posted on 8-Sep-2002 3:40:54 PM by ecclesiastes
Title: The Art of Being Elizabeth
Author: ecclesiastes
Category: M/L AU
Summary: No aliens. Max is a normal, popular high school student. He gets decent grades, he has good friends, he goes to parties. He meets Liz and is instantly intrigued...you'll see why. I think. Maybe.
Disclaimer: I own absolutely...nothing.


A/N: By the way, in case you don't notice, the titles of my chapters will always be a quote that appears somewhere in the chapter. Probably stating the obvious, but...*happy* And the story starts off kinda slow, but stick with it, it gets better...I hope. *tongue*


PART ONE: "I'm afraid that my brother has deep psychological problems."


"Heh...what do we have here?"

Kyle Valenti walked towards the kid sprawled on the ground, who looked up at him with wide eyes.

"Listen, man..." the kid stammered. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean anything by it, I swear."

It was what Kyle loved to hear. The admission of guilt and the fear and the apology all rolled into one. He bent down and picked the kid up by the collar of his shirt.

"You think it's that easy? You gotta watch what you're saying, man. Next time I catch you, you'll be talking outta your neck."

That seemed to be a sufficient threat. The kid gulped, his eyes widened even more. Kyle let go of the collar. He smiled suddenly.

"Tell you what. You can make it up to me."

"H-how?"

"I got something in mind."

***

"So. Party tomorrow?"

Max glanced over at Kyle. "Thought the 'rents said that you couldn't have one."

"Never said it was at my house."

Kyle smirked and crossed his arms.

"Gotta place?"

Michael was interested. Ever since the old soap factory had been razed, there hadn't been a whole lot of places to go partying. Unless it was at someone's house, and parents in Roswell tended to be uptight about the whole thing. Most likely, they all just had some gigantic collective stick up their asses. But that was just Michael's opinion.

"It's on the Street," Kyle said, wiggling his eyebrows.

The Street. Otherwise known as "Dumpsville." Right in the heart of Blue Creek, a town just outside of Roswell and home to junkies, whores, gangsters, and their ilk. Max wasn't stupid. He knew why Kyle had chosen the Street as the venue for his latest party. There would be less chance of police interference in that area. Pretty much zero chance, actually.

But Max was still wary. His sister Isabel and her friends Maria and Tess always went to the parties, too, and he wasn't sure if he wanted them in such a rough neighborhood. He supposed he could always hogtie them down so they couldn't go...

"That the only place you could get?" he asked.

"It's a good place. You see some of the chicks around the area?"

Kyle had, to put it succinctly, become very well acquainted with these aforementioned "chicks." Or so he said.

Michael was less concerned about safety issues. "How'd you get it?"

Kyle shrugged.

"Threw my weight around...convinced Josh to help out..."

Michael cracked up. "Josh? The skinny kid who does your science homework?"

"Yeah. The bastard was mouthing off. So I figured I ought to up the price a little bit. Dude cried like a baby. What a pissant."

Kyle's voice dripped with teenage scorn.

"People like Josh, they're all alike. Think they're so high and mighty."

Max barely avoided rolling his eyes. He almost said to Kyle that if there were ever an instance of the pot calling the kettle black, this was it. But he decided against it. He didn't think Kyle would understand the phrase anyway.

The bell rang, signaling the end of lunch. Max looked down at his lunch tray. He had barely eaten anything. Cafeteria food tended to have that effect.

"So. Party. Yes? No?"

Max shrugged in response to Kyle's question.

"Lemme think about it."

***

"Thursday afternoon in a library, Iz. Not exactly the way I like to spend my time after school."

"Too bad. I got to do research for my paper and it wouldn't hurt you to read something other than the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue model profiles for a change."

Max groaned.

"Do I have to?"

Isabel narrowed her eyes. She pointed one perfectly manicured finger at her brother.

"Shut up and behave. As soon as we go in, you be good. No, you be better than good."

Max knew better than to tussle with his twin. Anyway, he thought hopefully as they walked inside, maybe it wouldn't be all bad. He distinctly remembered this place having a video collection and...eureka! Max's eyes lit up as he spied the shelves full of VHS cassettes. He had been right. Damn, he was good.

Then again...Max glanced at the titles. Reading Rainbow. Sesame Street. Barney.

What the heck? Hadn't these people ever heard of Terminator 2?

***

Two minutes later, Max was thoroughly bored. Isabel had disappeared, looking for information on Jane Austen. And the only videos that this library offered appeared to be the educational junk he had stopped watching when he was eight. Barney appealed to him about as much as a wet gym sock. In other words, not very much.

Wasn't it illegal for a library to actively participate in promoting boredom? Okay, so it probably wasn't a law but it ought to be.

"If I ever go into politics, that'll be the first measure I'll push."

Max spied something at the far end of the room. Elevators.

Max had always loved elevators and all the pranks that came along with them--like the tried and true classic of pressing every single button on the panel before getting out so the next person on would have a devil of a time reaching his or her floor. Of course, this library only had three floors, so...

But elevators were still cool. Max stepped into one and pressed the button for the third floor. Mezzanine level.

***

"Excuse me, but is that book good?"

The girl looked at Max warily. She held a copy of Lord of the Flies in one hand.

"It's okay, I guess."

"D'you recommend it?"

Truth was, Max actually didn't give a shit about the book. It appeared on most high school required reading lists and Max hated those books on principle. So his question was just a way of making conversation. He had noticed the girl since she had first appeared, browsing through the bookracks. She was short, with long brown hair and, he saw now, large brown eyes. Quite pretty. More than quite pretty. He felt kind of rotten for following her for the last hour, and could only hope that she hadn't noticed.

The girl was speaking. "...dunno. I'm only on the second chapter."

"Are you reading it for school?"

A beat. "No."

"For fun?" Max knew he sounded incredulous, but that was okay, because he was.

"In a way, yes."

"What's your name?"

The girl hesitated again.

"Elizabeth. Liz."

Max smiled. "Just Liz?"

"For now."

"You from around here?" Max couldn't remember seeing her around West Roswell before, so she had to be new, because Max prided himself on keeping tabs on all the hot girls in the area. And Liz definitely qualified.

Liz scrunched up her nose. "Not really."

"So then where are you from?"

Liz's cheeks grew pink.

"Um...around."

"Around?"

"Just...around."

Max changed the subject. "That's a nice jacket."

"Oh. Thanks." Liz looked down at the blue jacket she had on. It looked like it was made of wool, and there were small clouds all over it. She smiled. "It's one of a kind. My grandmother made it for me."

At that point, Isabel decided to make her presence known as she walked up to them, lugging at least ten books in her arms.

"Max, my dear darling brother. It appears that you've been keeping yourself occupied. I hope you haven't been bothering the poor girl. She must be completely freaked out by now after hearing about some of your...abnormalities."

Max looked at her warily, unsure of where Isabel was going with this but not liking the general direction.

Isabel paused. "Oh," she said, "unless you've been less than honest. You know that's always been a problem with you. All the same, I think it's best to set the record straight, don't you? Anyway, having a chronic bed-wetting problem is nothing to be ashamed about. They have help for things like that these days. And don't forget, Maxie, but your appointment with the psychologist is at six o'clock this evening. He thinks he can finally cure your kleptomaniac tendencies."

Max gaped at her.

One corner of Liz's mouth tucked up. She looked like she was struggling not to laugh.

"Well," Isabel said breezily, "I guess we'd better go. Max gets awfully cranky if he doesn't watch Sailor Moon on television, and the show starts in ten minutes."

She leaned in close to Liz, making her next sentence an exaggerated whisper.

"He has this weird thing for anime."

Liz glanced at Max, smiling slightly.

"What about following people? Specifically girls?"

Shit.

Max knew that Isabel was surprised at Liz's remark, but she took the bait.

"Well, yes...we're trying to work that out as well. I'm afraid that my brother has deep psychological problems."

Liz grinned and when she spoke again, her voice was teasing.

"That's okay. His looks more than make up for it."

***

Max began grousing as soon as they were in the Jeep headed towards home.

"You suck. I mean, you really suck."

"Calm down, Max. You didn't even know her."

"So?"

"So...you really shouldn't care so much."

"I'd really like to hurt you right now."

"Besides, if it makes you feel any better, she was flirting with you near the end."

"You think so?"

"Excuse me? 'His looks more than make up for it'? What does that say to you? Trust me, Max, I'm a girl and I know these things. I don't know what she sees in you though, since you were apparently following her around like a pathetic loser..."

"Hey, do you think I liked following her into the Romance section? People kept giving me strange looks."

"People give you strange looks, period. What's her name, anyway?"

"Liz."

"Liz what?"

"Just...Liz."

"You don't even know her last name?"

Isabel sounded incredulous. Max protested in his defense.

"She wouldn't tell me!"

"She refused to tell you her last name? Gee, Max, you really know how to pick 'em."

TBC...?



[ edited 4 time(s), last at 7-Oct-2002 7:54:35 PM ]
posted on 16-Sep-2002 5:38:23 PM by ecclesiastes
Thanks for the fb, everybody! Sorry this part wasn't out sooner, but I think there's a conspiracy at my school that involves teachers handing out essay assignments at the same time. Oh yeah, and can't forget the required class camping retreats to go and look at...rocks. Buckets of fun, dontcha know. *tongue*


PART TWO: "Afraid that Mommy and Daddy dearest won't approve?"

It was the day of the party. Word had gotten around that this was going to be THE social event of the semester, possibly the year. It wasn't surprising that Kyle had been the one to make it happen. He was a certifiable jerk, yes, but he also had connections and when that didn't work, he had the intimidation factor going for him as well. So it was kind of like a double whammy.

Everybody planned on going. Much to Max's chagrin.

"Isabel. You are not going."

Max scowled at his sister as he sat on her bed, watching her try on every outfit that she owned.

"Where, in your warped little world, did you get the idea that you can tell me what to do?"

"I'm your older brother."

"By three minutes!"

"So. I'm still older."

Isabel sighed, her eyes hot from frustration. She couldn't believe how irrational her brother was being.

"Max, grow up. The Street isn't that bad."

"Is too. I think there was a drive by the other day..."

"Whoop de doo."

"Iz, I'm serious."

"So'm I. And in which case, you ought to stay home too, 'cos the last time I checked, drive by shootings didn't discriminate based on sex."

Max groaned.

"You know that that's not the only reason why..."

"I'm a big girl, Max. I can take care of myself."

"Fine." Max exhaled irritably. "Have it your way." He got off her bed and headed towards the door. "We're leaving in a few minutes. Kyle needs our help to set up."

Isabel grinned, obviously pleased at having gotten her way, and returned her attention to the task of picking out an outfit.

"Iz..."

She turned back to face her brother. Max had a concerned look on his face. Well, it was either a concerned look or a constipated one, Isabel couldn't decide which.

"You, uh, got mace, right?"

***

"Max, my man. Good to see ya. Where's Guerin?"

Max exchanged a high five with Kyle before shrugging out of his jacket. "He's coming by later with Maria. He said he had something to do."

"Which translates into playing tonsil hockey," Isabel interrupted as she brushed past them into the old, decrepit building that was serving as the venue for Kyle's sure-to-be-hopping party. She wrinkled up her nose. "Wow..."

"Pretty amazing, right?"

"Words fail me."

"Don't be such a venue snob," Kyle said. "At least this place still has the furniture. I didn't have to bring my own."

Isabel stared at the peeling, tattered furnishings around them. "Calling this stuff furniture is open to debate."

Kyle rolled his eyes. "C'mon, gotta get this place cleaned up. Did you bring your stuff?"

Kyle had asked them to bring some large trash bags. Now that Max and Isabel saw the location with their own eyes, they could see why. Garbage. Everywhere.

"Eww..." Isabel looked even more disgusted.

"So," Kyle said cheerfully, "I got the gloves and the brooms. Let's sweep all this shit into a large pile in the center, then we can stuff it into the bags."

Isabel reluctantly put on a pair of gloves, grabbed a broom, and started sweeping. Max and Kyle followed suit. Within a span of thirty minutes, despite Isabel's constant moaning, they had managed to sweep the place clean. Several large bulging bags lay scattered throughout the room.

"Okay...on to step two...lighting."

Kyle reached into the shopping bag he had brought with him and took out a case of light bulbs.

"Does the electricity even work?" Max asked. It seemed like a building as crappy as this would have its circuits shot.

"Surprisingly--yes."

Kyle dragged a chair over so that it was right underneath the sole light bulb in the place. He stood up and, with some difficulty, managed to unscrew the burnt out bulb and replace it with a brand new one.

"Ta da!"

Kyle pulled the chain attached to the bulb. The room flooded with brilliant light.

"Right. I'm going to check the lights in the other rooms. You guys do your thing."

Kyle disappeared, the package of light bulbs tucked under his arm.

Isabel went to work on "taking the ick out of the furniture," as she referred to it. She had brought several blankets and cushions and threw them across the sofa and couch. The largest blanket she merely spread on the floor. While she went to work on that, Max put everything in its place. Kyle, true to form, had brought along a boombox to play music. That went in the corner. Then there were the three large barrels of beer, complete with the nozzles and tubes needed to spray them into cups. Those went into the opposite corner.

"Looks like you guys did good."

Max looked up to see Michael, with Maria not far behind.

"Yeah, convenient, huh?" Max said dryly.

"Why, Maxwell, whatever do you mean?"

"Guerin," Max sighed, "next time, you do your share of cleaning the place up or else I'll kick your ass."

Maria groaned. "Boys, place nice or else I'll separate you like babies."

"Is that DeLuca I hear?" Kyle's voice wafted down to them from the stairs. "And Guerin? So you guys finally decided to show your faces, huh? Leaving us to do all the dirty work."

Kyle came clomping downstairs.

"Sorry. We were busy."

"Yeah." Kyle grinned. "I can tell from the hickeys. Anyway, you two got here just in time...where's Tess?"

"She's gonna be late."

"Oh. Well, I wanted to show you guys something before the others came."

"Aw," Michael said jokingly, "we having a bonding moment?"

"Blow it out your hole, Guerin." Kyle rolled his eyes and reached into his pocket. He pulled out several small baggies. Not to mention a telltale tin.

"I thought we might want some later. To, you know, spice things up," Kyle said nonchalantly.

Silence.

"You can't be serious." Max finally spoke.

"What, you think I'm bullshitting?"

"We could get into huuuuuuge trouble."

"Rolling a joint, weed, it's no big thing," Kyle defended himself. "Even got some E if we get bored with the kiddie stuff."

Michael's face was unreadable. "Where'd you get it?"

"Once again, Josh." Kyle smirked. "The kid's got connections, if you know what I mean."

Max shook his head wildly.

"No. Nuh uh. No way."

"What's the matter? Afraid that Mommy and Daddy dearest won't approve?"

Oh yeah. Kyle was mocking him, all right.

Isabel came to her brother's defense.

"It's got nothing to do with that," she hissed. "The whole thing is stupid."

"So fine." Kyle looked slightly wounded. "Don't take any. Who's asking you?"

"Kyle..."

Maria sounded reproachful.

"You know, I don't get it." Kyle lost his temper. "I try to get things to liven the party up and you guys wimp out. The first sign of anything fun and it's piss and moan, piss and moan. Screw all of you. When the others get here, I'll see what they want. Maybe they'll have some balls."

Kyle stomped away. Maria sighed and turned to the others.

"You guys," she said soberly, "I have the feeling that this party's gonna be bad news."

***

Two hours later, the party was in full swing. Nothing too out of the ordinary had happened...yet. There were several kids smoking weed in another room, Max knew that. But as long as he didn't have to try it...

The boombox had been turned on at full volume. Music pulsated throughout the building. It was beginning to give Max a headache. Which was kinda surprising, because Max normally loved loud music.

Something was just different...

Kyle, more than a little tipsy, came staggering over. He was grinning his ass off.

"Dude...guess what..."

He pulled out a bag.

"Guess what I got."

Max rolled his eyes.

"Lemme guess. More E?"

"No. Better."

"Wow, well don't bother keeping me in suspense, Valenti," Max said sarcastically.

"I invited this girl to drop by, she said yes. She's fine."

"And...what? You think she's going to just give it up? Like she's just going to say, 'Oh, yes, Kyle, please,' and spread her legs?"

"Well...no. Of course not." Kyle smiled wickedly. "That's what these are for."

He held up the baggie.

Realization dawned on Max. His eyes widened.

"Roofies," Kyle said. "The best, unadulterated, non-counterfeit. Guaranteed to jack things up."

Max stared at the baggie.

"Kyle. What exactly are you planning?"

"What do you think?"

Kyle rolled his eyes and wagged the baggie back and forth.

"I mean," he continued, "I definitely did not get these for her arresting conversational skills."

"You can't do this."

"Whatever, man. Look, it's not a big deal anyway. The girl's from the Street. She's probably already fucked hundreds of guys. So...I figure I'm just adding one more to her resume. In a manner of speaking."

Max sucked in a breath.

And then, as an afterthought, Kyle said, "Her name is Liz."

Liz? Library Liz?

No, Max thought, snap out of it. Elizabeth was a common name. He was getting paranoid.

"What'd she look like?"

"Hot."

"Thanks for being so specific, Valenti." Max had to struggle to make his voice sound casual and disinterested.

"Brown hair, brown eyes. Nice ass."

Brown hair, brown eyes...there were probably lots of people with brown hair and brown eyes named Liz. Yeah, keep telling yourself that, Max.

"What was she wearing?"

Kyle looked at him oddly. "How should I know? Who do I look like? Isabel?"

"Kyle, you asshole, I'm serious."

"Whoa...touchy! I swear, Max, you're getting more like a girl every day." Kyle shook his head and thought. "Um...uh...oh!" He snapped his fingers.

"What? Do you remember?"

"Yeah." He smirked. "It was kinda hard to miss."

"Well?"

Kyle rolled his eyes.

"A blue jacket. She was wearing a blue jacket. It had little clouds all over it."



TBC...?

Author's Note: I guess it's become pretty obvious by now, but for those of you who don't know, roofies (or flunitrazepam, or Rohypnol) are commonly associated with being a date-rape drug. You slip it into a drink, it dissolves...no odor, no color. It's not allowed in the United States, but we all know that Kyle has connections, right? Oh yeah, and "E" stands for ecstasy, of course. *happy*









[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Sep-2002 5:40:27 PM ]
posted on 19-Sep-2002 8:29:02 PM by ecclesiastes
Thanks for all the fb, everybody! *happy* I'm going home for the weekend so I don't think that there will be updates then. I'll probably be too busy playing with my doggy, because she's been acting weird ever since my brother and I left for college--like she won't eat properly and she's even thrown up a few times. Hmmm...maybe because she no longer has a warm body to sleep next to (she used to sleep curled up next to me)? So yeah. I'll be spending the weekend comforting my pet. Among other things.


Part Three: "Sit up, mama's boy."

"Gee, Max, I didn't know that crouching over here by the stereo for the last forty minutes could be so much fun. But whatever floats your boat, I guess."

Tess Harding grinned down at her friend. Max scowled back, a bit embarrassed at being caught. He had been following Kyle for the last hour or so, with all the secrecy of an international spy that he could muster. Apparently he hadn't done a very good job. He only hoped that Tess didn't know why he was crouching by the stereo.

"If you don't mind, Tess, I'm kinda on a mission here."

"What, like stalking Kyle Valenti?"

Max winced. So much for his wish.

"Is it that obvious?"

"You've, like, perma-attached yourself. Or something." Tess took a gulp of the drink she held in her hand. "Is this some sort of kinky hunter-and-the-hunted roleplaying fantasy?"

"I'm just keeping an eye on him."

"Your concern is truly heartwarming, but I'm sure Kyle can look after himself." Tess sat down next to Max. "He's a big boy, Maxie. He's been eating solid food for at least a year, and I'm sure that in time he'll graduate from those Pampers pull-ups of his and move on to regular ol' tightie-whities."

"How many drinks have you had tonight, Tess?"

Tess rolled her eyes. "This is my first, Max," she said as she held up her cup. "Anyway, you know I can drink like a fish."

"Whatever." Max knew that what Tess was saying was true. She had a very high alcohol tolerance level. "Besides, it's not Kyle I'm worried about."

Tess immediately looked interested.

"Is he planning on doing something stupid?" She paused. "Again?"

"You could say that."

"Ooh, I smell something nice and gossipy."

"Tess..." Max's voice held a warning note in it.

Tess dropped all pretenses. Her face grew serious. "What is it, Max?"

"Kyle brought roofies."

Tess was silent for a minute, as the implications of Max's statement dawned on her. She exhaled.

"For what?"

"What do you think?"

"But...who?"

"I think I know. Actually, I'm one hundred percent sure. So I'm just keeping watch." He gave a small grin. "I kinda feel like a spy."

"Need company?" Tess cocked her head to one side. "You know, partners in espionage?"

"Are you sure you wouldn't rather be getting down with your bad self?" Max gestured to the party scene in front of them.

"The party sucks."

"Be my guest, then."

Tess slumped down lower.

"So why didn't you just punch his lights out?"

Max paused. "I...don't know. I guess I should've, huh? Maybe I'm just chicken."

"I don't think so."

"Michael woulda killed him by now, though." Max felt a bit abashed as he compared himself to his friend.

Tess looked at him sagely. "Do you really think that?"

"Well, yeah. Don't you?"

"No. Not at all. Max, it's easy to say that you're gonna do something a certain way when you've never been in that situation before. I'm sure lots of guys think of themselves as rescuing the damsel in distress in the traditional beat-'em-up kinda way. The reality often proves to be far different." Tess nudged him. "Hey, at least you're doing something about it now. That counts for something."

"Thanks, Tess."

"No problem. Anytime, bud."

The two fell into a silence, their eyes locked on Kyle Valenti.

Waiting for him to make his move.

***

Max woke up with a start. His eyes scanned the crowd, and his heart sank.

He poked Tess awake; her eyes fluttered open.

"Tess, we lost Kyle!"

***

"Elizabeth Doesn't-Have-A-Last-Name, so nice of you to join us."

Liz smiled at Kyle, the guy she had met earlier at a nearby cafe.

"I told you I'd come." Although, she was beginning to regret that decision. It was obvious that this party was pretty much all about being a kegger, and nothing else. And Kyle already looked tipsy. Liz instantly felt uncomfortable. What had she been thinking, when she had agreed to make an appearance? That was just it--she hadn't been thinking. What if she ran into someone she knew? That would so not be good.

"So you did." Kyle grinned charmingly. Ah...it all came drifting back to Liz now. How...manipulatively charismatic Kyle could be, when he wanted. So that was why she had said yes, she'd show up. "C'mon upstairs." He took her by the arm and led her up the rickety flight of stairs and into an empty room. Liz looked at him uncertainly. "Too loud down there, sometimes I can't think," he explained.

"I know what you mean." Liz shifted her weight nervously as she watched Kyle close the door, muting the noise outside. Something about this whole situation just seemed...wrong. She pulled out her keychain (complete with four keys) from her pocket and began playing with it--a nervous habit.

"Here, want a drink?" Kyle handed her the open can of beer he had been holding.

"I don't drink," Liz said softly, not accepting the can.

"You don't?" Kyle looked incredulous. "You gotta be kidding me."

"Nope."

"First time for everything." Kyle grinned. "C'mon, just take a little sip."

"I'd rather not," Liz said slowly.

"Why, you scared?" Kyle taunted.

Liz gave him a look. "Not exactly."

"Then what is it?"

"It just doesn't sound that appealing."

"Don't be such a goody-two-shoes. This ain't Pleasantville."

"Why are you being so insistent on this?" Liz suddenly asked, crossing her arms.

"Just trying to get you to loosen up, Lizzie." Kyle thrust out the can.

"I said no."

"Don't be a baby."

"I told you I don't drink."

"How do you know? Maybe you do drink, but you just don't know it yet."

Liz sighed. She stared at Kyle with an unreadable expression on her face.

She took the can.

Kyle smiled.

"It'll probably taste weird at first, but you know, you get used to it. Like cigarettes."

Liz paused, the can almost to her lips.

"I wouldn't know, I've never tried cigarettes."

The can hovered in the air for seconds that seemed like hours, before Liz held it away from her and turned it upside down, letting the contents splash out on to the floor.

***

Max sank to the ground in despair. This place was bigger than he had originally thought.

"Shit, we're screwed," he mumbled into his hands.

Tess kicked at him.

"Leemee 'lone," Max muttered.

"Sit up, mama's boy. Take note," Tess instructed.

"About what?"

"About how to really go around doing this shit." Tess grinned. "First rule of thumb, you never give up."

***

"What the hell? What the fuck did you do that for?"

Liz calmly tossed the can aside, regarding Kyle with a cool, appraising look.

"How stupid do you think I am?" Her voice was soft, calm, collected.

"That was good beer." Kyle felt an explosively hot stirring of anger.

"Of course it was."

"Shit, you just--" Kyle took a step toward her, but his jacket caught on the doorknob. Something fell from one of the inside pockets.

A baggie. With several pills inside.

Kyle sucked in a breath.

"I think I'll be going now," Liz said, as cool as ever. She moved as if to step around Kyle when he suddenly lurched out and grabbed her forcefully by the arm.

"Where the hell do you think you're going?"

"Let go of me, Kyle."

"Not so fast." Kyle gave her a lecherous stare. "I wanted to make this easier for you, but..."

There was a sudden flash of metal. In the next instant, Kyle had fallen backwards, his hands clutching his face, blood seeping through.

Liz watched him silently. Her keys, clutched in her right hand, dripped crimson.

"What? You think I don't know self defense?"

Liz stepped over Kyle's prone body and left the room, closing the door softly behind her.

TBC...?

A/N: Any guesses as to how Liz used her keys to stop Kyle? *tongue* I know some of you wanted Max to come in and save the day, but I didn't want Liz to seem completely helpless without him.
posted on 28-Sep-2002 8:47:31 PM by ecclesiastes

A/N: Thanks for all the fb, everybody! Oh, for those of you who want to know how Liz used the keys, here's how (you might know this if you took a self defense class, that's where I learned this): you place one key in between each finger, so that basically you have makeshift Wolverine claws. And then you jab them at your attacker. It can be very painful when done correctly. By the way, I want to mention here that there is something else besides Liz merely living on the Street. Heh. Heh. Heh. This following part gives clues to that, I think.

Anecdote of the Day: I was accosted and attacked by a strange man early Thursday afternoon! I was walking down the street and this guy walking in the opposite direction made a gesture to me. I was planning on ignoring it, but when we were passing, he started doing these karate moves and punched me. I continued walking, startled and a little bit scared. This officer type person had witnessed the whole thing and he ended up getting my information because apparently the strange guy had been harrassing people in a fast food restaurant earlier that day, plus he had jumped on to a woman's car. Very strange.

Part Four: "Um...I'm in the federal witness protection program?"

Liz stepped out the front door, the cool night air a welcome relief from the stuffiness inside. The night's events had given her a slight headache and all she wanted to do was crawl under a warm blanket and close her eyes, but who was she kidding? She'd be lucky if she got any sleep tonight.

She was just about to head towards home when a voice broke through the surrounding din.

"Liz!"

Liz stopped and turned around slowly, her face blank and impassive. She hoped it wasn't Kyle.

It wasn't. A very relieved Max came running up to her, out of breath.

"You don't...(puff)...know...(huff)...how glad...(puff)...I am...(huff)...to see...(puff)...you."

Liz felt something in her gut, something she couldn't quite describe, but managed to keep a perfect poker face. When she spoke, her voice was cool.

"Hi, Max."

"So were you leaving?" Max asked in a more normal fashion, having finally caught his breath.

Another pause. Max had the feeling that she was revising her sentences out in her head before she talked, something that made him slightly uncomfortable. Max felt more at ease with those who just blurted stuff out, stupid or not.

"Just about," Liz said in the same soft voice.

"So," Max felt an inward rush of relief, "nothing happened?"

Liz looked at him carefully. He knew about Kyle?

"No," she said finally, "nothing happened."

A silly grin came over Max's face, and Liz was hit with the sudden urge to trace the grin with her finger, maybe even kiss it...she pushed the thought from her head. Where the hell had that come from?

"That's good."

"Yeah." Liz paused. Revising her sentences again. "Listen, Max, I gotta go."

"Wait...you wanna talk or something?"

That damn pause again.

"I kinda have stuff to do."

"Oh." Max looked disappointed, a fact that did not escape Liz's attention. She looked at him closely, then groaned inwardly. Damn her for having a conscience!

"Um...it's not that important though."

Max smiled.

***

"So why didn't you tell me you lived around here?"

Well, that was subtle enough, Max.

"How do you know that?"

The two were sitting in a cafe, the kind that was open twenty-four hours. They both had soup--clam chowder for Max, cream of broccoli for Liz.

"A little birdie told me."

Liz smiled.

"Didn't think it mattered. Did it?"

"Not really. Just curious."

"Oh. Well."

"Speaking of curiosity, what's your last name?"

"Why? Does that matter?"

"I'd say that it mattered more than where you lived."

"But what if I told you my last name and you didn't like it? Would you stop talking to me? Are you a surname snob?"

Max laughed.

"Why don't you just tell me?"

"There are some things a girl's gotta keep private."

"O-kay. Now you're acting like I asked you to reveal your deepest, darkest secret."

"Some people's secrets are different than others'."

"Any of them you'd like to share?"

"Um...I'm in the federal witness protection program?"

Liz was smiling.

"Nuh uh. Don't think so."

"What? You think I'm lying?"

"Think about it. By telling me that you're in the federal witness protection program, you've pretty much defeated the purpose. I could be related to your enemy, sent here to find out all the dirt on you. So you're either lying, or you're a really big blabbermouth."

"Maybe I'm the latter."

"Are you?"

Liz laughed. "No."

"Figures."

The two fell silent for a while, their soups remaining virtually untouched.

Finally Liz spoke. "So you keep pumping me for information, but I barely know anything about you. Well, except that you have a weird thing for anime."

Max groaned. "You remember that?"

Liz smiled benevolently. "Don't feel bad, Max, lots of people have an anime fetish."

"Remind me to kill my sister."

"Dunno, she seemed kinda cool to me."

"That's 'cos you don't have to live with her."

"That's true." Liz picked up her plastic soup spoon and twirled it in one finger. "So...then tell me something about yourself. Since the other stuff your dear sister said was probably false."

"I'm Max Evans. I live in Roswell, New Mexico. I live with my mother, my father, and one soon-to-be-missing sister, Isabel. I don't have any pets. My favorite sport is basketball. Uh...what else?"

"Favorite school subject?"

"Biology."

"Cool. Me, too."

"No kidding?" Max sounded interested.

"Yeah...it's interesting. I like the smell of sulfur."

"You like the smell of rotten eggs?" Max wrinkled his nose.

"No, it's more complex than that." Liz continued twirling her spoon. "Are you interested in any particular field of study?"

"Not sure. I like dissecting. What about you?"

"Molecular biology," Liz said without hesitation. "Although yeah, dissection's cool, too. I dissected a worm once. And a frog, and a pig. The pig was only a fetus, though. It had its tongue sticking out."

There was something slightly off about the whole situation. Maybe Max was just stereotyping, but most of the people around the Street could care less about schoolwork, since most of them weren't even attending school. Liz was decidedly more academic.

"That's cool," Max said slowly. "Do you go to school, Liz?"

Liz suddenly seemed to find her spoon very interesting.

"Not exactly," she mumbled in a voice that seemed to rise up from somewhere around her shoes.

"You don't go to school?"

Liz sighed. Max seemed awfully inquisitive. Too inquisitive for her liking. But then again, this was really a harmless question. Plenty of people around the Street didn't go to school. The high majority. It wouldn't hurt to answer.

"I don't."

"Have you ever gone to school?"

Liz looked uncomfortable. There was a long pause before she spoke.

"I...never."

"Then how do you know about all this stuff about biology and junk?"

"Reading, basically. I read a lot. Books from the library, things like that." Liz began squirming. "Listen...I, uh, gotta go."

She slid out of the cafe booth quickly, reaching into her pocket at the same time and drawing out a twenty dollar bill, more than enough for the two soups and tip. She tossed the bill on to the table.

"Here ya go."

"I can pay," Max began to say, but Liz interrupted him.

"No, that's okay, it's no big deal."

"I insist..."

"Max," Liz interrupted again, "don't pull any of that chivalry crap on me. I'm paying, end of story."

"At least let me pay for my share."

"You are such a guy."

"Thanks. I try." Max pulled out some money and handed it to Liz. She took it and shoved it into her back pocket, all the while refusing to look him in the eye.

"Uh...thanks. I really do have to go now, though. See you later?"

"Yeah. Sure," Max said softly.

Liz left, the door swinging shut behind her. Max watched her leave, his face pensive. There was still something wrong, something that tickled his brain like a maddening itch. And then he realized what it was. Liz had said that she had pretty much learned everything from reading books. But then where and when had she been able to dissect something like she had said before?

***

"Jeez Max, where the hell have you been?"

Isabel frowned at him.

"I was busy."

"Yeah, well, I was looking for you for the past fifteen minutes!"

"Sorry if I kept the Ice Queen waiting," Max said sarcastically.

Isabel huffed.

"What crawled up your ass?"

"None of your business. You want to leave or something?"

"No, I was looking for you because I wanted to have a deep and meaningful conversation with my twin brother, of course. What do you think?"

"Well, go get Michael and Maria and we can leave. See if Tess needs a ride, too."

"What am I, your messenger service?"

"I'm the one with the keys, Iz."

Isabel changed manners abruptly, flashing Max a sickly sweet smile before flouncing off to do as he had ordered. Ten minutes later, she had come back with all three. Michael and Maria looked disgruntled, leaving Max to assume that they had been...unceremoniously interrupted while doing something.

"PMSing much?" Michael grumbled.

"Shut up, Michael. I just need to get outta here. The Ryan brothers are getting a bit too frisky for my liking."

"Ooh, a threesome," Tess teased.

"Yeah, right up your alley, Tess," Isabel shot back. Tess just laughed.

"All right...let's get outta here before heads start to roll." Max rolled his eyes at his friends' bickering and led the way to the Jeep.

***

Liz walked down the street, her jacket pulled tightly around her.

Her mind kept on drifting back to the unsettling feeling she had gotten when Max had grinned at her. She couldn't explain it. Max was a random guy, practically a stranger! Why him? Why anyone at all?

It didn't matter. Liz knew that she wouldn't be getting involved with anyone anytime soon, least of all Max. He obviously came from an affluent neighborhood, and he seemed to be the kind of guy who was fairly, if not very, popular. At least he'd have plenty of friends. And getting involved with that kind of guy could bring her a lot of attention, which wouldn't be good at all. Worse than not good.

It might ruin everything that she had worked for.


TBC...?






posted on 7-Oct-2002 7:53:07 PM by ecclesiastes

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Okay, I'm not really sure about this part. Heh heh. But gimme a break and bear with me. I typed this up after staying up all night to write an essay for English (six pages written between 3 AM - 7 AM in the morning, woo hoo)...so yeah, my brain's been pretty much fried.

Part Five: "I...didn't giggle."


They all dressed alike. Baggy jeans, tank tops, sneakers, and black leather jackets, with wallet chains to complete the look. They sat crowded around a booth at Lorenzo's Pizza Shack, splitting several large pizzas and drinks. There were about a dozen of them, all friends or at least acquaintances, most of them in their late teens--although there might have been a few who were as young as fourteen, maybe even thirteen or twelve.

Liz only knew the ringleader, Chris. She had run into him sometime during her first week on the Street, and it wasn't an experience that she wanted to repeat. Chris was a bit...scary, for lack of a better word. He was known as the head honcho in the area, and messing with him meant that you'd lose something--like a limb, or a life. To be perfectly fair, Chris hadn't done anything to Liz specifically. She supposed she had genetics to thank for that, since she (and everybody else) suspected that Chris hadn't touched her due to her strong resemblance to his dead sister. Katie had died after swallowing all the pills she could find in her house's medicine cabinets. A suicide, no doubt, but it was well known that Chris blamed the "spoiled rich kids" in West Roswell for what had happened, because two months before Katie's death, she had been brutally raped by some of them. Only twelve years old, dragged kicking and screaming into a car filled with hormonal teenage boys...Liz didn't blame Chris for still being upset, but that still didn't mean she didn't feel skittish whenever she was around him. The boy was like a ticking time bomb, set to explode any minute. When Liz had first met him, he had been in the process of beating up a kid who couldn't have been older than thirteen. Thirteen! Liz had felt sick.

When she saw Chris and his cronies all crowded around a booth, her first instinct was to turn back on her heels and walk away. But she couldn't. Chris had noticed her and was waving her in. Liz sighed. She didn't want this, she wanted Chris to leave her alone. Sure, there was a definite upside in resembling Katie...it had kept her from being raped and Liz knew she held a power over Chris that not even his closest pals/homies/dawgs/whatever had. But Liz couldn't help but wish that she had never been noticed and could just go totally incognito for a while...unnoticed by anyone or anything. But that had never happened, not in her whole life.

Maybe it's time for another move...

Liz shook her head, clearing the thought from her mind as she walked into Lorenzo's and exchanged greetings with the others. She was getting paranoid. Sure, Chris' attention was a bit annoying, but nothing to get worried over. Now, if that Evans guy started poking his nose into her business, then there'd be trouble.

"Looks like there's something on your mind, Lizzie."

Chris' voice broke through the haze in Liz's brain. She looked down at him with an unreadable expression on her face, wondering if she should tell him about Max and how he was stirring up trouble for her. One word from her, and Chris would be on Max's back like a dog in typical protective style. But at the last instant, Liz snuffed out that idea. Max was from West Roswell. One of those "rich kids." Chris would do more than just scare Max if Liz mentioned him; he'd most likely kill him, but not before a nice rousing game of Let's See How Long We Can Make the Fucker Scream. Max was a nice guy. And cute. With a smile that was beyond adorable.

But he was from West Roswell.

Liz sighed inwardly. "No," she said, her voice perfectly precise and clipped, "there's nothing wrong."

"You sure?"

"Positive."

"You want some pizza?"

"No, thanks."

"But you didn't eat breakfast." Chris narrowed his eyes.

"Um...'kay, maybe I'll have a breadstick," Liz said in order to pacify Chris. She plucked a breadstick from the breadbasket and took a bite, trying not to gag. It tasted like saturated cardboard.

Content to see Liz eating, Chris turned back to his friends to continue the conversation that they had been having. Liz didn't mean to eavesdrop, but standing next to the booth nibbling on a sorry excuse for a breadstick, she couldn't help but catch bits and pieces of the discussion.

"--went there?"

"Saw them, dude. With my own eyes."

"God, who the hell do they think they are?"

"Bunch of fucking assholes."

"Just coming on to our turf like that? Like that?"

"Spoiled little rich bastards."

"I'd shoot 'em all in the face--"

"--fuck that shit--"

"--watch 'em bleed, you know..."

"Just laugh my head off..."

"--what I wouldn't give to fucking off them--"

Liz froze. They had to be talking about the party she had gone to the other night.

She could only hope that nobody had seen her there, nobody who would relay the word back to Chris. She didn't want to think what Chris would do if he found out she had attended one of their parties. Kill her? Torture her? Rape her? No, those options were far too kind. Chris' hatred of the Roswell community ran deep.

And Liz could see why. She remembered Kyle, the way he had leered at her, planned on drugging her...during the actual incident, Liz had been more pissed than scared (her own fight or flight syndrome was definitely more in tune with the fighting side), but she had felt pretty shaken up afterwards, to the point of having nightmares. Yes, there were definitely a lot of punks in West Roswell...

...But there were also people like Max.

Max, who was just so...Max.

Liz almost let a grin slip on to her face, which could have spelled disaster. But at the last minute, she managed to retain her legendary control, keeping her face impassive. She crammed the rest of the breadstick down her throat mechanically as a safeguard against any more possible slipups.

"Whoa...kinda hungry?" Chris asked, noticing how she had stuffed practically half a breadstick in one go.

Liz only nodded, her mouth too full of food to speak intelligibly.

***

Max had to hide a grin as he saw Kyle Valenti coming in his direction, his face heavily bandaged. He turned to Michael, who was standing next to him. It was Monday afternoon, after school. The two were ruffling through their lockers for any books or papers they'd need that night for homework.

"So what happened to Valentine?" he asked, deliberately using a nickname that he knew Kyle hated.

Michael shrugged. "Heard he got dissed by some chick at the party."

Max could no longer hide his smile. It had to have been Liz. She hadn't told him explicitly, but he had gotten the feeling that she hadn't told him a lot of things. It was entirely possible--and probable, considering how she had been his sole conquest of the evening--that Liz was responsible for those bandages on Kyle's face.

He liked her better and better with each passing day. He couldn't even come close to explaining why just thinking about her made his stomach clench. But those things were always complex, weren't they?

She was smart. She was funny. She was beautiful (and a brunette, bonus points for that). She was a mystery.

A very uncharacteristic, un-Max-like giggle slipped out.

Oops.

Michael was now looking at him strangely. "You okay, man?"

"Sure, fine," Max said nonchalantly. So he felt a little bit giddy, although he didn't know why. No big deal.

"You giggled," Michael said pointedly.

"Thanks for pointing that out, Michael. For a minute there, I thought I'd screamed." Max stuck his head into his locker in a deliberate show of avoiding his friend.

It didn't work. Michael grabbed him by the collar and yanked him back out.

"Guys don't giggle, Max."

"I...didn't giggle." Max could feel another one coming on, but he suppressed it. Maybe he was feeling this way because he hadn't gotten that much sleep? He had heard that sleep deprivation could make the stupidest thing sound funny. Only...only he had gotten ten hours of sleep last night. Not exactly deprivation material.

"No, man, that was a definite giggle. Which you can't do. Laughing, okay. Chuckling, yeah. Snorting, burping, definitely. Giggling? That's where I gotta draw the line. Only girls giggle, Max."

"Mikey G, what is this I'm hearing? You, being a sexist pig? I'm shocked."

Maria's voice sounded loud and accusing, yet touched with a hint of mirth. Michael immediately got a guilty look on his face as he whirled around to face his girlfriend.

"Uh...hey, Maria."

"Don't 'hey, Maria' me. So tell me, what's wrong with giggling?"

Max could tell that she wasn't really mad. She just enjoyed watching Michael squirm.

"Max sounded like a loon."

"Max has the right to sound like a loon. You, on the other hand, have the right to remain silent."

"I would if I knew why he was acting like such a goof."

Maria looked at Max casually.

"Isn't it obvious?"

"Isn't what obvious?"

"What's going on with Max."

"What is going on with Max?"

"God, Michael, sometimes you can be so clueless."

"Enlighten me, please, oh wise one."

Max rolled his eyes as they continued talking as if he wasn't there.

"He's infatuated with someone, Michael."

What? Max snapped around to face his two bickering friends.

"Infatuated?" Michael repeated, looking dumbfounded.

"Yeah...you know...crushing, lusting, whatever..."

Lusting. He did not lust after Liz. He didn't even know her last name!

"I know what infatuated means. How do you know?"

"Call it woman's intuition." Maria turned to Max. "So who is she?"

Max stuffed his hands into his pockets. He looked stubborn. "Who's who?"

"You know, Romeo. Your Juliet du jour."

Max groaned. "Shut up, Maria."

Maria laughed and clapped him on the back. "Cheer up, Max. I'm sure things'll work out."

"I know who he's talking about," Isabel said matter-of-factly as she joined the group...flanked by Pam Troy, Stephanie Rogers, and Tricia Leigh. Max looked at them with distaste and glanced at Isabel questioningly. Isabel normally didn't hang out with them. Isabel caught his look and shrugged helplessly. Ah. So they had followed her. That explained that.

"Max!" Pam squealed excitedly. "How are you?"

"I'm fine, Pam, thanks," Max mumbled, sticking his head in his locker again. He felt very much like an ostrich.

"How was the party? Were you there?"

"Yeah. Were you?" Max didn't take his head out from his locker.

"Noooo..." It sounded as if Pam were about to break out into tears. "I couldn't. Had to go to my uncle's house." She looked at Maria and her lip curled. "You know, my rich uncle. We went over there in the limo."

Max rolled his eyes. Of course, Pam didn't see it. He still had his head in his locker.

Everybody knew about Pam. She was rich and came from an "old money" family. Consequently, her entire bloodline was filthy, stinking rich. And she never missed an opportunity to rub it into people's faces. Especially Maria's, who maybe wasn't as well off as Pam financially, but had more brains in her little pinky than Pam did in her whole silicon-enhanced body.

"Gee, that's nice," Michael deadpanned. "Did you have champagne and caviar?"

Pam looked affronted. She flounced back her hair. "I'm surprised you even know what that is, Michael Guerin."

"C'mon, Pam," Tricia said softly. "We're gonna be late for cheerleading."

Pam looked as if she were revving up for another verbal assault, but Stephanie and Tricia pulled her away. Max sighed and pulled his head from his locker. Pam had a way of giving him migraines. The other two weren't that bad, ditzy as they were. Only Pam...

"Now, I think she's in love with you," Michael muttered.

"Speaking of which..." Maria turned interested eyes on Isabel. "C'mon, spill. Who does Max like?"

"Oh, just this girl he met at the library one day," Isabel said offhandedly as she sidestepped Max to go to her own locker. She conveniently ignored the death glare that he was sending in her direction. "He's, like, obsessed with her. He won't admit it, though."

"Am not obsessed," Max muttered through gritted teeth. Although...it seemed as if Liz had been infiltrating his mind more than usual. More than he thought.

"He dreams about her at night," Isabel said as if he hadn't spoken.

Maria's eyebrows shot up. Even Michael looked interested.

"How would you know?" Max grumbled.

"Because you talk in your sleep, dear brother. Or, well, it's more like, 'Liz...Liz..." interspersed between moans and groans."

Max felt his face flush a deep red. He wondered if Isabel was bullshitting. She could just be baiting him. After all, it was well known among their group (although, he didn't know HOW it had become well known) that Max rarely remembered his dreams. So, even though he had no recollection of ever having a dream that involved apparently sexual fantasies about a girl he had met only twice, he knew that that didn't mean it hadn't happened. But leave it to Isabel to spew all this stuff to his friends! Max was mortified.

"You are such a blabbermouth, Iz."

"Oh, calm down, Max. I'm sure they'd find the taped recordings I made of you sooner or later, anyway."

Taped recordings? Oh, dear Lord...Max glared at his sister. What had he done that was so bad, that God had decided to punish him by giving him Isabel Evans, Motormouth Extraordinaire, as a sibling? And it wasn't as if she was the Maria-type of blabbermouth. Nope. Maria blabbed without meaning to, which had an endearing quality to it. Isabel didn't. When she blabbed, it was because she wanted to blab. Blab blab blab.

Oh jeez. I really am going crazy. Max shook his head.

Anyway. He had only met Liz twice. There was no way a person could fall for someone he had only met twice. Right? Right.


TBC...?