posted on 2-Nov-2002 8:05:27 AM by alabama
TITLE The boy next door
AUTHOR Ally aka Alabama
STORY Max and Liz
SUMMARY It’s not easy to give your heart to someone when you’ve been hurt in the past could Max and Liz both learn to live and love again? This is a challenge by Dia that was based on a book she read by Josie Lloyd and Emilyn Reeves. No infringement intended.
DISCLAIMER I don’t the original idea or challenge or anything Roswell and this is my first attempt at fan fiction. Wish me luck and please let me know if I’m doing it okay.

Part one


Little Liz Parker didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

For just a moment words failed her. There she stood with hands, face, hair, clothing covered in flour, staring first at the boy’s beaming little face, and then at the mixed bunch of flowers clutched tight against his chest. Still she said nothing, her eyes lost in the deep pools of his. The mass of bright orange, white, yellow and red mingled in with tall green grasses that looked remarkably like the flowers found in a garden were forgotten.

She was momentarily shocked and bemused by his sudden presence. She didn’t even hear him come in or know from which direction he’d come. The one thing she knew for sure was that she wasn’t afraid of him.

“Who are you?” Her eyebrows raising a fraction as she spoke.

The little dark haired boy with eyes that felt like they were melting her on the spot said nothing. His expression was transfixing her. Was she dreaming him? She'd never had an imaginary friend.

“What are you doing in my kitchen?” She was finding it hard to concentrate. It was something to do with that quiet, uncertain smile she saw across over his face.

“Do you know it’s rude not to answer when someone asks you a question?”

Liz was not one for silence at the best of times. She was forever asking questions, needing to know things, driving adults to their wits end with her need for knowledge. She liked it that way. If you didn’t ask you didn’t know. And if you didn’t know you didn’t get.

“Well?” She stood tall with her hands planted firmly on her hips, her eyes motioning him to say something. It was like his body wouldn’t function. What was he doing there?

The boy frowned, and she could see that he was genuinely puzzled. She leaned forward. She didn’t give the new, strange sensation that she was feeling in her belly a second thought. Was it because of him that her insides felt like ripples over water after a stone had broken it's surface? Like corn popping over a hot shove? Liz was every descriptive in everything she said and did. That was her way besides he was a boy and she didn’t like boys.

Well, that wasn’t exactly true she liked Alex Whitman, her best friend. It was just Michael Guerin that she hated.

Well even that wasn’t true, Liz Parker could never hate anyone she just didn’t like the way Michael chased Maria round the playground and made her cry. And put chewing gum in both their hair. And the way he always got Alex into trouble. Liz Parker never had time for boys, even at her young age of 6. Books, her family and friendships were always more important to her and always would be – till now - till this boy.

She immediately pushed all thoughts of such nonsense far out of her mind.

“What are you doing here?” She added abruptly.

Still he said nothing, his fathomless eyes sketching an image that even her vivid paint box of imagination couldn’t surpass. She frowned as the riot of colour he was holding suddenly caught her eyes.

“Where did you get those from?”

The little boy stood firm. Liz’s eyes felt like they’d pop clean out of her head when a sudden realization struck.

“They're from ‘my’ garden aren’t they?” His very being there, being close to her penetrating deeper and deeper into her heart. She couldn’t understand it. “You know that’s stealing don’t you?”

The dark and mysterious looking boy dressed in a cowboy outfit, his hat hanging low down his back shrugged his shoulders. He was interrupting her train of thought, she was always so organized. So precise, she didn’t like it.

“Oh you’re in big trouble now, mummy.” Quickly she rinsed her hands and got down from the box that she was standing on. She wouldn’t have been able to reach the counter top in order to make chocolate chip cookies otherwise.

“Wait, please wait,” he stepped towards her, holding out a hand to her.

She stooped dead in her tracks, her heart pounding fast in her tiny ribcage. His voice, thought faint, made her pulse race.

“I didn’t steal them.” She could feel him watching her was that possible?

Her head tilted slightly to the left.

“These are for you.” She was mesmerized. He had the voice of an angel. Not that she’d know what one sounded like, even what one looked like for that matter. She’d only seen them in the books that her mother read to her at night time. If she did ever see one for real would sound and look as sweet as him?

For the space of a heartbeat their eyes met and held. She could have sworn that something in his eyes reached out to ask her an unspoken question. Liz caught her breath, not sure if she was reading it right, and not sure how to answer, even if to ask?

“You stole ‘my’ own flowers for me? Well that’s big of you.”

“No,” The boy looked hurt. His face distorted a little and it didn’t look right. Liz didn’t like that either. The reason to why wouldn’t come to her.

She folded her arms tightly across her chest. “So you lie too? You’re in so much trouble. I’m telling on you.”

“Please don’t.” He came towards her. Liz could feel herself blushing why was she blushing? He was the one in her home, who had stolen ‘her’ flowers - then her mouth got the better of her. That was usually her other best friend Maria Deluca’s job. But she wasn’t there and it was Liz who was about to ‘leap before looking’, ‘talk without thinking,’ something she’d never done before in her entire life.

“Are you an angel?” Where did that come from? Liz blinked.

“I don’t think so,” Totally taken aback by her comment he shook his head. “No I’m definitely not one of those,” his smile beaming across to her. “Besides the label in my shirt says I’m Maxwell, yes Maxwell Evans. That’s who I am but my friends call me Max.”

Liz hesitated. Her tummy was suddenly feeling strange, different; empty like she hadn’t eaten even when she’d been helping herself to the cookie dough as she went along. Her gaze met his again.

“Well, ‘Maxwell’,” His heart sank at her look and her tone as she ploughed on, “that still doesn’t excuse what you’ve done.”

“I asked if it was okay so that’s not stealing.” He said proudly.

After a second or two the conversation became stilted. His eyes would rest on her hair, on her hands, on her feet. She stopped to think for a moment. Unless she asked him direct questions, he seemed to run out of things to say. She took a deep breath.

“I haven’t done anything wrong.” He screwed up his face.

“But these came from ‘my’ garden.” She’d spend lots of long pleasurable hours playing in her garden. She knew what grew there.

“Your mom said it was okay.” Max said with all the outrage his small person could muster.

It was only then that Liz realized the flowers had been neatly cut, bunched and tied with twine. Hardly the result of a little boys lightening raid, Liz Parker was a smart girl- when she wanted to be. She suddenly realized that she’d jumped to conclusions - then Liz held footsteps and voices.

“Oh Max you found Liz then?” It was her mother’s sweet tone as she glided in through the backdoor behind her with a blonde haired woman in tow.

To say that Liz parker was confused was an understatement.

“Yes thank you Mrs. Parker.” The smile on the little boys face widened. He nodded, fairly bursting with pride. Nancy glanced between the two of them with a questioning look as to why Max was still holding the flowers?

“Didn’t you like the flowers that Max asked me if he could give to you Liz?”

Liz couldn’t find her tongue to talk. Max’s smile grew to twice its original size. Liz smiled uncertainly, unsure of what to do next now that she knew that his intentions had been honest and good.

“Max honey, it’s okay to give them to her.” Diane Evans said, gently touching him on the shoulders before nudging him forwards. “She won’t bite you.” Both women laughed a little. Nancy stood beside her bewildered looking child.

“Don’t look so worried pumpkin. Liz I’d like you to meet Diane Evans and her son Max, they’ve just moved in next door.”

“Oh.” Liz murmured. All she could muster from seeing Max waiting expectantly for her to reach out and take the flowers from him.

“They arrived late yesterday and while I was out in the garden earlier Little Max here asked if it would be okay if he could give you some flowers.” She bent down to Liz’s level. “He’d seen you playing out on the grass earlier and wanted to give you something.” She whispered to her gently. Liz felt silly and foolish. “But seeing as though next door is, well, a little over grown I said he could help him self to ours.”

“She even helped me picked them and helped me chose the ones you like.” Max added triumphantly. Liz brushed the hair away from her eyes, leaving yet more flour and cookie dough over her face.

From that moment on Max loved cookies more than he’d ever done before in life, not having the faintest clue as to why?

“Well aren’t you going to take them from him Liz?” Nancy asked softly.

Liz nodded, reaching out to take them from his tiny, trembling hand. She inadvertently touched his hand with her fingertips as she did so. She could have sworn that her heart turned a somersault.

Max’s skin tingled from where Liz’s fingers had brushed his. He just smiled at her.

“Thank you, it’s a wonderful present.” What else could she say? It was embarrassing. Her face flamed just thinking about it. She breathed in the sweet fragrance. “They are really very beautiful. And don’t they smell nice Mummy?” She shoved them into her mother’s face.

“Yes darling they do, I planted them remember.” She’d never seen her little girl so excitable. “Now that the introductions are over how about we have some cookies?”

Liz went ridged. “But there not ready yet mummy.”

Nancy giggled. “I know that honey, we have others besides Max and his mom can come over again and have yours when there done.” Nancy opened the wall mounded unit beside her in order to retrieve the cookie jar.

“We’d like that wouldn’t we Max?” Diane answered. She didn’t have to hear her son’s response; she could tell just by his warm smile that he was in full agreement. “And when Phillip gets back from his business trip then maybe you and…” Nancy could see she’d be needing help here.

“Jeff.” Both women smiled sweetly.

“You and Jeff could come over for dinner one night?”

“We’d like that.” And they would. She wasn’t lying. Nancy had an instinct about people, whether she’d like them. She’d had it since she was a child. Liz had it too. You could never been too trusting in this world she ways used to say to her baby girl. She wasn’t trying to scare Liz she was just trying to prepare her for life as best she could and Nancy had a very good feeling when already when it came to the Evans’.

The start of a beautiful friendship, she could tell that by looking at her daughter and their son standing side by side that it was.

“Can I help you with anything?” Diane asked, ruffling at Max’s hair as she walked past him.

“Oh Mom,” Max whined. He didn’t like her doing that. He was 6- almost 7. Diane pulled a face at him. She knew his feelings in the matter too. He finally smiled back at her.

“You could get me a vase out of the cupboard behind you if you wouldn’t mind please?”

“Course, where would you like it?”

“Over there, on the table please so Max’s flowers can have pride of place.”

Diane did as she was asked as Liz started to arrange them neatly. Max couldn’t take his eyes off of her. “I’m sorry… Max.” She whispered suddenly, ashamed of her behaviour.

“That’s okay,” He handed her a flower. “Elizabeth.”



“My name’s Liz,” She looked straight at him. He was holding into the next flower stem a little longer than necessary. “to my friends.” Her eyes fell away. He let go of it.

“Okay - Elizabeth.” They both burst out laughing.

“Hey, what’s going on back there?” Nancy quizzed.

“Nothing,” Both children answering her question together.

“Oh okay then.” She looked back at Diane. “Like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths.”

“Give it time.” Diane smiled.

Was that 'doing it okay'?

[ edited 5 time(s), last at 28-Nov-2002 5:16:52 AM ]
posted on 2-Nov-2002 8:17:03 AM by alabama
I read the story again. I'm new here and I don't know how to change a post please help. I meant to type NO INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. Ally.

I was able to get back and change it after spending far too long trying to figure it out. Pardon my dumbness, proof that excitement does get the better of you.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 2-Nov-2002 11:56:55 AM ]
posted on 3-Nov-2002 6:25:41 AM by alabama
Glad you liked it and thank you for replying. Here is Dia's challenge in full and I will post again soon.

-Max and Liz are best friends since they were 6, when Max moves next door to Max
-Max is sent to boarding school when he is 12
-Max's father is in some kind of gang, and gets in trouble with the cops when Max and Liz are 14
-Max comes back at Christmas, and Liz gets jealous when all the girls want Max
-She ignores Max, until he comes up to her and they have their first kiss
-They stay together for a year, even when he goes back to boarding school
-When Philip Evans dies in a fight, Max's mother takes him away and makes sure no one can reach them... Max and Liz lose contact after being in love.
-When they are 25, they meet again in a toy store. Liz has a son called Jack from a fling when she was 19. Max is engaged
-They try to deny their feelings, but with the help of Jack they realize their feelings
-You can do what you like with Max's fiancee, and her involvement with the story.

posted on 4-Nov-2002 5:46:37 AM by alabama
I am blown by the responses and I will be posting again. do I add the new part in a reply and I was wondering how I change the title?
posted on 4-Nov-2002 1:54:28 PM by alabama
that has helped thanks angel
posted on 6-Nov-2002 1:47:14 PM by alabama
Part two


Max gazed out through the living window, with his elbows resting on the sill and his chin cradled within the palms of his hands.

His 10 year old face a study in calculated indifference, staring out at the bottom of Liz’s back-garden and at the brightly coloured riot of flowers found there. His eyes slipped to his own backyard. It was just as blaze with similar colours after years of his mothers’ gentle, loving care and handling. He liked Liz’s better, miles better. Besides he spent more time playing out in hers than he did in his own, it almost felt like his garden. Her house almost felt like his home. His face was a picture and it was beaming.

Max had never felt happier in his entire life than he was in that moment. He couldn’t think of a single time where he was and why was that? That was simple. Two words said it all. Liz Parker, the girl next door.

Max padded to the other side of the huge bay window in toeless socks. He caught sight of them, his cheeks a blaze with embarrassment suddenly as realization triggered a memory. Liz had seen them how could he have let that happen? He slapped his forehead roughly with his hand. Liz shouldn’t be seeing him like this, the reason as to why failing to come. He felt silly, instantly bending down to yank his feet free of the greying, smelly mass that once were brilliant white one by one.

Pity he didn’t have the thought in his head to sit down and do it because in his hast to rid himself of them before she came back into the room he fell flat on his backside. He tried saving himself by hoping about furiously from one heel to the other like a headless chicken or the turkey his father killed for Christmas dinner when he was five. Max wasn’t supposed to be watching, wasn’t supposed to have seen and that memory would say with him for along time to come. The noise it made, the way it continued running around even after its head had been detached sent chills down Max’s spine. Even if he was a boy Max was a sensitive sort of chap. He knew all things had to die but they got them neatly packed and stacked from the supermarket.

Ungracefully hopping about was his downfall. His friends would have lived off this for days and weeks if they had been present. His misadventure would have been masked if not for him landing on the corner table and sending its contents flying.

“Max, what’s going on in there?” Diane called out to him.

“Nothing mom,” he shouted, jumping to his feet and upsetting things further. Max was failing dismally to regain some sort of order. “Shit!” He said in a tone that could be heard. He realized his mistake instantly. He covered his mouth with both hands and caught his breath. His eyes looked towards the open doorway; his ears could hear a pin drop. There was nothing. He gave a deep sigh, maybe she hadn’t heard him. Had he gotten away with it? There were muffled sounds, a giggle maybe?

“MAXWELL, PHILLIP, EVANS!” The sudden, abrupt reply back from the kitchen travelling down the hollowed hall way like an express train was frosty. His mother had heard. How come parents heard everything no matter where they are? That was definitely heard and he was in trouble. Max braced himself. “What did you say?” His mother added. He heard hurried footsteps. Relieving himself from the jumbled mess he began replacing everything quickly.

“I can’t tell a lie I did…” he shouted back. He was relieved that nothing was broken, not that he was afraid of his mother. She’d never lane a finger to him his whole life. He remembered their life before, when they had nothing. He didn’t want to break anything. His parents had worked too damn hard to get them were they where today, so very hard.

“Maxwell, the George Washington act worked when you were three but not anymore.” She was standing in the doorway, hands on hips.

Diane stared at him with a horrified look on her gentle, caring face. Max looked as though someone had hit him. Max didn’t like to see her looking like that. He felt worse than awful. “You should know better!” Lying and swearing were something that she couldn’t tolerate. Max never lied, he just bent the rules a little like everyone did. And he’d only sworn the once whilst walking away from his parents after he was sent to bed when he didn’t want to go. ‘Bloodily Hell’ carried well as he soon found out after he was called back into the room. When asked what he had said Max replied ‘I can’t tell a lie I did swear.’ And that simple, innocent and truthful confession coming from a three year old completely bowled the Evans’ over and it was hard for them to scold him. They made sure that he was completely out of ear shot before they giggled and laughed and commented on how sweet he’d been.

He bowed his head, unable to meet her gaze. “I’m sorry Mom.” Max murmured. Diane paused for breath, while Max brought his gaze up to meet hers and she knew that her son was sorry. His voice had always been so readable to her, so unlike her husbands.

Stepping towards him, Diane reached out and touched his arm. “I know you are Max, please don’t do it again.” She said hesitantly her voice trembling. “Besides,” Her voice quietened. She was smiling. She couldn’t stay mad at her son for long. He had that kind of face and he didn’t have a malicious bone in his body. “Liz wasn’t very impressed.”

Max stared at her closely “She wasn’t?” his face pink with embarrassment.

She shook her head slowly. “And you wouldn’t want that would you?”

“I don’t know what you mean?” Max said gruffly, desperately trying to hide his blushing.

“Oh sorry my mistake,” she teased, ruffling his hair. “Now hurry up and clean up. We’ll be in soon.” And with a delicate swish of her long skirt she was gone, leaving Max to clean up and feel sorry for his actions.

He heard Liz giggling. That was possibly the most beautiful sound he’d ever known, to hear her laugh. Why was she laughing? What were they saying? Was it about him? He wished that he had helped out in the kitchen and not called it girly stuff. He used to do it, what had changed? Slowly he walked across to the sofa.

‘Liz wasn’t very impressed, and you wouldn’t want that would you?’

Why had his mother said that? Why had he reacted in such a way? Why would he even want to impress Liz? She was a girl. He was confused, he loved to think everything thought, sometimes painfully so but this had him stumped.

For all his tender years, he’d learned that if he gave his heart, it was bound to be broken. His parents were the only ones who had it. Experience and hardship had already taken their toll on Max. He never talked about that, not even to Liz besides things were different now. His heart was heaving. It was said that sometimes Max thought too much. Setting his face more firmly into an unfamiliar deadpan expression that reminded him of years past, he drew back from the window to look around the comfortable room. His eyes searched and flicked around his home.

He conjured up a picture of his old life, of the blocks of apartments where he’d lived for the first few years of his life. Dingy it may have been, even ugly, but it was the only life Max had known. His family had moved a round more times than he’d had hot dinners. It was because of the line of business that his father was in, not that Max knew what that was exactly. They never talked about it and he never asked. Not even the Parker’s knew even when both families had become so close. Max suddenly felt choked remembering things that he’d completely obliterated from his memory or so he thought.

He used to lay awake at night and stare out of his window at the moon. His eyes would be bright with tears. He’d hear the wailing sirens in the distance, the endless noise, the screaming, the gun fire and wish that he were somewhere else, far, far away. He’d lay there and cry himself to sleep every single night, leaving his pillow soaking. Max hated feeling that way, he felt useless. He hated that more. Out of those feelings came change, his father was away on business much more, he had to be strong if not for him for his mom. There was one thing he had learnt it was how to be tough- not to let anybody near enough to hurt him or his family. It worked too. Every new place that they moved too he never got close, he never let anybody in and it had been ages since he’d cried- he could hardly remember the last time. His father didn’t like the fact that he bottled up emotions- Max knew that. His mother talked to him about it once or twice, before they moved here.

“Max, honey,” she would say in her low, comforting, sweet voice, “please don’t be afraid to show your feelings.”

Ultimately he was and that would never change. His thoughts returned to the cosy living- room. He could hear them clattering about in the kitchen. They both sounded so happy. Liz was humming a tune. Max felt that familiar feeling deep within his tummy. That yet, unexplainable feeling that felt like he was hungry. Empty inside. With each passing day he was finding it harder to hide from Liz, to keep her at bay.

Maxwell Phillip Evans was beyond his years and although enthusiastic, he was essentially reserved. He was a shy, self assured little boy, a mothers’ dream. He was easy-going and friendly, smart, determined, rational and talented with a head full of new ideas and a vivid imagination which usually brought him success. Or he broke something and he was punished. Sent to bed with no tea; a favourite toy hidden away just like any other normal child-Give them an inch and they wonder how far they can run with it. He knew where he was going, a high achiever and an original thinker. He wasn’t always like that. He never talked about that either. Why the change? Two words! Two beautiful words, Liz Parker.

She would be back any minute now, bringing cakes, cookies and drinks from the kitchen, with the help of his mom. He allowed himself a tiny smirk of satisfaction.

“We’re coming Max, ready or not!” came an enthusiastic yell from the kitchen and then the beautiful, dark haired owner of the voice came in, with huge, dark eyes and a happy smile as she strode across the room. Max was mesmerised.

“Definitely ready, couldn’t you hear my tummy rumbling?” he took the tray from her. He buried any past thoughts deep.

“Honestly Max you’re always hungry, you should be a big as my uncle Joe. He’s eyes are bigger than his belly and his belly is a big as a barge.” And she began arranged things onto the table.

“Liz now that’s not a very nice thing to say besides it might be a gland problem or something?” Diane said jovially.

“Or having two hands and only one mouth,” Max joined in, catching Liz watching him from across the table. Her face shining with fits of muffed laughter. It was like he was born to make her happy, that that was his place in this world. He was just being foolish.

“Honestly, you two are hopeless, two of a kind.” Diane commented as she poured juice liberally into each glass. Both children giggled, uncertain of just how to take what she’d said. “Are you coming to watch the turtle’s hatching tonight Liz?” She smiled.

“Am I going?” her young face a gar with amazement. “You try and stop me. It’s what I do every year. Grandma Claudia comes down especially to help me.” Liz could have counted down the time is took Max to splutter out a response.

“Grandma’s coming down?” Max didn’t even bother hiding his excitement. Liz had deliberately held off from telling him because she knew that he loved it when she came down. Liz never minded sharing Gramps with Max seeing as though he didn’t have any grandparents of his own. She’d asked Max once the reason why? His reply was that his mother’s parents had died in a road accident before he was born and his father told him that both his parents were dead but he never said how they died. Max’s father never talked about them. Ever! So Liz never pushed Max for information. She loved his smile.

“Yes, Gramps is coming and didn’t you know it’s rude to speak with your mouth full?” Max poked his tongue out at her, she went boss eyed at him in return.

“Nice you’ll stay like that one day.”

“But you’ll still love me.” She added. Max acted as if he hadn’t heard it while Liz wondered why she’d even said it. The room was silent.

“So you’re just going to watch?” Max said breaking the disturbing pause, seemingly disinterested in the turtle gathering. He knew Liz went every year but he’d either been ill or away or couldn’t go so he’d never been able to go with her.

“Not just to watch,” Liz protested. “We have to work while we’re there too.”

“No way,” Max butted in begrudgingly.

“Yes way and please close your mouth while you’re eating Max,” Liz replied politely to him. She gently continued munching.

“Oh do we?” Diane gasped indignantly as she pasted her son a napkin to mop up some of the contents of his mouth that were plastered around his mouth.

“Oh yes, they are endangered species that are protected by law didn’t you know?”

“Oh really?” Diane knew but pretended either wise.

“Yes and Mama Turtles aren’t very responsible parents, not like you and my parents are, you’re the best.” Liz added excitedly.

“Oh that’s good to hear dear.”

“Creep,” Max whispered playfully although Liz was right. Ignoring his outburst she ploughed on.

“She just leaves her eggs and swims off and it’s up to us to keep them safe.” Liz’s earnestness won Max’s interest even more and he leaned in closer to her.

“And does mama turtle have arm bands or a life preserver prey?” Liz was frowning at him.

“Max if you don’t have anything constructive to say then don’t. Here, eat another cookie.” And she handed him an oatmeal and raisin. His favourite, she knew that. That’s why she baked one especially for him when the rest were all chocolate-chip. Max was dumbstruck. He blinked and he felt the blood mount in his cheeks and his hands grew hot and sweaty. She’d made that for him, specially?

“Thank you.” He observed with a boyish, shy smile, the smile that Liz loved.

“You’re welcome, now where was I? Oh that’s right, the eggs are just now starting to hatch. Unfortunately on cloudy days like this, the baby turtles won’t be able to see the moon’s reflection on the water to guide them to the sea. They get disoriented, lose their way and die.”

“I would think a couple of hundred people would only add to the poor baby turtles’ confusion.” Diane joked.

“Hardly,” Liz said all prissy and prickly. She was very serious when it came to nature and science. “So are you coming?” She was looking directly at Max. “It’ll be one of the greatest adventures of your life; Promise.” Her face glowing, her eyes eager and her smile pleading.

“I don’t doubt that.” Max replied.

“Oh that’s right, what time are Alex and Maria coming over?” Diane asked.

“About 6.30pm,” both children said together. Their ability the answer questions at the same time and finish each others sentences was uncanny. It wasn’t a school night so they could all stay up late and have fun at the beach by bonfire light.

“Will everyone be there?” Diane popped another bite of her cake into her mouth.

“Pretty much but that Guerin character better not be there.” Liz hissed. Diane decided against asking Liz want she meant. Liz’s look said it all. Michael Guerin wasn’t a bad boy, just misunderstood and Max liked him. Diane always trusted Max’s instinct. He’d never been wrong once.

Max kept silent basking in the knowledge that a certain Michael Guerin, his friend would be there. He couldn’t wait to see Liz’s face when she saw him there, to see all their faces because collective Liz, Maria and Alex were not great fans of Michael’s. Michael was just acting up and Max understood him. He was one of the very few people that did. Max’s face broke into a broad grin in expectation.

As he watched Liz and his mother talking Max suddenly realized what is was about Liz that he couldn’t put his finger on, that he was always wondering about. She was more than the girl next door and his best friend. She was like the sibling he never had, like sister he never had. His heart was heavy. Liz was like the sister he had lost long ago.

I am glad that you like it and please let me know if it is going okay.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-Nov-2002 11:22:43 AM ]
posted on 7-Nov-2002 11:28:41 AM by alabama
thank Q, I am glad that you like it and isabel is the lost sister. more on that as the story goes on. it is okay if I add parts and twists of my own into dia's challenge? I will post again soon.
posted on 8-Nov-2002 3:05:10 PM by alabama
I am posting part three tonight depending on how fast I type and my computer access. wish me luck.
posted on 10-Nov-2002 7:15:19 AM by alabama
Sorry for the delay in posting and I am glad you like.

Part three

Later that evening, as the moon darted in and out of the dark clouds, Max stood a short distance apart from the milling crowds of family, friends, adults and children who were all collecting around the enormous camp fire.

Gathering his thoughts Max took in his surroundings; the sandy beach, the uneven grassy dunes and the constant ripple of the waves washing in made it a magical scene. Even the cool evening air couldn’t dampen any spirits and Maxwell Phillip Evans was excited. He hadn’t been this excited since- well since he’d shared juice, cakes and cookies with Liz and his mom earlier that day. He felt heat welling in his cheeks and was glad that nobody was about to see his blushing that always happened when ever he thought of Liz Parker.

Digging his hands deep into his pockets Max watched the collective grow, then he spotted what he’d been searching for and smiled; The Parker party. Nancy and Jeff were right in the thick of it, busy serving hot refreshments. He thought that wonderful people like them only existed in fairytales. He caught a glimpse of his mom helping them and knew it was a reality. Max was a very lucky little boy and never took a moment of his life for granted. Max wanted to whoop with pleasure. He took a step closer, waving furiously across at Liz’s Grandma Claudia who he’d screamed and hugged to death before leaving tonight.

“Gramps,” He squealed.

Seemingly knowing what he was thinking, that he wanted her to go over to him Grandma Claudia said where she was going to her son and began walking over. Max’s heart was racing in leaps and bounds. He loved it when she came to stay. She brought him lots of candy and cherry coke, told him stories of old and played with both him and Liz for hours on end. She even had an imaginary friend called Harold. Max used to have one, he name was Tommy then Max meet Liz and Max don’t need Tommy anymore. Liz? His eyes flicked past Gramps and found her standing on a slight rise.

He caught his breath when the moon peeked round the edge of a cloud, bathing Liz with soft light. He’d never seen anything as beautiful. Max wondered what she was thinking at that moment, she looked so thoughtful whilst standing there all alone. She looked so vulnerable - a sudden wave of high pitched giggles and adult mumblings interrupted Liz’s train of thought. She spun round and that’s when she caught Max watching her. She beamed him the biggest smile then waved wildly at him. Max couldn’t think of a better place to be and he silently prayed that she would come skipping and laughing over to talk to him. Max wanted to be close to her always, he could never be without his ‘little sis’. He continued to look at her admiringly.

Suddenly she turned away from him, towards the nest area, noticing that a line had formed from the sandy dunes to the shoreline and when they switched on their flashlights she bounced off in that direction instead. Max’s heart plummeted to his boots. His head ducked down low could it be that Max was jealous of her lack of attention towards him tonight? She had this unique way of making him feel special, even when they playfully bickered. Honestly, Liz, for all she was so dear to him, could be so infuriating sometimes. How he’d ever find someone equally able to put up with ways Max couldn’t image either? Max couldn’t explain it they just fitted together. Max knew he was being foolish when he knew how important this night was to Liz, she’d been planning in for weeks. She had other more important things to attend to besides him. Max was angry with himself. He remembered that there was going to be a firework display afterwards. Just at the thought he was getting excited. Max loved fireworks.

Max drank in the whole experience as it unfolded before his eyes, disturbed only by the excited noise of dozen’s of children trying to be quiet. Everybody seemed to be either organizing or organized, it was suddenly getting very busy very quickly and he could make out the petite figure of Liz Parker at the centre of it all. He couldn’t keep his eyes off of her and he loved the way she took charge of things and how passionate she was with what she believed in. Liz Parker was an amazing person.

“So this is where you’ve been hiding,” Max was so taken with watching Liz, deep in thought that he hadn’t seen Grandma standing beside him. She ruffled his hair. Max didn’t mind when she did it. “So how are you enjoying it handsome?” Max walked willing into Gramps’ out stretched arms.

“It’s great.” He replied excitedly and she knew he meant it. Max was never false about how he felt and what he said and there was a lot of love in her heart for Maxwell Evans.

“See, I told you, so much for staying in and watching cable with hot chocolate and cookies in tow hey?” she replied jovially.

“That’s boring, this is something special.” Claudia was amazed at what the little boy came out with sometimes. Maxwell Evans was an amazing person and miles beyond his tender age of 10.

With a delicate smile she signed deep and contentedly. “Yes it is and we’re doing something worth while too.” She replied thinking he meant that the experience and the night were special. She felt a little foolish when she saw that he was watching Liz.

She stared at the way that he was looking at her grand daughter. He looked so angelic almost as if- and she felt a sudden rush of realization, excitement and relief wash over her and directly into her cheeks when she realized that Liz would always have Max there to take care of her. Be there for Liz when she and her own son and wife were dearly departed, god willing. Liz would never be alone because she would always have Max to turn to in times of need and that warmed Claudia’s heart like no bonfire ever could. Claudia felt like the cat that had got the cream and her eyes shone bright with tears. She couldn’t see properly because they were blurring her vision.

Secretly she dreamt that Liz and Max’s sweet and innocent relationship would end up becoming something more as time pasted. It was already something special yet she thoroughly believed in soul-mates and destiny and that there was someone out there for everyone. Many believed she was cracked upon hearing her ideas about life, love and the world but she was a free spirit, unafraid of speaking her mind and showing her feelings. She hoped that she could at least pass that onto Liz if nothing else. Claudia felt too choked too speak when Max used her something, hugging him closer to her. Were Max and Liz written in the stars and destined to end up together forever on day? She wanted that so much but it wasn’t her choice to make. It was out of her hands. They had to find a way to each other for themselves if that was the case and their destiny and Claudia didn’t doubt that they wouldn’t for a moment.

“I know, isn’t it swell,” was Max’s gentle reply back, Claudia had never loved or cared about him more than she did then. She gently kissed the top of his head as she wiped away her tears of joy. She decided against making her inner thoughts known to Max, she could see it in his eyes when he looked at Liz just how dearly he cared about her. He was a bright boy, he find his own way.

“Are you okay Gramps?” Max quizzed eagerly.

“Oh yes, I’m fine, just a little cold.”

His tiny hand went instantly into hers. “I’ll go and get you something hot to drink.”

“No Max, I’ll go get something, you stay here and -,” her eyes travelled back to where Liz stood rallying the troops. She saw herself in Liz and she felt so proud. “- enjoy the view.” Max’s cheeks flamed crimson instantly.

“Oh okay.” He whispered, unsure about what she meant. Claudia embraced him once more before departing, leaving Max back to his own thoughts again.

He saw Alex doing his chicken impression to the right of him. The crowd that had been there thinned out, leaving Alex standing alone. He had that effect on people and not many knew how to take him. Alex Whitman was a friend for life. Max smiled at him while Alex motioned if he wanted a drink? Max nodded. He’d driven out to the beach with his mom and Alex. Max had been told of his father’s absence for the night earlier. Max had expected that he would be held up at work or something. It was like the food he ate, the air that he breathed and no matter how much Max hated it, it was a part of his life. He missed his father and it felt to Max like he was in a one parent family for most of the time, yet when his father was home he spent all of his time with Max.

Phillip was a great and loving father; Max knew that and the showering of gifts upon his return from where ever, was okay. It could never replace Phillip being there when Max woke up of a morning and when he went to bed of a night time. Never, and that was Max’s only ever wish- to have an everyday father, not an away day, snatch it when you can dad. Max used to get so mad when his friends whinged and wined about their dad’s, they didn’t have a clue how lucky they were with the exception of Michael. He knew.

Max very much wanted to go with Liz and Gramps but both Nancy and Jeff were going, as well as Maria and the space in the Parker Mobil was limited. Alex had landed on his doorstep dead on 6:30pm. You could time and egg on Alex’s time keeping to the second. He was so organized. Max wondered how they were such good buddies when Max was the exact opposite. Alex’s parents were going to be there too, hell the whole town was going however he’d wanted to go with Max. Max liked Alex a lot. Liz had spend the days leading up to the event telling everybody to ‘be there or be square’, and hounding all the customers at the crash.

The crash down was the Parker family restaurant and Max’s second favourite place to be in the world, the first being anywhere that Liz was. Jeff Parker put his heart and soul into the business and was there all day, everyday always making time for Liz and Nancy - and Max come to that matter. He even offered Diane a job there, going the accounting. She was there enough times either collecting Max or helping out so she gladly took the job; she needed to amuse her time somehow. All in all Jeff Parker was a roughly good egg and some might say a father figure for Max while his own was out of town. Max never saw it that way but was grateful that Jeff was always there for him to talk things through with if need be. Max figured that’s why he saw Liz as a sister figure and as a part of his family. The Evans and the Parkers were one great, big, happy family minus Phillip… and Isabel.

Isabel, Max was thinking about her more and more lately. He never meant to.
He’d never be able to forget her, no one expected him to besides the Parker’s still didn’t know of Isabel’s sudden demise after the accident and he wanted to tell them so much. Max never knew the full details of what happened, only that one morning his mom had been almost seven months pregnant with his baby sister and by night fall she was gone, leaving Diane hospitalized for near on three weeks.

It was an awful time, Max would have to be dragged away from his mother’s side screaming, pleading to his father to let him stay with her and he spent the first couple of days unable to see her. She was ‘a sleep’ for most of the time. Later Max found out that she’d been in a coma. Her injuries had been so severe.

His father had remained home the entire time taking care of Max. In a way it was so remarkable and usual for Max to have him so close by. Max yearned for it to be for a different reason than it was. It was strange for Max even stranger for Phillip when his father seemed distant, on edge. Max was only 3 at the time but young child could get vibes from an adult so easily and Max sensed that something was up with his daddy and that there was something he wasn’t being told. Max remembered snippets of that tragic time, lots of late night phone calls and nightly visits to his home from men that Max had never seen before. Raised voices, arguing maybe? Phillip thought Max was tucked up in bed asleep. Phillip didn’t know enough about his own son, he was away too long. Max was a very light sleeper and like they say ‘walls have ears.’

That time had long since past. Max wanted to tell Liz, he hated keeping it from her. He hated keeping anything from her because best friends told each other everything. His mother had told him not to tell anyone about Isabel, it was still too pain for her to cope with and Max stuck to his word. Max felt like weeping. Having never met Isabel (they knew that they were having a little girl and what her name would be even before she was born) Max was always left wondering what it would have been like to have a sister, what she would have been like - then he met Liz Parker and she was perfection to Max. Just how he imaged Isabel to have been, was that wrong of him to think that? Liz Parker was her own person, not a replacement for something that Max had never had. Max always wanted Liz to be a part of his life no matter what. He couldn’t bear the thought of being a part from her at any time Max knew that for a fact.

Max heard a cackling and didn’t have to turn round to know it was Maria Deluca who was making that horrendous noise. Maria was late, as usual, arriving at 6.55pm spilling wild excuses of her hair not being right and her clothing wouldn’t match. Maria could be a right little madam when she wanted to be. She’d be the one in later life when homework was due using the excuse that her cat died, or her dog peed on her essay. She made Max laugh so much, especially when she had her mighty run-in’s with Michael. They had to be seen to be believed. Max had never thought about love and having girlfriends of his own. For some reason that just didn’t interest him but he could see those two ending up together one day, not that he’d ever say. Maria scared him and the ear bashing he’d get from Michael was something that he could do without.

Talking of the misunderstood where was Michael anyway? Max had offered to give him a lift. Michael said he’d meet him there. Max figured that he was having problems with his adopted family again, well in the process of adopting him, they were still in the early stages and the problems all of Michael’s making. Michael didn’t allow the Johnson’s to get too close, much like the way that Max had lived his own life and in Max’s mind that’s why he and Michael had such a strong and instant connection to each other. Max could see them being friends for life also.

Michael didn’t allow such considerations to side track him. Once he let down his guard and trusted anyone, they would ditch him- just like his Mom had ditched him years ago. The Johnson’s were good people, patient and loving that weren’t about to give up hope on Michael despite him constantly pushed them away. If Max thought he had problems in his past, Michael’s were worse. It had been just after his dad died that his Mom had become ill. They called it a ‘breakdown’ or something. She had to go away for a long time, more than a year. And there was nobody else to take care of him so Michael went into a home. That was the one place Max would never want to go, he could never bear it if he was sent away from his parents and his home and if he was ever sent away from Liz. He’d hate being locked up somewhere he didn’t want to be.

Michael wasn’t allowed to go and see his mom in the hospital again, after the first time of going apparently she’d been really upset when she’d seen him. He’d over heard the doctors saying he reminded her of her late husband, Hank and it might be as well if she didn’t see him for a while.

When his mom finally got better she’d come and fetch him from where he was but somehow Michael didn’t seem to know her any more. She’d be a pale and silent stranger to him and all the closeness there had been between them seemed to have vanished. She had tried to look after him, in reality she couldn’t even look after herself. Many a day she forgot to cook tea for them and Michael rarely had clean clothes to wear and she would suddenly go off and leave him, spending what little money they had on booze, fags and things for her self. Max believed that she never laid a hand to Michael yet you can scar and hurt people in others ways. Michael never talked about it much and Max felt honoured by the snippets that he had shared with him and never pushed for more. Everyone had their secrets.

Max singled out Liz again, listening to her detailed yet immature explanation of the night’s activities. Max still felt a bit foolish baby-sitting turtles of all things. He’d do anything that Liz asked him if the whole truth be known. He shivered slightly in his light weight jacket.

“So does everybody know what they have to do?” someone cried and Max’s blood boiled. Mr Carmichael, a marine biologist and the local high school Biology teacher politely asked the crowd after motioning for calm and quiet. Max eyed him spiritedly, totally ignored him and looked around at Liz because Max knew that Mr. Carmichael was also Liz Parker’s idol and first crush. She flatly denied it of course, always too quickly Max thought. She hung on the older man’s every word. Max teased her a lot about it and she’d say she wasn’t interested in boys besides Mr. Carmichael was a fossil and way too old for her. It didn’t concern Max any less knowing that Liz seemed to respond to Mr. Carmichael in a way that she never did with Max. Max didn’t like it and was at a loss as to why? Was it not the brotherly thing to do? To protect and serve the ones you love?

Max wasn’t given the time to contemplate that, an all too familiar yell coming from behind him interrupting him.

“So where’s this party at?”

Max breathed in softly when hearing a collective “Oh! My! God!” coming from three corners of the beach where Maria, Alex and Liz were situated when they all realized who had just arrived. All amazed that he had even bothered to show up.

“Never fear, the g man is here, so who’s for barbecued turtle?” Michael exclaimed with an enormous grin on his face.

Oh brother this was going to be a very, very long night Max thought quietly to himself.

Was that doing okay? Please let me know.

posted on 11-Nov-2002 1:00:15 PM by alabama
thank Q for liking my story. it has lots more twists to come and I will be posting again this week.
posted on 12-Nov-2002 4:30:02 PM by alabama
thank Q for the interest in my story. I have started writing part four as I begin reading the sequel to kiss the flame too. not the best plan. wish me luck.
posted on 17-Nov-2002 12:18:05 PM by alabama
I have a question are maria's eyes green? I would greatly appreciate it. I need to know for the next part. thank Q for your continued keen interest and I will be posting part 4 later.
posted on 17-Nov-2002 2:54:23 PM by alabama
if you say green then green it is. thank Q dia and I hope you like the part. I have to add something to it then I will post.
posted on 18-Nov-2002 12:34:21 PM by alabama
Part four

The air was thick with a sinking feeling, the others gathering around him from where’d they had all been scattered about on the beach. Not a word was spoken as Michael continued grinning wildly, rubbing his palms together whilst whistling cheerfully.

“So any takers or are you all chicken?” He challenged.

Liz, Alex and Maria all grunted at his statement, still tense in their silence and unable to think of anything to say in response. Max couldn’t help smiling at his friend’s comment, trying dismally to conceal it behind his hand. Max liked Michael; he liked Michael a lot and for lots of different reasons. Primarily because he was never afraid to say what he felt and thought about any given situation where Max spent most of his time ‘hiding behind a tree’ as Liz called it when his inner most thoughts were concerned. Liz had a knack of describing things and that was how she perceived him sometimes. Max hated that she thought of him in that way and was at a complete loss as to the reason why he did?

“Well?” Michael took a breath.

Max continued to listen in silence unable to find a reason for refusing the disguising idea quick enough. The one thing Max couldn’t stand was Michael going on and on at him. It irritated him, not that he’d ever say.

Max was never jealous of how Michael was able to ‘tell it like it is’ he only wished that he could do the same too. He was yet to find the day and a reason when he’d start doing it. That’s what the joys of growing up were all about. He figured if the opportunity ever a rose that Liz parker would be in the equation somewhere. It was inevitable.

“So how about it Maxwell, you game?” Michael grinned mischievously, standing firm with his arms tightly folded across his chest staring only at Max. He’d walked right past the other three and gone straight over to where Max was, ignoring everyone else. Before he could form an answer Max felt a sharp slap at his upper arm.

“Don’t you dare Maxwell Phillip Evans, don’t you dare and don’t think for a minute that I can’t see you laughing,” Max was jerked awake, his eyes drifting across to the petite figure now standing next to him. Max hadn’t noticed Liz standing beside him and his heart instantly began pounding so fast at the sight of her. This unnerved the young boy, why was he feeling this way when ever she was near him? He’d have to have a word with is mom about it later, his mom knew everything and maybe she’d know the answer because Max hadn’t got a clue.

“But, I-I-,” Max stammered, shaking his head. He felt shattered that she’d even think that he’d do such a thing.

Liz shot him another meaningful frown whilst waggling a finger. “But nothing don’t you dare encourage him Maxwell!” she looked furious. Max’s boyish grin grew. He couldn’t help it. He loved to see her getting in a paddy wax, besides Max was elated that she was close to him again. He’d missed her tonight. Michael laughed at what he was witnessing.

“Oo encourage away Maxwell I’m in the mood for a little mayhem and chaos,” They all looked at him in complete disgust and Michael winked back at them which only made it worse. Liz, Alex and Maria all wanted a pop at him because they knew he wasn’t joking but didn’t know where to start. It was left to Max, as usual to pull ‘the mental short straw’ and say something.

“I’ve already eaten thanks Michael.” That was not the best thing to have said and earned him another whack from Liz. Truth be known, that’s why he said it. Max felt a rush of warmth bombard his tummy when ever she touched him these days. She had him feeling like he was burning inside.

“So?” Michael’s response fell on deaf eyes. Max hadn’t heard Michael talking to him because Max was lost deep in thought, deep in Liz. His smile grew but her spirited eyes didn’t waver. She was angry with him. Max didn’t like it and his boyish grin faded. He was trembling inside but his voice was cool and clear.

“No.” he said quietly to Michael. He gave Liz another side wards glance, her face was half covered by her long shiny hair so he couldn’t see the look she was giving him back. A sly smile touched her lips and relief washed over Max. She was okay with him.

"Dare you Maxwell,” Michael repeated harshly. This snapped Max out of what ever Liz induced slumber he was in. This was a very confusing time for Max.

“What?” Max questioned taking a deep breath.

“Dare- you- Maxwell,” Michael goaded and he saw Max flinch. He knew that would get him and that he couldn’t be able to resist the challenge now. They played dare games all the time, Michael especially liked Truth or dare. They’d gotten into some pretty dicey situations from playing over the years. Max remained silent.

“Well?” Max said nothing whilst giving Liz another side wards look. She was beaming at him and Max felt a warming glow whelming up inside of him when he saw the fullness of her beautiful face in the bright, clear moonlight. Michael was getting impatient.

"Great! Just great!! You're a chicken too Maxwell. Is there no justice in this world?!" Michael said throwing his arms up to the heavens. “Please tell me that you’re not hanging out with those girly wimps all night?” He sank to his knees with hands clasped out of front of him, casting his eyes upwards.

“Get up drama queen.” Maria finally spoke, flashing her eyes to the heavens in disgust at Michael’s behaviour.

“Oh I’m sorry, I forgot that’s your job isn’t it,” Michael replied back, not looking at her.

“You’re such a jerk Guerin,” was her quick fired response. Max smiled. Michael was a real goof ball sometimes and he loved Maria’s comebacks. Max loved his life so much some days, most days if Liz Parker was anything to go by.

“Please Maxwell. I beg you run while you still can, you’ll never get out alive if you don’t.” Even at 10 Michael Guerin was a sarcastic little so and so.

“Oh grow up dick weed!” Maria butted in again. She’d had enough of this nonsense and it was almost time for the turtles to hatch and there was no way she was missing it due to ‘that Guerin character’.

Michael tensed, rising to his feet. Maria stood firm as he turned to face her slowly. She wasn’t afraid of him and Michael knew that.

“MARIA!” Liz yelled. She didn’t like any words of that nature. Maria shrugged her shoulders at her.

“What, are you saying he’s not a d-I-c-k- w-e-e-d?” She repeated proudly from across the beach. Liz was struck silent. Maria knew that word, among many, many others from hearing her mom calling her last ‘no hoper of a user boyfriend’ it as she physically threw him, closely followed by his measly bag of belongings, out the front door one day. Good job, Maria didn’t like him just as she hadn’t liked any of the others who’d come before him.

Her mom was under the distinct impression that she needed a father figure in her life after her own walked out on her and her mom when Maria was only 3 days old. Wrong. Maria prayed that one day her mom would wake up and smell the coffee and see that she didn’t want one, that it was better when it was just the two of them. Men only got in the way and made things difficult and that’s probably why she only let herself get close to Max, Alex and Mr. Parker and why she didn’t get on with Michael Guerin at all. This bemused Maria no end.

The reason for Mr. Parker was simple because a) he was Liz’s dad, b) he was a great guy and c) she wanted to work at ‘the crash’ when she grew up. It was her one dream, that and to sing. Maria loved singing and she drove everyone insane whilst doing it. She had a lot of years of training and learning and practising to go before she made ‘pop idol’.

“Or have you got a better suggestion Liz?” Liz shook her head. “If not I have one-,” And she was about to open her mouth and put her foot in it, right up to the groin, as usual. Maria was a mind of information and quirks when there was a collective “NO!” from Liz, Max and Alex. They knew what she was like. Amy, Maria’s mom was a spirited woman and her daughter was following in her footsteps.

Slowly rising to his feet Michael gave her the once over. Maria stood her ground. Maria Deluca was a pretty girl, with short, spiky blonde hair, piercing green eyes and ruby red lips who knew how to speak her mind and was afraid of nothing and nobody. She also happened to be the class hotty and the only girl they knew for sure who wore makeup, toe and thumb rings. She was a primadonna with an open minded mom, a dangerous combination where Michael was nothing special and he knew it.

Also he knew he had a definite feeling about Maria and that scared the hell out of him the most. He couldn’t let her get close because he knew in his heart of hearts that she could so he kept that damming thought strictly private. He didn’t even tell Max. “Who invited you into the conversation Ms. poopypants?” Michael replied, smiling at her from ear to ear. He instantly saw the anger flaming in her rosy cheeks. He knew she hated him calling her that. Maria stepped right up close to his face with hands on her hips.

“Oh dear,” Alex whispered quietly. He’d seen their run-ins before and they weren’t nice and they were not pretty and something to behold.

“Me, now buzz off before I hurt you.” Maria wilfully insisted.

“Oo don’t hurt me please,” Michael replied sarcastically.

“You wish,” Was her pithy reply. He did wish and a lot of other things besides but Michael quickly got a grip of himself. After all he’d become an expert at hiding his emotions.

"Dare you Max,” he ignored Maria completely, turning back to his friend. His eyes narrowed when a brilliant plan suddenly flashed into his mind, “Or is the dare not worthy enough for you Maxwell? Would you wanna play if the dare means you gotta, oh let me think - kiss Liz say?" he added.

With a mounting feeling of sudden panic Max tried to speak but no words came out. He was so embarrassed to even breathe.

“Put up or shut up Guerin, he doesn’t want to play okay.” Maria came to her friends defence. She’s been prepared in the past to give Guerin the benefit of the doubt for what he said and did due to his background. She felt so sorry for him. She hid it well but sometimes she couldn’t forgive him for being such a thoughtless jerk when there was no need to be. He had the chance of a new and perfect life if he’d just reach out and take it.
Even if Max wasn’t clear on his feelings for Liz- she was. Nothing got past the ria machine.

“What ever,” Michael kicked a foot full of undirected sand in his anger. “So too chicken to even do that huh Maxwell, figures.” And Michael started making chicken noises, pairing it with the actions. Alex was impressed even when it put his earlier effort to shame not that he’s say it. Both girls would whack him.

"I'm not, I just don't want to," Max finally answered, his eyes shyly drifting towards Liz then at his feet. Max was embarrassed by what had happened when he didn’t know why while Michael became increasingly inflamed. It wasn’t fun between him and Max anymore. Maxwell was changing. Michael didn’t like it.

“Sissy,” Michael continued being a complete jerk but unbeknown to the others the reason for Michael’s ‘odder-than-usual’ behaviour was due to the fact the Johnson’s had told him earlier that the adoption papers had arrived today and once sighed he’d legally become a Johnson and be a Guerin no more and that had scared the hell out of him. Michael was afraid to give in and to let go so he’d run off. They were probably going spare trying to find him. Michael knew he’d be in so much trouble when he got home, he didn’t give a hoot.

“Leave him alone Michael.” Liz explained, completely unnerved by everything, almost as if she’d ignored what Michael had said about her. Being kissed by Max was too absurd to contemplate so she never gave it a second thought. Max looked embarrassed and hurt. Alex and Maria nodded in agreement after seeing how uncomfortable Max looked.

“Why have you got to be such a jerk all the time Michael?” Max said abruptly to him. He was mad.

“Because I can,” Michael said proudly.

“Because it’s the only thing you’re good at more like.” Alex muttered under his breath. He’d so been looking forward to tonight and then Guerin had to go and spoil it, nothing usual there.

“What did you say Alexandra?” Michael always called him that and was amazed to hear that coming from him when Whitman wouldn’t say boo to a goose.

“You heard,” Alex snatched out and a united gasp from the other 4, Michael included could be heard. Alex was scaring himself too. None of them had ever heard Alex talk like that before. Alex was afraid of Michael, of anyone but he was 10, almost 11 years of goodness sake and Alex thought it was about time for him to grow a pair. Michael was left wondering how to dismiss Alex’s comment when-

“Well, well, well, look who it is.” They recognized the smug voice instantly and Alex suddenly thought to himself that now was maybe not such a good time to outwardly grow a pair. Maxwell could see Michael shaking, not with fear but with anger as his fists curled up into tight balls. Now was not the time for this, no time was the right time because coming towards them was a short, lanky brown haired boy flanked by two of his devoted followers, Sean and Kyle Valenti. Nicolas Langley, almost 10, was the real bad egg of school where as Michael was only playing, not that he’d let that be common knowledge.

“Little metal Mickey and his band of losers,” Michael had braces. Everyone knew it was not wise to even go there. Max saw Michael moving, gently pulling him back by his elbow before he went and did something monumentally stupid.

With a croaked smile at what he was seeing, Nicolas’ set back eyes were fixed solid, staring only at Michael. He and Nicolas went way back. They were in the same children’s home for a time, the only thing different for Nicolas was when his parents came to get him after their car accident, they kept him. Hate was a very strong emotion for a boy of 10 but Michael was happy to use it when referring to Nicolas.

“Come on Michael lets just go somewhere else,” Max whispered in his infinite wisdom. Michael wasn’t budging an inch.

“Yes Metal Mickey, you better do what your girlfriend tells you,” As he drew closer Nicolas bent down to pick up a lone rock at his feet. Max froze. Nicolas was like that, getting his kicks from hurting people. Max knew what was coming, Michael and Nicolas had a long running feud and he instinctively looked around for anyone to help them. There wasn’t anyone close enough by to see, all the adults seemingly more interested in organizing the ‘rescue’. Anxiously Max stepped in front of the girls, covering his body unintentionally across Liz’s the most. Max wasn’t the only one surprised to see that Michael was now standing in front of Maria. The big lug had a heart after all. Alex, being Alex stayed put in between the two girls, behind Max and Michael. He wasn’t proud he’d be the first to admit that he was mentally ‘peeing- his- pants’ at this moment in time.

The three tearaways stopped directly in front of them. “Hi Liz,” Kyle suddenly said to her smiling, breaking the deadlock. Liz ignored him and his smile, she couldn’t understand why he had to be such a jerk and hang around Nicolas when he was so nice when he was on his own. He’d come over and talk to her sometimes in school or at the crash and she liked it. Kyle was nice. Max however was a little weary of his interaction with Liz and the attention he paid her. He didn’t like it.

“Or what?” Michael quizzed confidently. The first rock hit Michael’s shoe followed by another.

“Hey,” One hit Max’s ankle, who screwed up his face as pain shot up his leg.

“Max!” Liz cried out.

“I’m okay, stay behind me Liz,” his arm reaching to stop her coming any closer. Max looked critically about them, eyeing up their options. It didn’t look too good. Kyle picked up a rock after seeing Max placing an arm across Liz’s chest. He was fuming when he saw her take Max’s hand into hers. He didn’t like Evans one bit and he didn’t like that he was so close to Liz when he’d known her longer than Max. Nicolas suddenly became tense when he saw that neither Michael nor Max picked up a rock to throw back. “Go away Nicolas!” Max said abruptly. He’d had enough and could sense Liz’s anguish.

“Well, looks like we’ve got a regular ‘chickens ‘r’ us’ gathering going on here doesn’t it boys?” Nicolas laughed, the comment aimed at Sean and Kyle.

“Looks that way,” Sean added proudly.

“Bunch of sissy’s,” Kyle didn’t want to be left out even when he didn’t like the way Liz was looking at him. It was like she was telling him that she didn’t like him and wasn’t going to talk to him ever again. Kyle felt hurt by it but didn’t say anything. Michael wasn’t biting. No one was. Nicolas smiled wickedly at the stalemate when an idea came to him.

“So how’s this little parent, children bonding session going anyway? Michael?”

“Shut up Nicolas if you know what’s good for you.” Max wasn’t a violent boy, it wasn’t in his nature but Max would make an exception this time. Nicolas was bang out of order. Courage coursed through his veins.

“You gonna to make me Evans?” And he threw another stone at Maxwell which hit him clean in the face.

“Max!” Liz yelled as Max leant over, clutching his hand to his wound. He was bleeding. She felt physically sick.

“No! I am,” and with that, Maria suddenly executed a perfect knee in the balls move on Nicolas and levelled him flat out on the sand. Sean and Kyle froze, unsure of what to do? Laugh with the others or go to his defence? Looking at each other, knowing what Nicolas was like they immediately came to his defence as Nicolas fell over aching and yelling in pain. The others stared at Maria in complete shook.

“What?” she said with a confused look on her face. Michael just stood there gapping at her while Alex couldn’t stop laughing.

“Max?” Liz was still fussing over him, she felt so sick at the thought of him being hurt. Her closeness and how it was making him feel was forgotten as Max thought this whole situation was going to get very ugly, very quickly.

“Let’s get them!” Sean said angrily.

“NO!” Nicolas stumbled to get up, falling forward a few times in getting to his feet. Just getting up to standing position was a nightmare for him. He winced “Leave it!” Talking was difficult for him, “we’ll get them after school tomorrow.” He threatened as he coughed hard.

“I don’t think so!” Was the booming voice that came from the blackness behind them, “Do you?” Nicolas spun round as everyone looked up, it was Mr. Carmichael. He’d seen the trouble from across the beach and knew what Langley was like from experience. Max, even in his pain instantly looked for Liz, expecting to find her with that soppy grin on her face when ever the guy was around and was shocked to find that she was looking only at him and not at Mr. Carmichael at all. Max didn’t know what to think to that as his face throbbed with pain.

“Because they’ll be no getting anybody after school, understand?” Mr Carmichael questioned, his voice booming over the dunes as he ‘gently’ gathered Nicolas up by the scuff of his neck. “You guys okay?” He was looking at Max’s face. There was a collective “yes” as he escorted Nicolas, Sean and Kyle politely off the beach. Everyone concerned knew that this was far from over.

Regaining their composure Liz quickly looked at Max’s face again. Her heart was stuck in her throat when she saw he’d suffered a nasty cut and bruised cheek. It looked ugly and it was making her feel sick.
“You okay Max?” Her fingers lightly brushed across his face and Max’s heart leaped.

“Yes,” Without thinking Max lightly cupped his hand over hers. “I’m fine.”

“Come with me Max let’s get that seen to,” Liz held out her other hand towards him and Max took it and squeezed it lightly. She returned the squeeze, but her eyes, when she looked up at him, held an expression Max had never seen before. “I’m fine Liz,” he smiled gently as he pulled her closer and felt her relax as she whispered.

“I was so scared.”

“I know. I was too but everything’s okay,” Again he smiled down at her, a confident smile now. Liz squeezed his hand tighter as they heard the cries of their families as they made their way over.

“Maria that was awesome,” Alex interrupted excitedly.

“I know it was wasn’t it!” She squealed the reality of what she done finally sinking in. She didn’t care about what tomorrow brought because tonight was good. “No one hurts my friends and gets away with it.” She shot Michael a quick look. Michael remained silent and shell shocked and he wasn’t sure how to take it was she including him in that statement? Was he classed as a friend of hers? Instead he spoke to Max.

“Remind me never to get on the bad side of her would you Maxwell.” Max laughed.

“And who says you haven’t already Guerin?” And with that Maria smiled and it was obvious that something had changed for the better between the two of them. Michael then got the confidence to speak to her.

"So tell me something Ms. Poopypants,” he teased.


“How did it feel?” and a big smile graced his features.

“Well you know Guerin it felt rreeaallyy good to me.” She said as she turned around and headed back towards the shore line.

‘Good grief’ thought Michael, wanting to physically slap himself on the forehead for the thought he was thinking. Should he tell her? He decided against it because people would see and think him odd. He chuckled to himself. No more odd than usual. Maria is going to be incredible when she got older. He couldn’t breathe just by thinking about it. He’d be better prepared next time, he’d have to be. She turned back and smiled at him. He wanted to smile back but she couldn’t get close to him, he wouldn’t allow it. As he thought he heard squeals and cries of excitement.

“LOOK! LOOK!” he heard Liz shriek. Max responded, turning instantly with a pounding heart because he thought she was in trouble. Despite himself Max felt a deep thrill when he suddenly saw hundreds of dark little forms begin to make their squiggly and wiggly way towards the sea. It was a sight to behold as the moonlight hit them whilst they crossed the sandy beach.
“COME ON!” She yelled excitedly as she let go of his hand. Max felt the emptiness inside from her leaving him instantly as he saw Liz starting to run down to join the line. He was transfixed by only her slight figure as he followed after. His parents were fussing all over him, asking him what had happened to his face. He was fine, everything was fine and he wasn’t about to lose sight of Liz for a moment.

“” “” “” “” “” “” “” “” “” “” “” “” “” “”

They all spent the next hour, even Michael alternately escorting hatchlings safely to the sea and sitting next to the enormous, blazing camp fire as Nancy and Jeff continued to provide hot chocolate and coffee.

The night was perfect even with Nicolas’ intervention until a prolonged scream pierced the cool night air.

please let me know if that part was okay and if it is okay to add twists and turns of my own into dia's challenge?

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 19-Nov-2002 12:49:35 PM ]
posted on 19-Nov-2002 12:58:59 PM by alabama
thank Q so much for the continued keen interest in this story and all being well I am aiming to get part five posted this week. wish me luck and thank Q again.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 20-Nov-2002 4:46:23 AM ]
posted on 28-Nov-2002 5:15:32 AM by alabama
thank Q for the very welcomed interest in my story as I pose a question. our computer has bust which will make it hard impossible to write and post until it is repaired. I will continue on if you would wish me to but I am clueless to when that will be or I will have to give up dias brilliant challenge. I'm sorry. can you wait for me to fix it? happy thanksgiving.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 28-Nov-2002 5:22:08 AM ]