|posted on 15-Jun-2002 5:56:04 PM by kippy|
| http://hometown.aol.com/kippy1932/myhomepage/photo.html |
Title: Same Old Life
Author: Me Kippy1932⊕aol.com
Rating: I'll stick a PG-13/possible R on this just to be safe.
Summary: AU fic, M/L, similar to "Stranger In This Town" in that things have turned out a lot differently for the Pod Squad. And for everybody. That's about all I can say without ruining too much.
Disclaimer: Not mine. The title is taken from Pound's "Same Old Life", the lyrics of which are posted.
Author's Note: This incredible banner was made by borders insanity this summer. I've been wanting to post it for a while and I thought now was as good a time as ever. It's not saved as a jpg. file so all I have is the link to it. Just a little something to let you all know that I am not dead and neither is this fic (or any of mine!) I can't promise I'll get a new part out soon, but I will most definitely try.
Same Old Life
Didn't know what to do?
I thought I'd fly high
Don't know what to do
I haven't seen it all.
Getting close to the edge
Same old, same old life
Haven't seen it all
Getting close to the edge
Same old, same old life
She didn’t expect anyone to stop. Not here at least. Back in Roswell, the back-country New Mexico bumpkins would always pull over to give her a ride out of town. This was where she had thought she wanted to be though. She had gone across the country. And here she was on the side of I-95 in the middle of Massachusetts, actually expecting someone to stop for her.
To stop for sweet, little Liz Parker who had twice been asked to leave New York University and recently been kicked out. Liz who had seven piercings in her ears alone. Not to mention the tiny silver hoop above her eye, the barbell that went through her tongue and the bar in her belly button. The belly ring was just barely visible right now. The tiny hoop through her navel just a shimmer beneath the frayed edge of the tight black shirt. She laughed to herself. If her parents could see her now. God, if Alex and Maria could see her now.
Two giant semis rolled by and Liz held out her thumb halfheartedly. Not like she really thought they would stop. Hitchiking was so frowned upon up here, so dangerous everyone said. So far she had been lucky. In her two years here on the East Coast she had actually hitchhiked a good deal. In the past six months alone she had made it from New York to Atlantic City, back up and now she was somewhere in the middle of Massachusetts.
These were usually her peak hours though. The roads were always more deserted at this time, more cars would opt to pull over to the shoulder of the road. Two days had gone by though. Two days and no one had opened their door to her. Two days she had drifted along and spent the night in $45 a night hotels. She didn't know where she was going and truth be told, she wasn't entirely sure as to why.
But she was going.
The truck didn't look any different from the others on the road. It was a typical eighteen wheeler, there was nothing stenciled on the side, no name or address like some had. There was a California license plate but that was all. Liz again stuck out her thumb to the oncoming semi, guessing to herself how long it would take before she got out of Massachusetts. And the truck pulled over, the door popped open and she climbed in.
Liz had been in her fair share of trucks. She had met her fair share of greasy, overweight men and brash young women not much older than her. But nothing could have prepared her for the young man that sat across from her.
Inky black hair peaked out from the sides of a dark cap that rested on his head and the hat along with a dark goattee clipped close to his chin shrouded the driver from Liz's view at first. He hardly gave her a second notice when she climbed into the cab, but the brief look he did give her made Liz's heart flutter for a moment like it hadn't since junior high school. A tingling sensation swept through her body and a feeling overcame her that made her palms sweat the tiniest bit as she looked the young man up and down. And then they began to sweat for an entirely different reason. His eyes. His eyes made her, for the first time in her life, a bit nervous to be hitchiking. A bit nervous to be sitting in the cab of a truck with a stranger. They were too dark to be a shade of hazel, but too light to match the jet black hair on his head. They were nervous and shifty. He didn't talk to Liz, and he barely looked at her except for several glances out of the corner of his eye. Everything about him screamed to Liz to get out of the truck. It's the quiet ones you have to worry about. Liz remembered Maria's words to her the first time Liz had ever gone hitchiking back in Roswell. The words echoed in her head now.
"You want anything?" his words suddenly snapped Liz out of the daze she had been in.
"I'm going in to get something, you want anything?" Liz hadn't even realized that he had pulled over at a truckstop. She hadn't even realized that it was already beginning to get dark. He waited patiently outside the cab for an answer from her and she gave a barely visible shake of the head as she peered over at him. He had removed the hat from his head and his raven hair now fell haphazardly across his forehead. The shiftiness and nervousness in his eyes was still there. But there was more. His eyes were also intriguing. His eyes were the reason she remained in the truck.
At her response the young trucker turned from the cab and headed into the truck stop. It's the quiet ones you have to worry about. As his mysterious figure disappeared from view Liz exhaled loudly. She hadn't realized that she had been holding her breath as he stood outside the cab. She hadn't realized that she had goosebumps on her arms, that the hair on the back of her neck had been standing on end.
Liz turned her head out the window. How long had she been in the truck with him? How long had she zoned out? This was a first for her. Staying in the truck during a pit stop. Usually she bailed when the driver took a break. Something kept her rooted in the seat though. Her eyes searched franticly around the cab for some clues about the mysterious young man. The only thing she could see was that the black hat that had been resting atop his head was an Oregon State Beavers hat. Nothing hung from the rearview mirror, nothing rested on the floor, no papers, no pictures. Nothing. He hadn't even had the radio on.
Why was she still in this truck? her mind screamed. People at school had called her lots of things. Wild, rowdy, rambunctious. Stupid was never one of them. Was she stupid? Remaining here in the cab with this trucker no older than her? Before her mind had a chance to answer, he returned to the truck. She looked down to see what he had purchased. A box of Hat Tamales and a bag of M&Ms. She grinned at the bag of chocolate in his hand and she wasn’t sure whether he had seen it or not, but as he settled into the seat he held out the bag to her in offering.
"No," she immediately shook her head. "No, thank you," she quickly added, looking the driver up and down once again as the engine roared to life. He was wearing a plain white cotton t-shirt and a well-worn pair of blue jeans and she thought she had seen a sturdy pair of boots resting on his feet. His wardrobe really didn't differ much from the guys back at NYU. In fact nothing about his physical appearance indicated anything Liz had to be afraid of, except for the faint scar she detected above his right elbow.
As he skillfully maneuvered the eighteen wheeler back onto I-95 Liz watched his face intently. He held the wheel loosely in his hands now and his demeanor had changed slightly from when she had first entered the cab. He seemed more relaxed. Maybe he was more of a night person. Her mind began working. Maybe he did most of his driving at night, she had heard that about truckers before. Maybe he liked to sleep during the day. Maybe he had just woken up when he had picked her up off the side of the road. Maybe he had just rolled out of bed. They drove on in silence as her head filled with questions about the young man behind the wheel. He really could be no more than twenty. How did he live like this? How did he drive for hours and hours with no company? With no music? How did he live with nothing?
Liz immediately stopped her train of thought as she turned the tables back on her. What did he think of her? Of a petite, dark-haired girl hitchiking on the side of the road. With seven piercings in her ears and an eyebrow ring. What had he thought about that? Why had he picked her up?
"Is that a tongue ring?" His low, surprisingly soft voice, suddenly broke the silence of the cab.
"Yeah," Liz answered warily. She turned her head to face the driver, whose eyes were now darting back and forth between her and the road. "Why were you looking at my tongue?" she suddenly demanded and the hostility of her own voice surprised her. Still, she wasn't entirely confident about her decision to remain in this truck, with this unusual trucker. She had to keep her guard up. She couldn't let him peep over at her. Who knew what else he was looking at?
"I wasn't," the volume of his voice didn't change at all and neither did the expression on his face as he returned his gaze to the road. Liz wrapped her jacket a little tighter around her body and she was about to slump lower into the seat when she did just the opposite. Straightening up, she reached forward for the radio dial. For anything to occupy her mind other than the thoughts racing through it. Unsurprisingly music did not immediately fill the cab, and Liz quickly switched from the static of the AM to the melodies of the FM, not looking for a particular song just for something. She stopped on the first song she came to, a song she would have skipped over in any other situation. Why was she still here?
The radio blared the familiar opening guitar notes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Kalifornication loudly and Liz wondered just how bothered he was at the fact that she had turned on music. Would he lash out at her? Suddenly snap? Lose the calm, collected demeanor he had had so far? Liz pretended to occupy herself with the music, with this song that she despised. His expression never changed and his eyes never returned to her. One bad song drifted into another and another. She was stuck on a horrible radio station and was too paralyzed to fix it. Paralyzed with what though? Fear? Why was she scared of him? He hadn't done anything to her except glance her way once or twice, taken note of her tongue ring and offer her some M&Ms. What was it then that had her so paralyzed in her seat? What was it that had made her snap at him earlier?
Barely ten seconds into the latest Backstreet Boys song, the otherwise motionless driver dropped his hand from the wheel and flicked off the gratingly infectious music.
"What's the matter not a Backstreet Boys fan?" she asked, her voice more sardonic than she would have liked. Why was she attacking him? She didn’t exactly dissapprove with the action, she would rather listen to the silence than to that. And why was she suddenly secondguessing her own behavior? This was the way she was back at NYU. Sarcastic, wry and the slightest bit cynical of just about everyone and everything. She listened to her music loud, she didn't really care what others thought about her, and she did just about whatever she wanted. Why was she suddenly worried about playing music a lonely trucker might not want to hear? She fidgeted with the barbell that went through her tongue, like she often did when she was tense. Maybe because the lonely trucker had turned his
attention back to her again. "What?" she glared at him.
"How do you eat with a tongue ring?" he inquired softly, the steady nature the inquisitive words rolled off his tongue was just the opposite of her tensed muscles. Why did she feel her body temperature slowly rising?
"I eat with a knife and a fork," Liz replied slowly and the young driver again turned his attention back to the road. That was real mature of her.
"You can get out anytime you want to," he shrugged his shoulders, beginning to take his foot off the gas. He knew that his words had surprised her and indeed she stiffened up at the remark and licked her lips. He watched her tongue delicately trace over her bottom lip out of the corner of his eye.
"Please, I know that's the last thing you probably want," she suddenly rolled her eyes. He stepped back down on the gas, but didn't turn his head away from her.
"I know exactly what you want - " Liz felt her body temperature rise a little more at the lie coming from her mouth. She had no idea what he wanted. "You're my transportation, buddy. That's all...don't even think about it." The reddening Liz expected to develop in his cheeks didn't occur though. In fact he hardly flinched at her words.
"Did I say something?" he asked, but his words weren't bitter to her at all. No, they were just the opposite. They almost sounded worried, concerned that he had done something to fluster her. He didn't know that his last four words had flustered her more than any other comment would have.
"You didn't have to," she fired back. "Your stupid little comments about my tongue ring are not going to make me sleep with you."
"Who said anything about sleeping with anyone?" he raised his eyebrows suddenly in bafflement. "I know I didn't."
"So you don't want to have sex with me?" Liz cocked her head to the side and stared at him, the suggesting look on her face trying to get some kind of reaction out of him. She knew she was being forward with him, but she had to stop his ideas before they started. There was a slight pause and his eyes focused back on the road.
"I'm just your transportation." And the silence continued.
Seven hours Liz had spent in the truck with him. Eight hours of silence. Of her eyes wide open. She couldn't shut her eyes. Couldn't sleep. Not here. Not with him. He hadn't directed anything else her way and neither had she since their exchange back when they had still been in the United States. Now here they were driving through the Quebec countryside, no further along than they had been in Massachusetts. She didn't make anymore moves for the radio and he didn't direct anymore questions to her about her tongue ring. When they came to a filling station he didn't ask if she wanted anything. He just came back with a Pay Day in his hands. He settled into the seat, started up the truck and handed the candy bar to her.
What she wouldn't give to be able to read minds right now. They were going on eight straight hours of silence since she had put him on the spot back in Vermont. The candy bar remained untouched. The only movement from him had been when he had popped a few Hot Tamales in his mouth, and then quickly after a handful of M&Ms.
"Do you ever sleep?" Liz suddenly inquired. They would soon be approaching twelve hours of almost non-stop driving.
"Not really," he dismissed and the absence of sarcasm from his voice unnerved Liz more than she would have liked. Silence resumed. Then two hours later, deep into the province of Quebec, Liz threw another question his way.
"Where are you going? The Polar Ice Cap?"
"Why, where are you going?" he quickly shot back at her. And more silence. Where was she going? How long could she say with him, she wondered? How long before he kicked her out? How long before he would stop to rest, to stop to eat something other than Hot Tamales and M&Ms. Her eyes drifted hungrily down to the candy bar that he had bought for her, the one that had been resting there for the past three hours.
"You can eat it, I didn’t poison it," he suddenly spoke, the sound of his voice alarming her.
"How did you know I like Pay Days?"
"Everybody loves a Pay Day." She thought she saw the faintest makings of a smile on his face, but her face revealed to him a lack of amusement at his comment. "I saw a wrapper in your bag," he sighed. And more silence.
Liz had pulled many the all-nighter before, but never in a car. Never like this. She could tell that dawn was approaching, and as her heavy eyelids began to close, she reached for the radio. His hand dropped from the wheel to halt the action though.
"Could you not turn it back on."
"What do you just drive in silence?" she thundered, frustrated by his silence. "I need something to keep me awake!"
"You can go to sleep." His eyes didn't look so shifty anymore and part of her wanted to believe him. "I'm almost there though..."
"You actually have a destination?" Liz asked in surprise and his eyes shifted to her than up to the road sign that read Sept-Iles, 70 kilometres.
Liz hadn't been too far off when she had guessed that he had been going to the Polar Ice Cap. That's where they might as well be. Everything seemed dead up here, the sky was grey and overcast, the water was so dark it seemed almost black and the people all seemed to be from a different time period. At least to Liz they did. But her mind was spinning, and this wretched little town was the last thing she was worried about as she watched the silent young driver step out of the truck and go through the business he had here. He had reached his destination. What was he going to do now? What was she going to do? What if he wanted to stay up here? She couldn't stay here. She wasn't even sure of his name.
"You want to sit and look at your Pay Day, or you want to get breakfast?" he suddenly shouted to her from down below her window. Liz froze. This wasn't normal. A trucker asking her to have breakfast with him. She popped open the door and made her way down though and was surprised at how tempted he almost seemed to help her to the ground. A nineteen year old trucker wasn't normal either. And Liz just followed him as he walked towards the tiny shack of a restaurant across the parking lot.
She felt incredibly out of place. She wondered if he did too. He had his black Oregon State Beavers hat back on and it only made him look more youthful. All the men around the parking lot, stepping out of their rigs were over thirty, most had a dirty, creased hat over their heads and full facial hair. An older man with a weathered face and a Toronto Argonauts hat head waved from the filling station.
"You can come get paid up after you eat, Lucas," he shouted and Liz sharpened her ears as the stranger's name was finally revealed.
"Lucas, huh?" she heaved, as she struggled to keep up with his brisk walk. She could see that the man in the Argonauts hat was looking at her curiously. In fact everyone was.
"Thanks, Earl," he seemed to ignore the stares and her as he headed over to the man with Liz trailing closely behind him.
"Who's this?" the man inquired, looking to her with a smile.
"This uh.." he glanced over to his traveling companion for the past fourteen hours. "This
"Allison?" Earl questioned.
"Allison?" Liz crossed her arms and looked at him in question.
"Yeah, this is Allison," he repeated, appearing pleased with himself and content to leave the introduction at that.
"Well, glad you finally got someone to keep you company, Lucas!" the man laughed, patting the young man on the back. Liz looked none too amused.
"Well, we're gonna go have some breakfast," he began to back away from Earl and the man just nodded his head and walked back into the building. Once the man was out of earshot Liz turned to the young trucker. Lucas.
"Allison?" she glared at him as she struggled to keep in stride with him. "Where did you get Allison from?"
"You look like an Allison," he dismissed with a shrug of his shoulders.
"Well that's funny...being that my name is Liz," she told him rather indignantly.
"I'll make a note of that," he again dismissed her as he continued walking. He sure did walk quickly. Liz finally lifted her eyes to the restaurant that they were walking toward and she immediately stopped in her tracks.
"Mom's Fish and Pancake House...you have to be kidding me."
"It's good," he nodded his head.
"Fish and Pancakes," she repeated the obscure title.
"Not together obviously...I'm telling you, it's good," he insisted.
"I'm not going in there," she crossed her arms over her chest and planted her feet.
"Fine," he shrugged his shoulders and began walking away, leaving Liz standing in the parking lot.
"Wait, wait, Lucas. Where are you going?" Liz looked around at the foreign faces roaming around. The eyes all focused on her.
"I'm goin' to catch up with a friend," he called, not breaking his stride at all or stopping to turn around. Liz looked again to Mom's Fish and Pancake House.
"Lucas," she called suddenly, beginning to chase after him. "Lucas, wait up, Lucas!" she ran after him through the parking lot as the eyes remained fixed on her.
The stares continued in the tiny truck stop as well. She realized though it was more because of her appearance and her clothing, the tiny silver ring above her eye, than anything else.
"Here, go get a table...order anything you want," he motioned to the dining area and Liz looked at him quizzically. She had thought they were going to eat together.
"Where're you going?" she asked as he started walking away.
"I told you, I'm looking up a friend," he called to her without even turning around. Liz muttered obscenities under her breath as she looked around at the tiny restaurant. She wasn't too keen on the idea of being left alone here. Not with all these unfriendly eyes on her. Lucas finally got himself a girlfriend, she heard some girls mumble, what a piece of work she is. And Liz wrapped the jacket a little tighter around her shoulders.
People said the ferry from Anticosti Island had gotten in a half hour ago. And he had said he was going to take the 9:30 ferry. So where was he? Drawing the Oregon St. Beavers hat lower on his head he looked in at where Liz was sitting. She had ordered two coffees, but only sat stirring her cup, only sat staring across at his. What was she thinking about? he wondered. God, who was she? And what was she doing with him? Liz. She had said that her name was Liz. Liz. Liz. Liz. The name rang in his head as he looked over to her. She had finally taken off the jacket and now sat there in a tight black t-shirt. There was something written across the breast of it, but he couldn't make it out. She had a barrage of silver and multi-colored necklaces and bracelets on. More than he could even count. It was the first time he was able to really look at her, safely behind the glass without her yelling at him. She definitely was a character, he grinned looking in at her. Her dark brown hair was pulled back behind her head with several strands hanging loosely around her face.
"Who you looking at?" a voice suddenly asked from behind and he jerked back quickly and turned around to face the very person he was waiting for.
"Huh? What?" he jumped back in surprise.
"Relax, man - it's just me," the voice greeted with a laugh, and upon seeing who the voice belonged to, the young trucker jerked his head away from Liz and instead embraced the solid young man before him.
"Hey!" He threw his arms around him and from her view inside, Liz's attention was definitely piqued by the reunion going on outside the window.
"So, uh - who - who are you looking at?" the stranger inquired again, peering through the window towards Liz.
"No one," he dismissed immediately. "I mean uh..."
"Oh. . ." the boy in the bulky sweater and dark pants murmured, raising his eyebrows as he looked in at Liz. "She's hot," he paused and began to laugh. "Wonder what the hell she’s doing here, you know?"
"So what's going on? How are you? Let's go get a cup of coffee," the young man in the sweater greeted jovially, walking into the restaurant.
"Oh - uh - no.." he glanced in to Liz sitting there in the restaraunt. It was better if his friend didn't know about her, the mysterious female hitchiker he had just picked up on the side of the road. "Let's walk around town a little first," he suggested and his new partner just shrugged his shoulders in agreement. It had been over six months since they had last seen each other. He wasn't even entirely sure that they would see each other again. He would be up for anything. And Liz nearly dropped the coffee cup in her hand when she saw her transportation and the young trucker she had spent fourteen hours with turn around and walk away.
Ready to resort to asking strangers if they knew where 'Lucas' was, Liz was needless to say surprised, when she saw him and the new stranger arrive back at Mom's Fish and Pancake House almost ten minutes later. Her eyes fixed on him as he walked in, and even to the stranger joined at his side. That must be the friend he was looking up. The same person he had embraced outside. Definitely a local, she decided. The black wool hat pulled down over his ears, the drab colored clothing. He was probably a nineteen year old trucker too. Maybe he was a fisherman. She chuckled to herself. Probably an ice fisherman. They went to the counter and as she saw two cups of coffe placed before them she looked over and attempted to make out what they were talking about to no avail.
Her plate of food was placed down in front of her, along with the pancakes she had ordered for him and both young men turned to look at her for a moment. And that along with the other pairs of eyes unnerved her.
"I have no money, you know!" she yelled to him across the room and the ice fisherman's face dropped.
"You know her?" he laughed, pulling down at the wool hat.
"Yeah uh..wouldn't say know her," the young trucker laughed.
"Who is she?"
"She's uh...I uh...I don't know," he scratched his head with a small smile.
"How did you...I mean - "
"I found her," he blurted out. "She was on the side of the road outside of Boston."
"Man, you make her sound like a dog..." the ice fisherman squinted his eyes and fixed them on Liz. "So uh...so are you - are you and her...you know?” he asked curiously.
"No!" he quickly dismissed and he lifted the Oregon State hat off his head and matted down his hair, embarassed by the quesion.
"'Cos I was gonna say - I still don't know what could hapen..."
"I'm not, I don't...I'm just driving her," he put the hat back on.
"Where's she going?"
"I don't know, she won't say," he shrugged.
"Food is not paying for itself!" Liz suddenly bellowed again, this time between a mouthful of food. Both young men laughed again and rolled their eyes at her words, walking over to the the booth.
"You have fun, Max," Liz heard the ice fisherman chuckle and she dismissed what she thought she heard him say. The name she had thought she heard.
"Tell Isabelle I say hi when she comes back from Quebec, I can't believe I missed her."
"You know how she is with her shopping...I'm surprised she can survive up here at all..." the friend laughed. "I'll tell her you stopped by though-"
"Would you, would you really?" Liz interjected rudely, clearly irrittated by her lack of involvement in the conversation.
"Would you shutup I see them like five times a year!" the driver who had been so quiet and polite to her thus far suddenly snapped. She flinched back in surprise, but didn't let it get to her.
"Your pancakes are getting cold," she motioned to the griddle cakes growing colder by the minute.
"It's cool, I'll see you again soon."
"Never know, Michael," he glared at Liz. She was a handful for sure. She stuck her tongue out at him and Michael shook his head.
"Is that a tongue ring?"
"Ask your friend," she sat back in the booth, almost seeming to pout. The ice fisherman aughed again and began to back away. She couldn' have been more of a polar opposite to his friend if he had tried.
"Take care of yourself, Max," he murmured and they continued to exhange good-byes, but Liz heard no more. Max. He had said Max. Again. Liz froze in the seat and her palms began to sweat. She had nothing to go on before. Nothing to really make her suspicious of him except for his eery silence and peculiar age. Now he had two names. One for his employer, one for his close friend.
"They're not that cold," LucasMax suddenly laughed playfully as he took the seat across from her. He was in a surprisingly upbeat mood. A mood he hadn't been in the past fourteen hours.
"He just called you Max," Liz fired immediately, quickly bringing his friendly mood to an end.
"What?" he seemed caught off guard by her.
"He called you Max. Twice," she stated.
"Wha - No, no - he didn't," he stuttered.
"Yeah, yeah he did," Liz told him confidently. "He did twice, I am not hearing things."
"I didn't say that you did - "
"Well - why are you denying-"
"Max is my middle name," he blurted out suddenly.
"Yeah, right - I'm really believing that," she laughed and as she motioned to get up from the table he reached out for her.
"No, Liz!" he grabbed her arm and as she spun around to face him he saw her shirt go up ever so slightly. He saw the tiny bar that went through her navel. He could see her trying to read his face and he was embarassed by how desperate he had sounded. "Is that another piercing?"
"Yes, don't try to change the subject," she lifted her shirt up higher so he could see it. He tried not to stare too hard.
"Liz..." he mumbled her name again, knowing that calling her by her name had done something to her. He hadn't even meant to the first time. He had done it unconsciously. He wasn't sure why he wanted her to stay so badly. All he knew was that he did. And despite all that told her not to, so did she. All she knew was that - whatever his name was - when he had touched her arm, something had happened. Her skin had grown hot, had flushed, practically burned, but at the same time she had felt a chill travel through her body. Goosebumps appeared along the back of her neck and along her arms despite the fact that they were covered in cotton sleeves. She quickly sat down in the booth and broke her arm away from him. Something had happened here. There was a reason she was still here with him, eating breakfast with him in a greasy spoon truck stop she wouldn't have set foot in otherwise.
"So what do you think of the Fish and Pancake House?" he asked lightheartedly.
"Coffee sucks," she shrugged, putting down her cup. Why was she still here with him? Why wasn't she bolting for the door?
"Well, it's not called the Fish, Pancake and Coffee House."
"Where you going next?" Liz quickly changed the subject. Before things got too cordial. He was her transportation. That was all. She couldn't let herself forget that. Couldn't let herself grow too attached.
"Well, Earl just told me there's another job I could take going back down to the States. Down to the Southwest. He can get the rig hitched up in an hour or so, but I'd have to leave pretty quickly. I'd like to be across the border by tonight."
"You're going to do it?"
"Sure, it's good money."
"But you'd leave when? This afternoon?" Liz struggled with the fact that he would be moving on. She couldn't go with him, couldn't go back down with him the exact way they had come up. Then he would grow suspicious. Then he would think that she was just tagging along with him. "You're not going to sleep?" she creaked. God, she was letting him see how bothered she was by it.
"I'd sleep tonight."
"Where's the job to?"
"Las Cruces." At his words Liz put down her glass of orange juice.
"Las Cruces, New Mexico?"
"Yeah...we'd be heading out in a couple of hours.."
"We?" Liz suddenly lifted up her eyes to him.
"Well, yeah," he shrugged in an effort to be casual. "I mean..if you didn't - if you don't find
"No, I uh..." she reached across and speared a piece of his pancake with a tiny smile. "I didn't.”
"Question," Liz looked across the seat as the two drove along in a no longer so awkward silence. She couldn't believe they were driving again. She couldn't believe he could even drive. Her legs still felt like jelly. They had taken at most a forty minute pit stop. Now they were tracing back over roads they had been on less than two hours ago. Retracing 729 miles.
"Huh?" he turned to face her.
"Can I ask you one question?"
"One question, yeah."
"Why Oregon State?" she was referring to the hat atop his head. He paused, pondering whether or not to tell her the truth.
"Because I used to play there," he admitted and then quickly continued. "My turn."
"To what?" He knew she wanted to ask more, but he was curious about her too.
"My turn to ask a question....where do you go to school?"
"I used to go to NYU, my turn-" she spoke before he could. "What did you play?"
"I was a cornerback on the football team, my question. Why don't you go to NYU anymore?" She too seemed to be considering whether or not to reveal the truth to him. She opted to be truthful.
"Kicked out, why don't you play anymore?"
"Knee injury - why'd you get kicked out?" This was like rapid fire.
"Lots of reasons, where'd you grow up?"
"Midland, Texas. Name one." But Liz was quiet and didn't answer him immediately. Midland, Texas. That was a little close to home. In more ways than one. Midland was less than two hours from Roswell.
"I didn't go to class..." she murmured. "You played for the Midland Lee - " Liz stumbled as she suddenly connected the pieces. She was no dummy to Texas High School Football, growing up in neighboring New Mexico she knew enough. It was like a religion down there. Midland Lee and Odessa, they were football factories. He had to be a good athlete to play there. What was he doing in a truck then?
"Yes, I played for the Midland Lee Rebels. What else?" he asked in reference to her reasons for leaving NYU.
"I broke a lot of rules. How come you don't go to college anymore, I mean your parents can't possibly - "
"More than one question," he reminded her playfully. "And I don't have parents -"
"I lived in a group home," he answered her question before she could ask it.
"I'm sorry," Liz apologized after a long pause. Suddenly she didn't feel like playing their little game anymore.
"Not your fault..." he didn't seem all that bothered. "What about you. Where'd you grow up?"
"Roswell," she replied, but she didn't ask a question.
"What do I get a freebie 'cos I have no parents?" he laughed. "Okay, I'll take it. How many piercings do you actually have?" he asked lightheartedly and seeing his playful manner she continued on with their game.
"Ten that you can see." She saw his eyes widen. "Kidding..." she teased, twirling a strand of hair around her finger. "So how come you don't listen to the radio?"
"I do sometimes, I just don't like to. The stations up here aren't very good, but uh...try 98.3," he looked to the dial. And so went the better part of an hour, rattling off questions to each other, learning more and more - for the most part - useless facts about the other. Favorite color, favorite number, favorite sport, favorite food. The radio eventually took over the conversation and the useless prattle though and a silence resumed in the air of the cab; and growing bored, Liz grabbed his wallet and began leafing through it. "Lucas Duchaigne.." she mumbled, not even noticing the middle initial of his name. "Lucas R Duchaigne," she suddenly realized, looking through all his I.D cards and his driver's license. Her comment didn't even register with him at first. "This says your middle initial is R, not M." Her head spun. Max couldn't be his middle name.
The feeling that had washed over her at the truck stop when she had heard him called a different name again overcame her. It wasn't fear as much as the nausea she felt at being lied to.
"What, no - " he stammered.
"Listen, Lucas, Max, whatever your name is, stop the car."
"No, look -"
"Stop the truck and let me out," Liz ordered and he slowly began pulling over to the shoulder of the road.
"Come on, Liz - where're you - where're you gonna go?" she unbuckled her seat belt and grabbed her bag.
"I'll get a ride with someone who doesn't lie to me." The truck finally slowed to a stop and she fumbled with the door and began marching defiantly along the side of the road. He unbuckled his seat belt and jumped out of the truck after her.
"Liz, I can explain - " he began to jog after her.
"I don't want to hear you explain, - " she tried to ignore the fact that he was running after her.
"Liz - don't go, come on. What're you gonna do -"
"Be with someone who tells the truth," she fired.
"My name is Max Evans alright!" he shouted to her, the crack in his voice and the desperation causing her to stop suddenly. "Look, don't go...” He was pleading for her to stay with him for a second time that day. Liz stopped in her tracks, she stopped what she was doing, she stopped doing everything. She practically stopped breathing. Max took a small step towards her. "Lucas Duchaigne is someone I made up..." he confessed, knowing how weird it must all sound to her. "He exists in the B-Right Trucking Company and in the province of Quebec and..." Max's voice drifted, this was a horrible explanation. He knew she would need more. He knew this wasn't making her trust him anymore. "Max doesn't exist in Canada." Liz looked at him intently, at his dark eyes that were fixed so firmly on her. She looked to the rig he had jerked over to the side of the road carelessly. To the door he had left open when he had gone after her. And she knew that this was the truth.
"Does he exist in the U.S?" she asked boldly and Max paused and licked his lips.
[ edited 15time(s), last at 26-Jan-2003 12:38:05 PM ]
|posted on 15-Jun-2002 6:09:54 PM by kippy|
|A little over twenty-four hours had passed since Liz had climbed into the truck with the enigmatic young driver, into the truck with the California license plate. And she had finally fallen asleep. She had finally allowed herself to. She wasn't so troubled by the idea of falling asleep in the seat next to him anymore. Next to Max. And she slept soundly. She didn't know how often he glanced over at her. How tempted he was to push the strand of hair out of her face, or to wrap the jacket around her a little more. She didn't know how he swerved dangerously to miss potholes, so as not to disturb her, or how he lowered the radio. And she slept so soundly that for the second day she missed nightfall.|
She opened up her eyes and it was dark and Max had keys to a motel room in his hand. What exactly was she doing? She wondered to herself as she climbed down from the truck and grabbed her bag. She was no longer just hitchiking that was for sure.
"One - zero - seven," Max popped open the door to room 107 and Liz peered in at the dingy room. Two twin beds and a twelve inch television set were pretty much the only objects of value in the tiny room. She plopped down the tiny bag in her hand and marched towards what must have been the bathroom door.
"I am showering," she announced, but she didn't even wait to get to the door before she stripped the shirt over her head. Max's eyes followed her as she strutted over to the tiny bathroom in her lacey black bra. What was he doing? Getting them a motel room? This girl whos last name he didn't even know. He should have just gone to sleep in the truck. She went to close the door, but let out a shriek and flew out to the bed only moments later. "Forget it, I am not showering in there!" she denounced and Max wondered to himself what exactly was in the bathroom as he dropped his bag onto the bed Liz hadn't. So it wasn't exactly five star, or four star, or even three star. It would do.
"Do you want to order in a pizza or something?" he asked her innocently, knowing that her breakfast that morning and the Pay Day she had finally eaten were hardly a meal.
"Sure," she shrugged, taking down her pony tail and flipping her hair over her head. Her shirt was back on; Max's pulse rate back to normal. The clock read 10:30, but it felt so much later. He had been up for over thirty-six hours.
"You know on second thought, I might just wanna sleep," he sat down on the bed, leaning his back against the wall that served as the headboard, he switched on the television with the remote. Liz sat down on the other bed and static suddenly filled the twelve inch box. Liz laughed as she moved about the bed, but the static and snowy picture remained. She moved onto Max's bed. Max who was trying so hard to be a gentleman to her. The picture returned.
"You want to watch t.v, then I guess you're stuck with me," she laughed, leaning back against the bed. Leaning back up against him. Did she even realize what she was doing? It didn't seem that she did. He wondered if she could feel how hard his heart was beating right now. And they layed there peacefully for a moment and Max was amazed at how right if felt. Static suddenly returned to the television and Liz laughed and lifted her head from his chest.
"So it's not me," she chuckled.
"No...it's not you," he laughed as well, and the awkwardness that had enveloped the truck those first few hours returned. Even he could tell it had from the tone of his own voice.
"So how far we going tomorrow?" she questioned, turning towards him.
"How far you want to?" he asked in return. She shifted her eyes from the t.v to him for a moment. Maybe it was the last statement, the way he had said you, the way he was including her in the days plans, the affinity she thought she detected in his eyes when she had said we. Maybe that was what made Liz touch her fingers to his lips and kiss him. He could have guessed it was coming. Thirty plus hours in a truck together, and now cramped in a hotel room. He knew it was coming, it was ust a matter of when. And he had been a gentleman to her for the past two days.
She moved a hand behind his head and pressed his mouth harder against hers and Max didn't stop her. With his life on the road, not to mention his year of collegiate football he had kissed girls before, but never anyone with a tongue ring and the feeling took some getting used to. Her taste combined with the metallic one. His hands traveled down her body to her stomach and he pulled the shirt over her head. So much for being the gentleman.
There was nothing wrong with this, Liz told herself. Nothing wrong with a meaningless fling. She jerked the cotton t-shirt over his head in an almost violent manner and continued kissing him. She knew this wasn't meaningless though. She knew by the way he was kissing her that this was far from meaningless. She was going to see him tomorrow. She was going to be spending the entire day with him. And the next day, and the next. And who knows how much longer?
"Max.." she gasped the name she had learned only hours ago as his mouth traveled down her body, down across the sensitive skin of her neck, down the tiny valley between her breasts, to her stomach. She had no idea what it felt like to him to hear someone call him Max again. To hear someone call him Max other than Michael and Isabelle. "Max.." she murmured his name again as he positioned both his hands on her stomach. And she knew where his hands were moving towards. They were hovering above the fly of her jeans.
He waited for her permission though. He massaged her stomach with his hands, sending electic shocks through her body; he tried to feel as much of her as he could. He kissed her stomach and her neck, he cupped her breasts through the bra she was wearing and kissed her and kissed her and waited for her to make the next move. He waited for her to move her hands on top of his and for her to move them down to the button of her jeans. He waited for her to unzip his.
She wasn't there when he woke up and his heart stopped for a moment with the notion that she had left. They had both fallen asleep with his arms around her, he remembered it vividly. He hadn't dreamt that. His heart leapt into his throat when he thought about her leaving. She couldn't have. Not after last night. His mind reminded him that she was the type of person to do that though. If he knew anything about her at this point, he should know that. That she probably did this all the time. One night hook-ups. God, and he was too embarassed to tell her that this had been his first time. Or times he should say. He had felt so inadequate that first time. And she had been up for more. And it was better. And she had belonged to him completely. But now she was gone. Absent from his arms and he just felt stupid for thinking everything that he had thought.
That she would stay with him. After his sketchy story, after he had lied to her about his name. Why would she stay? To sit in a tractor trailer with him for another day to learn his favorite color and listen to bad radio. That was what his life was. How could he invite her to be a part of that? But how could she just ignore last night? How could she leave him? Last night had been..had been mind-blowing. He now knew the true meaning of the word ecstasy. He knew it hadn't just been him. He knew that the same went for her. That he might be a novice at this, but last night had been good.
Had been dangerous. A voice in the back of his head suddenly reminded him For you and for herHis head spun at the danger he had put her in. This was uncharted water here. What they had done. Two different species. His mind spun at the possibility.
She wouldn't even know. And every second that he didn't tell her, he would be lying. His eyes closed in agony as he looked over to the empty bed next to him. Then to the empty motel room. God, what had he done. He turned over to his side, like he had done last night before he had draped an arm around her bare body. She had liked that, he was confident of it. She had liked falling asleep in his embrace, she had edged closer to him. When he had placed a soft kiss on her shoulder she had pulled his arm further around her. That wasn't his imagination.
He could see the faintest makings of light outside and he knew he should probably get on the road soon. Right now all he wanted to do was sleep though. Maybe it had all been a dream. Not just last night. But the past thirty-six hours. Picking her up on the side of the road, talking to her, actually thinking that we, the two of them, meant something. That there was an attraction there and an affection. One that was mutual. One that wouldn't leave him right after the most amazing night of his life. God, how could she have done that. He shut his eyes. It hadn't all been a dream. It had been a lie. She had been a lie.
Liz hadn't taken the time to note the countryside when she had stumbled out of the truck last night. It looked like they were in the middle of a Normal Rockwell picture or a country landscape painting. To the left of the parking lot was a cattlefield, to the right was a picturesque silo and barn and across the highway rolling fields and round bales of hay. He really couldn't have picked a more quaint place to stop. Or more out of the way. She had seen a total of five cars pass in the past hour. She wouldn't have been able to hitchike out of here anyway though. She couldn't even make her way down the motel steps to the parking lot. She had tried. Things had gotten too intense last night. When she had woken up with Max's arms still in a firm embrace around her she had panicked. Had wriggled away from him, thrown some clothes on and bolted.
But she hadn't gotten very far, and frankly she wasn't sure what was stopping her. It was something. Something deep in her gut that told her to stay with him. With Max Evans. From Midland Lee High School. One time Oregon State Beaver. She thought about everything she knew about Max as she sat outside the door watching cars pass. She tried to put the pieces together. Midland, Texas and Sept-Iles, Quebec. The California license plate. Lucas R. Duchaigne and Max Evans. The ice fisherman named Michael, the girl named Isabelle they had mentioned. The group home he had grown up in, his fondness for Hot Tamales and M&Ms. Not to mention Big Gulps, Cajun food, Boston Creme donuts, and pad thai as he had confessed to her yesterday. She actually knew more about him than she had known about some other guys she had been with. She had known Max for a little over twenty-four hours. He had done absolutely nothing to discomfort her in any way.
Nothing besides lie to her that is.
She got up and peaked through the window to the bed. He was asleep, turned over on his side with his back to the window. He had this facade of the trucker up, of a hardened and rugged young man who lived on his own. The goattee was deceiving though as was the black hat. That was Lucas Duchaigne. Max Evans was really anything but the facade he put up. He was innocent and vulnerable and she had seen that all to clearly yesterday. Yesterday when he had begged her not to leave him.
Liz sat there with her back against the door to room 107, recalling how it felt to wake up in the middle of the night and find that Max's arms hadn't changed their position around her body. She wanted to stay there with him at the same time that she wanted to slip away and out the door. Just like right now. She could stay, she could leave. And Liz just sighed loudly and leaned her head back up against the door to room 107.
He eventually got out of bed. Eventually, Max threw his legs over the side and staggered to the bathroom and attempted to go on with the all too familiar routine. There really was nothing familiar about this though. About waking up alone when he had a vivid memory of falling asleep with Liz's body crushed against his the night before.
He had to forget that though. He had to forget her. Her clothes were gone, her bag was gone. She was gone. She was just a hitchiker, a girl who was just passing through, a girl who had just passed in and out of his life in a matter of days. He heard stories about it all the time. He had to accept that. And just as he began to, just as he began packing up his clothes and preparing for his drive to Las Cruces, she walked through the door.
No words were exchanged between them, barely even a look. She could have lied and said she was watching the sunrise, she could have told him that she had gone to get coffee. But she didn't say anything. Her eyes shifted in an almost nervous manner from him to the bag he was packing and without a word she walked by him to the bathroom.
Whatever departure time he had been aiming for was sufficiently delayed as he crawled through his morning routine, but he hardly seemed to realize. Last night when she had been sleeping in his arms he had imagined today's drive in his head. How close they would be and how they would stop every few hours to relive last night all over again. He knew that wouldn't happen now though. He wasn't even sure what was going to happen next between them. He glanced over to her as he shoved the clothes that had been strewn about the floor last night into the tiny duffel bag. She was in the bathroom, using his toothbrush to brush her teeth.
"Is that my toothbrush?" he inquired and she looked to him and nodded her head carelessly, then leaned over to spit into the sink. "I don't...I don't remember telling you that you could use -"
"Max, we had sex last night," she cut him off and he looked to her in confusion. She didn't have to remind him of that. He hadn't forgotten. "We were a lot closer than sharing a toothbrush."
"Don't use it again," he replied sharply, dismissing her comment no matter if it was true or not. Liz
wiped her face with a washcloth and set down the toothbrush on the counter.
"I won't." Her words were equally as cold, yet she couldn't help but think that maybe his last comment hadn't just been about the toothbrush. She didn't expect this. Max to be this cold to her. Then again she didn't really know what she had expected. She barely knew him.
Before another comment could be exchanged between the two Liz jerked back abruptly, almost like she was being pulled backwards. Her hand moved over her stomach, almost as if in pain, and she grabbed the counter. She squinted her eyes shut and Max had trouble figuring out if it was out of frustration or actual discomfort. She didn't even seem like she realized he was still there.
"You okay?" he asked, his voice losing the sharp tone it had had, and the concern painfully evident.
"What do you care?" Liz winced, the pain in her abdomen unlike any she had known. "You won't even let me use your -"
"Liz, are you okay?" he ignored her and the worry in his eyes and voice just confused her more.
"I'm fine," she lied. Fine. She would hardly say that she was fine right now. Forget the pain. Max could hardly look at her, and she could hardly look at him without wanting to...to do what? she wondered. Kiss him, slap him, yell at him, confess to him just how incredible last night had been, or all of the above. "I'm fine," she repeated. I'm fine, standing here arguing about a toothbrush. Just fine.
Then as quickly as the pain had come, it quickly subsided. Her hand dropped from her stomach, the look of anguish vanished from her face and she remembered what they were arguing about before. "We have to stop someplace where I can get my own toothbrush."
"Are you alright?" he asked, just as confused by the occurrence as she had been.
"I'm fine," she sighed as she suddenly began wiggling out of her jeans.
"What are you doing?" He took a bumbling step back towards the door as the jeans slipped off her legs and she stood before him in her t-shirt and panties.
"I'm shaving my legs," she told him carelessly as she rummaged through his bag of toiletries.
"With my razor," he shook his head in annoyance and she just laughed quietly to herself and reached out to him with her hand.
"What's the matter? Do you not like to share?" she taunted as her fingers brushed across his goattee and he immediately jerked away from her touch.
"You didn't bring your own toothbrush or your own razor?" he looked to her in a look that Liz could only discern as one of disgust. This definitely took some getting used to. This hostile version of Max.
"No," she ignored him as best she could and walked over to her tiny bag. "I brought condoms though." He closed his eyes as if to make sure that he had heard her correctly. She definitely knew how to turn the conversation. "Condoms -" she pulled out the box of Trojans and waved them at Max. "-which you didn't wear last night." He was amazed at how nonchalant she seemed about it. Part of him knew he should have expected this though. He shouldn't have expected her to actually take it seriously. To take him seriously. Maybe all he really was was her transportation. Maybe he had just been taken advantage of in the worst way possible. Her last remark was only the second one she had even made in reference to last night. How was she able to do that? To just push it away like that? They were going to be in the truck together all day, how could she not even bring it up?
"I want to head out within the next half hour," he suddenly told her, ignoring her last comment as he continued to shove items into his bag. How did she now have him acting like nothing had happened either?
"Fine, I'm ready," she shrugged. "Whenever you are."
"Then go have breakfast now, 'cos I don't want to stop during the day," he said it more like an order as he placed a ten dollar bill on the table next to her.
"You're not going to eat?" He thought he detected the slightest sense of dissappointment in her voice, but chalked it up to his imagination.
"No, I don't have to eat." It's not that he didn't have to as much as he didn't have the appetite.
"That's not healthy," she chided, but he hardly paid her notice.
"Be back by nine." And she was gone.
Max was the one who turned the radio on now as they drove along in silence. He flicked the dial on before he even drove out of the parking lot and Liz had been caught off guard by the action, as well as by his loud selection of music. Fuel's song "Hemmorhage" was playing and the lyrics echoed throughout the cab. It was so loud that a normal conversation couldn't even be carried out.
He had done that on purpose of course. He couldn't talk to her civily right now. He could hardly talk period. Part of him wanted to just drop her off on the side of the road like he had found her. Leave her alone there to find another person to buy her meals for her. Another person to use for the night. Then part of him knew that he would turn around to pick her up again before he got five miles down the road.
Liz glanced over to him, to his mouth clinched tightly and his hands gripping the steering wheel. He was like a different person today from the quiet young man in the white t-shirt she had met Sunday afternoon. He had a maroon Midland Lee Football shirt on, along with the black Beavers hat drawn down low on his head.
"You're such a football jock," she bellowed loudly over the radio, eyeing his wardrobe in amusement. "Were you a football jock in high school?" she quipped, but he didn't answer her. Without even looking her way the words tumbled out of his mouth. Words he wasn't even thinking, but words he said nevertheless.
"I don't know, were you a slut in high school?" Never in his nineteen years on this earth had he even used that word before - not even in the locker room at Midland Lee, or up at Oregon State - but for some reason it flew from his mouth. *Don't fall away, and leave me to myself.* She sat there for a moment, almost in shock before responding.
"Go to hell, Max," she snapped back quietly, but of all things a crooked smile appeared on his face.
"I bet you were.." Liz looked to him in disbelief as he continued. "I bet you slept with the entire football team."
"You're an asshole," she replied and he hardly flinched at her words.
"I'm an asshole?"
"Yeah, you're not who I thought you were," she shook her head, but again her words yielded no visible response from him.
"Neither are you," he murmured as he looked out the window to make a left hand turn.
"God, what am I doing here..." Liz suddenly mumbled to herself, holding her head in her hands. What was she doing here? Sitting in a truck, driving back towards home, getting verbally attacked by the man she had spent last night with.
"I'm not stopping you from leaving," he slowed down the truck, although he wasn't exactly sure why. *Hold me now I feel contagious. *
"Right, you just begged me not to go yesterday," Liz rolled her eyes and Max shrugged his shoulders.
"I thought you were someone else." Was all he said as the truck came to a stop on the side of the road. *Am I the only place you've left to go? * Liz sat there, looking to the door Max had just unlocked for her, Max who had just insulted her, Max whose arms she had fallen asleep in last night. *She cries that life is like some movies black and white. Dead actors faking lines. * Her eyes remained fixed on Max. What would she be returning to if she left him? If he left her here on the side of the road. She would be returning to the dull, monotonous life at NYU, or the boring routine of any other university in the U.S. To the dull monotonous life that she had attempted to escape from at Roswell. She looked over to Max who she wasn't quite sure what to think of right now. Could she really blame him for turning on her? His dark eyes, the eyes that had held her in the car that first day, revealed nothing to her right now. And she sat there. *Over and over and over again she cries don't fall away! And leave me to myself.*
Max tried hard not to look at her. He tried his best to make it seem like he didn't care what she did. He knew that if he let her walk out of the truck right now that he would end up regretting it. *And I wanted. But you turned away.* He had a difficult time sitting next to her though. Even for the short distance they had traveled so far. *You don't remember, but I do. * He had a difficult time grasping with the fact that last night had meant nothing to her. Certainly nowhere near what it had meant to him. *You never even tried. *
The seconds ticked by slowly as Max waited for her to step out of the truck. He couldn't really blame her after what he had said to her. The worst part was he didn't even know why he had said the things he had.
He waited and waited for the door to open. At one point he even closed his eyes and attempted to block out the sound of her footsteps walking away. But they never came. She remained in the seat next to him.
"You're not throwing me out in the middle of a cow field," she told him as she defiantly crossed her arms across her chest. He didn't respond to her, he didn't say a thing. He just pressed his foot down on the gas and drove on. And the lyrics echoed through the cab of the truck and they called out to both of them. * Don't fall away and leave me to myself!*
Max had said that the drive was thirty-six hours. Liz wasn't exactly sure how many days of driving that meant in Max time. Right now she could hardly imagine another day in the truck, nevertheless another night, together. They weren't even out of Canada yet and it seemed like it had been days. Max had said yesterday that he would at least like to be around Cleveland by midnight. Liz didn't know whether that meant they would be driving all night or not. She hoped it did. Then she could just fall asleep in the truck.
She wished she could fall asleep now. The radio had been blaring for the past four hours and with at least six to go until nightfall she just wanted to sleep now. She didn't want to sit across from Max like this, to listen to the music together like they were - whether they would admit it or not. They passed through Montreal going on nine hours of silence that neither of them had seemed too upset about, when Max suddenly lowered the radio. It was Kalifornication again . A song they had heard five times in the past two days. When will the radio ever tire of this song? Liz wondered to herself just as Max finally opened up his mouth.
"Haven't heard this enough," he mumbled to her and she wasn't quite sure what to make of his attempt at congeniality and she remained silent. "I was sorta...a jock in high school," he suddenly admitted. He was going back to the conversation they had had way back in Quebec at the start of the trip. Liz remained quiet. "You know, I didn't...didn't walk around in a jacket or anything, but..." Max lifted his hat off and scratched his head awkwardly. She could tell he was trying to make conversation. Trying to be civil after his attack on her earlier. "-but those were the guys I really hung out with all the time...I mean.." He paused for a moment, wondering if she would ever talk. "I don't know what Roswell's like, but in Midland football's the only thing the town has.." Liz couldn't help but perk up her head up a bit. "So for me - you know, no family, no friends when I first came - that was, that was really an outlet for me...and it was all through high school.." Liz could hardly believe that he was opening up to her, and she knew her attempt to look dissintersted was failing. "I think that...if I hadn't played football I probably wouldn't have fit in anywhere," he confessed, scratching his head with his index finger thoughtfully. "I don't think I would have gotten out of the town really," he let out a nervous laugh and his words rung all too true in Liz's ears. Wanting to get out of town, wanting to move on. She was tempted to say something to him, to add on to what he had to say, but she remained quiet. "I mean, there's not much to love about Midland...it's.." He paused and Liz got the feeling that this was a conversation and a discussion he would have had with himself anyway. "The whole area - it's just..." He was hardly even talking to her at this point. He was just talking.
"This one weekend...my sophomore year on the team - " he stroked his goattee with his thumb and forefinger as he recalled the memory. "We were just driving around - it was uh...it was Mike, Oscar, JB, Sid, and I - I think," Max rattled off the names that meant absolutely nothing to Liz. "So we were just driving around after...after we had beat Odessa Permian - you know Permian - Mojo, all that stuff?" he turned to her and she nodded her head, familiar with the football powerhouse. So much for not communicating with him. She couldn't help it, he seemed so caught up in this memory. At remembering high school. "We had just beaten them that Friday and it was Saturday - or it might actually have been after the game Friday night - " he corrected. "Anyway, we're just driving around and - I forgot how, but we run into these guys from Permian - " Liz could see Max getting a little more animated as he progressed into the story. "And they were pissed," he laughed. " 'cos they thought that it was their year, and they were undefeated going into the game..and we just annihilated them," there was a sparkle in his eye as he talked about it, a liveliness about him. One Liz hadn't seen before. "-and that year we went on to win states - but these Permian kids were..they were - beyond pissed!" Max's left hand flew off the steering wheel as he looked to Liz. "And we're talking guys that are like 6'5, 250 and all they know is football." He had Liz's attention piqued and she wasn't about to deny it either.
"What happened?" she asked inquisitively.
"They just started waling on us.” Of all things Max actually laughed. Liz just looked at him in confusion.
"They just attacked you?" she couldn't believe that this was the story Max had been building up. A story about him getting beaten up.
"No, they didn't just attack us," he laughed. " - they..they had like a two by four and a lead pipe and stuff..that was a planned attack," Max shook his head, although there was still a smile on his face for some reason. "That's where I got that," he motioned down to the scar above his right elbow, the one that had made Liz wary of him at first.
"Did you guys fight back at all?" she asked in disbelief.
"Sure, we tried. But it was like twelve against five ..." his voice trailed off, and if it was possible he seemed to be looking back on the memory of the thrashing with fondness. "We played them the next year and shut 'em out like 49-0 and we won states that year too," he shrugged.
"Did you report them?" Liz asked in shock. If something like that had happened in Roswell it would be all over the news.
"I think Oscar might have 'cos he had some bones in his hand broken, but...stuff like that would happen all the time..still does. It's a rough area, people think it's cute little cornfields and quarterbacks, but it's not, it's stuff like that and guys like Oscar and Mike..." his voice drifted off and although Liz had no idea at the moment who either of the boys were, she had a feeling that at the end of the drive she would. And she turned to Max, the sparkle still there in his eye, and smiled.
By the time they reached Ohio, Liz knew more about the Midland Lee Rebels than she wanted to. She knew who had been going out with who, who slept with who, she knew the inner workings of the team and the school, she knew where all Max's teammates were now attending college. And in response she had told him about the West Roswell Comets, about Kyle Valenti - her boyfriend for two years in the ninth and tenth grade - who was now playing football at Texas Tech. For four hours they had talked about football, and then for the other two they had talked about Max and his high school. But not about Liz, the conversation never turned to Liz. He never even directed a question her way.
It was well past midnight and Max had already passed the goal he had set at Cleveland. She thought maybe he planned on driving all night. Truthfully, she wasn't even sure if she would have minded. Chatting about the Midland Lee Rebels and the West Roswell Comets. Chatting about Max's life back in Midland. Innocent conversation.
She wasn't the one who suggested they pull over for the night. That had been all Max. He had booked the room at the Comfort Inn, and as rain had begun to fall, he was the one who carried her bag to the room. Liz saw only one bed when she walked into the room and she looked to him quizzically. What exactly did he intend by this? Maybe it was a mistake on the part of the management.
But Max dropped the bag on the bed and promptly turned towards the door. "I'll be in the truck," he told her, but she called to him before he could walk out.
"You're not sleeping in the truck," Liz looked at him like he had three heads.
"Max, that's ridiculous -"
"Look, I do it all the time when I'm low on money, it's alright."
"There's no reason for you to though. Look," Liz pulled the comforter off the bed and layed it on the ground. "I'll sleep on the floor, you take the bed -"
"I'm not making you sleep on the floor," he laughed.
"I'm not making you sleep in the truck," she shot back. "You've been driving all day you should sleep in the bed, Max - not in a truck," she reasoned.
"I -" Max opened up his mouth to protest again, but couldn't come up with another reason not to sleep in the room. None other than the obvious. It wasn't that he didn't want to sleep here, it was that he didn't think he could. The awkwardness would be too much. He could hardly believe that he had survived the car ride. His dark usually so unreadable eyes rested again on the bed, but Liz could tell exactly why he was being so hesitant to stay in the room. The awkwardness in his eyes alone was all too clear, not to mention his body language. He wiped his hands on his pants nervously and averted his eyes away from the tiny bed. And away from her.
"We can both take the bed," Liz suggested and Max's head shot up wildly at her wild suggestion. "I'll stay under the covers, you stay on top."
"Look, I'm just. . . I'm just gonna go - go out in truck," Max stumbled over both his words and his feet as he clumsily tried to make his way out the door.
"You are not going anywhere," Liz jumped in front of his path and stood in front of the door with her arms spread out, a wide smile on her face.
"I'm not staying in here, let me go!" Max's voice cracked like a child. He had no idea what she was trying to pull, but he wasn't in the mood for this. He didn't know what he was in the mood for.
"You're not going to sleep in the cab of a truck!" she protested vehemently.
"I don't want to stay in this room with you!" Max shouted finally. Thousands of emotions flew through his head, but right now the only one being expressed was anger. "I don't want to spend one minute more with you in a confined space than I have to, alright?" His eyes were dark and unreadable again, but they flicked nervously around the room. They still refused to focus on Liz.
"Why are you making this a federal case?" Liz lifted her arms in surrender, not at all offended by the words flying out of his mouth. "You really need a good night's sleep you have been up for too long," she whistled with a shake of her head.
"God, would you leave me alone!" Max fired.
"Would you quit being so defensive!" she shot back, finally raising her voice as well.
"What do you want from me??" Max suddenly exploded, not just in reference to the here and now. But to everything. To why she had stayed in the truck with him for the past two days. "What - what do you want from me?" The seconds slowly ticked by as his words echoed around the room and he just stood there, his chest heaving awaiting an answer.
And then her mouth was on his.
He stood there motionless for a moment, his lips receiving hers, but his body absolutely still. It wasn't until she moved a hand behind his head that he raised his own arms. It wasn't until she made a move for his shirt that he made a move for hers. It wasn't until she took a step back from the door that he hoisted her up and layed her down on the bed.
Max was sleeping soundly on his left side and facing her, when Liz's eyes fluttered open. Her first instinct was to smile at how peaceful he looked, how content. His lips were parted ever so slightly and his hair was a mess. She reached across the bed and gently combed the hair back onto his forehead and then lightly ran her fingers down his face and touched her fingers to his goattee. The goattee that she thought looked so out of place on him. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine the face behind it, what he would look like without the facial hair. She could get used to this. Maybe in some twisted way she could get used to waking up next to Max, the young man she really knew next to nothing about. Sure, quiz her on his high school life and his football record and she was golden, but any details about the double life he apparently seemed to live and she was clueless. Still she couldn't help but feel right about this. About Max. Would it be alright? Would it be alright to go ahead and feel? Go ahead and count on something? She couldn't think clearly lying next to him, listening to his breathing, so carefully, very carefully she left the bed.
She paced back and forth across the room as the anxiety quickly set in. Stay with Max, stay with a stranger? She didn't do that sort of thing, she didn't stay for the morning after. Ever. This was two straight nights with Max though, two straight nights unlike any other she had experienced. But to stay with him, that was something else entirely. Something else she could not make herself do.
There was no hesitation this time, the feelings were coming all too quickly, and overwhelming her. Too many feelings, too many mixed feelings. She grabbed her bag, looked back at Max's sleeping form once and hurried out the door. Her feet traveled quickly down the steps and she ran, faster than she ever had before to the nearest road. To a car to take her out of here and away from him.
What it took for Liz to walk back into room 107 was more than Max would ever know. This was unheard of, her returning to someone. He didn't seem to care much though. When the door creaked open and she walked through at 7:39 he greeted her with only a cold stare.
"Hey..." she offered meekly only to be met by his silent and angry glare from the bathroom. He was up. She hadn't anticipated that at all. She had thought maybe she could crawl back into the bed next to him. But him being up and awake...Now she wasn't sure how to go about this. This reconciliation. She could tell much more than his pride was hurt by her absence. "I..." she opened up her mouth only to find that her throat was dry and incapable of speech. I what? I tried to leave you? "I just.."
"Forgot something?" he offered sharply.
"No, I - " Anything she said in protest would be some sort of a lie.
"Go ahead,” he held out his hand with a shrug of his shoulders. "I'm not stopping you."
"Max..." she took a step towards him, but he backed away.
"You were on your way out, weren't you?"
"Max, I tried to leave," she confessed to him. God, she had had more serious conversations, and more biting exchanges with him in the past twenty-four hours than she had with anyone in her entire life. She could tell those were words he didn't want to hear though and he just turned his back on her and continued into the bathroom. "I tried, Max, I couldn't do it."
"Why not? Couldn't find a ride?" He called out, refusing to look at her.
"No, I mean I couldn't," she stressed the last word. "I couldn't do it. I couldn't leave..." She wanted to say you, but she wasn't able to. That sounded too heavy. Too intense for someone she had known for only three days. There was no response from Max in the bathroom and she walked towards the doorway. "Max, look at me." It was her turn to plead now. She didn't return to this room and to him only to have him shun her. "I started to leave, but I realized that I don't want to!" There was something easier for her to say. And she smiled and gave an innocent shrug of her shoulders. "I want to stay with you."
Max wasn't so forgiving of her as she had thought he would be. Or at least how she wanted him to be. She walked over to him when he had remained silent in the bathroom, and she slid her hands up his bare back from behind. She slowly ran her palms up his well defined back to his shoulders, then down across his chest where she pulled him towards her and pressed her face up against his chest. "I'm sorry," she mumbled, her words muffled against him. Still there was no response.
He just stood there. He felt everything she was doing, but he just stood there. Partly because he knew that her intimacy, her hands running up and down his arm, didn’t belong to just him. Who knows how many other men she had done this to? That's what his mind had been working over as he had layed in bed without her. Who was she? How much did he really know about her? The thoughts all flew through his mind as she murmured his name again and the feel of her fingertips tracing across his skin sent a shiver up his spine. God, he couldn't deny this, no matter how hard he tried. He couldn't deny her.
And he moved only slightly, but that was all it took for her. She turned him around the rest of the way and moved in to kiss him, but he flinched. Like he didn't want to be close again. She looked to him in confusion.
"Max," she ducked her head in an attempt to meet his downcast eyes. "Max, I want to stay with you..." she repeated the words she thought he wanted to hear. "Please," her voice trailed off as she lifted her fingers to his mouth like she had two nights ago, before they had first kissed. She touched the fuzzy goattee that grew on his chin, the goattee that seemed so out of place on him. Like a child dressed up in adult's clothing. Like a child thrust into an adult's world too soon. "Please." She needed to kiss him again, and not just in a a carnal way. And not just for his forgiveness either. She needed it. The past two nights had been something she needed. She needed to feel needed. She needed to have that feeling of being needed again. That feeling that he had given her.
Max could hear all her words she was saying, the way she was practically begging him. He wasn't immune to the tantalizing touch of her skin either, the temptation to just throw her onto the bed and ravage her right then and there. That was there, but it wasn't overwhelming him. Because he remembered the way that had gone the night before last. And more importantly the way it had ended. He looked up at her finally, at the seven piercings in her ears and the tiny hoop in her eyebrow, the face devoid of makeup, the hair pulled back in an evident haphazard and rushed manner. That was all he saw. He didn't see the things he had seen last night, he didn't see a beautiful seductress, or a vampy young woman. He saw instead all the things that he had seen when he had first spotted her on the side of the road. He saw a scared little girl.
"Why do you have so many piercings?" he finally muttered.
"What?" Liz looked at him in frustration. "Max, forget about the frickin' piercings for once-"
"No - why do you have them?" he raised his voice in anger.
"I don't know, I - I like them," she answered as her hand moved up to the stud way up on her left ear in an almost self-conscious manner. She was beyond confused by his question.
"No, I think you like the fact that other people like them," he challenged, but his voice was shaky and not as confident as he wanted it to be. "I think you just like to draw attention to yourself -" Liz shook her head, but he continued with his shaky tirade. "I think that you - you are terrified...terrified of blending into the background...of being normal -"
"Well, what's so great about normal?" she raised her hands in irritation.
"What's so bad about it?" he argued.
"I don't know, you tell me Max," she shrugged. "You're nineteen years old, you drive around in a truck by yourself and you hang out with forty year old men - you tell me..what - what the hell is normal about that?" Her words struck at Max. They didn't just nick the surface, they cut deep.
"You know nothing about me," he growled. "You sit in a truck with me for two days and you think you do -"
"I know a lot more than you think, Max," she shook her head as a tiny bead of sweat dripped down her face. She couldn't remember ever having this heated an argument with anyone. "I know that you are...are so scared of being alone," her jaw was trembling with each word that came out of her mouth. She didn't want to attack him like this, but the words just came.
"Being alone? I've been alone my entire life!!" he cried and at the same time that Liz wanted to retaliate, something inside her also caved in at his words. Something broke.
"And that's it - you don't want to be alone anymore...." Liz inhaled a giant breath. She had known Max for less than two days. That thought triggered in her mind for a moment, but something else in her mind suppressed it as she said the next four words. "Max, I'm right here!" she pressed her hands against her chest. His stormy eyes flicked nervously about the room, focusing everywhere but on her. "I'm right here!" she repeated. "But if you're too much of a coward to face that..." she closed her eyes. "If you're just going to - to run, to just keep on -"
"Look who's talking about running!" he shot at her before she could finish.
"Max, I'm not going to leave!" she shouted, stepping towards him, but again he backed up. God, why wouldn't he let her near him? "I made a mistake and I realize that I did - but I didn't leave, okay I'm here." She attempted to move her hands to his face, and as he twisted his face away in protest she just persisted. "I sat outside the door, I didn't go anywhere," she lied, skipping over the part where she had gotten into a car and driven four miles down the road before stopping. "I was scared and I panicked, okay - I can admit that." His jaw was clinched shut and she knew his mind was working.
"There's things you don't know.." he murmured. More than she could ever imagine.
"Then tell me...let me in, Max," she pleaded.
"I can't," he whispered, but he finally allowed her hand to caress his cheek gently. Not yet at least.
The first hour was slow, and it was evident that the two were trying to decide how exactly to go about this. Liz was sitting awkwardly in the passenger seat and Max's eyes hardly left the road. The exchange in the hotel room was still vivid in his mind, especially her words to him. Max, I'm right here! They kept sounding over and over and he tried to make sense of them. Was she doing what he thought she was? Was she agreeing to...to what? He racked his mind trying to figure out what she had meant. She hardly knew a thing about him, yet she was agreeing to come with him to be his - to be his what? His partner, his girlfriend? Either one would be something new to him. And did this mean that he had to introduce her to Michael and Isabelle? Did this mean that they were going to spend every night together? God, that thought alone made him dizzy.
"When are we stopping for lunch?" Liz's voice suddenly broke the silence in the truck and Max's train of thought.
"What?" he lifted his eyes from the road for the first time in over an hour to look at her.
"Well, I mean - last night you said you were way ahead of schedule. Do you think, maybe we could stop for lunch somewhere?" Liz asked with a shrug of her shoulders. "I haven't had a meal since...well, since Canada," she laughed and Max was quick to nod his head.
"Yeah, yeah of course we can stop," his voice cracked as he nodded his head vigorously. He looked to the side of the road where there was a sign for Wendys, McDonalds, and a Bob's Big Boy., none of which he could see seemed to appeal to Liz anymore than they did to him. "Whenever you find someplace you want to stop."
"I'll pay this time," she grinned and he could see the tiny metallic glimmer of her tongue ring.
"I don't mind paying," he shrugged his shoulders. He didn't mind paying at all as long as it meant her company.
"Two hotel rooms and breakfast - I'm paying, Max." Her no-nonsense voice quieted him and he relented. He actually still had yet to get used to her calling him his name and a chill went up his spine just hearing his name come from her lips. Not that he didn't like it; he loved hearing it. He could get used to hearing it, to hearing her voice. Hearing her voice every morning, seeing her as soon as he woke up. "What're you thinking about?" she asked before his daydreams could go any further.
"I'm thinking about..." his voice drifted off as he fought against what he wanted to say. That he was thinking about her. "I'm thinking about..." again his voice drifted off as he struggled to come up with some excuse. "Friendly's," he sputtered.
"I think there's a Friendly's coming up," he knew it was a lame excuse and he was looking at her from the corner of his eye to see if she had bought it. Had bought the fact that his mind was actually on food. "That sound good for lunch?"
Max had been right, and there had indeed been a Friendly's twenty miles down the road. It was twenty miles of silence, just as lunch was nearly forty minutes of silence and he wondered to himself when this awkwardness would lift from them. From him really. She tried to make conversation, but something prevented him from furthering it. From talking to her, from turning this into something real. And deep down he knew he was afraid. Moreso than he had ever been in the past three days, he was afraid of letting this become something real. Because now there was nothing stopping it except himself.
"I don't think there's anything in this world I love more than a Friendly's sundae," Liz suddenly professed as she dove her spoon into the mountain of whipped cream. "I remember the day Roswell got a Friendly's it was like the happiest day on earth," she laughed, biting the cherry off of it's stem and looking to him.
"Yeah," was all he could utter. She stared at him long and hard then and leaned across the table.
"Come here," she mumbled softly as she motioned with her hand for him to inch across the table as well. He obediently did as she asked and as he stayed there and waited for her to whisper something to him, she gently pressed her lips up against his. The action caught him off-guard and he was slow to respond and as soon as he did she pulled away and scratched at his goattee playfully with her finger, continuing with her story about the Friendly's in Roswell. And for the rest of the meal he just sat there in wonder. In sheer amazement of this girl who had stumbled into his life.
Even with the forty minute stop for lunch Max was still ahead of schedule and he had the option to push for Las Cruces before tomorrow morning or get some rest and finish the trip tomorrow He told Liz the choice and all she did was shrug her shoulders.
"Do you want to see Midland?" he suddenly asked and the question caught him off-guard as much as it had surprised Liz. He wasn't sure why he had asked her, there was a sign a couple miles back for MIDLAND and the thought had just struck him to show her his home town. "And then we could just..." Max swallowed loudly and worked up the confidence to say his next remark, "you know spend the night there."
"Spend the night?" Liz raised her eyebrows and looked to Max, making more out of his suggestions than he intended.
"Well not like...unless you wanted - I just meant-" Max stumbled and Liz laughed at his behavior. The past few days he had been so calm and cool, when she had so freshly asked him if he had thought about sleeping with her he had shrugged it off and been so cavalier about it. Now all she had to do was say one word to make him hot under the collar.
"I'll see Midland," she shrugged her shoulders, changing the subject for poor Max. "But don't expect me to show you Roswell," she added and as tempted as Max was to ask her why, he was quiet, still recovering from his embarassing blunder.
"Okay," was all he could say to her and it almost looked like she was expecting him to ask her further about it, but he didn't.
"I just - my parents don't know I was asked to leave NYU yet so..." she continued and he just nodded his head.
"Okay," he dismissed with a shrug of his shoulders.
"You know I just - I just don't want anyone to see me driving through town with some...sketchy trucker," she kept going and while he snapped his head up at the latter part of the comment, he just nodded his head and gave another quiet 'okay'. "Why are you being so weird?" she finally fired after more minutes of quiet followed.
"What - asking you if you want to see Midland?" he asked in perplexity.
"No, that's like the only thing you've said all day," she addressed what had been bothering her all day. Max's face tightened at the remark. "You've been so weird since we left the hotel, what's going-"
"What's going on-" Max finished before she could. "I dont know - what is going on?" And the mixture of anger and confusion in his voice made her silence any comments she was about to say in response. "You run out the door the past two nights -" she opened up her mouth to protest, but he continued before she could say anything. "-then you come back, pretend like nothing's happened and say you want to stay with me?!" He was struggling to keep control of the truck at this point as his hands flew off the wheel. "What the hell does that mean?" he turned to face her for the first time.
"You don't even know me -"
"But I want to know you, Max." Liz could hardly believe what she was saying. "Why do you think I've stayed here the past three days, why do you think I - I came back."
"Why did you?" he finally asked meekly, his voice calmer than it had been before. Weaker. "This is my life...I mean you said so yourself, I'm just a - a sketchy trucker, I -"
"Look I just said that to piss you off," Liz confessed, but he shook his head.
"You're right - I mean, I do - I..." he paused for a moment. "I don't have a place to go home to after this - after Las Cruces," he admitted with a defeated look. "I just...keep driving."
"You have to go somewhere - I mean the Cali license plate - you - "
"The company's based in northern California and there's this place...but - it's not mine, I keep my car there, but-"
"Let's go there," she stated simply with a shrug of her shoulders.
"Go there..." Max analyzed what she was saying.
"Yeah - until your next job we can just..." she looked over at him and curled her lips in a devilish smile just enough so he could see her tongue ring, "spend the night."
Liz's comment stayed with Max until they reached Midland. But once they passed the sign that put a smile on Max's face he was at ease.
WELCOME TO MIDLAND - the tall city
Home of the State Champion AAAAA Rebels '98, '99, '00...
"Let's find a place to park," he said with a grin, and there was a giddiness about him that led Liz to believe it was his first trip back since graduating. He couldn't park the car, couldn't help Liz to the ground quickly enough and he fumbled with the door locks and parking brake. "Want to see my high school?"
"Ummm...sure," Liz shrugged as they began down the road. Liz had heard mixed stories about Midland and she was never sure which story to believe considering she had never been there. Stories about what a working class town it was, then stories telling of how that's where George W Bush grew up and how it was a great place to live. She was a little taken aback at the conditions she was walking by now. Max was right, it wasn't cornfields and star quarterbacks, it was a city and the section they were in now was a poor, very
nondescript area. She actually felt the slightest bit uneasy as Max led her down a sidestreet. "Where uh - where are we going - the sign said the high school's that way," she poked at Max, who actually seemed to fit in here with his dark baseball cap and goattee.
"Takin' a detour," he dismissed nonchalantly and no sooner had he said it then he stopped in his tracks. "That's where I grew up," he sighed as he looked to the rundown three story building across the street. Liz was silent, and glad now more than ever that she wasn't showing him where she had grown up. She'd feel like the spoiled little rich girl compared to this. "It's not really as bad as it looks, I just..." he scratched his head and looked down to the cracked sidewalk. " wanted to show show you." He shoved his hands into his pockets. "We can go, I just - you know, I..."
"Yeah," Liz just nodded her head in understanding. And both were quiet . Was it possible that for the first time since he had picked her up in Massachusetts that they weren't exchanging insults or biting comments and they weren't yelling at each other?
"It's not as bad as it looks," Max repeated and Liz just laughed.
"Yeah, it has to be pretty good if it put up with you for eighteen years," she elbowed him in the chest.
"Ye-ah," he stretched out the word and laughed dryly then continued walking towards the high school. He stopped along the way to show her where he had once plaed Little League and the bus stop where he had used to take the bus to work every afternoon. By the time they arrived at Midland Lee High School Liz's head was full of more stories about Max's childhood and teenage years than she cared to know - including the spot of his very first French kiss and the place where he had once leaked spinal fluid onto the concrete when he had been smashed in the nose with a line drive.
Midland Lee was an enormous school compared to West Roswell and the football spirit was everywhere despite the fact that it was basketball season. Everything proclaimed the Rebels and all their athletic - mainly football - achievements and the schools past glories hung where no one could miss them.
"Those are my two championship teams," Max motioned to two team pictures behind the glass showcase.
"Where are you?" Liz strained her eyes to find Max's visage among the maroon and white uniforms.
"Oh, you probably can't see me - I was kinda small then," he dismissed.
"Like you aren't now," she laughed, looking at Max's 6'0 stature.
"I'm not that small," he mumbled indignantly.
"You couldn't have been that small then either..." Liz suddenly realized. "You didn't say you were an All American," she eyed his name on an All-America plaque.
"Yeah, I had a lotta picks that year," he seemed to be going someplace else as he looked over all the pictures and names. Liz just kept quiet as his eyes scanned over them all and he mumbled to himself about where all the former teammates were now playing.
"What do they think about you...not playing?" she asked boldly. He heard what she had asked loud and clear, Liz knew he had, but he didn't respond. "What do they think about -" she started to repeat herself, but Max turned his back on the glass and on her.
"Nothin'," he murmured.
"What? Max - "
"Nothin', it doesn't matter - just shutup!" he snapped.
"What is with you?" Liz laughed at how quickly he had changed moods.
"What's with you?" he fired back. "You're one to talk, at least I showed you my high school!"
"Max, I told you why I'm not taking you to Roswell," Liz rolled her eyes. "If people see me with some random -"
"Right, you think I want people to see me with you?" he spit right back at her and the comment stung no matter how much Liz wanted to pretend it didn't. What was happening to her? Days ago that comment wouldn't have bothered her. "I thought maybe if I..." he began to say something but dismissed the thought and just shook his head.
"What?" Liz prodded at him.
"Nothing forget about it," Max just laughed and started walking for the exit.
"No, you were going to say something - say it. You thought what?" she demanded.
"I thought to myself..." Max turned to face her and she saw his eyes darken. "I thought - what the hell am I doing with you?"
"That's not what you were going to say," Liz just laughed it off and followed after him. She bothered him the entire way back to his truck, trying to get him to reveal what he had begun to say but he refused to tell her. He refused to tell her because it was a stupid thing to say. It was stupid to even think about prying into her life when he had so many secrets he had yet to tell her. So many secrets that she wasn't bothering him about. "So we're just going straight to Las Cruces?" Liz asked looking at the clock that read 8:08 PM.
"Nah, I think I'll make a detour through Roswell," Max stated cooly and he saw her face go ashen at the comment.
"No, you're not," she just laughed at the idea.
"Yeah, I am - I've never been to Roswell I'd like to see it," he said calmly as he made his way onto interstate 20.
"No, you're not," she stated again, worried as he switched into the right lane. "You're not going to Roswell," she gave a worried look to a road sign that gave mileage to Roswell. They were less than four hours away.
"Oh, I'll make you," she laughed though she didn't crack a smile. "Max, I don't know if you're kidding, but I'm serious don't go to Roswell," she warned.
"What'll you do if I go?"
"Let's just say you'll be sleeping in the truck a lot of nights," she laughed and finally they both cracked a smile and the heaviness that had been present between them since the high school finally cleared away. He paused a moment before asking his next question. Careful to put it in as non-threatening and friendly a manner as he could so she wouldn't snap at him. Taking a deep breath he turned his head to look at Liz and at the seven piercings in her ears and the tiny hoop above her eye, at the faded old jean jacket she was curled up in over in the passenger seat. The jacket that belonged to him. And he asked her the question he had wanted to ask for days.
"What's so bad about Roswell?"
[ edited 3 time(s), last at 16-Jul-2002 4:34:51 PM ]
|posted on 15-Jun-2002 6:56:33 PM by kippy|
"Some other time, Max," Liz murmured sleepily, closing her eyes as she leaned back against the window. "Some other time."
"Yeah," Max sighed with one hand on the steering wheel and the other hanging out the window as the warm desert air whipped against his face. Like he actually expected her to answer. Like he actually expected her to actually tell him anything about her life. Recognizing her desire to sleep as she pulled out his jacket and rested her head against the window, Max flicked off the radio and focused back on the road. Who was he to press her for details when he still had so many skeletons in his closet?
She was out like a light in no time at all and the three-hour drive to Las Cruces passed in complete silence. He kept looking over at her during the drive, no matter how hard he tried not to. She looked so peaceful all curled up in the passenger seat; he felt bad at what she was getting herself into. Her words from the hotel room echoed in his head. I want to know you, let me in. He couldn't. It wouldn't be fair to her to let her in, to let her into his life. Even though things had been pretty calm recently, Max knew it was only a matter of time. He hadn't had to run for quite some time, though he knew that was probably because he had hardly stopped moving the past two months. He knew from experience that it was only a matter of time before they caught up.
Max took extra special care not to disturb her as they arrived at Las Cruces and a Roadside Motel. With all the thoughts dancing around in his head, he tried his hardest not to disturb her as he carried her to the bed and tucked her in. Only when Max had tried to remove his jean jacket from around her did she stir. Letting it remain there he took a seat in the armchair next to the window and planned out the next few days like he always had to do. Except since he picked up Liz he seemed to forget that, seemed to forget that he wasn't at all who Liz thought he was. Just some sketchy former football star, a college dropout who took to life on the road. Was that really what she thought of him? He looked over at her peaceful form beneath the sheets. God, he hadn't realized just how tiny she was. She looked so small and fragile when she was asleep.
Shaking his head, Max brought himself back to the task at hand. He would finalize the delivery tomorrow, but then what was he supposed to do? The sheets rustled and Liz shifted slightly in the bed. What were they supposed to do?
"What are you thinking about?" her voice suddenly filled the room, jerking Max's head up.
"Shhh - go back to sleep," he murmured, looking back out the window.
"What're you doing over there?" she sat up, sleepily looking around the hotel room she didn't even remember entering. The last thing she remembered they had been pulling out of Midland. Putting the pieces together she looked to Max. "We're in Las Cruces?" He just nodded his head. "Thanks for - " she rubbed her eyes, but Max just shook his head.
"No problem - just get some sleep," he insisted.
"Where're we going tomorrow?" she asked curiously.
"I - don't know," Max sighed.
"Well, aren't we going to - that place," she yawned, stretching out across the bed, "-in California or Oregon or whatever - "
"Yeah, yeah - we can do that," Max mumbled again, remaining in the chair.
"What're you doing over there?" Liz asked again, a smile creeping up on her face.
"Nothing," he insisted.
"Get some sleep," Liz patted the empty mattress next to her.
"Yeah, in a bit...I'm just...thinking."
"Don't think so much, Max," she yawned before dropping back down onto the pillow and drifting back off to sleep. If only it were that easy, Max thought. He always had to be thinking, always had to be a step ahead. More than a step ahead, that's what he had spent the past two years doing. That's what Lucas Duchaigne was about. Being a few steps ahead. That's why Michael and Isabelle were living on a remote fishing island off the coast of Canada. Being a few steps ahead. But she could never know all that, he looked to Liz sleeping serenely, facing Max's empty pillow with his jean jacket wrapped around her. Just as long as he stayed a few steps ahead, they would be okay.
He slept soundly, well past when Liz woke up, proving all too well how much had had needed that sleep. Liz was perfectly content just to watch him sleep and when his eyes finally fluttered open, she was staring right at him with a peaceful smile.
"Morning, sleepy," she gently brushed the hair off his forehead. "I got you some coffee, but it's probably cold by now."
"Thanks..." Max replied groggily. "What time is it?"
"Little past eleven."
"What?" he exclaimed, suddenly springing to life. "I need to get the delivery in by twelve!" he jumped out of bed. "Why didn't you wake me up?"
"I didn't know!" Liz sat up defensively. Max just shook his head and tried to get his things together as quickly as possible.
"You know..." She bit her lip and hugged her knees to her chest. "That was the first time I've ever...just slept with a guy," she confessed, but Max couldn't care less.
"Congratulations," he huffed, jerking on his pants. Liz just sat there, trying to pretend she wasn't hurt by his abruptness. "Let's go," he grabbed his keys and headed for the door. Liz was still sitting up in the bed with her knees hugged to her chest.
"I haven't even showered," she could hardly understand why he was being so short.
"You'll have to shower later, hurry up."
"What's the matter with you?"
"Nothing - I have to get this delivery in, let's go."
"You have plenty of time," Liz glanced at her watch, "what is your deal-"
"We have to go," Max insisted again and Liz slowly made her way out of the bed. The slightest bit hurt by his reaction to her personal confession, she wasn't exactly speedy as she gathered up her things and changed clothes. "You better brush your teeth," she told him as she took her sweet time doing just that.
"Liz - "
"I cannot deal with morning breath," she informed him and before she could even dry her face, Max grabbed her bags and her hand and pulled her out the door.
It had been a test. The twelve o'clock delivery had been real, but the urgency at leaving the motel and getting on the road had been a test. A test to see how quickly she could gather her things and leave, no questions asked. Because leaving at the slightest send of something askew was Max's life. And whether she was willing to or not, she had already gotten herself involved
in that. But right now she was just confused and staring lifelessly out the window as they blazed through Nevada.
"Look, I'm sorry about this morning," he broke the stale silence in the cab. "I just don't like to be late, but I'm -I'm sorry." She slowly turned her head to him.
"You're such a schizo," was all she said, glaring at him. "One minute you're tucking me in bed, the next you're yelling at me, then you look like a - lost puppy, then you're a complete prick - and the whole Lucas Duchaigne/Max thing is just -"
"Yeah, I guess I owe you an explanation about that, huh?"
"Yeah, I'd say," she crossed her arms, but Max just sighed.
"Some other time," he murmured, echoing her response the other day when he had worked up the nerve to ask her about Roswell, proving that things were hardly normal as long as so many secrets still existed between them.
It was a slower drive than it should have been through to the California/Oregon border. Or at least it felt longer. Max was hardly relieved to pull down the familiar gravel driveway, but at least when he was driving she slept. Curled up in the corner, always with his jean jacket around her. Just looking at her peacefully resting he knew he couldn't tell her. Telling her would put her in a world of risk. When he'd picked her up off I-95 she had been a seemingly carefree, independent girl. He could see she was changing from that though every day she spent with him. Comments that he made hurt her more than they would have days ago and she was hardly
so quick to insult him.
"This is it," Max parked the rig in a large gravel pit next to the enormous garage. Liz looked around at the peculiar setup nestled in the woods. The gravel pit where another rig was also parked was behind a quaint little two-story cottage and the garage looked more like it belonged in downtown New York than it did nestled in the woods.
"What is this place?" Liz asked as Max helped her down from the truck. The days of no sleep were finally beginning to catch up to her and although the sun was beaming down through the trees and it was about four o'clock in the afternoon she rubbed her eyes.
"It's a company place," Max shrugged. "Guys leave their rigs, take their cars between jobs and the house is for - "
"So someone's here now?" Liz looked at the other rig.
"No," Max laughed. "Most guys just take their cars and go, they blow their money or go to their family-I just -"
"I want to see your car!" Liz latched onto his arm in excitement, seeming to forget how tired she was and the hours of awkwardness in the truck.
"Alright -cabin probably needs food anyway," Max walked to the dusty keypad on the side of the garage, punching numbers in as the door slowly opened. There were about four cars inside, some covered with tarps, some not and Liz looked around eagerly trying to figure out which one was Max's.
"Ooooh, is that it?" Liz looked at a beat up red Chevy pickup and Max just shook his head. "What about this?" she pulled the cover off a pale blue Caprice Classic.
"No way," Max laughed while Liz ran to an aging army green jeep.
"This is it, isn't it? I figured you for a jeep guy - "
"That's not it," Max walked to the corner and jerked off a tarp to reveal a sleek black Suzuki Katana 750.
"That's a motorcycle," Liz looked at him strangely.
"Yeah, I know," Max nodded his head, wiping off the seat.
"You said you had a car," she scrunched her face up at him.
"Car, bike, same thing," he shrugged. "You don't like it, I'll go to town myself," Max started to wheel it out of the garage, grabbing a helmet and dusting it off. Liz watched as he straddled the bike and pulled on the helmet. Things just got more and more fascinating with Max it seemed. A motorcycle definitely made him more interesting.
"Wait!" she grabbed his arm before he could start the bike. "Iv'e never been on a bike before," a tiny smile came across her face and Max actually laughed.
"You've never been on a motorcycle?" he flipped up his visor. "I find that hard to believe."
"I swear I never have," Liz fidgeted nervously as she eyed the bike carefully. There was room for two. Max smiled and handed her a helmet.
What began as a simple trip to pick up groceries turned into much more. Liz didn't really know what to expect. She had been on a snowmobile once back in a ski trip in the tenth grade, but that didn't even compare. And all the people she'd ever seen on the back of a bike seemed to be relaxed as they comfortably held onto the driver's waist. With Max's streamlined bike he was leaning forward so much that she was far from a loose grip around his waist. She was pressed tightly against him and tightly gripping his whole body. Though she vowed to never admit it to Max, in the beginning she had been the slightest bit scared just plopped onto the back there holding onto him. So she held Max so closely, but the tighter she held him the faster he would go and the lower to the ground around the turns.
He speeded through the forest, past horse pastures and gurgling brooks, right through the tiny town of New Pine Creek, right past the grocery store and back into the countryside. It was the most exhilarating experience of her life and after an hour of cruising with no stop at the store yet, he finally slowed to a halt and they collapsed into a field. Liz's chest was heaving as she all but tumbled off the back of Max's bike.
"I...am so glad...you don't have a car," she heaved, looking over at him from her spot in the grass.
"You like it?" Max laughed, climbing off the bike and laying down next to her and Liz could only nod her head.
"Except when you were trying to scare me in the beginning," she turned her head to him and pushed him with her foot.
"I wasn't trying to scare you," he tried to pretend, but he had never been much of a liar.
"Right, you just wanted to take those turns as low as you possibly could for the fun of it," she poked him again with her foot.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he lowered his back down into the grass and Liz wiggled over to him and placed her mouth over his. Her head still spun when she thought about it. If someone had told her a week ago that she would be lying in a field somewhere in Oregon with a tall, dark and handsome young man she had an uncanny attraction towards she would never have believed it. Max moved his arms around her and tasted her for the first time in quite a while, but when she eventually moved for his pants he quickly withdrew.
"What?" Liz asked her voice full of confusion, moving for him again.
"No, we can't,' he told her breathlessly.
"Why, Max, I - "
"I don't know what could happen," Max confessed honestly another of the many things he had spent last night thinking about. What could happen to her as a result of their union a third time.
"What do you mean, I'm... I have something - "
"No, it's - I just don't know what - "
"Why, do you keep saying - what, Max, do you have a... is something - are you sick?" Liz's face turned ashen at the thought.
"No, it's just," he faltered, trying to figure how to get out of this. Beads of sweat formed on his brow. "I just - I don't know - I mean. I want to, but I don't - "
"What's the matter?" she sat up and crossed her legs beneath her, as if to tell him she was ready to be serious. She was ready to talk to him about whatever was wrong. Max remained down in the grass, looking about as miserable as Liz imagined a person could look.
"I just can't," he mumbled and Liz fought off the urge to ask him further.
"Well, I mean I kind of just liked sleeping with you the other night," she picked at the grass in front of her and though she was telling the truth, she hardly seemed
pleased about the prospect that lay in front of them.
"Yeah," Max mumbled sounding none too pleased either.
"Does this mean like - ever?" she asked, not all that willing to be chaste the rest of her life. Not all that willing considering the memories still vivid in her mind of the two nights with Max.
"I don't know," Max looked to her and finally laughed. "I hope not."
And then Max found they were living together in the little cottage supplied by the B-Right Trucking Company. They spent ever day and night together. She prepared breakfast and dinner and went about cleaning the cottage, draped in one of his t-shirts, cuddling up to him like she was an angel, but the next moment she could be interrogating him and jumping down his throat. It was the most peculiar three days of his life and thinking about how it all started, it was the
strangest and most peculiar week of his life. More often than not her actions and words just confused him. Like informing him how she used to be a waitress and the next moment saying how she had never actually held a job of her own before; telling him how she hardly knew him and had yet to tell him anything truly private, but revealing mere moments before the time, place and person to whom she'd lost her virginity; telling him she preferred brunettes over blondes, then telling him he wasn't her type at all. But as strange as her manner was around the cottage, as much as they could fight and argue about the secrets both of them kept, every afternoon they spent together on his bike. Eventually he even let her drive it for a bit. Things were going about as well as they could, although Max's confession in the field made for some frustrating nights between them.
And then Max overheard the news that he was no longer a step ahead and that men claiming to be FBI were in town.
He had all but choked on his burger as he overheard the talk at the counter. He had gulped down the rest of his food then and impatiently waited for Liz to finish hers, then he had put the Oregon St hat back low on his, pulled it far down over his eyes and taken her hand.
"We have to go."
"What's the rush? We haven't even p-" but Max slapped down a twenty before she could finish. "That's a big tip for a ten dollar meal," she commented, but Max just sighed and looked around warily.
"They deserve it."
The entire ride back to the cottage Max was thinking. Thinking about how they had found him out, but more importantly how Liz would react when he told her they had to leave. It's what his test had been for before, but the test hadn't gone so well and he'd even had something to go on then. He didn't even stop the bike, he told Liz to gather her things together and to grab his always-duffle because they had to go.
"What like an overnight?" she laughed in confusion.
"No, we're leaving."
"What are you talking about? I'm not going anywhere, I like it here," she laughed. She liked playing house here with Max. She liked pretending they were both normal.
"Look, we need to go, okay? Just get your shit and -" Liz had never seen Max look so panicked before but that didn't stop her from arguing.
"What do you just say when and where I go? You have to do everything, I can't think for myself? You decide - "
"No, it's not like that - we just have to go -" Max looked behind, down the driveway worriedly.
"No, not until you tell me what's going -"
"Dammit, Liz!" Max turned off the bike and ran into the cottage to grab everything himself. "Why do you always have to talk about something - you can never just do it!"
"No, not if you don't tell me why!"
"We just have to leave, it's not safe to stay here," Max grabbed her last articles of clothing littered around the floor and threw them into her bag.
"Stop, Max, I'm not going anywhere, you're acting crazy."
"I'm not crazy, just trust me," his panicked eyes finally settled on her. "Just trust me, let's go," taking her hand Max raced back to the bike and climbed on then cussed loudly and got back up, running to the truck and grabbing a handful of papers from the glove compartment and a pocket knife then racing back to Liz and the bike. "Say goodbye, 'cos we're not coming back," he told her as he put down the visor of his helmet and the bike roared to life.
Zipping away down back roads before reaching the interstate, it felt oddly like Liz to a getaway. As they stopped at a traffic light Max up his visor and motioned for her to do the same.
"Where do you want to go?"
"Where's the one place you've always wanted to go?" he asked as the light turned yellow.
"I don't know, the moon, what are you talking about?"
"Fine," Max shrugged, slapping down his visor and continuing on. And Liz had hours to figure out what Max was talking about, but for the time being all she could do was hold him.
Where were they going? More importantly why were they going? She clung to Max as he drove faster than he ever had before. He definitely seemed to have a destination in mind. He was driving somewhere she could tell, he seemed to be on a mission. But this was an ungodly amount of time to spend on a bike, to spend holding onto Max, not that she didn't love having her arms around him. But it was too much and she squeezed him somewhere in the woods of whatever state they were in to let him know.
"What's the matter?" he flipped up his visor pulling over to the side of the stretch of highway.
"I'm tired, Max," she sighed.
"You want to drive for a while?" he proposed innocently.
"No, Max. I want to take a break," she told him honestly.
"We can't take a break, not for a couple of hours," he looked behind at the open stretch of highway nervously.
"Why not? We can just - just rest over here for a bit," Liz looked off into the woods. "No one will see us, I promise."
"Liz, no. Trust me, we have to keep going for a bit more-here, you drive," he suggested.
"I don't know where I'm going,' she moaned as Max stood up and Liz slid forward in the seat.
"It's okay, we can just go straight for a while on this road."
"Like, there's any other direction to go," she rolled her eyes at the stretch of highway that seemed endless. It felt like they'd been driving on it forever. "Max, where are we??"
"Montana," he assured her as he threaded his arms around her body and she tried to pretend like she wasn't affected by his touch. What the hell were they doing in Montana? "Max -" she started to protest, and he propped his head on her shoulder.
"Can you hold up for a couple more hours?" he asked and with both their visors up she could feel his breath hot on her cheek. Max didn't know why he was asking her. Whether she could or not they would keep going.
"Yeah," she sighed, turning her head around to face him. "Are you going to tell me what this is all about?" Max lifted his feet off the ground and tightened his grip around her waist, signalling her to get moving.
Darkness fell and Max made her keep going. No signs of civilization not even another car passed by on the bleak stretch of highway. Eventually Liz got off and made Max drive some more.
"I thought you said we were almost there," she whimpered as she stepped off to let him slide to the front.
"We are," he assured, reaching around to rub her thigh. He knew she had to be cold. It was chillier than he expected and a black cloud had been following them the entire time, threatening rain. And just when Liz was beginning to think Max really had no destination in mind, just when she was considering making him stop for a real interrogation about what all this was about she detected a building on the horizon and he started to slow down. And peering over his right shoulder she saw a sign that just made her laugh.
WELCOME TO MOON, MONTANA! Population 101
For a town with a population of one hundred and one, Moon had a nice little downtown. There was a rundown little gas station, a general store, a barbershop and a little diner a big neon sign designated as The Moon. There weren't many people in 'town' as it was close to seven thirty, but a man filling up his pickup truck could only look strangely as the two on the motorcycle pulled up to The Moon. He made no effort to stop staring and neither did anyone inside the little diner.
The entire town of Moon must have been inside because there wasn't a seat open for Max and Liz, but they hardly seemed to mind.
"You are unbelievable," she laughed, tugging on his arm as they waited for a booth to open for them, doing her best to ignore the stares. "How did you even know this place existed?" She found it unbelievable that from her errant comment back in Oregon about going to the moon
he had been able to get her here.
"I've passed through a couple times making deliveries to Helena," he shrugged and she just shook her head in disbelief.
"You are all over the place, huh?" she turned to face him, tugging him towards her by his belt loop. "Canada, New Mexico, Texas, Montana..." her voice drifted as she captured his lips briefly. It was exactly what she wanted. In the past week she had gone from Massachusetts to Canada to Texas, Oregon and now Montana.
"Yeah," Max hardly sounded thrilled about it. If only she knew why he was so all over the place. She kissed him again just as a waitress stepped over to the two of them.
"Is it just the two of y'all?" the women asked, chomping on gum as she looked at the two of them. The boy in the black hat and goatee and the girl with the eyebrow ring, apparent tongue ring and ears full of hoops. People like them didn't pass through Moon too often.
"Yeah," Liz pulled Max forward and the two of them followed the waitress to a little booth conveniently located where customers in the diner could gape at them some more. "Is it me or do you get the feeling we're being looked at?"
"Well, you don't exactly blend," Max laughed as Liz's hand went up to the stud way up on her ear with a smile. Max could see through the front window a group of teenagers eyeing his motorcycle curiously. "They better not touch it," he murmured and no sooner had he said it then a small kid no more than eight jumped on the back of it. Max rolled his eyes and got to his feet, but knowing perfectly well what it was like to grow up in a small town and be enamored by every single unique stranger that passed through, Liz grabbed his arm.
"Let them go, Max, they're not going to do anything," she assured him, but his eyes looked uncertain.
"It costs a helluva lot to fix, they better not," he sipped his water and Liz looked at the sleek, red motorcycle curiously.
"How long have you had it?"
"Little over a year." He seemed to be going over the time in his head. Had it really only been that long? It seemed so much longer.
"What did you have before?" she inquired and Max told her a black Ford Bronco that had been totaled in a crash up at Oregon State. And then she asked what it had been like at the university, what his roommate had been like, what classes he had taken. He quickly turned the tables on her and much to his surprise, she answered them. Dinner at The Moon was over before they both knew and the kids scattered as they made their way back to the bike. The conversation didn't stop though. Liz learned quickly his motorcycle could go off road too and once they reached the farms on the outskirts of town, Max turned down one of the dusty dirt roads. Plopping the motorcycle against a giant hay stack, they continued to talk as they walked down the road and through the pastureland of a Moon resident.
"So what's the deal with the running from the law?" Liz asked suddenly, straying away from the relatively innocent conversation and climbing up on top of an old rickety stagecoach. "Or whatever it is you're running from? What are you like a felon?" Max couldn't help but notice that Liz didn't sound all that turned off by the prospect.
"No, no...I didn't - I'm not a criminal," he mumbled, tilting back his head and looking up at the stars overhead. "I never broke the law."
"So - what? Why?"
Max just sighed and looked over at Liz. At Liz who, for some reason, was still here with him. Here goes nothing. What did he have to lose? Where was she going to go? The town of Moon didn't even have a police station.
"I'm uh - I'm not really from Midland, Texas, Liz - I'm I uh ...the reason I don't have parents is because...."
"What?" Liz edged closer to him, desperate for the confession she had been seeking the past week.
"I'm an alien," Max shrugged his shoulders and awaited her response. He expected a scream, maybe some serious denial, or for her to run. But when he looked over at Liz, all he saw was her doubled over in laughter.
"Pretty good, Max," she looked at him with a broad smile, still clutching her sides with laughter. "That's funny...I thought you were really going to..."
"Yeah," Max just joined in the laughter, laughing at himself for actually thinking she'd believe him.
"Pretty funny," she leaned against his shoulder and joined him in looking up at the stars. "Aliens..." Liz chuckled, lying down on her back. "I've had enough of aliens to last the rest of my life."
"Yeah, Roswell," he sighed, joining her on his back, and Liz just laughed some more.
[ edited 4 time(s), last at 16-Jul-2002 4:29:24 PM ]
|posted on 21-Jun-2002 8:48:04 PM by kippy|
Eight-year-old Chester McMillan wasn’t sure what to make of the two people asleep in his backyard. He had spotted the motorcycle first, the same one that he had climbed onto last night after dinner, there in the field behind his house, partially hidden beneath the hay. It was just calling to him, saying 'Chester, get on me', just like it had last night. So, taking care not to disturb the strangers fast asleep in each other’s arms, Chester cleared the hay off the motorcycle and struggled to stand it upright.
"Dammit, Chester, what the hell are you doing?" a voice suddenly bellowed from behind the barn.
"Robbie, Shhh!!" Chester quieted down his older brother as he struggled with the motorcycle some more. "Look, I'm going to ride in the Indy 500!!" the boy exclaimed as he managed to plop on top of the bike again.
"Indy 500's for cars, dufus," Robbie yanked at his brother. "Now get down off that, where'd you get it?"
"It's the two people from The Moon," the boy motioned from his perch on top of the motorcycle to the guy and girl asleep right around the haystack.
"What the hell you talking about Chester? What people?"
"The girl with the…" the eight-year-old motioned with his grubby little hands to his eyebrow. Robbie just grabbed the boy, six years his junior, by the collar.
"Dammit, Chester - they're squatters, get back in the house…" He attempted to haul the curious little boy back to the farmhouse, the slightest bit wary of the two young people everyone in the town already had labeled as heavy drug users, criminals and renegades.
A bundle of fur suddenly came flying at the two brothers and Robbie relinquished his grip on his little brother to quiet down the dog. The black and white Border collie ignored the two boys and headed straight for the haystack.
"Otto, no! Otto, come back!" Robbie whispered to get the dog back, trying desperately not to awake the two shady characters who had just happened to choose his family's backyard as a place to stay for the night.
"What the - " the girl awoke first and Robbie froze, clamping his hand over his little brother's mouth. It appeared to Robbie like the girl needed to take a moment to realize her surroundings – figure out where she was, why she was here, whom she was with. Then something seemed to click in her mind. Not the dog barking furiously right in front of her, but the absence of something else. "Max," she started shaking her companion in an attempt to rouse him from sleep. "Max, wake up! Wake up, the bike's gone!" The dark-haired boy with the goatee slowly opened up his eyes.
"What?" he grunted as he propped himself up on his elbows.
"Your bike – didn't you leave it right there?" the girl with the eyebrow ring grabbed at her partner. "It's gone, how the hell are we gonna get out of here?" No sooner were the words out of her mouth then whispers and a loud crash suddenly sounded and Max sprang to his feet.
"What the hell's going on?" Any signs of sleep suddenly seemed to fade away.
"I told you, your bike - " Liz started to inform him again and Max shut her up.
"Stay here." He ordered, slowly making his way to where his bike was collapsed out in the open, far from where he had hid it last night. He took a few steps towards it and stopped in his tracks, listening carefully then peering to the large building to his right, where the two boys were huddled in fear, eyes clinched shut in anticipation of what was to come. Slowly and silently, Max crept around to the shed.
"What are you doing?" he finally demanded and both boys screamed loudly as he jerked them to their feet.
"We didn't mean to I swear, he just liked it and – we weren't trying to take it, I swear!" the older one cried out and if Max didn't know any better he would have thought the boy was about to cry. "We were just going in for breakfast, please don't hurt us!" Max had never seen anyone so terrified before. God, it looked like the kid was about to piss himself.
"Relax," Max released them both and turned around to Liz, who had crept out from behind the haystack to investigate the situation. With the tiniest motion of his head, she was at his side with helmet, bag and jacket. "You live here?" he turned back to the two boys who were still watching in wonder as Liz took her seat on the bike behind him. Both boys just gave minute nods of the head and the bike roared to life. "Thanks for the haystack." And they were gone.
The town of Moon would talk about Max and Liz for years to come. Chester and Robbie would tell time and time again of their run-in that May morning with the Bonnie and Clyde duo. They still remembered vividly everything about them, the hard lines of the guy's face, the color of his eyes, how tall he was. And for Max that was the last thing he needed.
"Way to be all badass back there," Liz laughed as she and Max finally settled to a stop, well outside the town of Moon. "Thanks for the haystack," she imitated, but Max was too angry to respond to her comment.
"We never should have spent the night there," he jerked the helmet off and ran his hands through his hair.
"What's the big deal? You're the one who picked the damn haystack," Liz shrugged.
"I wouldn't have if I had known the house was right there," Max rubbed his eyes and Liz just laughed some more.
"What are you afraid they got a good look at you?" she teased, but the look on Max's face made the smile quickly drop from Liz's. There was a moment's quiet between them before she spoke again. "You're really running from something, aren't you?" she was serious now, but he didn't nod his head; he didn't do anything. She pressed her body against his then, resting her chin on his shoulder and Max waited for the inevitable question to come. What are you running from or why are you running? But neither question came. Much like he had accepted her hesitancy to talk to him about Roswell, she seemed to have accepted that she would never learn his mystery. "Okay." Was all she said, her voice muffled into his shirt and he just started the bike up again. "Where we going?" she asked curiously.
"Corvallis," he seemed deep in thought, but Liz ignored it.
"Corvallis isn't that in…isn't that in Oregon? Why do we want to go back to Oregon, we just came from there?" Liz asked in confusion. Oregon was the place they had fled from in such a hurry. Why on earth would they want to go back? Max just sighed loudly as he turned the bike back around. No more secrets. He couldn't do this anymore; there was no way he could.
"I have to show you something."
As much as Liz liked Max's motorcycle, she hated it for one very large reason. They couldn't talk. Not like they could in his truck before, and they couldn't listen to music. There was nothing occupying her mind except the thoughts swirling around about Max. About whatever he was doing, whatever he could possible be running from. All she could do was think about him as they rode on and on through miserable little town after miserable little town. Sometimes a McDonalds would pop up, maybe if they were lucky a Friendly's. For the most part though they all looked like replicas of Moon until they finally reached a stretch of outlet stores, mini malls and fast food.
By that point it was well into the day and the sun had already reached it’s high point in the sky and was on it's descent. There were traffic lights and intersections; this was all out for Montana. Hell, it was the most civilization she'd seen in days. She wondered if they were in Oregon yet and looked around anxiously for any indications as to where they were as they puttered along between stoplights. She eyed a billboard up ahead with a big picture of what appeared to be a hawk and a baseball. What kind of weird ass state am I in? She wondered to herself and before she could read the writing on the billboard Max read it aloud.
"Missoula Osprey Baseball…cool," he nodded his head and Liz had to smile at the remark, squeezing him tightly. He reminded her of her dad on road trips, thinking everything they passed from a cactus farm to a homegrown vegetable stand was incredible. "You want to see if they're playing a game?" he was surprisingly upbeat, his mood vastly different from his mood at the Friendly's they’d stopped at four counties back.
"I've never been to a baseball game," Liz shrugged her shoulders, not sounding all that enthused. "It's so…stupid and boring."
"Well, how do you know that if you've never gone?" Max turned around to face her just as the light turned.
"I don't want to go to a baseball game," she protested, but she knew it was a lost cause.
Liz wondered where Max kept pulling money out of his pocket – for hotels, for meals, now for a baseball game. She was honestly beginning to think he had his life savings with him wherever he went. Max seemed to be genuinely excited about the baseball game as they took their seats behind third base.
"This is kind of cool, huh?" he looked around at the rowdy Osprey fans, many decked out head to toe in support of the minor league baseball team.
"Yeah, I didn't think this many people lived in Montana," Liz replied deadpan and Max cocked his head.
"You don't think this is fun?" he inquired as if any negative answer would be unfathomable.
"I'm trying to contain my excitement," Liz responded and Max frowned.
"Do you want anything to eat?" he shrugged his shoulders as he looked at the vendors going up and down the aisles. "A hot dog or a…a pop or something?"
"What is this your sad attempt at a date?"
"What?" Max was genuinely taken aback by her spiteful comment.
"Like some pathetic effort to make this normal between us…'cos it's just – it's so not -"
"I thought you didn't like normal?" he brought back her words from the hotel outside St. Louis and he could tell he'd caught her off guard with the comment. She didn't have her usual venom behind her response, not the same confidence or poise.
"I don't," she stated plainly, not entirely sure why she had just attacked Max. Max was pretty sure he knew why though. She was losing her edge. That bitterness and hostility that she seemed to have when she'd first gotten into his truck, it was fading fast. He had still seen hints and tiny glimpses of it back at the cabin in Oregon, but the façade that she seemed to have built up around her was peeling away and was practically gone. He knew he was so close to seeing the real Liz Parker, and he knew that for some reason that scared her. That's why she was biting back, with whatever weak attempt she could. Looking at her out of the corner of his eye, Max flagged down a hot dog vendor and shelled out the money for two.
"Here," he just handed it to her; ready for any comment she might throw at him, but she was silent. She didn't take it from him. She just slumped back against the plastic seat and focused her eyes ahead. On the first baseman, on anything but Max. It was like she couldn't make herself look at him. Was it anger or was it something else? Max couldn't help but wonder. He knew better than to ask what was wrong so he just set the hot dog down on her lap.
"I don't want it!" she shoved it off her lap and onto the ground. Max just folded his hands in his lap and gave up, focusing his eyes on the game. She'd talk when she wanted to; she'd clue him in whenever she wanted to.
He wondered how long the silence could last. Through nine innings of baseball and the thirty-minute trek to a hotel where they both could have a much-needed shower. He was ready for the quips and the jabs about his selection of hotel, maybe some wisecrack about how much fun she hadn't had at the baseball game, maybe an angry inquiry about what they were doing going back to Oregon. He wasn't ready for the silence though. And truth be told, he didn't know if he could deal with it.
"You can shower first, if you want?" he offered, motioning towards the bathroom. Liz just remained on the bed. "If you're not going to I will," he got to his feet, but Liz remained silent. It was the first real shower he'd had in days and he stayed in until his skin wrinkled and the bathroom resembled a sauna. When he returned back to the hotel room Liz was still sitting on the bed. Her legs were tucked into her chest now though and the TV was on. Drying his hair, Max peered around to see what she had on. It was some wildlife show about wolverines or badgers or something that she had on mute. Max just continued on with his routine, pulling out a map and looking over what tomorrow held. "It should take like four hours to get to Corvallis, no more," he traced the route with his finger, not sure why he was telling her, knowing full well she wouldn't respond. She, of course didn't, and letting out a loud sigh, Max just folded up the map and prepared for a much-desired night of sleep in the twin bed Liz wasn't resting on. Something told him they certainly wouldn't be sharing a bed tonight.
"There's nothing bad about Roswell," she suddenly broke the silence, but now it was Max's turn to be silent. He just stood there, not turning around to face her, not doing anything. "There's nothing in Roswell," she shrugged and of all things let out a tiny laugh. "That's my secret." Max finally turned around to face her to see that she was backed up against the headboard now, still hugging her knees to her chest. She knew that didn't explain anything though and so she just laughed again. "I've been acting like I've got some big conspiracy down there with the aliens or something, but…" her eyes were focused downward so she didn't see the brief flash in Max's eyes at her joke. "It's nothing like that…It's more that nothing happens in Roswell, no one changes, and no one tries to change. Everyone just seems content with…with nothing. There's these words…to this song that I listened to in the tenth grade and it just – it made me think. Why be happy just with…living, you know?" Max wasn't sure he did, this was hardly the confession he expected, and he remained silent. "Why just follow out the path that's obvious? Why wait for something better instead of going out and trying to find it? I don't know how, but I know I want out…those are the words," Liz laughed, thinking back to when she'd made the decision that she wanted out. Not just of Roswell, but of her life.
"What's the name of the song?" Max finally asked.
"Clarity," she said the word like it was holy or something. "That's what it gave me, you know – it just made things so clear. The life I wanted and the life I didn't, the life I wanted to stay away from."
"That's why you don't want to go back to Roswell," he said the words slowly, trying to make sense of this enigma of a girl.
"I don't want to remember what I was there," she shrugged.
"What's that? Smart, valedictorian-type, dating the football quarterback, always listens to her parents, never hitchhikes?" he raised his eyebrows.
"No, it's not just what I was, Max!" she threw back her head. "It's like I was settling for something that I realized I didn't really want – you know, I wanted more."
"So you went to New York." The pieces started to come together for him and she just nodded her head furiously. "But New York wasn't what I thought…I mean the people were, they were – some of them were kind of out there, did what they wanted, but they still seemed to just…" she lolled back her head and collapsed on the bed, apparently emotionally drained from revealing so much. "And then you came along."
"Me?" Max sounded like that was the most absurd thing he'd ever heard.
"You're just…" Liz sat up suddenly on the bed. So much for being spent, she was practically glowing now; her eyes sparkled like Max hadn't ever seen them. "You make your own rules, you just…go anywhere," she waved her hand around enthusiastically.
"I go where my job takes me, I hate to disappoint you," he shrugged.
"You know that's a load of crap – you have that job for a reason, I know you do," she shook her head. "You put in to go to Canada to go see whoever that – Michael, whatever his name was." Max swallowed and looked around the room. "You're different, Max. You're different from anybody I've ever met before." Max's head spun as the words came from her mouth. "I don't know how or why, but you're…" she paused momentarily and just licked her lips. "You're what I've been looking for."
[ edited 2 time(s), last at 16-Jul-2002 4:28:42 PM ]
|posted on 30-Jun-2002 6:35:11 PM by kippy|
|Author's Note: Relatively short part here - I have more written but I want to wait until I put another part of Stranger out before I post the rest of this. Sorry that this part just kinda leaves you hanging with so many loose ends and unanswered questions. Once I finish the part of Stranger that I'm working on the rest of this will go up. I promise. |
Liz waited in anticipation for Max to respond to her surprising confession, but minutes passed and he just stood there with a confused expression on his face. She wasn't sure why she had told Max everything, it was like once she started talking, and explaining herself to him she couldn’t stop and then that last part had popped out. Now she was wondering if she should have told him that last bit. That part about him. He just stood there. Liz tried to make sense of the expression on his face, wondering what was running through his mind. Wanting him to just say something.
"I think uh…" Max sat down on the bed and Liz listened alertly. "I think we just need to get to Corvallis," he mumbled. "Just get some sleep," he rubbed his face with his hand. She'd need sleep. What he showed her in Corvallis would change everything, but she had to know, keeping this from her was killing him. Last night in the stagecoach after his attempt at a confession, she had asked questions she hadn't asked Max before, questions like who Michael up in Canada was. When Max had responded "just a friend" and informed her that Michael used to play minor hockey up in Alberta she had laughed and inquired what stopped him.
"Wait, let me guess…knee injury," she answered her own question before Max could and Max didn't know what to say.
"Shoulder…actually," he had mumbled, though knee was what both he and Michael had agreed on. Liz knew something was amiss with Max. Max, who seemed in perfect shape and who seemed to have no trouble with his knee like he claimed he did from his football injury. Still she had just confessed that despite all his mysteriousness he was everything she had been searching for since she was sixteen. And Max just crawled into the empty bed in response and attempted to fall asleep.
"Please, just get some sleep," he told her. It would probably be the last peaceful night of sleep she would know. The last night she could sleep in a relative state of innocence. And when they woke up he just hurried on to Corvallis.
She had no idea what to expect in there and had no idea what the town held until they passed a sign on the highway which read OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY next right.
"Max, why the hell are we going to your old school?" she asked as Max pulled into visitor parking. He stuffed the Oregon State Beavers hat he'd had on back into his bag and pulled on the newly purchased Missoula Osprey hat. School was still in session, in fact it was probably finals week here and Liz had to wonder why Max was pulling her into the library.
"You'll see," he huffed as he dragged her up the stairs to the periodicals section.
"What are we looking up old friends of yours?" she queried.
"God, no," he actually laughed at the statement and Liz had to wonder why. Students were crammed into every single corner of the library and there were hardly any open tables. Max crouched down in the stacks and searched through the old Corvallis Sentinels, back five months, six months, an entire year, back to October of what would have been Liz and Max’s sophomore years at college. She looked at him curiously, wondering what all this was about as he pulled out what he was looking for and carried it over to an empty desk nearby.
"What is all this??" she asked, but Max just pointed to the paper in front of him.
OREGON STATE FOOTBALL PLAYER COLLAPSES AT PRACTICE
"What was that you?" Liz asked in confusion, but Max just pointed for her to read the article. "Nicholas Denieri, a freshman defensive back and special teams player for the Oregon State Beavers collapsed at an- "
"Shhh!" a girl seated behind Max and Liz hushed as Liz read the article aloud.
"At an afternoon practice of reasons unknown. Coach Robert Lage said it was likely Denieri's collapse could be attributed to the strong heat wave that has passed through most of northern Oregon this fall," Liz paused to looked up to Max, wondering what any of this had to do with him when she got her answer. "Fellow defensive back Max Evans, a sophomore from Midland Lee High School, helped revive Denieri though teammates were unable to explain how." Liz looked at Max in disbelief. "So a player collapses from heat stroke and you help him out, what's the - "
"Keep reading," Max insisted as he plopped another newspaper down on the table in front of her. This one was dated two days later. INVESTIGATION OF OSU PLAYER CONTINUES a small blurb in the corner read. This piqued Liz's interest a bit more.
"Authorities have continued their investigation of sophomore cornerback Max Evans and what his role in helping to revive teammate Nicholas Denieri at a practice Monday afternoon was. Players and coaches on the field at the time of Dinieri's collapse reported seeing Evans rush to his side, but no clear report follows from there," Liz paused for a moment and bit her lip, the words seemed to be haunting Max. He seemed to know the article word for word. Turning her attention back down to the article, she continued on. "Some maintain he performed CPR; still others seem to hold true to a celestial explanation claiming Evans merely placed his hand over the fallen freshman's chest and revitalized the boy. Local EMTs who rushed to the scene along with the trainer on duty have made an official statement saying Denieri's collapse was due only to fatigue, but players on the field insist Denieri went into some kind of pulmonary arrest. Evans, a two year member of the Beavers defensive unit, made dean's list twice in his first year at Corvallis and is expected to play in Saturday's Civil War game against in-state rival Oregon." Liz dropped the paper onto the table, not all that sure what to say in response to the article.
"He was just a kid…" Max murmured. "Said he was the first one from his family to go to college, from this rinky-dink Texas town and…" he looked up to and shrugged.
"– and I knew that all too well. I just – I couldn't just let him die there on the field…I - I had to - "
"Which report's true, Max?" Liz began to search franticly through the other papers Max had brought out, searching for another tiny blurb on the bottom to tell the next step in the story, but her face went white as she found it. She dropped the paper in her hands and just stared at the headline that covered the entire front page of the Corvallis Sentinel.
CAR CRASH KILLS OSU STUDENT-ATHLETE
She couldn't read aloud, Liz found her breath was gone, as she looked at the picture that accompanied the headline. A picture of a black Ford Bronco, it's front end smashed and burned beyond recognition and next to it, a picture of Max. Smiling and happy, Max looked so different from the Max sitting in front of Liz now. Not only was there no goatee, but he just seemed like a different person – carefree and upbeat in his shirt and tie. Students at Oregon state university, including members of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity (pictured above), mourn the loss of a loved member of their community. Another caption in the corner read, going along with a picture of shell-shocked college students laying flowers by a makeshift memorial in front of one of the campus buildings.
"I don't get it, Max…you're here…you're right here – what did you, you fake your own death?" Liz's voice came out a whisper and the thought alone made her grab onto the desk for support. She suddenly felt like she was going to pass out. This wasn't at all what she had expected. She thought, hell, she didn't know what she thought, but this…
"I had to," Max whispered, looking around carefully to make sure no one was eavesdropping. "I couldn't let – they'd already started coming after me," he could hardly get out the sentence and Liz just shook her head.
"What are you talking about – who is – why…"
"Hey you," Max suddenly called to a student in a backwards baseball cap walking by and he held up the newspaper article from last year. He knew that if Liz was struggling with everything in print, hearing it from a student's mouth would help her realize everything.
"What do you know about this?" The boy seemed a bit caught off-guard, but he squinted his eyes to look at the article.
"Evans? That whole deal last year? What do you want to know?" the boy asked casually as if it were a casual and familiar topic of conversation.
"What uh – what happened?" Max asked, carefully keeping his hat pulled low over his eyes and his head down.
"What are you a first-year?" the boy asked with a laugh, as if it were inconceivable for Max not to know.
"I'm a transfer," Max shrugged and the boy just laughed and pulled up a chair.
"Her too?" he eyed Liz and Max just nodded his head
"Well, then I guess you gotta know about this," the boy chuckled. "The deal with Max Evans was that uh – this one day…" the boy took a minute to fix his baseball cap and collect himself, trying to figure out where he should start. "He's on the football team, right? Practically like a straight A student." Liz's eyes flashed over to Max as the boy talked. "Or so I hear, you know – I was a freshman when all this shit went down. They're practicing one day and this kid, who actually lives down the hall from me now, this kid like drops dead at practice one day, has a heart attack or something and Evans comes over and the kid's suddenly alright," the boy nods his head emphatically.
"Well, I heard he performed CPR," Max challenged the boy, who just shrugged his shoulders.
"Yeah, that's what some say…but a bunch of the kids still say he just leaned down over him, put his hand out and then there was, bam! Like, this flash of light or some shit like that and the kid's up," the boy's eyes were wide.
"So what he's like a…a healer or a saint or something?" Liz piped in suddenly and the boy’s smile suddenly vanished.
"Was," he looked down to the paper in front of them, the one with Max's smiling picture and the charred Ford Bronco. "Kids on the team said he always was kinda quiet," the boy shrugged his shoulders. "Pretty sad really – but it had this campus nuts for a while."
"FBI all over the place, man – they never found the body," the boy lowered his head.
"So…so what did the FBI do? I mean what did they finally conclude about – about the healing?" Liz asked, on the edge of her seat.
"Unexplained," the boy shrugged. "But let's just put it this way, you know what I’m saying – nine out of ten kids on this campus'll tell you they believe in aliens."
"Aliens?" Liz said the words so loudly that everyone in a ten-foot radius turned around to look at her. "What makes them think he's an alien?" she asked, quieter this time.
"I don't know, that's just…hell, that's just what people thought. I'll tell you though – some people – some people say he's still alive, still out there," the boy widened his eyes and gazed up at the ceiling and Liz just laughed, beginning to think that this boy was pretty out there. He had seemed normal enough when Max had called him over. Max had his lead lowered now, reading over the article, avoiding any eye contact with the boy. "Every now and then we'll still get some FBI down here, asking questions about it…" the boy's voice drifted off and he got to his feet. "Anyway, that's the whole Evans deal," he extended his hand to Max and Liz then. "You know what, Phi Sigs are having a huge party tonight – Dead Man's Ball or something like that, you two should check it out if you're still in town," he offered with a shrug and Max looked sick at the offer, though Liz's eyes lit up.
"Thanks," she shook his hand and inquired as to his name.
"Taylor," the boy fixed the cap on his head a third time.
"Lucas," Max extended his hand, but kept his head down, hoping Liz would follow his lead and not give her real name. She hesitated for a moment.
"Beth," she was slow to get out the word and Taylor, though a bit puzzled at the girl's hesitancy in giving her name, just nodded his head.
"Cool – hope I see you tonight, Beth," he flashed a smile to Liz, then looked to her companion, "and uh – Lucas." And Taylor went on his way. Max waited until he headed up the stairs before he turned to Liz and began putting away all the old newspapers.
"Gotta do better than Beth," he said curtly and Liz just stayed at the table and watched him file away the paper that chronicled his death.
"What was it like to fake your own death?" she whispered in amazement, still struggling with that concept.
"They'll put Elizabeth and Beth together in a second, you gotta make something completely different up," he ignored Liz flat out and continued putting the papers back. "I'll fix your ID tonight. Gotta make you from Wisconsin or something."
"Can I be twenty-one on my ID?" Liz suddenly perked up and Max just laughed for the first time in a while.
"Sure," he stood up from his crouched position in the stacks and looked back to her. "Come on, let's get outta here," he looked around at the library and Liz wondered what memories were haunting him here.
"You don't want to go to that party he just told us about?" Liz asked with a frown, "it'll be fun -"
"After what he just said? Are you kidding me?" Max honestly thought she was joking. "There's no way I'm going to the party; too many people'll recognize me." The statement actually made sense to Liz and she conceded, though not without some long faces to Max. It had been so long since she'd been to a college party. A fraternity party on a campus like this must be great. Max seemed all too eager to get off the campus as soon as possible though. Still, Liz gave him an imploring look one last time right before she took a seat behind him.
"Not even if you went in costume?"
[ edited 2 time(s), last at 16-Jul-2002 4:28:06 PM ]
|posted on 1-Jul-2002 5:06:17 PM by kippy|
Max's head was spinning that all that had just been revealed at the library seemed to bounce right off Liz. She was all set on going to this party, all too occupied with that to even ask Max another question past what it was like to fake his own death. She didn’t ask any further questions about the whole healing incident, nothing more about what had actually happened.
Max finally pulled off to the side of the road ten minutes outside Corvallis at a scenic overlook, unable to take it anymore.
"Don't you want to know?" he demanded, ripping off his helmet and climbing off the bike. "Aren't you going to say something??" he yelled and Liz just shrugged.
"Say what?” she climbed off the bike and looked out at the rolling farmland. "It all makes sense now…Lucas," she added, placing emphasis on the fake name, then turning her attention back to the farmland. How was she supposed to react to all that she had just learned?
"But you don't have any questions, you just..." Max sighed. "That's where it happened, where I did it," he turned his attention to the median across the way and Liz thought back to the picture of the totaled Ford Bronco, then looked to the shiny new median that stood out from it's old and weathered counterparts. "It was hard to do…to make it believable, like I'd been trapped inside," Max's eyes remained fixed on that shiny median. God, she didn't want to know all this. She wanted to know Max's secret, but did she really want to know about forming new identities and what it was like to fake your own death? She'd asked him at the library, but did she really want to know? Did she really want to get involved in all this?
"I'm going to go to that frat party tonight," Liz suddenly broke the silence and Max could hardly believe she was back on the damn party. She hadn't even taken a minute to ask Max about the alien thing. Hadn't even bothered to think about his confession back in the stagecoach in Moon. Hadn't bothered or hadn't wanted to? he wondered. Had he scared her off? Would he have been better off lying to her? After everything she had said last night, everything she had admitted to him, he'd gone and scared her off. The last thing he wanted to happen. "I really want you to come with me," she told him, sitting back down on the bike.
"I'll drive you there and I'll pick you back up whenever you want," Max sighed, seeming to be falling into the denial stage like Liz. Forget that he'd shown her anything. Forget that he'd told her anything. Forget that he was different from her. "Why do you want to go so bad?" he finally asked and Liz laughed.
"I just want to go to a party," she stated simply. I just want to get drunk and forget about all this. I want to forget about your screwed up life and my screwed up life and how you've just made it even more bizarre. I want to forget about the aliens in Roswell. I want to forget that my parents don't know where I am, don't know that I've been kicked out of New York University for good, I want to forget about what it's like to fall asleep in your arms, I want to forget that as much as I want to leave sometimes the idea of being away from you terrifies me. Liz shrugged her shoulders. "I just want to go to a party."
Liz wasn't sure what Dead Man's Ball actually meant; she opted on going in all black, guessing that wearing black to anything with the word Dead was a good bet. Max remembered the Dead Man's Ball that the Phi Sigs had thrown his freshman year and was tempted to tell her that maybe going all alone wasn't a great idea as he dropped her off at the front of the frat house. He was tempted to see that if maybe he went in there with the hat over his eyes maybe people would be too drunk to look past his goatee and see who he really was. He was tempted more than Liz would ever know to trot up the steps after her and her backless black shirt and tight black pants. To be a normal twenty-year old for once. He watched as two boys pulled Liz through the door in a drunken embrace. He watched through the window as they introduced her to person after person on their way to the keg. He was stupid to think that the Phi Sigs wouldn't take one look at her and all just try to maul her. They were a rowdy bunch, most of them. And just as Max got off the motorcycle and began to jog up the steps and follow after her, the president of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity appeared through the window and Max stopped dead in his tracks. Matt Keller, the one sane person in the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity and Max's best friend.
Best friend was a strong term to use, but excluding Michael, Matt had been the closest friend he'd ever had. Max didn't really open up to anyone, he wasn't much of a partier, if not for his membership on the football team he probably would have just ended up being another of the thousands of faces at OSU. But for some reason, one Max could never figure out, Matt Keller liked him for that and he helped make Max Evans' name a fairly popular one on campus. Matt Keller was everything you thought of when you thought about the All-American kid. He hailed from an upscale community in Colorado, made good grades, would probably graduate with honors, he didn't smoke, didn't do drugs, liked to get good and drunk on the weekends, but that was about as bad as he got. He had had the same girlfriend all four years at OSU, assuming he was still with her now, and hadn't been known to cheat or even look at another girl much to all the undergraduate girls' dismay. He was everything Max was on the path to become. Max's hesitancy to hook up at parties led many people to believe that he was either gay or Mormon, but Matt Keller had just laughed. He had shrugged his shoulders. "It's cool that you're waiting for the right girl," Max distinctly remembered Matt telling him two weeks before Nicky Dinieri collapsed on the practice field and Max made the life-altering decision to help him.
Max felt his chest tighten as he stood there and looked in at Matt. He wished he could show Matt Liz. He'd certainly get a kick out of her. She's the girl you've been waiting for? Max could picture Matt laughing as he took one look at Liz and her tongue ring. His brief time as Matt's friend had been the only time in his life Max had ever felt normal. Comfortable with his life, secrets or no secrets. It had been the only time in his life he was relatively happy. Things seemed things were going well with Michael and Isabelle too. They were in Saskatoon, Alberta, Michael was having a moderately successful season playing junior hockey for the Saskatoon Blades. Isabelle was enrolled in a local school, as happy as she could be with the largest mall in America only a few hours away. But then Max had gone and changed everything for them all. Max looked back up to the window where Matt was still standing, to the house Liz was somewhere inside, then turned on his heel and headed off, a heavy feeling in his gut that Liz wasn't going to be calling him for a ride home.
Two hours later he was back in front of the fraternity house, standing where he had been before, looking in through a window, trying to catch a glimpse of Liz. Things were a little bizarre right now between them, but he couldn't just let her go. Let her go to this party, get drunk and let an equally drunken fraternity boy do whatever he pleased with her? This was Liz. The only person in the world right now other than Michael and Isabelle who knew that Max Evans was indeed alive and well.
"Hey, cutey, what are you doing just standing out here? Let's go inside!" a pack of girls suddenly charged up behind Max and before he knew what was happening he was being whisked into the fraternity house. He searched frantically for Matt or anyone else who knew who he was or would recognize his face. He thought he might have had a seminar or two with one of the girls who had ushered him through the door. The one dressed in a pair of hospital scrubs she'd obviously altered to make as slutty as possible, with a white apron splattered with what was supposed to be blood - one of the more clever costumes in the room. Thankfully, she seemed to have done some pre-drinking and had no recollection of Max. His eyes scanned for Liz as he made his way through the kitchen and across the makeshift dance floor. He just nodded his head and told the boy who seemed to be under the impression that Max was in one of his economics class, that he didn't like the professor and was going to drop the class. He grabbed a beer when he passed the keg and tried to blend in as best he could. It had been a while since he'd done this. And then he found Liz. And Matt. Together. Laughing and talking like they'd known each other for years, then bumping and grinding on the dance floor. Max could only stand there. If it had been anybody else, he would have put an end to it. He would have taken Liz away. But with Matt he couldn't. He just stood there and watched as Matt led her up the stairs to his room.
It's what she had wanted, right? To forget about everything, get drunk, hook up with someone, and forget about Max. But of all the people at the giant gathering, Liz had picked the wrong person. Because as she laid on the bed beneath the tall, strong, dark-haired man who had charmed her right up to his bed she spotted a picture on the dresser. Max. Non-goatee Max with a Rolling Rock in his hand and the stranger above her at his side.
"Who's that?" she asked suddenly, but there was no response. Scratch that, there was a response. There was his hand sliding her pants down to her ankles. "Wait – stop, who's that?" she faltered, "I – I know him."
The stranger lifted up his head to look at the picture and just sighed. "No, you don't."
"No I – I - "
"He's dead, you don't know him," his voice was angry, but not really angry with her. Liz just wriggled away from him and moved to the edge of the bed, looking at the photo. "You remember Max Evans and all that crap that happened last fall," he just followed suit, swinging his legs over the side of the bed, sounding so exhausted.
"Oh, yeah," Liz nodded her head. Max would be proud of her. She was doing a good job of pretending like she had no idea what was going on.
"He was a good friend of mine," Matt shrugged his shoulders and the comment literally knocked the wind out of Liz. "He was an awesome person…" he looked hard at the picture, "hardly ever pulled stuff like this, you know," he looked over at her, referring to their near hookup. "Got a raw deal," Matt looked at the picture with more sadness than Liz would have expected. Max had never talked about his friends up at school. Liz had just assumed he hadn't had many.
"Wasn't there all that stuff going around about how they never found the body?" she asked bluntly and Matt's eyes flashed with rage.
"Yeah, there was all that shit about him being an alien and stupid crap like that," he shook his head. "They couldn't just let the kid be dead, you know? Had to drag up all that…bullshit." Liz just sat in silence as Matt just continued to stare intently at the picture taken only days before the crash. And the two just sat there on the edge of the bed in their underwear.
"I can't do this, you know," Liz turned to him and he just shook his head.
"Yeah, neither can I," he looked to the picture. Not after dragging up that memory. And his buzz was wearing off, now he'd have to go back downstairs and get another drink. "You want to head downstairs and get another beer?" he asked suddenly and Liz just nodded her head. Not so much to the offer about the beer, but to going downstairs. She had to get to a phone, she had to call Max and ask him about this good-looking young man who had apparently been a close friend. Both pulled their clothes back on, without so much as a hint of awkwardness and wandered out the door and back into the drunken orgy the party had probably already turned into by now.
Max saw her as she headed down the stairs behind the young man who used to be his best friend. He turned around before she could spot him and tried to make himself disappear in the crowd by the keg. She'd probably gotten exactly what she wanted. She had been going on almost an entire week without sex, that was probably some type of record for her.
Grabbing his beer, he gulped back half the cup before he could even make his way out of the mass of people. The party seemed to have migrated into this room and he spotted the girl in the slutty hospital scrubs and the group of girls who had dragged him into the frat house. Before he knew what was happening the one with the red hair walked up to him.
"Hey, cutey-who-was-standing-outside, come dance with me!" she slurred and for a moment Max was about to take her up on it. To go dance with her and hope Liz saw every second, but he wasn't like that no matter how much he tried to kid himself and he politely declined to the offer.
"What's the matter, not a fan of red heads?" a voice suddenly sounded.
"Nah, I just…I don't want to be a part of something I know she'll probably regret later on," Max responded without even looking beside him at who the voice belonged to.
"You remind me of a friend I used to have," the voice laughed and Max almost dropped his beer as he turned his head to look right at the face of the only person on this campus who truly missed his presence.
"Yeah," his voice was shaky and he couldn't decide whether or not to excuse himself and leave now or stay here and talk. To the person he didn't expect to ever see again, nevertheless talk to.
"Yeah, I still remember the last night we hung out…" Matt suddenly stated, scratching at his head thoughtfully and Max knew the memory he was going to focus on. It was a memory Max had often thought about too. "This, drunk-ass girl was practically begging him to go dance with her and he just – he wouldn't do it, ended up calling the girl a cab home and we just…just chilled the rest of the night…" Max pulled the hat down far on his head as he finally turned to really look at Matt. He looked the same as ever, but he looked more gaunt than Max remembered. He looked tired and worn-out. Like he hadn't had a good night's sleep in the longest time. "Yeah, that was the last night I saw him alive," Matt looked out at the crowd, almost like he was looking for his friend now. Then he turned to the stranger next to him. "You kinda look like him," he laughed.
"Yeah?" Max asked nervously.
"Yeah, except Max would never grow a goatee, he was about the most straight-laced kid in the world," Matt looked at the stranger beside him with a slight smile at the recollection.
"Max?" Max swallowed, not sure if he wanted to do this or not.
"Yeah – Evans, you know the kid who died in the car crash last year – the kid the FBI seemed to think was an alien…." Matt looked so angry as he took another sip from his beer and Max wondered why he was still standing here. Why was he torturing himself and his friend by being here? Why was he risking Matt shaking off the alcohol and recognizing him. "They kept asking me questions about him for weeks afterwards. Never let me, you know, grieve. Let my friend be dead…" Max swallowed loudly as he saw all that was still unresolved for Matt. That this was a conversation Matt probably would have had if he were here or not.
"They just had to keep telling me – 'he might still be alive, son; his body was not recovered'," he imitated the police officers who clearly had left a bad taste in his mouth. "Body – I mean, who uses that word?" he laughed and Max tried his best to smile. He had never really thought about how Matt would react to his sudden death. He thought Matt of all people, the most level-headed, well-balanced kid he had ever met, would be able to accept it, to move on, but Max could see that that was far from the truth.
"Max, got a raw deal…the world sucks, he didn't deserve to die when he was nineteen years old," Matt looked up right at the person he was talking about. And Max wanted to tell him, he wanted to tell him so badly. It's me. I'm still here. "You do look a lot like him, it's kind of eerie," he commented again.
"I can go if you want," Max suddenly took a step away and Matt just shrugged carelessly as he lit up a cigarette.
"It's fine, you can stay." Max looked at the young man who used to be his best friend in disbelief. Was this really Matt? Matt didn't smoke; Matt didn't hook up with random girls he'd never even seen on campus before, Matt didn't have this much anger in him. "You know what pissed me off most is like they didn’t even stop to think about how I'd feel…they asked me to recount every last detail of every time I saw him the week before he died. They were like inhuman - I mean…that was my best friend." Matt took a slow drag off his cigarette and leaned his head back against the wall. Then he seemed to suddenly realize what a drain he was and laughed. "Sorry, this girl…upstairs just started bringing this shit up." Max's head shot up at the comment. God, he'd forgotten all about Liz
"I never knew Max Evans was your best friend," his voice creaked. In the year and a half he had known Matt, Max had always just thought he was another of his many friends. To hear Matt refer to him now as his best friend made Max feel sick for some reason.
"You know how you make friends your freshman year and you think like, God, these are gonna be my friends for life, but they're not really. Sophomore year, you – you really know what's going on and first week of my sophomore year this kid showed up and…" Matt's voice drifted.
"Second floor of the library," Max murmured unconsciously, recalling the spot feet away from where he was with Liz this afternoon where he had first bumped into Matt, and Matt's head shot up at the comment.
"What was that?"
"Nothing," Max tried to dismiss and Matt went on with his story. A story Max had never heard.
"He was a year below me and at that point in my life I was just, fed up, with the whole frat scene, with all my friends back home and my friends here, my girlfriend …I was about to give up, you know? Everyone just seemed…fake, or – or something, I don't know. And then I met Max," Matt shook his head. "He kind of like – restored my faith in this campus, in the world," he grinned and took another large sip of his beer. The buzz was definitely starting to kick in now. "So when he died, it's like part of who I was died."
"You ever think maybe…maybe he's in a better place now?" Max asked, his voice still unsteady as he looked at his shaken friend. "Maybe he - "
"What like heaven?" Matt laughed. "Nah, I don't really believe in that," the boy who used to go to Mass every Sunday shrugged. "Bottom line is Max didn't deserve what happened to him – he had no family, some cousins up in Canada or something, but no one ever came down on a Parent's Weekend, he put himself through college and was having a pretty good football season and…and he dies. I mean, that's what you get for being a good person." Max was silent as he listened to it all. He didn't know how much longer he could stand here and listen to this. “Poor guy, he never even got laid before he died," Matt laughed, finishing off his beer. "How sad is that? He would have made some girl real happy."
"If you could say one thing to him, right now, if he were still alive, what do you think you'd say to him?” Max suddenly asked. "Maybe Max can hear you," his voice caught in his throat and Matt just looked at him strangely. Max wondered if he would even remember any of this tomorrow. He didn't seem to think any of this was strange at all. Was probably too drunk to realize how odd it all was that he was spilling his guts to a stranger who looked strangely like his old friend.
"I would, I would tell him…that Fresno State game was not your fault – 'cos he died thinking he blew that game for us," Matt rolled his head back. "Which he didn't."
"That pass interference call," Max actually laughed and so did Matt.
"Yeah, you remember that?" he walked over to refill his beer. "He was so down on himself after that even though I tried to convince him, you know if you wanted to blame the game on someone, blame it on the guy who fumbled." Max grinned at the memory, recalling how hard Matt had tried to get him to believe the game wasn't his fault. Trying everything from a night at the bar, to a marathon of Adam Sandler movies, to a group of freshman girls who would follow Max around like a dog if he so much as asked. Max shook his head, trying to shake the memories.
"How's your season going?" he instead focused his attention up to the picture on the wall of the fraternity's intramural football team, wondering if Matt even played on it any more.
"Oh, it's going well – these guys are…are crazy," he looked at his fraternity brothers in the picture with a bit of a smile and Max noted that Matt was wearing his number forty-four.
"You're wearing Evans' number," Max noted and Matt raised his eyebrows in surprise at the stranger's intuition.
"Yeah, I always used to make fun of him for having that number, it's like a linebacker's number, you know? So weird for a cornerback – I always said he had a secret desire to be a linebacker." Matt managed to laugh and Max chuckled too.
"It's a unique number for a D-back," he agreed and his head spun at the fact that he was having a conversation with Matt. What was he doing dredging up these memories? Matt seemed to be thinking the same thing and he just shook his head.
"Yeah, the world sucks – took away one of the best friends I ever had," he returned to the thoughts he was unable to shake. The thoughts he had been unable to shake for the past year and a half. But it didn't take me away, I'm right here! Max wanted to shout to his friend. "It's a year and a half later and I still miss him like hell," Matt looked around at the party, at all the smiling, happy, drunk college students, wishing he could be a part of it. He found every time he tried to though something would pop up that would remind him of Max or of how unfair this world was. Tonight he had tried and had been moderately successful until that girl had asked about the picture. Hell, he didn't know why he still had the picture; every time he looked at it he just got depressed.
"Don't you think Max would want you to be happy?" It killed Max to see his friend like this and his hands shook as he said the words. "He wouldn't want you to give up just 'cos he was gone." Matt just shrugged his shoulders and drank his beer. That was his solution now whenever things got bad. "I mean you're president of this frat, you got a lot of friends – the world doesn't suck that bad," Max shrugged. "Maybe Max is happy now, you know…maybe he's with his family, maybe he is making some girl real happy." Liz came into view behind Max and she wasn't sure what to make of the look in Max's face. His eyes had focused on her. "Don't give up, 'cos every now and then…" Liz started to make her way over to Max. "People surprise you."
Matt just laughed and looked over to the stranger in the Missoula Osprey hat. The stranger who bore an uncanny resemblance to his dead friend.
"You're a cool kid, man," he extended his hand to him. "Good listener," he nodded his head. "Sorry I brought all this crap up…it just kind of – came out."
"It's okay," Max's voice came out a whisper.
"Stop by the house tomorrow," he proposed with a nod of his head and for a moment Max thought that he really could. It felt like old times. Maybe after they'd go lift weights or have a football catch, maybe grab some pizza and fries at McNary Central. Max just nodded his head as Liz joined his side. Matt hardly seemed to notice her though. Max gave her a look that said 'it was time to leave'. She began to back towards the door and Max wondered how exactly he went about saying goodbye. He couldn't just shake his hand, yet he found that's what he was doing.
"Goodbye, Matt," he murmured and a loud song began to fill the room and people began crowding into it. He looked back at Liz, getting lost in the crowd and then back to his friend, before disappearing himself.
Liz didn't say anything when they arrived at the hotel; she didn't say a word when Max threw his jacket onto the bed and walked straight into the bathroom. She'd seen him talking with Matt for quite a while in that room, he probably had his own issues to deal with. She collapsed onto the bed and tried to make sense of everything that had happened today, everything she'd learned. Last October Max had miraculously brought some kid back from the dead, after which chaos had ensued and he'd been forced into leading everyone, including his best friend, to believing that he was dead. His best friend, whom she'd randomly almost slept with tonight. God, could her life get any weirder? She lifted her head off the bed and let her mind go, trying to work out how she’d gotten to this place. Max had some sort of otherworldly healing power. He'd been able to save a boy whose heart had stopped merely by outstretching his hand. She thought back to the confession in Moon that she hadn't taken seriously and just shook here head. No. She'd grown up and spent seventeen years of her life in a town that thrived off of the business of losers who thought aliens actually existed. She wouldn't be one of those losers. She'd spent a good chunk of her life working in her parent's restaurant serving food with names like Blood-of-Alien-Smoothies and Men in Blackberry Pie. She'd grown up in a culture that said an alien had to be three feet tall and green and slimy. Aliens weren't Max, Max not alien. Liz kept trying to ingrain into her head. Aliens didn't go to baseball games and play football. Aliens didn't drive a motorcycle or grow up four hours outside of Roswell. Aliens weren't capable of friendships, aliens didn't have feelings, aliens didn't…oh God, she had had sex with an alien.
"Oh God, oh God, oh God," Liz suddenly jumped to her feet and started pacing around the room franticly. She could be carrying, like an alien baby or something. No wonder he'd stopped her that day out in the field. Forgetting that Max was still in the bathroom, Liz rushed through to splash cold water onto her face. She looked up into the mirror, covered with steam and then looked to her watch, realizing Max had been in the shower for over almost an hour. And then she saw him. Max, the alien, standing in the shower, resting his head against the wall beneath the showerhead, letting the water splash down on him and sobbing like a child. "Max?" she creaked in disbelief.
Max looked over to her through bloodshot eyes and didn't even try to hold back. Tonight had been, in so many ways, the best and worst day of his life. He'd gotten his best friend back, only to lose him all over again. He'd been so close to just whispering into Matt's ear that it was him. It was Max. He was alive and well, the world wasn't as unfair as he thought it was. But all he had done was stand there and listen to how miserable Matt's life had gotten. And Liz forgot everything.
All she saw was Max. He very well could be an alien for all she knew. But he was also a person. A person who clearly didn't deserve all the pain he was in. Ignoring the fear that moments ago had just had her in a panic she slid back the shower door and extended her hand to Max. He was sniffling, trying desperately to stifle back the sobs in the back of his throat, but wasn't at all hesitant to accept her hand step out of the shower. Liz reached behind her and grabbed a towel, quickly enveloping him in it.
"It's okay," she murmured, having a pretty good idea as to why he was so upset. She couldn't imagine what it would be like to see a friend you thought you'd never see again, to stand there and talk with someone who thought you'd been dead for years. "It's okay," she tried to stop the tremors shaking his body, rubbing the towel down his shoulders and arms in an effort to dry him off. Threading the towel around his back, she pulled him out the bathroom door to sit him down on the bed. "You're okay," she tried to tell him, running a hand through his wet hair and drawing him to her in a hug.
"I couldn't tell him," Max's arms wrapped around her tightly and his voice was muffled into her shoulder. Aliens didn't hug, a nagging voice in the back of her head sounded and Liz pushed it away. Aliens didn't cry either.
"I know," she rubbed his back, and his arms just tightened around her, holding her so tight like if he let go of her his world would come crumbling down. It had been a long time since she'd been in the situation to comfort a friend, not since Maria's dad took off and her Dalmatian dog ran away. But if anything came second nature to her it was consoling Max right now. Here was someone who, except for a few choice instances, had done nothing but be kind to her. Had begged her on more than one occasion to stay with him. Max buried his face into her hair, still clutching her as tightly as ever, and Liz knew he didn't have to beg her anymore. Not even after all that had just come out today. Not after all she had just learned about him. Not after learning that she would have to change her name, her whole identity to be with him. Not even after learning that she would never really know what it would be like to live in peace again. Because she needed to hold him right now as much as he did. Hell, after all she had just discovered? After learning that the man she had spent two nights with wasn't even the same species as her. Suddenly, that seemed to be the last thing on her mind and the last thing on Max's though. Because when Max kissed her she didn't feel any sort of fear. She felt like she was home.
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Jul-2002 4:27:24 PM ]
|posted on 14-Jul-2002 1:52:19 PM by kippy|
Waking up in Liz's arms for the first time, Max wasn't sure what to feel. After waking up twice only to see her missing from the bed next to him, he'd begun to expect the worst. But she was indeed there when he opened his eyes. They had both been fast asleep on their stomachs, but Liz had her arm thrown across his back, her face turned towards him. She had been there when he had needed her, when he least expected her to be. She knew the risks, she knew what he was, but she had hardly hesitated. He gazed at her as he lay there on his stomach, their faces mere inches apart. This was what he had wanted his entire life. To have someone know. To know about him and accept him all the same. It was what he had wanted from Matt, but was something he knew he could never do. That was unfair to do to someone who already had plans for the future, for their life. But Liz…Liz was different. He thought back to her confession the other night as he gazed at her sleeping peacefully.
She was what he had been looking for and he didn't even know he was looking for anything. Two lost souls who had just found each other on a stretch of interstate in the middle of Massachusetts. That's what they were. One had spent their entire life trying to be normal and the other had sought the complete opposite. Maybe that's what was running through Max's mind when he had kissed her. It was the first time he had ever really kissed her. She was always the bold one, the one who had to initiate everything. That's why the maneuver had surprised even her. Sitting there on the bed, a towel wrapped loosely around his waist, her arms holding him in a firm embrace and his head buried in her shoulder, he'd just done it. He had lifted his head up and kissed her, his face still wet with tears. And it had taken her a moment to react, but she had kissed all the tears away. There had been no hesitation on Max's part. There had been no waiting for her permission like anytime before. She had liked it, he knew. He could tell. She had liked having him recklessly strip off every article of clothing on her body. But that's not what last night had been about. And it hadn't been all about his grief either. Last night had been about each of them finding acceptance in each other. It had been raw, no-holds barred need. Max just stared at Liz's sleeping form and smiled. And it had been great.
But the grief was still there. If he stopped just for a moment to think about all that had happened last night at the party, he felt his chest tighten. He wasn't sure what compelled him to start writing; maybe it was the knowledge that with his disappearance from campus a year and a half ago the world had essentially lost Matt Keller too. And knowing that, Max knew he could never sleep at night again. He couldn't shake the sight of his friend's tired and angry face. He couldn't live with the fact that that was because of him. He couldn't live knowing all the things Matt had told him last night, that his friend had given up. And when Liz woke up she found Max huddled at the desk, clutching the hotel pen in his hand and scribbling furiously onto Holiday Inn stationary.
And at 3:32 PM, after completing the very last exam of his college career, Matt Keller strolled through the student center at Oregon State University and pulled out a folded piece of Holiday Inn stationary.
Old friend, I hear you. I know just how you feel; I've been in your shoes before. I've seen your worries and I can understand everything you're going through. But I believe in you, your time is coming. Don't give up tonight. There's a life ahead; your time is coming. Don't let it go tonight. My friend, I miss you, but things can only improve. You have all the time in the world. So keep on fighting and never let them say there's anything you can't do. I watched as you sat with a cigarette in your hand, holding a drink in the other trying to drown all your pain. Old friend, you'll realize that things are worth the wait. Enjoy the time that you have. You'll see a new day when darkness fades again and the sun can rise to shine. – "Piano Song", the Juliana Theory
Heard this song on the campus radio last night and thought I'd send it your way. Thanks for letting me know the Fresno game wasn't my fault, but I still think it was. Probably always will. I've found that girl though, the one I guess you always said I was waiting for. She's after me to get going, so I guess its goodbye. For now at least. Don't give up on the world yet, Matt. I'm still in it.
- Max (alien, healer, saint, or freak - say what you want, even I don't know)
PS – sorry the FBI made your life hell, they've been a pain in the ass for me too.
Matt collapsed down on the nearest chair as his eyes scanned over the letter. He vaguely remembered the random stranger he'd spilled his guts too last night. He remembered the uncanny resemblance to Max that he'd just pushed aside and blamed on the alcohol. He remembered talking about Max and the Fresno State game with the stranger and he had to reread the letter a few times before the shock finally passed and everything clicked. The stranger had been Max. Behind the hat, behind the goatee had been his best friend. A brief smile appeared on his face as he reread the closing line, realizing what it all meant, that the FBI investigations had been real and what Max had been forced to do. He laughed quietly at the phrasing of the last line and the drastic understatement it must be – the FBI being a pain in his ass, apologizing for something he could hardly prevent. That was Max alright.
"Matt Keller, smiling?" a boy suddenly stepped out of the mailroom. "Something's up," he grinned, glancing at the tiny piece of paper in Matt's hand. "Who'd you hear from?"
And Matt just folded up the paper and tucked it into his pocket. Max was alive.
"An old friend."
The continental breakfast buffet was like a feast for Max and Liz who hadn't had a real breakfast, a real meal, for quite some time. They gorged themselves on breakfast pastries and croissants, hot cereal, cold cereal, sausage, eggs, and pancakes. They went up for seconds and thirds and ate with such a ravenous flurry that they drew the curious eyes of many around them. They hardly even spoke to each other for the first few minutes; in fact they'd hardly even spoken about the happenings of last night. They'd hardly spoken at all, but for some reason Max wasn't bothered by that small fact. It was a comfortable silence, like Liz was going over everything that she hadn't last night now. She didn't look frightened or confused and her hand wasn't shaking as she calmly buttered her toast.
"So do you think he'll try to find you?" Liz suddenly asked in reference to the letter he had penned to Matt earlier.
"I don't think so," Max dismissed casually, biting into a cheese Danish, then adding. "I hope not." Then more silence followed as they continued their eight-course breakfast.
"Why didn't you tell me about him?" Liz asked as she began wrapping up breakfast rolls and croissants into napkins, then stuffing them into her bag. The corners of Max's mouth lifted slightly at her actions, at the familiarity of it all to her. Saving money, taking the hotel food. He did this all the time, he realized now that she did too.
"'Cos I couldn't," Max dismissed quietly. "I mean…" he began copying Liz, cramming apples and pears into the side compartment of his bag, preparing for the days that were to come out on the road. "I didn't think I'd ever see him again, so why bring up a memory I was trying to leave behind," he shrugged his shoulders, trying to be nonchalant about the matter, but with the admittance Liz knew just how difficult last night had been for him. "Not like you ever mentioned your friends at all," he added and Liz's head snapped up. She was tempted to remind him that she had in fact talked for a good half-hour last week about her one-time boyfriend, Kyle Valenti, but kept quiet and just got to her feet and returned to the long table of breakfast food. Max blew out a deep breath as she left their little table momentarily. Things were unusually comfortable between them. Unusual being the key word. After such a monumental night he didn't anticipate this.
"Look, travel Nuttella!" Liz suddenly cried exuberantly, running back over to Max and stuffing dozens of the little containers into her coat pockets. Max just laughed quietly to himself at her behavior. "So," she suddenly turned her attention back up to Max. "When you going to fix my ID?" she sounded excited about it and Max looked around the room to make sure no one had heard, then dropped his head in an effort to tell her to lower her voice. "I was thinking maybe I could be from North Carolina," she whispered.
"You don't have an accent," he reminded her.
"Neither do you, Mr. Thunder Bay, Ontario," she shot back in reference to the place of birth on Lucas Duchaigne's ID.
"Fine, you can be from North Carolina…just remember to add in a y'all every now and then."
"And you remember to say eh!" she laughed, but Max's face was solemn.
"If it said I was from…Flin Flon, Manitoba I'd remember to say 'eh', I'm serious…you don't know how much they'll pick up on something little like you not having an accent," he set down his glass of orange juice.
"So are they…I mean they means FBI?" Liz finally asked the matter Max was waiting for.
"I don't know," he admitted with a long sigh. "That's what they say they are when they ask questions and stuff, but…the things they do," his voice drifted. "It's like they're above the law."
"What do they do?" Liz had to ask. "Do they like…I mean they don't – "
"Kill people?" Max knew what she was going to ask. "I wouldn't put it past them.”
"So what – what do we do?" Liz stammered, "I mean…"
"We do what we have been," Max shrugged.
Liz was still putting pieces all the pieces together in her mind even after they'd been on the road for two hours. Max recognized that though, he knew that a lot had been dumped on her in the past twenty-four hours. He knew she was trying to make sense of it all so he didn't mind the fact that she'd give him a good squeeze every half hour or so to tell him to pull over, only to have her bombard him with more questions she had come up with while traveling. She asked him questions she even knew the answers to and often times questions she wasn't really sure she wanted to know the answers to.
She knew now the reasoning behind the motorcycle. Besides the fact that it was cheaper than a car, she knew already from experience that it could go places cars couldn't. It could weave between cars in traffic, go off road and she knew now why he'd gotten the racing model. They'd been running this entire time. That had been a getaway from the cabin back in Oregon. When he'd picked her up on the side of the interstate, he'd taken a risk. Picking up a strange girl on the side of the road when he knew people who didn't quite play by the rules were after him. He'd taken a huge risk.
"Why?" Liz had asked him earlier. "Why did you pick me up?"
"I uh…I don't know, you looked…" Max struggled to find a reason. He didn't even know why he'd done it. Something about Liz, something about the way she had been standing there with her thumb out. Something. And he just shrugged his shoulders. "It was you."
Thirty minutes later she'd given him another squeeze and he had willingly pulled over.
"Why do you think you're an a…" Liz still struggled saying the word. "I mean what makes you think that you're…" again her voice drifted at actually saying what he was. "How do you know you don't just have like…healing powers?"
"'Cos we can do other things," he shrugged.
"We?" Liz's eyes widened. "There are more of you?"
"Michael, the guy, up in Quebec?" Max said it more like a question, asking if Liz remembered him.
"The ice fisherman…" she murmured.
"What? How did you know he likes to ice fish?" Max asked with a chuckle, shocked that she knew.
"Lucky guess," Liz could only laugh. "And that girl…who was down in Quebec City, Isabelle, her too?" she recalled and the look of disbelief on Max's face remained.
"How do you…" he looked at her in wonder and a tiny smile appeared on her lips at his remark.
"I'm a good eavesdropper," she shrugged.
"I guess," Max just shook his head.
"One of my many talents," she teased.
"Many?" he raised his eyebrows suggestively, but Liz just dismissed it with a laugh as she returned to her inquisition.
"So why are they up there and you…you're always running?" she murmured, more sadness in her voice at the latter half of the question than Max would expect. He suddenly shut off the bike and got to his feet.
"Max, where're you – " she started to ask, but before she could finish he sat back down on the seat, this time so his body was facing her. So he could look at her. This would take a little longer to explain. He took in a deep breath, trying to figure out where to start.
"Michael and Isabelle…" he began. "We were all together at first - when we were found…they were with me - in the beginning." Liz slid a little closer towards him on the seat as the words came out slowly, fragmented like he was digging up something he had planned to keep buried for quite some time. "We just thought of each other as brothers and sister, everyone did…even the people who ran the – the orphanage." Assuming he was referring to the same place, Liz noticed he called it an orphanage now, not a group home like he had before. "But these people, who weren't even from the southwest, were from British Columbia," he shook his head, "– apparently Michael and Isabelle were exactly what they'd been looking for." There was an anger in Max's eyes as much as he tried not to let it show, more anger Liz thought than he directed towards the people who were chasing him right now. "We always thought that whoever came to take us, wherever we went, we'd all go together – but…they didn't want a kid with dark hair, said it wouldn't look good in their family picture…" his eyes turned their focus down on the road.
"So you stayed behind," Liz suddenly spoke and the words came out slowly as she realized what Max was telling her. No one had come for him. He didn't nod his head at her comment, he just continued on, but the pained expression on his face indicated just how much that simple truth stung. No one had come for him.
"They were loaded, I mean…really wealthy, had been looking all over the country for an eight year old boy and girl with matching hair, kids who looked like they were theirs. They sent Michael and Isabelle to private school, had closets bigger than any room I ever had…. we - we kept in touch…" he suddenly changed the subject. "We'd been together for two years when they left; I mean we knew we were different and that – you know there was a reason there were three of us, that we'd been found together, so we kept in touch." Liz knew that phrase all too well. After graduation that's what you always said to everyone, that you'd keep in touch. Rarely did it ever actually happen. Like with Alex and Maria, the childhood friends she had slowly drifted away from the older she got. "Then I went to college, Michael went to play junior hockey and Isabelle…went with him, 'cos she said we couldn't split up anymore than we already had…then I went and…did what I did," he murmured and Liz had to wonder if he regretted it. If he had to choose to do it over again would he have just let that boy die?
"I called Michael and Isabelle the minute they showed," Liz knew exactly who he was referring to when he said they. "Now I know that's the last thing I should have done," he bit his lip with a shake of his head.
"Why?" she asked though she somehow knew that she didn't want to hear the answer.
"They'd already bugged my phones at that point, they'd already traced back my files, knew everything about me…about us," he added. "Michael and Isabelle were gone when it happened. We don't know if they," again Liz knew exactly who he was referring to when he said they. " – they thought their parents were them, or if they just…didn't care that Mr. and Mrs. Guerin were..." Liz knew she didn't want to hear the end of the story now. She didn't. She didn't, but she knew she was going to. This whole history was the answer to her original question. Why Michael and Isabelle got to settle down in one place and why Max always had to move. "The house burned to the ground and they…they never bothered going after Michael and Isabelle," Max shrugged his shoulders. "Assumed that the whole family died in the blaze, that's what everyone said."
"But you warned them, so they…" Now the answer was beginning to take shape.
"They hauled ass to the most remote place they could think of," Max managed to laugh, but Liz was unable to. They had killed Michael and Isabelle's parents. She thought back to Max's comment at breakfast that morning, when she'd asked if they killed people. "Michael says it's really a pretty place in the summer, lots of tours go up there… mostly a summer vacation place not many people live there year round. He says he loves it, can play hockey ten months out of the year and there's lots of deer hunting and fishing and – "
"You've never been?" Liz suddenly interrupted his description of Anticosti Island. Max just shook his head.
"Sept-Iles is the farthest I go, I make Michael take a ferry to the mainland 'cos I don't want to lead them to him and Isabelle…don't want to have both of them start going on the run too for something that was my fault." Now the anger in his eyes turned to anger at himself.
"Max, they would have found you anyway," Liz shook her head. "Sooner or later something would have happened I mean…they would have realized you were…." Liz was still unable to say the word.
"An alien?" Max actually laughed at her hesitancy to say the word.
"- Different," she said instead.
"An alien," Max maintained.
"Say it, Liz," he looked at her. "I mean you – you…you," Max's eyes suddenly got panicky. Was he just jumping to conclusions when he thought that she had accepted him? Had last night not been everything he thought it had. "Last night - that wasn't…that wasn't 'cos you felt bad for me, right?" he asked and his voice shook with fear for her answer. "I mean you – you, you knew that was dangerous – that things could happen, you said you didn't care," he cried. "You told me! You told me last night." His jaw shook as he recalled the things she had said to him last night in bed. He hadn't imagined that. It had been real. It had to be.
"Max, relax," Liz only smiled and moved her hands to his distraught face. She leaned forward and moved her hands behind his head, drawing him to her. "I meant everything that I said last night," she whispered into his ear just like she had last night.
"But - " he started to protest, but she kissed the side of his face and shut him up.
"I did," she insisted. "I did. I'm just…I still don't see how – I mean why you think - "
"Roswell," he suddenly spit out.
"What?" she pulled away from him.
"That's how I know," he murmured, almost like he was ashamed.
"What about Roswell?" she asked, keeping a hand on his cheek.
"We were found outside of Roswell," he finally admitted what he had wanted to tell her since he first learned where she was from.
"But you stayed…you stayed at the…in Midland," she stammered, unable to even get out what she wanted to. Unable to let her mind believe what Max was telling her.
"We weren't born here, we – we weren't even born, Liz, we were…we came out of pods," he tried to tell her and Liz's eyes widened at the revelation. "But everything about us is human," Max broke the silence she had suddenly fallen into. "Except our blood."
"What is it green?" she asked and Max laughed, thinking she was cracking a joke. "Is it??" she asked again, raising her voice and Max realized she was serious.
"No, it looks normal…just not under a microscope," he shrugged, trying to make her realize that he wasn't about to ooze green blood or sprout antennas. That, for the most part, he was just like her. "Our saliva too and-"
"Your fluids…" Liz's voice drifted at the realization she thought she had already accepted last night. But last night there had been no details.
"We were safe last night," he tried to calm her nerves a bit, assuage the fears he knew she probably had. This was the reaction he had expected from her way back in the library in Corvallis. The reaction he had so far not gotten. The fear, the panic, the questions.
"Yeah, yeah but – but," she stuttered, "but how do you know that alien sperm isn't like…" Max's head shot up and Liz's thought slowly came to an end as they both realized that she'd said it. The word she so far hadn't been able to. She grew silent again as the thoughts swirled around her head.
"What? Liz, tell me what you're thinking," he looked to her with pleading eyes. Those eyes that had first drawn her to him, way back when she'd first glanced over at him from the passenger seat of the truck. "Tell me what you're thinking," he asked again and she lifted her eyes up to meet his as her voice came out no louder than a whisper.
"I'm in love with an alien."
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Jul-2002 4:26:16 PM ]
|posted on 25-Jul-2002 10:21:51 AM by kippy|
Max's body stiffened at her words. Everything in him seemed to lock up.
"I'm in love with an alien," she repeated again, louder this time, more confident.
"That's…that's what you're thinking," Max just nodded his head slowly, and it wasn't a question, it was like he was trying to rationalize her words. She nodded her head, looking at his frozen eyes and expression.
"What are you thinking?" she turned the tables back on him, though everything about his face right now suggested that he wasn't thinking, he was stuck on the words she'd just uttered. She moved her hands back up to his face, lifting his head up so she could look at his downcast eyes. "I…" she ran her right hand along his cheek, cupping his face gently with her hand. She was about to do something she'd never done before. "I love you, Max," she finally admitted to the feelings that had been stirring inside of her for days now. Even before she knew all the details. Maybe it was the fact that she knew the details now that was making it so hard for him to accept.
"That's what you’re thinking," he said again, referring to it as a passing thought and not the confession Liz was trying to tell him it was.
"No, Max," she managed to laugh. "It's not what I'm thinking it's…" The look of both skepticism and uncertainty on his face made Liz think it was something else entirely. It made something click in Liz's brain. "Has no one ever said that to you before?" her voice cracked as she asked the words, and one look at his face quickly answered her question. His eyes flicked nervously around, resting everywhere but on her. He looked panicked, frightened almost, like any minute now he was going to wake up or she was about to say April Fools or something. He had a wild look in his eye and he turned around suddenly to slide his leg around and start the bike up again. "Max," she tried to tug him back towards her, knowing they had to talk about this, but he pulled forward. Pulled away from her. "Max," she just moved closer to him, but he shook her off and she started to wonder if maybe she'd pushed things further than she should have. Maybe she'd gone too far, too quickly. "I want to take you to Roswell," she suddenly said, changing the subject completely. "I want to take you home." She was referring to her home, though she suddenly realized that Roswell was home for both of them now. He didn't register her last words though. He remained stiff and rigid in the seat in front of her, his hands on the bars like he was ready to go.
She moved her hands on top of his and guided them down to his lap like she would to a child. And she hugged him. She wrapped her arms around his arms, his body, squeezing him tightly. A different type of hug than last night when he'd collapsed into her arms though. This was a wake-up hug. This was because she had no idea what he was feeling. Was he scared? Angry?
"I love you, Max," she said yet again, hugging him tightly, resting her head on his shoulder, but he shrugged her off violently.
"You're lying," he finally spoke, his words so angry he refused to turn around, just focused his eyes straight ahead on the open road.
"No, Max I'm not - " she started to protest, wondering just how damaging it was to have never heard those words before, to have him be in denial.
"You're lying," he insisted. "I saw you with Matt," he suddenly spat out the feelings inside of him that had been pushed back when he'd started speaking to his old friend last night. Seeing Matt and talking to him, he'd almost forgotten about Liz completely and about what she'd done. The anguish that came with seeing Matt had overtaken him and the memory of Liz and Matt together had been pushed back, but now he remembered watching the two of them come down the stairs and how he'd been filled with such a sense of betrayal he had almost taken up that redhead on her offer to dance. He had known their first few nights together the type of girl she was. He had convinced himself of it, that he meant nothing more to her than the next guy she got a ride with. Then so much had happened that he'd forgotten about that and seeing her with someone else, and Matt nonetheless, had brought all his fears backs. He could tell by the look on her face that she hardly expected his comment. "I saw you with him," he murmured again, the emotions that he'd felt the moment he saw them together, the pain, suddenly coursing through him.
"I – we just…danced," Liz lied, praying that's what Max meant when he said he saw them, hoping a simple apology could get her out of this. Because she could hardly explain to herself why she'd agreed to go upstairs with Matt. She'd had a few beers, but not to the point that she was completely incoherent. She had known exactly what she was doing. She had wanted to forget about Max. Momentarily, she just wanted to go back and remember what her life had once been. Parties, drinking games, frat boys and hook-ups. That's what her life at NYU had been reduced to the past two years. Now she knew far too much for her life to ever be that simple and in a mere matter of days she'd gotten to caring so much about Max that it frightened her. She'd never felt this way about a guy before, never given herself to someone completely like she had to Max last night. This was something entirely new. Guys for her were just…convenient. Something fun.
"You're lying," Max mumbled, finally turning around. "If what you said to me was true," he was referring to her prior confession. "Then you wouldn't be lying to me now," his jaw trembled as he said the words, shaking his head emphatically.
"Max, I - "
"Stop lying." He clinched his jaw shut, looking as angry as Liz had ever seen him. "Stop lying to me."
"I didn't know he was your best friend, Max – I swear I didn't - " she started to say as she frantically thought about how to explain her actions.
"It doesn't matter who it was," Max shook his head. "It doesn't change what you did."
"I…" Liz's voice drifted, knowing full well that she couldn't explain herself. Nothing she said to Max could justify what she'd done without the simple truth that for a moment, as fleeting as it might have been, she wanted to forget about him and his messed-up life. And now that she'd heard all the details about that life in an orphanage back in Midland, Texas, the life of dealing every day with the simple fact that no one had ever come for him, she couldn't tell him that for a moment she had wanted out. Not after discovering he had never heard the words 'I love you' before. She knew now that for Max her temporary infidelity was reason for him to believe that he never would hear them. Not really.
"You what?" he turned his back on her again, but she grabbed at him, spinning him back around.
"No, Max – look at me, I…we didn't sleep together," she looked into his eyes desperately. "And that's the truth." He hardly looked convinced so she did the only thing she knew to. She moved in to try to kiss him. Max would have none of it though and he jerked his head away from her, looking disgusted almost.
"Don't," he warned. "Just don't."
"Do you want me to beg, Max?" Liz cried, throwing her hands up. "I'm sorry, what else do you want to hear?"
"The truth," he offered simply.
"And I'm telling you the truth!" she yelled and she hesitated before telling him the whole truth, the truth she thought might break him. "For a second…when I was at the party and…I wanted to leave," her voice was practically inaudible and he slowly turned back around to face her.
"You," she murmured softly, like she was ashamed. She was ashamed. He turned around completely in the seat, so their bodies were once again facing each other "I wanted to leave you, so I went with Matt and…" she ran her hands through her hair in frustration, wondering what it took to convince Max that she was sorry. That she had stopped before she did something she knew she might spend the rest of her life wishing she could take back. "I couldn't go through with it, which is…" she paused again before confessing to him more than she ever thought she would. "Which is…really unlike me." His head snapped up like she thought it would. "You asked if I was a…" she paused and took in a quick breath, " - a slut in high school and I – I never really answered you." The enmity slowly seemed to leave his eyes as he realized what she was telling him. "I wasn't, but…but I sort of was in college." Max was quiet for a moment, not really sure what she was trying to tell him. "The fact that I…" she took in a large breath. "That I…regressed to – what I was before I met you," she phrased delicately. "It doesn't change how I…"
"Doesn't change anything?" Max laughed. "It - "
"Put yourself in my shoes, Max?" Liz cut him off. "What –after all that you told me, all I learned about…about you - what would you have done? I panicked, okay? That's what it was, it was – a – reflex."
"Sleeping with the first guy who shows interest is reflex for you? That's pretty - "
"That's not…it's just," Liz squeezed her eyes shut, knowing now she was forced to deal with the ugly truth of the matter. Of who she was. "It's just…familiar to me," her shoulders sagged.
"You're the only person that I’ve...ever been with," Max suddenly admitted to her what he had been afraid to at first. "Was I…" his voice grew quiet. "Was that first time…was that just reflex for you too? Was it just…familiar to- "
"No," Liz shook her head ardently as she looked at the vulnerable young man before her. Funny how he could seem so focused and angry one minute and the next minute just look like a scared and nervous little boy. "No, it wasn't reflex, it was…attraction and heat and - " Max blushed slightly at her words. "Desire." Her eyes were earnest as she looked to him, but she bowed her head as she uttered the next few words. "And I know that doesn't change - what you saw, what I did, but…" she moved her hands up to the lapels of his worn corduroy jacket. "Know that you…do things to me that no one…the way I feel it's…" she stumbled over her words. "I'm not the type of person who," she shook her head and actually laughed. " – Just says things that I don't mean…I might do things I don't mean, but not…" He lowered his head, knowing what she was about to say. "I love you, Max," she said the words slowly, enunciating every syllable to make sure he heard and tilting his head up to her so he couldn't look away. "And that's the truth." His eyes didn't flick around nervously, but he just stared blankly ahead. She didn't expect an immediate response, but any reaction would have been nice. Not the silence again, the turning into a statue. This was really the one thing he couldn't accept from her, the one thing he couldn't believe.
"You really want to go to Roswell next?" he finally spoke and at his words Liz resigned herself to the awful truth about Max. That maybe he didn't know what love was. She reached her hands out to meet his.
"We'd get free meals and – and a place to sleep," she shrugged her shoulders and delicately stroked the back of his hand with her fingertips, then his palm, then reaching up to his arm, making the hairs on it stand on end. She'd just have to show him.
Was it possible, she wondered? To be twenty years old and never really know what it was like to be loved just because no one had ever said it to you? From all that Matt had said to her he certainly seemed to care an awful lot about Max, and she imagined that Michael and Isabelle had to also. And yet they'd never told him. They ended their conversations with take care or see you soon, but never I love you. She couldn't even imagine what that must be like. The past two years she'd been pretty independent and had spent as little time as possible back in Roswell, but she still had her parents. She still had Alex and Maria, who despite how awful she'd treated them the past few years, still refused to give up on her as the friend they'd once known and loved. She actually smiled at the thought of seeing her friends soon, of introducing Max to them; and she hugged her body a little closer to his as they made their way to Roswell.
It seemed a strange request after close to two hours of relative silence. Liz had never asked for a bathroom break before, so when she shouted into Max's ear to pull over at the next rest stop, although slightly confused, he had done it. When she grabbed his little duffle and asked him to come into the bathroom with her he grew even more confused. Several thoughts raced through his head and having her reach into his back pocket did nothing to distract him or his thoughts from turning X-rated. Thinking that's what she wanted, he moved his hands to her hips awkwardly and lowered his lips to hers. After their heated conversation not so long ago, he wasn't quite sure how to go about…well, everything, but if this was what she thought would resolve their issues, then he wasn't about to disagree. The duffel confused him though and when he moved to kiss her she just backed away in amusement.
"Not in a public bathroom, you little horndog," she laughed and Max just looked at her equal parts embarrassed and equal parts confused. What did she want? Her hand dug a little deeper into his back pocket before she finally pulled out what she was after, his Swiss Army knife. She pulled out little gizmo after little gizmo before finally finding the scissors. Then she touched her fingers to his goattee and looked up at him mischievously. "Do you trust me?"
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-Jul-2002 10:26:09 AM ]
|posted on 18-Sep-2002 4:43:05 PM by kippy|
|Ya'll first off I'd like to say thanks for all the amazing feedback I got from you this summer. I would love, more than anything to be able to write more of this fic right now (and all of mine for that matter), but unfortunately since August I've been more bogged down than I thought I would be with work, college and (the horror of it) the real world. I hope to maybe get some more out during Christmas Break and maybe during my January term, but right now, much to my dismay, other things in my life have taken precedence over my stories. Schoolwork being the main one. Sorry. I know how annoying it is to wait for a story, so I feel bad saying you have to wait until December or Janury, but that looks to be the case.|
|posted on 26-Jan-2003 12:43:26 PM by kippy|
|Hey everyone! Just wanted to let you all know that I am alive and my new year's resolution is to write more! I'm trying to make time, but my schedule has been pretty packed lately. I posted the link to a banner that borders insanity made for me this summer that I never got around to posting. I'm pretty dumb when it comes to all this website and image posting business so just click on the link (if anyone can help out, it would be much appreciated). Sorry there's no new part, but I just wanted to post and let you all know the story is not dead!|