posted on 28-Feb-2002 1:51:04 PM by Dark Ilk
A Walk To Remember

1-1-4
Banner credits to talena

Prologue: Pg 1
Pt 1: Pg 2;
Pt 2: Pg 4;
Pt 3: Pg 4;
Pt 4: Pg 6;
Pt 5: Pg 7;
Pt 6: Pg 11;
Pt 7: Pg 12 (added 21/04);
Pt 8: Pg 14 (added 26/04);
Pt 9: Pg 17 (added 11/05);
Pt 10: Pg 19 (added 17/05);
Pt 11: Pg 20 (added 22/05);
Pt 12a: Pg 23 (added 30/05);
Pt 12b: Pg 24 (added 30/05);
Pt 13: Pg 25 (added 05/06);
Pt 14: Pg 27 (added 11/06);
Pt 15: Pg 30 (added 26/06);
Pt 16: Pg 35 (added 03/08);
Pt 17: Pg 42 (added 08/09);
Pt 18: Pg 45 (added 29/10);
Pt 19: Pg 47 (added 05/11);

Summary: M/L AU – Max’s perspective. This is a Roswell version of the book “A Walk To Remember”. I just totally fell in love with the story when I read it. It was so beautiful and I just utterly saw Max and Liz in the roles. Just a quick summary: Liz is the daughter of a small town’s minister. A “geek” with a heart of gold, she is ostracized by most of her peers, including Max. Not going to give too much away, but other than the starting, most intermediary events differ quite significantly. Do leave me feedback so that I know if you want me to continue writing it.

Disclaimer: Max, Liz and the Roswell characters are property of UPN and Fox. The story is based on the book of the same title, by Nicholas Sparks.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Prologue

Do you believe in miracles?

I sometimes wonder about that myself. This was a question that was always on the back of my mind, but one I never seriously pondered until I hit seventeen. When I was seventeen, my life changed forever.

I know you’re snickering when you hear me say this. What could he have possibly have gone through as a seventeen-year-old that could change his life? That’s what you’re probably thinking. I guess if I hadn’t lived it, I’d probably be right there beside you snickering at me. But then again, I did live it, so I’ll have to graciously disagree.

Despite the fact that I’m now at the ripe old age of fifty-seven; despite the passage of forty years, the people still living here who knew me that year accept my lack of explanation without question. Why could they do that, you might ask. Well, I suppose it wouldn’t be too far off to say that it was something all of us lived through. I was, however, the one closest to it.

Everything that happened then seems so long ago, and at the same time, it seems like it only happened yesterday. It’s strangely joyous and painful to think of those times. There are moments when I think that if I could just take them out, that everything would hurt a little less, and I can make the sadness go away. But if I do that, the happiness goes too. So I just let them wash over me, all of it. Let them guide me where they may. And this happens more often than I let on.

It is February 12, 2002 and the sky is overcast when I leave the house. The biting wind ensured that I was trussed up in at least two jackets. That winter was surprisingly more nippy than usual, but then again, this wasn’t the first winter I’d encountered that so chilled me to the bone. The weather of forty years ago was more biting, more so in fact. But more on that later on.

I close my eyes and I can almost hear the sounds of the dried leaves then on the driveway whisk by in a hurry, carried on the rising current of air. The memory of Betsy and Mike – the neighbour’s kids from across the road – as they race by on their bikes, trying to beating each other to the house brings a wistful smile to my lips, as do their innocent, childish laughter. Swallowing a lump that has suddenly developed in my throat at the memories of two other young innocent lives that year, I feel the years begin to move backwards, like the hands of a clock rotating in the wrong direction.

As if through someone else’s eyes, I feel myself grow younger. Lessons I’ve learnt with age dim, and I welcome the return of my innocence. I open my eyes and I know exactly who I am.

My name is Maxwell Philip Evans, and I am seventeen years old.

This is my story. First, you will smile, and then you will cry – don’t say you haven’t been warned.


[ edited 69time(s), last at 1-Dec-2002 9:32:12 AM ]
posted on 28-Feb-2002 10:09:40 PM by Dark Ilk
Wow!! Thanks for the input so far everyone. My first attempt at writing a fic, so wasn't too ambitious to write a whole new story. Loved the story when I read it and just wanted to give it a Roswellian twist.

I haven't watched the movie starring Shane West and Mandy Moore yet as it's only "Coming soon to a cinema near you..." over here in Singapore, so I don't know what ending they adopted. I definitely know what ending I have in mind, and am working on ironing out the kinks in the next part. The good news: I should be able to post the next part in about 2 days' time at the latest. So do behr *wink* with me okay?

Thanks to everyone in advance and do continue leaving your feedback so that I'll know whether to continue writing. I'm trying to keep one step ahead in posting the parts, but still open to suggestions as to how you'd like me to proceed. The ending's set in stone for me, and the ideas for the next few parts have been tentatively set, but all views in between are welcome!

As for the all important question as to the ending, I definitely will NOT say whether it ends for the better or the worse. Just suffice to say that all you Dreamers hang in there!! I'm a Dreamer too, but the way the story was written, it just so described Max and Liz so beautifully.

*tongue**tongue* LOL, did I just so NOT confuse you as to how the ending would be? I know, I know, I'm an *evil* little silly alien.

Okay, gonna get back to writing the story so that I can post the next part.

Again, thanks to everyone! *happy*
posted on 28-Feb-2002 11:33:47 PM by Dark Ilk
Okay, I was sssooo intending to keep this till tomorrow when I would have the 2nd part drafted out as well, but you guys are an inspiration.

*big**big* okay, so I'm supposed to be working on an IT ssignment while I download Chant Down Babylon, but saw the feedback from everyone and figured I'd do the final tweaks and post the 1st part of this little adapted tale with a twist including our fav Roswellians.

A little patience needed: This story's written in more or less Max's perspective. Liz doesn't appear this part, but fret not. I promise she'll appear in Part 2. Now, I apologize if it's a short part. I did this at 3am in the morning. OK, I'm blabbering. *Shut up sill alien and get on with it will you?* *big**tongue* *Drumroll* and now presenting... the official start:

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 1

1958 – Beaufort, North Carolina

“Okay, who’s the wiseass who claimed that drama class was an utter blowoff?”

Okay, I know that isn’t supposed to be the way a Congressman’s son speaks to people, but then again, I’m not talking to just anyone. I’m talking to Michael Guerin, captain of the basketball team… he’s 6”1’ and cuts an intimidating figure when he rips across the court for a layup. Definitely not someone you’d expect to call a ‘wiseass’ and expect to be allowed to live, but then again, he’s supposed to be my best friend.

This is the thing you’ve got to know about Michael. He’s my best friend since sixth grade, so that’s like… forever. Really, I mean it. He really is my best bud. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t stick it to me any opportunity he gets. It’s like he loves to see me squirm, but then again, the guy does score a few good points (no pun intended) with me.

We’d hang together and heckle old Hegbert – that’s Hegbert Parker, a minister who so old you can almost see right through the guy’s skin; downright creepy if you ask me. I tell you, those were the best times of our lives, ticking the old man off. You should listen to his sermons. If it wasn’t the people who did wrong to the environment, it was the ones who shot the “poor defenceless” creatures in the ocean, or those who flouted any of the Lord’s Ten Commandments. It really gets his moral fiber raised to personally take it upon his shoulders to persecute “all of Earth’s sinners”, as he so gleefully reminds us all.

I mean, I don’t mean disrespect and I do indeed believe these to be serious issues, but somehow, sitting in the pew listening to Old Man Hegbert go through his sermon, swinging his arms wildly to emphasize his point just puts us in stitches. And of course, his favorite: the fornicators. If they were two steps away from the very pits of hell, he’d claim oh so righteously that there was no other sin that could squeeze between the two.

There, Michael and I would be clapping our hands over our mouths, desperately trying to stifles our guffaws, and Hegbert (we would never dare call him that to his face) would always be able to pick us out of the entire church-going crowd to shoot us an ugly glare to try to silence us. Try, being the operative word here.

Now, I would have probably left him well and alone if not for Michael. Being the boys that we were, Michael would convince me that we had to “bug the bugger” even further and we’d hide behind trees whenever we see him coming, and shout “Hegbert is a fornicator!”, then giggle like idiots like we’d outwitted the smartest being on the earth.

You should see his reaction. One moment he’s walking briskly along the path, his shoes clicking smartly on the gravel, the next, utter silence as he stops dead in his tracks, his head swinging from side to side like some medieval predator seeking its prey. His face would change to a shade of red that reminds me of a freshly boiled lobster – I can just imagine him looking up at me with his beady lobster eyes and saying “Bite me”. His eyes become almost bloodshot as he glares fiercely around at the surrounding trees, his eyes almost popping out of his head as he fails to catch sight of any hapless victim.

He never catches actual sight of us, but somehow, he always zeroes in on the general location of where we are. He’d be turning from side to side too, then he’d stop, those beady eyes coming right at us, right through the trees.

“I know who you are, Max Evans,” he’d say, “and the Lord knows too.” He’d let that sink in for a moment before resuming his brisk pace. And there Michael and I would crouch in the foliage, stifling a fresh attack of giggles.

But I digress from the matter at hand.

I’m upset. With Michael. For convincing me to sign up for drama class.

Okay, so it seemed like a good idea when he'd reasoned with me at the time, especially when compared to Chemistry class. I mean, which would you choose: a class with no papers, no tests, no tables where I’d have to memorize neutrons, protons and balance equations and formulae, no experiments that can literally blow up in my face… or one with all of the above? A no-brainer I tell you. Until now, that is.

“What’s up Maxwell?” Michael drawls lazily, using my full name that he knows totally riles me further when I’m pissed. He’s sprawled on his back on the grass lawn outside school with his girl Maria DeLuca resting her head on his stomach as he twirls strands of her hair between his fingers.

“How did you convince me that drama was a good idea?”

“What’s the problem dude?” This is, of course, as he yawns loudly, stretching languorously before settling back again, looking for all the world like a satisfied tabby that’s had its share of canaries for the day.

Can he get any more irritating?

“There are only two guys, count that,” I tick off on my fingers, “One, two guys in Miss Garber’s drama class. You know what that means?” My voice is increasingly rising in annoyance as he still doesn’t seem to realize the gravity of my situation.

“Pray tell, Maxwell.”

Did I mention that I hate when Michael calls me by that name?

“The problem, Mikey G” calling him by the pet name I know only Maria uses on him when she’s just about to unleash her absolute fury on him, “is that when it comes to all the backstage work and props, guess who will have to cover that? Yeah, that’s right. Me. Me… and Dennis, if you can actually count him as help.”

By the way, this other guy happens to be Dennis Lewy, an utter klutz who should be banned from any area that has movable parts. It is that bad, trust me. Not only is he allergic to any, and I do mean any, dirt or dust particle, he will probably land me in the hospital for serious and grievous hurt… again.

How is this so? I see a short history lesson is in order.

Last year, I was helping Michael out as a favor to shift equipment out of the basketball store when Dennis happened to be passing through the gym on his way home. Michael was off on the track for practice and I had been struggling to hold on to a precariously balanced trolley of weights and basketballs. Yeah, yeah, I can just see you chortling on your laughter, but I kid you not!

Anyway, Dennis had managed to, in his ‘kind’ attempt to help me, unbalance the entire trolley, bringing the full brunt of the weights on my toes and the balls to hit me in… let’s just say, in areas that would have troubled my father to know that the male lineage in the Evans’ political legacy could have progressed no further than my generation.

Thankfully, by some minor miracle, no major injury was sustained and my Dad did not have to be troubled with that thought.

Anyway, the point of the matter: I was effectively done in for drama class!

“Max, I have a question.” This is Maria speaking as she raises her head slightly off Michael’s stomach, squinching her eyes as she looks up at me against the sunlight.

I cock an eyebrow, head tilting to one side as I look down at her, awaiting her question.

“How many people are there in drama class?”

Now, you have to know that Beaufort High School wasn’t large, but it was split pretty much fifty-fifty between the guys and the girls, and Maria’s questions just suddenly reminded me that drama class was awfully skewed.

Come to think of it, it was at least ninety percent female.

Suddenly, my scowl begins to lift as the possibilities present themselves. Hey, what can I say? I am a seventeen-year-old boy. Girls, girls, girls… I am suddenly feeling like I’m the king of the world. *wink**wink*

Seeing my gaze take on a faraway look, Michael smirks a knowing grin at Maria and blows her a thank-you kiss as I settle down on the grass beside them, a small smile playing upon my lips.

Mulling through this recently acquired perspective, I come to the conclusion that every cloud has its silver lining. Hmm, this may just be an interesting class afterall.

~*~*~*~*~*~

TBC?

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Jun-2002 2:29:34 AM ]
posted on 1-Mar-2002 11:49:00 AM by Dark Ilk
Wow!! Really glad to see the feedback from everyone!! It's been a tiring day trying to finish my IT assignment and wasn't sure of the response to expect for the 1st part since I followed closely to the prologue of the book.

Have taken a breather from my assignment as I need to check further info with collegues tomorrow. So I'm taking the excuse to currently work on the 2nd part and am keeping my fingers crossed to finish as much of it as possible before my Saturday morning classes. Otherwise, the next part may be further delayed when my term starts next week. Hope you'll all behr *wink* with me a little.

Still, your kind words are a soothing balm and further inspiration to continue the next part.

As a thank-you gesture, here's a little spoiler for the next part: there'll be a little history about Max and general perceptions of him that will raise an eyebrow or two. *wink**big* ... oh, and Liz makes her appearance!!

Okay, so I guess that was 2 spoilers!! *tongue*

Thanks for the feedback again everyone! *happy*
posted on 2-Mar-2002 6:20:46 AM by Dark Ilk
Do I take it no one's interested anymore? *sad**sad*

Am working on the 2nd part, but seems like everyone disappeared?

Nevermind, *silly alien takes a deep breath to comfort herself*

I'll post the next part soon, hopefully within the weekend (I'm in the process of moving my stuff into hall). But are you all still interested for me to continue after that?

*silly alien ponders on... and on... and on... and on...
posted on 3-Mar-2002 11:18:24 AM by Dark Ilk
To the feedback: thanks again. Will be posting the new part within the next day hopefully. Part's been written, but need to double check through that I have things right to carry through for subsequent events.

To answer nirvana's question: the starting prologue followed pretty closely. For the 1st part, the outcome follows the book, but the process has been given a Roswellian twist. I haven't planned too far ahead, but insofar where it is possible, I aim to produce a similar outcome, but using a different process. Hopefully, this will give readers of the book some variation, while the first-time readers will have a close followup to the original storyline even if the process is different.

Bear with me until then?

Thanks again.
posted on 3-Mar-2002 11:21:13 AM by Dark Ilk
Okay. So I managed to run through my final edit on this part faster than expected.

Thanks to everyone again for their patience, and do remember to leave feedback.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 2

“Glad you could join us Mr. Evans. So sorry we had to inconvenience your sleeping schedule for this.”

Alright, so I might have been a little hasty in saying the class would be an interesting. But can I just say “huh?”

What’s with the underlying sarcasm? It’s only the third day of drama class, and trust me when I say that the day isn’t starting out the way I was expecting it to. I was a little tardy, but managed to sneak into the back of the class when Miss Garber – you remember her – was busy writing something on the board. I thought she hadn’t realized I was late, but apparently I was wrong.

Hey, give a guy a break. I’d just been through a load of crap yesterday, damn near got my arm broken by a lug called Sean Hunter, overslept today and woke up still feeling the soreness in my arm. What happened, you ask. Erm… I don’t really think now is a good time to get into it, not when Miss Garber’s currently looking at me with a supremely annoyed expression on her face.

Look, just because I’m a Congressman’s son doesn’t mean that I’m a saint. But by the same token, I’m no devil either. Granted, my dad wasn’t around all that much when I was growing up – what with his political obligations and all – but I still had a loving mother and sister, both of whom I was close to and who affected their social graces upon me. Admittedly, the lack of a consistent, positive male influence early on still had its impact.

Somewhat a rebel from a young age – abetted of course by a certain Michael Guerin – we’d sneak out late and soap up car windows or eat boiled peanuts in the graveyard behind the church. Remember that this is in the fifties where parents frown upon such “unbecoming behavior”.

“Mark my words, that Evans boy won’t come to any good end. You don’t take after him you hear?” the grown-ups would whisper to their kids when they think I don’t hear them passing me by on the streets.

Me. A bad boy. Because of soapy windows and boiled peanuts. Can you just see my eyeballs rolling up in exasperation? Go figure the logic of it all.

Well, doesn’t seem like Miss Garber holds an opinion too far off from these adults I’ve just told you about.

“Sorry. I, erm… I-I was…”

Great, now I’m not only an arrogant no-gooder, I’m also a stutter.

Fortunately – or unfortunately depending on your point of view of later events – her attention was diverted from me just then. Turns out I wasn’t the latest to get to class.

The hurried pitter-patter of shoes as they stopped just outside the class was followed by a gentle rap on the door before opening to admit… oh my God!! Say it isn’t so!!

“I’m so sorry for being late, Miss Garber. I-I was detained by D… I was delayed and could come no earlier.” Her voice was slightly breathless, one hand clutching a well-worn Bible to her chest as the other struggled to smoothen her long brown skirt and like-colored cardigan. Her hair was pulled back in a tight bun, and she pushed nervously at a pair of black spectacles perched precariously on her bridge. There was a pinkish tint to her cheeks brought about probably by rushing from her previous destination. I could be mistaken, but I thought her eyes shone brightly for an instant when she turned to shut the door and our eyes collided.

Nah, my eyes must have been mistaken because in the very next instant, she looked away with an indifferent air to focus on Miss Garber standing in front of the class.

Allow me the honor of introductions. Ladies and gentlemen, standing just inside the doorway of the class was Liz Parker, the only daughter of old Hegbert. Yes, you got that right. Daughter of the one and only Minister Hegbert Parker; he who has deemed me a sinner right alongside those unforgivable fornicators. If Liz is in this class, then that can only mean one thing: she’s gonna be my angel!!

Wait a minute. That didn’t come out right. Let me clarify.

Every year at Christmas, the seniors of Beaufort High School put on The Christmas Angel .

It’s a local play, basically about a man who’s lost his wife, and in the process, his religious faith as well when she died in childbirth. Tom Thornton – that’s the character’s name – has been raising his little girl all by himself. He hasn’t been a fantastic father, and what the little girl wants for Christmas is a special music box with an angel engraved on top, a picture of which she’d cut from an old catalog. In an attempt to fulfill his daughter’s wish, the guy searches high and low for the gift, but he just cannot locate it.

Come Christmas Eve and he’s still carrying on his search. Just when he’s fretting about never finding the music box and disappointing his child, he comes across a strange woman who promises to help him find the gift for daughter… in return for a few acts of kindness. These include helping this homeless person, and stopping by an orphanage to see the kids, then to visit a lonely, old lady who just wants some company on Christmas Eve.

The strange woman then asks Tom what he wants for Christmas. When he replies that he wants his wife back, she brings him to the city fountain, telling him that he will find what he’s looking for when he looks into the water. This he does, only to break down into tears when he sees the reflection of his little girl. By the time he gathers his wits, the woman has disappeared and he tries in vain to look for her.

Disbelievingly, he makes his way home, pondering the events of this past night. When he checks in on his daughter, it suddenly dawns on him that she’s all he has left of his wife. He is assailed by a fresh bout of tears when he realizes he hasn’t been a very good father to her. The next morning, magically, the music box is under the tree and the angel, lo and behold, looks exactly like the woman he’d seen the night before.

It’s a pretty decent original play really, even heartwarming if I do say so. And every year since it started to play, it’s been to sell-out crowds and the audience – especially the females – cry buckets of tears.

And this is where you have to suspend your disbelief for a moment: old Hegbert wrote it. Yes, yes, the one who swears to roast all evildoers by their entrails in the underbelly caverns of Hell. It’s not all that surprising really if you’ve lived in Beaufort all your life. You see, the play: it’s based on real life. In fact, it’s based on the very lives of the Parkers.

I’ve pretty much known Liz Parker all my life, and I’ve heard the tales carried through the gossipmongers of the town on how her mum miscarried several times before dying giving birth to her, making old Hegbert a widower who had to raise a daughter on his own. Hence, the story behind the play.

The old geezer wanted young people to perform the play – seniors in high school specifically. I guess he figures it would be a good experience before we headed off to college and encountered his much-detested fornicators. He very much wanted to instill in us the fear of the Lord; redeem our souls as a preemptive measure if that were possible. Ultimately, he figured that so long as you knew to place your trust in God, you’d be alright in the end. It was a lesson I would eventually learn, but it wasn’t Hegbert who caused me to have the revelation.

Anyway, now that you know the background of the play, I can clarify my earlier statement. You know. The one about Liz being my… an… angel. Okay, so it’s embarrassing when I say it like that.

See, I’m slated to play Tom. I can’t figure if Miss Garber really likes me or really hates me. This morning’s incident aside, she actually ‘volunteered’ me for the all-important role of Tom Thornton during our second class yesterday. She probably figured I was a better alternative than Dennis “I’ll-crush-all-your-toes-if-you-give-me-the-chance” Lewy, but then again, she didn’t really have much choice since only seniors were allowed the roles and those not already in the class were otherwise occupied by track, or band or basketball practice, activities that were still trophy contenders for the current school year. In other words, there really was no other alternative.

And now that Liz is in drama class, there’s little doubt that she’s going to be the angel. I mean, her old man only wrote the most beloved play that runs every Christmas. Seriously, the writing was already on the wall even before Liz became a senior.

For all the animosity her old man displayed to the “sinners of the world”, she never complained about him ever being harsh on her and I’m sure Hegbert would be proud to have Liz up there on stage playing the beautiful, ethereal angel.

Which made the event all the more special… at least as far as Miss Garber is concerned.

Which brings up our… okay, my concern. Liz is a nice girl, really. It’s just…

“No worries Liz.” Miss Garber’s face just lights up like a Christmas tree as she says this.

Wait a minute. Wasn’t she ready to spew on me for being late just now?

“Class, introducing a newcomer to our class. I’m sure most of you already know Liz Parker, daughter of Minister Parker and organizer of the orphanage donation drive these past few years, among her other generous deeds. This is her first class with us, so do make her feel welcome…”

Drumroll, if you please…

“… and I’ve spoken to the Principal beforehand and we’ve agreed that she will be playing the title role in this year’s rendition of The Christmas Angel. Which was why I didn’t assign that role yesterday as…”

Crap. My worst fears have been confirmed. I lose track of whatever else Miss Garber’s saying as my mind starts to whirl with the implications of what this means for me. Sifting through my options, I make a quick decision.

I know Miss Garber’s none too partial to me, and if her display this morning was anything to judge by, I doubt if what I’m about to do next will render me further in her good graces.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC?
~*~*~*~*~*~

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 3-Mar-2002 12:16:36 PM ]
posted on 4-Mar-2002 11:42:16 PM by Dark Ilk
Thanks to all for the continued interest. *happy*

Am glad that you like it so far. Any comments as to what things you'd like to see more of? Is the pace too fast/too slow? Any other things you can think of?

I've done up the next part. It's a little on the short side, but I figured it was time to tie up this particular scene.

And definitely, feedback please!!! *happy*

And now, on with the tale...

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 3

“Yes Max?” Miss Garber’s voice held a slight tinge of disdain as she caught sight of me getting tentatively to my feet.

Suddenly, the eyes of all 25 students in class were riveted to the back of the class, as if of a common mind, they knew that something of paramount proportion was about to occur. All 25 pairs, that is, with the exception of one Liz Parker who was still staring intently at the front of the class where Miss Garber was standing.

I knew Miss Garber was waiting for my response, but I just couldn’t bring myself to say the words. Gripping onto the table to make sure my legs didn’t give out from nervousness, I could feel my voice catch in my throat. If I didn’t know better, I would have laughed it off as an attempt to silence me and keep me from my intended path. Stubbornly, I cleared my throat noisily to regain my voice – and probably my courage too – which only seemed to serve the purpose of irking Miss Garber even further.

“Mr. Evans?” her voice taking on just the slightest hint of impatience at my prolonged silence.

“Well, Miss Garber… about what we’d discussed in class yesterday…”

“Yes? I would think that you should be so glad that you have such a fine comrade such as Liz as your costar…”

“Yeah, about that,” I interrupt and cut in before I lose my nerve, “I think I can’t be Tom anymore. You see, something kinda came up and I-I’m afraid I can’t take on the role.” I rush out in one breath before she can cut me off again.




And I can so see that everyone is overjoyed about my announcement.

For a moment, it’s so quiet you can hear a pin drop. Then the murmurs start up: little pockets here and there, increasingly until it eventually envelops the class, the students looking to one another in puzzlement about how things came to such a pass.

And all this time, the three who had any control over the situation stayed silent, facing one another as though it were a Mexican standoff, sort of… well, you know what I mean. Miss Garber appeared to have been shocked into silence by my announcement; so much so that her face was utterly void of any expression. While I could interpret this as good news that she might possibly not be angry with me, I know better than to hope for this minor miracle.

My co-star who had just been left stranded on the high and dry with a possibly invisible leading man had no change in her expression. She could have made a fuss and insisted that I stick it out come hell or high water, but she held her tongue.

Absolutely. No. Change.

Her back was still facing me and I couldn’t see the expression on her face upon hearing my news, but her back (I could be mistaken) seemed to have stiffened, going more ramrod straight when she heard what I had to say.

“Why the sudden withdrawal Mr. Evans?” Miss Garber’s voice has a clipped tone to it.

Okay, she just weirds me out when she keeps addressing me as “Mr. Evans”. I’m like… however many years her junior! I keep wanting to turn around, expecting to see my father everytime she calls me that.

“I’m really sorry Miss Garber. I wouldn’t do this if I could figure out a way to solve this, but I uh… kind of… had an incident last night and I sprained my arm. I-It’s kind of stiff right now and knowing the physicality of Tom’s character, I don’t think I’ll b-be able to effectively recreate the character. Not convincingly… and… and I so don’t want to mess this up for the rest...”

Okay, I know that sounded lame, but the part does involve quite a bit of physical activity when Tom helps the angel with the homeless person and especially with the scenes involving the orphanage. And my arm still aches from yesterday. I told you earlier, remember?

For a moment, Miss Garber seems to be torn between emotions. Concern over my “injury”, shock that I’d dropped this bombshell, anxiety over what she’s going to do next… But they seem to cancel one another out until it appears that she’s more crushed than any other emotion that might require me relocating to another state. I guess I should be relieved she doesn’t look like she’s about to hang me for almost destroying her hopes of a special rendition of The Christmas Angel. Seriously though, only God only knows why she’s so intent on making this year the year she has the perfect adaptation.

And Liz. She has not moved from her spot. At all. I mean, other than the one time she snapped her head back to look at me when I said something about “not messing [the play] up for the rest”. It was like she was trying to gauge if there was another meaning to my words. She’d turned away to face the front again after coming to a conclusion about whatever she thought she saw in my eyes.

And her expression? After that ‘outburst’: nothing. It may have been set in stone as far as I can guess because all I’m getting is a view of her back. But in the next moment, like a wood nymph brought to life, she quickly moved to a seat near the middle of the class, her face tightly controlled like an unreadable mask.

Which is really weird, because Liz is one of the most expressive people I know. No matter if she’s happy or sad, those around her would be able to tell and… no, that is not a stab of guilt I’m feeling. *sigh* But I can’t help this feeling that I have somehow managed to hurt her with my actions.

Look, I’m just glad I got myself out of that situation, okay? I never wanted to play the protagonist in the first place remember? And it’s not that I have anything personal against Liz. I told you, she’s perfectly nice… in a plain, harmless kind of way… Then, there’s the whole “Hegbert-would-probably-find-this-as-another-reason-to-castrate-me-if-he-knew-we-were-working-in-such-close-proximity” issue, and of course, Michael who would give me no end of grief should he find out that Liz and I are working together. Well, I could go on with the list, but just suffice to say that it’s a good thing that my involvement with the play’s has been amended. Give me a role as backstage crew or props… I’ll be perfectly fine… Well, not really, but I’ll survive better than if I was to play Tom Thornton.

“Well…” Miss Garber’s voice waivers slightly, and I almost detect an undertone of dread. Then with a deep breath and mile-wide smile that just screams ‘I just thought of the perfect solution’, she continues smoothly “I guess that means that Tom will be played by Dennis.”

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC?
~*~*~*~*~*~


posted on 5-Mar-2002 1:19:47 AM by Dark Ilk
*tongue* *tongue* roswellluver and abbs007, you have taken the words right out of my mouth! *tongue*

A few comments on your feedback: *happy*

roswellluver: patience gal, everything has its time and place... there's a reason why it didn't occur to Miss Garber... but all will be revealed in good time. *wink*

abbs007: *tongue**tongue* You are so right that he shouldn't have wimped out like tt... but have faith in our man. *wink* PS: hope you'll be updating "Undercover" soon. Love the fic!! And here's hoping that Max will get be as torn as Liz has been being apart from each other... hehehe... *bounce**bounce*

Apologies in advance first: I won't be able to work on the part for the next couple of days as I have an upcoming test. But hope to be able to do it up by the weekend the latest. So hope you guys enjoyed these last 2 parts so far and bear with me for little while. *happy**happy*
posted on 6-Mar-2002 8:55:52 AM by Dark Ilk
Thanks to abbs007, frenchkiss70, Nana, Jbehrbabe, Alien614, Eerie and everyone else for their interest in the story.

Just finished my killer test today, so hope to start on the new part tonight after I finish my readings for class tmr.

Just some comments:

*wink**wink* I know some are pretty ticked off with Max right now, and in the words of Meris, he really needs to "strap on a pair" and do the right thang.

But take heart my fellow Roswellians... as a fellow Dreamer, it is always darkest before the dawn. *wink**wink* so hang in there. *happy*

okay, I better get started on that assignment if I intend to get started on Part 4.

Just a spoiler before I can get the next part out: upcoming event that's gonna put a little pressure on Max to reconsider his decision... and another Roswellian character to make his/her - I'm not saying who yet!! - debut.

Cheerios for now...

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 6-Mar-2002 1:53:24 PM ]
posted on 10-Mar-2002 12:50:00 AM by Dark Ilk
Hey everyone! Sorry to see that the thread has basically fallen off the board. *sigh*, but nvm. I hope that the new parts I'm working on will still make those who follow my story happy. And of course... thanks to you guys that I'm even continuing writing.

Anyway, just to let you know that I'm working on parts 4 and 5 right now. Would have posted 4 earlier, but still working on a missing part in this. Hopefully will be able to complete this (4) tonight and post it. Started on 5 cos the train of thought kinda skipped ahead :lol :lol

Anyway, thanks for your kind patience... and hope for more feedback okay?

Cheers for now.
posted on 10-Mar-2002 1:07:29 PM by Dark Ilk
Okay... I finally finished with Part 4 at like... 1am in the morning. Hope you guys like the following part.

Quick recap: You've met Max, Michael, Maria, Liz so far. "New" Roswellian to be introduced in the following part where Max is to undergo a little *pressure*. That's all I'm saying. *big* You'll have to read to find out the details.

Hope you enjoy... and pppplllllsssss... do leave feedback? Thanks.

And now... on with the show...

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 4

Striding purposefully as she turned the corner to head towards the gymnasium, her footsteps began to slow as she neared her destination. Braking suddenly in mid-stride, it abruptly struck her that this was going to be one major embarrassment and so not worth the reaction she was expecting to get.

Pondering her possible alternatives, she came to the conclusion that she really had no choice if she wanted things to turn out right. Plucking up her courage, she started her determined march ahead again. So deep in thought was she that it didn’t dawn on her that she had missed the first entrance to the gym.

When she stopped again for the second time – this time outside the back entrance to the gym – it was not due to her own hesitation, but from voices she could hear coming from within, just beyond the gym doors that were slightly ajar. Quietly, so as not to disturb the occupants, she slipped through the doors and ducked under the bleachers and watched the two guys on the basketball court.

~*~*~*~*~*~

On the basketball court…

Max’s POV

I’ve been sitting on the sidelines, watching Michael dribble the ball, pulling off perfect lay-ups for the past hour. The routine should have gotten old to me by the first twenty minutes, but the incessant, rhythmic bouncing of the rubber ball was strangely comforting today.

I’d usually be down on the courts with him for a friendly one-on-one, but I can’t do that today. Not with the excuse I’ve given Miss Garber in class. We’re indoors, but better to be safe than sorry, in case some hapless soul should wander in to see the “injured” Max Evans having a go at the hoops. This is a highly remote possibility when the basketball team is practising, but it’s already after practice and Michael and I are just hanging out in the gym while he gets in his own extra two hours of training.

Hey, don’t ask me where the guy gets all the energy. I’m just his best friend, not a worm in his body. But seriously, there is a reason why he’s captain of the basketball team. Michael’s the type of guy who, when he sets his mind to it, will get his objective.

Okay, so I’m rambling a little… *sigh* I just feel kind funny after drama class and had to hightail it out of the class. I figured what better place to escape the questions and curious looks than the gym. Afterall, no one knows about my hideaway sanctuary… other than Michael of course.

“Maxie boy! Come on and get off that lazy butt of yours! You shy to get crushed by me again?” Michael’s playful tone causes me to roll my eyes in an attempt to deflect his shot at stamping his superiority over me. He’s the captain of the basketball team, but I can hold my own against him any time, anywhere… and he knows it too.

“Sure Michael… say that often enough and you’ll begin to believe it,” I say with a raised eyebrow as I remain seated, looking up at him.

He walks over and throws me a meaningful glare. Deciding that there’s something on my face that he doesn’t like, his lips thin into a straight line as his eyes narrow at me. In the next instant, he unceremoniously parks himself beside me, firmly setting the ball down on the hardwood floor between his feet.

“Okay, so what’s up?” That’s Michael’s for you. Blunt and to the point… and the reason why he’s my best friend. Should have known that he would figure something was out of sorts when I didn’t automatically take up the chance to make him eat his words.

“Well?” he queried when no answer seemed forthcoming.

“It’s the drama class.”

“What about? I thought Maria pointed out the merits of a hotbed for a stud muffin like yourself,” he replied tongue-in-cheek, a smirk beginning to graze his lips.

Ha ha. “I’m serious, Michael,” I say, dropping my head into my hands as my elbows rest on my knees. Muffling a slight groan, I wonder how I should explain my situation to Michael.

He must have realized I was really troubled from my demeanor. After a moment of silence, the words he spoke so surprised me that I could only stare blankly at him.

“So you really screwed old Hegbert over huh?”

“What?!” I exclaimed in disbelief, my head snapping up at his remark.

“Look, Max. I heard about what happened in drama class. Yes, you’re not my only friend in that class; yes, I know about the ‘injured shoulder’ excuse…”

Hey, it was NOT an excuse…

“… No, I didn’t think it necessary to let you know ’cos I knew you were gonna tell me yourself,” he shot a pointed look at me at this, “… and yes, you heard me right when I said what I said about our good old Minister Parker.”

Wow! Talk about being blindsided. I must have been some special kind of idiot to not figure that the news would spread like wildfire, especially when it was common knowledge that Miss Garber was planning an extra special performance this year.

*Sigh* Can this get any more complicated?!

“Look, Michael. You know me better than that. Of the two of us, you’re the one always waiting for any opportunity to light a fire under the old man.” I roll my eyes to emphasize my next point, “As if you'd actually believe I did this to spite Hegbert.”

Michael grins widely at me, gets off the bleacher and sinks a perfect three-pointer. “I do, don’t I?” he turns to me laughingly, but turns solemn again almost immediately. “But seriously Max. What the heck were you thinking? And don’t give me the excuse of Sean hurting you to cause you to pull out of the play. He may be strong, but you and I both know that he’s not that strong.”

“How would you know what went down between Sean and me?”

“You mean this had nothing to do with Peggy?” he asked, legs akimbo and arms crossed in front of him, daring me to argue differently.

Okay, did I mention that I have a girlfriend? Or more like ex-girlfriend actually. Remember when I was late getting to drama and my general “friendly” demeanor then? Courtesy of one Peggy Marianne Sue and her scumbag lout of a new boyfriend, Sean DeLuca.

She’d apparently been dipping her fingers in more than one pot, and when I found out, I’d made her decide on one. Guess who came out the losing end?

For all the aches I woke up with in my shoulder the next day, you should see Sean. He’s a walking mass of bruises. The fact that he goes to an out-of-state high school made it that bit easier for me to excuse myself from Miss Garber’s play without anyone being none the wiser.

Anyone, that is, except for Michael Guerin. Michael’s tight with some of the guys on the basketball team in Sean’s high school despite their fierce rivalry on the court, and they hang out in the company of said jerk. Oh… and he also happens to be Maria’s cousin – I feel bad for the girl really. It should have been little surprise that Michael knows of the situation really.

Grimacing slightly at his ability to see through me, I avoid his knowing gaze momentarily. “Look, Michael. This has nothing to do with Peggy, alright? … and this fact goes no further than these four walls, you hear me?” I loom up to him, practically wagging a finger in his face.

“I KNOW this has nothing to do with Sean, or Peggy for that matter. What I want to know, is why you pulled out of the play the way you did,” Michael retorts in a carefully neutral tone, not backing down despite my threatening stance.

Got to give it to the guy. He really didn’t know when to give up… especially when it came to his best friend. Releasing a sudden sigh of annoyance, I sit back down heavily on the bleacher.

Michael sighs deeply too as he takes a seat alongside me. “I know you Max. It can’t be because of the old man. And the bull you fed everyone else about Sean… well, we know better, don’t we?” Patting me on the back, he continues, “So why don’t you just tell good, old Michael why you basically sabotaged yourself off the role. And don’t even try to feed me the line about you never wanting the role in the first place. We’re the same Max. We make sure we give off the best in the roles we play. We make sure we know what we’re dealing with even if we didn’t ask for it. Then we give it our best shot. And I just know you wouldn’t have pulled out of the play unless you had a good reason.”

I know his words ring true. But he doesn’t get it… he just doesn’t get that it's not simply that I never wanted the role... I-I’m not in control here… and I stubbornly hold my peace.

“You’re not helping me help you dude,” Michael sighs in exasperation. After another moment of silence, he speaks again.

“It’s about Liz, isn’t it?”

For a second time, I can only stare in amazement at Michael. Okay, I know I said that I wasn’t a worm in his body, but I’m seriously wondering if he wasn’t one in mine.

It’s only been a moment and as I try to recover from the shock of how accurately he’s hit the nail on the head to reply, a noise in the vicinity of the bleachers near the back door of the gym draws our attention.

“What was that?” I get to my feet in a hurry, turning to face Michael. “Damn Michael. I thought you said that no one else was around after practice. The last thing I need is the jocks hearing what you said and…”

“Relax man. It’s nothing. It’s probably just the creaky door to the team locker rooms. The wind sometimes causes the noise, so I can assure you it’s not anyone hanging around to eavesdrop… and don’t try to think that you’re distracting me from the real purpose of this talk.”

“Fine,” I grouchily concede. Running a hand through my hair, I massage my neck muscles that feel incredibly knotted and tense. Turning away from him, I walk towards the centre of the court and pick up the ball he had previously abandoned. Dribbling it absentmindedly a couple of times, I try to find the words to explain my thoughts to Michael. He seemed to realize that I really was trying to figure out how to account for my actions and wisely kept silent until I turned to face him.

“The thing is… I don’t really know why I did what I did.”

The confused expression on Michael’s face causes me to rush on to clarify my words.

“Look, I’m not lying. Y-You weren’t off the mark when you said that it had something to do with Liz, it’s just… it’s just I can’t tell you what it is. Not when I don’t even know it myself. All I know is that it’s really making me uncomfortable, so…”

“Okay, I get that,” Michael drawls before I hear a tinge of impatience coloring his speech, “I get that you’re uncomfortable around Liz, but it can’t be that bad that you have to pull out of the play to leave Dennis to play the lead. I mean, good grief, Dennis?? Did you suffer a concussion I didn’t know about and forget what he did to you last year? Don’t you think he’ll massacre the production the way he nearly did you?!”

Okay, so I wasn’t expecting such a violent reaction form Michael. I know I was a little melodramatic in telling Michael what happened with Dennis, but still… Did he have to make it sound that bad?

A wry grin plants itself on my face despite the gravity of the situation. “Come on Michael. It’s just the annual Christmas play. It's not like someone's gonna die if I don't play the lead, or... or it’s not like it’s the school championship game you’re playing…” I try to reason with him.

“That sucks, Evans. That really does.” Michael sounds disgusted as he comes to stand in front of me, a dark scowl marring his features. “Why are you doing this? Really??”

“Look! I told you why!!” My own voice beginning to rise in irritation, “Why can’t you just accept it and let it go? I’m just looking for some support from my best friend. Is that too much to ask for? I mean, everyone I’ve seen after class has more or less expressed their displeasure with me. Was it too much to hope that my best bud would be able to see my side of the story?!”

“That's utter crap Maxwell and you know it,” Michael glares at me angrily. “You know what? You may not realize it, but I know why you did what you did.”

At the questionable rise of my eyebrows that he might have already seen the light at the end of the tunnel that I found myself stuck in, he continued his diatribe.

“Much as we joke about how Liz helps out with the Red Cross and the kids at the orphanage, acting like a total goody-two-shoes and laugh about the way she dresses, you’ve never had to deal with her in a one-to-one situation. You don’t know how to control the situation and you’re running like a ‘fraidy cat.”

Shaking his head, the guy continues as he’s on a roll. “It’s just so you, you know that. You take charge of the situations you can control; but those that you can’t, you walk away. Who am I kidding? You fairly run away like a bat out of hell…” he mockingly throws me a sideways glance, “… like what you’re doing now.”

“That is NOT tr-”

“Not what?” Michael interrupts. “Not true?” He throws the word bitingly at me. “What about your father?”

“Don’t go there, Michael. You know you don’t wanna go there. I’m warning you…” my own voice taking on a dangerous timber, an angry flush reddening my face as we stand toe-to-toe, nose-to-nose, neither willing to back down.

“Why? ‘cos you’ve faced up to your old man? Just like how you’re tackling this issue you have with Liz? Right Max. I see that you so have everything under your control. It’s-”

Michael never got to finish his sentence because in the next instant, he was sprawled on the ground, a hand rubbing his jaw where my right-hook landed.

The look in his wide eyes as he stared back at me…





You know what? You would think that I should be getting used to these prolonged silences after some time… but right now, all I can do is stare down at my clenched fist in horror as the reality of what I just did sank in.


“M-Michael…” I stammer even as Michael gets to his feet shakily and looks at me in disbelief.

“Michael, wait!” I cannot keep the note of utter fear and desperation out of my voice as he looks at me for another second, backing away gradually as he does so. Throwing me a look of utter hurt and disgust, he turns on his back and bolts out the front door.

“Michael!! I’m sorry…” my voice winds down into a whimper. He can’t leave… not like that… not when I haven’t had the chance to say I’m sorry…

What just happened?!

One moment we were goofing around, and the next, I’d lost my best friend, been reminded of why I’m so cheesed off with my father, dredged up more issues concerning Liz that I really didn’t feel like dealing with… and did I mention that I just lost my best friend?

Suddenly, I feel like the weight of the world is rested squarely on my seventeen-year-old shoulders, and the next move I make could possibly bring about its very demise.

Sighing deeply, I feel my heart sinking to the very soles of my feet. Hanging my head, I try to fight back the wall of self-pitying tears that are threatening to rise. Man, things just can’t get any worse.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Wiping at the tears that were hovering on her eyelids, Liz swallowed a shaky breath. So that was what happened in drama... Sniffling slightly, she brushed an arm across her tear-filled eyes as she studied the back of Max Evans for another moment before she made her way quietly out of the gym through the back.

Once outside, she could not stop a small sob escaping her lips. There was no way that Max would change his mind after what she’d overheard. Lips trembling as she fought the dam that was threatening to burst, her tears were rapidly tracing a course down her already red cheeks as she turned and ran for the girls’ bathroom.

So intent was she on making her getaway that she never caught sight of Michael – who had been standing by the front gym door in an attempt to cool his temper over Max’s outburst – pulling back behind the corner as she rushed past.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC?
~*~*~*~*~*~


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 10-Mar-2002 1:29:43 PM ]
posted on 13-Mar-2002 9:14:28 PM by Dark Ilk
Thanks again to everyone for their feedback. Sorry I'll be taking a little while to update the next part as I'm in the process of backing up my data and cos of upcoming weddings of a few of my pals.

Take heart though that I have already started on it. A little spoiler: No Max-Liz interaction yet - though I promise that it'll be coming up soon *wink**wink* - but Max will have to come to a decision soon as he comes to a realization... *happy*

Again, thanks for your support and kind understanding... *big**big*
posted on 31-Mar-2002 7:20:09 AM by Dark Ilk
hmmm... not much activity... but to be expected cos I've been outta commission so long...

Sorry to you faithful guys. Hope you haven't given up on the story so far.

First, my apologies for not posting recently. Have been pretty sick for the past 2 weeks, and compounded with project presentations and assignments due, I really didn't get the opportunity to touch the fic at all.

I promise though that I'm still hard at work on continuing with the story. Am about 1/3 through with Part 5 son hang in there okay?

Thanks for your kind understanding.

Cheers,
Sharon =0)
posted on 31-Mar-2002 7:41:03 AM by Dark Ilk
quote:
abbs007 originally wrote:
Cool can't wait to read it.


abbs007 you took the words right out of my mouth!!! About Undercover that is!! I was supposed to get back to work, but just as I posted, saw that you'd a new part up!! *bounce**bounce**bounce*

hehehe... now, just need to clear my assignment due for tmr and some readings and will get back to Part 5! *big**big*
posted on 31-Mar-2002 7:59:31 AM by Dark Ilk
quote:
abbs007 originally wrote:
Ha how funny!!!!!!! Now get that assignment done and get back here. *big**big**big**big*

LOL... yes mdm! *silly alien salutes the red-devil lady and runs off to do as commanded*

*big**big**big*

PS: Pity I couldn't find the whiplash smilie... hehehe...
posted on 2-Apr-2002 11:25:17 AM by Dark Ilk
Okay, so I'm back!! Still have around 1 1/2 assignments to complete, but I seriously needed a timeout from the work... so what better way to R&R right? *big**big**big*

Anyway, just some things to say before I post the next part: Thanks to all your support. Sorry for the long time away, but hope that this next part makes up for it somewhat.

Now onto the story. No M/L interaction in this part, but I promise: THEY WILL *MEET* IN PART 6. You can hold me to my word. I promise. *wink*

On with the tale...

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 5

Evans’ Residence, Dining Room

I just have this incredible knack of putting my foot in my mouth you know that?

I thought drama would have been an interesting class, and you know just how ‘interesting’ THAT turned out. And remember when I thought that things could get no worse with Michael blowing up at me in the gym?

Well, guess what? They did.

The good news first: Michael’s talking to me again. Not back to our “best friends” mode, but I know we’ll mend. I guess there’s always a first for everything, and even though I didn’t know it at the time, my major – but thankfully momentary – fallout with my best friend had only been a premonition of many first’s to come. But that’s not the issue here.

What IS though: my bad news… That being Liz overheard our conversation in the gym.

Michael was the bearer of this unfortunate piece of news. Moments after fleeing from the gym, he returned with an almost abashed expression as he informed me that he saw someone hurry away from the gym in tears. No prizes for guessing who.

This really sucks big time. I mean, it’s one thing to have these uncertainties running through my head. But to finally face up to them, and to have Michael proclaim it within earshot of one particular Liz Parker… well, that really takes the cake, don’t you think?

I can’t help but heave a deep sigh of frustration as I shovel another bite of dinner into my mouth.

“Max? What’s wrong, honey?”

Oops, did I just sigh out loud? Man, I just KNOW that things can only GET worse. Oh God, PLEASE help me get through this unscathed.

“Erm…” I focus intently on the peas on my plate, pushing them randomly around, trying my best to avoid making eye contact with the concerned party whose motherly gaze was trained intently on me at the moment. “It’s noth-”

“It’s this play Max was supposed to be in, Mum,” a smart-alecky, know-it-all voice chips in before I can think up a believable excuse.

“Wha-” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, pardon the ‘deafening’ crash you hear as my jaw is introduced figuratively to the ground. No, in case you haven’t already guessed, I had NOT intended for my parents to find out that I was a useful and active member of the scholastic scene this way.

Actually, I hadn’t intended for them to find out. Period.

“Max is in a play?” The fork filled with mashed potatoes freezes midway to my father’s mouth as he takes in the news with raised eyebrows, his meal instantly forgotten.

Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence Dad. You would think that for a Congressman of his experience, Philip Evans would have perfected the art of subtlety.

“Why dar-ling, that’s just won-derful,” That’s my Mum, Diane, and I can hear the octave raise several levels in her voice. Oh God, here it comes. This is SO not happening.

“That’s absolutely mar-vellous and SUCH a cause for celebration! Why, you looked like it was the end of the world dear,” she continues to gush, “Why, imagine what…”

The rest of her words are lost as I turn an evil glare to the tattletale who’s sitting innocently across the table from me. Everyone, meet my older-by-two-minutes fraternal twin, Isabel Victoria Evans. Yes, it seems to be my fate that not only do I have a best friend who loves to heckle me, I’ve had another being put on this Earth even just as I was born to carry out the same duty. I guess I should be grateful they aren’t an item, otherwise…

Ew!! I suppress a momentary shudder as the image of Michael and Isabel filters through my already harried brain. I shut my eyes and banish the thought to the deepest recesses of my peace-deprived brain.

Focusing back on Isabel’s seeming angelic face, I can’t help but wish that she would choke on the morsel of lamb chop she’s so daintily put into her mouth. Narrowing my eyes, I could have sworn that if looks could kill, she’d have been chopped into as many pieces as said lamb chop, beyond recognition to the power of infinity. But no, there she sits, the laughter evident in her eyes as she silently mocks the predicament I now find myself in.

“… no need to feel nervous and bothered about it. I know it’s your first time going through the motions,” Mum’s words start to filter through the angry red fog in my brain as I turn away from Izzy. Wait, what?! How did she know about L… My breath catches in my throat… until it suddenly sinks in that she’s talking about… the play. Whew! I can breathe again.

Okay, do NOT roll your eyes at me.

NO, I was not thinking about someone… I mean some-THING else... I mean…

Oh, shut up.

“I’m sure you’ll be a natural at it,” my mum continues, not seemingly aware of my apparent discomfort or silence since Isabel broke the news. “That’s what you’ve been brooding over right?” My mum finally takes a break in her spiel, turning her face towards me, eyes shining with – oh no – tears of unshed pride and joy, and a megawatt smile that would probably light up the entire town.

Oh God, how do I break the truth to them? I open my mouth, but my mind draws a blank yet again.

“Don’t get too excited, Mum. I did say the play Max WAS supposed to be in,” the proverbial thorn in my side intones in a bored, deadpan voice as Mum and Dad turn to hear her words. For a second time, I throw Isabel a withering glance that I hope will shut her up.

“What?!” This exclamation is from both parental units as they set questioning gazes upon me.

Lamely, I can only utter in bits and pieces of coherent speech. “I uh… just realized that the role wasn’t my thing, so… so rather than make a mess of it, I… decided to… leave it in the hands of… someone… more… capable...”

Okay, so that was an outright lie. You and I both know that Dennis should be the last person on Earth who should be playing Tom Thornton, but Mom and Dad don’t know that. And well, I’ve always believed in the axiom that what you don’t know can’t hurt you, right?

“He pulled out ‘cos he’s got to act opposite Minister Parker’s daughter. You remember Liz, don’t you? I’ve worked with her on several projects around the holidays and she does a lot of other charity work too,” the she-devil says nonchalantly, delicately clearing the lamb chop gravy off her plate with a breadroll.

I turn furious, disbelieving eyes onto my twin, and am absolutely flummoxed by her unprovoked attempt to sabotage me. What IS her problem?!

“Max, is this true?” The serious tone in my father’s gravelly voice causes me to turn a quick – and slightly worried – glance in his direction before getting enthralled in the makeup and physiology of the peas that have gotten mushed up with the potatoes on my plate.

“Max?” Dad’s tone has gone even lower and that is NOT a good sign.

“Oh what do you care anyway?! This is yet another opportunity for you to tell me what a major disappointment I am again! Nothing’s I do’s ever good enough for you!” I suddenly burst out, simultaneously pushing my plate away, and myself from the table. As the chair screeched across the smooth wood-paneled floor, even my normally unflappable sister seemed to lose her cool for a second, cringing at the sound akin to fingernails being scratched across a chalkboard.

“Max!” Mum’s mouth has dropped open in a shocked expression as everyone at the table stares up at me.

“Maxwell,” Dad’s voice is calm as he resumes eating without sparing me another glance, but there is a hint of suppressed anger underlying the seemingly serene voice. “Sit down.” He says in the same manner after a moment of silence when no one moves.

Gritting my teeth, I refuse to budge and hold my ground, awaiting his reaction at my defiance. As the moment drags out, I actually begin to feel my jaw ache from gnashing my teeth so tightly together. Eyes flickering briefly over to Mum and Izzy, I can see that they too are holding their breaths, awaiting the outcome beyond the apparent calm before the storm.

When Dad continues to ignore me, I begin to feel like an idiot standing in the midst of the room. I finally succumb and stonily reclaim my seat, but refuse to touch my plate. I know I’m sulking like a spoilt brat, but it’s always only times like these that he actually pays any attention to me. Any other time, I’m the invisible man.

*snicker* Can you tell that I have a ‘healthy’ relationship with my father?

Michael wasn’t off the mark when he accused me of running away from dealing with this. But I’m not given much time to ponder this aspect of our father-son bond as his next actions cut into my thoughts.

Wiping his lips with the napkin as he finishes his meal, he turns and asks that the ladies excuse themselves from the room. I can almost hear her audible sigh of relief as Izzy hurries out without a second backward glance. Mum lingers momentarily and I can see her eyes beseeching my father not be too harsh on me.

I almost want to beg her to take me along with her.

When they finally exit, he turns his gaze sharply on me and I feel like a six-year-old all over again, caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“Do you care to explain that little outburst? You know very well why I’m constantly disappointed in your behavior. Just look at Izzy,” he says nodding his head in the direction of my sister’s recent exit and I can’t help but feel a further surge of resentment for her. Will the comparisons NEVER end?

As though suddenly realizing how his words might have sounded to me, he exhaled noisily and paused before continuing. “Isabel’s trying to make a difference. And you. What do you do? REALLY, Max. I want to know. What DO you do? WHY do you do what you do?”

There is no accusation in his voice. There’s just a profound sadness and… sincerity in wanting to understand?

Feeling slightly chastised, I bow my head. “Look,” I say without raising my eyes to meet his, “I’m sorry for raising my voice, okay?” A momentary pause as I collect my thoughts. “I… I’m just going through a little… phase right now.”

When I do not offer any further elaboration, he watches me meaningfully. After a heartbeat, I start to fidget under his intense scrutiny.

“Come on Dad. It’s just a play. One that the High School puts up EVERY year. Why all the fuss over the fact that I pulled out? It’s not like there’s no one else to take on the role,” I cross my fingers behind my back as I say this, “I won’t pull another stunt like that again.”

“What Izzy said; is it true?”

“Is what true?” I ask, confused by his sudden change in subject. Izzy spoke too much as far as I was concerned and I would dearly love to return the favor one of these days, truth be told.

“About Liz. About you pulling out of the play because Minister’s Parker’s daughter is in the play as well.”

A deep sigh is emitted before I find myself repeating the same words I’ve been telling everyone.

“Dad, it’s not the reason, okay? It’s nothing – I stress this again, NOTHING – to do with Liz.” Of course, my eyes are currently trained on the intricate wood-grain patterns of the dining room floor.

I continue after a heartbeat when he watches me while considering my words, a slightly dubious expression on his face. “Come on, we’ve known the Parkers all our life. While I no longer interact much with the Minister’s daughter, I sure don’t dislike her to the extent that I’m gonna avoid her like that. As if I need another excuse to get old Hegbert-”

“That’s Minister Parker to you, young man,” Dad interjects with a raised eyebrow at my insolence.

“As I was saying,” this is accompanied with an exaggerated roll of my eyes, “I don’t need Minister Parker (heavy emphasis on his name here) getting his underpants all tied up even further and condemning me to the level of his ‘beloved’ fornicators. We already know how much he ‘adores’ me.”

Dad can’t quite suppress the grin at the memories of the sermons that we’ve all heard for years and my infamous altercations with the minister. Looking into each other’s eyes, we can’t help but burst into a fit of laughter.

For the briefest of moments, it feels good to be just like any father and son sharing a joke. But as is always the case with us, the moment is transient and passes too soon. Only too soon before silence descends upon the room again.

His next question is not unexpected. “Then why Max?”

I don’t try to misunderstand his query. You have to know. It’s never been easy for me to communicate with my father. If it wasn’t the fact that Dad was often away on political campaigns and rallies or other work-related matters, it was the constant comparisons with my older sister who was an activist like Liz; or it was that I was such a bummer who never sought a more prominent role like my father during his younger years.

It should come as no surprise that during his teenage years, Philip Evans had been the president of both the debate team as well as the student body. And to top it off, he was among the high-flying academics of his cohort.

Is it any surprise that I should feel the pressure to follow in his footsteps? Or that in an ironic twist of fate, I should want to distance myself from the man that Philip Evans is or was? Or that I behave the way I do?

Well, there’s definitely no way that we’re headed for a major breakthrough in our relationship tonight, so I give the only excuse I can think of. And I’m not lying either… not really.

“It’s Pam,” I sigh with a little more sorrow than is necessary. See, I could make a convincing thespian yet. “We just broke up and things didn’t really end on a good note.”

“I get that you’re not feeling too good on the personal front, but it still doesn’t validate your withdrawal from the play,” Dad tries to be objective without coming across all parental.

Hitting upon an idea, I continue, “Look. At the very most, I’ll help out with Izzy’s next charity project or whatever to make it up okay?”

My suggestion is met by silence. Then, a moment of inspiration strikes my father.

“I have a better idea.”

Oh oh. Why do I have a bad feeling about this?

“There’s a dinner organized by the city council coming up in a week’s time and Minister Parker’s been invited to be our guest-of-honour,” Dad starts.

“And this has to do with me, how?” I ask, a perturbed expression on my face.

Resting his elbows on the edge of the table, Dad clasps his hands together to support his chin as he stares straight ahead. “Well, Liz has also been invited to the dinner too of course, but I hear from the Minister that she does not intend on attending because of… now what were the words he used… ‘the lack of a suitable companion’, I believe.”

I can see Dad watching me out of the corner of his eye, and catch myself before my expression can give me away. Still, my heart literally stopped and froze when I realized what he was asking of me.

Maintaining a poker face, I keep up a façade of mulling over his suggestion.

“But that means it’s a black tie occasion and those in attendant will be the fuddy-duddies. I’ll probably be bored to tears. I hardly think I’d be ‘suitable company’ then,” I protest with a pained look, pointedly avoiding the crux of the matter.

“I’ve good news for you then. Michael’s gonna be there, accompanied by Maria of course. You forget: his Dad is a prominent member on the Council too.” Having caught onto the ‘slight’ misgivings in my voice, he continues. “And it’s not a black-tie sit-down dinner Max. It’s just a semi-formal event for the council members to be more in touch with the townsfolk. It’s not just the ‘fuddy-duddies’ as you so mistakenly point out, but the old and the young, the housewives and the working fathers of the townsfolk who will be there. In fact, anyone and everyone will likely be there. I’m sure you’ll find some of your friends there to keep from getting bored.”

Yeah Dad. I SO believe that.

Man… there’s no way I can worm my way out of this one. I’ve already ticked him off with the whole play fiasco. And having made my promise to “make it up”, I guess I’m really caught between a rock and a hard place.

You wanna know the irony? Liz is probably going to hate the idea just as much as I do. Considering recent events, I won’t be surprised if she just kicks my a$$ to kingdom come the moment she sees me. And I’m supposed to be her ‘suitable companion’ to the dinner? What a joke!

Well, not like I can tell Dad that, especially since I’ve just vehemently stated that there’s no animosity between us. And I can only imagine the jibes from Michael when he hears about this. Well, I guess he deserves to have some fun at my expense to make up for our little dispute.

Seeing no other way out, I inhale deeply and plaster a wry smile on my face. “If you say so, Dad. But don’t say I didn’t warn you if things don’t turn out the way you expect them to.”

“So that’s it then!” Philip proclaims gleefully. “You’ll be Liz’s escort to the dinner!”

Oh boy.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC?
~*~*~*~*~*~


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Jun-2002 2:32:32 AM ]
posted on 3-Apr-2002 2:24:37 AM by Dark Ilk
Yeah!! Feedback!! Thanks to everyone!!! *bounce**bounce* okies... supposed to meet my project mate, but she's not here yet.

So guess what? My comments to the comments. *wink*

Eerie: I guess this does indeed qualify as their first date, albeit an unwilling one at this point in time for said parties. *big**big**big* Don't u just want to know how it goes... hehehe... *evil grin from the silly alien* lol.. I know... I'm SO evil aren't I?

Alien614: Thanks for your well wishes. Back and kicking!! It was a good hiatus to catch up on rest, and to meet up with my parents too. Thanks for the concern. *happy**happy*

Nana: Definitely babe!!! I've more or less structured out what I'm gonna cover in the next part. It's just finding the time to write it out. *wink* Patience now... *big**big*

soypet: So glad to see someone new who likes the fic. Everyone who's read so far have been such a source of inspiration (and motivation for continuing too! So THANKS to everyone in case you don't realize how much I appreciate your feedback!!) I finally saw the movie, and defintely recommend the book. The movie wasn't too bad, but I had grouches with certain parts, and the book's usually better anyway.

Remember, AU fic, so other than how relationships go, personalities may or may not stay the same. *wink**wink* hint hint! hehehe... As for Liz... don't wanna give too much away right now... so I guess you'll have to continue reading to read out. *muah hah hah... laughs the evil, little, silly alien* *big**big*

roswellluver: Glad to have you back!! hehehe... careful now... I do like Izzy on the show, especially when with her parents and Alex... just so convincing during those scenes... hint hint...*wink**wink*

abbs: Babe!!! hehehe... guess pressure does that to a person huh? *tongue**tongue**tongue* I really couldn't stand working non-stop and had to take a breather... what better way right? And once I started, I couldn't stop... which I guess was a good thing? *happy**happy**happy* As for Liz's reaction to Max as her escort... hehehe... *the evil silly alien rears her ugly head again*.... *wink**wink*

Thanks again to everyone. I aim to clear this weekend before I can sit down to write the next part in earnest. Hopefully, I'll work on it if I have the laptop with me. In the meantime, any suggestions on what you might want to see happening, do tell.

Truth be told... the dinner scene had not originally been intended to focus on Max and Philip... more about the former and his interaction with Izzy (who I guess right now is the she-devil incarnate to many :lol) with a slight allusion to his problems with his Dad... but guess who *wink**wink* got her way when I managed to work it in nicely....

okies... proj member's FINALLY here.... ttyl.

Cheerio!

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 3-Apr-2002 2:30:22 AM ]
posted on 10-Apr-2002 11:37:53 AM by Dark Ilk
Firstly, thanks to Abby for the bump! *big**big* That just tickled me pick!! hehehe...

Okay, a little warning first. It's gonna be a relatively short part. I started writing Part 6 and it got increasingly long and I'm actually in the midst of tying up the last few paras to it. UNFORTUNATELY, I've been a little stressed lately with some nerve-wrecking news, so... may need a little time off from this... already, I'm taking my foot off the accelerator of my assignments that are due soon.

But I also figured that you guys deserve some new stuff to tide you over till I can post up the full part, so I'm gonna post it in two (maybe more, let's see how things go) parts.

Considering the aforementioned, it's just a short section meant as an intro into the "real" Part 6, but still a necessary part.

So with out further ado, here's Part 6a.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 6a

Knock, knock.

“Come on in. I’m decent for the public view,” I jokingly shout, my head buried in the closet, searching for a particular piece of clothing that just refuses to be found.

The door opens and shuts quietly, letting in someone who doesn’t say anything for a moment. Just as the fleeting thought pops into my head that I might have made a mistake, admitting one of my “adoring” public – I am so public enemy number one right now remember? – to ‘do away’ with me, she speaks.

“Max.”

Oh shit. I can feel myself die a silent death. See, I do have a sixth sense about things.

My head pokes out from around the closet door at hearing her voice. My heart almost stops at seeing her. She is so the last person I need to see right now considering our last altercation.

“Yeah?” I ask, my voice a carefully neutral tone. My eyes following her with a little wariness as she moves into the room hesitantly.

“We need to talk,” she says, sitting down on the edge of my bed. The tension in her frame is totally transparent. It’s as though she expects me to chase her out of my room.

As if I would ever be that mean to consider that.

“Why are you here?” I throw a distracted gaze around my room, deliberately avoiding her gaze. Sighing slightly, I briefly wonder if a tornado just tore through here, leaving a wake of clothes strewn all over the place. Where is that damned shirt of mine?!

“Look, I know things have… been a little strange between us… a-and I think we… need to talk,” she says, her eyes meeting mine with a strange determination I have never noticed before. Have they always been…

“Max,” her voice fills with slight exasperation as she sees my attention wandering, “I know things have been a little… strained between us since…”

A wry grin forms on my face against my better instinct, and I see her shoot me a sharp look intended to get me to focus on how seriously she views this discussion we’re having. Well, sort of. Because she’s doing most of the talking so far, and I still have no idea what she wants… and still no idea where that darn confounded shirt is!

“Max…”

“Look, I know…” I start out.

“NO! No, you don’t!” She practically leaps off the bed, cutting me off before I can continue further.

I am dumbstruck by her sudden outburst. I had not been anticipating an exaltation from her in light of recent events, but I hadn’t been expecting the complete opposite either.

“About the dinner… I-I think you need to know…” she suddenly sighs deeply and slumps back down on the bed, holding her tongue as I wait with baited breath to see what this is really about.

Her next words are so soft; I have to strain to hear them.

“I don’t think it’s such a good idea… the arrangement for the dinner… you know, to…”

What? Now I feel totally blindsided. Where did that come from?

“Look, I know it may not be the arrangement you’d expected,” I say as I settle down gently on the bed beside her. “Heck, I’m not exactly thrilled about it myself, but I made a promise, and I’m a man of my word.”

And yes, I’m so not prepared to face my Dad’s wrath. “I’m not going to leave someone in a lurch when…”

“It’s just… someone’s gonna get hurt and I don’t wanna…”

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~

*big**big* I know you gals are gonna *kill* me for ending it there, but... hehehe... you know that the *evil* silly alien was bound to turn up sooner or later. LOL... anyway, resy assured that I will tie up the tail end of the entire part 6 once I can settle my personal issues, then I'll get it out to you guys. Behr with me for the love of Max, okay? hehehehe... wat emotional blackmail huh? *big**big**big*

And of course, feedback greatly appreciated.

Cheers to all. *bounce*
posted on 10-Apr-2002 8:46:09 PM by Dark Ilk
Thanks and hello to marteloise and spark67 (btw, is your nick anything to do with Nicholas Sparks? *curious sillly alien looking askance*

And yes, Max is basically portrayed like how I gather Landon to be in the book as well.

Hey there to roswellluver and soypet! Glad to see you back! :wave: hope you're enjoying it so far.

Soypet: *big**big**big* You know I'd had to end it there....

hehehe *evil silly alien pokes her head in for a quick remark* Did I mention that 6a was a teaser for this the 6th installment? *silly alien pops out before she gets pelted lol*

quote:
Nana originally wrote:
I am so confused right now...


Sorry if I caused you any confusion dear. Once I get to post Part 6b, hopefully it'll clear it up for you. I just HAD to end it there... lol... it was *killing* me when I was writing it, pinging back and forth to decide who it should be Max was talking to. But I can DEFINITELY confirm it's been decided. That's why I had to end it where I did. :blush: :blush: Hang in there babe!

quote:
frenchkiss70 originally wrote:
Who was speaking with Max? Isabel? Liz?


hehehe... wouldn't you like to know... *wink**wink* I know, I know, I'm utterly evil...

IMPORTANT NOTE TO ALL
Okies... how about this? I'm working on two assignments due Monday, but if the majority of you guys can try and guess accurately who Max is talking to, I promise to finish up the rest of Part 6 asap and post it up by Sunday night latest (it's Thursday morning my side now!)

hehehe.... hint hint... feedback time to see how badly / well I've kept you guys guessing so far!!
posted on 10-Apr-2002 10:26:55 PM by Dark Ilk
quote:
Eerie originally wrote:
ok my mind is telling me its liz...then again how would she know the dinner convo? then I thought about izzy, which is the most likely candidate. but I've found that the least likely person tends to be the one it actually was...then again...I come back to the question why would liz be in max's room? ok, so I'm sitting her baffled and confused...come back soon!

Ericka


LOL... thx Eerie. That was fast! *big* Wasn't expecting fb so fast...

Okay, so the "dinner" I think you are referring to isn't the Evans' dinner. It's the dinner that Max is supposed to accompany Liz to.

And about how Liz may be in Max's room? Here's one suggestion (not a spoiler I stress): she may have finally plucked up the courage to encounter him face to face. She might be THAT pissed off at him, and with the standing arrangement, she MIGHT just go over the edge when she learns abt it.

I won't reveal the timing of the particular section yet... so do behr with me, okay? *happy*

so wat does that make it?

Current standings:

Liz: 0?
Iz: 0?

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Apr-2002 10:34:55 PM ]
posted on 11-Apr-2002 5:37:15 AM by Dark Ilk
LOL.... okay, just a refresher in case anyone is unaware.

With the posting of Pt 6a, there are some curious cats among the posters as to who it is. Is it Liz? Is it Iz? hehehe.... *evil silly little alien* that I am, I'm not revealing that till I can complete Part 6 (most of it complete; still need to tie up last few events at the end while juggling 2 assignments due Mon).

I've issued a challenge: if majority can guess accurately who it is, I'll work my ass off to finish and post the complete Part 6 by Sunday nite, even if I have to do without sleep after completing my 2 assignments. Okay?

Current count:
Liz: 1 (Eerie)
Iz: 0

Come on in and make yourself heard!! I'd love to hear why you think it's one or the other as well if you'd like to leave fb.

OKies... gotta go grab dinner and then get back to my assignments. GGGrrrrr.... just realised I have to redo most of one of them. Slight misunderstanding of facilitator's instructions. Sigh...

PS: Hey Abby! Was wondering where you were... hehehe... so wat's ur guess? *wink**wink*
posted on 13-Apr-2002 3:30:07 PM by Dark Ilk
*sigh* seems no one's seen my note, or... watever reason it may be.

Anyway, not that this was intentional, but I won't be able to post by Sunday night anyway. My laptop nearly died on me on Thursday, causing a HUGE delay in my trying to finish my task. And I've ben having writer's block in completing my psyche essay.

I promise that I'll work on it any opportunity I get, but in the meantime, thanks for your patience.

Oh yes, and if you wanna leave fb on who you think Max is talking to in Pt 6a so far, pls do so. I'd love to know why you think who it is.

Cheers for now.
posted on 13-Apr-2002 11:35:06 PM by Dark Ilk
So the score's even now.

Liz: 1 (Eerie)
Iz: 1 (Kitcat26)

Am working on my psyche assignment and the fic now... so patience with me?

THanks! *happy*
posted on 18-Apr-2002 2:59:24 PM by Dark Ilk
firstly, my apologies for not posting earlier. Am still working on tying up the last section.

You will not BELIEVE I have been having so far. Fell sick on Saturday night when I caught a flu bug from my fren - some fren huh? - and was totally ineffective for the next few days. Even had to get an extension for the assignment for which I pushed back completion of part 6. Wat a hoot huh?

Anyway, I have been utterly bushed from shuttling between home and hall, and rushing out the assignments that have backlogged... still am actually... but good news is that what few opps I had, I did progress quite far in the next part.

Okay, I promise, I promise that I will post out a new part by end of the week. I should have some breathing space once Saturday clears.

And if it's any consolation, I've wrote actually 2 parts... so you guys can get it as a two-in-one Part 6. How's that for making up on the delay?

So, last count:

Liz: 3 (Eerie, abbs007, frenchkiss70)
Iz: 1 (KitCat26)

hehehe..... bet u guys just itching to find out who it really is huh?

Patience now... *wink**big*
posted on 18-Apr-2002 4:02:20 PM by Dark Ilk
lol... know wat u mean Jbehrbabe! Am living the *dream* of my life right now. It's oredi 4+am my side... and still struggling wif assignments.... to zzz or to plug on.

Okay, I think I'm giving myself last 10 min... then it's off to bed...

And last count:

Liz: 3 (Eerie, abbs007, frenchkiss70)
Iz: 2 (KitCat26, Jbehrbabe)

seems like u gals are pretty close in the race in deciding who it is...

okies... I'm outta here....

Ciao

posted on 20-Apr-2002 2:07:36 AM by Dark Ilk
Okay, here's the deal. I know I promised M/L interaction in this next part... and the way I wrote the teaser... *wink* kinda leaves you to figure out... hehehe....

Just in case you're wondering: I have the next two parts done up already. I'm going the full Part 6 - including the teaser that you guys have been pretty supportive in giving your guesses (I know you're tearing your hair out to know if it's Iz or Liz right? hehehe... *silly alien drags out suspense just a little bit longer* *big**big*). I had not expected the length it ran into when I finally completed the part, so I'm gonna break it into a new Part 7.

As it stands right now, Part 6 has been beta-checked and ready to go. I still need to beta-check Part 7. Once I get that done, I should be able to post before the weekend (*Silly alien claps her hands in joy as she prepares to go home soon*).

Okay. So now that has been established, my apologies for the longer than usual ramble... and let the show begin.

PS: Thanks to all those who left feedback. You're my source of inspiration for continuing to write this adaptation. *happy**big**happy**big**happy**big*

And of course.... fb ppppplllsssss..... hehehehe

~*~*~*~*~*~

Knock, knock.

“Come on in. I’m decent for the public view,” I jokingly shout, my head buried in the closet, searching for a particular piece of clothing that just refuses to be found.

The door opens and shuts quietly, letting in someone who doesn’t say anything for a moment. Just as the fleeting thought pops into my head that I might have made a mistake, admitting one of my “adoring” public – I am so public enemy number one right now remember? – to ‘do away’ with me, she speaks.

“Max.”

Oh shit. I can feel myself die a silent death. See, I do have a sixth sense about things.

My head pokes out from around the closet door at hearing her voice. My heart almost stops at seeing her. She is so the last person I need to see right now considering our last altercation.

“Yeah?” I ask, my voice a carefully neutral tone. My eyes following her with a little wariness as she moves into the room hesitantly.

“We need to talk,” she says, sitting down on the edge of my bed. The tension in her frame is totally transparent. It’s as though she expects me to chase her out of my room.

As if I would ever be that mean to consider that.

“Why are you here?” I throw a distracted gaze around my room, deliberately avoiding her gaze. Sighing slightly, I briefly wonder if a tornado just tore through here, leaving a wake of clothes strewn all over the place. Where is that damned shirt of mine?!

“Look, I know things have… been a little strange between us… a-and I think we… need to talk,” she says, her eyes meeting mine with a strange determination I have never noticed before. Have they always been…

“Max,” her voice fills with slight exasperation as she sees my attention wandering, “I know things have been a little… strained between us since…”

A wry grin forms on my face against my better instinct, and I see her shoot me a sharp look intended to get me to focus on how seriously she views this discussion we’re having. Well, sort of. Because she’s doing most of the talking so far, and I still have no idea what she wants… and still no idea where that darn confounded shirt is!

“Max…”

“Look, I know…” I start out.

“NO! No, you don’t!” She practically leaps off the bed, cutting me off before I can continue further.

I am dumbstruck by her sudden outburst. I had not been anticipating an exaltation from her in light of recent events, but I hadn’t been expecting the complete opposite either.

“About the dinner… I-I think you need to know…” she suddenly sighs deeply and slumps back down on the bed, holding her tongue as I wait with baited breath to see what this is really about.

Her next words are so soft; I have to strain to hear them.

“I don’t think it’s such a good idea… the arrangement for the dinner… you know, to…”

What? Now I feel totally blindsided. Where did that come from?

“Look, I know it may not be the arrangement you’d expected,” I say as I settle down gently on the bed beside her. “Heck, I’m not exactly thrilled about it myself, but I made a promise, and I’m a man of my word.”

And yes, I’m so not prepared to face my Dad’s wrath. “I’m not going to leave someone in a lurch when…”

“It’s just… someone’s gonna get hurt and I don’t wanna…”

I cut her off before she can continue.

“Why would you say that? All I’m doing is accompanying Liz Parker to the dinner. It’s not like it’s an actual date.”

Nudging her shoulder slightly, I try to lighten the mood, “Come on, as if you didn’t know that pigs would fly over the moon before your little bro would ever WANT to date someone like her.”

“What’s THAT supposed to mean?” Izzy’s voice suddenly turns defensive.

Oops. A relapse of the foot-in-mouth syndrome. Izzy’s a Liz-advocator by the way. They’ve worked together before on several charity events. You know, being that Liz is involved in pretty much everything good, and my sis constantly involved in the holiday charity events. Having worked together on a regular basis for the past few years, they have formed a pretty stable friendship. And I know the way Izzy gets when she hears people talking bad about her friends: she takes it upon herself to defend their honor.

In Liz’s case, it’s even more extreme since she’s the Minister’s daughter, making her a target for sometimes unusually cruel jibes. They’re all pretty harmless, just that she gets the flake more often than others I guess.

And NO. I’m not one of the pranksters. Well, not the really mean ones. Come on, can you blame me? It’s just gossip that I hear from someone else or that I hear others talking about. Michael, the jocks and I just sometimes joke about the latest ‘updates’ we hear. It’s not like I’m the one spreading the rumors.

Anyway, I can see that Izzy’s about to go on the warpath, so I try to sidestep the potential landmine.

“Come on, I’m just kidding. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just… look at me,” I stress by pointing at myself, “You know the type of person I am, and you’ve worked often enough with the Parker girl to know that our personalities are about as alike as night and day. There’s no way I can hurt her during the couple of hours where we’ll be surrounded by the entire townsfolk, okay?”

A pregnant pause. “It was JUST an innocent remark, Iz,” I add when I see the lingering doubt on her face. “Now seriously, what is it you want to talk to me about the dinner? I’m likely to be late and you’re not exactly the person I want to see right now,” as I turn away and continue on my quest for the missing shirt.

“Gee, thanks for being polite Max,” my sister throw a barb of her own as she makes herself comfortable on my bed. She watches me for a few moments while I continue to look for suitable attire for the dinner – yes, it is THE night of THE event and I am going to be LATE unless I can find that freaking outfit.

“I really do mean it you know,” she says a little reservedly as she gets off the bed and tries to extend an olive branch by helping me search.

“Mean what?”

“About you and Liz attending the dinner together.”

“And whose fault would that be?” I ask with a raised eyebrow.

Turning on me with a disbelieving tone, Izzy glares at me, her hands on her hips. “Are you suggesting that this is all MY fault?!” she asks indignantly.

“Well, Little Miss Daddy-and-Mummy’s-perfect-do-gooder, I just call it the way I see it.”

“How dare you make me the…” Izzy suddenly brakes in the midst of her rant and shuts her mouth with a snap, sucking in a deep breath as she appears to try to calm herself down before speaking again. “Look. I came here to try to broker a peace treaty, NOT to start another World War with you, okay?” she says and shifting a pile of my clothes off the chair, she sits down.

I refuse to comment and continue to ruffle through the growing mess in my room.

A soft murmur, then I hear an unmistakable “I’m sorry.”

Do my ears deceive me? I can’t help but spin around to cast a questioning look at Iz.

“You’re kidding right?” I quirk an eyebrow and look at her suspiciously for a few seconds. “What are you really here for Iz?” Tilting my head to ponder her slumped figure, I rapidly think back on the events of the past week to try and pinpoint the event that may have prompted this apology. I’m coming up with nothing so far… other than her spilling the beans about my involvement with the play.

“Ah,” I release a slight laugh as understanding downs on me. “Dad.”

The one word is enough to cause a further slump in her figure, and her cheeks to stain a deep red. If I hadn’t been in this current situation, I’d actually laugh out loud. Isabel’s not one to easily admit her mistake, and this was a Kodak moment if ever there was one.

“Well, why did you do it then?” I queried.

It’s her turn to roll her eyes at me as she practically spits out the reason, “Isn’t it obvious my *dear*, *beloved* brother? Or did I give you more credit than you deserve?”

Okay, I guess I asked for that. The whole school knew about the debacle with the play, and coupled with Izzy’s innate protectiveness over Liz, I should have realized that my sister would have wanted to get back at me on Liz’s behalf. God knows – and I do mean this literally – that Liz herself wouldn’t confront me about it. But that’s a separate matter.

How do I know that for a fact? I promise I’ll get to it, but right now, please remember that I DO have an irate older sister to contend with?

“Look, I really don’t see what the big deal is… and why everyone is making such a big fuss over what I did,” I sigh in frustration and run a hand through my hair.

“No big deal?! Over what you did? Max!” Izzy’s getting hysterical now. “As if you don’t know the significance of the play. Not only have you pulled out of the most important event of the Christmas festivities, you also did it over a lame ass reason of an injury that I SO know to be untrue!”

Not stopping to give me a chance to cut in, she continues on a roll. “And of the lowest, most despicable things you could have done… how could you joke about not acting opposite Liz because she was such a plain Jane?”

Hang on a sec. Rumors? WHAT rumors?!

“And say that if she was to be the angel, that they’d probably have to get her in plastic surgery before she’d be believable in the part?!”

“Wait a min-”

“I’m not done yet, buster!” She intones as she holds up a finger, effectively silencing me. She starts jabbing at my chest with said finger, her pokes underlining each word she emphasizes. “WORSE yet! Some GUYS were even joking about YOU! Saying how SHE’D probably SCARE away the audience because they’d be so REPULSED by how the ‘angel’ will be so GROSSLY misrepresented!”

By now, Izzy’s face is crimson red, no longer from embarrassment, but from deep-seated anger. Anger that is currently directed at me. And might I add, very unjustly so.

“I DIDN’T do that!” I protest vehemently. “Come on Iz. You know me,” as I try to convey my innocence through the expression in my eyes.

“Yes, I do,” she agrees to my momentary surprise. “And THAT’s why I wouldn’t put it pass you. I wouldn’t put it pass you and Michael and the bunch of dumb jocks you call your buddies when you get together. All that male testosterone that’s just itching to see who can make a bigger fool of Liz Parker!” She crosses her arms and glares at me, the heat of her gaze ready to burn a hole through me if she had her way.

I heave a deep sigh, trying to figure out a way to convince Iz that I’m as much a victim in this strange twist of circumstance as Liz is.

Starting to pace around my room, I am clearly aware of a pair of eyes intently trained on the back of my head, possibly shooting death rays if possible. “Iz, I swear I didn’t say those things. I know a lot of people were disgruntled over my actions… and… Well, I… just… someone started the rumors, but it wasn’t ME,” I know I sound desperate, but I’m out of ways to convince her of my lack of guilt.

Stopping to stand in front of Iz, I try to read the expression in her eyes. “I SWEAR Iz. I-I swear on my life!” I look pleadingly at my sibling, seeing doubt beginning to flicker in her eyes as she listens to my fervent pleas for her understanding.

“Well…” she pauses to consider the possibility as she chews on the corner of her lower right lip, arms still crossed in front of her. “Whatever the case, the damage is already done. Whether you said it or not, it’s already all over school, and th-that’s why…” a note of apology creeping into her voice, “… I kinda did what I did to get back at you. I know Liz would have just ignored the rumors…” I cringe inwardly as guilt washes over me momentarily, “… but I just couldn’t stand the thought of her being maligned… and by YOU of all people!”

“Iz…”

“Yes, yes, I know,” she sighs, “You proclaim your innocence, but…” a heavy, confused sigh from her here as she starts to flail her arms dramatically to emphasize her point, “… I was hearing all this talk, and you didn’t say anything to me when you came home; what else would you have expected me to think?”

“Well, you didn’t ask,” I claim innocently, only to earn a smack upside on the back of my head.

Oow.

Rubbing my head tenderly to ease the residing soreness, I watch her expression. “And besides, like I don’t know how ‘protective’ you are over Liz. Like I would have thought that I could say such nonsense and NOT have expected you to bite my head off,” a slight quirk pulls at the corner of my mouth as I roll my eyes dramatically to underline my point.

“Well, I didn’t…” she tries to hide the laughter in her voice, “… not really anyway.”

There is a moment of silence, but we then both start to laugh, the tension in the air broken. As much as I sometimes feel resentment towards my sister for the way our parents – okay, Dad at least – treat us differently, I really do love her and she can be a real pillar of support in my times of need.

“Max, you’re still not listening to me,” Izzy almost whines as she resumes her comfortable position on my bed, her attempt to help me with my search forgotten.

“About?” I query in puzzlement. Oh yes, Liz and me. At the dinner. Together.

“It’s just a bargain I struck with Dad to get him off my back after your little stunt. It’s nothing more, my dear sis,” I try to reassure her.

“Look. I just don’t think it’s a good idea considering everything that’s happened.” My breath catches momentarily at her last words as I wonder if she somehow learnt about the incident in the gym.

You’re pissed off that Dad practically gave you no choice in the matter, she’s probably seething over the rumors rampant all over school. The way I see it, you’ll probably tick her off with some dumb remark…”

Hey, I resent that I’m not given the benefit of the doubt here.

“… And that’ll only make things worse for all involved.”

At my questioning gaze, she elaborates, “You know Minister Parker’s opinion of you is only going to get tested further. And can you imagine the fracas you’ll cause for Dad if anything gets out of hand? I might as well prepare a gravestone for whatever’s left of your reputation after that.”

As I ponder her words briefly, I wonder if it really WAS a bad idea to go through with this in the first place.

“I don’t deny the possibility of what you’re saying Iz. But…” I consider my next words carefully. I really don’t want a further display of Izzy’s wrath with a mention of the gym incident, “… I don’t think Liz would be too thrilled either if I pulled out on her this late. In your own words, I’ve already upset her with the play situation. It would really be the ultimate coup if I were to do this to her.”

Sighing deeply as she moves off my bed, she moves to the pile of clothes near my chair, riffles around a bit and hands me the shirt I was looking for. My only reaction is a dropped jaw that she found it that easily, and almost miss her next words.

Heading towards the door, she says, “Max, just… behave, okay? I know you’re a great guy when you’re on your best behavior. But more often than not, you just… rub people the wrong way. Liz is a really great girl no matter what you guys think of her and DO try to make it an enjoyable evening… for BOTH of you?”

Just as I thought she was out the door, her head pops back in. “And despite her cool demeanor Max, I really don’t think you want to ‘rub’ Liz ‘the wrong way’. She might just surprise you,” she adds cryptically with a wink.

“Sure Iz. Whatever you say.” With a roll of my eyes, I look away and dismiss her with a wave of my hand.

Like anything Liz Parker can possibly do will change my impression of her.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 20-Apr-2002 2:15:03 AM ]
posted on 21-Apr-2002 3:06:14 AM by Dark Ilk
lol.... so now you know... hope the wait was worth it. Thanks to you guys for your fb!!

Note on Iz's development: I know Izzy started out bitchy in her intro. Was intentional cos I wanted her to kinda rub it in and make it worse for Max in tt particular scenario, BUT WITH A HIDDEN REASON. hehehe... but her character's not supposed to be bitchy... u know... just ice-princessy and all, but with a heart of gold underneath... our S1 Izzy.

Jbehrbabe: yep!! Izzy it was. As for the rumors... *wink* just keep an eye out... that's all I'm saying for now... hehehehe... *big**big*

Eerie: Ericka babe!! no need for 'damn'! Hopefully means I did enuff to throw u off the track for a while? *wink**happy* As for Izzy giving Max a piece of his mind, yup. Definitely well-deserved. He was looking for a quick solution and doesn't seem to have really thot thru abt the possible consequences. And so deserved tt smack! hehe..

roswellluver: *wink* After reading my note, now you know why she acted the way she did... *happy**happy*

Kitcat26: Chalk it up for u alright! lol...

quote:
Kitcat26 originally wrote:
WHy do I get the feeling that I know what Isabel was about to reveal to Max when she was talking about Liz?? Oh no!! *sad* I have a nasty feeling it is going to be the same condition that Jamie had in the book. Oh sob. Not yet! Am I totally off here?


WWeeeellllllll.... don't wanna give too much away at this point... but let's just say it's not wat u think rite now... I will say that Izzy DEFINITELY was not going to say what you think she said (for the benefit of those who have not read the book and do not want to be spoiled). Izzy just wanted to reveal her reason for acting the way she did that caused the situation where Max has now to escort Liz to the dinner. And cos she's close to Liz, she wouldn't want her bro to be an ⊕$$ and hurt Lizzy with anything stupid he might say or do. So rest easy... for now. *wink*

Alien614: Thanks for the encouragement babe!! And a little patience and the next part's coming up soon. Promise to post within the next 24 hours... *wink**wink*
posted on 21-Apr-2002 5:33:50 AM by Dark Ilk
quote:
abbs007 originally wrote:
A new part!!!!!! WOO HOOO!!!!! About bloody time. hehe

SO it was Izzy, well that makes more sence then Liz I guess. So who the hell is spreading all the rumors? Maybe Liz is doing them hereself? To make Max feel guilty I mean (I know very unlikely but hey you never know).

The little comment that Iz made about Liz makes me think that she's isn't all that everyone thinks she is. Does our little Liz have a temper on her? I can't wait for Max to see that side of her.

Can't wait for more, so please please please post more soon.

Abby *big**big*


Abby!! I can't believe you!! Must like 5am ur side rite?! LOL... anyway... yes, yes, yes... in your words... abt bloody time too. *tongue*

About the rumors, I can defintely say that it is NOT Liz who started the rumors, but... you'll get some idea in a later part... patience, my young warrior... in the words of a wise Jedi master... hehehehe...

And you're right abt our little Lizzie Parker that Max is gonna find out... soon... er or later.... *big**big**big* lol... I know! I am SO *evil*

Okies... gonna go get dinner with my parents, then head back to hall and finish the editing on Part 7. Like I said: it WILL be posted within the next 24 hours... how actually less since I'd said that a couple of posts back. Promise this time.

Cheerios!!
posted on 21-Apr-2002 7:51:47 AM by Dark Ilk
LOL... yup... got the picture loud and clear... lol...
posted on 21-Apr-2002 10:29:43 AM by Dark Ilk
lol... so seems like I'm gonna be 14 hours ahead of schedule in posting up Part 7. So, what prize do I get?? Lotsa feedback I hope?? *bounce**bounce**bounce*

hehehe... okay, so I won't delay the inevitable any longer. Hope you all enjoy this... with all my love... and my promise of M/L interaction shall be kept. *wink*

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 7

Ding-dong.

So here I am – thankfully on time for once – standing on the porch of the Parkers’ home, waiting for Liz to answer the door… and my nerves are stretched to the max.

Dressed in the navy-blue, button down, short-sleeved shirt made out of some satin-like material that Izzy had found from the dredges of my room, and a pair of plain black slacks, I actually felt my hand trembling as I’d rang the doorbell. I’m holding a bouquet of flowers for Liz behind my back… kind of like a peace offering… you know, for the gym incident. Okay, so I know this is a less than adequate move, but Michael always says that girls love flowers. Wait a minute, but Liz isn’t like most girls. What if…

Okay. Quite rambling.

Great, I’m talking to myself now. You see, I’ve seen Liz over the past week in school and drama class, but we haven’t actually spoken… much that is.

And then the door opens to reveal… Minister Hegbert Parker.

He’s already attired in a polo tee and a pair of casual slacks, ready to go. Apparently, he seems to be headed out in advance for the dinner, leaving me to escort Liz by myself. As I take a step back from the door, Minister Parker steps out onto the porch.

My stomach does nervous flip-flops at this new development, and I’m not sure if it’s out of pure terror that I’m probably gonna shoot myself in the foot with some comment I might further offend Liz with, or that I’ll have to face her alone. And after what’s happened so far, I’m not sure it’s very safe… for me. Or even because… of something… else.

“Max,” he bows his head slightly, acknowledging me.

“Good evening, Sir.” I just manage to maintain eye contact, forcing myself not to shy away from his piercing gaze.

You know what, up till now, I’ve NEVER had to face him one-on-one. It’s either been at church sermons when there’s the whole congregation, or Michael at least. I guess there’s always a first time for everything huh? Not that I would have guessed it at the time, but it was only the start of one of many ‘first’s of the night.

“So I see you turned up… to pick up Liz,” he smoothly adds to cover his sarcasm that he had expected me to pull a disappearing act. Turning back into the house, he calls out, “Liz, Max is here.”

I hear a slightly muted ‘thump’ coming from the upper storey of the house, but have no opportunity to ponder its significance as Minister Parker takes a step closer to me.

“You remember our conversations, Max?”

I swallow nervously as I recall his booming, commanding voice during all the church sermons and most especially, as it had rung out then all those years ago.

“I know who you are, Max Evans… and the Lord knows too.”

Hardly what I’d call ‘conversations’, but getting even deeper into the Minister’s bad books is not on my agenda right now. It seems like I’ll never grow out of that particular chill that runs down my spine every time I think of it.

Retreating a step as if in an act to back off, the older man then proceeds to brush off his shirt lightly as though nothing just happened. “Well, I have to go ahead to meet with the rest of the council members, so I’ll have to TRUST you to escort Liz to the dinner,” he says with an acute gaze from which I can’t seem to pull myself away.

Surreal as I find the situation, I’ve got enough wits gathered about me to realize that he’s probably worried about the virtue of his darling daughter, what with my ‘rep’ and all. If I’d been a little less overawed in facing him one-on-one, I’d probably have taken him a load off his mind. Wait, what am I saying?

Spare old Hegbert and give him peace of mind? I retract my last statement. I think he could do with a little stewing.

“Alright then,” he closes the door behind him, not bothering to invite me into the house to wait for Liz. I guess this means I’m going to have to park myself on the porch then.

Walking down the steps, he half-turns to me while maintaining his pace. “See you Max… and remember, He is watching.” He directs his gaze skywards as he says this, and I cannot refrain a chortled laugh escaping my lips. Thankfully, I’m saved from any reprimands by covering it up with a slight cough.

As he heads off down the lane, I lean against the railing to wait for Liz to get ready. I hope she’s not one of those girls who takes forever getting “presentable”. Trust me, living with Izzy has taught me the necessity for patience.

My thoughts start to drift after five minutes when Liz is still a no-show. Remember how I mentioned I knew she wouldn’t confront me directly about the gym incident?

~*~ Flashback ~*~

About one week before
Along the high school hallway lockers

I’m pulling my books from my locker just as I receive a hard smack on the back and nearly fall headfirst into my locker. Greatly annoyed, I turn only to see Michael, Kyle and Alex –two of my other jock buddies – all wearing gigantic smirks on their faces.

I guess my friendship with Michael’s on the way to being back the way it was if he’s more interested in deriving joy at my expense than psycho-analyzing what happened between us in the gym. Whatever the reason, I’m glad our camaraderie is on its way back to normal.

On second thoughts… maybe not so good when I see the guys throw one another winks and get the distinct feeling they’re up to some mischief.

“Maxie boy!” Kyle calls out gleefully as he mock punches me in the left arm.

“Max… ma man…” Alex continues.

Michael stands silently by not saying a word, trying – and failing miserably I might add – to hide the laugh that threatens to break forth from his lips.

“Hey guys. What’s up? Aren’t you going to be late for class?” I state carefully, continuing to take my books out from my locker while keeping an eye on the threesome surrounding me.

There are aren’t too many people around the hallway considering it’s nearly time for first period, and I’m in fact hoping not to be late myself. Had overslept – yes, yes, I see your eyes roll up in disbelief that I seem unable to heed morning calls, but it REALLY wasn’t my fault this time – Dad had been confirming the details with Minister Parker about THE arrangement.

It apparently took longer than expected because I had had to wait outside his study-cum-office while he spoke to the reverend. I’d been in there with him when he made the call, but at some point during their conversation, Dad started speaking in hushed tones and then suggested none too subtly that I wait outside while he “tied up the details”. Izzy had passed me once in the hall, but had given me the cold shoulder. By the time he came out of the study, it was past eleven.

Anyway, here I am… again, rushing for class… again, and the last thing I need is these three clowns making me late.

“Buddy,” Michael finally opens his mouth as he slings an arm around my shoulders, his voice full of mirth. “How can you be worried about class when you’ve got bigger concerns?”

My eyebrows furrow in confusion as I wonder what he’s referring to.

His tone drops lower as though to share a deep, dark secret. He leans closer to my ear to whisper merrily in my ear, still loud enough for Kyle and Alex to hear his every word. “Don’t worry buddy. Your secret’s safe with us… at least for today. We feel for you bud… but we have no idea how you’re gonna keep the entire school from finding out that you’re escorting Liz Parker to the dinner.”

As Kyle and Alex double over with laughter, I can only stare at them, mouth agape. How did they know…

Then it hit me.

Isabel. She must have overheard my conversation with Dad somehow and ran to Michael with this juicy piece of fodder. Should be no surprise she would have told him. He’s not just my best bud, but also pretty tight with Iz.

“Come on guys,” I moan, “Gimme a break. It’s not like I volunteered to do so.”

“Whatever you say, Evans,” Alex is still holding his middle as he manages to squeeze out the words in between his laughter.

“And here we thought you didn’t like her when you pulled out of the play. There something you holding out on us Max?” Kyle adds, a twinkle of amusement clearly evident in his eyes.

“The two matters have nothing to do with each other!” I sigh, ruffling my hair in defeated resignation.

“Max,” Michael still has his arm loosely slung around my shoulders, although they have slipped, what with him trying to maintain a straight face at my predicament. “I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time with Liz at the dinner… so long as you don’t mind the Minister’s eyes burning a hole through you every opportunity he gets,” before he too breaks into hysterics.

“Great way to boost my morale, Michael,” I sneer at him with thinly-veiled disgust.

At the trio’s renewed burst of laughter, I decide I cannot handle any more of this and slam the door to my locker, storming away from the group who are still cracking up over what I am expecting is likely to turn into the latest gossip to make its way around school.

Rounding the corner in a hurry, I only succeed in colliding into a smaller frame, knocking over books and papers in a flurry.

“Sorry, It was really clums-” the words catch in my throat as I see whom it is I have accidentally sent sprawling to the ground.

Quietly gathering our belongings, we both stand awkwardly and a moment of silence hangs in the air before we simultaneously start to speak.

“Liz-”

“Max-”

Laughing nervously at the obvious tension, we remain that way for a moment, neither one speaking.

Stealing a glance at her, I can see that she’s a little breathless, like she’s in a hurry to get somewhere. Clutching her books to her chest, she uses one hand to brush wayward strands of hair that have escaped from her conventional bun. Not completely successful, she puffs a quick breath of air to get a few stubborn strands that dangle persistently in her face. Suppressing this sudden and unexpected urge to tuck them behind her ear for her, I watch as she pushes her glasses a little higher up her nose. Unconsciously, I feel as though an invisible wall of defence has just been thrown up between us.

Dressed in her usual garb of long brown skirt and a loose-fitting top, I note that she seems none the worse after the gym fiasco. If I hadn’t known better, I’d have imagined that she knew nothing about it at all.

That is until I look into her eyes to see a resolute expression residing there. It spells loudly and only too clearly that she knows what happened in the gym… And that she knows that I know that she knows.

Okay, was that just very confusing? Well, you kinda get the picture of what I’m saying right?

I take the first move to break the ice.

“You first. Afterall…” and failing to come up with anything else that might – in Izzy’s words – ‘rub her the wrong way’, I say, “… ladies first.” I can see her eyebrows rise as I make the statement, and immediately begin to regret the words.

“And when have you ever been so polite as to consider me a lady?” she asks, the surprise and sarcasm both clearly apparent in her tone.

“Um… ”

At my sudden loss for words, she seemingly decides to cut me some slack. As to why she didn’t go in for the kill, I guess that’s just Elizabeth Parker for you. Ever the saint who would never sink to the depths of someone like me who ‘lines right up with the fornicators’. The again, who am I to judge her right?

“So, about the dinner coming up this weekend. I heard from my father that you’ve asked his permission in escorting me.” Looking me straight in the eye, she utters the single word I’ve dreaded to hear. “Why?”

I inwardly wince. Man, I said the lady was kind, but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t come straight to the point when she wanted to know something.

“I figured it would be a pity if your father was there and you weren’t and seein-” I start.

“So this is a ‘pity’ thing,” she interrupts, the merest flicker of bitterness underlining her words, stressing heavily on the word ‘pity’.

“No, no!”

She jumps back a little at the vehement protest in my voice… And probably because I’d taken a sudden step forward, reaching a hand out towards her.

Noting her discomfort, I quickly stuff the traitorous hand into my pocket and look down to the ground. Softly, without looking up, I try to find the words to convey my sincerity. “Look Liz, it’s not like that.”

“Okay, then what is it?”

“Look, I’m sorry about…” I try to think of a way to apologize for it, but I’m not too enthusiastic to remind her of the gym episode.

Watching my downcast expression, her next words catch me completely by surprise, causing me to look up with saucer-wide eyes filled with amazement.

“You know what amazes me about fire, Max? The beauty in its flare; its magnificence when it shines brightly. Yet, sometimes, in lighting a fire, we don’t know who may get burnt. But the idea is to learn to know WHEN to light the fire. And once the fire’s lit, to make sure we know HOW to control the flame… to not let it get out of hand. For all its beauty, it still can cause pain. Slight burns heal with time, but repeated burns cause long-term scarring that are irreversible.” She’d turned and taken a few steps away as she’d made her little speech, but now turned to meet me squarely in the eye. “Don’t you agree Max?”

When she sees no answer forthcoming, she comes closer, passing a hand back and forth in front of my seemingly entranced face. “You still with me Max?” she asks tentatively, an unspoken question lingering in the air as I take in her words.

I don’t really hear her as my mind races to register the possibilities: Does this mean she’s no longer mad about the gym incident? Can she REALLY look beyond that unfortunate event? Is it possible-

“MAX!” She snaps in an almost desperate bid to get my attention. Do I detect a flicker of anxiety when she thought I’d spazzed on her?

“Huh? Oh, uh. Sorry. My mind drifted. What were we- oh yes,” as I throw a worried glance at the hallway clock signaling my impending lateness to class, “The dinner. Look, if you’re unhappy with the arrangement, I can alwa-”

“No.”

“N-no?” I throw her a confused look. “No to what? ‘No’ to escorting you to dinner? Or ‘no’ that you’re okay with the arrangement? But I thought-”

“I didn’t mean to imply that I was upset with you accompanying me to the dinner,” as a note of slight hesitation enters her voice, “… just that… it was… surprising… and unexpected.” A minor pause before she continues with stronger conviction in her tone, “Especially after what happened.”

An uncomfortable silence permeates the hallways and I’d never felt a greater desire to bolt from any single situation. No, not because of her insinuation at the episode I’m trying so desperately to avoid. More like the IMPLICATIONS of what it might mean if she can actually find it in her to forgive me for what I’d said.

I hold my breath for a moment, then suddenly realize that she’s waiting for a response from me. Well, I’d be a fool to not grab at an olive branch when it’s extended.

“Well, if that’s the case,” I say with as much cheerfulness I can muster, deliberately avoiding her ending remarks, “ I guess I’ll be by Saturday evening around 6 to escort you then.”

“O. Kay,” she answers a little apprehensively, her head tilting slightly to one side as she ponders the sudden change in demeanor in the boy standing before her.

The first period bell sounds just then, sharply reminding us that we still have classes. Curt goodbyes exchanged, we simultaneously turn away sharply to head off in opposite directions.

~*~ End Flashback ~*~


Since that little exchange, I’ve noticed little things. Things that unnerve me, yet are strangely comforting at times. I don’t know, you tell me if I’ve lost my mind.

Liz and I have some classes together, and I sometimes catch her watching me when she thinks I’m not looking. When our eyes meet, she’d look away as if embarrassed at being caught red-handed. Yet other times, she would hold my gaze, as though sizing me up, wondering what exactly to make of me.

At times, it seems as though there’s this almost sad look in her eyes. Most of the times now, however, her expression is simply unreadable.

As I continue to wonder about Liz’s behavior in the past week, the new development in the form of the rumors that Izzy has just enlightened me on, their possible impact on Liz and her reactions to me, and what other events the night will bring forth, I irrationally come to the conclusion that I’m irritated.

It’s true. I honestly am irritated that I just cannot fathom the mystery lurking behind those chocolate depths of her eyes. Yes, HER, Liz Parker.

And I am so deeply engrossed in my thoughts that when the door opens again, I do not hear it.

A few seconds pass before I hear the gradual approach of steps onto the porch towards me. Spinning around, my eyes come into contact with an expected, yet totally astonishing, sight.

Time seems to stand still for the briefest of moments.

“Hey Liz.”

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~

posted on 22-Apr-2002 1:08:38 AM by Dark Ilk
Thanks for the fb so far...

Seems like everyone's guessing that there's gonna be a drop dead gorgeous Liz Parker waiting for our dear Max. hehehe... I knew it was a really evil place to leave the story, but really too bushed to continue writing then...

As to whether it really is... guess you'll have to wait till the next part to find out.

Want another poll?

Okay, then:
POLL QUESTION: What do you think is the "expected, yet totally astonishing" sight that awaits Max when he turns to see Liz?
a. A drop dead gorgeous Liz that Max is basically gonna drool over?
b. Any other suggestion you can think of. Suggest what this alternative is (telling me 'why' is optional)


NOTE: *wink* I basically have in mind of what and how the next part's gonna come out, but I don't wanna give away too many clues now... hehehehe)

Kitcat26: lol... I was wondering if I should have added that line in, but figured I'd leave it to you guys to draw the parallel. *wink* seems like we're on the same wavelength on this one huh? *big**big*

roswellluver: lol... u'd think he'd be more of the bravado front he puts up huh? Then again... it's S1 Max Evans all over again... with the hint of the one who would rather hide behind the tree than play with the other kids... *silly alien sighs upon reminiscing* As for the progress / success of the dinner.... *drumroll as silly alien wiggles her eyebrows to draw out the suspense* hehehehe... let's just say I'm planning for at least one surprise... *wink*

Hello to LizParkerEvans4evax and nickeygurl13. *Silly alien waves her welcome* Nice to see new additions to the readers of this little baby project of mine... Glad you're having a blast of a time... and here's to hoping that the stuff I write will continue to keep you interested. *wink**big**wink**big*

Okies, then... the chanllenge has been set forth...

Cheerios for now...

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 22-Apr-2002 1:13:42 AM ]
posted on 22-Apr-2002 1:12:54 AM by Dark Ilk
oops!! Silly alien missed out on more fb!! BOINK to me! *tongue**tongue**tongue*

Eerie: Babe! You're back!! *happy* Well, I wouldn't say exactly that Max is falling for Liz just quite yet... but he's beginning to realize there's more to meets the eye... whether he can look beyond that... we're gonna have to see abt tt.

lana_christiana: Welcome too!! I loved the book so much too. That's what gave me the inspiration to do this adaptation... And I so love Switchfoot too since I checked out the movie OST. Enjoy!!

Again, my apologies babes for the slight oversight... but KIV the POLL okay? *happy**happy*
posted on 22-Apr-2002 5:49:03 AM by Dark Ilk
lol... Hey Abby!! And to Alien614 too!! *happy**happy* Is it *destiny* - ooh... tt dreaded word... - that's keeping us apart? *wink* lol...

So at the latest count: I take it that:

POLL QUESTION: What do you think is the "expected, yet totally astonishing" sight that awaits Max when he turns to see Liz?
a. A drop dead gorgeous Liz that Max is basically gonna drool over?
--> 3 (Kitcat26, nickeygurl13, abbs007)
b. Any other suggestion
--> 0

Well, the good news is that I've started writing Part 8 oredi... the sucker punch though, I've just been handed new assignments and old deadlines that have been pushed fwd.

Talk abt life sucking big time huh?

But I'll work on this tonight as I head back on the train, yes? That much I can assure you. And remember, [we] shall believe!!!

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 22-Apr-2002 5:52:52 AM ]
posted on 23-Apr-2002 12:11:44 AM by Dark Ilk
lol... talk abt patience... or lack there of... hehehe.... well, firstly, belated bday wishes to Kitcat26!! *silly alien sends u the best of (belated) birthday wishes* sorry to have diappointed, but got back really late yesterday...

And to answer everyone, YES, did work on the fic while on the train back home... abt a third of the way through... in fact, was working on it so much so that I didn't note the interchange and had to double back. Talk abt a silly alien huh? *tongue**tongue**tongue**tongue*

Anyway, WOWEEEE!! Thanks for the bumps Abby!! *big**big* Think I *kinda* get the hint that u'r trying to tighten the screws on me huh? :lol :lol

Ericka: sorry to disappoint babe, but my first fic, and *blush* *blush* not gd at writing those.... oni gd at reading them... *wink**wink* *and you see the horniness coming out of the silly alien* *big**wink**big**wink*

frenchkiss70: hehehe.... guess we'll hv to see when Part 8 gets posted huh? *wink*, but thx for the encouragement *happy* babe!!

Okies... latest counts:
POLL QUESTION: What do you think is the "expected, yet totally astonishing" sight that awaits Max when he turns to see Liz?
a. A drop dead gorgeous Liz that Max is basically gonna drool over?
--> 5 (Kitcat26, nickeygurl13, abbs007, frenchkiss70, Eerie)
b. A slightly less homely looking Liz
--> 1 (Kitcat26)
c. Any other suggestion
--> 0

In the meantime, I saw tt WDAMYK has been posted up on several websites... so on a mad rush to d/l it to watch too... can't wait to see how the last 4 are going to pan out!! Missing them already *sniff* *sniff*... but I shall prevail... and stay as spoiler-free as I can till I can watch it. Everyone else... hope u'll enjoy / have enjoyed the ep!!

Ciao for now... and again... thanks for the bumps!! *happy**happy**happy*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 23-Apr-2002 12:14:29 AM ]
posted on 23-Apr-2002 2:31:33 AM by Dark Ilk
quote:
nickeygurl13 originally wrote:
maybe Liz wanted to embarras Max or something at the party, since some of his friends will be there, and it's formal, so maybe she's like, dressed in grunge clothes, or a disco outfit or....or.....or....like a clown...?
I know, totally unlikely, and rather stupid....but I was just thinking.....
Come back soon please!!!!
--*Nickey*--


Nickey gal!! NO! Never think that it's a "stupid" suggestion!! *silly alien mock wags a finger in Nickey's face for riding herself down* You gals know I just LOVE leaving you on cliffies and surprise developments, so u just. might. never. know. hehehe... See *evil silly alien rep not for nought you know* *wink**wink*

Just to clarify: it's NOT a formal dinner... more semi casual/formal...

But definitely an option I'm including in the list, so the updated list reads:
Okies... latest counts:
POLL QUESTION: What do you think is the "expected, yet totally astonishing" sight that awaits Max when he turns to see Liz?
a. A drop dead gorgeous Liz that Max is basically gonna drool over?
--> 5 (Kitcat26, nickeygurl13, abbs007, frenchkiss70, Eerie)
b. A slightly less homely looking Liz
--> 1 (Kitcat26)
c. Liz dressed in an outfit meant to embarass Max at the dinner (e.g. grunge, disco, a clown, etc)
--> 1 (nickeygurl13)
d. Any other suggestion
--> 0

lol... You guys are really giving me food for thought to want to incorporate these ideas further down the road... lol... may be even to modify on the original... hhhmmm... we'll see...

But of course, everyone's free to take several stands. np. The more the merrier right? hehehe...


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 23-Apr-2002 2:32:58 AM ]
posted on 26-Apr-2002 5:25:41 AM by Dark Ilk
Okies... so I'm back... and yes... with a new part... hehehe....

As for the outcome of the poll,

POLL QUESTION: What do you think is the "expected, yet totally astonishing" sight that awaits Max when he turns to see Liz?
a. A drop dead gorgeous Liz that Max is basically gonna drool over?
b. A slightly less homely looking Liz
c. Liz dressed in an outfit meant to embarass Max at the dinner (e.g. grunge, disco, a clown, etc)

And the grand prize goes to.... *drumroll*... someone you'll find out when u read the next part. *devil horns springing up on silly alien's head* LOL... I know, I know... *evil*.

Anyway, know you guys have been patient, and thanks for the occasional bumps and encouragement. Thanks to you all. And abt the next part, sorry it's a little shorter than usual. Didn't want to drag it out too long as I'm dying to get into Part 9. Not too sure if it turned out right. I'm not too completely happy with it, but it'll do for the carry-over.

Well, as usual, comments, questions, fb of any kind are welcome. Flame me even! I live for the challenge! *wink**big*

Now, on with the story...

~*~*~*~*~*~

From Part 7

A few seconds pass before I hear the gradual approach of steps onto the porch towards me. Spinning around, my eyes come into contact with an expected, yet totally astonishing, sight.

Time seems to stand still for the briefest of moments.

“Hey Liz.”


~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 8

“Er, Liz?” I move towards her step by gradual step, my earlier irritation completely forgotten as I recall an all-too-familiar episode when the roles were reversed. While I’d spazzed on her in our earlier encounter, she now seemed entranced by something she saw. Looking tentatively around me, it suddenly hits me that she’d been staring at… me… from the back.

Still somehow managing to keep the flowers hidden behind my back, I press my lips together to suppress the smile that hovers around the edges of my lips as insinuations make themselves loudly heard in my head.

“Earth to Spacegirl (*big**tongue* you all get the joke here right?),” I can’t keep the slight teasing tone out of my voice as I lightly snap my fingers in front of her unseeing eyes.

With a start, Liz comes to and stares at me blankly for a moment, as if trying to register who I am. “Huh… Oh…”

Quirking an eyebrow, I await any further response, noting with some mirth that her cheeks have turned a deep shade of red. Pretending to busy herself with a last-minute check of her appearance, she avoids meeting my grinning countenance.

Well, well, well, who would have thought. I guess Liz Parker is just like any other hot-blooded, teenage girl after all.

Hhm, okay. I might have to temper that statement a little as I take in her attire. Now, any other teenage girl would have taken the opportunity to dress it up, especially since the entire town is likely to be there. Not too over the top, mind you. This is the 50’s that we’re talking about afterall. But still, they would have loved the chance to put on their best attire to enjoy any festive occasion they could, and hopefully be the centre of attention wherever possible.

But apparently, this same logic does not apply to one Liz Parker.

Okay, three guesses as to how she’s dressed.

Mentally checking myself to maintain a neutral expression, I watch as she fidgets slightly to adjust her long brown skirt – yes, THAT very same long, brown skirt I’ve seen her wear like FOR-E-VER – and yet another one of her long-sleeved, loose-fitting tops, although the light pink tone she’s chosen in favor of her usual dark colors does look a little more casual than usual.

Does the girl have nothing else in her wardrobe? Or is she so nice to the extent that she even gives away her nicer clothes to the needy?! That girl has close to NO sense of fashion! Not that I’m professing to be a know-it-all of Beaufort’s fashion trends, but being around Izzy has taught me a thing or two about the attire girls usually tong themselves in.

I was expecting that she’d dress differently than her usual school apparel, and THIS, I really was NOT expecting. To her credit, at least her hair’s not in that usual tight bun. It is, however, still tied back from her face into a long ponytail that sways from side to side as she checks her appearance, still refusing to look up.

She’s also wearing her glasses; even her footwear’s the one she wears to school! Man! I so know that I’m in for the ribbing the moment we step out in public view later on.

While the moments pass, Liz finally decides that she is ready, and unwillingly looks up at me. Seeing the wry smile playing around my lips, her initial hesitance slips away, to be quickly replaced by a haughty expression that tries to hide what I’ve just figured out: that the Old Minister’s darling Lizzie Parker can show an interest in cute, male bods!

Look, I’m not trying to be arrogant here, but I do admit to taking pride in maintaining my fitness, as can be vouched for by all my lady companions who have shown their *er hm* appreciation. Not to say that Liz Parker is interested in me specifically, but that she’s not the indifferent little innocent everyone makes her out to be.

Having figured out that she’s not really all that unlike the rest of us “bundles of teenage hormones”, I can’t help but want to see if I can get a rise out of her… but formalities first.

“Here, these are for you,” I say as I bring my right hand from behind my back, passing her the bouquet of white daisies surrounded by forget-me-nots and lots of fern.

The look of surprise is evident in her eyes, but at the same time, she has a slight look of suspicion on her face. One would think she’s expecting me to pull out a can of paint with my other hand to splash in her face.

“Why, thank you Max. How did you know-”

“You don’t remember? Back in fourth grade when Ms. Davies told our art class to draw a house with a garden, you drew a tree house surrounded completely with these purple flowers and white daisies. She tried to explain that that wasn’t what she had wanted us to draw, but you kept insisting that the reverend said that ‘whatever you could dream of, it’d come true so long as you believed’,” I smile faintly as the long-ago memory surfaces.

“You remember that?” she asks while looking down to smell the bouquet, masking her facial expression from my view. No doubt about it though, I can still tell from the timbre of her voice that she’s surprised that I remembered.

“Sure. Why would I forget? The entire class was so hyped up by what you’d said they all started drawing whatever they wanted,” I’d started to laugh in earnest now, remembering that I myself had started drawing a castle surrounded by clouds and white picket fences and like-colored roses, and a girl- Woah. Wait a minute. No need to get into details about me right now.

To my surprise, a tentative smile appears on her face too. In fact, she seems almost on the verge of breaking into laughter as well.

I wonder what that sounds like.

A stunned silence makes itself known before I faintly hear alarm bells beginning to go off in my head. One moment I was trying to goad her into showing any semblance of a temper, and the next…

Clearing my throat, I suddenly turn away, moving towards the edge of the porch before turning back to her.

“You’d better get those into water. And we’d better make a move if we don’t wanna be late,” I say abruptly.

Stealing a backward glance, I see a shadow pass over her expression, the sparkle that was there just a moment ago dampened to hide any emotions I might have stirred at reminding her of childhood memories.

“Yeah, I-I… Give me a minute while I get them into a vase,” she says as she turns to go back into the house. Hesitating before the door, she half-turns to ask softly, “Do you want to come in to wait while…”

“No, it’s okay. I’m fine out here. Wouldn’t want to have your father worrying about what I’ve done with you,” I turn back to face her with a light joke, but I can see that the smile she returns doesn’t quite reach her eyes.

When she closes the door, I mentally kick myself in the rear. I have GOT to get my head on straight. What the heck’s the matter with me?!

After a few moments during which I regain my composure, Liz returns. This time, however, I can feel the frost that’s literally chilling the air.

She marches right up to me with a determined look in her eyes, and I unconsciously take a precarious step back along the edge of the porch as she comes right up to me. It looks like the kitten has retreated, only to be replaced by… a tigress?

Looking deep into my eyes for a moment, she says with a no-nonsense mood. “Look Max. I don’t know what you’re trying to do here, but I’m warning you: do NOT try anything where you cannot face up to the consequences. You want to BE like a man, you better LEARN to behave like one. I, for one, am no plain Jane that you think you can treat as just another pushover.” Crossing her arms in front of her akin to a warrior prepared to ward off a potential enemy, she continues, “I’m may not be aware of what you’re up to right now Max Evans, but trust me when I say that I’ve got my eye on you.”

While I’d winced at her stress on the words that implicitly acknowledged her awareness of the rumors, what totally creeped me out was the way she’d just echoed the exact, earlier sentiments of her father.

Looks like Izzy really meant well when she’d warned me about this evening.

I think my jaw must have dropped in wonderment, because she suddenly seems to realize that she’s never behaved anything but meekly to me… or maybe even to anyone I would think! Her fidgety stance belied her nervousness, but from the look in her eyes, I can see that she really does mean every word that she’d said.

Seeking a truce, I raise my hands in a gesture of surrender, lightly shaking my head as my eyebrows rise with a slight twinkle in my laughing eyes.

“Liz, I promise. I was not trying to be funny here. No ulterior motives here whatsoever.”

“Then why?”

“Why what?” I ask innocently, my mind simultaneously working to see if I can wrangle a confession out of her that she was no more immune to “earthly teenage pleasures” than most of Beaufort’s adolescent population.

“Why the sudden niceness to bring me daisies and remind me of what happened in fourth grade.” It was not a question, but a statement. “And then the sudden turnaround to pull the ‘cool guy’ attitude on me,” she persevered, determined not to back down.

And in the process, giving me the perfect ammunition.

“Well…” I drawled, “I had planned it as a gesture of goodwill, but…” I left the sentence hanging in an attempt to reel her in further.

“But what, Max? Chickening out?” She asks, daunting me, a glint of mischievousness evident in her eyes.

Suddenly, it’s turned into a battle of wills, to see who will rise to the bait first. Liz thinks she’s got the upper hand owing to my guilt over the gym and play incidents, and of course, not to mention the rumors that have recently been brought to my attention. Ah, but she forgot that I hold the trump card.

“Well, it turned out that my gesture appeared to have elicited a response I had not been anticipating,” I said.

“What?” She quirked an eyebrow, “You thought I’d throw the flowers back in your face? Afterall, I would be justified you know,” her stance not relaxing one bit.

Touche. But I’ve got to concede: Parker – 1; Evans – 0… for now.

“Not. Exactly.” A knowing smile can no longer be kept off my face.

Now it’s her turn to squirm, as she suddenly seems to notice the speculative expression on my face for the first time. She suddenly takes a step back towards the main door as though she realizes that she’s beginning to lose ground.

Advancing upon her like a predator homing in on the prey, I play the psychological upper hand.

“I had, in all honesty, expected a less than friendly reception. But *gasp* guess what, it would appear that I was mistaken,” mock surprise coloring my words as they left my mouth.

If I had not already seen her blush earlier, there would NOT have been a more apt opportunity to see her turn the color of a flaming lobster as she gets my underlying hint that I’d caught her red-handed.

Score: Parker – 1; Evans – 1.

Pressing my advantage, I take another step closer, causing her to back up even further.

“It would seem, Miss Parker, that erm… how should I say this… my compensation to you has been more than adequate… and I don’t just mean the flowers.” Winking at her, I flash her a mega-watt smile and back off, tucking my hands into my pockets and leaning on the porch railing as I await her comeback.

And there is none.

Checkmate. 2-1, And Evans wins the game!

As she stands rooted to the spot trying to find the words to deny what she knows only to be the truth, I can feel the grin on my face growing wider.

Seeing that she is truly caught for words, I decide that one good turn deserves another. Afterall, she could have made it difficult for me during our hallway locker conversation and she didn’t. The least I can do for her now is to return the favor. Besides, I really don’t want to be late for the dinner and give Dad – and not to mention the reverend – further cause for heartburn.

Pushing myself off the railing, I take a few steps towards her still prone figure. “Come now Liz Parker. Where’s the stoic voice of reason that I heard just a few moments back? What, you can’t handle that I can ‘BE the man’?” My voice deepens towards the end in a mock boorish tone that actually elicits a smile from her.

“No…” she rebuts, clearly trying to keep the laughter out of her voice when she realizes that a truce has been called, “… just that… I never figured you for one who… never mind,” she says, changing her mind at the last minute and brushing past me to move to the steps leading down to the walkway.

“Wait a minute. Hey, no fair,” I protest, turning to face her now retreating figure. “At least I didn’t leave you hanging.”

And that’s when I am once again stunned into silence as she releases a delightful peal of laughter. Wow, Iz wasn’t joking when she said that Liz could – and has indeed – surprised me.

“Well then,” she says, “I guess that’s what they meant by payback’s a bitch.”

Taking the moment to absorb the fact that this short interlude has revealed a spectrum of passion and emotions the likes of which I have not seen her display often in school, Liz Parker is really turning out to be an intriguing entity. I watch as she moves away from the house, only to gradually come to the realization that I’ve been standing at the exact same spot for the past few seconds.

“Hey Evans. Thought you didn’t want to be late. Tick tock, tick tock,” her fingers mimicking the swinging hands of a pendulum as she mocks my earlier excuse for the attitude change. Well, at least she isn’t holding that against me.

Seeing a curious look cross her face when I still do not move from the spot, she approaches the house again. Confusion, and a little concern if I’m not mistaken, is evident on her face as she reaches me.

“Max, what’s wrong?”

I extend an arm to her, letting a tentative smile graze my lips.

“Milady, the chariot awaits.”

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~

And in what seems to be the norm right now with y'all: I offer the following challenge

FIC CHALLENGE
(a) what you think Max means by that last statement,
(b) what Liz's reaction is to whatever Max seems to have planned.

Cheers for now. And promise I'll get to work on Part 9 asap. *big**big**big**big**big*

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 26-Apr-2002 5:47:55 AM ]
posted on 26-Apr-2002 11:47:37 AM by Dark Ilk
So you guys found the part okay? Wasn't too certain about it when I wrote it and had to rewrite a few times before I finally settled on this... even then.... wasn't too sure how you gals would find it.*bounce**bounce* Thanks for the encouragement!! *big*

nickeygurl13: lol. Not that Liz didn't dress up at all... just tt not the way he'd thot she would. She was a little more casual than usual... just not casual enough I guess. Less... standoffish I think would be the word...

frenchkiss70, Alien614: Like you said... definitely planning for some surprises... let's just hope I can live up to your expectations of "much" and "big" though. *big**big**big*

Anyway, reason asking for the Challenge this time not as teaser. Want to really see if there is an alternative way to carry on. I have an idea for the next two parts already... was just wondering if there were any ideas that you'd like to see included... the party... the after-effects... more of their time together on the way to the party and back, etc... cos hint hint: there's gonna be some flashbacks involved... even if I can't work it in in these parts, it'll give me food for thought for the later parts... of course... I'll accredit the contributors.

Okies... gtg get some zzzz's

Gotta be up by 530am on a Saturday morning to get to work... *silly alien groans*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 26-Apr-2002 11:49:34 AM ]
posted on 30-Apr-2002 1:08:17 AM by Dark Ilk
Firstly, thanks to y'all for the fab fb and all the bumps! WOW! *big**big**big* Wat a vote of encouragement!

It's been a great experience so far, and I just wanted to take this brief respite in my totally horrible assignments / tests schedule to give thanks to all of you who have left me fb. It's not just been encouragement for writing the fic, but in also providing me some much-needed sense of reality-groundedness OUTSIDE of my work.

Okies... now that the mushiness of my sentiments have been exposed... lol...

Hey Eraser Room! sorry that you had such a hard time looking for it. LOL... the quiet ones huh? *wink*

LOL... Abby!! How can u behr to do tt to me? *silly alien mock sniffs* lol... anyway, yes. I am working on Part 9 in between my assignments. Just that the next 2-3 weeks have almost back-to-back assignments, along with tests.

I'll have to apologize in advance for the likely delay. Will still write whenever I get the chance, but my deadlines are basically squeezing me out of any semblence of normal social life... lol... but then again... "what's so great about normal" right? *wink**wink*

Kitcat26: you're almost freaking me out with the way we both seem to be thinking along the same lines... but I will put in a disclaimer that your suggestion doesn't happen when u've indicated. *wink**wink* Just will have to see when it comes out huh? hehehe...

But u'r right. Am glad that Max is beginning to show some evolution from the start of the part and then towards the end. Here's to keeping our fingers crossed that he doesn't do anything too major to screw up his chances big time huh? *big**big*

Hey Spicy! hehehe... It was only a matter of time. No way was I gonna let Liz be a pushover mat. Started the intro of her character that way since most of it was from Max's POV and that's kind of how he viewed her... wat with her *meekness* and general *niceness* around school.

nickeygurl13: Can't wait for the dinner too!! Have planned it in a way that I hope you guys will like. *sad* Now... just a matter of finding the time to write it out.

okies... I REALLY hv to get back to the grinder. Hopefully, the faster I finish, the more I can conc on the fic. Hopefully, with June coming up, I can focus even more on it then.

Till then, au revoire for now everyone... but in famous last words, *I'll be back*
posted on 3-May-2002 6:20:27 AM by Dark Ilk
quote:
abbs007 originally wrote:
So this is just a nice friendly bump with no pressure attached [she says with a gun behind her back] LOL!!!

Abby *big**big*


ROFLOL!! Man, Abby! Thanks for that (and the bump of course)!! I was just grabbing a quick breather when I read your mssg and just laughed out loud and that's really a gd feeling today!! Thanks a bunch!

It's just been a totally sucky day and I still have classes tmr, with my Saturday afternoon probably spent on research for assignments. *Silly alien is abt to scream her head off*

So a really *sweet* - erm... silly alien trying to keep a careful eye on the location of the gun lol - gesture... and will see how quickly I can tie up these next assignments.

I can at least assure all of you fantastic guys that my vacation's coming up in June, so hopefully should get some time off to conc on fic-writing. *big**big**bounce**bounce*

FYI: Am currently about a third of the way into Part 9.

Till then... gonna go grab some dinner... see you gals.
posted on 7-May-2002 1:42:49 PM by Dark Ilk
Oh wow!! You guys nvr cease to amaze me.

Haven't been to the board for a few days as I've been slogging over my assignments due this week (thankfully the last one for this week though still have another 3 big ones due in 3 weeks that I have done ABSOLUTELY no research on yet), and what do I find?

I nearly fell off the chair when I saw the thread on page 1!! You guys... *silly alien sniffles, her heart deeply touched*

frenchkiss70, Abby, Nickeygurl, you gals rock!! Man, thx for the bumps!! And I promise you, even though I'm concentrating more on clearing the %^&&* truckload of assignments, I can solemnly swear that AWTR has not been forgotten. The train trips - though short - have seen further progression of Part 9. So do behr with me. If things can pan out the way I hope they do, I aim to still provide u a new part within the next 7 days.... really trying...

forever dreamer: hello! :wave: wow! am honoured that I've inspired you to get the book. Nic Sparks has a fantastic (with a capital F!) writing style huh!! Glad to see that even though the original story and my adaptation follow sometimes-different-sometimes-crossing paths, you still feel the same way. As for the ending... I'm not gonna give anything away right now... but just tt it ain't over till the fat lady sings!! *wink*

Okies... I'm gonna catch some zzz's oredi... I CANNOT write anything else now... assignments, student profiles, appendices... or FF unfortunately...

In the meantime, my heartfelt appreciation to everyone who's read the fic so far, and loved it as much as I have in adapting it. Hope you'll stay on for the ride... *happy**happy*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-May-2002 1:44:09 PM ]
posted on 10-May-2002 1:47:20 PM by Dark Ilk
okies... it's Friday night / Sat morning and I cannot keep away from this... the bad news... sorry this took so long in coming... the good news... to thank you gals for your kind patience... Part 9's abt the longest one yet that I've written.

Without further ado, here it is. Hope u all enjoy it... and leave me fb as usual... *bounce**bounce*

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 9

Lightly whistling a long-forgotten tune that was recently brought to mind, I stroll along the pathway back home, my hands tucked in my pockets, my mind swimming with thoughts of the events of the night just passed.

It would seem that our little Lizzie Parker is one bag of surprises, and boy was I party to some of them tonight. Come to think of it, I’m still in a state of semi-disbelief that they actually happened.

You be the judge of it.

~*~ Flashback ~*~

”Huh? What do you mean ‘chariot’? Max, we’re going to the town’s dinner, not Queen Victoria’s coronation,” Liz’s voice is filled with slightly amused confusion.

“Lighten up Liz. I don’t mean it in the literal sense.” Seeing the lingering suspicions still swirling around in her eyes, I elaborate. “I borrowed my Dad’s Jag?”, pointing to the vehicle parked on the road a little behind the front of her house.

“Oh.” A faint blush colors her cheeks yet again and I wonder why she doesn’t appear this way often in school. Who knows, with the right makeup and clothes, she might just-

Okay. A little off-track there.

“Max,” she says in an uncertain voice, as if wary that I will be upset with what she’s about to say.

“Yeah?” I say absentmindedly as I start down the porch stairs towards the Jag.

“Erm, would you mind if we DIDN’T take the car?” It is only when I spin around that I realize that she hasn’t moved from the perch I used to occupy. Seeing the raised eyebrows, she hurries to explain herself.

“I’m not trying to act bitchy to get back you or anything like that, it’s just that-”

Holding up a hand to stop her flow of words, I suddenly realized I’d miscalculated. “Wait. Don’t tell me. Let me guess. The fumes from the car contribute to the pollution of the environment. And you cannot bring yourself to be any part of such an act that might-”

Holding up both HER hands to effectively stop my flow of words, she rolls her eyes while trying to hide a quirk in her lips.

“Do you really think I’m THAT goody-two-shoes? It’s not always about saving the world, you know?” she emphasizes as she approaches me.

I feel my eyebrows shoot for the skies while the widening gap that is my mouth seems ready to invite bugs of any size to fly through. Even then, I try to chortle the laugh that seeks to break forth. Do my ears deceive me?

“Hey,” she says with mock indignation, reading the expression on my face all too accurately as she stops in front of me by the side of the road, “I resent that. I do know how to relax and have some fun you know.”

At the further raising of my eyebrows, she blushes slightly even as she says, “Well… when I’m not… at the orphanage… or the community home… or…” she admits with a little sigh, “… okay, I admit it. I do seem pretty busy saving the world.”

“Glad to see you’ve got your priorities set right,” I say with a wry grin, no hint of sarcasm evident in my voice.

Apparently, she realizes that we’ve drawn a truce, and flashes a bright smile at me… and I’m floored. Wow.

Clearing my throat in an attempt to clear the sudden fuzziness in my head, I realize that Liz has been saying something.

“… such a nice evening that I thought it would be nice… you know, to just walk over to the dinner. Not too warm, not too chilly. Just nice. What do you think Max?”

What do I think? What was the question?

Nice? Definitely.

Wait. What’s nice?

Oh. The weather. Walking instead of taking the Jag.

“Oh, okay. I guess, if that’s what you want,” I say. Unable to keep from teasing her just a little more, I add “… though you’re sure you wouldn’t want to be the one to have good done unto you? I’d think you’ve accumulated more than enough good points with the Man upstairs to last a lifetime,” pointing a finger upwards into the evening sky, flush with pastel shades of purple, pink and blue with the coming dusk.

The smile on her face tightens for a moment, and I get the distinct feeling that I’ve said something to upset her. Whispering under her breath, I faintly catch the word “long” before she turns to me.

Seeing the quizzical expression on my face, she asks, “What?”

Not wanting to change the buoyant mood, I cannot help but ask about her seemingly fleeting sadness. Keeping a lid on the teasing tone that threatens to rear its head, I ask a little uncertainly, “You were saying… something about… ‘long’?”

Her glittering eyes betray no hint of her momentary flash of weakness from earlier as she answers me without missing a beat, “Just wondering how ‘long’ I can take your brand of humor. At this rate, it’ll take us forever to get to the dinner. Wouldn’t want our fathers to worry that we’ve massacred each other in the attempt to get to dinner now, do we?”

Smooth cover, but I can tell something’s bothering her. Letting the matter slide for now, I flash a grin and a wink, bowing slightly. Extending a hand, palm outwards, I point the way down the path.

“Shall we then, milady?”

Holding her head up high like one of those courtiers you hear about in medieval fairy tales, she replies in an almost stately manner, “We shall.”

~*~*~*~*~*~

“Max! You’re here!”

I almost choke and fall off my seat as a resounding whack lands on my back courtesy of one Michael Guerin.

Turning around hesitantly, I try to psyche myself up for what I am sure will be a trying night.

Liz and I made our appearance at the dinner about fifteen minutes ago, and already I’ve heard the buzz going around the rumor-mill. Thankfully, Liz seemed oblivious to the underlying hum, and seemed more intent on the homely and cozy decorations adorning the place. Excitedly, she’s quietly pointed out to me the colorful posters adorning the walls of the hall, some of which are causes that she’s working with. She seems to have forgotten the animosity between us, seemingly intent to enjoy this evening as though she’d never been to one… or maybe more as if she’ll never be to another one like it. Whatever the case, her passion for life and animation during our walk over to dinner seemed to have rubbed off a little on me as well as I take in our surroundings with a different perspective.

After making a round about the hall, we’d found a table not too far from the entrance to settle at. Most of the crowd was nearer to the front, but Liz didn’t seem to want to be too near the front where she knew she’d be the center of attention, being the daughter of the VIP and all. Not to sound like a jerk, but I wasn’t too enthusiastic about publicizing my appearance with Liz either, so I didn’t make too much of a fuss.

Of course, leave it to Michael to find me without any trouble.

Coming face to face to Michael and Maria, the former with a knowing smirk on his face, I shoot him a look that spoke volumes of the direction of conversation I did NOT want him to pursue. I’d thank the Lord if he’d just give me this one evening of sanity.

“Lizzie! So nice to see you at one of these. Michael and I were just having drinks and wondering who Max was going to bring to fend off his horde of admirers,” Maria teases in a sing-song voice, in what I interpret as an attempt at light-hearted conversation to make Liz feel more comfortable even as a light tint of pink flushes her cheeks.

Okay, I see the reclusive lady’s back in control.

A slight quiver in her voice, she says, “Well, I-uh, don’t think that’s exactly how things are. Max is just-”

“-Just going to get us both a glass of punch. Michael, care to come with me to get one for Maria too?” I intervene before she continues further.

Standing up abruptly from the table, I literally drag Michael by the crook of his arm, the latter stumbling a little, across to the other end of the hall where the refreshments are. I feel bad just leaving Liz with Maria seeing that they’re not that familiar with each other, but better her with Maria than Michael.

Turning to face Michael once we were out of the ladies’ view, I frown as I see the playful look on Michael’s face.

“Michael, don’t start tonight alright? Take it as a favor to my Dad… to YOUR Dad! I mean… you wouldn’t want them to get mad at either one of us in front of the townsfolk…” Yes, I admit it. I’m not too moral to stoop to emotional blackmail to get Michael to back off from whatever he’s planning. And he’s up to something. I just know it.

“Maxie…” he slurs slightly as he drapes an arm over my shoulder, “Like I would EVER dream of doing A-NY-THING to my best bud,” before he bursts into a sudden bout of laughter that he covers up by clapping a hand to his mouth.

My eyebrows furrowing at the sight before me, it occurs to me that the light I see in Michael’s eyes isn’t so much of mischievousness in planning my “downfall”…

Oh. My. God. The guy’s plastered! And in front of the entire townsfolk no less!

Looking frantically around me to see if anything is amiss, I spy Sean DeLuca out of the corner of my eye… spiking the punch bowl with alcohol!

Oh shit!!

Other than the obvious reason that Michael is now officially drunk, I had forgotten that Sean would have been present at the event as well. Which means Peggy probably would be there too. The fact that Sean’s just looked up to see me catch him red-handed … and making his way none too subtly straight towards me has my heart-rate suddenly accelerating.

Spinning away, I head back towards to the table at a semi-frantic pace, supporting Michael with one arm around his waist, my other hand clamping his arm firmly around my shoulder to keep him from just completely slipping to the ground in a puddle. My pace is currently not helped by Michael who’s making funny faces at me as he looks up at me in befuddled bemusement.

“What? Missing Lizzie Liz Parker already? Maxie… never knew you had the hots for her…” he semi-frowns at me, pushing his lower lip out in a mock semi-pout, “… and to think that I’m your best friend.”

“Shut up Michael!” Clenching my teeth, I admonish him under my breath as we approach the table… only to find that Liz and Maria are no longer there!

Oh man! Come on! And to think I’d thought that my troubles tonight would be facing Liz. First things first, I’ve got to find her.

Turning about again with the intention to scan the crowd, I come face to face with a glowering Sean DeLuca.

Oops.

“H-Hey Sean.”

“Max.” The reply is curt, an undertone of hostility lining the word.

Getting a firmer grip on Michael to prevent him from further sliding down my side, I realize that no one’s actually paying us much attention as we’re near the back of the room. With a sinking feeling churning in my gut, I suddenly wish we’d taken a table nearer the front. The idle thought occurs to me that maybe the crowd could have been able to pull Sean off me before he completely reduced me to a film of red to mesh with the like-colored carpet of the room. Oh, didn’t I tell you that the hall was carpeted? In red no less. Not that it’s gonna make much difference in a little while.

“Any interesting you saw tonight Max?” Sean asks, clapping me hard on the back twice, reminding me of my earlier encounter with Michael. Only this time, I figure it’s gonna have a much less desirable result.

“I-I was just getting drinks.”

“I don’t think you’d like it… not when it’s had ‘added ingredients’,” he emphasizes the last two words.

I know he’s baiting me.

“W-what ‘added ingredients’? I didn’t see anyone adding anything…” I wimp out, not wishing to have another reminder of the last altercation I had with Sean. You DO remember what happened prior to that particular drama class session when Liz first joined the class right?

“Rightt. Then I guess then that all’s well and good,” and I breathe a silent sigh of relief as he starts to back away from me. “Come on then, I guess the drinks will do you good to loosen you up. You and your date. Where is she anyway? Any hottie I know?” he smirks at his painful reminder of what he’s stolen from me.

Clamping down on the urge to knock the crap out of him, I address him curtly, “I’m fine Sean. And so is she. We had some before coming, so we’re good.”

His eyes narrowing into slits, he freezes in mid-stride, only to come closer to me again. Pausing as if to consider something, he suddenly releases an unexpected laugh as a grin breaks out on his face.

“Hey! That’s right! You came with the little Christmas Angel herself didn’t you? And to think she looks like such an innocent.” Inching closer, he deadpans “So tell me, does the preacher’s daughter fuck as piously as the way her father sermons his congregation? I bet she must be screaming for *God’s deliverance* when she comes… just as religiously as her father chides the fornicators huh? I mean, she must be a real act in the sack to actually have you bring her out into the open?”

And all I see is a blinding red tide of rage. Releasing my grip on Michael to let him slide onto the nearest chair, I’m about to take a swing at the bastard when something steps in the way.

It takes a moment for me to take hold of my senses to realize that someone… someone being Liz… is the one standing between a would-be-bloodied pulp and me… or maybe between two bloodied pulps if our last encounter was any indication.

“Sean, just the person I needed to see,” Liz interjects brightly as if she didn’t hear what he’d just said. Even then, I can feel her use her slight frame to cleverly hold me at bay from advancing towards Sean any further. I pray to God that she didn’t hear his remarks. No one, *especially* a seemingly goody-two-shoes deserves such comments.

“Look,” she continues, ignoring my presence behind her completely as she faces Sean, “I need a little help. Your cousin, Maria, well… she seems to have taken ill in the ladies and I was trying to help her. But I think it would be best if maybe you could help me with her? She seems a little…” her voice lowers here, “… drunk…” before returning to her normal speaking level, “… and I don’t think any of the adults around here would look too kindly upon that.”

Remember, we are talking about the fifties here and getting sloshed was NOT deemed acceptable, especially when said parties were in full view of the town’s people.

I see Sean standing there dumbfounded, regarding this little slip of a girl. One moment he’d been insinuating unmentionables about her sexuality, not even knowing whether she’d overheard his comments, and the next, she was treating him like he was the God Almighty – and yes, I see the irony of the phrase – seeking his help to provide assistance to his own cousin whom she had been helping. He seemed torn between thanking the girl who’d extended a helping hand, and wallowing in shame for the comments he’d made just moments ago about her.

A moment of silence hung in the air before he asks tersely, “where is she?” He’s looked away from both Liz and myself.

“I managed to help her clean up somewhat in the ladies, but she’s waiting just outside the hall. I told her I’d see about getting her a ride home,” Liz answers smoothly, still ignoring me.

A beat passes. “Thanks Liz,” then he hurries towards the entrance without so much as a backward glance.

As Liz and I watch him go, I exhale loudly, not realizing till then that I’d been holding my breath during the fracas. Silently, we both take our seats, each on either side of Michael who, amazingly, has been unconscious during this little escapade.

Watching her tuck stray strands of hair behind her ear, I cannot help but have newfound respect for this girl… no… lady. She’s really quite a person not to reckon with. Put bluntly, even I was reluctant to face up to Sean. Yet there she was, basically David facing a towering Goliath in the form of a Sean DeLuca lughead.

“So…” I go.

“So…” She repeats with a little smile as she looks up to meet my eyes.

Taking a deep breath, I look away and scan the room. Spotting Kyle and Alex, I turn back to her. “Hang on here for a moment okay? Michael’s out like a light and I need to make sure he has a ride back without his father being none the wiser.”

Nodding her head, she trains a watchful eye on Michael. Pausing a moment to see her sitting there so serenely when just a moment ago she’d practically been Wonderwoman, I give myself a mental shake to move towards the two guys.

Making the arrangements was not a problem since Kyle had driven to the dinner, and after helping them getting Michael to the car, I turned to go back into the hall to talk to Liz.

Taking the seat next to her, I feel my body relax fully for the first time this evening. First, it had been an emotional roller-coaster ride in ‘dealing’ with Liz, then worrying about how our appearance together at the dinner would seem to everyone else, then the Michael and Sean debacles… Come to think about it, it’s been one strange evening, and to think that the night still wasn’t over.

I come to the realization that this is really isn’t a nice enough setting to enjoy the evening that’s had its fair share of ups and downs. And if I had my way, it’d end on a note of more memorable and pleasant ones than those best left forgotten. In fact…

Standing up suddenly, I hold out a hand to her as she looks up at me in amazement.

“Let’s get out of here.”

~*~ End Flashback ~*~


I am drawn out of my thoughts with the realization that I’ve reached the steps of my own home. Just staring up at the house for a moment, I cannot help but feel that an irrevocable shift has just taken place.

I’ve never known Liz Parker before this. I mean, really known her. I thought I did, but obviously, I’m forced to take back my words in light of tonight’s developments. As to what it is, I haven’t been able to figure out what it is quite just yet.

Breathing a contented sigh, I make my way into the house and into my room, walking in a daze the whole way as I go over the events in my head.

What does it all mean? Does it even mean anything at all?

Lying down on my bed still fully dressed, I absentmindedly kick off my shoes as I stare up at the ceiling.

Startled out of my thoughts by the slight rapping on my door, I lift my head off the bed just in time to see the door open to admit one very excitable, older sister.

“You have absolutely NO sense of privacy do you?” I ask in a slightly disgruntled manner.

“So… I hear there was some excitement at the dinner?” Isabel ignores my question altogether, faking an air of indifference as she sits on the foot of my bed near my feet.

Snorting slightly at her non-too subtle attempt to find out more information, I roll my eyes and turn on my side, effectively cutting her out of my line of sight. I stifle a grin as I hear Izzy “harrumph” loudly and move into my vision, hands bunched up in fists, resting on her hips.

“Maxwell Philip Evans. Did you hear what I just said?” she maintains her air of Miss High-And-Mighty even as I keep up my shroud of silence.

“Oh, come on, Max…” she suddenly changes tactics, seeing that I refuse to bend to her hardball method. Maintaining a poker face, I watch as her expression changes swiftly from ice princess to that akin to a curious five-year-old who cannot wait to find out what she got in the beautifully wrapped box for her Christmas gift. As she bounces up and down lightly on my bed, I cannot help the slow smile that makes it way to my lips.

“It went… without any casualties,” I say evasively.

With an exaggerated roll of her eyes, Izzy utters in an almost bored tone, “Obviously… I mean, you only took two and a half hours to walk her home. Come on, I missed the whole incident and you so HAVE to let me in on the details,” her eyes twinkling with amusement as she watches for any change in my expression.

Hhmm, she is one sharp lady, Isabel Evans. Yes indeed, siree. Had not thought that she’d noted the time I left the dinner with Liz immediately after the incident until the time I’d made it back home.

Propping myself up on one elbow as I survey the obvious interest just ready to burst forth from Izzy, I lean forward a little as if to share a conspiratorial revelation. Seeing my action, she eagerly moves closer as well to hear what I have to say.

“Well…” I begin.

“Yeah?” she counters, her eyes growing even wider and saucer-like at the impending fount of knowledge she is expecting.

“… I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you,” I merrily tell her, releasing a long-held laugh and leaning back on my pillows as I see her jaw drop wide and her eyebrows rise, almost disappearing into her hairline if it were possible.

“Why you little…” she says.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk. Come now, my dear sis. Expletives are not your area of expertise. Why don’t you just leave that to the specialists? I wouldn’t want Mum and Dad shocked by such words coming out of their darling daughter’s mouth.”

Narrowing her eyes murderously at me, she visually shoots daggers as she pouts at my refusal to tell her what happened tonight. Cupping my hands behind my head, my eyes close and I hear her move off the bed with enough of a jerk to cause the mattress to bounce slightly. The smile still playing on my lips, I hear the rustle of her dress as she practically stomps from my room, banging my bedroom door in the process.

Naw, she’ll just have to wait just like everyone else who was at the party to figure out what really happened…

Just like me.

To tell you the truth, at this point in time, I myself really don’t know what to expect next.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~
posted on 10-May-2002 9:13:12 PM by Dark Ilk
Wow!! Wat a cool way to wake up and see that you guys enjoyed it as much as I had fun writing it. Don't worry... the fun is yet to come. *big**big**big*

Wanna reply to each og your indiv postings. but hv classes in abt 15 min. I'll be back later this evening or tmr morning to reply.

Thanks to everyone in the meantime... and I promise... More M/L interaction to come in Part 10.

Anyone care to hazard a guess what type of scenario setting? *wink**wink**big*

toodles for now.
posted on 11-May-2002 1:30:36 PM by Dark Ilk
lol... okies... first and foremost... always my thanks for the fb u guys leave... *big**big**big*

roswellluver: LOL... oh boy will he be learning more abt Liz in the coming parts... though I don't want this to go as fast as in the book, so my apologies that I won't be tt fast in terms of the pacing... hope tt's okies

Kitcat26: *bounce**bounce**bounce* u wanna know... lol.. so do I... hehehe... don worry... it's not the blind leading the blind... know where I'm headed... just need to figure out how to let u see it the way I do... hopefully... hehehe... yes... Sean was an utter ^&*(*%$... as for the "long" comment... well... *wink* guess tt'll just mean I can get u to read the fic to find out right? hehehe... *evil silly alien grins as she wiggles her eyebrows* hehehe... And Izzy and Max... had to get tt in somewhere... din want it to be AL M/L afterall... *happy*

nickey: definitely babe... working on it even as we speak... in between assigns of course tt is... *happy**happy*

Eerie: Hey babe!! gd to see you back!! Glad tt I made someone else's day beyond my own... *big**big* n don't worry... u'r not the oni one grinning goofily.. so was I when I was writing and even during editing... lol... n get ur mind outta the gutter girl!! *silly alien teases* as for Max rejoining the play.... hehehe... surprised no one had asked before abt tt... but patience now... revelation coming soon... hehehe...

Welcome the better twin and jeremiah!! :wave: always honored to hv new readers who enjoy the fic... some parts similar to the book, but mostly different... don't really intend to follow the movie's events... but tt's for now... no promises abt the future... might consider at some pt in time... but for now... hope u enjoy as I update new parts. *big**big*

Liz Park: Hey babe!! Like ur version too, but I see tt u'r going with the movie rather than the book huh? should be fun... esp when I see tt we;ve got some common readers... lol... just don spoil them too much for me okies? lol... no no no... some outcomes may even differ significantly... *wink**wink*

Abby: Hey babe!! *silly alien waves enthusiastically* I managed to cough up a part despite the expected work load!! *big**big**big* *silly alien gives herself a pat on the head* hehehe... Glad to see that I wasn't the oni one tickled by wat happened with Michael and Maria... lol... bet u didn't see tt coming... *wink*

frenchkiss70: LOL... I'm working on it every opportunity I get outside of work... I swear!! *silly alien crosses her heart and hopes to die*

okies... gonna go get washed up (just got back from watching spidey a second time with some pals)... then work a little more on Part 10 before some much needed zzz's.

In the meantime, thanks everyone... *happy**happy*
posted on 16-May-2002 6:02:40 AM by Dark Ilk
Hey everyone... just a quick note. My apologies for the delay with the new part. Am about halfway through it and hope to post it by the weekend latest.

Also reeling from the fact that there's no more new Roswell eps to look fwd to... despite all the glaring potholes (yes, plotholes too) ... I do miss the show already... and bawling my eyes out over Max/Liz, Jim/Kyle, Michael/Maria, Izzy/parents, Izzy/Jesse. Glad they (kinda) worked out the relationships... but the plot!! *sad**sad**sad* Major disappointment...

Sigh... I guess a love-hate relationship with JK then... okies... gonna get some rest... then more work on Part 10. I can't take doing more work after 5 straight hours of lessons without lunch... *silly alien growls hungrily*

Thanks for all the bumping you guys... and of course, welcome to mica and glad to hv u back again Alien 614.

TTYL everyone. *big* *silly alien stifles a yawn*
posted on 16-May-2002 3:30:48 PM by Dark Ilk
Okay... so I just started writing and just couldn't stop. So here's presenting the latest installment: Part 10! Hope you gals like it. I was struggling not to giggle as I wrote it, espcially in view of the M/L we'll be missing... but enough of doom and gloom.

Note: If I made any mistakes in geography, my sincere apologies. I don't live in the States and am basically writing it with my own take on the environment they are in.

Here's promises of pure Dreamer interaction in this chapter. Hope you enjoy it. And fb pls. *big*

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 10

“Okay”

The single word was all she said before allowing herself to be pulled out of the dinner hall. I guess what surprised me the most about her reaction was exactly that… the lack of one. With my ‘reputation’, you’d think she’d be suspicious over my motives. Her apparent trust that I had no ill intentions only reinforced my decision.

When we’d exited from the hall, I had had a moment of doubt: the location I was bringing her to. It had always been my sanctuary… whenever I’d felt that the problems I faced were too big for me to handle … my issues with my father… when I just wanted some time away even from Michael… just a place where I could just… be me.

It hadn’t been any well-thought out plan. I just figured it would be nice to go someplace quiet and… talk. The few hours we’d been together so far had been at a frantic pace… and even though it hadn’t been my idea to be her escort to the dinner originally, I have to admit that it is nice being around her.

On our walk over to dinner, there’d been instances where we hadn’t even needed to talk. We’d just walk side-by side in companionable silence, occasionally looking up to catch one looking at the other, then smiling before looking away to continue on. There’d be interjections of conversations here and there, but the stretches of silence were never uncomfortable. Around her, I found that there was no need for me to behave in a certain manner. No need to be a jock… no need to be the Congressman’s son…

Which was why I guess I felt confident enough to bring her here. Despite a niggling voice of self-doubt, she really didn’t strike me as one who would laugh off what I was about to do.

Considering we hadn’t actually had dinner, we grabbed a quick sandwich each at one of the few mom-and-pop shops still open for business before heading out. I also took the opportunity to buy a small torchlight, as I didn’t want to chance us getting lost in the darkness that was coming upon us.

The evening sky had just begun to darken to deeper hues of dark lavender with middling shades of gray when we’d arrived. The jagged walls of the quarry to our front and right were a good height above our heads, but what made her catch her breath when she first took in our surroundings had been the body of water standing between us and the solid wall. It was enclosed by the quarry wall about two-thirds way around the circular lake, with a short stretch of shoreline and a semi-dense foliage taking up the rest of the circumference. Although the waters were still, there were several hidden crevices in the quarry wall, creating undercurrents that caused constant ripples on the water. The water level wasn’t too deep, and the liquid was normally a blue-green color, the flatstones on the waterbed visible through the depths.

Because the winding path to our destination had been pretty heavily wooded on both sides and I had not given the slightest hint of where I was bringing her, she had no clue as to the sight awaiting her.

When she had first sighted the pond, she’d frozen in her tracks, a fascinated “oh” barely making past her lips before she slowly resumed her steps, approaching the vision before her. Her awed reaction to the view was exactly as mine had been the first time I had accidentally happened upon this trail. It was during one of the times when I’d had a particularly bad quarrel with Dad that I’d left the house in a huff, walking aimlessly with no destination in mind. Wandering quite a way off into the woods near our residence, I’d somehow found this little isolated pocket of land that no one else seemed to know about… until now that is.

I could not help but beam a little at the wonder I saw on her face. It gave me an unfamiliar sense of pride to know that I was the one who had put it there.

Due to the time of day, the slightly sloping stretch of gravel leading to the water that we were standing on gave us an utterly breathtaking view of the gradually sinking sun just over the ‘V’ shape formed by the sloping quarry wall and canopy of trees, the light bouncing off the surface of the rippling water to create the effect of sparkling diamonds on the water surface. The water closer to the quarry wall had taken on a deeper green color due to the time of day, but the view was no less awe-inspiring.

Keeping her in view out of the corner of my eye as we both watch the spectacular vision before us, my heart feels truly lightened for the first time this evening. Taking a deep breath that releases the tension from my body, we make eye contact at the same time and smile… and I feel like everything’s exactly as it should be.

~*~*~*~*~*~

“You have to be kidding! Really?” A look of semi-disbelief is reflected in her eyes as she takes in my words. Even without the torchlight, the darkness of the evening sky is illuminated by the moonlight, reflecting off the water surface and letting me see the emotions that she clearly wears on her sleeve. “That’s just… so sad…”

“I know…” I sigh a little, picking up a random pebble by my side where Liz and I are seated along the edge of the lake, and toss it into the darkened waters with a slight flick of my hand.

“… and so… funny!” as she breaks into light peals of laughter.

“Hey! Not so too!” I protest with feigned hurt in my tone. Looking away to pick up more small pebbles to launch a mini-arsenal at her, she shifts slightly from her position to duck the flying missiles. Maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to tell her about how my ‘bad boy’ reputation had been attained. You know, the one with the soapy windows and boiled peanuts?

“Hey! You’re not playing fair,” she denounces, brushing off the gravel that have caught on her skirt and top.

“All’s fair in love and war Liz.”

“We’re definitely not in love, so it’s war then!” She laughs as she stands and starts gathering ‘ammunition’.

Momentarily fazed by her unassuming comments, I quickly brush the thought aside to join in her gleeful diversion. Moving from my sitting position to ‘mobilize infantry’, our laughter echo off the walls of the quarry even as the moon shines down on the water, creating a reflection that enhances the surreal atmosphere we find ourselves in.

I hear “Take that peanut boy!” just before a small shower of dust and pebbles rain down on me, her laughter ringing out clearly in the night.

“Don’t make me wish I’d never told you Liz.”

“Or what?”

Raising an eyebrow, I pause to wonder if there’s somehow been a personality switch. A girl who’s got – what I’d dare to venture as – a little mischievous spark has now replaced the normally reticent Liz Parker.

And she takes the opportunity to launch another avalanche of sand and gravel.

“Hey!” I protest, before I too get embroiled in our little war.

“Ouch!” I suddenly wince as something catches in my eye, my movements freezing at the same time as I try to clear my head, the pain shooting clear through to my brain. Feeling my eye begin to tear, the sting begins to clear even as Liz hurries over, concern etched on her face.

“Max! Oh dear! Come on. Sit down and let me have a look at that,” she calmly tries to settle me down on the ground. Her voice, however, belies her nervousness. “I’m so sorry. I-I hadn’t meant to hurt you-”

“Hey, it was an accident. Don’t blame yourself, okay?” I try to reassure her even as I feel the pain recede. Rubbing my eye slightly, I try to attribute the slight shivers running down my spine due to the chilly night air, rather than to the fact that Liz is holding my face in both her hands even as she checks for any further signs of injury to my face.

“Are you sure?” She asks, tilting my face up and closer to her for inspection as she smoothens the hair away from my face to check for possible injuries not visible to her eye.

“I’m fine dear,” the endearment slips out even before I can halt the words.

It’s as though she realizes for the first time that she’s touching me, because the instant the words are out of my mouth, her movements still. Suddenly withdrawing her hands as if burnt by a flame, I see a similar glow… only that it’s in her cheeks as she blushes upon hearing my words.

It’s the first time tonight that the silence between us is actually awkward. I can also feel a flush working its way up my neck and cheeks as I realize the implications of how I have just addressed her. It’s not that I… Sigh, I just don’t know what to think…

Now seated with a hair’s breath of space between us, I can feel the apprehension coursing through the air between us. My breath hitches as I try to inhale deeply… and only succeed in drawing more dust into my lungs that results in a slight coughing fit.

Her embarrassment from earlier forgotten, she turns a concerned look over at me even as she settles herself on her knees in front of me. With the moonlight behind her, the semi-darkness shadows the emotions on her face, but I can feel the concern coming off her in waves.

“You okay?” This time, she is wary in making physical contact, but I can make out the nuances of worry in her voice nonetheless.

Letting my coughing fit pass before I answer her, I look up to see the sorrow stamped on her face.

“Hey…” I cajole her lightly, trying to coax a smile out of her. It is so unbecoming to see faces filled with sorrow. I’ve never like to see someone sad, but somehow, on her… it seems completely wrong.

“Hey…” I lower my head slightly to make eye contact when I see that she’s still genuinely distressed over my condition, “… don’t you take this as an excuse to go soft on me now. It’s still war remember?”

Seeing the tentative smile return to her face, I cannot help but smile back in return.

Settling back down to her position beside me, she says a little uncertainly, “How about a little time-out? Not to bruise your male ego by suggesting that you need to rest, but let’s just… talk. Think you can handle that?” The hint of mischief is back in her voice.

“I can take anything you can throw at me Parker,” I parry.

“Okay. Why did you pull out of the play?” She looks me directly in the eye while asking.

Ooh. I think I just opened a can of worms.

“Well…” I hesitate, uncertain of how to answer her. Come to think of it, I’m beginning to wonder why myself.

“My shoulder, remember?” Even that came out sounding lame to my own ears.

“Right,” she says softly, faint traces of disappointment weaved into her tone that I’m not willing to come clean with her.

After a slight stillness, “I… I’m just really… not sure about how well I would fit into the role. And from the sounds of it, Miss Garber’s making a really big deal out of it this year. And with my ‘reputation’,” she rolls her eyes slightly at this, a slight smile pulling at her lips despite herself, “… I don’t want to be a bigger disappointment than I already am,” I concede, and this isn’t really lying considering it is ONE of the reasons… just… maybe not the MAIN reason.

A look of astonishment flashes over her face as she hears what I said. I hold my tongue as she continues to watch me silently. Unable to continue holding her gaze, I look out towards the water while she ponders my profile.

“You really think that?” I can hear the surprise in her voice.

“Doesn’t your father?”

“What does my father have anything to do with this?” A slightly defensive tone creeps into her voice.

Still facing the shoreline, I continue softly. “Liz, I’m not trying to imply anything about your Dad,” My tone lightens a little as I turn to face her, “More likely that he’d castrate me if he knew that I’d taken you away from the dinner with absolutely no idea of where I was bringing you.”

“He wouldn’t-”

“Liz, you forget. It’s me… and of course Michael too, that your father remembers most from our past ‘encounters’,” I throw a knowing grin in her direction, daring her to prove me otherwise.

“Well…” she stalls, “He was surprised about the dinner arrangements when Congressman Evans mentioned it to him…”

At the beaming grin that plasters itself on my face upon my all too accurate guess, she smacks me lightly on the arm before continuing.

“As I was saying,” she says in a tone akin to chiding a naughty child, “it was… unexpected.”

“Okay, my turn. Why did you agree to the arrangement then? I would have thought that after the play fiasco, the last thing you would have wanted to do was to be within a hundred-mile radius of me.”

It’s her turn to stare out into the darkness of the quarry lake. “Why would you say that?”

God, the girl is infuriating! She answers my questions with more questions.

“I HAVE heard the rumors going around Liz. Let’s put it this in a nice way: they weren’t very ‘flattering’. I wouldn’t have been surprised that you’d rather refuse to go to the dinner altogether.”

Softly, she states, “I wouldn’t want to disappoint my Dad, not when I… not when it’s such an honor for him. I wanted him to be able to share the moment with his loved ones. Mom’s no longer around. I just wanted to make sure I’m there for him as much as... as he’s been there for me all my life,” she says, a streak of stubborn determination underlining her last statement.

“It really means that much to you to be at that dinner?” I ask, a little perturbed by the fact that I practically just dragged her away from the very place she had wanted to be tonight.

I think she caught the note of unease in my voice, as she turns to me with a slight smile.

“Now I guess it’s MY turn to assuage your guilt. Don’t worry about me missing the dinner. Dad won’t really mind. It’s just something I wanted to do for him. But considering that Maria and Michael were the way they were, I wouldn’t want Dad’s impression of you to get any worse if he’d seen what happened. Would you?” she teases.

Releasing a nervous laugh, “No… you’re right. I definitely wouldn’t want that.”

A silence descends upon us again. Comforting this time. Reassuring in its presence. Heartening with its quiet encouragement.

“So we’re good?” This is me. And I’m not just referring to now. The undertones of my asking forgiveness for Michael’s drunkenness… for Sean’s stupid stunt tonight… for my wimping out in front of said lughead… for my pulling out of the play… for my stupid, asinine comments she’d overheard in the gym… for every wrong thing I could have possible done to her in the short span of a few weeks, whether consciously or otherwise.

For a moment, I see a flash of uncertainty in her eyes before she returns her gaze to the now still waters.

A beat passes before I hear a conviction-filled voice say the words that give me a sense of serenity. “We’re good,” this she says, as she turns to face me again, a genuine smile lighting up her face.

I honestly don’t know if she’d really forgiven me for all the things I’d hinted at, but I know this much. Liz Parker dares to speak her mind… and dares to go out on a limb to believe in the goodness of another, forgiving those who have strayed, to give them a second chance.

As a slight breeze blows in from the lake, I watch tendrils of hair escape from her ponytail to light brush across her face. Unconsciously, my hand reaches up to brush it away. Lingering a little on her cheek, I absently note that her skin’s so soft. I open my mouth to say something to lighten the moment, but one look into her eyes… and nothing comes to mind… nothing but-

“Come on Max,” she turns away from me abruptly, standing as she does so. With her back facing me, she makes a display of brushing of the sand and gravel from her clothes, but I know that I’ve got her a little disconcerted.

Heck! I’ve got me disconcerted! What was that about?

She doesn’t give me much time to ponder further as she starts walking back the way we came.

“Liz…” I call out, but my voice falters as I see her steps come to a standstill, back towards me still.

I hesitate for only a fraction of a second. “H-Hang on. I don’t want this… you to trip or anything. It’s dark back there.” Moving closer to her, I switch on the flashlight and continue in a lighter tone to break the earlier tension, “Wait up for me. Wouldn’t want to get your Dad riled at me if I brought you back home in any way other than intact and in one piece.”

“No. We wouldn’t want that happening would we, Mr. Evans?” she smiles as she turns back to face me, waiting for me to make my way over.


“… we wouldn’t want that happening would we, Mr. Evans?” Confusion furrows my brows by the sudden change in the tenor of her voice. From her melodious, soft voice often tinged with a hint of laughter, the voice had changed. Changed to one where I couldn’t quite place at that particular instance.

Shaking myself out of my stupor, a slightly annoyed-looking form comes into my view… one particular Miss Garber.

Oh oh. Not good.

Quickly sitting up straight from my lackadaisical position on the chair, my hand snaps to the tabletop from where I’d been supporting my chin on the palm of one hand. Looking up to meet her unfriendly glare, I note that the eyes of every person in drama class are now trained on me. Okay, seems like I’ve been staring into space for the past few… however long it’s been.

Flushing with embarrassment at getting yet another rebuke from her, I smile hesitantly upwards at Miss Garber.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to… not pay attention,” Trying to find any excuse to not get into more hot soup, I spout without thinking, “I-I uh, had been thinking about some of the props… about maybe modifying some of them for this year’s…”

“Why, Max,” the note of surprise clearly ringing out in her voice as she suddenly seems at a loss for words. Then with a smile lighting up her face, she says in a suddenly kinder voice, “I’m glad you’re finally taking an interest in something other than… Well, I’m glad you’re finally taking an interest.”

Giving me a small smile, she turns towards the rest of the class, diverting her attention away from me. She starts walking towards the other end of the room, addressing the rest of the students.

As my eyes follow her circular path around the class, they clash with a pair of chocolate pools two chairs away that are filled with silent laughter.

She doesn’t say a word, nor show any change in her expression… at least not to the eye of anyone unfamiliar with her.

But I know better… I know how expressive her countenance can be, what with all that’s transpired between us.

Seeing the light tightening at the corner of her lips, I see the quiet mirth that mocks me in a friendly manner at having yet again nearly cemented my ‘bad boy’ reputation. As I watch, captivated by the light in her shining eyes, I just barely catch the words she meekly mouths, even as she seeks to contain her grin.

‘Nice save, peanut boy’.

Rolling my eyes slightly, I try to keep from bursting into laughter as well. I mean, I cannot deny the humor in the situation. Miss Garber’s always had a none-too-impressive perception of me, and this could have hammered the final nail into my coffin. Giving her a tight smile with a slight quirk to my lips, I mockingly admonish her for taking pleasure in my *misery*.

Pretending not to notice my expression, she looks away and proceeds to ignore my attempts to catch her eye.

Watching the unspoken interaction between us, I can no longer reject the notion that there’s something more there between us.

Taking a deep breath, I know what I’m gonna do next… and I’m gonna need Michael’s help for this.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~
posted on 16-May-2002 7:24:27 PM by Dark Ilk
forever dreamer: sorry I didn't get a chance to address your post before Part 10 came out... but hopefully this answers [partially/mostly] where those 2 1/2 hrs gone? *big**big*

frenchkiss70: *sniff* *sniff* don't worry... I think we all needed that... my feelings were bittersweet as I was writing it... *happy**sad**happy**sad*

Eerie: LOL... though I won't post chapters from Liz's POV... remember... this is Max's story to tell... don't worry... there will be the hints here and there to signal to you whether she likes/is neutral to/dislikes Max. hehehe...

The play scene thingee... For now... can take it that he was bascially daydreaming / reminiscing in drama class. As for whether he's back in the play... *wink**wink* You know my response to that already don't you... patience.... lol...

And abt getting spoiled by a bk report tt someone's doing in class, don't worry too much. Although the premise is the same, the lead-in events do differ. Major events like the play and the prologue are similar, that much I will concede. Actually, even the ending is open for different interpretations. I've met some people who've read the book or that I've lent it to... and different peeps have different interps of the ending... so no worries...

Nana: Welcome back!! Missed u for quite a while...

okies.. gtg prep for classes... lol... stayed up till 3 to fin Part 10. gonna be a zombie in class later... lol...
posted on 17-May-2002 11:07:49 AM by Dark Ilk
thanks for the fb to date everyone... jeremiah, Kicat26, nickeygurl, Abby, roswellluver, hope it provided a balm in view of the end of our sojourn with the REAL Roswell...

Welcome to Jess. Hope you'll enjoy this as much as I've been writing it. *happy*

Kitcat26: lol... no worries... din fall asleep in class.. in fact, surprisingly wide awake.

As for Michael's role and "peanut Boy"'s plan... coming right up in Part 11! *big**big**big*

Okies... I've got to work on 2 assignments due on Monday and Thursday. But promise that once those 2 are outta the way, will work on 11.

Again... for all ur encouragement. Thanks everyone! *big**big* *silly alien conveys a hug to everyone*
posted on 22-May-2002 5:18:07 AM by Dark Ilk
Okies... was finished with one assign and have to rush the other one asap... but everyone needs a breather right? So you lucky peeps are getting a new Part 11!! ;) But my apologies that it's gonna be a short one... is supposed to be much longer... but decided I'd break it into smaller parts... Promise that I'll provide the *fuller picture* in Part 12. *silly alien winks at all around*

Hope you enjoy... and may it tide you through till when I can finish up this last assign... groan... *silly alien has a test on same day, and another one next week*

Okies... enuff moaning and groaning from me...

Voila! Part 11! And fb pls..

Oh, and PS: Hey to Angelalien and LegalAlien!! Welcome to my humble abode. Hope you'll enjoy reading this as much as it provides me reprieve from this thing called work! lol...

Thanks to Mica too for dropping by again... and *wink* nickey!! Thanks for the bump!! *happy*

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 11

“Max!”

I hear Liz’s voice from within the class as I exit the drama room, and cannot help the smile that is beginning to grow on my face. Deciding to turn the tables on her for my earlier ‘rebuffs’, I press my lips tightly together to keep from laughing out loud, and my head bowed towards the ground as I step out of class… and right into Kyle and Alex.

My heart plummeting to the ground as I meet their eyes, I feel the grin freeze upon my face.

“Max. Ma man!” comes Alex’s typical greeting as he slaps me lightly on the back.

“Dude, have you seen Michael today?” comes Kyle’s voice as he passes a casual glance into the room from which I just came, hoping to see if Michael was in there.

Hurriedly grabbing them by the shoulders to turn them away from the room, I start pulling them towards the front of the school. “Haven’t seen him. Tell you what, why don’t you go look for him in the Quad. I’ll check out his home. I’ve no more classes for the day.” Okay, so that last one’s a little fib, but better that than them finding out about Liz and me… no, about our friendship. No, correct that… oh whatever it is that is happening between us right now.

Nervously, I throw a backward glance over my shoulder to see if anyone… okay, whether LIZ has seen my hurried exit. Seeing no sign of her in the doorway of the class, I am about to turn away when I see her frame come into view. I see her looking around the hallway, scanning the crowd for me, and I can’t help but slouch a little lower even as I pull Alex and Kyle further away from her.

Just as we are reaching the doors to the school entrance, I suddenly feel a prickle run down my spine. You know the feeling: someone watching you, waiting to see your reaction, sizing up your next move.

Still gripping Alex’s and Kyle’s elbows, I try to resist the temptation to turn around, but the decision is taken out of my hands as Kyle glances back. Seeing the person behind us, he pauses, then turns, addressing the person standing just behind me.

“Hi there little lady,” he says, trying to hide a smirk.

Closing my eyes momentarily in a bid to delay the inevitable, I breathe in deeply before turning around.

No prize for guessing whom it is standing before me.

Alex looks a little surprised at her presence altogether, but chooses to hold his tongue firmly in his cheek… which is more than I can say for Kyle.

“Little Lizzie Parker. What? Can’t get enough of Max Evans from your dinner *date*? Missing him already?” he asks dryly, looking her up and down with a slight jeer as we all take in her normal school attire of brown skirt and long sleeved top.

I cannot make myself look her directly in the eye even though all I have to do is raise my head. Nothing comes to mind that I can say without giving away how I’m feeling right now. Actually… that’s not true. I actually feel like I wish that the ground beneath me would just open up and swallow me whole.

And all this time, she hasn’t addressed me in person.

“It’s… nothing. I just wanted to… ask Max… something about… the play,” she stammers somewhat to Kyle, unsure of how to act in light of my sudden turnaround in demeanor. A nervous shuffle of feet as Alex and Kyle watch Liz. As Liz watches me. As I find my shoes utterly fascinating.

Realizing that I don’t intend on contributing to the conversation, she says abruptly, “It’ll wait,” before turning and walking away, her back ramrod straight.

When I finally look up, it’s just in time to see her turn the corner. If I hadn’t spent last night watching the myriad of expressions that often crossed her face, I would have thought that everything was alright. But I should know better. And I do… and I cannot mistake the flash of sadness in her eyes just before she disappeared around the bend.

Damn it! Things were not supposed to turn out like this!

“Come on dude,” Kyle swings an arm around my shoulders, “let’s all check out the Quad. Michael’s probably ditched class to go make out with Maria or something.”

“No, you guys go check out the Quad. He may have taken the day off considering what he went through yesterday,” I somehow manage to maintain a level of calm in my voice… one that I do not feel.

All I know is that I need to get to Michael. Now.

Before I completely chicken out on my original mission altogether. Especially now that Liz thinks…

Argh! I don’t even want to wonder what she must be thinking.

Get. To. Michael.

I intone the litany in my head as I brush past Kyle and Alex, leaving the guys standing at the school entrance, both probably thinking that I’ve lost my marbles.

“What’s up with Evans?” I faintly hear Kyle ask just before I disappear from their view altogether.

I’d like an answer to that too.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 22-May-2002 2:13:20 PM ]
posted on 23-May-2002 12:43:05 PM by Dark Ilk
oh wow!! one day since I posted and the fb!! You guys nvr cease to amaze!! Have finished my last assignment, and need to study for my test coming up in less than eight hours. sigh... n another test next Wed... but after tt... hehehe... the silly alien will be back with a vengence...

I know most of u were happy with the lake scene and things were going on a high... but remember... Max is... very *childish* still... u know... similar to movie version of Landon I guess... but don worry... he'll redeem himself in the next part... oops! Did I give away too much *silly alien chuckles and knocks herself on the head*

okies... tell you what. Since a few of u have been really hyped up abt wat Max has up his sleeve that needs Mikey G's intervention, how about u let me have an idea of wat u think THE PLAN is... I'd intended for it to be in Part 11, but with the shortened version, it'll end up in Part 12.

Would really love to hear wat u guys think.

So as Kitcat has suggested:

POLL-TIME!!
What you think Max is planning that he's going to need Michael's help?


Let's see if I can even incorporate some of them into the original intention...

Let the poll begin.
posted on 24-May-2002 3:51:51 AM by Dark Ilk
Cool. The poll's started. Now for the updates... and yes, yes, Kitcat, hear you babe!! LOL.. silly alien forgot to give any hints watsoever.

Okies... current standings:
POLL: "The plan is for Michael to help Max..."
a. 1: "develop" his friendship with Liz (SarahWhitman)
b. 1: show Liz his feelings for her in a really fancy outlandish way (Ericka)
c. 1: show Liz his feelings for her in a really fancy but understated way (boobear1514: Nikki? Or would you prefer that I addressed you as Nicole?)
d. 2: set up a date between Max and Liz (Ericka, Kitcat26)
e. 1: find a way to invite Liz over to the home to meet the parents (Kitcat26)

Okies... hint time: Let's just say it's about time Max made up for his "not so little" boo-boo...*big**big**big*

Oh and before I sign off for today... shout out to SarahWhitman and Nikki/Nicole (?) Welcome!! *happy**happy*

okies... now gonna go R&R with my frens... everyone take care and have a great weekend... and yes... I promise to start working on Part 12 even as I study for my test on next Wed.

Cheerios for now...
posted on 27-May-2002 2:43:26 AM by Dark Ilk
okies... I know u guys are gonna knock my silly alien head, but *tongue* haven't worked on the fic these past two days... too much celeb over last assign and also a fren's wedding. Sorry guys *silly alien ducks rotten strawbehries, etc flung her way*

Promise I'll work on it as I study for my last test. In the meantime,

Welcome to RoswellChic4ever!! Glad you've liked wat u've read so far... hope u stick around for the rest of the ride. *happy*

nickey: hehehe... ur patience is amazing babe... *wink* *silly alien teases* Okies... I'll be working on the next part and hope to post asap, hopefully before end of the week.

Abby babe!! was wondering where you were? I know!! He is SUCH a wimp!! *silly alien wiggles her eyebrows* but put it this way.... wouldn't be much fun without setting up a situation where he'd have to grovel for forgiveness would it?

PS: babe... when u updating "Undercover"? dying to know how Max is recovering... and Liz too... how she's been handling wat he said...

POLL: "The plan is for Michael to help Max..."
a. 1: "develop" his friendship with Liz (SarahWhitman)
b. 1: show Liz his feelings for her in a really fancy outlandish way (Ericka)
c. 1: show Liz his feelings for her in a really fancy but understated way (boobear1514: Nikki? Or would you prefer that I addressed you as Nicole?)
d. 2: set up a date between Max and Liz (Ericka, Kitcat26)
e. 2: find a way to invite Liz over to the home to meet the parents (Kitcat26, nickeygurl13)

Okies... hint again: Let's just say it's about time Max made up for his "not so little" boo-boo...*big**big**big*
posted on 29-May-2002 1:37:17 PM by Dark Ilk
okies... so here's the deal. I'm still working on Part 12 and it's going longer than I'd expected. So I'm breaking it into Parts 12a and 12b. I'm posting Part 12a now as a thank you to all you great people who have been so patient with me getting over assignments, projects and tests. This is quite short, but it should hopefully tide you over till I can complete the rest of 12b.

I can promise that "THE PLAN" will be revealed in 12a... and I was planning on incorporating one of the suggestions you guys have so graciously brought up... but that will only appear in Part 12b. No hints right now as to which one. But I promise that you'll know it when you see it... even though it'll be given a slight twist. *big**big*

okies... enuff from me. On to the most important bit... Part 12a... hope u all enjoy it... and fb pls! *happy**happy*

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 12a

A low moan is the only response I get as I rap lightly on the door twice.

“Go. Away.” A mournful voice sounds from within, muffled by the cover of a pillow.

Controlling an impish grin, I turn the doorknob to peer into the darkness that envelopes the room within.

“I said: Go. Away.”

The tone is a little stronger now, but no less irritated as the figure sprawled on the massive bed squirms in an attempt to avoid the light filtering in from the partially open door. The Venetian blinds have been pulled down to keep the evening sunlight, and the air is filled with a semi-stale smell of alcohol and dankness.

“Wakey wakey, Mikey G,” I say. Scrunching my nose a little at the smell, I rap a little harder on the door even as I open it a little more fully… and duck in time to miss a pillow thrown in the general direction of my head.

“Damn it Maxwell! Not so loud! You wanna come in, then close the damn door!”

Chuckling silently to myself, I finally let up on the ribbing, picking up the pillow as I enter and closing the door, sequestering myself on one of the comfy chairs opposite his bed. Getting comfortable, I prop my feet up on the corner end of his bed against the bedpost.

“Dude, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime,” I say as I switch on one of the smaller table lamps to give the room a little light.

“Shut. Up.”

“Glad to see you know how it’s like when the tables are turned huh?”

Another moment of fidgeting comes from the form lying on the bed before he finally realizes that I don’t intend on leaving him alone in peace anytime soon. Emitting a slight growl, he drags himself into a sitting position, haphazardly reaching for the pair of sunglasses by the side of his bed as he faces me.

“So remind me again… to what honor do I owe that I’ve got to suffer this form of abuse?” Michael practically hisses as he rubs wearily at his eyes before putting on the shades.

Settling myself in a more comfortable position, I try to push the thoughts of recent events to the back of my mind, and consider how to tell him what I need his help on… without giving too much away.

Groaning slightly at the prolonged silence, he admonishes me with a look, lowering his shades slightly to glower at me before flopping back onto the bedcovers. “And dude, no need to slam the door so hard next time, alright?”

Raising bemused eyes to regard Michael’s condition, I conclude that he must be seriously hung over to still be in such a lousy mood even after missing an ENTIRE day of school to recover.

It just really means a lot to me… you know… one of the things on my ‘to-do’ list: giving him a reason to be proud of me without…

The thought rises unbidden into my mind, the ghost of a conversation filtering into my consciousness... one that has led me to where I currently am.

Shifting slightly to drive away the unsanctioned thought, I turn to Michael who has since sat up on the bed, slouching over the bedrail as he continues to watch me over the rim of his sunglasses. Starting a little, I realize a little belatedly that I’d been staring into space for a moment… and I’d overestimated the extent of his hangover.

Removing his shades to regard me a little suspiciously, he addresses me.

“So Maxwell… tell me. What really happened?”

Swallowing over the lump that has suddenly developed in my throat, I wonder briefly how much of our conversation he recalled from last night. Looking into his somewhat dazed and bloodshot – but nonetheless alert – eyes, I try to delay the inevitable, “Well…”

“Don’t leave out ANY details… I want to hear it. ALL of it,” he emphasizes pointedly.

Oh God. This is it.

“I really hadn’t meant for anything to happen, and-”

“Of course not!!” He replies a little indignantly. I shrink a little at his outburst, even as he carries on his rant, “How could you! It’s not like you were the one who spiked the drinks. Tell me WHO did it,” he asks, his fingers now touching at the tips to form a steeple on which he is resting his chin.

What?!

A huge wave of relief washes over me as I realize that he is talking about the events leading to his current condition, and that they have nothing to do with… well, suffice to say that it has nothing to do with me directly.

“It was Sean,” I answer a little hesitantly, somewhat fearful of a similar reaction to the knowledge that his girlfriend’s cousin was the jerk who had caused his present predicament.

“That jerk! I just knew it!” Michael practically shouts as he jumps to his feet in a petulant fit of rage, only to wobble unsteadily as the effects of the alcohol have clearly not worn off completely. Gripping the bedpost to steady himself, I watch as he settles down on the bed again, resigning himself to the fact that he’s in no state to be confronting anyone right now.

“I don’t know the full details, just that you were already washed out by the time I got there. I was going to get you to the gents when I caught Sean red-handed pouring more alcohol into the punch bowl,” I fib a little, in a bid to concede to his request for details.

Resting his chin on his hands atop the horizontal bar of the bedpost, he queries, “Did he see you?”

Crossing my fingers out of sight, I answer with a weak “No”.

“That’s good. I wouldn’t want you to aggravate that ‘niggling shoulder pang’ any more now would we?” he grins a little at me, seemingly deciding to let the matter slide since he’d not encountered any problems with his old man because of it.

I return the grin… and a light bulb goes of in my head.

He’s given me the perfect lead-in.

“Yeah, listen Michael. Speaking about that shoulder injury of mine… well, it’s really not that bad now… and… and I was wondering about the suggestion you were making.”

“Which one specifically Max? I’ve had too many brilliant, ingenious visions turned down by you,” Michael asks in mock hurt, his voice rising a little in intrigue as I hear the humor in his words. “This must be a real brain-blower,” he adds with a slight laugh, “especially since I don’t recall which one that is.”

Standing to move towards his dresser, I mumble half-heartedly, “About being the lead in the play,” as I fiddle around with the trinkets on the surface.

My back’s facing Michael, so I can’t see his expression, but judging from the silence that has suddenly enveloped the room, I can almost imagine that his jaw has hit the bed coverings.

“What made you change your mind Max?” Michael’s voice is carefully devoid of expression; as if he is afraid he’ll say the wrong thing and tick me off.

“I-It’s nothing Michael. I’ve just been… thinking… about what you said, and you made sense, especially since with regards to Dennis and all,” I throw him a knowing grin of jest as I turn to rest my back against the dresser.

“Really?” Michael throws me a sarcastic grin. “And what, might I ask, has inspired your sudden… thinking?”

“Come on Michael. Do we really have to do this again? The last thing I want is for us to get into another argument, and for you to be cheesed off at me and on your ass again.” Seeing the offended look that registers on his face, I throw up my hands up in mock defense.

“What makes you think YOU won’t be the one on YOUR butt this time?” Michael asks bitingly.

“Michael…” my voice takes on a slightly exasperated tone.

“Okay, okay. Backing off THAT topic,” he concedes.

“Look, I just figured… that it’s time I step up to the plate. You know, no more ‘running like a bat out of hell’?”

“It’s just so you, you know that. You take charge of the situations you can control; but those that you can’t, you walk away. Who am I kidding? You fairly run away like a bat out of hell… like what you’re doing now.”

The scene in the gym replays in both our minds and we sit silently for a moment, pondering the thoughts flashing through both our minds.

“Well,” Michael finally breaks the silence, “So you want my help to get back into the play?”

Simultaneously releasing a sigh that the request is finally out in the open, all I can utter is “Yeah.”

At Michael’s look for more details, I stutter, “… Though I-I have no idea how Miss Garber’s even going to consider that option after all that’s happened,” I say with a slight slump to my shoulders.

Swinging himself off the bed, he seems to have gotten over his wooziness as he moves to sling an arm around my shoulders, pulling me towards the bed as he grins at me like a Cheshire cat.

Why do I get a bad feeling about this?

As we bounce onto the soft mattress, Michael continues to grin at me, saying, “THAT is something you needn’t concern yourself with Maxwell. But trust me, buddy,” as I get rewarded for turning his sour mood with a poke to my ribs, “You’re back in the game.”

‘I hope so too Michael. I really hope so.’

Staring up at the ceiling, the words flash through my mind as it continues to roll with thoughts about the play, but even more so, with a particular brunette that has managed to turn my life upside-down in the few days – hours really – that I’ve interacted with her.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-May-2002 1:46:03 PM ]
posted on 30-May-2002 10:48:36 AM by Dark Ilk
okies... so I managed to finish the whole of Part 12b as well. So now comes the fun part.

For those who still haven't caught up with Part 12a, read that first - it's posted on Pg. 23.

To all the fb on Part 12a, thks u guys. Again, sorry it was so short... but here's the 'ending' to that short part.

Without further ado... Part 12b. SOP: fb please. *big**big**big*

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 12b

“Where have YOU been?”

I have barely made it past the threshold of the house, having come from Michael’s place, and already Izzy is in my face. From the expression on her face, I figured someone must have messed up big-time on one of the charity events she’s organizing. Whoever it is that is trying to be the death of her, I just know that it can’t be me.

“Are you trying to be the death of me?!” She practically condemns me in a hushed tone.

Woah. Freaky.

“What? What did I do?” My voice is full of puzzlement.

“What did you do, Max? More like what didn’t you do? Or maybe a mixture of both?” she points out, still in a hushed whisper.

“Wha-?” I am totally stumped by the accusation.

“Maxwell, honey. Is that you?” Mum’s voice filters in from the living area. I hear her footsteps approaching rapidly and grab Izzy’s arm, heading for my room upstairs in a bid to avoid her until I have an idea of what exactly is going on.

“Uh, I’ve got to rush some homework that I need Izzy’s help on Mum. Call us for dinner when it’s time okay?” I raise my voice slightly in her general direction even as I drag a struggling spitfire hellcat up the stairs.

“But Maxwell-” Mum’s voice increases in volume with her impending arrival, and I tow Isabel along even more hurriedly.

“Max, wait!” Isabel tries to free her arm from my iron grip, “You’ve got to-”

“Izzy, whatever it is, just wait till we get upstairs. I don’t want Mum getting mad at me for whatever it is that has YOU mad at me,” I say without breaking my stride.

“Okay, don’t say that I didn’t try to warn you,” she sighs, allowing herself to be hauled along.

Upon reaching my room, I slam the door shut and dump my book bag on my bed, following a similar path as I sprawl across the covers, muffling a yawn as I wonder when this day will finally end. It’s already evening and you would have thought that my ‘day of excitement’ would be drawing to a close.

This is apparently not to be as I hear Isabel tap her foot irritably as she waits for me to pay attention to whatever she has to announce.

Raising just my head off the bed to stare at her, I sigh and roll my eyes before resting it back on my pillow.

“Okay, hit me with it. What did I do?” At least I get the comfort of having my bed under me.

Chewing at the corner of her lip before she answers, Izzy then asks coyly, “Where’s the Jag?”

As my entire body shoots off the bed, the permeating silence that follows her question feels as though air has suddenly been sucked out of my room with a vacuum.

Oh. My. God.

I cannot believe I totally forgot about the car… the car that I meant to drive Liz to the dinner in last night… the car that we left at her house when we decided to walk to dinner…

The car that I conveniently forgot about when I subsequently – in my state of dazed amazement and wonder – walked home… which means that the Jag is still parked outside the Parker home!!

Oh. My. God.

Wait a minute. Why should that cause Iz to practically rip my head off?

“Okay. So I left it in front of the Parker home after last night’s dinner. What’s the big deal? I can just go pick it up later. Not like anyone’s gonna miss it out of the MANY vehicles we have,” I force nonchalance into my voice even as I turn my back on Isabel to avoid her reading the look on my face. Trust me, when it comes to my sister, I am an open book. And this is definitely NOT the time I want to be her reading material.

Grimacing somewhat to myself, I cannot help but think that this is just great… not. The Jag is at Liz’s… which means I’ve got to go over to pick it up. Which means I’ve got to speak to her… Hmm, maybe it’s not as bad as it seems. Maybe I can take the chance to explain about this afternoon… as soon as I can figure the right words to say.

Iz interrupts my internal train of thoughts as she says, “Max, Liz came looking for me to let me know about the Jag… in an attempt to get me to pass you a message,” she states firmly, settling herself down on my bed. “A message that makes me wonder why she didn’t tell you herself considering you both had drama class today.”

Choking back the knot in my throat, I shrug my shoulders in a show of feigned ignorance.

“Max.”

“Yeah?” I say, my back still facing her.

“Turn around.”

“Why?”

“Because.”

“Because what?”

“Because I want to ask you something. And I want to look you in the eyes when I get your answer.”

Heaving a deep sigh, I try to maintain my best poker face as I turn to face a glowering older sister.

“What do you wanna ask?”

“She seemed really upset when we were talking. What did you… say or… do to her?” Even as she studies my face intently, there is no mistaking the concern I hear in Iz’s voice, more so than the anger.

“I didn’t say anything. I swear.” And that IS the truth. Scratching my ear a little as I too settle on the bed facing her, I ask tentatively while keeping my expression carefully impartial, “Why? Did she say that I said or did something?”

A look of puzzlement had crossed her features at my answer and she is staring off into space, my presence seemingly forgotten. Then heaving a little sigh herself, she explains.

“It’s not so much what she said, but what she didn’t. Look, I know you don’t know Liz that well,” I just manage to bite my lips together from forming a retort to that as she continues, “… but I do. And it’s what she doesn’t say that has me concerned. She’s got these really… intense eyes that express…” Isabel trails off as she seeks to find the words to express herself clearly.

“… really deep emotions,” the words slip out of my mouth effortlessly in a quiet whisper.

I try to recover, but raising my eyes to meet Izzy’s, I know that she heard what I’d said.

A slight frown marring her normally smooth forehead, she nods in acquiescence even as she watches me with a strange expression. “Yeah.”

“I mean… that’s what they always say right? About still waters running deep and all that?” I cough lightly, using my hand to partially cover my face in an attempt to hide what I am guessing is a blush that is quickly spreading all over my face.

Leaning her head a little to watch me sideways, it’s now her turn to maintain a poker face as she silently gazes at me.

“You’re sure she was okay in class? Nothing out of the ordinary?” Iz refuses to let up on the questions.

“Look, Iz. I’m not exactly interested in watching Liz Parker’s every move in class… or out of it, okay? I’ve got better things to do than that,” I protest.

‘Just interested in day-dreaming about your date with her,’ the two-horned angel whispers in my head.

‘Shut up… And it wasn’t a date.’

‘Admit it and I will.’

‘No such luck.’

‘You’re just chicken.’

‘Am not.’

‘Are too.’

Closing my eyes and leaning forward to rest my head in my hands, I try to silence the warring arguments rocketing about in my skull.

“Max?” This is Iz as she touches a hand lightly to my shoulder, “You okay? You don’t look too good.”

That’s Isabel Evans for you. One minute, the ever-domineering lioness, fierce to protect the underdogs; the next, the caring sister who knows just when to let up… well, not always, but she knows when she’s about to reach the limit with me.

“Seeing how you’ve somehow managed to upset Liz without knowing how you’ve done so… I’m guessing that this isn’t exactly a good time to tell you something,” the uncertainty in her statement clearly evident.

Smoothening a hand over my weary face, I raise tired eyes to Isabel’s face.

“Come on. Spill. Let’s get it over with.” Stifling a sarcastic little laugh, I continue, “After all, it can’t get any more dramatic now can it?”

Sighing, I realize that I just have to figure out how to face Liz. Explain to her that what happened after class today… that wasn’t the way it should have been. Not after… not after what happened last night. At least I’ll have the night to sleep and ponder over this.

Iz takes a deep breath and utters a sentence that has me bolting from my bed for the second time this evening.

“She’s WHAT?!” I start to wear a path into the floor as the ramifications of this new development dawns on me, all thoughts of keeping a poker face forgotten. “You have GOT to be kidding me right, Izzy?” Stopping in front of her still seated form on the bed, I reach out my hands in a staccato clench-unclench-clench motion in a desperate bid to regain some kind of control before I really lose it.

“Just so that I didn’t mistake what you said… repeat what you… just said.”

She puffs out her cheeks with a soft sigh, and then “I said: Liz is here. Now. And she’s staying for dinner.”

“Oh. My. God!” I release a muffled groan and slump onto the bed.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. This is me, in full freak-out mode. This is NOT good. Ha! Who am I kidding? This is about as bad as it can get.

I can’t face her. Not yet. I’m not prepared. Not fair.

‘Like whining’s gonna help you with your situation.’ The voice in my brain resounds again.

‘Shut. Up.’

‘Like you told Michael; not so funny when the tables are turned.’

‘Can it.’

‘Fine. Be snooty.’

“I thought Liz spoke to you in school. What’s she doing here?” This is me, speaking aloud.

“I didn’t say that. I said that she came looking for me. And she found me… at home. You’d just assumed that she found me in school.”

“And enlighten me please. How did her coming to the house to pass a message turn into her staying for dinner?” I ask Isabel as my distress clearly shows.

Mistaking the cause of my dour mood, she rushes to defend Liz. “Look Max. It’s not that bad. Really. She’s not bad company to have around-”

“It’s got nothing to do with th-” I shut my trap to prevent myself from revealing anymore than has already been said. “Ju-just tell me how this came to be.”

“Well, she came to the house looking for you, and when she couldn’t find you, she asked for me. She’d wanted to leave immediately after telling me to pass you the message, but I sensed that she was upset.”

Frowning a little at the guilt-ridden look that flashes briefly on my face, she continues, “… so I invited her into the house. We were talking in the living room, and one thing led to another… and then Mum happened.”

“Oh no.” I groan as I can only picture what must have happened then. “Let me guess: she invited Liz for dinner,” I fill in helpfully.

“That’s a convenient and concise way of putting it. But in a nutshell, yes.” I see Isabel trying to prevent a grin from forming on her face at the thought of Mum’s renowned method of emotional blackmail at getting people to bend to her will.

“And I just abandoned them to each other when I dragged you up here.” Distressed as I am, I also can’t help the wry grin that makes its way to my lips. However, the smile lingers but a moment as my focus comes back to the matter at hand.

The breeze blowing through my room window stirs the hanging wind chimes, creating a soft resonating tinkle, a sound that is in sharp contrast to the turmoil roiling in my gut. Staring blankly at the fine silver rods that continue their soulful peal, I seek to find a way… any way that I can handle the situation without making it any worse than it already is.

Running a harried hand through my hair giving it an even more tousled look, I turn towards my dresser and pound lightly on the surface as I weigh my options on what I can do next.

Iz remains seated and silent as she watches me.

“Max, is there something between you and Liz that I should know about?” she ventures tentatively. That’s my sis for you whenever I run into issues I can’t seem to deal with; she’ll know that something’s happening, but won’t butt in unless I’m ready to take the initiative to open up to her.

Squeezing my eyes tightly shut to force my concentration, I rub wearily at my temples before I turn to face her, leaning against the dresser for support.

“Iz… I… don’t really know what’s going on right now between Liz and myself… or IF there is even anything there to talk about. J-Just gimme some time to figure it out. Okay?” I softly admit to her what I have just recently come to terms with myself.

Inhaling deeply, she releases a chuckle that has me raising my eyes to meet her gaily-lit ones.

“Look, I’m not laughing at you… or Liz. You know I wouldn’t. But look at it from my point of view. One day you can’t imagine the thought of being around Liz, and the next, you’re acting all loopy at the mere mention of her name. You have to admit, it IS pretty funny.”

Conceding to her point, I release a soft chuckle myself. Bracing myself for the upcoming affair, I push myself away from the cupboard and extend a hand to Iz.

“Well, then. I guess it’s time for David and Goliath to meet,” I say.

Raising an enquiring eyebrow, she asks, “And just who is the David here Max? You… Or Liz?”

Smiling half-heartedly, I wonder the same question to myself too. While I may feel like David trying to conquer the obstacles I find ahead of me, something tells me it’s more likely that Liz is David, seeking to bring Goliath to his knees.

Quirking my lips further in a tight smile, I answer her with mixed emotions reflected in my eyes.

Opening the door to my room, Iz heads out first, leaving me to fight the last impulse to just bolt from the house altogether.

But I don’t.

And I kind of wish I did as I make my way down the stairs.

Dad just got home – which is surprisingly early for once – and Mum and Liz have gathered at the doorway to welcome him.

Iz has happily made her way to join them, but I can only watch dumbfounded as after Mum and Iz give Dad a hug, he gives Liz a chaste peck on the cheek while expressing his delight that she’ll be joining us for the evening meal.

As my jaw slackens at the sight that greets me, I CANNOT believe that my DAD is the first male Evans to score with Liz. Man, is that twisted or what.

I must have been staring at them for some time, because the next thing I know, I release a loud yelp when Iz makes her way beside me on the split landing on the stairs, poking me in the side to shake me from my reverie.

Flushing furiously as everyone’s eyes have now riveted to fix on me, I make it the rest of the way down, nearly tripping on the last step when Liz looks directly into my eyes to bestow a timid smile in my direction.

“H- *cough* Hi Liz.” Was that my throat sounding all croaky?

“Hi Max. Sorry I missed you after class today,” she says, her shyness receding and her smile getting a little larger as she realizes that I’m in as befuddled a state of mind as I’d placed her earlier today.

“Yeah, sorry about that. I had to go chec-… meet Michael to discuss something for one of our projects,” I offer lamely.

“No harm, no foul Max,” she says.

“okay then,” Mum announces chirpily, “Dinner-time now.”

As she and Dad lead Liz away into the dining room, Iz sidles up beside me, a mischievous wink in her eye.

“Sorry about that Max. You looked like you wanted to punch the living daylights out of Dad. Wouldn’t want that now, would we?” she says, a teasing lilt in her voice.

“No… no we wouldn’t,” I murmur as I watch her petite form disappear with my parents.

As I come to a firm conclusion.

I’ve finally figured out who’s David.

And the Goliath that I am is awestruck at the thought of doing battle with her. Cos I’m not sure I can win this confrontation.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~

posted on 30-May-2002 11:06:03 AM by Dark Ilk
quote:
Old Enough originally wrote:
I am so completely lost at this point as to what is going on and what all of the different people's motivations on it isn't funny.

Old Enough


Oh dear!! Am I making it too tedious? *silly alien scratches her head in confusion* anything I can do to clear up ambiguities / twists?

Am logging off oredi, so I'll check back later for any further elaborations you need?

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-May-2002 11:15:11 AM ]
posted on 5-Jun-2002 3:17:55 AM by Dark Ilk
okies!! was gonna post the next part, but just some comments first.

A quick shout out to Old Enough, Rachel, jeremiah, Anna, Alien614, Ericka, KitCat26 (lol, yeah, I did include the 'rents idea), roswellluver, Nikki, Jess79, Abby (yeah, you finally updated Undercover!!! *bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce*) and last, but not least, frechkiss70!! You gals rock!!

Thanks for the fb!! To answer some quick questions:
Rach: Yeah, Izzy's kinda like the first one Max had admitted to that he has 'some kind of feelings' for Liz... as to whether she's gonna be a help of hinder... *wink* guess I'll leave that up to you to decide as the parts come out. hehehe... I know, I know, evill little silly alien...

Ericka: No spoilers intended babe, but as to when Max and Liz are gonna 'make out', hehehe... much as I enjoy reading NC-17 fics, I can't write them for nuts!! So sorry that you'll have to bear with me cos I oni know how to write more *mush* style... lol... hope you don mind.

Kitcat26: Biblical terms huh? *big* din really mean for that intentionally. Just a term that I like... and I've used it before... during the dinner when Liz and Sean had that face-off... hehehe... glad u like it anyway... as for the dinner... coming right up!!

Abby: glad to see u too babe!! *silly alien waves* A little wait is in order for the M-M plan... cos you KNOW I've got to tackle tt little fiasco called the dinner first... lol... which is here... so no fret. *wink**wink*

frenchkiss70: Gliath falling for David indeed!! I hadn't thought of it tt way... but now tt u say it... u'r right!! It sounds twisted!*big**big**big*

Okies then... without further ado, the silly alien presents Part 13. Sorry not too long a part, but need to give a little background info... and of course... fb pls. *big**big**big*

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 13

To say that dinner was a stilted affair was an understatement.

With Iz and Liz both seated diagonally across the elongated dining table from me, and Dad and Mum at either ends of the table, I cannot help but feel surrounded by an almost impenetrable circle of detachment.

I could not, and still cannot, bring myself to make direct eye contact with Liz… at least not when she notices. Iz has already caught me sneaking glances at Liz on a few instances, at which point she would narrow her eyes murderously at me.

A swift kick to my foot. A grimace under my breath. I can only grit my teeth before shooting her a withering glare.

While my parents had been maintaining a steady stream of conversation with Liz and Iz, I could only poke restlessly at my meal, taking occasional bites whenever I catch Mum frowning at me slightly. I can feel her silent admonishments for not making our guest feel more welcome by contributing to the chatter, offering only monosyllabic mumbles or grunts when necessary.

Dad has seemingly forgotten my presence at the table altogether, intent as he is on regaling Liz about tales of his work. To be honest, I’m surprised that she seems truly fascinated by what he has to say. Muted laughter, focused concentration in her gaze, her expression conveys a genuine interest in his accounts, punctuating them with her own questions every once in a while. Personally, I find myself bored to tears whenever Dad starts talking about politics and all that ‘heavy’ stuff.

Thankfully it’s down to dessert and my parents have had no great desire to start into any “Do-you-know-Max-used-to” fiascos that would have made me even more uncomfortable.

Not that there’s much she already doesn’t know.

“Max, could you pass me the syrup please?” Mum asks, pointedly glancing at Liz quickly, then back at me, like a conspiratorial spy trying to prod me into action by eye signals.

If this were any other situation, I’d find it funny… hilarious even. It’s like both the female Evans at the table are trying to goad me with regards to Liz. But it’s NOT any other situation, so… this just really bites.

I know I need to talk to her. It’s just…

“Here,” I hand her the bowl with a feigned air of indifference, acting as if I didn’t know what she was trying to hint at. Even then, I sneak a quick glance at the figure diagonally to my right across the table, tucking into her dessert with relish as she continues to be entranced by the entreaties of the other male Evans.

As I watch her animated laughter at something Dad says, I have to squelch a sudden desire to shout out.

No. Not in anger and jealousy. More like pain. In my foot. That Isabel has stomped on.

Turning my head sharply to the source of my infliction, I see the warning look in her eyes. Grimacing at the soreness in my toes, I stare listlessly back down at my still-unfinished main course of rosemary chicken. Did I mention that this sucks big time?

“You’re a wonderful cook, Mrs. Evans-” Liz finally turns away from Dad to address Mum. Her initial hesitation when I first addressed her in the house has vanished altogether, replaced by a polite and courteous girl, quietly confident and comfortable in front of people other than her own peers.

“Liz, what did I say about addressing me as ‘Mrs. Evans’? It’s Diane, remember? Seems like I can never get Max and Isabel’s friends to call me so, but you of all people should know better,” she chides in a light-hearted teasing manner.

Her lips tilting up in a small smile, “It’s just… been so long,” she says.

Oh yes. My parents do know Liz well. Very well, in fact. The Evans and Parkers used to be pretty close.

Up to the sixth grade, Isabel, Liz and I practically grew up together. We’d have sleepovers at least twice a week, alternating between the Parkers and our home. We’d always create such a ruckus, bouncing around like the little bundles of energy that we were, and by the time it was actually time to sleep, Iz would always be the first to nod off. Liz and I would stay up a little longer. We’d have our heads hidden under the blankets, using mini-torch lights to illuminate the darkness, talking about whatever. And before we finally went to bed, she’d always say to me, “Sleep tight,” to which my reply was always “Don’t letting the bedbugs bite”.

We were practically the three Musketeers back then.

But things change.

Once Dad’s political ambitions kicked in, Minister Parker deemed that my father held a *conflicting interest*, continually trying to corrupt the townsfolk by “industrialization” and “profits”, instead of their guiding them spirituality.

So yes, the fact that I’m the ‘peanut boy’ and heir to the legacy of the man seeking to corrupt the entire Beaufort community has also more or less cemented my status in the eyes of Minister Parker.

It really was a surprise then, then that the Minister went along with the idea of my escorting Liz to the dinner. I guess Dad and him must have mellowed out over the years for them to have had a decent telephone conversation to settle the matter. In those early ears, both usually steered clear of each other’s paths out of a respective desire not to step on each other’s toes.

But they weren’t the only rifts between the two families.

Early on, despite the gulf in the two families, Liz and Isabel were still close, bonded together by their female companionship and their subsequent common work in charity. I, on the other hand, grew apart from Liz… from the Parkers altogether, when we seemed to veer towards different paths… and I found a newfound best male bud in Michael. He was like the brother I never had, and after years of being the only guy with the two girls, I guess it was more relief than anything else that I had another group of friends that I could hang out with.

Not that I could compare the two; there were definitely different dynamics when hanging out with Michael, Alex, Kyle and the rest of the group… Well, you know the rest of how things have been then, and they haven’t changed much over the years.

Until now that is.

“Well,” Iz jumps in to chime cheerily, “Years, shmears. Who cares? Now that you’ve come by again, that’s hopefully something we can change to a more regular basis.”

Shooting daggers at her, I intend on giving Iz a dose of her own medicine as my left foot connects with a knee.

Only it’s not the intended knee.

Seeing Liz jump slightly off her chair, I realize too late that my mark was a little off.

“Something wrong Liz?” Dad asks, misinterpreting her sudden jitteriness.

“No. Nothing’s wrong. J-Just that a sudden pull in my nerve.” Laughing off the incident, she continues as she rubs tenderly at her knee, “Maybe that’s what happens when I enjoy too much good food and sit too long in one place.”

“Now that’s a compliment if ever I’ve heard of one,” Mum gushes happily.

“Maybe you just need to walk it out,” I say in a semi-hushed tone.

All heads turn to face me. It’s the most number of words I’ve uttered since we all sat down to dinner.

My eyes sweeping the table briefly, I see that Mum’s face is awash with relief that I’ve finally decided to resemble a speaking human being. Dad’s face finally registers my presence. Isabel’s eyes are lit with laughter since she realized what I actually intended for had backfired.

And Liz. Her eyes finally make direct contact with mine for the first time since drama class this morning. She doesn’t flinch when my warily dispassionate amber gaze meets her chocolate pools that swirl with hidden emotion.

“I guess that won’t be a problem since I’ll enjoy the evening walk home later,” her reply is terse. Not rude, and with only the barest hint of irritation lacing her words.

Yes, yes, yes, I over-analyze everything she does.

“What? There’s no way I’m allowing that.” Dad expresses his unease in letting her walk home by herself. Let me drive you back... Or maybe Max can.” He turns his eyes towards me, as do the rest of the table.

“That’s right,” Mum interrupts before I can say anything, as she turns to Liz, “Since Max forgot to drive the Jag back, why don’t he walk back with you? Then he can drive the Jag back?” she volunteers on my behalf, even as my jaw begins to droop.

Okay, so I guess that’s one tidbit Mum managed to weasel out of her or Iz. One that I do not exactly appreciate being highlighted to my father this very instant.

In an attempt to pre-empt any recriminations Dad might inflict, I quickly agree, “Okay. Sure. No problem.”

“Max.” This is Dad.

Not good. I’m almost leery of meeting his look. Only the expression on his face is not one I’d expected. It’s one of… amusement.

“Yeah?”

“YOU are offering to WALK Liz home?” the laughter in his voice is barely concealed.

Frowning slightly at this unexpected reaction, I say a little defensively, “What’s wrong with that? Good to get in a little nature walk after dinner.”

As his eyebrows raise even higher, I feel my face beginning a slow burn as his roar of laughter resounds around the room. Out of the blue as it is, everyone jumps a little at its suddenness.

“My boy, since when have you ever considered a walk as a chance to appreciate nature? I thought your idea of ‘nature’ was to roll down the window or to lower the top of the car when you’re driving,” Dad chuckles as he tries to catch his breath between the words.

The slow burn on my features has been fanned into a roaring flame as I take in Liz’s expression. The slight widening of her eyes indicating her coming to the realization that there may just be more to our earlier walks, okay one walk… especially since I’m not one accustomed to taking them.

“Well- I… need to get the car back anyway. And this way, I can just worry about one car instead of two. See, I kill two birds with one stone: escort Liz safely home, and bring the Jag back.”

Hehe. See me getting into the groove…

“Alright then. Then perhaps you can explain to me on how the Jag was left at the Parker house when you get back,” Dad replies smoothly as he dabs at his lips with his napkin.

… And shrivel back into the six-year-old with his hand caught in the cookie jar.

As I note that Liz has remained silent during my exchange with Dad, Mum takes it upon herself to push me towards my to-be destination for tonight.

Moving to stand, she addresses us. “Now then kids. It’s getting late. Iz, why don’t you help me with the dishes? Max, you’d better start on escorting Liz back home. It’s a school night, so I want you back in time for proper rest. Philip, why don’t you get out of your work clothes and into the bathrobe already laid out upstairs? I’ll have your bath running for you in a few minutes,” as she moves to stand beside him, giving him a loving peck on the cheek.

Groaning inwardly at the open affection on display, I spin away to avoid any further scenes. Thank goodness Dad usually works late that I’m not subjected to this too often. Quickening my pace as I wander out of the dining room, I hear the sound of soft footfalls falling in step behind me.

Taking a deep breath, I turn around to see Liz’s eyes looking candidly into mine.

Fighting the compulsion to look down at the ground, I force my jaw together momentarily. Then making a conscious effort to relax, I smile sheepishly at her.

In an all to familiar gesture of the night of the dinner, I bow slightly, extending a hand, palm outwards and point the way out the door.

“Shall we?”

Wordlessly, she starts out the door, leaving me to follow in her wake.

Okay, she’s mad. And I’ve got to explain myself.

Not tomorrow. Not later. Now.

And I just know I haven’t the words to justify myself.

Hanging my head for the barest of moments, I close my eyes to contemplate how I’m going to make it through this walk.

Because if this goes the way I think it does, I think I might just lose the one really good thing I’ve just begun to realize I’ve had.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~

okies... quick note. Am starting work on assign due in July (*silly alien ducks flying pots and pans sent her way*) but will continue writing still. No worries... *tongue**tongue* though I too have been caught up in the World Cup fever, so do behr with me okies?*big**big**big*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Jun-2002 2:33:52 AM ]
posted on 5-Jun-2002 12:39:38 PM by Dark Ilk
Hey Anna, Ericka and frenchkiss70!! *silly alien waves*

Ericka: Hehehe... I know, I know... typical evil of me... don worry... oredi working on the next part in between assign and WC matches... and NBA Finals that I just realized is on... lol... bz bz silly alien here... as to whether you'll be "getting lucky" in the next part... erm... *wink* read on and find out babe!! okies, okies... trying to refrain from further teasing here.

frenchkiss70: lol... 'smooth-talker' indeed... lol... like a Cromagnon (spelling?) huh? And like I mentioned earlier... oredi on work on the next part oredi...

Okies... I'll give this much: now that dinner's over... I know you gals are dying to find out abt "the plan"... but gonna include one more M/L scene before that... hope you gals don mind... but then again... you just live for ANY M/L interaction huh? lol... okies... back to work...

ttyl everyone.
posted on 8-Jun-2002 12:38:42 PM by Dark Ilk
Lol… thx for the fb you guys. Have started on the next part oredi, no worries. But stagnated writing over the weekend as I’m in the midst of shifting back my stuff back from hostel. And yes, as many of you have already guessed, will be about the walk back to the Parkers after dinner.

LOL… see the interesting scenarios some of you have out there on how / what’s gonna happen during the walk:
1. Max having a lot of apologizing to do (Kitcat26, Abby)
2. Liz letting him off lightly instead of grilling him (Alien614)
3. Past is put behind them and some “star-gazing” (Liz Park)
4. Liz putting Max through the grinder without “killing” him (Nickey)
*big* *big* *big* *big* *big* *big* *big* *big* Wonder what’s really gonna happen now huh? ;)

Glad you guys enjoyed the part abt Max “misfiring”… hehehe… was a really fun part that I was hoping to incorporate somehow. *tongue* *wink* thankfully you guys got it! hehehe

Shout out to Nickey: gal! Lol, you give me too much credit. I sometimes think I go overboard in the “behind-the-scenes-of” into Max’s POV… glad to see you gals haven’t given up hope on me yet. Lol.

Okies. Once I get my stuff back over the weekend, I’ll conc on writing Part 14 (yes, yes, even with the WC matches going on lol) and have it up latest by… erm… Tuesday?

Thanks for all ur patience y’all! *big* *big* *big* *big* *big* *big*



posted on 10-Jun-2002 2:26:25 AM by Dark Ilk
okay gals... need a little help here.

I don't live in the US and am not certain of the school system and the ages at which children at admitted.

Insofar that I have gathered, it starts with kindergarten at 5; first grade at 6 all the way to eighth grade at 13 right?

1. What are the levels that follow on after that?
2. What ages do these stages occur?

I know, I know, I was working on the fic anf came to these roadblocks where I realised I may be making major boo-boos if I got them all mixed up.

So if I could get help from you guys asap, I can carry on writing with the correct facts. THanks in advance to all and sundry!
posted on 10-Jun-2002 12:18:31 PM by Dark Ilk
Wow!! And I thought school ranking systems couldn't get complicated. lol...

okies. Thanks for the details Old Enough!*happy* Now that I've a better idea of the system, I can work on getting the facts consistent for the rest of the fic.

btw, I hope the story has cleared itself up somewhat? I hope it didn't only get more confusing?

No matter what, thanks for helping me on clearing up the muddle for me.*big**big**big*
posted on 11-Jun-2002 3:37:31 PM by Dark Ilk
okies. Promises made are never to be broken as far as possible where I am concerned. So here's the next part in our little saga. A little AN before the actual post.

Important Author's Note:
I had to make one significant change to the story. I'd initially written that Max and Michael have known each other since kindergarten. That gave me a nightmarish time in writing from this point onwards. Hence, I've editted that for them to only know each other from sixth grade (11 years old). Other facts all still remain as they are, cos most of the *mischief* these two get up to are mostly in their pre-teen & teen years from 11 onwards. Which means till the 'present' time, they've known each other for 6 years already.
Special shout out to Old Enough for helping me clear up the mess I had with the ages and grades stuff.

Okies... on with the show. Thanks everyone for their continued support. And cos you guys have been sssoooo patient, this is the longest part by far, and ALL M/L interaction.

Hope you enjoy, and fb as usual pls. *big**big*

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 14

Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, left f-

“So you don’t like walking?” She says this like a rhetorical question.

My hands shoved into the pockets of my jacket, head bowed to watch my feet in motion, her voice interrupts the stupor that I’ve been induced in the past ten minutes since we left my house. Lifting my head to see her form still moving ahead, my feet momentarily stop in their tracks.

Realizing I’ve fallen behind, she too stops and turns to face me.

“What makes you say that?” I ask, a slight crease in my forehead.

“Isn’t it true?” Her tone is without prejudice, betraying no notion whatsoever of how she feels.

“Why would you assume it is?”

“Why won’t you answer my question?”

“Why won’t you stop answering my questions with more questions?” Brows furrowed, my voice has become increasingly agitated, gradually growing in pitch and volume as well.

“I was just trying to understand you better, that’s all,” comes her sincere reply.

Like you don’t already know the first eleven years of my life story.

Grinding my teeth together, I struggle to figure if she’s for real, or just deliberately trying to bait me. Sucking in a deep breath between my clenched teeth, my mind is muddled with thoughts of what to say… And I regret the words as soon as they are out of my mouth.

“What does it matter to you?” I retort snappishly even as an uncertain sneer makes itself apparent on my face.

A beat. “It doesn’t,” she shrugs, turning to continue walking on.

Resisting the urge to crawl into myself and cringe at my biting tone, I watch a moment as she continues walking away. When she doesn’t stop, I hurry to catch up. After a few moments, we pace alongside each other, steps in sync although we both say nothing.

The silence sings through the surrounding space. Calming in its peace. Yet awkward in its stillness.

Casting a sidelong glance at her, I notice that she’s rubbing her arms lightly to keep warm from the chilly night air. Whilst shrugging off my jacket, I rest my hand on her arm gently to stop her from moving further forward.

You’d have thought I’d touched a lit match to her skin, judging from the way she leapt away from me.

Meeting my bemused look, she looks a little embarrassed at her reaction. “Sorry, I was… thinking.”

“About? A faster way to get rid of me?” At the dismissive roll of her eyes, I extend an olive branch. Not literally, of course.

I extend the jacket towards her. “Look, you’re cold; I figured you could use this.”

“No, no. No need,” she brushes my offer aside, deftly sidestepping me as I reach towards her with the coat.

Catching her by the crook of her arm, I insist, “Come on Liz. Don’t pull a Izzy on me.”

Looking at me in surprise, she can only utter “What?”

“You forgot? When our parents took us camping when we were seven? Ice princess Isabel insisted that it was alright to eat the mushrooms we found? And we ended up grounded for weeks after that?” I remind her with a wistful smile, recalling the fury our parents had broken into when they’d found us, our mouths chomping happily away on the *treasures* we’d uncovered. Luckily, they weren’t poisonous, just that it caused an allergic reaction in Liz and myself. Strangely enough, Isabel had been unaffected. What resulted was Liz and I spending a couple of days in the hospital under observation, while Isabel was grounded for two months. When we were finally allowed to return home, WE were grounded for two weeks each as well for following Izzy’s lead.

Ever since then, the expression became a running inside joke whenever any of the three of us were obstinate enough that (usually) ended up with said party – or parties – in trouble.

Only… neither of us has used that expression in so long.

“So now I’m a princess?” she says a little perturbed, although I can also hear the hidden laughter in her voice at the memory.

Sighing, my face displays a slight show of defeat. “Look, I just don’t want you ending up catching a cold alright?” As I shift my weight from one foot to the other, “I don’t always do the right thing… but I try,” attempting to convey the dual meaning in my words.

She stares at me a moment before dropping her gaze to where my hand is still firmly latched onto her arm. As I follow the path her eyes have traveled, I self-consciously relax my grip before removing my hand, but not before I feel a slight tremor run across her skin as my hand trails off.

Even with her glasses on, there is no hiding the flicker of uncertainty in her eyes. Which is why her reply is pleasantly surprising.

“Okay.” The word is murmured.

Reaching both arms around her with my jacket in one hand, I physically move closer as I wrap the coat around her shoulders. Instantly, her scent engulfs me. Her shampoo smells like vanilla and strawberries, drugging me with a soothing warmth despite the chill the in the air. Taking a deeper breath to draw her essence into my senses, it vaguely occurs to me that she’s never changed her shampoo all these years; it’s still smells the same as when I’d wake from our sleepovers, having rolled over onto her pillow during the course of the night.

Can the same be said for the girl herself standing in front of me? I cannot help but be somewhat convinced that somewhere within the dowdy exterior, there’s still that little girl that used to be my confidante late into the wee hours of dawn. My partner-in-crime. My best friend.

But that was back then.

And there have been too many events in between that remain unknown to each other. Like the quarry lake… and of course, the infamous ‘peanut boy’ incident, but to quote a few examples.

Still holding onto my jacket as she shrugs one arm, and then the other into the sleeves, I cannot help but smile wryly to see the small figure she cuts, dwarfed in my jacket.

Seeing her still shivering slightly, I run my hands up and down the sleeves to incite some warmth for her. “Better?” I ask.

“Yeah,” she replies, even as she pulls back the slightest bit, away from my reach.

I release her completely from my grasp with some reluctance, and as we continue our path towards her house, I notice her arms tightly clenched around one another, as if she’s pulling herself tighter into a ball. As if she’s building a wall around herself. A bubble. Like I did at dinner.

“Liz, I was wondering-”

“Max, I was wondering-”

Two pairs of twinkling eyes meet as we echo each other. Laughing lightly, I nod my head in acquiescence to let her begin the conversation.

“How’s Michael? I don’t figure that he could have been in any mood to discuss *projects*. And figuring your Dad would have been displeased to know what happened, I’m sorry I couldn’t express my concern earlier. Hope he’s feeling better though,” she states simply. Like nothing changed from our time spent together yesterday. Like I hadn’t brushed her off this morning in front of Alex and Kyle.

Maybe there’s a catch there somewhere.

“He is. Slight hangover, but he’ll survive.”

“So you cut classes just to go check on him?”

See. I told you so.

“Erm…”

“Alex mentioned it when I found him while looking for you… or rather when I was looking for Isabel, when I couldn’t find you,” she smiles a little mischievously, daring me to prove her otherwise. She’s pretty much indicated that she knew I must have had something urgent that I needed to speak to Michael about to have warranted my playing hooky.

“I just… needed his help on a project. Not exactly our project like I said earlier. More like my personal project.” See, I don’t need to lie. Just some omitted facts she doesn’t need to know about, that’s all.

“I see.” And she continues walking. She’s always known not to push me further when I’m not ready to open up. Like in the hallway this morning. Like now. Like it’s always been, even way back when…

Our steps continue on for a little while, the breeze creating the only sound as leaves in the trees lining the path rustle gently, the uppermost branches swaying in a hypnotic back and forth motion.

As the thoughts continue to roll about in my mind on how to apologize for my earlier behavior, her voice penetrating the night atmosphere suddenly catches my attention.

“You didn’t continue.”

“Sorry?” My surprised tone causes her to incline her head in my direction even as she maintains her pace.

“You were saying… when I interrupted?” She tries to jog my memory.

“Oh. Oh that. I just wanted to say…” I bite my lower lip hesitantly.

“Yes?”

“… I was surprised that you seemed really intrigued by what Dad was saying at dinner. About his campaigns. His anecdotes all that. You know…”

Yes, so I chickened out. It’s another ten minutes or so to her place. I figure I have the time to find a way to work it into the conversation somehow.

“And why would that be so?” She asks, her voice emoting her astonishment that I would think otherwise.

Puckering my lips a little, I frown a little as I try to explain to her why without belittling Dad’s job, “It just seems so… boring.” Okay, so I can’t come up with a better description.

Whirling to place herself in my path, she places her hand lightly on my arm as we face each other. “Why would you say that? What your Dad does… is awesome.”

I answer, a little amused by the passion that has suddenly been infused into her voice and lighted up her eyes, “I hardly think your Dad agrees with that.”

She doesn’t try to deny the fact that the Minister and Dad run in different circles. “Granted. It’s different, but from what he’s told me… the point is: he’s trying to make a difference.”

Stepping closer to me in an attempt to give more emphasis to her point of view, she continues. “Every man chooses his own path, and therefore, every man chooses to express his concern for those he cares for,” as she accentuates the next words individually, “In the way he so chooses.” Her voice begins to drop off a little, “even if not everyone may view it the same way he does. And it takes A LOT of courage. To make a difference. Especially when it’s against the odds.”

Involuntarily, I stiffen as her words sink in, my mind clinging onto snatches of her monologue: “making a difference… choose… not everyone feels the same way… courage…” Swallowing painfully past the raspiness I feel in my throat, I cannot help but feel as though she indirectly accusing me.

“Well, not everyone CAN make a difference you know,” my voice comes out sounding irked, even as I protest on behalf of a non-existent, guilty third party.

A sigh from her. “This is NOT about you Max.”

“I didn’t say it was,” I huff out defensively.

“I wasn’t implying that it was, but if you choose to think so-” her voice remains calm, although I sense a weariness creeping into her tone that she is unable to hide.

“It isn’t huh?”

“No. It isn’t.” Each syllable is tinged with terseness even though her timbre remains even.

“Okay, then tell me. How can one ‘make a difference’ when there are others ready to extinguish with their pessimism?” I challenge her.

It is not only a matter of my wanting to know how her mind works, but also possibly to give me an insight to how Dad… how Isabel… how SHE can all ‘make a difference’. All while I still find myself in a constant state of limbo.

Dad’s words from before haunted me when he spoke them. As they do now. As they did even before then.

“Isabel’s trying to make a difference. And you. What do you do? REALLY, Max. I want to know. What DO you do? WHY do you do what you do?”

Looking into my eyes, she sees the pained expression. “It’s not always easy Max, but if you set your mind to it-”

“And look where that’s gotten YOU,” I hit back at her for being able to so easily read my vulnerability. “The way you walk around school. Do you even notice the way people talk and snicker behind your back?”

“Remember when you admitted to being a goody-two-shoes?” Raising my hands above my head on either side, my volume escalating, I snidely state, “You have no idea how well you’ve hit the nail on the head. Cos you’re the ultimate ‘Lil Miss Perfect’, the ‘darling’ Minister’s daughter that can do no wrong. And where does THAT get you? You’ve hardly got any friends.”

“I may not have that many friends Max. But the ones that matter, I know they’re there for me… even if they may not realize it sometimes. And such friends that you speak of… if they only cause you to feel torn inside, rather than help you to nurture your true self, why would you want to BE friends with them?” She puts forth quietly but firmly, no hint of animosity at the hurtful words I’ve flung at her.

“And if they’re the only ones the person’s got?” I continue. “Their acceptance can be a strong driving force in one’s life,” I add, adamant not to bring the words ‘peer pressure’ and ‘me’ into the discussion.

She regards me quizzically for a moment.

“And that’s why you couldn’t talk to me today after class,” she says impassively. And I can only stare back at her, my conflicting emotions all but evident on my face.

Guilt that she knows. Anger that I’m so transparent to her despite all this time. Horror that she will not understand my actions. Frustration that she is adamant on psycho-analyzing me. Overwhelming fear that she will just walk away from it all… from me… altogether.

My silence all but confirms the fact for her and I swallow tightly as we regard each other in a stand-off.

How did things get so out of hand? Less than twenty-four hours ago, a comparable encounter brought forth altogether different emotions. Starkly contrasting manifestations of said emotions.

So here we are. Same setting; totally different atmosphere. The electric charge running through the air feels as though it’s ready to overflow, hurting all and sundry in its path.

And all I need to… want to do is say are three words that could rectify the situation.

I. Am. Sorry.

So simple, yet so difficult to get pass my lips. All I have to do is open up; confess what is in my heart, and all will be well.

That’s all. And I-

“Right…” she says tightly, her mouth tightening into a grimace at my lack of protest to her accurate guess on this morning’s incident. Abruptly, she turns away from me. Even as she trying to hide a sniffle, I can see the dejection in the slump of her shoulders that are engulfed in my too-big jacket.

Her following words are barely audible. “I guess… I thought you’re different Max. I’d thought-” A sigh sounds before she resumes her steps forward. “Never mind what I thought,” she mumbles to herself.

Jogging to reach her, I continue our sojourn walking backwards, viewing the bowed profile of her bent head. Right now, I’m interested to seek better understanding of the girl I thought I was familiar with… even as the years drifted on, widening the chasm between us.

“No, Liz. What?” I press on, determined that she not leave me hanging like all the other recent times. It’s no coy cat-and-mouse game we’re playing here.

I just want to understand.

Struggling to control tears that well up and threaten to slip forth, she brushes her fingers under her eyes while pressing her lips tightly together, even as they tremble from the force of her exertion.

“Talk to me Liz. Please. I know I have… erred today. Just… talk to me… like we used to,” my voice is almost pleading even as her eyes snap up to mine at the last part.

“Like we used to, Max?” She releases a disbelieving laugh. She hasn’t stopped walking, but has instead increased her pace. I face forward again and race a little in order not to lose her in the growing darkness.

When her words come out, they do so haltingly. “It’s just… been a really long time since… Well, I thought you’d forgotten our friendship… when you started hanging with the jocks.”

I know her words are true, but they sting nonetheless… cos I know that it’s true. I did kind of forget her, about the great awareness we had of one another, all three of us. Finding Michael and the rest of the guys was what I needed. What I still need.

I think.

She continues, her steps slowing down, attention drifting from me as she tries to translate her thoughts into words. “I just thought… with all that we talked about last night… I thought-” she trails off.

I don’t need her to finish the sentence to know how she’d been feeling. In those early years, our sentiments often ran a close parallel. In light of recent events, it’s obvious that we… I mean, she thought that things were gonna take a turn to return to how they were when we were still eleven.

“Liz-”

“No, Max.” The resolution has returned to her voice, the sadness now masked by a steadiness reflected in her poise as she looks at me from the side, all the while keeping up her stride.

“It’s how you behave. Around school. Around Michael and the jocks. Around your family.” She sees me shirk a little away from her, but refuses to yield although her tone stays even. “We may not be close like we used to be these last six years Max, but somewhere along the way, the care-free spirited boy who spoke of dreams and dared to stand up to the countless school bullies… that boy that I knew… he disappeared.”

She ventures further when I offer no retort. “He was replaced by an angsty, popularity-hungry, hormonally-driven persona who figured that the world owed him because he got misunderstood as the son of an important person.”

As I am about to interject a token of protest, she cuts me off by placing herself in my path. “But…” she says, grasping one of my hands in both of hers, “It’s not you Max.”

I can only stare at her in perplexity as she pouts slightly, seeking for just the right words. “You’re you, but… you’re not.” Seeing the deepening frown of confusion on my face, she pauses a moment, then decides to say it the way she sees it.

“You’re acting Max. And I don’t mean anything to do with the play. You act. Around everyone. And the roles that you play? The rebellious son, the popular cool kid, the tough-guy… they’re anything but the real you. Why are you so afraid to let people know the real you? Why the need for the façade?”

At my sustained silence, she ventures into territory that has me narrowing my eyes in muted anger. “Because while I may not have that many friends, I’m comfortable the way I am. You may not like to hear this from me, but I don’t think you can say the same despite being surrounded by the masses.”

I am disturbed. By her. Not at her, but by her. Back when we were the “Three Musketeers” and confidantes in all sense of the word, she was never one to hold back her thoughts just because she thought they might offend. Not that I did too.

But somewhere along the line, she managed to stick by her convictions while I’d wavered. Her words spoke the truth, and belatedly, I realize why it was I felt so at ease when I was with her last night on the way to the dinner.

“Around her, I found that there was no need for me to behave in a certain manner. No need to be a jock… no need to be the Congressman’s son…”

Around her, I could just be me.

As we turn the corner to her home, the Jag comes into view. It would be almost amusing to see how the past twenty-four hours have turned out just from a simple act of forgetting to bring home the car. I think I’ve been put through the roller-coaster of all emotional roller-coasters today.

And the biggest thing weighing on my mind?

That while Liz has clearly expressed her displeasure at how I’ve treated her, she’s more concerned about me right now.

Not HER. But ME.

Walking her up the stairs to her door, we haven’t spoken since she basically dissected my personality for all to see. And she did so despite our six-year drift.

And while I may have pushed aside a lot about our friendship, there are still many memories hidden in the rusty corners of my mind, gathering cobwebs. Corners that need some serious housekeeping.

I know what she says is true, and truth be told, she has helped clear the muddle in my head to a certain extent. About who I am, and my purpose… and how I can ‘make a difference’.

I know that I won’t be able to make a wholesale change, but hopefully if Michael’s plan – whatever it is – works, I’ll be able to take a baby step in the right direction in making things right between me and the rest of the world… and hopefully, even between Liz and myself.

So here we stand again, on the porch of her home. My hands are tucked into my jeans’ pockets to compensate for the cold since I’d lent her my jacket. My jacket that is still wrapped around her. That which she still hugs snugly to herself.

She seems to be battling internally before finally opening up. “Max, if I’ve said-”

“Shh,” I shush her with an airy touch of my index finger to her lips, “I get it. Like you said, I may not like it, but… I get it,” I say silently as my hand longs to linger.

Biting on her lips, she takes a step backwards to the door saying, “Thanks for walking me home Max. Drive safely.”

I watch her step into the house and turn to face me again.

“’Night Liz.”

“’Night Max,” comes her mellow reply before she closes the door.

I turn to walk down the porch steps towards the Jag, but pause momentarily to turn my head towards the closed door.

“Don’t let the bedbugs bite,” I softly address the empty night air before me.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~

CHALLENGE POLL:
Any guesses on what you think is coming up in the next part?
Hint: It's hinted at somewhere in Part 14.*wink**wink* Have fun!!

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 11-Jun-2002 3:39:46 PM ]
posted on 11-Jun-2002 5:06:20 PM by Dark Ilk
quote:
hannahpm originally wrote:
Excellent story. Loved the last part. Max and Liz are finnally getting closer. Is Max finnally gonna realize what hes let himself become?

*bounce**bounce**angel**bounce**bounce*


Thanks for the fb hannahpm. And yes, Max is beginning to come round. *big**big**bounce**bounce*

quote:
Ericka originally wrote:
uhhh liz is gonna get bitten by the bed bugs? I have no clue...it better be something good for my dreamer heart!


lol... gal... seems u might need to re-read Part 13 for what tt comment meant. And promise u tt it's def srhg good... if not great! *big**big**big*

okies.... gotta hit the sack. utterly wiped out now. *silly alien yawns* nite nite all.
posted on 14-Jun-2002 5:02:00 AM by Dark Ilk
lol... thanks you guys for the fb. Been a little behind in writing the next part as I've been inspired by an idea as to how to end the fic... won't give away too much, but all Dreamer hearts hang in there. *wink**wink*

Okies... update on CHALLENGE POLL:
What do you think is gonna happen in Part 15?


Responses so far:
1. 1 - Smooch fest (KitCat26)
2. 2 - Max ponders on Liz's words (roswellluver, hannahpm)
3. 1 - Liz getting 'bitten by the bed bug' (Ericka)
4. 1 - Max and Michael's plan (Abby)
5. 1 - Intervention of some sort by Maria (SarahWhitman)

And of course to all readers who have just stumbled on the fic, of have come out of lurkdom. Welcome mitra!! Glad you're enjoying the fic!! I'm having a blast writing and getting all the fb from u gals..

okies.. gtg. take care for now everyone... and eh erm... *wink**wink* Let's just say that one of the suggestions above is spot on!! *big**big**big**big**big*
posted on 16-Jun-2002 10:41:07 PM by Dark Ilk
okies.... the bad news. My comp crashed and am struggling nnow to retrieve the assign I completed over the hols and that I likely have to redo all over again!! AARRGGHH!! *silly alien din forgot to back up data* Which means I'll need to take a timeout fr writing the fic a while while I settle my laptop... sorry all.

THe good news. I haven't lost my original fic with my notes for the future sections. So you can take heart from that. There's no way I'm abandoning this fic, esp when I found the perfect inspiration and ending to the fic just days ago... but hope that you guys can hang in there while I try to sort this mess out.

So for now, no new parts for the moment, but promise to try to sort this out asap so that I can get back here.

Sorry again all. *sad**sad**sad**sad*
posted on 16-Jun-2002 10:52:45 PM by Dark Ilk
Thanks for the comforting words Kitcat. Am sending this mail via my aunt's comp... which is even slower than mine... sigh... argh... okies... gonna go offline and try to sort out this mess already.

Then back to AWTR!! *silly alien marches forth with flag araise, refusing to be discouraged by data loss*
posted on 24-Jun-2002 12:11:47 AM by Dark Ilk
Hey everyone. Just wanted to let you know that I'm back online... kinda.

Laptop's dead.*sad**sad**sad* but found tt my old PC's still alive and kicking. But much slower and not mobile. So it'll take me a little longer to finish up the next part. The good news is that I've finished up about 80% of Part 15. I hope to get it up by Wed or Thursday, so hang in there okay?

In the meantime, thanks to everyone for your kind patience. Lol, thanks Abby and frenchkiss70 for all the bumps and welcome to all new readers as well like Reven Eid and Lady_without_a_clue

Nickey: lol... comps take over the world indeed... well... they're taking over my life tt much I know. LOL... barely survived those few days when had absolutely no online access...

Ericka: SO I see you read the book!! *bounce**bounce* How did you find it? I loved it so much!!! *big**big**big**big* The show was okay for me, but the book... *sniff* *sniff* moved me to tears. As for the ending.... I don't wanna give away too much, but I definitely know how I'm gonna end it. Just gonna say that all you Dreamer hearts, hang in there!!

Rach: What can I say about the plan... hhmmm... only that there will be some resolution to that in the next part. *wink**wink* hehehe...

Oh yes... and of course... an update on the CHALLENGE POLL: What do you think is gonna happen in Part 15?

Responses so far:
1. 2 - Smooch fest (KitCat26, JaneLane)
2. 2 - Max ponders on Liz's words (roswellluver, hannahpm)
3. 1 - Liz getting 'bitten by the bed bug' (Ericka)
4. 4 - Max and Michael's plan (Abby, frenchkiss70, Nickey, Rach)
5. 1 - Intervention of some sort by Maria (SarahWhitman)
6. 1 - Insight as to who Liz Parker really is (Nickey)

And final word for now... "I'll be back..." *big**tongue**big**tongue**big*
posted on 26-Jun-2002 1:13:56 AM by Dark Ilk
Alrightee then!! Too many good things happening today!! Just finished the part when my stuff from Amazon arrived!! Yeah!!*bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce* Get to have some fun in the afternoon with my DVDs and books!! Yippee!! *silly alien does happy dance around her room*

Anyway... the important part of this post... Part 15!!

hehe... okies, realised I kinda gave away the answer to the poll in my last posting.. lol.. silly alien indeed huh? Anyway... now that the cat is out of the bag, it's time for some revelation of the plan... hehehe...

Hope y'all enjoy.. and of course!! FB please...

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 15

So I'm sitting here in drama class trying to focus my attention on something… anything to keep my eyes from straying over to the seat two chairs away to my left.

To the figure scrawling something on the paper on her tabletop. Her attention rapt in what she is doing. Her pencil working varying patterns; sometimes short, sharp strokes, then in long wavy lines. Her eyebrows knit in a picture of concentration.

Her hair is back in the traditional bun, glasses seated firmly on the bridge of her nose as she frowns slightly at an error she seems to have made. Poking at her spectacles as it slides down her face a little, she works fervently to correct her mistake. I watch as she licks and chews lightly on the corner of her lower right lip, head tilted at an angle to get a better perspective on what she's working on.

Watching her, I cannot help but recall my thoughts on the drive after walking her home. The same thoughts that have continued since to plague me with no obvious resolution in sight. I don't think I can deny my feelings where she is concerned. But that's not the main issue as she has so blatantly pointed out.

She may have forgiven me for the incident with Alex and Kyle… but that doesn't mean that I'm home free. There's still Alex, Kyle, Michael. I mean, how do I face them if Liz and I were to go together… I mean if that's even something she's willing to consider in light of our past history. An-and… there'll be all the rumors. Like… like those about the town dinner and play aren't enough, and I'm considering pushing the envelope with this-this-this…

Breathe, Max.

Inhaling deeply, then exhaling a long drawn-out breath, I close my eyes in an attempt to quiet the warring thoughts in my head. Rubbing wearily at my temples, I slowly pry open my eyes to frown a little crossly at no one in particular, casting my eyes downwards to my tabletop instead.

It suddenly occurs to me that I'm not the only restless one; in fact, the entire class is getting restless.

Where is Miss Garber?

This is highly unusual for Miss Garber who's a stickler for punctuality. But then again, you already knew that from my first altercation with her in class right?

As if reading my thoughts, she enters the class in a flurry, a nervous bundle of energy that seems ready to bounce off the walls. Settling her materials on the table and turning to the blackboard, she doesn't notice that the class' attention has been captured with her none too subtle arrival.

Clapping her hands together sharply twice, she turns to face the class. "Class, may I have your attention please?"

Realizing a little belatedly that everyone's already staring at her, she stifles a wince and takes two steps forward.

"I'm got some bad news about the play. It seems that Dennis is unable to carry in with the role of Tom Thornton. As you already know, no other male understudies are available, and I doubt that Minister Parker would appreciate an alternative interpretation of his script by putting a female in a male role… especially when it's the lead role. So unless we can come up with an alternative solution, I am afraid… that we may have to reconsider this year's Christmas production."

I give a silent whoop of joy: Go Michael!! I knew he was the man who could convince Dennis to let me step back into the role.

A wave of "oh no"'s and "What?"'s sweep across the room at her words and I notice that Liz visibly pales at her words, her head snapping up from her task when she hears Miss Garber speaking.

Seeing her mouth drop agape and her eyes fill with what I am sure I have mistaken for horror, I cannot help but wonder about her reaction.

But I have a more important task at hand.

While the class continues to titter with the monumental possibility that the play may not be produced for the first time since it was written, I raise my hand tentatively in a bid to get Miss Garber's attention.

"Yes, Max?" she asks while a sense of déjà vu overcomes me with the ironic thought that this was exactly the same words and tone she'd used just before I'd withdrawn from the play.

"I, uh, I think we may still be able to carry on. I mean, I hadn't wanted to say anything to put Dennis in a difficult position-"

"Max. Your point?" Miss Garber's voice is laced with annoyance and lethargy. The woman is evidently about to reach her boiling point at having to cope with the current crisis.

"Wellll… my arm has actually recovered to the point I don't think it would be too much of a problem for me to-"

"Take on the role of Tom?!" Miss Garber's condition suddenly takes a 360-degree turnaround as her mind makes the connection.

Suddenly, her face is filled with relief, and I see her eyes mist over with unshed tears as she watches me with a look I have never seen her show me before. A look of… pride. And it fills me with sudden satisfaction that for once, I'm doing right by others.

"Are you sure Max?" she asks, her voice still filled with concern that I may be exaggerating the health of my shoulder to accommodate Dennis' absence. At the underlying anxiety I hear in her voice, I cannot help but feel a twinge of guilt for causing this whole mess in the first place. It only further strengthens my resolve to do the right thing.

And this has nothing to do with the fact that out of the corner of my eye, I see that Liz's previously worried expression has been replaced by one of temporary reprieve. In fact, I don't even think I'm overstating it when I say that her face seems to be lit with quiet satisfaction that I am to replace Dennis in the lead role.

"It's not a problem, Miss Garber. Just glad that I can help… and make a difference somehow," I add as an afterthought, my eyes searching out those of a certain brunette who has looked back down to her previous distraction.

From my standing perspective, I suddenly find my brows furrow slightly as I realise that she hasn't been writing on the paper so much as she had been… sketching?

Huh? Since when-

"Max, I think I can speak for the class when I say that this move on your part will indeed make a difference. Unexpected… but welcome nonetheless," Miss Garber's words interrupt my train of thought as a collective sigh of relief washes over the class.

Turning my attention back to the matronly figure in the front of the class, I cannot help but change a light shade of crimson as the class flash beaming grins at me, gratitude that their efforts in preparation would not go to waste evident in their demeanors.

"But what happened to Dennis, Miss Garber?" an inquiring voice rings out from the back of the class where Shirley Bass is seated as she queries out of curiosity.

Evidently, this common thought seems to run secondary in the back of everyone's mind. Now that the immediate crisis has been resolved, there are questions aplenty on how the situation has come to be so.

Truth be told, I was curious too. When Michael had said not to ask questions, I hadn't really thought much about it. Now that my goal had been somewhat achieved, I had to admit that my curiosity was peaked too.

"That was partially the reason why I was late for class. You see, Dennis met with a slight accident," Miss Garber provides helpfully.

That one split moment was all it took.

One second, I was the soaring eagle, climbing the ever rising flight of euphoria. The satisfied tabby cat that had eaten the plumpest canary in the shop. The quick and resourceful dog that had buried the juiciest bone it'd found in the one place no one knew to look.

And the next, I'd plummeted to the ground at lightning speed as a gradually tightening knot began to form in the pit of my stomach.

And yes. I do not miss the irony that I could become the literal pariah dog right now.

Oh no. This cannot be happening.

Silently hoping that no one is paying any attention to me, I quickly slink back down into my seat, my head bowed as my thoughts start whirling anew at what may have happened.

As the buzz in class is re-ignited with this piece of unfortunate news, I hear muttered queries and comments all around.

"Did it happen in school?"
"Oh no. Not again."
"The klutz is really something. He really needs to be protected from himself I tell you."
"Was it suicide?"
"Did someone cause his accident, or was he just his usual clumsy self again?"
"Do his parents know about it?"
"Who else was around when it happened? Was anyone else even around?"

And my mind is swimming with the guilt-ridden knowledge that somehow, some way, I have caused his accident.

"Unfortunately, Dennis seemed to have sprained his back and banged his head slightly in the boys' room when… he slipped on the wet floor. *Apparently*, he says that he hadn't been… paying attention and… one thing led to another," Miss Garber states, the tone of her voice indicating that she'd sensed something amiss with Dennis' explanation, but was unable to offer any other rationale to counter otherwise.

I stifle an internal moan at the evidence piling up in front of me. Evidence that points to the increasingly probable likelihood that Michael and heavens knows who else must have been involved. There is little doubt in my mind.

Thank God at least that they hadn't left him for dead altogether.

"And how did he manage to get help?" This is from Suzie Lorne seated directly in front of me, causing me to flinch a little nervously at the proximity of the question raised. One that I, too, was curious to have answered.

"Well, a female student thought she'd heard some unusually loud ruckus coming from the boys' room and went to the office to get help. When they got there with the discipline master, they found Dennis alone, passed out on the floor," Miss Garber continues. I wince imperceptibly as the girls give a gasp of mortification at the notion that someone could have done something like that to Dennis.

Even the catty remarks from earlier were taken back by the guilty parties. I mean, for all the klutz that Dennis was, he really was a harmless guy who just happened to be really… awkward. No one ever wished such injury upon him.

Until now, that is.

Miss Garber spends the rest of the period filling in everyone about Dennis' condition since clearly, no one was in the mood for classes when one of their own had been so carelessly treated.

And so I listened listlessly to how he had been revived with some water splashed to his face. To how he howled in pain when they tried to help him off the floor. To how he'd nearly passed out again from dizziness after they'd revived him. To how they'd arranged for him to be sent to the hospital. To how his mum had been near hysterics when she'd learnt of her son's incident.

And voices of other recent memories rise to haunt my sanity as well. Recurring thoughts; words of truth that I'm not sure I can face up to. Because they've led me to this very moment.

Despite the best of my intentions, everything has gone so wrong.

"Every man chooses his own path… And it takes A LOT of courage. To make a difference. Especially when it's against the odds."

Liz's words taunt me even as I realize that the 'path' I have chosen has led to Dennis' detriment. What type of person does that make me? That I hadn't even considered to ask Michael what his plan was? Had I really been so naïve to think that he would just 'talk' to him?

"You're acting Max… Around everyone… The rebellious son, the popular cool kid, the tough-guy… they're anything but the real you. Why are you so afraid to let people know the real you? Why the need for the façade?"

And this brings up my next dilemma, doesn't it? Do I act and pretend that I had no prior knowledge of how this situation came about? Or own up and face the consequences of my actions… and in the process probably ruin the entire production? There's no way I can be excused for my part in this.

The throb behind my temples becomes almost unbearable as I seek to tune out the voices - internal as well as external - when I come to the abrupt realization that the class has been dismissed already, leaving just a few stragglers remaining.

My head snapping up to find that Miss Garber was no longer around, I realise that my path has more or less been set. It would be outright strange and futile for me to retract my earlier offer now.

Moving to stand, I lift my eyes to see Liz standing in front of me.

Great. Now what?

"Are you really sure you're okay Max?" she asks tentatively, seeing the pensive look on my face.

Giving her a weak smile, I nod a little morosely as she follows after me out of class. "Is there anything I can do for you?" my voice comes out a little more curt than I'd expected.

"I was just wondering if you were really okay… you know, with your shoulder just 'recovered' and all," she offers by way of explanation, her steps keeping in time with mine. Her tone is confident, a drastic change from her serene demeanor of earlier on.

"Well, I wouldn't have thought that it would have caused you much discomfort if I wasn't now, would it? Afterall, what goes around, comes around," I try to interject some humor to compensate for my prior boorish tone.

I catch a frown cross her features as she looks at me with an air of gravity.

"It's not about 'an eye for an eye' Max. Sometimes in life, you have to learn to turn the other cheek. It's… it's too short to-"

"Hey, I'm just kidding." I interrupt her with a little smile, not liking the look of genuine distress that has sprouted in her eyes. "I'm just making small talk here Liz. Not like I really think that you would wish me ill."

A little roll of her eyes. "I didn't- Oh." And she smiles down at her shoes as she realizes that I'm trying to keep the moment light.

I smile a tight grin. "Yeah."

We look at each other with a little uncertainty as we stand face to face in the middle of the hallway. I realise that I need to do something… say something that will keep me in her close proximity.

"So I have my next class in History-" I say.

"Yeah, I have Home Ec," she breathes and starts to take a step away from me.

Wrong start dude.

"Wait Liz," I move forward to put a hand on her retreating arm even as she turns quickly at the sound of my voice… A movement that brings us practically into full body contact with each other.

The source of the sudden gasp of surprise could have been one or both of us, but it doesn't matter as we both simultaneously move like two North poles, practically catapulting back from each other as I see her face color hotly.

I am certain I am a mirror to her countenance.

Biting my lip to keep from emitting any other sounds, I murmur, "Sorry about that."

Clearing her throat, she utters in a somewhat shaky voice, "You wanted to ask me something?", pointedly skirting around our 'close encounter'.

"Uh…" as my mind riffles through for any plausible excuse. "I, uh, I wanted to ask for your help… for the play."

As her eyes brighten at the mention of the play, she takes a step towards me, her previous embarrassment forgotten.

"What about it Max?"

At my momentary loss of speech, she adds, "A-And just so you'll know… even though I'm sorry that Dennis is injured, I… I'm glad that- I think that you'll make a great Tom."

"Yeah, I know," I say, nodding my head.

Seeing her eyebrow arch at my comment, my mind quickly retraces what I just replied to.

"You're pretty confident about your acting abilities," she tries to keep from smiling.

"I-I didn't mean that. I mean, I did. Wait," I say, holding up a hand as I try to make myself more coherent.

"I meant that 'I know'… about feeling sorry that Dennis is injured. Not that-"

"Hey, I'm just kidding." She mimics my earlier comments, even down to my facial expression. And I can't help but stare at her dumbfoundedly for a second.

"Really though Max," she interrupts my silent reverie, "I do have to get to class, so-"

"Yeah. Um, I was just wondering do you think we could run lines together?" Seeing a questioning look form on her face, I push on in a single breath. "Considering that I wasn't even supposed to be acting at all, I'm a little uncertain and all. I mean, I'd understand if you said 'no', but I figured it wouldn't be any harm if I'd just ask anyw-"

"Yes, Max." She interrupts before I continue to ramble.

A deep breath. "Yes?" I repeat.

"Yes."

"Oh. Okay."

"But…"

"But?" I ask a little uncertainly, wondering what conditions she is about to impose.

"You have to promise me something," she states gravely, her face a mask of seriousness.

"What is it?" I ask curiously, seeing the earnestness in her expression.

"You have to promise me that you won't fall in love with me," as her expression remains the same, betraying no signs of whether she's joking or not.

Two rapid blinks are all I can manage at her words.

Is she serious?! Like I'd actually… Okay, so she caught me off guard. Come on, I mean, I know I can like the girl. But to fall in love with her?

Okay. You know what? Don't answer that.

"Uh, O. K.?" I answer her a little tentatively, eyebrows raised slightly with uncertainty about the response that I'd elicit from her.

"Right," as a blinding smile breaks across her face, "Then I don't see any problems with our working together to make it the best production yet," she says.

Starting to move away again, she throws a last comment in my direction. "See you around soon then… Peanut Boy."

Rolling my eyes in mock hurt, I cannot help the smile from making itself known on my face too as she releases a small laugh and makes her way down the hallway.

Watching her happily walk away, I feel the smile slip from my face and my gut beginning to roll with conflicting emotions over this latest proceeding. The fresh luscious lightness of moments ago has now been tempered with the sour acidic drip of the consequences of my poorly thought out actions. Even worse, I never expected the truckload of guilt I find myself swimming in knowing that my carelessness has resulted in what is increasingly becoming a farce.

I don't regret that I've decided to take responsibility, to step up to Liz's challenge. She seems truly glad that I'm going to take on a more active role in the play. Still…

I've taken a right step with Liz, but can I live with finding out that it was done so at Dennis' expense?

As Liz turns the corner of the hallway and continues out of my sight, I feel a sudden premonition, a flash of illogical worry as if signaling some as yet unforeseen future.

Dear God.

What will she think if she ever finds out?

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~
posted on 27-Jun-2002 10:32:38 PM by Dark Ilk
Hey everyone! :wave: thx for the fb, and sorry I didn't reply sooner. Glad to see you like how the story's going so far...

Comments for everyone:
Yep... Dennis had to make way, but tt's not the end of the incident yet.. so hang in there... I know Mikey G has some explaining to do... *wink**wink*

Abby: *big**big**big* I know u would b surprised to see I posted early... hehehe... Oh... n my stuff tt came... *happy* I know quite backdated, but got 3 Ewan McGregor's DVDs (Moulin Rouge, Eye of the Beholder and Nightwatch), the #2 and #3 books in the Roswell series (No Good Deed, Little Green Men) and 2 CDs (Switchfoot and Ivy tt I can't find in Singapore) Enjoyed esp e dance and choreography sessions in the MR DVDs... *bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce* ABSOLUTELY loved the tango!!!

mitra: hehe... I definitely had to get him back into the play somehow... hehehe.... even though he was an a$$ to chicken out initially.... and now, u kinda know why too. *big*

Rach: lol... I love tt line in the book too. THer was no way that I was NOT going to incorporate tt line somehow... but u read my mind... slightly different situation from the book since like u said... he's kinda already in love w her here...

Ericka: Erm...
quote:
this is gonna be tragic

is something that I wouldn't agree / disagree to at this stage of the story.. but hang in there babe... I promise tt there's lots more to come... ;)

Liz Park: Hey again babe... Glad to see how my fic's going... hope urs is progressing just as nicely for you too. *happy**happy**happy*

frenchkiss70:
quote:
Did Michael really hurt Dennis?

*wink* that's an interesting point now huh? Well, like I said.. Michael has some explaining to do... so behr a little w me. As for LIz's comment, welllll... the prologue did warn that there'll be laughter as well as tears... so... I'm not gonna spoil it for now...

talena: Welcome!! Thanks for your encouragement on the different take on Max and Liz's past... I think this is the most drastic change I've made so far... from the book as well as the movie... and yeah.. you're so right; he needs to work thru the rest of the stuff before he can progress any further w Liz.

Oh, and thx for the bump too!! *big**big*


CHALLENGE POLL:
Okays.... so now I need to solicit some opinions on 2 matters. I know what events I want to come up with roughly soon, but not too sure wat event you gals want to see first; and also if another matter is to happen at all.

1. What do you want to see in the next part:
(a) Max with Liz practising for the play;
(b) (semi-)resolution for Max and Michael on the Dennis issue;
(c) Any other scenario

2. Do you want Liz to find out about Max's involvement with Dennis' injury?
(a) If 'no', why?
(b) If 'yes', how do you think she would / should react to it?
(c) Any other opinion.


Would appreciate all the fb I can get, cos it's gonna kinda guide how events will unfold. Don't worry. I definitely know how the story ends... just tt I'd love to see how you guys want the content to run. *wink*

toodles for now...

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 27-Jun-2002 10:36:52 PM ]
posted on 1-Jul-2002 10:49:55 PM by Dark Ilk
quote:
Butterflyprincess06 originally wrote:
Dude, did you just copy the book an change the names?
That's sad!!!


Welcome butterflyprincess06. Sorry to see that you feel this way. I've adapted it along the lines of the book so far, but the content remains largely different. I definitely credit NIcholas Sparks with the whole idea of the story, and the title (which I love too much to want to change). But to answer your question, it's 'no' and 'no'. Maybe if you can tell me which parts you think I've badly gone wrong, you could point that out, and I'll bear these in mind when continue writing the fic, but I can definitely say that I'm enjoying the experience and feedback from all the readers so far.

And of course, thanks to Abby, talena and frenchkiss70 for the bumps. *big**big**big**big**big**big**big**big*

I'm apologizing in advance that updates are gonna have to slow down. My new term has started and with my attachment for practicum, I may not have the time to work on the fic as often as I'd like to. But I definitely am keeping with the story.

In the meantime, thanks to everyone for their encouraging words (and even those not so encouraging ones lol). Have started on the new part, no fear!! and am taking the fb u gals have left me into consideration as well. *happy**happy**happy**happy*

till then, everyone enjoy the other fics!! (PS: Abby *silly alien waves frantically as she sniffles pityfully* Wheu you updating Undercover? I miss the two so much... *sniff* *sniff*

UPDATE ON CHALLENGE POLL:
1. What do you want to see in the next part:
(a) Max with Liz practising for the play;

1 (Ericka)
(b) (semi-)resolution for Max and Michael on the Dennis issue;
1 (frenchkiss70)
(c) Mix of (a) and (b)
2 (talena, Kitcat26)
(d) Either (a) or (b)
1 (Abby: lol babe. You give me too much credit!! but thanks for the encouraging words! *happy* )

2. Do you want Liz to find out about Max's involvement with Dennis' injury?
No: 1 (Kitcat26)
Yes: 4 ( Ericka, talena, Kitcat26, frenchkiss70)
how she would / should react to it?
3: Anger, disapproval (Ericka, talena, Kitcat26)
2: Makeup / makeout (Ericka, Kitcat26)
1: Tries to figure out his motives (frenchkiss70)
1: Surprise that Max would do what he did (talena)



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 2-Jul-2002 4:54:05 AM ]
posted on 10-Jul-2002 6:52:56 AM by Dark Ilk
I was going to drop by to let you guys know that with the new term just started, I'd be taking some time to adjust before I could (work on and) post the new part.

BUT...

Imagine my shock when I saw the supportive comments you guys had to say. *sniff* *sniff*. I just really, really, really wanted to say thanks to EVERYONE who has lent me their support and fabulous feedback and ideas. You have no idea how much inspiration you guys provide me.

And special mentions to...

talena for making me feel really honoured to want to host this fic. *happy**happy**happy**happy**happy**happy**happy**happy* Can I just say that words simply fail to express my appreciation?

To Abby: you crazy devil gal!! You've been an inspiration unto yourself with your own fics. *big**big*

To Nickey: *tongue**tongue* You do know that you really do wonders to my ego!! lol... I smile to see your overflowing enthusiasm to get the next part! And the witty little remarks... lol gal!!

And at this very particular moment: spark67.
I have to admit that I was a little taken by surprise initially, but I realise that no one can expect to be loved by everyone, so...
Then again, it's in knowing where I'd gone wrong that I'd probably learn more. Afterall, don't forget that this is still my first attempt, and already you gals are such a source of encouragement.

And to everyone and anyone else who has taken time out to read this fic, I just want to say thanks for that. Simply reading it. I wouldn't probably be able to churn out my thoughts in such a hurry at times w/o you gals. lol...

And so, I make this commitment:
I WILL work on the next part in the free time I can find between now till Sunday. And I WILL post a new part by next week's Monday no maater what.

This part is especially dedicated to all of you wonderful people who have believed in me and this story.

Thank you for making it what it is.
posted on 15-Jul-2002 8:15:51 AM by Dark Ilk
Eeks!!! Damn it!!

I cannot believe I made SUCH a stupid mistake!!

Hey all, sorry to let you know there will be an unexpected delay in the the next part...

I hadn't realised I was working off my flash drive instead off my HDD and there was an error and I lost the ENTIRE part I'd been writing on today!!! *stupid, stupid silly alien!!*

Okay, will try to redo the part again, but feeling majorly cheesed off at myself right now... and need to get back to preparing lessons for my students tomorrow as well...

I'll still try my best to make deadline... but I foresee a delay.

Behr with me y'all... *sad**sad**sad**sad*
posted on 3-Aug-2002 7:42:13 AM by Dark Ilk
Okay... I am so sorry that this next part took so long in coming. The bane of preparing lesson plans for formal observations by my supervisors gave me hardly any personal time, but to cut to the chase, here's the next part. It's actually only half of the next event - which is pretty long - so I beg your kind understanding again everyone.

And of course, thanks to everyone for the continuous bumps and welcome to DMatahari and salonica too!! Hope you're enjoying this little journey with the rest of us. *big**big**big*

Alrightee then! 'Nuff said!

Do enjoy! And don't forget to leave me fb!

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 16

Two weeks later - Parker residence

The shuffle of feet echo around the house even as pieces of furniture are used for obstacles between the two feuding figures chasing each other.

"Give it back," her voice is low, filled with the merest hint of threat as we find ourselves back in the living room.

"No." My voice is filled with self-assured calm, my smile threatening to split my face as I hide my hands behind my back, out of her reach.

"Come on, don't be a brat." She takes a few steps forward even as I retreat just out of the room, towards the staircase leading to the second story of the house.

"Hey, as if 'Peanut Boy' isn't bad enough. Now I'm a brat?" I ask in mock disbelief, an eyebrow raised in curiosity.

She takes a step forward. "Hey, if the shoe fits…" she intones in a nonchalant manner.

I move to stand on the first step of the staircase, facing her with my right hand on the balustrade. Haughtily, the words barely conceal the mirth beneath, "That tone isn't gonna make me give it up Liz."

Her voice suddenly takes on the nuance of a long-forgotten little girl about to whine, "Come on, Max."

Seeing that I'm not budging from my stand, she decides to modify her tactic. Still maintaining the little pout that has plastered itself on her face, she tries for the guilt trip. "Come on, I'm trying to help you here. And this is the thanks I get?" as she huffily crosses her arms, glaring semi-balefully up at me.

"Now, now, Liz. And all along, I thought you were helping me out your kind, altruistic nature. To think you can say that I'm being ungrateful?" I say as I hold my free hand to my chest, pretending to stagger from a knife wound she's inflicted. Shaking my head even as a ghost of a smile flitters across my lips, "Such cutting words you utter…"

Both of us hold our ground as her mysterious chocolate pools meet my playful amber scrutiny. Her eyes narrow. My grin grows wider by a mile.

An impasse, ladies and gentlemen. She glares. I stare. She comes one step closer. I take two up the stairs.

The silence that permeates the house is interrupted only by the tick-tock of the grandfather clock in the living room, and time seems temporarily frozen, neither of us making a movement

Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.

And then like arrows forthwith released from twin bows, we spring into action simultaneously. Me, racing up the stairs two at a time; she, a slow second as she tries to cut me off from my destination.

And where might that be you ask?

Alright, so that may not be your first question.

More likely: What. Is. Going. On?

Okay. I need to backtrack a little.

See, Liz agreed to help me with my lines two weeks ago. So here we are, practising our lines. Only… rather not, in this case.

Thank God old Hegbert isn't here today. You should have seen the look the first time I came over to run lines with Liz. He looked like a prison warden, ready to sit in on our rehearsal sessions as well until she subtly dragged him to his study, convincing him otherwise. Of course, this continued for the next few days until he seemed a little more convinced that his ‘baby’ was safe alone with me… Of course, he also made sure that he could see us. He left the study room door open to hear any sounds coming from the living room where we were conducting our sessions.

You'd think that if the guy felt it safe enough to let me escort his daughter to dinner, that he'd feel even safer with me in the house… especially since he was there personally to oversee our - okay, my - behavior.

Anyway, he was busy at the church the whole day today, and had left with much reluctance and only after Liz's cajoling words that she would “keep a watchful eye on things at home".

Words I'm not so sure she can currently attest to right now.

Okay, I still feel bad about Dennis and all that. But ever since I started coming over to rehearse with Liz, I can't bring myself to feel bad about the fact that I get to spend more time with her… cos there's a lot that I've been seeing to her this past week or so.

Things that I guess… I should have known haven't changed from when we were eleven, but yet strangely surprising to see that they are indeed so.

She's less awkward when she's in her own home. Less… quiet. Less… serious, and downright playful even. And as days passed, she’s increasingly opened up. The first session had been most frustrating as we’d treaded on eggshells around each other. The fact that her father was constantly in the background hadn’t helped matters.

Thankfully, the ice was finally broken when I'd flubbed some of my lines with pretty hilarious results. Her attempts to correct me had led to our usual verbal sparring… and let's say… some *witty repartee* jibbed in for good measure. And it didn't take long before our 'moment of madness' had us rolling around in laughter when the ludicrous nature of the situation dawned upon us.

The scene that greeted Minister Parker even had him taken aback when he came to find out the cause of the slight ruckus we were causing. Thankfully, between our chuckles and chortles, we managed to reassure him that no, the Devil hadn't paid a visit.

From then forth, our daily practice sessions became something I looked forward to after school, though errant pockets of silence and pondering still shadowed her mostly upbeat moods. I sometimes wonder if I should ask her what’s wrong. To let her know that she can talk to me if she wants to. Maybe-

“Like we used to, Max? … It’s just… been a really long time since… Well, I thought you’d forgotten our friendship… when you started hanging with the jocks.”

And her stinging words ring bitingly to smother any such thoughts. So I just leave it be. Sometimes, we'd take a break from running lines, just to chat idly in the backyard. Mostly, we'd stay within the Parker compound.

Liz claimed she wanted to keep her father company while he prepared his sermons, but I get the feeling that she knows I'm not yet prepared to be seen in public with her. Not that I'm ashamed of her, just…

I guess we’re both giving each other time to adjust to each other: her, to confide in me; and me, to build up the confidence to be more open to the idea of being in her company.

But what I don’t have to learn to adjust to, however, is teasing her.

It’s all too easy for me to get a rise out of her. And for the moment, Liz is in no way ‘keeping a watchful eye over the household’.

Not when I'm holding the trump card in my hands.

Literally.

Still keeping a tight hold on my valued possession, I've already raced up to the landing on the second floor while I see that Liz is keeping a slower - but nonetheless steady - pace to try to catch up with me.

‘Try’ being the operative word here.

Holding back a grin and waiting gamely for her to reach the same level, she regards me suspiciously with narrowed eyelids… and somewhat nervously as she sees that I've moved to the door to the left of the landing… the door leading to her room.

And how do I know this? Well, I did mention that I used to come over with Iz to have sleepovers when we were all little tykes right?

Granted that seems like forever and so long ago, but things like that, you don't forget.

And from the apprehensive look in Liz's eyes, it seems she realizes I haven't forgotten either.

"Max…" The warning tone is all too apparent. But one I choose to ignore for the moment.

"Yes Liz?"

"Where do you think you're going?"

"Why, where do you think I'm going?" I ask, my eyes widening a little teasingly in mock innocence.

"Don't you dare-"

"Don't I dare do what?" I say even as I back away from her slowly, advancing closer to the door.

"Max…" she drawls on my name even as she shoots me a threatening glare, attempting to steer me from my intended target.

The angelic peal of that single word from her lips… And my mind starts to drift.

But only for a moment.

It takes a split second, but I’m back in control.

And I grin broadly at her… and bolt.

A yelp and a flurry of activity ensues as she tries to cut me off again, only to be rewarded with the door slamming shut on her as I make a mad dash into the room. I hear her hammer on the wooden door as I chuckle, leaning my back against it.

“Play nice now, Liz,” I shout through the wooden barrier.

“Max! Come on! This isn’t funny any more! Give it back! And open the door! I don’t want you in my room!” She practically wails as I refuse to budge from my position behind the now locked door.

“Come on Liz. Don’t be a spoilsport! Not like I’ve never been in here before,” I state matter-of-factly, trying to stifle my laughs at the images I have in my mind of Liz standing outside, fuming at the current position she finds herself in.

“Just… come on out, so that we can continue with practice. And I need my script to-”

“For what?” I ask amusedly through the door. “You know all your lines by heart. Then again, you know practically EVERYONE’s lines anyway.”

I swear to you, the girl DOES know all the lines of the play.

“Max, just… don’t be… mean,” she says exasperatedly, her voice sounding muffled through the barricade between us.

“Not until you take back what you said when we were practising just now.”

“What? What did I say?” The trace of innocence in her voice is almost believable if I didn’t know better.

“You know, about me being a hopeless case with words and prose. And about how if I concentrated on the play as well as I concentrated on the school’s female population-”

“Come on Max. You know I can’t do that.”

“And pray tell why that’s so.”

“You know I can’t lie.”

Narrowing my eyes and my jaw dropping at her muffled laughter filtering through, I throw her a dampener, “And you know I can’t be a good boy and open up after that remark.”

I hear her release a frustrated growl before the pounding recommences a second later.

“Call ‘Uncle’, Liz. You know that’s all you have to do,” I say, the grin firmly re-planted on my face.

I almost believe I heard her snort at that.

Now that’s a first.

“Yeah, I’m sure THAT’s all,” the sarcasm drips acidly from her voice.

The door continues to rattle as her hammering continues and I take a step away from it.

Still shaking slightly from the laughter that rumbles through me, I move down the short passageway separating the door from the main bedroom, surveying the room that I’ve not laid eyes upon for the longest of times. Not since I was around ten when we had one of our last sleepovers.

I’d been the one who constantly had to put up with getting bullied, what with being the only guy with two gals; one always managed to terrorize me until she got her way, and the other always had a blinding smile that was a sure fire way of getting me to bend to her every wish.

Who’s who?

Hmmm. Nope. No way I’m telling you the answer to that one. You go figure that out yourself.

Including the passageway, her room’s shaped like an ‘L’, with the foot of her bed facing towards the door, and at which I am currently standing. To my right on the far most corner of the room where the two walls meet, the windows on either side meet at an adjacent angle under a cushioned window perch similarly L-shaped like her room. As the windows stretch to almost half the length of the room, they brighten up the space with the glow of the evening sun, passing through the day curtains to cast a golden sheen in the interior of her blue and lilac patterned walls.

Between her bed and the window on the same side is a short stretch of wall where her dressing table is with an oval-cut mirror above it. Seeing how she’s so different from Izzy and most girls I know, it’s actually shocking yet oddly normal to see that compared to other girls, the tabletop is adorned with… typical female stuff. Maybe less than the norm but there’s the odd powder, accessories and knick knacks – significantly fewer and less flashy, I do have to admit – and numerous pictures that I believe must be the rites of passage for every teenage girl.

Still standing at the foot of her bed, I turn my attention from her neatly cluttered dressing table… and cannot help the curl of my mouth in an upward direction as I see the teddy bears conquering the slope of her pillows.

Just like all those years ago… just like back then…

Drawing my eyes away from the amusing sight of her stuffed toys that clamor for space on the bedspread, I cannot help but breath in deeply, allowing my eyes to flicker shut as a familiar feel washes over me.

I can feel it. It’s how it felt then… and still does now. And there’s only one word I can think to describe it.

Serene.

Peaceful.

Comforting.

Okay, so that’s more than one word, but you get the idea.

Leaving the ‘looted’ script on the soft comforter on top of her bed, I step closer to her dresser. And in case you were wondering: yes; that is the culprit of Liz and my latest fracas.

Hey. It’s not my fault she kept dozing off for moments while we were running lines. I’d suggested we stop practice for the day, but she’d insisted she was fine to continue.

You should have seen her expression when she saw me holding onto her script. From the stricken look on her face, you’d think I’d stolen her diary or something.

Anyway, she’d haughtily demanded that I return her the pages, and couldn’t you just guess that I’d rise to the occasion to rile her further…

So here we are. I know she’s trying to smoke me out like a predator seeking its prey. But guess what? I know about the chinks in her defence too. Like the-

Hello. What’s this?

Reaching to pick out one of the many photos adorning the edges of the mirror, it occurs to me a little belatedly that although there are many photos in view, they are mostly of Liz and Old Hegbert, or of Liz with people who I guess to be the ones she’s worked with in her charity work. But not all… and certainly not the one I’m holding on to.

But there is a common trait in all these photos. Something ethereal that is not readily noticeable by those of us who see her around school everyday. I mean, Liz is always courteous and civil to those around her. She’s never rude, and always polite and respectful to her peers and elders.

But the thing is that… she’s always so in control and calm.

And in each and every photo here, she shows another side that I have only recently come to see.

A more carefree, more relaxed and cheerful Liz that has happiness mirrored in the numerous snapshots captured in the moments of her life that is rarely seen by her fellow peers. Many of them in her charity work, and with her father.

But only this one matters to me right now.

The one in my hands.

The one with her and Izzy.

And me.

And I can’t help the awe that overcomes me at the sight of three then-little, innocent cherubs staring up at me… a sight that transports me instantly to the memory of so long ago.

**

Flashback

The daylight begins to fade between the canopy of the thick forest, to be replaced by the faint light of stars just beginning to dot the lavender and blue hued sky. A doe lazily nudging the leaves of a young sapling nearby lends to the peaceful atmosphere of the evening landscape, even as a squirrel scurries along the bark of the tree beside it, looking for a hiding place to conceal the precious bounty in its possession.

The sudden perk of the doe’s ears as its attention is distracted from its chore is accompanied by the abrupt disappearance of the squirrel… just before the almost thunderous pounding of twin feet crashing through the underwoods shatters the serenity of the woods.

“Rwun!! Quick!! She’s wight behind us!”

“I’m twying! But I’m tired! I wanna stop!” I can almost hear the tears in her hushed voice.

Tears that are threatening to break forth from continuously running and hiding for the last half hour.

Tears that she still tries to fight back as she keeps a tight grip on my hand with both of hers.

Tears she brushes at sporadically as she trudges along just behind me. All while she keeps up with my pace to put as much distance between our pursuer and us.

Quickly turning my head to catch her eye as I continue forward, I try to comfort her. “Just a lee-ttle more okay? I won’t let the big bad meanie get you. I pwomise.”

It’s just then that her foot catches on the underbrush in the woods and she stumbles slightly. I barely catch her arm in time and prevent her from falling completely as she loses her balance. Momentarily letting up on my pace but still not stopping to give her the much-needed rest I know she greatly desires, I help her regain her balance, and after a quick once-over that nothing’s broken, I throw her a little smile and attempt to raise her spirits.

The sight that greets my eyes makes me want to laugh, but I know that she’ll get angry. A face sweaty and dirt-smudged from running through the woods has replaced her eight-year-old fresh-faced appearance from the morning. Bits and sprigs of fern are caught in her hair, one of them sticking out at a decidedly awkward angle, making her look like a wood-sprite out for a day of fun. But her look is anything but, judging by the drying tear tracks running down her face, cutting zigzag lines through the dirt.

I gently rub a smidgen of dirt off her left cheek before giving her a little smile to give her the confidence I know she needs to carry on. “Come’n Lizzie,” I say, giving her hand a little tug to get on our way.

I am met with resistance. “Max, I don’t wanna go further. It’s vewy dark. What if Daddy can’t find us?” The worry is clearly reflected in her eyes. We’d followed Minister Parker on a short photo-taking expedition. But we had gotten bored tagging along and wandered off to explore the wooded grounds.

“You twust me?” I ask her.

“Yes.” Her response is immediate and unwavering.

“You know I nevwer let anythin’ hurt you, wright?” I ask, confident of her response.

A beat of silence, then I am rewarded with the brilliance of her smile as her hesitance vanishes in a flash and her grip on my hand tightens.

And so it was that two determined little tots were so intent on finding their way back to the campsite before night fell completely that they never saw what was coming until it was too late.

“Max, no!” Her wailing cry comes too late.

I feel my breath knocked out of me as a figure barrels into me from my left. I would have made contact with the soft ground of the forest, but for the obtruding tree roots on the forest floor.

The impact of the larger body sends me into a tumble, only coming to a complete rest with me winded, and a slight gash along my right jean-clad leg.

“Found ya!” comes the gleeful declaration as my older, nine-year old sister bounds up and down happily in front of me. As Liz hurries over to my side, a woozy sensation overtakes me and I vaguely make out someone moaning. Liz cradles my head in her lap, practically screaming for Izzy to run back to the camp to get my parents. As the moans grow in volume, it only haunts me a little to realize that I am the one emitting the awful noises.

Izzy has quietened considerably, her initial happiness at having found us quickly dissipating when she sees the hurt I am in. In my disorientation, her ashened face appears before me briefly and I seem to recall some snatched words of apology and consolation before she scampers off back to camp to find my parents.

Ah… how nice it feels to be rocked to sleep.

It occurs to me for a split second that maybe this had all been a bad idea.

Maybe I should never have convinced Liz to help me shake Iz off our tail after we’d left the Minister.

Maybe I should never have convinced my parents that it was a good idea for Liz and her dad to join us in the woods on our annual family camping trip in the first place.

Maybe I’d been meant to die young.

Maybe-

“Max,” I make out the voice of an angel calling my name, her fingers feathering through my hair, brushing my bangs out of my eyes. Opening my eyes, I see a shadowy figure hovering over me, her hair framing her face in a saintly appearance, the late evening sky lending an even more surreal quality to her. If this was the way I was supposed to go-

I feel my eyes flutter shut.

“Max!!!” Her voice takes on a louder timbre, causing my eyes to jolt apart at the fear I hear in her voice.

“Maxie. You awake!” Liz hugs me to her tightly as she begins to laugh, the tinkle of her joyfulness, tinged with tears, seeps into my awareness. Slowly, I feel the wooziness begin to recede and am able to painfully pull myself into a seating position beside her.

As Liz tries to rearrange my limbs in a more comfortable position, I hear the voices of Mum and Dad just coming through the break in the bushes up ahead.

The sight of Mum bearing a tear-stricken Isabel in her arms is enough to send a fresh wave of tears bursting forth.

“Izzy… she… Mummy, Izzy pushed me!” I wail aloud as Dad settles in front of Liz and me to check my wounded leg. Liz remains steadily by my side, a beacon of calm among the fracas as I continue to fuss and Izzy protesting haltingly through her tears that she hadn’t meant to hurt me.

“Maxwell, now settle down and let me see to your wound,” Dad commands, using a tone I dare not defy.

Sniffling slightly, I cling tightly to Liz’s hand as she soothingly kisses my cheek in an attempt to calm a haltingly crying eight-year-old boy. Approaching nervously to occupy the space beside her, Iz meekly tries to apologize for causing me to fall, but she is cut off by the abrupt separation of the shrubs beside her.

I only remember a flash of brilliance going off as I hear her sudden shriek turn into hiccupping laughter.

My vision clearing by this time, I look up to see a crimson blush quickly replacing the bemusedly confused expression on Minister Parker’s face. Too late, he realizes how his sudden appearance through the bushes had shocked my sister badly.

“Erm… everybody alright?” he asks, embarrassment coloring his words.

End flashback


**

I cannot believe I’d forgot about the existence of the photo. Old Hegbert had managed to depict one of the most important moments in our young lives back then, and here it is: a moment frozen in time forever.

Brushing my thumb lightly over the surface of the yellowed picture, I smile wistfully at the face of the raven-haired little boy with tears pooled in his eyes. By his side, a chocolate haired little girl gives him a gentle peck on his cheek even as a golden-haired nine-year-old girl laughs tearily into the camera.

With a twinge of sadness, I cannot help but feel that the little raven-haired boy is someone I still resemble, but no longer understand. Staring at the photo a few moments longer, I wonder why Liz has the photo on her dresser mirror. Even stranger: why hadn’t she mentioned this to Isabel or me? We hadn’t been estranged then and she had no reason to hide any of this from us.

My mind drifting back to the memories revisited at the sight of that long forgotten photo, I smile contemplatively as I return the weathered picture to its original location and turn to take a closer look around her room.

I wonder…… Woah!

My breath hitches. My throat constricts. And my jaw drops as a most amazing sight meets my eyes.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 1-Sep-2002 5:14:27 AM ]
posted on 3-Aug-2002 9:36:03 PM by Dark Ilk
okies... so I see curiosity abound about what it is that Max saw... guess it's time for another poll then? *big**big**big**big* So...

~*~*~*~*~*~

CHALLENGE POLL
What is it that Max saw that has him so surprised?

~*~*~*~*~*~

Hint: It's something that been hinted at during drama class... *wink* let's see how far you guys can stretch that... though you guys have to bear with me. Hope to do some writing over the National Day holidays, but have to KIV and see the marking I've got to do then.
posted on 7-Aug-2002 1:11:05 PM by Dark Ilk
Hey everyone... thx for the fb so far.

Things have heated up recently as my supervisor is springing some crap that we have to deal with, so kinda have to suck itup and deal.

Will try to get to writing the next part asap.

The idea's already laid out, just need to put it into words.

For now, here's a little something to share with you fantastic people. Credit to dear talena for giving me such honour.

1-1-4
Banner credits to talena


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 9-Aug-2002 11:01:25 PM ]
posted on 7-Aug-2002 1:15:26 PM by Dark Ilk
Sorry for the double-post

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 9-Aug-2002 10:59:14 PM ]
posted on 10-Aug-2002 1:22:27 AM by Dark Ilk
Hey everyone... just had to share this darling fic pic that talena has created for me. So sweet!!! **silly alien runs aroudn her room shrieking her head off that she finally managed to get the post to show correctly**

1-1-4
Credit to talena

Am alsready working on the next part, but it's also a little long, so do behr with me?

So an update on the CHALLENGE POLL: What did Max see? too.

So far...

1. (2) Liz's dress for the performance - Abby, Nickey
2. (1) A music box - Nickey
3. (1) Something related to what Liz was sketching in drama class - lm_roswell

posted on 21-Aug-2002 10:36:59 PM by Dark Ilk
Man... it's been too long since I got into the forum. Sigh... can I say a deep and heartfelt thanks to dear Abby?

Thanks so nuch dearie for the daily (!!) bumps. Sorry I have been able to update cos these last two weeks are my final weeks of practicum and things have been moving at a frantic pace, what with the students having their common tests and all.

The good news is that next week is my last week teaching and then I have a one-week break. And then it's backt to AWTR again! *bounce**bounce**bounce*

So I sincerely ask for everyone's kind pardon with the delay... but I can promise it should be a pretty long next part. Several outstanding issues will be dealt with... yes, yes, yes... esp. what it is that Max saw.

Thanks to everyone again for their continued interest and support!! *big**big**big**big*

1-1-4
Banner credits to talena


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 21-Aug-2002 10:38:19 PM ]
posted on 1-Sep-2002 5:12:34 AM by Dark Ilk
:eeks :eeks :eeks :eeks :eeks!! Abby!!! I can see the pressure cooking the flesh off me already!!! Alien autopsy? :lol :lol

Anyway, just tied up some final school matters for my attachment school and glad to announce that I have officially started on the next part of the fic!!! Keeping my (alien) fingers crossed that I should be able to get it up within the week. It's quite a long part, so I'm thinking of renaming Part 16a as 'Part 16', and the next one as 17. Trying to see if I can work it such that I can break it into 17a and 17b so that you guys don't have to wait for too long.

Okies... gonna get back to writing. And thanks for the impetus to get kick-started again Abby!! Literally... :lol :lol :lol
posted on 1-Sep-2002 5:28:38 AM by Dark Ilk
:lol... try indeed... see my new icon?? hehehe... I just needed a little change in *appearance*... so u like? ;)

okies... seriously going off now to write some more... adios babe!!! *big**big**big**big**big*
posted on 5-Sep-2002 11:29:32 PM by Dark Ilk
Hey everyone. Just dropping a note to let you know that there'll be a slight delay in getting next part out. Have been working on it these past few days, but have come down with a nasty bug that not doing me any good in sitting down and writing for periods at a time.

Sorry about that. But rest assured it's in progress and I'll get it out asap.

For all the bumps, thanks again.

**silliy alien rubs at her watery eyes, sniffles and sneezes into her tissue again. ACHOO!! Excuse me **
posted on 7-Sep-2002 10:00:56 AM by Dark Ilk
Okies... so I figured even though I still cannot finish the next part... maybe I could at least provide a little sneak peek into some of what I've written so far.

It doesn't actually start here, but figured it would make more sense if I posted from here. And it'll clear up the question of what it was that Max saw.

Again, sorry for the delay in getting out the next part.

~*~*~*~*~*~

SNEAK PEEK INTO PART 17

My mind drifting back to the memories revisited at the sight of that long forgotten photo, I smile contemplatively as I return the weathered picture to its original location and turn to take a closer look around her room.

I wonder…… Woah!

My breath hitches. My throat constricts. And my jaw drops as a most amazing sight meets my eyes.

My mouth hangs agape for long moments as I stare at… it for what seems like ages.

I cannot believe that this is what I am seeing.

Colors are no longer muted by the darkness, but highlighted in all their magnificence in the clarity of daylight. From the amber hues just beginning to spread across the morning sky, to the rich sparkle in the green-blue shallow waters. From the multitudes of shades in the evergreen canopy, to the shifting gray shadows behind stone and gravel. Even the shoreline details have been meticulously captured, conveying a sense of utter tranquility.

It’s as if I was transported to that fateful evening like it was just yesterday. Only… it isn’t. For this almost-completed sketch-cum-painting of the quarry lake is nothing like the one I’ve ever visited… night or day. Even in its unfinished state, the serenity of the view just takes my breath away.

I hadn’t pondered much over it when I first saw her doodling in drama class, but on hindsight, I suppose I should have expected no less of the little girl who drew such fantastically imaginative pictures in Ms. Davies’ fourth-grade art class.

Only this is no world that was created in her imagination. This is someplace real… someplace I love… someplace I treasure enough to share with her…

And leave it to her to transform a beautiful memory into one that is unbelievably exquisite, one that is currently beyond my capacity to describe, to find the right words to do it justice. For she has not only dispelled any notions of flawed imagery, but shown what true perfection can be.

Coming to stand directly in front of the easel stand upon which the lightly fluttering paper is resting, I tentatively reach out to lightly trace a finger over the brush strokes, then hesitate as the thought of accidentally marring the quiet splendor before me.

Somehow, Liz has managed to capture the very essence of what I’ve always loved about the place, making it somehow achingly familiar, yet hauntingly exotic. The blend of colors brightens the landscape that I had previously shown her, blending into one another to create a myriad effect. Smiling wistfully as my hands long to trail along the path of my eyes, I watch the greens chasing after the blues, following the golds of the brightening horizon. My brows furrowing a little as I note the gradually darkening edges of the painting, I lean in closer when a slight rustling from outside the window causes a distraction from the masterpiece I am admiring.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~

Okies... so fb please? This is about half a page of writing. I've done up around 4 1/2 pages.
posted on 7-Sep-2002 10:08:45 AM by Dark Ilk
:lol Wow Angelic!! That was fast!! hehehe... u must have been on when I just posted huh? Glad you like it so far.

Here's hoping I can get the rest of it in order asap so that I can post it in full.

Thanks for your support dearie!! *happy* *happy*
posted on 8-Sep-2002 10:31:39 AM by Dark Ilk
Alrighty then!!! I finally finished with the editing and the re-reads and all!!!! Yeah!!

Again, wanted to thank everyone for all your patience and support!!! *big**big*

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

And now presenting...

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 17

“Everyone in line now! Curtain call!”

The cry echoes around the darkened area just behind the stage where we are hugging and almost crying.

“Bravo! Bravo!”

“Encore!”

Just beyond the curtain, in the audience below us, we can hear the loud applause flooding the small theatre where we have just premiered our performance of The Christmas Angel.

If the thunderous applause is anything to go by, I’d say we would be deserving of mountains of accolades for the tears and laughter the audience shed along with us. To say that the first-night show had been a success was a mild understatement at best.

They absolutely loved us!!

And Liz… She just never ceases to amaze me.

What a sight she made when she came onstage. You’d have thought an angel had truly descended from Heaven up above.

Now longer was she the dowdy bun-haired, bespectacled girl that the students loved to heckle. In fact, I dare even state that those nay sayers in the audience had to swallow any unkind words they’d ever said about her the moment she appeared on stage.

No wonder we hadn’t been allowed to see her in full costume during the rehearsals. Ms. Garber must have realized the impact she would have made on Tom… er, the audience.

In character for the role of Tom Thornton, I had been facing away from stage left where she had entered the play for the first time. Anxiously, I was searching for the music box my daughter desperately wanted for her Christmas present, looking in the windows of the cardboard-constructed toy store to fulfill the wishes of my own little darling angel. So wrapped up I was in my quest that I had not noticed the mysterious figure approaching from behind.

And so my first sign should have been the deadening of the slight murmurs, the deafening silence that suddenly befell the crowd as she made her way onto the stage. Or the frenzied admonishments of the audience when one of their numbers dared to sneeze and interrupt the ethereal setting playing out before their eyes.

And so there she had been; the revelation that stood before me as I turned around.

Long hair set loose. Curled in long waves down her back. Contact lenses in place of her usual spectacles. Glitter abound her otherworldly figure, like the long-forgotten angel I had thought hovered over me ages ago in the forest. The translucent blue-green wispy gown that hung on her figure, swishing softly against her as soft footfalls took her ever closer to my rooted, spellbound form.

Barring the momentary lapse of memory as I beheld her, that I had even been able to carry on without missing my lines had been a minor miracle in and of itself. So enraptured I was with every word she uttered, every move she made. By the time the curtain fell for the last act, there were no words to describe how I felt.

And even now as I stand beside her with her fingers engulfed in my palm, awaiting the curtain to lift again that we might once again absorb the audience’s rapturous adoration, I know that she has astounded me yet again.

She is an absolute vision to behold, a wonder to the senses. And not just how she looks, but EVERYTHING about her.

The animation and laughter lighting up her eyes.

The transformation of spirit, like a newly formed butterfly unfurling its wings for the first time.

The blossoming of a flower in all its glory after the harsh of winter.

She never fails to surprise me. But then again… can I really be amazed with each day that passes when she reveals a new aspect to herself?

And to think I never knew…

Flashback

My mind drifting back to the memories revisited at the sight of that long forgotten photo, I smile contemplatively as I return the weathered picture to its original location and turn to take a closer look around her room.

I wonder…… Woah!

My breath hitches. My throat constricts. And my jaw drops as a most amazing sight meets my eyes.

My mouth hangs agape for long moments as I stare at… it for what seems like ages.

I cannot believe that this is what I am seeing.

Colors are no longer muted by the darkness, but highlighted in all their magnificence in the clarity of daylight. From the amber hues just beginning to spread across the morning sky, to the rich sparkle in the green-blue shallow waters. From the multitudes of shades in the evergreen canopy, to the shifting gray shadows behind stone and gravel. Even the shoreline details have been meticulously captured, conveying a sense of utter tranquility.

It’s as if I was transported to that fateful evening like it was just yesterday. Only… it isn’t. For this almost-completed sketch-cum-painting of the quarry lake is nothing like the one I’ve ever visited… night or day. Even in its unfinished state, the serenity of the view just takes my breath away.

I hadn’t pondered much over it when I first saw her doodling in drama class, but on hindsight, I suppose I should have expected no less of the little girl who drew such fantastically imaginative pictures in Ms. Davies’ fourth-grade art class.

Only this is no world that was created in her imagination. This is someplace real… someplace I love… someplace I treasure enough to share with her…

And leave it to her to transform a beautiful memory into one that is unbelievably exquisite, one that is currently beyond my capacity to describe, to find the right words to do it justice. For she has not only dispelled any notions of flawed imagery, but shown what true perfection can be.

Coming to stand directly in front of the easel frame upon which the lightly fluttering paper is resting, I tentatively reach out to lightly trace a finger over the brush strokes, then hesitate at the thought of accidentally marring the quiet splendor before me.

Somehow, Liz has managed to capture the very essence of what I’ve always loved about the place, making it somehow achingly familiar, yet hauntingly exotic. The colors brighten the landscape that I had previously shown her, blending into one another to create a myriad effect. Smiling wistfully as my hands long to trail along the path of my eyes, I watch the greens chasing after the blues, following the golds of the brightening horizon. My brows furrowing a little as I note the gradually darkening edges of the painting, I lean in closer when a slight rustling from outside the window causes a distraction from the masterpiece I am admiring.

My head snapping to the French windows that are slightly ajar, my eyes narrow as the sound persists. Making my way over to the window perch, I am about to lean out to investigate when the appearance of a hand reaching upwards to grab onto the wooded frame causes me to fall backwards… and into a very undignified position of having my butt on the floor.

“Ah-oomph!” my yelp gets cut short as my posterior is introduced to the hard wood floor of Liz’s bedroom.

Yes, on top of losing my dignity upon falling, ladies and gentlemen, I have also lost my ability to behave in a MANLY fashion when said pride is foregone.

As I lean onto my side to rub tenderly at my bruised flesh, I look up to see a bemused and slightly befuddled-looking Liz staring back at me from just inside the windowsill she is currently straddling, one foot on the window perch for balance.

“What ARE you doing on the floor Max?” The confusion rings clear even as she moves wholly into the room, “And what WAS that awful screech?” she adds, scrunching her face in a grimace. And yes, I am not mistaken, she is trying to fight back laughter.

I am so glad I can be a source of amusement for her… not.

Deciding that my self-respect as well as my body could use a little reprieve from the battering it just took, I slowly lean back and rest my weight on both elbows. Releasing a deep breath as I let the remaining singes of pain ride out, I watch as she brushes leaves and twigs off herself.

Cocking an eyebrow in her direction, I try to shift the focus away from me. “Talk about ME on the floor? Talk about YOU,” I state with decidedly strong emphasis on the last word.

“What about?” she asks with a touch of arrogance as she crosses her arms in front of her and looks down at me from her elevated position.

Deciding that it was a poor position from which to make a confident argument – heck, ANY argument – I move gingerly to stand up. A little more composed, I assume a similar stance and look her straight in the eye.

“What did you think you were doing?” I manage to mask the knot that has formed in my throat as I realize that she is still slightly breathless.

“What?” comes the childlike reply.

“Don’t try to be funny Liz. You know what I’m talking about,” I try to invoke as much command into my voice.

“Max, don’t beat around the bush. Just say what you have on your mind,” she says as she spins away from direct eye contact.

This is ironic, coming from the girl who probably DID just climb a bush or tree to get to where she is now.

“How did you manage to climb up here?” My voice is a little harsh, and I barely refrain from blathering on like a mother hen to find out how she just managed to scale the wall of a two-storey building.

A brief pause in movement as she faces away from me. “I would have thought that was obvious enough, even for you Peanut Boy,” she manages with an exaggerated roll of her eyes as she plants herself on the bed cover.

I do not miss the slight hitch as she inhales deeply to catch an obviously much-needed breath.

“Yeah, and it’s not one I’m sure your father would appreciate hearing from me.”

“Now, Max. Let’s not be too hasty in your choice of words. I’d hardly think you would want my Dad to know what happened.”

“What ha-” I begin incredulously as I see the smug look on her face. Knowing that Minister Parker’s impression of me can only go downhill from this incident, I have a sinking feeling I’m about to be emotionally blackmailed. Snapping my gaping mouth shut, I narrow my eyes murderously at her as I wonder what game she’s trying to play here. “I was just worried about you Liz,” I manage to grind out through gritted teeth.

Jack-knifing from her horizontal position on the bed, her voice is filled with mock surprise as she addresses me.

“REA-lly?” As a hand flutters to her chest like a damsel just rescued from a dragon’s grasp, she carries on in a melodramatic fashion. “My, my, my. My knight in shining armour. And to think I might not have had to do what I had to, had not some scoundrel been more gentlemanly like you, kind sir.”

With a click of my tongue, I slide into character and follow her lead. “Well, milady. Methinks said scoundrel may not have done the deed had his hand not been forced by a certain mischievous waif. Afterall, young ‘uns these days have been taught to respect one another. A lesson, I am afraid, the young lass had yet to learn.”

“Is THAT so?” she queries, gently arching an eyebrow as she watches me, the barest of giggles just about to break forth.

“It is indeed so, milady. I am afraid…” A forcedly miserable-sounding groan interjected here by yours truly as I take to pacing the room, “ … not only has this young one sought to cause mischief for her fellow peers, but it would seem… that she is also hiding something of import.” The final statement is delivered as I come to a rest in front of her now upright, seated form on the bed.

Seeing a brief flash of worry cross her features, I cannot help but make her squirm a little more.

Fighting back the urge to laugh at the dawning look of horror on her face, I say speculatively, “You know of which I refer?”

“And that might be?” she asks evasively.

“You know. Something that you’ve been hiding for a pretty long time,” Maintaining a masked expression, I’ve leaned in closer to her, resting either hands on her sides so that our faces are mere inches apart. “Something you’ve been hiding from me… from Izzy… and pretty much everyone else around here.”

“Yeah?” she states, unwilling to bend albeit the growing apprehension I see in her eyes.

“Yes.”

“So what’s the big deal?” she asks matter-of-factly, turning away and refusing to look me in the eye.

“What’s the big deal? Liz, do you KNOW just what a big DEAL this is?” I drop any pretenses and sit on her bed as she not only looks away, but moves to her dresser to physically put some distance between us.

Shrugging her shoulders carelessly, she does not argue her point, just to fidget with the knick-knacks on the table.

“Were you afraid… that I’d laugh?” I ask a little tentatively when she does not seem keen to pursue the matter, or even conversation with me, for that matter.

“What?” She whirls around to face me. As a shadow falls over her chocolate depths, a niggling doubt begins to form in my head. “Is that how you reacted if… when you knew?” Her tone has taken on a dangerously panicked level, even as she advances upon me in a defensive stance.

My eyes widening, I seek to alleviate her alarm. “What?! No way. I mean, of course not! I was just wondering… cos you were sullen and all.” After a moment’s reprieve, I ask with no small amount of trepidation, “Why would you think that I’d react that way to seeing your sketches?”

I watch as her face goes even more ashen, and my own panic levels begin to rise as I wonder if I’d pushed the joke a little too far. Slowly rising off the bed, I keep my eyes trained on her even as I approach.

Only, my footsteps come to an abrupt halt as she releases a sudden burst of laughter. As she tumbles in mirth on her bedspread, she releases her pent-up hilarity for what seems like infinitely long moments.

Finally catching her breath, she looks up to see me still towering over the bed, a confusedly lost expression evident on my face.

“Got cha, didn’t I?” she declares, orbs alight with laughter as she wipes the tears from the corners of her eyes.

“You were just PRETENDING to be upset?” A slow grin making its way onto my face, I cannot stay angry despite the emotional roller coaster she sent me on. Notwithstanding the relief I feel that she wasn’t truly as upset as I thought she’d been, I still cannot shake the feeling that she’d truly been upset-

“Max, come on. As if I’d any other secrets to hide.”

Hhmm. Well…

A roll of her eyes as she sees the serious expression on my face, she moves over to where the sketch stands.

“Look. No one except my Dad knows that I sketch. Well, you do, but that doesn’t count.” At the quirk of my eyebrow, she sends a quick smile to soften the unintended blow of her words. “It’s no big deal really. Not like I still cause riots with my paintings right?” Her infectious smile is hard to fight… and she knows it.

Chuckling lightly as I move to stand beside her, I cannot keep the wonder out of my voice as I ask my next question.

“But why don’t you consider putting them on public display? They really do look wonderful, you know.” Sneaking a sideways glance at her before training my full attention on the sketch, I add softly, “Things that sing of… potential need to be continually nurtured and brought into the light to flourish.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see her turn to regard me for a moment before she refocuses on the sight before her too.

Her words are soft, but I can hear a tinge of sadness in them. “Well… not everything that starts out with potential can live up to expectations Max.”

End flashback


And even as we stand here behind the curtain, her haunting words still ring in my ears. Right now, I see no signs that she cannot live up to her potential. Whether as a stage actress or a painter, Liz Parker doesn’t seem like one who knows how to take ‘no’ for an answer even when the world tells her so.

The multiple sides of Liz’s personality have created an individual that I could not have, for the life of me, been able to guess from all those years ago. While her potential as an artist has undoubtedly blossomed, there is just a hint of melancholy that was missing in the then innocent eight-year-old I so fondly recall.

As the curtains rise once more to allow us to accept the adulations of the audience, I cannot help the swell of personal pride for helping the event come to pass. Looking at the happy faces surrounding me, I turn to congratulate Liz only to realize that she is no longer by my side.

Looking back and forth in a bid to catch sight of her, I see her wandering just offstage where I see a pride-filled Minister Parker waiting in the wings. Amid the roar of the crowd around me, I cannot pry my eyes away from the scene playing out before me.

No words are needed as I watch the pair regard each other. The Minister was obviously touched by Liz’s performance. Afterall, it’s practically the story of their lives.

Even with the distance separating us, I can see that the old man is practically on the verge of tears. Tenderly, he smoothes a tendril of hair away from her cheek as Liz regards him quietly with tears in her eyes, a shaky smile playing on her lips. As she opens her mouth to say something, he lifts a heavily-calloused hand to silence her words with a finger to her lips. I can see her lower lip quivering slightly as they ponder each other for a moment. And when they move in unison to hug each other, I cannot help but feel like an interloper intruding on a private moment. Still, I cannot bring myself to tear my eyes away from the heartfelt and unabashed demonstration of utter love these two are showing.

As I feel a slight tightening in my chest, I rub wearily at my eyes in an attempt to discreetly wipe at the tears that have crested in the corners of my eyes. Finally turning to face the still-cheering audience, I cannot help but feel happy; for me… and for Liz because she’s finally done it.

“It just really means a lot to me… you know… one of the things on my ‘to-do’ list: giving him a reason to be proud of me without… without embarrassment.”

Bowing once again to rapturous applause, I still recall the first time I heard those words…

Flashback

The sound of crunching gravel has given way on the smoother surface of the paved road. It’s been about twenty minutes since we left the quarry lake on the walk back to Liz’s home. The awkward silence that prevailed when we first left the lake had eased to a lighter atmosphere as we took to talking about how the evening had passed. From Sean’s little stunt and my escapade, the conversation has taken a turn to… other matters.

“So which item are you at now?”

“Hhmmm… I know we’ve gotten pally, Max. But somehow, I don’t think you need to know that.”

“What? You mean it’s on a need-to-know basis? Come on, Liz. Spill.”

“Nah-uh,” she says with a resolute shake of her head. “You know Mr. Evans? You’re quite a nosey parker for a guy. I thought it was only girls who would be such nags.”

“Hey. You’re one to talk. You’re the antithesis in that department. Just thought I’d help even out the score in that.” Seeing her refusal to budge on the issue, I inject a more cajoling tone into my words, “Come on, Liz. What’s the harm in telling me?”

The topic? Liz mentioned that she tends to live her life by a ‘to-do’ list. A list that she’s prioritized all the things she wants to achieve in her lifetime. So far, I’d suggested that she’d want to join the Peace Corps and save the world from pollution, probably help tutor less-capable students to become Albert Einsteins – or at least to follow in her mold if that wasn’t possible – and be an overall good little Samaritan.

Of course, not that she’ll admit to these.

Every suggestion that I’ve brought up has been met by a smile and wave of her hand as she dismisses them. However, as much as I tease her, I have to admit that I am awed by her perseverance. Yet, as admirable as I find it, I can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed by the seeming enormity of her ‘list’.

Does she seriously intend to follow through on everything on her list? She may not have revealed much to me, but I have the distinct feeling that it’s not a short one. And being Liz Parker, I’m sure she wouldn’t make plans she didn’t intend to see to fruition.

Seeing that she does not intend to reveal anything more about her list, I decide that a change of topic is in order. With the understanding we seem to have reached after our earlier pow-wow session, it no longer seems so daunting to talk to her. And it is with this newfound confidence that I dare to broach the next topic.

“Liz, can I ask you something?”

“Yeah?”

“Why the obsession over the play?”

I can’t help but feel like I’ve taken the wind out of her sail, seeing from the way her jaw has dropped in apparent astonishment.

“Is that how it seems to you?”

“Well, not so much from what you said. Just the way you seem,” then seeing her watch me thoughtfully, “… not that it’s a bad thing or anything. Just… I was curious.”

“I see.” She remarks in a non-committal tone.

Our steps carry on without conversation for a few seconds as she falls deep in thought. I’m not sure if she’s trying to figure how to reply, or deciding whether to just ignore me altogether. Deciding not to push my luck further, I just plod along quietly beside her.

“I’ve only my Dad to depend on, and he’s got only me. So I guess we’ve pretty much counted on each other my whole life,” she starts tentatively.

In view of our earlier conversation of her attendance at the dinner, I have a vague idea how this is related to my question, but figure that she’s building up to it so I do not interrupt. I nod lightly, throwing her an encouraging smile as I meet her eyes in indication that I’d heard her words.

“You know that my Dad wrote the play and even though he’s never pressured me to be actively involved in it, I know that it’s always been his dream to see me in the play that he penned as a part of our personal history. I’ve never had any really big plans for my life…” I receive a grin and light smack on my arm when I dare to raise questioning eyebrows at her acclamation, “… and it really means a lot to me… you know… one of the things on my ‘to-do’ list: giving him a reason to be proud of me without… without embarrassment.”

Ah. Finally. A breakthrough.

Wait. Without embarrassment?

A frown marring my forehead, I turn a quizzical expression in her direction. “What? What do you mean ‘proud of you without embarrassment’? Liz, your Dad is proud of you without a doubt!”

And I cannot believe I’m professing to know the Minister better than his daughter.

A sigh from her as she quietly absorbs my outburst. “I just want it to be… perfect, you know? You’ve said it yourself Max. How all the other kids think I’m such a nerd to do the things I do.”

I wince at the words she utters because I know it’s absolutely true. Even I’m guilty of having made a few snide remarks before.

She continues without sparing me a second glance. “I just want to do something for him to take pride in, that the rest can accept as normal. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for me… for him. It’s not like-” and she clamps her mouth to prevent from spewing further.

Looking at her with some degree of disbelief, I cannot believe that this girl would think that her father did not take pride in her.

“Look Liz,” I say, tugging gently on her elbow to turn and face me, “I’m sure that you’ve made Minister Parker very happy with all that you’ve done for the community, for those who needed help. And even more so, for all the things I’m sure you’ll do in the future.”

Seeing the conflicted emotions still stirring in her endless brown depths, I carry on. “Now if I were the Minister’s child, it’ll probably be a whole different kettle of fish altogether. Can you see it? He’d probably pack me off to military academy the day-”

And I hit pay dirt when I hear her sudden spontaneity-filled laughter.

Yes, even though I should feel insulted by the ease with which that image evokes laughter, I am glad to see the worry slide off her.

Joining in her merriment, I cannot refrain from reassuring her further, “It’ll be just fine Liz. Don’t worry. I’m sure the play will be perfect.”

“Really Max? You’re so sure?” she asks with a lingering doubt.

And it is in that moment that I wish I could take away the uncertainty I see shining in her eyes, make everything alright for her.

But can I?

Dare I?

End flashback


Still smiling with blissful thoughts of how well things have turned out for both of us, I make my way backstage to find Mum and Iz ready to offer their congratulations on a job well done. Surprisingly, even Dad had to grudgingly admit that he had not thought that I’d “pull it off” so well. Determined not to let anything spoil my good mood, I accepted his best wishes in good grace.

And a good thing too. For that was not the only surprise he had for me.

You have to understand, we’re not a very demonstrative family. Unlike what you think, the sight of Liz and her Dad hugging as a way of showing comfort and affection was not a common one you’d find in the Evans’ household. So to be suddenly gripped in a viselike bear hug from Dad was shocking to say the least.

As I stood frozen as a statue, I could feel my eyes involuntarily moisten again as I heard the words whispered in my ear.

“You’ve come a long way son.”

As he pulls away to hold me at arm’s length, I can only gape at the man I call my father like a goldfish out of water. It briefly flashed through my brain was that I must be in a dream. But reality encroached in the form of my darling sister as she beamed at me and insisted on details of how I’d prepared for my role.

Seeing my parents move aside to speak to the Minister, who had by now left Liz to her many well-wishers, I turn a somewhat dazed expression to my still highly excited older sibling.

“You guys were fantastic! I mean, you all were, but Max! You and Liz were just… wow!” And if I thought her mood could not brighten any further, she proved me wrong by planting a resounding kiss to my cheek as she hugged me tightly.

“Who would have thought,” she bestows another brilliant smile my way, “My baby bro brought the house down… and not in the disastrous way I’d expected.” The last is added with a laugh as I throw her a mockingly hurt look.

“Thanks Iz, I think.”

“Oh cheer up, Max. You know I was only kidding.” She digs a playful elbow into my rib.

Her enthusiasm is infectious and I cannot keep the grin from forming on my face too. “Yeah. I do. And really, thanks,” I say with heartfelt sincerity as I see that she too senses that some monumental balance has shifted tonight.

Hugging me tightly once more before letting go, I see that her expression has changed from gleeful cheer to one of some mischief.

“So I guess it didn’t matter much either way that Liz got the script back from you huh?”

“Come on,” I protest, “as if I would be so mean as to NOT return it to her.” She throws me a look that just about screams ‘You would’ and I throw her a playfully warning look. “Hey, no fair.”

“Okay, just teasing,” she says with another electrifying laugh. “God Max. You have SO got to learn to lighten up,” she states melodramatically, flailing her arms to emphasize her point.

As I throw her a disbelieving glare and laugh, she flounces off in Liz’s direction. As I watch the two girls talk animatedly, Iz’s words make me come to a realization.

One that fills me with sudden curiosity.

While I have inadvertently discovered several sides to Liz’s multi-faceted nature, I never did find out why she was so adamant that day that I return her the script.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~

fb please... *big**big**big**big*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 8-Sep-2002 11:14:31 AM ]
posted on 8-Sep-2002 1:15:23 PM by Dark Ilk
Hey mitra! That was a quick reply!! *big**big* thanks for the encouragement.

Nickey: hey gal, what can I say to you? hehehe... glad to see you enjoyed tt part. *big**big* Took me like forever to write it cos of teachings, writer's block and the anxiety of getting all the facts consistent. lol... the crime of letting a loose end drag so long. Okay, to answer some of your questions:

1. What the script actually says? *wink* sorry babe... unfortunately, that's something I hadn't intended to include in future writings... but I guess you and I both can guess at what it involves... or rather WHO huh? *wink**wink* hehe...

2. The significance of the quarry to Liz: glad you could pick up on that without me being obvious about it. I was kinda nervous that it wouldn't be clear, but your question sets my mind at rest then. *happy**happy*

3. Liz *infatuation* with Max: hehehe... seeing that my icon is the Devil's girl... would you REALLY expect me to tell you that right now? *big**big**big**big* *tongue* I know, I know. I'm the silly little evil alien here...

4. Why Liz thinks her father isn't proud of her? Hhhmmm... okay. This one's a tricky question since I don't wanna give too much away. Let's just say that Liz's words aren't always to be taken at face value. Afterall, she did pull a fast one on Max (and pretty convincingly I might add) about being upset in the first flashback. *wink**wink* Hoep that gives you an idea or two.

Okies... gotta go catch some zzz's oredi. It's about 1am my side and I've got to get up in about 4 hours' time for morning classes. Sigh...

Promise to get cracking some on the next part. In the meantime, thanks again for all the bumps and encouragement you guys... *big**big*
posted on 23-Oct-2002 1:41:02 AM by Dark Ilk
Hi! Sorry to have taken so long to even post an AN on the thread. Have been really busy with assignments and going for classes at the other end of the country with limited access to comp. So really, really sorry.

Have to apologize that there is no new part as yet. I'm still struggling over a final assignment for end of the week, before workshop sessions start... and have to very embarassingly admit that I've got writer's block on the next part as well. But I can confirm that I am definitely still continuing with the fic - as some who have board mailed me asking - so have a little patience with me?

But I'm sure you guys have more interesting fics other than mine to read right? I know Ashton's a fantastic fic writer too!!! Her fics just blow me away whenever I read them (which sadly, I haven't had much opp to do so)

Again, my sincerest apologies to all...

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 23-Oct-2002 2:19:11 AM ]
posted on 23-Oct-2002 9:12:33 PM by Dark Ilk
Thanks for the bumps babe!!! From the looks of it, seems like I may have revert to the 'traditional' of writing soon: hard copy during my travelling time. Sigh... if I can only get the friggin' writer's block over with...

Been doing okay. My work schedule's pretty okay, just that a lot of travelling time involved and now that my laptop's bust, that time's pretty much 'wasted' of the comp...

Trying now to fin off my final assign before anything else.

Again, thaks for the bumps!! *big**big**big* May the Dreamer in us all live on strong forever!!!
posted on 28-Oct-2002 12:18:50 PM by Dark Ilk
Finally!!! Thnk God I finally got past that frigging' writer's block out of the way... okay, this is not the complete part that I'd origianlly intended, but figured I'd break it into two... especially since I feel so bad about making all you guys wait so long for an update.

So a quick recap just in case anyone fell behind: The performance is over; Max and Liz's friendship have advanced to somewhat of closer friends, but no BGR yet... (patience now.. *big**big**big**big*) This next part's a little more like transition - at last part one of it. Am working on Part two of transition and this one will be longer.

For now, here's Part 18 (short one). For all of you patient people, thanks for your support!!!*happy**big**happy**big**happy**big*... It's not been easy getting over the block, but the ideas are beginning to trickle and flow again... so hopefully won't make you wait too long. Still having to resort to writing the old-fashioned way.. on paper before transferring to soft copy since no more laptop. Hope the wait was worthwhile.

And of course, all fb appreciated!!

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 18

“Hi Max.”

“Hi Liz.”

The greeting is a little forced, both of us standing in the school hallway, having just emerged from our other common class – AP Chemistry.

You would have thought that after the success of the play, Liz would have been more conscious of her newfound status. Imagine my surprise when she stepped into class in her usual garb of long-sleeved top and brown skirt. Her eyes – clearly shining with radiance during the performance when she’d opted to go without her glasses out of necessity – were once again hidden behind the rims of her ebony frames.

The silence that temporarily fell over the class upon her understated entrance was astonishing to say the least; I guess like me, everyone else had been expecting her Cinderella-like transformation to last beyond the magic hour. Even Mr. Seligman, our heavy-set Chemistry teacher, infamous for his physical – and 'acoustic' – presence was tongue-tied to see the reappearance of the little cinder girl rather than the resplendent angelic picture she had painted during the performance.

If she had been perturbed by the atmosphere, her face gave nothing away. Confident strides took her to her seat two chairs to my right. Her gaze was unwavering, meeting those who looked in her direction with a small, shy smile. I noted, however, that most ducked their heads as she passed them by, suddenly developing a strong interest in academia, burying their noses in their books, or turning to talk to a nearby neighbour. As our eyes met across the class though, her smile widened, laughter lighting up her eyes, and I could not help but return the look in kind.

As selfish as this may sound, it actually heartened me to see that whatever else reception the rest of the school may have bestowed upon her non-transformation, she seemed genuinely comfortable with me.

And what might that spell for me? I guess I’m about to find out now that class is over and we’ve exchanged our first words since the performance over the weekend.
Scratching nervously behind my ear, I watch as she reshuffles the books in her arms to get a better grip. Just as I am about to offer my assistance, the rumble of feet from behind Liz draws my attention.

Michael, Alex, Kyle and the other basketball jocks were moving down the stretch, shoving one another playfully. Nicholas Kranski, a seven-footer giant was jostling with James Landon at the back as they good-naturedly fought for possession for the ball. As I watched, James gained possession of the little rubber sphere, throwing it high towards Kyle who was at the front of the troop approaching us. With his back facing us as he attempted to catch the falling ball, he was bound into an imminent head-on collision with Liz.

What happened next seemed to pass in a blur as I tried to get Liz out of harm’s way… yet everything also seemed to simultaneously slow down as I pulled Liz to safety.

With no space to back away as the lockers were directly behind me, I could only try to provide a barricade between Liz and Kyle’s rapidly advancing form. The looks of shock and surprise passing over Liz’s face seemed to blank out all else. Nothing mattered at that moment: my books and file falling as I made a wild grab for Liz by her arms; her own pile clattering to the ground as she lost her hold, my fingers gripping almost painfully into her forearms; my body swerving precariously to provide a barrier between her and Kyle.

Then silence.

Then pandemonium broke loose.

By the time the noise gradually increased to a dull roar in my ears, it was with immense slowness that I peered half-heartedly through heavy eyelids to see two temperamentally divergent faces above my horizontally sprawled form.

Raising a fist to my forehead to press on my eyes, I try to push back the throbbing pain wracking through my head. Deciding against sitting up for the moment, I take a few deep breaths even as I tune out the light again.

“Max… Max, are you okay?” Peering through one half-open eye, I see Liz using her hands to fan my face in an attempt to provide some ventilation. Behind her, the scowling countenance of one best friend slowly swam into focus.

“What the hell were you thinking standing there, Evans?” Michael glowers darkly at me as he looms closer over me.

“Michael, I think you need to help me get him to the nurse’s station,” Liz moves to stand between us two in a stance reminiscent of the night of the dinner we attended together when she faced off with Sean. Her tone firmly established that whatever issue he had with me would take a backseat to my current condition.

When he made no move to extend a helping hand, it was up to Alex and Kyle – who had been trying to hold back the rest of the curious student body – to help me to my feet.

“Buddy, you okay?” Kyle pats me lightly on the shoulder.

“Max, my man. You still seeing Saturn, Jupiter and Mars?” Alex jokes even as he helps gather our fallen belongings. Liz remains by my side, supporting me with her slight build on my right even as I lean most of my weight against the lockers.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine,” I answer distractedly as I regard Michael with a curious gaze. I know that we haven’t been hanging out all that often in the weeks leading up to the play, what with rehearsals and all, but where this resentment-filled tone stems from has me stumped.

As the two of us remain in a willful battle to see who will avert our gaze first, it is Alex who breaks the stalemate when he physically deposits himself between us, handing me my belongings and brushing me down like a mother sending off her firstborn on the first day of school.

“Max, you have GOT to take better care dude,” Alex chuckles, “I can’t always be picking up after you, you know? I have to pass on that job to your significant other sometime soon,” he interjects cheekily, casting a sly glance in Liz’s direction. Thankfully, she seems more intent on Michael who is pointedly ignoring her… while casting baleful glances my way.

Rewarding his jibe with a sharp poke in the side, Alex releases a yelp and jumps slightly off to the side in time for me to see Michael’s attention re-routed; he throws Liz a sharp look her way before taking off solo in the direction of the gym.

Narrowing my eyes at his open display of hostility, my heart turns a little sour to see the light in Liz’s eyes dim a shade. I value my brotherhood ties with Michael, and if you’d asked me three weeks ago if there was anything I would prioritize over that, it would have been a resounding ‘NO’.

Now, however, I find myself in a quandary. Rediscovering Liz and my ties to her, I cannot easily disqualify what she means to me… what she could potentially mean to me.

Resolutely, I turn to Liz. I don’t want to leave her in this upset manner, but I am determined to nip the situation in the bud... one I suspect could fester quickly out of control. And I need to do that NOW.

“You okay Liz?” You didn’t get hurt or anything?” My hands linger near hers, silently berating myself for the angry, red lines I see already forming on her arms from my earlier attempts to shield her.

She smiles indulgingly at me. “Shouldn’t I be asking YOU that?”

Grinning sheepishly as I tug at my ear again, I help her gather her remaining items that are still on the ground. “I didn’t want to see you hurt, that’s all.”

Seeing her eyebrows rise in response, I hold my breath, expecting a retort of some sort as I realize a little belatedly the irony of the statement.

A pause. Then…

“Thank you,” comes her sincere reply.

A brilliant smile steals over my face. Almost blindingly. The biggest comfort of course, was to see her face take on a mirror image of mine.

But of course, reality made its presence felt as I registered the onlookers we had around us. Clearing my throat, I address Liz.

“Liz, listen. I’d really like to talk more, but I really need to go see Michael,” my tone is apologetic as I try to impress upon her the urgency behind my impending departure, yet not wanting her to think that I was being dismissive.

“Oh,” as I detect a faint note of disappointment, “it’s okay. I understand Max.”

Seeing me still lingering uncertainly, she puts her free hand on her hip in a mock commanding stance. “Go.” Her firm tone is belied by the smile on her face and the sparkle in her eyes.

Throwing her a final backward glance, I hurry towards the gym.

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 28-Oct-2002 12:24:45 PM ]
posted on 31-Oct-2002 6:25:01 AM by Dark Ilk
Hey everyone!! Thanks for the encouraging comments and glad that you haven't given up on this fic... or me for that matter!!! So my heartfelt thanks again.

The good news is that I'm abt one-third / halfway through the next section. hehehe... I see the questions about Michael's aggressive behavior and the Max-Liz interaction...

Let's just say that Michael and Max still have some recent leftover issues that are yet to be resolved... and here's a little spoiler: although the next chapter's a mainly Michael-Max scene, Liz does make an appearance... with some surprising results...

So hang in there. *wink**wink*

And love you all for your encouraging words and support.

okies... off to [hard copy] writing again...*big**big**big**big*
posted on 4-Nov-2002 11:22:28 AM by Dark Ilk
Okies.... so I worked thru the workend to get this up for you wonderfully patient people. For your patience with the little mini-saga...

hope you're all having as much fun as I am writing it.

Nuff said... here's we go with the next part.

FB please. And again, thanks to everyone for their support... *big**big**big**big**big*

~*~*~*~*~*~

Part 19

The rhythmic pounding of the basketball on the court grows louder as I draw closer to the gym. Just as I come to a standstill before the wooden door, the pounding ceases, only to be replaced by an explosively loud ‘whoosh’ a scant second later as the ball apparently makes extra hard contact with the deflecting surface.

Peering into the vast gymnasium with the four white walls lined with basketball championship banners the school’s won over the years, my heart feels a pang to see the singular, hunch-backed figure facing the hoop at the other end of the court. Even with his commanding figure, he seemed like a small boy lost in all that open space.

Seeing him like this, all alone, shoulders hanging dejectedly: this is not the Michael Guerin I have known for six years. The offensive rubber ball has slowed to a gentler bounce, then a dribble, rolling gradually towards me.

Picking it up, I pass the ball half-heartedly from one hand to the other as I approach his stationary form. Bouncing the ball off the court a few times as I come closer, I see his shoulders stiffen almost imperceptibly as his head rises a little from its initial drooping position. A little uncertain how to break the ice, I stop a few feet away. The thumping of the ball also ceases as I tuck it under one arm.

The silence hangs in the air. One of the overhead fluorescent lights flickers as a moth passes under, creating a strange, slightly strobe effect as Michael’s side profile comes briefly into view before turning away again.

“What are you doing here?” The query is muted, but the curtness rings loud and clear.

“I came to talk,” I take a step closer, unconsciously tightening my grip on the ball.

With a quick spin, he faces me with an almost jeering smirk. “We’re guys Max. We don’t talk. Guys resolve issues by actions, not by words,” he says, advancing towards me with an almost sneer.

“Is that your solution?” I ask tightly, a hint of anger beginning to seep into my own voice. One thing I’ve learnt from Liz, if nothing else, is that using one’s fist isn’t always the best solution, and definitely not the most painless one either.

He glares at me for a moment. Then in one smooth motion, he snatches the basketball from my grasp, twirling it on his left index finger, all the while never taking his eyes off my face. Then lightly throwing it upwards, he catches it on the downfall between his hands with a resounding ‘clap’. Gritting his teeth over his upheld hands, he regards me like a poised cobra, ready to strike.

“Yeah,” he states, nodding slightly, “THAT’s what I’m saying.”

It takes me a mere moment to consider my options.

“Fine.” Depositing my bag and belongings on the nearest bench, I barely turn around before I find the ball hurtling towards my face. Fighting the instinct to duck, I bring my hands up just in the nick of time to stop the ball from leaving a more permanent impact on my nose.

“Let’s play ball then,” comes his nonchalant reply. He doesn’t gloat, but his expression is closed off, masking any anger from his earlier display.

For the next few minutes, only the rhythmic beating of the ball on the court is heard, with the occasional grunts and expletives as we take turn parrying and counter-anticipating each other’s moves. Shoves, shoulder butts and sharp jabs to the midsection become the order of the day: physical tricks to attempt to rattle the other guy.

An ill-timed elbow to the sternum sends me sprawling on my back… and my annoyance levels spiking. That was the final straw for me!

Resting my head on the linoleum floor for a second to recover from having my breath knocked out of me, I spring to my feet with an exasperated growl as I face off with Michael, my feet planted firmly apart, hands clenched tightly into fists by my side… fists that are shivering from the restraint I’m exerting to not simply walk over and punch the daylights out of him.

“Had enough of knocking the stuffing out of me yet?” I had held back on several challenges, not playing my normal game in an attempt to placate his anger, but he hadn’t been pulling any punches, treating this like his usual competitive game, fouls and all.

Barely holding back my consternation, I am ready to launch myself at him if he makes another asinine remark. “What the hell’s your problem Michael?!”

My problem?” He asks with an almost innocent lost-boy look on his face. “Why would I have a problem? No sir-ree,” he continues, dribbling the ball absently as he crosses the width of the court to my other side.

Frowning at his thinly-veiled sarcasm and blatant displeasure, I try to provide an opening, relaxing my stance a little as I do so.

“Come on, Mikey G. Talk to me. We’re best friends. Been so for the last six years.” I pitch a last-ditch attempt to discover the source of his irritation. “Whatever I did… at least tell me what I did.”

His eyes widening disbelievingly, he releases a mirthless chuckle. “Oh no no no. YOU did nothing wrong,” as he shakes his head in mock dejection. “As for best friends?! You sure about that Max? I mean,” as he closes in on me again,” I know I was your best friend when you approached me for help with the play, but-”

“And look how well THAT turned out,” I do not hide my disdain.

Big mistake.

As Michael flings the ball aside and comes to stand directly before me in three quick strides, I almost find myself backpedaling at the colour I see effusing his face.

I actually considered that he might really strike me.

“Look! What happened with Dennis wasn’t my fault!” he exclaims. At the skeptical quirk of my eyebrow on hearing his words, he seems to stumble a little. “I mean, I was there when he got hurt… but it wasn’t what you think!”

He seems ready to tear his hair out, and I nearly believe him… but not quite.

“Why didn’t you get help then? The Michael I know would never have left Dennis for… like that,” I protest.

“It was an accident, alright?” as he starts to gesticulate frantically, punctuating his statements occasionally with dramatic flails of his hands. “You asked for my help. So one day, Alex and I were in the Gents’ when Dennis came in. We tried to… persuade him… you know, talk some sense into him. He freaked and backed away, banging his head on the sink when he slipped on the wet floor.”

“That still doesn’t explain why you didn’t get help,” I refute in a milder fashion, trying to maintain an open mind to the account he offered.

“Look, we… I freaked okay,” his tone taking on a resigned tone. “Dennis was a little loud and apparently drew some attention. I sent Alex to get the nurse while I tended to the guy. Alex comes back in a flurry, saying he saw a girl disappearing into the general office.” A sigh escapes his lips as his voice regains its normal resonance.

Looking me directly in the eye, he states without preamble, “You know I couldn’t afford getting into trouble, not with the championship games coming up so soon. Coach would have had my hide for it. So… we hightailed it out of there. The girl was obviously gonna bring aid… and everything was... gonna be okay.”

“But it’s not Michael,” my voice sounds just as weary.

I don’t doubt his description. Michael can be a bully at times, but an out-and-out psycho who left hurt people to fend for themselves? That, he definitely wasn’t. Which was why I had been so shocked when Miss Garber told us what had happened to Dennis.

“Why didn’t you just tell me about it?”

He turns and faces away from me. “How was I supposed to do that? You were perpetually busy with rehearsals and all-”

“Still you could have-”

“-so I talked to Isabel,” he continues as if I hadn’t interrupted, an edge of hardness creeping back into his voice.

“You told her about Dennis?” As I feel the muscles in my body contract painfully, the wheels in my mind are churning madly, trying to figure out how this could possibly have led to Michael’s unprovoked anger at me.

Remorse and frustration over Dennis’ accident, definitely. His anger? My gut just screams that something else entirely is the cause.

And from the way things seem to be going, I’m willing to bet it’s got something to do with his conversation with Izzy.

“Yeah, I did.” He turns around and pins me with a directly defiant stare. “Why didn’t you tell me about you and Liz?” The guardedness is back in his expression and tone, and I suddenly feel trapped like a caged animal.

“What do you mean?” I ask weakly.

“I mean, how come in all our years… our SIX years of friendship, you never ONCE mentioned the Parker girl? Afterall, that should be something a best friend knows, don’t you agree?” And he adds as an afterthought, “… Unless, of course, there’s something to hide…”

“There’s nothing between Liz and I-” I start.

“Ah, but methinks the man doth protest too vehemently,” Michael’s tone remains accusatory.

“Look,” I try to take the honesty tact without completely spilling my guts, “I’m still trying to figure out what it is between the two of us okay? It’s not like I’m declaring that I’m in lo-…” I almost bite my tongue in a bid to shut up then, taking a moment to reword my thoughts.

“I have… positive feelings for Liz right now. Where that leads…” my eyebrows beginning to crinkle into a frown as I see amusement starting to colour Michael’s features, “… I’m not too sure… sssoooo…” my voice is increasingly hesitant as the feeling of suspicion continues to expand in my gut, “… the necessity to fill you in on as yet unconfirmed details… was… non-existent.”

When Michael doesn’t chime in with his two cents’ worth, I continue. “Come on, admit it. Like you wouldn’t have had a field day giving me a hard time abut it. THAT,” with a roll of my eyes, “I find as appealing as having my teeth yanked out.”

When Michael still remains silent, I watch his face for a hint that he’s paid attention to anything I’ve just said. Hhhmmm, am I mistaken or do I detect an almost embarrassed expression forming on his face?

“Well…” he drawls, “… that… actually… WASN’T what I was talking about…” he says sheepishly, merriment beginning to dance in his eyes.

Oh God! What have I done?

As understanding lights his eyes, I can only groan inwardly at the monumentally stupid error in my judgment. Planting myself on the bleachers, I endure the moment while Michael enjoys the hilarity of the situation, his dour mood from earlier scattered to the wind.

“This is royal Max! Frigging’ unbelievable!” As a hoot of laughter sounds, “and here I thought…” he collapses into a fierce new bout of amusement, dropping his butt next to mine on the seat.

“You thought what?” I ask, ready for any excuse to stop Michael having further fun at my expense.

Still wiping tears from his eyes, he turns to face me. “You thought what? That Isabel told me… that you and Liz had something going on?”

“Didn’t she?”

“Maxie boy.” Shaking his head, he gives me a jab to the shoulder. “You so know that Izzy would break your eardrums if she heard you say that, right?” Turning a little more serious, he admits with a sigh, “She told me about how the three of you… especially the TWO of you… were really close… growing up.”

Shrugging a shoulder, he sneaks a glance to see me watching him intently, “… that’s all.”

“And THAT’s what got you so cheesed off at me? That you thought I was spending more time with LIZ than with YOU cos she’d replaced you as my new best friend?!” My tone is completely nonplussed.

“Jeez, Michael. Man, if I didn’t already know how much you loved Maria…” And it is now my turn to keep from out rightly laughing, “… I’d thought you were gay.”

“Hey!” Michael shoves me a little too hard and I tumble to the ground, still trying to contain the grin breaking out on my face.

“Aw Mikey G… you missed me?” I jest, getting to my feet as I grab hold of the earlier abandoned basketball and toss it jokingly at Michael.

“Cut it out Max!” he threatens, even though I can tell that he’s beginning to see the humour in the situation. Of course, he wouldn’t be him if he didn’t try to maintain his sense of righteous indignation… at least for a little while longer.

“Make me,” I continue to taunt him.

His face breaks into a grin… one that I haven’t seen since I was thirteen… one that I recognize only too late as he tackles me to the ground, trapping me in a mock choke-hold that I’ve never been able to break out of everytime he’s pulled it on me.

“Call ‘Uncle’, Max!”

“No way!” I continue to struggle despite knowing the futility of my attempts.

“Then I guess I’ll just have to tell Liz-”

“Michael-”

“Say ‘Uncle’, Max. Make it easier on yourself dude.”

“Look, we can talk this o-”

“Nah-uh buddy. Enough talk. One word. That’s all,” I can hear the triumph in his voice. “Or I’ll just have to let little Lizzie Parker know there’s the possibility that you just might lllllooooovvveeee her Ma-”

The sudden panic that overwhelms me sends a shot of adrenalin pumping through me and the next thing I know, I have Michael pinned under me, my knee digging into his chest.

“Shit Max, you trying to kill me here?” he wheezes as my knee threatens to cut off his air regulation, “Can’t you take a joke?” he rebukes even as I apologetically help him to his feet. “You know I wouldn’t do have actually done that.”

At the look I throw him, he has the grace to at least admit with a grin, “Okay. I’d probably have given you a little hard time… but I’ve got your back dude.”

I do not reply and he regards me with a slightly quizzical expression. “You thought I would have given you a hard time, didn’t you?”

When I give a wry confirmatory smile, he releases a short chuckle and slaps a hand on my shoulder. “From what Izzy’s told me, I wouldn’t dream of coming between you two. Pissed as I was, I’d be a fool not to see that what you had… what you might have… is something special. You’re probably the one who needs to get his head examined for not seeing it… and of course for not telling me,” he reminds me without being overly serious.

“Tell you what,” as he comes to a momentary standstill. “I promise to ensure you still have a reputation at the end of the day, so long as you don’t forget who your best friend is.”

“My best male friend,” I correct as I see a smug grin plaster itself on Michael’s face.

“As if I could be your best female friend as well,” he mocks.

“Well…” I cannot help the teasing lilt in my voice.

“Quit it Max.”

“Okay, okay,” but I cannot suppress a snort of laughter escaping.

As our moment of lightheartedness passes, the tension in the air is no longer pressing down on us. I’ve always hated misunderstandings between Michael and I, but this particular episode had been particularly trying.

“You wanna go grab a bite?” I ask as I gather my stuff and head towards the entrance.

“Nah, you go ahead. Gonna hang here a bit.”

“Maria’s coming isn’t she?” I ask with a knowing grin.

“Geez Max! Since you’re so smart, think you could raise your IQ level just that little bit higher and make yourself scarce?” His voice is annoyed, but the humour behind it cannot be disguised.

The smile that takes residence on my face never felt so good. The ribbing, the digs… classic Michael… and just the way it should be between us.

“Careful now Michael. Wouldn’t want you turning into a nag now, would we?” I cannot resist a last jibe before I make a dash for the gym exit.

My quick exodus is nearly successful.

Until I turn the corner…



… And come face to face with Liz.

Almost screeching to a halt, I feel my heart begin to hammer triple time as I see her standing there motionless, regarding me with a cool demeanour.

“Hey… Liz. Um, what are you… doing here?” I manage to sputter.

As if awakening from a trance, she reaches into her file to pull free some loose sheets of paper that she hands to me.

“Some of your Chem notes got mixed in with my stuff earlier on. I figured you’d need them for our homework due tomorrow,” she says, pointedly avoiding eye contact as the papers exchange hands.

“Oh. Um, h-how did you manage to find me?”

Don’t be mistaken, I’m more than please to have an excuse to be around her, to get to know her better, to see if we-

Okay, the rambling fool’s inner psyche’s gonna shut up now.

“Alex mentioned you might be headed for the gym, so I took a chance you might still be here,” she offers by way of explanation.

“Oh, I see,” Then a little nervously, “H-how long have you been standing there?”

She seems to hesitate a moment, then “Just a few minutes.”

“Oh, I see.” I sound like a broken record, and a dumb one at that.

Smiling to myself at her concern for me, a thought suddenly hits me.

One that wipes the grin off my face.

One that causes my brain to kick into overdrive.

She’s been standing there…

For the past few minutes…

While Michael and I were talking…

About my feelings for her.

The air suddenly feels a lot thinner and my air passage, narrower. I have no idea how she’s gonna react, but from her behaviour so far-

“So… what you said to Michael… is that true?” she asks, her expression is carefully neutral.

For a moment, I am tempted to claim momentary memory loss, but one look into her open expression is enough to give me pause, the words dying in my throat. Realizing I’m gaping like a goldfish struggling for its next breath, I snap my jaws shut with an audible click of my teeth.

It would be so easy to revert to the old Max Evans, brushing off discomforting comments with a snide remark, a wisecrack… and I know she wouldn’t call me on it. She’d know the truth… but being the girl that she is, I just know in my gut that she wouldn’t call my bluff.

Taking a deep breath, I take the plunge into the unknown, my next words rushing out in a single breath as my eyes rise to meet hers.

“Would my saying ‘yes’ mean that you’d agree to a date this Saturday?”

~*~*~*~*~*~
TBC
~*~*~*~*~*~
posted on 1-Dec-2002 9:31:31 AM by Dark Ilk
Okies.. so a quick note to apologize for the long wait in updating... have been a little stressed over my school posting and the last few weeks have been busy with meetings and seminr workshops.

Wanted to just say that yes, I still intend to continue the story when I can find the time. For those who can still behr with me, my heartfelt thanks.

Again, my apologies for the long waits in between.