|posted on 8-Jun-2002 6:47:08 PM by EmilyluvsRoswell|
|Hey guys. This is definitely not going to end up as one of my mega-sagas. I'm thinking four parts right now. Maybe a tad longer if they get uncooperative. And yes, I'm still working on Homes. Should have another part of that up tomorrow night if all goes well.|
The First Year
Disclaimer: Not mine, though that seems less important than it used to.
Summary: Post-Graduation. Max and Liz's first year of marriage, spent on the run.
Spoilers: The whole caboodle.
Rating: NC-17. Yes, really.
Author's Note: It's rare for me to actually follow up on my ideas these days, but this one refuses to leave me alone. Call it a farewell to Roswell.
* * *
Liz wakes to the steady patter of rain falling gently outside the window. Darkness envelopes her and she experiences a moment of panic until her eyes begin to adjust to the dimness. It is the same every night; another strange room, a different strange bed, a new set of meaningless pictures hanging over a single empty dresser. Sometimes there is wallpaper - stripes or dingy flowers - but mostly just paint, peeling where it meets the molding. Only on the nights they spend in the van, when it's their turn to curl up in the cramped space between the seats, does she immediately remember where she is and why.
The first week they only stopped two nights in motels. Fear had driven them, forcing them to stick to back roads, weaving through towns that made Roswell seem like a major metropolis. They had eaten in diners and out of vending machines, washing up as best they could at public restroom sinks, and once in the locker room of a YWCA. Only after they'd passed through Arizona had they relaxed slightly, checking into tiny motels and out-of-the-way motor inns each night, taking two rooms to conserve money and rotating who slept outside. But the next morning they always hit the road again, following another ribbon of asphalt wherever it might lead, never staying more than a night in any town.
Labor Day has come and gone and the weather is beginning to change. Not so much during the days - those are still hot - but she can feel a crispness to the air after the sun goes down. Soon they will need warmer clothes, especially if they continue to head north. Even with the way they keep backtracking, they will reach the Canadian border by mid-October. Money is getting tight. The guys did a stint as day workers on a construction site in Nevada, and she, Isabel and Maria filled in at a greasy spoon near San Diego one afternoon when half the wait staff was abruptly deported, but that was hardly enough to replenish their meager supply of cash. They need to find someplace safe to settle down and find jobs, if only for a little while.
Yet she cannot seem to worry. The knowledge is there, in the back of her mind. Their situation is something she acknowledges as fact, but she feels no urgency to fix it. She trusts that things will work out. She wonders how it is possible to be so calm when you are running for your life.
But she knows the answer. He's lying spooned behind her, one arm wrapped around her waist with his warm palm cradling her breast. Soft, steady breaths feather over the nape of her neck, gently stirring her hair. Her soul, her love… her husband. Max is the one true constant in the chaos of her life. With him, she feels utterly safe. He chases away her fears, her panic, his soothing presence in their narrow borrowed bed reminding her that walls don't make a home.
Slipping from his arms, careful not to disturb him, she moves silently through the strange room. Finding his discarded shirt, she pulls it on to ward off the damp night. Her bag is where she left it at the foot of the bed and she rummages through it with a practiced hand. She has become adept at finding her way in the dark.
It only takes a moment to locate what she is looking for. Taking the slim leather book, she curls up on the floor beneath the window, parting the curtains a scant inch to allow the street lamp outside to shine down on her lap. The pages rustle quietly in the stillness of the room as she uncaps her pen and begins to write.
Max watches her writing, as he does every night. Harsh light spills through the window and over the shining curtain of her hair, illuminating the journal and making her slim bare legs glow milky white where they curl beneath her. He resists the urge to climb out of bed and scoop her into his arms, though he aches to touch her. This is her ritual - her only time alone - and he respects it for as long as he can. Besides, he loves to watch her almost as much as he loves to hold her. It reminds him of how far they have come from that time when watching her was his only reality, and touching her the stuff of dreams.
There is so much he wants for her, that he wishes he could give her. A house to live in. The chance to go to college. Safety. After three months on the run, he already wonders how long the novelty will last, and whether the danger will last longer. A summer adventure in a van might be romantic, but how will she feel when the temperature drops and they are rattling down a snowy highway on four balding tires?
She turns a page and her ring catches the light, sending rainbows dancing across the carpet and over the bed. The whimsical movement attracts her attention and she looks up, meeting his gaze.
"You're awake," she murmurs.
"You're beautiful," he replies, watching a light blush color her cheeks. "It's too cold to sit on the floor."
"That's why I'm wearing your shirt," she replies, tugging at the sleeve.
"I like you in my shirts," he whispers huskily. "But I prefer you out of them."
She sets aside her journal, marking her page with her pen, and slowly rises to her feet. "Is that so?"
"Oh yes," he murmurs, sitting up. He watches as she closes the scant distance between them.
Stopping in front of him, Liz plays with the hem of the shirt in question. "I thought you were worried about me being cold?"
"I am," he assures her. "But I have a much better method of keeping you warm."
In one swift motion, he sweeps the shirt up and over her head, tossing it to the floor, then tumbles her onto the bed. Rolling her beneath him, he revels in the sensation of skin on skin as he captures her mouth in a smoldering kiss. Liz sighs softly and her arms wrap around his neck so she can pull him closer.
"I think you've written enough for one night," he tells her, his words barely audible as he presses hot, wet kisses in a trail down her neck.
She arches in response to his caresses. "I'll never… catch up… at this rate," she breathes as he nips at her shoulder, then follows the gentle love bite with a sweep of his tongue.
Max cups her hips in his palms and shifts between her thighs, letting her feel his arousal against her heated center as his mouth continues on its southerly journey. He kisses across her collar bone and over the silky slope of her breast, capturing one hard nipple with his lips. Liz cries out at the sudden suction and he feels her hands sink into his hair as she presses up against his searching mouth. Opening wider, he laves her plump breast with his tongue before sucking it in deeply, feeling her respond to every pull of his lips. Her hips rock against his purposefully, her wetness coating him as he rubs against her core.
"I need you," she whispers hoarsely, lifting up in a desperate motion.
"Soon," he promises, switching to her other breast. He kisses around the base in ever shrinking circles, avoiding the dusky pink nipple that already stands at attention. Liz makes a strangled sound in the back of her throat and he grins.
"Max," she pleads. Her hands have worked their way down his back and she is clutching his hips as she raises her own, grinding against his impossibly hard length.
He stifles a groan and closes his mouth over her breast, sucking hard as Liz's cry rings in his ears. She grips his ass and arches her back and he can feel the tension zinging through her body. When he finally lifts his head and meets her gaze, he finds eyes glazed with passion and desire.
"I love you," he says softly, even as he tilts her hips to find the right angle and surges into her body.
"Ohhhh," she moans, her eyes closing for a split second, and she arches up to meet him. Then she is looking into his soul, her dark brown eyes wet with unshed tears, and she is smiling up at him with such love that he feels his heart clench. "I love you, too," she breathes.
There are no more words as their bodies take over, rocking in unison, pleasure building until neither of them can wait and they fall over the edge together. Afterwards, they lie in each other's arms as their skin cools and their breathing evens out once more, trading small, gentle kisses and soft caresses. Max pulls the covers up over them and cuddles Liz against his chest, pressing his forehead against hers so he can look into her eyes.
"What are you thinking?" she asks quietly.
"Just wondering if we'll always be like this," he says, somewhat sheepishly.
"Like what?" she teases, tracing a finger down the center of his chest.
"Insatiable," he admits shyly. "I can't imagine ever looking at you and not wanting you desperately," he confesses.
"Well, we are still newlyweds," she reminds him. "Technically still on our honeymoon."
"Some honeymoon," he mutters. "I can't say I ever pictured it quite like this… accompanied by your ex-boyfriend, my sister, and our two best friends."
Liz laughs. "When have we ever gone in for the conventional?"
He battles with the urge to tell her he is sorry. She has made him promise to stop apologizing for things out of his control. In return, she has sworn to tell him if she ever stops being perfectly happy, though she insists it will never happen. It is a hard bargain for him to live with, on both sides, but he is more than willing to try.
Instead of answering her, he leans in and kisses her. "What's so great about normal?" he whispers.
"I can't get over how wet it is here," she comments as they snuggle more deeply into the sleeping bag. It is their turn to sleep in the van tonight, and it is raining again.
"It just seems wet compared to home," he tells her. "Are you warm enough?"
"Fine. I think I've gotten some of your internal temperature control, along with everything else," she says thoughtfully. Her powers have continued to develop, though at a much calmer pace than they had the previous winter.
"Handy," he says, nibbling on her earlobe.
"Max, stop," she scolds. "You know the rules."
"I know," he moans, pulling away. "No sex in the van." He makes a face and drops down on his pillow.
Liz laughs. "You're highly in favor of the rule when Michael and Maria are sleeping out here," she reminds him.
"At least we don't have to worry about Kyle and Isabel."
He groans. "Please. We're talking about my sister. And she's technically still a married woman," he adds, sounding regretful.
"I know," Liz says, stroking his hair off his forehead. "But Max, don't be too harsh with her."
He eyebrows hike upward. "Are you telling me…?"
"No, not that I know of," she assures him. "But if that time should come, just let them be. This is hard on all of us."
"I know," he sighs. "So, sleep? Or do you want to write?"
"Actually, neither," she says cryptically.
Max frowns. "Well, what then?"
Liz reaches into her bag and pulls out her journal, then hands it to him. "I want you to read it."
His fingers close automatically over the book, but his expression is hesitant. "Liz… I… Why now?"
"Do you remember that day when you asked if you could? After it had been missing and I had gotten it back?"
"You said it wasn't a very good idea," he responds. "Because then I'd see how you really saw me."
"Max, you know how I see you," she says softly. "Back then, well, it would have been out of place given the status of our relationship. Now… I want you to understand. To believe," she adds. "And then maybe you can stop worrying so much."
"Shhh," she tells him. "I love you, Max Evans. And I have never in my life been as happy as I am when we're together. None of the rest matters. So, read," she orders, pointing at the book in his hands.
"Okay," he says. He pulls her closer so she is resting against his chest, then opens her journal and begins to read their shared history through her eyes.
He reads all night, long after she has fallen into an easy slumber in his arms. More than anything he is struck anew by her generous heart and her endless faith in him. Some sections are difficult to read, knowing what he now does about their outcome. Worse still are the gaps in the narrative - places where he knows Liz could not bring herself to even write down the words - and he aches for her all over again. But despite it all, they are pages filled with love and he finds himself thanking whatever force set the universe spinning for allowing him this life, even with all of its dangers and hardship.
It is dawn before he finally closes the journal and sets it aside. His eyes burn, but he feels oddly awake. As if she knows he has finished, Liz stirs against his side and sits up, her sleepy gaze questioning.
"Thank you," he says, unable to find anything more appropriate in the face of the miracle that is his wife.
But she understands, as she always does. "I'm sorry I fell asleep," she tells him, acknowledging that there were most likely times over the course of his reading when he could have used her comfort.
"No," he assures her. "It's fine. I'm good." He pulls her back down into his arms and presses small, undemanding kisses over her hair. "It's next week, you know."
"I know," she whispers.
Max tightens his grip on her, as if the mere mention of that day three years earlier might cause her to fly from his arms. Three years since a shot rang out and he nearly lost her before she was his. "It's hard to believe. Sometimes it feels like forever," he admits.
"It was another lifetime," she replies. "Someone else's lifetime."
"No," he says, a bit more adamantly than he intends to. "Our life. Our reality."
She nods, but remains silent.
"I think… I want to send my journal home, Max. To my parents." She sits up and looks him in the eye. "They have the right to know."
"They do," he agrees. "But it's risky, Liz. We don't know what the FBI has put them through since we left." It isn't something they have talked about much, but they are painfully aware of the complications most likely visited upon their families in the wake of their disappearance.
"If I tell them to read it and then burn it? It should be okay by now, don't you think?"
"As long as we take precautions," he says. "We can overnight it in case they're watching the mail. Pay cash. Use the wrong name on the return label." His mind is whirling. "You'll have to enclose a letter so they understand how important it is for them to keep quiet. Right from the beginning, before they even start to read."
He picks up the book and runs a hand over the leather cover, then passes it to her. "Are you sure? It's been with you through everything."
She takes the journal and smiles. "I'm sure. It's just a book, Max. Ink and paper. It was a way of staying sane through all the crazy ups and downs of our relationship." She tucks the volume back into her bag, then looks deep into his eyes. "I don't need it anymore."
[ edited 5 time(s), last at 24-Jul-2002 11:18:44 PM ]
|posted on 13-Jun-2002 11:54:46 PM by EmilyluvsRoswell|
|Hi guys! First, I just want to thank you all for your incredible feedback. You're all so enthusiastic, and I really appreciate it. You guys rock.|
I would like to address a few comments/questions. This is definitely staying short, so it's not going to be like my Homes series in the sense of my trying to "fix" the show or work in everything I felt was missing. That's what I did with Homes after Destiny, and I'm still trying to finish it! LOL! Think of this as more like a few short vignettes... postcards from the road, if you will. Just to see what they're all up to. wimsey, you were dead on when you said the last part could stand alone. That was kind of the feel I was going for.
Anyway, so unlike my usual fics, where I tell you "all questions will be answered in time"... they probably won't. LOL! No parents in this story, no update on Jesse, no news from the "outside world."
Carol, we met at the August LA party last year. I know exactly who you are. I haven't had a chance to read your post-Grad fic, but then I'm afraid I haven't had much time to read new stuff lately. I'll keep an eye out. Thanks for the heads up.
Okay, guys. Since I know you've all jumped ahead anyway... LOL! Here's part 2. Enjoy!
"Bless you!" Liz grabs a box of tissues off the coffee table and passes them to Maria.
"Thanks," comes the sniffled reply. "I think I need to be brought back from a near-death experience," she grumbles.
"What?" Liz asks.
"I'm the only one of us still susceptible to colds," Maria complains. "I need some alien mojo." She pauses to blow her nose. "Who's bright idea was it to spend the winter in Wisconsin again?"
"Michael's," Isabel supplies. "And as I recall, you backed him up. I wanted to head south." She tosses a tangle of blue yarn onto the floor, knitting needles clattering as they hit the floorboards. "I'm never going to learn to do this," she pronounces.
Liz's eyebrows arch as she looks at her two friends. "Well aren't you just grumpy and grumpier today. What's going on?"
"What's going on?" Isabel echoes. "Liz, there's like a foot of snow out there! Christmas is in two days. All our spare cash went for the new tires for the van. We can't afford a tree or decorations or real presents. We can't even call our parents or… anybody. How can you be so chipper?"
"Personally, I'd settle for being able to breathe through both nostrils," Maria mutters.
"It could be worse," Liz tells them. "Try to look at the bright side."
"What bright side?" Isabel asks, but the question comes out as a sigh.
"No sign of our friends in black. A roof over our heads that isn't attached to a motel. We're all healthy, colds excepted," Liz replies. She leans over and scoops the yarn off the floor, shaking it out to its full length. After a moment, she shoots a puzzled look in Isabel's direction.
"Sweater for Kyle," Isabel says. "I told you I'm hopeless."
Liz takes a seat beside her sister-in-law. "It's not so bad," she says, though her first guess would have been a scarf. She begins to pick out the last row of stitches.
"Where are the guys, anyway?" Maria asks.
"Michael went for more firewood and Kyle and Max are working on the trusty steed," Liz says. "New tires won't do us much good if the engine gives out."
Huddling under a number of tattered quilts, Maria sniffles again. "I hope Spaceboy hurries up. It's freezing in here."
"We've got the heat turned down," Isabel says. She watches Liz undoing an hour's work and shakes her head. "I'll put on the water for cocoa. Maria, you want tea?"
"Oh, please," she says, sighing in anticipation.
Isabel fills the kettle and turns on the gas beneath the burner. When it fails to catch, she snaps her fingers and watches the flame burst to life. She sets six mismatched mugs on the counter and carefully spoons cocoa into five of them.
"Lemon, if we have any left," Maria calls from the other side of the room.
"One with your name on it," Isabel replies, dropping the tea bag into the final cup. Returning to the shabby plaid couch, she finds Liz has tamed the yarn to somehow resemble the neck of a sweater.
"See what I did?" Liz asks, returning the work.
"I clearly didn't get the human knitting gene." Isabel flops back down next to her and resumes her struggle.
"It's a good color for him," Liz says quietly.
"It's just a sweater." Isabel glares sideways. "He deserves some sort of present. He gave up everything for us."
"He chose to come," Maria pipes up from beneath her mass of covers.
Silence falls over the room until the tea pot begins to whistle.
"Guys? Max? Hello?"
"Uh oh." Max pulls off his worn gloves and blows on his hands. "I'd better head her off. You guys okay with this?"
"We got it," Michael replies. "Go see what the little missus wants." He ducks as Max swats at him good naturedly. "Watch it. You're covered with sap."
Max glances down and waves a half-frozen palm over his coat. "Thanks."
"Where is everyone? He-llooo? We made hot chocolate," Liz calls from the front of the tiny cabin, her voice measurably closer than before.
"Go," Kyle pants. "We'll be there in a couple of minutes. Soon as we get this base on flat."
Tugging his now-clean gloves back on, Max hurries as best he can through the drifting snow. It has started to fall once again, and if the radio reports are correct, they will have another six inches by morning. This, more than anything, is the reason he has been trekking through the woods with Michael and Kyle for the past hour, despite the rapidly falling temperature. They could not risk the weather ruining their surprise.
He rounds the corner of the house and spots Liz standing by the van. Even at this distance he can see her confused expression. He knows she expected to find him with his head under the hood of their temperamental vehicle, or at the very least standing by to hand Kyle his tools. It is one of the supreme ironies of their ongoing road trip that he and Kyle have discovered a shared affinity for keeping the aging van functional.
On impulse, he squats and scoops up a handful of soft snow, packing it loosely. As Liz turns toward him, he sends the snowball flying in her direction, laughing as it catches her on the side of her face.
"Oh!" Liz cries. Her surprise fades swiftly and she is on her knees gathering snow as Max runs toward her. She barely gets a throw in, hitting him squarely in the chest just before he barrels into her, tackling her to the ground.
"Gottcha!" he declares, rolling to cushion her fall.
"Max Evans!" she squeals, collapsing on top of him. "I can't believe you! You're as bad as a five year old."
"I never got to be a five year old," he tells her, grinning up into her shining eyes. "Can't say I ever caught a snow angel, either."
"You make snow angels, not catch them," she giggles, pushing herself up with a palm on his chest.
He grabs her mittened hand to keep her from escaping. "I caught you, didn't I?" He laughs as her face, already pink from the cold, flushes an even deeper rose. "Now what was that I heard about hot chocolate?"
Liz leans in and kisses his cold lips. "You need it. You're frozen. Where are Michael and Kyle?"
He helps her sit up and then they both climb awkwardly to their feet. "They'll be along."
Liz throws him a questioning look, but says nothing. Hands linked, they trudge to the front steps where they shake off the snow like wet puppies before going inside. Max shuts the door quickly behind them to keep the warm cabin air from leaking out into the damp afternoon.
Surveying the cozy room as he peels off his scarf, Max thinks how lucky they were to get the cabin, part of a rustic lakeside resort that closes during the winter months. They convinced the caretaker to let them stay on for little more than the cost of utilities in exchange for keeping an eye on things while he visits his family for the holidays. The heating is inadequate and there is only one bathroom, but there is a back bedroom on the first floor and another two upstairs, plenty of extra bedding, and four fireplaces to help keep them warm. Plus it has the added advantage of being secluded, hardly the type of place the Feds will look for them.
"What did you two do, roll in a snow drift?"
Max smiles at his sister. "Something like that," he replies as he takes the mug she is holding out to him.
Isabel's eyes narrow as he joins them in front of the fire, taking in the swiftly melting snow that coats his hair. "It's started coming down again, hasn't it?"
"'fraid so," he admits.
Making a face, Isabel opens her mouth to reply, but whatever she is about to say is drowned out by the sound of boots thumping heavily up the steps. The front door swings open again and Michael enters, his arms filled with wood. Liz runs to shut the door behind him as he crosses the room and drops his burden heavily into the bin by the hearth.
"I've got more for upstairs," he huffs, leaning against the mantle. He frowns as he takes in the sight of Maria's face just peeking out from her mound of quilts. "Is your cold worse?"
"A… a…" She pauses, her face contorting as she stifles a sneeze. "A little," she manages finally.
"You should be in bed," he tells her.
"Warmer down here," Maria mumbles, then takes a sip of tea.
Another pair of feet can be heard stomping out front. "I told him to wait for me," Michael grumbles as he traces his path back across the room.
The door opens a crack and Kyle's head appears in the gap. "Can I get a hand out here?"
"Can you hold your horses?" Michael mocks in return. He pushes Kyle back outside, following after him. A few seconds later the door bangs all the way open and Michael reappears, his arms wrapped around the trunk of a large evergreen. He swears under his breath as he drags the tree into the small room.
"Keep going," comes a muffled order from beyond the doorway. Kyle comes through the opening next, carrying his end of the tree.
Max goes over and helps them maneuver the Christmas tree into the corner furthest from the fireplace. Together they tilt the tree into an upright position, guiding it onto the stand they have created by nailing flat narrow boards to the bottom of the trunk. By the time the tree is deemed sturdy, its top mere inches from the roughly hewn ceiling, all three men are coated with sap and snow and they are breathing deeply.
"Where did you get it?" Liz asks, eyes wide.
"Come on, Liz. You know where trees come from," Kyle taunts. "We went out into the woods and chopped it down."
Isabel walks over and touches the snowy branches gingerly. "It's beautiful," she whispers.
Startled by her soft tone, Max looks at Michael, eyebrows raised. Apparently, the Christmas Nazi has retired.
"Do we have any popcorn for garland?" Maria asks.
"I think so," Liz says.
"We uh, picked up some stuff in town," Michael admits. "Nothing fancy. Candy canes and a star for the top. A few odds and ends that were on sale."
Kyle heads back out for the ornaments and Michael goes with him to retrieve the rest of the firewood. Max rummages through the kitchen area and returns with a dish towel to mop up the puddle that is developing beneath the tree.
Michael cooks chili for dinner and they eat it in front of the fire with warm bread and hunks of cheddar cheese and Tabasco for those who feel the need for an extra kick. If it seems a strange meal to eat on Christmas Eve, no one comments. The scent of evergreen has filled the air over the past twenty-four hours and now the cabin smells like Christmas and peppers, the combination making Liz homesick for Roswell. She imagines they all feel much the same way.
Maria and Isabel string popcorn into endlessly long strands while Max and Liz take care of the dishes. Liz smiles when Max insists on washing, whispering in her ear that he's protecting her from dishpan hands. His breath is warm on her skin and sends a tiny shiver down her spine. Kyle has built up the fire and he and Michael toast marshmallows for s'mores.
They spend the evening decorating the tree with simple ornaments, and licking melted chocolate from their fingers. It is still early when Michael scoops Maria up in his arms and declares she needs her sleep if she is going to shake her cold. No one comments, other than to say good-night and merry Christmas, but Liz catches the way Michael nuzzles Maria's neck as he carries her up the stairs to their room.
"He's got the cure for what ails her," Kyle comments, catching the exchange as well, then grunts when Isabel smacks his arm. "What?"
"You're such a guy," she declares. "I think I'll call it a night too," she adds, and disappears into the back room.
"Hold up," Kyle calls. "You're not leaving me out here with the newlyweds." Shooting a grin at Max and Liz, he takes off after Isabel.
"Guess it's just you and me," Liz murmurs, her head on Max's shoulder.
"Looks like." He runs his palm over the shining length of her hair, watching the way the firelight dances over it, making it glimmer.
"I love it here," she whispers. "Just like this. All of us tucked away from the world."
"Me too," he agrees. "It feels safe. It's been awhile since we've had that," he adds wistfully.
They sit quietly, cuddled together, listening as the fire crackles and sputters. The light from under the back bedroom door goes out and upstairs everything is completely silent.
"Isabel's missing Jesse," Liz says after a while.
"I know. And our parents. We're all feeling it, but I think it's hitting her the hardest. That's why Michael, Kyle and I figured we should get the tree. This time of year has always been a big deal for Iz."
Liz looks at the glittering star shining down on them from across the room. "It's a wonderful tree." But then she turns back to him. "Do you miss your parents?" she asks softly.
Max appears startled by her question. "I… of course. Don't you?"
"Yes. But you're right. It is different for the rest of us. I can't begin to understand how Isabel feels. After all, I didn't leave my husband behind," she whispers. She watches his eyes as she utters the words, fascinated by the way they spark in automatic reaction. She knows it affects him every single time she calls him her husband - that it soothes his soul in some mysterious yet necessary way to be reminded of their now-permanent connection.
"No," he replies huskily. "You didn't."
"Let's go to bed," Liz murmurs.
Max creeps silently through the dark living room and back up the stairs, careful to avoid the squeaky fifth step. Not that he anticipates waking anyone; he appears to be the last one to stash his offerings under the tree.
At first they all agreed to forgo presents, given the state of their collective finances. But the thought of spending their first Christmas away from Roswell in such a sterile manner eventually got the best of them, and they decided to have a modest holiday after all - keeping to homemade gifts, second-hand bargains, and things that could be considered necessities. Max wonders how strictly everyone has adhered to the rules. He knows Michael at least has made one major exception.
The soft glow of the fireplace greets him as he slips quietly through the door to the room he shares with Liz. They are careful to bank down the fires at night, but the warm embers go a long way toward helping to heat the drafty cabin. He is startled to find Liz sitting on the hearth rug, her long hair falling around her like a shawl. As he closes the door behind him with a soft click, she turns her head and he feels his breath catch somewhere in his throat. The slight movement has caused her hair to shift, revealing a broad expanse of silky skin.
"All done playing Santa?" she asks in a low voice.
"If I'm Santa, does that make you Mrs. Claus?" he teases, closing the distance between them with a few short strides.
"Of course." She reaches up a hand to him and he takes it, sitting down beside her.
"So then, Mrs. Claus," he whispers, tracing the length of one bare calf with his free hand, "what are you doing out of bed at this wee hour of the morning?" He leans in and brushes his lips over hers.
"Waiting for you to feed the reindeer and put the sleigh away," she murmurs against his lips.
Max runs his hand back up her leg, this time moving past her knee and over the smooth skin of her thigh. He watches her reactions closely, and even in the scant light from the fire, he can see the color in her cheeks deepen. Despite the frigid night and her lack of clothing, she feels warm beneath his questing touch.
"Should I build up the fire?" he asks, pushing aside the curtain of her hair so it hangs down her back, revealing her more fully.
"I thought you already were," she replies, her eyes glowing with desire. "But you're definitely overdressed."
Max slips out of the sweatpants he tugged on earlier for his trip downstairs and tosses them aside. "Better?"
"Mmm," Liz murmurs, too busy kissing her way along his jaw to answer properly.
He strokes his hands up and down her back, then traces around her ribcage and up to support the lower curve of her breasts. Liz shivers as he angles his palms, his fingers teasing upward over the soft globes yet just missing her nipples. Max smiles as she tries to move lower in an attempt to guide his touch.
"Not so fast," he whispers, dropping his hands down to her waist.
"Tease," she pouts, continuing to kiss him, concentrating on his mouth now. She nips lightly at his lips, then soothes them with her tongue, keeping contact minimal. Her hands play over his chest, her fingers tracing a line down to his navel.
Max sinks his fingers into her hair and slips his tongue between her lips, sweeping it through her warm mouth. Rocking backward, he lies down on the small rug and pulls her on top of him, never breaking the kiss. He moans at the feel of her breasts cushioned against his chest, her warm center cradling his arousal. Her legs have fallen open to accommodate him, her inner thighs pressed against his hips.
This is home for him, lying with her, skin to skin. Since the first night of their marriage, they have slept in the nude, their need to touch each other overpowering. He runs his hand down the length of her spine to the swell of her rear and pulls her as close as he can stand, knowing it will never be close enough until they're joined again.
Liz arches into him, lifting up as she presses her hips more firmly against his. Max takes advantage of her position and sucks one pink breast into his mouth, loving the way she groans in response. She cups his head, encouraging him to continue in his attentions.
Heat builds between them that rivals any fire. Max clutches Liz's hips as she rocks against his lower body, tension making their movements uneven. Finally she lifts up and he helps her guide his hard length into position. Then she takes him deep within her body, coming down fast and hard until their hips meet, and Max lets out a low growl.
Liz moves at a rapid pace, her hair streaming down her back, her eyes shining with need and the reflection of the glowing embers in the fireplace. Max encourages her movements, his hands running up and down her sides, stroking over her hips and waist and up under the soft flesh of her arms. He reaches out with his thumbs and circles her tight puckered nipples before stroking back down to her hips.
When her movements begin to slow, becoming longer, deeper, Max pulls Liz down so that she sprawls over him, and plants his feet on the floor, lifting up into her so he meets each arch of her hips.
"Oh, God Max," she moans, her face buried against his neck. Her breath comes in hot pants and he can tell how close she is.
Reaching down, he glides his hand over her hip and down between her legs, gently stroking her tender skin until he finds the small bundle of nerves just above where they are joined. With his other hand he presses down on her lower back at the same time that he thrusts upward, capturing his fingers between their bodies. The sharp motion sends her abruptly into the throes of her climax and she cries out, muffling the sound against his shoulder.
The feeling of her warm, tight muscles spasming around him send Max over the edge as well. He grits his teeth to keep from waking the entire house as he continues to pulse into his wife's welcoming body.
When they have finally come back down to earth, Liz drops tender kisses across his chest, each one soft and deliberate, inching up until she has to wiggle slight higher in order to reach his mouth. Her movements are more childlike than seductive and Max laughs quietly as her skin shimmies against him.
They kiss for a long time before he rolls over and lifts her into his arms. He carries her back to bed and pulls the covers up to their ears.
"Merry Christmas, Mrs. Evans," he murmurs as they settle cozily for whatever remains of the night.
"Merry Christmas, Mr. Evans," she replies, sounding sleepy and content. She tucks her head under Max's chin and closes her eyes. He feels her eyelashes brush over his chest, and he smiles.
They wake to Maria singing Oh Come All Ye Faithful. Everyone gathers around the tree wearing sweats and thick socks, and with their hair going every which way, but they are all smiling. Gifts lie in clusters beneath the evergreen boughs, wrapped in a rag-tag assortment of newsprint and brown paper and shopping bags with ribbons.
Isabel's expression is guarded as Kyle opens his sweater, but her eyes grow damp when he pulls it over his head without a moment's hesitation and seems not to notice that the sleeves are too long.
"It's perfect," he says.
"I… I wanted to do a snowflake pattern, but I'm not good enough yet," she confesses in an unsure voice.
Kyle does a double take. "You made this?" When she nods, he wraps an arm around her and pulls her into an awkward hug. "Thanks," he says, and now his is the voice that holds all the emotion.
Most of the presents are cause for laughter and teasing, many of them falling under the preset guidelines for keeping expenses low. There are scarves and new gloves, chocolate bars with and without nuts, bottles of Tabasco, pancake mix and syrup, long underwear for anyone who has complained of being cold. Michael receives a new sketch pad and pencils; Isabel gets ear muffs; Liz is given scented cream; Max opens Michael's gift to discover a used Monopoly game, and becomes utterly hysterical. Liz pounds him on the back, while Isabel recounts the story of game night at the Evans house.
When all the gifts have been opened, Michael disappears upstairs. Liz watches Maria as her eyes follow her boyfriend's progress across the room. She knows from Max that Michael has been plotting for weeks, and that whatever he is giving her friend, he felt it necessary to clear the expense ahead of time.
"Maria," Michael calls from the landing. "Close your eyes."
"Why?" she demands, her voice laced with suspicion.
"Just do it, all right? I couldn't wrap this."
Liz nods when Maria glances at her, offering a smile of encouragement. Michael has come far from the boy who once thought a bumper a suitable gift.
Maria shuts her eyes, and Liz thinks she might be holding her breath as well. Michael comes down the remainder of the stairs, something large and awkward held behind his back. Liz watches as everyone smiles. Isabel, in particular, looks incredibly proud of Michael's efforts. Definitely not a bumper.
Placing the object on Maria's lap, Michael guides her hands around it. The expression on her face is transformed immediately and she opens her eyes with a squeal.
"Michael! You shouldn't have," she declares, but her eyes are shining in direct contradiction to her statement as she lovingly strokes the guitar.
"It's second hand," Michael says quietly. "But it sounds pretty good. I got you extra strings, too," he adds, pulling the package out of his pocket and setting it on the table.
Maria lightly strums the instrument, playing a few chords, testing out her gift. Then, silencing the strings, she looks up. "It's perfect," she whispers. "But… it's not practical. I mean, I love it, but it can't have been cheap, even used." She glances apprehensively toward Max, who merely shrugs and shoots her a smile.
"I look at it as a gift for everyone," Max says. "You are planning on playing for us, aren't you?"
Tears flood Maria's eyes. She sets the guitar aside and launches herself into Michael's arms. "Thank you," she says, hugging him tight.
"Merry Christmas," he tells her.
Isabel and Michael make pancakes for everyone while Maria plays an endless stream of Christmas carols. Everyone joins in with the singing.
|posted on 25-Jun-2002 12:18:20 AM by EmilyluvsRoswell|
|Hi everyone! Thanks for the amazing feedback. You just blow me away!|
A few answers to questions:
Razz, yes, Isabel and Kyle have been sharing quarters, but purely platonically. They can't afford separate rooms and no one really expects Max and Liz or Michael and Maria to split up...
For those of you anxious for Liz and Max to procreate, sorry. No babies in this story. Would you really wish that on them under their current circumstances? Six people traveling in a van is bad enough without a newborn thrown into the mix. And let's not forget the danger factor.
Tim, I had you teary-eyed? Oh my God! I take that as a supreme complement. Hopefully this will be a tear-free part, but I make no promises. LOL!
Alrighty... on with the show.
The room is perfectly dark when Liz wakes, the heavy curtains keeping out every ray of light. Recalling that Max planned to get up early and work on the van, she nevertheless stretches an arm out over his side of the bed, encountering the anticipated emptiness. The sheet is cool and she realizes he must have been up for quite a while already.
Liz rises and stretches, then ambles into the tiny motel bathroom. She showers quickly and dresses in faded jeans and a warm sweater before she begins to pack up her belongings. Though the calendar claims it is April, they have discovered that spring is slow to arrive on the coast of Maine.
She is nearly ready to go when the door opens and Max appears. His hair is rumpled as if he just climbed out of bed and there are smudges of grease on his jeans and sweatshirt. For an instant Liz thinks he looks concerned about something, but his expression brightens considerably when he sees her.
"I'm glad you're up," he says, crossing the room. He leans in to kiss her, carefully keeping his dirty clothes and blackened hands from touching her. "Isabel scrounged up breakfast. I just came in to see if you were awake, and to wash up."
"Mmm," Liz murmurs. "Is coffee part of this deal?"
"Of course," he laughs, heading into the bathroom. Liz hears the water running and a moment later Max emerges, hands and face clean and his hair slightly damp around the edges.
"I'm sold. Is she setting up in Michael and Maria's room?"
"No, outside," he replies. "It's actually pretty nice this morning, so Iz thought it would be fun to eat over at the picnic tables by the office."
Liz grabs the room key and they start over to meet the others. "So, how's the van?" she asks as they walk across the parking area.
Max shakes his head. "Giving us trouble, honestly. I'm not sure how much longer we're going to be able to keep it going."
He shrugs, not looking particularly worried. "We'll manage. Just do me a favor and don't bring it up to Kyle. He's not quite as philosophical about the whole thing as I am," he sighs.
"Okay," she agrees.
They join Isabel, Michael, and Maria at the picnic area. Isabel has torn open a large paper bags of assorted Danish and there is a take out container of fresh fruit and a carton of orange juice. Paper plates and cups sit stacked neatly to one side of the table, along with a Styrofoam carrier holding a number of cups of coffee.
"'morning, guys. Looks good, Isabel," Liz comments as she slides onto the bench and helps herself to a coffee.
"The Danish might be a little stale," Isabel admits. "I got a discount on it because it was yesterday's," she says. "But I zapped it a little so it should be okay."
"Taste fine to me," Michael says as he sets down the remaining half of a sweet roll.
"Big surprise there," Maria says. "But seriously, Iz, everything's fine."
Max hovers next to the table, throwing glances back toward the lot where their van is parked.
"Is Kyle still working?" Liz asks.
"Yeah. I told him we were eating, but he wasn't too receptive."
"I'll get him," Isabel declares, rising and dusting off her hands. "The van'll be there after breakfast."
She is climbing over the bench when a loud crash sounds in the parking lot, attracting everyone's attention. A wrench flies out from the front of the van and a sputtering noise fills the air. As they watch in shock, green electricity crackles over the vehicle.
"Kyle!" Isabel screams.
Max is halfway across the parking lot before the others even react. Liz chases after him, but Isabel passes her quickly, her longer legs giving her the advantage. By the time the two of them catch up, Max has Kyle out from under the hood. Smoke still pours from the front of the van, and Max's hand hovers over the engine, extinguishing the remnants of a fire.
Kyle sits on the ground, staring at the van. "Not even Buddha could get that thing running," he declares shakily. "Call it, Evans. It's deader than dead."
"Kyle, what happened?" Isabel asks, her tone panicked.
"Thing is a bucket of bolts," he mutters in reply.
"We saw some kind of weird electrical thing. Did something short circuit?" she presses, kneeling next to him.
Kyle snorts. "You could say that." He looks up at Liz, one eyebrow raised.
Liz smiles wryly. "Welcome to the club."
"How do you feel?" Max asks, turning away from the charred remains of the engine.
"Like a freak show," Kyle states. "But I guess I'll adjust. Not like I didn't know it was coming."
"You mean…" Isabel glances at her brother. "His powers are manifesting," she says quietly.
"Looks like," Max says. He offers Kyle a hand up. "Maybe you better leave the mechanical stuff to me for a while."
Kyle grunts as Max pulls him to his feet. "Great. Any other words of wisdom?"
"Not really. How about breakfast instead?" Max suggests.
"Yeah, maybe in a while. I think I need to take a walk." Kyle nods to them, then heads off on the path that runs behind the motel and out toward the water.
Isabel hesitates a moment, watching him walk away.
"Go after him," Liz tells her.
"You think? He seems like he wants to be alone."
"Go ahead, Iz," Max says.
Michael and Maria have been hanging back, taking everything in, but they come forward as Isabel takes off after Kyle.
"So, it's started, huh?" Michael says.
"Yeah," Max says. He takes Liz's hand and rubs his thumb over the back. "He seems to be taking it okay, considering."
Maria pouts. "I guess that makes me the only human."
"Kyle and I are human," Liz tells her. "Just… different."
"My point exactly," Maria replies.
Michael wraps an arm around her shoulders. "Don't worry. You're different enough all on your own," he assures her.
Max slams the hood of the van shut and goes into the motel room to wash up again. He trades his soiled sweatshirt for a clean sweater and waves his hands over the dark smudges along the front of his jeans. Satisfied that he looks less like a grease monkey, he heads outside and follows the path down to the ocean in search of the others.
The wind has kicked up and the long grasses and shrubbery that border the path sway violently back and forth. When he reaches the top of the embankment it is like getting smacked in the face, brisk gusts of air rushing at him off the water below. From the bluff he can see Michael and Maria down on the sand, dodging the waves as they lap at their feet. Kyle is just visible further down the shore, seated on a rock with Isabel at his side. He appears to be throwing stones into the ocean.
It is not until he starts to follow the path's downward slope to the beach that Max sees Liz. She stands in a hollow in the rocks, well back from the water, her hair dancing crazily on the wind, eyes fixed on the horizon. He comes up behind her and grabs her around the waist, swinging her in a circle so her arms and legs fly out in front of her and she laughs breathlessly. Setting her on her feet, he spins her around to face him and kisses her hard. Her lips are cold and taste of salt, as if the ocean has kissed her first.
Pressing his forehead against hers, he looks into her dark brown eyes. The wind continues to whip her hair all around them. "What are you thinking about?" he asks.
She sighs deeply, snuggling closer, her arms wrapping around his waist. "I'm going to be sorry to leave here. I love being on the water this way. If I had my way we'd stay forever."
"Right here on this cliff?"
"Why not? We could build a little cabin on the bluff, overlooking the Atlantic," she says dreamily.
"Come winter you might wish you'd opted for the Pacific instead."
"I've decided I like the cold and the snow," she declares. She drops teasing kisses along his jaw, working her way up toward his ear, standing on her toes so she can reach.
"One day," he whispers.
Liz pulls back and stares up at him. "No promises," she says, pressing a finger to his lips. "I don't need them. Whatever happens, happens."
"No promises," he agrees, nipping lightly at her finger tip. "Just wishes."
She nods, a smile playing at the corners of her mouth. "We better get the others. It must be near check out time."
"You go on," he tells her. "I'll start packing the van."
"I take it we're up and running again?"
"For now," he says. He kisses her once more before heading back up toward the motel.
They sit at two tables pulled together in the tiny roadside café, nursing their coffee and picking at the remains of their lunch as they examine the road atlas. The New Hampshire border is only ten miles away and they must decide what direction to take once they leave Maine.
"We need to get work soon," Max states in a low voice. "That means a town big enough to settle in for a bit, preferably a city so there are plenty of unskilled jobs available."
Liz traces the major highway south, her finger coming to a stop on the eastern coast of Massachusetts. She senses everyone's discomfort before she looks up. The nearest major city is Boston - where Jesse is.
"It's not safe," Michael states firmly, and Liz sees Isabel flinch.
"He's right," Max agrees, his tone gentle. "It would be easy to disappear in a city of that size, but we still can't risk it. Same goes for New York."
"Why not New York?" Maria pipes up.
"Two words. Rath and Lonnie," Michael says gruffly. "We haven't a clue what happened to them, and I for one am fine with keeping it that way."
Liz meets Max's gaze, understanding his other reason for avoiding New York. The lawyer who arranged for baby Zan's adoption was located in Manhattan and the temptation to contact him - to check in on his son - might prove too strong. She reaches for his hand under the table, lacing their fingers together.
"You guys decide," Isabel says, pushing her chair back. "I'm going to the ladies' room."
Kyle watches her go, then turns back to the group. "Cost of living is high enough in this part of the country without putting up with city prices. I think we need to scale down. What about a college town? Classes must be over pretty soon and we can get a jump on the summer jobs."
Giving Max's hand a quick squeeze, Liz slips from her chair and heads for the back of the restaurant. The door to the ladies' room has a dress sketched on it in pink chalk, and the lounge beyond looks as if a bottle of Pepto-Bismol has exploded over the walls and floor. Everything is very pink and very bright and Liz blinks, hoping that she can convince Isabel to go outside to talk.
"Iz?" she calls, walking slowly down the row of stalls. She spots Isabel's boots under the last door and leans against the wall in front of her, closing her eyes against the nauseating effects of the décor. "You okay?"
"Did you all decide where we're going?" Isabel asks, and Liz can tell from her tone that she has been crying.
"Not yet. But we decided major cities would be too expensive, so that does narrow things down." Liz sighs. "Talk to me," she coaxes gently.
The door swings open with an abrupt squeak and Isabel emerges, making a beeline for the pink ceramic basin on the opposite wall. She runs the cold water and begins splashing her face.
"We all know you miss Jesse," Liz says softly. "It's only natural."
Isabel grabs a paper towel and blots her face, carefully dabbing at her smudged eyeliner. "That's not it. Or at least, not all of it."
Isabel nods, her dark eyes holding Liz's in the mirror. "Am I an awful person? I mean, I love Jesse and he's still my husband, but…" She closes her eyes and shakes her head slowly. "Sometimes I think I'm too needy. That I'm not strong enough to stand on my own," she whispers.
"Isabel, no," Liz tells her, crossing to stand beside her. "Of course you're strong. God, you forced Jesse to let go - gave him a chance at a normal life - even though you loved him and wanted to be with him! I don't think it gets much stronger than that. Look at me and Max. For all the times we've tried to let go, we never could."
"Yeah, well, you guys are different," Isabel replies with a sigh. "I just… I miss him so much. I do, Liz. But sometimes it seems like something I dreamed," she confesses. "We were together less than a year. We've been gone nearly that long already. And it's so hard. Max has you and Michael has Maria and then Kyle and I… we just kind of get thrown together by default. But that's not it. That's not why I…"
"You care about him," Liz says softly. "I know."
"It's too soon. My mother told me that about Jesse. That it was too soon after… Alex." Isabel's eyes drop to the damp paper towel she has been unconsciously shredding into the sink. She scoops up the strips and tosses them into the trash. "I don't want to hurt anyone else," she says suddenly - fiercely.
"There's no clock or calendar to follow. Just follow your heart, Isabel."
Isabel stares at Liz for a long moment before she nods. Then she blinks and looks around abruptly, as if just noticing their surroundings. "God, let's get out of here," she says, looking appalled. "What a hideous color!"
Struggling not to laugh her sister-in-law's expression, Liz turns and leads the way back to the table.
Max shuts off the shower and steps out into the steamy bathroom. He towels off quickly, then turns out the light and crosses the dark bedroom to the futon where Liz is already asleep. He suppresses a groan as he eases his tired body down next to her and pulls the sheet up over them, glad that construction work pays well enough that he won't be forced to do it for long. Driving around the country for nearly a year has done little to keep him in shape and, while his body may look more or less the same, it has been quick to let him know he is far from his peak physical condition.
Liz shifts toward him on the lumpy mattress, whimpering slightly in her sleep. He imagines she is feeling the same stiffness that he is after a day on her feet waiting tables. Easing back the sheet a bit, he runs a hand over the arm nearest him in an attempt to relax her muscles. Her eyes flutter open and she smiles sleepily.
"Sorry," he whispers. "Go back to sleep."
"Hmmm," she murmurs, nuzzling his shoulder. "And if I don't want to?"
"I didn't mean… I figured your muscles were aching from work and I was just trying to make you more comfortable," he insists, kissing her gently on the forehead. "You must be exhausted."
"I'm okay. A little stiff," she admits. "You have no idea how embarrassing that is, either, considering I've been waitressing practically since birth."
"I promise not to tell," he assures her, rolling onto his side so he's facing her. He reaches out and gently strokes her hair off her face. "It's getting so long," he comments with a smile, tracing it all the way down to her waist.
"I was thinking of cutting it," she says.
Liz laughs. "Not a lot," she tells him, and he feels his heart rate slow again. "I know you have a fetish."
"Do not," he pouts. "Well, maybe a little one," he admits when her eyebrow arches questioningly.
"Just a trim," she promises as he starts at her scalp again and runs his hand through her silky tresses.
"Okay," he whispers, already distracted by the feel of her hair under his palm and between his fingers. It is one of the most sensual things he can imagine - so soft and sweet smelling.
After a while, Liz reaches out and pulls him to her. Their lips meet and the kiss deepens immediately, hot and urgent. Max thrusts his tongue into the warm recesses of her mouth and she groans.
"Shhh," Max warns. "Thin walls."
"If we have to listen to Michael and Maria bickering, they can listen to this," Liz replies throatily. "They'll probably return the favor tomorrow anyway, after they make up."
Laughing, Max sweeps the covers the rest of the way off the bed. "In that case, I dare you not to scream," he says, his voice a low purr.
"Max," Liz says apprehensively, clutching for the now-absent sheet. "Max… what are you going to do?"
He wiggles his eyebrows suggestively. "Wait and see, Mrs. Evans." Pressing her shoulder, he rolls her onto her back and pins her wrists above her head with one hand.
"Shit," she mutters, dropping her head back onto the pillow, but not before Max catches the heightened color in her cheeks and the way her eyes glow with desire.
"If I let go, will you leave your hands up here?" he asks.
Liz holds his gaze and he watches her eyes darken even more. She nods.
Smiling, he lowers his head and kisses her very gently, barely brushing his lips over hers. Then he traces her mouth with the tip of his tongue, outlining the fullness, licking delicately at the corners until she opens to him, and then pulling back. Ignoring her frustrated moan, he begins nipping and kissing his way over her chin and down the column of her neck, careful to keep his body from touching her in any other place. Only his lips and tongue move over her skin as he traces her smooth contours. He laves the small bones that lead to her collar bone before kissing the hollow at the base of her throat. He worships her with his mouth, not letting up his assault, placing long, wet open-mouthed kisses over her shoulders and across her chest, well above the swell of her breasts.
"Max," Liz moans. "Max, please…"
"Shhh. I'm busy," he replies, barely lifting his mouth from her. Using one finger, he draws an imaginary line from her throat down over her breast bone and down around the lower curve of one breast. He circles the soft globe, skimming lightly, up and over and then down around the other one. His touch is teasing, as gentle as a feather. He can see her nipples hardening though he yet to come near them.
Concentrating on her right breast, Max traces around and around, each circle growing smaller, drawing closer to the hard nub at the center. Liz squirms beneath his touch, but he ignores her pleas. He switches to her left breast and repeats his actions, avoiding this nipple as well.
"Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?" he asks softly.
"Max, touch me," she begs.
"I am," he replies, amused.
"You know what I mean," Liz virtually growls. Her hands clench above his head, as if she is tempted to move - to grab him and force him to do what she wants.
Max's eyes flick upward. "Keep your hands up there," he warns.
"I'm trying," she gasps, as he suddenly tweaks one nipple between his thumb and forefinger. "Oh, God…"
Max holds her nipple and tugs, then twists it gently, feeling it tighten even more between his fingers. Liz's gasp grows louder and higher pitched. He releases her only to swoop down and capture the other nipple between his teeth, biting down lightly and then closing his lips over the dark pink point, sucking it and flicking it with his tongue.
He is aware of Liz's responses even as he feels his own desire escalating. Her hips shift restlessly and her thighs drift open. He can smell her arousal filling the air and he knows if he reaches down he will find her already wet for him. But this is about something else - anticipation, and making the pleasure last.
Lifting his head, Max stares up at Liz's face. Her cheeks are flushed and her the hair around her face is matted. A light sheen of sweat covers her skin. As if sensing him staring at her, she opens her eyes, but her gaze is cloudy with desire. Her mind is only half there; her body has taken over.
He trails the tip of his tongue down the center of her stomach, dipping into her navel and swirling around in tiny circles, feeling the way her muscles tighten beneath his attentions. Shifting directions, his mouth drifts sideways over her hip. He tongues her hip bone, nipping at it with his teeth, then kisses his way down the outside of her thigh. He holds her legs still as he continues southward, nibbling around the back of her knees and down over her calves, then back up the inner line of her leg, kissing and sucking the tender skin.
He shifts his grip, taking hold of her hips. His hands are the only thing keeping her still as she writhes beneath him. "Max," she groans, "please… stop… Don't tease…"
Lying between her thighs, Max gazes up at Liz. Her eyes are closed, her head tossing back and forth. Her arms have fallen open to the sides, her fingers clutching at the bottom sheet which has come loose. He can feel her hips bucking against his hands - her need driving her. It is almost enough to put him over the edge right then and there - she is so beautiful and open and trusting in her desire.
"Liz," he whispers. "Open your eyes, Liz." When she does as he asks, her gaze unfocused, he smiles encouragingly. "Watch," he says, barely audible, the word a mere breath. Then he leans over and runs his tongue over her lower lips, tracing upwards until he hovers above her bundle of nerves. In one swift motion, he plunges his tongue down and flicks her clit, causing her to scream his name. He works the tiny nub with his tongue, circling it again and again. Releasing one of her legs, he parts her folds with his hand and sheathes two fingers in her hot, wet center. Thrusting his fingers in and out, feeling her muscles clenching tightly, he continues to use his mouth on her, sucking and licking hard.
"Max," she moans. "Max, Max, Maaaxxxxx… Oh God, yesssss…" Her hips buck in rhythm to his fingers and he can feel the pressure building within her. He adds a third finger to the two already buried within her and, pumping hard, he nips at her clit with his teeth.
"OHHHHHHH," she screams, her orgasm bursting over her. Max continues driving his fingers into her, lapping up her juices as they leak out onto his hand. His tongue traces her folds and up over her swollen nub as he gradually slows the thrust of his fingers, and even after he gently pulls his hand away he continues to kiss and lick and nip at her delicate skin. He trails his damp fingers up over her stomach, drawing tiny spirals up toward her breasts.
Liz gasps as he begins teasing her nipples, pinching and tugging as he slowly kisses his way back up over her stomach and between her breasts. Heedless of her earlier promise, she sinks her hands into his hair and drags him upward until their mouths meet in a heated kiss, tongues thrusting and teeth clashing. She runs her hands down the length of his back to his ass, lifting her hips against him and grinding her sopping core against his pulsing cock.
"Liz, don't," he groans, sucking in a deep breath and fighting to hold on.
"I need you inside of me," she demands, pressing up against him once more.
Max presses his forehead against hers and closes his eyes, grasping for the last vestiges of his self-control. And then Liz's fingers flex and her hips lift again and he goes down like a drowning man. Growling, he sinks into her to the hilt, pounding into her warm depths. One hand steadying her hip, he pumps into her over and over, his eyes holding hers, feeling their very souls connecting. He manages to hold on just long enough to feel the slight flutter of Liz's inner muscles that signals the start of another climax, and then he lets go, continuing to thrust into her as he spills deep within her core, her tight sheath clenching around him in rapid spasms.
He collapses over her, keeping the worst of his weight on his elbows, his head resting between her breasts. They sound as if they have run a marathon - their breathing fast and shallow.
"I guess… you win," Liz pants after a few minutes.
Max lifts up and rolls to the side, taking her with him. He strokes a hand down her sweaty back. "Why?" he asks, confused.
"I screamed," she laughs.
"Yes, you definitely did," he agrees, a grin spreading across his face. "But I think maybe we both won."
Liz presses a kiss to his chest. "Mmmm… yeah. I think you're right." She yawns.
"Sleepy?" he asks gently.
"Uh huh. But I need a shower," she says, her little nose wrinkling, even as her eyes drift shut.
"In the morning," Max says, running his hand over the length of her body, and then his own, evaporating all signs of their love making. "Go to sleep," he whispers, pulling her a little closer.
"Okay," she murmurs in agreement.
Max reaches down and pulls up the sheet, making sure to cover both of them. Kissing Liz gently on the forehead, he snuggles against her and closes his eyes.
|posted on 18-Jul-2002 12:21:26 AM by EmilyluvsRoswell|
|Hi guys. While I appreciate the bumps, I have to say that I write when I have the time. If I'm not here, it's because my job or some other aspect of my life has taken over. This is also not the only story I'm working on. So please understand that leaving impatient notes isn't going to magically clear my schedule. I do the best I can. Thanks for reading, and I hope this was worth the wait.|
So, without further ado, here's part four. There will be a short epilogue after this, so we're not quite done yet.
"Please explain to me again why we're doing this?" Michael complains.
Max ignores his best friend's question as he examines the earrings in the display case. They're beautiful - would look perfect dangling against Liz's dark hair - but they cost the earth. Refusing to get discouraged, he moves further along the aisle, knowing that Michael will follow despite his whining.
"What?" He eyes a pearl bracelet, then shakes his head.
"I get that you wanna find Liz an anniversary present, but why bring me? Isabel lives for this shit. I'm sure she would have helped you."
Max sighs. "Isabel spent her first anniversary in Idaho, thousands of miles away from her husband. Forgive me if I thought it would be insensitive of me to ask her to come shopping."
"Besides, I wasn't looking for help," Max adds. "Just company." He straightens and glances around the jewelry store. "Let's get out of this place. I'm in major danger of blowing my budget."
"You don't have to tell me twice," Michael mutters, though he is slow to follow Max out of the shop.
They wander aimlessly through the mall for a few minutes, Max stopping periodically to study a window display. Finally he drags Michael into a stationery store.
"I don't know, Maxwell. My guess is that Liz expects more than a card," Michael comments.
"First anniversary is paper," Max says, heading down the center aisle.
"Paper, Michael," Max repeats with a grin. "Each wedding anniversary stands for something. You know, silver, gold. First one's paper."
Michael's eyebrows creep upward, disappearing behind his overly long bangs. "If you say so. Sounds kinda dumb if you ask me."
Max chuckles under his breath. "Trust me on this one."
"Whatever." Michael picks up a stuffed blue bird and gives it a light squeeze, then drops it abruptly when the toy starts to chirp. "Freaky."
Turning, he finds himself facing a glass case filled with wedding novelties-a white china bride and groom, a cake cutter with a cut-crystal handle, two white doves connected with a silver silk ribbon, assorted picture frames with smiling couples in wedding garb. He glances nervously to the side, then moves to catch up with Max.
"There you are," Max says as Michael comes around the corner. "I'm not finding anything."
"Isn't there another aisle still?"
"Yeah. Let's check it out and then go get something to drink, okay?"
Max frowns at him. "Something wrong?" He pauses. "You're not… sensing anything, are you?" he asks quietly. It has been Michael's hunches as much as Liz's visions that have kept them ahead of the Feds all of these months.
"Nah, nothing like that," Michael assures him. "Look, I'll meet you out front. This place makes me claustrophobic. Too much stuff to break," he mumbles, already heading for the door.
Max takes longer to meet Michael than he expects. The last aisle of the store holds the perfect gift for Liz, and by the time he pays and waits for it to be wrapped, more than ten minutes have passed.
"Sorry," Max says when he locates Michael leaning against the window of the shop across the way. He holds up his bag. "Success."
"Finally. Let's find the food court," Michael says.
There's a vacant table near a concrete planter and when they sit the branches of the tree hang over their heads, as if they are at some sort of tropical resort. They drink their sodas in silence until Max finally sets his paper cup to one side and stares Michael down.
"What is it?" he demands. "Michael, you're really unnerving me here."
"Sorry," Michael says, all of his attention devoted to knotting the top of his straw.
"So? Are you going to tell me? If this is about going shopping, you know you could have just told me you didn't want to come."
"That's not it." Michael sighs and glances up. "How did you propose to Liz?"
"How did I… ?" Max stutters.
"I know the story about the diamond and all that up on her roof - Maria repeats it often enough - but what did you say? How did you know how to ask her?"
Max stares at him for a long moment. "I guess… I said what was in my heart. I…" He sighs. "I couldn't even believe she was still talking to me after everything that happened. Everything I put her through. I told her how much she meant to me. How much it meant to me that she could still love me despite… everything. In spite of me."
"So. You're going to ask Maria," Max says slowly, a smile curving his lips.
Michael's answering smile is a little crooked. "Maybe."
Max grins. "It's about time."
"It's no fair that you and I get stuck with this," Maria whines. "How come Iz and Kyle get out of research duty?"
"Shhh," Liz admonishes her. "Just because we're in the computer room, doesn't mean it's not a library. Keep your voice down."
"Sorry," Maria mumbles.
"And to answer your question, because Isabel's helping Kyle master his powers. For whatever reason he's having more trouble than I did."
"I think it makes sense. Your gifts are mental, but you still had physical side effects. Kyle does physical stuff, so it stands to reason his side effects are more… well, violent," Maria whispers.
"True," Liz agrees. "I just wish he could manage to stop blowing things up. It's worse than Michael before he calmed down."
"I wouldn't say that. You missed some of Michael's really big explosions the summer you were in Florida."
Liz leans forward to read some small print on the computer screen in front of her, then turns, wrinkling her nose. "I thought he wasn't talking to you that summer?"
"He wasn't, but Max was," Maria says with a shrug. She peers at the screen. "Liz, what is that? We're supposed to be figuring out where to go next, not shopping online. I wanna get out of here today."
"I know, but Max and my anniversary is in two weeks. I'm just looking for ideas," Liz confesses.
"Oh, well, if that's what you're doing," Maria says, perking up immediately. "What are you thinking about?"
"I haven't a clue," Liz sighs. "It's our paper anniversary," she grumbles. "What the hell is romantic about paper?"
"A really sappy card?"
"No. The gift is supposed to be paper." She shakes her head as she types a new search into the browser and waits for the results to pop up.
A wicked smile creeps across Maria's face. "We could wrap you up. Roll you in gift wrap and put a big bow around your waist. Would that count?"
Liz giggles. "I don't think so. But Max probably wouldn't care as long as he got to unwrap me."
"It's a definite possibility," Liz agrees. "But let me see if I can find something a bit more… traditional." She scans down the list of sites, then clicks on one. "Oh, my God. Maria, look."
"Oh! Liz, isn't that…?"
"Yeah. And look. Their going to be in Raleigh the night of our anniversary," she squeals. "Maria. This is perfect."
"Definitely paper," Maria says. "Plus you just solved our other problem."
Liz turns to look at her best friend. "How do you mean?"
"Well, if you're going to pull this off, we'd better be heading for North Carolina," Maria points out.
Liz smiles. "Cool." She reaches down and pulls their worn atlas from her bag. "Miss DeLuca, chart us a course, please."
Maria grins. "I'll plot, you run the motel searches."
"It's a deal," Liz declares. "Just as soon as I find the nearest ticket outlet," she amends. "No credit card, remember? I can't do this online."
"Ooo, it looks practically brand new!" Liz declares.
Max looks up as he squeezes the soap from a dirty sponge and catches Liz looking at his bare back. He cocks one eyebrow skyward. "The van or my sunburn?" he asks.
"The van," she tells him. "I've got witch hazel for that if it stings," she adds, her forehead wrinkling with concern at the sight of his tender skin.
He straightens up, dropping the sponge next to the bucket, smiling as her eyes shift automatically to his chest. "I can take care of it," he assures her. He grabs his t-shirt and uses it to wipe the sweat from his forehead. "I really need a shower," he groans. "Is Kyle done in there yet?" he calls out as his sister emerges from the tiny cabin the six of them are sharing.
Isabel flushes slightly, but nods. "He'll, um… be out in a minute," she replies, then hurries around the back of the building.
Max grins at Liz. "I guess that answers that question," he teases.
Liz rolls her eyes. "If I recall, I told you they were heading this way months ago. Leave them alone."
"I will," he says. He reaches out and grabs her around the waist. "I'm glad for them," he adds in a low tone.
"You might want to mention that to Isabel," Liz says seriously, her hands splayed on his warm, damp chest. "I think she's worried about your reaction. Well… yours and Michael's."
Max leans down and kisses her lightly. "I will. As soon as I can think of a way to do it without embarrassing us both," he adds.
Liz smiles. Her eyes flick past him to the van. "Does this mean Kyle managed to help you install the new belts without setting anything on fire?"
"Yep. Everything's up and running. Including Valenti," he smirks.
"Good. I was worried about how long it was taking."
"Don't let either of them know I told you this, but Michael ended up talking to him," Max says. "Whatever he said must have worked."
Liz's nose wrinkles. "Speaking of… where did Michael and Maria take off to? She was going to help me with the laundry. We need to get it all done today if it's going to be dry enough to pack by tomorrow night."
"Search me," Max says. "Just let me clean up and then I'll help you."
Liz's eyes narrow and she stands with her hands on her hips. "Max Evans, you know something."
"I know lots of things," he replies. "For instance, I know that if you keep standing there in those extremely short shorts, I'm going to be forced to carry you off with me," he growls. "So unless you fancy a joint shower, Mrs. Evans, I suggest you let me pass."
She pretends to consider, then steps aside, a twinkle in her eyes. "Can I persuade you to swing back my way after your shower?" she asks as he goes by.
"I said I'd come help," he replies, turning and walking backwards so he can see her.
"That's not quite what I had in mind," she replies.
Max's eyebrows rise. "I might be able to arrange something." He grins, then turns and starts up the steps.
A loud squeal cuts through the thick afternoon silence as Max reaches the front door. He pauses, hand on the knob.
"Lizzie!" Maria comes running up the path from the motel lodge. "Liz! Look!"
"Maria, what is..?" Liz begins, but her words are cut short when Maria hurls herself into her arms. "Maria?" she laughs, hugging her friend. "What? What happened?"
"Oh, Liz!" Maria squeals again, loudly enough that Liz flinches. "Michael… Michael proposed!" She pulls back, tears in her eyes. "Just look. Isn't it beautiful?" she whispers. She holds up her left hand.
Liz blinks at the small oval diamond that flashes in front of her. "Oh, Maria," she breathes, her eyes filling with tears as well. "Congratulations," she says, pulling her friend back into her arms. Over Maria's shoulder she can see Michael watching them. Max has come back down the stairs and has his hand on his friend's shoulder in silent support. Liz grins at them both. Michael bobs his head slightly before he smiles back. Max merely winks, and she understands now what he was keeping from her.
Max stands in the doorway of the kitchen and watches his sister as she does the dishes. She has shaken off all offers of help, leaving the rest of them outside drinking the coffee that marks the end of Michael and Maria's impromptu engagement dinner.
"You okay?" he asks.
Isabel shrugs and keeps scrubbing. "Go back outside, Max."
He sighs and moves to stand next to her. Grabbing a dishtowel off the counter, he starts to dry. "Does it bother you? Michael and Maria?"
She gives him a startled look. "Is that what you think? That I've got some hang up over Michael? Max, you of all people know that destiny line was total bullshit."
"That's not what I mean," he says, stretching to put away a chipped dish. The cabin came completely furnished, but each item shows the wear and tear of multiple residents. Sometimes he gets brief flashes of the previous occupants, all mixed up like an emotional collage. He does his best to block them. There's something sad about the transience of it all.
"So, what did you mean?"
"Just, you know. Me and Liz, Michael and Maria. All these couples."
"Michael and Maria have been a couple for a long time," she points out. "Marriage is just a formality. Like it was for you and Liz."
"I guess I'm asking if you miss Jesse," Max says suddenly. "Because we never talk about it, Iz, but I can't imagine it doesn't still hurt. Especially with Michael proposing, and with Liz and my anniversary next week."
Isabel shuts off the faucet and braces her soapy hands against the edge of the sink. "We don't talk about it because I've chosen not to," she says. "Not because I've forgotten about him, or because I feel any less for him."
She lets out a long sigh. "What are you really asking?"
Max puts a gentle hand on her arm. "Nothing, Iz. I'm not asking anything. It's none of my business. I just wanted to tell you that… I'm here, okay? Whenever. Maybe it's too little too late, and I'm sorry for that. But… whatever you do is your choice. Don't think we're all sitting in judgement or anything, okay? Because we're not."
Isabel turns and looks at Max, her brown eyes shining. "It does still hurt. But I don't think things are going to change, Max. I'm not going to see Jesse again. Even if it were safe to go home one day, too much would have happened to make it possible."
Max nods. "Just… be happy, Isabel. That's all I want for you. For any of us."
"Thanks," she whispers.
He smiles. "And Kyle's a good guy."
"He is," she agrees.
There is a long moment where neither of them speak. Then Max laughs. "So, you want me to finish drying?"
Isabel smiles. "Yeah. That would be nice."
"Do I want to know what that's all about?"
Liz shrugs off Kyle's question. "Relax," she says. "You've got the family seal of approval."
Kyle looks started. "You're kidding me. I would have thought…"
"What? That Max was in there bad-mouthing you?" Liz laughs. "After everything we've been through, Kyle?"
He shifts uncomfortably. "It's one thing to hang out together. Work on the van. Run for our lives. It's another thing to know a guy's making the moves on your sister."
"Well, as I recall, Max broke Jesse's nose the night before their wedding," Liz points out. "Would you rather he take that tact?" She takes a sip of her coffee to keep from laughing at his panicked expression, then decides to put him out of his misery. "Kyle, he's glad for you both, I swear. He just wants Isabel to be happy. And the only thing he ever had against you was that you were dating me," she adds with a smile.
"True. I guess we put that behind us, huh?" Kyle chuckles as Liz twirls her wedding ring around her finger.
Liz raises her eyebrows. "I'd say so." She looks past him to the path where Michael and Maria are strolling in the moonlight, their hands linked between them. "We've all come a very long way," she whispers.
Kyle lets out a low whistle. "Gotta hand it to Guerin. Didn't think he'd ask her for another year at least."
"What they've got right now works," Kyle says. "You can tell they love each other. They're together. Why change it? Michael doesn't seem the type to fix it if it ain't broke."
"I think you underestimate his need for a real family," Liz says softly. "He never had that growing up. Just Max and Isabel. Now he's got all of us, but it's not quite the same. This puts a label on things. Makes it real."
"So, will this do until I can take you to Europe?" Max whispers, his breath teasing the skin behind Liz's ears.
She shivers. "Who would have thought North Carolina had a town called Little Switzerland?"
"Mmm," he hums, kissing her neck. "You and Maria did a great job planning our itinerary. It's beautiful here."
"It is, isn't it?" She leans into him, her head resting on his shoulder. They are sitting on a wide porch swing behind the main building of their motel - an establishment that touts itself as the only Swiss chalet in North America - watching the sun sink deep into the hills. "How can you beat that view? I bet it's as good as anything the real Switzerland has to offer."
Max turns and follows her gaze. "It certainly is different than Roswell. I think that's what has amazed me the most about traveling around the country this past year. You learn in school how varied our nation's landscapes are, but you can't really understand until you see it for yourself."
She shifts so she can look at him. His eyes catch the last bit of light from the setting sun and glow like jewels. "Come with me," she says, standing and holding out her hand.
"What?" he asks, slipping his hand automatically into hers. "Where are we going?"
"You'll see." She leads him up the slope and around the building, out toward the A-frame where they're staying. Inside, she pauses to turn on a few lights before continuing up the steps to their bedroom.
"Feeling frisky, Mrs. Evans?" he laughs.
"Maybe," she confesses with a smile. "But that has to wait. Sit down," she says, pushing him toward the bed.
Max does as she asks. She can feel him watching her as she goes to her bag and pulls out a slim, flat box.
"Our anniversary's not until tomorrow," he protests.
Liz moves to sit next to him, the box balanced on the flats of her hands. "I know. But that's only a few hours from now. And I wanted to give this to you a bit early. You'll understand when you open it."
His eyes drop from her face to the package, then flick back up. "If I open this, you have to open yours, too," he tells her.
"Fine. But you first," she coaxes.
"All right," he relents, taking the box. He turns it over and carefully slips his finger beneath the flap of the wrapping paper, then slides the box from its casing. When he glances up, he sees Liz watching him closely to see his reaction. Her eyes are shining, and he smiles.
"Hurry up," she urges.
Max laughs. "Okay, okay." He flips the box right side up and lifts the lid. And freezes. "These are…" He lets out a long, slow breath.
"Gomez tickets," she whispers.
"I…" He swallows hard. "I didn't know they were touring."
"I found out when Maria and I were researching towns," she tells him.
"These are for… tomorrow. God, Liz…" He sets them down with trembling fingers and reaches for her. "You couldn't have found anything more perfect." Burying his hands in her hair, he kisses her. "I love you. I love you so much," he murmurs against her lips. "Every morning I wake up with you in my arms and I know it's real and I… Thank you for all of it. Every kiss, every smile. For believing in me again."
"Shhh," she whispers. She cups his cheek and feels the tears on his skin and can't tell if they're his or her own. "You're the love of my life…" She stops, hearing the words, knowing they are true. That they always have been. "I love you." She kisses him long and deep and feels him shudder in her arms.
"Your… present… now," he tells her, punctuating his words with teasing kisses. He pulls back and looks at her, wiping her tears with his thumbs. "Okay?"
Liz smiles and nods.
Max gets up and goes out of the room. He comes back a minute later with two boxes - one largish and flat, the other smaller and narrow - tied together with a red ribbon. When he sits down, Liz catches sight of the envelope caught between the two packages and leaps up.
"I forgot your card! Hold on…"
"Uh uh," he says, catching her by the wrist. "My turn. You had your chance," he teases. "The card can wait. Come on." He tugs her back down onto the bed.
"Fine," she agrees, pretending to pout. "If you insist."
"Here," Max says. "Happy Anniversary. Three hours early," he adds with a grin. "No…" he says, when she starts to open the card. "It, um… won't make sense until you open the boxes. Big one first."
Liz laughs. "Whatever you say." She sets aside the smaller box and the card, and begins to unwrap the larger box. A moment later she reveals a journal bound in soft tan leather, its cream-colored pages endlessly pristine. "Max…" she whispers.
"Don't say anything," he interrupts. "Open the rest first."
She nods and picks up the smaller box. Inside she finds a pen - a Parker pen. "It's beautiful," she says, her voice filled with emotion.
"Paper anniversary," he says with a smile.
"They're perfect," she tells him.
"Read the card."
"Okay." She slits the envelope open and slides the card out. There's a bouquet of white roses on the front. Inside the words are in Max's uneven scrawl.
My darling Liz,
Thank you for a year of love and adventure, and for braving the great unknown with me. The journal is for memory, to chronicle the stories of our days on the road, so that we can keep them for always. And the pen… is for you. No matter what name you use, or where our lives take us, to me you'll always be Liz Parker… the girl who stole my heart.
I love you now and forever,
By the time she finishes reading, the tears are streaming down Liz's face completely unchecked. "You stole my heart, too," she says. "You kept it beating when I thought it would stop." She manages a watery smile. "And I don't mean just the day of the shooting."
The gifts somehow end up on the floor, followed by assorted articles of clothing. They lie in each other's arms, exchanging slow, tender kisses, their hands roaming. There is no hurry; they have the rest of their lives together and it has never seemed more true or felt more real.
"How do you keep getting more beautiful each day?" Max asks, his voice tinged with awe. He strokes her silky hair off her face, smiling at the way her cheeks flush with desire. Rolling over her, he slips one leg between hers until he is cushioned against her hips. "You're like an angel," he whispers.
"There's very little angelic about me at this moment," she purrs, arching up against his hard length.
Max grins, leans in and kisses her. "Perhaps not. But you're still gorgeous."
"You're biased," she informs him. She looks into his dark eyes, amazed at the depth of the desire she sees flickering there. Her arms tighten around him.
When Max finally sinks into Liz's warm, welcoming body, they both sigh at the feeling of completion. Then Max begins to move and Liz's breath catches and they are racing for the highest peak in the universe.
Afterwards, they lie quietly, hearts still racing. Liz shifts so she is sprawled across Max's chest, her fingers tracing lazy circles and hearts on his damp skin as he runs his hand gently along the length of her spine.
"So. What do you think the next year will bring?" Max asks finally, his voice cutting through the peaceful silence.
"Hmmm… dunno. If it's half as good as the last one, I'll be happy."
Liz sits up and looks him in the eyes. "Really," she says. Leaning in, she brushes her lips across his. "It's been a very good year, Max." Her tongue snakes out and teases his bottom lip. "Very good."
His mouth curves beneath her attentions. "It's definitely had its moments," he agrees. He grabs her around the waist and rolls so she's beneath him. Hovering above her, he grins, knowing he owes her for every moment of happiness. "I love you, Mrs. Evans."
"I love you, too, Mr. Evans," she tells him. "Now, technically, there's another hour until our anniversary. So, how do you propose we spend it?"
"Oh, I think we'll find a way." And he lowers his mouth over hers.
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 18-Jul-2002 12:23:27 AM ]
|posted on 24-Jul-2002 11:13:28 PM by EmilyluvsRoswell|
|Well, this is it, guys. The end. Hope you all enjoy... As always, thanks for reading, and for the wonderful feedback.|
"At least it's not hot out," Isabel says as she adjusts Maria's hair. She has swept the front strands off her face, leaving the back to fall loose in a cascade of light brown curls. "August is always so unpredictable, especially in the south."
"Stop fussing," Maria orders, swatting at her hands. "It's fine. In case you didn't noticed, the wedding was this morning, Isabel."
"But I got one of those throwaway cameras," Liz says, smiling at her best friend and her sister-in-law.
"We didn't take pictures at your wedding," Maria points out.
"We didn't think of it," Liz says simply. "Come on. Let's go. Iz, she looks beautiful."
Isabel tilts her head slightly, taking a final look at her handiwork. "She does, doesn't she?"
Maria stands and turns to face them, the full skirt of her cream-colored dress flaring at the knee. "Thanks, guys."
They head out of the motel room, Liz grabbing Maria's small bouquet of yellow daisies off the bed on the way. The guys are waiting outside, talking, all of them casually handsome in pressed pants and shirts with collars. Michael looks up as they approach and his jaw falls open slightly at the sight of Maria.
Liz laughs. "Michael, she doesn't look any different than she did this morning."
"But this morning she wasn't my wife," he says, and Maria goes straight into his arms.
"They're going to have to stop teasing us now," Max says, as he takes Liz's hand.
"Let's get this show on the road," Kyle declares, and they head for the van.
The park is a few short blocks from the town square. They leave the van next to city hall and walk the rest of the way, Michael and Maria remaining a few yards behind as they stroll hand in hand. Max carries the picnic they have purchased and Isabel has a blanket they've borrowed from the motel. The sun beats down and the insects buzz from the flowers that line the street and a lazy sense of well being colors all of their moods.
Kyle helps Isabel spread the blanket beneath a shady tree, and Max and Liz lay out the food while Michael and Maria walk around the small pond in the center of the park. There are few people around - two small children on the playground, their mother watching from a nearby bench; a jogger passing on the road that circles the park; an older woman throwing bread to the ducks.
"We're going to go find them," Isabel says. "Tell them lunch is ready." She and Kyle wander off across the grass.
Max flops on the blanket and pulls Liz down next to him. "How do you feel?"
"Happy," she says, without hesitation. "I'm glad for them."
"Me too," he agrees, nuzzling her neck. "Maria's good for Michael."
"I think it works both ways," Liz says, leaning back into his chest. She watches as their friends walk toward them. "I'm glad they're all here. That we're all together."
"It's worked out better than I ever thought it could," Max admits.
Lunch is long and unhurried. There is cold fried chicken and potato salad and Cole slaw dripping in tangy-sweet dressing, plus crisp raw vegetables and firm ripe peaches. Max pulls out a final bag, revealing bubbling grape juice. He pours it into plastic champagne glasses and passes them around.
"To Michael and Maria," he says, holding his glass high. "May your lives together be long and happy. I know for sure that they'll never be boring," he smiles. "There was a time - years ago - when I couldn't have imagined you together. Now I can't imagine you apart. All our love."
"All our love," the others repeat. Glasses clink lightly and everyone begins talking at once.
"Liz, get the camera," Kyle prompts.
"Oh, right!" She pulls it from her bag and carefully reads the instructions on the back.
"Come on," Maria teases, trying to grab it away. "How hard is it? Just point and click."
Michael snakes an arm around Maria's waist and pulls her back onto his lap. She squeals in surprise, then twists to kiss him. A moment later they are sprawled in the grass, Michael flat on his back with Maria over him. Her hair falls forward, shielding their faces from view, but there is no doubt what they are doing.
"Guys?" Liz asks.
Maria twists to see Liz, flipping her hair out of the way, and Liz snaps the shot. "Point and click," she laughs.
"Liz!" Maria cries.
"Okay, okay. Take your flowers then, and smile this time," Liz tells her.
Maria sits up and pulls Michael after her. Isabel passes her the bouquet and motions for her to tuck a strand of hair back into its clip. Michael rolls his eyes, but positions himself behind Maria and pulls her against his chest.
"Look at me," Liz says, holding up the camera. "One, two, three."
Everyone claps and laughs. The camera gets passed around and they take turns taking each other's pictures.
"Hold up," Michael says. "How many shots are left?"
Kyle peers at the little window on the back of the camera. "Five."
"Okay, don't take any more. I'll be back in a sec," Michael says. He heads over to the pond and starts talking to the woman still sitting by the water.
A moment later he returns and starts tidying up the remains of their lunch. The woman makes her way toward them, her progress slow but steady.
"I asked her to take a couple of all of us," Michael says, his eyes on Maria. "Here under the tree. I figured, with nothing in the background to identify where we are, we could send a few prints home."
"Oh, Michael," Maria whispers.
"It's a good idea, Michael," Isabel says softly. "I'm sure Mrs. DeLuca will appreciate it."
Michael shrugs. "No reason not to send enough for your folks, Valenti, and the Parkers, too."
They help him clear away the rubbish. Max and Liz are just folding the blanket when the woman approaches.
"We really appreciate this," Michael tells her. He takes the camera from Kyle and hands it to her, showing her quickly how to operate it.
"Aren't you a lovely group," she tells them. "Come on. Huddle together." She waves them toward the tree.
Michael and Maria split center, with Liz and Max to Maria's right, and Isabel and Kyle to Michael's left. They press in close together as the woman instructs them to smile. She takes several pictures, then lowers the camera.
"Are those your flowers, dear?" she asks Maria, pointing at the daisies. "Do you want a picture with you holding them?"
Max reaches over and grabs the bouquet and passes them to Maria. She holds them up so they're directly below her face and, leaning into Michael, she smiles.
"It's like coming full circle," Max says. He leans against the side of the van and stares up into the sky.
"Another year, another wedding," Liz agrees from inside, where she's spreading out their sleeping bag.
"You don't suppose that Isabel and Kyle…?"
"No," she says.
He turns at the certainty in her voice. "Have you seen something?"
She hesitates. "I'm not sure."
"Max, this isn't like reading the morning paper. Very little of what I've seen has been precise. Even the visions that got us out of Roswell."
"I know. It's just… they seem happy." But there's a small catch in his voice.
She smiles. "How about I tell you what I think?"
He sits down on the floor of the van, one foot on the ground, one leg stretched out beside her. "Okay."
"Isabel and Kyle care about each other, but it's not love. Eventually, they'll each move on. What they've shared the past few months has been… comfort. Mutual need. A desire to get past what they'd lost."
"Not just Jesse. Isabel lost Alex, too. And…" Liz takes a deep breath. "Kyle lost Tess. He cared for her Max, and she used and betrayed him."
He sighs and reaches for her. "So, what you're saying is that Isabel and Kyle being together is more about convenience and loneliness than anything else."
"Is that so wrong?"
"No. Of course not. But it means something, doesn't it?"
"I don't know. Does it?"
"I think it's time we put it to a vote."
"Tomorrow," she says, and kisses him.
Michael emerges from the tiny Federal Express office. "All set," he tells them.
"You remembered to put the fake name on the return address?" Maria asks.
"Yes, I remembered," he tells her. "I just hope your mother doesn't have a heart attack when she reads that letter."
"Why would she?" Isabel asks.
Michael's eyebrows rise. "The signature? Maria Guerin?"
Liz giggles. "I forgot when I sent my journal last year."
"You forgot what?" Kyle asks.
"My name," she laughs. "I wrote Liz Parker instead of Evans," she admits.
"I forgive you," Max teases her. "Besides, haven't I told you that you'll always be Liz Parker to me?" he whispers in her ear.
"I'm sure Mom will survive the shock," Maria declares. "So? Where to next?"
"The library," Max says.
"The library?" Michael asks. "What the hell for?"
"You'll see," Max tells him. "Let's go."
The public library is across the street and down the block. They walk in quietly, taking a moment in the entryway to enjoy the feel of the air conditioning. Then Liz drags them in the direction of the reference room.
"Liz and I were talking last night," Max says in a low voice. "About where to go next."
"So? You didn't have any ideas? We need to check out some travel guides or what?" Kyle asks.
"Shhh," Isabel tells him. "Let Max finish."
"We thought it might be time to find someplace a little more permanent," Max continues.
"You mean we're low on money already?" Michael asks. "I thought we were being careful."
"This isn't about finances," Liz says softly. "It's about… sanity."
"You're talking about not running anymore," Maria says, meeting her steady gaze. "Settling down."
"Finding a home," Isabel adds.
"Is it safe?" Kyle questions.
"We don't know for sure," Max admits. "But it's been quiet. If we're careful and keep our eyes open, it should be okay."
Michael lets out a long sigh. "Where?"
"That's the question," Liz says. "We don't know. What do you all think?"
No one replies.
"Our problem exactly," Max says after a minute. "Hence the library. Liz?"
"Over here," she tells them. They follow her to a large atlas that's spread open on a stand. She takes one corner of the book in her hand and flicks her wrist, sending the atlas spinning.
"You're not suggesting we just… what? Stick a pin into it or something?" Isabel asks.
"Kind of reverse pin the tail on the donkey," Liz says. "You have a better idea?"
"No," she admits.
"Who does it?" Kyle asks.
"We could draw straws," Max suggests.
"Nah, Maxwell," Michael tells him. "You do it."
"Michael, it's not my…"
"Yeah, yeah, you're not a king," Michael says quietly. "But you'll always be the leader. Go ahead. Figure out where we're going so we can get started already."
Liz hands Max a straight pin that she's brought especially for this purpose. He looks at it a moment, then chuckles quietly.
"Someone else spin the book," he tells them. Positioning himself in front of the stand, he holds the pin between two fingers over the atlas and closes his eyes.
"Michael, you do it," Isabel tells him.
"Me? Fine, whatever," he agrees. He takes the book and sets it spinning. "All yours, Maxwell."
Max drops the hand holding the pin into the open book, stopping the motion instantly. He opens his eyes and looks down.
"So? Where to?" Kyle asks.
Max steadies the pin on the page, and moves his hand. All eyes shift to the atlas, and everyone begins to laugh.
"Better try again," Maria says with a smile. "I suspect Roswell isn't an option."
Max closes his eyes again and Michael sets the atlas spinning one more time. This time when Max drops his hand, the pin lands in the ocean.
"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea," Liz sighs.
"No, it is," Isabel assures her. "Come on. Three's a charm, Max."
"This one's it, then," Max says. He nods at Michael and shuts his eyes.
"Here we go," Michael tells him, and spins the book.
Max waits this time, listening to the rustle of the pages as the atlas goes around and around.
"Max…" Liz prompts.
"Shhh," he says. "Wait."
The book is still revolving, but beginning to slow, when Max finally lets his hand fall. He sticks the pin firmly in place and pulls his hand away.
Liz leans forward to read the atlas, then falls back laughing. She is so loud that the reference librarian glances up from her desk to hush her, and the others look at her in surprise.
"I don't get it," Kyle says, looking at the atlas. "What's so funny about moving to Maine?"
"Is that what I picked?" Max asks, clearly surprised.
"Yeah," Isabel says. "Near where we were last spring. And I'm with Kyle. Why is that funny?" she asks, as Max turns to Liz and grins.
"It's a fluke," Liz tells him.
"Is it? Maybe it was meant to be," he says, picking her up and spinning her around.
"Someone wanna clue the rest of us in?" Kyle asks.
"It's nothing," Max assures him, his eyes locked on Liz's as he gently sets her back on her feet. "Just a little touch of luck, that's all."
"So," Maria says. "Maine, then?"
"Fine with me," Michael declares.
"Me too," Kyle chimes in.
"I can deal with Maine," Isabel says. "It was beautiful there."
"It really was," Liz agrees, as she stares into her husband's eyes and sees all the love reflected there. "Just beautiful."