|posted on 23-Feb-2002 3:12:54 AM by ravrac|
|CATEGORY: (AU) Mostly M/L, with other couples involved as well.|
DISCLAIMER: I own none of the Roswell characters
RATING: Not more than PG13, if that
SUMMARY: Max and Liz meet in college. Liz and Tess are roommates. The rest will
be revealed as the story unfolds.
“Liz, I need a favor.”
“What is it this time, Tess?”
“Well, I was supposed to help a former classmate of mine do some catchup work in chemistry. But Kyle called. He’s coming to see me.”
“You know how much we care about each other. It’s the first time he’s been able to take the whole weekend off to come visit me.”
“So? What do you want, Tess? I’m aging here as we speak.”
“I know you were planning to go home this weekend but” --
“No, Tess. I’m not sacrificing another weekend for you.”
“Please, Liz. I’m begging you. I promise I’ll make it up to you .”
“Tess, how can you possibly make up a whole weekend? I know you think I’m just a geek, with nothing to think about but gettng good grades. Believe it or not, my family is important to me. And because of you, I missed seeing them several weekends last semester. I don’t plan to start this semester with the same M.O.
“I’m sorry, Liz. I know you’re right. But Kyle is the love of my life. I can’t explain it. I guess, when it comes to him, I have tunnel vision and can’t think of anyone else,” she said dreamily.
After some reflection, she continued, “You’re right, Liz. Your family is important to you, just like Kyle is important to me. But I’ve already imposed on you. I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I’ll just tell Kyle I have an appointment that I can’t change.”
“That reminds me. Why can’t you change your appointment? What makes your classmate so important you have to live your life around him or her?”
“Well, without breaking my agreement with him, let’s just say I’m obligated to help him get caught up.”
“That sounds a little ominous. What have you done, that he can wield so much control over your life? He’s not in the mafia or something, is he?” Liz asked with concern.
Realizing Liz was thinking in terms of something illegal, Tess hastened to correct her views without revealing her background or that of her classmate. “Oh, no, nothing like that. Let’s just say, because it’s our custom to ‘pay it forward,’ so to speak.”
“Oh, you mean like that movie? Because someone helped you make adjustments, it’s, like, a normal obligation to help someone else?”
“Something like that. But especially when it concerns one of my people.”
“Where are you from? You never have told me that.”
“Well, I guess it’s because, if people knew where I’m from, they’d hunt me down. And if I told you and they tried pumping you for information if I told you anything more, your life would be in danger. And I’ve come to care about you too much as a friend to put you
in danger like that.”
Liz had never seen Tess become so serious about any topic as she had just experienced, which surprised Liz and shocked her. Never having heard such an admission from her before, it occurred to Liz how little she really knew about Tess. Up to that point, she’d only ever thought of her as the stereotypical airhead, with a body to match.
But Tess’s words had touched her. She’d never thought of Tess as a friend, only as a bimbo who, because of her physical appearance, only had to bat her eyelashes (or
anything else), and the opposite sex was like putty in her hands.
Kyle was no exception. The ironic thing was that Liz had introduced them when she and Kyle were dating. At first, she wanted to desperately dislike Tess for stealing her boyfriend. The thing that surprised her most about the outcome was that she and Kyle got along much better as friends than as boyfriend and girlfriend. She found she much preferred that, because she didn’t have to “play dumb” anymore. Kyle now accepted her for who she was, not for the sex kitten he’d wanted her to be.
Surprisingly, although Tess could definitely fit the sex kitten role, she seemed to bring out a side of Kyle that Liz had never seen. Not knowing what had caused his transformation, she could only assume they really did love and respect each other.
On the one hand, Liz was so jealous of Tess’s relationship with Kyle -- not because of Kyle, but because they had found someone to share their lives with.
On the other hand, it warmed her heart to see that they seemed to deeply respect one another, as well as being in love. It was for that reason that Liz could never seem to say no to Tess, when it involved Kyle. She only hoped one day she’d be able to experience the kind of connection Tess and Kyle seemed to share.
Although it seemed to Liz that Tess had waited a very long time for a response, she’d only pondered the situation momentarily before speaking. “I don’t know why it is -- actually, I do know. Let’s face it. I’m a pushover when it comes to you and Kyle. You’ve both made each other so happy since you’ve been dating. I can only hope some day I’ll meet the love of my life. And I can only hope that we’ll care about one another as
much as you two obviously do.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but in the name of true love, I’m going to bail you out once again. Just remember, when I meet the love of my life, you’re going to owe me big time.”
“Oh, Liz, thanks so much. You can count on it.” And with that, she called Kyle to come get her. Within minutes, she was gone, and Liz was once again left holding the bag, although she knew it was by choice.
She also knew, if she had gone home, it would have been just another boring weekend. She loved her family dearly, but she desperately longed to feel needed by someone more intimately than her family. Her whole life, though, she’d only ever been viewed by her classmates as a mechanical brain, with no emotion. And since time and experience had taught her that she could escape the emotional pain of rejection through her books, she
had chosen to focus her energies on her education.
Over the years, she’d made a name for herself as “the brain,” because that was all she’d allowed people to see of her. But having witnessed Tess’s relationship blossom with Kyle, she was forced to rethink her priorities. She could only ponder the situation, though. After giving Tess the go-ahead to leave, she now had the task of calling her family to let them know that for yet another weekend, she would not be coming home.
Of course, she could have called from her room but, being the brain that she was, she’d already spent most of her life there. This time, she decided to actually venture out and use a pay phone, which really would be better anyway. That way, she could legitimately keep the conversation brief , knowing that finances were a big concern for her family.
As she looked at her watch, she realized she better get going. Tess’s classmate was due to be there in the next half hour or so.
An hour later, Max sat on the floor, leaned up against the door of the room number Tess had given him. He was certain he had the right number. He’d written it down and then verified it with Tess. It had been a long time since he and Tess had gone to school together. Their families were very close. So they’d practically grown up together -- that is, until the time had come that the people of Antar realized it would be necessary to send some of their royal youth to Earth. The ultimate goal was to send their king’s son. But when the time had come, it had been decided Max would stay behind for a while. His father had been ill. It was uncertain, if Max left with Tess, he would be able to return in time if his father took a turn for the worse.
As it turned out, Max’s father did die shortly after Tess had left. The initial plan was for Max and Tess to go together. After all, they were betrothed. The purpose of their trip to Earth was ultimately to study the chemistry makeup of it, with the hope that they would
possibly find a cure for the disease that was dessimating the population of Antar. If a cure was not found soon, there would be no one left. The unknown scourge had already taken the life of Max’s father. His mother had not yet been affected, but it was uncertain whether her health would continue.
As Max’s thoughts came back to his reason for being on Earth, he was again reminded of Tess. She’d only been gone about six months. But since her departure, her
communications had become fewer, with time elapses in between increasing.
Part of him was uneasy about the lack of communication. When Tess had been on Antar,
she’d followed him around like a little Antarian puppy, which at the time had really annoyed him. He knew, according to Antarian law, it was expected, when he and Tess were of age, they would marry. The concept of love had never entered the picture. For generations, it had been the custom that the children of the two highest-ranking families would marry to carry on the Antarian way of life. That was all Max had known. Tess
had been reared with the same background, both knowing they were being groomed to fulfill their destinies.
But their heritage had never taken into consideration that family members would die before that time. There was also the fact that, in Max’s case, his father had died before completing Max’s training to become the king of Antar. And although he now had that title, he could not help but sense that something was missing in his life. Number one, his father had not completed his training on how to develop the Antarian bond with Tess that he was expected to have as king.
By the Antarian timetable, they should have married in the past few months, because Tess had finally come of age (she was five years Max’s junior). But because of the scourge that had swept through the planet, as well as the illness and death of Max’s father, it had been decided to postpone the ceremony, since the primary concern at this point was to preserve the life of the entire planet. The concern of carrying on Antarian custom had been put further back in importance as the scourge had worsened.
He knew he didn’t love Tess but, being the well-bred king he was, he knew it was expected for him to bond with her. The problem was, he didn’t know how. He had heard stories and had even seen examples of people who did not follow the customary tradition -- such as his sister Isabel and his good friend Michael. Somehow, though, he had thought that to deny the tradition was to show disrespect for his heritage. But now, as he
waited patiently for Tess, his heart seemed to be awakening in him emotions he had never experienced, that is, before coming to Earth.
Max remained seated on the floor for several minutes, in deep contemplation, until a voice abruptly interrupted his thoughts.
“May I help you?”
Max looked up in the direction of the voice and was drawn to the most beautiful brown eyes he’d ever seen. He stood up unconsciously, not realizing he was looking at Liz as if she had three heads.
As the young man looked at Liz as if she had three heads, she felt like crying. This must be the jock Tess had stood up, she thought to herself. He hasn’t even met me yet, and he’s already comparing my lack of assets with Tess’s bounteous ones.
Realizing he’d been staring, he caught himself and finally spoke. “I’m waiting for Tess. I’m sorry. I must have written down the wrong room number.”
“No, you didn’t. But she’s not here.”
“No, you don’t understand. She’s expecting me. She’s supposed to help me” --
“Yes, I know.”
“How do you know?”
“I’m her roommate.
“She had something come up at the last minute and asked me to apologize for her.”
“When’s she coming back?”
“Not until Sunday.”
Knowing how Tess had always followed him around before, Max was confused at the apparent change in behavior. For several seconds he just stood there, staring into space, or so it seemed to Liz.
Not knowing the reason behind his apparent stupor, Liz couldn’t help but wonder how it was that Tess was able to have so many young men fall under her spell. Kyle, she could understand, since she knew enough about him to know that Tess and he were two of a kind, both attracted by physical appearance. But she had to admit, their relationship, unlike so many she’d seen over the years, really seemed genuine.
But this young man before her just didn’t seem to be the type that would go for someone like Tess, not to mention the fact that he looked to be at least a few years older than Tess. Of course, with her lack of experience in the area of relationships, who was she to say who would be whose type. She herself didn’t really know the type that she was interested in, having lived a life so focused on books and not on human behavior.
But somehow, as she stood there dwelling on the wonders of human nature, she couldn’t help but imagine and wish that someone like this young man would go for someone like her.
Meanwhile, Max had been off in a dream world of his own. His first thought was that of confusion with Tess’s apparent lack of consideration for him. But the more he thought about it, he realized it wasn’t so much confusion as it was shock that the time had arrived that Tess no longer seemed concerned about the idea of being at Max’s beck and call. On Antar, he’d always accepted the thought that, even though he didn’t care for Tess, he knew she obviously cared for him. He’d never really considered things from Tess’s point of view, that of knowing he didn’t love her, but was only betrothed to her out of duty. For the first time, he was getting a taste of how Tess must have felt all those years, hoping
that one day he’d love her as much as she loved him.
As he continued in this train of thought, he remembered this young woman before him had said something about something coming up at the last minute. Somehow, he knew Tess well enough to know it wasn’t her style to let something interfere with spending time with him, unless........
“This something coming up didn’t happen to be in the form of a young man, did it?”
Startled out of her daydream, Liz reacted. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”
“Did this last-minute something have anything to do with a young man?”
Not sure where he was going with his question, Liz cautiously answered, “Would that be a bad thing?”
Having only been on Earth a short time, Max hadn’t interacted with many humans. So he wasn’t familiar yet with their method of communication. But something in this young woman’s expression told him she was uncertain as to how she should respond, out of --
was it fear he sensed from her? He didn’t know why, but something within him made him want to protect her from that fear.
So he responded, “No, not at all. If that’s what it is, I’m not mad, just a little surprised. But in a way, I’m also relieved.”
Somehow, that wasn’t the response Liz had expected. “Well, in that case, yes, it did involve a young man, a friend of mine, in fact.”
“And that doesn’t bother you?”
“Why should it? We’re just friends.”
“Where Tess and I come from, things are different. We” -- suddenly, Max realized he’d already said too much, and broke off abruptly.
By her response, he could tell Tess had not told her much about Antar, if anything at all. So he decided he could tell her perhaps half a truth.
“Well, it will probably sound backward, but our families arranged for us to be together when we’re both of age.”
“You mean, as in marriage?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
“No, I can honestly say Tess never mentioned that to me.” Liz couldn’t help but wonder, if this young man were Tess’s betrothed, what was she thinking, dating Kyle? Was she nuts? Just talking with this young man was enough to curl her toes. She couldn’t help but wonder, though, why Max wasn’t upset with Tess. So without taking time to think, she just blurted out her question. “At the risk of sounding like a busybody, why aren’t you upset with her?”
Not sure how to respond to such a direct question, Max pondered for a moment. “Well, I’m not at liberty to go into detail. Let’s just say there were some personal issues we hadn’t been able to resolve.” Something within him ached to tell her his whole story. But he didn’t trust his limited knowledge of humans well enough yet to know whether it was the right thing to do.
“That’s fair. It’s really none of my business. It’s just that I have a curious nature. I guess that’s why I enjoy biology and chemistry so much.”
At this innocent admission, Max’s ears perked up. “If that’s true, maybe you could help me with something.”
Although knowing she’d told Tess she would help her classmate, somehow she didn’t want to divulge this minor detail, not wanting to give the impression she was easily manipulated, especially to this young man she’d only met minutes ago.
“You see, the reason I was supposed to see Tess in the first place was for her to help me catch up in at least chemistry. I know it’s really presumptuous of me to ask, but would you be willing to help me instead?”
Not wanting to sound too eager, Liz paused before answering. “Well,” she finally said, “as a matter of fact, I just had my plans for the evening cancelled. So it just so happens my evening is free.” There was no way she was going to admit she’d just cancelled her entire weekend to do Tess a favor.
“Oh, that would be great. You have no idea how grateful I am. I know it seems impatient of me not to want to wait for Tess. It’s just that I have so much catching up to do.”
“It’s so refreshing to have someone else say that besides me.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, nothing,” Liz said. All she needed was for this guy to think she was a geek, because she actually liked to study.
Instead, she said, “So, shall we get started?”
“Yeah, I’d like that. There’s one question I need to ask first.”
“Yes?” she said apprehensively.
“What’s your name?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I completely forgot to introduce myself. I’m Liz Parker.”
“I’m Max. I’m pleased to meet you.
“Okay. Now I’m ready.”