posted on 1-Feb-2002 12:59:18 AM by McGees
Title: Never Let You Down
Author: Kate
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. This story starts in the summer of 2002, so anything that actually occurs on the show past A Tale of Two Parties is unrelated.
Summary: What starts as a summer road trip changes multiple lives...for better, for worse, forever.
Category: Max and Liz, but I'm not opposed to including other couples as well
Rating: PG - NC17

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1
Max Evans quickly scanned the late afternoon crowd at the Crashdown Café, his gaze finally settling on what he was looking for.

Liz Parker's eyes lit up from where she stood, wiping down the counter across the café. She sent Max a bright grin as he weaved his way through the tables followed by his friend, Michael Guerin.

"Hey." Liz accepted Max's quick peck on the cheek as he slid onto a stool at the counter across from her. "Tomorrow," she said excitedly, leaning closer toward the boys.

"Road trip, baby!" Michael crowed, drumming his hands on the edge of the counter.

Maria DeLuca emerged from the kitchen with a hot pot of coffee and a look directed at Michael. "You better have a menu figured out, Spaceboy, because I'm not eating pork and beans for a week and a half."

Michael made a face at his on-again, off-again girlfriend as she swooped out to her tables. "Good to see you, too, Blondie," he muttered.

Liz smiled at her best friend's dramatics. "She makes a good point, Michael. I mean, we're looking at ten days in a camper with six people. The air will be a little stuffy as it is."

"It's taken care of," Max assured. "We just finished at the grocery store, and we found lots of good stuff."

Liz's eyes narrowed. "How many?"

Max looked at her innocently, but then sighed. "Twenty six," he admitted.

"Twenty six bottles of Tabasco sauce," Liz repeated, shaking her head. "Sounds like Maria just lost more luggage space."

Michael shrugged. "Eh. That's Jesse's problem to deal with."

Liz supposed that was true. After all, they'd divided different essentials for the trip amongst themselves. Liz had arranged to borrow the camper from her uncle, Max had kept track of the finances, Maria had mapped out the route, and Michael was responsible for food. Jesse Ramirez was to ensure all necessary supplies made their way into into the camper, and Isabel Evans-Ramirez had appointed herself the official tour guide. From landmarks along the way to the Grand Canyon itself, Isabel knew Roswell, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona, and everywhere in between.

Max couldn't help but smile at his sister's enthusiasm, remembering when they were kids and took a family trip to Disney World. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was closed for repairs, and Isabel's entire theme-park-plan-of-attack was destroyed. This road trip with their friends was giving her another chance to play tour guide.

As if on cue, Isabel swept into the Crashdown with an armful of brochures and a flustered Jesse trailing behind her and hopped onto a stool at the counter.

"Did you know there are some amazing volcano craters just north of Flagstaff with real lava formations," she announced to whoever was closest to her.

That person happened to be Michael, who had suddenly taken up a keen interest in the metal napkin holder in front of him and merely grunted.

Liz, however, perked at Isabel's announcement. "Really? I think we learned about that in our geology unit. Remember, Max, in Bio junior year."

Max arched an eyebrow at her. "Okay," he shrugged.

She couldn't help but grin. Being lab partners certainly hadn't hindered their growing relationship, but it didn't do much for their grade. Luckily for them, Liz was a born scientist and Max was more than willing to be tutored.

"We just happened to run across an article in a travel magazine at the library," Isabel was continuing, smoothing a glossy paper on the counter.

"Isn't it, like, illegal to remove stuff from the library's magazines?" Maria mused, joining them at the counter.

"Pish posh," Isabel dismissed primly. "Duplicated with a simple wave of the hand. Anyway, I also found a-"

"So 8 o'clock AM out back, right guys?" Jesse spoke up, cutting off an indignant Isabel and gently shuffling the papers out of her hands.

"8 o'clock sharp," Michael emphasized, looking directly at Maria.

"Oh, cool it, Spaceboy," Maria shot back. "Me and my bags will be on my front porch at 7:50. Don't keep me waiting."

Max and Liz shared an amused smile as she leaned over the counter and placed a lingering kiss on his lips. "I have to get back to work," she whispered, her nose wrinkling.

"I'll see you tonight," Max said quietly, his dark eyes gleaming as they followed Liz around the counter. Suddenly a blush crept onto her cheeks and she sent Max a mock glare over her shoulder, firmly tugging on the back of her uniform's short skirt. Sometimes Max enjoyed their open connection a little too much.

*****

"Hey gorgeous."

Startled, Liz whirled around from her closet to face Max as he climbed in through the open window. "Max, hi!"

Max tugged the handful of t-shirts from Liz and tossed them into the open duffel bag on the floor before grabbing her around the waist and fusing his lips to hers.

She moaned against his urgent exploration of her mouth and ran her hands along his muscular forearms until he finally pulled away, leaving them both breathless. "I've been thinking about that all day," he explained simply.

Liz grinned. "Mmm…and just think, after tonight we've got ten days straight of being together. Lying in each other's arms all night," she added, shivering at the delicious thought.

Max smiled back, rubbing his hands along the goosebumps on her upper arms. "When we set up the tent, anyway."

Giggling, Liz sat Max down on her bed and draped herself into his lap. "Right. Privacy." She absently began tracing her fingers on his thigh, just above his knee. "Just you and me, under the stars." She glanced up at him through the fringe of her eyelashes. "It will be perfect."

Max responded with a long, deep kiss before lying back on the bed with Liz. "As long as my neurotic tour guide of a sister gives us some free time," he said wryly.

"And Michael and Maria don't fight each other over the edge of the canyon," Liz added with a laugh as she snuggled up against Max.

"I think Jesse gets to act as keeper for all of them," Max decided, placing a kiss just below Liz's ear and working his way down her jaw to her neck.

Liz shivered with pleasure as Max's tongue explored the hollow of her throat. The quiet moan she elicited vibrated against Max's mouth, and he eagerly pulled her closer to him.

"Max…" she sighed reluctantly. "We can't…my dad is right down the hall…and I have to finish packing…" Liz's words were broken by Max's insistent lips against hers. "And you're driving first in the morning…"

Max rolled over onto his back, pulling Liz across his chest. "I think maybe I should just stay up all night then," he reasoned, tucking a strand of hair that had strayed from Liz's ponytail behind her ear.

"Nice try." Liz pecked the tip of his nose, wriggling off of him and to her feet.

Max sighed grudgingly, his eyes following her as she returned to her bag. Her little blue tank top hugged her curves in all the right places, and the gray shorts she wore showed off her shapely, tanned legs in a way that made Max absolutely crazy. Max loved her legs. Well, he loved every part of Liz, from the dimple in her left cheek to the tiny mole on her lower back to…

Calm down, Max. He shook his head, trying to clear his mind of all the places he wanted to touch her right at that moment. He turned his gaze to her cluttered bedside table and caught sight of a small, round container.

"Liz?" he ventured, picking up the case and turning it over in his hands. "You haven't mentioned any headaches lately. Has it gotten better since you switched?"

Liz glanced up and saw that Max was studying her new birth control prescription. "Completely," she assured. "The pharmacist said it's normal for different people to have different hormonal reactions."

"Okay," he said, sounding considerably brighter. She could tell he had been concerned; concerned that it was his fault she had side effects from the first brand, that their making love was hurting her because he wasn't, well, quite like other guys.

"Max." Liz made her way back to the bed, sitting down beside him and taking the case from his hands. She linked her fingers with his and looked deep into his serious eyes. "I love when we make love." And it was true. In the six months since they first took their love and commitment to the most intimate of levels, Liz had never felt more complete. Their souls had belonged to one another since the day he healed her at the Crashdown, but there was no doubt that their bodies had been made for each other as well. Together, they were complete.

Liz's feelings flowed through their open connection, and a pleased glow settled throughout Max. He kissed her deeply and then got to his feet. "I'll see you in the morning, love."

*****

"Sweetheart, what are you still doing up?" Jesse came up behind Isabel at the kitchen table, sliding his arms around her.

Isabel smiled, but didn't look up from the maps spread out before her. She chewed thoughtfully on her pen cap and said, "I can't decide if we should make the jog north into Colorado or not."

"Izzy-"

"Because the more I look into it the more I really think we should see Mesa Verde National Park. The ruins sound absolutely amazing, with these palaces built into cliffs, and an ancient tribal sundial…"

Jesse stifled a yawn. "It sounds great, sweetheart. Why don't you come to bed now."

"But the problem," Isabel continued, "Is that we'd have to change our route, and we wouldn't have as much time to check out the historical park near the Continental Divide…"

Resting his chin on her shoulder, Jesse squinted at the large map Isabel had unfolded. "I don't think anyone will mind," he said honestly. "Besides, this way we can go to the Four Corners."

Isabel looked up at her husband, her tired eyes brightening. "You sound excited about that."

Jesse shrugged. "Well, I guess so. I mean, it's been a long time since I've been there. My mom took me there a couple times when I was a kid, and it was always a big deal." He smiled at the memory. "I thought it was so cool that part of me could be in four different states at one time."

"Then it's settled." Isabel kissed his cheek. "We'll change it around. I just have to-"

"Come to bed with me," Jesse finished for her, grabbing the pen from her fingertips.

"Go on ahead without me, honey, I'll be in in a little bit."

"That's what you said three hours ago," Jesse sighed, his breath tickling her ear. "I was lonely without you."

"I promise, it'll be just a few minutes." Isabel's wide brown eyes did nothing to curb Jesse's desire to lift his wife into his arms and take her to bed, but he resisted, seeing her determination.

"Izzy, relax. We're going to have lots of fun on this trip."

Isabel bit her lip, turning all the way around in her chair and facing her husband. "I want you to have fun," she said emphatically.

"What makes you think I wouldn't?"

"I just want to make it worth your while to take all this time off from the firm-"

"I had vacation time coming," Jesse reminded her.

"- And to take a road trip with a bunch of college kids," she finished quietly.

Jesse smiled gently. "One of whom is my wife. Besides, Iz, they're my friends, too. The age difference doesn't matter much. I always wanted to take a road trip when I was in college, I just never had the time."

"Really?" Isabel draped her arms around Jesse's neck.

"Absolutely," he assured. "And I can't think of a better group of people to go with. Between the six of us, there won't be a dull moment."

Isabel grinned. "Oh, I've made sure of that." She gestured to her clutter of research and quickly organized it with a wave of her hand. "Let's go, Mr. Ramirez, take your over-worked wife to bed."

"Gladly." Jesse swooped her off her feet, laughing at her squeal of surprise, and carried her back to their bedroom.

*****

2

“Twenty six?!”

Liz exchanged a grin with Jesse as they heard the high pitched yelp of disbelief outside. “Sounds like Maria found the Tabasco,” she commented, hauling several duffel bags to the back of the RV. She paused, and sure enough, moments later came, “Way to go, Michael. Where the hell am I supposed to put my aromatherapy?”

“We’re going to hear about this the entire trip, aren’t we?” Jesse asked with a wry smile, lifting a box of food supplies into the small refrigerator.

“You know it.”

Jesse good-naturedly rolled his eyes. “Between my wife and your best friend…”

“Jesse! Liz!” Isabel poked her head into the camper, a look of business on her face. “Let’s get going on these groceries, shall we?”

“Yes, dear,” Jesse mumbled under his breath.

Liz shook her head in amusement as she watched Jesse dutifully make his way out of the camper. Following him outside to the alley behind the Crashdown, she nearly tripped over Maria’s box of aromatherapy supplies.

“Um, Maria?” She ventured, scooping up the box. “I’m not sure we’re gonna have enough room for this stuff. Why don’t you just leave it in my room while we’re gone.”

Maria’s eyebrows furrowed. “That’s a touching offer, Liz. But I’m going to need to stay relaxed or I’ll end up with a nervous breakdown on my hands. And nobody wants that.”

“You can say that again,” Michael muttered, passing the girls with a box of dry cereals and baked beans.

Liz pulled Maria toward the back door of the café before she could respond, passing Max as he dragged another one of Maria’s bags from the backseat of his car. With his free arm he grabbed Liz around the waist and pecked her cheek. “Are you girls almost ready?” he asked.

“We’ll be right out,” Liz promised. “Maria’s going to leave…some of her stuff here.”

“Not nearly enough,” Max responded, arching his eyebrow at Maria. “What in the world do you have in here?”

“Sedatives, Max,” she shot back. “Lots and lots of sedatives. Because it’s the only way I’ll survive the-“

“Okay,” Liz grabbed Maria’s arm and they made their way inside and up the stairs. “Maria, what’s going on with you and Michael now?”

“What makes you think it’s got anything to do with Michael?” Maria asked indignantly. The look Liz gave her made Maria sigh. “Yeah, okay, he’s just making me crazy is all. I mean, let’s think about this. We decided that after graduation, we’d just do the friends thing. Nothing more. You know, to give each other some space before college.”

Liz nodded, settling Maria’s box on her bed, and waited for her to continue. Which she did.

“Okay, so then why did he get so pissed off when I mentioned going to Julia’s graduation party with Steve Conner last weekend? It wasn’t a date, but I should be free to see other guys if I want to, right?” She sighed, pulling several vials from the box. “And now I’m going on a ten day road trip with him.”

“And four of your other closest friends,” Liz encouraged, giving Maria’s shoulders a squeeze. “Maria, don’t you dare tell me you’re getting seconds thoughts about coming.”

“On one condition.” Maria arched an eyebrow. “I get to bring my rose and cypress oils with me.”

“Right, fine. Let’s go.” Liz led Maria out of her room and almost ran right into her father. “Dad, hey, we’re just about to head out.”

Jeff Parker smiled at his only daughter. “So I’ve heard. Isabel sent me to find you two.”

The three made their way down the stairs and out the back door. Max and Michael were standing around watching as Isabel fervently double checked the list of supplies and Jesse reassured her everything had made its way into the RV.

“Except for,” Isabel glanced up to see the two girls. “Us! Let’s head em up and move em out!”

“Yee-haw!” Michael cheered sarcastically.

“Hold on, guys,” Liz said suddenly, ducking into the camper for a moment and reappearing with a camera. “We need a ‘before’ shot. Dad, do you mind?” She handed him the camera and shooed the group to stand before the RV.

“Say ‘cheeseburger’,” Jeff said. He snapped the shot; Jesse with his arm looped around a distracted-looking Isabel, Max standing behind Liz with his arms draped loosely around her waist as she leaned against him with a goofy smile, and Michael and Maria, keeping their distance from one another. Maria stood rigidly at one end with an exaggerated smile plastered across her face, while he stood at the other end leaning against the RV with a typical non-committal Michael look.

“Good idea, Liz,” Isabel commended. “Now let’s get going, it’s almost eight-thirty and we need to get to Albuquerque by lunchtime.”

“Sounds like you’re on a tight schedule,” Jeff said, an amused smile twitching across his lips.

Maria rolled her eyes. “Something like that. See you in a week and a half, Mr. Parker! Good luck running the Crashdown without us.”

“I’ll try to manage,” he said as he embraced Liz into a tight hug. “Drive safely, honey.”

“We’ll be fine, Dad,” she assured. “Give Mom a hug for me, too, when she gets back from Houston.”

“I will,” he said. “It sounds like she’ll need it after this conference.” He grinned at his daughter. “Have fun.”

Max approached slowly, offering a handshake. “Take care, Mr. Parker,” he said.

Jeff accepted and pumped his hand firmly. “You too, Max, have a good time.” Wonderful, an open invitation to my daughter, he thought wryly.

Liz watched this exchange with a smile. Her two favorite men in the entire world, and they’d been getting along ever since her father made his New Year’s Resolution that year, to give second chances. And Max had been extra careful not to take advantage of that.

After goodbyes and one final check of supplies, everyone climbed into the RV with Max behind the wheel and Liz crawling into the front seat beside him. “Are we ready to roll?” Max asked.

A bag of potato chips clipped the back of his head. “Just drive, Maxwell,” Michael called from the back of the RV.

“Aye aye,” Max muttered, turning to Liz as he snapped on his sunglasses and flashed her a grin.

Giggling, Liz said, “Just drive, Max.”

*****

Liz rested her head against the window, gazing out as the desert landscape raced by them and slowly became more urban. Sure enough, before long the buildings of downtown Albuquerque loomed in the distance. It was a strange sight to behold – rising up from the scrubby desert, a modern oasis.

“Landmark number one,” Max said wryly over the sound of Lenny Kravitz coming from the stereo in back.

“Yay!” Liz clapped her hands together and leaned back lazily in her seat, propping her bare feet up on the dashboard.

Max couldn’t help stealing a glance at his girlfriend’s legs, bare except for where her denim cutoffs rode up to the tops of her thighs.

“Eyes on the road, Max Evans,” Liz teased, still staring out the window.

Sighing, Max slid his sunglasses back up. “So many distractions.”

“Max!”

“Jesus, Iz,” he muttered, jumping at her shrill voice. “What?”

“You missed our exit!” she exclaimed, poking her head in from the back of the RV.

Max frowned slightly. “Uh…no, I didn’t.”

“Yes, Max, you did,” Isabel sighed. “We were supposed to get off at ramp 220. Which we just flew by.”

He thought quickly. “Change of plans, Izzy. I thought we could have lunch at that park on the UNM campus.”

“Max –“

“I know where I’m going, we drove up here for a tour last winter. Besides, I’m sure Maria would like the wander around her campus again. Right Maria?” he called back.

Liz placed her hand on his arm. “Um, Max…”

“Fine, fine,” Isabel interrupted, heading back into the RV. “But don’t get us lost.”

Max made a face at Liz. “So many distractions,” he grumbled again.

*****

Isabel seemed to loosen up considerably by the time Max maneuvered them downtown and they all had settled on a patch of grass at the park for lunch. She was even laughing as Michael and Jesse tossed grapes into the air and attempted to catch them in their mouths. Somehow her husband only managed to get hit in the chin, nose, or forehead with the green fruit, and Isabel couldn’t help but wonder if his competition had anything to do with it.

Max and Liz were relaxing nearby, Max propped up on one side with Liz leaning against his torso while his hand weaved through her dark hair. And Maria was sitting against a tree, regarding everyone with a bored expression.

“Come on,” she said finally. “This is a road trip. Let’s get the hell out of New Mexico already.”

“I hope you’re not tired of the campus already, Maria, because you’re gonna see an awful lot of it in about two months,” Jesse remarked, popping a grape into his wife’s mouth as he pulled Isabel to her feet.

“Right,” Maria said quickly, scrambling to stand. Liz sent her an uncomfortable glance, which she ignored, and began struggling with a large red cooler.

Michael reached to take it from her. “Here, I’ll get it.”

“I’ve got it, Spaceboy,” Maria snapped. “Geez, since when are you a gentleman?” She rolled her eyes, realizing just how much that cypress oil would come in handy.

Staring after her, Michael tried to hide his hurt expression. “Whatever,” he muttered darkly, following her to the RV.

Leaning over to Liz, Max said quietly, “I give it to the state line.”

“Until what?”

“Until they’re all over each other.”

*****

“Where’s Liz?” Maria asked, stifling a yawn as she and Isabel returned from the bathrooms located a short walk from where they’d camped out for the night in the Santa Fe National Forest. It had been a long day, between Max insisting they go to the University of New Mexico campus and Isabel leading them all over the Chaco Historical Park. After a day of “higher learning,” Maria’s head was ready to explode.

“They took the tent,” Jesse replied, nodding in the direction behind the RV.

“Thank God,” Michael muttered with a roll of his eyes.

What do you know, something we actually agree on, Maria thought dryly.

Isabel made a face. “Well they better not plan on it every night,” she argued. “I plan on spending some quality time with my husband.” She arched a seductive eyebrow in Jesse’s direction.

“Christ, Iz,” Michael groaned. “Some plans you just don’t share, even in good company.”

Maria unrolled her sleeping bag and flopped down onto it. “I think it’s really sweet,” she declared. “Like you’re still on your honeymoon or something.”

Jesse grinned, swooping his wife up into his arms. “With Izzy the honeymoon never ends.” And with that, he swept a giggling Isabel into the curtained partition at the very back of the RV.

Michael buried his face in his hands, which prompted Maria to hurl her pillow at him. “What?” he demanded. “Doesn’t it make you even slightly uncomfortable that we are surrounded by people having sex?”

Maria shoved her pillow under her head and rolled over to face the wall. “You’re just jealous because you aren’t getting any.”

*****

“Are you comfortable?”

“A little chilly,” Liz admitted, snuggling closer to Max under the blanket they shared in the small tent.

Max started to his feet. “I’ll get another blanket from the camper.”

“No, no,” Liz said quickly, grabbing his arm. “Stay here.”

“But you’re cold,” Max protested.

“So make me hot,” Liz responded, her voice husky.

Without hesitation, he rolled onto her and smiled. “Hmm, okay,” he murmured, his lips tingling the sensitive skin below her ear. “I think I can do that.”

Liz sighed, relishing in the feeling of his lips trailing along her jaw and his warm hands moving down her body. Already, she could feel him beneath his sweats and boxers, and she reached down to brush her hand against his growing hardness.

“Mmm,” he groaned, moving his lips to hers urgently. He lingered there for a moment before bringing them down to her neck. Liz gasped as she felt his erection pressing against her through the thin material of her nightshirt.

“Well,” she said, her flesh tingling as his tongue ran along her collarbone, “I’m definitely getting warm.”

Max responded by grinding his hips into hers, reaching back up to capture her mouth in another mind blowing kiss.

Sighing against his lips, Liz scraped her fingers down his bare, muscular back, her palms sliding along the smooth ripples. Despite the goosebumps rising against her fingers, Max groaned, “God…Liz…I’m so hot.”

Liz smiled, gazing at him from under hooded eyes, and gently pushed him up. Her hands reached for the drawstring on his cotton pants, and he helped her slide them down his legs so he could kick them off. Liz let out another sigh of desire at seeing his tented boxers and pushed him onto his back so she could straddle his hips with her thighs. Her nightshirt had ridden up to her waist, and Max slid his hands up and under to cup her supple breasts.

Moaning as his hands caressed her sensitive skin, Liz had to bite back a gasp as the pads of his thumbs circled over her tight nipples. Max gazed up at her, enraptured at seeing her that way; eyes closed, head thrown back in pleasure. Her tongue darted out, running across her lips erotically, and they both felt the instantaneous tightening in Max’s groin.

This sensation seemed to bring her back to him. She gazed down at Max, flushed and panting, and dipped her head to the waistband of his boxers. Her tongue darted under, running along his scorching flesh, applying more pressure when it encountered his sensitive tip before sliding back out and up his abdomen. His muscles clenched involuntarily beneath the wet warmth, and he ran his hands down from her lower back, clutching and squeezing over her panties.

“I want to feel you,” he breathed, hooking his thumbs in her panties and pulling them down her legs. He sucked in a deep breath and grazed his fingers through her curls before dipping one into her heat.

Liz gasped and tightened around his finger immediately, thrusting against his hand. That did it. Both scrambled with their remaining clothes, kissing wildly until Max was on top of Liz, trying to control his breathing as he lie prone against her.

“Max…I want you inside me,” Liz whispered, her dark eyes shining with love for him. Only for Max.

Max’s heart – as well as another part of him – swelled with his love for this woman lying beneath him, her chest heaving, her lips swollen with his kisses. He bent his head and pressed a kiss to her forehead before guiding himself to her center. They moaned together as he slid in, her muscles tightening around him. Both were still for a moment, their thoughts consumed only with the gentle squeezing sensation spreading through their bodies.

Max began to stir within her, first moving very slowly in and out, in and out. Liz grabbed his shoulders and matched his rhythm, crying out when he suddenly plunged into her depths. “Max, Max…oh God, Max…” she gasped into his neck as he embedded himself in her body, thrusting into her as if his life depended on it.

“Liz…baby…you feel so good,” Max groaned, burying his cheek in her hair and pressing his lips to her temple. He could feel himself racing to the edge, and he wanted them to fall together. He adjusted slightly, rising up so he pressed against just the spot he knew she needed at that moment.

“Maaaax!” Liz cried out, feeling the familiar flutter deep within her body as Max dove in and out, nailing her most sensitive crevice with each move. “I’m…I’m…oh God!”

Just as he began to come, Liz felt herself succumb as well. They leapt over together, riding out wave after wave of love and devotion, moving together until she felt him slow and finally still inside of her.

Still joined, Max collapsed against Liz, and she gladly accepted his warm weight. He closed his eyes and rested his forehead on hers as they both attempted to calm their breathing. Liz fluttered her eyelashes against his and smiled gently. “Thank you for keeping me warm.”

*****

3

It was bright and very early the next morning when they started on the three-hour trek to Mesa Verde. “Welcome to Colorado!” Isabel chirped from the driver’s seat.

Liz nudged Max, who was idly flipping through one of the park brochures Isabel had found. “Looks like you were wrong.” She nodded subtly toward Michael and Maria, who had camped out on opposite ends at the front of the RV. Michael was intently studying a map of the Grand Canyon, while Maria appeared to be extremely interested in the scenery they were passing.

Max shrugged, straight-faced. “Less competition for the tent.”

Liz smacked his arm playfully. “I just hope they won’t be too difficult,” she said, her voice low. “You know how they can get.”

“Yes. Yes, I do.”

*****

“You know, Isabel, this place is really cool,” Maria remarked as they climbed the dusty steps along the Cliff Palace. “I definitely support this change of route.”

“It’s amazing,” Liz marveled, snapping several pictures of the structure built into the side of the red rock cliffs. “The architectural precision is phenomenal, and with the Anasazi petroglyphs…this is not just a bunch of houses built into some sandy cliffs, this is like going back in time.”

“Sometimes I don’t understand a word that girl is saying, especially when she gets all scientific,” Michael muttered to Max as they brought up the rear of the group.

“That’s because you barely managed to graduate,” Max teased. “Besides, the geographics of planet Earth really aren’t your forte.”

Michael was quiet for a moment, thoughtful. “Hey Max, there’s something-“

“Guys, come here!” Liz waved her camera around. “The tour guide is going to get a picture of all of us in front of the Cliff Palace.”

Following Max, Michael jammed his hands into his pockets. “Never mind.”

After Liz had satisfactorily snapped a shot from each angle of the structure, the group retired for lunch near the visitor’s center.

“You know, Michael,” Maria began around a mouthful of her sandwich as she plopped down onto a bench beside him. “You’ve been awfully distracted today.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to notice.”

Maria sighed, pulling off a piece of bread crust and popping it into her mouth. “Listen, Michael, I shouldn’t have been so bitchy last night. I was exhausted, and-“

“You don’t need to make excuses, Maria,” Michael interrupted. “You’ve made it perfectly clear that my being on this trip is cramping your style-“

“Hold it, Spaceboy! I never said anything like-“

“You didn’t have to.”

“Michael! Will you just give me two minutes, please?” She paused, and he stared at her blankly. “That’s better. Okay, whether you want to believe it or not, I did want you to come on this trip. I mean, the four of them are both of our friends, and…God, Michael, we’re friends too. Even though it hasn’t really felt that way lately. I know you’re pissed at me, or whatever, but I think we’re both mature enough to be civil to one another for a week and a half.”

“Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Okay, fine,” Michael said, shrugging. “You’re right, we’re friends, and we can both be mature, and there’s no reason for us to get on each other’s cases.”

Maria tried to hide her surprise. “Right. That’s right,” she said, nodding firmly. “Well. Now that we got that settled, I’m going to just…go over here…and get some carrots now. You want anything?”

“Nah, I’m good,” Michael replied. “Thanks, though.”

“No problem.” Maria shook her head. That went too well. Something was definitely going on in that alien’s head.

*****

“We call the tent!” Isabel cried gleefully, skidding through the camper in an attempt to escape Jesse’s tickling fingers.

“Take it,” Max said quickly.

“It’s yours,” Liz spoke up at the same time.

“Please,” Michael emphasized, finally glancing up from his reading.

With a shriek, Isabel threw open the door and went into the night, Jesse hot on her heels.

“Well,” Maria said calmly after a long pause. “Anyone up for tarot cards?”

“Maria. You didn’t.”

Maria eyed her best friend innocently. “Well why not? They’re entertaining.”

Liz rolled her eyes in amusement. “You’re in the company of two aliens. I’d think that would be entertainment enough.”

“Right,” Maria scoffed, biting back a smart remark she knew would piss Michael off. Michael…who was clearly not listening anyway. “Well, whatever. We can save them for another time.”

Liz sank back into Max’s arms on the pile of blanket heaped in one corner, sliding beneath one. She eyed Michael curiously. “Michael? What are you doing?”

“W-huh?” He tore his eyes from the pad of legal paper he was scribbling furiously on.

“What are you doing?” she repeated.

“Oh. This?” He nodded toward the brochures and tour books at his feet. “Just…ah, researching a bit. You know, the Grand Canyon and stuff.”

“Ah.” Liz nodded, not especially impressed. “Iz better watch out, huh?”

Maria stretched her arms above her head, yawning widely. “Y’know, as kick ass as this little party is, I think I’m gonna hit the sack. I’ve gotta drive tomorrow, so…” She glanced at Michael quickly, then turned to Max and Liz. “G’night, guys. Oh,” she lowered her voice and winked at Liz. “Don’t let the semen bite.”

“Maria!” Liz gasped, her eyes widening as she flung a pillow at Maria’s retreating form, scampering to her sleeping bag at the other end of the RV.

“We’ll have none of that,” Michael confirmed, eyeing his friends snuggling nearby. “Behave, you two. You don’t have tent privileges tonight.”

Liz groaned. “You people. You act like all we ever do-“ She was cut off as she felt Max’s hand run up her thigh, and she gave him a stern look.

He grinned back at her, all innocence, and proceeded to slide one lone finger under the elastic of her panties. Liz jumped and quickly reached up to turn off the light in their corner of the camper. Tonight they’d have to play the quiet game.

*****

“Oh my god, we left Michael in Colorado!”

“You’re a riot, Maria,” Michael said dryly. He trudged over to Maria, Max, Liz, Jesse, and Isabel, who were spread out through Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.

“That’s a good one,” Jesse chuckled. “I used to try to pull that one on my mom with my little brother. She never thought it was very funny, though.” He paused, grinning at his wife. “C’mere, I want a kiss from New Mexico.”

Isabel obliged, leaning over the state line with a grin. This was well worth the detour; she had no idea how giddy her husband would be about the whole Four Corners stop.

Max and Liz, however, stood hand in hand in Arizona, staring at the Utah state line dubiously.

“Fond memories, huh?” Liz glanced at Max with a wry smile.

“We might as well,” Max decided, squinting through the morning sunlight at the little plaque in the ground. “Welcome to Utah.” They stepped forward and turned to each other again.

“Well. That was therapeutic.” Liz surveyed the land before her. “Still no desire to spend extensive amounts of time here ever again.”

Max nodded. “I agree.” And with that, they headed back toward the RV parked in Colorado, with Maria close behind.

Michael stared after his friends. “I’m with them. Let’s get to the canyon already. Iz, you’re driving.” He tossed the keys to her.

“Jesus, Michael.” Isabel reached up one hand from Colorado just in time to grab the keys. “Give me a second, I’m kind of in the middle of being in four states right now.”

“Here, Michael, take our picture.” Jesse handed him the camera and took his place beside Isabel.

Michael sighed. At this rate they’d never get everybody into Arizona. “Say ‘nuts’.”

*****

“Maxwell, I really need to talk to you.”

Max looked up from mixing his Cherry Coke – Tabasco cocktail. “What’s up?”

Michael glanced over to Maria and Liz, who were in the middle of a conversation with Isabel and Jesse at the front of the RV. “I didn’t want to say anything in front of everybody, but I found something and I want to run it by you,” he continued in a hushed voice.

“Shoot,” Max replied, sitting down at the tiny booth table as he took a sip of his concoction.

Reaching into the front pocket of his backpack, Michael pulled out a folded map. “Isabel had this guide of the Grand Canyon with the rest of her stuff, and I started looking through it.”

“That interesting, huh?”

“No…well, yeah. Actually it is,” Michael pressed, spreading the map onto the table. “What does this look like to you?”

Max studied the map. “Uh…the north rim of the Grand Canyon?”

“Yes and no. Max, look at the rock formation illustrated here. Doesn’t it look like,” he lowered his voice, “doesn’t it look like the cave entrance?”

Turning the map around several times, Max squinted at it again. “No, but it does sort of look like your old haircut. You know, back in the day when you had it all spiked up and –“

“This isn’t funny, Maxwell.”

“I’m not laughing,” Max assured. His tone softened. “Listen, Michael. I just don’t think there’s any connection between whatever rock formation is at the canyon and the one at home. There’s nothing to be hunting around for. I mean, I learned that the hard way.”

Michael could feel his frustration about to boil over. Since when had Max become so self-righteous about this kind of thing? Hell, it had been less than a year since Max had been so determined to find any link to their past that he could. He was on a wild goose chase for a son that he hadn’t had any contact with since Tess left. That realization seemed to be the closure Max needed; to move on with his life here on Earth, to move on with Liz…and Michael, he had tried that, too. He didn’t regret for a minute his decision to stay here with Max and Isabel…and Maria…but his curiosity still got the best of him sometimes. No, there was definitely something strange about that rock formation – and Michael was going to find out what it was.

*****

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Isabel rolled her eyes toward the sky. “No, Michael, I’m not kidding you. I thought you knew we were staying in Flagstaff over night.”

“Flagstaff is not the Grand Canyon.”

“No, Michael, it’s not,” Isabel continued calmly. “If you’d paid attention to the itinerary, then you’d know-“

“Screw the itinerary!” Michael threw his hands up in the air in disgust. “You know something, Iz, sometimes-“

Max sighed, pulling himself from the picnic table. Time for some damage control. “But it’s only one day, right Iz?” he interrupted. “Which means bright and early tomorrow morning we’ll be on our way to the canyon and we’ll all be happy.” He shot a pointed look in Michael’s direction.

“Yes, Max, we’ll all be happy,” Isabel and Michael chorused in dry unison.

“Good. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sandwich to finish.”

Maria and Liz exchanged glances as Max made his way back to the table. “Since when does Michael care so much about the Grand Canyon?” Maria asked.

Max shrugged casually, taking another bite of the ham and cheese he’d thrown together. Offering no other information, he simply wrinkled his nose and reached for the bottle of Tabasco sauce.

“Well I don’t know about you guys, but I’m just happy we get an afternoon to check out Sunset Crater,” Liz said, grinning enthusiastically. Her eyes widened at the looks of exasperation from Max and Maria. “What?”

*****

3b

“Okay, I am officially bored to tears,” Maria groaned to Michael as they lagged behind the other four. “Do you realize we have spent the last three hours looking at piles of ash?”

“Three hours and twenty seven minutes,” Michael corrected, placing his hands atop his head and sighing.

“Don’t remind me.” Maria shielded her eyes from the warm afternoon sun and gazed down the path at her best friend. “Those two completely floor me, you know? There’s our resident scientist, inspecting every crater as if it’s the most amazing thing she’s ever seen, and then there’s Max-“

“Who’s convinced himself he actually gives a damn,” Michael finished.

“Incredible.” Maria shook her head. “Enough of this. I need aqua. And some rose oil. This residual ash is clogging my sinuses.”

“Hey!” Michael called ahead. “We’re heading back to the Winnie.”

Jesse stifled a yawn as he tossed the keys to him, and they were on their way. “You coming too?” Maria asked casually as they began their hike back to the parking lot.

“Is that okay?” Michael could feel himself growing defensive.

“Well yeah. Wanna read some tarot cards?” Maria wiggled her eyebrows at him. “I’ve gotta find out if I can expect anything more out of my summer. Don’t get me wrong,” she continued quickly, “Not that this whole road trip deal wasn’t a good idea, but…come on. We’re spending a week checking out lava monuments with our friends, the nymphos.”

“What more could you ask for?” Michael asked incredulously, the mocking glint evident in his eyes.

Maria pulled open the RV door and stepped inside. “Let’s find out, shall we?”

Sitting down at the table, Michael rested his hands behind his head. “Do you really believe this stuff?”

“Do you believe in aliens?” Maria shot back. She pulled her tarot cards from their black suede pouch and placed them on the table.

Michael eyed her skeptically. “Don’t you have to, like, light some incense or put on a turban or something?”

“I’m not Miss Cleo, Michael. All you do is read the cards and match the image.”

“Oh. Of course.” He nodded knowingly. “So what’s in my cards, Madame Maria?”

“Hm. Well,” Maria began, spreading a line of cards on the table between them. “I’ve never really read anyone else’s cards before,” she admitted, glancing up at him. “Liz doesn’t humor me nearly enough. Okay,” she continued, clearing her throat. “Put your hands down on the table, with your fingertips on the edges of the cards.”

“You’re completely bullshitting this, aren’t you?”

“Shut up.” Maria silenced him by placing her hands atop his, closing her eyes and humming to herself.

Michael fought back the strong urge to laugh, seeing her look of deep concentration. Might as well humor her. Maria’s eyes flew open as she felt the prickling glow soaking into her hands from his. “Michael, cut it out!” she demanded.

He bit his lip sheepishly. “Sorry. So tempting,” he smirked.

Maria cursed under her breath as she flipped the first card in the stack over, placing it atop one on the table. She turned over the one next to it and investigated the sketchy symbols. “Hmm…”

“What does it say?” Michael asked, curiosity getting the best of him.

“It says you’re an ass,” she retorted, continuing to inspect the cards.

Michael sighed and sat back, waiting until her mood passed. After a few minutes of looking at the cards spread before her, Maria finally continued. “Looks like you’re about to discover something.”

His interest once again peaked, he leaned forward. “Discover something?”

“Yeah. See, this one,” Maria pointed to a card, “Indicates searching. And this one,” she slid her finger over, “Indicates a successful venture. But,” she continued, her eyes meeting his, “According to this one, it won’t come without sacrifice.”

Michael held her gaze for a long moment, and then shook his head. “This is such a bunch of crap,” he said quickly, trying to ignore the map that was poking him from his back pocket.

Maria rolled her eyes. “Fine. Whatever. You asked.” She collected her cards into a neat stack and slid them back into the pouch.

“Aren’t you gonna do yours?”

“Abducted by aliens,” she recited flatly.

*****

Max couldn’t see straight. His entire world was exploding around him, sparks of color that illuminated the otherwise dark night. The only sound that accompanied the burst of fireworks was the sound of his love, his Liz, gasping his name over and over. He crushed his lips to hers as he began to spill into her, muffling his low moan against her mouth. He didn’t know if he’d ever be able to stop; he pumped into her again and again as her tight walls milked every last drop from his body.

Liz’s gasp crescendoed into a long cry as her own release shook her body. They continued to move together, thrusting, clinging, panting, until Liz had soaked up the last of his seed and he slowly slid out of her body.

Neither broke their tight embrace; rather their fingers continued to explore; caressing one another, stroking backs and chests and faces as if they were searching one another out for the first time.

“I’ll miss you,” Max whispered suddenly, his voice thick with emotion.

Liz gazed up at him, touching his cheek. “And you know I’ll miss you.”

“I…I know we won’t be far away. USC and Stanford…they’re close. Closer than USC and Georgetown,” he ammended. “But…” he trailed one finger along Liz’s jaw. “Not…close enough.”

“We’ll see each other all the time,” Liz murmured. “Things will be different, Max. But…” Her lips sought out his in a searing kiss. “We’re connected. Nothing will change that.”

“Nothing.” He repeated his hushed vow with wide eyes, the emotion there clearly mirroring hers.

Liz’s gentle smile returned. “So serious,” she teased, pecking his nose in a soft kiss. Her hands began another exploration of his body, slowing as she reached his torso.

The low groan this attention provoked was just what Liz needed to start that tight warmth deep in her body. All thoughts of college, the future, being away from one another dissolved as Liz’s warm, wet lips began their descent down Max’s body. He squirmed beneath her ministrations, resisting the strong urge to thrust his hips as her mouth trailed lower.

Liz looked up with a lustful smile, one hand caressing his cheek while the other slid down to cup his sac. Max jerked against the sensation of her cool little hand, reaching up to cradle her face in his palms. Liz turned her head, capturing one of his fingers between her lips, and began a slow, deliberate sucking.

“Liz,” he groaned as the pressure on his finger increased. In a sure preview of what was to come, Liz ran her tongue in circles over his fingertip before consuming it again in the warm confines of her mouth. Her other hand proceeded to begin a long, fluid stroking of his erection. It was beginning to throw Max into overload, and he gasped as her mouth released his finger and began to travel down his chest.

The hard flesh jerked beneath Liz’s hand as her tongue bathed the skin around it. Finally, encouraged by the sound of Max hissing her name, she plunged her lips down onto this penis and began swirling her tongue along the head.

“Ah…god,” he cried, his hands reaching down to squeeze Liz’s shoulders. Tighter…quicker…the tempo of her mouth increased, leaving him groaning and writhing beneath her until she had him dangling on the edge of release. Max quickly reached down again and grabbed Liz under the arms, easing her up until he felt her damp center twitching over him. Liz sank down onto him, her folds quickly enveloping him into her body. His movement never ceased and she easily joined him, thrusting again and again, connecting their bodies in an exquisite unity.

Later, as Liz slept spooned against him on the blankets in the tent, Max ran one hand along the curve of her naked body and sighed into her hair. “Nothing will change this, love. Nothing.”



[ edited 86time(s), last at 3-Jan-2003 3:15:54 PM ]
posted on 1-Feb-2002 2:59:24 PM by McGees
Part 3 is up, tagged on to what was previously posted. I think what I'm going to do is just piece several parts together into one long post, but I'll try to divide it up fairly often so there doesn't have to be lots of searching for the newest addition.

Hehe, 'spose I should also elaborate a bit on what I meant when I said "if I feel like acknowledging it." The situation involving Tess and Alex is just as it was on the show - Tess is gone, and Alex is dead. For now. *wink*
Basically anything that's happened up through...well, IMAA is fair game. Anything that occurs on the show from here on out, though, is purely coincidental. Thanks a bunch for the feedback and I'll post more ASAP...there's lots to come!
posted on 2-Feb-2002 12:17:02 PM by McGees
Okay, so is it obvious that I have about as much expertise with the tarot cards as Maria? Yeah. No idea how those suckers work. And I figure my description is probably wrong, but we'll just let that one slide...

Hmm...I also realized that I really hadn't made it clear that Jesse DOES know the "secret." Just in case you were curious. Haven't really determined yet HOW he knows, he just does. *wink*

As for the title, I got it from the new(ish) Verve Pipe song of the same name. Tres good tune, and it will grow more appropeau as time goes on. And thanks again for the feedback, guys, it's fantastic motivation!



posted on 3-Feb-2002 2:32:55 AM by McGees
4

“Prepare to experience the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your lives!” Isabel declared, sweeping her arm dramatically as she rushed ahead of the rest of the group.

Max grabbed Liz’s hand as she hopped out of the RV and smiled winningly. “I don’t know about that,” he whispered seductively.

Liz blushed and returned his grin. “Down, boy.” They followed Isabel over the dusty ground and Max stopped short, his jaw falling slack. “Told you,” Liz smiled. “There’s nothing like it.”

Michael let out a low whistle as he, too, got his first glimpse of the Grand Canyon. About damn time, he thought to himself.

Maria rushed up behind Liz and grabbed her free arm. “Oh my god, Lizzie, isn’t this place amazing?” she gasped, her eyes wide as she tried to grasp the expanse of what was before her.

“It’s incredible,” Liz agreed. “It seems so much bigger than I remember. I guess you can’t get the full effect when you’re nine,” she remarked, referring to a family vacation years earlier.

Even Isabel was rendered speechless by the majestic beauty of the canyon. The bright blue sky provided a shocking backdrop for the deep canyon walls, painted as far as the eye could see. Jesse’s presence at her side seemed to break her from her daze, and she turned to him in awe. “Honey, get the camera.”

“Just a minute,” he chuckled, sliding his arm around her waist. “Just soak it all in here before you worry about getting it on film.”

Isabel paused. He was right, the photographs in her books and brochures couldn’t come close to doing justice to the real thing. A slow smile spread across her face and she gave her husband a quick kiss on the cheek. “Thank you,” she amended.

*****

Michael was going crazy. He was itching, literally itching, to get out of there. He had to get to the North Rim. Nope, no patience to run it by the Road Trip Nazi. The decision was made. He was going today.

Quietly, as to not wake Max, Liz, and Maria sleeping nearby, he slipped into his clothes and shoved a map, several brochures, and his own research into his backpack. Slinging it over his shoulder, he jotted a quick note to the group to say he’d be back before dinner and stepped out into the pre-dawn darkness. He glanced at the tent, which had been set up several yards from the camper, and noted with relief that all was still. The last thing he wanted was to hear some early morning nookie, and-

“Ooph,” he grunted, smacking right into something.

The something shrieked and raised its’ hands in defense. “Don’t touch me!”

Maria. Michael sighed. “It’s me.”

“Michael?” Maria squinted into the darkness. “What the hell are you doing?”

“I could ask you the same thing.”

“I had to pee. Not that it’s any business of yours,” Maria scoffed. “You almost gave me a heart attack. Seriously, what are you doing up?”

“Catching a bus.” He paused, knowing that wouldn’t be enough information for her. “I’m gonna check out the North Rim of the canyon, okay?”

Maria eyed him skeptically. “Why?”

“I’m curious. Not that it’s any business of yours,” he retorted. “Now if you’ll excuse me-“

“Can I come?”

What? Michael raked his hand through his hair, agitated. Why did Maria decide to take up an interest now? “Why?”

“I’m curious,” she shrugged. “Besides, Isabel mentioned riding donkeys or something today, and…ew. No thank you.”

“Fine,” he gave in, in no mood to argue with her. “Bus leaves in ten minutes.”

Maria glanced down at her pajama-clad body. “Kick ass. Give me two seconds to throw on some clothes and I’ll be right out.”

Two seconds. Right.

*****

Nine minutes and thirty seconds later, out of breath from running, Michael and Maria made their way onto the bus and surveyed the seating situation. For six o’clock in the morning, there sure were a lot of people with an interest in the North Rim. Spotting only two empty seats, one towards the front and one in the very back, Michael turned to Maria and gestured to the empty seat beside a scrawny middle-aged man with a scraggly mustache and large safari hat. “Ladies first,” he announced.

“Have a seat, doll,” the man wheezed, sizing Maria up and then patting the seat beside him with a gap-toothed grin.

“I hate you,” Maria hissed to Michael as she slid gingerly into the seat. Michael merely chuckled and made his way down the aisle, ignoring the daggers Maria was glaring into his back. He took the last empty seat, settling down beside an elderly woman who smiled at him cheerfully.

Michael quickly returned the smile, then leaned his head back against the seat and closed his eyes.

“Hi there.”

Michael’s eyes snapped open again. “Hi.”

“I’m Mona. Mona Barkley,” the woman continued, extending her wrinkled hand. “And you’re…?”

“Ah, Michael Guerin,” he replied, unsuccessfully stifling a yawn.

“Well, Michael, you’re up awfully early for a tour.”

“I guess,” he said, hoping she would end the small talk and he could sneak in a nap during the two-hour drive from the South Rim.

The woman patted his knee. “Let me tell you, it’s worth it. You’re in for a real treat, Michael Guerin. My husband and I used to make the trip here from Yuma every summer. Oh, Herb’s gone now, but I still try to get up this way once a year just because it’s got so many lovely memories. Beautiful scenery, Michael, just beautiful.”

“That’s nice,” Michael said politely. “So, you’re familiar with the area?”

“Like the back of my hand.” Mona laughed uproariously, gesturing to the wrinkles and age spots that speckled her hand. “Though I suppose that’s getting to be unfamiliar territory these days. But yes, Michael, I know the place quite well.”

Michael looked at her thoughtfully for a moment and then dug into his backpack. “Maybe you could help me out with something,” he said, unfolding the worn map he’d been studying for the past several days. “I’ve never been here before, but I’m really curious about some different landmarks I researched.” He pointed to the area he had highlighted several times. “Do you know anything about the area between here and the Colorado River?”

Mona cocked her head and studied the map. “Well, now the tour really doesn’t include anything within the Kaibob Forest. I’d suggest looking into their visitor center and see if you can find more information there.”

“That’s not really what I’m looking for,” Michael admitted. “Actually…there’s a specific rock formation I’m curious about. Only I haven’t been able to find a name, just an illustration.”

Mona couldn’t help but smile at the young man’s interest. It was refreshing, if not surprising, to encounter a young person with so much interest in the geography of the Grand Canyon. “We’ll see what we can do for you, Michael.”

*****

posted on 4-Feb-2002 1:01:53 AM by McGees
Author's Note: Thanks again for the feedback, it really helps motivate me to weed through some of the upcoming parts. I promise to return to a more Max & Liz centered theme very soon, but there's some background I need to get through first. Stay with me, folks, I promise it'll be worth it! (P.S. The Four Corners really does exist, it's the only point in the United States where four states meet. Fun, huh?) And with that, here is 4b. More to come later today!

4b

Liz studied the handwritten note on the table. Michael’s scrawled writing explained that he was taking the bus up to the North Rim of the canyon for the day, and Maria had written “Me too” at the bottom of the scrap of paper. “Max, why did Michael go up there?” Moreover, why had Maria joined him?

Max shook his head, unsure whether to be angry or just exasperated at Michael’s actions. Hadn’t he told him there was no point in digging around for anything?

“Their loss,” Isabel announced. “We’ve got our tour down into the canyon on donkey-back this afternoon. Just like that old book. What was the donkey’s name? Sparky or something?”

Liz smiled politely and quickly excused herself, rummaging through her duffel bag. “Old clothes, old clothes,” she muttered under her breath. “This campsite better have washing machines.”

*****

“Don’t ever do that to me again!” Maria hissed to Michael as he approached her at the visitor’s center.

“Unpleasant ride?” Michael asked innocently, dodging Maria’s shove.

“The guy called me ‘doll’ the entire time, and told me if I was ever in the Tucson area he could provide me a bed. Provide me a bed!” she sputtered. “I feel so dirty!”

Mona, who was walking alongside Michael, listened to the exchange with a bemused smile on her face. “Is this your girlfriend, Michael?”

“No!” they both exclaimed in unison.

She nodded knowingly. “I see. Well, I hope you’re a patient one,” she said, winking at Maria knowingly. “This young man is on a mission.”

“You’re telling me,” Maria muttered with a roll of her eyes.

“Michael, I hope you find what it is you’re looking for,” Mona continued, turning to Michael and patting his arm. “I’ll be on my way, the tour’s about to start. It’s been a pleasure meeting you.”

“You too,” Michael said honestly. He watched as Mona made her way into the visitor’s center, winking at him over her shoulder.

“What a sweet old lady,” Maria mused. “Well, let’s go. Like she said, tour’s about to start.”

Michael took her arm and led her down the path, back behind the center. “Yeah, about that. We’re not taking the tour.”

“Why not?”

Reaching into his backpack, Michael pulled out a map and inspected their surroundings. “I’ll explain later.”

“You’ll explain later?” Maria repeated. “I don’t think so, buddy, you’ll explain right now!”

“Maria, keep your voice down. I just want to wait until the group leaves and then we can get started.”

Maria stared at him evenly. “This is about the rock formation, isn’t it?”

Michael’s eyes met hers in surprise. “What are you talking about?”

“I found your notes,” Maria admitted quietly, moving to sit down on a rock. “They fell out of your jacket pocket yesterday when you took it off at the canyon. I found them and put them back, but…I looked at them first.” She continued to look at Michael steadily, despite the anger that was now etched in his face. “Michael, I didn’t realize what it was at first, or…or how important it is to you. But…I want to help you find what it is you’re looking for.”

Michael’s face softened, but his expression remained guarded. “Why?”

“Because you’re my friend, Michael. You seem to think you’ve got to do this on your own, but I want to help you.”

“Not even Max was interested,” Michael scoffed.

“Listen, I know I’m not Max,” Maria continued, her voice growing defensive. “I’m sorry if I can’t be as big a help as he could-“

“That’s not what I meant, Maria,” Michael interrupted. “I – never mind. Thank you. But I’m warning you, I don’t even know exactly where to find this. I just…I have this feeling. And I know I’ll regret it if I don’t check it out.”

“I know what you mean,” Maria replied softly. She cleared her throat and clapped her hands together. “Okay. So. Where do we start?”

*****

“Michael. Not to be a pain in the ass, but I’m pretty sure we’ve been here. Like, two or three times.” Maria gritted her teeth, willing herself to remain patient. They’d been wandering around the park for hours, and not only were they not finding anything, they really hadn’t seen anyone for quite some time either.

“Maria. I’m on it.” Michael, too, squared his jaw as he surveyed the land around them. That particular cavern did look familiar, but then again, they all looked pretty similar. “Damnit,” he muttered under his breath. “I think…we need to go this way,” he nodded ahead of them toward a scrubby trail that extended from the main path they’d be following.

“Hey…Michael?” Maria ventured, trudging along beside him. “I know what we’re looking for, sort of. But…what’s the significance?”

He scrubbed his hand across his face and sighed. “At first I just thought it looked a lot like the cave entrance back at home. So I got curious, and I started looking through some of Isabel’s tour books. But they never give it a name, or any specific directions on getting to it. It’s just…sort of there, y’know?” Michael looked down into Maria’s blank stare. “Okay, don’t you think it’s strange that none of the books address it specifically? I mean, it’s this massive structure in comparison to some of the other formations around it, just like our cave.”

“So…you think there’s some kind of connection to this place and the cave. I understand that. That’s what you had jotted down in your notes. But where’s the mystery?”

Michael took a long swig from his water bottle. “The mystery,” he explained between gulps, “Is that this place has never actually been photographed.”

“WHAT?” Maria screeched. “Michael, you’re going on a wild goose chase for something you don’t even know exists?!” She balled her fists. “And I came with you?!”

“Christ, Maria,” Michael muttered, rubbing his ear. “No one forced you.”

“God, Michael, I thought you really had something,” she continued angrily. “I thought you had some sort of proof that there was something to be looking for-“

Michael glared at her. “You should know better than anyone that you don’t need proof just for something to exist.”

Ignoring him, Maria continued to rant. “No wonder Max wasn’t stupid enough to want any part of this, he - “ She trailed off then, realizing how hurtful those words would be to Michael. “I – I’m sorry,” she sighed, peering up at him. “I didn’t mean that.”

“Yeah you did.” Michael quickened his pace, making it difficult for Maria to keep up with him. “Don’t apologize when we both know did.”

“Damnit, Michael!” she exclaimed in frustration. “Will you just listen to me for a minute?”

Michael whirled around and stared her straight in the eye. “What, so I can hear another speech about how Max is right and I’m always wrong? Thanks, Maria, but I hear it all the time and I sure as hell don’t need it from you too.”

“You hear it all the time?” Maria repeated. “Michael, you’re not always wrong. You’re curious, and that’s okay. I mean, Max almost flunked out of school last fall when he picked up and went to LA. He followed his instinct and went for it…and he didn’t find what he was looking for. At least, not in the way he was expecting.” She paused, gingerly resting her hand on Michael’s arm. “What he found was that this is his home. No amount of searching would change that, because what he was looking for was here all along. And you…Michael, I don’t think you’ve come to terms with that for yourself.”

“What’s your point?” he asked gruffly, trying to relax his arm under her touch.

“I’m not saying you shouldn’t be curious. I just…it’s so hard to see you always searching for something better. It’s hard to realize that this place – that we – aren’t good enough for you.”

“And I’m the selfish one,” Michael spat out bitterly. He yanked his arm from her grip and turned back to the trail without another word.

*****













[ edited 2 time(s), last at 4-Feb-2002 1:06:14 AM ]
posted on 4-Feb-2002 7:58:54 AM by McGees
5a

Liz couldn’t help bursting into giggles as she watched Max and Jesse stagger toward her and Isabel. “Are you guys okay?” she asked sweetly.

Jesse grimaced. “We need to have a little talk about riding around on wild animals.”

“You didn’t have a good time?” Isabel asked, her eyes widening innocently.

“I don’t think either one of us is going to have a good time tonight,” he muttered sourly as his wife led him into the RV.

Liz burst out laughing again. “How about you, cowboy?”

Max rubbed his backside gingerly. “Yeah, I’m feeling it. I think I’m gonna be walking bowlegged for the rest of this trip.”

Sidling up to him and wrapping her arms around his neck, Liz grinned. “You’re so cute when you’re in pain.”

“Not funny,” he grumbled, his nose wrinkling. “You smell.”

Liz shoved him playfully. “You’re not exactly a bed of roses yourself.” She paused, eyeing him suggestively. “I know just what you need.”

“An ice pack and a nap?”

Ignoring his teasing sarcasm, Liz slid one finger down his damp t-shirt. “A nice…warm…shower,” she murmured, punctuating each word with a sultry kiss.

“Will you be gentle?” he asked with another grimace.

“Maybe.” With that, Liz hopped up and wrapped her legs around Max’s waist, peppering his neck with kisses.

Max growled deep in his throat and captured her lips with his again before gazing down at her, his eyes dark with lust. Liz slid down his body to her feet and smiled.

“I’ll just go grab a towel,” she said slowly, backing into the camper and reappearing in seconds. “Race you to the showers!” she called giddily, the towel flying behind her as she took off in a run.

“Liz! Wait for me!” Max called pitifully, bracing his back as he hobbled after her.

*****

“Uh, Michael? What time is it?”

Michael glanced at Maria, who had said relatively few words to him in the past few hours as they hiked through the canyon. “I don’t know, you’re the one with the watch. I didn’t wear one.”

“Oh you’ve got to be kidding…mine stopped at 12:30.” Maria held out her wrist.

“Battery must’ve died or something,” Michael shrugged.

Maria closed her eyes for a moment. “Michael, what time does the bus leave?”

“Four o’clock.”

“And how far are we from the visitor’s center?”

Realization dawned. “Shit.”

“Yeah.” Maria glanced up at the sky, where the sun was beginning to sink lower on the horizon. “This isn’t good, Michael.”

“Well…we’ll just head back then,” he said reluctantly. “Maybe we can catch a ride with somebody, or call Jesse’s cell and have them come pick us up in the Winnie.”

“Yeah, Iz is gonna love that,” Maria muttered. “You’re right, let’s turn around.”

*****



[ edited 3 time(s), last at 5-Feb-2002 12:41:24 AM ]
posted on 4-Feb-2002 5:45:44 PM by McGees
5b

Liz was already in the shower humming happily to herself when Max caught up with her. He carefully surveyed the campsite shower house, checking for feet under the other stall doors, before stripping off his dirty clothes and sliding the shower curtain aside.

She jumped as he slipped in behind her, smiling as his arms wrapped around her wet body. “Hi,” he breathed in her ear, pressing up against her backside.

Liz shivered despite the warm blast of water and turned around in his arms. “Hey yourself,” she smiled, tracing a stream of water over his chest.

Max laced his fingers through the wet hair at her temples and leaned down, kissing her soundly. Their mouths angled, allowing deeper access for their searching tongues, and Liz could feel his arousal beginning to press against her hip.

Kissing his way down Liz’s neck, Max reached behind to cup her, gently squeezing the smooth, firm flesh. Her breath was quickening as she groped blindly for the bar of soap resting on the soap rack and began rubbing it between her hands. Once she’d worked up a lather, she ran them across his chest, leaving soapy streaks on the rippling muscle.

Max groaned at the feel of her gentle hands moving along his body, slowly massaging the soap over his arms, across his back, and down his sides. He sucked in a deep breath when he felt her hands slide down his torso and over his legs, her soapy fingers careful not to disturb his growing erection.

Realizing he was going to need a distraction from her hands on his body, he reached for the bar of soap as well.

Liz continued her ministrations on Max’s body, but his actions didn’t go unnoticed. She arched her back as Max’s soapy hands rubbed her neck and shoulders, gasping when they strayed down to cup her breasts.

Max noted with some satisfaction that she had stopped teasing him and was now wrapped up fully in his touch. Having teased her nipples into hard little peaks, he slid his hands to her hips and dipped his head. This was no easy task considering his sore muscles, but Liz’s breathy moan gave him all the encouragement he needed.

Liz cried out as he captured one of her tight nipples between his lips, running his tongue along the sensitive skin surrounding it before drawing it into his mouth and sucking. She writhed against his hard body as he pleasured first one breast, then the other.

Max gazed up at her, smoothing his hands down her body as he slowly lowered himself to his knees. He ran his hands over her thighs, blinking away the warm water streaming into his face.

She moaned again as she felt his warm breath on her dark curls. Jumping slightly as he pressed a soft kiss there, she reached down to push his soaking hair out of his face.

Suddenly Max’s tongue was exploring her, the pressure from his mouth providing so much stimulation that Liz cried out again and twisted her fingers through his dark hair. At first his tongue simply ran back and forth over her core, tasting her. He quickly became more insistent, nipping lightly at her swollen nub and plunging his tongue into her body. Liz wanted to tell him how good it felt, that he was making her crazy, but all she could manage to vocalize was a series of serrated sobs as she bucked wildly into his hungry mouth.

He pulled her clit into his mouth for one last hard tug, and Liz’s body cartwheeled into release. “That was…amazing,” she gasped, her breath coming in shallow pants as she swayed over him.

Max placed a smattering of tiny kisses along her inner thigh before rising to his feet so Liz could collapse against him. As she slowly came down from her high, she realized that Max had a definite reaction to her orgasm as well. She reached between their bodies, stroking him until his erection pulsed in her hand.

The sensation of her hand, lubricated by the warm water from the shower, was almost more than Max could take. He kissed Liz urgently, leaving her with her own taste faint on her lips.

“Liz,” he groaned, beginning to thrust into her hand. “I want to come inside of you. Please.”

Liz shuddered at the husky desperation in his voice as he lifted her to straddle his hips. A sudden thought struck her, breaking her from the moment of passion and into a fit of giggles.

“What is it?” Max groaned, guiding himself to her entrance.

She braced her hands against the wall behind them as her giggling continued. “Are…are you sure this isn’t going to hurt your back?” she managed.

“Don’t care,” he growled, entering her with one swift stroke. He heightened the rhythm immediately, not giving her a chance to interrupt as they joined thrust after thrust. As he got closer, he adjusted them, supporting her bottom with one arm and bracing her against the shower wall with the other.

And then voices could be heard over the running water. Voices that were entering the shower house. “Connie, you go ahead and take it, there’s somebody in the other one. I’ll just wait.”

Liz looked at Max in alarm, her hips slowing slightly, as she realized they weren’t alone. But poor Max was too far gone to control himself, and with one hard jerk he came, spilling into her as he tried desperately to stifle his groans. Liz clutched at him, sinking her teeth into his shoulder, as she rode out the orgasm with him.

The voice outside the stall continued, and now it sounded angry. “I swear to god, I’m gonna cut his balls off.”

Liz bit her lip, hard.

“Why don’t you just dump the S.O.B already, Joanne?” the other voice demanded. “If the only reason he’s with you is because he thinks you give great head, kick his sorry ass to the curb.”

Max finally began to still, taking in great chokes of air as he attempted to slow his breathing, and Liz slid down the wall to wrap him in her embrace. She whispered lovingly into his ear as his body began to calm, but nearly burst into another fit of laughter when the first voice continued, “It’s enough to make me want to castrate the next guy I run into!”

Kissing him gently, Liz reached over to turn off the water. “Finally,” she heard the voice outside mutter. She looked up at Max with a mixture of alarm and amusement when she realized something. “Max, I only grabbed one towel,” she hissed. “And our clothes are over on the bench.”

Thinking quickly, Max grabbed the towel that was flung over the door of the stall. He closed his eyes for a moment, hands glowing, and then handed Liz an exact replica of the towel he had been holding. “You’re the best,” she whispered, kissing him on the cheek as she wrapped the towel around herself and peeked around the curtain.

“Um, just one minute. I…I have to grab my clothes…over there,” she pointed, quickly stepping past the impatient woman and grabbing the pile of clothes before scurrying back into the tiny stall and tossing Max’s clothes at him. His jeans were caked with mud, so he simply pulled his shirt over his head and wrapped the towel tightly around his waist. Liz eyed him for a moment and shrugged, taking a deep breath before pulling back the curtain again.

“Jesus Christ!” the first woman cried. Hearing her friend’s outburst, the other poked her head out from behind the curtain. Her eyes widened upon seeing Max, who did his best to keep a straight face as he nodded quickly. “Ladies.”

“What the-“ Max and Liz didn’t wait for either to finish, they simply grabbed hands and made a run for the exit. Both nearly doubled over with laughter at the last thing they heard out of the woman’s mouth. “Snip, snip, Joanne!”

Liz was still wiping tears from her eyes when they walked into the camper. “Where have you guys been?” Isabel demanded. “You disappeared almost an hour ago.”

They exchanged a glance. “Uh, showering,” Max offered casually.

Isabel shook her head. “Well, we’ve got a slight problem.”

*****


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 5-Feb-2002 12:43:33 AM ]
posted on 5-Feb-2002 12:40:40 AM by McGees
Thanks for wading through some of the transition with me, guys, it's the toughest part! Sorry these parts are a little shorter right now...most of the trans. is new between future parts that have already been written...I have this bad habit of skipping around. *wink* Feedback helps so much, though, and I really hope you'll be interested in what's coming!

6a

“What’s the matter?” Liz asked, looking around the RV. “Where’re Maria and Michael, I thought they were supposed to be back by now?”

“That would be the problem,” Isabel confirmed. “They never showed up, and their bus was due back almost an hour ago.”

“Maybe the bus is running late,” Max suggested.

Jesse appeared from the back of the camper holding up his cell phone. “I just called the visitor’s station at the South Rim and they said all tours returned at their scheduled times.”

Liz sank down at the table, burying her eyes with her hands. “What are they doing up there anyway?”

Max hesitated and then turned to his sister. “Michael didn’t really want to talk about this, but he thinks there’s a connection between a rock formation there and the one near the cave our pods were found in.”

“In northern Arizona?” Isabel questioned. “Why would there be a connection?”

“I don’t think there is,” Max defended. “But Michael got it in his head that they’re related and wanted to check it out.”

Liz looked at Max pointedly. “Is that the same way you reacted when he told you about it?”

Max looked at his girlfriend and his sister helplessly. “I – I don’t know! I just kind of wrote it off. I mean, I had my turn to go running around the country looking for clues leading to…I don’t even know what, exactly. I just don’t have a whole lot of patience for it anymore.”

“And yet Michael always had patience for you,” Liz countered sadly, rising from the table and grabbing the keys to the camper. “We’re driving up there. We’ve got to find them.”

*****

“Yep. Definitely screwed,” Maria commented, trying to keep her voice from rising anxiously as she looked up into the twilight. “I’m starving, it’s almost completely dark, and we have no idea where the hell we are.”

“Thanks for reminding me. Again,” Michael muttered under his breath. “Listen, I think we’re almost back to the center. There’s got to be security or forest rangers or something on duty so we can call the guys.”

“Does it look like we’re near the center?” Maria snapped, this time unsuccessful in keeping her voice from cracking as she dropped down onto a boulder.

“What are you doing?” Michael asked, watching her sit. “We’re not going to get any closer sitting on our asses.”

Maria glared at him. “I have been walking the entire day. I don’t think sitting for a few minutes is going to kill us.” She suddenly jumped up and shrieked as a coyote howled in the distance.

“Calm down, Blondie,” Michael. “He’s miles away.”

“Right. Because he’s the only wild animal in this entire canyon,” she shot back witheringly. “Michael, this is not safe.”

“You’re the one that sat down!”

Maria took a deep breath, willing away the tears that were prickling behind her eyes. She would not let Michael Guerin get the best of her. But looking at him, standing above her in his green fatigues, black t-shirt, and backward baseball cap as he squinted at his worthless map in the near darkness, the floodgates burst. “You know what Michael?” she sobbed. “Fuck you!”

“Excuse me?” He arched an eyebrow at her.

“You heard me! Fuck you!” Maria swiped angrily at her tears. “This is all your fault. You and your goddamned missions. That’s all your life is about, isn’t it? Some big, drawn out mission that you started before your even understood it. Well you know something? I’m tired of being a part of it! Somehow I keep getting dragged into it, getting kidnapped in my car and almost getting killed more times than I can count and what do I have to show for it? Getting lost in the goddamned desert. Again .” The tears were coming faster now, but Maria kept going. “And you know something else? I think tarot cards are a bunch of shit. Successful mission my ass! The only thing successful about this mission is that maybe I’ll die here first and I won’t have to go to Southern in the fall. All I want is to get away from all of this, and –“

“Maria,” Michael cut in, puzzled. “You’re going to the University of New Mexico.”

She dissolved into tears again, burying her face in her hands.

Michael approached her gingerly, sitting down on the rock beside her. “What did I say?”

Peering at him between her fingers, she sent him another glare. “You really don’t get it, do you? You –“ She trailed off, realizing Michael wasn’t listening to her. He was staring at something on her other side. “What?” she demanded.

“Maria,” he said quietly. “Don’t move. No,” he cut off her protest before she could start, his eyes wide with alarm. “Sit very still.”

Maria slowly turned to see whatever it was Michael was so fixated by. And she screamed.

*****

posted on 7-Feb-2002 1:40:10 AM by McGees
6b

It was all Maria could do to keep herself from jumping up and running upon seeing the scorpion crawling toward her leg. She bit back another scream and looked at Michael fearfully, willing him to do something.

“Maria, get up very slowly,” he said quietly, staring at the creature in deep concentration.

Maria did as she was told, careful not to make any sudden movements to provoke the scorpion to strike her as she slid to her feet.

The second she moved aside, Michael raised his hand, and with a jolt of purple light, blasted the scorpion to a fine powder. He looked up at Maria, who was shaking uncontrollably as she gaped at the boulder. He jumped up, pulling her trembling form into a tight hug. “Hey…” he soothed. “Hey…you’re fine, Blondie. You’re fine.”

Her defiant pride all but forgotten, Maria buried her face in his chest and burst into tears. “Thank you,” she mumbled into his shirt.

In a bit of a daze himself from the sudden use of power, Michael sank to the ground. Maria clung to him, practically crawling into his lap to avoid any unneeded contact with the desert floor. He patted her shoulder awkwardly at first, but as Maria’s body slowly relaxed, his did as well. He stroked her hair, resting his chin atop her head as he held her protectively.

*****

“Liz, maybe I should drive?”

Gripping the steering wheel tightly, Liz turned to Max and frowned. “Tell you what, I’ll drive and you and Isabel focus on your connection with Michael.”

Max shrank back slightly at her harsh tone, but Max knew it was only because she was worried about their friends. He did as he was told.

Isabel, too, squeezed her eyes shut in deeper concentration, searching through her mind to connect with Michael out there…somewhere.

Slapping his cell phone shut, Jesse sighed. “The visitor center up there is definitely closed. I’ve been trying it for over an hour and there’s just a voice machine.”

“Dammit,” Liz muttered, her fingers flexing anxiously around the wheel. “We’ll have to search for some kind of ranger when we get up there,” she decided distractedly. Maneuvering the unwieldy Winnebego along the narrow mountain roads was becoming increasingly difficult, especially now that night had fallen. Liz fumbled to adjust the headlights, swerving slightly as she did so.

Max’s eyes flew open. “Liz.”

“Did you find him?” Liz demanded anxiously.

Max loosened his grip from the passenger’s seat armrest. “No. But you’re all over the road.” He cringed slightly, knowing Liz wouldn’t appreciate his commentary.

Liz blew out a deep breath and kept her eyes glued firmly to the winding road in front of them. “Connection,” she reminded tersely.

They continued on in silence for several minutes, Max and Isabel focusing as Jesse looked on tensely. “There’s a sign, twenty miles to the Kaibob National Forest Visitors Center,” Liz spoke up finally. “We should be able to find out – oh my god,” Liz trailed off in frustration as she glanced in the large side mirror.

An Arizona State Police car was following them.

*****

“You saved my life,” Maria murmured into the darkness.

Michael was silent for a long moment. “But it’s my fault you’re here.”

Maria shifted, pulling away from his grip slightly so she could look up at him. “Michael,” she sighed, “You didn’t force me to come. You were right about that.”

“I didn’t mean for it turn out like this,” he admitted, absently tangling his fingers through the end of her ponytail.

“Not many people plan to get stranded in the Grand Canyon.” Maria smirked in spite of herself.

Michael paused. “Well, that too.” He could feel Maria’s puzzled eyes on him. “I just meant that I…I never wanted to screw up your life.”

“Michael-“

“Maria, you’re right,” he interrupted. “Everything you said, about risking your life and never getting anything back, you’re right. You’ve given so much, and I just keep taking-“

“Hold it, Spaceboy,” Maria cut in. “It’s not like we’re in a relationship or something. You don’t owe me anything.”

His brow furrowed. “That’s not the point. You’re my friend, Maria, the first one I ever really had aside from Max and Isabel. I owe you that, and that’s more than you probably realize. I don’t want you to feel like you’re being taken advantage of.” Michael paused, taking a deep breath as he looked down at Maria. “These…these are some of the last times we’ll have together, all of us. I mean, Max and Liz are off to California, and you’ll be in Albuquerque-“

“No I won’t,” Maria whispered. She gazed into Michael’s confused face, her lower lip trembling slightly. “I’m not going to the University of New Mexico.”

“But that music program you got into…” He trailed off as her eyes filled with tears.

“I didn’t get the scholarship,” she confided. “And I can’t pay for the program without it.”

Suddenly it all made sense. Maria’s agitation in Albuquerque, her fear of being in Roswell forever…Michael unconsciously kissed the top of her head. “I’m sorry,” he said simply. “I didn’t know.”

“Yeah, well, Liz is the only one who does. I haven’t really had the heart to admit to anyone, much less myself, that Maria DeLuca’s gonna be a Roswellian a little longer than she planned.” Maria went silent for a moment. “Looks like you’re stuck with me, Guerin.”

*****

Liz looked at Max in alarm, her heart pounding in her chest. They hadn’t done anything wrong, had they? This time she was sure of it.

The cop’s shadow approached from behind the looming camper with the clicking of his boots. He eyed Liz with a steely gaze, peering in past her to the RV’s interior. “I’m going to need a license and registration. Does this vehicle belong to you?”

“Actually, it belongs to my uncle.” Liz fumbled through the messy console, looking to unearth the paper work. “I have the insurance consent form from him,” she continued, glancing at the resident lawyer in the back for reassurance.

The cop, whose badge read “Brooks,” accepted the paperwork and continued his questioning. “Can I ask what you folks are doing up in these parts at this hour?”

“We’re just doing some traveling,” Liz explained, proud of herself for keeping her voice so steady. After all, she was telling the truth. “We’re on our way to do some sightseeing at the North Rim of the canyon.” Okay, minus a few details.

“You do realize,” Brooks continued, flipping through the information before speaking quietly into his dispatcher, “That these parks close at dusk. We can’t have people wandering around out there. It’s not safe.”

Max clenched his jaw as he saw Liz stiffen. Just the reminder they needed.

But the cop wasn’t done. “I also need to point out that we don’t allow any kind of four wheelers or campers to travel down these roads. Too narrow, too winding. As I’m sure you’ve been experiencing.” His voice struck Liz as being a taunt, and she didn’t like it.

“I must have missed the sign,” she said through gritted teeth.

Brooks nodded shortly. “That’s a problem. I’m going to need to get some information, and then I’ll have to ask you to turn around and head back south. If you want to visit the North Rim, you’ll have to take the tour bus. During the day,” he added, turning and heading back to his squad car without a second look.

Liz flopped back against the driver’s seat. “Great. This is just the absolute last thing we need,” she moaned. “How the hell are we supposed to find them if we can’t even get up there?”

Jesse ran a hand through his hair. “I really shouldn’t be encouraging this…but I think the only thing to do is wait until the cop leaves and just keep going.”

Isabel glanced at her husband, surprised. “I think we have to.”

Max nodded seriously in agreement. “I’m still not picking up any kind of connection from Michael.” His voice dropped a bit lower. “That worries me.”

After a minute the cop returned, handing Liz the documents and her license. “I’m just giving you a warning for this one,” he explained cooly. “In the future, don’t go where you don’t belong. Evenin’.” He tipped his hat and walked away.

Liz watched his retreating form in the side mirror, waiting as he climbed into the squad and started the car. She waited some more. “He’s…he’s not going anywhere!”

Jesse groaned. “Should have known. He’s going to wait for us to turn around and then follow us back down the canyon.”

“Oh you’ve got to be kidding!” Isabel cried. “What, he doesn’t trust us?”

Cursing, Liz struck the steering wheel. There was no way they’d be able to get to Michael and Maria now.







[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-Feb-2002 1:43:06 AM ]
posted on 7-Feb-2002 10:15:48 PM by McGees
Author's note: Thanks again for the feedback, and keep checking back! I plan to get lots up this weekend. *happy*

7

Maria jerked awake, startled by her unfamiliar surroundings. It was dark, except for the dull glow of a crudely made fire. For a split second she felt like a small child searching for a comforting face after a nightmare. And then she felt the arms around her. Familiar arms. Strong and protective. Warm breath tickled across the back of her neck. “You fell asleep,” Michael explained.

She struggled to sit up, realizing that she was pressed up against his body, using his lap for a pillow.

“You’re fine,” Michael assured. “You should sleep, it’s been a long day.”

“You’ve had a long day too,” she protested sleepily, her sheer exhaustion not quite enough to curb her stubbornness.

Michael shrugged. “Somebody’s gotta keep an eye out for…ah…creatures,” he said carefully. “I’m used to graveyard shift security. Besides,” he continued, his tone lightening. “I think I’d have a little more luck in the extermination department, too.” Not that he was ever going to tell her about the three ‘creatures’ he’d already zapped while she’d slept.

“I guess you’re right,” Maria resigned with a yawn. She rested her head against the damp material of the t-shirt covering his chest, curling her body close to his to feel his warmth. She was lulled back to sleep, Michael’s gentle hand stroking her back.

*****

Liz folded herself into Max’s embrace later that night with a deep sigh. “Why aren’t you getting through to him?”

“I don’t know, babe,” he admitted. “The only thing I can think of is that he’s been using his powers and it’s exhausted his mind. He won’t be able to pick up our thoughts, and-“

Liz’s eyes widened. “What if something’s wrong, Max? If he’s having to use his power so much there must be something wrong.”

Max rested his chin atop her head. “It’s probably for little things, making sure they have a fire to keep warm and enough water. But it adds up. Listen, we’ll take the first bus up there in the morning and see what we can do from there.”

“Aren’t you scared?” Liz asked quietly.

He nodded shortly, burying his face in her hair. “They’re going to be fine, Liz. Michael will take care of Maria, we both know that.”

A tiny grin made its’ way to Liz’s face. “But who’s gonna take care of Michael if Maria tries to kill him?”

“Only God can save his soul,” Max chuckled, sliding down beneath the blanket with Liz. “Get some sleep, love.” He gently brushed his fingertips over her eyelids, slipping them closed. Liz sighed and snuggled up into his embrace, drifting into a restless slumber.

*****

Michael slowly pried his eyes open to face the assaulting early morning sunshine. He blinked once, twice, accustoming himself to his surroundings. Blue sky, desert floor, Maria…

Maria? His eyes shot open as he realized his arm was draped over Maria’s sleeping form, her back pressed against him. Shit. He’d fallen asleep, he realized, even after promising he’d stay up to watch out for them.

Maria shifted slightly, snuggling up against his chest. Michael held his breath, expecting her to wake up and freak out at their position, but she only let out a soft sigh in her sleep.

Michael waved his hand at the smoldering fire, putting it out, and returned his hand to Maria’s arm. He ran his fingers over her smooth skin, his mind racing. He shouldn’t be having thoughts like this. He shouldn’t be thinking about how good it felt to be holding her in his arms, or how incredibly peaceful she looked as she slept.

And he definitely knew he shouldn’t bury his nose in her hair.

He definitely shouldn’t press his lips lightly, ever so lightly, to the back of her neck.

But he did.

He tightened his arms around her, fighting with himself as he slowly let one hand drift to her stomach. Michael froze as she stirred again, mumbling something in her sleep, and then dropped her hand against his. Realizing she was still asleep, he let out his breath. It tickled through her hair and across the back of her neck.

Smiling to himself, Michael settled back down and shut his eyes, his thoughts filled with…Max. Wonderful. What’s up, Maxwell? he asked through their connection.

Michael, where the hell are you?

Good question. We got lost out here in the canyon.

Is and I have been trying to get in touch with you for hours, man. Jesse talked with someone at the visitor’s center. They’re sending a ranger out for you. Stay where you are.

Got it. Hey…thanks, man.


Michael sighed in relief, grateful that this mess would be over soon. And then he felt Maria’s hand twitch against his own, followed by another twitch lower in his body. What was going on with him? “Hey…ah, Maria?” He murmured into her ear. “Maria, wake up.”

Maria felt the warm breath tingling against her ear. “Maria…” Her eyes opened and she froze. Michael. Michael’s arms were around her…her hand was resting on his…she could feel him behind her…

She bolted upright, running her hand through her disheveled hair. “I’m up, I’m up,” she mumbled, her eyes avoiding contact with Michael’s.

“I, uh, I just got a connection with Max,” Michael started, equally uncomfortable. “They sent a ranger to come find us, so we’re supposed to sit tight here until they do.”

Maria nodded slowly. “Good. Okay.”

Michael got to his feet, brushing off his pants. “I’m just gonna…” He nodded to a patch of scrubby trees and cacti. “Yeah…”

“Say no more.” Maria rubbed her sore shoulder, pawing through her backpack for a bottle of water as Michael sauntered off to relieve himself. Oh god, great choice of words, DeLuca , she thought sourly. She had to have imagined it, him pressed up against her like that. There was no way…

Her eyes wandered across the canyon’s horizon. She saw no sign of a ranger coming to rescue them, but her gaze settled on something glinting in the sun. Curious, Maria stood and carefully picked her way through the tumbleweed. She stooped down and ran her finger along the shiny metal. It crinkled beneath the pressure, like aluminum foil, but when she pulled her hand away it unfurled into its’ original smoothness. Maria’s brows furrowed as she plucked it from the dust, turning it over in her hand. It was small, no bigger than a puzzle piece, and shaped much the same. Shrugging, she shoved it into her pocket and headed back to their things to wait.

*****

“Sounds like you two had quite a night,” the ranger noted as he maneuvered the jeep down the canyon toward the South Rim.

Maria choked on her orange juice, and Michael chewed thoughtfully on a powdered doughnut he’d gotten from the visitor center vending machine. “Hey man, we’re not in any kind of trouble, are we?”

The ranger glanced at him in his rearview mirror. “Nah. We’re just glad we were able to find you without too much trouble. You were only a couple miles out from the center.”

Michael threw a triumphant glance in Maria’s direction, but it was met with a death stare. He probably shouldn’t gloat any time soon. “Yeah, with the exception of a huge scorpion, we were totally fine,” Maria muttered.

“A scorpion?” The ranger’s eyes widened. “You didn’t say anything about a scorpion, did one of you get stung?”

“No, no,” Michael said quickly. “I, ah, I killed it.”

“You killed the scorpion?” He eyed Michael doubtfully. “How?”

“What can I say?” Michael chuckled uncomfortably. “Insects fear me.”

The ranger arched an eyebrow, nodding. “As long as you’re both okay.”

Michael and Maria nodded quickly. “Mm-hm, fine.”

Maria practically threw open the jeep door when they finally parked at the South Rim’s visitor center, racing to Max, Isabel, Jesse, and into Liz’s open arms.

“Oh my god Maria, we were so worried!” Liz cried, rocking her best friend back and forth in a huge hug.

Isabel approached Michael, who opened his arms in anticipation of a similar greeting. He was met with a smack upside the head. “Michael, what the hell were you thinking?” she screeched.

“Jesus, Is,” he muttered, rubbing his sore temple. “We got lost, okay? We didn’t mean for it to happen.”

“’We’?” Isabel scoffed. “Somehow I doubt Maria was too gung ho with the whole thing to begin with.”

Maria pulled away from Liz’s embrace. “Izzy, I wanted to go with him. It’s okay.” Her eyes met Michael’s, and she shrugged. Heck, it was true. And somehow, it was okay.





posted on 8-Feb-2002 2:51:45 PM by McGees
Authors Note: A little more candy for ya'll...but don't worry, it's a big night for Max and Liz too! I'll be back with that later...
BTW, the song of this section is definitely what I kept listening to while writing it - Got You Where I Want You by The Flys *tongue*

8a

“No.”

Liz stuck her lower lip out in an exaggerated pout. “Please?”

“The whole thing just gives me the creeps. I know you like doing it, but…I don’t really swing that way.” Max paused. “No pun intended.”

“Come on, Max. If you just try it once you’ll love it. I know you get jealous when you see me and Kyle doing it.”

“I don’t know if I’d call it jealousy.”

Liz reached into her bag and pulled out a red bandana. “What if I wear this?”

“You’ll look even more like a farmer.”

“I’m not going to wear it on my head,” Liz responded, dangling the small piece of fabric in front of him.

Max sighed and sat back. “I need more convincing.”

“You and your convincing,” Liz grinned, pecking the tip of his nose. “Well…it is the Fourth of July. I think we should make some fireworks of our own. After you do this for me.”

Shaking his head, Max couldn’t help but smile. “You’re bribing me with sex to go line dancing.”

Liz shrugged, pressing up against him. “What can I say? I’m shameless.”

*****

“I’m gonna take a shower,” Maria announced, stepping out of the camper and placing her shower supplies on the picnic table to grab an apple.

Liz glanced up from the table she and the rest of the crew were occupying. “You know what, I’ve gotta get one too. I’m gonna finish breakfast and I’ll be down there in a bit.”

Michael peered at Maria’s retreating form over the rim of his mug as she started down the trail. “You okay?” Max elbowed him.

“Hm? Yeah. Yeah.” Michael glanced at his friend. “Why?”

“I asked if you were being dragged line dancing at the lodge tonight,” Max repeated glumly. “Ow, hey!” He flinched as Liz kicked him under the table.

“Maria said she had no trouble convincing you, Michael,” she noted, looking at Max pointedly.

Michael shrugged. “Did I have a choice?”

Liz thought about this one, munching on her bagel. “Good point.” She glanced down at the bench. “Crap, Maria left her towel.”

“I’ll take it down there,” Michael offered quickly. “I, uh, I gotta get a shower anyway.”

“Um…okay.” Liz watched him in surprise as he snatched the purple terry cloth from her and made his way down the trail, a man clearly on a mission.

*****

Maria sighed in contentment, letting the warm water cascade down her back in thick rivulets. The cedar aromatherapy soap she’d gotten at a small shop in Flagstaff was working wonders.

She rinsed the conditioner out of her hair and was just about to shut off the water when she heard the door to the shower house open. “Liz, did you bring my towel?” she called hopefully. “I left it at the picnic table.” No answer. “Liz?”

The purple towel was slung up onto the rod of the curtain. “Thanks, chica,” Maria began, sliding the curtain back just slightly to poke her head around. “You’re the…” she trailed off in shock.

There, clad in only cotton shorts and sandals, stood Michael Guerin.

“Michael, what the hell are-“ She was cut off by Michael’s lips crushed against hers. He kissed her fervently, with an intensity that made Maria’s knees buckle.

“What…was that for?” Maria broke away breathlessly, bracing herself against the shower wall as one hand clutched the shower curtain.

He gazed at her intently, slowly running his tongue over his lips. “For making my mission a success.”

“Michael, are you crazy? You didn’t find-“ Michael cut her off again, and this time she responded in kind. After a moment she pulled away, cupping his face in her hand and staring deep into his eyes before abruptly yanking the curtain aside and pulling him under the stream of water with her.

The gravely groan from deep in Michael’s throat indicated that he didn’t mind getting his shorts wet as they continued their feverish kissing. His hands began to wander along her back, drifting to her hips and resting there as he slid his lips down her neck.

Maria arched her wet body toward his, feeling her nipples harden the instant they made contact with Michael’s chest. The sensation, paired with his gently nibbling and sucking along her neck, elicited a low moan.

He hugged her body to him as his lips returned to hers. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled between kisses, “if I’m being too forward. I just…”

“Mmm.” Maria’s mouth found his, kissing him hungrily. “No, don’t be sorry.”

“Okay,” he agreed easily, cupping both of her breasts in his large hands.

Maria writhed under his ministrations, gasping when he lifted her up to lock her legs around his waist. She could easily feel his arousal through the thin, wet material of his shorts, and the sensation made them groan in unison.

Bracing her against the shower wall and cupping her behind, Michael dipped his head to capture one erect nipple in his mouth. He rolled his tongue along the bud, encouraged by Maria panting his name.

“Michael…Michael, you’re gonna…make me…just by doing…that,” she gasped into his ear. He gazed into her hazy green eyes, capturing her lips in a long, passionate kiss, before letting her body slide back down to the ground. He groaned as she brushed his erection with her hot center, and grabbed her waist to steady himself.

His heart sped up again as his eyes swept over Maria’s nude body, chest heaving and glistening with warm water droplets. He’d seen her naked – well, mostly naked – before, but it had been a while, and her natural beauty continued to amaze him.

Maria could feel herself flushing under Michael’s intense gaze. “Michael…I-“

Michael’s finger rose to her lips, silencing her. “You are so beautiful,” he said in wonder. His lips replaced his finger, and after a moment he pulled away. He searched her face intently as he whispered, “Can I touch you?”

Maria stared at him, her body trembling with desire at the thought. “Yes,” she breathed. “Please.”

Their mouths met again, tongues dueling back and forth as Michael’s hands ran down the curves of her body. Maria shivered as Michael slid one between her legs, massaging her mound with the heel of his hand. Her back arched into him, and she cried out in delight as she felt one, then two or Michael’s fingers slide inside of her.

Michael moaned low in his throat as her walls tightened around his fingers, and he could feel the immediate flood as his thumb began circling her clit. Their bodies rocked together as he pleasured her, holding her up with one strong arm as the other performed magic on her aching center. Maria voiced her emotions loudly, moaning and crying out each time his thumb pinched or tugged at her swollen nub.

The sound, and the smell, and the feel were sending Michael into overload, and he eased away from her body just slightly, never slowing his rhythm. This was for her. It was all for Maria. He watched with interest as her head rolled back and forth, eyes clenching shut each time he brought her up. He massaged faster, her breathing came quicker, and then her eyes snapped open.

“Michael!” She screamed his name as she spasmed around his fingers and everything in her world exploded into a beautiful sunburst. Maria collapsed into Michael’s waiting arms, clinging to him as she waited for her ability to breath to return.

Liz stood in the shower house doorway, her mouth agape at what she had just heard. Maria and Michael were in the shower…together…and they had just… She shook her head in disbelief and quickly shut the door behind her as she raced back up the trail, not wanting them to know what she had walked in on. What in the world was going on with those two?

posted on 9-Feb-2002 2:40:17 AM by McGees
Author's Note: Welcome welcome to anyone just finding the story! Your feedback is wonderful! Here's a little more that I wanted to get posted because I had it done...I went out tonight and didn't get as far as I thought I would, but make sure you check back tomorrow for the next part...trust me on this one!

8b

“Are you staring at me?”

“Maybe.”

Maria arched her eyebrows skeptically as she finished lacing up the leather ties at the front of her shirt. “That’s a little disturbing, Petunia.”

“What’s disturbing is what I heard in the shower house this morning,” Liz said under her breath, unfolding her arms. “Hey, I can still borrow your boots, right?”

“Yeah, not a prob – wait, wait, back it up,” Maria demanded, locking eyes with her best friend. “How do you know what happened in here?”

Liz smiled sweetly. “So you admit it, then. When were you going to bring it up, I’ve been waiting all day!”

“You little sneak,” Maria groaned. “How much did you, uh, hear?”

“Enough,” Liz said simply, clearing her throat. “I believe it was something along the lines of ‘Ohhh Miiiicheal!’”

Maria blushed furiously at Liz’s dead on impression of her moan. “What were you doing coming in here?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” Liz replied, completely straight faced.

“Lizzie!” she cried, burying her face in her hands. “Listen, he…he brought me my towel, and-“

“If that’s how you thanked him, it’s a good thing I let him bring it instead of me,” Liz smirked.

Maria rolled her eyes. “I don’t know, one thing led to another, and…yeah.”

“Did you use protection?” Liz asked seriously.

“Liz! No! We didn’t have…” She paused, lowering her voice. “We didn’t have sex. God. He just…well, let’s just say Michael Guerin is pretty skilled with his hands.”

Liz nodded in amusement, adjusting her short denim mini. “Apparently. So is this the first time it happened, or did it start while you guys were in the canyon?”

“No! I mean, I don’t think so…” Maria trailed off, slipping on a pair of large hoop earrings and examining herself in the small mirror. “I mean, we’ve messed around in the past plenty of times, obviously, but this time he seemed totally focused on me.” She paused. “It was a little strange at first, actually. But…when I think about it, we’ve been getting along better in the last two days than we have been in months.” Maria applied a fresh layer of mango gloss and smacked her lips together. “Maybe it’s something in the water.”

“I’m glad you’re getting along so well,” Liz said sincerely, squeezing her best friend’s shoulder. “You both deserve to be happy.” She sized up their reflections and gave a low little whistle. “Let’s Tush Push circles around those guys.”

*****

“Okay, that’s…close. Right, forward, back, left, kick, swing, kick, hop,” Liz demonstrated, watching Max’s feet as he copied her movement. “And then do it over again, but facing the new direction.”

Max sighed. “I always forget to step back again and I end up running into the person next to me,” he muttered pitifully.

“No, no, you’ve almost got it,” Liz encouraged, tossing her long braid over her shoulder. “Watch me again.”

Max complied eagerly, watching his girlfriend’s mini-skirt, burgundy boot clad legs repeat the set. His eyes traveled upward, this time settling on the top she’d fashioned out of two red bandanas. He studied it, trying to figure out how she managed to knot the thing in front and twist it back so it held –

“Max. You’re not watching my feet,” Liz chided lightly, placing her hands on her hips.

“Right. Feet.” Max grinned, pulling her in for a quick kiss as the song ended. “I’m going to grab something to drink, do you want anything?”

“Water please!” she requested, pecking him lightly on the cheek. “Check up on Michael too, okay? I haven’t seen him out here for a while.”

Max weaved his way through the crowd on the floor of the lodge’s rustic lobby. He bought a bottled water and a Cherry Coke, and then sidled over to the table Michael was occupying. “I’m not really into this stuff either,” Max commented, pulling up a seat beside his friend. “I mean, it’s not that I can’t dance,” he quickly defended himself. “I’d just rather be dancing with Liz instead of next to her and some guy in spurs and a cowboy hat.”

“Doesn’t Maria look hot?”

Max coughed on his soda, following Michael’s gaze out to the floor where Maria and Liz were laughing as they did the Electric Slide. “Uh…yeah, Michael, she looks good,” he confirmed, stirring his straw in circles.

“We made out.”

“I kind of figured when the two of you came back from the shower together. Not to mention the, ah, little love bite adorning Maria’s neck,” Max noted, resisting the urge to laugh. “So I guess this is why you haven’t been pissed off at coming back from the North Rim without finding anything?”

“I guess so,” Michael answered absently, reaching over to take a sip of Max’s drink.

And then a familiar song began to play. Max smiled to himself. This one always reminded him of Liz, even before they got close, even before he knew how truly amazed he would be. He got to his feet just as they were approached by Liz and Maria.

Every time our eyes meet
This feeling inside me
Is almost more than I can take


“May I have this dance?” Liz asked coyly, holding out her hand to Max.

Max grinned and accepted, and as he led Liz out onto the floor, he noticed that Michael and Maria were joining hands as well. He settled his arms around Liz’s body, pulling her close to him.

Baby when you touch me
I can feel how much you love me
And it just blows me away


Liz gazed up at him, her eyes full of love. She rested one hand on his chest, just over his heart, while the other strayed up to caress the back of his neck. Her fingers slid into the dark hair that curled there, and she knew she was willingly losing herself in the deep pools of his amber eyes.

I’ve never been this close to anyone or anything
I can hear your thoughts
I can see your dreams


Max’s eyes ran over Liz’s face, memorizing each and every delicate feature that he was graced by. Her long lashes fanned over her dark eyes each time she blinked, brushing the smooth skin he longed to taste. Slowly, ever so slowly, he leaned in and kissed her tenderly before tilting his chin and fluttering his lips against her jaw, her cheeks, her nose, her eyelids, and her forehead.

I don’t know how you do what you do
I’m so in love with you
It just keeps getting better


Liz shivered as his warm breath swept over her face. “Max,” she murmured, “Let’s go somewhere…”

“The fireworks are about to start,” he reminded her, pressing a kiss to the outer shell of her ear.

“I know.” Liz captured Max’s mouth in hers, kissing him with intoxicating passion.

I wanna spend the rest of my life with you by my side

Max grabbed Liz’s hand, and they practically ran past Michael and Maria and then Isabel and Jesse. He offered them a quick wave as Liz pulled him toward the exit.

Every little thing you do
Baby I’m amazed by you





[ edited 1 time(s), last at 9-Feb-2002 2:43:30 AM ]
posted on 9-Feb-2002 10:51:21 PM by McGees
9

Max’s fingers entwined with Liz’s as he led her up the dim path, a blanket folded under his other arm. He surveyed the tiny clearing, nestled between a patch of trees, that had a view of the canyon through the branches.

“How does this-“ He trailed off as Liz’s mouth engulfed his. She kissed him deeply, pressing her body close to his. He dropped the blanket and framed her face in his hands, plunging his tongue into her mouth and exploring her hungrily.

The strands in your eyes that color them wonderful
Stop me and steal my breath


“Mmm…let’s…let’s lie down,” Liz suggested between kisses.

Max nodded, brushing a strand of hair from her eyes as he kicked off his shoes and spread the blanket out. He watched with avid interest as Liz bent to unzip her boots and slowly stepped out of them. She then sank to her knees before him, running her hands over his broad shoulders.

Emeralds from mountains
Thrust toward the sky
Never revealing their depth


Liz let out a soft sigh as Max reached up to caress her face, his thumb tracing gentle circles over her cheek. Turning her head slightly, Liz placed a kiss on his palm, and then shifted so she could slide her body prone on the blanket beneath him.

Max leaned over her, and his breath hitched as he gazed down at the beautiful creature before him, her face flushed with desire and her lips swollen with his love. He swallowed hard as Liz reached up and began unbuttoning the front of his pale blue linen shirt, trailing her fingers over the newly exposed skin as if it was the first time she’d touched it.

Tell me that we belong together
Dress it up with the trappings of love


“You’re on fire,” Liz murmured, watching her fingers run across his bare chest in wonder. His flesh seared her with a liquid heat she’d never known before, prompting her to push his shirt from his shoulders and him to lower himself onto her body.

I’ll be captivated
I’ll hang from your lips


“I need to taste you,” he whispered between kisses. Liz rolled her head to the side as his lips made a scorching path down her neck, across her collarbone, and over the swell of her breasts, still confined by the fabric. His tongue slipped beneath it, leaving a moist trail until he reached the valley between them. Max tugged at the knot with his teeth and Liz gasped as it came undone, falling away and exposing her to Max’s wanting mouth.

The combination of Max’s warm tongue laving at her nipple and his insistent arousal pressing into her thigh prompted a low moan from deep in Liz’s throat. She ran her hands along his firm sides, reaching between them to busy herself with the zipper of his khakis.

Max’s breath hissed between his lips as he felt her hand against his erection. He licked his way back up to Liz’s neck, suckling gently as he slid the side zipper of her skirt down and reached into the fabric to caress her outer thigh.

A sudden explosion of light overhead signaled the beginning of the fireworks, but neither Max nor Liz seemed to notice the brilliant display of color, as lost in one another as they were. Smiling down at Max, Liz reached up and released her hair from its fastening. He raised his hand, brushing out the braid with his fingers so it would cascade over her shoulders and onto his chest.

I’ll be your crying shoulder
I’ll be love suicide
I’ll be better when I’m older
I’ll be the greatest fan of your life


Max grinned mischievously then, sliding his fingers down and under the strings of Liz’s panties. “You’re always so soft.”

Liz returned his smile as she reached into his boxers. “So are you,” she whispered huskily, wrapping her hand around his erection. She slid up and down, marveling at the feel of silk encasing steel.

“Ah…god…” Max hissed out, his eyes closing at the delicious feeling of Liz’s tiny hand grasping him.

You’re my survival
You’re my living proof
My love is alive and not dead


A sizzling sound filled the air and caught Liz’s attention momentarily. “The fireworks started,” she murmured, removing her hand and helping him slide the khakis and boxers over his hips.

“Mm-hmm,” he groaned, flipping them over so he could fully remove her skirt and panties. The sky lit up again, bathing Liz’s face in a brilliant purple, and Max gazed at her in awe. Her breathtaking features seemed to glow, shimmering in the bursts of light surrounding them. There was something, something…he had never seen her look more beautiful.

Tell me that we belong together
Dress it up with the trappings of love


“Max,” she whispered, her eyes wide and bright with passion. “Make love to me.”

I’ll be captivated
I’ll hang from your lips


He traced his finger along the outline of her lips, sighing as she captured his finger into a gentle kiss. “Please, Max,” she whispered, her breath coming in shallow pants.

Max’s eyes never left hers, so entranced as he was, as he guided himself to her aching center. “I love you,” he breathed, his voice breaking as he slipped inside of her.

I’ll be your crying shoulder
I’ll be love suicide
I’ll be better when I’m older
I’ll be the greatest fan of your life


Almost instantly, Liz felt herself tighten, pulling him, pulling him closer to her core. A wave of pure need rolled through her body, making her desperate for him. “Max…” she moaned, her body shaking with an unyielding desire to be filled with him.

Max felt as if all of the air in his body had been sucked from his being, replaced with a hunger so wanton that it was almost palpable. His heart slammed against his chest as he buried himself, Liz’s warm folds enveloping him completely.

I’ve been dropped out, burned up
Fought my way back from the dead


They moved together, their bodies performing a languid dance as their senses heightened. Liz could hear her heart roaring in her ears, and then felt not one but two speeding beats echo through her body. Max devoured her lips, thrusting in and out of Liz with such satisfying friction that he thought he might pass out from the sensation.

Tuned in, turned on
Remembered the things that you said


“Max…oh god…Max,” Liz’s cries escaped from beneath his lips, signaling the nearing of her release. He pulled her body into his, cradling her and pressing his lips to her forehead as they rocked together. “Max…ohhh…something’s happening,” she gasped as the climax began to overtake her.

I’ll be your crying shoulder

And then the most powerful release Max had ever experienced took hold of his body. “Liz…love…” he choked out, clinging to her as she milked him over and over again.

I’ll be love suicide

Her body was on fire, her insides coated with him, burning up into her with such fevered intensity that she actually blacked out momentarily. It was the exhilarating explosion from inside their joined bodies that jolted her, collapsing Max onto her trembling form.

I’ll be better when I’m older

A brilliant light flashed between them, then disappeared and left them clinging to one another in awe.

I’ll be the greatest fan of your life

“Are you…okay…” Max gasped finally, pressing his hands to the sides of her glistening face.

Liz nodded silently, sucking in a deep breath and staring up at him in wonder. “That…was the most amazing thing I’ve ever felt,” she breathed.

“I know,” he murmured his agreement, tucking her damp hair behind her ear and leaving a feathery kiss on her lips.

The greatest fan of your life…

Closing her eyes, Liz tried to slow her thundering heartbeat. She felt a warm glow settle throughout her body, basking in a love that was so strong it was nearly tangible.


*lyrical credit to Edwin McCain, I'll Be


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 9-Feb-2002 10:55:42 PM ]
posted on 10-Feb-2002 6:53:55 PM by McGees
Author's Note: Thank you thank you THANK YOU for your feedback! Sorry this is a little short, but I wanted to finish off this part of the story before we launch into the next happenings...I've really excited about it, so please check back soon.

9b

“Can’t you see…I’m at your fee-eet…”

Michael joined in with Isabel, who was cruising the Winnebego down Route 40 just outside of Albuquerque at about twenty five miles above the speed limit as she blasted Shakira from the stereo.

“Whenever, wherever…we’re meant to be together…I’ll be there and you’ll be nee-ear…” Michael adopted an incredibly nasal quality to his voice for this last part, which caused Jesse to burst into laughter from the passenger seat.

“You guys are hilarious,” he commented over the music. “It’s about time you learn to appreciate Shakira. I had a thing for her all through college before she crossed over and went mainstream,” he gushed. “My roomie and I had this poster of her on a beach wearing-“


“Lucky that my lips not only mumble, they spill kisses like a fountain…” Isabel glanced at her husband pointedly and arched an eyebrow as she and Michael sang the next line. “Lucky that my breasts are small and humble, so you don’t confuse them with mountains.”

Jesse bit his lip, surveying his well-endowed wife. “Sorry, dear.”

Maria groaned loudly from where she was seated next to Michael. “No more!” she moaned, covering her ears. “This is getting ridiculous. You promised Fiona Apple after the last song.”

Michael stopped his “le do le le le”-ing for a moment and glanced at her. “Fiona Apple is a spiteful bitch. Put on your headphones.”

Maria glared at him and flopped back against the seat, crossing her arms over her chest. “Thank you, I will. Ass.”

In the back of the RV, Liz grinned up at Max from where she lay with her head in his lap. “Tell me one more time…that you’ll live…lost in my eyes,” she mouthed.

“Hey, should we stop for lunch here in Albuquerque or just wait until we get back to Roswell?” Isabel asked, glancing in the rearview mirror at her friends.

“Oh, we should stop at this great café just off the UNM campus,” Jesse suggested. “I used to stop there when I got out of court early. Maria, you’ll love this place, you’re never gonna want to eat on campus,” he continued.

Michael glanced at Maria, who slowly slid off her headphones. Would she say anything? He reached over and squeezed her hand. “Just tell them,” he whispered.

Maria nodded. “Um, about that,” she began. “I’m actually not going to school up here.”

“But what about that music program you were so excited about?” Max asked.

Closing her eyes for a moment, Maria sighed. “Yeah. I didn’t get the scholarship. So now I’m going to Southern.”

“With me,” Isabel added, the smile returning to her face. “That’s cool, Maria.”

Maria nodded weakly, and Michael slid his arm around her shoulders. “So I think we should grab something to eat at the Crashdown when we get back,” he declared, giving Maria a comforting squeeze.

*****

“Home again, home again,” Max murmured, leaning down to Liz’s ear.

“Mmm.” Liz yawned and shifted in Max’s lap, looking up at him with a slow smile. “Did I fall asleep?”

“You did.”

She struggled to her feet, stretching, and nearly lost her balance. Max grabbed her arms, steadying her.

“Hey, are you okay?” he chuckled lightly.

Liz nodded. “Yeah. I didn’t realize how tired I was,” she explained. They followed Isabel and Jesse out of the camper and into the back of the Crashdown, where Michael and Maria were already talking to her parents.

“Lizzie!” Nancy Parker excused herself and wrapped her daughter in a big hug. “We missed you, sweetie! How was the trip?”

“Hi Mom,” Liz smiled, returned the hug. “It was great. The canyon was even more beautiful that I remembered it.”

“A whole roll of film beautiful?” Jeff Parker quizzed, coming up behind his wife with a grin. “Welcome home, sweetheart.”

“Daddy,” Liz grinned. “Yeah, I took almost three full rolls in the last week.”

“Oh, that reminds me!” Isabel spoke up. “We need a post-trip picture.”

“Iz, we’re starving here,” Michael groaned, looking longingly at a burger plate waiting to be served.

Isabel waved him off. “It’ll just take a second.”

They trooped back out to the Winnebego just as a small red car pulled up. “Hello, hello!” chirped Amy DeLuca, hopping out and holding her arms out to her daughter.

Maria hugged her mother tightly. “Mom, what are you doing here?”

“Welcoming my favorite daughter home,” Amy exclaimed, then grinned mischievously. “Well, that and meeting Jim for a late lunch. I figured you can take the Jetta home whenever you’re ready.”

Maria nodded knowingly. “Sounds like a plan.”

“Okay, everybody, gather around the Winnie,” Jeff directed, holding up Liz’s camera.

The six road trippers crowded in front of it. Despite being tired, hungry, and in need of a shower, they all grinned happily. Isabel threw her arms around her husband, Max and Liz’s hands linked together, and this time, Michael hugged Maria close to his side.

“Say cheeseburger!”



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Feb-2002 6:58:25 PM ]
posted on 11-Feb-2002 5:55:27 PM by McGees
10

“What can I get for you this morning, Kyle Valenti?”

“A stack of blueberry pancakes and a side of sausage,” Kyle declared with a grin. “And make it snappy, DeLuca. I ain’t got all day.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Or else what. Toby’ll fire your ass? That’s not the worst thing that could happen, you know.”

“True. But it’s the only job I got.” He paused, glancing around the Crashdown. “So where’s Liz? Doesn’t she open with you on Wednesdays?”

Sighing, Maria scribbled down his order. “I’m flying solo right now. Liz came down with the flu or something. She’s been in the back puking every five minutes.”

Kyle grimaced. “Good to know. Hey, make sure she doesn’t touch my food or anything, okay? Germs.”

“Right-o.” Maria headed back to the kitchen to put in his order just as Liz emerged from the bathroom. “Hey, babe, are you okay?”

Liz nodded, patting at her pale cheeks. “Yeah. Yeah. I must have come down with something.”

“Hopefully only a twenty four hour thing,” Maria mused. “Hey, do you want me to call somebody to take your shift? It’s not too busy, but if you’re not up to working this morning-“

“No, I’m fine,” Liz insisted, tying her apron around her waist. “I think it passed, I’m feeling a lot better.” She flashed Maria a weak smile to prove her point.

“If you’re sure…” Maria said doubtfully. “Just so you know, you have specific orders not to touch Kyle’s food.”

Liz laughed, brightening her face a little more. “What a dork. I’ll make sure I spit in his drink.” She made her way out into the café and behind the counter to assist a customer wanting to pay. Once that was taken care of, she sidled over to Kyle’s booth, making a face at him.

“Hey Liz. I hear you’ve been bowing down to the porcelain god. Busy night?”

Liz stuck her tongue out. “Not quite. I was passed out by nine. And not from drinking, punk,” she added.

The bell above the door tinkled, and Liz looked up to see Max stepping into the café. He made a beeline toward the booth, taking Liz by the waist and kissing her cheek. “Morning, babe.”

“Good morning, sweetness,” Kyle cooed, batting his lashes at Max. He paused, faking a pout. “Oh. You weren’t talking to me, were you?”

Max grinned. “No, but I will sit with you if it’s okay.”

“Only if we can play footsie.”

“Kyle, quit putting the moves on my man,” Liz said with a calm roll of her eyes. “Max, what are you having this morning?”

Max grinned again, this time with a mischievous glint in his caramel eyes. “How about my waitress?”

“Nice try, buddy,” Liz blushed. “How about your usual?”

“I don’t know, Max, I wouldn’t get too close,” Kyle spoke up. “Unless you guys think it’s romantic to share germs too or something.”

Max looked up at Liz questioningly, and Liz waved her hand nonchalantly. “It’s nothing. My stomach was just a little upset.” She shot a quick look at Kyle and then smiled. “Okay, shouldn’t take too long. I’ll be right back.”

*****

“Want a Snapple?”

“Hook me up, Spaceboy,” Maria said, leaning against the counter in Michael’s kitchen. “So where’s Max tonight?”

Michael tossed her a bottle of Raspberry Peach and shrugged. “Working, I guess.”

“Hm.” Maria nodded and twisted the cap, taking a swig of juice. “Interesting.”

“Interesting?” Michael repeated with an arch of his eyebrow. “Max always works Wednesday nights, how is that interesting?”

Hopping up on the counter and swinging her legs, Maria made a face. “I don’t mean Max is interesting. I mean it’s interesting that he’s not here.”

Michael grabbed a Snapple for himself and kicked the refrigerator closed. “Is there a point to this conversation?”

Maria sighed. “Yes, Michael. Look, we’ve been home for almost three weeks now, and we really haven’t had a chance to talk.”

Now it was Michael’s turn to sigh. He hated when Maria got that tone in her voice, the ‘we need to talk’ tone. “Yeah, I guess we haven’t.”

“Listen, Michael,” she began. “I’m not looking for a big drawn out conversation about whatever it was that happened between us up there. But I want to know one thing.”

Michael nodded slowly. “Shoot.”

Maria looked up at him, chewing on her lower lip. “What did you mean when you said I made your mission a success. You know, when you came to the shower house and we-“

“Yeah, I know,” Michael interrupted. “I meant exactly what I said.”

“Care to elaborate?”

Michael paused for a minute, thinking about the realizations he’d had during the trip. The fact that Maria was right. That what he was looking for was right in front of him…and that it took making an idiot of himself to realize it. And he told her so.

Maria gazed at him seriously. “Michael, what are you saying?”

Raising his eyes to meet hers, he slowly made his way across the kitchen to her. “I’m saying thank you. Thank you for never giving up on me, even when you probably wanted to. And for…for loving me. Thank you.”

Smiling up at him, Maria blinked back tears. “Thank you for letting me,” she whispered.

There’s a song that’s inside of my soul
It’s the one that I’ve tried to write
Over and over again


And then Michael descended on her. He kissed her deeply, nestling his body between her legs.

I’m awake in the infinite cold
But you sing to me
Over and over again


Maria braced herself with one arm, while the other hand wandered up and tangled in his shaggy hair. She could feel him pressing up against her, and his tongue’s thorough exploration of her mouth was making her dizzy with desire. “Mmm…Michael…let’s go to your bed,” she suggested breathlessly.

Michael hoisted her off the counter, and she wrapped her legs around his waist, never breaking their kiss as he groped through the hallway to his bedroom. He laid her on his bed gently, straddling her body with his knees and gazing down at her for a moment.

So I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours


“I do need you, Maria,” he murmured. “And I…I don’t just mean physically. I need you in my life.”

Maria bit her lip, flushed and wanting. “Do you…do you have something?”

“Have something?” Michael repeated. “Oh. Oh! Yeah. I…I do.” He reached into his bedside table and fumbled around for a moment before retrieving a condom package. He shrugged lightly. “You never know. You know?”

I pray to be only yours
I know now you’re my only hope


They undressed one another slowly, lovingly, placing warm kisses on newly exposed skin. “I love you, Maria,” Michael whispered.

Reaching up to touch his face, Maria smiled. “I love you too.”

Sing to me the song of the stars
Of your galaxy dancing and laughing again


Michael nodded mutely, closing his eyes at the glory of having Maria’s warm, soft body beneath his. He let out a low, gravely moan as Maria led him to her center. They gasped in unison at the feeling of him entering her body slowly, slowly…

When it feels like my dreams are so far
Sing to me of the plans
That you have for me over again


Pausing, Michael gazed down at her and smoothed her hair from her forehead. “Are you sure?”

Shifting slightly to adjust to him, Maria nodded. “I’m sure.” They held eye contact as he entered her completely, filling her to the hilt. Michael’s lips captured hers as he began a slow rhythm, building until Maria moaned beneath his kiss. “Oh my god…Michael…”

He froze, staring at her in concern, and Maria moaned again. “No, don’t stop,” she pleaded. “It feels so good.”

Michael sighed in relief and got back to work, the beads of perspiration building on his forehead.

I give you my apathy
I’m giving you all of me


Both climaxes began building quickly after that, washing over them in waves of passion that left Maria crying out and Michael sobbing her name over her.

I want your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs
I’m giving it back


When it was over, Michael rolled off of her and gazed down into Maria’s flushed face. “Thank you,” he whispered again, stroking her cheek, “for showing me the way home.”

I pray to be only yours
I know now you’re my only hope


*****

Liz rolled over, groaning. This was the third morning in a row she’d been awakened by the churning in her stomach. At least she didn’t have to work Saturday mornings, she reminded herself as she staggered to the bathroom.

After retching into the toilet several times, Liz flushed and went to the sink to wash her face. She gazed at her sallow reflection in the mirror, reaching up to run her finger over her cheek. She jumped back slightly. That was strange. She could have sworn there was a faint glowing trail left behind from her finger. Liz blinked and looked close. She was imagining things. “Wonderful,” she mumbled. “Now you’re hallucinating, too.”

“Lizzie?” Nancy’s voice drifted through the door. “Honey, are you okay?”

Opening the door, Liz stood face to face with her concerned mother. “Yeah, Mom. I’m fine.”

“You’re up early for a Saturday,” she noted skeptically.

Liz shrugged. “I just, ah, had to go to the bathroom. I’m fine, Mom.” She reached up and kissed her mother’s cheek, then stepped around her and made her way back to her bed.

“Okay, sweetie. Breakfast will be ready in about twenty minutes.” Nancy cast one more look at her daughter and then shut the bedroom door.

Liz fought the urge to gag at the thought of food. She shook her head to try and clear the dizziness, and then went to her desk. Shuffling through several items, she found the small calendar and began flipping through it.

“Oh my god,” Liz gasped, dropping the calendar as if it had burned her. No, no, no, she chanted to herself. That wasn’t possible.

She reached gingerly for the phone, dialing Michael’s number and praying he wouldn’t answer.

“Hello?”

Max. Thank god. “It’s Liz,” she said quickly. “Max, I need to talk to you.”

“Morning, love. Is everything okay?”

Liz closed her eyes, twisting the phone cord around her finger. “I just have to ask you about something.”

“Okay, sure. I have to work at eight, but I’ll be done by two. Can I pick you up then?”

Blinking back tears, she took a deep breath. “Yeah, Max. That’s fine.” Liz replaced the receiver with shaking hands, and then sunk to her bed in disbelief.

She was late.


lyrical credit goes to Switchfoot, Only Hope

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 11-Feb-2002 7:41:14 PM ]
posted on 13-Feb-2002 12:41:52 AM by McGees
Author's Note: Just for the record, part 10 was most definitely the 'first time' for my M&M (just another one of those points of 'if I feel like acknowledging it' in the disclaimer!) Also, Southern New Mexico University isn't actually in Roswell. But for the purposes of this story, it is. AND, please let me know what you think about this part...I'm definitely needing some feedback!

11

Max took Liz’s hand, leading her through the entrance of the cave. “Okay, so what is it that you wanted to talk about?” He turned to her, taking her other hand in his and smiling brightly. “You were awfully quiet on the way here.”

“Max…” Liz trailed off, suddenly very afraid to voice her suspicion.

His grin faded quickly, and he gazed at her intently. “Liz. What’s going on?” His grip on her hands tightened, and she suddenly felt the jolt of their connection. The last few weeks flooded into his mind; the intense connection they felt that night at the Canyon, Liz getting sick to her stomach just before he stopped by the Crashdown, Liz flipping anxiously through the calendar at her desk, the fear as she whispered those two words.

I'm late.

Pulling her hands from his vice grip, Liz stumbled back against the cave wall and slid down to the floor. Max stared at her, shocked, and searched her face in disbelief.

Liz’s words echoed over and over again in his head as he silently paced the floor of the cave for a few minutes. “Max,” she spoke up quietly. “Could you stop doing that, please?”

“I’m sorry, baby,” he said, rushing to sit down beside her. He clasped her small hand in his, staring deep into her frightened eyes. “It’s just…my god. Liz…I…I honestly didn’t think this was possible.”

“I know, Max, the birth control-“

“No, that’s not what I mean. I…I just thought the birth control was for your piece of mind. Liz, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to have children…with you.” He rubbed his hands over his face. “I didn’t know how any of this worked.” There was a long pause, and then Max spoke again. “Can I…” he trailed off, his hand resting near her stomach.

She nodded silently, moving her arms aside so that he could touch her. Her eyes widened as a faint glow began to appear at his fingertips. In an unspoken agreement, Liz lay back onto the cave floor. She closed her eyes as she felt Max’s gentle fingers ease her shirt up several inches, and nearly gasped at the warmth she felt radiating from her womb.

“Liz.” His voice was a hushed murmur and his eyes clouded in wonder at what he saw.

It was all she needed to hear to know the truth. She could feel the tears welling up in her eyes, spilling over onto her cheeks and down into her hair as Max slowly pulled her shirt back down.

He helped her back up into a sitting position, his heart sinking as he saw her tears. “Oh, Liz…love…” He raised his palms to her cheeks, running his thumbs over her tear tracks.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered, her eyes unable to meet his.

“Sorry?” he repeated. He lifted her chin, forcing eye contact. “Liz, you have just made me the happiest man on the earth.”

Liz shook her head in disbelief. “Happy? Max, what are you talking about? We can’t have a baby now, I mean, our futures are-“

“You are my future, Liz Parker. Don’t you know that by now? You are my life.” His eyes searched hers, trying to convey the depth of his love for her. For this amazing woman who was carrying his child. Their child.

That single thought rang in both of their minds, echoing through their hearts. Their child. A wave of emotion rushed over Max, prompting him to his feet. He gazed down at her, overwhelmed nearly to the point of tears at what he was about to do.

Liz’s eyes never left his as he slowly, deliberately sunk to one knee before her. “Liz, you…you are the reason I was brought here. My love for you knows no boundaries on this earth or any other. Elizabeth Marie Parker, would you make me the happiest man in the universe? Will you marry me?”

Liz gaped at him in shock for a moment as the words registered, then flung her arms around him and buried her face in his neck. “Yes,” she breathed.

Max grabbed her around the waist then and kissed her with an intensity that drove them both back onto the ground. He broke away and gazed at her adoringly. “I love you,” he whispered before slowly leaning down to place a tender kiss on her stomach. “And I love you.” He lifted his face toward Liz, whose eyes were shining with tears. “Both of you. Always.”

*****

“Hook me up with a veggie burger, Spaceboy,” Maria said, thrusting her paper plate toward the grill.

“One veggie burger for the Blondie.” Michael expertly flipped a burger over the grill and landed it on her plate with a splat.

“Nice one,” Maria complimented, leaning over to share a sweet kiss with him. She stepped into the kitchen from the small patio and added a bun, a scoop of potato salad, and a slice of watermelon to her plate before making her way into Isabel and Jesse’s family room and settling into a recliner.

Max and Liz were huddled together on the couch, talking quietly. “Lizzie?” Maria spoke up. “Aren’t you going to eat?”

They both looked up, noticing for the first time that they had company in the room. “I’m not hungry,” Liz said firmly.

“Liz,” Max continued, his eyes pleading. “You’ve got to eat, love. At least have some of what’s on my plate.”

Michael, Jesse, and Isabel wandered in then, and Liz was tired of arguing. She sighed and reached gingerly for the burger in front of them. She took a bite and began to chew, looking at Max pointedly.

“Liz!” Maria gasped. “Oh my God, Max doused that in almost half a bottle of Tabasco, I saw him!”

Swallowing, Liz looked up at her blankly. She hadn’t even noticed.

“Does this have anything to do with why you wanted to talk to all of us tonight?” Isabel asked quietly, settling onto the floor beside her husband.

“I had to get off work,” Michael reminded them from where he was sitting on the arm of the recliner with Maria.

“Yeah, Michael, I know. And we appreciate it.” Max looked from face to face. “We have something very important to tell you.” He turned to Liz, who clearly did not want to make the announcement, and laced his fingers through hers. “Liz is pregnant. With my child.”

For a moment the only sound was the clattering of forks on plates. Maria’s jaw dropped. “What?” she squawked.

“We were surprised, too,” Max said quietly, holding Liz’s hand tightly in his. She remained silent beside him, staring down at her lap. “You guys are the first to know.”

“Shit, Maxwell,” Michael breathed. “Are you sure?”

Both nodded quickly, and Maria’s eyes widened. “Oh my God…Lizzie, that’s why you were getting so sick last week,” she connected. “I thought Michael was undercooking the meat,” she admitted, ignoring Michael’s dirty look.

“But how do you know for sure?” Jesse continued. “Have you been to a doctor?”

“Not - not yet,” Liz finally spoke up. “We just…we know.”

“How?” Michael demanded. “How is this even possible?”

“We felt it…when it happened,” Max said slowly. “And…” Looking Liz in the eye, he opened their connection and asked her permission to show them what they had first seen at the cave the day before.

Liz said nothing, but scooted forward on the couch and slowly pulled her shirt up several inches. Max pressed his hand to her flat stomach, and almost instantaneously it began to glow.

“It never did that before,” Max offered needlessly. He moved it a bit, and the small space between his hand and her womb began to radiate, the same way sunlight reflects on hot pavement in the summertime. Even when he removed his hand completely, the faint outline remained. Then, as they all watched in awe, a tiny glow appeared inside his handprint.

“Oh my God,” Maria repeated. “You really are…”

Isabel, who had been silent the entire time, suddenly jumped to her feet and mumbled something about needing air as she hurried out of the room.

Max and Michael exchanged a look as Jesse got up to go after his wife. She had been too quiet. This didn’t look good.

Jesse found Isabel on their small patio, braced against the railing as her body shook with sobs.

“Izzy…hey…” he soothed, stroking her back.

She spun around in his arms, clinging to him. “Jesse, do you know what this means?” she cried, not waiting for an answer. “It means we can have a family. That I can…I can give you a child.”

Jesse sighed with relief as he pulled his wife against his chest, realizing these were tears of joy, not fear or anger. “Oh, Iz…”

“I was so afraid, Jesse,” she whispered. “I thought that was something I would never be able to give you.”

“But Iz, I want you to understand that even if you couldn’t-“

“You’re not happy?” Isabel looked up at him, her lower lip trembling.

“Iz, of course I am!” he chuckled, stroking her hair. “But I don’t want you to put too much pressure on yourself right away. We – we don’t know if it’s safe. Max and Liz seem terrified.”

Isabel sighed. “I – I know. But everything will work out.” Isabel knew her brother. And she knew that, despite facing the unknown, he was thrilled. Having a child with Liz was a dream he thought he would never know. Even though there would be challenges, if anyone could handle it, it was Max and Liz. She smiled at her husband. “Come on, let’s go back in. They deserve a congratulations.”

Jesse and Isabel returned to their family room hand in hand, and Isabel swooped to the couch to embrace Liz and Max in hugs. She sat back on her heels, clasping one of their hands in each of hers. “I’m so happy for you,” she whispered, a watery smile crossing her face. “You two are amazing.”

“Thanks, Izzy.” Max kissed the top of her head.

Michael, on the other hand, was still staring at them doubtfully. “I hate to ruin this happy moment, but things seem a little more complicated than that. You realize this kid will be half human, half alien, don’t you?”

Isabel shot him a dirty look. “So are we!”

“No,” Michael shook his head, “That is not the same thing. Liz is the first human we know of to have ever been pregnant with an alien’s child. And, I mean, we saw what happened with Tess-“

“Michael, shut up!” Maria cried.

“Do not start,” Max warned, his voice low, even. “This is completely different.”

“Listen, man, I’m just trying to get you to see how serious this is. “

“I know, Michael,” Liz spoke up gently. “I know this isn’t fair to the rest of you, and I’m so sorry. But…it happened, and I hope we can stick together like we have in the past. I – we – really need you right now,” she said quietly, addressing them all.

“Oh, Lizzie.” Maria flew to Liz’s side, wrapping her in a tight hug. “We will be here for you. All of us will do whatever we can to help,” she added, looking at Michael pointedly. “So…so wait. You’re supposed to go to school in less than a month, Liz. What are you going to do?”

Liz and Max glanced at each other. “Max asked me to marry him, and I said yes.”

“Oh my God!” Maria squealed again, this time clapping her hands together with excitement. “Married?”

“We’re going to find a place to live, and we’ll start first semester here at Southern New Mexico University with you guys,” Max said. “But…from there, we’re really not sure yet. We have to play everything by ear, because we don’t know what to expect.”

“Max,” Isabel said suddenly. “You haven’t talked to Mom and Dad yet, have you?”

Both Max and Liz shook their heads solemnly. “That’s the other thing we wanted to talk to you about,” Max said quietly. “We have to decide how much to tell them.”

*****

Maria scrubbed the dishes in the Ramirez’s kitchen sink distractedly, gazing out the kitchen window into the night. The secret, the real secret, would remain between them, for now. But Maria couldn’t help but worry about her best friend. She didn’t know what she would do if something happened to Liz because she was carrying Max’s child. No. She couldn’t think that way…

Quietly, Michael crept up behind her and settled his arms around her. “Hey.”

“Hey,” she said, tossing the sponge into the sink. “How are things going out there?”

“I needed a break,” he admitted, burying his face in her hair. “Maria?” he asked suddenly.

“Hm?”

“Did you…you know…feel anything…that night?”

Maria craned her neck to look up at Michael. “Well yeah, I felt something.”

Michael looked at her in horror, and she quickly continued. “You mean, what Liz and Max felt when the baby was conceived?”

“Yeah…” he said uncomfortably.

“No. I didn’t,” she assured quietly. “Wait…did you?”

“No, no,” he said quickly. “I just…I wanted to make sure.”

Maria simply nodded, leaning back into his arms in the dim kitchen for a long while as he gently rocked them back and forth.

*****

Max and Liz sat side by side on the Parker’s living room couch, hands clenched together as they met the concerned faces of both sets of their parents. Liz took a deep breath, holding their gazes steadily. “Max and I are going to have a baby.”

Philip and Diane Evans both went pale, as did Jeff Parker, but Nancy Parker sat calmly. Call it motherly instinct, but in her heart, she knew this was what today’s talk would be about.

“You can’t be serious,” Philip began, the color finally returning to his face in an angry crimson.

“You’re supposed to start college in three weeks,” Diane reasoned, as if this fact would make them stop and take back what Liz had just said.

But it was the look on Jeff’s face that hurt them both the most as he addressed Liz. “I trusted you,” he said, his voice low, before turning to Max. “And I gave you a second chance.”

To Max, this was a good as a swift punch in the stomach. “I – I know, sir,” he said quietly. “But I’m not going to let Liz down.” His dark eyes shone with emotion as he met Mr. Parker’s stare head on. “I would be honored if you would give me the blessing to marry your daughter.”

“Hold on just a minute, young man,” Philip burst out.

“Phil, wait,” Diane said, taking her husband’s arm. “He’s trying to do the right thing.”

“I think it’s a little too late for that,” Jeff retorted. “Max, what makes you think for one second that I should give you my permission to marry Liz?”

Liz started to speak up, but Max squeezed her hand gently. Please, let me do this for us, he said silently. “I know that, in the past, I’ve given you a lot of reasons to doubt me. You might even think these are reasons enough to doubt my love for Liz. I’m not proud of that. But – Mr. Parker, you’ve got to understand something. I do love your daughter. She is the most important thing in my life. Liz and I have made it through so much together, and we will get through this together, too.”

Liz took over then, glancing around at the four parents. “We have learned so much from you, from your love, and now we’re going to put it into practice. It wasn’t the way we planned, but we want – we’re going to face it.” She paused for a minute, meeting her father’s gaze. “And Daddy…we’re not asking permission to be married. We will either way. We just…we really want your blessing.”

“I can’t believe what I’m hearing,” Jeff sputtered. “Nancy, are you listening to this?”

“Of course I am,” Nancy said quietly, turning to her daughter and Max. “When is the baby due?”

“April,” Liz answered, glancing at Max, who nodded shortly.

“So we only have a few months to plan a wedding…”

“What are you doing?” Jeff hissed angrily to his wife. “I can’t believe you’re encouraging this-“

Nancy sighed. “Jeff, I’m not encouraging anything except that Liz and Max deal with the situation responsibly. What’s done is done, and we have to go from there.”

“I agree,” Diane chimed in. “I’m not thrilled about this, but I’m glad you came to us.” She turned to her husband. “We were very against Isabel marrying Jesse at first, but now…we’ve never seen her more happy or well taken care of.” She gestured to Max and Liz. “They…they make each other happy. I think all of us knew it was just a matter of time before they decided to take this step.”

Jeff got to his feet, shaking his head. “I don’t have time for this right now. I have to get back downstairs.”

Liz fought back tears as she watched her father storm out of the room. Max’s hand entwined with hers and her mother’s words told her she wasn’t alone. But she had never felt more abandoned in her life.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 13-Feb-2002 12:52:51 AM ]
posted on 14-Feb-2002 2:11:01 AM by McGees
New part is coming tomorrow...er...today, I guess, technically. I've been sick and trying to stay caught up with work, but now it's just a matter of getting some things typed up. Please, PLEASE keep the feedback coming...fellow writers, you know what I mean when I say that it's the best motivation! I've so appreciated your comments thus far!

P.S. Rollergal, I caught up with your story and I'm loving it so far (the flashes were great!) I tried leaving you a note but alas, access denied. Whatever. I don't know what that's all about. Anyway, I like it and I hope there's going to be more soon!
posted on 15-Feb-2002 2:03:15 PM by McGees
Author's Note: Thanks again for the feedback, it's great to see new readers and some old readers catching up. Drop me a line, I'd love to hear your thoughts (and know people are reading...*wink*)! Here's 12a...I decided to split it up a bit, and the rest of 12 will be up later today.
P.S. I changed the rating a bit...from here on out we'll just say it ranges from PG - NC17. I posted it on another board and it got moved to the smut section! Let me know if I should note any NC17 parts as such, or just let those parts be fun surprises and keep the rating a technicality.

12a

“So how did it go, Petunia?” Maria asked carefully, leading Liz into her bedroom.

Liz sank down onto Maria’s bed and lay back across the middle of it before answering. “Um…about how we expected, I think,” she said finally. “No one was happy about it, but our moms took it better than our dads. My dad especially,” she added wearily. “He’s so disappointed in me, Maria. Remember how bad it was last fall, when I got arrested?”

Maria nodded vigorously. “Multiply that by about a hundred and you’d be in the ballpark,” she said as Maria’s eyes widened.

“I didn’t think that was possible.”

“Oh, it is,” Liz assured dryly. “I’ve never felt more ashamed in my life.”

“Lizzie…” Maria wrapped her best friend in a warm hug. “Hey, girl, you know who the baby's father is, you’re doing a heck of a lot better than some people.”

Liz had to crack a slight smile at that. “Yeah, the whole Tabasco-glowing-phenomenon does kind of give it away, doesn’t it?”

“Um, speaking of that, Petunia,” Maria started, lowering her voice. “What are you going to do about a doctor and…stuff?”

“Mom’s insisting that I make an appointment as soon as possible.”

Maria grabbed Liz’s hand. “Oh Liz, aren’t you scared? I’ll come with you, okay? I’ll come and if-“

“Thanks, Maria,” Liz cut in gently. “I appreciate it, but you know how Max gets. He’s taking me, and that way if anything weird happens-“

“Ohh, okay.” Maria nodded her understanding. “Right, counteract any weird alien stuff with more alien stuff.” She paused for a beat, blushing slightly. “Um…speaking of aliens…”

“Michael,” Liz stated with dry amusement.

“Yeah. But it’s probably not what you’re thinking. We-“

“You had sex, didn’t you?” Liz sat up and stared straight on at her best friend.

Maria nodded slowly, fighting off a grin. “Last week. How did you-“

“I could read it on both of your faces at Isabel’s the other night. Maria…you can’t be too careful, okay? I mean-“

“But we didn’t feel anything,” Maria explained. “Well, we did , but nothing like you and Max described. You knew right away.”

Liz sighed. “But we didn’t know what it was.” A frown crossed her face. “Max said he didn’t feel anything like that with…with Tess. It was completely new to him, too.” Liz closed her eyes and was silent for a long moment. “Listen, I can’t preach to you about safe sex, because obviously I don’t know how it works with…um…our guys. Just…just be careful, okay?” She paused again and then gave Maria a genuine grin. “So…was it hot?” she asked, wiggling her eyebrows and lying back on the bed.

Maria giggled, collapsing beside Liz and clutching her pillow. “It was amazing.” She proceeded to inform Liz of some of the not-quite-so-graphic details of the evening, realizing how long it had been since she’d had a serious dish-session with her best friend. “So…” she continued. “I guess we’ll be together now after all, huh?”

“I guess so. “ Liz struggled to smile at this reminder.

“You don’t have to be happy about it,” Maria said gently. “I’ll understand if you’re not. I mean, Stanford, Liz. You’ve wanted Stanford as long as we were old enough to talk about what we wanted to be when we grew up. You always knew you wanted to be a scientist.”

Liz glanced down, resting her hand on her flat belly. “I guess in a way I am,” she said quietly.

“Oh Lizzie,” Maria sighed, rolling onto her stomach to face her best friend. “You have always been the bravest person I’ve ever known,” she said sincerely, grabbing one of Liz’s hands in her own and squeezing it. “You are so strong, and you are going to get through this. Everything will be fine.”

Liz just nodded and tried to convince herself that Maria was right. Things will be fine. But…things weren’t fine. Her life, the life that she had planned for herself for so long, had been turned upside down. Her parents were disappointed in her. Max’s parents were disappointed in him. No one knew what to expect. Liz suddenly felt sick to her stomach again. This baby might be some kind of miracle, but so far he was only making things more complicated than his mother had ever imagined possible.

*****

“Liz?”

Turning from her vanity, Liz smiled. “Hey,” she said softly.

Max climbed up over her windowsill and into her bedroom, crossing the floor to where Liz sat. He knelt behind the stool, wrapping his arms around her and burying his nose in her damp hair. “Sorry it’s so late.”

Liz laid her brush on the vanity and squeezed his hands. “Did you just get off work?”

He nodded, getting to his feet and leading Liz over to her bed. “I want to pick up as many hours as I can before classes start,” he explained, lying back against her pillows and pulling her close.

“I’m sorry,” Liz sighed, tracing her fingers over his chest.

Max grabbed her hand in his, stilling her movement. “Liz. You have nothing to be sorry for,” he asserted, bringing her fingers to his lips for a soft kiss. “I’m doing this for us. For you and our baby. I hate not being with you as much as I should be. I don’t want you going through this without me.”

“I know,” Liz murmured, snuggling deeper into Max’s embrace. “And I do want us to find our own place. I don’t know how much longer I can handle living here.”

“Your dad still isn’t talking to you?”

“Barely,” she sighed again. “He does a little bit downstairs, when it’s work related. But he’s been spending almost all of his time down there, so I hardly see him at home.” She swallowed hard. “And when I do, he won’t even make eye contact with me.”

Max tightened his arms around Liz’s small body, pressing gentle kisses to the top of her head. He knew she was fighting back tears; it was pure pride that kept them from falling. Max felt his heart constricting at her pain. He slid his hand between the flaps of her robe at her waist, pressing his hand to her belly. The tiny glow that appeared between his caressing fingers eased him, and he whispered soothing words into Liz’s ear until her body relaxed and her breathing became more even.

“I shouldn’t stay,” he murmured reluctantly. “If one of your parents came in…”

Liz cracked her eyes open. “It’s not like they don’t know we’ve slept together,” she teased dryly.

Max’s hurt expression struck Liz immediately. “I’m sorry. That was uncalled for.”

He didn’t say anything, but slowly shifted her body under the covers and slid himself off the bed. “I love you,” he whispered against her forehead. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

*****

A loud pounding on the window turned Maria’s attention away from the coffeemaker. “We don’t open until six-thirty,” she grumbled under her breath, trudging through the empty café. “Geez, people, read the sign.”

Drawing the shades on the windows, Maria came face to face with Max. She should have known.

She unlocked the door and Max stepped in, looking around the café. “Where’s Liz?”

“Morning to you, too,” Maria yawned. “She’s in the bathroom, throwing up the oatmeal I forced on her.”

Max’s brow furrowed. “Why are you letting her do that?” He made his way toward the back room with an exasperated Maria behind him.

“Max, it’s called ‘morning sickness’ for a reason. There’s nothing I can do about it, and I don’t think Liz has much control of it, either.”

Ignoring Maria’s wisdom, Max rapped lightly on the bathroom door. “Liz?”

“Come on in,” came Liz’s weary voice.

Max let himself in, closing the door behind him, and his stomach clenched. Liz sat in front of the toilet, her legs curled beneath her, her face a sickly pale.

“Baby…” he sighed, sinking down beside her and running his fingers along her back. He wanted desperately to make her better, but this wasn’t something he could ‘heal.’ Instead he could only pull her ponytail over her shoulder and out of her face and gently soothe her as she wretched into the toilet.

When she sat back again Max pulled her into his arms, cradling her against his chest for a few minutes until the color returned to her cheeks. “Liz, I’m worried about you,” he said quietly.

Liz looked up at him and sighed. “Max, I’m really okay. This is normal. It’s not fun, but it’s normal.” Max started to interrupt, but Liz stopped him. “I know this is hard for you, not being able to fix it.”

“Can – can I just…” Max trailed off, his eyes casting down toward her abdomen.

She nodded and unbuttoned two of the small buttons on the front of her uniform. Max slid his hand through the flap of fabric and rested his fingers on her soft skin. He watched with relief as the glow appeared beneath his hand.

Liz gently tilted his chin up. “You’re thinking about your son, aren’t you?” she asked quietly. “And what happened with Tess?”

He nodded solemnly. “I want to keep you safe,” he murmured, trailing his fingers over her belly.

“You are,” Liz assured him gently, resting her hand on his. “We just have to take each day as it comes, Max, you know that.” She hoped she was doing a better job convincing him than she was herself.

“I know.” He took one last look at their hands caressing her womb, relishing in the relief that tiny glow provided. Helping Liz to her feet, he fastened the uniform’s buttons for her and then pulled her to him. “I’ll see you tonight,” he promised against her cheek. “Should I come in through the window again?”

Liz thought about this for a moment. “No. Come to the door. My parents are going to have to face this eventually.” At least her father hadn’t forbidden her to see Max. Then again, he hadn’t even mentioned Max. Hardly a word had passed between Liz and Jeff Parker since the announcement over a week before. Her father had kept his distance, and Liz hadn’t exactly gone out of her way to cross paths with him. She was afraid now; afraid to look him in the eye and see the pure disappointment; afraid that it would only reinforce her own doubt and disappointment in herself.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 15-Feb-2002 2:13:04 PM ]
posted on 15-Feb-2002 3:56:12 PM by McGees
12b

Liz paged through the SNM course catalog halfheartedly at the kitchen table, jotting down classes in order to register with Max that afternoon. The school had a decent biology program, she’d discovered, one that would at least get her a bachelor’s degree. She sighed to herself. There would still be a chance for her to go on and get a masters degree, and then even a doctorate, but…with the responsibilities of a husband and a toddler, she didn’t see how it would be possible.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” she muttered aloud, bracing her chin with her hand.

“Did you say something, Liz?” Nancy asked, coming into the kitchen with a stack of paperwork from downstairs.

“Hm?” Liz glanced up. “Oh…no.”

Nancy set the papers on the table and pulled up a chair across from Liz. “Picking classes?” she asked gently.

Liz nodded. “Max and I are registering later, so…” she trailed off.

“Lizzie.” Nancy reached across the table, taking her daughter’s hand in her own. “It’s okay to mention Max, honey.” She took a deep breath. “He’s going to be your husband, and the father of your child. And that makes him part of our family. I don’t want either of you to be afraid of that.”

Liz looked at her mother with a sad smile and moist eyes. “What about Daddy.”

Nancy squeezed her hand. “He’ll come around, Lizzie. Just give it some time.” She got up and went around the table to pull her daughter into a tight hug. “He loves you, Lizzie, we both do. No matter what.”

Liz clung to her mother, the tears falling fast. “I’m sorry, Mom,” she said, her voice breaking. “I’m so sorry.”

Max watched silently from the top of the stairs, Michael having let him up from the back room of the Crashdown. He watched his Liz cry in her mother’s arms, knowing he was helpless to stop her tears.

He was the cause of them.

*****

“Iz, are you sure this is such a good idea?”

Isabel straightened, turning to her husband as she pulled a dish of lasagna from the oven. “Jesse, this is getting ridiculous. We’ve been through this kind of thing before, and the only way to deal with it is to face it head on.” She tossed the oven mitts aside and headed for the dining room. “And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

Jesse watched as his wife snapped her fingers, lighting the candles adorning the dining room table. “But don’t you think it’s something they need to do on their own time?”

Isabel turned and looked Jesse straight in the eye. “No.” The doorbell rang then, snapping Isabel to attention. “That’s Max.”

“I’ll get the door.” Jesse shook his head as he went to the front door. “Hey, man,” he greeted his brother-in-law.

“Hey,” Max returned, stepping inside and pulling off his leather jacket. “Smells great, Iz,” he called.

Isabel hurried into the front hall, pulling her brother into a tight hug. “Max, you look like shit,” she mused. “Have you been sleeping at all?”

Max shrugged as he broke away. “I’ve been working a lot.”

Cupping his chin in her hand, Isabel frowned. “You need to get some sleep. How’s Liz? I haven’t seen her since the weekend.”

Max shrugged again. “She’s okay. The morning sickness has gotten a little better the last few days. We registered for classes yesterday, though, and I think that really shook her up.”

Isabel bit her lip, leading him into the dining room. Max glanced around at the five place settings and frowned. “I thought it was just us tonight.”

Jesse exchanged a look with Isabel, who promptly ignored it. “I invited Mom and Dad, too.”

Max glanced up at her, visibly upset. “Why would you do that?”

“Max, they’re our parents,” Isabel defended herself. “When was the last time you even spoke to either of them?”

“I’m not sure,” Max mumbled. “Mom’s left a couple messages with Michael, but I’ve been too busy to get back to her.”

Isabel grabbed her brother’s hand. “Can you do this for me, please? Can you sit down and have dinner with them? Max, this isn’t going to get any easier. You’ve got to face Mom and Dad eventually.”

Max cursed under his breath, clenching his jaw. He knew Isabel was right, but that didn’t make it any better. So much of his life had been hidden from his parents, and while he loved them with all his heart, he wasn’t any good at confrontations. And he knew, he knew, that this was what tonight would be about.

The doorbell rang again, and Isabel glanced at Jesse. “Would you get that, honey?”

As soon as Jesse had left the room, Isabel squeezed Max’s hand again. “Max, I’m not saying we need to tell them… everything. All I want out of tonight is a civil dinner with my family.” She paused. “I can’t stand to see what this is doing to you, or to them. Max, you are their son and they love you.”

“Izzy, something smells wonderf-“ Diane Evans stopped abruptly as she entered the dining room, followed by Phillip and Jesse. “Max,” she said simply.

“Mom.” Max shifted awkwardly, forcing his eyes up to hers.

“Sweetie, I’ve missed you so much,” Diane said, rushing forward to envelop her son in a hug. “Why haven’t you returned any of my phone calls?” she asked, her words muffled against Max’s shoulder. “I told Michael to make sure you got them…”

“I – I’m sorry,” Max stammered, caught off guard by his mother’s actions. He hugged her back, his eyes slowly raising to meet his father’s.

“Son.” Phillip nodded his greeting, his hands jammed in his pockets.

“Well,” Isabel broke in pleasantly. “The lasagna is nice and hot, why don’t we have a seat?” She hurried to the kitchen and returned with the steaming dish, urging them to find a place at the table.

The meal started quietly, the only sound the clanking of silverware against china and the occasional clearing of the throat.

“Isabel, this is delicious,” Diane commented eventually. “I didn’t know you could make such amazing lasagna.”

Isabel smiled brightly, kicking her husband under the table as he stifled his laughter. Another perk of having an alien wife – she could whip up just about any dish with virtually no effort if she really wanted to. “Thanks, Mom,” she said warmly. “It’s, ah, a new recipe I’ve been wanting to try.” She neglected to mention the Tabasco sauce that was laced through it.

Diane nodded thoughtfully and was silent for another minute. “I stopped by the Crashdown yesterday,” she announced suddenly.

Max looked up from his plate, curiosity getting the best of him. “Why?”

“To talk to Nancy,” she answered calmly, ignoring the surprised looks from Isabel, Jesse, and Max, “about our grandchild.”

Choking on his pasta, Max quickly reached for his glass of water. “What?”

Diane turned to her son. “We both decided that we want the best for him or her, and that means doing whatever we can for you and Liz.”

“Even though I’ve got some hesitation in the matter, we’re going to help you buy an apartment,” Phillip continued. “It would be impossible to juggle classes and the amount of work you’d need to do to pay for your own place.”

“With you and Liz getting married, you’re going to want a place of your own.” Diane paused. “I don’t think Michael’s place has enough room for a married couple and a baby.”

“No niece or nephew of mine is going to live with Michael Guerin,” Isabel warned, shuddering at the thought.

“I don’t understand,” Max finally spoke up, looking at both of his parents in turn. “Why are you doing this for us?”

“You’re our son, Max,” Diane answered simply. “We don’t want to lose you, not again. We’re proud of you for accepting responsibility for the situation, and we’re not going to punish you for that. You and Liz are in love.”

Max clenched his jaw again, overcome with emotion. “Thank you,” he said finally. “Thank you for accepting our love, and our child.”

If only…if only Liz could feel the same acceptance from her father. That was going to take so much more time, Max knew that already. If only he could convince Liz not to give up.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 15-Feb-2002 4:00:03 PM ]
posted on 17-Feb-2002 9:09:04 PM by McGees
Author's Note: Ya'll are great. *happy* Thanks for the feedback. As for the question about whether or not the Evans' know about Tess, in my story they don't. Mainly because it really didn't have any kind of effect in the show, so therefore I can do what I want with it throughout this story. It will be addressed eventually. And now, on to "lucky" part 13...


13

“Kyle, I can’t believe you did it.”

Kyle shrugged, shoveling a forkful of coleslaw into his mouth. “It was time, that’s all,” he explained. “I was Toby’s bitch for two years of my life. Enough is enough.”

Resting her elbows on the counter, Liz twirled the damp rag around her finger. “I guess you’re right. With your dad being back at the station now, you can focus on your classes.”

“Liz. How long have you known me?” Kyle grinned. “I’ve been to my share of college parties, I know how this co-ed thing works.”

“I don’t think that New Year’s party Isabel dragged you to last year counts, Kyle,” Liz informed him. “And have you even spoken to that Buffy girl since then?”

“Her name was Bitsy,” Kyle corrected indignantly, “And…and that’s none of your business.”

Jeff voice cut through their laughter. “Liz, table ten is waiting to order,” he said briskly, disappearing into the back room.

Frowning, Liz pushed herself back from the counter. “I’ll be back,” she muttered, making her way across the Crashdown. She caught sight of who was sitting at table ten, and Liz immediately felt her heart plummet.

*****

“Yeah, this is definitely the only perk of starting school,” Maria announced.

Isabel grinned, piling several more thin sweaters atop the pile on her arm as she joined Maria at the register. “Ah, back to school shopping. Some things never change, no matter how old or married you get.” She whipped out her credit card.
I doubt Jesse’s gonna buy that excuse.”

Maria shrugged, signing her receipt. “Hey, what else are you gonna do while he’s out of town on business?”

“Excellent point,” Isabel giggled.

Clutching several shopping bags in each hand, the girls made their way out into the mall. Maria turned to Isabel and grinned. “And it is now time to-“

“Accessorize!” both girls exclaimed in unison, their eyes glinting mischievously.

“I saw some great handbags at that shop down by Record Town,” Isabel noted as they climbed onto the escalator. Her eyes began to wander, settling on a small bridal shop at the bottom of the escalator.

“You know,” she began thoughtfully, “We should throw Liz a bridal shower.”

Maria nodded. “That would be fun,” she agreed. “But I don’t think they’ve even picked a date yet.”

“Or a ring,” Isabel added with a frown. “Max has been working nonstop so he can afford one.”

“I don’t think Liz is overly concerned with a ring right now,” Maria admitted.

“But you know Max,” Isabel continued. “Wanting to be married and have their own place before the baby comes. He’s a traditionalist.”

Maria snorted. “Oh yeah, except for that time he got Tess knocked up.”

Isabel whirled around, her eyes flashing. “Maria, I know you haven’t forgiven him for what happened-“

“Liz is my best friend,” Maria cut in quietly. “He broke her heart.”

Sighing impatiently, Isabel’s voice softened. “I know. But Max has worked so hard to earn back her trust and forgiveness, and besides, it’s really not our business.”

Maria bit back her response, knowing it was useless to get into it. Liz had forgiven Max and had done her best to move on in spite of Tess, but that hadn’t made it any easier to see her in so much anguish because of it all.

“…my mom and Mrs. Parker want to help Liz plan the actual ceremony, but you and I should arrange the shower,” Isabel was saying.

Maria smirked. “The wedding nazi is back,” she muttered under her breath.

*****

Liz swallowed hard. Mrs. Cardona, her sophomore year biology teacher and the woman who had written such a glowing recommendation to Stanford, sat at table ten. Liz wiped her sweaty palms on her apron and approached the table. “Can I take your order?”

“Liz, hi!” Mrs. Cardona greeted cheerfully, looking up from the conversation she was engaged in with the man on the other side of the booth. “This is my husband, Doug. Doug, this is Liz Parker, one of the most talented students I’ve ever had.” She winked at Liz. “And headed for Stanford, too.”

Liz smiled nervously, not quite meeting Mrs. Cardona’s eyes. “What can I get for you both?”

“I’ll have the Asteroid Salad,” Mrs. Cardona decided, skimming the menu.

“Will Smith burger, please,” Mr. Cardona smiled.

“So Liz, you must be getting excited,” Mrs. Cardona continued. “Are you all ready to head out to Stanford?”

Liz cleared her throat. “Um, actually I’m not going to Stanford,” she said casually.

Mrs. Cardona gave her a strange look. “What do you mean?” she asked, confused. “You were so thrilled to get the acceptance.”

“I’m going to Southern, here in Roswell,” Liz admitted. “I guess I just didn’t feel ready to go so far away. You know, to such a big school and all,” she continued lamely.

Clearly confused, Mrs. Cardona only nodded. “I see,” she said finally, her brow furrowed in disappointment. “I know it’s not really any of my business, Liz, but I think you’re making a big mistake. You’ve got so much potential.” She paused uncomfortably. “I’d just hate to see it go to waste.”

Liz didn’t know what to say. She could feel her chest tightening, the ground beginning to sway under her feet. “I’ll, uh, I’ll go put in your order,” she said quickly, stumbling away from the table. Liz made her way into the kitchen blindly, slapping the order down and bracing herself against the counter.

Michael turned from the skillet to see her bow her head, her shoulders heaving as she quickly sucked in and released her breath. “Liz?” He tossed the turner aside, leaving the hamburgers to sizzle and burn on the hot surface. “Liz? What’s the matter?”

She didn’t speak, but slowly raised her face to meet his. Her eyes were filled with fear and tears as she struggled to catch her breath, but with no success. She was nearly hyperventilating.

“Shit.” Michael wiped his hands on his apron and rushed to Liz, grasping her shoulders. “Liz, breathe,” he commanded. “In and out…slow…” he coached.

Liz stared up at him, taking in a long, shaky breath. “Okay…that’s a girl…nice and slow,” he encouraged, loosening his grip on her shoulders as she released another gasp of air.

And suddenly she collapsed against him, the sobs coming hard and fast. “Hey…hey…” he soothed, slowly sinking to the floor with Liz’s trembling body in his arms. Too concerned to feel awkward, Michael rubbed his hand up and down her back and simply sat while she sobbed silently into his chest.

“Hey Liz, are you okay?” Kyle’s voice called from the doorway. “You kind of disappeared – oh,” he paused when he caught sight of Liz curled up on the floor in Michael’s tight embrace. “Oh my god, Michael, what happened?” he asked in alarm, crouching down beside them.

Michael shook his head, holding onto Liz for dear life as the sobs wracked her body. “I don’t know,” he said quietly.

Kyle reached out a tentative hand to smooth Liz’s hair back. “Lizzie…hey…what’s going on?” he murmured.

“Did you see anything happen out there?” Michael asked, his jaw clenched in concern.

“No, man. She ran past me into the kitchen, so I wanted to make sure she was okay.”

Slowly, with painstakingly shallow breaths, Liz’s sobs finally began to subside. She pulled away from Michael slightly, burying her damp face in her hands. “I’m sorry…I scared…you,” she hiccuped. “I’ll…I’ll be okay now.”

Kyle’s strong hand on her shoulder stopped her. “Liz, what happened?” he demanded quietly.

Liz shook her head. “Nothing, I just…I just ran into Mrs. Cardona…and she wanted to know…about Stanford…why I’m not going…”

“Did you tell her?” Kyle asked quietly.

Again, Liz shook her head miserably. “No.”

“It’s probably better that way,” Michael grumbled. “I always thought that woman was an opinionated bitch.”

Liz wiped at her eyes with the corner of her apron. “No she’s not,” she sighed. “She was one of the people who was really pulling for me, convincing me I could take Stanford and follow this dream and…” Liz trailed off and held a hand out to Kyle to help her up, not noticing the worried looks being exchanged over her head.

The door to the back office opened. “Hey guys, I…is everything okay out here?” Jeff asked.

Liz sighed in disgust, brushing past Michael and toward the swinging door. “Fine,” she said firmly, pushing into the café without a look back.

“Fine,” Kyle repeated after a moment, jamming his hands into his pockets.

“Hormones,” Michael muttered to Jeff, the concern creasing his face as he turned back to the skillet.

*****

“Where are we going?”

“You’ll see,” Max promised, grinning to himself as he drummed his palms on the steering wheel. He glanced over at Liz, and his grin faded. “You okay?”

Liz shrugged, resting her arm on the edge of the window. Where to start? “I got my official notice of withdrawal from Stanford today.”

“Oh.” Max sighed. He knew how hard that had been for Liz, withdrawing from her dream college just two weeks before she was supposed to start. “Baby, I’m sorry.”

She shrugged again. “I knew it was coming.” There was a pause as she squinted into the afternoon sunlight. “Max, what are we doing on the other side of town? We’re practically to the university campus-“

“You’ll see,” Max stressed again, the smile returning to his face. This would make her feel better, it had to. The last week had been a whirlwind of switching transcripts, enrolling in classes at Southern, searching for apartments, and dealing with more morning sickness. Max hated stopping by the Crashdown before work to find Liz pale and wrung out; he wanted to be with her and their baby as much as possible, and he didn’t want her going through any more of this pregnancy by herself.

All that was about to change, he reminded himself happily as he turned onto a side street and pulled up in front of a modest red brick apartment building.

“Max, I’m really not in the mood for apartment hunting right now,” Liz admitted wearily.

Max jogged to Liz’s side of the car and opened the door for her. “Just trust me on this one, okay?” he asked with a hopeful grin.

Liz shook her head, but couldn’t help returning a slight smile as he led her up into the building. They climbed a flight of concrete stairs and made their way down a narrow hallway before stopping in front of 212. Max swung a surprised Liz up into his arms as he fished around in his pocket and retrieved a key.

“Max, what are you-“ She trailed off as he turned the key in the lock and pushed the door open before stepping over the threshold, kissing her soundly on the lips.

“Welcome home, Liz.”

“Oh my god,” she gasped finally. “Max, what – what did you do?” Her eyes were wide as she took in her surroundings. It was a small apartment, but cozy. They stood inside a living room, and just to the right was a kitchen and dining area. A short hallway led to a bathroom and two small bedrooms.

“Do you like it?” Max asked quickly. “I tried to do a little work on the place yesterday and this morning, and-“

“Max, I love it,” Liz interrupted, her face flushed with surprise. “When can we move in?”

“This weekend,” he grinned.

Liz clapped her hands together in genuine excitement. “I didn’t expect you to find something so fast, but it’s perfect.”

“Well,” Max began modestly. “I don’t know about perfect, but it is what we were looking for. Some furniture provided, two bedrooms, an eating area, it’s only two blocks from campus…”

“Oh Max, you even bought groceries,” Liz murmured, noticing several paper bags sitting on a small wooden table.

“I did, I bought some stuff…” Max agreed slyly. “There’s, ah, there’s some stuff in the cabinets, too…”

Liz arched an eyebrow at him. “Should I go check it out?” she asked, puzzled. Max nodded eagerly, and Liz opened one of the cupboards to find it stocked with Tabasco sauce. “Max, you’re the best, you know – oh my god…” Her smile faded and her eyes widened. There, nestled between several bottles of the hot sauce, was a tiny black velvet box.

“Anything interesting in there?” Max asked casually, his grin giving him away.

Liz stared at him for a split second and then burst into tears.

“Oh Liz…baby…” he soothed, rushing to her side at the counter. “Come here, love.” He wrapped his arms around her and kissed the top of her head as she buried her face in his chest. “Hey…you didn’t even open it yet…” Max reached around her and pulled the box out of the cabinet. “Liz, baby, look at me.”

Liz slowly raised her tearstained face to look at him, her eyes shining with love. “Max…”

Max gently pressed a finger to her lips and smiled. “I have something for you.” He flipped up the top of the box toward Liz. “Liz Parker, will you wear this ring as a symbol of my love for you?”

The engagement band boasted a simple princess-cut diamond, dancing and glittering in the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the flimsy kitchen curtains. It was beautiful, but not gaudy…just like his Liz, Max thought. Liz looked at the ring and then back up at Max, the smile returning to her face. “I love you,” she whispered.

He took her left hand in his and slowly slid the ring onto her finger. “And I love you,” he replied, sealing his lips to hers in a long, deep kiss.

*****

“I knew it,” Maria sighed. “She’s got so much pent up inside, and she’s not letting anything out.”

Michael flopped down onto his bed beside Maria, having just told her about what had happened earlier that afternoon at the Crashdown. “It was really scary,” he admitted. “It’s like you said, I could almost feel everything she had built up…her whole body was just so tense, and she could hardly breathe…”

Maria reached over and rested her hand on his in the dark. “It’s a good thing you and Kyle were there.”

“It should have been Max,” Michael sighed. “I don’t think he has any idea what she’s been going through. Hell, I don’t think any of us did until today.”

A shadowy figure in the doorway startled them both. “You think I don’t know?” cam Max’s strained voice.

Michael sat up. “Maxwell, when did you get home?”

“Just in time to hear you talking about Liz,” he said, stepping into the bedroom. His dark eyes flashed with pain. “You honestly think I have no idea what this is doing to her?” he asked incredulously.

Maria balled her fists against her sides. “I think you’ve been a little too wrapped up in your own guilt to pay much attention,” she said, her voice low, dark.

“Max, what’s going on…” Liz appeared behind Max in the doorway, trailing off when she saw the tense looks all around. She rested her hand on his shoulder. “Max?”

He whirled around and grabbed her hand, leading her down the hall. “We need to talk,” he said brokenly.

They sat down on the couch, and Max took both of her hands in his. “Liz…please, tell me how you’re feeling.”

“I’m fine,” she said calmly. “I haven’t been sick in two days, you know that.”

He closed his eyes to make a connection and then shrank back, hurt. She had blocked him out. Served him right, he decided, for trying to sneak around her thoughts that way. Slowly, he opened his eyes to find Liz still looking at him.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “Please, Liz…talk to me.”

Liz sighed, leaning into him and resting her head on his shoulder. “There’s just…a lot going on right now,” she murmured. “A lot for both of us to adjust to, and it overwhelms me sometimes,” she continued honestly.

Max kissed the top of her head. “I know, love,” he whispered. “But please…don’t shut me out. Not now, when we need each other more than ever. Liz…” he took a deep breath. “I’m so sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused you-“

Liz turned, reaching up to touch his lips. “No,” she interrupted. “No apologies. No blaming. We are in this together, like you said,” she continued firmly.

“I love you,” Max murmured, kissing her fingertips gently and then touching the engagement band that now adorned her finger. He sighed, leaning back against the couch and pulling her into his arms. “I know it sounds crazy…and selfish, even, I just…I want you to be happy. You are my family, Liz. You and our baby. I want us to be happy, love.”

Liz nodded, settling her cheek against Max’s chest. “Me too,” she whispered.

posted on 20-Feb-2002 4:20:31 PM by McGees
Author's Note: I hope you'll enjoy this section...I figured we could use some "sexual healing" on Sexual Healing Day. ("It's February 20. I'm Liz Parker, and lately I've been having these feelings, like I'm changing inside...") Enjoy, and please leave feedback!

14

“Elizabeth Parker?”

Liz and Max both got to their feet as a nurse called Liz’s name from the doorway of the waiting room. Noticing Max, the nurse said, “Sir, I have to ask you to stay in the waiting room.”

Liz froze. “What? Why?”

“Oh, he can come in after the exam, hon. It’s just routine.”

“I don’t mind,” Max said firmly, pushing past the nurse as his grip on Liz’s hand tightened.

“Really, sir, as soon as the doctor-“

“I’m coming in with her,” Max said. “I just don’t want to miss anything,” he added, his voice softening a little.

“I assure you-“

“Please,” Liz broke in, her eyes pleading. “I want him to stay with me.”

The nurse sighed. “Okay,” she finally agreed, leading them down the hall. “Right this way.”

She opened the door to a small exam room, equipped with an exam table and a tray of shady looking instruments, a portable sonogram monitor, and lots of illustrated posters of the stages of pregnancy and childbirth adorning the walls. The nurse handed Liz a paper gown. “Here, hon, put this on and I’ll get some vitals and a weight before the doctor comes in.”

Liz did as she was told, pulling off her blouse and tying on the gown before sliding her jeans off. Max carefully kept his eyes on the walls as he sat down in a hard chair in the corner of the room. He’d already drawn enough attention to himself, and now – whoa. These were some graphic illustrations. Would their baby be born like…that? Max didn’t have the first clue as to whether or not babies that were half alien would be born like human ones. He shook his head. Let’s just get through the first appointment, here, buddy.

“Okay, everything looks good,” the nurse announced, jotting something onto her clipboard. “You can have a seat on the table there, and the doctor will be in in a few minutes.”

Liz slid onto the table and forced a slight smile. “Thank you.”

The nurse closed the door behind her and sighed. The poor girl seemed scared to death. At least she wasn’t going through it alone. That young man, with those dark, intense eyes, was obviously very protective of her. She was a lucky one.

“How are you doing?” Max asked, scooting his chair over to the table and taking Liz’s hand in his own.

“I – I don’t know,” Liz admitted. “Whatever happens today…it’s going to tell us an awful lot…”

“Yeah,” Max agreed quietly, bringing Liz’s hand to his mouth and kissing it gently. “But I’ll be right here. I won’t let anything happen.”

“I know,” Liz whispered. “Thank you.”

The door opened then, and a middle-aged man with thinning black hair and wire-rimmed glasses walked in. Max regarded him solemnly, his hand never loosening its grip on Liz’s.

“Hi there,” the doctor said cheerfully. “I’m Dr. Sinclair. It’s nice to meet you, Liz.” He shook her free hand and then turned to Max.

“Max Evans,” he offered, accepting the doctor’s warm handshake.

“I’m glad you could make it, Max. Alright, Liz,” the doctor began, consulting his chart. “How have you been feeling? Any morning sickness?”

“Um, yeah. A lot at first,” Liz said. “I’m having an easier time keeping things down now, though.”

“Good, good. We’ll start you on some prenatal vitamins right away, and that should help you feel better, too. Well,” he continued, pulling on a pair of latex gloves. “Why don’t you go ahead and lie back, and we’ll just do a quick examination to see how things are going.”

Liz lay back on the table stiffly as the doctor draped a thin sheet over her legs and eased her feet up into the stirrups. “This won’t hurt,” the doctor assured gently. “I know you might think this sounds crazy, but try to relax, okay?”

She took a deep breath, and Max had to bite down on his lip, hard. Are you okay, baby? He asked silently.

Liz nodded slightly, squeezing her eyes shut as the doctor placed one hand on her belly and pressed down a little. Max monitored the doctor’s face carefully, searching for any sign that something was out of the ordinary. But after a few moments, the doctor pulled off his gloves and released the stirrups. “Everything seems great, Liz,” he assured them. “Now, would you like to hear your baby’s heartbeat?”

Letting out the breath she’d been holding, Liz finally opened her eyes and peeked at the doctor. “I…really?” She glanced at Max, who nodded encouragingly. “Yeah…yeah, that would be great.”

Dr. Sinclair eased the gown up from under the sheet and squirted a dollop of clear gel onto her stomach. “It’ll feel a little cold,” he added as Liz jumped slightly. He applied the device to her abdomen and began running it through the gel. A loud whirring sound began to echo through the room.

“Oh my god, is that…”

The doctor looked up and smiled at Liz. “Yep. That’s your baby’s heartbeat. Strong and healthy.”

“Max…” she breathed, glancing up at him as the tears flew to her eyes. He pressed her fingertips to his lips as the most beautiful sound he’d ever heard rang in his ears. Their baby’s heartbeat. A strong, healthy heartbeat.

Liz and Max were both speechless as they listened to the life they had created together. Max couldn’t tear his eyes away from Liz, mesmerized as he was by the sound from within her womb.

Is everything okay? Liz asked through their connection. She was still very nervous that something wasn’t right, that the doctor would know something.

Perfect, he answered, grinning down at her. Our baby is perfect.

*****

Maria yanked a strip of packing tape across the top of a cardboard carton, shoving it across the floor and reaching for another. “This is weird.”

Liz continued placing framed pictures and other sentimental knick-knacks from her desk into a box. “What’s that?”

“This.” Maria gestured around Liz’s bedroom, which was beginning to accumulate over a dozen boxes. “Liz, you grew up in here. Hell, I grew up in here. It’s so surreal to see you packing up and moving away.”

Liz smiled, lifting the box and joining Maria on the bed. “It’s still going to be my room, Maria,” she reminded. “I just…won’t live here anymore.”

“That’s weird enough in itself,” Maria mused.

“It’d be the same if I was going off to college,” she shrugged.

“I guess,” Maria agreed, taping up a box of Liz’s clothes. “At least you’re going somewhere. "

Liz glanced at her best friend. “Maria. We’re going to the same school.”

Maria shrugged. “Yeah. But we’ll see how long I can handle being in college and living under the same roof as my mother.”

“You’re welcome to sleep on our couch any time,” Liz offered grandly.

Maria snickered. “Thank you, Michael Guerin.”

“Since when would he make you sleep on the couch?” Liz teased. The two friends laughed, and for a few minutes continued sealing boxes in comfortable silence.

“Hey Liz?” Maria spoke up finally. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you actually seem happy today. And…I mean…you haven’t for a really long time.”

Liz sat back on her bed, thinking. “I feel happy.”

“Really?”

She nodded seriously. “Well…content. I can’t explain it, exactly, but it feels like things are starting to fall into place.” Liz paused, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “For the first time since I found out about the baby, it feels like things really will work out.”

“It will,” Maria assured. “You and Max will make it work.”

Liz glanced up at her friend and then down at her belly, resting her fingertips against it. And she smiled. “We heard the baby’s heartbeat,” she announced shyly.

Maria’s eyes widened. “Liz, that’s so cool! You didn’t tell me that before, you just said everything was normal. So…the heartbeat was, too? No weird buzzing or anything?”

Liz shook her head and grinned. “Nope. A healthy baby heartbeat. You should have seen Max’s face…”

“I wish I could have seen your face, chica!” Maria laughed. “You’re glowing just talking about it!”

“What?” Liz jumped to her feet and peered into the mirror, and then turned around and rolled her eyes at her giggling best friend. “Not the best wording, Maria,” she said dryly.

*****

“Bye guys, thanks again for everything,” Liz called from the doorway of the apartment. Michael, Maria, Isabel, Jesse and Kyle had spent the entire hot, dry Saturday afternoon of Labor Day weekend helping Max and Liz move in to their new apartment and unpack. Kyle’s father, Jim, had helped earlier in the day before going on duty at the police station, and even Philip and Diane Evans and Nancy Parker had been by to see their children’s new home and help get them settled, bringing by pizzas and soda. Both were rather surprised, but thrilled that their parents – three out of four, anyway – were being so wonderful.

She watched as her friends retreated down the hallway and jumped as a pair of hands grabbed her waist. “Alone in our new home,” Max murmured, nuzzling her neck. “Whatever shall we do?” He spun Liz around and, kicking the door shut behind them, began attacking her lips with his own.

After a moment, Liz broke away and smiled mischievously. “Well…there’s that old tradition…” she trailed off slyly.

Max slid his hands down her overall-clad body. “Which one?” he asked, his voice growing husky.

Tracing her fingers down his chest, Liz inched her way to the erection she could already feel against her hip. She studied his face as she ran her hand over the lump in his worn jeans and said, “The one that involves christening every room in a new house…”

“Every room, huh?” He could feel himself respond immediately to her touch, one that had been missing in such an intimate manner lately. “I’m, ah, a little…out of practice…”

“Make love to me, Max,” she whispered, her warm breath sighing in his ear.

In a blind wave of passion, Max lifted Liz up to straddle his waist and moved to the kitchen table. He swept the empty boxes of pizza off to the side, paying no attention to the greasy cardboard as it hit the floor, and placed her on the table’s edge.

Liz braced herself with her arms, moaning as Max’s lips began their searing assault on her neck. He fumbled with the fastenings of her overalls, finally unhooking them and pulling them down to her waist. Sliding her own hands around and up under his t-shirt, Liz ran them along his firm sides and across his tight chest. She yanked the hem up, and he helped her pull it over his head before returning to her lips.

As their tongues danced languidly, Max cupped her breasts, kneading the soft flesh beneath her shirt. He groaned when he realized she wasn’t wearing a bra. Eagerly his hands pulled her shirt up and off and then returned to her chest.

A low moan escaped Liz’s throat as he rolled her nipples between his thumb and forefinger, performing magic on her slightly swollen breasts. One hand drifted down her body, and suddenly Max pulled back and simply stood before her, his breath coming in gasps.

“Why did you stop?” she asked, confused. Following his eyes, Liz looked down and was met with the now familiar glow from her stomach.

“I don’t know if it’s safe,” he admitted, his brown furrowed in concern. “I – I mean, I want to-“ He gestured needlessly to the erection straining against his jeans. “But I don’t want to hurt you. Or the baby.”

“Max,” Liz sighed, reaching for him. “You won’t. It’s been too long, and I feel really good now. I…I need this, Max. I need you.”

Who was he to argue with that request? Max crushed his mouth to hers, drinking from her lips hungrily. Liz blindly reached for the zipper of his jeans, stretched across him tightly. Max helped her hands slide both the jeans and his boxers down his hips before stepping out of them. Liz lifted herself slightly so that Max could pull off her overalls and panties, and then he paused before her again.

He gazed down at her, studying the changes that were already beginning to occur in her body since the last time they had made love – the night their baby was conceived. It was unnoticeable beneath her clothing; but lying naked before him, Max could see that her breasts were becoming fuller and that a slight swell was beginning just below her navel.

“You are so beautiful,” he breathed, reaching out to caress her cheek.

Liz leaned into his hand, pressing a kiss into his palm before pulling him to her and closing the space between them. She sighed as Max entered her, guiding himself slowly…ever so slowly…watching her face for any sign of pain. When she couldn’t take it any longer Liz thrust her hips forward to meet his, crying out his name as he pierced her body with his own.

Their lovemaking hit a fever pitch as they joined again and again, in the living room, on the bathroom floor, in the spare bedroom, and even once in the hallway when Liz suddenly locked her legs around Max’s waist and he pinned her to the wall. By the time they made it to their bed hours later, exhausted and drenched in sweat, they could only cling to one another as they whispered words of their love.

“I don’t know how I’ll ever eat off our kitchen table,” Liz giggled after a while, lazily throwing her arm across Max’s chest.

Max chuckled, sliding his fingers through her damp hair. “I’m pretty sure the DeLuca’s wouldn’t want us to bother ever returning that recliner, either.”

Liz wrapped her leg around Max’s, propping her chin in her hand and giving him a satisfied grin. Max traced one finger along her jaw, smiling back. “I guess this means everything was okay?”

“It was amazing,” she said, her expression turning serious. “Max, do you remember that time at Michael’s apartment, years ago? The night we slept in the desert? I touched your chest, and I couldn’t make you glow.”

Max cradled Liz’s face in his hands. “And I told you I was glowing everywhere. But it was on the inside, and you couldn’t see it.”

“Tonight, Max…I did see it,” she confided softly. “When we came at the same time in the kitchen and the living room, I…I touched your chest and we glowed.” Max was silent, so Liz continued. “I don’t know why it happened, but it felt incredible, Max. I think…maybe because of the baby?”

“Maybe,” he whispered, gazing at her intently. “Can…can I see?”

Liz bit her lip and nodded, rolling onto Max’s nude body. What had previously been hungry and frenzied was now intense and passionate. They made love languidly, with a oneness that rivaled all their previous unions, and never broke eye contact with one another.

Max had nearly lost himself in the dark depths of her eyes when he felt her begin to tighten spasmodically and realized that he, too, was there. “Are you-“ he gasped.

Liz nodded, biting her lip again to keep from crying out, and pressed one hand to his chest as they moved together. Max watched as her hand rested over his thundering heart, and as he felt them explode, a shimmering glow appeared where she touched him.

A sob escaped Liz’s throat as she watched the contact between her hand and his heart. Max’s hand reached out to cover hers, and the sudden jolt of their connection was so strong that it actually shocked their bodies.

A little boy. His son. No. Their son. A perfect combination. Dark hair. Max’s deep amber eyes. Liz’s warm, gentle smile. Both of their features, together. He was…beautiful.

“Did you see?” Liz gasped, still clinging to Max.

He nodded, closing his eyes and swallowing hard as he slowed beneath her. “He’s…perfect, Liz,” he murmured, turning them both onto their sides, their bodies still joined.

Liz snuggled closer to Max’s warmth, resting her head against his chest as a peaceful slumber began to overtake her. The glow from her hand was fading, and Max pulled her soft form closer. He slid one hand down her side and between their bodies. A surge of warmth flowed through him with the glow their son reflected. “I love you,” he whispered into her hair.

In her sleep, Liz smiled.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 20-Feb-2002 4:29:36 PM ]
posted on 23-Feb-2002 2:17:47 AM by McGees
Thanks so much for the feedback! To my regulars,
Sherry, Lisa, Heidi, Becca, Robyn, roswellluver, BLS , and to the other folks who have left feedback, ya'll are fabulous! I love hearing from you! *big* A welcome to the new readers, and to those of you out there lurking, drop me a line! I love to hear your different points of view. Here's the latest...feedback will definitely keep me motivated...(hint hint...*wink*) There's so much more to tell!

15

Max lay on the bed, his arms crossed behind his head, staring at the ceiling. The sound of a clearing throat drew his attention from his wandering thoughts to the doorway. There stood a grinning Liz, wearing one of his old t-shirts. Max gulped. She couldn’t have been any sexier if she was wearing a lace negligée. Something about his fiancé wearing his shirt, the cotton falling to mid-thigh, and her hair flowing loose over her shoulders, was turning him on. Big time.

Liz’s eyes flitted to his plaid boxers for the briefest of instants before she casually tucked her hair behind her ear and headed for the small closet.

Max watched the flirty sway of her hips with avid interest as the blood rushed to his groin. She reached for something on the top shelf, the t-shirt riding up her body and exposing her silky panties. He uttered a low growl.

Turning around with the pair of flared khakis she’d retrieved, Liz carefully ignored the desire in Max’s eyes. She laid the pants on the foldable ironing board and smiled innocently. “Doesn’t it feel like we’re playing house or something?” she laughed.

“Uh huh,” he said, his voice growing husky. He’d play whatever she wanted…

“Do you need anything ironed for tomorrow before I put the board away?” Liz continued, running the iron up and down over the fabric.

Max watched the fluid movement of her arm, amazed that something so simple could get him so turned on. “Uh…no,” he managed. “I’m…all ready for tomorrow.”

Liz bit her lip and nodded, turning her attention back to the board. She couldn’t keep the smirk from forming on her lips as she added a bit more movement from her hips with each stroke of the iron. She didn’t know what was making her so cheeky tonight. Perhaps it was that silly excitement she always felt the eve of “the first day of school.” But, more likely, it was the simple joy that came from being with Max. Though they had only moved in a few days before, they had both fallen effortlessly into their routine.

The first morning waking up together, Liz prepared them a special breakfast of finger food to share in bed. They spent the afternoon unpacking, organizing, and doing other little things to make the place feel like home. And Max, in turn, had insisted Liz put her feet up while he made dinner – spaghetti with homemade sauce, which had surprised Liz considering he was fresh out of Michael’s Lean Cuisine-friendly kitchen.

Liz switched off the iron and bent over to unplug it. She heard a low groan from the bed and grinned, realizing she’d just given Max quite an eyeful. She turned around and her grin widened.

Max was propped up on his elbows, gazing at her hotly from under hooded lids. Her effect on him was now clearly visible, tenting his boxers and causing Liz to suck in her breath.

“Are you done ironing?” he asked pitifully.

“Uh huh!” Liz scampered to the bed and crawled across it, planting herself on Max’s lap.

He groaned again, much deeper this time, as Liz ground her center against his erection. “Oh god, Liz…what you do to me,” he murmured, capturing her mouth in a hungry kiss.

“Do I make you hot?” Liz asked innocently, nipping at his lips as he pulled her body closer and cupped the globes of her bottom over her panties.

“Very,” he breathed, squeezing the soft flesh beneath his hands and making her gasp.

Liz slid back slightly and grabbed one of his hands in her own, guiding it past the material bunched around her waist and to the crotch of her panties. “As hot as I am right now?”

Max growled deep in his throat as his fingers encountered the damp heat radiating from her core. “Let’s find out,” he said devilishly, sliding the rim of her panties to the side and dipping a long finger into her.

Arching her back, Liz moaned at the feeling of his probing finger in her body. She bucked against his hand, urging him deeper. The friction caused by Liz’s thighs was making his penis throb. But Max held on, inserting another finger into her passage and working her body into a frenzy.

“Max! Oh…oh god…I’m coming!” Liz cried out. Max bent his knees, one resting under each of her shoulder blades for support as she slumped back, spiraling into release.

His arousal now poking up through the flap in his boxers, Max struggled to keep control as Liz’s walls vibrated over his soaking fingers. He gently slid them free from her body and went to release himself from the confines of his boxers. He grunted as his slick fingers brushed over his erection.

Liz’s mouth hung open slightly, recovering from her orgasm and feeling her body twitch again at seeing Max touch himself.

“Let me help,” she breathed, her fingers closing over his. They slid easily over his hardened flesh, lubricated by her own moisture.

“I want to be in you, Liz,” he moaned, his eyes dark with desire. “Let me…let me in.”

No argument was heard from Liz as she dragged her panties down her legs and shifted her feet to pull them off. She moaned right along with Max as their burning centers came into contact, positively searing the sensitive flesh.

After a moment of teasing, Max pulled Liz onto him with one long stroke. She slid right back up again, only to then swallow him to the hilt as she sank down. Max’s head thrashed against the pillow, clutching Liz’s hips as she rode him again and again.

“Liiiiiz…!” He came with a serrated wail, pumping his hot seed into her waiting body. Her tight walls milked him for every drop as she tumbled into her own orgasm, panting his name as he drove into her one last time. Liz collapsed onto him, their sweat-slicked bodies melding into one even as he softened inside of her.

“Liz, I…wow…” Max marveled, smoothing Liz’s hair back from her face. “I’m never going to get tired of this.”

She smiled down on him, tracing her fingers along his strong jaw. “What’s that, baby?”

“Being inside of you,” he said earnestly, his amber eyes bright with love. “Feeling you…just surround me.”

Liz bit her lip and watched as Max’s hand slipped between their bodies, laying his palm on her belly. He was in awe that there was a part of him inside her all the time now. Liz felt his emotion through their connection and tears sprang to her eyes. She was carrying a part of Max, the most important thing he could trust her with – his son.

“Our son,” Max corrected, gazing up at her intently. “And I thank you for trusting me enough to do this.” He paused, turning them onto their sides, and stroked her cheek with his other hand. “Liz, all the things you’ve had to sacrifice…”

Pressing a kiss into his palm, Liz smiled in reassurance. “I wouldn’t trade what we have here for anything in the world, Max. This is the biggest adventure of my life, and I’m sharing it with you. Nothing else could feel so right.”

Max framed her face in his hands. “God, I love you,” he murmured, kissing her soundly. What had he done to deserve this beautiful woman, who had loved and accepted him through so much that she would carry his child?

Liz thought back to those three words he had said to her so long ago and smiled. “It was you.”

*****

“So my English professor, right? He wears a dead cat on his head,” Maria announced, taking a sip of her iced tea.

Max and Liz glanced at each other in amusement and then across the booth at Maria. “Bad toupee?” Max asked.

Maria shook her head vehemently. “I swear to god, you can’t even call it that. It looks like a hunk of fur, and while he was writing on the board, it started slipping down the back of his head. I figured the claws launched it to his skull, but apparently not.”

Isabel swept into the Crashdown then, sliding in beside Maria. “Professor Conner?” she asked. “Yeah. Dead cat. I had him last semester.”

“Iz, where’s Jesse?” Liz asked.

“Working late on a case,” she sighed. “That’s what happens when you take Labor Day off. Go figure.”

“No Kyle, either,” Maria added. “I had Econ with him this afternoon and he’s doing the dorm thing tonight.”

“He found a hot girl, didn’t he?”

“Probably.”

Michael appeared from the kitchen and slid into the booth on Maria’s other side, pecking her cheek. “So how was the first day of higher learning?” he demanded, rubbing his hands together and then wrinkling his nose and rubbing them on his apron.

The rest of the group didn’t have much reaction to the mention of school. Max shrugged. “Maria’s professor wears a dead cat,” he offered.

“Nice,” Michael nodded at Maria. “Yeah, I’m definitely fine with starting a year later at the community college.”

“Right, because instead you get to spend lots of quality time with my dad and Jose,” Liz teased.

“Hey, don’t knock Jose,” Michael defended. “He’s back there making burgers for us. Besides, I’m raking in the bucks now that I don’t have school to get in the way during the day.”

Isabel cleared her throat. “That’s enviable, Michael. Anyway, Liz, you still have Diversity tomorrow at ten with me, don’t you?”

Liz nodded. “Yep, Monday-Wednesday-Friday.” She sighed. “Those days are gonna kill me. Four classes back-to-back.”

“How many credit hours did you take this semester?” Isabel asked, her eyes wide.

“Seventeen,” Liz admitted. “But I’m only taking ten second semester, so I figure it evens out.”

“I still think we should talk about that,” Max cut in. “I don’t want you pushing yourself too hard right before he’s born, Liz.”

“Ah, the protective husband,” Maria grinned, reaching across the table to grab Liz’s hand and examine her ring for the umpteenth time.

Isabel’s eyes had narrowed. “Did you say ‘he’? That’s being awfully presumptuous, Max. I mean, this baby could just as easily be my niece-“

“Actually…he’s not being presumptuous,” Liz admitted slowly, glancing at Max with a grin.

Max leaned closer to the group. “We’re having a boy,” he confided proudly.

“Hey, high five, man! Way to go!” Michael congratulated.

Maria shushed him. “Wait, wait, wait,” she began. “Liz, you’re, like, barely two months along. You’re not even showing yet, how could you possibly…oh.” She trailed off upon seeing the sweet private look shared by Max and Liz. “Well. I won’t ask you to prove it.”

“How does a nephew sound, Auntie Izzy?” Max grinned at his sister.

Isabel clapped her hands together. “It sounds great!” Her smile faded momentarily. “But it’s Aunt Isabel. I’m not feeling the ‘Auntie Izzy’ thing.”

*****

Michael led Maria into his apartment, kissing her feverishly, as he kicked the door shut behind them. They made their way blindly to the sofa, flopping down onto the cushions, and then jumping apart when the TV went on full-blast.

“Christ,” Michael cursed under his breath, reaching behind him and pulling out the remote. He quickly clicked the volume down and then returned to his ministrations.

“Mmm…Michael…Michael, wait,” Maria gasped, pulling away from him. “It’s Spaceballs, I love this movie!”

Michael gaped at her as her attention turned to the television. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Calm down, Spaceboy,” Maria demanded distractedly, pulling her feet up to sit indian-style as she leaned back against the cushions. “This is, like, the best part. ‘I see your schwartz is as big as mine,’” she mimicked with a giggle.

Rolling his eyes, Michael dropped his head back against the back of the couch. “Maria…”

“Don’t worry, Michael, yours is much bigger,” Maria assured, making a face at him. “Come on, man, you’re the alien. I figured you’d get into this kind of thing.”

Michael didn’t answer, only reached for her again and pulled her onto his lap. This time Maria responded in kind, parting her lips and sliding her tongue into his mouth. They continued exploring one another for several minutes until Maria again pulled away.

“What now?” Michael groaned, beginning to feel the effects of his sexual frustration.

Maria had burst into giggles. “You know what’s funny?” she asked. “We totally wouldn’t have been able to do this a week ago.”

Michael ran his hand up and down her thigh. “We did more than this a week ago,” he mumbled.

“We couldn’t have been so…spontaneous,” she continued. “I mean, Max could have walked in at any second and wanted to go to bed…and now you’ve got the place to yourself…”

Now Michael pulled away just slightly. “Yeah.”

“Michael?” Maria tipped his chin up so he would meet her eyes. “Are you okay?”

“Of course,” he said gruffly. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

Maria arched an eyebrow. “I don’t know…maybe because you miss Max?”

Michael groaned. “Trust me, Max is not the most prominent thing on my mind right now.”

She clapped a hand to her mouth. “You do, don’t you? Michael, you miss Max!”

“Maria, can we not make a big deal out of-“

“Spaceboy!” Maria cooed. “That’s so sweet! I mean, of course you’d miss him, the guy’s your best friend and he lived in your apartment for almost a year.” She paused thoughtfully. “Heck, I miss Liz.”

Michael sighed and withdrew his hand from beneath her shirt. Yeah, he definitely wasn’t going to get any. Somehow Max’s absence was just as distracting as if he were standing above them, demanding the couch. “You miss Liz,” he repeated.

“Well yeah,” Maria began, snuggling up to Michael’s side. “I mean, she’s got this whole new life now. She and Max are living together, they’re going to get
married, she’s going to be a mother…there’s all these new things in her life that I’m not going to be a part of, you know?”

“Blondie, you two are best friends. Nothing’s going to change that,” he reminded, his touch reassuring as he pulled her against his chest.

Maria sighed. “Thanks, Michael. I needed to hear that.” She paused for a moment. “Can I stay here tonight?”

“What about your mom?” Michael asked, stroking her hair.

“She’s out with Jim.”

Michael choked back a guffaw. “Jim Valenti?”

“Yes,” Maria hissed. “And don’t even start, Michael Guerin, because-“

“I’m just surprised, that’s all,” he defended. “I thought that was over a long time ago-“

“So did I,” Maria grumbled. “But it sure didn’t sound that way when I got home last weekend.”

Michael’s eyes widened. “Holy…does Kyle know about this?”

“Right, Michael, because I’m just dying to inform him that my mom and his dad were getting it on in my living room.” She wrinkled her nose in disgust. “Anyway, I really doubt Mom is gonna notice if I come home tonight.”

“You know you can stay,” Michael murmured, kissing the top of her head.

Maria smiled in satisfaction, settling back in Michael’s embrace and running her fingers over his forearms. “So I was thinking, Spaceboy…”

“Yeah?” He swallowed hard, his hand dancing dangerously close to her inner thigh.

“How about some popcorn and a Snapple?” She kissed his jaw and returned her attention to the television.

Michael sighed in defeat. “Yeah…just what I was thinking.”


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 23-Feb-2002 2:47:07 AM ]
posted on 25-Feb-2002 12:02:28 AM by McGees
Thanks for your feedback! I always love to hear it, good, bad, or otherwise. "Hi" to any new readers, and welcome back to some of you who are catching up. Here's the latest. Any questions or comments, you know the drill!

16

Liz gazed down at her son cradled in her arms, humming a soft lullaby. The glow that emulated between mother and child bathed them both in a brilliant light that reflected the bond that existed there. Liz’s heart swelled with love for the tiny angel in her arms, and she leaned closer to place a feathery kiss on his forehead.

Suddenly, her surroundings darkened. A shadow, black and cold, invaded their peaceful glow. It was reaching for her. Reaching for her son. “No,” she whispered fiercely. “He’s mine. You can’t…you can’t take him, too.”

Liz hugged the baby closer to her body, feeling her heart speed up as she whispered soothingly to him. “I won’t let anyone hurt you, my angel.”

“Liz? Liz?”

“Mmm…” Liz groaned, clinging to the body in her arms.

“Liz, babe, wake up.”

With a soft whimper, Liz’s eyes flickered open. The baby was gone, and she was met instead with Max’s sleepy, concerned face. “Max?”

“You were talking in your sleep,” he explained, brushing her hair from her face and cupping her chin in his palm.

Liz nodded, closing her eyes. She couldn’t remember…what, exactly…but her baby… She grabbed Max’s hand and placed it under her pajama top, covering the place where their son lay. The relief washed through her as the gentle glow appeared beneath their hands.

Max watched this, momentarily bewildered, as Liz sighed and snuggled back into his arms. Neither said another word, simply linked their fingers over her stomach and allowed slumber to take over again.

*****

"Mom, tell me you’re not thinking of hiring a wedding planner,” Isabel shuddered.

Diane Evans smiled sardonically at her daughter from the driver’s seat. “I learned my lesson with you last fall,” she assured. “I just rented some bridal catalogues for Liz to flip through. Different themes and packages and such.”

They pulled up in front of the Crashdown and unloaded armfuls of wedding books, bridal catalogs, and a file of information from when Isabel and Jesse were married.

Maria grinned when she saw them. “Liz said to go ahead upstairs,” she said. “I get off in a half hour, and then I’ll be up, too.” She let out a little squeal of excitement, fairly bouncing up and down. “Planning a wedding, this is so exciting!”

Isabel chuckled, placing her hand on the pot of coffee Maria clutched. “Lay off this stuff.”

They made their way to the back room, nearly running into Jeff Parker on his way out. “Diane. Isabel.” He nodded in greeting.

“Jeff, hi,” Diane said amicably. “I was talking to your wife this morning. She and Liz are upstairs?”

Jeff nodded again, glancing at the books in their arms. “Go ahead up. They’re looking at wedding stuff.” He cleared his throat. “Excuse me,” he said, continuing into the café.

“Asshole,” Isabel muttered under her breath.

“Izzy,” Diane warned.

Isabel rolled her eyes. “What, Mother? He is. His attitude is making this whole situation a lot more uncomfortable than it needs to be.”

Diane headed for the stairs to the Parker’s apartment. “He’s adjusting, Iz. Liz is his only child, and this has been a lot to digest-“

“You’re right. Liz is his only child, and I’d think he could muster up some support like the rest of us.”

Diane sighed. “He agreed to walk her down the aisle.”

“Huh?”

“He’s going to walk Liz down the aisle,” Diane repeated. “She doesn’t know it yet. At first he wasn’t even going attend to the wedding, but Nancy told me this morning that out of nowhere last night he said, ‘I want to walk Liz down the aisle.’” She paused. “He’s afraid that now she won’t want him to.”

Isabel bit her lip. “Of course she will. A girl always needs her father to walk her down the aisle.”

Diane squeezed Isabel’s free hand as they entered the apartment. “Nancy? Liz?”

“We’re in here,” Liz called from the kitchen.

“Hi,” Isabel grinned, placing her things on the cluttered table and squeezing Liz’s shoulder before sitting down beside them.

Diane kissed Liz’s cheek. “How’re you feeling, sweetie?”

“A little overwhelmed,” Liz laughed, gesturing to the calendar she and her mother were going through.

“Deciding a date,” Nancy supplied.

“I always wanted a June wedding,” Liz admitted. She glanced down at her belly. “But I don’t think the timing is quite right.”

Nancy sighed, squeezing her daughter’s hand. “So they’re thinking about the end of December, while they’re on break.”

“You can have your six month anniversary in June, then,” Isabel offered lamely.

“Things will be so different then…”

“But it’ll all be here before you know it,” Diane said gently. “The wedding, that little baby…” She smiled. “And that’s why we’re here to help.”

“Thank you,” Liz said quietly. “We really appreciate it.”

“So Liz, have you and Max decided where you want to have the ceremony?” Isabel asked, getting down to business. “December doesn’t give us a whole lot of time to get organized.”

“We’re deciding. It’s so hard to gauge what the weather will be like in December around here, but… I think Max would really like us to get married in your garden.”

Diane smiled at her future daughter-in-law. “I think that could be arranged. We’d be honored.”

“That could be really pretty, Liz, but what about space?” Isabel spoke up. “There wouldn’t be a lot of room out there.”

“Oh, well we could set up chairs in the yard,” Diane began. “And we can start the aisle from-“

“Max and I don’t need a big wedding,” Liz cut in quickly. “Just our closest friends and family. The people that are most important to us.”

Nancy nodded her understanding. “But Liz, this is your wedding day we’re talking about. We want to make it special for you and Max.”

Liz smiled to herself. “Mom…the fact that it’s me and Max, devoting our lives to one another, is the most special part about it. We don’t need a lot of frills to do that. Anything aside from the vows is really just icing on the cake.”

“Cake! Oh!” Isabel burst out. “I can get a good deal on one from the bakery where we got ours because they give a discount for another cake within a year of your wedding date.”

Diane arched her eyebrow. “Assuming you get re-married?”

Isabel shrugged. “I don’t know. We’ll just order it in our name and not ask any questions.”

“That would be great, Isabel, thanks,” Liz replied. “It’s nice to have someone who’s been through all this recently. What other things should we be worrying about now?”

Isabel flipped through the calendar in full wedding nazi mode. “Well, you’re looking at about fourteen weeks. It sounds like a lot, but it’s really not.” She grinned at Liz reassuringly. “But trust me, it can be done!”

Nancy nudged Diane. “I think we’ve just found ourselves a wedding planner,” she chuckled.

*****

“How did things go this afternoon?” Max asked as he settled onto their couch with Liz, his head resting in her lap.

Liz smiled down at him. “What are you doing December 28?”

Max grinned, tapping his finger to his chin as he pretended to ponder this. “Having an after Christmas Playstation marathon with Michael?”

“Max!” Liz punched his arm playfully. “Better than that, even.”

He eyed her doubtfully. “Better than that? Oh!” He grabbed her hand before she could smack him again. “I bet I know. I’m getting married to the most beautiful woman in the world.” Max smiled at her sweetly, punctuating the last few words with kisses to her fingertips.

Liz blushed slightly, nodding. “Nice save, by the way,” she laughed, running her fingers through his dark hair.

“December 28,” Max said thoughtfully. “That means we’ll still be on our honeymoon for New Years.” He grinned mischievously. “What a way to ring in the year.”

“We can be together at midnight this year,” Liz added, remembering the previous New Years Eve, when they’d apart. What a night that had been. Michael getting drunk, Max and Maria finding Enigma, her dad making his resolution…

Liz shook her head. No. She was not going to let those thoughts ruin this happy moment with Max, who had pulled up the front of her shirt and was tickling her stomach. “Just you and me.” He paused, grinning up at her and then placing a kiss on her belly. “Well, and Junior here.”

“Junior?” Liz repeated, her eyes twinkling with amusement. “I didn’t realize you’d already named our child.”

Max gazed lovingly at the soft glow that shone from Liz’s stomach, running his fingers over the soft skin. “Just a thought,” he murmured, nuzzling his cheek against her.

“Well, Junior here will definitely be making his presence known by then,” Liz continued. “Your blushing bride will be as big as a house!”

“Never,” Max assured. “You are going to be beautiful. My beautiful bride, glowing in her white gown.”

Liz burst out laughing. “I think it’s a little too late to wear white, babe.” She paused. “But get this, Ms. DeLuca wants to make my dress. Isn’t that sweet? Maria was hanging out after her shift today and she said her mom has already started drawing up a few designs for me to look at.”

“What did the wedding nazi have to say about that?” Max chuckled.

“Isabel was fine with it, she just wants to make sure she’s kept up to speed on the bridesmaids’ dresses.”

Max shifted slightly, wrapping his arms around Liz’s waist. “See, it’s so much more complicated for you women. Me, Michael, and Jesse will rent tuxes and we’ll be all set.”

Liz wrinkled her nose playfully. “Well good for you. If tuxes are all you have to worry about, then you can rent them for your dad and my dad, too.”

Max’s expression turned serious. “Your dad too?”

Liz bit her lip, nodding. “He wants to walk me down the aisle, Max,” she said quietly.

“You’re kidding.” Max sat up, staring at his fiancée. “When did you talk to him about it?”

“I didn’t,” Liz sighed. “My mom told me this afternoon. She asked me not to make a big deal about it, because he was afraid of what my reaction would be.”

“What does he have to be afraid of?” Max asked, perplexed.

“I don’t know, exactly. I think it just means that he wants to support me, but he doesn’t necessarily approve of what I’m doing. Like, he doesn’t want me to assume he’s fine with everything. And that’s almost just as bad.” She paused. “Maybe I should just walk down the aisle by myself. It’s not that big of a deal.”

Max wound his arm around her shoulders and hugged her close. “You’ll regret it if you don’t let him do it,” he murmured. “Liz, he’s your father. And even if things are rocky between you right now, they won’t be forever. You’d both realize eventually what a mistake it was, and it’s not something you can just do over.” Max kissed her cheek. “Besides, it wouldn’t be fair for me to keep you all to myself that day. I know I’m going to have to share you for at least one dance, too.”

Liz giggled. “What if I don’t want to be shared?” she countered, climbing into his lap and staring at him with her big brown eyes.

Max sighed. “But I really shouldn’t be selfish…” he said grudgingly, sucking in his breath as Liz’s lips latched onto his neck. “Mmm…well…maybe just this one time…”

posted on 26-Feb-2002 10:22:43 AM by McGees
Bumping my own fic. Ugh, I know, what a dork! *wink*
It's really just in anticipation of the next part, which I'm planning to get posted later today.

Also, a welcome to the new readers, either just finding it or coming out of lurk-dom. And as always, THANK YOU to the regulars who keep leaving such inspiring feedback! You're the best!
posted on 27-Feb-2002 11:22:23 AM by McGees
17a

“Hello, my angel,” Liz cooed softly. “Do you know how much Mommy loves you?”

The baby in her arms gurgled in response, kicking his tiny feet. Liz marveled at him, at her son, at how much love was in her heart for him. She touched his soft cheek, her fingers grazing the ears that he had clearly inherited from his daddy.

“I love you so much, angel,” Liz continued, cradling him tenderly. The baby studied her intently, his deep amber eyes struggling to focus on his mother’s face.

And as Liz gazed down at her son, the shadow crossed over his face. It swept in suddenly, enveloping them in a dark haze as Liz’s arms tightened around the baby’s small body.

“No!” she cried into the darkness. “I won’t let you!” Her words were swallowed into the air swirling around her, the echoes taunting her. “No!” Her body was trembling uncontrollably, and she felt the terrifying force of the darkness pulling at her. “No!”

“Liz!”

She jerked awake, brought out of her nightmare by Max’s voice and gentle shaking. “Shhh,” he soothed, pulling her into his arms. He smoothed the sweat-dampened hair from her forehead and rained soft kisses on her face. “Shh, baby, it’s okay.”

Liz clung to him, willing her heart to stop pounding. It was just a nightmare. The same as all the others she’d been having for the past two weeks.

“It was just a nightmare,” Max repeated in reassurance, his fingers weaving into the hair at the nape of her neck. They were coming every other night now, completely out of nowhere. He sighed, pressing his lips to her temple.

But that’s all they were, nightmares. During the day, all was well. Liz and the baby were both healthy, and their son was developing nicely, according to Dr. Sinclair. They had asked him about the nightmares at Liz’s appointment the week before, and the doctor assured them it was nothing to get overly concerned about. Liz’s hormones were slightly out of sorts in response to her pregnancy, and with the pressures of school and work, her body was only reacting to stress.

Max, of course, had gone out of his way to make sure Liz didn’t have any unneeded stress, driving her to and from classes whenever possible, preparing meals, and even conning Maria into taking a couple of Liz’s shifts at the Crashdown by giving her his key to Michael’s apartment.

But at night, when the terrifying dreams hit, there was nothing he could do. He would wake up to Liz’s thrashing and moaning and crying out, and then try to awaken her before the nightmare became too intense.

He rubbed a soothing hand up and down her back, shifting Liz in his arms so he could reach between them to her growing belly. Max had come to realize that this was the only real way to calm her down. Clasping her hand in his, Max covered the slight roundness and felt her body begin to relax. Their baby’s glow was always a comfort, but never more so than after one of Liz’s nightmares.

“He’s fine, love,” Max murmured into Liz’s ear. “See, he’s saying hi to us.”

A slight smile flickered across Liz’s face as she watched the glow intently. “Hello, angel,” she whispered. “Mommy loves you.”

Max squeezed her hand over her stomach. “Daddy loves you, too. And I’m not going to let anything happen to you or Mommy.” He tilted Liz’s chin up. “I promise,” he added, kissing her tenderly.

Liz sighed, curling her body as close to Max’s as she could. “I love you,” she murmured into the darkness.

Holding her tightly, Max kept watch over his beloved as her breath slowly became deeper and more even, not allowing himself to slip into slumber until Liz was safely there.

*****

“That English class has become the bane of my existence,” Kyle grumbled as he, Liz, and Isabel made their way across campus. “Hey Iz? You had Conner last semester, didn’t you?”

Isabel arched her eyebrow suspiciously. “What’s your point, Kyle?”

Kyle shrugged innocently. “Well I was just thinking you could hook me up with your midterm paper. You know, give your buddy Kyle here a little sumthin-sumthin.”

Liz burst out laughing, and Isabel groaned. “Just for that, Kyle Valenti, you’re not getting your hands on any of my work.”

As he was about to make his brilliant retort, someone ran up behind them and jumped onto his back. “God, Maria,” he grunted.

“Kyle, you promised you’d lose the goatee,” she scolded. “You look like Euro-trash.”

“Hey!” Kyle stroked his chin, insulted. “A girl in my bio class today told me it was sexy.”

“Yeah, okay Kyle,” Maria patronized with a roll of her eyes, still bracing herself on his back. “Lizzie, hon, am I working for you again this afternoon?”

“No,” Liz assured quickly. “I don’t need to give my dad any more reason to doubt my competence. I told Max I’m not letting you take any more of my shifts.”

“Good deal,” Maria agreed. “This is the only day I’ve got off all week. I’ve hardly seen Michael at, with him working during the day while I’m at class. I’ve gotta make sure he’s not growing any funky facial hair,” she added with a disdainful look at Kyle.

“That’s it, get off me,” Kyle groaned, dumping Maria to her feet.

Isabel laughed. “Hey Liz?” she continued. “I want to stop by during your break to show you some different flower arrangements.”

“Sounds great,” Liz nodded. “Maria, does your mom still want to get some measurements this weekend?”

“Yeah, she said any time on Saturday before four. I guess she and Jim are going out again,” Maria added, nudging Kyle.

“So how serious is that these days?” Isabel asked with a grin, loving how uncomfortable the conversation was making him.

“It sounds pretty serious,” Maria said with a roll of her eyes.

Kyle flinched. “Oh! Ew! My virgin ears,” he complained.

“Yeah, well, your virgin ears aren’t having to hear it from the bedroom,” Maria shot back.

“How is it that my dad is getting some and I’m not?” Kyle wondered aloud.

“Those dry spells really suck, Kyle,” Isabel sympathized, turning to the girls with a wicked grin. “Of course, I wouldn’t know-“

“That’s it, me and my goatee are going to the cafeteria before I completely lose my appetite,” Kyle grumbled.

“Funny, that’s where we’re headed too.” Maria smiled, linking arms with Liz and looking around the quad. “So this is college,” she declared suddenly.

“Yeah, it has been for three weeks,” Liz reminded her friend.

“I know, but it just hits me sometimes,” Maria protested. “Like, I look around and just go, ‘whoa.’ It feels like I’m on Felicity or something.” She grinned, and then to her friends’ horror, began belting out, “Neeeew version of you, I need a new version of meeeeee-“

Kyle reached around and clapped his hand over her mouth. “Are you insane?” he hissed. “We just passed a totally hot girl.” He paused and sighed. “Who now probably thinks I’m gay.”

“Poor Kyle,” Isabel laughed, patting his head. “You just come to lunch and have some girl talk with us, you’ll feel much better.”

“I never thought I’d say this,” Kyle whined pitifully, “But I want Maaax."

*****

Maria kicked back on Michael’s couch with a satisfied grin, adjusting her slinky black negligee. Dessert before dinner tonight, baby, she smirked to herself. She glanced at the clock. 4:15. Michael would be home any time, and boy oh boy did he have a surprise waiting for him.

As if on cue, the door opened. Maria slid further down the couch. As soon as he walked in, she would pop up. His footsteps got closer. Maria launched herself up. “Hey babe – oh my god!” she gasped.

Max jumped back. “Uh, hi Maria.” He cleared his throat. “Am I interrupting something?”

“Not yet,” Maria grumbled, yanking the afghan off the back of the couch and wrapping it around her scantily clad form.

“Is Michael here?” he asked, struggling to fight back his amused grin.

“I’m waiting for him to get home,” she said pointedly.

“Do you mind if I sit down?” Max asked, gesturing to the couch.

Maria sighed. “Yeah. Go ahead.”

“I talked to Michael when I dropped Liz off at work. I thought maybe he’d be back by now.”

“Not yet, obviously.” She paused, noticing the dark circles ringing Max’s eyes. “Hey…is everything okay?”

Max nodded, rubbing his eyes. “Yeah…” he began hesitantly. “Maria, how’s Liz been lately?”

“I think you’d know better than me.” Maria shrugged. “She seems happy, you know? Content. Busy, but…Max, where is this going?”

“She’s been having nightmares,” Max confided. “About the baby.”

“What about the baby?” Maria asked, her voice growing shrill. “Is everything okay?”

“He’s fine,” Max assured. “And for the most part, Liz is too. But she’s been having these nightmares the last few weeks… about someone coming after him.” His jaw clenched anxiously as he thought back to all the nights he’d spent trying to comfort his Liz.

Maria’s eyes widened. “Do you think-“

Max shook his head quickly. “No. We haven’t had any contact with anyone in over a year. The doctor…he thinks it’s stress. And so I’m just wondering, you know, if Liz has mentioned anything. Anything I’m not doing for her, to…to make things easier.” His eyes lowered in shame.

“Max.” Maria sighed, giving his hand a quick squeeze. “The only thing she says is that you’ve been wonderful. That you’re taking care of her.” She paused, chuckling a little. “Maybe a little too much.”

Max finally looked up, gazing at her solemnly. “I needed to hear that. Maria...I would do anything for her.”

“Hey Maxwell, I got caught up at the store…” Michael trailed off as he burst into the house. “What the hell is going on?” he demanded in exasperation at the sight of his best friend and his girlfriend, who was looking seriously hot in her little black number.

“Surprise,” Maria sighed.

Michael shook his head. “Whatever, guys. I don’t even want to know.” He leaned down and placed a kiss on Maria’s head. “Maria, you look amazing. Max, there’s the door.”

Max smirked, getting to his feet and backing toward the door. “I can see this isn’t a very good time. I’ll call you later.”

Michael waved his hand in Max’s direction, his hungry eyes never leaving Maria. “Whatever, man.”

*****

Liz rubbed her tired eyes and pushed herself away from the kitchen table. That was enough Diversity reading for the night. She knew the next day’s class would only result in more eye rolling between herself and Isabel while they listened to their decidedly chauvinist professor ramble on, anyway.

She poked her head into the refrigerator and emerged triumphantly with a chocolate pudding cup. Max definitely earned some points from his grocery shopping excursion, she decided.

Liz wandered out into the living room. Max had his back to her, staring at the computer screen in deep thought as he typed away at the keyboard. She crept up behind him with a devilish grin, leaning over his shoulder and sweeping her tongue along the outer shell of his ear.

Max gasped at the warm, wet contact and swiveled the chair to come face to face with a smirking Liz. “Hey you,” he grinned, pulling her into his lap.

“Hey yourself,” she said, tearing the top off the pudding cup. “How’s that philosophy paper coming?”

Stretching his arms over his head, Max sighed. “It’s getting there.”

“Good.” Liz licked the pudding top clean, catching Max’s eye. “Want some?”

“You forgot a spoon, babe.”

“Oopsie, I guess I did.” Liz shrugged. “Oh well.” She daintily dunked her finger into the creamy chocolate and smiled. “Open up.”

Max did as he was told, capturing Liz’s finger in his mouth and sucking the chocolate from it. She shivered at the suction from his lips, pulling her finger into the warm confines of his mouth and laving it with his tongue. He slowly released her finger and then proceeded to dip his own finger into the pudding.

“Your turn,” he announced, sliding his finger into Liz’s waiting mouth. The taste of Max and chocolate combined melted on her tongue and she sucked harder to get a better taste.

Max moaned softly at the attention his lucky finger was receiving as Liz ran her tongue along the length of it, and then slid his finger from her wet mouth with a satisfying pop. He grinned and dipped his finger into the pudding again. “Eating for two, you know,” he explained, replacing his chocolate smeared finger.

Taking it into her mouth again, Liz licked away the pudding with a low moan that vibrated from her throat. “Mmm…” She adjusted herself on his lap again, pressing herself against him and enjoying the friction it created against her sensitive nipples through the thin material of her tank top. To her delight, Max slid his finger from her mouth and replaced it with his lips.

They sucked hungrily from one another, capturing the sweet chocolate that lingered on the lips of their love. “Max,” Liz breathed. “Come to bed with me, baby.”

Max groaned, his internal battle raging. “I can’t,” he sighed finally. “I’ll never get this paper done in time for class tomorrow morning.”

Liz pouted, knowing he was right, and got to her feet before him. “Fine. But don’t leave me alone for too long, okay?”

He caressed her belly and then held her by the waist, placing a warm kiss on the tiny swell. “Okay,” he agreed. “I’ll be in as soon as I can.” Max turned back to the computer with a small sigh of disappointment as he returned to his paper and Liz headed for their bedroom.

Typing, typing, plenty of bs-ing…Max wasn’t sure how much time had passed when he felt his eyelids growing impossibly heavy. The next thing he knew his head was resting on his arms at the computer desk. He blinked several times, realizing he’d fallen asleep. A sound had awakened him…he looked around blankly, trying to get his bearings. And then he heard it.

A blood-curdling scream.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 27-Feb-2002 3:19:29 PM ]
posted on 2-Mar-2002 4:00:14 PM by McGees
Hi all, thanks for the fb! Here's the second part of 17 before I leave for NY for the week. The only plus to that 12 hour train ride both ways is that I plan to get plenty of writing done between studying for bio. So I'll be back next weekend with more. In the meantime, if any of you lovely people get the urge to "bump," that would be perfectly fine with me! (has visions of coming home to find the story on page 24 *wink* I've also been meaning to post the lyrics to the song "Never Let You Down" by the Verve Pipe, so here's that as well. Enjoy!

Never Let You Down

I'm trying to keep my feet on the ground
I'm getting to like this feeling I've found
I'm getting to love the thought of having you around
And I will never let you down


Your friends were all well meaning
When they said no one is good enough for you
Play with your emotions, dismiss the notion
Do what you have to do...
Cause people don't take chances with their hearts
Since I met you I am past the hardest part
So remember one thing
I will never let you down...

chorus

Sometimes you feel defeated
But it's okay, you're not the only one
And all the complications, bad situations
Happen to everyone...
It doesn't matter how it ended or began
Sometimes the best that you can do is change your plans
I hope you understand that
I will never let you down

chorus


17b

“Liz!” Max leapt to his feet and down the hall to their bedroom, instantly wide-awake. He stumbled to the bed in the dark, where Liz was thrashing and screaming.

“Liz!” he shouted, crawling onto the bed and straddling her flailing body with his knees. “Liz!” He shook her shoulders, trying desperately to free her from the nightmare.

“No!” she shrieked, clawing madly at him. “No!”

“Liz, its Max!” He held up his arms to shield her assault, finally grabbing onto her wrists. “Wake up, Liz!”

She let out another wail and a sob, the tears coursing fiercely down her cheeks. Her body had stopped thrashing, so Max released her wrists and brought his hands to the side of her face.

“Liz, baby, wake up,” he urged, smoothing his hands along her damp cheeks over and over.

Her eyes opened slowly, fearfully, and as she focused on Max the tears fell faster. “They took him,” she sobbed.

“What? No, baby, no. No one took him,” Max soothed, brushing away her tears with his thumb.

Liz nodded miserably, her eyes filled with terror.

“No,” he continued, his heart pounding. “It was a nightmare, love.” Max shifted, pulling up her tank top and putting his hand on her abdomen. “There he is, baby, see?”

Liz swallowed hard, taking in the glow from their son with overwhelming relief. “It was so real,” she whimpered softly.

“Can – do you want to tell me about it?” Max asked cautiously.

Sucking in her breath, Liz squeezed her eyes closed. “They’d never taken him before,” she explained. “You always woke me up before they took him.” Max’s heart constricted. “I was holding him, just like always, and he…he’s so beautiful, Max,” she continued hoarsely. “But they took him from me.”

“Who took him from you, love?” he urged, stroking her cheek.

“I – I don’t know,” Liz shook her head. “It’s not even a person, it’s this…this energy. I can’t see it, but it pulled him away from me, out of my arms. And…and then he was gone.”

Max felt sick to his stomach. If only he’d heard her sooner. “I won’t let them hurt you anymore,” he whispered fiercely, sliding down Liz’s body to rest his head on her belly. He pressed a soft kiss to her skin and gazed at the glow, knowing it would have a calming effect on Liz.

And, after a time, it did. Having Max close to her, to their son, lulled her fears. She ran her fingers through his dark hair while the other hand rested on her stomach. Max kissed her palm and then snuggled closer to her body. Closer to his Liz and his son. Protecting them.

*****

“It doesn’t fit,” Liz moaned, sighing in defeat.

Maria looked up from tying her tennis shoes to find Liz in the bathroom doorway, struggling with the buttons on her uniform. She fought back a smile, knowing Liz didn’t find her predicament the least bit funny, and suggested, “Try sucking in.”

“I am sucking in!” she insisted. “That’s what I’ve been doing for the last week, and it’s not working!”

“I don’t know, Petunia. Could be the fact that you’re three months pregnant.”

“Yes, Maria, I realize that,” Liz grumbled, shuffling through her locker. “What am I supposed to do? All I’ve got is what I wore straight from class, and I can’t see my dad being kosher with me waiting on tables like that.” She gestured to her windpants and long-sleeved t-shirt.

“Probably n-“ Maria cut herself off as Jeff Parker strode into the back room. She tossed Liz her apron so she could wrap it around her lower half in the hopes that he wouldn’t notice two of her buttons undone. No such luck.

“Hi girls,” he greeted them pleasantly, giving Liz a quick squeeze on the shoulder. “Liz, I, ah, I ordered a new uniform for you. You know, to wear later on.” He paused, slightly uncomfortable. “But until then, I dug out Cassie’s uniform since she’s back at school. She’s a little bigger than you, so I thought maybe it would fit…”

Liz stared at her father, trying to hide her surprise. “Thanks, Dad,” she said quietly. He handed her the uniform unceremoniously, and for a moment both simply stood until Liz threw her arms around him and hugged him. Maria tried to slip away unnoticed from the back room as the two shared the first real father-daughter moment they’d had in months.

She leaned against the door with a relieved sigh, and then noticed Michael entering the café.

“Hey Blondie,” he greeted.

Maria shook herself from her happy little daze. “Michael, hey. What’re you doing here?”

“Picking up my paycheck.” He squeezed her around the waist and went to step behind her into the back room.

“No, don’t go in there.” Maria hauled him back to her by the belt loops.

“Maria, I need to cash this before the bank closes,” he said, eyeing her in puzzlement.

Before he could push his way past her, Maria grabbed his shirtfront and seared her lips to his.

Momentarily surprised, Michael only shrugged and proceeded to deepen the kiss.

After a few moments, Maria pulled away with a flushed grin. “Liz and Mr. P. are hugging,” she announced.

“Really?” Michael knew immediately how momentous this occasion was. For nearly three months the only interaction he’d witnessed between Liz and her father had been forced and unnatural; nothing like the easygoing, loving relationship they’d always been known for.

Maria nodded happily. “I just want to give them a couple of minutes,” she explained.

In the back room, Liz clung to her father as if she’d never let go. “I’ve missed you, Daddy,” she finally whispered against his shoulder.

“Oh, Lizzie,” Jeff sighed, running his hand up and down her back. “I’ve missed you.”

“Thank you for the uniform.”

Jeff slowly held his daughter out at arm’s length. “It’s the least I could do,” he said quietly, staring into the face that he’d loved more than life itself for over eighteen years.

Liz’s brown eyes filled with tears as she met her father’s gaze. “But I’m not going to apologize for anything. For me or Max,” she said, her voice quiet but firm. “I will never apologize for our love. Or…or for our child.”

Jeff’s eyes reflected his anguish as he said, “Liz, I’ve been wrong about so much. It shouldn’t have taken me this long. I can’t change that now, but I can go from here. I was us to go from here.”

A slow smile spread across Liz’s face. “I would like that,” she said softly, leaning up to kiss her father’s cheek. “I…I should put this on and get out there,” she continued, easing out of Jeff’s embrace and giving him another one of the smiles he treasured as she headed for the bathroom to change.

Nancy Parker watched the entire exchange between her husband and daughter from the stairs. The tears had been dancing on her lashes and finally fell as she watched her husband’s shoulders begin to shake. There would still be feelings to mend and relationships to strengthen, she knew this. But finally, finally it seemed like everything was going to be okay.

*****

“Hello?”

“Max, good, you’re back from class,” Liz greeted.

“I just walked in, is everything okay?” he asked, the voice growing urgent. Liz hadn’t experienced another nightmare in several days, but he was still extremely cautious.

Liz grinned. “Everything’s great, Max. Don’t worry about making dinner tonight, okay? We’re eating here.”

“Why, is everybody meeting at the Crashdown?”

“No, Max.” She paused, twisting the phone cord around her finger. “We’re eating upstairs, with my mom and dad.”

“With your mom and…and your dad?” he repeated. He couldn’t possibly be hearing right.

“My dad wants us to stay for dinner,” she said coyly.
Max cleared his throat nervously. “Liz, ah, are you sure I’m not the main course tonight? Because-“

“You’re funny,” Liz giggled. “Come on over at about seven.”

Shifting his weight anxiously, Max agreed and let Liz get back to work before he got any details. What was going on? Filet o’ Max tonight, he shuddered.

*****

“Hi Dad.” Liz poked her head into the back office after her shift to find Jeff at his desk, deep in thought.

He turned to her. “Hi, Lizzie.”

“Um, Max should be here any minute. But before he gets here, I just want to make sure you’re going to be civil to him tonight. I mean, we appreciate you inviting us for dinner, but if you start giving him the third degree, we’re leaving.” Liz held her ground, prepared for an argument.

“No third degree, Liz, I promise,” Jeff chuckled softly.

Liz moved forward slowly, perching herself on the edge of the desk. “Dad, I’ve missed you. And I want you back in my life. But Max is a huge part of that now. He’s going to be my husband, and he’s the father of my child. And…and he’s the love of my life.” She took a deep breath. “And if you don’t accept that, you don’t accept me.”

Jeff looked into the face of his daughter. His little girl. Only…she was a young woman now. A beautiful, strong young woman. Where did the time go? He wondered incredulously. His baby…his baby was having a baby. But she was happy, and she was being taken care of. And he said so.

Liz nodded, her eyes shimmering with tears. “I am,” she agreed softly.

“And that’s all I ever wanted for you,” Jeff whispered, reaching out to cup his daughter’s chin. “But it’s hard to see another man take my place in your life.” He paused. “It’s hard to let you go.”

“Oh Daddy,” Liz sighed, scooting forward and into her father’s lap. She threw her arms around him and buried her face in his shoulder. “No one could ever take your place. Things might be changing, but I’m always going to need you.”

Jeff stroked her hair. “I’m sorry I haven’t been there lately.”

“Me too,” Liz admitted with a sniffle and then a slow smile. “But its never to late to come back, Daddy.”

Jeff smiled gratefully at his daughter, kissing her forehead. “We should get upstairs. Your mom is going to wonder what’s keeping us.” He paused with a chuckle. “She probably thinks I’ve got Max on the grill.”

*****

Max staggered into their apartment blindly, a giggling Liz in his arms. “How many speed limits did you break back there?” she breathed between hungry kisses.

“A lot,” he mumbled against her lips as he kicked the door shut and searched out her mouth again. What else could he have done? After all, they’d barely gotten out of sight of the Crashdown when Liz’s hand inched its way up his thigh. She’d leaned closer, her warm breath tickling his ear as she grinned, “That went well.”

And somehow, it had. Max had been a bundle of nerves when he arrived at the Parker’s earlier that evening. Liz’s father hadn’t said two words to him in nearly three months, and suddenly he was invited to a family dinner? He was prepared for the worst, whatever that would be.

“Max, take me to bed,” Liz breathed.

He obliged immediately, as Liz was already working at the buttons on his shirt. Liz. His amazing Liz, who’d taken his hand with a reassuring smile as he entered the apartment. Who’d calmed his fear without words through their open connection.

Max laid her on the bed then, kicking off his shoes and shrugging out of his shirt as Liz fiddled with his belt buckle. She gazed up at him, her brown eyes full of desire. The same beautiful eyes that held so much hope as they sat at the dinner table with her parents, engaged in a normal conversation about classes and the new special at the Crashdown. The same eyes that lit up when her mother asked about her next doctor appointment, and her father asked if they would bring by the ultrasound pictures.

“Oh god, Max,” Liz moaned as she found his throbbing erection.

“Mmm…” His body jumped at the contact with her hand, and he quickly set to work undressing Liz as well. The shirt and bra were the first to land in a pile on the floor. Max’s hand brushed lovingly over her belly as he pulled her windpants over her hips, and he began a trail of kisses from her neck down her torso to her abdomen. “I love you,” he murmured.

Liz smiled as she watched the attention Max gave their unborn child, but it quickly grew to a gasp as Max’s hand moved lower. He stroked her inner thigh, hooking his fingers through the strings of her panties and tugging them down as well. Liz slid lower beneath his body, matching up the heat burning from their centers.

Reaching up to capture her face in his hands, Max took her mouth into a long, deep kiss that was only broken by their moans of pleasure as he entered her.

“Max…” She chanted, thrusting her hips up to meet his as he set a rhythm.

“God, Liz…” he groaned, moving his hands up and down her body. He found her breasts, the hard peaks of her nipples creating a delicious friction against his bare chest. Liz let out a cry of delight as he rolled them between his fingers, and Max pumped into her harder. She’d never been so sensitive there until she was pregnant, and it was turning him on big time.

This was enough to bring both of them to the edge, and Liz locked her ankles behind his back to take him as deep as she could. With a shattering cry, they sailed over into release. Liz’s hand pressed to his chest, and she let out a breathy giggle as the joined flesh began to glow.

Max’s body shuddered over hers as their connection sparked, giving them both an image of their son. He was about four years old, with those warm brown eyes that begot his serious expression.

Liz pulled Max closer to her as their bodies began to slow, their eyes locked to one another with such love that Max thought his heart might burst.

“I love you so much,” he gasped, showering her flushed face with kisses. Liz clung to him, tucking her chin over the top of his head as he settled against her chest and was lulled to sleep by her heartbeat, both praying for another sleep free of nightmares.









posted on 7-Mar-2002 6:59:11 PM by McGees
Author's Note: Hey guys! I'm back from NY, after enjoying several days of the snow and cold. As if I couldn't have done that at home. I guess upstate New York probably isn't the best place to go for spring break, huh? *wink*

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I'm a dork and forgot the disk with the next part at school. So I will get that ready to go as soon as I get back on Sunday. Make sure to check back then, ok? I'm very interested to see what the response will be to the next section.
posted on 11-Mar-2002 12:07:30 PM by McGees
Here's the first part of 18. I'll try to get more up soon, but the internet's been down and now I'm in a rush. Please, please, please leave feedback with this part, okay?

18a

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

Max leaned over and slapped at the snooze button on his alarm, tightening one arm around Liz’s sleeping form. He sighed into her hair, closing his eyes as he felt the sleep overtaking him again.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

He groaned, and Liz began to stir in his arms. “Time to get up,” she murmured sleepily.

“Don’t wanna,” he muttered, blindly reaching one arm out to hit his alarm again.

Liz snuggled deeper into his chest. “You’ve got class at eight,” she reminded him with a yawn.

“Don’t care.” Eyes still closed, he slid one hand into her hair to caress the nape of her neck. “I wanna stay here.”

“But I have to work at 9:30,” she mumbled against his shoulder. “Can’t stay in bed all day.”

Max cracked one eye open. “Wanna take a shower?”

“Nice try,” she said, smiling through another yawn. “I’ve got over an hour to sleep, and you,” she glanced at the alarm, “have class in forty minutes.”

“You’re no fun,” Max grumbled, kissing her cheek as he kicked the covers back and padded toward the bathroom.

Liz pulled the blanket tighter and snuggled into Max’s pillow. As tempting as his invitation was, she was definitely glad to have this extra hour of sleep. Despite a week’s worth of relief from nightmares, her classes were starting to take a toll. Liz was exhausted - her body felt like it had been run over by a truck.

She was vaguely aware of Max getting dressed, then kissing his fingertips and placing them first on her forehead and then her belly, as had become the Tuesday and Thursday morning ritual. Max had early classes, and Liz worked until one at the Crashdown. Liz would take the Chevelle and pick him up after her shift, and they’d head home for a quick lunch before their afternoon class. It was strange, having such different schedules, but they were making it work.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

Had it already been an hour? Liz peered at the clock through bleary eyes and yawned, shifting to turn off the alarm. She gasped as a sharp pain shot through her body at the movement. Carefully swinging her legs over the edge of the bed, she took a deep breath and waited for a wave of nausea to pass before stumbling into the bathroom.

“Oh my god.” Liz clutched her stomach, leaning over the sink. She hadn’t had any morning sickness for over a month. And the more she thought about it, it had never been a shooting pain through her abdomen. She gripped the counter suddenly. Something wasn’t right.

Slowly, with trembling hands, Liz pulled down her sweats. No, no, no, she chanted silently. Over and over. No, no, no.

Blood. Bright red blood. So much of it. No…

Liz wrapped her arms around her middle, slumping to the floor. She was bleeding. So much blood. She was…dying? No.

Her baby. Max’s baby. No. Noooooo…it became a low moan, a strangled sob from Liz’s throat, as she rocked back and forth on the bathroom tile. Their baby. Max, I need you. He needs you…

“Maaaax!” she shrieked. “Hurry!”

*****

“And so, ladies and gentlemen, this is where we derive the theory of nihilism…”

Max’s head snapped up from his scribbled notes. A flash. Liz. Something wasn’t right. He closed his eyes, trying to drown out his philosophy professor, and saw swirls of red. And then he heard it. Max! Hurry!

“Oh my god,” he choked, scrambling from his seat and shoving his things into his backpack. The professor looked up from the front of the lecture hall at the commotion.

“I…uh…” Another wave of panic washed over him, and he wasted no time in making his exit. He ran through the hall, skidded out the door, and was already at the edge of campus when a small red car pulled up alongside him.

“Max, what’s going on?” Maria asked, leaning out the window. “We’ve got chem in 15 minutes.”

“Maria,” he gasped. “It’s Liz. Something’s wrong with Liz.” He suddenly doubled over, a sharp pain clawing through his entire being.

“Max, oh my god.” Maria’s eyes grew wide. “Get in the car.” She threw open the door and Max climbed in just as Maria slammed the Jetta into reverse. “She’s still at home, right?” she asked, looking over her right shoulder as she backed up to the main street leading to and from campus.

Max nodded, too shaken by the flashes to speak.

Maria sped the two blocks toward the apartment complex, gripping the steering wheel anxiously. “Was she sick this morning?” She paused. “I guess I should know better than to ask how you know something’s wrong,” she continued, more to herself, as Max was clenching the door handle with his eyes squeezed shut in deep concentration.

The moment Maria slowed in front of the apartment, Max was out of the car and running. He pounded up the stairs and down the hall to 212, struggling with his key at the doorknob. Cursing under his breath, he waved his hand over the lock and burst inside.

“Liz!” He shouted, rushing through the still kitchen and down the hall. “Liz! Where are you, baby?”

Max! He was here. Liz raised her head to call to him, but couldn’t get any sound to come from her mouth. He would be able to do something…he had to…

The bathroom door flew open, and Max found Liz curled up in a ball on the cold floor. She had been crying. But the blood…oh god, there was so much blood…

The pure shock of it nearly forced his stomach into his throat, and for a moment his body swayed precariously. Max dropped to his knees beside her and cradled her face in his hands. “Liz, look at me,” he pleaded, looking into her glassy eyes.

She was losing too much blood. “Liz,” he continued, ignoring the roaring of his heart in his ears. “I’ve got to stop the bleeding.”

“Max, wh-“ Maria stopped short in the doorway, paralyzed at the sight she was met with.

Max turned around and saw Maria’s wide-eyed look of horror. “Maria, call 911,” he said, sounding much calmer than he felt.

Nodding numbly, Maria whirled around and ran back down the hall.

Turning his full attention back to Liz, he grabbed a towel from the towel rack and placed it under Liz’s head. Her face was nearly colorless now, and her eyes were beginning to flutter shut.

“You’ve got to look at me, Liz,” Max said, his voice shaking. “Don’t take your eyes off me, okay? Don’t close them.” He placed his hands on either side of her pale face and sparked a connection immediately.

A whirl of images blindsided him; Liz as a baby, taking her wobbly first steps. Liz and Maria as first graders, spooning imaginary food into their dolls’ mouths. That day more than three years ago at the Crashdown. Max saving her life. Putting his hands over the bullet wound, healing her.

And now, he placed his hands on her abdomen again, lower this time, to the slight swell. He clenched his eyes shut, focusing on the internal hemorrhaging there. He put every ounce of strength and energy he possessed into stopping the blood.

After a moment, he looked up at Liz. Her eyes were still trained to his. He moved his gaze down to her abdomen where his hands were still trying to heal. And he knew.

There was no glow. Nothing.

He’d slowed Liz’s bleeding. But he wasn’t able to save their child.

The realization slammed into Liz through their open connection, and she let out a strangled sob. “Max, no…” she whimpered.

The pain in Liz’s voice was enough to break Max’s heart. “Shhh…” he murmured, carefully gathering her to him. “Shhh.” Not knowing what else to do or say, he simply rocked his Liz’s limp body back and forth in his arms.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 11-Mar-2002 2:21:58 PM ]
posted on 13-Mar-2002 1:36:41 AM by McGees
18b

“Where is she?” Nancy Parker burst into the ER waiting room with Jeff and Michael at her heels. Spotting Maria huddled in a chair, she rushed over and cried, “Maria, honey, where’s Liz?”

Maria raised her tearstained face and got to her feet, hugging Nancy tightly. “I…I don’t know. They’ve got her back there somewhere. It’s been almost two hours and…oh god, I’m sorry,” she apologized, seeing the look on the Parkers’ faces. “I should have called the Crashdown sooner, but I was sitting with Max, and –“

“Is he with her?” Michael spoke up, knowing it would take more than a few physicians to keep him from Liz.

“Yeah, they let him back about a half hour ago, which is when I called you.”

Nancy looked at Maria anxiously. “And…and the baby…?”

Maria slowly shook her head, her eyes filling with fresh tears.

“Oh, my Lizzie…” Nancy sighed wearily. “I…I have to go to her. She needs her mother.”

Maria watched as Nancy rushed to the nurse’s station, and then collapsed into Michael’s waiting arms. “It was so scary, Michael,” she cried softly. “I thought she was going to die.”

Michael led Maria back to the small couch near Jeff, who had remained silent, his face ashen as he thought about his little girl.

*****

Max gazed down at Liz’s drug-induced sleeping form, her hand clasped between his. He saw her, but he didn’t. He was clouded, hazy, the movement and sounds from the hallway not seen or heard in his detached state.

Raising their joined hands to his lips, he placed tiny kisses on her knuckles. “I love you, Liz,” he murmured. Max knew she wouldn’t respond, and he wasn’t even sure she could hear him, but his mind was too exhausted to even attempt a full connection. He’d tried several times, but once she’d been sedated, it took an even greater toll trying to break through the fog.

Thank god Maria had been there – he’d nearly been too weak to walk when the paramedics had first arrived, as drained as he was from trying to slow the hemorrhaging. She’d guided him to the ambulance so he could be with Liz, and then followed them to the hospital, sitting with him after he’d argued unsucessfully with the nurses to be let back with Liz, holding his trembling hand while they waited for an update on her condition.

And when the doctors had finally finished and he was taken to her, Max tried desperately to connect with her. He needed to be with her on more than just a physical level. He wanted to be wrapped up in her, away from their harsh reality.

“Max?” Nancy stood in the doorway, accompanied by a nurse.

“She’s asleep,” Max said needlessly, his voice choked and quiet.

“Mr. Evans?” the nurse spoke up. “I’m sorry, but we can only allow one visitor with the patient. Family members take precedence over friends.”

Max gaped at her. “But I’m –“

“Oh, you can make an exception, can’t you?” Nancy interrupted. “He’s her fiancé –“

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Parker, it’s either you or him.”

Nancy looked at Max, her eyes filled with anguish. “Max, what if we switched off? Try to get something to eat, and I’ll send someone for you if she wakes up.”

Max nodded numbly, beyond the point of arguing, somehow allowing himself to leave Liz’s side and be escorted back to the waiting room.

His mother had arrived, and she quickly rose from her place beside Jeff and pulled her son into an embrace. “Oh Max, I’m so sorry,” she murmured.

Max returned her hug stiffly, his eyes trained straight ahead.

“How’s Liz?” Maria asked urgently.

“They gave her something…to make her sleep,” he said quietly, finding his voice as he and Diane broke apart.

“Max, let’s get something to eat,” Michael suggested. The words didn’t say much, but the gentle squeeze on the shoulder spoke volumes between the two friends.

“That’s a good idea,” Maria agreed, leading Max toward the door. She turned to Jeff and Diane. “We’ll be in the cafeteria.”

“Get me the second anything changes,” Max added, his flat voice adopting an anxious tone.

The three sat in the downstairs cafeteria, picking idly at their food. Max stared at his hamburger, uninterested, as Michael began to question him.

“Do they know anything?” he asked, his voice low.

Max shrugged absently. “I don’t know,” he said after a minute. Nothing unusual had happened in the ambulance or the emergency room from what he had seen. Yet at that moment, Max didn’t care if they did know. Because the baby was his, his and Liz’s…and now he was gone. There couldn't be much worse than that. Max shoved the burger away in disgust.

“Maxwell, this is important,” Michael pressed. “If there’s any evidence that you healed her –“

“I wasn’t going to let her die too,” Max interrupted fiercely.

“Of course not, Max,” Maria added gently. “I just…I told Michael what happened, and that there was so much blood…don’t you think the doctors might be able to figure something out? You slowed the bleeding. I mean, if you hadn’t gotten there, Liz would have…she would have died,” she whispered, her voice hoarse.

And yet their son still had, Max said to himself, his chest tightening. He hadn’t gotten to Liz in time, and now their son was dead.

“We’ve gotta be real careful right now,” Michael muttered. He was completely torn; hurting for his friends, yet at the same time wondering if this had been inevitable. Perhaps it just wasn’t possible for them to breed with humans, and Max and Liz were finding out in the most painful way possible. He would never dare say it aloud, though, especially right now, and instead turned back to his burger.

The three sat in pained silence for a bit longer until Max shoved his chair back and got to his feet. “I need to be with Liz,” he announced, turning and striding toward the door.

Just as Michael and Maria caught up with him down the hall, the elevator door opened before them.

“Jesse.” Max’s eyes grew wide at his brother-in-law’s expression. “Oh god, what happened?”

“You need to get upstairs, man, quick.”

*****

Author's Note: Sorry it's so short, but I wanted to get some more posted for ya'll. Please keep leaving feedback...even if you're not so happy with the story right now. More to come soon!
posted on 15-Mar-2002 2:12:36 AM by McGees
19a

“That’s all she said?” Max asked urgently.

“That’s all Mrs. Parker was able to get out,” Jesse explained. “She said Liz just sat up and started screaming about there not being a glow.” Jesse followed Max out of the elevator, matching his long strides. “The nurse came in and gave her something to put her out again, but Mrs. Parker is really shaken up.”

They burst into the waiting room, and Max quickly scanned it. His mother and Isabel were trying to comfort a trembling Nancy. Brushing off his sister’s sympathetic expression, Max strode down the hall toward his Liz.

He stopped short at the door. Jeff Parker sat beside the bed, smoothing Liz’s hair off her forehead. “I – I thought she was by herself.“ Max choked out. “I didn’t want her to be alone.”

Jeff nodded silently, gazing at his daughter, who was now sleeping quietly – a stark contrast to her outburst just minutes before. "She asked for you,” he said finally.

“Liz?” Max’s tone was hushed, watching her from just inside the doorway.

Jeff nodded again, but this time he lifted his red-rimmed eyes to meet Max’s. Clearing his throat, he clasped Liz’s limp hand between his own. “I got here just as they were administering the sedative,” he said quietly. “She was screaming…just screaming…” Jeff closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “She seemed to think you could save the baby, Max. She doesn’t understand…” he trailed off.

Max nodded stiffly, his heart thudding in his chest.
I tried, love, I swear I did.

“Max?”

Max snapped to attention at Jeff’s voice. “Don’t let it get to you.” Jeff’s tone was gentle, tired. “She didn’t know what she was saying. There was nothing anyone could have done.” He cleared his throat. “Things…things happen sometimes…” He paused for a long moment before looking Max directly in the eye. “I truly am sorry, son.”

*****

“Mr. Evans?”

Pray God you can cope

Max slowly lifted his head from where it was resting on Liz’s arm at the edge of the bed. He blinked and glanced around, trying to get his bearings. The maternity ward. Liz had been moved to the maternity ward from the ER the night before so Dr. Sinclair could monitor her.

I stand outside this woman’s work
This woman’s work


The young nurse smiled kindly. “I’m sorry to wake you, but I need to get Liz’s morning vitals.”

“She hasn’t been awake at all,” he offered, his voice thick with sleep.

“That’s okay,” the nurse assured. “The sedatives she was given combined with the medication to regulate her blood pressure are going to make her pretty groggy for the next day or so.” Max only nodded in reply. “Um, Mr. Evans,” she continued gently, “The nurse on call before me said to keep an eye on you, that you haven’t left Liz’s side all night. Why don’t you take a little break? Get some coffee, or something to eat?”

Rubbing his hands across his face, Max sighed. “I’m gonna just…get some coffee real quick,” he decided. “I’ll be right back.”

Oh it’s hard on the man
Now his part is over


He slowly made his way out into the quiet hallway, his body stiff from being folded in the hospital chair all night. The faint sound of a baby crying echoed through his mind then, and Max found himself standing before the nursery. Against his better judgement, he stopped and gazed through the large glass windows at the rows of tiny babies.

Now starts the craft of the Father

It was where he should be in six months, a proud father looking in at his newborn son. But that wouldn’t happen now, and Max had to wonder if it ever would. Would it ever be something he’d know? Here he stood – Max Evans, eighteen years old, and he had already lost two sons. It was too much for him to wrap his mind around, and he squeezed his eyes shut, resting his forehead against the cool glass.

Give me these moments back
Give them back to me


The flash came out of nowhere. The vision of himself and his son…the toddler he and Liz had seen in their connection…grinning as Max swept him into the air, lifted him onto his shoulders –

“Max?”

Nancy placed her hand on Max’s shoulder, his pained eyes raising to meet hers. “How’re you doing?” she asked quietly.

“She’s been asleep the whole time you’ve been gone,” he replied, his eyes returning to the baby fussing on the other side of the glass.

“I asked how you're doing,” Nancy repeated gently.

This caught Max off-guard, and he turned his attention from the nursery window. He hurt, he knew that. And he felt completely out of control. “I’m…I’m not sure,” he admitted finally.

Give me that little kiss
Give me your hand


Nancy nodded her understanding. “Michael and Maria came in right behind me, they’re out in the waiting room. Why don’t you go with them to get some breakfast?”

Max started to protest, but Nancy continued. “You haven’t eaten since yesterday afternoon. I’ll stay with her while you’re gone, okay?”

He nodded silently, glancing into the nursery one last time. “Max?” He turned back to Nancy, who suddenly enveloped him in a hug. “You and Liz will get through this,” she murmured.

“I’ll be back soon,” Max said quietly, giving her a squeeze before continuing down the hall.

Michael and Maria rose from their chairs as soon as Max entered the waiting room. “Hey man.” Michael clapped a hand on his shoulder, and Maria looked at him hopefully. “How’s she doing?”

“Sleeping. She’s sleeping,” Max said, rubbing his hand over his eyes and slumping down into a chair.

Michael nodded and thrust a plastic bag at him. “Here. We went by the apartment and grabbed a change of clothes for you to get cleaned up, since we weren’t sure when you’d be able to leave,” he explained, knowing Max wouldn’t stray from Liz long enough to go home for anything.

“Thanks,” Max said sincerely before turning back to Maria. “Don’t you have classes this morning?”

She shrugged. “Skipped em. Isabel has a calc test this morning, but she’s coming by afterward. She left messages for yours and Liz’s professors last night to let them know you wouldn’t be in classes this week.”

Max sighed, leaning back in the chair. It never ceased to amaze him how great his friends and family were. “I…we really appreciate it.”

After Max had changed into fresh jeans and a T-shirt and they’d had a quick breakfast in the cafeteria, the three made their way back to the maternity ward. Isabel, who had since arrived, got to her feet and gave Max a big hug. “Mom and Dad send their love, and they want to stop by once you and Liz get home,” she informed him. “Um…and Mr. Parker just got here. He’s back with Mrs. Parker and Liz,” she added cautiously. “Just, you know, a head’s up. Have things been okay…?”

Max nodded. “We talked for a little while yesterday,” he confided. “We’re getting along okay. I…I think we’re both just concerned about Liz.”

Just as the words left his mouth, the door to the waiting room swung open and an angry, wide-eyed Jeff Parker burst in. “Max, what the hell is going on with my daughter?”

*****

Author's Note: Thanks to everyone who's left feedback, even if you're not especially happy with me right now! Please just stay with me here, there are brighter times ahead. *wink*

The lyrics in this section are from This Woman's Work by Kate Bush. It's an absolutely heartwrenching song, just beautiful - you may know it from that ancient Kevin Bacon movie "She's Having a Baby." Anyway, it's really summed up these parts well.

Please keep the feeback coming, and I, in turn, promise to post more (longer) parts soon!

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 15-Mar-2002 2:14:35 AM ]
posted on 17-Mar-2002 4:20:46 PM by McGees
I'm planning on getting the next part up later tonight...I meant to do it last night, but I ended up going to the Blessid Union of Souls concert at another college down the road (ours had Ginny Owens & Rebecca St. James last night too, go figure!) Anyway, I wanted to do a quick response to you guys since you've been so great with feedback...I appreciate it so much!!!

Michelle: Welcome! Thanks for the fb! *happy*

Marie: I promise promise promise, Max and Liz will be happy again. I much prefer happy Max and Liz to angst-filled Max and Liz myself, but I think part of what makes their relationship so strong is their ability to get through the hard times together.

not_of_this_earth: I had to laugh at your comment about so much M/L angst on the show. How very true. But like I said, they're an amazing couple and manage to get through the worst of times together - and this will be no different.

Winter Rain: A lot of people have wondered about that, if it was something that happened while she was sleeping. It would seem that way, what with all the dreams she's been having...

Strawbehrry Shortcake: That was an awesome observation, noting that she felt she had lost some time! I honestly didn't even set it up that way on purpose, she was just tired and didn't want to get up yet! *wink* But perhaps I shouldn't have said anything...Anyway, thanks for sticking with the story!

Lelea: LOL, no, Michael is generally not known for being Mr. Sensitivity. He's definitely being cautious with all of this, because like you said, at this point they don't know if it's possible for an alien hybrid to have a child with a human. This was part of what surprised Max so much when he found out Liz was pregnant. But at the same time, Michael knows how much it meant to Max to be having a child, and that's why he's trying his best to bite back those comments. Right now, anyway.
P.S. I love your sig! That is one of my very favorite Roswell related songs, even if it wasn't M/L. Ginny sang it last night, I was so excited...her voice is just as beautiful live! *happy*

BLS40: I always enjoy reading your feedback! You make such great observations, and I'm curious as to what your theory is about what will happen out of all of this.

Becca1974: Thanks for your encouragement! *happy*

mpls muse: Robyn, thanks for your fb! LOL, I'm glad someone else is familiar with that movie!

shorty828: Lisa, thanks for always leaving feedback like you do, I so appreciate it! And like I said, stay with me...we will get to brighter times. *happy*

rollergal20: Thanks for leaving fb! *happy* Hehe, your sig cracks me up!

Shelly2: I'm so glad you've gotten caught up! *happy* So you're part of the group that believes it's alien-related, eh? Interesting...

Alrighty guys, keep that fb coming! It's what motivates me to churn out the parts faster...and I'll admit I'm really needing it right now...I've hit a bit of writer's block for some upcoming parts...
posted on 17-Mar-2002 9:47:56 PM by McGees
19b

Liz opened her eyes slowly. A gentle voice humming filled her ears, and a cool hand was running across her forehead.

The humming stopped abruptly. “Lizzie?”

“Mom?” Her voice came out as a low croak, and she struggled to clear her throat. “Where…where’s Max?”

“Oh sweetie, he’s been here with you all night. He went to get some breakfast, he’ll be right back.”

Liz nodded slowly, her head feeling as if it weighed a thousand pounds. “I’m so dizzy…”

Jeff got to his feet, squeezing Liz’s hand. “I’ll go get someone, sweetie.” He returned moments later with the same nurse who had urged Max to take a break.

She quickly greeted Nancy. “Dr. Sinclair is in a delivery right now, but he’ll want to examine Liz now that she’s awake,” she explained before turning her attention to Liz. “Hi, Liz,” she said kindly, coming to sit beside the bed. “I’m Serena, and I’m the nurse on –“

Liz’s heart thudded in her ears, the dizziness threatening to overtake her. “Wh-what did you say?”

The young nurse looked at her curiously, tucking her blond hair behind her ear. “My name is Serena, and I’ll be on duty –“

Serena. Serena. Serena. “Oh my god,” Liz gasped, sitting up straight in the bed and clenching the covers in her fists.

“Liz? What’s the matter?” Nancy asked in alarm.

“You – oh my god. Max told me about you,” Liz said shrilly, pointing a shaking finger at Serena. “He told me about you, he told me when he came to me from the future –“

“Lizzie, what are you talking about?” Jeff asked, his forehead creased in concern at his daughter’s sudden panic.

Liz’s breath was coming in shallow gasps, the pounding in her head nearly blacking her out. “When he came to me – Max told me about it!” Her eyes were wide with fear as her tone grew higher. “Oh my god…he was right! I…I did what he said, but it didn’t work!” She grabbed her mother’s hand. “Tess got pregnant! And she went back, and we…we tried to find Max’s son, we did! We got into the convenience store but the spaceship disappeared! And…and Max said it was okay for us to be together. And I believed him…but he died!”

Liz’s voice broke then, and she dissolved into sobs. “Our baby died and it’s all my fault!” she cried. She was breaking…her heart, or her head…or both…it hurt…she couldn’t make it stop.

Nancy hugged her daughter’s sobbing frame to her and stared at Jeff and Serena in horror. “Oh my god, what is happening to her?”

Jeff shook his head, shocked by his daughter’s second outburst. “I’m getting Max.”

Serena watched as Jeff raced out of the room. “Mrs. Parker…I want Dr. Sinclair to see her as soon as possible, but I’m sure this is just a reaction to the sedatives…” She trailed off, knowing how weak her reassurances sounded. She’d never seen this kind of side effect in a patient, and she’d certainly never had a patient react that way to her mere presence.

Moments later, Max skidded into the room with Jeff at his heels. “Liz,” he said breathlessly, making his way around the bed and reaching for her.

I should be crying but I just can’t let it show

Liz pulled away from her mother’s arms, her eyes wide with tears. “Max, I’m sorry,” she sobbed as he pulled her to him. “I’m so sorry.”

I should be hoping but I can’t stop thinking

“No, love,” he soothed, crushing her to his chest and pressing his lips to the top of her head. “You have nothing to be sorry for.” He wanted desperately to reassure her, to stop her tears and her pain.

All the things we should have said
That were never said
All the things I should have done
That I never did


“It’s my fault…I didn’t listen…” she cried. After a time, her body succumbed to the exhaustion, the tears slowing into small gasps and eventually stopping completely as she fell back into a restless sleep.

All the things that you needed from me
All the things that you wanted for me


Max kept her cradled to him, murmuring words that couldn’t quite be made out into her hair as he stroked her back. He’d nearly forgotten there were others in the room until Nancy spoke up.

“Max, what was she talking about?” she asked, her eyes filled with confusion.

Feeling like a deer caught in the headlights, Max slowly looked up at Nancy and Jeff, who was staring at him with his arms crossed.

All the things I should have given
But I didn’t


His heart sank. Without meaning to or even realizing it, Liz had said far too much. He felt sick, knowing how much he had put her through, so much that she was keeping secrets from her family in order to protect him. He knew he could never blame her, but suddenly the situation was becoming more complicated than he could handle by himself.

Oh darling, make it go away

“…a side effect,” the nurse was saying. “I think she’s got some mild delirium right now, Mr. and Mrs. Parker. I’ll find the doctor right away.”

Max looked up at her gratefully, and Serena only nodded slightly and pressed her lips into a tight line as she hurried off in search of the doctor.

*****

Dr. Sinclair called Jeff and Nancy in for a meeting about Liz’s condition, but Max had refused to leave Liz’s side. Instead, he had spent the time with her in silence, pondering what he should say to them. There was no way Liz’s second outburst could be explained away by the sedatives. He needed to buy time until Liz woke up, until he could talk to the rest of the group, until they could figure out what to do.

I know you have a little life in you yet
I know you’ve got a lot of strength left


Stroking Liz’s hair idly, Max gazed down at her sleeping face. He marveled at how peaceful she looked now, and he wished they could both just sleep until all the pain went away. He shifted slightly, curled up beside her body in the hospital bed, not caring if it was against the rules. He needed to be close to her, and she to him.

“Max?”

He glanced toward the door, tightening his arms around Liz’s body as Serena slowly approached the bed. She pulled up a chair and sat, holding Max’s gaze evenly. “Do you want to tell me what happened earlier?”

“Excuse me?”

Serena sighed. “I think you know as well as I do that Liz isn’t insane. Or delirious, even. Why is she so afraid of me?”

Max was silent, recalling the night on Liz’s balcony nearly nine months before.

“Max…we have to talk,” Liz said breathlessly, pushing him off of her and pulling the blanket around her partially nude form.

“Okay…” Max didn’t argue, seeing the look of determination on her face.

“I…I don’t know if we should do this.”

Max nodded, his heart sinking as he tried to hide his hurt.

“Oh, Max…” Liz sighed, crumbling at his crestfallen face. “It’s not that I don’t want to. I just…I’m afraid of what might happen.”

He understood. And after what had happened with Tess, he was shocked he was even being given a second chance.

“This isn’t about Tess,” Liz continued quietly, realizing the connection was coursing openly between them. “Well…actually, it is.” She paused, swallowing the bitter taste in her mouth. “It’s about your…your destiny, Max.”

“Which is you,” Max said earnestly, reaching up to caress her cheek. “It’s always been you, Liz.”

Liz could feel her resolve quickly weakening as her body melted at his touch. “Max, you don’t understand,” she whispered. “There’s so much you don’t know…”

Max’s hand froze, and he stared at her in puzzlement from the barrage of images he was receiving. “What, love?”

Clenching her eyes shut, Liz sighed. Her heart, her mind, her body…all were aching to be with Max. She needed to be honest with him.


That night, under the dark January sky, in the very place it had happened, Liz told Max all the details about her visit from his future self. Together, they wept for what they had almost lost…and then for the future. They held one another and cried tears of hope for their faith in one another, faith in their love, and the faith to overcome whatever obstacle life threw them – so long as they were together. And that night, bathed in the soft glow of the winter stars, their love was cemented.

I know you have a little life in you yet
I know you have a lot of strength left


Max broke away from his thoughts, returning his attention to Serena. “I’m sorry about that. It’s complicated, but…it’s nothing personal.”

Serena nodded shortly. “I want to be honest with you,” she said, leaning forward. “I’ll tell you the same thing the doctor is telling her parents right now. They’ve never seen anyone have a reaction like that to the drugs. And we can’t give her anything else, because the stress is effecting her blood pressure.”

“What can I do?” Max asked quietly.

“Max, I’m not going to lie to you. You know this is going to be a struggle for both of you to accept, but it’s something to start working through now. Miscarriages can’t be ignored. You both need to talk about it, because the grief will do more damage if it’s bottled up.”

He nodded, his jaw clenching and unclenching fiercely as he rubbed Liz’s back. The bleak reality of the situation was finally setting in for him, but Liz hadn’t even had the time to start yet. He sighed. It was a long road ahead.

Oh, darling make it go away
Just make it go away now


*****

lyrics by Kate Bush, "This Woman's Work"
posted on 22-Mar-2002 1:02:48 AM by McGees
Here's the next part...the feedback has been a blessing, I'd been having a really hard time getting these next few parts out on paper. I think I'm having an easier time getting things from my head to the page now, though, thanks very much in part to your encouragement! Katalina & 2crzy4roswell, welcome! Your feedback just makes me glow all over. *tongue*

20

“Hi Liz.”

Liz sat crosslegged in the middle of the hospital bed, staring out the window, and glanced up as Serena stepped into the room. “Hi.”

“Heading home today, huh?”

Liz nodded. “Max is bringing the car around.”

Serena smiled, glancing at Liz’s engagement ring glittering in the late morning sun. “Have you set a date yet?”

“For the wedding?” Liz swallowed hard. “Um…not-not really,” she lied.

“Well, no need to rush,” Serena shrugged.

Not anymore, Liz said to herself. She folded her arms around her waist. She felt so…empty.

Serena watched this, her green eyes clouding in concern. “Liz, it’s okay to talk about how you’re feeling,” she said gently. “You heard Dr. Sinclair. You don’t have to go through this alone. You have parents that love you, and the friends that came to visit you, and Max…Liz, don’t shut them out.”

“I should go,” Liz said quietly, reaching for her purse and getting to her feet just as Max appeared in the doorway. “Hi Serena. Liz, are you ready?”

Liz nodded, allowing Max to steer her toward the door with his arm around her. He smiled a ghost of a smile at the young nurse. “Um…thanks,” he said finally, not really sure what words he was looking for.

Serena returned the wan smile. “Take care.”

Tightening his grip around Liz as they walked down the hall, Max pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “Let’s go home.”

*****

Not surprisingly, Isabel, Michael, Maria, and Kyle were waiting in the living room when they arrived at the apartment.

“Petunia.” Maria jumped to her feet to envelop her best friend in a hug.

Liz returned it weakly, suddenly overwhelmed by the presence of her friends. “I…I’m going to go lie down,” she mumbled, shrugging out of Maria’s embrace.

Max winced inwardly, wishing he’d asked their friends to wait before coming over. “I’ll help you get settled,” he said lamely, following her back to the bedroom.

“Why are they here, Max?” she asked wearily, pulling off her shoes and sinking onto the bed. “I just want to sleep, and I have so much work to catch up on as it is…”

“I’m sorry, love,” he apologized. “I…I told them it was an emergency. We’ve got a lot to figure out, and we don’t have much time. Your parents are asking questions, and if other people hear about it-“

“I know,” Liz sighed, leaning her head on his shoulder. She knew it was because of her, because of what she’d said several days before. She’d nearly given it all away…

“Just get some sleep,” Max murmured, guiding her onto her back and pulling a thin blanket over her body.

Liz gazed up at him, her lower lip beginning to tremble. “Max? Will you stay with me for a few minutes?” she whispered.

“Oh, love.” Max’s heart crumbled, and he swung his legs up onto the bed so he could curl up beside her. Liz let her eyes close as his hand smoothed the hair off her forehead, lulled into an exhausted slumber by his soothing touch.

When he was sure she was asleep, Max slipped out of their bedroom and back to the living room. His friends were talking quietly, but abruptly stopped when he sat down.

“How’s she doing?” Kyle asked, his face drawn.

“How the hell do you think she is?” Michael retorted, ignoring Kyle’s glare.

“Okay, not right now,” Isabel interrupted in frustration. “Max, tell us what’s been going on. You wouldn’t tell us anything at the hospital.”

Max took a deep breath. “Liz’s parents know some things.”

“Can’t it all just be blamed on the medication, as a side effect?” Kyle spoke up again.

“They’re already too suspicious,” Max explained, anxiously running his hand through his hair. “She…she got scared when she found out the nurse’s name was Serena, and it sparked all the memories from when my future self came to her.”

“Oh my god,” Kyle groaned. He’d always known that something incredibly strange had been going on, but when Liz finally came clean with them a few months ago as to why she’d staged them sleeping together, he knew what a toll it had taken on her. “She must have freaked out.”

Max nodded shortly. “I don’t know exactly what she said, and she…she barely remembers it happening,” he continued, swallowing hard.

The phone in the kitchen jangled then, and he hurried to answer it before it could wake Liz.

Isabel’s face had grown pale, and she glanced around at her friends. “This is bad, guys,” she whispered.

“No kidding, Isabel,” Michael said gruffly, getting to his feet and heading toward the bathroom, passing Max on his way.

“Hello?” Max was saying into the phone.

“Max, this is your father.”

“Hi Dad,” Max said, forcing casualness.

“I want to know what the hell is going on,” Phillip demanded without preamble.

Max’s heart dropped to his feet. “Going on…with what?” he asked. “We – we just got home, Dad.”

“What the hell is this about you getting that Tess Harding girl pregnant?” he hissed. “Is it true? Hell, Liz wouldn’t just come up with something like that in that state. For god sake, Max, how could you not tell us? Where is she now?”

“Dad-“

“Jeff Parker called me up this morning. He’s furious, Max, and he asked me what I knew about it. And you know what I had to tell him?” Phillip paused for a beat. “Nothing. Because I don’t know my own son, and I haven’t for over a year. This is going too far, Max.”

“Maxwell!” Michael’s voice came from down the hall. “Get your ass in here now!”

Max gripped the countertop, bombarded by the attacks. “Dad, I’ve gotta go.”

“This isn’t over, Max,” Phillip continued, his voice frighteningly low.

“Maxwell!”

Without giving it a second though, Max slammed the phone down and rushed to find Michael.

The light in the bathroom was on, and Liz sat huddled atop the closed toilet seat. Michael was crouched before her, trying unsuccessfully to calm her. Max swept to her side, taking her into his arms and silently carrying her out of the bathroom.

Michael stared after them for a moment, then quickly did his business and returned to the living room.

“What happened?” Isabel asked anxiously.

“Liz was in the bathroom, like, hyperventilating,” he sighed, sinking onto the couch beside Maria.

“Oh god, poor Lizzie.” Maria grabbed Michael’s hand. “That’s where it happened, it…it probably all hit her again.”

A ringing sounded from Isabel’s purse, and she reached in to retrieve her cell phone. “Hello? Oh hi, honey.” There was a pause. “What? Oh my god…no…no, you’re right, Jesse, don’t say anything. Just stay out of it, okay? We’ll talk about it tonight. Okay…I love you too.”

She tossed the phone back into her bag, closing her eyes and leaning back into the chair. “Damn it. Jesse said my dad is freaking out over at the office. They know something.” Isabel opened her eyes and looked at her friends seriously. “And knowing my father, he’s not going to let this go.”

Max had carried Liz back to their bedroom, sitting on the bed and cradling her in his arms. He lowered his head to press a soft kiss to her temple. “What happened, love? Talk to me.”

Liz shook her head emphatically, burying her face in his chest. “I shouldn’t have gotten up,” she whispered. “I just want to sleep.”

Max rubbed her back soothingly, and after a time figured she’d fallen asleep.

“Max, who was on the phone?” Liz asked suddenly, raising her head and looking up at him.

“Don’t worry about it,” he whispered, trailing his fingers through her dark hair. Liz didn’t respond, and he was relieved she didn’t push the issue. It was the last thing she needed right now.

*****

Max soon asked their friends to leave, promising to call later when he’d be able to focus. He and Liz needed time alone to talk, Max hoped. But seeing Liz finally sleeping so soundly changed his mind, and he let her rest.

And instead, he lay on the bed beside her, staring. Out the window, at his feet, at Liz herself. Thinking. Realizing that, this time, there might not be a way to hide. The evening shadows were beginning to set in across the bedroom when Liz stirred next to him.

“Hey.” Max rolled over onto his side, facing her. He reached out and touched her cheek. “How are you feeling?”

Liz yawned. “I’m…not sure,” she said finally. Max heart constricted at the confusion in her voice, and he moved closer to Liz to hold her.

To his horror, Liz’s body stiffened at the contact. Max shrank back, hurt, but before he could say anything, the doorbell buzzed. “I’ll just…I’ll go get that,” he stumbled, quickly getting to his feet.

Max unlatched and opened the front door, and his stomach tightened. “Hi Mrs. Parker…Mr. Parker.”

“Hi Max.” Nancy held a small casserole dish. “We wanted to bring by some supper.”

“Thanks,” he managed.

Jeff pushed past Max into the apartment. “Where’s Liz?”

“She’s in bed resting,” Max said, watching as Jeff crossed his arms over his chest.

“Well, I’ll just go put this into the oven so it’ll stay warm,” Nancy offered, following her husband inside.

“Thanks,” Max said distractedly, holding Jeff’s stare.

“Alright, Max. I don’t know what the hell it is you think you’re doing, but you’d better start talking.”

“Jeff, don’t start,” Nancy scolded. “Not now.”

“Why not now?” Jeff demanded. “They’ve been hiding for a year, as if they thought that if we didn’t talk about it we’d forget.” He stepped a little closer to Max. “We didn’t.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Max said quietly.

“The hell you don’t!” Jeff exploded. “You got another girl pregnant and…and get involved with drugs and you still think you can have my daughter? She went to prison because of you, Max Evans!”

“Dad, stop it.” Liz appeared in the living room doorway, staring at her father and fiancé. “Don’t attack Max.”

“Lizzie.” Jeff rushed to his daughter and took her by the shoulders. “How could you still be involving yourself with him? You are a smart girl, and this has been destroying your life!”

“Jeffrey, stop,” Nancy pleaded

Still gripping Liz by the arms, Jeff’s gaze softened a bit. “Lizzie, listen. I know what you’ve been through-“

“You know what I’ve been through?” Liz repeated, her eyes welling with tears as she tore from his grip. “You know what I’ve been through? You don’t have any idea!” Her body shuddered with anger, and she yanked away when Max reached for her. “Neither do you!” she cried, her head spinning with frustration and pain. She sank to her knees, the tears coming fast.

Max dropped down beside her, wanting desperately to comfort her. But she was right. He didn’t know what she’d been through…and not just in losing their son.

“I am not doing this right now,” Liz continued fiercely, her attention now solely on her father as she got to her feet. “I know you want to do what’s best for me, but this is just not. You…storming into our home is not acceptable, Dad!” She swiped angrily at her tears. “You need to leave.”

Jeff’s eyes widened. “Lizzie-“

“Jeff, she’s right,” Nancy interrupted quietly. “This is not the time. She just got home-“

“So we’re just letting this go again, I understand.” Jeff threw his hands up in defeat. “You want us out? We’re leaving.” He turned and stormed out of the apartment.

Nancy stared after her husband wearily, and then turned to her equally headstrong daughter. “I love you, Lizzie,” she said, embracing her daughter tightly. “I…I’ll call tomorrow.”

Liz nodded wordlessly as she watched her mother follow after her father, and then abruptly turned and headed back to the bedroom.

And Max stood frozen in the living room, not entirely sure what had just happened or what to do with himself. After a minute he shook himself from his daze and made his way down the hall.

Liz was back in bed, curled in the fetal position with the blanket pulled up to her chin. She looked weak, weary…nothing like the person who spouted such fierce anger only minutes before.

“Liz.” He spoke her name quietly, his heart sinking when she closed her eyes at the sound of his voice.

“Let me sleep, Max,” she said flatly. It was as if the intense emotion had zapped her body of all energy, but that did nothing to ease the sting of being pushed away.

“Baby…you need to eat. Let me bring you something,” he began cautiously. They could talk…

“Let me sleep,” she repeated, rolling over so that she was facing the window. Turning away from him.


posted on 25-Mar-2002 1:47:56 AM by McGees
I can't tell you how much I appreciate your feedback! And just for that, I've got a nice long part for you. Just as a clarification, in my story the Evans' were never told about Tess's pregnancy - that may have been obvious from the last part - since it hasn't been kept up with on the show, I just decided to pretend it didn't happen. More convenient for me. *wink*

21

“So you guys are actually going to the Evans’ tonight?”

Liz glanced up at Kyle from where she stood cleaning the shake machine. “It’s Isabel’s birthday. We don’t have much of a choice.”

“You always have a choice, Liz,” Kyle said in exasperation.

She sighed and leaned across the counter, swiping a fry from his plate. “Max thinks we should try to act as normal as possible so we avoid more suspicion. And that means going to his parents’ house for cake.”

Kyle snorted. “What a bunch of crap. Liz, he’s been avoiding his dad for two weeks.”

“Yes, Kyle, I realize that.” Liz sighed again in frustration. “And I, once again, have been alienating my parents.” She paused. “No pun intended, so just don’t even say it.”

But Kyle’s attention had turned to the front door of the Crashdown. “Damn,” he drawled. “Seriously hot nurse, nine o’clock.”

Liz started to comment on Kyle’s easily distracted libido, but then her eyes widened. “What is she doing here?” she muttered.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, you know her?” he demanded. “Why must you keep such secrets from Kyle?”

“That’s Serena.”

“Oh.” Kyle paused. “Ohhh. Well hey, not that I mind, but what’s she doing here?”

“That’s a good question.” Liz squared her shoulders. “Excuse me, Kyle.”

Liz marched across the café, but was intercepted by Heather. “Liz, I got it. It’s my section.”

“Oh…I – I know her,” she explained to the other waitress.

Heather shrugged. “Okay, well, whatever.”

“Thanks. Um, can you ask Michael to step it up on table three’s order?” Liz continued on to the booth where Serena sat, flipping through a menu. “Can I help you?” she asked pointedly.

Serena looked up with a kind smile. “Liz, hi.”

“I didn’t realize it was routine for a nurse to check back with a patient after two weeks,” Liz continued dryly.

“I – no, that’s not what this is,” Serena said quickly. “I’m actually a big fan of the, uh, Nebula Salad.”

“Mm-hmm. It’s funny, I’ve never seen you here before.”

“Well, you know, I try to stop by after my shift when I have a chance.” Serena paused. “So how long have you been back at work?”

“About a week,” Liz said, her patience wearing thin. “I came back as soon as I got caught up in my classes. Listen, Serena,” she continued. “I appreciate your concern, but the last thing I need is one more person hovering over me-”

“Liz, that’s not what I’m trying to do,” Serena amended. “And…I’m glad you’re doing well.”

“Thank you,” Liz said shortly. “So a Nebula Salad? Anything else I can get for you?”

Serena tucked her blond hair behind her ear. “Just an iced tea. Thanks, Liz.”

Liz forced a smile and made her way back across the café to place the order.

“What did you say to her?” Kyle hissed, leaning over the counter.

“That I don’t need her spying on me.”

“So you were a bitch to her.” Kyle sighed, and then brightened. “Maybe I should, you know, go over there and make sure she’s okay-“

“No!” Liz said quickly. “Kyle, she’s suspicious. That’s why she’s here. I don’t want her asking a lot of questions.”

He nodded in defeat. “Liz, isn’t it possible that she’s just trying to be friendly? Or even more crazy, that she’s just hungry?"

“I don’t know,” she mused quietly. “But we…we can’t be too careful. Enough people are suspicious as it is.”

*****


“Liz? Are you almost ready?” Max asked gently, leaning against the doorframe of their bedroom.

Liz glanced up at him from her vanity, pausing midsweep with her makeup brush. “Yeah,” she said shortly.

“Listen, I know you don’t really want to go tonight-“

“No, Max, I don’t,” Liz interrupted coolly. “I don’t want to go to your parents’ house to be interrogated by your dad. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to go anywhere tonight. But, you know, we don’t always get what we want.”

Max stood, silenced by Liz’s harsh words, as she returned her halfhearted attention to the vanity. He knew better than to explain again why it was so important they go tonight, that it would be less suspicious that way, that his mother already had Phillip’s vow that he wouldn’t bring up anything that might upset Liz…but it was clearly too late for that anyway.

The last two weeks Max had become increasingly familiar with a side of Liz he’d never seen before. She was cold, distant, barely allowing him to touch her. She rarely left the apartment with the exception of classes and work, and spent the rest of her time immersed in schoolwork or sleeping.

But the worst part was their lack of connection. Liz just wouldn’t have any part of it. He recalled the night, two days after she’d come home, when he’d tried.

“I’m turning out the light,” Liz informed Max, stepping around him as he completed a set of pushups on the bedroom floor. “I’ve got to be up at seven.”

Max got to his feet, stretching his arms over his head and behind his back. “Liz, you’re not going to class tomorrow, are you?”

“Yeah, Max, I am,” Liz responded calmly, pulling back the covers and climbing into bed.

Max watched her, his eyes filled with concern. “But you just got home-“

“So am I supposed to just sit around here all day?” she responded. “The doctor said I can go back whenever I feel ready. And I’m ready.”

“Liz.” Max slowly approached the bed, sitting beside her at the edge. “I just don’t want you to rush back into-“

“Please don’t start,” Liz warned in exhaustion. “The sooner things get back to normal, the better. Whatever that means,” she muttered under her breath.

Max had frozen then, stung by her words, and Liz regretted it as soon as she said it. “Max, I didn’t mean-“

“It’s okay,” he said quietly.

Liz looked at him as if to say something else, but fell silent again. She leaned over to the lamp on her bedside table. “’Night.”

“Liz, wait.” Max reached out and touched her arm, causing her to pull back slightly.

“What?” she whispered, not quite able to meet his eyes.

“Just…let me…” He trailed off, bringing his hands up to frame her face.

For a split second Liz’s weary eyes welcomed him, but then she shrugged away. “Don’t.”

“Why?” he asked mournfully. Why wouldn’t she let him connect with her?

“I…I just need time,” she stammered. “I need to sleep, Max.”

She looked so exhausted at that moment that Max couldn’t argue. “Okay,” he agreed quietly.


Since that night, any attempt Max made at so much as an embrace had been quickly shrugged off. It was her way of coping, he reminded himself. Dr. Sinclair had said it was normal, especially with her hormone levels readjusting. She’d just been through a traumatic loss, he scolded himself. Of course she shouldn’t be expected to bounce right back.

But it was the lack of connection, the very essence of their relationship, that was slowly killing him.

*****

Silently, Max and Liz made their way up to the Evans’ front walk side by side. As they reached the front door, Max reached over and squeezed her hand instinctively.

Liz glanced down at their joined hands, and after a moment Max felt her fingers wrap lightly around his. This encouraged him, so much that he actually managed a smile when his mother opened the door.

“Hi Mom,” he said, leaning down to kiss her cheek. He was so grateful to her, especially over the past couple of weeks. She hadn’t brought up the incident at the hospital once, except to ask how Liz was doing, and she deferred Phillip from talking about it whenever he broached the subject. Diane couldn’t bear to see her son put through more anguish than he was already in, especially at the hands of his father.

“I’m so glad you both came,” Diane smiled, giving them each a warm hug before ushering them into the house. “Isabel and Jesse just got back from dinner, and I’m about to light the candles on the cake.”

“You mean Iz didn’t insist on opening presents first?” Max asked dryly.

“Max, your sister is twenty years old,” Diane reminded, then rolled her eyes. “Jesse let her open one at home.”

They entered the dining room, and Max immediately felt a chill in the air. His sister and brother-in-law greeted them warmly, but his father gazed at them with an unreadable expression.

“Dad.”

“Max. Liz.” Phillip forced a tight-lipped smile. “Sit, sit, we don’t want to keep the birthday girl waiting.”

“Thanks Daddy,” Isabel said lightly, smiling at her father and rubbing her hands together. “Can’t keep those presents waiting, either.”

Diane chuckled and turned toward the kitchen. “I’ll be right back.”

Liz sat down between Max and Jesse uncomfortably, folding her hands over her crossed legs. She jumped slightly when she felt something brush against her leg, but then noticed Max looking at her intently. His hand rested on her knee comfortingly.

She swallowed hard and gave Max a small smile as Diane returned with a bright birthday cake. “Happy birthday to you…” she began, setting the cake before her daughter.

The others joined in, and Isabel beamed at them. She fairly glowed with happiness, illuminated in the light of the birthday candles.

“Make a wish, honey,” Diane encouraged.

Isabel exchanged a glance with Jesse and her smile deepened before she leaned over and blew out the candles. Jesse rested his arm over her shoulders, giving her a peck on the cheek.

“I’m so glad you guys came,” Isabel remarked as she cut and passed out slices of chocolate cake. “It wouldn’t feel like my birthday without my brother and future sister-in-law.”

Max smiled, and Liz took up a sudden interest in the small frosting flowers decorating her slice of cake.

After an uneventful dessert, Phillip excused himself to his study and Isabel went to help Diane with the dishes in the kitchen.

Jesse leaned over, resting his hand on Liz’s shoulder. “How’re you doing?” he asked gently.

“I’m fine,” Liz answered politely.

“How’s my dad been at work lately?” Max asked, his voice low as he leaned over Liz.

“The last week has been quiet,” Jesse admitted. “He’s got a new case out of Las Cruces that’s been keeping him pretty busy, so I think things have settled down a little.”

Max sighed with relief, but deep down he knew it couldn’t possibly be that simple. Still, he said, “Jesse, thanks, man. For everything.”

“Don’t mention it,” Jesse replied. “I can only imagine how hard this has been for you.”

Liz pushed her chair back, tired of the conversation. “I’m going to get some air real quick,” she said. “I’ll be right back.” She got up before either one could say anything.

Slipping out the back door into the cool October night, Liz pulled her sweater tighter around herself. She glanced over her shoulder, half expecting to see Max following her. But he wasn’t. Good. She needed a few minutes to herself. Wandering across the patio and down into the yard, she gazed up into the dark sky at the stars twinkling overhead.

“Isn’t it beautiful tonight?”

Liz turned toward the bench that sat in the Evans’ flower garden, suddenly noticing Isabel sitting by herself. “Mm-hmm,” she said quietly, making her way over and sitting down beside her. “What are you doing out here, Iz?”

“Just thinking.” Isabel continued to gaze up into the sky, her face bathed in the soft glow of the stars. “You?”

“Same.” Liz rubbed her hands together and looked at Isabel intently. “Are you okay?”

A faint trace of a smile crossed Isabel’s face, and she finally turned to Liz with tears glimmering in her eyes. “Remember my eighteenth birthday?”

Grinning, Liz rolled her eyes. “How could I forget the party at the Crashdown? Especially when-“

“Alex came out and started dancing,” Isabel finished, her voice catching in her throat despite the smile that spread over her face.

Liz nodded knowingly. “Yeah,” she said softly. “I really wish I’d been there, but I hear about it so much that it almost feels like I was. Every time I hear that song ‘Ride the Train’ I think of him.”

Isabel burst out laughing, covering her mouth with her hand as the two girls giggled at the memory of Alex. Tall, lanky Alex, stripping down from his police officer top to a white wifebeater, dancing and prancing around as if he’d lost it completely. “Hey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it,” he’d shrugged later.

Stopping abruptly, Isabel closed her eyes and a single tear made its way down her cheek. “A lot of things make me think of him.”

“Me too,” Liz whispered, putting her arm across Isabel’s shoulders and pulling her closer. “I can’t believe that was two years ago,” she muttered incredulously.

Isabel shook her head. “So much has changed since then,” she sighed. “But…but sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday, you know?”

“I know,” Liz sympathized, again gazing up into the night.

“I never stopped caring about him, Liz. I didn’t,” Isabel continued after a few moments. “I…I know it might have seemed that way…”

“Hey…” Liz leaned her head against Isabel’s. “I know you didn’t. You did the only thing you could do. You kept living, Isabel. And I know Alex understands that.”

Isabel nodded slowly, sniffling. “He still comes to me sometimes, in my dreams. Funny, isn’t it? That now he can dreamwalk me?”

Liz smiled, squeezing Isabel’s hand as they watched a shooting star etch across the dark sky. “What does he say?” she asked quietly. It felt so good to be talking about their friend…no one had forgotten him, of course, but sometimes in the craziness of life, they didn’t take as much time as they should have to just talk about him. Remember him.

“He’s proud of us. Proud of you, Liz. For keeping it together, figuring out the truth. He’s not angry, not anymore.” She paused, turning to Liz seriously. “He just wants us all to be okay.”

Blinking back tears, Liz nodded. “That’s just like Alex, huh?”

Now Isabel squeezed her hand. “Things will be okay, Liz. Everything will.” She paused, hoping she hadn’t said too much. According to Max, Liz was still very fragile. You wouldn’t know it, though, Isabel thought. Not from the surface. From the surface, Liz was eager to move on, to regain some semblance of control over her life. She knew how that felt. But she also knew that, on the inside, things weren’t quite as stable as they seemed.

Liz nodded again, silent as she gazed at the stars.

Isabel stretched her legs out in front of her, glancing around the garden. “Hey, I’ve been meaning to get in touch with the florist. I want her to come out here to get an idea of what she’s working with when she starts the floral arrangements.”

Liz’s gaze snapped back to Isabel, and her eyes widened slightly. “Um, no. Iz, don’t worry about it, okay?”

“Hey, it’s okay, Liz. We’re only looking at eight and a half more weeks-“

“No, Isabel.” Liz paused, her stomach clenching anxiously. “Don’t call anyone.”

Isabel stared at her in puzzlement. “But Liz, the wedding-“

“There isn’t going to be a wedding,” Liz said flatly.

*****

Isabel stepped silently into her father’s study, not wanting to interrupt his phone call. Phillip had his back to her and was speaking into the phone in an angry, hushed tone.

“I don’t care if you have to go back three times,” he hissed. “There’s something down there that he was hiding, and I’ve been – no, you don’t understand!” The chair whirled around, and he found himself face to face with Isabel. “Don, I’ll call you back.”

“Um…Jesse and I are leaving now, Dad,” she said quietly.

Phillip got to his feet tiredly. “I’m sorry I missed your gifts, Izzy,” he sighed. “I had phone calls to make regarding the case, and-“

“It’s okay, Dad,” Isabel interrupted. “I’m married to an attorney now, I know how it goes.”

“Happy birthday, sweetheart,” Phillip continued, giving his daughter a big hug.

Isabel returned the embrace, glancing over her father’s shoulder at his cluttered desk. Something caught her eye. A file poked out from beneath a stack of paperwork. One word was printed boldly along the tab.

LANGLEY

Isabel gasped, her heart nearly skipping a beat. She tried to calm herself as he father pulled away and held her out at arm’s length.

“What’s the matter, Isabel?”

Her eyes widened. “Oh. Oh! With, ah, with all this birthday excitement I totally forgot about my, uh, Ethics test tomorrow.”

Phillip arched an eyebrow curiously. “I thought you didn’t take Ethics until next semester.”

Isabel chuckled nervously. “You know what, Dad, you’re right. It must be in another class. Wow, I’ve really got a lot of studying to do, huh?” She leaned up and kissed his cheek. “I love you, Dad. We’ll see you soon.”

And with that she hurried from the study. She needed to talk to Max right away.

*****

"I thought that went alright,” Max offered, unlocking the apartment door and letting Liz in before following after.

Liz nodded, having been silent the entire drive home. “Your dad didn’t have much to say.”

Max rubbed the back of his neck. “I know. I want to believe that he’s too involved in his cases to get concerned about it, but it still worries me, you know?”

“That he’ll start investigating again,” Liz said softly, her gaze understanding.

You’re supposed to look into my eyes
Forever and all time


“Yeah.” Max paused, taking a step closer to Liz and holding her gaze. He looked into her eyes intently, and for the first time in almost two weeks, she made full and direct eye contact with him. His eyes caressed hers, taking in the exhaustion and the pain and the supreme strength that emanated from their dark depths. But as he moved to take another step toward her, she tore her eyes from his.

You stopped loving me that way

“I have to go study,” she said hastily, turning and disappearing down the hall.

Max sighed heavily, watching as she walked away from him. How long would this go on? How long would she push him away? How long would it take for her to realize that they wouldn’t find their balance if she didn’t let him in?

And I never thought that I
I would ever have to cry out


He trudged down the hall, into their bedroom. Liz had her back to the door, pulling her blouse over her head and exposing her bare skin. Max longed to touch her. Not in an overtly sexual manner, but just to have the feeling of her warm, soft skin beneath his hand. He wanted to wrap his arms around her, pull her small frame to his, and just hold her. Hold her until she succumbed to his touch and allowed him to connect with her.

That you and I
We belong together again


Max silently moved toward her, reaching one tentative hand out and touching her shoulder.

Liz jumped and whirled around. “Max.” She quickly pulled a nightgown over her head and grabbed her sociology book from the dresser, once again leaving Max to stare after her.

I think I’m feeling lonely again

“What are you reading about?” he asked finally, unbuttoning his shirt and tossing it into the hamper.

“Welfare,” she said, not offering anything more.

“Ah.” Max moved to sit on his side of the bed, pulling off his shoes and socks. He reached for his own backpack on the floor, pulling out his planner to check the date of his own upcoming exam. Flipping through it, a large red circle caught his eye. December twenty-eighth.

“Wow,” he mused quietly. “We’ve got a lot to do, don’t we?”

“For what?” Liz asked, tapping the end of her highlighter against her lips.

“Our wedding,” he said, showing her the circled date in the planner. “Your dress isn’t finished yet, and we still have to get measured for tuxes, and-“ he trailed off when Liz closed her eyes and leaned back against the headboard.

“Max, I don’t want to talk about this right now.” Liz swallowed hard and turned back to her textbook.

He reached over and touched her shoulder. “Hey, we’ve still got time…”

“Max.” Liz’s voice was harsh. “Not now.”

The phone rang then, but Max ignored it. “I’m just saying –“

“Max, we can’t get married!” Liz burst out suddenly.

He stared at her in confusion. “We can’t?”

“No!” Liz tossed her book aside and jumped to her feet. “Max, don’t you see? You can’t marry me!”

“Why not?” he asked quietly.

“Because you’re doing it for the wrong reason!” Liz continued, wringing her hands anxiously.

“Liz, I’m doing it because I love you-“

“Stop!” Liz cut him off. “Our baby died, Max! You’re not obligated to marry me anymore, don’t you understand that?”

Max’s eyes widened in pure shock. “You think that’s why I wanted to marry you? Because I was obligated?”

Liz rubbed her hands over her face. “I don’t know!” She cried, her voice catching. “I-I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore!”

Max’s heart crumbled helplessly as he watched his Liz, his world, dissolve into tears before him. “Liz, you don’t know what you’re saying,” he tried desperately

Liz’s eyes flew up to meet his. “I know exactly what I’m saying!” The phone rang again, and Liz pressed her hand to her forehead. “Will you answer that?”

Max swallowed hard, reaching a shaking hand for the phone. “Hello?” he choked out.

“Max, it’s Isabel.”

“I can’t talk right now,” Max managed, replacing the receiver without any thought and turning back toward Liz.

“Max, listen to me,” she continued, much calmer now. “I’m not saying you don’t love me, or that I don’t love you.” She took a deep breath and slowly sank down onto the bed. “That’s not what this is about. It’s…Max, I’m not ready,” she whispered, her eyes filling with tears.

Feeling his own tears prickling at the back of his eyes, he sat quietly for a moment. How could he possibly respond to that? He flinched just slightly when he felt Liz’s hand rest atop his. “Max.”

“I do love you,” he murmured, staring down at their hands as he entwined their fingers. “More than anything, Liz.” Max took a deep breath. “And that’s why I would never…never force you into anything.” Their eyes met then, two pairs of shimmering dark pools that reflected more anguish – and love – than many would know in a lifetime. “I want to be your husband, Liz. And I want you to be my wife. As soon as you’re ready.”

Liz nodded, a single tear spilling onto her cheek. She closed her eyes as she felt Max’s thumb brush it away, and whispered, “I love you.”

Max caressed her cheek for a moment and then slowly moved his hand away to pull back the covers. Liz crawled under them, exhausted, and Max reached over to turn out the light. He returned to Liz’s side, surprised when she moved a little closer to him, and within minutes she had fallen asleep.

But it was another restless slumber, and Max’s eyes never left her. He gingerly reached out and touched her arm.

I feel you tossing and turning
I know there are walls we have to climb


Satisfied that he was making some kind of contact with his Liz, Max closed his eyes and waited for sleep to claim him.

I sit here waiting and yearning
Cause I know we can get by


It went unnoticed in both exhausted states of mind, but it was only then, when he was in contact with her, that Liz's body finally relaxed.

*****

lyrics by Hanson, Lonely Again
posted on 25-Mar-2002 4:23:31 PM by McGees
Shameless bump to make the new part easier to find...*tongue*
posted on 1-Apr-2002 5:27:08 PM by McGees
Your feedback rocks my world! *big* Welcome to the new readers, and thanks as always to my old loyal friends. Amanda, lol, I'm honored that you brought this on your spring break! I hope it was worth your reading time. Also, Shelly2, Strawbehrry Shortcake, and Amanda, I'm happy you mentioned Alex. I miss that guy so much, and it's been so hard writing without him as a regular part of the storyline. I do like Jesse, though, so I'm doing my best with him and Isabel. *wink* Alright, on to the next part.

22

Max shifted his weight from foot to foot outside Isabel and Jesse’s apartment, waiting for his sister to come to the door and wondering what was so urgent that Isabel insisted on talking to him as soon as his last class was done.

“Max.” The door swung open and Isabel ushered him inside.

He shrugged out of his jacket and said, “Sorry about last night. Liz and I…we were talking, and I didn’t-“

“I understand,” Isabel replied. “Is everything…okay?” She didn’t want to let on that Liz had already told her very briefly about her plan to postpone the wedding.

“We called off the wedding,” Max sighed.

“Oh my god,” Isabel feigned surprise. “What happened?”

“We just…we don’t want to rush it, you know?” Max ran an anxious hand through his hair.

Isabel nodded her understanding. “It should be a happy day, Max. You should be able to enjoy it, and right now it might be too much.”

Max wandered into the family room and slumped onto the sofa. “So what is it you needed to talk to me about?”

“I hate to do this right now, Max,” Isabel began, sitting down beside her brother and knotting her fingers nervously. “But you need to know…I think Dad is investigating you again.”

Cursing under his breath, Max braced his elbows on his knees and buried his face in his hands. “How do you know?” he asked, his voice muffled.

“I was in his study last night, and he was on the phone. I didn’t hear much of the conversation, but…it sounded suspicious,” she sighed. “And…there was a file.”

“A file?” Max glanced up at his sister, who nodded.

“On Langley,” she said quietly.

“I don’t believe this,” he muttered, rubbing his hands over his face in frustration. “How does he even know about Langley?”

Isabel sighed. “I don’t know, Max. He must have tracked down some details from when you went to LA last fall.”

“Goddamnit.” He got to his feet and began pacing the room anxiously. “I knew he would do this again, Iz. I thought we were done with this a year ago.”

“Somehow I doubted that,” Isabel admitted. “He’s probably been digging up information all along.”

Max stopped. “But I haven’t done anything since we followed you to La Jolla. And that was almost a year ago. I’ve been here, living a normal life. He hasn’t had any reason to be suspicious.”

“Max, it’s not like he was going to just forget everything that happened,” Isabel argued. “I know how important it was to you, but looking for your son really drew a lot of attention to yourself.”

“I know that,” he defended himself. “God, Iz, that’s the reason I stopped. I couldn’t keep putting you and Michael in danger, and I couldn’t keep hurting Liz.”

“Okay.” Isabel got to her feet and rested a soothing hand on her brother’s arm. “The point is, we need to focus on right now.”

“Izzy, sweetheart, I’m home!” Jesse’s voice called from the front hall. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine!” Isabel said quickly. “We’re in here, honey.”

“Max, hey, man,” Jesse greeted, coming into the family room. He gave Isabel a kiss and grinned at her. “I missed you.”

“Me too,” she said with a smile. “Jesse, I was just telling Max about what I saw last night.”

Jesse nodded seriously. “I’m sorry, Max, I honestly had no idea he was still keeping tabs on you. He never gave any indication over at the office. Listen,” he continued. “Can you afford to lay low for a while? I might be able to find out details on whatever it is he’s trying to dig up.”

“Jesse, no,” Isabel argued anxiously. “I don’t want you risking your job.”

Jesse smiled reassuringly. “Iz. I won’t do anything stupid. This effects all of us. I want to keep you safe.”

*****

“I can’t believe we’re doing this.”

“Isabel, we’d get through a lot more of this stuff if you’d shut up and help us look,” Michael muttered, glancing up from the stack of papers he was shuffling through.

Sighing, Isabel waved her hand over the file cabinet and popped it open. “Can’t you give Jesse more than one day over at the office? This is completely illegal.”

Max eyed his sister from across the study. “Do you have any other suggestions?”

“It’s just that a lot of this is confidential information.”

“Iz, I know it makes you uncomfortable, but I don’t see what other choice we have,” Max continued. “If Dad’s investigating again, we need to know so we can be one step ahead.”

Isabel slid the file cabinet closed. “Right, I know. Look, I didn’t find anything in here.”

“Nothing here either,” Michael announced.

“Damnit.” Max slid the files back into place and sighed. “He must keep the information in his briefcase and take it back and forth with him.”

Nodding her agreement, Isabel opened the study door. “Let’s get out of here before Mom and Dad get home.”

Max glanced around the study one last time to make sure nothing was out of place and followed Isabel and Michael down the hall. Suddenly, the back door opened.

“Oh my God!”

“Mom!”

Hurrying into the kitchen, Max found his mother staring at them in shock, her hand pressed to her chest.

“Kids, you almost gave me a heart attack!” she gasped.

“Oh Mom, we’re sorry,” Isabel apologized. “I, uh, I thought I lost an earring here the other night, and I wanted to look for it.”

“Sweetie, you should have called. I could have looked for it,” Diane said.

“I know, I know, but, um, Max and Michael said they’d help me look, and I figure three pairs of eyes are better than one,” Isabel chuckled nervously.

Diane eyed her strangely. “Honey, is everything okay?”

“Fine!” Isabel squeaked.

“You look a little flushed,” Diane continued in concern. She turned to Max and Michael. “Why don’t you all stay for dinner,” she suggested. “Your dad will be home soon, and-“

“I can’t, Liz gets off work in a little while,” Max replied quickly.

“Well that’s fine, have her come on over,” Diane said simply.

“I told her I’d make spaghetti tonight,” he blurted out. “She hasn’t been eating much,” he explained, seeing his mother’s confused face. “And she said spaghetti for dinner actually sounded good, so I really want to do that tonight,” he finished lamely.

Diane nodded blankly. “Well…sure, I understand. Okay, some other night, then.”

“Definitely.” Isabel gave her mother a hug. “Sorry to scare you like that. I’ll keep looking for that earring at home.”

Max embraced Diane as well. “We’ll see you soon, Mom,” he said, kissing her cheek.

“Later, Mrs. Evans.” Michael gave a quick wave.

“Bye kids,” Diane smiled. “Say hi to Jesse and Liz.”

“That was close,” Max muttered once they were down the driveway and out of earshot.

“Too close,” Isabel and Michael agreed in quiet unison.

*****

“So as we finish up our unit on government agencies…”

Liz sighed quietly, flipping open her notebook and uncapping a pen. She glanced over at Maria, who gave her an empathetic eye roll before pursing her lips together into exaggerated fish lips.

Stifling a giggle, Liz was once again grateful she and Maria had this Sociology class together. It made it all the more bearable when after class, Maria would perform her dead-on impression on Professor Keating, sucking in her cheeks and strutting around with her ass sticking out.

Liz smiled to her turned back to the professor, resting her chin in her palm. After a few minutes, her attention wavered again and she found herself gazing out the window into the early November afternoon. Tomorrow, she noted, it would be one month since she lost the baby.

What on earth is going on in my heart
Has it turned as cold as stone


‘Lost the baby.’ What a ridiculous phrase. She didn’t
lose her son, she’d known exactly where he was. A dull ache echoed the emptiness that she still sensed within her womb, and she unconsciously moved her hand to her stomach. He should have been safe there.

Maria glanced over and noticed Liz’s faraway expression, her hand resting over her stomach. “Liz,” she hissed.

Breaking from her thoughts, Liz turned to Maria in surprise.

“Are you okay?” Maria mouthed.

Seems these days I don’t feel anything
Unless it cuts me right down to the bone


Liz swallowed hard, nodding ‘yes.’ Maria seemed satisfied with this and returned to doodling in her notebook, while Liz tried once more to focus on the professor’s review.

“The welfare issue obviously raises a great deal of controversy,” Professor Keating was saying as she clicked around the front of the room in her stiletto heels. “The opponents, as you’ll remember, claim that government money only encourages young women to have children. There is no support from a father figure…”

Liz thought about this, realizing again how fortunate she was that Max was so supportive. He took responsibility for their baby immediately, never once leaving Liz to feel alone in the situation.

What on earth is going on in my heart

“…and opponents raise the issue that many young mothers don’t even want the child…”

Liz’s ears pricked up at this statement, and her stomach lurched. She was immersed in thought again, slowly being bombarded and overcome by memories.

My oh my you know it just don’t stop
It’s in my mind I wanna tear it up


No. She did love her baby, more than she thought she was capable of loving anyone. So why…why did she feel like this? Why was the guilt still eating her up inside, slowly filling her heart and her brain and her soul until it was paralyzing?

I’m trying to fight it, trying to turn it off
But it’s not enough


Liz’s hand drifted back down to her stomach as her mind cried out. I loved you, my angel. I still do. I’m sorry…I’m so sorry… The pain was intoxicating, squeezing her heart like a vice, leaving her gasping for breath.

And then she was on her feet, grabbing her things, rushing from the classroom, slamming blindly into the bathroom, retching into the toilet, tears streaming down her face.

“Lizzie!” Maria was right behind her, pulling her hair out of her face, rubbing her back soothingly as Liz gagged and sobbed.

It takes a lot of love
It takes a lot of love my friend


After a few minutes she slumped back into Maria’s arms. “I loved him,” she cried mournfully. “I didn’t want it to happen, Maria. I loved him.”

To keep your heart from freezing
To push on till the end


Maria hugged her tightly, totally unsure of what to say or do. “Liz…are you okay?” she whispered finally. “What’s going on, chica?”

“I don’t know what’s happening to me,” Liz sighed, her voice thick with emotion. “I…I feel so guilty, and I don’t know what to do.”

Maria framed Liz’s face in her hands and looked at her seriously. “Liz, what in the world do you have to feel guilty about?” she demanded.

“Our baby died,” Liz murmured, her brown eyes swimming with unshed tears. “It’s my fault.”

“Liz. No,” Maria argued firmly. “You cannot blame yourself for that. You didn’t do anything wrong. Liz-“

“I didn’t want him,” she whispered, the pain etched visibly across her face. “Not at first.”

What on earth is going on in my head
You know I used to be so sharp


“Oh Lizzie,” Maria sighed, pulling her back into her arms and rocking her back and forth.

“I was so scared, Maria,” she continued brokenly. “And I was selfish. I wanted to go away to school, I had this whole life planned. And…and it did involve Max, and a family...but not so soon. I wanted to do things for myself first...God, I was so selfish."

You know I used to be so definite

“Liz.” Maria’s voice was firm, but threatened to waver as her own tears filled her eyes. “Liz, you are, like, the least selfish person I have ever known. You have no reason to feel guilty for wanting those things. And don’t you dare think for one second that it's your fault."

Thought I knew what love is for

Liz took a deep breath. “Max would hate me if he knew,” she whispered. “He can never know. I don’t know how to make him understand that I didn’t mean it…I don’t know how to explain how much I loved our baby. But Maria…if he saw…”

Suddenly Maria understood why Liz was keeping so much distance from Max. She was afraid to connect with him out of fear of what she thought he’d see. She was afraid he’d think she didn’t love their son.

I look around these days and I’m not so sure
No…not now


“Lizzie…Max knows how much you loved the baby. How could he not? It’s okay that you were afraid. God, no one had ever been in your situation before…” Maria trailed off, knowing she couldn’t go into that aspect of it in a public bathroom. “It’s totally understandable that you would have doubts. But Liz, no one blames you for what happened. It was not your fault,” she repeated. If drilling it over and over into Liz’s head would make her understand, she was willing to do it.

My oh my you know it just don’t stop
It’s in my mind I wanna tear it up


“I don’t know what to do,” Liz murmured.

I’m trying to fight it, trying to turn it off
But it’s not enough


“You need to talk to Max,” Maria said. “You need to let him in, so you can see that you are wrong in blaming yourself-"

It takes a lot of love these days
To keep your spirit free


“No,” Liz said quickly, her eyes wide with fear. “No, Maria, I can’t do that. I can’t lose him, too.”

*****

“Michael, I didn’t know what else to do. Liz said she needed to get away for a few days-“

“So you invited her to stay,” Michael finished. He sighed. “Maria…”

“She’s my best friend,” Maria continued indignantly. “I’m not going to turn my back on her.”

Michael pulled a Snapple out of the fridge and twisted off the cap. “Who said you have to turn your back on her?” he asked. “You can still be best friends without her moving into your place.” He paused. “Look, just because that’s what me and Max-“

“Michael, she’s not moving in,” Maria repeated impatiently. “Besides, a couple of nights exposed to my mom and Jim and she’ll be running home.”

Coughing on his swig of Snapple, Michael fought back a snicker. “Still?”

“Three nights in a row,” Maria moaned. “Can’t they ever go to the Valenti’s and make Kyle deal with it? I mean, come on.”

Michael shrugged and eyed Maria seriously. “Max is gonna freak out.”

“I know,” she sighed. “I just don’t know what else to do for her. You know, when we were in junior high and she was upset, I’d just lend her this blue miniskirt she loved and she’d feel better. It’s not that simple anymore, not with this, so if the only thing I can do is let her stay with me for a few days, I’m going to do it.”

“Hey.” Michael reached over and squeezed Maria’s hand. “I know. Just remember that you can’t solve this for them, okay? She and Max, they need to work through it together.”

Maria nodded. “You’re right,” she said. Sometimes Michael was a lot sharper than she gave him credit for.

*****

“Liz? Are you home, babe?” Max closed the front door behind him and glanced around the quiet apartment.

Swallowing hard, Liz continued pulling clothes from the dresser drawer. “Yeah, Max, I’m back here,” she called.

“How was your day-“ Max stopped short when he hit the bedroom doorway. “Liz, what are you doing?”

Liz tucked her hair behind her ears and glanced up from her duffel bag. “I’m staying at Maria’s for a couple days,” she said quietly.

Max’s heart slammed against his chest. “You’re…why?” he ventured in confusion.

“I – I just need a few days,” she began lamely. “I need to take a break from things, from this apartment-“

“And from me,” Max finished, his voice tinged with bitterness. “What – what did I do?”

Liz sighed. “Max, this isn’t about anything you did or didn’t do,” she insisted. “I’m doing this for me.”

“But what about us?" he whispered, moving closer to her.

Taking a deep breath, Liz zipped up the bag. “Please, Max, don’t make this any harder,” she said firmly. “I…I need to do this.” She turned to Max, her dark eyes shimmering with tears. “Please…try to understand.”

Max shook his head dazedly. “I don’t know what to understand,” he admitted.

Ding-dong!

“That’s Maria,” Liz announced, slinging the bag over her shoulder and moving to step around Max.

“Liz, wait.” Max grabbed her arm and pulled her to him. He had to fight every urge in his body to keep from kissing her; long and deep and mind-blowing, so she would see that she belonged here, with him. But instead he found himself simply holding her, closing his eyes and burying his face in her hair.

Liz hugged him back tentatively and then pulled away. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” she said softly.

“Are you still coming, Liz?” came Maria’s voice from the front hallway, having obviously let herself in.

“Yeah, Maria.” Liz turned and walked quickly down the hall, with Max following behind her numbly.

“Hey Max.”

Max eyed Maria suspiciously. Was this her idea? Did she put this into Liz’s head?

Liz shrugged into her jean jacket. “I’ll see you in a few days, Max.”

And then they were gone.

*****

lyrics by David Gray, My Oh My
posted on 5-Apr-2002 10:52:39 PM by McGees
Thanks, everyone, and welcome to the new readers! *happy* Okay, here's the first part of 24...I ended up condensing things a bit more than I originally planned, so I hope it's easy enough to follow.

I'll be putting the next part up ASAP because I know what ya'll are waiting for...I'm putting the finishing touches on it now, and I'm hoping you'll approve. *wink*

23a

The past we seek
Some certainty
The seasons we remember
The light of May
…and darkest days
The month we call…
November


“That pocket.” Michael jabbed his pool cue toward the corner of the table and made his shot. “And…I rule.” He pumped his fist in the air as the ball rolled into the pocket. “That’ll be fifty bucks, dude. Pay up.”

Max glanced up at his friend. “We didn’t bet, Michael.”

Michael smirked. “Just seeing if you were paying attention. Want to play another round?”

“Nah, man, I should get home.” Max ran his hand through his hair uncomfortably.

“And do what, mope?” Michael countered. “Come on, Max, Liz has been gone for two days. Just…I don’t know, look at it as an extended sleepover.”

Max sighed in frustration. “But it’s not, Michael. She left me.”

“No, Max.” Michael placed his hand on Max’s shoulder. “Liz is coming back. You know that.”

“She packed a bag, Michael. All her books, her-“

“She’s a woman, Maxwell,” Michael reminded. “She’s gonna pack all kinds of crap.” He paused, seeing Max’s doubt. “Listen, I don’t know what you’re going through, so I’m not even going to pretend that I do. But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that you and Liz…you have something really special. I don’t think there’s anything that can change that.” He paused, surprised at himself for being so sensitive, and decided he was on a roll. “You guys have been through some pretty rough stuff in the past, but you’ve always gotten through it. This isn’t going to be any different, Maxwell.”

Nodding somberly, Max tried his best to convince himself that Michael was right. Liz had always been there for him, had supported him no matter how badly he screwed up…but this time was different. He hadn’t been able to stop their son’s death, he hadn’t been able to stop Liz from leaving…Max squeezed his eyes shut. “I don’t want her to hurt anymore.”

Michael sighed. “I know, man. Look, you need to keep your mind off of this for a while, how about another round?”

Max opened his eyes. “If I don’t think about Liz, then I start thinking about Langley. Michael, if my dad finds him…” he trailed off.

“All hell will break loose,” Michael finished. “Then I guess we know what we need to do now, huh?”

“Find Langley,” Max answered quietly.

*****


To leave behind
The wasted time
And every bad decision
…and harder still
What force of will
To feel we are forgiven


Liz wandered into the DeLuca’s family room with a sigh, pulling her jacket off from over her Crashdown uniform. “Well, I just sliced up enough pumpkin pie to feed an army tomorrow…” she trailed off. “Maria, what are you watching?”

“The Osbournes,” Maria grinned. “Michael got me hooked last spring. The re-runs are great.”

Liz squinted at the screen in morbid curiosity. “Do you understand a word he’s saying?”

“Not really, but you can kind of fill in the deleted expletives,” Maria shrugged as Liz sank down onto the couch. “So. Thanksgiving. Tomorrow.”

“What about it?” Liz asked distractedly.

Maria reached for the remote and clicked the television off. “Liz. It’s been two weeks. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. You and Max should spend the day together.”

“He’s gonna be with his family, I have to work tomorrow night so I’ll be with mine…and plus, I mean, I thought I was having dinner with you and your mom and the Valenti’s.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Liz. It’s my mom cooking. You won’t be missing much. Don’t you think you should spend it with Max?”

“Yes…no…I don’t know,” Liz sighed. “I mean, it’s not like we’d have a good time. I haven’t been the most pleasant person to be around lately, anyway. I think he’s needed space, too.”

Maria gave her a look. “Liz.”

“I’m serious, Maria. We’ve talked about this. After everything that happened at the hospital, he’s been trying to deal with a million different things. It’s my fault his dad is investigating again. He’s got to find Langley, and that needs to be his priority right now.”

Gritting her teeth, Maria fought the urge to grab her best friend by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. “Liz, you have got to stop this.”

“Stop what? Blaming myself? Maria, I’m not losing my mind, okay? Because of the things I said, Max and Michael and Isabel have a very real chance of being found out. I’ve spent the past three years trying to prevent that from happening.” Liz paused, fighting back tears. “Sometimes I think it would just be easier if…”

“If what, Petunia?” Maria asked gently.

Liz sighed. “If we didn’t have to keep it a secret. I mean, I know how important it is to Max, that his parents never get put into that kind of danger, but…” she trailed off. “Never mind.”

“It’s okay to feel that way, you know,” Maria said. “Hell, it would have made the last month a little easier to cope with. But…Liz, Max doesn’t blame you for anything. Neither do Michael or Isabel. You were practically incoherent when all that happened. You didn’t know what you were saying. You got scared, okay? You’d just been through hell, and-“

“Stop.”

“Liz, I’m just-

“Maria, stop it. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

Maria sighed. “Liz, you’ve got to. If you don’t want to talk to me about it, I understand. But you have got to talk to Max.”

Liz was silent for a moment before speaking. “I know,” she whispered.

But something stays
So who am I to say
There’s nothing more between us


*****

…and I don’t know the reasons

Taking a deep breath, Liz punched in the familiar numbers to the apartment. She twisted the cord around her finger, listening anxiously to one ring…then two…three…four…and finally, she heard Max’s voice.

“Hi, you’ve reached Max and Liz. We’re not in right now, but if you-“

“Damnit.” Liz replaced the receiver in frustration. He must have already left for his parent’s house.

Nothing’s clear…
I’ve come to know conclusions
Said and done
Is it all said and done?


Max closed his eyes as he stepped back into the warm spray of water, rinsing the sudsy remains of shampoo from his hair. It was going to be an interesting day, he knew that for sure. He didn’t know how he’d deal with spending the majority of the day at his parent’s house, trying to pretend that everything was normal…that Liz merely had to work, and that things were fine between them. And on top of that, his father…

A faint ringing interrupted his thoughts. The phone? Max groaned, quickly shutting off the water and grabbing a towel to wrap around his waist.

Riiing!

“Hang on, I’m coming,” Max muttered. It was probably Michael, wondering where the hell he was and why he hadn’t picked him up yet. He skidded across the bathroom floor to the door.

Riiing!

“Chill out, Michael.” Max hurried down the hall toward the kitchen just as the answering machine picked up. He reached for the receiver, but then heard the machine click off. Michael wouldn’t bother leaving a message, he figured.

Tightening the damp towel around himself, Max quickly punched in the number to Michael’s apartment.

“’Lo?”

“Hey, I was in the shower. Give me fifteen minutes, okay?”

“Huh? Maxwell?”

“Yeah. I didn’t pick up because I was in the shower, but I-“

“I didn’t call you, dude.”

Max’s stomach dipped. “Oh. Sorry, Michael. I’ll be there in fifteen.” He slowly replaced the receiver, his mind racing.

Liz.

Don’t kid yourself, he scolded. It’s Thanksgiving, she’s going to be busy helping at the Crashdown all day. Max sighed and slowly made his way back to the bedroom.

So here we are
Not very far
From when we said forever
…and all we have
This restless past
The month we call…
November


*****

“Go…go…yes…YES!”

“YEAH!”

Diane arched an eyebrow at her daughter. “Our husbands,” she sighed, shaking her head.

Jesse grinned from the couch, reaching behind him to grab Isabel’s hand. “Hey, it’s Thanksgiving. I’m stuffed from an incredible dinner, the Cardinals are on fire, and I’m with my beautiful wife. Could life get any better?”

Isabel leaned over the couch and smirked at him. “If you think flattery is going to get you a slice of pumpkin pie, you’re wrong.”

“Actually, pumpkin pie does sound pretty good…” Phillip spoke up, winking at his wife.

Diane sighed. “I can take a hint. I’ll go slice it up. Isabel, where did Max and Michael go?”

“Oh. Um, I think Michael left something in the car…and Max is helping him,” she said quickly, glancing at Jesse and then smiling brightly at her mother. She cleared her throat. “I’ll be right back. Save some pie for the rest of us,” she added, pointing warningly at her father.

Ducking out of the family room, Isabel hurried down the hall toward the study and gently eased the door open. “I figured I’d find you here.”

Max whipped around from the desk. “Isabel.”

“You scared the shit out of us,” Michael grumbled from the file cabinet.

“What are you doing in here?” she hissed. “Mom and Dad are right down the hall, and you guys are pawing through his study?”

Max sighed, replacing a file. “Iz, we’re running out of time. It’s been two weeks and we haven’t found-“

“Jesse doesn’t think it’s urgent.”

“Well it’s not Jesse’s ass on the line, is it?” Michael retorted.

“Isabel,” Max continued, his voice low and very serious. “I can’t find Langley. Not in California, not anywhere. I can’t get ahold of him. I don’t know what that means, but if the guys dad hired got to him-“

Isabel shook her head. “No. He wouldn’t do something like-“

“Look, we don’t know anything anymore,” Michael interrupted. “I’m with Max. We have to find out whatever we can.”

With a grudging sigh, Isabel joined Max at the desk. “Anything here?”

“Same as before,” Max said, frustrated. “I don’t think he’s been keeping anything important in here.”

Isabel glanced around the room, her eyes falling on one corner of the study. “His briefcase,” she said quietly.

“Bingo,” Michael muttered, lifting it from the floor and setting it on the desk.

“We’ve got to be quick,” Isabel said anxiously. “We don’t have much time.”

Max waved his hand over the locks on the briefcase, clicking them open. A sudden gasp jolted his eyes toward the door.

“Oh my god…Max?”

Diane stood in the study doorway, staring at the three in shock. “Wh-what is going on?”

*****

lyrics by Duncan Sheik, November

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 7-Apr-2002 1:23:58 AM ]
posted on 6-Apr-2002 10:07:54 PM by McGees
Well, you left me feedback so now you get a new part. *big* Doesn't this work nicely? Actually I really wanted to get this up because of what we're building too...I'll post more soon! *wink*

23b
Diane stood in the study doorway, staring at the three in shock. “Wh-what is going on?” she asked, her voice and hands trembling as she clutched the study door.

“Mom…” Max trailed off, his heart plummeting to his feet as his mother gaped at them.

“Did you just…how did you…” She shook her head in disbelief, and then laughed nervously. “I’m imagining things. I must be. Because there’s no way you could just…just wave your hand over a lock and open it…”

Isabel looked at Max and Michael in alarm. After so many years of being so careful…

“Diane, what’s-“ Phillip appeared behind his wife in the doorway, his cheeks reddening in anger. “What the hell are you doing in here?” he demanded of his children. “This room is locked!”

“Phillip…I…” Diane gripped her husband’s arm for support.

He looked at her in confusion, his fury momentarily forgotten. “Diane, what happened? You look like you saw a ghost.”

“I…I can explain,” Max murmured, finding his voice. He looked to Isabel, who closed her eyes and nodded slightly.

“You sure as hell better,” Phillip exclaimed, striding to the desk and grabbing his briefcase. “How did you open this?” he demanded. “Answer me!”

Max’s face clouded with anguish. “Dad, it’s complicated,” he began quietly. “But if you’ll just…just listen…we’ll explain.”

Phillip crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m listening,” he said darkly.

“Daddy,” Isabel spoke up. “Please…promise you’ll really listen, okay? We’ll answer anything you-“

“Oh no, I really am curious as to why my own children broke into my personal space and are going through confidential information,” he snapped.

Isabel shrank back at her father’s tone, stepping closer to Jesse, who had heard the commotion and joined the room silently.

“Can we sit down?” Max asked quietly. He had no idea what the hell he was about to do…it was never something he’d let himself plot out in too great of detail, telling his parents. But now…now it was inescapable. So sitting down, he decided, would be the first logical step. His poor mother looked ready to pass out.

They filed silently into the family room, and Jesse quickly clicked off the football game. Max and Isabel sat side by side on one couch, while their parents took the other.

Max and Isabel shared a quick glance with Michael, who sighed and nodded. They were about to bare their identity to two more people. No turning back.

“What we’re about to tell you,” Max began quietly, “is going to change things. But…but it will explain a lot, and…just…please, just hear us out.”

“We love you both so much,” Isabel spoke up, her eyes filling with tears. “Please believe us when we say we would never do anything to hurt you.”

Diane clenched her husband’s hand. “Izzy…you’re scaring me,” she whispered.

“No, Mom, please don’t be scared,” Isabel pleaded. She looked at Max, her heart thundering. They couldn’t lose their parents…they couldn’t.

Max took a deep breath. “Thirteen years ago, you found Isabel and I in the desert. No identification, no information, no known past.” He paused as his parents nodded slowly. “That’s because we had just been born,” he continued. “Well…not born, exactly, not in the human sense.”

“In the human sense,” Phillip repeated. “Maxwell, what-“

“We – Isabel and Michael and I – we came from incubation pods that were onboard the spaceship that crashed in 1947.” Max paused, holding his breath as he waited for a response. And he was met with silence.

Phillip and Diane stared at him blankly. “Are you trying to tell us that you…you three are aliens?” Phillip finally asked.

“Yes,” Isabel said softly.

“But there’s no such thing…” Diane trailed off, gazing at her children with tears glistening in her eyes. These were her babies…not creatures from another planet. “It doesn’t make sense,” she murmured aloud.

“Mom,” Max continued gently. “What you saw me do just now…opening the briefcase…that’s one of the, ah, special abilities we have. We can manipulate objects, the structure of things.” He paused, his eyes searching hers. “Can – can I show you?” he asked.

Phillip nodded numbly, and Max reached his hand to a small wicker cornucopia on the coffee table. Before their eyes, he waved his hand over it and transformed it into clay.

Diane sucked in her breath, and Phillip continued to stare, expressionless. “Do you…know where you’re, ah, from?” he asked finally.

“Antar,” Max said quickly, his mouth developing a bitter taste. “We were sent here because there…there was a war, and we died. Our DNA was mixed with human DNA, and…we were brought here.”

“You make it sound so simple.” Phillip shook his head in awe.

“Have you told anyone about…this?” Diane asked quietly, glancing at Jesse.

“Yes,” Isabel answered. “Jesse knows.”

“So do Maria and the Valenti’s,” Michael finally spoke up.

“And Liz,” Max finished. “Liz was the first person who knew.” His parents listened silently as Max relayed Liz’s shooting…how he healed her…how she accepted him, despite his being different…how she was the first person who saw him…truly saw him…and loved him.

By the time he finished, his mother had tears in her eyes again. “Max…we never knew…” she whispered.

Max smiled faintly. “You couldn’t have,” he said, his voice gentle. “We didn’t want you to.”

“But why, Max? Isabel? Why would you keep this to yourselves for so long?” Phillip asked incredulously.

“We didn’t want to put you in danger,” Isabel whispered. “We wanted to protect you.”

“Oh Izzy,” Diane sighed. “Honey, we’re your parents. We should have been protecting you.”

Both Max and Isabel froze. We're your parents. Your parents. They weren’t turning them away…

“You don’t know how much that means to me…to Max,” Isabel whispered. She slowly rose from couch and stood before her parents.

Phillip stood then too, placing his hands on Isabel’s shoulders. “You are our daughter,” he said firmly. “No matter what you could ever tell us, we will always love you.”

“Always,” Diane whispered, standing up and pulling Isabel into a tight embrace.

As mother and daughter cried in each other’s arms, Max slowly raised his eyes to meet his father’s.

Phillip searched his son’s face, trying to fight back his own tears. “Thank you,” he said after a long silence. “For finally telling us the truth.”

Max nodded shortly, getting to his feet and standing before his father. They looked at one another evenly for a moment.

“Son.” And with that, he clapped his hand on Max’s shoulder and hugged him like he would never let go.

*****

“Maria? What are you doing here?” Michael rushed through the back door of the Crashdown out of the rain and found Maria shuffling through her locker.

“Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Spaceboy,” Maria said dryly.

“Sorry.” Michael pulled her into his arms. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

Maria snuggled into his embrace. “I’m dropping Liz off for her shift, and I need to pick up my Government book.” She paused. “Hey, didn’t your shift start, like, ten minutes ago?”

Michael sighed. “Yeah. Things have been a little crazy today-“

Liz burst into the back room. “Maria, is he here ye – Michael,” she interrupted herself. “Happy Thanksgiving, where the hell have you been?”

“Dinner at the Evans’,” he explained. “Listen, there’s something I-“

“Did you have a good day?” Liz asked quietly. “I – I tried to call Max this morning, but-“

“We told them the truth,” he announced without preamble. “About everything.”

Maria gaped at him. “You’re kidding.”

He shook his head. “I wouldn’t joke about this.”

“Oh my God,” Maria breathed. “Oh my God, how did they take it?”

Michael shrugged, making Maria want to kick him for his lack of specifics. “Better than I expected,” he said finally. Though he really wasn’t sure what he expected after all these years.

Liz continued to stare at him in shocked silence, finally shaking herself from her daze. “I have to see Max,” she whispered.

“Go,” Maria said, understanding immediately. She tossed her keys to Liz. “You take the Jetta, I’ll cover for you here.”


“You are the best,” Liz said gratefully, not pausing to say anything else as she headed out into the rainy night.

She hurried to Maria’s car, already soaked to the bone by the time she fumbled with the keys and got inside. As soon as she started the engine, Sarah McLachlan’s soothing voice floated from the tape deck. Liz peeled onto Main Street and began the familiar trip across town to their apartment. It was a drive she hadn’t made in more than two weeks. And suddenly her breath hitched as the next song on the tape began.

The winter here’s cold and bitter
It’s chilled us to the bone
We haven’t seen the sun for weeks
Too long too far from home


Gripping the steering wheel, Liz felt the words sweep over her. The past two weeks, the past two months came flooding back with such force that it was nearly palpable.

I feel just like I’m sinking
And I claw for solid ground
I’m pulled down by the undertow
I never thought I could feel so low


Liz felt her pain…but she felt Max’s too. They shared pain…but they hadn’t shared it with one another.

Oh darkness I feel like letting go

She’d run away from it.

If all the strength and all the courage
Come lift me from this place
I know I could love you much better than this
Full of grace


Never again. The tears spilled down her cheeks as she vowed with conviction that she would never run from Max. She would never run from their love. She had tried…but without him, she was incomplete.

It’s better this way I said
Having seen this place before
Where everything we said and did
Hurts us all the more


They’d been there before. They’d both known hurt. But they’d known love. Oh, had they known love. And somehow, the love was enough to overshadow the pain, any pain. Why hadn’t she seen that all along?

It’s just that we stayed too long in the same sickly skin
I’m pulled down by the undertow
I never thought I could feel so low
Oh darkness I feel like letting go


Liz shook her head, brushing at the tears. She wouldn’t let go. It was time to let Max in. No more hiding.

If all of the strength and all of the courage
Come and lift me from this place
I know I could love you much better than this
Full of grace
Full of grace
My love


She was going home. To Max. Where she belonged.

*****

lyrics by Sarah McLachlan, Full of Grace

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-Apr-2002 1:16:10 AM ]
posted on 7-Apr-2002 11:51:38 PM by McGees
2crzy4roswell, I have to agree with you that there are MANY a talented writer on this board! It just blows me away! I'm very happy that this story has helped you find some of them. *happy*

Calico Cat, I promise, she is going to make it home safe and sound. Hope that didn't scare anyone!

Amanda, thanks for your comment about the songs. I'd hoped they weren't distracting, but I like to use them sometimes to add to the overall effect...like background music in a movie or TV show. As a matter of fact, you'll probably recognize one of these songs from our show...it just felt perfect for this scene, and it really helped inspire so much of it.

Anyway, I'm so glad to hear that ya'll are a bit happier with me now. *wink* I really wanted to get this up as soon as I was finished, because I've had some of it started for quite a while now. See, I promised things would get better...let me know if this makes you Happy Dreamers, ok? Or at least a bit more satisfied.

24

Max unbuttoned his shirt and lay back on the bed. What a day. In one sense, he no longer felt like half the weight of the world was resting on his shoulders. His parents, the people who had loved and cared for himself and Isabel for almost thirteen years, finally knew the truth. And the most amazing part was that they still loved them. But at the same time, Max also knew confession didn’t come without risks. His parents were two more people who knew the truth, two more people that could be put in danger.

A sudden pounding on the front door jarred him from his thoughts. Max scrambled from the bed and attempted to fasten the lower buttons on his shirt. “Coming!” he called as the pounding grew more insistent. He pulled open the door.

“Liz,” he breathed, cut off as she fused her lips to his in a long, searing kiss. The force of their connection nearly knocked him to his feet, but he held on. The barrage of thoughts and images bombarded his senses – pain, fear, guilt – but above all, love. A love so deep that it rocked him to the core.

After a moment Liz pulled back, leaving them both breathless. There she stood in the dim light of the hallway, her Crashdown uniform soaked by the rain, her wet hair dripping in her face. “I left my key at Maria’s,” she explained simply.

All Max could do was nod as he stared at her, unsure of what to say or do.

Liz continued to hold his gaze, chewing on her bottom lip as they surveyed one another. “You told them,” she said finally.

Max nodded again, slowly reaching out to tuck a strand of wet hair behind her ear. “Hair thing,” he murmured.

Smiling faintly, Liz closed her eyes as Max’s fingers began a gentle caress over her cheeks and down her jaw, finally pausing as he cupped her chin in his palm. “How did it go?” she asked in a voice barely above a whisper.

“We told them everything.” He reached out to close the door behind her, placing one hand in the small of her back in the process. Surprised, Liz stumbled forward into Max’s arms.

The kiss was brief but reacquainting, and after a moment Liz pulled back and looked up at him. “Tell me about it,” she requested quietly.

“My mom caught me using my powers…” Max paused for another kiss. “We were looking for information…” Kiss. “We couldn’t do it anymore. We were hiding too much…” Kiss. “And I couldn’t keep letting my secrets hurt you…hurt us.”

Liz framed Max’s face in her hands. “What did they say?” she asked gently.

Max sighed, pressing a kiss into Liz’s palm. “That they would never turn their backs on us.”

A relieved smile washed over Liz’s features. “I’m proud of you,” she whispered. “I know how hard that was…for you, and Isabel, and Michael…to tell them.” She paused, leaning a bit closer to him. “You did it,” she breathed.

Max captured her lips in his then, pulling her body flush against him. His tongue explored her mouth and his fingers threaded through her hair lovingly.

Liz shivered at his touch, releasing herself into his arms as their kisses grew more urgent, searching. She nearly cried out in frustration when she felt him pull away.

“You’re soaked,” Max whispered, running his hands up and down her arms over the goosebumps. “Let’s get you dried off.”

He led her by the hand, grabbing a clean towel from the hall closet and continuing to the bedroom. Liz stood still before him, waiting to see what he would do next.

Max approached her slowly, holding her gaze as he draped the towel around her and rubbed gently over her back and down her arms.

“Max.” His name came out as a breathy moan, almost pleading. He swallowed hard as she guided his hands to the front of her uniform, helping him unfasten the buttons.

He slowly pushed the green dress off her shoulders, letting it fall into a damp heap on the floor behind them. And then he set to work, rubbing the towel down each arm, over her chest and stomach, and slowly down each leg until Liz was shaking under his touch.

“Are you okay?” he whispered, raising concerned eyes to meet hers.

Liz nodded, her eyes filling with tears. “I’m sorry.”

“Love,” he sighed, pulling her to him and kissing the top of her head.

Liz buried her face in his chest, bare where the shirt failed to cover the muscular planes. “I love you…”

Max’s heart sang at the words, words he hadn’t heard in nearly two months. “I love you.” His voice broke then, and he lifted her chin for another deep, soul-searching kiss.

I say I love you
I say I need you
I try so many ways to say
How my heart beats for you


Breathless, Max rested his forehead against Liz’s, gazing into her eyes intently. “Let me in?” he pleaded softly.

Liz nodded, feeling herself falling effortlessly into the depths of his amber eyes. She was ready to let him see her.

Max sensed it, sensed her guard falling away. It left her naked to him, her soul bare for him to see. Their connection, so hungry as it was for contact, had never been stronger.

I say I’m always thinking about you
There’s no way I’d want to
Face this life without you


And finally he was seeing her again. He experienced each emotion she’d known during the time since they’d last been together so intimately. Every wave of fear, every pang of guilt, every overwhelming rush of sadness.

“Oh Liz,” he breathed. “I’m so sorry, love.”

And even though these words
Come from deep inside of me
There’s so much more
I don’t have the words to say…


Liz traced her fingers over the prominent contours of his jaw, her eyes locking with his. “What for?” she asked incredulously.

“For letting you go through all of this…by yourself,” he murmured, his voice trembling.

“Oh Max,” she sighed, her hands framing his face. “I did that to myself. You – you did everything you could. You’ve been so patient with me, Max…and I thank you for that.”

Cause what I really want to say
Is what the sun would say to the sky
For giving it a place to come alive


“Love…I would do anything for you,” Max whispered reverently. “Please, love, tell me you know that…” He searched her face in near desperation.

But my words get in the way
Of what I really want to say


“I know.” Liz’s breath sighed across his cheek, tingling down over his lips as she claimed them again with her own.

Oh, what I really want to say…

Max drank from her hungrily, his body and soul starved for her. He lifted her into his strong arms and slowly, gently lowered her onto their bed. Liz broke away, her face a mixture of raw desire and hesitation.

I know that sometimes my words can be as hard as stone

“Are…Max, are you sure about this…” she whispered.

And sometimes my words have left you feeling so alone

“Yes.” He nodded firmly, the look in his eyes melting away any last shred of doubt. “Liz…I want you to surround me,” he breathed.

So please forgive me
And hear the words I’m saying now


Their lips met again in a kiss so filled with love and longing that it made Liz’s heart ache from the want of him. More of him. She wanted all of him, back where he belonged. In her arms, her body, her soul.

I will spend my whole life
Looking for a way somehow
To let you know just how precious you are to me


They undressed one another lovingly, discarding articles of clothing to the floor until it was just Max and Liz, together in their truest form.

“I love you,” he murmured into her ear, his warm breath and warm touch and warm weight sending waves of desire coursing through her body.

I’ll use the best words I know
But I still won’t say it all…


“Take me, Max,” Liz pleaded. “Make me yours again…all yours.”

Max needed no further coercion as he guided himself with trembling hands to his Liz.

It’s like a tale too great to be told
It’s something that my heart can only show


He held his breath as he entered her, feeling the rush of her sigh against his cheek and the rush of emotion that flowed from his body to hers. Max was still for a moment, gazing at her silently as the glory of being inside her, being surrounded by her, electrified his entire being.

“Max,” she gasped, willing her body to take him as deep as possible…to take in every piece of the magnificent man above her, touching her so tenderly.

They made love with a new height of passion, their breaths and gasps and sighs creating a beautiful symphony as they joined again and again, completing one another.

I’m gonna take my whole life
Just to let you know


Liz held Max to her as he cried out her name, tightening her hold on him as he shuddered his release. She pressed her lips to his temple as he stilled his shaking body over hers, knowing that they had seen one another in the rawest, truest way possible.

What I really want to say…

“I love you, Max,” she whispered, her eyes searching his face until they met.

His eyes searched hers as well, seeking reassurance. He needed her reassurance…

“It’s time,” Liz continued, her eyes filling with tears. “We have to forgive ourselves.”

*****

“Kyle, thanks again for picking us up so late,” Maria said gratefully, shrugging into her jacket as she followed him and Michael toward the back door. “Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. P.!” she called over her shoulder.

“You too, guys, thanks for all your hard work tonight,” Jeff replied, poking his head out from the office.

“It stopped raining,” Michael noted, looking up into the dark sky now peppered with stars.

Maria smiled at him as she ducked under his arm. “It’s beautiful,” she said quietly.

Kyle unlocked the car and then turned to them both expectantly. “Okay, start talking,” he requested. “What happened tonight?”

“I couldn’t say much on the phone, man, but the Evans’ know.”

He gaped at Michael. “No shit.”

Michael threw his hands up in the air as he climbed into passenger’s seat. “Why does everyone think I’m making this up? We told them everything.”

“Well…not everything ,” Maria supplied, getting in behind Michael. “But the basic gist of it all. Michael, you said Max didn’t go into the whole fiasco with that bitch Tess.”

“Not tonight.” Michael leaned back against the headrest as Kyle started the car. “Emotions were running really high as it was, and I guess Max and Iz are going over again tomorrow to talk more.”

Maria leaned over the seat. “Aren’t you going with them?”

“Doubt it,” Michael said shortly. “It really doesn’t involve me anymore. It’s their parents.”

Through the rearview mirror Kyle exchanged a look with Maria, who settled back and fastened her seatbelt. “Whatever you say, Michael.”

By the time they reached the DeLuca’s, Kyle had been filled in on the afternoon and was shaking his head in disbelief. “After thirteen years,” he muttered. “Damn.” He turned off the car and glanced up at the house dubiously.

“What’s the matter?” Maria asked, climbing out of the car and making her way toward the front porch. She paused. “Oh.”

Kyle smirked. “Hey, it’s your house. Tell my dad I’m waiting out here.”

“Ass,” she muttered under her breath, grabbing Michael’s arm. “I’m not going in by myself,” she said, dragging him up the front steps.

They opened the front door cautiously to the sound of faint laughter. “Shield your eyes,” Maria warned in a whisper, peering around the corner.

Nothing. “Uh…Mom?” Maria called. "I'm back! Michael's here, too!”

“Maria?”

Oh god, not the kitchen. “I’m never going to be able to eat off the table again,” Maria moaned to Michael. “This is going too far.” She took a deep breath and headed in that direction, covering her eyes with her hands and groping her way blindly to the doorway.

“Hi honey,” Amy greeted cheerfully. “How was work?”

Maria peeked out between two fingers and then sighed in relief. Her mother stood at the sink innocently washing dishes while Jim stood beside her, drying them.

“What’s the matter, Maria?” Amy asked, arching an eyebrow.

“She’s tired. Busy night,” Michael answered, stifling a smirk.

Jim grinned, rubbing a plate with a dishtowel. “I remember the days of the Crashdown Thanksgivings,” he said. Turning to Amy, he winked. “I think I like the new tradition better.”

Maria rolled her eyes good-naturedly at the gaze being exchanged between her mother and Jim. “That’s just great,” she said. “Uh, Jim, Kyle’s waiting out in the car for you.”

“I’ll walk you to the door,” Amy offered quickly, rinsing off her soapy hands and accepting the clean towel Jim handed her with a sappy grin.

“’Night, Jim,” Maria smiled, shaking her head slightly as she led Michael toward her room. “I’ll drive you home later in my mom’s car,” she said. “I want to talk to you.”

“What about?” Michael asked, flopping down onto Maria’s bed and stretching his arms out behind his head.

Maria quietly shut the door and then curled up beside him. “How do you feel about all of this?” she asked gently.

“Pretty glad I didn’t see your mom and Valenti making out.”

“Michael.” Maria shot him a look. “You know what I mean. How are you with what happened today?”

Michael turned to her seriously. “I’m fine with it,” he said quickly. “Now that Mr. Evans knows the truth, we don’t have to be constantly watching our backs out of fear that he’s investigating us.”

“That makes things a lot easier,” Maria agreed, resting her head on Michael’s chest and listening to his heartbeat vibrate against her ear. “But…you seemed a little weird in the car.”

Michael sighed, weaving his fingers through her long hair. “I guess it was a little weird, in a way,” he admitted. “I mean, I’ve known the Evans’ for years, but…I felt a little out of place. They’re Max and Isabel’s parents, not mine.”

Maria thought about this, understanding how Michael would feel a bit awkward. He’d never really had a family of his own…sure, he had their close circle of friends, but never parents. He’d never known what it was to have a mother or a father caring for him, looking out for him…not the way the others had. She didn’t pity him, she knew he never wanted that…but Maria felt for him.

She reached for his other hand, linking her fingers with his. Unsure of what to say other than what was in her heart, she whispered, “I love you, Michael.”

*****

And the morning light was breaking
Slowly moving across the bed


Max’s eyes fluttered open, noting the familiar warmth beside him. Liz’s arm was thrown across his chest, and her nude body snuggled against his. As his eyes adjusted, his mind slowly cleared of the sleepy haze.

Liz. She had come home to him.

He gets up without her waking
To the voices in his head


Carefully sliding his body out from beside hers, Max shifted his feet to the floor, pulling on the pair of boxers that had been discarded in the previous night’s lovemaking, and wandered into the hall.

Through the shadows in the hallway
To the room they painted blue


Max stood in the doorway of the spare bedroom for a moment, gazing around at the room that was to be their son’s nursery. He’d mostly avoided it in the time since the miscarriage; even closing the door during the weeks Liz was gone. They hadn’t had a chance to do anything with the room; so far it had been used mostly for storage. But in one corner sat an old rocking chair.

He smiled faintly, remembering the day Liz and Maria wrestled it into the apartment. It had belonged to Liz’s Grandma Claudia, but after her death had found a home in the Parker’s family room. Now, she was bringing it to their home.

“It’ll be perfect for when the baby comes,” she explained.

Max crossed the room then, resting his hand along the top of the rocking chair, running it across the intricate designs that had been carved into the wood surface. He traced them with his fingers, and then slowly sank down into it. This was the chair Liz always sat in with their son in those dreams…the horrible dreams that plagued her in the weeks before they lost the baby…it was where she tried so hard to protect their son.

But he had let her down. He’d let them both down.

And on the inside he is frightened
At a loss for what to do


He closed his eyes, desperately willing the guilt to stop. Liz didn’t blame him. That had been clear through their connection last night. And somewhere, deep, deep down, he knew she was right. It wasn’t his fault. He wasn’t God, he’d been reminded of that obvious fact time and time again. And Liz didn’t blame him. For the first time in nearly two months, he was beginning to believe it.

Til he opens up his eyes
And the angels all look down…


The tears welled in his eyes as he came to that realization.

Even closer than this life
Closer than your faith
Closer than the things that you hold dearly
And in vain


And suddenly the tears were falling, cascading down his cheeks in rivers, dripping from his chin onto his bare chest, until it was heaving with the force of his sobs.

Closer than this life
Falling through again
Giving more than anything
That you could hope to win


He wept for the love he thought he’d almost lost. He wept with the conviction that he would never, never let her slip so far from his grasp. He wept for their son, for Liz, for himself. For the first time since they’d lost their baby, Max allowed himself to cry.

And he knows his life is changing
It’s never easy letting go


And then Liz was in the doorway wrapped in his robe, making her way to him, kneeling between his legs. She ran her hands over his cheeks, her thumbs smoothing over the tears, murmuring the same way he had soothed her so many times. Her own tears flowed unchecked from her eyes as she realized that he was finally letting her see him in his most vulnerable state; finally letting himself grieve openly for their baby boy.

For the first time you are mortal
As the child before you grows


Max reached up and captured Liz’s hands in his. He kissed her fingertips and her palms reverently, tasting the salt of his tears. Gazing down into her eyes, the connection overtook them.

And he wonders at the sight
Of the joy that they have found


For the first time in two months, they knew. They would be all right. They would get through it, and they would be stronger because of it. The onslaught of emotion overwhelmed him, and Max slid from the rocking chair to the floor to take Liz into his arms.

And what did you intend to find
Solitude? Your peace of mind?
Holding out for something less
Than touching the hand of God


They were together again, complete. Closer, somehow, than when they had started.

Closer than this life
Closer finally


Because they knew, more clearly than ever before, the strength they possessed together. Together, they found peace.

Living for the only thing
You ever made complete


Together, they had created a child. And together, they would remember him.

Oh, and the one thing that
You both did perfectly


Neither Max nor Liz knew how much time passed while they sat on the floor, wrapped up in one another. After a time, after tears had been dried and tender kisses had been shared, Liz looked up at Max thoughtfully. “I’ve been thinking about something,” she said slowly.

“What’s that, love?” he asked, smoothing her hair from her forehead.

“We didn’t gave him a name.”

She was right. “No, we didn’t.” Max gazed down at her intently, his hands sliding down to capture hers. “What should we name our son?”

Liz took a deep breath. “I want to call him Gabriel.”

“Gabriel…” he repeated slowly.

“After the angel,” she continued, her dark eyes shining. “He – he’s our angel, Max. I want his name to be Gabriel Maxwell – for his daddy.”

When Max finally found his voice, he stroked her cheek lovingly and whispered, “It’s perfect, Liz. Thank you.” She turned her head and pressed a kiss into his palm as he repeated, “Gabriel Maxwell Evans.”

The one thing that
You both did perfectly…


*****

lyrics by Steven Curtis Chapman, What I Really Want to Say, and Better Than Ezra, Closer

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-Apr-2002 11:55:51 PM ]
posted on 12-Apr-2002 12:25:56 AM by McGees
Wow! Thank you so much for the feedback, and for the bumps! You guys are great! Things have been a little hectic in RL with it being so close to the end of the semester, but I'll be done in three weeks. Yay! Lots of time for writing...there's lots more of this story yet to come.


25

Maria stifled a yawn as she stumbled into the kitchen. “Mom, what are you still doing here?”

Amy looked up from her cup of coffee. “And a lovely morning to you,” she answered.

“It’s 11:30 on the busiest shopping day of the year, I figured you’d be long gone hunting down bargains.”

Taking a sip of her coffee, Amy smiled. “Not until this afternoon,” she said. “Jim has some paperwork to finish up and then we’re going out to find him a new pair of boots. The Kit Shickers have a reunion show over at Cowpies tomorrow night.”

“Wow, they haven’t played a set since, like, Labor Day,” Maria mused.

Amy grinned again and glanced around. “Liz is still sleeping? I didn’t hear her come in last night.”

“That’s because she didn’t,” Maria said casually, the smiled playing at the corner of her lips.

“So does that mean…” Amy’s eyes widened at Maria’s confirming nod. “I’m so glad,” she sighed. “I’ve never seen that girl so depressed. It just…wasn’t Lizzie.”

“Hello? Best friend?” Maria pointed to herself. “You’re telling me.”

Amy leaned a little closer to her daughter. “What made her decide to do it? Go home, I mean?”

Maria paused for a minute. “Epiphany,” she shrugged.

“Jim will be thrilled,” Amy continued. “I know he’s been worried…he thinks of all you guys like you’re his own kids.” She sighed, resting her chin in her hand. “He’s an amazing man.”

“Yeah, Mom, so about Jim,” Maria began. She felt slightly uncomfortable broaching the subject with her mother, but…heck, she was curious. “Exactly how…serious are things?”

“Oh Maria, I don’t know.” Amy got to her feet and padded over to the sink. “We just…we like spending time together.”

Maria rolled her eyes knowingly. “Well, yesterday was a little interesting. A couple years ago who would have thought – the DeLuca’s and the Valenti’s, sharing Thanksgiving dinner.”

Amy smiled, rinsing out the mug and turning back to her daughter. “I thought it was nice.”

“Oh, don’t get me wrong, Jim and Kyle are great…I just…Mom, I want to know if things get, like, really serious.”

Rolling her eyes good-naturedly, Amy returned to the table. “I thought that was my part of the discussion, not the other way around.”

“Mom…”

“I’m serious,” Amy insisted, leaning over the back of the chair. “You and Michael have been back together for a while now, and –“

“Four and a half months,” Maria clarified.

“You’re having sex, aren’t you.”

Maria’s eyes widened at Amy’s blunt statement. “Mom!” She blushed a fierce pink. “What, did Madame Vivian tell you that?”

Amy looked at her daughter seriously. “A mother can tell these things,” she said. “And I need to know that you’re being careful.”

“Yes, Mom,” Maria said as honestly as possible. They were being careful about protection, that was true. But whether or not her mother would see having sex with an alien as being “careful,” that was a completely different story.

“I believe you.” Amy nodded firmly. “And I want you to know that you can come to me about anything. I’m glad we could have this talk.”

“Um…yeah, me too.” Maria cleared her throat and jumped up when the doorbell rang. “I got it.”

She opened the front door to find Liz and Max hand in hand on the porch. “Your keys,” Liz smiled, dangling them before her.

“Lizzie!” Maria pulled her into a tight hug, smiling at Max over her shoulder. They both looked great…more relaxed and content than she’d seen either of them in ages.

“Max…how are you?” she asked then, realizing what an overwhelming twenty-four hours he must have had.

“Really good,” he answered honestly, his eyes shining in understanding. “We came to bring back your car and pick up Liz’s things.” He and Liz shared a quick look that, had Maria not known them and all the things they’d been through, would have made her ill from the sappiness.

“I’m going to toss my stuff in my bag.” Liz stood on her tiptoes to give Max a sweet, lingering kiss. “Wait right here.”

He let go slowly but nodded, watching as his Liz was led away by a very curious Maria. He could already tell it would be a while before he’d be okay with letting her out of his sight.

“Okay, girlfriend, spill,” Maria hissed as soon as they were out of earshot, gripping Liz’s arm.

Liz grinned, a sight that shot waves of relief through Maria, and said, “We’re going to be okay now. We’re…healing. Together.”

“You don’t know how glad I am to hear that,” Maria sighed, hoisting Liz’s bag onto her bed.

Liz smiled again, grabbing her textbooks from the dresser and shoving them into her duffel with a contented sigh of her own. “Actually…I think I do.”

*****

Max eased the Chevelle into park and cut the engine, gazing silently at the house he had grown up in.

Liz reached over and linked her fingers with his. “You’ve gotten through the hardest part already,” she reminded him gently.

He turned his gaze to her comforting smile and immediately felt at ease. “I just…I find myself wondering if they’ll feel differently than they did last night,” he admitted.

“They won’t,” she assured, clasping his large hand between both of her small ones.

“Thank you,” Max said quietly. “And thank you for coming with me. I know this isn’t easy.” He grimaced inwardly, knowing that today he’d have to come clean about some of the most painful aspects of his life, things he knew he’d need to try and clear up.

Liz squeezed his hand again. “I’m right here with you. I’m not going anywhere.”

With that, they made their way up the driveway, around Jesse’s car, and to the front door, where they let themselves in.

Diane heard the door and met them in the front hall, pulling her son into a tight embrace. After a few moments she turned to Liz, awed by the young woman’s loyalty and strength.

“Thank you,” she whispered, touching Liz’s cheek, “for taking such good care of my son.”

“We take care of each other,” Liz answered honestly.

*****

Max didn’t eat much during lunch. He lost his appetite at the mere mention of Agent Pierce, but he knew that they had to start at the beginning for anything else to be made sense of.

Phillip and Diane had many questions regarding the orbs, the pod chamber, the granolith, and their royal background, and continued to exchange bewildered and horrified glances while Max, Isabel, and Liz spoke. How could all of this have been going on right under their noses?

“I believe you, son,” Phillip assured. “I had bits and pieces of information a year ago, but I still don’t understand something. Why did Tess pick up and leave? The four of you were family.”

Max and Liz looked at one another tensely, and Isabel bit her lip. “No, Daddy,” she said quietly. “We thought she was one of us but…she was a traitor.”

Diane’s eyes widened. “A traitor? What exactly do you mean?”

Isabel closed her eyes, and Jesse ran a soothing hand over her back. “She did a lot of evil, evil things. And not just to us.”

“She killed Alex,” Liz murmured.

“Good lord," Phillip muttered. “Is - is she on the run? Is that why she disappeared?”

Max raised anguished eyes to meet his parents. It wouldn’t get any easier to explain, and he knew he had to just get it out. “She went back to Antar. I…I got her pregnant, and the baby couldn’t survive in the earth’s atmosphere.”

Phillip’s eyes moved back and forth from his son to Liz, who was sitting expressionlessly. “So the things you said at the hospital…”

“Were all true,” Liz finished quietly.

Diane lowered her hand from her mouth and turned to Max. “That means you…you have a child…somewhere.”

Max swallowed hard and nodded, finding some comfort when he felt Liz’s hand reach for his under the table. “I got these…these flashes from him. That he was in trouble. I wanted to find him, and we learned that the ship was being stored in an underground facility in Utah.”

“The convenience store…” Phillip said slowly. “I always knew you weren’t holding it up for the money.” He paused. “Did you find it? The…ship?”

Max nodded. “But they moved it immediately after. I…I was desperate, but you can see now why I didn’t tell you.”

Phillip shook his head. “And we thought it might be drugs…”

“Max?” Diane spoke up. “Help me understand something. I never even knew you and Tess were dating. Apparently a lot of things happened without my knowing, but with Liz…it was always so obvious how you felt about one another.”

“That’s because Tess and I never dated. I was never in love with her,” Max said quietly, tightening his grip on Liz’s hand. “It was nothing like that. You remember how we told you about what we learned when Tess first came to Roswell?” He took a deep breath. “There…there was this force that I could feel drawing me to her. I had no feelings toward her whatsoever, but that didn’t seem to matter.”

“We think Tess was mindwarping him,” Liz spoke up. “Just like she did to Alex before…he died.”

Diane’s brow furrowed in confusion. “But your powers…don’t you use them to help people? To do good things?”

Max sighed. “We’d like to think so. But being raised by Nasedo didn’t teach her that. We didn’t find out until it was almost too late that her plan was to get us all back to Antar so we could be delivered to the enemy.”

“What?” Diane burst out. “My god, and I have a grandchild in her care-“ She paused, glancing at Max. “Oh honey, I’m sorry, I didn’t-“

Max closed his eyes and shook his head slightly. “I know, Mom.”

“I still don’t understand something,” Phillip spoke up, his mind reeling from all the information. “If the space ship was locked in a government facility, how did Tess get back to…to Antar?”

“The granolith,” Max answered. “But it could only be used once, and that’s why I had to find a different way to get there. The space ship seemed like the only other possibility.”

“Is that where Cal Langley is involved?” Phillip asked quietly.

“You did know about him,” Max murmured, almost to himself.

“A little,” Phillip admitted. “But I couldn’t understand why you would be involved with a fallen Hollywood producer. And when I started looking into it again last month, I had a hell of a time tracking down anything about him. Couldn’t find anything past July. He just…disappeared. ”

“He didn’t have much of a choice,” Max sighed. “But Langley…he’s our protector. And a shapeshifter.”

“Like Na – Nacee-“ Diane stumbled over the name.

“Nacedo,” Max supplied gently. “Sort of. He didn’t want to help me, but because I’m the…the king, it’s encoded in him. I made him take me to the space ship, but it was too damaged to be of any use.”

Diane pondered this for a moment. “Does that mean you were going to go back?” she asked, the hurt showing clearly through her confusion.

Max sighed, a pang of guilt stinging him. “I didn’t know what I was doing. My plan was to find him and bring him back with me. But I…I realized that I couldn’t risk that. I couldn’t risk never coming back, never seeing my family again…the people I love…” He cast a glance at Liz, caressing her fingers with his. “I could never trade my life here for a world that forces me to choose. That’s filled with so much hate…not when I’ve known so much love.” He lifted Liz’s hand to his mouth and kissed it gently.

Liz tingled, feeling through their connection what he didn’t say aloud. I chose you. Always you.

*****

Later that evening, Max stretched onto their couch with Liz pulled close to his chest. His eyes were closed, though he wasn’t asleep, and Liz knew the past two days had drained him emotionally. She reached a gentle hand up to caress his cheek.

Max sighed at the feel of her soft touch, threading his fingers through the dark strands of hair flowing over his chest. He opened his eyes when he heard he ask, “How are you doing?”

“Good,” he answered honestly. “It’s not easy to try and talk about everything that’s happened the last three years, but…in the end, I have the two things that have always been the most important to me.”

“And what’s that?” Liz asked with a coy smile.

“My parents’ acceptance of Isabel and me, and…and you,” Max answered softly. “I’m glad you’re home.”

“Me too.” Liz leaned up and kissed him, slowly teasing his lips apart with her tongue.

Max welcomed her into his mouth, their tongues dancing languidly as he ran his hands along the small of her back, pulling her closer.

Liz adjusted herself slightly, letting out a soft moan as she felt him stirring beneath her. She looked down into his serious face, scanning his features with a tender smile. “I’m not going anywhere, Max,” she promised. “I’m staying right here with you. Always.”

Reaching up to cradle her face in his hands, Max kissed her hungrily as if to prove he would never let her go. Not tonight, not ever. His lips left hot trails across her jaw and down her neck as Liz’s fingers set to work at the buttons of his shirt. Pushing the cotton aside, she sighed in content at the sight of his bare, muscular chest.

Max sucked in his breath as Liz’s fingers danced across his chest, touching him reverently, and wasted no time easing Liz’s shirt up her body. He needed to feel her skin on his. Waving one hand over her bra, the clasp came undone and he slid both over her arms and onto the floor.

Liz’s warm breath tickled down his neck as she whispered teasingly in his ear. “You cheated.”

“You don’t mind,” he responded promptly, pulling her body as close to his as possible and relishing in their intimate contact.

She sighed at the stimulation of her chest pressed to his. It was times like these, when their heartbeats could be felt one against the other, that made her dizzy with desire. Liz captured his lips in a heated kiss, and he ran his tongue along her upper lip before plunging into her mouth.

Max made love to her mouth in a way that left her breathless. “Touch me, Max,” she gasped, rocking her hips just slightly against his.

He moved his hands from the sides of her face, making a slow, lingering descent down her body. He reached between them to caress the sides of her breasts, his thumbs slipping around to circle her nipples.

Liz gasped and moved over him again, feeling the bulge of his erection press between her legs. “Max…” she moaned, struggling with the buckle of his belt. “A little help?”

“No cheating,” he reminded, groaning when Liz ground her hips against his again. “Well…maybe just this once,” he relented, placing his hand at their sides. The troublesome belt, along with both of their jeans zippers were undone in an instant.

She smiled against his lips. “Thank you,” she breathed as he helped slide her jeans and panties over her hips. Max rolled them carefully onto their sides so that he could discard of his own pants and boxers onto the floor beside the couch.

“Ohh…god, Liz,” he groaned as his erection sprang free and came into immediate contact with her aching center.

Liz gasped as he rubbed his shaft against her mound, her legs spreading to allow him access. “Max…please,” she moaned.
Max gazed deeply into her eyes, feeling her love and desire roll over him. He could deny her nothing. Groaning deep in his throat as her slick folds enveloped him, Max closed his eyes and focused on filling her completely. His love would not be left wanting.

“Max…yes…ohh…” Liz breathed as their hips began to move in a steady rhythm.

Running one hand down the side of her body, Max buried the other in the silky hair at the nape of her neck. “Baby…oh…you feel so good.” His thrusts increased, pushing both of their bodies to the height of desire.

“Yes…oh god…harder…Max, harder,” she moaned, her hips meeting his thrust for thrust.

Max clamped his hand onto Liz’s hip, pumping into her again and again as she began to cry out.

“Yes…yes…Max!” She tightened spasmodically around him, sparking his own release as he continued to slide in and out of her trembling body.

“Liz…Liz…” Max chanted her name over and over as their bodies rocked together and finally began to slow. “Oh…god,” he panted, rolling over onto his back and pulling Liz across his chest.

“You…you are amazing,” she murmured, burying her face in his sweat-dampened neck.

They lay together in peaceful silence for a long while, until Max pressed a soft kiss to her forehead and murmured, “Do you want to go to bed?”

Liz smiled up at Max and shook her head before snuggling back into his arms and closing her eyes. “It’s perfect right here.”



[ edited 2 time(s), last at 12-Apr-2002 12:57:07 AM ]
posted on 16-Apr-2002 1:36:38 AM by McGees
Thanks for all the feedback, guys, and for the bumping! I so appreciate it! Well, this is just some good ol fluff. I hope you don't mind. *wink* It's been a while for these two, and I thought we all could use a break from the angst.


26

Liz stretched, adjusting her sociology book on her lap. Final exams were upon them, and she and Max had holed up in the apartment studying for the weekend. Right now, though, her brain was fried.

Her eyes flitted across the room to the couch Max was occupying, his feet propped up on the coffee table and his philosophy book balanced in his lap. She sighed quietly as she saw how engrossed he was, and decided to return with a bit of disappointment to her own studies.

Max rubbed his eyes. The words were swimming across the page before him, and he didn’t know how much more he could read without them drifting closed. Glancing over at Liz, he saw her studying, oblivious to him. He sighed grudgingly and returned to his book.

Looking over just in time to see Max glance down, Liz smiled mischievously. “Hey Max?”

“Yeah?” His head shot up immediately at the sound of her voice.

Liz untucked her legs from beneath herself and closed her book. “Want to study for English?”

Max made a face. He knew they should, but more studying didn’t sound very appealing at the moment. “I guess,” he agreed with a sigh.

Liz stood and crossed the room, pausing before him. “You don’t sound very excited,” she pouted.

Reaching up to take her hands, Max grinned. “It’s just that English doesn’t excite me very much,” he explained. “You do.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Liz continued, stepping out of his reach before he could pull her into his lap. “English final, Max. Let’s focus.”

“Right. English final,” Max grumbled, reaching for his book with a heavy sigh as Liz seated herself on the couch beside him.

“Oh! I’ve got an idea!” Liz said suddenly, fighting back her grin. “Let’s play a game. You know, to get the motivation going a bit.”

Max’s eyebrows raised in interest. “A game?”

“Mm-hm.” She leaned toward him conspiratorially. “Wanna learn how to play?”

“Yeah,” he answered immediately.

She took the book from his hands. “I’ll ask you different questions, and for each one you get right, I will take off one article of clothing.” She paused, watching as Max’s eyes widened. “And then we can switch. Sound like a fun game?”

Max nodded wordlessly.

“I was hoping you’d like it.” She smiled brightly and got down to business. Scanning the page, she asked, “What does the cycle of modalities revolve around?”

“Explanation,” Max answered easily.

“That was a simple one.” Liz reached down and pulled off one sock.

Max narrowed his eyes. “Aw, come on, Liz,” he whined.

“Do you want to play or not?”

Max promptly shut his mouth.

“That’s what I thought. Okay, then name the six other modalities.”

“Encounter, background, valuation, resolution, search, and reasoning.”

“Right again!” Off went the other sock. “Now, what is rhetoric?”

“Um…the study of successful strategies for keeping people’s attention and persuading them in any communication situation.”

Liz grinned, shrugging out of her zip-up sweatshirt. “You’re good. Okay, what lies between the surprising encounter and the resolution in a piece of writing?”

Max struggled to focus. He knew the T-shirt would be the next to go, and he was pretty sure she wasn’t wearing a bra. “The explanation core.”

“Correct.” Liz crossed her arms and pulled her T-shirt over her head to reveal…damn. A bra. Just a few more questions, Max encouraged himself.

“What is a quality that should permeate your writing and appear periodically as you show links between the other modalities?”

“Explanations.”

“No.”

“No?”

“Try it again,” Liz said with a smirk.

“Okay…um…significance.”

Liz nodded and studied the book, flipping a few pages. “How about… what are the three central modalities?”

“Encounter, explanation, and resolution…” Max trailed off as he watched Liz reach behind and unsnap her bra. “Guess I got it right.”

“Uh-huh,” Liz winked, sliding the straps off her shoulders and tossing the bra to the floor. “It’s a little chilly in here,” she noted casually. “Let’s see…”

Max watched her, mesmerized by her hardening nipples. He wondered if it would be against the rules to reach over and –

“Max?”

“Huh?” Max tore his eyes away from Liz’s chest to see her staring at him pointedly.

“I said, give one of the goals of reasoning.”

“Oh. Oh right. To follow out the series of consequences that will follow if the idea is put into action.” Max swallowed hard. Sounded good to him.

Liz nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah, that works,” she decided, reaching for the waistband of her windpants. “But you might want to go with something that’s in our notes.” She lifted her hips and began to pull the pants down. “You know, it case Professor Rose wants something specific. You know how he can get.”

Despite the untimely mention of their professor, the sight of Liz in next to nothing was making Max sweat.

“Right,” he managed. “Um…okay. Next question?”

Liz arched an eyebrow. “My, we’re eager all of a sudden,” she noted, tucking one bare leg under the other. “All right, according to the modalities, what are the two qualities of good writing?”

“Umm…” Dammit. He knew this one. He knew he knew this one. But seeing Liz just sitting there, her face betraying her obvious amusement at the rapidly growing bulge in his jeans was driving him crazy. “Um, surprise and significance?”

“Are you asking me or telling me?” Liz questioned, eyeing his erection.

“Telling you,” he stammered.

“Well good. You’re right.” Liz grinned at him and proceeded to hook her thumbs in her panties and drag them down her legs, kicking them to the floor with her other clothes.

Max gaped at Liz, sitting so casually on the couch in all her nude glory, and hoped this meant it was his turn to quiz her. These jeans were becoming painfully confining.

“Here.” Liz handed him the book. “You’ll need this.”

“Thanks,” he managed, his eyes struggling to focus on the words on the page and not the soft curve of her hips, or the way one bare leg stretched out to rest her foot on the coffee table. “Um, okay…‘irony’ is an example of what modality?”

“Valuation, “ Liz answered assuredly.

“Yep.” Max stripped his shirt off, trying to ignore the way Liz ran her tongue over her lips. “Okay, next one. Uh, computer logic describes what kind of modality?”

“That would be reasoning.” She watched with interest as Max worked at the zipper on his jeans and fought back a grin. “I actually hope you’re not going commando.” Seeing the look of surprise from Max, she grinned. “I need to make sure I get some studying done.”

“I get it.” Max nodded knowingly, pulling the pants from his waist and revealing a pair of green boxers. “Well, then I hope you’re up for another question.”

“Looks like I’m not the only one who’s up for it,” Liz noted, chewing on her lower lip as she eyed Max’s lap.

Max growled deep in his throat. “Looks like it.” He paused, attempting to focus on something other than Liz’s amazing body and the effect it was having on his. “Okay, here’s a hard one.“ He groaned softly as Liz’s eyes lit up at his choice of words. “What modalities describe pictures and captions?”

“Hmm…” Liz ran her finger in circles over her thigh thoughtfully. “Encounter describes pictures, and significance describes captions. “

“You’re going to get an A,” he assured, struggling to free himself from his boxers, and then waiting to see what Liz’s next move would be.

“How about a bonus round?” Liz asked, her voice husky at the sight of him, standing proud against his muscular stomach.

“Okay,” he breathed.

Liz moved to her knees, kneeling on the couch beside Max. “Give four synonyms for a metaphor.”

“Similie,” he began, pausing when Liz swung one leg around his hips and planted herself on his lap. “Uh…symbolism.” He shifted uncomfortably as Liz began to trail her lips down from his ear.

She halted her ministrations. “Keep going,” she encouraged.

“Personification…and synecdoche,” he finished, his hands roaming eagerly over her thighs. “Your turn.”

Liz nodded, tearing her lips from his chest. “Lay it on me,” she breathed.

Max groaned, rubbing his aching erection against her. “Why should a writer…shift…modalities…”

“To engage the reader’s…mind…and emotions,” she said, her voice coming out as a breathy moan.

With that, Max lifted Liz up onto him. “You win,” he grunted as she sank down onto him with a gasp.

“Good game,” she breathed as Max grasped her hips and began to pump into her.

When it was over, Max flopped over sideways with Liz pulled across his chest, grinning at one another as they tried to catch their breaths. He kissed her deeply and then smiled against her lips. “Bring on the finals.”

*****

Max and Liz met one another’s eyes across the classroom. Max grinned and got to his feet, quickly turning in his exam and exiting the room. Liz followed suit, biting her bottom lip as she opened the door and slipped into the hallway.

“We did it,” Max grinned, grabbing her by the waist and swinging her around. “First semester of college finals are over.”

Liz smiled and kissed him sweetly. “What’d you think of this last one?” she asked as he set her to her feet.

“I almost bust out laughing on the one about metaphors,” Max admitted as they headed down the hallway hand in hand.

“I know, me too,” Liz groaned, her cheeks turning pink. “But I know I got that one right.”

Max turned to her with a wicked grin. “I’ll bet I get my best grade on that English final,” he predicted. “Somehow I don’t think I forgot anything we studied.”

“Ooh, I’ll have to pick up on your study habits,” came Maria’s voice behind them. “I think my stats final just raped me.”

Liz exchanged a smirk with Max and then turned around to see Maria and Kyle making their way toward them. “You guys all finished?”

“Free at last,” Kyle crowed. “Well, until Isabel gets her hands on me again.”

Max arched an eyebrow at Kyle. “What’s she doing now?”

“Where have you been?” Kyle asked in exasperation. “She’s been on one of those Christmas Nazi rampages for almost a week. I worked my hands raw the last few days stringing up those damn Christmas lights at the festival.”

“And if I’m not mistaken,” Maria spoke up, “I think this is about ten times worse than it’s been the past two years. She practically attacked Michael the week after Thanksgiving to enlist him as Santa again. She said she was only going to put up with crap from someone she can duel with, alien style.”

“She has seemed a little…um, overzealous this year,” Liz noted, searching for the proper words.

Max grinned. “Trust me, guys, this is just how she gets this time of year,” he assured. “When you’ve been dealing with it for as long as I have, you kind of grow immune to it.”

Kyle shook his head. “Whatever, man. I don’t know what kind of intergalactic bug she’s got up her ass, but I sure hope it dies before Christmas Day. I don’t know if I can handle another week and a half of this.”

*****

“Max!”

Whipping around from the line of Christmas trees, Max found himself face to face with a very flustered Isabel. “What’s the matter?”

“Those lights are what’s the matter!” she exclaimed, waving a clipboard in the air. “Apparently our good friend Kyle was unable to spot almost two dozen errant bulbs in the string over there.” She gestured to a patch of trees at the edge of the park. “It looks like crap, Max, and I need you to fix it.”

“Um, Iz, Liz and I are kind of in the middle of picking out a tree,” he reminded. “Besides, it’s two o’clock in the afternoon. The lights aren’t an emergency right now.”

Isabel let out a frustrated sigh, blowing her short hair out of her eyes. “Dammit, Max. I am trying to do thirty-two different things right at this moment. Do you think you can take two seconds out of your busy schedule to wave your hand over a couple trees? Do you?”

“He’ll take care of it,” Liz spoke up, resting a gloved hand on Isabel’s arm. “Don’t worry about it, okay? Is there anything else I can do?”

“You mean it?” Isabel asked, but it was clear the wheels were already turning. “Well…actually, if you would be willing to reprise your role as Candy Cane for a few hours this afternoon? The girl I hired bailed on me at the last minute to go Christmas shopping, and-“

“No problem, I’m on it.” Liz smiled reassuringly.

Max nudged her. “I thought we were supposed to be setting up our tree this afternoon,” he reminded pitifully.

“We’ll do it tonight, Max,” she promised. “Come on, it’s all about the Christmas spirit. You fix the lights and take the tree home, and I’ll get a ride home with Isabel tonight, okay?”

“Okay,” he agreed grudgingly.

“Can you maybe…make some hot chocolate for when I get home?” she asked coyly. “With marshmallows?”

“With marshmallows,” he promised, kissing the tip of her nose. “And can you maybe wear that costume home? I think it’s kinda sexy…”

“Spare me the details of your sex games,” Isabel muttered. “Come on, Liz, we need you now.”

Liz rolled her eyes and exchanged a bemused glance with Max as Isabel led her away. “Marshmallows,” she mouthed over her shoulder.

******

“Wait, wait, don’t drop me!” Liz cried.

“I’ve got you,” Max assured, tightening his grip as he hoisted her up.

“And…got it!” she grinned, planting the star at the very top of the tree.

“It looks beautiful,” Liz announced, surveying their handiwork as she tugged her green Candy Cane turtleneck down and took another sip of her hot chocolate with extra marshmallows. “Not many ornaments yet, but…”

Max nodded, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her close as they gazed up at their first Christmas tree together.

Liz looked up at him and grinned. “But I love the popcorn strings you made,” she said, kissing his jaw. “Did you really sit there and string it all yourself or did you use some of that alien mojo?” She tried to imagine Max sitting with a needle and a bowlful of popcorn, but the thought made her giggle.

“Well…I might have cheated a little,” Max admitted. “But maybe this will make up for it.” He gestured to the floor beneath the tree.

“Where’d this come from?” Liz asked, settling onto the floor and picking up the small box.

Max sat down beside her and shrugged mysteriously. “I guess you’ll have to open it.”

“Is this an early Christmas present?” she continued, glancing up at Max with a smile. He shrugged again, gesturing to her to open it.

Liz tore the wrapping paper off the square package and opened the box. “Oh Max,” she sighed, lifting out a delicate glass ornament. “Our First Christmas, 2002," she read.

“Do you like it?” Max asked carefully. He was hoping she would, because even though it wasn’t their first Christmas as a married couple, and he thought it might still be a sensitive subject, it was their first Christmas in their apartment together. They’d been through more together in just a few months than many married couple go through in years, but they were coming out stronger. And he wanted something to show for that.

“I love it,” she murmured, turning his face toward her with one hand and kissing him tenderly. “It’s beautiful, where should we put it?”

“You decide.” Max smiled, stretching out onto his back beneath the tree. “Let me know if you can’t reach.”

Liz shoved him playfully as she rose up onto her knees and hung the ornament on a center branch. “Perfect.” She crawled back to Max and curled up beside him, gazing up into the branches. “It looks neat from down here.”

“I know.” Max looked thoughtfully through the maze of green. “I used to do this at Christmas when I was little.”

“Really?” Liz asked with interest as they continued to stare up into the tree. She liked hearing the stories Max would tell about when he was little, as few and far between as they were.

Max nodded his head slightly. “I was really scared, that first Christmas Isabel and I had with our mom and dad,” he remembered. “I didn’t want to go near Santa Claus, candy canes tasted weird to me, and I didn’t like the music,” he admitted. “But at night, I would go downstairs to the tree and plug in the lights.” He smiled at the memory. “And every morning, my parents would come downstairs and find me asleep under the tree.”

Liz smiled, turning to look at Max. “You liked the lights,” she connected. “They were…comforting to you?”

“I guess that’s what it was,” Max agreed. “And…I guess it just became a habit, until I really felt at home.” He paused, turning to Liz with a smile. “Like I do now.”

Reaching for his hand, Liz kissed him gently. “Merry Christmas, Max.”


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Apr-2002 1:54:15 AM ]
posted on 23-Apr-2002 12:29:37 AM by McGees
I can't thank you guys enough for all your feedback and bump-age. I was so excited to come back after almost a week and see that it was getting bumps even today! *big* Ya'll make me want to keep churning out this story even faster, thank you so much. I love to read your thoughts and your ideas about the direction of the story...some of you have brought up some good questions, and I promise you won't be left hanging. Everything will be answered eventually.

And without further ado...

27

“What do you suppose she’s got planned for tonight?” Max asked dryly, putting the Chevelle into park as he turned to Liz.

“Good question.” These days, who knew what Isabel had up her sleeve. The inevitable Christmas Nazi had quickly shifted gears to New Years Nazi, and even now, more than a month later, she still hadn’t quite gotten off her organizational power trip. Phillip’s birthday several weeks ago, Maria’s nineteenth just days before, all had been planned, plotted, and put into action by a super-organized Isabel. But since her overwhelming adaption of the Christmas Nazi, no one had the heart – or the guts – to get in her way.

“It’s not anyone’s birthday,” Liz mused as they climbed out of the car. “Maybe it’s some kind of Valentine dinner.”

“Hmm, maybe.”

“But I hope not,” she continued. “It’s definitely not my plan to do any Valentine festivities in the presence of your parents. Or anyone beside you, for that matter.”

Max grinned, reaching for her hand as they made their way through the February twilight. “Is that so? And what exactly are your plans?”

“You’ll just have to wait a few days and see,” Liz smiled mischievously.

“I’ll try to be patient,” Max sighed dramatically as he ushered her into the building.

“Max, Liz,” Jesse greeted as they stepped into the Ramirez apartment. “Your mom and dad are in the living room,” he went on as he took their coats and hung them on the rack. “And Iz…she’s, ah, finishing some stuff in the kitchen.”

Max had to give his brother-in-law credit. He loved his sister dearly, but sometimes he honestly didn’t know how Jesse did it. It took a strong, very secure and patient man to deal with the Isabel Evans-Ramirez Nazi tendencies, especially as of late. The two men exchanged an understanding look as they made their way into the living room.

“Hey guys,” Phillip greeted warmly, shaking Max’s hand and clapping his other hand onto Max’s shoulder as Diane got to her feet and gave Liz a hug.

Liz had to smile as she watched Max’s interaction with his father, marveling at how it had evolved over the last few months. Telling their parents the truth had done wonders for Max and Isabel’s relationship with them. Years of fear seemed almost overshadowed by the level of comfort they finally felt, and Phillip and Diane were so relieved to finally understand their childrens’ past that they were incredibly supportive of the entire group.

“How are classes going, sweetie?” Diane asked, squeezing Liz’s hands.

“Great,” Liz grinned. “The Honors Biology class I was telling you about has been going really well. We just finished up a lab about the reaction of molecules with-“

Max looked on as Liz launched into a detailed explanation of her latest lab activity with his mother. Though things were going much better with her own parents, there was a level of comfort they all now shared with the Evans’, just as they did with Jim Valenti. Liz had decided that it wasn’t something she wanted to bring up with her parents at this point, and Max supported her. The Evans understood, and while they weren’t exactly thrilled with it, agreed to help them downplay the issues of the past few months. Max knew they wouldn’t be able to escape it forever, but for the time being, it was working.

“Dinner’s ready,” Isabel announced, coming in from the direction of the dining room.

“Smells great, Iz,” Max complimented, as the aroma of her infamous Tabasco-laced lasagna filled his nostrils.

“Thanks for having us over,” Liz added as they headed for the dining room.

Jesse exchanged an encouraging smile with his wife as they seated themselves around the table. Once heaping servings of pasta had been served to all, Jesse cleared his throat and again glanced at Isabel.

Max watched this exchange with some curiosity. “Is everything all right?”

Isabel nodded. “I’m pregnant, that’s all,” she said quickly, taking a long sip of water.

After a few moments of surprised silence, Diane finally spoke up. “Oh honey, congratulations!” she said warmly.

A smile spread over Isabel’s face. “Thanks, Mom.” She trailed off, glancing at Max, Liz, and Phillip’s unreadable expressions. “Jesse and I are thrilled,” she added pointedly, reaching for her husband’s hand.

“Izzy, Jesse…I’m really happy for you,” Phillip began gently. “But…honey, are you sure it’s safe?”

“That’s why we waited to say anything,” Jesse explained, squeezing Isabel’s hand. “We wanted to get into the second trimester when the risks go down so people wouldn’t worry so much.”

“In a normal pregnancy,” Diane pointed out. “Has it been safe to go to a doctor?” she asked, fearing for her daughter and unborn grandchild.

Isabel glanced at Liz. “I’ve been to the same doctor you went to, Liz,” she said. “There’s been nothing unusual about the pregnancy at all. It’s…it’s been exactly like a human one.”

“How long have you known?” Max asked quietly.

“I got pregnant at the beginning of October. Right before…” She trailed off. “Anyway, we didn’t even know until a few weeks later, but with everything going on…it just wasn’t the right time.” Isabel paused again. “I’m sorry we kept you in the dark about it-“

“I understand, Isabel,” Liz spoke up finally. “And…it’s okay. I’m happy for you and Jesse.”

Isabel smiled, relieved. “Thank you, Liz. That – that means a lot to us.” She glanced at her brother, whose face was still fairly blank. “Max?”

“Iz, of course I’m happy for you,” Max said, reaching across the table and squeezing his sister’s hand. “Congratulations,” he added, looking at Jesse.

“Thanks,” Jesse grinned, already looking like a proud father as he draped his arm over Isabel’s shoulders.

“So the baby’s due this summer?” Diane continued, beginning to feel slightly more comfortable with the situation. Things were progressing normally – this was a very good sign.

“In July,” Isabel confirmed. “I’ll be able to finish out the semester, and then I’ll take the fall semester off.”

“And I’ll figure out a way to get more time off when you go back, so someone will be able to watch the baby while you’re at class,” Diane added excitedly.

Once dinner wrapped up, Liz excused herself. Max gazed after her, and then followed her out to the back deck. “How are you doing?” he asked as he stopped beside her.

Liz glanced up at him. “Okay,” she answered. “It’s just…I don’t know, I’m kind of worried for them.”

Max slid his arm around her, pulling Liz close. “Yeah?”

She nodded. “I don’t want them to go through what we went through.”

“I know.” Max kissed the top of her head. “There’s still so much we don’t understand. But it…it doesn’t bother you to talk about it?”

Liz thought about this for a moment. “No,” she said finally. “I feel…much stronger than I did a few months ago. I think about Gabriel every day, Max. I know you do too.” She paused as Max nodded fiercely. “But I can’t…I can’t be bitter about it. Not forever. And this, it just shows me that I’ve come a long way in a few months.” She glanced up at Max, gently touching his cheek. "We've come a long way.”

Max nodded again. He was in constant awe of Liz – her strength, her empathy, her compassion. “I love you,” he murmured, pulling her into his arms.

*****

“Isabel is pregnant?”

Liz closed her work locker and faced her best friend. “Yeah, Maria.”

“Why doesn’t anyone tell me these things?” Maria demanded.

“I just found out last night,” Liz assured, trying her apron around her waist. “Did Michael tell you?”

“Yeah, when he came in for his shift,” Maria answered, leaning against the bank of lockers. “So…are they happy about it? I mean, was it planned?”

Liz shrugged. “I don’t know...I mean, I didn't ask them to go into that great of detail. They seem really happy, though.”

“I’m just saying…I mean, you were on the pill but you still got pregnant. And…I think Iz was on the pill, too. So…I guess I’m just curious…does it not work with aliens or something?”

Turning to her anxious best friend, Liz sighed. “I don’t know, Maria. I don’t think any of us know the answer to any of these questions. Just...be careful, I guess."

Maria nodded, her friend’s words sounding ominous. Sure, she wanted kids…but not for a very, very long time. And not until she and Michael were very, very married and very, very ready. “So she’s already four months along? She’s not even showing yet.”

“I know, she’s hidden it pretty well,” Liz agreed. “But you can kind of tell if you know. And she said everything’s been completely normal.” She paused, leaning a bit closer to Maria. “Everything,” she emphasized. “They didn’t feel anything strange when the baby was conceived, and she hasn’t had any glowing…nothing.”

“So you’ve talked to her about it?” Maria asked as they headed for the door. “You were okay with that?”

“She asked me the same thing,” Liz said with a wry smile. “Yeah, I mean, this is really exciting for them. I just…I want everything to be okay, you know?”

“Yeah, chica, I know.” Maria gave a small smile of understanding and pulled her best friend into a hug.

*****

“Liz? Sorry I’m late, babe, Brody needed me to finish some filing.”

Grinning to herself, Liz lit the last candle on their kitchen table and hurried to the door to greet Max.

“Hey,” he grinned, presenting her with a bouquet of white roses. His eyes widened as he took in the sight of Liz, beautiful in a cranberry colored dress. “Wow…Liz…”

“Thank you, they’re beautiful,” she smiled, accepting the roses before standing on her tiptoes and giving him a sweet kiss.

“Wow,” he repeated, his hands resting on her hips. “Is that the dress from Las Vegas?”

Liz nodded, biting her bottom lip coyly as she tucked a strand of her upswept hair behind her ear. “You seemed to like it the first time, so…”

“I loved it,” he replied quickly. “I still do…except now I feel a little underdressed for the occasion.” He glanced down at his typical work uniform.

Sizing him up, Liz slid the vest over his shoulders and tossed it onto the couch, leaving him in black slacks and a short sleeved white shirt. “And…” She reached up and undid another button on it. “…perfect.”

Max smiled again and sniffed the air. “Something smells great.” As if on cue, his stomach let out a low rumble.

“We can take care of that.” Liz took his hand and led him into the kitchen, where dinner was waiting on the table amongst an array of glowing candles. “Happy Valentine’s Day, baby,” she whispered in his ear.

“Liz…wow…this looks amazing,” Max said, his eyes widening again at the feast she had prepared.

“Chicken alfredo, your favorite,” she replied, sitting him in his chair before pulling a vase from the cabinet for her roses and coming around the table to her own chair. “I skipped class this afternoon to make it,” she said with a wink.

Max took a bite and closed his eyes. “Mmm…delicious.”

They finished dinner with the faint sounds of Phil Collins floating from the stereo, sharing tender looks and gentle laughter. “I have something for you,” Max said suddenly, pushing back from the table and disappearing down the hall.

Liz smiled to herself, fingering one of the silky rose petals. She still had a few things for Max, too…

He reappeared in the kitchen with a flat rectangular package and pulled his chair closer to Liz. “Ooh, what’s this?” she asked, accepting the package from him.

“I hope you like it,” he said, suddenly anxious about the gift. Maria promised she’d love it, and Maria was generally right about this kind of thing…he just hoped it wouldn’t upset her.

“Of course I will,” Liz assured, pulling off the wrapping and revealing the back of a frame. “Hmm…” She turned the frame over in her hands and felt her breath catch.

Max watched as her eyes ran over the watercolor painting. Her fingers reached out to touch the image of the dark-haired little angel, blowing a puffy cloud from his cupped hands.

“Oh Max,” she breathed. “Gabriel.”

He nodded, reaching for her hand and gently kissing her fingertips. Did she like it?

“I love it,” Liz murmured, blinking back tears. “It’s perfect, Max. Thank you.”

Max nodded again, squeezing her hand as he gazed at the painting. “I found it and I just thought of him,” he explained quietly. “I was thinking…maybe we can hang it in our room.”

“I would like that,” Liz whispered, leaning forward and kissing him tenderly. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” he returned against her lips. “Happy Valentine’s Day, love.”

Liz gave him a teary smile. “We’re not done yet, mister.” She got to her feet and retrieved a different box, much smaller, and presented it to Max.

“You spoil me,” he mused, pulling the top off and peering inside. He looked up at Liz and then inside the box again. “Address labels…”

Liz fought back her smile, knowing he hadn’t read them close enough. “You don’t like them?” she asked innocently.

Max studied them, trying to think of something to say. “Of course I do, babe, I…” He trailed off, and Liz instantly saw the change in his face. “’Max and Liz Evans’,” he read aloud.

“I’ve always thought that had a nice ring to it,” Liz noted casually, the grin spreading across her face as Max looked at her questioningly.

“Liz, what are you-“

“Heck, Max, I’ve already got the ring,” Liz teased, holding out her left hand. “I think it’s time we make it official, don’t you?” Just so there was no uncertainty, she leaned a little closer to him and whispered, “I want to be your wife.”

Max clasped her hands in his and gazed at her seriously. “Are you sure?”

“Completely,” she said, her dark eyes shining. “I don’t want to wait anymore, Max. I know this is right.”

“Me too,” he murmured, pressing a soft kiss into her palm. “And...I want you to have your June wedding.”

Liz nodded eagerly. “I would like that.” The smile on her face grew as the last song on the album began to play and Max got to his feet.

“Dance with me?” He held out his hand and she accepted, sighing as he folded her into his arms.

When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue
When you’re close to me, I can feel your heartbeat
I can hear you breathing near my ear
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love


They swayed back and forth in the tiny, candle-lit kitchen, lost in each other’s eyes as the music surrounded them.

Anytime you want to, you can turn me onto
Anything you want to, anytime at all
When I kiss your lips, ooh I start to shiver
Can’t control the quivering inside
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love


Max smiled down at his beautiful Liz, turning her in a circle before bringing her back into his embrace.

When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue
When I’m in your arms, nothing seems to matter
My whole world could shatter, I don’t care
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love


They both leaned closer, sharing a long, tender kiss as the song came to an end. Even after the stereo shut itself off, they continued to sway back and forth to the soothing rhythm of their heartbeats.

*****

lyrics by Phil Collins, Groovy Kind of Love

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 23-Apr-2002 12:42:05 AM ]
posted on 27-Apr-2002 1:21:02 AM by McGees
Thanks for the bumps and feedback, everyone! This part came together a lot faster than I expected, probably because I'm very excited about a wedding for this couple! Unfortunately I've got finals looming ahead next week, but on the flip side that means it's almost summer. Lots of time for writing, yay! So let's just leave it at this: in the very near future, you are all invited to the wedding of Max Evans and Liz Parker. And, ahem, maybe even some honeymoon. Oh stop it, you voyeurs. You know you like it. Heck, who doesn't like a little M/L lovin?
So without further ado, here is the next installment:


28

“It’s a boy!”

Max smiled through his tears, watching as his son was lifted for them to see. The newborn was quiet and content, gazing at the new world around him, shrouded in a peaceful glow.

“We have to take him now.”

“What? No, he’s our son!” Max’s protests went unheard, and he watched helplessly as the baby was taken away. Why were his legs refusing to move? “Wait!” He turned to Liz, only to realize that she wasn’t there.

His heart pounding, Max spun around, suddenly finding himself in a dim, damp room. The pod chamber? No…but it was somehow similar. Where was he?

Max shot up in bed, gasping for breath.

Liz was awake beside him instantly. “Max? Max, what is it?” she asked, smoothing his sweaty hair from his forehead.

Trying to slow his speeding heart, Max gulped in several deep breaths and closed his hands over hers as they cupped his face. “A…a nightmare,” panted.

“Oh Max…” She sighed, pulling him into her arms and stroking his back. “I’m sorry, baby.”

Shuddering, he rested his head against Liz’s chest and focused on her heartbeat. “It’s April twelfth.”

“I know,” Liz whispered, her eyes filling with tears. April twelfth. Gabriel’s due date.

Max straightened, framing her face in his hands. “I didn’t mean to make you cry,” he murmured sorrowfully.

Liz shook her head, forcing a small smile as his thumb brushed a tear away. “I was thinking about him anyway,” she said quietly, her eyes shifting to the framed picture that hung on the wall across from their bed. She gazed at the image in the painting and pressed closer to Max’s warmth. “It’s so strange to think he should be with us today.”

He nodded and slowly lay back down, their arms still tightly wrapped around one another. Max kissed the top of Liz’s head as she settled it beneath his chin and whispered, “I love you.”

*****

Liz smoothed the creamy silk over her waist, turning to inspect her reflection in the mirror.

“Oh Lizzie…you look gorgeous,” Maria breathed.

“You’re gonna knock Max’s socks off,” Amy gushed as Liz turned again and peered over her shoulder.

Grinning at her reflection, Liz studied the details of the bodice. “It’s beautiful, Ms. DeLuca,” she sighed. “I can’t thank you enough.”

“Don’t thank me yet,” she said, sticking a pin between her lips. “There’s still a lot to finish.” She crouched down and continued hemming the bottom of the gown.

Maria rolled her eyes good-naturedly. “Gee, do you think two months will be long enough?”

Amy swatted her daughter’s leg. “Go get my pincushion.”

A short rap on the screen door drew their attention to Isabel and Michael on the front porch. Amy jumped to her feet and stood before Liz, blocking their view. “Is Max with you?” she demanded. “He is not to see the bride in her dress until the wedding.”

“Max is at work,” Liz assured quickly, stepping down from the footstool. “Well, Iz, does this meet with your approval?” she teased, modeling the gown for their self-declared wedding planner.

Isabel rested her hands on her expanding belly thoughtfully. “As a matter of fact, it does,” she said with a smile. “My brother is going to pass out when he sees you, Liz.”

“I don’t think an unconscious groom is what we’re going for,” Amy said wryly, returning to the hem as Liz stepped back onto the stool.

“What have you got there?” Maria asked, sidling over to Michael and lifting a binder from the stack he carried.

Michael shrugged. “You got me. I was enlisted by the Wedding Nazi to drag this stuff from the Crashdown.”

Isabel rolled her eyes. “You wanted a ride, Michael,” she reminded. “The least you can do is help me carry the reception information. Besides, Jesse doesn’t want me lifting things.”

Michael had to stifle a guffaw at that one. Isabel refused to be fussed over at all unless it got her out of any kind of manual labor. It probably didn’t help that Jesse had become an increasingly overprotective expectant father, but Isabel seemed determined to keep him on his toes.

“Iz, I really appreciate it,” Liz was saying. “My mom mentioned last night that she’d gotten the official catering information so that we’d be sure to get enough supplies.”

“It’s all in there,” Isabel nodded toward the binders now sitting on the coffee table. “Oh, and flowers! The florist said everything will be ready for delivery the afternoon before the wedding.”

Liz fingered the pearls that lined the gown’s bodice. “Isabel, you have been such a big help with all of this. Just promise you won’t push yourself too hard, okay?”

“You sound like Jesse.” Isabel rolled her eyes good-naturedly. “Trust me, I’m fine. I want to be doing this, and besides, it keeps me busy.”

“Everyone else, too,” Michael muttered under his breath. “Heil Isabel.”

“Shut up, Michael.”

*****

“So Liz, I was thinking. I mean, I know you and Max have already picked out wedding bands, but I read about this really cool thing in Modern Bride.”

Liz balanced a stack of dirty plates on her forearm as she cleared off one of the back booths of the Crashdown. “What’s that, Maria?” she asked, blowing a strand of hair out of her face.

Following her with a pot of coffee, Maria grinned. “Tattoo bands!”

Liz stopped short, nearly causing Maria to crash into her. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“What?” Maria demanded. “Isn’t that a cool idea? It’s, like, this completely permanent way to show your devotion to one another.”

“Because the wedding vows aren’t enough?” Liz countered amusedly, making her way back to the kitchen with the armload of dishes.

“Liz, you know I’m just as much about the diamonds as you are, okay?” Maria continued, ignoring Liz’s arched eyebrow. “But don’t you think there’s a romantic love-is-pain kind of thing about getting tattoos? Matching wedding band tattoos? No?” she trailed off as Liz continued to shake her head.

“Maria, Max and I have been through enough without requiring needles to seal our marriage,” Liz said dryly as she wiped her hands on her apron and pushed back into the café.

“It’s all about the tattoo, Liz,” Maria insisted, heading behind the counter to replace the pot of coffee.

“Who’s getting a tattoo?” Jeff demanded, looking up from the stubborn shake machine.

Liz made face at Maria and laughed. “No one, Dad,” she assured. “Maria was just offering a suggestion.”

“Which, I might add, is my job as maid-of-honor,” Maria insisted.

Jeff smiled, relieved that his daughter wasn’t making plans to permanently impale her skin. It had been hard enough when his little girl got her ears pierced when she turned ten. “Wedding talk, huh?” he asked.

“Of course,” Liz said with a grin, kissing her father’s cheek. “You know Maria and her Modern Bride magazines.”

Jeff glanced at Maria and chuckled. “I have to admit, I’m glad I won’t be the one financing your wedding.”

Maria stuck out her tongue. “Thanks, Mr. P. I’ll keep that in mind when I send out the invitations.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Michael protested, clanging on the bell that rested on the kitchen counter as he leaned through the window. “What invitations, Blondie?” All she’d done since Max and Liz’s wedding became finalized was hint at how romantic and exciting weddings were, and he knew he wouldn’t hear the end of it until he popped the question himself. She always insisted it was in his head, that they were too young to get married, but he knew for a fact that she did think about it.

Liz, Jeff, and Maria turned to Michael and burst out laughing at his panicked expression. Sauntering over to the window, Maria leaned over the counter with a smirk. “Don’t worry, Spaceboy, play nice and maybe you’ll get an invitation too.”

The door to the Crashdown opened then, and Isabel rushed inside. She hurried to the counter where the group stood and eased onto a stool. “So,” she began. “Who wants to be the godparent of my child?”

“Excuse me?” Maria asked, trying not to laugh at Isabel’s entrance.

Isabel sighed. “I completely forgot that tonight is my first Lamaze class,” she explained. “And with Jesse being out of town, I don’t have anyone to come along and be my partner. My dad’s at the same convention and I can’t get ahold of my mom, so I was hoping that maybe one of you wonderful people would be willing to accompany me?” she asked hopefully.

“I think that’s my cue to return to the kitchen,” Jeff said, blushing. “Good luck, Isabel.”

“I have to close tonight, Iz,” Maria said. “I’m really sorry, otherwise I’d come with you. Those breathing techniques are actually really helpful for stress relief, not just labor.”

Liz hesitated. “Um…I really don’t know if…I can,” she said quietly. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to help Isabel, but the pain of losing Gabriel was still quite fresh. The thought of spending two hours in a room filled with pregnant couples preparing for the birth of their babies made her stomach clench.

“I understand,” Isabel said gently. She turned her attention to Michael, whose eyes widened again. “Look, Michael, you’re not exactly my first choice either-“

“Oh, you have got to be kidding me,” he groaned.

“Micheal, please?” she continued. “There’s no one else for me to ask. Just…look at it as a learning experience,” she tried.

“The miracle of birth isn’t an experience I want to learn about right now, Izzy,” he argued through clenched teeth.

“Well then, Michael, I suggest you find someone to replace you, because right now you’re the only birthing coach I’ve got,” she said primly.

Just then, Kyle slid onto the stool beside Isabel. “Hey guys, what’s up?” he asked. “Liz, can I get a Will Smith burger with the works?” He paused, suddenly uncomfortable as the group eyed him. “What?”

“Kyle, what are you doing tonight?” Isabel asked sweetly.

Shrugging, Kyle said, “I don’t know, there’s a Diamondbacks game on tonight that I was thinking about watching, but-“

“Looks like you’ve found yourself a birthing coach,” Michael announced, placing an order onto the counter and turning back to the grill.

Kyle looked around blankly. “Wait, what? Me? What’s going on?”

Isabel smiled and patted his hand. “Kyle Valenti, how much do you love me?”

*****

“Chicken or fish, baby?”

Max looked up at Liz and wrinkled his nose. “Chicken. Definitely chicken.”

“Chicken it is,” Liz stated, checking the order form. “I hope we don’t order too much, or we’ll be eating grilled chicken until our first anniversary.”

“But that’s why your dad’s having you file it, right?” Max asked, circling his thumb over the sole of her foot resting in his lap. “So we can keep track of what’s ordered.”

“Mm-hm.” Liz sighed, leaning back against the headboard. “That feels so good. I spent six hours on my feet at the Crashdown.”

Max smiled, focusing all his energy on his hands as they massaged her foot. The pads of his fingers began to vibrate, and Liz groaned in contentment. Grinning again, he tweaked her little toe. “How’s your back, babe?”

“A little tense,” she said, her eyes opening with a smirk.

Max gestured for her to roll over. “We can fix that.”

One mile to every inch of
Your skin like porcelain


Liz turned around and pulled her tank top over her head, revealing her bare back as she lay down on her stomach.

One pair of candy lips and
Your bubblegum tongue


Max knelt between her legs and began his firm yet gentle massage of Liz’s back, his strong fingers searching out even the slightest of knots and melting them from her muscles. Liz voiced her approval with satisfied groans and plenty of “Mmm, harder, baby,” and “Oh yeah, right there.”

And if you want love
We’ll make it
Swimming a deep sea of blankets


When he was satisfied with his work on her back, Max’s hands slid over her shoulders to her upper arms. Liz peered at him over her shoulder, and he leaned a little closer. “How about a full body massage?” he murmured.

Take all your big plans
And break em
This is bound to be a while


Smiling in response, Liz settled back against their bed and allowed his amazing hands to work their magic. He massaged along her shoulders and lower, rubbing her slender arms between his large hands before sliding around to her back again.

Your body is a wonderland
Your body is a wonder
I’ll use my hands


Liz shivered as Max’s hands worked along her sides and across her lower back, and then felt him turn so he was facing her feet. He started at her ankles, rubbing over her calves and across the backs of her knees. He reached the tops of her legs with gentle caresses, and Liz sucked in her breath when his hands strayed to her inner thighs, just under her thin cotton shorts. “Mmm…Max,” she moaned.

Your body is a wonderland

Max shifted slightly, turning around again. “Roll over, baby,” he instructed, moving aside so she could turn onto her back.

Something ‘bout the way your hair falls in your face
I love the shape you take when crawling toward the pillowcase


Liz obliged, gazing up at him as he returned his straddle of her thighs. His hands ran up and down her bare sides and then slid to her stomach. He caressed her gently for a moment, just as he’d done when she was pregnant with Gabriel. Liz swallowed hard and lowered her eyes, resting her hand on his.

“Love,” he whispered, squeezing her hand. After a few moments, she raised her eyes to his again and bit her lip, slowly guiding his hands up her body.

You tell me where to go and
Though I might leave to find it


His hands cupped over her, her nipples hardening into peaks beneath his massaging thumbs. Max could feel the tightening in his groin, continuing his ministrations until she was moaning with desire. Her noises only increased his arousal, but he had to finish her massage. His hands slid away from her breasts, and Liz let out a frustrated cry.

I’ll never let your head hit the bed
Without my hand behind it


“I know, baby,” he murmured, his sultry voice as smooth as silk. Max continued to work his way up her body, this time with his lips and tongue. He left moist trails of kisses along her collarbone, over her arms, and down to her hands. One at a time, he picked them up and bathed them in kisses. His fingers traced her hand, stroking each finger and then slowly sucking them one by one into his mouth before returning to his gentle caresses.

Your body is a wonderland

Liz began to writhe beneath his body straddling hers, her keening sounds an indication that she was close. It was amazing the things Max’s hands could do and she recalled the first time he’d nearly brought her to orgasm just by touching her hand. Of course, sophomore biology class wasn't the best place for this to happen, but now...now her body ached for release.

Your body is a wonder
I’ll use my hands


“Max…” she groaned, raising her hips against him. “Please…”

“What do you need, baby?” he trilled, lowering his head again and sucking on the sensitive skin below her ear.

“Oh god,” she gasped, her eyes closing involuntarily. “Don’t stop touching me.”

Your body is a wonderland

“Not if I tried,” he vowed, running his lips down her over-sensitized skin from her collarbone to her breasts. One hand began playing with her left nipple, while the other received attention from his laving tongue.

After a moment he pulled away and blew lightly, watching as her nipple hardened even more, and then proceeded to suck it into his mouth. With a sharp gasp, Liz came beneath him, shuddering as the orgasm rolled through her trembling body.

Max propped himself up on his side and waited patiently for her to come down. “Hey,” he whispered when she finally opened her eyes.

Liz grinned dazedly as she rolled her head to face him. “Hey.”

Chuckling lightly, Max reached up and touched her flushed cheek. “How’re you feeling?”

“Mmm.” Liz rolled over onto her stomach, half on top of Max, with one thigh pressed between his. “Good,” she smiled. “Better than good, actually,” she corrected, peppering his bare chest with kisses before returning to his lips. “More like totally…and completely…in love with you,” she purred between heated kisses.

“Good,” he grinned, his arousal now clearly defined and poking her in the hip. “Me too.”

Liz arched an eyebrow. “You’re in love with you too, huh?” she teased, reaching down and stroking him once through the fabric of his sweats. “I guess there is a lot to love…but if there’s not enough to go around…” she trailed off.

Damn baby
You frustrate me


He lifted his hips against her, his erection pressing into her center. “There’s plenty, baby,” he panted. “I’ll prove it to you.”

I know you’re mine all mine all mine

“Really?” she breathed, nipping at his chest. “I’d like that.”

Max rolled them onto their sides and swiftly yanked his sweats over his hips. Liz watched expectantly as his straining member sprang up against his stomach as he lay back again.

But you look so good it hurts sometimes

“Mmm…” Liz’s approval vibrated in her throat as she reached out and ran one finger up his length. Max jerked at her touch, letting out a low growl.

“Does it meet your expectations, Ms. Parker-soon-to-be-Evans?” he ground out.

Liz smiled up at him mischievously as she slid down his body. “I better have a little taste,” she decided.

Your body is a wonderland

Max leaned back against the pillows, fisting the sheets as he felt her warm, wet tongue test his burning flesh. His breathing became shallow as she bathed him in moisture and then slowly crept back up his body with her tongue.

“What do you think, baby?” he panted, running his hands down her bare back to the elastic of her shorts, pulling them and her panties from her body.

Your body is a wonder
I’ll use my hands


Liz reached down between them and guided him into her body. The moaned in exquisite unison as she stretched to accommodate him and then clenched around him. “Perfect,” she breathed.

Your body is a wonderland

*****

“I have been scarred for life.”

“Kyle, it wasn’t that bad,” Isabel insisted as they gathered up several pillows and a packet of information the Lamaze instructor had given each couple.

“Um, yeah, Iz, it was!” he shuddered, helping her to her feet. “I will never look at…at one of those in the same way again.”

Isabel smacked his arm. “Kyle, grow up!”

“Iz, I’m a nineteen year old guy,” he reminded her. “The only movies I’ve ever seen involving one of those was scrambled porn on my TV at home.”

Isabel rolled her eyes as they made their way into the hallway of the maternity ward. “Fine, then, you’re wise beyond your years,” she said. “Your future wife will appreciate it.”

“Not if she gets put through that.”

“Kyle? Hello?” Isabel groaned. “Pregnant woman right here. A little comfort instead of a reminder of the inevitable?”

Sighing, Kyle punched the button outside the elevator. “Fine. You’re right. Buddha fully embraces the miracle of life, and that should influence me. Besides, I’m sure it’s totally different for…ah…for your kind. You can probably go into some kind of weird mindframe and not ever feel the excruciating pain of a human being ripped from your-“ He stopped short as the elevator door opened.

Serena was even more beautiful than he’d realized.

“Oh wow, Isabel?” she laughed, stepping out of the elevator and smiling brightly at her.

“Serena, hi,” Isabel said warmly. “It’s been a long time.”

“You’re telling me. Are you-“ she paused, glancing at Isabel’s growing belly with a smile.

Isabel nodded. “In July,” she said, her face glowing with happiness.

“Congratulations! That’s so exciting, you and your husband must be thrilled,” she said, turning to Kyle with a slight look of confusion crossing her face.

“I’m Kyle,” he said quickly, extending his hand. “The friend, not the husband. Or the father,” he quickly added.

“It’s nice to meet you, Kyle,” she said with a smile, returning his handshake. “I didn’t think you looked familiar,” she continued, glancing down as Kyle continued to squeeze her hand.

Isabel cleared her throat and nudged him, snapping him back to reality. “My husband is out of town on business, so Kyle volunteered to come with me for my first Lamaze class,” she explained.

“That’s great, Kyle,” Serena said brightly. “I don’t think many guys would do that.”

“What can I say,” Kyle began modestly. “The miracle of life is such an incredible experience, and I believe we should, you know, embrace every opportunity we have to-“

“Hey, it was really good to see you again,” Isabel interrupted. “We won’t keep you, I’m sure you’ve got patients to see.”

“I do,” Serena admitted, tucking her blonde hair behind her ear. “How are Liz and your brother doing these days?”

“Really good,” Isabel said. “They’re getting married in June, so we’ve all been really busy with the planning and everything.” She nudged Kyle again as he stifled a snicker.

“That’s great,” Serena smiled. “Tell them I said congratulations, okay? I really wish them the best.” She paused, turning to Kyle again. “And it was nice to meet you.”

“My pleasure,” he said quickly.

“And hopefully I’ll be seeing you in few months when you come in to have that baby,” Serena added to Isabel as she started down the hall. “Take care!”

“Definitely, definitely my pleasure,” Kyle said under his breath as he and Isabel started down the elevator.

Isabel rolled her eyes. “Kyle, I can’t thank you enough for coming with me tonight, but remind me to tell Jesse that he is never, ever missing a Lamaze class again. Ever."

*****

lyrics by John Mayer, Your Body is a Wonderland

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Apr-2002 1:39:35 AM ]
posted on 29-Apr-2002 5:15:02 PM by McGees
One can only study so much. Really. So here's (part of) the new part. Figured I'd split it up because otherwise it'll probably get quite lengthy. Plus, I know some of us have some mad EAS going on, and fics sure do a dreamer heart good! Hope this takes your mind off of it for a bit!


29a

“Something old?”

“Check.”

“Something new?”

“Check.”

“Something borrowed?”

“Check.”

“Something blue?”

“Check.”

“Wait, wait.” Isabel gave Liz the once-over. “I don’t see anything blue,” she said suspiciously.

Liz and Maria exchanged giddy grins. “We bought blue thongs,” Liz confided.

“They match the bridesmaids dresses, actually,” Maria noted, adjusting the veil that sat atop Liz’s upswept hair.

Isabel let out a mock sigh, patting her round belly. “No thongs for us.”

“One more month,” Maria reminded comfortingly. “I can’t believe this. Iz, you’re having a baby, Liz, you’re getting married. Like, now,” she added with a wide-eyed giggle. “We’re growing up, girls.”

“You sure are,” Nancy agreed wistfully as she opened the door and stepped into Isabel’s old bedroom. “How are you doing in here? Everyone’s just about seated.”

Liz’s eyes widened and she reached for Nancy’s hand. “Mom…”

Nancy squeezed her daughter’s hand and stood her in front of the full-length mirror. “Look at you,” she murmured, her eyes misting over. “My baby girl is getting married.”

Smiling at their reflection, Liz smoothed the silky gown and asked, “Have you seen Max?”

“He’s ready for you,” Nancy said with a smile. “He’s doing a good job convincing us he’s calm and collected, but I think he’s going to lose his composure when he sees you, Lizzie. You’re breathtaking.”

“Thanks, Mom,” she whispered. “Is Daddy ready?”

“As ready as he’ll ever be,” Nancy said with a chuckle. “How about you? Are you ready?”

“Completely,” Liz asserted, the smile spreading over her glowing face. “Let’s have a wedding.”

After exchanging hugs with her mother and bridesmaids and watching as they left to take their places, Liz gazed once more into the mirror. She touched the veil that framed her face and whispered, “I, Liz Parker, take thee, Max Evans…” Smiling to herself, Liz knew that nothing could ever come between her and Max again. Today they would seal their bond in marriage, but it had been forged long before. Her heart had always belonged to Max Evans.

Carefully gathering the full skirt of her gown, Liz made her way down to the Evans' dining room. The violin quartet had already started out in the yard by the time she stepped up beside her father. “Hi Daddy,” she whispered, linking her arm with his.

Jeff Parker turned to his daughter and was rendered momentarily speechless. Wasn’t it just yesterday that his little girl had worn her mother’s slip on her head, pretending to be a bride? And yet here she was, a grown woman on her wedding day.

“Daddy?” Liz asked gently, gazing up into her father’s face.

With his free hand, he squeezed hers. “Oh Lizzie,” he sighed, “You are a vision.”

“Thanks, Dad,” she smiled, glancing at the back door as Maria and Isabel prepared to make their entrance. Maria turned around and flashed Liz a giddy thumbs up, and then started down the aisle.

“I’m proud of you, Lizzie,” Jeff said suddenly, leaning closer to Liz. “I’m proud to be your father. Don’t ever forget that.”

“Oh Daddy,” Liz sighed, seeing the tears in his eyes. “Don’t cry. I’ll always be your daughter. You know that.”

Jeff took a deep breath and then smiled at her. “I know. And I’m holding you to that.”

“Well I hope so,” Liz giggled, her grip on his arm tightening as the music swelled.

“That’s us,” Jeff murmured, leading her out into the yard as the Wedding March began. Father and daughter turned onto the satiny white aisle.

Max stood at the end of the aisle with Michael, Jesse, and the minister. He watched as Maria and his sister came down the aisle one after the other. Maria led the way, a giant grin on her face as she held her head high, her hair pulled up in an elegant twist. The sleeveless, pale ice blue bridesmaid dress was set off perfectly by her glowing green eyes, and Michael watched proudly as his girlfriend took her place beside him. Isabel followed just behind, graceful despite the slight waddle she was adopting in the last month of her pregnancy. She exchanged a smile and a wink with her brother as she took her place beside Jesse.

Max’s heart leapt as the violins shifted into the Wedding March. Every ounce of his being focused on the end of the aisle, awaiting the moment his Liz, his bride, would appear.

It seemed to happen in slow motion, every detail being committed to the very depths of his memory. Their eyes locked the moment she appeared at the end of the aisle. She fairly floated toward him on her father’s arm, her silky ivory gown flowing behind her. The pearl lined bodice hugged her curves, with thin straps that faded into the veil that rested over her shoulders. But it was the smile that graced Liz’s perfect face that really took Max’s breath away.

Liz saw only Max as she moved down the aisle, clutching her bouquet of white roses. She wasn’t even aware of the friends and family the looked on with smiles and soft murmurs as she passed, or of her mother and Max’s parents seated in the front row, watching with proud tears in their eyes, or even of Maria, Michael, Isabel and Jesse as they beamed at her from just beyond Max.

No, her entire world was one man. The man who stood proudly in his black tuxedo, a white rosebud nestled in his lapel. The man whose eyes danced with happiness and awe at the sight of her. The man whose mouth curved up into a glowing smile, the same mouth she had kissed thousands of times, the mouth that had whispered the tender words of his love more times than she could count. The man whose hands had given her life, and then given her a reason to live. The man whose heart and soul was one with hers.

And then Liz was standing before him. Max tore his eyes from her long enough to acknowledge Jeff as he kissed his daughter’s cheek and then carefully transferred her arm from his to Max’s.

Their bodies came into contact, and the rush of images was instantaneous.

The reverse connection in the Crashdown, nearly four years before, when Liz first saw herself as Max saw her.

Their very first kiss on Liz’s balcony that balmy December night.

Max professing his love to her in the abandoned van.

“Flying” over the water, free and laughing and in love.

The snow peppering their hair and lashes and noses as they kissed and kissed and kissed on the ice skating pond.

The first time they made love, trembling and wrapped up in one another on Liz’s balcony.

Dancing in one another’s arms at senior prom, basking in the glow of their love and the promise of their future.

Making love under the fireworks at the Grand Canyon…the night their son was conceived.

Liz finding the ring in their new apartment, laughing and crying as Max slid it onto her finger.


Max caressed her left ring finger, grinning at her as he led her to stand face to face before the minister.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two souls,” the minister began. He continued to speak, but Max and Liz were fairly oblivious to it, as lost in one another’s eyes as they were. But after a time, Max heard his name and knew it was time for the vows.

“I, Maxwell Phillip Evans, do take thee, Elizabeth Marie Parker, to be my wife,” Max began, staring into Liz’s loving eyes. “I will love, honor, and cherish you until the end of time. Only you,” he added meaningfully. “It was you who made my life worth living. It was you who gave me more love, comfort, and peace than I ever dreamed possible. It was you. It will always be you. I devote my life to showing you that you make me the luckiest man on this world or any other.”

Liz swallowed hard as Max’s words echoed through her heart. “I, Elizabeth Marie Parker, do take thee, Maxwell Phillip Evans, to be my husband,” she said, her voice trembling just slightly. “I will love, honor, and cherish you through this world and the next. You are the love of my life. It was you who gave me life,” she murmured, blinking back tears as she gazed into his perfect face. She felt his loving energy surge through her and then continued. “I now devote my life to cherishing you, your heart and your soul, which have become a part of me. “

Max and Liz shared a beaming smile as the minister said, “You may exchange the rings.” He took them from Michael, handing a small gold band to Max as Liz passed her bouquet over to Maria.

Caressing her hand in his, Max carefully slid the ring onto her left finger and then raised it to his lips in a soft kiss. “Always,” he whispered.

Feeling a thrill run through her, Liz took the larger band from the minister and placed it on his finger. She held it for a moment, marveling at the matching gold that now adorned their fingers. “Always.”

I love you , Liz said through their connection.

Max slowly leaned closer, their connection almost chemical. I love you. And then he descended on her, framing her face in his hands and simply gazing at her for a moment before their lips met.

“…You may kiss the bride,” the minister offered, chuckling along with the rest of the guests.

Liz thought she might lose herself in her husband…her husband. It was perfect. You’re my husband now, Max.

And you’re Mrs. Evans.

We should probably…

I know…


Slowly, the bride and groom broke apart, their eyes shining with joy and love. Their smiles grew larger as the minister said, “I’d like to present for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Max and Liz Evans.”

The guests burst into applause as the violin quartet started up a lively number and, laughing, the newlyweds floated up the aisle hand in hand.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 29-Apr-2002 6:09:54 PM ]
posted on 9-May-2002 1:51:40 PM by McGees
Thanks so much for the bumpage! Sorry I've been MIA lately...things have been quite hectic this last week, what with finishing finals, moving home, unpacking, all that good stuff. I have been working on the next part, though it's not finished quite yet. Just wanted to pop in and let you know that it IS coming, and also plug the new fic that I'm working on. I swore I wouldn't do it, try to write two at one time, but after seeing this last episode, I had to. My new one is called "One Week," and, as you can probably guess, it takes place during the week that was skipped at the end of 4AAB. Check it out if you have a chance, and I promise I'll be back soon!

Here's the link to One Week:
f=dreamer-fanfiction&t=129245
posted on 11-May-2002 2:08:37 PM by McGees
Thanks for the bumps, much appreciated! And because you guys are so great, I'm gonna post a bit more of the wedding day. Not all of it, unfortunately, but hopefully we'll all be left inspired by where this leaves off. I promise it won't take me so long to come back this time!
NOTE 5/13: Hmm. Well, it wouldn't let me update the title until just now, so even though it's been here more than a day, I couldn't let ya'll know about the update till now!


29b

Clink-clink-clink

Michael stood, tapping his fork against the side of his glass. “Ah, if I could have everyone’s attention,” he began over the din of talking and laughing in the large white tent that had been set up in the Evans’ backyard. “As the Best Man, it’s my job to give a speech about the newlyweds. So I’d like to propose a toast to the newest Mr. and Mrs. Evans.” He paused, glancing at Max and Liz seated to his left. “Um, I’m not always the best with words, so I wrote out this whole speech about weddings and stuff.” Maria nodded encouragingly from his right side. “Only, I decided it sounded kinda cheesy, so I’m just going to talk if that’s okay with-“

“Go for it already, Guerin,” Max teased.

Michael grinned. “Yeah, so there’s this guy over here. Max Evans, husband. Kinda crazy, isn’t it?”

Max squeezed Liz’s hand and leaned over to kiss her cheek as the guests chuckled.

“He’s, ah, he’s always been like a brother to me. And brothers, they tend to give each other a lot of grief about things. I know we’ve done our share of that. But when it really comes down to it…Max knows what he’s doing. He’s had a lot of different roles in his life, and he’s filled each one admirably. Even though the role of husband is a new one for him, there’s no doubt in my mind that this will be his best yet. Especially because, I mean, this is Liz Parker.” The guests chuckled gently again as Liz blushed. “She’s beautiful, smart, loving, giving, and the one person Max has had his eye on since…well, since he laid eyes on her. Now, I may not be Mr. Sensitivity-Romantic Guy,” he continued, ignoring Maria’s stifled guffaw, “but it’s clear that this was meant to be. Liz and Max bring out the best in one another, and I’d like to thank them for that and wish them every happiness.” He raised his glass. “To Max and Liz.” The other guests followed suit, toasting the bride and groom.

“And I believe,” Jim spoke up from a small platform on the other side of the tent, “that it’s time for the bride and groom’s first dance as a married couple.” He gestured to Maria as she made her way up to the small stage and took her place behind the microphone.


Max took Liz’s hand as the music began and led her out into the large open area for dancing. “I didn’t know the Kit Shickers had it in em,” he mused into her ear with a smile.

“At last,” Maria crooned. “My love has come along…My lonely days are over…And life is like a song…”

Liz sighed happily and beamed up at her husband as they swayed back and forth.

“At last the stars above are blue…My heart was wrapped up in clovers…The night I looked at you…”

For the umpteenth time that day, the newlyweds were aware only of one another, eyes and hearts locked. Neither noticed as other couples trickled onto the dance floor – at that moment they were the only two people in the universe.

“I found a dream that I could speak to…A dream that I can call my own…I found a thrill to press my cheek to…A thrill that I have never known…”

“You smile, you smile, oh and then the spell is cast…And here we are in heaven…Oh you are mine at last…”

As the last note of Maria’s beautiful voice faded into the sound of applause from the guests, Liz finally took her gaze from Max and turned to the stage. She flashed Maria a smile and blew her a kiss as the Kit Shickers launched into another song.

Nearly two hours passed, complete with the obligatory Macarena and Chicken Dance – and even to Max’s dismay, line-dancing. He decided to sit that one out, watching as his bride tush-pushed around Kyle.

“You gonna go kick his ass?” Isabel teased, lowering herself into a chair beside her brother.

Max grinned. “Nah. I’ve learned not to be the jealous type.”

“You don’t have anything to worry about,” Isabel agreed, leaning back and resting her hands on her belly. “It’s clear your wife is totally smitten.”

“So am I,” Max beamed as Liz caught his eye, winking and sending him one of her special smiles.

“You know, I think I’ve seen just about everything today,” Isabel noted as they watched their friends and family dancing.

“What, Kyle pimping it with all the women in the crowd?” Max chuckled.

Isabel burst out laughing. “Yeah, that too. He and Mom looked like they were having a good time. But Michael and Amy, Maria and Jesse, Liz and Dad…it’s been fun to watch.”

“You danced with Jeff,” Max pointed out, still getting used to calling Liz’s dad by his first name…he didn’t dare think about the prospect of calling him “Dad.”

“He’s a good dancer,” Isabel commented. “And, you know, he really is a good guy too.”

Max nodded. “He’s been a really big help with the wedding and stuff. Hasn’t been giving Liz a hard time or anything.”

“I think he finally came to terms with his daughter growing up,” Isabel said gently. “You’ll understand when you have yourself a little girl,” she added, patting Max’s knee.

“I hope so,” Max said wistfully. Now wasn’t the time, of course, but seeing how well Isabel’s pregnancy was going…Max wanted to try having another baby with Liz someday. He couldn’t imagine anything more perfect than the pitter-patter of little feet, three or four miniature Max-and-Liz’s jumping into their bed in the morning with the bright sunshine spilling over all of them…

“Look at that dopey grin on your face,” Isabel interrupted with a smile. “That’s what the honeymoon’s for, buddy.”

The music faded into something softer, slower, and Jesse appeared before his wife. “Well, you’ve danced with the father of the bride. Now how about the father of your child?” he teased, helping Isabel to her feet.

She rolled her eyes good-naturedly and smiled at Max. “Go find your bride.”

Max obliged easily, searching the dance floor for his wife. There she was…dancing with her father. No, definitely not one to interrupt. He turned when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“May I have this dance?” Nancy asked with a smile.

“Of course,” Max replied. As they swayed around the floor, Max asked, “Did you like the ceremony?”

“It was beautiful,” Nancy confirmed, her eyes shining. “Exactly what I wanted for my Lizzie.” She paused. “You know, Max, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her this happy.”

They both glanced over to Liz, whose laughter rang out as Jeff dipped her. “It’s because of you,” she continued. “And that’s all Jeff and I could ever want for our daughter, Max. That she’s happy and respected.”

“She will be, Mrs. Parker,” he vowed seriously. “She’s the most important thing in the world to me.”

“Good,” Nancy nodded. “Now about this ‘Mrs. Parker,’ stuff. I would really like it if you called me Nancy,” she said with a smile. “And my husband Jeff.”

Max blushed slightly. “Okay. I wasn’t sure how you wanted to do that…”

“We’re family now, Max,” Nancy said kindly. They both turned at the sound of a clearing throat.

“May I cut in?” Liz asked with a wink.

Nancy smiled at her daughter. “I suppose. Now if only I can catch your dad before someone else snatches him up,” she mused.

Max grinned down at Liz as she settled into his arms with a contented sigh. “It’s wonderful to see you again, Mrs. Evans.”

Liz tilted her face up toward his and kissed him tenderly. “My pleasure, Mr. Evans.”

“Mmm…have I told you that you absolutely take my breath away?” he breathed, leaning closer to her.

“Only a few times today,” Liz confirmed with a smile.

Max captured her lips in his again. “I hope you get used to it,” he murmured against her lips. “Because you’ll be hearing it over and over again tonight.”

A delicious shiver went down Liz’s spine. “Why Mr. Evans, are you propositioning me?”

He grinned, kissing her soundly. “Always.”

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 13-May-2002 2:48:39 AM ]
posted on 13-May-2002 2:51:03 AM by McGees
Just bumping the update!
posted on 14-May-2002 4:35:26 PM by McGees
Just bringing by some post-wedding fluff. I figured we could all use it today, seeing as its one of the more difficult days in Roswell history. I tell ya, first Seinfeld ends on my birthday and now Roswell. Anyway, I'm planning on posting a new part of "One Week" sometime this afternoon as well. Feel free to leave feedback, it would be a fabulous birthday present! *wink*


29c

“Welcome home, Mrs. Evans.”

Liz giggled as Max dutifully carried out the tradition of carrying the bride over the threshold. “Does it count if you already did this once?” she teased, smoothing her silky wedding gown.

“Does it count. She asks if it counts,” he muttered, kissing her soundly. He tipped his head and gazed at her. “Close your eyes.”

Liz made a face but closed her eyes. “I’ve already seen the apartment, baby. No surprises there,” she reminded.

“Keep em closed anyway.” Max stepped around the luggage that had collected in the kitchen for their honeymoon, which they would embark on the next morning, and made his way down the hall to their bedroom. “Are you peeking?” he demanded suddenly.

“No!” Liz insisted, leaning up to kiss his jaw.

Max snapped his fingers as they entered the bedroom. “You can look now,” he whispered in her ear, his breath trailing down her neck as she slowly opened her eyes.

Liz gasped as her eyes wandered around their bedroom, taking in the white rose petals carpeting the bed, the dozens of white candles scattered throughout the room, and the bouquet of white roses and sparkling apple juice on the bedside table.

“Good lord, Max Evans, it’s like something out of a movie,” she murmured, cupping his face between her hands and kissing him. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he said seriously, his eyes focusing on her equally dark ones. “Anything for you, babe. I would do anything.”

“I love you.” Liz parted his lips with a deep kiss and then rested her forehead against his. “Today was perfect. Our wedding was amazing, this room is amazing…you are amazing.”

Max’s heart swelled, and a wave of joy and peacefulness settled over him. He was married to Liz Parker. Well, Liz Evans now. He couldn’t keep the giddy grin from crossing his face. Though he hadn’t enjoyed it much last night, Liz staying over at Maria’s for one last sleepover to prepare for the wedding, he’d decided that rather than pacing around the apartment he would prepare the bedroom for their wedding night. And it appeared his bride approved.

He made his way blindly across the room, Liz still cradled in his arms. Pushing her back onto the bed among the scattered rose petals, he gazed down at her, brushing a loose strand of hair from her forehead. Her eyes stared deeply into his, reflecting off the dim candlelight and twinkling off her lashes. “You are so beautiful,” Max murmured, running his hand down the side of her face and along her jawbone. He traced his thumb along her bottom lip, and she pressed her lips against it in a soft kiss. He sighed, replacing his thumb with his lips, and kissed her almost feverishly.

Liz sighed softly against his mouth, and he felt a familiar chill run down his spine. Shifting slightly, Max maneuvered himself on top of her and ran his other hand down her side, over the dainty pearls that adorned her gown. Liz responded by sliding her hand from his shoulder down his back, gently lifting his crisp white shirt from his waistband and rotating so that he was beneath her.

Her fingers began working at the buttons on the front of Max’s tuxedo shirt, undoing one and then leaving a smattering of kisses across each newly exposed area. He shuddered at the scorching heat of her lips as they ran down his chest and then back up to his neck, where she began sucking gently on his adam’s apple.

Max couldn’t help the soft grown from escaping his mouth Liz’s tongue swirled in the hollow of his throat. His hands ran up and down her sides, and he traced his tongue down her neck, kissing her shoulder and eliciting a breathy moan. He gazed up at her, tenderly touching her cheek before speaking.

“As beautiful as you look in your wedding gown, I think you’ll be even more beautiful without it,” he whispered.

Liz smiled, lifting herself off of Max and to her feet. She stood before him, reaching behind to undo the zipper, but Max placed his hands on her hips and stopped her. “Let me,” he asked.

Standing behind her, Max rubbed his hands down her bare arms once before making his way to the back zipper of her gown. He wanted to do this; he’d imagined undressing her on their wedding night longer than he was willing to admit. His Liz was everything he’d dreamed of, and he wanted to do this right.

Slowly, carefully, he slid the zipper down to the base of her spine, following after it with a trail of soft kisses. Liz shivered as Max spun her around to face him, sliding the thin straps over her shoulders. He kissed and suckled along her collarbone to the dip of her throat, and Liz rolled her head back in delight at the sensation.

Max reached up and released her hair from its fastening, allowing it to spill over her shoulders in a waterfall. He then eased the straps down her arms, pulling the top half of the gown to her waist and exposing her lacy, pale blue bra. It was strapless, and allowed plenty of room for his tongue to explore the swell of her breasts. Liz gasped as his tongue dipped into her cleavage, and she tightened her grip on his shoulders, pushing the cotton fabric away from his skin.

Max pulled away then, gazing into her eyes as he worked the silky material down her waist. “You are stunning,” he murmured as the gown pooled around her feet. His eyes swept over her body, from her face down her torso to the barely-there thong that teased him.

Liz smiled as her husband gaped at her, tossing his shirt aside and then going to work on the fastening of his black slacks. She slid them down his hips until he stood before her in nothing but silky black boxers, and she couldn’t help the growl that bubbled up from her throat. He was truly a gorgeous man, his muscular chest rising and falling with each labored breath, the muscles in his arms prominent as he ran his hands over her arms. But it was his face, his beautiful face, that took Liz’s breath away. Max’s lips curved up into a sexy smile as they gazed at one another, a smile that was reserved only for her. His eyes burned with desire, a wanton desire only for her.

The look from Liz was all Max could take. He lifted her up into his arms again, placing her gently on the bed before lowering himself onto her. “God, I want you,” he gasped, running the back of his hand over her cheek.

“Then take me,” Liz whispered, nipping at his bottom lip. “We have a marriage to consummate,” she giggled.

“Mmm…” Max groaned as she began to swish her hips beneath his, and even through the material that separated them, he could feel the heat radiating from her. Liz’s delicate fingers reached around his body to the waistband of his boxers, sliding them over his backside and giving him a little tweak.

Max jumped from the sensation, and then felt himself grow even more overcome with desire. He rolled them onto their sides as he freed himself from his boxers, his fingers tracing over her bare stomach and then lower.

Liz gasped as she felt him reach beneath the flimsy fabric of her panties, one nimble finger trailing through her curls before dipping inside. “Ah, God,” she gasped, arching into his touch.

“You’re so ready for me, baby,” he breathed, sucking on the delicate skin below her ear.

She closed her eyes and nodded, swallowing hard as he slid his hand from her panties and eased them down her thighs. Liz kicked them free as Max reached for the hook of her bra. He fumbled for a moment and she arched an eyebrow, just daring him to use his powers for assistance.

“Got it,” he boasted proudly, snapping the bra from her body and tossing it to the floor. Max’s hands caressed her, urging her nipples into hard peaks before leaning down to taste one and then the other. Liz sighed under his ministrations, bringing her hands to his waist and pulling him closer to her center.

Max moaned softly as the tip of his pulsing manhood came into contact with her. “I love you, Liz,” he whispered, positioning himself at her entrance.

“I love you…” Liz gasped as she felt him slide into her waiting body, filling her with his familiar size and conforming her in a way that was sure to leave them both crying out with pleasure.

Their eyes met as they began their familiar rhythm, accented with gasps and growls of satisfaction as they worked their way into a crest of perfection. Their bodies moved languidly, complimenting each other in a way no one else ever could, pushing them to the brink as a final wave of ecstasy washed over them.

“Liiiiiz!” Max cried out her name as he spilled into her waiting body, the delicious release completing her as well. She chanted his name as her body convulsed over him, the tremors finally slowing as they came down together.

“Oh God…” Liz groaned as he collapsed beside her, peppering her damp forehead with kisses. “That was…wow.”

Max grinned weakly. “I know,” he breathed, smoothing her hair back. His heart swelled with joy once more as he realized that this was just the first of many, many nights to come, loving his wife with all of his being.

*****
posted on 16-May-2002 9:02:04 PM by McGees
Hehe, okay, I get the point! Sorry for all the short updates lately, so here you have it - a full chapter! Let me know what you think...some of you are so perceptive, but I can't let anything slip...just know that all your questions will be answered sooner or later - or perhaps in the sequel. *wink*


30

“It’s so pretty here,” Liz murmured from where she sat wrapped in Max’s arms on the porch swing of their cabin. It was only the first night of their honeymoon, but already Liz had fallen in love with their surroundings.

Max and Liz had decided to take the simple route for their honeymoon, renting a cabin at Sumner Lake a few hours north of Roswell. It would give them a week of peace and quiet away from civilization without busting their carefully planned budget.

“I’m just surrounded by beauty,” Max said with a chuckle, kissing his wife’s jaw.

“You’re too good to me,” Liz sighed, reveling in his loving touches.

“Uh-uh,” Max corrected. “You deserve nothing but the best.”

Liz grinned up at him. “Will you listen to us? You’d think we were a couple of newlyweds or something.”

“I don’t know, would newlyweds do…this?” Max’s fingers attacked before Liz had a chance to escape, tickling her mercilessly. She shrieked with laughter, sliding off the swing to the porch floor to try and free herself.

Max maneuvered himself so that was straddling her hips, trapping her beneath him. His fingers slowed as he gazed down at Liz, her chest heaving, and then grinned. “Yeah, I think they probably would.”

“Kiss me,” Liz requested breathlessly, her pulse quickening as his lips descended on hers. They kissed feverishly, and Max quickly reached down to loosen the buckle of his belt.

Liz understood immediately what his intentions were, and she moaned faintly as she felt him against her. She was about to work at the button of her shorts when Max’s fingers covered hers, undoing them roughly and sliding her panties down her legs. Realizing that he had gone commando, she gasped as his rigid erection thrust into her body.

Max drove into her hungrily, grasping her hips with one hand as they bucked together wildly on the wooden porch floor. There were no words exchanged during their lovemaking, only deep growls and keening moans as they raced to the edge. Gripping his shoulders, Liz screamed out Max’s name as she lost herself in one mind-blowing orgasm after another.

The excitement that he could make her come so quickly launched Max’s release, and he continued to pound into Liz as he unloaded his seed into her depths. She encouraged him on, digging her nails into his t-shirt covered back.

After a few moments Max grunted and released his tight hold on her body. He rolled off of her and lay flat on his back, gasping for breath as he gazed up at the darkening sky.

Liz stared at him, slowly pulling her panties back up and resting her hand on his heaving chest. “Are you okay?”

He turned to her in a daze, nodding slightly. “Are you?”

She nodded, covering her mouth and giggling. “That was incredible, Max.”

“Did I hurt you?” he asked in concern, reaching up to touch her cheek. He couldn’t believe he’d lost control like that, taking her on the hard floor of the porch, for god’s sake.

Liz shook her head now, the smile still gracing her face. “Of course not.” She paused when he sighed in relief, sliding her hand up to push the damp hair from his forehead. “I’m not going to break, you know,” she said gently.

Max nodded, closing his eyes for a moment before sitting up and gazing at her seriously. “It’s…it’s not just this. I know I’ve hurt you before, Liz. But you keep taking me back, forgiving me…loving me. I want to deserve you. I don’t ever want to hurt you again.”

Taking his hand in hers, Liz lightly touched the wedding band that adorned his finger. “I know that, Max. That’s what we promised one another when we said our vows.” She paused, tilting his chin up to look at her. “It doesn’t mean we’ll never have struggles, Max. Nothing is perfect. But we will get past whatever trials life might hand us together. Okay? Always together.”

He nodded again, looking into her loving eyes. “Always.” Max hastily slid his shorts back up and then pulled Liz into his arms. They sat in peaceful silence, staring up into the sky as the twinkling stars began to appear.

*****

Max stalked his prey carefully, silently. There she was on a plastic raft, floating unassumingly in the sun. The past few days on the lake had glazed her skin a golden brown, and in her blue and white polka dot bikini, she looked like a water goddess.

He rubbed his palms together as he slipped into the water, careful not to cause any splashes or ripples on the lake’s surface as he quietly made his way over to her. She was going to kill him, but what a way to go.

Max grinned to himself, preparing to attack. Just as he was about to launch himself onto her, Liz suddenly slid her sunglasses down her nose. “Don’t even think about it.”

Jumping back, Max raised his hands innocently. “Who, me? I was just going for a little swim,” he said sweetly.

“Hmm.” Liz arched an eyebrow skeptically and carefully sat up on the raft. She inspected herself and then said, “Baby, do the tops of my legs look burnt?”

Max waggled his brows at her mischievously and said, “Let me take a look.” He dipped his head down to her feet, kissing his way up over her ankle, calf, knee, and across her thighs. “Mm-mm, looks good to me. But maybe you should get into the water to prevent any burning.”

Liz shivered as his tongue crept into the juncture between the top of her thigh and her torso. “Prevent burning, huh?” she teased, sliding off the raft and into his arms. “We’ll see about that.” She wound her legs around his waist and kissed him breathless.

“Mmm…Liz.” His eyes flew open as she abruptly pulled away from him. “Where are you going?” he pouted.

Liz merely grinned in the shoulder-deep water, suddenly dangling her bikini top in front of him.

“Liz!” he admonished, his grin widening as she tossed it onto the raft behind her.

“How about it, Evans?” she asked. “You up for some skinnydipping?”

“It’s the middle of the afternoon!” he hissed, swallowing hard when she dangled her bikini bottoms from her fingertip.

Liz glanced around the empty lake innocently. “Come on, Max, it’s something we can tell our grandchildren about,” she teased pointedly. She could see him considering it, and giggled in triumph when his trunks appeared, floating on the surface of the water. A playful glint appeared in her eye then. “But you’ll have to catch me first!” she crowed, skirting away from him and splashing out toward the center of the lake.

“You little…” Max muttered, watching as his wife left him in the frothy water. “Come here, you!”

“Nuh-uh.” Liz shook her head. “Come get me.”

Max broke into a swim, racing toward her. Liz shrieked, and she too began swimming back toward the shore.

“Hey!” Max paused, watching as Liz grabbed their suits from the raft and scurried toward the sand, not bothering to put her bikini back on. His jaw fell open as she tossed them toward the cabin and then settled onto the small beach in nothing but her birthday suit. “That’s…that’s not fair!” he sputtered.

“Why not?” she called, leaning back and propping herself up on her elbows.

“Because – because I don’t want my ass to get sunburned,” he answered indignantly.

Liz cocked her finger toward Max, urging him to join her. “I’m sure we’ve got lotion around here somewhere.”

“Dammit,” Max muttered, slowly making his way toward the shore. “Just remember, Liz, water causes shrinkage.”

*****

Max reached out for Liz in his sleep. When his arms felt only the empty space beside him in bed, he was awakened and looked around the room in sleepy confusion.

Morning was just beginning to break, and the faint glow from the rising sun crept in through the open curtains. Liz stood in the doorway of the small balcony, gazing out over the still water.

Climbing silently out of bed, Max moved toward his wife until he was standing just behind her. “Liz?” he murmured, touching her shoulder.

Liz jumped slightly, but relaxed as Max wrapped his arms around her. “You’re up early, baby,” he noted, rather surprised considering they’d been making love until just a few hours ago.

“It’s a beautiful sunrise,” Liz said quietly, transfixed by the glittering path the sliver of sun skidded across the water’s glassy surface.

Max nodded, resting his chin on her shoulder as one hand settled near her stomach. “What’re you thinking about?”

Liz sighed. “It’s just…” She paused, but when Max squeezed her encouragingly, she continued. “It’s July fourth.”

“It is,” Max agreed, swallowing hard. A year. It had been a whole year since it had all began.

“I can’t believe it,” Liz whispered, her hand coming to rest over Max’s. “Gabriel has been a part of our lives for a year now.” She glanced up at Max, her big brown eyes shining with tears. “We never even got to meet him, but it seems like he’s always been a part of us.”

Max nodded, nuzzling her neck tenderly. “Maybe he has,” he murmured.

Turning then, Liz buried herself in the familiar warmth of her husband’s arms. Max held her silently, and after a time he leaned back to look at her. “Liz?” he began. “I…we really haven’t talked about this much, and I…I think we should.”

Liz nodded encouragingly. “You can ask me anything, Max,” she reminded gently.

Max clasped her hands in his and gazed down at her. “How do you feel about having other children? I…I don’t mean now, of course. But…someday?”

She was silent for a few moments, and then brought their joined hands up to kiss his palm. “I would like that,” she said honestly, a tiny smile curving her lips. “I want to have a part of you inside me again. I want to give birth to our child and raise him or her with you…to know what a combination of you and me would be like.” She took a deep breath, blinking back tears. “Not to replace Gabriel, of course. But to try again.”

Max framed her face in his hands. “I love you, Liz Evans.” She watched in wonder at what her husband did next. He blew a kiss up into the sky and whispered, “I love you, Gabriel.”

*****

“Welcome home!” Maria crowed, flinging her arms around her best friend in a huge hug. “Well, sort of,” she amended, glancing around the Crashdown.

“Maxwell,” Michael greeted, holding out his hand through the kitchen window.

“Hey, man,” Max said with a grin, shaking his best friend’s hand. “Hey, could you cook up a couple burgers for Liz and I?” he asked. “It’s been a long trip, and we only stopped home to drop off our bags.”

“Yeah, no problem,” Michael shrugged. “I get off in five minutes, so that’ll be up to Jose.” He grinned and returned to the grill.

“So tell me everything,” Maria was gushing. “Well, not everything, you know, but-“

“Maria, slow down,” Liz chuckled, straightening Maria’s disheveled antennae. “It was great…relaxing-“

“But not too relaxing, right?” Maria cut in, wiggling her eyebrows. “Please tell me you got more action than I did!”

“Maria!” Liz hissed. “My dad’s around here somewhere, and-“

“Lizzie!”

Liz looked pointedly at Maria and then turned to her father, who appeared from the back room. “Hi Dad, we’re home!”

“Oh sweetie, welcome home,” he said, giving his daughter a big hug before turning to his son-in-law and shaking his hand warmly.

“Did I hear Lizzie?” Nancy exclaimed, hurrying in behind her husband. “Honey, you look beautiful,” she said, framing her daughter’s face in her hands. She leaned a little closer and said with a wink, “A honeymoon’ll do that to a girl.”

Liz blushed. “Mom.”

“Sorry, sorry,” she said with a smile before giving Max a hug as well. “Well, you kids had better grab a table before the Fourth of July rush hits us for supper. The fireworks are in two hours.”

Liz looked at her husband. “Isn’t Isabel-“

“I’m here, I’m here,” Isabel said, waddling into the café with Jesse. “Come here, you two, give me hugs.” She parked herself in a booth and let out a deep sigh.

“Hey guys,” Jesse greeted with a smile as Liz and Max joined them. “Welcome home.”

“How’re you feeling, Iz?” Liz asked gently, leaning over to give her sister-in-law a hug.

“I’ve been more comfortable,” she said honestly as Max hugged her. “Not too tight, Max, I already feel like I’m gonna explode,” she continued, irritated.

Max backed away apologetically. “Sorry,” he offered, sitting down across from them with Liz.

A smile crossed Isabel’s face then. “Oh, don’t be. I’ve been snapping all week, it’s this damn heat.” She paused, and her grin widened. “Enough about me, how was the honeymoon?”

“Ah, ah, no details until I get done with my shift,” Maria called from the counter, checking the clock on the wall. “Which is in…two minutes and thirty-five seconds.”

“Oh Maria, go,” Jeff said in mock exasperation. “Cassie’s here already, I wouldn’t want you to spill any Alien Blasts in excitement.”

Maria squealed and gave Jeff a hug. “Thanks Mr. P.!”

Michael rolled his eyes, but then grinned when Jeff motioned for him to clock out as well. “Sweet.”

*****

Max settled onto a blanket with Liz in the park, awaiting the start of the fireworks. He tried to stifle his sympathetic chuckle as Jesse assured Isabel that yes, she would be able to get to her feet again once she sat down, and as, much to Maria’s irritation, Michael blew loudly on a blade of grass.

He gazed down at his wife, and all the sounds around him disappeared. “You okay?” he asked quietly, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and pulling her closer to him.

Liz nodded bravely, even managing a smile for him. “Yeah, I’ll be okay,” she assured, pausing for a moment. “It’ll all be okay,” she continued, her smile broadening so that even her eyes were smiling.

Max grinned at the sparkle in her eyes, kissing the top of her head as the first burst of color exploded into the sky. “It’ll be beautiful.”

*****

itwasyou2

A rare shot of our couple on their honeymoon. *wink* Thanks for letting me use this, Heidi (It Was You)!

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Oct-2002 9:58:00 PM ]
posted on 27-May-2002 6:25:03 PM by McGees
Dude, 500 posts. That's pretty fantastic, thanks all! Happy Memorial Day as well...and in honor of the holiday, a new part for you. Or something like that. *Kate shrugs* Actually, it's just because I've been a dork and haven't been keeping up. I knew trying to write two would do this. But I love em both like they're my kids or something ridiculous like that, and I'll keep doing my best to get new parts out ASAP! (feedback helps this, of course. *tongue* )


31

“I’m so uncomfortable.”

Michael exchanged a look with Max and they both glanced at Isabel, slumped back in a lawn chair with a paper fan in one hand and a glass of lemonade in the other. “When’s the kid supposed to come again?” Michael hissed.

“Ten days,” Max muttered under his breath, getting to his feet to check the progress of the grill. Ten more days of Isabel complaining about the heat, the size of her middle, the fact that Edy’s had discontinued its cappuccino flavored ice cream, and anything else under the sun that happened to get under her skin. Though the Nazi in Isabel had been in full force for most of her pregnancy, in the last few weeks she’d decided it unnecessary to lift a finger. Max loved his sister to bits, but it didn’t change the fact that his sister in her nine-months-pregnant state was driving him bonkers. He couldn’t help feeling a bit of resentment toward Jesse, who’d been called to testify for a co-worker in a messy case in Denver and had been out of town for several days. As Michael had so reasonably put it, “It’s his fault, he should have to deal with it.”

Max chuckled to himself as he flipped the burgers over. Jesse felt horrible about leaving Isabel alone, and had asked Max to check up on her at least once a day. It seemed almost unnecessary, what with Jesse calling home every few hours, but Max could understand. He watched as his beautiful wife appeared from Isabel’s kitchen with a stack of paper plates. He knew for a fact that he would be just as protective of Liz.

“Hey, you.” Liz playfully slapped her husband’s behind and set the plates beside the grill before settling her arms around his waist.

“Burgers are almost done,” he said, grinning as Liz ran her hands over his tight abs.

“Mmm,” she breathed into his ears. “Yummy.”

Max tapped her arm with the turner. “Tease,” he muttered.

Liz smirked, her fingers trailing to his waistband for just an instant. “I have to help Maria with the fruit salad,” she announced, traipsing back into the house.

Tease indeed. Max shook his head, still grinning from ear to ear as he arranged the burgers on a paper plate. “Food’s on!” he called.

Isabel smiled sweetly at Kyle. “Would you be the greatest friend in the world and get a burger for me?”

Kyle sighed, pushing himself out of his chair. “You’re the mommy.”

“Thank you!” she chirped. “And remember, plenty of Tabasco on both sides of the bun, and cheese, but don’t let it get all melty. The texture grosses me out.”

“I got it, Iz,” Kyle assured dryly, glancing at Max and rolling his eyes. “Ten days.”

*****

Later that evening, after the coals in the grill had cooled and the last burger had been devoured, the six friends sat laughing in the mid-July night. Maria was recounting an incident from Isabel’s baby shower several weeks earlier when Liz noticed a strange look cross Isabel’s face.

“Isabel, are you okay?”

Glancing up in surprise, Isabel ran her hand over her belly and nodded. “Oh, yeah. It’s this indigestion. Nothing seems to help.”

Maria continued her story, and Liz’s eyes drifted to her husband sitting across the table from her. She kicked off her sandals and slowly touched one foot to Max’s calve. He jumped slightly, clearing his throat as his wife’s bare foot slid up and down his leg.

Liz slid her eyes up to his innocently, her tongue poking out of the corner of her mouth as her foot moved higher.

Max swallowed hard at how aroused this was making him. If Liz didn’t cut it out, he was going to have to be forced to drag her around front and take her in the backseat of the Chevelle.

“Hey Maria,” Liz spoke up suddenly, her foot just inches from Max’s crotch. “Tell your mom that we’ve still got one of her dishes at our place. I washed it out after the party…”

Max fought back his gasp as Liz’s foot came into contact with his manhood despite the conversation she was carrying on with Maria. He gripped the arms of his lawn chair as her toes curled around him.

“You alright, Max?” Michael spoke up, eyeing his best friend suspiciously.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Max managed, blushing slightly.

Liz smirked, moving her foot over him again. “Must be indigestion.”

At that, Max grabbed her foot under the table and began to tickle it. Liz jerked awkwardly in her chair, trying unsuccessfully to stifle her laughter.

The other four stared at the couple knowingly. “Get a room,” Kyle demanded. “You’ve got plenty of those at your apartment.”

Max and Liz exchanged guilty grins. After a moment they both pushed their chairs back and at the same time said, “Well, it’s been fun.”

“We’ll just bring some of this in on our way out.”

After a quick round of goodbyes and dumping the plates into the trash, Max and Liz dashed to the car and sped toward home.

*****

“So…what are you doing after this?”

Maria slid her glance to Michael as they stood side by side at Isabel’s kitchen sink. She lowered her hands into the soapy water. “I don’t know…probably just go to bed. My mom’s out with Valenti, and there’s not much to do, so…”

“Do you wanna…y’know, do something?” Michael ventured, taking the dish from Maria and drying it haphazardly.

Pursing her lips, Maria pretended to ponder this. “Maybe.”

“Maybe?” Michael repeated, casually moving behind her and then pressing himself against her backside.

Maria jumped in surprise, a grin spreading over her face. “I guess I could come over for a while.”

“Good.” Michael smiled in satisfaction, returning to the dishes that Maria was hurriedly passing to him.

Kyle returned from replacing the lawn chairs and leaned against the counter. “You guys heading out?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Yeah.”

“Ookay.” Kyle backed off at their eagerness and sauntered into the living room where Isabel sat with her feet up on the coffee table, talking on the phone with Jesse.

“Yes, honey, I feel fine. Really. Yes, I’m sitting with my feet up, just like you told me to. Okay. Okay. Get some sleep, you’ve got a big day tomorrow. I love you too, honey. Bye.” She punched the phone off and turned to Kyle. “Kyle, could you get the remote?” she asked, pointing to the recliner a few feet away.

Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, Kyle complied and flopped onto the couch beside her. “Would you like me to press the buttons for you, too?”

Isabel shot him a dirty look, flipping on the television. “You try having a person take up the entire midsection of your body and then tell me how easy it is to maneuver.”

“Hey, wait.” Kyle grabbed her arm as she flipped to Comedy Central. “This is a great movie.”

“Kyle, it’s Porky’s Two.”

“I know!” He clapped his hands happily and settled back onto the couch.

“This is my payback for Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, isn’t it?”

Kyle only grinned smugly.

Isabel sighed in defeat and rested the remote on her stomach.

“Hey, cool trick,” Kyle complimented, glancing at her round belly.

“Shut up, Valenti.”

“We’re leaving now,” Maria announced from the doorway, slinging her purse over her shoulder.

Isabel craned her neck to smile at Maria and Michael. “Bye, guys. Thanks again for doing the dishes.”

“Later.” Kyle waved, not taking his eyes from the screen.

“Later.” Michael propelled Maria to the door, and then they were gone.

Kyle couldn’t help feeling sorry for himself. Everyone else was off having sex, and here he was, hanging out with his married, very pregnant friend. He sighed. Even the losers on TV were getting more action than he was.

*****

“I’m pretty sure it’s your fault,” Liz insisted as she and Max burst into their apartment, already unbuttoning shirts and unfastening belt buckles and bras. “If you hadn’t started tickling me-“

Max’s lips swooped down on hers, cutting off any further argument. He grinned against her mouth as they made their way blindly to their bedroom. Feeling giddy all over, Max couldn’t believe he’d actually been forced to pull into a deserted parking lot because Liz decided to go down on him. He’d then floored it all the way to their apartment, eager to return the favor.

Liz collapsed onto their bed, gazing up at him, and at that moment Max wanted her in the worst way. Wanted to touch her, taste her, smell her, hear her cry out as he made her come.

He dropped to his knees before her, kneeling between her legs as he worked at the fastening of her skirt. But instead of pulling it over her hips, Max placed a hand on each of her knees. Liz watched intently as his hands slid to her inner thighs, slowly disappearing under her skirt. She gasped as he came into contact with her damp panties and leaned back on her elbows, panting.

Max pushed the silky material aside, and she groaned as he ran one finger down her lips before sliding his hands back to her knees. “Max,” she moaned in protest.

“You’re so wet,” he murmured, silencing her. She watched from under heavy lids as he brought his finger to his mouth and tasted her. “And you taste so good,” he sighed. “So good…I want more, Liz.” He gazed at her hungrily. “Can I have more?”

“Mm-hmm.” Liz’s heart roared in her ears as he reached for her skirt, lifting her hips so he could pull the garments down her body.

Max breathed deeply, taking in the sweetness of her essence as he settled back between her legs. Her knees fell further apart as he traced his tongue up her inner thigh, pausing to suck on the sensitive skin at the juncture of her hip.

“Max…” His name escaped between her parted lips, urging him to her core. His tongue swept over her deftly, capturing her honey and then searching for more.

Liz’s cries filled his ears as his tongue moved in and out, in and out, nearly bringing her to the edge. She writhed beneath his mouth, her hips thrusting involuntarily closer, urging him deeper as she fisted her hands in his hair. “Max…oh god,” she gasped, feeling his warm breath against her sensitized flesh as he brought her closer and closer. The scream ripped from her throat as he finally captured her aching clit between his lips and sucked, hard.

Max continued to nibble gently as her body convulsed in pleasure, finally sitting back on his heels and resting his cheek against her thigh. He waited patiently for her to come down, placing gentle kisses on her soft skin.

“Mmm,” Liz sighed finally, reaching for her husband and scooting back on the bed until he was nestled between her legs. She could feel his very prominent arousal through his boxers, and she shivered with excitement as he pressed firmly against her naked hip before rolling them over. Grinning cheekily at Max, she removed the last remaining article of clothing and wrapped her hand around his erection. “Good to see you again,” she commented, stroking him firmly.

“Liz,” Max groaned from beneath her, rubbing his hands along her backside and causing her to squeal in surprise. She released him then and lifted her hips, grinding against him until they were both breathless with desire.

His name tumbled from her lips as he entered her, filling her to the hilt in one fluid motion. Max held her firmly against him as he thrust into her depths, Liz’s hands braced on his shoulders.

Max groaned deep in his throat, his head lolling back against the blanket as he felt the familiar tightening in his groin. “Liiiz…I’m coming,” he hissed through gritted teeth. Her walls clenched around him, urging his release, and he held Liz close as he spilled into her.

Liz placed feathery kisses on Max’s chest as he softened inside of her and rolled them onto their sides. Propping herself up on one elbow, Liz simply gazed at her amazing husband as he caught his breath.

A dazzling smile spread over Max’s face as he reached up to touch her cheek. “God, I love you.”

Liz grinned wickedly then, running her foot deliberately up his leg. “I know.”

*****

It was very late – or very early, judging by the infomercials now on the TV screen – when Kyle’s eyes fluttered open.

“Kyle.”

“Huh?” he mumbled, scratching his head tiredly. Isabel stood before him, her hands spread over her swollen abdomen. The look on her face jerked him wide awake.

“I think the baby’s coming.”

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 27-May-2002 6:49:59 PM ]
posted on 29-May-2002 11:59:54 AM by McGees
Just dropping off a bit more since I've been working quite dilligently on this story. I promise to come back with the rest ASAP, though definitely not today...tonight is the Sense Field/Goo Goo Dolls concert! Yeah!! Two of my favorites in one place. Anyway, on to the story.


32a

“The baby’s coming?”

Isabel nodded quickly, rubbing her hand over her belly as the strange sensation rippled through her.

Kyle jumped to his feet, his eyes wide. “Are you sure?”

She braced one hand on the small of her back and bit her lip. “Pretty sure,” she confirmed. “We have to call Jesse.”

“You’re right, you’re right. Wait.” Kyle paused. “Oh my god. You’re not due for ten days!” he said accusingly.

“I don’t think the baby cares.”

“Oh my god. We’ve got to get you to a doctor! To the hospital!” Kyle began searching wildly for his car keys.

Isabel grabbed his arm. “Kyle, slow down. We’ve got some time. Look, we’ve got to get some things together first. Jesse made a list for this, and it’s on his dresser…what?”

Kyle was gaping at her. “What have you done to him?”

She smacked his arm away. “Just go get it, okay?” she said, easing into the recliner.

“What are you doing? Why are you sitting down?” he demanded

Isabel arched an eyebrow. “I’m not panicking,” she informed him calmly, shooing him away.

Kyle rushed to the bedroom and retrieved this list, having a quick talk with Buddha on the way. “When I said I wanted some action, this wasn’t what I had in mind.”

*****

Riiing!

“Mmm.” Liz’s eyes flickered open as the phone rang on her bedside table. She sighed, wondering why someone would call at this hour, and reluctantly pulled away from Max’s nude body spooned behind her. Lifting the receiver with a yawn, Liz mumbled, “Hello?” She paused. “Kyle? Where are – oh. Oh my god. Yeah…yeah, we’ll be there as soon as we can. Bye.”

Liz hung up, rolling over to her husband. “Max,” she murmured. “Wake up, babe.”

He groaned, pulling her closer and burying his hand in her hair.

“Max.” She leaned over him, placing soft kisses on his eyelids until they fluttered open. “We have to go.”

“Where?” he mumbled, his voice thick with sleep. Max groaned again, squinting at the sudden flood of light as Liz flipped on the lamp and crawled out of bed. He watched the delicate muscles in her back ripple as she pulled on her panties and jeans, and then turned to face him again. “To the hospital. Isabel is having the baby.”

“Now?” Max shot out of bed like a rocket, fumbling around for a pair of boxers.

“Not this second,” Liz assured, pulling her hair back into a ponytail. “But Kyle’s alone at the hospital, and Isabel could probably use the extra support until Jesse gets there.”

“I have a feeling Kyle needs it more than she does,” Max said knowingly as hopped into a pair of jeans. “I need to call Michael,” he decided. “We should both be there in case something happens…”

Liz squeezed Max’s hand comfortingly, knowing there wasn’t much she could say to reassure him until his sister and her baby were both safe and healthy – and thought to be completely human.

Max smiled, grateful once again for Liz’s calming presence, and kissed her sweetly before reaching for the phone.

Across town, Michael and Maria slept soundly, arms and legs tangled together in the sheets. Maria was snuggled comfortably against Michael’s bare chest when she was jolted awake by the phone.

“Shit!” she hissed, sitting up and realizing where she was. It was probably her mother calling, demanding to know why in the hell she hadn’t come home. She sighed heavily as she groped for Michael’s phone, finding it on the floor beside the bed. "Hello?”

“Uh…Maria?”

“Max?”

Max glanced at Liz and arched an eyebrow. “Yeah, is Michael there?”

“Is something wrong? It’s like three in the morning.” She peered over her shoulder at Michael, who was now awake and rubbing his hands over his face.

“Nothing’s wrong, exactly, but…Isabel’s in labor.”

“What?” Maria squawked, causing Michael to jump to attention.

“Give me the phone, Blondie,” he muttered, pulling the receiver from her grasp. “Maxwell? What’s going on?”

“Isabel’s in labor.”

“But Jesse’s not home.”

Max rolled his eyes at Michael’s reasoning. “I know that, but I don’t think it changes things. We have to go to the hospital.”

Michael sighed and flopped back against the pillows. “What, are we going to deliver the kid ourselves? It was Isabel’s decision to have the baby at a hospital.”

“Yeah, I know.” He glanced at Liz to keep from getting frustrated. “Look, Michael, we need to be there if something weird happens. You know that.”

Michael sighed grudgingly, knowing that Max was right, and jumped when Maria grabbed the phone from him.

“Don’t be an asshole, Spaceboy,” she scolded before speaking into the receiver. “Max? We’ll be there in a little while.”

******

“Isabel Evans?” Max watched the nurse expectantly as she checked the database.

“I’m sorry, sir, there’s no Isabel Evans registered here.”

Liz could feel Max tense beside her and suggested quietly, “Try Isabel Ramirez.”

The nurse typed in the change and smiled. “Here we go. Room 317.”

Max sighed. “Thank you.” He squeezed Liz’s hand as they made their way down the hall. “Thank you, Liz. I still do that sometimes.”

“It happens, Ma- Kyle!” Liz spotted him at the end of the hallway, his head resting against the wall. “Is everything okay?”

Kyle looked up to see Max and Liz hurrying toward him. He swallowed hard, running his hand anxiously through his hair. “Thank god you’re here.”

“Oh my god.” Something had happened to his sister. Max burst into the room in a panic.

“Hi Max.”

He froze at the sound of Isabel’s voice. She sat calmly in the bed, smoothing a sheet over her legs as a nurse pulled off a pair of latex gloves. “You can come back in, Kyle,” she called.

Kyle peered around the doorway with Liz beside him. “Isabel, are you okay?” she asked in concern.

“I’m in labor,” Isabel said with a shrug. “And I’m dilated. Three centimeters.” She glanced at the nurse, who nodded in confirmation, wrote something on a chart, and left the room.

Max sat down in one of the hard chairs with a sigh of relief. “So everything’s fine, then?” he confirmed.

“So far,” Isabel nodded, leaning back against the pillows. “Jesse’s catching the next flight to Albuquerque. I’m glad you’re here, though.”

“Me too,” Kyle chimed in quickly, sinking down into the chair beside the bed.

Isabel winced suddenly, sucking in a deep breath as a contraction hit. She reached for the closest thing, which happened to be Kyle’s hand, and squeezed.

Liz turned her head away slightly as the reality of the situation hit her. Here she was, just down the hall from the room she stayed in after losing her baby. They were all here again, but this time it wasn’t because of a death. It was because of a new life.

Max watched the solemn expression on his wife’s face and felt his heart sink. He knew it; he could feel what she was thinking about, because he was feeling it too. He got to his feet and crossed the room, resting his hands on Liz’s shoulders and gazing at her seriously. “Liz…you don’t have to stay,” he murmured. “Michael and Maria will be here soon, and I can take you home-“

“No, Max.” She shook her head and closed her eyes for a moment. When she looked at him again, they were shining. “I want to be here for something happy this time.”

“Are you sure?” His amber eyes searched hers for any hesitation.

Liz leaned her forehead against his and kissed him gently. “I’m positive.”

*****

“This whole having a baby thing sure takes long enough.”

Maria rolled her eyes, popping a handful of Skittles into her mouth. “Michael, we’ve barely been here three hours.”

He sighed, leaning back in one of the uncomfortable waiting room chairs. “Why go through all this? Babies are little. They ought to be able to just pop right out.”

A pregnant woman shuffling down the hall shot him a dirty look and Maria shook her head, not even bothering to reply. “Here.” She handed him the bag of candy. “Eat these, maybe it’ll shut you up.”

Down the hall, Isabel was panting through another strong contraction. When it passed, she fell back against the pillows, not even noticing Kyle wincing as he flexed his battered fingers. How did he end up with this job, anyway?

“Isabel?”

They all glanced toward the door as a smiling Serena entered the room. “I just came on duty and saw that you’re here. Congratulations.” She chuckled lightly at the tired looks all around. “Really.”

Kyle watched, transfixed, as the young blond nurse flipped through Isabel’s chart and checked the fetal monitor. She really was beautiful, even in her blue and green patterned scrubs.

“Everything’s looking great,” Serena was assuring. “When you were checked a little while ago you were almost at a six, so we could administer an epidural now.”

“No!” Max spoke up quickly, then blushed as Serena looked at him strangely. “I just…uh…Izzy’s afraid of needles. Right, Iz?”

Isabel’s brow furrowed slightly at the pointed look from her brother, but she knew he was right. The use of a needle, not to mention the effect the epidural could have on her system, was a risk she couldn’t afford to take. Lucky humans and their damn drugs. “He’s right,” she affirmed. “I really want to do this naturally, with the Lamaze and all.”

Serena nodded knowingly and glanced at Kyle. “I’m sure Kyle here is a real pro with that,” she smiled. “I heard your husband is on his way?”

Isabel nodded, shifting uncomfortably as another contraction began to take hold. “He’s flying into Albuquerque and then driving here…oh god.”

Kyle gladly let her grip his sore hand this time, knowing he had an audience. “That’s it, Iz,” he said soothingly. “Deep, cleansing breaths.”

Max and Liz exchanged a bemused look. Kyle sure had done a 180 just now.

When it was over, Isabel sat back again and rubbed her hands over her belly. “God, I hope Jesse gets here in time.”

Consulting her chart again, Serena said, “First babies tend to take a while. I think we’ve got plenty of time.”

Kyle patted Isabel’s hand and took this opportunity to shoot a look in Serena’s direction and then announce, “I’ll be here as long as you need me, Iz.”

Another glance between Liz and Max. Yes indeed, Kyle Valenti was on the prowl.

*****


Will Jesse get to the hospital in time? Will it be a normal delivery? Heck, will it be a boy or a girl? And will poor Kyle finally get some real action? All in good time, my friends...but feedback will get it faster!
posted on 6-Jun-2002 7:56:17 PM by McGees
New part! I don't have to work for the next couple of days, so there will be more ASAP. Feedback me, please!!


32b

“Mom, I know. I’m sorry, I should have called earlier. No, Mom, she’s fine. I told you, she’s not even pushing yet. We figured you and Dad ought to be able to get a good night’s sleep. Yes, Mom, I know that just because you’re going to be grandparents it doesn’t make you ancient. Okay. She’s on the third floor. Sorry, sorry, of course you remember. Okay. Bye, Mom.”

Max hit the end button on his cell phone, shaking his head as he turned to Liz. “My parents are on their way.”

“So I heard,” Liz giggled.

“Is it so bad to have waited until seven to call?” Max asked, accepting a cup of coffee from the cardboard holder in Liz’s hands. “They’ll be here for the birth. Which is more than we can say for Jesse right now.”

Liz sighed as they walked down the hall toward Isabel’s room. “At least he’s finally on the plane. The delay only set him back about an hour. Kyle, what are you doing?” she asked then, noticing him pacing back and forth outside Isabel’s door.

“They’re doing something to her water. Isabel told me to get out,” Kyle explained, taking a cup from Liz and downing a good swig.

Serena appeared in the doorway then, her brow furrowed as she flipped through Isabel’s chart.

Max noticed this. “Is something wrong?”

Startled, Serena looked up quickly. “Wrong? No, no. Ah, I just broke her water, so things should pick up pretty quickly from here. She’s almost at an eight, so she’s going to try getting some rest before she transitions and starts to push.”

“I’m not pushing until Jesse’s here,” Isabel warned from inside the room.

“Okay, Iz,” Serena called back before winking at the other three, the smile returned to her face. “I have a feeling she’ll change her mind if it comes down to that.”

“Where are you going?” Kyle asked anxiously as Serena started down the hall.

“To check on a few other patients and do some paper work in the nurses’ station. Isabel’s fine,” she assured. “Besides, Kyle, I bet you’ve got it all under control. Just remind her of her breathing.”

Kyle watched as Serena retreated down the hall; her dazzling smile, the swing of her hair, the sway of her hips, all emblazoned in his mind. Thank you, Buddha.

“Kyle?” Max peered at his friend. “Kyle?”

“Huh?”

“I said, where are Michael and Maria?”

Kyle looked at Max and Liz blankly. “I thought they were with you.”

*****

“Michael…mmm…I can’t believe we’re doing this.”

“What, having sex in a hospital bathroom?”

“That too…it’s completely unsanitary,” Maria breathed as Michael suckled on her throat. “But I just meant…doing this…while Isabel’s giving birth…she’d kill us.”

Michael grabbed Maria around the waist and lifted her onto the sink. “Not like she’s never done this before,” he mumbled, settling between her legs.

Maria moaned appreciatively as the lump in Michael’s jeans ground against her. “We don’t have much time,” she managed as she began working on his zipper.

“The door’s locked,” he reminded her, his tongue tracing the shell of Maria’s ear. Just to be safe, he extended his hand and sealed the door with a blast of alien magic. “No one will get in, trust me.”

Maria nodded, burying her face in Michael’s neck as both of his hands returned to her body. “Oh god, Michael, hurry.”

Michael’s breath was labored as he reached around and worked Maria’s shorts and panties down her hips, letting them dangle at her ankles. He choked out a muffled groan as Maria’s slender fingers reached into his boxers and retrieved his throbbing erection. “Maria,” he ground out. “Are you ready for me?”

The moan that escaped from between her lips as he pressed against her heat was all the encouragement Michael needed before he plunged into her. He braced his hands on her waist as his rhythmic thrusts increased, prompting her to lock her ankles behind him.

“Deeper…deeper, Michael, please,” she gasped, arching her back as he pumped in and out. “Yes…ohhh…oh god.”

“You’re so tight, Maria,” he breathed. “I’m close…oh god…so close…”

Maria cried out as Michael suddenly reached behind and grabbed her, lifting her up off the counter as their bodies crashed together. He threw his head back and let go, chanting Maria’s name as she shuddered over him.

“We’ll…mmm…we’ll have to do this more often,” Maria sighed, pressing her damp forehead against his.

“In a hospital bathroom?” Michael teased, rubbing his hands up and down her bare thighs.

Maria wrinkled her nose, squirming on the countertop. “Don’t remind me.”

*****

“That’s it, Isabel. This one’s almost over…that’s it.”

“Shut up!” Isabel fell back against the pillows, tossing Kyle’s hand away. “Do you want to do this?”

Kyle’s eyes widened and he raised his hands innocently. “Hell no, it’s all you.”

“Then don’t open your mouth!” she growled, licking her parched lips.

“Um…do you want an ice chip?” Kyle asked timidly.

“Why didn’t you tell me you had ice chips?” Isabel demanded, her eyes flashing. “Goddammit, Kyle, what else are you hiding from me? Drugs?”

“Uh…no…just ice chips,” he answered, quickly handing her the cup. He didn’t want her to lunge. “Serena just brought them in.”

Isabel sighed, sucking appreciatively on a cube of ice. “Thank you, Serena.”

Kyle rolled his eyes in exasperation. Sure, now she was pleasant as punch. This whole childbirth thing wasn’t even his fault, and yet here he was, taking the brunt of Isabel’s abuse while Jesse was sitting pretty on an airplane. Buddha must be having a field day with this.

Serena smiled in understanding as she glanced up from the fetal monitor. “The baby’s heartbeat is still nice and strong during the contractions, and it looks like they’re getting more intense.”

“You could say that,” Isabel confirmed dryly, rubbing her hands over her belly.

“Let’s check you real quick and see what kind of progress you’re making before the next one hits.” She glanced at Kyle. “It’ll only be a minute or so, why don’t you stay so you can coach her through it?”

“Sure.” Whatever Serena wanted. He flinched slightly as she snapped on a pair of latex gloves and lifted the sheet that was draped over Isabel’s knees. Quickly turning his head away, Kyle began to tap on the frame of her bed with his fingers.

“Kyle, what are you doing?” Isabel demanded in irritation.

“I’m just trying to distract myself,” he mumbled.

“Could you be any more annoy- oh god…oh…” Isabel sucked in a deep breath and grabbed for Kyle’s tapping hand, clenching it in hers as another contraction shot through her.

Serena smiled sympathetically, slipping the sheet back over Isabel’s legs. “Just breathe through this one, sweetie, we’ll check when it’s over.”

“Great, fantastic,” Kyle muttered through gritted teeth. Buddha was never going to hear the end of this one.

*****

Meanwhile, Phillip and Diane were conferencing quietly with Max and Liz in the waiting room.

“So everything still appears to be normal?” Phillip asked, his normally steady voice tinged with apprehension.

Max nodded firmly. “Serena hasn’t mentioned anything out of the ordinary, and one of us has been in the room almost the entire time.”

“Isabel seemed pretty confident about this,” Diane added, keeping her voice low. “She wouldn’t have opted for a hospital birth if it didn’t seem safe.”

“There’s no reason it shouldn’t be,” Liz spoke up. “She’s made it clear she wants no blood drawn from herself or the baby. It’s a little suspicious, I guess, but people do it. Serena didn’t seem very surprised.”

“Is Dr. Sinclair on call?” Diane asked.

“Since six,” Max confirmed.

“Good. I like him.” Diane nodded and got to her feet. “We’re going to head back in there, then.”

“See if Kyle needs anything,” Phillip added with a wink.

Max watched as his parents disappeared around the corner just as Michael and Maria traipsed in.

Liz arched her eyebrow. “Where have you two been?”

“Cafeteria,” Maria said quickly, smoothing her hair.

Michael cleared his throat. “Yeah, we were, ah, hungry.”

Max shook his head. “Right. I’m going to get something to drink. Liz, do you want anything?”

“Nah, I’ll just have a sip of yours,” Liz grinned, handing him some change.

Wandering down the hall in search of a soda machine, Max found himself in rather familiar territory. He took a deep breath and paused before the big glass windows of the nursery. There was a couple peering inside, exclaiming over a tiny bundle donning a blue cap. A faint smile flickered over Max’s face as he listened to them marvel over their new baby.

The father glanced over and noticed the serious young man a few feet away. Despite his gentle smile as he watched the row of newborns, his eyes held an air of anguish. He was clearly wise beyond his years.

“Which one is yours?” the wife spoke up kindly as she, too, noticed the dark haired young man.

Max looked up, startled. “Oh…none of them. My sister’s having a baby, so my wife and I are here with her.”

His wife? The kid couldn’t be much more than nineteen or twenty. “Actually most of the family is here, so…” he was saying.

The woman nodded in understanding. “It’s an exciting event.”

Max was silent for a moment, gazing in at the couple’s son. “Is this your first baby?”

The father nodded proudly. “Christopher.”

“We’re so blessed to have him,” his wife continued, beaming at her son. “After three miscarriages we’d almost given up hope…”

Kissing his wife’s forehead, the man smiled. “But Christopher here is proof. Never give up hope.”

Max swallowed hard, touching his fingers to the cool glass. “Congratulations.”

“Thank you.” The man turned to shake Max’s hand. “Tobin and Laine Somers, by the way.”

“Max Evans,” he said, returning the warm handshake.

Laine smiled. “It’s nice to meet you, Max. We were just on our way to get some breakfast, but maybe we’ll see you later? With your niece or nephew, even.”

Max nodded. “Definitely.” He watched the elated couple say goodbye to their son and then continue down the hall. Peering in the window, watched as the baby stretched his tiny arms and yawned. “Hi Christopher,” he murmured. “My niece or nephew is going to have the same birthday as you.” Max paused. “And my little boy would about your age, too. He…he’s an angel now, just like your brothers and sisters.”

Max felt a pair of arms wrap around him from behind then, and Liz’s soft voice asked, “Who’s your friend?”

Turning to his wife, he smiled. “This is Christopher. I just met his parents a few minutes ago.”

Liz nodded, slipping under Max’s arm and settling against his side. “I thought I might find you here.”

“I was just thinking.” Max pressed his lips to the crown of Liz’s head. “Gabriel would be almost four months old.” He felt Liz nod against his chest. “Do babies start sitting up then? Or teething?”

“I don’t think so,” Liz said with a slight smile. “I’m pretty sure they don’t do much except spit up and smile.”

“Oh.” Max paused thoughtfully. “He’d have your smile, you know. It would be beautiful.”

Liz was silent, squeezing his hand as they gazed in at the newborns. After a few minutes, the silence was broken as Maria came careening down the hall.

“She’s having the baby!”

“Right now?” Liz asked.

“She’s starting to push,” Maria explained.

Max sighed. “Jesse’s still a good hour away.” He turned back to the window. “Goodbye, Christopher,” he murmured before Maria yanked them down the hall.

*****

“…nine…ten,” Kyle counted beside Isabel.

Isabel grunted and fell back against the pillows. “I really don’t want to do this,” she moaned.

Serena glanced up from the end of the bed. “I know, sweetie, but this baby doesn’t want to wait.”

Sighing, Isabel cupped her hands over her round belly. “Daddy’s not here yet,” she reminded. “As soon as he gets here, come on out, but…” She groaned as another contraction took hold.

“You’re doing great, Izzy,” Diane murmured from her daughter’s other side.

“Mom,” she panted, “I have to wait…until…Jesse…”

“No talking during contractions,” Serena scolded gently. “Focus on bringing the baby down.” She pushed the stool back and stood. “I’m going to get Dr. Sinclair.”

“Is something wrong?” Max asked anxiously.

Serena patted his arm as she passed. “Nope. You’re about to become an uncle.”

As soon as the family was alone, Isabel reached for her brother. “Max, you’ve got to do something! You and Michael, you’ve got to stop the contractions so-“

“Isabel.” Max took his sister’s hand and squeezed it firmly. “You know we can’t do that. We’re not intervening at all unless something goes wrong, and even that would just be an attempt at some kind of mindwarp.”

Isabel sighed again, blowing her damp hair off her forehead. “I know, I know, but…oh god, here comes another one.” She scrunched her eyes shut as the urge to push took over her body again. “Dammit, Kyle, can’t Buddha do something about this?” she demanded.

“Sorry, Iz.” Kyle handed over his fingers to be squeezed for the umpteenth time.

“How are we doing in here?” Dr. Sinclair smiled as he walked briskly inside.

Isabel groaned in response and the rest of the family only flashed weak smiles. Her shrill cry surprised them all as she hunched forward.

“Shit,” Kyle muttered under his breath as the doctor inspected her. What was happening?

“Okay, Isabel, it’s okay,” the doctor encouraged. “The baby’s head is starting to crown. You’ll be feeling a lot of pressure now.”

Isabel nodded fiercely and she gritted her teeth until it passed. “I need Jesse,” she moaned, slumping back.

Max and Liz watched helplessly as Kyle, Serena, and Diane coached her through the next contraction. “Max, there’s got to be something you can do,” Liz whispered, her eyes filled with concern.

“Childbirth is childbirth, Liz,” he said with a sigh. “It’s a natural thing, and I can’t do anything about-“

“I mean about Jesse,” she interrupted. “Can’t you, I don’t know, figure out where he is?”

Max sighed, flinching slightly as his sister’s shrill cry pierced the air. He closed his eyes, concentrating hard.

The minutes passed. “Just a few more good, hard pushes and the head will be out,” Dr. Sinclair encouraged. “You’re doing great.”

“Oh my god, Isabel?”

All eyes turned toward the door as Jesse skidded into the room. “Iz…oh god, honey, I thought I was too late.”

“Jesse!” Isabel’s face lit up despite the fading contraction and she reached for her husband. “No, you’re just in time.”

Hurrying to her side, Jesse took her hand and pressed a kiss into her palm. “I’m so sorry, Isabel.”

Isabel shook her head, grimacing as the urge to push took over. “No, no, you’re here…oh god…oh god…”

Jesse’s brows knitted in concern at his wife’s pain. “Just remind her to breath,” Kyle informed him, patting Jesse on the shoulder. “Good luck, man.”

“Okay, anyone who’s not a Ramirez needs to step out into the waiting room,” Serena spoke up, slipping on a paper gown and handing one to Dr. Sinclair. “Mom and Dad have to concentrate.”

“Thank you so much,” Isabel breathed as her family regretfully headed toward the door.

“Did Jesse find you?” Maria asked as they spilled into the waiting room.

Max nodded, exchanging a smile with Liz. “Just in time.”

“I’m so glad he made it,” Diane said happily, squeezing Phillip’s hand. “Oh god, our little girl is about to become a mother.”

Phillip smiled, guiding his wife to a chair.

Smiling as he watched his parents, Max pulled Liz close. “How’s that for timing?” he chuckled.

Liz shook her head in amazement. “You’re incredible.” She turned as Kyle sat down beside them with a heavy sigh. “Kyle? Are you okay?”

“Am I okay? Of course I’m okay,” Kyle shrugged. “This probably sounds ridiculous, but after everything we went through…I don’t know, I was kind of hoping I’d get to be there when the kid is born.”

“Oh Kyle.” Liz grinned and threw her arms around him. “You’re going to be a great dad someday.”

“Yeah, a great dad with no use of his hands,” Kyle shot back. “So much for teaching my kids to play catch.”

Liz just rolled her eyes and laughed.

The minutes ticked by, punctuating with Michael’s insistent foot tapping. “This kid is taking forever,” he said in exasperation, silenced quickly when the rest of the room shot him a glare.

Weaving her fingers through his, Liz glanced at Max as he stared at the floor. “Do you think everything’s okay in there?” she asked quietly.

Max shrugged. “I hope so. I really hope so-“ He trailed off as Serena appeared in the waiting room doorway. The group held their breaths until her face broke into a smile. “Congratulations,” she said with a grin. “Your family has a new baby boy.”
posted on 15-Jun-2002 7:09:57 PM by McGees
Well, I decided to split this part up so that I could get the first part posted already. Work and such has been a pain and I've had a touch of writer's block to boot, but I promise I'll be back soon! Feedback, please!!


33a

“Isabel and the baby are both doing fine,” Serena announced with a smile.

“Oh, thank god,” Diane gasped, hugging Phillip tightly.

Max and Liz shared sighs of relief and a long embrace, while Michael whooped out loud as Maria threw her arms around him excitedly.

Kyle glanced around at the commotion, and before he could stop himself, he gave Serena a big hug.

Laughing in surprise, Serena patted his back. “Um…Kyle?” she ventured after a few moments. “I have to go back in…”

“Oh. Oh right.” Kyle cleared his throat and reluctantly pulled away. For a second there he’d forgotten why he got to touch her in the first place.

“Can we go in?” Phillip asked, anxious to see his daughter and new grandson.

“Of course,” Serena assured. “Just give us a few minutes to get Isabel settled.”

The group exchanged hugs again. “I wonder what his name is,” Maria spoke up.

“And if he has hair,” Diane mused. “I bet he’s got lots of Jesse’s dark hair.”

Liz reached over and squeezed her husband’s hand. “We have a nephew.”

Max nodded wordlessly, kissing Liz’s forehead. Isabel and the baby were safe.

As promised, Serena soon returned and ushered the family down the hall. Knocking on the partially closed door, she said, “You have some visitors, Isabel.”

“Come on in.” Isabel’s soft voice floated over from the bed as they trickled inside. Smiling as her family murmured over the tiny bundle in her arms, she slid aside the edge of the soft blanket.

Jesse grinned from where he sat on the bed beside Isabel as Diane and Phillip crowded on Isabel’s other side. “Meet your grandson.”

“Oh Izzy, Jesse,” Diane sighed, catching her first glimpse of the newborn. “He’s beautiful.”

Maria leaned over for a better look. “He looks like you, Iz.”

“He’s got Jesse’s hair,” Diane pointed out. “What’s there of it, anyway.”

Clenching hands, Max and Liz slowly approached the bed. Isabel glanced up and caught her brother’s eyes. “What do you think of your nephew?” she asked softly.

Max swallowed hard, managing only a nod as he gazed at the baby stirring in his sister’s arms. He was normal and healthy and safe…and real. Feeling Liz’s grip on his hand tighten, he pulled her closer and kissed the top of her head.

“What’s his name?” Michael asked then, peering over Maria.

Jesse and Isabel exchanged a smile. Reaching into the blanket to touch his son’s tiny hand, Jesse turned to the family. “This is Evan Alexander Ramirez.”

Phillip and Diane’s eyes widened with pride, and Liz put a hand to her mouth.

“It’s perfect,” Maria stated, squeezing Liz’s arm. They should have known.

“It really is,” Diane beamed. She looked down at her daughter eagerly. “Can I hold him?”

Isabel laughed. “Of course.” She carefully passed the baby to her mother, and watched as Diane and Phillip exclaimed over their grandson.

“Evan Alexander,” Diane murmured, touching the newborn’s soft cheek. “What a wonderful name.”

Kyle squeezed his way in. “You did it,” he said with a smile, leaning over to kiss Isabel’s cheek.

“Oh Kyle,” she sighed. “Thank you so much for everything.”

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you being there for my wife,” Jesse added, shaking Kyle’s hand warmly.

Isabel glanced from Evan to Kyle. “Kyle, how would you like to hold your godson?”

“My…?” Kyle trailed off, his eyes wide. Buddha could make an exception this once. “Uh…yeah. Yeah, I’d love to.” He carefully accepted the baby from Diane. “Hi Evan,” he said, grinning as the baby’s arm stretched from inside the blanket. “Check out that pitching arm,” he chuckled. “Maybe I can teach you how to play catch if your mom hasn’t permanently damaged my hand.” He paused, not noticing the dirty look from Isabel, as he inspected Evan’s arm a little closer. His otherwise flawless baby skin had a pink mark near the crook of his arm. Kyle narrowed his eyes. It looked like a tiny puncture…from a needle.

“Kyle? Kyle, it’s my turn.”

He glanced up in surprise, noticing Maria eagerly holding her arms out for the baby. He tucked Evan’s arm back into the blanket and carefully shifted him into her waiting arms.

Isabel watched in confusion as Kyle’s eyes darted around the hospital room, but was distracted by Michael as he peered at the newborn in his girlfriend’s arms.

“You know, his initials are EAR.”

Isabel rolled her eyes. “Thank you, Michael.”

“Where’s Serena?” Kyle broke in suddenly. She’d know what was going on. No use in panicking the others.

“Probably at the nurses’ station,” Isabel suggested, exchanging a look with the others.

“Right. Okay. I’ll be back.” Kyle hurried from the room before anyone could respond.

“He really has it bad for her,” Isabel marveled.

“I sure thought so,” Phillip chuckled. “You should have seen him hug her in the waiting room.”

They all laughed, and Jesse took a moment to study his brother and sister-in-law. “Max? Would you like to hold him?”

Max’s eyes widened. “I…yeah, I would,” he managed, stepping closer to Maria. He held his arms out awkwardly to accept the baby, but with Liz’s help Evan was quickly cradled comfortably in his arms.

“Hi Evan,” he began, inspecting the baby’s soft skin and tiny features. “I’m your Uncle Max, and this is your Aunt Liz.”

Liz leaned close to her husband to get a better look. “Hi there, sweetie,” she murmured. “Welcome to the family.”

The other exchanged a long look. These two were naturals.

Down the hall, Kyle pounded on the counter of the nurses’ station. “I need some service, please!”

An older nurse peered up from behind a desk. “Can I help you?”

“I need to see the files for the Ramirez baby,” he answered anxiously.

The nurse cocked an eyebrow. “We’re not authorized to give that information, sir.”

Dammit. Of course not. He was a cop’s son, for pete’s sake. There had to be a better – “Serena!”

“Hi Kyle,” Serena smiled, appearing around the corner. “Did you visit Isabel and the baby?”

Kyle swallowed hard. “Uh…yeah. Yeah, I did.”

Serena studied him curiously, her smile fading. “Is something wrong?”

“Someone took the baby’s blood.”

“What? Kyle, no, we had specific orders-“

“I’m positive,” he continued, jamming his hands in his pockets. “He has a mark on his arm, and – and isn’t it possible that another nurse did it?”

“There was only one other nurse assisting with the delivery, and I was in the room the entire…” Serena trailed off. “You know what, let me check his chart. Any procedures will be recorded there.”

Kyle drummed on the counter anxiously as Serena flipped through several charts before finding the one she was looking for. “Here we go, Evan Ramirez.” She paused for a moment, chewing on her bottom lip. “Oh my god.”
posted on 26-Jun-2002 12:33:46 AM by McGees
Thanks for the bumpage! I've really needed it, this part just did not want to come together. I'm still not entirely satisfied with it, but I think I'm just eager to keep going with the story. This part has importance, but there's other stuff I want to focus on, so...anyway. Please please please leave feedback, even though this part is a little...eh.

Ooh...a little OT, but the dj just said that "a song from Dido off the Roswell soundtrack is up next." Hopefully it's a good omen...they never mention that anymore! *big*


33b

“What’s going on?” Kyle asked, trying to fight back the panic that was threatening to take over him.

Serena bit her lip as she studied the chart, finally glancing up to meet Kyle’s eyes. “He did have some blood drawn,” she confirmed quietly. She watched as Kyle closed his eyes and braced his hands on the counter. “I – I’m so sorry. It should have been written in the chart by the first nurse and it wasn’t…Rita must have done it while I was in the waiting room with you all…it’s just – it’s procedure, Kyle, it wasn’t-“

“I know.” Kyle took a deep breath and looked up at Serena, who was still chewing anxiously on her lip. “It’s not your fault, it’s just…this is really bad, Serena.”

“I know, Kyle, when a patient makes a request like this we have to grant it or we could get a suit-“

“You have to get the blood,” Kyle broke in suddenly.

“Excuse me?”

“It can’t get to the lab,” he continued, forcing his voice to stay calm.

“Kyle, the blood was already taken, it’s already-“

“You don’t understand. The blood can’t be tested.” He looked into Serena’s green eyes, pleading with her. “Serena, please.”

Serena’s eyes filled with confusion. “Kyle, it’s probably already been…” She trailed off, seeing the dead seriousness in Kyle’s face. “I…okay. I’ll go down to the lab and see what I can do. But…Kyle, why? Why can’t it be tested?”

“I can’t explain right now,” Kyle said hastily. “Thank you, Serena. Do whatever you can.” And with that, he turned and hurried down the hall, leaving a bewildered Serena staring after him.

*****

“So you want one someday?”

Maria arched an eyebrow at her boyfriend. “Michael. We’re not talking about a puppy.”

Michael looked up from the sleeping baby in his arms. “Who said I was offering a kid either?” he defended. “I’m just saying, you’ve been oohing and aahing over him like there’s no tomorrow.” Michael paused, cocking his head. “What’s that? Your biological clock about to go off?”

“My biological clock hasn’t even started ticking yet, buddy,” Maria shot back, kicking his ankle.

Across the room, Liz exchanged a look with Max before resting her head on his shoulder and stifling a yawn.

“You’re tired,” Max observed, slipping his arms around her.

Liz nodded apologetically. “It’s been a long night.”

“I know.” Max kissed her forehead and then turned to his sister. “Hey Iz? I think Liz and I are gonna take off pretty quick.”

Isabel nodded, she herself yawning. “Go for it. I think we all need to catch up on our sleep.”

Diane smiled brightly. “Not us! We’ve got plenty of grandparent duties to attend to, don’t we Phillip?”

“Uh, we sure do,” Phillip agreed, slightly bewildered. He had a feeling these “duties” included spending lots of money.

Diane turned to the bassinet, where Michael had placed Evan with a little help from Maria. “Goodbye, precious,” she cooed. “Grandma and Grandpa love you and we’re just going to spoil you rotten!”

Nodding knowingly, Phillip kissed his daughter’s cheek and shook Jesse’s hand. By the time he’d finally led his wife through the door, Isabel was nearly asleep.

A nurse poked her head in the room then. “I’ve come to take the baby back to the nursery, if that’s okay?”

“That’s fine, Rita,” Jesse said, smiling at the other nurse who had assisted in Evan’s delivery.

“I’ll bring him back in a couple hours for his feeding,” she said, wheeling the sleeping baby out of the room.

“Kyle’s still not back yet?” Isabel asked through another yawn.

“Maybe he’s having his way with Serena in the bathroom,” Max suggested, glancing over at Michael and Maria.

Maria cleared her throat. “Well, I think that’s our cue,” she said, leaning over to give Isabel a hug.

Suddenly Kyle burst into the room without preamble. “There’s a problem.”

“What’s going on?” Max asked anxiously, his hold on Liz’s arm tightening.

“Iz, Jesse, I don’t want to panic you, but I think you should know-“

“Kyle, tell us,” Jesse demanded, gripping Isabel’s hand.

Taking a deep breath, Kyle studied the anxious parents. “They took Evan’s blood.”

“What?” Isabel nearly shot out of the bed. “But Serena knew not to-“

“It wasn’t Serena,” Kyle said quickly. “It was the other nurse, Rosa or Reba or something.”

“Rita,” Jesse supplied. “She assisted with the delivery. But how is that possible, we were here the whole-“

“It must have been right after he was born, when the doctor was finishing with Isabel and Serena came out to tell us,” Kyle explained.

Jesse cursed, clenching Isabel’s hand. “I should have been watching him the whole time-“

“Don’t do that to yourself, Jesse,” Isabel whispered, her frightened eyes filling with tears. “Oh my god, what do we do now? My baby-“

“We have to get to the blood before it gets to the lab,” Max ordered.

“That’s what Serena’s trying to do right now,” Kyle broke in, glancing around the room. “Where’s Evan?”

“He’s in the nursery,” Isabel answered, the fear again registering on her face. “Oh my god!”

Max and Michael exchanged a look. Neither spoke what they were both thinking.

Jesse, however, seemed to understand. “I’m going to get my son.”

“Take Michael with you,” Max added quickly. “Kyle and I will find Serena.”

Isabel glanced around at them, panicked. “But my baby-“

“I’m bringing him back,” Jesse soothed, swallowing thickly as he got to his feet.

“Stay with her. Don’t let her leave, just try to keep her calm,” Max murmured in Liz’s ear.

Liz nodded wordlessly, her eyes filled with fear as she watched the four men rush from the room and then turned back to Isabel, who had dissolved into tears in Maria’s arms.

*****

“I want my son.”

Michael stood beside Jesse at the nursery door, their broad shoulders creating a barrier out into the hallway, as Jesse made his demand to the surprised nurse.

“Mr…?”


“Ramirez. Jesse Ramirez. My son is Evan, and I want him in my wife’s room.” He flashed his identification bracelet, the one that matched Isabel’s and Evan’s, and prepared to retrieve his son himself if this nurse didn’t get moving.

Michael’s hand rested on his arm, reminding him to keep cool as the nurse studied the plastic bracelet. The baby was fine, they’d seen him through the glass window, but he couldn’t let Jesse’s behavior become too suspicious.

“Um…alright, Mr. Ramirez, that’s fine,” the nurse replied hesitantly, eyeing the two men as she began to close the door. “Wait right here and I’ll bring him out to you.”

Turning, Jesse braced his hands against the wall and dropped his head. “Do you think she already knows something?”

Unsure of how to reply, Michael merely reached out and awkwardly patted Jesse’s shoulder.

After a moment, the nurse wheeled the bassinet through the door to Jesse. “Here he is.” She paused. “Sir, he’s perfectly fine in the nursery. If your wife needs time to recuperate-“

“She’s fine,” Jesse barked, inspecting his son before wheeling him down the hall. He and Michael entered Isabel’s room to find her sobbing in Maria’s arms.

Her head shot up at the sound of her baby fussing. “Oh my god…Jesse, is he okay?”

Jesse scooped the bundle into his arms. “He’s fine, sweetheart. He’s fine,” he assured, sitting beside his wife and allowing her to take the baby.

“Shhh…I’m here, Evan. No one will take you away from me, I promise,” Isabel whispered, holding her son close.

Liz stepped back a little, watching the scene with tears in her eyes. She knew Isabel’s panic all too well…she only hoped their fear would be short lived, that they could stop disaster before it struck again.

*****

Max and Kyle got off the elevator and strode down the hall, their hurried pace startling the physicians they sidestepped as they made their way toward the lab.

“She said it’s down this way,” Kyle said, ducking into a small corridor as Max looked over their surroundings.

“We’re too obvious,” Max mused. He cast another glance around and then waved his hand over himself.

Kyle watched as scrubs and a doctor’s coat appeared on his friend’s body and then glanced down at his own street clothes. “A little help here?”

Max waved his hand over Kyle and produced a matching set of scrubs before he peered out into the hall again. “Let’s go.”

Pushing through a set of double doors into the dimly lit room, Max waited as his eyes adjusted. “Over here,” he said, spying another set of doors that led into the lab.

“Serena’s in there, she’ll-“

“We can’t wait for Serena,” Max reminded harshly. “If she finds anything out of the ordinary we’re as good as-“

“Kyle!”

Serena’s eyes shot toward the door in surprise, taking in Kyle and Max’s new attire. “What are you-“

“Where’s the blood?” Max demanded.

She sighed. “Max, I’m so sorry. I don’t know how this happened, I assumed it was written on the chart-“

“Where is it?” he repeated, stepping closer to the bewildered nurse.

“Max.” Kyle placed a hand on Max’s shoulder. “Serena, is it here?”

“Kyle, you shouldn’t be here,” Serena reminded. “I told you I’d take care of it. If we get caught-“

“Serena,” Max began through clenched teeth. “What we’re looking at here is more than just a lawsuit. Evan’s life is at stake, and if-“

“It’s not here,” Serena interrupted. “They already filed it, and…what do you mean, his life is at stake?” she demanded, the confusion etched across her pretty features.

“Dammit,” Kyle hissed under his breath. “Serena, who filed it?”

She shrugged. “Kyle, I don’t know. The lab technician, I’d assume, who luckily for all of us isn’t here right now-“

“Is his chart upstairs already?” Max asked, cursing when Serena nodded. He’d have to change the results before anyone else saw them. “We have to get that file.”

The three made their way back to the maternity ward quickly, with Serena leading the way to the nurse’s station.

“Rita, where’s the file for the Ramirez baby?” she asked, leaning over the counter toward the older nurse.

Rita looked up, eyeing Max and Kyle in their scrubs. “Who are you?” she asked skeptically.

“They’re with me,” Serena said hastily. “Med students. Where’s the file?”

“I didn’t hear anything about med students,” Rita mused thoughtfully. “Look, I haven’t seen the file. It got sent straight to the nursery. Why?”

Serena glanced at Max for help, and he shook his head slightly. “Um…thank you,” she said hastily as Max and Kyle were already on their way down the hall. Hurrying to catch up, she said, “You two can’t go in there! I don’t know where you got the scrubs, but you’re not authorized, and-“

“Please, just find the file,” Max said, his eyes pleading with her.

“We’ll wait here,” Kyle added as they halted before the nursery.

Serena nodded slowly, eyeing them both. “What are you looking for?” she asked finally. “I’m just…I’m trying to understand why this is so urgent.”

“I’ll explain,” Kyle said quickly. Anything, if she would just get that file. “Please.”

She studied him for a moment and then nodded again. “I’ll be right back,” she said finally, ducking into the nursery.

Kyle glanced at Max. “I didn’t know what else to say, I just-“

Max closed his eyes and nodded. “I know. We’ll…we’ll think of something.”

They both jumped to attention when Serena reappeared, paging through the chart. “Evan’s completely fine,” she said, studying the results. “I don’t know what you were so concerned about-“

Max grabbed the file from her, his eyes scanning it in disbelief. “Red and white count normal, type O positive…” He trailed off, trying to hide his shock as it registered. Evan’s blood was completely human.

“I don’t believe it,” Kyle muttered, studying the baby’s chart. How was that possible?

“You don’t believe what?" Serena asked in frustration. A sudden beeping sounded, and she reached for her pager. “Delivery. I have to go.” She studied both young men evenly. “Look, I don’t know what’s going on, but I would suggest you stop sneaking around. You’re going to get all of us in trouble, and I can’t afford to lose my job.” She snatched the file from Max and headed down the hall.

Max grabbed Kyle’s arm before he could start after her. “Kyle. Let it go, okay? We have to tell the others.”

Kyle nodded grudgingly, knowing Max was right, and trudged down the hall after him. All five looked up as they stepped inside, closing the door behind them.

“Max?” Isabel watched her brother anxiously, holding Evan close.

“We’re okay,” Max announced quietly.

Michael narrowed his eyes. “’Okay’?” he repeated.

Sliding his arm around his wife, Max nodded. “His blood is normal.”

“Normal as in human?” Jesse asked, glancing down at his son.

“But that’s not…it’s not possible…is it?” Isabel stared at Max in disbelief.

Kyle shrugged. “We saw the results with our own eyes.”

Isabel’s shoulders slumped in relief, and she leaned against her husband for support. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Thank you, Liz repeated, closing her eyes in a silent prayer. She looked up at her husband, who offered her a tight-lipped smile, and then arched an eyebrow as she realized he and Kyle were both decked out in scrubs. “So is it Dr. Max now?”

*****

Liz wrapped herself in her robe, grateful for a shower after their nearly twelve hour stint at the hospital, and padded down the hall to the bedroom. She was surprised to see Max pacing, thinking he had fallen asleep when he failed to join her in the shower. One look at his face, though, and Liz’s disappointment turned to concern.

“Max.” Liz rested a hand on his shoulder and gently turned him to face her as he began another round toward the window. She studied the dark circles under his eyes and the lines creasing his brow and reached up to touch his cheek. “Hey. You’re exhausted.”

Max swallowed, closing his eyes at his wife’s touch. “I just…I can’t stop thinking.”

“He’s fine, Max,” Liz reminded softly. “Evan, Isabel…everyone’s fine.”

Shaking his head slightly, Max suddenly crushed Liz’s body to his. “I’m sorry,” he breathed, tangling his fingers in the damp hair at the nape of his neck. “I’m so sorry.”

“Max, what…” Pulling away slightly, Liz gazed up into his face. Her heart nearly broke at the sight of her husband, head bowed, tears dancing on the fringe of his lashes. “Max,” she sighed, resting her hands on both sides of his face. “Talk to me. Please?

Max looked down at her, his shoulders slumped in defeat. “Why couldn’t I have protected him, Liz?” His eyes adopted a haunted glaze. “I should have paid more attention…I shouldn’t have left you that morning.” Liz tried to interrupt, but Max pressed on. “What kind of man am I if I can’t save my own child?”

Taking his trembling hands in hers, Liz kissed his palms. “You saved me, Max,” she reminded, her voice so soothing and full of love that it floored him. “And our future children.”

Max’s hands tightened around hers. “Our…?”

“You know that, Max. If you hadn’t done what you did, we might not even have another chance.”

Max nodded faintly, and Liz continued. “You are an amazing man, Max Evans. You will be an amazing father someday.” She paused, tilting her face up to his with a shy smile. “You’re already an amazing husband.” Leaning forward, she kissed him tenderly and then led him to their bed.

They curled up together atop the rumpled sheets, Liz folded tightly in Max’s embrace. “Naptime, Uncle Max,” she yawned, tapping his chest just as she drifted off.

Max smiled slightly into her hair. Leave it to Liz – Aunt Liz – to calm him into sleep.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 26-Jun-2002 12:42:01 AM ]
posted on 29-Jun-2002 12:53:32 PM by McGees
Thanks for the bumps and feedback! I love reading all your ideas and suspicions. *tongue* And lookie, a new part...it's a little short, but that's because we're about to skip ahead and I needed to finish off a few things first. I'm really looking forward to writing the next part...I'll get that out as soon as I can!

34

“No…it needs to be higher. Michael, move your side up a little.” Liz studied the banner Max and Michael were hanging across the Ramirez living room.

Michael raised his arm a bit more, focusing the blast of energy as Liz stood back behind them, inspecting their work. “Is that better?”

“Perfect.” Liz nodded in satisfaction as the front door opened.

“Hello hello!” Diane chirped, holding out a casserole dish. Phillip was right behind her, loaded down with more baby goodies. “They’re not here yet, are they? I didn’t see Jesse’s car.”

“Nope, Kyle just left,” Max said, helping with some of the bags. Kyle was driving Jesse’s car home and letting them drive his because Isabel’s car was getting a quick tune-up and, well, Jesse’s tiny convertible wasn’t very conducive to a new baby.

Liz eased the casserole from her mother-in-law. “This smells great. Maria and Jesse’s mom are in the kitchen cooking up a storm, so they should be set for days.”

“Well, I made enough that it should last,” Diane assured. “I know how you all love my fritatta.” Smiling brightly, Diane followed Liz into the kitchen.

“There should be plenty left over,” Max muttered under his breath, exchanging a look with his father.

*****

“All checked out,” Jesse announced.

Isabel looked up from where she was dressing Evan on the bed and smiled. “Did you hear that, sweetie?” she cooed. “It’s time to go home.”

Kyle smiled at the new family and slung Isabel’s bag over his shoulder. “I’ll start bringing this stuff out to your car, Jesse.” He headed down the hall, swinging the bag at his side, and proceeded to collide with the woman coming around the corner.

Serena gasped as her coffee splashed over the front of her scrubs. “Kyle!”

“I’m so sorry,” Kyle apologized, reaching into his back pocket and pulling out a worn bandana.

She grabbed his hand as he reached out to dab at her. “I’ve got it,” she said pointedly. “I’ve had worse on me before. And anyway, I just finished my shift.”

“Look, can I buy you another cup of coffee or something?” Kyle offered.

Serena glanced at her watch. “I really should get going-“ She paused for a moment, eyeing Kyle. “You know what, that would be fine.”

They made their way down to the cafeteria in silence. After paying for their drinks, Kyle led Serena to a small booth and cleared his throat. “So…”

“So why don’t you explain to me what happened the other day.” Serena looked up at Kyle, swirling cream into her coffee.

Kyle took up a sudden interest in his soda straw. “What about it.”

“What’s wrong with Isabel?” Serena asked bluntly.

“Isabel?” Kyle’s head shot up. “Nothing’s wrong with Isabel.”

“Then explain the glowing amniotic fluid,” Serena shot back, her voice low.

“The glowing – Serena, I thought this was about the blood,” Kyle managed, nearly sloshing his soda out of the cup in agitation. What was she talking about?

Serena caught his eye, holding his gaze evenly. “Kyle, I had the day off yesterday, and this is all I’ve been able to think about. I know I wasn’t imagining it. When I broke her water, the fluid had this…this sheen to it. It was glowing, there’s no other way to describe it. And so…so I figured there had to be some medical reason for it. Right? I mean, I’ve only been out of school for sixteen months, maybe I haven’t seen everything yet-“

“Who did you talk to about it?” Kyle interrupted, his heart pounding.

“No one,” Serena admitted. “I figured I’d sound ridiculous, so I…I spent all day researching it.”

“What did you find?” Kyle asked quietly.

“What do you think.” Serena stirred her coffee distractedly. “Nothing. And it just makes me more confused.” She paused for a moment. “So help me out here, Kyle.”

Kyle cleared his throat. “I’m not sure what you’re looking for,” he answered carefully.

“But I think you do. That’s why you were so concerned about the blood. I’m not stupid, Kyle, I-“

“I know you’re not stupid,” Kyle interrupted. “It’s just…it’s complicated, Serena. And it’s really not my place to-“

“Not your place?” Serena looked at him incredulously. “Kyle, you’re the one who was prowling this hospital in scrubs trying to hunt down a newborn’s blood. It may be complicated, but it’s sure as hell your place to tell me what it’s all about when my job could have been on the line!” She paused, lowering her voice. “Look, I know taking the baby’s blood in the first place was against their wishes, but…I broke hospital policy for you. And I want an explanation.”

“Serena, I know. I know you did, and I wish I could tell you more, but…there’s really nothing more to say,” he replied helplessly.

After studying him for a long moment, Serena cleared her throat and got to her feet. “Fine,” she clipped, snatching her coffee from the table. “Thank you for the coffee.” And with that, she turned on her heel and walked away.

Kyle stared after her, cursing under his breath. He slowly pushed back the chair and got to his feet. Well, at least his godfather record was still clean.

*****

Little Evan Ramirez was welcomed home by a houseful of family – and two baby-hogging grandmas. It was only when the food was on that Diane relinquished him to his bassinet. While he slept, the rest of the group took advantage of the warm late afternoon sun on the back deck.

“Look, Iz, Mom made her fritatta,” Max informed his sister as they loaded their plates.

Hiding her grimace with a bright smile, Isabel chirped, “Oh Mom, you shouldn’t have.”

“That’s what I said,” Phillip muttered.

Diane smiled, oblivious. “Well, I know how you kids love your spicy food.” She glanced over as Jesse’s mother took a helping of the concoction. “Be careful, it’s really hot.”

Mrs. Ramirez nodded knowingly. “Ah, my grandmother was one of northern Mexico’s greatest cooks. I’m sure I’ve had hotter.”

As they settled into lawnchairs, Isabel glanced over at Kyle. “Hey, will Toby be done with my car by tomorrow afternoon, Kyle?”

Kyle looked up from his plate, startled. “Huh?”

“Oh Iz, honey, I can pick up anything you need,” Diane spoke up. “You just got home, don’t worry about running errands. I can go to Albertson’s for diapers, or-“

“Mom, it’s fine, okay? I don’t mind,” Isabel insisted. “So what do you think, Kyle?”

“Uh…actually, you could probably find cheaper diapers at Shop-and-Save.”

“Kyle. I was talking about my car.”

“Right, I know,” Kyle muttered, ignoring the looks from the others. “I could probably bring it over by two.”

“That would be great.” Isabel paused as the sound of Evan fussing could be heard over the baby monitor perched on the table, and started to ease out of her chair.

“I’ll get him,” Kyle spoke up, eager for a, well, a distraction from his distraction. With that, he was inside and on his way to Evan’s nursery. It was clearly the work of Isabel, meticulously organized and decorated in soft shades of yellow – appropriate for whatever gender the baby decided to be, Isabel had explained. He scooped the whimpering newborn up, holding him against his broad chest as he’d been learning to do over the past couple of days.

“I bet you were lonely, huh,” he said, walking in slow circles as the baby’s cries subsided. “Your Uncle Kyle knows what that’s like.” He paused, easing into the rocking chair. “Yeah. And there’s this pretty lady, Serena – you’ve met her – and she’s really hot. Don’t you think? The blonde hair, and the way she flips it back over her shoulder…and those green eyes…I was really hoping to get to know her better. But then a lot of stuff happened, and now it’s not looking so good.”

He smiled down at Evan, whose sleepy eyes were struggling to focus. “But stuff happens, you know? And…and hey, as long as you’re safe, that’s all that counts. Means I’ve done my job.” Kyle was quiet for a moment, the only sounds the creak of the rocking chair and Evan’s soft breathing. “I was worried I might slip today, though. She knows something’s not right, and part of me really wanted to tell her the truth. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t put your family – you – in danger.” Evan yawned, and Kyle chuckled. “You’ll understand before too long.”

“Ahem.” Isabel peeked inside, clearing her throat. “Hi there,” she smiled, holding up the monitor.

“Oh, you’re kidding,” Kyle groaned, realizing that his heart-to-heart with Evan had been broadcast to the whole patio. “You knew, didn’t you,” he grumbled to the baby.

Stifling her laughter, Isabel crossed the room and took her son from Kyle. “Time to eat,” she cooed, switching off the monitor. “Kyle, will you hand me that blanket?”

“Uh, sure,” he said, averting his eyes from Isabel as she settled into the rocker and began to unbutton her nursing top. “I’ll just, uh, go back outside.”

“Stay here for a minute?” Isabel draped the blanket over her shoulder and chest. “Is that better?” she asked with an amused smile.

“Yeah,” he answered quickly. “I mean…breast-feeding is the most natural thing in the world, and I’m glad you’re embracing it.”

Isabel arched an eyebrow. “Thanks for your support, Buddha.” She paused, flinching a little as Evan tugged. “So. Care to share with me what you were sharing with my son?”

Kyle folded his arms, frowning at the monitor. Sneak. “Did you see Serena at all?”

“No, not really. She’s more labor and delivery than postnatal care. What did you tell her?”

“Nothing,” Kyle admitted. “I tried to convince her it was nothing, but…I’m pretty sure she didn’t buy it.”

Isabel nodded thoughtfully as she rocked back and forth. “Should we be concerned?”

Kyle shifted uncomfortably. “I’m not sure. I don’t really think so.”

“Well, Evan’s blood is normal, thank god, and nobody got any needles near me, so it’s not as if she can prove anything,” Isabel said decidedly. “I think we need to just keep our cool and consider ourselves lucky things turned out the way they did.”

“You’re keeping awfully calm about this,” Kyle observed.

“I’m probably on my last full night of sleep for months,” Isabel said with a wry smile. “Ask me again in a few days.”

*****

“My mom is crazy.”

Liz smiled, pulling her nightshirt over her head. “Why’s that?”

Max unbuckled his belt, his shorts pooling around his ankles. “The whole grandma thing. She’s going to drive Isabel nuts in no time,” he replied, stepping out of his shorts and tossing them into the hamper.

“Probably,” Liz giggled. “I think it’s just how grandma’s are, though. My mom said Grandma Claudia stayed for almost four months when I was born. She and my dad thought my first word would be ‘anthropology.’ Anyway, I think Isabel will hold her own. And she won’t let on even if she isn’t.”

Max chuckled, lying back on their bed. “Not a chance. But it probably won’t hurt that Jesse’s mom is staying for a few days.”

“I know,” Liz agreed, climbing onto the bed and leaning against the pillows before she burst out laughing. “Oh my god, did you see the look on that poor woman’s face when she got a taste of the fritatta?”

“She chugged her glass of water in one gulp,” Max guffawed. “Poor Mom…she really tries, but she’s just not Martha Stewart.”

Liz curled up closer to Max. “Do you think Kyle’s okay?”

“Kyle? Yeah, why?” Max asked, lacing his fingers through hers.

“He was so quiet today…”

“I think Isabel talked to him. If something was wrong, they’d tell us.” He kissed the top of her head. “Okay?”

Nodding, Liz snuggled against her husband’s chest. “He’s cute, huh?”

“Who, Kyle?”

Liz shoved him playfully. “Evan.”

Max grinned, ruffling Liz’s hair. “Yeah. He’s so little.”

“He looks so much like Isabel,” Liz mused, shifting so that her head was resting in Max’s lap. To her surprise, Max was silent for a minute. “Max?”

“He’s a direct part of her,” he said finally. “I mean, technically…being hybrids, we don’t have any direct relatives.” Max paused, threading his fingers through the hair at Liz’s temple. “Iz and I were lucky…we always knew what it was like to have a family, so it wasn’t such an issue. But Michael…”

“He never had that,” Liz finished quietly.

Max nodded. “He’s never really talked about it, but I think having children is really important to him.”

Liz giggled. “Hopefully Maria’s pain threshold will surprise us, then.” Her smile faded after a moment and she reached up to touch Max’s cheek. “It’s important to you, too, isn’t it?”

Max sighed. “I just…I never thought about it much until Gabriel. It was so different with…with Tess and my son. It was nothing like the connection we had with our son.”

Sitting up, Liz wrapped her arms around Max and kissed him tenderly. “I love you.” She paused, her dark eyes searching his. “Someday, Max, we’ll have that again.”




[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Jun-2002 12:57:19 PM ]
posted on 4-Jul-2002 12:19:58 PM by McGees
As always, thanks for the bumps...this part came together faster than I expected, which is always a nice surprise. I hope you'll all be happy with the direction it's headed. However, "My Heart is Staying Here" has been a bit neglected lately, so I'm going to try to get a bit more of that done first.

Anyway, in honor of the 4th of July, some early fireworks for ya'll...

35

Summer quickly faded into fall, and with it brought plenty of changes; new classes, Michael’s start at the community college, and – much to his parents’ delight – Evan sleeping through the night.

Max and Liz were adjusting to their new schedules as well, between work and classes. Max was promoted to assistant manager at the UFO Center in mid-September. Brody’s ex-wife had recently moved to Artesia, and he wanted to make the most of his joint-custody time with Sydney. Despite a more hurried pace compared to the summer, all was well in Roswell – except for the one day that loomed ahead.

Max knew it even before he opened his eyes that morning. Today was the day. He reached over to touch Liz and found the bed beside him empty. And then he heard her.

“God dammit!” Liz hopped into the bedroom, pulling on a pair of jeans. She rifled through the closet, cursing under her breath.

Watching his wife quietly for a moment, Max finally sat up. “Liz?” he ventured.

She jumped in surprise. “Max, I think somebody stole my blue shirt from the dryer downstairs,” she informed him. “That’s the last time we leave a load in overnight.”

Max rubbed his eyes, slowly getting to his feet. “Which blue shirt?” he asked calmly. “The one that buttons up the front and has that pocket –“

“Yes, and if I ever catch someone else in this building wearing it-“

“Didn’t you lend it to Maria last week?”

Liz paused. “Oh. I guess I did.” She sighed, returning to the closet and retrieving a black sweater. Pulling it over her head, she said, “I didn’t mean to wake you. I couldn’t sleep and I was finishing up a paper –“

“It’s okay,” Max interrupted gently. He pulled his wife into a hug and kissed the top of her head. “I’ll make some coffee.”

He was just pouring two fresh mugs when he heard Liz again. “God dammit ," came her voice, followed by a loud thumping.

“Liz?” Max followed her voice to the living room, where she was pounding furiously on the printer. “Jammed again?”

“Of course.” Liz moved aside as Max set the mugs down and held his hand up to the printer. There was a moment of glowing, and then the paper began to feed through.

“Thanks.” She reached for a mug and took a sip, closing her eyes for a moment.

Max studied his wife in concern. “Liz, maybe you should stay home from class this morning-“

“No.” Liz’s eyes flew open. “That’s the last thing I should do. I need to stay busy.” She set her mug down, and before she or Max could react, it tipped and sloshed the dark liquid all over the printed paper.

That did it. Liz burst into tears, bracing her hands on the edge of the desk as her body shuddered with sobs. “I’m sorry,” she managed. “It’s just…It’s today, and…it’s still so hard sometimes.”

Max pulled her into his arms, rubbing a soothing hand up and down her back. “I know, love,” he whispered. He held her close and stroked her hair as her tears soaked into his t-shirt.

Liz’s tears eventually subsided into sniffles, and she slowly pulled away. Surveying the mess on the desk, she mumbled, “I’ll get some paper towels.”

But Max held her tight, directing his hand toward the spilled coffee. Liz watched as it disappeared. “Thanks,” she whispered. “Hey, don’t you have to open at the center today?”

“Brody told me to take the day off,” Max explained, framing her face in his hands. “I wanted to be with you this morning.”

Liz nodded, swallowing hard. “I’m glad.”

Smiling faintly, Max touched the tip of her nose. “Does that mean you’ll stay and join me for breakfast?”

“Does that mean you’re cooking?” Liz shot back.

“Blueberry pancakes?”

“You’re on.” Sharing a quick kiss, Liz and Max joined hands and headed for the kitchen.

*****

“I didn’t realize how difficult this would be until Mom had to go into the office at the last minute,” Isabel said, juggling a backpack, diaper bag, baby carrier, and Evan as she struggled to unlock her car.

Max set his books on the roof of the car and took the gurgling baby from his sister. “He was great.”

“Thanks. Yeah, but I still don’t think the professor appreciated it.” Isabel blew a strand of hair off her forehead and began tossing her things into the car. “So Liz went to her classes this afternoon?”

“Yeah. I didn’t want her to, she’s been so stressed out,” Max said, lifting his nephew against his shoulder.

“Well of course she’s going to be stressed, it was a year ago today,” Isabel pointed out as she struggled with Evan’s car seat.

“Hey kids,” came Maria’s voice. She jogged across the parking lot, bag slung over her shoulder. “Max, how’re you doing?” she asked, poised to hug him until she saw the baby. “Oh hello, mi bebe precioso,” she cooed, kissing the top of Evan’s now nearly hairless head.

“Maria, have you see Liz yet?” Max asked, passing the baby to her.

“We just met for lunch. She’s on her way to class,” Maria informed him, tickling Evan’s tummy. “She’s okay, Max, I promise.”

Isabel smiled in triumph as she snapped Evan’s car seat into place. She ducked out, cursing as she hit her head on the door frame. “Maria, can you load him in? We both need to go home and take a nap,” she sighed.

“You know what ya’ll need?” Maria bent to fasten Evan inside. “Max, reach into my bag.”

Max did as he was told, retrieving a bright green flyer. “This?”

“Yes.” Straightening, Maria pointed out the bold headline. “Zero Gravity. It’s a new eighteen-and-over club on the north side. Dancing, karaoke bar, virgin cocktails,” she added, arching an eyebrow. “Yours truly is singing there on Friday night, and you’re all coming with.”

Max and Isabel exchanged looks. “Liz and I aren’t really into that kind of thing,” Max replied.

Maria rolled her eyes. “Calm down, you sound like I’m suggesting a menage a trois. And Isabel, you used to do clubs sometimes.”

“I have a baby now,” she reminded.

“So let Grandma and Grandpa babysit for the night.” She sighed. “Come on, guys, it’ll be fun. And it’s the only way I’ll be able to talk Michael into going.”

Max hesitated. “Liz has to work Friday night.”

“Not anymore,” Maria announced smugly. “Mr. P. is giving her the night off. He thinks she needs some fun, too.”

Isabel was still considering this. “I’ll have to talk to Jesse…”

“Remind him that there will be plenty of designated drivers,” Maria said wisely.

“And I’d have to check with Mom and Dad…”

“Iz, you know Mom would love to take Evan for the night,” Max reminded.

“Alright, then what’s your excuse?” Isabel demanded.

Maria waved her hand. “He doesn’t have one. And Liz already agreed for the both of them, so it doesn’t matter anyway.”

Max sighed. He hated when those two conspired against him. “Well, I guess if Liz wants to go…”

“Yay!” Maria clapped her hands together. “We’re going shopping tonight after dinner. Isabel, do you want me to pick you up?”

Isabel considered this. “Jesse’ll be home early, so…sure, why not?”

Max shook his head. Whatever made Liz happy.

*****

"Liz, we're supposed to meet them there in twenty minutes and we still have to pick up Iz and Jesse."

"I'm almost ready," Liz called, leaning toward the vanity mirror as she applied her lipstick. Max appeared in the doorway, his image reflected in the mirror.

"You're awfully eager for someone who didn't want to go in the first place," she teased, eyeing her husband. He looked incredibly sexy in all black, from his black slacks to the short sleeve, button-up black shirt that clung to his shapely arms and chest.

Max leaned against the doorframe and smirked at his wife. "The sooner we go, the sooner we can get back and..."

Liz arched a suggestive brow at him in the mirror. "Hmmm." She got to her feet and spun around once. "What do you think?"

"I think..." Max's eyes traveled up and down the length of her body, taking in the black pants that clung to each sexy curve, and the tiny...very tight...backless crimson top that appeared to be held in place only by a string. Her hair fell in loose waves over her shoulders, just as it had at their junior prom, and she was...stunning. "I think maybe we should just skip the club," he said finally, his mouth dry.

"Slick," Liz giggled, brushing past him and leaving him with a slight whiff of her perfume. God, she was sexy. He glanced down at his suddenly constrictive pants and hoped he'd be able to keep his cool tonight.

*****

Maria took a deep bow, then grin plastered across her glistening face, before scurrying down the stairs and into the crowd.

"Maria, you were fantastic!" Liz exclaimed, pulling her best friend into a hug. And it was true, Maria had been a hit; singing a few old Cher and Blondie covers for the bustling crowd of young adults.

"That's my girl," Michael said proudly, wrapping his arm around Maria's waist. He knew he was being possessive, but he didn't care. After that performance, and in that tiny green top to boot, he knew plenty of guys had their eye on her. Mine, mine, mine.

Jesse grinned as an old Enrique Iglesias tune started. "Looks like no one was brave enough to follow that up."

"That's because no one can match his sexy voice," Isabel shot back, grabbing her husband's hands. "Come on, we're dancing."

Maria nodded smugly. Just as she'd expected, they were all having a great time. Even Kyle, who had come solo but had already scored several dances.

Liz and Max, of course, saw only each other. Their hips swayed together, and as the chorus started, Liz began grinding against him in time with the beat. Max responded in kind, his hands roaming eagerly over her hips.

If you feel like leaving, I'm not gonna make you stay
But soon you'll be finding
You can run, you can hide, but you can't escape my love


Smiling up at him, Liz's own roving hands came to rest on his butt. She squeezed through the fabric of his slacks, making Max's heart accelerate.

He licked his lips, sliding his hands from Liz's hips. He drew her sharply against him, rubbing her over his growing arousal. Liz gasped at the feel of him through the material of their pants, but never stopped her gyrations against him. It was a rare occasion when Max Evans could be found grinding on a dance floor, but Liz was going to take full advantage.

Max's breath hissed out between his lips as the feel of Liz's body against him shrouded him in desire. Her hair bounced over her glistening shoulders and the column of her neck, and her cheeks were flushed from the heat of the bodies on the floor around them, and from...from Max himself. He gazed down at Liz, utterly captivated by her sensuality.

Liz's eyes scanned Max's face. She watched as a trickle of sweat ran down from his temple and balanced precariously at the edge of his strong jaw. Leaning forward, she captured it with her tongue.

Max let out a low growl, his groin tightening as Liz lapped at his sweaty jaw and lower, suckling on his damp neck.

"Liz," he ground out, pulling her up against his body.

Though she could barely hear him over the pounding bass, she felt the vibration from his throat against her mouth and trailed her lips up his jaw. "What is it, baby?" she purred into his ear.

"You...I'm getting so hot," he breathed, rubbing her more insistently over his hard body.

"Me too." The evidence was already pooling in her panties. "I wish you could feel how hot I am for you," she cooed.

Baby you can run, baby you can hide, but you can't escape my love

The rhythm of their hips was now their own as they ground against one another. Max abruptly spun her around, his hardness pressing into the small of her back. Liz's hands ran over her body once before she grabbed Max's hands in her own and guided them from her hips. They slid dangerously close to her breasts, teasing her, before moving back.

Liz's hips were gyrating at a furious pace, reveling in the feeling of Max pressing against her. Her mouth opened in a breathy gasp as his hands began to move again.

His palms rubbed slow circles over the tops of her thighs before one slid between her legs. Her back arched, urging him to cup her in his hand. Lolling her head back against his shoulder, she panted, "Oh god, Max, touch me."

Max hesitated only for a moment before he grabbed Liz's hand and led her through the crowd. They hurried right past Isabel, who was making her way up to the dj table. She made her request, and the dj grinned and nodded.

Isabel headed back to Jesse, who was at the bar sipping a Corona. Kyle spotted them and slid down a few stools, tossing a dollar onto the bar table. Isabel arched an eyebrow at him.

"Coke, please," Kyle told the bartender before returning Isabel's pointed look.

Jesse toasted him with his bottle. "So, Valenti, how are the ladies tonight?"

Kyle smirked, nodding out toward the dance floor. "See the brunette in the little black number? Twenty-five year old pharmacist. She and a bunch of her hospital buddies are here tonight, and she totally wants me."

Jesse nodded his approval, and Isabel bit back the urge to tell Kyle that she was too old for him. She knew it was hypocritical, but...it was different somehow. Oh well. She waited patiently for the song to end, a slow smile crossing her face as the dj took the microphone.

"We have a request from one of the lovely ladies in the crowd tonight. Jesse, this is for you."

Jesse looked up at his wife questioningly, his smile matching hers as he recognized what she'd requested.

Kyle resisted the urge to gag as Jesse led Isabel out onto the floor, taking her into his arms. He turned back to the counter, trying to block out Shakira with the sounds of the bar.

“Hi.”

Startled, Kyle turned as Serena sat down at the stool beside him. “Uh…hi.”

“You’re a little young to be drinking, aren’t you?” she asked, taking a sip of her martini.

“Oh. It’s Coke,” Kyle explained, wincing at the blow to his ego.

“So you met Adrian, huh?” Serena continued, tossing her blonde hair over her shoulder and giving Kyle a view of her long, graceful neck…that he could just imagine tasting…

“Huh? Oh. Yeah, yeah, I did,” Kyle stammered. “So…out with the girls tonight?”

“You got it. It’s been one of those days.” Serena placed the toothpick from her glass between her teeth and slid off the olive. “The guy I’ve been seeing for the past month dumped me this morning. Called me at work, the bastard.”

“That hurts,” Kyle sympathized.

“Eh. Guys and baggage.” Serena shrugged and waved the bartender over. “Another martini, please. And could I get two olives?” she asked, flashing a bright smile. “Kyle, you want anything?”

“Uh…no thanks,” Kyle answered. It appeared she’d been drinking enough for the both of them.

Underneath your clothes there's an endless story
There's the man I chose, there's my territory


Max strode purposefully down a less crowded hallway as Liz gripped his hand in eager pursuit. He glanced around quickly before pushing open the door to the ladies room and pulling Liz inside.

Scanning the room and under the three empty stalls, Max nodded in satisfaction and turned back to the door. Liz watched as he ran his hand over the door, sealing it shut. "Max..."

"It's okay. There's another one upstairs." And with that, he backed her against the door and fused his lips to hers.

Their tongues explored eagerly, stifled moans escaping from smothering lips. Hands explored and caressed, stroked and rubbed.

“Max…what are we…” Liz’s breathing was choppy as Max’s mouth moved over her neck, his hands sliding under her top and touching her soft skin.

“I don’t know,” he panted, but the way he was pressing into her and cupping her breasts, it was clear he knew exactly what he was doing.

And all the things I deserve for being such a good girl

Liz gasped as he sucked on the sensitive skin below her ear and pinched her nipple simultaneously. “Max…mmm…”

The sudden vibration of a knock against the door barely registered in their frenzy. The knocking became more insistent, and Max paused, resting his forehead against Liz’s as he struggled to catch his breath. He looked down, watching as Liz’s fingers began to toy with the buttons on his shirt.

“There’s another bathroom upstairs, right?” she asked coyly, unbuttoning one button and tracing the newly exposed flesh.

Max nodded, swallowing hard as she leaned closer.

“Good.” With that, Liz lifted herself up and wrapped her legs around Max’s waist, kissing him senseless. He blindly sidestepped to the row of sinks, leaning against the edge of the counter as Liz continued to grind against him.

“Mmm, Liz…god…” he managed, his hands cupping her butt and pressing her into him, hard.

Liz moaned at the feeling of his hardness grinding into her damp center. Neither heard the click of bathroom lock popping open, and it was only when Liz felt someone tap her shoulder that she broke away from Max, mortified.

“Excuse me, but these bathrooms are not to be used for this kind of activity,” the club manager said stiffly, eyeing the flushed couple who were clearly very embarrassed at being caught in such a compromising state.

Liz slid to the floor and cleared her throat. “I’m so sorry, sir-“

“I’ll have to ask you two to leave the club immediately.”

Max ducked his head and nodded, taking Liz’s hand and leading her to the door. They tried not to look at the women who had been waiting in line until someone gasped, “Oh my god, it was you two?”

Maria stared at them, her hands on her hips, and clucked her tongue. “I’m shocked.” A smirk appeared on her face. “But definitely proud.”

Liz flushed again. “Um, we’re going to get going. Could one of you give Isabel and Jesse a ride home?”

“Sure. You two ‘get going.’” Maria shooed them off toward the exit. When she made it back to the dance floor, wincing at the pair of drunk girls attempting to karaoke to Loveshack, Michael was nowhere to be found.

Cursing under her breath, she spotted Isabel and Jesse. “Have you seen Spaceboy?”

“No, but did you see Kyle and Serena?” Isabel raised her eyebrows. “She’s looking a little tipsy tonight.”

Maria’s jaw dropped. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Her eyes traveled in the direction Isabel was indicating, and sure enough, there were Kyle and Serena. They both appeared to be having a good time, but Maria was willing to bet Serena wasn’t feeling much of anything at that point.

“Uh…I found Michael,” Jesse spoke up, biting his lip.

“Huh? Where-“ Maria trailed off as she turned to the stage. There was Michael, alright, wiping the palms of his hands on his pants as he studied the karaoke screen. “Oh my god,” she muttered. “What is he doing?” She clapped her hand to her mouth as she recognized the opening notes of the song.

“She moves like she don’t care, smooth as silk, cool as air, ooh it makes you wanna cry,” Michael’s tentative tenor voice rang out. He wasn’t quite singing, but not quite talking either. “She doesn’t know your name, and your heart beats like a subway train, ooh it makes you wanna die.”

Maria slowly moved her hand away from her mouth as Michael scanned the crowd. She shook her head, grinning, as he caught her eye and winked.

“Ooh, don’t you wanna take her, wanna make her all your own.” His eyebrows crinkled as the music sped up, and he croaked out, “Mariiiia, you’ve gotta see her, go insane and out of your mind.” He cleared his throat slightly, his voice lowering an octave, and Maria sighed in relief.

“Maria, Ave Maria, a million and one candlelights…”

*****

Max and Liz had barely gotten through their front door before they began tossing clothes onto the floor. Once they were down to their underwear, Max hoisted Liz into his arms and kissed her deeply. “Bed?” he breathed.

“Mm-hm.” She giggled as Max ran into several walls and pieces of furniture before finally placing her on their bed. She stretched up to meet his lips and kissed him hungrily. After their fun at the club, Liz was fairly starving for him.

Max gently lay her back before settling down with her. His hands caressed her shoulders and then moved lower, cupping and kneading her breasts. The little noises of pleasure coming from Liz continued to stoke the fire that had been burning inside of him all night.

Liz’s fingers dragged down his back, slipping into his boxers and squeezing him before working them over his butt. He shifted, helping her pull them off, before returning to their searching kisses. Their senses were heightened, each touch sending lightning bolts through their veins as they caressed.

“Mmm…Liz,” Max groaned as she rolled them over and began stroking his erection. Her hot little hand moved up and down, working him into a frenzy of desire. His control almost destroyed, he flipped her onto her back and began caressing her inner thighs.

“Max…god…I can’t take much more,” she gasped, rotating her hips as his fingers crept closer to the place she needed him the most. She cried out in delight when his searching fingers finally slid under the elastic of her panties and sought out her wetness.

He worked two fingers into her, kissing and suckling a scorching trail along her jaw and throat. She began thrusting against his hand, trying desperately to take him deeper, trying to quench the fire that was burning inside of her. “I need more…please,” she moaned.

Max nodded, his face buried in her neck as he slowly withdrew his fingers. She lifted her hips as he slid her panties down her body, and gazed up at him. The beautiful man that was balanced over her body, his chest heaving, his eyes dark with desire, filled Liz’s heart with so much love that she thought she might burst right there. Lifting her hips again, she sought out his throbbing arousal.

Feathering tiny kisses against Liz’s brow, Max gazed down at her in awe. There were times, even now, that he still couldn’t quite believe that the breathtaking woman in his arms was his. How had he gotten so lucky? Max watched as her tongue peeked out and wet her swollen lips, and then all conscious thought flew from his head.

Liz sighed in relief when she felt Max parting her folds, testing her. “I’m so ready,” she breathed, lifting her hips to meet his and thrusting him into her body. Max emitted a sound somewhere between a growl and a moan as her tight passage sheathed him in heat.

“Ah, god, Liz,” he managed, their hips beginning to rock together. His heart was pounding so loudly he was sure she could hear, and his breath was panting almost as fast.

Breathing his name, Liz locked her ankles in the small of his back and urged him deeper. Harder. Faster. She needed him everywhere, needed him inside of her as deep as she could take him.

Max cried out in pleasure as he felt her walls squeezing him, taking him in to the hilt, and then releasing him to start again. “God, Liz…Liz…” She felt so good it was sending chills down his spine, sending a white hot fire through his veins.

Liz felt it too, felt it bubbling up inside of her, a desire so raw that it clouded every other thought from her mind. She was close…so very close…racing closer as Max continued to pound into her wanting body.

And then he was coming, exploding as her walls contracted around him, filling her with his love in long, hot spurts that left him gasping her name.

His name fell from her lips only once as he coated her, his essence burning up into her body. It was happening, she could feel it…it settled over her before their pulsing bodies ebbed into stillness.

Max took in sharp breath, the realization hitting him in the instant before the spark erupted between them. He collapsed against her, panting into her shoulder and pulling her limp form into his arms. “Liz,” he gasped, his eyes wide.

“I…oh my god…” Her head was spinning, her body humming as it slowly settled over her. “Max…”

He nodded slowly, kissing her forehead, before one hand ran down the side of their joined bodies to her abdomen. “We’re having a baby.”



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 4-Jul-2002 12:58:20 PM ]
posted on 10-Jul-2002 11:43:32 PM by McGees
Wow, thanks for all the feedback! Glad you liked the fireworks. *wink* I got some work done on the next part(s) in the car during the lovely 10 hour drive to and from the lake, so I'm planning on getting more up soon.

Also, since a few of you asked about the "anniversaries" that were going on, I thought I'd clear that up now, too. Gabriel was conceived on July 4 of 2002 (which, ironically, is when I posted this latest part) Liz miscarried in October, which was the anniversary that was mentioned at the beginning of this last part. It had been one year since she lost Gabriel, and the new Evans baby was conceived a few days later. So, basically, in story terms, we're in mid October of 2003. Hope that clears some things up! *happy*
posted on 14-Jul-2002 7:35:15 PM by McGees
Ya'll are great for being so patient! I've been in this habit of skipping around with my writing lately (and still blocked on My Heart, unfortunately). But hopefully that will prove to be a good thing, because the future parts that are already started won't take so long to finish!

Here's the new part, please feedback me!

36

“Don’t drop her.”

Kyle gave Isabel a look as he stepped through the doorway of her apartment. “I used to bench a 190, I think I can handle this without any of your alien magic.” He glanced down at Serena, whose dead weight was balanced in his arms. “I don’t think she’d even feel it if I dropped her.”

“We don’t need a lawsuit,” Jesse spoke up, flipping on the hall light. “It’s going to be bad enough when she comes to.”

“I think she’ll understand,” Kyle muttered, gently placing Serena on the couch. It wasn’t his fault her friends had ditched her and taken cabs home. She was in no condition to find her own way home, so when Kyle, who was giving Isabel and Jesse a ride home, offered to give Serena a lift as well, she agreed. Unfortunately, she passed out in the car before she’d managed to finish giving them directions to her house.

“Kyle, why don’t you just stay here too,” Isabel suggested, yawning deeply. She was too tired to care that she and Jesse weren’t getting then entire night to themselves.

Kyle, too, was too tired to argue as he flopped down in the recliner. “I’ll take care of any damage control when she wakes up,” he said, wishing he was only joking.

*****

The sun was barely awakening in the morning sky as Max lay on his side next to a sleeping Liz. They’d finally fallen asleep curled up together, Max’s hand resting on her abdomen. Sometime during the night, a faint glow began to shine beneath his hand. He was drawn to it, his eyes studying the soft skin of Liz’s flat stomach and the warmth that radiated into his palm. It blew his mind to know that a tiny spark of life only a few hours old was making its presence known. A life that he and Liz had created; that would be their son or daughter.

We're going to have a baby. Max repeated those words over and over again in his mind, the reality of it not quite anchoring into his head. His eyes traveled up Liz’s nude form to her face, peaceful as she slept. He recalled the way she looked at him when he’d spoken those words aloud, vocalizing what they both knew was true. He’d never seen so many emotions cross her face at one time, not even the first time he’d done a reverse connection when they were sixteen.

Her eyes first reflected their mutual shock before fading into a coy smile. She looked thrilled for a split second before the fear crept into her eyes, and then she was sobbing in Max’s arms.

All he could do was hold her, at a loss for words. He was feeling each and every emotion she was experiencing; disbelief, joy, excitement, fear… “I love you,” he’d whispered finally, stroking her hair as she buried her face in the crook of his neck.

Liz’s tears were beginning to subside as she murmured, “I love you too.” She didn’t leave the safety of his arms, curling closer to him as his fingers threaded through her long hair. Just before he’d fallen asleep, his hand slipped from her side and came to rest on her abdomen. It was how Max had awakened in the morning, his wife and child protected in his embrace.

He heard Liz beginning to stir then, the soft sigh of her breath as she began to awaken. After a few moments he felt her fingers brush against his jaw, and he raised his eyes to meet hers. “Hey,” he whispered.

Liz’s breath caught in her throat as she followed Max’s hand to her belly. The sight of a faint glow peeking through Max’s spread fingers brought the emotions from the last night – from the last year – bubbling to the surface, and she felt the tears prick her eyes.

Silently, Max reached for her trembling hand and guided it to her glowing skin, covering it with his own. “I can’t believe he’s already…” Liz trailed off, a tear spilling over onto her cheek.

But Max knew. His other hand reached up and swiped the tear from her jaw before cradling her face in his palm. “It started during the night,” he told her. “I woke up and…there he was.”

Liz sniffled and nodded. “I wish I’d been awake to see…”

“You need your sleep,” Max reminded, smoothing his hand over her damp cheek.

“Are you starting that already?” Liz wrinkled her nose, her voice managing a teasing lilt.

“I love you,” Max answered, effectively dodging her question, as he lowered his lips to hers in a sweet kiss.

*****

Serena’s eyes fluttered open. Oh god, her head was killing her. It was as if someone had clamped a vice around her skull and was – wait. She blinked once. Her walls were blue, not reddish orange. She struggled to sit up. Her bed wasn’t this firm…and it sure as hell wasn’t a couch. The room spun around her, a room she didn’t recognize.

“Good morning.”

Startled, Serena turned toward the male voice. There, in the recliner, sat Kyle, complete with bedhead and a rumpled UNM t-shirt and shorts. “How’d you sleep?” he asked.

“Where the hell am I?” she demanded. He’d been watching her, she could feel it. Where had he taken her?

“Calm down, you’re at Jesse and Isabel’s place,” he replied, running his fingers through his hair.

She certainly didn’t remember going there, and she told him so.

“I figured,” Kyle answered knowingly. “Do you remember anything about last night?”

Serena thought for a minute. “Zero Gravity. We kept ordering martinis, and then…” She paused. “Oh my god. I didn’t…did I pass out?”

Kyle nodded, and Serena wanted to slap that smug smile right off his adorable face. “Shit,” she burst out suddenly. “Oh, shit, I have to call my mom.”

Her mom? “Your mom?” Kyle repeated, watching as Serena struggled from the couch. He got to his feet, offering her a steadying arm to guide her to the phone in the kitchen. Did she still live with her mother? Well hey, who was he to judge.

Serena punched in a phone number, sinking onto the table bench as she waited for an answer. “Mom? It’s me…I’m so sorry…no, I’m fine. I went home with a, ah, friend…” She glanced quickly at Kyle and then away. “How’s everything there? Did she…okay, good. No, she can until I get there, that’s fine. Okay. Okay, I’ll be there as soon as I can.” She hung up the phone and turned to Kyle again. “So…”

“Everything okay?” Kyle asked, leaning against the counter.

Serena jumped to her feet. “I have to get home, I…oh my god, I am so hung-over,” she muttered, swaying as she grabbed the edge of the table to steady herself.

Kyle took her arm and helped her straighten. “Why don’t you get cleaned up while I make some coffee and then I’ll take you home,” he suggested. Nodding, Serena allowed him to lead her down the hall. “It’s the first door on the right.”

Just then, the bedroom door swung open. “Serena, hi,” Isabel greeted, tying her robe around her waist. “How are you feeling?”

“Shitty,” Serena admitted. “I haven’t had that much to drink since the beginning of college.”

Isabel nodded sympathetically, and as Serena turned to head into the bathroom, she reached out and carefully directed her fingers toward the back of the young woman’s head.

“Do you mind if I-“ Serena turned suddenly, pausing when she noticed Isabel’s hand. “What are you-“

“Oh, you had fuzz or something in your hair. I’m such a perfectionist about that kind of thing, even with other people,” Isabel said, thinking quickly and fully aware of what a moron she must look like.

Serena nodded, slightly baffled, and headed into the bathroom. The door clicked shut, and Kyle eyed Isabel suspiciously. “What exactly were you doing?”

“Curing her hangover,” Isabel said with a shrug, turning and padding down the hall. “God, will you look at what a softie I’ve become? I guess motherhood will do that to you.”

“I wouldn’t know,” Kyle muttered. “Speaking of, where’s Evan?”

“Still with my mom. She’s milking this for all it’s worth,” Isabel replied, folding the afghan and tossing it over the back of the couch. “So are you taking Serena home?”

Kyle nodded, reaching for his clothing from the night before. “Do you mind if I just wear this home?” he asked, indicating the borrowed clothes he’d slept in.

“Sure, Jesse won’t even know they’re gone.”

“Sweet. I’ll wash em and bring em back.”

“You mean the Valenti men do their own laundry?” Isabel’s eyes widened in mock surprise. “You’ll have to teach my son that real men do laundry. I don’t think he’ll learn that from his own father.”

“I heard that,” came Jesse’s groggy voice. “Your mom just pulled up, so be nice,” he added, heading into the front hall to open the door.

Isabel followed Jesse to assist with the baby, leaving Kyle to pull his black slacks over the shorts he was wearing. He wrinkled his nose, realizing they were still damp with sweat from the night before. “That’s attractive,” he muttered. Oh well. It wasn’t as if he had anyone to impress. Sure, Serena had seemed interested last night, dancing close and giggling in his ear, but then he recalled the overwhelming smell of alcohol and doubted if she even remembered. His former high-school self probably wouldn’t have minded; in fact he probably would have taken full advantage. But not these days. These days, he was Kyle Valenti, Man of Buddha.

Out in the front hall, Isabel was collecting little Evan from Diane. “Were you good for Grandma and Grandpa, sweetie?” she asked the wide-eyed infant.

“Of course,” Diane smiled. “It looks like your dad has found the perfect football partner. They both fell asleep in front of the television last night.”

“That’s because the Packers were playing,” Jesse teased, taking the baby carrier and various diaper bags from Diane’s loaded arms.

Diane winked. “Don’t let Phillip hear you say that,” she said before turning to her daughter. “Honey, I couldn’t get him to take his bottle this morning. That’s why I brought him back a little early.”

“He probably needs to nurse.” Isabel glanced down at her son, who was beginning to whimper and chew hungrily on his hand. “It’s the special nutrients, somehow he just knows.”

“That makes sense, I guess. But honey, if he’s completely human, then why-“ Diane paused suddenly as she caught sight of Serena, who had appeared in the hallway.

“Hi there, Mrs. Evans.”

*****

“Eighty-two…eighty-three…eighty-four…” Max grunted out the numbers softly as he raised and then lowered himself to the bedroom floor.

Liz paused in the doorway, rubbing a towel through her damp hair as she watched her husband’s morning ritual. One hundred push-ups, no more, no less. She stood silently, studying the muscles in his back as they rippled beneath his tanned skin. His arms bulged with the weight of his body as he moved up and down, and Liz felt a flush spread through her as she recalled the way those strong arms held him above her body the night before, the way they wrapped around her and made her feel so safe. She lowered her hand to her stomach, smooth and flat beneath the terrycloth material wrapped around her body.

“Ninety-five…ninety-six…” Max continued, not noticing his wife as she crept up behind him. “Ninety-oomph ,” he grunted, startled by the sudden weight on his back as Liz straddled him. He continued with ease, finishing and flipping over onto his back.

Liz squealed in surprise, and then leaned forward to brush his sweaty hair out of his eyes. “Shower’s yours.”

“Are you implying that I need one?” he teased, grabbing her hands in his and kissing them.

“Maybe.” Liz wrinkled her nose and then grinned at the look of mock hurt on her husband’s face. She turned serious as his hands trailed lower and rested on her abdomen.

“How are you feeling?”

“Max, I’m fine,” Liz assured. “I’m not even twelve hours pregnant yet.”

“I know, I just…” He trailed off, rolling onto his side as Liz settled next to him on the floor. “How do you feel about all of this?”

Liz bit her lower lip. “I guess…I’m not really sure,” she admitted. “I’m pretty sure it hasn’t hit me yet.”

Max nodded his understanding. “Are you scared?” he asked quietly.

After a long pause Liz nodded, her eyes wide with emotion.

“Me too.” Max’s hand slipped around his wife, pulling her close to him. He hadn’t wanted to admit it, but it was the truth. He’d been through many terrifying experiences in his young life, this was true; but nothing was quite so scary as the fear of not being able to protect his child. He’d already been through that twice, and it had taken its toll. And Liz; his amazing Liz…he couldn’t bear to see her hurting again.

Resting his hand over Liz’s womb, he made a silent promise to his unborn child. I will never let you down.

*****

“Thanks again for everything, Kyle.”

Kyle peered through his sunglasses at Serena, sitting in the passenger seat with the breeze sifting through her shiny hair. “Just call me Buddha in shining armor,” he said, knowing his attempt at a joke fell flat on its face. He just wasn’t in the mood, especially since he wasn’t sure how much she had overheard between Isabel and Diane. They had finally calmed down after the scare at the hospital several months before, and now something had slipped in front of her again.

But Serena only smiled to herself as she gazed out the window. “Take a left here,” she directed. “I’m at the end of the block.”

He did as he was told, cruising through the streets of simple homes near the hospital. “Feeling better?” he asked, noticing that her color had returned and she wasn’t rubbing her temples as much as she was when she first woke up.

“Tons,” she answered, “I guess I just needed to walk around a little, drink some coffee.”

“Good.” They faded back into silence, with Kyle grateful they were almost to her house. “Is it the gray one?” he spoke up finally.

“Beige, actually.” Serena flashed him one of her beautiful smiles, and had he not been in such a rotten mood, Kyle would have been overjoyed.

“My mistake.” Kyle pulled into the driveway of a small but well kept home with an impressive garden lining the front walk. “Here we are.”

Serena opened the car door, but then paused and turned to him again. “Really, Kyle. Thank you.” And then, before Kyle even realized it was happening, Serena leaned over and gave him a quick peck. “I’ll see you around.”

Kyle sat, stunned. Serena had already shut the car door and was fumbling for her keys when he finally mumbled, “Right. See you.”


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 14-Jul-2002 7:40:33 PM ]
posted on 14-Jul-2002 10:59:07 PM by McGees
Hmm. Well, it wouldn't let me update the title until just now, so I'm just bumping it up to let you know I did indeed update!
posted on 17-Jul-2002 2:09:29 PM by McGees
*THUD*

Good lord, mandyhanford, are you trying to give me a heart attack?? What an fantastically hot picture of JB! You have truly inspired me, LOL. Once I get finished staring at him, I'm going to march myself to Word and finish up this next part. Look for that sometime later today. *tongue*

Hehe, Amanda, are you saying you're not a Packers fan?? I'm not supposed to like them because I'm supposed to be a Bears fan, but my family goes back a few generations being cheeseheads. What can ya do?

Now, as for the baby's gender...well, all that will be answered in the next part. And I'm gonna get back to work before I give too much away!
posted on 17-Jul-2002 9:32:06 PM by McGees
As promised...

37

“Liz, please tell me these are yours.”

Studying the pair of sleek black sunglasses Kyle had shoved in her face, Liz slowly shook her head. “I could, but I’d be lying.”

“Dammit.” Kyle dropped his head down onto the desk and let out a loud sigh.

“I didn’t realize you’d be so disappointed,” Liz said, puzzled, as she plucked the sunglasses from Kyle’s fingertips and slipped them on. “Hey, I bet I look pretty hot.”

Kyle only groaned again, lifting his head. “I found them in my car. And there have only been four women in my car in the last few weeks,” he explained, ignoring Liz’s amused look. “And so far you, Isabel, and the girl from my history class have failed to claim them, which means-“

“The fourth person is…?”

“Serena,” Kyle sighed.

“So?”

"So..."

“So give them back to her,” Liz suggested.

“I can’t.”

“What do you mean, you can’t?” Liz pressed.

“It’s already been two weeks, maybe she won’t even notice they’re gone-“

“Kyle.” She hadn’t had an exceptional amount of patience lately, and Kyle had just about used up his designated amount.

“Whidrpdherofshkisme,” he muttered.

“Huh?”

“When I dropped her off, she kissed me,” he repeated slowly.

Liz’s eyes widened. “Why?”

“Thanks a lot,” Kyle mumbled, the blow to his pride all too clear in his sudden pout.

“Oh Kyle, stop. It just seems kind of random, I guess,” Liz continued, doodling absently on her notebook cover.

“Yeah, well, you didn’t see her at the club,” Kyle reminded darkly.

“But I heard about it. So she kissed you while she was sober?” Liz was quite intrigued by this latest development, though it did spark a bit of suspicion in the back of her mind.

“It’s not like we made out or anything. It was more like a peck, you know?” Kyle sighed. “Anyway, I know seeing her would be weird, so-“

“You could mail them to her,” Liz suggested. “It’s a little extreme, but-“

“That’s why I was wondering if you could take them to her,” Kyle interrupted hopefully.

“Kyle…”

“Please, Liz? I’ll give you her address, she’s really easy to find and-“

“Max is going to be waiting for me after my shift, and if I’m not home in time for dinner-“

“Max the cook,” Kyle chuckled, forgetting the sunglasses for a moment. “Man, is he whipped.”

“I don’t know if I’d call it that,” Liz said, rolling her eyes good-naturedly. It was more of an over-protection thing if you asked her. It had been only two weeks, and she was already thisclose to calling him Sahib. Max, of course, didn’t find this amusing at all. He only wanted to make sure Liz was healthy and safe and comfortable and eating properly and dressing warm enough…

“I’m sorry, Kyle. But you’re a big boy, and I’m sure you can be brave and do this,” Liz encouraged, patting Kyle’s shoulder.

Kyle rolled his eyes. She was right, of course, but did she have to rub it in? “Thanks, mommy.”

*****

“How long has it been?”

“Two minutes since you last asked.”

“Oh. Because the box said-“

“Max?”

“Yeah?”

“Do I have to ask you to leave the room?”

Max looked up at Liz, hurt. “Why would you make me leave?”

“What if I said I had a craving for honeydew melon.”

He eyed his wife skeptically. “Do you?”

“No. I still hate it, actually.”

“That wasn’t very nice, Liz,” Max muttered.

Liz merely patted Max’s knee and smiled sweetly. “I was just trying to distract you.”

Max sighed. “I know. I’m trying to be patient, but I’m so anxious-“

"You're anxious?” Liz repeated. “I had to pee on a stick.”

“I think that’s pretty hard to screw up, though,” he offered reassuringly. Unless they’d read the directions wrong. Maybe he ought to check-

“Sit.” Liz tightened her hand over knee, forcing him back onto the bed. “I’m pretty sure we already know the results.”

Max grinned as he slipped his hand under her sweater to capture their baby’s glow. “It’s exciting. I guess it just feels like the go-ahead to tell other people about him.”

“Or her,” Liz added. Out of habit they’d found themselves referring to the baby as “him,” though they had yet to achieve any flashes to prove one way or the other. Liz figured it was probably too soon to know for sure. However, she was definitely looking forward to researching…

“Time’s up,” Max announced, pulling Liz to her feet and leading her to the bathroom. He reached for the plastic stick on the counter, but Liz snatched his hand away. “Cover your eyes,” she instructed.

“Cover my-“

“Please? I will, too.” With a grin, she held her hand up over her eyes.

Max sighed, but did as he was told.

Liz squeezed his free hand. “Ready? One, two-“

Max cocked his head when Liz trailed off. “Liz? You didn’t-“

But Liz had already peeked through her fingers, inspecting the stick. “What does a green circle mean?”

His eyes flew open. A green circle? “A green circle?” But it was supposed to be a pink plus or a blue line! He’d read the back of the box three times, and nowhere did it say-

And suddenly Liz was grinning at him. The gleam shone in her eyes as she presented him with the stick, complete with a bright pink plus.

Max’s eyes narrowed when he realized he’d been had, but then he too grinned as it began to sink in again. He was going to be a daddy, and that stick proved it in the most normal of ways. His fingers sought out the soft skin beneath her sweater again before he captured her lips in a long, deep kiss.

*****

Liz looked up from sweeping beneath the Crashdown counter at the sound of knocking. Leaning the broom against a stool, she smiled brightly and fairly scampered over to unlock the café’s doors.

Jeff Parker watched his daughter greet her husband, finished with his closing shift at the UFO Center across the street. It no longer made him feel uncomfortable to witness the loving gestures between Liz and Max; as a matter of fact, it reminded him very much of when he and Nancy were newlyweds. He smiled to himself, turning back to the register when Liz lifted her face to meet Max’s lips in a deep kiss. “Hello, Max,” he offered.

Max pulled away from Liz and licked his lips with a sheepish grin. “Hey Jeff,” he greeted, looping his arm around Liz’s waist as they sauntered back toward the counter. “How did the special sell tonight?”

“Great, except for the Saturn Rings Jose extra deep-fried. We had to toss a whole batch.” He shrugged. “What can you do.”

Nancy appeared through the swinging back room door. “Max, hi,” she smiled. “Lizzie, honey, the floor looks fine. Why don’t you two head on home, you already stayed late as it is.”

Liz pecked her mother on the cheek and grabbed the broom. “I don’t mind,” she assured.

Max didn’t seem particularly pleased by this, but after a full day of classes and then the closing shift at the museum, it was understandable that he would be tired. Jeff and Nancy glanced at each other and then at their daughter. She certainly was a bundle of energy tonight.

“Liz, have you been taking some of those pills of Maria’s? You know, those…I don’t know, St. John’s Wart or something?” Jeff ventured.

Liz glanced up in surprise. “What? No, why?”

“No reason,” he chuckled. “You look wonderful, sweetheart.”

“I feel wonderful,” Liz replied, casting a smile in Max’s direction. “Dad, I’ve been meaning to ask if you kept the new uniform you ordered for me last fall,” she continued, leaning against the broom.

“Oh…I - I did, actually,” Jeff answered, taken quite by surprise. “It’s in storage for new employees or-“

“Do you think you could let me borrow it?” Liz asked casually. “I’m going to need it in a few months.”

“Sure, sweethear-“ Jeff paused. He opened his mouth, then closed it, as he watched Liz continue sweeping the floor. “Do you mean-“

“Liz, are you pregnant?” Nancy asked in a hushed voice.

Glancing at Max, Liz bit her lip and nodded. “As a matter of fact.”

“What?” Maria suddenly popped her head out through the kitchen window.

Liz jumped in surprise. “Maria, I thought you went home.”

“I forgot my watch in my locker,” she called, hurrying around through the swinging door. “Oh my god, Lizzie! I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!” she continued, throwing her arms around her best friend.

“We were going to,” Liz explained as her friend pulled away and then moved on to Max. “We just found out,” she added pointedly.

Maria nodded knowingly, and then clapped her hands together in excitement.

Jeff and Nancy both stood silent, simply staring at the young couple. “Aren’t you going to say anything?” Liz asked with a coy smile, tightening her arm around Max’s waist.

“I…honey, congratulations,” Nancy said finally. “Both of you. It’s…it’s definitely a surprise, but…”

“We were surprised, too,” Max said, somewhat shyly. He was thrilled, of course, but it still felt a little strange to be discussing their “surprise” with his in-laws. It was then that he noticed Jeff had yet to respond. He pulled Liz a little closer, waiting for the explosion. A wave of anger rolled through him. What more did the man want? Sure, they were a still quite young, and money might be a little tight, but they were in love. Heck, they were
married, and -

“Oh Daddy,” he heard Liz whisper as she stepped away from him and into her father’s arms. Max watched as Liz embraced him, and then he saw it. Jeff’s eyes were filled with tears as he hugged his daughter.

Later, as the three headed out to their cars, Maria was still a bundle of excitement. “So you guys knew, like, right away again?” she asked.

Max glanced down at Liz. “Yeah. And this time we knew what it was.”

Maria nodded thoughtfully. “That didn’t happen to Isabel and Jesse. I wonder why.”

“I’m not sure,” Liz admitted. “Part of me worries that because it happened with Gabriel too, it means something’s wrong.” She knew she was being paranoid, but it was so hard to shake the fear…

Max squeezed her shoulder, and she realized again just why he was being as protective as he was. “We don’t know that,” he reminded gently.

“Right, but then there’s…” Liz trailed off as they reached the Chevelle.

“What?” Maria practically pounced on her. “That’s what?”

“I was on the pill. Both times,” she added, pulling her sweater tighter in the chilly October air. “It just seems kind of strange.”

Maria cocked an eyebrow and glanced at Max. “Must be super-swimmers.”

“That must be it,” Liz said, managing a giggle.

Max cracked a smile, but then shifted uncomfortably. “Can we maybe not talk about my sperm?”

Liz merely laughed again and stretched up to kiss her husband’s cheek. “Anyway, Maria, we decided to tell my parents first since they don’t know about any of the, uh, special circumstances. We’re telling everyone else at Isabel’s birthday dinner tomorrow night, so if you could maybe not say-“

“I won’t say a word,” Maria vowed, jumping to attention. “Cross my heart.”

*****

“Way to go Maxwell!” Michael clapped Max warmly on the back as he and Liz stepped into his parents’ house.

Max gave his friend a strange look. That was an interesting reception, what was he – Maria. He exchanged a look with Liz. Definitely Maria.

Sure enough, Maria peeked around the corner with a sheepish grin. “I kind of let it slip-“ she began, just as the rest of the family rushed into the front hall.

“Oh Liz, honey, congratulations!” Diane hugged her daughter-in-law before turning to her son and exclaiming with excitement. It was certainly a different reception this time around.

“Did you hear that, Evan? You’re going to have a little cousin to play with,” Kyle informed the baby cuddled against his chest.

“Any time you want to practice…” Isabel offered, grinning at her brother as she squeezed in for a hug.

Later that evening, as they finished cake and ice cream, Liz leaned over to Kyle. “Did you do it yet?”

“Give me some time,” he grumbled.

“Kyle. It was a week ago.”

Kyle threw up his hands in exasperation. “Fine. I’ll do it tonight.”

“Really?” Liz eyed him skeptically.

“Maybe.”

Four days later, Kyle found himself standing on Serena’s front porch. Why the hell was he so nervous? It was a pair of sunglasses, for pete’s sake. Maybe it was because it had been almost a month that he’d had them. Whose fault is that, he reminded himself. As tempting as it was to blame Liz…Kyle cleared his throat and reached for the doorbell.

After a few moments, a face peered through the lace curtains beside the door. It swung open, and there stood Serena. “Kyle?”

“Uh…hi.” He tried not to stare, though his eyes were drawn to how beautiful she looked. Sure, she was just wearing an old tank top and a pair of cut-offs, and her blonde hair was pulled up in a messy ponytail, but… Cut it out, Valenti. He was here for a reason.

He was just about to open his mouth again when Serena suddenly stepped out onto the porch and quietly shut the door behind her. “Sorry.”

“Yeah, that’s okay. I, uh, I was cleaning out my car the other day and I found these.” He awkwardly presented her with the sunglasses.

“So that’s where they were,” Serena laughed. “And all this time I thought they were playing hide-and-seek.”

God, her smile was beautiful. And that laugh… Suddenly Kyle realized that she was reaching for the sunglasses. And then her fingers brushed against his and he thought he might die right there on her porch.

She was looking at him funny. No wonder, he was standing there gaping at her like an idiot. “Uh…well, that was all. I just wanted to, y’know, give them back, so…”

“Thank you,” Serena said with a smile, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “I have an apology to make.”

“Huh?” An apology?

“Oh. Never mind, it’s nothing,” Serena replied quickly. “I was just thinking out loud again. I’ll see you later, Kyle.”

Kyle headed back to his car, a cocky grin on his face. Serena said she’d see him later.

*****

Liz’s eyes slid over from her government book to Max, who was in bed beside her, busily highlighting in his textbook. She didn’t feel like studying proportional representation, despite the big midterm she had coming up in a few days. She knew what she wanted to do, and she was quite sure Max wouldn’t object.

Feeling her eyes on him, Max glanced up questioningly. Liz offered him a coy smile, and he felt his heart jump. His wife always took his breath away, but now, after nearly a month of pregnancy, she was radiant. And yet, while they’d been intimate, he’d done his best to control himself around her. He didn’t want to rush things, even though Liz promised she was feeling great.

Well, Liz had had just about enough. She wasn’t going to break, and she intended to prove it to her overly cautious husband. Besides, she had a feeling. They hadn’t had any flashes yet, but somehow…she knew. Tonight was it. Stretching luxuriously, she tossed her book aside and crawled closer to Max. She smirked when he looked up, following her every move, and shifted one knee over his thigh so she was straddling his lap.

“Hi,” Max managed, clearing his throat as she pressed up against him.

Liz cocked her head to the side, noticing that he was already growing hard. “Hi there.”

“What can I do for you?” he continued, the smile on his face broadening.

“Now there’s a loaded question,” Liz muttered, wriggling on his lap. “Plenty, I’m sure.”

Max chuckled, running his hands up and down her back. “Liz Evans, are you propositioning me?”

“Yes,” Liz answered without skipping a beat. She leaned closer, running her fingers in circles over his broad chest. After suckling on his jaw, she slowly slid her lips to his ear. “I want to see our baby.”

“You…okay…” he stammered as she nibbled on his sensitive skin. “I do, too.”

“Good,” Liz smiled, her breath quickening as Max’s hands slid down her torso to her thighs. He rubbed over the thin material of her nightgown, pushing it up until it bunched at her waist.

“Oh Max,” she sighed, her head lolling back as his fingers wandered between her legs and began probing her damp panties.

Max sucked in a deep breath as his fingers encountered her slick wetness, and he knew he had to taste her. “Liz,” he murmured, guiding her onto her back before him. He helped slide off her panties before settling between her legs.

A wave of desire coursed through Liz as she felt his warm breath against her core, and it bubbled over when she heard him inhale deeply. He made her feel worshipped, wanted…and completely at his mercy as his tongue flicked out and began exploring her.

Max rested one hand on Liz’s hip as she began bucking against his mouth. He knew how sensitive her body was now, and he wanted this to be special. He flattened his tongue, sweeping back and forth, capturing her essence as she writhed beneath him. “Max…Max, please,” she begged.

Encouraged by Liz’s breathless moans and her fingers fisting in his hair, Max’s tongue snaked out and began circling her clit.

“Yes…” she hissed, her hips lifting up off the mattress as he suddenly plunged his tongue into her depths. She thrust in time with his mouth, building up an unbearable pressure in the pit of her belly. Sensing she was close, Max flicked his tongue back up to her clit and sucked the tiny nub into his mouth. Liz fell apart, gasping his name as he suckled at her until her orgasm ebbed.

As she lay panting, Max slowly began kissing his way up her body. He paid special attention to her flat belly, placing sweet, soft kisses around her navel.

Liz shivered despite the sheen of sweat covering her flushed body. It filled her heart to bursting whenever she witnessed the depth of love Max had for their unborn son or daughter – whose identity, she hoped, would very soon be known.

“We won’t be needing this,” Max mumbled, guiding the nightshirt up over Liz’s head and tossing it aside. She shivered again at the feel of his warm bare chest against hers, prompting her nipples into hard little peaks.

“Or these,” Liz added as her hands worked Max’s flannel pajama pants over his hips. His erection sprung from its confines, pressing against her stomach as Max wriggled closer. He cupped her flushed face in his hands, smoothing her hair back, and Liz gazed at him lovingly. “Are you ready?” she murmured.

Max smiled, grinding his hard body against hers to prove that yes, he was indeed ready, and then captured her lips in a slow, sensuous kiss. There was no reason to rush such a beautiful, intimate joining; he intended to worship the mother of his child in every way possible.

“Oh Max…” Liz sighed as his lips crept down her jaw line, savoring, just as he was between her legs. He brushed over her folds, seeking her wetness and then spreading it over the tip of his erection. Max groaned as her essence clung to him, pulling him to her center, begging him to fill her. “Please, Max…”

The vibrations against his mouth as he suckled at her throat nearly set him on fire. Their lips sought out one another as he began to slide into her heat, tongues matching the pace as he moved in, then out, and finally deep into the warmth of her body.

“You’re so perfect, Liz,” he breathed against her cheek. “So perfect.” His hands slid from her hips, up her sides, to the curve of her breasts. His thumbs worked between their bodies where her erect nipples were drilling into his chest, circling around and over them as Liz gasped beneath him. The sounds of pleasure that filled his ears threatened to send him sailing over the edge, but he knew he had to hold on.

Much to Liz’s disappointment, his hands retreated from her breasts. When she realized their next destination, she eagerly thrust her hips up to meet his. “Mmm…yes…” she breathed, the desire boiling through her veins as his fingers sought out her aching clit. She locked her ankles behind him as he pinched and pulled at the sensitive bundle of nerves, her internal muscles clenching his manhood with each thrust.

“I’m almost…” Max ground out, a white-hot fire shooting through his body as he felt the beginning of their orgasms.

“Yes!” Liz cried, clamping around him as she felt him jerk inside her. The explosion washed over them in wave after wave of flashes, offering them a first glimpse of their child.

Warm, bright eyes framed by long lashes; round cheeks and a sweet smile reminiscent of Liz’s. Max choked back a sob, burying his face in the crook of Liz’s neck. So much like Gabriel, and yet…very much her own person.

Their daughter was beautiful.



posted on 1-Aug-2002 6:47:33 PM by McGees
A new part, finally. This part includes a song from the movie "Where the Heart Is," and I just couldn't resist. It fit so well for Max and Liz. I hope you enjoy it, and I'm hoping to get a new part up before I leave for California next week. We'll see what happens! *tongue* P.S. I'm REALLY hoping to get a chance to see Covina. I'm such a tourist!


38

“I’m scared.”

“You’re scared?”

Liz nodded solemnly. She clung to Max’s arm, her jaw clenched, crossing and uncrossing her legs as she often did when she was anxious.

Max shifted in the hard waiting room chair and kissed the top of his wife’s head. “It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”

“More than a year,” Liz confirmed softly. How things had changed in the year since they’d last paid a visit to Dr. Sinclair. She glanced at the matching bands on their linked fingers. A year ago she had been a scared, single teenager. She experienced a miscarriage, a year of college, and a marriage since then. And now, she and her husband were going to have a baby girl.

Max studied Liz, knowing she was deep in thought. “Hey,” he murmured, bringing her hand to his lips. “It’s going to be just fine.”

“Liz Evans?”

The young couple turned toward the door to see the same nurse from Liz’s very first appointment. She smiled. “I thought it might be you. Welcome back.”

“Thanks,” Liz replied self-consciously as she and Max got to their feet.

The nurse cocked an eyebrow. “I don’t suppose you’ll be joining us, will you Mr. Evans?”

Max nodded firmly, giving Liz’s hand a comforting squeeze. Twenty minutes later he was still gripping her hand as Dr. Sinclair prepared the sonogram machine. They were going to hear their daughter’s heartbeat. Their daughter. Max still hadn’t quite gotten over the fact that he was going to have a little girl. He’d grown so accustomed to the idea of two boys, neither of whom he’d been able to meet, that the thought of a daughter was still a bit foreign.

Sometimes it’s hard
You don’t want to look over your shoulder
Cause you don’t want to remember where you’ve been


Yet it was somehow appropriate. Something different; a new beginning. This child symbolized so much – their love, their strength, their hope. Things were different this time. They had to be.

There’ll come a time you’d die
If you could only hold her
I know that’s where I am…


Liz jumped as the cool gel hit her bare skin, jolting Max from his thoughts. He smiled down at her, his grin broadening as a gentle whirring sound filled the room.

So listen with all your heart
Hold it inside forever
You may find all your dreams have already come true


Almost immediately, Liz’s eyes flooded with tears. She knew without even looking at the doctor for reassurance that the baby’s heartbeat was strong, healthy…beautiful.

Look inside and find the part that’s leading you
Cause that’s the beat of a heart…


She was reminded of the exhilaration that accompanied the precious sound. Nothing, not even the magical rumble of Max’s laughter or the way he breathed her name when they made love, nothing could compare to the sound of their child living and growing within her womb.

For a long time, she feared it. The memories were too harsh, too raw. The loss of Gabriel shook her to the very core.

Sometimes you drown it out with all your rage and thunder
Sometimes you drown it out with all your old tears


It was something she still dealt with, every day. And, in fact, the fears had nearly consumed her when they realized she was pregnant. She wasn’t ready…was she? She was still dealing with the loss of her son, how would she be able to give herself to this new little person?

There’ll come a time when you’ll hear it and you’ll wonder
Where in the world have I been…


But it was the gentle glow that appeared beneath Max’s hands that had soothed her. And when they saw the vision of their unborn child for the first time, Liz felt a renewed sense of strength and hope. Now, hearing the evidence of her life, Liz was no longer afraid.

No one can tell you how to get there
It’s a road you take all by yourself…


Max’s hand tightened around hers, and Liz knew he was picturing the precious face of their daughter, memorizing her first sounds.

So listen with all your heart
Hold it inside forever
You may find all your dreams have already come true


They would always cherish their memories of Gabriel, of the time his tiny, perfect presence surrounded them. He was a part of them, and now, so was his sister.

Look inside and find the part that’s leading you
Cause that’s the beat of a heart
Oh, it’s the sweetest sound…
That’s the beat of a heart


*****

“…So then he comes skidding into the kitchen with just a towel around his waist, grabs it away from me, and tells me to go sit down and put my feet up.”

Isabel chuckled as she listened to Liz and lifted Evan against her shoulder. “That’s my brother for you. Can’t have you lifting heavy objects.”

“It was a bag of groceries.” Liz rolled her eyes, grinning. “I don’t know if I can humor him for another seven months. Honestly, was Jesse this bad?”

“Oh, it’ll get worse,” Isabel assured, patting Evan’s back. “If he’s anything like Jesse, you won’t even be able to do the dishes by the time you hit your eighth month.” She paused. “Then again, that wasn’t so bad.”

Liz grinned, pushing back from the counter. “Do you want another Coke?”

“No thanks, we’ve got to get going pretty quick. He’s due for a nap,” Isabel explained, laughing when Evan let out a healthy burp and gave his mother a toothless grin.

“Good one!” Maria appeared, toting full bottles of ketchup. “Your Uncle Michael would be proud.”

Isabel craned her neck, glancing toward the kitchen. “Where is Michael today?”

“First hockey game of the season,” Maria said dryly. “He took the day off to camp out in front of the tube with a bag of cheese curls and a bottle of Tabasco.” She wrinkled her nose in disgust and then nearly gagged as she noticed Liz pondering the concoction. Still, if a sudden taste for Tabasco was the only side effect accompanying this pregnancy, she could handle it. She just wouldn’t be dining with Liz any time in the near future.

The bell above the Crashdown door jingled and Kyle walked in. His hands were jammed in his coat pockets, and he barely looked up as he quickly sat down at a booth.

“Kyle, over here,” Isabel called, shifting Evan in her arms.

He looked up, seemingly surprised to see his three friends. Giving a quick wave, he turned his attention to a menu.

“That’s strange,” Isabel noted with a frown.

“I’ll go see what he wants to drink,” Liz said, lifting the counter and crossing the café. “What’s up, Kyle?”

Kyle peered over the top of the menu. “Not much.”

“Isabel’s leaving soon, but there’s room at the counter if you want-“

“I’m meeting someone here, actually,” he explained quickly.

“Oh.” Liz paused. “Really, who?”

Kyle cleared his throat. “Serena.”

Liz nodded slowly. “Well…that’s fun. Um, can I get you something to drink?”

“Coke, please. And an iced tea for her, she’ll be here any time.”

Nodding again, Liz turned and headed back behind the counter.

Seeing the puzzled look on her friend’s face, Maria leaned over the counter. “What’s his deal?”

“Apparently he and Serena are meeting for a late lunch,” Liz informed them as she set to work preparing the drinks.

“Serena?” Isabel repeated. “I haven’t seen her since we went to that club. That was months ago-“

“Two months on Wednesday,” Liz confirmed with a smile.

“Since when do they have lunch dates?” Isabel continued.

Maria shrugged. “Good for Kyle. Has he seen anyone since that Denise girl? That was, like, before finals last spring.”

Isabel sighed, struggling to get her squirming son into his coat. “I don’t trust her,” she admitted. “Too much has happened around her, she’s got to be suspicious. That time she stayed at our house, I’m positive she overheard us talking, and-“

“She’s here,” Liz announced under her breath as Serena stepped into the café. She shook back her windblown hair and smiled as she noticed Kyle at the nearby booth.

“Look at how happy he looks!” Maria grinned, clapping her hands together. “I wonder if she realizes he’s only a sophomore in college.”

“I would comment on that, but it would make me a hypocrite,” Isabel said, kissing her son’s nose. “Alright, sweetie, let’s go home and take a nap.” After saying goodbye to the girls, she gathered up Evan and his diaper bag, left her change on the counter, and headed toward the door.

“He’s gotten so big!”

Isabel turned toward the booth Serena and Kyle were occupying and forced a smile. “He’ll be five months next week.”

Serena grinned at the baby as Isabel reluctantly made her way to their table. “You’re finally growing back some of that hair, aren’t you, Evan?”

Evan grinned and showed off the fact that he could also blow bubbles. Wiping the drool from his chin, Isabel smiled tightly. “Well, it’s almost time for his nap. It was good to see you again.”

“You too,” Serena said brightly. “Say hello to Jesse.”

“Definitely. See you later, Kyle,” Isabel added pointedly before she headed for the door. As she stepped outside, she nearly plowed into Max.

“Hey, Iz. Hey buddy,” Max grinned at his nephew.

“What are you doing here, Max?” Isabel asked.

“It’s good to see you too,” he muttered. “I’m just stopping in to visit my wife and have a late lunch.”

“Let Liz place your order this time,” Isabel reminded. “I don’t think you’re allowed in the kitchen.”

Max shrugged innocently. “I was just trying to help.”

*****

Maria quietly let herself into Michael’s apartment, setting her bags on the kitchen counter. The television was blaring from the next room, and she could make out the back of Michael’s baseball cap-clad head. In the dim light she could see the outline of a blue maple leaf. Hm. She thought that cap was still sitting on her dresser from the time he’d forgotten it after…oh well.

She lifted the takeout containers from the bag, containing two Will Smith burgers and an order of Orbit Rings. Tiptoeing toward the living room, preparing the surprise him, she nearly jumped out of her skin when the television suddenly muted.

Michael got to his feet, turning to face her. “I saw your reflection in the screen,” he explained, his voice low.

“Oh.” Maria paused, grinning at him. “I brought your favorite,” she informed him, holding out the Styrofoam container.

“I’m not hungry.”

Maria began to grow nervous at the way Michael was standing there, looming over her. He looked…really pissed. “Did Toronto lose?” she asked carefully.

“They’re up by six.” He paused, his jaw tight. “Maria, I stopped by your house earlier. Your mom let me in.”

“Okay…”

“I knew I left this somewhere in your room,” he indicated his backward cap.

“It looks like you found it,” she agreed, shifting her weight. Where was this going?

“Yeah, I found it. I found something else, too.” Reaching into his shirt pocket, he retrieved a small object. Maria squinted in the dim light. A thin, flat piece of…what was it, metal? No…she suddenly recognized it.

“Maria, where the hell did you find this?”



posted on 5-Aug-2002 7:02:01 PM by McGees
Well, I got a new part done with time to spare. 2crazy4roswell, I would love to join you for lunch, but unfortunately I'm only going to be out in Cali for a few days. It's a family sight-seeing trip (which are always interesting, no?) and I'm not sure if I'd be able to coordinate it in time. A fabulous thought, though!

Anyway, this new part is mainly transition. Stuff that needs to happen before more stuff can happen and our tale comes to an end. You know the drill!


39

“Where the hell did you get this?” Michael repeated.

Maria stepped back a little as Michael’s fist closed around the object. His hand opened again, and the material unfurled itself from a crumpled ball back to its original flatness.

“Answer me!”

“Arizona,” Maria answered finally, her cheeks flushed with anger. “And stop yelling at me!”

“Arizona?!” Michael paused, taking a deep breath to calm himself. “You’ve had this since Arizona and you didn’t say anything?”

“Things were hectic,” Maria defended herself. “I didn’t think much of it, I just thought it was kind of cool. I put it in my drawer and just kind of forgot about it.” She planted her hands on her hips. “Why do you care, anyway?”

“Maria, this is exactly like what we found a couple years ago,” Michael reminded impatiently. "Here. Near the crash site. It might be related, and now you find the same thing in Arizona?” Abruptly, he pushed past Maria to the phone.

She turned and stared at him. “What are you doing?”

“Calling Max. We have to figure out what this means.”

“He’s not home. They’re having dinner at Liz’s parents’ tonight,” Maria informed him.

“Fine, I’ll call his cell.”

“God, Michael, can you just not?” Maria exclaimed. “Why do we have to start something right now?”

“Don’t you realize how serious this is –“

“Yes, Michael, and that’s why I want you to think about this,” she insisted, pressing the hold button on the phone. “You can’t just drop everything and go chasing after something that wasn’t even there!”

Michael froze, as if he’d been punched. “I thought you were behind me in all of this,” he said, his voice low, hurt.

Maria sighed, sinking onto a kitchen stool. “You know I am. But Michael, think about what you’re saying. It’s been quiet on the alien front for two years now. Why make trouble for yourself – and Max and Isabel? Michael, Isabel has a baby now. She can’t just go running off into the desert on a whim. And Max…god, you can’t expect him to just leave Liz right now. They don’t need the stress, or the worry…not now, Michael. If something happened to that baby…I don’t think they could take it,” she trailed off, her voice dropping to a whisper.

Michael was clearly deep in thought as he crumpled the object and watched it reshape, almost as if he expected to find the answer in its shiny surface.

“At least…wait until after Christmas,” Maria continued quietly. “A few weeks won’t change anything. Michael…please.”

He studied the object in his hand for a long moment before finally raising his eyes to Maria. “I hope you’re right.”

*****

“We really appreciate this.” Jesse passed his son over to Liz and straightened his tie.

Isabel inspected her lipstick in the living room mirror. “There’s no way he’d make it through the dinner and speeches,” she remarked.

“It’s no problem,” Liz insisted, bouncing Evan on her hip. “We were going to stay in and study and decorate the tree tonight anyway.”

“Besides, we could use the practice,” Max added, taking the large diaper bag from Jesse.

Isabel turned from the mirror and made a face at her son, smiling when he giggled. “I hope he won’t be any trouble, but you’ve got Jesse’s cell number if something comes up,” she said, adjusting her black shawl. “Bye sweetie, be good for your Aunt Liz and Uncle Max,” she cooed to the baby, planting a kiss on his forehead.

Jesse burst out laughing at the bright red lipstick mark now adorning his son’s head. “So much for your lipstick, honey.”

“We’ll take care of it,” Liz assured, ushering them toward the door. “It wouldn’t be any good for the coordinator to be late.”

Max helped Evan wave goodbye as Isabel and Jesse hurried out the door, and then turned to Liz. “Here we go.”

“Do you think there’ll be a test on this at the end of the night?” Liz asked, studying her nephew as he blew bubbles.

“I don’t know about a test," Max quipped slyly, a wicked gleam in his eye.

“You’re going to have to learn how to control that libido, mister,” Liz teased, waltzing toward the kitchen and leaving Max to pout.

*****

“Kyle, I really appreciate you coming with me tonight.”

Kyle glanced over to the passenger’s side and smiled at Serena. “I’m flattered,” he said honestly. Sure, he had finals in two days and he’d had to rent a tux and bum a pair of shoes that were a size too small off his dad, but it was well worth it to spend an evening with Serena. Serena, who was breathtaking in a deep green form-fitting gown, her blond hair upswept in tiny ringlets.

He tore his eyes off of her long enough to park the car, and then hurried around to open the door for her. Serena smiled as he offered his arm and led her through the cool December night to the banquet hall.

Once their invitation and Serena’s coat had been checked, they made their way to the extravagant ballroom. It was decorated in an elegant Christmas theme, with lush holly berry arrangements adorning each table. “I’ve heard we’re seated at the same table as one of the charity coordinators,” Serena whispered. “It’s a real honor. They’ve done so much for the postnatal ICU in the last year, and especially with the holiday season…it can be a rough time for the new parents.”

Kyle nodded dumbly as he followed Serena. Spotting their place markers, they sat down and watched as other members of the Roswell Memorial Hospital staff, volunteers, and others who would hopefully be donating money, began taking seats as well.

“Jesse, do you have the invitation?” Isabel asked anxiously as they stepped into the lobby.

He pulled an envelope from the inside of his tux jacket and smiled reassuringly. “Honey, I don’t think they’d turn away one of the speakers.”

Isabel took a deep breath and nodded, feeling in her handbag for the notecards she’d made up. They checked in and headed for the banquet hall, but Isabel was certain she wouldn’t be able to eat a thing. Usually speaking in public wasn’t a problem for her, but she’d never spoken about such an important cause in front of so many important people before.

“I think we’re over here, honey,” Jesse spoke up, guiding her toward a table near the front of the large room. Several people were already seated, including a couple with their back to them. “Isn’t she wearing your dress, Isabel?”

Isabel eyed the blonde woman. Sure enough, she had the same evergreen gown, complete with spaghetti straps and a plunging back. Wonderful. “Jesse, I can’t sit next to her,” she hissed. “It would look silly.”

“Isabel, you’re being ridiculous.”

Kyle glanced around. He could swear he heard Jesse’s voice. And the name Isabel. Who else would be-

“Oh wow, hello!” Serena spoke up suddenly. Kyle turned again, and sure enough, there stood Isabel and Jesse.

*****

“A little to the left. Right…about…there! Perfect!”

Max stepped back from the tree and studied the angel at the top. It had been a gift from Liz’s parents the previous Christmas, and Liz just loved it. “Looks good to me.”

Liz shifted Evan in her arms and cocked her head. “You know what? I think it’s still a little lopsided.”

“But you said it was perfect,” Max protested.

“But then I looked at it from this angle,” Liz countered. “Maybe if you’d let me get up there and do it-“

He shook his head. “Liz, I don’t want you climbing up so high.”

“Max, it’s a stepstool.”

Max sighed. She sure wasn’t making his job any easier. Didn’t she understand he was just trying to protect her? “Let me try this.” He raised his hand and concentrated, and the angel shifted just slightly. “How’s that?”

"Now it’s perfect,” Liz grinned. “What do you think, Evan? Did we do a good job?” She looked down at the baby, who had been happily entertained by the lights on the tree. Now, he gummed impatiently on his fingers. “Are you hungry, kiddo?”

Max’s nose wrinkled. “I think maybe he needs a new diaper, too.”

“I’ll do the honors,” Liz offered. “Why don’t you mix up some of his dry cereal, the box is in his bag.”

Dry cereal. That sounded simple enough. Max headed for the kitchen. Opening the box, he peered inside at the white flakes. Hmm. Retrieving a bowl from the cabinet, he dumped some of the contents out and eyed them. Somehow, it didn’t seem quite right. Sure enough, he turned the box over and studied the picture of the smiling baby being spoon-fed some soupy gunk. “That’s disgusting,” he muttered. However, the baby seemed to approve, so he figured there must be some way to get the flakes to look like that. Milk, maybe? Babies drank milk. He reached into the fridge for the skim milk that Liz always bought and dumped a generous amount into the bowl. Studying the mess of floating flakes, he frowned. That looked even more disgusting than what was on the box. Maybe-

“Max, how’s his cereal coming?” Liz asked, walking into the kitchen with a freshly changed Evan. She peered over his shoulder and made a face. “What did you do?”

“I don’t know,” Max shrugged helplessly. Great. Just great. He was going to be a father in less than seven months, and what did that make him if he couldn’t even make cereal?

Liz handed Evan over to him. “Here, let me do it.”

Max watched as Liz busied herself pouring another bowl of flakes, just a little this time, and measured out some water before adding it to the mixture. She placed it in the microwave for a few moments before retrieving it and stirring it into soupy gunk. Just like the picture on the box. How in the world did Liz know how to do all this stuff?

She stifled a smile, noticing the baffled look on her husband’s face. “It’s called reading the directions, babe,” she said, patting him on the behind before settling the bowl on the table. “Here, put him in his carrier.”

Max nodded dumbly and did as he was told. Evan kicked his feet happily as Liz fastened a bib around his neck and scooped up a spoonful of the goopy cereal.

“Yum,” she cooed, coaxing his mouth open and spooning in the contents.

As he watched his wife interact with their nephew, Max couldn’t help but smile. She was going to be an amazing mother. He pulled up a chair beside Liz and pulled her thick hair over her shoulder. “Iz said he likes to spit it out sometimes,” he explained.

“Thanks,” Liz smiled. She was silent for a moment, spooning another mouthful into Evan’s waiting mouth, and then giggled. “This is ridiculous. His food is actually making me hungry.”

Max resisted the urge to gag at the mere sight of Evan’s cereal, but he didn’t argue. “Good. You need to eat more. I’ll get something for you.” He pushed back his chair and peered into the refrigerator. Just as he thought. Pudding cups. He knew how much she loved them, and he loved them because of the calcium. Pulling the top off a cup, he grabbed a spoon and a half-empty bottle of Tabasco and returned to the table.

Sprinkling a generous amount of the spicy sauce onto a spoonful of pudding, he scooted closer to Liz. “Open up.”

Liz turned and burst into laughter as Max proceeded to mimic an airplane and “fly” the spoon toward her mouth. “You’re such a dork,” she giggled before closing her mouth over the chocolate. Closing her eyes, she sighed at the delicious taste. “Mmmm.”

Max felt his skin flush at the sight of his wife’s tongue poking out and sweeping a dab of chocolate from her lip. He scooped up another spoonful of pudding and repeated his airplane maneuver, much to the delight of Evan. It was his shriek of laughter that distracted Liz from her husband, who was eyeing her every move and making her body heat up under his gaze. “Um…I have to finish…” she stammered, turning her attention back to the baby.

“You still have a little…” Max trailed off, tilting her face back toward his. He lowered his lips to hers, nibbling at the corner of her mouth and removing any extra chocolate. Sweet and spicy…just what he liked on Liz.

A soft whimper escaped Liz’s throat and she sighed. “Max…we can’t…”

“I know,” he whispered, nuzzling her neck. “Later.”

“Mmm-hmm.” She opened her eyes and pecked his lips again before glancing at Evan, who was watching his aunt and uncle impatiently. What did a baby have to do to get some food around here?

*****

Isabel returned to her seat with a sigh of relief, the applause still thundering throughout the room.

“You were great, sweetheart,” Jesse whispered, kissing her cheek.

Serena grinned at her from the other side of Jesse. “If that doesn’t convince them to donate to the ICU, I don’t know what will.”

“Thanks,” she said, a smile returning to her face as her heart began to slow. Her smile widened as Kyle flashed her a thumbs up.

Serena turned to Kyle. “I’m going to run to the ladies room before the next speaker,” she told him.

Kyle nodded, helping her to her feet and watching as she made her way toward the hall. He turned back to Isabel and leaned over the seat. “If I wasn’t a poor college kid, you’d totally have my money.”

“Thanks, Kyle,” Isabel chuckled. As surprised as she had been to see Kyle there tonight, she had to admit it was nice to have another friend for support. And as much as she hated to admit it, especially considering the dress incident, she’d also enjoyed talking with Serena. She should have known she might be there, what with her working at the hospital, but Serena had no idea Isabel had such a hand in planning the charity drive. Kyle, however, should have known. Though Isabel’s Christmas Nazi tendencies had been uncharacteristically low-key this year, there was no way she would let the season go by without some kind of volunteer work.

Isabel glanced at her watch. “Honey, I want to check on Evan real quick.”

Jesse nodded and pulled his cell phone from his pocket. Isabel took it and headed back toward the bathrooms, where she could speak on the phone without looking tacky. Just as she was about to turn the corner, a voice stopped her. She peered around the wall and saw Serena at a payphone.

“I know, Jay. I’ll be home soon, I promise. Okay. Okay, honey, I love you too.” Serena hung up the phone and turned to head back into the banquet hall, not even noticing Isabel on the other side of the wall.

Isabel stared after her for a moment. Jay?

*****

“I had a really good time tonight.”

Kyle turned onto Serena’s street and smiled. “I did too.” Who knew he could have so much fun at a charity dinner? He supposed it was Serena’s bubbly personality. It seemed almost infectious…even for Isabel, which surprised him. She’d been a bit chillier later in the evening, but he supposed it was because she was tired and wanted to get home to the baby.

He jumped as Serena’s hand suddenly came to rest on his knee. “Thanks again, Kyle. Really…it meant a lot to me that you came with me.”

Swallowing hard, Kyle squinted at the houses. “Um, I was glad to,” he managed, finding her house and slowing down. “Who’s car is that?” he asked, noticing a small black car parked out front.

Serena waved her hand. “Must be a neighbor,” she said as he pulled to a stop.

Kyle nodded, turning to face her. “Well…I hope you have a Merry-“ He was cut off abruptly as she cupped his face in her hands and kissed him. A real kiss this time. Their lips slanted over one another, and he gently reached up to touch her cheek.

She broke away breathlessly, her eyes wide. “I…Kyle…”

“Shh,” he urged, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Why don’t I…walk you in…” he suggested quietly. He watched her hesitate, and then sigh.

“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” she whispered. “Merry Christmas, Kyle.” And with that, she quickly kissed him again and got out of the car.

Kyle watched as she hurried up her front walk. It was only then, as he watched her fumble for her keys, that he noticed a light on in the front room. A room that had been dark when he picked her up just hours before.

*****

“I don’t know, Jesse, it just seemed a little strange,” Isabel was saying to her husband as they walked down the hall toward Max and Liz’s apartment.

“I wouldn’t worry too much about it,” Jesse answered. “It’s not as if they’re dating or anything.”

“Thank god,” Isabel muttered. That was the last thing they needed. It was bad enough that Kyle was spending time with someone who was so close to knowing their secret, but…

“Isabel. Stop,” Jesse urged gently. “Tonight went wonderfully. Don’t dwell on this, okay?”

She closed her eyes and nodded. “Okay. You’re right.”

He smiled and kissed her cheek before ringing the apartment doorbell. After a few moments, Max came to the door in his pajamas.

“Did we wake you up?” Isabel asked in surprise. “It’s only 10 o’clock.”

“Nah, we were studying in our room,” Max answered, ushering them inside. “Evan fell asleep in his carrier right after you called, so we just let him sleep in the living room.”

Isabel smiled down at her sleeping son. “So he was okay for you tonight?” she asked, gathering his bag as Jesse lifted the carrier.

“Yeah. He even finished a bowlful of that disgusting stuff you call cereal.”

Once they were on their way, Max closed and locked the front door and headed back to the bedroom. Liz was paging idly through her statistics book, which was balanced on her stomach. Her large, very round stomach. Max blinked and did a double take. He blinked again. She didn’t look like that when he left her, not five minutes ago! “Liz?” he managed.

She looked up and saw the panicked expression on her husband’s face. “Relax, Max, it’s a pillow.”

Swallowing hard, Max slowly moved toward the bed. “Yeah, I…I knew that.” This pregnancy had been perfectly normal, he knew that, yet he still found himself braced for some kind of alien complication. “Um, can I ask why you have a pillow under your pajamas?” he ventured.

Liz rubbed her hands over her belly, studying the roundness. She looked up at him again and bit her lip. “It’s silly,” she sighed. When Max still stood silent, waiting for an answer, Liz’s eyes dropped back down to her abdomen. “When I’m this big, will you…will you still be attracted to me?” she asked quietly.

Max continued to stare at her. How could she even ask something like that? “Liz,” he sighed, sinking onto the bed beside her and taking her hands in his. “Love, you take my breath away. Every time I look at you. You know that, don’t you?”

Liz hesitated. “Even though I’m going to be huge?”

“Listen to me,” Max began, kissing her fingertips. “Liz, our daughter is living inside of you. Do you know how amazing that is?” When Liz nodded, he continued. “It’s the most beautiful thing I can imagine. So if you think I’m not attracted to you, you’re wrong. Now more than ever, Liz…you take my breath away.”

By the time he finished, Liz’s eyes were shimmering with tears. Max smiled and curled up against her, resting his head on her belly. “This is very comfortable,” he informed her.

Liz brushed the tears away and giggled, watching as Max reached under her nightshirt and pulled out the pillow. His hand sought out her soft flesh, and he grinned at the soft glow from their child. “Even better.”

posted on 14-Aug-2002 1:51:55 AM by McGees
Thanks for the replies and bumps, everyone! Well, this girl had lots of fun in California...as a matter of fact, I do believe I'd like to live out there one day. San Juan Capistrano, more specifically. Not quite as busy and smoggy as LA itself. Unfortunately, I didn't get out to Covina. That was disappointing, but I did get to see the sets for Days of Our Lives (another guilty pleasure *tongue* ) While Salem Place is probably nowhere near as exciting as, say, the UFO Center would have been, it was quite fun.

Anyway...on with the story!


40

“Max, baby, I need you!”

Seconds later Max skidded into the bedroom. “What? What’s the matter?”

Liz burst out laughing at the look of panic on her towel-clad husband’s face. “Why would something be the matter?”

“I don’t know, Liz, maybe the fact that you were just screaming for me?”

Liz snorted. “I did not scream for you.”

Max sighed, knowing there was no point in arguing with his hormonal wife. He didn’t want to make her cry. But really, did she have to keep doing that? It scared him to death when she yelled for him. Even though Liz had entered her second trimester with no complications, Max was still on his toes. All the time. No matter how crazy it made Liz. And what was Liz yelling about, anyway?

“These are the roomiest pants I could find and they’re not fitting. I think I need you to do it for me again,” Liz’s voice interrupted his thoughts.

Max smiled in spite of himself. Their daughter was growing, and Liz, in turn, was growing out of her clothes. He glanced down at the drawstring pants Liz was struggling to fit into, and placed his hands over the slight curve of her belly. Beneath his palms, the fabric of the pants extended until Liz could comfortably wear them.

“Thank you, baby,” Liz smiled down at Max as he knelt before her, tying the drawstring and placing a kiss on her stomach. Having a husband with magic hands sure would cut down on the cost of maternity clothes. Her grin broadened as those magic hands slid to her hips, caressing her. “Max?” she ventured, running her fingers through his damp hair.

“Hmm?” he mumbled, his hands moving up her body as he straightened.

“As much as I would love to start something…” She paused, capturing his lips in hers. “…I have class in twenty minutes…”

“I know,” Max groaned at the loss of her heat as she pulled away, and then jumped in surprise as her hand whipped the towel from around his waist.

She gave his manhood a good, solid tug, smirked, and said, “Later.”

Max gaped at her as she headed for the door. “I’m holding you to that, Liz Evans!” he called after her. He sighed, reaching for the towel puddled at his feet. Maybe he should have waited for that shower…

*****

“How much do you want to bet that I won’t fit behind this desk by midterm,” Liz said to Isabel as they took their seats in the lecture hall.

“Liz, you’re barely showing,” Isabel informed her, waving to Kyle as he appeared in the doorway.

Liz grinned to herself as she glanced down and touched her stomach. Sure, things would probably get a little awkward and uncomfortable, but she didn’t mind. Her mother was constantly commenting on the “glow” about her, and Liz had to smile at the irony. Having a part of Max inside her again left her feeling so full of hope.

“Liz, are you gonna cry or something?” Kyle asked warily as he took a seat on the other side of Isabel. She had that look in her eyes, the one she’d get over the littlest things these days. Hormones. They confused the hell out of him.

With an exaggerated sniffle, Liz turned and stuck her tongue out at him. “I might if you don’t stop picking on me.”

Kyle raised his hands in surrender and then turned to Isabel. “I need some advice.”

“Look, I already told you how I feel about that stupid goatee. If you grow it back, I’m not going to-“

“It’s not about the goatee,” Kyle interrupted witheringly. “Serena’s birthday is this Friday, and I want to take her out to dinner.”

“How about Cow Pie’s,” Isabel suggested dryly.

He gave her a look. “Listen, I know you’re not Serena’s biggest fan. And it’s up to you whether or not you’re going to accept her. But I care a lot about her, and I’d appreciate it if you’d respect my decisions.”

Liz stared at her friends in surprise. Good for Kyle. And judging by the look on Isabel’s face, she was a bit taken aback by Kyle’s response as well.

Clearing her throat, Isabel tucked a strand of chin-length hair behind her ear. “You could take her to The Rosebud,” she said finally. “That’s where Jesse took me for my birthday, and it’s really nice. A little pricey, but-“

Kyle nodded firmly. “The Rosebud it is,” he decided as their professor stepped into the lecture hall and prepared to begin class.

*****

“Do you remember what tomorrow is?” Liz’s eyes slid over to Max as she flipped through her day planner.

Max rolled onto his side, pretending to think hard. “Well, I don’t have class tomorrow. So it can’t be a test-“ He laughed as Liz hit him across the chest with a pillow and pulled her into his arms. “Of course I remember,” he said, hugging her close so she couldn’t attack him any more.

“Are you excited?” she asked, snuggling against him and listening to the steady rhythm of his heartbeat.

“I am,” he replied, kissing her forehead. “And I’m pretty sure you are too.”

Liz nodded, running her fingers over Max’s bare chest. She looked up at him, a coy smile crossing her face, and her hands slowly trailed lower. They ran over the elastic of his boxers, and Liz felt him beginning to stir against her thigh. “Just how excited are you?” she teased, her voice growing husky.

Max’s lips moved down her jaw line. “Definitely…excited…” he managed between kisses.

Smiling against his lips, Liz shifted her body up onto his. She straddled him between her thighs, pushed him back onto the bed, and proceeded to kiss him senseless.

His body swelled to life beneath hers, pulsing against her core until the pressure was almost unbearable. Though their intimate moments had never been lacking, over the last month his wife had become a regular vixen in bed. He supposed it could be attributed to those raging pregnancy hormones, but whatever the case was, he was a happy man. “God…Liz,” he groaned raggedly as she rocked against him.

“Touch me,” she breathed, her straining nipples drilling into his chest through the thin material of her nightshirt. The low moan she emitted when his fingers sought out the sensitive flesh of her breasts set Max on fire. He cupped her firmly, almost so that he was afraid it would cause her discomfort, but she only ground her body closer to his.

“Liz…oh god, Liz…” It seemed to be the only words, the only thoughts he could form as his hands strayed from her breasts and moved down her body. He was surprised and extremely aroused to discover that his wife was not wearing panties. She’d planned this, the little minx.

Liz gasped as she felt two of his fingers invade her body, stroking her and coating themselves in her wetness. She shivered, her sounds of pleasure escaping from deep in her throat.

“Is this what you wanted, baby?” Max purred into her ear, his fingers driving in and out as his thumb began to circle her clit.

She reached into his boxers in response, retrieving his swollen erection. “This is what I wanted,” she breathed, running her hand over the pulsing flesh. Her excitement pooled around his fingers when he jumped at her touch, and she kissed him again. “You’re so hard,” she murmured, guiding him toward her center.

Max nodded, his jaw tight as he slid his fingers from her body. “You’re…perfect…” he managed as his head explored her slick folds. He entered her quickly, filling her with a strangled groan as she immediately began to move over him.

Their pace was hungry but languid, intent on giving and receiving as much of one another as they were capable. Max knew he was ready – heck, he’d been ready practically from the moment Liz began her little seduction – but he held on, waiting for the moment when they could explode together. He could see it in her eyes, knew she was close, and when she pressed her hand to his chest, they were there.

Crying out his name as her own name was echoed through the room, Liz closed her eyes. She was there, just as they knew she would be, a shimmering vision of hope and strength and beauty. Waiting for them, guiding them…the ever-present reminder of their love.

*****

“You’re certainly looking chipper this afternoon.”

Max glanced up at his boss and smiled. “Yeah, I guess I am.”

Brody watched as his young employee continued filing, whistling to himself as he went. “It wouldn’t by any chance have something to do with your leaving early today?”

Sliding the filing cabinet shut, Max straightened. His smile broadened as he turned to Brody. “Liz has a doctor’s appointment,” he confided. “It’s her first sonogram.”

Brody clapped his hand on Max’s shoulder. “How exciting,” he declared.

Max nodded, grinning. In all honesty, he was bordering on giddy. Sure, they’d seen their baby in visions many times – the night before, actually - but there was something so…comforting about the thought of today’s procedure. It was normal, and human, and something they wouldn’t have to be so secretive about. Brody, for example, was thrilled for them. He’d been wonderful when they lost Gabriel, telling Max to take off as much time as he needed. The most important thing for Max to do, he’d said, was to take care of himself and Liz. And now, with this new baby, Brody had been just as supportive. He’d already decided to line up extra summer help so that Max could take plenty of time off with Liz and the baby.

“I remember when Alena was pregnant with Sydney,” Brody was saying wistfully. “That was the happiest we ever were together. And when you hold your child in your arms for the first time…” he trailed off with a sigh as the phone in his office began to ring. “Be sure to bring in a sonogram picture tomorrow, will you?”

Max nodded, watching as Brody hurried to answer the phone. He was happy he could share some of this with him, just as Liz was thrilled her parents could be let in on this aspect of her pregnancy. It was difficult for her, not being about to tell them about Max, or share with them that they would be having a granddaughter, but she knew it was better this way.

Brody reappeared moments later, pulling on his jacket. “I have to go down to Artesia,” he began, searching his pockets for his keys. “Sydney’s school just called. She has a fever, but Alena’s in a meeting and can’t be reached.” He glanced at his watch. “I shouldn’t be much more than an hour. I just have to wait until Alena can come home.” Seeing the look on Max’s face, he added, “Don’t worry. I’ll be back in plenty of time for you to get to the appointment.”

*****

Liz fished through her purse for her house keys. She wondered why the door would be locked – Max should be home by now, shouldn’t he? Pushing open the front door, she set her backpack on the floor and glanced around the quiet living room. “Max?”

There was no answer. Maybe he was taking a nap. He’d been working some extra hours again lately, and between that, classes, and his constant desire to take care of her, she worried he hadn’t been getting enough sleep. “Max, babe, are you home?”

Just then her cell phone rang. She reached into her purse to retrieve it, answering with a quick, “Hello?”

“Hi baby, it’s me.”

“Max? Where are you? The appointment’s in a half hour.”

Max sighed, rubbing his eyes. “I know, Liz. I’m stuck at work,” he said regretfully before explaining the situation. It had been over an hour and a half, and Brody still hadn’t returned.

“Oh,” came Liz’s quiet voice.

Max could picture the look on her face, and it broke his heart. He hated to disappoint her. “You know what, I’ll just close early. Okay? I know Brody would understand, and-“

“No, Max,” Liz cut in. “The center needs the business, and I – I’ll be okay. Just…even if it’s a little late…you’ll come, right?”

“Of course I will,” Max promised. “I’ll get there as soon as I can. I love you.”

“We love you too,” Liz answered quietly before placing the phone back in her bag. She sighed, fighting back tears as she touched her stomach. “Looks like it’s just you and me, kid.”

Max hung up the phone in the center’s office, cursing under his breath. He couldn’t do this to Liz. Grabbing a set of keys from Brody’s desk, Max marched toward the door. Just as he was about to tell the few occupants of the museum that they were closing, the front doors swung open and Brody rushed inside, accompanied by a young girl with a box of tissue in hand.

“Max, I’m so sorry I’m late,” Brody apologized, ushering Sydney inside. “Alena’s meeting ran late, so I brought Sydney home with me.” He paused, squeezing his daughter’s shoulder. “She’s going to be furious with me, but Sydney enjoys the museum. Don’t you, sweetheart?”

Sydney nodded drowsily. “When I’m feeling good.”

Max couldn’t help but smile as he watched Brody with his daughter. He’d seen her on several occasions since he’d healed her, but he could hardly believe how much she’d grown since then. “If there’s one thing that will make you feel better, it’s an Alien Blast,” he said, chuckling at the irony as he nodded in the direction of the Crashdown across the street.

“But Max has to be going now, don’t you Max?” Brody continued. “Sydney, remember what I told you in the car? Max and his wife are going to have a little baby soon, and he has to go be with her.”

“Okay,” she nodded. “Bye, Max.”

“Bye, Sydney, feel better soon,” he replied before turning to Brody with a grin. “See you tomorrow.” And then Max was off. He had an appointment to make.

*****

“I’m glad you made it,” Liz whispered, linking fingers with Max as they followed the nurse through the waiting room door.

“I wouldn’t have missed it,” Max answered with a smile. He noted that there wasn’t even any question this time about whether or not he would accompany Liz to the exam room. They were probably used to him by now.

Liz’s exam was completed quickly, and before they knew it Dr. Sinclair was preparing the sonogram machine. Max scooted closer to Liz’s side, his thumb running soothing circles over her knuckles. His eyes searched hers, reassuring, as the doctor squirted the cool gel onto the slight curve of her belly.

A smile broke onto Liz’s face as the familiar whirring of their baby’s heartbeat filled the room. “I love that sound,” she murmured, squeezing Max’s hand.

He nodded his agreement, grinning down at her, before his eyes shifted to Dr. Sinclair.

“Everything sounds good,” he was saying as he flipped on the monitor’s screen. “Let’s take a look.”

Liz’s grip on Max’s hand tightened as she turned her head to the screen. It was dark and blurry, and she squinted in an attempt to make out anything.

Max, too, was studying the screen with great concentration. Dr. Sinclair chuckled as he watched the young couple and said, “A fetus of this size can still be a little difficult to detect,” he assured. Reaching over, he pointed out an area near the center of the screen. “Right there.”

Both Max and Liz leaned a little closer. “That’s…she looks like a little peanut,” Max said finally, his voice filled with awe.

“’She,’ huh?” Dr. Sinclair smiled. “Well, it’s a little early to determine the sex, but we can zoom in so you can get a better look at the baby.”

They watched, mesmerized, as the little shape began to take form. Her arms and legs were apparent, with tiny fingers and toes that were just barely visible. Max tore his eyes from the screen when he heard a soft sniffle, and looked up at Liz. The silent tears that slid down her cheeks nearly triggered his own, and he cupped her face in his hands, kissing her forehead.

Sensing that they needed a few minutes to themselves, Dr. Sinclair got to his feet. “I’ll have a sonogram picture printed for you to take home,” he said on his way out of the exam room.

“That’s her,” Liz murmured, her voice thick with emotion as Max smoothed her hair off her forehead and kissed her again. She could hardly believe that the tiny shape on the monitor was the same little girl they had seen again in the flash the night before. She would grow and change and be born and she was their daughter. Liz didn’t know whether to laugh or cry from the intensity of her emotion.

Max chuckled softly, gazing in wonder at the screen. “Our little peanut.”

*****

“Oh, don’t look like that. It was really nice to meet your dad.”

Kyle glanced at Serena and made a face. “I honestly didn’t plan that.” Boy, was that the truth. When Serena commented on the “sweet couple” sitting a few tables over, he was shocked beyond belief to discover his father and Amy DeLuca giving one another goo-goo eyes over a candlelight dinner. Amy, of course, noticed Kyle and proceeded to wave until she got his attention, and from there the round of introductions ensued. Apparently, his dad had decided to step it up a notch in the dinner-and-a-movie department, because The Rosebud was the last place he expected to see those two. Just the same, his father had been hinting that he’d like to meet the “young woman you’ve been spending so much time with,” and it seemed inevitable. Kyle had never really thought about it much, but they’d never just spent an evening in. In fact, he realized as he pulled into Serena’s driveway, he’d never seen the inside of her house.

“Well,” he began, “I hope you had a good birthday.” He was pretty sure she’d had a nice time, but then he was thrown off when she got so quiet during the ride home. She was thinking about something, and it made him a little nervous.

“I did, Kyle,” she said softly. “I had a wonderful birthday.” Serena studied him for a long moment. “Kyle…would you like to come in?”

“I…sure,” he answered finally. Kyle wasn’t sure what to make of this now. One minute he thought he’d done something wrong, and now she was inviting him in? Maybe that’s what she was thinking about. Maybe tonight he’d be getting lucky-

He managed to shut those thoughts up as he and Serena walked hand-in-hand up the front walk. There were lights on, he noticed, as she unlocked the front door and stepped inside. Kyle took in little details as he crossed into the front hall. Her house was warm…it was decorated in soft colors, comfortable. He noticed a few other things, too. Something was baking. The sweet aroma wafted into the hall, making his stomach grumble despite the dinner they’d just finished. A television was on in the next room; the volume was up a little too high. And then a little blonde head appeared around the corner.

“Mommy!”



posted on 27-Aug-2002 7:01:41 PM by McGees
Thanks for bumping, sorry it's been a while. I'm back at school now, so hopefully with more computer access I should be able to update more often. On to the next part!


41

Kyle froze at the sound of the young voice. Mommy? That wasn’t Serena…was it? But sure enough, the blonde child hurtled down the hall and into Serena’s arms.

“Hi sweetheart.” Serena balanced the toddler on her hip and smiled. “Have you been good for Grandma?”

The child nodded firmly. “We have a s’prise for you.”

An older woman came around the corner then. “Serena, is that...” She trailed off, noticing Kyle standing rather awkwardly in the doorway. “Hi there.”

Serena shared a look with her mother. “Mom, this is Kyle Valenti. Kyle, this is my mom, Carol Dodd.” She turned to face Kyle, biting her lower lip. “And this is my daughter, Jaycee.”

Finding his voice, Kyle finally spoke up. “It’s…it’s really nice to meet you both,” he managed, stepping forward a bit.

“Jaycee, Mommy has a surprise for you too,” Serena continued, brushing the child’s hair out of her face. “This is my friend Kyle, and I wanted you to meet each other.”

Peering around her mother’s neck, the little girl studied him with her deep blue eyes. “Hi.”

“Hi Jaycee,” Kyle answered, swallowing hard. “Um, how old are you?”

“I’m this many.” She awkwardly held up three little fingers.

Serena smiled. “And how old will you be on St. Patrick’s Day?” she prompted gently.

“This many!” she exclaimed, adding a pinkie finger.

“Wow, that’s…that’s really neat,” Kyle responded, managing a smile for the little girl. Serena’s little girl. . She had a three-and-a-half year old daughter, and he’d had no idea.

Carol smiled warmly. “Kyle, I’m glad you could join us. Jaycee, do you want to show your mommy her surprise?”

Jaycee nodded eagerly. “Come look!” she crowed, squirming out of Serena’s arms and taking her hand. “Happy birthday, Mommy!”

Kyle followed mother and daughter a bit more slowly. He jumped when Carol touched his arm. “Thank you for being so good to my daughter,” she said quietly.

Later, as the four finished slices of the cake that Jaycee had painstakingly frosted, the little girl tugged on Kyle’s sleeve. “Are you my momma’s friend?”

He smiled at the blonde child. “Yeah. Yeah, I am.”

Jaycee nodded thoughtfully, and then peered up at him again. “Do you kiss her?”

“Uh…” Glancing over to Serena for help, he saw her blush and try not to laugh. “Jay, that’s not very polite.”

“Jaycee, I really like your name,” Kyle said quickly, hoping to change the subject. “It’s much more fun than Kyle. Lots of people have my name.”

Jaycee nodded seriously. “A girl in daycare is Kyle too.”

“Exactly,” Kyle said with a chuckle.

“But my real name is Jacqueline Carol Dodd.” She covered her mouth with a high giggle. “Do ya get it? My ‘nitials are J and C!”

The adults chuckled right along with her, and then Carol pushed back her chair. “Miss Jaycee, I think we need to get you to bed. I have to get home, and Mommy and Kyle have a lot to talk about.” She offered her daughter a smile as Jaycee scurried to hug her goodnight.

“Night Momma,” she said, kissing her cheek. Suddenly turning shy, she peered at Kyle from her mother’s arms. “Night Kyle.”

Kyle smiled. “Goodnight, Jaycee. It was nice to meet you.”

“Only one story tonight. Grandma has to go home soon,” Serena warned, kissing her forehead and then wiggling her nose. “Eskimo kisses?”

Jaycee giggled with delight as they rubbed noses and then scampered after her grandmother.

When they were alone, Serena began toying with her napkin. “So…”

“So you have a daughter,” Kyle said softly.

She nodded, her eyes serious. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”

Kyle thought about this. “Why didn’t you?” he asked finally.

Serena was quiet for a long moment. “Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I love my daughter, and I am in no way ashamed of her. She is my life, and you’ve got to understand that.” She paused. “I didn’t tell you because I was protecting her. Both of us, really.”

“Protecting her from what?” he asked incredulously.

“From getting hurt,” Serena admitted. “I don’t care how clichéd it sounds. Fact is, there are a lot of clichéd guys out there. They don’t want baggage, all that.” She laughed bitterly.

“Like your last boyfriend,” Kyle said softly, beginning to understand. He remembered that night clearly; Serena, in her drunken state, telling him about the guy that had called her up and broken it off out of nowhere. Or maybe not… “Did he meet Jaycee?”

“Hell no,” she spat out. “I told him about her, though. That was enough to scare him off.”

Kyle nodded, not really sure what to say. He wasn’t exactly sure what he was feeling either. She hadn’t exactly lied to him, but she hadn’t been completely truthful either. Then again, neither had he. Either way, the look on her face told him that right now she thought he was about to pull the same move as her ex.

“Listen, Kyle. I know this isn’t what you were expecting, but it’s part of who I am. A really major part. So if you don’t feel comfortable just tell me.”

“Why did you let me meet her?” Kyle asked suddenly.

Serena fiddled with the handle of her coffee cup. “Because I feel like I can trust you,” she answered finally. “I…I really like you, Kyle. And I felt bad enough for not telling you about Jaycee after so long that I…I thought you should know. And if…if that means things being over between us, I understand.”

Kyle reached over and touched her hand. “Serena, I am not going to end things with us because you have a child,” he said. “I…I’d like to get to know her a little better. If that’s alright.”

A smile spread across Serena’s face. “I think that could be arranged,” she said, squeezing his hand.

Kyle returned her grin, despite his pounding heart. What was he getting into?

*****

Liz slowly faded into consciousness, her mind awakening after a deep night’s sleep. As her senses adjusted, she became aware of a quiet rumble. A voice singing. Max.

Her eyes opened, and as they adjusted to the morning sunlight she saw Max lying across the bed, dressed and ready for class. His hand was splayed over her belly, his face hovering near the growing bulge.

“…But the dawn is breaking, it’s early morn, The taxi’s waiting and he’s blowing his horn, Already I’m so lonesome, I could die…”

Liz’s stifled giggle caught his attention, and he lifted his face to meet hers. “Morning, sleepyhead.”

“Are you singing Peter, Paul and Mary to our child?” she asked, running her fingers through his hair.

“Hey, Frank Sinatra did it too,” he defended, turning his attention back to her glowing stomach and continuing to sing softly in his soothing voice. “So kiss me and smile for me, tell me that you’ll wait for me, hold me like you’ll never let me go, Because I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again…”

Liz settled back against the pillows with a smile, listening to her husband serenade their unborn daughter. He really did have a good voice. “Hey Max?” she ventured, a teasing lilt in her voice. “How come you don’t sing for me anymore?”

Max paused, again glancing up at his wife with pinkening cheeks. “I do…you’ve just never woken up before,” he said simply.

Her mouth opened a little as she studied him in surprise, and was again overwhelmed by the wave of love surging through her.

“…Oh babe, I hate to go.” Max finished his tune and placed a long, sweet kiss on the curve of her belly. “I love you,” he whispered. He turned back to Liz, scooting up to give her lips a kiss of their own. “And you, too,” he added.

*****

“Spaceboy! Where the hell are my Orbit Rings?”

Michael wiped his arm over his brow, yanking the basket from the hot oil. “Gimme two seconds!” He turned around to see Maria with her hands on her hips. “Does the ‘no waitresses in the kitchen’ rule no longer apply?”

“Not when it takes you fifteen minutes to make an order of Orbit Rings,” she shot back. “My tables are gonna start getting violent.”

“Sorry,” he muttered, dumping the rings into a basket. “I’ve just been really distracted lately.”

Maria narrowed her eyes, studying him. “What about?”

“I can’t stop thinking about that metal. Maria, it’s been months-“

“Maria, your table is getting really pissed,” Liz announced, appearing in the window. “How about those Orbit Rings?”

Maria glanced at Michael. “Later,” she said, grabbing the basket and hurrying out into the café. Maybe if she waited long enough he’d just forget about it.

After delivering the order to some very hungry patrons, Maria returned to the counter where Liz was refilling ketchup and Tabasco bottles. Isabel sat with Evan, who was experimenting with his first taste of Red Planet Tomato soup. She sank down in a stool beside Isabel and said, “Lucky for Michael’s ass we’re not very busy today.”

“No kidding. It took him twenty minutes to make my Galaxy Sub,” Isabel added, offering a spoonful of soup to Evan.

Liz watched as her nephew happily accepted the new concoction. “Does he like Tabasco?” she asked, offering a bottle to Isabel.

“You know, I’m really not sure,” Isabel admitted. “He’s never seemed to have a problem eating without it, and I’m not sure I want to try it until he can tell us if he wants it or not.”

“Good point,” Liz agreed. “I guess it’s an acquired taste.” She grinned, swiping a bit of sauce that had spilled over on the Tabasco bottle and popping it in her mouth.

“God Lizzie, that’s so gross,” Maria groaned. She noticed Liz rubbing the small of her back. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, just a little sore,” Liz assured. “I think I’m going to go on my break, if you don’t mind.”

Maria waved her hand. “Go for it. It’s not like we’re teeming with customers.”

“Hey Liz, how far along are you going to work?” Isabel asked with concern.

“Just until spring break,” Liz answered. “Max would like me to quit today, of course, but the doctor says it’s fine to be on my feet through the second trimester.” She rolled her eyes good-naturedly and turned toward the back room just as the bell above the door jingled.

“Oh look, it’s Kyle and Serena,” Isabel announced.

“And…a little kid…?” Maria trailed off as a young girl appeared behind Serena.

“I didn’t know Serena had a daughter,” Liz whispered as she watched the three come toward them.

“Something tells me Kyle didn’t either,” Isabel muttered, forcing a smile as Kyle and Serena waved.

“Hey guys,” Maria spoke up. “Can I get you a booth or something?”

“No, we’ll just sit at the counter,” Kyle replied. “Uh, guys, I’d like you to meet Serena’s daughter, Jaycee.” He turned to the little girl. “These are my friends Maria, Liz, and Isabel. And that’s Isabel’s little boy Evan.”

“Hi,” Jaycee spoke up shyly from where she clung to her mother’s leg.

“I told Jaycee she had to try one of the world famous Starry Night sundaes,” Kyle continued, ignoring the bewildered looks from his friends.

“Yeah, I’ll get right on it,” Maria said, turning and mouthing, “Holy shit!” to Liz before getting to work on the sundae.

Isabel eyed the three for a moment before clearing her throat. “Kyle, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Uh…yeah, okay.” He slid off the stool. “I’ll be right back,” he said to Serena and Jaycee.

“Could you hold Evan?” Isabel asked her sister-in-law.

Liz glanced from Kyle to Isabel. “Yeah, no problem,” she said, accepting her nephew and balancing him on her hip as she watched Isabel and Kyle head to the back room. She turned back to Serena with a shrug and then smiled at the little girl. “How old are you, Jaycee?”

As soon as the door swung shut behind them, Isabel exploded. “So she lied to you?” she demanded.

“Isabel, don’t start-“

“Kyle, she has a child and she didn't tell you about her. Doesn’t that seem a little strange?”

Kyle groaned. “Not considering the circumstances,” he answered. “And besides, Isabel…it’s really not any of your business.”

“What’s not any of her business?” Michael asked, leaning in from the kitchen.

“That Serena has a kid,” Isabel answered dryly.

Michael’s eyes widened. “No shit. That’s her kid out there?”

“Yes.” Kyle glared at Isabel. “I’m serious, Iz. Don’t make a big deal out of this. We’re just hanging out, and-“

“Kyle, she has a child,” Isabel broke in. “I don’t think you understand what a big deal that is.”

“Is she just looking to give the kid a father?” Michael spoke up. “Cause maybe you should tell her that you’re twenty and you’re broke.”

“A child is a huge responsibility,” Isabel added. “She’s just trying to use you to-“

“Isabel.” Liz appeared in the doorway. “Don’t, okay? We know you don’t like her, but…I mean, this is Kyle’s decision.” She turned to him. “Just…be careful.”

“I appreciate your concern,” Kyle said wryly, “but I think I can handle this myself.”

posted on 4-Sep-2002 10:18:22 PM by McGees
More for my favorite readers! (which is...well, all of you.) *tongue*


42

“Honey, I’m home!”

Liz turned from the pot of spaghetti on the stove to see her husband shut the front door behind him. “You’re so cheesy,” she said with a grin.

“You love it,” he shot back, tossing his work vest onto the couch and heading toward the kitchen. “Something smells fantastic.”

She smiled as he wrapped his arms around her from behind, and then wrinkled her nose. “It’s definitely not you.”

“Hey!” Max nuzzled against her neck. “I was moving things around in the autopsy display. That gurney is heavy.”

“Well, at least it puts food on the table,” Liz sighed in mock resignation as she nodded toward the pot of sauce.

Max placed a lingering kiss on the underside of her jaw. “If you’re done mocking me now, I’m going to get cleaned up before dinner.”

“Go.” Liz swatted him on the behind with her wooden spoon before reaching for a can of chili powder. It would taste fantastic in the sauce, she thought happily. Her stomach grumbled, and she cupped her hand over her belly with a smile. “You’re hungry, aren’t you?” As if in response, she felt a flutter against her palm.

“Oh my god,” Liz gasped, dropping her spoon with a loud clatter.

Max, who had only made it halfway down the hall with his shirt unbuttoned, heard this and felt his stomach twist in panic. “Liz?” He spun around, racing back to the kitchen. “Liz, what’s the matter?”

She turned to him, her eyes wide, hands spread over her belly. “Come feel,” she whispered in awe.

“What happened?” he repeated, approaching her cautiously.

Reaching for his hand, Liz placed it where hers had been. “At first I thought it was just my stomach grumbling, but then…there!” She looked up at him, a radiant smile spreading over her face.

Max’s heart nearly leapt from his chest as he felt the tiny movements from inside Liz’s womb. His eyes were filled with wonder as he looked up at Liz and murmured, “She’s really in there!”

“I think we already knew that, babe,” Liz laughed gently, her eyes shimmering with tears.

Grinning, Max entwined his fingers with Liz’s as they waited for any more movement from their child. “It's Daddy, Peanut. Hi,” he whispered before turning back to his wife. The unspoken love and joy radiated through him, and with a whoop, he lifted her up and spun in a circle. He kissed her soundly on the lips before setting her back on her feet, and Liz laughed out loud as she felt another flutter. “I think she’s excited, too.”

*****

Max capped his highlighter and set his marketing book aside. He turned toward Liz, who was engrossed in a reading of her own. The book was balanced on the ever-growing bulge of her tummy, rising and falling with each breath Liz took. Max couldn’t help the grin that spread over his face. He loved moments like this, when they relaxed in bed together, not needing to speak but simply enjoying the comfort of one another’s presence. He never got tired of watching her.

Liz, still oblivious to this fact, absently moved her hand to her stomach. Max noticed immediately and rolled onto his side. “Is she kicking?” he asked.

She glanced up in surprise, a smile crossing her face. “Yeah.” Taking his hand in hers, she placed it on the side of her stomach. “Feel that?”

Max nodded, the grin on his face widening. That was his little girl in there. “Hi Peanut,” he said softly, marveling at her movement. She’d become quite active in the last couple of weeks, and Max wanted to feel every little poke and flutter.

Liz almost had to laugh – the last few weeks it seemed as if Max’s hands were permanently glued to her stomach, drawn back again and again like he was. But she could understand it, his need for contact. It was one of the many things she marveled over, the constant link she had with her unborn daughter. It made her feel special, like she was part of some kind of secret that no one else was privy to. Max was close, of course, considering his intense connection with them both, but…this was different. Her maternal instincts had long since been anchored.

“She was moving like crazy during my philosophy class this afternoon,” Liz noted then. “She’s going to be smart, don’t you think?”

“Just like her mother,” Max answered, his hand moving lower on her belly.

“And I bet she’ll have her father’s charm,” Liz added in amusement.

Max grinned. “If she’s lucky.” With that, his fingers slowly continued their descent.

Liz arched an eyebrow. “Where are you going, mister?”

“Crazy,” he murmured. “Wanna come?”

Liz closed her eyes and nodded as a rush of heat flooded her body. Did she ever. She leaned back against the pillows, her breath hitching as his fingers inched toward her inner thigh.

Max’s breathing grew shallower as his hand moved under the silkiness of her nightgown. He could feel the heat radiating from her core, realizing that she was once again without panties. She’d been doing that lately, and it made him wild with desire. “You’re insatiable, you know that?” he mumbled.

Liz giggled as she felt his hardness brush against her leg. “Me?”

“Mmm.” His fingers danced over her hip before creeping into her curls. He grinned when she bent her knees, spreading her legs and inviting him in. He heard her breath catch as he propped himself on one elbow and slowly extended a finger out to touch her.

Letting out a soft whimper, Liz arched her back as she felt his gentle exploration. His finger ran up and down the length of her before carefully parting her swollen lips. “God…Max,” she gasped as he stroked over her slick walls.

Max lowered his head, inhaling his wife’s sweet arousal. He touched her reverently, basking in the sound of her soft moans, and allowed his fingers to penetrate her just once before he raised his eyes to meet hers. Slowly, his hands slid back to her hips, tracing up her body as his face drew close to hers. One hand cupped the side of her round belly as he whispered, “Do you know how incredibly sexy you are?”

Liz stared up at him, her eyes filling with tears. “Do you mean that?” she managed.

Max smiled gently, pressing a sweet kiss to her lips. “I am so unbelievably attracted to you,” he breathed, rubbing his hand over her belly.

She giggled a little then, blinking hard. “Hormones,” she groaned, touching the side of Max’s face when he stuck his tongue out at her. “Mine, not yours, you dork.”

“Hey!” He grabbed Liz’s wrists and pinned them above her head with one hand, tickling her sides with the other.

Liz shrieked with laughter, rolling onto her side in an attempt to escape him. “I’m sorry! I give!”

“That’s better,” Max huffed, slowing his fingers as she rolled onto her back again. Raising his hands in surrender, he added, “I’m done, I swear.” To prove his compliance, his hand slid back to her body, this time cupping her breast.

“You’re done, huh?” Liz asked, arching an eyebrow as his hand caressed her.

“Do you want me to be?” He ceased his movements.

“No…” A chill of pleasure ran down Liz’s spine as he urged first one nipple, and then the other, into fine peaks beneath the silk of her nightgown. She began to writhe beneath his ministrations, urging him on.

Max didn’t need much coercion as he rolled closer, lowering his face to her slightly swollen breasts. His tongue laved around her nipple over the thin fabric, and Liz thrust her breasts toward him.

His body was humming with anticipation, the ache in his groin steadily intensifying with each breathy moan Liz uttered. He knew what they both wanted, needed, and he groaned in appreciation as Liz’s hands set to work. She tugged his sweats over his hips, urging his body to find completion in the cradle of her thighs.

Bracing his body with his arms, he gazed down at his wife. “Are you okay?” he asked softly, urgently. “Am I hurting you?”

Liz shook her head. “No, Max, I feel amazing,” she assured. She wanted him to take her like this, blanketed in his warmth, knowing that any day now it would be impossible around the bulge of her belly. “Please,” she whispered, running her hands over the backs of his thighs.

He agreed silently, shifting so that his swollen head could find her. Together they sucked in their breaths as he began to enter her, slow and steady, until he was fully sheathed. “God, Liz,” he breathed, using his muscular arms to raise and lower himself into her burning center.

“Max…yes…” she gasped again and again as her body thrust up to meet his. She felt his hands move to her hips, lifting her into him and giving her extra support. His shaft drilled into her at just the right angle, making her cry out with pleasure.

Max grunted as he pounded in and out of her, building them up into a shared release. They cried out together as the precious flashes filled their consciousness, visions of life they had created from their love.

“Liz…oh god,” Max gasped, leaning over her on his elbows as the emotion clogged his throat. “She’s beautiful, Liz. So beautiful…”

Nodding silently, Liz rolled onto her side and drew a trembling Max into her arms. The images of their daughter were so fresh, her sweet face and expressive eyes…the miracle that they could see her and know her before she’d taken her first breath…it was overwhelming. Rubbing her hand over his bare back, Liz could only hold him as he clung to her, clung to the precious life she carried.

*****

“…Happy Birthday dear Jaycee, Happy Birthday to you!”

The little girl grinned as she leaned over her candles, taking a deep breath in an attempt to puff out all four at once. The small gathering of family and friends clapped and cheered as the last candle flickered and then went out.

Kyle sat at the end of the table, watching the scene before him. He was pleased that Serena had invited him to Jaycee’s birthday party, but a bit anxious at the same time. Although he’d gotten to know Jaycee a bit better the past few weeks, he knew that he must be pretty special if he was able to be a part of the celebration. That in itself caused him to put pressure on himself. The rest of the guests – Serena’s sister, her husband and two kids, and a couple of friends – seemed interested in Kyle, but no one was asking too many questions. Really, he was making the situation more stressful than it needed to be.

“So…how’re you feeling?” Serena asked a while later as they stood in the empty living room. Empty of people, anyway. The floor was still littered with wrapping paper and gifts that Jaycee hadn’t managed to wrestle into her room on her way to bed.

“Um…pretty good,” he answered, bending over to scoop up a stray ribbon. “It seemed like Jaycee had a good birthday.”

Serena nodded with a smile. “I hope so. I just…I think it’s probably going to get more difficult each year. You know, as Jaycee gets older.”

Kyle nodded wordlessly. That made sense, considering Serena had told him that Jaycee never met her father. “Does she ask about him much?”

“Not really,” Serena replied, brushing aside a scrap of wrapping paper and sinking onto the couch. “Of course, I don’t offer much anyway. The fact is, I barely knew him myself. I met him my freshman year at UCLA, and he disappeared before I even knew I was pregnant.” She sighed. “We moved here to Roswell when Jaycee was six months old so I could start up classes again somewhere new…and the rest is history.” She struggled to smile, but her lip was quivering.

“Hey…” Kyle whispered, sitting down beside her. “I don’t know much about kids, but Jaycee is a great one.” He tucked her hair behind her ear. “You’ve done a great job with her.”

Serena looked up with shining eyes. “Thank you, Kyle.”

He nodded again, this time tilting her chin up and moving in for a sweet kiss.

*****

“They’re not gonna make me, like, touch her stomach or anything, are they?”

Maria shifted her eyes from the road to Michael. “What?”

“I don’t know, Max keeps talking about the baby moving and how amazing it is and how I’ve just got to feel it, and-“

“Michael Guerin, does the miracle of life make you uncomfortable?” Maria teased.

“When I think about how it has to come out it does,” he answered with a groan.

“Lightweight,” Maria muttered as she put the Jetta into park outside of Max and Liz’s apartment building.

Michael made a face at her, but compliantly retrieved the Alien Green Lime Pie from beneath his seat and followed Maria inside.

“Maria, you are a goddess!” Liz declared as she threw open the front door and caught sight of the pie.

After giving her best friend a hug, Maria placed her hands on Liz’s belly and grinned. “And you-“

“-are getting bigger every day,” Liz groaned. “I saw you two days ago and I’ve probably put on as many inches since then.”

“No, no, no, bonita chica!” Maria laughed, giving Liz another hug as Max came in from the kitchen.

“That’s what I keep telling her,” he grinned. “It’s good to see you guys. You know, outside of the café and all.”

Maria took the box from Michael and headed for the kitchen. “Hey, a whole pie at the end of the night is cause for celebration."

“Something like that,” Michael muttered, his fingers digging into the pocket of his work jeans and touching the cool metal material he had hidden there.

*****

The soft sounds of Kyle and Serena’s sighs as they kissed were interrupted by the harsh ringing of Kyle’s cell phone.

“Shit,” he muttered, shifting his body off of hers and straightening his shirt before reaching into his back pocket. “It’ll be just a second.”

Serena nodded, her face flushed, gazing up at Kyle as he answered his phone.

“Hello?”

“Kyle? It’s Dad.”

Kyle sucked in a breath, trying to slow his heart and sound casual. “Oh hey Dad, what’s up?”

“The nursing home just called,” Jim said slowly.

He rubbed his eyes. Grandpa must have been throwing food again. “Why? Is something wrong?”

“Your grandfather died in his sleep tonight.”


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 4-Sep-2002 10:29:46 PM ]
posted on 9-Sep-2002 7:30:32 PM by McGees
Wanted to post more...I'll get the rest of this part up ASAP. Thanks for all the feedback - it was so great to hear from some of you who've been catching up! Oh, and it's the middle of March in the story, which makes Liz about 5 and a half months pregnant. For those of you who were wondering. *happy*

43a

“Mmm…god, this is amazing,” Liz groaned

Max swallowed, nearly choking, as his wife voiced her pleasure for the Green Lime Pie. Just the look on her face nearly made him hard, her eyes closed, tongue snaking out over her lips to catch a few stray crumbs. He jumped when someone kicked his leg.

“Maxwell?” Michael tapped the tabletop. “Maxwell, did you hear me?”

“Hm?” Max turned to see the determined look on Michael’s face. “What’s up?”

Michael glanced at the girls, who were chatting animatedly across the table. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Out there?” Michael nodded toward the living room.

Max shot him a confused look. “Whatever,” he shrugged.

Once they were out of the girls’ earshot, Michael started right in. “Max, there’s something I gotta show you.”

Again, Michael sent him a puzzled look. “Is everything okay? You’re not sick or anything, are-“

“No, it’s not that,” Michael interrupted. “Everything’s fine, I – I think.” He hastily reached in and dug through his pocket. “But I think you should-“

“Max! Come here, hurry!”

Max leapt to his feet at the sound of Liz’s urgent voice, cursing under his breath and leaving Michael without a second glance. “Liz? Liz, what’s wrong?”

And there she sat, hands pressed to her belly. “She’s got hiccups, Max,” she said with a giggle.

His panic faded away as he approached her, but he still felt bewildered. “Hiccups? How do you know-“

Liz took his hand and firmly planted it on the side of her protruding abdomen. “Tell me that’s not hiccups.”

Max grinned as he felt the exuberant life under her skin. “I didn’t know babies got those…already,” he said dumbly.

Maria watched on with a smile, knowing that Liz and Max had as good as forgotten she and Michael were even there. Michael stood in the doorway awkwardly, his fingers running over the smooth surface of the material in his pocket. He knew Maria would be angry, but he had to do this. It was now or never.

Riiing!

“I’ll get it,” Max spoke up, reluctantly straightening and sending Liz another grin. He lifted the receiver with a bright ‘hello,’ his fingers still tingling from the sensation of his daughter moving beneath his hand

Liz watched the silly grin on Max’s face fade, until his mouth was set in a firm line. “Is there anything we can do?” he asked finally. “Are you sure? Okay. Okay. I’m sorry, Kyle. And tell your dad we send our condolences. Right…we’ll be in touch.” He set the receiver down and turned to face a curious Liz, Maria, and Michael.

“What happened?” Liz asked softly.

“Jim’s dad died tonight.”

“Oh my god.” Liz’s hand rushed to her mouth

“How are Kyle and Jim doing?” Maria asked.

Max shrugged. “Trying to stay busy, I think. Making arrangements and things.”

Maria nodded thoughtfully, squeezing Liz’s shoulder. “Do they need anything?”

“Kyle mentioned they might need us to try and reach some of his old department buddies for the funeral.”

Michael nodded his agreement. “Definitely.” He sighed then. So much for now or never.

*****

“Thank you again for coming, Don,” Jim said, offering the elderly man a firm handshake. “It would have meant a lot to my father.”

“I tell you what, Jimmy, in spite of all that nonsense that got him into trouble, your father was a damn good cop. Damn good.”

Jim nodded somewhat uncomfortably. “You take care, Don.” He sighed deeply, turning back to the door of the funeral home as the slow trickle of people made their way to the casket.

“How’re you doing, Dad?”

Turning to his son, Jim accepted the styrofoam cup of coffee. “Thanks. I’m doing alright, I guess. Wondering how many of these people are here to pay their respects or just gawk at a crazy old man.”

Kyle touched his father’s shoulder. “But we know the truth, Dad.”

Jim nodded, sipping his coffee. “Max and Liz just walked in,” he noted with a short nod toward the door.

Liz gripped Max’s hand tightly as they stepped into the funeral home. Her eyes darted around the foyer, searching for any of their friends. She knew Amy and Maria would be here, and Michael, too, before his shift.

“You okay?” Max asked quietly, knowing it was a shallow question. The last time Liz had been here was for Alex’s wake. It may have been nearly three years, but the pain was still fresh when they thought of their friend, of the young life that had been ended so cruelly.

Taking a deep breath, Liz nodded. She could feel the flutter of her baby inside, and the presence of both her daughter and husband was comforting. “We should sign the book,” she suggested.

Max led her to the small leather-bound book provided by the funeral home and reached for the pen to scribble their names. As his fingers wrapped around it, his thoughts were bombarded. “Oh my god,” he muttered, his eyes quickly scanning the list of names.

“Max? What’s the matter?” Liz asked in alarm.

“Hubble’s partner.”

“What?” He’d spoken so softly she’d hardly heard him. “His partner?”

“His former partner,” Max repeated. “Paul Faulkner. Years ago, when they worked for the Santa Cruz P.D.”

Liz studied her husband. “How do you know all this?” she asked. “I didn’t know he’d ever been a cop.”

“I did my research,” Max answered simply.

“Oh my god, Max.” Liz’s eyes had grown wide. “You don’t think he knows who you-“

“No,” he assured quickly. “He left the department twelve years ago, even before Hubble did. The chances of him having spoken to Hubble in the days before he died-“

“But we can’t be too careful,” Liz broke in. “Do you think he’s still here?”

“We’ll talk to Jim,” Max replied, his voice soothing. “Please don’t worry, Liz, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Liz nodded as he wound his arm around her, guiding her to the Valenti’s. He had to be right. One of them would have warned them if it was dangerous, if this man thought the same thing about Max as Hubble did.

“Hey guys, thanks for coming,” Kyle spoke up, giving Liz a hug as Max shook Jim’s hand. After breaking from the hug, Kyle noticed the door opening over Liz’s shoulder. Serena. “Excuse me for a minute.”

After a few moments of small talk, Max regarded Jim seriously. “So about Paul Faulkner-“

“You saw his name,” Jim said knowingly. "It's okay, Max, we're on good terms. He just wanted to send his regards to the family."

“He’s not going to try and hurt Max, is he?” Liz spoke up anxiously.

“He doesn’t even know who Max is,” Jim assured. “There’s no way he could.”

Max exchanged a look with Liz before kissing her forehead. “There, you see? It’s fine.”

Liz nodded slowly. “I – I guess. There’s Maria, I’m going to say hi.”

Watching as his wife walked away, Max took a deep breath. “It’s not that simple, is it?”

“Max-“

“I read an article about him, Jim. Both him and Hubble…they did their alien research. He’s got to know as much about the shape-shifters as Hubble did.”

Jim sighed. “In all honesty, Max…besides his partnership with Hubble, which was rocky in and of itself many times, he always backed my father. Looked at him as a standout sheriff. He didn’t know who was responsible for the Silo murder, he just thought Sheriff Valenti was doing his job.”

Max nodded, considering this. Just the same, he wasn’t eager to have a run-in with the man. “Is he still here?”

“No, he left a good hour ago.”

This made Max feel a bit better. He scanned the small crowd across the room, watching Liz as she talked with Maria, Kyle, and Serena. He wanted to keep a close eye on her tonight. Perhaps it was just the funeral home, but something wasn’t sitting well with him.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 9-Sep-2002 7:37:57 PM ]
posted on 10-Sep-2002 8:25:08 PM by McGees
43b

“You really don’t have to stay.”

“Kyle, I want to,” Serena assured, squeezing his hand.

“But Jaycee-“

“-is with my mom tonight,” she reminded. “Unless you really want me to leave-“

“Of course I don’t want you to leave,” Kyle sighed. “I just…thank you.”

Serena offered him a smile. “You’re welcome.” She paused, studying him. “You haven’t been sleeping at all, have you?”

“Not much,” he admitted, sinking into a folding chair at the back of the room. He’d been thinking about too much. The things his grandfather had seen but no one else would believe, things that cost him his job. History had repeated itself with his own father, although he did manage to earn his job back. And yet, despite all of this, they never told him they believed him. They never let on to what they knew, and it was something Kyle continued to struggle with. He hated keeping things from those he loved – like his grandfather, like Serena – but he was protecting them, wasn’t he? It was questions like those that put him in amazement of Max Evans, of the lives he saved and the life he tried to protect.

Just before the visitation ended, Isabel and Jesse, who was fresh from work, arrived. While the final visitors paid their last respects to Jim Valenti, Sr., everyone began to regroup at the back of the room.

“I’m bringing food by the house. Lots of it,” Amy informed them. “Michael’s bringing some leftovers from the Crashdown after his shift, too. Jim said you all are welcome to come over for a late supper.”

Liz didn’t needed to ponder that one for long before meeting Max’s eyes and nodding. She was starving – eating for two and all – but the look on Max’s face made her pause. Taking him by the arm, she led him across the room. “What’s wrong, Max?” she asked quietly.

“Nothing,” was his quick reply. “Everything fine, okay?”

“Okay,” she agreed, returning his gentle kiss before groaning and rubbing her hand over her belly.

“Liz, do you feel alright?” Max’s eyes widened as he gripped her arm.

“Max, yes, I’m fine!” she assured, giving him a strange look. “I’m just hungry, that’s all. I’m going to ask Amy if she needs any help with the food.”

She was hungry. Of course that’s all it was, he scolded himself. He shouldn’t be worrying Liz, acting so strange around her, not now.

“Max?”

He looked up to see Isabel before him. “Yeah?” he muttered.

“Sorry,” Isabel replied, insulted. “I just wanted to ask about this Faulkner guy.”

“Who told you about him?” Max demanded.

“Liz did,” she answered. “Is that why you’ve been so distracted all night?”

“It might have something to do with the fact that we’re in a funeral home-“

“Oh Max, get off it,” Isabel hissed. “That’s not what it’s about and you know it. Do you really think Faulkner will be a problem?”

Max was silent for a moment, watching Liz as she spoke with Amy across the room. “I – I don’t know,” he answered honestly. “Jim doesn’t seem to think so, but…”

“But what, Max?” she asked gently.

He hesitated, as if voicing his strange feeling would make it come true. “Something doesn’t feel right,” he admitted finally. “I wish I could say I knew what it is, but I don’t.”

Isabel studied her brother in concern. “Max, I’m sure it’s just…just being here, you know? It feels strange for me, too.” She shivered. “Really strange.”

Max squeezed his sister’s hand. “Maybe that’s it,” he agreed, knowing that deep down he didn’t really believe it.

“Well, I think things are finishing up here,” Kyle announced then. “Why don’t you all head over to the house? Amy and Maria are going to pick up the food, and there’ll be plenty for everybody. Serena’s going to stay here with my dad and I while we talk to the director, and then we’ll just meet you there.”

Max nodded, glancing over to where his wife and friends were. “We’ll get everything set up-“ He trailed off. Where was Liz? “Oh my god,” he muttered, his heart pounding. “Maria?” he called, brushing past Isabel. “Maria, where’s Liz?”

“She said she was going to the bathroom,” Maria answered with a shrug.

His blood froze. No...

Maria and Amy watched, bewildered, as Max pushed past them and bolted down the hall. He never should have let her out of his sight, not tonight. He searched blindly, his heart racing as he scanned the long, dark hallway. Liz, where are you?

A dimly lit restroom sign caught his eye, and he reached for the handle. Locked. He cursed under his breath, jiggling the knob and then sending a flash of light over it. Bursting into the bathroom, his body sagged against the doorframe.

“Liz!”


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 11-Sep-2002 12:36:26 AM ]
posted on 13-Sep-2002 2:15:03 AM by McGees
I had to do it. But it wasn't very nice, so I'm giving you more. (See, I wouldn't do anything that horrible!)


44a

“Max?” Liz spun around from the sink with a gasp. “You scared me!” She stared at him, his body sagged against the door, breath coming in strangled gasps. “Oh my god, what’s wrong?”

And then he was surrounding her, crushing her to his body, embracing his wife and child like he would never let go. “I thought something…happened,” he breathed into her hair, his voice barely audible.

“No…no, baby, we’re fine,” Liz assured, her eyes wide as he continued to cling to her. Threading her fingers through the hair that curled at the back of his neck, she pressed a kiss to his jaw. His body shook uncontrollably, and it scared her. “Max…talk to me.”

He pulled away slightly, holding her out at arms’ length. “I need to see her,” he whispered.

Liz nodded silently, knowing it was more important than talking right now. She guided his trembling hands to her belly, letting his fingers explore its fullness, slowly unfastening two of the buttons on her dress. “Can you feel her, Max?” she asked.

Max’s jaw clenched, and he nodded. His hands spread over the smooth skin stretched over their growing child. Some of the terror dissipated as her sweet glow seeped between his fingers, and his heart soared at her sudden movement.

“You know Daddy’s with us, don’t you?” Liz spoke softly to her child, her small hand covering Max’s larger one.

“I’m here,” Max repeated, caressing the place where their daughter lay. “I’ll never let anything happen to you…” He trailed off, his voice choked with emotion. “Oh god, Liz, I was so scared,” he managed as his arms engulfed her once again.

“I know,” Liz whispered, her voice soothing. She could feel it, rolling off of him in waves. “Max, tell me what scared you,” she encouraged again.

Max took a deep breath, sucking the needed air into his lungs. “I had this – this feeling,” he said, voice muffled where his face hid in her neck. “I thought I was too late.”

As she stood, crushed in Max’s embrace, Liz remembered a time months and months ago. Clinging to one another on the bathroom floor of the Crashdown. Max’s concern for her and their unborn baby. And then, just weeks later, as she bled on the cold tile, his despair as he tried to save them both. He wouldn’t let it happen again. His rush of guilt hit her, and Liz held him tight. “No, Max,” she whispered over and over.

“I won’t let it happen again,” he breathed into Liz’s ear. “Not to her.”

“Max, listen to me.” Liz’s voice was firm as she wrenched herself from his grip and looked him straight in the eye. “Nothing is going to happen to her. She is going to be born and take her first breath and we are going to hear her cry and we’re going to hold her and love her and…Max, nothing is taking her away. Do you hear me?” She paused. “Trust me, Max. I feel it.”

Max swallowed hard, gazing into the eyes of his love. His amazingly strong wife…his very soul. And slowly, he nodded. “I trust you,” he whispered reverently, his forehead pressed to hers. “With everything I have, I trust you.”

*****

“Where the hell are Max and Liz?” Maria demanded of Isabel. “The way Max ran out of here…” She trailed off with a shiver. “Sorry. This place gives me the creeps, and I think it’s messing with me.”

“I know.” Isabel squeezed Maria’s shoulder. “I’m sure everything’s fine, he’s just…a little jumpy.”

Amy approached them then, keys in hand. “Maria, honey, let’s get going. We can pick up Michael on our way back.”

“Tell Liz I’ll see her over there, okay?” Maria requested of Isabel before waving to the Valenti’s and following her mother to the door.

Jim returned the wave, catching Amy’s eye for a moment. Kyle, on the other hand, barely noticed. His heart grew heavier with each passing moment as they waited to meet with the director to finalize his grandfather’s private internment the next morning.

“How’re you doing, Kyle?” Serena murmured from where she stood beside him.

“Okay.” He was grateful to have her there, holding his hand, even though she’d never met his grandfather. While the pain was still quite fresh from her own father’s death a year and half before, she’d insisted she could handle it – a chance to give someone else the strength she’d needed.

He heard footsteps echoing down the hall, but instead of the director, Max and Liz walked in hand-in-hand. “We’ll meet you at the house,” Max said quietly. “I don’t know how long we’ll stay, but…” He trailed off with a shrug.

Kyle watched Liz squeeze his hand and murmur something to him, and Max’s body seemed to relax a bit. “Sounds good,” he said. “Save some food for us.”

Liz patted her belly and smiled. “I’ll try.”

Guiding Liz toward the door, Max glanced at his sister and brother-in-law. “Ready?”

“Yeah, but…Max? You okay?” Isabel studied her brother, whose color seemed to be returning. He still didn’t look completely well, but she couldn’t figure out why.

Max glanced at Liz and then nodded firmly. “We’re fine.”

The couples got into their respective cars, Isabel and Jesse following Max and Liz through town and to the Valenti’s. It was dark and closed up, and Max knew they hadn’t been spending much time there the past few days except to unload some of Jim Sr.’s things from the nursing home. He walked around the car, opening the door for Liz as Jesse and Isabel approached.

The four headed to the front door in silence, Max running his palm over the doorknob to unlock it. As they stepped into the house, he stopped.

“Max?” Liz glanced at him in confusion.

“Stay back,” he ordered. His eyes swept over the dark living room, searching.

“What the hell is going on?” Isabel demanded, her grip on Jesse’s arm tightening.

And then they heard it.




[ edited 1 time(s), last at 13-Sep-2002 2:17:48 AM ]
posted on 15-Sep-2002 11:42:58 PM by McGees
I think for the rest of the story I'll try posting more often, but probably in smaller incriments. It just seems to be working a little better at this point in the story. Even if it does mean I'll be singing Britney Spears a bit more often (LOL Ari!) *tongue*

44b

“Max?” Liz clutched her husband’s arm. “Max, what was that?”

“Stay back,” Max repeated, bracing his free arm against the doorframe as another loud shuffle came from deep inside the house.

“Someone’s inside,” Isabel murmured. “Max, we have to go look.”

Jesse grabbed her arm and pulled her back. “Isabel, no, it’s not safe. We’ll go back out and call the cops.”

But Max was already in the door, determined. “Liz, go back to the cars with Jesse,” he ordered. “Iz, stay right behind me.”

“I don’t want my wife going inside!” Jesse argued. “I’ll go in with you, they should stay here-“

Isabel shook her head, looking at her husband seriously. “It’s safer for me to go in,” she reminded. She waited until Jesse reluctantly loosened his grip and said, “We’re just going to check it out.”

“Max, be careful,” Liz spoke up fearfully as Jesse wrapped his arm around her shoulders. They watched, unmoving, as Max and Isabel proceeded into the house.

Moving silently through the living room, Max’s eyes swept over each corner. “Be prepared to move quick,” he hissed over his shoulder.

Isabel nodded, her mind racing as the adrenaline pumped through her veins. What were they going to find? A robber? Someone who randomly found the house and decided to see what he could score? Or someone…else?

Both jumped when another rustling sound came from one of the bedrooms. Kyle’s room. Max glanced at his sister, and they nodded in unison. “One,” Max mouthed, “Two…”

*****

“Michael! Let’s go!” Maria stood in the Crashdown’s back doorway, tapping her foot impatiently.

“Chill out, Blondie,” Michael shot back, pulling off his bandana and mopping it over his face. “Give me a second so I can grab the pies.”

Maria nodded, leaning her head out the door. “Mom, it’ll be just a minute!” she called. “Make sure you take any leftover Alien Lime,” she added to Michael, “or Liz is gonna kills us both.”

“Yes ma’am,” he replied, rooting around in the fridge. Last thing he wanted was a pissed off pregnant woman on his hands. He’d dealt with that more than once with Isabel.

“I’m gonna give them a call real quick,” Maria decided then, reaching for the phone on the wall. “Let em know we’ll be there soon.”

*****

“Liz,” Jesse murmured from where they anxiously stood on the porch steps. “Call the cops. Or Jim at least, let them know what’s going on.”

Liz started to nod, reaching into her purse, and then sighed. “Max has the phone,” she whispered back. “Maybe we should use yours-“

“And Isabel has mine,” Jesse finished. He cursed under his breath. “I really don’t like this.”

“I know,” Liz answered, her eyes trained to the house. “But it’s – it’s gonna be okay. Because Max knows what he’s doing. Isabel too, and…and they can take care of whatever’s going on. It’s probably nothing. An open window or something.” She trailed off, knowing how unconvincing she sounded. But she had to keep telling herself it was nothing, that Max could take care of it, because otherwise she’d panic. She was amazed her hormones were allowing her to do this well.


*****

“…three.” Max was just about to burst into Kyle’s room when the silence was broken by the shrill ring of his cell phone.

“Fuck,” Max hissed. “Go!” With Isabel right behind him, he threw the door open. There, in the middle of the dark room, illuminated by only the dim glow of a flashlight, was Paul Faulkner.

*****

“No answer,” Maria announced, hanging up the phone and turning to Michael. “Must have left it in the car.”

Michael shrugged, stacking three pie tins in his arms. “We’ll be there in a few minutes anyway.”

*****

“Kyle, why don’t you drive with Serena to the house?” Jim suggested as they got their things together.

“Are you gonna be okay, Dad?” Kyle asked quietly.

Jim nodded firmly. “I’ll be fine, Kyle. Really. I could probably a little time to myself, anyway, you know?”

“Yeah, Dad, I do,” Kyle replied. And he did. He’d needed some alone time the past few days, too, but now that Serena was here…well, he decided he’d rather spend that time with her. She helped him to take his mind off it all, even if just for a little while.

“You two go on ahead, I’m going to stop and get some coffee on the way,” Jim was saying.

“Don’t we have some at home?”

“Nah. Haven’t had time to go to the store. And Amy doesn’t drink the stuff, so I doubt she’ll be bringing any with her.”

Kyle shrugged. “Okay. We’ll meet you back at the house.”

*****

“What the hell are you doing here?” Max demanded, hand raised and ready to strike.

Faulkner slowly got to his feet, the beam of the flashlight crossing the wall and settling on Max. “You.”

“Why are you here?” Max repeated, his hand still outstretched as he blinked against the bright light.

The man rubbed his hand through his dark, thinning hair and studied Max. “That’s a silly question, isn’t it.”

“You tell me,” Max shot back, his voice steady.

“Why the fuck do you think I’m here?” Faulkner spat, the beam of light hovering over Max’s face and then shifting slightly to Isabel. “Brought your sister too, huh? She's still a pretty one.”

“What does that have to do with you breaking into someone else’s house?”

Faulkner sniffed. “You apparently have a talent for that yourself.”

“The Valenti’s are friends of ours,” Max answered evenly. “We had a key.” He shifted his hand to the wall, flipping a switch and shrouding the room in light. His eyes dropped the ground, scanning the boxes upon boxes cluttering the floor.

“You already know everything that’s in these, don’t you Max?” Faulkner prodded. “Everything that happened to my partner. The shit that went down, got him killed.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” His eyes adjusted to the light, noticing the stacks of newspaper articles spilling from several of the cartons. Jim Sr.’s things, no doubt.

“The hell you don’t!” Faulkner dropped to his knees, grabbing one of the clippings. “’Young woman dead, mysterious attacker on the loose,’” he read. “You know exactly what I’m talking about.”

Max studied the aging man evenly. “I had nothing to do with that.”

“Exactly what you told Everett, isn’t it?” Faulkner dropped the clipping, letting it flutter back into the box. “But we both know it’s a bit more complicated than that, don’t we?”

“Look, Jim is going to be here any minute. He’s going to have your ass arrested for breaking and entering,” Max informed him.

Faulkner chuckled. “I think Jim’s a bit smarter than that. He always was a better cop than his father. Got himself back on the squad, didn’t he?” He paused, reaching into his back pocket. “Besides, I’ve got a better aim than Everett did.”

The last thing Max heard was Isabel gasp as Faulkner retrieved a shiny semi-automatic and pulled the trigger.

*****

“The house looks awfully dark. Shouldn’t they be there by now?” Amy turned onto the Valenti’s quiet street, squinting through the windshield into the darkness.

“Their cars are there,” Maria noted, drumming her fingers on the edge of the window as they approached the long side driveway. “See, look, there’s Jesse and Liz.”

“How come they’re out-“ Michael’s question was cut off as the sound of a gunshot pierced the night air.


posted on 16-Sep-2002 11:45:01 PM by McGees
More for you...you guys aren't that irritated with me, right? There may be cliffhangers, but there's a new part every day! Hopefully my muse will stay and play for a while...feedback, of course, helps this! *wink*

And it was so neat to get feedback from new readers! Welcome Breathless and ParkerEvans! I'm honored!


45a

“No!” Liz gasped, bolting away from Jesse as the sound of a gunshot echoed through the desert night.

“Liz, wait!” Jesse reached for her, grabbing her arm before she could break away completely. “You can’t-“

Whirling around, Liz choked back a sob. “He might be hurt! He can’t heal himself if he’s-“

“What the hell is going on?” Michael demanded, jumping out of the car even before Amy could put it into park. “Where are Max and Isabel?”

“Inside!” Liz answered tearfully. “Michael, we have to go to them!”

“Why do they have a gun?” Amy asked, her face full of confusion as she and Maria hurried from the car.

Jesse shook his head, his entire body trembling. “They don’t. But – but someone in the house apparently does.”

“Someone in the-“ Maria clapped her hand over her mouth before reaching for Liz as she collapsed in her arms.

“Someone broke into the house?” Amy repeated, her voice rising an octave. “Why did they go in? Why didn’t anyone call the police? Or – or Jim-“

“Neither of us had a phone,” Jesse answered numbly, his face ashen.

Michael squared his shoulders. “I’m going in there.”

“Michael!” Maria reached for him, one arm still wound tightly around a shaking Liz.

“Stay here,” Michael ordered, moving quickly toward the house before anyone could stop him. He crossed into the living room, heading down the hall toward the sound of muffled voices. A mirror was shattered into thousands of tiny pieces across the hall from Kyle’s room, and a large bullet hole marred the wall behind it. Praying that accounted for the only shot he’d heard, Michael turned into Kyle’s room.

*****

“…And though it’s part of the Lone Star state people don’t seem to care,” Kyle sang along with the radio blasting away as they sped toward home.

“…they’ll just keep on lookin to the east,” Serena continued, laughing as the spring breeze ruffled her hair.

“This is such a great song,” Kyle spoke up over the radio, one hand drumming against the window.

Serena grinned, brushing her hair back from her face. “I’m proud to say Jaycee was a fan of the Doobie Brothers even in utero.”

“I knew there was a reason I like her,” Kyle chuckled. He watched as Serena turned off the main road onto his quiet street. “I hope they’ve got the food ready. I’m starving.” And it was true, the last time he’d even been able to think about food was before noon – that in itself was amazing.

“Uh-oh. Did anyone have a key?” Serena spoke up, squinting into the night. She could see three cars and several of their friends crowded around them.

“Uh, I think so,” he answered, knowing that shouldn’t have mattered. Neither Max nor Isabel should have had any trouble getting into the house. And that would have been before Amy got there, so they shouldn’t have had to answer any questions – “What the hell?” Kyle muttered, switching down the radio as Serena pulled into the driveway alongside the other cars.

“Kyle, where’s your father?” Amy demanded, anxiously crossing over to Serena’s car.

“My – he’s getting coffee. Why are you out here? What’s going on?” Kyle paused as Liz slowly looked up from Maria’s embrace, her eyes wet with tears.

“Someone’s in your house,” she answered hoarsely. “Max and Isabel went in…and a gun…went off, and…” She trailed off, fresh tears spilling down her cheeks as Maria’s hold on her tightened.

Realizing Maria’s ‘embrace’ was more of a means of keeping Liz from chasing after Max, Kyle nodded blankly. “Who – who’s inside?”

“Michael went in after Isabel and Max,” Jesse supplied, his jaw clenched. “We heard something in the house and they went to check it out. We – we haven’t seen them since.”

Kyle vaguely registered the sound of Serena’s gasp and then said, “It’s my house. I better go in.”

“Kyle, don’t!” Serena grabbed his arm. “I’ll call the police. Has anyone called the police?” She glanced around at the shaking heads and felt her confusion build. “Why not?”

Reaching for her hands, Kyle led her to his friends. “Stay here with them, Serena, please. I’m sure everything’s okay, I just-“

“I’m going with you,” Liz spoke up firmly, pulling away from Maria.

“Liz! Liz, you can’t-“

Liz spun around, squaring her shoulders. “If Kyle can go in, so can I.” Screw the aliens-only stuff. She was going to Max.

“But Liz, the baby-“ Amy began.

Maria caught her mother’s eye and shook her head. She agreed, but she also knew Liz’s thinking. If anyone else was going into that house, there was no way in hell Liz would stay behind. Reluctantly, she dropped her arm and Liz hurried to Kyle.

The others watched anxiously as the two disappeared into the house. In a voice too soft for anyone else to hear, Serena murmured, “This isn’t safe. Why are they doing this?”

Kyle led Liz through the front door, flipping on a lamp on the table in the living room.

“What are you doing?” Liz hissed.

“It’s not like whoever broke in doesn’t know we’re here,” Kyle muttered, scanning the hallway. “Down there. I hear them.”

“Max?” Liz breathed. “Oh god, I hear him!” She shot down the hall as fast as her changing center of balance would allow, stepping over the shattered glass on the floor. “Max?”

Max whirled around from where he stood in Kyle’s room. “Liz? You shouldn’t be in here,” he warned, his eyes filled with worry.

“What do you know. It’s a party,” Faulkner announced, his hand still wrapped around the gun. “Who’s this little lady?”

“My wife,” Max ground out, slowly moving toward her and wrapping his arm around her protectively. “Don’t come near her.”

“I’m not here for her, Max,” Faulkner said in exasperation, waving his gun around for emphasis. “But it does complicate matters a bit now that we’ve got such an audience.” He turned to Kyle and his eyes hardened. “You. You’re the sheriff’s boy.”

“Kyle Valenti,” he agreed, swallowing hard. “What are you doing here, Mr. Faulkner?”

Faulkner chuckled darkly. “Seems your grandfather was quite the collector,” he said, gesturing to the cartons with his gun. “He left a lot questions unanswered, and I’m here to find them.”

“These are just newspaper clippings,” Kyle pointed out. “There’s no answers. It’s exactly what the rest of the world read.”

“You don’t really believe that, do you?” Faulkner sneered. “Your grandfather has seen more than he let on. Your father has, too. Which can only mean-“

“Stop!” Max ordered, raising his hand again as Faulkner stepped closer to Kyle. “Kyle has nothing to do with this. He’s just trying to defend his family.”

Faulkner turned to face Max. “And I’m just trying to defend my partner,” he shot back coldly.

Liz shivered, knowing he was just as obsessed as Hubble was. And that whatever Hubble had set out to find, Faulkner was here to finish. No matter what it took.

*****

“Can someone tell me again why we haven’t called the police?” Amy demanded, pacing back and forth in front of the cars.

Maria and Jesse exchanged a look. “Jim will be here any minute, Mom, faster than a squad car could get here,” she explained. “Look, we haven’t heard any more gunshots, and no one’s come out to tell us anything’s wrong, so-“

“That’s just the thing, no one has come out,” Serena pointed out. “Why did Max and Isabel think they could stop someone with a gun?”

Jesse shoved his hands in his pockets. “No one knew the person had a gun.”

“This is getting ridiculous,” Amy continued. “What if they’re being held hostage, or-“

“That’s exactly why we need to call the cops!” Serena agreed.

Maria bit back the urge to respond, knowing that Serena and her mother didn’t understand the entire situation. They didn’t understand why Max and Isabel and Michael might be able to control the situation – or even be the reason for it – or why it was so essential to wait until Jim arrived.

*****

“So, Kyle Valenti,” Faulkner ventured. “What kind of stories did your grandfather tell you about his alien encounters?”

“He hardly talked about it,” Kyle answered, lifting his chin. And it was true. For as long as he could remember his grandfather would mumble things about them being ‘among us,’ but he never offered much more. And Kyle never asked.

Faulkner stepped a little closer, peering into Kyle’s face. “He never told you about shapeshifters?”

Kyle fought the urge to flinch. “No.”

“Bullshit!” Faulkner shoved the barrel of the gun under Kyle’s chin. “One of those monsters was here, in Roswell. Your grandfather knew it.” He paused, tightening his finger on the trigger. “And so do you. So why don’t you cut the crap and tell me what you know.”

Liz gripped Max’s arm, her heart pounding. You’ve got to do something, Max! she cried out through their connection.

Max’s eyes were trained to the gun in Faulkner’s hand. I’ll do whatever I can, he assured. But we have to be careful, or he’ll know. We can’t prove he’s right.

Liz knew this was true, but her legs were shaking so badly they threatened to give out on her. She couldn’t watch her friend die. If Faulkner pulled the trigger right now, Kyle would die instantly. No chance for Max to heal him. But if Max used his powers to get the gun away from him, Faulkner would know about him. They would all be in danger.

Outside, the others were growing restless. “I need to know what’s going on in there,” Jesse spoke up. “I’m not waiting until Jim gets here.”

The three women exchanged wide eyed looks as Jesse strode toward the house.

Kyle continued to stare at the man who held his fate in his hands. Quite literally. “I wish I could help you, but-“

“Does the name Cal Langley ring a bell?” Faulkner broke in suddenly. “And don’t give me any bullshit about him being a hot-shot director, because I know the truth. He’s another one of those freaks. And he’s still alive.” He pressed the barrel into Kyle’s throat, hard. “I want you to tell me where.”

“I don’t-“

“Tell me!” he boomed. “I was tracking that son of a bitch for two years, and I’m not gonna lose him now!”

“We don’t know what you’re talking about,” Max spoke up, willing his voice to be steady.

Faulkner growled and spun back to Max. “The hell you don’t!” His eyes wild with rage, he drew the gun from Kyle and waved it in the air. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. And you’ll tell me everything I want to know.” His finger tightened again on the trigger. “Or you’ll be sorry.”

The ring of a gunshot pierced the air, followed by a woman’s scream, and then there was silence.
posted on 18-Sep-2002 12:56:08 AM by McGees
45b

The next moments were but a blur. Max had thrown himself in front of Liz, shielding her from the bullet as it whizzed past them. Michael dove for Faulkner, tackling him and knocking the gun from his hands and using his powers to slide it across the floor. Isabel simply stood in disbelief as Kyle turned toward the source of the scream.

No. Oh god, no.

Serena lay crumpled in the hall just outside his bedroom. A steady flow of blood poured from her ribcage area. Oh god, was she…

No. He saw her fingers clench weakly at her sides just before Jesse dropped to his knees beside her.

Maria’s shriek came next as she and Amy rounded the corner. “Is she dead?”

Max turned then, one arm still sheltering Liz. His face filled with horror at the sight of Serena. Giving Liz a quick squeeze, he moved past a paralyzed Kyle to kneel beside the dying woman.

“I didn’t see her!” Faulkner was shouting from where Michael had him pinned to the floor. “I didn’t mean to hit her, she just appeared-“

Tuning out the commotion around him, Max’s eyes focused on Serena’s fluttering ones. He was vaguely aware of Isabel saying his name and Amy sobbing, but he couldn’t think about that right now. He had to help this woman who had taken care of Liz, and protected his nephew, and who had a little girl of her own.

Placing his fingers at her temples, Max said, “Serena. Serena, open your eyes and look at me.”

Serena’s eyes rolled toward him, already beginning to fade out of consciousness. “Tell Jaycee…I love her…” she slurred.

“Listen to me,” Max continued firmly. “I’m going to help you, but you need to focus on me.” He felt the moment he was in, and then his hands set to work repairing the damage from the bullet tearing into her. A series of images passed through his mind. Serena and a handsome man, walking hand in hand along the beach; Serena’s triumphant tears as her baby girl was lifted from her body; giving Jaycee eskimo kisses at her graduation from nursing school…

And then Serena was gasping, her eyes widening as Max finished his repair. She stared straight up at him in pure disbelief. “Wh-“

“Shh. You’ll be okay,” Max murmured. He glanced up to see Kyle hovering over them, almost as if he were afraid to look too close. Slowly easing to his feet, he patted Kyle’s shoulder. “She’s going to be fine,” he assured.

The others watched as Kyle dropped to his knees and cradled her head in his lap, and then Max turned with blazing eyes.

“Where the fuck is that gun?” he demanded.

“Under the bed,” Isabel gestured with the shaky hand that wasn’t clinging to Jesse.

Max kicked it out onto the open ground, and then raised his hand and blasted it to oblivion.

Faulkner, who had been watching as much as Michael’s weight on top of him would allow, let his jaw drop in realization. “You – you are one of them!” he hissed. “You’re a fucking freak!”

Liz had to grab hold of Max’s shirtsleeve then, trying to restrain Max from blasting him to oblivion as well. But his body was drained, and it was doubtful he’d have the energy to do so even if he really wanted to. Max was not a violent man, but when it came to protecting his loved ones – Liz in particular – he was willing to destroy.

“I know all about you!” Faulkner continued. “About what a fucking monster you and your kind are. I’ll tell all about you, and-“

“That’s gonna be a little difficult from a jail cell,” a new voice spoke up. Jim Valenti stood in the doorway, just past Serena and Kyle on the floor. “The Roswell PD igenerally isn't entertained by super-natural stories. Paul Faulkner, you are under arrest for breaking and entering and attempted murder. Michael, let him up nice and slow. Faulkner, I want your hands in the air.”

The others watched on in stunned silence as Jim read Faulkner his rights and then handcuffed him before he called in for backup. Kyle and Jesse helped Serena to her feet and into the living room so she could lie on the couch, and the others trickled in behind them.

Maria reached over and squeezed her mother’s hand. Amy had been completely silent as she witnessed the events, and even now her eyes seemed to be tricking her. Because Serena had been as good as dead before Max placed his hands on her ribs. And now she lay before her, obviously not completely well, but certainly alive and breathing. There was still a large dark splotch on her black blouse, undoubtedly blood, but it had been contained. She wasn’t bleeding anymore.

How was that possible?

Down the hall, Max and Liz still stood, clinging to one another. Liz’s face was buried in his neck as he leaned against the wall, holding her as close as possible. For several long minutes no words passed between them, the relief and love simply flowed through their connection.

After a time, Liz lifted her face and rested her forehead against his. His breathing was still ragged, but was beginning to slow, and she gently placed her hands on the sides of his face. “You’re okay,” she whispered, as if she needed to say it aloud to convince herself.

Max nodded, swallowing thickly. “Are you?” he murmured, running his hands over her sides. She shouldn’t have been through that, not in her condition.

“I am now,” she answered, caressing the nape of his neck. “I was so scared, Max. So scared I might lose you-“

“Never,” he whispered fiercely, pulling her against him. “I won’t let that happen, Liz,” he breathed into her hair. “I’ll never leave you.”

Their moment of peace was interrupted as Deputy Hanson and several other members of the Roswell police department barreled down the hall. When the Sheriff gave an order, they put their asses in gear. Max held Liz close to him as Faulkner was led from the bedroom, refusing to look at him as he went past.

“You kids okay?” Jim asked quietly, pausing beside them.

Max peered up at him, his hand cupping the back of Liz’s head. “Keep him locked up,” he answered fiercely.

“No question,” was Jim’s confirmation. “Listen, I’ve got to go down to the station for a while and take care of some things. Just know that Faulkner won’t be bothering any of us again.”

He strode down the hall, stopping in the living room where the rest of the group had assembled. Pausing beside Amy, he reached up and touched her cheek. “I have to go for a little while. I understand if you need to get on home, but I promise I won’t be there too late.”

“I’ll be here,” Amy answered, her voice trembling.

“Good.” He placed a soft kiss on her lips before nodding to Maria and then turning to his son.

Kyle sat beside Serena’s frail form on the couch, clutching her hand between his and murmuring quietly to her. He wasn’t sure what Kyle was saying, but he doubted it was giving much of an explanation to the understandably confused young woman. There was an awful lot that needed to be said, but right now it seemed best to just appreciate the fact that they were all safe and alive.




[ edited 2 time(s), last at 18-Sep-2002 1:06:14 AM ]
posted on 25-Sep-2002 3:21:43 PM by McGees
Sorry for the delay in posting, RL has been a beast! But hey, at least I didn't leave you with a cliffhanger, huh? And now a full part.

46

“Let’s go home.”

Jesse glanced at Isabel in surprise. “Now?”

Isabel nodded firmly, getting to her feet. “Let’s get Evan from my parents’ place and go home,” she repeated.

Casting a glance toward Serena and Kyle on the couch, Jesse considered this. “You don’t want to wait-“

“No. I want to go now.” Isabel’s tone was final, and Jesse obliged. “We have to get home to the baby, it’s getting late,” she continued, speaking up to the rest of the room. “We’ll talk to you all tomorrow.”

Michael and Maria exchanged a look, but neither said anything. Kyle’s nod was barely discernable. Isabel glanced down the hall just as Max and Liz appeared.

“Where are you going?” Max asked, his arm wound tightly around Liz.

“Home,” Isabel answered shortly. “It’s way past Evan’s bedtime, and-“

“Isabel, we have to talk to Serena and Amy,” Max interrupted, his voice low. “You know that.”

“You and Michael can do that, can’t you?” Isabel asked pointedly, toying with the silver chain around her neck.

Max sighed. “Isabel, you know we have to do this-“

“I’m aware of that, Max,” Isabel responded shortly. “I just don’t see what difference it makes if I’m here or not.”

Liz touched her husband’s arm. “They have to get home to Evan,” she spoke up gently before turning to Isabel and Jesse. “Go. We’ll talk to you in the morning and let you know what happened.”

Isabel couldn’t hide the slight relief that crossed her face. “Thanks,” she said sincerely.

Liz and Max watched as Isabel and Jesse headed out the front door and then turned to one another. “We have to tell them,” Max said softly. “There’s no way around it. I healed Serena and Amy saw it-“

“You saved her life,” Liz cut in, touching his face. “You’re a good, caring man, and you did what you had to do.”

“Isabel doesn’t think so,” Max countered. “She never wanted Serena to get involved, and-“

“But she did,” Liz pointed out. “She did get involved. Let’s face it, Max, she’s been involved and it was only a matter of time before she found out the truth.”

Max knew she was right. There had been so many close calls, and it was amazing that it took something as severe as a gunshot wound for the truth to come out. But then, it had never been an easy thing to explain, and it seemed somehow appropriate that this was how they’d induct two more members to the “I-know-an-alien” club.

“Guys?” Maria appeared in the hallway then. “Uh, we’ve got to decide what’s going on here. My mom has been way too quiet and if we don’t say something, or come up with a story-“

“We’ll tell the truth,” Max interrupted, looking to Liz.

“Are you sure?” she asked quietly.

Max sighed. “I think we have to. And I – I don’t have to tell them about Michael and Isabel. I’m the one that healed Serena, they don’t have to get involved.”

“Yes we do.” Michael appeared beside Maria then, nodding. “We tell them the whole truth.”

Maria looked toward Michael, her eyes shining with tears. “Do you really want to do that?” she whispered. She couldn’t believe her mother would actually know the truth about Michael – about the past four and a half years.

Michael nodded again and then glanced at Max. “We’re in this together. We always have been.” With that, the four friends made their way into the Valenti’s living room, knowing that their lives were about to change – thought not nearly as much as Serena’s and Amy’s were.

*****

Kyle still wasn’t sure how he felt about any of this. The whole night seemed too surreal. The events, the words, the exchanges. He vaguely registered Max saying, “Michael, Isabel and me – we’re human/alien hybrids.” The truth finally being told to Amy, who say ramrod straight with one hand gripping Maria’s, and Serena, propped up on the couch and listened expressionlessly.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Amy scoffed finally. “There’s no such thing as aliens.”

Maria didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the expression on her mother’s face when Max and Michael did indeed prove their alien abilities by changing the color of the couch they sat on. For a split second she thought her mother might up and run from the house screaming – much like Maria herself when she learned the truth. But she didn’t. Instead, she turned to Maria with the same bewildered looks she’d been wearing for the past hour and said, “I need to lie down.”

Maria turned to Kyle helplessly, guiding her mother to her feet. “Your dad’s room?”

Kyle nodded, watching as Maria and Amy headed slowly toward the bedroom, and then turned his attention back to Serena. Her expressionless face scared him, but he was quickly reminded that she had just nearly died. As if that wasn’t enough for her to deal with. He glanced up at Max, who sat on the floor before Liz in a recliner and seemed to be deep in his own thoughts now that he’d once again exposed his identity.

“Liz?” Serena suddenly spoke up. “You were shot too?”

Liz jumped to attention. “I was,” she confirmed. “At the Crashdown when I was sixteen, like Max said.”

Serena thought about this. “And you almost died?”

Glancing down at Max, she bit her lip. “Yeah, I…I almost died,” she murmured. “If Max hadn’t healed me when he did, I wouldn’t have made it until the paramedics got there.” Liz paused and took a deep breath. “I…I could feel my life just…draining away. Like I wasn’t even there anymore. But Max…he brought me back.”

Max could hear the tremble in his wife’s voice. He got to his feet and gathered her into his arms, kissing the top of her head. She didn’t talk about the experience very much – it had been one of the most terrifying moments of her life, and also the most life altering. But if Serena needed someone to relate, she would talk.

Kyle watched Serena as she pondered all of this, and wondered when she would ask about his experience. But she didn’t. His thoughts were interrupted by Maria as she came back into the living room and settled herself beside Michael on the arm of the recliner.

“How’s your mom?” Liz asked.

Maria shrugged. “In shock, I think. Hell, I figured she’d act just like I did, freaking out and running away.” Her eyes met Michael’s and she trailed off. “Anyway, I know she’s going to have a million questions, but I think right now she’s too exhausted to even ask.” She paused and turned to Kyle. “Um, Kyle? Do you think it would be okay if my mom and I crashed here tonight? I hate to ask, but-“

“Absolutely,” Kyle cut her off. “Maria, you can take my bed. I’ll just…I’m staying out here with Serena.” He saw her preparing to object, but quickly continued. “You’re too shaken up to drive home. Jaycee’s with your mom for the night anyway, so you’re staying here.”

Serena closed her mouth, knowing it was useless to protest. Besides, she really couldn’t imagine driving home, or worse yet, being alone once she got there. Tonight, especially, she didn’t want to be alone.

Max got to his feet then, offering his hands to Liz. “Let’s all call it a night. We all need sleep, and we can talk more tomorrow if you want, Serena. Same with your mom, Maria. Maybe it will help her to talk to Jim, too.” He didn’t know what else to say, how else to close such an awkward moment for Serena. She hadn’t said much this whole time, but then again, what could she say? She hadn’t screamed and called them freaks, which in his mind was a good thing. And he was fairly certain their secret would be safe because he had, after all, saved her life – but there was no guarantee. Three more people now knew their secret, and while he was quite sure Faulkner’s knowledge wouldn’t count by means of insanity, it always posed a threat.

“Max.” Liz could practically see the wheels turning in his mind, and she could feel his strain through their connection. “Max,” she murmured again. “Let’s go home.”

*****

The living room was dark, the only sounds the steady tick of the grandfather clock in the corner. Kyle shifted in the recliner, trying his best to get comfortable.

Maria had retreated to his bedroom with Michael, who said he was only staying until Maria fell asleep. Kyle knew better. His father had yet to return home, but he’d figured on that. He trusted him to cover their tracks, though, to paint Faulkner as the lunatic he really was.

He heard Serena shift beneath the afghan on the couch, and then heard a whisper.

“Kyle?”

Sitting up, Kyle squinted into the darkness to see Serena’s silhouette framed by the faint moonlight. “Serena, are you okay?”

Inside my skin
There is this space


“Yeah, I just…I didn’t know if you were still here.”

It twists and turns
It bleeds and aches


Kyle was on his feet instantly, crossing the floor to kneel before the couch. “I wouldn’t leave you,” he assured, reaching up to touch her cheek. “I’m staying right here with you.”

Serena nodded, leaning back against the pillows. “Thank you.” She closed her eyes again, and Kyle thought she might go back to sleep. But then she turned to him and studied him with a serious gaze. “I almost died tonight, Kyle.”

Inside my heart
There’s an empty room


Kyle swallowed hard. “I – I know you did,” he whispered. “I thank whatever god is up there that Max was able to heal you.” Because I couldn’t live without you, he added to himself.

It’s waiting for lightening
It’s waiting for you


“Me too,” Serena agreed softly. “Kyle, I’m not going to turn them in. Not Max, or Michael or Isabel. If it wasn’t for them I would have died. And I would have never met you.”

“But then you would never have gotten shot,” Kyle pointed out, his eyes full of sorrow.

Serena gently placed a finger to his lips. “I love you, Kyle.”

I am wanting
And I am needing you here


Kyle stared at her for a long moment, his heart thundering in his chest. “I – I love you too.”

She smiled then, allowing her eyes to close. Kyle reached up and stroked her hair, the smile slowly spreading over his face as he settled in to keep watch of her through the night.

Inside the absence of fear...

Across town, Max was still unable to sleep. He could feel Liz shifting in bed beside him, and he rolled onto his side. “Liz?” he whispered into the darkness.

Muscle and sinew
Velvet and stone


She turned her head toward him. “Hmm?”

“You can’t sleep either?”

This vessel is haunted
It creaks and moans


Liz smiled, her eyes shifting to the bulge under the sheets. “She’s doing backflips in here. I think she’s trying to break her old record.”

Max’s mouth curved into a grin that matched Liz’s. He cupped his hand over her belly and chuckled at the insistent movement. “She’s certainly busy this evening.”

“Since we got home,” Liz informed him, snuggling closer. “She was really quiet earlier tonight. Like she knew…”

My bones call to you
In their separate skin


Max could hear the smile fading from Liz’s face, and he gathered her into his arms. “I’m sorry I scared you tonight, going into the house like that.”

Liz shook her head faintly. “I just…I hate thinking something could happen to you. I know you do what you have to do-”

“What I have to do is be here for you and our baby,” Max insisted.

Make myself translucent
To let you in


“And tonight you also prevented Faulkner from getting away with breaking into the Valenti’s house, kept him from finding god only knows what…and Max, you saved Serena’s life.”

“Just call me Superman,” Max muttered.

Liz leaned over and pecked him on the lips. “You’re
my Superman.”

“Faster than a speeding bullet…” he chuckled against her lips.

She smacked his shoulder. “That’s not funny,” she admonished, but the smile crept onto her face anyway. “But I guess it’s kind of true, isn’t it?”

“Mmm,” Max mumbled, capturing her mouth again. His tongue demanded entrance, which she granted immediately. He wiggled closer, pressing his body to hers, and slid his hands over her back.

I am wanting
And I am needing you here
Inside the absence of fear


“Max…” Liz sighed against his lips, shifting and nestling his leg between hers. His hands were touching her with such reverence, heating her flesh and at the same time spreading goosebumps all over her body.

There is this hunger
This restlessness inside of me


He felt her hand drift down over his hip, groaning as she urged her center closer to his. It was then that he felt it. A swift kick in the ribs. “Liz?” he gasped, pulling away from her and staring at her with wide eyes.

Liz burst out laughing at the look on her husband’s face. “I think our daughter has other plans,” she giggled. Sure enough, her strong kicks began to die down into flutters.

And it knows that you’re no stranger
You’re my gravity


“Not even born yet and she’s already dominating our sex life,” Max muttered, his hand fanning out over Liz’s belly. “Time to go to sleep, Peanut. Daddy and Mommy want to play,” he whispered.

Erupting into giggles again, Liz managed, “I don’t know if it works like that.” She paused, concentrating on the faint movement in her womb. “But maybe she is going to sleep.”

My hands will adore you
Through all darkness aim


“That’s because Daddy’s got the magic touch,” Max grinned, pushing Liz’s nightshirt up and exposing her round belly. He cupped his hand over her again, the glow from their child shining through his fingers. “Sweet dreams, Peanut.”

They will lay you out in the moonlight
And reinvent your name


Liz smiled down at her husband as he placed a soft kiss on her belly button and pulled her nightshirt down. She watched as he leaned back against his pillows, gazing deep into her eyes. “What?” she asked with a smile.

“I don’t want to wake her up,” he admitted, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “Are you mad?”

“Mm-mm.” Liz shook her head, kissing Max’s palm. “Maybe she’s got the right idea,” she admitted with a deep yawn.

I am wanting you
And I am needing you here


Max smiled, kissing the tip of Liz’s nose before pulling her into his arms. “I love you.”

Liz snuggled deep into his embrace, burying her face in his bare chest and closing her eyes. “Love you too.”

I need you near
Inside the absence of fear


*****

lyrics by Jewel, Absence of Fear. Yep, you know this from the end of The Balance...I've developed a mini-obsession with it again, and it seemed to fit with this part.
posted on 30-Sep-2002 12:45:02 AM by McGees
I decided it was time for a bit of a break from the seriousness, especially for Max and Liz. Hope you enjoy!


47

Maria stretched and rolled over, her eyes slowly focusing. Kyle’s room. Why was she in Kyle’s room? Her arm brushed against the body beside her, and she shot up. Michael. Michael was fast asleep on the blanket beside her, and she remembered.

Straightening her blouse, Maria got to her feet and leaned over Michael, brushing his hair off his forehead. He must have fallen asleep right along with her. She padded out into the hallway, the smell of fresh coffee leading her past a sleeping Kyle and Serena and into the kitchen.

“Morning Sheriff,” she offered, her voice still scratchy from sleep.

Jim looked up from the table, his hands wrapped around a mug. “Maria, good morning. Did you and Michael sleep okay?”

Maria blushed a little. “Yeah. We were both out as soon as we hit the pillow,” she said. The last thing she wanted was Jim – or Kyle or her mother, for that matter – thinking there was any hanky-panky going on in Kyle’s bed. Gross.

Jim smiled. “Same here. I didn’t get back till almost two.”

“Wow.” Maria paused. “How did things go at the station?”

“It was interesting, to say the least,” Jim answered with a dry chuckle. “Paul Faulkner is some piece of work.”

“Do you think…is he gonna say anything?”

Taking a swig of coffee, Jim rolled his eyes. “Oh, he said plenty. No one believed him, of course. He broke into the Sheriff’s house. It’s my word against his.”

“Yeah, but aren’t they still a little wary of what you…I mean, after what happened a few years ago, when you got…” Maria trailed off, embarrassed.

“What, fired?” Jim chuckled again. “You’re right, I thought about that, too. But the good thing about my dad’s UFO obsession is that no one was surprised his things would be at my house. It makes sense Faulkner would look for them here after he died. I don’t have to cover that up. Anything else is hearsay, but…as far as I’m concerned, Faulkner is gonna be locked up for a long time.”

Maria nodded thoughtfully. “I hope you’re right.”

Jim leaned closer. “Look. There are no guarantees. Never have been. But we’ve got to do whatever we can to keep them safe. All of us.” He paused. “That’s exactly what I told your mom this morning.”

“How’s she doing?” Maria asked. She knew if anyone could reassure her mother, it would be Jim.

“Remember how you felt when you found out?”

Maria nodded vigorously.

“I’d say about as well as any of us did. But…she’s concerned about you, Maria.”

“About me? Why?”

“Because you’ve kept this secret for so long.” Jim paused. “I shouldn’t be talking about this, it’s really between you and Amy.”

“What’s that?” Amy appeared in the doorway then, wrapped in Jim’s robe.

“Morning,” Jim smiled, getting to his feet and pouring Amy a cup of coffee. “How did you sleep?” he asked, kissing her cheek as he handed her the mug.

“Okay,” Amy offered hesitantly. “Morning, Maria.”

“Hey Mom.” Maria turned around and gave her mother a small smile. This was going to be interesting.

*****

“Are you sure you don’t mind picking up Jaycee?” Serena asked again as Kyle drove her car through downtown Roswell.

“Serena, it’s completely fine,” Kyle reassured, glancing over at her. “You need to rest. I’m taking you home and then I’ll go get her. No more arguing.”

Serena smiled at Kyle’s final tone and leaned back against the seat. “What a night, huh?”

Kyle nodded, his eyes again trained to the road. “How are you feeling?”

“Uh…well, still pretty much in shock, I think.” She paused. “Kyle, you aren’t…you aren’t one of them, are you?”

“One of them?”

“Yeah.” Serena shifted. “An…an alien.” She smiled ruefully. “It just sounds so strange to say. Like something that would come from Jaycee’s imagination.”

“I’d have to agree,” Kyle said with a chuckle. “And no, to my knowledge I wasn’t hatched out of a pod.” Seeing the strange look cross Serena’s face, he chuckled again. “Oh, you haven’t heard the half of it.”

Upon dropping Serena off at her house, Kyle headed the few blocks to Carol’s house. He pulled into the driveway, realizing he had no good explanation as to why he was picking up Jaycee. Taking a deep breath, Kyle made his way up to the house.

“Oh…Kyle, hello,” Carol greeted, pulling the front door open. “I wasn’t expecting you. How’ve you been, dear?”

“I’m alright,” Kyle answered, shifting his weight. “I’m picking up Jaycee for Serena.”

Carol nodded. “Well okay. Jaycee, honey, time to go home!” she called, turning into the house. “Come on in.”

Kyle watched as Jaycee bounded down the hall, pausing when she saw him. “Hi Jaycee.”

“Hey Kyle. Where’s my mommy?”

“She wasn’t feeling very well, so I told her I’d come pick you up. Is that okay?”

Jaycee shrugged, lugging her bookbag onto her back. “Is she gonna feel better when I get home?”

Kyle and Carol exchanged a smile. “I think you’re just what she needs,” he said.

After settling Jaycee into her carseat in the backseat, Kyle hopped behind the wheel.

“Are you sad, Kyle?” Jaycee asked suddenly.

Kyle glanced into the rearview mirror. “Do I look sad?”

Jaycee shrugged, kicking her heels against her seat. “Mommy said your grampy died. I was sad when my grampy died.”

“Oh.” Kyle paused. “Well, yeah, I am sad my grandpa died.”

“Did you grampy tell you stories?” Jaycee inquired.

“Uh…yeah. Yeah, I guess he did,” Kyle answered thoughtfully.

Jaycee grinned. “Grampies tell good stories, don’t they?”

Kyle couldn’t help matching Jaycee’s infectious smile, but as he glanced in the mirror, he saw her face grow serious.

“Did you know it’s okay to cry when you’re sad? Mommy said it was okay for me to cry when Grampy died. She doesn’t like me to cry when it’s time for my bath or to go to bed, but she said it’s okay to cry when your heart hurts.”

“Your mommy is right,” Kyle agreed quietly. Again he thanked whatever god was up there that Max was able to save this little girl’s mother – the woman he loved.

Upon arriving at the house, Jaycee scrambled out of her carseat and up the front walk. “Mommy?” she called, bursting into the house. “Mommy, is me!”

“I’m in here, Jay,” Serena called from the living room.

Kyle followed Jaycee as she scurried to her mother, throwing herself into her arms.

“Do you feel better now?” she asked sweetly.

“Much better now that you’re here,” Serena said, smoothing Jaycee’s hair off her forehead.

“That’s what Kyle said you’d say!” Jaycee giggled, burying her face in her mother’s neck.

Serena’s eyes met Kyle’s over Jaycee’s head, her eyes shimmering with tears. Kyle smiled and slowly backed toward the door. “I’m gonna get going-“

“No Kyle, stay and play!” Jaycee protested, turning to him. “I got Professor Bear for my birthday and we can play it on the computer.”

“Professor Bear, huh?” Kyle teased. “I don’t know how I can turn that down.” He and Serena shared another look as Jaycee grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the room.

*****

“Isabel, don’t be so closed-minded. It’s been days since you saw her.”

Turning to Michael with a glare, Isabel propped her elbows on the counter. “I don’t understand how you can all just trust her so effortlessly.”

“I think it has something to do with the fact that she didn’t rat anyone out after Max did…what he did to her,” Maria supplied, handing Isabel another Coke.

“It’s been less than a week,” Isabel pointed out. “Michael, you of all people should understand how I feel.”

Michael considered this. “I guess,” he answered slowly, feeling Maria’s eyes boring into him. “I just…I think we can trust her. And Amy,” he added quickly.

Maria leaned over the counter. “My mom’s still too confused to freak out about it. Not that she will freak out, of course, but…” She trailed off. “At least she’s acting halfway normal around Michael now. She even invited him over for dinner this weekend.”

“Well that’s fantastic,” Isabel said dryly. “But it’s not your mom I’m worried about.”

“We’re back,” Liz announced, appearing from the back room with Evan balanced on her hip. He was sucking contentedly on a bottle, and Liz smiled. “I think someone’s feeling much better now.”

Isabel reached for her son. “Come here, sweetie,” she said, kissing the top of his head. “Thanks, Liz, I appreciate it.”

“No problem,” Liz answered, bracing her hands in the small of her back. “What’d I miss?”

“Nothing,” Maria answered quickly, casting glances at Isabel and Michael, who was turning back to the grill. “How’s your back?”

“It’s been better,” Liz answered honestly, arching a little. “But don’t tell Max, or he’ll make me quit before Saturday.”

“Don’t push yourself, Liz,” Isabel said, balancing Evan on her lap.

Liz made a face. “I’m fine,” she assured. “Not having classes this week has been a huge help. There’s no way Max would be letting me do both.”

Isabel chuckled, knowing how true that was. Liz had just entered her third trimester, and if Max hadn’t been hovering before, he was going to be a regular bodyguard before long.

*****

Max strode cheerfully down the hall, his backpack slung over his shoulder. As he opened the door and went inside, he couldn’t help the smile that crossed his face. The sounds of Wang Chung floated through the apartment. Liz was listening to 80’s music again.

Dropping his backpack to the floor, he noticed the low roar of the vacuum coming from the back of the apartment. Max shook his head, but his grin remained. He should have known – Liz may not be working, but there was no way she’d just sit around doing nothing.

As he headed down the hall, a new song began and Liz’s voice rose up over the sound of the vacuum. He peered into the nearly empty room that would soon be their baby’s nursery.

“I used to think maybe you loved me, now baby I’m sure,” Liz sang along with the old Katrina and the Waves song as she pushed the vacuum back and forth. Her hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail, round belly poking out from under her snug T-shirt – and Max thought she looked gorgeous.

It was then that Liz glanced up and noticed him in the doorway. With a smile, she switched off the vacuum. “Hey you,” she said, brushing a strand of hair off her face. “How was the first day back?”

“Mind numbing,” Max grinned, reaching over to turn off the CD player.

“No, wait!” Liz hurried over and slapped his hand away. “We’re listening to that.”

Max arched an eyebrow. “We?”

“I told you before,” Liz reminded. “It seems our daughter has a penchant for 80’s music.”

Shaking his head, Max pulled Liz closer and rubbed his hand over her belly. “Silly girl.”

“Hey, I seem to recall someone with a thing for Adam Ant,” Liz giggled, leaning her forehead against Max’s.

“Classic rock,” Max defended, sliding his hands to her sides and swaying them back and forth.

Liz rolled her eyes. “Whatever you say,” she began, pausing at the movement in her womb.

Max felt the kick beneath his hands and beamed. “You like to dance with Daddy, don’t you, Peanut?”

“What am I, chopped liver?” Liz asked with mock indignation. She squealed as Max spun her out from his body and then pulled her back. “You’re perfect,” he corrected, pecking the tip of her nose as he continued to swing them around the room.

“I’m walking on sunshine,” Liz sang along, her giggles echoing over the music as they danced. The sounds made Max’s heart soar, and as cheesy as it sounded, that’s how he felt. He was walking on sunshine.

Before long, they were both singing along and dancing around the small bedroom, collapsing with laughter in each other’s arms when the song came to an end.

“I maintain she gets her thing for 80’s music from you,” Liz giggled, draping her arms over Max’s shoulders as the next song began. “Sing for us some more?”

Max groaned. “No. Absolutely not,” he said, reaching out to fiddle with the CD player.

“Why not?” Liz pouted.

“Because I am not going to sing along to ‘Jesse’s Girl,’” he responded. “It creeps me out.”

Liz burst out laughing again as Max snapped his fingers to begin a new song. Her eyes sparkled, recognizing it immediately. “Smooth.”

Max grinned smugly, pulling her close to him. “Baby, I’m hot just like an oven…I need some lovin,” he sang along, his voice a low murmur in her ear.

She couldn’t help the delicious shiver that ran down her spine as he swayed them back and forth, his body pressing against her.

“I can tell you darling, that it’s sexual healing…Let’s make love tonight…”

The sound of Max’s husky voice vibrating in her ear was doing things to her…and when he pulled away slightly to look into her eyes, her knees went weak. But rather than give in right then, Liz stared back into his darkened eyes and pressed closer.

Max let out a soft groan as her nails grazed over his back. The growing bulge in his jeans brushed the underside of Liz’s belly, and his hands tightened on her hips. Their bodies swayed to the sultry rhythm, slowly igniting the fire in their blood. Liz’s hands wandered past his waist and dropped to his butt, caressing him through his jeans.

“Liz…” Max hissed, his eyes drifting closed. His own hands began a descent to the small of her back, gently massaging her sore muscles.

Liz sighed at the feel of his strong hands on her, slowly drifting to her backside. But the moment she felt him squeeze the soft flesh, her eyes widened and she pushed him away.

Max’s eyes popped open in surprise. “Wha-?”

“You think my butt is fat, don’t you?” Liz accused, her eyes flashing.

“I do?” Max stared at his wife in bewilderment. What just happened?

“You just squeezed my fat!”

He raised his hands innocently. “You don’t have any fat there,” he told her.

“Oh, but I have it in other places?” Liz demanded, her hands planted on her hips.

“That’s not what I meant,” Max tried desperately. “Liz, the only thing that’s gotten, uh, a little bigger is your stomach.” He paused, seeing her skeptical face. “And…well, and these,” he added, gesturing to her breasts.

Liz studied him for a moment, her face finally softening. “Really?” she asked coyly. “You don’t think I’m fat?”

“You’re pregnant, Liz, not fat,” he assured, pulling her to him and closing his eyes in relief. “And you’re absolutely gorgeous.”

“You mean it?”

“I think you could feel it,” Max chuckled, his breath catching as her hand found his rapidly softening manhood.

Her smile reappeared as she moved her hand over him. “I’m sorry I ruined the mood.”

Max merely grinned and leaned in for a kiss. “I think that can be fixed.”

*****

Isabel had just finished laying Evan in his crib for his afternoon nap when the doorbell rang. “Shit,” she muttered under her breath, peering inside at her son. He shifted slightly in his sleep, but didn’t awaken.

She moved quietly out of the room and down the hall, pulling open the front door before whoever was there could ring the bell again.

“Hi Isabel.”

Isabel couldn’t help the look of shock that crossed her face. “What are you doing here?”

*****

“Max,” Liz moaned, her breath coming in ragged gasps as his fingers stroked her silky walls.

With one hand, Max brushed her damp hair off her face. The other worked busily between her legs as he sat beside her on their bed. “Come for me, babe,” he whispered huskily.

Liz arched her back when he pinched her clit, and the pressure combined with his words sent her sailing over the edge.

When she ceased pulsing around her fingers, Max slowly withdrew and settled onto his side. He caressed her bare sides and belly, waiting for her to come back to him. “How’re you feeling, baby?” he asked when she turned her head toward him.

A large grin spread over Liz’s flushed face, and she leaned over to capture his lips in a deep kiss. “Does that answer your question?” she asked when she pulled away.

Max nodded, his breath quickening as Liz’s eyes raked over his nude body. “Hmm,” she murmured thoughtfully, her gaze settling on his hardness.

“Hmm?” he repeated with a smile. His grin froze when she reached out and gave him a firm tug. “Liz…” he hissed.

“Just as I thought,” Liz announced, pushing herself up into a sitting position.

“Liz? Wha-“ Max trailed off as he watched Liz straddle his body. She sat on the tops of his thighs, reaching again for his erection. “Oh…god,” he managed as she took his pulsing flesh in her hands and began to stroke him.

“I think he was feeling ignored,” Liz stated matter-of-factly, her hand gathering speed.

Max pushed himself up on his elbows, watching Liz busily at work. “Not anymore,” he gasped, his head rolling back as Liz’s tongue poked out of the corner of her mouth.

Liz smiled down at her husband, shifting slightly on his lap and slowing her movements. “Wanna help?” she asked, her voice husky.

He stared back at her questioningly. “Do I want to-?”

Leaning forward as far as her stomach would allow, Liz whispered, “It makes me really hot when you touch yourself.”

Max thought he might explode right then, but managed a nod as he unclenched his fists from the sheets. His hands slid to her thighs, rising slowly up over the bulge of her belly and settling there for a minute before moving to cover her hand.

Liz let out a soft moan as he squeezed his hand over hers, setting a faster pace. She ground her sex against his thigh, trying to quench the fire burning between her legs. His free hand slid up her body, cupping first one, then the other swollen breast, and teasing her nipples into stiff peaks.

“Mmm…Liz…Liz, I’m so close,” he moaned. Both hands flew to her hips, lifting and settling her onto his manhood.

Liz sank over him with a strangled cry, her body accepting his thrusts as they raced toward completion. Their hands met, fingers linking on his chest as he jerked inside of her and spilled his seed.

“Oh god…Liz,” Max breathed, struggling to sit up. He pulled her against his chest, smoothing her hair and planting kisses on her forehead. He couldn’t get the image of their daughter, spinning in a circle, her dark hair flowing around her precious face, out of his mind.

Her giggle muffled against his warm chest, Liz said, “I bet she was listening to The Bangles.”




posted on 8-Oct-2002 6:59:31 PM by McGees
fd3144b4

Look what Heidi (aka ItWasYou) made! Isn't it fantastic? Thanks again, babe! *big*

LOL Ari, Max as Adam Ant. *tongue* Good tune, eh? I had to put 'Jesse's Girl' in this part, although to be honest the song reminded me of Kyle. Especially after A Tale of Two Parties. I ALWAYS think of the three of them whenever I hear it!

And now for the new part...


48

“What can I do for you?” Isabel asked coolly.

Serena shifted in the doorway. “I was wondering if I could talk to you.”

Isabel reluctantly moved aside and gestured for Serena to come in. She supposed it was better to be polite than to push Serena to tell of what she knew, and she tried to keep in mind what Max had said about Serena being a friend. Not just to Kyle, but to all of them. Then again, she’d barely even spoken to Kyle in two weeks. He didn’t seem interested, and she hadn’t yet managed to swallow her pride.

“The baby’s sleeping,” Isabel explained as she led Serena to the kitchen. “Uh, can I get you anything?”

“Water would be fine,” Serena answered, taking a seat at the table. “Look, Isabel, I didn’t come here to make trouble. I guess I’m just trying to figure out what you’ve got against me.”

Isabel slowly turned and set a glass of water on the table. “What makes you think I-“

“I’m not stupid,” Serena interrupted. “I know you don’t like me. But you used to. Until Evan was born, and I started spending time with Kyle.”

“You were on to us,” Isabel answered quietly. “I didn’t want you getting too close to Kyle and finding out.”

“But I did,” Serena pointed out. “I did, and it hasn’t changed anything.”

“Of course it has,” Isabel shot back. “You have no reason not to turn us in if something goes wrong. And then all of us – the aliens and the humans – and my son…we’re all as good as dead. And you know what? It’s one thing if I get found out. I’ve lived with that possibility my whole life. But Jesse and Evan…they’re innocent. Evan didn’t ask for any of this. And not a day goes by that I don’t ask myself if I’m just being selfish for wanting a family. But they are my family, Serena, and I love them. I won’t let anything happen to them.” By the time Isabel had finished, her eyes had filled with tears.

“And neither will I, if I can help it,” Serena whispered, reaching over and touching Isabel’s trembling shoulder. “Isabel, I was there when Evan was born. I risked my job to make sure his blood was safe, and I didn’t even know why. I don’t know what you’re scared of, but it shouldn’t be me.”

Isabel sniffled, thinking about this. “I don’t know exactly what I’m scared of, either,” she admitted finally. “I just…I have a very hard time trusting people. Jesse…he’s loved me unconditionally, throughout all of this. I chose to tell him, even though I struggled with other people knowing at first, like Liz and Maria. It seems like so many of the people that get involved get hurt, or…or worse.”

“Alex,” Serena murmured. “Kyle’s talked a lot about him.”

Isabel nodded silently, the tears dancing on her lashes. “He was amazing. Such a good person. He didn’t deserve what…” she trailed off. “Anyway, I think…I think I’m as scared for you as I am for us. Does that make sense?”

Serena thought about this. “It does,” she answered slowly. “But I wouldn’t put myself or my daughter in a situation that I thought would be harmful. I don’t see Kyle as a threat, and I’m not afraid of you either. Max saved my life. How could I fear any of you?”

Isabel took a deep breath. “I know it may be asking a lot, but I hope you can forgive me,” she said quietly. “I was only looking out for the people I love.”

A gentle smile crossed Serena’s face. “So was I.”

*****

“Max, don’t get mad at me.”

Max paused, fork mid-air. “Mad at you? About what?”

Liz smiled sweetly, dunking a bite of chicken in Tabasco sauce and popping it into her mouth before continuing. “I know you want me to stay off my feet and get plenty of rest until the baby comes, but…I’m going crazy. I can’t just come home after class and do nothing.”

“Liz-“

“Wait, wait, so I talked to my dad. And he feels the same way you do. But he said I could take a temporary office position, just basic organization and financing for a couple months. It’s stuff that needs to get done anyway, but it’ll help the Café and it’ll give me something to do a few afternoons a week.”

Max sighed, gazing at his wife’s hopeful face across the table. “Liz…I just don’t want you to push yourself. I mean, you’re taking eleven credit hours, and-“

“But Max, I feel great. Please, just trust me, okay?” She reached over and squeezed his hand. “You know I’ll take care of myself and our baby.”

“Of course I know that,” Max murmured. “And you know I trust you.” He paused, stroking her hand. “If you want to do this, I’m behind you.”

Liz smiled brightly. “Thank you, baby. I’m starting tomorrow.”

*****

“So did you hear?”

Liz turned from the desk in her father’s office to see Michael standing in the doorway. “Hear what?”

“Isabel and Serena were in together for lunch this afternoon.”

Liz made a face. “Michael, grow up. Neither of them swing that way-“

“Whoa, whoa,” Michael held up his hands. “Give me a little credit, okay? That’s not what I was implying.”

“Oh.” Liz chuckled, leaning back in the office chair to stretch her muscles. “So it’s true, then? The Ice Princess has thawed for yet another human?”

“Looks like it,” Michael grinned, remembering Maria’s high school nickname for Isabel. “Wonder what made her come around?”

“Maybe she just got tired of keep up her guard,” Liz said, shuffling through a stack of papers on the desk.

Michael nodded. “How’s the job coming?”

“Did Max ask you to check up on me?” she asked suspiciously.

“No.” Not this time, he thought wryly. “I’m just asking.”

Liz shrugged. “It’s keeping me busy. It’s definitely obvious we’ve never had an office manager before. Dad and Mom have so many other things demanding their time that it’s…oh.”

“What?” Michael eyed Liz cautiously as she abruptly got to her feet.

“I gotta pee,” Liz explained, her hands fanning out over her belly. “Sometimes when she moves around a lot she ends up right on my bladder. You’re running out of space, aren’t you?” she added, smiling down at the bulge.

Michael studied Liz’s stomach. “The baby’s moving right now?” he asked, curiosity getting the best of him.

“Uh huh.” Liz looked up at him with a grin. “Do you want to feel?”

“Um, I don’t know if I-“

But Liz grabbed his large hand and placed it on her abdomen just in time for the baby to give a strong kick.

“Whoa!” Michael yanked his hand away like he’d been burned.

“She won’t bite,” Liz assured gently. “Doesn’t it feel neat?”

Michael hesitantly replaced his hand, his eyes widening as he felt the baby squirm beneath the fabric of Liz’s top. “That’s…wow.”

Liz smiled. “That was pretty much Max’s reaction, too.” She paused as the baby shifted again, and her eyes widened. “Okay, now I really gotta go.”

Watching as Liz dashed toward the bathroom, Michael suddenly noticed Maria in the kitchen doorway. “Oh…hey,” he offered gruffly.

Maria’s shoulders shook with silent laughter, knowing Michael’s masculinity felt humbled. She waltzed over to him, wrapping her arms around his waist and leaning up to peck his lips. “My adorably sensitive Spaceboy.”

*****

“Max? Are you home?” Liz closed the apartment door behind her, kicking off her shoes. She heard a clatter and then the sound of Max cursing, and she smiled to herself. What was he up to now?

She followed the sound down the hall, pausing in the doorway of the spare bedroom. “Oh my god, Max.” Her eyes widened. “You got the crib up!”

Max glanced up from where he sat on the floor, several white wooden pieces and tools scattered around him. “Kind of,” he grumbled. “This one stupid piece won’t stay in place.”

Liz cocked an eyebrow. “To tell you the truth, I’m surprised you went to all this trouble. I figured you’d just wave your hand and it’d be done.”

Max shrugged. “Yeah, well…what better way to spend a Saturday.” He paused then, blushing a little. “I don’t know, I guess I just wanted to do this for her…”

And then she understood. Max wanted to put his daughter’s crib together just like any other dad. “I’m sure she’d appreciate the effort,” Liz said gently, rubbing her hand over her belly. “But I think we’d all appreciate a crib that doesn’t fall apart.”

Max stuck his tongue out, but got to his feet. “I guess.” He sighed, raising his hand to the partially assembled crib, and before their eyes it fused together.

“Beautiful,” Liz complimented, kissing Max’s cheek as he settled his arms around her.

“How was work?” Max asked, his fingers caressing her back.

“The usual,” she answered. “Lots of alphabetizing and filing.”

“Sounds stimulating,” he winked. “Oh, speaking of that, I got something.”

“Something…stimulating?” Liz repeated, watching as Max reached into the bedroom closet.

“I bought it today,” he explained, holding up a blue and yellow mobile. “The lady at the store said the shapes stimulate a baby’s eyesight.”

Liz sighed. “Oh, Max.”

“I mean, I know we haven’t really decided on a theme for the nursery yet,” he said quickly. “I just…I really liked the moon and stars. But if you don’t, it’s okay-“

“Max.” Liz silenced him with a finger to his lips, slowly shaking her head. “I love it. It’s perfect for our baby’s nursery.”

His eyes lit up, and he carefully placed the mobile in the empty crib as he noticed Liz sniffling. “Liz? Are you crying?”

“No,” she sniffled, swiping at her eyes.

“Yes you are,” Max argued, taking her in his arms. “I didn’t mean for you to cry-“

Liz shook her head, burying her face in his neck. “No, it’s just…I just love you so much.”

Max kissed the top of his wife’s head. Hormones. “I love you too, baby.” He was silent for a moment before holding her out at arm’s length. “So does this mean we’ve decided on a theme?”

“I think so,” Liz confirmed with a watery smile. “I saw the cutest moon and star design in one of the parenting magazines. If I can find out where it’s from…”

Smiling to himself, Max watched as Liz gained her composure and went back to business, hurrying from the room mumbling something about ‘lots of shopping.’ He glanced down at the mobile and shook his head. What had he gotten himself into?




posted on 14-Oct-2002 1:12:04 AM by McGees
Dee, you make me smile! Here's your update for tonight! Thanks, guys, for the feedback. It's great to see some new pixels, too, especially with the end of this story in sight. Here's the first of the new part...


fd3144b4
49a

“Oh! Look at this!”

Max hurried after his wife, wading through a sea of baby furniture. Liz had snagged him that morning, informing him that they were going to Baby World and they weren’t coming home until they had everything they needed. And apparently “everything” included lampshades, because that was what Liz was currently exclaiming over.

“Isn’t this perfect?” Liz gestured to a pale blue lampshade with tiny yellow stars dangling from it. “It’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen."

Interesting, considering she’d already said the exact same thing about a diaper bag, a monitor, and a set of outlet protectors. But Max, dutiful husband and expectant father that he was, smiled cheerfully and said, “It’s great, Liz. Let’s get it.”

Liz squealed, throwing her arms around Max for a moment before plunking the lampshade into their cart. “Come on, we’ve got to look at mattress pads. Oh! And bibs!”

Max had to smile, marveling at Liz’s enthusiasm as she took off again. She may have been almost eight months pregnant, but that certainly wasn’t stopping her determined trek through Baby Land. Baby World. Whatever. “Liz, honey, wait up!”

*****

“Hey Blondie, hook me up with some of that pink stuff.”

Maria glanced up at Michael, who was currently standing on a stepstool at the back of the Crashdown. “What, the crepe paper?”

“Yeah. Crepe paper, pink stuff, whatever.” He caught the roll in his hands and proceeded to twist and attach it with a little alien magic.

“Careful, Spaceboy,” Maria warned, eyeing the door to the back room as she hung another pink balloon. Liz’s parents were back there setting up food, and an alien encounter as the last thing they needed to deal with on the day of Liz’s baby shower.

“Cake’s here!” Jesse announced, appearing from the back with a bakery box in one arm and Evan in the other. “Where should I put it?”

“That booth over there,” Isabel instructed, following just behind them. “Then make sure all the paper plates and utensils are out. Oh, and the cups, get those from the back.”

Jesse mock saluted, turning from the booth and settling Evan in his portable crib. “Okay, big guy, you gotta entertain yourself so we get Aunt Liz’s party ready in time.”

“So your Nazi Mommy doesn’t eat us all,” Michael cooed to the little boy.

Evan merely grinned, flashing several new teeth as his mommy smacked Michael upside the head.

*****

“I think we need a boppy.”

Max stared blankly at his wife. A what? "A what?"

“A boppy,” Liz repeated firmly. “Isabel had one, and she really liked it.”

Wracking his brain, Max tried desperately to figure out exactly what the heck Liz was talking about. She’d probably told him before and he’d forgotten. And if that was the case, she’d be upset. And then she might cry. And that was the last thing he wanted, so he merely nodded. “Right. A boppy.”

“Hmm.” Liz studied a shelf of pillows, pondering them thoughtfully. “This one,” she decided, settling on a soft yellow one and placing it in the cart.

“Liz, we don’t need any more pillows,” Max spoke up carefully.

Liz gave him a look. “But this is a boppy.” She noted his confusion as he eyed the u-shaped pillow and explained, “They’re good support to lay the baby on when you’re nursing, and then later when the baby is learning to sit up.”

“Oh.” Max considered this. “I could probably make one of those, you know. Let’s just hold off on it for now, okay? If we need one, I’ll run right out and get it.”

Liz easily returned it, much to Max’s relief. “You’re the best,” she smiled, stretching up to kiss her husband’s cheek.

And it would probably best to get out of there before Liz decided otherwise. Max rubbed his hand along the small of her back and said, “What do you think? Enough shopping for the day?”

Studying the overflowing cart, Liz nodded slowly. “For now,” she decided.

“Well, let’s check out and get this stuff home so you can put your feet up.”

Liz made a face. “Fine. But we have to stop by the Crashdown on the way home. Dad needs me to pick up some numbers to work on for Monday.”

“He’s giving you extra work?” Max demanded. “On top of schoolwork, he wants you to-“

“Max, calm down,” Liz laughed. “It’s no big deal. We don’t have the right graphing program on the dinosaur at work, so I said I’d finish it on our computer. As if my dad would overwork me.”

Max had to smile at the absurdity of that thought. If there was anyone as protective of Liz as he was, it was Jeff Parker. And Max was developing a whole new respect for his father-in-law, now that he was about to become a father himself. He was surprised Jeff allowed him to date Liz as early as he did – heck, his daughter wouldn’t be dating until she was out of college. Then again, if she was as talented a sweet talker as her mother, he anticipated many nights waiting up for his little girl to get home.

But that, thankfully, was a long way into the future. They still had lots to do just in preparing for her arrival, as he was clearly reminded of when he whipped out his credit card to pay. It starts, he thought wryly.

*****

“Do you want to wait in the car?” Liz asked, easing her seatbelt off.

“Nah, I’ll come with you,” Max decided, removing the key from the ignition and climbing out of the car. He hurried around to help Liz out, adding, “It’s not because I don’t think you can do it yourself, I’m just in the mood for an Alien Blast.”

“Me too,” Liz shot back, squeezing his behind.

Max jumped, his eyes clouding with desire. “Is that so?”

“I guess you’ll see when we get home.” Liz’s dark eyes twinkled as they reached the front door and stepped inside.

“Surprise!”

Max and Liz froze as their family and close friends poured out of the booths and the back room, and then noticed the large “It’s a Girl!” banner hanging across the back.

“What’s going on here?” Max chuckled, wrapping his arm around Liz’s waist.

Maria bounded forward with a grin. “It’s your baby shower, silly! We had the Crashdown closed for a 'private party,'” she said, leading the surprised couple into the café.

“Do you remember Liz now?” Kyle asked Jaycee, who was perched in his lap as he sat at the counter with Serena. “She got you your sundae the first time we brought you here.”

“Oh yeah,” Jaycee chirped, the memory of that yummy sundae coming back to her. She studied Liz and Max thoughtfully. “Her tummy is very big now.”

Serena exchanged a look with Kyle, both praying Liz wouldn’t overhear Jaycee’s innocent comment and take it the wrong way. “That’s because the baby in her tummy is going to be born soon,” she explained. “Like all the mommies and babies I work with. And that’s why we’re giving her a party.”

Jaycee considered this. “Yeah, but the baby doesn’t get to open any presents from in there.”

Kyle had to chuckle at this. “You’re right. But everything will be waiting for her when she gets here.”

“Maybe I could help open some of her presents since she can’t do it.”

Grinning down at the little girl, Kyle tickled her sides. “I bet Liz would like the help.”

“But I don’t think it’s time for presents just yet, Jay,” Serena added. “Patience, okay?”

“Okay,” Jaycee agreed. “Let’s just have some cake, then.”

Serena shook her head, smiling at her daughter. She glanced up just as Isabel passed. She returned Isabel’s tentative smile and asked, “Is there anything you need me to do?”

“Eat some food,” Isabel responded. “We’ve got a ton.”

Kyle needed no further invitation, as he was up off the stool with Jaycee before Isabel finished her sentence. Alone with Serena, she added sincerely, “I’m glad you came.”

“We wouldn’t have missed it,” Serena answered. “Besides, Jaycee loves parties. And babies, for that matter.”

Isabel followed her gaze to Kyle and Jaycee, who were talking animatedly to little Evan in his crib. “I’m glad you both made it,” she repeated with a genuine smile.

“Time for games!” came Maria’s sudden announcement. She stood in the middle of the café, waving a baby bottle.

“Games?” Liz repeated, turning from where she and Max stood chatting with Diane. They went all out with this, didn’t they?”

“You have no idea,” Diane chuckled as Michael and Jeff emerged from the back room with two large soup pots full of water. Maria grinned, gesturing for them to set them on the floor. “This is a variation on the old favorite bobbing for apples that I like to call ‘Bobbing for Nipples.”

The party guests burst into laughter, while poor Max proceeded to turn a handsome shade of crimson. Liz squeezed his arm and couldn’t help whispering, “You should be a pro at this one, baby.”

“Wait, wait, come on people. This is a baby shower, remember?” Maria continued. “We’ll have two teams, boys against girls, bobbing for nipples like this one,” she said, holding up the bottle again. “Each person will get ten seconds to retrieve as many as possible, and the team that gets the most nipples wins.”

It was a close race, particularly between a very competitive Jim and Amy, but in the end the men came out on top when Brody proved his nipple-retrieving skills against Nancy. Liz sat with Diane and Isabel, laughing hysterically at their friends.

Max eventually sidled over, rubbing a towel over his damp face, and kissed the top of Liz’s head. “Did I make you proud?”

“Definitely.” Liz grinned, leaning into him and murmuring, “We’ll have to practice our nipple retrieval again tonight.”

A sudden commotion from the back of the café interrupted their playfulness, as Jesse’s voice rang out, “Oh my god!” Max and Liz turned in time to see Isabel crane her neck and gasp before racing to her husband. Time seemed to run in slow motion as someone else gasped, “He’s not breathing.”

Max’s eyes widened in horror as he realized what was happening. His nephew. There on the back counter lay baby Evan, his little face turning blue.


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 14-Oct-2002 1:18:56 AM ]
posted on 16-Oct-2002 2:36:25 AM by McGees
I'm back, I'm back! I would have been back a lot quicker, but RL has been kicking my behind. I just decided to transfer schools, which has been quite time consuming, and then to top it off one of the writers on our paper just decided to quit - the day her article was due. Lovely. Anyway, as a break from the real world, I wanted to finish up this part of our DREAM world.


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“He’s not breathing!” Jesse’s voice was filled with desperate urgency as he laid his son on the back counter. His mind was racing; he didn’t know what to do. The heimlich? CPR? Oh god, he wished he’d paid more attention in his college first aid course.

Isabel and Jeff skidded to his side in the same instant, with Max right behind them. Both Max and Isabel had the same thought; to simply use alien powers to heal him. But Jeff and all the others were hovering so close…anyone would see. Max knew that Isabel would risk it all in a heartbeat to save her son, but they didn’t know what was wrong with him. They could do more harm than good before they figured it out, but they had to do
something.

“I think he’s choking,” Jeff mused. “Oh lord, I’m only trained for choking adults, not infants…” He trailed off, his eyes filled with sorrow as Serena pushed past him.

Only a matter of seconds had passed, but she knew how crucial it was. She lowered her mouth over Evan’s mouth and nose, giving a short breath before pressing two fingers against his chest and giving two firm thrusts.

Isabel and Jesse watched, clinging to one another in terror as Serena swept her finger into the child’s mouth. “Dammit,” she muttered, breathing into him again before another set of compressions. This time she did a finger sweep and Evan let out a little gasp. “Here we go, you’re okay,” she murmured, pulling a small fragment of pink balloon from the little boy’s mouth as he let out a lusty cry.

“Oh, thank god!” Isabel sobbed as Serena lifted Evan off the counter and carefully passed him to her. “My baby,” she whispered, cradling him in her arms and burying her face in his wispy hair.

Jesse held his wife and son close, his heart slowing as Evan’s cries faded into hiccups. “Thank you,” he managed finally, turning to Serena. “Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome,” Serena answered softly, meeting Isabel’s eyes when she finally looked up.

“It’s okay,” Jeff announced loudly. “Evan’s okay.”

Across the café, Liz’s shoulders slumped in relief as Nancy gripped her arm.

“Liz, sweetheart, let’s sit down.” Nancy helped Liz into a booth, arms wrapped tightly around her daughter. “It’s okay. Evan’s fine.”

Liz nodded, sucking in a deep breath and willing her heart to slow down. She saw Max squeeze Isabel’s shoulder before making his way back to her, and she knew he was just as shaken. They both knew he would have used his powers to help Evan, even though it would have given away their identity. Thank god Serena was there and knew what to do. As Max approached the booth, Liz got to her feet and buried her face in his chest.

“He’s okay, Liz,” Max murmured, stroking her hair. “We’re okay.”

Nodding, Liz pressed her cheek against his pounding heart. “What did he choke on?”

“A balloon must have popped,” Max explained. “He swallowed a piece of it.”

Nancy shook her head. “I guess we won’t have any of those around for a long time.” She paused. “And I have a feeling your father might go back to the Red Cross and have his first aid card updated.”

Still shaking, Isabel ran her hands over her son to make sure he was really okay. He was perfectly fine now, and seemed confused about all the fuss. Kissing his forehead, Isabel again glanced up at Serena. Her eyes were swimming with tears as she murmured, “You saved my son’s life.”

“I would never let anything happen to him,” Serena answered softly.

Carefully handing Evan to Jesse, Isabel studied Serena for a long moment before pulling her into a hug. “Thank you,” she whispered. “Thank you for everything.”

*****

“What do you think, Petunia? You up for some cake and presents?” Maria squeezed Liz’s shoulder, gesturing to the stacks of gifts that more than filled one of the booths.

Liz glanced over at Isabel, who bounced a smiling Evan in her lap. Things had calmed considerably, and Evan was clearly the picture of good health. Liz was still shaken up, but she knew how much work her friends had put into this shower and she was determined to enjoy it. “Hook me up,” she chuckled.

And that was how Liz and Max found themselves surrounded with bags and boxes of all different sizes, decorated with bears and ducks and rattles. Max hardly knew what to do with himself, and he was content to watch Liz open the gifts and exclaim appropriately with the other women.

“Ooh, this is from Isabel,” Liz announced, reaching into a large pink and white bag and sifted through a cloud of tissue paper. “A boppy!” she exclaimed, holding up a yellow and white gingham pillow. “Iz, thanks. Look, Max, you were right to wait.”

Max just flashed a cool ‘I knew it’ smile as Liz reached for another box. “Something else?” Liz asked incredulously, glancing up at her parents.

“So we splurged a little, it’s our first grandchild,” Jeff chuckled with a shrug.

Grinning, Liz removed the paper and her face promptly fell. “Oh no,” she sighed, studying the baby monitor as tears sprang to her eyes. “We – we just bought one this afternoon. I had no idea-“

“It’s okay,” Max soothed, squeezing her hand. He should have anticipated this. “We’ll just return the things we bought today that we won’t need.”

Liz sniffled, her smile returning. “Okay,” she nodded, turning back to her parents. “Thank you so much.”

“We have one more thing,” Nancy continued, glancing at Jeff. He held out a neatly wrapped box, which Liz reached for.

“Ah, ah. This is for Max,” Jeff informed her.

Feigning jealousy, Liz watched as her surprised husband accepted the box from her father. “Go ahead, open it,” she encouraged softly.

Glancing up at his in-laws again, Max carefully removed the wrapping. “I – wow,” was all he could manage when he caught a glimpse of his gift.

“A must have for every new dad,” Jeff was saying. “This will last you at least to the kid’s graduation, guaranteed.”

Max studied the handsome manual camera in awe. He’d always wanted to pursue photography, but had never really had the opportunity. Plus, the expense of a high quality camera simply wasn’t something that could be budgeted in. A gift, of course, was another story, and he looked up at Jeff and Nancy with a growing smile. “Thank you,” he said sincerely. “It will go to good use.”

“It better,” Jeff chuckled. “I want pictures of my granddaughter all over the house.”

“And be sure to make doubles for us,” Phillip added.

Liz laughed. “I bet we could go through three rolls of film with her wearing a different outfit in every shot.” She had never seen so many tiny little undershirts and onesies, not to mention an array of sleepers, dresses, and booties in a variety of sizes and colors. Plus, Amy and Maria appeared to have gone a little crazy at Baby Gap. Liz was quite certain her unborn daughter was the proud owner of the tiniest denim jacket and flared jeans known to man.

Not only that, but they now found themselves fully equipped with a car seat, a stroller, a portable bassinet, and a bouncy seat passed down from Evan. Max was already making a relieved mental list of things he could return from their shopping spree.

Later, as the party was starting to wind down, Serena caught Max in a rare moment by himself as he got a cup of soda. “How’d you like the shower?” she asked, touching his arm.

“It was different,” he admitted. “I’ve never really done the baby shower thing, but it was really nice. And I know Liz loved it.” Max paused, studying the young woman. “Thank you again for everything.”

“Max, I-“

“We were ready to act, Serena,” he interrupted quietly. “We would have risked it all for him. But because of you we didn’t have to. You kept it – us – a secret. And I can’t think you enough for that.”

Serena nodded slowly. “I’m just glad I could help.”

Max smiled then. “More than you know.”

*****

Max stepped out of the shower, reaching for a fluffy blue towel and rubbing it over his body. It had been a long day. A good day, overall, but definitely exhausting. And the baby wasn’t even here yet.

After a vigorous rub though his hair, Max wrapped the towel around his waist and flipped off the bathroom light. He padded down the hall, past the nursery that was now cluttered with baby items, and paused in his own bedroom doorway when he saw Liz. “What are you doing, babe?”

Liz glanced up, removing the stethoscope from her ears. “Listening,” she grinned. “I love how Serena gave it to me so I can listen to the baby’s heartbeat whenever I want.”

“Ah.” Max smiled as Liz replaced the stethoscope and moved it over the expanse of her stomach. He dropped his towel, yanked on a pair of boxers, and sidled over to the bed. Settling beside Liz, he watched the look of pure contentment on his wife’s face as she listened to their daughter. Max couldn’t resist placing his hand against the side of her belly, watching the soft glow reflect there.

They both felt the sudden movement beneath Liz’s skin, and she giggled. “I think you woke her up,” she informed him.

Max grinned, feeling their baby squirm against his palm. “Did you have a good nap, Peanut?”

Liz rolled her eyes good-naturedly. “I sure did. She’s been kicking up a storm all night. I think she’s ready to come out.”

“Do you think so?” Max asked, his voice taking on an anxious tone. “I mean, Isabel’s pregnancy was the same length as a human one. You should have another six weeks left, shouldn’t you-“

“Max, Max, slow down,” Liz giggled, squeezing his hand. “We’ve definitely got some time. As much as I’d love wearing my old clothes and not having to pee every five minutes, it’s going to be a while. She’s not going anywhere.”

Max’s eyebrows furrowed. “How do you know?”

“I feel it,” Liz assured. “You may have those alien powers, but she and I have an understanding.”

“An understanding, huh?” Max watched as Liz reclined lower on the pillows and then settled down beside her.

“Yep.” Liz smiled brightly. “We’re not supposed to do anything that will give Daddy a heart attack.” She paused. “Well, I have a little more leeway, just because you’re way too paranoid.”

Max made a face. “Very funny, Liz, I-“ He paused. “Liz. Did you see that?”

“See what?”

“Your stomach. It just moved.”

“It moved?” Liz pushed herself up on her elbows to study the bulge and gasped. Sure enough, with each kick a tiny area of skin protruded. She watched in amazement as her daughter moved within her.

Max gingerly touched his fingers to her soft flesh, laughing in wonder as he felt his baby push up to greet him. They could literally see her stomach roll back and forth with the child’s activity. Unable to resist the urge, he leaned over a pressed a languid kiss to Liz’s belly and then slowly began to work his way up her body.

Liz gazed down at her husband, face nuzzled between her breasts, hand cupping her belly, and felt a wave of desire roll through her. His tenderness and sensuality melded together in a way that made her burn for him. “Max,” she breathed as his mouth nipped at her through the flimsy material of her nightgown.

“Oh Liz,” he sighed, slowly trailing his lips up to pepper her collarbone with kisses. “You just amaze me.”

Shivering, Liz ran the pads of her fingers over his muscular back. She shifted onto her side to face him, and their lips met in a kiss that exploded with passion. She moaned softly at the delicious intrusion of his tongue, pressing her body as close to his as she could manage.

Though their middle proximity was nowhere near as close as it used to be, it was more than enough for Max’s arousal to make itself known. Liz ran her hand down his side, coming to rest on the tented material of his boxers. “Do you want me, Max?”

“Yes,” he hissed, grimacing in pleasure as Liz’s slender fingers reached into his boxer shorts to free him. His erection sprang to life, brushing the underside of Liz’s round belly. “God, Liz, yes.”

Liz moaned appreciatively at his words and the feel of his rock hard flesh bumping against hers. She captured his lips in a deep, searing kiss before whispering, “Then take me.”

Max’s eyes nearly rolled back in his head at the force of their kiss, and he growled as he guided his aching erection to her. He suddenly heard Liz mutter, “Dammit,” and his eyes flew open as he felt her scoot away.

“Liz?” he whimpered, watching her ease up from the bed as quickly as her body would allow.

“I have to pee.”

*****



C'mon, guys, did you really think we'd let anything happen to Evan? And can you tell who's taking a first aid class right now? *wink* Just goes to show you how important first aid training is! Oh yeah, and I love that a few of you actually knew what a 'boppy' was, too! I swear I wasn't making it up...I work with babies, and I just cracked up when I learned that's what it was called. Max is about to get a lot more familiar with all those baby terms, too...it won't be long before his Peanut makes her grand entrance!
posted on 25-Oct-2002 2:17:32 PM by McGees
Well, I hope you all are in the mood for some fluff. Because that's all this part is. Pure Max and Liz fluff. I figured they deserve a little of that before they become parents, right?


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50

“Mmm…Max, that feels so good.”

Max smiled, glancing up at his wife. “Right there?”

“Yes…mmm, right there,” Liz purred, her eyes drifting closed under Max’s ministrations.

Adding a bit more pressure, Max circled his thumb over a particularly sensitive spot and elicited a groan of pleasure. “You really needed this tonight, didn’t you?”

“God, yes,” Liz sighed. Her eyes fluttered open again and she gazed down at Max, whose fingers were working busily. “Mmm…nothing beats a foot massage at the end of the day.”

Max arched an eyebrow, ceasing his caresses. “Nothing?”

Liz couldn’t help giggling at his cocky expression. “Okay, maybe not nothing."

“That’s what I thought,” Max replied cheekily, returning his attention to her sore feet and swollen ankles.

Leaning back against her propped pillows, Liz rested her hand over the curve of her stomach. “So my mom was harassing me about it again today.”

“Isabel hit me up yesterday. And it was my mom the day before that.”

Liz shook her head. “They really are impatient, aren’t they?”

“Very,” Max confirmed with a nod. “I tried convincing Mom that we were seriously considering Eunice.”

“Eunice Evans. That has a nice ring to it,” Liz mused. She cocked her head to the side. “Wait…what was that, kiddo? You’d rather entrust your upbringing to Michael than to parents who would name you Eunice?”

Max chuckled right along with Liz, his large hand covering hers over the bulge of baby. “But to be fair, Michael’s not as clueless as he used to be.”

“Because he understands Sharpies aren’t appropriate playthings for Evan?” Liz teased. “Man, if it weren’t for her ability to remove permanent marker, Isabel would have freaked.”

Rubbing his fingers along the arch of Liz’s foot, Max smiled again. “So I suppose they know Eunice is out.”

“Probably,” Liz agreed. “But I think they’ll like what we decided on, don’t you?”

“I do,” Max nodded, one hand again straying up to her belly. “You approve, don’t you Peanut?” The resounding thump against his palm was all Max needed for his smile to extend into a beam.

“I think my mom is actually starting to wonder if that’s her name,” Liz giggled, watching as the child’s movement caused small waves to ripple across her abdomen.

“She knows we’re talking about her,” Max said, his voice hushed as he studied Liz’s belly in wonder. Liz loved when Max’s eyes lit up like that, like a child on Christmas morning. The pure awe danced across his handsome features as he pressed his hand against the warm skin over her womb. There was something so humbling about witnessing a life before it was even born, as Max and Liz had long since learned.

“Maybe she wants you to sing for her,” Liz suggested, brushing Max’s dark hair off his face. Truth be told, she was dying to hear his sexy voice, and not just the faint strains she made out while awakening some mornings.

Max’s cheeks flushed a little as he smiled. “You think so?”

“Definitely.” Liz watched as Max settled closer to her stomach, his hand caressing its fullness, and felt her breath catch at the sound of his silky voice.

“For you I wanna sing the happier song…for you I wanna try to right all my wrongs,” he sang softly, hovering over their baby’s glow. “For you I’m gonna break my bad habits…there’s a golden ring and I want you to have it.” His eyes raised to meet Liz’s, his lips curving into a smile. “There’s a golden ring and I want you…”

Liz let out a little sigh of contentment at the sound of her husband singing so sweetly, touching her so tenderly, and she settled back against the pillows as he continued.

“For you I’m gonna sit and patiently wait…it’s great if you’re early but it’s fine if you’re late,” Max sang to his daughter, feeling her press against his palm. “For you I feel love and I just wanna show it…you’re a beautiful girl and I want you to know it.” He grinned, placing a quick kiss against Liz’s skin. “You’re a beautiful girl and I want you to know it…it’s an infinite world and I want you…” Max trailed off then, feeling Liz’s fingers stroking his hair, and turned to see his wife fighting back tears.

“I’m sorry,” she sniffled as his hand covered hers. “Everything sets me off now, and you just…you’re so…”

Max nodded, lifting her hand to his lips. He’d learned it was better to just wait out Liz’s emotional moments rather than try to say something to fix it. Liz was a strong woman, and it didn’t take her long to bounce back. And sure enough, this was no exception. Just moments later her fingers were running over his jaw.

“That was nice,” she murmured as he shifted closer, taking her into his arms.

“Can I kiss you?” was Max’s reply as his dark eyes studied hers.

Nodding, Liz met his lips in a long, languid kiss. The innocence of the moment was gone as Liz teased his mouth open with her tongue.

Max let out a low moan as Liz explored the recesses of his mouth, her warm tongue sweeping around him. She pressed herself a little closer, the fullness of her belly rubbing against his groin. “Mmm…Liz…”

“I want you, Max,” she breathed, her hands sliding down to cup his butt and draw him even closer. She was burning for him suddenly, aching… “I want you inside me, Max. Now.”

His eyes snapped open at the urgency in Liz’s voice. She wasn’t joking around. Her hand had already dipped into his pajama pants, urging his manhood into a stiff rod. He grimaced in pleasure as the tip of her finger ran over the sensitive head. “O-okay,” he managed, rolling her onto her back and shoving his pants down. He kicked them to the side as her pushed her nightgown up, and his fingers ran a tantalizing trail from her breasts down. Tracing the faint line that had appeared from her navel to her pubic bone, Max placed a wet kiss on each breast through the fabric and allowed his fingers to creep lower.

Liz’s back arched off the bed at the invasion of Max’s fingers, and she let out a low cry as he stroked her slick walls. “Max…please…”

“I’m here, baby,” he soothed, slowly withdrawing his fingers and cupping her in his palm. Rolling over, he gently eased Liz onto her side and parted her legs with his thigh. Her body quivered in excitement as he teased his head against her entrance, and her moan echoed in his ears as he slid into tight passage.

“Yes…yes…oh god, Max…” Liz mumbled almost incoherently as he moved inside of her. His thrusts were deliberate, and she met each one with an equal fervor.

“God, Liz, you’re so wet,” Max moaned against her throat. “I’m gonna come…” He was shocked that he was racing toward the edge so quickly, but her body was so warm and tight and perfect that he couldn’t help himself. “Liiiiz…”

She could feel him swelling even within her, and his pulsating flesh sent Liz into a shattering orgasm. Her own cries nearly drown out Max’s as his release overcame him a few moments later, and then they lay completely spent.

“Wow,” was all Max could manage as he rolled onto his back.

“Yeah,” Liz gasped in response. Her body was shimmering with perspiration, her heart and her mind humming from the connection with Max and their baby. It was just minutes before exhaustion overtook her and she fell fast asleep, Max’s slumber following right behind.

*****

“You are so beautiful.”

Liz pretended to look around the bathroom as she rubbed a towel through her damp hair. “Who, me?”

Max nodded, leaning against the doorframe as he gazed at his wife. “You are beautiful,” he repeated.

She glanced down, running her hands across her round belly. “I’ll be more convinced when I’m twenty pounds and a baby lighter.”

“Can I tell you something?” Max continued quietly. “I have never seen you more radiant.”

Tying her robe across her middle, Liz smiled. “Well, we thank you.”

Max took in a deep breath. It was true. She was the most arousing eight-and-a-half-months pregnant woman he’d ever seen. He slowly moved across the cool linoleum and behind her. Resting his lips at the nape of her neck, he slid his hands along her sides and around to her swollen abdomen.

Liz smiled at their reflection in the mirror as she entwined her fingers with his, then rolled her head to the side as he began to place gentle kisses across her neck.

A flutter beneath their hands made their breaths catch in their throats. “It’s absolutely amazing,” Max murmured into her ear. He slowly, gently turned Liz toward him and backed her against the sink. Running his fingers down her belly and over her thighs, he nipped gently at her bottom lip.

Liz grinned against him, deepening the kiss as she wrapped her arms around him. “Max Evans, what is going on in that head of yours?”

“Mmm…which one?” He caressed her thigh with one hand, while the other slowly slid into her robe.

“Max!” Liz swatted his hand away playfully, her face betraying her amusement. Grabbing a wide-toothed comb from the counter, she waddled out of the bathroom.

Max followed hot on her heels, watching as his wife lowered herself onto the edge of the bed and began to run the comb through her damp hair. “Liz…baby, let me…” He climbed onto the bed, swinging his leg behind her so that his thighs flanked hers.

Liz sighed contentedly as she felt his fingers pull her hair from the back of her neck and run the comb through its length. She ran her hands across the top of his bare thighs, letting one trail just under the leg of his boxers.

Shifting behind her, Max pulled her hair to one side so he had easier access to her right ear. “All done,” he breathed.

“Thank you.” She smiled, leaning her head back against his broad shoulder.

His hands quickly moved to her front, deftly untying the robe from her middle. They explored the newly exposed skin, stretched tightly over her impossibly round belly.

Liz arched her back as her husband ran his fingers down her side, and she left a trail of kisses from his ear to his chin.

Max pressed himself against her, his breath quickening as his hands slid up to cup her swollen breasts.

“Oh god,” she gasped against his jaw, her body stiffening momentarily.

“I’m sorry,” Max apologized, quickly removing his hands and circling them around her waist.

Liz smiled, pressing a kiss onto his jaw. “No, it wasn’t you. She got me in the ribs.”

Max placed his hand where the movement was strongest and cocked his head. “Her feet are in a different place.”

She nodded. “She’s been moving. Her head’s way down here now.” Liz guided his hand lower on her abdomen and grimaced. “Right on top of my bladder.”
“Give you mom a break, Peanut,” Max instructed the bulge beneath his hands.

After a moment, Liz grinned. “I don’t think she’s listening to you, Daddy.”

“Daddy,” Max repeated slowly. “That’s still so unreal…” He slid out from behind Liz and knelt down in front of her, resting his elbows on her thighs. Tenderly running his finger in concentric circles around her protruding bellybutton, Max raised his eyes to meet hers.

“Liz Evans, I love you.”

Liz gazed down at him and smiled. “I love you too, Max Evans,” she murmured, running her fingers through his dark hair.

Max leaned forward and pressed a long, gentle kiss onto her stomach. “And we love you, Peanut. We can’t wait to meet you.” He fell silent, resting his cheek against Liz’s warm flesh.

“What are you thinking about?” Liz asked after a few moments, curling a strand of Max’s hair around her finger.

“You. How beautiful you are,” he answered simply, raising his eyes to hers. “I want to take your picture.”

Liz studied him, arching an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”

“I want to remember how you look,” Max explained, fanning his hands out over her belly. “Like this.”

Not sure whether to laugh or cry as she listened to him and saw the pure honesty on his face, Liz felt the latter win out as her eyes filled with tears. “Really?” she whispered.

“Yes.” Max nodded firmly, his hands caressing her. “You don’t know how amazing it is to me, Liz. To know that our baby…this – this little person that we made is inside of you…” He trailed off, shaking his head. “I can’t imagine anything more beautiful.”

Liz stared down at him, wondering if it was possible to love him more than she did at this moment. If it was possible to feel more loved, more special than she did because of him. Because of the part of him that was growing inside of her, giving her so much purpose. She loved this, she realized again. Loved feeling that perfect little person move beneath her skin, feeling her weight and her presence. She would never forget, she knew that. But she smiled down on him, blinking away her tears and cupping his chin in her hand. “I would like that.”

Max returned her smile, slowly getting to his feet and reaching for Liz’s hands. “I’ll get the camera ready,” he said, helping her rise.

And that was how Liz found herself in their baby’s nursery, watching Max as he fiddled with his new camera. She didn’t know what exactly Max had in mind, but he’d found a flimsy yellow nightgown in the drawer and told her to put it on. She obliged, wrapping her robe around herself again before sinking into the old rocking chair and watching Max. He fiddled with the lens, the focus, the flash, before finally turning to her.

A smile spread over his face at the sight of Liz, rocking slowly back and forth with her hands resting against the bulge of her belly. “Perfect,” he murmured, lifting the camera and aiming at her.

Liz looked up in surprise at the sound of the camera snapping. “I wasn’t ready!”

“No, it was perfect,” Max informed her, adjusting the focus.

“What, me sitting here?”

“Yep.” He fiddled with the lens a bit more and raised the camera again. “You look completely natural. That’s what I wanted.”

“Oh.” Liz cocked her head to the side and favored him with a coy grin. “Like this?”

“That’s fine too,” Max smiled, clicking another picture before kneeling down beside the chair. “Here, untie your robe.”

Liz made a face, but opened the robe up to expose her belly. “Tummy shot?”

Max nodded, snapping a picture. “Pull your nightgown up a little,” he suggested.

“Max, I’m not wearing any underwear!”

“Whose problem is that?” Max teased, wiggling his eyebrows before turning serious. “Liz, I won’t shoot anything inappropriate. I promise.”

Liz giggled, lifting the gown up to the top of her belly. “I was gonna say, this is starting to seem not so innocent.”

“Would I do anything like that with a camera from your father?” Max shot back.

“Point taken,” Liz laughed, settling her hands low on her abdomen. “Hey Max? Does the camera have a timer?” she asked suddenly.

“Yeah,” he answered, adjusting the lens.

“I want one with you in it too,” she requested, shrugging out of her robe.

Max watched Liz toss the robe on the floor beside her, tucking her long hair back over her shoulder. Her hair had become even more luxurious these past few months, a result of hormones, Liz said. Whatever the reason, it was thicker and silkier than Max had ever seen, and it was growing faster than Liz could keep it trimmed. He smiled, setting the camera onto the dresser and adjusting the timer before crouching down before Liz.

He spread his hands out over the expanse of belly, resting his forehead against her. He felt her fingers thread into his hair, and a moment later the camera went off. It was going to be a beautiful shot, they both knew it.

“C’mere,” he said then, helping to her feet. “I want to try a shot over by the window.”

Liz watched as he pulled the pale yellow curtains across the window and gestured for her to come stand. “Look, I match,” she announced, smoothing the nightgown over her stomach.

“You do,” Max agreed with a smile, retrieving the camera from the dresser. “Okay…hmm. Turn to the side a little bit. We’ll get a profile shot.”

“Like this?” Liz turned to the side, bracing her hands on the small of her back, and then glanced back at Max with a grin.

Max chuckled. “Just like that,” he confirmed, snapping several pictures.

Feeling a familiar thump, Liz pushed her nightgown up and settled a hand low on her belly. “Daddy’s taking your picture,” she said softly. “Smile pretty for the camera.”

Max simply gazed at his wife in adoration for a few moments before realizing he had to get that image on film. He quickly raised the camera without saying a word, as to not disturb this perfect moment. He wanted to remember it for always.


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*****

Look, it's the picture Max took! Does this not look exactly like her? I found it on a photography website for class, and I was completely blown away by how much it looked like her, so I had to incorporate it somehow.

Oh yeah, and the song that Max sings in this part is called For You, and it's by Duncan Sheik. He's fabulous!



[ edited 4 time(s), last at 29-Oct-2002 10:20:10 PM ]
posted on 29-Oct-2002 10:02:37 PM by McGees
Wow, I am completely shocked right now. Apparently this story is a finalist for a Roswellian Fanfic Choice Award over at RosDeidre's board! I had no idea it had even been nominated, since I've only been there to read Deidre's stories...but I wanted to thank those of you who nominated it. I've never been a finalist before! If you're interested in voting by November 8, you can do so here:

http://pub14.bravenet.com/vote/vote.php?usernum=1172728268

Thanks again, guys, it's an honor!

In fact, I was so happy that I decided to update the first part of the next chapter. More to come soon!

Oh yeah, one more thing. I'm going to get the picture from the last part reposted ASAP. The server for the online album I usually use is down, but when it's back up I'll post it again. And I also added a fanart that It Was You made a while ago on page 48. I thought it fit the honeymoon part quite well. *big*

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51a

“Somebody’s on a mission.”

Liz giggled, following Maria’s gaze toward the front of the Crashdown. Isabel had walked in moments before, Evan on her hip and a look of determination on her face.

“How much do you want to bet she’s looking for-“

“Where’s Michael?”

Maria slid Liz a knowing look before answering, “His shift ended a couple hours ago.”

Isabel exhaled impatiently. “He told me he was here till five.”

“More like two.”

Muttering something under her breath, she shifted Evan and hiked her purse up over her shoulder. “He borrowed Jesse’s clubs for his golfing class, and Jesse needs them for tomorrow. Some office golf match.”

“I still can’t believe he gets college credit for taking a golf class,” Maria muttered. “Why doesn’t he just take a freakin basket weaving course?”

Isabel rolled her eyes. “So he didn’t leave the clubs in the back?”

“Nope, not that I saw,” Liz answered, returning her nephew’s grin.

“Fantastic. Okay, buddy, it looks like we get to take a trip to Uncle Michael’s,” Isabel informed her son in exasperation. She turned back to Liz and flashed her a quick smile. “Oh, and happy anniversary. Do you two have big plans for the night?”

Liz smiled coyly. “I guess.”

“Well, have fun. We’re off to hunt down Michael. Say bye-bye, Evan.”

Evan curled and uncurled his chubby fingers in the universal “bye-bye” wave as Isabel hurried back out the door.

Maria watched them retreat with a chuckle and then turned back to Liz. “So spill, chica. Where’s he taking you?”

“I don’t know, I was kind of hoping you’d tell me.” Liz leaned back in the booth, her feet propped up on the seat across from her. “He’s been awfully secretive about it.”

Maria took a sip of soda. “I think it’s romantic. I mean, it’s your first anniversary, why not make it a surprise?”

“True.” Liz absently twisted her wedding ring around her finger. It was much tighter now, as her hands were slightly swollen these days. “But first we have a doctor appointment, so maybe I can break him then.”

“Well we’re a little impatient, aren’t we,” Maria laughed, twirling her straw in her glass.

“Hey, I think I’m being quite patient!” Liz shot back, her hand rubbing over her belly. “Of course, I don’t know how long that’ll last.”

Reaching over to pat Liz’s hand, Maria grinned. “You’ve got, what, less than four weeks? You could pop any time, you know.”

Liz giggled. “Oh, don’t tell Max that. He’s excited, hut he’s so nervous. As much as he wants her to be here, he thinks she’s safer in here.” Liz didn’t say it out loud, but she was thrilled by that, thrilled that she could keep her daughter protected. Part of her still ached for Gabriel, and that part of her still felt like a failure. She knew it wasn’t her fault, but the fact that she’d lost the baby, hadn’t any control over what happened to him, still tore at her heart.

The baby gave a reassuring thump, almost as if she could sense Liz’s thoughts. And maybe she could. The connection seemed to know no bounds, but Liz knew she would miss the physical closeness with her daughter when she was born.

“Alright, I better get back to work,” Maria was saying as she slid out from the booth. “Is Max picking you up soon?”

Liz glanced at her watch. “Yep. His shift ended five minutes ago.” As if on cue, the bell above the door jingled and Max strode in. She caught his eye and grinned, pushing herself up from the booth.

“Hey you,” Max smiled, his hand resting in the small of her back as he leaned in for a kiss. “Are you ready?”

Nodding, Liz draped her purse over her shoulder. “Maria, when you see my dad tell him I got those figures ready, okay?”

“No problem, chica. Have a good time tonight,” she added with a wiggle of her eyebrows.

Liz and Max shared a lovesick grin as Max looped his arm around his wife’s waist and led her out the door.

*****

Dr. Sinclair stepped into the exam room, smiling when he saw his patient. Liz Evans sat on the exam table, legs swinging beneath the paper gown. And, as always, her husband Max was in position in a plastic chair beside her. Their heads were bent in soft laughter as they spoke, hands entwined over Liz’s knee.

Never before had he seen a couple so completely involved in one another. Not just in presence – after all, Max had not missed one appointment in the past eight months. No, it was more than that. In all his years as a physician, he had never seen a couple, especially one as young as they were, so completely connected. He could literally see them converse without speaking; they were better at communicating with their eyes than he and his wife were, even after twenty two years of marriage. But in all honesty, it was even more than that, something that wasn’t completely tangible. Their connection as husband and wife seemed to go even deeper.

He chuckled to himself then, wondering how things would be during the delivery. Childbirth could turn even the most intimate of couples into exhausted, cranky and irritated parents-to-be.

Suddenly noticing another person in the room, Liz glanced up. “Dr. Sinclair, hi,” she said cheerfully.

“Liz, Max,” Dr. Sinclair nodded in greeting. “How have you been feeling, Liz?”

“Great,” Liz answered assuredly. “The baby is still pretty active, and I haven’t experience any Braxton-Hicks.” Thank goodness, for Max's sake, she thought.

Dr. Sinclair nodded, consulting his chart. “Very good. Within the next few weeks you’ll notice her movement decreasing, but it’s nothing to be concerned about. The uterus gets extremely cramped in the last month of pregnancy, so she doesn’t have much space to move around.”

Max thought about this as Liz lay back on the table for her exam. He’d already noticed that the baby seemed to sleep an awful lot more these days. He knew this was good, that it meant she was getting ready to be born, but he couldn’t help missing some of the moments they used to share. He would wake up early and scoot down the bed to Liz’s belly, knowing that the baby was always active first thing in the morning. He’d talk and sing softly to her, feeling her press against his hand. Max knew, though, that even though this stage of their relationship was coming to an end, it was really just the beginning. In just a few weeks his daughter would be alive and whole and in his arms, and his heart filled to bursting with excitement.

“Well, Liz, you haven’t started dilating yet,” Dr. Sinclair was saying as he slipped off his latex gloves and draped the sheet back over her knees. “That may change by the next appointment.”

“But it’s in a week,” Max pointed out. “Is it okay for that to start so soon even though the baby isn’t due for three and a half weeks?”

“It sure is,” Dr. Sinclair assured. “It’s actually quite normal.” He placed his hands on the swell of Liz’s belly, measuring. “I would guess the baby is at about five and a half or six pounds right now. We don’t want her to get much more than eight or so, or else Liz could have a difficult time delivering.”

Max swallowed hard. A difficult time?

“Because she’s petite and has a narrow pelvis,” Dr. Sinclair supplied. “Again, it’s nothing to worry about right now. There’s a possibility that if the baby gets much bigger in the next few weeks we’d have to schedule a cesarean.”

Liz glanced up at Max, squeezing his hand. She didn’t want him to be alarmed, but she couldn’t help feeling a bit anxious herself. She wanted to have this baby naturally, especially with the possibilities of alien complications. They’d seriously considered a home delivery after the scare at Evan’s birth, and had even brought it up to Serena. Serena, however, assured them that she would be in the delivery room by their sides and was well aware of their concerns, but with Liz’s size it would actually be much safer for both her and the baby to be at the hospital. She wasn’t a certified midwife, and thought being in hospital setting would be better. Max and Liz had agreed, knowing there really was no easy way to go about it.

“Let’s take a look at her, shall we?” Dr. Sinclair was saying, wheeling the ultrasound monitor to the exam table.

Liz sent Max a reassuring smile, her touch urging him to focus on the present rather than worry about the future. Max returned her smile, and it widened into a beam at the sound of the child’s heartbeat. Moments later a fuzzy black and white image appeared on the screen and Max and Liz studied their baby’s changes intently.

“Look how big she’s gotten,” Max marveled, his fingers entwining with Liz’s.

“Why do you think I’ve gotten so big?” Liz giggled, watching their daughter’s small movements on the screen. “Look! She just turned her head!”

Dr. Sinclair chuckled. “She’s looking at us,” he said, reaching over to point to the screen. “There’s her jaw line, and there’s the outline of one ear…”

“Max, they look just like yours,” Liz said with a teasing grin.

“Poor kid,” Max muttered good-naturedly. He wasn’t concerned. They knew what their daughter would eventually look like from their visions, and she was beautiful. His ears or not.

*****

“Hold on, I’m coming,” Michael muttered, loping across the apartment to his front door. He pulled it open to find Isabel and Evan on the other side.

“So which is it, two or five?”

“Excuse me?” Michael stared at Isabel in bewilderment.

“That your shift ends. Two or five?”

“Oh.” Michael shrugged sheepishly. “Two. Sorry.”

Isabel rolled her eyes, stepping past Michael into the apartment. She wrinkled her nose, stepping over some dirty clothes strewn across the floor. “This place is a pigsty, Michael.”

“Was there a reason for this visit?” Michael asked pointedly.

“The golf clubs,” Isabel reminded, following Michael into the living room.

“Oh yeah. Sorry about that. I’ve got a paper due tomorrow and I’m a little distracted.” He gestured to a stack of books and a pile of papers collecting near his laptop on the coffee table. “Would you mind looking over what I’ve got so far? I hate to ask, but…” And it was true, he really did hate to ask. But his grade in this lit class was more important than his pride right now.

“I never thought I’d see the day that Michael Guerin would take summer classes,” Isabel mused, settling Evan onto a clear patch of floor before settling in front of the laptop and scrolling through his work.

“It’s about Mark Twain,” Michael supplied. “And how his work was banned and…stuff…”

Isabel nodded thoughtfully. “It’s pretty good so far,” she admitted. “You could probably include
more about Huckleberry – Evan, honey, come over here.” She glanced over to her son, who had crawled over and pulled himself to a standing position near one of Michael’s end tables.

Evan merely grinned at his mother, losing his balance and plopping onto his bottom. His attention turned back to the object in his hand, which just fascinated him.

“Evan, what have you got?” Isabel quickly got to her feet, still shaken by his choking incident, and crouched down to take it away from him. “What is…” She trailed off, studying the flat, shiny object in her hand. “Michael, what the hell is this?”







[ edited 2 time(s), last at 29-Oct-2002 10:24:51 PM ]
posted on 10-Nov-2002 9:48:04 PM by McGees
I'm so excited to see new readers! Especially so close to the end, it's so nice to know that people are willing to give it a try.

Well, it's their anniversary, and I thought Max and Liz deserved some good old fashioned lovin before the baby arrives. Hope you like!

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52

“What is this?” Isabel repeated, holding up the strange object for Michael to see.

His face paled slightly, but rather than answer he reached to snatch it out of her hand. “You shouldn’t let your kid crawl around and get into things.”

“You’re right, I must have momentarily forgotten that this pit is a hazardous waste area!” Isabel shot back with equal venom. She unclenched her hand, feeling the material unfurl to its original smoothness. Glancing down at her palm, she studied it more closely. “What is this?” It was more of a rhetorical question, as she fingered the object in curiosity.

Michael took a deep breath. “I think it’s something alien,” he said finally.

“Something alien.” Isabel cocked an eyebrow. “Where did you find it?”

“Up at the Grand Canyon. There’s something up there, Iz, I know it. That rock formation I found on the map, it-“

“Michael that was two years ago,” Isabel pointed out. “How come you never mentioned this?”

He sank back onto the couch. “Because Maria found it. I didn’t even know about it until a few months ago.”

Isabel sat down beside Michael and lifted Evan onto her lap. “And what did Max say about it?”

“He doesn’t know it exists. Maria wouldn’t let me tell him, because of the baby and stuff.”

“It’s probably nothing, you know.”

Michael looked at Isabel, only a little surprised. Of course that’s what she’d want to think. “I think it’s alien,” he repeated.

“And what if it is?” she shot back. “What do we want to do, connect with them? Figure out how to get to Antar? Get ourselves killed on arrival by traitors? Michael, I don’t care what it is. My life is here now. Completely.” She leaned down and kissed the top of Evan’s head, reassuring him after her outburst.

“I – I know,” Michael answered quietly. His was too, of course. But that wasn’t the point-

Or maybe it was.

Maria’s words from two years before came flooding back to him. "Why can’t this world ever be good enough for you?” Without even realizing it, he was hurting her again.

“Look, whatever it is, it’s probably not the best idea to just leave this on your table,” Isabel continued, holding out her hand and dropping the shiny object into Michael’s palm. “Put it away somewhere and let it go, okay?”

Michael sighed, looking up into Isabel’s eyes. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Of course I am,” she replied. “Look, Michael, what Max said months ago, about embracing his human side…he meant it. And he was right.”

“But that doesn’t mean we have to forget about our alien side,” Michael argued, making his point by turning on a lamp with his powers.

“No…it doesn’t,” Isabel agreed. “It’s part of who we are, but it doesn’t have to control our lives.” She paused, brushing her son’s wispy hair off his forehead. “I won’t let it.”

And neither would Max. Isabel was right, and they both knew it.

“So we…what, we just forget we ever found it?” Michael asked.

“You know what, Michael, you can do whatever you want with it,” Isabel informed him. “Just leave me out of it.”

*****

“Babe, are you almost ready?”

“Almost!” Liz called back, smoothing her skirt as she paused beside the dresser. “Let me just get my-“ She trailed off, glancing out the window at the street below. “Hey Max? Did you move the car?”

“Nope,” he called from the living room.

“What the…” Okay, she must really be losing her mind. She knew Max had parked the Chevelle right in front of the building when they got home to change. And now there was…well, no blue Chevelle. “Um, Max? I think there’s a problem…”

Max appeared in the doorway, looking incredibly sexy in a pale blue linen button-up shirt and loose-fitting khakis. “What’s the matter?”

Liz peered through the blinds again, convincing herself that she wasn’t seeing things. “Um…the car is gone.”

“The car is gone?” Max repeated, squinting out the window. “What the hell? Come here.” He took Liz’s hand, pulling her out of the bedroom, down the hall, and out the door.

The stepped out of the apartment, both looking around in confusion. “Wait a second. What’s this?” Max reached into his pocket, pulling out a key and an unlocking device. He clicked it, and the horn of a silver car down the curb beeped once.

“Max, what-“

And then the Chevelle appeared around the corner, driven by…Jim Valenti?

“Howdy, kids!”

“Hey Jim,” Max grinned. “How’s she running for you?”

“Like a gem,” Valenti confirmed, resting his arm on the window. “Liz, how’re you feeling?”

“A little confused,” Liz admitted, glancing at her husband pointedly.

Max took Liz’s hand, placing the key in it and closing her fingers around it. “Happy anniversary, babe.”

Liz gaped at him and then turned to Valenti for help.

“I love my new car,” he told her, patting the dashboard. “What do you think of yours, Liz?”

“I didn’t know I-“ She turned back to Max, who was grinning like an idiot. “Are you serious?”

“Completely,” he told her, guiding her to the curb. “We couldn’t very well drive around in a convertible with a baby.”

Liz clapped her hand over her mouth in total surprise as Max opened the door. “It’s a ’98 Taurus,” he told her, “It’s never had any trouble, and look. It’s got four doors and a big trunk for a stroller and stuff,” he added, clearly very pleased with himself.

“Max, can we afford this?” Liz asked, her voice hushed as Max tried to show her some of the car’s features.

“I’ve always been jealous of this car,” Jim supplied, indicating the Chevelle. “So I figured, why not take it off your hands so you could get a kid-friendly one?”

“Are you sure?” Liz asked softly, gazing up at her husband. “You love that car, Max…”

“I love you more,” he answered simply, resting his hands against the sides of her belly. “Do you like it?”

“Of course I do,” Liz laughed, leaning in and kissing him. “It’s perfect.”

Jim gave a little toot of the horn, startling the couple apart. “Well, I guess I’ll be going now,” he chuckled. “You kids have a good night.”

“Thanks, Jim,” Max waved, wrapping his arm around Liz. “Okay, Mrs. Evans, are you ready to go?”

“Well…” They both glanced down at her bare feet. “A few more minutes,” she giggled as they turned to go back to the apartment.

*****

Later, as Max and Liz finished their meal at an intimate back table at Chez Pierre, Max handed his wife a fortune cookie. “You first.”

Liz grinned at him, her eyes sparkling in the faint candlelight. She loved that he took her to the spot of their first date for their first anniversary. “This is one of the best nights of your life,” she read.

Max shook his head, the smile on his face widening. “I think I’ve heard that one before.” He paused as the opening bars to a familiar Eric Clapton tune wafted from the jukebox speakers. Grinning at his wife, Max reached across the table to take her hand. “Dance with me.”

“You didn’t read your fortune yet,” she reminded.

“Don’t have to,” he informed her, pushing his chair back.

“Max, no,” Liz protested, unable to hide a smile. “I don’t want to go out there and dance, I’m huge.”

“You're beautiful," Max corrected. "And besides, it's tradition," he added, already helping her to her feet. Before she could give further protest he had led her onto the floor.

And then she asks me, do I look alright?
And I say yes, you look wonderful tonight


Max took her in his arms, swaying them back and forth. Her belly prevented their bodies from being as close as he would have liked, but it was easily forgiven considering it was their daughter that filled the space between them.

And then she asks me, do you feel alright?
And I say yes, I feel wonderful tonight


“Happy anniversary, Mr. Evans.” Liz gazed up into his adoringly.

Max dipped down to capture her lips in a sweet kiss. “Happy anniversary, Mrs. Evans.” He felt a sudden thump against his hip, and looked at Liz in surprise.

She just smiled and shrugged. “She likes to dance.”

I feel wonderful because I see
The love light in your eyes


Max moved his hands to the sides of her round tummy. “We didn’t forget about you, Peanut,” he assured. “We’ll dance all the time when you get here.”

He was answered with two faint ripples to the palm of his hand, and he grinned up at Liz. “I guess she likes the sound of that.”

Liz smiled in return, taking his face in her small hands and kissing him long and deep.

And the wonder of it all is that you just don’t realize
How much I love you


“Take me home, Max.”

“Are you feeling okay?” he asked, staring down at her with sudden anxiousness. “Do you need to sit down? It’s not the baby, is-“

“Max?” Liz gazed up at him with a coy, flirtatious smile. “I want you to make love to me. Just like our wedding night. And I don’t think I’m in any condition to christen our new car just yet.”

“You…” Max trailed off, his heart beginning to pound. “Is it okay? I mean, with the baby-“

“Yes, Max,” she nodded, her hands beginning to wander low on his hips. “It’s completely fine for couples to have sex into the ninth month, Serena said so.”

Max swallowed hard as Liz began nipping lightly at his neck. “But I read somewhere…that it can start…labor,” he managed. “And it’s too early for…”

“Trust me, Max,” Liz grinned, “You won’t make me go into labor tonight. You’ll just…make me feel good. And I’ll make you feel good.” She paused, rubbing almost undetectably against him. “Don’t you want to feel good?”

“Yes,” he groaned, his hands tight on her hips as he pressed a little closer and stole a quick kiss. “I’ll get the check.”

*****

Maria pushed through the swinging door of the Crashdown with a groan. These ten hour shifts were the bane of her existence. She turned toward the kitchen and nearly dropped her tray of dishes.

“Jesus, Michael, you’re gonna give me a heart attack!” she yelped, shoving him out of the way. “Didn’t your shift end, like, five hours ago?”

“Yeah,” he answered simply, hands shoved in his pockets. “I gotta talk to you.”

“Well make it quick, I’ve got a guy waiting for Orbit Rings out there and it’s about to get ugly,” she replied, dumping the dirty dishes onto the counter and wiping her hands on her apron.

Michael jerked his head toward the back room, leading her away from the cook and other waitresses. “It’s about that…that thing you found up at the canyon.”

“Michael, don’t tell me you bothered Max about it today, it’s their-“

“I’m not gonna bother him about it at all.”

Maria eyed him suspiciously. “You’re not.”

“No. I’ve decided I’ve been making too big a deal out of it, and I’m going to leave it alone.”

“You are.”

"Yes," he repeated, and then sighed. “I thought that would make you happy.”

“Well it does,” Maria answered, chewing her lower lip. “But what caused this sudden decision?”

Michael shrugged. “I don’t know, I was just thinking…” He trailed off. “Okay, Isabel found it and reminded me how stupid it is to be chasing after this stuff. My life is here, you know?”

“I could have told you that,” Maria muttered, poking at a corner of tile with the toe of her sneaker.

“And you did,” Michael replied, reaching out and touching her arm. “Only…it takes a while to get stuff into my brain sometimes-“

“Tell me about it.”

“It’s not an excuse or anything, it just…okay, I guess it is. But…I wanted to come down here and apologize for being like – like that again. It’s not fair to you.”

Maria gazed up at him. “No, it’s not. But it’s not fair to you either. You’re just running yourself in circles, Michael. Let it go. Let it be. All that stuff.”

He smiled in spite of himself. She was right, as usual. Not like he’d tell her that. “You’re the best, Blondie,” he informed her instead, pulling her into a tight hug.

Maria grinned as his arms engulfed her. “Yeah, I know.”

*****

A telling trail of clothing led all the way down the hall to the bedroom, the only sounds soft giggles and the creak of the bed as Max carefully lay Liz onto their bed. She had lost her blouse almost the instant they entered the apartment, with Max’s shirt and khakis following just behind.

She leaned back, propped up on her elbows as Max eased her skirt down over the bulge of her belly. His fingers skimmed her smooth skin as he pulled it down her legs, leaving her in a pair of bikini underwear. The sheer fabric rested low on her abdomen, covering just her most intimate of places. Max knelt on the bed before her, his hands caressing her slim legs and traveling up over the curve of her hips. He ran his hands over the smooth, firm globe of belly before he lowered his lips to her skin. He kissed and tasted her, sending shivers down her spine as his lips followed the faint line from her navel down to her pubic bone.

“Oh…Max,” Liz breathed as his fingers hooked through her panties. He helped her lift her hips so he could pull them from her body, and then he settled himself back between his wife’s thighs. She could feel his warm breath puffing against her sensitive folds, and she squirmed in anticipation.

“My beautiful Liz,” he murmured, his fingers skimming the soft skin at the juncture of her thigh. “My beautiful, beautiful bride.” Nuzzling his nose against her, he slowly began parting her intimate flesh.

“Yes…” she hissed, the air escaping her lungs as Max’s wet tongue snaked out to touch her. “Ohh yes…”

His tongue dipped in and out, pausing to add just a touch of pressure to her sensitized clit. The combination of penetration and stimulation sent Liz to the edge in just minutes, until she was writhing against his mouth and crying out in release.

As he sucked her clit hard into his mouth one last time, he felt her final spasms against him and continued to lap gently until her quivering flesh began to cool. Feeling her fingers brush through his hair, he pressed one last kiss against her before resting his head on the inside of her thigh and gazing up at her.

“That was…so good,” she breathed, again propped on her elbows to gaze down at him over the curve of her belly.

“I’m glad,” Max said with a lazy grin, grazing his tongue over his lips. He sat back on his knees then, his prominent manhood springing into the air.

“Ooh,” Liz cooed, her desire boiling back to life at the sight of Max’s growing arousal. She reached for him, stretching her hand out to touch him, but couldn’t quite reach due to her swollen middle. “Damn,” she muttered.

“What’s the matter, baby?” he teased as he planted his hands on his hips, causing his lower anatomy to jut upward.

“I can’t…I can’t reach you,” Liz pouted after another failed attempt to wrap her hand around him. She leaned back on her elbows with a deep sigh, and suddenly a sparkle appeared in those big brown eyes.

“What?” Max asked suspiciously.

“Touch yourself.”

Max studied his wife, her sweet grin telling him exactly what she wanted. “Touch myself?”

“Uh-huh. Get yourself ready for me…”

He swallowed, already feeling a tightening in his groin. “Like this?” he asked, pumping himself once.

Liz nodded excitedly. “Just like that.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to help?” Max glanced down at her as he started a slow, steady rhythm.

“I’ll just watch,” Liz assured, licking her lips as Max’s large hand moved up and down over his thick shaft. “Do you know how sexy you are?”

Max offered her a smile from under hooded lids as he reached down to cup his heavy sac. “How sexy?”

“So sexy that I want to touch myself,” Liz whispered, her hand snaking down over her belly to the patch of curls between her legs. “And see how wet you’re making me.”

Max growled low in his throat as Liz rubbed first one, then two fingers between her dewy lips. He’d seen her touch herself many times, but every time she did it made him horny as hell. He tightened his fist around his swelling shaft, pumping with firm, swift strokes.

“Oh god, Max,” she moaned, her eyes drifting shut. “I’m so wet. Just for you. Are you hard for me?”

“Yes,” he managed, his voice strangled as he watched her fingers emerge. They were shiny, wet with her juices, and Max knew he couldn’t wait much longer. His hand wouldn’t cut it, it never did, not after knowing her hot, tight passage. And now…god, it was right in front of him, just tantalizing inches from his aching erection.

“I’m so wet, Max,” Liz continued, her voice breathy as she slipped a finger back inside. “Do you like it when I’m slick and wet?”

“Y-yes,” he gasped, rubbing his thumb over the pearly drop of moisture on the head of his penis. “I do.”

Liz slid her moist finger up to her clit, rubbing in a fluid circle. “What does it feel like, Max, when you’re inside me?”

Max slid his glazed eyes from her center to her face, meeting her eyes for a moment as he continued to pump shamelessly. “Perfect,” he breathed. “It feels tight and hot and the…the friction…it’s perfect, Liz.” God, how was she doing this? He was so close…

“Fuck me, Max.”

And with those three words he plunged into her, his hands grasping the backs of her thighs so her body could meet his thrusts. His hips moved in a frenzy, pounding in and out of her with such force that a voice in the back of his head was screaming at him to stop.

But Liz met each thrust with vigor, her keening moans of pleasure echoing in his ears and driving him on. She was so hot and wet…so tight…

“Liz! Liz, oh god!” He was out of control, so close…he couldn’t stop…couldn’t stop until they both…but he couldn’t hold on much longer…

“Max!” she shrieked, her orgasm slamming into her just when he thought he would explode from the mind-bending pleasure. And he did, releasing wave upon wave into her throbbing passage.

Max’s head dropped down onto his chest as he sucked in gasps of air, waiting for his body to stop pulsing. After a few moments he moved from her body and flopped onto his back beside her, still panting heavily.

“Hey,” she murmured, turning her glistening face to his.

“Are you okay?” he asked quietly.

Liz nodded, delicious shivers running down her spine. She was fantastic. That was exactly what she wanted. She wanted him to forget her “condition” and make crazy, mindless love to her. All it took was a little distraction. And her grin broadened.

“What?” he pressed. “You’re not…you’re not in labor or anything, are you?”

She reached up and ran a finger down his flushed cheek. “Don’t worry, you didn’t break my water.”

“I hadn’t thought about that,” he gulped.

“Max!” she giggled. “Come on. Wasn’t that incredible?”

He nodded vigorously. Of course it was, but…what if he’d hurt her? What if-

“Stop,” Liz said. “That was my point. You’re not going to hurt me. I – I needed this. We’ve had so much going on lately, with the baby coming…who knows when we’ll get a chance to be like this again? And it’s our anniversary, Max. Look how much we’ve changed in a year…how much more comfortable we are?”

Max managed a sly smile, seeing her point. “It’s probably because you just keep getting sexier,” he informed her, rolling onto his side and running his hand from her belly up to her chest.

Liz grinned as he caressed her full breast. “Is that so?”

“Every day,” he sighed, leaning over to share a sweet kiss. “Happy anniversary, love.”




[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Nov-2002 11:38:01 PM ]
posted on 15-Nov-2002 5:49:31 PM by McGees
Well, this part isn't especially long, but I wanted to get it up before I leave for the weekend. Hehe, me and Robyn, Amanda, Sarah & Jody are having a Roswell Weekend! There's sure to be lots of dreamer and JB goodliness. *tongue*
Anyway, this part is kind of filler before we introduce a...new character. *big* More to come soon.

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banner by It Was You

53

“Where’s your shadow?”

Liz rolled her eyes, waddling past Maria at the Crashdown’s counter. “At work, thank you very much.”

“You mean he’s actually letting you out of his sight for a few hours to earn a living?” Maria asked in mock horror. “Are you sure he hasn’t been possessed by aliens?”

Swatting her best friend’s arm, Liz giggled. “If it was up to him I’d be in bed resting. With the phone right beside me, of course, in case I go into labor.”

“Of course,” Maria chuckled knowingly. She reached down and patted Liz’s bulging belly. “No chance of that today though, right?”

Liz shook her head confidently. “We already discussed the fact that this is her cousin’s day. She’s supposed to wait another two weeks.” She paused, rubbing her sore back. Max had relieved her aches before he left for work, but they were slowly fading back. Liz know it just came with the territory of being so close to giving birth, but she also knew it made Max feel useful when he could ease her discomfort. In any case, she was willing to fudge on those two weeks. One week would be perfectly fine with her. Ten days, even.

“Well, your dad’s letting us all off at three so we can make it to the party,” Maria was saying as she fiddled with the shake machine.

“Okay, that’s gr-“ Liz was cut off by the sound of the telephone.

Maria gave her a knowing look, lifting the receiver and handing it to Liz without answering.

“Hi, Max.”

“How’d you know it was me?”

Liz smirked. “It’s 11:02, Max. Of course it’s you, making sure I got to work okay.” She was met with silence, and she giggled. “Am I right or am I right?”

“Smart ass,” Max muttered, his smile evident even through the phone.

“To answer your question, I made it work just fine and I am not, in fact, in labor,” Liz continued.

“You’re a little spitfire today, aren’t you?”

“Comes with being the mother of Max Evans’ children,” she answered breezily. “Now, if there are no further questions, I’m going to get to work. And I suggest you do the same, mister.”

“Okay, okay,” Max sighed. “But if you need anything, I’m right across the street-“

“Goodbye, Max.”

Max smiled again as he hung up the phone. He knew Liz felt a little crowded, but he couldn’t help it. Technically, the baby could arrive any day now. It was still a bit too early for his liking, especially since Dr. Sinclair said he weight was a little on the low side. This, of course, virtually guaranteed a natural delivery, and that made both Max and Liz relieved. But with each day that came and went, he was closer to being a father. With an actual baby. And it was kind of scaring the shit out of him.

“How’s Liz?” Brody asked knowingly, poking his head into the office.

“She’s fine,” Max answered, turning from the desk with his sheepish smile. “I think she’s getting a little annoyed with me.”

“Probably,” Brody agreed. “But it’s your first baby, you’re entitled-“ He cut himself off, realizing what he said. “I’m sorry, that wasn’t very-“

“It’s okay,” Max assured. “I know what you meant.” And he did. Obviously, he and Liz still thought about their first child. Gabriel. Just the other day, Max found Liz sitting on their bed, just staring at the painting on the wall.

“He would be fifteen months old now,” she’d said, noticing him in the doorway. “Running all over the place, getting into things…”

Max had nodded, stepping over to his wife and sinking down beside her. “We’d be chasing him everywhere,” he chuckled.

"You would be,” Liz corrected with a smile, rubbing her hand over her round stomach. She glanced up at him then, their eyes meeting instantaneously.

Max reached over, placing his hand over hers and linking their fingers. They both knew what neither had spoken aloud – this little girl, their daughter…she wouldn’t be. It was a strange thought, to know that this little person they’d already grown to know wouldn’t be in their lives. They’d never imagined that so much hope would eventually stem from so much pain.

Shaking his head in wonder, Max turned his attention back to Brody in the present. “I should get back to work.”

Brody nodded slowly. “Some moron switched around the dates on the magnetic timeline,” he sighed. “Could you-“

“I’m on it,” Max answered. He had a feeling these next few weeks would be full of mindless little tasks – anything to keep him busy until show time.

*****

“There’s the birthday boy!” Kyle crowed, spotting Evan across the backyard in Isabel’s arms.

The little boy immediately turned to his “Uncle” Kyle, raising his arms to him with a bright grin.

"Now it’s a party,” Isabel smiled, passing her son to Kyle. She turned to Serena and Jaycee and said warmly, “I’m glad you could make it.”

Jaycee nodded, holding up a brightly wrapped gift. “Can I give this to Evan now?”

“Actually, there’s a stack over there for gifts,” she said, gesturing across her parents’s yard, where a pile of gifts was gathering on the patio. “I don’t think Evan knows they’re for him. Or even what’s going on, for that matter,” she added with a wink.

Serena returned her smile, surprised to see how laid back Isabel appeared to be. She’d heard horror stories from Kyle about Isabel’s tyrannical grip when organizing just about any event, but she had yet to see the “Nazi” rear her head. Maybe motherhood calmed her, she thought with a chuckle.

“Well,” she spoke up to her daughter, “Let’s drop it off with the other gifts, okay?” As she led Jaycee across the yard, one hand guiding her shoulder, she couldn’t help recalling Evan’s birth one year before. And the eerie similarity with Jaycee’s.

“Serena! Hi!”

Serena snapped from her thoughts, seeing Liz relaxing in a patio chair with a tall lemonade. “Hey yourself,” she smiled. “How are you feeling?”

“That’s the question of the day,” Liz answered with a good-natured roll of her eyes. “I think everyone’s expecting a repeat performance of one year ago, but there won’t be any babies born today.”

Serena laughed. “Point taken.”

“You’re awfully strong, Jaycee,” Liz noted, watching as the little girl hefted the box onto the table of gifts.

Jaycee nodded proudly. “These Duplo blocks are heavy.” She paused, her eyes widening as she realized she gave the secret away. “Oops…”

Liz giggled. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell.”

Max appeared at the screen door ten, a plate of food for Liz in his hand, and he paused. He watched his beautiful wife converse so easily with the child, and was again reminded what an amazing mother she would be. Liz, she just had this way with people. When she talked to you it was like you were the only person in the whole world. Their daughter was lucky. Hell, he was lucky.

“Are you going to give your wife her food or just stand there gawking at her all day?” Jesse teased from behind him.

Turning with a sheepish grin, Max said, “Was it that obvious I was staring?”

Jesse nodded emphatically. “But I’m guilty of the same thing with my own wife.”

Max studied him for a moment, realizing he no longer felt at all uncomfortable when Jesse talked about his sister. He was growing up. And just in time, he supposed!

“So any time now, huh?” Jesse continued, nodding in Liz’s direction. “I understand why you’re watching her like a hawk. I was the same way, but…” he shrugged, chuckling. “What can I say, Evan’s like his mother. He’s got a mind of his own.”

Max laughed, but now he fully understood why it was so hard for Jesse to leave Isabel just before Evan was born. Nothing on this earth – or any other, for that matter – would tear him from Liz. It was hard enough just going to work during the day!

Kyle approached then, with Evan in one arm and the other holding Jaycee’s hand. “We’re getting some food. I’ll let you take your kid back,” he winked, passing the little boy to Jesse.

“Hey big guy,” Jesse grinned, lifting his son into the air. “How do you like your party?”

His nephew really was a perfect blend of Isabel and Jesse, Max noted then as he watched Evan giggle. Jesse’s eyes and strong jaw line offset his fairer hair and complexion from Isabel. Max was again reminded of his daughter, how she would be such a perfect mini Max-and-Liz.

“You’ve got that look again,” Jesse noted, settling Evan on his hip.

“Just thinking,” Max said with a smile, watching his nephew inspect the plate in his hand. “Are you hungry, Evan? Here.” He took great care in breaking a bite of watermelon – seedless, of course – from the slice and offering it to the little boy.

Liz watched this from the other side of the patio, her heart swelling with love for her husband. He was going to make such an amazing father. Just seeing his smile, his gentle laughter at the face Evan made because of the juicy fruit, the way he wiped at his chin with his thumb…he was wonderful.

Max glanced up then, his eye catching Liz’s. He grinned at the sight of her ducking her head, caught in the act of watching him. So he wasn’t the only guilty one…

Excusing himself, he crossed the deck and crouched beside Liz’s chair. “Hey beautiful.”

“Hey,” Liz smiled, catching sight of his plate. “What’d you bring me?”

“Lots of good stuff,” Max informed her, plucking a plump strawberry between his fingers. “Open up.”

Liz complied, taking a bite from the sweet fruit he offered her. “This baby is going to be addicted to strawberries, you know,” she laughed.

“She’ll have to fight us for them,” he grinned, leaning up to kiss the sticky sweet juice from her lips.

“So competitive,” Liz scolded teasingly. “It’s your fault for feeding them to me all the time in the first place.”

“I can’t help it.” Max nipped at her lower lip. “I’m addicted.”

posted on 22-Nov-2002 5:06:53 PM by McGees
Well, we're getting close. Peanut is just about to make her debut - any guesses as to her name? *tongue*

I'm planning on three to four new parts after this, depending on interest and feedback. We'll see what happens. As promised, the sequel will start when my other story is finished. So please let me know what you think, I appreciate your thoughts!


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54

“Liz? Lizzie?”

Suddenly aware of someone speaking her name, Liz’s eyes fluttered open. She gazed up from where she sat slumped on the couch in the back room of the Crashdown to see her mother studying her.

“Are you okay, honey?”

“Yeah, Mom, I’m fine,” Liz answered, yawning and straightening a little. “I was only going to sit for a few minutes and I guess I ended up dozing off.”

“That’s alright,” Nancy assured, sitting down beside her daughter. “Liz, why don’t you call it a day?”

“Because I’ve only been here two hours,” Liz reminded, stifling another yawn. “If I go home I’ll just end up reorganizing the baby’s dresser. You can only fold undershirts so many times.”

Nancy smiled, patting Liz’s knee. “I was the same way before you were born,” she said with a chuckle. “It drove your father nuts. I was reorganizing left and right and he couldn’t find anything. Good thing you were a week early or I probably would have set to work down here and he would really have been in trouble.”

Both Nancy and Liz shared a laugh at this before a look of nostalgia crossed over Nancy’s face. “The day you were born is still crystal clear.”

Liz smiled, recognizing the look in her mother’s eyes. “Yeah?”

“Of course!” Nancy confirmed. “It was so rainy for May. It was pouring the entire time I was in labor and the nurse kept joking you were going to arrive by ark, not stork.” Nancy chuckled. “And then, right after the doctor put you in my arms, the nurse told me to look out the window-“

“Because the rain had stopped and there was a rainbow,” Liz finished with a smile, having heard that story dozens of times.

“God, it seems like it was just yesterday,” Nancy mused, squeezing Liz’s hand. “And now here you are…my baby girl is about to have her own baby girl.”

“Oh Mom,” Liz sighed, wrapping her arm around her mother and giving her a hug just as Maria pushed through the swinging door.

“Am I interrupting a moment?” she asked, watching mother and daughter embrace.

Liz giggled, wiping at her eyes. “It’s okay, Maria.”

“Well, blame it on Max. He’s on the phone.”

Letting out an exaggerated sigh, Liz pushed herself up from the couch. “He just doesn’t quit, does he?”

“Aw, he’s just a doting husband,” Maria said. “Lucky you.”

Making a face as she moved into the office, Liz lifted the phone from the desk. “Hi Max.”

“Are you okay? You sound tired,” came his voice without preamble.

“Max.”

He sighed. “I know, I know, I’m not supposed to call you every five minutes. But I have to stay a little late tonight and I don’t want you to wait for me. Can Maria take you home?”

“Yeah, that’s fine,” Liz answered, sinking into her chair. “I’ll start dinner later, then.”

“No, no, I’ll pick something up,” Max said quickly. “You just get home and rest.”

Liz almost opened her mouth to argue, but then stopped. It wasn’t worth it. “Yes, dear husband,” she answered with a teasing lilt in her voice. She really should stop messing with the poor guy, she knew that. But it was so much fun.

*****

“Liz, I’m home! I brought Chinese!” Max kicked the door shut behind him, arms loaded down with takeout bags. There was no response, but he could hear music wafting from the back of the apartment. 80’s. Of course.

He headed down the hall toward the music, pausing in the nursery doorway. “Hey, you.”

Liz glanced up from where she sat cross-legged on the floor. “Hi,” she returned cheerfully.

“It looks like you’re keeping yourself busy,” he noted, his voice tinged with amusement as he studied the piles of baby clothes scattered around her.

“I decided to reorganize the dresser,” Liz explained. “I don’t want the sleepers at the bottom, because she’ll be wearing them a lot and they should have easy access. Right?” She paused at the look on Max’s face. “I know, I know, I sound ridiculous-“

“Maybe you’re just hungry,” Max chuckled, reaching down and helping Liz to her feet. “There’s Chinese on the table.”

“Ooh, really?” Liz’s eyes lit up. “God, chicken kung pao sounds so good right now. Oh, and crab rangoons!”

Max smiled to himself as he led Liz down the hall, glad he also stopped by for a new bottle of Tabasco.

Later, as they polished off their rather mundane fortune cookies, Max leaned back in his chair and let out a contented sigh. “That was good.”

Liz nodded, pushing herself to her feet. No sooner had she crossed the small kitchen to put her plate in the sink than she paused, resting her hand on her lower abdomen.

“Liz?” Max’s voice rose in concern.

She turned to him, a smile crossing her face. “Max, I’m fine. I think the food gave me a little indigestion, that’s all.”

He got to his feet uneasily. “It doesn’t usually.”

“Max,” she laughed, placing her hands on his shoulders and giving him a little shake. “You’re going to give yourself a coronary.”

“I don’t think aliens can have heart attacks,” he shot back, trying to keep his voice light. But hell, he was sure he was going to have the closest thing to it before this baby was born. Every time the phone rang at work, every time Liz shifted in her sleep, every strange face she made, he was sure it was time. He was constantly on his toes, and Liz simply gave him that ‘don’t be such a dork’ look.

He moved his hands down her sides, rubbing over her belly. “I’m just nervous,” he said lamely.

“I kind of figured that,” Liz giggled, leaning her forehead against his. “Max, it’s got to happen sometime. And when it does, we’ll be fine. All of us. Okay?” She paused as he slowly nodded his head. “I promise.”

Max nodded again, considering this. Liz had never let him down before, and he was pretty sure she wouldn’t start now. But still… “Liz, I just-“

“Shh.” Liz silenced him with a finger to his lips. “Not another word. Let’s just relax and have fun tonight, okay? Just you and me. We won’t think about anything else.”

And as much as their typical definition of “having fun” had changed in the past few weeks, they still did just that curled up on the couch watching old reruns of Cheers. It was just before ten when Liz dozed off, and Max flipped off the television and lifted her into his arms. To him, she was still as light as a feather.

As placed her in their bed and waved his hand over her to remove her clothing, Liz’s eyes fluttered open. She blinked sleepily, asking, “Are you trying to take advantage of me?”

“You caught me,” Max chuckled, giving her a chaste kiss. “Here, lift your arms.”

Liz complied, and he slid her nightshirt over her head. Stripping his own clothes down to his boxers, he crawled into bed beside her. “Go back to sleep, love,” he urged, pressing another kiss against her forehead. He smiled to himself then, realizing she was already out, and ran his hand over her round belly. “Sweet dreams.”

*****

Liz awoke with a start. The sensation that washed through her was something new, a persistent ache that clamped around her body. She took a deep breath, staring up at the ceiling until it faded. And then she smiled, realizing that what she had been feeling earlier that evening was not, in fact, indigestion.

She glanced over to Max, sleeping soundly beside her, and considered waking him. He sighed in his sleep then, snuggling closer to her, and she decided against it. She figured this might be the last decent sleep he might get for a while, and so instead she settled back down beside him. Knowing she was beyond her own slumber, Liz’s eyes wandered from her husband to the wall beyond their bed.

The moonlight cast a pale beam across the painting, illuminating the angel. Her angel. Liz swallowed hard, closing her eyes. “Take care of your sister, Gabriel,” she whispered. “Help her get to us safely.”

*****

Serena’s eyes fluttered open, a sleepy smile crossing her face as she found herself surrounded by the warmth of Kyle’s arms. She shifted a little, realizing they must have fallen asleep on the couch after putting Jaycee to bed. Sure enough, the television cast a faint blue glow over his face, the low drone blending with his light snores.

Twisting her arm to glance at her watch, Serena sighed. 3:30. Should she wake him or just let him sleep? His dad was generally pretty cool about him being out late, but all night? She nearly chuckled then, remembering he was still a “kid” living under his father’s roof. His intelligence and amazing way with people belied his age, allowing Serena to overlook the fact that she was, technically, robbing the cradle.

As it turned out, Serena didn’t have to decide whether or not to wake him. The phone rang, startling them both.

“Wh-“ Kyle mumbled, his eyes flicking open as Serena disentangled herself and climbed off the couch.

“I got it.” She cleared her throat, but her “Hello?” was still raspy.

“Serena, I’m sorry to wake you-“

“Liz?”

“Yeah. Listen, I’m really sorry, but I have a question.”

“Go for it.” Serena exchanged a shrug with Kyle, relieved that there didn’t seem to be an emergency.

“A tightening feeling in the abdomen that, like, wraps around to your back is a contraction, right?”

“It definitely sounds like it.” Serena paused. “Liz, did you have a contraction?”

“Right before I called, actually,” Liz admitted. “And one seven minutes before that. And seven minutes before that, and ten minutes before that. And when I really think about it, probably earlier tonight-“

“Liz?” Serena tried unsuccessfully to hide the chuckle in her voice. “Sweetie, I think you’re in labor. Where’s Max?”

“Oh, he’s still sleeping,” Liz answered. “I wanted to wait until I knew for sure that’s what it was.”

“Well, assuming he’d like to join you at the hospital, I’d recommend waking him up.”

“Okay.” There was a short pause. “Um, are you-“

“We’ll meet you there,” Serena answered quickly, hoping to relieve some of Liz’s obvious anxiousness.

“Wait, we?"

Any apprehension was suddenly gone, and Serena could hear the smirk in Liz’s voice.

“It’s not what you – oh, never mind,” Serena groaned. “Go wake up that husband of yours and get to the hospital.”

Liz giggled. “Tell Kyle I said hi. See you there, Serena.” Hanging up the phone, Liz padded out of the kitchen and down the hall.

Pausing beside the bed, she gazed down at her sleeping husband. He was about to get quite a wake up, that was for sure. Liz lowered herself to sit beside him, brushing his dark hair off his forehead. “Max?”

Max let out a soft groan in his sleep, but showed no sign of awakening.

“Max,” she tried again. “Wake up, baby. We’ve got to go.”

He shifted again, these words breaking through his sleepy fog a little. “Hmm, go where?” he mumbled.

Taking her hand in his and leaning a little closer, she placed it on the curve of her belly. “To have our baby.”

These words registered like a jolt of lightning, and he bolted into a sitting position. “To have-“ He gulped, staring at Liz with a mixture of panic and excitement on his face. “Liz, are you…you’re…”

Liz couldn’t help but giggle at Max’s expression, and she nodded. “So I was thinking maybe we should go…”

“Yeah. Yeah, we should. Right now,” he babbled, throwing the covers aside and jumping to his feet. “Pants. Shit. Where are my pants?”

Stifling her laughter, Liz pointed to the back of a chair. Her smile faded as a contraction began to ripple through her, and she bowed her head to breathe through it.

“Liz?” Max’s eyes practically bugged out of his head at the sight of his wife, and he crouched before her. “God, Liz, does it hurt?”

She raised her eyes as it faded away, and arched a brow. “What do you think?”

“Oh god, I’m sorry,” he murmured, reaching for her hand. “I’ll…I’ll do something so that it doesn’t hurt-“

“No.” Liz shook her head.

“No?”

“Max, we talked about this. I want it to be completely natural. That means no drugs, and no powers, either.”

“But…but why?" It was going to kill him, seeing her in any kind of pain.

“Well first of all, it will be a lot less risky,” Liz reminded him. “And secondly…Max, do you remember when you put her crib together? How you didn’t want to use your powers?”

Max nodded, not having any idea what assembling a crib and giving birth to a baby had in common. “Yeah, I remember.”

“You wanted to do it on your own for her,” she explained. “And…well, I want to do this. I can’t do it without you, Max, and I want you right by my side. But I’m going to do this.” She paused, touching his cheek. “Don’t be upset.”

He stared at her, unsure of what to say. How could he be upset when she was so completely amazing? “I’m not upset, Liz. I’ll be right next to you the whole time. I won’t leave you,” he vowed, squeezing her hands.

“Then that’s all I need.” She smiled at him as he helped her to her feet. “Let’s have our baby.”



posted on 24-Nov-2002 8:36:47 PM by McGees
Thanks so much for your encouragement with this story! I've had a blast writing it, and it's so strange knowing it's coming to an end. I hope you'll all be happy with it - I can officially promise no angst for the rest of the story.

That said, I wanted to let you know a bit more about the sequel. It's called "Wherever You Will Go," and I've already started working on it (this might be the cause of delay in my other story!) I say that I'll wait until My Heart is finished to begin posting it, but I know I probably won't. *wink* In a few weeks I'll have LOTS of writing time, because I'm transferring schools. The way the schedules work, I'm going to have 2 months off. So...there will be much working and writing going on. There are still lots of things to come for our Roswell friends!

Just wanted to fill you in a bit on that, and look for the next part in a few days! *happy*
posted on 25-Nov-2002 11:03:44 PM by McGees
I'm pretty sure this doesn't need an introduction. Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate it. *happy*


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55

“Step it up a little, Spaceboy.”

Michael sighed as he trailed behind Maria through the hospital corridor. “It’s not like that’ll control when the kid gets here,” he reasoned. Besides, it was five in the morning and he was half-asleep. This, of course, hadn’t stopped Maria from rushing like a madwoman to get to the hospital from the moment Kyle had called her cell phone. Of all the nights for her to be sleeping over…

As they rounded the corner they spotted Serena and another woman outside a patient’s room. Michael immediately recognized as Rosa, the nurse from Evan’s birth. He and Maria exchanged a look, and as they got closer began to make out the conversation.

“Look, she’s young and nervous,” Serena was saying. “She feels more comfortable with me being here.”

“But I’m the attending nurse,” Rosa pointed out.

“I realize that,” Serena continued patiently. “But if Dr. Sinclair agrees to let me assist, then it’s one less patient for you to worry about.”

Rosa considered this for a long moment and finally nodded. “If you’re sure you don’t mind.”

“That’s why I’m here,” Serena explained with a smile. “I’ll let Dr. Sinclair know about the change when he comes on duty.” She turned then, noticing Maria and Michael just down the hall. “Oh, hey! Liz is right in here.”

“How’s she doing? Is she in a lot of pain?” Maria asked anxiously, practically rushing Serena to get to the door. “Lizzie?”

Liz glanced up from the hospital bed where she sat panting through a contraction. She managed a short wave and a smile through clenched teeth before returning her attention to her breathing.

Max sat at her side, just as he’d promised, rubbing a soothing hand up and down her back. He murmured words of encouragement until the contraction passed, and then finally turned his attention to the doorway. Rather than greet his friends, he said, “They getting closer together.”

“And stronger,” Liz added wryly. “Definitely stronger.”

Serena chuckled. “That sounds about right. Listen, now would be the time to get any kind of pain relief. You’re progressing pretty quickly, and if we wait much longer, it won’t be an option.”

Liz shook her head firmly, glancing first at Max and then Serena. “Nope, no drugs.”

“Chica, are you crazy?” Maria squawked. “We live in a modern age where women aren’t required unnecessary suffering! Take advantage of what millions of women only dreamed about!”

Liz couldn’t help giggling at her best friend’s speech. “Thanks for the encouragement, Maria.”

Maria raised her hands in surrender. “Hey, I’m just going off what my mom said. You’ll notice I’m an only child-“

“Oh my god.”

Max launched forward in alarm as his wife shifted, wide-eyed, on the bed. “What, Liz? What’s wrong?”

Liz squirmed again, looking to Serena for assistance. “I think my water just broke.”

Serena nodded knowingly as Max let out a sigh of momentary relief and Michael looked on in pure confusion.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“It’s normal, Michael,” Serena assured dryly. “Why don’t you give us a few minutes to get Liz changed and settled. Kyle should be here before too long, he’s keeping an eye on Jaycee until she wakes up and goes to my mom’s”

Muttering something about the damn waiting room chairs, Michael headed out of the room with Maria behind him, rolling her eyes.

Serena and Max helped Liz to her feet, and Liz gasped again. “It’s…is it supposed to look like that?”

All three stared down at the shimmering fluid that was soaking into the sheets. Serena chewed on her lower lip for a long moment before answering. “Isabel’s looked like this, too."

Liz nodded, watching as Max quickly passed his hand over the sheet and obliterated any evidence of the fluid’s existence. “It must be something…alien…” she murmured.

A wave of nausea rolled through Serena, but she managed to fight it back and give a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry, okay? The rest of her delivery was completely normal.”

Max waved his hand over Liz’s gown then, drying it, before helping her back into bed. “See, baby? Everything’s going to be fine.” But from the look on Serena’s face, he didn’t know who he was trying to reassure more - Liz or himself.

*****

“That was so not the same one.”

“Yes it was!” Michael insisted.

“Nu-uh,” Maria argued. “Trust me, it was my ass on the sink, and the first one was not stainless steel.”

Michael rolled his eyes as they approached the waiting room. “You sure didn’t seem to be complaining.”

“Whatever, the one last year was right by the elevator. Not the water fountain.”

Kyle smirked from where he sat in a waiting room chair paging through an old People magazine. “Are you two arguing about the bathroom?”

“No!” Maria answered a little too quickly.

“The point is that you got action in a bathroom, am I right?” He smirked again, shaking his head. “You two ought to be ashamed of yourselves.”

“What are you talking about?” Isabel asked suspiciously, sliding her cell phone back into her pocket and hoping Jesse would be able to manage Evan on his own. “And where’ve you been all this time?”

“Nowhere!” Michael and Maria chorused as the Evans and Parkers filed into the waiting room.

“She’s starting to push,” Diane announced excitedly.

“What? Already?” Maria demanded. How long had they been gone, anyway? She’d wanted to see Liz before-

“Guess you’ll have to work on the whole quickie concept,” Kyle whispered with a devilish grin. He quickly snapped his mouth shut upon the glare he received from Michael.

“I’m so nervous,” Nancy mused, sinking into a chair beside her husband.

Jeff squeezed Nancy’s hand. “She’s going to be fine,” he assured. “Lizzie’s a strong kid.”

The rest of the group also experienced a twinge of nerves, but for a different reason entirely.

“Max and Serena will take good care of her,” Isabel said softly, as much for them as for the Parkers. “The baby will be here soon and they’ll all be fine.”

*****

“Push, baby. You can do this.”

You are the strength that keeps me walking
You are the hope that keeps me trusting


Liz let out a low cry, clenching Max’s hand until he was sure it was broken and making him wonder briefly if his ban from healing included himself. He watched her face contort as she pushed, and his stomach churned. She was giving birth to their child. A child that they had both created, but that only she could give life to. Through their heightened connection, he could feel an ache echo through his body with each contraction, but he know it was nothing compared to what her body was going through. Still, he wouldn’t go back on his promise to Liz. She needed to do this and he needed to let her, no matter how hard it was for both of them.

You are the light into my soul
You are my purpose…you’re everything


Max crouched down beside the bed, running his thumb across her cheek. “Baby, look at me,” he encouraged. “I love you so much. You are doing this. You are so strong and so brave, baby. I am so proud of you.”

“Oh god, Max,” she gasped wearily. “I’m so tired."

I know, love,” he murmured, taking her hand in his and placing it on the swell of her belly. “Liz, that’s our baby,” he whispered, looking deep into her eyes and trying to project some of his energy into her exhausted body. Energy wasn't cheating, was it? “She’s ready to meet us. I know you can do this. You can give her life. Just like you do for me.”

How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you

She squeezed his hand. “I love you,” she breathed. Her grip grew tighter and she gritted her teeth as another contraction wracked her small frame.

“Okay, Liz,” came Dr. Sinclair’s voice from the end of the bed. “The baby’s head is fully crowned. Just a little bit more.”

Serena grinned at them from where she stood beside Dr. Sinclair. “Max, do you want to take a look? It’s the most incredible thing you’ll ever see.”

Would you tell me how could it be any better than this

Max thought about this for a split second before moving toward the end of the bed, still gripping Liz’s hand. His heart thundered wildly in his chest as the intensity of their connection increased.

“Oh my god,” he breathed. He wasn’t entirely sure what he was supposed to be seeing, but then…oh…oh god. “Liz, she’s right there. I can see her.” His throat tightened, and he clung to her hand. Not sure he could trust his voice, he spoke to her through their connection. She's almost here. So close, love...

Liz managed a weak smile and then groaned, prompting Max back to her side. You're amazing, he told her as she continued to push, her eyes squeezed shut in the effort.

“And…the head is out,” Dr. Sinclair announced after a few moments. “We’ve got some dark hair...”

“Liz, look down, sweetie. Look at your baby,” Serena encouraged, her eyes glimmering with excitement.

Liz clenched Max’s hand and wailed. And then…suddenly…there was another cry as they watched Dr. Sinclair lift their baby, pink and squalling, from Liz’s body.

You still my heart and you take my breath away
You are all I need…you are everything


Both Max and Liz uttered a collective gasp as the child was placed on Liz’s chest. The moment was unlike any they had ever experienced.

“It’s a girl,” Dr. Sinclair announced needlessly, grinning beneath his green paper cap.

“Our little girl,” Max murmured. He couldn’t take his eyes from the tiny life squirming on Liz’s chest. She was even tinier than he’d imagined, and red and wet and…beautiful. Just beautiful.

“Happy birthday, Peanut.” He dropped a kiss atop hers and Liz’s heads as Dr. Sinclair said, “Are you ready to cut the cord, Daddy?”

Oblivious to the rest of the world, Max gently ran a finger down their baby’s back. Her skin was slimy and wet, yet so smooth and so perfect! After a moment he heard Liz whisper, “Max, that’s you.”

Max swallowed hard, a dazed smile crossing his face. “Oh yeah.”

The doctor handed Max a pair of scissors and indicated where to cut. He looked at his wife and daughter in turn, joined physically for the last time. When Liz gently nodded, he cut the cord.

And how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this


Liz couldn’t stop touching her baby, the tears spilling down her cheeks as she ran her fingers over the top of her head, along the back of her neck, across her spine…the feeling of her body rising and falling on her chest with each breath was absolutely mind-blowing.

Serena, too, fought back tears as she watched Liz and Max meet their daughter for the first time. After a moment she asked for permission to clean her up, and gently lifted her from Liz.

Max squeezed Liz’s hand and gave her another radiant smile before following them to a little table, where their daughter was weighed, measured, and wrapped in a blanket.

You calm the storms…you give me rest

“Seven pounds even,” Serena announced. “Okay, sweetheart, are you ready to meet Dad?” she asked the whimpering newborn.

Liz watched Max’s face as the tiny bundle was placed in his arms, and she felt the tears spring to her eyes again. He stood in complete awe of their daughter, his amber eyes meeting hers for the first time. “Hi,” he whispered. “Hi Peanut. I’m your daddy. But you already knew that.”

You hold me in your hands
You won’t let me fall


Her cries subsided as Max gently traced a finger down her cheek, and her tiny eyes struggled to focus on his face. In that moment, he had never felt more connected to his daughter. And he had never been more proud in his life.

“Let’s see Mommy,” he said after a few moments, knowing mother and daughter needed to be together. He glanced up at Liz, holding her gaze as he crouched beside the bed. He placed a tender kiss on her lips before placing their daughter in her arms.

You still my heart and you take my breath away
You are all I need…you are everything


“Max, look at her,” Liz sighed, her heart swelling as the baby’s warm body nestled into her arms. She reached for the tiny hand that peeked from the edge of the blanket and carefully touched each delicate pink fingernail. “Five on this one,” she said, her eyes dancing as she glanced up at Max.

“That’s good. Because I counted seven on the other,” he grinned back, dropping another kiss onto her forehead.

Liz’s eyes widened for a moment and then quickly narrowed. “Max!”

“She’s perfect,” he assured, smoothing Liz’s damp hair back. “Absolutely perfect.”

Serena poked her head back in the room then, smiling at the couple who hadn’t even noticed her leave. “You’ve got some anxious visitors out there,” she informed them.

Dr. Sinclair glanced up from where he was stitching Liz’s minor tear. “I’m almost finished here. We’ll get cleaned up and then whenever you’re ready, Liz.”

Max gazed down at his wife, not wanting her to feel rushed. After all, she’d just given birth and-

“As soon as you’re done down there,” Liz said brightly, her previous exhaustion all but forgotten as she marveled over her child. She noticed then that the newborn’s lips were pursing insistently, and instinctively knew what her baby needed.

Max watched, puzzled, as Liz began to fiddle with the flap of her hospital gown. Serena was immediately at her side, assisting, while Max continued to look on in confusion. “Wh-“

“Your daughter is hungry,” Serena explained with a chuckle, noticing Max’s befuddlement at his wife’s sudden exposure.

Oh. Well of course she was. Max cleared his throat, feeling a bit embarrassed.

With Serena’s help, Liz guided the newborn to her breast. She gasped as the child instinctively found what she was looking for and latched on, but then relaxed a little when the baby settled comfortably to nurse.

“You’re naturals,” Serena encouraged, squeezing Liz’s arm. “Silly question, but does it feel okay?”

“Yeah,” Liz answered slowly, the awed expression never leaving her face. “Look, she’s already falling asleep.”

“She probably won’t take much right away,” Serena explained. “While you’re both adjusting, try to switch off as much as possible so you don’t get sore.”

I'll fix that, Max thought importantly as he rubbed his hand up and down Liz’s arm and watched their daughter drift to sleep. He guessed the moment of quiet would be short lived, and he was right. Just minutes later, the room filled with excited family.

The grandma’s were first, with Maria just behind. “Oh…Lizzie,” she gasped.

Liz and Max beamed proudly as their families marveled over their daughter, crowding around the bed to get a closer look.

“She’s just gorgeous,” Diane murmured, clasping Philip’s hand. “Philip, isn’t she gorgeous?”

“She is,” Philip agreed, grinning proudly.

Nancy and Jeff gazed down at their daughter and her baby – their first granddaughter. Jeff could barely speak around the lump of emotion in his throat, and Nancy, too, fought back tears as she said, “Lizzie, she looks just like you when you were born.”

Liz smiled at Max and then back down at her daughter. “She’s got Max’s eyes. You can’t tell right now, but they’re beautiful.”

“Does she have his ears, too?” Michael teased from Maria’s side.

Isabel rolled her eyes, elbowing him. “Don’t say that, she’s just an innocent little thing.”

“I think they’re cute,” Liz murmured, again meeting Max’s eyes with a smile.

He couldn’t resist leaning in for a sweet kiss, causing the child to stir slightly in Liz’s arms.

“Get used to it, kiddo,” Maria chuckled, the rest of the family joining in her gentle laughter.

“Are you going to tell us what to call her already?” Serena spoke up from where she stood in Kyle’s embrace.

Liz and Max exchanged another glance while the family waited expectantly.

Reaching over to touch his daughter’s tiny hand, Max took a deep breath. “Everyone, this is our little Peanut.” He paused for dramatic effect, making sure to catch his mother’s eye. “Our peanut, Hope Claudia Evans.”

The room buzzed with murmurs of approval, and if Jeff hadn’t been close to tears before, they were practically spilling down his cheeks now.

“We thought it fit her,” Liz added simply, gazing first at Max and then at her child with absolute adoration and love. And it did fit her. She was their hope – she had been before she even existed. All of their love and pain and joy weaved together to form this incredible little person now dozing in her arms. She would never forget the wise words Grandma Claudia had given her so many years ago. Because even though the road had been complicated, Liz would never regret the journey. Her eyes shone with love as she smiled up at Max. Her husband, the father of her child, her soulmate.

*****

lyrics by Lifehouse, Everything

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-Nov-2002 11:09:31 PM ]
posted on 4-Dec-2002 4:40:35 PM by McGees
Well, we're almost there. Two more parts to go after this! I hope you'll enjoy reading them as much as I have writing them.


fd3144b4
56

Max couldn’t take his eyes off of her. The way her little rosebud lips pursed, and the feathery lashes that fluttered against her cheeks as she blinked, and the delicate fingers that wrapped into tiny fists. Hope Claudia Evans was, without a doubt, the most beautiful baby he had ever seen.

He gently ran his index finger along the side of her face, and she turned her head toward his chest curiously. Oops. Not a good idea. He suddenly remembered reading what that meant to a newborn. Feeding time.

“Sorry, Peanut, you’re looking at the wrong person,” he murmured with a smile. Max glanced up from where they were sitting in a wooden rocking chair in the corner of Liz’s hospital room. “Mommy’s sleeping. I think she’s had a long day, we probably shouldn’t wake her up just yet,” he whispered to his daughter.

Max’s eyes lingered on Liz as he slowly rocked back and forth. He’d lost track of the number of times that day he’d told her how amazing she was, but it still didn’t seem to be enough. It wasn’t adequate to describe the miracle of the tiny life he was now holding. It was, in a word, indescribable.

As he watched her, Liz began to stir. Her eyes opened slowly, and she focused on her husband and the tiny bundle in his arms. “Hi,” she murmured with a smile.

Carefully getting to his feet, Max crossed the room and eased onto the edge of the bed. “Hey sleepyhead,” he grinned. “How are you feeling?”

“A little sore,” Liz admitted as she pulled herself up to sit against the pillows, her face glowing with happiness. “But it’s normal. And it’s totally worth it,” she added, reaching into the soft pink blanket and touching Hope’s cheek.

Max smiled as he watched the baby chase Liz’s finger. “Now you’ve done it,” he teased, gently transferring their daughter into Liz’s arms.

Pulling one of the flaps of her hospital gown aside, Liz carefully guided her baby to her breast. She sucked in a small breath as the newborn latched on, not entirely used to the feeling yet.

“Does it hurt you?” Max asked in concern.

Liz shook her head, gazing down at Hope. “It doesn’t hurt, really. It’s just…it’s hard to describe. I’ve never felt anything like it.” Her eyes lifted to meet his. “It’s so strange. For the past nine months my body’s been nourishing her from the inside, and now I’m actually seeing it.” She paused shyly. “Does that make any sense?”

Max tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and nodded. “It’s amazing, isn’t it?” he murmured, touching his finger to Hope’s hand and watching as her tiny fist wrapped around it.

“It’s like a dream,” Liz agreed. She was silent for a long moment, watching her daughter nurse. “Were you scared, Max?”

Max considered this. “Yes,” he answered finally. “I didn’t want to see you hurting. I was afraid of being powerless to take your pain away.”

Liz nodded slowly. “But I mean…about things being…different.”

“Oh.” He swallowed hard, smoothing Liz’s hair off her forehead. “Liz, I’m always scared of that. Of how it could effect you. And now our daughter. It’s my biggest fear.”

Reaching out, Liz touched a soothing hand to his cheek. “I know. But…I knew Gabriel was taking care of her.”

Max managed a gentle smile, cupping his hand over Liz’s. “I think so too. And sometimes…I think maybe he sent Serena, too. We’re lucky to have her in our lives.”

Liz nodded silently, thinking back to those first days after they lost Gabriel. They were going through hell, but Serena was there for them without even realizing it. She never let them down through any of it, and now she was doing whatever she could to protect their children…their secret. Today had been no exception, as she took special efforts to make sure Hope didn’t leave Max and Liz’s sight. The scare from Evan’s birth was still too fresh, and while his blood proved to be human, they weren’t ready to take any chances. Not yet. They would test Hope’s blood someday, but at the moment they simply wanted to enjoy her sweet presence.

“Are you all finished?” Liz murmured presently to her little girl, watching as her mouth lost suction.

“I think she’s falling asleep,” Max observed. Sure enough, her dark eyes were hooded with sleepy lids, losing their struggle to stay open. “Maybe she’s got the right idea. You should try to get some more sleep.”

Liz stifled a yawn and nodded. “What about you, aren’t you tired?”

“I’m okay,” Max answered. “I’d rather stay awake and watch you both.” He paused, seeing the look Liz gave him – she was touched, but not fooled – and confessed, “I just want to be close to you.”

Giving him a smile that was full of love, Liz shifted in the bed and patted the space beside her. “Me too.”

Max needed no further invitation as he gingerly lifted his legs onto the bed and settled beside Liz and little Hope asleep in her arms. As Liz leaned her head against his broad shoulder, he leaned over to place a kiss on her crown. It was just minutes before the new family was sleeping peacefully, blanketed in the security of their love.

*****

“What’s that?”

Michael glanced up from where he stood before a shelf of stuffed animals in the hospital’s gift shop. “Uh…a duck.”

“Well I see that, genius.” Maria nudged his arm playfully. “Does little Mikey want a ducky to play with?”

Shaking her off, Michael flushed a little. “It’s not for me, it’s for the baby.” He shrugged, turning the soft yellow duck over in his hands. “I figured, she’s already got like twenty-eight teddy bears at home, y’know? So I’ll get her something different.”

Maria leaned up and kissed his cheek. “That’s sweet, Michael.”

“I don’t know, do you think it’s stupid? I mean, she’s just a baby. She can’t do much except drool and poop on it, but-“

“It’s perfect, Michael,” Maria assured. “Something she can keep forever from her Uncle Michael.”

Finally smiling a little, Michael shrugged. “Yeah, well…”

“Look, give me a second to pick out some flowers for Liz and we can go.”

Michael agreed, wandering toward the register with his purchase. He didn’t know what had gotten into him, picking through the piles of furry pastel creatures and getting all warm and fuzzy inside. That wasn’t him. Max, maybe. But not him.

“You ready, Spaceboy?” Maria called, a bouquet of flowers in her hand.

He turned to her, struck suddenly by how she looked clutching the arrangement of pink roses and baby’s breath. In spite of her messy hair and under-eye circles, she was beautiful. Like a bride.

“C’mon, let’s pay,” she continued brightly.

Michael merely nodded dumbly. What the hell was going on with him? First he’s picking out baby gifts, then he’s fantasizing about a wedding?

He needed to watch a hockey game, and fast.

Once their purchases had been paid for, Michael and Maria returned to the maternity ward. Passing the nurses’ station, they received a look for Rosa, who was still apparently on duty.

“Are you visiting someone?” she asked shortly.

“Liz Evans. Room 426,” Maria responded, her tone just as curt. The nurse nodded her go-ahead, and as she and Michael continued down the hall she muttered, “Bitch.”

“Easy, Blondie.”

“Isn’t she off-duty yet? She’s been giving us looks all day.” Maria trailed off as they entered Liz’s room.

Both Liz and Max appeared to be asleep on the bed, with baby Hope sleeping just as soundly in a bassinet beside them. Max sat propped with pillows, one around Liz and the other hand resting in the bassinet on Hope’s tummy.

Upon hearing their entry, Max’s eyes opened and a smile lit his face. “Come on in.”

“Oh, we’ll just drop these off,” Maria assured, her voice hushed.

“No, we’re awake,” came Liz’s voice, her eyes also fluttering open. “We’re just-“

“Resting,” Max supplied, adjusting the blankets swaddling his daughter.

Liz smiled at her husband as he doted upon the baby. He was clearly already taken by his little girl, but then, so was she. They’d spent the last little while just lying together listening to the soft noises Hope made in her sleep. Just the sound of her breathing was enough to send tingles of joy and pride through Liz.

“These are for you,” Maria was saying as she settled the vase of flowers on the small table that was already accumulating an assortment of flowers and balloons.

“Oh, thank you,” Liz leaned up to share a hug and kiss on the cheek with her best friend, who clung to her for a long moment.

“God, Liz, I’m so proud of you,” Maria murmured.

Blinking back tears, Liz smiled and said, “I had a baby, Maria, I didn’t find a cure for cancer.”

“One thing at a time,” Maria chuckled, standing back and peering into the bassinet beside the bed. “Look at her, she’s just precious.”

“Would you like to hold her?” Max asked grandly.

“Really?” Maria’s eyes lit up as Max slipped his hands beneath the tiny bundle and lifted her from the bassinet. She’d barely gotten a good look at the child earlier; the grandparents were proving to be serious baby-hogs. With a giddy grin, she bounded over to the rocking chair and plopped down, arms outstretched.

Michael shook his head as he watched on silently, but even he couldn’t keep the smile from crossing his face as Max carefully placed the newborn in Maria’s arms.

“Look at you,” she cooed. “El bebe pequena bonita.” Glancing up, she gestured to Michael with her free hand. “Come look at the baby!”

Obliging, Michael crossed the room and awkwardly held out his gift. “Uh…this is for you. It’s a duck.” He paused then, realizing he was explaining this to a sleeping 5-hour-old.

Max and Liz glanced at each other, biting back their laughter. Michael really was trying. “I’m sure she’ll appreciate it someday,” Max offered.

“Yeah, well…” Michael knelt down beside the rocker and gazed up at his girlfriend. She was beautiful, glowing as she murmured to the baby. He could only imagine how incredible it would be to see her holding their own child one day. Their child. Had he really just thought those words? He supposed he’d considered it before, him and Maria having a baby someday, but sitting here watching her hold their friends’ daughter in her arms was like an awakening for him.

“Michael?” Maria’s voice interrupted his thoughts as she smiled down on him. “Here, it’s your turn.”

“Oh…no, I can’t-“

“Yes you can, it’s easy,” Maria informed him, slowly easing to her feet and nodding to the chair. “Sit down.”

Who was he to argue with her? Michael sat, holding his breath as Maria placed Hope in his arms. He let out a rush of air as the baby, so tiny and delicate, yawned and stretched before settling into him. Maybe this wasn’t as hard as he thought…

“There, see?” Maria grinned knowingly, touching Michael’s shoulder. “I knew you could do it.”

“Yeah…it’s nothing,” Michael muttered, studying the sleeping child. Her ears really did bear a resemblance to Max’s, he could see that from beneath the striped cap on her head. At the same time he could already see so much of Liz in her little face, and even he had to marvel at the miracle of this combination of his two friends.

Would a child of his and Maria’s be such a perfect mix? He smiled faintly at the thought. They’d have his nose, and Maria’s eyes. And her lips, those beautiful full, pouty lips. Well, the girls would. Definitely not the boys.

His thoughts were again interrupted, this time by the sudden whimpers from the bundle in his arms. Hope was awakening, and Michael was terrified. He looked up at Maria with a ‘help me!’ look just as Hope let out a healthy cry.

Liz giggled from her place on the bed. “It’s okay, Michael, she’s probably just hungry.”

Poor Michael looked like a deer caught in the headlights. That meant only one thing, and he sure as hell wasn’t equipped to handle it. “Here,” he said quickly, passing the baby back to Maria.

“Already keeping Uncle Michael on his toes, I like that,” Maria chuckled, crossing over to the bed to give Hope to her mother.

The moment Liz began to lower her top, Michael was on his feet. “We should go,” he announced. “You…you look like you could use a little privacy.”

“Why, Michael, does breastfeeding make you uncomfortable?” Max asked amusedly.

“No,” Michael shot back. Hell, just hearing Max say ‘breast’ was enough to creep him out.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Maria, having caught a quick glimpse as Hope began feeding, exclaimed, “God, Liz, you’re huge!”

Liz smiled cheekily. “It’s one of the perks.”

“I’ll have to keep that in mind,” Maria mused, puffing out her chest a little.

“We’re really leaving now,” Michael informed them, grabbing Maria’s arm and taking special care not to look in Liz’s direction. Still, as they finally headed out the door, he couldn’t help casting one more glance back to the family on the bed. His eyes lingered on Max. Michael had never seen him look so happy, so proud, in his entire life as he smiled down on his wife and daughter.

A strange sense of sadness washed over him. God, how he wanted that.

“You okay, Spaceboy?” Maria asked then. “We didn’t scar you back there, did we?”

“No…no, I’m fine,” he answered quietly. And he was. Because at that moment he knew exactly what he needed to do. He’d never been more sure of anything in his life.

*****

momliz
Just wanted to post a rather appropriate manip by the amazing Shurry. You can find other work by her here:
http://schurry.com_69/Multimedia/fanart/schurry/art.html

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 4-Dec-2002 5:03:20 PM ]
posted on 5-Dec-2002 12:43:36 PM by McGees
Bumping myself up...hey guys, I updated! *tongue*
posted on 17-Dec-2002 12:58:40 AM by McGees
Whew. Between computer problems, finals, and moving home, it's been a long week! Thanks for your patience, and I hope you'll enjoy this (second to last) part!


fd3144b4
57

“We’re almost here.”

Max led his wife and new baby down the hall toward the apartment, bursting at the seams with joy and excitement. And relief. He was immensely relieved that Liz and Hope had been granted release from the hospital after two days. All he wanted was to take his girls home. The need to protect them was an instinct that would never fade, but they were both safe and healthy and home. It was such a euphoric feeling that he couldn’t even be bothered by any worries at the moment.

Unlocking and pushing open the front door, Max turned and shared a look of pure love with Liz before looking at Hope. “Welcome home, Peanut.”

“She seems really excited,” Liz giggled, gazing down at the baby dozing in her carrier.

Max grinned, setting Liz’s bag on the floor and taking the carrier from her. “You can take the grand tour later,” he whispered to his little girl before addressing Liz. “Do you think she should sleep in here? Or would it be better to put her in her crib? Or maybe…”

He looked so perplexed by the options that Liz couldn’t help gently reminding, “She’s ours, Max. We get to make the decisions.”

“You’re right,” he said, the easy smile returning to his face as he gazed down at Hope. “She’s ours.”

Liz bent down and unfastened the bundle that was her daughter, lifting her into her arms. “Let’s take her to see her room,” she decided.

Max nodded, adjusting the blankets to better see the sleeping newborn’s precious face. “Your room has been waiting for you,” he informed her importantly. He was extremely proud of his work in the nursery, yet he couldn’t quite believe that the one thing that had been missing was about to make it all complete.

Leading them down the hall to the nursery, Max pushed the door open and stepped aside to allow Liz’s entry.

“Here we are, Hope,” she murmured. “Your own room.” Liz trailed off then, her eyes trained to the wall above the crib. “Max…”

Max tightened his arm around Liz’s waist. “What do you think?”

Liz’s eyes shimmered with tears as she gazed at the delicate porcelain cherub affixed there. “I…I like it.”

“Her guardian angel,” he explained quietly.

She nodded silently, leaning in to share a sweet kiss with him before moving to the crib and carefully laying Hope down. Stroking her baby soft cheek, she murmured, “You always have someone looking after you.”

Max stood beside Liz, pulling her close as they gazed down at their sleeping daughter.

“If I wasn’t about to fall asleep standing up I think I could watch her forever,” Liz remarked. This was immediately punctuated by a deep yawn, and Max chuckled.

“Naps all around, then.” He kissed her forehead, and with one last lingering look, the new parents padded across the hall to their bedroom.

Liz switched on the monitor that now sat beside the bed before sinking into the covers, suddenly very glad she wouldn’t have to entertain any guests at Hope’s homecoming. Her parents insisted on hosting a small get-together at the Crashdown that weekend, making it Hope’s first outing. They understood that the new family would need a little private time to adjust. Or to nap, as the case may be.

Kicking off his shoes, Max settled onto the bed beside his wife. “So,” he began, a mischievous grin crossing his face, “Nine months ago, right here-“

“Max!” Liz giggled. “You can never talk about that in front of her! She won’t understand, and then someday when she does she’ll be scarred for life.”

He merely grinned again, rolling onto his side and capturing her lips in a soft, sweet kiss before winking at her. “It’ll be our little secret then.”

*****

Liz slowly floated out of sleep, her eyes fluttering open with a yawn. Her gaze shifted down her body to where the swell of her belly had been just days ago. She moved her hand over her abdomen then, still readjusting to its returning flatness.

As much as she relished seeing her feet again and not having to pee every five seconds, she still felt the loss of her child squirming and thriving within her.

With a small sigh, Liz rolled her head toward Max only to find the bed empty. Wondering how long she’d been asleep, she shifted her feet to the floor and padded toward the door.

The moment she hit the hallway, she heard it. The door to the nursery was open just a crack and, without making a sound, Liz nudged it a bit more.

Max stood near the window, completely oblivious to the rest of the world as he gazed down upon his child. Hope was cupped protectively against his broad chest, her tiny face turned toward the door, and Liz could see how peacefully content she was in her daddy’s arms.

Still unaware of his wife’s presence, Max continued in his soft voice. “But the thing is, what I really mean, yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen,” he sang, swaying slowly back and forth. “I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words, how wonderful life is, now you’re in the world…” Max raised his eyes then, meeting Liz’s with a tender smile.

“Hi,” she whispered, nearly overcome with emotion from the sight of her husband and daughter, practically glowing in the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the window.

“I promised her we’d dance all the time once she got here,” Max explained, cradling Hope close.

Liz nodded, coming closer and kissing the top of Hope’s downy head. “I think she still likes it when you sing to her.”

Max shrugged a little, flushing with pride. “It’s not exactly 80’s, but it’s close enough.”

Liz giggled, leaning her forehead against his shoulder. Though she was still nostalgic for the closeness she’d shared with her daughter the past nine months, seeing Max with her now made it all worth it. “You like dancing with Daddy, don’t you?” she murmured, gazing at her child and marveling at how her eyes already mirrored Max’s. Most newborns sported eyes in various shades of blue, but not Hope. No, hers were a deep golden hue, sparkling with beauty and life. They were beginning to hide behind hooded lids, though, and somehow Liz knew that Max would be spending many a night to come singing his Peanut to sleep.

*****

Michael was a bundle of nerves. Even as he bustled around his apartment’s tiny kitchen, boiling water and simmering spaghetti sauce, he couldn’t quite control the racing of his heart.

It wasn’t that he was nervous, exactly. Hell, he’d never been more sure about anything in his life. His hand absently reached up to pat his shirt pocket, at the small box nestled there that he hadn’t dared let out of his sight in the past three days. What was inside that box represented his love and total commitment. Yes indeed, Michael Guerin was about to give his heart completely to Maria Deluca, and he had no doubts. Of course, he’d had to sell his Playstation and half his DVD collection to afford the ring, but he could mourn those losses later. He figured the tradeoff was worth it, even in spite of the endless sea of double shifts looming in his future.

As he drained the pasta in the sink, he glanced at his watch. 6:07. Maria had finished her shift seven minutes before, which meant-

Shit. Seven minutes. That meant she’d be there in less than three! Shit! With a flourish, Michael dumped spaghetti noodles onto two plates and ladled sauce onto each before topping them off with silver covers courtesy of Isabel. He reached into his pocket for the box, placing it on a clean plate before plunking a cover on it as well.

He was just nodding in satisfaction when he heard on knock on the back door and Maria stepped inside.

“Jesus, Maria,” he gasped, shoving the plate aside. “Where’d you come from?”

“Work.” She gave him a strange look. “You said to come over after my shift, and – are you okay, Spaceboy? You’re sweating.”

Michael swiped the back of his hand over his damp brow and cleared his throat. “I’m fine. It’s just, you know, this hot stove and all-“

“So you did cook,” Maria broke it, looking around in satisfaction. Her eyes traveled up and down his body as he yanked off his apron and revealed a button-up shirt and chinos. “Well don’t you look nice. I feel a bit under-dressed in the uniform.”

“You’re perfect,” he assured quickly, grabbing two plates and setting them on the table. “Here, sit down,” he urged, pulling out a chair.

Maria obliged with a grin, preparing to lift the cover off her plate.

“Wait!” Michael’s yelp stopped her cold, and he quickly added, “I didn’t light the candles yet.” He received another strange look as he waved his hand over the candles on the table to light them.

“What, is it so gross looking we can’t eat it in normal lighting?” Maria teased as Michael sank into his chair across from her.

“No, I just…I wanted to make this nice for you. To – to show how much I love you…” He trailed off, nodding toward the plate to indicate she could take the cover off now. He held his breath as Maria tilted the silver cover back.

And then she stared. She stared so long, in fact, that Michael’s pulse began to race. She wasn’t saying anything. Why wasn't she saying anything?

Finally, finally Maria’s eyes shifted up to meet his. “What are you trying to tell me, Michael?” she spoke up quietly.

Michael swallowed hard. “Um…that I love you,” he ventured.

“I don’t believe this,” she continued, her lower lip beginning to tremble. “God, Michael, after everything you said to me…you’re leaving again, aren’t you? You found something about that metal crap, didn’t you?”

His eyes