posted on 27-Sep-2002 5:52:23 AM by starlady
fd142008


Title: Secrets in the Dark
Author: Starlady
Category: M/L AU/FF
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Roswell and all the character portrayed in the series are not my creation. God knows who they belong to but I know there not mine. This story is based on the book The Real Father by Kathleen O'Brien but I imagine somewhat different since I have never read the book.

Summary: This story arose from a challenge. Liz, Max & Maria were best friends since very young. Liz dated Max’s twin brother for three years before a tragedy and life circumstances makes her leave Roswell, taking with her a secret. Ten years later, Liz Parker returns to confront her past and discovers that Max has also carried a secret with him. Read on to learn more...

~ Chapter 1 ~

There he lied with his chest exposed to her…. She stumbled through the window and shaked her head to remove some of the fuzziness the alcohol had put there.
The room was very dark but she could see him on his bed. He looked like a god. He had gone to bed w/o a t-shirt and so he lied there barely covered by the soft sheet that exposed the top of his boxers. Liz smiled to herself, “He was a boxer guy after all.” She could hear the soft sounds of his breathing and she couldn’t wait any longer. This was it. This was the night. No more hesitation. In the back of her mind she could hear herself recite all the reason why she should leave right now, all the reasons that she had given through out their three year relationship why they should wait. None of that seemed to matter at this moment. She felt the pull to get closer. The thoughts that had awaken her to this moment kept playing in her mind. “I need him, He is what I really want, I need to prove this to him” It was like a mantra. She kept repeating over an over. She stumbled closer to the bed and started shedding the little clothing she had on. She could do this, She needed him. He is all that she really wanted, She needs to prove this to him.

She kneeled at the end of the bed and started crawling up his body. She moved slowly and reveled in the sight before her. His tan skin looked so soft and yet it was so muscular. His scent was a little different than what she expected, he smelled sweeter. A musky scent mixed with a sweet something. She felt his thighs rub against hers when she moved to straddle him, throwing one of her legs over his while her arms, which were placed on either side of his rib cage supported her movement. She couldn’t take it anymore, she had to taste him. She lowered her lips to his chest. Just a few centimeters from where his heart beat. She inhaled again and was hit again with the peculiar scent he had. Brushing her lips against his chest she finally touched him. She smiled when she heard a soft moan escape his lips. She could do this! She needed him! She trailed hot kissed over his chest and up his neck. She could feel him awakening when her thigh rubbed against him. Her breasts rubbed against his chest and she heard him sigh her name. He wanted this, he had been waiting for this moment for a very long time. No more waiting, she thought. She could do this, She needed him. He was all that she really wanted, She needed to prove this to him.

Her senses was all that were guiding her and those where fuzzy to say the least. She lifted her leg and moved it over his hip to fully straddle him. She gasped as she felt his hands moved over her thigh and caress her, lifting his hips to rub against her heat. She could feel his arousal under his boxers. The thin cotton the only barrier between them. She leaned against his chest again letting her hair cascade over her features. She kissed his neck and moved over his jaw to latch onto his lips, as she reached between them to liberate him from the confines of his shorts. She pushed them as low as possible before completing the task with her foot. She heard him stir to life when she removed her mouth from his lips.

“Liz?” he questioned. He had thought he was dreaming. Another of the many he had had over his lifetime.

“Is this a dream?” He whispered against her lips. His eyes fluttering open.

“Only if you want it to be” she breathed back before she pressed her lips against his more forcefully.

Max closed his eyes again not wanting this to be a dream but not willing to risk waking up just yet. He moved his hand from where they rested on her thighs and caressed her hips on his way up to her back holding her in place against his chest. He could feel her heat rubbing against his arousal and he could barely respond to her kisses due to the sensory overload he was experiencing. His mind seemed to have awakened because he kept hearing this voice in the back of his head that told him that this was wrong. This was not supposed to happen. It kept repeating itself until he felt her hand touch him in the most intimate way. Guiding him, urging him and then he heard her voice whisper in his ear, her breath caressing his skin.

“Please, take me, Let me show you how much I want you. How much I’ve always wanted you”

There were no more voices to be heard. He grabbed her hips and thrusted into her. Her world stood still. His world kept spinning.

She had not expected the brutal entrance, she had not expected the harshness of the movement, and she had not expected the regret that covered her heart. Her mantra continued as she felt him thrust into her again. Her eyes closed trying to hold in the tears that threatened to escape. She could do this. He was all she wanted. She needed to prove it to him.

“Oh, God… Liz!” Max gasped.

She felt herself being lifted and a second later she was on her back. His face hovering over hers. His features looked darker than usual. The light that swept across the room was barely enough to distinguish him. He was so handsome. She brushed his hair off his forehead to look at his eyes. He still had them closed as if afraid to open them.

There it was again, a feeling this time. Something different. What was it? Something in the way he stilled himself over her. As if he was sending a silent prayer to heaven. Was he just as afraid as she was? God, she loved him. Tonight she was proving it to him.

Max finally opened his eyes and what he saw laying before him took his breath away. There she was, her silken strands fanning across the bed. Her eyes filled w/ love. This had to be a dream he thought. He felt himself surrounded by her and he moved again felling her walls squeeze him. That’s when he heard it… A small gasp, a small groan. Was it pain or pleasure?
She was his first. She was the only one he had ever wanted, the only one that he had ever dreamed of having. His knees, which supported him, felt weak w/ pleasure as he debated with himself. His insecurities started overshadowing his pleasure and he paused once again. He had to gain some semblance of control. He needed to make sure that this was right. The voices started up again. He argued with them while he looked into her beautiful face. She wanted HIM. She came to HIM.

“Liz…” he began to say, starting to pull back.

“Shh…” she whispered, seeming to know what he was thinking, and she moved her hips up to take him in deeper.

Max clenched his teeth when he felt her move and with that, all his insecurities flew out the window. He lowered his mouth to her neck and placed hot open mouth kisses that outlined her collar. Lowering his mouth to the valley between her breast, he caressed the small mound with his hand. It felt so soft and full, like rose petals. He had to taste them, so he lowered his mouth to cover the perk bud that had formed over the creamy flesh. He suckled the sweet flesh as if it was a dying man’s last meal. He heard her moan and that, for sure, was a sound of pleasure. He wrapped his arm around her, lowering his hand to cup her buttocks and press her closer to him. He felt her legs wrap around his waist and he slipped deeper into her. His mouth stopped working and he stilled his movement.

'God, what is happening? What are you doing to me?' He thought

Her breathing was labored now. He knew he was doing something right.
He felt her hands entangle in his hair pressing her breast deeper into his mouth.
This stopped being a dream a while ago. Now, he knew he had died in his sleep and he was in heaven.

She had felt him stop his movement but she needed more. She needed him. When had her mantra become real. She did need him. It was a primal urge, a heat that started low and kept burning her insides. She felt another moan escape her lips and felt her insides turn. What was this? This was not the first time she had felt his mouth on her but it was different. He was so different, almost as if he revered her. She could feel the way his tongue moved over her nipple and how he gently nipped at it. He moved from one breast to the other giving it the same reverence.
They had talked about this over and over. He had wanted this and she just couldn’t go there. She questioned, why? Why had she waited? Every caress he placed on her body spoke volumes of the love he had for her. She felt it in the slow steady thrusts he took into her. As if he didn’t want this to end. Ever.
The blanket of regret that covered her heart a little while ago was lifting. He was washing away her fear, her doubts, her regrets with each caress, with every kiss.

She felt his hand open around her hip. His chest pressing her against the bed She felt his hands outline her body from her hips moving slowly up her ribcage, brushing the sides of her breast, raising her arms over her head and finally grabbing her own hands within his. His mouth searing her skin with every kiss he placed on her, working its way up her chest to the hollow of her neck.

“You’re so beautiful” she heard him sigh into her neck.

He put more of his weight on her and with the slight move in position he seemed to hit her in a spot that sent her nerves flying. Her mouth flew open in a silent scream of ecstasy. She turned her head to lean against his.

“Please… “ was all she could say.

Max lowered one of his hands and moved it to the back of her thigh, lifting her leg just enough to give him the movement he needed to finish this. He moved his hand over her hips and between them, lowering it to the bundle of nerves he knew existed between her folds. He felt his fingers in tangle between her wet curls and he touched himself as he slid in and out of her. Her juices covering his fingers he swept them across her nub and, this time the scream was not as silent. His thrust took on speed as his fingers caressed her folds and all the secrets it held. His mouth covered hers in a searing kiss that told her that this was it for him. After this moment he would never be able to take another. He was hers forever. He felt as if he was losing himself. He could feel himself falling…

He felt her grab his shoulders and her nails dug into his flesh at the moment her body became tense and it shivered underneath him. Then he felt it. Warmth surrounding him and her walls squeezing him in a vice grip. He opened his mouth not knowing what was happening, the pleasure was almost painful. He couldn’t breath. A loud hiss was all that erupted from his throat as he went over the edge after her.

Her body tingled all over. She felt the warmth of his body surround her. He was still in her, pulsating. She could barely breath with the sensations that he had awoken within her. The drops of sweat fell on her body and she looked into his face. His eyes were shut and his mouth partly open as if he was going to speak but his words had fallen short. He lowered his head to rest on her shoulder and she finally heard him breath. She wrapped her arms around him pressing her body even closer to his. She kissed the top of his head and then she felt him return her kiss on her neck.

“Liz… I love you” she heard him say “There will never be another for me, I have loved you since I can remember, it has only been you. I will love you with my last breath”

She felt the tears roll down the side of her face. In all the years they had been together he had never said those words. Three years. Three years she had waited. Three years doubting him and herself. Why had she doubted him? Why had she doubted her own feelings? Tonight all she had felt was love, all the love he had for her and all the love she had for him.

Liz closed her eyes and sleep threatened to take her away. She needed to tell him how much he meant to her, tell him all that she needed him to hear but she was so tired. The alcohol she had consumed earlier to get her here was taking its toll. Before she surrendered to the sandman she whispered her response to him…

“ I love you too, Zan”

TBC~

Please send me some Feed back..
This is my first Fic and would appreciate your thoughts on the chapter.
Thx
~S

[ edited 45time(s), last at 22-Feb-2003 11:27:37 AM ]
posted on 28-Sep-2002 6:42:56 AM by starlady
Wow! Thanks for all the feedback! It's very encouraging and has me writting faster to get more of this piece out fo you.
I hope you like this new part. Next part will see Liz's thought about the evening and we will learn what brought her to Zan's room but for now, let see Max's reations...

The parts in italics are flashbacks.
Enjoy!

~ Chapter 2 ~

Max stood in front of the sink of the bathroom staring at the image that looked back at him from the mirror. It was Zan. He gripped the sink so tight his knuckles had turned white. His anger flushed his face, his jaw clenched so hard he could have probably broken a tooth.

‘You got what you wanted, Evans’ he thought, ‘You became your brother.’

His eyes closed tight at the thought. He lowered his head and tried to gain some control over the feelings that coursed through his body. He would scream if his Parents were not upstairs in their bedroom sleeping.

Two years. Two years he had worked at becoming his brother. He wore the same hairstyle as Zan. When Zan decided to grow out a goatee, Max had also grown one out. Zan was into sports and it kept his body trim and muscular, Max worked hard to keep his body in the same condition. Even when Zan dyed his hair last year, Max was just a few weeks behind him doing the same thing. Thank god that phase had past because Max hated the blue streaks he had put on his hair.

Max wanted to be Zan and he finally had achieved it. Except now he wished he hadn’t.
Zan knew what Max was doing and although he had hated it at first he paid no mind to him anymore. Zan loved Max and he knew he would get past it eventually.
God, if he only knew what it would take to slap Max out of his ‘phase’.

Max opened his eyes and looked at his reflections again. He couldn’t take it any longer.

“ I love you too, Zan”

He opened the medicine cabinet grabbing the scissors and the razor. He grabbed the hair on his face and started cutting it off.

“Please, take me, Let me show you how much I want you. How much I’ve always wanted you”

Quickly he spread the shaving cream over his face and shaved his face clear of all that was Zan.

“Please… “

He grabbed the ends of his tresses and started chopping off his hair. He had let it grow longer than usual because it was Zan’s new look. He couldn’t stand the hair on his face any longer. The way it curled a bit at the base of his neck. He chopped here and there until he was satisfied that there was no way in hell anyone would ever look at him and see his brother.

“ I love you too, Zan"

‘ARGG! Stop it! Stop it!’ he yelled at himself throwing the scissor to the floor. He opened the curtain to the shower and turned on the hot water. Stepping in, he let the water pound his chest before putting his hands against the wall to support him. He lowered his head between his arms and stood there, letting the water scold his back. He stood there going over the events in his head. He felt the tears burn his eyes as he pounded the wall.

‘You are such an idiot! What were you thinking, Evans? Did you think she wanted you? God Damn Fool! All those years as your friend and as your brother’s girlfriend, You think last night she had an epiphany and said to herself, “Oh yeah, I really have wanted Max all my life and not his gorgeous, popular and witty brother”, Fucking asshole!’

Max stepped back from the wall. He leaned his back against the opposite wall and slid to the ground. Hugging his knees to his chest he laid his face on his arm.

“What the hell where you doing in his room to start off with?” he asked expecting no response.


“Where are you headed, Zan?” Max asked his brother who was decked out more than what he needed to be if he was headed to bed, as he should on a Thursday night.

“What is it to you?” was his reply.
“Sheesh, can I have my head back?”
“What do you want, Max?” Zan asked

“I just want to know where you’re going so that when Mom & Dad wake up in the middle of the night and don’t find you in bed where your suppose to be, I will know where they can find you so they can kick your ass” Max responded while he sat on the edge of Zan’s bed still drying off the remnants of his shower from his hair.

“I’m headed to the old Soap Factory, there’s an underground party there and I’m going to meet some of the better specimens of the female persuasion” Zan said with a half coked smile.

“So, I take it that you’re not taking Liz?” Max said as he stared at his brother.

Zan laughed, “ You got that right! I’m getting some tonight and that statement is equivalent to the fact that my girlfriend is no where to be found!”

Max’s eyes narrowed in anger, “ How can you do that to her?”

Zan looked at Max and shook his head, ”Oh, baby brother, the things you need to learn!”

“What? To be unfaithful? To play with people’s feelings? To manipulate them? Liz loves you and
you shit all over her feelings… you could care less about her. Why do you even keep her around?”

“Don’t play the wounded friend card on me Max! I know why you’re asking and it has nothing to do with the fact that you are one of her best friends and has every thing to do with the fact that you would give an arm and a leg to be the object of her affections. Give it a rest Max, it ain’t gonna happen. No matter how much you try to look at like me, she will never look at you like she looks at me!”

Max’s mouth moved but no sound came out. What could he say in response. He had just been slapped in the face with the truth.

Zan sat next to his brother and sighed, “ I’m sorry, Max. I do care for Liz. When I started to date her I thought she was the one. I don’t need to tell you how perfect she is. But I’m not. I’m not perfect, Max. Time passes and things change. People change. I’ve changed. She is this sweet, beautiful, smart girl that will accomplish anything she sets her mind to. Me? I’m this typical jock, three months away from graduating high school with no idea what to do with my life. Hell, if I hadn’t gotten an athletics scholarship I would probably not even be heading to college. Max, I’m not you. You know what you want to do with your life, you put effort in keeping your grades up so you could achieve that. I’m still looking.”

Max stared at his brother. Why was he telling him this?

“Zan…” Max started to say

“ … and part of the process of looking, is to look for the best way to get my next lay. So, I’m out of here!” Zan said as he got off the bed, grabbing his jacket and rushing out the door.

Max let out a breath and just threw himself back onto his brother’s bed. He will never understand Zan. He was popular, athletic, smart and most of all Zan had the love of the woman Max adored. Max brought his arm to rest on his forehead while he stared at the ceiling.

Liz, He had been friends with Liz all his life, or so it felt like it. They had know each other forever. While in middle school he discovered that his classmate was a whiz at science and English. Teamed up as partners in Science, they had developed a friendship that deepened every year. He could barely remember a time that Liz wasn’t there with him. Maria and Alex completed the quartet.
Max had noticed his friends moving around in the social groups when HS started.

Alex, who was a year older than the rest of them, had dated a girl named LeAnn for his sophomore year before developing a crush on Max’s sister Isabel. Isabel was two years older than Max and would not even acknowledge Alex. So, Alex pined away for her until he left for college last year. They still kept in touch but Isabel was a voodoo subject.

Maria was the pixie of the group. Jumpy, energetic and with no hair on her tongue. She would smack you over the head with the truth whether you liked it or not. She had dated her share of guys but was still looking for Mr. Right. “Max,” she had told him one day, “While waiting for Mr. Right, I am more than happy to get to know the finer points of Mr. Right Now!” .

Liz on the other hand was not one to jump around. Her sophomore year she went out to a party at Vicky Delaney’s house, and got to see Zan in a whole different light. Max remembers that she had begged him to go with her. Maria was with her latest fling of the week and Alex was DJ’ing the event. Max was sick that weekend with the worst Flu of his life and just could not drag himself out the door.
A few weeks later Zan and Liz were an official couple. Max threw up more the day that he found out than the weekend he had his flu.

Max felt the bed move under him from the weight of another person on it.
Isabel sighed and lied next to her brother.

“Max, he’s right you know. He isn’t you. You can’t live your life pretending to be him and you can’t expect him to live his life based on your expectations of him as Liz’s boyfriend. Liz isn’t blind. She has to know what’s happening. She’s probably going to have to make some difficult choices in the next few months. She’ll be going off to college, as will all of you. College is not a cakewalk, Max. Dealing w/ classes and a straying boyfriend is not a good way to start out. Liz is smart and dedicated. She’s going to make the right choice. Be there for her and don’t condemn your brother for being clueless.”

“It’s hard, Isabel. I see how he treats her and it just pisses me off that he takes her for granted.”

“I know” Isabel responded before she took his hand in hers and gave it a small squeeze.

Max turned his head to face her, his arm still on his forhead, and smiled.

“Thanks”

“Don’t mention it. I’m heading out to my apartment. Why don’t you drive up on Saturday? We can do something”

“Sure, Iz”

Isabel gave his hand another squeeze and kissed him on the check before she got up and left Max to his own thoughts.


Max got up off the floor of the shower when he felt the cold pelts of water hitting him. He had to get out of here. He couldn’t stay here and see her when realization set in. She would never look at him the same way again.
Climbing out of the shower he wrapped himself in a towel and headed to his own bedroom. Throwing on a pair of sweats and a t-shirt he moved to Zan’s room.

He stood there in the doorway watching her sleep. She lay on her stomach with her back exposed to him. The soft skin screamed to be caressed. Max pushed his head back and leaned against the doorway. He could still smell her scent. He closed his eyes to inhale it and all he could see was her body laying beneath him, her eyes full of love, taking his face in her hands and pulling him to her for a kiss that now burned his soul.

“ I love you too, Zan”

His eyes popped open and he push himself off the door. He had to get out of here!
He grabbed the door handle and closed the door to Zan’s room. He rushed out of the house in a sprint that threatened to leave all those ghosts behind him, but this was a night that would always haunt him.

TBC~

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 28-Sep-2002 6:45:19 AM ]
posted on 29-Sep-2002 7:58:47 AM by starlady
As I said before, You guys are awesome.
Thanks for your support on this story. I never realized how much of a high it was for the writer to get feed back and how the questions you ask can bring up stuff we might not have thought of.

Please keep the feed back coming.

I'm very unsure if I got Liz's feelings across well in this part but I fiddled w/ it enough. I'll just post and hope you all are patient w/ me. We will eventually see why Liz is w/ Zan. Liz is a much more complex character than Max.

Enough chit-chat. On with Chapter 3....

~ Chapter 3 ~

Liz crawled into her room and found it smaller than she did the night before. Maria laid in her sleeping bag at the foot of the bed. The Coke bottles that held their source of intoxication littered the floor and Liz Parker was no longer a little girl. She heard Maria stir in her sleep and she tip toed over to her bed where she laid down staring at the ceiling.

She did it. Did she regret it?
At first she thought she might but before the night was over she knew it was going to be a night she would never forget. A smile swept across her features as she remembered…

“There is no way I’m going to let you do this” Maria told her.

“Maria, this is not your decision to make!” Liz responded.

“Chica, He’s not worth it”

“Why would you say such a thing? We’ve been going out for three years!”

“Liz, you have been dating Zan for three years, he dated you for a year and then he dated the rest of the student body the other two”

“God, Maria! He has never given me a reason to doubt him,” Liz said avoiding the look her best friend was giving her.

“There is no blinder man that the one that doesn’t want to see.”

“Give me that” Liz said as she grabbed the coke bottle out of her friends hands. “You don’t know what you’re talking about” was her response before pressing her lips to the bottle.

“You’re absolutely right, I don’t know. All I know is what I see. Zan is not it! You might think he is or you might want to convince yourself he is, but he’s not.”

“Maria, I feel like I’m losing him.” Liz whispered, tears filling her eyes. “He used to so attentive, caring. He used to kiss me and it was like the world would stop for us. This last year I have felt him pulling away, distancing himself. Last week we were at Buckley Point and things were getting a little hotter than usual…”

“How hot?” Maria asked with a wide-eyed look that told Liz she wanted details.

“MARIA! I’m serious!”

“Sorry.. “

“Well, we were up at Buckley point” Liz continued, “and I had to stop it before we crossed the line of no return. Zan got so mad… He just flipped. I never had seen him like that. He told me that girls were lined up for blocks to get a piece of him and yet his own girlfriend didn’t want him. Then he said something that shocked me…”

“What?”

“ He asked me if I thought he wasn’t good enough for me? Can you believe that? After three years he thinks that I feel he’s not good enough for me!” Liz said as she took another swig at the bottle of spiked coke.

“Men and their petty insecurity issues! Max and Alex are the same way! All men are!”

“Hey! Max isn’t like that. Hell, he’s never even shown interest in anyone to trigger the insecurity feelings, Alex on the other hand, him and that Isabel issue, had insecurity written all over it”

“Don’t let Max fool you. He is the worse of the whole bunch! He’s wound tighter than a rubber ball and when he lets lose, it’s going to be scary,” Maria said grabbing the bottle out of Liz’s hands and taking a shot. “God, what do you have in this?”

“Coke and some Vodka” Liz responded with a look of indifference

“Vodka is to be mixed with orange juice, not coke!”

“I didn’t have any orange juice! Sue me!”

Maria moved over to sit next to Liz who was on the floor leaning against the foot of her bed.
“Chica, what do you want to do?”

Liz sighed, “I don’t know. I feel I failed him. If he questions my affection, if he doesn’t think I want him, it’s as if I failed him as a girlfriend”

“What a load of crap!”

“You don’t understand Maria.”

“Got that right! Liz, I love you. You’re my bestest girlfriend. I’m going to support you regardless of your decision, but I think you’re making a mistake. I think you re looking for someone else by being with Zan. I think he’s your comfort zone. I think you feel safe with him and for some reason your freaking out at the thought of losing your security blanket before YOU are ready to give it up. Liz, in three months we graduate. Zan is off to UNM, You are off to Harvard. HARVARD, YOU FREAK! Like having Alex across the country at MIT wasn’t enough, I lose you to that retched little state too!” Maria screeched bumping Liz on the shoulder “Anyway, what I was saying is, where do you see this relationship going? Are you going to give up Harvard for him?”

Liz was quiet for a few seconds and then just took another drink of her bottle.

“I didn’t think so” Maria said

“I need to do this Maria. I don’t know why but I feel like I’m losing my best friend” Liz said as she downed another gulp of her drink.

“Wrong brother” Maria responded taking a swig of her own.

Liz looked at her with a quizzical look but said nothing. She had made up her mind, this was going to happen and it was going to happen tonight.


Liz rolled over on her bed grabbing her pillow and nestling it against her body. She had been so scared when she crawled out that window. Even when Zan placed his hands on her that first time she was still unsure, but as he had awakened and realized what was going on, it was as if he was a different Zan.
The way he had touched her and the way he had kissed her…. She had never felt that way. Never had felt so much love. It was a rough start but she expected that being her first, but then his caresses had turned into carefully orchestrated movements just to pleasure her. She could still feel his breath on her neck as he declared his undying love for her.

“Liz… I love you. There will never be another for me, I have loved you since I can remember, it has only been you. I will love you with my last breath”

Liz tried to recall a moment in the last three years that Zan had opened himself up like he had done last night. She couldn’t remember him ever doing it.

The first year of their relationship had been filled w/ awkward moments. She was dating her best friend’s brother. Not only were they brothers but they shared the same face. Liz couldn’t get over how much Zan looked like Max. They were physically identical in everyway except for one. Their eyes. Zan’s eyes were darker than Max’s. The average person would never pickup on the distinction but Liz noticed. Max’s eyes were a golden amber color like a topaz gemstone. His iris was sprinkled with streaks of gold while Zan’s eyes where just not Max’s.

After the first year, things fell into a routine. She would go to all his basketball games and they would go to the movies, the dances and all the other typical events a couple were expected to go. Everyone knew them as a couple and she enjoyed knowing he was there, with her. They never had a clingy relationship like many of her other friends had. She called it a more mature path to couple hood, a more seasoned relationship. They had their passion filled moments discreetly. Zan had wanted more but she had told him that she wasn’t ready to move beyond second base. Not that it deterred him from trying. He was always testing his limits and so she learned to dress more appropriately for their outings. She loved when he touched her but when it became more intimate, when he wanted to move below the waist… it felt wrong. As if she was betraying someone… herself? She would stop it and Zan would concede. She could sense his frustration stirring when school began this year. It was as if he needed to claim her, posses her in another way.

The last six months had been so different for them. She was back spending a lot of her weekends and free time with Max and Maria. Sleepovers and Friday night movies had become almost a ritual for them, as it had been pre-Zan. She didn’t mind it.

Wasn’t that weird? She had thought. She thought that she would miss Zan more. They were still a couple but it was more of an “I’ll squeeze you in at some point” type of relationship. Everyone thought they were solid and secure so they didn’t have to spend every breathing moment with each other. He would always let her know where he would be and he would drop by the crashdown every once in a while to see her. They still went to all the social events together and there was always the nights out at Buckley Point. She knew something was off. She expected more butterflies in her belly when she saw him. She expected more stolen glances. She didn’t want to feel like an old married couple after three years of dating.

She wanted to feel the way she had felt last night. Cherished.

She had heard the door close this morning and had woken up to find Zan’s room empty. Wrapping herself in his sheets she had walked to the door to see were Zan had gone when she heard the front door close. She was disappointed about not waking up wrapped in his arms but the memories of the night sustained her. She had sat on the edge of his bed and lied back, feeling the coolness of the sheets on her body. She had replayed the evening again in her head, every caress, every kiss permanently etched in her mind. She moved her hand across the sheets that covered her bringing the edge to her face so she could inhale his scent one more time. Again she found it different in some way. Liz had thought of waiting for Zan to return but decided against it when she heard the floorboards of the room above Zan’s creek. She had got up and dressed quickly, flinching at the soreness between her thighs. She could still feel his weight on her.
It was 5 am and She needed to get home. She had climbed out the window and made the walk to her house in less than 15 minutes.

Liz felt her bed dip with the weight of Maria joining her. She felt her friend spoon her and wrap her arms around her.

“You did it, didn’t you?” Maria asked already knowing the answer.

Liz just nodded quietly.

“I love you, Chica”

“I love you too, Maria” Liz said “and Maria….”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks!”

TBC~

Updates will be slower to come after this chapter. I'll be posting the next chapter before next weekend and maybe another chapter during the weekend itself.
~S

posted on 2-Oct-2002 2:39:34 PM by starlady
Hi all! I'm back as promised with an update.
I want to thank all of you for your feed back and the votes you have cast for my story it means a lot.

For all those that have commented on Liz... Yes, Liz knows deep down that Zan isn't the one for her but she's in denial. Unfortunately realization won't hit her until the next Chapter which I'm half way through writting.

Keep the feed back coming It helps me shape the story.
Since this is my first Fic I have to double check for continuity and repetivitness so if you find anything wacky please let me know too so I can fix it.

Well... on with Ch 4, Enjoy!

~ Chapter 4 ~

“ Max! Please hurry up, we’re already running late”, Zan yelled from the door.

“And whose fault is that?” Max responded as he walked out the hallway that lead to their rooms.

Zan had arrived not more than half an hour ago and locked himself in the bathroom, making Max wait forever to have access to the shower after his jog. Zan stood there dumbfounded when he first saw Max. “What did you do to yourself?”

“I thought it was time for a change” Max said grabbing his book bag from the floor.

“So you went from this,” Zan said pointing at himself, “ to that!” pointing at Max.

“Fuck off, Zan!” Max replied.

“Watch the mouth, Max!” Diane Evans said as she walked into the room her two sons occupied.

“Sorry, Mom” Max said avoiding her look while trying to get out the door.

“Hold on a minute, Max” Diane said stopping a retreating Max in his tracks. “Let me see.”

Max turned around to face his mother. Diane looked him over, taking his chin in her hand and moving it from left to right. “I must say that the clean shave suits you but the haircut… Who did that to you? It’s terrible! I’ll call Jose from Stella’s shop to see how he can fix it. Come straight home from school so we can go this afternoon. Saturday the salon is always very busy so best get it over today.”

“It’s okay Mom, It’ll grow out” Max replied trying to get out of what was sure to become a bonding expedition between him and his Mother. She would do that every time his Dad would go on one of his business trips. They had been able to scurry around the last few but Max doubted he would be able to get out of this one. His Dad had left earlier this morning to Santa Fe and wouldn’t be back until tomorrow afternoon so Max was surely doomed.

“No, you need that fixed” was Diane’s response. “I’ll expect you here early.”

“But…”

“No, buts! Get here early”

“Don’t worry Mom, I’ll remind him” Zan said with a smirk on his face while dragging Max out the door.

“Thank you, Zan. Now, have a good day in school you two.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Liz arrived at school with just a few minutes to spare before homeroom. Maria following in step behind her, looked around to see if she could find Max. He was nowhere to be found. Throwing their stuff into their lockers and grabbing their books for first period they headed out to homeroom.

“Wonder where Max is? He’s never late.” Liz asked Maria while they walked into the classroom.

“He didn’t say anything to me when I spoke to him last night” Maria responded.

Taking their seats in the back they waited to finish hearing the daily announcements before heading to their first class.

Max ran into the school knowing he had missed homeroom. Not that he minded it much. This meant he wouldn’t have to actually interact with Liz until their Physics AP class. They had been science partners forever, and it seems the teachers knew they worked well together because year after year they had been paired together. He just hoped that the teacher had planned a lecture for today reducing the amount of allowed interaction with Liz.

Max signed the late roster and grabbed a tardy slip before racing down the hallway to his US government class.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The day had been uneventful thus far, yet the moment of truth was just around the corner. Literally. Max leaned against the wall around the corner to the door that lead to his Physics AP class. He was hoping to squeeze into the class just as the door was closing after the bell rang. There he stood with his books in his hands, his eyes staring at the water stain that adorned the ceiling over the lockers in front of him.

‘What are you doing?’ He asked himself, ‘you can’t avoid her forever. She’s your best friend! Suck it up! You can do this!’. Rallying all his wits and taking a deep breath he turned the corner just as the bell rang and Mr. Pedrosa went to grab the doorknob to close the door.

Max slipped into clss and with his eyes downcast he walked straight to his seat. He grabbed his notebook and pencil as he heard the teacher begin his lecture. ‘Thank God!’ He thought, ‘lecture day.’

Max continued to shuffle his book and notebook around, trying to ignore the undistinguishable scent that was Liz, when he felt her touch his hand and lean into him.

“Max, Where have you been? Are you Okay?” Liz whispered in his ear..

Max’s head snapped in her direction and he stumbled off his stool when he realized their faces were merely a few inches apart. He scrambled to catch the stool before it hit the ground but he could barely feel his extremities. His legs shook as he took a few steps back grabbing onto the table in back of him for leverage. He stared at her, her eyes full of concern as she grabbed his arm to support him. Her touch burning his skin.

“Max! Are you Okay?” He thought he heard her say but all he could see, hear, sense was her touch and the movement of her lips. The same lips that had covered him with love the night before, the same touch that had caressed his body the night before. He closed his eyes and shook his head vigorously forcing those thoughts out.

“Mr. Evans! Mr. Evans!”

This time he heard his teacher.

“Mr. Evans! Are you alright?”

Max lifted his head to see all eyes in him.

“yeah” he said regaining his composure.

“Would you like to go to the nurses office? You look somewhat pale.” Mr. Pedrosa prompted.

“N.. No, that won’t be necessary. I… I’m fine. Thank you” Max responded as he bent down to straighten his stool and pick up his notebook.

“Okay then, let’s move on.”

Max ventured to look at Liz when he sat down; concern was etched over her features. He took a deep breath and reached over to cover her hand with his.

“I’m okay, really” He softly assured her.

Liz looked at him carefully. Something was definitely not all right and she knew it! She placed her hand over his and held him tight; as if she let go he would run away. She looked at his hair and his clean-shaven features and she knew something happened. By the reaction he had a few minutes ago she could only think it was not a good thing. They shared lunch period after class. She would talk to him then. Slowly releasing his hand, she looked at him again. He smiled at her, trying to reassure her but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. All she saw reflected there was such sorrow it floored her.

Max could feel the muscles in his arms tense when she placed her hand over the hand that cradled hers. He knew she was analyzing him. She knew him like the back of her hand. He felt the smile display across his lips and tried his best to look the part. She loosened her hold on him and he saw her nod at him.

“We’ll talk later” he heard her say and he knew it was going to be a long day.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~**~*~*~

The bell rang signaling lunch period and Max was making a mad dash out the door to avoid having to talk to Liz. Liz on the other hand had another idea. Grabbing the end of his t-shirt she held him in place before he got out of her reach.

“And where do you think you’re off to?” she asked him with a look that said there was no way in hell he was getting away.

Max sighed and said “I need to make a pit stop before lunch. You know, bladders are just not as efficient as they use to be. I’ll meet you out in the courtyard”

Liz looked him over knowing he was lying. “I better see your face out there, Max. If not I’ll hunt you down. Remember we have English last period. There is no escape”.

“I swear Liz, just going to the bathroom and my locker before I head out” Max hoped that the little detour would buy him enough time so that Maria would reach the courtyard and he could avoid being with Liz alone. Zan never ate lunch with them so he knew Liz would be joining them for lunch as usual. Liz let go of Max and he rushed out of the classroom.

Liz stared at Max’s retreating figure and knew she had to figure out what was bothering her best friend.

Walking out of class, Liz caught a glimpse of Zan. Her stomach fluttered as the thoughts of last night came surging forward. He was standing against the lockers surrounded by his friends, all donning the exact same letterman jackets. ‘Talk about cults!’ Liz thought smiling to herself. The group of boys were horsing around, doing their best to get into trouble before the week ended. Liz stood there waiting for Zan to acknowledge her and come over. She was hoping to spend sometime with him during lunch. Maybe talk about last night. She wanted to see if things really had changed between them. She thought it would. Last night had been different. Zan had let her see a part of who he was. A part she knew existed but had never been able to see in him. She wanted to talk to him, to get to know this new side of Zan. A part of him that was so familiar but so new to their relationship. Zan never came. He looked over at her and waved in her direction before slinging his arm across Tom Donovan’s shoulders to drag the boy out to the field where he usually had lunch with his friends and followers, which is what Liz called the slew of cheerleaders that followed Zan around like little puppy dogs waiting for a bone to be thrown their way.

Liz looked down at the ground, her brow furrowed in confusion, ‘What is it with these Evan men!’ To say she was hurt by Zan’s indifference was an understatement. Zan was acting as if nothing had happened between them and she didn’t understand why. She knew that his words of love last night were true. She had felt it in every kiss he placed on her, in every caress he had given her. Every movement he had made screamed his love for her, yet here he was acting like the typical Zan she had known the last three years.

Liz lifted her head and stared at the door Zan had just exited, then she looked at the hallway that lead to the boy’s bathroom. Shaking her head she made her way to the cafeteria.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When Liz finally arrived at the courtyard, Max was already there seated at their usual table with Maria hoisted on his knee. Liz smiled at her two friends banter and headed to the table with her lunch tray.

“Liz! Check out the new creation of our friend Edward Scissorhands!” Maria yelled while tugging at Max’s locks.

Max looked at Liz and smiled. Having spied Liz in the cafeteria line purchasing her lunch, he had made a bee line to the courtyard, relieved to find Maria already at their usual table.

“At first I thought a lawnmower had swallowed him and spit him out but our Maxie here admitted it was his own personal creation!” Maria continued.

Liz put down her tray next to Max and stood staring at him. Placing her hand on his head she grabbed his short hair and pulled back to see his face. Looking into his golden eyes, she smiled at him and said quietly “It’s nice to see YOU again, Max”

He smiled back shyly and said “It was just time”.

Maria looked at her friends, as they got lost in their own little world. She shook her head, ‘When are these two going to get a clue?’ she thought. “Okay Guys! Enough!”

Liz and Max looked at her and the both broke into laughter. Liz let go of Max’s hair and sat next to him.

“So, you were feeling creative last night, Max?” Liz asked peeling back the cover of her yogurt.

“You can say that” he responded with a far off look in his eyes that didn’t go un-noticed by Liz.

“Well honey, I think you need to keep your day job because you mangled your hair. What were you thinking? If you wanted a cut you should have told me when we spoke last night. I could have dropped by before going to Lizzie’s and taken care of it for you. I could have done a better job with my eyes closed!” Maria told Max as she flicked at his hair.

“First off, that didn’t sound right at all and second I want to thank you because I know I can always count on you for that confidence booster” Max replied swatting Maria’s hands off his head. “Mom had the same reaction. She made me promise to get it fixed by a professional today”

“Good” was all that Liz said as she continued eating her lunch. She wasn’t looking at him but she felt when he turned to look at her and she smiled.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Lunch period was almost over when Zan arrived. Sitting next to Liz, straddling the bench she sat on, he pulled her close to him and kissed her on the cheek. Liz smiled at him.

“Sweets, are we doing something tomorrow?” Zan asked her.

“Hello to you too Mr. Personality” Maria snarled, staring at Zan. “There are other people here you know. People who were conversing before you rudely interrupted!”

“Oh, yeah. Hey Maria” Zan spit out before turning back to Liz, “I was thinking we could go out and talk”

Liz turned to face Zan, “I was hoping we could do that today,” pulling a little closer and in a more hushed tone she added, “we really need to talk about last night.”

Liz saw Zan tense but she didn’t notice Max take the same stance behind her.

All Max was thinking was ‘she’s going to find out’. She was going to realize that it wasn’t Zan she slept with last night and then she would never look at him in the same way again. She would never forgive him! He needed to stop her from finding out through Zan. If Zan found out it would completely humiliate her, it would destroy her relationship with his brother and as much as Max would give anything for that to happen, he didn’t want to be the cause of her losing the love of her life. Max thought of the irony in the situation. All this time he had been waiting for his brother to crush Liz’s heart and it would be him that would have the honors. God, could this be more complicated!

Zan looked at Liz and wondered if she knew about the party at the Soap Factory last night. He had a few drinks and before the night was over he had gotten to know Page Stevens a little more than he had hoped to. Yeah he had gone out there to get exactly what he got, but today, he was feeling like shit.

“Sorry Babe” Max heard Zan tell Liz “I got plans tonight. I’m headed with Tom and some of the guys to Carlsbad. Tom’s sister is having a get together and Tom is dragging all of us down there.”

“Zan, I really need to talk to you. Can we meet after school?”

“Baby, Mom has this bonding thing planned this afternoon. Dad had to go out of town on business and won’t be back until tomorrow so she’s all maternal and stuff; right Max?”

Max turned to look at his brother. Liz looked at him with a questioning gaze while Zan’s eyes pleaded for some backup. If he backed up Zan’s story it would give him time to talk to Liz before she said anything to Zan about last night but he hated to lie to her.

“Mom’s a bit clingy today Liz. She wouldn’t even let me go on my own to get my hair fixed. She hasn’t taken me to get a haircut since I was 11.” Liz nodded, she believed him. Why wouldn’t she? He never lied to her and even now he hadn’t really lied to her. He hated this! “I gotta go” Max said standing from his seat and heading towards the school.

“Wait up!” Max heard Zan call out to him. “Baby, I’ll call you tomorrow morning so we can make plans, okay?” Kissing Liz on the cheek Zan got up and raced after his brother.

“Zan!” Liz shouted giving it a last ditch effort

“I promise, tomorrow!” Zan yelled out.

Liz sighed watching Zan and Max go into the school when she felt Maria’s arm wrap around her shoulder.

“Men!” She said.
“Yeah” Liz said.



Zan put his arm around Max’s shoulder. ”Thanks Man.” He said

“I didn’t do it for you” Max replied dumping his garbage in the nearest trash bin.

“I know, but thanks anyway. Do you have a minute?” Zan asked

“Not really, I need to get some stuff out of my locker before next period”

“Only a minute” Zan said pulling Max down the hallway and into the closest empty room, which happened to be the band room.

“What is it Zan? I really have things to do!” Max said to his brother while pulling out of Zan’s grasp.

“I’m letting go, Max” Zan said looking at his brother.

“What are you talking about?” Max asked turning around to face his brother while wondering what the hell he was talking about.

“I’m breaking it off with Liz” Zan responded

“WHAT?”

“I just wanted you to know before it happened. You were right last night. Liz is special and deserves a lot better than I give her. Liz and I…” Zan paused searching for the right words “we’ve been suffering from an identity crisis”.

Max shook his head in denial and passed his hand through his hair. Trying to make sense of this conversation was getting more difficult with every minute that passed. “I don’t understand…”

“Liz has been confusing me with someone I’m not and I’ve been pretending to be that someone in her eyes. I was being honest last night. I do care for her but I can’t do it anymore. This morning when I saw that you had let go of me, I realized I had to do the same. No more pretending to be who I’m not. She’s going to need your support, Max. I know I don’t have to ask you to be there for her because that’s just part of who you are but I thought I would let you know what’s coming. She thinks she loves me.”

“No, Zan. She does love you” Max replied recalling her words last night.

“I love you too, Zan"

“No, Max! Haven’t you been listening to me?” Zan said as he started to pace the darkened classroom, “She doesn’t love me because she doesn’t know me. I’ve spent so much time trying to be who I wasn’t; I never gave her a chance to know who I was. You made it so easy for me. Every time I would change my appearance you would too. You just kept feeding the illusion. I thought for sure that you would stop doing it when I dyed my hair last year but there you were, not two weeks later, with the blue streaks in your hair. Do you know how much I hated having to dye my hair!”

Zan moved closer to the doors that lead to the hallway before turning again to face Max. “Something happened to you last night, I don’t know what it was but it made you wake up. You realized you had to stop pretending to be me. It’s time for me too. I need to stop pretending to be you, Max” Opening the classroom door, Zan looked at the ground in front of him and continued, “Tonight. The trip to Carlsbad. It’s true. Tom’s sister is 33 and has two kids. It’s a family thing but Tom didn’t want to go alone so he’s taking three of us with him. Things are gonna change, I’m gonna change, Max. Liz needs a chance to do her thing too” Looking at Max again, Zan said “Take care of her Max” and with that he walked out of the room leaving a very confused Max to make sense of their conversation.

‘What the hell was Zan talking about?’ Max knew that Zan must have been screwing with his head. Why else would Zan say he had been pretending to be him? Zan was always the outgoing one, the one that won all the competitions, had all the girls and all the praise from their friends. Why would Zan pretend to be HIM? Max heard the bell ring and lifted his head to look at the clock that rested on the wall. “Shit, now I’m late”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~**~*~

The rest of the day passed in a haze. Max thought he would never get Zan’s words out of his head. That was until he saw Liz in English class and thoughts of having to tell her the truth about last night invaded his mind. At one point he had almost convinced himself into not telling her. Zan was breaking up with her after all. That would reduce the pillow talk between them. She would be less likely to reminisce over past sexual encounters and therefore it would reduce the chance of Zan pointing out that last night’s encounter, was not with him. Max knew he had to tell her. He most likely would lose her forever but he had to tell her the truth. He only hoped she would eventually forgive him, and not let his confession of love, bring up a wall between them.

The last bell of the day rang and Max picked up his books, walking over to Liz.

“Liz…”

Liz lifted her eyes from where she had been packing her notebook in her bag, “Ready for your parental bonding day?” She asked flashing him a smile that just melted Max’s resolve.

Gathering the little strength he had left, Max took a deep breath and said “ I need to talk to you about something”

Liz tilted her head to the side to look at Max a little better. His stance was all wrong and he was fidgeting. ‘Something’s not right’ she thought. “Does this have to do with what happened in Physics this morning?”
“Yeah, it does.”

“You want to drop by tonight?”

“No! I mean… Can we talk over breakfast? I have something to do tonight” ‘Like find myself a backbone’ Max thought.

“Hot Date?” Liz teased trying to lighten the enormous amount of tension in the air.

“Wouldn’t you love to know!” Max replied taking her cue
“I start my shift at 10, so if you want to drop by for breakfast I’ll be free” Liz said hoisting her bag over her shoulder.

“Sounds good” Max started to lead them out to the hallway before turning to look at Liz again, “I’ve got to go. Mom said she wanted me home early. I’ll see you tomorrow”

“Okay” Liz was happy that Max had approached her to talk about what ever was bugging him. She was relieved that she wasn’t going to have to pester him to confide in her. Liz knew Max didn’t tell her everything he held in that head of his but if it was important, Max would always talk to her. Recalling this morning’s incident, his behavior through out the day and to top it off his dabbling in the fine arts of grooming, she knew something was bothering him. And it was really important!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Max returned home with his mother around 8:30 that evening under a torrential rain. Zan had left a note for his Mom, letting her know that he would be home late since the ride to Carlsbad was about 2 hours and he didn’t know at what time the event would end.

Max and Diane popped some popcorn and settled on the couch in the family room to watch Diane’s favorite movie, Pride and Prejudice. Max had agreed to sit through the lengthy film because he knew his mind wouldn’t be on the movie regardless what movie they picked to see.

Max kept watching the time tick by. Every second bringing him closer to his meeting with Liz. He had no idea what to say to her. ‘Hey Liz, Remember Thursday night when you thought you were making love to your boyfriend? Well you weren’t really having sex with him. It was me, his evil twin, who took advantage of the situation and fucked you senseless.’ Max shook his head, ‘You’re pathetic, Evans!’ His mind had played out so many scenarios; he had lost track of how many ways Liz could walk out of his life forever. All he wanted to do was to go up to her and tell her it had been him. That he meant every word he had told her that night. That he would always regret hurting her but never regret loving her. He wanted to tell her that, that night had been the single most treasured moment in his life. That he would always remember the way she had felt, the way she had tasted, and the way she had looked at him. He knew there was no way he could go on living the way they had. He would never get over her.

When his mind decided to re-inhabit his body he realized it was almost 3 in the morning. Max got off the floor and looked at his mom who had fallen asleep on the couch. Taking the throw that rested on the back of the couch, he covered her before heading to his own room. When he reached hallway he heard the doorbell ring. He stood there for a moment thinking that he probably imagined it when he heard it again. This time followed by an insistent knock.

Max walked briskly to the door to see who could be knocking at this ungodly hour. Opening the door he found himself face to face with Deputy Hanson.

“Son, are your parents home?”

“My Dad’s out of town but my Mom’s here. She’s asleep. Can I help you?” Max asked looking at the flashing lights of the squad car parked in the driveway. The rain made the red lights flicker more brightly than usual.

“I need to talk to your mother” was Hanson’s response.

“Max? Who is it?” Max heard his mother ask from behind him, he turned to see her walking into the foyer still wrapped in the throw he had placed on her just moments ago.

“It’s the deputy” he answered turning back to face Hanson.

“Ma’am, There’s been an accident.”

TBC.....

Next.. Dealing with death in the family and Liz's reaction to the news. I'll probably post Saturday but for sure by Sunday
posted on 5-Oct-2002 6:15:16 AM by starlady
Thanks again for all the feedack.
I love that you all felt something other than hatred toward Zan. I liked Zan, I wanted him to appear sympathetic and based on your feed back I accomplished that. Thanks for letting me know.

I broke the next part in two because I think they deal with seperate issues, so this next part is short. I'll post 5b after I finish typing it.

Enjoy!
~S


~ Chapter 5a ~

The alarm blared in her ear. She wanted to kick herself for forgetting to turn it off before going to bed last night. Liz stretched her arm over to her nightstand banging the off button, silence, once again, enveloped the room. Liz slowly opened one eye to peek a look at the time. She knew exactly what time it was. The alarm had been going off at the same time for years, yet she had to look to convince herself that she had just woken up at 6 in the morning on a Saturday.

‘This is ridiculous!’ she thought.

Pushing the sheets off of her, she crawled out of bed. ‘I guess I have plenty of time to get ready for my meeting with Max’.

Opening her closet she looked at her wardrobe. ‘I need to get myself something new!’ she thought. Her closet was full of winter clothes. Roswell was not much of a seasonal town. You had two seasons. Hot and not so Hot. The not so hot season was on it’s way out and it was days like today, when at 6am you already were feeling warm, that you knew it was time to pull out the tank tops and shorts. Liz pulled out a pair of Cargo pants from her closet. They were comfortable. They fit loose and fell to her hips, which meant that there would be some air circulating even with them on. She then grabbed a small cotton tank top. It had thin straps and a row of small buttons adorned its front as well as some very pretty embroidery. The blouse reached her waistline and it’s princess cut was exactly what the weather called for. The blouse gathered under her small breast and then bellowed out making her feel like she could fly. It was her favorite blouse. She had worn it so many times the embroidery was faded and the cotton was very worn. She smiled as she laid her outfit out on her bed. Pulling out her boots, she completed her ensemble before closing her closet.

Liz grabbed a robe and her underwear before scurrying into the bathroom. She was in for a long day. First her talk with Max and then, another pending conversation with Zan, squeeze in a 6 hour shift at her parents restaurant and the day had exhaustion written all over it. She knew what her conversation with Zan would be about but she was concerned about her meeting with Max. She had no idea what was waiting for her when he showed up. He seemed so closed off yesterday. He had avoided her most of the morning and then the little scene in physics… She knew something big was bothering him and she just hoped she had the right advice or even the right words to alleviate some of his burden. He was always there for her, listening to her rant about everything and, although she loved Maria tons, Max’s advice always seemed more grounded.

Liz laughed at the thought of some of the advice she had received from Maria. Her favorite advice to give was always “Let’s kick their ass”
When they were in third grade, Liz complained ‘Sherry Mckalister is making faces at me, Maria’, Maria’s advice ‘Let’s kick her ass!’

When they were in seventh grade, Liz complained ‘Mr. Shwartz gave me a C on my project!’, Maria’s advice ‘Let’s kick his ass!’, by then Max had become part of their circle and he had suggested a better approach “Let’s work together on the next one”

When in eighth grade, Liz had complained ‘The nurse ran out of sanitary napkins’, Maria’s suggestion ‘Let’s kick her ass!’, Max’s comment ‘Do I really have to hear about this? Go to the store and get some!’

When in ninth grade, Liz had complained ‘Peter Cohen had the nerve to ask me out!’, Maria’s response had been ‘Let’s kick his ass!’, Max’s response, ‘Let’s kick his ass!’
Well… Max wasn’t always full of great ideas! Liz shook her head at her friend’s antics. They were always there for her and she would be there for them too.

Liz stepped into the shower and let the water relax her. Wetting her hair she kept thinking about her meeting with Max. She hoped that this episode Max was going through was not as big as she thought it was but all the signs told her she was right on the dime with this one.

Suddenly Liz saw the shower curtain open and a hand turn off the water before having a towel thrown in her face. Covering her body instinctively, she looked at the intruder.

“Get dressed, there’s been an accident”

There in the middle of her bathroom stood Maria, still in her pajamas. Her face was red and blotchy and her eyes were swollen. Liz felt panic take hold of her.

“What are you talking about” Liz asked while stepping out of the shower wrapping the towel around her body.

“This morning, M... Mom heard it from Sheriff Valenti” Maria was taking deep breaths as if the thought of what she was saying was suffocating her, “Accident, Jus... Just out of town, fatal, two boys” Tears streaming down her face she looked directly at Liz “One was an Evans”

Liz pushed Maria out of the doorway that lead to her room. Grabbing the pants and shirt she had laid out earlier she threw them on her naked body.

Maria was rambling between her sobs. “I couldn’t go there alone, Liz. I didn’t know what I would find. I don’t know if it was him” Maria was falling apart.

Liz grabbed her boots and the keys Maria held in her hands before running out of the room. Her mind just registered two parts of Maria’s story, 'fatal' and 'one was an Evans'.

Five minutes later Liz stopped the Jetta in front of the Evan’s house. She jumped out of the car leaving the door open behind her. Not wanting to stop to put on the boots she had brought, Liz could hear her bare feet slapping the wet concrete of the driveway as she ran to the door of the house, Maria just a few steps behind her.
The door had been slightly opened when Liz burst through it, running into what seemed like an empty house. She ran through the hallway that lead to Max’s room, to find the room empty. Holding onto the doorframe while she surveyed the empty room she felt her world tumbling into darkness. Maria ran up behind her peering over Liz’s shoulder she gasped and said “Oh God, Liz…”
Pushing herself off the doorframe, Liz shoved Maria out of the way as she ran back through the house. ‘This isn’t real, this isn’t happening!’ she thought as she ran up the stairs to Diane and Philip’s bedroom. Turning the corner of the stairs she stopped dead in her tracks.

He sat on the floor leaning against the side of the closed door like a sentry on guard. His arms propped on his knees. His shirt clenched in one of his hands, he wore a pair of gray sweats and his tattered jogging sneakers. His face hidden within the circle his arms formed. He looked like he had just come home from an exhausting jog and was just resting.
Liz let go of the breath she had been holding. Closing the distance between them, she slid to the ground in front of him. She slowly pried his arms apart so she could move closer to him. He let her open his arms and she scooted between his legs. Placing her hands on either side of his face she lifted his head to look at him.

Her eyes devoured him. She swept her hands across his cheeks, his eyes, his ears. Supporting his head with one of her hands she let the other tunnel through his short hair and finally she broke down. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and hugged him to her; she pressed her hands on his bare back trying to grab onto him, trying to bring him into her. All the possibilities of losing him crashed into her and she sobbed uncontrollably. She pushed him back and looked at him again. She could barely see him, her eyes clouded with her tears. She caressed his face, kissed his forehead and then pulled him back into her arms where she pressed against him like he would vanish if she let go.

She felt his arms slowly move around her waist and latch onto the small fabric of her blouse. He needed to hold onto her too. With the fabric of her blouse scrunched in his fist he pressed her to him, burying his face in the nook of her neck, he trembled against her as sobs wracked his body.

“I had to go down there, Liz” He said, his voice hoarse and low “Dad, he wasn’t here”
Max’s body shaked more vigorously with every word he said, “I couldn’t let her do it… I’m the man of the house… I had to do it… He was just… just lying there… There was so much blood on him… I couldn’t make out his features”

Liz felt Max tense and she enfolded him closer in her embrace. His fists were white as he grabbed her blouse tighter making small tears in the worn fabric with his fingers.

“The scar!” Max said as if it was a revelation. Pushing Liz at arms length he searched her face looking for some type of recognition to the statement. “You know, the scar from when he fell on the fence while playing basketball with me when we were eight… I saw it, Liz… It was there on his shoulder”

Liz held onto his shoulders looking at his tear stained face. She pushed his hair back waiting for him to continue. She heard Maria’s sobs from behind her but her focus was on Max. She felt his arms slack from where he had held her shoulders and she pressed herself against him again not willing to escape his warmth just yet. Warmth that told her that Max was alive.

“H… He’s gone, Liz” Max said burying his face against Liz’s neck “He’s gone”

It hit her at that moment. It finally hit her. From the moment Maria had told her about the accident, all she had thought of was losing Max. How she wouldn’t see his golden eyes again. How he wouldn’t climb up the ladder to her balcony anymore. How he would never smile at her or laugh with her. How she would never feel his arm draped over her shoulder. How there would be no more sneaking him into her room when they had a girlfriends sleepover. How she would never look over her shoulder to find him looking at her. All she thought of was how her heart was being ripped out of her chest leaving her so hallow and so cold. How for a moment, when she had seen his empty room she felt she had died a million times over.

When she found him she felt her chest implode, a cry of relief struggled to free itself from her body and all she thought of was touching him. Making sure he was not a figment of her imagination. She had sobbed at the thought of what could have been but then her tears had been of joy. Tears of happiness. Happiness of having Max in her arms, alive. She had not thought of Zan once. Even as Max spoke to her, she felt removed from what he was saying.

“Oh god, forgive me!” She choked out, lifting her eyes to the heavens above. Zan was dead and all she had thought was ‘thank god it wasn’t Max’

TBC...

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 5-Oct-2002 6:16:20 AM ]
posted on 10-Oct-2002 10:19:32 AM by starlady
Hey guys!

Sorry it's taking so long. I hope to get the next part out this weekend. I typed it but I still have some reservations over it so I'm mulling over it a bit.

I also need to have my daughter read it (she is my PG-13 beta reader... she only reads the non nc-17 parts). She doesn't like roswell FF but she writes FF for anime. She checks for syntax errors and gramatical errors but doesn't help with plot movement at all. So I'm left wondering if this is moving where I want it to go.

The next part is slow but we see Liz dealing w/ her feelings at the end of the chapter.

So, stay with me and I promise to get it posted ASAP.

~S

posted on 12-Oct-2002 9:53:54 AM by starlady
Hey guys, I'm back with a new part. Sorry it took so long, I'm still not too happy with the end of this chapter but I think I just need to post and get it over with. I'm hoping the next part will make up for this horrible part.

We're just a chapter away from flying into the future so enjoy the ride.

I want to thank Eccentric One (I'm sure you wil guess the reason now, but there will be aomething else that will push her way further), Flora, Transparent Clear, marteloise, Shelly 2, Becca1974, roswellluver, Nettygirl, aZNroSweLl anglgrl, JaneLane, narly21, Strawbehrry Shortcake, sarahdreamer, DreamerKitten, SansuCry (Big Thanks for the Bump!), TrueLoveConquersAll (You're going to have to read on to find out!*wink* ), SilverDreams, mpls muse, TeanHoney, Deejonaise and brianna.

Thanks also for all that have rated my story so well.
Welcome to all the new readers and with that.... on with the next part!

~ Chapter 5b ~

Max sat on the floor leaning against the wall that faced Zan’s bed. His brother’s stereo playing the tunes on Counting Crows Angels of Silence

~ Well I guess you left me with some feathers in my hand
Did it make it any easier to leave me where I stand?
I guess there might not be too many who would stand beside you now
Where'd you come from? Where am I going?
Why'd you leave me 'til I'm only good for... ~


After the service, the visitors started to dwindle and Phillip had not needed him to be around so much so he had found himself seeking refuge in the room. For the last two days, he would sit in the same place for hours trying to make sense of what this all meant. Thinking that he could find the meaning of life if he could just find the meaning of his brother’s death. In his hands, he fiddled with the jacket of the CD that was playing. Funny how even though they had distanced themselves the last two years they still found solace in the same music. He listened to the song and although the rhythm was upbeat the words were just like most of their songs; a tad bit sad.

~ waiting for you
All my sins...
I said that I would pay for them if I could come back to you
All my innocence is wasted on the dead and dreaming ~


Max had shared his room with Zan all his life, until Isabel went off to college. The bunk beds were dismantled and Max moved in to his sister’s old room. He remembered how he had approached his parents insisting he needed his own space and that no 16 year old would be caught dead sleeping in a bunk bed. Gone were the days when they would huddle into the lower bunk with their action figures to play at the glow of the flashlight. The mornings would always greet him with either Superman or Spiderman hanging from the links of the top bunk. Usually dangling from their shoelaces. Sometimes they would stuff the edge of their sheets under the top bunk making an impromptu tent giving the illusion of a campout. They would then convince Phillip to sit out side the ‘tent’ with figures, which would reflect against the sheets and make it more ‘real’.

~ Every night these silhouettes appear above my head
Little angels of the silences that climb into my bed and whisper
every time I fall asleep every time I dream
"Did you come? Would you lie?
Why'd you leave us 'til we're only good for... ~


Those days were long gone. Zan had discovered his prowess in the basketball court and the friendships he made on the team eventually took it’s toll on his relationship with Max. Then there was the ‘Liz’ thing. Another good reason to get out of sharing living quarters with his brother. That first year had been a nightmare. Zan would constantly ask Max all sorts of questions about Liz’s likes and dislikes. Max was about to die when his parents finally gave in and let him move out of the room.

~ Waiting for you"
All my sins...
I said that I would pay for them if I could come back to you
All my innocence is wasted on the dead and dreaming ~


Max looked at the jacket of the CD again. Even with the ‘Liz’ thing between them, Zan had been a good brother to Max. He recalled how 8 months ago Counting Crows had come to play at a charity event a few towns over. Tickets had sold out within the first half hour of the sale. Max remembered how Zan had gotten a pair two days before the show. He could’ve taken anyone but he had come to Max’s room that night, tickets in one hand and Max’s jacket in the other; throwing Max the jacket he had said “Com’ on bro! We have a date with darkness!” Max later found out Zan had paid triple the face value for each ticket.

~ I dream of Michelangelo when I'm lying in my bed
Little angels hang above my head and read me like an open book
Suck my blood, break my nerve offer me their arms
Well, I will not be an enemy of anything
I'll only stand here ~


Max pressed the plastic to his forehead; closing his eyes he let a tear slip down his face. Max heard the door of the room open and he quickly composed himself wiping the tears off his face with the back of his hand.
Looking up to see who it was, he saw his sister closing the door behind her before walking over to him. She slid to the floor next to him.

“I thought I would find you here” she said

Max smiled at her as she leaned her head on his shoulder. They sat in silence while another song started playing in the background.

“I miss him” She finally said.

“I know. Me too.” Max replied

“Do you think it will always feel this way?”

“I don’t know. I hope not.”

“I was thinking I should move back home”

“Don’t”

Isabel smiled at Max’s quick response. “I can feel the love Max”

“Izzy, I don’t know how to explain it but I think things should go back to normal sooner than later” Max said before a shroud of silence fell across the room again. A few minutes later he continued. “I was thinking about going back to school on Thursday to get things going but in my case I think it’s best to wait until Monday... It’ll give people more time to detach.”

Isabel lifted her head to look at her brother “Detach?” she questioned.

“Haven’t you seen the way Mom looks at me? Zan’s friends have the same look. As if they can find him, if they stare at me long enough. Detach. Cut the attachment they seemed to have made between me and Zan.”

“Oh, Max! I’m sorry, I never thought…”

“ ’cause you don’t do it.” Max interrupted “Dad doesn’t either. I’m so happy I changed my looks before all this happened. It’ll make it easier on everyone”

“How about for you, Max?” Isabel asked having heard the undercurrent of distress in Max’s statement.

“Zan was my brother, my twin. He’ll always be a part of me like he will for you. Remember last week when you told me I had to stop pretending to be him? I did. Zan noticed. He told me he was happy I did. He said he was going to change too. I let go of him before I lost him, Iz. I just wish other people would see that.”

Isabel tightened her hold on his arm, acknowledging what he said. Silence enveloped the room once again. A few minutes later Isabel said “Maria called agin.”

“I know, I heard Dad talking to her.”

“Are you going to call her back?”

“Tomorrow”

“She wants to be there for you.”

“I know”

“Let her do this for you, Max”

“It’s more complicated than that, Iz.”

“Tell Me”

“With Maria, comes Liz. It’s a package deal and I’m not ready to face her yet. It would hurt too much to see that look in her eyes too. I just can’t do it yet.” Max choked out while lowering his head to try to regain some composure.

He tried not to think of Liz since the day of the accident. Liz had been with him until his father arrived that morning but he didn’t remember much of her time there. He had been so out of it that he literally thought the world had stopped on its axis and time had stood still. He remembered that Maria and Liz had held his hands while he had recounted the tale to his father and then Philip had taken a dazed Max into his room and had him lie down. When he awoke Liz and Maria had left. He hadn’t seen them again until the funeral service and he had avoided them. He had let this ordeal sink in but there was just so many more issues that complicated the situation that he could not deal with all of these things at once.

The room had darkened significantly with sunset. The dials of the stereo illuminated the space just enough to cast an eerie glow to the furniture. Philip opened the door to the room and found his children on the floor. “Hey there” he said walking in and sitting across them on Zan’s bed. “I thought I would order a pizza. I’m getting tired of the casseroles everyone brought during the wake. What do you think?”

“Sounds good” Max and Iz responded.

“Good”

As Philip got up Max asked, “How’s she doing?”

Philip turned to look at his son, “The same. It’ll take some time Max.”

Max nodded in acceptance to his father’s words. Philip moved closer to Max and kneeled in front of his children.
Putting a hand on Max’s knee he spoke, “Max, you and your brother were a blessing to us, as was Isabel” he said caressing his daughter’s cheek. “Children fill your heart with such love… you never think you have the capacity to feel so much until you have them, hold them. You put all your hopes and dreams in them. You stop living for yourself and start living for them…. It’s not natural to lose a child. You always expect they will be the ones burying you. When something like this happens, the love you had for that child remains in your heart but you lose all those hopes and dreams you had put in them. You lose all the memories you could have made and there is this hollowness that nothing else can fill… It’s quite overwhelming to feel that emptiness…”

Philip’s voice had trailed off as if in reflection. Max placed his hand over his father’s acknowledging Philip’s own pain. He was brought back from his reverie and continued, “It’s going to take her sometime before she starts to fell again. Be patient”

Max nodded and Philip pulled his children into a hug. Kissing both of them on the head he said “I love you, both of you. You and your mother are the reason I get out of bed in the morning.”

Releasing them from his embrace, Philip got up and left letting the room fill with the sounds of Counting Crows A Long December.

~*~*~*~*~

Maria walked into the dark room and found it empty. Walking to the window that led out to the balcony she saw the petite silhouette huddled on the lounge chair, illuminated by the few candles that were lit around her. Maria opened the window and crawled out onto the balcony. Liz didn’t move. Pulling a lawn chair over, Maria sat across from Liz.

“Did you call him?” she asked

Liz didn’t look at Maria but acknowledged her question when she responded, “I don’t know what to say to him”

“Anything would be better than silence”

“I know, I just… I don’t know why I feel this way… I feel so… so dirty”

“What are you talking about?” Maria asked trying to make sense out of her friends emotions

“I feel… I feel like a hypocrite…. Why don’t I feel loss?” Liz sat up in her chair and finally looked at Maria. “Three years! Three years I was with him and just last week… last week I gave myself to him! Why? Why don’t I feel loss? Yeah, I’m sorry he died, but that’s not what I’m supposed to feel. I know that’s not what I’m supposed to feel. If I loved him, I should feel loss, I should feel the emptiness I felt when I thought it was Max.” Liz got up from her chair and started pacing her balcony. The anxiety she had been feeling was getting the best of her. She needed to make sense of all of this. She needed for Maria to tell her what was wrong with her. “Ria, it’s not right!”

Maria looked at her friend and shook her head in exasperation. She just couldn’t deal with this anymore. “Do you ever listen to what is coming out of your mouth? You’re always so logical but you never listen to your own logic. It’s like, you analyzed everyone’s life but you fail to get it right on your own. Even I can figure this one out! All your double talk and your thoughts of what should be and what can’t be, has got you so messed up you can’t see what’s right in front of your face!”

“What are you saying?” Liz asked staring at the ground in front of her while she continued her exasperate pacing.

“Let me quote ‘If I loved him, I should feel loss, I should feel the emptiness I felt when I thought it was Max’. Why did you feel the loss when you thought it was Max?”

“Because Max is my friend, because I love him.”

“Let me quote again, ’because I love him’, Why are you so eager to deny it? Listen to yourself, Liz. You don’t feel the loss because the one you love is Max and he is alive and kicking”

Liz’s walls were crumbling but she wasn’t going to give up with out a fight, “Of course I love Max, so do you!”

“Yes, but I’m not IN love with him.” Maria retorted back at her.

There it was. Liz stopped pacing and looked at Maria. Someone had actually said it out loud. In the recesses of her mind it was the thought that kept haunting her since she had run over to Max’s house on Saturday. She could try to deny it; hell she had done a great job at that for the last three years, or she could fess up to it and start dealing with it. Her eyes filled with tears as she fell to her knees wrapping her arms around herself.

“Why didn’t I see it? Why?” she sobbed

Maria approached her friend and threw her arms around her, “Chica, it’s not easy falling for your best friend. I think you were afraid of losing him. Zan was a safe substitute”

“ A safe substitute?” Liz felt herself get nauseous at the thought, “Zan was his brother. How could I do that to Zan? I used him… God, Maria, I used him and he knew it!” Her sobs wracked her body, “That’s why he didn’t push me until that day. He told me that I didn’t want him. You knew too! Everyone knew. God, what have I done?”

Maria rocked Liz in attempts to comfort her, “Liz, it’s gonna be okay”

“No Maria, it’s not. I slept with his brother! I was so desperate to hold on to this fallacy I slept with Zan. How sick am I? I lost him. How can I even look at him after what I did to Zan, with Zan?”, her voice hitching at the end, “That’s why I’ve been feeling this way… That’s why I’ve been feeling so... so… dirty”

“You’re not sick or dirty or any other thing you want to call yourself. You were scared, honey. Max won’t deny you. It will all work out, Liz… It’s gonna be okay” Maria said.

They sat there on the balcony floor until the spring breeze brought a cold chill to the air. Maria got up and taking the throw Liz had on her chair, wrapped her friend in it and helped her into her room where she could rest. Maria knew this was far from over and just hoped that she had spoken the truth when she told Liz that it would all work out.


TBC...

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 12-Oct-2002 9:57:04 AM ]
posted on 16-Oct-2002 5:42:48 PM by starlady
You guys are so awesome...
And you make me feel so guilty for not updating this...

I promise an update by the weekend. I am sitting to write the next chapter today, then I type and then move it to my DD (dear daughter) to catch any misfits.

The FB has been great and the bumps are greatly appreciated.

Thanks again!

See you all soon
~S
posted on 16-Oct-2002 5:44:47 PM by starlady
Oops Double post!


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Oct-2002 5:45:36 PM ]
posted on 19-Oct-2002 10:26:26 AM by starlady
Hi All!

Thanks for all the bumps and the great FB. I am really humbled by all the people that have been supporting this fic. I have read many of the stories that some of you have posted and to have you compliment my work, is really... well, indiscribable.
I have never written anything like this before and find myself with little scenes stuck in my head but also find it difficult to connect them. So that's why it takes me so long to post between parts.

This one goes out w/o a QA (quality assurance) because my beta reader (DD) left for a sleep over and didn't get to read it, so if you find anything weird, please forgive.

I already have Max's POV written but not typed. Maybe I'll be able to post that tomorrow.

Enjoy!
~S

~ Chapter 6a ~

Even though she had not packed too many things she still felt the room bare. With the pictures and mementos she cherished packed away the room was not quite her. She picked up the last of her picture frames. It was the one she had next to her bed. It held a picture of four friends in the midst of a great memory. The picture had been taken at the party they threw for Alex’s graduation. Max and Alex sat on a bench; Liz sat between Max’s legs while Maria was on Alex’s lap wearing his cap. Max had one of his hands on Liz’s hip as he reached behind her to grab the cap off Maria’s head; Liz appeared to lean back into Max’s chest in a hearty laugh as Maria had tried to swat Max’s hand away from her. The moment captured forever. Liz outlined Max’s image bringing forth the memory of that day. A good day.

For the last month and a half Liz had been living day by day. Classifying each one between good and bad. If by the end of the week there were more good than bad, she was ahead of the game.

Liz sat on the edge of her bed and looked at her reflection in the mirror.

‘God Liz, What are you doing?’, She placed her hand over her belly and closed her eyes. She had thought about this long enough to know that she wouldn’t be changing her mind. She had to get out of Roswell. She felt like she was drowning here. As soon as her parents found out she was expecting she would never be able to leave. She would have to live a life full of resentments, regrets and stares for a life that could have been. The Evan’s would be the next to find out. She would be attached to his family forever. She would have to see him everyday of her life, see him make a life for himself that, most likely, didn’t include her. Have him look at her like that day…

That first week Max had returned to school Liz had avoided him as much as he had tried to avoid her but she knew this song and dance couldn’t last forever. She had observed him at times during their class and she knew he was having a hard time dealing with Zan’s death. She could see it in his demeanor. He seemed stressed, tired.

Maria had become the source of information on all Max related. It was weird that Liz sat next to him during class but knew nothing about what was happening to him. She had never felt this isolated from him before. Maria had urged Liz to speak to Max. She had suggested they keep things simple. Liz was still trying to deal with her own feelings. Accepting the fact that you have been in love w/ your best friend for years while dating his twin brother was a lot to digest. Liz was definitely not ready to talk to Max about her feelings. Maria told her that Max needed his best friend. Yeah, they were all close but Max had always had a special bond with Liz that he didn’t share with anyone else. It seemed as if they could soothe each other just by sharing the same space.

It had been two weeks since the accident before Liz was strong enough to see him. That Friday after class she went home and changed clothes before heading out to the Evan’s home. When she got to Max’s house she paused a moment in front of the door, hesitant again. Wondering what she would say to him, trying to bite down those feelings of guilt and remorse. She raised her hand to knock when the door flew open and Max stumbled onto her almost knocking her to the ground. Max grabbed onto the body that he had trampled so they wouldn’t fall and then looked down to see who had been standing at his doorstep. Liz raised her eyes to meet his and what she saw there frightened her beyond imagination.

His eyes blazed with anger, so much rage, so much pain. He stared at her for a second and she shivered under his scrutiny. Then she felt him push her away, as if touching her burned his skin.

“What do you want? Looking for a replacement too?” She heard him yell at her. He then came up to her and poking at her forehead said “Get it through your thick skull! I’m not him! I will never be him!” Continuing his rant, he started to back away from her, “Were you thinking you could just swap us out?”
He raised his arms as he continued to walk backwards “It just doesn’t work that way!”. With that he turned around and started to run away, yelling over his shoulder, he gave the final blow “ Go home Liz, there’s nothing left for you here!”

Liz heard Diane reach the door, yelling for Max to come back but he kept running. Liz never thought it would get to this. She turned to look at Diane and took a step back away from the house. Liz felt her world falling apart. This was it. It was her worst nightmare becoming a reality. Maybe if she ran home she would wake up and it would have never happened. With that thought she turned around and ran away from that hell.


Max hadn’t come back to school after that. Maria told her that he had tested out of his subjects. His grades had always been excellent and so he took the pass/ fail option without it affecting his chances to get into a good college. In the long run it didn’t matter, he had rejected his acceptance to the University of Michigan, the only college he had ever talked about attending, and accepted entrance to UNM. He started school next week. He decided to enroll in the summer session to get a heads start on his freshman courses. He had worked full time for his father at his law firm since he left school. Maria told Liz that, although he was doing menial work, he was really enjoying the atmosphere and the challenges that were presented. He had told Maria he was thinking of going into law.

Liz looked at herself in the mirror once again and stood from the bed. Walking to her closet, she swept her hand over the cap and gown she had worn just a few hours ago. She saw him at the ceremony. He had not taken part of it, but when she was on stage accepting her diploma she had looked out into the crowd and saw him. It was the second time she had seen him since that day.

At the end of April, Alex, having heard about Zan, came home during his spring break to pay his respects and lend Max some support. She had seen them playing basketball on her way back from school that week. They hadn’t seen her and so she stood there for over an hour watching them play. Max seemed more relaxed, more at peace with himself. God, he was beautiful, she had thought to herself. After a month of analyzing her feelings she could say it. ‘This is the man I love, the man I will always love, my best friend.’ She had walked to her house dejected because she also realized that, that was the man she lost.

That was the week Liz had first thought she had to leave Roswell. Maria had come over to invite her out on Friday night. Alex was going back to school and she wanted the gang to get together and have a goodbye dinner, maybe go out to the local pool hall to have some fun. Liz knew that Maria was trying to get them all together so that she could speak to Max, but Liz couldn’t do it. She made up some lame excuse to forgo the festivities and Maria said she would stay behind as well. That was Maria. Always a friend. True and loyal. After a long argument about personal space, Maria had agreed to go with the boys.

That was the way it would be from now on. Friends split between friends. It was just wrong. Liz thought that it would be better when she left for Boston. Maria wouldn’t have to choose, Liz would be gone.

Four days later, Liz found out she was pregnant. This changed everything. So many thoughts went through her head. So many people that would be affected. Her parent’s, the Evan’s, Maria, Max.

She decided she needed to leave Roswell sooner than she had planned. Her parent’s disappointment was something she was never going to see. She was determined to prove to her parents that she could accomplish everything she ever wanted. She would not let them down; but she also knew that they would never let her go away, after they found out. They would question her and doubt her. No. She had to leave before they knew. If Maria knew, she would never let her go alone.

Then there was Max and the Evan’s. She would be taking their grandchild, but it was a bond that she could not make. Max’s words resonated in her mind., “there’s nothing left for you here!” , she still cringed at the memory. No. She was a coward when it came to Max. She was selfish and scum of the earth, but she couldn’t do it. She could not live bound to the love of her life without having him. She could not watch him make a life with someone else. She could not watch him think so little of her. How could she be so altruistic on behalf of her parents and Maria but such a coward when it came to Max?

Liz decided she needed to leave right after graduation. She would be showing soon and she had to leave before then. Liz convinced her parents to let her leave for college early, with the excuse that she wanted to find a decent job and apartment before the school rush arrived. She also told them that she wanted to get to know the area before hand. They weren’t thrilled, but they accepted it.

She didn’t tell Maria. Maria would insist on spending the summer with her. Make it their last hurrah! It broke Liz’s heart to leave this way, but Maria was so stubborn! There was no way she would be able to convince her to stay behind. No. It was better this way. No one would know about the baby for a long time. Hopefully by then she had made something of herself, made her parents proud. Maybe by then Max wouldn’t hate her and maybe by then…. She wouldn’t love him so damn much!

Liz looked at the photo she held in her hand again. Placing it in her suitcase, she closed it.

“Are you ready honey?” Jeff Parker asked his daughter startling her with his words.

“Yeah, I’m ready” Liz responded with a soft sigh.

“Honey, are you sure you want to do this?” he asked noting her melancholy

‘NO’ she thought, “Of course I’m sure daddy, I’m going to have a great time” Liz said trying to put as much energy in her response as possible, as to convince her father.

“We’re going to miss you” Nancy said walking in to the room and embracing her daughter.

“I’m going to miss you too,” Liz said trying to swallow back the lump in her throat as she returned the hug.

“Sweetheart, call us if you need anything”

“Sure, mom”

“Stop it you two! You’d think we’re never going to see her again! Christmas will be here in no time,” Jeff said grabbing Liz’s suitcase

“Yeah, Christmas…” Liz answered knowing that Roswell would be the last place she would be on Christmas.

“Come on Lizzie, it’s a long ride to the airport” Jeff said walking out of her room.

Liz turned to look at her room one more time. “I’m coming.” She said.

Liz walked down to the Crashdown, memorizing every thing she past. The living room in her home, the stairs that led to the restaurant, the couch and the lockers in the back room, the murals, the tables, the noise. She tried to hold tightly to all the memories that were made here. Then she turned to exit bumping into a deliveryman on her way out. Getting into the car she drove away from her life.

Inside the Crashdown, a beautiful arrangement of white roses would sit waiting to be delivered.

posted on 24-Oct-2002 12:29:39 PM by starlady
Just wanted to let you all know that a new part is popping up either tonight or tomorrow morning.

I already typed it and DD is reading it over.

I'm also bumping this so I can find it.

I'm feeling happy with the new part. I hope you all like it.

See you real soon!
~S
posted on 24-Oct-2002 8:20:43 PM by starlady
Hey guys!

DD got through reading and editing sooner than I thought.
Thanks again for all the FB. It really gets the muse inspired. I really appreciate your support for this fic. There are other really great fics out there by really great writers and to have you all reading mine is... well, awesome.

So without furhter ado... Here is the next chapter. Hope you enjoy!

~S


~ Chapter 6b ~

“Max? Is that you?” Diane called out.

“Yeah Mom I’m out here!” Max had returned from the graduation ceremony with too many thoughts in his head. He sat, out on the deck of his house trying to gather them; which is where his mom found him.

Diane walked out onto the deck and resting her hand on her son’s shoulder she asked, “ What did you think of the ceremony?”

“It was nice.”

The school had setup a memorial for Zan during graduation. The basketball team had retired his jersey and the Evan’s were presented with Zan’s diploma.

“Do you regret not participating?”

“No Mom. I’m happy how things worked out. Maria and Liz have always been my only real friends and, well… with the way things are with Liz…. It was best this way.”

Diane pulled a chair closer to her only son and sat next to him. “Max, you really need to talk to Liz. Clear things up. You two were so close. She’s a very sweet girl. We miss her in the house.”

“I miss her too. It’s just… really complicated. I said some really stupid things that day”

“No, Max. You were hurt and you just took it out on the wrong person. She’ll understand; but you have to talk to her. Explain things.”

Max got a far off look on his face; one that Diane recognized seeing on his face far too often, one that told her that he was reliving that day.

“Talk to her, Max” she said moving his face so he would look at her.

Max smiled at her, “I will”

“Soon” she reiterated.

“I promise” he said

“Good” Diane responded. Placing a soft kiss on his forehead, Diane got up and left Max with his thoughts once more.

She was right, he thought. Maria had been telling him the same thing for over two months and she didn’t even know the whole truth. If she ever knew… Maria would skin him alive.

“God! Talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time!” He said placing his head into his hands and closing his eyes shut, as if he could block out the memory by blocking out his view of the world.

The week had been much worse than he ever imagined. He could deal with the sorrow in the eyes of the teachers, but having your brother’s friends, friends that a week ago wouldn’t give you the time of day, want to take you in as their own, was a bit much.

And then there was Liz. The tension between them was palpable. They shared two classes and were forced to interact in one. This week they had just one lab and the guidance counselor had called Max in for grief counseling which had been a blessing in disguise since it gave Max a place to hide for the morning. Max found it easy to avoid the quad at lunch but eating out on the field had exposed him to more ‘friendly’ companionship from Zan’s teammates.

Unfortunately, Max’s torture was not limited to classmates. After his day at school he returned home to Diane who had become a doting mother. The problem was that she doted on the wrong son. She would watch his movements looking for Zan in Max. Conversing with her had become difficult to say the least. She would constantly point out similarities between Zan and him. She would cook Zan’s favorite foods and she went out shopping to buy clothing for Max that was not his style.

By Thursday Max was ready to explode! He found himself hiding in the library for most of the day and then, when school let out; he would go out to the desert where he spent his afternoon looking out into the vast nothingness just waiting for time to go by.

Friday finally arrived and he was grateful the week was over. No more pretenses at school and with Isabel and his father at home, life would become bearable again. The day had started out as every day of that week. The basketball team had come to rally him into school but today all they seem to talk about was the invitational game they would be playing against their rivals, The Hawks, in three weeks. Max had found it peculiar but he had shimmied his way out of their clutches and moved to try and find Maria. She was at her locker… with Liz. Max decided to head to homeroom. Max thought, this day was just not gonna be easy and he had no idea how right he was going to be.

The day had seemed endless. At noon, Jessy Roberts and Melissa Hart, who wanted Max to join them on a ride out to one of Zan’s favorite hangouts, had cornered Max outside the library. Max had gotten away from the dynamic duo just to realize that the basketball team had actually followed him into the library and seemed to have forgotten the concept of personal space because they spent the rest of lunch period guarding him in what could only be called a very offensive stance. His stress level was at an all time high when he was pulled out of his English class by request of Coach Rivers.

Max entered Coach Rivers office and found the coach sitting behind his desk. He pointed to the seats in front of him and Max sat down. Silence was their companion for the first few minutes. The coach had the ‘look’ in his eyes and Max squirmed under his stare.

“Max, Thank you for coming in” The coach started

Max looked at him thinking he was unaware the meeting was even up for discussion.

“You know Zan was one of my best players. He was under my tutelage for four years. He was a gifted athlete.”

Max wondered if this was another one of those ‘He could do no harm and he will be terribly missed’ conversations. He had heard too many of those this week and was tired of it. “Really? We didn’t know that. It wasn’t like we had scouts knocking down our door” he snapped at Rivers.

The Coach eyed Max and then chuckled, “Seems you have his same attitude. I like that Max”

Max saw red. Why was he letting this get to him? He took a deep breath and tried to settle his nerves.

“ The boys and I have been talking”, The Coach continued “Max, have you heard of the invitational that will take place in a few weeks?”

Max nodded wondering where this conversation was going.

“Well, when we lost Zan, we not only lost a dear friend but a great offensive team mate” The Coach rose from his seat and walked around to lean in front of the desk opposite to Max. “The boys, they tell me you play…”

Max looked up at the coach with incredulity in his eyes. He just couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“The boys and I would be proud if you would take part in the invitational and wear your brother’s jersey. We still have time to practice and if you half the talent Zan had we are sure you will make us proud.”

There it was.
This was it.
This was the last straw.

Max shook his head in disbelief. “Coach,” he said rising from his seat, “Do you know where hell is?”

The coach eyed Max with a questioning gaze.

“I’m gonna write you some pretty good directions on how to get there because that is exactly where I want you and your boys to go, seeing that I’ve been living there for the last week I can assure you of the accuracy of the directions” with that Max walked out, slamming the door to the office on his exit.

Max couldn’t believe the audacity! He knew this wasn’t going to get better. He just couldn’t see an end in sight. He ran down the corridor out to the parking lot where he jumped into his jeep and fled home.

‘I’m not going back’ were Max’s thoughts as he entered his house. ‘There was no way they will make me set another foot in that school’ he mused.

“Max! That was the principal on the phone” Diane said walking into the kitchen where Max stood breaking oatmeal cookies, that lay in a plate on the counter, into little crumbs. “He said you left school grounds without being dismissed… He also mentioned you had a few choice words with Coach Rivers”

“He wants me to play on the basketball team” Max responded, as if the simple statement would explain the whole incident.

“I don’t see how that would make you react the way the Principal just described”

“They want me to wear Zan’s jersey” He said hoping it would dawn on her.

“Oh Max! What a wonderful thought!”

“ARRG!! MOM!!” He yelled, conceding that she was just not ready to see. “I’m not going back! I’m going to test out! I’ve seen some kids do it when they need to move overseas before graduation. I have the grades. I know I can do it. I can’t go back there. I can’t take another day!” Max stated trying to make her understand, trying to make her see that he had a plan.

“Max, You will NOT drop out!” Diane said still reeling from having Max yell at her.

“I’M NOT GOING BACK!” Max spat out, taking the last cookie and crushing it in his fist.

“MAXWELL! Stop that! I baked those for you, they’re your favorite!” Diane said reaching to remove the plate in front of him.

“NO, MOM! I HATE OATMEAL COOKIES! Those were Zan’s favorites!” He screamed flinging the plate at the wall, shattering it across the breakfast nook. “I’M NOT ZAN! Not matter how many cookies you bake, I’ll NEVER BE ZAN! I’m sorry to disappoint the coach, I’m sorry to disappoint his friends but most of all, I’m sorry to disappoint you, Mom! I’m sorry that I spent the night here with you, I’m sorry that I wasn’t the one out on the road instead of Zan, I’m sorry that I spent the night here watching Mr. Darcy woo Elizabeth Bennett. I’m sorry I didn’t leave half of my skull splayed on the highway that night! But you know mom…. It’s not too late! I’ll get right on that!”

Max pushed past Diane and headed to the door in a blind fury. He should have been the one. He should have been the one to die; He thought. He could count with the fingers of one hand those that would mourn him. As he jerked the door open and ran out he stumbled over something… someone. Grabbing the person to steady them, he looked down to see a large brown doe eyes looking at him. Why was she looking at him like that? He questioned. Was that the way she looked at Zan?

Max felt his heat constrict. Was he destined to be Zan for the rest of his life? Was this his punishment? he thought pushing Liz away from him. He didn’t want to be Zan! He gave up that charade after the smack of reality Liz had given him that night. He had to be himself. He couldn’t pretend anymore. Not anymore!

Max felt his anger peak and he lashed out. All he saw was the face of every person who was trying to push him into being what he wasn’t, who he wasn’t. Not anymore! He heard the words rushing out of him, heard the hate they held and he realized he was losing himself. He felt he had been fighting a battle that already was loss and all he wanted to do was runaway. Run far away and that is what he did.

He ran. And he ran. He felt the wind on his face making his hot tears feel cool on his skin. He ran until he felt the ache in his legs, the burn in his lungs and then he ran some more. He found himself kneeling at the foot of his brother’s tombstone, yelling to the gods to swap them out. Yelling at Zan for leaving his Mom, for leaving Liz, for leaving him. He yelled until he was hoarse and his body couldn’t support itself. Phillip found Max the next morning laying across Zan’s grave with soil tightly held in his fists.


Max got up from the chair on the Deck. The memories haven taken a toll on him, he passed his hand over his face as if wiping away the pain of those days. It had been hell. Walking to the edge of the deck he leaned against the railing recalling how Alex had helped him recover his sanity.

Alex had come home for spring break and came to see Max immediately. Up until that week Max had been functioning on automatic pilot. Phillip hadn’t thought twice of having Max test out of his courses. After the school issue had been put aside, Phillip took his son to work with him everyday. At first it had been more a matter of just getting him out of the house, out of his bed. Then Phillip thought it might bring him some purpose while they waited for summer session to start at UNM. He would give Max some small task and as if a robot, Max would perform the task before returning to his silent crucible. Maria had dropped by to see him, dragging some conversation out of him but Max was not ready to face the world.

Alex came to Max’s house on his arrival to Roswell and gave his condolences. They sat for a while talking about mundane things and then Alex left, just to return that evening.

He walked into the house excusing himself from Diane and Phillip and requesting that they let him ‘talk’ to Max without interruptions. He then walked to Max’s room and locking the door behind him proceeded to beat the shit out of him. At first Max couldn’t believe his scrawny friend had just punched him, that was until he landed another one right across Max’s jaw. They had an all out brawl in his room, toppling lamps and bookcases and speakers… After 15-20 minutes of pounding each other, they lay sprawled out on the floor. Alex said he wanted Max to know he was alive. Max had stared at the ceiling in his room for a few minutes before breaking out in a full and hearty laugh. It was the first time he had laughed in close to a month and it was music to his parents’ ears, which at that moment were stuck to the other side of his door.
Max asked Alex if Maria had put him up to it but Alex just said that she had insinuated it.


Max was blessed. He had the best friends any man could ask for. Alex and Maria had dragged him out of the darkest place he had ever been. Now he had to do the rest on his own.

Max turned and walked into his house. It was time to bring the light back into his life. Walking over to the phone, he called the local florist and placed an order. He knew he had a lot to make up for. He knew that he could never be what Liz wanted him to be but he could be her friend. Maybe… She would be able to see him again. Not a reflection of Zan, not the crazed lunatic that yelled at her but just him. Her best friend. There might be a long road ahead of them but he would never get there if he didn’t take the first step. In two months Liz would leave for college. He was going to make these the best two months of her life.

Hanging up, he pulled his shirt off and headed to take a quick shower. He was going to do it. He would beg for forgiveness and reclaim his best friend.

TBC...
posted on 25-Oct-2002 7:09:05 PM by starlady
Hey all.

I'm back! Can you believe it? Back with the next chapter so soon! This part just flew right out of me which was great. The next part might not be so fast b'cause I'm intimidated by it. LOL! I really want the reunions to flow well and I'm still not sure how I want them all to react.

There might be a few things in this chapter that might make you go hmmm. but rest assured that I will discuss more about the new characters as well as clarify relationships as we go along. Some words or references might not be clear either so I am puting a footer w/ definitions at the end.

I know this has been very angsty but I'm hoping the kids will lighten the mood a bit and we all know Michael and Maria are always a great comic relief so please stay with me while we get there.

Anyway... Here's chapter 7. Enjoy.

~S

~ Chapter 7 ~

Ten years later…

Liz sat in Dr. Walters’s office waiting the results of the latest battery of tests. The office might have seemed cold to a new patient but Liz had seen her share of doctor’s offices and this one had a homey feel to it, a ‘trust me’ feel to it. And she did, trust him that is. Jeremy Walters was like another father to her. Head of staff of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute pediatric ward, Jeremy Walters had been there with Liz during the most trying times of her life and Liz knew he would guide her the rest of the way. Jeremy Walters had been the savior of many and they all watched over him in the collage of smiling faces that adorned his wall.

“Liz, How are you doing today?” Dr. Walters said walking into his office.

“Fine, Thank you”

“You look good. Have you been to see Emily yet?

“No, I was hoping to get the results of her tests before going down to see her.”

“Well, they just came in.” He told her “Anne? Can you bring in Emily’s test results” He said into an intercom that rested on his desk.

A few minutes later the door opened to admit Dr. Walters assistant, Anne Mathews. She handed Dr. Walters a large envelope and left nodding at Liz.

Silence fell upon the office while Dr. Walters opened the envelope and removed its contents. He got up and moved to a light box that was attached to the wall, where he secured the films he had retrieved. He unfolded some papers and observed its findings on the film.

“Well it looks good,” He finally said turning to Liz.

Liz let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding.

“Liz, just because we have been able to control her disease doesn’t mean she is cured. You know this. You also know that at this stage of the game when she relapses there will be just one possible treatment. I care for you and Emily a lot and I am being completely frank with you because you are a doctor and you can easily take these tests and read them yourself.” Dr. Walters said taking his seat behind the desk once again. Leaning forward he continued. “This was Em’s second relapse. It took a stronger treatment to stabilize her to where she has been these last six months. She needs that transplant. I would let things go but I know you have family that hasn’t been tested. She has been on the BMT list for over a year and we have found no match. Please Liz. Don’t wait.”

Liz looked at the older man that sat in front of her. His eyes held such concern. She knew he was telling her that Em would need that transplant sooner than later. As it stood Emily had never been in remission for more than a year. Her medical history told Liz that it was likely that Em would fall into the grasps of this disease in less than four to five months time. Liz’s medical experience told her that for Emily to survive not just the surgery, but also the chemotherapy and the radiation she had to undergo before the surgery she needed to be in her best condition. Dr. Walters was basically telling her to get her head out of her ass and look at this professionally and not personally. But how could she? They were discussing her baby’s health.

“Jeremy,” she said referring to him as a friend and not her daughter’s physician. “I’ve already started to make arrangements to see my family in Roswell. I just wanted to make sure Emily was stable and well enough for the trip.”

“I’m so happy to hear that.” Dr. Walters said visibly relieved by the news. “ Does she know?”

“No, I’ve not wanted to worry her about the reasons why we are going. I know that as soon as I mention the trip she will figure it out and to tell you the truth, I know she is very scared of what it all means”

“I don’t blame her. Chemo was tough on her and she’ll have to go through a stronger regimen for the surgery. What about you? What are you doing about your residency?”

“I spoke to my supervisor, Robert Mann about transferring to Roswell Memorial for the remainder of the year”

“Good. I’ll wait to hear from you. I hope we find a match.”

“Me too. I’m having a little get together next week to say good bye, please join us.”

“I’d love to sweetheart. Mabel would kill me if I told her you left without giving her a chance to say goodbye.” He said referring to his wife who had adopted Liz almost the instant she saw her.

“Thank you.” Liz said getting up from her chair and walking to the door “I better get down there. Alex said he would drop by at noon in case she was released. I’ll probably get down there and find that he has already kidnapped her.”

“Call me with the details about next week”

“Absolutely, Thanks again” Liz said closing the door behind her.

Walking through the corridors of the Institute she headed to her daughter’s room. Emily Marie Parker was nine years old and had been a resident of the hospital for four out of those years. At least it felt that way to Liz. This being her second year of residency, she felt she spent more time at the Dana Farber Institute than at the hospital she worked at. As she walked she thought of what Dr. Walters had told her. She knew her return to Roswell was inevitable but she had hoped that it would be a joyous return and not one full of ulterior motives. Yeah, she could see it now… ‘Hi this is your granddaughter, can we have your bone marrow?’ Liz knew that if, her parents were a match, they would never hesitate in their decision but she was not sure about the Evan’s… and especially Max. She had tried not to think of him but how to avoid it when her daughter held the eyes of the man she loved. How would he react to Emily? He was the best chance Em had, being Zan’s twin.

Liz looked through the glass window that let her see inside her daughter’s room. Alex had arrived and was talking vividly with Emily. His hand gestures told Liz that he was spinning quite a tale for her daughter.

Alex had found Liz waiting tables in Havard Square five months after her arrival in Boston. He had been floored when he saw her about to pop. Liz made him take an oath of secrecy as to her whereabouts or she would up and move on him. It had taken Alex five months to find her and he lived in the same city as she did. He knew she would have no problems disappearing on him if he didn’t comply. So he took the oath and had been her support system ever since. She would have never been able to complete her studies in the short amount of time that she had, if it hadn’t been for Alex. After many nights of babysitting and staying over at her house, he proposed that they move in together. Liz didn’t have to think about it too much. Having to pay rent on her own was slowly draining her college fund and with the expense of the baby, his offer was a godsend.

“Hey sweetie” Liz said entering the room.

“Mommy!” Emily yelled extending her arms out to Liz.

Wrapping her arms around her little girl, Liz asked “You ready to ditch this joint?”

“We can leave?” Emily asked

“You betcha!” Liz answered looking at Alex who was throwing her a questioning gaze.

“Wohooo!!” Emily yelled scrambling out of bed to get dressed.

“Now, we can’t over do it. So, slow down.” Liz called out after Emily who was already in the bathroom getting ready.

Turning to Alex she addressed the unasked question, “She is still stable but we need to go home”

“When are we leaving?” Alex asked knowing exactly what she meant.

Liz’s eyes filled with tears. Reaching to take his hand she said “I love you , Alex”.

He plastered a smile on his face and with a squeeze to her hand he answered “Right back atcha, kiddo!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“ Aunt Liz, Is it very hot in Roswell?” asked the boy that was trying to stuff his corduroy pants into an already full suitcase.

“Way too hot for those pants to be worn in comfort” Liz responded pulling the pants out of his hands and hanging them back in the closet.

Joshua Richards was one of the other two residents in the Whitman/Parker/Richards home. Liz had first met the boy when she found him sharing a room with Emily at DFCI (Dana Farber Cancer Institute). He was just 7 years old and had a world of knowledge to share. He quickly befriended a scared Emily and they became inseparable. Serena Richards, Joshua’s mother was like Liz in many ways. A single mom, who was struggling to come to terms with her only child’s illness. They had shared a lifetime of tears in each other’s arms that year and they had become dependent on each other for everything. They fixed their working schedules to cover for each other at the hospital. When Liz was not in their children’s room, Serena was there. When Neuroblastoma claimed Josh’s leg Liz sat beside Serena giving her the fortitude needed to move on. When Emily had gone through chemotherapy, Josh was there every day after school helping his friend through something he remembered all too well, while his mother and Alex held Liz together.

Serena and Josh were an integral part of their support system and they would go anywhere Liz and Emily went. The trip to Roswell was not an exception. It helped that Serena was a teacher and had the summer off which let her join Liz, on her crusade to save her daughter. She would be joining them in two weeks, after school let out.

Josh on the other hand insisted on going now. He was like a son to Liz and it didn’t take too much convincing for her to agree.

“Josh, Roswell is a little hole in the wall. It is not the fashion capital of the world! You dress for comfort.” Liz told the boy who was eyeing her as if she was forcing him into losing his coolness.

“Aunt Liz…” He started to say before he was interrupted.

“Hey, where is everyone?” Alex called out approaching the room the kids shared.

“We’re in here…” Liz called out.

“Hey, Are you guys almost finished packing?”

“Almost.” Liz answered

“Uncle Lala, Tell Aunt Liz that sometimes you dress for something besides comfort!” Josh said.

Alex looked at Josh and laughed. “Now, Liz… You’re cramping his style! If I recall, someone around here use to were leather jackets in May because it was flattering to the figure”

Liz turned to give Alex a penetrating stare “Do you want to get to the restaurant by 8?”

“Josh, In Roswell you dress for comfort! Now get going!” Alex said flailing his arms about as to reemphasize the ‘get a move on it’ portion of his statement.

Liz smiled and shook her head.

Serena walked in a few minutes later and went straight to the kids room. “How are things going in here?” she asked immediately taking inventory of what was left to pack.

“Good... Josh is almost done with his DVD collection which means that at some point today he’ll get to his playstation games and then for sure he will be able to pack some of his toiletries.” Liz said eyeing Josh again.

“But Aunt Liz, you said Roswell was a hole in the wall. I know I’m not going to find a Hollywood Video to rent anything decent! How can I choose what to leave behind? You know I have to have my Cowboy Bebop fix. And what’s a day without a Mecha? Plus… I’m not just packing MY DVD’s, I have Em’s in the box too!”

“See what I mean.” Liz said to Serena that was giggling under her breath.

“How’s Emily?” She asked peering at the small figured that was lying on the lower bunk of the kid’s beds.

“She’s doing well. She’s been asleep for two hours now. It’s good she finally took a long nap; the short ones are not enough to keep her going. She’ll be rested for the trip tomorrow.”

“Excellent. I’m going to pop in the shower” she told Liz before addressing her son, “Josh, You have 5 minutes to finish the DVD’s, then you will have another 15 for all game related pieces, that includes the Playstation Advance and the Gameboy Xtreme. If in 20 minutes you don’t have all of it done you leave it. Are we clear?”

“But Mom! I can’t just throw them in a box! It’s my ANIME!”

“Are we clear?” She said firmly

“Yes, Mom” Josh grunted.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

That night Liz, Serena, Alex, Emily and Josh went out to meet with friends who wanted to say good bye to the group. They met at an Italian restaurant close to the Prudential building and between food and laughter they all reminisced over the times shared in Boston and how they would miss the summer which was usually filled with picnics on the lawn next to the Charles river and visits to see the performers in Faniuel Hall.

Liz quietly hoped that their trip would require a longer stay, which meant that Emily might have found a donor. She also hoped that this trip would mend some fences that were probably torn down over the years. Liz had never contacted Maria in the 10 years she had been away. She knew Maria would hold some resentment but she hoped that by the time summer was over they might be on talking terms. Max was a different story. Liz palms sweat just at the thought of seeing Max again. How could you be away from someone for ten years and still love them that much? She had missed him so much. Every time she looked at Emily she saw Max staring back at her. The golden streaks that made his eyes so unforgettable were splashed all over her daughter’s. She even found that Emily had many of Max’s mannerisms. They were both left-handed and Emily had the same lopsided grin as her uncle. She sometimes found Emily watching TV in the same position that Max used to sit as well. Max was always with her. She wondered what he was doing now. Was he married? Did he have children of his own? Had he ever thought of her? Questions that would be answered in a matter of hours.

The next morning, Liz, Alex, Josh and Emily made their way to Logan Airport and mounted a plane headed to Santa Fe, NM.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The drive to Roswell had been long but they finally arrived to the house Liz rented on the outskirts of town.

Liz had not wanted to show up on her parent’s doorstep toting two kids and expect them to take her in. She decided it was best to rent a place for the kids and her. A safe house so to say. The house looked a little run down but it was cozy. The real-estate agent told her that the house came furnished, which was a big seller for Liz since she didn’t want to spend money on furnishings for the few months that they were going to be there. The house had four bedrooms and two bathrooms, a small kitchen, a living room and most important of all a yard. The kids were not used to a yard, living in the city and all, so she had wanted to make sure they had that experience during their stay here.

Alex parked the SUV that they rented in the driveway of the house. Josh jumped out of the jeep and stretched his body. Emily followed lazily behind rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.

“Nice” Alex commented

“Yeah, not bad” Liz responded looking over the dwelling they would reside in for the next few months “The Agent said it had just gone on the market, older couple going on sabbatical in Europe for the next six months.”

“Close enough to walk to town but far enough to avoid the noise. I like.” He said.

“Aunt Liz, can we look around?” Josh asked

“First I want to get the bags in to the house, then you and Em can go look around.”

“K, Let’s go Em.” He said tugging on Emily’s t-shirt

“When are you going to head into town?” Alex asked knowing that Liz would try to procrastinate as much as possible to avoid the inevitable meeting with her parents.

“I’m going over there tonight. I was hoping you could stay with the kids. Were you planning on visiting your parents tonight?”

“I thought I might but I can wait until tomorrow. I spoke to them a few months ago.” Alex responded. Alex had kept in contact with his parents over the years. They would sometimes go on vacation together or he would fly down for the weekend but he never asked about the others in Roswell and he never spoke of Liz to them. They didn’t even know Liz had lived with Alex for the past nine years. Liz felt bad that Alex had given up so much for her but he said he would never have it any other way.

“Thanks Alex”

“Okay, where’s my little Sakura!” Alex yelled while running into the house to find the kids.

Liz could hear the screams and the giggling coming from the house and she smiled. She looked out towards the town. The intimidation rearing its ugly head again. She sighed as she wrapped her arms around her body. ‘God, I hope this goes well, for all our sakes’ she thought as she turned and entered the house.

TBC...

BMT: Bone Marrow Transplant
Mecha: Gigantic Human driven Robots
DFCI: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Anime: Terminology used for Japanese Animation


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 21-Feb-2003 10:39:24 AM ]
posted on 28-Oct-2002 7:02:25 PM by starlady
Hi All!

Thanks a million for your FB it means a great deal to me and helps me find areas I need to work on.

Nirvana: Josh is my hero as well. I love his character and we will see alot of him.

Frenchkiss: Sorry about the depressing parts but there are still a few more sad parts to go. I hope they are also uplifting since we will see some acceptance and like I said, we will get to see Maria and the kids more.

Keep the faith guys! Until then, here's part 8. Please tell me what you think...

~ Chapter 8 ~

It was nine o’clock when Liz headed out to the Crashdown. She waited for Emily to go to sleep before announcing her departure. Alex and Josh were quite busy setting up the Playstation console. Liz smiled as she walked through the quiet streets thinking that Josh couldn’t go a day without his gaming tools. They all had chipped in to buy him the latest version of Playstation last Christmas. If he wasn’t watching his dvds, he was playing some type of electronic game. Liz originally thought it wasn’t good for him to spend so much time on these games but when she heard him talking to Alex about pixels and encoders and compression rates, she knew it was more than just a toy. It was a passion and she respected the boy for having something like that at such a young age.

The night was dark and cool. Liz had put on a black short sleeve cotton blouse, which was covered by a khaki colored jacket. She wore a faded pair of jeans with white sneakers. She felt anxiety grow within her as she turned the corner, onto the street where the Crashdown was located. It was close to 20 past nine when she finally reached the familiar landmark. She didn’t know what she was going to say to her parents but knew that when she was face to face with them it would come to her. She walked up the alley and climbed the stairs that lead to the door of her parent’s home. She decided it was best to avoid the Crashdown and go for a more private entrance. Liz stood there looking at the door of her old home. She felt her stomach twist and turn. Her cheeks seem to go cold, so she slapped them lightly to add a bit of color knowing that she must be pale with fear. This meeting was nerve wrecking and Liz thought maybe she should have prepared something to say.

After 10 minutes of standing there, questioning her decision to come alone, she finally shaked her shoulders and hands out. Lifting her eyes to the door, she knocked on it. There was no response. With a trembling hand she brought it back up and knocked a little harder. After a few seconds, she heard shuffling behind the door and heard the locks being undone. Liz felt like running. She wanted to hide. She froze as the door opened.

“Yes?” Said a voice that brought a torrent of memories to Liz.

She raised her eyes to look at the woman who had cleaned her scraped knees so many times, the woman who had taught her to braid her hair and brush her teeth and given her the ‘sex’ talk. Liz’s eyes filled with tears. The woman that stood before her looked so much older than she remembered. Nancy’s hair barely reached her shoulders, her skin looked worn and her eyes were sad. It broke Liz’s heart to think that she probably was the cause for each line that graced her mothers’ features; she was probably the cause for the dull look in her eyes.

“M… Mom…” was all that Liz could say before the tears began to fall.

“Liz?” Nancy said her own eyes brimming with unshed tears. She brought her hand up to cover her mouth, trying to regain some of her senses. She felt her mouth move but no other word would come out. This was her child. She was not the young girl that left her home 10 years ago. This was a woman and yet she was still her child. Her hair was much longer, almost to her waist, her skin was pale but her face was still the same. This was her baby. Her baby was home.

Nancy stretched her arm out to touch Liz, trying to make sure that what she was seeing was real. Her fingers softly touched Liz’s cheek and before she knew it Liz had seized her hand in hers pressing it against her face. Nancy’s eyes closed as she finally let the reality of the moment sink in.

“Jeff…” Nancy whispered between breaths. “Jeff” she called out louder taking a step toward Liz who still held her hand against her face. “JEFF!” She finally wailed pulling her daughter into an embrace.

As both women held onto each other they heard a voice call from within the house, “What is it, Nancy? I was going to head down to the store to give the final closing instr…” Jeff stood fixed in his spot when he saw the scene in front of him.

Nancy pushed Liz into the house closing the door behind them before turning to look at her husband.
Liz looked at her father and all she could say between her tears was “Daddy?”

Jeff looked between his wife and his daughter. He crossed the distance in two steps and before Liz knew it she was being pulled into hug that screamed out in longing. “Thank god, you’ve come home” was all he said holding his daughter as if his life depended on it.

“I’m so sorry Daddy” Liz managed to say between sobs.

“Shhh…” Jeff said pulling back to look at his daughter. He raised his arm to bring Nancy into his embrace “We’re just so happy to have you here, home.”

After a while they all composed themselves and sat together on the couch. Liz sat between her parents, each holding her hand or caressing her arm. They just needed the physical contact to make sure this was not a dream.

“Please Liz, tell us everything. We need to know where have you been for the past ten years?” Nancy finally asked.

“Mom…” Liz said, when she was interrupted by a knock on the door that led to the Crashdown.

“I’ll be right back that must be Carlos getting the closing instructions,” Jeff said getting up with regret.

A few minutes later he was back and sat down.

“I’ve been in Massachusetts. Boston to be precise” Liz said

“But we looked for you…After you sent us that letter we waited 6 months and Jeff went out there to look for you” Nancy said

Liz remembered the letter she had sent her parents. It was cryptic at best. She had driven to Rhode Island to mail it so they could not trace it back to where she lived. She had told them that there was alot going on in her life. A lot she needed to figure out and that she would not be returning to Roswell until she had done just that. She had told them she was safe and not to worry about her and they shouldn’t expect any further communication from her. “I’m so sorry for that. I just…. I needed you to know I was safe but I wasn’t ready to come home”

“Why honey? Please tell us what was going on?” Jeff pleaded.

Liz sat up and moved to sit on the coffee table facing her parents. She then told them how she had gone to Boston to study just as they had planned but that she had carried a secret with her. She told them about Emily and how Alex had found her. She told them about how they had worked together so Liz could finish her degree. She told them how Serena and Josh were part of their lives. She then told them HOW she had met Serena. Told them about Emily’s illness, about how difficult it had been the last four years. She told them how many times she had wished they could be there with her. She told them how she feared they would hate her for running away and how she had been so afraid of losing their respect.

After a couple of hours Liz had summed up her life and there was not a dry eye in the house.

“Where is she? Where is our granddaughter?” Nancy finally asked

“Alex and I rented a house for the summer, just on the outskirts of town.” Liz answered

“Why? Why don’t you stay here? We have plenty of room…” Jeff asked hopefully

“Oh, Daddy! You have no idea how happy it makes me to hear you say that. To have you open your home back to me and take us in like that, but there are a lot of people I need to talk to. Make amends with, and I thought it best to keep a neutral zone available” Liz said begging her parents to understand.

“We understand, but I hope you understand we want to have our granddaughter running underfoot as much as possible” Nancy said knowing that after 10 years, Liz would need her own space. She wasn’t their little girl anymore. She was a woman. A mother.

“Thank you for understanding” Liz said squeezing their hands in reassurance. She was not going anywhere, anytime soon.

“Honey? Are Alex and You…” Jeff tried to ask but found it difficult to utter the words.

Liz looked at him with a puzzled look trying to determine what her father wanted to ask, when it dawned on her. “Oh! God, No! Alex is like my brother! Never Alex, Daddy! Oh My lord!” She said laughing as if the whole notion was preposterous.

Jeff and Nancy looked at each other and laughed along with her.

“Honey, you said you had to talk to many people…” Nancy asked

“Yeah Mom. Maria for one. The Evan’s…” Liz said losing herself in the thought of seeing Max again.

“They don’t know? About Emily I mean.” Jeff asked, already knowing the answer. Those first years Max had become a permanent fixture at the Crashdown. Jeff knew that if Max knew anything about Emily he would have told him about it many years ago.

“No, Daddy. They don’t. Which makes this situation more difficult.”

“Don’t worry sweetie, they’ll understand.” Nancy said trying to sound optimistic.

“I hope so, for Emily’s sake.” Liz said looking at her mother.

“Well, Maria helps us manage the Crashdown. She completed her degree in business at UNM and now manages her Mom’s store as well as helps with things here. She used to work for a marketing company in Clovis but she got married about 4 years ago and wanted to settle down in Roswell, so she gave it all up.” Jeff informed Liz

Liz sat there taken aback by the news. Maria was married. She worked at the Crashdown. She had given up a high power career for the ‘simple life’. ‘God, I miss her’ Liz thought.

“I’m hoping to see her at some point this weekend. No reason to put it off…”Liz said

“Well, She lives right off Murphy Street. She should be dropping by here on Sunday to go over the weekly receipts and bills.”

“I’m going to try to see her before then. I don’t want to meet her here, it would be awkward.” Liz stated

“I agree; it might be best. Why don’t you come over with Emily tomorrow so we can meet her and we can get to know her while you go and meet with Maria.” Nancy offered hoping to encourage Liz.

“That actually sounds wonderful! We can come over for breakfast!” Liz said finding the idea very appealing since it would give Alex time to go see his parents as well.

Nancy looked over at Jeff and almost giggled in excitement. Jeff looked at his wife and just wanted to cry. Not only did he have his daughter back but his wife had been reborn in front of his eyes.

“So…Umm… I better get going. We have a big day tomorrow…” Liz said standing up

“Do you have to leave so soon?” Nancy said almost in a whine

Liz looked at her watch “It’s almost one in the morning, if you want me here before noon, I do need to head out.” She said turning to look at her parents “Dad, Mom… I know I could have done things differently but at the time, this was all I could think of doing. I should have trusted you more and I’m sorry for that more than anything else. I want you to know that I had planned on returning eventually… I wanted to finish my residency. I wanted to come home as a full fledge doctor. I wanted you to be proud of me. I don’t want you to think that I came back here just because of Emily’s need. She just made the trip needed sooner, but I was always going to come home”

“Honey,” Nancy said cradling Liz’s face within her hands “We don’t care why you came back, we’re just happy you are here and hope that we can help Emily.”
Liz hugged her Mom and then turned to say good-bye to her father.

“Wait!” Jeff said grabbing his jacket off the coat rack “I’ll drive you. I don’t want you walking around town at this hour”

“Daddy, I’m used to this. Sometimes my rotation at the hospital ends at 3 am and I walk to the train station on my own all the time.” Liz said

“That’s in Boston where Alex takes care of you. Here in Roswell you’re not walking alone at this hour at night. You’re on my watch,” He said thinking that he would have to talk to Alex about letting Liz walk around the city alone!

Liz smiled at her father and shaking her head, brought her mom into another embrace.

“Thank you Mom. I love you” Liz whispered into her hair

Nancy held her daughter to her chest in a tight hug. Kissing her hair, she said “I love you too baby”

TBC...

Next part the reunion w/ Maria. Stay tuned!
posted on 29-Oct-2002 12:55:34 PM by starlady
Can you beleive I'm back so soon? The sory is just flowing right out of me.

Eccentric one: Sorry, All I can do is promise there will be alot of Max & Liz in the chapters that follow this one.

Dee: I'm going to make sure someone reams Liz but it won't be her friends...

And for everyone that keeps reading, rating and bumping this story, Thanks!

Well, On to Chapter 9....

~ Chapter 9 ~

Liz walked into the Crashdown the next morning at around 9:30. Alex dropped her off on his way to his parents house and now she stood between Emily and Josh taking her first look in ten years, of the restaurant that had been such a large part of her life.
Emily looked at the murals that adorned the walls and Josh smirked at the antennas the waitress wore.

“Aunt Liz, Did you have to wear the antennas too?”

Liz looked at the young waitress that was taking an order at a nearby booth and smiled as she recalled the many times her father found the antennas stuffed in her apron.

“Most of the time “ Liz responded

“Mommy, Please tell grandpa that this alien theme is just not very cool”

“Why don’t you tell him yourself since he’s right over there” Liz said as she bent down to her daughters eye level and pointed to the man that stood stoic at the entrance to the back room.

Emily looked up at the man and immediately recognized him from the many photos her mother kept of her youth in Roswell. It was a grandfather that she never met but one she knew very well from the stories Liz would tell her. “Grandpa!” she yelled running into the arms of her grandfather, a 100-watt smile plastered on both their faces.

Liz took in the scene and felt herself choke up.

“Don’t get hormonal on me, Aunt Liz”

Liz looked to her side with a scowl. “Josh, where did you hear that term? What do you know about hormones?”

“Oh Please! I live in a house with three women. I know all about hormones. Uncle Lala explained them to me years ago! He thought it best I know about it so I could stay safe during certain times of the month.”

“Well, maybe I should have a talk with UNCLE LALA!” Liz said pushing Josh in front of her to approach her father.

“Hey, don’t kill the messenger”

“Hi Daddy” Liz said walking up to her father and ignoring Josh’s last comment. She would definitely have to talk to Alex about appropriate conversations to have with an 11 year old.

“Hey sweetie” Jeff said still coming to terms that his daughter stood in front of him and he was holding his grandchild in his arms. He looked at the little girl in his arms and was in awe of how much she looked like Liz as a child. She was petite for a 9 year old but he assumed it had to do with her health, as was the way her skin was so pale you could see the tiny veins that carried the malfunctioning blood through her body. Her nose was a little button just like her mom’s while her hair was a chocolate waterfall reaching mid way down her back. The smile that graced her face was not inherited from the Parkers; her lips were full and her smile wide. Her eyes were just another trait that screamed, ‘I am an Evans’.

Jeff moved his eyes from his granddaughter and looked at the young boy that stood beside his daughter.
“You must be Joshua,” He said. The boy reached Liz’s shoulder. He wore his hair short but the ends stood in all sorts of angles. He wore a pair of carpenter jeans and a charcoal color t-shirt that had a blond character with the words Dragon Ball Z plastered in front of it.

“Yup. That’s me” Josh responded with a small nod.

“Well, It’s a pleasure to meet you” Jeff said patting Josh’s shoulder. “Come on up stairs, Nancy has been waiting for you since 6 this morning” He said holding the door to the back room open so Liz and Josh could pass “You know how she gets” He continued as he rolled his eyes.

Liz chuckled knowing that her mother probably didn’t sleep last night in anticipation of meeting her grandchild.

They all headed upstairs where they sat down to get to know each other and have breakfast.

An hour later the kids were fidgeting and looking for other things to do.

“Emily, Josh why don’t you go downstairs and have Jenny make you an alien smoothie? Grandma is going to take you sight seeing in a bit, while your mom visits a friend.” Jeff told the kids noticing they were getting bored.

“Cool! Can we mom?”

“Sure, I’ll be down in a bit”


Emily walked through the backdoor of the restaurant and found a booth to sit in. Josh sat across her and pulled out the menu from the little stand that held it up.

“Check this out, Em. All the food have alien related names,” He said showing Emily the funny names.
Emily giggled thinking it was so goofy to order Men in Blackberry pie.

Just then the bell on the door rung and Emily reflexively looked up to see who was entering. Her breath caught in her throat and she slapped Josh’s hand.

“Ow! Stop it! What’s up with you?” He said looking at his friend who had not taken her eyes off the person who just walked in.

“It’s her, it’s her…” she said before bounding out of the booth toward the woman that had walked into the restaurant.

“Who?” Josh asked following his friend with his eyes. He knew exactly who it was as soon as he laid eyes on the blonde that entered.

“I know you!” Emily blurted out as she stood in front of her namesake.

“You do?” Maria said looking down at the little girl blocking her way to the backroom.

“You’re Aunt Maria! I’m named after you! You use to have short hair!” Emily babbled, “You talked a lot and were very violent”

Maria stared at the girl in front of her and crinkled her brow wondering who was this girl that seemed to know a lot about her. “What do you mean I was violent?”

“Yeah, you used to want to beat people up.”

Maria laughed thinking that she still did, sometimes. “Well, little lady, you seem to know all about me. I think it’s only fair I get a name to go with your beautiful face”

“Mommy named me after you! She said you were her best friend! My name is Emily Marie! Although everyone calls me Em.” Emily continued, “You are taller than you looked in the pictures. Mom used to tell us stories about you and her. She said you were going to be a rock star!”

At this point Maria was intrigued by the little firecracker who’s mouth seemed to be moving faster than she could catch up with. She bent down to really look at the girl that stood before her. She looked at her face carefully trying to think of whom this child belonged to. She’d recognized those eyes anywhere but she knew the angel before her, was not Max’s! She moved her hand and touched the girl’s long dark hair, letting it slip through her fingers. It couldn’t be, she thought.

Before another thought crossed her mind, Maria was being dragged to the booth that Emily had been sitting in.

“Aunt Maria, this is MY best friend, Josh”

Maria tore her eyes away from the petite child to look at the boy that sat in the booth.

“So you’re really her?” Josh said with a little awe in his voice.

“I guess so…” She responded still not sure that what she thought was possible.

“Is it true you wore a water bra to school once?” Josh asked intrigued by the woman that had been subject of so many tales.

Maria froze at the reference. Only three people knew about the aqua bra incident and two of them had been missing from her life for ten years. Feeling her legs about to give in under her, she sat in the booth across from Josh.

Grabbing Emily’s hand to draw her attention, Maria asked, “Who are you kids?”

“I told you, I’m Emily and this is my best friend Josh” Emily stated, a confused look marring her features

“No, No. Who are you? Who is your mother?” Maria responded trying to clarify the question.

“My Mom’s your best friend” Emily restated furrowing her brows

“But who is…” Maria started to ask before she heard Josh yell to someone over her shoulder

“Aunt Liz! Look who we found!”

Maria’s gripped tightened on Emily’s hands. Had she heard this boy right? Maria thought. Slowly turning around in the booth she confirmed her suspicions. There in front of her, just as shocked as she was, stood Liz Parker.

Maria felt Emily wiggle her hands free from her grip and run towards Liz.

“Mommy! Look, it’s Aunt Maria! She looks just like the pictures but her hair is longer.” Emily said pulling Liz to the booth they had been sitting in. “You need to speak loud. I think she has problems with her hearing” She commented quietly hoping only her mother would hear.

At the comment, Maria’s eyes dropped from Liz to look at the child that stood in front of her “Why would you say such a thing?” She asked shocked.

“It’s okay, we all have our disabilities; it’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Emily said

“I can hear just fine!” Maria argued

“But you kept asking the same questions!” Emily stated

“It’s true, I heard her ask us the same question three times!” Josh chimed in.

“It’s a matter of interpretation! You just didn’t understand what I was asking” Maria retorted

Emily and Josh looked at each other and then looked up at Liz who was still standing next to the booth with her mouth open. Returning their focus to Maria, Emily said “Okay”

“Uncle Lala told us that when we met you, we should never get into an argument with you.” Josh said matter of factly.

“WHAT!? Who’s Uncle Lala? And why would he say something like that?” Maria asked unnerved by the calmness in which Josh had delivered that statement.

Liz snapped out of it with Maria’s words and quickly realized this conversation was going down the wrong path. “Okay guys. It’s great you met Aunt Maria! Now I need to talk to her, so why don’t you both go upstairs to see what’s holding up grandma?”

“But we didn’t get our smoothies yet.” Josh whined.

“Josh, You’ll get it later” Liz responded begging for him not to argue, begging for him to realize she needed to talk privately with Maria.

“Let’s go Em” He said nodding at her while pushing out of the booth and pulling Emily toward the backroom.

Emily was almost at the door before she turned around and ran to the booth throwing her arms around Maria’s neck. “I’m so happy I finally met you. Mommy and Uncle Lala missed you so much, I knew you had to be special, even if you are hard of hearing” kissing her cheek Emily released Maria and ran through the back doors up to her grandparents house.

Maria sat in the booth staring at the backdoors trying to get a grasp of what had just transpired. Did a child just get the upper hand in an argument with her? She was brought out of her reverie by a voice from her past.

“She carries more of you than just your name…” Liz said, hesitantly sitting in the booth across from Maria.

“When did you get back?” Maria asked turning to face Liz. Her tone was unreadable.

“Yesterday afternoon” Liz responded quietly, “I was actually headed over to your house”

“Why?” This time her tone was unmistakable. She was upset.

“I wanted to see you. Talk to you; Talk to you about everything. Try to explain…” Liz said flustered by the harshness in Maria’s voice

“Why?” Her tone unwavering

“I left without telling you… I… I wanted you to know why”

“I just met why, didn’t I?” Maria said, her eyebrows raised as if daring Liz to deny it

“In a sense, yes.”

“She’s Zan’s isn’t she?”

“Yes” Liz responded feeling Maria’s recriminating look upon her.

“God, Liz! Why? Why did you do it?” Maria finally blurted out

“I was afraid.” Liz said hoping her old friend would understand.

“Of what?”

“Of losing my parents respect,” Liz answered laying her hands flat on the table in front of her as she raised her eyes to look at her friend “I got knocked up by my boyfriend, someone I didn’t even love. I was afraid people would never look at me the same. I couldn’t live like that. I needed to get away, prove myself, not just for them but for me.”

“When you say them, you mean Max, don’t you?”

“Maria…” Liz said, a pleading look in her eyes.

“Did you even think about me?” Maria snapped in anger

“Yes, that’s why I didn’t tell you” Liz responded quietly lowering her eyes to her hands.

“WHAT?”

“I knew you would never let me go alone, you’ve always been so stubborn,” Liz said looking at her friend under hooded eyes. Maria’s face stayed solemn. “You would have insisted on going with me and I couldn’t let you do it”

“I would have wanted to go. God Liz! How could you just walk away? You were like my sister! Don’t you get it? It was my choice to make.” Maria said softly trying to make Liz understand how much she had hurt her.

“I did what I thought was best” Liz said

“You always did that! Making decisions that weren’t yours to make! For someone that was prized for her good judgment you sure screwed up a lot! You always rushed into things just to regret them later!” Maria bit out

“No, Maria. I don’t regret leaving you behind!” Liz said emphatically “I missed you, God I missed you! But when I see your life… I don’t regret leaving you behind”

Maria looked agape at Liz. Hurt shadowing her features once again. “How can you say that? You don’t know ANYTHING about my life!”

“I know you went to college, completed your degree. Got a great job, met a man you could love and would love you back. Got married and by the looks of things will be adding a new member to your family” Liz said pointing at the small belly that protruded from Maria’s body. “You think you would have any of that if you followed me?” Liz asked, the tears that had threatened to fall, finally flowing freely “No, you wouldn’t”

“You don’t know that! We could have done it together!” Maria replied, pleading for Liz to acknowledge her statement as true while tears streamed down her face.

“Yes, I do know!” Liz said grabbing Maria’s hand as if to have her look at her. “Maria, I’m a single mother that juggled a schedule of full time classes and a part time job to make ends meet. I dragged down anyone that offered to help because I couldn’t do it alone. As much as I wanted to think I could, I couldn’t”

“It was your choice! I could have been there for you” Maria sobbed trying to pull her hands from Liz’s grasp, but Liz held tight as she continued.

“I regret many things in my life but dragging you down the road I have walked will never be one of them. I didn’t want that for you. You’re right. It was my choice, my choice to go that night to Zan, my choice to have my baby. My choices were what led me to that crossroad. You didn’t have to pay for choices I made. I bless the day I made the choice of leaving you behind. It was the only right thing I did.
Maria, I was a fool. I was a fool to think I could do this alone. I had no idea how hard it would be. If it hadn’t been for Alex I don’t know where I would be today.” Liz sobbed

“Alex?” Maria questioned still trying to absorb half of the things Liz was saying

“Uncle Lala.” Liz said clarifying the kid’s term of endearment for their friend “Alex found me about six months after I arrived in Boston. I was at a local restaurant waitressing. 8 months pregnant, a dwindling college fund and grades that were scraping bottom. I was headed nowhere fast. He saved me, and I let him. I was such a coward; I grabbed on to him and let him sacrifice everything for Emily and me. He almost lost his own scholarship because of me. He held me up when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore. He’s still doing it and after all these years, I still let him. Do you know he’s here?” Liz asked raising her red and puffy eyes to her friend before continuing, “He rearranged his life to make sure he could be here. Maria, I didn’t want that for him. Even though at the moment, I had no idea how bad it could get, I didn’t want that for you either. One thing I did know at that moment was that I would have never been able to say no if you insisted on going. So I left without telling you. I swore Alex to secrecy. He knew why and respected my choice. I think deep down he didn’t want to drag you down that road either.”

“Liz…” Maria choked out. Hearing her friend talk, she couldn’t even imagine what she had gone through. Maria thought of her life in Roswell, surrounded by friends and family. She understood that an act of chivalry had been made… by Liz and subsequently by Alex as well. Maria squeezed Liz’s hand “I wish I would have known, I just wish I…”

“Maria, believe me. I am so sorry I hurt you. I thought about you all the time, and I’m so happy your life turned out so well.”

Maria smiled at Liz recalling her earlier conversation with Emily and Josh. She obviously had remembered their friendship. She had cherished it enough to have her child raised on stories about their adventures together. “Well, if you call being married to Michael Guerin a good thing. And obviously, I’m losing my hearing as well!” Maria said referring to Emily’s comments; her own hurt feelings taking a back seat to the emotional turmoil Liz had lived.

Liz smiled wiping the tears from her face with her hand. “You know she didn’t mean it.”

“Oh she meant it! You didn’t hear what she told me before she left!”

Liz looked at Maria and turned serious, “I’m sorry ‘Ria. I really am.”

Maria looked at her friend and knew this was it, “Liz, there is obviously a lot I don’t know about the ten years you lived away from us, years that based on what I heard up to now where not a walk in park, but I need you to promise me something right now. I need you to promise me something before I let go of ten years of hurt.” She said pulling a strand of hair out of her friends face “Promise me there will be no more running away. Promise me you will share the load with me from now on. Alex obviously needs a breather and I’m here now. Promise me you will let me do this.”

Liz’s eyes filled with tears once again as she nodded “I promise”

Maria smiled between her own tears and said “At least you chose good judgment when you named your daughter! I can’t believe you told her about the aqua bra!”

“I didn’t! I swear! Alex told her.” Liz laughed, realizing this was going to be okay.

Maria laughed before she continued with a more serious tone “When are you going to tell The Evans?”

Liz sat back and sighed knowing exactly what Maria was referring to. “I…”

“Oh My God!” Maria shouted, “What time is it?”

“About 11.” Liz answered looking at the frenzy her friend was in.

“Oh My God!” She reiterated just as the bell on the front door of the restaurant ran and giggles filled the air. Grabbing Liz’s hand in a vice grip she looked at her friend with sorrow in her eyes, ”I’m so sorry, Liz”

Liz turned around to see who had just entered that might have caused such a reaction in her friend and came face to face with her worst nightmare.

“Max…” she whispered.

TBC....
posted on 30-Oct-2002 8:27:07 PM by starlady
Wow! What a reaction! I take it by the amount of feedback you all want more Max & Liz time. *big*

Well I hope I don't disappoint you with this part. It's almost a teaser of what's to come. The next few chapters will be very Max & Liz centric so if this short chapter doesn't fill your quota, stay tune for more.

I should have told you all... No Tess in this Fic.
That doesn't mean there isn't someone else...

Anyway, onto the story...

~ Chapter 10 ~

Max looked breathtaking. He stood at the entrance of the restaurant his arms stretched out over his head holding what Liz believed to be two small ankles which seemed attached to a little boy that dangled upside down across his back. The way his arms stretched over his head gave Liz a pretty good view of the muscles in his triceps. He wore a dark blue t-shirt that had rode up with the extension of his arms, giving Liz a clear view of just how low his jeans hung, they were barely hanging on to his hips; it also gave her a glimpse of the abdominal muscles that were hidden under his shirt.

Liz’s eyes drank in the sight that was Max Evans. She never thought he could get more handsome, that was, until she saw him today. His skin seemed more bronze and his face had a rugged texture, which made her realize that the boy she had left behind was standing in front of her as man. Liz took in the rest of the scene before her. There next to Max stood a young woman, a little taller than Liz. She had red hair that, given her tone of skin and the freckles adorning her face, could be deemed natural in color. She was thin and seemed to have a nice body to go with her glowing features. Pearly whites showed through her smile as she looked between Liz, Maria and Max, hoping she would be introduced. Liz looked at the stroller she pushed in front of her and then at the giggling boy still dangling from his feet in Max’s arms and surmised that this was definitely her worst nightmare come true. There in front of her was the portrait of a perfect family. The one Liz had dreaded to find and yet knew she would.

“Liz?” Max said still frozen in place, the small toddler banging small fists into his back forgotten.

“Max…” Liz said, trying to swallow the lump that had become lodged in her throat. The thought of Max with a family of his own, tearing at her guts. She knew she was being selfish. They had never even been together in that way. He had never known about her feelings for him. She left him behind, never even trying to establish a relationship. She blinked back the tears forming in her eyes.

Maria crossed over to Max breaking the moment that she knew could last forever. “Max you want to let Sammy down before all his blood rushes to his head?”

Max looked at Maria as if she had grown another head. “What?”

Maria pointed to Max’s back “Sammy?”

Breaking out of his trance, Max pulled the toddler over his shoulders to hold him upright. “Sorry” he said returning his gaze to Liz.

“Do you want to give him to me?” Maria asked holding out her arms to receive the boy.

“Oh, yeah. Here” He said still keeping his eyes fixated on Liz, as if she would disappear if he looked away. “When did you return?” he asked Liz as he handed the toddler over to Maria.

“Yesterday afternoon” Liz replied trying to keep her nerves in check. She needed to be strong and accept the fact that Max had made a life for himself. She needed to be happy for him. Happy that he had met someone he could love. She smiled to herself thinking that Max must be a wonderful father.

“How did this morning go?” Maria asked looking between Max and the young lady that stood just a foot behind him.

When Max failed to answer, the woman responded “He was great, Maria. A real trooper. You should have seen him! Max made all these funny faces to distract him but in the end, he sat real still all on his own. I hope it’s not too short” She said passing her hand over Sammy’s head.

Maria examined the child’s haircut and said, “It looks really good”

Maria looked at Max who still stood mesmerized by Liz and gave him a kick in the shins.

“Ow!” Max said bending down to rub the now sore spot.

“Stop staring!” She whispered into his ear as he bent down. “Some introductions would be appropriate, don’t you think, Max?” Looking at the woman that stood next to him and then at Liz.

“Oh. OH! I’m sorry! Sarah, this is Liz Parker. Liz, this is Sarah Andrews.” Max blurted out his face tinged with a slight pink color.

“And this, is my main man Samuel Robert Guerin” Maria said proudly, hefting the toddler higher in her arms.

Liz extended her hand out to Sarah before she processed the name order. It dawned on her as she stepped back. Sarah Andrews…. Not Sarah Evans. Samuel Robert Guerin…. Not Samuel Robert Evans. This was not Max’s family! She felt dizzy at the realization and took another step back to hold onto the booth.

“Are you okay?” Max asked taking a step forward, extending his hand in case she needed further support.

Liz nodded “I’m fine. I’m sorry”

Max stood firmly in his new spot, close enough to Liz to extend his arm and touch her. He just stood there, consuming her with his eyes. Her hair was so much longer; her skin covered her features in a taut stretch yet it looked silken soft. He had to hold himself from bringing his hand to her face and touch it, just to verify its texture. Her body frame was the same but there was strength in her posture, one that wasn’t there 10 years ago. Even as he noticed her sway a few minutes ago, the lapse was momentary and here stood a strong woman before him. He felt like he was 18 years old again as he stared at her. All his insecurities flaring to life. Feelings he had thought he had long buried came flushing forward teasing him into insanity.

“When are you leaving?” he asked, kicking himself as soon as the statement escaped his lips. She just got here and he was already asking when she was leaving.

Liz felt a little hurt by his question. She wondered if he already was wishing her away. “I’ll be here for the summer, at least” she finally answered lowering her eyes to escape his penetrating stare.

“That’s great!” He said elated that she was staying in town that long. He had so many questions to ask her. So many blanks to fill, but before he could formulate any other statement he felt someone pulling at his t-shirt. Looking behind him he saw Sarah who was pointing at her watch. He crinkled his brow and shook his head as if asking her what she wanted.

“Meeting…. One O’clock… The Hardy’s” She said as if this was not something he should have forgotten.

“Oh! Yeah!” He turned back to look at Liz. “I’m so sorry Liz, I would give anything to talk to you more but I have an appointment at one” He said with such regret, Liz knew he was being sincere. He really would have wanted to stay.

“With the Hardy’s” She smiled and Max took in a sharp breath, losing himself in her once again.

Maria stood with the squirming toddler in her arms, shaking her head at the scene. Some things just never change, she thought.

Max felt himself being pulled backwards by his shirt and faltered in his step. Looking over his shoulder he saw Sarah again, nodding towards the door. “Are you staying with your parents?” He said realizing his time was limited.

“No, I rented a place at the edge of town” Liz told a retreating Max.

“Oh…” Max said trying to formulate a quick plan to see her again but none would come up! He wanted to kick himself. Ten years he had waited for this moment and he was walking away without a plan! ‘Damn it!’ he thought. “Will I see you again?” He finally said giving up on a plan and hoping she would take pity on him.

Liz was slapped back to the reality of her situation by Max’s question. Of course he would see her again. She had to talk to him and his family about Emily, which was the reason she was in Roswell in the first place. “YES!” She said braking out of her thoughts. She stepped forward, following Max who was now being dragged out the restaurant and down the street. “I need to talk to you! I need to talk to your family as well! Are your parents home this evening?” She yelled as she saw Max slapping the hand that was pulling at him by his shirt and walk two steps in her direction.

“Max! We’re going to be late!” Sarah called out
“Can I have a freakin’ minute!” Max snapped at her before turning to Liz who had closed the distance between them and now stood in front of him. “Sorry” He said apologizing for his outburst. “They’ll be home tonight. They asked me to come for dinner around 7, so I know for a fact they’ll be there. Would you like to join us? Mom would love to see you” He said discreetly crossing his fingers.

“I don’t think I can join you for dinner…” Liz said, Max’s shoulders slumping just a bit at her statement. “but I can drop by after dinner. Is 8:30 good?”

“Yes!” He said elated, A plan! He came up with a plan! Actually, Liz came up with the plan but he had a good follow through, he thought. “8:30 sounds great!”

“Wonderful! So I’ll see you then” Liz said

“Yes! I’ll see you then,” Max said stepping back towards the car.

Liz smiled and Max turned to get into the car, his mind wrapping itself around the fact that he was going to spend time with Liz this evening. Liz Parker was back!

“Nice meeting you, Liz!” Sarah shouted from the driver’s side of the car, waving at her.

Liz smiled at her and waved good-bye.

Maria walked up next to Liz who was watching the car drive away. “I’m sorry I didn’t give you more notice. I forgot all about meeting them. Not that it really mattered… You two are just as pathetic as you were ten years ago!”

“Who is she?” Liz asked knowing that Maria would know exactly who she was talking about.

“Wow! It took you all of 5 seconds to ask” Maria said smirking at Liz.

Liz rolled her eyes as she turned to face her friend. “Maria…” She said in a warning tone.

“Sensitive are we?” Maria laughed “She’s a paralegal at the Evan’s law firm. Max and her dated a few years back but they broke it off after about 6 months” Maria said wistfully “It was the longest relationship Max has had since you left. We thought for sure she was it, and then, all of a sudden they broke it off. She’s a good kid. I think she still has feelings for Max but she’s accepted that it will never go anywhere.”

Liz looked down the street where Max’s car had disappeared. “I’m going to his house this evening, I’m telling them about Emily. It’s sooner than I hoped for, but I think it’s best I tell them before Max runs into Em. It’s not like we can deny she’s an Evans”

“It’ll be okay.” Maria reassured her.

“I hope so,” Liz said wrapping her arm around her friend and walking toward the restaurant

TBC...

A/N: I'm coming into some chapters that are NC-17 and that leaves me w/o a beta reader since my 15 year old will not be able to do those chapters for me (just like she didn't read Ch 1). Was wondering if someone could beta those for me. Looking for someone that can fix gramatical errors as well as logical ones. I also need to be able to bounce off ideas like, would it be better to extend one part vs another or did this part sound too rushed, etc.. B-mail me if you're interested. As I said it would just be for a few chapters.

Thanks!
Sandy

posted on 2-Nov-2002 10:34:47 AM by starlady
Hey guys!

I just want to let you know I'll be posting the new part later today.

I just finished typing it and I'm headed off to print it out so DD can read it and make corrections before posting.

I want to thank everyone that offered to beta my Nc-17 parts. I don't see them coming until Ch 17 or 18 but the way this story is moving that could be just a week away. I have an outline of where I want the story to go and I hope it flows right.

Your feed back is really helping me. The bumps and your ratings really motivate me to get off my ass and type new parts. Also want to send a really big thank you to wearydreams2003 for nominating me for an award. I was not expecting the response I've had on this fic and it's quite humbling.

Thanks again and stay tune...
~S


posted on 2-Nov-2002 3:35:41 PM by starlady
Please don't hate me after this part. I was thinking of going another route with this but decided to give the confrontation a chance.

The next part is much better (more of a dreamer feel to it) so please stay with me.

Here it is. Please leave me FB w/ the good and the bad.

Thanks!
~S


~ Chapter 11 ~

At 8:30 that evening, Liz stood in front of the Evan’s residence. She had not stood at this door since the day Max had lashed out at her. The memories of that day played vividly in her mind as she stood there staring at the door. She felt her fingers twitching at her side, willing themselves to reach out and knock, but she kept remembering how the door had opened that day. She remembered the words Max had yelled and she had to admit that after 10 years they still burned. She shook her hands out and gave herself a mental slap. ‘That was ten years ago, for God’s sake! Everything’s fine, Max INVITED you over!’ she thought to herself as she brought her hand up to knock at the door. As if reliving a nightmare, Liz saw the door swing open. Instinctively, Liz stepped back and coward behind her raised arms.

“Liz?” She heard Max say before peaking a look in his direction. Lowering her arms, she regained her original posture and tried to pretend nothing happened.

“Max! Hi… Um… I hope I’m not early,” She stuttered out nervously.

“No, Not at all. I saw you at the door, so I opened it. I’m sorry if I startled you.” Max said, berating himself. He too recalled, in vivid detail, the last time Liz stood at his parents doorstep. Based on her reaction to him, the hope that the incident might have been buried over the years, was quickly replaced by the realization that it had not.

He was a fool to think things would go smoothly for them. He had hoped that tonight would be the first step of mending his friendship with Liz. He didn’t want to throw away another minute. Ten years she had been missing from his life. From the lives of everyone that loved her.

He had gone to see her after graduation just to find out that he had missed her by about 15 minutes. He thought for sure she would be back later. That evening Maria called him to rant about how Liz had left for Boston without saying goodbye. He had been to the Crashdown everyday the first three months, waiting to hear any news from her. At first he thought her parents were keeping things from him, but as the months passed with out news from Liz, he noticed how her parents had been just as affected by her disappearance as he was. The visits to the Crashdown had become more infrequent but he still went three times a week for the first two years. As the years went by, he had, slowly, tried to put his life together. He was a successful lawyer that just made partnership; he had a loving family, a great group of friends and was emotionally dysfunctional, as Maria often told him.

This morning was the first time in ten years he had felt any elation. The first time in ten years he had any hopes. The first time in ten years he had looked forward to something, anything! And now, as he stood looking at Liz, he realized that he was a fool to have hoped he could join the emotionally functional so soon. He had no idea what she had been through. What had she done with her life? Was she married? A quick look at her ring finger told him she wasn’t, ‘She must have a boyfriend. She’s so beautiful, she has to have hundreds of men after her’ Max thought. He knew he had to take things really slow. Heck he was just happy to be in her presence and if all she could offer him was friendship, then he would grab it with both hands.

“Max?” Max heard Liz say.

“Hm?” Max replied coming out of his thoughts.

“You spaced out there for a minute” she said with a soft smile. “Can I come in?”

“Oh! God! Yes! I’m so sorry!” He said completely embarrassed as he opened the door and step out of the entrance.

“Is that Liz, Honey?” They heard Diane ask from within the house.

“Yes, Mom” Max responded closing the door, turning to Liz he said “We’re in the living room” pointing in the general direction she should go.

Walking in to the living room, Liz saw Diane and Phillip both get up. Diane walked up to her and pulled her into a quick hug as Phillip stood back, gracing her with a smile.

“It’s so great to see you again, Liz” Diane said holding her at arms length seeming to inspect her. “You haven’t changed a bit! You’re thinner than you should be but just as beautiful as always.”

“Mom!” Max said embarrassed that his mother felt the need to voice all her thoughts.

“Nice to see you again Liz” Phillip said as he chuckled at his wife. “Come in and sit down”

Liz moved and sat in an overstuffed armchair that was beside the fireplace, facing the sofa that Diane and Phillip moved to occupy. Max sat on the armrest of the loveseat that was next to the sofa. Liz felt her mouth go dry and she started fidgeting with the ring that she wore on her thumb.

“Would you like something to drink?” Max asked, as if reading her mind.

“Water would be fine” Liz said

A few moments later Max returned, placing a coaster on the coffee table in front of her and handing Liz a glass of water. “Thanks” she said.

Max had no idea what was going on but it was obvious Liz was nervous. Her eyes would settle anywhere but on the people that occupied the room, the way she kept rotating the ring on her thumb was getting him dizzy and for someone that said she wanted to talk, she sure was letting silence fill the room rather quickly.

“So Liz… What have you been up to?” Phillip finally asked noticing that the silence was beginning to get unnerving.

Max wanted to kiss his father at that moment. Finally the silence was broken and with just the right question to fill them in on where she had been up until now. Max leaned in a bit as he listened intently, as Liz told them of living in Boston, about her years at school, about how wonderful living in New England could be, with beautiful Fall foliage and very white winters. Pleasantries were exchanged and Liz was told how Max had become a lawyer, practicing family law at his father’s firm. Phillip boasted proudly over his son becoming a partner recently, having earned his partnership on his own merits.

Max was embarrassed by the praises his parents bestowed upon him but he let them ramble on. He was too caught up observing Liz. She had painted a pretty picture of her life but he knew there was something else she was leaving out. He could feel it in the air. She seemed more relaxed to the average observer but the twirling of her ring was a dead give away that she was still on the edge. And if he was still in doubt, the way she would occasionally bite her lower lip confirmed his suspicions. He had tried to dismiss it at first. Maybe he was reading too much into this. He hadn’t seen Liz in so long, it was arrogant of him to think he could still read her so well. Yet every move she made convinced him he was right. Liz had spoken about her life outside of Roswell but had not mentioned why she had cut off all ties with those here. Maria had persuaded him that it wasn’t his fault. She said that it was mighty self-centered of him to even think that Liz based her decisions on what he did or didn’t do. That Liz’s world didn’t revolve around him. He realized she would not forsake everyone she loved for him, he was just not that important to her.

Max came out of his thoughts as he realized silence had settled in the room once again. He was just about to break it when Liz spoke.

“You must be wondering why I wanted to talk to you.” Liz said, finally looking at Max before looking at Diane and Phillip. Liz tried to fill in time, tried to avoid this part of the evening but in the end, she knew she had come here with a purpose.

“I thought you were visiting all your friends” Diane said looking at Max wondering if he knew there was more to this visit than just catching up on old times.

“Yes, but my visit here is more important” Liz clarified.

‘Here it is’ Max thought. He noticed how Liz sat upright in the chair and held her hands steady. There was the strong woman he observed this morning. Hundreds of scenarios played through his mind but none were even close to what Liz said next.

“I have a daughter” Liz said firmly

Diane looked around to her husband and son who were staring at Liz wide mouthed, silent She turned and looked at Liz utterly confused as to why she was telling them this. “Th… That’s wonderful dear,” she finally said with a questioning look on her face.

Liz sat a little higher in her seat and steeled herself before she continued, “She’s Zan’s daughter”

‘And there it was!’ Max thought, letting himself fall into the seat, needing more support than what the armrest offered. He sat there staring out into the room trying to process what Liz had just said, trying to make the connections on how this had all played out, ten years ago.

Phillip was the first to break the silence. “Are you sure she’s Zan’s?”

Liz took no offense in the question. She knew they would ask. “Yes, he was the only one”

Max lowered his head into his hands, burrowing his fingers into his hair. ‘No he wasn’t’, he thought. He was a fool not to tell Liz about that night, but after Zan’s death he had been lost to all rational thought. After pulling himself out of his grief-induced haze, he had convinced himself that telling her would serve no purpose. Liz probably had many nights with Zan to remember him by. That night was Max’s and even after all these years he cherished the moment she laid beneath him moaning in pleasure, the feel of her soft skin against him, her mouth covering him with kisses. At this moment, though, he knew it had been wrong to keep it from her. ‘God, she was pregnant!’ Max thought.

This was the reason she left. This was why she ran way from everyone she loved. He felt tears brim his eyes ‘It was my fault after all’ he told himself. He yelled at her, told her not to come back, showed no regard for her. She was pregnant with his brother’s child and he told her she wasn’t welcome in his house! She couldn’t tell his parents because he had closed his house off to her. Her own parents not only lost their daughter, but also their grandchild because he was such a fucking prick!

Max closed his fist in his hair pulling at it tightly. He felt like he couldn’t breath, as the sob he held in threatened to choke him.

Liz looked at Max and felt her heart break. He couldn’t even look at her. She thought that he must see her as a terrible monster that stole his niece away from him, his parent’s grandchild. He must think she was an idiot for getting pregnant in the first place! She felt her will falter but she breathed deeply as she thought of Emily. Over the years she knew this would be the hardest part when returning to Roswell. But to return under these circumstances and ask them to help her save the child she had denied them, was beyond her imagination.

Liz picked up her knapsack and opening it, pulled out a small picture of her daughter. She placed it on the coffee table and pushed it in front of Diane and Phillip. “Her name is Emily Marie” she said “She doesn’t know much about her paternity, but she knows her father lived in Roswell, I guess she hasn’t reached the inquisitive age.”

“Why tell us now, after ten years?” Phillip asked sensing there was more.

Liz looked once again at Max. He had not moved from where he sat, not raised his head, not uttered a word and Liz felt her hand tremble at having to tell them about Emily’s illness. She wanted them to know Emily first. Meet her, see her as the wonderful little girl she was.

“I always planned on returning home, but I had goals to achieve and personal reasons to stay way until now.” Liz said hoping to move this conversation onto a better footing.

At that statement Max raised his head and looked at Liz. The movement caught her eye and she looked at him. Liz saw such raw pain in his eyes, her breath caught in her throat. At this point she knew she couldn’t continue. She knew she had to leave; there would be another opportunity to talk. She would let them absorb what she told them. Chancing another look at Max she noticed he had tears in his eyes.

Closing her bag, Liz stood up. Phillip did as well, while Diane just followed Liz’s movements from where she sat, cradling the small photo in her hands.

“Personal Reasons? What personal reasons do you have to keep her away from us?” Phillip said, anger filling each word he let out.

“I just wanted you to know her” Liz said as she moved out of the living room.

“Now? Why couldn’t we know her all her life?” Phillip continued as he followed Liz.

“Dad!” Max said finally noticing the situation was escalating out of control.

At this point Diane was crying and Liz was halfway down the hall.

“Phillip, please…” Diane sobbed

“NO! I want to know why we have been denied our right to see our own granddaughter; and now all of a sudden we are being welcomed into her life!” Phillip yelled

At this statement, Liz turned around to face Phillip.

“Your right? Your right?!” she asked, catching Phillip off guard. Taking a step toward him she continued “You wouldn’t even know about her if I hadn’t just told you. And about your RIGHTS, you’ve enjoyed the same rights my parents have. For ten years my parents had no clue if I was alive or dead in an alley someplace. That’s something I have to live with everyday of my life, to have made them suffer like that... It’s to THEM I owe the explanation, it’s in THEIR eyes I need to redeem myself, not in yours!” Liz took a breath and continued more calmly “I have a daughter which your son fathered. I want her to know where she came from, know her family. She deserves the love and affection of her grandparents for as long as she can have it” Choking back tears Liz said, “There is more to Emily than you think. More that I can’t say right now” Letting the tears fall, she looked at Phillip and Diane with pleading eyes “I… I need you to love her” she said as she turned and walked out the house, leaving a very confused Diane and Phillip.

“LIZ!” Max yelled, desperately running after her.

He caught up to her as she got into the SUV. “I’ve got to go, Max” She said trying to avoid looking at him.

“Please, Liz, don’t go like this, they’re shocked, that’s all. Please, Liz…” He implored.

She finally looked at him as she turned on the car “What about you, Max? Aren’t you shocked? Little Lizzie Parker got knocked up by her boyfriend and left, leaving everyone behind”

“I know why you did it” Max replied. as he held onto the car door while she pulled out of the driveway.

Liz paused a minute, looking at Max. After all these years there were still so many secrets between them. Bringing her hand to his face she traced his features softly. So beautiful. She laid her hand on his cheek and sobbed softly as she said, “You have no idea”. At that, she turned in her seat and drove away.

TBC...
posted on 5-Nov-2002 11:14:07 AM by starlady
Sorry I haven't updated in a few days.
I have been working at the Banner for the story.
I hope you all like.
I have another version of it but I liked this one better.

Let me know what you think.

Now that the banner is done I'll be back at writing.
I have the next part all laid out in my head. I just need to get it out on paper.

Hopefully you'll get a new part before the end of the week.

Thanks for all the bumps!

~S
posted on 12-Nov-2002 8:31:37 PM by starlady
Hey every one!

I'm back and this time w/ an update. I'm super sorry it took so long but, although I knew exactly where I wanted this next part to go, I had a terrible time putting it on paper. I'm still awfully dissatisfied w/ it but I just give up. The next part it much better and I'm halfway done typing it. In the meantime, you'll have to make due with this.

Anyway. I wanted to comment on a few things. Many of you were confused why Max didn't immediately assume Emily was his. Remember, Liz kinda jumped Max in his sleep. Another thing is that Max was a virgin. I'm sorry but I don't think half asleep virgins can distinguish if there partners are or arenot virgins too. Another thing is that Liz dated Zan for three years. It would only be logical for him to assume that they had sex before seeing the way Liz was very much the aggressor the night they were together.

It won't be an easy assesment to make and he will have to be hit over the head with the truth before acknwledging the possiblity that Emily is his. Zan was his identical twin,so just b'cause Emily looks like him won't be enough.

I want to thank everyone but especially Sansu which was an inspiration to me for this part. After reading her long update on Tricks and Treats (which is awesome) I felt like I needed to get off my butt and force myself to finish this part even if I didn't like the way it read. I also want to thank Black Knight, I'm honor'd that you choose my fic to leave feedback, I appreciate it. Mitra, Hawk, brianna, nallitie and everyone else (you all know who you are) that are constantly bumping this story. Welcome to all the new readers and to all the silent readers as well.

Well enough with the note.

Remember that this is really the worst I've ever written and I hope it's not as choppy as I think it is. I promise the next part will be better.

Chapter 12 will follow....

~S
posted on 12-Nov-2002 8:33:19 PM by starlady
~ Chapter 12 ~

Liz felt her feet hit the pavement at the same rate her heart beat in her chest. She looked to her side and found Josh easily following in step. Liz had never really enjoyed running when she was growing up but now it was like therapy. It had started as just that. The doctors urged Josh to get more exercise in hopes to give him more control of the prosthesis he was fitted for, so Liz had suggested he walk in the mornings before school. Serena had started off every other day with a short stroll but soon Josh needed more and so Liz had picked up on the other days. After a few months Josh was dragging everyone on power walks. Serena discussed the extreme exercise with his doctors and they had been elated, quickly encouraging Josh to go as far as he felt comfortable with. That week the walk turned into a jog and a few weeks later it turned into a full out run. Liz enjoyed the exercise so much she had taken full duty of accompanying Josh every morning.

Today was especially therapeutic. She felt as if with every step taken, she left behind a little more of last night’s confrontation. The day was bright and beautiful; holding the promise of better things to come.

“I hope you know where we’re going” Josh said. Being new to Roswell he had no idea which way to go and found himself following Liz’s step, which was not usually the norm.

“Josh, I lived here all my life. We’re turning left at the next corner so we can run on the outskirts of town. We can then head over to the Crashdown. I told Alex to meet us there with Emily in about 40 minutes” Liz responded giving josh a sense of control, which she knew he needed.

“We’re gonna eat?” Josh asked hopefully

“I thought we could have breakfast there”

“Excellent! I’m starving!” Josh said, picking up the pace a bit.

“You ate close to a whole pizza last night!” Liz said incredulously as they approached the corner.

“I need my energy, I’m a growing boy!” Josh said as he flexed a barely there bicep.
Liz laughed as she grabbed the end of Josh’s cap and pulled it over his eyes.

Josh stepped out of Liz’s reach before he pulled up his cap, just in time to see what was about to happen.
“Watch out!” He yelled, causing Liz to turn to see what had frightened him.

It was then that she felt herself slam into a wall. The impact was so strong, Liz felt herself fly back at least two feet before hitting the ground with a thud.

“Oh shit!” she heard someone say. Bringing her hand up to her chest, she tried to regain the breath that had been knocked out of her. The movement caused her to wince in pain.

“Are you alright?”

“Didn’t you see us?” Josh told the stranger as he tried to push him aside to help Liz.

“I just turned the corner and there you were, God I’m so sorry ,Liz”

When Liz finally was able to process the conversation she realized the wall she had careened into had a name. “We really have to stop bumping into each other like this, Max. I don’t think my body can endure another encounter” Liz said as she grabbed both Josh and Max’s hand as she stood up.

“Uncle Max?” Josh asked eyeing the man that was trying to help Liz regain her balance.

Max turned to look at the boy that was with Liz and wondered who he was and why was he calling him Uncle Max?

Liz tasted the blood. Bringing her hand up to her lip she quickly confirmed that she had in fact cut her lip. “Work out much, Max?” Liz said as she stared at the blood on her fingers, chuckling at the whole situation.

“Oh God, you’re bleeding!” Max said grabbing the t-shirt that hung off the back of his shorts and bringing it to her lip.

Liz finally got a good look at Max as he moved around her checking for further injuries. He seemed to have been out doing the same as she was. By the shine of perspiration that covered his body she ascertained that he was at the end of his morning run. He had a vast expanse of skin showing everywhere, all he wore were some running shorts and his footwear since Liz held his shirt against her lip. Liz’s eyes swept across his powerful chest, which definitely confirmed he worked out. His muscles rippled under his skin with every movement he made. Moving her eyes lower she realized that running shorts needed to become illegal because they left nothing to the imagination. Max was a big boy; she chuckled to herself as she flushed with the thought. Max’s legs were strong from his years of running and his body held not a gram of fat on it.

“Aunt Liz, are you okay?” Josh asked when he noticed that Liz looked dazed and lost in her thoughts.

“Yes, Josh. I’m okay, but I think our run has come to an end” Liz said pulling her mind out of the gutter.

“Liz, you are not okay. Please, I live up the street. Let me get you something for that…” Max said pointing to the t-shirt that covered her lip “and you have a nasty scrape on your shoulder that can use something on it” he continued as he pointed to her shoulder.

“Josh, this is Uncle Max. Max, Josh Richards” She said introducing the pair.
“Nice to meet you” Max said as Josh nodded in acknowledgement “Please, Liz I’m right up the street”

Liz looked at Josh and then at Max before nodding in acceptance. Max quickly took her by the arm to help guide her to his home as Josh followed.

The house was very beautiful. The immaculate lawn and the mixture of stonewall and wood siding gave the house and elegance that made it stand out among the others. Max made his way up the porch and opened the door. Liz entered the foyer and took in her surroundings. The wood accents and large staircase gave the entrance a dark look. To her right she saw a formal living room closed off by glass doors, to her left was a formal dining room that looked like it seated 8. It was homier than the living room, but still formal. Max led her through the dark hallway in front of her and as she reached the end she noticed how the house seemed to bath itself in light.

The hallway forked into a three way split. To her right there seemed to be a short hallway that led to a closed door. In front of her was the entrance to a sunken family room. The far wall of the room seemed to be made out of glass with exception of the fireplace that sat in the middle of the wall, the glass allowed the room to fill itself with natural light, which gave the room a lively feeling to it. To the right of the room was a huge Entertainment system. The wall seemed to be filled with electronic equipment, while the opposite wall, the one on the left, had built in shelves that seemed to be filled with books. This room was confusing because it seemed as if the person decorating it couldn’t decide to go modern or conservative in the style. The furniture seemed to be covered with velour slipcovers and Liz could see many cushions littering the floor. It seemed very cozy.

Max placed his hand on Liz’s arm and led her down the left hall, past the family room. She walked into a huge kitchen area where she was guided to a small kitchen nook. Max moved quickly to, what Liz could only believe, was a linen closet; he grabbed a dishtowel and taking an ice tray from the freezer, emptied a few cubes onto the fabric. Removing the t-shirt from Liz’s lip he gently placed the icepack against the tender skin.

“Here, hold this against your lip” He said moving her hand to support the towel.

“Ugg… That stings” She said wincing a bit at the cold feel of the icepack.

“It looks nasty” Josh said, trying to peak over Max’s shoulder to get a look at Liz’s wound.

“Thanks a lot!” Liz chided

“I’m so sorry, Liz.” Max said in a barely audible voice. He just wanted to kick himself. Liz hadn’t been in town more than 48 hours and he already ran her over. He kept thinking how all he ever did was hurt her.

“Don’t be, I should have been paying more attention to where I was going” Liz said trying to ease the guilt that was rolling off every word he said. Liz looked at Max and tried to smile but found herself dazed by the amount of flesh that lay before her. Now that they were indoors it seemed almost indecent to walk around in those little nylon pants and Liz found herself blushing at the thoughts she was conjuring up in her mind. Liz looked away when her innocent smile, involuntarily turned into one of mischief and want. ‘What is wrong with you?’ Liz thought “Nice place you have here” she said as she moved her sights around the kitchen trying to avoid looking at Max, who had placed the first aid kit on the table.

Max seemed to pick up on her uneasiness and looked down at himself. He realized that the running shorts where not something he wanted to be wearing when he was in Liz’s presence. She had a certain effect on him that caused the shorts to become completely inappropriate and somewhat embarrassing if in her presence too long. As if an afterthought, Max felt his body start heating up. He quickly turned around and headed back in the direction they had originally entered. “I’ll be right back” he yelled over his shoulder before he disappeared into the hallway.

Liz and Josh looked at each other, wondering what had gotten into Max.

“Aunt Liz, you never told us Uncle Max was rich” Josh said moving over to a pair of French doors that seemed to lead to the backyard.

“Well, he wasn’t the last time I saw him” Liz replied as she followed Josh movement from where she sat.

“Aunt Liz! He has a pool!” Josh announced in excitement as he peered out the doors curtains. Liz smiled at the curiosity of the child.

Josh moved past the doors and followed the wall to what seemed to be some stairs and an entrance that Liz could only assume led to the family room they had past earlier. Josh bent down a bit to look up the stairs as if he would be able to discover what the second floor rooms held by the small action. He then took a peak into the family room. Turning excitedly to Liz once again Josh said, “Do you know what he has?!”

“What do I have?” Max said as he reappeared barefoot into the kitchen. He had changed into a pair of loose khaki cargo pants and a dark blue t-shirt. His hair was wet from the cold water he had thrown on himself before getting dressed.

“You have a Playstation Advance! We have one at home but your TV is waaay bigger than ours!” Josh babbled off.

Max just couldn’t decipher who this child was in relation to Liz. Obviously he was very dear to her but he talked as if he was part of her family. Max laughed at the energy Josh showed and wondered about the prosthesis he wore. “ I have no idea what I have in that room, Kyle and Michael keep it stocked. You are welcome to go in and check it all out”

Josh turned quickly to look at Liz with pleading eyes. As soon as she nodded her consent he was running into the room. A few moments later he was back in the kitchen with a wide-eyed look on his face.
“He has a 512 chip! AND he has Final Fantasy, the Legend of Urd! Can I? Please, Please, Please?” He implored like an addict needing his fix.

“Josh, we really need to get going. We’ve imposed on Max long enough” Liz said as she started to get up from the chair.

“Actually, could you stay a bit? I really need to talk to you” Max asked. He had been thinking about Liz all morning and trying to find a way to convince Maria to tell him where she was staying when he collided into her. Now that she was sitting in his kitchen he couldn’t let her leave without telling her everything that had been haunting him since last night.

“We actually need to meet Emily and Alex at the Crashdown in a bit” Liz said trying to avoid what she knew Max wanted to talk about.

“They won’t be there for a while, Aunt Liz. PLEASE!!!!” Josh begged

Liz looked at Josh and then looked at Max

“Please?” Max also implored.

“Fine! Just a few minutes” Liz said as she sat back into the chair.

“WoHoo!! Wait ‘til Emily sees this!” Josh yelled before disappearing back into the family room.

Max walked over to the entrance of the Family room. Quietly he slid a door with an ornate glass panel that appeared to come from within the wall and closed the entrance to the room allowing them a little more privacy.

Liz watched as he walked over to her, pulling a chair out and sitting in front of her.

“Liz…” Max began, looking at her.

“Max, I’m so sor…” Liz began to say sensing that Max was going to bring up last nights encounter. Max brought his fingers to her lips, silencing her immediately. Pulling the icepack from the corner of her mouth and placing it on the table, Max took both of Liz’s hands in his and resting his arms on his knees, leaned forward.

“Liz, I need to tell you a few things I should have told you ten years ago. Maybe if I didn’t have my head up my ass back then things would have been different…” Max said. He needed to tell Liz everything. He didn’t want secrets among them anymore. He knew that rehashing the past would open old wounds but he needed to open them if they were ever going to heal properly.

“Max…” Liz said trying to avoid the inevitable.

“No, Liz. Please listen.” Max interrupted “There are a lot of things I’m not proud of and it seems that they all have to do with my silence. I need you to know. A lot of things happened back when Zan died. Things that really messed with my mind. I… I felt as if I was losing myself. Everyone wanted me to be Zan and up until the week before his death, that was what I wanted to; but something happened that made me realize that I needed to be myself. The week after Zan was buried, I was feeling as if I had been thrown into an episode of the twilight zone. Be careful what you wish for and all that… When you showed up at my house that afternoon, I took a week of frustration out on you.” Max stared at their hands as he continued, “I just had a blowout with my mom and all of a sudden you were at my doorstep. I… I didn’t want you to look at me and see Zan”

“Max… I would never…” Liz started to assure him, her heart breaking at his words

“Liz. Please. Let me get this out.” Max interrupted again knowing that there was much to say and he was not strong enough to deny himself her comfort. “I said some really stupid things that I have regretted for ten years. I want you to know that I never meant any of it. I’m sorry it took me so long to apologize. I should have gone to see you and apologized for my idiotic words, but I waited. I was so ashamed of myself. When I finally got the nerve to go see you, you had already left” Max brought their hands up to his forehead and closed his eyes as if in prayer. “Please Liz. Forgive me. I know it’s a lot to ask, but I’m so sorry. If I hadn’t been such an insecure bastard, you would have been able to come to us about the pregnancy. It was my fault. I slammed the door to my house on you that day and left you with no where to turn and I’m so sorry for all you had to go through.”

Liz pulled her hands abruptly from his grasp and pulled his face up so she could look at him. “Don’t you EVER blame yourself!! There were many reasons I felt I needed to leave and they all were about me, and my insecurities. I was weak. I still am…”

“No! Liz you are so strong. You left here and made a life for yourself. You completed college and your almost done with your residency. You did all this and raised a child, all on your own.” Max said in awe of Liz.
“I did no such thing. I never said I did it alone. I would be nowhere if it wasn’t for Alex Witman and Serena, Josh’s mom” Liz clarified. She was not about to let Max revere her when she knew the truth.

“Alex? Our Alex? That’s the Alex you’re meeting at the Crashdown?” Max said sitting up a little.

Liz nodded and then went into explaining to Max how Alex had become part of her life and how much she owed him and Serena for their moral support. How they had helped each other throughout the years and how Alex gave much more than received. Liz made sure it was clear that she in no way could have gotten where she was without the support of her friends. Liz tried to make Max understand her life but she knew he would not understand the extent of what she was saying until she told him about Emily’s needs and that was not something she wanted to discuss at the moment.

Max listened to the other part of the story that Liz hadn’t shared with his parents and in the end was more in love with the woman that sat in front of him than he ever before.

“So you see Max. I am weak. I’m not a super woman. I made choices back then that I still have to live with today. I could have made different choices if I was stronger, but I didn’t and now I live with the consequences of those choices. Max. Never blame yourself for my mistakes. And another thing never, EVER think that I would see Zan in you. I realized a long time ago that you and him were different.” Liz told Max. She then continued softly, with a far off look in her eyes, as if she was voicing her thoughts, thoughts not meant for Max’s ears “The realization came late for me and Zan. I wish I would have had a chance to apologize to him…”

“Apologize?” Max asked confused

“Oh.. I’m sorry I was thinking out loud.” Liz said a little flustered

“Why would you have to apologize to Zan?” Max insisted

“Max, Zan’s death was a catalyst to a lot of things. The way he died, the way I reacted to his death…” Liz started saying as she stood up and took a step toward the French doors. “It put my feelings for him in perspective. I… I…I convinced myself I felt one way and in reality I didn’t feel that way toward Zan.”

“Ok, I’m lost” Max said completely confused by the cryptic words coming out of Liz’s mouth.

“Max, It’s hard for me to say this because he was your brother. I don’t want you to hate me, but I… I wasn’t honest with Zan. Hell, I wasn’t even honest with myself back then. I didn’t love him, Max.” Liz finally said, “I convinced myself that I loved him, I needed to believe that he was the one, but he wasn’t.”

Max sat there with his mouth agape. “But…”

Liz turned and looked at Max, “I didn’t realize my true feelings until he was gone. I felt so guilty, I felt so ashamed and I felt I had betrayed my heart. Then I found out about Emily and I was just not thinking straight…”

“I’m sorry, Liz. I’m sorry you had to go through that.” Max said standing up and walking over to Liz. They stood there for a moment each lost in thoughts of how messed up their lives had been back then. Teenagers dealing with adult feelings and adult situations. Max realized he needed to tell her the rest. It was confession time and she had to know it all. He realized that telling her about that night also meant that he would have to confess his feelings for her but she had the right to know what happened and why it happened. “Liz, there’s something else I need to tell you”

“What is it Max?” Liz questioned as he took her hand and led her back to the chair where she had been sitting.

“I told you that something had happened that made me realize I needed to be myself…” Max started as he paced in front of the small table that Liz was sitting at.
Liz took in Max’s movements and knew that what Max was going to tell her was weighing heavily upon him.

Max stopped abruptly and sat in the chair in front of Liz, “Liz, you’ve always been special to me. We knew each other for a very long time and were friends for… forever. What you never knew, though, was that I use to daydream about…”

RING… RING… came the shrill sound from Liz’s fanny pack, interrupting Max in mid sentence.

Liz lifted her finger to halt Max’s words as she dug through the bag that she had tied around her waist looking for the cell phone. Liz looked at the small screen that told her who was calling and answered without hesitation.

“Alex? Is everything alright?” Liz asked immediately on guard

“Yeah, Emily just wanted to talk to you. We’re heading out to the Crashdown, are you already there?”

“No. I bumped into an old friend while we were out on the run” Liz responded as she threw Max a small smile

“Are we still meeting there?” Alex asked, knowing Liz would tell him about her encounter later.

“Yes! I’ll be a little late but we’ll be there. How about you order for us?”

“Ok, Here’s Emily, she’s driving me nuts!” Alex said trying to squirm himself out from under Emily who was trying to grab the phone away from him.

“Mommy! Did you run a lot?” Emily asked excited to talk to her mother for the first time this morning.

“Hi honey. No I didn’t run a lot today. I met an old friend and I have been talking the morning away.” Liz said as she got up and started walking toward the entrance to the family room to look in on Josh who had been awfully quiet.

Max took in the change in Liz’s demeanor as she spoke to her daughter. She seemed softer. Not in the tactile way but in the way she spoke, the way she moved. He knew she was a wonderful mother.

“Yes, you know who he is” Liz continued “No, I’ll tell you later……. Sure, wait a minute” Liz opened the connecting door “Josh. Em wants to talk to you,” She said as she handed Josh the cell. Turning to Max she said, “I’m sorry for the interruption Max”

“You’ll never guess where I am and what I’m doing!” Josh said into the phone “I’m at Uncle Max’s and he is so setup you can’t even imagine!”

Max smiled at Josh’s excitement. Looking back at Liz he said, “That’s okay. Can I ask you something?”

“Sure”, Liz said approaching him

“Why does Josh call me Uncle Max? I mean, I had never seen the child before today”

“You might have never seen him but he has seen you many times.” Liz responded. Taking in his confused look she continued, “Emily was raised surrounded by pictures and stories of everyone here in Roswell. She calls Maria, Aunt Maria and she just met her, physically meet her I mean. Josh and Serena have been living with us for a few years and Josh has adopted all Emily’s relatives. Em knows you as Uncle Max, but not because you are actually related to her, but as a term of endearment. She could recognize you anywhere because she has seen many photos of us growing up… It was always important to me that she know the people I love and she has learned to love them as much as I do.”
Max was floored. “I’m honored that you would do that.”

Liz smiled shyly at Max just as Josh barged into the kitchen again.

“Here she wants to talk to you.” He said pushing the phone at Max who stood there shocked, staring at the small device in the boy’s hand. “She doesn’t bite… At least not on the phone” Josh said giggling at the funny expression on Max’s face.

Taking the phone, Max put it up to his ear “H… Hello?”

“UNCLE MAX! Don’t let him play with all the games!” He heard yell from the other end

“Emily?” he said tentatively

“Of course it’s me! Didn’t Josh tell you it was me?” she asked him

“Y…Yes, but “

“It’s not fair that he gets to play with all your games just because he can go running with Mommy. “

Gaining his senses Max decided to seize the opportunity, “Well, how about you come over this afternoon and play the games yourself. I’m having a BBQ with some friends this afternoon and if your Mom agrees” He said looking up to gage Liz’s reaction “you can come over and we can meet in person and you can play with the games as well as swim in the pool.?”

“Oh, Please say yes Aunt Liz!” Josh pleaded, pulling at Liz’s arm while Max pulled the phone away from his ear at Emily’s shriek of joy.

“Max! I can’t believe you just did that!” Liz said scolding Max for playing the kids against her.

“Oh, come on. It’s just going to be Maria and Kyle and Sarah. They come around every Sunday. Why do you think I own such a big house? Come on. Please” Max said looking at Liz with his trademark puppy dog eyes.

“Fine!” She said shaking her head.

“She said yes!” Max told Emily who was waiting for a response.

“AHHHH!!! We’re going to Uncle Max’s house for a BBQ” Max heard her inform Alex.

“I’m going to pass you over to your Mom” Max said as he handed Liz the phone.

“I’ll talk to you in a bit, Em….. I love you too.” Liz told her daughter before hanging up. Turning to look at Max, she smiled “You have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into”

Max shrugged and smiled.

TBC...
posted on 14-Nov-2002 10:16:03 PM by starlady
I'm back w/ a new part. The BBQ seems to be a long event so I'm breaaking it in to two parts. I'll post the rest over the weekend....

Enjoy.

~ Chapter 13a ~

It had been tough getting out of Max’s house but they had made it. He had insisted in driving them to the Crashdown but Liz finally convinced him that Josh needed to get some type of exercise done before breakfast and the short walk to the Crashdown would do the trick.

After breakfast everyone headed back to the house to get ready for Max’s BBQ.

“So, how was it?” Alex asked walking in to Liz’s room and letting himself fall on her bed.

“It went well” Liz said sitting beside her friend, “I was scared shitless at first but after we started to talk it was easy. God, Alex, he was blaming himself”

“Well, he was a bit to blame” Alex told her referring to her feelings for him and how her shame and guilt guided her actions throughout the years.

“It was never his fault! I was so screwed up.”

“You still are my dear” Alex said pulling his friend down on the bed and wrapping his arms around her so she lay safely spooned against him.

“I told him I wasn’t in love with Zan.” Liz said

“Did you tell him you were in love with him?” Alex asked knowing the answer

Liz was silent.

“You should tell him. I think he’ll surprise you.”

“It would just complicate things. He might think I’m saying it to get him to test for Emily.” Liz said with a sigh

“You don’t give him enough credit.”

“Why should I confess my feelings to him? If I thought there was a chance for us, it would be different. But… he’s Emily’s biological uncle. Talk about confusing the girl. “My uncle is my daddy”, Yeah, that would fly.”

Pushing her out of his embrace, Alex sat up, “Stop looking for excuses and admit that your scared”

Liz turned to face her best friend. “I’m scared. I’m scared of having my heart broken in a million pieces. I’m scared of telling him how I feel and having the awkwardness between us. I’m scared of all the same things I was scared of ten years ago.”

“At least this is a step in the right direction. Do you remember when we took Emily in for her first diagnostic? You were scared then too. You didn’t want to know but you realized that Emily’s life depended on it. You walked into the doctor’s office and heard her diagnosis. It was the worst news you could get but it was something you needed to hear so you could deal with it. This is the same thing. You don’t know if he has the same feelings. He might not, but until you know for sure, he’ll always be a ‘what if’. You need to tell him.”

“Maybe. After Emily.” Liz said

~*~*~*~*~*~

“Maria, did you bring extra juice?” Max asked his friend who was stocking the refrigerator with the essential Sunday fare.

“Yes, Max. For gods sake! Calm down!” She said exasperated by Max’s jumpiness.
“Well, there are more kids today. It’s always been just Sammy.” He said trying to justify himself.

“What? Maxie nervous?” Michael teased

“Shut up Michael, or it will be cold night in the Guerrin bed!” Maria yelled at her husband

“Look at him! You’d think he’s never been around a girl before!” Michael said pointing at Max who was glaring at him.

“She’s different!” Maria responded

“Guys. I am in the room you know!” Max finally chimed in hating how his friend talked about his love life, or lack there of, as if he wasn’t in the room.

“What are we talking about?” Kyle said walking in to the kitchen with a box of beer. Max stared at Kyle and then looked behind him wondering where he had come from.

“Maxie here, invited Liz over for the BBQ” Michael said helping Kyle put the box of beer on the counter

“Liz Parker? When did she come back? I thought she fell off the face of the planet years ago”

“Well, she’s back in town two days and Maxwell is a blubbering idiot” Michael replied, pulling the beer out of the box and placing them on the counter where Maria kept piling into the refrigerator.

“Again, I am here!” Max yelled out.

“So, what’s the deal, Max?” Kyle asked trying to get the full scope.

“Nothing, She came back on Friday and it seems she came back with Zan’s daughter.” Max said quietly

“Shit!” Kyle responded knowing how much that must have hurt Max. Max and Kyle became friends when they had been assigned as roommates during their freshman year in college. It was weird at first since they knew each other from their years at Roswell High but had never really been friends since they ran in different circles. Regardless, Kyle had discovered a great friend in Max and had been privy to Max’s heartbreak due to Liz Parkers disappearance.

“Oh, you’ve got to see her! Emily is such a cutie! And she looks so much like Max!” Maria squealed, “I mean she looks like Liz too but she has the Evan’s smile and Max’s eyes”

Michael and Kyle looked at each other and raised their eyebrows at Maria’s statement

“What? For gods sake! Zan and Max were twins! Of course she’ll look like Max!” Maria scolded the two that stood in front of her picking at the chips that lay open on the counter.

“Who looks like Max?” Sarah said walking into the kitchen with two plastic bags in her hands.

“Doesn’t anyone knock anymore?” Max asked as he walked past Sarah to lock the front door.

“Max, you never lock the door!” She told him as he past by her.

“We were talking about Liz and her daughter” Maria said happy to have another female in the house.

“Liz Parker? The lady I met yesterday?” Sarah asked interested in knowing about the woman who had affected Max so much the day before.

“So, you met her? What’s she like?” Michael asked hoping to get a less bias opinion

“She seemed nice enough. I really didn’t spend time with her, we were just introduced. She has a kid?”

“Max’s dead brother’s kid” Michael answered in an eerie tone.

“God, Michael! Can you be more insensitive? Where’s Sammy? Go get him” Maria yelled hoping that she could get him out of her face. Sometimes she just didn’t know what made her fall for Michael Guerrin.

“Holy Crap! So, the kid looks like Max?” Sarah said trying to digest the information she was given

“She looks like Max’s brother, who was Max’s identical twin. So yeah, Emily looks like Max.” Maria clarified

Max walked back in to the kitchen hoping they had moved past the Liz topic.

“Where’s Michael?” Max inquired noticing the missing body.

“He’s upstairs checking on Sammy” Maria answered

“Thank God!” Max said relieved that he didn’t have to deal with him for the time being.

“So, Is Liz still hot?” Kyle asked popping a chip into his mouth

“KYLE!” Both Max and Maria yelled

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Alex parked the SUV in the parkway of Max’s house.

“Sheesh. Max is doing well for himself!” Alex commented opening the back door for Emily to jump out.

“I guess so.” Liz said with a smile on her lips.

They walked up to the door and knocked.

The door opened abruptly and in the doorway stood a tall man. His hair was ash blond and was long enough to reach his shoulders. He had what appeared to be a piece of toast sticking out of his mouth and an infant in his arms.

“You’re not Uncle Max!” Emily said with her brows furrowed in confusion

Pulling the toast out of his mouth, Michael responded, “No, I’m not. I’m Michael, Maria’s better half and this is Sammy.”

“Nice to meet you Michael, and I’ll make sure Maria doesn’t hear about the better half comment” Liz said moving into the house and pecking Sammy’s check.

“How long have you been married to Maria? Wasn’t it something like 4 years?” Alex asked Michael as he passed him. “I would think you would know better”

Michael stood at the door with his mouth open, realizing that in a matter of seconds he had become vulnerable to these two strangers. He just had to learn to keep his mouth shut.

“Lizzie!” Maria squealed running up to her friend as she walked into the kitchen, which was their favorite hangout spot since the men always took over the family room.

“Hey Maria! It’s so good to see you again.” Liz said as she hugged her friend.

“Aunt Maria!” Emily yelled running to Maria

“Who do we have here? Is this the little angel I met yesterday?”

“That’s me!” Emily said proudly

“She said ‘Angel’, Em. That disqualifies you!” Josh said

“Stuff it Josh!” Emily sneered back.

“Hey, watch it Em!” Liz reprimanded

“He started” Emily whined giving Josh a death stare, while he grinned at her.

“Oh… these are the things I’m not looking forward to,” Maria said rubbing her small belly.

“Hey beautiful, do I get some lovin’?” Alex said as he stood next to Maria and wrapped his arm around her waist to pull her against him.

“Alex! Oh, God I’ve missed you!” Maria cried out pulling her friend into a tight embrace. “you look so good! If I knew you would fill out so nicely I would have waited to snag you”

“Hey! Husband on the premises!” Michael said walking in to the kitchen having recuperated fairly well from the earlier comments.

“Are they here?” Max said following Michael into the kitchen dragging Kyle behind him.

“We’re here!” Alex said opening his arms out in showmanship fashion

“Alex!” Max walked into the friendly embrace and smacked him on the back before pulling back “It’s great to see you!”

“Likewise!” Alex said as he moved forward to introduce himself to Kyle.

“Uncle Max!” Emily cried out as she ran up to Max and jumped in to Max’s arms.

“You must be Emily!” Max said lifting Emily effortlessly.

“That’s me! You’re so tall!” Emily said, turning to Liz, she asked, “Mommy, why does everyone look so tall in person?”

Liz approached her daughter smiling “Maybe the pictures were too small? Hey, Max.” she said shyly

“Hi Liz. Thanks for coming” Max replied in the same shy tone “That doesn’t look too bad” He said pointing to the small cut on her lip.

“The ice did the trick” Liz responded bringing her hand to softly touch her lip.

“Look Mom, Uncle Max has a lot of muscles! He works out! He’s really strong” Emily said poking at Max’s chest.

“Hey, what are you implying there?” Alex chimed in, walking behind Max and pulling at Emily’s braid “I’ll see who’s going to be carrying you up the stairs when you pretend to be sleeping”

“Ah, Uncle LaLa, You know you’re my favorite.” Emily said as she leaned back and took Alex’s face in her hands to place a chase kiss on his lips.

All the men turned to look at the scene and opened their mouths at the same time. “Uncle LALA?” a few seconds passed and then they all burst into laughter.

“Hey! No teasing!” Alex said as his checks flushed in embarrassment.

“Where the heck did that name come from?” Kyle asked as he walked over to say hello to Liz, whom he knew from many years ago.

“When Emily was a baby it was difficult for her to enunciate the name Alex, so when she started wording monosyllables Alex decided that Lala was close enough to his name. So every time Emily would say LALA, Alex would respond. It eventually stuck” Liz said as everyone started to move toward the nook area.

“Hey, at least mine was the first name she said after Mama” Alex said proudly

“I didn’t know that story. I thought it was because he always sang to her” Josh said

“That’s what he tells everyone else” Liz said smiling at Alex.

“Hey Josh. Nice to see you again” Max said ruffling Josh’s hair. Putting Emily down he asked “Are you going to show Emily the games from this morning?”

“Yeah!” Josh answered pulling on Emily’s arm so she could follow him to the Family room.

“What games? Who is playing games?” Kyle said perking up to the sound of his favorite pastime, after football that is.

Max rolled his eyes and pointed to the family room. Kyle rushed over and followed the kids out of the kitchen.

Maria looked at her husband who was giving her a pleading look and she shook her head, “Fine, give me Sammy, you can go too”

“Uuuu, that’s why I love you so much!” Michael said as he deposited the infant in his mothers arm and raced to the other room.

Liz wanted to die laughing until she eyed Alex walking backwards headed in the same direction. “Alex! Where are you going?”

“I think someone needs to watch Emily” Alex said before turning around and following Michael.

“Men!” Max said with a straight face. A few seconds later everyone burst out laughing.

TBC...

posted on 18-Nov-2002 5:34:42 AM by starlady
Hi all,

Thanks a ton for the feed back. I'm in a rush but I wanted to post this part before heading off to work.

There is still one more part to take place during the BBQ but I still having finished it.
Max is close in discovering Emily's paternity but as I said before he will have to be hit over the head w/ it. Be patient.

Enjoy.

BTW: Josh says Baka inthis part. It means idiot in japanese.

Now onto Ch 13b

~ Chapter 13b ~

“You know, I’m no child psychologist but I have to say, your lucky Alex is in there” Sarah commented returning from the family room where she went to supervise the ‘kids’. “Michael and Kyle are discussing a game where they get extra points depending on the body count”

“What?” Liz said ready to get up to see what was going on

“Oh, don’t worry. Alex has put in his two cents. I believe his words were ‘stop talking about that because Liz won’t let us play if she hears you’” Sarah said choking back her laughter

“Nice to see you haven’t lost your touch” Maria said to Liz.

Liz chuckled leaving a lingering smile on her lips. Max took it all in and silently sighed. Liz looked radiant. She wore a soft blue rayon summer dress with small yellow flowers. Thin straps held it on her petite form and the fabric was like a waterfall caressing her curves. Her hair was pulled back into a soft braid, which let strands of her long hair fall around her face. Her neck and shoulders were exposed because of the style of the dress and her skin looked flawless. It looked so soft, Max found himself fisting his hands under the table in an effort to keep them from stretching out to touch her.

Max suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking up he saw Sarah had moved to stand next to him.

“So Liz, How long will you be in town?” Sarah asked as she pulled Max’s thigh out from under the table and sat on it.

“I’m not sure yet, but definitely we’ll be here for the summer” Liz replied watching the red head sit in front of her on Max’s lap. Liz felt a surge of jealousy go through her at the level of intimacy Sarah was displaying with Max. Liz knew they weren’t together but she also knew that at one point they had been. She also knew that Sarah still harbored feelings for Max.

“What are you going to do about work? Do they let you just take off for that amount of time?” Sarah continued, oblivious of any discomfort she might be causing Liz.

“Well, I’m in my second year of residency and I had some people place some calls so I could work at Roswell Memorial while I’m here” Liz said as she watched Sarah fidget on Max’s leg

“That’s great Liz!” Max commented trying to get Sarah out of his line of vision. “So when do you start?”

“I’m heading over there tomorrow to report to my supervisor. We’ll see what they tell me when I get there”

“If Max could learn to keep his head screwed on properly I might be able to take a vacation” Sarah said elbowing Max in the gut so he would stop moving around. “God Max! Will you stop moving, I’m gonna fall off.”

“Here, sit on a chair!” He responded pulling out the chair next to him so she could move over.

Sarah got up and slapped his arm “Move over” she said pointing to the chair he had pulled out.

“I’m not moving! You sit over there!” Max replied staring at her in disbelief

“I want the edge,” She complained

Liz watched the whole argument with fascination. She could see the familiarity between Max and Sarah but the way he argued with her was more reminiscent of his banter with Maria. Sarah might have feelings for Max but it was clear Max didn’t see Sarah in that way.

Maria walked up to Sarah and putting a nickel on the table in front of her, she quietly said “Here, go get a clue!” then she stepped back to make eye contact with the girl and signaling to Liz and Max, who were back to staring at each other, Maria returned to the kitchen.

It then dawned on Sarah that she shouldn’t be so physical with Max in Liz’s presence. “Sorry” she said looking at Max and sat next to him. “Max is a great lawyer but his organizational skills are not the best” Sarah said continuing the conversation she was carrying before the seating problem.

“Think of it this way, If Max ever got organized you would be out of a job!” Maria added from the kitchen.

“You see, that’s where you’re wrong. If Max could get organized, I could probably get more of MY job done. You know, a Paralegal is not short for administrative assistant!” Sarah retorted

“You know, I think I’ve become invisible again” Max interrupted

Liz laughed at the scene. It felt so good to be back in Roswell. She had missed being around so many friends. Alex and Serena were always great to be with, and they had made sure to have their share of great times, but life was always running full speed in the city and here, it was just… Home.

Max got up and paused next to Liz on his way to the deck. He softly touched her arm with the back of his hand before he addressed her with a soft smile “I’m going out to the deck to start up the grill. It’s not like they’ll stop talking about me in my absence”

Liz nodded and continued to listen to Maria and Sarah discuss all Max’s shortcomings.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Emily padded her way out to the deck where she found Max pulling out some buns for hamburgers and laying them on the small table attached to the large grill. She stepped up on the bench that ran around the whole deck and hoisted her self to sit on the railing.

Max looked at the girl and smiled. She looked so much like Liz, he thought. She wore her hair in two french braids, but he could see it was soft and silky like Liz’s. Her frame was small and somewhat fragile. She wore a pair of floral denim short overalls with a cotton tank top underneath, which made her look younger than 9. She looked so tiny that Max felt like picking her up and protecting her from the world. The same feeling he got when looking at Liz. Emily was a small replica of Liz and it warmed his heart to see how comfortable she was around him. “What happened with the game? Got tired?”

“Playing with Uncle Lala and Josh is one thing, but those other two are too much! Especially that Kyle guy. He’s got Josh all riled up in there. Josh can be such a guy when he’s around people like that.”

Max giggled at the way Emily sounded so grown up in her observation. “So he’s not a guy when around you?”

Emily turned to look at Max “You know what I mean.” Grabbing a slice of bread from the table next to her, she looked at Max more closely. “Uncle Max…”

“Uhmm…” Max said busy pulling hamburgers from a plastic container

“Why are you not like that?” She asked quizzically

“What do you mean?” Max said raising his eyes to look at Emily

“You’re not like that… You’re not into games and sports and all the guy things”

“I like playing those games and I like sports and I do guy things…”

“Yeah but you’re not obsessed with them.” Emily clarified stuffing another piece of bread in her mouth

Max sat down on the bench next to Emily and thought about her question “I guess, I always found other things more entertaining. I like reading because it lets me use my imagination to conjure the pictures that authors paint, and I like running because it’s quiet and lets me hear my own thoughts more clearly. I like to talk with friends because it makes my life more full…”

Emily scooted down from the railing and pushed Max back a little so she could snake herself onto his lap. She turned in his lap to look at him. Taking his face in her hands she pushed his hair off his forehead and stared at him. “You’re like a chameleon, Uncle Max.”

“What do you mean, honey?” Max asked putting his arms around the little girl to support her.
“Mommy has so many pictures of you but you look different in everyone. You use to have blue hair” She said picking at a strand of his hair, “and you use to have hair on your chin” she said caressing his face once again. “I thought I wouldn’t know you if I met you. I’m happy I recognized you. I like how you look now. You look… happy.”

Max felt tears prick his eyes at the way Emily, who was merely a child, had analyzed his life through pictures. He tightened his arms around her bringing her against his chest. Emily wrapped her arms around his neck and laid her head on his shoulder “I feel happier now, Emily” Max answered.

“Uncle Max, Can I ask you something?” Emily said pushing out of his embrace.

“Sure” Max replied still taken aback by her earlier words

“I look like you. See… I have eyes like yours” Emily said opening her eyes as if the close proximity wasn’t enough for Max to see the color of her eyes. “Auntie Serena says she has never seen someone with eyes like mine, but you have the same as me.” Emily lowered her eyes and started to fidget with the buttons on her overall, “Mommy, brought us to Roswell to find my family. My daddy use to live here, you know.” Raising her eyes, she met Max’s penetrating stare, taking a deep breath, Emily asked, “Uncle Max, Are you my Daddy?”

Max thought his heart would jump out of his chest. It was beating so hard he thought people from all over Roswell could hear it. ‘God, I wish I was’ he thought, his breath caught in his throat as he took in the pleading look in the child eyes. A look that held so much hope. A look that begged for him to confirm what she thought was the truth.

“Hey, you two. Whatcha doing?” Liz said as she walked out on to the deck. She noticed the intense look Max and Emily shared before she saw Emily leaned forward and hug Max.

“It’s okay…. I love you anyway.” Emily whispered softly into Max’s ear before releasing him and wiggling out of his lap. “Mommy!” She said jumping into Liz’s arms.

Max sat there, shell-shocked.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Hey Max, Those burgers done?” Maria said as she walked onto the deck.

“Almost…” Max responded quietly. He still was far from recuperated from his interaction with Emily and fought a battle to act normal. It was obvious that Emily didn’t want Liz to know about her inquiries and it was also, plainly obvious, that Liz had not spoken to Emily about her father. Max just didn’t understand how Liz could have filled her daughter with splendid memories of her friends from Roswell but had failed to acknowledge Zan as part of her life here.

“Aunt Maria, you should hear me sing. I can sing in Japanese!” Emily announced from the comfort of her mother’s lap

“You can? How’d you learn to speak Japanese?” Maria said as she sat across from Liz.

“I watch anime!” She answered like that explained it all.

“Ok. I obviously am not in any more…. What’s anime?” Maria said hoping for some clarification

“Japanese Animation” Josh said strolling onto the deck

“Oh, like cartoons in Japanese” Maria said

Emily crinkled her brow in frustration “Not cartoons! They are not cartoons!”

Maria looked at Emily and caught sight of Liz shaking her head vigorously, letting her know this was not up for debate. “Oh…. Sorry”

“Just because it’s animated doesn’t make it a cartoon, Aunt Maria. They are in a whole different genre. Think sitcom vs. soap opera. Documentary vs. Feature Film. David and Goliath.” Josh tried to explain.

“OooooKaaayyy” Maria said. Turning to Emily again she asked “So, you learned Japanese by watching this anime?”

“Well, I don’t know a lot but I know some…. I like the music. I can show you.” Emily said trying to get out of Liz’s lap to proudly display her musical inclination to Maria who she knew shared a similar passion.

“I think we need to curb your excitement just a tad bit, don’t you think, little Lady?” Liz said holding her daughter tightly in her lap. Due to Emily’s medical condition she was not to over excite herself. These were times that Liz’s heart broke for her daughter. Through the years she had seen how much Emily had wanted to participate in many activities but was always limited because of her illness. The bad blood that coursed through her veins made the circulation of oxygen difficult and with the way her blood failed to produce platelets, any injury could lead to hemorrhaging.

Emily understood what her mother was telling her and settled back into her arms. “Maybe some other time…” She said quietly.

“Well, I’ll be looking forward to the show.” Maria said “In the mean time, how about we go out and have a dip in the pool before the burgers are done?”

“Can I, Mom?” Emily said once again excited

“Sure, but keep the splashing down to a minimum. The suits are in the car. Josh your crutches are there as well. The keys are in my bag.” Liz informed the kids that were already running into the house.

“Crutches? Who needs crutches?” Michael asked walking out onto the deck with a beer in his hand, followed by Sarah who held a squirming Sammy in her arms and Kyle who was munching on some tostitos chips.

“Josh lost his leg when he was 7” Liz informed the group

“What? He uses a prosthesis? He walks so well… “ Kyle noted, turning to look at the retreating figures of the children. Kyle had studied sports medicine in college and now was a physical therapist, so he was familiar with people who had gone through similar situations.

“You should see him running” Max interjected as he flipped the burgers that were cooking on the grill

“How’d it happen?” Michael asked, obviously affected by the news. He had just spent a couple of hours with one of the most delightful kids on the planet and to know that at such a young age he had suffered such a blow made him feel vulnerable.

“He had Neuroblastoma.” Liz said

“Neuro what?” Maria asked, shocked herself by the news. She had spent not just today with Josh but also yesterday afternoon and had not noticed anything different in the child.

“It’s a form of child hood cancer” Kyle informed them “Has he ever relapsed?” He asked Liz

“No, thank god! It was behind his knee. After the amputation, he went through some mild chemo to clear things up for sure but he was in remission within a few months.” Liz said recalling the day the doctor had given Serena the good news. Emily had gone into her first remission a few weeks after. They had been so happy.

“Poor baby. I can’t imagine what his parents went through” Sarah said, holding Sammy a little closer to her.

“It’s just his Mom. Serena is great.” Liz clarified

At that moment the kids returned to a somber group of friends.

“Where can we change, Uncle Max?” Emily asked, happy to be spending time in the pool. She loved the water and although she couldn’t swim, just splashing around was a delight.

“I’ll show them to your room Max, that way I can change in the bathroom down the hall” Maria said walking up to Sarah to retrieve her son.

“Great. Follow Aunt Maria, she knows where to go” Max said removing the hamburgers from the grill.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Emily walked out of the bathroom in Max’s room wearing a red Speedo swimsuit. “You should see that bathroom, Josh. It’s huge! I think it’s bigger than our room.”

“Were you snooping?” Josh asked in reprimand

“No…. Well… Just a little. He has a Jacuzzi tub and a separate see through shower stall. There TWO toilets! One flushes upside down! He has this huge closet with tons of suits!” Emily informed Josh trying to entice him into being her accomplice.

“You know you’re not suppose to snoop!” Josh said unmoving

“You’re snooping too!” Emily said pointing at the picture frame he held in his hand.

“This was on his nightstand, I didn’t go looking for it” Josh replied trying to save face, “It’s Aunt Liz”

“Let me see.” Emily said sitting next to him on the bed. The picture seemed familiar but they couldn’t pin point where they had seen it. Liz appeared to be sitting and Max was in back of her, both laughing and looking out beyond the edge of the picture.

“I know where I’ve seen this!” Josh said as if he had a breakthrough in his thought process “This is the picture Aunt Liz has in her room, but he seems to have cut out everyone else and left just Liz and him”

Emily looked at the picture more carefully and realized Josh was right. This was the picture taken the day of Alex’s graduation. “Why do you think he cut it?”

“Duh! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist. He has a thing for Aunt Liz.” Josh responded standing up to look around the room.

The room was situated next to the family room and was almost as big. It had a vaulted ceiling and a sitting room that was nestled in a bay area made out of glass. The room looked dark though because, long curtains, which gave the room privacy, covered the wall of windows. Josh moved over to the dresser that was directly across from the bed and picked up another picture frame. He saw Max surrounded by an older couple, that he could only assume were his parents and another lady that had short brown hair. It looked like a typical family portrait. Putting it down he picked up the picture next to it and he couldn’t believe what he saw. “There’s two of him!” he yelled to Emily who quickly put down the picture frame she was holding and ran over to his side.

Emily looked carefully at the photo he held. It was a picture taken the Christmas before Zan had died. Sitting in front of the Christmas tree were Zan, Max and Isabel, smiling straight at the camera. “Do you think, this might be him?”, Emily asked almost in a whisper.

“No. I still think its Uncle Max” Josh said, “Did you ask him?”

“Umhm.” Emily replied, “I don’t think it’s him.”

“It has to be. You saw him. You look like him. And what about the picture? He obviously has a thing for Aunt Liz.” Josh pointed out “Plus you’ve seen how Aunt Liz gets when she talks about him. It’s got to be him!”

“I don’t know… I look like him but there’s another one of him. I also look like this other guy. Which one do you think is Uncle Max?” Emily asked softly, trying to differentiate the two boys in the picture.

Josh looked at the picture carefully. “I don’t know.” He sighed. Moving over to the bed, Josh started to unbuckle the prosthesis he wore, “We’ll find out soon anyway.”

“Do you think he’ll want me?” Emily asked still mesmerized by the picture in front of her

“Oh! Baka! Of course he’ll want you” Josh said as he stood up assisted by his crutches and walked over to his friend. Grabbing the picture out of her hands, he said “What’s not to like? You’re a girl, so you have that sweetness factor in; you have good taste in music, good taste in movies and since you hang with me, you have also displayed a good taste in guys!”

“I’m sick” Emily said, not convinced by her friend’s praises

“You won’t be for very long.” Josh said quietly. “You’ll see. We’ll find a match here and then you won’t be sick anymore”

“You think?” Emily asked

“Of course. When have I ever lied to you?” He said pulling Em into a hug

“When you told me that the jelly bean wouldn’t get stuck up my nose”

“Um.. Ok.. but that was the only time”

“Na ah… You also told me….” Emily started to say

“FINE! Sheesh a guy can’t do anything right!” Josh said moving over to pick up his things from the bed.

“Hey, you guys ready?” Maria said as she opened the door to the room.

The kids nodded and headed out of the room.

TBC...

Next part: Max confronts Liz about Emily's knowledge of her paternity (or lack of knowledge)... Stay tuned!

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 18-Nov-2002 5:35:23 AM ]
posted on 20-Nov-2002 5:31:25 AM by starlady
Hi all,

I'm back w/ a new part.

I don't know when I'll have a chance to post again (I'm going to a wedding this weekend) but keep the feedback coming because it really inspires me.

Thanks again for supporting this fic and special thanks to hellolittlehayden who honored me by letting me be her first post back on the board.

On with the show...

~ Chapter 13c ~

“Liz, can I ask you something?” Max said taking advantage that everyone had scattered into all directions. Liz stood leaning against the railing looking out to the pool area where Emily sat on the edge of the pool talking to Maria and Sarah who were sunbathing, while Josh played in the water with Michael and Kyle. Sammy had gone down for a nap a little while ago and Alex was raiding Max’s kitchen.

“Sure” She said tuning to look at Max. She noticed he had been particularly quiet for a while and she wondered what caused his change in character. She found herself taking in his appearance. He looked so handsome. The blue khaki shorts showed just enough of his strong thighs to make her wish for more and the white t-shirt that clung to his torso made her recall all the flesh that had been on display this morning. His hair was long enough to have his bangs fall across his forehead, but still short enough to keep it neatly in place. She had always loved when he wore his hair like this. It made him look boyish and at the same time extremely sexy.

“Last night, I was a little shocked to take in a lot of what you told my parents” He started noticing her immediate discomfort on the topic “I was wondering what Emily knows about her paternity?”

Liz walked over to where Max had sat down. Sitting next to him, she responded, “She doesn’t know much. I never really talked about it. I guess… She never asked.”

“Why didn’t you tell her anything? You obviously went to great lengths to make us part of her life… Why didn’t you ever talk to her about Zan?” Max asked. He wasn’t trying to accuse her of cutting Zan out of Emily’s life but it was something that confused him and obviously was confusing Emily as well.

Liz took a deep breath. She knew this was eventually going to come. Max would hate her for not making his brother a presence in Emily’s life. “It’s not that I intentionally went about eliminating Zan from our life. It’s just… He was never in it…He… It’s difficult to explain”

Taking Liz’s hand in his he wrapped her arm around his and brought it up to his lips where he placed a small kiss on it. “Remember this morning when you told me it was difficult to talk about Zan because he was my brother?” Liz nodded and he continued, “Forget I’m Zan’s brother. Talk to me like I’m your friend. Just say it”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Having already devoured his share of the BBQ fare, Alex went off on a mission to marinate some meat to grill later on that evening. He felt great to be back in Roswell with friends and family. His parents had been overjoyed to see him yesterday. It had been awhile since he had visited and having him promise to stay for the summer made his parents ecstatic. Now in Max’s house, surrounded by his old friends, it felt like he had never left. He was lucky to have gotten, in the short time he had been with his company, in a position that let him work from home. It was a blessing really. When Emily relapsed he was able to fight Liz off of leaving her residency with the promise that he would stay with Emily when she couldn’t. He had been the first to cradle the child and the love he had for Emily was immeasurable. Alex knew his life was not something that most would choose but he was content, there was hardly any thing left for want. Hardly…

Alex knew it was easy to fall into the trap of domesticity. He live in a house with two women and two children. Both women shying away from love and all it’s entanglements and two children that were in need of a father in there lives. He just fit. He had dated a few times over the years but no one fit the bill, and there were very few women who understood his living arrangements and his commitment to Liz and Serena. They relied on him and he would never let them down.

After cutting all the spices and blending them in a bowl with a mixture of sauces, Alex grabbed a pack of pork chops from the freezer and set out to defrost and marinade them, when he heard a knock from the front door. Looking over to the deck he saw Max and Liz huddled together, Max held Liz’s hand in his and they seemed to be having a moment. Alex had no intentions of interrupting them. Wiping his hands on the apron he had put on earlier he walked towards the door.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Liz could still feel the softness of his lips on the back of her hand and the closeness of his body had her heart lodged in her throat. “It’s not that simple, Max”

“Why not?” He asked, “Just let it out. Liz, what are you afraid of?”

Liz took a deep breath and leaned into Max’s arm, resting her head on his shoulder “I’m afraid that you will think less of me. I’m afraid of losing your friendship, I’m afraid your reaction to everything that I do.”

Lifting his arm, he wrapped it around Liz’s shoulder and pulled her against his chest, “Why? Liz, you mean the world to me. My feelings for you have never changed and will never change.” He paused and then continued “It’s weird that you would say that because I have the same fear. So maybe we should stop being so afraid of the others reaction and just set everything out in the open?” He looked down at her and softly stroked her arm. With his other hand he pushed some strands of hair way from her face before lowering his lips onto her forehead.

Liz felt herself fall into a dazed state. She was so close to him, she loss all thought process. Looking up at him, she felt his breath caress her checks before he placed his lips onto her skin, burning the spot. She needed to get some space between them because she would not be able to say anything while he was this close. She carefully put her hand on his thigh and pushed some space between them before rising to her feet and taking a step away from him.

“Max, this morning I told you that I didn’t love Zan and that is true but it’s more than that. Over the years I realized I didn’t know Zan” Liz said trying to put her feelings for the father of her child into words.

“But you were with him for three years, you share a child together” Max asked confused

“No. I wasn’t with Zan for three years. I was with an illusion. I met him at a party and we started dating. He was never my friend. I never shared myself with him, well… except for the obvious way” Liz said looking out to the pool where Emily was now standing in front of Maria chatting away. “I kept feeding that illusion and I forced myself to deny what I knew was wrong. Zan’s death was a true wake up call. I didn’t react to his death how I was suppose to if I loved him the way I had convinced myself I did. I was forced out of the lie I had conjured up. I think deep down I was getting to a point where I knew it was ending but I just didn’t want to let go. It was my safe house. Anyway… I couldn’t talk to Em about Zan because I didn’t know him. What was there to tell her? What anecdotes did I have to share? At first she was too young and then she never asked so I kept putting it aside. I know it was wrong but I didn’t want to lie to her. Feed her stories of I man I never really knew. I just couldn’t”

Max got up and stood behind Liz and wrapped his arms around her shoulders pushing her against him. She lifted her hands and placed them on his arms, as she leaned back into him. “Do you hate me?” she asked “I feel like I used Zan and disregarded his feelings for me. Even if it wasn’t done consciously, I did use him at some level and I hate the way it makes me feel and I hate that I did that to your brother”

Max thought back to the conversation he had with Zan the day before he died,

“She doesn’t love me because she doesn’t know me. I’ve spent so much time trying to be who I wasn’t; I never gave her a chance to know who I was…..”

“Liz, Zan wasn’t a kid. He made his own choices and I can assure you he knew what he was doing while he was with you. I know you would never hurt anyone on purpose” Looking out to the pool Max asked, “What are you going to do about Emily?”

“I’m going to tell her. I want her to meet your parents. I’m hoping that between you and them, she will be able to get to know who was Zan.” Liz said

“You know they will want to meet her soon.” He said

“I know. I’m telling her this week.” Turning around to face Max, she said “I know I have no right to ask but I’m going to ask anyway… Would you talk to Emily if she has any questions about Zan? Your parents are so upset, I’m not very comfortable with their take on things right now, but you’ve been so great and Emily knows you as a friend, she trusts you. I trust you.”

‘She trusts you….’ Max thought. ‘How can she trust you when you haven’t been honest with her.’ Max took Liz’s hand and guided her over to the bench so she could sit down. Stooping down on one knee in front of her he said “First, I want to tell you that you can always count on me for anything, especially when it has to do with Emily.” Wiping the sweat from his hands on his shorts he took her hands in his again. “Liz, this morning, I was telling you something and I got interrupted. I really need to tell you this. I can’t accept your trust while I keep this from you.”

Liz nodded “Okay”

“You remember how I said that we needed to stop being afraid of the others reaction and just get things out in the open?” He paused a moment before continuing “Well, I’ve been keeping something from you for a very long time fearing your reaction. I should have told you as soon as it happened but I freaked out. I thought for sure you would hate me, never look at me the same way again and that thought terrorized me. It still scares me, but I have to get it out in the open. You need to know because it’s something that if left in the dark, eats away at you and I don’t want us to start off again with hidden truths. I want more, Liz. Now that you’re back I need to take a chance. I let ten years go by because I was afraid of taking the first step. I can’t risk another ten years. I’ll go crazy.”

Liz looked at Max with confusion in her eyes, her heart beating double time in her chest. She had no idea what Max was talking about and the thought that Max held a secret so big that it caused him to react this way, was frightening.

Max got up and pulled a chair from the patio furniture that decorated his deck. Sitting in front of Liz, he took a deep breath and continued his confession “Back when we were in high school, I had feelings for you….”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~**~*~*~*~*~*

Opening the door, Alex froze. There in front of him stood the reason domesticity was so appealing to him. The reason why he made Liz and Serena his comfort zone. The reason for his dysfunctional love life. “Isabel…”

Isabel looked at the stranger that stood in her brother’s door. He seemed vaguely familiar. She burrowed her brows in concentration when she finally recognized him. “Alex? Alex Whitman?”

Alex smiled “Yeah. Wow, it’s been a long time”

Alex took in the sight before him. Isabel looked mature. She wore her hair short and the golden color had been replaced by a soft brown tone. Her skin still looked radiant and although she looked thinner she still kept her figure as beautiful as ever. Isabel Evans was the woman of his dreams and his nightmares. He always held a crush for her but she never knew he existed. It fed on his insecurities like mold on an old piece of bread. He never felt good enough for her and eventually that feeling of unworthiness had destroyed most of his relationships. He avoided dating because it was the safest way to avoid rejection.

“What are you doing here?” Alex asked still in a state of shock

“Well, this is my brother’s house…. At least the last time I checked.” Isabel replied, a soft smile playing on her lips.

“Oh! Yeah, That’s right! I’m sorry” Alex answered feeling like a complete fool. “Come in.” He said as he stepped out of the doorway.

“Where have you been all these years? Max and you used to be pretty close back in high school.” Isabel asked stepping into the foyer and turning to address Alex. She took the opportunity to really look at the man that Alex had become. She noticed that the tall skinny, geek like boy had turned into a tall handsome man. Alex still wore his raven hair short but he seemed to have grown into his body. He had broad shoulders and his face was full. Although he wasn’t muscular he was not the boney boy that used to run after her like a puppy dog. He was definitely soft on the eyes.

“I live in Boston. I graduated from MIT a few years ago and work for a software company in Cambridge. How about you?” He asked as they walked back into the kitchen

“Oh, I work in social services. I work with families with dependent children. I try to help them get back on their feet and make sure the children are in the right environment.”

“Sounds like what Max does but with a spin” Alex commented as he stepped to the sink to wash his hands thoroughly.

“We actually work a lot with Max and the firm. They handle a lot of the cases of the more indigent. It gives them a fair chance against spouses that are better off than they are. So… Is there a Mrs. Whitman around?” Isabel asked wondering if Alex had been more successful at love than she had. Isabel had married six years ago just to have the marriage end in divorce after just four years. She was happy Jesse and her hadn’t rushed into having a family because it would have made the divorce more difficult. She had hoped he would become more family oriented after marriage but it turned out that Jesse needed an escort more than a wife. He was always working at the firm in hopes to make partner. When Max took his Bar Exam it just got worse. Jesse felt Max would automatically be up for the partnership, being Phillip’s son and he felt he had to work even harder to prove himself. This had caused great stress in their marriage. His days became longer and Isabel became more doubtful their marriage would survive. When she suggested marriage counseling after just three years, he refused saying there was nothing wrong with their marriage. A year later she requested the divorce. She felt like a failure in love but after talking to a counselor in her office, she realized that the failure was not hers alone and she started on the road to recovering from the fiasco that was her marriage.

“Nope. No Mrs. Whitman. No time to look, I’ve had my hands full with other projects. How about you? Are you still an Evans?” Alex asked feeling comfortable enough in the exchange to take the liberty of asking.

“I took another name a few years ago but it didn’t work out and I’m back to being an Evans” Isabel answered not wanting to get into details.

“Oh, sorry to hear that”

“Don’t be. I was young, had certain expectations and well… They weren’t very realistic” Isabel responded trying to justify her divorce.

“Still, I can’t imagine it being easy”

Silence ate at the air before Isabel broke its trance “So… Where’s Max?

“Oh. He’s grilling. Seems he has some type of get together on the weekends, so he invited us over” Alex said walking over to the French doors that led out to the deck.

Following Alex, Isabel commented, “That’s right! I forgot all about that. I hope I can drag him away for a bit, I really need to speak to him about some family stuff that popped up.” Stepping out onto the deck, Isabel froze in place when she saw Max talking quite intimately to the last person she thought she would see face to face. “You! What the hell are you doing here?” She said raising her voice in agitation.

Max turned around quickly to see who had, once again, interrupted him. “Isabel” He said getting up quickly when he saw the fire in his sister’s eyes. After last night, he knew that encounters between his family and Liz could easily get out of hand. “What are you doing here?”

“What am I doing here? What is she doing here? Don’t you know what she did to Mom and Dad? To us?” She responded not taking her eyes off of Liz who had stood up and was looking out at Maria to make sure the kids had not heard the loud voices.

Moving quickly past Max and Isabel, Liz said, “Maybe we need to take this into the house”

Noticing that this was turning into an encore of last night, Max quickly grabbed his sister by the arm and pulled her back into the house. “I think that’s a splendid idea” he said as Alex closed the French doors behind them.

“Let go of me! What has gotten into you?” Isabel yelled at her brother in frustration.

“Isabel, I have guests in my house and I don’t appreciate you making a scene!” He replied in a calm voice hoping Isabel would reply in the same manner.

No such luck.

“She’s your guest? After what she did to us? Wait a minute…” Looking at Alex and then at Liz, “You’re from Boston… You had been missing too… You’re with her!” She yelled at Alex “You just stood there talking to me like nothing was going on and all the while you were here with her! You helped her steal our niece away from us.”

“Isabel you need to calm down. No one stole anything.” Max said trying to reason with his hysterical sister.

“What do you call hiding the only thing that’s left of Zan? She took away Mom and Dad’s grandchild. She hid Zan’s daughter from her family” Isabel yelled pointing at Liz

“That’s not the way it is, Isabel and if you would calm down, maybe we could talk about it.” Max said trying to take Isabel’s arm so she would look at him. She had her eyes fixated on Liz and she was just getting more aggravated since Liz was not responding to any of her accusations.

Turning briskly to Max, Isabel said in a condescending tone “God, Max! She has you so wrapped up her web of lies you can’t see what’s right in front of you! Stop thinking with your dick and start seeing her for what she is!”

“ISABEL!” Max yelled, looking quickly over to Liz who was flabbergasted by Isabel’s outburst.

Alex walked quickly to stand beside Liz when he saw Isabel slip out of Max’s hold and walk straight up to her. “What is it Liz? Since Zan is dead you’re moving on to his brother?” Isabel spit out before Max could grab her again.

Liz took out her hand and with a quick spin slapped Isabel across the face. “You have no right to talk to me like that!” She said between gritted teeth. Max and Alex stood there frozen by the exchange but before anything could be said the French doors flew open and a pale Michael stood at the entrance.

“Liz! Something’s the matter with Emily!” He said out of breath

“What?” Liz said as she raced by him and ran out to the deck. Looking out to the pool she saw Emily sprawled out on the floor, Kyle leaning into her small body as Maria went into hysterics.

“She was singing and dancing one minute and the next she just passed out!” Michael informed Liz as she ran down the steps to the pool.

Turning to Alex she shouted “The car! It’s in the car!”

Alex immediately turned around and headed into to house. Isabel grabbed his arm before he went in.

“What’s happening?” she asked

“Let go!” he said as he tried to shove his arm out of her grasp

“No! What’s going on!” She demanded

“GET YOUR FUCKING HANDS OFF OF ME!” He yelled shoving her back forcefully.

Isabel stood staring at Alex’s retreating figure with her mouth wide open. She turned to find she was alone on the deck, everyone had run to the pool, so she made her way down to see what was going on.

When Liz reached Emily’s side she accessed the situation. Emily laid on the ground unconscious, her lips turning blue and her body cold. She looked as if she had just drowned but she was dry.

“I’m so sorry Aunt Liz!” Josh cried as Liz covered Emily with a blanket that rested on the lounge chair “I told her not to do it but she just got louder and louder. I tried to get her to stop, I swear, I did.”

Liz leaned over and grabbed Josh by both his arms to make him look at her in the eyes, “This is NOT your fault! I need you to get our things together. Do you think you can do that?” Josh quickly nodded and grabbing his crutches he moved out of the circle of people.

“Liz, she’s breathing but she’s still turning blue around the mouth” Kyle informed Liz

At that moment Alex came rushing back with a small tank of oxygen with a even smaller mouth piece attached to it.

Everyone stood back as Liz put the mouthpiece over Emily’s face while Alex massaged her extremities.

“Liz, has this happened before?” Max asked as he knelt down next to Liz. He dared to voice what everyone wanted to know. It’s not everyone that walks around with oxygen in his or her car.

“Emily has a condition where oxygen doesn’t flow well through her body. She’ll be alright, she just needs some help breathing, that’s all.” She responded trying to stay calm.

“Liz, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.” Maria sobbed, “She wanted to show me that Japanese song and dance routine. She kept on insisting and I just said it was okay. It was such a fast song and the words were just flying out of her. When she finished she passed out. Thank god Sarah was there and caught her on the way to the ground”

“It’s not your fault Maria, I should have said something before” Liz said trying to keep herself together.

After a few minutes of silence, the cough of an Angel made everyone sigh in relief.

“Em? Emily? Look at me…” Liz coached her daughter trying to get her to focus on her surroundings

Emily raised her eyes to look at her mother and realization hit her. Tears flooded her eyes as she let out a small wail “I’m sorry Momma! I… I’m sorry!”

Liz pulled her daughter into her arms and let the tears fall. “Shhhh… It’s okay. Don’t cry. Just breath…”

Max pushed Emily’s hair out of her small face. She looked so lost. It broke his heart. He looked over his shoulder and found Isabel standing off to the side. Her hand covering her mouth, trying to hold back the sob that accompanied the tears that streamed down her face. Turning back to Liz he placed his hand on her back for support before he asked, “Is she going to be alright?”

Liz nodded as she looked up at Alex “I think we need to go”

Alex immediately got up and took Emily out of Liz’s hold. He said nothing as he quickly stood up and walked towards the house with a frail Emily cradled in his arms.

“Liz, Please don’t go” Max said as Liz stood up and collected the small items that Josh had left behind.

“I need to go” Liz said

“Liz, do you think you should take Emily into the hospital to get her checked out” Kyle said, concern written all over his face

“No, everything is fine. She just needs rest” Liz said as she headed to the house.

“You can lay her down here. Please, Liz. Don’t go.” Max pleaded following her closely while everyone stood trying to make sense of what just happened.

Liz turned to look at Max when she reached the deck. He looked so desperate. “Max, I’m not going to disappear. I’m going home. Please, talk to Isabel about Emily. She needs to understand things.” Grabbing hold of his hand she brought him close to her and placed a soft kiss on his check. Stepping back, she said “I’ll call you. I promise. We still have a conversation to finish, right?”

“Yes” Max said

“So, please take care of things here. I can’t have Emily walking into a family feud. Do you understand?” Liz asked with a soft look in her eyes.

Max nodded. Emily was in a fragile state right now and Isabel had not shown the best restraint a little while ago. Liz needed to get Emily away from any excitement. “Please call me. We need to finish our talk.”

Liz nodded and with a quick glance out to her friends, she turned and walked away.

TBC...

Next chapter Liz admits to someone that Emily is ill and Max set's up a date to confess

See Note below on links to media for this fic

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 20-Nov-2002 11:24:30 AM ]
posted on 20-Nov-2002 11:22:39 AM by starlady
Hey all,

I've setup a page to hold some misc files for this fic.
If your interested in seeing the floor plan I used when I visualized Max's house I posted it there as well as the song Emily sang that caused the episode.

The song might not play by just clicking on it but if you right click and save target, then you'll be able to play it.

The site has a low bandwidth so if you get a message saying it has been exceeded, just try again later.

Enjoy!

Links Here

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 20-Nov-2002 11:28:20 AM ]
posted on 23-Nov-2002 7:08:23 AM by starlady
Hi all,

I'm off the this shing dig of a wedding but I was able to finish another chapter before going so I'm leaving it out here for your enjoyment.

Thanks for all the feedback you guys really inspire me to continue the story.

I know you all want Max & Liz to get things out in the open but keep in mind, Liz has been in Roswell just two days. I thought it was really too soon for things to be out in the open. I wanted them to spend time together before the secrets were revealed.

This chapter is transitional, so enjoy.

~ Chapter 14 ~

“Martha, Edward Ross in room 415 needs some blood work done. I put my specifications on his chart. Could you see to it that it gets to the lab? It has a priority request attached to it.” Liz told the middle-aged nurse that was assigned to one of the pediatric stations.

“Yes, Dr. Parker”

“Thank you” Liz said. She knew that many doctors didn’t acknowledge the work the nurses did and therefore Liz always made it a point to treat her nurses, as she would like to be treated, with respect.

“Liz?”

Liz turned to see Kyle walking up to her. “Kyle? What are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same thing but your scrubs tell me that you are working here” Kyle said, “I’m a contractor for the hospital. I work with about 20% of their cases.”

“Wow, that’s great! So, I’m going to be bumping into you often, huh?” Liz said with a smile. It would be nice to see a familiar face at work. Her work as resident demanded long hours and the days sometimes dragged on forever.

“Hope that’s not a problem” Kyle replied with a sideways glance trying to access the tone of her earlier comment.

“Don’t be foolish! It will be great having a familiar face around! I just put my last one to bed, would you like to get a coffee?” Liz offered handing the chart she had in her hands to a nurse.

“Love to! I just came by to check up on Sally in 442. She fell off her horse and it really did a number on her leg and shoulder” Kyle explained

“Ah! Cute little blond?” Liz said trying to remember the injuries of the 13 year old that was in that room.

“That’s her! Good kid. She was hoping to tryout for cheerleading this coming school year so she’s working really hard. Maybe too hard” Kyle said recalling the earlier session he had with the girl “By the way, I have something in the car for Josh and Emily”

Liz smiled “You didn’t have to get them anything.”

“I know but I saw how Josh was really excited about the new Ninja Scroll game that we have at Max’s and I thought he would like one of his own. Since I was at the shop getting something for Josh I thought it fair to get something for Emily as well. Those kids grow on you, fast!” Kyle said smiling at Liz as they reached the cafeteria.

“I’m happy you got to meet them. They are quite a pair.” Liz said grabbing a mug and filling it with coffee.

“How is Emily?” Kyle ventured to ask

“She’s fine. It’s not the first time it’s happened and well we tend to be prepared” Liz said trying to dismiss the incident so Kyle wouldn’t ask any further questions.

Kyle paid for his coffee and walked over to a table close to the windows that looked out to a inner courtyard. “Liz, I don’t mean to be a meddling jerk, I know we were never really close in high school and all but I need to tell you that I know what’s ailing Emily. I’ve been around the oncology dept enough to know the symptoms.” Looking up to ascertain Liz’s reaction he continued “the way you and Alex worked together, the way it happened, the bruises I caught sight of… I just want you to know you can talk to me.

Liz sat in front of Kyle with her mouth open. She had never expected anyone to figure out Emily’s illness by just that episode and yet here was Kyle telling her that HE knew, ‘Maybe he doesn’t really know’ Liz thought. “What do you think you know?” Liz asked trying not to express her rising panic. She knew eventually everyone would know but she had wanted to tell them herself.

Kyle looked at her and lowered his eyes to the coffee in his hands. “I’m sorry Liz, I overstepped my bounds”

“No… Tell me. What do you think you know?” Liz insisted

“I know you were truthful in telling us that Emily has a condition where oxygen doesn’t flow well through her body. I think that what you failed to mention was that it was just a symptom of something bigger. I think that it’s not a coincidence that her best friend is a juvenile cancer survivor. I think that the bruises that were on her lower back and calf are just another symptom of her illness and I think you’re being foolish in thinking that I’d tell anyone when it’s obvious you don’t care to share Emily’s illness with anyone”

Liz looked at Kyle and knew that there was no hiding it. He definitely knew. “She has MDS. She’s getting supportive care right now.”

“I’m sorry.” Kyle said. Deep down he had hope he was wrong and to have Liz confirm his thoughts was disturbing.

“She was originally diagnosed when she was five. Josh was her roommate. Serena and I just kicked it off. She was a single parent as I was and it seemed our children shared the same fate. We needed each other and after the kids went into remission, Serena and Josh became a permanent fixture in our lives.” Liz started to say “Emily has fallen out of remission twice. This last time her doctors gave her round of chemo but all they did was stabilize her enough to go on with supportive care. We were scheduled to go up to Albuquerque every two weeks for transfusions but with yesterday’s incident we decided to take her up today to have her checked out. Alex took her this morning.”

“Are you going to tell them?” Kyle asked

Liz knew exactly whom he was talking about. “Yes. I just wanted them to meet her first. I didn’t want them to see her as this sick kid. Emily is so much more than her disease.”

“That’s obvious!” Kyle smiled recalling the looks he got from her when they were playing. “I don’t think she likes me very much”

“Nonsense! Why would you say that?” Liz asked confused. She had thought they got along great.

“Well, when we were playing with the playstation, we were acting a little too… hmm... How can I put this… a little too much like guys and I think Emily didn’t like us too much”

“Emily was just jealous. It’s usually just Josh and her against Alex. She tends to get a little jealous when Josh finds other male friends. He is very reserved and I had never seen him so comfortable around other people as I saw yesterday. He really took to you and Michael”

“He’s a good kid.” Kyle said, “So, Emily is going to be treated in Albuquerque?”

“Yeah…” Liz sighed. Raising her eyes to look at Kyle “We’re down to the wire. I need to find her a donor…”

“Is that why you came back?” Kyle asked

“You know, that’s another reason why I am waiting to tell everyone. I don’t want everyone to think that was the only reason I returned. Use ‘em and Lose ‘em type of deal” Liz took a deep breath and continued “This situation just prompted my return sooner. I wanted to finish my residency before returning but I… Emily couldn’t wait.”

“You need to tell them. Soon. Real Soon.” Kyle said. He had been friends with the gang for over 9 years now and he had a good idea how they all thought. He knew that they would feel betrayed, yet again, to find out Liz had kept something this big from them.

“I talked to Alex about it last night. I’m telling them this coming weekend.” Liz assured Kyle. They had thought of doing it during the week but with her starting to work, their schedule was dictated by the hospital. The first full day she would have off was Sunday. “You know, Kyle, It would be great if you could be there. It would help to have someone there that’s familiar with the illness. I mean, if you feel comfortable about it.”

“I… Um… Do YOU feel comfortable having me there? I mean we’ve never been close or anything and these are your closest friends and family” Kyle asked floored that Liz would ask him in the first place.

Extending her hand to cover his, Liz said “Kyle, they consider you one of their closest friends. I trust their judgment in people. By default, you have now become one of my closest friends. You are very welcome to come. As I said, it would be actually quite helpful.”

Kyle felt a little awkward but accepted the invitation.

“Here is my address.” Liz said handing him a small piece of paper “I’m going to be held prisoner here for most of the week, maybe we can have lunch sometime?”

“That would be nice.” Kyle said getting up from the table. They had been talking for a while and he needed to get to the local school to do his rounds through the athletic teams. Amongst other things, Kyle made sure the kids used the proper gear and he gave them talks on proper exercise to avoid injuries. The kids at the school came to see him as a second coach. They really looked up to him, which was something Kyle was very proud of. Being able to spend time with the kids was one of the reasons he had opened his own practice a few years ago. He wanted to be able to do more for the community. Turning to Liz before he left, Kyle said “Liz, call Max. He was kind of freaked out last night after you left.”

“Um… Sure. I told him I would call but I need to call Maria to get his number. You wouldn’t happen to have it by chance?” Liz asked hopefully. Yesterday had not ended as she had hoped and the last thing on her mind was asking Max for his phone number.

“Here,” Kyle said, leaning on the table and scribbling out several phone numbers on a napkin “he’s probably in the office now, so I added that number as well.” handing her the napkin, he continued “They really missed you Liz. Be careful. I would hate to see either of them hurt.”

“I would never intentionally do that,” Liz said

Kyle smiled at her “Let me go to the car and get you those games for the kids”

“You know… Josh is at the Crashdown and he should be bored out of his mind. Do you have time to drop them off? I’m sure he would really like the conversation.” Liz asked

“Um…” Kyle thought of his schedule a moment and then decided that these were the days he was happy he was self-employed. “You know, that sounds like a good idea. Thanks Liz.”

“Thank YOU, Kyle.” Liz said before turning to head down the corridor back to the pediatric wing.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

It was a little over two hours later that Liz found another short break between patients. She quickly closed the door to the office that had been assigned to her earlier that day. She had made a mental note to bring in some personal effects to make the cold office reflect more of her own personality. It was a small office but it was more than what she got at the hospital in Boston and she knew she was going to be spending a lot of time here. Liz wanted to make the office more of a home away from home.

Quickly retrieving the napkin she had safeguarded in her pocket, she dialed the number to Max’s office.

“Evans & Associates, How can I direct your call?” A voice said.

“May I speak to Max Evans?” Liz asked

“Do you have an appointment with Mr. Evans?” Was the response

“Um, no. I told him I would call but… This is a personal matter.” Liz said straightening up and making sure she sounded more self-assured

“Who may I say is calling?”

“Dr. Elizabeth Parker” Liz said, hoping the doctor title would get her through the door.

“Please, hold”

Liz sat there listening to the sax of Kenny G for what seemed like an eternity, when she finally heard a click on the line.

“Liz?” Max said in a voice that clearly showed he was out of breath

“Max?” Liz asked

“Yeah.” He said sitting at his desk. Max had been in the archive room trying to gather some telephone records he needed for a case when his secretary had informed him of the call. He had run to his office to answer the call and was still slightly out of breath.

“Oh, thank goodness. I thought for sure I wouldn’t get through. Your secretary sounds more like a warden.” She said as a small smile danced over her lips

“So, it’s Dr. Elizabeth now? Or was that just to get you through?” Max teased

“Well, a girl has to do what a girl has to do!” Liz replied

“Liz, you don’t have to resort to that. You always are master to my attention” Max said flirtatiously

“I’m happy to hear that, but now, could you inform Mrs. Warden the secretary?” Liz laughed

Her laughter tickled his soul as he imagined her smile and the light in her eyes. “I’ll make sure she knows… How are you?”

“I’m fine. Thank you. And you?” she asked

“Better now that you called” He said

Was he flirting with her? She asked herself. She had never known Max to be so forward and was quite taken aback. Then she remembered their unfinished conversation and the few words he had actually gotten to say ‘I had feelings for you….’ Liz wondered what was to follow those words. “I did promise, didn’t I?” she replied softly.

“Yes, you did.” Max sighed, “How’s Emily?” Max said after a long moment of silence.

“She’s fine. Thanks for asking. Um, that’s one of the reasons I called” Liz said brought back to reality

“So you didn’t call to hear my voice?” Max said playfully. He was happy Emily was doing well. He had been beside himself with worry the day before and to hear Liz tell him that Emily was better soothed away some of his concerns.

“Well… yes, but your voice is not enough. I need to see you” She said following his lead.

“Whenever and wherever!” Max continued teasing, wondering where he had gotten the nerve to say half of the things that were flying out of his mouth.

“Max, your terrible!” Liz said completely flushed in embarrassment, “I was hoping you could come by the house on Sunday”

“That’s almost a week away!” Max said dejected

“I’m sorry. I’m just really up to my neck in work.” Liz said “My first real break isn’t until Friday where I’ll have a nights rest and then I don’t have to come in until 2 the next day. But I have to work until 11 on Saturday before I get Sunday and Monday off. Did that make sense?” Liz asked a little confused herself.

“Yeah. Basically you have a breather on Friday but your not free until Sunday.” Max clarified

“Damn, your good.” Liz said laughing

“You haven’t seen me at my best yet” Max said, taking every opening he could get to through a flirt her way. “What do you want to do on Sunday?”

“Actually, I’m having everyone over. I hope your parents can come, as well as Isabel.” She said seriously.

Max straightened in his seat. “Is this about Emily? Um, I’m sure they can come over on Sunday.”

“Good. Yes. I need to talk to everyone about Emily and some things I want everyone to know.” Liz said dancing around the issue.

“Can we talk before then? Lunch? A quick Dinner?” Max asked hoping to get some alone time to finish his talk with Liz.

Liz wanted to see Max before Sunday but her schedule was so difficult and the little time she had free she needed to spend at home with the kids so Alex could get a break. “I squeeze in lunch when I can and the day I have free for dinner I really need to spend it with the kids. Do you mind spending the evening at home? You could come around Friday… If you want… Um… I’ll probably be dead tired but I would love it if you came by”

Max took just a moment to think about her proposition. “Yes! I would love to come by. I’ll look forward to it.” Yeah, he wouldn’t be able to finish his talk with Liz but he would still be able to be with her and he would take anything she allowed. Deep down, Max also wanted to see Emily again. Even thought Liz assured him she was fine he was still concerned for her. The child had pulled a tight rope around his heart and was tugging at it with all her might. Thinking about his talk with Liz and how he really needed to talk to her about what had happened between them so many years ago, he ventured to ask for even more time. “You said you got out Saturday and were free for a couple of days? How about I pick you up after work on Saturday and we can have dinner?”

“I’d love to but I get out at 11:00 at night” Liz said

“Oh, yeah. You said that. Well, hopefully you’ve eaten by then but can I still pick you up? I just really want to finish our conversation. I swear I’ll have you home by midnight.” Max asked desperately.

Liz knew that whatever he wanted to tell her was very important to him. He had started this conversation twice already. It was only fair that she allow him to finish it. “OK” she agreed.

“Wonderful!” Max said. He was ecstatic. In less than 20 minutes he had gotten two dates out of Liz. Well… They weren’t really dates but he could pretend “So where are you staying”

Liz told him how to get to her rental and agreed to have Max bring over Chinese food and a movie for the evening before she bid him farewell.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Entering the Crashdown, Kyle looked around to see if he saw Josh in any of the booths.

“Good Afternoon, Kyle. Nice to see you around.” Jeff Parker said surprised to see Kyle in the restaurant. Kyle was not keen on fast food and rarely dropped by with out a purpose and the way he was looking at the booths told Jeff, Kyle was there for a reason.

“Hi, Mr. Parker. I bumped in to Liz at the hospital today and she told me I might find Josh here.”

Jeff smiled. Right once again! “He’s in the alley shooting some hoops. Why don’t you go on through the backroom”

“Thanks!” Kyle said walking through the swinging doors in the back of the restaurant.

Kyle opened the door that led to the alley. He didn’t know there was ever a hoop in the alley, but then again this was not his usual hang out place. The basketball hoop was prominently displayed attached to the side wall. It seemed that the end of the alley opened up to a circular area, almost like a cull de sac. From the street you would never notice the area, which gave it even more privacy. At first Kyle didn’t see Josh but after a few seconds, he heard the soft pounding of a ball on the concrete ground. Walking a little further away from the door, Kyle found Josh seated on the floor next to one of the dumpsters, just bouncing the ball off the ground.

“Hey, you!” Kyle said

Josh looked up in surprise “Mr. Valenti! What are you doing here?” He said trying to get his footing to stand up.

“Sit, sit.” Kyle said trying to avoid bothering the young lad. “And you better call me Kyle because there already are two Mr. Valenti’s in this town. My grandpa and my father. It doesn’t need another”

Josh smiled.

“So, What ‘cha doing?” Kyle asked sitting next to Josh

“Nothing” Josh answered quietly

“Looks like you were doing something” Kyle said grabbing the basketball out of Josh’s hands “Shooting hoops maybe?”

“Um…. I just found the ball in the backroom and Mr. Parker said there was a hoop back here” Josh replied “I really don’t know how to play… I… I had never tried”

“Hey, I was never good at the sport either. I went with football when I was in school. Nothing better than to get permission to pummel your classmates” Kyle said with a smirk

Josh chuckled. “I can’t really do any sports” he said seriously.

“Well, I hear that’s not true. The way I hear it, you give Liz quite a run for her money jogging in the mornings” Kyle said recalling how Max had told him about Josh’s ability to run.

“That’s nothing,” Josh said dismissing the compliment.

“What do you mean nothing? Give yourself the credit you deserve. Not everyone can run and not everyone can do it as well as you” Kyle responded.

Josh stayed quiet.

“I got you something” Kyle said pulling the small bag out from the inside pocket of his jacket. Placing it between them he put up a challenge. “It’s a PSA game like the one we were playing at Max’s yesterday. But I’m hoping we can sink ten shots at that hoop before I give it to you.”

Josh looked at Kyle with eyes full of anger, “I can’t believe you’d do that! I just told you I suck at the game and now you dangle a game in front of my face just to take it away. Keep the game!” Josh spit out as he started to stand.

“Hey, Hey!” Kyle said grabbing on to Josh before he left “I didn’t say I wasn’t going to give you the game. The game is yours whether you take the shots or not. I just thought we could work on your shot together. You’ll never learn to play unless you practice and I could definitely use the practice myself. Ten shots in the hoop is all I’m up for though. I am getting old.” Kyle smiled hoping Josh would reconsider leaving. He hadn’t expected Josh to react the way he did. The child seemed so comfortable with himself.

“I can have the game, regardless?” Josh asked skeptically

“Yup.” Kyle replied

A few moments passed in silence while Josh weighed the offer

“Do you know how to play?” Josh asked, as if measuring up the competition.

“I’m not an expert but I’ve played enough to get my butt kicked by Max several times” Kyle admitted

Another moment of silence passed between them.

“Okay” Josh finally conceded, grabbing the basketball out of Kyle’s hand and running over to the hoop.

Kyle got up off the ground feeling quite content with spending the next few hours in the company of an exceptional child.

TBC....
Next Part... Max spends time w/ the family and will he have a chance to tell Liz the truth? Keep in eye out for the next chapter.
posted on 2-Dec-2002 9:37:31 AM by starlady
Hi guys.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday (for those of you in the US).
I'm really sorry I'm taking so long with the next part. It's definitely giving me a hard time. I've known how I want this conversation to go almost from the moment I started writing this fic. It's hard to put on paper the picture I have in my mind.
I'm having problems with the details. It's really important to get the details right because what I write today can come to bite me in the butt tomorrow by closing doors to plot twists or just by making the rest more difficult to write because you need to write upon the foundation I lay today.

Anyway.... I'm still struggling with the part and will post it as soon as possible.

A couple of spoilers....
Eccentric One: Yes.. you guess'd my idea to the dime. Now, shhh... *wink*

And for those that suspect I'm setting up the stage to give Kyle a Significant Other... *happy* shhh you too!

See you soon (I hope)
~S
posted on 8-Dec-2002 5:58:24 PM by starlady
Hi Guys,

I'm back and although I'm not back w/ the part you want, I am posting part 15. I know you have waited forever for the confession but you will have to wait another day. I have finally finished writing it but I haven't finished typing it and since I really wanted to post a new part before the end of the weekend I'm posting Chapter 15 to tide you over.

There are a few that asked what is MDS. It will be explained in Chapter 17 when Liz tells Max and everyone else about Emily's illness.

Chapter 15 is pretty much fluff but I wanted Max to spend a night as part of Liz's family before he tells her the truth. Plus this chapter was completly inspired by my daughter. Liz's pants, the conversations between Max and the kids and even the anecdote about the bookstore, are all based on true happenings in my household.

One more thing... THANKYOU! Thank you all for all the bumps and feedback and a special thanks to those that nominated this fic for the Best Fic based on a challenge and all the other categories. It's humbling to see my name up there with authors who's work I have admired. To know someone looks at my work, as I look at those other writers... Well, it's really something. Thanks!

Enjoy this and look out for the next part either tomorrow or Tuesday.

~S

~ Chapter 15 ~

Max stood nervously in front of the door to Liz’s house. He had been counting the days until Friday since he had spoken to her and now that it had arrived he felt all his anxieties pop up. He didn’t know why he felt that way. It was as if being in her presence made him feel like a teenager all over again and it was not a time in his life he really wished to relive. What was even weirder was that it was all in anticipation to seeing her, because when she was around she seemed to calm him. Well… Calm him of the anxieties of an 18 year old. He was then left with the insecurities of a 28 year old and the stuttering of a 28 year old and let’s not forget, the horniness of a 28 year old. Yeah… he was a mess regardless of the age.

Knocking at the door he heard a shrill of excitement come barreling down what he could only assume was a hallway, based on the way the voices carried. A few seconds later the door swung open and he felt Emily throw herself at him.

“Uncle Max! You’re here!” Emily yelled as she hugged Max’s waist.

“Hi beautiful!” Max said bending down to lift her into his arms. It still floored him how tiny she was for a nine year old.

“Emily Marie! Stop the running and let the man in! Especially since he comes bearing our next meal!” Alex said taking the shopping bag that held the food out of Max’s hands so he could support Emily better. Extending his hand, he addressed Max “Hi Max. It’s great to see you again”

Max smiled at Alex and shook his friends hand. “Thanks for having me over”

Closing the door behind Max, Alex took the opportunity to tease his friend “Well, you know I really didn’t want to have you over but Liz insisted, and since you were bringing Chinese I thought I could put up with you for a night”

“Uncle Lala! That’s mean!” Emily said not understanding the sarcasm in Alex’s words.

“Don’t worry Emily, It’s not like I came here to see him.” Max teased brushing his nose against hers.

“Who did you come to see?” Emily asked hopefully

“Why, the beautiful women of this household of course!” Max replied as he followed Alex down a short hallway and entered a huge open floor design home.

Max took in his surroundings and was surprised at how big the house looked. From the outside the house seemed small. It had a two-car garage but it had a small porch that led to the front door. The inside of the house was another story. The open-floor plan made the house look very spacious. The entrance was a short hallway that led to the main part of the house. To his immediate right was the bar to the kitchen area. Instead of counter space under the raised bar area, it held the sink, so whoever was washing the dishes was facing the people sitting in the bar stools. In back of the sink there was a small island made of butcher block. Against the wall shared with the hallway were the refrigerator and some cabinets. Opposite the huge appliance was a long counter that held a black top stove with a microwave oven above it. The cabinets that adorned the walls where of a cherry color and it gave the kitchen a homey look. The last wall of the kitchen was the one facing the porch of the house and it had two large windows that lit up the whole area.

Turning toward the rest of the house, Max saw that the house had cathedral ceilings, which gave more to the sense of openness. Another hallway and a large staircase was found to the left of the huge area. The kitchen bar stools were next to a wicker dining room set and looking beyond the dining area he could see the family / living room were Josh sat on a overstuffed arm chair.

“Hi Josh.” Max said waving at the boy that seemed mesmerized by a handheld electronic game.

Looking up from his Gameboy Advance, Josh smiled “Hey, Uncle Max!” he offered before bringing his eyes back to the small screen in his hands.

“Nice place you have here” Max said turning to Alex.

“Yeah, it was perfect. Down that hallway is my room and Liz, Serena and the kids sleep upstairs.” Alex said as he pulled Max, who still held Emily in his arms, more into the house, as if to show him something. After they passed the dinning area and the stairs, Alex turned Max to face the entrance of the house. Max now could see the hallway of the second floor, which was open to the Living room area. The layout of the house was quite marvelous. “It’s great to keep tabs on the kids, there’s no place to hide” Alex said with a smirk as he pinched Emily’s nose.

“Got that right,” Emily said somberly as she wiggled out of Max’s arms and moved to the living room sitting amongst a pile of books and a bunch of CDs.

Max smiled and moved to follow Alex back to the kitchen area. “So, where’s Liz?” he asked

“She got off around 5 and fell asleep. She just woke up a little before you got here and so she jumped in the shower. She should be down in a bit” Alex informed Max as he pulled out some paper plates and utensils from one of the cabinets.

Taking advantage that they were alone Max said “Hey, Alex. I wanted to apologize for what happened in my house on Sunday. Isabel was really out of line.”

Alex continued to setup dinner as he responded “Max, man. Don’t apologize for something you didn’t do. You were a great host. You can’t control what your guests do. Anyway, I don’t blame her. She was a little harsh but I... I don’t know… it’s a tough situation”

“Yeah… I talked to her and she‘s just really confused right now.” Max said

“How are your parents dealing?” Alex asked leaning against the counter to give Max his full attention

“They’re better. I think they have absorbed it and are ready to be grandparents. She’s just such a great kid…” Max said looking out towards the kids. “They both are.”

“Yeah… They are.” Alex agreed following Max’s gaze “I hope all goes well on Sunday” he said nonchalantly.

Max turned to look at Alex who had a far off look on his face. “Yeah. What’s this big get together all about? Maria told me she was coming over as well. I thought the meeting was just to talk to my family? You know… about Emily.”

Alex looked like a deer caught in headlights. “Um… Well… I think Liz needs to tell you about the meeting. I… I don’t think it’s my place.” He responded moving about the kitchen trying to find anything to do so he wouldn’t have to look at Max.

Max took in Alex’s reaction and concern marred his features. “Okay… I… I guess I’ll ask her”

“Yeah! That’s a good idea.” Alex said breathing a sigh of relief that Max didn’t push the question “Um, I was in the middle of printing some work out. Do you mind if I run in to finish that? Liz should be down any minute now. I just have a deadline for tomorrow and as it seems I’m going to have to forgo the movie time for some crunch time at my workstation.”

“Sure, go ahead. I’ll hang with the kids for a bit”, Max said looking to the living room.

“Thanks man!” Alex said slapping Max on the back before disappearing into the hallway next to the staircase.

Max walked over to the living room and sat on the sofa. Josh still retained his original position, lying on the armchair to Max’s left with his feet dangling off the side of the chair, a look of concentration on his face as he pushed small buttons on his game. Emily sat on the floor with her books laid out on the coffee table and earplugs blaring some song in her ears.

Max looked more closely at what Emily was reading, “So, you like comics?” He asked her

“Manga”

Max knew Emily had not answered since she probably couldn’t hear him over the music coming through her CD player. Looking up at Josh, Max noticed he hadn’t moved either.

“Did you say something?” Max asked Josh

Not flinching a muscle, Josh said “Manga”

“What?” Max asked again, clueless to what that one word meant and why Josh kept repeating it.

Josh lowered his game exasperated and looked at Max “Manga, she’s reading mangas not comics. DC and Marvel put out comics. Tokyo Pop and Clamp, they put out mangas”

“Oh!” Max looked back at Emily “Is that why she’s reading them backwards?”

Josh smiled and shook his head slightly “Uncle Max, Japanese books are read from right to left.”

Leaning in to look at the book more closely, Max commented “But, the books are in English”

“Real manga is written in the Japanese style and so it’s written to be read from right to left. If not it would just be a cheap translation” Josh clarified

“I see.” Max said still a bit confused

“Just don’t let her catch you calling it a comic” Josh warned

“Gotcha! So Josh, How have you been?” Max asked trying to make conversation

“Good. Kyle got me a copy of that game you have. He taught me how to play basket ball too.”

“You like playing?” Max asked

“I had never really tried. I couldn’t really move right in the court” he said patting his leg “so I kinda stayed away from it. Kyle showed me how to distribute my weight better so my leg will move better in the quick turns. Now I can jump and play good” Josh said proudly

Max was really happy that Kyle took time to help Josh. “So when are we going to play?”

“Kyle says you’re brutal. I don’t think I’m ready for that” Josh responded honestly

“Who? Max? Brutal? I’ve kicked his butt a few times on the court,” said a voice from behind them.

Max stood and turned to see Liz walking towards them and his breath caught in his throat. She wore a pair of gray sweatpants that barely hung from her hips. The blue tank top she wore, not only revealed she had no bra on, but also had rode up her midriff when she raised her arms to pull her hair out of the towel she had twisted on her head. She looked completely relaxed and… edible. Max face flushed as he saw the expanse of skin revealed before him and he was very happy he had decided not to tuck in his shirt. He stood there mesmerized as her wet hair fell out of the towel and the room suddenly filled with the scent of strawberries. Max let out a soft sigh.

“Max? Are you okay?” Liz asked feeling a little self conscious with the way he was looking at her.

“Y… Yeah. I’m sorry. I didn’t expect to see you there” He stuttered out.

Emily who pulled out of her reading, looked over at Josh and they both raised their eyebrows, taking in the scene in front of them.

“…And you won ONE game against me, when I was sick!” Max continued trying to cover up his ogling from earlier.

“Um humm… Whatever you say Max.” Liz teased; turning to the kids as she combed out her hair, Liz asked, “Where’s uncle Lala?”

“He’s in his room. He had to finish that thing he has to hand in tomorrow” Josh responded

“Okay. I’ll go get him. You two get ready for dinner” Liz turned to Max who was once again staring at her “I’m sorry I took so long. I’ll get Alex so we can eat”

Max smiled and nodded in acknowledgment. He watched Liz turn and head toward the hallway that led to Alex’s room. That’s when his jaw dropped. There, on the seat of her pants, printed in navy blue, were the words, Just Do it! Max’s eyes became glued to the words and continued to stare in the direction she walked long after she was no longer visible.

“Uncle Lala got them for her last mother’s day” Josh said as if he knew exactly what Max was staring at.

Max turned and looked at the kids, who seemed riveted by his reaction “What did he get her?” Max asked innocently.

“The sweats” Josh answered gesturing with a small flick of his head toward the direction Liz had gone.

“Oh!” Max said turning again to look toward the hallway “They’re… nice…”

Emily and Josh exchanged another look before Emily asked “Uncle Max. Are you Hentai?”

Max turned to look at the kids again. “What?”

“You know, hentai?” She reiterated

Max stared at Emily for another second before turning to Josh, who seemed to be expecting a response as well. Shacking his head he shrugged, hoping Josh would help him out.

“Perv” was all Josh said

“Perv what?” Max asked still completely lost

Josh sighed in resignation “A Pervert! A Sexual deviant! A womanizing predator!”

Max fell back onto the sofa in shock, staring at the 11 year old with wide eyes “WHAT? Where did you hear such a thing? Do you even know what that means?” looking at Emily who still appeared to be waiting for an answer, he quickly responded “NO! Of Course Not!”

“I didn’t think so” she said nodding her head in affirmation “but you never know these days…”

“Okay guys! Let’s chow!” Alex yelled walking into the living area as he clapped his hands together to get their attention.

The kids scrambled to pick up their belongings and ran down the hallway to wash up, leaving a very stunned and open mouthed Max in their wake.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Dinner was full of chit chat and laughter as the kids tried to teach Max to eat with chopsticks and Liz told him tales of all the oriental restaurants she had been forced to visit while in Boston. Alex told him about the day they had gone in search of a bookstore on Commonwealth Ave which they thought sold translated Japanese books only to find, after an hour of walking in frigid temperatures, that all the books in the ‘Japanese’ bookstore where in JAPANESE! Figure that out!

After dinner Alex excused himself, letting Max know that he had work he really needed to finish so he could upload it to the central office tomorrow morning.

Everyone else moved to the living room to watch the movies Max had brought with him. Josh sat on the floor with his back leaned against the sofa, while Emily crawled onto Liz’s lap as soon as she sat down.
Max sat on the other end of the sofa just as Redwall started playing.

“You know, this movie is based on a book, serialized by Brian Jaques,” Max said, trying to give them some background as to why he had chosen the movie. “I used to read them when I was younger”
“I have most of them in paperback. He came to Harvard Square for a book signing and I got his last book autographed when Mom took me.” Josh responded plopping a kernel of popcorn into his mouth. “It’s about time they made a movie about it. I couldn’t see it when it came out in the theaters but I heard it was cool.” Looking up at Max he added, “Thanks for bringing it”

“Sure.” Max replied, “I’m just happy I got something you hadn’t seen”

“Shhh…” Emily hissed annoyed at all the talking going on while she was trying to watch a movie

Max turned to look at Liz, who had brought up her legs and now was leaning against the armrest of the sofa with Emily lying on her chest. Liz was caressing her daughter’s hair, softly touching strands of hair from the root of her head to the end of the tress. It was a motion that seemed to be lulling Emily to sleep. Upon closer observation he noticed how Emily was sucking on two of her middle fingers. He thought for a moment that she was a bit old for the habit, but then remembered how his parents teased Isabel for sucking her thumb until she was twelve. He smiled at the memory and looked up to catch Liz looking at him.

His soft eyes kept searching for her and she felt wrapped in a warm blanket every time he looked at her. He looked as gorgeous as ever with the dark blue button down shirt he wore over his faded jeans. His hair fell over his forehead and his face sported a light shadow where he shaved. He had his arm resting over the back of the sofa, almost as an invitation to her. She noticed his chest looked wider in that position, if that was at all possible. She recalled last weekend when she saw him after running and his chest was bare to her. Unconsciously, Liz licked her lips at the thought. As he caught her staring at him, she brought her eyes to a safer subject, her daughter, who lay across her chest as most nights. Liz bent down just a bit and placed a kiss on Emily’s head. Emily looked up at Liz and smiled before returning her attention to the movie.

It had been a good day. Exhausting but good. Having Max here made it even better. Looking back at Max she smiled at him, extending her hand in offering. When he took it, she said, “Thanks for coming, Max”

As he caressed the top of her hand with his thumb, he answered, “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else”


When the movie ended, Josh slowly stood up and looked at the sofa “Girls” he humfed out

Max looked over to find Liz and Emily had fallen asleep. “We shouldn’t wake them”

Josh nodded “I’ll get Uncle Lala. He’ll take them upstairs”

“No. Don’t bother him. Just tell me where to go and I’ll take them.” Max said before Josh could moved to get Alex.

“Okay. Emily crashes with me in the middle room” Josh said pointing to one of the doors that could be seen on the second floor. “Aunt Liz is in the room on the end”

Max nodded and bent down to pick up Emily first. Liz stirred a bit at having the weight of her daughter lifted off of her but settled back into a restful sleep.

Walking up the stairs, Josh quietly opened the door to his room to let Max come in with a sleeping Emily cradled in his arms. Max could smell the sweet scent of innocence on the child and he held her a little tighter to him. As he walked into the room he noticed the bunk bed on the right side of the room. There were a few milk crates stacked against the left side of the room as well as a small desk littered with papers. In the center of the wall opposite to the door was, what appeared to be, a small alcove leading to the only window in the room. There were several pillows thrown about and at the far end of the small space was a window seat. It looked like the picture perfect place for a little girl to hide. Max immediately knew that space was for Emily, what Liz’s balcony was for Liz. He smiled at the thought.

As he stood in front of the bed Max turned to Josh, “Which one?”

Josh pointed at the bottom bunk. Moving quietly, Max placed Emily on the bed. Josh immediately went about removing her socks and pulling a comforter over her. Max was surprised at the way Josh knew exactly what to do. It was almost as if he was there to serve Emily, as if his presence in the room was not just a matter of limited house space but more a matter of protectiveness over the small child. It was then that Max noticed the small tank of oxygen that stood tall next to the bed. Max frowned.

“Josh?” Max said to get Josh’s attention. “Is that for Emily?” he asked when Josh turned to look at him.

“Yeah” he replied matter of factly

Max nodded as he continued to look around the room. He noticed the small intercom that was on the nightstand as well as a small gadget that he had seen being used by patients that had diabetes to draw a blood sample. Max’s face crinkled in confusion. He got the feeling there was something big he was missing but couldn’t put his finger on it. He needed to talk to Liz about the extent of Emily’s ‘condition’.

Max bent down on his knees next to Emily’s bed as Josh quietly climbed onto the top bunk. He softly pushed Emily’s hair out of her face and caressed her check. She was angelic. She reminded him so much of Liz and at the same time he saw how her features held so much of Zan in them. He felt his heart squeeze to think Zan shared this with Liz. Emily was so beautiful… Leaning down he placed a soft kiss on her forehead before pulling the covers a little higher on her body.

Standing up he leaned into the railing of the top bunk. Josh turned to look at him.

“There’s something I don’t know here, right?” Max asked

Josh quietly nodded

“That’s what I thought” Max said. Pulling the covers over Josh’s body, he placed his hand over Josh’s upper arm. “Josh, I know Alex, Liz and your Mom tell you this all the time but I want to say it too… You’re one great kid.”

Josh smiled proudly “Thanks, Uncle Max”

“Now…” Max said turning serous “Who taught you what Pervert means?”

Josh’s smile immediately faded, “Uncle Lala”

Max nodded “I thought so. Good night, Josh”

“Night, Uncle Max”

Closing the door behind him, Max headed downstairs to get Liz. Lifting her gently off the sofa, her head rolled to rest against his chest. He looked down at the beauty in his arms and couldn’t believe he was holding her like this. He could feel her breathing against him and all his nerves tingled.

Walking into the room Josh had pointed to be hers; Max was bombarded with Liz’s scent. This was her room and everything in here held a piece of her. He walked up to the bed and placing a knee on the edge, laid Liz in the center. As he pulled back, Liz turned into him and grabbed his arm. “Max…” he heard her sigh. Max looked down at her and closed his eyes to try to regain some semblance of control. In the swift movement she had made, Liz’s shirt had ridden up a little more than it should, exposing just as much skin as he had seen earlier in the evening, except now, he was literally on top of her. ‘Breath, Maxwell, Breath’ he thought to himself.

Extracting his arm from her vice grip he heard her whimper at the loss and he raised his eyes to heaven so that God would give him strength not to attack her in her sleep, as she had done to him so many years ago. For some reason he didn’t think she would welcome it in the same manner as he had.

Carefully he tried to pull down the small tank top to cover her just to have more of her cleavage come into view with the action. ‘You just can’t win this one, Max’ He thought. Looking around the room he found a quilt thrown over a rocker that stood next to the window. He quickly retrieved it and carefully covered Liz with it. Kneeling next to her bed he swept her hair off her face as he had done earlier to Emily.

“God, I love you,” he whispered looking at her beautiful face. He slowly edged forward and lightly caressed her lips with his. He leaned back a bit and inhaled her aroma before leaning in and brushing his lips with hers once again. He felt like a thief in the night stealing a precious treasure but he couldn’t help it. Stolen moments. That’s all he got from Liz.

Max sat back onto his heels and looked at her once again. As he stood up the picture that she had on her nightstand caught his attention. Picking it up, he noticed it was the same one he had ‘altered’. He smiled as he put it back on the table. He then noticed the same type of intercom in her room as he saw in the kids. He passed his fingers across the top of the machine and then looked at Liz. He needed to know what was all this about. He took a few steps back and quietly exited the room.
A few minutes later the front door of the house closed as Max made his way to his own home.

TBC...

Next chapter: The confession!!

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 8-Dec-2002 6:57:04 PM ]
posted on 12-Dec-2002 9:41:02 AM by starlady
Hi Guys,

Sorry it took me this long. I hope your not disappointed in this part. It was really hard to write trying to keep consistency and eagerness in check. I'm really not that happy with it but I just need to get it over with. If you find something blaringly wrong, completely unbelievable, tell me.

BTW: Eccentric One: The altered picture refers to the picture Emily and Josh found in Max's room where he had croped the graduation foto. No Aliens in this Fic.

Any way, Here it is....

~ Chapter 16 ~

Liz placed the last case folder in the small bin that lay on the top of her desk. It was 11:05 pm and she was out! A few days off were exactly what she needed. It was hard to get back on track after taking time off. It was almost as if she was jet lagged.
The next two days were definitely not going to be a walk in the park. Tomorrow she was having every one over to tell them about Emily’s illness and then she would need to deal with the fall out. On Monday she had a trip to Albuquerque scheduled for Emily’s first transfusion. Liz sighed, would she ever see the day when those trips were a thing of the past? Emily seemed strong but Liz knew just how fast that could change. Liz brought her arms up to rest on the desk and let her head fall into her hands.

“Hey, you.”

Raising her head, Liz smiled. “Oh, my very own prince charming. Have you come to whisk me away from this horrid place”

“If you let me” Max responded playfully. “Tough day?”

“Not really. I’m just feeling sorry for myself. I wish I had more time off” Liz said as she stood up and grabbed her knapsack off the coat rack.

“You’re weekend hasn’t started and you’re already sad it’s ending?” Max laughed

“Basically” Liz replied with a soft smile

As they walked out of the hospital to Max’s car, Liz explained, trying not to go into details, how her weekend was too full and she just wanted to rest.

“Nice car” Liz commented as she looked over the black Mustang convertible Max was opening.

“Thanks.” Max replied opening the door for Liz to get in, “Everyone wanted me to get a small sports car when I was able to afford a real car but I liked that this one was sporty, but could still seat more than two”

Max revved up the engine and backed out of the parking. “So what did you do this morning?” he asked

“Nothing much. I stayed home with Em. Alex had to go to Clovis early for work. You know, the thing he was working on last night.” As if remembering something, Liz turned to face Max quickly “Oh, I’m so sorry for falling asleep on you last night. I felt so bad when I woke up this morning.”

“Don’t worry about it. You warned me that you were going to be exhausted and I had a great time anyway” Max reassured her.

“I promise the next time, I’ll stay awake,” She said

“I’m going to hold you to that promise.” Max said looking over to her

Liz smiled and continued telling him about her morning, “The house isn’t really set up with a good data port, so Alex had to go to Clovis to the main office to upload his code to Boston.” Liz paused “Hmm… What else did I do?… Oh, Kyle dropped by and took Josh for his morning run since I couldn’t leave Em alone. He’s really a great guy.”

“Yeah, he was my roommate in college. Can you imagine? It was weird at first, since we knew each other from high school but never really hung out, but then we sort of clicked. He has the best sense of humor, Maria and him would drive me crazy.” Max said remembering how much he had needed their support to get through the fact that Liz had left without saying a word.

“He’s been really great with Josh. Even Emily has warmed up to him… Things will be easier around the house next week. Serena arrives on Tuesday so it will give Alex a break and the kids will be able to do things separately. I know Emily has wanted to go shopping and Josh can’t stand the mall, while Josh has wanted to check out some music shop in town and Emily hates waiting for him while he goes through all the music books. They work better together when they can spend some time apart.”

“Liz, you know you can always count on me. Those kids are great and I would love to take them off your hands whenever you want.” Max said earnestly “I have the pool at the house and the entertainment room. There is plenty of space in my house that they can do their own thing without even seeing the other for hours. If you want I can take Josh to the music store and then another day I can take Em to the mall. I would love to do it.”

Liz looked over to Max and placed her hand over his “Thanks Max. It means a lot that you offered.”

“I’m serious, Liz. Even if you’re not overwhelmed. I really want to spend some time with the kids. I baby-sit for Sammy all the time. Maria calls it my PIT time.” Max looked over to Liz and smiled “ Parent in training time”

Liz laughed. “That sounds like Maria alright” As Max turned onto Liz’s street, she asked “I thought you wanted to talk?”

“I do. I just want you to feel comfortable, so I thought we could talk here, on your home turf” Max said apprehensively. He had thought about where they could have this conversation with out interruptions and immediately thought of taking her out to the quarry. They used to hangout there in high school when they wanted to hide from Maria’s constant ramblings, but he thought that after he told her the truth, she might not want to be in his presence for the ride back into town. Looking at her as he turned into the driveway, he knew that was where she thought they were going.

Liz tilted her head to give Max a side look and then shook her head with a smile “Okay”

Max exited the car and walked beside Liz to the porch where they sat in uncomfortable silence. After a few minutes Liz scooted over to sit closer to Max. Shoving him with her shoulder she said, “What’s going on, Max? Talk to me.”

“You know when you have to say something and you’ve rehearsed it until you’re blue in the face and then when you have to just spit it out everything flies out of your brain and you’re left blank? You know, I’m a lawyer. I’m not supposed to have freeze frame moments like this.”

“Maybe I can help you? Let’s see… Every time you start you start with how you were feeling in high school” Liz said encouraging him to speak.

“Oh, yeah. I guess that’s where I usually start” Max said shifting a bit. He had played this conversation in his mind so many times, but now, with Liz in front of him, terror seized him.

After another minute of silence Liz gave him another push “Okay… So what comes after ‘So Liz, I had these feelings in high school’?” She said intoning in a deep voice trying to imitate Max.

“Um… So Liz, I had these feelings in high school…” Max started and stalled. This was ridiculous! ‘No wonder we always got interrupted. I always take so damn long to get things going!’ He thought to himself.

Getting up from where he sat, he paced a bit before standing in front of Liz. Wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans, he rushed forward with his speech. “Ok Liz, that starting is just not going to work; let’s try this… Liz, something happened when we were back in high school. Something that most likely will change the way you look at me as a person, as a friend and because I don’t think it’s right to keep this from you and still call myself your friend I need to tell you, this … this thing that I’ve been carrying on my shoulders for the last ten years. And I know you might not want to ever see me again, that I might lose you forever, but the hope that you will still accept me after I tell you is worth the risk, because I can’t even visualize a future with you in my life while I carry this secret.”

Liz stared at Max as he rambled and thought ‘boy when he starts he really gets going’; “Okay…” she said.

“Now the thing is, I want you to see things from my point of view and, so, I need to give you some background so you can understand my state of mind when this… this thing, happened” Max continued, wiping his palms on his jeans once again.

“Okay” Liz said again. At this point she had given up understanding his cryptic words and decided to just wait until he started to make sense.

“So, back in high school, I had these feelings for you…” Max started again “No. Not high school, before high school” he shook his head and waved his hand in front of his face as to dismiss the last statement “The thing is, I’ve had these feelings for as long as I can remember but it seemed I was destined to never tell you about them. At first, I was scared that you would laugh in my face and you would never look at me as your best friend again. I was scared that if I told you, there would always be this awkwardness between us and I didn’t want that. Then you started dating Zan…” At this Max sat down next to Liz and stared forward, fidgeting with his hands a bit.

Liz couldn’t believe what Max was telling her. She smiled at herself and shook her head a bit. He had been feeling the same as she did. All those years, she thought he just saw her as a best friend and he was feeling the same way as she. Why couldn’t she have acknowledged her feelings back then? Instead she went and screwed up everything by dating his brother.

Max could feel Liz looking at him but he didn’t want to look at her for fear of what he would see reflected in her eyes. He was almost there. He just needed to finish. Taking a deep breath, he continued slowly. “You seemed so happy with Zan. He was my brother. There was no way I would ever dream…” pausing he corrected himself “That’s not true.” Lowering his eyes to his hands, he admitted the truth “I did dream. I dreamed every night. I… I can’t believe I’m telling you this!”

Liz scooted over and slipped her arm under his to rest her hand on his forearm. Max looked at her hand and placed his hand over hers as he trudged along “You were always mine in my dreams, Liz. I hated that Zan didn’t treat you the way, I knew you should have been treated. I didn’t know what you saw in him, so I went on a crusade to be Zan. I physically imitated him in every way and still you were with him and not with me.” Max shook his head and gave Liz a side ways glance “Pathetic, huh?”

Liz was speechless. He had loved her as only she had dreamed of and at that time she was so blind, so busy trying to deny her feelings that she made him go through hell. She swallowed to choke back the lump of guilt that had lodged in her throat. “No, Max… I…”

“Wait, there’s more…” He interrupted. “I think we’ve established I was pretty messed up back then. I had all these feelings and these fantasies and one night, just before Zan died, it all blew up in my face. I did the unthinkable. I lived out one of those fantasies. I let those feelings drive me. I made a mistake that has haunted me because I didn’t rationalize my actions. I…”

“Max?” Liz interrupted leaning back to look at him. “Are we talking about what I think we are? Are we talking about sex?” Did Max have sex with someone while he was thinking of her? It didn’t sound like something Max would do. He was too driven by his heart to do something like that, yet that was what it seemed he was implying.

“What?” Max asked pulling out of his speech . He was on a roll and was focused on trying to get Liz to see how bad he felt for betraying her trust. Her interruption threw him off and it took him a moment to understand what she was asking.

“Sex, Max. Is this about sex? Max, every teenager does stupid things. What? Was she this horrible person that you wanted to hurt?” Liz asked hoping that she could help Max rid himself of the guilt of his past.

“No!” Max jumped to respond “She… She’s beautiful and I would never hurt her intentionally” He replied softly tucking a lose strand of Liz’s hair in back of her ear.

“Um… So, was she terrible? You know, in bed? Or maybe you didn’t… um… perform well” Liz asked with a shy smile. She really didn’t need to hear about Max’s performance problems but if he needed to talk, she was there to listen.

“No!” Max quickly answered, shaking his head. Getting a far off look on his face, he added, “It was… It was beautiful.”

Liz’s heart constricted looking at Max. This person had stole Max’s heart. He loved her. That was why he must be feeling such remorse, because he used this person to forget Liz and now that he had feelings for her he must be feeling like a scum. Liz thought she had it all figured out and that truth hurt. Liz lowered her head because she couldn’t bear to see all that love in Max’s eyes. Was this how he felt all those years when he had loved her and she was with Zan? How could he have bared it?

Trying to lighten the mood a bit, Liz took another approach “Max,” She said quietly “It doesn’t matter how it happened. If it was as beautiful as you say, you should cherish the memory. My one and only time down that road, left me feeling just as guilty, for reasons very similar to yours. It never goes away but it gets to be easier to bear.”

“No, Liz you don’t understand…” Max started as Liz interrupted him again

“I do understand, all too well.”

“No, Liz, you need to let me fini…” Max said before her words sank in and his face went devoid of color. Turning quickly Max asked, “Liz! What did you just say?”

Liz startled at Max’s quick movement but responded to his question a little embarrassed “Well… I … I literally jumped Zan. I know he wasn’t expecting it and… well… after Zan passed I felt really guilty about the whole experience.” Looking at Max more intently “You don’t want to hear about this and to tell you the truth, I’m not that comfortable talking about this with you. I just wanted you to know that everyone makes mistakes.”

Quickly turning his whole body to face her, Max grabbed her upper arms “No Liz, I really need to know this” Had he heard her correctly?

“You really need to know about my sex life?” Liz asked leaning away from Max who seemed to be desperate all of a sudden. She wondered what she had said to prompt this reaction from him.

Max shook his head and stood up. As he paced in front of a confused Liz he tried to explain what he meant. “That came out wrong. I’m sorry. Okay. Let me rephrase… I don’t want to know about your sex life… well… I do want to know about it, but NOT details. No, wait… that didn’t come out right either.” Max paused a moment running several phrases in his mind to make sure that when they left his mouth, Liz understood exactly what he wanted to know.

Liz stared at Max, completely confused “Max?”

Max turned and stood perfectly still in front of Liz. “Liz, what I want to know is… Where you intimate with Zan on more than one occasion?”

‘That seems like an easy question’ Liz thought, before she responded “No.”

Max felt his knees weaken at the response, felt his world collapse around him, felt himself drain of color, of body heat, of all senses. His lungs wouldn’t work properly and he felt himself start to hyperventilate. All these years he had felt guilty for betraying her trust, for violating her relationship with his brother. He felt guilty for not being strong enough to realize she wouldn’t have wanted him in that way. Felt guilt for not being strong enough to stop that night. But now he knew it was so much more than that… the impact of his actions hit him full force, like a freight train and all he could say was “Oh my God” before crumbling under the weight and falling to his knees.

Liz ran to his side immediately “Max! What’s the matter? Are you okay?” She put her arm under his to support him but he felt like dead weight.

“Oh my God, Liz. What have I done? How could I have done that to you?” Max’s mind was slowly putting it all together. He didn’t just betray her trust, he took that moment away from her, he took away her first time with Zan, her only time with Zan. Another strangled “Oh my God” escaped his lips as he realized what that meant. She had been a virgin! He was so rough with her and it had been her first time. Max slammed the palms of his hands against his eyes while his fingers burrowed into his hair, as if shutting his eyes would make this moment not exist.

“Max! You’re scaring me! What are you talking about?” Liz said trying to shake Max out of the haze he was falling into.

Max’s head snapped up and he looked at Liz, ‘She didn’t know’ he thought and before thinking he blurted out “It was me! “

“What?” She asked, brow crinkled in confusion. Nothing Max was saying made any sense and she felt the situation spiraling out of control.

Max fell back to sit fully on his heels, his head fell onto his chest as he pulled Liz’s arm out from under his and held her hand. Calmness fell around them as Max took several deep breaths to gain some control over his emotions. Finally he raised his head to look at Liz, her face a portrait of confusion.

Max’s eyes were a pool of pain. Liz felt her heart break at the rawness she saw there.
“It was me. It was me that day.” She heard him repeat. “What day?” she asked quietly trying to sooth him with her voice.

“The day you came to give yourself to Zan” Max answered with regret “It was me that day”

“What… What are you saying Max? That’s… That’s not possible” Liz said but her mind was already racing through the events of that night.

Max turned to face her and tugged on her hand a bit to get her full attention. “Liz, the Thursday before Zan died he was getting ready to go to a party. Remember how I said I was pissed at how he treated you? Well, I went to confront him before he left. We talked a bit and Zan left. I stayed in his room thinking about the conversation and fell asleep on his bed.”

Liz started to shake her head in denial. ‘It can’t be’ she thought ‘I would know’

“At first I thought it was a just another one of my dreams. I dreamed of you coming to me all the time” he admitted sheepishly “but then I realized it wasn’t a dream and you were actually there.”

Liz shook her head more vigorously “No. That’s not true” she said as she pulled her hand away from Max’s hold

“You were there. You were so beautiful and you were touching me. I thought it wasn’t true. I thought I had to stop but you said you wanted to show me that you wanted me. ME, Liz” Max saw her back away from him and he edged forward to reassure her “I didn’t know Liz. I didn’t know you thought I was Zan. I thought you actually wanted ME and that all my dreams had come true”

Liz knew something was off that night but she had blamed it on the alcohol, she blamed it on her being naïve. She looked at the ground in front of her as tears pooled in her eyes. She tried to find anything that told her it wasn’t true. That all the decisions she had made were not based on a falsehood.

Max leaned forward once again to touch her and she crawled further away. She couldn’t think straight if he touched her and she needed to find that scrap of information that would prove Max wrong.

“Liz” Max choked out “I didn’t know… I… I tried to stop but I wanted it to be true so bad and then you called me Zan and I realized what I had done. God, Liz. I’m sorry, I… I didn’t know”

Liz couldn’t deny it anymore. There was nothing to refute what Max was saying. She knew in her heart he was being honest. She felt hurt and betrayed. All these years she had carried the guilt of committing the ultimate lie. Giving herself to Zan with out loving him. Years of guilt turned into anger as she stood up and stepped away from Max. “You didn’t know then, but you knew after, you knew for months before I left and you didn’t say anything!” She threw at him as tears started to make their way down her cheeks.

“I was going to tell you. I swear!” Max said scrambling to his feet as he reached out to her, only to have Liz swat his hand away. Max stepped back, pained in the realization that his worse nightmare was coming true. Liz hated him. She would never forgive him. Why couldn’t he have stopped himself that night? “Liz, I was so confused, I felt I had violated you…”

“That’s because you did!” Liz spit out; enraged for all the year she had wasted on guilt.

Max felt her words cut through him. “Liz…” He said feeling his throat constrict. Max turned away from her and shut his eyes so he wouldn’t see the disgust that she must feel looking at him. He forced himself to continue “Liz, the next day… I had changed my appearance. I realized that I didn’t want you to be with me because I looked like Zan. I didn’t want you to look at me and see Zan. I experienced that first hand that night and I didn’t want that” Max struggled to get the rest out. “ I wanted you to love me for ME. I was going to tell you what happened that Saturday. We were going to have breakfast but then…” Max paused and rubbed his temples with his hand. “…then everything got so crazy when Zan died. I didn’t know right from left. When I finally got my life in order, you had left.”

Liz’s shoulders dropped in defeat. She could see that Max was telling the truth, he hadn’t tried to hide anything; in fact he had been trying to tell her the truth since she got back to Roswell. Every time he had tried to start this conversation they would get interrupted. She couldn’t hate him. It was ridiculous for her to even resent him. The truth was he was giving her what she had wanted all these years. Most of her guilt had been because she had giving herself to Zan while loving his brother. She had given herself to Zan when she really wanted it to be Max. She would never be able to give Max her first time. Here Max was telling her that in fact it had been him and she was angry at him for taking away the reason for her guilt?

Liz shook her head in disgrace. Disgrace in herself. How could she have said that to Max? Slumping down onto the steps of the porch she let everything Max said sink in. He wanted to be Zan so she could love him and she had been with Zan because she wanted Max. “Oh Max” Liz sighed bringing her head down into her hands. Silence fell upon them, as time crawled by.

Max finally turned to look at Liz when she said his name. Taking in her dejected posture he took a step in her direction before stopping himself from getting too close. “Liz…” Max pleaded

Liz raised her eyes to him, her face softened with understanding as she extended her hand to Max.

Max ran to take it, kneeling in front of her “Liz, I swear if I had known you were there for Zan…”

“Max,” Liz said as she wiped her face of the tears she had shed “I wasn’t there for Zan”

Max looked at Liz with confusion.

Softly pushing Max’s hair off of his face, Liz explained, “We have been such idiots. I’m sorry for what I said, it’s not your fault. We were both really messed up back then. Maybe if we had been honest with each other from the start no one would have been hurt. You see, you wanted to be Zan and all I wanted was Zan to be you.”

Max pulled back a bit, completely lost “I don’t understand”

“Max, I was just as in love with you as you were with me. The only difference was that I was too much of a coward to admit it. I wanted to deny those feeling so much I dated Zan. It was the best of both worlds. I didn’t have to risk our friendship to have you as my boyfriend. The problem was Zan could never be you. For three years I pretended, convinced myself I had feeling for Zan. I think Zan finally figured it out, because he started to drift away from me. Funny that he saw it before I did. He had always wanted to be intimate and I never wanted it to go that far. When I felt him pulling away, I freaked” Liz leaned her head against the porch banister in reverie “I was so scared of having to face my true feelings that I decided I needed to convince Zan of my devotion. I got hammered that night. That should have given me an indication that I was making a mistake. If you need to get drunk to make love to your boyfriend maybe you shouldn’t be taking that step…”

Max was at a loss for word so he just let her continue.

“Even though I was drunk, I knew what I was doing. I can’t blame it on the alcohol. I climbed through that window determined to prove to Zan that he was the one but it wasn’t him I wanted to make love to. It was you.”

“Liz…” Max sighed holding her hands tightly. His heart filled with hope. Not just hope that she would forgive him but hope that maybe she still felt the same way.

Liz looked down at Max who remained knelt in front of her “It took Zan’s death to make me realize my feelings. I felt so guilty for using him that I could barely look at you. He was your brother for Gods sake! I lost all hope of having a future with you. I mean , I not only used your brother but I gave myself to him! And then I realized I was pregnant, I knew it was over for us before it had star…” As the words escaped Liz , it all came into focus for her. The reality of what this all meant, set in. Her eyes widen and her mouth opened in a gasp that never left her throat. “Oh my God. Emily” she let out before covering her mouth with her hand.

Max stared at her “Emily?” he asked confused at her statement. A moment later he also made the connection. “Emily…” he said in wonderment. Grabbing a shocked Liz by the arms, he said the words out loud “Emily is not Zan’s!” Shaking Liz, he said “Liz! Emily is mine!” Stepping back he pointed at himself and exclaimed joyfully “Emily’s my baby!” moving to Liz once again, he grabbed her hand “Liz! I’m a father!” he informed her with a smile etched from ear to ear. He was suddenly on a high that he thought he would never come down from. That was, until Liz quickly stood up and grabbing her things made a mad dash to the door of the house.

The smile dropped from Max’s face. “Liz? Liz, what’s the matter?” he asked scrambling up the porch to follow her. “Liz, what’s the matter?” he repeated when he got no response. Watching her fidget with the lock on the door, he grabbed the keys from her hand and asked once again “Liz! What’s the matter?”

“Max, please…” Liz pleaded, running her hand through her hair. She needed to think. There were still things left unsaid but Max was now Emily’s father. Emily had a father that was alive and kicking. How would Emily react? What would Max say when he found out about Emily’s illness? How could she tell him… tell him that his daughter was dying?

“Liz, talk to me!” Max said, turning her so they faced each other.

“Max, I need to think” Liz replied pushing his arms away from her “Please Max, I need some time.”

“Liz, please, we can talk about it, together”
Was she afraid he would take Emily away? It was ridiculous, but he couldn’t think of anything else that might have her spooked.

“I can’t… we’ve said enough for tonight. This is much bigger than what either of us could have ever thought. Please give me some time.”

“Don’t runaway, Liz. Don’t runaway from this. Don’t take her away from me” Max implored

Liz felt her heart break at his plea. If he only knew. Tears filled her eyes at the thought of all the lost years. “I’m not going anywhere, Max. I just need to think.” Liz assured him. Grabbing the keys from his hand, she opened the door before she turned to look at Max, who appeared to be devastated. “I promise, Max. Give me until tomorrow. We have more to talk about but I need time. I need to think”

“Tomorrow?” Max asked hopefully

“Yes, Max. Just until tomorrow.”

Max nodded and stepped back from the door.

“Thank you, Max” Liz said as she closed the door.

Max took another step back before turning and heading for his car. This was going to be one of the longest nights of his life.

Liz leaned against the closed door. Closing her eyes, she slowly slid to the floor. How could she tell him? How?

TBC...

Confessions continue in the next part... stay tuned for more

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 12-Dec-2002 9:43:46 AM ]
posted on 19-Dec-2002 11:20:14 AM by starlady
Hi All,

Sorry I haven't posted a new part to this but it has been really crazy at work and at home.
With the holidays approaching and my parents flying in for a two week visit, it seems unlikely that a new part will be posted soon.

I'm really sorry.

I will be back as with the new part as soon as things quiet down a bit on the homefront, which most likely will be after the holidays. If I can squeeze in some time to write between social events I will. I have the next part playing out perfectly in my head. I just need to get it on paper. I can't promise anything though...

Thanks a million for the bumps and the great feedback. I was really suffering the last part and hoped it was believable. By your feedback I get the impression it was satisfactory and so, I'm pleased.

Happy Holidays to Everyone!
~S

PS: Welcome to all the new readers. There is a index in the front page to help you find the parts without having to go through all the FB to find it.
I also plan to post the story on the repost board soon so everyone can read it straight through.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 19-Dec-2002 11:20:27 AM ]
posted on 31-Dec-2002 10:25:49 PM by starlady
Hi guys,

I'm dropping in with a small note to reassure you all that this fic is alive and kicking!

I hope you all have had a wonderful christmas and are not reading the board just a few hours away from New Years but are having a great time with your friends and family, kicking off the New Year in style! For those that have already counted down the New Year... I hope this one bring you all a bunch of goodies!

Anyway, X-mas was interesting in my household. Parents and other family, flying in for a anniversary celebration my sisters and I setup for my parents 40th proved to be draining but fun. I'm all partied out and I still have one more holiday to get through (yeah New Years is done for me even though I am two hours away from the actual countdown). I still have little Christmas to go, on Jan 6th. Then my parents are shipped off to Puerto Rico and life goes back to normal.

I have been reading my favorite fics in the mornings but have had no time to leave decent feed back and/or write anything for this, but I needed to drop by and assure you all that this fic will have an ending to it. It willnot be abandoned (I hate when I really get into a fic and then it gets abandoned... so many great stories w/o an ending). You will all have a ending a la Dreamer style. I promise. It is my vow to you my loyal readers, feedbackers and bumpers.

Thanks a million for your support and I wish you all a prosperous New Year!

~Sandy
posted on 10-Jan-2003 8:22:31 AM by starlady
Hi all,

Just wanted to let you all know that the next part is almost ready.

I'm almost done typing it up and then I just need to proofread and post.

I expect to have it out to you before the weekend is over.

Thanks for all the bumps.
~S

posted on 11-Jan-2003 7:57:54 PM by starlady
Okay y'all. Here it is. I told you it woud arrive. I actually have the next chapter almost ready as well but I find it too short and will be adding to it. I don't promise it for tomorrow but the wait will not be four weeks!

I'm really sorry for that. Holidays can suck up all your free time.

Thanks to all that bumped and nudged me along. At one point I was actually having nightmares of having you all kill me for not posting a new part. It was very intimidating. LOL! Thanks for pushing because it gets me to write.
Welcome to all the new readers and for those that don't usually leave feedback for doing just that. Authors live on the FB and pulling out of lurkdom to leave me comment is greatly appreciated.

Anyway, I won't make you wait anymore.
Enjoy!

~ Chapter 17 ~

Liz stood at the doorway not really remembering how she even got there but knowing she was there for a reason. She held the small photo albums close to her chest, willing her hands to knock on the door but not knowing what was to happen after that point. It was insane. The photos were meant to create a link between her daughter and her grandparents, yet here she stood with the small offering for her daughters father. It wasn’t enough, but it was all she had. Images of a life that he was denied.

Liz felt the urge to crawl up and cry.
Again.

She had been in that position for the past four hours. Crying. Crying her eyes out and trying to make sense of the changes in her life.
After Max left she sat on the floor until Alex woke up. He had heard the soft sobs that escaped her and being accustomed to light sleep, came out to see who it was. He guided her to his bed where she told him everything that had happened. Then she cried some more.


“You have to tell him” Alex said trying not to sound pushy but not leaving it up for discussion.

“Well of course I have to tell him” Liz responded knowing that he was talking about telling Max about Emily’s condition.

“No, Liz. I mean you have to tell him before you tell everyone else.” Alex clarified “He needs to be prepared. He deserves to know. He deserves to know first! It’s one thing to tell him his long lost niece is ill but, being her father changes everything. One moment he finds out that he’s a father in the next breath you tell him he’s losing her. It’s not fair. He needs time to absorb this news and he needs it to be done privately”

Liz was quiet. She knew that Alex was right. She knew what she had to do, but she was still scared. She just didn’t know why? “Every time I think of telling him I get this fire in my stomach. I feel it swirling around inside of me. My logical side says that I have nothing to be afraid of. I’ve gone through all the scenarios in my mind and there is nothing Max can do to me …”

“Liz, Who are you trying to lay that on, because I know you wouldn’t insult my intelligence with that load of crap. Max has all the power in the world over you. He is the love of your life! You are scared that he will a) reject you b) despise you c) abandon you d) all of the above” Alex usually sugar coated things for Liz but when things needed to be said he would say them. “Stop thinking of yourself and think of him. Think of the kind a person Max is and you will know that there is no basis for your fears. Think of the first time we heard of Em’s diagnosis. Max is going to be devastated. We know that kind of pain. We have to be strong for each other. For Emily.”

Liz looked at her best friend in the world. Her rock of Gibraltar. “What about you, Alex? How do you feel about all this?”

Alex sighed as he lay down next to Liz bringing his arm to rest under his head “Confused. I don’t think I can put my feelings into words right now. I mean… In my convoluted mind I always thought that I was Emily’s daddy. Even if one day you got married and left the house, I felt I would always be that”

Liz turned and cuddled into Alex’s chest as she listened to him reflect

“I mean… I was the first to hold her after you. I woke up to feed her, changed her diapers, wiped snot off her nose and drool off her chest. I sat on those little chairs with her during the father/daughter breakfast in first grade. I… I held her hand and sang to her during her first diagnosis. I picked out her shoes and combed her hair. I taught her the difference between The Beatles and Matchbox 20. I stayed up putting together that infernal Barbie Dream House!” Alex said as a stray tear fell down the side of his face “Isn’t that what a daddy does?”

“Yes, Alex. That’s exactly what a daddy does.” Liz said swiping off tears of her own

“’I’m feeling kinda lost right now. I suddenly don’t know where I stand in this family. It was okay for me to take on the role of father because… well… Zan was dead. He would never be able to be that for Emily. Now… It’s different. I can’t continue in that role because Max is very much alive. He is her true Daddy and although I know that he is a good guy and that he just found out about his daughter, I sort of… resent him.” Alex finished in a whisper somewhat embarrassed over his feelings. “I’m really confused about that. I think I just need to follow my own advice and not think of myself. I need to think of Emily and Max. I know that at nine years old, Emily must have questions about who is her father. Max needs a chance to be just that.” Turning to look at Liz, he said, “You need to let him be her father. You need to talk to him, be honest with him. The decisions that you make from this day on need to be discussed with him. You need to discuss what you’re going to tell Em and what the hell you’re going to tell everyone else.”

Liz opened her eyes wide. She hadn’t even thought about what everyone’s reaction to Max’s new role would be. “God. Everyone’s going to think I’m a slut! Everyone’s going to know how Em was conceived.” Liz hid her face in Alex’s chest.

“Well, you know I’ve always thought you were kinda loose, always jumping into bed with me and all…” Alex teased before turning serious.“ Liz, these are things you need to talk to Max about. You’re leaning on the wrong shoulder here.”

Liz sat up and started to get off the bed, nodding her head. “You’re right. I need to talk to him, tell him the truth and deal with the aftermath. I’m going to go see him in the morning before anyone gets here.”

Alex quickly grabbed her wrist “No, Liz. You need to do this now!”

“Alex, it’s 4:00 in the morning!” Liz exclaimed, pulling her arm free from his hold.

“And you think he’s sleeping?” Alex replied sarcastically “He’s probably worn a hole in his carpet. Liz, he needs to know now!”

“ I… I need to change” Liz said in a last ditch effort to stall

“Let me HELP you.” Alex said knowing what Liz was doing.
Alex dragged Liz out of his room, up to hers. Pulling a pair of cargo pants and a matching tank top from her closet, he flung them at her. Grabbing her again, he pulled her into the bathroom. “Change!” He commanded and closed the door. Opening the door again he added, “You have 5 minutes!” Placing his wristwatch on the counter, he shut the door once more. ~~~



Liz took a deep breath and quickly knocked on the door. Looking around the quiet neighborhood she wondered once again what she should tell Max to soften the blow. Shaking her head back and forth she smirked thinking to herself that it was foolish of her to try to soften the blow. There was no way to say what she had to say and not completely decimate the man she loved.
She gripped the albums tighter. Resting her chin on the top of the books, she bit her lip to stop from falling apart. ‘Not now. Not now.’ She said to herself.

“Liz?”

Turning around, Liz felt her heart leap out of her chest and the fire that was settled in the pit of her stomach swarmed over her body.
Panic.

‘Not now. Not now!’ She said to herself once again. “I hope I didn’t wake you” She offered

“No. No, of course not. I… I’m just surprised to see you.” Max said. He had come home and had tried to calm his nerves but the thought that Liz had freaked out at the possibility that he was Emily’s father had him running all sort of bizarre scenarios in his mind. He finally gave up on trying to sleep two hours ago. He showered and then sat in the small sitting area in his room, nursing a whiskey. The only thing that had kept him from driving back to Liz’s house was her promise. She wouldn’t run. She wouldn’t take Emily away. She would call him. They would talk. She just needed time. The last thing he had ever imagined was that it would be this soon. Having her standing in front of him made him breath a small sigh of relief.

“Can… Can I come in?” Liz asked tentatively

“Yes! Of course!” Max said opening the door wider so Liz could come in.

Closing the door behind her, he escorted Liz to the family room where he offered her a seat and something to drink.

“I could use one of those” Liz said pointing at the tumbler in Max’s hand. Max raised his eyebrows, a little shocked by the request, but without comment served Liz a drink and handed it to her before sitting next to her.

‘This is the moment of truth’ Liz thought to herself taking a shot of the amber liquid in hopes it would settle her nerves. “Um… I brought these for you” Liz said putting the small photo albums on the coffee table that was in front of them. “I was going to show them to your parents this afternoon but I wanted you to have them. They’re of Emily and… well.. her life”

Max looked at the two albums on the table. Could Liz wrap up nine years of his daughter’s life in two small photo albums? “Thanks” he said leaning forward to take the one on top.

Liz reached out and stopped him. “Max, before you see them I need to tell you something.”

Max nodded. This was it, he thought, this is where she would tell him that he should not take an active role in Emily’s life. That, his presence in Emily’s life, as her father, would just be disruptive.

“Max, earlier this evening I sort of lost my bearings. I want to apologize for that. We were talking about something that happened between us and then all of a sudden the actions that we took ten years ago became one of consequences. I based a lot of decisions I made back then on my concept of reality and all of a sudden that reality was non-existent. I don’t care about myself but I do care about how this all affects Emily and… and you.”

“Liz, I am so sorry I didn’t tell you” Max started, but Liz put her hand in front of him to halt any further apologies.
“Don’t. The past is just that. The past. I told you earlier how I felt about that night and well… that is not the issue. The issue is that my daughter all of a sudden has a father with a pulse.”

Max smiled at the comment.

“There are things you don’t know that now, as Emily’s father, you have the right to know.” Liz looked up at Max and at that moment it dawned on her that she had never asked him how he felt about all this. She just assumed he would want to take on the role of Em’s father, but maybe he didn’t want that. He had seemed to express happiness at the idea but maybe, after thinking about it he decided he wasn’t ready for such a commitment. “Max? I didn’t ask you before but… How do you feel about this? Do you want to be a father to Emily? I mean, I would understand if you didn’t want that…”

“Of course I want to be in Emily’s life!” Max interrupted hastily “Liz, I can never tell you what this means to me. This last week… The time I have spent with Emily… She has a gift of getting under your skin and crawling into your heart. To know that I helped bring that angel into this world… There aren’t enough words… On Friday, as I tucked her in, I actually felt jealous of Zan. I also felt very sorry for him because he would never see the beautiful daughter he had left behind. Today I find out that she is mine? Liz… I mean… If you… I… I DO want to be a father to Emily.” He finished before he made a fool out of himself.

Liz looked at Max and smiled. He was so adorable. He was a caring man. Liz knew that he was not doing this because of a sense of responsibility but because he truly cared for Em. She had seen the way he interacted with Sammy and she knew he was ready to be a father. She was sad that he would not have all the tender memories of Emily’s first years but she hoped that he would have many more years of memories to cherish. This thought brought her back to her purpose.
“Thanks Max for saying that.” She told him as she felt her heart pick up speed in the anticipation of telling him about Emily’s illness. “Max” She started, looking down at her hands, “Emily… Emily is sick.”

Max nodded “I know”

Liz looked up quickly “You know?”

“Of course. You told us that much last weekend. She has a problem with her blood taking enough oxygen to her body.” Max said innocently.

Liz’s hope quickly faded. For an instant she thought that he somehow knew and she wouldn’t have to tell him.

Max noticed how Liz’s face fell at his statement and it confused him. He quickly rethought the events of last weekend and then the visit he had to Emily’s room and the intercoms installed over the house and the few words he had with Josh…

Standing up he leaned into the railing of the top bunk. Josh turned to look at him.

“There’s something I don’t know here, right?” Max asked

Josh quietly nodded

“That’s what I thought” Max said. ~~


There was more to this. The fact that Liz brought up Emily’s health meant there was something more to tell. Something big enough to have Liz avoid looking at him directly. Max’s heart started beating in overtime. He searched out Liz’s eyes, trying to get her to face him.

“Liz” Max said lifting her face “There’s more to Emily’s illness, isn’t there?”

Liz nodded softly as tears formed in her eyes

“What is it?” Max said steeling himself for the worse.

Liz swiped her eyes gently to remove the unshed tears from the brim of her eyes. Raising her eyes to meet Max’s she forged forward. “Emily has a condition called Myelodysplastic Syndrome. MDS for short. She was first diagnosed when she was 5. Max, MDS is a form of Juvenile Cancer. Actually MDS is catch all for several syndromes…”

Cancer

“… it usually doesn’t attack children. It’s seen more on older people, over 60…”

Cancer

“…at first we thought it was just anemia. She was always tired and she bruised easily….”

Cancer

“…but then she started getting frequent nose bleeds and I knew something was wrong…”

Cancer

Liz noticed Max was in a daze. Even though she really wanted to get it all out, Liz stopped.
“Max?”

Cancer. This was not what he had ever imagined. He didn’t know what he was thinking but the last thing from his mind was the possibility that Em had cancer. Cancer.

“Max?” Liz said once again, touching his hand. He was looking at her but Liz knew that look. It was the look that told her that Max was not really here in the present anymore. He was absorbing the news. She had seen that look reflected in the mirror many times through out the years. Next stage would be denial.

Max refocused on Liz, blinking several times. “Are you sure? I mean… Emily is healthy. She’s strong. She almost ran me over on Friday.” He knew the question was insane but he had to ask it. Cancer is not something that little kids get. Not his little kid.

Liz squeezed his hand as her heart tore apart. The tears were once again threatening to fall as she nodded slowly “Yes Max. I’m sure.”

“But… She’s going to be okay. Right?” Max asked through the lump that had lodged itself in his throat.

Liz lowered her eyes as the first tear fell from her eyes. “We hope so” she whispered

As Max gauged her reaction to his question he knew it was bad. He knew that as much as he would like to lie to himself, he couldn’t. Emily had cancer. Emily, his daughter, the one he just discovered he had, was dying. Max slumped back onto the sofa where they sat, still holding on to Liz’s hand. “Tell me everything”

And Liz did just that. She told him about the illness, about the time she was diagnosed. She told him about her first relapse and the chemotherapy used to force it back into remission. She told him about the last 6 months and how they had tried to control it. She told him about the prognosis and then she told him of their daughter’s only hope for survival. When she finished, Liz felt as if she had relived every single day of the nightmare that was claiming her daughter’s life.

“That’s why you came back.” Max stated staring straight ahead at nothing in particular.

“That’s why I had to come back sooner than I had planned” Liz corrected. She didn’t want him to think that she had only come to find her daughters salvation.

“Did you plan to stick around after finding Emily a bone marrow?” He asked coldly. Max was angry. Angry that life had given him the chance to be a father and then, just as easily, taken it away. He was angry that he had not been with his daughter through all the pain that she had seen during her short life. He was angry that Liz seemed to have been calculating in coming back, she had kept this from them and then expected them to help her.

“We don’t know if we will find Emily a donor here. The best matches are between siblings 1 out of 4. I’m her mother… and… I wasn’t a match.” Liz answered having the guilt of not being able to help her daughter crash upon her shoulders.

Max turned to look at Liz as she trembled slightly from holding in her sobs. The anger he felt just moments before draining from him. He would have done the same thing. He would face the wrath of anyone; gone to the ends of the earth if it gave him the smallest of hopes of having Emily live another day. Max squeezed Liz’s hand in support.

“If we didn’t find a donor… I wanted Emily to know her family. Not just Mom and Dad but also your family. I wanted her to know that she was loved by many. I wanted her… her time left… to be spent here.” Liz finished. Straightening herself and wiping the stream of tears that marred her face, Liz looked at Max.

Max straightened himself a bit before pulling Liz into his embrace. He held her against his chest and kissed the top of her head. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. For both of you.”

“It’s not your fault, you didn’t know” Liz said

“That doesn’t mean that I can’t feel regret. I wish I had been there.” Max said with such sorrow in his voice that Liz felt her tears gathering once again.

“You’re here now.” She said

Max nodded. “There is still hope. Now more than ever. Before you thought you had Aunts and Uncles to test, but I’m Emily’s parent too. I have a higher chance to match than if I was her uncle. We have to have faith. It’ll work out.”

Liz nodded knowing that what he said was true. They had to have faith that all this would work out in the end.

“Liz,” Max said still holding her against his chest. “Emily has questions. About her paternity, I mean.”

Liz lifted herself off his chest but stayed close to his side “What do you mean? She’s never asked me anything.”

“She asked me.” Max replied “Last week at the barbeque. She just came out and asked if I was her father”

Liz sat up straight and turned to look at Max in confusion. “Why would she ask you that?”

“Liz, Emily’s smarter than you think. She put two and two together fairly quickly. She said that she had come to meet her family; that her father was from Roswell. Then she pointed out that we had the same color of eyes and then she asked if I was her father. I was surprised by the question and that’s why I asked you what Emily knew about her paternity.”

“What did you tell her?” Liz asked concerned that she had not picked up on her own daughters need to know.

“Nothing. I was shocked by the question. I thought she knew.” Max answered honestly

Liz shook her head, “No. We’ve never talked about it.” Going back to Em’s question, Liz asked “Did she just drop the subject when you didn’t say anything?”

“Actually, you walked out onto the deck at that moment and I guess my look of utter surprise made her assume I wasn’t her father because she just hugged me, said she loved me anyway and then jumped into your arms. For a moment I thought I had imagined the whole conversation because her demeanor changed instantly. It was bizarre.”

Liz thought back to the scene she had interrupted last weekend. Emily and Max seemed to be in deep conversation. Now she knew what they had been talking about. Leaning back on the sofa, she looked straight ahead. She should have known it was time. She should have been more receptive to the subject; then her daughter would have felt comfortable talking to her about this. “I’m such a bad mother,” Liz finally said in a frustrated sigh “I never do anything right.”

“Don’t say that!” Max reprimanded turning his head to look at Liz “You’ve done everything for Emily. She wouldn’t be the person she is without you. She loves you and her heat is full of caring and respect for everyone around her. You’ve raised a beautiful daughter!”

“A daughter that can’t talk to me. She can’t even approach me to ask who is her father” Liz berating herself. “I always thought we had a relationship where she could tell me anything, but we obviously don’t. She feels more comfortable talking to a man she has known for just a few hours.”

“But Emily has known me for many years. All her life actually. Didn’t you constantly tell her stories about Maria and me? You told me that Emily grew up on these stories. She knew I was someone she could trust.” Max said trying to soothe her concerns “Liz, obviously Em knows it’s a sensitive subject. I think she believes that bringing up the topic might hurt your feelings. I think she cares enough to not do anything to hurt you and so she’s never asked, but she’s curious.”

Liz let Max’s words sink in. It made sense. She talked about everyone in Roswell openly and with love but she never mentioned Emily’s father. In a sense she had put out the message that the topic was taboo.

“What are you going to tell her? You know, about me?” Max finally asked

“The truth. I was actually going to be talking to her on Monday about her father” Liz said realizing that in the end, it was better that Emily had no preconceived notions of who was her father. It would be less confusing for her now. “Emily has her first appointment in Albuquerque on Monday. She has to sit still for two hours and I thought it would be the best time to tell her.”

“What type of appointment?” Max inquired going into daddy mode

“Remember I told you She is on something called supportive care to keep her illness in a stable state? Well the treatment consists of giving her blood transfusions every two weeks.” Liz explained, “It sort of replenishes her blood. Puts healthy blood into her. Monday is her first appointment since we got to Roswell.”

“I want to go” Max demanded

“Max…” Liz began

“No, Liz. I want to be there. I want to support her. I want…”

“Max, listen to me.” Liz interrupted “I need to talk to Emily alone. I need to tell her about you. Please, Max. I need to be the one to tell her and this is the best time. I promise that you can go to every other appointment, but not Monday,”

Max sighed in frustration “If that’s what you need… I… I guess I understand. I just… I just want to be there for her”

Liz put her hand over his and squeezed it reassuring him. “I know. Max, you’re going to be an excellent father.”

Max felt his heart pick up pace. ‘I’m a father’ he thought. It still floored him.

“Max… What should I tell everyone else? I mean… Alex already knows, but…”
“He does?” Max asked interrupting her.

“Yes. I mean… we talked before I came over” Liz replied “It’s not easy for him. He’s always been the father figure in Emily’s life, now, he’s a little lost.”

Max lowered his head, trying to put himself in his friend’s shoes. “I can understand that” He finally admitted “It’s weird because even though the rational part of me is grateful he has been there for you and Emily… I sort of resent it”

Liz looked at Max and smiled recalling Alex’s words earlier. “Funny you would say that. I think Alex shares your same feelings. He knows you’re a good guy and he knows that you’ll be an excellent father but he had never expected to give up the role he plays in Em’s life and I think he resents you a bit.”

“I can understand that too.” Max said

“I’m not worried about you two. I know you’ll both work it out.” Liz said trusting that, the fact that both men acknowledged each other’s strengths would get them through this change. “I’m more concerned about our parents. I have no idea what to tell them. I mean, I’m going to have to tell them how I jumped you thinking that you were Zan. Your parents are going to think I’m a slut and my parents…. I don’t even have a clue how they’ll react,” Liz admitted honestly

Max knew that, in a way, Liz was right. His parents were having a hard time just accepting Liz’s action after she found out she was pregnant. If they knew the circumstances of Emily’s conception, they would crucify her. He knew that there was no way they wouldn’t ask for details, that they would not just accept a change in paternity. They would think she was sleeping with both him and Zan or that she was such a slut she didn’t know who the hell she was sleeping with. There was no way Liz would come out of this unscathed. Then there was the matter of telling her parents. Mr. Parker was going to kill him. “Your Dad’s going to kill me.” Max said aloud, reiterating his last thoughts as he slumped further into the sofa.

“And your dad is going to make me wear a Scarlet Letter. I guess that will make us even.” Liz replied slumping into the sofa as well.

Each sat in silence contemplating their options.

Liz was the first to talk “Max, I want to be the one who tells them and although I want to tell my parents privately, I would appreciate if you were there when I told your parents”

“You know I would never let you go alone. And I also want to go with you when you tell your parents. I’m the one that got you pregnant and I should be with you when you tell your parents.” Max said firmly, trying to leave no room for argument.

“Max, I want to tell them privately. I would feel more comfortable about it. I was the one that attacked you.” Liz said trying to reason with him.

“I could have stopped and I didn’t. We’re both to blame.” Max stated, standing his ground.

Liz cocked her eyebrow and smirked at Max’s last statement.

“Okay! So we’ve determined that I probably could not have stopped myself, but I think I should still go with you.” Max reaffirmed although he was getting the feeling that he was losing this argument just like he lost the one on Emily’s appointment.

“Please, Max. It would make things easier for me if you didn’t go. I know my parents and they will react to this news much better if you’re not around.” Liz pleaded

Max’s sense of responsibility was having a hard time losing this argument, but he didn’t want to make things more difficult for Liz. “Fine! I don’t like it but… I don’t want to make it worse.”

“Thank you, Max” Liz said leaning her head on his shoulder. “I do want to ask you a favor, though. I plan on telling your parents about Emily’s condition today. That’s what this get together is all about. Could you ask them not to tell Emily who they are? You know… that they are her grandparents? Since Em doesn’t know about you yet I don’t want your parents to blurt anything about Zan until I’ve told both of them the truth. Emily will be at my parents for a while and if all goes well and after everyone has had time to absorb the news, then I’ll have them bring her over to meet everyone.”

“Maybe I should tell them?” Max probed

“No! They’re going to have questions that you might not be able to answer. Anyway, Maria and Michael need to know as well, so they’ll be there too.” Liz responded

Max nodded knowing that Liz would, in fact, be the right person to answer any questions. He sighed and lifted his arm to wrap around Liz’s shoulders. Pulling her closer to him, he let silence settle between them as the morning rays crept into the room through the side of the curtains.

“Do you ever think of that night?” Max asked softly

Liz was quiet and contemplated the question before responding “I use to… but, it had become more of a fantasy than what I thought was reality” Liz replied thinking how she had begun to fantasize that it had been Max making love to her that night instead of Zan. “I don’t remember most of it or maybe I just chose to forget. How about you?”

“I remember everything…” Max responded with a sense of awe in his voice “It was the best and one of the worse nights of my life, but now, to know Emily was conceived on that night… it makes it even more memorable. In a good way I mean.” he added looking down at Liz whose face was flushed in embarrassment. “Are you blushing?” he chuckled.

Liz pushed Max back and smacked him across the chest “You’re so mean. I can’t believe you’re laughing at me”

Max brought his arms up to protect himself from getting smacked again as he continued to tease Liz “Why Dr. Parker, was it something I said?”

“Maxwell Evans, stop teasing! You very well know what you said. I can’t believe you remember. It was ten years ago!” Liz exclaimed in a huff as she tried to smack him once again.

Max grabbed her wrists and smiled “How can anyone forget making love to a woman as beautiful as yourself? Oops! There it is again! Liz, you’re so cute when you blush!”

Liz pushed at his hands “You have a real mean streak in you, Mr. Evans. I hope our daughter hasn’t inherited that trait.”

“Impossible” Max said. Pulling her into his arms, he held her still as he kissed the top of her head. “She’s caring and sweet and beautiful, just like her mother”

Liz sighed against his chest and relaxed into his embrace.

Quiet settled in the room once again before Max broke it “It’s gonna be okay, Liz”

She nodded into his chest as she replied softly “I know.”

TBC...


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 11-Jan-2003 7:59:39 PM ]
posted on 14-Jan-2003 7:05:45 PM by starlady
Hey all!

I'm back with a new part. I hope you like.
I want to thank all those that left feedback on the last part. Your enthusiasm was palpable and I told my sister "I feel loved!". Thanks a million for your support and your comments. I really appreciate it.

Anyway.. Enjoy this next one.

~ Chapter 18 ~

“Mom? Dad?” Max yelled out as he walked into his parent’s house.

It was 1:00 in the afternoon and Max knew he was early. Isabel and Max had planned on meeting at Diane & Phillip’s house so they could follow Max to Liz’s place. Everyone looked forward to meeting Emily and had agreed to shelve any resentful feelings that they might have. It was still a tense situation especially for Phillip. He had seen first hand how Zan’s death had almost torn his family apart, with Diane and Max’s breakdown. To know that Zan had left a child in this world and that they had been denied the right to see it, to love it, well, it was still a very raw subject for him. When Max called to say that Liz wanted to have them over on Sunday, Diane and Phillip were surprised to say the least. After she had run out from their house in the midst of the news that they were grandparents, she had only communicated to them through Max. Now all of a sudden they were being welcomed into her home.

Diane hoped that today would be the beginning of a loving relationship with their granddaughter and had pleaded to Phillip and Isabel to keep their tempers in check. She had told them that the past could not be changed but their attitude could irrevocably change their future with the child.

Emily was Liz’s daughter and if they couldn’t behave themselves, Liz could easily deny them any visitation. At this, Phillip had threatened to take the case to court and Diane knew that he was still too hurt to reason with. Diane on the other hand was so happy to have the opportunity to get to know her grandchild; she was willing to do anything. She knew Liz must have had her reasons to leave. That it must not have been an easy decision. She had gotten to know Liz very well, first as Max’s best friend and then as Zan’s girlfriend. She was always a good girl and knew there had been no malice in her actions. Phillip on the other hand barely had interacted with Liz. He had spent many hours in the office, building his Law Firm and Diane was left to raise the children. After Zan’s death, that changed. Phillip cut back on his hours and tried spending as much time with Diane as possible. Isabel had already moved out of the house and with Max starting college early it left him empty and guilty for having missed so much of their children’s life. Diane sensed that some of that guilt was playing part in his irrational feelings toward Liz.

“We’re in here!” Max heard his mother call out from the kitchen

As Max walked into the kitchen, he not only found his parents but also his sister. “Isabel! You’re here early.” Max had expected to have an opportunity to talk to his parents in private but that plan seemed to be DOA with Isabel already in the house. Max and Isabel use to be very close, when they were younger. It seemed to Max that she knew what he was thinking or feeling before he did. Although she had been popular in high school and seemed to run in the same circles as Zan did, it was with Max that she felt more in touch with. That changed a few years ago. During Isabel’s marriage and then her divorce, Max noticed a change in his sister. She seemed more on the edge all the time; easy to snap and very insecure. Max knew that she loved him, but they never talked like they use to and that eventually led to a rift between them that seemed to get wider every year.

“So are you little brother.” Isabel replied as she got up from the table where she sat across from her father and pecked him on the check as she walked over to the sink to dump the remainder of her orange juice down the sink. “I actually slept over last night” she continued, “I thought that if I was driving down today, I might as well make it weekend visit”

“That’s good.” was all he could think to respond, as Max pushed his hands into the front pockets of his jeans, a habit he had stopped doing a long time ago. Phillip drilled him every time he did it because it showed the world he was nervous and a lawyer could not display any weakness in front of a client, a jury or the media.

“What are you doing here so early?” Philip asked curious at Max’s stance “Did Liz decide to have us over earlier?”

“Max, do you want to have some lunch?” Diane asked as she spooned the contents of what looked like a quiche pan onto a clean plate.

“No Mom. Thanks.” Turning to his father, Max said, “Actually, I was hoping to talk to you all before we headed out to Liz’s.”

“Is this about how we need to behave while we’re there?” Isabel asked as she rolled her eyes. “You can save it, if it’s that, because we’re not little kids, we know what’s at stake.”

“That’s not what it looked like last week when you tore into Liz mercilessly” Max bit back

Isabel lowered her head, ashamed of her reaction last weekend “Yeah, um… I was not at my best last weekend. I’m sorry about that.”

“It’s nice that you apologize for coming into my house and chewing up my guests but I think the apology is best served on Liz’s doorstep” Max said. He knew Isabel was sorry for her reaction. She had told him that when she saw Emily on the ground, turning blue, the only thing she could think of was to pray she would be okay. Isabel admitted that she felt sorry for her parents and their loss time with Emily. The frustration of having heard her father rant all morning had spilt over when she came face to face with Liz at his house. She had said things that were offensive and she regretted it.

“I know, Max.” Isabel said in a lower tone.

“Things have come up since Friday and I need to discuss them with you all before going to Liz’s” Max stated

Everyone’s eyes were on Max and silence engulfed the room.

“What is it, Max?” Phillip asked. He wondered if Liz was having second thoughts about letting them be a part of Emily’s life.

“Can we take this into the Living room?” Max asked

“What’s up Max?” Isabel asked concerned by her brother’s serious tone.

“I just need to say a few things. Can we just talk?” Max said. He then turned and walked toward the living room, hoping that everyone would follow cue.

Diane grabbed a dishcloth and wiping her hands, was the first to follow her son.

Max stood facing the fireplace as Diane and Phillip sat on the sofa and Isabel leaned against the armrest of the same sofa.

“What is it, son?” Diane asked breaking the silence in the room.

Max turned to face his family. He felt like he was facing a firing squad. Was this how Liz felt when she had come to tell them about Emily? No wonder she ran out. He really didn’t know how to start the conversation. He knew that his parents would still love Emily regardless who was her father but he also knew that thinking Emily was Zan’s gave them some solace for their loss. He was going to be taking that away from them and although he would never regret having fathered Emily, he did regret having to hurt his parents again.

“Um… Between yesterday and today I’ve learned a lot of information that has changed my life dramatically. I need to tell you some of the stuff I have found out before we go to Liz’s house because it will change your perspective on things.”

Max’s parents turned to each other with a quizzical look but kept quiet and allowed Max to continue.

“I guess I should first tell you that this afternoon we will be going to Liz’s house but Emily will not be there”

“WHAT?” Everyone shouted and all mayhem seemed to break out

“Let me finish!” Max said in a raised voice hoping not to lose control over the conversation. He knew his father and Isabel were hot headed and he needed to make sure the conversation stayed toned down. “Liz has something’s that she needs to talk about before you meet Emily. I’m not at liberty to discuss that with you, but she has asked me to talk to you about something else.”

“What’s going on Max?” Isabel said, confused by her brother’s attitude. He was standing there in lawyer mode talking to them as if he was addressing the local district attorney.

“In a minute Isabel.” Max interjected before going back to his speech “If you still want to meet Emily after Liz has talked to you, you can stay for an early dinner and meet her then.”

Diane held her husbands hand tightly in hopes that he would not overreact to whatever Max was going to say. She had an ominous feeling about the way Max was addressing them. “That’s fine, son. Go on” She offered.

“Liz wants me to talk to you about what can and cannot be talked about in front of Emily. As she said last week, Emily doesn’t really know who her dad is. She knows that he use to live in Roswell but other than that, she doesn’t know anything.”

“I didn’t know that. I thought Emily knew.” Isabel said surprised. “Emily’s, what? Nine? Ten? And she’s hasn’t asked?”

“Well… we’ve determined she’s curious but, no, she has never asked Liz” Max replied.

“And obviously, Liz has had no inclination of telling her” Phillip added sarcastically

“She is planning on telling her tomorrow; but if you want to meet her today you need to promise not to mention anything to her. No talk about how much she looks like our side of the family, no mention of you being her grandparents and no mention of anything you think Liz did or didn’t do right”

“Are these guidelines and stipulations printed in a booklet for later reference? I wouldn’t want my grandparent privileges taken away…” Phillip said getting upset “Zan would have wanted better for his daughter”

“Phillip! You promised.” Diane warned.

“I couldn’t care less what Zan would have wanted, Dad. Zan has nothing to do with this.” Max said exasperated
“Although Liz would like to take the burdens of the world on her shoulder, it’s not something that I can let her do. Especially in this case… The next thing I want to say is very difficult for me because… well… it’s very personal.” Taking a deep breath Max forged ahead “Emily is not Zan’s daughter.”

“WHAT? What the hell are you talking about?” Phillip boomed

“But… Liz said…She said she was his. She looks like him.” Diane murmured confused by Max’s statement

“Max, I don’t get it. Why tell us all these rules if Emily’s not Zan’s? Why are we even talking about this? ” Isabel asked, just as confused as everyone else. “Liz has gotten us walking around on pins and needles while the child isn’t even Zan’s?”

“She’s my daughter” Max said loud enough so every one would hear him.

Diane’s head snapped back to her son. “What? But…How?”

“How the hell? She was sleeping with BOTH of you?” Isabel blurted unaware of how crude the statement had come out.

“No. She wasn’t” Max replied as calmly as possible

“If she wasn’t sleeping with both of you… How…” Phillip was quietly trying to figure things out on his own but he just couldn’t see how it was possible. Liz had been sure that Emily was Zan’s. He had been a lawyer for a long time and he knew how to read people. When Liz had come over to tell them about Emily she was positive that Emily was Zan’s and Phillip knew that she wouldn’t have been so sure if she were sleeping with both his sons. Phillip looked up at Max and tried to think back ten years. Phillip had been away too often. After Zan’s death the family fell apart. Diane went into denial and Max felt the grunt of it all. Being Zan’s twin had everyone turning to him as a substitute and this was the catalyst to the fall out that almost destroyed them all. Phillip recalled the sense of desperation Max felt of being mistaken for Zan.

Phillip then saw a possibility, but it just couldn’t be. “No. Please don’t let it be.” He said out loud. The possibility was unimaginable. Not Max. But Liz was so sure Emily was Zan’s. Phillip didn’t want to believe it. Didn’t want to think that his son would do such a thing, but the more he thought about it the more it stood out as the only possible reasoning. “What did you do Max?” Phillip finally asked through gritted teeth.

Max recoiled at the tone in his father’s voice and his piercing stare, but stood strong.
Since Liz had left him this morning he had thought of many ways to tell his parents that Emily was his daughter without disrupting things further. If they just stated the facts and didn’t explain how things happened there would be too many questions left without answers. Max knew that his father would think the worse and he couldn’t let anyone think badly of Liz. He just couldn’t allow it. This was the only thing he could think of to spare Liz the embarrassment of having to tell his parents about that night. He knew they would not ask for details if he shouldered the blame. He knew that they would never look at him the same way but would eventually forgive him. He also knew that if Liz had any idea of what he was doing, she would skin him alive. “I pretended to be Zan and slept with her.”

“Holy Shit!” Isabel gasped.

Max let it all out at once in hopes that it would stop any barrage of questions. “I know Emily is my daughter because it was Liz’s first time and Zan died shortly after. Liz never slept with Zan but she did think he had fathered her child. I didn’t know it was her first time. I thought she and Zan had a physical relationship so when she arrived with Emily I never put two and two together. I didn’t confess my deception to her until last night, and then it came to light that she had been with Zan that just one time, the time I was pretending to be him.”
He took a breath but didn’t get a chance to let it out before he realized he was on the floor and Phillip was towering over him.

Max felt the blood ooze into the cavity of his mouth before he felt the pain. He brought his hand up to his face and cringed at where his father had connected with his jaw.

“How could you?” Phillip seethed “How could you do that to her? I raised you to be a man, not a snake!”

Diane sat motionless. She had never seen her husband strike any of their children. Over thirty years of marriage and she had never seen him strike anyone! Isabel stood just a few feet away from her mother petrified at the scene before her.

Max stood slowly and faced his father. “There is no excuse for what I did. I was in love with my best friend. Someone, that also happened to be my brother’s girlfriend. I was 18 and stupid.”

“How can you say you loved her? You don’t do that to someone you love! You betrayed her AND your brother!” Phillip continued to spit out

“What did she say?” Dianne finally asked not looking directly at Max. “You said you confessed this to her. What did she say?”

Max lowered his eyes “She was shocked at first but… she forgave me.”

“How could she forgive you? You violated her. Raped her” Phillip said with a perilously contained anger.

Max flinched at the word rape. ‘I guess that is what it looks like from the outside’ he thought “I don’t know how she forgave me, but I’m grateful and don’t want to question it. Regardless of my actions 10 years ago I loved Liz…” in a softer voice he said, “I still do. After it happened, I was going to tell her. I couldn’t face myself. I did feel remorse for the deception but then… Zan died and I was so confused… I didn’t know where I was going. When I finally got my head on right, Liz had left town. Since she has gotten back I have been trying to talk to her about this but it didn’t happen until last night.”

Phillip eased back a bit. “That’s why. That’s why it was difficult for you after Zan’s death. You got a taste of your own deception.” He was disappointed in Max. He was actually ashamed of Max’s actions but the fact that he was remorseful of his actions help soothe him.

“Be careful what you wish for…” Max said “Zan and I talked about his relationship with Liz the day he died. He knew how I felt for her, knew that he didn’t feel that way for her. He was going to break up with her. It just made me feel worse. Liz and I were going to talk the morning of Zan’s accident, I was going to tell her the truth but it all went to hell. I couldn’t face her after that. Everyone had all these expectations of me and I couldn’t bare Liz placing them on me as well, especially after what I had done to her. It took a long time to get my shit in order and when I was finally ready to face my ghosts, Liz disappeared.”

“And you’ve carried the secret for ten years…” Isabel finished

Max just nodded.

Diane sat quietly. She knew that she had played a big part in Max’s breakdown after Zan’s death. She had spent many months in therapy trying to work out the guilt she felt for not putting her surviving son above her own grief. Max and her had actually gone to a few sessions together and it had strengthened their relationship to a point that Diane knew Max was not telling them the truth. There was much more going on. Diane knew that even at 18, Max was the responsible one. Max shouldered the responsibility for everything. Max would never do what he was admitting to.
Diane also knew that Liz was not one to sleep around, was not one to toy with peoples feeling. There was something that Max didn’t want them to know… Something that might cause pain to someone else… Someone he loved. Diane decided to keep quiet and respect Max’s decision. She knew that eventually they would know the truth, but for now, she would accept Max’s tall tale.

Phillip thought everything was so clear now. It made sense that Max’s breakdown was triggered by guilt. It made sense that Liz would think that Zan was Emily’s father. Of course he was her father, she had never slept with anyone else! He suddenly felt so ashamed of himself. His son had violated her trust on so many levels and yet she forgave him. She had never done anything directly to him and he had judged her and berated her without mercy. He didn’t know how he would face her. Phillip sat down next to his wife and rested his head in his hands.

“Emily is still part of this family and Liz wants us to know her. We talked about the role I’ll play in her life and she wants Em to know I’m her father” Max said, “But she wants to be the one to tell her and I support her decision. I’m asking that you do the same. Liz is a good mother; she’s been through a lot. Before the day is done you will know a lot more about what she has gone through and although my actions have not been the example to follow, I am pleading with you to respect her and to support her.” Max took a step forward and stood in front of his father. “I know I’ve disappointed you. I’m sorry. I hope my actions from this day forward will, someday, redeem me in your eyes.”
Turning to his sister “Please don’t ask Liz about… well… about what I just told you. It’s very personal and I don’t want to bring her more shame than I already have”

Isabel nodded solemnly.

Diane reached out and took Max’s hand “Max…”

Max bent down and kissed his mothers hand “It’s gonna be okay, Mom. Liz and I… we were friends before all this and she has such a big heart… she’s doesn’t resent it and is not bitter. She’s seems okay it turned out this way.”

Phillip raised his head in disbelief “How can she be okay?”

“She said that now Emily has a father… I think her words were… with a pulse.” He said smiling.

Max knew that the comment would not shock his family. After ten years, they could easily talk about Zan and see the good and the bad. They could sit and talk about Christmas and vacations and family memories without pain. They had grieved the loss and come out stronger in the end.

“That is so wrong” Isabel said, a small chuckled caught in her throat as she grabbed her bag off the side chair “Are we going?”

Max nodded. “Are you ready?” He asked his parents.

“We’ll be out in a minute” Diane said, squeezing her son’s hand.

Max turned and followed Isabel, who was headed to the foyer.

Diane and Phillip stayed seated.

“I don’t know if I can face her” Phillip finally said “I… I yelled some pretty awful things to her last time I saw her”

“You have to face her. If Max could face her, you can too. Regardless of how it happened, we have a granddaughter and Liz is letting us be part of her life. Don’t through it back in her face.” Diane said as she stood up.

Phillip raised his eyes to his wife. “You’re right.” He stood up and took her hand.
As he approached the door, Diane tugged on his hand and Phillip looked back at his wife.

Diane lifted her shoulders and stared him straight in the eyes “Don’t you ever hit one of my children again” she said sternly before she walked past a stunned Phillip.

TBC...

Next Chapter: Emily's illnes is revealed... How will everyone react? Stay tuned...

posted on 23-Jan-2003 11:52:22 AM by starlady
Zoe, I must say you made me laugh w/ your comment on the wait for an update people.

I'm sorry I can't be faster w/ my updates. I have the next part half way done. I'm thinking of posting it as part 19a but I think the whole thing should be done by the weekend.
These parts have been tough to write because I want to make it entertaining but we are at a part where it's confession after confession. I am just dying to get it all out in the open so that I can have more dreamer writting to do and maybe some Emily/Max bonding. But I have to get through all these confessions before I get to the part I'm dying to write!

I've skipped the part where Liz's parents find out about Max but I'm eluding to it in part as a flashback. I'm trying to add some lighthearted moments just to make it easier for me to write.

Anyway. Stay tuned. It's coming. Soon.

~S

posted on 24-Jan-2003 9:27:18 PM by starlady
Hi all,

So, I'm back with the new part. It seems Chapter 19 is much longer than I planned so I'm breaking it up into 2 or 3 parts. I started part b and hopefully it will flow right through, maybe if my sister doesn't fill my weekend with mundane things I 'should' be doing I might finish it. If not expect it sometime next week (Wed or Thursday?)

Thanks again for reading and hopefully enjoying.
FBack is greatly appreciated, those reading in Lurkdom, come out and say hi!

Anyway, here's the next part.

~ Chapter 19a ~

“Alex, I think the blue cooler is in the box we left out in the garage.” Liz told Alex who had brought in two bags of ice from the back of the car.

Alex looks at Liz as his shoulders slouch from the weight of the bags. “I thought I had seen Josh putting it out on the patio on Thursday.”

“Nope. That was Emily’s tote bag.” Liz responded not taking her eyes away from the task she was doing. Liz had pulled out some ground beef and after ceremoniously seasoning the meat, she was in the process of forming the meat into patties so they could grill them latter. She already had some pork chops and some kebobs seasoned in the refrigerator. Maria had agreed to bring some Potato salad and some fruit salad to compliment the meal.

Alex sighed and turned to go out the same door he had just come through. “Liz! Is it in the box labeled Summer?”

Liz smiled to herself. Most of the boxes had been labeled summer, seeing as it was that time of year. “Its in summer #5. Serena packed it last.”

Alex came into the house a few minutes later with a collapsible cooler in his hand. Turning to look at Liz in the kitchen, he said, “How difficult could it have been to just buy a new one here? It was at the bottom of the box! Liz, you really need to relax on the money issue.”

Liz turned with her hands in the air full of Worcestershire sauce and garlic. “When I contribute as much as you do to the house expenses, I’ll relax on the money issue, until then, we dig through boxes and use our old cooler”

Alex shook his head and went back out, knowing this was a mute issue. They could argue for hours and he would always lose this one.

Liz peered out the window that was in front of the sink and watched Alex dump the two bags of ice into the cooler. She smiled and returned to the meat in front of her. She was unusually calm for what she knew was going to be a trying day. For some reason she felt the worse was behind her.

She had told Max the truth. Even before she found out that he was Emily’s real father she had dreaded telling him the truth. She knew why she had been so concerned about him knowing. She was afraid he would judge her. She softly laughed. He had never judged her. He was always a great friend because of that. He would sit with her for hours listening to her and never passed judgment.

Liz realized that her parents had become that way too. They gave her space and respected her, even after all the heartache she had brought upon them. They acknowledged that she had grown up while she was away and now… well they were there to listen and not judge. Liz paused; looking up she recalled how her parents had not pushed her when she told them about Max and Emily. She shut her eyes at the thought that they might think less of her. Their daughter had not known who the father of her own child was. The thing was that when Liz looked at them, after she told them, their eyes where still full of love for her. She found no recriminations. Their love did not falter. Liz wished she had had more faith in them when she was eighteen. So many years lost. They accepted what she said and didn’t ask for explanations.

Her mother looked at her and said “Honey, this obviously has you more upset than it would ever have us. We love Emily regardless who helped you bring her to the world. The gift you have given us in Emily will never be overshadowed by how she came to us. Liz, does he know about Emily and her condition?”

Liz nodded. “I told him earlier this morning.”

“Poor, Max.” Jeff said, surprising Liz. “Liz, the man lived at the Crashdown for months after you left. I think he felt almost as much anguish as we did. I think I understand his motives a little better now. I don’t care what happened between you two back then but whatever it was, as a parent, I feel better knowing that he cared deeply for you.”

Liz got up and put her arms around her father’s waist, hugging him tightly. “Thank you, Daddy”, Turning to her Mom, Liz stretched out her arm and pulled her into the hug. “I love you so much.”


Voices coming from the foyer pulled Liz out of her thoughts. Stretching out to look at the driveway, Liz saw the Guerrin van. Maria and Michael arrived.

“Hey, sweet cheeks!” Maria said as she walked into the kitchen holding a big plastic container.

“Maria. Thanks for coming early. You’re the best.” Liz said as she washed out her hands so she could hug her friend.

“No problem. I just dropped off Sammy at your parents. I feel so bad for having them baby-sit. I saw Em and Josh there and I thought I should just call our regular sitter to watch him, but your Mom would have nothing of it. I think she has some masochistic tendencies.”

Liz laughed at her friend as she threw her arms around her for a hug. “I thought about that too but I got the same reaction. Mom said she baby-sits for Sammy on occasions and she said it would be better this way because she would bring all the kids over later.” Looking at Michael who stood talking to Alex at the edge of the kitchen counter “Michael, Max tells me you are an ace in the kitchen?”

Michael rolled his eyes “What do you need?”

Maria smacked his arm “Be nice!”

Liz laughed at her friend’s antics as she opened the refrigerator and pulled out a carafe full of lemonade. “I just was finishing up with some beef patties for the barbeque but I really would like to talk to Maria. Do you mind?” Liz asked as she finished pouring Maria a drink.

Michael shrugged and walked into the kitchen. Washing his hands, he said “Could you have possibly have put more Worcestershire sauce in this meat? You can’t smother the meat in that sauce!” Michael started to open the cupboards “What else do you have here?”

“Come on, Chica. You have no idea what you have unleashed.” Maria said grabbing Liz by the arm and pulling her away from Michael.

Looking over her shoulder, Liz said “Thanks, Michael!” As she passed Alex she leaned in and gave him a peck on the cheek “See if he wants a beer. I’ll be back in a bit”

Alex nodded and smiled at the duo. Turning to Michael he came up beside him and putting his arm around his shoulders, he offered “Hey Michael, Liz said to get you a beer…” in a more hushed tone, he continued “but I have some aged whiskey hidden in my room and I think that before Liz gets back with Maria we can have pulled down a few shots… What’d you think?”

Michael turned to Alex and looking over his shoulder to make sure the girls were well out of earshot, he said “Alex, you have become my best friend”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Oh My God!” Maria screeched before Liz put a hand over her mouth to hush her.

“Be quiet, Maria. All of Roswell doesn’t need to know.”

“Does Alex know?” Maria asked

“Of course he knows.” Liz said before seeing the hurt look on Maria’s face “Maria, he lives with me! I was a mess this morning.”

“Yeah, I just miss the way things were before.” Maria sighed. Getting excited again, she started waving her hands all over the place “I can’t believe it was Max that night! God, if you had only known!” Frowning, Maria added “I can’t believe the bastard kept it from me all these years. And after I made him an official girlfriend!”

“Things might have been different if I had known, but the truth is that I don’t know for certain. It’s easy to say I would have done things differently in hind sight but, in that moment, ten years ago, I might have made the same decisions.” Liz said quietly in reflection.

Maria sighed and laid back on Liz’s bed, putting her hand on her growing belly. “I missed this”

Liz laid down beside her. “Me too.”

“He’s going to be a great father to Emily, You know that right? I mean he is the best babysitter. He’s the only one that can get Sammy to sit still for more that a minute. He’s a natural!” Maria commented

“Yeah. I know. He was so excited, Maria. I would have thought he would have been shocked or, I don’t know… confused by it all. I sure was! But he just stepped right up to the plate and didn’t hesitate. It was as if he had actually wanted this.”

“Maybe he did.” Maria said “Liz, the guy adores you and by extension Emily. What’s not to be happy about?”

“He only said he HAD feelings for me, like in the past. His life has changed and well… his feeling most likely have as well.” Liz argued

“Have your feelings changed for him?” Maria inquired “I mean before you left you made some pretty big revelations on that front. I’ve seen the way you interact. I saw the look on your face when you saw him with Sarah. You still have feelings for him. If your feelings haven’t changed for him, why can’t his feelings remain intact?”

Liz was quiet. Maria’s reasoning was too good for her to come up with a viable counterpoint. It made her hope.

Sensing it was good to let her ponder on that thought for a bit, Maria decided to change the subject. Turning to look at Liz, She asked “So, what’s this pow wow you have planned all about? I had thought it was because you needed some moral support when Emily met the family but with the kids at your parents… I’m wondering.”

Liz tensed at the question. She had wanted to tell Maria almost from the first time they had seen each other, she had wanted to curl up in her friends forgiving embrace and spill her guts out; but after she had seen her close relationship with Max she knew she had to wait. There was no way Maria would be able to hide this from Max and so she had kept quiet until she could tell them all. “Maria, I’ve asked everyone to come over because what I have to say is something that I just can’t keep repeating. It’s very difficult. In one week I’ve had to relay the story three times, I need to tell everyone at once.” Liz sat up and turned to Maria “Maria, remember I promised you I wouldn’t keep things from you anymore. I promised that I would share my burdens with you. It’s very hard for me to do that but if I want to get back what we had, I know I have to start sharing my life with you. The good and the bad.”

“I’m assuming this is the bad.” Maria stated

Liz nodded. “I’ve wanted to tell you since that first day we talked but it was a big secret to ask you to keep from Michael and Max. I told my parents when I got here and Kyle knows because he figured it out on his own. I never would have told him before telling you or Max, but he confronted me about it at work and I had to tell him. Then when I found out about Max… I had to tell him too.”

“So… it’s about Emily?” Maria asked

Liz looked up and begged Maria not to ask anymore. Maria pulled Liz into a hug. “I’m sorry. I’m not going to ask. I’ll wait”

“Thanks Maria.” Liz said wrapping her arms around her friend.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“This is good stuff, Alex. Just as good as what Max has stashed in his study.” Michael said taking another sip of his drink. “So, what’s the deal that you have it stashed? Max is just tired of Kyle and I drinking his stock so he tried to hide it” Michael laughed “but we kind of did a sweep of the residence one Sunday and found it.”

“Did I hear my name?” Kyle said as he walked in the open door

“Hey, Man!” Michael said in form of greeting to his old friend “Alex here was bringing out the good stuff. Check it out!”

“Shhh” Alex said taking a peek at the hallway on the second floor “Liz would have a fit!”

“So, what’s the deal with you and her? Is she like, your boss?” Michael asked “Do you two, have a thing?”

“Me and Liz? I don’t think so,” Alex laughed at the assumption. It was one that was commonly made. The next assumption was either that he had a thing for Serena or that he was gay.

“What? She’s hot, I could understand it happening” Michael continued as he poured Kyle a bit of the alcohol

Even though Kyle had been visiting the Parker/Whitman household for the last week, he still couldn’t figure out how Alex could live with someone as attractive as Liz and not have a thing for her. He could easily see why Max had spent all those years mooning for her. During the years she had been away, she not only had gotten more beautiful but also more interesting. She managed to juggle a career where she was well respected and motherhood with, what seemed little effort. On top of that she handled her daughter’s illness with great courage. She was a woman to be admired and Kyle did just that.

“You better not let Maria hear that comment flying out of your mouth. I might have been away for a while but I don’t think Maria has changed that much.” Alex said throwing a look in Michael’s direction

“She definitely hasn’t changed at all” Michael said in a defeated tone.

“I didn’t think so.” Alex chuckled “Anyway, Liz is like a sister to me. When we were in high school it was just the way the dynamics of our friendship was. After you see someone in a certain way, its hard to change.”

“I just don’t know how you do it. If I lived with someone like Liz, I would have had to at least tried.” Kyle said

“And you haven’t met Serena yet!” Alex said, amused at the incredulity in the guys.

“She’s a hottie too?” Michael asked, curious about the missing roommate

“Think Sarah, but grown up. More like a Julianne Moore.” Alex described watching the boys try to picture Serena.

“Damn! She’s hot!” Kyle said “Alex, Are you gay?”

Alex laughed. He knew that one was coming. “No! I’m just a glutten for punishment!”

At that they heard a knock at the door. “Anyone home?” Max’s voice resounded announcing the person in the open doorway.

Alex scurried about to put away the bottle of Scotch while Kyle threw his drink down his throat in one shot. Michael opened the microwave and stuck his glass in there and wiped the kitchen counter from all alcoholic residues.

“Hey! Great to see you guys made it” Alex said as he stretched out his hand to greet Max and his family.

“Are we late?” Max asked noticing that Liz was not there and the house was quiet.

“No, not at all. Liz and Maria are having girl time up in her room.” Alex said as he shook Phillips hand “Mr Evans.”

“Hi Alex. It’s been a while” Phillip responded soberly

“Yes, it’s been too long!” Diane said as she took Alex’s face in her hands to look him over “You’ve grown so much! You filled out very nicely” She said finally pulling him into a tight embrace

“Thanks! Mrs Evans. It’s great to see you again.” Alex replied returning her hug. Max’s mom was always the neighborhood mom. Their house was the one you usually went to when you just want to hang out. She had feed him enough tollhouse cookies to fill a stadium. Alex always thought she was disappointed she could never put any weight on him.

Alex looked at the remaining Evans who stood shyly at the doorway. Last time they met had started as a great reunion but it turned out to be a disaster. He was still a bit upset over her reaction but this was Emily’s aunt and he needed to make peace with her. If Liz could do it, he could do it as well. Pulling out of Diane’s hug, Alex smiled and extended his hand to Isabel. “It’s nice to see you again Isabel. Come in, Josh is the only wild beast in the house and we have relegated him to the Parkers for a couple of hours.”

Isabel lowered her head and looked at the offering. She stepped in and took Alex’s hand. “Thanks” she said softly and raised her eyes to Alex.

Alex knew she was saying more than just ‘thanks for the greeting’. He quickly squeezed her hand acknowledging her gratitude and pulled her into the house closing the door behind her.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Are those voices I hear” Liz said scrambling off the bed and cracking the door to her room a sliver so she could let the voices in. “Oh my god! They’re here!” She said more to confirm it to herself than to let Maria know.

“It’s going to be fine, Liz.” Maria said trying to encourage her friend.

Liz nodded. Everything would be fine. Max said they would all be okay. Everything had to be okay, for Emily. Liz walked to the dresser and looked at herself in the mirror. She quickly pushed back a few strands of hair that had fallen out of her long braid. Taking a deep breath, she headed out the door with Maria following.

She felt her hands tremble as she walked down stairs and she gave them a good shake before reaching the lower level. It looked like a convention of sorts. Everyone was standing around the kitchen counter greeting each other. Alex’s eyes met hers and he smiled reassuring her that everything was fine.

“Hi everyone.” She offered, trying to seem surer of herself than she actually was. “I’m happy you could all make it”

“Liz!” Diane said startled a bit at Liz’s entrance “I didn’t see you”

“I’m sorry, I was upstairs with Maria.” She responded just as Diane pulled her into a hug

“Thank you, Liz” Diane whispered in her ear. ”Thank you for this”

Liz cautiously returned the embrace, a little embarrassed and a little concerned over the statement. The last time she had seen Diane she had been in tears and it was in the middle of what could be called World War 3. Diane pulled back to look at Liz and Liz smiled, still a bit confused.

Liz looked around at everyone else. Phillip stood to the left of Diane. His eyes were downcast trying desperately to go unnoticed. It didn’t work. Isabel stood at the entrance of the hallway that led to the front door and Liz noticed that Kyle had also arrived. She had a full house.

“Mr. Evans. Thank you for taking time to come over. I really appreciate it.” Liz said. Phillip nodded without really raising his head to look at her. She expected him to be more difficult. “Isabel.” Liz said, acknowledging Isabel’s presence. Isabel surprised her by looking straight at her and smiling. Their last meeting had been worse than with Max’s parents. She was really confused now. The whole dynamics of the Evan’s family was completely off. Liz furrowed her brow in confusion but decided to not mess with a good thing. “Kyle did you get here just now as well?”

“No. I was here for a little while. We were just catching up” Kyle said pointing at Alex and Michael.

Liz finally let her eyes settle on Max who seemed to be a little fidgety. His face was turned to the side a bit and he seemed to be avoiding her look. “Max? You okay?” Liz asked a little concerned

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Max responded quickly

Liz nodded and clapped her hands together, rubbing them “Can I get anyone something to drink?”

Michael coughed loudly and Alex elbowed him in the gut. Liz looked at the pair with confusion as she walked into the kitchen.

“I’d love a refill of the lemonade you gave me earlier. That was good stuff! Dianne you just have to taste it!” Maria said breaking the tension that had settled in the room.

“I’d love some. Thank you, Liz” Diane responded

“Isabel?” Liz asked, peeking her head from the refrigerator “Would you like some too?”

“That would be nice. Thanks” Isabel said shyly

“Alex! Get these guys some beers! Unless any of you would prefer something else? I also have soda?” Liz offered

“Beers good for me!” Michael chirped as Kyle nodded his agreement

Maria started chatting up Diane and Isabel who had stayed in the kitchen and Alex dragged the guys out to the patio to get them all beers. Max came back in with his beer in hand and looked out to the kitchen where he saw Liz staring at him. She was serving the lemonade and suddenly stopped. Her brows squinted in her effort to see Max and he squirmed under her scrutiny. He was just about to turn around and go back out when she called him.

“Max. Could you come here?” Liz finally said. She could see something was not right but she couldn’t make it out

Max hesitated a few seconds but he knew it was best to just get it out of the way. At least there was not much of a crowd. He walked steadily up to the kitchen counter and placed his beer on it.

Liz’s jaw nearly hit the ground. She knew he didn’t look right! Taking his chin in her hand she turned his face to the right. There, as clear as day, was the beginning of a womper of a bruise. “What the hell happened to your face?” She asked, loud enough to cause the other women in the kitchen to turn and look.

“Damn, Max! Run into a car lately? Maria asked coming up behind Liz to get a good look at Max.

Max softly took Liz’s hand off his face and staring at her responded “I bumped into something earlier. It’s not as bad as it seems.”

“Not as bad as it seems?” Liz asked incredulously. She stared hard at Max looking for the truth as to what had placed that bruise on his face. She had seen enough bruises in the ER to distinguise between one man made and one made by a simple fall.

“It’s really isn’t” He replied softly, pleading that she not make a big deal about it.

Liz turned to Maria “Could you take care of this?” she asked pointing at the carafe of Lemonade on the counter. Maria nodded. Without looking at Diane and Isabel, she grabbed Max’s hand and pulled him in to the hallway leading to Alex’s room “We’ll be right back” she said over her shoulder.
“Liz…” Max protested as he was being dragged into the downstairs bathroom.

Liz closed the door behind them and lowering the cover of the toilet bowl, sat him on it.

Max rolled his eyes in frustration “Liz I’m fine. Really.”

Liz opened the cabinet under the sink and pulled out a pair of disposable gloves from a box they kept there. She then opened the medicine cabinet and pulled out a small tube of something, several q-tips and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide.

“Now, Mr.Evans. You are going to tell me how you got that on your face.” Liz said as she put on the gloves.

“I told you. I bumped into something.” Max said

Liz stood in front of Max and with her knees parted his legs so she could scoot in a little closer. Max’s air pipe seemed to close because all he could smell was Liz and not enough air was flowing into his lungs. All of a sudden her proximity, being so unexpected, was making him dizzy. He swallowed tightly as Liz placed her hand on his forehead and pushed his head back. There she stood holding his head in place with one hand, a q-tip in another and staring at him. She didn’t believe a word he said.

At the angle she had Max’s head he would have a hard time closing his mouth, let alone talking. Liz took the opportunity to do the talking as she pushed his mouth open wider and leaned in to check for any damage to the tissue of his mouth. “Max. I thought we were done keeping secrets from each other?” She knew it was a low blow but why waste time with preambles. Liz swiped the q-tip she had in her hand between his gum and his cheek tissue. Max flinched from both the swipe of the foreign object on the sensitive tissue and also from her words.

Pulling out the swab. Liz placed it in Max’s line of vision, showing him that it was covered in dabs of blood. “I’m not a fool, Max. I’m a Doctor. You don’t think I’ve seen my share of injuries to know what caused yours? I was just hoping you could have been honest with me.” Liz said as she grabbed another q-tip and drenched it in peroxide.

Max felt like an idiot himself. “I… I just don’t want you to worry. That’s all. You have enough on your mind.”

Liz pushed his head back again and bent down to look into Max’s mouth as she cleaned the small tear to his gums. “So, you thought that if you lied to me, I wouldn’t worry.” Liz swiped a little too roughly and Max’s hands grabbed onto her jeans in the back of her thighs to avoid pulling back. Liz paused at the contact “Sorry” she said softly.

Exchanging swabs for a new one, she continued her work well aware that Max still held tight to her legs. “You are so infuriating.” She finally said throwing the last q-tip in the trash.

Max loosened his grip on Liz and he felt his shoulders relax when Liz discarded the swab. “They know,” He stated as she leaned against the edge of the counter to pull out another q-tip ‘About Emily and Me.”

Liz froze at the statement. Looking down at Max she put two and two together. “You’re Dad did this to you?” She asked. Liz stepped back, ready to give Phillip a piece of her mind. Max grabbed her jeans again and pulled her back in place. “It’s fine, Liz. We talked about it and we hashed it all out.”

“What did you say, for him to react that way?” Liz asked. Max had been innocent in this whole mess of confused identity. It didn’t make sense that Phillip would lash out at him.

“I told him that you thought I was Zan when Emily was conceived and that the confusion wasn’t cleared up until yesterday.” Max hadn’t exactly lied. He could still look at her and say he wasn’t lying.

“There is more. What are you not telling me? We had agreed that I would be the one to tell them! Why did you do this?” Liz insisted

“No, Liz. I agreed not to go with you to tell your parents and I agreed to be present when my parents were told. You don’t let me win an argument Liz! I was not going to let you tell them. I needed to do this. I think it worked out for the best.” Max said trying not to sound too confrontational.
“Worked out for the best? Max!” Liz said pushing his head back so she could see his whole face “You have a split gumline!”

“It was worth it for me.” Max said proudly “Let me have this, Liz. Please.” He added softly as he gently caressed the back of her jean-clad legs hoping it would calm her.

Liz felt the heat from his hand crawling up her legs and she put her hands on his shoulders for support. She could feel her legs weakening under his touch and she thought they would give out from under her at any moment. “Max…” She said.

“Please, Liz” he pleaded, looking at her with sorrowful eyes

She swept her hands up his neck and cradled the back of his head. “What am I going to do with you?”

‘Love me’ he thought as he forced himself to breath.

They stared at each for a moment, Liz’s hands buried in the hair at the nook of his head and Max holding her close from the back of her legs. Liz could feel the heat rising in the small confines of the room and she forced herself to pull back a bit breaking the trance they had fallen into. “I’m going to let this one go, but from now one we discuss things of this sort together.” Liz said trying to get hold of her bearings.

“You will have to promise me that you will go my way in some of the discussions.” Max insisted

“Fine” Liz said as she grabbed the small tube of antibiotic and put a sliver of gel on the tip of the swab.

Pushing Max’s head back again, she went to administer the gel to the area when Max grabbed her hand.

“I’m serious Liz. It can’t always go your way. I’m a part of this too. You can’t take it all on your shoulders. If you try, I’m going to act on my own.”

Liz looked into his amber eyes and she felt herself get lost in their depth. She slowly nodded her agreement and Max let go of her hand. Silently she put the gel on the torn gum and stepped back out of Max’s reach. Liz moved over to the cabinet under the sink once again and grabbing a small rectangular object from the back of the cabinet, Max saw her fold it in half and heard a crack. She shook it up in her hands and then placed it firmly on his jaw.

“Keep that there for at least half an hour. It should reduce the possibility of swelling” Liz instructed.

Max nodded as he watched her remove her gloves and discard them.

Liz looked at Max “I think we better get out there. The kids should be back in about an hour. I told my parents to bring them over at about 3.”

Max nodded and stood up. Liz made her way to the door and paused as she grabbed the doorknob. “Do they think the worst of me?” Liz asked quietly

Max came up behind her and placing his hand on her hip he whispered in her ear “Never.”

Liz nodded and took a deep breath. Opening the door they stepped out to face their closest family and friends.

TBC...

Next part, the truth is told and the sh*t hits the fan. Or does it? Stay tuned to find out!


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Jan-2003 9:29:04 PM ]
posted on 27-Jan-2003 6:54:14 PM by starlady
Hi Guys!

I'm back with more...

Thanks for all you new Fbackers and those that always come back to bump and let me know how you are enjoying the story.

I really struggled with this part, but in the end I just decided Liz had to be straight forward with everyone. I hope I don't disappoint. Things will be geting more interesting soon. Just bear with me on these parts.

Without further ado... Here is the next part...

~* Chapter 19b *~

Liz looked at the deserted kitchen and knew Alex had moved everyone to the living room. Turning, she could see that Diane was seated next to her daughter on the sofa and Maria was sitting on the hand rest of the same sofa enraptured by a tale Kyle was spinning. Alex, Michael and Phillip stood next to the fireplace engaged in a conversation of their own.

Max put his hand on the small of her back and guided her to the group.

“…So, I had to just give up on the whole thing.” They heard Kyle say. He looked up at them and smiled. “Everything alright?” He asked causing everyone to turn and look at them

“Yes, everything is fine” Max said

“I see Liz patched you right up,” Maria said pointing at the ice pack he held in his hand.

“How could I stop her? It’s what she lives for, literally.” Max replied smiling down at Liz

“Well then follow the Doctor’s orders and keep that up against your jaw.” Liz said grabbing the ice pack from his hand and bringing it up to his face once again.

“Yes, Dr. Parker” Max teased holding the pack in place.

Liz turned and looked directly at Phillip with a cold stare. Phillip quickly averted her eyes and moved next to Diane on the sofa.

Diane did not miss the whole scene that played in front of her and she couldn’t contain the smile that was plastering itself on her face. Liz was acting very protective of Max and that just confirmed what she already thought. Max had done nothing to wrong Liz. At least Liz didn’t feel that way. This just feed her curiosity on the nature of Liz and Max’s relationship and also how the parental mismatch came to be. She sighed and thought that she would have to wait and see how this all would work out in the end.

Liz moved to the front of the room and everyone turned their attention to her. Alex quickly settled beside her and she smiled at him for the support he always offered.

“I’ve asked you all here today because you all are part of our lives in one way or the other. Being part of our lives comes with a heavy load and I feel you need to know everything about us so you can make an informed decision whether it’s something that you want to share. I know that I can count on some of you to weather the worst storms with me, and I will be forever grateful but I need to know if you.” Liz said addressing the Evans “want to be part of this”

“Liz, Please know we want Emily in our lives. She is our granddaughter.” Diane said without hesitation.

“I hope you all feel that way.” Liz said with questioning eyes.

“Liz, I owe you an apology.” Isabel said straightening up in her seat “Last week, I said things that I really didn’t mean.”

“Yes you did Isabel.” Liz countered “And it’s perfectly okay. I know you were angry”

Isabel thought for a moment. “I guess, I did mean it at the time. What I want to say is that I regret saying them because I don’t really think those things about you. You have been my brother’s best friend since he was a kid and I knew your character back then. I knew you wouldn’t hurt my family intentionally but still I wanted to hurt you and so I said things with that intention. I know they weren’t true but I said them, and I regret saying them. It was brought to my attention today that your heart is bigger than we all thought and I hope that you will see it in your heart to forgive me. I want to be a part of my niece’s life and that means that I will be part of yours as well. I hope we can start on a new footing.”

Liz knew it had taken a lot for Isabel to apologize so openly to her. Half of the people in the room didn’t know what had happened the previous week at Max’s house, yet she exposed her transgression in front of all. Liz smiled and nodded “I’d really like that, Isabel. Thank you.”

Liz caught movement from the corner of her eye and knew that the next one to speak would be Phillip. She didn’t think she could be as forgiving to him right now. Not because of anything he had done to her but because of what he had just done to Max. Liz quickly moved along halting any thing Phillip would have wanted to say. “We’re going to need all your support in the coming months and I’m grateful for it.”

Liz looked around at those in the room and knew she had to take a more detached approach to this news. It was just too draining on her. “Emily is ill. She suffers of a rare form of juvenile cancer.” Liz heard the common intake of breaths. “It’s rare because it usually strikes people over 60, it’s not common in children Emily’s age. The medical term is DeNova Myelodysplastic Syndrome. De Nova is the classification. It means that the health profession doesn’t know what triggered the occurrence. It’s not inherent and she had not been exposed to anything that could have triggered it. It’s just this big mystery as to why this disease chose Emily.”

No one had interrupted Liz and she realized they were all still in shock. Liz looked up to meet Max’s eyes and she saw that pain was etched in them. This was something that, no matter how many times you are told, it’s always hard to hear. Maria, Michael, the Evans, they all sat staring at her, mouths agape, probably wondering when she would let the clowns in and yell it was all a joke! Kyle on the other hand looked at her with soft eyes, the same look reflected in Alex’s expression; both encouraging her along. So she did just that, knowing that the questions would come soon enough.

“Emily was first diagnosed when she was five.” Liz said

“Oh my god!” Isabel gasped.

They were coming out of the initial shock, Liz thought.

“The symptoms are easily confused with anemia, tired all the time some bruising but when she started getting nose bleeds… well, I thought she needed to be looked at. The disease in its mildest case can easily be treated with a few transfusions. The new blood kind of kick starts her own bone marrow into producing healthy blood. She went through the treatment and she went into remission within a few months. It was during this time that we met Serena and Josh.” Turning to directly address the Evans, Liz clarified “Serena and Joshua are our other housemates. The five of us share a house in Boston. Serena will be joining us later on this week and you will all meet Josh later on today.” Liz then continued her the story of the last four years of her life.

“Josh was Emily’s roommate at the hospital. He had Neuroblastoma, a tumor in the back of his knee. Serena and I bonded over the common experience and we became a support for each other. Josh lost his leg to his disease but he went into remission and has remained that way. Not Emily. Emily had another relapse with her disease within the next two years. It was more aggressive this time and the transfusions weren’t enough. She had her first treatment of chemotherapy at that time.” Liz could hear the soft sobs of Diane. Phillip wrapped his arm around his wife for support. Liz’s own eyes filled with tears remembering how devastating it had been to hear of the relapse, but also because the treatment had dulled the light in Emily’s eyes. It had been such a difficult time for all of them. “The treatment did push Emily back into remission but not as long as we had hoped. Six months ago she came out of remission and all we have been able to do is keep her stable. She received a mild treatment of Chemo but it just stopped the deterioration of further blood cells. The new blood she creates is still diseased. She is on a regimen called supportive care. It’s a series of blood transfusions which at this point just dilutes the bad blood with good, it slows the process of the disease and gives us more time.” Liz finished trying desperately to contain her tears.

“More time for what?” Maria said staring at the floor. She had heard everything and understood it all as well. She just needed to hear it.

“More time to find a bone marrow donor…. Or…. Just more time” Alex replied

“So there is still hope?” Isabel asked

Kyle decided to help the flow of the conversation since Liz was still trying to compose herself “Emily’s only hope for long term survival is to find her a bone marrow donor. The best matches are those of the patient’s siblings and parents. Liz already was tested and she wasn’t a match. I had myself tested after I found out earlier this week.” Kyle confessed “but I wasn’t a match either. I’m sorry, Liz.”

Liz quickly came up to Kyle and threw her arms around him. “Thank you so much Kyle.”

“I didn’t do anything.” Kyle said sheepishly

“You did a lot.” Liz said swiping the tears that had betrayed her.

“But now that we know Max is Emily’s father there is a higher chance.” Isabel deduced out loud.

“What? When did this pop up?” Michael asked looking between Isabel and Max.

Maria reached out and squeezed her husbands hand, “We’ll talk about it later” She said in a hushed tone.

“That’s right” Max said, adding to Isabel’s comment “but it doesn’t assure that I’ll be a match. We’ll have a higher chance of finding Emily a donor if we are all tested.”

“Max!” Liz said. This was not the way she wanted to ask them, but then… How do you ask something like that?

“Of course we’ll be tested” Phillip said jumping forward. The thought of losing his granddaughter before even knowing her was a daunting prospect he didn’t want to know. “What’s involved?”

“It’s just a simple blood test. I went to State General in Albuquerque because that’s where Liz told me Emily was being treated. It takes about a week to get the results; I knew someone in the labs up there and we were able to expedite the process but it still took 5 days. I got my results just yesterday. I’m sure we could set up a donation bank locally at Roswell Memorial and that way no one has to drive all the way to State.” Kyle chimed in.

“We could probably do it on a lunch break” Maria said enthusiastically

Diane wiped the tears that had been streaming down her face and sat up straight “Of course! We could probably get the Women’s Auxiliary to setup a testing center at the high school. We could promote the event at the Crashdown and at the UFO center. You use to work there when you were young.” She said turning to Max “I’m sure Brody would be happy to help.”

“I didn’t even think of that. That’s a great idea, Mom.” Max replied as hope rise in him.

“And I can talk to some of the charity groups I’ve work for in the past. They must have some mailing list or volunteer lists we could use.” Isabel chimed in happy to be able to contribute.

“So… After we find Emily a match what’s involved in the transplant. I mean I’m sure everyone that’s going to be tested will want to know.” Michael asked Liz.

Liz wondered when had the conversation taken a life of it’s own. She was so overwhelmed by the support everyone was giving her she sat on the edge of the coffee table and hiding her face in her hands let out a cry.

“Liz! Are you okay?” Alex asked quickly kneeling beside her and rubbing his hand over her back.

Max almost bounded over the sofa to get to Liz’s side “Liz” He said softly pushing a few strands of hair out of her face “What’s the matter?”

Liz tried to regain her composure once again. “I… I was so scared.” She managed to get out. “I didn’t know… I had no idea how you all were going to take this.”

Liz had thought there would be more accusations. More harsh judgments made. After seeing Max come in the door sporting his new bruise, she had in fact thought it would be worse that she had originally imagined; and yet there was no hurt feelings, there was no recriminations. They didn’t ask questions, they all just started mobilizing themselves in an effort to save her baby. Someone they didn’t even know existed just one week ago.

Diane scooted forward and placed a hand on Liz’s knee. As if reading Liz’s mind, she said “Liz, honey. Emily is not just part of you, she’s part of us. I lost one of my babies and I don’t want to lose another. I couldn’t do anything to save Zan but I’ll be damn if I don’t move heaven and earth to save my grandbaby.”

Liz threw her arms around Diane and hugged her fiercely “Thank you” She said; then raising her eyes, she looked at the group of people that now stood surrounding her “Thank you all.”

“Okay, Okay, I can’t take all this hugging and weeping. I’m too hormonal to let myself go down that road without it being a disaster; so tell us more on the transplant process” Maria said.

Everyone laughed and Liz quickly wiped away her tears.

“Are you okay?” Max asked quietly. Liz looked down at him and smiling at his concern, quickly nodded. She then grabbed his hand, which still held the ice pack and placed it on his face once again. Max shook his head, a smile creeping upon his lip as he stood up. Liz will always be the eternal healer.

The rest of the hour went by with Liz giving them details about how harvesting of bone marrow was done.

“Will I be able to donate if I match?” Maria asked concerned about the advance stage of her pregnancy. She was 6 months along now but she knew that the process that Liz was describing was lengthy and she might be well into her third trimester before the procedure could be done. The general anesthesia could affect her baby and this concerned her.

“I… I don’t know. It’s not my specialty and it never occurred for me to ask. I can find out and let you know.” Liz responded.

“The whole process seems fairly easy on the donor but it sounds quiet harsh on Emily.” Isabel commented

Max had been listening attentively to the details of the transplant process and had also come to the same conclusion.

“It is very harsh on Emily. That’s why it’s best to find a donor now that she is still strong and fairly stable. The longer the wait the more difficult it will be on her.” Liz responded

“Would the transplant be done locally?” Phillip asked “I mean, would she stay in Roswell during the process?”

“Well… we are set up to follow her treatment in State General, they have a larger facility but I am going to request that her supportive care be done locally. It’s a very long drive and she then has to sit through the transfusion. It’s just really too much. I’m going to ask them to allow her to get her care locally. Her transplant would be done at State, though.”

Phillip nodded.

“The services at State are excellent.” Kyle offered “they completely renovated their pediatric ward not more than six months ago; and their oncology group is rated among the three best hospital groups in the state. Emily is in great hands.”

Liz nodded “Her doctor in Boston couldn’t speak more accolades over the physician’s at State General. I feel good about them.”

“Good.” Phillip said as they all heard the knock at the door.

“That should be my parents with the kids.” Liz said standing up nervously.

“I’ll get it” Alex said as he headed towards the door.

Maria got up quickly and followed “I’ll help. Sammy probably has one of your parents crazed by now.”

“My son? NEVER!” Michael said teasing Maria who in turn just rolled her eyes at his antics.

Liz approached the Evans who had stood up and look expectantly at the door “I know Max has spoken to you about what Emily knows about you and I really appreciate your patience. She already suspects something but I want to tell her privately. I promise the next time you see her will be under completely different circumstances.”

“Liz, please. Don’t worry. We know. We’re just happy to be here.” Diane said holding on to Phillips arm for support. Her nerves were all jumbled. She felt like she could jump right out of her skin.

“Okay, Come on” Liz said walking out of the living room and heading toward the door.

Alex opened the door to find Jeff and Nancy with their hands full. Nancy held a squirming Sammy in her arms while Jeff held the form of a sleeping Emily.

“Are we having a party? “ Josh asked pushing through the door as soon as Alex opened it.

“Well hello to you too.” Alex said pushing to the side so the boy would not trample him.

“We ARE! Woo Hoo!” Josh announced

Nancy followed the boy in “Hi Alex” she said pecking him on the check “Josh please don’t yell, you’ll wake up Emily.”

Josh turned back to look at Nancy “Sorry.” He said in a more subdued tone, He then turned and smile widely at the guest. “Are we having a barbeque like last week?” He asked Liz who was approaching him.

“Yes, Joshua.” Liz replied using his full name, something Josh was not keen on. “Why don’t you grab the meat that we have stashed in the fridge so we can get the barbeque rolling.”

“Cool! Hey Aunt Maria!” He said scooting between everyone to get to the kitchen.

“Hey! Where’s my lovin?” Maria said pulling on the end of his t-shirt to halt his escape.

Josh turned around and kissed her cheek, throwing a sideways glance at Michael who was pulling his son from Nancy’s arms. “Michael, Kyle got me that game we were playing last week. I can sooo take you down!”

Michael chuckled “We’ll see about that!”

“He is getting to be quite a handful” Nancy said to Maria who was plastering kisses all over Sammy’s face. “How you’re going to survive another one is beyond me.”

“We’re hoping for a girl this time” Michael chimed in “We’re hoping that it will avoid the conspiring that goes on between boys or at least that’s the theory Maria is trying to sell”

With her hands free Nancy was able to greet the Evans and Kyle.

“Let me take that load off of you Jeff” Alex said taking Emily into his arms. Max looked on with a little envy. It was the first time he had seen Emily since he found out about her being his and it still seemed a little surreal. He wanted to jump into his role as father but at the same time, it felt awkward. Alex just seemed to know what to do and it stung a bit to know that it was due to his years at Liz and Emily’s side.

Emily squirmed a bit before throwing her arms over Alex’s shoulders “Uncle Lala, I don’t want to eat the peas”
Alex passed a hand over her back and soothed her a bit. “I’ll take her upstairs.” He announced softly.

Coming up to her daughter, Liz pushed Emily’s hair back and kissed her forehead. “Has she been napping long?” She asked her parents.

“She fell asleep on her way here” Jeff replied

Liz nodded and knew that they needed to let her sleep. She looked at the Evans with regret. They had been waiting for this moment for so long and now they would have to wait a little longer. She offered them a small smile, “She should be waking up in less than an hour.”

Diane and Phillip were mesmerized at the small form that Alex held in his arms. Her hair was a chocolate color, Diane thought it looked more like Liz’s, it was lose and laid fanned across her back. Her skin was pale and almost translucent, and her body was small and fragile. She looked like a ballerina, so delicate.

Diane came up behind Liz and took a peek at the sleeping child. “She’s beautiful”

Liz gleamed with pride. Taking her daughter’s hand, she pressed another kiss on it before Alex took Emily away and put her to bed.

“Hey! I need someone to turn on the grill” Josh called from the patio doors

“Josh, come here” Max called.

Josh looked over his shouldered at the meat that laid on the small table next to the grill, he ran over to the grill and covered the plastic containers before returning to the house.

Max smiled at Josh and putting his arm over his shoulder he brought him over to his family.

“Josh, I want you to meet my family. This is my mother, my father and that one over there” He said pointing to Isabel who was chatting with Maria and Liz “is my sister, Isabel. Mom, Dad, this is Josh. He is not only and excellent runner but also is very handy to have around to interpret all things Japanese.”

Josh smiled shyly at the couple and extended his hand “Nice to meet you” He said

“I’ve heard many nice things about you today, Josh. I’m happy to meet you.” Phillip said shaking his hand firmly and then patting him on the shoulder.

“Ah, but what Max didn’t mention was that our Josh here is a basketball genius, in a week he has mastered the sport enough to take on little Max here.” Kyle said joining the group and ruffling Josh’s hair. Josh quickly swatted the hand away “Who did that to your hair, Josh?” Kyle asked referring to the yellow spikes that adorned Josh’s usually burgundy hair.

“Yeah, what’s up with the hair? A skunk family adopt you?” Michael added as he joined the gathering with his son hoisted upon his shoulders

“Michael! That’s a terrible thing to say! If I were you I would stay away from passing judgment on questionable hairstyles. If I recall you’ve seen your share of…” Diane started

“Okay, Okay, Mrs. E. We don’t want to give the child any ammunition” Michael interrupted.

Diane laughed at Michael’s antics. “It ‘s a pleasure to meet you, Josh” Diane said shaking Josh’s hand “and if any of these young men give you a hard time, you let me know. I’ll put them in their place.”

Josh smiled at Diane and nodded as if he was scheming “That’s good to know. Thank you.”

Max put his arm around Josh’s shoulder and turned to the patio “Now, let’s see what we can do about that grill”

Josh turned to take another look at the Evans and then looked at Isabel. He recalled them from the picture he and Emily had seen in Max’s house. There was one missing. The one that looked like Uncle Max. There was a reason why they were here. He hadn’t met Aunt Maria’s family or Kyle’s or Michael’s, he still hadn’t even met Uncle Lala’s family; yet all of Uncle Max’s family was here. Turning to look up at Max, Josh thought ‘Emily has to be wrong’.

TBC....

Next Part: Emily joins the fun and also conspires with Josh

posted on 31-Jan-2003 10:19:07 PM by starlady
Hi all,

Surprised to hear from me? Well hold onto your jammies because I come tote'n a new part!

Don't kill me after reading this part, please! I promise it will all be explained (that is if you don't figure it out all on your own)

Before I post I want to say to max and liz believer... Wow! I'm impressed w/ your feedback. Thanks for taking the time to review the story at such lengths. And just to let you know... I'm not a doctor. I just did a lot of research to try and make it believable.

I also want to give a big THANK YOU to a group of you that have nominated this story for Best FF based on a Challenge.

Yes for those of you that don't know, the idea of this fic was posted as a challenge from Lillie. She has some really great ideas and I just couldn't help myself.

For those that have a chance, take a peek at the FF nomination board and vote for your favorite fic. There are tons of categories and the board has enough stories to fill each and everyone.

Well.. On with the story...

~* Chapter 19c *~

Emily stretched out languidly on her bed. Her arms touched the wall in back of her head and her toes curled into little claws. She heard noises coming from downstairs, voices. She tried to listen carefully to see if she could make out who it was, but the rustling of the top bunk hindered her ability to identify the people downstairs. “Josh?” Emily asked, already knowing it was her best friend.

Josh’s head peaked over the edge of the bunk to look down at the small figure occupying the bed. “Good! You finally woke up!”

“What are you doing?” Emily inquired. Josh wasn’t one to take naps. He had all the energy Emily lacked and then some.

“I sneaked upstairs a little while ago hoping to catch you awake but, today of all days, you decide to sleep in!” Josh replied swinging his legs over the edge of the bunk and slipping down to the floor.

“Who’s downstairs?” Emily asked

“Everyone! Aunt Maria, Michael, Kyle, Uncle Max and… his family” Josh replied letting the last part float in the air. He looked at Emily with his eyebrows arched hoping she would see the meaning of the guest list.

Emily shot up in bed. “They’re here?”

Josh nodded. “His mom is really cool. Like Grandma Nancy.”

“Is he here, too?” Emily asked hoping to get a peak at the mysterious man that was a mirror image of her Uncle Max.

Josh shook his head “Everyone else is here. The girl is his sister, Isabel.”

“Why do you think he didn’t come?” Emily questioned with a tone that let Josh know that she was disappointed.

“Maybe, because it’s not him?” Josh replied stating what was obvious to him.

“It has to be him. Josh, you didn’t see the look on uncle Max’s face. He’s not my dad.” Emily said quite certain of her statement.

“Why are girls like this? It must me inbred. Sometimes you act, so not like a girl, and then you act like this.” Josh said as he stood up to leave.

Emily grabbed his wrist before he got out of reach. Josh looked back to see Emily’s puppy dog eyes. He shook his head and sat back down.

“Em, think about it. Aunt Liz, talked about Aunt Maria and Uncle Max, she never talked about another guy.” Josh stood up again but this time Emily let him walk over to the desk. He went rifling over some boxes and Emily watched him pull out a small cylindrical container. Returning to the bed, he pulled the top off and retrieved a sleuth of lose papers.

Laying out the papers in front of Emily, he pushed aside the few pages that had been ripped out of Anime America. Emily stretched out and grabbed the paper, she knew, he was looking for. Turning on the small flashlight she kept pinned within the springs of the upper bunk.

“See, She talked about everyone on this list. Mrs. Deluca must be Aunt Maria’s mom.” Josh pointed out

Emily nodded “She’s the pie lady”

“But there is no mention of Uncle Max’s family. Why would Aunt Liz not talk about Uncle Max’s brother if he were your dad? It doesn’t make sense”

“How do you know it’s his brother” Emily asked still looking at the fluorescent pink paper in Josh’s hand

Josh looked at his friend incredulously “You’re kidding right? They’re identical! They have to be brothers, if not twins!”

Emily nodded her acknowledgement. “Maybe he was a bad man.”

“Aunt Liz wouldn’t let your dad be a bad man.” Josh said trying to brush away his friend’s concern.

“Maybe, he didn’t want me?” Emily said trying to find excuses for a missing father.

“I doubt that.” Josh replied as he stuffed the papers back into the cylinder

“Why? It happened to you” Emily asked

“Have we not discussed this before? I’m not a cute and cuddly little girl” Josh noted as he lifted the ends of Emily’s hair over her head and let it fall like a cascade over her shoulders “anyway, my dad was a jerk!”

“My dad could be a jerk, too.” Emily offered

“Forget it!” Josh said walking over to the desk again. He pushed the small cylinder under several papers. Turning to look at Emily he continued “I’m telling you its Uncle Max; but if you want to find out about the other guy, we have a good chance today.”

Emily scooted out of the bed and slipped on the small sneakers that lay at her bedside. “Let’s take a peak”

Josh walked over to the door to their room and slid to the ground opening it just enough to let him and Emily crawl out to the hallway that looked over the living room, an angle that also offered a good view of the patio door.

“I feel like I’m Chidori and you’re Sagara Souske!” Emily giggled remembering a couple from one of her favorite anime shows.

“Oh, yeah… We really look like them… especially with your blue hair and all” Josh whispered, his words dripping with sarcasm “now, be quiet or they’ll hear us”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Sorry, I can’t offer a real pool like at Max’s” Liz said apologetically as they sat around the small wadding pool in which Sammy was happily splashing.

“Oh, Please! Every time I go over there I feel as if my heart is in my throat. Sammy can’t go in on his own and Michael seems to find perverse pleasure in diving in the pool with our son. He says he’s teaching him how to swim. I much prefer this.” Maria responded, sticking her feet in the water to tickle her son. “Do you remember how we use to sit in one of these, you used to keep one on your balcony for when it got really hot? Max used to squeeze between us and we always harassed him because he got to wear fewer clothes than we did.”

Liz laughed at the memory.

“As I recall, you didn’t wear much on the clothes front, back then” Max said coming up behind Maria “The bikinis you put on were little scraps of nylon”

“Oh, please! Like that really bothered you. You were almost as hormonal as I am now” Maria replied. Grabbing his arm, Maria pulled him down to her level and gave him a good smack on the back of his head “That’s for not being a good girlfriend. Your status has been revoked!”

Max rubbed the back of his head and looked at Maria as if she had gone insane “What did I do?”

“You know very well what you did and that was for not telling me that you DID IT!” Maria emphasized the last words as she opened her eyes and stared at Max.

Comprehension dawned on him and he squirmed a little. Maria was Liz’s best friend, it would be natural for Liz to tell her and Max was sure she knew more details of that night than he was comfortable sharing. “You know… I think I need to go and help Michael turn the burgers.” He said as he scooted over to the grill leaving Maria and Liz giggling at his reaction.

“You are soo mean!” Liz said

“Serves him right!” Maria replied nodding her head.

“I can’t believe I’m actually laughing with you about this. This morning I was a basket case.” Liz pondered

“Girl, You need to relax! “ Maria said extending her hand to cover Liz’s “We’re sharing the load, right?”

Liz squeezed Maria’s hand “Yes. We are.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Alex grabbed the cups that were on the patio table where The Evans were chatting with The Parkers. “Anyone want a refill?” He asked.

“Oh, sweetie, you don’t have to serve us. We can get it.” Nancy said.

“Actually, I’m headed to the kitchen and wouldn’t mind. You know what?” Alex said thinking a minute “I’m just going to bring the carafe out here. The soda is in the cooler next to the sliding door and I’m sure that the lemonade will fit in there.” Putting the cups down again, he turned to leave.

Isabel jumped up from her seat as she saw Alex move away from the table. “Let me help you.”

“You don’t have to. I’m okay.” Alex replied

“No, PLEASE let me help you.” Isabel said as her eyes widened in a plea.

Alex smiled and conceded, “Actually, I just might need some help.”

“We’ll be right back.” Isabel said over her shoulder

Diane and Phillip looked at each other, eyebrows raised in suspicion.

“So, what does Alex do for a living that he can just pick up and leave like he did?” Phillip asked the Parkers.

“He’s in the computer business” Jeff replied, “It seems that the company he works for has an office down in Clovis and they are letting him doing something with televisions.”

Phillip looked at Jeff utterly confused by the statement.

Nancy smacked Jeff’s arm. “Jeff doesn’t know what he’s talking about, Phillip. Alex is… telecommuting? I think that’s what it’s called”

“I see!” Phillip said, happy that he was somewhat computer literate. “That was very nice of his company to allow him that liberty. I mean not all companies will allow something like that for an extended length of time.”

“Well, it seems that our little Alex is their treasure and they really didn’t want him to leave.” Nancy stated proud of the man Alex had become.

“But he was always into that. I remember the weekends he would spend in front of Max’s computer, fixing this and adding that.” Diane said, “I’m so happy that Liz had his support”

“We have much to be grateful to him for.” Jeff said wistfully “God knows where our baby would be, if it wasn’t for him.”

“Emily and Josh are very attached to him. Josh’s father abandoned his mother shortly after his birth so Alex has been the only stable father figure in both their lives” Nancy said

Diane looked over to the grill, at where Max stood talking to Kyle and Michael. The reaction didn’t go unnoticed by Nancy.

“You know.” Nancy announced “About Max and Emily.”

Diane looked at her husband before nodding at the statement. “Max told us this morning” She confirmed

Jeff and Nancy looked at each other momentarily before Jeff asked, “How does he feel about it?”

Diane thought about that morning and the way Max has spoken to them. “Ashamed and Proud” she replied.

Jeff didn’t understand the response. The feelings were contradictory and it didn’t make much sense. Nancy on the other hand had a better idea of what Diane was saying.

Seeing the confusion on Jeff’s face Diane clarified. “Ashamed for not being there for Liz, and very proud of Emily being his.”

Jeff nodded his understanding. That was the Max he knew. He was not a boy that took his responsibilities lightly. He knew Max was going to be a permanent figure in his daughter’s life.

“I don’t know how Liz could be so forgiving. She’s… She’s incredible.” Phillip said looking at Liz and Maria splashing water with their feet onto Sammy, who was giggling whole-heartedly.

Nancy was not certain what forgiveness was needed but she thought it might have to do with guilt that Max might be feeling for leaving her to raise their child alone. “There is no time to hold grudges. I think Liz has made us quite aware that the time we spend resenting the past is less time we are putting into enjoying our present and securing our future.”

Diane stretched out her hand and took Nancy’s. “I couldn’t have said it better. We have a grandbaby to love.” Turning to look at Phillip she finished her statement “and I won’t waste a minute more than I have to.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt so old” Isabel said as she walked behind Alex in to the kitchen.

“Why would you say that?” Alex questioned.

“Didn’t you see? I was relegated to the ADULT table” Isabel said in a mock huff

Alex chuckled, “Sorry about that. I’ll keep an eye out for you in the future”

Upstairs, hidden from plain sight, Josh poked Emily in the ribs with his elbow. “You don’t look like her but that doesn’t mean anything” he whispered.

“She’s really tall. Almost as tall as Uncle Lala” Emily said in astonishment.

Josh nodded his agreement “Shhh. they’re talking”

“Alex, I wanted to talk to you because I realize that I not only owed Liz an apology but you as well. I’m really sorry for what happened last weekend…” Isabel started as she grabbed a kitchen towel and started folding it in a nervous habit.

“Isabel.” Alex interrupted “You don’t owe me anything. You apologized to Liz and she accepted it. It’s water under the bridge.”

Emily and Josh looked at each other; confused at the conversation they were hearing.

“That’s not true.” Isabel said, “I attacked you as well. I questioned your honorability, even threw it in your face. I shouldn’t have. You are an incredible person. What you have done for Liz, for Emily… I’m really sorry for what I said.”

“What I do for Liz and Em, I do it out of love for them. They are my family as is Josh and Serena. They have to put up with me too and that’s not always a picnic. So, don’t give me a lot of credit. We help each other, we’re a team.” Alex said as he leaned against the counter and crossed his arms over his chest.

Isabel soaked in the site of the man in front of her. With his arms crossed like that she could see that Alex had in fact filled out VERY nicely. His shoulders were broad and his arms strong. He didn’t dress in a manner that would accentuate his toned body and that made him more enticing. She moistened her lips and taking a deep breath put the towel on the counter and moved to stand in front of Alex.

Alex tensed and dropped his hands to grab onto the counter that he was leaning against. All of a sudden the room had shrunk in size and Isabel seemed really close.

“Alex, I’m part of that team now.” Isabel said, putting her hand on Alex’s chest “Emily is part of my family too.”

Josh heard the words and immediately grabbed Emily’s arm. They looked at each other with wide eyes. This was the confirmation they needed. These people were in fact Emily’s paternal family.

“We’re going to beat this.” Isabel continued “There is no way we’re going to lose her, when we just found her”

Emily’s face dropped at the statement. Her eyes filled with tears and she quickly got up and rushed into the room, slamming the door behind her.
Josh wasn’t as quick and was left staring at the door. “Em, open the door.” He breathed into the crack of the door and it’s archway.

Alex heard the shuffle upstairs and cursed himself for being so stupid and careless. Grabbing Isabel’s shoulders he pushed her a step back so he could pass by her. Stepping into the dining room, he looked up to the hallway. There he saw Josh whispering into the door of his room. “FUCK!” He mouthed although no words came out.

Josh turned around and looked at Alex with an apology in his eyes. Alex swung his hands over his head and stepped forward a few steps so he would be out of Josh’s eyesight. “Fuck” he said again this time in a small whisper.

Isabel who had been at first confused, found her way to the same spot Alex had been to and at the site of Josh covered her mouth and cursed herself as well. Moving forward to stand beside Alex, she clenched her fists in front of her mouth. “God! I’m so sorry, Alex. I didn’t know they were up there… Shit! I’m so stupid!”

Alex passed his hands over his face and stared at Isabel. He was not actually looking at her, he was thinking of a way out of this mess. He didn’t know what Emily had heard but he knew she had heard something. Something that upset her. He ran through the conversation he was having with Isabel and replayed all her words in his head. She had said that Emily was her family. That could be explained… but not in a way that wouldn’t be seen as a lie after Emily found out the truth. This was mommy territory. It was out of his league. Grabbing Isabel’s wrist he said “Get Liz. Tell her we have a situation that needs her attention.”

Isabel nodded vigorously and started to head out when she felt Alex tug on her hand once again. “Isabel, Calm down. This is nobody’s fault. I didn’t realize they were up there either.”

Isabel nodded again and hurried out to the patio as Alex took the steps up to the rooms two at a time.

TBC...

Tune in next to find out what has upset Emily so much... Is the cat out of the bag?

posted on 7-Feb-2003 9:56:25 PM by starlady
Hey all,

Here's the next part. I hope you enjoy.

~* Chapter 20 *~

“Emily, open the door.” Alex pleaded. He could hear her inside the room sobbing and it broke his heart. “Sweetheart, tell me what’s the matter?”

“Go away.” Was the response that came from within the room.

Alex looked down at Josh. Pulling him to end of the hallway he asked, “What did you two hear?”

Josh looked back at the closed door. He didn’t want to betray his friend confidence, didn’t want to tell them about their ‘research project’ but he didn’t know why Emily was upset. He was afraid that she would have an ‘episode’ while locked in the room. He was afraid that everyone would blame him. “We didn’t hear anything, Uncle Lala. Just… that Isabel lady… said that Emily was part of her family and they were going to help us save Em.”

Alex nodded looking back at the door. “It’s okay Josh. Thanks for telling me the truth.”

Liz rushed up the stairs with Max hot on her heels. Everyone else stayed on the first floor since there was a clear view of the thin hallway from there. “What’s the matter, Alex?” Liz asked concern etched on her face.

Alex pulled her to the side just a bit to grant them a small bit of privacy “Em has locked herself in the room. It seems Isabel and I were talking and we hadn’t realized we had an audience. Emily Marie heard more than her share and, I want to say, she is somewhat upset.”

“What were you two talking about?” Liz inquired, hoping that it wasn’t what she thought it was.

Alex stepped back so that Liz could see his expression. “I’d give you three guesses but you would only need one.”

“Oh, Alex!” Liz chastised. This was not how she wanted Emily to find out. She was supposed to tell her tomorrow. The day had been going so well. Now all of a sudden there was a disaster.

Max looked on, accessing the situation. “Josh, maybe you should wait downstairs” He said noticing that Liz was deep in thought. He knew she was listing her options. Options that he didn’t see many of.

“I’m really sorry. I don’t know why she’s like that. We didn’t hear anything that we didn’t already know.” Josh said as he moved toward the stairs.

“Josh. What do you think you know?” Liz asked him moving a little closer so that the sounds would not carry into the rest of the house.

Josh looked at Liz. He paused a moment. He knew the charade was over. He knew that this, in a way was what Emily needed. Straightforward answers to questions she didn’t want to ask. “We know Emily is related to Uncle Max. Really related.” He said looking straight into Liz’s eyes, so there was no way she could mistake what he was saying. “We just can’t agree on how they are related. I think one thing, Em thinks another.”

“What do you think?” Liz asked putting a hand around Josh’s shoulders and cradling the back of his head in a very reassuring way.

Josh turned his head to look at Max, who stood next to him. He kept his eyes down, staring at Max’s shirt buttons “I think Uncle Max is not really Emily’s UNCLE. I think, you” He said pointing at Max but still not looking at him in the eyes “are Emily’s father”

A small smile spread across Max’s face.
Liz on the other hand was not pleased. This was what she was dreading. She lowered her head and shook it slightly.
Max was careful not to say anything, He wanted to follow, Liz’s lead, but he was not going to lie about his relationship to Emily.

“What does Emily think?” Liz finally asked

Josh was disappointed momentarily. He was hoping someone would confirm his suspicions but he thought he would have to just make due with the fact that no one had denied it.

“Emily says it’s not him. That she asked him and he denied it.” Josh admitted

Max rolled his eyes skyward and put his hands on his hips as he turned away. He was upset at the possibility that Emily might think that he lied to her. When she asked him last week, he had no idea that she was his. He had not told her that he was not, in fact, her father but he had not said he was. Emily could easily interpret that as a lie by omission.

“Thank you, Josh for being honest. Now, could you wait for us downstairs?” Liz said

Josh nodded and started downstairs where Kyle put a hand on his shoulder and giving Michael a quick look, took him into the living room where they sat to wait the outcome.

Liz looked over the railing at her friends and family. “Could you all give us a moment?”

They all nodded and with a few backward glances headed out to give Liz as much privacy as the open floor home could offer.

“I tried to coax her out but nothing” Alex said.

“I’ll take it from here” Liz said walking past him toward the door.

Alex walked by Max and patted his shoulder, giving him a weary look as he headed down the stairs.

Max walked up behind Liz and before she knocked on the door he grabbed her hand and pulled Liz to the other side of the doorway.

“Liz, I’m going to go in with you.”

Liz shook her head. “No, Max. I need to talk to her on my own.”

“Liz, she’s going to think I lied to her.” Max insisted, “I don’t want her to think that.”

“I’m not going to let her believe that.” Liz assured him “I just need to tell her this myself.”

“Compromise?” Max asked trying to find a middle ground “I’ll stay here so that after you tell her, I can talk to her.”

Liz quickly agreed and Max let his hand drop from her arm.

Moving to the door, Liz knocked. “Emily. Can I come in so we can talk?

“I don’t want to talk to you” was the soft reply she heard from the other side of the door.

“Em, honey. I think we need to talk, so please open this door.” Liz insisted, firmly.

Silence came from the other side.

“”Em, why didn’t you just ask me? If you had questions I would have answered them.” Liz continued hoping that Emily would eventually open the door, “Maybe you can ask me now?”

“I already know!” Was the quick response received

“Maybe you have some more questions?” Liz prompted. Max stood with his head leaning back against the wall next to the door. He heard so much anger in the small voice and for the first time, he was really scared that Emily might not accept him as her father.

“I know all I have to know!” Emily replied

“I don’t think you know half of what you think you do. Please, Emily, let me talk to you, explain things.” Liz pleaded

There was another stretch of silence and just when Liz was going to say something she heard the lock on the door give. Max looked at Liz with hope in his eyes. Liz nodded at him letting him know this was a good sign. She softly opened the door and walked in to the room, leaving the door open just a bit so as to not lock out Max who was anxious on the other side.
Liz moved to the bed where she could see Emily sitting tucked into the far corner of her bunk.

“Honey? Are you okay?” Liz asked trying to ease into the conversation.

Emily sat quiet.

Liz scooted down next to where Emily was sitting. “Sweetheart, Why didn’t you ask me? Did you think I wouldn’t tell you the truth?”

“I knew you didn’t want to talk about it.” Emily answered, “Was he such a bad man that you didn’t want to talk about him?”

Liz was a little confused by the question. If Emily knew that she was an Evans then who did she think was her father? She had never spoken of Zan and she knew no one in her circle of friends had mentioned him. “Emily, your daddy is not a bad man. I’m sorry if my silence gave you that impression. He is a very good man.”

Max slid down against the wall and brought his arms to rest on his knees. He rested his head in the cradle of his arms as he continued to listen to the conversation taking place in the room.

“Then why doesn’t he want me?” Emily said as she moved down to lie next to her mother.

“Honey, your daddy wants you very much. It’s just…” Liz started “You know? I was going to tell you about him tomorrow, but I think you need to know everything now.” Liz looked down at her daughter “Do you want me to tell you everything?”

Emily nodded.

“I was 18 when I got pregnant of you. Your daddy and me were close friends but we kept secrets from each other”

“If you were so close, why did you keep secrets? Josh and I don’t keep secrets” Emily said.

“When you get older, sometimes you get scared of how other people are going to react and so you keep secrets. Like you and me. I think that in here” Liz pointed at Emily’s heart “you were scared that you might hurt my feelings if you asked me about your daddy. So you went ahead and did some detective work on your own. You kept your investigation a secret from me.”

Emily seemed to ponder the explanation so, Liz continued.

“The thing with secrets is that it can lead people to make wrong choices. It also makes people assume things that might not be true. If I would have been honest with your daddy, he might not have kept his secrets from me. I made some choices that were bad, partly because I didn’t know the whole truth. Do you understand?” Liz asked wondering if this made sense to a nine year old.

Emily shook her head and looked at her mother hoping for a better explanation.

Liz thought for a moment. “Let me put this differently. You thought it might hurt me if you asked about your father, right?”

Emily nodded in affirmation

“So, you kept your questions a secret and I assumed you just didn’t want to know yet. I assumed something that was not true. I kept your father’s identity a secret, and you assumed it was because it was because he was a bad man and it would hurt me to talk about him. Because of my secret you assumed something that wasn’t true. Do you understand now?”

Emily nodded once again “It’s like the chair Josh broke last summer. He tried to fix it and didn’t tell anyone it was broken. Then that lady from Aunt Serena’s work came and fell when she sat in it. Aunt Serena thought the chair was good because Josh kept a secret.”

“Exactly!” Liz said wondering how kids could explain something so complicated in such an easy way.

“So, you and my daddy kept secrets from each other?” Emily prodded

“Yes, we did.” Liz said, “Honey, one secret I kept, not only from your father but from everyone here was that you had been born.”

Emily sat up and crossed her legs in Indian style, wiping her nose on her shirt “Why did you do that?”

“Well, I thought that maybe my mommy and daddy would be sad that I had a baby. Again, I assumed something that wasn’t true. I didn’t trust their love and that was wrong of me. They are very happy that you were born, just like your daddy is.”

“That’s not true.” Emily said starting to sniffle once again. Max felt his muscles tense at the sound of Emily’s voice breaking. “My daddy knows I’m sick and he doesn’t want me.”

Liz sat up and pulled her daughter onto her lap. ”That’s not true. Why would you say such a thing?”

“That Isabel lady said she was my family. Is she really my family?” Emily asked as tears continued to form in her eyes.

“Yes, Emily. Isabel is your Aunt and Mr. and Mrs. Evans are your grandparents” Liz felt such a relief to have it out in the open but she was still confused by her daughters tears.

“I hate him! If he doesn’t want me, I don’t want him either!” Emily yelled getting off the bed and turning to face her mother who held a shocked expression.

Max stood up and had to contain himself from charging into the room at Emily’s outburst.

“Emily Marie! Lower your voice.” Liz said sitting on the edge of the bunk. “Why would you say such awful things?”

“My grandma and grandpa have come here and want to know me. Aunt Isabel and Uncle Max they came too. They know I’m sick but they want to be with me even if I can’t run and play like everyone else” Emily said between sobs “All my daddy’s family is here but he’s not here. He didn’t want a sick kid. Josh said he would want me because I was a girl and I was cute and cuddly and talked girly things, but he was wrong! Josh said that you wouldn’t pick me a bad daddy but you did! He didn’t love you and now he doesn’t love me!” Wiping her face she added “If he don’t want to love me, I’m not going to love him anymore either!”

Liz quickly kneeled in front of Emily. “Emily, your daddy loves you very much. I think you misunderstood, what I was telling you.”

“No! He doesn’t, he would have come to see me, to get to know me.” Emily argued refusing to hear out her mother.

“I have.” Max said as he stood in the open doorway.

Silence engulfed the room as he stepped forward and closed the door behind him.

“Sorry,” He said looking at Liz as he approached “It didn’t look like it was going too well.”

Max knelt in front of Emily and addressed her, “I love you so much. My heart hurts.” He told the wide-eyed girl “I never thought I would love someone as much as I love you. I’ve loved you even before I knew you were mine. You stole my heart the first time I met you. The way you just could open yourself up to me, let me hold you and talk to me as if you had known me all your life. It blew me away.” Max cradled Emily’s face in his hands “Josh was very right when he said I would want you. I wanted you to be mine long before I discovered that you were.”

Liz sat back to take it all in and her own heart lurched forward at the tender moment before her.

Emily put her hand over Max’s and as tears marred her face, she tried to make sense of what her ‘Uncle’ Max was telling her “But… But, you’re not my Daddy. You’re my Uncle Max.” She turned to look at her mother so that she would confirm her statement.

Liz took Emily’s hand in hers. “Sweetie, Max is your Daddy. He is whom I was talking about. My best friend.”

Emily still was having problems grasping the concept and turned to Max, “But…I… I asked you. You… You looked at me surprised, like I was not yours.”

Max tucked a strand of Emily’s hair behind her ear and replied, “I didn’t know the truth. Your Mommy and Me… We messed up real bad. We kept too many secrets from each other. Secrets that kept us apart for too long.” Turning to look at Liz, he continued “But we promised not to keep any more secrets from each other.”

“Then who is the other man?” Emily asked “The one from the picture?”

Max looked at Liz hoping she would know whom Emily was talking about but Liz shrugged her shoulders, letting him know that she was just as clueless

“What picture, Em?” Liz asked

“The one in Uncle Max’s house. The one where there are two of him” Emily said pointing at Max.

Max thought for a moment. He tried to figure out which picture Emily was referring to. It took a minute before Max realized what Emily was talking about He looked at Liz and he enlightened her. “It’s the last family portrait we took.” Looking at Emily he clarified “Em, that was my twin brother Zan. He died before you were born and I know that if he was alive he would love you just as much as we do.”
Max knew that he was omitting a lot of things, but he knew that his daughter did not need to have all the details of her conception and who Zan was to her mother. At least he knew that it was not up to him to tell her.

Emily stood between her parents for a few seconds trying to absorb all the information she was given. She was trying to rationalize her thoughts. Josh had been so sure Max was her father and now Max was confirming it, her mother was confirming it. “So… You are my daddy?” Emily asked looking for a final assurance

Max nodded giving her a lop-sided grin “Sorry, if you were expecting more, but you’re stuck with me.”

Emily stared at him as if he was insane. She looked at Liz who was smiling at her, assuring her that it was okay to accept this truth. Then she threw herself into her father’s arms in her first father-daughter hug.

Max lost his balance and fell back into a sitting position. Wrapping his arms tightly around Emily he buried his face in her small neck, breathing in the scent of the child he helped bring into the world.

Emily put her hands on his shoulder and pushed back to look at him. “I’m happy you’re my daddy, Uncle Max.” Her face scrunched up and she looked back at Liz and then back at Max. “I can’t call you ‘Uncle’ Max anymore.”

“You can call me what ever you want” Max said. He knew it might be too soon for her to feel comfortable calling him Daddy.

“But, you’re my daddy. And you’re not a jerk like Josh’s daddy.” Emily replied as if that explained her reasoning.

“I think we need to curb our adjectives” Liz said in a stern voice

Emily looked at Liz sheepishly and then turned back to Max. “I can call you Daddy, can’t I?”

Max swallowed the huge lump that was in his throat, before he replied. “Of course, you can.” Kissing her on the cheek he said, “I would like that a lot”

Emily gave a solid nod and then hugged him again.

Max looked over to Liz, who mirrored his own happiness. It could have gone smoother but it was finally all out in the open. Everyone knew the truth, no more hiding, and no more secrets.

Well… Except for the one were he was still madly in love with the mother of his child. Max hugged Emily tighter as he thought that, that particular secret would be revealed soon enough. He just needed a plan. Yup, a plan. Why was he so bad at setting up a plan? He definitely needed a plan.

Pulling Emily away a bit, he whispered in her ear “How about we go downstairs and meet your grandparents and your Aunt Iz? They really are looking forward to meeting you.”

Emily pushed back further to look at him with a wide smile and nodded fervently. She scrambled off of Max’s lap and he stood up.

Emily turned to Liz “Do I look good?”

Liz swept her flyaway hair off her face and wiped her cheeks of any remnants of the tears that had been there before “You look as beautiful as ever!” she replied kissing Emily soundly on the lips.

Emily hugged her mother and then turned to put her small hand into Max’s large one. “I’m ready” she said before they walked out of the room together.

TBC...

Check out for a new part next week... Serena arrives and Will Max finally put together a plan to win Liz's heart?

posted on 14-Feb-2003 9:04:18 PM by starlady
Hi All.

Want to wish you all a Very Happy Valentines Day!
I rushed to get this part out because I wanted you all to have a little gift from me to you.

There is a little loving in this but not Max and Liz (yet).

I want to also say how sad I am with the uproar on the board. I know many have left and it saddens me but I respect their choices. I want to thank those that have left a so called 'forwarding address'. It shows you care for those that have supported your work and I, for one, appreciate it.

I hope things will settle down and that the move to the new board (if you don't know about this go to the announcement area and read all about it) will go smoothly.

Anyway, on with the story...

~* Chapter 21 *~

“That didn’t go as bad as I thought it would” Max said to Liz who sat across him on the steps of the front porch.

Liz turned to look at Max. She raised her eyebrows giving him a sardonic look. “Of course not… It could have been worse, I could have invited Mussolini”

Max chuckled. It was late but he just couldn’t bring himself to leave.
The day had been crazed to say the least but they had all survived it and in the end it all worked out in their favor. His parents were able to meet Emily and openly express their love to her, something that Emily seemed to need. He knew that Emily had grown up surrounded by love and acceptance but based on her confession today, he also knew that she had a fear of rejection. She had been so afraid that he would not accept her because of her illness she had almost shutdown to the possibility that he would love her unconditionally.

Emily had wiggled her way into his parent’s heart just as she had done to his. By the end of the day Phillip had her flying over his shoulders and Dianne promising tea parties. Max thought that Emily was a little old for tea parties but Liz said that Emily was into making messes in the kitchen, something that if she recalled correctly was one of Diane’s specialties. Max had to agree on that point. His mother’s cooking talents were very good but when she tried to venture into the land of unknown recipes, it could be scary.

Maria, Michael and Kyle had left a couple of hours ago and his parents, as well as the Parkers had left shortly after. Isabel was the one that seemed to linger behind and he was grateful because it gave him an excuse to stay longer. The kids were sent to bathe and had gone down for the day less than an hour ago.

Max smiled as he remembered how Josh had given him his blessing while Liz helped Emily after her bath.


Josh eyed Max as he climbed onto the top bunk “I knew it was you”

Max smiled as he leaned against the nightstand next to the bunk beds. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Josh smiled at the comment. He knew the details of the conversation Max and Liz shared with Emily. He and Emily were best friends. They didn’t keep secrets. “Are you going to stick around?”

Max smile faded at the question. It seemed to Max that Josh had some serious abandonment issues. He suspected that Liz, Alex and Emily had been the best thing to happen to Serena and Josh. Max saw too many cases in family court where the child would grow resentful and lash out in his teenage years. The child would avoid deepening any type of familial bonds for fear of losing the person. This would lead to a very lonely childhood.
Although Josh knew he was loved and cared for, Max felt he still retained some of those feelings of rejection and he knew Josh didn’t trust, wholeheartedly.

“I’m here to stay. There is nothing that would make me walk away from her.” Max assured Josh.

Josh nodded “I knew Aunt Liz would have chosen someone like you. You’re okay”

Max eyed Josh. Approaching the bunk he leaned his arms against the top bunk and said, “You know, people can’t chose who they fall in love with, it just happens. Sometimes it’s not easy to make out a person’s character if they deliberately hide it from you. If a person willfully tries to deceive you, it might take years to find the truth. You can’t go around not trusting people because you’re afraid that they will be lying. You sometimes need to risk the hurt. Your Mom, she took a big chance on trusting Liz and Alex but if she hadn’t, you wouldn’t have Emily as your best friend. People make mistakes. Me, your Aunt Liz, your Mom. It’s how we handle the outcome of our mistakes and how we rise above it, continue with our lives and become happy, that makes us stronger ” Max watched as Josh listened intently to his speech. “Josh, you are part of this family. You are Emily’s best friend. You have proven to be a good friend to her. You have earned my respect in many ways and I hope you will trust me to not let you down”

Josh turned his head to look at Max. “Thanks Uncle Max. I know you won’t fail her”

“I promise I will try my best.” Max said



“What are you grinning at?” Liz asked pulling Max out of his reverie.

“I was just thinking about the kids.” Max replied as he sat next to Liz on the stairs. It was a quiet night and it seemed to inspire reflection. “Josh is very protective of Emily. He’s good for her.”

Liz smiled “That he is. I don’t know what we’re going to do when school starts.” Liz sighed “I can’t see Serena picking up roots and moving to Roswell. She’s a city girl. She has a job that she has to go back to in September and I don’t know what the kids are going to do if we have to separate them.”

Max suddenly felt chilled to the bone. Would Liz leave Roswell again? Take Emily with her? These were questions that he had not thought about. What if they found a donor for Em? Would she stay until Emily was out of the woods and then pick up flight? “Maybe Serena would let him stay here?”

Liz looked at Max and twisted her mouth, “Could you see me leaving my child in a town with friends while I move half way across the country for a job? Don’t think so.”

“What are you going to do?” Max asked anxiously

“Take it one day at a time. I do not want to think about the future too much. I just want to enjoy my todays.” Liz said as she leaned against the railing.

Max decided not to push it. They would have time to talk about this later. September was three months away. “As much as I have enjoyed today, can we talk about tomorrow?”

Liz smiled a knowing smile “I was wondering how long it would take you to ask.”

“Well, Emily knows now and I really would like to go with her.” Max responded, his voice pleading for this to go with out confrontation.

“Can you get out of your appointments at such short notice?” Liz inquired. Max was an attorney. He must have appointments on a daily basis and even though he was a partner in the firm he had his own responsibilities.

“I can call in some favors and have my schedule rearranged.” Max assured

Liz looked at Max’s hopeful face. Almost 6 hours in small confined spaces with Max Evans… Was that a good thing or would it be torture? She couldn’t deny him; he wanted to be involved in his daughter’s treatment. He had the right.
The Right…. Liz nodded “Okay. We leave at 7am. Do you want us to pick you up?”

The door of the house opened as laughter escaped the confines of the home’s walls. Isabel stepped out onto the porch, Alex following close behind. “Hey, guys. What are you up to?”

“Oh we were talking about tomorrow’s trip” Liz replied.

“Trip?” Isabel asked, looking at Max for some clue.

“Emily has her first doctors appointment tomorrow in Albuquerque. I want to go.” Max stated

“Oh” Isabel replied.

Alex was happy that Max fell into the role of father so easily. He just hoped that Liz would not alienate Max. Alex knew that it was difficult for Liz to ask for help. Sometimes he felt exhausted just trying to convince her to let him do things for her and Emily. It was hard for her to relinquish control. He could see Max wearing her down but he hoped she would make things easier for Max than she did for him. “Take some thing to read, Max. It can be long and boring.”

Max looked at Alex and again felt the stab of jealously hit him. Alex had done this so many times; it was almost a routine for him. He felt sad that a procedure so invasive as it was to receive blood from a stranger was so common among this group. He felt as if something was twisting inside of him. He didn’t want this to be typical; He didn’t want this to be ‘boring’. He didn’t want this for his child. Max lowered his eyes and kept his thoughts to himself.

“Does it take very long?” Isabel inquired.

“Not too long but the drive is a killer.” Alex said still eyeing Max’s reaction. “Last week I took her on Monday for a quick check, after the blackout she had at Max’s we wanted to make sure all was still stable, and the ride took us two hours just to get there and then the appointment was for about 20 minutes and then we drove another two hours back. It was really bad for the kids.” Alex turned to look at Isabel as he finished “That’s why we hope to get the case moved to Roswell, at least the follow-ups. It’s just too far for day trips.”

“I don’t see it as a problem. I’m sure the doctors’ will agree.” Liz said as she stood up, preparing to say good night.

“Well, that’s good. I’m going to start calling my contacts tomorrow to see what we can pull together. Can I call you tomorrow, Liz?” Isabel wanted to help as much as possible. She was happy that Liz and Alex saw past her original reaction last week and opened their home and their lives to her so easily.

“I won’t be back until late, but maybe you can talk to Alex about it all. He knows our schedule and can help you with any information you might need”

Max pulled his hands out of his pockets and pushed his hair back. He needed to get out of here. He needed to put a check on his feelings. His mind told him that he was being an ass but he couldn’t stop from getting aggravated by the fact that Alex was such a big part of his daughter’s life, as well as Liz’s. He needed to be grateful to Alex but this green-eyed monster kept popping up. He just needed to think clearly, realize that his role in Emily and Liz’s life was just starting. He needed to give them time. “I think we need to get going.”

“Sure” Isabel replied. “Alex, I’ll call you tomorrow then. Will you be home or do you have a cell?”

“Oh, no. I’ll be home. Liz is taking the car. So Josh and I are stranded.”

“Oh! Then let me jump by at lunch. I can take you out for a breather.” Isabel was feeling quite daring at her invitation but she couldn’t deny the fact that she had just spent one of the best afternoons in her adult life. She wanted to spend more time with Alex and this was the best opportunity. After Emily came down to meet them all, she had been recipient of many questions from the precautious child and just as much attention from her ‘Uncle Lala’. It was great!

“You don’t have to do that Isabel, I’ll just leave my car here.” Max said, oblivious of the undertone of the invitation.

Three set of eyes turned to Max and seemed to bore holes into him.

“That’s very nice of you Max.” Liz said trying desperately to fix the goof up “but you know Isabel, the lunch invite sounds great, too. Alex, never gets enough adult company. I’m always at the hospital and he’s always stuck with the kids.”

Max wondered it Liz didn’t realize how that sounded so personal. As if Alex was her husband or something. He unconsciously swatted at his shoulder hoping to squash that monster that kept whispering things into his ear.

“That is so true. Sometimes I feel like I’ll break out into anime tunes.” Alex added quickly picking up on Liz’s save.

“Great!” Isabel said beaming with expectation. “I’ll drop by around 12:30?”

“Sounds like a plan!” Alex said turning grateful eyes to Liz. She smiled back letting him know that they would talk about this later. He owed her big time!

Liz looked at Max who seemed to have a contrite look upon his face “Talking about a plan. Here, then. At 7:00?”

Max nodded “I’ll be here… So Iz, we should get going…” Max shook his hands on his side and taking Liz’s elbow in his hand he leaned forward and gave her a chaste kiss on the cheek. “Thanks for everything”

Liz smiled and nodded. “Don’t be late!” Turning to Isabel, Liz said, “I hope you can come visit another day, when I’m around too. Emily really loved talking to you.”

Isabel laughed and leaned in to hug Liz “yeah, she thinks I’m the jolly green giant! She is quite a character. I hope all goes well tomorrow.”

“Thanks!” Liz replied.

Max and Isabel said their good-byes to Alex and getting into Max’s mustang, left Liz and Alex on the porch.

“You sooo owe me one” Liz said still waving at the retreating car.

Alex swung his arm across her neck from behind and pulled Liz’s face up to his, as he plastered slobbery, noisy kisses all over her face. He then broke out in song as he danced around the front yard giving an awful rendition of “Did you ever know that you’re my hero”

Liz broke out in laughter as she turned to head into the house. Tomorrow was going to be a long day and she needed her rest.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Maria rested her back against the headboard of her bed as she watched her husband close the door to their room. The soft cotton gown she wore was a respite from the cloths she had worn during the day. Even the small pool Liz had purchased did not give her relief from the heat of the day. At 6 and half months, her pregnancy was showing more than with Sammy and her breast had swollen enough to make her very uncomfortable. She leaned over to the nightstand and pulled out a small tube of body lotion. She had started applying the cream to her body in hopes that the elasticity of her moisturized skin would ward off those dreadful stretch marks that she had seen on many women. Sammy had not scarred her skin and she hoped that the little firecracker she now carried would grace her with smooth skin after arrival as well.

Michael walked over to his dresser and pulled out a pair of thin pajama pants. He use to wear sweats to sleep but Maria had given him the ultimatum to either sleep in his boxers or get something in a thinner fabric. She said the jersey material got her hot just looking at it. Unfortunately for Michael it was not the type of ‘hot’ he had hoped for. Her pregnancy seemed to have raised her body temperature and she could not deal with the New Mexico summer heat.

He slipped out of the towel that hung from his hips and put on the pants. He then moved to the bed as he watched his wife lotion her hands and elbows.

“Did Sammy give you a hard time?” Maria asked. Michael had gone to put Sammy to bed after his shower and had taken longer than usual.

“Not really” Michael gestured for Maria to give him the lotion. She gave him the tube and he squeezed a generous amount in his hand before kneeling on the bed and pushing her gown over her belly. He rubbed his hands together and then lying on his stomach settled between her thighs. “I just wanted to watch him sleep”

Maria noticed Michael’s furlong look as he softly caressed the cream onto her belly. Removing the hair that fell on his face, she took in his thoughtful mood. “What’s the matter?”

Michael pushed his hands over the skin that hid his unborn child and softly placed a kiss on Maria’s belly. “I was just thinking about Emily and Josh. Last week when we found out about Josh, I was stunned. He was 7 when they found his tumor. Today we find out that Emily’s disease was discovered at 5. Sammy is 3. She was two years older than Sammy.” Michael’s hands moved over Maria as in reverence “I don’t know what I would do if Sammy got sick like that, or even sweet pea, here” He said as he placed another tender kiss on his child.

Maria looked down at the man she loved. She didn’t know what to say. She had thought the same thing when she first found out. She felt traitorous for thanking god that her son was healthy, for praying that this baby she still carried would never suffer the fate Emily and Josh had been given. “We are strong, Michael. We would do just as Liz has. We would fight with our dying breath to give our children hope for a future.”

Michael slowly unbuttoned Maria’s nightgown and opened it, exposing her breast. Taking more lotion in his hands, he massaged it into her skin. “I can’t help it. I’m scared. It’s just so close to home. Look at Max. To find out he’s a father and then find out his daughter is dying.”

“She’s not dying, Michael. She’s stable. Her fate is not sealed and we can’t think negative thoughts. God forbid, but if it were Sammy, I would not want people thinking that there was no hope for saving him. Everyone in that room today is another chance that Emily has of surviving. If we don’t find a match within ourselves, then we will put together that blood drive that Isabel was talking about and extend the chances for Emily. Michael, we have to be strong for Max and Liz. We have to give them our support.” Maria caressed Michaels face as he leaned over her and kissed her lips.

Leaning back, Michael let his eyes caress ever part of his wife’s pregnant body. Slowly he pushed back and grabbing the edge of her panties, he pulled them over her hips and down her shapely legs. Putting some more lotion in the palm of his hands he proceeded to massage her hips and her thighs. “I hope I don’t mess up. I tend to walk around with a foot and mouth syndrome.” Raising Maria’s leg a bit, he softly placed a kiss on her inner thigh.

Maria let out a soft laugh and let her eyes close at her husbands touch. “I think you don’t give yourself enough credit. Everyone knows your heart is in the right place. If it wasn’t I wouldn’t have fallen in love with you.”

Michael leaned over Maria’s body and brushed his lips over hers “I love you, too” He whispered as he moved his lips to her neck and placed more kisses on every piece of skin he found. Putting his weight on his forearms, he caressed Maria’s face and looked down at her.

Maria opened her eyes and saw the wonderful man that had stolen her heart so many years ago.

“You are so beautiful. I don’t know what you were thinking when you married me but I’m not going to complain. I’m just happy that your sanity hasn’t returned.” Michael professed as he pressed his arousal against her heat.

“Are you saying I’m crazy?” Maria asked as she undid the ties of the pants he had just put on and pulled them off his hips.

“I would never say such a thing. You might kick my ass.” Michael replied as his lips found their way down to the valley of her breast and his legs wiggled out of the confining pants.

Maria grabbed Michael’s fleshy bottom in her hands and pressed him against her “Oh and what an ass to kick”

Michael smiled as he slid into her.

Maria sighed in relief. Her husband was not a man of many words but he always knew exactly what to say to get her to melt in his arms.

Michael moved languidly in and out of Maria “You’re so perfect. I could spend the whole night loving you like this”

“I wouldn’t mind that at all.” Maria replied between breaths.

So Michael did just that.

TBC...

Stay tuned for more next week... a long drive and interesting conversation? Maybe a plan? You'll have to tune in to find out.

posted on 21-Feb-2003 10:28:36 AM by starlady
Hi all,

Just dropping by with a small part.
I broke the chapter in two because of length and I was thinking about posting it after the move but thought I didn't want you all to wait for the whole thing. I think I'll repost on the new thread with the rest of it when I'm done.

I hope you all enjoy!

~* Chapter 22a *~

Max walked up the stairs to the front door and putting on his jacket proceeded to knock on the door. He turned around and looked out to the empty street. The neighborhood was still sleeping, although most would start to get up soon.

It was a heavy night for Max. He paced more than he slept, trying to put his feelings in order and trying to make sense of those feelings. Over the weekend he found out that a) he was a father b) his daughter was very ill and c) he might never be to his daughter what he wanted to be. He felt powerless because he couldn’t change the past and the past handed him this present. The questions that he failed to ask were the ones that haunted him. How would he be able to let go of Liz and Emily when the time came? How could he step back and let Alex continue to be a father to Emily when that was what he wanted? And finally, how could he change things in a way that would invalidate all the other questions?

Max knew that Liz was the one for him. In all these years he had not been able to give his heart to another. She was it! He just needed to prove it to her. Sometimes he just wanted to kick himself for being so shy around her. The banter that went on between them was usually a friendly teasing, one that made things comfortable. Max didn’t want comfortable. He wanted Liz and Emily.

“Then make things uncomfortable” Maria told him at 3am when he finally gave up and called her. “If you are feeling all flushed and butterflies are taking resident in your stomach, then your doing something right”

“What if this is not what she wants? I might lose her as a friend. I’ll be making things awkward between us.” Max countered

“That’s what stopped you the first time. Are you going to let that happen again?” Maria asked “You are obviously not happy with the way that turned out because if not, you would not be calling me at… three o’clock in the morning!”

“Um… sorry about that.” Max said hoping that she wouldn’t hang up on him.

“Max, you have to be more aggressive. You are such a shark in the courtroom but you suck at this whole relationship thing. You have to risk loss if you ever want to risk gain. Grab your life by the balls and just do it!”

Max groaned at the last statement because his mind immediately was bombarded with thoughts of Liz in her sweat pants. Maybe it was a message in disguise.

“Can I go back to sleep?” Maria asked after a few seconds of silence.

“Sure… I’m sorry to bother you” Max said again; turning over what Maria told him.

“Honey, you can call me anytime but I’m not giving you the same advice again. You need to do something about this. You can’t change the past but you can change the future.” Maria wanted to make sure that she sent home the message and she hoped Max would finally take her advice. Sometimes she just wanted to clobber those two. Each telling her how they felt and each not listening to her advice! “I love you. Now, go to sleep!”



“Hey! You’re here early. Come in” Alex said as he opened the door for Max “The girls are almost ready.”

“You are up early too. Do you usually get up at this time?” Max asked

“I’m here to get the lecture. You know, the one were Liz tells you everything she thinks you are incapable of remembering even though she has told you a million times.” Alex plopped himself on the stool and rolled his eyes hoping Max could sympathize.

Max smiled.

“Are you talking about me?” Liz said as she went down the stairs. She wore her hair in the customary braid because its length didn’t allow for much more. The rayon sundress hugged her body in just the right places before it flared out at the bottom. It was a red with a blue floral print that went perfectly with the jacket she held in her hands. The leather sandals that she wore added just a bit of height without taking away from the natural look the dress gave her.

Max felt his heart jam in his throat at the sight of her and he wondered how he was going to be more aggressive if every time he saw her she took his breath away.

Unbeknownst to Max, he had a very similar effect on Liz. Liz got an eyeful when she reached the first floor. Max stood in a pair of khakis, which he wore with a light blue oxford. Liz could see a white tee peeking from under his shirt and the dark blue blazer he wore made him look as if he had stepped out of a magazine. He was the epitome of male and she felt the need to swallow to jumpstart her lungs into breathing.

“The last thing I would do, is talk about you behind your back” Alex replied to her initial question as he winked at Max.

As Liz walked up to the two men that stood around the kitchen bar she started reciting the list of things Alex should not forget. Alex just smiled and nodded while Max stared. Liz was pulling thing out of the refrigerator and putting them into a basket, Max followed every movement taking in how her hips swayed and the dress danced around her calves. He felt as if he was hypnotized. That was, until he felt two arms curl around his waist. Looking down he encountered the sleepy eyes of his daughter.

“Carry me, please!” Emily was not a morning person and having to be pulled out of bed at 6:30 in the morning to get in a car was not her idea of fun.

Max lifted Emily into his arms effortlessly. “Good morning to you too.” He said as he placed a kiss on her forehead.

Emily pulled the blanket she had wrapped around herself a little higher and settled into Max’s arms, resting her head on his shoulder. “Mornnin’” was all she said before closing her eyes.

“She has morning issues.” Liz supplied. Grabbing the basket, she moved over to Alex and gave him a quick kiss on the check before giving him another set of instructions.

“Liz, you have to get going before you get into too much rush hour traffic.” Alex said grabbing her by the shoulders and turning towards the door.

Max fished into his pocket and pulled out his keys, placing them on the counter as he followed Alex and Liz. “The keys to the car are on the counter. The house keys are there too if you want to drop by the house for a swim later on in the afternoon.”

Alex thanked him as he helped Max settle Emily into the car. She was already asleep.
After a few more minutes and several more ‘don’t forgets’ from Liz. They were on their way.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

After the first hour Max felt himself ease a bit. Sharing a car with Liz for a long time was wrecking havoc on his senses. She wore a soft perfume that emanated floral scents and did a number on his body. She had kept conversation light with tales of Emily’s misadventures growing up and Max found himself more depressed than before. He hated the fact that he had missed out on so much of his daughter’s life. He was grateful for the stories because it gave him a glimpse of the life they had enjoyed but it also made him feel cheated.

He remembered Maria’s words.

You can’t change the past but you can change the future.

“I feel like I missed so much” He blurted out as he turned to look at the passing scenery.

Liz looked at him before returning her eyes to the road. “I’m sorry.” Liz felt that she had stolen that time from him and his statement reinforced those feelings.

“It’s not your fault” He replied with regret in each word. “We both made mistakes. I’m just having a really hard time dealing with the outcome.”

“I’m sorry” Liz softly repeated.

Max leaned back into his seat and took a deep breath as he closed his eyes. He turned and looked at the back seat where Emily leaned against the door wrapped up in the blanket she had brought with her. How could he explain to Liz what he was feeling if he couldn’t understand it himself. “You have no idea what you do to me, Elizabeth Parker.” He said looking at Liz.

Liz quickly looked at him confused.

“My mind is just one big mush. My feelings are all jumbled up. I regret not being there with you. I resent that I’m was not the one that was there when Emily learned to ride her bike or the one that walked her to school her first day at kindergarten. I have all these feelings of longing and yet I am so grateful to be here, now. I feel cheated, but not by you, but by myself. Do you know what I mean?” After Liz looked at him but didn’t say anything, Max continued, “I should have done so many things differently. I sometimes think I should have kicked Zan’s ass when you two started dating. Told him to keep his distance from you; but then, maybe Emily wouldn’t be here. Then I think that maybe I should have stopped myself that night; but then for sure Emily wouldn’t be here. Then I find the exact place where I went wrong.”

Liz looked at Max once again, waiting to hear what he would have changed.

“I should have stayed in bed that morning. I should have woken you up and told you the truth right then. Instead I ran and that is the thing I regret the most.” Max looked back out onto the passing cars. He wrapped himself in the blanket of self-loathing he carried with him and waited for Liz’s response.

Liz watched for traffic and then veered to the shoulder of the road where she stopped the car. Turning in the seat to face a surprised Max, she said “Is this what I do to you? Fill you with guilt and regret? I don’t want to be the one that does this to you.”

“No, Liz. You misunderstood…” Max said straightening in his seat.

“That day was the first time you ran but I assure you that as much as you ran, you would never catch up with me. I had been running for years before that night. That night was the culmination of the marathon that had become my life. Even after I realized what I was doing, I still ran. I ran from everyone and everything that reminded me of the mess my life was. If it wasn’t for Emily I’d still be running.” Liz’s eyes took a weary look “I’m tired, Max. I don’t want to run anymore.”

Max moved closer to Liz and caressed her check with his knuckles before cradling her jaw in it. “I don’t’ want you running either.” He said as he leaned forward and covered her lips with his.

The kiss was soft but it held all his feelings for her. Max could barely believe that the warmth that emblazed his mouth, was coming from Liz. He couldn’t believe that the soft pressure on his lips meant that Liz was returning his kiss and he hated having to release her.

Max removed his lips from hers but remained at a breathing distance as he moved his other hand to lift her face so he could look at her. Her eyes were still closed and he fought the urge to claim more of the forbidden fruit that were her lips.

Liz slowly opened her eyes and looked into Max’s awaiting ones. Did he actually kiss her or was she dreaming? It could be a dream but then why was Max so close to her? Why could she feel his breath on her lips? Why was he looking at her as if she was his next meal? And why was she looking forward to becoming that entrée?

“This is what you do to me, Liz. You make me want so much more. With all you have given me in the last week I still yearn for more. I want those years with my daughter but I also want those years I missed with you. You make me come alive. I’m on emotional overload because I have been going through my life dead inside and in the week you have been here, you have made me realize that I need more. I’m having problems dealing with all these feelings at once but one thing I am sure of is, I don’t want you to leave and take this feeling away from me.”

Liz covered Max’s hands with hers and softly pulled them away. Her own emotions were twirling in her as well and she needed to calm down because her daughter was asleep in the back seat and she could easily fling herself at the man sitting next to her. Liz turned and placed the car in gear before turning to look back at Max, whose face was filled with expectation. Liz knew he was hoping for a response, one that would give him hope for a possible future?

She smiled at him. A smile that would let him know exactly how much she enjoyed his confession. “I’m not going anywhere”

TBC...

Stay tuned for the rest of Max & Liz's day together


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 21-Feb-2003 10:29:51 AM ]