posted on 18-Sep-2001 9:33:32 AM by Fanatic101
Author: Fanatic101 (Dan)

E-mail: koval1⊕charter.net

Category: A/U with M/L of course

Summary: Max has to deal with a tragedy, but he finds out that everything happens for a reason. (No aliens in this Fic)

Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Roswell.........yet.

Authors Note: I know I haven't posted in a looooooooong time, but my mind has been elsewhere. After what happened in New York, I guess I just lost the desire to write for a little while. Anyway, I know this part doesn't cover a whole lot, but I thought it'd be better to give you guys something rather than nothing.

(from part 18)

Later that night, Liz had just finished getting ready for bed when her phone rang. Figuring it was either Max or Maria, she snatched the cordless off her nightstand and answered in a cheerful voice. “Hello?”

“Liz?”

“Isabel?” Liz asked, a little confused as to why Isabel would be calling her so late.

“Yeah,” Isabel replied frantically. “Listen, is Max there with you?”

“Uh…no,” Liz replied, now adding concern to her confusion. “Why would he be?”

“I don’t know,” Isabel replied. “He got a phone call right after you left, then he just took off without saying anything.”

“Who called him?” Liz asked.

“I have no idea,” Isabel said, defeated.

Liz could tell that Isabel was on the verge of tears. “Well…why do you think it’s something bad?”

“The look on his face,” Isabel said. “The look in his eyes when he hung up the phone…he looked so confused and troubled.”

“And he didn’t say anything before he left?” Liz asked as she started to change her cloths. There was no way she’d be able to sleep until she knew where Max was.

“No,” Isabel said dramatically. “He mumbled something to himself, but the only words I caught were…‘Not Again’.”

Part 19

“I think we should check the airport first,” Isabel said as she and Liz drove down Main Street in Roswell.

“Why don’t we look around town first,” Liz suggested. “I really doubt that Max would jump on a plane and take off without telling anyone.”

“You’re right,” Isabel said as she took a deep breath. “Lets check the places that are still open in town.”

“It shouldn’t take too long,” Liz said. “Most of the stores are closed since its Christmas. We should call your mom to see if he’s checked in yet.”

“Yeah,” Isabel agreed as she turned onto a different street. “My cell phone is in my purse.”

Liz pulled out the phone and quickly dialed Isabel’s number. A few seconds later, Diane answered. “Hi Diane, it’s Liz. Has Max checked in yet?”

“No,” Diane said. “I take it you haven’t had any luck finding him.”

“None,” Liz said with a sigh. “We’re going to look around town a bit before we head out to the airport.”

“Okay,” Diane said. “Be careful.”

Liz hung up the phone and stared out the window. “Where are you Max?” she whispered to herself.

*****************

A half an hour later, Liz and Isabel found themselves on their way to the airport. They had searched all over town but had found no sign of Max. Isabel parked the car in the short term parking zone, then hurried inside the airport with Liz.

“Let’s check the ticket counters first,” Liz said.

The two of them hurried through the lower level of the airport and were just about to head up to the gates when Liz found what they were looking for.

“MAX!” she yelled as she hurried over to him. He was standing at the ticket counter of a major airline, talking with the agent behind the computer.

“Liz?” Max asked, more than a little surprised to see her there. When he spotted his sister right behind her, his confusion grew. “Isabel? What are you guys doing here?”

“I was just about to ask you the same question,” Isabel said, folding her arms in front of her chest. “What, did you think that you could just hop on a plane and take off without telling anyone?”

“Well…no,” Max said, perplexed. Before he could say anything else, Isabel spoke up.

“You get a disturbing phone call, then you bolt out of the house without saying anything, then you rush over here to the airport and jump on the first available plane? Let me tell you something buster, there’s no way you’re getting on that plane!”

“I know I’m not,” Max said, looking at Liz for an explanation to his sisters’ actions.

“Okay, okay,” Liz said, tucking her hair behind her ears. “Max, if you’re not here to catch a plane, then what are you doing here?”

“Alright, let me start from the beginning,” Max said, pulling both Liz and Isabel off to the side. “The person who called me back at the house is a friend of mine from San Diego. He…he has a dad who beats him when he’s drunk, and apparently he had been drinking tonight. My friend called me from the airport down in San Diego, asking if I could get him a plane ticket so he could fly up to Oregon to be with his mom.”

“So you’re here to pay for his plane ticket,” Liz said, nodding in understanding.

“Exactly,” Max said before he turned to his sister. “I told you and mom that I’d be back in a little while. Didn’t you hear me?”

“The only thing I heard was: mumble, mumble, mumble, not again, mumble, mumble, mumble,” Isabel said, cooling down a bit.

“I take it this isn’t the first time you’ve helped your friend out,” Liz said as the three of them walked back over to the ticket counter.

Max shook his head. “Hence the ‘Not Again’ remark.”

“I better call mom,” Isabel said, pulling out her cell phone. After holding a brief conversation with her mother, she hung up and spoke to Max. “So you’ll be home in a little while?”

“As soon as I get my friend squared away,” Max said as he handed the ticket agent some money.

“Okay,” Isabel said as she took a deep breath. “I’m going to head home and try to calm mom down before you get there. She’s kind of pissed.”

Max winced as he scratched the side of his head. “On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t go home tonight.”

“Yeah, that would go over really well,” Isabel said with a roll of her eyes. “Liz, did you want me to give you a ride, or did you want to get one from Max.”

“I’ll go with Max,” Liz said, smiling at Isabel.

“Of course,” Isabel said as she turned to leave. “Why’d I even ask?”

Once Isabel was gone, Liz turned to Max and slapped him on the arm. “You scared the crap out of me,” she said through gritted teeth.

“Sorry,” Max said with a smile. “I thought Isabel heard me when I said I’d be right back. I never thought she’d call you.”

After confirming everything with the ticket agent, Max and Liz soon found themselves on their way home.

“Listen, Liz,” Max said as he turned down the radio. “I wanted to talk to you about something.”

“Yeah, go ahead,” Liz said, giving Max her full attention.

“It’s about us and your parents,” Max said, glancing over at his fiancé. “I know you said that they wouldn’t understand about our engagement, and I agree. I don’t think either of our parents would handle the news very well. But I also don’t think it’s the greatest idea to hide it from them. I mean, your parents don’t even know we’re going to the same college yet.”

“You want me to tell my parents, don’t you?” Liz asked.

“Not if you don’t want to,” Max said. “I mean, my mom doesn’t know that I proposed to you so it wouldn’t be fair of me to ask you to tell your parents. Hell, Isabel doesn’t even know yet. But I do think that you should at least tell them about school.”

“I don’t know,” Liz said. “I still think it’s a little too early.”

“I’m not going to pressure you to do anything,” Max said, reaching over and grabbing one of Liz’s hands. “But the longer you wait, the harder it will be. I think it would be a lot easier for them to handle the wedding news if they already knew that we’re going to stay together.”

“Does your mom know that we’re going to Stanford together?” Liz asked, hoping the answer would be ‘no’.

“Yeah, she does,” Max said. “Actually, she was the one who told me to talk to you about it. She’s known since the beginning. Look, you said that you didn’t want your parents thinking that I had any influence on your decision, but they’d have to be a special kind of stupid not to have figured it out. I wouldn’t be surprised if they already knew.”

Liz looked out the window as she played with her gold necklace. Deep down she knew that everything Max was saying was true, but the fact of the matter was that she was terrified about telling her parents.

“I can be there with you if you want me to,” Max said, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. “I know this isn’t one of your favorite things to do, but the sooner you get it done, the less you have to worry about it.”

Liz just nodded as Max pulled up to her house. “I’ll talk to them tomorrow. I promise,” she said, turning to face him.

“Did you want me to come over?” Max asked. Truth be told, he had no desire to be around when Jeff and Nancy heard the news, but he’d do it for Liz.

Liz smiled as she ran her hand down Max’s cheek. “No. I think this would go over a lot easier if I did it alone.”

Max returned her smile before he leaned over and gave her a kiss. “I’m here for you; remember that.”

“I know,” Liz said. “Love you.”

“Love you,” Max said before he leaned in for another kiss. “I’ll call you tomorrow morning.”

“You better,” Liz said, giving him a stern look. “And no more running off in the middle of the night without telling me.”

“Yes ma’am,” Max said, giving Liz his patented half smile. “Goodnight, Liz.”

“Goodnight, Max.”

*****************

The next morning Max woke up with a groan, having gotten very little sleep the night before. When he got home, his mom had been waiting up for him. She sat him down and gave him a lecture about how he was going to put her in an early grave if he ran off like that again. But after he explained about his friend, she seemed to loosen up.

“Let’s go Max,” Isabel said as she threw his door open on her way to the bathroom. Needless to say, she was still a little upset with him.

An hour later, Max finally took a shower and got himself ready. After giving Liz a call, he and Isabel headed out for Albuquerque. He tried several times to start up a conversation with his sister, but every time he did, she wouldn’t respond. It took a half an hour of apologizing and the promise to buy her anything she wanted before he was finally forgiven.

Once they got to the mall in Albuquerque, the shopping spree began. Normally Max didn’t like to shop, but for some reason, being with his sister changed that. They were having a genuinely good time together. They took a break for lunch at the food court and Max couldn’t help but think of Liz. She was probably talking to her parents at that very moment, yet here he was, hours away.

“Missing Liz already?” Isabel asked before taking a bite of her salad.

Max shook his head to clear his thoughts before he turned to his sister. “Well…she’s telling her parents today that we’re going to college together.”

“ Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is,” Isabel said, wiping her mouth with her napkin. “I mean, it’s not like she’s giving up Harvard to go to the Western Albuquerque Technical Institute of Sheetrock Repair. She’s going to Stanford, one of the best school’s out there.”

“That’s what Michael said,” Max replied with a smile. “Except I think he substituted the Western Albuquerque Technical Institute of Sheetrock Repair for the Roswell Engineering School Of Binary Disposal.”

Isabel giggled, noticing that Max was just trying to make light of the situation. She could tell from the look in his eyes that he was really worried. “Do you want to call her?”

“More that anything,” Max replied without hesitation. “But I’m not going to. I’ll just call her when we get back.”

“You sure?” Isabel asked.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” Max said, abruptly changing the subject. When Isabel remained silent, he pushed on. “For Christmas, I…I got Liz a special present that we didn’t tell anyone about.”

“Oh…do tell,” Isabel said, her excitement peaking.

“Well I…I… kind of…proposed to her,” Max said quietly, his gaze fixed on the table in front of him.

“You did what!?” Isabel asked in a hushed voice, leaning forward in her seat.

“I asked Liz to marry me,” Max repeated, finally looking up at his sister.

“OH…MY…GOD!” Isabel said as she sat back in her seat, a look of disbelief on her face. Just as Max started to stress out about her reaction, a full-blown smile suddenly erupted across her face. “And of course she said ‘yes’, right?” she asked.

“Well…yeah,” Max said.

“OH…MY…GOD!” Isabel said again, this time excitedly. “When’s the wedding?”

“We don’t know yet,” Max said, relieved that his sister seemed to be just as excited about the upcoming event as he was. “We still need to tell our parents.”

Isabel grimaced at that revelation. She knew that her mom would initially freak out, but it would be nothing compared to how Liz’s parents would react. She could just picture Liz’s dad chasing Max around the Crashdown with a meat cleaver. “When are you going to tell them?”

“I’m not sure,” Max said with a shrug. “I left it up to Liz, so probably not for a couple of months.”

“Well, just make sure that there aren’t any sharp objects lying around when the two of you tell Liz’s parents,” Isabel joked. “Her dad might overreact just a tad.”

To Be Continued…




[ edited 17time(s), last at 8-Oct-2002 12:16:37 PM ]
posted on 29-Oct-2001 12:36:32 PM by Fanatic101
Authors Note: I already posted this part a while ago, but I have no idea where the thread went! Oh well. I'll be updating soon, so keep an eye out.

Part 20

Liz had been stressing out all morning about the unavoidable conversation she was bound to have with her parents. When Max called, he gave her the comfort she needed, but now she wished that she’d taken him up on his offer to be there with her when she told her mom and dad about school. She was currently in the back room with her dad, helping him organize the files for the restaurant.

“Dad, can I talk to you for a minute?” Liz asked.

“Sure honey, go ahead,” Jeff said as he continued to sort through some folders.

“It’s about college,” Liz said, glad that her dad had something to do to distract him for the time being.

“What about it?” Jeff asked, quickly glancing at Liz before returning his attention to the files.

“I’ve decided what college I’m going to,” Liz said, looking down at the manila folders in her hands.

“Well that’s great honey,” Jeff said excitedly, dropping everything to give his daughter his undivided attention. “So what did you decide on? Harvard? Yale?…”

“Stanford,” Liz said, cutting him off.

Jeff looked confused for a second. “But I thought you wanted to go to an Ivy League school. I though that Harvard was your first choice.”

“It was, at least for a while,” Liz said, reluctantly looking up at her dad. “But I decided that I’d rather go to a school that was a little closer to home. Besides, Stanford’s a really good college. It’s not like I’m going to the Public Institute Of Pesticide Management to major in Flee Control.”

“You’re right,” Jeff said with a chuckle. “Stanford is a really good school, so if that’s what you want, I’m happy for you.”

“There’s something else I need to tell you,” Liz said in a rush, knowing that if she waited any longer she would lose her nerve. “Max is going there too.”

“Oh, I see,” Jeff said, crossing his arms in front of his chest. “But I’m sure you’re going to tell me that he had no bearing on your decision, right?”

“No, I’m not,” Liz said, looking directly into her dad’s eyes. “He did have something to do with my decision, but before you go and blame him for changing my mind about Harvard, I think you should know that he’s willing to go to whatever school I want to. If I told him that I want to go to Harvard, he’d go to Harvard with me. If I wanted to go to Yale, he’d follow me. We both decided that the best course of action to take was to list all the school’s we were thinking about attending, then eliminate them one by one. When it was all said and done, Stanford was the only name left on the list.”

“Liz,” Jeff said, taking the folders out of her hands before leading her over to his desk so they could sit down. “Ever since you were a little girl, you always wanted to go to Harvard. I remember you told me just last year that it was your dream school. Now don’t get me wrong, I think the world of Max, but I wouldn’t be much of a father if I didn’t say that I’m worried you’re giving up on your dreams because of him.”

“That’s just it, dad,” Liz said, absentmindedly playing with her necklace. “When I met Max, my dreams changed. I’m not going to hide the fact that I love him, because I really do. I know that you and mom both think that what we have is just ‘puppy love’, but you’re wrong. I can’t describe the feelings I have for Max. I just have this sense of peace all the time; that when it comes to Max, I’ve never been more sure about anything in my life. Max and I complete each other.”

Jeff knew that arguing with his daughter would get him nowhere, but he truly felt that Liz wasn’t thinking things through. The last thing he wanted was for her to go off to Stanford with Max, have the two of them break up, then have her say that she wished she would have gone to Harvard in the first place. “I just can’t help but feel that the main reason why you’re going to Stanford is because of Max. That’s the wrong reason to go there, Liz.”

“Dad, I just told you that Max was willing to go anywhere I wanted to,” Liz said, frustrated. “I’m not tagging along here. We BOTH decided on Stanford.”

Before Jeff could respond, Nancy’s voice called down from the stairs. “Liz…telephone.”

Liz looked at her dad, hoping that he would understand her position.

“Go on,” Jeff said with a sigh. “We can finish talking about this later when your mom’s not busy.”

Liz gave her dad a tight smile before she ran up the stairs and into her bedroom. That conversation didn’t go as well as she had hoped, yet it didn’t go as bad as she had feared either. She decided to forget about it for the time being, knowing that if she didn’t, she would only drive herself crazy. She picked up her phone as she tucked her hair behind her ear, expecting it to be Max on the other end of the line. “Hello?”

“Hey Liz. How’s it going?”

“Michael?” Liz asked in confusion.

“Yeah, why do you sound so surprised?” Michael asked.

“Oh…I…I’m not,” Liz lied. “When my mom told me that I had a phone call, I just expected it to be from Max.”

“Sorry to disappoint you,” Michael said with a chuckle. “Speaking of Max, do you know where he and Iz are?”

“Yeah, they’re both in Albuquerque,” Liz said. “But they should be back in a couple of hours. Why do you ask?”

“Well, my parents are out of town and Maria somehow convinced me to have a party tonight, so I wanted to make sure that everyone could come over,” Michael said.

“A party?” Liz asked. “Yeah, that…that sounds great. I’ll let Max know as soon as he calls me.”

“It starts around six, babe,” Maria yelled in the background, causing Michael to mumble something to her. Liz just giggled as she listened to the two of them argue.

“Michael,” Liz said, pulling him out of his conversation with Maria. “We’ll be there.”

***********

“A party?” Isabel asked as she and Max drove home.

“That’s what Liz said,” Max replied with a shrug. “We have just enough time to run home and change before we need to head over there.”

“Don’t we have to pick Liz up first?” Isabel asked.

“Nope,” Max said. “Maria wants her to help with the grocery shopping so I’m just going to meet her there.”

“Let me call Alex then,” Isabel said, grabbing her cell phone. “I’ll tell him to head over without me.” After the phone call, she turned back to Max. “So how’d it go with Liz and her parents?”

Max let out a deep breath. “She doesn’t know yet. She said that her dad didn’t flip out, but he wasn’t elated either. I guess they’re going to talk about it later.”

“What about her mom?” Isabel asked.

“She doesn’t know,” Max said. “I didn’t get the whole story, but Liz said that she was only able to talk to her dad.”

“Everything’s going to be fine,” Isabel said reassuringly. “You’ll see.”

“I hope so,” Max replied as he looked out the windshield. “I really hope so.”

**************

An hour later, Max and Isabel pulled up to the Guerin household. The two siblings made their way through the house and out to the backyard, where they saw Michael and Kyle throwing a football. Alex was talking to Michael as Tess tried her hardest to get Kyle to fumble the ball. She was currently hanging onto his back as he tried to throw it.

Max scanned the backyard, immediately noticing that Liz was nowhere in sight. Neither was Maria.

“They’re still getting food,” Michael said, noticing Max’s expression.

Max nodded as he and Isabel walked over to their friends.

“I’m glad you’re here, Maxwell,” Michael said, slapping his friend on the back. “Alex and I were just talking, and we seem to disagree on who the world’s best pound for pound boxer is. Who gets your vote?”

“Best pound for pound boxer, huh,” Max said, crossing his arms in front of his chest as he thought about the question. “Ever or today?”

“Today,” Alex said.

“Well, he’s kind of given himself a bad rap these days by fighting a bunch of no-name opponents, but I’d still have to go with Roy Jones, Jr.,” Max replied.

“Ha,” Alex said, pointing a finger at Michael. “I told you.”

“The guys not the best just because Max says he is,” Michael said in retaliation.

“That’s true,” Isabel said. “That’s an opinion question, so there’s no right or wrong answer.”

“Hey,” Alex said, giving Isabel a wounded look. “Who’s side are you on here?”

Isabel shook her head with a smile on her face as she wrapped her arms around Alex’s waist. “Yours,” she said before giving him a kiss on the cheek.

“That’s better,” Alex said with a nod.

“Hey Max,” Kyle called out. “Catch!”

Max turned just in time to see the football as it whizzed toward his head. His instinctive reaction caused him to duck, but he still managed to bring his hands up in time to catch the ball.

“Nice reflexes,” Michael commented, nodding his approval.

Max glared over at Kyle, the football still in his hands as he slowly started to walk over to his friend.

“Max?” Kyle said questioningly, his hands raised defensively as he slowly backed away.

“He’s going to peg you with that ball,” Tess said as she casually put some distance between herself and Kyle.

“No he’s not,” Kyle said unconvincingly. “’Cause we’re friends, right Max?”

An evil smile slowly crept up Max’s face as he moved closer to his target. As soon as he raised the football to throw it, Kyle made a beeline for the side of the house, hoping to get some protection.

Max started laughing when he watched Kyle literally dive for cover. He turned to Tess, who was laughing just as hard as he was, and gently tossed her the ball, making it easy to catch.

“What a wussy!” Alex said, nearly doubled over in laughter alongside Michael.

“Very graceful, honey,” Tess said as Kyle poked his head out to make sure that the coast was clear.

“Hey, I’ve got P.E. with he guy so I’ve played dodge ball against him,” Kyle said in defense. “If you knew how hard he could throw a ball you’d be diving for cover too.”

“Come on Wonder Woman,” Michael said motioning towards the house. “I think you need to change your boxers.”

************

“So what did Michael get you for Christmas?” Liz asked as she and Maria drove back to the party. She knew that Max was really the one who picked out the present, but Maria didn’t need to know that.

Maria smiled as she glanced over at her friend. “Well, first he got me a deluxe package at the local health spa. It comes complete with a manicure, a facial, and most importantly, an hour massage.”

“Wow,” Liz said, impressed that Max would think of a present like that.

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Maria said. “I thought for sure he’d get me a plunger and a box of Raisinets or something. Anyway, the second thing he got me was a pair of pearl earrings. I mean, we’re talking REAL pearl earrings here.”

“That must have cost him a fortune,” Liz said with a smile.

“I know,” Maria agreed. “To be honest, when he gave me the presents, I thought for sure he had paid Max or someone to pick them out. I mean, we’re talking about Michael Guerin. I love him dearly, but there’s no way he thought of those things by himself.”

Liz had to bite back her smile. “Did you ask him how he thought of them?”

“Of course,” Maria replied. “He said that he tagged along with Max when he bought your present, and that’s when he thought of the earrings. Then he said that he just drove by the health spa one day and thought that I’d like to be pampered there, so he bought me a package.”

“I think that’s sweet,” Liz said, going along with Michael’s made up story. “It’s definitely an improvement from last year.”

Maria rolled her eyes dramatically. “I still haven’t used that electric toothbrush he bought me.” There was a brief pause before Maria changed the subject. “On a serious note, I need your help with something,” she said reluctantly. “I know you’re kind of embarrassed to talk about it, but please, do it for me.”

“Maria, what are you talking about?” Liz asked.

“Okay,” Maria said, taking a deep breath. “Last night, Michael and I came really close to…to doing the deed, if you know what I mean. I want our first time to be really special, so I wanted to get your advice on how to make that happen.”

Liz was completely speechless. “Well…I…I’m not really sure I know what to suggest.”

“Well, what did Max do the first time you guys did it?” Maria asked. “Knowing him, he had to do something special.”

Liz blushed as she tucked her hair behind her ears. “Well, since Max and I haven’t taken that step yet…”

“You guys haven’t done it yet!?” Maria asked in shock, cutting Liz off.

“We’ve come close,” Liz admitted. “But both of our families are religiously strong, so we’re going to save ourselves until we’re married.”

“Wait a minute,” Maria said. “When you say that you’re going to wait until you’re married, do you mean that casually, like you’re going to save yourself until you eventually take that step with someone, or have you and Max already started to make plans and you just forgot to tell your best friend in the whole wide world?”

“I didn’t forget to tell you anything,” Liz said innocently. “This is the first time I’ve see you since Max proposed to me yesterday.”

“HE DID WHAT!?!” Maria exclaimed, turning to look at Liz.

Liz grabbed Maria’s chin and forced her to watch the road before the car crashed. “He proposed to me yesterday,” she repeated.

“What did you say?” Maria asked, sneaking glances over at Liz.

“What do you think?” Liz asked back, giving Maria a sarcastic look.

“Sorry, dumb question,” Maria said, mentally kicking herself. “When?”

“We don’t know yet,” Liz said. “I’m kind of hoping that we do it this summer, but I’m not so sure that Max wants to do it that early.”

“What about the ring?” Maria asked, smiling from ear to ear. “He gave you the perfect ring, didn’t he?” She glanced down at Liz’s left hand, her brow furrowing together in confusion. “He did get you a ring, didn’t he?”

“Of course he did,” Liz said with a laugh. “But I can’t just go around wearing it on my hand. Can you imagine what my parents would say?”

“True,” Maria said with a nod. “You’re dad would probably chase after Max with a chainsaw or something. So…where is it?”

“On my necklace,” Liz said with a smile.

“Let me see, let me see, let me see,” Maria said, jumping around in her seat.

“I’ll let you see it when we get to Michael’s,” Liz said, still smiling. “I don’t want you wrecking the car.”

A few minutes later, Maria pulled into the driveway at Michael’s house. After drooling over Liz’s ring for five minutes, the girls grabbed some of the groceries and headed into the house. As soon as they walked through the front door, they heard strange noises coming from the living room. They both looked at each other in confusion before they walked over to the entryway to see what was going on.

Alex and Kyle were playing a fighting game on Michael’s Playstation, both creating their own sound effects to go along with the characters they were controlling. Maria shook her head as she made her way to the kitchen. “Do you guys think you could manage to tear yourselves away from that game for a few minutes? There’s still tons of groceries in the car.”

“Just give us a second,” Alex said, concentrating on the game. His tongue was slightly sticking out from between his lips, making him look like a five year old as he played.

As Liz followed Maria into the kitchen, she passed Isabel and Tess who were on their way out to help with the groceries. She wondered where Max and Michael were, noticing as soon as she walked into the house that they were the only two missing.

As if hearing her question, Maria set the grocery bags down on the counter and looked out into the backyard. “I hope Michael started the grill. If he didn’t, I’m going to rip him a new one.”

Liz followed Maria’s gaze, a tiny smile forming on her lips when she saw Max standing next to Michael at the barbeque grill.

“Good,” Maria said, turning her attention to the food in front of her. “Give me a hand with all this, would you doll?” she asked Liz.

“Sure,” Liz said, busying herself around the kitchen.

***************

“ENGAGED!?” Michael asked in shock, his eyes wide as he stared at Max.

Max nodded as he shoved his hands into his coat pockets. “Pretty wild, huh?”

It took Michael a second to refocus after the surprising news he had just been told. “Wow. You think you’re ready for that?”

“Absolutely,” Max said without hesitation. “I’d marry her today if I could.”

“I have no doubt,” Michael said, shoving one hand into his pocket as he took a drink of his hot chocolate. “To be honest, I knew it was only a matter of time with you two.”

Max smiled as he looked down, shuffling his feet. When he looked up, his smile was gone, replaced by a slight frown.

“Something else bugging you?” Michael asked, noticing the quick change in Max’s facial expression.

Max looked at Michael and opened his mouth to talk, but found himself at a loss for words. He closed his mouth as he thought about what he wanted to say, trying to find the right way to phrase what was on his mind.

“Come on Maxwell,” Michael said, nudging him with his elbow. “What’s up?”

“I…I’ve been thinking a lot about the wedding,” Max said. “I know that everyone who’s important to me and Liz will be there…everyone except for my dad that is.” Michael nodded, but remained silent as Max continued. “I just wish that…that he could be there, you know?”

“Max, you know I’m not a very…emotional person,” Michael said. “But let me just say that I’m positive that wherever your dad is right now, he wouldn’t miss your wedding for the world. He may not be there physically, but I can guarantee you that he’ll be there in spirit.”

The two guys remained silent for a minute until Max finally spoke up.

“Thanks, Michael.”

“No problem,” Michael said before taking another sip of his hot chocolate. “Just don’t tell anyone what I said. The last thing I need is for Maria to catch wind of it. If she does, she’ll be expecting poetry from me by the end of the school year.”

Max laughed as he looked back toward the house, noticing that Liz and Maria were back. “You know,” he said, turning back to face Michael, “I think this is the first time you’ve ever called me Max.”

“And it’ll be the last too,” Michael said, looking over Max’s shoulder as Liz made her way outside. “It looks like you have a visitor. I’m going to head inside to get the hamburger meat. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Max turned after Michael left, smiling as Liz walked up to him and wrapped her arms around his waist, burying her cheek into his chest.

“I missed you today,” Liz mumbled into his shirt.

“I missed you too,” Max said, wrapping Liz in his embrace as he nuzzled the top of her head with his cheek. “I’m sorry your dad didn’t handle the news as well as you would have liked.”

“That’s okay,” Liz said as she pulled back and looked up into Max’s face. “At least he didn’t wig out.”

“True,” Max said as he stared at Liz for a few seconds, then glanced up at the sky. “You know, I’ve been thinking. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but maybe camping in the middle on winter isn’t such a hot idea.”

Liz let out a laugh as she snuggled closer to Max. “It is pretty cold, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, a little,” Max replied with a smile.

“But we’re definitely doing it this spring,” Liz said.

“Works for me,” Michael said as he passed the two lovebirds on his way to the barbeque, placing the hamburger meat in neat rows on the grill. “Now…what did I just agree to?”

***********

After everyone had eaten dinner, they all gathered upstairs in the ‘Movie Room’. Michael’s dad had gone all out, buying the best TV and surround sound stereo system, trying to make it sound as close to the movie theater as he could. After debating for several minutes about which movie to watch – the girls wanting The Wedding Planner while the guys opted for 3000 Miles To Graceland – they all decided on The Mexican.

Everyone scattered around the room as the movie began, Michael and Maria taking the couch, while Kyle and Tess grabbed a blanket and some pillows from one of the bedrooms and made themselves comfortable on the floor. Alex and Isabel followed suit, lying on the floor at the other end of the sofa. Max sat down in the only chair in the room, a rocking chair, and pulled Liz down onto his lap. She immediately snuggled into him as he wrapped a blanket around her petite body, a sigh of contempt escaping her lips as he slowly began to rock back and forth.

About halfway through the movie, Max leaned over and whispered into Liz’s ear: “I’ll be right back.”

“Where are you going?” Liz asked quietly.

“To the bathroom,” Max said, standing up with Liz still in his arms before gently placing her back down in the chair.

After twenty minutes had passed, Liz decided to get up and look for her missing boyfriend. When she passed the bathroom, she noticed right away that Max wasn’t in there. “Max?” she called out softly as she made her way downstairs. She looked in the living room, the dining room, the bathrooms on the lower level, then finally the kitchen. That’s when she saw him sitting out on the porch steps leading to the backyard. She gently opened the sliding glass door, realizing very quickly just how cold it was. “Max? What are you doing out here?” she asked as she sat down next to him. “It’s freezing.”

Max turned and looked at her, not saying a word as he took off his coat and wrapped it around her shoulders. He continued to stare at her as he reached out and traced her eyebrow with his fingertips, slowly moving down her cheekbone to her mouth, where he traced both her lips.

“Are you okay?” Liz asked with concern.

Instead of answering her verbally, Max reached over and picked her up, placing her on his lap, much like he did up in the movie room. Liz was a little surprised, but she wasn’t about to complain. She ran her fingers through his hair, their eyes still locked, neither saying a word for several minutes.

“Are you going to tell me…” Liz began, cutting her sentence off when Max softly placed his index finger against her lips. He slowly leaned in and nibbled on her bottom lip, gently pulling it into his mouth. He continued to kiss her slowly, passionately, lovingly, making it absolutely clear that he was in no rush.

When they finally pulled back, their eyes instinctively found their way back to each other’s.

“Max, tell me what you’re thinking,” Liz said, unable to look away from him. “I’ve never seen this look on your face before.” It was the truth. They had been together for several months now, but she had never seen the intense stare he was currently giving her.

“I love you, Liz,” Max finally said, his eyes locked on hers. “I love you more than anything in the world.”

A tiny smile of affection came to Liz’s lips. “I know,” she whispered. “I feel the same way about you. Is that what you’ve been thinking about?”

“Sort of,” Max said before he buried his face into the crook of Liz’s neck.

“What do you mean, ‘sort of’?” Liz asked as she continued to run her fingers through his hair.

“I…I’ve been thinking a lot about us and our wedding,” Max said, closing his eyes as he inhaled Liz’s scent. “I can’t help but wish that…that my dad were still here to share it with me…with us.”

Liz didn’t know what to say, so she just held Max close as he went on.

“I’ve come to realize that my dad is going to miss the most important times in my life,” Max said.

“What else is there besides the wedding?” Liz asked softly.

“Prom, graduation, college, graduation from college,” Max said. “He’ll never get to meet you, get to know just how wonderful and amazing you really are. But what bothers me the most is that he’ll never get to see his grandkids. He’ll never get to watch them grow up, never get to see them playing in the backyard, never get to celebrate their birthdays, or get to see the look in their eyes that only a child gets when Christmas rolls around. And that’s when I realize that it also means that our kids will never get to meet their grandpa. They’ll never get to know him.” Max kept himself from crying, but he couldn’t control the tremble that overtook his lower lip.

Since they were so close to each other, Liz could tell the exact moment that Max’s lip started to quiver. She held him even tighter, but found herself at a loss for words. She didn’t know what to do or what to say to make things better. She felt completely helpless, and it was that feeling that caused her to start crying herself. She nuzzled the top of Max’s head with her cheek, planting soft kisses here and there.

“God…look at me,” Max said with a chuckle as he pulled back and wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand. “I’m acting like my dad just died last week.”

“Max,” Liz said softly, cupping his cheeks with both of her hands, forcing him to look at her. “Your dad just died a little over four months ago. To be honest, I can’t believe how strong you’ve been. If my dad had died, I’d still be balling my eyes out every night. Your wound is still fresh and needs time to heal. You can’t expect yourself to come to terms with his death over night.”

Max sniffled as a smile came to his lips. “This is the exact reason why I wish he could have met you. You always know exactly what to say to calm me down.”

Liz smiled back as she shifted off Max’s lap and sat next to him. “Max, I never told you this before, but I do kind of know what you’re going through.” Max remained silent, waiting for Liz to continue. “My sophomore year, something happened that changed my life forever. My Grandma Claudia came to visit us towards the beginning of the school year. We were extremely close. I don’t know why, but I always felt closer to her than I did my mom. I considered her to be the basis of my existence. Anyway, to make a long story short, she had a stroke while she was here and ended up dying.”

“Oh Liz…I’m so sorry,” Max said, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. “Why didn’t you ever tell me about her?” When she looked up at him, he saw the tears welling up in her eyes just seconds before they fell down her cheeks.

“Because it still hurts,” Liz whispered.

Max couldn’t stand to see the tortured look in Liz’s eyes. He pulled her into his embrace, kissing the top of her head as he ran his fingers through her hair.

A few seconds later, Liz pulled back and wiped her eyes before looking at Max. “The reason I’m telling you now is to prove my point. Even though my grandma died over two years ago, it still hurts. Don’t ever think that you need to get over your dad’s death. If you feel like crying, cry. If in ten or twenty years from now you still feel like crying, don’t keep it in. There’s no law that says there’s a time limit for how long you can mourn. Take as long as you need.”

Max smiled as he felt his throat tighten. He didn’t know how to respond, so he did the only thing he could think of…he kissed Liz. The kiss was short, but the brief contact was all he needed to calm down a bit. He rested his forehead against Liz’s, enjoying the feeling that he got every time he was close to her. When he finally opened his eyes, he saw that Liz was staring at him with that special smile of affection that she refused to give anyone but him. “Can I ask you something?” he said softly.

“Anything,” Liz replied.

“Marry me this summer,” Max said.

It took a minute for his request to register, but when it did, Liz couldn’t help but smile. “Are you serious?” she asked, unable to keep the look of hope off her face.

“As a heart attack,” Max replied. “I figured that since we’re both going to be living together anyway, we might as well not do it in sin.”

Liz’s smile grew as she ran her hand down Max’s cheek. “If I could, I’d marry you on my eighteenth birthday.”

“Why can’t you?” Max asked.

Liz didn’t know how to respond, the question catching her completely off guard. “I…I was just kidding.”

“Seriously,” Max said. “Why can’t we get married on your birthday? I’ll already be eighteen by then.”

“But Max, my birthday’s in the beginning of May,” Liz said. “Graduation isn’t until the middle of June. We’d still be in high school.”

“So?” Max said.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” Liz asked. Max only nodded. “I just barely built up enough courage to tell my parents that we’re going to college together. Now you want me to tell them that I’m going to get married before I even graduate from high school?”

“We don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Max said. “But how many couples out there actually get married on one of their birthdays? Just think…not only will you get a birthday present from me, but you’ll also get an anniversary present.”

“Yeah, but you could be suggesting this for another reason,” Liz said, eyeing Max carefully.

“And what would that be?” Max asked with a laugh.

“If we get married on my birthday, you’d be able to kill two birds with one stone,” Liz said.

“I’m not following,” Max said, confused.

“Some guys have a hard time remembering their anniversaries and their wife’s birthday, so this way all you have to do is remember one date,” Liz explained. “And instead of having to take me out once on my birthday and once on our anniversary, you’d be able to get both out of the way in one outing.”

“I guess that’s one way to look at it,” Max said with an amused smile. “Or you could look at it from my viewpoint. If your birthday and our anniversary fall on the same day, that just means that I’m going to have to work twice as hard to pamper you. Instead of getting two days a year of mediocre treatment, you’d get one full day of all out, non stop attention and affection.”

“Max,” Liz said, wrapping her arms around his neck. “We both know that if my birthday and our anniversary fall on separate days, I’d get TWO full days of all out, non stop attention and affection. I’ve never seen you do anything mediocre.”

All Max could do was smile - Liz had him there. “Tell you what…I’ll let you decide the date as long as the wedding takes place before we move to California.”

“I’d love to have the wedding on my birthday, but realistically, I don’t think it’s possible,” Liz said. “But this is something we need to decide together. It’s obvious that we both want to tie the knot as soon as possible, so lets take a look at a calendar later on to figure out the best day. Just promise me that you’ll be there when I tell my parents that we’re engaged.”

“Of course I’ll be there,” Max said. “But I’m staying behind you. I don’t want to give your dad a clear path to my throat.”

Liz let out a giggle as she pictured her parents reaction. “I should warn you, my dad owns a gun.”

Max smiled as he scratched the side of his head. “Yeah, but can he hit anything with it?”

“Do you really want to find out?” Liz asked back.

Max laughed. “Maybe we should stop by the army surplus store,” he joked. “I hear they have good deals on Flack armor and Kevlar helmets.”

To Be Continued…

posted on 7-Nov-2001 2:03:55 PM by Fanatic101
Authors Note: I have a question. Does anyone know the name of the group who sang the last song on last nights eppy, Control? (The one were Liz stands up to Max, then he tells her that he failed...yada, yada, yada)

Part 21

The next few weeks flew by and before anyone knew it, it was the middle of February.

Liz had the talk with her parents about going to Stanford instead of Harvard, and at first, her mom was not pleased in the least. Her dad had had some time to come to terms with it, so he was trying to be as supportive as possible. The conversation ended on a bad note, with her mom saying that she was disappointed in her decision. But by the next morning, after having a talk with her husband, Nancy apologized to Liz and accepted the fact that her daughter was going to attend Stanford. After a few days had passed, she was even happy about it. The relief that Liz felt was enough to last her a lifetime.

“I need another break from school,” Maria complained as she and Liz walked through the school hallway. “How long before we graduate again?”

Liz smiled as she listened to her friend complain. As the two of them turned a corner, they saw Kyle and Tess standing with Michael and Alex.

“Hey guys,” Liz said as she walked up to them. “What are we talking about?”

“The game tonight,” Kyle said. “It’s the biggest game of the year. If we win, we clinch the league title and get a birth into the state tournament next week.”

“Oh,” Liz said, nodding her head.

“What happens if you guys lose?” Maria asked as she wrapped her arms around Michael’s waist.

“Then our season’s over,” Kyle said.

“There you guys are,” Isabel said as she walked up to the group.

“Where’s Max?” Liz asked, beating Kyle to the question.

“Sick as a dog,” Isabel said. “You should have seen him this morning. He looked like a Mac truck just ran him over.”

“SICK!?” Kyle exclaimed. “He can’t be sick! We have a game tonight!”

“Maybe you should tell that to the flu bug that bit him,” Isabel said. “He was throwing up all night.”

Liz’s brow furrowed together in concern. Max had mentioned the night before over the phone that he wasn’t feeling very well, but she never thought that it was serious. “How was he when you left?”

“Sleeping,” Isabel said. “You can tell exactly how he feels just by looking into his eyes. I feel so bad for him.”

“But, but, but…he needs to play tonight,” Kyle said.

“Well, maybe he’ll feel better by game time,” Tess said with a shrug.

“You don’t understand,” Kyle said. “In order for him to be eligible to play tonight, Max has to attend at least half of his classes. If he misses more than three classes, he won’t be able to play no matter what.”

“Well I think his health is a little more important than a game,” Liz said. “To tell you the truth, I hope he doesn’t come to school.”

“I’m not saying that I don’t care about his health,” Kyle said, calming down a bit. “It’s just that…this is the first time we’ve ever had a legitimate shot at winning the state tournament.”

“Let’s just play it by ear,” Michael said. “If push comes to shove, I’m sure you guys can win without him.”

Just then the bell rang, signaling that class was about to start.

“So he has to show up by fourth period, right?” Alex asked. After Kyle nodded, he added, “Well who has fourth period with him?”

“Kyle and I do,” Liz said.

“Then I guess you two will be the first to know if he show’s up,” Alex said. “See you guys later,” he said before he led Isabel down the hall.

“Please don’t show up, Max,” Liz whispered to herself as she headed off to class. She had every intention of going over to his house at lunchtime, just to make sure he was all right. Who knows…maybe she could blow off school for the afternoon and spend it taking care of her soon to be husband instead.

************

When fourth period finally rolled around, Liz let out a sigh of relief when she walked into the classroom and found that Max wasn’t there. She took her seat near the middle of the classroom, with Kyle on one side and an empty desk that was normally occupied by Max on the other. Kyle looked frantic.

“Kyle,” Liz said, reaching over and touching his shoulder to get his attention. “You guys won last year without him, so I’m sure you’ll do fine.”

“Yeah but we never came close to winning the league last year,” Kyle said. “We didn’t even make it to the state tournament.”

Before Liz could respond, the teacher started his lecture. About five minutes into class, the door slowly opened and, much to Liz’s dismay, Max walked in. She watched as he slowly walked up to the teacher and handed him an excuse slip for being tardy. She couldn’t help but notice how sluggish he looked.

Max slowly made his way over to his desk, carefully dropping down into the seat before taking a deep breath and looking over at Liz.

Liz felt her heart clench in her chest as she looked into Max’s eyes. They were glossed over and his eyelids looked very heavy. Her brow furrowed together in concern as she reached over and brushed Max’s hair off his forehead.

“What are you doing here?” she whispered.

“We have a game tonight,” Max said quietly, his voice a little horse.

“But you’re sick,” Liz said. “Look at you…you can barely sit up.”

“I’m fine,” Max lied.

“Yeah right,” Liz said, knowing better. “How do you expect to play if you’re throwing up every five minutes?”

“Ms. Parker, Mr. Evans,” the teacher said. “I’m not disturbing you with my lecture, am I?”

Max and Liz both faced the front of the class, each of them blushing slightly. They mumbled their apologies before the teacher began his lesson again.

Liz snuck a peek over at Max, frowning when she saw just how hard it was for him to concentrate on the class. His eyelids kept closing, remaining shut for several seconds before he slowly opened them again. The main thought that ran through her mind was that he was going to kill himself if he tried to play that night.

************

“How are you feeling?” Maria asked Max as the group walked down the halls during their lunch hour.

“Like shit,” Max mumbled.

“Boy, you must really be sick if you’re swearing,” Alex said. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you utter a cuss word.”

“Just so you know, if I end up getting sick because of you, I’m going to kick your ass,” Michael said as he opened the doors to the cafeteria without thinking.

All it took was one whiff of the lunchroom to send Max sprinting for the nearest bathroom with his hand covering his mouth.

“Max!” Liz called out as she ran after him. She stopped just outside the guys’ bathroom, her head falling forward as she listened to her significant other throwing up.

“I’ll check on him,” Michael said as he pushed the bathroom door open. He checked the first stall, finding his friend kneeling on the floor over the toilet, holding his stomach. “You need any help?”

Max shook his head, his eyes closed as he fought off another wave of nausea. In the end, he lost the battle and threw up again, causing Michael to instinctively take a step back. After staying on the floor for a few more minutes, just to make sure he wasn’t going to throw up again, Max slowly stood up and flushed the toilet. When he turned around, Michael handed him a few paper towels. “Thanks,” he mumbled.

“Go home,” Michael said as he helped Max over to the sink, noticing that his friends’ eyes were now watering uncontrollably.

“I’m fine,” Max said as he turned on the cold water and splashed his face. He cupped his hands under the faucet and sipped some water into his mouth, washing it out the best he could. “Do you have any gum?”

“I think that bad breath is the least of your worries,” Michael said. “Now come on. You’ve got an extremely worried woman standing outside.”

As soon as Max and Michael stepped out of the bathroom, Liz wrapped her arm around Max’s waist, helping him over to the couch that sat in the hallway. “I’m taking you home as soon as you feel good enough to walk out to the car,” she said.

“I’m fine,” Max repeated. “It was just the smell of the Caf that got to me.”

“I don’t care,” Liz said as she sat on the couch, gently placing Max’s head on her lap as he laid down in the fetal position. She ran her fingers through his hair as he closed his eyes, and in a matter of seconds, he was asleep.

“Poor guy,” Michael said before he motioned to the others who were standing just outside the Cafeteria. “I’ll let them know how he’s doing.”

“Tell Kyle to go find Coach Swain,” Liz said.

“Why?” Michael asked in confusion.

“Because if Max knows that Swain won’t play him tonight, even if he’s eligible, maybe he’ll listen to reason and go home,” Liz said.

Michael nodded as he walked over to relay the news to everyone. A few seconds later, Kyle took off down the hallway in search of his coach. He found him in his classroom, quietly eating his lunch as he graded some papers.

“Kyle,” Coach Swain said as he put his pen down. “Something wrong?”

“You could say that,” Kyle said. “I need to show you something.”

Coach Swain didn’t ask any more questions; instead he just followed his player down the hallway. As soon as his eyes landed on Max, he let out a defeated sigh. “What’s wrong with him?”

“Flu,” Kyle said.

Coach Swain knelt down in front of Max, gently placing the back of his hand on Max’s forehead. “He’s burning up.”

“And he won’t listen to us when we tell him to go home,” Maria said. “He keeps saying that he needs to be here in order to be eligible to play tonight.”

Coach Swain shook his head as a tiny smile formed on his lips. “It’s amazing how much devotion this kid has,” he said to no one in particular. “Can one of you drive him home?”

“I plan to as soon as he wakes up,” Liz said.

“Max,” Coach Swain said.

Max woke up, his eyes having trouble focusing as he looked at his coach. “Hey Coach,” he said lazily.

“Come on,” Coach Swain said as he helped Max up. The two of them made their way out to Max’s car, followed by the others. Coach Swain put Max into the passengers seat and was about to close the door when Max stopped him.

“But if I leave, I won’t be eligible to play tonight,” Max protested.

“Max,” Coach Swain said, “if it were that important, I’d find a way to make you eligible. Don’t overdo it here, okay? Just take it easy for the rest of the day.”

Max nodded as he closed his eyes.

“Thanks for your help,” Liz said to Coach Swain before she took out her car keys and climbed into the drivers seat. It was moments like these that made her thankful that Max had given her the spare key to his car.

Coach Swain walked over to the driver’s side, motioning for Liz to roll down her window. “When he wakes up again, tell him that if I see him anywhere near this school tonight, he’ll be running sprints until graduation.”

“You got it,” Liz said with a smile as she started the car.

“Do me a favor,” Coach Swain said before Liz started to pull away. “Call the school later on today and let me know how he’s doing.”

“Sure,” Liz said, giving her friends one last wave before driving off.

****************

Liz helped Max up to his bedroom as soon as they got to his house, taking off his shoes and jacket before pulling the blankets over his body. She lovingly brushed the hair off his forehead before she placed a gentle kiss there. “I’m going to get you something to eat,” she said.

Max made a tortured face, shaking his head slightly. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

“I’ll just heat you up some soup and crackers, and if you don’t feel like eating right now, I’ll put it in the fridge for later,” Liz said quietly.

Max just nodded as he closed his eyes, to tired to say anything else.

Liz shook her head slightly as she stood up from the bed and backed out of the room, quietly closing the door behind her. She walked downstairs into the kitchen, where she set about making Max some tomato soup with crackers. She was halfway through heating the soup when she heard the front door open.

“Liz!” Diane said with shock after she walked into the kitchen.

“Hey,” Liz replied with a smile.

“Shouldn’t you be in school?” Diane asked as she placed her purse down on the counter.

“Yeah,” Liz replied with a nod. “But your son decided that he wasn’t really sick today, so he showed up for class.”

“Oh Max,” Diane said in that concerned, motherly voice. “Please tell me he didn’t.”

“He did,” Liz said with a nod. “And he also lost in when lunchtime rolled around.”

“Did he at least make it to the bathroom?” Diane asked.

“Yeah,” Liz answered. “Barely.”

“Well, I’m going to go up and check on him,” Diane said, rubbing Liz’s back briefly before leaving the room. A few minutes later, she returned.

“How is he?” Liz asked.

“He’s asleep,” Diane said with a sigh. “He really should try to eat something, even if it’s just saltines.”

“Do you think he’ll be able to keep it down?” Liz asked.

“Probably not,” Diane said. “But maybe he’ll feel better when he wakes up.”

“I’ll just put the soup in the fridge then,” Liz said, opening a drawer to get a bowl out.

“Why don’t you let me do that?” Diane said, taking the bowl from Liz. “I’m sure Max could use you right now, but I’m afraid that you’ll get sick if you go up there.”

“That’s a small price to pay,” Liz said with a smile. “Besides, if I get sick, Max will have to take care of me.”

“You do know how guilty he’ll feel if you actually catch the bug, don’t you?” Diane asked.

“Absolutely,” Liz said, her smile widening.

******************

A few hours later, Max slowly came around. He was lying on his side with his eyes closed, but he could feel someone running their hand through his hair. He wearily opened his eyes, finding that Liz was sitting next to him, working on her homework with one hand as she combed his hair back with the fingers on her other. He just watched her for a few minutes, smiling as he took in the look on concentration on her face.

Max finally made it known that he was awake, shifting onto his back as he took a deep breath.

“Hey you,” Liz said with a smile as she dropped her pen and turned her attention to Max. “How are you feeling?”

“A lot better, actually,” Max said as he closed his eyes, relaxing his body as he reached over and placed his hand on Liz’s leg. “What time is it?”

“Almost six,” Liz said.

Max’s eyes snapped open as he sat up in bed. “The game starts in an hour!” When he tried to get up from the bed, Liz grabbed his wrist and pulled him back down.

“Where do you think you’re going?” she asked.

“I need to get ready,” Max replied.

“I don’t think so,” Liz said with a laugh. “You’re not going anywhere until you’re better.”

“I am better,” Max said with a forced smile.

“Max,” Liz said with a sigh. “Your eyes are completely glossed over. I can tell that you still feel like crap.”

“I feel good enough to play,” Max said. “After that, I can stay home all day tomorrow and rest.”

“If you show up tonight,” Liz said, gently poking Max in the chest, “Coach Swain said he’ll make you run lines until graduation.”

“Sounds like fun,” Max said before he started to get dressed.

“Alright,” Liz said with another sigh. “You leave me no choice…Diane!!”

Max turned and playfully glared at Liz, unable to say anything before his mom walked in.

“Yes de…” Diane said as she walked in, her eyes narrowing when she saw that Max was dressed. “And just where do you think you’re going young man?” she asked as she placed her hands on her hips.

“Mom,” Max said, trying his hardest to ignore the smirk of triumph on Liz’s face. “I feel fine.”

“So you think you can go play a 32-minute basketball game?” Diane asked. “You haven’t eaten anything all day.”

“I’ll grab some crackers on my way out,” Max said, willing to say anything to get to the game.

“Crackers?” Liz asked with a laugh. “You think that crackers will give you all the energy you need?”

Max raised an eyebrow at Liz, silently telling her to stay out of it.

“Don’t you give me that look,” Liz said, folding her arms across her chest as she stood up next to Diane.

Max let out a sigh as he eyeballed the two stubborn women standing in front of him. “This is really important to me. I promise that after the game, I’ll stay in bed until I’ve completely recovered. Please…if I have to lay here all night, I’ll go crazy.”

Diane and Liz shared a look, knowing that what they were about to do went against their better judgment.

“Liz made some soup for you earlier this afternoon,” Diane said, her stance relaxing. “If you can keep that down, I’ll let you go to the game.”

Max looked at Liz, making sure that she agreed with his mom. “Liz?”

“Fine,” Liz said, rolling her eyes. “But if you barf out on the court, I’m going to be very upset.”

**************

Max somehow managed to keep the soup down, so it wasn’t long before he, along with his mom and Liz, were on their way to the game. Once they got to the locker room, he refused to give Liz a kiss, saying that he didn’t want her to get sick.

“I think it’s a little late for that,” Liz said with a smile. “I spent all afternoon in your room with you. If I’m going to get sick, it won’t be from a little kiss.”

Max couldn’t help but smile as he gave her a quick peck on the lips before he walked into the locker room. He was greeted by all the guys, every one of them surprised to see him there.

“Max!” Kyle said when his friend sat next to him and started to change into his uniform. “I thought you were taking the night off.”

“Nope,” Max said. “I slept for a few hours so I feel a lot better.”

“Max!” Coach Swain called out. “Get in here!”

Max looked over at Kyle, wondering why his coach sounded pissed. Kyle just shrugged in return, figuring that the best course of action to take was one of ignorance.

“What’s up coach?” Max asked after he walked into the coach’s office and shut the door.

“What are you doing here?” Coach Swain asked as he sat on the edge of his desk, folding his arms over his chest.

“We have a game to play,” Max said, confused by his question.

“I realize that,” Coach Swain said. “But that still doesn’t explain what you’re doing here. Did Liz tell you what would happen if you showed up tonight?”

“Well yeah, but…” Max said, unable to finish his sentence before his coach interrupted.

“So it looks like you want to run lines for the next four months then,” Coach Swain said as he pushed off his desk and walked up to Max. “As much as I love and admire your dedication, there’s one big question that I have to figure out now. Are you going to help or hurt our team if I put you out there tonight? You’re sick…that’s going to affect how well you play. Are you going to be there mentally, or are you going to have lapses that result in turnovers or baskets for the other team. Do you get what I’m saying?”

“Completely,” Max said. “I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. I still feel like crap, but I know that if I play tonight, I’ll get the job done. I can’t guarantee that I won’t have my moments of fatigue, because I know I will. But that won’t stop me from winning.”

Coach Swain stared at Max for a few seconds before he nodded. “Tell you what…you go ahead and suit up. I’ll watch you during warm-ups, and if I think your good enough to go, I’ll play you.”

“Thanks coach,” Max said before he walked out of the office.

*************

“I can’t believe he’s going to try and play,” Isabel said as the entire group sat up in the bleachers.

“He’s got guts,” Alex said.

“What he’s got is a lack of brain cells,” Maria said. “Liz, how could you let him come here? That boy should be at home sleeping right now.”

“Yeah, I’d like to see you try and stop him once he’s made up his mind,” Liz said sarcastically. “Trust me, there’s nothing I could have done to keep him away from here, apart from handcuffing him to the bed.”

“Which wouldn’t have been a bad idea,” Maria said.

Before the conversation could continue, the warm-up music began, followed closely by the locker room door opening and the Roswell Comets running out onto the floor.

“So where is wonder boy?” Maria asked, noticing that Max wasn’t out on the court yet.

“Probably getting his ankles taped,” Michael said.

“Or maybe he’s puking,” Alex offered.

“Why does he have to be so hard headed?” Liz asked as she turned to Diane.

Diane just shrugged. “Sports are important to him. If he decides not to play in college, this could be the last game he’ll ever play in again that actually means something to him.”

Everyone turned towards the locker room when Max walked out, accompanied by his coach.

“He still looks like shit,” Michael commented.

Max jogged over and started to warm-up with the rest of the team, visibly slower than usual.

“Do you think Swain will play him?” Alex asked to no one in particular.

“We’ll find out soon enough,” Isabel said.

Several minutes later, the two teams finished stretching and made their way back to the benches. It wasn’t long before one of the faculty members came over the PA system to read off the starting lineups.

“…number 11, Kyle Valenti! At the other guard, number 32, Max Evans!”

“I guess that answers my question,” Alex said.

As Max took off his warm-up pants and shirt, he glanced up at Liz and offered her a smile. She smiled in return, still wishing that he would have stayed home. The game started, and it took about three minutes before Coach Swain took Max out for a break. He walked over to the end of the bench, where the coach had strategically put a bucket just in case Max felt the urge to upchuck. He draped a towel over his head as he leaned forward in his seat, not paying the least bit of attention to the game.

After he rested for a minute or two, he threw the towel behind him and walked over to the scores table to check into the game. This time he lasted until the end of the first quarter, where he again walked over to the end of the bench and put the towel over his head. One of the assistant coaches walked over and sat next to him, holding an ice pack to the back of his neck. When the second quarter started, Max stood up and walked back out onto the court.

Liz couldn’t believe how well Max was playing, especially when she took into account his physical state. He was playing one of the best games she had ever seen him play, and he was getting better and better as the game went on. By halftime, Roswell was only leading by five, 38-33, but Max had managed to score 18 of those 38 points.

“Apparently he plays better when he’s sick,” Michael said as he stood up to stretch.

“Yeah, and I haven’t seen him puke yet,” Alex added, earning him a smack from Isabel.

“He’s almost out of gas,” Liz said as she turned and looked at Diane, her eyes showing her concern.

“You noticed that too, huh?” Diane asked before she wrapped her arm around Liz’s shoulders. “And the worst part is that we both know he’s going to push himself until he can’t walk anymore if that’s what it takes to win.”

“Hey Liz,” Maria said, interrupting her conversation with Diane. “Isn’t that your parents over there?”

Liz followed Maria’s gaze, her eyes widening when she noticed that her mom and dad were standing next to the entrance, obviously looking for her. “I’ll be right back,” she said before she stood up and walked over to them. “Mom, dad, what are you doing here?”

Jeff and Nancy smiled at their daughter. “We’ve never seen Max play before, so your father closed the restaurant early.”

“Oh,” Liz said, shocked to say the least.

“Is it okay if we come sit by you?” Jeff asked, pointing over to her group of friends in the stands.

“Uh…yeah, yeah come on,” Liz said before she led the way over.

“Jeff, Nancy,” Diane said as she stood up to greet Liz’s parents. “It’s good to see you.”

After everyone was seated again, Nancy next to Diane and Jeff next to Liz and Michael, they all talked amongst themselves until the locker room doors opened and the Comets came back out.

“Where’s Max?” Jeff asked.

“Probably in the locker room throwing up,” Michael said. Jeff glanced over at him in confusion, so Michael clarified. “The boy’s sick as a dog.”

“And he’s still playing?” Jeff asked.

“Stupid, isn’t it?” Liz asked.

Before Jeff could respond, Max walked out with his warm-ups on, obviously trying to keep from catching a chill.

“He doesn’t look so hot,” Jeff commented as he watched Max sit down on the bench.

The second half started much like the first half did. Max had his moments of fatigue, taking himself out of the game periodically so he could rest. He ended up playing the entire fourth quarter, solely because the game was close. In the end, Roswell won by six, 77-71, with Max scoring 41 of the teams 77 points.

As soon as the buzzer sounded, Kyle excitedly hurried over and pulled him into a hug, then wrapped his arm around his friends’ waist after Max practically collapsed in his arms. “Easy does it,” Kyle said as he sat Max down on the bench, holding the pack of ice on the back of his neck for him.

“Kyle,” Coach Swain said. “Help him into the locker room.”

Kyle nodded, doing exactly what his coach told him to.

“Wow,” Jeff said as everyone stood up and gathered their things. “Is everyone going to wait for him and Kyle to come out?”

“Yeah,” Liz said. “But you don’t have to.”

“No, no,” Jeff said as he walked toward the exit with his daughter. “I’d like to, if that’s alright with you. I just want to make sure that he’s alright and doesn’t need anything.”

Liz smiled up at her dad, thankful that he was showing concern for Max. Maybe telling her parents about the wedding wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all. But then again…

To Be Continued…

posted on 13-Nov-2001 4:33:25 PM by Fanatic101
Authors Note: I didn't have time to proof-read this part, so I apologize for any spelling or grammar errors.

Part 22

Max’s illness passed, but not before he gave it to Liz. She never got as sick as he did, but she still threw up a couple of times.

Max felt horrible. He was by her side the entire time, doing everything and anything she asked him to. Liz milked it for all it was worth, taking full advantage of his willingness to make it up to her. Max knew exactly what she was doing, but he didn’t care. He wanted to be at her beck and call.

It didn’t take long before Liz got over the flu and everything went back to normal.

Then the time had come.

Max and Liz opted to tell Diane about the wedding first, knowing that out of all the parents involved, she would come around the quickest.

Both teenagers were sitting on the couch in Max’s house as Diane brought them some tea. She set the drinks down on the table before she sat in the armchair next to Max. “So, what did you want to talk to me about?” she asked with a smile.

“Mom,” Max said, turning in his seat to face her, “I…well we…” he took a deep breath as he tried to find the courage to go on.

Liz reached over and started to rub his back, hoping that the contact would relax him.

Max looked back up at his mom again before he went on. “I asked Liz to marry me and she said yes.” Both he and Liz sat there, waiting for the verbal eruption that they were certain was coming their way.

Diane nodded as she took a sip of her tea. She set her mug down before she gave Max and Liz her full attention. “Okay.”

Max was too shocked to say anything, and all Liz could manage was one word. “Okay?”

“Okay,” Diane repeated.

“No, you don’t understand,” Max said with a smile, his ability to speak finally returning to him. Apparently his mom didn’t understand what he had just said. “Liz and I are getting married. As in husband and wife.”

“Okay,” Diane repeated, this time with a smile.

“What?” Max asked, confused. “Wait…you’re supposed to get upset.”

“Would it make you feel better if I yelled at you?” Diane asked.

“Well…no,” Max said. “But the fact that you’re taking this so calmly makes me question whether or not you realize what I just told you.”

“Max,” Diane said with a smile. “I’ve known you two were engaged for over a month now.”

“What…huh…who…how?” Max finally asked.

“I found out from Mr. Pagalleri, the owner of the jewelry store that you bought Liz’s ring from,” Diane said. “I went in last month to have him fix the lock on one of my bracelets that broke when he congratulated me. He went on to mention that you were in there just a few weeks earlier and had purchased an engagement ring.”

“Well…why didn’t you say anything?” Max asked.

“I was going to,” Diane said truthfully. “But I decided to give myself time to adjust to the news before I brought it up. I didn’t want my motherly instinct to kick in and cause me to say something I’d regret later. To be honest, I wasn’t too happy about it at first, but I realized that you’re both going to be eighteen very soon. You can legally do anything you want, apart from drinking at the ceremony.”

“So you’re okay with this?” Max asked.

“I am now,” Diane said. “It didn’t take me too long to realize that you picked the perfect young woman to marry. Now if you were engaged to a girl who had pink hair, tattoos, and a nose ring, I’d have my reservations. But I love you both, and I know that this wasn’t a decision that you rushed in to. You’re both responsible and over the past few months, I’ve seen that the two of you fit together like two pieces of a puzzle.”

“So the fact that we’ve only been dating for six months doesn’t bother you?” Liz asked.

“Should it?” Diane asked back.

“I know my parents will bring it up when we tell them,” Liz said.

“To be honest, the one thing that bothered me the most was that you’re both so young,” Diane said. “But you’re also both so mature for your age.”

“That’s what I keep telling people who bring up the age issue,” Max said.

Diane smiled at her son. “After your father proposed to me, he said the exact same thing to his parents. That age didn’t matter, it was the maturity level that did. You get that from him.”

“So you’re really okay with this, aren’t you?” Max asked as a smile lit up his face.

“Well, I’ve had over a month to come to terms with it,” Diane said. “So…congratulations.” She stood up and hugged Max first, then Liz.

“So you’ve know all this time, and you were still nice to me?” Liz asked.

“Liz,” Diane said with a smile. “I love you. I think you’re perfect for Max. I’ve thought that since the very beginning.”

“Thank you,” Liz said, her smile lighting up her entire face.

“No, thank you,” Diane said, “for making him happy. Welcome to the family.”

Max wrapped his arm around Liz’s shoulders as a sense of relief flooded through his body.

“So let me see this ring that cost more than I care to mention,” Diane said, glaring at Max out of the corner of her eye.

Liz gladly took her necklace off and placed the ring on her finger, holding it up for Diane to see.

“Oh my,” Diane said as she covered her heart with one hand, gently grabbing Liz’s hand with the other. She looked up at Max with a smile as she shook her head slightly. “You certainly inherited my ability to choose jewelry. Your father never was very good at it. This is gorgeous,” she said, turning her attention back to the ring.

Liz looked up at Max. The smile of love and affection that she gave him was almost enough to bring him to his knees. What he loved most was that mixed in with that love and affection was a gleam of excitement. He could tell that she was feeling the exact same thing he was…now that one of their parents knew about it, it seemed so much more real. “Love you,” he mouthed to her.

“Love you,” Liz mouthed back, tucking her hair behind her ear before she turned to Diane. It didn’t take long before the two women were throwing out ideas for the wedding - where it would be held, what Liz’s dress would look like, where the reception would be after that…ect., ect., ect.

Max just sat back and listened to the two of them with a smile on his face, loving every second of it.

***************

“I need to talk to you guys,” Liz said as she nervously started to pace the length of the room. “Now I know that you’re probably going to flip out, but you need to know this,” she rubbed her palms together as she tried to swallow past the lump in her throat. “Max and I have…we’ve decided to get married. Now before you say anything, I need you to know how much I love him. I know you’re going to say that I’m rushing into this, but I’m not. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I know that he’s the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. I know this must be a shock for you guys, but I need you to support me on this. I need you guys to be there for the wedding, and I know this is a little much to ask of you right now, but eventually I need you to be happy for me.”

“Sounds good, chica,” Maria said as she sat on Liz’s bed.

“You think so?” Liz asked as she stopped pacing.

“Personally, I think that given a day or two, you’re parents will be fine,” Maria said. “I don’t see why you think you need to practice what you’re going to tell them. If they can’t see that you and Max are madly in love, then they need to have their eyes checked. Besides, isn’t Max going to be there with you anyway?”

“Well, yeah he is, but--” Liz began to say.

“Then let him do the talking,” Maria said.

“Let him do the talking,” Liz repeated, looking at Maria as if she were insane. “Do you realize what my dad would do to him?”

“Relax,” Maria said with a laugh. “Just keep Prince Charming behind you and everything will be fine. That way, if your dad charges after him, you can give Max a head start for the door while you try and slow your dad down.”

“This isn’t funny, Maria,” Liz said as she plopped down on the bed next to her.

“I’m sorry,” Maria said with another laugh. “Look…both your parents love Max. Hell, everyone loves Max. Just tell them what you feel, sit back for the initial outburst that we both know will be coming from your dad, then wait until he calms down.”

“You’re supposed to say that my parents are going to handle the news a lot better than I think they are,” Liz said, looking at Maria. “Then you’re supposed to say that everything will work out.”

“Babe,” Maria said with a smile, reaching over and placing her hand on Liz’s knee. “We both know that your dad’s going to flip out at first. You need to realize that so you can be prepared.”

“I know,” Liz said as she slumped her shoulders.

“But the good news is that you have Diane on your side,” Maria said. “If your mom or dad need help dealing, they can talk to her.”

“True,” Liz said. “Unless my dad kills Max.”

“Relax,” Maria said, gently rubbing Liz’s shoulders. “Speaking of Max, what time is he coming over?”

Liz glanced at the clock before she looked out the window. “He should be on his way over right now.”

“And you’re sure you want to tell them tonight?” Maria asked.

“I figure it’s the best time to,” Liz said. “We have school tomorrow, so they can’t keep me up all night, yelling at me. And they can’t kill Max either because the teachers will notice if he doesn’t show up for school.”

“You worry too much,” Maria said.

“Wouldn’t you?” Liz asked.

Maria looked up at the ceiling as she thought about the question. “Yeah…I’d be freaked about telling my mom.”

“Liz!” Nancy called from the living room. “Max is here!”

“Showtime,” Maria said with a smile. Before she walked out with Liz, she gave her friend a hug. “Call me tonight and let me know how it went.”

“I will,” Liz promised. “If I’m still alive.”

************

Jeff and Nancy were seated on the couch as Max and Liz sat in the two chairs on the other side of the coffee table, facing Liz’s parents.

“What did you want to talk about?” Nancy asked.

Jeff could tell that both Max and Liz were extremely nervous, so he immediately feared the worst. He could feel his face heating up as he glared at Max, positive that the kid sitting in front of him was about to tell him that he had gotten his one and only daughter pregnant.

Max saw the way Jeff was glaring at him, and he felt the sudden urge to bolt.

“Did you get my daughter pregnant?” Jeff bit out, his jaw clenched.

“What!” both Max and Liz exclaimed at the same time.

“Dad!” Liz said, shocked by his outburst. “Not like it’s any of your business, but Max and I haven’t even been together like that.”

“So you’re not pregnant?” Jeff asked, looking at Liz for the first time.

“God no!” Liz exclaimed. “Why would you think that?”

Jeff closed his eyes briefly as his anger left him, his face returning to its normal color. “I’m sorry,” he said, looking at Max. “I just saw the uncertain look on both your faces, so I thought the worst.”

That little outburst didn’t make Liz feel any better about what she was about to confess.

“What did you want to talk about?” Jeff asked with a smile.

Max was sufficiently wigged out. He could feel the sweat beading up on his forehead as his breathing became irregular.

Liz took a few deep breaths before she faced her parents. “Max and I are getting married,” she rushed out, not only surprising Max to no end, but herself as well.

Max cautioned a glance at Jeff, who was now staring back at him in disbelief. It took a minute, but eventually the same look of protectiveness crossed his face again.

“Dad,” Liz said, noticing the look as well. She got up and protectively stood in front of Max, not wanting him to be the target of her father’s wrath. If her dad was upset, which she would understand, she wanted him to take it out on her, not Max.

“Max,” Jeff said as he stood up and made his way towards the door. “Could I have a word with you?”

“No you can’t,” Liz said as Max stood up. She reached behind her and looped a couple of her fingers into one of the belt loops on Max’s jeans to keep him next to her. “You can talk to us…together.”

“It’s okay,” Max whispered into Liz’s hear so only she could hear him. “If he tries to kill me, I’ll just use my alien powers to protect myself.”

Liz turned and looked at Max, making sure he was really comfortable with the idea of talking to her dad alone. “Are you sure?” she asked quietly.

“No,” Max said after taking another look at Jeff. “But at least I’ll earn his respect if I do. I’ve got to start somewhere,” he said with a shrug.

“You don’t have to—” Liz said, stopping short when Max placed his index finger against her lips.

“I’ll be okay,” he said with a smile. “Just think, after this it only gets easier…I hope.”

Liz nodded as she let Max go, watching as he walked out of the house and down to the restaurant, followed by her dad. She took a deep breath before she turned to face her mom, who still hadn’t said anything. “Mom?” she asked as she sat next to her.

Nancy just looked at Liz as her eyes filled with tears. “Not yet.”

“Huh?” Liz asked, confused by what she meant by that.

“You can’t get married yet,” Nancy said. “You’re still my baby girl.”

“Mom,” Liz said, leaning over and pulling her into a hug. “It’s not like you’re going to lose me.”

“But that’s what it feels like,” Nancy said as she clung to her daughter. “You’re too young to get married.”

“I’m almost eighteen,” Liz said. “And I think you know that it wouldn’t matter if I waited until I was twenty-five because I’d still marry Max.”

Nancy just nodded as a tear ran down her cheek. She pulled back and looked at Liz before she spoke again. “Just give me some time to deal with this, okay?”

“Sure,” Liz said, thankful that her mom was taking the news relatively well, considering the way her dad was reacting. “I need you’re support on this mom. Both you and dad.”

Nancy smiled as she brushed some of Liz’s hair behind her ear. “I know. Just give me some time.”

*************

Jeff had led Max into the restaurant and was currently getting them something to drink while Max waited at the counter. He gave Max a soda, but laced his own drink with a generous about of alcohol.

“So you think you’re getting married, huh?” Jeff asked after he sat down next to Max.

“Mr. Parker—” Max began, unable to get anything else out before Jeff spoke again.

“She’s my only daughter, Max,” Jeff continued as if Max hadn’t said anything. “I’ll do anything to keep her safe, especially when I think she’s making the wrong choice. She’s not even eighteen years old yet, and you two are already talking about making a life long commitment. Neither of you are ready for this.”

“Yes we are,” Max said. “Age doesn’t matter. Maturity does.”

“Maturity, huh?” Jeff asked as he looked at Max. “Tell me, Max…do you even have a plan for the future? Are you going to be able to give my daughter everything she needs? You’re just barely turning eighteen yourself. How could you possibly sit there and tell me that you can support her?”

“I know I can support her,” Max said, not liking the way the conversation was going.

“Oh can you now,” Jeff asked, his voice slowly rising. “I doubt you could even support yourself without your mom’s help. If the two of you get married, you’re on your own. No help for school, no help for housing…nothing. But you’re convinced that you’ll be fine, huh?”

Max just stared at Jeff for the longest time, trying to figure out exactly what he was mad about. “Why are you lashing out at me?”

“Because you’re the one my daughter’s thinking about marrying,” Jeff yelled. “I’m sure you’re the one who put these ideas in her head. Liz is a responsible person, so I know there’s no way she would agree to this without being pressured into it. I’m not going to let you push her into this, Max.”

By this time, Jeff’s voice had raised to the point that Liz and Nancy could hear it up in the house. They both came down and stood in the doorway, watching as Jeff lashed out at Max. Liz was about to rush in and defend her fiancé when, much to her surprise, Max lost his temper.

“You know what?” Max asked as he stood up, knocking his stool over in the process. “I’m not pushing her into anything; she can think for herself. As far as your other concerns go, I can provide for Liz. I can give her anything she needs, anything she wants. She understands that we’re in this together and that no matter what happens, we can deal with it if we’re together. The fact that we’re young has no bearing as far as we’re concerned.”

“The fact that your young has everything—” Jeff began, looking up at Max in shock when the teenager interrupted him.

“You’ve got blinders on,” Max continued in frustration. “Both Liz and I are going to Stanford to get the best education possible, yet all you can focus on is the fact that we’ll be going there together. You sit there and lash out at me, acting as if Liz doesn’t have a mind of her own. Did you ever think that maybe she wants this to happen? Does her happiness even matter to you, because it sure as hell matters to me.”

“How dare you stand there and question whether or not I care about my daughters happiness,” Jeff said as he stood up and faced Max.

Liz started walking into the room, stopping when she saw Max hold up his hand, telling her to stay where she was. “If her happiness is so important to you, then why are you trying to take that away from her? Whether you want to admit it or not, we love each other and we’ll get married with or without your blessing. I know that it would mean the world to Liz if you were there, but I’m not going to bend over backwards to get on your good side if this is how you’re going to treat her.”

“I think it would be best if you left,” Jeff said, his face red from anger.

“No dad,” Liz said, rushing over to Max, grabbing his hand.

Max and Jeff were still glaring at each other, but Max spoke softly, not wanting to yell anymore. “When I first moved here, both you and Nancy treated me as if I were your own. You have no idea how much that meant to me as I tried to deal with my own dad’s death.” His eyes started tearing up, mostly from frustration, but he refused to let them fall. “Every time I came over here, I felt the same kindness from you that my dad used to give me, the same sense of protection. There’s not a soul on this planet who could even come close to taking his place, but you were the closest that anyone could possibly come. You were the one person who I felt could fill just a tiny bit of the void that was left when he died.” He looked away briefly before he let out a laugh. “And to think, I was actually excited about becoming a part of your family. I was excited about getting back just a little bit of what I lost six months ago…a dad. I guess I was wrong.” With that, Max let go of Liz’s hand and ran out of the restaurant before he completely lost it.

“Max!” Liz called after him, running out the door. She wasn’t able to stop him before he climbed into his car and sped off. She took a deep breath as she watched him drive away, pure unadulterated anger coursing through her as she turned back to confront her father. She walked right up to him, looked him straight in the eyes, and said in a calm voice, “I hope you’re happy. If you’ve ruined this for me and Max, I’ll never forgive you.” With that, she walked past her parents and up to her room to get dressed. She had to find Max.

Jeff let out a sigh as he hung his head, rubbing at his eyes with his thumb and index finger. He looked over at his wife, who was still staring at him in disbelief. “Not my finest hour, huh?” he asked.

“Who are you?” Nancy asked as she walked up to him.

“I don’t know,” Jeff said, looking out the door that Max had just run out of. “But I can’t help the way I feel. They’re just not ready for that kind of commitment.”

“They’re not ready?” Nancy asked. “Or could it be that you’re not ready?”

Jeff thought about the question but remained silent.

“Do you remember the way my dad reacted when we told him about our engagement?” Nancy asked.

“How could I forget?” Jeff said with a smile. “He reacted…well, he reacted the exact same way I just did. At least now I know what he was feeling.”

“Yeah, but do you remember what you told me that very same night?” Nancy asked. When Jeff didn’t answer, she did. “You said that you would never react that way when our children told us that they were getting married.”

Jeff just looked down at his feet, unable to respond.

“Just remember the way you felt when my dad blew his top, then multiply it by a million,” Nancy said. “That should give you some idea of how Max is feeling right now. At least my dad never cornered you and questioned your intentions or doubted your ability to give me the kind of future I wanted.” She rubbed her husbands arm and gave him a weak smile before she made her way back up to the living room, leaving Jeff alone in the restaurant.

*************

“Liz!” Diane said from her seat at the dinner table, surprised to see the teenager walk into the room.

“Hi,” Liz said as she tucked her hair behind her ears. “Do you know where Max is?”

“I thought he was with you,” Diane said in confusion. “Is something wrong?”

“You could say that,” Liz said, her eyes misting up.

“Oh honey,” Diane said, rushing over to Liz’s side. “What’s wrong?”

“My parents,” Liz said, fighting back her tears. “We told them about the wedding and…well, my dad blew his lid and took it all out on Max.”

“Oh no,” Diane said, leading Liz into the living room. After they sat down on the couch, Diane waited until Liz was ready to talk.

“The worst part is that it’s all my fault,” Liz said.

“Why would it be your fault?” Diane asked gently.

“I’m the one who left Max alone with my dad,” Liz said as a single tear ran down her cheek. “I never should have left him alone.”

Diane started to rub Liz’s back in comfort, her heart going out to the young woman. “Don’t blame yourself. You had no idea that your dad was going to react that way.”

“That’s just it,” Liz said. “I could tell that he was upset, yet I still let Max talk to him alone.”

“I know this may be hard for you to believe, but your dad reacted that way because he cares about you,” Diane said.

Liz let out a laugh. “He’s sure got a funny way of showing it.”

“He’s just scared,” Diane said. “He’s afraid that you’re not thinking things through. Just give him some time.”

“I don’t care if he’s scared or not, he had no right to blow up at Max like that,” Liz said. “He had to right to make Max feel as though he wasn’t good enough for me.”

Diane decided not to say anything else about her dad. Liz was obviously very upset with him. “What about your mom? How did she handle it?”

“A lot better than my dad,” Liz said. “She told me that all she needed was time to deal with the news, but that she’d support my decision.”

Diane nodded. “All I needed was a little time myself. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your mom comes around.”

“I hope so,” Liz said.

“And I’m sure that once your dad calms down a bit, he’ll see things more clearly and won’t let his protectiveness cloud his mind,” Diane said with a smile.

“He better,” Liz said.

“Now…if you want to find Max, I have two suggestions,” Diane said. “Try the basketball court in the park, and if he’s not there, try Ironworks Gym.”

“Ironworks Gym?” Liz asked.

“It’s a boxing gym down on Monroe St.,” Diane said. “They’re closed for the night, but Mr. Phillips, the owner, gave Max a key to the place because he helps out whenever he can. He absolutely loves Max.”

“Thanks for everything,” Liz said before she stood up and walked out to her car.

Diane shook her head as she watched Liz drive off. Maybe she could meet with the Parkers and discuss things, hopefully helping them deal with their concerns.

**************

Liz checked the park first, finding that Max was nowhere in site. She followed Diane’s directions over to Ironworks Gym, letting out a sigh of relief when she spotted Max’s car parked out front. She parked right next to him and slowly made her way inside the gym. She saw Max off in the far corner, wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and shoes, along with some boxing gloves, hitting the heavy bag. She slowly walked over to where he was, not sure what to say. “Hey.”

“Hey,” Max replied without stopping his movements.

“How are you?” Liz asked.

“How do you think?” Max replied, a little harsher than he intended.

Liz nervously tucked her hair behind her ears as she tried to find the right thing to say. “I…I’m sorry about my dad.” When Max didn’t say anything, she went on. “I never should have left you alone with him.” When Max still refused to say anything, just continued to hit the bag, Liz didn’t know what to do. “Would you please say something?” she asked with a tiny laugh.

“What do you want me to say Liz?” Max asked in frustration as he momentarily stopped hitting the bag and held out his arms.

“Max, please don’t take your anger out on me,” Liz said, her voice a little shaky.

Max closed his eyes as he leaned over to rest his forehead against the bag. “I’m sorry,” he said before he walked over and pulled Liz into a hug. “I just don’t know what to do anymore.”

“Just don’t shut me out,” Liz said as she clung to him, not caring that he was a little sweaty.

“I didn’t mean to,” Max said. “I just…what you’re dad said really hit me hard. But as long as I still have you, I’ll be fine.”

They stood there in silence, holding each other for several minutes as they gave each other comfort.

“We’ll get through this, Max,” Liz said forcefully. “I promise.”

To Be Continued…

posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:09:48 PM by Fanatic101
I already posted part 23 on another thread, but I'll post it again just in case anyone missed it.

Part 23

The next week was really hard for Max, especially when it came to avoiding Jeff Parker. Every time he went over to pick Liz up, he refused to go inside, and in some cases, refused to even get out of the car.

The whole situation was tearing at Liz’s heart. She wanted everyone to get along, but she also realized that wasn’t a possibility at the moment. Her dad had yet to apologize for anything he said to Max, so she in turn refused to talk to him. Her mom was coming around a lot quicker than she expected, just like Diane said she would. The two mom’s even met for lunch one day to discuss the wedding arrangements.

Max was thankful that he still had basketball to concentrate on. The state tournament was just around the corner, so Coach Swain had them practicing more than usual. The tournament was going to be held at the University of New Mexico, located in Albuquerque. The entire basketball team was going to have the week of the tournament off from school; the number of days they were going to miss depending on how far they went. There were some students who wanted to go, and as long as they had a B average, they were allowed to miss school as well. The school administration was extremely lenient, seeing as how this was the first time that the basketball team, either guys or girls, made it to State in over ten years.

“Are you guys excited?” Maria asked Max and Kyle as the group sat around at lunchtime. “You get to leave for State tomorrow morning.”

“Hell yeah,” Kyle said enthusiastically. “We’re going to kick some ass.”

All eyes shifted to Max when he didn’t respond. His eyes were downcast as he pushed his food around with a French fry, obviously not paying attention.

Liz nudged him with her elbow, causing him to blink out of his trance and look over at her. “Huh?”

“Maria just asked if you were excited about State,” Liz said.

“Oh,” Max said, turning to Maria. “Sorry. Yeah…it’ll be great.” He tried to sound as upbeat as he could, but he didn’t do a very good job of it.

“Something bugging you Maxwell?” Michael asked. In reality he knew exactly what was wrong with him, just like everyone else in the group did. He just thought that maybe Max would feel better if he got it off his chest.

“No,” Max said with a slight shake of his head. “Listen, I’ve got to go talk to Mr. Sellinger about the assignments I’m going to miss,” he said as he stood up. “I’ll talk to you guys later.” He leaned over and gave Liz a quick kiss before he threw his trash away and walked out of the cafeteria.

“He’s not taking this too well is he?” Alex asked once Max was out of earshot.

“Not at all,” Isabel replied. “And he won’t talk about it either. Has he opened up to you at all?” she asked, her question directed at Liz.

Liz shook her head. “Sometimes when he comes to pick me up, he won’t even walk up to my door. He doesn’t want to take the chance that my dad will answer.”

“What about you?” Maria asked. “How are you holding up?”

“I’m trying to keep it together, but I can’t at times,” Liz said. “I hate what my dad did to Max, and I hate that Max won’t even look at my dad anymore.”

“Is your dad ready to apologize?” Tess asked.

“I doubt it,” Liz replied. “But I don’t know. I haven’t really talked to him lately. You know, of all the scenarios and all the nightmares I had about telling my parents about the wedding, never once did I think it would turn out this bad.”

“But look at your mom,” Maria said. “She’s actually excited about it now.”

“How do you know?” Liz asked in confusion.

“Because she talked my mom’s ear off for an hour,” Maria said. “She gave away every detail so far, down to the brand of champagne that’s going to be served at the reception.”

Liz couldn’t help but smile. Now that she thought about it, her mom was a lot more upbeat that she normally was. Hopefully she could pass some of that on to her dad.

*************

The next morning, the basketball team was on the bus, driving to Albuquerque for the State tournament. Max was sitting towards the front, staring blankly out the window, while most of the other players were in the back, as far away from the coaches as possible.

“Got a minute?” Coach Swain asked before he sat next to Max.

“Sure,” Max said, glad that he could focus on something other that his thoughts.

“I know this may not be any of my business, but you’ve been somewhere else for the past two weeks,” Coach Swain said. “Even in practice it just seems like your going through the motions.”

“I’ve just had a lot on my mind,” Max said. “But I’ll be focused come game time.”

“I heard about the problem you’re having with Liz’s parents,” Coach Swain said. “Kyle was concerned, so he brought it to my attention.”

“I’ll be fine,” Max said.

“I know,” Coach Swain said with a nod. “But I just thought that I’d give you a little insight about parenting. I have a five year old daughter myself, and just the thought that someone out there is going to marry her one day makes my blood boil a little. As a father, nobody will ever be good enough for her, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to hate the person she chooses. All it takes is time to adjust.”

“That’s what everyone keeps telling me,” Max said. “But it doesn’t change what he said.”

“I don’t know what he said, but I can see that whatever it was is really affecting you,” Coach Swain said. “All I’m saying is that when he finally comes around, I hope you’ll give him a second chance. I hope you’ll give him the chance to make things better.”

Max nodded, but remained silent.

“Just hang in there,” Coach Swain said, patting Max on the back before he got up and walked back to his seat in the front of the bus.

Max glanced out the window again, turning his head when he felt someone sit next to him.

“I hope you’re not pissed that I told him,” Kyle said, pointing to their coach.

“Nah,” Max said with a slight shake of his head.

“Listen, if you want to talk about—” Kyle began, stopping when Max interrupted him.

“I don’t,” Max said, looking Kyle directly in the eyes.

“Okay,” Kyle said with a smile. “So…about the game tonight…” If Max didn’t want to talk about it, Kyle figured the least he could do was distract him so he didn’t think about it either.

***************

The rest of the gang - Liz, Maria, Tess, Alex, Isabel and Michael - all drove over to Albuquerque together. Since nobody owned a Suburban, they had to take two cars in order to fit everyone. They arrived on the campus of the University of New Mexico about twenty minutes before Roswell was scheduled to play. They all paid their admission fees and made their way over to the Comets cheering section. There was quite a turnout from Roswell, many of the citizens taking interest in the team. After everyone took their seats, they all made small talk while they waited for the game to start.

“Well, well…look who’s here,” Maria said with a smile, causing everyone to turn and look.

“Mom!” Liz exclaimed when Nancy walked over and sat next to her daughter. “What are you doing here?”

“Isn’t Max playing tonight?” Nancy asked.

“Well, yeah but…what about dad?” Liz asked, noticing that both Diane and Jim Valenti were there as well.

“Your dad’s covering the restaurant for the night,” Nancy said.

“So he’s not here?” Liz asked. She was kind of relieved because she didn’t want to be forced to talk to him.

“No, sorry,” Nancy said.

Before Liz could respond, the Roswell basketball team came out onto the court. She turned and shared a look with Maria when she noticed that everyone on the team was wearing matching headbands, including Max and Kyle. All she could do was shake her head and smile.

Michael noticed the headbands as well, but his response was a bit different from Liz’s. “What the hell is that?” he asked, earning him a smack from Maria.

“Watch your mouth!” she said, giving the parents an apologetic look.

“It’s pretty corny if you ask me, but I’m not the one in charge,” Isabel said.

They continued to talk until the game started, then turned their attention towards the court and cheered their friends along.

**************

Roswell ended up winning the first game rather easily, along with the second. But the third game, for the state championship, was a real nail biter. The score bounced back and forth so many times, it was hard to keep track of who was winning.

The fourth and final quarter started with Roswell leading by three points, but that lead only lasted for a minute. Michael and Alex were on the edge of their seats the entire night, cheering one second then booing the next. As the game neared the end, the scoring margin became greater…with Roswell coming out on the short end of the stick. When the final minute came, the deficit was large enough for Coach Swain to put in a substitute for Kyle, just so he could get a round of applause from the crowd. Kyle hugged his coach as he made his way to the bench, clearly upset that they were about to lose.

With about twenty seconds left, Coach Swain did the exact same thing for Max.

Max glanced over at the scorer’s table when he heard his teammate call out his name and point to him, indicating that he was being taken out. He slowly walked over to the bench, getting a hug from the player who came in to sub for him. Everyone who was sitting in the Roswell section, along with some who weren’t, gave him a standing ovation. He walked up to Coach Swain and gave him a hug, his throat too tight to say anything. He slowly made his way towards the end of the bench to where Kyle was sitting. The two friends hugged, both sharing the same painful feeling of defeat.

“We gave it a good run,” Kyle said, his voice choked up.

“Yeah we did,” Max replied, his voice sounding a lot like Kyle’s.

When the buzzer sounded, signaling the end of the game, the other team started jumping up and down in triumph while the Comets all hung their heads in defeat as they huddled around their coach.

“I don’t want to see anyone hang their heads,” Coach Swain said. “We had a hell of a season and each one of you should be proud of what we accomplished. Walk off this court with pride, with your heads held high.”

The two teams lined up to shake hands before Roswell made it’s way back to the locker room, leaving the victorious team out on the court to celebrate.

Max glanced over at Liz, who was standing right next to the entrance of the locker room. She reached over and held out her hand, which he grabbed and held briefly before he walked in to change.

“Poor guys,” Maria said. “They came so close.”

*************

As the stadium slowly emptied, leaving only the friends and family members of the players, the gang all hung around on the side of the court while they waited for Max and Kyle. They watched as each player from Roswell came out one by one, leaving only Max, Kyle and Coach Swain unaccounted for. It wasn’t until all the other players walked outside and boarded the bus that the other three came out.

Coach Swain was the first to appear, shaking hands with Jim, letting him know that Max and Kyle would still be a few minutes before he walked outside and climbed onto the bus.

Everyone waited another five minutes before the only two remaining players finally came out. Both Max and Kyle were fighting back tears as they approached the group, their eyes red from crying.

Kyle hugged his father as a new wave of tears came on, quietly crying on his shoulder. Tess stood next to him and rubbed his back in comfort, waiting for him to turn and give her a hug.

Max clenched his jaw to fight back his own tears as Michael, Maria, Alex and Isabel all gave him a quick hug in turn. When he got to his mom, his brow furrowed together as it became increasingly harder for him to hold back his emotions. As soon as she pulled him into a hug, he lost it. He let out a sob as he clung to his mom, wishing that his high school basketball career would have ended differently.

He pulled back and glanced over his mom’s shoulder, noticing that Liz was waiting for him to finish with everyone else so she could have him all to herself. He smiled as he walked up to her, dropping his duffel bag before he reached out and pulled her into a hug so fierce, he actually lifted her off the ground.

“I love you,” Liz whispered into his ear before she placed a gentle kiss on his neck.

Max wasn’t able to say anything in return, fearing that he would start sobbing again if he tried. He just closed his eyes as he clung to Liz, knowing that she could make everything better by simply being the person she was. After holding her for a few minutes, he finally spoke. “You know what we need to do?” he asked, not even pulling back so much as an inch.

“What’s that?” Liz replied, placing another kiss on his neck.

“We need to have some fun tonight,” Max said.

“That’s quite a mood change there,” Liz said with a smile. “Are you sure you’re up for it?”

“Absolutely,” Max said, finally putting Liz back on her feet. “What do you say Kyle?” he asked, looking over at his friend as he pulled Liz into his side. “You ready to kill this sour mood?”

“Lead the way,” Kyle said.

“Let’s bounce,” Max said with a nod, leading Liz towards the exit, completely forgetting about his bag.

“What about your stuff?” Liz asked.

“Who cares,” Max said, not even bothering to look back.

“I’ve got it,” Michael said, throwing the strap over his shoulder.

Once they were all out in the parking lot, the parents made sure that the teenagers were going to head straight back to Roswell. They didn’t mind them hanging out for the night, so long as they did it in Roswell.

“We’ll be right behind you,” Alex said before everyone climbed into their cars and headed home.

**************

Everyone spent the night hanging around Roswell, doing anything and everything they could think of. Once the night ended and everyone went home, Max found himself sitting on his bed, looking around his bedroom at all the trophies he had won over the years. He stood up and grabbed a basketball trophy, smiling as he remembered the time he won it. He ran his finger over the engraving on the base when a light knock came to his widow. He walked over and opened it, surprised to find Liz standing on the other side. “Liz, what are you doing here?” he asked as he helped her inside.

“It’s…it’s my dad,” Liz said as she and Max sat on the bed.

“What happened?” Max asked, his voice not as soft as it was before.

“I just don’t want to be around him right now,” Liz said, grabbing Max’s hand and threading her fingers through his.

“Did he say something to you?” Max asked.

“He…he’s just being himself,” Liz said. “He wants to control me and I won’t let him.”

“What did he do?” Max asked.

“He didn’t want me going out tonight,” Liz said. “When I got home, he was a little peeved.”

“But your mom said that you could go out,” Max said.

“I know. But when she told him that, he said it didn’t matter. He said I needed to check with him no matter what.”

“So he basically told your mom that she has no right to make decisions regarding your curfew,” Max said.

“Yep,” Liz said, offering him a smile. “And as you can imaging, that didn’t set in too well with my mom. When I left for my room, they were really getting into it verbally.”

“And let me guess,” Max said with a smirk, “he blamed everything on me.”

“Not directly,” Liz said. “But I won’t lie to you Max…I could tell that he was about to play that card.”

Max just shook his head as he looked out the window.

“Just tell me that you still love me even though my dad’s a prick,” Liz said, cupping his cheek.

As soon as Max looked into Liz’s eyes he smiled. “There’s nothing in this world that could keep me away from you, Liz. Even your dad.”

Liz let out a sigh of relief as she leaned over to rest her head on his shoulder. “That’s all I needed to hear.”

**************

Kyle, Michael, Alex and Max were all in the grocery store about a week later, getting food for the ‘guys only’ sports party that was about to take place. There were going to be a ton of basketball games on TV, so they all decided to hang out and watch them together, without the girls.

“How much do you want to bet that the girls will show up even though we told them not to?” Alex asked as he read over the grocery list.

“They better not,” Michael mumbled before he started assigning work for everyone. “Alright…Alex, you get the soda and cookies, Kyle, you get the cereal and milk…”

“Cereal and milk?” Kyle asked in confusion.

“Yeah…cereal and milk,” Michael repeated. “I need cereal and milk.”

“Right,” Kyle said before he and Alex walked away to get their assigned food.

“Max,” Michael continued, “why don’t you get the chips and dip. I’ll head over and pick up the steaks.”

Max nodded before he set out for the chip isle. He was standing in front of the display shelf, contemplating which bag to get, when someone accidentally bumped into him.

“Oh, I’m sorr…” the guy said as he turned to look at the person he had just run into.

When Max turned, intent to waive off the apology, his jaw set when he found himself looking at none other than Jeff Parker. He stared at Liz’ dad for a second, his jaw muscle flexing slightly before he turned back around and grabbed the first bag he could reach. He purposefully strode down the isle, determined to get away from Jeff as soon as possible when he ran into Nancy.

“Oh…Max,” Nancy said with a smile. “How are you?”

“I’m good,” Max said, returning her smile. “At least I was,” he said as he glanced over his shoulder at Jeff.

Nancy let out a sigh when she saw that her husband was trying to act casual, like Max wasn’t even around. “Max, I know this can’t be easy for you, but trust me when I say that it isn’t any easier for me and Liz.”

“I know,” Max said with a nod.

“I know deep down that he’ll come around eventually,” Nancy said. “I just hope that when he finally does it’s not too late.”

“I’m going to be perfectly honest with you,” Max said. “At this point, even if he apologized to me, the most I can offer is that I’ll be civil around him. I can’t promise you that things will be kosher between us, no matter how hard he tries to make up for what he said. There’s no way I can just forget it, and I’m not even sure I’ll be able to forgive him.”

“He was just trying to look after Liz,” Nancy said, trying to defend her husband as gently as possible.

“That may be,” Max said. “But he had no right to say what he said.” He offered Nancy one last smile before he walked off in search of his friends.

Nancy took a deep breath before she walked up to her husband. She made a decision right then and there that is was time to end the feud.

To Be Continued…

posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:16:55 PM by Fanatic101
Authors Note: I know I promised a few of you that I'd have this part out on Monday, so I just wanted to say I'm sorry. Real life bit me in the ass.

Part 24

Max was standing in front of his closet a few days later, getting ready to go out to dinner with Liz, when Isabel walked into his room.

“Going out tonight?” she asked.

Max turned and looked at her before he replied. “Yeah. Liz kept dropping me subtle hints at school today that she wanted me to take her to dinner.”

“I’m impressed that you picked up on them,” Isabel confessed.

“Why’s that?” Max asked with a smile. “I can take a hint, especially when its crammed down my throat.”

“I was just kidding,” Isabel said with a laugh. “Where are you taking her?”

“I’m not sure,” Max said as he grabbed a shirt and held it up to get Isabel’s opinion.

Isabel shook her head before she reached in and grabbed another one, handing it to her brother. “Don’t you think it would be a good idea to figure that out before you pick her up?”

“She told me that she wanted to decide,” Max said with a shrug.

“Huh. Well I’ll let you get changed. Have fun,” Isabel said before she walked out of his room, closing the door behind her.

Max quickly changed his cloths before he grabbed his car keys and headed downstairs, finding his mom in the living room. “I’m on my way out.”

“Okay,” Diane said with a smile. “Don’t be too late.”

“I won’t,” Max called over his shoulder before he walked out the front door and climbed into his Mustang. As soon as he pulled up to Liz’s, he saw her skip out of her house and climb in next to him before he could even shut off the engine. “You look great,” he said with a smile.

“Thanks,” Liz replied as she leaned over and gave him a kiss. “So do you.”

Max backed out of his parking spot but stopped before he pulled out onto the street. “So…where to?”

“Take a left,” Liz said. “I want to try that new restaurant over on Baker Street.”

“Sounds good to me,” Max said.

After they got to the restaurant and pulled into the parking lot, Liz suddenly turned to Max as he shut off the engine. “I need you to not be mad at me for doing this.”

“For doing what?” Max asked, confused.

“You’ll see,” Liz said nervously. “Just promise that you won’t get mad at me. I swear it wasn’t my idea.”

“Liz,” Max said with a smile, “whatever it is, I promise that I won’t get mad at you.”

“Okay,” Liz said with a sigh of relief.

“Are you going to tell me what I’m not supposed to get mad about?” Max asked after he and Liz climbed out of the car. As they walked into the restaurant, instead of answering him verbally, she simply pointed. Max turned to see what she was pointing at, his eyes turning cold as his jaw muscle started to flex, something that only happened when he was not pleased.

“Are you mad at me?” Liz asked quietly, afraid of his answer.

“No,” Max said bluntly, his eyes still locked on Jeff Parker who was sitting at a table across the room with Nancy.

“You seem like you are,” Liz said.

“I’M NOT…” Max began to snap, catching himself before he blew up at the one person he needed the most. “I’m sorry,” he said as he finally turned to look at her, his eyes softening. “I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at the situation. I didn’t except this.”

“I know,” Liz said as she threaded her fingers through his. “But I swear this wasn’t my idea.”

“I know,” Max said with a smile, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. “Love you.”

“Love you,” Liz said, returning his smile before she took a deep breath. “Ready?”

“Not in the least,” Max said, looking back over at Jeff. “But I’ll do it for you.”

As the two of them started to walk over to the table, Jeff and Nancy looked up just before they reached it. Max could tell from the look of hesitation on Jeff’s face that he had some idea of what was going on.

“Please sit down,” Nancy said to Max and Liz, motioning to the two seats across the table from her and Jeff. “First off, this was my idea. Actually it was Diane’s, but I decided to make it happen. Secondly, the reason I brought everyone here tonight, in a public place mind you, is so we can all speak our minds like civilized people. No yelling, no screaming, no accusing…I just want everyone to say what they’re feeling.”

There was a silence at the table so Nancy decided to break the ice. “Okay, I’ll go first. As a parent, I want what’s best for my daughter,” she said, looking right at Max. “At first, the news about the marriage didn’t set in too well with me, mostly because the two of you are so young. But after I thought about it for a while, and after talking to Diane, I realized that this wasn’t my decision to make. Once I dealt with that, I was able to move past the initial hesitation I felt and slowly began to fall in love with the idea of the wedding. I think you’re a wonderful young man, Max, and I can’t tell you how thankful and proud I am that you’ll be a part of my family.”

Max smiled at Nancy as another silence overtook the table. Nancy looked at her daughter, silently telling her to go next.

“I guess I’m up,” Liz said with a nervous laugh. “The past few weeks have been really stressful for me. I feel like I’m caught in the middle of a territorial battle, with the grand prize being my affection. On one hand I have Max, who I love more than anything in the world, and on the other I have my dad, who I love just as much. I feel like I’m being forced to choose between the two of you, and that’s not fair to me. I can’t tell you how upset I am about what you said to Max dad, but I do understand that you were just trying to look out for me. What you need to realize is that I’m a big girl now. I can make my own decisions, and regardless of whether you think I’m making a mistake or not, you need to see that it’s my mistake to make, not yours. And Max…I understand why you’re holding a grudge against my dad, I really do…but I just want you to know that its really hurting me…both of you are.”

Max avoided everyone’s gaze, especially Liz’s. He never thought that his anger towards Jeff would turn around and hurt Liz, but now that he thought about it, it made perfect sense. Why wouldn’t it hurt her? He was her dad. He just couldn’t believe that he didn’t see it before now.

“I never meant to…” Max began, cutting himself off as the though about what he wanted to say. “I’m sorry,” he said to Liz. “I don’t know why, but I never realized before now that while I was busy blaming your dad for your unhappiness, I was actually causing some of it. I know this may sound stubborn, but apart from hurting you by ignoring him, I don’t think I did anything wrong.” He turned to her parents before he went on. “The only thing I’ve ever done is love Liz unconditionally, and if that’s wrong, then I’ve lived my entire life in error. Sure…I’ve made my share of mistakes growing up, but loving her is the one thing I know I did right.” He paused briefly before he continued. “When we first told you two about the wedding, I was willing to talk to Jeff alone in the hopes that he would see that I was not only serious about the commitment, but that I would also do anything to protect his daughter. I thought that maybe I would earn some respect…”

“You did,” Jeff said out of nowhere. All eyes shifted to him as he looked over at Max. “You earned my respect a long time ago. Listening to you now, and thinking about everything you said to me, I guess I didn’t want to admit that you were right. Maybe it was my pride, maybe it was my parental instinct to protect my daughter from possible heartache. Whatever the case may be, the fact that you’re sitting here right now, and that you’ve stuck by her side through all of this, tells me one thing…that you’ll do anything for her. I’ve tried to think back on what I said to you that night in the restaurant, but every time I do, my mind draws a blank. I know that whatever I said really hit a nerve, but the fact that I don’t remember it makes me realize that I didn’t mean it. There’s only one sentence that I remember clearly, and it’s the last thing you said to me before tonight. You said, ‘I was excited about getting back just a little bit of what I lost six months ago…a dad. I guess I was wrong.’ I think that statement is the reason I haven’t talked to you for the past couple of weeks. That really hurt me when you said that, and I know I’ve been immature about how I’ve handled it. You didn’t deserve anything I said to you, and you surely didn’t deserve the way I’ve been treating you. I find it kind of ironic that between the two of us, I’m the one acting like a teenager. I…I’m sorry, and I know that it’s going to take some time to repair the damage I’ve done, but I hope that you’ll give me the chance, even though I don’t deserve it.”

Nobody at the table knew how to respond. Just the other day Jeff got upset when Nancy so much as said Max’s name, but now here he was, apologizing for everything he had done. Everyone was confused as to what caused the sudden change in his attitude.

“You mean the world to me Liz,” Jeff went on after a short pause. “I want to protect you for the rest of your life, but I know that’s not possible. The only thing I can do is make sure that the person you choose to be your husband takes over for me in watching out for you. In this case, I know Max will do just that.”

Again everyone was speechless. Max looked like a deer that was caught staring into a pair of oncoming headlights. It wasn’t until he felt Liz cover his hand with her own that he turned away from Jeff to look at her. She smiled, encouraging him to say something. He turned back to Jeff, who was staring down at his hands as he fiddled with his fork.

“Max,” Liz whispered. “Could you please say something to him?”

Max nodded even though he had no idea what to say. Without thinking, he began talking about the first thing that popped into his head. “When my dad died, my entire world turned upside down. I was forced to move to a different state and leave all my friends behind. I was forced to leave everything I grew up with. But I met someone special the very first day I was here. She was one of the first people I met, and I knew right away that she was the one for me. I knew this because she could sense what I was feeling without asking me. She could put my mind at ease with a simple smile and ease my pain with a simple touch. I can feel her every time she’s near, and I still get weak in the knees every time she walks into the room. But the really amazing part, the part that makes me want to cry from sheer joy, is that she feels the exact same way about me. I don’t know what I did to deserve her, but to be perfectly honest I don’t really care. The only thing I care about is that she loves me and she wants to be with me. That’s all I need. I guess the reason I’m telling you this is to thank you both,” he said, looking at Jeff and Nancy in turn.

“Thank us?” Nancy asked with a smile. “For what?”

“For bringing Liz up the way you did,” Max said. “She’s the most amazing person I’ve ever met, and part of that is because of you guys and the way you raised her.” He paused for a second before he turned to Jeff. “There’s just one thing I need to know. What made you change your mind?”

Jeff ran a hand through his hair before he looked over at Liz. “I changed my mind a week ago, but my pride wouldn’t let me apologize. I felt that if I apologized, I’d be sorry for wanting to protect Liz. There’s no way I’ll ever be sorry for that, but sitting here, listening to her, I realize that I’d end up losing her if I wasn’t careful. I hope you can understand that I am sorry for reacting the way I did when I said what I said to you, but I’m not sorry for what I felt when I said them. I just didn’t express my fears and hesitations the way I should have.”

“Are you ready to order?” the waiter asked politely after he approached the table.

Nothing more was said about the past few weeks as they ate dinner. They all conversed just like they used to, even laughing from time to time. As Liz looked between the two most important men in her life, she had to smile. Things were finally heading in the right direction, and even though it would take some time to mend the bridges between Max and her dad, the work to do so had just begun.

**************

“No way!” Maria exclaimed as she and Liz stretched out on her bed to watch a movie later that night. “He actually apologized?”

“Yeah,” Liz said before she dipped her spoon into a bowl of ice cream and ate it. “It seemed like one minute he was ready to ring Max’s neck, and the next he was confessing that he had been acting immature.”

“This is a parental breakthrough, Liz,” Maria said. “A dad actually admitting that he was acting immature? This has got to be the first time in history.”

“I’m just glad that he and Max are talking again,” Liz said truthfully.

“Yeah, speaking of…how are things going between them?” Maria asked. “I’d imagine it’s kind of awkward right now.”

“It is for them,” Liz said. “They’re both at that stage where they don’t know what to say or how to act around each other. Then again, it’s only been a couple of hours since they made a truce, so I’m sure they’ll work it out.”

“You’d think so,” Maria said.

**************

A couple of weeks passed without anything really significant happening. It was nearing prom time, only a month away now, and all the girls were starting to get excited. Max and Jeff saw each other on several occasions as the gap between them slowly started to close. Jeff had invited Max over to dinner five times in the past two weeks, trying his best to mend the damage he had caused.

Max was currently walking up to Liz’s front door, having accepted another invitation from Jeff for dinner.

“Max!” Jeff said after he opened the door. “I’m glad you could make it.”

“Thanks for having me…again,” Max said with a smile as he stepped inside. “Although I have to tell you, my mom’s starting to get jealous because lately I’ve been eating over here more than I have at home.”

Jeff smiled as he looked past Max, confusion overtaking him as he called out to his wife. “Nancy! I though you invited Diane over for dinner tonight.”

“She did,” Max answered for his wife. “She got held up at work so she’ll be a little late.”

“Oh,” Jeff said as he led Max into the living room.

“Hey babe,” Liz said with a smile as she bounced down the stairs and gave Max a hug.

“Hey,” Max replied, returning her smile.

“I got my prom dress today,” Liz said, her smile widening as she kept her arms wrapped around his waist. “I think you’ll love it.”

“I know I will,” Max said. “As long as you’ll be wearing it, how can I not?”

Liz shyly looked down at the subtle compliment, something that Max absolutely loved. She always looked so cute when she did that.

They were so wrapped up in each other that neither of them noticed when Jeff left with a smile on his face. Max reached around and grabbed Liz’s hands, holding them in his own as he brought them up to his lips and kissed them lightly. He ran his thumb over her engagement ring, something he did every time they were together now.

“I love that you can finally wear this,” he said as he looked at her, his eyes filled with affection.

“Me to,” Liz said, looking at him the exact same way. “No more hiding.”

Max shook his head in agreement. “Never again.”

Just then the doorbell rang, causing Jeff to walk back into the entryway. “Diane!” he said with a smile after he opened the door, stepping to the side so Max’s mom could enter. “Max said that you’d be running late.”

“I was,” Diane said. “But I was able duck out of the office earlier than I thought I would.”

“Hey mom,” Max said, pulling Liz into his side as Diane walked by the living room.

“Hi honey,” Diane said with a smile. “Does Nancy need any help in the kitchen?” she asked as she turned to face Jeff again.

“Even if she did, she’d never admit it,” Jeff said. “But you’re more than welcome to offer.”

After the parents left, Liz leaned into Max, resting her head against his shoulder. “Can you believe it? Our parents actually accepted the engagement.”

Max smiled as he placed a kiss on the top of her head. “To be honest, I never thought your dad would come around. I thought for sure he’d hate me for the rest of his life.”

“Of course he wouldn’t,” Liz said, looking up at him. “You’re just too damn cute to hate.”

“You’re biased,” Max said with a smirk.

“Yes I am,” Liz replied as she smiled up at him seductively. She leaned in so she could whisper in his ear, her smile growing when she felt his breathing become erratic. “But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re hot.” She nibbled on his earlobe for a second, giggling when she heard him groan in protest after she pulled away.

“You’re trying to kill me, aren’t you?” Max asked

“Oh you know you love it,” Liz said as she started to walk away, swaying her hips on purpose as she threw him a glace over her shoulder.

Max playfully glared after her for a second before an evil smile spread across his face.

Liz stopped dead in her tracks, her smile fading when she saw the look on his face. “Oh no you don’t,” she said as she turned around to face him fully, pointing her index finger at him to stop him from advancing on her.

Max ignored her as he slowly made his way over, his face still showing the same evil smile.

“Max…please,” Liz begged as she started to backpedal. “I…I was just kidding.”

“I know,” Max said as he raised an eyebrow at her.

Liz decided to turn and make a run for the kitchen, hoping that her parents would give her safe haven from whatever it was that Max planned to do to her. She had no such luck. Max covered the ground between them in two quick strides before he wrapped his arms around her waist, lifting her up into the air to prevent her from fleeing. He spun around and gently dropped her on the couch before he laid out on top of her, pinning her down. His hands slowly began to roam around her sides, flirting with her ticklish spots.

“Max, no!” Liz half begged, half laughed. “Please.” Her plea fell on deaf ears as Max began to tickle her all over. “Stop!” Liz said between laughs as she tried to squirm away. Since Max wasn’t playing fair by pinning her to the couch, she decided to say the one thing she knew would get him to stop. “Max…if you loved me you’d stop.”

Max stopped immediately, giving her a look of disbelief. “No fair!”

“Look who’s talking,” Liz said with a smile. “Like pinning me to the couch is fair!”

“Hey, it’s not my fault you’re weak!” Max shot back.

“WEAK!” Liz exclaimed with wide eyes.

As soon as Max saw her eyes narrow, he knew he was in trouble. “Uh oh,” he muttered. He slowly began to back off her, trying to give her his cutest smile.

“Don’t bother,” Liz said as she continued to glare at him. “That sweet smile of yours isn’t going to save you this time.”

“Now Liz,” Max said with a laugh as he started to backpedal, holding his hands out in front of him to keep her from attacking. “I know you don’t want to do anything you might regret later.”

“And why is that?” Liz asked, slowly hounding him as if he were her prey.

“Because I wouldn’t want you to hurt your fragile self,” Max said with a laugh.

Liz gasped, her eyes widening momentarily before they returned to their playful glare. “Oh, you are so dead.”

Then, almost simultaneously, Max made a dash for the stairs as Liz lunged out to grab him.

“Get back here!” Liz called out as she began to chase him.

“No way!” Max called back as he ran down the hall and into her bedroom. He quickly closed the door before she got there, leaning into it to keep her from getting in.

“Open up!” Liz demanded as she pounded on the door. When Max refused, she tried a different approach. “Maaaaaax,” she whined. “Please let me in. I miss you.” When she heard him back away, she smiled as she slowly pushed the door open and found him standing on the far side of her bed, armed with a pillow. “A little paranoid, aren’t we?” she asked as she folded her arms across her chest.

“I prefer the word ‘cautious’,” Max said.

“Ah,” Liz said with a nod as she slowly started to walk towards him. “And what, you’re going to hit me with that pillow if I try to get you back for tickling me?”

“If it comes to that,” Max said as he slowly started to back away. It wasn’t long before he found himself backed into a corner with nowhere to run. “Now just remember that I didn’t have to let you in here.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Liz said with a smile as she reached out and grabbed the pillow, throwing it over her shoulder and onto her bed. She had every intention of getting him back, but for some reason he looked so sexy just standing there, carefully watching every move she made. Needless to say her mood changed instantly. She reached out and brushed his hair off his forehead before she slowly ran her hand down his chest and began to undress him with her eyes.

“Liz,” Max said softly, meaning it as a warning even though it sounded more like an invitation. His breathing picked up as soon as he saw the look of pure lust in Liz’s eyes. “You know how I…tend to lose control when you…you look at me like that.”

“I know,” Liz said as her eyes continued to roam up and down his body. “I…I can’t help it,” she admitted as her heart began to race. “Max…I know that we…that we agreed to wait…you know, until we’re married. Do you still think…do you still think that’s a good idea?”

“I don’t know,” Max said as he closed his eyes, his hands running up under her shirt as if they had taken on a mind of their own. “The only thing I know is that…is that it keeps getting harder and harder every time I’m near you…no pun intended.”

Liz started to laugh as she leaned into him, resting her forehead against his chin as she closed her eyes. “I know what you mean. Both our parents are downstairs, but I want you so much right now that I don’t care.”

Max groaned softly as he pulled his hands out from under her shirt and ran them through her hair to keep them from wandering. “Why do we have to be so damn responsible all the time? We’re going to make love eventually, whether it be today or in a few months when we finally get married.”

“I know,” Liz agreed, her eyes still closed. “But just imagine how special our wedding night’s going to be when we finally give ourselves to each other. I always wanted my first time to be special, and I can’t think of a better time than that.”

“Me neither,” Max agreed, placing a kiss on the top of her head. “I just hope I can last that long.”

To Be Continued…

posted on 5-Feb-2002 7:58:21 PM by Fanatic101
I'm almost done with the next part, I promise!

It'll be out tomorrow morning (I live in Nevada) at the latest!
posted on 6-Feb-2002 1:41:06 PM by Fanatic101
Wowzers! I really appreciate you all being so patient with me on my stories. I know that new parts have been few and far between, but hopefully it won't take me two more months to get another part out.

Part 25

Prom

That one word was the cause of all the excitement, and the stress, that surrounded four young women who were all shopping for everything they would possible need to make the upcoming event the best it could possibly be. Three of the four girls were having a great time at the mall as they ran from store to store, but for Liz, who was still trying to organize Max’s birthday party the following week, a trip to the mall turned out to be a little more nerve racking than she would have liked.

“What about this one?” Maria asked as she modeled a dress.

Liz was sitting in a chair at the store, propping her elbows on her knees so she could hold her chin in her palms of her hands. This was the third store that they had gone to, and in an attempt to find the perfect dress, Maria had tried on every single one in the entire mall. Isabel and Tess had grown tired of her inability to choose, so they had gone their own way after the second store. Liz on the other hand didn’t want her best friend to have to shop alone, so she had trudged through the indecisiveness and whining while trying her best to stay upbeat…but even she had her breaking point.

“Like I said about the last dress, I still like the one you tried on back at Macy’s,” Liz said.

“I just don’t know if I can get past the strings on the back,” Maria said. “I want something low cut in the back, and having those strings criss-crossing just covered up too much skin.”

Liz let out a sigh as she shook her head, telling Maria that she didn’t like the one she had on.

“I thought so too,” Maria said, scrunching up her nose slightly before she headed back to the dressing room.

“God, please help me,” Liz muttered as she ran her hands through her hair.

“You rang.”

Liz looked up at the sound of the familiar voice, her eyes lighting up when they landed on Max. She jumped off the chair and flung herself into his arms, a permanent smile etched on her face. “MAX! How did you know I was here?” she asked as she pulled back to look at him.

“I ran into Isabel and Tess over at the food court,” Max said.

“Oh,” Liz replied. “Come to think of it, what are you doing here?”

“Shopping,” Max said with a shrug.

“Shopping?” Liz asked skeptically. “Are you forgetting that I know you? You hate shopping.”

Max let out a laugh as he nodded over his shoulder. “Michael needs a tux and he didn’t want to come by himself.”

“Are Alex and Kyle with you?” Liz asked, waving at Michael in the distance.

“No, they would be the lucky ones,” Max said. “Kyle had plans with his dad and Alex was busy cleaning out his garage.”

“I don’t know if I’d call them lucky,” Liz said.

Max just smiled as he leaned over so he could whisper in her ear. “Trust me. I’d much rather help your dad clean the kitchen at the Crashdown than shop with this one here.”

Liz laughed as she pointed toward the dressing room. “I know what you mean. Maria’s dragged me around the entire mall and right now I’m about ready to pull my hair out.”

“Oh, don’t do that,” Max said as he reached out and ran his hand through her hair, a small wrinkle appearing across his forehead. “I love your hair. If it’s stressing you out that much…pull Maria’s hair out. She’s the one causing the tension.”

“You know, if she doesn’t pick a damn dress soon, I might just do that,” Liz said.

Max gently turned Liz around so her back was facing him, then brushed her hair over her shoulder before he slid his hands up and began to give her neck a light massage.

Liz let out a moan of satisfaction as she closed her eyes and let her head fall forward. “Don’t stop.”

“I don’t want to, but I need to get Michael out of here before Maria comes back out,” Max said. “She said that he’d be a dead man if he saw her in her prom dress before prom.”

“I doubt you have anything to worry about,” Liz said with a sigh. “She won’t be finding a dress for another hour or two.”

Max pulled Liz back into his chest and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, placing a soft kiss near her ear. “I’ll call you in an hour so we can meet up and have lunch.”

“Okay,” Liz replied as she turned her head and gave him a kiss over her shoulder.

“Love you,” Max said before he started to walk away.

“Love you,” Liz replied as she turned around to face him, giving him a wave as he left the store.

“What about this one?” Maria asked as she came back out, oblivious to the fact that Max and Michael had just been there.

Liz took a deep breath as she settled herself back down on the seat and shook her head.

“I don’t like it either,” Maria said as she turned and headed off for the dressing room yet again.

****************

“Michael, it’s just a tux,” Max said with a smirk.

“No, it’s not just a tux,” Michael said in frustration. “It has to be a tux in MY style.”

“I hate to break this to you, but they don’t exactly make a tux in your style,” Max said as he patted his friend on the shoulder.

“So which one should I get then?” Michael asked as he looked from tux to tux.

“Like I said before, you can’t go wrong with classic black,” Max said, pointing to a couple of different styles. “If I were you, I wouldn’t try to go down the same road that Alex did. A white tux with a cane and top hat just wouldn’t suit you.”

“Okay,” Michael said before he pointed to the one he thought looked the least hideous.

“Good one,” Max said with a nod. “Now, are you going with a vest or cummerbund?”

“Vest,” Michael replied quickly.

“Okay. Typically your bowtie and vest should match the color of your date’s dress, but since Maria hasn’t picked out an outfit yet, that leaves us with one choice,” Max said.

“Which is?” Michael asked.

“Black all around,” Max replied. “Unless you know what color dress she’s getting?”

“Nobody knows that,” Michael muttered. “Not ever her.”

“Let’s go get you measured so we can order it,” Max said.

Once they were done in the tux shop, the two of them made their way out into the mall. They walked around for a while, trying to waist time until they met up with the girls for lunch. When they passed by a bed and bath store, Max stopped and looked inside.

“Don’t tell me we’re going in there,” Michael said as he looked into the store as well.

“Just for a second,” Max said before he walked in, ignoring Michael’s groan. Max looked around for a few minutes until he found what he was looking for, a smile lighting up his face as he picked it up and headed for the checkout line.

“What’s that?” Michael asked.

“Bubble bath,” Max replied.

“Do chicks honestly like that stuff?” Michael asked.

“Michael,” Max said as he put his arm around his friend’s shoulders, “as long as it’s unexpected and from the heart, they’ll love anything you give them. Now granted, a half withered bouquet of dandelions won’t get you the same reaction than a dozen fresh red roses will, but just showing that you’re always thinking about them, especially when they’re not around, makes them feel…cherished and special, which they should.”

“Maxwell, once again your pearls of wisdom amaze me,” Michael said before he turned to go find something for Maria.

*******************

About a half an hour later, Max and Michael found themselves at the food court, waiting for Liz and Maria.

“So you don’t think this present’s lame?” Michael asked, seriously concerned that Maria would hate what he had picked out for her.

“I would if you were giving it to me,” Max said. “But then again I’m not a girl.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Michael asked, eyeing his friend.

“Relax,” Max said with a smile. “I’m sure she’ll love it. Just don’t give it to her until the two of you are alone.”

“Why? You think she’ll want to take it back?” Michael asked.

Max just shook his head as he patted his friend on the back. “Just trust me on this one. If you give it to her when you’re alone…well, let’s just say the reward will be a lot better.”

Before Michael could respond, their girlfriend’s walked up. Maria had a big smile of triumph on her face, having finally found her dress, and Liz had a big smile of relief, thankful that her shopping day was over.

“Hey sexy,” Max said softly as he opened his arms, allowing Liz to walk right into him.

“Hey,” Liz said with a sigh as she wrapped her arms around his waist and buried her cheek into his chest. “You have no idea how happy I am to see you.”

“What, you didn’t have fun shopping with Maria?” Max asked quietly, already knowing the answer.

Liz pulled back and let out another sigh, giving Max the most pathetic look she could muster.

“Ahh,” Max cooed as he ran one of his hands through her hair, giving her a tiny smile as his eyes softened. “It looks like someone needs me to finish that massage.”

Liz’s eyes closed in bliss at the mere thought of a massage. “In the worst way.”

Max’s smile grew as he leaned forward and kissed her forehead, letting his lips linger for a few seconds so he could enjoy the smell of her hair. “Then I’ll come over tonight.”

“Let’s eat!” Maria said as she grabbed Michael by the arm and led him to the nearest food joint. “I’m starving.”

Max and Liz just smiled when they heard Michael groan, something that their friend did a lot, especially around Maria. Neither of them made an attempt to pull back though, both preferring to be close rather that heading off to get food.

“I love you, Liz,” Max said out of nowhere.

Liz looked up at him, a little surprised by his sudden an unexpected confession of love. “I love you, too,” she said softly. “Where did that come from?”

Max just shrugged. “I just wanted to make sure you knew that.”

“Of course I do,” Liz said as she began to run her hands up and down his back. That’s when she noticed a little hesitancy in his eyes. “Are you okay? Is something wrong?”

“No,” Max said with a tender smile.

As Liz looked at him, she realized that he was indeed telling the truth. Nothing was wrong, but something was definitely on his mind. That’s when she decided to push the issue. “Max…tell me what you’re thinking about.”

Max just looked at her for a second before he let out a little laugh and shook his head. “Why can’t I ever get anything past you?”

“You should know by now that it’s useless even trying,” Liz replied with a smile. “Now what is it?”

“What if I want it to be a surprise?” Max asked.

“Max,” Liz said as she took a step back and placed her hands on her hips, tilting her head to the side slightly.

“Liz,” Max said, mimicking her exact movements, even down to the stance she was in.

That’s when Liz folded her arms across her chest and glared at him. As soon as Max started to mimic her again she said, “Don’t you dare.”

Max let out a laugh before he reached out and placed both hands on Liz’s shoulders. “I’m sorry. You just look so cute when you try to be bossy.”

“I’m not moving until you tell me what you’re thinking about,” Liz said, ignoring his comment. “You can’t joke your way out of this one.”

“I’m not trying to joke my way out of anything,” Max said with a smirk. “I want to tell you, but it kind of involves Michael and Maria too, so can you just wait until they get back in a couple of minutes?”

“Fine,” Liz said as she sat down at a nearby table, keeping her arms folded across her chest as she crossed her legs under the table.

“Are you hungry?” Max asked, motioning toward the food booths.

“Not anymore,” Liz said, refusing to look up at him.

“Liz,” Max said as he crouched down next to her and placed his hand on her thigh. When she still refused to look at him, he let out a sigh. “I want to go somewhere after prom with you, Michael and Maria,” he confessed.

When Liz finally looked at him, she had a puzzled expression on her face.

“Kind of like a small camp out,” Max added with a smirk. “I…I just really want to get out before finals start, and I can’t think of a better time than prom night.”

“And you want to go camping?” Liz asked as she reached out and brushed the hair off his forehead. “On prom night?”

Max opened his mouth to respond, but before he could speak, Michael and Maria walked back over and sat down across from Liz.

“Proposing again?” Michael asked before he took a drink of his soda.

Max gave Liz a smile before he stood up and moved to the other side of her, sitting down so he was facing his friends. “I’ve got a question for you two.”

“Shoot,” Michael said, paying more attention to his French fries than to Max.

“What are you doing after prom?”

“Well that depends,” Maria said as she poured her salad dressing on her food.

“On what?” Max asked.

“On what you’re about to suggest,” Michael answered.

“How about a night at the Buchanan Mansion?” Max asked with a smile. Three sets of eyes were now staring at him as everyone stopped what they were doing.

“The Buchanan mansion?” Maria asked, looking at Max as if he had grown a second head. “You can’t be serious.”

“Why not?” Max asked.

“Have you ever heard the stories that people tell about that place?” Maria asked. “You know, there’s a very good reason why that place has been deserted for sixty years.”

“Oh come on,” Max said. “Don’t tell me you actually believe those cheesy ghost stories.”

“It would be one thing if some loony nutcase ranted about what he saw there, but there have been several - S E V E R A L - people who have witnessed the exact same thing,” Maria said.

“Yeah, they all said that around two in the morning they saw a bright white light behind one of the closed bedroom doors, then the door started to vibrate before unexpectedly swinging open, revealing the ghost of Dominic Buchanan himself,” Michael said, his voice lased with sarcasm.

“You don’t believe the stories?” Liz asked.

“It’s just a scam to make the mansion look freaky,” Michael insisted. “There are no such things as ghosts.”

“Thank you,” Max said to Michael. “For once you’re the voice of reason.”

“Michael, the voice of reason?” Maria asked with a laugh. “Yeah, that’ll be the day.”

“Why don’t you just admit that you’re too scared to spend the night there?” Michael shot back.

“I am admitting it,” Maria said.

“Come on Maria,” Liz said, surprising both Max and Michael. Max thought for sure she’d be just as hard to convince as Maria would. “All we have to do is stay behind the boys. That way, if we do run into a ghost, we can push Max and Michael toward it while we bolt out the front door.”

“You’d sacrifice me to save your own hide?” Max asked with a look of hurt.

“You bet your ass I would,” Liz said without hesitation, unable to keep a straight face despite her best effort.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Max said with a glare.

“But what if the ghost comes up from behind us?” Maria asked.

“Then you’re screwed,” Michael said. “Then Max and I get to shove you two at it while we turn tail and run.”

“Come on guys,” Max said. “It’ll be fun.”

“What about the others?” Maria asked.

“They can’t go,” Max said. “Kyle and Tess are heading off to Albuquerque to look at apartments, and we all know there’s no way in hell Isabel’s going to go so that eliminates Alex too.”

All eyes turned to Maria as they waited for her to relent. “Fine,” she finally bit out. “But if I die, I’m haunting each and every one of you for the rest of your lives.”

“Speaking of moving,” Michael said, changing the subject. “When are you two heading to Stanford to look for a house?”

Liz’s eyes lit up as she turned to her friends, causing a big dopey smile to spread across Max’s face. He loved how animated she got whenever she talked about something she loved.

“The week after prom,” Liz said. “I’ve already talked to a couple of real estate agents and have a few walk-throughs lined up.”

“You do?” Max asked in surprise, unaware that Liz had already started to get the ball rolling.

“Yeah,” Liz said with a smile as she turned to him. Her smile faded away momentarily as a thought passed through her head. Maybe he wanted to look at the pictures of the houses with her before she set up the appointments. “You’re not mad are you? ‘Cause I could always call them back and cancel if you don’t like the houses.”

“It’s fine,” Max said with a reassuring smile. He leaned over and kissed her forehead as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer to him. “I’m actually glad you’re setting everything up.”

“Yeah, it makes your job a lot easier, huh?” Michael asked. “All you have to do is nod and go along with whatever Liz wants.”

“You better not,” Liz said. “WE’RE going house shopping, meaning the two of us. You better give me your honest opinion if you don’t like a particular house, even if I love it, you got it?”

“I got it,” Max said as he raised his hands in the air, signaling his surrender.

“How are the wedding plans going?” Maria asked, changing the subject again.

“Well…” Liz began, getting that excited gleam in her eyes again.

The four friends spent the rest of the day hanging out, doing everything and nothing all at the same time. When dinnertime came, they all separated to their various houses, but not before Liz made Max promise to stop by later on that night for some ‘quality time’.

To Be Continued…


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-Feb-2002 12:12:41 PM ]
posted on 11-Mar-2002 2:39:53 PM by Fanatic101
Once again, thanks for your patience and feedback!

Part 26

The following week, for Max’s surprise birthday party, Michael’s sole job was to keep the birthday boy away from the Crashdown after school. That simple task turned out to be a lot more difficult than it sounded. In the end, Michael had to enlist Kyle’s help because his excuses for staying away from the cafe were starting to sound suspicious, even to his own ears. If he continued to try and distract Max by himself, his friend was bound to figure out that something was going on.

“You know guys,” Max was saying, “I really appreciate you wanting to take me out for my birthday, but before we go, I really just want to go see Liz for a second.” Liz had told him that Agnes had called in sick so her dad was making her work that night, thus preventing her from spending time with him until after her shift ended. What she didn’t mention was that her dad had agreed to shut down the café entirely for the night so she could throw him a party there.

“No can do,” Michael said.

“Why not?” Max asked.

“Because this is a chick free night,” Kyle said, covering for Michael.

“But it’s MY birthday,” Max said with a smirk. “Don’t you think I should have a say in what we do?”

“Absolutely not,” Kyle said as he threw his arm around Max’s shoulders. “If we left it up to you, you’d make us all sit around the Crashdown and wait for Liz to get off. No offense, but that’s not really my idea of fun.” As soon as he had finished his sentence his cell phone rang. He took a step away from Max as he reached down and checked the caller ID, seeing that it was Liz. “It’s Tess,” he lied. “This will only take a second. Hey babe,” he said after he answered the phone.

“Kyle?” Liz asked, wanting to make sure she had the right number.

“Yeah,” Kyle said, hoping that Liz would figure out that he was trying to throw Max off, which she did rather quickly.

“Max is standing right next to you, isn’t he?” Liz asked with a smile.

“Yep,” Kyle answered, not even daring to caution a glance at his friend.

“Great,” Liz said. “You and Michael can bring him over now. Everything’s ready.”

“Are you sure?” Kyle asked.

“Yeah,” Liz replied. “Just remember to bring him through the back door. I don’t want him to notice that the café’s parking lot out front is practically deserted.”

“You got it,” Kyle said. “See you soon.” He hung up the phone and turned to Max and Michael who, much to his relief, weren’t really paying attention to him anymore. “Well, it looks like we need to swing by the Crashdown after all.”

“Why?” Michael asked, doing a pretty good job of acting like he was clueless.

“Tess forgot to give me something at school today,” Kyle said.

“Chick free night, huh?” Max asked as he headed for the door, glad that he would at least be able to see Liz for a little while before Michael and Kyle dragged him off for the night.

****************

Liz was running around making sure that everything was set when Isabel came rushing into the café through the back room.

“HE’S HERE, HE’S HERE!”

“Alright everyone, quiet!” Liz said as she took her spot behind the counter while everyone else hid from view.

Jeff Parker was pretending to work the grill in the kitchen when Max, Michael and Kyle walked through the back door. “Max! Happy birthday,” he said as he reached out and shook his hand.

“Thanks,” Max said with a smile. “You got stuck working too, huh?”

“Yeah well, I had two people call in sick and I promised Michael that I’d give him the night off,” Jeff said, giving Michael a wink. “Say, you’re going to stop by later on tonight, aren’t you?”

“I was planning on it,” Max said with a nod. “Why?”

“Well…Nancy and I got you a present,” Jeff said.

“You didn’t have to…” Max began to say.

“Nonsense,” Jeff interrupted with a wave of his hand. “Why don’t you boys go take a booth while I cook you up some burgers…my treat.”

“Free food?” Kyle asked before he headed over to the swinging door that led to the café. “You don’t need to tell me twice.”

Max smiled his thanks before he followed behind Kyle.

“After you,” Kyle said, bowing slightly as he motioned to the door with his hands.

Max gave him a weird look, wondering for a second why he was suddenly being so chivalrous. He found out as soon as he walked through the door.

“SURPRISE!!!!”

“GOOD GOD!” Max exclaimed as he jumped back a little, startled to say the least. The restaurant was filled with people and was completely covered with party decorations, everything from balloons and streamers to birthday hats and presents. He closed his eyes for a second and smiled as his heart rate slowly returned to normal, shaking his head as his mom came up and gave him a hug.

“Happy birthday, sweetheart,” Diane said.

“Thanks mom,” Max replied before Isabel pulled him into a hug. “Who’s idea was this?” he asked as he glanced over his sister’s shoulder, answering his own question when his eyes landed on Liz who was smiling at him from behind the counter. “Never mind.”

After getting a hug, or a pat on the back in Michael’s case, from his friends, the only one left was Liz. Max slowly walked up to the counter with his arms folded across his chest, giving his fiancé a playful glare. “This is your doing.”

Liz nodded slowly as she bit her bottom lip, her hands clasped behind her back as she waited for him to walk up to her.

Once he was finally standing in front of her, his eyes softened as a tiny smile came to his lips. “Thanks,” he whispered before he bent over and tenderly covered her lips with his own. Then, just as he had wrapped his arms around Liz’s waist and felt her wrap hers around his neck, a camera flash caused them to separate.

“Ahhh, that was the sweetest picture,” Maria cooed as she lowered her camera.

“Come on everyone,” Jeff said, having followed Max out from the back room. “Dig in, the food’s getting cold.”

*******************

Everyone at the party was having a good time mingling together, smiling and laughing every chance they got. Although Max would normally pass when given the chance to be the center of attention, for some reason he found himself rather enjoying it. Michael, Kyle and Alex were all joking about how they were going to take him to a strip bar later that night, which of course didn’t go over too well with Liz. She had replied that the only naked female Max was going to be laying eyes on was her, which caused everyone in the group to start laughing…everyone except for her dad who had overheard her. Max immediately raised his hands in Jeff’s direction and started to back up, not only trying to put some distance between the two of them, but also trying to move away from Liz so her dad didn’t feel threatened in any way.

“Is that so?” Jeff asked his daughter.

“Well…eventually,” Liz muttered as her face turned bright red.

Jeff threw another glance at Max before he walked into the back room, smiling at how he was able to joke around with the young man again without either of them feeling awkward.

“Thanks a lot,” Max said as he walked back up to Liz. “Now your dad’s going to glare at me whenever I so much as hold your hand.”

“Oh he was just kidding around,” Nancy said with a wave of her hand.

The party went on for another couple of hours before everyone finally started to split up. They all filed out one by one until the only people left were Max, Liz and their parents.

“Max, Liz…get out of here,” Jeff said when he noticed that the two of them had started to help clean up.

“But dad…” Liz began to say; feeling guilty that her parents were going to be the ones stuck cleaning up after a party that she threw.

“No buts,” Nancy said. “You heard your father, get going!”

“Thanks for everything,” Max said to the adults, wanting to get out of the Crashdown before they changed their minds. He grabbed Liz’s hand and headed out the front door, frowning when he realized that his car was still parked at Michael’s.

“No car?” Liz asked with a smile.

Max glanced over at her and let out a laugh before he turned and looked back into the Crashdown.

“Lets just take a walk,” Liz suggested as she linked her arm with his.

“Are you sure?” Max asked.

“Yeah, it’s a pretty night,” Liz said as she looked up at the starlit sky. “Besides, Michael’s isn’t that far away.”

They started to walk in silence, both enjoying the other’s company, before Max started a conversation. “So…I seem to remember getting a present from everyone at that party except for you.”

“Yeah,” Liz said with a smile as she glanced up at him briefly. “I kind of wanted to give it to you when we were alone.”

“Well…I think we’re alone,” Max said as he motioned around him with his free hand.

“I know,” Liz said shyly, staring down at the ground.

“Hey,” Max said with concern as he reached over and placed a finger under her chin, urging her to look at him. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” Liz said as she glanced up at him and stopped walking, causing Max to do the same. She continued to look at him for a second before she smiled and took off her coat, then pulled down on the neckline of her tee-shirt to reveal the back of her shoulder.

Max was at a loss for words. He now found himself staring at a tattoo just above Liz’s shoulder blade that read ‘MAX’. “You…you got a tattoo,” he said, unable to think of anything else.

“You like it?” Liz asked, trying to hold back her laughter at the shocked expression on his face.

Max had a tight smile on his face as he continued to stare at his name, unsure of what to do or what to say. She had branded herself for him. He briefly looked up into Liz’s eyes, noticing for the first time that there was a playful gleam there.

Liz wasn’t able to hold back any longer as she burst into laughter, confusing Max to no end.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“The…the look on your face,” Liz said as she pointed at him. It took her a few minutes to get her laughter under control, with Max glaring at her the entire time, but she finally decided to fill him in on the big secret. “It’s fake.”

Max just raised and eyebrow as he folded his arms across his chest. “And you think that’s funny?”

“Oh your expression was definitely funny,” Liz replied.

Max tried to keep a straight face but it didn’t take long before he felt his lips curling upward slightly.

“See?” Liz said with a triumphant smile as she pointed at his lips.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Max said as he turned away from her and started walking again before his smile betrayed him.

“Oh you don’t, huh?” Liz asked as she caught up to him and began to tickle his sides lightly.

“Hey!” Max said with a laugh as he jumped away from her, trying to squirm out of her reach.

“Come on, admit it,” Liz said as she began to chase him down the street. “I got you good. You totally thought it was real.”

“I knew it was fake all along,” Max lied as he let Liz catch up, motioning for her to jump on his back so he could give her a piggy-back ride.

“You know, you never were a very good liar,” Liz said as she clung to him, letting out a shriek when he started running as fast as he could, causing her to bounce up and down.

“Actually,” Max said after he slowed to a walk, “I’m an exceptionally good liar.” He threw Liz a glare over his shoulder when he heard her laugh in response. “I’m just not very good around you.”

Liz wrapped her arms a little tighter around his neck as she leaned in and rubbed her cheek against his. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Max said with a smile, the endearment catching him a little off guard. “So…where’s this present of mine?”

“We need a car first,” Liz said as she hopped off his back and grabbed his hand instead.

Several minutes later they finally got to their destination, and as soon as Max’s car was in view, Liz reached into the pocket of his jeans and stole his keys before he could say anything.

“We’re not eloping to Vegas, are we?” Max joked as he and Liz climbed into the car.

“Maybe,” Liz replied as she started the engine and pulled out onto the street. “I hear that the Elvis Chapel of Love has a discount if we use their drive-through.”

**************

Max and Liz drove for a while, leaving the confines of Roswell as soon as they could to gain some privacy.

“I don’t mean to question your natural radar, but do you know where you’re going?” Max asked.

“Of course I do,” Liz replied with a smile, giving Max a sideways look. “Your present is waiting for you out in the desert.”

Max looked over at her with a mixture of curiosity and confusion. What could she possibly have up her sleeve?

Liz continued to steal sideways glances at Max, her smile growing as she watched him try to figure out what his present was.

A short time later Liz pulled off the paved road and onto a dirt path. They drove for a few minutes before Max noticed that there was a blanket spread out on the ground near a large rock formation. There were things piled up on the blanket, but he couldn’t made out what they were with the limited light he had from the moon and headlights.

“We’re here,” Liz said as she shut off the engine and headlights. “Come on.” She climbed out with Max and skipped over to his side of the car, throwing her arm around his waist as she led him over to the blanket that lay several feet away.

Max could now tell that sitting next to the blanket was Liz’s telescope that used to be on her balcony, along with a backpack that was zipped up tight. “What this?”

“This is your present,” Liz said with a smile as she knelt down on the blanket, pulling Max down with her.

Max was still a little confused but he remained silent, knowing that Liz would explain everything in time. His confusion only grew, however, when instead of pointing the telescope up at the sky, Liz pointed it out into the desert.

“Look,” she said.

Max crawled over on his knees, giving Liz a questioning glace before he looked through the telescope. A smile instantly came to his face and grew even bigger when he felt Liz move in behind him to wrap her arms tightly around his waist, resting her chin on his shoulder.

“You like it?” she whispered into his ear.

“I love it,” Max whispered back. Through the telescope he found himself staring at the side of another huge rock formation, but what made this one stand out was that carved into the surface was a heart that had ‘M.E. + L.P.’ written in the middle, lit up by a huge flood light that lay below. Max looked down to find the source of the light and let out a little chuckle when he saw Michael standing next to Maria, who was waving in his direction even though she couldn’t see him. “Michael’s handy work?”

“Mostly,” Liz replied, giving his neck a soft kiss. “But that’s not really your present.”

Max turned and looked at her over his shoulder before his attention was suddenly drawn down to her hands that were wrapped around his stomach when he heard a soft creaking sound. His eyes widened when he saw what she was holding, his head swinging around to look into her eyes again.

“I know we’d get you one eventually, but since you picked mine out for me, I wanted to pick yours out for you,” Liz said, giving him a weak smile when she saw the look of shock on his face.

Max just stared at her over his shoulder for several seconds before he finally regained his ability to move again. He turned in her arms so he was facing her before he slowly reached down and took the velvet box out of her hands. He looked at the wedding ring for a few seconds before he glanced up at her, unable to resist the urge to lay her down on the blanket and move himself gently on top of her so as not to crush her.

Liz watched as he just stared at her again, his eyes glistening in the moonlight more and more by the second.

“I love you,” he whispered before he leaned down and kissed her tenderly, lazily, just enjoying the way she always felt when he touched her.

“I love you, too,” Liz said as she ran a hand down his chest. “Try it on. I want to see if I got the size right.”

Max sat back up and pulled Liz with him, his hand shaking a little as he held it out and allowed Liz to take the ring and slide it onto his finger. It was the perfect size and Max couldn’t help but hold it up so he could get a closer look at it, looking over the platinum silver band that had two thin stripes of gold on either side of it. The ring wasn’t overly shiny, something that Max liked, and the more he looked at it the more he realized that it was exactly the type of ring that he would have picked out for himself.

“You like it?” Liz asked softly.

Max looked over at her with a huge smile on his face. “No. I love it.”

Liz returned his smile with one of her own as she shyly tucked her hair behind her ear.

“But nowhere near as much as I love you,” Max said before he leaned over and kissed her again, grabbing her around the waist as he lifted her up onto his lap. “What about you? Do you like the way it looks on me?”

Liz gently grabbed his hand and brought it up so she could see the ring. She tenderly ran her index finger over the ring, then over Max’s finger. She couldn’t help but daydream about what it would be like after they were finally married, about how Max would be wearing her ring every minute of every day, signaling that he was not only lawfully hers, but spiritually hers as well. Instead of answering him verbally she wrapped her arms around his neck and covered his lips with her own, pushing him onto his back as she straddled his waist, never once breaking the kiss.

They continued to nibble on each other’s lips, both letting out sighs and moans as they let themselves lose control a little. It wasn’t until Max found himself running his hand under Liz’s shirt and reaching for her bra that he finally comprehended what was going on. Her soft gasp at his gentle touch was what got his attention, so he pulled his hands back and wrapped them around her waist instead as he leaned his forehead against hers.

“You…you always make me lose my head,” Liz panted out before she buried her nose into Max’s neck, inhaling his scent with each breath she took.

“You’re one to talk. All you have to do is look at me and I’m gone,” Max replied before he smiled and added, “Besides, you started it.”

Liz let out a laugh as she playfully bit Max’s neck, letting her lips and tongue gently ease the pain away before she pulled back, earning herself a warning glare from him.

“Keep it up and your virtue will be a thing of the past,” Max warned.

“Promise?” Liz teased with a devilish grin, knowing that Max would never let himself lose control like that. At least that’s what she thought.

To Be Continued…

posted on 12-Apr-2002 11:46:15 AM by Fanatic101
I just wanted to give everyone an idea of what I'm going to do. As I read through this story just now I realized that I only have six or seven more parts until it's finished.*sad* I have a short part already written (kind of a transitional piece) and I'll have that posted sometime today. After that, I'm going to get at least two parts out a week until this is done. In other words, my other fics (even Keys Of Faith, the one I just barely started) may not get updated for a couple of weeks (not that I really update that frequently anyway, but I'll try).

Thanks for the feedback, and if at any time you see that I'm slacking in my updates for this story, I give you all permission to yell at me.

Dani
posted on 12-Apr-2002 7:43:05 PM by Fanatic101
Here's the next part, just like I promised. I feel compelled to warn you that this part carries a heavy 'R' rating. *wink*

Part 27

“Oh god…oh yeah,” Liz moaned as Max laid her down on the blanket, trailing hot open-mouthed kisses down her neck. She gasped when she felt him slide his hands under her shirt again and reach for the clasp of her bra, clumsily unhooking it before he pulled back to look in her eyes, hesitantly cupping her breast in his hand as he ran his thumb over her nipple. Liz’s eyes closed as she arched into his hand, her face twisting in torturous pleasure as she dealt with the new sensations that Max was stirring up inside her. “Max…don’t stop.”

At that exact moment, Max nearly lost it…literally. As soon as his hand came into contact with her soft breast he could feel himself harden even more, which he didn’t think was possible. Then, if seeing the look of passion on Liz’s face wasn’t enough to almost sent him over the edge, hearing her moan his name definitely was. “Oh god,” he mumbled as he crushed his lips over hers, desperately needing to do something before he lost it by simply watching her.

Liz grabbed the front of his jacket to pull him down even closer, then changed her mind and rolled them over so she could be on top. She quickly straddled his waist as Max continued to lightly massaging her breast, making it impossible for her to think. She sat up and pulled him with her, making quick work to get rid of his coat and shirt, leaving him naked from the waist up. She wasted no time as she pushed him onto his back again, taking a second to admire his chest before she leaned over and closed her mouth over one of his nipples.

Max hissed as his body jerked, finding himself more than a little surprised at how aggressive Liz was being. It wasn’t that he minded; it was just a side of her that he rarely got to see.

Liz continued to kiss her way around his chest and stomach, smiling to herself when she felt his entire body tense as she ran her tongue along the waistband of his pants. She was about to go to work on undoing the button and zipper of his jeans when he suddenly pulled her up and kissed her…hard.

He trailed his lips along her jaw line and made his way up to her ear where he stopped for a second. “Since I’m half naked, I think it’s only fair that you be to.” Without waiting for her to respond, Max slid her jacket off and reached for the hem of her tee-shirt, his breath coming out in pants as he watched her lift her arms, silently giving him permission to take her shirt off. He couldn’t stop the gasp that escaped him when he first saw Liz’s body, and he could actually feel his heart accelerate to the point of failing.

Liz watched as Max’s eyes roamed over her, and for some reason, she didn’t feel the least bit self-conscious or embarrassed. The look of pure passion that he was giving her left no room for doubt that he loved what he saw. “Touch me Max,” she whispered, causing his head to snap up, his eyes burning with a desire that could only be matched by hers.

He nodded slowly as he brought a trembling hand up to her shoulder and traced her collarbone, his eyes following the trial of his fingertips as he carefully made his way down her petite body. When he came into contact with her exposed breast, he unknowingly held his breath as he cupped her in his hand again, his head spinning as he listened to her moan his name. It wasn’t long before he realized that touching her wasn’t enough; he needed to taste her. As he leaned in to do just that, he suddenly remembered that he hadn’t taken a breath for quite a while. He forced some air into his starving lungs just seconds before the tip of his nose softly nuzzled up against one of her nipples, causing her head to fall back as she reached out and ran her hands through his hair, urging him to kiss her where nobody had ever kissed her before.

“OH GOD!” Liz moaned loudly when she felt Max take her nipple softly into his mouth and run his tongue along it, sucking just hard enough to drive her completely mad.

After loving her like that for a minute, Max moved to the other nipple and repeated the action, groaning when he felt Liz grind herself into him, the sensation nearly causing him to buckle over in pleasure. “God…I want you so bad right now,” he mumbled as he kissed his way back up to her mouth, pulling back slightly so he could look into her dazed eyes.

“Then take me,” Liz whispered.

Max continued to look at her for a second before he slowly laid her on her back and nestled himself between her legs. He tenderly began to run his hand through her hair as his eyes remained locked on hers. “Are you sure? I know how much you wanted to wait until our wedding night.”

At that reminder, Liz found herself torn. She did want to wait until their wedding night, but after what they had just started, there was no way she could just put her cloths back on and ignore the burning desire she felt for him. That’s when a smile lit up her face.

“What?” Max asked with curiosity.

“I do still want to wait until our wedding night to make love to you, but that doesn’t mean we can’t…fool around a little.”

****************

“How much longer do we have to wait out here?” Michael complained as he and Maria kept the spotlight facing the rock formation out in the desert.

“Oh quit your bitching,” Maria said as she stopped waving to an invisible Max and Liz were who were probably not paying the least bit of attention to her anymore.

“I want to get out of here,” Michael said. “Come on. Those two are probably sucking face by now.”

“I told Liz that we’d wait until 10:30, so that’s what we’re going to do,” Maria replied.

“But that’s another ten minutes!” Michael exclaimed after he glanced at his watch.

Maria slowly turned around and gave him an icy glare, which promptly caused Michael to shut his mouth.

“I should have brought my portable DVD player,” Michael mumbled to himself as he folded his arms across his chest and leaned back against the car. “At least then I’d have some entertainment.”

Instead of Maria retorting with a smart-ass remark, which she normally did, she found herself smiling at her boyfriend. He just looked so cute, and for some reason very hot, standing against her car, pouting like a little boy. “You want entertainment?” she asked seductively as she walked up and wrapped her arms around his waist.

Michael stood up a little straighter at her suggestive tone, glancing around to see if anyone was in sight. He knew that they were alone, but they were teenagers so double checking just to make sure was something that he did no matter where they were. “What did you have in mind?” he asked with a smirk.

Maria eyed the backseat over his shoulder, causing him to growl at what she was suggesting. “I’m game if you are,” she said as she licked her lips slowly.

It only took Michael about a second to open the back door and drag Maria inside with him. “I’m definitely game.”

****************

“You two did it out in the desert in the back seat of your car?” Liz asked Maria the following morning. The two of them were sitting in a booth at the Crashdown, eating breakfast.

Maria just shrugged before she took a sip of her coffee. “What about you? I have to say that you’re positively glowing this morning.”

Liz couldn’t help the smile that instantly spread across her face. “Well…we didn’t actually DO it, but…” she let her sentence trail off, knowing that Maria would put two and two together.

“Oh my,” Maria said with wide eyes. “But you two definitely rounded third base, huh?”

“Let’s just say that Max and I are well on our way home,” Liz said with a laugh.

“So how was it?” Maria asked.

“It felt amazing, incredible…it was just…wow,” Liz said as a dreamy, far off look came to her face.

“Yeah? Just wait until you two actually do it,” Maria said before she dug into her food. “It’s a million times better.”

Just then the front door of the café opened and Max walked in. He immediately found Liz sitting in the booth with Maria and headed in their direction with a huge, dopey grin on his face.

“He looks more giddy this morning than you do,” Maria muttered to Liz.

When Max got closer to the table, Liz jumped out of her seat and threw her arms around his neck, giving him a proper good morning kiss.

“Hey,” Max said softly.

“Hey,” Liz replied.

“I missed you last night,” Max whispered in her ear.

“Not nearly as much as I missed you,” Liz whispered back.

“So, about prom,” Maria said, intentionally breaking into the lovebirds revere. “Michael said that you were taking care of the limo.”

“Yeah, I am,” Max replied as he and Liz slid into the booth across from Maria. “Just to make sure I gave them the right itinerary, we’re all meeting here on prom night, right?”

“Right,” Maria said with a nod.

“Then we’re heading to dinner at Chez Pierre and the prom after that, right?” Max asked.

“Right,” Maria replied.

“Then we’re all being dropped off back here at the café at the end of the night,” Max said.

“You got it, loverboy,” Maria said with a smile as she gave Max a wink. “So how was last night? Did you have fun out in the dessert?”

Max’s cheeks flushed a little as he turned and looked at Liz, silently asking her with his eyes if she had told her friend what they had done the night before.

Liz winced a little as she shrugged her shoulders.

Max just shook his head and smirked as he tried to give her a stern look.

“So what are you up to today?” Maria asked Max, knowing that he would appreciate a change in subject.

“I’ve got to go help Michael with his motorcycle,” Max replied with a sigh.

“Oh, that’s right,” Maria said with a nod. “He mentioned that to me yesterday. You don’t mind if Liz and I come by to see you two later on after our shifts, do you?”

“Not at all,” Max said with a smile as he turned to Liz. “In fact, I’d really like it if you did.”

“I’ll be there,” Liz replied with a smile of her own.

“I can’t wait,” Max said before he leaned over and gave her a lingering kiss, then said his goodbyes and walked out of the café.

“Come on Princess,” Maria said as she stood up from the booth. “We need to go clock in. Prince Charming will have to wait.”

******************

Later that day, Max and Michael were in the Guerin garage, giving Michael’s motorcycle a slight tune up. It was rather hot inside the garage, even with the door wide open, so both boys stripped off their shirts and worked with only their jeans and wife beaters on.

“I have to say, I’m impressed, Maxwell,” Michael said as he tightened a bolt near the engine of his motorcycle. “The way you and Liz were acting there for a while, I was starting to think that neither of you had a horny bone in your body.”

Max nearly choked on the soda he was drinking at Michael’s sudden confession, inadvertently spilling some of it on his white undershirt. “What are you talking about?” he asked as he wiped the drink off his chin with the back of his hand.

“Maria told me about your little ‘rendezvous’ out in the dessert last night,” Michael said with a smirk.

“Oh did she?” Max asked as he tried to clamp down on his embarrassment, making a mental note to talk to Liz later that night. He wasn’t upset with her for telling her best friend what they did, but at the same time he felt very strongly that some things were just meant to stay between the two of them.

“You aren’t pissed, are you?” Michael asked, noting the sudden change in his friend’s demeanor.

Max shook his head as he turned toward Michael. “Nah. It’s just not something I want to go into detail about.”

“Understood,” Michael said with a nod as he turned his attention back to his bike. “You’re a sensitive guy and I respect your viewpoint.”

At that Max started laughing, casing Michael to frown up at him. “You respect my viewpoint?” Max asked. “Maria’s been making you watch to many episodes of The View.”

“Hey, it keeps me in touch with my feminine side,” Michael said defensively.

“Boys, boys, boys,” Maria said as she and Liz walked into the garage, her eyes roaming over both sets of bodies in front of her.

“Hey,” Liz said as she walked up and wrapped her arms around Max’s waist, a small crease of confusion appearing on her forehead when her eyes landed on his under shirt. “Missed your mouth?” she asked with amusement as she nodded toward the soda stain.

Max looked down at his shirt and let out a small chuckle. “Yeah, you could say that.”

“Are you almost done here?” Liz asked, her question directed at both Max and Michael.

“Yeah, just a few more bolts to tighten,” Michael answered as he handed Max a socket wrench.

“Why?” Max asked as he squatted down to help Michael finish the job.

“Just curious,” Liz said as she skipped over to stand next to Maria.

“Liz,” Max said, knowing full well there was a definite reason why his girlfriend wanted to know when they were going to be finished. “Why?” he repeated.

“Geez,” Maria said before Liz could answer. “Can’t a girl be curious?”

Max ignored Maria and continued to look at Liz, a tiny smirk lighting up his face when he saw her wiggle her eyebrows and lick her lips seductively, giving a slight nod over her shoulder as she smiled wickedly at him. This little exchange between them went completely unnoticed by both Michael and Maria, who were too busy arguing about something completely irrelevant. It wasn’t until they both noticed Max start to tighten bolts at light speed that they turned to him with a mixture of confusion and surprise.

“What’s the rush there, Maxwell?” Michael asked.

“I just remembered that I’ve got some things to do at home,” Max said, trying to hide the slight blush that had crept up his cheeks.

Maria quickly realized what was going on when she turned toward Liz and saw that her friend had the same identical blush on her face as well. “Oh…right. I remember Isabel telling me that your mom needed help,” she lied. She was fully aware that both Max and Liz got embarrassed really easy when they were teased about fooling around with each other, so she decided to play dumb and give the two a break for once.

“Get going then,” Michael said, completely oblivious to what was really going on. “Tell your mom hi for me.”

“Will do,” Max said as he bolted up from the ground, grabbing Liz’s hand before he practically ran out of the garage and over to his car.

“You forgot your shirt!” Michael yelled after him.

“I’ll get it later!” Max yelled back before he and Liz climbed into his car and peeled out onto the street.

“I don’t get it,” Michael said as he turned toward Maria. “That boy sure is excited about helping his mom out,” he said, being completely serious.

“Yep,” Maria agreed with a smile, silently laughing at how clueless her boyfriend could be at times.

To Be Continued…

posted on 30-Apr-2002 7:57:06 PM by Fanatic101
Almost there, guys, I swear! I'll have a new part up really, really soon!

Dani
posted on 8-May-2002 4:46:00 PM by Fanatic101
I NEED HELP!

Okay, I've figured out a way to get updates out on a more timely basis, but I'm going to need someone's help.

Believe it or not, I don't have any problem whatsoever actually writing the new parts. What always causes the delays is the fact that I don't have a beta reader, so I always have to go back and proof read everything myself. I have difficulty finding the time to do this, which results in my not posting for several weeks on end.

So what I'm saying, in a rather lengthy way, is:

I'M IN DESPERATE NEED OF A BETA READER!

Not only would it help me out, but I'm sure that those of you who read my stories would be appreciative as well.

If you think you can help, either reply to this post or e-mail me at: koval1⊕charter.net. (I'll even beg if you ask me to)

Dani

Note: If you are interested in helping, I will need you to proofread new parts to ALL my stories. Thanks!
posted on 9-May-2002 1:41:58 PM by Fanatic101
First off, I just wanted to thank everyone who replied to my desperate plea. I never thought that so many of you would be willing to help...it really means a lot to me.

Secondly, after reading some e-mails, there seems to be some confusion about me. I hope you're all sitting down for this...I'm a guy. That's right...I AM A GUY. I've been told on numerous occasions that my name (the way it's spelled) is feminine, but that's my parents fault, not mine. My dad was born in Germany and I have several relatives who migrated to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia (yes, the same Czechoslovakia that Maria talked about in season one). Hence the last name Koval. Don't ask me about the spelling of my name...it's a European thing.

I hope this doesn't affect anyone's opinion of me. Believe me when I say that I didn't mean to mislead anyone. It just never crossed my mind that so many of you thought I was a girl. (Sorry!)

Dani
posted on 23-May-2002 9:28:48 PM by Fanatic101
FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Part 28

It was finally time…Prom had arrived.

“But this is my house too!” Max complained as Isabel started to push him towards the front door, handing him his tux on the way.

“I don’t care,” Isabel replied. “Liz is on her way over and I promised her I’d have you out of the house before she got here.”

“Why would she want me out of the house?” Max asked in disbelief. He had a hard time believing that Liz wouldn’t want to see him.

“She doesn’t want you to see her before she’s all dressed up for the prom,” Isabel said with an exaggerated sigh.

“Why would that matter?” Max argued back. “Since when is it a tradition that couples don’t see each other before the prom?”

“Look,” Isabel said, trying to be patient with her brother. “I’m just doing what I was told. She doesn’t want you to see her before she’s all dolled up and beautiful, so you aren’t going to see her. Period.”

“She’s always beautiful,” Max muttered as he turned to head out the door. “Fine…I’ll leave, but you tell her that I’m not happy about it.”

“I sure will,” Isabel agreed, giving her brother a slight shove before she closed the door behind him.

Max let out a sigh as he walked over and climbed into his car, suddenly tempted to just wait there until Liz arrived. He thought better of the idea when he realized that she was probably serious when she said that she didn’t want him to see her until she was all ready. She was always cute like that when I came to special occasions. He smiled to himself as he started up his car and drove over to the first friend’s house he could think of.

“Maxwell,” Michael said after he answered his door, slightly surprised to find his friend on his front doorstep. “What gives?”

“Well…I kind of got evicted by a group of teenage girls,” Max replied with a smile as he lightly scratched behind his ear.

“Ah,” Michael said as he stepped aside to let Max enter. “If it’s any consolation, I don’t know of any guy who could put up a serious fight against the four of them. They’re kind of like the Power Rangers in that sense.”

“Say what?” Max asked with a laugh.

“The Power Rangers,” Michael replied. “You know…if you can get them one on one, you’ve got a shot to win. But when you have to face them all at once, you can kiss your ass goodbye ‘cause you don’t got a snowballs chance in hell.”

“Interesting analogy,” Max said as he draped his rented tux over the back of a chair. “And just how often do you watch the kiddy shows?”

“Every Saturday morning,” Michael replied, catching the amused look Max was giving him. “Hey, give me a break. Cartoons are the only thing that’s on when I wake up. It’s either that or ‘This Old House’ with Bob Vila.”

“Well…we’ve got three hours until we have to go pick up the girls,” Max said after he glanced at his watch, quickly changing the subject.

“Want to play some Madden?” Michael asked, motioning over to his Playstation.

“Yeah, why not,” Max replied as he shrugged his shoulders.

“Alright, but just so you know, I get to be the Ravens,” Michael said.

*******************

The four girls were so busy getting each other ready for the big night that nobody noticed when Diane snuck into Isabel’s room with a camera. It wasn’t until the flash went off that they all jumped and turned to find Isabel’s mom smiling happily at them.

“Mom!” Isabel exclaimed, throwing her friends an apologizing glance.

“I’m sorry,” Diane said as she raised the camera to take another picture. “It’s my job to take pictures.”

“Well can you at least wait until we’re all ready?” Isabel asked as she rushed over and stood in front of her mom, preventing her from snapping any more pictures.

“You all look absolutely beautiful,” Diane said before Isabel backed her out of the room.

After the door was securely shut, Isabel turned to her friends with a slight blush. “Sorry about that.”

“Don’t be,” Maria said with a wave of her hand. “If you think you’ve got it bad, just know that my mom would be up in here with a video camera, filming everything so she could download it onto her computer and send it out to all her friends. You have no idea how haunting it feels to know that there are videos of me out there floating through cyberspace.”

“Hey, I don’t want to freak anyone out, but the guys are going to be here in fifteen minutes,” Liz pointed out as she continued to apply her makeup.

“HOLY GUACAMOLE” Maria practically yelled, causing the other three girls to look at each other before they burst out laughing. “What?”

“Holy Guacamole?” Liz asked with a laugh. “Where did you get that?”

“Hey, back up off me,” Maria said. “Every time I use profanity in my house I have to put a quarter in a jar. After the first week I practically had to put my entire paycheck in there, so I was forced to substitute the curse words with something else.”

“And you chose guacamole?” Isabel asked.

“What’s wrong with guacamole?” Maria asked back. “Hey, it works okay? Leave me alone.”

***************

“Maria said that they’d be ready to go by now!” Michael said in agitation after he glanced at his watch. He was currently pacing the length of the Evans’ living room while Max, Kyle and Alex all watched on from the doorway in amusement.

“My man, loosen your bra strap a notch” Alex said as he walked over and grabbed Michael by the shoulders, preventing him from moving. “If a woman says that she’ll be ready by seven thirty, that really means that she’ll be ready by eight.”

“Then why the hell did we get here so early?” Michael asked. “Why didn’t we just come at eight?”

“Because the women would get pissed if we weren’t here by seven thirty,” Alex replied.

“But if they’re not going to be ready until eight, why would they care?” Michael asked back.

“Michael, you ask questions to which there are no answers,” Alex said. “Many men have tried to figure out the inner workings of the female mind, but all have failed. The only thing we can do as men is accept the fact that there are certain situations that have no logical explanations.”

“What Alex is trying to say, in a rather lengthy way, is that if the girls say they’ll be ready by seven thirty, that means we better be here by seven thirty,” Kyle said. “Plain and simple.”

“But that makes no sense,” Michael said.

“It’s not supposed to,” Kyle replied.

Michel then turned to Max, hoping that he could shed some light on the subject.

“Hey, don’t look at me,” Max said with a smile as he raised his hands in the air. “I don’t question something that I know I won’t be able to understand.”

“Come on boys, I want all of you to stand together,” Diane said as she walked into the living room with the camera. As she looked at the four boys, she couldn’t help but smile. Max, Michael and Kyle all had on black tuxedos, each with different colored vests to go with them. But Alex on the other hand was a bold contrast to the other three. His outfit was completely white, from the jacket and pants down to the bow tie and shoes. He didn’t get the top hat and cane that went with the outfit only because Isabel refused to let him.

All four boys followed orders and stood together, with Alex and Max standing between Kyle and Michael. Just before Diane snapped the shot, Alex threw his arms over Max and Kyle’s shoulders, smiling brightly along with his friends.

“You all look so handsome,” Diane said as she walked over and pulled Max into a hug. When she pulled back, intent on retreating to the entryway until the girls came down, Alex cleared his throat to get her attention. When she turned towards him, she couldn’t help but smile when she saw him extend him arms out, telling her that he wanted a hug too.

All four boys turned towards the stairway when they heard female voices getting louder, each of them straining their necks as they tried to get a glimpse of their better halves.

Maria and Tess were the first ones down, and they both smiled at their boyfriends as they walked over to them. Tess’s outfit was quite simple. She wore a burgundy dress that fell down to her knees, with two thin straps running over each shoulder. It wasn’t really a tight fitting dress, but it did extenuate her curves in all the right places. Her hair was mostly pinned up, with just her curly bangs hanging loosely around her face and forehead.

Maria, on the other hand, finally decided to go with something a little more daring. It was still a school dance though, so she couldn’t really delve too far over the line and risk the chance that the school chaperons would refuse to let her into her senior prom because of indecent exposure. Her dress was a light pink color, and at first glance it appeared to be see through, even though it wasn’t. She decided to keep her hair fairly simple, styling it much the same way she normally would.

“Hey there handsome,” Maria said as she walked up to Michael. “Been waiting long?”

Max started to smooth out the front of his jacket as he waited for Liz to come down, taking a deep breath as he felt the butterflies in his stomach flutter to life. It didn’t take long before he could hear Liz’s voice getting louder, and as he looked up to the top of the stairs, his breath left him in a rush when his eyes landed on his most prized possession.

Liz must have felt the same way Max did because as soon as she saw him, her conversation with Isabel died a quick death. She briefly paused at the top of the stairs before she descended them, slowly making her way up to Max.

Max slowly looked over her outfit, the corners of his mouth tilting up in a smile at what he saw. She was wearing a white dress that hung down to her ankles, with one long slit running up one side to mid thigh. It had two thin straps holding it up, one over each shoulder, and they crossed in the back. The back of the dress dipped dangerously low and revealed a lot of skin, something that she knew Max would love. Her hair was curled and she had the front half pulled back, with just a few strands left dangling to frame her face. She decided not to pin it up completely, knowing that Max really liked it when her hair fell freely down her back, allowing him to run his hands through it.

Liz observed Max’s outfit much the same way that he did hers. He was wearing a classic black tux, much like Kyle and Michael’s, yet he looked completely different in it than the other two guys. The tux fit him snuggly in all the right spots, complimenting his muscles perfectly. She had seen dozens of guys wearing a very similar tuxedo as Max’s, but she had never seen anyone fill it out as well as he did. He looked, for lack of a better word, absolutely beautiful.

“You look positively gorgeous,” Max whispered as his eyes locked with hers.

“Thank you,” Liz replied with a shy smile. “You don’t look too bad yourself,” she said as she reached out and began to finger the lapel on his jacket.

Max gently reached out and pulled Liz into him, giving her a feather light kiss as he said, “Love you.”

“Love you too,” Liz whispered back.

“Alright everyone,” Diane said. “Before you head over to the Crashdown to get the limo, it’s time for corsages.”

When Max turned to his mom, who was standing next to Isabel, he noticed for the first time what his sister was wearing. Her dress was red, Alex’s favorite, and it ran down to her knees. It was strapless and tight fitting in a classical way. Her hair was completely pulled back and curled, even more so that the rest of the girls.

“Look at you,” Max said as he walked over and gave her a quick hug.

“Not too bad, huh?” Isabel asked with a smile.

“Not too bad at all,” Max replied. “But listen, you have to make me a promise tonight.”

“What’s that?” Isabel asked.

“You have to save me at least one dance,” Max said.

“You got it,” Isabel replied with a full blown smile.

******************

Before they all went to dinner, they stopped by the Crashdown where all the parents had gathered to see their kids off. There were a bunch of pictures taken of the eight teens and a ton of hugs that took place between the parents and kids. Once the limo arrived, each teenager was given the common lecture about being safe, and after the parents had established a curfew with each of them, the kids were off to the restaurant.

Dinner went by without a hitch, with all eight friends laughing and conversing in the back of the restaurant. Max and Liz kept stealing kisses whenever they could, but neither dared to let the kisses linger too long.

After everyone had finished eating dinner they all headed towards the prom. When they got there, everyone decided to wait in line and get their pictures taken first. Each couple had their turn in front of the camera, and after they were all done, they all stood together and took one big group picture.

After that, they wondered over and found an empty table to put their things on. Max had just barely taken off his jacket and hung it over the back of a chair when Lifehouse’s ‘Everything’ started to play. Liz quickly grabbed his hand and dragged him out onto the dance floor, not wanting to waist a single second that they could be spending in each other’s arms.

Max didn’t object as he pulled Liz close to his body, unable to keep from smiling as he stared down into her sparkling eyes.

“Tell me what you’re thinking about,” Liz said softly, completely loving the way that he was looking at her. From the twinkle in his eyes, she could tell that he absolutely adored her, and she always felt cherished when he looked at her that way.

“You,” Max replied simply.

“What about me?” Liz asked as a smile slowly crept up her face.

“When I saw you for the first time tonight, I had trouble breathing,” Max admitted. “I knew that you’d look absolutely gorgeous in your dress, but when I saw that it was white…I don’t know…I can’t really describe what I was feeling.”

“But I already told you that my dress was white,” Liz said with a giggle.

“I know,” Max said with a slight shrug. “I guess I just wasn’t prepared for how angelic you would look. To be honest, the first thing that went through my mind when I saw you tonight was how our wedding would be.”

“Really?” Liz asked as she started to play with the hair at the back of his neck.

“I just know that when I see you in your wedding dress, covered in white from head to toe, you’ll look so incredibly beautiful that I’ll need to have Michael steady me so I don’t fall over,” Max said, causing Liz to giggle again. “You may think I’m joking, but just wait and see. As soon as you start to walk down the isle, I can guarantee you that my legs with wobble a bit.”

“Well I guess I better tell my dad that we need to run down the isle then,” Liz joked.

“I’d appreciate it,” Max replied with a smile. He continued to stare at her for a few moments before he spoke again. “I don’t know how you do it,” he suddenly said out of nowhere, a hint of awe evident in his voice.

“Do what?” Liz asked in confusion.

“Make my heart beat a mile a minute,” Max replied as he gently grabbed one of Liz’s hands and brought it up to cover his heart so she could feel it for herself. “Every time you walk into the room, I can feel my knees weaken. Every time you look in my eyes, like you’re doing right now, I feel like breaking down from sheer joy. And every time we’re forced to part at the end of the night, I feel an overwhelming emptiness deep down in my soul. I need you; I crave you. I can’t breathe without you, I can’t think without you, I…I can’t live without you. I need to see your beautiful face each night before I close my eyes to sleep, and I need to wake up the next morning to the same sight. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you, Liz. I’d…I’d walk across water for you, I’d sacrifice everything I own for you…I’d die for you. I’m not complete without you.”

“Max,” Liz whispered with tears in her eyes, momentarily stopping his confession. “Why are you telling me this?”

“Be…because you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Max confessed. “And I’m scared to death that you’ll be taken away from me someday.”

“Why would you think that?” Liz asked softly as she reached up and cupped his cheek with her hand.

“I…I don’t know,” Max said as he closed his eyes and leaned into Liz’s touch, placing a light kiss on the palm of her hand. “Because it happened to me once before.”

“Max,” Liz said as she wrapped both arms around his neck and pulled him into a hug, not caring that they had stopped dancing in the middle of the dance floor. “I’ll never leave you…never.”

“I know you won’t,” Max said as he wrapped his arms tightly around her waist. “But we can’t always control what happens to us. Things are going so good for us right now, but I’m...I’m just afraid that someday you’ll be taken away from me…”

“Like your dad was,” Liz finished for him, running her hand though his hair when she felt him nod in response. She knew that he had finally come to terms with his dad’s death a little while ago, but she had no idea that he was actually afraid that she would be taken away from him as well. She could feel the tears welling in her eyes again as she placed a soft kiss on his neck, hating the feeling that she had no idea what to say. “I love you so much Max, not even death could stop me from being with you.” She closed her eyes in relief when she felt him smile against her neck, signaling that what she had just said was exactly what he needed to hear.

“You’re amazing, you know that?” Max whispered in awe. “Having spent the last nine months with you has made me realize just how lost I really was without you in my life. Now that I know what it feels like to be loved by you, I can’t understand how I ever lived without it.”

“Well you don’t have to worry about that anymore,” Liz whispered back. “No matter what happens, I’m going to love you eternally. That’s a promise.”

Max pulled back and locked eyes with Liz as an adoring smile lit up his face. “I’m going to hold you to that,” he said before he leaned over and reverently covered her lips with his own.

“You know, when you’re out on the dance floor, you’re supposed to be dancing, not making out,” Alex chimed in as he and Isabel swooped past them.

Max leaned his forehead against Liz’s as they both smiled at each other, finding it amusing that for a few minutes they had forgotten where they were.

The two of them spent the remainder of the night out on the dance floor along with the rest of their friends. Maria even managed to drag Michael out there, but not before he made her sign a waver, stating that he wouldn’t be held liable for any bodily injury that may occur from his inability to bust a move.

As the night drew to a close, all eight friends found themselves heading back to the Crashdown for a midnight snack before they headed their separate ways. Isabel and Alex were off to watch a movie at Isabel’s house, while Kyle and Tess were off to who knows where to do who knows what. After the other four had left, Max, Liz, Michael and Maria all gathered their things and climbed into Max’s car before they headed towards their destination for the night…the Buchanan Mansion.

To Be Continued…

posted on 4-Jun-2002 12:10:50 PM by Fanatic101
Part 29

“Can someone please tell me again why I agreed to this?” Maria asked as Max pulled up to the main gate of the Buchanan Mansion.

“Because it’s fun to scare the piss out of ourselves, right Maxwell?” Michael asked before he climbed out of the car.

Everyone else followed suit, each of them grabbing their bags before they started to walk towards the house. The outside appearance clearly reflected that the mansion hadn’t been occupied for several decades, from the peeling paint and cracked woodwork of the house to the weeds and swampland of the front yard. The house itself was only two stories tall, but it was wide enough to accommodate an orphanage.

“Well, it’s a good thing we changed our cloths before we headed over here,” Max said as he tried his best to avoid stepping in any mud.

Liz had grabbed a hold of the back of Max’s shirt with both hands, using him for balance as she followed his footsteps. Although she wouldn’t admit it out loud, she was a tad scared so she wanted him nearby just in case she needed to jump in his arms for protection.

“Max Evans, I’m going to pulverize you as soon as we get back to Roswell,” Maria said as she grabbed a hold of Michael’s arm.

“I never forced you out here,” Max replied with a smirk.

“Peer pressure,” Maria said sarcastically. “If I die out here tonight, I’m taking you with me.”

When they finally reached the front porch, they all stopped and looked at the shaky floor boards, wondering if the wood was strong enough to hold their body weight.

“After you, Maxwell,” Michael said. “Let us know if it’s safe.”

“Sissy,” Max muttered as he climbed the four steps up to the porch. He carefully made his way towards the front door while the other three waited to see if he’d fall through the floor or not. When he got to the front door, he noticed that it was slightly cracked open and that, judging from the damaged doorframe, it would be impossible to close all the way again. He slowly reached out and pushed the door open, peering into the house as the hinges squeaked loudly in protest. He took one step inside before a mischievous grin lit up his face. He cautioned a look back at his three friends to make sure they were still waiting for him to signal that it was safe before he took another step into the house and out of their view.

Liz was straining her neck as she tried to keep Max in sight, but after he had stepped further inside, she lost him. She directed her flashlight in through the front door, but apparently Max had stepped off to the side somewhere. “Max?”

There was no answer.

“Maxwell!” Michael yelled out.

Still no answer.

“Alright Max, quit screwing around!” Maria yelled.

Then, all of a sudden, they heard Max let out a cry for help from within the house. His voice sounded distant, but they could all hear a hint of desperation in his yell.

Liz didn’t hesitate for a second as she bolted onto the porch and into the house, followed closely by Michael and Maria. “Max!” she yelled.

She was met by silence.

“MAX!” she yelled again.

“Help!”

They all ran into a large room near the back of the house that used to be the living room at one time. They nervously glanced around but Max was nowhere in sight.

“Max, this isn’t funny!” Liz said in a slightly shaky voice.

“Oh God!” Maria suddenly said as she covered her mouth with her hand.

“What!?” Michael and Liz said at the same time.

All Maria could do was point down to the ground with a shaky finger.

When Liz directed her flashlight to the spot that Maria was pointing at, she could feel her stomach turn at the sight in front of her. Lying on the ground was Max’s backpack, and right next to it on the dusty floor were a set of footprints with two drag marks in-between that led over to a closed door. It was clear evidence that one person had been dragging another.

Liz glanced up at Michael before her eyes focused on the closed door again.

“Stay behind me,” Michael said quietly as he slowly walked over to the door.

“Michael!” Maria hissed. “What are you doing?”

“Shh!” Michael said as he placed his finger over his lips. “Just stay behind me.” He slowly reached out and pushed the door open, realizing that he was about to enter the kitchen.

Maria and Liz clung to each other as they closely followed behind Michael, nervously looking around for anything that seemed out of place. They made their way inside the kitchen, following the footprints and drag marks that led them to another door. When Michael reached out to grab the doorknob, Max made his presence known.

He had crept up behind the group and had nearly given himself away when a laugh threatened to overtake him upon seeing the looks on his friend’s faces. “BOOO!” he yelled as he jumped into everyone’s line of sight, the floorboards beneath his feet making a loud banging sound.

Liz and Maria both let out a high pitched scream as they jumped back a good five feet, while Michael chose a different approach to deal with his fear. Upon hearing the ‘intruder’, he quickly turned in Max’s direction and let loose with a blind right hook, not knowing whom it was he was trying to hit. The punch caught Max square on the jaw, sending him stumbling back a couple of steps.

“YOU BASTARD!!” Maria yelled as she ran over and started to punch Max wherever she could. Max protected his already bruised face with his arms as he tried to back away from Maria’s assault.

“Maria!” Max said. “It’s me!”

“I KNOW IT’S YOU!” Maria yelled.

Michael quickly rushed over and grabbed his girlfriend, preventing her from causing any more physical damage to Max. After getting one last punch in, Maria let out a huff before she stormed off towards the front door again.

Max finally looked up at Michael as he rubbed his jaw, his expression one of unbelieving surprise. “Why the hell did you hit me?!”

“Oh shove it, Maxwell,” Michael said before he followed his girlfriend. “You’re lucky I didn’t try to break your freaking neck.”

Max flexed his jaw muscle a little as he turned to Liz, who had yet to move from her spot against the wall. Max could tell that she was royally pissed, and rightfully so. She was staring at him with an icy glare and he could see that her chest was heaving in and out as she tried to calm down from the heart attack that he had probably given her. “Liz,” he said as he took a step towards her.

Liz held up her hands and shook her head as she turned and started to leave.

“Liz…I was just having some fun,” Max said with a smile.

“Just having some fun?!” Liz suddenly yelled as she whirled around to face him. “What…you thought that scaring the living shit out of me would be fun?!!!! I seriously thought that something happened to you! I was literally on the verge of tears!” Upon saying that she actually did start to cry, but she turned her back on Max so he wouldn’t see.

And that made Max feel like a complete and utter jackass. “Liz,” he said softly as he walked over to pull her into a hug. “I’m sor…”

He wasn’t able to complete his sentence because as soon as he was within reaching distance, Liz whirled around to face him again. Her intention was to point her finger in his chest and give him another piece of her mind, but that’s not what actually happened. When she turned, her arm swung around a little higher than she wanted. She accidentally smacked Max in the face with her fist, nailing him with another right hook across the jaw.

The punch actually sent Max stumbling back on his ass, landing with a soft thump. It wasn’t that the punch was exceptionally strong, even though it was coming from someone Liz’s size, it was just that the right hook had caught him completely off guard.

Liz looked down at Max in surprise, her hand flying to her mouth when she realized what she had just done. “Oh my God, I am SO sorry,” she said as she knelt down next to him.

Max shook his head slightly as Liz helped him climb to his feet. He rubbed his jaw again, realizing, rather painfully, that pulling a prank like that wasn’t the brightest idea in the world.

“Are you alright?” Liz asked worriedly.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Max replied with a smile. “Just surprised is all.”

Liz wasn’t sure what to do now. She hadn’t meant to hit Max, but she was still mad at him for what he had done. “I’m sorry for hitting you…but I’m still pissed at you,” she said before she stormed off through the door that led to the front of the house.

“Liz!” Max called out. He let out a defeated sigh as he brushed the dust off his pants, then retrieved his backpack and slowly made his way out to the front porch where he intended on apologizing profusely.

As he was walking through the front door, he noticed that Michael had his arms wrapped around Maria as they stood off to the side of the porch that overlooked the driveway. He quickly looked around him but he didn’t see Liz anywhere. He took a deep breath as he put his backpack down and walked over to his two friends. “Look guys…I’m really sorry about that. I was just trying to have some fun, but I realize now that it was an incredibly thoughtless thing for me to do.” After getting no response from either of them, Max went on. “You’re right Maria…I’m a bastard, a prick, a complete and utter waist of space…”

“Don’t forget lame ass,” Michael chimed in.

“And lowly piece of shit who doesn’t deserve to have us as friends,” Maria added.

“I’m really sorry,” Max said again.

“I swear to God Max, if you ever try anything like that again I’m going to castrate you,” Maria said, causing Max to smile.

“I’ll even hand you the knife,” Max said. “So…are we good?”

Maria let out a heavy sigh as she leaned into Michael. “Yeah girlfriend, we’re good.”

Max then turned his eyes to Michael.

“I don’t know,” Michael said. “I think I need to get a few more punches in before I’ll start to feel better.”

“Liz already beat you to it,” Max said as he opened his mouth a little and rubbed at the sore spot on his jaw line. He could tell that he had a bruise forming already.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Maria said with a smile. “Liz decked you?”

“Yeah,” Max said with a nod. “She didn’t do it on purpose, but she hit me so hard I fell on my ass.”

“Alright Liz!” Maria said with a laugh. “You know, forget about us, you deserve a lot worse for what you did to her.”

“Yeah, I know,” Max said quietly. “Have you seen her?”

“She never came out of the house,” Maria said.

Max nodded as he turned and walked back through the front door, scanning the entryway for Liz. “Liz?”

“In here.”

Max walked into the first open room on the left, following the sound of her voice. He saw her standing next to a window that was half covered by wooden boards, half open to look out over the porch and front yard. She had her arms crossed in front of her body, hugging herself in an attempt to draw comfort. “Hey,” he said as he stood next to her.

“Hey,” Liz replied as she kept her gaze out the window.

“I’m a jackass, aren’t I?” Max asked.

“Yes you are,” Liz said, still refusing to look at him.

“And I deserve everything I got and more,” Max went on. “Even your right hook that sent me sprawling on my ass.”

“I didn’t do it on purpose, but you deserve a hell of a lot more than that,” Liz said. “You deserve to get the living hell beat out of you.”

“Yeah, I do,” Max agreed. “And I’ll let you do that if it would make up for what I just did. I’ll let you beat me until I’m black and blue if it means that you’ll forgive me. I’ll even provide the accessories like a bat or a club if you need something with more leverage.”

Liz couldn’t help but smile a little at that. She finally turned her head and looked up at him for the first time since he had joined her. “You know Max, I’m not pissed that you played a joke that scared me…well, not that pissed anyway…but what really got to me is that you made me believe something had happened to you. You made me believe that someone had attacked you and dragged your body away. If you had just jumped out and scared us without staging that whole scene in the living room, I wouldn’t really be mad at you.”

“Liz, I’m really sorry. I didn’t think,” Max said as he reached out and ran his hand down her back soothingly. “I should have known better.”

“Yeah, Max, you should have,” Liz said softly.

Max could still see the look of fear in her eyes, and it made him feel lower than pond scum. Forget about Liz beating the living hell out of him, at that particular moment he felt like beating the living hell out of himself. “I’m such an idiot,” he said as he pulled Liz into a hug.

Liz wrapped her arms around his waist as she buried her cheek into his chest, allowing him to hold her. After a few minutes, when Max started to pull back a little, she refused to let him. She clung to him even tighter as she grabbed fistfuls of his jacket in her hands.

Max started to plant soft kisses all over her forehead as he ran a hand through her hair. “It’ll never happen again Liz, I promise,” he said.

“I know,” Liz whispered back. “I know.”

*****************

“Jaw sore?” Michael asked Max later that night as all four friends gathered in the living room. They had lit the two lanterns they brought with them so they could have some light to situate themselves with. They had a couple of foam mattresses that they laid out underneath their sleeping bags so they wouldn’t have to lay on the hard floor.

“Yeah, it does,” Max said as he flexed his jaw.

“Good,” Michael replied.

“I’m really sorry I hit you,” Liz said as she reached up and lightly rubbed his jaw for him.

“I’m not,” Michael muttered.

“It’s okay Liz,” Max said with a smile. “Don’t worry about it.”

“But it’s not okay,” Liz insisted. “I should have been more careful.”

“You know, if you two were married, that could be considered domestic abuse,” Maria joked.

“Oh, that’s just great,” Liz said as he looked over at Maria. “It’s not like I don’t feel horrible already.”

“Liz,” Max said with a laugh. “You didn’t do it on purpose.”

“Still,” Liz said as she looked up at him with concern.

“Don’t apologize,” Michael said. “He deserved it.”

“Are you still holding a grudge?” Max asked.

“You’re damn right I am!” Michael said.

“Oh get over it Michael,” Maria said as she dug through her backpack, looking for a snack.

“You know, we still haven’t checked out the rest of the mansion,” Max said before Michael could respond.

“I’m not sure I want to after the crap you just pulled,” Maria said.

“I’ll give Liz my leash,” Max said. “No more jokes tonight, I promise.”

Maria eyed him carefully before she finally nodded. “Alright, I’ll hold you to that.”

The four of them grabbed their flashlights before they stood up and walked out into the main hallway.

“Let’s check upstairs first,” Michael said, leading the way to the staircase near the front door.

The stairs were well worn, with some of the steps missing altogether. They all creaked as the group made their way up with Michael in the led, followed by Maria, Max and Liz. Every room they went into was a complete mess of wood and dust, with practically every window boarded shut. One of the rooms didn’t even have a floor, having collapsed to the lower level a number of years ago.

After having completely checked out the upper level, Liz and Maria were sufficiently wigged out. Every creek, every whistle of wind that came through the boarded up windows, every imaginary sound that they heard caused them to grab a hold of Max and Michael even more. By the time they made it back downstairs, both boys had claw marks on their arms from the girls’ grip.

“Loosen up, will ya?” Michael asked as he glanced down at Maria. “I still need that arm.”

“Can it Michael,” Maria said, in no mood to argue with him.

“Let’s check out down here,” Max said, pointing his flashlight down the only hallway they had yet to explore.

“Let’s not and say we did,” Maria said as she and Michael reluctantly followed behind Max and Liz.

They were about halfway down the hallway when they all heard a low rumbling sound coming the closed door at the very end. They all stopped dead in their tracks as Max and Michael shared a look, both swallowing hard before they slowly went on. As they approached the last room at the end of the hallway, the rumble steadily grew louder until the floorboards beneath their feet started to vibrate.

“Okay, can we go please?” Maria begged. “I’m too young to die.”

“Max!” Liz whispered with wide eyes, pointing to the floor by the closed door.

“What the hell?” Michael asked.

All four eyes were transfixed on the bottom of the door, were a bright white light had suddenly appeared, illuminating the floor in front of them.

“That’s it!” Maria exclaimed. “I’m out of here!”

Michael quickly grabbed her around the waist before she could take off, causing her to squirm against him. “Maria…would you rather stick with us, or run off by yourself?”

Maria stopped squirming, but it was clear from her body language that she wanted to be anywhere but there.

Max took a step forward, but before he could reach out and grab the doorknob, Liz grabbed his arm.

“What are you doing?!” she whispered urgently.

“I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation for this,” Max insisted. “We’ll never know unless we open that door.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard the explanation before,” Maria said. “This is exactly what everyone says happens before the door swings open to the ghost of Dominic Buchanan. I say we get the hell out of here now!”

“Just wait a second,” Max said as he reached for the doorknob again. Just before he grabbed a hold of it, the door itself started to vibrate, causing him, and everyone else, to jump back a step.

“ALRIGHT DAMN IT!” Michael yelled, having clearly lost his temper. He hated feeling scared, so he handled the situation the only way he knew how…through his anger. “I’m going to open this door and there better not be anyone, or anything, on the other side. If there is, I’m going to stick my foot so far up your Casper ass that you’ll be flossing with my shoelaces!”

With that said, Michael reached out and threw the door open, causing both Liz and Maria to let out a little scream. They all took an instinctive step back, bracing themselves for the worst, but the sight that greeted them caused Max to start laughing uncontrollably. It wasn’t long before Michael joined him, while both girls looked at them like they were insane.

On the far end of the room there was an open window that overlooked the back yard. It looked like it had been boarded up at one time, but now it was open to the outside world. The light that had been shinning through the door, and the cause of the vibrating floorboards, was nothing more than a train that was heading in their direction. Apparently there were railroad tracks that ran along the side of the house, so when night came, the lights from the trains shined right in through the open window, causing the eerie effects.

“I’m sorry, but I fail to see the humor in this situation,” Maria said as she placed her hands on her hips.

“There’s your ‘Casper’,” Max said to Michael with a laugh, pointing at the train. “Flossing with your shoelaces? Very creative.”

At that, Liz couldn’t help but let out a giggle herself.

“Can we please leave now?” Maria asked again.

“Yeah, let’s get out of here,” Michael said. “I’m sure we can find a more comfortable camping spot out in the desert somewhere.”

“Sounds good to me,” Liz said as she led the way back to gather their stuff. After they doubled checked to make sure they didn’t leave anything behind, they all piled back into Max’s car and tore off down the dirt road, away from the mansion.

To Be Continued…


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 4-Jun-2002 12:11:28 PM ]
posted on 9-Jul-2002 12:02:12 AM by Fanatic101
Boy has this fic gotten away from me. I had originally planned on having this thing finished up four or five parts ago, but alas, we're still here. Not too much longer though. Thanks for your patience.


Part 30

“We need to find a spot with some dead wood so we can build a campfire,” Michael said as Max pulled out into the desert. He was sitting up front in the passenger seat while Maria and Liz said behind their respective boyfriends.

During the drive, Max had reached behind him whenever he wasn’t shifting so he could cup Liz’s calf in his hand and run his thumb across her soft skin. Liz had leaned forward at one point to give Max’s neck a massage when she saw him roll his head around to stretch his muscles. When they turned onto the dirt road, however, everyone was focusing on finding a good spot for the night.

“How about over there?” Max asked as he pointed to a hill with a cluster of trees around it. “I’m sure we can find some dead wood there.”

“Wait,” Liz said as she pointed in a different direction. “What about over there? There’s more trees.”

“I’m with Liz,” Maria said. “It’s snuggled up again the side of the mountain so it looks like a better place to camp out.”

They all headed in the direction Liz had pointed to, and before long they had all piled out of the car to look around.

Max turned on his flashlight and pointed it off in the distance, smiling when he spotted a bunch of dead wood not too far away. “Nice call, hon,” he said, turning and giving Liz a big smile.

“I have my moments,” Liz replied with a shrug, returning his smile before she started to unpack everything from the car with Maria.

Max and Michael headed off to get the firewood and as soon as the girls were out of earshot, Michael nudged Max to get his attention.

“Let me ask you something.”

“Shoot,” Max replied as he started to gather some wood.

“When you proposed to Liz, how did you know it was the right time?”

“I don’t know,” Max replied after thinking about it for a second. “I just did.”

“I mean, how did you know she would say yes?” Michael asked as he started to help out.

“I didn’t,” Max replied honestly. “I just hoped and prayed that she would. Why do you ask?”

Michael glanced back at the girls just to make sure they wouldn’t overhear him before he turned back to Max. “This stays between the two of us.”

“Of course,” Max replied, his curiosity now peaked.

“You know I’m not very good about expressing my emotions, and I’m just as bad about figuring out what I’m feeling,” Michael said. “I care about Maria. I mean I love her…I know I do. I just figured that since you and Liz have the perfect fairytale love story, I could compare what you feel for Liz to what I feel for Maria just to get a clue about how deep my feelings are. You know, just to see if wedding bells are a possibility for us to.”

Max tried not to laugh even though he found it quite funny that Michael needed a comparision to figure out his feelings. “With Liz…I just feel whole. I feel like I can do anything as long as she’s with me, and that I’m really a nobody without her. My world revolves around her, and I know that her world revolves around me. I can’t really describe the feeling…it’s just so…cosmic.”

“Oh man,” Michael muttered as he ran a hand through his hair. “The best way I can describe my feelings for Maria involves some art supplies and a quart of oil.” When he saw Max looking at him funny, he held up his hand. “Don’t ask.”

“Michael,” Max said as he walked over and slapped him on the back. “Every love story is unique. For you to compare what Liz and I have to what you and Maria have is unfair to everyone involved. I have no doubt that you love her, but as far as judging exactly how much you love her…well, that’s up to you to figure out.”

“Is there going to be a fire sometime in the near future?” Maria yelled up to them. “I’m freezing my ass off out here!”

******************

Max and Michael finally got the fire going while Liz and Maria laid out their sleepingbags next to the blaze. Michael and Maria shared a bag, as did Max and Liz. They roasted some marshmallows, and when Max suggested that they tell scary stories, everyone grabbed a handful from the bag and unloaded them at him.

“It was just a joke,” Max said with a smile. “Sheesh.”

They all stayed up for a while, just talking, but eventually sleep had claimed everyone except for Max. He was propped up on his elbow and glancing down at Liz’s sleeping face, smiling as he gently ran his fingers through her hair.

“I know you can’t hear me,” he whispered so as not to wake her, “but I want to tell you something. I really am sorry for what I did tonight. I know you said that you forgive me, but I’m not so sure that I forgive myself. I still can’t believe I did that to you, but I’ll make it up to you, I promise. I’m not sure how, but I will. I haven’t told you this yet but I went ahead and booked us a flight to Palo Altos the weekend after next so we can go house shopping. I can’t wait to live with you as husband and wife. I can’t wait to have little Liz’s running around the house with their long dark hair and their beautiful brown eyes.” He paused for a second before he finished his little speech to a still sleeping Liz. “I have something for you. It’s something I found a little while ago when I was going through my stuff. It’s really special to me and I want you to have it, but I want to wait for the right moment to give it to you. I’m not exactly sure when that will be though.”

Max took a deep breath as he climbed out of the sleeping bag to make sure the fire was almost out. He crawled back in behind Liz and wrapped his arms around her, bringing the front of his body flush with her back. “Good night baby,” he whispered before he planted a light kiss on the back of Liz’s head and closed his eyes to sleep.

Since he couldn’t see her anymore, he missed it completely when Liz’s eyes slowly opened and a smile crept up her face.

****************

Max woke up the next morning to the feel of something nuzzling his neck. When he felt a seductive, hot, open-mouth kiss plant itself right under his jaw line, he knew that he wasn’t dealing with a something but rather a someone. He was lying on his side facing away from Liz and the campfire, and he could feel her small body pressed up against his back.

“Morning,” Liz whispered softly into his ear before she sucked his earlobe in-between her teeth.

Max couldn’t stop the smile that broke out across his face as he turned over and open his eyes to find Liz’s adoring gaze staring back at him. Her expression changed suddenly when she finally saw his face for the first time that morning. When Max saw her eyes widen in shock and her hand fly to her mouth, he quickly sat up and reached out to cup her cheek in his hand. “Liz? Honey, what’s wrong?” he asked with concern.

“Your jaw,” Liz said reverently as she reached out and grabbed his chin, tilting his head to the side so she could get a better look at the humongous bruise that had formed overnight. She reached out and lightly touched it, quickly recoiling her hand when she heard Max hiss at the contact. “It’s sore, huh?”

“Yeah, a little,” Max replied as he opened and closed his mouth a couple of times to exercise his jaw. “How bad does it look?”

“Wow baby!” Maria said from over Liz’s shoulder. Both Max and Liz turned to find her staring at Max’s jaw. “You got clocked pretty good there, girlfriend,” she said as a smile broke out across her face. “Hey Michael! Come check out Max’s jaw!”

Michael walked over to examine his handywork with a huge smile. “That’ll teach you.” He looked at the bruise for a couple more seconds before he clapped his hands together. “Well, who’s hungry?”

Michael and Maria went back to finishing breakfast while Max and Liz started to pack up their things.

“Are you alright?” Liz asked worriedly.

“I’ll live,” Max replied with a lopsided grin as he reached into his backpack and grabbed a clean shirt to change into. “Besides, I deserved it.”

“No you didn’t,” Liz said softly. “Well…yeah, I guess you did, didn’t you?”

“Thanks,” Max said with a laugh before he took off his shirt and playfully tossed it at her.

Liz returned his smile as she caught his shirt and brought it up to her nose for a second before she tucked it away into her bag.

“Come on lovebirds!” Maria called out. “Breakfast is getting cold.”

**************

Later that day, after Max, Liz, Michael and Maria had returned from the desert, they all met back at the Evans household.

“So how was prom?” Diane asked as the four teenagers walked into the kitchen. She was currently making lunch, and she nearly dropped her knife when she glanced up and saw her son’s face. “What on earth did you do?” she asked as she walked over for a better look.

“I had a minor disagreement with Michael’s fist,” Max said, throwing his friend a look. “I made the mistake of sneaking up behind everyone and scaring them.”

Diane placed her hands on her hips as she gave her son the ‘motherly look’.

“I know, I know,” Max said, raising his hands in the air. “I’ve already been through the lecture.”

“Good,” Diane said, giving Liz a smile. “It’s nice to have you here to keep him in line when I can’t.”

“To answer your question, prom was fun,” Max said casually as he opened the fridge and grabbed a carton of juice.

“It was fun?” Diane asked before she looked over at Liz. “Is that the best answer I’m going to get?”

“It was amazing,” Liz said with a smile. She then went on to tell Diane about everything, from the decorations and music to the overall theme and atmosphere.

“It sounds wonderful,” Diane said when Liz was done. “Thank you, Liz. It’s nice to have someone who’s willing to take the time to describe things for me,” she added, throwing a look over at her son.

Max just shrugged before he hopped up and sat on the edge of the counter.

“So what do you have planned for the rest of the day?” Diane asked, smiling at her son’s casualness.

“I don’t know,” Max said. “I think we’re all just going to hang out.”

“At least until five,” Maria said. “Michael and I have to work today.”

“My dad scheduled you?” Liz asked, a little shocked.

“He did after I asked him to,” Maria said. “I need the money.”

“Well you have the house all to yourselves then,” Diane said. “I need to go into work for a few hours and Isabel’s out with Alex. Try not to burn the house down, honey,” she said as she gave Max a quick kiss on the cheek.

“I’ll do my best,” Max replied as he hopped off the counter and led everyone into the living room. “I don’t know about you guys but I’m tired. That hard desert floor wasn’t the most comfortable place I’ve slept.”

“Amen,” Maria said, lying on the couch before she pulled Michael down next to her. “I think spaceboy and I are going to crash on your couch for a few hours.”

Michael didn’t complain one bit, mostly because he was exhausted himself. A nap sounded way to good to pass up.

“It’s all yours,” Max said before he grabbed Liz’s hand. “We’ll be up in my room.”

“Behave yourselves,” Maria joked as she cuddled into Michael’s body and closed her eyes.

Max and Liz walked up the stairs and into Max’s room, where he closed the door as she kicked off her shoes and climbed under the covers.

“Fooling around is always fun, but I think I’m too tired to do anything,” Liz said as she pulled back the covers for Max.

He took off his shoes and threw them next to hers before he pulled his shirt over his head and climbed in.

Liz smiled as she snuggled up against him, loving the fact that he removed his shirt. She loved the feel of his bare skin under her cheek.

“Before we doze off, I need to ask you something,” Max said. “You’re not working next weekend are you?”

“Not that I know of,” Liz said, knowing why he asked but feighning ignorance anyway.

“Good, ‘cause I kind of bought us a couple of plane tickets so we can go house shopping,” Max said quietly.

Liz pulled back slowly and looked into his eyes, a smile lighting up her face as she gazed at him lovingly. “House shopping?” she asked softly.

“Yeah,” Max replied. “I know we talked about going some time after prom so I figured next weekend would be a good time.”

“Yeah,” Liz said before she leaned over and gave him a gentle yet firm kiss. “I love you, Max Evans.”

“And I love you, soon to be Liz Evans,” Max replied.

“I like the sound of that,” Liz admitted with a shy smile. “A lot.”

“So do I,” Max said with a smile of his own, capturing her lips for one more kiss before he encased her in his arms.

They both slowly drifted off to sleep, their smiles never once leaving their faces.

**************

The following week went by rather quickly, with a lot of the time being spent preparing for finals and the impending graduation that was taking place in a couple of weeks. Max and Liz had been antsy all week, both looking forward to the weekend when they would be flying down to look at houses. So when Saturday finally rolled around, and they found themselves on a plane headed for Palo Altos, they could barely contain themselves.

It had taken a little persuading when it came to getting Liz’s parents to let her go, but once they found out that the kids would be staying with an old friend of the Evans family, Jeff and Nancy finally gave their consent. There was one stipulation though…once Max and Liz found the house they wanted, they both had to agree that they wouldn’t sign anything until all three parents had a chance to overlook the contract and talk to the realtor.

“We’re going to buy a house! We’re going to buy a house!” Liz sang as she bounced up and down in her seat.

Max couldn’t help but smile at her. She looked so cute when she got excited, and he absolutely loved the fact that he was part of the reason she was so happy.

“What can I get you to drink?” the flight attendant asked politely, looking at the two teenagers with a smile.

“You wouldn’t happen to have any cherry coke, would you?” Max asked hopefully.

“No, I’m sorry,” the attendant replied with an apologetic smile. “We only have Pepsi, 7-up, orange and club soda.”

“I’ll have a 7-up,” Liz said.

“Orange for me,” Max said with a smile.

The attendant nodded before she went on to help the other passengers.

When Max turned to look at Liz again, he found that she was smiling brightly at him.

“What?” he asked with a grin.

Liz glanced around for a second, as if to make sure that nobody would overhear her, before she motioned Max over with her finger. “Come here…it’s a secret.” Max complied and shifted closer to her. When he was close enough, Liz wrapped her arm around his shoulders and leaned over to whisper into his ear. “We’re going to buy a house.”

Max let out a laugh as he looked up into her eyes. “Are you sure?”

“Uh huh,” Liz said with a nod. “My fiancee said so.”

“And he never lies, huh?” Max joked.

“Not to me he doesn’t,” Liz said with a grin, her eyes reflecting all the love and adoration she felt for the man sitting next to her.

“Yeah, you got me there,” Max admitted. “I don’t think I could lie to you if I tried.”

“Well don’t try,” Liz said softly before she leaned over and kissed him. “That’s one of the many things I love so much about you…your honesty.”

Max just smiled before he nodded at the notebook in Liz’s hands. “How many appointments did you make?”

“Well, the realtor said she has five houses that might work out for us,” Liz said enthusiastically.

“Did you tell her our price range?” Max asked. It would be pointless to look at a house that was out of their budget.

“I did,” Liz replied with a nod. “And every single house we’re going to be looking at is either at or below that.”

“You’re so good,” Max said with a smile as he reached up and cupped her cheek in his hand.

“I know,” Liz said casually, shrugging her shoulders.

They spent the rest of the flight going over the things they needed to do while in California, and by the time they landed, they were all ready to start their house buying adventure.

After they made their way through the terminal and down to the main entrance of the airport, Max glanced around, trying to find his mom’s friend that they were going to be staying with.

“Do you see her?” Liz asked as she glanced around too. She had no idea what the lady looked like, but that didn’t stop her from trying to find her.

“No I…” Max said, cutting his sentence short when he finally spotted her. “There she is.” He grabbed Liz’s hand and led her over to where his mom’s friend was parked.

“Max!”

“Hi Kathleen,” Max said, allowing the lady to pull him into a brief hug.

“How have you been?” Kathleen asked.

“Good, good,” Max replied before he turned to Liz. “This is my fiancée, Liz. Liz, this is Kathleen Topolski, my mom’s friend.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” Liz said with a smile, shaking the blonde lady’s hand.

“Likewise,” Kathleen said, returning her smile. “Well, I just need you to drop me off at my office then you can have my car for the rest of the afternoon. Just make sure you pick me back up at six.”

“Six…got it,” Max said as he climbed into the car, pulling Liz down to sit next to him in the back seat. “Are you still with the FBI?”

“Yep,” Kathleen replied as she pulled out into traffic.

“You work for the FBI?” Liz asked in shock.

“Why do you sound so surprised?” Kathleen asked with a laugh.

“Oh…it’s just that I’ve never met and FBI agent before,” Liz said.

“Yeah, I get that a lot,” Kathleen said. The drive over to her office didn’t take too long. She climbed out and grabbed her stuff before she turned to Max and Liz, who had moved into the front seats of the car. “Remember, six o’clock.”

“Got it,” Max said with a smile. “We’ll be here.”

“Alright, have fun shopping,” Kathleen said before she made her way into her office.

Max turned to Liz and gave her a lopsided grin before he put the car in drive. “You ready?”

“You bet your ass I am,” Liz replied with a smile.

To Be Continued…


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 9-Jul-2002 11:07:53 AM ]
posted on 1-Aug-2002 4:27:16 PM by Fanatic101
I just thought I'd stop by and leave a little note. I just got back from vacation a little while ago but I've been working on a new part that I should have done here shortly. I do have to start physical therapy for my recent injury, but hopefully that won't effect my timetable too much.

Jenn, to answer your question, Max and Liz are getting married before they head off to school. The wedding will take place in part 33 or so.

Thanks for all the feedback and the bumps. It's really great not having to tab through 20 pages to find my story.

Dan
posted on 10-Aug-2002 2:42:54 PM by Fanatic101
Thanks for all the feedback and bumps! Only 3 or 4 more parts to go!

Part 31

“Okay, now before we go in and talk to the realtor, I think there’s something we need to go over,” Max said after he pulled up to the real estate office and parked the car.

“What’s that?” Liz asked as she tucked her hands between her legs.

“Now by me saying this, I’m not implying that this only goes for you,” Max said as he turned to face her. “This goes for both of us so we’ll need to watch out for each other.”

“Max,” Liz said with a smile as she reached over and touched his arm. “What is it?”

“Okay, one thing my dad taught me about negotiations, whether it be a car or in our case a house, is that you don’t fall in love with one particular home until after you agree on a price and sign the paperwork to buy it,” Max said. “The second it becomes more important for us to have the house than it is for them to sell it, we’ve lost ground on the bargaining table.”

“That makes sense,” Liz replied with a nod.

“Alright,” Max said with a smile. “Shall we?”

“We shall,” Liz said as she climbed out of the car and walked into the real estate office hand-in-hand with Max.

“Hi,” a middle-aged lady greeted them with a smile. “Can I help you?”

“Yeah, I’m Liz Parker and this is my fiancé Max Evans. We have an appointment with Mrs. Lane.”

“Ah yes, Liz and Max,” the lady replied, shaking hands with both teenagers. “I’m Mrs. Lane. I believe we have five houses for you to look at, right?”

“Yeah, that’s right,” Liz said with a smile, glancing up at Max before they both followed the realtor into her office.

“Okay,” Mrs. Lane said as she picked up a folder off her desk. “Did you want to take your own car and follow me, or did you want to ride together?”

“Let’s just ride together,” Liz said, looking up at Max for confirmation.

“That would be easiest,” Max agreed.

“Great,” Mrs. Lane said with a smile. “Follow me.” After everyone was situated in the car, Liz sitting up front while Max rode in back, leaning forward between the two front seats, Mrs. Lane drove to the first house. “Now the first house we’re going to look at is an older one. It has three bedrooms, two baths and a fairly good sized yard…”

They spent the next couple of hours looking at houses, but by the time they saw the fourth one, they both knew they had found their home. As soon as they stepped out of the car in front of the house, they shared a look that confirmed that this was the one. Max wrapped his arm around Liz’s shoulders as they followed the realtor to the front door.

The house wasn’t all that new, but the architecture looked modern. It had two stories, with a porch leading up to the front door and a garage located on the side of the house. It was painted white with blue trim and had a basketball hoop on the side of the driveway. The area it was located in was even nice. It wasn’t close enough to the school to attract the partygoers, but it wasn’t ridiculously far away either.

“Now this house is slightly smaller than the other ones we’ve looked at, but its also the least expensive,” the realtor said as she unlocked the front door. “It has two bedrooms, two baths and a den that you could probably turn into a storage room. I’m not sure if it’s big enough to turn into another bedroom, but you can be the judge of that.”

When Liz walked inside, it was really hard not to smile and jump up and down with excitement. This was definitely the house. There was no doubt in her mind.

“We’ll just take a look around,” Max said with a smile before he led Liz farther into the house so they could look at the rooms alone. The living room was off to the left of the entryway and it had a big window that overlooked the porch and front yard. Connected to that was the dinning room, which was fairly small in size. The kitchen, of course, was adjacent to it, and as soon as Liz saw it, she had to cover her mouth with her hands. It all looked brand new, from the fridge and microwave to the floor tiles and cabinets. It had an island set up in the middle and a sliding glass door off to the side that led out onto the back porch and back yard. The sink faced towards the back yard and had a window right in front of it. As they walked trough the kitchen, they saw a little breakfast nook on the far side that had a bay widow next to the sliding glass door.

They headed down a hallway and into the first room, which turned out to be the den. In all likelihood, unless they remodeled, it was a little too small to turn into a full bedroom, but it was more than big enough to turn into a small nursery if they wanted. But since they didn’t have kids yet, they could always set up a desk and computer and use it for studying. Across the hall from that was a closet, and at the very end of the hallway was one of the bedrooms that faced the backside of the house, with a bathroom directly across from that.

They walked back over to the entryway and up the stairs. The upper level consisted of the master bedroom and nothing else. When they walked into that room, they both stopped dead in their track as their jaws both hit the floor. It was huge. The master bathroom was located off to the right side of the door, along with the walk-in closet. On the far side of the wall, facing the backyard, was another sliding glass door that led to their own personal patio. The room was so big, if they where to put up another wall down the middle of it, they could easily make two comfortable bedrooms.

As Liz walked around the room, she started to think of everything she wanted to do with the house. “Max,” she whispered as she walked back over to him. “I don’t think we have enough stuff to fill this room, let alone the entire house.”

“I know,” Max said in awe. “This room is gigantic. We could easily double this as a nursery.”

Liz looked up at him in shock before a smile slowly lit up her face.

Max continued to glace around, but when his eyes landed back on Liz, he couldn’t help but notice the tender look she was giving him. “What?” he asked with a smile.

“Nursery?” Liz asked softly.

Max remained silent for a second as he continued to stare at her, then he reached out and cupped her cheek in his hand. “I did say nursery, didn’t I?”

Liz nodded as she leaned into his hand and placed a kiss on his palm. “Eventually a nursery, but not right away. I want you all to myself for a while.”

“So, what do you think?” the realtor asked as she walked into the room, completely oblivious to the special moment she just interrupted.

“Looks nice,” Max said casually as he wrapped his arm around Liz’s shoulders. “But let’s take a look at the last house.”

*****************

Needless to say, the last house was nowhere near as perfect as the one they just came from. Once they got back to the realtors office, Mrs. Lane led them into her office. “So, did you see a house you liked?” she asked.

Max looked over at Liz before he replied, “We liked the one on Spring Ridge Dr., the white house with blue trim.”

“Ah, that’s a very nice house,” Mrs. Lane said. “A middle aged couple used to live there. Here is the asking price for that home,” she said as she handed Max a piece of paper.

Max held the paper out in front of he and Liz so they could both see the price, which was well within their budget. But that was just the initial offer.

“Did you want to make an offer on it?” Mrs. Lane asked.

“Yes we would,” Liz said.

“But we need to talk it over with our folks first,” Max added. “They just want to make sure we don’t get in over our heads.”

“Of course,” Mrs. Lane said with a smile. “That happens all the time with first time buyers.”

“You wouldn’t mind if they called you, would you?” Liz asked.

“No, of course not,” Mrs. Lane said as she reached out and handed Liz one of her business cards. “My cell number is on there too so have them call me any time. Just let me make a copy of the paperwork for you to show them. I’ll even let you keep the picture of the house so they’ll have some idea of what it looks like.”

“Thanks you very much,” Max said as he stood up and shook hands with the realtor.

“I’ll let the sellers know that you’ll be making an offer here shortly,” Mrs. Lane said. After she made a copy of everything and paper clipped the picture to the front of the folder, she handed it to Liz and then walked the teenagers out to the front door.

“Thank you,” Liz said before she and Max made their way out to the car. Once safely inside, she let out a little squeal and practically threw herself onto Max’s lap. “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you,” she kept repeating as she planted kisses all over his face.

Max couldn’t help but laugh. “I love you too.”

“Oh Max, that house was so perfect. I want it so bad.”

“What did I tell you about not falling in love with one particular house until after we bought it?” Max asked with a lopsided grin.

“I can’t help it,” Liz said as she climbed back into her own seat. “You liked it too, didn’t you?”

“I loved it,” Max agreed. “Let’s just hope the deal works out.”

“Oh God I hope it does,” Liz said. “Let’s call our parents right now and tell them.”

Max glanced at the clock and noticed that it was rapidly approaching six o’clock. “Tell you what…let’s go pick up my mom’s friend then call our parents from her house. Our flight doesn’t leave until tomorrow night so we’ll have plenty of time to go over everything with them.”

Liz nodded before she glanced down at the picture of the house. She ran her finger across the surface of the photo as a smile came to her face. She wanted that to be her and Max’s home more than anything.

Max watched this all with a smile, and it was at that very moment that he realized he’d do anything to get Liz that house. So much for listening to his dad’s advice.

******************

“So how was house shopping?” Kathleen asked as she drove back to her house.

“Well, we found a winner,” Max said with a smile.

“No kidding?” Kathleen asked.

“This is it,” Liz said as she showed her the picture.

“Wow,” Kathleen said as she alternated between looking at the road and the picture. “Very nice. I imagine you want to call your parents right away, don’t you?”

“Do you mind?” Max asked. “We could pay for the long distance phone call.”

“Nonsense,” Kathleen said with a wave of her hand. “Feel free to talk as long as you want.”

A few minutes later they arrived at the house, which was located on the outskirts of town. It was a modest home, fairly big in size even though Kathleen did live there alone.

Once inside, Liz made a beeline for the phone. She dialed her parent’s number and told them everything.

Max watched as she answered all the questions her parents were asking her, but he was a bit surprised when Liz suddenly turned to him and handed him the phone.

“My dad wants to talk to you,” she said with a shrug.

Max took the phone and gently cleared his voice before he brought the receiver up to his ear. “Hello?”

“Max, it sounds like you’ve found the perfect house,” Jeff said.

“Yeah,” Max replied as he shifted from one foot to the other. “It looks great.”

“Listen, is their any way you could fax over the paperwork from the realtor?” Jeff asked. “If you kids wanted to make an offer, we probably shouldn’t wait too long.”

“Uh, yeah, sure,” Max replied as he turned to Kathleen and placed his hand over the phone. “Do you have a fax machine?”

“In the den,” Kathleen said with a nod.

Max smiled his thanks before he spoke to Jeff again. “What’s your fax number?”

After ending the conversation with the Parkers, Max dialed his mom up. He had a very similar conversation with her, and before they hung up, Diane said she’d head over to the Parkers so they could all look over the paperwork together.

“This is amazing,” Liz said as she threw herself into Max’s arms.

Max caught her easily and spun her around once before he set her on her feet again. “Our parents are going to call back in a little while.”

“Until then,” Kathleen said as she started to make her way towards the back of the house. “I imagine you two are hungry, am I right?”

*************

After dinner, the three of them sat around talking until the phone finally rang. Kathleen answered it and held a brief conversation with Diane before she handed the phone to Max.

“Hey mom,” Max said.

“Hi honey. Listen, I just talked to the realtor and everything looks good here. We just wanted to go other a few things with both you and Liz,” Diane said. “Jeff and Nancy are on the phone too so could you tell Liz to grab another receiver so the five of us can all talk together?”

“Yeah, hold on a sec,” Max said before he turned to relay the message to Liz. Once everyone was on the line, they conversed about what to expect and what to say to the realtor. They all talked about a price to offer and once that was done, they said their goodbyes and hung up.

It was decided that they would call Mrs. Lane at her office the next day, before they left to go back to Roswell, and make the offer on the house. Liz was bouncing off the walls for the rest of the night, and when it came time to sleep, she wasn’t able to. Kathleen had retired to bed several hours earlier, after showing Max and Liz their respectable, separate bedrooms.

At around one in the morning Liz quietly slid out of her bed and tiptoed down the hallway to the room Max was staying in. She quietly opened the door and slipped inside, closing he door behind her. Her eyes had already adjusted to the darkness, but it was still hard to make out exactly where everything was. She could see Max’s form on the bed, and as she got closer, his breathing told her that he was asleep.

She contemplated waking him, but as soon as she got close enough to see his face, she decided against it. He just looked too damn adorable to wake. Instead she walked over and stood by the window that overlooked the darkened street outside. She was going to own a house. Well, to be more precise, she and Max were going to own a house…together. That thought caused her to smile as she looked at the houses around the neighborhood.

“Liz?”

She turned and saw Max propped up on one elbow, rubbing at his eyes with his free hand. His hair was slightly tousled and he was squinting as he looked over at her with a confused expression.

“Hey babe,” Liz said with a smile as she walked over and sat next to him, running her hand through his hair. “I didn’t mean to wake you,” she added as she propped a pillow up behind her and leaned back against the headboard before she pulled Max into her arms, tucking his face into the crook of her neck.

Max smiled and let out a sigh as he nuzzled the soft skin on Liz’s neck. He allowed her to hold him as he wrapped his arm around her, closing his eyes and enjoying the peaceful feeling that her embrace gave. “I’m glad you did. Is something on your mind?”

“The house,” Liz said as she ran her cheek against the top of his head, absentmindedly playing with the hair on the back of his neck with her fingers. “I just can’t believe that we’re actually buying it.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Max said as he snuggled further into Liz’s side. “It doesn’t feel real yet.”

“Yeah,” Liz agreed as she stared off into space. The two of them remained silent for several minutes until Liz peeked down to see if Max was still awake. She had a hard time telling through the darkness, so she whispered, “Max?”

“Hmm?” Max muttered.

“When do you want to have kids?” Liz asked quietly.

It took a second for the question to register in Max’s hazy brain, but when it finally did, he slowly opened his eyes and looked up into her face. He propped himself up on his elbow again so he could get a better look at her, and he could see the hesitation in her eyes. “I don’t know. We haven’t really talked about it,” he said honestly. “Why?”

“Just wondering,” Liz said as she looked down at her hands that were now folded on her lap. Truth be told, ever since prom night, when Max had confessed that he couldn’t wait to marry her and have little kids running around, she couldn’t stop thinking about it.

“Liz?” Max asked as he leaned over into the line of sight. “What is it?”

Liz glanced up at him, then down at her hands, then up at him again. “Promise you won’t get mad?”

“I promise,” Max said with a small laugh.

Liz took a deep breath before she said, “Well, aside from mentioning the nursery earlier today…you know that night after prom, when we were out in the desert?”

“Yeah,” Max said when she hesitated.

“I wasn’t asleep,” Liz confessed. “I heard everything you said…you know, about how you couldn’t wait to marry me and have little Liz’s running around.”

Max thought back to that night and smiled as he reached out and cupped Liz’s cheek in his hand. “And why would you think I’d get mad about that?”

“I don’t know,” Liz said with a shrug. “I just figured you said those things because you thought I was asleep. I thought that maybe you didn’t want me to really hear it just yet.”

“Liz,” Max said as he gently grabbed her chin and raised her gaze to meet his, “I said those things because I meant them.”

Liz couldn’t help but smile at the look of adoration that he was giving her. “I know.”

“So you really want to know when I want to have kids with you?” Max asked with a lopsided grin.

“Maybe,” Liz said, then quickly added, “Yeah.”

“Truthfully, I really can’t wait to have little Liz’s running around,” Max said. “But, like you said earlier today, I think I want you all to myself for a little while, if that’s alright with you.”

“That’s perfectly alright with me,” Liz said with a laugh.

“Let’s cross that bridge sometime down the road, okay?” Max said gently.

“Okay,” Liz said, opening her arms again so she could hold him. She placed a light kiss on his forehead before she started running her fingers through his hair. She must have continued doing that for a while because the next thing she new, Max was fast asleep. She smiled down at him and gave him another soft kiss on the forehead before she tried to extract herself from his bed. As much as she wanted to spend the rest of the night holding him, she knew it probably wouldn’t be the best idea under the circumstances.

The only problem was, even though Max was asleep, he obviously wasn’t ready to let her go just yet. When she tried to worm her way out of his grasp, his grip on her tightened. After trying for several minutes to no avail, she finally let out a defeated sigh before she got more comfortable on the bed. She convinced herself that she could spend the majority of the night with him, just so long as she was back in her bedroom before Kathleen got up in the morning. The last thing she wanted was to come across as disrespectful.

So Liz closed her eyes and slowly drifted off to sleep, holding Max in her arms the entire time.

*~*~*~*

At eight o’clock the next morning, Liz slowly opened her eyes and tried to focus on where she was. The first thing she saw was Max, still sleeping with his head on her shoulder, still in her arms. She slowly stretched as best she could without waking him, but when her eyes shifted to the foot of the bed, she jumped so bad that Max sat up, instantly alert.

“Liz?” he asked, his hair tousled, his eyes groggy. “What’s wrong?”

“Good morning,” Kathleen said, causing Max to snap his head in her direction at the foot of the bed. She had a smile on her face and her stance wasn’t the least bit threatening. That’s when he noticed that she had a camera in her hands. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I saw Liz’s bedroom door open so I figured you two were in here talking. You looked so cute together I just had to get a picture.”

To Be Continued…

posted on 31-Aug-2002 5:14:45 PM by Fanatic101
Hey guys,

I am just letting you know that I will be on vacation for a little bit and away from my computer. I will be back soon with a new part though. Sorry guys.

Dan
posted on 12-Sep-2002 5:34:37 PM by Fanatic101
I am back and I am working on the next part. Sorry to keep you all waiting.

Dan
posted on 8-Oct-2002 12:15:44 PM by Fanatic101
I can't believe I let this story go on for so long. I mean come on, part 32? What the hell was I thinking. And to those of you asking for a sequel...I'm not sure I have it in me.

Part 32

Over a week had passed since Max and Liz’s trip to Palo Alto, and while they had already filled out a ton of paperwork in regards to the mortgage loan, there was still no word about whether they had gotten the house or not. The realtor said the deal was close to being done, but as day after day passed them by, their hopes slowly started to vanish.

Liz was trying to get her mind off it by throwing herself into the graduation spirit, which was only a couple of days away. She and Maria had spent several hours trying out new hairstyles, looking to find the perfect one for the occasion. They went shopping several times, but since they both already had their outfits picked out, their excursions were more or less just for fun.

With Liz spending much of her time with Maria, Max found himself hanging out with Michael a lot. The two of them spent most of their time lying around the house, watching ball games on TV while drinking Snapple. Since Max’s wedding was only a couple of weeks away, they both stopped by the tux shop, along with Kyle and Alex, to get their measurements taken. Diane tagged along, just to make sure they didn’t pick out any outrageously hideous styles.

West Roswell High held a number of rehearsals for graduation throughout the week, just to make sure everyone knew where to go and what to do.

“This whole thing is overrated,” Michael said as he stood in line during the last school rehearsal on graduation morning.

“Graduation is overrated?” Maria asked in disbelief. “It’s just the one thing everyone strives for their entire childhood.”

“Speak for yourself,” Michael muttered. “It’s just a piece of paper that says you did enough to pass societal standards.”

“Do you ever think they’ll stop bickering?” Liz asked as she leaned into Max.

“Probably not,” Max replied as he looked at his two friends. “But then again, if they ever did, I’m not sure we’d recognize them.”

“Yeah,” Liz said with a laugh. She then turned serious as she looked up at him. “Do you think we’ll get the house?”

Max looked down at her for a second before he smiled and said, “Yeah, I do. These things just take time.”

Liz nodded and returned his smile, some of her concern leaving when she felt him reach over and tuck her hair behind her ear. She absolutely loved it when he did that.

Both of them turned back to Michael and Maria at the same time and were caught off guard by what they found. Both of their friends were standing there staring at them as if they were watching a movie.

“What?” Liz asked, feeling a little self-conscious at the moment.

“How come you never tuck my hair behind my ears for me?” Maria asked as she turned to her boyfriend.

Michael just raised an eyebrow before he reached out and did just that. “Happy?”

“Thrilled,” Maria said sarcastically with a roll of her eyes.

“All right everyone!” a member of the faculty said, getting everyone’s attention. “This is the last rehearsal before the ceremony this afternoon so lets do this right.”

***************

Later that day, as the kids were getting ready for graduation, Diane walked up to Max’s door and knocked softly.

“Come in.”

Diane slowly opened the door and found Max standing in front of the mirror, making sure that his tie was on straight. She just stood in the doorway for a second, a watery smile on her face as she covered her heart with her hand.

Max turned to find his mom just staring at him with a smile, so he stopped fiddling with his tie and gave her his full attention. “Mom?”

“Oh don’t mind me,” Diane said as a tear rolled down her cheek. She wiped it away before she walked up and began fixing his tie for him. “You just remind me so much of your father when we first met. Do you know that when you and Isabel were born, he refused to let any of the hospital workers take you away? He held onto you and Isabel as long as he could. Isabel would always be fussy, but you…whenever you were in your fathers’ arms, you always had this big toothless smile on your face. The two of you would spend hours on the rocking chair, just staring at each other.”

Max couldn’t help but smile, and it felt good to heard about how he and his father interacted when he was a kid. That was something he’d never grow tired of hearing.

“You two were always inseparable,” Diane continued. “You always wanted him to take you to his office, and every time he would, you’d spend the entire day mimicking everything he did. The highlight of your year would be the trips you two took to the ballpark to watch baseball.” She finished with his tie and reached up to brush his hair away from his eyes. “I know that he’s looking down on you right now with a smile, just like he always did. I know he’s so proud of you.”

“I miss him so much,” Max said as he looked down at his hands. “So much.”

“I know,” Diane replied as she pulled her son into a hug. “Max, you are by far the strongest person I’ve ever known. I don’t know any other teenager who could have handled this situation as well as you did. I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason, and that God never forces us to handle something we’re incapable of handling. Your father always said that you were extraordinary, and this just proves how remarkable you really are.”

“Thanks, mom,” Max said as he pulled back and wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand. “Man, you’d figure after all this time, I’d be done crying by now.”

“There’s nothing wrong with it,” Diane said as she placed her hand on his cheek for a second and then slowly backed out of his room.

Max turned back to the mirror and stared at his reflection for a minute before a smile came to his face. He glanced upward, not at the ceiling, but rather at what lie beyond it. He could actually picture his dad smiling down on him, and it filled him with a sense of calm; a peaceful feeling that seemed to put his entire body at ease. His smile grew when he realized that while he may not be able to see his dad anymore, he would always be able to feel him.

*********************

“Hey, you okay?” Liz asked when she met up with Max in the hallway before the ceremony.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Max said with a smile. “My mom and I were just talking about my dad before I came here.”

Liz’s eyes softened as she reached up and cupped his cheek in her palm. “Come on,” she said, grabbing his hand and leading him out into the parking lot.

“Liz!” Max said with a laugh. “Graduation is going to start in a couple of minutes.”

“I know, I know,” Liz said as she ran across the pavement with Max in tow. “I want to give you your graduation present.”

When they got to Liz’s car, she popped the trunk and pulled out a flat, fairly good-sized, wrapped present.

“You want me to open it now?” Max asked. When Liz nodded eagerly, a smile on her face, he began to pull the wrapping off. As soon as he saw what the gift was, his movements stopped, as did his heart. He just stared at the gift in disbelief and within a matter of seconds a shiver ran up and down his spine.

“Do you like it?” Liz asked quietly, nervously.

Max glanced over at her, then back at the gift as he tried to find the right words to express what he was feeling. “How…I mean where…” He couldn’t think of anything to say so he did the next best thing. He gently placed the gift down in the trunk and pulled Liz into a hug so tight, he literally picked her off the ground. “God I love you.”

“I love you too,” Liz said as she buried her nose into Max’s neck. The two of them stayed like that for a few seconds before Max finally set her back on her feet. “Do you like it?”

“I love it,” Max said as he looked at the gift again. It was a picture of he and his dad, taken when Max was still a little boy. Philip had Max in his arms and they were both smiling brightly at the camera. Liz had it enlarged and beautifully framed. “Where did you find this picture?”

“Your mom had it in one of her albums,” Liz said as she wrapped an arm around Max’s waist. “When I saw it, I just had to get it enlarged.”

“This is amazing,” Max said as he picked up the picture again and ran a hand across the surface. He turned to Liz and cupped her cheek in his palm before he leaned over and gave her a gentle kiss. “Thank you.”

Liz smiled up at him, elated that she was the cause of his happiness.

“I feel bad now,” Max said as he carefully put the picture back in the trunk and closed it.

“Why?” Liz asked as the two of them made their way back towards the school.

“Because I left your present at home,” Max said. “I didn’t know we’d be exchanging them here.”

“Don’t feel bad,” Liz said as she looped her arm through his. “I mean it’s not like you didn’t get me anything.”

“Still,” Max said as he held the door open for Liz. “We have that party tonight so I’m not sure I’ll be able to give it to you then.”

“Well, I guess you’ll just have to come over bright and early tomorrow morning then,” Liz said with a smile.

“There you two are!” a member of the faculty said when she spotted the couple. “How are we supposed to start graduation without our Valedictorian and Salutatorian?”

Once the teacher turned her back, Max and Liz shared a smile.

“How’d your speech turn out?” Max asked as he and Liz were led up to the front of the graduating class.

“I’m not sure,” Liz said nervously. “You know, right about now I wish that you were the one selected for Valedictorian.”

“You’ll do great,” Max said with a smile, planting a soft kiss on Liz’s forehead.

“I hope so,” Liz said as she took a deep breath.

*****************

Graduation went off without a hitch. Liz’s speech was humorous and well thought out and she delivered it like a pro, just like Max said she would. Afterward, all the parents and friends of the graduates gathered out in the quad to take pictures.

Max and Liz naturally stood together, right next to the rest of their friends as their parents went around and congratulated everyone.

“Congratulations,” Jeff said to Max, extending his hand.

Max smiled as he shook his hand. “Thank you.” Just as he was about to let go, Jeff pulled him into a hug, surprising him to no end.

“I’m really proud of you son,” Jeff whispered.

Max’s smile widened when he pulled back, nodding his thanks before he watched Jeff walk off. He then turned to Liz, who was watching the scene with a smile of her own. “Your dad just hugged me,” he whispered, obviously happy about the exchange that he and Jeff had just shared.

“I saw,” Liz whispered back.

“And he called me son,” Max said with a dopey smile, glancing over at Jeff who was now talking with Diane.

Liz just nodded as she too looked over at her dad. Words couldn’t describe how grateful she was for her father, and how much she absolutely loved him at the moment. “Excuse me a second?”

“Sure,” Max said, watching as Liz walked over and wrapped her arms around her dad’s neck.

Jeff looked a little surprised, but it didn’t take him long to return his daughters’ hug.

“Hey,” Isabel said as she walked up and nudged Max with her elbow. The two siblings shared a brief hug, each congratulating the other.

“We made it, huh?” Max asked.

“Yeah we did,” Isabel replied with a nod. “Liz’s speech was great.”

“Yeah it was,” Max agreed as he looked over at his fiancé.

“I’m sorry you didn’t get Valedictorian,” Isabel said as she reached out and touched Max’s arm.

“Don’t be,” Max said, looking back at his sister. “The right person got it.”

“Yeah but it’s still gotta suck to work your ass off in high school and then not get it,” Isabel said. “I’m sure you’re kind of disappointed in a way, aren’t you?”

“Not really,” Max said honestly. “When I found out that Liz had gotten it, I didn’t feel depressed at all. I was actually really ecstatic for her. I know she’s worked just as hard as I have during high school, if not more so. Besides that, she’s been a part of this community her entire life. I moved here less than a year ago. It’s…it’s just really hard to be disappointed for myself when I’m so proud of her, you know?”

“Max, Isabel,” Diane called out. “Come on…I want a picture of the entire group.”

They both exchanged a smile before the walked over and stood with the rest of their friends. Max wrapped one arm around Liz, the other around his sister, before Diane told everyone to smile.

*************

After they finished up at the high school, they all met at the Crashdown for the graduation party. Jeff closed the restaurant for the occasion, but still paid the staff, minus Liz, Maria and Michael, to waitress and cook.

“So what time does the bus leave for the airport tomorrow?” Diane asked as she sat in the booth across from Max and Liz, referring to the senior trip that was going to start the next day.

“Nine o’clock,” Liz said as she looped her arm through Max’s and leaned her cheek on his shoulder.

“You must be excited,” Diane said with a smile. “A four day cruise to Mexico…how I wish I were graduating this year.”

“That makes two of us,” Jeff said as he walked up to the table. “Max, could I talk to you for a second?”

“Uh…sure,” Max said as he slid out of the booth, glancing at Liz over his shoulder really quick before he followed Jeff into the break room.

The two of them stood in silence for a few seconds, and just as Max was about to break the ice, Jeff spoke up.

“Max, listen, I know the two of us have had a pretty rocky relationship,” Jeff said. “And while I know I can’t take back all the things I said to you when you and Liz first told us about your engagement, I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am for this second chance that you’ve given me…”

“It’s in the past,” Max said with a smile, interrupting him. They had been through this all before so he was a little confused as to why Jeff wanted to bring it up again.

“Yeah I know,” Jeff said with a slight shrug. “But still…I just…I felt like I had to tell you again.”

Max nodded, unsure what else to do.

“Anyway, I wanted to give you something,” Jeff said before he walked over and picked up the small box that was sitting on the couch.

“What is it?” Max asked as he took the box from Jeff.

“You’ll see,” was all Jeff said.

Max eased the lid back and looked inside to find a set of keys lying there. He reached in and pulled the contents out of the box before he looked up at Jeff in confusion.

“I talked to the realtor in Palo Alto,” Jeff said with a smile. “You guys got the house.”

Max’s eyes widened and he just stared at Jeff for a second before a smile broke out across his face. “We did?”

“Yeah, congratulations,” Jeff said.

Max let out a little laugh before he engulfed Jeff into a bear hug.

“Why don’t you go tell Liz,” Jeff said after the two men pulled back. “She doesn’t know yet.”

Max nodded before he quickly made his way to the door. Before he pushed through it though, he turned back to Jeff. “Thanks…for everything.”

Jeff just nodded before he shooed Max away.

Max pushed through the door with so much energy, everyone in the entire café looked in his direction, including Liz. He made eye contact with her before he held his arms out and shouted, “BABY, WE GOT THE HOUSE!”

Liz’s entire face lit up, and it only took her a second to slide out of the booth and run up to Max as fast as she could. She literally jumped into his arms, knocking him back a step as she wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. She then started bouncing up and down in his arms as Max swung her around in a circle. “WE GOT THE HOUSE, WE GOT THE HOUSE!” she yelled.

All their friends and family started clapping as they watched the two embrace, and after Liz climbed off Max, yet another round of congratulations followed.

A smile was permanently etched on Liz’s face for the rest of the night, and even after everyone had left for their own homes a few hours later, she still found that she was smiling. As she fell asleep that night, one thought kept racing through her mind: Could life possibly get any better?

To Be Continued…