|posted on 23-Jul-2002 6:57:43 PM by Kath7|
|Part 6 - Page 13|
Part 5 - Page 10
AN - Page 11
Part 4 - Page 8
Part 3 - Page 6
Author's Note - Page 4
Part 2 - page 2
Summary: What if Max had aced that audition in Secrets and Lies? From a challenge by RachieB. This girl has GREAT ideas. I have to stop looking at anything she posts. She’s getting me in trouble. It picks up RIGHT after Max’s audition and so everything that comes out after it never happened.
Disclaimer: Don’t own the characters or anything leading up to this story. I’m just borrowing them with thanks.
Author’s Note: So most of my stories are kind of angsty…have you noticed that? LOL This is one I’m writing purely for fun. And, yes, I will finish all my outstanding stories. I can’t help it if Max in Union is driving me bananas right now and not behaving the way I want him to, can I? I’m still fighting with him at the moment, attempting to beat him into submission, so we’ll see about that. And BOTS and AYW are both puttering along merrily, so they won’t suffer.
Well, that was just about the most humiliating experience of my life, Max Evans reflected as he made his way across the Paramount Studios parking lot, his hands shoved into the pockets of his black leather jacket. He shook his head ruefully at the thought of just how bad he had been in that audition. The irony that he could not believably portray an alien was not lost on him. But, then, he had acted human all his life. Slipping out of the role he hid behind had been more difficult than he had imagined it would be.
Not that mattered in the least. It wasn’t like he wanted to be an actor. That audition had had one purpose and one purpose alone - to get him on the Paramount lot and to that end, it had been highly successful.
And now it was over. Now he could concentrate on his real reason for being in L.A. He was determined that he was going to find the shapeshifter who might be able to help him locate his son if it was the last thing he ever did. He would endure any embarrassment to make sure that it happened.
His girl-friend Liz back in Roswell had actually ended up doing most of the research and now he was on the verge of tracking down a real clue as to how to find the alien protector who had abandoned he and his siblings years before. Max didn’t know what he would do without Liz, really. He still marveled over how lucky he was when it came to her. After all he had done to hurt her, she still loved him enough to want to help him. After this was resolved, he was going to make sure that she knew just how much he appreciated her. Maybe a romantic dinner at Senor Ciao’s where they had had their first date…or a picnic under the stars in the desert. If the could somehow get past her father of course. Max knew he was still in Jeff Parker’s bad books and likely would be for a long time.
He sighed heavily but, at the thought of Liz, Max pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed her number. He wanted to be on the phone with her when he uncovered the truth. She deserved to be in on the moment as much as he did. Plus, it always made everything that much more satisfying, to share it with Liz.
"Hello?" Her voice made him smile, as always.
"Hi, it’s me."
"Well," Liz asked breathlessly. "Did you find him?"
"I’m standing in front of the archives right now," Max replied. He looked around carefully, didn’t see anyone looking at him, so he moved to swipe his hand across the handle, intending to use his powers to unlock the door.
Max jumped about a foot, whirling to find his "agent" Merv standing right behind him. His heart was thundering as he realized how close he had come to revealing himself. Where the hell had the agent come from? He hadn’t been there a moment before.
"I’m glad I found you!" Merv exclaimed in his loud voice. "I thought you might have left. Frakes wants you back there right now! They loved you kid! Loved you! And not even for the alien part! They want you in a bigger role!"
"Max?" Liz’s voice in his ear sounded concerned. "What’s going on? Is everything okay?"
"I think I just got a part on Enterprise," Max told her, dumbfounded as Merv nodded frantically, already pushing him back in the direction he had just come from. "Liz, I’m going to have to call you back."
"Okay." Liz sounded flabbergasted. He didn’t blame her. He didn’t quite know what to make of what was happening either. "I love you."
"I love you too," Max managed to reply before Merv ripped the cell phone out of his hands.
"Was that a girlfriend?" Merv demanded. "I hope it was your mom because you’re going to be Hollywood’s new heart-throb. It makes bad press if you’re tied down already."
Max stopped walking abruptly. "It was my girlfriend," he replied sternly. "And she is not a topic of discussion. What’s between Liz and I has nothing to do with you."
Merv narrowed his eyes. "Hmmm." Finally, he grinned, his mind obviously already whirling off in another direction. "You’re tough Max. I like that. Fine, we’ll play the high school sweetheart angle. Girls love that. We can arrange a big wedding for right after your first movie comes out."
Max just rolled his eyes. How had he ever gotten himself into this mess? Well, he would just tell Mr. Frakes that he wasn’t interested. That would end this whole stupid thing before it even got off the ground. Then he could head back to the archives, get the information he needed, deal with the shapeshifter and, then, head home to Roswell, back to Liz, where he belonged.
"Max! I’m glad you could come back so soon." Jonathan Frakes ushered him into his office and gestured him to a chair. Max managed to smile back weakly, utterly uncomfortable. He wondered again how the hell he had managed to get himself entangled in this situation. But it was really okay. He’d just tell them he wasn’t interested and that would be that.
Max grimaced, embarrassed, as Merv perched on the edge of the desk and pushed his face close to Mr. Frakes. "We don’t have all day Jonny. What’ve you got for us?" He grinned back at Max. "Representing the next Tom Cruise keeps me a busy man. The phones are ringing day and night."
"I can believe it," Mr. Frakes replied, leaning back in his chair and folding his hands over his chest. "But I think you’re going to find that this is worth your while." He ignored Merv entirely and focused his attention on Max. "Needless to say, you’re not right for the role on Enterprise. I just didn’t buy you as an alien."
Max felt his lips twitching. He was beginning to appreciate the humour of this situation. If he didn’t have other things to worry about - namely his son - he would be enjoying this a lot. "Okay," he said quietly when Merv kicked him, clearly thinking he should say something.
"But I’ve watched your tape again," Frakes continued, as though he hadn’t spoken. "You’ve got something Max. I don’t know what the hell it is, but I couldn’t take my eyes off you on my T.V. screen." He opened the desk drawer and pulled out a large sheaf of papers. Max realized it was a script. "Kal Langley and I are producing a new series together. And I think you might just be perfect for it."
"Kal Langley!" Merv exclaimed. "Kid! This is the big-time!" Max could almost see dollar signs rolling across his eyes. Merv turned to Frakes. "But Langley’s a movie producer. What’s he doing getting involved in T.V?"
"He’s had a pet project he’s wanted to produce for a long time," Frakes replied. "He sent it over to me and I told him that it would work better as T.V. He agreed and so we’re prepping it for a January debut for Fox. The entire thing is ready to go. It’s already been picked up because Kal’s name is attached. We just haven’t cast the lead and we’re getting desperate." He looked at Max again. "But I think the search might be over." He continued to stare at Max, his eyes assessing. "Kal just needs to take a look at him and, if I’m right - that Max is exactly what Langley’s been looking for - he can be on the set tomorrow morning."
"I don’t think…" Max began, getting ready to tell both Merv and Mr. Frakes that he wasn’t really interested.
He was cut off as Merv picked up the script and looked at the top page. "Destiny? Cool title."
Max felt his heart stop. "Destiny?" He croaked in disbelief. The word was enough to make him break out in a cold sweat. He hated that word.
But Mr. Frakes seemed to think that he was implying he wanted to know more about it. "Yeah. It’s a neat premise. A teenage boy discovers that his girlfriend is an alien - a queen - and that she is supposed to marry some other guy. Anyway, the other guy brings his evil aliens and they attack the Earth to get her back. The original guy and the girlfriend have to fight the evil aliens to make sure they can still be together. We’ve got Brad Hart for the alien fiancé and we’ve cast a new girl whose been getting a lot of buzz - Lily Sanchez - as the girlfriend."
Max watched Merv nod his head, impressed by the names. Max, on the other hand, had never heard of Brad Hart or Lily Sanchez. He didn’t give a crap about Brad Hart or Lily Sanchez! He felt like he was about to pass out. Was it just a gigantic coincidence that a new T.V. series sounded an awful lot like the horror story that was his life? Switch the teenage boy for a teenage girl and the alien queen for an alien king and Frakes had basically just told the tale of his romance with Liz.
It could not be a coincidence. Could it?
He took the script from Merv, his hands shaking as he flipped it open randomly. He scanned a scene from somewhere in the middle, his heart thundering in his chest.
Interior - A White Room - Beth is strapped down on a table, a man in a white suit, which covers his face completely, is hovering over her, a scalpel in his hand.
Beth: (tears streaming down her face) "What do you want?"
Man: (menacingly) "I want to protect my planet from the likes of you. And if I have to cut you into pieces to figure out how to do it, I will."
Just as the man moves to cut Beth, the wall is blasted in. Enter Matt followed by Beth’s sister Bella (blonde, buxom) and their friend Andrew White (skinny, geeky). Andrew raises his hand and light comes shooting out of it, sending the man threatening Beth flying across the room.
Bella and Matt hurry to Beth’s side.
Matt: (worried) Beth! Are you okay?
Beth: Matt! What are you doing here? (to Bella) What have you done?
Bella: I had to tell him the truth Beth. His dad helped us get in here!
Beth: (horrified) Sheriff Desmond knows?
Matt: He doesn’t care. His life’s work has now been proven. He’ll protect you Beth. He loves you as much as I do.
Beth (nervously): But, Matt, how can you accept this? I’m…I’m not from around here.
Matt: (lovingly) It doesn’t matter Beth. Isn’t it what you always say? We make our own destiny. And you’re mine.
Max slammed the script shut, stared down at the cover in disbelief. Not exactly his life, but a little too close for comfort. Beth? Matt? Bella? Definitely too close for comfort.
He stared at the name of the writer on the title page. "Mr. Langley wrote the script himself?" He asked, his voice sounding weak to even his own ears. But that could have been because of the dull roar that had taken up residence in his brain as he tried to understand what the hell it was he was reading.
"Yup! Isn’t it great!" Frakes stood up, moved around the desk. "So, what do you say kid? Do you want to screen-test with Lily? If it works out well, I’ll show it to Kal and it will all be settled."
"I…" Max stared up at him, unable to say anything. "Can you excuse me for a minute?" He asked abruptly, stumbling to his feet and out the door. He hurried out of the building, unsure where he was going, but knowing that he needed to be out of there immediately, if not sooner. He needed air desperately.
Once out in the fresh air (or as fresh as it got in L.A. anyway), Max took a few deeps breaths, his mind in turmoil. Who was this Kal Langley and what did he know about him and the others? Was he the shapeshifter and this script was his way of telling Max so? But why this way? Why not just seek him out face to face? And, if this was his way of seeking him out, was he not the one sending Max all those threats to get out of L.A.?
Max rubbed a hand across his face, unsure which way to proceed. Not for the first time, he wished he had given into Liz’s wish to accompany him here. Her common sense would be invaluable at the moment. Common sense of any sort was in short supply in Hollywood. He realized that he was aching for her.
Thinking of Liz made him remember why he was on the Paramount lot in the first place. All he needed to do was go to the archives, get the name of the clapper loader and then he could confront him. He wouldn’t need to deal with this Kal Langley at all. He could try and forget that he had ever seen that script.
Although he knew that wasn’t likely to happen. He had been spooked to the bone by the story for the T.V. series Destiny. He realized that he really should go back into Mr. Frakes’s office to find out as much as he could about the writer.
Max closed his eyes, took a deep breath. He couldn’t be a chicken about this. If Langley knew something about he and Michael and Isabel, Max needed to know. It was actually more important than finding out about the shapeshifter. Because if he wasn’t the shapeshifter, than that opened a whole other can of worms.
But finding the shapeshifter might help him find his son. And that’s why he was in L.A. in the first place - to find his son. He couldn’t waste time on a script that could be just a gigantic, weird parallel.
And so, Max stood outside the office building on the Paramount lot, trying to decide which route was the best one to take. In the end though, the decision was made for him. Because as he finally decided that the archives should be his first order of business, he heard sirens in the distance.
Frowning, Max stared after the fire truck that came flying past him. He was not surprised when Merv suddenly appeared at his elbow. "We’ve been told to get off the lot. Fire in the archives," he told Max, grabbing him by the arm and hauling him after him.
Max felt his heart stop again at the news. The archives! The dailies he needed to uncover the identity of the shapeshifter were in the archives! "Frakes says he’ll see us on location later today," Merv continued. "They’re already filming all the scenes without the character of Matt in them. You can meet Lily Sanchez there."
"Wait!" Max exclaimed. "I never agreed to do this!"
"You didn’t have to. I know you’re not stupid. We’re not passing up this opportunity," Merv told him. "I knew you’d be a star kid. I just never thought it would be this quick!"
Max stared behind him as Merv ushered him to the car they had arrived in. He could see flames shooting over the tops of the buildings from the direction of the film archives, which were obviously well on the way to being completely destroyed.
It could not be a coincidence. None of it could be. He had been pulled off the street to read for a role, when he was obviously a terrible actor. It had been a distraction, just enough of one to make sure that he hadn’t gotten a look at those dailies.
His only lead had just gone up in smoke. He was suddenly so weary, he let his head drop down in frustration.
But, as Max stared down, he realized that he still had the Destiny script in his hands. His eyes narrowed. Maybe all was not lost after all.
To be continued…
[ edited 8 time(s), last at 27-Dec-2002 12:39:09 AM ]
|posted on 26-Jul-2002 11:10:13 PM by Kath7|
|Author’s Note: So I wanted this story to be completely light-hearted, but as someone reminded me in feedback, anything post-Tess can’t be totally joyous and that is true. While this is a farce more than anything, I do want it to be somewhat realistic, so Max and Liz aren’t happy, happy, joy, joy all the time. Everything re: Tess and the spawn will work itself out in the end. I promise!|
FYI - I’m off to the lake for a few days, so this is the last update until at least Wednesday.
Max called Liz as soon as he got back to the cheap motel room he had paid for through the end of the week.
"What was that all about?" Liz asked, sounding worried as she picked up after the second ring. "Did you really get a part on Enterprise?"
"Well, no," Max said reluctantly. "They want me to read for a new show that’s coming out. I’m going to do it this afternoon."
There was a long pause. Max frowned, unsure what Liz was thinking. He hated the fact that most of their communication lately had been over the phone. He missed being able to read her immediately, based on the expressions that crossed her always expressive face. "They want you to read?" Liz’s tone was teasing when she finally answered. "I think you need to come home Max. You’re beginning to pick up the Hollywood lingo already. Just promise you’re not going to run off and become a movie star and leave me back here in Roswell, bored, and all by myself."
Max frowned. While Liz was trying to keep her tone light, he could hear the underlying fear. He knew that she still had nightmares about how close he had come to returning to Antar, straight into the clutches of his enemies. "It’s not about that Liz," he reassured her quickly. "It’s a clue. You’re never going to believe this script…"
She cut him off. "What about the archives? Didn’t they work out?"
"Well, they sort of burnt to the ground before I could get back to them," Max admitted, grimacing.
"Liz, it’s okay. I’m fine."
"Max, that sounds just a little too coincidental to me," Liz flared back. "What about all those notes? What if you had been in there when they caught on fire? Someone in L.A. is threatening you and I don’t like it."
"Liz, I’m sure it was just an accident," Max reassured her, although he was certain of no such thing. In fact, he agreed with her. It was entirely too coincidental. But he truly did believe the fire had been set to hide the truth, not to hurt him. Hadn’t he been distracted before he could go in there? The script had been meant to confuse him, to keep him away from the archives long enough to destroy the evidence. He was almost certain of it now. It was why he had to keep the audition, was why he had to go meet this Kal Langley face to face. Even if he couldn’t help with the search for his son, Max had to find out why this man seemed to know so much about him and everyone he cared about.
"Max, I’m coming there." Liz’s voice broke into his thoughts. Her tone brooked no nonsense. "I don’t like this at all. You shouldn’t be alone."
"Liz! No!" He exclaimed without thinking.
"Don’t you want me there?" She demanded, but he could hear the hurt. He knew that she had not been at all happy to be left behind. He hated that she still felt so insecure sometimes. He hated that he had done that to her. He would never forgive himself for what had happened with Tess because of it. And he knew that the search for his son was a constant reminder of it. It was just such a horrible mess. He couldn’t abandon his son, but he also couldn’t figure out a way to make Liz see that what had happened with Tess had been the worst mistake of his life, that he had never loved her, that he had given in to self-pity and despair and loneliness and that he would regret it for the rest of his life.
Sometimes Max wished that it would all just go away - that one day he would wake up with his fingers tapping to discover that it had all been a gigantic mind-warp and that none of it had ever happened. But he tried not to think about that too often. It only made it worse because of the horrible truth of it. He had to face that he had been weak, that he had betrayed everything he had always tried to be and that he had also almost completely destroyed the most important relationship in his life - the one he shared with Liz.
Even now, when they were both trying so hard, things were nowhere near the same. For one thing, the flashes that had made their relationship so special had never returned. He wondered about it sometimes, but tried not to miss them too much. He had Liz. He should be grateful for that he knew. And, yet, it also worried him. Because, without them, he couldn’t get a clear read on exactly how Liz was feeling about their connection. She had told him once that she knew what it was like to be with him and she knew what it was like to be without him and that she chose to be with him. It had been nice to hear and, yet, sad at the same time. Because, where before their relationship had been about nothing more than knowing deep in their hearts that they belonged together, about knowing exactly how they felt about each other, thanks in large part to the flashes, now it was almost like it was about being too scared to face the world alone. And that was not what he and Liz were supposed to be about. They were supposed to choose to be together. They weren’t supposed to just give in to it because they were too afraid to completely let go of what they once had.
Max still got shivers when he remembered the first time he had truly understood that she loved him as much as he loved her. It had been during the period where they couldn’t keep their hands off of each other, thanks to the orb hidden in the desert. It had been the most illuminating and wonderful time of his life. The innocence and purity of what he had shared with Liz then was what he had always wanted their relationship to be like. But things could never go back to that. Tess had come and everything had changed and most of it was his fault and he would never forgive himself for almost ruining things.
All he could do now was thank God that she had forgiven him and try and be the person he had always intended to be, to try and be the person Liz had always believed him to be. Because, while he wondered sometimes if she might not be better off without him, he could not give her up. He loved her more than anything. The first step was to make sure that he never hurt her again, even if by accident, which he seemed to do all the time, no matter how hard he tried not to. They had to rebuild something even stronger than what they had shared before. He was determined that they were going to do it. If they couldn’t live without each other, then they had to make sure that all the hurt had been worth it.
"Of course I do," Max told her now, hoping that she believed him, because it was certainly the truth. "It’s just that your dad will never let you come. And I can’t have him hate me even more Liz. I just can’t. We can’t risk it. We need to make him trust us again."
"Well, what about Michael then?"
"He has school Liz. He can’t miss anymore."
"Max, you have school!" Liz reminded him pointedly.
"I know," Max sighed. "I’ll catch up. It’s not like anything’s going to come of this anyway. I’ll probably be just another few days. And if I have to stay longer, I’ll call Izzy and ask her to come. She doesn’t care about her college classes that much anyway and it will be good for her to get away from Roswell for a while. Is that better?"
There was another long pause. "I guess so. I just wish I could be there," Liz finally replied. "I miss you." H didn’t get a chance to tell her the same because she changed the subject so quickly that he blinked. "I’m sorry the archives didn’t work out Max. What are we going to do if you don’t find out anything?"
Max closed his eyes, sighed. "I’m trying not to think about that. I’m still holding out hope that this script means something."
"I don’t get it. What’s in the script?"
He spent the remaining fifteen minutes before Merv came to pick him up dissecting the Destiny script with her. She didn’t like it of course. It worried her even more.
"Max, it’s just really scary that someone came up with a script so close to our lives," Liz finally told him. "I don’t like it at all."
"I know," Max sighed. "It has to be just a fluke though."
"Max, nothing is ever a fluke when it comes to us." Liz sounded resigned, almost distant.
"Liz, are you okay?"
"Yes. I’m just thinking."
"About what?" Max asked, worried.
"About how irritated I am that I’m stuck here."
"You’re here in spirit. That’s what counts."
"I know. And it’s not like I could do anything to protect you physically if it came down to it, but I just want to be with you Max."
"Me too." He paused again, unsure what else to say. "I’ll call you after the audition, okay?"
"Make it late," Liz replied, trying to be cheerful. "Maria, Kyle and I are going to a movie. It’s the new one with Brad Hart."
Max felt a grin beginning to break across his face. "Brad Hart huh?"
"Yup. The only man I’d run off with."
"Well, I’ve already run off with you too many times to count," Liz told him breezily. "It’s getting boring. I need some new prospects."
"Well, I’ll be sure to tell him so when I screen-test with him today," Max replied wickedly. "Bye Liz. I love you." And with that, he hung up, grinning to the sound of her screeching, "WHAT?"
His smile faded as his eyes fell on the Destiny script, which sat on the bed in front of him. Liz was right. It was just too weird. But he would get answers soon enough. If he could get through this screen test without making a complete ass of himself, he could ask to meet the mysterious Kal Langley.
Max had seen Langley of course, across the crowded restaurant with Merv a couple of days before. He hadn’t looked strange, but then, neither had Nasedo. Come to think of it, neither did he or Isabel or Michael. And there could be no question that none of them were normal.
He sighed, picked up the script and went outside to wait for Merv.
An hour later he was shaking Mr. Frakes’s hand again. Max was surprised by how nervous he was. It wasn’t like he cared one way or the other how the audition went. What was important was meeting Kal Langley. And, yet, he couldn’t help but look over Mr. Frakes’s shoulder in fascination. It was the first time since he had come to L.A. that Max actually understood that he was indeed in the middle of the city where stars were born. The first episode of the T.V show Destiny was coming to life right in front of him.
That wasn’t the freakiest part though. Not by a long shot. The freakiest part was the fact that he was staring across the street at an almost exact replica of the Crashdown Café. Sure, it was called "Area 51," but the sign was practically identical, as were the doors and the tables that sat on the patio outside Liz’s parents’ restaurant.
There could be no doubt now that this script was trying to tell him something. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. For a moment he really considered turning on his heels and walking away. There was a murderer out there after all. He had been warned away several times already. Was this really the wisest decision - walking right into the lion’s den?
"Are you ready Max?" Frakes asked, looking a little jittery. He was obviously anxious for the screen-test to go well. He couldn’t be pleased about coming so down to the wire in casting the lead role in such an important series. Max almost felt bad that he was certainly not going to turn out to be the right person.
"He was born ready," Merv interjected as Max opened his mouth to reply. "Just point a camera at him and watch magic happen Jonny."
Mr. Frakes’s eyes narrowed slightly, but he nodded. "Okay then." He turned, gestured for Max and Merv to follow him. "Brad and Lily are over here."
Max felt pleased that he was going to get to meet Brad Hart. He had been teasing Liz about screen-testing with him after all. Max didn’t even really know who he was. But if he could get an autograph for Liz, she would be happy no doubt. He loved the way her eyes lit up when he surprised her. He didn’t do it enough. He knew it and fully intended to rectify that as soon as he got home.
"Brad!" Mr. Frakes called out. "That kid I was telling you about is here."
A tall blond guy turned from where he was talking to a grey-haired man in a baseball cap. Max recognized the actor a bit. He was pretty sure he had had a small part in Harrison Ford’s last movie - the one he had hated and Michael had loved. Brad stared at Max for what seemed like forever before his lip curled slightly and he said to Frakes, "Do you need me for the screen-test?"
"No. It’s with Lily. Gotta test the waters."
Brad snorted. "Good luck with that." He rolled his eyes and sauntered away.
Frakes’s grimaced slightly. "Brad and Lily aren’t getting along very well," he muttered to Max confidentially. "They’re both great kids but I think they worked on something together last year and had a tiff of some sort. They’re like oil and water but it’s magic on the screen, I’m telling you."
Max shrugged. "Okay." He tucked that little piece of gossip away for Liz and Isabel. He was sure both of them would enjoy it.
"Where’s Lil?" Frakes asked the grey-haired man.
"She’s in her trailer," was the reply. "Is this the kid?"
"Sure is. Max, this is Daniel Reeves, the director."
"Nice to meet you Max." Reeves held out his hand, still looking distracted. "Those frigging plants are blocking all my shots," he told Mr. Frakes. "I’m going to send Cindy to ask the town if we can cut them down."
"Fine. Do you want to see the test?" Frakes asked.
Reeves focused his gaze right on Max’s face, frowning slightly. "Nah. He looks good to me. I’m assuming he can act or he wouldn’t be here."
"Of course," Merv piped in. Max felt his face reddening. Of course was a little strong. Not really would have been a tad more accurate.
Just get through the reading, Max ordered himself. You can do that and then you can ask to meet Langley. Embarrassment does not matter. Your son is all that matters. Getting home to Liz is all that matters. You are never going to see any of these people again.
Frakes had started walking again, this time towards a grouping of trucks and trailers further down the block. "One of these will be yours of course," he told Max as they stopped in front of the second one from the end. He knocked. "This is all really a formality," he continued. "Langley saw the Enterprise tape from this morning and he loved you."
Max felt his heart drop. "He did? You mean I’m not going to meet him?"
"Not today," Frakes replied. "Probably tomorrow though. He’ll be on set then with rewrites."
Max grimaced. This was terrible news! It meant he was going to have to get through the audition - unless he could manage to finagle some information out of Frakes about where Langley could be found.
He was turning ideas over in his head as Mr. Frakes pounded on the door of Lily Sanchez’s trailer, as she had failed to answer the first time. It opened moments later and Max found himself staring, despite himself. The girl standing in the doorway looked so much like Liz it momentarily made his heart start beating more quickly.
"Hi Jonathan! Is this Max?" Lily tossed her dark hair, which was long and silky, just like Liz’s. Her dark eyes were friendly and intelligent - just like Liz’s. She moved her tiny frame backwards, ushering them into the trailer. "Sorry ‘bout the mess. I was just getting changed." Max looked around. The trailer did indeed look like a tornado had hit it.
Okay, check. Not Liz. He tried to hide the grin that was threatening to break across his face. The absurdity of the whole matter was beginning to make laughter just about impossible to contain.
"Hi Max, I’m Lily." He realized that the actress was addressing him. She was looking at him strangely. Max grimaced. He hoped he hadn’t been staring at her too obviously.
"Hi. Sorry," he muttered. "You just look an awful lot like…"
"Audrey Hepburn?" Lily giggled. "I know! I’ve heard that like a million times!" She looked at Mr. Frakes. "Is everything all set up?"
"Sure is. I’m just going to leave you two alone for a few minutes - give Max a chance to get comfortable. Maybe you can run some lines," Mr. Frakes said as he backed out of the trailer. "I’ll see you both in the production trailer in ten. C’mon Merv. You can come with me, take a look at the contract."
Max felt panic setting in. Good lord! He was going to have to act! Again! This was horrible.
Lily was looking at him curiously. "You look nervous. Are you okay?" She smiled at him. "It’s fine. I don’t bite - really!"
"Um, okay." He fidgeted. "I’m just kind of new at this."
"Really?" Lily asked. "Well, I’ll be gentle then." She grinned at him, her smile so much like Liz’s, it started his heart pounding again. He felt a pang, missing his girlfriend more than ever. "So do you want to do this then?" Lily continued, picking up the script. "Jonathan told me they want to do the scene after Matt catches Beth kissing Tom in the rain."
Max knew exactly the scene she meant. He had read through the entire script on the long drive through L.A’s heavy traffic. Every scene had been familiar, snapshots of his life as though taken and then twisted in a fun-house mirror. They were all similar to things he had lived and, yet, slightly different, enough details changed so that there was no way to confirm that they had indeed been lifted right from his existence.
"Okay," Lily said. "We’ll pick it up on page 34."
Max gulped, felt himself reddening as he flipped to the page in question. He could feel Lily’s eyes on him, measuring him. He was beginning to realize that he had to do well on this screen-test. It was the only way to assure that he would be around tomorrow when Langley showed up on the set. He knew that he would try and find the producer tonight anyway, but if he was unsuccessful, he couldn’t waste anymore time. He had to be cast. There was no other way to guarantee meeting the writer of this script.
It was time to go for broke. He looked down at the lines, back at Lily and then began.
Exterior - Area 51 Diner
Rain pours down as Beth walks up. Matt is visible inside, swinging chairs up onto tables. His eyes meet Beth’s through the window. He walks slowly towards her, unlocks the door, his expression blank. She enters.
Interior - Area 51 Diner
Beth (desperately): You have to let me explain. Please!
Matt (distantly): You don’t have to. We never made any promises. You’re free to see whoever you want.
Beth: But I don’t want to see him Matt! He kissed me! I swear it.
Matt (angry) : I saw you Beth! It looked like you were both pretty into it.
Beth (looks away, then back) : You don’t understand. It’s what we are. We were made for each other. I have no control over myself when he’s around.
Matt (resigned) : I know. And I don’t plan to stand in the way.
Beth (quietly): What if I want you to? Stand in the way I mean?
There is a long pause. Beth and Matt stare at each other, all the love they feel visible on their faces.
Matt: It means we’ll have to fight a war Beth.
Beth (moves forward, touches Matt’s face) : I’m ready.
"Aaaaannnnnddd….Cut!" Daniel Reeves’s voice made Max jump. He was still staring down into Lily’s face, his mouth inches from hers.
Good lord! He had been about to kiss her! Max straightened so quickly, he was forced to take a step back when he lost his balance. He felt his cheeks reddening as Lily grinned at him, suddenly Lily again and no longer Beth, the love of his life. He shook his head, still amazed that he had managed to become so lost in the script that he had momentarily forgotten that he wasn’t Matt and that this girl was not Beth and they were not in love.
After Max had resigned himself to the fact that he was going to have to go through with the audition and that he was going to have to do well, he had thought about exactly how he could accomplish it. The only thing that had sprung to mind was to call upon all the acting ability he had been forced to use over the past ten years - ever since he had figured out that he was not normal and that if he wanted to stay safe, he was going to have to pretend he was. He had also realized that if he imagined that Lily was Liz - which wasn’t hard to do considering how much they looked alike - he wouldn’t even have to pretend to love her. Because he always found it damn near impossible to hide how he felt about Liz when he was with her.
It had turned out be easy. He had lost himself in the script and they had finished before he even knew what was happening. Instead of forcing the words as he had at the Enterprise audition, he just let them come naturally, and he had apparently fooled them all if the expressions on Lily and Reeves’s faces at the moment were any indication.
"That was amazing! It looks like we have our Matt Desmond." Mr. Frakes’s voice came from behind the camera. He moved forward, his face lit up. "I just knew you were right Max. You two are going to set the T.V. world on fire."
Merv came bouncing up behind Frakes, a sheet of white papers clutched in his hands. "Here’s the contract kid! All you have to do is sign it and the rest will be history."
Max took the papers from Merv, looked down at them, then back at Frakes. "If I sign this, I’ll get to meet Kal Langley tomorrow. Is that right?"
"You’ll probably see more of Langley than you’ll want to," Lily whispered conspiratorially. "He never leaves us alone. This show is his baby."
Frakes glared at Lily good-naturedly. "Lil!" He looked at Max. "You will definitely meet Kal tomorrow. I guarantee it."
Max swallowed and nodded. "Okay then…" He set the sheaf of papers down on the table and signed his name on the line at the bottom. He felt a shiver of excitement descend his spine in spite of himself. He couldn’t quite believe that he had managed to get the part. It was almost beyond belief actually. He had never once considered acting as a career. He knew that Isabel had always dreamed of being a star, but he had always been too shy to even consider such a thing, imagining it as more of a nightmare. They had always known that putting themselves out there in public that way was a mistake anyway. They couldn’t draw attention to themselves.
He had had fun though. And it was okay this time. He would meet Langley tomorrow and then he would tell Mr. Frakes that acting just wasn’t for him. They would have to recast and no one would ever know the difference. It’s not like his face would end up on T.V. or anything. This was a means to an end, nothing more.
Yet, as he said good-bye to Lily and Mr. Frakes, he couldn’t help but feel a pang of regret. Max shook his head ruefully. He must be losing his mind. He couldn’t wait to get back to the motel to call Liz. She was going to find the whole thing hilarious. He grinned to himself in anticipation. He loved making her laugh. When she laughed, the whole world felt right.
And, as he thought of Liz, Destiny the T.V. show slipped right out of his mind.
Author’s Note 2: Yup. I’m as aware as anybody how stupid Max was to sign that contract. But he doesn’t know anything about Hollywood so we’ll just forgive him huh? It’s a dumb plot device, but I had to use it. Sorry!
|posted on 1-Aug-2002 4:03:43 AM by Kath7|
Yes, I am back and giggling a plenty over your feedback. This story is just too, too amusing to plot - I'm telling you. I'm hoping it won't be TOO angsty, but M&L just seem to bring it out in me. Sigh! LOL Anyway, no new part ready. I don't have electricity at the cabin, but I hope to have something up by the weekend. Next part we'll get into our lady Liz's head about all this. And you're all right. She isn't going to be amused by this. But she'll have other things to deal with. Trust me.
Thanks again! Your support makes this so much more fun to write!
|posted on 10-Aug-2002 4:55:12 PM by Kath7|
|Author's Note: Thanks for the feedback folks. This story isn't shaping up quite the way I'd imagined it, but it is still fun to write! It seems that we have a little angst to get through before we can get to the fun stuff. It's all the writers's fault. I'm just saying...LOL|
Liz Parker hit the End button on her cell phone and stared off into the night sky. Her eyes went automatically to the V constellation, just as they always did whenever she thought about Max out on her balcony. She narrowed her gaze and wondered, not for the first time, if Tess had actually made it back there with Max’s son. If so, staring at those stars only reminded her of the fact that this quest on which she and Max were embroiled could only end in one place - with him leaving her.
And, yet, she knew that if they didn’t do this, they would both feel guilty about it for the rest of their lives. The baby Tess and Max had created in their one night of exploring their alien sides as Max called it (it still made Liz want to be sick just thinking about it but she knew that the way he brushed it off was his way of trying to pretend to himself that it hadn’t really happened) was innocent after all, in spite of the fact that its mother was murdering wench.
Liz didn’t understand why she felt this almost unstoppable urge to help Max, but she did. She knew that she had lost him once - thanks to her own screw-up with Future Max - and she couldn’t bear to lose him again. He had never been the same since she had broken his heart that night the year before, when he had thought he had caught her bed with Kyle, and neither had she. She felt it was her duty to try and fix what she and that future version of him had done. They had killed her best friend - poor, innocent Alex - and they had destroyed the man Max Evans was supposed to be. The least Liz could do was forgive Max for it. He had been as much a pawn in Tess’s manipulations as any of them. The only way Liz could think of to show Max she was trying to move forward was to help him find the baby that she had to believe was meant to be.
Because if she didn’t believe it, she knew that she would never be able to deal with the fact that Max had slept with Tess. And she had to deal with it if she wanted to be with him. It could have been her. It was supposed to have been her. But she had made sure it wasn’t on that October night the year before - and she had to accept it. She loved him still and that was all there was to it.
For a while, it had helped her to feel in control, searching with Max the way she was. She had felt control missing from her life for so long - ever since she and Future Max had done what they had done in fact - and dealing with the consequences of her actions had started to change that. The investigation into Alex’s murder had been the first step in reclaiming it. Exposing Tess had been the second. Finding Max’s son seemed to be the third. They were fixing their mistakes and when they finished, maybe things would return to the way they had been before. Maybe then the flashes would come back and she would truly feel the connection again - she would truly regain the pure, innocent love that had been so magical and so fulfilling.
It was only now that she was beginning to realize that rather than reclaiming their lives, she and Max had been making an even bigger mess of them. She still wasn’t quite sure why pretending to rob that convenience store had seemed like such a brilliant idea. It only emphasized to her how completely out of control she still was. And now, as she sat tapping her fingers on her knee, a frown on her face, the fact that Max was hundreds of miles away in California when all she really wanted was for him to be sitting beside her, only emphasized this.
Not that he could be sitting beside her, even if he was in Roswell. Her mood darkened even more as she reflected on her father, as she thought about how he was keeping her away from Max. It had been her decision to stop defying him and she still felt sorry for her dad that he had experienced the loss of his first love because of recklessness he felt reminded him of the way she and Max were behaving, but deep down she had thought he would get over it in a couple of weeks if she stopped fighting him about it, if she and Max tried to be the two perfect teens they had once been.
All those hopes had changed when she had been sitting on the couch in the living room talking to Max earlier. After they had hung up so that he could go to his audition and she could go meet Kyle and Maria in the restaurant, Liz pulled open the drawer on the table next to the couch, intending to sit for a few minutes reflecting on the coincidences Max had told her about in the Destiny script. She agreed with him that they had to mean something and she hoped that by writing them down she would be able to see some sort of pattern in the scenes Max said reminded him of them.
It was then that she had found the application for the Windaman Academy, filled out and dated two days after Liz had told her father that she would stop seeing Max. And underneath it was a fax dated for the day before, saying that Liz had been accepted and that they would expect her on the first of November.
She couldn’t believe it. She had not gone to Los Angeles with Max because of her father. And he was intending to betray her anyway.
She sat through the movie with Kyle and Maria, had not said a word but also now had no idea what the film had been about. She had not told Max when he had called again, right on time as he had promised. She had listened to his story about auditioning, even allowed herself a little thrill that he had actually seen Brad Hart in the flesh, reassured him that he was doing the right thing in going back the next day, admonished him to be careful.
She had not told him what she was planning. He would only tell her not to, still hoping that her father would relent, because, deep down, Max Evans was not the type of person who liked the fact that someone actively distrusted him. He wanted Liz’s father to like him and so he was willing to follow Jeff Parker’s stupid, unfair rules.
Liz wasn’t willing anymore though. Which was why the minute she and Max had hung up, she looked up the number for an airline and booked the first, cheapest flight she could find to L.A. If her father wasn’t going to keep his end of the bargain, than neither was she.
She felt a pang as she slid through her window and into her bedroom and her eyes lit on the picture beside her bed. It was of she and her parents on the night of the prom the year before. She remembered when Maria’s mom had taken it, had seen the expression of pride on her father’s face when he had given Liz her grandmother’s necklace to wear around her neck. Liz could not believe how their relationship had crumbled since, knew that a large part of it was her own fault and, yet, she could not allow herself to be shipped off to a boarding school, away from Max.
If he was really going to have to leave her someday to go after his son - sooner rather than later if Max’s investigation in L.A. panned out - she was not going to waste a moment of the time they did have. Not any more. She knew that she was going to have to deal with her parents when she and Max got back, but until then, she would help him and would make sure that he didn’t get himself into too much trouble. It still made her heart skip a beat to think about how close he had come to getting caught in the fire that had destroyed the archives on the Paramount lot. He needed her. Two heads were better than one in the end and she needed to make sure he didn’t get himself so entangled with all those Hollywood types that he ended up doing something he shouldn’t.
In spite of everything - maybe one of the reasons all the bad stuff had happened actually Liz reflected - Max was still fairly innocent and tended to see the best in everyone. It was one of the reasons Tess had gotten to him in the first place. Liz was not that way anymore. Not after what had happened to Alex. Not after what her father was scheming behind her back. But Max was and the fact that he had gotten the part in the T.V. series worried her. She hoped he wasn’t getting in over his head.
And, so, she was going. Whether her father liked it or not.
She pulled a knap-sack out of her closet, stuffed several outfits into it, as well as her journal, and hid it under her bed. Her flight to Albuquerque left at six A.M. She would call Maria and ask her to drive her. Her best friend would kill her if she left without saying good-bye anyway. She considered calling Isabel and telling her what she was doing after she talked to Maria, but as Liz climbed into bed for the few hours of sleep she had left before Maria picked her up, she decided against it. Liz knew that Max’s sister had been preoccupied with her new boyfriend Jesse lately. She and Max could handle things on their own and Maria could tell Isabel and Michael what was going on.
Liz went to sleep with no problem, absolutely sure that she was making the right choice.
Her plane landed in L.A. at one P.M. She was still a little shell-shocked that she had actually succeeded, that she had truly managed to get out of Roswell without being caught. Maria was not pleased with her, sure that she was doing the wrong thing, but she helped Liz anyway and told her she would cover her for at least the day, including her early morning shift at the Crashdown. She was going to tell Liz’s parents that Liz was up early to continue research on her project with Kyle (which was thankfully finished so that she wouldn’t be leaving him in the lurch) and that she had agreed to work for Liz. Liz blessed her lucky stars that she had Maria. Her best friend was always on her side, no matter how crazy Liz’s life became. The fact that Liz had been right about Alex’s death had only emphasized the fact that Maria would never betray her.
Max had told her the name of the motel he was staying in a few days before, so Liz hired a cab and gave the driver the address. She tried not to feel uncomfortable when she realized that they were entering a less than stellar part of the city. She had been to L.A. before, in spite of Max’s teasing that Disneyland didn’t count, but she and her parents had stuck pretty close to the tourist areas. Max was clearly trying to keep his expenses down by sleeping at a cheap hotel in one of the seedier areas of town.
Still, in the end, it proved to be less difficult to convince the man behind the desk, who stared at her with half-slit eyes (Liz was perfectly convinced he was high - he looked exactly the way Pam Troy’s boyfriend Dan Gallagher did every single day at West Roswell after he smoked up) , to give her the keys to Max Evans’s room than it might have been at a better place. She intended to call Max’s cell as soon as she was settled so that she could meet him somewhere. She knew that he was likely back on the set already, might even have finally met Kal Langley. She wanted to join him as soon as possible. The knawing feeling in the pit of her stomach that Max had somehow gotten himself in trouble would not go away.
Get a grip Liz! She ordered herself as she turned the key in the lock of room 118 and pushed the door open. He’s fine. Nothing can happen to him in front of all the people on that set.
She pushed open the door, flicked on the lights and dumped her bag on the chair beside the window, wrinkling her nose at the bare decor. She knew that Max had brought little with him to L.A. but she could see his leather jacket hanging neatly in the closet (very Max-like behavior). Liz sat down carefully on the bed, pulled out her phone and quickly dialed his number.
It rang ten times before she gave up, sighing. He must be away from his phone. Liz frowned slightly, wondered how she was going to find him. The most logical thing to do was to wait for him where she was, but she really wanted to see him. Now that they were in such close proximity to each other, her entire body was practically humming with anticipation that she was soon going to get to touch him. She hadn’t realized how much she had missed him until this moment.
Plus, sitting around waiting was boring. She was here to help him. She wanted to get on with it.
Liz stood up, looked around the room for any clue as to where she might find him. Her eyes lit on a piece of paper tucked into the mirror over the dresser. It had the name Merv scrawled on it in Max’s familiar handwriting, as well as a phone number. She knew that Merv was the name of Max’s crazy agent.
She quickly dialed the number and sighed with relief when a man picked up after the third ring.
"Merv Dalton here. Talk quick ‘cause I’m expecting a call from Steven. Time is money."
Liz blinked. "Er, okay. Hi. My name is Liz Parker? I’m looking for my boyfriend. I think you represent him. His name is Max Evans?"
There was a long pause and then, "What did you say your name was?" The man sounded suspicious.
Liz frowned. "Liz?"
"Listen girlie, I don’t have time to take calls from fans. Max Evans doesn’t have a girlfriend."
Liz rolled her eyes. "He certainly does. It’s me! You heard him talking to me yesterday."
"I don’t know what you’re talking about," Merv snapped. "Anyway, if you’re his girlfriend, why are you calling me? Don’t you have his number?"
"Yes," Liz replied impatiently. "He’s not answering his phone."
"He’s on the set. He doesn’t have time to take personal calls."
Liz tried not to let her frustration reflect in her voice as she said, "Well, can you tell me where the set is?"
"It’s closed. Listen, I’ve got to go. When I see Max later today, I’ll tell him you called. But I’ve got to warn you. He’s going to be totally tied up for the next few days. They have a lot of shooting to do because it took them so long to cast him."
"Wait a minute!" Liz exclaimed. "Are you saying that Max is actually filming something today? He was supposed to tell Mr. Frakes that he changed his mind. He’s not an actor."
"You don’t sound like a very supportive girlfriend to me," Merv intoned. "He’s an excellent actor. He’s the next Tom Cruise…or at least the next Brad Hart," he amended when he seemed to understand Liz’s astonished silence. "Besides, he signed a contract. If the show gets picked up beyond the first thirteen episodes, he’s locked in for five years."
Liz felt her heart stop. "What?" She whispered.
"I don’t even know why I’m telling you any of this," Merv said. "I have to go. Call Max directly next time. I’m not an answering service."
"Okay," Liz managed to say. "Thank you."
Merv didn’t even wait for that though. He hung up.
Liz stared at the floor, still too shocked to even process what she had just been told.
Max had signed a contract. For five years.
What had he been thinking?
She jumped to her feet, began pacing. She had known that he was going to get himself in trouble by himself! Why hadn’t he let her come with him the first time? She was willing to bet that Max had absolutely no idea what he had done. For him, signing that piece of paper would have been just a way of guaranteeing that got to meet Kal Langley. And now he had legally bound himself to a T.V. show for the next five years.
He wasn’t even an actor. It was ludicrous! And the absolute last thing that Max needed was the publicity that starring on television would involve. He probably didn’t have the first clue what it all meant. But Liz did. It meant that his face was going to be plastered all over the place, that his life-long attempt to stay hidden was going to be shot down in one huge blaze of glory.
She started to laugh. There was absolutely no other way to react to this situation. She knew that she was a little hysterical, but she couldn’t help it. The random thought that Michael was going to completely flip out ran through her head and she laughed even harder. Liz fell back against the pillows on the bed, completely weak with giggles.
She stopped laughing when she realized that she had fallen on something. Reaching behind her, she pulled out a thick sheaf of white papers. Liz stared down at the title page.
Destiny: Pilot Episode.
Liz sighed, leaned back against the head-board and flipped open to the first page. Since she still had absolutely no idea how to find Max, she was just going to have to wait for him to come back. She might as well spend the time productively. She would read through the script, making notes about the parts that were most disturbingly like Max’s life. That way, at least, they could make some headway in their investigation when he got back, especially if he had met Kal.
She refused to think about what the fact that Max had signed away five years of his life without a single thought meant. She wouldn’t worry about it until she saw him. Maybe Merv didn’t know what he was talking about. Maybe Max had spoken to Mr. Frakes cript and Max, the sooner they could just go home and forget any of this had ever happened.
Liz started to read.
Next part hopefully later this weekend
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Aug-2002 4:56:00 PM ]
|posted on 22-Aug-2002 7:34:37 PM by Kath7|
|Author's Note: Thanks for the bumpage guys. Sorry it's been so long. Real life and four other stories tend to do that! LOL Anyway, enjoy.|
"Thanks for the ride Lily," Max said as she pulled her BMW to a stop outside the door to his motel room. "I can’t believe we filmed so late. I didn’t want to make Merv wait for me."
Lily turned her head, sending her long dark hair flying. "You’re going to need to get some transportation of your own Mr. Evans. You can’t have your agent chauffeuring you around all day." She paused, grinned. "Not that I think Merv has much else to do. I think you’re his only client."
Max rolled his eyes. "He says he likes to be attentive. And I already have a car." He pointed through the windshield at his blue Chevelle.
Lily wrinkled her nose. "That’s your car?"
Max frowned. "Yeah. What’s wrong with it?"
"It just looks a little cheap Max."
"I’m a high school student. Of course it’s cheap," Max replied, slightly offended. The Chevelle had cost him over six months pay from the U.F.O Center, but he had paid for the whole thing himself and he was proud of it. His parents hadn’t been exactly primed to replace the Jeep, being as he had lent it to Tess and she had supposedly used it to blow town. He still grimaced remembering his father’s lecture about making sure to pick friends you could trust. The irony of the fact that his father was completely right - that he never should have trusted Tess - was not lost on him. He pushed the image of his dad’s disappointed face from his mind. Thinking about how much he hated the rift that was developping between he and his parents only upset him.
There was no choice. He had to find his son. He was trying to be responsible, ironically, despite what his mom and dad might think and he hoped that he would be able to fix things with them once he found the baby. If not, well…He was just going to have to accept that he might never have a relationship with the Evanses again. He hated the idea, but at least he wouldn’t be alone. At least he had Liz.
At the thought of his girlfriend, Max glanced at his watch, sighed when he realized that it was too late to call her. It had been a long day. He really wanted to hear her voice. The whole thing had been so weird, acting out scenes so similar to their lives, but not about them. It was sort of fun actually, but had gotten him no closer to his child and no closer to being able to go back to Roswell. Talking to Liz would bring him back to reality, would remind him why this was all so important.
"Well, you’ll be able to afford something better soon enough," Lily told him dismissively. Max blinked, realized that she was still talking about cars. She grinned again. "I know exactly how much you’re going to be making after all. Almost as much as me, which ain’t bad for a rookie."
Max stared at her. "Huh?"
"We’re both leads Max. If my contract didn’t say that I always get to make a hundred bucks more than everyone else on the show, we’d be making the same. And since I make 30,100, I’m guessing you make 30,000."
"A year?" For a moment Max wished that he could keep the part. Thirty thousand dollars a year? Some people his parents age didn’t even make that!
Lily looked at him strangely. "An episode Max."
"Thirty thousand dollars an episode," Lily repeated carefully, as though she might be wondering if he was a bit slow. She tilted her head. "You really are fresh off the boat, aren’t you?"
"Kind of," Max said, distracted, trying to grasp the concept of thirty thousand dollars an episode. He knew from a conversation he’d had with Mr. Frakes earlier that day that the shortened season they were shooting ran for thirteen shows. He felt slightly dizzy at the thought of what thirteen episodes at thirty thousand a pop meant. And shooting one episode only took around eight days. He was going to make thirty thousand dollars for just over a week’s work? It was ludicrous!
But, of course, he wouldn’t be making that money. Whoever replaced him as Matt Desmond would be earning it. He wouldn’t be playing Matt Desmond for very much longer. He frowned slightly, wished that he could have told Mr. Frakes so today. But Kal Langley had not come to the set again, much to Max’s disappointment and frustration. He was going to have to go back tomorrow. And, so, he had spent a full day filming various scenes for the pilot episode, working mostly with Lily, and feeling a bit bad that all of his stuff was going to have to be re-shot when they found a new person to play his character.
"Well, I’ll pick you up tomorrow," Lily continued. "It’s on my way anyway and we’re filming out of town. I get bored when I have to drive so far by myself."
"Okay," Max said. "Thanks." He opened the door, paused when he felt Lily’s hand on his arm. He turned back questioningly.
"It was really fun today Max. I like working with you."
"Thanks. I had fun too."
Lily smiled at him again. "This is going to be a hit. I can just feel it. You and me on the cover of Entertainment Weekly in no time!"
"Right." Max smiled weakly. Just the thought of it was enough to make his blood run cold. He couldn’t even imagine how Michael and Isabel would react were that to happen.
Moments later, he was watching Lily pull away. He rubbed the back of his neck wearily, sighed when he realized that he only had about five hours sleep before he had to be up again. He had had absolutely no idea how crazy the filming schedule of a T.V. show could be. In fact, he had never actually thought about it before. He didn’t watch much T.V. after all. His life was nuts enough. He had never felt the need to lose himself in some one else’s problems as well, which is what most television had always seemed to be about to him. Even sitcoms, which made light of them, didn’t really appeal to him.
He was still surprised by how much he had enjoyed himself today though. It was interesting to see how the world the producers of Destiny were visualizing was coming to life through Lily and Brad and some of the other actors. And he had been even more amazed when Mr. Frakes had shown him some footage of himself with Lily that had been shot that day. While intellectually he understood that Lily wasn’t really Beth, watching her on that small screen she had come to life as that other girl, the alien queen who was fighting to be with the love of her life. While Max was not so sure of his own performance - he could only see himself looking ridiculous in the same scenes where Lily shone - everyone else seemed pleased by his turn as Matt Desmond as well.
It was all just a little weird. But fun too. Which made him feel guilty of course. He wasn’t supposed to be having fun. He was here to get information to find his son and that was all. But it was fun and while he was forced to continue filming the show - until he met Kal Langley - he would allow himself to enjoy it, to soak it all in.
Preoccupied with his thoughts about the show, it wasn’t until he had fit the key into the lock of his motel room door that Max got the sense that he wasn’t alone. He frowned slightly, knew that he was not mistaken. There was someone in his room. He could feel them.
Cursing himself that he wasn’t being more careful - hadn’t he already received two threatening notes? - Max bit his lip, wondered what to do. But, a moment later, the decision about whether to confront the intruder or whether to get into his car and drive away to avoid what could potentially be a dangerous situation was taken out of his hands. The door was pulled open from the inside.
"Finally!" The next instant he was catching the small figure in his arms as she threw herself at him. The force of her enthusiasm sent them both flying backwards until Max managed to regain his balance, more slowly than might have otherwise been the case, because he was so shocked.
He felt his heart starting to pound more quickly as their lips met in a kiss so heated he felt it right to his toes.
Finally, Max forced himself to pull back. He stared down, still not quite believing his eyes. "Liz?"
She smiled up at him, her gaze slightly narrowed, looking entirely too sultry for Max’s peace of mind. "Hi."
"What are you doing here?" He shook his head in astonishment, could not stop himself from running his hands through her silky hair, which was tumbling over her shoulders, just to confirm to himself that she was real.
"Waiting for you of course," Liz replied, tracing a finger down his chest. He was wearing only a T-shirt, a nod to the weather in L.A., which had been sultry all day, and so, a shiver of desire ran through him, even at her light touch. But this was Liz. Of course it did.
"No, I mean, what are you doing in L.A?" He frowned slightly. "Did your parents let you come?" Immediately he knew that couldn’t be true though.
Liz’s gaze darkened as she took his hand and pulled him into the motel room after her. "Of course not. I didn’t tell them I was coming."
"Max!" She let go of him, turned around to face him. "I had no choice. I just had a bad feeling about all this…" She waved her hand in the air, but Max knew she didn’t mean the sleazy motel room, although it was pretty bad. "And I was right to come. You’ve gotten yourself into trouble just like I knew you would," she continued. "I talked to your agent…"
"Liz…" Max interrupted helplessly, Jeff Parker’s expression when he had threatened to send Liz away to boarding school flashing through his mind. But he couldn’t help the grin that was breaking across his face. He couldn’t believe it! She was actually here. He had not truly grasped how much he had missed her until she was standing right in front of him again. He had tried not to think about it actually. "This is such a bad idea, we are totally going to get busted for it, but I’m glad you’re here."
Her expression softened. "You are?"
"Of course I am." He lowered his voice, reached out a hand and pulled her towards him. "Do you have any idea how much I missed you?" He asked, lowering his head so that their lips were inches apart.
"Show me," Liz murmured, wrapping her arms around his neck.
Max complied, touching his mouth lightly to hers, the blood beginning to race through his veins. Her lips parted beneath his and he tilted his head, placed his hands on both sides of her face, deepening the kiss, willing her to know how important she was to him.
The kiss was sweet and loving at first, as he poured all of his feeling for her into it. It was the sort of kiss that used to bring on flashes almost immediately. He felt a pang of disappointment when that didn’t happen, but it soon disappeared as his body became more attuned to the fact that this was truly Liz, back where she belonged - in his arms - and took on a mind of its own.
Soon enough they had stumbled to the bed and tumbled down onto it in a tangle of arms and legs. Liz started to giggle, which broke the moment. Max was almost glad. He had been on the verge of completely losing control of himself and things might have gone too far. The fact that he and Liz were alone together, the fact that he was just so happy she had come to him, the fact that they had been dancing closer to the precipice every time they saw each other - the natural conclusion was that they would end up making love before they were ready, before things were completely healed between them. This fear lurked in the back of his mind, making him slightly relieved that the mood had been altered.
Max pulled back, trying to slow his heart-rate by taking a few deep breaths, and then grinned at her. "Well?"
"Okay, so you missed me."
He kissed her lightly on the forehead. She was lying beneath him, gazing up at him, her face flushed and her lips swollen from the fervor of their kisses. "Where have you been?" She asked. "I’ve been here for hours."
"We just wrapped filming an hour ago," Max replied, sitting up with his back against the head-board. Liz crawled up the bed after him and settled on her knees beside him. She picked up his hand and traced the veins on the back of it with her fingers, starting his heart thundering again. He swallowed and said, "It was a lot of work Liz." He couldn’t help the slight feeling of satisfaction that came over him as he thought about it though. He had been a quick-study, at least according to Lily and Mr. Reeves, the director. While he was pretty sure he wasn’t a great actor, the seemed to really like what he was doing. It had been nice to feel like he was doing something right for a change, even if everyone else seemed to think so and he didn’t.
Max realized that Liz was staring at him, a slight frown on her face. "Max, I talked to your agent earlier when I was looking for you."
"Oh yeah?" Max said. "He’s kind of weird." He paused, remembered what Merv had said the other day about wishing Max didn’t have a girlfriend. "He wasn’t rude to you, was he?"
Liz shook her head, "Not really. Max, he told me you signed a contract with the show."
"Yeah," Max admitted. " I had to make sure that I could go back today. It’s okay though. Mr. Frakes is really nice. I can get out of it once I meet Langley. And if not, it’s only for thirteen episodes. I’m sure it’s going to suck anyway." He rolled his eyes. "Michael is going to flip out, but I’ll deal with him."
"Max, this is pretty serious," Liz told him sternly. "That was a legal document and you just arbitrarily signed your name on it? Merv told me that if the show is a hit, you’re locked in for five years! You’re eighteen years old. You will be held accountable for it."
He blinked, surprised. "Five years?" He shook his head, feeling his heart start to pound a little unsteadily. "Frakes told me a season only ran for thirteen episodes," he said though, still sure that Liz was wrong.
"The network has picked it up for thirteen episodes," Liz told him. "That doesn’t mean they can’t option more. And if they do, you are contracted to act on it for five years!" Max could hear how upset Liz was beneath her attempt to keep her voice steady. "Didn’t you evenread it?"
He stared at her, the horror of what she was saying to him beginning to penetrate. "No," he grimaced, suddenly feeling like a complete fool.
Liz closed her eyes, sighed heavily. "Max…"
"Mr. Frakes is a nice guy," Max insisted. "I’m sure it’ll be fine. And if not, I can talk to my dad. There’s got to be a way out of it." But deep down, Max wondered what the hell he had done. What had he been thinking? How could he have signed that contract without reading it? Jonathan Frakes was nice, but he was also desperate to fill the role of Matt Desmond. He was a businessman. He might not let Max go. He seemed to really like him for some weird reason. Max frowned, for the first time wondering what that reason was. It certainly couldn’t be because of his acting skill!
"Max, what if all of this just turns out to be a coincidence?" Liz asked. "What if none of this means anything, you don’t find your son and you’re stuck here for five years? What about the fact that you’re going to be airing on national television? What happened to hiding behind the tree? This is possibly the craziest thing you’ve ever done." Her voice was beginning to rise, as she listed all the things she had obviously been worrying about since she had spoken to Merv.
"I’m sure there is a connection Liz." Max wondered why he was addressing the most inane of all of her concerns. It was the only one he even remotely had an answer for though. "You read the script, didn’t you?" When she nodded, he continued, guilt making his heart heavy. He had screwed up again - big time. "Okay then, let’s try not to worry about the show until we find out for sure that I’m stuck," he finished lamely.
He rubbed a hand across his face. "I am so sorry about this. All I know is that I don’t want to lose you. I know how hard all of this is for you, but I just have to do anything I can to find my son. And it was the only clue I had!" He leaned forward, took her hands in his. "I am a complete idiot. I know it. But if I have to stay on the stupid show, we’ll work something out. It’ll be okay."
"How can it possibly work out?" Liz demanded. "I’ll be in Roswell and you’ll be here."
"Not for long," Max reminded her. "They can’t hold me to a contract if I’m on another planet."
There was a long silence as Liz took this in. "No," she finally agreed, sounding a bit strange.
Max frowned at the expression that crossed her face. "Liz? What’s wrong?"
"Nothing," she replied, shaking her head firmly. "Nothing’s wrong."
Max was not convinced, but he let it go. "I’m really glad you’re here," he told her, reaching out and tracing his fingers over her delicate jaw. He felt her shiver, narrowed his gaze and smiled slightly.
"Max, you can’t just distract me you know," she told him. "We still have to figure out what we’re going to do about that contract."
"We can’t really do anything about it until I meet Langley," Max reminded her. "I signed it. I was a fool, but I did it." He kissed her lightly on the lips. "You can come with me tomorrow when I finally talk to him and we’ll deal with everything else after." He paused when she didn’t seem convinced. "I’ll call my dad too," he finally suggested, feeling a slight tightening in his stomach at the thought of how he would have to admit to his father that he had screwed up again. "To find out what my options are."
She sighed slightly. "Okay." Max felt his heart start to beat more quickly as she trailed her hands up his arms and onto his shoulders. "Tomorrow though." She leaned forward and kissed him teasingly.
Max grinned at her before falling back against the pillows, bringing her down with him. "Tomorrow," he agreed. "We have much better things to do right now."
"Much better," Liz agreed, her hair falling around his face. He reached up, pushed it back behind her shoulders and his lips found hers again.
To be continued…
|posted on 19-Oct-2002 11:37:54 AM by Kath7|
|I'm here! LOL Just working on some other stuff. I actually have part of Part 5 written. It's just a matter of sitting down and banging out the rest of it. Looking at the last time I updated this though is making me feel guilty! I'll try and have it done for the end of the weekend. Thanks for the support.|
|posted on 29-Oct-2002 7:50:36 PM by Kath7|
|Author's Note: Hey guys! Sorry for the lengthy hiatus on this one. It wasn't writer's block exactly. More the fact that I am presently working on six stories (and, yes, I know I'm insane. I am seeking help!) Anyhoo, hope to update this more regularily from now on. And whoever told me that any post-Tess story had to be angsty was right. I swear we'll get through this stuff quickly though and then we'll be back to Hollywood hijinks. I hope everyone can just enjoy this story for the farce it is and ignore the inherent problems any post-tex story contains. Thanks!|
Liz woke up to the ringing of a cell phone. She could hear the steady beat of Max’s heart under her other ear, could feel the slow rise and fall of his chest as he took each breath, still sound asleep. She willed herself to ignore the phone, to concentrate on the magic of this moment. It wasn’t very often that she had the pleasure of waking up in her boyfriend’s arms. She had practically run away from home to make it happen. She wasn’t ready to move yet, for any reason.
It was in the quiet moments like this that she allowed herself to remember how close she had come to losing him forever - that one more minute and he would have blasted away in the granolith to his death. It was that truth that had allowed her to accept that he had made mistakes and that if she wanted to be with him, she was going to have to deal with them. Because, at the very least, in the end, he was alive, and that had to be enough.
She couldn’t let herself think of the fact that he would leave someday, that he would have to go after his son eventually. It was something she tried to forget about, but last night had brought it all crashing back. Max didn’t even bother trying to avoid talking about it anymore. She had done such a good job of convincing him that she supported him in this quest, he didn’t even know he had to, that every word about going to Antar was like a knife stabbing into her heart. He couldn’t be blamed for that. She was the one who had told him that she would do anything to be with him.
It just sucked that doing anything really, really hurt sometimes.
But, it was in the quiet moments, when she lay wrapped in his arms, when their hearts beat in unison, that she knew it was worth it. Her heart would not even be beating at this moment if it wasn’t for him. He had saved her life and he had shown her his soul and now he needed her to help him save it. Because, if he didn’t get his son back, if he let him be raised by Tess, that murderous bitch, it would be the same as allowing him to give up the very essence of who he was.
And, when she lay in his arms, when she felt this complete, she remembered why it was worth it. She wasn’t going to let a ringing cell phone interrupt one of the moments that made all the pain and sacrifice worthwhile.
Besides, it wasn’t like she didn’t know who it was. Her parents had already called her phone twice. She knew that they must be frantic by now, knew that she was potentially the worst daughter in the world by not at least telling them where she was, but she couldn’t let them come after her. She wasn’t leaving Max. Not until they got him out of this contract and he could come home with her.
The ringing stopped and Liz sighed, satisfied, only to slit open an eye in annoyance when it started to ring again immediately.
“Apparently ignoring it isn’t working.”
Liz moved her head so that she was looking up at Max, whose eyes were now open. He still looked sleepy, but he grinned down at her, making her heart flip-flop in her chest. “Hi.”
“Hi,” Liz whispered, turning her face and pressing a light kiss to his neck. “Did you sleep well?”
“Once I got past the fact that we were actually sleeping in the same bed, I slept like a log,” Max replied, kissing her lightly on the top of her head. “It wasn’t exactly conducive to peace at first.”
“I know what you mean,” Liz replied, blushing slightly. And she did. She had been tempted to allow things to progress to where they both wanted them the night before. She had even known in her heart that by coming to L.A. she was maybe taking that final step in committing to their relationship that would finally make the moment right to make love.
And, yet, it hadn’t happened. Liz wasn’t quite sure why, but things had never really moved past some pretty heavy making-out. It wasn’t like anything had interrupted them either. For some strange reason, they had just stopped. Thinking about it now, Liz frowned slightly, turning her face away from Max and resting her cheek against his chest again. She felt his hand sliding gently up and down the small of her back. He was completely unaware that anything was wrong.
It was then that it suddenly dawned on her that it hadn’t been she who had stopped things. It had been Max. For some reason, after a very long and healthy make-out session, he had kissed her abruptly on the forehead and they had both just gone to sleep. She had been exhausted so it hadn’t seemed that strange to Liz at the time, but thinking about it now, it seemed peculiar in the extreme.
She had been ready to make that final committment to him and he had stopped it. She frowned again, wondered if she had somehow given him a signal that she wasn’t ready, even though she had meant to do the opposite. But, he had to have known, didn’t he? It wasn’t like he was the innocent one in this relationship - not any longer. As much as she hated to think about it, Max was the one with more experience in these matters now.
She knew she shouldn’t be hurt. He was taking things slowly for her. She knew that. And, yet, did she really? She couldn’t read him anymore - not like how she used to. Since the flashes had stopped, sometimes she wondered if she even knew him at all anymore.
“I think that’s mine this time,” Max murmured into her hair. “I should probably get it. Lily’s going to be here to pick me up soon.”
“Lily?” Liz asked, distracted, still slightly bemused by the direction of her thoughts. Max gently disentangled himself from her embrace and reached for his cell phone, which was sitting on the bedside table.
“The girl playing Beth,” Max explained as he hit the talk button. “Hello?”
Liz stared at the back of his head as he talked into his phone. “Hi!” There was a pause and then Liz could hear the smile in Max’s voice as he said, “I’m not surprised. I was exhausted too.” Another pause. “Yup, I’ll be ready. Oh, by the way, I’m bringing someone with me this morning.” He turned his head, grinned at Liz. “Yeah. My girlfriend.” Max listened again, then frowned slightly. “No, it will be fine. Liz understands.”
A flash of bitterness ran through Liz in spite of herself. That was her. Good, old, understanding Liz. She turned her face abruptly, hoped Max hadn’t seen her feelings cross her face. She could tell just from the way the conversation was going between her boyfriend and his costar that she wasn’t going to like this Lily. Not at all.
They had to find a way to get Max out of this contract. They just had to. Because as Liz found herself staring down at her hands, which were now clenched in her lap, she was beginning to realize that things were not fine between she and Max. They could continue pretending as much as they wanted, but they just weren’t. And the fact of the matter was, they were never going to be able to fix things if he was stuck in Los Angeles.
“She’s picking us up in a half an hour.”
Liz blinked, realized that Max was talking to her again. She looked at him, grimaced when she saw the questioning look in his eyes. There might not be flashes between them anymore, but Max could still read her face it seemed. But, then, she had never been very good at hiding her feelings. “Liz, are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she said, forcing a cheerful note into her voice. “I guess I’m still tired. Can I take the first shower?”
“Of course,” Max replied, rubbing a hand across the back of his neck and still staring at her. She refused to meet his eyes as she climbed off the bed and practically sprinted into the bathroom, firmly shutting the door behind her.
Liz hurriedly undressed, turned on the shower and climbed in, sighing as the hot water pounded down upon her. She swallowed, tried to force the lump out of her throat. But, now that she was completely alone, now that she no longer had to maintain the facade that everything was okay, she could feel tears leaking out of the corner of her eyes.
She was trying so hard not to face it, but, for some strange reason, the fact that Max hadn’t wanted to make love to her the night before was bringing it all crashing down upon her. As hard as they were trying, their relationship was not working. Things were not the same and, for the life of her, Liz could not figure out why not. She knew Max loved her, knew she loved him, and, yet, it just wasn’t enough anymore. It had taken her giving up everything for him for her to realize it, but there was no fight left in her.
They can’t hold me to a contract if I’m on another planet.
Max’s off-hand comment from the night before ran through her mind so abruptly, she opened her eyes and stared unseeingly at the tiled wall in front of her. Was that the reason that she suddenly felt like this was all useless? Had she finally realized that no matter what she did to hold onto Max, she was going to lose him in the end anyway?
Was that why he wouldn’t make love to her? Did he think that if they went that far, he wouldn’t be able to go? Or did he just not care?
Liz pressed her lips together, wiped her hands across her face fiercely. There was no time for tears. It was time to find out once and for all exactly what Max wanted out of this relationship, what he expected of her. Because if he kept doing ludicrous things like signing five-year contracts without even reading them, the impending trip to Antar was the least of their worries.
She stepped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around her body and grimaced, realizing that all her clean clothes were still in the room. She had been in such a rush to get away from Max before she burst into tears, she hadn’t exactly thought ahead. Great. The last thing she needed to do was parade around in front of him half-naked when she was feeling so decidedly unsexy.
Well, he was just going to have to bring her her bag. There was no way around it. Liz cracked open the door, called out, “Max?”
“Can you bring me my bag please?”
There was a pause. “Can’t you just come and get it?” He sounded vaguely confrontational, as though he had been stewing over her abrupt change in mood prior to her rush into the bathroom.
“Yes,” Liz replied, gritting her teeth, “But I asked you to bring it here. Can you please do it?”
His body blocked the crack a moment later. “Are you going to open the door?”
“Of course.” Liz pulled it open, grabbed her bag out of his outstretched hand and then slammed the door shut again.
“Everything’s fine Max. Just let me get dressed.” She realized that she was behaving like a maniac and that there was absolutely no way that he was not going to demand to know what was wrong with her now, but she was not going to stand around talking to him wearing nothing but a towel. Not when she was feeling so unsettled and unsure.
How could things have gotten so bad so quickly? How did she go from waking up in his arms, completely content, to this? As Liz pulled a clean t-shirt over her head, she found herself staring into her own eyes in the mirror.
They widened and she moved closer, staring more intently, searching for…For what exactly, she couldn’t say.
And, then, suddenly, she knew. She did not feel any sort of connection with the face in that mirror. She had absolutely no idea who she was anymore.
Liz tilted her head, stared even harder. And it was then that it happened. The mirror rippled in front of her eyes and where her face had been, suddenly, all she saw was a blank space.
Max stared at the closed bathroom door for a long moment, unsure if he was imagining things, but almost positive that he wasn’t.
There was something wrong with Liz. The warm feeling of closeness that had existed between them when they had awoken was gone, almost as if it had never existed. She was mad at him about something and he had absolutely no idea what he had done. It couldn’t have just been the phone call from Lily, although that seemed to have been what had prompted Liz’s icy transformation.
He sat down on the end of the bed, rubbed his eyes wearily. It wasn’t supposed to be this hard to be in love. He just knew it wasn’t. And, once, for them, it hadn’t been. Even when the worst things possible had happened to them - Pierce, the FBI, the Kyle thing, the potential end of the world because of the gandarium crystals - the connection between them had always burned brightly, even when they weren’t together. It had always been easy to bring it back to just the two of them, to a shared moment, a knowing glance.
Max knew that it was all his fault. What had happened with Tess…As much as they tried to ignore it, it was not going away. He didn’t know how it had come back to that again, but somehow he just knew that it was what was upsetting Liz. He could not connect with her any longer and, yet, he knew. And he just kept making things worse. First by getting them in trouble in Utah and now by signing the stupid contract with Mr. Frakes. How much more could he really expect Liz to take?
He knew now that there was only one thing to do. They had to bring this all out into the open. They hadn’t discussed Tess or anything that had happened between she and Max for months. He hadn’t known what to say to Liz to even explain it. He still didn’t understand what had happened there himself and, so, he had brushed the whole thing off, had tried to pretend it had never happened.
And, yet, his whole life still revolved around the fact that it had. The search for his son, which involved screw-up after screw-up, was a direct result of the biggest mistake of his life. It was never going to end. Even after he found his child, it would always exist because the baby was a living embodiment of the fact that he had broken one night and had betrayed everything he had ever tried to be.
He was never going to be able to move beyond it. As long as she stayed connected to him, neither could Liz. He knew what he should do. He knew that letting her go would be the best thing for her in the long run.
He was such a coward. He couldn’t do it. He just knew he couldn’t. And, because of it, he was slowly killing her.
Max started when a knock came on the outside door. He glanced at his watch, wondered why Lily was so early. He sighed, stood up and went to let her in. At least he could do one thing right today. He would get out of this contract if it was the last thing he ever did.
“Morning gorgeous.” Max frowned as Lily thrust a cup of steaming coffee into his hand and breezed into the room. She looked rested and refreshed, her shiny dark hair pulled into a pony-tail high on her head, her small body sporty in sweats and sneakers. She turned to stare at him, her nose wrinkled. “Whoa. This place really is a dump. I hope you’re planning to find something better ASAP.”
“Well…” Max trailed off as he heard the bathroom door open behind him. He turned his head, watched in concern as Liz emerged. She was showered and changed and, yet, she looked worse than when she had woken up. If he had had any doubt at all that she was upset about something, it was now completely dispelled. And there was now no time to talk to her before they were going to have to go. Could this suck anymore? How could this possibly be the same hour in which he had awoken to Liz’s smiling face?
“Hi, you must be Lily,” Liz said quietly. “I’m Liz.”
“Hi Liz!” Lily replied, her voice slightly high-pitched. Max looked at her sharply, not liking her tone. She sounded entirely confrontational. “Well, aren’t you just the prettiest thing? I can see why Max didn’t want to leave you behind in Roswell.”
Max watched Liz’s face narrow slightly, as though she was pained. “Thanks. But I’m certainly nowhere near as pretty as you are. I can see why you’re going to be on T.V.”
Lily smiled, as though in acknowledgement, but did not reply. “Speaking of that, we’d better get a move on. We need to get to the set before seven or Jonathan will have our heads.” She moved forward, linked arms with Liz. “We’re going to have so much fun today Liz. I think you’re going to be absolutely amazed by your boyfriend. He’s a natural.”
Liz glanced over her shoulder at Max, who shrugged helplessly. “I can’t wait,” she said wryly, her face softening. Max felt his heart lift slightly. She seemed to be trying to will herself into a better frame of mind. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Yet, deep down Max knew that it was just a reprieve. They weren’t going to be able to keep acting like everything was okay for much longer. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he knew that as hard as Liz was trying to hide it, their relationship had shifted significantly. And not in a good way. As Max shut the door and trailed after Liz and Lily, he felt like a man marching to his doom.
To be continued…
|posted on 27-Dec-2002 12:38:29 AM by Kath7|
|Author's Note: Well, I hope someone still remembers this. It's getting much more angsty than I bargained for when I started it, but things should be looking up soon. I hope. LOL|
"So Liz, tell me about yourself."
Liz narrowed her eyes, turned her head to regard Lily. Max had insisted that she sit in the front seat so she had a perfectly adequate view of the other girl’s face. Liz had not mistaken the other brunette’s tone. She was indeed patronizing Liz.
"There’s not much to tell," Liz replied quietly. "I’m just a small-town girl from Roswell, New Mexico."
Lily laughed. "You sound like Max. So secretive." She turned her head to look at Liz’s boyfriend, who was in the back-seat. "You’re not going to do very well with the interviews if you don’t open up a bit you know. It’s all about the sound-bite."
"We’re not secretive," Liz said, knowing she sounded defensive. "Just boring."
"Not boring," Max corrected. "Just normal. Which is a good thing."
There was a long pause. Liz turned and met her boyfriend’s gaze. He was staring at her meaningfully. It was almost as if he had been reading her mind. That maybe she was beginning to wonder if things were not right between them because she was too boring.
Because she knew she was. Maybe that was another reason she couldn’t get past the Tess thing. While Tess had been a bitch supreme, she had certainly been anything but boring. Tess Harding had known exactly what she wanted and she had not stopped at murder in order to get it. And Max had been attracted to her, in spite of everything - in spite of the fact that he had once told her that there would never be anyone else for him but her, Liz.
Was it any wonder that she didn’t know who she was anymore?
Liz Parker used to know what she wanted. Harvard, a close family, someone who loved her so much it made her burn for him.
She used to have all those things. Now, somehow, she had lost them along the way. She was beginning to realize that she had absolutely no idea how to get them back either. Because being back together with Max was not getting her any closer.
Instead she was presently driving through the desert, sitting beside an actress who could be her twin, wondering if there really was a connection between the T.V. show her boyfriend had signed onto for five years and the love child he had sent off somewhere into the cosmos.
Okay, so maybe her life wasn’t boring, but it certainly wasn’t her life anymore either. Or, at least, that’s what it felt like.
"What about you?" Liz asked, shaking her head and deciding that now was not a good time to try and figure out what exactly she intended to do about her screwed up existence. Right now she needed to focus on the problem at hand, which was extricating Max from the mess into which he had managed to get himself entangled. Everything else could be dealt with after. "How long have you been in L.A.?"
"A couple years," Lily answered, waving her hand in the air dismissively. "I’ve done bit parts here and there, had a major guest-starring role on one of those WB teen shows last year. It’s where Langley saw me. He cast me right away. After two years of drudgery, it’s really a dream come true."
"That’s nice," Liz said, realizing that she didn’t really care. Lily didn’t sound like she cared much either, which seemed a little strange for someone who had obviously worked hard to get where she was.
"What about Langley?" Max inquired, leaning forward between the seats. "What’s he like?"
"Weird," Lily answered shortly. Liz glanced at her sharply. She was scowling slightly, but when she became aware of Liz’s attention, the creases on her face softened immediately.
Liz frowned, could hear Max sigh in frustration that the actress wasn’t willing to provide more information on the man who had written the Destiny script, but she turned her head to stare out the window at the passing scrub-brush. It wasn’t like they could pump Lily for information. That would be really suspicious.
Liz wasn’t sure why she got the feeling that Lily was beginning to get a little wary of them, but it was there.
Something was not quite right with the other girl.
"Where are we going anyway?" Liz asked after the silence had stretched out uncomfortably. She wondered if Max and Lily had found it this difficult to maintain a conversation the day before.
"We’re filming at some rocks out in the desert today," Lily explained, sounding impatient. "Didn’t Max tell you?"
Liz glanced back at Max again, who looked slightly taken aback at Lily’s behavior. He shrugged in Liz’s direction.
"No," Liz snapped, unable to stop herself. "We were otherwise occupied last night. We haven’t seen each other in a couple of days." Now where had that come from?
Liz blinked when what appeared to be a snarl crossed Lily’s pretty face. You think you’re so smart, don’t you?
"Pardon me?" Liz asked, really confused now.
Lily turned her head from the road, gave Liz a concerned look. "Liz, are you okay?"
"What did you just say to me?" Liz demanded.
"I didn’t say anything," Lily replied, truly seeming unsure what Liz was talking about. Whatever Liz had seen on her face moments before was completely gone. Liz narrowed her eyes and stared at her. "Max, did you hear me say anything?"
"No," Max admitted, laying his hand on Liz’s shoulder. "Liz, what’s wrong?"
Liz turned and looked at him, horror beginning to run through her. What was wrong with her? This was the second time since she had woken up that morning that something strange and unnatural had happened. First she had seen her blank face in the mirror and now she was hearing Lily threaten her like something out of The Exorcist, when clearly she hadn’t.
"Nothing," Liz replied weakly. "Nothing’s wrong. I think I need some air. I’m getting car-sick. Are we almost there?"
"Just another mile or so," Lily told her, reaching out and patting Liz on the knee. Before she could stop herself, Liz flinched away from her. She could feel Lily looking at her strangely, but she could not meet her eyes again.
She had not imagined that. She was absolutely sure she hadn’t. But then why hadn’t Max heard her too?
Liz was still trying to figure out what had happened when the car finally pulled to a stop. She looked up and blinked, astounded at the amount of activity they had just stumbled upon in the middle of nowhere.
There were people milling everywhere. Some where carrying electrical equipment, some had clothes draped over their arms and others seemed to just be running around like chickens with their heads cut off. As Liz stepped out of the car, she saw a balding man emerge from the crowd, a frantic expression on his face.
"There you are! Finally! Everyone’s waiting for you! Brad isn’t going to come out of his trailer for make-up until everyone is ready and we’re already falling behind schedule."
"My fault," Lily replied breezily, waving her hand in the air again, in what Liz was beginning to realize was a characteristic action. "I was driving." She moved around the car, came and linked arms with Liz. "This is Max’s girlfriend, Liz," Lily told the man. "Isn’t she sweet?" Liz barely refrained from rolling her eyes. She might have imagined that weird moment in the car, but there was no question that Lily had little use for her. She was being too nice.
The man stared at Liz for a split second, shook his head and roared, "I don’t care if she’s the Queen of England. I want you two in make-up now!" He turned on his heel and went stomping off in the opposite direction, yelling at a couple more people as he went.
"Who was that?" Liz asked Max quietly when Lily dropped her arm, moving off towards one of the costume people who was beckoning her.
"One of the producers," Max told her. "He’s a little tense sometimes."
"Should I be here? I feel like I’m intruding."
"Of course you’re not," Max said firmly, kissing her lightly on the forehead. "If you’re not welcome than I’m not staying."
"Well, that would be one way to breach your contract," Liz said, deciding it was time to lighten up. They were stuck on the set for the day, or at least until Max had a chance to talk to Mr. Frakes. She might as well try and enjoy herself. "Instead of getting out of it, you could just walk off the set in a huff, they’d sue you and we’d all go home happy." She giggled in spite of herself at the picture of Max making a scene. The last thing he would ever do was make a scene.
He grinned at her. "Want to come see my trailer?"
"You have a trailer?" Liz demanded, incredulous. "Really?"
"Yup. Weird huh?"
"Okay then Mr. T.V. star. Let’s go see your trailer."
About an hour later Liz was seated in a director’s style chair beside Jonathan Frakes, who had taken her under his wing as soon as Max had introduced her to him. Liz was taken aback by how solicitous the famous actor and producer was to her boyfriend. He was clearly extremely pleased that Max had accepted the role and obviously wanted to keep him happy. It made Liz even more nervous about trying to get Max out of his contract. Mr. Frakes was not going to give up his ‘discovery’ easily. Every second word out of his mouth was about how famous Max was going to be.
It was probably amongst the most surreal experiences of her life and, since falling into the alien abyss, that was saying a lot.
"We’re filming the scene where Matt - that’s Max - comes to stop Beth from leaving the planet with Tom," Mr. Frakes was explaining. Liz nodded, interested in spite of herself. "We’ll film all the exteriors out here and then go back to the studio to film the interiors on the spaceship."
"It sounds like Mr. Langley has quite the imagination," Liz said quietly. "Where did he even come up with this idea?" She might as well spend her time on the set effectively. Mr. Frakes seemed much more amenable to answering questions than Lily had - and Mr. Frakes was likely to have more answers than the annoying actress anyway.
"He told me that he’s been working on it since he was a kid," Mr. Frakes replied. "He has a whole mythology worked out, including all the details about what really happened on the Beth character’s home planet. The intricacy of it will last us for years. We just need to hook the audience on the journey with this first episode. That’s why it’s so important."
Liz watched as Max appeared in her line of vision. He had been standing in the middle of a group of people for several minutes, being dabbed with a giant powder-puff by one of the make-up people while someone else had been running his lines with him. She felt her heart skip a beat at the intense expression on his face. She recognized that look. She had only ever seen it once before in fact.
He had been wearing that exact same expression when he had first tried to connect with her, the day after he had healed her. His concentration had been complete then too, as he attempted to do something he didn’t even know was possible. It had been something that mattered to him though, so he had thrown his entire focus into it and it had worked. She had seen him like he wanted her to see him.
It was exactly what he was doing right now, Liz realized.
For the first time, it dawned on Liz how hard Max was working on this show. He fully intended to give it up in the end, but he was giving it his all until then. She frowned slightly, found she couldn’t take her eyes off of him. Because she could see something else in her boyfriend as he stood patiently on the set in front of her, waiting for Lily and Brad Hart to join him.
He looked excited. In fact, he looked happy.
For the first time in so long, she couldn’t even remember when last she had seen it, Max actually looked content.
Max was joined by a tall blonde actress. She was obviously teasing him about something because he was shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot. As Liz watched, his gaze drifted in her direction and he smiled slightly at her. The other actress looked towards her too and then tossed her head, obviously annoyed. Liz realized they had been talking about her and felt a blush beginning to creep up her neck.
"That’s Rainy Adore," Mr. Frakes told Liz. "She plays Beth’s sister Bella."
Liz turned her head and looked at him incredulously. "That’s really her name?" She asked before she could stop herself. She could feel her cheeks flaming as Mr. Frakes grinned at her.
"Unfortunately, yes." His eyes were sparkling. "But she is a good actress. I think she was thinking of headlines when she changed her name. Blue Skies are in Rainy’s Future and all that nonsense."
Liz just shook her head. "What’s her real name?"
"Plain old Jamie Allen."
Liz looked at Max again, couldn’t help but wonder what on Earth Max found to talk about to these people. They were so different from him, it was crazy. He might be an alien king, but the sheer irony was, that in spite of it all, he was amongst the most common-sensical people she knew.
Or least he had been. Until this whole debacle with Tess and his son had started. Max had not been Max since Alex had died in fact. As she continued to follow him with her eyes, she wondered if it was another reason why she felt so lost. Because Max had lost himself too and he didn’t seem to be on any sort of path towards finding himself again.
When she had gotten back together with him, she had been sure that they would find themselves together. Because they always had before. Instead, they seemed to be drifting aimlessly, pulling each other down. It was so beyond what they had once been to each other, it brought tears to her eyes.
"Are you all right Liz?" Mr. Frakes asked, sounding concerned. She realized that she had started sniffing to control herself and that she was sitting tensely, her hands clenched in her lap.
"I’m just so happy for Max," Liz replied in a stilted voice. It was so far from the real truth, she felt her throat start to close up around the lie.
"He’s found his calling I think," Mr. Frakes said, sounding like he understood. "Watch."
Liz did watch and, as she did so, her boyfriend brought the character of Matt Desmond to life right in front of her, reciting lines that sounded strangely like her own words to him when she had stopped him from taking off with Tess in the granolith only a few months ago.
It did not take her long to come to a horrible conclusion.
Max getting cast was not a fluke. He was good. In fact, he was very good. Liz felt her eyes widening in surprise and, to her shame, dismay as she turned her head and beheld the same scene on the monitor to her left.
She knew intellectually that this was Max, but she found herself believing that he wasn’t - that he was another boy, one named Matt Desmond, who was actually human and, in many ways, was actually her.
He was bringing the character to life. Max had indeed found his calling, something that should not have been so shocking to her. Because, after all, hadn’t he acted his entire life? He had pretended to be human and he had become so good at it, he had managed to continue the farce that everything was normal between them.
The reality of the situation was that they did not belong together. Not anymore. Because her calling was still waiting for her out there somewhere.
For the longest time, she had truly believed that he was her calling, that loving him was to be the foundation of her life. In another lifetime it had been. But she had changed that when Future Max had asked her to, and now she had to accept the consequences. She could no longer deny it to herself.
The romance of Max Evans and Liz Parker was not destined to have a happy ending.