posted on 11-Mar-2002 6:36:05 AM by ravrac
Let me know what you think. Should I continue?

CATEGORY: M/L, with others blended in. AU. Characters do not belong to me.
RATING: PG – PG-15
SUMMARY: The alien group are all 25 years old. They’ve known for several years, because of their special gifts, of their alien status. But only recently are pieces of the puzzle beginning to fit together. Read on and find out how.

SMELLING THE FLOWERS ALONG THE WAY

Part 1

(At the law firm of Evans, Evans, Guerin and Harding)
“Max, you have a call on line 1.”

“Take a message, Rose. I’m going to an important meeting.”

“I know that. But the caller says it’s urgent.”

Not having a clue what could be so urgent, Max thanked Rose and took the call.

“Hello?”

“Is this Mr. Evans?”

“Yes.”

“Hi. This is Dr. Johnson, at Roswell Community. I wanted to let you know we admitted your grandmother, Claudia into the hospital because she had a stroke. It was fairly mild, considering. But we’re going to keep her here overnight for observation. If everything checks out okay, we’ll release her tomorrow.”

Too stunned to form any coherent questions, all Max could think to say was to thank the doctor for his call before hanging up.

After contemplating these developments, he called his partners into his office to apprise them of what had happened. “Guys, I need to take the day off tomorrow to take care of our grandmother. I was going to begin depositions on a really important case, but I’m going to need you guys to take up the slack for me.”

“Don’t worry, Max. Of course, we’ll help out. But since you are starting that case, maybe it would work out better if I got help her instead.”

“That’s a thought, Isabel. But your apartment is a lot farther from the office than mine. I think it will probably be more realistic for me to do, since we don’t know yet what the final prognosis is. They’re going to do further tests on her tonight, and I’ll get further details when I pick her up tomorrow.”

“Okay. If you think that’s best. Just let us know whatever we can do to help out,” Isabel said. And Michael and Tess chimed in their agreement to her statement.

(The next day at the hospital)

“Mr. Evans, before you see your grandmother, I need to fill you in on the results of the tests we took last night.”

“Okay.”

“There’s good news and there’s bad news. What would you like first?”

After briefly considering, Max said, “I really need to hear some good news. So let’s do that first.”

“The good news is, your grandmother’s stroke was rather minor. So there will be very few residual problems with that.”

“That’s great news! But you don’t look to thrilled with that. What’s the bad news?”

“The bad news is, we’ve found she is suffering with terminal brain cancer, which really contributed to the stroke she had.”

Stunned speechless, Max was quiet for several seconds. Finally, when he spoke, he asked, “How long does she have?”

“I don’t have hope beyond 6 months, if that. I’ve already talked with her about chemo, but she’s already informed me she does not want anything to do with that. She’s adamant that she doesn’t want it. The problem is, as she goes downhill, she’s going to need more and more care, practically 24/7. We could keep her in the hospital, but she’s also stated she would much rather spend what time she has left with her family. Is there any way your family can provide that kind of care for her?”

Before Max could think, let alone respond, there’s was a voice behind him that said, “I’ll be available for the next several months to care for her.”

TBC-?????



*happy*

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 18-Mar-2002 2:33:42 AM ]
posted on 12-Mar-2002 4:36:09 AM by ravrac
CATEGORY: M/L, with others blended in. AU. Characters do not belong to me.
RATING: PG – PG-15
SUMMARY: The alien group are all 25 years old. They’ve known for several years, because of their special gifts, of their alien status. But only recently are pieces of the puzzle beginning to fit together. Read on and find out how.

SMELLING THE FLOWERS ALONG THE WAY



Part 2

“Oh, good, Liz. You got our message. Claudia just gave us your number this morning. I’m glad you were able to get here on such short notice.”

As Dr. Johnson was speaking, Max sat there, staring at the young woman who had just spoken. The name sounded familiar but, for the life of him, he couldn’t remember ever having met her before.

“I’d just gotten into town when my mom told me you’d called.”

Max finally regained his thinking faculties and spoke. “Excuse me, but how do you know my grandmother?”

“Oh, I’ve known Claudia since I was a child. She’s lived next door to my parents for years.”

“I’ve visited my grandmother often, but I don’t remember ever seeing you there.”

Before Max could get an answer, though, Dr. Johnson interjected. “Perhaps you could discuss that at another time. Right now we need to get the arrangements settled, so we can release Claudia today.

“Now, Liz, you said you’d be available for the next several months. As I mentioned, it would really be wise for her to have care around the clock. Would you be available under those circumstances?”

“Absolutely. I’m on a sabbatical from teaching for the next several months. So it will be no problem.”

“The next question, Max, is, would you be able to accommodate Liz with a room, so that she can be there 24/7?”

Max had had absolutely no opportunity to meditate on the circumstances which had just befallen him. So he paused briefly before responding. “Yes, of course. I have two rooms right next to each other. That way Liz can be in the room right next to Claudia.”

“Excellent. Then I suggest you go home and pack some things, Liz, for at least a few days. Perhaps, when Max has some free time, you’ll be able to get any other things you’ll need.”

Liz started to exit the room, but then realized she didn’t have Max’s address. So she turned back toward Max and asked, “It will be easier for me to get there if I know where I am going.”

“Of course. How negligent of me.”

“I understand. You’ve just been handed a lot to digest.”

“Thanks for understanding.” As he responded, he wrote his address on a Post-it for Liz.

“Thanks. I’ll try to get there as soon as I can.” With that, Liz promptly left.

Once she’d gone, Max continued getting further information concerning his grandmother’s prognosis, and then tried to discreetly find out more about how it came about that Liz was contacted.

“I don’t really have that much information. I just know that Claudia had Liz on her ‘Emergency Contact’ list. In fact, I was a little surprised to notice that her name was listed even before you or your sister Isabel.” After giving just that little bit of information, Dr. Johnson brought the conversation to a close, indicating he had his morning rounds he needed to do.

Needless to say, Max hadn’t really learned much to satisfy his growing curiosity about this young woman who had so mysteriously just entered his family’s life. So he was definitely going to put his lawyer skills to work, trying to learn more about her. For now, though, his first concern was getting his grandmother released and then settled comfortably in his apartment. Since it appeared Liz would be around for a while, he determined he’d have plenty of time to do his research. With that thought in mind, he decided to put it on the back burner for the time being and start the procedure of getting Claudia released.

TBC-???


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 12-Mar-2002 9:24:27 PM ]
posted on 12-Mar-2002 9:21:55 PM by ravrac
I really appreciate all the input. Hope you enjoy the next part.

Part 3

As Liz left the hospital, she reflected back on the conversation that had taken place in Dr. Johnson’s office, and the comment Max had made about having never seen her around. She couldn’t help but remember herself why that was.

~~Flashback~~

“Aunt Claudia, (that was how Claudia had asked to be addressed by her), why do your grandchildren always ignore me when I’m around?” 12-year-old Liz asked.

“Child, don’t think it has anything to do with you. They’ve had difficulty being able to blend in, what with being adopted and all.”

Liz paused thoughtfully and then responded, “Because they’re different. I understand.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“You know.”

“No, I don’t. Why don’t you tell me.”

Liz was hesitant to respond, fearing she might say something she shouldn’t. But as Claudia reassured her, she relented. “Well, the other day, when my cat got hit by a car, Max healed her.”

“How do you know that’s what happened?”
“Because I saw my cat in the street. I was so afraid to go get her because I knew I would start crying. Before I even could think what to do, I saw Max look around before he walked over to her. He didn’t see me because I was hiding around the corner of the house. When I saw him run over to her, I was wondering what he was going to do. I didn’t want him to see me watching him. That’s why I didn’t let him know I was there.

“Anyway, after a couple minutes, he stood up, with Misty in his arms, looked around, and then gently put her down. Misty ran right to me. But by then, Max had already run off again. I wasn’t sure if maybe I’d just thought it was a mistake. So I went over to the street where I’d seen Misty lying just a few minutes before. And right there in the street was a big stain of blood. So I knew I really had not imagined it.”

After listening to Liz’s explanation, Claudia paused briefly before deciding how to handle this new development. “How do you feel about what happened, Liz?”

“I’m a little afraid of Max. But I’m also happy he helped Misty. I’m also sure he wouldn’t like it if he knew I’d seen him. I think he’d really be mad at me. You won’t tell him, will you?”

“Of course not, honey. It will just be our secret. But that also means you shouldn’t tell anyone else either.”

“Oh, don’t worry. I won’t tell a soul.”

“Does that help you understand, though, why it seems that Max and Isabel ignore you?”

“Yeah, I guess so. But it makes me sad. Because I really wish we could all be friends.”

“Don’t worry, Lizzie dear. You will be one day. It’s just not time yet.”

“How do you know, Aunt Claudia?”

“When the time is right, I’ll explain it to you.”

~~End of Flashback~~

After coming out of her flashback, it occurred to Liz that Claudia never had given an explanation about what she’d meant. Now she wondered, with Claudia being as sick as she was, whether she ever would learn what Claudia had meant.

“Oh, well,” she thought to herself. “I’ll have to think about that later. For now, I need to get myself prepared to help her.” With that, she started packing an overnight bag before heading off to Max’s apartment.

TBC-???*happy*
posted on 13-Mar-2002 3:10:02 PM by ravrac
I'm thrilled to be receiving such nice replies. I'm not trying to spoil anyone by such frequent posts. I've been sick for the last few days and haven't had energy to do much of anything else except let my imagination run wild in this vein. So enjoy the frequent posts while you can. I'm really getting tired of being out of commission, and other things are really piling up right now. So once I'm back on my feet, it will probably take longer before I post. But for now, I hope you enjoy this next part, brief though it is.

CATEGORY: M/L, with others blended in. AU. Characters do not belong to me.
RATING: PG – PG-15
SUMMARY: The alien group are all 25 years old. They’ve known for several years, because of their special gifts, of their alien status. But only recently are pieces of the puzzle beginning to fit together. Read on and find out how.

SMELLING THE FLOWERS ALONG THE WAY

Part 4

As Liz was preparing herself to meet Max at his place, Max was busy trying to get Isabel and his partners caught up on what had transpired that morning. After he’d taken care of the preliminaries of discussing Claudia’s prognosis, he then proceeded to explain what had been arranged for her care. Before he’d even begun to explain, he knew he was going to get flack from everyone.

“But, Max, how could you allow this? We don’t even know this person. For all we know, she’s someone connected with the FBI who’s working undercover.”

“I have to agree with Isabel, Max. It’s not like you to be so quick to allow a stranger into our lives, and in such close proximity,” Michael said, quite beside himself with Max’s apparent lack of concern for the possible consequences.”

“I can’t help but concur with them, Max. What are you thinking? You know how all these years we’ve tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, especially when it comes to strangers.” Tess paused momentarily and then proceeded. “Surely you must have some thoughts about this stranger,” a thought that Isabel and Michael quickly nodded their heads to in agreement.

“Of course, I have. Have our goals been low key for so long that you think I’ve forgotten to be careful? As soon as that person Liz left the office, I tried as discreetly as possible to find out as much information about her as I could. Unfortunately, Dr. Johnson had his rounds to attend to. And since, as he informed me, her name was on Claudia’s ‘Emergency Call’ list -- above yours and mine, I might add, my dear sister – he didn’t give it a second thought when he made the effort to contact her.”

With this piece of vital information shared, the other three people were beside themselves. “How is it possible she’s on the list? I’ve never even heard of her before. And I’m sure I’ve never met her. What about you, Max?” Isabel asked anxiously.

Max had given a lot of thought to that question himself ever since he’d heard about Liz. “Honestly, Isabel, I don’t remember ever meeting her before. But somehow her name does ring a bell. I just don’t know why. But believe me, I definitely intend to find out. We’re not all attorneys for nothing. I intend to put our expertise to work in getting to the bottom of the mystery of this Liz person.”

After pausing briefly, Max continued. “For now, though, I need to get home and get things in order before I go pick up Claudia. And, of course, I need to be there when Liz arrives.” Somehow, although Max shared this piece of information with his collective adoptive family, he couldn’t bring himself to also share with them that he found himself actually feeling a little lightheaded at the prospect of seeing the young woman again. But because of the mystery surrounding her, he didn’t dwell too long on the emotion. He just chocked it up to the uneasiness he felt at her sudden intrusion into their lives, without any prior warning.

“I’ll be in touch with you guys later.” With that, Max left the office for the rest of the day.

TBC-???

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 13-Mar-2002 3:12:15 PM ]
posted on 13-Mar-2002 11:10:35 PM by ravrac
I'm really thrilled to be getting such nice responses. It almost makes up for the disappointment I felt earlier when I read an email indicating that the possibly last episode ever of Roswell was recently completed. I have no idea how accurate it is, but the prospects for the show are looking bleeker with each passing day. So I'm going to dedicate my efforts to finishing this fic along the lines of the way I can only hope and pray the producers will have the sense to bring it to a logical conclusion. Hope you enjoy this next part.

CATEGORY: M/L, with others blended in. AU. Characters do not belong to me, although I truly wish they did, after what I heard about the very likely demise of the show in just a very few weeks.
RATING: PG – PG-15
SUMMARY: The alien group are all 25 years old. They’ve known for several years, because of their special gifts, of their alien status. But only recently are pieces of the puzzle beginning to fit together. Read on and find out how.

SMELLING THE FLOWERS ALONG THE WAY

Part 5

After Max had left, the three remaining friends continued to discuss this latest turn of events in their lives. “Was it my imagination, guys, or did Max actually seem to have an almost imperceptible smile on his face as he mentioned that person Liz?” Tess asked.

“I have to admit, I saw it too,” Michael added. “If it weren’t for the fact that I know you and Max got past the whole destiny episode ages ago, I would have been inclined to just think you were jealous to have even thought such a thing. But I actually sensed the same thing in his demeanor.”

“I don’t know, guys. Don’t you think you’re reading just a little too much into what ‘might’ have been a smile? Come on. We’ve all been taking care of each other for years. Couldn’t it possibly just be that overprotective, cautious side of you imagining such an idea?” Isabel said.

“Come on, Isabel. You, of all people, should know Max well enough to have seen it,” Michael said.

“You’re right. I feel I do know him better. That’s why I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. Although, the truth is, I have to admit I did see that look. But we’ve been over this kind of discussion so many times before. After all, isn’t Max the one who instituted the ‘Beware of all strangers’ rule, especially for Tess and me with guys, and for you and him with girls. I really have a hard time imagining that one young woman could make him so quickly throw his own rule out the window.”

Remembering back on all the meetings they’d had concerning just that one topic, Michael and Tess were forced to agree that Max had remained adamant about that rule over all the years they’d been on this planet, a topic which especially took priority over all else when they all began entering puberty in the human bodies they’d grown up in.

There was still so much they hadn’t learned about their past. But they’d learned very early on in their young lives that the most vital concern was to conceal their true identities from the people among whom they lived as much as possible. Their belief in this thought was so strong, they even concealed their alien sides from the families who had so kindly adopted them, Max and Isabel by the Evans family, and Michael and Tess by the Hardings. The only person who really did know about them was Claudia, and they were certain she would never tell anyone.

After voicing these concerns with one another for quite some time, they finally decided they should get back to work, or at least to put their desks in order before leaving the office for the day. The fact was, none of them could really concentrate on work after all that Max had revealed to them earlier. So they finally just decided to call it a day and go home, anxiously waiting to hear from Max as to what else he might have found out by then.
~~~~~~~~~
After Max left the office, he headed home to make sure things were in order before bringing his grandmother home. But subconsciously, he was even more concerned about having Liz stay in his home. He still hadn’t had any time to come to terms with the possible implications of her presence there. Even now he didn’t have much time to dwell on the topic, since, after all, he really didn’t live that far from his office. So after pulling into the driveway of his home, he quickly jumped out, preoccupied with thoughts of tasks he’d need to take care of before his guests arrived.

But that thought was quickly brought to a screeching halt when he heard a car door had slammed. He promptly turned around and was surprised to see Liz walking toward him from a small, modest Toyota Corolla. Quickly regaining his composure, he smiled at Liz and said, “I didn’t expect you to be here until after I brought my grandmother home.”

“Yeah, I figured you might think that. But I also thought you may need some help to get prepared for her. So I wanted to come help you.”

“That was really thoughtful. But you shouldn’t have bothered. I’m actually quite capable of preparing for visitors.”

As Max spoke, Liz was again reminded of the time she’d discreetly watched him save her beloved kitty Misty. “Believe me, I have no doubt that you’re quite capable. I just wanted to try to lighten your load, since I’m sure you’ve probably had a lot of things on your mind since learning of your grandmother’s condition.”

As Liz was speaking, Max had opened the door of his home and then extended his arm for her to enter ahead of him. Something in her comment was unsettling to him, though. How could she so quickly indicate her confidence in his abilities? She didn’t even know him. He couldn’t stifle his curiosity. So before even having time to think through what he was going to say, he just blurted it out.

“How could you possibly be so confident in my abilities? You don’t even know me. For that matter, I don’t even know you. And for the life of me, I can’t imagine how your name could possibly have been higher on my grandmother’s ‘Emergency Call’ list than even mine and my sister’s, her own grandchildren,” he said almost in anger.

Liz was not expecting his outburst. So she was caught completely off guard by his apparent animosity. Knowing it would be difficult to even be civil to one another until at least this one topic was discussed, and also knowing how important it would be for Max and her to work together to care for his grandmother, she decided there was no time like the present to address it. So she took the bull by the horns and spoke.

“You know, I wondered how long it would take for you to bring that up. Maybe it’s just as well that we discuss this before you bring Aunt Claudia home.”

“Aunt Claudia,” Max thought to himself. Where did that come from? But he decided now was not the time to discuss that. There were obviously other, more important topics that came to mind for the time being. And then he realized Liz was still talking.

“To be perfectly honest with you, I was as surprised as you were. As I told you earlier, I’ve known Claudia since my childhood. So I’ve always felt close to her. In fact, there were times that I couldn’t even go to my own parents for help with things going on in my life. So she’s often been like a shining beacon in a dark world to me.

“And she’s often expressed to me her deep love for you and Isabel. So I know my name being on the list was not meant in any way to minimize your importance in her life. But she’s also expressed concerns to me over the years that there might come a time when you wouldn’t be available if she had an emergency. She never asked me, but I know because of our closeness, she was confident that, if I could be contacted, I would do everything within my power to help her in an emergency.” Liz paused in her comments, trying to gauge Max’s response to what she’d just said.

As Liz paused, Max found himself stunned by this new revelation about the relationship this young woman had with his grandmother. Why had his grandmother never mentioned her? How was it possible she had such a tight hold on his grandmother’s heart? But the thought that concerned him most was whether his grandmother had revealed their alien status to her. As he slowly recovered from this most recent revelation, he cautiously asked her, “Did she ever say why she thought there might come a time we would not be available?”

Knowing why Max was asking this question, but not wanting to reveal what she knew, she decided to be as nebulous in her response as possible. “She’s never gone into detail, except to say that she knew, with you and Isabel being adopted, you would likely eventually go on a quest to learn more about your birth parents. She even told me once, she was almost certain that was the reason you and Isabel and your friends all decided to become attorneys, so you could put that expertise to use in doing that research.”

Once again, within only a matter of a few brief moments, Liz had stunned Max speechless. He felt as though within only a matter of minutes Liz had succeeded in breaking down the barrier he had so painstakingly worked to develop over many years to protect himself and his friends from possible exposure.

The thing that surprised Max most, though, was the feeling that somehow he and his friends could trust this young woman to keep their secret; that is, if she even knew what it was. But with all he’d learned just now, he wasn’t quite ready to deal with that likely prospect. Instead, he chose to try to appear unmoved by her comments.

“Well, I guess, since she explained it that way, it makes more sense to me now. Okay. I’ll accept that explanation."

Concluding he’d rather spend his energies getting better acquainted with this young woman so he could learn more about her background and possibly find out what had really motivated her to give the appearance of such a self-sacrificing spirit in volunteering so much of her free time, he decided to consider this first minor battle a draw and spoke. “So what do you say we work together to get things ready for Claudia. After all, it really will make things less stressful for me.

TBC-???



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 13-Mar-2002 11:12:48 PM ]
posted on 16-Mar-2002 12:42:54 AM by ravrac
Just want everyone to know how much I appreciate all the responses I've been getting. In fact, I'm even getting ideas from some of the questions and comments I've been getting. I might even be able to somehow incorporate some of your questions to further the plot of the story. We'll just have to see how it goes. Meanwhile, I want to especially thank sablaine for helping me to continue working to figure out what I need to do to indicate a new chapter is being updated. Hopefully, I'll eventually get the hang of it, and it will get updated at the appropriate time. Just as a reminder, all responses very much appreciated.

Meanwhile, on with the "show." Hope you like it.

CATEGORY: M/L, with others blended in. AU. Characters do not belong to me.
RATING: PG – PG-15
SUMMARY: The alien group are all 25 years old. They’ve known for several years, because of their special gifts, of their alien status. But only recently are pieces of the puzzle beginning to fit together. Read on and find out how.

SMELLING THE FLOWERS ALONG THE WAY

Part 6

“Well, I think it’s about time we go pick up Claudia,” Max said, as they finished getting things prepared.

“Okay. While you do that, I’ll go run some errands.”

“Oh, you’re not coming with me?” Max asked, surprised he actually felt disappointment at her statement.

“Well, I figured you might appreciate being able to spend time with your grandmother more privately, since you may not have that opportunity often once she’s here.”

After giving her comment some thought, Max realized she was right. There were still some things he wanted to ask Claudia that he’d rather do when Liz was not around. “You know, you’re right. That would be nice. I haven’t really spent any time with her by ourselves in quite some time. Usually, Isabel and I together go visit her.”

As Max was leaving, he turned in the doorway back to Liz and said, “I just want you to know I – that is, I know my grandmother appreciates your willingness to help out here.”

“You have no idea, Max, how happy I am to do anything to help your grandmother. This seems like such a small thing. I wish I could do more.”

'''''
After Max took care of the paperwork, picked up his grandmother, and headed home, he knew he wouldn’t have much time to talk with her before either getting her home or, if Liz was still gone, before she would return. So he knew he needed to make these few precious minutes count. And so he began. “Grandmother, you know it’s within my power to heal you. You just say the word, and I’ll do it, no questions asked.”

“I wondered how long it would take you to offer that. But I also know that for you to do that would be the ultimate sacrifice. And I can’t allow you to make it when so much more is at stake, as well as the lives of so many others. Such a sudden ‘cure’ would not go unnoticed, and I cannot allow my desire to extend my life put you and the others at risk of being found out. You know as well as I how there’s been so much speculation over the years regarding all of you, starting at the very beginning, when you were all found in the desert, walking around naked, not being able to speak or understand, at least not understanding us. But I think the biggest mystery to everyone was how four beautiful children could be found in such a condition, and yet no one came forward indicating they had a clue where you all came from.

“And I, for one, do not want to be the cause of raising any other questions in people’s minds.”

“I know you’re right, Grandmother. But I just had to let you know how hard it is for me to allow you to progressively become worse. The four of us love you so much. We owe everything to you. If it hadn’t been for you finding us in the dessert when you did, who knows where we may have ended up. It was because of you that we were all adopted into loving homes and have been cared for enough to be able to grow into the people we are today.

“The hard part is that there are still so many unanswered questions for us, though. Even with all the work we’ve put forth in trying to find answers, it’s been almost as though there’s been a piece missing, keeping us from being able to put all the pieces together that we have found, so that there’s a picture that’s clear to us. “

Max’s admission tore at her heart, but now was not the time to dwell on that topic. For now, there were other things needing to be addressed. “I’m sure that piece will be found, my dear, when the time is right.

“But for now, are there any other things you’d like to say to me while we still have time? That is, while we still have some time alone?” Of course, she knew very well one of the main concerns that would be on his mind, and she hoped she’d baited him enough to get him to ask.

Max thought for a minute, trying to decide whether this would be the appropriate time to ask about Liz. But since Claudia had asked the question, he figured he may as well, since he didn’t know when the opportunity might come up again. “Well, since you put it that way, there is something I’ve been wondering about.”

“What’s that?” she asked, knowingly.

“This Liz person who’s going to be staying at my place to help you out, how did you come to know her? I’ve been wracking my brains trying to figure out why I don’t ever remember seeing her during all the times Isabel and I would come visit you. After all, she did say she lived next door to you during her childhood. And, for that matter, I don’t remember you ever once mentioning her to m- -- us. Why is that? And how is it possible you felt so close to her that you had her name on your ‘Emergency Call’ list even above that of mine and Isabel’s?”

“Mercy. I figured you’d have a few questions. But it looks like I’ve opened a floodgate of them,” she said in amusement.

Max had to smile at her comment, because he himself didn’t realize how much he wanted to know until he started asking questions. “I guess I do have a lot of questions. So if you only feel like answering one right now, how about, why was Liz’s name on your list?”

Claudia wasn’t quite sure how to answer that one question without having to go into further detail, which would ultimately answer all the other questions he had. So she chose to be as brief and nondescript in her answer as possible, without possibly raising any other questions Max might have that she wasn’t yet prepared to answer. “Well, Liz and I spent a lot of time together when she was growing up, and she told me many times during all the conversations we had that it would really hurt her if she wasn’t the first person I contacted if I ever needed urgent help. So what could I do? You know me, Max. I’ve never been able to say no to people I care about, especially when it’s children. Liz was a child when she said that, and I just wanted to dignify her feelings by doing that. Of course, I had no idea the time would ever come.”

As Claudia was finishing her response, Max pulled into the driveway of his home. So he didn’t have much chance to give it the full attention he felt it deserved. But he hoped he’d be able to at another time. It just wasn’t going to happen right now, especially because, as he drove up, so did Liz in her Toyota.

Which made Max think something else. He couldn’t figure out how Liz seemed to have such impeccable timing in arriving there just at the same moment he did, something else he’d like to give attention to in the future.

Just as Liz pulled up to the house, she realized Max was pulling into the driveway. It was beginning to be a little unsettling to her how impeccable Max’s timing was at seeming to arrive just at the same time she did, but she didn’t have much time to dwell on that right now. Hopefully, she’d be able to at another time.

TBC-???

posted on 18-Mar-2002 2:33:20 AM by ravrac
I'm really enjoying reading all your comments. Thanks for the feedback. Hope you enjoy the next part.

CATEGORY: M/L, with others blended in. AU. Characters do not belong to me.
RATING: PG – PG-15
SUMMARY: The alien group are all 25 years old. They’ve known for several years, because of their special gifts, of their alien status. But only recently are pieces of the puzzle beginning to fit together. Read on and find out how.

SMELLING THE FLOWERS ALONG THE WAY


Part 7

“Hi, Max. That little trip didn’t take long.” As she was speaking, she ran up to the passenger’s side of the car to open the door for Claudia. Once she had carefully helped Claudia out, she engulfed her in a huge, loving hug. “I’m so glad to see you out of the hospital. Maybe now we can spend some quality time together,” she said lovingly.

Her gestures did not go unnoticed by Max. He couldn’t help but wonder how Liz and his grandmother had been able to build such a close bond with one another. There were so many questions he needed answers to. But for now, he needed to get his beloved grandmother settled in.

“Okay, you two. Why don’t we take this pretty picture inside, so we don’t put on a display for the entire neighborhood.” Although his comment was made in humor, Claudia knew it was out of the habit Max had gotten into over the years of trying to take care of personal matters in as discreet a fashion as possible, so as to protect his true identity and that of his friends, even such emotional displays as these. She knew Max was only too aware of how innocent gestures could be so badly blown out of proportion if vindictive eyes chose to use them in a perverted way, to further their own selfish goals. So she took his humorous comment in the way it was meant, but also knew how important it was to him that they get inside as soon as possible.

“Come on, Liz. Help this old woman inside, will you.”

'''''

After talking to Max and Liz for a half hour or so, Claudia realized how drained she was feeling just having taken the short trip from the hospital to Max’s home. She also knew, with all that had happened that day, Max and Liz probably hadn’t really been able to get acquainted. So she decided to make herself scarce, to give them that opportunity. She just hoped they would do so. She knew the things she would need to share with them in the next few months would depend heavily upon their knowledge of one another. Her main concern now was how to encourage them to do just that.

“Well, you two, I’m sure there will probably be some details you’ll need to work out for this living arrangement to work for the time being. And I’m feeling rather tired after all the ‘excitement’ of the day. So I’m going to excuse myself and go lie down. Hopefully, it will give you the opportunity to take care of those preliminaries. I honestly don’t know how my illness will progress over the next few weeks. So you may not have another chance to do so if you don’t do it now.”

As Claudia spoke, Max and Liz both, though not observing each other’s reactions, couldn’t help but feel they sensed a gleam in her eyes as she spoke. Neither had a clue why there would be such a gleam. So each, in their own minds, decided they had imagined it and decided to just respond to her comments. “Okay, Grandmother.” “Okay, Aunt Claudia,” they both said simultaneously.

Claudia turned away from them as they both responded, again with the gleam in her eyes they thought they had only imagined.

'''''

As Claudia left, Max spoke first. “That woman never ceases to amaze me. Even as ill as she is, she still has the presence of mind to remind me of things that I should know to do but often don’t think of.”

“I know what you mean.” Without elaborating on his comment, Liz decided it would be best for now to do just what Claudia had mentioned. She hoped in the future she would be able to engage Max in a conversation that would develop that thought further. But once again, she knew now was not the time.

“So why don’t we put her mind at ease and do just that, shall we?”

“Yeah, you’re right. We should. Do you have any suggestions where we should start?”

“Actually, I think I do. Since we both know it will be difficult for you to be available during the day, maybe that would be a good place to start. Now, I’ve made a list of tasks I can take care of during the day while I’m here and while you’re at work. And then I’ve made a list of things that could be done once you return. If you like, we can split that list up, and we can take turns doing them. Or if you like, I can make a list of things for you to do regularly and a list of things for me to do regularly.”

As Liz continued talking, Max couldn’t understand the feelings he seemed to be experiencing. He couldn’t quite put his finger on the emotions, except that they seemed familiar and, at the same time, soothing – feelings that were so different from what he’d been experiencing over the years, that of fear, uneasiness, suspicion, to name just a few.

He paused in his thoughts, realizing Liz was no longer speaking. He looked down into her face, realizing she was looking up at him expectantly. “I’m sorry. My mind wandered briefly. To be honest with you, whatever is convenient for you is fine with me.”

“Well, I know with you being at work all day, you’ll have very little time to just sit and visit with your grandmother. So maybe I can make a list of things you can do around here when you get back. And then I’ll take care of the list of things needing to be done away from here when you return. That way, you’ll also be able to spend some quality time with her, without feeling like that time is being invaded by others, namely, me.”

Once again, Max was touched by Liz’s apparent ability to perceive that he needed desperately to have some quality time with his grandmother, without others present. Although he still knew next to nothing about this young woman, she was almost imperceptibly finding her way to his heart.

Which made him reflect on all the years he and Isabel were growing up. Neither of them had ever dated or become involved with anyone. Neither had Michael and Tess, for that matter. They all knew, the little they did know, that they were supposed to be bonded with one another. But none of them had ever felt a connection in a romantic or physical way with each other to ever take the steps necessary to make that kind of prospect a reality. Instead, they had all just been ‘content’ to support one another emotionally by just being there for one another, and having rap sessions whenever they were needed.

Of course, they were always getting together whenever anything would be in the news that they thought might somehow provide them with more of the information they were looking for to finally find their way home. And even at work, during slow-downs in their schedules, they would use that time to continue in their efforts at researching anything which might provide clues to their heritage.

But during all that time, none of them had ever really felt the need to have a relationship with anyone, especially as they continually reminded themselves such would only be temporary, at best, since they somehow sensed the time would eventually arrive when they would possibly return to the home of their heritage.

That was why these feelings he felt stirring within him felt so strange. He couldn’t really identify what they were, let alone what was causing them. But again, he realized he’d been staring off into “space” when he noticed Liz had once again stopped talking, waiting for his reply.

“Thanks for your thoughtfulness, Liz. I really would like the opportunity to spend some time with her alone. I hope you understand it’s nothing personal.”

“Of course, I realize that. To be honest with you, even though she’s not my grandmother, I treasure the moments I’m able to spend with her alone.”

“That reminds me of a question I’ve been meaning to ask you.”

“Sure. What’s that?”

“Why do you call her ‘Aunt Claudia’?”

Liz hadn’t even realized she had been doing so until Max asked his question. So she had to think back to try and remember the information Claudia had given her on how that had all begun.

'''''Flashback'''''

Claudia had been in the desert, again engaged in an archeological dig, her favorite pastime. During one of her visits, she had unexpectedly happened on four small children who had seemed to have appeared from nowhere. After following through and helping to place them in loving homes, one of which was the home of her own son, she had once again found the time to go exploring. So she had returned to the same location in which she had been privileged to find the four beautiful children.

She’d only been there a short time when again, to her utter amazement, she found a child, this one appearing to be all alone. This child, just like the four before her, was not able to speak English, as well as being in a naked state. Claudia again found herself faced with the question of what to do with this child. She had remembered a conversation she’d had with a person from town about her own neighbors, the Parkers, and how jealous they had been to find out the Evanses and the Hardings had been so richly blessed when both couples had been able to adopt such beautiful children. They had ached for years to have another child themselves, after their only infant had died so unexpectedly from SIDS. So without even dwelling on the matter for long, she knew exactly where this child was going to go.

Liz, the name the Parkers had decided to give this blessed child, had only been in their care for a few weeks and had already been developing English language skills. The Parkers were beside themselves to have in their care such an intelligent little child as this sweet little thing. After having placed Liz in the loving care of the Parkers, Claudia couldn’t help but want to keep a close eye on how she continued to grow and develop. So she would spend all of her free time with Liz.

During the short time Liz had known her, she’d taken to calling her Claudia, since that was what her parents called her. But somehow, that didn’t seem to convey the affection she felt for this woman who had cared for her so lovingly these past several weeks, even though she knew she was in a loving home. So she asked Claudia what she could call her that would help her express her love and affection for this woman.

“Can I call you Grandma Claudia?” Liz asked innocently.

Although Claudia would love to have been called grandma by Liz, somehow she felt it might cause problems down the road if she ever called her that in the presence of the other four children, whom Liz had not met. After thinking about the question briefly, Claudia had an idea. “Why don’t you call me Aunt Claudia.”

Liz was a little hurt that she couldn’t call her grandma, since that seemed to be what children on TV programs called the parents of their own parents.

Claudia could see the disappointment in Liz’s sweet little face. So she quickly tried to reassure Liz of how happy it would make her feel to be called “Aunt,” since she knew of no one else who used that term of endearment with her. When Liz realized she would be the only person who would be calling her that, somehow it made the idea so much more appealing to her. Somehow, it made Liz feel that only she would have a special enough bond with her to use the term “aunt.” And so that was how she had come to call her “Aunt Claudia” all those years ago.

'''''End of Flashback'''

It was only later, when Liz was old enough to understand, that she realized it would have been really hard to explain how one child was calling her grandma when there were four others doing the same, whom she had never personally met. So it was that piece of information she decided to pass on to Max.

After contemplating the matter for several seconds, she responded to Max’s question. “Well, one day when I was asking Claudia what I could call her that would help me feel I was showing more affection to her, I asked her if I could call her grandma. She explained to me there were already some others who were calling her that. Of course, I was devastated to not be able to use what I felt was such an endearing term. I think she must have seen my disappointment. Because she then suggested I used a term that she was sure no one else would call her. So she was the one to suggest I start calling her ‘Aunt Claudia.’”

That one simple explanation to Max conveyed so much that was unspoken. It helped him realize how much affection this young woman really did have for his grandmother as well as the genuine affection his grandmother obviously had for her, in being perceptive enough to not want to crush the delicate heart of a child.

“Any other questions?” Liz asked.

”No, not tonight. This has been a long day. And I don’t have the energy to ask anything more right now.”

“I feel the same way. So I guess I’ll get started on those lists tomorrow, and we can go from there. Does that sound okay to you?”

“Yeah, that sounds great. Good night, Liz.”

“Good night, Max.”

''''

Of course, neither Max nor Liz knew that they had an audience during this entire conversation. They had not realized at all that Claudia had been listening in the whole time. She knew there was so much more she needed to share with both of them. She knew she didn’t have much time. So, even though she felt bad eavesdropping on them, she knew it was the only way she would be able to monitor their progress in getting to know one another. And it was only by knowing their progress that she would be able to perceive when she could be more open with them about other essential information.

For now, though, she really would have to get to bed this time. She only hoped that in her dreams she’d be able to sort out what and during what time she’d be able to be more forthcoming with them.

TBC-???