|posted on 25-Jun-2002 3:22:33 PM by AngelDreamer86|
|Title: Tell Me You Don’t Love Me|
Couples: all conventional, mostly M/L
Summary: AU...no aliens set in late 19th century, Liz is a new-to-the-game courtesan and also a rising star at her place of work...Max is a wanderer who is new in town and stops by the dance hall with his in-town pals.
Disclaimer: I don’t own a thing, I’m a high school student who doesn’t get UPN so she has to find an alternate mode of a weekly Roswell fix!
Author’s Note: Yeah, I’ll bet the title sounds familiar to a few....I got kinda bored and was in the writing mood, and saw this in my file, so I figured I’d make an attempt to revive it and see how it went...so here’s the second attempt at posting this, maybe it’ll hit it off, maybe it’ll die again, I just needed something to do with my day!!
A damp and dark jail cell is occupied by a figure huddling in the corner of the room mumbling to himself. Once a person full of life and love, this man has been reduced to nothing but a raving lunatic. Now he is only a monster, no longer caring about a single thing and looking forward to the time when his misery will end along with his life.
A new prisoner is added to the cell adjacent to our man’s, who raises his head to glance at the newest inhabitant of the casa de filth. The newest lucky man is wiry and cheerful, hardly the look you would expect of a criminal.
“What are you in for?” The man speaks for the first time in weeks.
“I had to steal some money and food for my family...I got caught and thrown in this worthless excuse for a building.” The newcomer replied. “How about yourself?”
“Love.” He replied softly.
“Love? Since when was that a crime? I thought only thieves and murderers were thrown in this pit of despair....why are you here? Was it the King’s daughter or something?”
The man laughed softly for a moment. “No, far from it. You were right...thieves and murderers are put in here. I am the latter. I killed a man for the woman I loved. For vengeance.”
The newcomer got wide eyed. “Well, if you ask me, that’s not quite the way to a woman’s heart, when I court a lady, I usually go for handpicked flowers, not murder.”
“Its a complicated tale, its really not as harsh as it sounds.” The man replied.
“Well, if you haven’t noticed, I’m not really going anywhere, and its not like I haven’t got time, if you can see what I mean.” The newcomer replied. “Why don’t you tell me? I’d like to know how this all came about if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t exactly tell my greatest story to strangers.” The man replied.
“Well then let me introduce myself....I’m William Dowery, newest inhabitant of London prison for the criminal minds and the wrongfully accused, well wrongfully accused in my case.”
The man in the corner nodded.
“So how about yourself?” William asked.
“So what’s your story Maxwell?” William asked
Maxwell ran a shaky hand through his unkempt and fairly long hair and took a deep breath. “My story is incredibly depressing....I loved something with all of my heart and it brought me here. It made me into what I am today: a lifeless zombie, I care about nothing and noone, but I guess you probably don’t care...I’ll start my story now. Are you comfortable? It’s fairly lengthy.” Maxwell asked, looking at him.
“As comfortable as I can be on a filthy stone floor, so proceed.” William urged.
Maxwell took a deep breath. “I guess the best place to begin is one year ago....”
I had moved to London in order to get out on my own. I had earlier lived with my parents in York, but my friends in London had found a flat and invited me to live with them. I was twenty five at the time, and more than happy to accept my friends’ kind offer to get away from the stuffy lifestyle my parents had given me. Unfortunately, they did not approve and decided to disown me from the moment I stepped out the door. I guess its just as well, considering the wreck I am now, and I often wonder what would have happened to me if I had stayed indefinitely in York and lived the life my parents had laid out for me, although I don’t regret my decision to move out in any way. As soon as I got off of the train and took a deep breath of the London air, I came to life, I became my own person....
Maxwell Evans looked excitedly around platform ten of the London train station with wonder. ‘I’m home.’ he thought with a grin. Soon tiring of the cockney voice of the train’s conductor waving people off of the train, Maxwell began his journey to the crowded London streets to find his new home that he would share with his closest friends.
Maxwell soon found a carriage, giving the driver his slip of paper with the directions to his flat since Maxwell had no idea where he would be going. During the twenty minute carriage ride, Maxwell took in the scenery of the beautiful city of London, paying special attention to a building that caught his eye. It appeared to be dormant at the moment, but it was obviously still in use. It appeared to be a dance hall or nightclub of some kind, covered in lights and about 5 stories tall. The sign read “Scarlet Fever”, and there were a few people inside of it, as Maxwell observed. He quickly dismissed it and continued looking at the many sights that London had to offer.
Once he arrived at his flat he quickly paid the driver and made his way up the stairs to the third floor, where he knocked on the door marked 4C and was greeted by one of his best friends, Michael Guerin.
“Maxwell old friend! Welcome to my...or should I say OUR humble abode! Its been so long, but I can tell you haven’t changed at all!” Michael gave Maxwell a manly hug and pulled him into the apartment, closing the door behind him.
“Alex! Max is here!” Michael hollered into the kitchen.
Max was greeted by a tall, wiry, dark haired and handsome man, also known as Alexander Whitman, Max’s other best friend and the final part of the trio that would inhabit the apartment.
“Max! We were wondering when you would get here, we thought maybe you had been pulled into some pub or something after your long train ride!” Alex greeted.
“No, no pubs, I didn’t pay much attention to the buildings, more of the scenery, but one particular building did catch my eye...I believe it was called the Scarlet Fever?” Maxwell asked.
“Well way to go Maxwell! You’re in London five minutes and you already know how to pick out your entertainment! You certainly haven’t changed! Once a girl chaser, always a girl chaser!” Michael clapped him on the back as the three made their way to a sofa against the wall in order to catch up on all of the years gone by.
“But Michael, don’t you realize that Maxwell just spoiled his surprise?” Alex whined. “We were going to take you out for a night on the town and bring you there for some fun, but you’ve already figured us out!” He finished, flopping back into the couch in defeat.
“Oh well, it doesn’t mean we’re gonna take the fun out of Maxie-boy’s night, it just means that the surprise is partially spoiled!! But remember the other part, Alex? The part we’ve been saving up for months?” Michael hinted, raising his eyebrows at Alex behind Max’s back.
“What did you do?” Maxwell asked with a hint of disdain in his voice.
“We didn’t do a thing Maxwell, why would you think that?” Alex replied with a grin.
“He’s right, we just hope you brought your dancing shoes, because you will be living it up on the dance floor tonight! We’ve made sure of that!
~~~~Later that night, at Scarlet Fever~~~~~
“Elizabeth, dear, you need to start taking deeper breaths or you’ll begin to faint! We can’t have well-paying men out there watching a nervous little girl!” Jonathan Wexler, the owner of Scarlet Fever said to his newest and by far the most talented performer yet.
“You’re right, I know once I get out there I will be fine, its just he getting out there in front of the mob that’s a little difficult!” A dark haired girl dressed in her show outfit of silver sequins, a corset, and a top hat replied while a girl with blonde curls fixed up Elizabeth’s hair so it was in curls.
“Lizzie, you know that everyone loves you and would do anything to get a hold of you, so use that confidence out there! You can’t let anyone know you’re afraid! Its a trick of the trade!” Another blonde replied, who was slightly less reminiscent of a gerbil than the other blonde. The one speaking was wearing her cancan outfit in red and looked extremely excited to go out and perform.
“I know Maria, I know....I’ve been doing this for a month, but it still doesn’t get any easier...being a courtesan just sounds so filthy and sinful to the outside world, I don’t like selling my love to random strangers!” Elizabeth replied.
“Its either that or starving to death on the streets, cold and alone, besides, I think Jonathan thinks you’re the best thing to ever happen to this place! There are so many men out there just to see you perform! The courtesan thing is just a bit of a downside to it all!” Maria tried to cheer Elizabeth up with that comment.
Elizabeth blushed, she didn’t particularly enjoy the attention of all of the men staring at her like a piece of meat while she would sing and dance, but she enjoyed the rush of being onstage and being someone she wasn’t for one song number.
“Besides, you look absolutely amazing! I’m sure you’ll catch the eye of a certain Duke....I believe his name is Sean DeLuca, he’s been here a couple of times, constantly asking Jonathan about you, but Jonathan has kept firm to your decision about being a courtesan, how you aren’t quite comfortable with the idea yet and are keeping the number of “customers” down to a minimum, but Lizzie dear, I think Jonathan is beginning to become impatient, especially since our Duke is waving large sums of money in his face!” Maria warned her, although she knew it would upset Liz terribly.
“Oh Maria! That Duke is absolutely vile! If there’s one thing that could make me turn my back on this business its HIM! He’s so incredibly disgusting! Besides, I much rather prefer the tall, dark-haired men over the blondes!” Liz giggled.
“And what’s wrong with blondes?” Maria tried to act offended, but to no avail. “And remember Liz, the hardest thing about this job is not letting your emotions interfere with your work! You can’t fall for anyone! Even the tall and dark haired kind!” Maria stated strictly.
“I was just falling into a fantasy, Maria, I know, I’ve become expert at cutting emotion off, besides, why would my dark haired fantasy man want a courtesan? I’m sure he’d much rather prefer someone with a future to offer and a complete heart to give free of charge.” Elizabeth sighed.
~~~~Outside of Scarlet Fever, On the Street~~~~~~
“Why would I want to go in here, Michael? Its a dance hall full of courtesans! They show you what you can’t have unless your name has a title attached to it!” Maxwell struggled against the pulling of his arms by his friends, who were on either side of him, yanking him toward the doorway.
“Maxwell, the way I see it, you have no choice, we’ve paid good money to get you a dance partner tonight, and besides, you’re ruining all three of our suits by struggling.” Alex reasoned.
With that, Maxwell stopped struggling, although the second point Alex made was rather weak, he didn’t want to feel guilty or ungrateful towards his friends by refusing to go along with their surprise for him. Besides, they HAD paid a large amount of money on him for tonight, and it wasn’t like he had to sleep with the girl.
“Thank you very much Maxwell, my arms were beginning to tire. So shall we?” Michael waved his arm toward the entrance to the building.
All three men straightened their black top hats and gripped their canes as they entered a completely different, new, and exciting world.
Maxwell’s senses were overloaded. All around him were women in colorful dresses, waving their skirts and kicking their legs as if they had no shame at all. All though he didn’t want to admit it, Maxwell found the place fascinating.
“There’s a table over here!” Alex waved to the other two while screaming over the music of the band.
Maxwell and Michael walked over to the table which was at the edge of the dance floor, a perfect seat for the night. Alex received a pat on the back for such great table finding skills from Michael, and the three were seated and immediately brought three glasses of champagne. The three had a good time watching the dance floor and the various partners of the women who were previously on stage, all three taking turns pointing and finding the oldest man in the house, laughing as he danced with his partner, who was many years, or decades younger than him.
“Enjoying yourself, Maxwell?” Michael asked, observing Max’s lighthearted mood.
“Actually Michael, yes I am, although I’m rather dreading meeting this ‘dance partner’ you two have set up for me. I have no doubt she is the most vile-looking thing in the house who is most likely missing all of her teeth and reeks of decay. I’m sure she’s much more my senior, but of course won’t look it from far away. I'm sure my obligated dance with her will be the low point of my night.” Maxwell huffed, crossing his arms over his chest.
“A bit cynical tonight, are we Maxwell? Lighten up, your partner has to perform before she begins making your night terrible. Although I, personally, am greatly offended by your little outburst, Maxwell. Is your faith in us that weak?” Alex pretended to be brokenhearted.
Before he could respond, the room’s lights dimmed and all attention was fixed to the middle of the dance floor, where a platform was being raised from a trap door in the floor. Maxwell caught sight of the main attraction and immediately his jaw dropped. He saw before him something so beautiful that makeup couldn’t intensify her looks. A dark haired beauty in a silver outfit was breaking into song. The world around Maxwell slowed as every fiber of his being was focused on the newest addition to the room.
Liz’s eyes darted around the room, trying to find a focal point instead of a face to look at, or she would have fainted. She took a deep breath and belted out the first note of her number, and suddenly became energized and continued with her song and dance, moving through the well-memorized steps as if she had been dancing the number all of her life. As her nerves washed away with each note that left her throat, Liz felt more confident and she began to lock eyes flirtingly with random men in the room. She only paused when she locked eyes with one particular man on the edge of the dance floor. Her step faltered momentarily and she continued on, making a mental note to avoid that particular side of the floor unless she wanted to end up tripping over her own feet.
Maxwell sat gaping at the dark haired performer who was oozing confidence with every fluid step she made. He observed her grace and beauty as she moved swiftly through her number, flirting with numerous men around the room, until her eyes met his. He could have sworn we saw a falter in her step momentarily, and then she looked away, avoiding his eyes for the rest of her song. Maxwell felt hurt, which was strange for him, since all she did was look away from him. ‘Why does that bother me? She’s a dancer, not your fiancé or anything, why is her attention so vital to me all of a sudden?’ Maxwell thought to himself.
Michael and Alex were laughing hysterically. Between fits of laughter, Michael managed to speak. “Maxwell, do you need a handkerchief? Because you’re about to drool all over the table!” He guffawed.
Maxwell snapped out of his reverie and immediately blushed. Had he been staring? “Shut up Michael, I wasn’t drooling” Although, at that moment, Maxwell casually ran a hand over his mouth to be sure Michael wasn’t correct.
“Whatever you say!” Alex chuckled.
“So I take it you like what you see!” Michael teased. “The program says her name is Elizabeth Parker, the newest and brightest star of Scarlet Fever and quite the product on demand.” Michael stated.
Michael's unintentional reminder that the girl was unattainable brought Maxwell crashing back down to reality. “She....she’s a courtesan?” Maxwell stuttered.
“A singing dancing courtesan, although I hear she’s slightly uncomfortable with that last bit, something to do with morality, I’m sure. In any case, she is quite the price!” Alex stated casually.
Maxwell had toned out Alex’s voice because he was so focused on the fact that he truly couldn’t have that showgirl. She could never be his. ‘Why is that so hard for me to accept? You glance at a girl and you immediately love her? Wait...where did love come into the equation?’ Maxwell began having an inner debate with himself. He quickly downed his glass of champagne and tried to focus on the dance floor once again, which was currently filled with tons of girls doing the can can. Where had Elizabeth gone?
“Elizabeth! You must change quickly into your dance hall outfit because you are to be out there soon! Remember to look your best and keep smiling! Be kind to all of the gentlemen and be sure to pay special attention to only those with money! Keep stardom on your mind and you will be fine!” Jonathan coached to Elizabeth as she changed into her outfit.
“Right, smile, stardom, energy...got it!” Elizabeth mumbled to herself as she was pushed out into the smoke-filled atmosphere of the dance hall. ‘I’m probably meeting some fat, balding old man’ Elizabeth groaned internally.
~~~Back at the table ~~~~~
“Okay, Maxwell, Jonathan should be by any time now with our surprise, and I know you’ll enjoy it!” Michael said with a grin.
“Oh look, here they come!” Alex pointed out excitedly to the approaching figures.
Maxwell braced himself for the worst and came face to face with......his dance partner.
Maxwell’s eyes locked on the face of his dance partner. She possessed a full set of teeth and was obviously not hundreds of years his senior. She was, in fact, the girl from the dance floor number who had looked at him only once. And now she was standing in front of him, ‘Why?’ Max thought. ‘This has to be a mistake or a joke, where’s my REAL dance partner? The ugly one that they could afford?’ Max glanced around wildly.
“Elizabeth Parker, allow me to introduce you to our good friend, Maxwell Evans....Maxwell, close your mouth, you’re being rude, and shake her hand!” Alex said through his amusement at Maxwell’s reaction to Elizabeth’s presence.
“I..uh...are you guys kidding? Where’s my real dance partner? I’m sure it cost you two a fortune just to get her to stand here for the duration of this joke!” Maxwell burst out with annoyance.
Elizabeth absorbed the words Maxwell just exclaimed and felt a little hurt. Up until that point, Elizabeth thought that he may have been interested in her....Now it seemed as if he was dreading the idea of dancing with her. ‘I should have known’ Elizabeth thought, although she didn’t let her emotions in. Instead she squared her shoulders and put her acting skills into full swing.
“Well, good sir, if you’re not satisfied with what you’re friends have chosen for you, I’m almost positive Bertha over there would love to come dance with you, free of charge of course.” Elizabeth said, gesturing over to an extremely aged woman with no teeth, one eye, and pock marks all over her face. She was currently dancing on stage with the other girls.
Maxwell took one look at his soon-to-be dance partner if the problem wasn’t resolved and shot up in his seat. “NO! No, Miss Parker, I am more than glad to oblige, I was just surprised that a beauty such as you would enjoy my company. I hear word that there is a Duke in our presence and it just shocked me that my friends here were able to snag you for myself before him. If you would like to, I would be delighted to share a dance or two with you, Miss.” Maxwell said, bowing low and kissing the knuckles of her hand.
“Well then, Mr. Evans, I gladly accept your invitation....shall we dance, or just sit around discussing your pathetic attempts at making a lady feel good about herself...just a note for future reference, you don’t begin a conversation with a lady by saying she’s a joke!” Elizabeth said, obviously not warming up to him.
“I’m terribly sorry..its just...I...uh...uhm..” Maxwell cleared his throat. “Shall we dance?” He asked, his voice cracking slightly. After saying the last bit of that sentence with his wonderful vocal capabilities incorporated in, Maxwell led Elizabeth over to the dance floor and began dancing.
Maxwell spun Elizabeth around and brought her back to him. “Watch out for this step, its tricky....” Maxwell said, trying not to play off as incredibly nervous.
Elizabeth giggled at his antics and pulled the step off beautifully. “Thank you for the warning, Mr. Evans.” She teased.
They continued dancing and making small talk. “You may call me Max, if you would like to, Ms. Parker.” He said.
“Very well, Max...and you may also call me Liz, so you don’t sound so uptight.”
“Okay, Liz” By then, the dance had ended and they stood staring at another. Liz broke the stare and directed her eyes to the incredibly captivating floor. ‘I’m losing it...don’t look directly at him, and you’ll be fine....ignore the fact that his eyes, okay, entire face is the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever seen this side of London....a vast improvement compared to that Duke.’ Liz groaned at that last thought, realizing her night was far from over, she still had to entertain the Duke later on.
“Are you all right? I know I’m no cancan dancer, but am I really that bad?” Maxwell joked.
“What? Oh, no...you’re fine! I just realized I have a long night ahead of me, but I’m sure you wouldn’t want to hear of that, so shall we continue dancing?” Liz shrugged off her feeling of dread and tried to enjoy the moment, which wasn’t very difficult since she really enjoyed spending time with this Maxwell fellow.
“Yes, of course!” Maxwell agreed.
At that moment, a slow ballad began, one of the few played during the night, and the two just looked at each other nervously. Elizabeth took the initiative and put one hand in Maxwell’s and the other on his shoulder and began dancing.
“So, Maxwell, what brings you to London?” Liz began, looking everywhere except for his eyes.
“I..uh..oh! London, right, um...I needed to get away from York, I just got so bored with that town and needed to get out...so now I’m living with Michael and Alex, the two men that....set you up with me.” Maxwell stated.
‘York? where our great and so unattractive Duke resides...how wonderful..’Elizabeth thought.
“York, huh? I’ve never been there...I’ve been a London citizen all my life, not that its an awful place to live, but my family didn’t exactly have the finances to live anywhere else, or even here, for that matter....”Liz trailed off, looking sad for a moment.
“Where is your family?” Maxwell asked, noticing the sad look in Liz’s eyes.
“I’d rather not talk about it....So what brings you to Scarlet Fever? It seems that someone like you doesn’t really belong in a brothel such as this.” Liz observed, changing the subject quickly.
Max was taken aback by her sudden burst of conversation and her edging around the subject of family matters, but he went along with it anyway.
“You’re right, I’m not much for places like this, but if I had known someone like yourself would be in here, I would have taken up the clubbing hobby years ago!” Maxwell blurted out. ‘You idiot! Where did that last bit come from?’ he scolded himself.
Liz was surprised at the compliment for a moment and laughed.
‘I made her laugh! Say something amusing!’ Maxwell told himself.
“Say, did you hear the joke about...no, wait, um....I’m going to be quiet before I make a fool of myself....fell free to run away at any moment, I won’t blame you.” Max mumbled dejectedly, looking down at the floor.
“No, I'll stay, if that’s all right with you.” Elizabeth said with a smile. ‘He’s so cute, trying to be funny and all.’ she thought to herself. ‘No! He’s not cute! He can’t be cute! You don’t like him and you don’t want him to kiss you!’ She scolded herself inwardly.
Max and Liz exchanged small talk for the rest of the dance and were nearing the end when they both realized that they had leaned their faces quite close to one another, preparing to kiss. It was at that exact moment Jonathan found Elizabeth, trailed by none other than the Duke.
“Elizabeth!” Jonathan greeted, causing the two to snap away from each other like they burned one another.
“I’ve finally found you! I think our Duke was becoming a tad jealous of this fellow over here and decided to cut in, you don’t mind do you, old boy? I think you need to share the wealth!” Jonathan said to Maxwell.
Maxwell was a little disappointed that his moment with Liz had to end, they were just beginning to warm up to each other, but he knew the Duke could pull rank and decided to bow out with dignity.
“No, its quite all right, sir...Elizabeth, I have had a wonderful time, enjoy the rest of your evening.” Maxwell said, bowing and kissing Liz’s hand while looking into her eyes.
“And thank you for a lovely dance, Mr. Evans...you too enjoy your evening, I hope to see you around another night, maybe?” Elizabeth said hopefully. ‘Where did that come from?’ She thought.
“Yes, of course.” Maxwell said with a slight grin. He turned away from the new couple of the Duke and Elizabeth and headed back to his table, only to be met by his two friends sporting large grins on their faces.
“So how did it go?” Michael asked.
So there it is again, feedback to tell me if you like it or if I should leave it dead and buried....thanks!!