posted on 17-Dec-2002 12:52:18 PM by ravrac
CATEGORY: M/L, with others blended in. AU. Characters do not belong to me. Aliens do not exist.

Hi, Everyone:

I'm taking a breather from 'aliens' right now. I decided I needed a little genuine romance without the angst that often needs to take place in the 'alien' world. But I still thought the characters Liz and Max would fit in nicely with this idea.

I got this idea from just watching previews of "Maid in Manhattan." I haven't seen it yet. So I doubt I'll be stealing anything from the movie. But just in case there are any similarities, it is quite by coincidence.

I know I have several other fic's only partially completed, but I promise I'll get back to them. I just need to clear the cobwebs right now.

RATING: PG – PG-15

"In the wake of Reality"

Prologue

Liz was having a rough day. She’d already been on two other interviews and still had no hope of being hired. She had just one more, but even it didn’t look promising. For that matter, it had all the earmarks of being the oddest interview she’d ever be on. It was going to be the first time she’d be interviewed by a third party representing the prospective employer.

If it weren’t for the fact that she was so desperate to get a job before beginning her last year of college, she would have dismissed such an odd request to meet with a representative. In the past, she would have never given consideration to meeting a representative instead of the prospective employer.

She’d always prided herself on being a good judge of character, especially when it came to employers. She always privately considered that it was her opportunity to ‘judge’ the potential working relationship by how well she connected with the prospect during the interview.

But time was running out. She was at a point that she now didn’t have the luxury of forcing the issue of meeting this next prospect. So she now resigned herself to going through the motions of just one more in a series of failed attempts at assuring herself of having some form of income to help cover the costs of her dorm and incidental expenses – like some measure of rest and relaxation during intervals of cramming for exams and unexpected quizzes, that would no doubt have a great impact on whether or not she got through this final year, and finally earned the degree in biology she’d been dreaming about her whole life.

Just as Liz was reflecting on the final hurdles set before her, her name was called for the last interview of the day. ‘Well, here goes,’ she thought to herself, ‘for what it’s worth.’

Part 1

“Maxwell, time is running out for you. As you may recall, we made an agreement when you graduated from college that, if you were not engaged or did not have a prospective intended by the time you turned 25, you would acquiesce to my choice for your spouse. I have too many agreements and deals riding on your ability to fill my shoes by age 25, and all of them require that you will only be acceptable to my partners if you are married or engaged by that time,” Phillip Evans stated matter-of-factly to his only son.

“But, Dad” –

“I don’t want to hear it, Max. You’ve been out of college for three years now and still have not given any indication that you have even been attempting to fulfill your obligation to me and the family.”

When Max remained silent as Phillip paused, he continued, “Therefore, you have no alternative but to accept my terms. And they are as follows” –

“You’re kidding me; right?”

“You should know me well enough, Maxwell, to know I never ‘kid’ when it comes to financial matters. Therefore, your mother and I are arranging a dinner party in which all of the eligible daughters of my partners -- as well as their parents, of course – will be attending. You will be introduced to each of them. Of course, you already know all of them, though perhaps it has been some time since those introductions. So you may not remember most of them. However, I have no doubt that you will remember one of them. Does the name ‘Tess Harding’ ring any bells?”

At just the mention of the name, Max had a picture flash before him of a short, well-built, blonde bombshell he had dated a few times while he was in college. She was only a freshman when he was a senior in college, which meant she would now be a senior and would be graduating at the end of the next college year. He also remembered why he had only dated her a few times. The only thing she had seemed to be interested in was, not whether or not they were compatible, but whether or not his family was well-to-do enough to be considered her equal. Though Max even then had not been taking seriously his responsibilities as Phillip Evans’ only son, it had irked him to think of the prospect of being married to someone who was more concerned about appearances than about love.

Max had grown up in a loving home. Though his father had in recent years appeared to have lost his focus as far as his relationship with his loving wife Diane, Max and his sister Isabel had always known and been able to feel the deep love their parents had shared. But because the economy had become so uncertain and his father more and more had to depend on the partnership arrangements he was now in to keep the family business functioning, he had slowly observed his father becoming only a shell of the father Max had secretly admired his whole life. But as his father had gradually shifted his priorities from family to finances, Max suddenly realized it was that change that had contributed to Max not taking seriously his own responsibilities to his father. He’d subconsciously decided he did not want to become his father but, without realizing it, was doing just that.

Max had remained silent for several seconds after his father had mentioned Tess Harding. When Max did not respond to his question and remained silent, Phillip decided he had no choice but to once again give Max an ultimatum.

“Maxwell, answer me. Do you remember Tess Harding?”

“Yes, Father,” Max answered, not wanting to acknowledge anything further.

“I always liked that young woman. She’s just the kind of wife you need to ‘decorate’ the parties you’ll need to give as part of the responsibilities you will have in the business.”

“No,” was Max’s simple response.

“’No,’ what? No, you don’t remember her?”

“No, I will NOT marry her,” Max said emphatically.

“Well, as I said earlier, young man, you’re at a point where you no longer have any say in the matter.”

“Wait a minute. I thought you just said I had until I was 25.”

“Yes, but” –

“Well, I still have six months before then. What if I could come up with at least a fiancée by then?” he asked. Of course, secretly, Max couldn’t imagine ‘just coming up with’ a fiancée. Just the thought turned his stomach. He’d been able to observe for too long the relationship between his parents and had decided long ago that he hoped some day to find the genuine, everlasting love that he’d seen demonstrated over the years between them. But he was beginning to realize he would have to start showing some sort of effort in at least ‘trying’ to become engaged. At this point, he was willing to date just about anyone to at least give the appearance that he was trying. Heck, he decided he would even be willing to date one of his family’s maids, whatever it would take, so long as he wouldn’t have to pretend to be interested in Tess Harding, of all people.

At hearing Maxwell’s poor attempt at such a proposition, Phillip was momentarily reminded of how he himself had felt when he and Diane had married. At that time, they were as poor as church mice, but Phillip could only remember the genuine happiness and love they felt for one another. Theirs had been the kind of love that some people can live a lifetime but never find. Though he had to be honest with himself and acknowledge he hadn’t really been around much for Diane in recent years. It wasn’t until that moment that it occurred to him that he and Diane hadn’t really been out on ‘a date,’ with just the two of them, in many years. Suddenly, he realized he really did want Max to have the joy of experiencing that kind of love.

As Phillip continued in his thoughts for a minute or so longer, he realized he had to give Max at least one more opportunity to find that kind of love. It also occurred to him, as he continued in his thoughts, he’d be willing to give up all the material possessions he had if he could see Max’s face light up with the kind of genuine joy and affection for a young woman that he remembered he’d felt for his own beloved wife all those years ago, during the lean years. He didn’t even have to think twice about what Diane’s thoughts would be, because he knew she had felt that way for years. It had been her constant reminders to him of those ‘simple times’ that had kept Phillip from forcing Max into a ‘life of convenience’ for the last couple of years. Within seconds, Phillip had made his decision.

Max had been watching his father for the past several seconds, trying to see if he could read what was on his father’s mind by the expression on his face, but had failed. Finally, he saw his father’s expression change, and he once again began speaking.

“I’ve made a decision, Max,” a name Phillip had not used in addressing Max for over a year now. “If you will agree to my proposition, I will agree to give you the next six months to reach the goal of at least becoming engaged.” Phillip paused to see what Max’s reaction would be.

Hesitantly, Max responded, “What exactly do you have in mind, Father? What’s the catch?”

“The catch is this: If, at the end of that six months, you still have not become engaged, I will have no alternative but to make such a decision for you.”

Max realized he might be pushing his luck just a tad, but he had to know exactly where he stood with his father. So he responded with a question. “But what if the person I choose isn’t from one of the ‘best families’?”

“What are you getting at, Max?” Again, the name Max hadn’t heard from his father in over a year.

“Well – I don’t know – suppose she’s from the wrong side of the tracks? Suppose she turns out to be a maid or a waitress, something like that?”

“Do you honestly think I’m that shallow, Max? I guess you don’t remember the background your own family comes from.”

“What are you talking about?”

Phillip shook his head and said, “I guess you were too young to remember how we came to be in the position we’re in now. No matter.

“In answer to your question, if you can find ‘the love of your life,’ your ‘soulmate,’ or whatever you want to call her, in the next six months, and she turns out to be ‘from the wrong side of the tracks,’ as you put it, that will have no bearing on my decision. All your mother and I have ever wanted for you and your sister, Max, is for you both to be able to take care of your inheritance in a responsible way. And though I realize I haven’t been setting a good example myself in the last year or so, I know in my heart the best way you’ll be able to do that is if you have a loving companion at your side to help you weather the good times and the bad.”

At hearing his father’s candid admission, Max was momentarily speechless. It had never occurred to Max in all this time that his father was more concerned about their emotional well-being than just ‘taking care of business.’ Suddenly, Max was seeing a side of his father he’d never given him credit for, that of a person genuinely interested in his family and not just his business dealings.
Finally, Max found his voice. Touched deeply by his father’s candor, he decided his father deserved nothing less from him. His first movement was to hold out his hand to his father.

“What’s that for?” his father asked.

“Isn’t it customary, when two gentlemen make an agreement, to shake on it?”

Now it was Phillip’s turn to be rendered momentarily speechless. He realized he’d never heard his son refer to himself or his father as ‘gentlemen.’ Something told Phillip this was going to be a turning point in their family relationship. So without uttering a word, he took his son’s hand, and they shook on the proposal Phillip had made.

tbc-?

Well, what do you think?



*bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce*

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 24-Dec-2002 8:10:23 PM ]
posted on 17-Dec-2002 3:54:33 PM by ravrac
Hi, Everyone:

I'm so tickled to get such quick acknowledgments to my beginning, it's encouraged me to post a little more of what I have written. Don't worry. I'm not keeping everyone in suspense. In these parts Max and Liz meet, and there will be some interaction. Again, let me know what you think.

CATEGORY: M/L, with others blended in. AU. Characters do not belong to me. Aliens do not exist.

I got this idea from just watching previews of "Maid in Manhattan." I haven't seen it yet. So I doubt I'll be stealing anything from the movie. But just in case there are any similarities, it is quite by coincidence.

RATING: PG – PG-15

"In the wake of Reality"

Part 2

“So, Ms. Parker, I see from your application, you have had experience doing waitressing for your family’s restaurant. Please excuse me if I seem to be prying, but may I ask why you’re no longer working there?” Claudia Evans asked.

“I don’t mind your asking. My parents have known for years about my dream of attending college at Harvard to earn my degree in biology. Thankfully, I won a scholarship when I graduated from high school. Unfortunately, Harvard is nowhere near Roswell, New Mexico. So I had no choice but to move out here and find a dorm close to Harvard. But the scholarship doesn’t cover living expenses and other incidentals. I don't want to burden my parents with any more assistance. So I decided I better try to work during my last year. So I find myself in the unfortunate position of trying to find enough work to cover those expenses, just to tie me over through my last year.” Liz hadn’t wanted to have to go into detail, but she thought, ‘What the heck. It’s my last interview for the day. If nothing else, maybe it will help me feel more prepared for any I might have tomorrow.’

Liz had been so lost in thought about what she would do for her next interview, she hadn’t heard Claudia Evans speaking to her. “Excuse me. Ms. Parker?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. What did you say?”

I said, “Can you start tomorrow?”

“What?”

“I said” –

“No, I heard what you said. At least I think I did. You asked me if I can start tomorrow?” she repeated, just to make sure she had heard correctly.

“Yes, Ms. Parker, that was what I said. Will that be a problem?”

“Oh, no, not at all. I’m just….surprised. That’s all.”

“So, can you start tomorrow?”

“Oh, yes, of course. I’m sorry. I’m just so…surprised.”

“Yes, you said that. Although I can’t understand why you would be. Your application is very thorough. And I must say, “You’re one of the most articulate young women I’ve ever met. It’s actually rather refreshing, my dear.”

Liz was so grateful to this elderly woman, it was all she could do to stand up and shake the old woman’s hand several times, without even realizing it.

“I’m glad you’re grateful, my dear, but may I please have my hand back. I’ll need it to get the paperwork ready for your employment.”

“I am so sorry,” Liz said. She couldn’t believe how idiotic she was behaving at this moment.

“That’s quite all right, my dear. Now, let me give you the address where you will need to arrive to begin your employment,” Claudia said, as she began writing the information on a notepad from her desk.

A few minutes later, Liz had an address in her hand and had just walked out of the office of one of the nicest older women she’d ever met. She couldn’t help but think, if she could have a living grandmother, she’d want her to be just like Claudia Evans.

As Liz was catching a bus back to the dorm she shared with her friend Serena, it suddenly occurred to her she’d forgotten to ask the name of her employer. ‘Oh, well,’ she thought, ‘I’ll find that out soon enough. The important thing right now is that I FINALLY got a job. I’ve got to get Serena to celebrate with me,’ she happily thought to herself, as she waited for the next bus at the bus stop.
*****
Liz did not see the twinkle in Claudia’s eyes as she left the room. Even minutes after Liz had left, Claudia was still sitting at the desk in her office, feeling very pleased with herself about the young woman. ‘She will be perfect. Now all I have to do is get Max to notice her,’ she thought. ‘The way Max has been behaving, I’m afraid it’s going to take a lot more than just hiring the right girl. Max is going to have to take some kind of initiative. The question is, how do I help him to do that?’ She didn’t have to dwell on it too much longer.

After the conversation Max had had with his father, he’d promised to look in on his grandmother, Claudia. Phillip loved his mother dearly, but he was up to his ears this day in trying to rearrange his own matters, to allow his son the time they had agreed upon. Of course, Max had no idea the adjustments his father was going to have to make to accommodate his son. So Phillip didn’t feel too bad about having Max take care of a task he himself would have preferred to have taken care of, except for now having to take care of other more pressing matters.
*****
Max was still marveling at the most candid conversation he’d had with his father in years. So when his father had suddenly asked him to pop in and make sure his mother was okay, Max was only too willing to do so. It was the least he could do, since his father had just given him a reprieve from what he felt would have been certain ‘death’ if his father had actually spoken with Tess Harding’s parents about even thinking their daughter would make a good match for his son.

As Max was heading over to his grandmother’s home, he subconsciously glanced at a bus stop that was just down the street from where his grandmother lived. He saw a young woman standing there, apparently waiting for the next bus. Even as he glanced at the young woman, his subconscious mind was affected by her, though, if anyone had asked, he wouldn’t have been able to explain why.

Part 3 – The Chance Meeting ("a" part)

By the time Liz had waited for the bus and then gotten back to her dorm, it was almost dinnertime. She got back just in time to see Serena getting dressed to go out for the evening.

“Liz, you’re back just in time. I’m going out with a friend to the nightclub. You want to join us?”

“You know, I’d love to. I feel like celebrating.”

“Really? You must have gotten a job.”

“I sure did. Of course, my first day is tomorrow. So I want to take advantage of my last free night before I get into a work and school schedule. Let me freshen up, and I’ll be right with you.”

“No problem. Kyle’s coming by to pick me up. I know he’ll be happy to see you’re joining us.”

“Okay. I’ll be right down.”
*****
Fifteen minutes later, Liz was ready and headed down to meet her friends for her last evening hurrah before getting back to school and starting her new job.

“Hey, Liz, I’m really glad you’re joining us tonight,” Kyle said, as he wrapped a friendly arm around Serena. “Let’s get going, shall we?”

So the three friends headed out for an evening of dancing.

(Meanwhile)

After visiting his grandmother for a little while, Max called Michael on his cell phone as he headed home.

“So, you got a reprieve from the ‘Tess’ factor, huh?” Michael said, after Max had told him about the most amazing conversation he’d had with his dad in a long time.

“Yeah, I sure did. And the way I see it, there’s no time like the present to start my mission of looking for my ‘soulmate,’ as my father referred to her.”

“You can’t be serious, Max. What are you going to do, go up to the first chick you see at the club and say, ‘Hey, baby, I’m looking for my soulmate, and you’re it’?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Michael. I’ll at least try to be polite when I cut in on her dance partner.”

“I’m serious, Max. Are you really going to go through with this so-called agreement with your dad?”

“Of course not, Michael. I’m just stringing my dad along until he forgets about our agreement,” Max said. Privately, though, he had every intention of following through, if for no other reason than to keep his agreement with his father. The truth of the matter, though, was that he really did want to find someone he could share his life with, and have the kind of relationship his parents had. One thing he was absolutely certain of, though, was that it WOULD NOT be Tess Harding. Somehow, though, he felt, if he'd expressed his true feelings to Michael, Michael would really think he'd lost his mind. After all, they were both eligible bachelors, and Michael himself had no intention of changing that status any time soon.

He continued talking on his cell phone. “So, Michael, let’s get this show on the road. I’ll drop by and pick you up so we can head over to the nightclub. I want to get this ‘Operation Soulmate’ underway."

“Oh, sorry, buddy. I’m already heading out. I’ll meet you there. And, for the record,
I hope you have a better ‘catch’ phrase than that, Max. You’re going to need it. I’ll see you there.”

“Okay. I’ll see you soon,” Max said, then hung up and changed the direction he was driving.
*****
Serena was taking a breather from dancing and socializing with some of her other friends they'd met at the club. So, even though Liz didn’t really like dancing, especially slow dances – since she felt those should really be reserved for that special someone – Kyle had hounded her until she’d finally agreed to dance with him, just so he’d stop pestering her.

Max and Michael had met at the club just a few minutes earlier, when Michael nudged Max and said, “Tess alert, nine o’clock.”

“Oh, man. Stall her, will you, Michael?”

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll think of something. Just stall her as long as you can,” Max said, as he got up from the counter at the bar and walked in a direction away from where Michael had said Tess was, as though he were heading for the restroom.
*****
Even though Liz and Kyle were good friends, they both started feeling just a little uncomfortable at how slow the ‘slow dance’ was, and both were just about to suggest to each other that maybe they should just sit the rest of the dance out when, out of nowhere, someone tapped Kyle on the shoulder and said, “Mind if I cut in?”

Kyle was so relieved to be interrupted, he gladly responded, “No, man, not at all,” and then quickly went to sit down.

Liz couldn’t imagine who would want to cut in. She hadn’t seen anyone else in the club that she knew. She heard Kyle respond, but she didn’t have a clue as to whom until Kyle walked away, leaving her view clear to see the person. The first thing she saw was soulful amber eyes looking right at her. Before she could even form a word, he pulled her close to him, treating her as though he knew her, just a little two well, as far as she was concerned.

Just as she was about to say so, she heard him begin to whisper something into her ear. The music, though slow, was still pretty loud. So she was not able to hear what he was saying. So she said, “I can’t hear you,” as strongly as she could, to be heard above the music.

The young man leaned in toward her once again and said, “I need your help.” And then he continued, “I’m trying to avoid a young woman who just came in.” And then he again asked, “Will you help me?”

“You know, I’ve heard all kinds of pickup lines, but that is by far the worst one I’ve ever heard,” Liz said, as she began trying to pull away from him.

“No, wait, I’m serious,” he said, as he kept her held tight toward him. “Do you see a blonde girl, about your height, who seems to be stuck on herself?”

As he asked the question, he maneuvered Liz around in their dance so she could see the person he was referring to.

“You mean Tess Harding?”

“You know her?”

“Let’s just say I know who she is. She’s made it clear often enough that I’m too far beneath her to have my existence acknowledged,” she responded. After thinking briefly, she continued, “If that’s who you’re talking about, it’ll be my pleasure to help you.”

“Okay. Just follow my lead,” the young man said.

“Okay. But first, don’t you think it would be a good idea if I at least know your name?” she said. “Whatever you try to tell her or show her will be a lot more believable if I at least know that.”

“You’re right about that. “My name’s Max, Max Evans,” the young man said, as he once again pulled her toward him. “What’s yours?”

“I’m Liz, Liz Parker.”

“Well, Liz Parker, if you would, just follow my lead.”

“Okay. Whatever you say,” Liz responded, as Max once again pulled her closer to him.

The dance lasted only another minute or so. But just as Max and Liz were about to walk off the dance floor, Max saw Tess watching them and then begin to walk toward them.

“Uh-oh. She’s walking this way,” Max said. Just then another slow dance began. Before Tess could get any closer to them, Max led Liz once again back to the dance floor. Again, he pulled Liz into a snug embrace. They both remained silent for a minute or so into the dance, and then Max once again leaned in and spoke in her ear, “I really appreciate your help.”

As he did so, Liz could smell his aftershave and suddenly began feeling just a little shy in this young man’s arms. She even began feeling just a little self-conscious and uncomfortable, though not for the same reason as she had been with Kyle. This time she couldn’t help but think she could get used to being in this young man’s arms, and actually felt herself sigh contentedly as they continued dancing.

As Max had earlier been talking in Liz’s ear, he had noticed the aroma of strawberries and vanilla. He’d smell those same fragrances before, but this was the first time he felt the sensation of tingles going up and down his body. They both remained silent during the rest of the dance, each trying to understand the new feelings they were both experiencing.

After a few more minutes, the dance ended, and they quietly walked off the dance floor, though neither had thought to stop holding hands as they did so. Max had not only lost sight of where Tess had gotten to, but he’d even forgotten she was there. So it was completely unexpected when Tess tapped him on the shoulder.

“Now that you’ve done your pity dance for the evening, why don’t you and I dance together,” she said, as she went to grab Max and pull him away from Liz’s embrace.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Oh, you know, dancing with her kind.”

“I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about, Tess, but I will not have anyone speaking about my girlfriend like that.” The words had come out of Max’s mouth before he’d even realized exactly what he’d said.

“Yeah, right. And the moon is made of green cheese too. I don’t know what you’re trying to pull, Max, but I saw you walk in here with Michael, not her,” she said, hissing out the last word.

“I really don’t care what you think, Tess. My only concern is keeping my girl happy.

“Isn’t that right, sweetie?” Max said, as he looked into the doe-brown eyes of this woman he’d just met, silently pleading with his eyes that she would continue following his lead..

Liz was so mesmerized by the look she was getting from Max, she could only nod in the affirmative. Before Liz could even speak at all, Max again leaned in toward her and whispered in her ear, “Just follow my lead,” to which Liz shy nodded her ‘yes.’

Liz had even less time to react to what happened next. Max said, loud enough for Tess to hear, “I love it that we’re so in sync, especially when we do this,” and he instantly bent down and captured Liz’s lips with his own. Max silently prayed she would continue following his lead, and not pull away in anger and disgust. He knew he was taking a huge gamble, but he hadn’t had time to plan any kind of strategy to keep Tess at arm’s length. So right now he was only going on impulse. And as Max could first taste the flavor of vanilla and strawberries on his lips, something happened that he totally did not expect. He felt a deep moan of desire begin in the pit of his stomach and work its way up into his throat. He found himself reacting rather than taking conscious, thought-out steps. So when he would have time to think back on the meeting later, he would at that time chastise himself royally. But for now, all he could do was respond in a way that seemed so right.

As he continued holding Liz snugly against him, he began silently and gently running his tongue along the outline of Liz’s lips, asking for permission to kiss her more deeply.
*****
Everything was happening so quickly for Liz in this little charade she’d agreed to be a part of. The next thing she knew, this young man she’d just met had begun kissing her. It started out being a gentle kiss, intended for the sake of appearance. But without warning, it became a more intoxicating one. As the kiss was continuing, she felt herself beginning to tingle all over. At that point she could feel Max’s tongue tentatively asking for entrance into her mouth. The silent request followed so naturally in progression to their kiss, without being able to think, Liz spontaneously responded to his request.

At that point, both Max and Liz became wrapped up in a sea of emotions, the most pronounced one being a hunger and craving for one another that neither had ever experienced before. Completely becoming oblivious to their surroundings, the kiss intensified. Both could now feel a yearning being released that made them both ache for more contact. Fortunately, there were others present who could not stand to see the apparent passion these two ‘love birds’ were displaying with one another.

When Max had brushed Tess off with what she thought was some lame excuse about a ‘so-called’ girlfriend, she’d thought he was making it up for some reason, though she wasn’t sure why. But now, as she’d been an eyewitness to the fact that these two had obviously kissed before, she became disgusted at the display before her and had to interrupt the moment any way she could. “Oh, please. Would you two get a room,” she said in a flippant way, before walking away.

Those few words were just enough to bring Max and Liz back to reality. Immediately, the kiss ceased, and the two became conscious of what had just happened between them. Liz could not believe she’d allowed herself to be used by this – this stranger. ‘How dare he?’ she thought to herself.

Fortunately for Max, Tess had been so incensed at the affectionate display, that she had taken off to the restroom rather quickly to ‘lick her wounds.’ Little did Max know, though, that Tess had something up her sleeve to get even with him. For now, though, he had to maintain damage control with the young woman standing before him.


*bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce*
posted on 24-Dec-2002 8:09:54 PM by ravrac
Hi, Everyone:

Sorry I haven't posted sooner. I've been a little distracted, working a couple of part-time jobs. But I needed to clear my head. The best way I seem to do that lately is to write. So here goes. Hope you like it.

CATEGORY: M/L, with others blended in. AU. Characters do not belong to me. Aliens do not exist.

I got this idea from just watching previews of "Maid in Manhattan." I haven't seen it yet. So I doubt I'll be stealing anything from the movie. But just in case there are any similarities, it is quite by coincidence.

RATING: PG – PG-15

"In the wake of Reality"

Part 2B

Liz, more embarrassed by her own lack of emotional control in the arms of this stranger than the fact that it had happened in pubic, was about to launch into a tirade, but Max was a step ahead of her.

“Listen, Liz, I’m so sorry my little charade had to go as far as it did,” he said, as he pulled her gently by an elbow, leading her to a secluded area outside of the nightclub, so he could do a more thorough job of apologizing. But Liz was beside herself at this point, and refused to be consoled.

“Look, MR. EVANS, I don’t appreciate being used, walked on, and having it rubbed in my face. Now, if you will please let go of my arm, I’m going to go back in there and spend some quality time with my friends. I would appreciate it if you would look elsewhere the next time you need to be bailed out of an awkward situation,” she said, as she yanked her arm away from Max’s grasp, and headed back into the nightclub before Max could respond at all.
*****
Though Tess had walked away fuming, she’d returned just in time to hear Liz’s angry comments to Max. ‘So,’ she thought, ‘he was making that whole scene up. Well, now that I’ve seen how he rates with that one, I’m going to repay him for that little deception.’ With that, she followed Max back to the bar, where he was sitting, feeling something that was completely foreign to him, rejection.

Max wasn’t used to women treating him that way. If anything, he was pretty much used to feeling like he was ‘God’s gift to women.’ So he was sitting there at the bar, ‘nursing his wounds,’ from his first experience with this new feeling.

“Oh, what’s the matter, Max? Did your girlfriend dump you?”

Hearing Tess’ voice, Max felt his stomach go into knots. He had to think of something for ‘damage control.’ "No, it’s nothing like that. We just had a little misunderstanding. She’ll be okay once she cools off,” Max casually said, hoping Tess would buy the act.

Of course, Tess knew better, but she was going to play along. It would be perfect for what she had in mind for payback. “Well, in that case, do you mind if I have a drink with you?”

“Knock yourself out,” Max said, as he motioned for her to join him.

As Tess was being served her drink, the bartender said to Max, “Max, there’s a phone call for you.”

“That’s odd,” he said. “Usually, if someone wanted to talk with me, they’d call my cell phone.” Of course, he wasn’t really directing his thoughts to anyone in particular, but Tess said, as if he were, “Well, maybe they couldn’t get through.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s possible. Excuse me, will you, Tess.”

“By all means,” she said, as she sat there, sipping the drink she'd just gotten.

But as soon as Max had walked to the pay phone the bartender directed him to, Tess thought to herself ‘Now’s my chance,’ as she pulled out the medication from her purse that she mainly only used when she was having trouble sleeping. As she discreetly broke up the tablet, she continued thinking to herself ‘Let’s see who’s going to get you out of this jam, Max. I bet your so-called girlfriend won’t lift a finger to help you. Which means, of course, they’ll end up calling me when no one gets you out of this one. I’m going to frame you so well, you won’t have any choice but to marry me when I get through with you,’ she thought in her vindictive little mind.

Immediately after doing that, Max had returned to the counter. Feigning boredom, Tess said, “Well, some my friends are leaving. So I guess I should too. See you around, Max.”

Max had just taken a good swig of his drink and nodded in her direction.

Tess walked off far enough to still keep an eye on him, but far enough away so as not to be asked to help him when he soon passed out. She didn’t have to wait long to see the results of her little payback.

As soon as Max took his drink, he started feeling extremely woozy. Before he could even comprehend what was happening, he passed out. That was Tess’ cue to exit the scene and wait to be called by the bartender to come back and get Max. And then she would proceed with her little scheme of payback.
*****
The bartender had just briefly gone to the other end of the counter and then come back to see if anyone wanted a refill on their drinks. When he came down toward Max, he saw him with his head down on the counter, apparently out cold. ‘Man, the guy didn’t drink that much,’ he thought. ‘Now, what am I going to do,’ he thought. ‘I can’t leave him sitting there unconscious.’ Then he remembered having seen the young man dancing with a pretty, petite brunette on the dance floor earlier. He remembered thinking to himself as he’d watched, ‘Now, there’s a good-looking couple.’ He’d also observed as the two young people had been kissing and remembered thinking, ‘Those two must really be in love.’ Of course, he hadn’t witnessed what had happened afterward; otherwise, he probably would have re-thought what he was about to do.

“Excuse me, Miss, may I speak with you?”

Liz had been sitting comfortably at a table, happily visiting with her two friends, when a young man came up to her. It looked like he worked there at the nightclub. ‘What could he possibly want of me,’ she thought.

“Yes?” she said.

“Your boyfriend passed out at the counter. I can’t leave him there like that. It’s not good for business. Could you please take him home.”

“My boyfriend?” she asked. “What are you talking about? I don’t” –

“The young man you were dancing with earlier. You know, the one you were kissing on the dance floor,” he said, feeling something was just a little off by the way she answered.

As he spoke and mentioned the kiss, Liz felt herself immediately blush. Her friends hadn’t mentioned it earlier. So she’d figured they hadn’t seen it. Now she was going to have to explain. But not ready to do that right now, she promptly got up and followed the bartender back to the counter.

“What was that all about?” Kyle asked.

“I don’t have a clue,” Serena responded. “I guess we’ll just have to ask her later.”

When Liz got to the counter, she definitely saw the young man she’d met earlier, with his head down on the counter, quite unconscious. ‘Oh, man. What am I supposed to do?’ she wondered. To the bartender, she said, “I can’t take him home. I don’t have a car. I came with friends,” she said, hoping that would get her off the hook.

“Oh, I don’t think that will be a problem,” the bartender said. “I noticed he had his keys sitting on the counter. I had someone check to see if he had it outside and, sure enough, he does. So you can just take his car. That way, it won’t get stripped in the parking lot overnight.”

‘That’s just great,’ Liz thought to herself. How am I going to explain this to Serena? Oh, well, I guess I’ll worry about that later.’

“Okay. Let me go tell my friends I’m leaving. Could you help me get him to the car when I get back?” she asked.

“No problem.”

So Liz went over to her friends to let them know she was leaving. “Oh, and, Serena, don’t be alarmed when you get back, but there will be a guy sleeping on the couch,” she said, as she turned around and left.

Kyle and Serena just looked each other, not having a clue what she meant by that.
*****
After Liz was helped to put Max in his car, she drove off, heading home. ‘Of all the rotten things that had to happen,’ she thought. ‘This guy forces himself on me, making out that it’s some sort of a ploy for him to deceive someone he wants nothing to do with. Oh, well. By the looks of this car, I guess it’s possible. He probably has all sorts of girls throwing themselves at his feet. I guess he must come from a wealthy family, what with driving a BMW and all. Must be nice to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth,’ she thought wistfully.

Once Liz got to her apartment, she wondered how in the world she was going to get him in there. After all, she’d needed help just to get him to the car. Finally, she just decided to see if she could get him at least conscious enough to stand on his own two feet.

“Max,” she said, as she turned toward him. When he still didn’t respond, she said it again, louder this time, “Max!”

This time she got at least a little response. “Huh?” he said, groggily.

“Max, I need you to stand up,” she said, as she’d gone to the other side of the car and opened the door.

Again, no response. This time she lightly slapped him, again saying, “Max!”

Even though Max was still, for the most part, unconscious, he definitely felt the burn of the hand on his cheek. When Liz went to slap him again, he caught her hand this time. He groggily got out of the car, but he definitely could not stand up on his own.

So Liz grudgingly put one of his arms around her neck while she put one of her arms around his waist. His body was heavy on hers, but she still managed to slowly get him into her apartment and then made sure to close and lock the door. Once inside, she walked him over to the couch and was about ready to sit him down when Max’s hands went up to Liz’s face. Still obviously not really coherent, he said to her, “Do I know you?”

Though Liz had only met him just a few hours earlier, she was surprised to feel a pang of hurt as he said those words. “No, you don’t know me,” she said, as she pulled him down so he was sitting. But as she tried to walk away, he still rather incoherently grabbed her hand. “Wait. I do know you. We danced earlier.” And then, as if his subconscious mind were trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together, he pulled her closer. “We kissed.”

At those words, Liz again blushed. She honestly hadn’t expected him to remember anything. “Yeah, well, don’t get any ideas. I’m just trying to be a ‘Good Samaritan’ here. So you better behave yourself.” The truth of the matter, though, was that Liz was tempted to kiss him again, if only to reassure herself that the first time, with all its electric sizzle, was just because he was making a scene for someone else to believe.

“Well, can I at least thank you,” he asked.

“No need. Just stay put for the night. That’s all I want from you.”

As she tried to walk away, he was still holding her hand. She turned around to see a strange look in his face. “What?” she asked, wondering what he was thinking.

“Can I at least kiss you again?”

“Why would you want to do that?” she asked. “There’s no one around here to impress.”

When he didn’t respond to her sarcastic remark, but instead seemed to be in a daze, she said, “Oh, well, what the heck.” So she bent down just to give him a peck but, instead, Max pulled her down toward him and took her snugly into his arms and tenderly kissed her. All over again, Liz felt electricity shoot through her. But this time, it wasn’t because of passion or desire. It was a sense of contentment and belonging she’d never experienced before. As she tried to pull away from him to get him to lie down, he seemed to hold her more tightly to him and wouldn’t release her. At that point, of his own volition, he lay down on the sofa, bringing her down with him. It seemed to Liz he actually was unconscious again, because his eyes were closed and his breathing was relaxed. Suddenly, with all that had happened that day, Liz’s own feeling of exhaustion overcame her, and she too quickly fell asleep.

That was the scene that welcomed Serena a couple of hours later, when she returned home. It surprised her to see Liz lying there asleep on the sofa, with a young man, of all things. She’d known Liz for quite a while, and had never known her to have any superficial relationships. She’d always known Liz to be a shy, reserved, one-man woman. She knew Liz had this crazy notion that there was a ‘soulmate’ out there somewhere for her, and happening on this scene, Serena for the first time thought just maybe Liz would be right this time.

She didn’t have the heart to disturb Liz; she looked just too content lying there in this young man’s arms. She did have the presence of mind, though, to go get her camera and take a picture. She was sure Liz would want to have a copy of it. Afterward, she went and got the comforter off of Liz’s bed and lay it over the two ‘love birds,’ and then went to bed herself.

tbc

*bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce*