posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:03:40 AM
Title: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Author: Sugarplum17
Disclaimer: Blah, blah, blah. You know the drill.
Author’s Note: I started writing this just for myself and wasn’t going to post it but I decided what the hey. It’s foofy which right now is good because I need foofy after the last fic I wrote and everything that’s happened.
It’s AU, CC. Probably no nc-17 since I really suck at that. Enjoy. Oh and I have no idea when christmas break starts for college students or how long it is, so I’m making it two months long just because this is fiction and I can.
---

Liz stepped out of the cab and looked up at the huge brick house infront of her. She was home for Christmas break and had no doubt in her mind what the holiday would bring. This Christmas would bring what every Christmas had always brought, what every day had always brought. Jeff and Nancy Parker, her parents, conspiring with Phillip and Diane Evans, they’re best friends. As far as Liz was concerned they were already planning and plotting, they probably had been since their failed attempts the last time she was visiting.

Picking up her bags she thanked the cab driver and walked up the walkway and entered the house.
“Mom, daddy! I’m home!” She called, dropping her bags and turning towards the door to take off her coat and hang it on the rack. She smiled to herself when she heard his voice. “They’re at it again.”
“So what else is new?” She asked turning around towards him. He looked the same as he did the last time she’d seen him. He smiled back at her and picked up her bags. “How was your flight?”
“It was fine but you don’t need to do that Max, I can get them myself.” She said gesturing towards the bags.
“You know damn well that if our parents came out here and saw that I let you carry your own bags I’d never hear the end of it and they’d kill me.”
With a knowing smile she shrugged, “If you insist. You know where to drop ‘em.” Then she walked off into the kitchen to find her parents engrossed in what was most likely a cover conversation.

Ever since Liz and Max had been born, a month a part, her parents and his parents had tried to get them together. Hoping that one day the two would eventually marry. Whenever Liz and Max would be alone in a room with each other, their parents who were usually in the other room would strain their ears to listen to what was being said. Then when nothing more could be heard they’d fake conversation.
“Hi mom, dad, Mr. and Mrs. Evans.” Liz said with a friendly smile as she walked over to her mother and gave her a hug, and then her father.

“Oh sweetheart, just call us Diane and Phil!” Diane said hugging Liz.
“Sorry Diane. Where’s Izzy?”
“She’s in the living room entertaining Max’s friends.”
“Max has friends?” Liz asked in mock astonishment.
“Oh that’s funny Parker. You know I do.” Max said from the door of the kitchen.
“How much do you have to pay them?” She whispered to Phil, who chuckled, at her antics.
“You should become a comedian with all those jokes.” He said rolling his eyes. Crossing the room she eyed his clothes before cracking a smile, “The joke my friend is on you...literally. Where did you get that shirt? A flea market? Maybe from the shopping cart of a homeless man?” Self-consciously he looked down at his shirt and smiled, it was hideous. A girl he’d been dating had bought it for him a while ago. The entire interaction between the two definitely didn’t go unnoticed by their parents. Nancy and Diane were looking from their children to each other with huge smiles; Phil and Jeff were giving each other knowing glances.

“Well, I’m gonna go be a good hostess and introduce myself.” Liz said pushing her way past Max and walking out into the hallway. Running into the living room she sprinted as fast as she could given the space in the room and pounced on the couch, landing right on top of Isabel. Both of the boys that she was talking to watched, covering their ears as Liz and Isabel bounced up and down on the couch squealing and giggling.
“Oh my god Iz, I missed you so much!”
“I know I missed you and Maria like crazy!” Once they finally settled down Liz introduced herself to the two new people. Alexander Charles Whitman III and Michael Guerin were Max’s roommates at Princeton. Their parents were really rich and decided to go out of the country for the holidays, leaving their children to make other arrangements. They seemed like nice boys. Alex was funny, friendly and completely down to earth. Michael had an unruly head of spiky hair and definitely looked and acted like he was the rebel at Princeton.

Leaving the boys to their own devices Liz and Isabel excused themselves to go sit on Liz’s balcony and talk.

“I guess Kyle is in town.” Isabel said distractedly before sipping on her hot coco.
“Really?” Liz asked tentatively. Isabel and Kyle Valenti had dated all four years of high school and ended the four year relationship their freshman year in college. It’d been pretty hard on Isabel since she was hoping to marry him some day and wanted to try and make it work. She even went so far as to offer to transfer from NYU to U of M to be closer to him. He’d just said that they were growing apart and in different directions. He’d told her that the distance wasn’t the problem. He’d told her that college was supposed to be the best time of your life, where you experimented and found yourself. At first Isabel had thought that by experimenting he’d meant that he was gay, but what she’d later realized he’d meant was that he wanted to be free to be with other girls and not have to worry about Isabel getting hurt.

“Yeah...I guess he brought his new girlfriend.” She told Liz, looking down at her coco.
“I bet she’s ugly.” Isabel laughed a little at Liz’s comment, but quickly sobered. “I hope she’s beautiful.”
“What?! Why?” Liz asked incredulously.
“Because I don’t think I could take it if she was ugly. I mean, I can understand if he left me to be with someone who was beautiful and a really great person but if she’s an ugly bitch and he left me for her, what does that say about me?”
Setting her coco down, Liz got up from her chair and kneeled infront of her best friend. “Isabel Evans shut up. You are one of the most beautiful girls that I’ve ever seen. It’s not just your face and body that make you beautiful either Iz, it’s your whole entire personality. You’re a beautiful person inside and out. Don’t you ever forget it, or let Kyle Valenti make you think otherwise!” Liz said sternly. Isabel hugged her best friend, letting a tear slip down her cheek.
“Thanks Lizzie.” She said with a small smile.

Max waited a few seconds, until he heard the girls laughing before stepping out onto the balcony. “Iz, mom and dad are taking off. Do you want me and the guys to stay a little longer so you can catch a ride home with us?”
“Um, no that’s all right. I’ll just catch a ride with mom and dad.” Isabel said standing up and hugging her friend again. “Thanks again Liz. I’ll see you tomorrow, ok? Maria gets home at five so we have to be there.”
“All right, no problem.” Liz said returning the hug with a smile.
“I heard what you said to Isabel, just a few seconds ago...that was really nice.” Max said sheepishly once his sister was out of hearing range. Liz shrugged as if it were no big deal, “She’s my best friend, and it’s my job. Plus she’d do the same for me and it’s not like I was lying or anything.”
“I know, I just wanted to thank you...for saying that to her. She’s been down on herself ever since she heard about his new girlfriend.”
“It’s no problem Max.” Liz said with a warm smile. They said their goodbyes and Liz went downstairs to spend some quality time with her parents.
---
Part 2
---
“Is Kyle gonna be home?” Isabel asked as she got into Liz’s car, ready to head over to Maria’s. Taking a glance at her best friend in the passenger seat, Liz tentatively replied, “Yeah sweetie, he is.”
“Oh...well, it’s all right. I can handle it. I mean it’s been a year. I can do this...right?” With a nod of her head Liz turned the car and headed for Maria and Kyle’s house. Maria’s mom Amy had Maria when she was 17, it was quite the scandal, but it was made better when Amy married Maria’s father. They stayed married until Maria was about five and then divorced. Kyle’s mom had left his dad a year or two later. Being the two single parents in the group of friends, they started spending a lot of time together and eventually fell in love. They married when Kyle and Maria were 8 years old.

“What’s Max doing here?” Liz asked Isabel as she pulled into the driveway. Isabel looked at her crossly before pointing to her parent’s car. “Why else would he be here?”
“Ugh, when are they gonna stop trying?” Liz asked as she threw her hands into the air.
“Oh come on Lizzie, it wouldn’t be so bad. You guys are friends and then you’d be my sister!”
Liz bowed her head and clutched her chest, “Et tu Isabel?”
Rolling her eyes, Isabel got out of the car and walked into Maria’s house. Liz followed and was immediately jumped on by a girl her size with long blond hair. Again Max, Michael, and Alex covered their ears as they watched two girls’ jump up and down squealing, only to be joined by a third jumping and squealing girl. They listened as they heard onslaughts of “I missed you so much!”, “Oh my god I love your hair!”, “You look so hot!”, “You’re outfit is awesome! Where’d you get it?”, and “We HAVE to go shopping soon!”

After the girls had all settled down they all walked into the living room to hang out with Kyle and his new girlfriend. Isabel was the last one to enter and hung back a bit. She surveyed his new girlfriend with a careful eye. She was a lot shorter than Isabel was which was probably what Kyle liked. She’d always dwarfed him with her height when they were together. This girl had blond hair also, but it was lighter and curlier than Isabel’s was. She looked like she was in good shape, her body was great, and her eyes were beautiful. Her face wasn’t a thing of beauty but it was pretty.
“Hey Max!” Kyle said as he took his arm from around the girl’s shoulders to hug his best friend.
“Are you ok?” Liz whispered to Isabel, receiving a quick nod of her head. Kyle made his rounds hugging both Liz and even awkwardly hugging Isabel, making his new girlfriend a tad bit jealous. Which didn’t go unnoticed by anyone in the room.
“Everyone, this is Tess. My girlfriend.” She gave a little wave and a smile. “Tess this is Liz, Max and Isabel.”
“What about me?” Maria asked incredulously.
“She already knows you dork.”
Taking his chance to introduce his friends before a fight could break out Max cleared his throat. “These are my roommates from school, Alex and Michael. Guys this is Kyle, his girlfriend Tess and Maria.”

Everyone said their hellos and greeted each other before sitting down to watch some TV. When Tess started kissing up on Kyle as he talked with Max, Michael and Alex about football Isabel had to excuse herself. She walked out onto the back porch and looked out over the yard, letting a few tears slip down her cheek before brushing them away.
“You ok?” Alex asked, startling her and making her jump. She whirled around on him.
“Oh yeah, yeah. I’m fine.” She said giving him a small smile. Not wanting him to ask her any questions she decided to change the subject. “Why aren’t you in there talking with the guys about football?” She asked trying to wipe away the tear tracks.
He walked over to stand beside her, looking out over the yard and shrugged. “I’m not really into sports.” Leaning back against the railing of the deck she turned her head sideways and looked at him, “What are you more of a computer nerd or something?” He smiled, still looking out at the yard, “Yeah.”

They were silent for a good ten minutes before he spoke; “This yard is really beautiful. I mean with the snow and the trees and the view.” She turned around and rested her forearms on the rail, looking out over the yard as well. “Yeah, it was my favorite yard when I was a kid. You should come back and see it in the spring or summer. Maria’s mom has this beautiful garden that I used to spend hours in, and in the fall with the leaves falling and the view of the town below, it’s indescribable.”

Nothing more was said for another five minutes when Alex turned to her and looked at her with a soft gaze, “You really loved him didn’t you?”
“Excuse me?” She asked, a puzzled expression on her face.
“Kyle, you really loved him, didn’t you?”
She was silent for a little while, looking back at the yard. “Yeah, I did. I thought we were going to get married but I guess I just wasn’t good enough for him.” She answered with a sad sigh.
“I think you have that backwards.” He said with a smile.
“That’s doubtful but thanks.” She said returning the smile and shivering slightly.
“We should get back inside; it’s really cold out here.” He said taking off his jacket and putting it around her to warm her up. She thanked him as they walked back inside the house.

“Where have you two been?” Maria asked with an arched eyebrow as they walked in smiling at each other.
“Just outside talking. I was a gentleman and kept my hands to myself.” Alex said holding up his hands infront of him.
“Well, it’s my turn to talk with Isabel.” Maria said with an amused smile as she grabbed her friend’s hand and pulled her up the stairs to her bedroom.
“Ok spill it, what happened out there?” Maria asked as soon as she kicked the bedroom door shut. Liz tore her attention away from the magazine she was reading on Maria’s bed and looked up at her friends.
“Nothing. We talked. I shivered, he gave me his coat and ushered me inside where I was whisked away and brought up here to be interrogated.”
“Isabel you were out there for like 20 minutes with him, standing really close together and talking.”
“With who?” Liz asked from her spot on the bed.
“Alex.”
“We were just talking about the beautiful view and Kyle. We were probably standing close together to keep warm since it was really cold out there.”
“Yeah I’m sure he was talking about a beautiful view all right, and not my yard!”
“He said, ‘this yard is really beautiful.’ So nice try.”

Plopping down on the bed next to Liz, Isabel reclined on her forearms and sighed. “So give me the scoop on this Tess girl. What’s she like?”
“She’s all right I guess. She’s got more on her chest than she does in her head but isn’t that the way it always is with cheerleaders?” Maria answered sarcastically.
“She’s a cheerleader? At U of M?” Maria nodded.
“She makes Kyle look like a freakin genius! Which is probably why he likes her. When she’s around he’s the one that explains stuff to her. It makes him look smart to the average person, but to me it’s like the blind leading the blind.”
“He’s not stupid Maria.”
“No Isabel, you mean he isn’t THAT stupid.” Liz corrected.
“If it wasn’t for his football scholarship do you really think that Kyle could’ve gotten into the University of Michigan?” Maria asked sarcastically.

posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:04:28 AM
---
Part 3
---
“You better not be trying to get into my sister’s pants Alex.” Max whispered to his friend once he sat down.
“Hey man, she looked upset and I was just comforting her. All we did was talk about the view of the yard.”
Max eyed him suspiciously but let the whole thing drop for the time being.
“Did everyone see or something? That Maria chick was giving me the evil eye like I was trying to take advantage of your sister or something.”
“Yeah, everyone saw. I’m actually glad you went out there with her because I didn’t really want Kyle to see her crying over him again.” Max whispered.

Amy Valenti came out along with her husband Jim and Max’s parents, interrupting his whispered conversation with Alex.
“Kids, we’ve decided that we’re all going to go out to dinner tomorrow night. The whole group like we used to when you were little.” Amy explained with a quick glance around, “Where’s Maria and the girls?”
“Upstairs.” Kyle said rolling his eyes.
“Well, make sure they know that we’re going tomorrow at 6. We’re meeting here and it’s semi-formal.”
“You need dates.” Diane said looking directly at her son.
“Of course we would.” He said rolling his eyes. “Maybe I’ll ask Maria to be my date?” He said out loud giving Kyle a smile.
“Or maybe you’ll ask Liz.” His father’s statement was more of a command than a question.
“Or maybe Maria.” Max challenged back.
“Or Liz.” His mom said in a singsong voice.
“Fine. You win; I’ll ask Liz.”

Once the parents had left the room Max slumped back on the couch.
“They’re always pulling shit like this.”
“What’s so wrong with Liz? I think she’s hot.” Michael commented.
“She is hot, but that’s not the problem.” Kyle answered for Max. Getting confused and puzzled looks from both Alex and Michael Kyle explained.
“It’s not that our boy Evans doesn’t like Liz, infact I think he does. I think he wants her so bad he can sometimes taste it. There’s just one problem. Their parents. They’ve been trying to set them up from the day she was born. It’s kind of like an arranged marriage. Evans here, like most guys I know, doesn’t like to do what his parents want him to, he rebels. You know what I’m sayin?”
“Yeah that’s basically it, except for the wanting her so bad I can sometimes taste it part.”

Before anyone else had the chance to say anything the three girls came down from Maria’s room, laughing at something that was said.
“Hey, mom and dad said we’re all going out to a semi-formal dinner tomorrow and that we need dates.” Kyle announced to his sister. Isabel looked panicked for a brief second, until her eyes landed on Alex.
“Alex would you like to be my date?” She asked with a warm smile. He returned her smile and nodded his head.

Liz turned her smiling face from them and settled it on Max. “Let me guess our parents in another attempt to get us together have decided that you’re going to ask me, right?”
“How’d you guess?”
Liz sighed and shook her head “Will they ever stop?”
“Not until you have my last name and give birth to at least two of my children.” Max answered with a laugh.
“Maybe I’ll ask Kenny Fisher.” Maria said dejectedly. “I hear he’s back in town for the holiday. He’s always kind of had a thing for me.”
“Maria, Kenny Fisher brought his girlfriend back with him. Maybe since he’s going to be going anyways you should ask Michael here?” Kyle suggested.
Maria looked at Michael sitting in his chair, his untamed hair and scowl. He was mildly cute. ‘I guess he’ll have to do.’ Maria thought to herself.
“Wanna be my date?”
“It looks like everyone else is taken and I have no choice.”


---
After the dinner party...
---
Liz plopped down on her bed and sighed heavily. She’d never seen her parents so upset and angry. Her mother cried the whole way home. Her father drove over the speed limit, taking turns like it was nobody’s business. Dinner had been an absolute nightmare. She’d arrived with Max in his car but ended up going home with her parents in theirs after the huge fight that her parents had with his parents during dinner.

Running in prominent social circles the Parkers and the Evans’ knew how to argue without causing a scene or drawing attention from the people or tables around them in public places. Liz didn’t even really understand what the whole thing was about, one minute they were all happy and laughing the next her parents were saying hushed angry words directed at Max’s parents. Her father stood up, threw some money on the table to cover their part of the bill and went to get the coats.
“Come on Elizabeth, we’re leaving.” He’d said to her. She’d said goodbye to everyone and she’d left with her parents. On the way home, her father forbid her to see Maxwell and Isabel Evans ever again. She’d protested saying they were her best friends, she was an adult and he couldn’t tell her what to do. He’d said that he would not allow her to see them as friends or otherwise.
“If I want to see my friends you can’t stop me daddy. I’m 20 years old, I’m an adult and I’ll see them if I want to.”

After the Parkers left, Diane and Phillip decided that they weren’t going to stay either. They’d put some money on the table to cover their end of the bill and they’d left. Dragging Max, Isabel, Alex and Michael along with them. That left one very confused family sitting at the table.
Maria stared in shock at the door, which everyone else had used as an escape. “What was that all about?” She looked to her mother who looked confused and like she was about to cry. Maria couldn’t help but laugh at the lost little girl expression on her mom’s face.
“Maria, have some respect. Old friendships could’ve been shattered tonight and you’re laughing?!”
Sobering up quickly Maria looked down at her plate, “Sorry dad.”

Once Diane and Phillip got home they forbid Max and Isabel to see Elizabeth Parker ever again. Max had reacted in much the same way that Liz had acted towards her parents. Saying that he was an adult and if he wanted to see her then damn it he would. Isabel stood shocked for a minute but then launched into a frenzy. Yelling at her parents saying that they’d just had one stupid fight with Jeff and Nancy and if that ended their friendship they were all stupid. She’d yelled at them for trying to control her and saying that she would not let them tell her that she couldn’t speak to her best friend anymore. Then she ignored them for the rest of the night. Speaking only to Michael, Alex and her brother.

The next day Max was playing golf in the indoor golf dome with Michael, Kyle and Alex when his cell phone rang.
“Hello?”
“Hi Max, it’s me Liz.”
“Liz, hi!”
“How are you?”
“I’m all right considering what happened last night. How about you?” He said walking away from the other guys to have a little privacy.
“The same.”
“Did your parents forbid you to see Isabel and me?”
“Yeah, did yours forbid you to see me?”
“Yup.”
“What’s this whole thing all about anyway?”
“I have no idea, it was came out of no where.”
There was a silence for a few minutes before Max spoke again.
“Do you wanna go out for dinner or something tonight?”
“You mean like a date?”
“Yeah.”
A pause.
“Yeah.” He could hear the smile in her voice.
“Great! I’ll pick you up around 6?”
“All right, see you then.”

Ending the phone call he walked back over to his friends with a huge smile on his face.
“Who was that Maxwell?” Michael asked curiously.
“Liz.”
“Ah, so now that the fruit is forbidden you want a taste eh?” Alex asked swinging his club and smacking the ball onto the green.
“Maybe.”
“You’re a dog man.” Kyle said as he pulled his club out of his bag and placed his golf ball on the tee.
“She called me Kyle; it wasn’t the other way around.” Max said in defense of himself, sitting down in the golf cart.
“You guys are so predictable, I knew last night that this was going to happen. If I didn’t know better I’d say that your parents planned this whole thing.”
“Do you think they would?”
“They’ve done some pretty underhanded and sneaky things in the past. Remember prom? Liz was gonna go with my step cousin Sean but hmm, he suddenly got unavoidably detained at the last minute by the police. What happened to your date Max?”
“She called me saying that she had to wash her hair.”
“That girl was totally sprung on you too. She calls you up at the last minute giving some lame ass excuse and what do ya know, you and Liz are both dateless for the senior prom. Hmm what a coinkidink.”

Max mulled over this new theory of Kyle’s. “Do you honestly think our parents would stage a fight just to get us together?”
“I’d just like to add my opinion here if I may?” Alex asked, cutting off whatever Kyle was about to say.
“All right,” He said when he got the ok from Max, “I think Kyle is right. They’re running out of time, you and Liz are both in your twenties and in college. They’re probably figuring one of you is going to meet someone and then all their planning and plotting will have been for nothing. They’re most likely desperate.”
“No man, I said ‘if I didn’t know better’. I was just talkin out of my ass; you should’ve seen the look on my mom’s face last night. The fight was probably real.” Kyle said as he walked back over to his golf bag to return the club in its slot.

posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:05:33 AM
Author’s Note: This part is kind of M/L, I/K centered. Kind of needed a way to get the Isabel/Kyle thing out of the way without making him look like an ass in the process. So I hope that this works.
---
Part 4
---
Max sat uncomfortably in the living room of Jeff and Nancy Parker. Across from him, in his favorite chair sat Jeff, staring at Max giving him the evil eye. Every few seconds Max would glance at his watch or look towards the stairs waiting impatiently for Liz to come down and rescue him from his discomfort.

He’d known Jeff and Nancy all his life. They’d been like second parents to him. Infact, being his god parents; they were second parents to him! He couldn’t even remember one single solitary time he’d ever felt so uncomfortable, unwelcome and unwanted in their home and presence as he did now.

“So...” Max said trying to start conversation with Jeff. Getting only a blank look and then the evil eye as a response, he glanced at his watch again and shifted uncomfortably in his seat. It’d been three weeks and his parents still hadn’t spoken to Liz’s parents. His dad lectured both him and Isabel when they got home from spending time with Liz; his mom wouldn’t even acknowledge them. She’d call them, “those people” and when referring to Liz she’d say, “that girl.”
“You’ve been out with that girl again haven’t you?” She’d say to him.

Diane had said that phrase a lot in those three weeks because ever since their date that first night, Max and Liz had been inseparable, spending nearly every day together. Had their parents been on speaking terms they would’ve been absolutely thrilled that their two young children were spending so much time together. Max doubted if any part of them, even a small part was thrilled about the prospect of their children dating.

He and Liz had always been friends, how could they not have been what with their parents being so close? But they’d been growing closer and closer as a result of the fight. He’d spent so many years trying to fight his parents for control on whom he dated and rebelling against the idea of dating Liz that he never really got to know her. Pre big parental fight, he never knew her favorite color, movie, flower, ice cream flavor, food, book or band. He’d never noticed the cute little quirks that she had. Like tucking her hair behind her ear or wringing her hands and babbling when she was nervous or the way she said words ending with ing. He’d always known that Liz was a great person but he had no idea that she spent her Saturday mornings at the library reading to little kids.

Max had found himself wanting to kiss her, day dreaming about her, seeing thins that reminded him of her and buying whatever it happened to be on impulse. Thinking about her when she wasn’t around, smelling the lingering scent of her perfume in his car and missing her. He didn’t know if Liz was beginning to feel all the same things that he was, he didn’t know if she was missing him when he wasn’t around and he wasn’t quite sure that he wanted to find out. If he told her how he felt and she didn’t feel the same way, it would change everything between them. So he decided to let whatever it was between them be exactly what it was without labeling it, and kept his urge to hold her and kiss her in check.

“Maria, it’s been three weeks and nothing. Just friendly hugs, not even a peck on the cheek.” Liz said into the receiver as she paced around her bedroom.
“Maybe you should make the first move?” Maria suggested.
“I can’t do that!”
“Why not?”
“If I make the first move and he doesn’t feel the same way, it’ll change everything between us. I mean what if he’s just using me and the situation to get back at his parents?”
“Isn’t that what you’re doing?”
“It was, but it’s different now. I’m feeling all these feelings...”
“Liz, babe no offense but you’re screwed up.”
“Oh gee what a friend.” Liz said sarcastically. “I better get going; he’s waiting for me downstairs.”
“With your dad?”
“Yeah.”
“Ouch...I feel bad for him. He’s probably getting the death stare.”
“I know, that’s why I have to go. I’ll call you later if anything happens.”
“Bye babe.” Pressing off and tossing the phone on her bed she turned to the mirror and checked her appearance one more time. Her pink peasant top went well with the dark denim jeans she had on. Her hair was flowing down her back just the way Max seemed to like it. Nodding to her reflection she turned on her heel and exited the room.

He watched her as she floated down the stairs looking absolutely beautiful. Her hair bounced around her shoulders and back as she trotted down the stairs, gliding her hand down the banister. He thought about saying something along the lines of it’s about damn time, but decided against it seeing as how Jeff was right there.

She watched as he stood up from the couch the minute he saw her. He looked gorgeous, as usual. She always loved that catholic schoolboy type look. Like that actor, Skeet Ulrich, in that movie The Craft. Doc Martins, khaki pants a white tee shirt underneath his unbuttoned baby blue button down with the sleeves rolled up.

“You ready to go?” He asked hopefully, breathing a sigh of relief when she nodded her head and grabbed their coats from the coat rack. He helped her into hers and threw his on as he was ushering her out the door.
---

Throwing open the door to Maria’s house Isabel waltzed into the foyer with a huge radiant smile. Walking into the living room her smile didn’t fade or falter as she saw Kyle and Tess sprawled out on the floor engrossed in a heavy make out session.
“You know you do have a bedroom for that.” She said startling them out of their fierce game of tonsil hockey.
Rolling off of Kyle, Tess stood up in an irritated and dramatic movement, “Don’t any of your friends know how to knock?” Casting Isabel a dirty look she told Kyle exactly where he could find her when he was finished. The she sauntered up the stairs as seductively as she could.

Isabel rolled her eyes and still smiling as bright as she had been when she first walked into the house, she turned and walked into the kitchen. Pushing himself off the floor Kyle followed her. He watched as she got a glass and then opened the fridge for what was most likely going to be the juice.
“Why are you so happy?”
“No reason.” She answered pouring the juice into her glass and placing it back in the fridge.
“Yeah right. It’s that Whitman clown isn’t it?”
“If you really must know Kyle, yes it is. And he isn’t a clown.”
“Whatever. I don’t like him.”
“Why not?”
“His jokes are lame and...and I don’t think his intentions are honorable. He looks at you and sees the bod.”

She took a sip of her juice before looking at him. “I happen to think that his jokes are funny. They’re the funniest jokes I’ve heard in a long, long time.” Taking another sip of her juice she walked over to the kitchen doorway and turned around to face him. “He likes me for me. He doesn’t look at me and only see my body Kyle, you did. Whether Alex’s intentions are honorable or not isn’t really any of your concern anymore.”

“Iz, we went out for four years. We’ve been friends for even longer than that; I still care about you.” He said quietly.
“It’s nice to know that you care.” Isabel said as she turned around and walked towards the stairs. Kyle was hot on her trail, “And for the record I never looked at you and saw your body.”
“Oh right. That was a good one Kyle.” She said whirling around on him, almost spilling her juice. “The only reason you even asked me out freshmen year was because I was the only freshman girl with all the parts of a senior.”

“That’s not true.” Taking her hand he led her outside to the back porch. “Isabel, I asked you out freshmen year because when you came over and helped my mom in the garden she’d look so happy and it was different from when Maria was out there helping her. I wasn’t happy and I thought that if I were with you, you’d make me feel as happy as she looked.”

“Kyle that is such a load of bull.” Isabel said pulling her hand from his grasp. “What could you possibly have been unhappy about? You were the boy who had everything. Starter on varsity as a freshman, all the girls at school chasing you, the biggest house with the best yard and view. Tell me what you were so damn unhappy about.”

“I didn’t have everything. It’s not easy being a freshman and starting on varsity, you catch a lot of shit from not only the older guys on the team but from the other freshman on J.V. All those girls at school who were chasing me only wanted me for one reason. I was popular. They didn’t even know me and they probably wouldn’t have cared if I had a third nipple on my forehead. I was popular and that’s all that mattered to them. They wanted the recognition that one got from being Kyle Valenti’s girlfriend. The biggest house with the best yard and view came as a result of a broken home.” He paused for a few minutes to let Isabel digest all that made him unhappy when they were teenagers. “I loved Amy a lot back then, I really did but I missed my real mom. She abandoned me and never looked back, it kind of scars a kid.”

Not knowing what to say to him she said the first thing that came to her mind, “I must’ve made you happy then, right?”
“Yeah, for a long time you did.”
“Well why don’t I anymore? What changed? When did it change? Was it something I did?”
“Nothing changed; you still make me happy. I guess I just needed to learn how to make myself happy. You didn’t do anything.”

They were silent until a question came to Isabel that she really needed an answer to. “Kyle, did you love me?”
“What?”
“I mean were you ever actually in love with me? Because you keep saying I made you happy. You stayed and you wanted to be with me all those years because I made you happy but you haven’t said you stayed because you loved me.” There was a silence again that seemed to go on forever, “I’ll tell you right now that that’s why I stayed with you through all the bullshit rumors and jealous fights I had with you and with other girls over you.”
He grasped her hand in his again and looked at her. “Of course I did. I mean I do.”
Isabel froze. “No, no! I mean I still love you but I’m not in love with you. I mean I love you, because a part of me always will, but not the way I used to.” He quickly clarified. She sighed with relief.

“I didn’t tell you as much as I should’ve. Both that I loved you and that you weren’t just a body to me, except for those times that you were naked.” He said cracking a smile. “It’s the one thing that I’d change about us.” Another long silence was had as they leaned against the railing hand in hand before Isabel turned to him and hugged him. “I’m sorry.” His return of the hug let her know that it was ok and that he was sorry too. For breaking her heart like he had.

“Look Kyle,” Isabel said as the embrace broke. “Alex is a really sweet guy. He’s not trying to get into my pants, you know Max would kill him so just give him a chance ok?”
“Fine.” Kyle said throwing his arm around Isabel’s shoulder and leading her into the house. “But I’m not singing that bye, bye Miss American pie song with him again.”
“What?” Isabel asked with a laugh. “When did you do that?”
“Last week. He came over with Max and Michael and we all got a little drunk. He’s got a horrible singing voice. He’s all off key and shit.”
She couldn’t help but break into a laugh. She knew better, Alex had a beautiful singing voice because in addition to being a computer nerd he was also a musician. He’d sang for her once. Kyle was the one who had the horrible singing voice and was off key.

posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:06:49 AM
Author’s Note: Big fights and mean words in this one. Part 5 was just getting too long so stick around for part 6 which I’ll start right after I post this one. Some things are resolved in it.

---
Part 5
---
“Liz, darling your father and I are leaving. We’ll see you there.” Nancy called from the bottom of the stairs.
“All right, bye!” Liz yelled as she fastened her necklace around her neck. After she fastened and straightened it, she touched with the tips of her fingers and admired the diamond choker. It’d been a present from Max that she hadn’t worn in years. He’d given it to her when she turned sixteen. It’d been the best and most expensive gift she’d gotten from any of her friends. Of course his parents made him buy something so extravagant and special for her special day, but he’d been the one to pick it out.

She looked at her reflection as a whole. She wasn’t a vain girl but she had to admit that she cleaned up nice. Her hair was in a classy upsweep with curly tendrils in the back, she wore the beautiful necklace that Max had given her around her neck, tear drop diamond earrings and her dress was gorgeous. Isabel had helped her pick it out. Made of silk it was a strapless gown that hugged her in all the right places but flared out towards the bottom and flowed as she walked. It complimented her skin tone and hair beautifully. Navy blue had always been her favorite color. It was simple and yet elegant all at the same time.

It was the night of the annual Winter Solstice Charity Ball at the Country Club. To Liz it’d always seemed like a stupid event, just a chance for women to show off their expensive jewelry, dresses and firs. For men it was a chance to show off their Cuban Cigars and how big and deep their pockets were. But seeing as how it was for charity she attended every single year, sometimes with Max and sometimes not with Max. This year seemed different and Liz guessed that it was because this was the year that she’d be attending for the first time with Max and actually noticing the feeling of being held in his arms as they danced, and reveling in it.

Smoothing her dress with her hands she nodded to her reflection and walked downstairs to a waiting Max.

The second he saw her, his breath caught in his throat. She looked stunning every single year, but this year it was different and he knew exactly why. He noticed the necklace and smiled to himself. He’d felt like such an idiot giving her a diamond necklace. Everyone else gave her gag gifts, movies; concert tickets, CDs, or books. The stuff she really wanted, he had to give her expensive jewelry and a box of Godiva chocolate. It’d been embarrassing, but he remembered how the embarrassment faded away as she opened the velvet box. He remembered her sharp intake of breath, and then the way she gasped his name, “Oh Max...” Next came the 100-watt smile and the full body hug. “It’s so beautiful and I love it but you didn’t have to!”

He remembered saying to her; “A beautiful girl deserves beautiful jewelry.” He remembered her handing him the box and telling him to help her put it on and the way his hands shook slightly as he tried to clasp it. At the time he’d thought that it was because everyone was watching them and that the clasp was just too damn small for his large fingers to work.

“Are you just going to stand there or are you going to be a gentleman and help me with my coat?” Liz said as she stood next to the coat rack, with a patient but amused smile. Shaking himself out of his memories he looked down with an embarrassment smile before grabbing her coat off the coat rack and helping her into it.

They quickly checked their coats and headed to their table as soon as they got to the Country Club. There they found Isabel and Alex holding hands and being openly affectionate towards each other. Michael and Maria were glaring at each other from across the table while Kyle and Tess were already dancing out on the dance floor.

Liz watched them as they danced and she had to admit that they were cute together. For the most part Tess was a nice person; she was a little rude to Isabel but that could be expected seeing as how Isabel had once slept with Kyle on a regular basis. He told her his corny jokes and she laughed, he nibbled and kissed her neck and she sighed, he dipped her and they laughed together. Once in a while Kyle would let her lead, she’d try to dip him and they’d laugh. There wasn’t any denying that they were a cute couple.

“Would you excuse me Max? I need to go and freshen up.” Liz said getting up from the table. He nodded, a little confused seeing as how they’d just got there. She looked beautiful to him. “Girls?”

Silently Isabel tore herself away from Alex and Maria’s hateful stare turned soft as they got up from the table and left the men alone, to “freshen up.”
“Why do girls always do that?” Alex asked as his eyes followed Isabel out of the room.
“Always do what?” Michael asked as his eyes followed Maria out of the room.
“Go to the bathroom in a pack? They’ve been doing that since we were 12.” Max added as his eyes watched Liz leave the room.
“It’s like they need a bathroom buddy or something. ‘Here, hold my dress up while I do my business.’ It’s gross. What do they talk about in there?”
“Us probably.” Michael replied looking at his best friend Alex.
---
“What’s the deal with you and Alex?” Liz asked as she eyed her friend.
“What ever do you mean my dear Lizzie?”
“She means why are you two suddenly showing tons of PD frickin A? Why can’t you wipe that goofy grin off your face and blink that far off dreamy sparkle out of your eyes?” Maria clarified somewhat harshly.
“Hey don’t be mean to me just because you’re flying solo tonight, that’s your own fault.”
“Who exactly, was I supposed to ask? Michael? Ha!” Maria said as she turned to face her reflection and flipped her curly hair over her shoulder with the back of her hand.
“There is nothing wrong with Michael. He’s a really nice guy.”
“Oh yeah if you think being an arrogant, self-centered jerk qualifies as nice.”
---
“So what’s the deal with you and Max’s sister?” Michael asked with a mischievous smile.
Alex, suddenly becoming uncomfortable pulled on his collar, “We’re...you know...friends.”
“Oh, the kind of friends that can’t keep their hands off of each other the whole way here?”
“Michael!”
“The kind of friends that sneak into each other’s rooms when they think Max is asleep? What do you guys do in there? Let me guess, you ‘just talk’ right?”
“Hey man, don’t take it out on me because you have no date and won’t get any tonight.” Alex said defensively.

“1. I don’t have a date by choice, not by chance. I refuse to ask that Deluca chick. 2. Are you implying that you will be getting some later?” Michael asked with the same mischievous grin on his face.
“Yeah Alex, are you?” Max asked eyeing his friend.
“Max, we just talk man. I swear. Ok so maybe we kiss too but that’s it, I promise. Michael’s just mad because he’s hot for Maria and she hates him.”
“I am not hot for Maria! She’s an annoying, vain, ditzy, loud mouth who drives me completely crazy!” Michael spat vehemently.
“Yeah I’ll bet she does, only not the way you try to play it off.” Alex quipped. Max and Alex shared a laugh. Everyone grew quiet for a few minutes before Michael raised his eyebrows and said, “You never answered question 2 Alex.”
“Is it hot in here?” Alex asked pulling on his collar again and wiping the sweat from his brow.
---
“You know you like him.” Isabel said looking at her best friend.
“He drives me crazy! I hate him.”
“Uh uh.” Came Isabel’s sarcastic reply and knowing smile.
“Stop changing the subject, what’s the deal with you and Alex?”

Isabel walked away from her friends and sat on the red velvet couch with a happy sigh. “He’s just completely unlike anyone I’ve ever dated.”
“Meaning he’s different from Kyle.” Maria said with a smile.
“He’s smart, he’s witty and charming, he talks about topics other than football. He writes songs and poetry. He’s cultured, extremely nice, adorably cute, so sweet and romantic.” She let out another happy sigh. “He’s a departure from what I’ve always known boys to be a change, one that I need. He makes me feel good about myself.”

“Well we’re happy that you’re happy again.” Liz said as she sat down next to Isabel and hugged her. Maria couldn’t suppress the aww any longer and sat down to join in on the hug. After 2 minutes Isabel broke the hug smiling. “It’s really nice to be held in your arms guys but there are another pair of arms that I would much rather have wrapped around me right now.”

As she was about to leave the room Liz called out to her, “Wait Isabel!”
“You guys haven’t...I mean have you guys...you know what I mean is have you...” Realizing what her friend was trying to get at and that she was too embarrassed to ever spit it out Maria got up and walked over to them. “She wants to know if you guys have,” she pushed the index finger of one hand through the circle made by the index finger and thumb of the other a few times to get the point across. “you know.”

“Oh! No. We’ve talked about it but he wants to wait until I’m sure that I’m ready. He doesn’t want to be a rebound or anything.” Isabel explained with a glowing smile. “Isn’t he the sweetest?” She asked as she opened the door and walked out.

“So what about you and Max?” Maria asked once Isabel was out of the bathroom.
“I think I’m gonna tell him.”
“What?! What happened to things will change?” Maria asked as she paced back and forth infront of the mirror.
“Things already have changed. Things are different now, things change all the time so it’s pointless to try and prevent them. If he doesn’t feel the same way it’ll be better to find out now instead of getting attached more than I already am.” Liz said defensively.
“No, Liz I don’t think you should tell him.”
“Why?”
“Because I just don’t.”
“Well, its not your choice to make Maria it’s mine. I’ve made it so deal.” Liz said pushing herself off the couch and resting her hands on her hips.
“Fine, do whatever you want Liz but don’t come crying to me when he laughs in your face!”

Liz stood there next to the couch completely shell-shocked. She couldn’t believe that her best friend had just said that to her. She didn’t understand why she was being so mean.
“How can you be so sure of what you’re feeling anyway? Are you sure that it’s not just because your stupid parents said no?”
“I know when I like someone Maria and my parents are not stupid!”
“Yes they are! They start some ridiculous mystery fight with Max’s parents and then put my parents in the middle telling them to choose who they like better. Your dumb parents made my mom cry for an hour and she didn’t even want to come to this stupid Ball that she helped to organize because of them!”
“Why are you being such a bitch about this?” Liz asked incredulously.
“I’m the bitch?”
“Yeah you are.”
“Whatever, I don’t need this shit.” Maria said pushing past Liz and throwing open the door.
---
Alex watched as Isabel came floating back into the ballroom with the most amazing smile on her face. She confidently walked over to him and held out her hand, “Dance with me stud.” He took it without a moment of hesitation and they departed for the dance floor.
“You ok with that?” Michael asked Max. He thought about it for a little while before nodding his head and smiling. “He’s a good guy.”

“Liz is looking for you Max; she’s got something really funny to tell you.” Maria said in a cold tone as she breezed past the table and stormed out onto the terrace.
“Do you mind?” Michael gave a dismissive way to his friend, but kept his eyes on Maria. As soon as Max was out of sight Michael made his way to the doors of the balcony and heard soft, hushed crying.
“Maria?” He asked stepping out onto the balcony.
“Oh god what now?” She said turning her tear-streaked face towards Michael. “What? Come to belittle me? Point your finger and laugh?”

He walked over to stand next to her, “Wanna talk about it?”
Her reply was curt and cold, “No.”
“Fine, sorry I was trying to be nice. It won’t happen again.” He said turning around and muttering “Bitch” under his breath.
“Ass.”

posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:07:14 AM
Author’s Note: Here it is. Kinda short compared to the last part but I can’t give two parts in the same day and have both of them be long now can I?

---
Part 6
---
She’d heard him call her a bitch, he felt slightly bad but not enough to apologize for it. She really was being a bitch. “Just what was it that crawled up your ass and died? Why do you have to be such a bitch to someone who’s just trying to help? I didn’t do anything to you.”

She sighed and waved him back towards the rail with her hand. “Look I’m sorry, I just had a really bad fight with Liz.”
“Wanna talk about it?”
“You’ll listen? And you won’t make fun of me?”
“I’ll try my hardest.” He said with a small smile.
“Ok.”
---
Liz walked out of the bathroom, intent on finding Max but what she found was her mother and Diane hugging each other in a darkened part of the hallway. She made her way towards them quickly but ducked behind a big round column so she could listen and not be seen.

“I know Diane; it’s been hard for me too.” She heard her mom say.
“I mean, I can’t even think straight anymore Nancy! I miss talking with you, sharing recipes.” Diane said breaking down into tears. Liz could just imagine her mom holding Diane and rubbing her back like she did when Liz was upset.
“Just give them some more time sweetie.”
“I don’t know if I can. All this sneaking around is getting to me.” Diane said in between sobs. Liz maneuvered herself so that if they walked to the bathroom she wouldn’t be seen and not two seconds later they walked to the restroom. Nancy saying reassuring things to Diane as she rubbed her back and talked about cleaning up the mess she’d made of her beautiful face.

She stepped out from behind the column and into the open hallway, processing what she’d just seen and heard. Had Diane and Nancy secretly made up? Had the fight been between her father and Phil the whole time? How long had her mother been sneaking around, speaking to Diane behind her father’s back?

“What are you doing out here all by yourself?” Max asked coming up behind her. Jumping she whirled around to face him. “Oh! N-nothing. What are you doing out here?”
“Maria said you were looking for me. She said you had something really funny to tell me.”
“She did?” Liz asked through clenched teeth. “Yeah, a song that I liked was on and I wanted to dance. Which is funny since I know you hate to dance.”

“I’m sorry you missed it, but how about I make it up to you?” He asked taking her hand and leading her into the ballroom.
“How?”
“We’ll dance to the next song instead.” He led her to the floor and put his hands on her waist as “I Shall Believe” started to play. She smiled as her hands found their way up and around his neck, one hand playing with the hair at the nape.
“This is my favorite song.”
“I know, I requested it.”
---
“So that’s why I was crying.” Maria finished.
“Maybe you should talk to Liz. Tell her everything that you told me.”
“I know. Thanks for listening to all my problems Michael that’s really decent of you.”
“It’s no problem.” He replied with a smile. “I think I’m gonna go find Liz, will you dance with me later?”
Rolling his eyes and sighing exaggeratedly he said, “I suppose.” Smiling she turned and walked back into the ballroom.
---
Liz didn’t think the night could get better, aside from Maria apologizing. She was dancing to her favorite song, being held so close to Max and resting her head on his shoulder. Things were almost perfect.

“May I cut in?”

Liz raised her head to look at Maria and then let go of Max and started to walk away but before she knew it Maria was infront of her, grabbing her hand and putting her hand on Liz’s waist.
“I wanted to dance with my best friend, not Max.” She said smiling. Liz almost forgot that she was mad at Maria and almost smiled back, but stopped herself.
“Look Liz, I’m really sorry about what I said in the bathroom. Your parents aren’t stupid and I don’t think Max would laugh in your face if you told him how you felt.” Maria said quietly.
“Then why’d you say it?” Liz asked with a confused look on her face.

“I said it because I was scared that if you and Max got together it’d make you and Isabel closer and I’d be phased out. All our lives it’s been the Isabel, Maria, and Liz show and I was scared that if you told Max how you felt that I’d be dropped from the act and it’d be the Izzy and Lizzie show. That my part would be reduced to a recurring guest.”

“Maria don’t be ridiculous, you’ll always have a lead role. Always. Do you think that if I tell Max how I feel about him and we get together, Isabel will listen to me talk about her brother like you would? Do you think that she’d want to hear all the juicy details? I could never share those with anyone but you.”

“I know. I talked to Michael; he told me that I was just being stupid and paranoid. He was actually really...sweet about the whole thing.”

“Oh really? Sweet huh?” Liz asked with an amused smile.
“Yeah, he promised to dance with me later. He’s not so bad.”
“Mildly attractive right?” Liz asked sarcastically.
“Ok, maybe a little more than mildly.” The girls laughed and finished out the dance with their arms around each other in a hug and their heads resting on each other’s shoulders.

“Well, go confess your secret crush.” Maria said pushing Liz towards the table. “Tell Michael I’m holding him to his word and waiting on the dance floor.”

Smiling to herself Liz made her way towards the table. “Michael Maria’s waiting for you on the dance floor. She’s holding you to your promise and wants to collect now.” She watched as he shook his head and got up from his chair mutter things about her being high maintenance and how was he supposed to find her on the crowded dance floor.
“So what’d Maria want to talk to you about?” Max asked as she sat down.
“Oh we had this awful fight earlier and she wanted to apologize.”
“You wanna get some air?” He asked standing up and holding his hand out to her.

She took it and he led her out onto the terrace.

“It’s a beautiful night.” She said looking up at the stars and shivering.
“Not a cloud in sight.” He replied as he took off his tux jacket and placed it on her shoulders.
“Thanks.”

They were silent for awhile, looking up at the stars, enjoying the view and company. Inside Liz’s head and heart were waging battle. Her head was saying, “Don’t tell him, he’ll laugh at you.” Her heart was saying, “Tell him, you know what he’ll do. Tell him.” Her head had been greatly influenced by what Maria had said earlier in the bathroom but her heart hadn’t heard a word of it.

“Max...”
“Yeah?”
Finally listening to what her heart was telling her she said “I have something I need to tell you.”

posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:08:21 AM
Author's Note: Well damn, this makes three. Am I nice or what? This is very short, but considering I gave two other parts already today, it'll have to do. I couldn't leave it where I left it in part 6 so I had to make a continuing part. I'm just not that cruel.

---
Part 6 cont...
---
Instantly alarmed by the tone of her voice he turned his whole body towards her and asked, “What is it?”
“Oh, don’t worry. It’s nothing important. Well, I mean it is important it’s just not the bad kind-”

He grabbed her wringing hands to still them. “Liz, you’re babbling.” He said with a warm smile. “Just spit it out.”

“Ok, sorry.” She said with a chuckle. She took a deep breath before she began, “I’m not gonna do that whole Hollywood speech thing but I...Max, I love you.” After saying it, her eyes got wide and round, avoided his and finally closed. Any minute he’d start laughing at her, she thought. She hadn’t meant to say love, she really hadn’t. An hour ago she’d been using the word ‘like’ and now suddenly it was love? The word just slipped out of her mouth.

It was ludicrous really. Being in love with Max Evans. They’d only been dating for almost four weeks and she was already in love with him? They hadn’t even kissed! The whole idea was laughable. Laughable but utterly and completely true. Elizabeth Parker was definitely in love with Maxwell Evans, and there wasn’t a thing she could do to stop it.

Liz wasn’t the only one having trouble believing what she’d just said. Max couldn’t believe it either. He pinched himself several times to make sure that it wasn’t a dream. Did Liz Parker really just say that she loved him? And not in a friendly way?

When he saw her close her eyes he thought to himself, ‘Well, if I’m dreaming I might as well wake up happy. If I’m not then the proper thing to do would be to kiss the girl professing her love to me. Either way it’s a win-win situation.’ Closing his eyes he leaned in and tentatively touched his lips to hers. She jumped and he brought his hands up to cup her cheeks. Taking his lips off of hers he pulled back and looked at her.

Her eyes were still closed her lips slightly parted and being moistened by her tongue, her breathing stilled. She brought her hands up to his wrists and opened her eyes to look at him.

“I know it doesn’t seem possible since we’ve been seeing each other for such a short amount of time but I love you too Liz.” She closed her eyes and smiled one of her 100-watt smiles, and without warning she leaned in and pressed her moist lips to his.

As their kisses grew deeper, less hesitant, more loving and as their bodies started to move closer arms wrapping around each other, it started to snow.


posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:09:17 AM
---
Part 7
---

As the snow started to fall all around them their kiss grew more passionate. To Liz the only thing that existed at that moment was herself and Max Evans. His roving hands, his body pressed up against hers, and his beautifully skilled mouth and tongue. She briefly registered something cold and wet on her bare arm but dismissed it completely and lost herself in his kiss.

“Oh my god!” They faintly heard Isabel yell. “Come on Alex, I so do not need to see this.”

Despite the interruption the kiss continued on, with Liz’s mind and heart fighting again. “Don’t be so stupid Liz, you’ve never been in love so how can you be so sure?” Her mind said, her heart was saying, “You just know when you know, and Liz, you know. This is it; he’s the one.”

Breaking free from the kiss and embrace Liz took a step back from him, listening to her head which was screaming it’s fears over her heart’s whispered assurances. “This is crazy Max; we can’t be in love.”
“Why not?”
“Because we just, we can’t be! Maybe we’re in lust or maybe we just really, really like each other but love?! Have you ever been in love before?”

“No not exactly.” He said half-honestly.

“How do we know what it feels like then? How do we know that this is it?”
“Can I get all Hollywood on you for a second?” He asked stepping forward and taking her smaller hands into his. She nodded and he led her over to the bench and sat them down still holding her hands in his.

“I know that it seems crazy because it all seems so fast but it isn’t. We’ve known each other our whole lives and we’ve always loved each other. Or at least I’ve always loved you, as a friend of course but it’s different now. I know things about you that I never knew and I see you through a totally different set of eyes.”

She smiled slightly, but still had her doubts.

“I miss you when you aren’t around; I buy things on impulse if they remind me of you. I sit in my car for hours after dropping you off until the lingering scent of you and your perfume fades away. My breath catches in my throat and I stop breathing every time I see you come into the room. I remember every word you’ve ever said to me, and that’s a lot. I can recall every single Christmas, birthday and Valentine’s Day present that I’ve given you and you’ve given me. Every card Liz. I remember every school dance that we didn’t attend together, looking over at you and your date and being slightly jealous. Of course I confused it with anger towards our parents but that’s not the point. You just know when you know and Liz Parker, I know you know that we both know.” He said as he dropped one of her hands and cupped her cheek.

Finally her mind grew quiet as her heart taunted her with, “I told you so.”
“I know.” She said trying to hold in her laughter. She couldn’t help the impulse to laugh, his speech really was heart felt and touching, but the last part just sounded so Friends. She could imagine Chandler or Joey saying something like that.
“I know, I know. That sounds so Chandler or Joey.” Max said taking his hand off of her cheek and laughing. “I know you want to, go ahead and laugh.”
So she did. They laughed together and then resumed the kiss when their laughter subsided.

For the next few days Liz was on cloud nine. All of her last minute Christmas shopping was done with a smile plastered across her face, a hop in her step, a sparkle in her eye, while she hummed pleasantly to herself. Her parents were constantly asking what it was that was affecting her mood but she’d pretend that she didn’t have the slightest clue what they were talking about. She insisted it was just Christmas spirit.

Max and Liz had decided that they would keep their blossoming relationship a secret, between themselves and their friends. At least until the fight between their parents was resolved or until they could find out what it as about. With all that happened the night of the Charity Ball, Liz had completely forgotten what she’d seen and heard between her mom and Diane.

“Hey babe.” Maria said as she got into Liz’s car. “Let’s go.”
“Why are you in such a good mood today?”
“No reason.” Maria answered, flashing her friend a dazzling smile.
“Uh huh.”
“So what are you gonna get Max?”
Liz thought for a few long moments before answering, “I don’t know. I want it to be special but I haven’t been able to find anything that’s special enough.”

The conversation ended with Maria telling Liz exactly what she could give Max, Liz calling Maria a pervert and then turning up the radio. They drove along the high way singing along to the music at the top of their lungs. They’d already gone through every square inch of the mall in their own town, so they were going to try the mall in the next town over. Liz hoping that she’d find something special enough to give Max and Maria hoping that she’d find something nice enough to give Michael. According to her, she didn’t even like him very much. He had that one shining moment at the Ball when he could’ve became a possibility but then he went and screwed it all up by opening his mouth and being himself again. According to everyone else, Maria had it bad for Michael and Michael had it bad for Maria. They just didn’t know how to go about being normal about it, so they fought like second graders.

“Oh my god!”

Liz quit singing and was instantly alert. “What?”
“I think I just saw your parents at that cafe back there.”
“So?”
“Well, my vision must be going bad because I swear they were with Diane and Phil.”
“No, it must’ve been some other people who looked like them. My dad and Phil are still fighting and even if they made up they wouldn’t drive all the way out here in the middle of no where to meet at some greasy roadside cafe.” Liz explained.

“What’s the fight about anyways? My mom won’t tell me. She says that it’s none of my concern, she doesn’t want me to become a gossip.”
“It’s a little late for that isn’t it?” Liz asked eyeballing her friend.
“Oh shut up.”
“I don’t know what it’s about. Max doesn’t either. My parents won’t tell me but I have a feeling that it was always between my dad and his dad. I saw my mom and Diane at the Charity Ball talking in the hallway. Diane said she couldn’t take all the sneaking around and my mom said to give ‘them’ more time.”
“So you naturally assumed that ‘them’ meant your dad and Phil?”
“Well, yeah...who else could she have been talking about?”

posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:10:15 AM
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Part 8
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Amy rushed around the house, making sure everything was perfect. She was definitely on edge this Christmas Eve. Her two best friends and their husbands were still feuding and she had no idea why, although she had strong suspicions that whatever the reason it had something to do with Max and Liz.

She’d been against the pairing from the very beginning. Not that she wouldn’t love to see Max and Liz happy and if being together made them happy then that was great! But from what she saw Max and Liz didn’t want to be together. They fought and rebelled against their parents’ wishes since they hit puberty. That didn’t really seem like the actions of two people who wanted to be together. Amy refused to participate in any scheme, and as a result she was often left out.

She couldn’t believe how childish her friends were being. Diane refused to throw the annual Evans-Valenti-Parker Christmas Eve party that they threw every single year since their children were born. She’d said that she didn’t want “those people” in her house. Nancy refused to throw it because it was Diane’s turn. She said that maybe this year the families should just do their own separate things. So the responsibility had been left to Amy, even though she‘d thrown the party the year before. She refused to let their petty fight or stupid plan spoil tradition.

While Amy was frantically rushing around the house, putting the final touches on this and that Maria was upstairs wrapping presents. She’d managed to find something perfect for all her friends. To Michael, she was giving a brush and a book on personal hygiene. Isabel was getting a book on Kama Sutra and a gift certificate to her favorite store. Alex was getting two tickets and backstage passes a Weezer concert. Max’s present was actually wrapped up with Liz’s name on the tag, made of satin and lace, so that was her gift to the both of them. She got Kyle a Lakers jersey signed by the entire team and she was giving Tess a heart shaped locket with Kyle’s picture in it.

After bringing the presents down from her room, Maria helped her mom in the kitchen and then greeted the guests when they arrived. She noted how Diane and Nancy didn’t speak to each other and avoided eye contact. She observed Jeff’s death glare directed at Phil and Phil’s coldness towards Jeff and Nancy.

Tess surveyed the presents under the tree. All her presents were small, compared to everybody else’s. She was a little disappointed because she’d hoped that Kyle’s family and friends would like her, but by the looks of it, they really didn’t. She jumped when Kyle came up from behind her and wrapped his arms around her shoulders. “What’s wrong? You look upset.”

She sighed, still looking down at the presents. “All of the ones to me are small. I don’t think anyone likes me.” She said with disappointment.
“Baby, sometimes good things come in small packages.” He said reassuringly. “Everybody likes you and if they don’t, screw them. They’re not the ones dating you, I am.” He said kissing her neck, and then up to her ear where he whispered, “I love you and that’s all that matters to me.”
Turning around in his arms she kissed him soundly on the lips, allowing it to deepen a little. Hearing those words for the first time was like music to her ears. She loved him too and he knew it because she told him all the time, but to hear him finally say it was like being in heaven.

Everybody had congregated in the living room to look at the tree and drop off their presents under the tree. The Evans’ had conveniently forgot to bring the gifts for the Parkers and the Parkers had forgot to shop for the Evans’. The parents went into the kitchen or the dining room while the kids all stayed sitting around the tree. Maria watched as Kyle and Tess wandered away from the group after only 5 minutes, Alex and Isabel after 10, and finally Liz and Max after 15. That left her and Michael, alone, sitting in her living room trying to avoid looking at each other.
---
“Oh god Max...” Liz moaned as he attacked her neck. They had snuck off into Jim’s darkened study and stumbled to the couch to make out. She was about to moan out something else when they heard the door open, her father’s voice and froze. They tried to stop their ragged breathing and actually managed to. If Jeff Parker caught Max on top of his daughter, Liz was sure that he’d kill him. To her surprise her father wasn’t the only man in the room.

“I think the plan worked. Liz keeps asking me what we’re fighting about. She keeps saying that it’s important to her and that she needs to know.” Her father said.
“Max too. Pretty soon it’ll all be over.” Liz’s eyes grew wide as she realized that voice belonged to Phillip Evans.
“God I hope so. Nancy feels like she’s betraying Liz. She’s mad that she can’t tell Amy.”
“I know, Di is too. She keeps crying, saying she can’t take it anymore. She says she doesn’t even care if they end up together or not.”

They stayed and talked for a few more moments before someone left and then 5 minutes later the other left.
“Those sneaky underhanded bastards!” Max yelled as he jumped up from the couch.
“I should’ve known! How stupid am I?! God, it should’ve all clicked into place.” Liz said maneuvering herself into a sitting position and cradling her head in her hands.
Running his hand through his hair and sighing Max turned to her, “Don’t beat yourself up Liz, you didn’t know.”

“I saw them Max. I saw our mothers talking at the Charity Ball; Maria and I saw my parents outside of some greasy roadside cafe out in the middle of nowhere with your parents just the other day. Then of course there was that time when they said they were going to play racket ball with Amy and Jim but left their rackets in the closet. It all should’ve clicked together. How could I not have seen it?”

“You’re a smart girl Liz.” Max said pulling her to her feet and hugging her close to his body. “You suspected something, just like I did. We just didn’t want to believe that our parents would be so manipulative...we knew that they could be, but we didn’t want to believe that they would be.”

She nodded her head slightly and then rested it against his chest. “So what does this do to us?” She asked bringing her arms to circle around his waist.
“I’m not giving you up now that I have you. Well I mean I don’t want to.”
“I don’t either.” She said looking up at him before standing on her tip toes to give him a short kiss.

“So what are we gonna do?”
“I don’t know...I’m so mad right now that I could just go out there and kick our dads’ asses.”
A mischievous gleam sparkled in her eye and the smile soon followed. “Don’t get mad, Max. Get even.”
“What do you have in mind?”
“Just a little thing called revenge...”

posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:11:08 AM
Author’s Note: I want to thank SkySerpant for giving me this idea and LTL for expanding on it! I thought it wasn’t going to work out but then LTL and I had a talk about it and I got motivated and wanted to use it. So thank you! And by the way thank you to all the people who have been leaving me wonderful feedback! You guys are great!
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Part 9
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Max and Liz sat nervously holding hands across the table from their parents. They’d decided that the best way to give them the news was to do it infront of witnesses. After talking with Amy, Max and Liz were able to come up with the best punishment plan that they could possibly think of for their manipulative parents. They were going to shatter their parent’s dreams of their children leading the perfect lives.

According to Amy Jeff, Nancy, Diane and Phil had always had a mental picture of Max and Liz’s happy, perfect future. The first part they’d already managed to inadvertently shatter, but they were supposed to date all through high school. Next they were supposed to go off to whatever Ivy League school that they chose. Sometime around graduation or very soon after they were to marry, find fabulous jobs, a moderately sized house not too far from their parents, and then produce two beautiful children. That was perfect, that was how it should’ve been and should be.

“So what’s this meeting about kids?” Jeff asked with a secret smile. It was three days into the New Year, he’d come simply because Liz asked him too, and also because he and Nancy had “made up” with Phillip and Diane. He had a strong feeling that Max and Liz called the meeting to tell them that they were in love. He expected to hear “You were right and we were wrong. We’re sorry, we should’ve listened sooner.”

“Well daddy...um I don’t know how to say it but as you know Max and I have been seeing each other for a while now and I’m...well, I’m pregnant.” Liz watched as her mother’s drink was spewed forth from her mouth and Diane almost choked on a piece of bread. She was definitely surprised when Phillip slammed his hand down on the table, causing a few tables around them to look over at them, and even more surprised when he said rather loudly, “You’re WHAT?!”

“She is pregnant.” Max said calmly and slowly, as if it hadn’t sunk in the first time they’d heard it.

“How could you let this happen?! How could you both be so stupid?! Didn’t you use any protection?” Diane whispered in an angry voice. Unlike her husband she hadn’t forgotten about the rules of fighting in public.

“Don’t speak to us like we’re horny teenagers, we’re adults. We go to Ivy League schools for Christ’s sake! Of course we were safe and used protection.” Max whispered as he leaned in, trying to tell the parents that they weren’t stupid while at the same time trying to avoid being the topic of gossip.
“How far along are you Liz?” Jeff calmly asked his daughter.
“About 3 weeks.”
“Good, there’s still time. I’ll make an appointment for tomorrow.”

“You will not.” Max said firmly.
“I beg your pardon?”
“How dare you. She may be your daughter but you’ve got no right to be making appointments and trying to run her life like that. She’s an adult Jeff. She’s capable of making her own decisions and she’s keeping it.”
“Says who?” Jeff asked in an angry whisper.
“Says me!” Liz said slamming the fist that once held Max’s hand, down on the table. “You know you people are just greedy. We thought you’d be happy, here we are finally giving you what you’ve always wanted and you’re so un-fucking-grateful about it, it’s unbelievable!”

“Elizabeth Parker! Do not use that tone with us!” Her father said raising in his seat slightly, he half expected Liz to back down, but her face only got more determined and she stood up, knocking her chair over in the process.

“Sit down, you’re making a scene!” Phil said grabbing her arm and pulling her down to sit in her chair. “Liz, Max how do you plan on supporting this baby? Do you realize how hard it’s going to be going to school and trying to raise a baby? Do you expect us to pay for everything? Will Liz be transferring to Princeton?”

“We’ve actually thought about all of that dad, and we’ve decided that we’re going to drop out and get jobs.”

“Where will you live? What kind of jobs do you think you’ll get on a high school education? Almost every job that pays anything requires a degree of some sort now days.” Phillip asked, hoping beyond hope that using rational logic would bring them back to their senses.

“I’m going to go and apply to be a waitress at that road side cafe just out side of town, what’s it called again mom?” Liz asked casting an accusing look in her mother’s direction. “Max is going to apply for a manager’s position at the cheese factory in the next town over, and we’re going to get a trailer.”

“Oh no you will not! I will not have my daughter being white trash! You’ll live in that trailer park over my dead body young lady!” Nancy said leaning over the table and raising her voice.

“Mom, I don’t think you have a say really. I’ll live there if I want to and stop being so judgmental. Lots of people live in trailers and they aren’t considered white trailer park trash now are they?” Pausing to take in a deep breath she stood up from her chair and grabbed her coat and purse, “We don’t need you anyways. We’ll do it on our own without any of your money or help. We were planning on it anyways. Come on Max.”

He stood quickly and wordlessly not daring to look at their parents and followed her out of the restaurant. He was absolutely sure that they had attracted attention and that by tomorrow the town would be buzzing with gossip about Max Evans getting Liz Parker knocked up and their parents disowning them. Of course it was all completely untrue, but nobody but Liz, Max, Maria and Amy knew that.

Once inside the car Liz let out a strangled sob. “God, that was really intense.”
Max pulled her into an awkward embrace, and stroked her hair as she cried, “Yeah, I think we got a little carried away there.”
“I’ll say. I didn’t mean for it to go that far, but they started trying to control us and make our decisions for us again. The nerve of my father to tell me that he’ll make an appointment for me to have an abortion! That’s totally my decision, he has no right!” Liz said punching the dash with her fist. “Ow!”
---
Inside the restaurant Nancy and Diane excused themselves to go freshen up.
“I can’t believe this...it’s all our fault!” Nancy said placing her palms flat against the counter and leaning her weight on them. “We should’ve never gone through with this stupid plan!” She wiped a tear away from her eye furiously. Because of us, their lives are going to be ruined!”

“How can I call myself a good mother anymore?” Diane wailed. “We have to tell them.”
“Diane, what good will it do? The damage has already been done.” Nancy said dejectedly.
“I can’t look myself in the mirror every day if I don’t.”
---
Over the next week, Liz and Max stayed in a hotel room while they pretended to make all the necessary arrangements regarding school and their trailer. Their parents were complete wrecks, fighting amongst themselves. Wife against husband, friend against friend and for really no reasons in particular. Finally when Diane could take it no longer, she called her son and asked him to bring Liz by for dinner.
---
She ushered them in the house and into the living room where Jeff, Nancy, and Phillip all sat waiting. It was a little awkward at first and Max and Liz just stood there looking at their parents.

“Well, lets sit down to dinner shall we?” Diane asked pleasantly. It was almost as if she was pretending like nothing had ever happened.
“Where’s Isabel and my friends?” Max asked cautiously.
“Oh they’re out dear.” His mother replied in a cheery voice.

Dinner was ate in silence, and afterwards they sat there for 15 minutes with nobody saying anything.
“Well, it’s late and I need my rest.” Liz said standing up from the chair, “Diane thank you for-”
“Liz wait...I invited you and Max here because there’s something you guys should know.”
posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:12:04 AM
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Part 10
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Liz sat down slowly looking from Diane to her parents. She knew, or at least she hoped that she knew, what it was that Diane had to tell her. She waited for about 5 minutes and when Diane said nothing she started to get up again.
“As you know your parents and I have always wanted the best for you and Max.” Diane said, halting the young girl and bringing her back down in her seat. “We’ve always known that for Max you were the best, and for you he was the best. So I hope you’ll keep that in mind when I tell you that...the fight was staged.”

The silence seemed to go on forever as Diane watched her son and Liz for their reaction to the news. Surprisingly enough, they were calm. Max had this unreadable, but calm expression on his face and Liz; well she had a blank stare. They didn’t seem shocked or anything. Finally one of them spoke, “We already knew.”

This time it was Max and Liz watching for their parents reactions, and they were not surprised in the least to see the shock written all over their faces. “We’ve actually known since Christmas Eve.” Seeing the shock once again, and the confusion Liz decided to tell them how they found out.

“You see dad and Phil over here thought they were being really sneaky, sneaking into Jim’s study to discuss ‘the plan.’ However, Max and I were already in there, and we heard everything.” She explained with a tight, forced smile.

“You knew all this time and you said nothing?” Nancy asked with a pained expression on her face.
“Oh please mom. Don’t act like you’re the victim here. Max and I are the ones that have been manipulated and lied to.”
Jeff spoke up in defense of his wife and their plan, “Which was for your own good.”
“What kind of parents manipulate their children and then try to pass it off as something done for their well being?” Liz asked, her voice rising in anger.

“So now we’re bad parents? Is that what you’re saying?” Jeff asked leaning over the table, prepared to argue that subject like he was in a courtroom.
“Now hold on. Nobody said that.” Max interjected. “Liz is just saying that we’re extremely hurt by your manipulation. She’s just saying that you didn’t do this for us, you did it for you.”

“Did you get pregnant just to teach us a lesson Liz? You know, for revenge?” Jeff asked with contempt.
Liz was fully prepared to play this game with her father, she would drag out the pregnancy issue for as long as she had to, “No I didn’t.”
Unfortunately for Liz, Max was not prepared to go the distance as she was. “We made that up, to get back at you. Liz isn’t pregnant.”

Relief flooded through the parents for a brief moment before they started in on their children. “How could you do something like that? How could you make something like that up, just to get back at us? I’m so disappointed in you two.” Diane said picking up her plate and rising from her chair.

“Disappointed in us?!” Max yelled, standing up. “YOU are disappointed in US?! I don’t think so. If anybody at this table has the RIGHT to be disappointed in anyone is Liz and me. We’ve got the right to be disappointed in you! Not the other way around mother. Now you know how it feels to have the shoe on the other foot don’t you. You can be the manipulator, no sweat but you just can’t stand to be the one getting manipulated can you mom?”

The words he bit out where harsh and bitter sounding, they made Diane falter. Dropping her plate onto the table with a small thud and then dropping her self into her chair where she sat holding her hand to her chest and staring up at her son. He’d never in all his life talked to her like that.

“You know you people are real pieces of work you know that? All our lives you try to control us, you even go so far as to manipulate us to get your stupid way and then when you’re given a taste of your own medicine...you all need therapy.” Max said as he grabbed Liz’s hand and pulled her up from her chair. Before walking out of the dining room, he called out a harsh and final sounding goodbye, leaving both sets of parents stunned.

“God can you believe them?!” Max asked, completely shocked as he slammed his door shut and angrily started the car.
“You know Max, it’s generally my job to get all worked up and angry. You know the good cop, bad cop thing. You’re the good cop. You don’t explode in a fury of anger.” Liz said with an amused smile on her face.
He looked at her and his angry face instantly softened; he even managed a smile. “Sorry.”
---
After the dinner, Max and Liz had just aimlessly drove around while they talked about what they should do. They had decided that they would leave early. Max didn’t know what Michael would want to do, or what Alex would want to do but he’d decided that he wasn’t going to stay in the town another minute. Unless of course the Parkers’ and his parents came crawling on their hands and knees to beg for his forgiveness. However, seeing as how that didn’t look too likely, Max decided that he would leave.

Liz had decided that she would leave as well. She didn’t think that she could spend one more night in her parents’ house. She was upset that she would miss out on the rest of the time they had to share with their friends but there wasn’t anything she could do about it. Her parents were practically forcing her to leave. She told Max that he could come and stay with her in her dorm room for the remaining time that they had left.

After everything had been decided, Max took Liz to her house and waited outside as she packed up her suitcases. Her parents, who had driven themselves home shortly after Max stormed out of the Evans house with Liz, stood in the entryway and watched as she carried her suit cases downstairs and out the door with out so much as a backward glance or a goodbye. It was very much the same way when Max picked up his things. Except, Michael walked down the stairs after him, carrying his bags.

Michael had decided that he was just going to leave early too. He said that he would just feel too weird staying in Max’s house when Max wasn’t there. Alex on the other hand, was now openly dating Isabel so he was definitely going to stay. On his way out Michael thanked Phil and Diane for letting him stay in their house and then said goodbye to Alex and Isabel. Max gave Isabel a hug and told Alex goodbye before turning around and ignoring his parents completely.

posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:13:01 AM
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Part 11
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When they arrived at the airport, they checked their bags and had to wait around for their delayed flight. An hour passed by with Michael impatiently waiting next to Max and Liz before they were told that their flight had been canceled due to snow grounding the flight in Chicago where it had a layover.

“Well, I guess we can go stay at Maria’s and then catch the next flight out tomorrow.” Max said, running his hand through his hair and sighing. “I really wanted to get out of here though.”
“Maria’s is fine. We’ll just leave tomorrow.” Liz said as she grabbed his hands. After retrieving their bags they drove over to Maria’s house.
---
“Damn it.” Maria mumbled after hearing the doorbell. Everyone was always interrupting her “me time.” Kyle took Tess out for dinner and dancing earlier and wouldn’t be home till late, her parents had gone over to Nancy’s house because they were having some crisis. That left Maria with the house all to herself for some much needed alone time.

She’d already started giving herself a facial and when the doorbell rang she was just sitting on the couch, eating some potato chips and watching some TV. She thought about ignoring whoever was at the door but when it rang again and again she knew she couldn’t. “All right I’m coming. Hold your freakin horses!”

“This better be good...” She said as she opened the door. Immediately she was met with the smiling faces of Max, Liz and right behind them a smirking Michael. A quick glance down told her that they had their bags sitting beside their feet. “Oh man! This is supposed to be alone time. You know time for me. Maria time.”

“Come on Maria, we need a place to stay.” Liz said picking up her bag and pushing inside the house.
“You have a place to stay. It’s called Casa De Parker.” She said turning around to face her best friend.
“Whatever happened to mi casa es su casa?”
“Mi casa es mi casa. Su Casa is su Casa. So go stay there my friends. I’m doing the alone thing tonight.” Maria said grabbing onto Liz’s arm and pulling her to the door where Max and Michael still stood waiting.
“Maria, come on. We aren’t speaking to our parents. They faked the fight just to get Max and me together. We really need a place to stay.”
Maria looked from face to face before sighing and throwing the door open wider as a gesture of invitation. “Fine, fine but you owe me which means I want details. Come in.”

An hour after Max, Liz and Michael arrived, Amy and Jim returned home. They stormed into the kitchen where they found Michael, Maria, Max and Liz all sitting around the table talking.
“We need to talk kids.” Jim said taking off his coat and laying it over the back of a chair.
“What about daddy?” Maria asked innocently. She just knew that he was going to find out about that scratch she accidently put in his car the other day.

“Maria sweetie, why don’t you and Michael go watch some TV. Your dad and I have to talk to Max and Liz alone.” Amy said kissing the top of her daughter’s head as she gently pushed her out of the chair and toward the living room.
“Um...ok. Come on Michael.” Maria said in puzzlement. As soon as Michael and Maria walked out of the kitchen she pulled him to the side and against the wall.
“What are we doing?” He whispered to her.
She removed her ear from the wall and turned her head to look at him. “What does it look like we’re doing? God and you got a scholarship to Princeton? How did you manage that one genius?”

Before he had the chance to reply she turned her head back around and pressed her ear to the wall. “Now be quiet. I can’t hear with you talking.” She whispered.
---
“Jeff, Nancy, Diane and Phil are just heartbroken about what happened.” Amy explained.
Liz scoffed at their remark and rolled her eyes, “Oh yes I’m sure that they genuinely are.” She crossed her arms before looking at them, “Our parents are quiet the actors aren’t they?”

“Now, now. I know what they did was wrong but they’re really hurt over the way you two reacted.” Jim explained. “I think you should forgive them.”
“Yeah ok Jim.” Max said seriously. Liz’s head whipped around but before she had the chance to say anything Max continued. “You just tell mom and dad that all they’ve got to do is crawl on their hands and knees begging for it and I’ll give them my forgiveness.”

“Now that’s not fair Max. They made a mistake-”
“Which they don’t regret and won’t apologize for.” Liz added interrupting Jim. “Did they tell you that they yelled at us for the whole pregnancy scam?” She asked. “Oh yeah they did. They acted like they were the ones who got manipulated, like they had a right to be upset. They said that THEY were disappointed in US! If you can believe that.”

“Well, no they didn’t tell us that but-”
“But nothing Amy.” Max said interrupting her. “We’re not forgiving them unless they come to us begging. That’s the end of the discussion. Oh and some therapy might be useful for them too.” Max said standing up and exiting to the living room. Liz sat there for a brief moment, looking from Jim to Amy and then to the doorway before standing up and replying a quick but definitive, “Yeah.”
posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:13:49 AM
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Part 12
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The next morning Max got up and called the airlines. He arranged for one ticket to Jersey and two to Boston before hanging up the phone and throwing on some clothes from his bag. As soon as he was dressed, he headed toward the house, across the back yard seeing as how he was staying in the guest house. The second he stepped foot in the house he wished he hadn’t. His father’s voice could be heard drifting through the house. He should’ve known that something like this would happen. Jim and Amy had called his parents and invited them over for “breakfast.” There wasn’t any doubt in his mind that Jeff and Nancy Parker were there, or would be arriving any second if they weren’t.

“Oh Max darling. Look who decided to drop by.” Maria said with a smile as she came out of the kitchen and loosely holding onto Phil’s arm. Her smile got a little bigger when he openly glared at her.
“Where’s Liz?” He asked, shifting his weight to his other foot.
Maria looked around before waving off the question, “She’s around.” She eyed him for a second before dropping Phil’s arm. “Come with me Max. We need to talk.”

On her way up the stairs Maria encountered Liz coming down them, on her way to the living room, from the bathroom. Without a moment of hesitation or a second thought, Maria grabbed her arm and pulled her up the stairs too. She quickly ushered them into her bedroom and then shut the door after entering.

“Don’t you guys think that this has gone on long enough?” She asked putting her hands on her hips and looking at them. “There’s been fake fighting, real fighting, and just a whole bunch of stupidity this whole entire time we’ve been here. Enough is enough.”

“Whose side are you on Maria? Theirs?” Liz asked as she stood up from Maria’s bed and crossed her arms. “You’re supposed to be my best friend not theirs, you traitor.”
“Liz? Shut up.” She sighed before gesturing to her bed, indicating that she wanted Liz to sit. When Liz didn’t, she gave her a look and gestured again. When Liz finally sat down Maria started with her lecture, “All I’m saying is that enough is enough. Yes, what they did, was wrong and they should apologize but at least you guys are together right? I mean if they hadn’t done this you two would probably end up married to real losers.”

“Yeah but-”
“But nothing Liz. It may have been wrong, and maybe it was a little selfish of them, but they saw something between you two that you couldn’t see.” Maria explained. “They did it for you guys and for themselves. It was a win-win situation.”

“They want you to come crawling and begging for their forgiveness.” Amy said as she poured coffee into her cup and added some creme and sugar.
“Figures they would.” Diane sighed, pouring herself some juice. “Well, I’m prepared to do that.”
Nancy looked at her as if she’d grown a second head. “Di, they manipulated us too. With that whole baby thing. I’ll only apologize to them if they apologize to us.” She said before taking a sip of her tea. “And at least they’re together now. They should be thanking us for finally helping them to realize their true feelings for each other.”

“You know...” Amy sighed turning the page of the newspaper laying in front of her. “I bet if you guys wouldn’t have pushed so hard, it would’ve happened naturally. A lot sooner than it did. That’s always been my theory. Remember when we had all the kids in one room when they were babies and learning how to crawl or walk? Maria and Kyle crawled to each other, Isabel crawled to me and Max walked over to Liz who decided to crawl over and meet him half way.”

She decided to remain silent and let them think over what she’d just said, so she turned her eyes from her friends and down to her paper. “Oh it’s going to be warmer today.” She said reading the weather section.

Max and Liz came down the stairs with Maria trailing behind. She’d finally managed to talk some sense into them. They were going to put an end to this whole stupid fight. Their parents would be happy, they would be happy and everyone else wouldn’t have to hear about it anymore, thus making everyone else happy.

They called their parents into the living room and sat them down. Liz was hoping that this wouldn’t turn into the whole baby fight all over again.
“What’s this all about?” Jeff asked sitting on the couch and crossing his arms over his chest. “I have to get to the restaurant soon, so lets make this quick.”

Liz rolled her eyes and briefly thought about calling this forgiving and forgetting crap off but decided against it and pressed on. Grabbing Max’s hand for morale support she gave it a little squeeze. “Max and I have decided that we’re forgiving you.”

“What you did was still wrong.” Max added. “But Liz and I are together now and that’s all that matters. So we’re willing to forget about it.”
“Yeah but I’d still like an apology. And a promise that you’re never going to do anything like this ever again. It really hurt my feelings. I’m an adult and you can’t control my life by manipulating me into doing something that you want me to.” Liz added sadly.

Nancy’s heart almost broke with the tone of voice that her daughter expressed her hurt in. She wasn’t going to give in and forgive them for their manipulation until that very moment. Pushing herself up from her seat she crossed to the center of the room where Liz stood and hugged her. “I’m sorry Liz, I thought it was for the best. I promise I won’t use manipulation like that ever again.”

They hugged each other and cried a little bit, while Diane did the same thing with Max. Although she cried and he didn’t. That just left Phil and Jeff sitting on the couch looking at their children and their wives. Liz was looking at her dad with a mixture of hope and expectation on her face. Finally Jeff got up and crossed the room to hug her. He never said he was sorry, because he wasn’t. He did say that he was sorry her feelings got hurt and he promised that he wouldn’t interfere in her love life again. That was enough for Liz. Phil got up from the couch and hugged both Max and Liz and apologized to both of them. He also promised that he wouldn’t interfere either. So long as they made the right choices. Which earned him a playful, but warning smack from Liz.

posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:14:45 AM
Author’s Note: This part is really crappy but like I said, I had to type it up all from memory. I didn’t write it down on paper. Tell me what you think.
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Part 13
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The next few weeks went by slowly for Max and Liz. They spent every waking minute with their parents. They went out to dinners. They played tennis and golf. They were dragged to the theater and to the ballet. Not that they didn’t enjoy it, but they would’ve enjoyed it so much more had they been allowed to do everything by themselves. Instead their parents would tag along, or drag one of them away from the other for a little while.

Max would be drug off to play golf with Jeff and Phil and then afterwards he’d be drug off to sit in either Jeff’s study or Phil’s study to smoke cigars. Reluctantly taking a puff of the cigar, Max relaxed on the couch. He was just beginning to enjoy himself when he caught Jeff staring at him.
“So Max, what are your plans for marriage?” He asked taking a puff of his cigar.
Max almost choked on the smoke he’d inhaled when he’d heard that question, “Um...I don’t know...I really hadn’t given it any thought.”
“So you don’t intend to marry my daughter then?” Jeff asked eyeing Max.
“Um...we hadn’t talked about it or anything...”

Just as Jeff was about to say something, Phil gently slapped his son on the back and laughed, “Well, that’s ok son. You just go at your own pace. You marry her, that’s great. You don’t, whatever.” He said with a reassuring smile. After hearing his son’s sigh of relief he cast Jeff a disapproving look. Although he secretly hoped that Max and Liz would get married, they’d promised their children that they wouldn’t interfere and the last thing Max needed was Jeff pressuring him to marry Liz. That would definitely push thoughts of marriage right out of the window. Jeff shrugged after receiving the disapproving look and then got up to pour himself some scotch.
---
While Max had been dragged off to play golf, Liz had been taken hostage for some female bonding. Liz trailed behind her mother and Diane as they walked past the stores with bags in their hands. She’d never realized how boring her mother’s life was. Now she understood why they did what they did to her and Max. They did it out of sheer boredom. They had nothing better to do so they occupied their time coming up with schemes and plans. It wasn’t that they were unhappy with their lives, in fact it seemed to Liz that they were quite content. It was just that it seemed like they filled their days doing the same thing over and over again. Sometimes they’d go to the club to play tennis. Sometimes they would play golf with their husbands or just each other, sometimes Amy would join them. Sometimes they helped their husbands out at work. Nancy at Jeffery’s, the restaurant that Jeff owned and Diane at Phil’s law office. Most of the time they spent their time sitting at home, sipping tea and swapping recipes. The rest of that time was spent walking around town, or in the mall or in the mall in the next town over shopping and discussing linens and things that their husbands would like.

To Liz that just seemed like such a boring life. She’d decided that day that she was not going to be a house wife. Max would have his job and she would have her job. When they got married, she thought to herself, she was still going to be somewhat independent, like Amy. She’d lived the life that Diane and Nancy were living, once, but then Maria’s real dad had left and Amy was forced to go out and get a job. She liked the sense of responsibility and purpose that having a job gave her so after she married Jim, she kept that job and then eventually opened up her own store. That’s what Liz wanted to be. Independent.

“Liz, honey what’s wrong?” Nancy asked her daughter, startling her out of her thoughts.
Liz gave her mother a puzzled look before asking, “Hmm?”
“You were just standing there. Are you ok?”
“Oh...yeah mom I’m fine.” Liz said, smiling sweetly at her mom. When she realized that she’d just been thinking of being married to Max she’d stopped in her tracks. They’d just started dating, they were trying to take it slow and there she was thinking about marriage! She couldn’t believe herself!

posted on 12-Dec-2001 5:16:10 AM
Author's Note: Ok, so I lied a little bit. I have a new part for you right now!
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Part 14
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Liz stood on the Valenti’s deck, smiling at various people whom she didn’t even know and watching the interaction. Her dress gently fluttered in the light spring breeze. It had been an absolutely beautiful day, a perfect day for a wedding, she thought to herself. It had been such a happy day, for everyone.

She smiled to herself as she heard the faint voices of Michael and Maria arguing with one another from all the way across the yard. Apparently Michael was trying to get the DJ to play a little Metallica, which Maria would absolutely not have. Turning around she leaned on the rail and looked out over the yard, full of people and found them with her eyes. She smiled to herself, knowing exactly where they were headed in their relationship. The Parker/Evans/Valenti family would be putting on another wedding shortly. Although the bride and groom to be were unaware of the fact.

A warm hand on her shoulder sent an electric current through her, making her stand up straight and turn around. She smiled at Max and took the champaign glass from his hand. “Thank you.” She said kissing him on the cheek.
“Have I told you how beautiful you look today?” He asked her, wrapping his arm around her waist before sipping some of his champaign.
Smiling, she leaned her head on his shoulder, “About a million times, but one more time won’t hurt.”
“You’re absolutely stunning.” He said kissing her forehead before resting his cheek on the top of her head. “I’d even go so far as to say, breath taking. If I were Isabel, I would have thrown you out already. You’re out doing the bride.”

Liz laughed and poked him in the side. “Please, your sister makes a beautiful bride. Look at that dress!”
Catching her hand in his, he brought it up to his lips and kissed her wedding band. “She’s not as beautiful as you are. You were a beautiful bride.”
Smiling, she looked down at the wooden planks of the deck. She was completely amazed that after three years of marriage he could still make her blush with a simple compliment.

They’d gotten married not long after that day that Liz was shopping with her mother and Diane. They’d been out one day, aimlessly driving around and when they stopped they’d found themselves in Las Vegas. It’d been a spur of the moment, impulsive thing to do. Max had no intention of taking her to Vegas, but that’s where they’d ended up just the same. They hadn’t planned on stopping in front of the Elvish Chapel, and when they found themselves there, they’d been surprised. It hadn’t been terribly romantic, being married by an Elvis impersonator, but they’d had no regrets about it later. They’d managed to yet again, disappoint their parents, but Max and Liz couldn’t have cared less.

They’d come home for the holidays single and not looking for love, and when they left to go back to school, they were married and deeply in love with each other. It’d been quite a shock to Liz’s friends, and especially to her room mate, when Liz had packed up her things and got herself an apartment. Max had gone back to Princeton to finish the semester before transferring to Harvard to be with her.

Michael and Maria had fought all during Christmas break, had a long distance relationship for a little while afterwards and then broke up after being together for only two months. They apparently hadn’t spoken to each other in years, and when they arrived back in town for Isabel’s wedding they’d quickly jumped right back into old habits. Fighting with each other the whole time. But it was obvious that they cared for one another, and would probably have another go at a relationship, which would most likely work out this time. Liz knew, if they didn’t marry, they’d probably live together in sin for the rest of their lives. Which was fine by her. Because oddly enough, even when Maria was fighting with Michael, she was happy.

Kyle had asked Tess to marry him about a year after Max and Liz had taken the plunge. They’d been married in a huge church, with all their friends from college there and all their family. Tess had asked Maria, Liz and surprisingly enough, even Isabel to be brides’ maids. Max had been Kyle’s best man, and he’d even asked Michael and Alex to be in the wedding seeing as how he’d formed close friendships with the both of them. He’d become a father the year after that, giving life to Benjamin James Valenti.

Isabel and Alex went back to their separate colleges after break, visiting each other whenever they got the chance, seeing as how they were right across the river from each other. What with Alex being in Jersey, attending Princeton and Isabel being in New York attending NYU. Soon however, Alex was in need of more, and he asked Isabel if he were to transfer to NYU and get an apartment, if she’d move in with him. She’d accepted, and then a few months later, he’d asked her to marry him. She wanted the ceremony to be held in her favorite back yard, during the spring, and so it was.

“Ben makes a cute little ring bearer, doesn’t he?” Liz asked, watching the two-year-old bob up and down on the dance floor.
Max followed her gaze to the little boy with sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. “He certainly does.”
“You know we’ve never talked about that?” She asked still looking down at Ben with a longing gaze.
“About what?” He asked unconsciously tightening his grip around her waist. “Having kids?”
“Yeah.” After a long pause she turned her head toward him. “How would you feel about that?”
He looked down at the bouncing two year old, who was giggling and happily dancing with his mother now, with a thoughtful expression. “I think...I’d like one. You’d make a great mom.”
She smiled. One of her 100-watt smiles before turning back to watch Ben and Tess dance. “That’s good.” She said removing his hand from her waist and interlacing her fingers with his, “Because we’re having one.”

She let a little giggle escape her lips when he heaved forward and spit out his champaign, turning to look at her with wide eyes. “You mean like...we’re HAVING one? As in...you’re pregnant?”
She nodded her head, smiling up at him. “I wanted to tell you when I found out, but...I guess I wanted to surprise you.”
“Mission accomplished.” He said quietly as he bent his head to touch his lips to hers.

The End!

Let me guess, you all thought it was Liz and Max’s wedding day didn’t you? Well, I hope you all enjoyed the ride. Sorry it took me forever to get parts out, I know how irritating that is when you’re feelin a fic and new parts are few and far between.


posted on 20-Nov-2002 11:13:25 PM
Oh stop, you guys are making me blush! *giggle* But yeah, I'm glad that you all enjoyed it. *big*