posted on 9-Feb-2002 11:01:06 PM by Fehrbaby
Title: Stoned
Author: Christina
E-mail: Fehraby⊕hotmail.com
Distribution: If you want it, take it, just let me know
Disclaimer: I don't own, don't sue
Category: M/L
Rating: NC-17.
Summary: No, not drugs. lol. After a mishap at the pod camber, Max comes out a changed man. His balance has shifted. He's more agressive and his self-gratuitous side has taken over. And what does he have on his mind? Or should I say who? (This is a challenge by Shelly2)

Author's Note: I know I've been MIA when it comes to stories lately, but I promise you'll see more of this one soon. You can find the previous 9 parts at this thread:

viewthread?forum=repost-fan-fiction&id=17327

Stoned Part 10

One hour and 49 miles later, after the group huddle in the eraser room, Maria began to ponder the similarities between Michael Guerin and cars. To be more specific, her cars.

For starters, they both had low mileage. As far as Maria knew, she was the only one who'd ever put any mileage on Michael Guerin, and if she was being truthful, she hoped, one day, to put on a whole lot more. Next, there was the incredibly great form; a sleek, masculine exterior that could make any normal girl's engine hum. Then there was the vital power that hummed beneath that gorgeous exterior - one that could both thrill and overwhelm if you weren't careful. And boy, if she didn't have first-hand experience at that, she thought wryly.

But the real kicker, and the whole reason she'd begun to make the comparison in the first place, was that they both had an infallible penchant for breaking down at the worst possible moment.

"I swear, Maria, you are a curse," Michael condemned, slamming his fist on the steering column.

It was deja vu - 285 South all over again. Once more, she was traveling down the open road with Michael, and once again, the car - her mother's brand new Blazer, to be exact! - had overheated because Michael couldn't manage to drive it properly.

Maria was beginning to feel as though she'd been trapped in one of those Twilight Zone episodes, one where she was forced to relive the same situation over and over again until she got it right. What exactly she was supposed to be 'getting right', however, she couldn't quite figure out.

She was utterly exhausted, but she still managed to scrounge up a reproachful glare to pass in his direction. "I'm a curse? It's your fault that the car overheated. I told you, you have to switch into 5th gear after 50 miles per hour, or the engine will fry."

Michael flashed her a sardonic expression that sent her temper soaring. "Oh, I forgot, you're the all-knowing guru on cars. Forgive me." An irritated glare flashed on his face, then he was climbing out of the Blazer and slamming the door shut.

"Just make sure it doesn't happen again," she called after him.

"I thought you said you were going to call a truce for the next few days," Tess complained from behind her.

Maria gave a start at the voice, having almost forgotten about her second companion on this trip. More than likely, she'd been trying to block her out. She swung her head around to glare at the petite alien. "We said we'd try," she pointed out rather coldly. "There's a difference."

With a look of disgust, Tess plopped back against the seat and crossed her arms over her chest. "Yeah, I saw how hard you tried."

Maria tossed her head back against the head rest, exhaling with agitation. Tess had a point. She hadn't tried to get along with Michael. It was for the best that they argued as much as possible. It was her shield against everything about Michael Guerin that turned her insides to liquid fire. If she didn't have that, then she'd start to see all the vulnerable layers beneath that thick, stubborn skin. She'd start to see all the things in him that had the potential to be so wonderful. And that couldn't happen. Not ever - ever! - again. It would only give her hope for something that would never again be. She sighed ruefully, ignoring that it was that very same hope that had brought her on this trip in the first place.

"You know," Tess said, "It would really make the next few days easier if you two would stop antagonizing each other. Why can't you just talk it out like normal people, rather than fighting all the time?"

Maria grunted and spoke over her shoulder, unable to find the will or energy to turn. "Like you know the first thing about being normal. Why don't you just go help him so we can get the hell out of here?"

The sigh that came from the back was tinged of frustration. The sound of the rear door opening and slamming shut followed. Maria wiped her sweaty forehead with the back of her hand and closed her eyes, pondering how she had got herself into this situation.

Ironically, she realized with a self-deprecating laugh, she already knew the answer.

*****

Liz's amused laughter carried down the empty hallway as she and Max walked together to their room, both overloaded with plastic bags containing more salty, greasy food from the same dive that dinner had come from the night before. "I think we overdid it."

"Why do you say that?"

"Oh, come on. There's enough food here to feed a family of six, and then some. Like we're ever going to eat all of this."

"I wouldn't be so sure," Max replied, his dark eyes dancing with mischief. "I know I've worked up quite an appetite in the last six hours." He winked.

Liz's cheeks surged with heat at the reference, but that was all the recognition she gave. Obviously, that was enough for him, she thought wryly, as Max chuckled.

They reached the door but he made no move to open it. "We should enjoy it while we can," Max continued, now serious. "We're running low on cash, and what we have, we're going to need for gas."

In other words, this might be the last time they eat for a while. Liz captured her lower lip between her teeth. This was something she'd been worrying about all morning, when she wasn't occupied with the task of fending Max off, that is. Their rapidly depleting funds could only carry them for another day or so. After that, they'd have no way to support themselves. She was beginning to think they'd made a mistake.

As if reading her thoughts, Max wrapped his arm around her shoulder and kissed her head, just above her ear. "Don't worry," he said softly, soothingly. "We'll figure something out. Trust me."

She nodded, but for his benefit alone. She couldn't help worrying. She was a practical person, and practically speaking, there was a whole lot to worry about. They didn't have a place to stay. Without that, they couldn't get jobs. Without jobs, they couldn't eat. "Right about now, that four grand would really be an answer to all our problems," she commented, lamenting her useless savings.

"Hmmm..."

Liz looked up. She wondered at the thoughtful tone of the monosyllable . "What are you thinking?"

Max shrugged. "We'll figure something out," he repeated, his tone noticeably less somber. Had he reconsidered? Would they be able to get her hard-earned savings after all? Oh, how useful it would be. But how would they do it without leaving tracks to their whereabouts? The ATM only allowed her to withdraw $300 a day, and to get it all, that would take a little over 13 days. They'd be sure to leave a trail, and as Max said the day before, they had to disappear without a trace.

"Do you have your key?"

Max's voice tore her from her latest runaway thoughts. "Pardon?"

"Your key? We can't stand out here all day. I don't think the hotel people would appreciate us having a carpet picnic in their hallway."

She laughed. "Probably not." To free her arms, she handed him her bags. Then, she dug in her pockets. "Oh-oh. I must have left it in the room."

The smile he returned clearly said he'd made the same mistake. Not that she was worried. He was Max, after all, and helpful to have around in a situation such as this.

"You can open it, right?"

"Well..."

But she never got to hear what he was going to say. Max's eyes had focused just over her shoulder, and Liz turned to see someone was coming down the hall. Not only that, but she recognized him. It was the maintenance kid that helped her the night before. Perfect!

"Trouble with your door again, Liz?"

"Sort of. We left our keys in the room."

"It's always something with you," Mark teased, shaking his head and chuckling.

"Who the hell are you?"

Liz's head jolted in Max's direction, her smile fading. His narrowed eyes had turned cold, and were focused suspiciously on the new arrival.

Mark's eyes widened marginally, but his tone was still friendly. "Name's Mark. I work here."

Max's lip curled.

"He helped me with the door last night," she told Max, casting an apologetic smile at the blond boy. "I was having trouble getting it open."

"Funny," he said, turning the same suspicious eyes on her. "I didn't have any problems."

Liz blinked in surprise. Max's eyes seemed to be searching her face, as though he believed she could be lying to him. When had she ever given him any reason to doubt her? she wondered, hurt beyond words.

"Did you want me to open your door?"

She nodded at the boy mutely, fighting back the sting of tears. He looked confused. Liz could sympathize.

Master key in hand, he stepped forward, but retreated again when Max made no move to step aside. "Uh...excuse me."

A slow smile spread across Max's face, but it wasn't what Liz would call friendly. In fact, the glint of steel she saw in his eyes made a chill crawl up her spine. "Oh please, be my guest," he said, taking one step back and motioning to the door with exaggerated politeness.

The boy hesitated, looking uneasy. Clearing his throat, he approached the door. Max had him rattled, she realized, when he had trouble getting the key into the slot, but she didn't blame him; she would be too, with the way Max was practically hovering over him. Only five seconds or so passed before the key slid into place, but it felt like hours to Liz.

"There you go," Mark said, stepping back quickly.

Liz gave him a grateful, albeit weak, smile. "Thank you," she said quietly.

He shrugged. "Just doing my job."

Max looked unimpressed. "I thought your job would be more along the lines of fixing broken coolers, and unclogging toilets?"

"That too," he admitted, blushing.

"Probably been elbow deep in shit all day," Max remarked, sneering.

"Max!" Liz gasped, her jaw dropping. "What has gotten into you?"

"What?" he asked innocently. "I was going to shake his hand for helping out, but..." he paused, eyeing Mark in distaste, "can you really blame me for being skeptical about his hygiene?"

The boy's blush spread to the roots of his fair hair. "Really, it's okay."

"Fine," Max said, still speaking to Liz. "If you want me to shake his hand, I'll shake his hand, but don't blame me when I get hepatitus." He turned to Mark and held out his hand. "Here."

Mark eyed Max's hand as if taking it were the last thing he wanted to do. Max's eyebrows raised, as though now daring him to take it - or maybe daring him not to take it. Liz couldn't be sure; either way, she found herself questioning his motivation.

Still looking doubtful, Mark slowly raised his hand. Max met him half-way, clutching it in mid-extension.

Only too late did Liz realize his intentions. "No," she breathed, her throat closing over from disbelief.

The orange-yellow glow appeared immediately, shining through their skins as though they held a light bulb between them. Mark's eyes widened, his teeth clenched.

"Thanks for your generosity," Max told him, his voice ringing with insincerely.

Sweat appeared on Mark's thin upper lip. He was fighting to pull his hand back, but Max's grip was painfully tight.

"Max, stop it!"

"Jesus, man! Get off!"

But he didn't. Eyes aglow, Max maintained his hold, failing to release him even when the sickening sound of cracking bones filled the hall.

Liz thought she may throw up. "Stop it!" she repeated, dropping her bags. She closed the gap between them and slapped Max's arm. "Leave him alone!" But even when the slaps became consistent, he wouldn't let go.

Only when he was on his knees, did Max finally release him.

"Christ! You broke my hand!" Mark gasped, drawing the limp limb to his chest.

Liz whirled on Max. "How could you?" she demanded, feeling tears break free from her eyes. His hard face instantly softened, and he reached out his arms for her.

"Liz, I..."

"No! Don't touch me!" she cried, shoving him away. Then, turning her back on him, she dropped to Mark's side. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry." She reached under his arm. "Come on, we need to call you an ambulance."

Sparing one more pained look in Max's direction, she helped Mark rise to his feet and led him down the hall.

TBC***

[ edited 4 time(s), last at 18-Apr-2002 1:03:15 AM ]
posted on 15-Feb-2002 10:08:57 PM by Fehrbaby
Title: Stoned
Author: Christina
E-mail: fehrbaby⊕hotmail.com
Distribution: If you want it, take it, just let me know
Disclaimer: I don't own, don't sue
Category: M/L
Rating: NC-17

Part 11

Max hadn't followed Liz to the front desk, and she was glad of it. She was too disgusted with him to look him in the face then. Just remembering the cold look in his eyes as he'd brought Mark to his knees was enough to make her want to retch.

She sat with Mark in the lobby of the hotel for over twenty minutes before his brother arrived to take him to the hospital. She'd wanted to call an ambulance, but he had talked her out of it, explaining that he couldn't afford the expense.

"God knows what the hospital bill alone will be." He'd said the words lightly, but Liz had been devastated by the worry she'd seen in his eyes. He'd noticed and was quick to reassure her. "Don't worry, my insurance covers eighty-five percent, but I won't be able to work for a while. A job like mine kinda requires two good hands."

"Are you going to be able to afford that?"

"Well, I've been saving some money so I could get back to school next fall, but I guess I can wait another semester. I'll survive. I always do."


Torn, and a little nervous, her next question had been, "What about the cops? A-are you going to call them?"

He'd given her a long, measuring look. "If I could, I would." And then, after the curiosity in her eye, "I'm on probation for some stupid shit I did a couple of years ago. If my P.O. even gets wind that I was involved in anything, whether it was my fault or not, I go back to jail for three months."

"Oh," she'd replied awkwardly. What other response could she give to his admission? She did feel guilty, though, for the relief that flooded over her. No matter how much he deserved it, the idea of Max going to jail sickened her.

She walked with Mark to his brother's pick-up and watched them drive away. Then, with purposeful strides, she returned to the room she and Max were sharing. The door was slightly ajar when she arrived; good thing, seeing as how she still didn't have her key. Using the balls of both palms, she shoved it all the way open and stalked into the room.

Max, who had been waiting on the corner of the bed, jumped up, a string of apologies instantly spilling forth. "Liz, please, I..."

She flashed him a hard, meaningful look. "Max, I'm only going to say this once: I'm going to pack my things, and then you are going to take me back home."

The horror on his face was immediate. "No, Liz..."

"Fine, you don't want to take me home? Then I'll call my parents and have them come get me." She marched to the nightstand and dialed the hotel operator with her back turned to him.

"Holiday Inn," a man answered.

"Yes, I need to make a collect call. How would I do that?"

"Don't do this," Max pleaded from behind her.

The man gave her another extension to call for their automated service and she hung up the phone without thanking him. Stance rigid, she punched in the new numbers so recklessly that her nail bent backwards and broke. A soundless cry on her lips, she brought the finger to her mouth, sucking on it.

She listened to the computerized message, punching in more numbers when instructed, this time more delicately. She felt Max's presence directly behind her, even before his gentle hand touched on her arm. "Please, Liz. Don't do this," he said more forcefully. "I'm sorry, I fucked up, but..."

Slamming the phone down, she spun around. "You're damn right you did! What the hell were you thinking? Because of you, that poor guy has got a busted hand and could lose his job!"

"I know," he cried, "and I feel absolutely awful about what I've done. I don't know what happened. I was crazed. I just got so jealous..."

"Jealous? Max, there's a whole world of difference between getting jealous and turning into a homicidal maniac. You could go to jail for that little stunt."

"I know," he said miserably, his voice cracking. He sat back on the bed and put his hands in his palms. "D-did he call the police?"

"Not when I was with him," she admitted, but made it clear that it could be a different story at the hospital. There would be no police, Mark had made that clear, but she needed to see if Max still cared about the consequences of his actions.

With an entire body shudder, Max raised his head and pressed the tips of his fingers together. "I don't know what came over me," he said, and he looked scared vulnerable, and confused, like the world had spun on it's axis and he was still trying to catch his bearings. "I saw you talking to him, smiling at him, and I started wondering what it would do to me if I lost you again? Just that split second look inside myself made me go insane."

Liz watched him at length. There was no doubt in her mind that he was truly sorry for his actions, and seeing the raw anguish in his eyes abated some of her anger. But could she still go through with this, after what he'd done?

Her arms wrapped around her chest and she licked her dry lips. When she spoke, it was in a calmer voice. "Do you understand what the real problem is here, Max? You scared me. You've made me feel a lot of things in the last year: happy, loved, pained, betrayed, but never, ever fear. And seeing you out there, intentionally hurting that innocent kid out of jealousy...I was terrified."

The blood drained from Max's face. "Liz, you know I would never hurt you."

"That's the thing," she argued, her head shaking slowly, "for the first time, I didn't know. And that's what terrifies me. For a second back there, I felt like I didn't know you at all. I came on this trip to be with the person I loved, the one I trusted with my life, but after what happened out there," she gestured to the door, "I don't even know if I can feel safe with you anymore."

Max jumped up and approached her, desperation shining in his eyes. His warm palms cupped her cheeks, forcing her to look at him. "I know you have your doubts, but I assure you, I would kill myself before ever laying a finger on you. You're my entire life, Liz. You're the reason I get up in the morning, the reason I continue breathing when life seems so unbearable. If I don't have you, I don't have a reason to live."

The moisture that pooled in his eyes tore at her heart-strings, and the solitary tear that managed to slip free was almost her undoing. God, she wanted to believe him, to believe she'd be safe with him, to believe that the stranger she'd glimpsed in the hall was a brief uprising borne from insecurity. But if that were the case, what did that say about his faith in her? The look of suspicion she'd seen in his eyes earlier replayed in her mind, causing her chest to ache.

"I just don't know if it's the best idea, Max. I-I think we should go home."

"That's not a possibility for me anymore. I've said goodbye to that part of my life forever, and it's time to start over fresh." His hands dropped from her face and reached for her small fingers. His forehead came to rest against hers. "Please," he croaked, "tell me I won't have to do it alone."

Liz's stomach dropped to her feet. The thought never crossed her mind that Max wouldn't return with her. Up until that moment, she'd considered his going back to Roswell with her a given. But if he didn't return...

She swallowed hard as disquieting thoughts began to race through her mind. Could she return to that life? After what they'd shared? Yes, she was angry with him. Yes, for a moment she'd been terrified of what he was capable of. But, she had to ask herself, was she ready to live without him?

And more importantly, did she want to?

TBC in 11B

NOTE: Thanks for all the feedback, guys and gals! I was worried that no one would even read it since it's been so long, but I must say, it's nice to be missed.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 16-Feb-2002 9:03:47 AM ]
posted on 16-Feb-2002 9:14:13 AM by Fehrbaby
I know, sometimes even I surprise myself. I haven't been in the mood to write in so long and then I go along and post two parts of one story in 1 week, 1 part of another, and start an entirely new story that I think is my best writing so far (not that I plan to post it for a while). Looks like my writer's block may be going away! I hope so.

Thanks for the fb!

Christina*wink*
posted on 18-Apr-2002 1:01:11 AM by Fehrbaby
Title: Stoned
Author: Christina
E-mail: Fehraby⊕hotmail.com
Distribution: If you want it, take it, just let me know
Disclaimer: I don't own, don't sue
Category: M/L
Rating: NC-17.
Summary: No, not drugs. lol. After a mishap at the pod camber, Max comes out a changed man. His balance has shifted. He's more agressive and his self-gratuitous side has taken over. And what does he have on his mind? Or should I say who? (This is a challenge by Shelly2)

Part 11B

The day was as hot as it was oppressive.

Liz wiped a bead of sweat off the back of sticky her neck with her free hand, as she and Max sped down the highway in the open-aired jeep. Her other hand was clutched tightly by Max.

Placing her elbow on the door, Liz rest her head on her palm. Her eyes blurred, transforming the barren desert scenery to a wash of tans and occasional greens.

She reflected over the events of the morning, feeling confused, uneasy and mildly ashamed. Why had she caved so easily? She had always thought herself relatively independent, but when faced with the decision to lose Max forever, she'd caved like a paper house under the weight of a book. Was she really so much of a wimp that she'd rather jeopardize her principals than be alone?

Yes.

She couldn't shake the feeling that a life without Max would be no life at all. If she didn't have him, she spent all her time thinking of him, moping and miserable. She'd had a taste of that during the summer, and couldn't fathom an entire lifetime more, thank you! Been there, done that, would rather ingest insecticide before I doing it again.

"How about we go west?"

Shilding her eyes from the yellow-gold fist of light hovering above Max's head, Liz turned her head towards him. "What?"

Max glanced her way. "I was thinking we should go west. What do you think?"

"Sounds fine," she said blandly, not really caring. Did it really matter as long as she was with him? She glanced down at their locked hands before looking away. Max's grip was tight. Afraid she would change her mind if he let her go, she figured. She snorted, a little disgusted with herself. No chance of that.

"What can we afford?" she asked, struggling for more enthusiasm.

Max's jaw tensed. "Not much," he admitted. "We've got almost two-hundred dollars left over, and like I said earlier, we'll need most of that for gas. The Jeep kind of guzzles it."

"What are we going to do to get more?"

Max glanced in the rearview mirror. "I don't know," he said quietly.

She bit her lip, hesitating. "Uh...there isn't any chance you can change the increments of that money we have, is there?"

"What do you mean?"

"You know, change ones to twenties, fifties, or even hundreds?"

He looked away. "No."

"Oh," she said, disappointed. "It was just an idea. You know, with your ability to manipulate molecular structures it seemed plausible," she mumbled lamely.

Max shifted, seemingly nervous. "Normally, I probably could. I don't really know because I never tried. Can't say I didn't think about it, though."

She raised an eyebrow. "Normally? As opposed to...?"

"My powers are just a little screwed up right now. I can't seem to control them. That's what I was trying to tell you when you asked about me opening the door at the hotel."

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "You sure had no trouble using them with Mark," she said sharply.

Max's head ducked sheepishly. "I know," he said. "But that didn't require control. I already said, I didn't do it because I wanted to, Liz. I lost control. I'm not sure why, but it only seems like I can use them when I'm emotionally charged."

"When did this start?" she said speculatively. It wasn't that she didn't believe him - in fact, she almost wanted to believe him; it would make it easier for her to forgive his actions it it were true he couldn't control his powers - but it didn't make sense. Max had never lost control of his powers before. What could have happened to cause this sudden change? "Max?" she urged, when he failed to respond.

"Yesterday. I didn't tell you this, because it didn't seem important, but before I came to your house last night, I went to the pod chamber with the others."

"Why?"

"We wanted to see if we could find any new developments. We've been so anxious about our enemies coming - expecting it - but nothing seems to have happened so far. We tried using the healing stones to see if they would tell us anything."

"Did they?"

"No," Max said, his voice lowering. But," he said, almost as an afterthought, "I felt different afterwards. I think they shifted something inside of me. And with it came this loss of control on my powers."

"Do you think they'll come back?"

He smiled and squeezed her hand. "I'm sure It's just a temporary thing. No worries."

Liz nodded, wondering if he felt as confident as he sounded. It was probably nothing, she told herself, and decided to get back to where the conversation had started.

"Where in the west did you have in mind?"

"That depends. Tell me, beautiful, how do you feel about camping?"

*****

"Mom! I'm home!"

At the sing-song call of her daughter, Diane Evans appeared in the kitchen, wearing a pleased smile. "Hi, honey. How was school?"

Isabel planted a kiss on her mother's cheek, always comforted by the scent of the Tea-Rose perfume that filled her nose. "Same as always, you know."

"That good, huh?" Diane rolled her eyes in amusement, the turned to close the open back door. "Oh, Alex!" she gasped, putting a hand to her chest. "I'm sorry, I didn't see you there."

Isabel waved him in, and he ventured inside the immaculate white kitchen with a polite smile. "Yeah, well I'm pretty easy to overlook," he joked, but there was nothing teasing about the resentful look he flashed in Isabel's direction.

"Don't be ridiculous," Diane replied, shaking her head. "Gosh, it's been so long since the last time I saw you. How have you been? How are your parents?"

"We're all doing great, thank you."

"I'm glad to hear it. So," Diane looked between them, "what have you two got planned? Big Friday night date?" she added hopefully.

Isabel felt heat rise to her cheeks. Her mom loved Alex. She couldn't count on two hands how many times her mother had asked why that "nice Alex boy" wasn't coming around anymore. "No, mom. We're just going to hang out, watch a movie, you know."

"Ah. And Alex, will you be staying for dinner?"

"Yes."

"No."

Their eyes met and Isabel gave him a tight, almost imperceptible nod.

He sighed soundlessly. "Yes, that would be great."

"Wonderful!" Diane beamed. She removed a rag from the sink and ran it over the already-spotless counter. "What about your brother?" she asked Isabel nonchalantly. "Will he be making an appearance."

Her stomach fluttered like a hummingbird's wings. Even before Max had run away, she always hated having to answer this question, and witnessing the sound of a mother's broken heart once she had. She forced a neutral expression. "I'm not sure. I think he said something about going camping again."

Diane's actions stilled. "Camping," she repeated quietly, her shoulders slumping fractionally. "Oh, of course."

Isabel bit her lip, her mother's crestfallen expression tearing at her insides. Damn Max, for putting her in this position! He'd been doing it all summer. And now he'd taken off for good, expecting her to pick up the pieces of their mother's shattered heart.

"Well." Diane cleared her throat. She put the rag back in the sink and retrieved her pocketbook from the kitchen table. "I'm off to the market right now," she announced with a forced smile. "Your father should be home soon." She placed a gentle hand on Alex's arm on the way out. "It really is good to see you around again, Alex. You should come by more often."

Not sure how to reply to that, Alex said nothing.

After Isabel's mother had left, an awkward silence descended. Isabel had no idea what they were supposed to do now. The plan was to wait for Maria's call, but until then, they were sitting ducks in what looked like extremely hostile waters. Alex stood with his hands burried in his pockets, scuffing his boots against the floor and taking a fascinating interest in the marble tile. Feeling like she was going to jump out of her skin if she didn't do something, Isabel opened the refrigerator door and pretended to study its contents.

"Um...would you like something to drink?"

"No."

She closed the door, and walked to the sink to peer out the window. The brick wall of the neighbor's house was the only view available, but she did her best to be fascinated by it. What to talk about? she thought, racking her brain for something to say to lighten the mood. "You know," she said, coming up with the first thing that came to her, "my mom likes you."

Alex's expression deadpanned. "Mom's usually do," he said. "A boy like me is every mother's dream." A wry smile. "Which instantly means their daughters just want to be friends."

"Alex." She turned completely, wanting to smooth things over, once and for all. "Look, about this summer..."

He held up his hands, halting her. "Hey, you don't owe me an explanation. I told you I'd be waiting if you needed me, and hey, you didn't, so whatever. No hard feelings."

"Right," she scoffed. "There were tons of hard feelings last night."

"Okay, true. But what do you expect?" he said calmly. "We spent the last year risking our lives for you people, people we considered friends, and in thanks, we were conveniently dropped like a bad habit. Until you need something from us, that is. You use us, plain and simple, and I am sick of being taken for granted."

Her mouth dropped. Was that what he really thought of them? Of her? She stood motionless for one long second, then rushed up to him, desperate to make him understand. "It isn't like that, Alex. It's because you've risked so much that we've stayed away! We are more grateful for your help than any of you can ever know. There's no way to repay all you've ever done for us. We just thought we'd start by giving you back the normal lives we robbed you of last year."

She held her breath as he weighed what she had said. Finally she saw some of the tension leave his face. "You mean the boring lives you robbed us of last year."

She smiled lightly. It was a start. "You know, boring is highly underrated. At least when your bored you know what's in store for you - safety, comfort, no unexpected, nasty little surprises. Tell you the truth, I'd give just about anything to be bored right now."

TBC***
posted on 18-Apr-2002 10:19:29 PM by Fehrbaby
Bumping because one of my fans couldn't find the story on the board! Thanks for all the fb everyone! I'll try to get the new part out sooner than before. Got something good planned for camping. *wink*

Christina