posted on 6-Sep-2001 1:40:50 PM
Tonight and the Rest of Our Lives

Author: Jezebel (imfromupnorth⊕yahoo.com)
Rating: Uh, you must know what I write by now.
Summary: Another AU fic by yours truly--these are so fun to write. Liz
and Max realize that sometimes one night can mean forever.
Disclaimer: I don't own Liz. I don't own Max. I don't even own Riverdog,
for God's sake! Get off my back!
Distribution: Anywhere, just let me know.


Down to the Earth I fell
With dripping wings
Heavy things won't fly
And the sky might catch on fire
And burn the axis of the world, that's why
I prefer a sunless sky to the glittering and stinging in my eyes

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life

Gleaming in the dark sea, I'm as light as air
Floating there breathlessly
When the dream dissolves I open up my eyes
I realize that everything is shoreless sea
Weightlessness is passing over me

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life
Tonight and the rest of my life

Everything is waves and stars
The universe is resting in my arms
I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life
Tonight and the rest of my life





"Really," Liz protested halfheartedly. "I don't want to go."

Her best friend and roommate raised an eyebrow. "Elizabeth Parker, you are
celebrating your twenty-first birthday with me at someplace that actually
requires ID. So don't give me any of your crap. I know you really want to."

Liz groaned a little. "Finals start tomorrow, Maria. I don't know."

She shrugged airily, pondering the tops in Liz's closet before finally selecting
one that pleased her. "Are you ever going to turn twenty-one again?"

"No," Liz admitted.

Maria whirled around, pulling a red sweater over her head. "Then it's settled.
Let's go."

****

Max cursed as he entered the smoky bar, the lights inside flashing in his eyes.
"Shit, Michael. I really don't want to do this."

His coworker smirked. "You take a cab back to the motel. Really, I'll drive
myself. I've got the keys."

The thought of leaving Michael, likely drunk as a fish, to drive their rented
car home didn't appeal to Max at all. "I'll stay. But don't drink too much.
You know perfectly well what happens when we drink too much."

"See, that's the benefit of these trips," Michael said, as though explaining
to a child. "No one knows us here. They'll just think we're stinking ass
drunk."

Max squinted, looking around. There seemed to be a definite lack of seating
and a lot of people were standing around, talking and dancing a little to the
loud music that pumped from the speakers. The strobes flashed, reminding him
more of a college club than a regular bar. And from the age range of most
of the people here, that's just what this was.

"ID?" a gruff voice near his ear said.

"Oh, right," Max said, pulling out his wallet. Michael already had his ready
and flashed it at the bouncer. He nodded them both through.

Max and Michael were both twenty-five, and they had grown up together, sharing
a common secret. They had stayed together at college, and gone to work at the
same up-and-coming Silicon Valley company. This, however, was their first
business trip together. Almost half the company had flown to Raleigh for the
conference by the "teamwork guru," Samuel Somers. After a full day of excruciatingly
boring "teamwork exercises" Michael had declared himself ready to party and headed
to the nearest club. Max didn't want to go, but Michael had managed to drag him along.

Max scanned the whole badly lit area for an empty table or barstool. He could
find none. He stood for a few minutes, waiting for someone to get up and leave.
No one moved.

"Shit," Max mumbled to himself. "I hate these clubs."

He rested a hand on the speaker nearest his head, looking as innocent as possible.
He looked away as the volume coming from that particular speaker soared almost to
an unbearable level. The people at the table closest to the speaker looked back
in irritation before getting up and moving. Max mentally clapped himself on the
back and let the volume fade as he settled into the cushiony seats...

Just as a petite brunette collapsed into the seat across from him. At first she
didn't even seem to notice him, and then she looked up and said, "Oh, shit, I'm
sorry. Do you want me to move?"

Max gaped. Move? Did he want her to move? Sitting before him was the most
beautiful creature he had ever seen. Her skin was like porcelain and her hair
hung over her face like a mahogany curtain. He was even taken with the old scar
across her brow, making her perfect features a little more unique.

She reached forward and for a second Max thought she was going to touch his hand,
which was lying on the sticky table. Instead, she brushed her shimmering dark
hair out of her eyes. "Uh, uh, no," he stammered, feeling tongue-tied around a
girl for the first time in his life. This particular girl looked to be a few years
younger than he--probably a college student, he told himself, and too young for
him. "You're fine."

She smiled. "Thanks. I thought I would never find a seat in this place."

Max's brain finally started to kick in. "Yeah, it's a little crowded, isn't it?"

She put her hand up in the air with her thumb and forefinger spread just a
fraction of an inch apart. "Just a little."

"So, uh, what's your name?"

She smiled, flashing beautiful white teeth for the second time. Internally
Max thanked whatever dentist had been responsible for those teeth. "Liz.
What's yours?"

"Max. You aren't from around here."

"And you're a little nosy," she pointed out. "But you're right, I'm not.
I just go to school here. And neither are you, from the sound of your
accent. Out west, maybe?"

He nodded his assent. "So do you want something to drink?"

She laughed a little. "Sure. Why not?"

Max motioned to a waiter. "She'll have a..."

"Tequila, straight up," Liz supplied.

"And for you?"

"I'll just have water, thanks," Max said. Liz frowned at him, and he
realized what it looked like. But he couldn't drink anything. His
inhibitions would all go straight down the drain after just a few sips. He
looked at Michael, flirting with several girls at the bar, including a
striking little blond with pixie-cut hair and a red sweater. He hoped to
God that Michael wouldn't drink anything.

****

Two hours later, Max was drunker than he'd ever been in his life. He'd only
had one beer, but it had served to make the whole world spin around behind Liz.
He had long ago lost track of Michael and the little blond, and he didn't care.
He had to resist the urge to giggle.

He also had to resist some other urges. Liz had loosened up considerably with
a few shots of straight tequila in her and had been confiding in him about some
of her first sexual experiences. He was becoming highly uncomfortable.

She was giggling as she told one story. "So we went back to his house-"

"His parents weren't there?"

"No, they were," Liz said, dissolving in helpless giggles. She gasped
for a moment, and then said, "We tried to sneak up the stairs, real quiet, but
we must've woke up his dad. We were just starting to-you know-when his dad
burst in on us. I've never seen a guy look so scared," she said, nearly howling
at the memory. "Then he...then he..." she put her face in her arms, laughing so
hard she could barely breathe.

"What?" Max asked. "What happened?"

Liz looked up, no longer laughing. Her eyes were dark. "Listen, do you want to
get out of here?"

Max was thunderstruck. "What do you mean?"

She smiled, her eyes glinting in the dim lights. "You know what I mean. So do
you want to?"

****

Liz slid the electronic keycard smoothly into its slot, her movements not betraying
at all how drunk she was. She was even nervous, but she wanted this. She wanted
it worse than she had wanted anything in her life. She just wanted to forget about
her stressful life for right now and spend one night with this unbelievably sweet
and adorable guy, who most likely she would never see again. She didn't know why...it
was so unlike her. Undoubtedly everyone she knew would be shocked and upset. But
right now she didn't care.

She turned around, wrapping her arms around Max and pulling him through the door
to his hotel room. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him, tasting the alcohol
on his lips. He stumbled a little, using her for balance. He seemed even drunker
than she was, though she hadn't seen him drink any more than one or two beers. He
kissed her harshly, his lips scraping against hers. They finally made it through
the doorway, and Max kicked the door shut behind them.

He reached for the bottom of her shirt. She lifted her arms and he pulled it over
her head. His hands moved next to the snap at the back of her bra, and, to her
amazement, he didn't seem to have any trouble with it. Her bra came open and he
lifted it gently off her breasts. She could hear him suck in his breath in awe,
as though he'd never seen any before.

Max lowered his head and sucked gently on her nipple, and she moaned at the sensations
that coursed through her. She pushed down on the back of his head, urging him to suck
harder. He obeyed, his tongue swirling over the soft flesh. Gradually he moved lower,
kissing his way down to the top of her skirt. He looked up at her and grinned, then
pushed up her skirt and ducked beneath it.

Liz groaned as he yanked her panties and nylons down. She lifted up her feet to help
him complete the process. Then she felt the soft warmth as he began to taste her. She
moaned, barely able to catch her breath. He slid one finger inside of her, and then
another, and began to pump vigorously. She tried not to pump her hips but was unable
as she fell into rhythm.

"Please...Max...please," she whispered, shivering at the sensations coursing through her.

He appeared again from under her skirt, standing up next to her. Liz slowly realized that
he was still fully clothed. She reached for the button of his slacks just as he reached
for his sweater, and together they undressed him.

Liz looked down and sucked in a breath. Was this really what she wanted? Did she...and then
all thought faded again as he kissed her. She could taste herself on his lips.

Max lifted her easily and set her against the door, obviously not willing to wait long
enough to make it to the bed. Without any pretense he slid inside her as her legs wrapped
around him. Liz hoped there was no one outside. Every time Max thrust into her, there
was a loud BANG. Her fingernails dug into his back as he moved faster and faster, his breath
coming harder and harder. Her muscles tensed and she could feel herself about to come. Max
looked up and saw it, and reached down. He flicked her clit lightly with his thumb and it was
all it took for Liz to simply fly away. She vaguely felt him explode inside of her,
and then ease her to the ground.

They managed to make it to the bed before falling asleep in each other's arms.

****

Liz awakened the next morning, shivering in the winter chill. She realized
the window was open, and faintly remembered Max opening it in the middle of
the night. Then she looked around.

Max was gone. Liz moaned, her head falling into her hands. How could he
have just left? How could this have happened? What had she been thinking?
He must not have been the kind of man she thought he was.

She never noticed the note, written on a napkin, that had blown under the
bed in the gentle breeze from the window.


Tonight and the Rest of Our Lives, Part 2


Max relaxed on the plane. The seat next to him was still empty, while the
others around him were filled with men in suits, most of whom had been at
the conference yesterday. This plane was full; it wasn't about to wait for
one person. "Michael, where the hell are you..." he muttered under his breath.

The man behind him leaned over his seat, a smirk marring his handsome face.
"So where's Guerin? Held up at the latest whorehouse?"

Max spun around, grasping his coworker by the throat, his bloodshot eyes
showing his rage. "None of your goddamn business, *Valenti*," he growled.

Valenti sank back into his seat, rubbing his neck. "Jesus, Evans, calm down.
It isn't my fault he's held up with some girl everywhere we go."

Max tried to settle back, but his clenched hands revealed his tension. He had
no idea where Michael was. And to add to that, he hadn't exactly had the best
morning. He had awakened next to a beautiful woman he only vaguely remembered
meeting. Not wanting to wake her, and having no desire to be embarassed by his
lack of memories, he left her a note, ordered some flowers for her and crept
out the door.

Now he felt like a coward. What would she think of him after awaking to find him
gone?

He burst out of his bubble of thought as Michael sat heavily next to him, huffing
and puffing from exertion. Sunglasses covered what Max assumed were eyes as red
as his own.

To his great surprise, Michael flipped the glasses back onto his head and grinned.
"Raleigh, North Carolina. I love this town."

His eyes weren't bloodshot at all.

****

Slowly but steadily, she rose from the bed and began gathering up her clothes. They
had been neatly gathered into a pile and placed on the stiff-looking chair in the
corner of the bedroom. She smiled faintly, recalling that they had been scattered
across the floor only hours before. When had Max left? And how had he managed to
do it without waking her? And he'd been even drunker than she was... she moaned
and rubbed her head. She had a terrible hangover already.

In addition to that, she was sore and sticky from last night. Suddenly it didn't
seem like such a good idea to just put her clothes back on.

She walked into the bathroom. It smelled like him. So he had taken a shower...she
laughed at herself suddenly, realizing that she was acting like last night had been
something it hadn't. It had been a one-night stand, and that was all. She just had
to remember that, and forget about how amazing it had been, and how safe she had felt,
lying in his arms.

****

Liz walked into her dorm room, vaguely expecting a chewing-out from Maria. But Maria
wasn't there either, and Liz thanked whatever gods were watching over her. With the
headache she had, the last thing she needed was a high-pitched lecture.

She looked at her single bed, then at the clock. Her eyes widened as she realized
that her first exam was going to start in less than a minute.

She bolted back out the door, running faster than she'd ever run in her life.

****

"So, Liz..."

Liz groaned to herself, knowing she'd had it now. Maria was home. The girl sat in
the blinding sunlight coming in through the windows, seemingly immune to the brightness.
Her shiny blond hair shone in the light. She didn't seem particularly stressed out,
at odds with just about every other person Liz had seen in the last hour.

"Where were you last night? I mean, I know where I was..."

"Let me guess," Liz said, putting a hand over her eyes to block the sun through the
window. "With that guy, the one I saw you with at the bar."

Maria grinned. "Damned straight, Lizzie, but at least I came home in time to make
it to exams. Now where were you?"

Liz mumbled the truth under her breath. No human could possibly have understood
it, but Maria stood up and shrieked. "You were with that hottie! Sweet, innocent
Liz Parker got it on with some stranger from a bar!"

"It wasn't like that, Maria."

"Oh, I know what it was like," Maria drawled, in the Southern accent she could
adapt whenever it suited her. "It was like, 'Oh, you're so hot! I'm so drunk!
Let's fuck like bunnies!'"

"Not funny, Maria," Liz said softly, walking over to sit at her desk.

Maria softened instantly. "I'm sorry, babe. I got a little carried away. So
was he any good?"

Liz grinned while looking at the floor, feeling sheepish.

"I'll take that as a yes!"

"What about your guy? The blond?"

Maria whistled. "Damn. I have never been kissed like that in my life. That man
could do things with his tongue - "

Liz groaned. "Too much information, Maria!"

****

The maid padded gently into the empty motel room. She wrinkled her nose at the
smell of sex and alcohol that permeated the air. She had thought that after six
months at this job, she be used to it, but she could never adjust.

She wanted to vacuum first, so she lifted the bedspread off the carpet. As she
did she revealed a plain white napkin. Cursing at having to bend over again, she
leaned down to pick it up. She was about to toss it when she realized the back
side was covered in writing. Unable to resist, she began to read it.

Dear Liz,
I know that you may think last night was a mistake, a one-time event
between strangers. But I want you to know that I don't, and I will
never think of it that way. Even if our memories are fuzzy, we know
we had something, because this morning, while I watched you sleep,
I felt more complete than I have in years. I felt whole again. Now
I have to leave in order to make my flight, but I don't want to.
More than anything I want to stay here with you when you wake up, but
I can't wake you. You're much too beautiful as you sleep.

Max Evans

4569 Parkway Dr.
San Jose, CA
94578
(787)555-4829


The maid grinned and whistled. "Wow, honey, whoever you are. You're a lucky girl.
This one's a keeper.



Tonight and the Rest of Our Lives

Author: Jezebel (imfromupnorth⊕yahoo.com)
Rating: Uh, you must know what I write by now.
Summary: Another AU fic by yours truly--these are so fun to write. Liz and Max realize
that sometimes one night can mean forever.
Disclaimer: I don't own Liz. I don't own Max. I don't even own Riverdog, for God's
sake! Get off my back!
Distribution: Anywhere, just let me know.


Down to the Earth I fell
With dripping wings
Heavy things won't fly
And the sky might catch on fire
And burn the axis of the world, that's why
I prefer a sunless sky to the glittering and stinging in my eyes

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life

Gleaming in the dark sea, I'm as light as air
Floating there breathlessly
When the dream dissolves I open up my eyes
I realize that everything is shoreless sea
Weightlessness is passing over me

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life
Tonight and the rest of my life

Everything is waves and stars
The universe is resting in my arms
I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life
Tonight and the rest of my life

Part 3


Liz looked up as the professor literally skidded into the room, sliding on the
slick tile floor. It was the middle of January and dead center for the rainy
season. The class snickered a little as they waited for him to catch his balance.
He grabbed his desk and planted his feet on the ground as he looked up at the clock.

"Damnit!" he cursed. The class tittered. "Late again!"

The boy next to Liz leaned over and whispered, "His car must've gotten flooded
again."

Liz choked, trying not to laugh. "Alex, shut up! Don't make him any worse than
he already is!"

The professor cleared his throat and glared at the giggly students. "You'll be
getting your exam scores today. This being a yearlong class, I have attempted to
take pity on you and be kind with your scores. However, you make that quite
difficult for me."

Alex and Liz winced simultaneously. Professer Wilder pulled a packet of papers
from his sopping wet briefcase, and began calling off names. "Aguirre. Anderson.
Appleby. Azrael. Baker. Blevins. Brunck. Covarrubias. Damien. Davids.
Dumont. Fox."

Liz watched the students receive their exams, one by one, and one by one their
shoulders slumped.

"Gruber. Helton. Lea. Lucifer. McCartney. McLaughlin. Neal. Parker."

Liz winced and rose out of her chair. Wilder handed her the paper without
looking at her. "Better luck next time, Parker." She looked down at her
score. 65. 65? How could she pass this class with a 65? How could she
graduate without passing this class? She sank heavily into her chair, tears
welling in her eyes. Alex looked at her worriedly.

"Pitcher. Roberts. Sciarani. Spender. Whitman."

Alex got his paper and Liz saw a smile of relief cross his face. She tried
to hold back the tears that were welling in her eyes, and the nauseous feeling
rising in her stomach. Alex looked over in concern. "Liz, are you all right?"

"No," Liz muttered, feeling bile rise in her throat. Suddenly she knew for
certain that she was going to vomit, and she ran toward the bathroom as fast
as her legs would carry her. She could hear the shocked silence of the
calculus class behind her. She had barely thrown her head over the rum of
the toilet when she began to retch, losing the entire contents of her
breakfast into the bowl. She leaned forward, trying not to faint while
her stomach twitched spasmodically.

She heard two voices behind her, one male, one female. "Liz, have you got
the flu again?" Alex asked as he opened the door. Liz hadn't bothered to
latch it.

"No, I could't have, I just --" she began to throw up again. Alex knelt
behind her and pulled her hair away from her face.

"Is she going to be okay?" the girl asked, and Liz recognized her as one
of the other students of her class. She flushed with embarassment.

"Yeah, Erin, she'll be fine. Tell Wilder I'm taking her home."

The dark-haired girl nodded her assent and left silently. "Well, you
shocked the hell out of Wilder," Alex said. "I think he thought the
exam made you vomit."

Liz coughed, trying not to laugh. She still felt queasy, but she didn't find
it likely that she could throw up anymore. There wasn't anything left in her
stomach. She sat back on her haunches, allowing Alex to rub her back.
"Alex, you're too good to me."

"I know," he said, and this time she did laugh. "Have you been sick in the
mornings lately?"

"I know what you're thinking, and no, I'm not pregnant."

"Okay. Just checking. It must have been the fish last night, what do you think?"

Liz wrinkled her nose as he helped her stand. "Don't mention fish to me
right now, unless you want me hurling all over your car."

****

"Hello, Mr. Evans," the petite, bleach-blonde, overly permed receptionist
purred. Evidently, she was trying to be seductive, but she was failing
miserably.

Max ignored her, walking to the elevator and pushing the button for his
floor. "Christ," he muttered under his breath. "If that woman gets any
sluttier..."

"She might as well start Heidi-Fleissing out of the office," Michael
supplied, sticking out his hand to keep the elevator from closing. He
was loud enough for the receptionist to hear and she whirled around
indignantly, an outraged expression on her face.

"Hi, Tess!" Michael called with a wave as the doors slid shut.

"Michael, you know you shouldn't mess with her. She's the boss's
girlfriend."

"What's she going to do? Flail me to death with her fake blond curls?
You know she's trying to get in your pants, Maxwell."

"Mine and everyone else's."

"True, oh so true. Too bad the boss doesn't know how well his little
mistress gets around."

Max glared at his friend. "You're not going to be the one to tell him, either."

Michael feigned innocence. "Who, me?"

****

At first, Liz had suspected that she was pregnant. She had all the typical
signs--dizziness, nausea, weird food cravings. But when she had taken the
at-home test, a week ago, it came back negative. She decided it might be a
good idea to try again. It had been a little over a month since she'd been
with Max, and she had missed her period. How exactly it had all happened,
she wasn't sure. Well, of course she *knew*, but it didn't make any sense
at all. They had used protection--two forms, in fact.

Of course, she reminded herself, no protection is one hundred percent.
Then, almost as an echo, the words of her eighth-grade health teacher came
back to her. Except for abstinence!

She pondered the shelf of pregnancy tests in the pharmacy. They were all
expensive and she didn't have very much money. How would she be able to
afford a baby, if the first test had been wrong? There was just no way.
She couldn't...her lip trembled and she bit down on it, hard, willing
herself not to cry. No, this wasn't happening, she wasn't pregnant at
21. The father wasn't gone without a trace. It wasn't possible that
this could happen to Liz Parker, class valedictorian, voted most likely
to succeed. No one would ever believe it.

Finally, with a bitter laugh, she picked up the one next to the last one
she had used. What did it matter, anyway?

****

Back from his lunch break, Max noticed a note on his desk. It was from
Leila, the secretary for his area. Max didn't have his own, personal
secretary. He was too young, but he was moving up fast. His latest program
had been a national best-seller, allowing harried customers to do their tax
returns in half the time and at half the price of hiring an accountant.

Boss wants to see you. Hope it's nothing bad, but knowing you, I doubt it.

Leelee

Max smiled. Leila was so sweet. Max and Michael had begun a campaign for
her to replace the irritating receptionist, but he doubted it would ever
happen. Tess made the boss too happy.

He walked over to the office and knocked lightly on the door. There was no
answer. "Damnit," Max sighed. "He must be at lunch."

Abruptly, there was a soft laugh from inside. It was so low, Max couldn't
tell if it was male or female. After all, if Jones was doing something
unbecoming of upper-level management, the CEO wouldn't be too happy to hear
it. And getting Jones fired was the current dream of everyone in the office.
Curiousity piqued, he tried the door.

It was unlocked.

Max opened it slowly, only to be shown a sight he had never wished to see.
The receptionist was on top of Jones in his plush leather chair, riding him
vigorously. When she saw Max, her eyes widened and she jumped off so fast
Max thought she might take Jones's dick with her. She dove behind the desk,
apparently digging around for her clothes.

Jones spun around quickly, and Max tried to shut the door when he heard his
boss's voice. "Miss Harding, you are dismissed. Mr. Evans, please come in."

Reluctantly, Max walked in, trying not to snicker. Tess hurried past him,
her clothes half-undone, not bothering to recover her dignity.

"Mr. Evans, is there some reason you didn't knock?"

"Uh, I did knock, sir. I guess you didn't hear me."

Jones turned red. "Well, uh, I wanted you to know that TaxMaster has
surpassed all our expectations. People are still buying the damn thing
and it's not even tax season. You're being promoted to the head of this
department."

Max was speechless, his mind whirling. This meant he could get away from
Jones! He resisted the urge to jump up and down. "Thank you, sir."

"Yes, well, no reason to thank me, Evans. I'm moving up too. Did you hear
that our venerable CEO is retiring?"

"Retiring? He's only 33!"

"Well, this is the way things go now, in this fast-paced business. And
I'm..." Jones smiled. Max dreaded what he was going to say. "I'm in the
running for his spot."

****

Liz looked at the little stick, waiting for the window to show something.
She had been more than meticulous about the directions this time. She wanted
to know for sure.

She closed her eyes. The little egg timer began to blare. She held up
the stick.

It was negative.


posted on 6-Sep-2001 1:41:47 PM
Part 4

"Well, Liz, I really don't understand this. Now, granted, I'm a specialist
in this area, but all your symptoms point to pregnancy. I don't understand
what it could be if it isn't pregnancy."

Liz's eyes widened. "I don't know" was never, ever a good thing to hear from
the doctor.

"Now there is such a thing as a hysterical pregnancy -- where a woman's body
shows all the symptoms of pregnancy, but she never has a baby. Her body has
simply convinced itself that it's pregnant. But I don't think that's what's
happening in this case."

Liz didn't think so either. She thought she was pregnant. It was as if she
could feel a tiny life stirring inside her. It was an alien feeling, but
she was almost accustomed to it already.

Dr. Kingston smiled reassuringly at Liz, trying not to mislead her. "I don't
want you to think anything is wrong. This happens sometimes. We'll give you
an ultrasound, and settle it once and for all."

"Okay," Liz muttered.

The nurse took her back to a small, windowless room and took a bottle of jelly
from a cabinet under the monitor. She put it on a device that reminded Liz
oddly of a Bunsen burner.

"I'm just going to warm this up for the doctor, sweetheart. You just make
yourself comfortable."

Liz nodded slowly. Comfortable. Right.

Dr. Kingston stepped inside, putting on a new gown over her prim suit as she
went. "Do you know how this goes, Liz?"

She laughed a little. "Well, I've never had one before, but I guess you
just squirt that jelly on me and roll the little pad around, right?"

"Yup. You got it."

Liz squirmed a little when the doctor squirted the hot jelly on her skin.
That was definitely an odd sensation. The doctor fell silent, watching the
screen intently, and Liz tried to stop wiggling. She looked nervously at
the screen, not able to make anything out of the light blobs and dark
blotches on the screen.

Finally the doctor looked up with a smile. "Congratulations, Liz.
You're going to have a baby."

She pointed at a faint image on the monitor. "See? That's the baby.
Too early to really determine the sex, about six weeks, but definitely
there. Everything looks normal. I can't imagine why all those tests
came back negative, but clearly they were false-negative."

She looked back at Liz's small, white, frightened face, and reached out
and took her hand. "I know it's scary, dear. But knowing you, you've
picked a great father."

Liz tried to smile.

"I can give you a due date, if you want. Do you know the day of
conception? If you don't, the first day of your last period will do."

"I know the date of conception," Liz whispered. "December 7."

"December 7," the doctor said thoughtfully. "Just a second. I'll be
right back."

Dr. Kingston left and shut the door cautiously behind her. "Raeann?"
she called.

"Yes, doctor?" the elderly nurse appeared around the corner.

"Throw out every damn one of those pregnancy kits we've got left."

Raeann nodded, obviously confused, and wandered off.

****

Max stepped outside into the biting ocean wind. The parking lot was just
across the street, but it felt more like a mile as he pushed into the
cold air.

The thought crossed his mind that it might be warmer in Raleigh.

Shut up, he told himself. She didn't want to see you. She never called
you and you never even knew her last name. Forget about her.

But as hard as he tried to forget about the dark-haired siren with the
sparkling eyes, he could not.

He rubbed at his temples and pulled his keyring from his back pocket,
sorting through until he found the key to his Lexus. He climbed up
into the SUV, relishing the silence he found inside. A few quiet
moments...that was all he asked for.

He jumped with a start as Beethoven's Fur Elise started to play, in an odd
electronic buzz. "Shit," he muttered. "Why is it so much to ask for?" He
pried the phone out from under him and flipped it up. "Evans."

"Hey, Maxwell. Got some big news for ya."

Max groaned, his headache growing by the moment. "What now, Michael?"

"Guess who's announcing their retirement officially tomorrow? And guess
what favorite friend of ours is the front-runner for his spot?"

"The CEO is announcing that he's retiring tomorrow and the asshole of the
world, Jones, is probably going to take his spot."

"Dammit, Max. Why can't I ever find out anything before you do?"

"Trust me, Michael, unless you enjoy your worst and most disgusting
nightmares being played out before you, be glad that you didn't find
out when I did."

****

Liz opened the door and turned on the light, and abruptly jumped back
with a slight shriek.

"Whoa, babe! It's me! It's me!"

Liz almost collapsed at the sound of her best friend's voice. "Oh
Maria," she groaned.

"What? What is it?" Maria asked, her eyes concerned as she put her
arms around Liz.

"I'm pregnant," she whispered.

"What?"

"I'm pregnant," Liz yelled, furious at having to say it twice. It was
bad enough that it had to be spoken aloud.

Maria stepped back in shock. "I thought you said it wasn't possible!"

"Yeah, I did, me and four pregnancy tests," Liz said, collapsing into her
plain yellow wood desk chair with a groan. "We used condoms, and I was
on the pill."

Maria cracked her usual grin, for the first time since Liz had walked in
the room. "That guy must have had super sperm."

"Super sperm," Liz muttered, and then began to giggle. They sat by themselves
in Liz's dorm room, giggling away at the insanity of life.

"Are you going to tell him?" Maria asked, back to business again in the
instant the laughter dried up.

"How can I? I don't have any way to get ahold of him. He didn't even
leave a phone number."

Maria winced. "Ouch, babe. Maybe you don't want to talk to him. Are
you going to stay in school?"

"Yeah, I've got less than a semester left. It seems asinine to quit
now and lose whatever future income I might have had. Especially now
that I'm thinking for two."

"Abortion's not an option, huh?"

"No...I mean, it's a woman's right to choose, you know? And I choose
to keep my baby. It's mine. I want it. And if that's selfish, then
too bad."

Maria smiled a little. "I guess adoption's out of the picture, too.
How are you going to deal with classes while you're pregnant? It won't
be easy."

"No, it won't. But I'll only be five months along or so when I graduate
in May. I'll still be able to fit in my graduation gown, Maria."

Maria sat back, observing her best friend and roommate carefully. "Are
you sure you're ready for this, Liz? It's just about the biggest step
you can take in life."

Liz frowned. "No, I'm not sure. But are any parents sure? I heard
my dad say once that he knew he was ready to be a father when the nurse
put me in his arms. Besides, I know you, Maria. You'll be there for me."

Maria was surprised, but she put her arm around her best friend's
shoulders. "You know it. I'll be there for you, always."

"Any more questions? Or is the Inquisition over?"

She laughed. "Just one. Did you get a due date?"

"August 30, Maria. Almost eight months from now. We've got a long
time to prepare."

"That's good, babe. Cuz this kid's going to be just about the most
loved on earth, daddy or no."

Liz tried to smile.

****

"Michael...no, I don't really care, anymore, to be totally honest with
you. I'm beginning to think that I should just forget about that place.
Move on, form my own company."

"That'd be good, asshole. Draw attention to yourself. Real good."

"Michael, we've been drawing attention to ourselves ever since we came to
Silicon Valley. Magazines have been trying to put me on their covers since
I first arrived, and I've had to tell them no every freakin' time. I can't
handle the secrecy anymore, Michael. And I'm beginning to think that even
if I did tell the truth, no one would believe me."

Michael's voice was tense. "What about those cops that hung around in high
school?"

"The FBI agents? I have no idea, Michael. They never tried to touch us.
They never said a word to us. We never really knew why they were there,
even."

"Sure, Maxwell. FBI agents just like to hang around high schools, and I've
got your latest ingenious project coming out of my ass right now."

"Michael...oh, never mind. I'm home. I'll talk to you about this later,
Michael. Remember, if I form a new company, you're coming with me." Before
Michael had a chance to protest, Max closed the cell phone and put it back
in his pocket. He shook his head. Michael needed a more open mind, and he
needed it now. Max had given up on the whole deathly-secret thing in college.

He put his key in the lock and turned it. The door slid open smoothly, and Max
realized that the lights were on. "What the hell?"

He walked edgily inside, praying that it wasn't a burglary. All his information
was inside this apartment.

"Hello, Max Evans."

Max whirled around. Tess stood in front of him, acid in her eyes and a smirk
on her face.




Tonight and the Rest of Our Lives, Part 5

Author: Jezebel (imfromupnorth⊕yahoo.com)
Rating: Uh, you must know what I write by now.
Summary: Another AU fic by yours truly--these are so fun to write. Liz and Max realize
that sometimes one night can mean forever.
Disclaimer: I don't own Liz. I don't own Max. I don't even own Riverdog, for God's
sake! Get off my back!
Distribution: Anywhere, just let me know.
Spoilers: Nothing, nada. That's half the point of AU, remember?


Down to the Earth I fell
With dripping wings
Heavy things won't fly
And the sky might catch on fire
And burn the axis of the world, that's why
I prefer a sunless sky to the glittering and stinging in my eyes

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life

Gleaming in the dark sea, I'm as light as air
Floating there breathlessly
When the dream dissolves I open up my eyes
I realize that everything is shoreless sea
Weightlessness is passing over me

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life
Tonight and the rest of my life

Everything is waves and stars
The universe is resting in my arms
I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life
Tonight and the rest of my life


"Holy shit! Tess! What are you doing here?" Max shouted, backing toward the door.

She shrugged in her typical airy manner. "Don't know, Mr. Evans. Maybe, I just
came to have a little chat." She traced her finger along the dusty end table next
to his couch. Max scowled at the thought of her touching anything of his, much
less leaving fingerprints.

"What do you want?" he asked, setting his briefcase on the kitchen table.

She blinked heavy-lashed blue eyes slowly at him. "I don't want anything, Max."

He snorted. "Yeah right, Tess. I may not know you well, but I know what kind of
person you are."

She moved a little closer. He backed away. "What makes you think you know what
kind of person I am?"

He shook his head at her. "I seem to remember you coming on to me at that Christmas
party a few years ago, then getting mad and trying to keep me from being promoted
when I turned you down. Ring any bells?"

She smiled. "What's in the past is in the past. What I want to talk about is
what happened today."

Max rolled his eyes. "Oh, what, you mean, you and Jones fucking around on company
time?"

Tess moved even closer, one finger in her stiff blonde hair. "I'd appreciate it
if you wouldn't mention that around the office."

"And why should I do anything for you?"

She managed to look hurt. "Max, I didn't know you hate me. I'm not a bad person,
you know."

The look on Max's face said that he thought otherwise.

"I just...it wouldn't be a good time right now, you know?"

The phone started to ring, and Max groaned a little. "Whatever, Tess. Just get
the hell out of my house before anyone sees you, all right?"

Tess picked up her purse, swinging her hips as she walked past him. "Sure, Max.
Just remember that whatever it is you know about me...I know even more about
you." And with that she left, slamming the door shut behind her.

Max shook his head in confusion. "What the hell was that all about?" he muttered
to himself. Remembering the ringing phone, he leaned over the counter and picked
it up on the last ring. "Max Evans."

"Hi, sweetie. How are you?"

He groaned, sinking into a plush chair. "Thank God you called, Mom."

****

"Hungry, hungry, hungry," Liz chanted, going through the refrigerator.

"Hungry hungry hippos," Maria said, appearing from behind her.

Liz whirled around. "Now what is that supposed to mean?"

Maria rolled her eyes. "Give me a break, babe. You haven't gained any
weight. You aren't a hippo. Well, yet." She jumped to avoid Liz's badly
aimed smack. "I was talking about...you remember that TV commercial, for
that little kids' game? Hungry Hungry Hippos?"

Liz frowned, trying to remember. "Oh yeah! Maria, tip one. Don't ever
mention hippos, or elephants, or any other form of large African animal
around a pregnant woman."

She laughed. "I'll try to remember...oh my God, what the hell are you
putting on that ice cream?"

"Pickles, rocky road ice cream, and tabasco sauce," Liz said cheerfully,
pouring all her ingredients into a bowl and stirring them together. Maria
looked like she was going to gag.

"Just the smell of that is making me sick. I've heard of pickles and
ice cream, but that tobasco in there...oh my God. That's the most disgusting
thing I've ever seen in my whole life."

Liz pulled a spoon from the silverware drawer and took a hesitant spoonful.
"Oh, it's good." She licked the spoon clean and pulled another one from
the drawer. "Want to try some?"

Maria practically turned green. "Not unless you want me to vomit."

"Not particularly. I've vomited enough for the both of us today."

"Gee, I wonder why."

Liz crossed her eyes at Maria. "No way. This stuff is like my morning-sickness
repellent."

Maria started to laugh. "Whatever you say, babe. Just don't blame me when
that baby is born and you can't get it to eat anything but Mexican food."
She sat down at the table opposite her best friend, trying to avoid the
sight of the rocky road-tobasco-pickles mix. "So what did the doctor say
today?"

Liz swallowed another spoonful. "She says that I'm progressing 'quite well'",
she said, mimicking her doctor's British accent. "Only six and a half months
left, whoopee. She said that I'll probably start to show soon. She also
said that I'll start gaining weight." Remembering Dr. Kingston's words, she
frowned and pushed the huge bowl away.

Her best friend scowled and pushed it back in her direction. "Hey, don't get
that nasty stuff anywhere near me."

Liz's hands squirmed in midair as she looked unhappily at the ice cream bowl.
"Oh, screw it. The father's gone anyway. What do I care?" Then she grabbed
the bowl and started to eat with gusto.

Maria groaned. "Disgusting, Liz. Disgusting."

****

The next morning, Tess wasn't at the reception desk. Max and Michael exchanged
looks; the slutty receptionist never called in sick.

Max hadn't mentioned the encounter the night before. Instead he'd spent the
night searching for a locksmith who was open around the clock to come change
his locks, and toughen up the security system. No way was anyone getting into
his apartment anymore.

Max walked by Jones' office, and then doubled back to have another look. His
boss was gone, but Max couldn't fail to notice the unmistakable -- packing
boxes filled his office. He cursed to himself, and headed straight back
toward the elevator, ignoring Michael's questioning look.

He pressed the button for floor 25, the top floor of the building. For what he
wanted to say, he had to go all the way up.

The doors opened, and Max stepped out onto the shiny tile floor. The only
light was reflected by the seamless mirrors that covered every visible surface.
Max shuddered, feeling like he was in a carnival mirror house. The CEO
definitely had strange taste.

He kept walking. He'd been here before, and he knew the mirror hall ended and
became actual office space eventually. Nevertheless, he half expected a
disembodied voice to suddenly boom out, "I've been expecting you."

Luckily for his mental health, it didn't happen. Eventually the cold steel
tiles and mirrors gave way to plush carpeting and warm paint, and a desk
facing away from a picture window.

"Hello, sir," Max said, a little nervously.

The CEO smiled. "Hello, Evans -- it is Evans, isn't it? What can I do for you?"

Max swallowed and decided to get right to the point. "I've heard a rumor that
you're retiring."

He shrugged. "Rumors are sometimes true."

"And I heard that you planned to promote Jones to your position."

There was a pause. "Well, that was my current plan. Who did you hear this
from?"

"Well, from Jones."

A low curse. "Dammit all to hell, I told him not to say anything."

"Well, I guess that's what I wanted to ask you about, sir. Do you really think
he's the best choice for the job?"

"Are you questioning my judgement?"

"No, I just...well, I'm just trying to think of what's best for the company,
that's all."

"Let me think of what's best for the company, Evans. Me and the stockholders.
We've already decided, and it will be announced this afternoon."

Max was stunned. It was like a confirmation of his worst nightmare. He turned
and walked away. The CEO didn't say a word as he stumbled back toward the
elevator.

He pressed the button for down, and to his surprise, the elevator popped right
open, and a little blond popped right out. She looked him cooly up and down.
"Max," she acknowledged, and turned down the mirror hall, her heels clacking
on the floor.

"Tess," Max muttered, the smell of her perfume making him feel physically ill.

****

Liz smiled a little as the road flew back behind her. Her car was old and rundown,
but when she needed it, it sure served its purpose.

She doubted that the beach would be too crowded. It was late February, a blustery,
windy day. She knew the ocean winds would be biting and cold, but they couldn't
be too bad. In a month and a half, the spring break crowds would start coming.

She wasn't showing yet, thankfully enough. And her calculus class seemed to think
she'd been the victim of food poisoning. But there were some changes she'd noticed,
not that anyone else had.

She'd gained a few pounds, and her breasts were a little tender, almost like they'd
been with her occasional bouts of PMS. But there were some other things, strange
things. Like the craving for tobasco. She had asked Dr. Kingston, and she'd never
heard of a craving like that before. She had said that cravings were different for
every woman. They could even change from month to month.

Then there was the small matter of the strange dreams. She dreamed of space, of stars,
floating from planet to planet in strange star systems, far away.

And she dreamed of Max. She'd only known him for a few hours, but in those few hours
he'd managed to change her life forever. And as of yet, she didn't know whether he
had changed it for the better, or for the worse.

She turned on the radio, trying to draw herself out of her funk. Why was she thinking
about him? He'd left her without so much as a phone number, or even a goddamn last
name!

Liz paused on one station, where a mellow, delicate song caught her interest.

"When the rain is blowing on your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love"

She sighed a little, listening to the low female voice. She didn't know who sang the
song, but now her interest was piqued.

****

Max got angrily into his SUV. There was no way in hell he was staying to hear that
announcement. No way in hell.

He pulled out of the parking lot so fast he almost hit the flimsy barrier before the
parking attendant had a chance to send it up.

Out on the road, he realized that he needed something to soothe his nerves. He needed
something to calm him or he might wind up crashing his car right into a tree. He
turned on the radio, tuning through the stations.

"When the evening shatters and the stars appear
There is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love"

Max smiled a little, the gentle beat of the song almost pushing him back as his taut
muscles began to relax. Suddenly the thought of Liz came into his mind; what was
she doing right now?

****

"I know you haven't made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I knew it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belonged"

Liz was thinking of Max. One-night stand, father of her child. She knew nothing
about him, really. Yet at the time, she had trusted him enough to make love to
him, to sleep contentedly in his arms, to wake up and be devastated by his
absence.

Maybe they had seen it differently. Max, from the male perspective, had seen
a woman offering herself for one night. Liz, from the female perspective,
had seen a woman offering herself forever.

"The storms are raging on the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret
Winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain't seen nothing like me yet"

She bit her lip, trying to force back the tear that threatened to roll down her
cheek.

****

"I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
There is nothing that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
To make you feel my love"

Max listened to the song close, and turned the radio off in irritation as an
obnoxious pop song followed it up. But the song, and perhaps his brief
encounters with Tess and the CEO, had made him think. What was he doing
with his life? Why was he wasting away in some corporation in Silicon Valley?

Was there any point anymore?




Author's Note: The song is "To Make You Feel My Love" by Joan Osborne.

I've had a little bit of a thing for songs lately...lol.



Tonight and the Rest of Our Lives

Author: Jezebel (imfromupnorth⊕yahoo.com)
Rating: Uh, you must know what I write by now.
Summary: Another AU fic by yours truly--these are so fun to write. Liz
and Max realize that sometimes one night can mean forever.
Disclaimer: I don't own Liz. I don't own Max. I don't even own Riverdog,
for God's sake! Get off my back!
Distribution: Anywhere, just let me know.


Down to the Earth I fell
With dripping wings
Heavy things won't fly
And the sky might catch on fire
And burn the axis of the world, that's why
I prefer a sunless sky to the glittering and stinging in my eyes

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life

Gleaming in the dark sea, I'm as light as air
Floating there breathlessly
When the dream dissolves I open up my eyes
I realize that everything is shoreless sea
Weightlessness is passing over me

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life
Tonight and the rest of my life

Everything is waves and stars
The universe is resting in my arms
I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life
Tonight and the rest of my life

Part 6


Liz stopped her car, looking briefly around the deserted parking lot. Winter
winds had blown sand smooth across the beach and the road, though the brief
wet snow had melted a few weeks ago. The long stretch of sand looked untouched,
and Liz sighed in contentment. It was exactly what she'd been looking for.

She pulled a blanket from the trunk of her car and spread it on the beach near
the water. It was the ultimate relaxation -- on a deserted beach watching the
waves roll in.

She lay on her stomach, grunting a little as she tried to adjust for the new
fullness that had appeared in the last few weeks. She wasn't really showing
yet -- at least, no one who hadn't known her before would guess that she
was pregnant. But her body seemed to be reshaping itself, forming gentle
curves, and she had yet to adjust to the change.

As the cold sand warmed under her body, the rising and falling and swishing
of the water grew almost hypnotic, and Liz was unable to tear her eyes away.

****

Max pushed through the revolving doors of the office, dutifully stumbling
through the irritating device. The metal detectors didn't go off, thankfully --
for some reason, he had a tendency to set them off.

Tess looked up from her round, marble desk and smiled sweetly at him. "Good
morning, Max," she said.

He ignored her, heading straight for his floor. He'd decided last night that
the best way to deal with this situation, for now at least, was to simply
ignore it -- how different could it be with a different CEO? He'd never even
really noticed the last one's presence, so now, perhaps, Jones would settle
into that legendary mysticism. No one would go to see him, and no one would
really realize that he was there.

He sat down at his desk, rolling his eyes at the new stack of papers that had
piled up since his early departure the day before. "Frick," he muttered to
himself. "Top seller for the company, and they've still got me pushing papers."

His desk was in close proximity with the "watering hole," the area where employees
gathered for their daily jolt of java and for irritating in-company gossip. Right
now, the only people getting drinks were two thirtyish females, neither of whom
Max really knew. He ignored them and started sorting through the papers on his
desk.

He was interrupted, however, when they walked past and he clearly heard one of them
mutter, "Slimeball."

Max whirled around in disbelief. What? Had they been talking about him? Was it
because he was supposedly getting promoted now that Jones was moving up? He relaxed
a little. That had to be it. What else could it be?

"Evans, I want to see you in my office. Now."

Max groaned.

****

Liz awoke suddenly with a feeling of deep pervading cold. She was so cold, in fact,
that she was shaking uncontrollably. She couldn't feel her toes. That must have been
some nightmare...Wait! Had she fallen asleep?

She sat up suddenly and realized that she was covered in freezing water from her toes to
her chin. The tide! She'd fallen asleep without remembering about the tide! And there
had been no one to wake her...what if she hadn't awoken on her own? She shivered, and
this time not only from the chill that had infected her body.

Trying to control her trembling hands, she climbed unsteadily to her feet, trying and
failing to retrieve the sopping wet blanket before the tide rolled it out to sea.
"Shit," she muttered through blue lips. She reached in her jeans pocket and sighed
in relief as her numb hands found her key chain. She pulled it out and stumbled
toward her car.

She climbed in and started the engine; it was cold, of course, and instead of warming
her, the heater pumped cold air onto her wet skin. She flipped the knob to turn it
off entirely, knowing that for the time being it would harm her more than help her.
But she knew her little beater -- the engine would never warm up unless it was driven,
and how was she going to drive with her whole body shaking like this.

*Think warm thoughts, Liz.* She snickered to herself. Yeah, right. That hadn't worked
at home in the frozen north and it wouldn't work here, either.

Finally, her decision made by the fact that she actually seemed to be getting *colder*,
she snapped her seatbelt into place and put the car into gear.

****

"What do you need, sir?" Max asked, not bothering to keep the edge of sarcasm out of his
words.

Jones glared at him. "I think a more fitting question, Evans, would be, what do you need?
Because clearly, there is something we are not providing you with here."

Max narrowed his eyes, totally unsure of what Jones was getting at.

He cleared his throat and said, "You might want to take a look at these, Evans."

Max grabbed the manila folder that Jones slid across his desk, and let the objects inside
fall gently into his hands. They were photographs -- full color blow-ups. He turned
them around to see the actual images and started, almost dropping them.

The pictures brought back memories -- a night, just a few months ago, when he'd found
peace and happiness for only a few moments.

They showed him with Liz -- entwined in sheets, obviously in the throes of passion, and
quite clearly taken from the window above their bed.

****

Liz realized that the engine was warming and turned the heat on full-blast, aiming it
directly at herself. After a few moments, she began to warm, and she sighed in
relief. It seemed a little odd, though, that a little bit of the warmth was coming from
the inside of her body.

****

Max cleared his throat and put the pictures back into the envelope. "So what are these
supposed to mean?"

Jones raised a furry eyebrow. "That is you, is it not?"

He shrugged. "Yeah, it's me."

"You...and a clearly under-aged young girl?"

Max gasped, totally unable to speak.

"I don't know what you know about the laws in this country, Max, but as far as I know,
all of them strictly prohibit minors from having sexual relations with adults."

He finally managed to spit out a sentence. "She wasn't -- she's not underage!"

Jones shrugged. "She certainly looked underage to me, and to the uh--the rest of the
office staff, as well."

Max glared at him, feeling a level of hatred that was totally new to him. "I get what
this is. It's blackmail. What do you want? It doesn't matter anyway. You won't get
it. You don't have any proof that she was underage."

"And you don't have any proof that she wasn't. Did you even know her last name? Did
you know her first name?"

He fought the urge to jump across the table and pound the hell out of the man who called
himself his boss. "So what the hell do you want?"

"I don't want anything, Mr. Evans, beside your resignation on my desk tomorrow morning.
That way, no one outside this office will have to know about this. Got it?"

Max rose from the plush Aeron chair, throwing the pictures in Jones' face. "I got it."

"Good."

"Mother-fucking bastard," he added on the way out the door.

****

Liz sighed when she realized her clothes were still damp. Maria was going to have a
fit, she'd been gone for hours, and coming home all wet and covered with sand, Maria
would think -- well, who knew what Maria would think? Maria could be a little...odd
at times.

Before she had a chance to unlock the door, it was pulled open to reveal the angry
face of her best friend. "Where the hell have you been? Why are you wet? Why are
you -- were you at the beach?" She finished her questions before she was done
pulling Liz through the door.

"Yes, I was at the beach. I fell asleep. Don't harass me."

Maria rolled her eyes. "You are definitely pregnant. Attitude -- random spells of
sleepiness..."

"Whatever, Maria. Can you get me some dry clothes? I was freezing in these."

"Sure, babe. Just don't scare me like that again, okay?"

Liz laughed. "Yes, mom."

Maria furrowed her brow. "Well, young lady, let's see how much of a mess you've made
of yourself --" She gasped and stumbled backwards, falling in her frightened attempt
to get away. Liz frowned in consternation. "Maria! What the hell is wrong with you?
It's just me!"

Maria finally seemed to find her voice, and between gasps, she whispered, "Liz...
you're glowing."

Liz knotted her eyebrows and shook her head at her best friend. "Maria, have you
been smoking crack again? You know what they say about that stuff!"

She started to cry. "Liz...Liz...I'm not kidding! Go look at yourself in the
mirror!"

As she felt a tingle creep up her spine, her brain slowly put two and two together.
The weird nausea and floating feelings on the way home...the warmth from her belly...
she turned around and stumbled toward the bathroom.

Liz opened the door, not wanting to see what was there, not wanting to know that
there was something wrong with her baby. She lifted up her damp white button-down.
She squeezed her eyes shut, then looked down and moaned.

True to Maria's words, her slightly enlarged stomach was emitting a gentle, grayish-
green glow. The color actually seemed to swirl and move on her skin -- moving
with the still miniscule baby, she realized.

"Oh my God," she whispered. "What's wrong with my baby?"



posted on 6-Sep-2001 1:42:53 PM
Part 7

"Shit. Shit! Shit!"

Maria's head appeared from around the corner. "Whoa, babe! What's wrong?"

Liz threw the opened letter on the table in frustration and anger. "I forgot
to do my volunteer hours last month, and my GPA has dropped. They're revoking
my goddamn scholarship!"

"What? They can't do that! This is your last semester!"

"Yeah, go tell them that. They took my room and board. They would have taken
tuition, too, I bet, if it weren't already paid. But I can't stay here if I
don't have a place to live."

"I can't afford to live here without your share of the rent either, babe."

"I know, Maria. I'm sorry."

"It isn't your fault. Could you get a job?"

Liz laughed dryly. "Yeah, I'm such a valuable laborer at four months along. They'll
take one look at my belly and laugh their asses off right in my face."

Maria sighed and hugged her best friend, ignoring the bulge of her stomach. "There's
only one thing you can do then, sweetie. You can't drop out this late in the game."

Liz groaned. "Oh, no. No, I can't, I can't."

Her friend held her at arm's length and looked her in the eye. "Oh, yes you can, and
you have to. Just call them and explain! How bad could it be? I mean, they already
know you're pregnant, don't they?" Liz didn't respond. Maria's voice rose. "You
haven't told your own mother and father you're pregnant? You're not a damned fifteen-
year-old, Liz!"

"What was I supposed to say? 'Hi, mom and dad. I got knocked up by a mysteriously
sexy stranger on my twenty-first birthday and now I've got a green glowing baby
growing in my womb! I'm a human flashlight, ma! Aren't you proud?'"

"Whoa, calm down, sweetie. You don't have to mention all the...uh...weird stuff.
Just tell them you got pregnant and your boyfriend left town to avoid child-support
payments."

"Because that'll sound so much better to those people who rode my best friend out on
a rail for getting pregnant in high school," Liz said sarcastically, but she knew
her best friend was right. She had to think of something to tell her family. Since
that day at the beach, her stomach had glowed twice more, once with a miniscule
outline of a handprint shining through her skin. If she paid any attention to her
conservative upbringing, her baby was either some sort of miracle, or the spawn of
the devil. More likely her family, and especially the community, would think the
latter. Liz didn't know what was going on, or what was wrong with her baby. But
she'd had regular visits with Dr. Kingston and according to her, the baby was normal.
Perfect, as the doctor had put it. Liz trusted that, and she knew in her heart that
her baby wasn't anything evil or bad. A miracle perhaps, but nothing evil.

But there had been a few strange things about the father. Though in her own drunkeness
she had barely noticed, he'd gotten completely drunk after a glass of beer! Sixteen-year-
olds don't get drunk off one glass of beer! And then there was his unbelievable skills...
but she tried not to think about that. She'd never see him again. She didn't even know
his last name.

She sighed and put her face in her hands, her long hair hanging over her eyes. "Okay,
Maria. I'll call them."

****

Max let the wind blow through his hair, enjoying the fresh air with the top down. He
knew Michael would never forgive him for getting rid of his SUV, but he couldn't have
cared less. He loved his new convertible.

The day after being fired, he'd pulled all his money out of the bank. A considerable
amount of his fortune had been in stock options, but he was still a wealthy man. He
didn't need or want any more corporate bullshit, and he hadn't even started looking
for a new job. Instead, he'd packed his bags and taken off for his hometown.

It was a long drive from San Jose to Roswell, but Max was making record time, ignoring
the speed limits. The more distance he put between himself and that shitty little
hole of a town, the happier he'd be. For some reason, he had never noticed any real
corruption in Silicon Valley. But it was clear to him now that it was there, alive
and well. He'd been fired for something he hadn't done, in order to spare his company
bad press.

He knew why it had been done. On the way out he'd seen Tess, and her smirk had told
him volumes. Although he had not the slightest clue where she'd gotten the pictures,
he knew it must have been fulfillment of her threat to him. Why she thought he'd told
the CEO about her and Jones, he did not know. But she must have.

It didn't matter anymore. He was out of there, and he would never come back, despite
the phone call he'd received from Michael while he was packing. His best friend had
accused him of being a coward as well as a traitor, but Max didn't care. His home
was calling him.

Max glanced into his rearview mirror and then cursed. A cop was right behind him,
lights flashing. He slowed to a stop.

****

"Hello, Parker residence."

Liz almost laughed at the formality in her mother's voice, but then she remembered
that she was making a long-distance phone call on her own very limited funds. "Hi,
mom."

"Liz, sweetie! It's been so long since we've heard from you!"

"I know. I'm sorry."

"Well, you're a busy girl! Graduation's coming up, isn't it?"

Liz cleared her throat. "I don't know, mom."

Her mother's voice rose a little and she could sense her mother's frequent hysteria
creeping into it. "What do you mean, you don't know?"

"I might have to drop out, mom. They revoked my scholarship."

"What? Why did they do that? And in your last semester? Did you do something to
cause this, young lady? I can't believe you! What did you do?"

Liz ignored her mother's shrieks through years of practice and said, "Put Dad on
the phone, Mom."

"Oh no, young lady. You aren't getting out of this one that easily. You'll just
whine at your father and he'll break and give you whatever you want. Well, it
isn't going to be like that anymore. You have to take responsibility for your
own actions."

"Mom, you haven't even asked me what happened, for God's sake!"

"Don't you ever take the Lord's name in vain with me! You let your grades drop,
that's the only reason they'd revoke your scholarship, and you couldn't have
picked a stupider time to do it."

Liz sighed and said nothing. It was pointless to even talk to her mother, much
less argue with her. And the woman still wondered why Liz had gone very, very
far away to college.

"I want you on the next flight home, young lady. I'll send your tickets express."
And with that her mother hung up the phone.

Maria appeared from around the corner. "So how did it go, babe?"

Liz sniffled, trying not to cry.

"Oh, Liz! Are they really that bad?"

She wiped away a tear and laughed bitterly. "You have no idea, Maria. They want
me to come home."

"They what? You can't go home now! Finals are in a month and a half!"

"I know, but if I'm living on the streets, it doesn't really matter, does it?"

"Liz...there has to be some way. We could maybe get another roommate...split
the rent...you have some savings, don't you?"

"Yes, but they're for the baby, Maria. I can't go using that money for my tuition,
seeing as I probably won't be able to get a job right after graduation anyway. I
don't have any other choice. There's no way in hell they'd pay my tuition, especially
after they see that I'm pregnant."

They were both crying now. Maria managed to speak. "Well, babe, if you have to go,
you have to. I just can't imagine you back in that place!"

Liz sighed. "Me, neither."

****

"Hey, officer," Max said, attempting a grin.

The officer rolled his eyes. "Do you know why I pulled you over?"

"Ah...I was probably speeding, wasn't I?"

"You certainly were. The speed limit here is 75. You were going well over
one hundred miles per hour."

"Ah...yes, I'd have to agree with that."

"Going anywhere in such a hurry?"

"Home," Max said with a beatific smile.

A faint grin appeared at the corners of the officer's lips. "Well, you wouldn't
be the first, kid."

"Well, maybe we all think something we want is in California, but we never find it."

"Got that right. When I first..." the officer trailed off, realizing he was revealing
his past to a man he'd just pulled over for speeding. "Well, I've gotta ticket you,
but I'll give you one for ten over. Just slow down, will you? You want to make it
home alive."

"Sure thing, officer," Max said, and waited while he wrote out the ticket.

****

Liz shivered in the cold as she disembarked the plane. Even for Michigan, this was
unseasonal. It was April, and the temperature was well below freezing. She only
had her thin jacket; it was all she'd needed in North Carolina. It covered her belly,
though, and that was what she really wanted.

She looked around the little terminal as she walked in from the frigid air. After two
plane transfers and a whole day of travelling, she was bone-tired. She hated planes
to begin with. It wasn't that she got airsick, or that she had a fear of heights. She
just couldn't stand the smell, the old coffee and human sweat in the stale air. And
with the mild morning sickness she still suffered, the flights had been almost
intolerable.

She didn't see her younger brother anywhere. Liz felt like swearing but she held it
back. Cursing pregnant ladies were hardly appropriate in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

"Hey, sis!"

Liz smiled a little as she turned around to greet him, dreading the confrontation she
knew was coming at home.



Tonight and the Rest of Our Lives

Author: Jezebel (imfromupnorth⊕yahoo.com)
Rating: Uh, you must know what I write by now.
Summary: Another AU fic by yours truly--these are so fun to write. Liz
and Max realize that sometimes one night can mean forever.
Disclaimer: I don't own Liz. I don't own Max. I don't even own Riverdog,
for God's sake! Get off my back!
Distribution: Anywhere, just let me know.


Down to the Earth I fell
With dripping wings
Heavy things won't fly
And the sky might catch on fire
And burn the axis of the world, that's why
I prefer a sunless sky to the glittering and stinging in my eyes

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life

Gleaming in the dark sea, I'm as light as air
Floating there breathlessly
When the dream dissolves I open up my eyes
I realize that everything is shoreless sea
Weightlessness is passing over me

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life
Tonight and the rest of my life

Everything is waves and stars
The universe is resting in my arms
I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life
Tonight and the rest of my life
Part 8


Jamie pulled his older sister into a behr hug. She returned it wholeheartedly.
He pulled away and peered at her, a strange look on his face.

"I'm pregnant," she said without any hesitation. "Don't tell Mom."

He blinked at her in disbelief. "I won't have to tell her. You know her.
She's practically psychic."

Liz's lip quivered. "I know. Just please...don't make it any harder for me
than it's already going to be."

Jamie grabbed her and hugged her again. "I never would, Liz. You know that."

"You're the only one I can trust in this family, Jamie."

The seventeen-year-old raised an eyebrow. "How did it happen? I mean...you've
always been the Responsibility Queen..."

Liz groaned. "Oh, don't start. I know. I'm the last person anyone would
ever expect to be an unwed pregnancy. But sometimes...things happen. And
he isn't with me, Jamie, and I don't know where he is. That's the hardest
part. I can't...you never thought this would happen to me. I never did
either."

Jamie smiled and said, "Shit happens, sis."

She laughed. "Tell me about it."

****

Her mother was the one who opened the door on them. She looked at Jamie, a
question on her face. He shrugged as Liz pushed past both of them and
headed straight for the study.

"Daddy?" she said tentatiely, in a voice barely above a whisper.

Her father whirled around in his chair at the familiar sound. "Liz!"

Liz flew through the door into her father's arms. "I've missed you so
much, Daddy," she said into his shoulder. "I've been having such an
awful time, and I wanted you to --"

"Ssshhhh, shhhhh. It's okay now." She could almost feel him smile.
"I guess you're going to be making me a grandfather awfully soon,
aren't you?"

She didn't bother to question how he knew so quickly. "Yeah, I guess
so. I'm sorry."

"There's nothing to be sorry about, darlin'. I've been wanting
grandchilren. They're so enjoyable -- adorable little sweethearts for
me to play with; yet I won't have to change their dirty diapers."

Liz laughed, choking a little. "Don't tease me, Daddy."

"Oh, I'm not, Liz. I'm completely serious. You couldn't have made
me happier. Well...maybe I'd be a tad happier if you'd kept your
scholarship..."

"I know. I was so stupid. I guess I just forgot about it, everything."

"Pregnant women are known for their forgetfulness. You're no
exception, and neither was your mother, when she was pregnant with
you."

"I can't imagine mom ever being forgetful about anything."

"She certainly was. She even forgot her own doctor's appointments. And
speaking of the lady in question..." Liz watched as her father looked up
at her mother.

They were as different as two people could be. For the life of her, Liz
could not understand what her father, a sweet, gentle, intelligent man, saw
in her shrill, unstable mother. Yet his love was obvious in his eyes as
he looked at his wife. Liz sighed a little and put her head back into
his shoulder, longing for someone someday to look at her like that.

"Well, Elizabeth, I suppose we ought to get some sheets out for the hideabed,
hadn't we?"

Liz groaned. Hideabed? She hadn't bargained for any damn hideabed. "What
happened to my bed? It was still in existence the last time I was here!"

"Why, we made your room into a game room, didn't we, dear?" her mother said.

Liz looked at her father. He shrugged.

****

Max relaxed on the deck of his parent's home in sunny Roswell. It was a lovely
day; while hot, there was a pleasant breeze to cool the skin. He was deeply
invested in watching his drink. Since the air was dry, the condensation on
the outside of the cold glass beaded slowly. Max watched in fascination as
a drop ever so slowly made its way toward his thumb.

"Enjoying yourself yet?" an amused voice asked.

He frowned at his mother. "Yes, I really am. I think this is what I should
do for the rest of my life -- watch drink glasses."

"Productive. Honestly, have you given any thought to a new profession?"

"I have, but not any serious thought. The truth is that with the money I
made off the company's stock options, I'm pretty much set, as long as I
live frugally."

"I realize that, dear. But I know you, too. You're bored out of your mind
already with nothing to do. You can't spend the rest of your life watching
beads of water roll down glasses, as appealing as it may seem right now."

Max laughed. "I do know that, mom. But I can't go back to work right now.
I can't handle the corporate bullshit -- er, excuse me, bull *crap* anymore."

His mother raised an eyebrow. "I get the feeling there is something you're
thinking about, though. Or maybe someone?"

"Someone, I guess. A girl I met, back before Christmas. I left her my
phone number and my address, but she never called or wrote, so I guess she
wasn't as interested as she seemed. The thing is -- she's been on my mind
constantly ever since then. I can't get her out of my head. And I can't
figure out why she never called, I was so sure --"

His mother smiled. "It sounds to me like a case of mixed signals, Max.
Have you ever thought about calling her?"

Max hesitated, most definitely not wanting to go into detail about that night
with his own mother. "I didn't get her number."

"So find it, Max. Look it up. Call information."

"I don't think it will be as simple as that."

"It's never simple, but sometimes, it's worth it."

****

Liz lay in the dark in her childhood bedroom. In the dim light coming from
under the door, she eyed her surroundings.

Every sign that she had once resided in this small space was gone. Where
her dresser had been, there was a treadmill. Where once her little vanity
had stood, there was now a slot machine, complete with plenty of coins. In
the center, taking up practically the whole room, was a pool table. The
little couch that contained the hideabed barely fit into the room as it was,
and Liz had had to move the pool table to be able to unfold the bed.

It wasn't exactly the most comfortable mattress either. She felt like she
was trying to go to sleep on bare springs. With her growing belly sleep
wasn't easy anyway.

Shit. She knew she would never get to sleep like this. She rose from the
bed, putting on the robe that she'd tossed on the pool table and tying it
tightly around her midsection. She bashed her hip on the corner of the slot
machine in her attempt to make it to the door and cursed loudly.

She abruptly quieted herself when she heard her parent's voices.

"It just proves what I've said all along, Phillip."

"It doesn't prove anything, Nancy. You're being ridiculous."

"I'm being ridiculous? We raise her up, we thought we raised her right. And
she repays us by going out and playing the slut. I bet she didn't even know
his name. She's just that type of girl, I've known it since she was little!"

"You don't know anything. And if you think that about your own daughter, you
are a fool. She's a wonderful young woman who's made a mistake. You need to
stop thinking about how this will look in church tomorrow and start thinking
how your daughter is going to live her life. She can't live it here."

"She can live her life anywhere she damn well pleases, as far as I'm concerned.
She can go to Chicago and actually get paid for being the whore she is."

Liz chose that moment to step into the living room. Her father took in her
tear-streaked face and shaking legs and said, "Liz. You know she doesn't mean
anything she says. In five minutes she'll be begging your forgiveness."

She glared at both her parents through blurry eyes. "The problem is that she
does mean it. Even if she loves me, she only loves me because I can make her
look good. Or I can make her look bad, like I'm doing now by daring to have
a baby without a father. Well, I can't help that fact. If I could have
married this baby's father, I would have. But that doesn't matter to you
anyway, *mom*. So I guess I'll be going now. Maybe I'll stop in Chicago and
turn a few tricks on my way, huh?"

Her mother looked stricken. "Elizabeth, sweetie, I'm so sorry. I got carried
away, you know how it gets late at night after the..." she couldn't bring
herself to say it.

"After what?" Liz spat hatefully. "After your meds wear off? I know you have
a disease. But when I was little and you started ignoring me after Jamie
was born, you didn't have it then. You just had a preference."

"You sound like the spoiled child you are," Nancy snapped. "We give you
everything!"

"Everything, like what? The free tuition and board I earned with my grades?
The plane tickets home for Christmas that I pay for with my own money? What,
exactly have you given me? And where is your part in all of this, Daddy?"

Her father simply looked sad. "I love you both so much. Please don't try
to make me choose between you."

"I won't. It won't be an issue anymore, because I'm leaving. You won't
ever have to look at me ashamed again."

****

Max rolled over sleeplessly in his cheap motel room. He was only halfway
to Cimarron, having taken off in the evening. He'd chosen all the backroads,
forgetting that good hotels weren't exactly freely available out in the
boonies. He wanted to go to sleep, but had a bad feeling that he might
become infested with fleas during the night.

Suddenly a wave of pain hit, striking him from his stomach on up. He
gasped, rolling out of bed and hitting the dirty carpet. He felt washed
in waves of nausea, and strangely enough the pain actually felt partially
*emotional*.

After a few seconds it stopped, leaving him panting on his knees. "What the
hell was that?" he muttered to the dark night air.



Author's Note: THERE! YA HAPPY YET ANNE???

Tonight and the Rest of Our Lives

Author: Jezebel (imfromupnorth⊕yahoo.com)
Rating: Uh, you must know what I write by now.
Summary: Another AU fic by yours truly--these are so fun to write. Liz
and Max realize that sometimes one night can mean forever.
Disclaimer: I don't own Liz. I don't own Max. I don't even own Riverdog,
for God's sake! Get off my back!
Distribution: Anywhere, just let me know.


Down to the Earth I fell
With dripping wings
Heavy things won't fly
And the sky might catch on fire
And burn the axis of the world, that's why
I prefer a sunless sky to the glittering and stinging in my eyes

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life

Gleaming in the dark sea, I'm as light as air
Floating there breathlessly
When the dream dissolves I open up my eyes
I realize that everything is shoreless sea
Weightlessness is passing over me

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life
Tonight and the rest of my life

Everything is waves and stars
The universe is resting in my arms
I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life

Oh I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Oh I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life
Tonight and the rest of my life

Part 9

The Greyhound was crowded and dirty, but it would have to do. Liz couldn't
afford a plane ticket.

After leaving her parents' house, she'd taken the city bus to the Greyhound
station downtown. Using the ATM at the station, she'd removed almost all
of the money in her bank account. It wasn't very much, but she'd be able
to live off it for a little while at least.

She tried to ignore the jouncing of the bus underneath her. She had two
seats to herself, at least, despite the overcrowding. Everyone was
leaving her alone.

It was dawn now and they were nearing the Illinois border. She closed her
eyes, trying to sleep. She needed to sleep, and she didn't want to dream.

****

Max relaxed finally. It was still dark, and while logically he would not
have gone about setting up a tent in the dark, he couldn't have stood one
more second in that fleabag motel. The creepy-crawlies were bad enough,
but that little episode...he still couldn't figure out what the hell had
happened. It felt almost as though someone had been screaming in his head.

He sighed and lay down in his sleeping bag. The State Park was beautiful,
but he wouldn't be able to really enjoy it unless he got some sleep. He closed
his eyes, hoping there would be no more terror and pain in the middle of the
night.

****

//Liz was dreaming of a place she'd never been before. The scenery was
beautiful, yet arid and somewhat desolate. She sensed that this was a
desert, though she'd never been to one before. In the distance, there
was a strange-looking rock formation. For some reason, she felt drawn
to it.

As she walked, the formation seemed to get farther and farther away. She
wiped beads of sweat off her forehead and realized she didn't have any water.
While some deeply buried part of her realized that this was only a dream,
and that she wasn't going to die of thirst, to Liz in the dream it seemed a
grievous error. Where was she? How could she get home?

She wasn't pregnant in her dream, but it didn't seem strange to her; she
never was in dreams. In many of them, she didn't realize she had ever
been pregnant.

She tripped and stumbled to the ground, wincing as she fell and scraped
her knees like a little kid. "Shit," she muttered.

"Mommy, you shouldn't swear," said a high-pitched voice not three feet
away from her.

Liz looked up. There was a child there, a little girl. "Did you just call
me Mommy?"

The little girl nodded seriously. "You're my mommy. I'm your girl."

"I don't have a little girl," said Liz.

The little dark-haired angel smiled. "You're silly, Mommy. And you're
lost too."

Liz nodded. "I guess I am. I can't get to that rock formation. I have
to get there, don't I? Why does it keep getting further and further away?"

"It's not getting further away. You just don't know the right way to
get there," she said in her solemn tone. "But I can show you. Come
on."

She let the little girl take her hand and begin to lead her. Sure enough,
the formation started to get closer, despite the meandering path the
child was taking her on. Finally, they arrived. Liz was gasping for
water.

"I need something to drink," she said.

The girl said, "Everything you need is inside."

"Inside?" Liz asked.

"Inside there," she said, pointing to a path that seemed to lead into the
actual rocks. Liz hesitated. "Go on, Mommy."

Liz frowned and started closer. There seemed to be a glow coming from
inside the rocks. She eased her way inside.//

****

//Max was in someplace he'd never been before. It was cold and snowflakes
whipped through the air, which made no sense. It was April, wasn't it?
Where was this? The Arctic?

Well, he didn't know. The landscape was pretty, like something out of a
picture postcard. Old, Victorian houses on a hillside were covered in a
white blanket by the falling snow. It would have been beautiful if it
weren't for the freezing cold. Max looked down at himself and realized
that all he was wearing was a T-shirt and jeans. No wonder he was freezing
his ass off.

He shivered, looking around for someplace to go. "Here, Daddy," said a
voice behind him.

Max whirled around to see an adorable little girl, perhaps five years old.
Daddy? he thought. "What, sweetie?"

"Daddy, you're cold. You need to get inside."

"What? Who are you, little girl?"

"I'm your girl, Daddy. Come with me. There's a place over here."

He allowed her to take his hand, still puzzling over this mystery. He
certainly didn't have any children, but this little angel looked just
like him. Dark haired, hazel eyes, deeply tanned skin. She looked
out of place in this winter wonderland, despite the pink coat and dark
purple scarf wrapped around her.

There were people standing outside these old houses. They were all
dressed warmly like the little girl, and they stared openly at Max
as he passed by.

"Don't pay any attention to them," the little girl said authoritatively.
"They just don't know why we're here."

Max tried not to puzzle over this. This was a dream, had to be, and
he had to try not to think too deeply over anything that happened.

The little angel led him through a neatly trimmed yard. Max's shoes
crunched in the frozen grass and snow. "Won't these people notice
we're here?" Max asked.

"No, Daddy, they don't notice anything here."

He frowned as she stood on tiny tiptoes and unlatched a gate in the back
of the house. "Where are we?"

She smiled at him. "You'll know soon, Daddy."//