posted on 20-Dec-2001 12:57:31 PM by Transparent Clear
Ok. Well, I originally posted this part on the old board under "Sad Country Songs". Thank you all who left feedback on it. I wanted to wait to post it here till I got a sequal written, which I have finally gotten. It'll be up shortly. So here's a reminder dose of "Sad Country Songs"

Title: Sad Country Songs
Rating: PG…
CC, but not.
AN: This is just a little “Yay, I feel inspired to write again” experiment. Anyway, I basically got the idea for this when I was (being forced to) listen to sappy country songs by my friends…and I decided to just warp it and adapt it to make myself write. *happy* So here we go, with a happy 1 parter….well, maybe not so happy, but it’s a way to get through things.

~*~

Max climbed the balcony up to Liz’s room. He knew he shouldn’t be here. Her parents would kill him if they found him. And Liz would be shipped off to that boarding school in Vermont before they could even kiss each other goodbye. But he couldn’t make himself stay away. She was his life, the only person he’d ever loved. She was Liz, and he had to be with her.

As soon as he looked over the balcony, he could tell that something was wrong. It just felt empty, like the essence that normally brought it alive was missing. He walked to the window. It was open. Liz never left the window open.

Maybe she was waiting for him. “Liz?” He whispered.

He could see that the bedroom door was shut. He climbed in. And Max was hit by the most terrifying wave of emptiness he’d ever felt. Something was wrong. Something had happened to Liz, and he didn’t think he could fix it.

No! He had to stop thinking like this! He had to find Liz. His eyes quickly scanned the room and landed on her desk.

There was a single piece of paper on it, and Max walked to it slowly. He blinked a couple times, afraid to see what it said. He took a deep breath and read.

“Mom and Dad,
I never thought I’d write a letter like this, but now I feel like I have to. I’m leaving Roswell. I have to.
It’s not that I’m angry about what happened between us in Utah. If anything, I’m ashamed. I behaved completely irresponsibly and let you down. I’m sorry.
But I don’t want you to blame Max for this, for me running way. Because even though I was with him, I made my own decisions. I’m not leaving because you forbade me to see Max. And I’m not leaving because of Max, either.
I’m leaving for me. I need to just be on my own for a while. I know you aren’t going to understand, but I do. I’m sorry for hurting you.
Love, Liz.”


Max felt like his world just crashed out beneath him. He sank to Liz’s bed, crying. She left Roswell? Without even telling him? Oh, God, no… He couldn’t live without her, not again.

He hugged her pillow. It still smelled like her. He held it tighter. God, no, he needed her. They had just barely gotten back together.

He turned over to look at the table beside her bed. It was covered with pictures. Alex, Liz and Maria when they were 10. Then when they were 17. A big group picture of Max, Isabel, Michael, Alex, Maria, and Liz last year during happier times, before Tess. And then in a silver frame, here was a shot of Max and Liz, all cuddled up together. Max picked that one up. They were so close. How had he managed to screw things up so badly?

Max walked back to the desk. The cross her grandmother had given her on her confirmation was sitting there perfectly neatly, like it was waiting to be put on the next morning. There was no way Liz would leave that behind. It had been Claudia’s, and Liz loved it because it always made her feel close to her grandmother. Liz wouldn’t run away without taking that. Or taking at least one picture of her, Alex, and Maria. She’d always want to be reminded of her best friends.

And there was no way she would leave behind her “Property of Roswell Comets” jersey. Max could still remember how much she’d laughed when Kyle had given it to her. Kyle could always make Liz laugh. When was the last time he had done that? He’d always thought he had so many more opportunities to do that, but now—

No! She wasn’t gone. Her closet was still filled with clothes. She couldn’t leave without those. Each one of them meant so much… like the red sweater that Liz had worn that one day when they’d walked down the street just holding hands because they were so happy to just touch each other. That was right after they’d gotten together. Or the black leather jacket that Liz said she always wore because it matched his. Or that little black dress Liz wore to dinner right before everything had fallen apart. She couldn’t leave all that behind.

Max walked into her bathroom. Everything was still there. She couldn’t leave home without taking the shampoo that left her hair smelling like the freshest strawberries. Or the bottle of Calvin Klein Obsession that she always wore for special occasions. He noticed her toothbrush was gone. Max immediately began to rationalize that. It must be time for her to get a new one. That’s where she really was.

Max returned to the bedroom and looked at her chest of drawers. On the top, she had a book laying open to hold her place. Max picked it up. Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas. She was holding on page 157. There was no way Liz could come so far in the book and not finish it.

Below that book was a battered copy of Romeo and Juliet. In the cover Liz had written the words, “Star-crossed lovers… Max and I could teach them a lesson”. He smiled at the words. He needed a reminder that Liz loved him.

Suddenly, Max felt like all the air had left the room. He couldn’t breathe in here anymore. He went back out on to the balcony. He sat down in Liz’s chair and waited. She couldn’t be gone. He couldn’t live if she was gone. He would never accept that Liz had run away. He’d just wait for her to come back, like he knew she would. Or maybe he’d follow her. He knew that he would always be able to find Liz Parker, no matter where she was.

Max curled up into a tight little ball and turned on to his side. He looked at the little table Liz kept out there. His heart started to break.

On top of the table was Liz’s journal. And on top of the journal was the pendant they’d found at Atherton’s ranch, the pendant he’d given her when he’d thought he was leaving the planet, the pendant that told her he would always love her no matter where they were, the pendant that said no matter where they were, Liz Parker’s soul belonged to Max Evans and that Max belonged to Liz, heart, mind and soul. She’d left it behind. She’d truly left, and Max suddenly felt confused as to whether she would ever come back.

Max slid the pendant off the journal, afraid to touch the delicate metal. He was terrified he’d get a flash of even one iota of the pain he’d put Liz through this past year, and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to survive that. He opened the journal to the inside cover.

“Max, these are for you. One, you gave me. The other, you inspired. I’ll always love you. Remember that. But I don’t know when or if I’ll ever be back. I’m sorry. Liz.”

Max’s entire body felt like it’d been destroyed. He could literally feel the aching loneliness setting in as he began to realize that Liz Parker was gone.



And on a bus 200 miles away, heading to nowhere, a newly made redhead with choppy layers falling across her face opened her brand new journal. She uncapped a new pilot pen and wrote,
It’s not 12:01 a.m., a new day. Yesterday I threw everything I honestly need to survive: 3 changes of clothes, the watch Alex bought me for my sweet 16, and all my money into my backpack. I wrote a short not to my parents, and an even shorter note to Max. And then I left.
Today for the first time in my life, I am completely alone. I have no one to take care of, and no one to take care of me. And I have never felt so alive.
Starting today I am going to figure out who exactly Elizabeth Claudia Parker is. I don’t know how long it will take me or even where I will do it, but I feel like I have to do it. I don’t know if I’ll ever return to Roswell. I don’t know if I’ll ever want to. Because right now, I think I’m learning that just because you love someone, that doesn’t mean you give up your soul for them. And maybe someone who really truly loves you back wouldn’t ask you to.



[ edited 2 time(s), last at 2-Jan-2002 2:17:42 PM ]
posted on 25-Dec-2001 2:57:04 AM by Transparent Clear
Part 2... finally! I promised this like days ago, but I was hit by inspiration for a part between the first and what I had originally written for my second. So I've spent every moment free I've had in the past couple days (between last minute shopping and wrapping...and eating), trying to get my ideas down. *happy* I think it turned out okay... *happy*
Don't ask about the title for this part. It worked in my head....
Merry Christmas everyone! And I should have the next part up within the next 2 days!!! (even if I have to beat my brother from the computer within a stick.... )
Jenan

"Punk Rock Prom Queen"

6 months later….

“Liz, order up!”

She smiled, laughing at how many times she had heard that. She’d been serving dinners her entire life.

“What’s that smile for?” The cook, Owen Montgomery, asked as she loaded the plates on to her tray.

“Just remembering.” She smiled.

“Oooh, is the mysterious Liz Parker about to reveal something about her past?”

“Nope.” She walked out of the kitchen and went to drop off the meals to the hungry customers. Liz walked through the elegant restaurant, smiling at various familiar customers. This was completely different from the Crashdown and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Instead of a turquoise dress, she wore classy black pants and a sleek white shirt. Instead of being graced by a pair of antenna, her hair was up simply in a twist.

“Liz, do you want to go out with us tonight?” Maggie O’Neill, another server, asked as they both walked back to the kitchen.

“Where are we going?”

“I was thinking that club on 2nd, where the bartender loves you so much he keeps sending free drinks our way.”

Liz laughed. “I see. Just us?”

“Well, Owen wanted to come and so did Ryan,” her boyfriend. “Kind of like a little party for us for surviving another hellish evening.”

“Sounds great to me. I need a drive to my apartment to change, though.”

“You got it.” Maggie smiled. “What are you going to wear?”

Liz smiled. She had the perfect thing in mind. Something no one had seen yet. “I’ll find something.”

“That skirt?” Maggie referred to a black skirt with a rising hem up the front that Liz liked to wear out a lot.

“Nope.” She grinned. “You’ll just have to wait and see.”

“Is it something I will want to borrow?”

“Undoubtedly.” She laughed.

“Liz, they want you to serve table 6. Party of 8!” The hostess, also known as the perpetually perky Patty, shouted into the kitchen.

“Joys.” Liz sighed and walked out to the tables.

4 hours later, the last table was wiped down and the last dishes were cleaned. Liz and her friends met in the breakroom in the back. It was cramped with 2 couches, a couple chairs, a table, and a row of lockers for the staff. They were all crashed on the couches.

“We ready?” Owen asked as he moved closer to Liz.

Liz tried to act like she didn’t notice Owen moving closer and closer to her. “Yup.”

“Who’s driving who?”

Maggie smiled. “If we aren’t afraid to get close, we can all go in my Honda.”

“Oh, I think we can squeeze together,” Owen smiled. He helped Liz up off the couch and they all walked out to the car.

They took a 20 minute stop at Liz’s apartment, during which time, they all changed in Liz’s small apartment.

“Liz, you need a bigger place!” Maggie insisted. “You ought to come move in with me!”

“Maggie, I can barely afford my rent here, there’s no way I could afford even half of yours.”

Maggie laughed. “You mean, waiting tables doesn’t afford you to live in the life of luxury?”

Everyone changing in various corners laughed at that. “Of course it does!” Ryan laughed.

Liz walked out of her bathroom. “What do you think?” She turned around and asked Maggie about her outfit. She was wearing tight, black leather pants and a tight white slinky tank top.

“Damn, Liz, I could never borrow that. I don’t have the body for that. I’ll dream about that, though.” Maggie laughed.

Liz smiled and hugged her. “Are we ready?”

“Absolutely.” Owen wrapped his arm around Liz’s waist, and they all went to the car.

At the club, there was a huge line of people waiting to get in. Liz and her friends started to wait in it. But the longer they waited, the tighter Owen held on to her, and the more Liz just wanted to run away from him, so she shook his arm from around her and walked to the door, hoping she knew the bouncer, which of course she did.

“Tommy, I need a favor.” She smiled winningly.

“Yes, my darling Liz?”

“Listen, I’m at the end of my line with a guy who really will not leave his hands off me. Is there any way I can move up in line? I just don’t want to deal with him for any longer than I have to.”

“No problem, Liz.” He hugged her. “Save me a dance?”

“Sure, Tommy.” Liz lied. She never danced with the bouncer who wanted her almost as badly as Owen did. “So I can go get my friends?”

“Absolutely.”

Liz dashed to the back of the line and pulled her friends forward.

“This is why I love you, Liz!” Maggie hugged her.

“Do you come to clubs often then?”

“Every night.”

“After work”

“Sure.”

“Why?”

“I love coming to places like this, to dance and just have fun.”

“Have you always done that?”

“What?”

“Gone to clubs?”

“No. Why?”

“I just wonder what your past is like, what you used to do and stuff.”

Maggie took over for Liz. “Owen, there’s something about our dear Elizabeth Parker that you must understand. She has no past. 6 months ago, she came into our favorite restaurant and got herself a job. She has never mentioned anything about anything about her past. We don’t know where she went to school, what she did, anything. For all we know, she was cloned in some mysterious government facility where she was raised by aliens or something. And that is the way Liz likes it.”

“She was so close to almost telling me something today when I gave her table 6’s order. I think she wants to tell us.”

“I think I know what I want to tell everyone, and my name is Liz, thank you very much. Now I think you should all thank me for getting you into this fine establishment by buying me a drink.” Liz smiled.

“You got it.” Owen immediately led to the bar.

“On second thought,” Liz grabbed Maggie, “let’s dance first.” They practically ran to the middle of the dancefloor.

“You can’t stand that guy, can you?”

“It’s not that. It’s just that, I do not want to deal with what we both know he wants.”

“Why not? Liz, unless you have some random life I don’t know about, you live more saintly than a nun! You’re a free young woman! You should be out enjoying yourself! Not living like my75 year old grandmother.”

“Hey, I chose my life, Maggie, and believe it or not, I love my life.” Liz smiled. “I’ll tell you a little secret about my past. I learned the hard way that when you have to live your life around someone else, the only thing that happens is you lose yourself. I will never lose myself again.”

“Not even for love?”

“Nope. Been there, done that. I don’t really think I’ll ever need that again.” Liz turned around to the beat of the music.

Maggie yelled over the music. “What? I know I did not hear you say that. You are way too young to give up on love, Liz. Maybe you just need to find the right guy.”

“I thought I’d found the right guy before, Magg. Maybe there is no right guy.” Liz twisted as a guy came up behind her to dance with her.

“Dance?” He yelled.

“Absolutely.” Liz moved closer to him and lost sight of her friend.

3 hours later, Liz found her friends at the bar. “Can I get a shot of tequila?”

“Liz, there you are. We’ve been looking for you forever,” Owen wrapped his arm around her as she threw back the shot. “Where were you?”

“Dancing.”

“Where?”

“On the dancefloor.” Liz said. She wondered if she was being catty enough for Owen to realize she was not the girl he wanted.

“Very funny, Liz.” A rare song that could be mistaken for a slow song if you really wanted to dance close to someone came on. “Would you like to dance, Liz?”

“Not really.”

Maggie grabbed Owen’s arm away from Liz. “Let’s dance, Owen. We can leave Liz alone for a little while, don’t you think?”

Liz laughed and turned to the bartender. “I need another shot, please.”

“ID?” The guy was obviously new to the bar.

Liz smiled and held hers out to him. Ah, the joys of having alien powers. Her shot came promptly. She drank it immediately and smiled. “Thanks.”

“Care to dance?” A tall, dark guy asked.

She looked up at him for a moment. He looked too familiar. “Sorry, no thanks.”

“Why not?” The man persisted.

“I like blondes.” She tossed her hair over her shoulder and walked away.

The DJ came on over a microphone. “You know, there’s nothing I like more in life than a reformed good little girl. So this song goes out to all of you who are here tonight to let who you really are out.”

Liz couldn’t help herself from going out onto the dancefloor when she recognized the song. There was nothing like dancing to classic Madonna. And for some reason, truer words were never sung…

Come on girls
Do you believe in love?
'Cause I got something to say about it
And it goes something like this

(Chorus*happy* Don't go for second best baby
Put your love to the test
You know, you know, you've got to
Make him express how he feels
And maybe then you'll know your love is real

You don't need diamond rings
Or eighteen karat gold
Fancy cars that go very fast
You know they never last, no, no
What you need is a big strong hand
To lift you to your higher ground
Make you feel like a queen on a throne
Make him love you till you can't come down
[You'll never come down]
(chorus)
Long stem roses are the way to your heart
But he needs to start with your head
Satin sheets are very romantic
What happens when you're not in bed
You deserve the best in life
So if the time isn't right then move on
Second best is never enough
You'll do much better baby on your own
[Baby on your own]
(chorus)
Express yourself
[You've got to make him]
Express himself
Hey, hey, hey, hey
So if you want it right now, make him show you how
Express what he's got, oh baby ready or not

And when you're gone he might regret it
Think about the love he once had
Try to carry on, but he just won't get it
He'll be back on his knees

To express himself
[You've got to make him]
Express himself
Hey hey

What you need is a big strong hand
To lift you to your higher ground
Make you feel like a queen on a throne
Make him love you till you can't come down
[You'll never come down]
(chorus)

Express yourself
[You've got to make him]
Express himself
Hey, hey, hey, hey
So if you want it right now, make him show you how
Express what he's got, oh baby ready or not
Express yourself
[You've got to make him]
So you can respect yourself
Hey, hey
So if you want it right now, then make him show you how
Express what he's got, oh baby ready or not



Liz got home that night at 3:30 a.m. She shimmied out of her leather pants which was a trial considering how much she’d danced that night. She changed into some shorts and climbed out on to the fire escape with her journal. This was the first time she’d written in it since she’d left home.

Journal Entry 2. It’s 3:30 a.m. I’m slightly tipsy. I’m sweaty. I’ve never felt better in my entire life. I keep hearing this Dido song over and over in my head, I am what I am, I do what I want, and I won't let myself hide anymore. I have nothing to hide for. I don't want to ever again.


posted on 2-Jan-2002 2:16:55 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Well, this took longer than I'd expected too, seeing as how I had most of it written when I posted the previous part! But writer's block is a bad thing, and today was the first I felt like I could work on it. Thank you all who have left feedback and thank you all for reading it. *happy* Jenan


Part 3

Journal entry 3. 6 months since I last wrote in it. A year to the day that I left home. So many things have happened to me. I don’t know how to explain it all. All I know is that I am Liz Parker. (Notice the period at the end of that statement. There is no comma to indicate daughter of or girlfriend of. I just am.) After I left, I took the bus to Tennessee. Now you may ask me, why Tennessee? I don’t really know. I just remember seeing a sign when we stopped in Nashville that said, “Not all who wander are lost”, and I decided to get off the bus. I got a little apartment and a job. I work (big surprise here) as a server in a restaurant. I figured why should I lose all that experience?

I’m different now though. I’m not the girl who was so concerned with keeping everyone happy. I take care of myself. I look out for myself. I don’t let anyone get away with trying to step on me. I’m like this girl with total backbone. I think I forgot what it felt like to be this way.

No one here knows anything about my past. As far as they know, I stepped off that bus without a past. They don’t know anything about aliens or Max or even where I’m from. If I have it my way, they’ll never know. My friend Maggie asked me yesterday if I’ve ever been in love. I can honestly say yes. I was in love. Later I asked myself if I was still in love with Max. I don’t know.

When I was in love with Max, I was this totally different person. I mean, I was “innocent” and “pure” and more loyal than a dog. I put him in front of everything else, my family, my friends, my future. I don’t think I’d do that anymore. Because no matter how much I loved a person, I have to take care of myself. If I don’t, who will?

I gotta go to work. I’ll write more later.
~*~



“Hey, Liz,” Maggie turned to her as they waited for their orders to be up. “I know you usually go clubbing tonight but the rest of us are going to my place after work. We’re going to watch movies and play some games till we pass out. We figure we deserve it after the day they put us through here. Wanna come?”

Liz smiled. “Sure. I’d like that a lot.”

“Great.” Maggie hugged her quickly. “I promise we’ll have fun.”

“Can I bum a ride?” Liz smiled winningly. “And probably a place to stay if we really get unconscious.”

“Of course. I still think you need a car.” Maggie had been trying to convince her of that for the better part of 6 months.

“I need money for that, though, Mag.”

She laughed. “You mean, serving the masses of Nashville doesn’t provide you with enough money for a car, food, and rent?”

Liz smiled. Maggie asked that question all the time. She reminded her so much of Maria at times. She wondered what Maria was up to now. Was she still with Michael? Were they all together now? Did they miss her? Liz arrived at the table and shook those thoughts out of her head. That was her past, and that was someplace she did not need to return to. She was free and happy that way. Just because she missed them didn’t mean she wanted to return, so why should she torture herself with thinking about what they were doing and how they all were. She wondered what would happen if she called…

4 hours later, her shift was ending. Maggie was waiting for her in the employee break room with a couple of their co-workers, Ryan, Maggie’s boyfriend and Owen Montgomery, who desperately wanted to hook up with Liz. “They’re coming too. Don’t worry. I’ll keep Owen away from you.” Maggie smiled.

“Thanks, Mag. Every time I think he understands that I can’t be with him, he starts hitting on me again.”

Maggie laughed. “Imagine that. A 22 year old guy hitting on a gorgeous 20-something woman.”

Liz smiled. No one knew she was only 18. She wondered if that would change anything? She doubted it. No one would believe that she was only 18 anyway. All her ID said she was over 21. Her high school records said she’d graduated 3 years before at the top of her class, of course. Alien powers had to be good for something.

Liz always knew she’d had them, well, ever since Ava had told her about them. But in all the time she’d spent with Max and Michael and Isabel, she’d never worked on them. She’d never even brought them up, never thinking they were as important as whatever was going on in the alien’s drama. Liz shook her head at how young she’d been to think like that. Once she left Roswell, she started working on them. She had no idea where she should begin, but the way Tess had made it sound whenever she’d wanted to teach Max something new, you had to concentrate. So Liz had gotten very good at meditation. And now she was nearly as good as Isabel with the whole transfiguration thing. She never lacked for accessories. And she was working on her ability to protect herself now. She’d thought about trying to figure out dream-walking, but she decided that was much too intrusive for her to do.

“Liz, where were you just then? Your eyes looked like you were lost in wonderland.” Owen wrapped his arm around her.

“Not wonderland,” Liz smiled. “Maggie, can we stop at my house for a couple minutes? I just want to change.”

“No problem.”

The 4 of them squeezed into Maggie’s Accord and drove to Liz’s apartment. Liz climbed out of the back seat.

“I’ll be right back.” She dashed up the 3 flights of stairs to her apartment. It was small; barely enough room for one person, but it was just what Liz needed. She went into the bedroom and searched for a comfortable pair of jeans, but when she couldn’t find any, she reached for her favorite pair of Old Navy gray sweats. She’d had them forever and she loved them. She used a little power on them to make sure they were nice and clean and fresh smelling before slipping into them. She then changed out of her formal white shirt that she had to wear to work and into a little white tank top and a long-sleeved t-shirt over it. Then she grabbed a purse and threw her toothbrush and a hairbrush in it and locked her doors.

Liz maneuvered her way back into the backseat. Owen immediately wrapped his arm around her. Liz felt nothing. She sometimes wished that when Owen would touch her that she’d get that little feeling of ‘excitability’ that she used to get way back when Max had first held her hand or wrapped his arm around her. She wanted that kind of experience again, but she hated that even now a year after she had walked away, she was comparing everything in her life to back then. She didn’t want to compare everything to Max. She was tired of it! She loved her life, and she just wanted to enjoy the here and now.

Before they went to Maggie’s apartment, they had to make a crucial stop in a little shopping center featuring both a Blockbuster and a 24-hour liquor store. Maggie and Liz went to Blockbuster while Ryan and Owen headed to the liquor store. They immediately started choosing movies. 15 minutes later, Maggie was carrying “X-Men”, “Legally Blonde” and “The Matrix”. She stood in front of the New Releases trying to decide between Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise. Liz was standing a few feet away, holding a copy of some commemorative from a soap opera called “Days: True Love”. On the cover was a dark haired guy with the most piercing eyes and in his arms was a small blonde who looked like she should be on the Disney channel.

Maggie walked over to her. “What’s going on, Liz? You’ve been out of it all night.”

Liz put the box back on the shelf. She’d gotten distracted. The man on that cover looked like --. She couldn’t think about him. “I know. I’m sorry. Nothing’s going on. I just—“ She decided to be honest. “Tonight’s my anniversary.”

“Of?”

“The night I left home.”

“Liz, you never talk about that place. Do you want to? We can blow the guys off, and just go to my place alone?” Maggie offered.

“No, it’s ok. I want to forget everything about then. I need to.” Liz said quietly. “Listen, don’t mention this to anyone. I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Put a couple drinks in me, and I’ll be great.” She smiled. “Let’s go. I think 3 movies is enough for tonight, don’t you?”

“Sure.” She smiled and roped her arm around Liz’s neck, easy seeing as how she was 4 inches taller. They paid and met the guys at the car.

At Maggie’s apartment, they all sat around on the couches or floor and put in the first movie. “Legally Blonde” started moments later.

“So what shall we play first?” Owen smiled.

“Dude,” Ryan said, “I need to get drunk. Let’s chose a word.”

Maggie looked over at Liz. “Liz, you chose it. What word?”

She thought for a moment. “Love.”

“Okay. We all know the rules, right?” Every time someone uses the word love, you took a shot. “Then let’s play.”

Liz found herself unable to get into the movie or the game. All she could do was think about her past. By the third round, Liz had completely stopped playing. She curled up in the far corner of the couch and allowed herself to get caught in all the memories of nights she’d spent like this when she was younger. It was always Liz, Maria, and Alex, having movie nights with lots of ice cream and popcorn. Those were always the best times. Liz couldn’t believe how long it had been since they’d done that. She hated knowing that she would never be able to do it again. She’d never have that kind of fun again. Alex was gone, a pawn in this game of aliens. And she had run away, trying to find herself. God only knew what had happened to Maria. She knew though that even if they were all back there together, there was no way they could have such an innocent night ever again. They knew too much, they’d experienced too much to ever be innocent again. Liz could feel the tears pouring down her cheeks realizing that.

Liz hurried into the bathroom and ran the water to hide the sound of her crying. In the year that she had been gone, never once had she taken the time to really think about all she’d lost and all she’d never find again. Just because she had re-found herself didn’t mean that she could figure everything out again. It didn’t mean that everything in her life would get fixed. All it meant was that she’d be true to who she was and what she wanted now.

She walked out of the bathroom with a dry face and slid over to where Maggie was lying. “Magi?”

“Liz, are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Listen, tonight wasn’t a good idea. I’m just not in the mood to be with people. I think I’m going to walk home.”

“Liz, it’s after midnight!”

“It’s only 4 blocks, Mag. I’ll be fine.”

“It’s the middle of the night and God only knows what could happen to you if you were walking alone. Let someone drive you.”

“You guys are too drunk to drive, and I’m too tipsy to drive. I’ll be fine, Magi.”

Owen stood up. “I’ll walk you, Liz. I’ve only had a few shots. I can handle making it there and back.”

“No, Owen, you don’t have to!”

“It’s settled. Owen is walking you home,” Maggie said. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

Owen and Liz left Maggie’s apartment building and started walking toward Liz’s. “Thanks for volunteering, Owen. I appreciate it.”

“But?” He smiled.

“I would have been fine.” Liz said.

“Right.” Owen paused. “You know, I probably have no right to say this, but I will anyway, and tomorrow we can just blame it on tequila. You don’t always have to be alone, Liz Parker.”

“Owen—“

“No, Liz. I want to say this. I have been chasing after you from the day you got here. And you’ve always turned me down, which I can understand. I figured there was something you were running from back in your hometown or wherever you came from, but you’ll never tell us. You don’t always have to be such a mystery, Liz. You don’t always have to hide behind that mask. You need to just let that go.”

“Just let it go?” Liz whispered.

“Yes.”

“I don’t know how to do that, Owen. I’ve tried for the past year, but I haven’t figured that out yet.” She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. “Do you want to know why I really had to get out of there tonight?”

“I do, but only if you want to tell me.”

She paused. “Tonight is my anniversary. One year ago today, I wrote notes to my parents and my boyfriend, and I got on a bus bound for nowhere.”

“Why?”

“There was a lot of stuff happening in my life. My best friend had been killed a couple months before. My relationship with my boyfriend was just incredibly odd. I felt like I’d lost everything in the world, most importantly myself, and I had to get out of the small town I’d lived in my entire life and find something more.”

“So why did you chose Nashville? I mean, most of us come here to be musicians or something.”

“I was on a bus. Honestly, I think I was taking the long way to New York. But we stopped and there was a huge billboard set up that said ‘Not all who wander are lost’. And I realized that that billboard was the new story to my life. So I got off the bus and moved to Nashville.”

“So this was a year ago? Have you talked to anyone back there since?”

“Nope. I haven’t talked to anyone since I left. And until now, I haven’t told anyone about my past, and you barely know any of it.”

“Tell me the basic story then, Liz. I want to know.”

“Okay. I was in love. My whole world changed because I was in love with the most incredible man. He saved my life and then he taught me to live. But something always came between us. And that last time what came between us was too much. I couldn’t stay there, playing the supportive girlfriend anymore… it was too hard.”

“So you ran away?”

“Right.”

“And you haven’t talked to your parents or your best friend since?”

“No.”

“God, Liz, you owe it to yourself to call them. You ran away to find yourself. That doesn’t mean they can’t be in your life. Or that you can’t share yourself with them. They’re the people you ought to show this new old self to. They’re the ones who’ve missed you most, I’d say.” They stood outside Liz’s apartment building.

“Thank you, Owen. I really need to think about all this now.” She smiled.

“No problem, Liz. I’ll see you at work tomorrow night, right?”

“Definitely. Are you okay to walk back by yourself?”

“Sure.” He kissed her cheek and waited until she got into her apartment building.

She climbed up to her apartment and locked the door behind her. Then she climbed out onto the fire escape. Looking up at the stars, she started crying. Here she was, Liz Parker, free, happy, alone. And all she could do was wonder about her past. All she could think about was what Maria was doing, what her parents were doing, whether they missed her… if Max had found his son. She reached in the window and picked up her cordless phone. She took a couple deep breaths and then dialed *67 and her old phone number. It had been a year, and that wasn’t fair to her parents, but at the same time, she couldn’t risk them finding out where she was. She may want to talk to them, but that didn’t mean she wanted to go home.

She got sent to their voice mail. She didn’t even know they had voice mail. “You’ve reached Jeff and Nancy Parker. We’re not available to take your call right now, leave a message and we’ll get back to you. Liz, if that’s you, we love you!” She started crying when she heard that message. BEEP!

“Mom, Dad, I’m so sorry for just leaving. I love you, too. I don’t know why I’m calling. I guess just to let you know I’m all right and safe. And I’m sorry. I love you.” She hung up as the tears started to fall.

She needed to make one more call. She had to; she’d hurt her enough in the past year. *67-1-246-555-5683. It rang 4 times, then “Hey, this is Maria. I’m not in. Leave a message.” BEEP! Liz wondered where she could be at 2 a.m. her time.

“Maria,” she struggled to control her voice, “it’s me. I bet you’re not even speaking to me. I deserve that, but please listen to this message.

I’m sorry for leaving like I did, without even saying goodbye. Somehow, through all the drama of the past couple years, I lost myself, and I needed to find her again. You probably don’t understand that feeling; I mean, Maria DeLuca would never lose who she is to circumstances. I did, and running away was the only way to find who Liz Parker is. But that didn’t mean that I couldn’t call you or write you a note at least to try to explain that or to say goodbye.

I miss you. All of you. Lately I haven’t been able to get any of you out of my head. Everything that happens reminds me of at least one of you. I know the easy answer would be to come home, but I can’t. I don’t think I’m strong enough to go through all that again.

I have an apartment here. It’s small and cozy, but I like it. I have a fire escape and I sit out on it every night, remembering. I need to stop doing that. How can I really move on when I wonder if Max and I are looking at the same stars? I love him, Maria. I made so many stupid decisions for that love and I don’t think we could ever really be together, but I still love him. I sometimes wonder how I’m supposed to move on when I still love him. But I have to. I have to move on! I have in so many ways… Maybe not enough though.

I don’t know why I called, and I really don’t know why I’m sitting here rambling to your answering machine. It’s not like you can answer me or talk back or anything…Maybe it’s safer that way. I’m not sure I could handle a Maria DeLuca talking to. I’d better go. I have to work in the morning, and it’s late.

I love you, Maria. I’m sorry I’m not a good friend to you. You deserved better.”

Just as Liz was about to hang up the phone, Maria’s voice came over the line, “WAIT! Liz, please, don’t hang up!”

Liz put the phone back to her ear. “Maria?” She whispered.

“Liz, please talk to me! I’ve missed you so much. Where are you?”

“I’m okay, Maria. I can’t tell you where I am.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know if I want to come home.”

“Oh.” She said dully.

“I’m sorry. That’s not what you wanted to hear, was it?”

“NO. I want my best friend to come home!”

“I know. I’m just not sure that I can.”

“Why not?”

“Everything. I mean, there are so many things different about my life now.”

“Like?”

“Well, I’ve got a job and an apartment and I’m free. I’ve never felt this way before, Maria.”

“But you said yourself that you missed us, that you can’t stop thinking about us. Isn’t that a sign that you should come home?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think I could survive going through all that again, Maria. I mean, it destroyed me the first time. To be thrown back into the alien mess now, I don’t know what would happen to me.”

“You know Max still loves you, right?”

“I do. And I still love him. The thing is, I don’t think our love is enough. Not when I always would feel like I’m the one giving everything for him, and that he doesn’t give anything up for me. I mean, I was willing to help him find the child he had with my biggest enemy in the world, the girl who killed my best friend, Maria. He wasn’t even willing to really find out why I had pretended to sleep with Kyle. It was like he didn’t care. I’m afraid if I was with him again, I’d become some bitter old woman too young because I always gave and never got.”

“Liz, you don’t know that.”

“No, I don’t. But it’s possible.” She paused, not sure if she really wanted to know the answer to that question. “Has he found his son yet?”

Maria paused. “No.”

“I’m sorry.” Change of subject. “How are you and Michael?”

“Okay. We’re still together. It’s hard to believe that, huh?”

Liz smiled. Who would have thought that those two would have the healthiest relationship of all? “Naah. I knew you’d be able to work it out. You’re you, Maria. You don’t let anything defeat you.”

“Sure I do,” she whispered. “I’m still in Roswell. I swore I would get out of here once I graduated. I’m still working at the Crashdown. I’m still living with my mother. And contrary to what you believe, I lost a lot of myself, too, in all of this.”

Liz sighed. They’d both been affected apparently. “Do you want to run away too?”

“No. I can’t do that, Liz. I’m sorry, but that’s the easy way out. I have to fight here.”

Liz flinched at that comment, knowing it was the truth. She took the easy way out. She ran to get free, rather than fight for it. Maybe she was the coward in this situation, after all. But she couldn’t change the past now, anyway. She had made her choices and she was living with them. “Like I said, you always were stronger.”

“No, I’m not, Liz. You got away from all of this, even if it was by running away. That took strength. I’m still here, pretending that I’m strong because I could handle all of this. I’m the weak one because I couldn’t even take the chance of running away to find something new.”

Liz smiled. “I guess maybe we’re just the same, going about it in two different ways, huh?”

“I guess.” She said slowly. “Have you called your parents, Liz?”

“Yeah. I just tried before I called you. I got sent to their voice mail, so I guess they’ve already gone to bed.”

“Actually, they’re gone to look for you. For some reason, they got it in their heads that you were in New York City so they’ve gone to look for you there.”

“What?” Liz’s heart started breaking. Her parents were carrying on wild goose chases looking for her?

“Yeah. A bus driver told them he saw you on his bus headed for New York so they started following those clues. Are you in New York?”

“No. I planned on going there, but I didn’t quite make it.”

Maria tried again. “Where are you then?”

“I’m safe and happy, babe, and that’s all you’re going to get out of me.”

She sighed. “When we hang up this phone, are you ever going to call me again?” Liz thought for a moment. “Whoa, babe, I do not like this pausing thing.”

“Maria, I would love to talk to you every day, but I’m afraid to. What would happen to me? Would I become this girl living for a connection to her past? I don’t want that.”

“So you don’t want to talk to me?”

“I didn’t say that! I just need you to know that I’m not the same person I was back then and that I have a life here. You are my best friend and I want to talk to you all the time, as long as you know I am settled here. I need you to accept that.”

It was Maria’s turn to think. “I’ll try.”

“Thank you.” She changed the subject. “So how’s Isabel?”

“Well, she’s married.”

“What?” Liz exclaimed.

“She married Jesse Ramirez, her father’s associate last year, a couple months after you left.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. I mean, what about Alex?”

“She had to move on, Liz. We all did.”

She knew that was the truth. “What about Max? You said he hadn’t found his son, why not?”

“Liz, I think that’s something Max ought to tell you.”

“Maria, I can’t call him.” Her voice cracked.

“I understand,” she said quietly. “You know I love you, right?”

“Yes. And I love you, too.” Liz wondered what was going on; something sounded different.

“Then hold on one sec, okay?”

Liz waited for a minute in silence, hoping she was doing the right thing by calling Maria.

“Liz?”

The voice on the other end of the phone had tears flowing down Liz’s cheeks before she could even think about stopping them. “Max?” She whispered.

~*~