flipper came to rest on charm the 'rents.

"Great pick!" Isabel exclaimed. "In this round, charm the 'rents asks you to face our surrogate parents and keep a cool demeanor while they interrogate you about attentions toward Max. Getting parental approval is important in any relationship, so be sure to keep a straight face." The blond grinned as Danielle looked nervous. She knew the girl was smart, and obviously she called herself serious, but she was the girl who could never keep a straight face when anything mildly humorous happened. She was dead.

Among laughter from the audience, Kyle and Tess reemerged from the wings of the stage; Kyle was dressed in a ridiculous tweed jacket and Tess carried a magnifying glass. Isabel rolled her eyes, remembering it had been the girl's own idea when Isabel asked her to play the part of the mother in this round.

"Pleased to meet you," Kyle said, sticking out his hand to Danielle. "I see you've come to date our wonderful, intelligent son, Max. He's a fragile boy, though, so we've got to make sure you're going to treat him right." Kyle delivered his lines with conviction, bobbing his head with each statement, and Tess was nodding in sync. Danielle's face strained with her smile and it was obvious she was trying not to laugh.

"Er- pleased to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Evans," she managed. Tess held up her magnifying glass and proceeded to squint into it.

"Is that a belly button ring?" she asked suddenly. "Kids today- always punching holes in their body. You're not trying to get our sweet Max to get a piercing, are you?" Her brow furrowed. "Exactly what are your intentions toward my son?"

And that was all Danielle could take. Nerves and the sheer hilarity of the situation got to her, and she burst out laughing.

"This is serious business, young lady," Kyle told her sternly. Behind them, Max's shoulders shook with quiet laughter. He was suddenly really glad he'd let Isabel talk him into this. Kyle forged on. "How do you do in school? What college are you going to? What's your future vocation?"

Danielle managed to contain herself to answer his questions, and then Isabel slid back into the conversation smoothly. "Well, that's the end of your skill challenge, contestant number one. Max, what did you think?"

Kyle and Tess retreated back into the wings, and Max looked at the girl apologetically, giving the audience thumbs down. "Sorry, but I don't think my parents would appreciate if you laughed in their faces."

The audience seemed to agree with Max, and he thought that challenge was one of the best all night. It defiitely cheered him up, at least. Now, all he had to do was wait for Liz to get her challenge, and hope she did well.

TBC

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 14-Jul-2002 11:15:15 PM ]
posted on 18-Jul-2002 4:55:01 PM by Realspacecadet
Hey, everyone!

I couldn't post yesterday, but here I am today.

I hope everyone enjoys this part, because the competition ends in the next part.

Don't worry though, because I'm definitely going to go on with this story through the date. I mean, as long as Liz wins it, that is. :-P

I hope you all enjoy this part, because I think it's pretty silly.

Oh, and I'd like to say I feel ashamed when my feedback is longer than my parts. I feel like people might go to the page and actually think my parts are long, and then they end when there are 50 more pages of "MORE!". Actually, I'm just kidding. I love that someone is so enthusiastic about this story. It makes me feel special. LOL.

So, without further ado:

Five

Kyle and Tess retreated back into the wings, and Max looked at the girl apologetically, giving the audience thumbs down. "Sorry, but I don't think my parents would appreciate if you laughed in their faces."

The audience seemed to agree with Max, and he thought that challenge was one of the best all night. It defiitely cheered him up, at least. Now, all he had to do was wait for Liz to get her challenge, and hope she did well.

If the contestants merely shifted down to accommodate for those who had lost the game, Liz would be number seven. However, Max didn't know if they had all mixed themselves up in each round, so anything was possible.

As it happened, Max's guess was correct, at least for that round. Since only one person in the first eight was eliminated, Liz shifted to the seventh seat and Maria took her previous spot. She grinned at Liz, knowing her friend was probably surprised she'd survived after her near-elimination in the very first round.

The second girl put on her paper bag and made her way to the front of the stage. As the audience cheered, she spun the wheel and waited breathlessly for it to come to a stop. When it landed on domestic skills, Maria giggled and muttered, "This should be good."

And it was.

------------------------------------

After watching the girl shave shaving cream off of a balloon, another girl demonstrate her talents in party-going activities by chugging- water. that was, and other equally amusing stunts, it was Liz's turn. The only two options left were romance and through the stomach. She didn't know which of those she wanted, really. No matter what she spun, it wasn't going to be a piece of cake- or normal, so she could only hope.

The paper bag felt thin and her breath was warm inside it. Liz got up on legs that were a little stiff from sitting so tensely and crossed to stand in front of Max. She knew immediately that he recognized who she was, paper bag or no paper bag, and her heart jumped in her chest. Then again, it didn't mean anything- she and Max were lab partners, and it stood to reason he would recognize her body. Still, though, it made Liz want to win the contest even more.

"Well, contestant number seven, look at all those choices you have left!" In order to not spend forever waiting for the last few contestants to spin an option that hadn’t been picked, the already used tasks were taken off the board. Then, whichever task left that was closest to the spin was what the contestant would perform.

With a deep breath and a muttered prayer, Liz spun the wheel. It seemed to spin round and round for an eternity until finally coming to a stop- on though the stomach. Crap. The only thing she could imagine this had to deal with was food, and she could only pray a lifetime of living in a restaurant would come to her aide.

“What an interesting choice!” Isabel exclaimed. “Of course, everyone knows the old saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. So, to complete this task, you’re going to be presented with our home-made tray of edible edibles. You have two minutes to create a gourmet meal for Max, and then you’ll be evaluated on how delicious your food looks- and how Max likes its taste.”

This didn’t sound that bad, but Liz wasn’t fooled. She was going to reserve her judgment until the food tray was brought out. “Sounds delightful,” she told Isabel.

The blonde snapped her fingers, and another student council member, Courtney, rolled a table out. The table was covered with a metal top that looked like an art project gone bad, and Courtney wore a slanted chef’s hat on her head. “Bon appetite,” she called, smirking.

“Your two minutes will start when I uncover the cover,” Isabel informed her. “Good luck.”

Liz nodded, so Isabel held up a timer to show the audience, and revealed what was on the tray with a flourish.

Liz looked at the utensils she’d been given first, her eyes widening slightly in shock. They’d given her three things: scissors, a straw, and a spork.

A spork.

What the heck was she going to do with scissors, a straw, and a spork?

“Go!” Isabel shouted.

The food selection actually wasn’t that bad. There was some produce, a long, thin Italian bread loaf, some pasta, a wedge of cheese, and a pitcher of water with two cups.

Liz wondered fleetingly why they would give two cups, but decided to go to work instead. She took the plate that was on the side pushed some pasta onto it with the spork. She’d thought quickly and realized that using her hands would be more efficient than using the tools, but that was probably the trick. If she used her hands, that would be grounds for Max to refuse to eat. Then she would lose, and there was no way in hell she wanted that to happen.

Grabbing the Italian bread, Liz used the scissors to cut a few moderately even chunks. She lined them on the edge of the plate and Isabel announced, “That’s thirty seconds gone, contestant number seven. You’d better get cooking.” And then she laughed at her own pun.

Liz poured some water into one of the cups, just enough to fill about an inch. Hit with an idea, she grabbed a tomato and cut it with the scissors. Working quickly, she mushed the half into the cup with the fork, working it into a semi-puree as she cut what she assumed was a zucchini with her other hand. As her time wound down, Liz poured her ‘sauce’ onto the pasta, hoping California-style sauce wasn’t too horrible, sprinkled the cut up vegatables on top, and used the scissors to fill in the gaps between the bread with cheese. With ten seconds left on the clock, like shoved the plate on the finished-food tray and poured a glass of water for Max.

“Time’s up!” Isabel was grinning over watching Liz’s frantic actions for the last two minutes. It would have been funny in any situation, but watching someone do it in a paper bag just upped the amusement factor. “Please present your gourmet meal to Max over here, but show the audience first. Just be careful not to slop any all over the place, because then we’d have to deduct some points.”

Without any warning, a spotlight was focused on Liz. She blinked at the brightness, but held up her tray expertly. She knew the angle a waitress could tilt a tray without spilling it from years of practice, and she even did a little cyclical motion to show off. Then, she marched over to Max and placed the plate in front of him with a flourish of her own.

Isabel handed Max a fork. “Dig in,” she told him. He picked up the fork, his eyes locked on Liz.

Who cared what the food tasted like!

Surprisingly, the cold tomato and water sauce wasn’t half bad, and the vegetables were cut into friendly chunks. He also took a slice of bread and a piece of cheese, munching slowly. It was obvious this task was more concentrated on preparation and presentation, because of the tools Liz was given to create her confection.

“Yum,” he spoke into the microphone. “Five stars.” He gave the audience two thumbs up, and Isabel brought the microphone back to her own mouth.

“That ‘five star’ meal was created with a straw, a spork, and a pair of scissors. So what do you all think?”

The cheers were loud enough that Max knew right away Liz would make it to the next round. He let out a breath he’d been holding and a grin broke out across his face. After this round, another four people would be eliminated, and then there was the last round.

One round left until he would know if all his dreams would be coming true.

Though neither of them knew it, Liz’s thoughts matched Max. Even though Maria still had to complete her task, the cheers had been loud enough for Liz to realize she was definitely moving on. She fairly bounced back to her seat and removed the paper bag, mouthing good luck to Maria.

Isabel was talking again. “Well, guys, we’ve reached the last contestant in this round. Obviously, contestant number eight,” Maria crossed into Max’s sight as his sister talked, “You will be dealing with the art of romance.”

“Lucky me,” Maria told her.

“How many of you guys have seen Whose line is it anyway? ?” Isabel asked. The auditorium was filled with noise. “Well, that’s good, because we’re going to be playing one of their favorite games on the show. Can we bring out your partner for this task?”

The spotlight focused on the wings of the stage, and a tall, blond boy walked out. Most of the people recognized him as Corey, the resident one-man band. He carried with him his saxophone, the main instrument he played in the school band.

Maria realized what she was going to have to do and did a mental jig. “Let me guess- Corey is going to play his sax while I compose an original masterpiece?”

“Contestant number eight, don’t spoil the fun!” Isabel chided. “But yes, you’re right. So, contestant eight, what is your favorite feature in a man?”

“I guess I would have to say his eyes,” she told her.

“Well, that’s excellent,” Isabel replied. Then, she jumped, rather skillfully, off the stage. A few people in the front row gasped. “Did I surprise you?” she asked.

She walked over to someone looking pretty bored in their seat.

“Can you pick a style of music?” she asked, shoving the microphone in their face a little too enthusiastically.

They said, “huh.”

Isabel sighed. “A style of music- you know, pop, rock, opera, swing, reggae?”

“Right,” the kid nodded. “Reggae sounds good.”

Isabel made her way back up to the stage. “Well, you heard it,contestant eight. I’d like you to think of a song about Max’s eyes in reggae style, and perform it with Corey accompanying you. Let’s set the timer for a minute, shall we?” Without waiting for Maria’s consent or not, Isabel clicked the buzzer.

As Corey’s first notes began to play into the auditorium and Maria racked her brain, Max rolled his eyes.

He was going to be hearing about this contest for weeks to come.

TBC


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 28-Sep-2002 2:21:34 PM ]