|posted on 2-Sep-2001 4:31:46 PM|
|Title: Gone 'til November|
Author: Me Kippy1932⊕aol.com
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the show, actors, writers, producers, networks, or characters in Roswell. I only wish I did. Title taken from Wyclef Jean's song "Gone 'til November".
Summary: Max is at Notre Dame and Liz is at Princeton.
Is life without each other as bad as they thought?
Category: M/L, a wonderful mixture of angst and fluff.
Author's Note: I don't think this series will ever end. This is the eighth installment of this series (including in order -"Not so Secret Admirer", "Get in the Game", "The Walls Come Crumbling Down", "Walking Away", "No Rhyme or Reason", "Learning to Live Again", "Choices").
Max Evans had yet to get used to sleeping five feet in the air and he had yet to master the art of shutting off the alarm from the top bunk. At first he didn't even hear the faint music and the tiny crescendo, slowly building up. I'm in over my head! Max's eyes snapped open at the loud words and he sat there for a few moments as the radio blared on. He clumsily reached for the tiny plastic basketball lying on his bed and tossed it across the room at the clock radio. They say it's over, but man I'm still here livin'. I don't know what to do! I think that maybe I'm in over my - The song was abruptly cut off as the plastic toy knocked the radio back to the hardwood floor.
"You're buying me a new radio, man," a tired and groggy voice sounded from the bunk below as Max crawled over the side of the bed and to the floor. Max laughed to himself as he walked over to the dresser and pulled out the workout clothes he would soon don for his morning run. He had yet to get used to living with a roommate. "I don't get it, man," the sleeping form beneath the covers of the bed sounded. "You're getting up anyway, why don't you just shut it off like a normal person." Max bent down to tie his shoes as he looked to the lying blob that was his roommate. Because I'm not a normal person he laughed at the irony of the question.
"You're on bottom, you shut it off."
"Hey, man - I let you have the top," TJ suddenly threw the covers off his body revealing a serious case of bed-head which Max couldn't help but laugh at. That combined with the ridiculousness of his last comment.
"This is my room," Max challenged as he straightened up, knowing that his last comment was exactly why so many people referred to him and TJ as an old married couple. The way they bickered back and forth could make anyone laugh. "Remember I was here three weeks before you were. Three weeks," he pointed out, remembering the day when TJ Denihan had literally barged into his life. Max had just been settling into his routine here at Notre Dame. Wake up early, go for a run around campus or a swim at Rolfs, breakfast, and then for the remaining twelve hours of the day it was a combination between basketball and down-time in his room. His single room.
He had requested the single for obvious reasons, and had been enjoying the quiet and peace that his room provided him. It wasn't healthy, most people would argue that. The way he lived his life those first few weeks. He wrote a letter to Liz almost every day, and spent five hours of the day simply lying in his room. He didn't think he would be able to deal. Scratch that, he knew he wouldn't be able to deal. Deal being away from not just Liz, but Isabelle and Michael, Alex, Maria and to an extent Kyle and the rest of the West Roswell basketball team. He had played with national-calibre basketball players when he had gone to Chicago for the All American game last April, but the players here, his team mates, were something else entirely. They liked Max, the small-town boy from New Mexico, who was humble about his achievements in high school, who kept to himself and didn't go out much. But on the court, fighting for a starting position, it was every man for himself.
His first days and weeks at Notre Dame had been hard, more than hard, they had been a struggle. Sometimes he wasn't even sure he could get through the day and whenever he didn't think he could he would pick up the phone. Liz, or Isabelle, or even Maria or Alex, he only had to hear their voices to put him back at ease. And he ended each conversation and each letter with the same thing. - See you in November. Writing those words reminded him of the long three-day trek from Roswell, the longest three days of his life, when he had just sat there with his headphones drawn about his head, the scenery just passing by him. He stared out the window as the sagebrush and mesas of New Mexico turned into Oklahome prairies and Missouri river bottoms, Wyclef Jean's Gone 'til November aptly sounding in his ears through the headphones. He remembered how the feelings of dread had consumed every inch of him, how he had no longer wanted to play for the Irish, or even set foot on the Notre Dame campus. He just wanted to go home again. And that's how he had been the first three weeks. But then TJ Denihan had burst into his dorm room.
"Where's the other bed?" the boisterous boy had laughed, looking about the tiny dorm room he had been assigned and the one bed Max had been lying on and writing a letter to Liz. Max had jumped to his feet, looked TJ up and down and politely told him that this was a single room and he didn't have a roommate. "You do now," TJ dropped his bags to the ground. "Max Evans, right?" And ever so slowly Max had started to come out of his shell.
The temperature change was the last thing that concerned Liz her first few weeks at Princeton. There was no indian summer that year and it seemed the exact hour August turned to September the weather immediately went from summer to fall. Or winter as it felt to Liz. But she had brought plenty of sweaters and turtlenecks, she was equipped with her North Face jacket and hooded Notre Dame sweatshirt. No, she always felt a chill in the air for a different reason. My lover's gone. No earthly ships will ever bring him home again. Liz rested her head on the textbook spread open on her desk and just listened to the mournful lyrics. My lover's gone. I know that kiss will be my last. No more his song, the tune upon his lips has passed. I sing alone. No earthly ships - The song was stopped short as a finger quickly came down on the STOP button. Liz didn't jerk her head up, but instead just lifted her eyes upward from where they were focused on the wooden desk and the piece of paper she had doodled on, to reveal her roommate Jody standing there.
"Liz. Boyfriend is not dead." By now Jody had grown accustomed to Liz's behavior. She knew when the Dido CD came on, or the Sarah Machlachlan who Liz was thinking about. "Boyfriend writes you a letter a day, calls you practically every day." Jody looked to the stack of letters, all with the same South Bend postmark on them and then back to her moping roommate. Liz knew Jody was right. Max had lived up to the promise he had made that day in the Evans driveway. Every day she got a letter from him, she actually
wondered how he managed to do it. She had been swamped with work from day one, her three courses -advanced general chemistry, introduction to literary theory and sociological theory - kept her in the library more than she, or Jody, would have liked. She loved Max for writing the letters he did. For writing letters that painted such rosey pictures of his college life in her head. He talked about his crazy roommate TJ so much Liz felt like she knew him, and she knew the Notre Dame basketball team now as well as she had known the West Roswell team. Who the starting guards were, who the veterans were, who were the newbies, who would ride the bench. She found herself counting down the days until the basketball season started so she could put faces with all the names she already knew: Cosmo Little, Thomas Samms, Dan and Matt Phillips, Kenutos Jasikevicius, Brian Connolly.
Max's letters were what kept her going. She would look at his letter and read over and over what a good time he was having and a smile would come to her face. How he was considering getting a job at Rocco's, the local Italian restaurant, how TJ dragged him along to all their hall's intramural football games, how his floor had serenaded Jimmy Buffet to the girls dorm next door in flowered Hawaiian shirts, how they were going to sing the Backstreet Boys next week. She felt like there was something wrong with her because she wasn't having as good a time as he was, as a smile always came to her face as she read the accounts over. But then there was always the closing remarks of the letters. The ones that made her pick up the ancient picture of the two of them in Artesia and yearn to be back in Roswell with him. Those never changed. And she would fall asleep in her bed reading his final words to her, and she would rub her fingers across the last four words. See you in November.
Empty nest syndrome was in full force at six twenty five Murray Lane as Max and Isabelle's letters to Diane and Phillip Evans began to come less frequently than they had that first month. They were still both better than the average college freshman, but when Diane would call up her son more often than not now she heard loud and rowdy boys in the background, she heard noisy music blaring and heckling voices. His letters grew shorter and so did his phone conversations. "Alright mom, I love you too," he would tell her and she could hear the embarassment in his voice. When Liz called however, it was a different story entirely.
Max and TJ's room was filled with freshman boys, one hanging over Max's bed, another on TJ's and yet another raiding the mini-fridge while together Max and TJ worked to adjust the television set. Max couldn't say that he hated having all the guys in his room, Brendan and Josh were hard core supporters of Notre Dame athletics and they treated Max like a God because he was on the basketball team. Mark however was a little rowdier than the two and a little more robust; and as Max worked with TJ to fix the reception of the television he could see Mark opening up the leftovers TJ and Max had brought back from CJ's. There went the last half of the bacon cheeseburger, there went the french fries.
Not to mention Mark ate all their food.
"You know - uh, Mark, despite what you might think Max and I didn't bring that back just for you."
"Shove it, TJ," the wide-shouldered boy gave Max's roommate a hard shove in the shoulder and Max just glared at him and continued working to fix the antennae. If he had his choice, Mark would be denied admittance to their dorm room at the door. He knew TJ probably felt the same way, Mark just always seemed to wander in though.
Not picked up until the fourth ring, the portable phone buried somewhere atop Max's bed was finally answered by Josh. No one lowered their voices at all as Josh picked it up.
"Max? Yeah, he's right here," the blonde haired boy handed
the telephone to Max. "It's some girl for you, man," Josh shrugged and Max all but dropped the antennae as he grabbed the phone away from him.
The noise level in the dorm didn't decrease when Max took the phone, nor when he held his hand to quiet them down, or to his own ear to block out the sound. "Ooooh, Max a girl?" "Is it that chick from your ethics class? She wants you, man." "Yeah, yeah - she wants to jump you, man." On the other line Liz just listened in confusion to the voices drowning out Max's. "Ask her out, man!" "Max, man you need to get laid sooner or later!"
"Would you guys just shutup!!" Max suddenly whirled around, bellowing to the four boys who were bewildered by his sudden outburst. Max hadn't raised his voice once all year. They were all motionless as Max gave them all warning looks and finally put his hand back up to his ear. "Sorry about that, Liz," they heard him mumble an apology as he walked to a corner of the room and they all immediately quieted down. All could tell by the tone of Max's voice that he wasn't casually talking on the phone with a coed in his ethics class. But no one had a clue as to who he was talking to. Not even TJ.
They were all quiet, mumbling softly to each other, pretending to be watching the College Football pregame and not listening to Max's conversation. "Yeah, I love you... miss you." They all heard him murmur into the mouthpiece. "I'll see you in November," he added softly and then the room was deathly still as Max turned around to hang up the phone. The four boys were motionless, all watching Max, awaiting an answer. Max just stared back at them and sat down in the desk chair, his eyes eventually returning to the game.
"Max?" TJ finally broke the silence, staring at his room mate who was staringblankly at the television. "Max, who was that?"
"No one," Max's response was muffled by his hand in front of his face.
"Well, I know it wasn't your mom," TJ implored.
"And I'm placin' bets it's not your sister," Brendan laughed.
"It's my girlfriend, alright," Max blurted out. "Okay, it's my girlfriend. She goes to Princeton."
"Smart girlfriend," Josh whistled and raised his eyebrows.
"Everything okay?" TJ inquired worriedly and Max just nodded his head.
"Yeah, yeah," he mumbled with a nod of his head, his hand up and covering his face.
"Got any pictures?" Mark inquired suddenly and Max was hesitant to reach into his back pocket to pull out his wallet. It was the only picture of Liz he carried with him. A simple picture Maria had snapped in the Crashdown while wasting film one day. A picture Max kept with him always.
"Pret-ty," TJ couldn't help but murmur at the sight of the picture, but at the comment Max just glared at him as if to say no ideas. "So you guys got the long distance thing working?" TJ knew Max wrote a lot of letters home and he received an awful lot of letters, but he had just thought they were family. Max had never mentioned a girlfriend. Max just nodded his head at TJ's question.
"That's why some of the girls think you're gay," Mark murmured and Josh poked him in the ribs at the comment. Max's lack of interest in all the girls had raised more than a few suspicions, but now TJ would be quick to dispel all of them. Max didn't react to the rude comment though, his eyes remained transfixed on the well-worn photo.
"Max?" Minutes went by and Max barely moved. In fact he no longer even acknowledged their presence in the room. TJ had never seen him like this before. "Max, man?" TJ noticed the trembling of the picture first and then he saw that Max's entire hand was trembling. He lifted his hand to cover his face, but the hand was now shaking violently, convulsing almost. "Umm...Max?" Still Max acknowledged no one in the room, his now misty eyes were still focused on the picture.
"Max??" TJ had never before seen his roommate behave like this and Brendan and Josh silently retreated out the door. They would watch the football game somewhere else in the hall. They both had to drag Mark out of the room though, who seemed amused by Max's behavior.
"He's a complete basketcase!" he chuckled as he was dragged out of the room. TJ just sat down on the corner of his bed and turned his attention to the television and the Fighting Irish football team. He could sense Max wanted to be alone, but right now he wasn't prepared to let him be alone. They would talk later, right now he would just sit here.
Max's eyes eventually lifted from the photo. TJ kept one eye on him and one on the football game. When Notre Dame punched in the first score of the night and he pumped his fist in celebration, Max turned his head to the game. "Who scored?"
"We did," TJ tried not to let Max hear the sigh of the relief that came from him at his roommates words.
"No, I mean what player?" Surprised by Max's sudden interest TJ shrugged his shoulders, caught off guard by the comment.
"I uh - I don't know, I didn't see." Max nodded his head and got to his feet, stuffing the wallet into his back pocket. He glanced to the calendar resting on the wall and the tiny month of November in the bottom left corner, to the day he had circled in red pen. He sat down across from the television and nodded his head as the the touchdown was replayed, giving a forced smile to TJ. All he had to do was make it to November.
Her roommate and friends soon grew a little curious about Liz's sudden interest in collegiate basketball. She frequented the athletic office to see if the Tigers ever played
Notre Dame and more often than not they saw her on the computer checking out basketball standings and rankings. Thanksgiving break was rapidly approaching, and Jody was glad to see that her roommate no longer seemed so depressed. In fact, while sitting in front of the computer scanning the Notre Dame website, Liz let out a delighted streak.
"He scored eight points!" Jody immediately stopped what she was doing and turned around to Liz, whose legs were bouncing up and down in excitement. "Eight points, Jody!"
"Max, Max scored eight points...four for six in thirteen minutes," Liz scanned the exhibition summary. She remembered what Max had said, not to be that excited at the exhibition stats, that the freshman and less experienced players always played more, but she knew four for six was good. That had to have turned some heads behind the coaching bench.
"Max scored?...Max.." Jody looked in puzzlement to the screen. NOTRE DAME MEN'S BASKETBALL. "Max plays basketball??" Suddenly all the pieces fit together for Jody, the constant checking of the basketball rankings, the Notre Dame hat she frequently wore around campus.
Liz just nodded her head in response to Jody's question. She wasn't sure why she hadn't told Jody before about Max.
"Max plays basketball for Notre Dame?!" Jody exclaimed as she saw the name EVANS in the boxscore. Again all Liz did was nod her head. Maybe because she didn't think of it as that big a deal. Maybe because she hardly said much about Max to begin with. Jody knew the bare minimum about the young man whose letters Liz received and read just about every night. They had been going out since the tenth grade, and that was actually about it. Liz didn't divulge much about her life back in Roswell and her other friends, although the room was littered with pictures of them. Mostly of Max.
"Yeah, I mean he - he's a freshman, he's not going to play this year, but.."
"Oh my gosh, but he's on the team?"
"That is so cool!" Liz just shrugged her shoulders.
"I guess." Maybe growing up in a small town had done something to her, maybe she had grown so accustomed to his near 'celebrity' status there that the jump to Division I basketball wasn't so huge. "I can't believe he scored eight points!" Liz cried again. Then again maybe not.
Having two children in college at the same time proved to be a bit of a problem for the Evans. The parent's weekends of the two schools conflicted and so it was that Mrs. Evans headed to sunny California and UC Santa Barbara and Mr. Evans happily journeyed to the bitter cold of South Bend in November to visit his son. Max was busy with basketball, exhibition games had started all ready and practice was in full force. Phillip was glad to see it though. He was glad to see the Anna Kournikova poster hanging in Max's room, despite the fact that Max insisted it belonged to TJ. He was glad to meet the exuberant red-head and the rest of the boys on the floor, Max's friends. Max had quite a large group of friends in fact. All Mr. Evans had to do was walk across campus to the dining hall to figure that out.
"You're quite the man on campus, huh?" he laughed, slapping his son on the back as they made their way to the football stadium for what promised to be an exciting game against the USC Trojans.
"Hardly," Max shrugged. "There's really big classes here that's all...TJ said something like one out of every ten people you see on campus you have a class with." Max paused and seemed to think that one over one time in his head. "TJ's not really a math guy though." Phillip just chuckled, his own breath visible in front of him. This was quite a change from New Mexico. Max didn't seem bothered much by the cold though. His eyes were surprisingly bright and he looked good. Better than Mr. Evans would have expected.
As they finished their walk across campus and passed through the turnstile into the stadium it didn't take much for Mr. Evans to realize that Max fit in perfectly here. He had been worried how his son would adjust to the campus and the climate, to college, to being on his own. To being without Liz.
"You know I'm proud of you, Max," he suddenly said as they settled down in their seats in the raucous stadium.
"What?" Max asked almost absentmindedly as he called over a vendor for a cup of hot chocolate for him and his father.
"Your decision to come here...it was...it was a very mature decision," Mr. Evans told his son what he had wanted to for quite some time. He had always been wary to say it any earlier because he wasn't sure of Max's state. "You know despite everything that...that maybe might have said this wasn't the right place for you..." Max knew what his father was insinuating. Despite the fact that Liz wasn't here. "You know I uh - I talked to the Parkers the other day," Mr. Evans suddenly said and Max just sighed. He knew it was only a matter of time before the conversation got around to this. Thanksgiving break was two weeks away. Max had only recently discovered that because of basketball and a game in Syracuse that his break overlapped with Liz's for only one day. The day before Thanksgiving. Max wasn't even going to be with his family on Thanksgiving, he was going to be on a plane. But he was going to see Liz. If only for twenty-four hours, he was going to see her. God hold her, touch her, kiss her. "..so they're going to have an Irish night! The Monday nights when your games are televised on ESPN. Just for you, I thought that was nice, over there at the Crashdown," Mr. Evans told Max about the Crashdown's new theme, but Max's mind was someplace else entirely. He just nodded his head. "When you come back you'll be a celebrity," Phillip slapped his son on the back.
Before Max could even respond, the student section, indicated by the mass of navy and gold t-shirts began jumping
up and down. Max looked over to them and laughed. TJ was the I in GO IRISH! One of the eight boys who had painted their upper bodies in blue and gold. He had tried to convince Max to be the exclamation point, but Max had declined so he could attend the game with his father.
"You sure you don't want to be over in the student section? With your friends?" Phillip checked with his son and Max quickly turned back to his father.
"No, dad - I don't, I'm fine here with you," he dismissed with a smile that was actually sincere. "Next year you gotta go to..Santa Barbara," Max rolled his eyes in jest at his sister's choice in college. "Who knows when you'll get to see a game next." Mr. Evans laughed as well, he and his wife had agreed that they would switch the child they visited each year.
"Hopefully I'll get to come see a couple of your games this year," he suggested.
"Dad, I'm not gonna play," Max dismissed with a shake of his head. "There's three Seniors on the team...I'm - I'm probably going to redshir-" Before Max could finish his thought, his father interrupted him.
"And only one Junior and a bunch of inexperienced underclassmen," Mr. Evans battled.
"Dad, I'm not gonna play. I'm a...scrawny little kid from New Mexico," Max argued, although he knew the scrawny part wasn't exactly true anymore. He had been in the weight room just about everyday for the past month and a half and the results were evident. Coach had merely suggested he put on a couple of pounds and while TJ suggested he do it through a couple burgers from CJ's or a few more helpings of dessert after dinner, Max had immediately headed to the weight room. He stood out among the hulking football players who were always there, although Senior guard Thomas Samms came down frequently. But his time in the weight room was visible, and his broad shoulders were visible even beneath the jacket he had on.
"You won't if you got that mentality," Mr. Evans looked to his son dissaprovingly and Max shook his head.
"Dad..." he protested and his father just laughed. He was still the same old Max. The same old Max who didn't like to open up to his parents, or to discuss his athletics or himself. Or Liz. Yes, no matter how much his life had and how many new friends he now had, he was still the same old Max.
Max felt odd to be returning back to Roswell with only one small bag in his hand. He felt odd to be flying across the country for a visit that would only last a day. As he made his way to gate A7 he felt a pang of jealousy as he saw a group of IU students with Hoosiers sweatshirts make their way through the airport. They would get to enjoy a nice week off from school, he thought, a nice week with their families and friends. He on the other hand would get to spend only twenty-three hours with the most important people in his life, and that counted the time he would be asleep.
Sometimes Max thought he should have listened to his mother. Maybe he should have gone to a school where there wasn't such an emphasis on athletics, maybe he shouldn't have joined the basketball team. Then he would have longer than twenty-three hours. Deep down he knew though that the only reason he was having these second thoughts was because of Liz. He glanced at his watch only to see that he had well over an hour before his flight began boarding, and that meant a good four hours before he saw Liz. He sighed loudly, and looked at the screen of departing flights. He had waited four months. He was confident he could make four hours.
FLIGHT 242 ARRIVING FROM: BOSTON
DEPARTING TO: ALBUQUERQUE DELAYED
And so it went that Max's five day visit went to twenty-three hours and then to even less. He waited in the airport for five long hours, and although the gate attendants gave out meal vouchers and their deepest apologies it was still five long, lonely hours for Max. Liz occuppied his mind the entire time and he tried to call her, to just hear her voice and know that he would be with her soon, but he never seemed to be able to get a hold of a phone. His mind couldn't help but fear that the foul weather that was preventing the plane from departing Boston and arriving here would delay a few more hours and a few more, until his visit was cut down to hardly anything. To mere minutes. And his mind slowly drifted off and his eyes closed as he imagined the situation. A quick reunion, a hug to everyone, maybe a quick kiss to Liz and then - farewell. Back to South Bend, back to four more months away.
His eyes suddenly flashed open as the scene in his mind came to an end and just as he sprang up from the seat he noticed his fellow passengers all making a mad dash for the jet bridge. Was it possible? Were they actually boarding? Max rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand and looked around the airport. Was that actually their Super80 outside that the jetbridge was connected to? Was he actually going to start his trip home? Finally?
"Thank you, sir - enjoy your flight," the flight attendant at the gate handed him back his boarding pass and smiled at her.
"Thanks," was all he could utter to her as he made his way to the plane. Liz was a three hour plane trip away.
Everyone inside the cabin was cranky and tired as they jammed their bags into the overhead compartments and collapsed into their seats. They all looked at Max with his eager eyes and smile strangely. Especially the man seated next to Max. He hardly lifted his eyes from the Wall Street Journal in front of him, and when he did he gave Max a curious look.
"Hi," Max greeted the man with a nervous smile as he settled into his seat on the aisle. It had been years since he had last been on an airplane, and he tightened his seatbelt in nervous anticipation for takeoff and just sat there. He didn't take out a book, he didn't take out his cd player he just closed his eyes and waited.
He waited for takeoff, he waited for Liz.
Midway through the flight Max could no longer take the silence and he found it impossible to fall asleep. Not when the reunion that he had been counting down the days for since August was only hours away. So he turned to the man in the suit next to him, the one who hadn't lifted his nose from the newspaper the entire flight and he started talking.
"Hi," he offered again like he had at the start of the flight. The man again barely picked his head up to offer a tiny smile and a 'hello'. "So umm...why are you going to Albuquerque?" Max asked jovially.
"I have work in Phoenix," the man replied shortly and quickly embedded his head back in the paper.
"So why you aren't you flying into Phoenix?" Max inquired innocently enough.
"Because I have family in Albuquerque," the man again attempted to return to his newspaper.
"Oh," Max nodded his head, satisfied with the explanation. "I'm from Roswell," Max beamed in a manner the man could only akin to pride, and seeing that he wasn't going to finish his Wall Street Journal anytime soon he folded it up and dropped it on his lap.
"You go to school in the midwest?" the man questioned, maybe coming to the realization that conversation wasn't such a bad thing. Especially not with someone as harmless in appearance as Max.
"Notre Dame," Max nodded his head.
"Notre Dame," the man raised his eyebrows, impressed. "They're having a pretty good football season I hear - you a big football fan?"
"Actually - I'm on the basketball team," Max inflated his chest just a bit. It was the first time he had ever actually flaunted his status on the team. "So I'm a bit partial to basketball."
"For good reason," the man chuckled, actually seeming to lighten up a bit. "Your name is..?"
"Max," Max introduced, offering out his hand. "Max Evans."
"Mitch McCarthy," the man introduced as well.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. McCarthy," Max smiled as did Mitch.
"Sorry about the rocky start. I'm just - going home is not my favorite thing to do," he phrased delicately.
"Oh, I can't wait to go home," Max fidgeted slightly in his seat. "Can't wait," he repeated and the man chuckled again.
"Why got a girl at home?" he raised the corner of his mouth ever so slightly and Max just blushed.
"Got a girl at Princeton," he smiled, the pride on his face evident. And so the better part of an hour went between the two. Mitch McCarthy eventually connected Max with the State Champion West Roswell Comets he had read about when he was home last year, and he asked him about the Notre Dame team this year. He asked questions that for the most part kept Max's thoughts away from Liz and before he knew it they were preparing for landing, then for arrival and then bidding goodbye.
"I'll be on the lookout for you and the Irish," Mr. McCarthy shook Max's hand one last time and they parted ways. Max took in a deep breath, in disbelief that he was finally back in New Mexico and his eyes searched around the airport for a familiar face. He didn't have to look very far. Michael and Isabelle were waiting patiently for his eyes to fall on them.
"Hey!" Isabelle jumped forward when he finally noticed them and she threw her arms around her brother's neck. Michael was slower to step forward, although the smile on his face was clear. "How've you been?" Isabelle laughed as she finally pulled away to look at his face.
"I've been good," Max grinned. "Seen better days than today, but good." He could hardly believe he was standing here with Michael and Isabelle and it was evident on his face. The smile never left.
"I hear you - five hour delay is rough," Isabelle rolled her eyes and then leaned in to give her brother another hug. "God, I missed you more than I thought I would," she murmured to him, hugging him tightly and he just laughed and told her the same as she stepped back so Max could greet Michael. And although Max was happy to see his friend he searched around the airport for other people. Specifically one other person.
"Where's - where's Liz?" he asked, just the slightest bit worried. In her last email to him she had promised that she would be at the airport.
"Liz couldn't make it, Max -"
"Why couldn't she make it?" he quickly cut off his sister.
"She's...kinda not feelin' too good," Michael came in with a shrug of his shoulders and the concern on Max's face at his comment was clear, despite how casually Michael had said it.
"Why? What - what -"
"It's nothing major, she's just got a bug," Isabelle shrugged. "Believe me she wanted to come. Her parents had to drag her away from the car -" Max smiled at the mental picture though the dissappointment that filled him was more than Michael and Isabelle would know. He had pictured in his head what it would be like to see her when he stepped off the plane, had imagined it for weeks now. "She was in no shape to drive all the way up here, she needed her rest." Isabelle's last words hung in the air and the dejected look on Max's face forced Michael to break the silence.
"Come on, let's go to the car," he grabbed Max's bag for him and the three headed to the exit. And Max just sighed
loudly and tilted back his head. What was four more hours?