posted on 16-Sep-2001 7:26:13 PM
Title: Serendipity
Author: Mel (LizParkerEvans⊕
Disclaimer: I own nothing!!
Rating: PG 13
Category: Alternate Universe fic primarily M/L with M/M and I/A
Author’s Note: Serendipity struck me while standing in line for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland shortly after the August Roswell gathering in LA. I thought it would be fun to tell my vision of Max and Liz meeting for the first time as teenagers. Plus, I wanted to give Michael a different way to grow up, a different opportunity. So, this story takes place the beginning of their sophomore year, Michael doesn’t know Isabel and Max exist, and vice versa. The Evans moved to Colorado shortly after they found Max and Isabel, only to return in the fall of 1999.

Part 1

Serendipity n. The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them.

August 29, 1999. I’m Liz Parker and could things get more complicated?

A week ago I was just your average 16 year old teenage girl. But lately, things have just gotten out of control. Ever since Mom and Dad started to stress that school was coming up, Michael’s gotten distant. Actually, Michael’s been distant the past few years, but just more so lately.

I think he worries about how he’s different. That there’s no one else like him around. I tried to tell him yesterday that it doesn’t matter, that he’s still my brother and that I love him, different or not. Then he looked at me with those sad eyes that make my heart break and he said, “But I’m not really your brother.”

After that he left down the fire escape and we haven’t seen him since. It’s only been twenty four hours, and he’s disappeared for longer, but I still worry. Because he really seemed to mean it.

I know Michael’s not REALLY my brother. I know that we found him ten years ago, wandering in the desert by himself and that since no one seemed to know who he was, Mom and Dad adopted him. I still remember that day so clearly in my mind. We were in the car, driving back to town from the Carlsbad caves where we’d been visiting Grandma. Dad saw something and he pulled over.

We all got out to look around and I walked away from them until I saw Michael, hunched behind a rock. He looked scared, so I smiled and held out my hand to him. I didn’t think he would take it, but something made him reach out and hold onto me tight, like I was his lifeline. He wouldn’t leave my side for days, he slept on my floor and followed me around like a puppy. When Mom and Dad finalized the adoption, I was so happy. I had a brother.

Then, a few years back, Michael began to do strange things. I didn’t really notice at first. I thought the melted crayons had come from the hot sun and that the Christmas ornament I thought I’d broken must not have been the same one when I found it in perfect shape on the tree. I realized something about Michael was different when I hurt my arm playing softball and Michael sat with me, holding my arm until it tingled and the pain just went away.
When I asked him about it he looked at me in the eyes and I suddenly knew the answer without him saying a word. My brother is an alien.

It even sounds like a bad made for TV movie. He showed me his memories and what he knew and he showed me the things he’d done with his powers. And how he’d kept it all hidden, and how he was trusting me with his secret. And he showed me all of this without saying a word to me out loud.

Later he made me promise not to tell Mom and Dad, and I understood. I mean, we live in Roswell, New Mexico, the UFO Mecca of the world. If anyone did believe him, I would lose him forever. And I couldn’t deal with that because even though he sometimes pushes Mom and Dad away, I know that we are his family. He just doesn’t like the idea of being different. Somehow he’s been able to find the strength to tell Maria and Alex, our two best friends, but he can’t tell his own parents.

Our second year of high school starts tomorrow and besides worrying about Michael, there’s my parents. They expect so much of me and Michael, and when he doesn’t always do exactly what they want, a fight usually breaks out. That’s when Michael retreats to the desert or the woods. I know he’ll come back, but I still wonder where exactly he is.

And then there’s Kyle.

Kyle Valenti is the guy that I was interested in right around when school ended. We’ve done a few things together over the summer, but I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s not my type. Except, according to Maria, Kyle thinks I’m EXACTLY his type. Apparently we’re almost married with two kids in his mind. I’ll deal with that tomorrow.

Liz looked up as the phone by her chair rang. She quickly picked it up before it finished ringing the first time.
“Hello?” she asked breathlessly.
“What, were you sitting on the phone?” Maria asked, her voice amused. Liz let out a disappointed sigh.
“No, I just thought you might be Michael,” Liz admitted.
“He’s still not back?” Maria asked, her voice concerned.
“No, he’s not. And you’d be the second to know,” Liz reminded Maria. Michael and Maria had a close friendship, and Liz knew that Michael would go to her right after he would make sure that she knew he was fine.
“Has Alex heard from him?” Maria asked, since Alex was Michael’s best friend.
“No, he hasn’t, at least as far as I know. Have you talked to him lately?” Liz asked hopefully.
“Actually, I just hung up with him before I called you. He called to tell me about his new neighbors across the street. I guess Philip and Diane Evans are back in town with their two kids,” Maria said.
“Really? My parents should be happy, they were close friends with them before they left for Aspen ten years ago. Their kids are adopted, aren’t they?” Liz asked.
“I think so. We never met them, remember? The adoption was going through just as they were leaving town and they never went to our school. I know that they’re both our age, and that their names are Max and Isabel. And I can tell that Alex is already smitten with Isabel,” Maria smirked.
“So, I guess they’ll be starting at West Roswell tomorrow,” Liz mused.
“Alex said that he got to talk to Max for a few minutes. Very quiet, but here’s the best part: Alex said that when he did actually speak that he said he liked science. I tried to get Alex to tell me if Max is hot, but he wouldn’t give me any kind of real answer,” Maria pouted. Liz laughed.
“Of course not! He was probably too busy staring at Isabel anyway. I better go before my Mom catches me on the phone. You’re picking me up tomorrow for school, right?” Liz asked.
“Yep, 7:30 sharp! And hopefully I’ll be picking up Michael too. I’m getting Alex right before you and we can all ride in together,” Maria said. Liz nodded and said goodnight before she hung up the phone.
Sighing, she closed her journal with a thud and leaned into her room, placing it on her dresser. She was about to crawl into the window when she heard a scuffling noise coming from her fire escape. Her head whipped around and she ran to the edge, whispering as loud as she could without waking her parents.
“Shhh!! I’m coming up,” he replied from below in the street. Liz breathed a sigh of relief and stepped back, allowing him to climb up to the balcony. She hugged him briefly before she stepped back, wrinkling her nose a little.
“Geez Michael, you smell like a skunk. Where have you been?” she asked, waving her hand in front of her nose. Michael grinned at her, his smile lopsided.
“I missed you too sis. I was in the woods. Ran into some furry critters. Are Mom and Dad still up?” He asked, glancing through her window into the dark house.
“No, they went to bed about an hour ago. I had to close the Crashdown tonight all by myself because you weren’t here,” Liz reminded him, referring to the restaurant their parents owned and they both worked in. Michael looked downcast and slightly guilty.
“I’m sorry. I just had to get out of here for a little while. I’m glad they aren’t up, I can’t deal with all the questions,” Michael said softly.
“I know, but I think they might listen,” Liz implored. He shook his head.
“No, they wouldn’t. They want me to be someone I’m not, and I can’t be that person for them. And they can’t know who I really am. It’s just so lonely, feeling like I’m the only one,” Michael replied. Liz took his hands in hers and looked at him in the eye.
“I can’t even imagine what that might be like, but you aren’t alone. You have me, Mom, Dad, Maria and Alex. Just think how much lonelier you’d be if we hadn’t stopped on the highway that night,” Liz said. Michael shuddered at the thought and nodded.
“I know I’m lucky, but I sometimes wonder if there’s something or someone else out there, you know?” he replied. Liz nodded and followed his eyes to the bright stars in the sky. And she wondered, like she often did at night, if one of those stars belonged to her brother. Then she fixed her gaze back at him.
“Don’t you think maybe they would understand better if you told them the truth?” she asked softly. When Michael shook his head, she prodded deeper.
“But you were able to tell Maria and Alex. Why can’t you tell Mom and Dad?” she questioned. When Michael looked her in the eye, she caught the sad expression.
“You know the saying, you can choose your friends, but not your family? That’s kind of how it feels to me. I told Maria and Alex because I trust them and they accept me even though I’m different,” Michael replied. Liz nodded slowly.
“But Michael, Mom and Dad did choose you. They found you, they brought you home and they made you a part of our family. They didn’t have to, but they did. Just remember that, ok?” she whispered, squeezing Michael’s arm. He nodded and gave her a brief hug.
“Thanks Lizzie, you always see things like nobody else,” he replied. Liz smiled at her brother and pushed him towards the fire escape.
“Now go and let Maria know you’re ok, and then come straight home. We’ve got school tomorrow,” she said. Michael winked at her and slid down the stairs. Liz sighed and climbed into her window, leaving her candles lit for when Michael came home, so he could find his way.

Max Evans sifted through the box on his bed, trying to find his backpack for the next day. The first day of school. He sighed and ran a hand through his dark hair. He looked up at his reflection in the mirror and narrowed his eyes.
He knew he looked normal. From his broad shoulders to his two arms and two legs he looked like the average teenager. But he knew he was different, and this town they’d moved back to was a constant reminder of that fact.
Roswell, New Mexico. Isabel had been excited about moving back, because she thought they could find out more about their past, but Max hadn’t wanted to be reminded every single day that the world he called home, the people he called his parents, weren’t his parents and earth wasn’t his home. He even tried to deny the snippets of memories that he did have of their home planet. He filed them away and ignored Isabel when she talked about the crash, about if there were others out there. He didn’t want to be an alien, he wanted to be anything but what he was.
Max closed his eyes and listened to the slight breeze whispering by outside his open window. He couldn’t ignore the almost electric feeling in the air, how it seemed to be signaling to him. Something was coming, something bigger than destiny, something more like fate. Isabel said it was destiny that brought them back to Roswell, that they were meant to discover the truth about themselves. Max pushed his thoughts aside and looked up as Isabel breezed into his room, giving the clutter a quick glance.
“Moving a bit slow Max?” she asked. Max threw a pillow at his sister and she caught it easily, her face breaking out into a grin. Max smiled a little to himself, the guys at West Roswell High had no idea what was about to hit them with Isabel Evans about to enroll in school. He knew his sister very pretty, and he knew that she often used it to her advantage. She always got what she wanted, in one way or another.
“You know, Alex from across the street said he knows a girl just like you, totally into science and stuff,” Isabel hinted. Max shrugged, not really interested. As much as he wanted to be a normal guy with a girlfriend, he couldn’t get past how hard it was to get to close to people. If he got too close, they might find out who he really was.
“Alex said he’d introduce us to his friends tomorrow at school. So, tomorrow we leave at 7:30, right?” she asked. Max nodded and turned back around to do some more unpacking. He heard Isabel sigh behind him as she left, quietly closing the door behind her. She knew he was unhappy about the move to Roswell. Aspen was their home. He didn’t walk down the street in Aspen and run into five alien-themed tourist attractions within a two block radius. He didn’t feel like all eyes were on him in Aspen. He felt like everyone would look at him and just know their secret. He shuddered at the thought, knowing that they had to be careful, that no one could know the truth.
Falling back on his bed, he tamped down the anticipation he felt. It was nothing, new school, new house, that was all. Nothing was coming, he tried to tell himself. Nothing that might change his life he thought out loud, realizing that even as he tried to convince himself, he didn’t believe it.

TBC . . .

Part 2

Serendipity n. The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them.

Liz glanced up from packing her backpack when she heard the sound of Maria’s car pulling up to the front of the Crashdown. A second later Maria honked the horn and Liz slung her backpack over her shoulder and left her room at a quick walk.
“Michael! Come on, Maria and Alex are here!” she yelled in the direction of the kitchen, where she knew Michael was talking with their parents. She didn’t want to interrupt, she knew they had a lot to talk about, since he’d disappeared for a few days and their mother had been worried. But she also wanted to give her brother an easy out. Michael poked his head around the corner, shooting her a grateful nod and he came out, followed by their mother, who handed Michael his bag and kissed him on the cheek gently.
Liz gave her mother a quick hug before she walked towards the door.
“Bye Mom!” they both called.
“Bye kids, have a good first day of school,” she replied.
Liz and Michael practically raced down the stairs and Michael maneuvered around Liz to get to the front door of Maria’s Jetta before she could. Liz gave a sound of protest and Maria shrugged from the driver’s seat, her eyes sparkling at Michael’s return to his normal playful self. Alex rolled down his window and grinned at Liz.
“Come on Parker, the backseat has your name all over it,” he reassured her. Liz wrinkled her nose in fake disgust.
“But, doesn’t that mean I have to sit next to you?” she asked. Alex rolled his eyes and she grinned, walking around the back of the car to get in behind Maria. As soon as everyone was safely inside Maria pulled away from the Crashdown and headed towards the high school.
“Hey, guys, we have to find Max and Isabel Evans before school starts this morning. I promised we’d show them around,” Alex said. Maria looked at Liz in the rearview mirror and they shared a secret smile.
“This wouldn’t have anything to do with your sudden infatuation with this Isabel Evans, would it?” Maria teased. Alex tried not to smile and he leaned back, stretching his arms along the backseat of the car.
“Nope, not at all,” Alex said nonchalantly. Liz nodded, trying to look like she believed him. Michael glanced back at his best friend and then looked at his sister.
“Ok, I know I’ve been out in the woods for a few days, but what the heck are you guys talking about?” Michael asked, his eyes puzzled.
“New kids at school. Isabel and Max Evans just moved back to town from Aspen. They lived here like ten years ago, but left before any of us met them,” Maria explained as she effortlessly pulled her car into one of the parking spaces at school. They all piled out and headed for the open green grass of the front lawn. Michael put an arm around Maria and she put her arm around his waist, chatting happily with her friend. Liz smiled at them, wondering if they realized how much they looked like a couple when they “casually” touched each other. She didn’t even think that either of them knew how much they really meant to one another.
Suddenly, she was ripped out of her thoughts by Alex pulling her around by her waist. She dropped her bag and giggled out loud as he turned her in a circle. Alex took every opportunity he could to spin her around, he knew how much she’d loved the merry-go-round at the playground in elementary school. After a few minutes Liz’s stomach ached from laughing so hard and she and Alex tumbled to the ground, leaning against one another as they gasped for air. Maria knelt down and helped Liz up.
“Looks like trouble. Kyle Valenti has been staring at you since we got here. He looked especially unhappy when Alex grabbed you,” Maria whispered in her ear. Liz glanced back where Maria was looking and saw the stormy look in Kyle’s eyes. She sighed and shrugged.
“Kyle’s harmless. I just need to explain to him today that we were just a summer thing. I’m sure he’ll understand,” Liz said, doing her best to reassure Maria. Maria looked at her skeptically, but finally nodded. Maria finally brightened and she tugged at the front pocket of her bag, pulling out her schedule.
“Ok, now what classes do we have together?” Maria asked excitedly. Liz grinned and pulled out her own schedule, huddling with Maria over the papers. Maria groaned out loud.
“Oh my God, we have P.E. first period? Isn’t that cruel and unusual punishment? Can you just imagine running the track field in the middle of winter at 8am?”Maria lamented. Liz smiled and patted Maria’s arm gently. They went back to examining their schedules when Liz heard Alex call across the lawn.
“Isabel! Over here!”

Isabel looked at her brother’s sullen face as they pulled into the high school where they’d be spending the next three years of their education. She sighed.
“God Max, could you look any unhappier?” she asked, climbing down from the jeep. Max sighed out loud and rested his head on the back of the seat, not really watching as his sister began to walk across the grass towards Alex, the guy they’d met last night. Max closed his eyes and soaked up the feeling of the sun on his face.
Maybe he should just try and make the best of things. It couldn’t be that bad, and Alex had seemed like a really cool guy. He straightened up and searched behind his chair for his backpack, finally finding it. Besides, Alex had said he hung out with a group of fun people. His best friend Michael and Michael’s sister and her best friend. He frowned, he couldn’t remember if Alex had mentioned their names.
He shrugged and started to climb down from the jeep, surveying the direction Isabel had gone in a few minutes ago. He saw her talking with Alex in the middle of the lawn and nearby another guy and two girls stood. He could see the face of the blond girl and the guy, they were facing another girl with long brown hair as they all looked at their schedules.
His feet were just touching the ground when the other girl turned around to pull Alex and Isabel into their circle, her long, straight hair swinging gently as she moved. He froze as his eyes locked on her face.
God, she was beautiful.
She looked like a vision that he only could have conjured up in his imagination or dreamed about at night.
She was laughing at something, an easy smile revealing perfect teeth and a round mouth. She looked so tiny and her petite frame moved with ease and comfort around the people she was with. Her hands were gesturing in the air, fingers moving excitedly as she talked to the other guy with Alex, a tall guy with spiky hair.
But Max’s attention was drawn to the angel standing in the middle of the group, at her laughing eyes and how even though she was easily the smallest person, she almost seemed to bring his gaze towards her. It was like gravity, how she was almost pulling him towards her.
But he couldn’t get his feet to move, to walk over and talk to her. So he watched from a distance as Alex pulled Isabel over to her and they were introduced. The girl had such an open smile and he watched as his sister leaned forward and gave her an answering grin. Isabel wasn’t usually that open with strangers, but this girl seemed to make it easier. Isabel turned to meet the other girl, the one with short blond hair and the three girls formed a circle, effectively shutting out the two guys. Alex traded glances with the other guy and rolled his eyes, trying to look irritated though Max could see he was pleased the three girls were already getting along.
Just when he thought he might be able to walk over to the group, the girls started to break away and head for the school buildings. His heart dropped as he watched her go, wanting with every fiber of his being to run after her and grab her shoulder, turn her around and lean his head close to hers. Close enough that he could feel her eyes looking up at him, close enough that he could smell her perfume and examine the facets of her face. Close enough that he could touch her.
Shaking his head, Max tried to clear his vision. He’d almost run after a girl he didn’t even know. He didn’t know her name, he didn’t know if she had a boyfriend. His eyes turned cloudy as reality came crashing back. The only thing he did know for certain was that he couldn’t ever run up to her like he wanted. Because he could never be normal, like she was. But she’d made him forget, if even for a few seconds.
Max looked up as Alex and the other guy approached. He suddenly felt embarrassed, he’d been standing by the jeep, just watching the group for awhile. Now he probably looked even more weird than before. Alex clapped him on the back and pulled the other guy over. Max tried to push thoughts of the dark haired girl out of his mind and concentrate.
“Max, this is Michael Parker, my best friend. Michael, this is Max Evans, my new across the street neighbor,” Alex introduced. Max looked up at Michael and thought he felt a flash of recognition.
Impossible, he thought, he never would have met Michael before. They’d barely lived in Roswell before they’d moved years ago.
“Good to meet you Max. Your sister said that you’ve got P.E. first like the rest of us. We thought we’d all go together,” Michael replied as the warning bell rang in the distance.
“Thanks, that would be great. Alex mentioned you last night, have you lived here all your life?” Max asked. When Michael paused for a minute before answering Max was a little surprised. But then he spoke up and Max thought maybe he’d imagined it.
“Pretty much. My sister and I live at the Crashdown Café, which our parents own. She and Maria are waitresses there and I do a lot of the odd jobs around the restaurant,” Michael replied. Max listened carefully, wondering if the dark haired girl was Maria or Michael’s sister. He didn’t want to ask too many questions, so he thought he’d try to piece together as much information as possible.
“And I am a professional booth warmer. I mostly hang out at the Crashdown and watch my friends work,” Alex joked. Michael grinned and punched him in the arm.
“You know if you want a job my parents would hire you,” Michael pointed out.
“But you see, that’s the idea. I don’t want a job. And besides, you know I go there to enjoy the view,” Alex replied. Michael gave him a stern look.
“Hey, that’s my sister and Maria you’re talking around. And you know Liz and Maria would come after you if they heard you say that in front of them,” Michael replied as the three guys casually walked towards the gym. Max had been enjoying the comfortable conversation until his ears perked up at the sound of the other girl’s name. Liz? Was the dark haired girl, his Dreamgirl, was she Liz? Something inside him, some kind of recognition, told him said that she was.
“That’s why I don’t say that kind of stuff in front of them,” Alex grinned as he pushed the doors to the gym wide open. They filed in and found the gym classes scattered over the basketball courts, everyone talking and laughing over their summer activities. Max followed Michael and Alex closely, but also scanned the heads of as many students as possible. They were waiting for the teachers to show up and take role when Alex left and came back with a basketball, dribbling it in front of them.
“Did you see the girls?” Michael asked. Alex shook his head.
“They’re around here somewhere, we’ll catch up to them. Hey, did you see Kyle Valenti staring at Liz this morning? What’s his problem?” Alex asked. Michael turned to Max to explain.
“Liz and Kyle sort of went out over the summer and even though she’s kept things casual, he’s got them married with 2.5 kids already. She’s going to tell him she wants to just be friends today,” Michael explained. Alex nodded and the two guys began a game of one on one. Max watched them for a minute until Alex motioned him over and he smiled, joining the two guys. He’d find his Dreamgirl soon enough, and he had a feeling he’s know when she was close.

“Wow, who is that guy?” Isabel asked, gesturing her head towards a tall guy sporting a varsity jacket. Maria and Liz critiqued him quickly.
“Scott Johnson. Junior, quarterback on the varsity football. Very cute,” Maria replied. Liz wrinkled her nose.
“Yeah, but he cheated off of me in Algebra last year,” Liz replied.
“Maybe he just has trouble in math,” Isabel said hopefully.
“And Physical Science. And History. And English. Need I continue?” Liz asked. Isabel giggled and shook her head. Maria smiled at the other two girls and then they returned to their guy watching.
Isabel couldn’t keep the smile off of her face. They’d been in town only a few days and she’d already met a group of people she felt like she could be friends with. Especially Maria and Liz, she desperately wanted them to accept her. Because no matter how much she tried not to think like Max, she was different, and her insecurities sometimes came to the surface and she worried just as much as Max that everyone might discover who they really were.
“Hey, Isabel, where’s this brother of yours?” Maria asked. Isabel frowned and searched around for Max, hoping he wasn’t sitting off to the side somewhere by himself.
“I don’t see him,” she replied.
“Well, what’s he look like?” Maria prodded.
“Um, well, he’s kind of tall, dark hair, brown eyes. Just look for someone that isn’t smiling,” Isabel said dryly.
“Well, ok, how bout cute? Is he cute?” Maria continued to press. Isabel looked at her as though she’s sprouted another head.
“I don’t know, I guess so. I don’t look at him like that! Would you call your brother cute, Liz?” Isabel asked. Liz smiled and gave Maria an evil glance.
“I don’t know, what do you think Maria?” she asked innocently. Maria blushed widely and avoided the question.
Suddenly, Maria bounced up and gestured to them.
“I’m going to check out the girl’s bathroom. See who’s smoking now, who got who over the summer and when we can expect the next big breakup in the quad during lunch,” Maria announced. Liz smiled, deciding to let Maria get away with avoiding the Michael issue this time.
“I’ll go with you, I need to find all these gossip hot spots,” Isabel replied. Maria nodded.
“I think I’ll stay here and just wait for you guys. I don’t think I can handle some of that heavy chatter right now,” Liz replied, looking up from her journal. The other two girls nodded and moved off, leaving Liz to write in her journal.
The sounds of the people in the gym around her seemed to slow down and fade as she absorbed herself in writing down her thoughts. The talking kids, the dribbling of a basketball, it all became background noise. She was so oblivious to the world around her that she didn’t notice for a few seconds when someone sat next to her. She looked up with a smile over her face, expecting Michael or Alex. She tried not to let the smile fall when she saw it was Kyle. And he did not look happy.
“So, how’s it going?” she asked, trying to sound casual.
“What were you doing with Alex Whitman this morning?” he asked angrily. Liz was confused. What was he talking about?
“What? Kyle—“
“What the hell were you doing, letting him touch you like that?” Kyle asked, his voice becoming ugly and mean. Liz recoiled a little, but stopped when she felt his hand grip her arm in a tight hold that would probably leave a bruise. She winced.
“Alex is one of my best friends. We play around all the time,” she insisted in a calm voice, hoping to settle Kyle down. His face only hardened further.
“Not when you’re my girlfriend you don’t,” he replied, leaving no room for argument. Liz felt her back stiffen at his words. He had no right to treat her like that.
“Fine. Then I’m not your girlfriend. Not that I ever was.”

Max was grinning as he raced around Alex to reach the basketball hoop. His sneakers squeaked against the floor until he leapt off the ground and threw the ball, aiming for the basket. As it fell through with an almost silent swish, Max gave a whoop and high fived Alex. Michael leaned on his knees with his hands, panting slightly as he glanced at the two guys.
“I’m not sure that was fair, you didn’t say Max could play basketball,” Michael pointed out to Alex, who merely shrugged. Max grinned and felt the rushing of his blood starting to slow down again when he looked across the gym. What he saw make his heart pound with fury.
Some guy was shoving and pulling the dark haired girl, his Dreamgirl, out of her seat. The guy pushed her against the wall despite her struggles. Max clenched his fists and took off towards them when he heard Alex call after him.
“Max, what’s going—“
“What the hell is Kyle doing to my sister?” Michael replied, his voice full of anger. Max didn’t have to look behind him to know that Alex and Michael were following close behind now. They cleared a path towards where she was, pinned against the wall and the guy, her eyes wide and frightened as she looked into his face.
Max didn’t know what he was doing. Isabel would be shocked at his behavior and even though he might regret acting so quickly later on, one look at her face told him otherwise. Because he couldn’t stand to see her so scared. He knew it wasn’t a good idea, that she had Michael and Alex. But somehow he could sense that even though they could protect her, that she’d be fine under their care, that she needed him.
And that he needed to help her.

TBC . . .

Part 3

Serendipity n. The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them.

Liz felt her eyes go wide as Kyle shoved her against the gym wall. Her vision went white as her head slammed against the tile wall and she heard a crack behind her. Kyle was pushing her like she was a ragdoll as he practically yelled in her face. She vaguely heard him repeating over and over that she wouldn’t leave him, and that she would always be his girlfriend. She just prayed that he would let her go.
And in an instant, he did.
Liz looked up from where she’d fallen on the floor when Kyle’s hands had let go of her. Her hair fell around her face and she pushed it back to see a dark haired guy that she didn’t recognize pulling Kyle away from her. She was dazed, but she did notice his dark eyes glaring at Kyle as though he’d committed some mortal sin. Liz felt the back of her head and tears came to her eyes as she put too much pressure on the knot forming at the base of her skull.
Suddenly, the guy pushed Kyle behind him and away from her and Liz sighed in relief, letting a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding out with a rush. She realized somewhere in the back of her mind that she was crumpled on the floor, the only thing keeping her from falling over being the gym wall behind her back. And for a second she thought she felt Kyle’s hands on her arms again and she began to shake.
Liz looked up, tears running down her face as the guy who had pulled Kyle away was suddenly in front of her kneeling down so he was at eye level. Without a word she looked into his dark brown eyes, now soft and gentle as he gazed at her. And when he reached out to brush away the tears on her cheeks she almost began to cry again at the gentle feeling of his hand grazing her skin.
And then he was helping her up, careful as he caught her waist and pulled her against him as she leaned on him for support. She clung to his shirt, needing to draw some of his strength in. His fingers brushed her sides as he sat her down on the bleachers next to the wall and he kneeled down once again, just below her eye level. His hands were on her knees and her skin almost burned through the fabric of her jeans from his warm fingers. When he looked into her eyes again she felt the kindness and concern he felt for her and she managed to muster a small smile.
And then she realized she didn’t know him, and he didn’t know her. But he’d helped her, he’d pulled Kyle away and made her feel safe.
“I’m Liz Parker,” she whispered, her voice soft sounding in her own ears.
“I’m Max Evans,” he replied, having to clear his throat before he talked. Liz nodded and then she thought for a second.
“Isabel’s brother?” she asked, her mind searching. Max nodded, surprised she even remembered. His heart jumped as she covered his hands on her knees with her own.
“Thank you for helping me,” she replied, her eyes once again filling with tears. Max felt the lump in his throat return and his stomach twist in a knot. He couldn’t stand that she was crying, that she was hurt. He reached up to wipe the tears away and his hand lingered next to her face. At her sudden beautiful smile he felt an answering grin tugging at his own mouth when Liz suddenly looked up and behind him, her face turning white.
“Michael! No! Alex!” she cried, struggling to stand up. Max turned his head to look at what had caught her attention. He remembered vaguely that he’s pulled the guy, Kyle, away from Liz and basically shoved him towards Michael and Alex, who had been following him over to Liz. What happened to Kyle hadn’t been his care or concern, as his attention had been focused on the girl he’d been abusing.
Now, Michael and Alex had Kyle shoved against the nearby wall and Michael was yelling at Kyle while Alex kept him pinned. Even from far away Max could see the tension in Michael’s shoulders and the barely concealed anger in Alex’s lean form as he effectively kept Kyle immobile. Max turned back to Liz as she was trying to stand up and he noticed the tangible fear rolling off her in waves. Her eyes were locked on her brother as she stood and swayed forward, her eyes closing as she felt a wave of dizziness.
Max was instantly there, gripping her waist as her hands fell on his shoulders and she leaned against him. With her flush against him, her head leaning on his shoulder, Max closed his eyes, taking a deep breath of her hair, right next to his face. He felt it brush against his cheek and the smell of roses wafted up to his nose. His body shuddered against the feeling of her petite frame pressed up against him and he tried to push aside the desire he had to wrap her up in his arms as she finally lifted her head to look at Michael. He could see how weak she was and still dazed from when Kyle had slammed her against the wall.
“Michael . . .” her voice trailed off and Max glanced back over his shoulder where Michael and Alex were doing a good job of putting the fear of God into Kyle. He looked back at Liz and saw her pleading eyes. Without a word, he leaned down and picked her up, his arm sweeping her legs up as her arms gripped his shoulders and he cradled her against his chest. He could tell she was in no shape to walk over to Michael and Alex, so he simply decided to take her there himself. Because, for some reason, he could tell she wanted her brother to stop beating Kyle up.
As they got closer to the three boys, the P.E. teachers finally made an entrance and ran over to pull the fighting teenagers apart. Immediately Michael and Alex stopped fighting and they both looked towards Liz, needing to know that she was ok. Both guys smiled, seeing that she was safe and that Max had her. Kyle was struggling against Mr. Samson and he only began to calm down when the three guys were questioned about why they’d been fighting.
“Parker, this behavior I’d almost expect from you, but Whitman, what were you thinking? Fighting on the first day of school? That’s suspension for three days minimum,” Mrs. Cooper said, her voice livid. Michael rolled his eyes at the teacher, almost looking bored.
“I was thinking that Valenti was physically assaulting my best friend’s sister and that he shouldn’t be allowed to shove her against the wall hard enough to crack the tile with her head,” Alex replied, his voice even though the fury was evident. The teachers looked shocked for a minute until they followed Alex’s direction to a spot of tile where the square was completely split and a spiderweb design snaked across the surrounding pieces. Kyle finally looked up sullenly and he exploded at the sight of Max holding Liz tightly against his chest.
“NO! Put her down you bastard! She’s mine, don’t touch her!” Kyle yelled. Max instantly backed away as Liz’s hands tightened on his shoulders and he felt her back stiffen. She didn’t want to be anywhere near Kyle and he was only too happy to comply.
“Ok, we’ll settle this at the Principal’s Office. Valenti, Parker, Whitman, you’re all coming with me. Liz, are you ok?” Mrs. Cooper asked Liz, her eyes concerned. Liz nodded and looked up at Max.
“I’m fine, thanks to Max. He pulled Kyle away from me,” Liz said, her voice holding a tone of wonder at his actions. Max gave her a small smile and held her eyes until the teacher interrupted them.
“Max Evans? One of the new kids, right? You saw what happened?” she asked. Max nodded on all counts. “Ok, could you please take Liz to the Nurse’s Office and then come to the Principal’s Office, we need to sort this out.”
“Take care of my sister Max,” Michael called as the teachers led him, Alex and Kyle away. Max caught the serious tone and steady gaze and knew Michael was dead serious.
Max nodded and then turned around to carry Liz out of the gym when his sister and the other girl, Max assumed it was Maria, came rushing up. Both girls looked worried and concerned and Max caught the shock on Isabel’s face at the sight of Max holding Liz in his arms.
“Oh, my God! Lizzie, are you ok? We were in the girl’s locker room when we heard there was a fight. Someone said you were hurt!” Maria gasped. Liz tried to calm her friend down.
“I’m fine, Maria, really. Kyle just took the news of our breakup really badly. Michael, Alex and Max helped me though,” Liz said, again gracing Max with a smile. He felt his pulse quicken and he began to wonder how much of her gorgeous smile he could take before he literally died of happiness. Isabel was studying him closely and he caught her wary eyes, shaking his head slightly. She immediately eased and Max knew she’d been worried that he had used his powers to save Liz.
And then the thought came suddenly, unbidden in his mind. He would have used his powers to save Liz. Something he never could have imagined before, wanting to risk his secret to help someone, was suddenly a living, breathing reality in his arms. And she felt so perfect, nestled in his arms, like she was meant to rest there. Finally, Liz had reassured Maria enough to allow Max to take Liz to the nurse and Max effortlessly carried her down the empty halls, letting her give him directions as they went.
“I’m sorry you got pulled into all this Max,” Liz said. Max looked at her in amazement. How could he have not responded to her in so much pain?
“There’s nothing to be sorry about. I’m just sorry that he hurt you before I got to you,” Max admitted. Liz studied his face for a few seconds, wondering at how this complete stranger had become her knight in shining armor.
As he shifted her a little in his arms, Liz closed her eyes and leaned her head against his shoulder. She was suddenly so tired and it felt so good to have Max’s strong arms holding her close. She knew he would never drop her and that he would ensure that she was safe. Her eyes snapped open as she remembered that Max was still someone she didn’t know, even if it felt like she’d known him all her life. And she suddenly felt more than a little embarrassed that he was carrying her down the hallway.
“You know, I think I can make it to the Nurse’s Office ok. I don’t want you to miss any more class because of me. Plus, you shouldn’t have to drag me down the hall,” Liz commented, wanting to give Max an easy out. Max looked at her, his eyes incredulous at her words.
“First, it’s no trouble to take you to the nurse, you must live on lettuce or something,” Max said. Liz blushed at his words and tried not to laugh out loud.
“And there is no way I’m just going to leave you in the middle of the hallway. I told Michael I’d take care of you and I will. And Liz, it’s P.E., not Biology or something,” Max said, doing his best to ease her mind. Liz’s eyes lit up at his words.
“I can’t wait for biology this year. I have Mrs. Hardy fourth period and she’s supposed to be a great teacher,” Liz said. Max felt his heart leap at her words.
“I have Mrs. Hardy fourth period too,” he replied softly. Liz smiled at his words.
“That’s great! We can sit together. Alex said you were into science, so I’m glad we have that class together. What other classes do you have?” she asked. Max recited off his schedule and Liz told him hers. They found that they shared P.E. first period, Biology fourth, Geometry sixth and History seventh. They also both had fifth period lunch, just like the rest of their friends. As Max carried Liz into the Nurse’s Office they were still talking over their schedules when Miss Collins looked up and rushed over to them.
“Liz, Mrs. Cooper said you were hurt, why don’t you bring her into the back room please . . .” she trailed off, looking at Liz curiously.
“Miss Collins, this is Max Evans, my own personal knight in shining armor,” Liz introduced, making Max blush and duck his head at Liz’s bright smile. Max carried her the rest of the way into the office and gently placed her on the cot, careful not to move her too quickly. As he let go her hands slid down his shoulders to his hands and she clutched his hands in her own.
“Thank you again Max,” Liz said, unable to think of any other way of showing her appreciation.
“Are you sure you’ll be ok?” he asked, unable to keep the worry out of his voice. She nodded, touched by his concern. He backed away reluctantly and held her eyes with his own until her turned to leave. She watched him go until he stepped outside the office and glanced back once more through the window before heading down the hall.
Liz sighed loudly and tried to will her heart rate to slow down. She couldn’t believe the effect Max Evans had on her. Even with all that had happened with Kyle, she couldn’t ignore how it felt to have Max holding her safe in his arms, how he’d protected her, a girl he didn’t even know. She closed her eyes and leaned her head against the pillow, already feeling lonely without Max right next to her.

“Liz! Over here!” Maria called, shoving her way through the throng of students to get to her friend across the hallway. Liz had just exited the Nurse’s Office and Maria had been walking there to check on her right after third period. Liz looked up and smiled before making her way over to Maria.
“Hey, are you ok? Shouldn’t you be at home?” Maria asked.
“I’m fine. Miss Collins let me rest and she said if I felt up to it I could stay today. And it’s the first day, I don’t want to miss anything,” Liz said. Maria rolled her eyes, noting that it was perfectly Lizzie behavior, to have gotten hurt and still want to stay at school all day. Liz suddenly looked a little worried.
“Do you know what happened to Kyle? I really don’t think I could handle walking into him right now,” Liz admitted.
“His father came to get him after first. And Michael and Alex are fine. They got off with a stern warning because they should have gotten a teacher, but Max telling them exactly what Kyle was doing to you really helped them,” Maria replied, noting how Liz’s eyes lit up at the mention of Max’s name.
“Did you see Max? Where did you see him?” Liz asked. Maria grinned.
“Calm down girl, he was leaving the Principal’s Office while I was on my way over to see you. Poor guy’s probably lost in the halls with Michael and Alex to guide him,” Maria remarked. Liz relaxed considerably.
“So, he was with Michael and Alex? That’s good, they can show him where the Biology room is,” Liz said, starting to walk with Maria towards her next class.
“Biology, huh? Don’t you have that class next?” Maria asked. Liz nodded, not really catching the hinting tone of Maria’s voice.
“Yes, I do. Max and I talked about our schedules and we decided to sit together in Biology. Where’s Isabel?” Liz asked, quickly changing subjects. Maria’s eyes narrowed, noticing the way Liz had shied away from the subject of Kyle so quickly. She reasoned that maybe Liz just didn’t want to talk about it. But Maria was still worried, Kyle had done more than physically hurt her.
“Isabel has some different classes, so she’s going to meet us at our table for lunch. Here’s your class, you’ll be ok?” Maria asked one more time. Liz gave her a hug and nodded.
“I’ll be fine! And I’ll see you next period for lunch,” Liz promised. Maria nodded and walked away. Liz took a deep breath and peered into the biology room, quickly scanning the students for Max. She frowned in disappointment when she saw that he wasn’t there yet.
“Looking for someone?”
Liz jumped at the low voice in her ear and she turned quickly, trying to cover her flushed face as she came face to face with Max. He was smiling at her slightly, enjoying her reaction. Liz felt positive that he could hear the pounding of her heart as she willed her blood to stop pulsing so quickly. Her reaction to his low, gravely voice had been instantaneous. She cleared her throat quickly.
“Um, well, actually I was, but he doesn’t seem to be here, so I guess you’ll have to do,” Liz teased. Max pretended to look wounded as he opened the door for her to walk through. They took a seat at one of the lab tables and Liz trained her eyes forward, trying to resist the urge to glance over at Max, who was taking notes as Mrs. Hardy spoke. She finally gave in and looked at his profile.
His hair fell just over his forehead and Max reached up to brush back a stray piece, which immediately fell back. Liz smiled and barely managed not to reach out and test the feel of his hair between her fingers. Because she had a feeling it was so soft. Her eyes trailed down his face to his sharp jawline. Even his ears were fascinating, the way they stuck out just a little bit. But they suited his face, she reasoned. Before she even realized how much time had passed she heard Max calling her name.
“Liz? Liz, ready for lunch?” Max called, waving a hand in front of her eyes. She blinked and quickly began to pack her bag. She’d been so preoccupied staring at Max that she hadn’t even heard the bell ring. Max looked at her, perplexed. She’d been staring at him, or so he’d thought. He shook his head, that wasn’t even possible. Girls like Liz Parker never stared at guys like him, especially guys who weren’t from this planet. When a nagging voice in the back of his head reminded him that she didn’t even know that, he pushed it aside. It didn’t matter because he knew that he wasn’t normal.
Liz pulled her backpack on and followed Max out of the science room, noticing how he’d gotten quiet all of a sudden. As she led the way to the lunch table her attention was diverted from Max as Michael rushed up to her and studied her carefully.
“Did he hurt you?” Michael asked, his voice low. Liz realized that she was surrounded by Michael, Alex and Max and she smiled at their protective tendencies.
“I’m fine, really. I don’t know how many times I’m going to have to say it, but Kyle didn’t hurt me in any way that won’t heal,” Liz reassured her brother. Michael looked at her wordlessly, his green eyes searching for any indication that she was just trying to pacify him. As Liz sat down with Maria and Isabel, Michael turned to Alex and Max. Alex looked worried and shook his head.
“I don’t like this. Kyle was really rough with her. Not to mention what he said to her and how he treated her. I know she’s just trying to be strong, but she’s going to break. Especially if she sees Kyle,” Alex observed. Michael nodded and caught Max’s eyes.
“I never got to thank you for helping my sister today. I don’t know how I can ever repay you,” Michael said. Max nodded slightly.
“Just let me help make sure she stays safe,” Max asked, his voice steady. Michael tried not to show his surprise, so he nodded.
“Done. We watch her, make sure Kyle stays away. And if she falls apart, make sure she’s not alone,” Michael said, keeping his voice low.
Alex nodded his support and Max affirmed with a nod too. He turned his gaze to look at the three girls sitting and laughing at the table. He would make sure that she wasn’t alone and that he’d be there, whenever she needed him.

TBC . . .

Proud to be a Dreamer!!

Liz: I could feel everything he was feeling. I could feel his loneliness. For the first time I was really seeing Max Evans. I saw me as he saw me, and the amazing thing was, in his eyes, I was beautiful.
Liz: The difficult part is when you follow your heart, you leave normal, you go into the unknown. And once you do, you can never go back.
Max: You're my dream girl, Liz.
Max: What's so great about normal?
posted on 16-Sep-2001 7:31:34 PM
Part 4

Serendipity n. The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them.

“Hey! Can I get some service out here?”
Maria poked her head around the back door of the Crashdown and rolled her eyes at Alex, who was waving his menu in the air from where he sat at their regular booth in the café. He gave her a grin and raised his eyebrows suggestively and she stuck her tongue out at him before she returned to job. She was helping Michael restock the supplies in the kitchen while Liz watched the front. All three were working the afternoon shift after their first day at school while Alex occupied the near empty dining room.
Liz walked over to Alex’s table and set his drink down without saying a word. She gave him a pointed glance and he smiled innocently before she moved back behind the counter, filling the coffee maker and moving to clean the milkshake machine. Alex was about to return to his book when he heard a car pull up outside the Crashdown. He turned to look and grinned at the sight of Isabel and Max Evans getting out of the jeep.
“I don’t think we could even try to be more blatant or obvious,” Max muttered, gesturing to the UFO-themed restaurant. Isabel sighed and turned to face him.
“Look, Max, nothing is going to change the fact about who we are. Besides, wouldn’t it be better to hide out in the open, where no one would even guess? You can take your glass-is-half-empty viewpoint, but my glass is half full. Now, I’m going inside, because Alex, Maria, Liz and Michael said we should stop by. Are you coming?” she asked. Max looked around the quiet street and his eyes fell on the large green and yellow sign of the UFO Center across the street. And then he noticed the “Help Wanted” sign. He was starting to see Isabel’s point. Hide in plain sight.
“I’ll be there in a minute,” he murmured. Isabel shrugged and walked inside the café, waving to Liz behind the counter. She turned as Alex called her name and she walked over, sitting across from him at the booth. She blushed at the way he was looking at her, his eyes unable to hide the quiet amazement. She wasn’t used to guys awed by her blonde hair and brown eyes, usually they looked at her like she was their next conquest. It was a change she found very attractive.
“Glad you could make it,” Alex said.
“Where’s Maria?” Isabel asked.
“She’s in the back, doing some stocking thing with Michael. Slave drivers run this place, I’m telling you. Hey Mr. Parker!” Alex called. His voice had been low up until he called out his greeting to Liz’s Dad. Isabel stifled a laugh, remembering that Liz had said her parents owned the restaurant she, Michael and Maria worked at. She glanced back towards the kitchen, mildly curious about Michael. Ever since she’d met him she felt like she should recognize him. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she knew him. She shrugged as Alex began talking, she would remember eventually.
Isabel smiled as Liz approached their table, order pad and neon green pen in hand. She had to bite her lip so that she wouldn’t laugh out loud at the aqua and silver colored uniform Liz was wearing. But the girl seemed to be able to pull it off. Isabel watched Liz look at her and then look around briefly. She realized that Liz was looking for Max and she smiled. Both of them were so obvious, it was sickening.
Suddenly the front doors opened and Max came in, his eyes resting on Liz first and then casting a quick look at Alex and Isabel at the table before returning to Liz. He walked over and sat down next to Isabel, but his eyes never wavered from Liz’s. Both of them wore slight smiles and Isabel forced herself from rolling her eyes as she watched the exchange.
“Hey Max, what can I get you?” Liz asked softly.
“Cherry cola?” he asked. Liz nodded in affirmation and headed behind the counter to get his drink. Isabel caught Max’s attention with a wave in front of his eyes and he looked at her, reluctantly tearing his eyes away from Liz.
“Where’d you go?” she asked, naturally curious about what had delayed his arrival. He sat back, a proud smile on his face.
“I got a job.”
Isabel felt her mouth fall open in shock.
“You got a job? How? Where?” Isabel asked. Max pointed across the street.
“At the UFO Museum. There was a sign, I asked about an application and the guy hired me on the spot. They must be desperate or something. I start tomorrow,” Max said. Liz came over and put his drink down in front of him, catching the last of the conversation.
“That’s great Max! And you’ll be close to the Crashdown too! You don’t work on Wednesday, do you?” Liz asked. Max shook his head, unable to breathe. Why was she asking him when he worked? Did she want to do something?
“No, why?”
Maria’s voice carried across the dining room as she came from the back.
“Wednesday nights are kareoke night at the Pizza Pan. We never miss is,” Maria said, elbowing Michael in the side as they came towards the table. Both Michael and Alex rolled their eyes a little, but Max noticed they didn’t look particularly unhappy.
“And since you two are new in town, you’ll have to join us in a song,” Liz said, winking at Max. Her playful expression had him at a loss for words until he realized that Liz was suggesting that he sing.
Out loud. In public.
“Um, I don’t sing,” he tried to argue until Liz leaned over the table to look at him directly in the eyes. He forced himself not to glance down at the front of her uniform, because he knew it was low cut.
“Oh, you will sing on Wednesday,” Liz promised before she was called back to the counter by a customer. Max watched her go, tuning out the conversation that Isabel and Alex were having. His eyes followed her as she smiled and laughed at what the customer was saying. He could tell she was listening carefully to what the woman was saying, her head was bent over and she wrote the order down on her order pad. Liz was nodding and turning to place the order when she bumped her arm against the edge of the counter.
Even though she was all the way across the diner, he heard her cry out. In an instant he was on his feet, crossing the room in three strides. She was clutching her arm as he came up next to her behind the counter. She heard his coming and she looked up at him, her expression pained. He could see she was trying not to cry and he touched her chin briefly.
“You ok?” he asked gently. She stood up straight and nodded.
“I’m fine. I just hit a bruise on my arm, it’s fine,” she repeated. Max was doubtful, she was trying to hide her pain and it worried him.
“Are you sure?” he pressed.
“Yes I’m sure!” she snapped, her tone harsh. Instantly she was sorry and she looked at Max, seeing how he hadn’t even flinched or backed away. “I’m sorry, I guess I’m just getting a little tired with how everyone keeps asking me if I’m fine.”
Max nodded in understanding, knowing that she hadn’t been angry at him. And even if she had been, he wasn’t about to let that scare him away. She seemed jumpy and he could tell she was tired.
“You’ve had a long day,” he said, his tone low and soothing. She turned to look at him and smiled.
“Thanks for understanding Max,” she said. He nodded, and was about to return to the booth when Liz looked behind his shoulder, towards the front door, and froze. He followed her gaze and tried not to wince as her fingers on his arm dug into his skin. A middle-aged man had walked in and Max realized by the badge and gun he wore that he was the sheriff of Roswell. Max was still puzzled about why Liz seemed so scared, but Max stayed right next to her, waiting and watching. He got closer and Max read the man’s nametag. Valenti.
“Liz, how are you?” he asked as he took off his hat and regarded her carefully. Max thought he saw sadness in the man’s eyes and he realized the sheriff was feeling remorse for what his son had done. Liz swallowed carefully.
“I’m fine sheriff, really,” she replied, her voice wavering just a little.
“I wanted to apologize for Kyle’s behavior earlier today. I know it doesn’t excuse what he did, but he hasn’t been the same since his mother left, he’s been so angry. He knows to stay away from you, and he’d better. If he bothers you at all, please tell me Miss Parker,” the sheriff said. Liz nodded and he tipped his hat to her before leaving. Liz looked back at Max, her eyes full or fear and he turned her around to face him, knowing what she was afraid of without her saying it.
“He won’t come near you Liz, I promise,” he replied. Liz nodded and instantly felt better. She believed him. Somehow she believed that Max would protect her. She finally released his arm with an apologetic smile and he smiled back at her. As he sat down on one of the stools on the other side of the counter she wondered how they’d already gotten to the point that she could read his expressions so easily. Because she could tell that he wasn't very open with a lot of people. But she could tell by his slight smiles and warm eyes what he was thinking. Shaking her head and trying not to stare she poured hi another drink, setting it down in front of him.
“On the house. Thank you Max,” she said, the last sentence coming out a whisper. He nodded sipped his drink as she worked behind the counter. As he reached for the bottle of Tabasco sauce next to the napkin dispenser and began to pour a heavy amount into his drink Liz’s head shot up in surprise. He was twisting the cap back on and caught the surprised look on her face.
“What?” he asked.
“Nothing. I just never saw anybody else except Michael who likes Tabasco sauce like that,” she said, watching with a measure of amazement as he drank the cherry cola and Tabasco sauce.
“Weird taste buds, I guess,” Max shrugged. She nodded and returned to her cleaning, looking up every few minutes as Max would ask her a question or she would ask him something about his home in Colorado. She didn’t even realize that hours had gone by until she saw that Alex and Isabel were gone and it was almost closing time. Max was still sitting at the counter when she came back from locking the front door. He smiled at her and she barely resisted the urge not to touch him in some small way. He’d stayed with her all afternoon, talking to her and keeping her mind away from Kyle. And she felt like she’d gotten to know him better.
“Guess I should head on home,” Max said, his tone telling her he didn’t really want to leave. She grinned and nodded, comforting herself that she’d see him soon enough. She walked with him over to the door and let him out.
“See you tomorrow in school,” Liz said, waving as he walked away. He raised his hand in response and nodded before disappearing down the sidewalk. She locked the door and finished closing up before heading upstairs.
Max leaned against the light pole outside the Crashdown and watched as the lights dimmed in the dining room and a light in the upstairs apartments went on. He’d seen Liz climb up the stairs and he assumed that she was in her bedroom. He pushed away from the pole and gripped the fire escape loosely with his hands. He was debating whether or not to climb up and make sure she was fine. She’d seemed ok, even after Kyle’s dad had come in. He’d kept her mind off of the events earlier in the day, telling her stories that he’d never dreamed he would have shared with anyone. Anything to keep her from thinking too much about what had been done to her.
The decision already made in his mind, he grabbed onto the ladder and climbed up as quickly and quietly as he could. He paused at the top and peeked over the edge, not wanting Liz to see him and think he was a crazy stalker. Max looked around the balcony and took in the lounge chair, cactus and candles. It looked like a place Liz went to be alone, a place where she could relax. He saw her move in her room and then she was standing near the window where he could see her.
She’d changed out of her uniform and into a pair of pajama pants and a white tank top. He felt his stomach threaten to heave at the sight of the bruises over her golden skin. The marks on her upper arms looked like fingerprints and they were an ugly green shade. As Liz turned to examine her arm he was faced with the expanse of her back and he struggled to keep silent at the sight of the dark red on her back where blood vessels had broken under the skin when Kyle had thrown her against the tile wall.
By her careful movements and her face scrunched up in pain he could tell she was stiff and hurting. As he gripped onto the ladder and fought internally over his desire to comfort her and his desire to stay hidden he heard a sound that made his heart ache even more. He opened his eyes and watched as Liz hugged her arms close to her body and began to cry.

TBC . . .

Part 5

Serendipity n. The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them.

Liz closed her eyes to push the sight of the bruises on her body out of her mind. She didn’t know what was wrong with her. She’d been fine all day in class, after school at the Crashdown and sitting talking to Max all evening. Even when Kyle’s dad had come in, she’d frozen momentarily, but everything that had happened just hadn’t seemed real. And now, she was standing in front of her mirror, faced with the reality that someone she had trusted had violated her.
She knew the bruises and pain would fade away, but she didn’t feel safe. And she didn’t even entirely blame Kyle. His dad had mentioned that Kyle was going through a lot and suddenly she began to wonder if maybe all the stress of his mom leaving, plus her announcement, had just been too much. Opening her eyes and staring at her reflection, tears streaming down her face, Liz wondered if maybe it was her fault. Maybe she’d been leading Kyle on, maybe she’d brought his anger down on herself.
A soft knock on her bedroom door made her jump. She quickly wiped at her face and tried to calm her pounding heart. Walking towards the door, she tentatively reached for the knob, closing her fist tightly when she saw her hand shaking.
“Who is it?” she called, forcing her voice not to waver. There was a pause before her brother answered.
“Lizzie, it’s me. Are you ok?”
She leaned her head against the door and rested a hand flat on the wood. Closing her eyes, she took deep breaths. Michael could be so kind, the perfect brother, the perfect protector. But she knew if he saw her he’d been enraged. And then Kyle would have more than suspension to worry about.
“I’m fine Michael, just tired. I think I’m going to call it a night.”
Liz listened to the silence and she could sense his disbelief through the door. She knew he didn’t believe her and she knew he’d either let it go and allow her to heal on her own, or he’d come crashing through the door. She prayed he’d curb his impulsive streak.
“Are you sure? I thought . . . I thought I heard you crying.”
Liz felt the tears well up in her eyes at the sadness in his voice. He sounded like a little boy, and so sorry for anything he’d ever done. He’d had the same tone in his voice when he’d accidentally broken one of her favorite porcelain dolls when they were ten. She couldn’t bear to hear that tone and not reassure him.
But she couldn’t. She realized that Michael wasn’t the one who could help her.
“I’m really ok Michael. Please, don’t worry about me. Just go to bed and I’ll see you tomorrow, ok?” Liz pleaded with him.
Michael trudged off slowly, she could barely make out his padded footsteps down the hall. Sighing, she turned away from the door and pulled down the sheets to her bed. She decided to do exactly what she’d told Michael, try to go to sleep. Her thoughts were running a mile a minute and she wished she could talk to someone who would just listen.
She loved her brother, and Maria and Alex, but they had a tendency to do more than listen. And she didn’t want to hear them give her advice. She sighed, sitting on the edge of her bed.
She knew what she wanted. She wanted Max Evans’ soft brown eyes watching her face, making her feel like every word she uttered was important. And she wanted to see the reassuring smile on his face, telling her that whether or not things would be alright, he’d be there for her.
She shook her head. She’d probably imagined all the feelings she’d felt radiating off of Max that afternoon. He’d just been kind to her, helped her out. And here she was, ready to lay her problems on him like he didn’t have anything better to do. He probably hadn’t given her a second thought since he’d left the restaurant.
Her head shot up at the rustling and creaking sound outside her window. She ducked her head to peer out and she realized the sound was someone climbing up her fire escape. She stopped breathing and froze, suddenly terrified that Kyle could be coming to talk to her again. Her eyes wildly darted around her room for a weapon of some kind and she grabbed the Shakespearean textbook by her bed. The book was massive and thick, a good tool at knocking anyone out if thrown at their head.
She saw hands gripping the top of the fire escape and she waited, poised to launch her book at the would be intruder. It couldn’t be Alex or Maria, she knew they would have called first. And Michael was inside. She was convinced it was Kyle until Max Evans’ face peeked up over the edge of the brick wall. Her bedroom window was even with the floor of the balcony, so she and Max were basically at eye level. She gasped and dropped her book immediately, instantly feeling safer knowing that it was just Max. He looked at her warily.
“Hey, Liz, didn’t mean to scare you. Can I come over there?” he asked her. She nodded, watching as he effortlessly pulled himself over the edge of the balcony and walked over to her window, kneeling down so that she still had to look up at him, but not by much. She rested her chin on her folded arms and waited curiously to see why Max was there.
As she watched him sit down in front of her, trying to sit comfortably, she was able to think about how it didn’t seem strange that he was at her window late at night. How she’d been thinking of him seconds before and he suddenly appeared. Just like when Kyle had grabbed her. She’d prayed he would stop and he did, all because of Max.
“What are you doing here Max?” she asked softly. He fidgeted a little, his eyes focusing on one of her candles nearby. She looked at him patiently, willing to wait him out. She had a feeling that Max thought she might be uncomfortable with him showing up at her window, but the feeling was just the opposite. He made her feel safe.
“Um, I was leaving the Crashdown and I just wanted to make sure you were ok. And I wanted to see if you wanted to talk,” he offered. Liz closed her eyes at his words, wondering at the way he seemed to know exactly what she needed. Her eyes snapped open at the feeling on his fingers lightly touching the skin on her arms. She followed his gaze to the bruises on her arms and she watched his eyes harden with anger. She knew without asking what the question in his mind was.
“That’s what Kyle did to me,” she whispered. He nodded slowly and then stood up, taking her hands with his and pulling her out of her room, through her window and standing next to him on the balcony. She was barefoot next to him and found she had to look up even more because he was a head or so taller than her. She watched his eyes soften from anger to a pained expression at the bruises on her body.
He turned her around slowly, her back facing him and she relaxed against his hands on her arms. She closed her eyes and listened to the sound of his breathing, steady and even. When his hand grazed the skin on her back where the most damage had been done she felt her skin rise with goosebumps at his touch. It was a light touch and Max’s hands on her skin had a calming effect on her nerves. And she thought she felt the pain fading away, just a little.
Max took even breaths as he concentrated on healing some of Liz’s injuries. He was barely scratching the surface of her mind, staying on the outskirts and specifically avoiding making a connection with her. Because she’d know exactly what he was doing and then she’d have questions he wasn’t ready to answer. Not yet.
He moved his hand up her back and tried to ignore the silky softness of her skin, telling himself that his purpose was to help Liz heal, not scare her away with his newfound attraction to her. Funny thing was, it didn’t feel new. It felt like he’d known her forever, even though they’d just met less than twenty four hours before. At the nape of her neck his fingers brushed against the base of her skull and he found the tender knot of flesh that had formed after Kyle at thrown her against the tile wall. He touched it gently, tangling his fingers in her soft hair, and eased the pain away with his fingers.
He almost took a step back from her when Liz sighed with contentment and leaned back against his chest. He froze in his spot and looked down at the top of her head, his eyes darting to her arms. He frowned at the goosebumps on her skin, she had to be cold wearing just a tank top outside at night. His hands moved up and down her arms, rubbing gently so that he didn’t aggravate the bruises. She sighed again and he gazed upward at the sky, praying he could restrain himself from turning her around and capturing her mouth with his.
This hadn’t been his intent. He’d intended to just come up, see how she was and offer a listening ear. Instead, he'd gotten close enough to see the mars on her skin and he couldn’t help himself. It was the one time in his life when not being normal had seemed more like a blessing than a curse. He wanted her to trust him, to feel safe with him. And the smell of her, standing so close, was making it increasingly difficult to resist her.
He finally looked down and then cursed his action immediately. Looking down offered him a glance the low neckline of her tank top and the curve of her breasts. He realized quickly that she wasn’t wearing a bra and he groaned inwardly. He should have known it was a bad idea to come up to her room.
Liz enjoyed the warm feeling of Max standing behind her, his hands lightly touching her skin so that she almost wasn’t sure he was touching her. His feather light fingers were careful over the parts of her body that were injured and just when she thought she might drift off to sleep Max turned her around to look at him. She opened her eyes and smiled at him dreamily.
“Thank you Max,” she whispered softly. He nodded his head once, deciding not to ask her what she was thanking him for. She glanced over at her window and then back at Max.
“I think I’m going to go to sleep. Will you come inside and stay with me?” she asked. Seeing the surprised look on his face she realized just how forward she sounded.
“I mean, just keep me company. I feel safe when you’re around,” Liz added, her voice lowering to a whisper at the last sentence. Max nodded slowly and she pulled him over to the window, her fingers laced in his. She ducked inside and Max followed her. She turned off the lights in her room and moved over to the bed, huddling under the covers. Max pulled the blankets around her and then sat on the floor next to her bed, resting his chin on his folded arms as she lay on her side to face him. Even in the dark she could see the glitter of his eyes trained on her face. And with him in her room, closely guarding her, she felt more comfortable than she ever had before.
Michael had watched over her ever since he’d become her brother, but this was different. It was different with Max because he seemed to just know what she needed when she needed it. And she could tell that he was waiting for her, knowing she needed to talk. Taking a deep breath, she spoke.
“I feel like maybe it’s my fault, like maybe Kyle wouldn’t have come after me if I hadn’t led him on.”
She paused before continuing, grateful for the silence from Max as she attempted to sort out her thoughts.
“But that’s crazy, right? I mean, how is it my fault that he hurt me? And I didn’t lead him on. We went out a couple of times, but we never were an official couple or anything. But he was always so nice to me. How could he do that to me? Max, how could he throw me around like that?”
Liz felt the tears escaping her eyes as she spoke and she tried to hide them. Max tilted up her chin with his hand and brushed them aside, just as he’d done earlier that day. But she couldn’t stop the tears this time and she kept crying, trying to keep her sobs quiet. She almost didn’t notice that Max had moved until he gently prodded her over and climbed up next to her in the bed. He stayed on top of her blankets, but he pulled her against him, and she settled gratefully against his chest.
One hand stroked her hair, trying to soothe her as the other found her hands on his chest and covered them with her own. Liz finally let all her emotions pour out after the long day and she cried until she felt drained and restful after letting all her pent up feelings out. Max was still stroking her hair gently and she raised her head to look up at his face, expecting him to be staring off into space, a bored expression on his face. Instead, she saw his eyes looking right back at her.
“Liz, you can’t blame yourself. You didn’t do anything wrong. And you can’t do anything about Kyle’s behavior. He was wrong to hurt you and it’s going to be hard for you to understand why he did it. I don’t know why he would do that to you, I hope I never understand why. But don’t let him hurt you more by blaming yourself, ok?” he said softly. Liz nodded slowly and then she mustered a small smile.
“I’m sorry about your shirt,” she replied. He chuckled a little and shrugged his shoulders.
“It’s ok, you can cry on me anytime,” he said, half jokingly. She studied him carefully, wanting to take him at his word.
Max caught her dark eyes with his and held her gaze steadily.
“Yeah, I promise.”
Liz gave him a radiant smile, the first one he’d seen since early that morning before they’d even met and she lowered her head to rest on his chest again. And Max continued to run a hand down her hair, closing his eyes at the softness under his fingertips. Feeling a little tired himself, he yawned and closed his eyes briefly. He’d just wait until she fell asleep, then he’d go home. He knew that’s what she wanted, so he waited patiently for the evening of her breath. Closing his eyes, he let out a deep breath and gathered Liz a little closer, enjoying the light weight of her against him. In just a few minutes he’d leave.
But only when she felt safe.

TBC . . .

Part 6

Serendipity n. The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them.

Somewhere, on the outskirts of his consciousness, Max heard the chirping of a bird. He felt the silky strands against his cheek, the welcome warmth of someone next to him, filling every space. And he smelled the scent of freshly baked muffins and brewing coffee.
Squinting his eyes against the bright sunlight, Max opened his eyes and looked over at Liz next to him. She was peacefully cuddled up next to him, her hand curled in his, her fingers laced with his. Her long hair spilled over his chest and he could feel the steady rise and fall of her breathing next to him. Shaking his head in disbelief, he couldn’t grasp the thought that he’d spent the entire night sleeping with Liz Parker in her bed.
And it had been a peaceful sleep, something he wasn’t accustomed to. He almost always didn’t sleep well, though the nightmares had faded with time. Even Isabel’s previous attempts to walk into his dreams and calm him had been unsuccessful. He always blocked her, protected her from whatever his mind conjured up. And he knew how it pained Isabel to listen to his cries as he slept and his fitful tossing around. He grinned to himself, if only she could see him now.
Max realized very quickly that he needed to leave. If Liz’s parents saw him there, or worse yet, Michael, he’d be lucky to make it out alive. He didn’t want to wake Liz, so he tried to inch away slowly, finding it hard to do with her firm grip on him. He finally disentangled his body from hers and found that he was breathing hard, fighting the desire to lay back down with her. His entire being was screaming for him to rejoin her and never leave.
Taking one last look at her, he couldn’t resist leaning over and kissing her gently on the forehead. What he wasn’t prepared for was her sudden movement so that her lips were a breath away from his. He closed his eyes in bliss at the feeling of her gentle puffs of breath against his mouth. Willing himself to take a step back, retreated to the window. She had such a powerful effect on him, and he had no idea why. Isabel said that maybe their destiny had brought them back to Roswell. He was starting to suspect that Liz was the one who had brought him back.

Liz woke up suddenly as she heard the window shut with a snap. She sat up quickly and tried to place why she suddenly felt so out of place. Her eyes darted around and her hands stretched out on the bed, feeling the warmth on the sheets around her.
“Max . . .”
She knew instantly that Max had just left. The warmth around her body was cooling and she shoved back the covers, pushing them away with her bare feet and quickly climbing out the window to the balcony. She peered over the edge and watched as Max pulled himself into his jeep and turned the ignition. She willed him to look back at her and felt her heart leap when he did. One hand on the steering wheel and the other braced on the back seat as he was about to back away he gave her a wide smile, his white teeth bright in the morning light. She waved to him as he backed away and then kneeled back, knowing that things had changed forever when Max had stayed with her and comforted her. His presence in her life was changing her.

“Ok, Liz, where are you?” Maria asked, slightly exasperated. Liz blinked and her head shot up quickly. They were sitting on the front lawn of the school, class was starting in twenty minutes and she, Maria, Michael and Alex were relaxing on the grass. Liz sat crosslegged, with Alex on his back, propping his head on her lap. His guitar was in his hands and Alex was trying out a few new tunes for them, absentmindedly strumming away. Michael was leaning against a tree and Maria sat back against him.
“Hmm? What?” Liz finally managed to utter. Maria rolled her eyes in amusement.
“Nevermind. Listen, guys, the first dance of the year is only a few short weeks away and we need to start making plans,” Maria said, her voice full of authority. Alex spoke up.
“Maria, no matching outfits, I refuse. You can try and convince Michael, but I’m researching other avenues,” Alex said. Liz looked down at Alex and jiggled the leg his head was resting on.
“Alex, are you ditching me for Miss Evans?” Liz asked, her eyes twinkling. Usually the four of them went as two couples, Alex and Liz and Maria and Michael. Alex blushed a little.
“Sorry Lizzie, but if she’ll go with me I’m afraid you are on your own,” Alex apologized. Liz’s eyes softened at his lack of confidence.
“She’d be a fool not to accept you Alex,” Liz said.
“Liz, you can always come with us,” Michael rushed to suggest. Maria poked him in the ribs.
“Sweetie, with Max Evans staring at Liz, she will not be hurting for a date,” Maria said. Michael looked a little puzzled until realization dawned. Liz almost laughed, her brother could be so dense sometimes. Especially about himself and Maria, she thought, shaking her head. As the conversation drifted back, Liz turned her head to anxiously stare at the parking lot again. She was waiting to catch sight of Max and Isabel arriving.
Even if she couldn’t admit it yet to Maria, she wanted to see Max again. Even though it had only been an hour since he’d left, she already missed him with an odd ache that simply wanted him close. She felt antsy waiting for him, tense and nervous because she couldn’t see him. She didn’t know that they were more than friends, but she couldn’t stop wanting him close. It scared her that her feelings were strong after just meeting Max, but it was like she’d known him longer than she’d known anyone her entire life. Her grandmother would have called them kindred spirits, Liz thought with a smile.
Suddenly, Liz heard the loud grumble of the jeep as it pulled in and she sprang up, barely noticing as Alex yelped in protest when his head hit the ground. She yelled an apology back and tried not to run to where Max and Isabel were getting out of the jeep. Liz and Isabel exchanged hellos and hugs before Isabel joined the group and Liz faced Max, her eyes shining as she stepped as close as possible. One hand under the strap of his backpack, Max unconsciously leaned forward so that Liz’s body just barely brushed against his.
“Max, I never got to thank you, for staying with me last night. I’ve never felt more protected and safe,” she admitted. Max felt a lump forming in his throat.
“That’s all I ever wanted, for you to feel safe,” he replied honestly. She nodded as though she’d already known the answer before he’d uttered it and her hand drifted down his arm to find his hand. She laced her fingers with his and squeezed gently.
“Thank you Max,” she whispered. Before he could respond, Liz let go of his hand and was backing away. Max tried to speak, but couldn’t.
He wanted to thank her for helping him sleep peacefully for the first time in years, for letting him wake up to her beautiful face in the morning, for the way he felt complete holding her, being next to her. Somehow, words didn’t seem like enough and Max resolved to find a way to make her understand what an impact she had made on his life.
She’d made him forget what he was, and for a flash, Max thought about telling her. He thought she would understand, that she wouldn’t see him as anything different than what she knew, but he wasn’t sure. He looked over at Isabel, lying next to Alex on the grass, gazing up at him as he played his guitar and he felt a stab of jealousy. How was it so easy for Isabel, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that they still didn’t belong?
What was her secret? She’d slipped into Liz and Michael’s group of friends so easily. He could tell she really liked Alex and he knew the feelings were returned. And he knew that the same offer of friendship and something more was being held out to him in the form of Liz Parker. He just didn’t know if he’d have the ability to take it.
Because he still couldn’t get past the fact that he was different from her, and that because of that they belonged apart. But she made him almost forget, and for the first time he truly wanted to forget forever.

Max followed Isabel into the Pizza Pan restaurant, his eyes glancing around warily. It was Wednesday night, the infamous Karaeoke Night that Liz and Maria had been talking about on the first day of school. Max found the restaurant surprisingly busy, though he did notice that the section of tables and a small stage where a large banner announcing the weekly sing-a-long was mysteriously empty except for Maria, Alex and Michael.
Instantly he looked around for Liz and tried to squelch his disappointment when he didn’t see her nearby. Isabel joined the others, sitting next to Alex at the table and Max looked around, his eyes lighting up when he saw Liz over at the counter, leaning over to speak to an older man, Max presumed the owner. He walked over to her unnoticed, grinning at the sight of her shirt, rising above her skirt to allow a glimpse of soft skin, as she leaned over the counter, grabbing a few straws just out of her reach.
“If you and your friends remain the only Karaeoke customers we might need to rethink this theme,” the man grumbled. Liz flashed him a bright smile.
“Mr. Elmer, you know how much you love hearing us sing here on a weekly basis. It’ll catch on, really,” Liz reassured him. Mr. Elmer raised an eyebrow.
“Liz, honey, it’s been a year,” he said, sliding the pizza towards Liz. She tried to smile and just ended up shrugging, not really having a defense. Max laughed softly behind her and she whipped around, causing him to back away quickly or risk pepperoni pizza on his shirt.
“Max! I didn’t know you were here!” Liz stammered, her heart suddenly racing at the sight of Max, wearing a black shirt and jeans looking delicious and lean, standing in front of her.
“Isabel and I just got here. I thought I’d see if you need any help?” he asked. Liz pointed to the glasses and plates.
“Can you grab those?” she asked. Max nodded and picked up the utensils and followed Liz over to the table, enjoying the swinging of her long brown hair, the barest hint of a sway in her hips. Max, Michael and Alex dug into the pizza while the girls huddled around a list of available songs for them to sing along to. Max polished off his first piece and turned to Michael.
“So, how does this whole thing work?” Max asked, gesturing to the girls. Michael swallowed before answering.
“It’s sort of a requirement that we each sing at least one song by ourselves and then we pair up. An unspoken rule, but sacred in Karaeoke edicate. Alex and I have been known to bring down the house with a little Tom Petty and Maria and Liz usually lean towards the oldies. They tried “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” last week,” Michael replied. Alex’s head shot up at the last sentence.
“Nobody within a ten block radius was sleeping that night,” Alex joked. Liz shot him a look.
“Since you’re so confident of your singing skills, you, Michael and Max can go first,” Liz proclaimed. Alex groaned and Michael took it in stride, walking over to the machine and looking for a song to play. Max got up warily and followed Alex over, trying to drown out the whistles and catcalls from the girls. He was nervous enough already.
“Um, I should warn you guys, I’m not a very good singer,” Max whispered. Michael shrugged.
“Oh, none of us are. Except Maria, but don’t tell her I said that. Believe it or not Maxwell, this can be fun,” Michael replied, putting his arms around both guy’s shoulders and showing them the song they’d be singing. Alex rolled his eyes.
“Pure cheese Michael. But they’ll love it,” he grinned, agreeing to the choice. Max nodded, not having a reason to disagree and Michael hit the button to play the song, handing them each a microphone.

TBC . . .

Proud to be a Dreamer!!

Liz: I could feel everything he was feeling. I could feel his loneliness. For the first time I was really seeing Max Evans. I saw me as he saw me, and the amazing thing was, in his eyes, I was beautiful.
Liz: The difficult part is when you follow your heart, you leave normal, you go into the unknown. And once you do, you can never go back.
Max: You're my dream girl, Liz.
Max: What's so great about normal?
posted on 16-Sep-2001 7:34:58 PM
Part 7

Serendipity n. The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them.

As the first notes of the song began to play, a Motown tune, Isabel laughed out loud, instantly recognizing the song. Maria and Liz soon joined in and as Michael and Alex began to sing, Max was so busy staring at the happiness of Liz’s face that he almost forgot to sing. Thankfully he knew the words, so he didn’t have to follow the teleprompter.

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day
When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May
I guess you’d say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl
My girl
My girl
Talkin bout my girl

Max stuck to singing quietly , but he did sing. And he saw the way Liz was watching him, her eyes bright and a grin on her face. After all that had happened he felt a swell of pride that even his off key singing could make her smile. Reaching the last part of the song he sang a little louder, though he left the serious dance moves up to Alex, who really seemed to enjoy playing in the spotlight.

I’ve got so much honey the bees envy me
I’ve got a sweeter song than the birds in the trees
I’d guess you’d say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl
My girl
My girl
Talkin bout my girl

After the last cords died away, Max did his best not to rush away from the stage, trying hard to resist his usual urge to hide and meld into the background. With Liz, Maria and Isabel standing on their feet, clapping and yelling, it wasn’t hard to enjoy their praise. He even found himself smiling.
He sat down next to Liz, but she got up quickly to follow Isabel to the stage. When she got up, Maria dragged her along, pulling her arm. As she stood, Liz’s hand braced against his thigh, pushing up so that she could stand. The pressure of her hand on his leg made him catch his breath and he watched her go. The gesture had seemed so natural to her, as though she hadn’t even realized she’d done it. Max blinked, trying to focus in on the girls as they got ready for their song. Max knew he recognized the song as a favorite of his mothers and he watching in fascination as Isabel, Maria and Liz moved to the beat, their voices blending and bringing a distinct melody to the room. Maria first started the song, her voice strong as she punctuated each word:

First I was afraid, I was petrified

Then Liz’s voice broke in, taking over. Max’s eyes widened and something stirred in his stomach at the deep, sultry sound of her voice:

I kept thinking I could never live without you by my side

Isabel took over from Liz after an encouraging nod from the brunette and her voice, surprisingly light, chimed in:

But then I spent so many nights thinking how you done me wrong

All three girls joined in, winding together and making a fully blended sound:

And I grew strong
I learned how to get along

And so you’re back
From outer space
I just walked in here to find that look upon your face
I should have changed that stupid lock
I should have thrown away the key
If I’d have known for just one second you’d be back to bother me

“Wow,” Michael said, clearly surprised at the impressive performance they were seeing. Liz, Maria and Isabel somehow complimented one another with their different voice talents. Alex nodded in agreement.
“Liz and Maria were never bad together, but somehow, I can see what they were missing. Isabel,” Alex observed, glancing over at Max, who had his eyes fixated on Liz, unable to tear them away as she bounced around and laughed as she sang, her laughter bubbling over into the song.

I will survive
As long as I know how to love I know I’ll live
I’ve got all my life to live
I’ve got all my love to give
I will survive

Alternately the girls turned to sing to one another and then to the guys, Maria winking at Michael and Isabel giving Alex one of her rare genuine smiles. Max loved how Liz really got into her singing, she smiled, she bounced around to the made up moves of Maria and Isabel and Max found her grin infectious. She’d been through a lot in the last few days, but Liz was obviously enjoying herself, and enjoying the presence of her friends. As the song wound down and the girls’ voices faded away, Max found himself energetically cheering as Maria bowed and sat back down next to Michael.
Liz looked at Max shyly as she sat down, almost seeming embarrassed. She leaned back against her chair and Max’s arm, which was laying on the back of her chair. He smiled at her.
“What?” he asked, curious by her slight blush. She laughed.
“Every time after we sing I always wonder how I got up there in the first place. This is so not a Liz Parker kind of thing to do,” she replied. Max touched her shoulder gently, which brought her dark eyes to meet his.
“Maybe not, but I think Maria brings it out of all of us. You were really good, you were all really good,” Max said. Liz laughed, finding what he said unbelievable, but accepting the compliment anyway.
“Thanks, you were good too. I think Isabel added to our performance. Mr. Elmer might not be so quick to cancel Karaeoke night now. You know, I’d love to hear you sing again,” she requested, and Max found his throat go dry. He knew he could never deny her request, even though if asked by anyone else he would have quickly refused. So, he nodded slowly, and Liz acknowledged with a toss of her hair, clearly satisfied with herself. Max nudged her shoulder and pointed to Isabel, who was selecting another song to sing by herself.
Isabel had chosen another oldies style song, with a big band playing in the background. Alex looked up as Isabel’s light voice began to sing the song, one Max couldn't help but feel held more meaning than a random choice.

Oh, what if I loved you?
And I gave it my all?
What if I told you you’re all I’ve waited for?
What if I held you tonight?
And I made you feel all so right?
What if I loved you, would you always be mine?

What if I kissed you, the way you like to be kissed?
What if I held you in my arms, so close like this?
What if I touched you tonight and I filled your body with delight?
What if I loved you
Would you always be mine?

Max watched his sister carefully, noticing the smile on her face, but also noticing how tightly she gripped the microphone and he could tell that she was nervous. And there was no way he could miss the way her eyes were locked on Alex, looking as though all her hope was directed at him.

What if I sang to you a sweet lullaby?
What if I gave you a dozen stars that I pulled from the sky?
What if I told you tonight
I want to love you for the rest of my life?

As Isabel finished she took a quick bow and sat down next to Alex, crossing her legs nervously before she glanced over at him. Max smiled as Alex’s head leaned over to hers. He couldn’t hear the words, but he saw his sister duck her head shyly and he quickly assumed that her leap of faith and choice of song had not gone unnoticed.
Michael quickly took the stage, selected his song and then grabbed the microphone, bringing it to his lips and reaching out a hand to point directly at Maria.
“This song is for you, Maria. And even though you might want to deck me afterwards, I mean it in the best possible way,” Michael said, waiting for the song to start. Maria and Liz traded puzzled glances and waited. Maria rolled her eyes as the song began, recognizable within seconds.

I can’t stop
The way I feel
Things you do
Don’t seem real
Tell you what I’ve got in mind
Cause we’re running out of time

Michael’s voice cracked as it couldn’t quite reach the high notes and Liz laughed at her brother and noticed Maria hiding her face in her hands, but still peeking through her fingers at the sight of Michael literally making a fool of himself for her, and, in a way, baring his true feelings to her for the first time.

She drives me crazy
Like no one else
She drives me crazy
And I can’t help myself

I can’t get
Any rest
People say that I’m obsessed

She drives me crazy
Like no one else
She drives me crazy
And I can’t help myself

Michael finished with a flourish and then sat down next to Maria, who punched him in the arm first before she then leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. Liz was watching her brother with Maria and noticed the way his forehead was resting against Maria’s, and the utterly peaceful expression on his face. She felt her heart tug at the sight, so happy that they’d obviously made at least a small step past the just friends status.
Feeling slightly nervous, and since the others were distracted, Liz stood up and walked over to the stage, flipping through the available choices and alternately glancing at Max. She was trying to think of a song that might get his attention, but she didn’t want to be too obvious about it. Finally, her finger stopped at the perfect choice. With a touch of a smile on her face she selected it and waited for the song to begin. The song started out with a piano and quickly picked up a steady beat. Liz took a deep breath and then her voice, strong and sure, erupted from the speakers.

I try to think about Elvis, Memphis, Oprah in the afternoon
I try to think about palm trees, fig leaves, the creature from the black lagoon
I try to think about high heels, good deals, anything to get me through
I just can’t concentrate
You’re all I think about these days.

I try to contemplate the cosmos, round and round the sky at night
I try to think about champagne, freight trains, slowly rolling out of sight
I try to focus on the headlines, street crimes, every time I think I might
I just can’t concentrate
You’re all I think about these days

My mind wanders where it will
When it settles right on you
I forget what I should say
I forget what I should do

Max grinned at the sight of Liz, easily keeping time with the swift lyrics as she focused on the words streaming across the page. Her eyes were shining brightly and she tossed her head to get her hair out of her eyes. She looked radiant. He wished she would look up at him, and as if she heard his request, she did, her eyes on him for the rest of the song.

I try to think about Shakespeare, leap year, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones
I try to think about hair dos, tattoos, sushi bars and saxphones
I try to think about the talk shows, new clothes but I guess I should’ve known
I just can’t concentrate
You’re all I think about these days
You’re all I think about these days

Liz finished, out of breath and her face flushed. She took a quick bow, her eyes never leaving Max’s. She caught the grin on his face and felt a shiver move through her. She had a feeling that the grin on his face wasn’t one that often crossed his features and it thrilled her that she had put it there.
Liz sat down next to Max, and she turned towards him, causing her leg to press up against his. He swore he could feel the softness of the skin on her bare leg against his own, despite the layer of jeans he was wearing. As she leaned in closer to him, Max’s eyes widened and he felt his mind go blank. She was so close, he could smell her perfume. She was so close he could make out the freckles on her neck. His gaze dropped to her neck, wishing he could move his mouth to kiss her there. She was so close he could actually see the gentle jump of her skin over the vein in her neck as blood flowed through her body. He barely managed to quell the urge to touch her neck, feel her skin and the steady beat of her heart.
Suddenly, he realized she was talking to him, her eyes expectant, waiting for his reply. He took a deep breath and licked his lips, wishing he had a glass of water. His throat had gotten so dry all of a sudden.
“Uh-what? What did you say Liz?” he asked, cringing at how idiotic he sounded. Liz simply smiled a serene smile and repeated her words.
“I said I thought it was about time you fulfill my request for a song,” she suggested, her voice light and teasing. Max saw the opportunity to put some distance between him and Liz, a chance to rein in his impulses and he nodded, quickly getting up. He couldn’t think when he was around her, all reason and logic disappeared. Running a hand through his hair, he began to walk towards the stage when the lights in the restaurant dimmed. Shouts of disappointment came from Liz, Maria, Michael, Alex and Isabel, the only customers left in the Pizza Pan.
“Sorry kids, it’s closing time,” Mr. Elmer called from the kitchen. Gathering their things, they exited the restaurant and walked towards their cars, the Jetta and the Jeep being the only remaining vehicles in the parking lot. Michael had his arm slung over Maria’s shoulders and he was leaning towards Alex, who had Isabel’s arm linked in his. Liz watched them with interest and was about to comment to Max when she felt the gentle pressure of his hand at the small of her back. Her head shot up to look at his face and she found him oblivious to what he was doing, which made her heart beat quicken even faster. It was like it was a totally natural thing for Max to walk with her and need to keep some form of slight tactile contact.
She walked closer to him, enjoying the warmth that radiated off of him. Just being near him made her feel safer and more comfortable. Everyone was saying their goodbyes as Max and Liz approached the vehicles and they did the same to the others, with Max beginning to drift towards Liz and the Jeep while Liz moved towards the Jetta. Just as they were getting far enough away that he couldn’t reach her anymore, Liz’s hand slid down his arm and squeezed his hand quickly before she stepped away. Her touch lingered and they didn’t even say goodbye as Liz got into the car, glancing back at him over her shoulder once before Maria pulled out of the driveway. Max couldn’t stop staring at them until Isabel practically had to yell his name to get his attention. His mind anchored on what Maria had said to them as she got in the car.
See you in school tomorrow.
Feeling carefree, like he didn’t have to worry about his alien heritage or the fact that he was different, he glanced at his watch. The only thing on his mind at the moment was that he had exactly 9 hours, 32 minutes and 14 seconds until he would see Liz Parker again. It seemed like an eternity, but it did give him time to consider what Liz had been singing and it gave him time to contemplate the possibility that he was on her mind as much as she was on his. And it gave him almost ten hours to start to believe it.

Max ran towards the school gym, cursing Isabel loudly in his head. Because of her they had been late this morning and because of her he hadn’t gotten to see Liz before class. Isabel had overslept and had, of course, refused to leave the house looking anything but stunning. He’d seriously considered ditching her at home and driving by himself. As a result of his good moral character he was now running to the gym where first period had just started.
As he flung the wide door open he was surprised to find that students were milling around aimlessly and that there were no teachers in sight. Sighing, he took deep breaths. He should have known, you never had to be on time to P.E. Isabel breezed past him a few seconds later and she tossed her golden hair over her shoulder at him, a subtle taunt. He resisted the urge to tackle her like when they were younger, but just barely. Isabel walked over to Maria, who was painting her nails, sitting on the bleachers. Max looked around for Liz and finally found her nearby, talking to some other girls. As if she sensed his gaze, she looked up and met his eyes, a smile spreading across her face. Her eyes were locked on his as she excused herself from the group and walked towards him.
He watched her coming, unable to tear his eyes away from her and not caring what anyone who saw them thought. And he’d seen the other girls looking at them with interest out of the corner of his eye. All that mattered to him was that Liz was walking towards him. She stopped a foot away, standing closer than a regular person would, inside his personal space. Just where he liked her.
“Hey,” she said softly. His smile was easy and slight, but one she could pick up instinctively. To the average person he wouldn’t have moved a muscle in his face, but she saw and knew every small change.
They didn’t say anything for a few seconds, just looked at each other. Then the teachers came in and blew their whistles, signaling the beginning of class. They were in different P.E. classes and Max began to move reluctantly away. He turned at the sound of Liz’s voice.
“Just thought you should know, I’m still waiting for my song.”
And with that, Liz turned away, her ponytail swinging gently. Max knew he was gone. Liz Parker could request the sun and moon and his only thought would be just where exactly he could find enough paper to wrap them. And for the first time, he felt normal. He felt like Liz made him normal. In a world where he wasn’t normal, she reminded and amplified his human side. And for the first time in his life, he realized that he was home.
Roswell, Maria, Michael, Alex and Liz were home. And, for once, being alien wasn’t the first thing that he thought of. He and Isabel were finally home.

TBC . . .

Part 8

Serendipity n. The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them.

“Mom! We’re home!” Isabel called from the doorway. The living room was crowded with half-opened cardboard boxes, bubble wrap and styrofoam chips. The couch was slanted diagonally across the room and a bookcase empty of any contents was pushed carelessly against the wall. Isabel heard the sounds of her mother unpacking in the kitchen and she carefully stepped around the stacks of boxes to find Diane Evans putting pans and pots into the bare cupboards. Diane looked up and smiled brightly at Max and Isabel.
“Hi kids, how was school?” she asked.
“School was good. Guess the movers came, huh?” Max asked. They’d arrived with about half of their belongings over a week ago and a mixup at the moving company had delayed the rest of their furniture several weeks.
“It’s so good to finally have everything. Dad’s going to be home in about an hour, we’re going to get pizza for dinner,” Diane said, turning back to one of the boxes. Max nodded and quietly left the room, unnoticed by his mother. Isabel reached for a nectarine and bit into it, grimacing at the taste and then opening a nearby cupboard for a bottle of Tabasco sauce. She poured a healthy amount onto the fruit and nodded in satisfaction after taking another bite. Diane spoke as she searched in the box.
“By the way, our old friends, the Parkers, are joining us for dinner. We haven’t seen them since before we left and it’s been ages since we saw their daughter Liz. I remember Nancy mentioning that they adopted a boy too, Michael, about Liz’s age” Diane said thoughtfully. Isabel froze.
“Adopted? Michael is adopted?” Isabel asked, surprised. Diane nodded and looked up, puzzled that Max had left.
“Yes, the Parkers adopted him eight years ago, around the time we left. Where did Max go?” Diane asked. Isabel shrugged.
“He probably went to his room,” she responded.
“You kids have met Michael and Liz, haven’t you?” Diane asked. Isabel grinned.
“Yeah, they introduced us to the joys of kareoke a few weeks ago. We have classes with them too,” Isabel replied.
“That’s good, so it won’t be a totally boring evening for the four of you. Just let Max know we’re having company, ok?” Diane asked, turning back to her unpacking. Isabel nodded thoughtfully as she left, taking another bite of nectarine. Then a thought occurred to her and she smiled.
“It would be much more entertaining to see Max’s reaction to unexpected guests,” Isabel thought as she walked down the hall, her plan set as she passed Max’s room without saying a word.

Two hours later the doorbell rang and Isabel called down the hall to her brother.
“Max! Someone’s at the door, can you get it?” she yelled. Max came out of his room, a question in his eyes. Isabel smiled at him innocently, her head poking out from her room.
“I’m not completely dressed,” she said before yanking her head back into her room. Max shrugged and walked towards the door, running a hand through his hair and proceeding to further muss the dark strands. He yawned as he opened the door and that yawn quickly turned into his mouth gaping open from shock and his eyes widening.
On the doorstep stood Liz, Michael and their parents. Liz was smiling at him shyly and Michael studied him curiously. Max was suddenly away of how wrinkled his shirt was and how unkempt he appeared to be. He felt the heat rise in his cheeks and he suddenly wished he were anywhere but where he was.
“I’m going to kill you, Isabel,” he muttered under his breath. Somehow he knew that Isabel had purposefully not told him anything about their guests.
“What did you say Max?” Michael asked, slightly amused. Max shook his head and stepped aside to let the Parkers in.
“Um, nothing. Please come in. I’m guessing we’re having company for dinner?” Max asked weakly. Jeff Parker noticed Max’s confused expression and he laughed.
“Communication getting a little jumbled in all the moving madness?” he asked good naturedly. Max nodded, relieved for the easy way Liz’s dad had stepped around his discomfort. And suddenly he realized that he was standing in front of Liz’s parents, dressed like he’d just rolled out of bed and his manners practically non-existent. Liz seemed to sense his embarrassment and she stepped forward, taking Max’s arm and pulling him closer to her parents. Her gentle fingers on his arm sent a shiver down his spine that he tried to contain.
“Mom, Dad, this is Max, he’s the one who helped me with Kyle a few weeks ago. And Max, these are my parents, Jeff and Nancy,” Liz introduced. At Liz’s words Jeff’s eyes instantly lit up with gratitude. He shook Max’s hand.
“Wonderful to meet you Max. I can’t thank you enough for taking care of Lizzie,” he emphasized. Max shook his head.
“It was nothing, really. I’m just glad I was there. Besides, Michael and Alex were there too,” Max replied, wanting to give credit where it was due. Max thought he saw a flash of annoyance in Jeff’s eyes and he knew he wasn’t imagining the sudden stiffening of Michael’s back. Obviously the trouble Michael had gotten into had caused trouble at home. Liz’s mom spoke up, diverting attention.
“Definitely the son of Diane Evans, so polite,” Nancy said with a slight smile. Max ducked his head at the compliment and he noticed Liz smiling at him. She seemed pleased that her parents liked him. His thoughts were halted by the sudden shriek of his mother as she came from the kitchen and hugged Liz’s mom. Max watched in amazement and heard Michael’s voice whisper next to him.
“Wow, that’s scary,” he observed, watching their mothers. Max looked around and decided to take the opportunity to change into something a little less wrinkled.
“I’ll be right back,” he said, stepping away from Liz. Liz nodded and tried not to be disappointed. She watched Max go and she couldn’t help grinning at the sight of his hair, sticking up in all directions and his rumpled appearance. He looked like he’d just gotten out of bed, a thought that she enjoyed.
Max tried not to run down the hall to Isabel’s room and he knocked loudly on the wood panel. After a few seconds Isabel opened the door, her eyes looking at him wide and innocent. He proceeded to glare at her.
“Yes Max?” she said. Max just stared at her until a minute had passed and she dropped the expression, heaving a sigh.
“Oh, come on Max, that was funny! I couldn’t help it, it was too good to resist,” Isabel tried to explain. Max merely shook his head and walked away from his sister, not wanting her to see the smile tugging on his lips. He couldn’t stay mad, not when Liz was in his house. He walked into his room and quickly threw open the closet door, groaning at the mess in front of him. He’d barely had a chance to unpack any of his clothes yet. Finally he found a dark maroon colored button down shirt his sister had bought him for his birthday. It was shortsleeved, something he thought he might need with Liz around. Her very appearance kept his temperature skyrocketing. He peeled off his t-shirt, deemed his black jeans acceptable and proceeded to unbutton the shirt to pull it on.
Liz walked quietly down the hall, looking for Max. She’d excused herself easily, saying she was going in search of the bathroom. Isabel had pointed down the hall and told her it was by Max’s bedroom, which was all the incentive Liz needed. She peeked into one of the rooms, found it dark and quickly surmised it was Isabel’s by the soft colors and candles everywhere. She turned around in the hallway and walked towards the door across from Isabel’s, which was slightly ajar. She heard rustling around and knew Max had to be inside. Even though she knew she should have knocked, she didn’t, she just pushed the door open a little and looked inside. And then her heart stopped.
Max stood in front of the closet, fumbling with the buttons on his shirt. Her eyes drank in the sight of his back, his broad shoulders and the gleaming gold of his skin. She remembered what it felt like when he’d run his hands over her shoulders and arms and she shivered, longing to feel what his skin felt like. Max turned slightly and Liz barely managed to keep the involuntary strangled noise she made from erupting from her mouth. She could see the ridged muscles of his chest, the taunt skin and his flat stomach and Liz was pretty sure she was going to pass out. Then the most embarrassing, but most inevitable thing happened. Max turned around and looked up, his eyes meeting hers.
She grinned at the rush of color that covered his face and at the way Max quickly pulled on his shirt, fastening the buttons at lightning speed. Finally, he finished and looked up at Liz. She realized he was uncomfortable and she immediately felt sorry. She hadn’t wanted to embarrass him, despite the fact that he had nothing to be embarrassed about. Liz walked into Max’s room and climbed over a box to step near him.
“I’m sorry, Max, I should have knocked,” she said, wondering at her own bold actions. She’d never been this forward with any of the boys she’d liked. But Max was different. He was worthy of the pursuit. Max cleared his throat and finally spoke.
“That’s ok, you just startled me,” Max replied. Liz gave him another smile and he felt his insides melt. She was so close, and he felt like the room temperature had spiked ten degrees. And just when he thought he might be able to bear the heat radiating off of Liz, she was unbuttoning his shirt and every thought vanished from his brain.
"You, uh, buttoned these wrong," she whispered next to his ear.
Stupified, he watched her fingers work, moving from the bottom button to the next one up, further and further to the top button. He couldn’t register a thought in his head and reality almost completely vanished when he felt her fingers graze his chest. His eyes closed of their own will and he leaned closer to her, longing to feel her fingers touch every curve of his body.
Liz watched Max, her lips dry. She licked them and swallowed, finding her throat dry. She’d been looking at Max’s shirt and had seen that he’d buttoned it wrong, leaving the top and bottom uneven. Without even thinking she’d reached out to unbutton the shirt and she’d found that the air almost crackled with energy as she moved. By accident or by her won will her fingers grazed against Max’s skin and she gasped softly, reveling in the delicious feeling of warmth and strength. She looked up at Max and was surprised to see his eyes closed as he almost leaned towards her.
Her heartbeat tripled at the sight of him, so close. She could just lean towards him, step up on her tiptoes and easily touch his lips with her own. And she could feel her body naturally doing just that when a sharp knock on the door startled them both.
“Max! Get out here!” Isabel called, not waiting for an answer before she walked back down the hall. Liz breathed a sigh of relief that Isabel didn’t look in the room and she looked back at Max, finding the same relief on his face. Then his eyes met hers and she melted from the intensity. All his attention was on her and she only just registered the feeling of his hands on hers as he buttoned his shirt back up, finishing the job she’d started. But she saw the recognition in his eyes and she knew that he’d felt the same things she had when she’d touched him. And she could tell that he realized there was something more powerful than attraction between them. Taking a reluctant step back, Liz nodded shyly.
“I’ll see you out there in a few minutes?” she said softly. He nodded and she left the room. Max sighed loudly after she left and picked up his comb, noticing how his hand was shaking. He’d almost lost it, with Liz touching him. And, once again, she’d made him forget. He forgot that he could never be a normal teenage boy attracted to a beautiful girl. Setting the comb down, he studied his own reflection and he wondered what it would be like to forget forever.

“And then Maria and Liz threw both their mudpies at Alex and Michael! Oh, Diane, it was priceless!” Nancy exclaimed. Liz traded grimaces with Michael, who was slouching in his chair, as if ducking down might lessen the embarrassment. Max was grinning at Liz from across the dinner table, enjoying her slight discomfort. Their parents had finished with current news and launched into horrid childhood stories about twenty minutes ago, after they’d finished eating.
“I so wish you and Philip had been here all these years. I think our kids would have had a wonderful time growing up together,” Nancy said wistfully. Diane looked at her son, watching Liz with intense brown eyes and she smiled knowingly to herself.
“I think they’ll have plenty of time to catch up,” she said. Jeff rubbed his hands together.
“The night’s still young, how about we see some of your slides from Aspen, Philip? If you can locate them, that is,” Jeff suggested. At the word “slides”, both Max and Isabel groaned. Liz immediately perked up, more than happy to divert the attention to her favorite subject: Max.
“Dad! It’s not even Sunday night! Slides are supposed to be a one night a week torture!” Isabel exclaimed. Philip shook his head, laughing at his daughter.
“Iz, we’ll make an exception this week, let’s all head into the family room,” he said. Max came around the table and walked with Liz into the room.
“What’s the deal with slides?” Liz asked.
“It’s a part of the Spanish Inquisition that they never tell us about in school. But, lucky for Isabel and me, we get first hand experience every single Sunday night. Dad’s kind of a photographer, and he keeps Kodak in business,” Max said. Liz smiled and nodded, joining Isabel, who was still pouting, as Michael and Max moved some furniture, Jeff helped Philip unload slides and Diane and Nancy cleaned up in the kitchen.
After another few minutes of setting up, Isabel and Liz sat on the couch with their mothers and Jeff and Philip took the floor in front of the couch, facing the screen. Max and Michael sat behind the couch, quickly moving out of eye’s view as Michael pulled out a deck of cards. They played cards largely unnoticed until Liz looked over the edge and grinned at Max.
“Max, what are the Sharks?” she asked innocently. Max hung his head and groaned as Liz’s soft laughter continued. Michael looked up from his cards curiously.
“Come on Maxwell, share,” he prompted.
“The Sharks were the peewee hockey team I was on for one torturous winter. I was so bad at the game, every time I got on the ice I’d fall over because of all the padding. I could skate fine without it, but I think I spent more time flat on my back than actually skating. And, of course, Dad has a picture of nearly every accident,” Max said, risking a peek over the couch. Sure enough, there was a picture of Max, about ten years old, sprawled on the ice.
He and Michael abandoned their game of cards and kneeled behind the couch, Max next to Liz’s head and Michael near his mother. Liz lost all interest in the slides when she felt Max’s breath shifting her hair a little. She tipped her head slightly and nestled her head next to his on the back of the couch. She thought she felt his fingers caress her hair, but she couldn’t be sure.
Liz Parker was going to be the death of him. Max was certain that if she kept tempting him he’d never survive. But he knew he’d enjoy every second of it. When the slides finally ended and the room was pitch black for a few brief seconds all Max heard was the sound of her breathing in his ear. And the sound, so lively, so simple, unnerved him. It reminded him that Liz was real, and that she was right next to him. And it reminded him that his love for her was real, a realization that shocked him because of the truth of it. He was still in a daze as the Parkers got ready to leave. He helped Liz with her coat and his fingers lingered at her collar, fingering the soft strands of her hair. She looked up at him through her lashes and as she left they didn’t say a word. Verbal communication seemed almost a nuisance with them.
And as she left, Max was almost certain her entire being had told him she loved him. He knew himself and he knew Liz, but by sheer amazement he wasn’t quite ready to accept that she could love him, despite the shining of her dark eyes and a soft smile directed only at him. One thing Max did know for certain, the feeling he’d felt the night before meeting Liz had been real. Liz was his fate and his soul had known she was nearby before he’d even seen her. And he was ready to believe that she was the reason he’d been brought to earth.
Laying down on his bed with his hands behind his head, Max smiled to himself. Tomorrow he’d go to the Crashdown to see Liz. He’d been hesitating until now, but he knew tomorrow he’d ask Liz to the Homecoming Dance. Max closed his eyes and dreamed of the next day, September 19, 1999.

TBC . . .

Part 9

Serendipity n. The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them.

Isabel looked over at her brother as they parked in front of the Crashdown on Wednesday afternoon. She quickly checked her reflection in the mirror and turned to Max.
“So, are you going to ask her today?” Isabel asked. Max stared into the Crashdown, trying to tamp down his nervous thoughts. He was going to ask Liz to the fall Homecoming Dance, and he was going to ask her today. He’d been tormenting himself for over a week, wondering how to ask her, how to approach her. His uncertainty had largely been quelled the night before, but doubts still plagued him.
What if she refused him?
“You know, I heard that Scott Johnson was going to ask her,” Isabel said carelessly. She managed not to grin at Max’s stricken face as he turned to look at her. She laughed, unable to keep the lie to herself.
“I’m sorry Max, I made that up. But someone could ask her!” Isabel replied. Still, Max said nothing and Isabel softened, feeling sympathy for her shy brother.
“She’ll say yes, Max, I know she will. It’s just that a girl likes to feel wanted, and not someone’s last minute choice. So, since the dance is next weekend, you should ask her soon. Like today,” Isabel prompted. Max sighed.
“I know, Iz. This stuff isn’t easy for me. It might be if it wasn’t Liz, but she’s, well, she’s—“
“Special. Yeah, I know Max, she is. And she’s perfect for you,” Isabel offered. Max looked at his sister in surprise, having never heard her speak that way before. She leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before she reached for the car door handle.
“I’m meeting Alex to look for a gift for his mom, we’ll probably stop by the Crashdown later on,” Isabel said as she climbed down from the jeep. Max nodded and watched her go, her steps quick as she hurried to Alex. After reciting the way he would ask Liz to the dance a few dozen times, Max finally entered the Crashdown. The café was not busy, but a steady number of customers occupied the tables and booths. Grinning, Max saw that their usual booth was free and he slid into it, shedding his jacket and pulling out a school book to read.
Liz struggled not to stare at Max as he got settled in the booth by the wall, facing the kitchen, where he always sat. Maria teased her that he sat there to get a good view of her, but she laughed the thought away as her heart secretly hoped it to be true. Her breath quickened at the sight of Max in a gray t-shirt that stretched across his chest in all the right ways. Since she’d walked in on him last night she no longer had to imagine what he looked like underneath that shirt.
Liz’s eyes were locked on Max as she moved. Even as she cleaned the counter, then moved onto the milkshake machine, her eyes never wavered. The way he made her feel was so new, and so different than anything she’d ever felt. She just wanted to be near him, to soak in that feeling. Not wanting to appear too bold but also unable to resist, Liz walked over to Max’s table and was rewarded by his smile at her.
For a few seconds they merely smiled and gazed at one another, as if the sight could never grow old. Then, Liz fumbled in her apron and pulled out her order pad and pen. She cleared her throat and attempted to appear professional, something that seemed impossible since whenever Max was around she giggled like crazy and felt lightheaded.
“What can I get you?” she asked. Max examined the menu like he didn’t already know it by heart and then he looked up to answer.
“Just a Will Smith and—“
“Cherry cola, got it. I’ll be right back with your drink Max,” Liz replied, moving away from the table. As Liz walked away Max sighed and resisted the urge to slam his head on the table. She had been right there. He could have asked her, it would have been so simple. It was only ten little words.
Liz, will you go to the Homecoming Dance with me?
“Did you say something Max?” Liz asked curiously as she set his drink down on the table. Max’s head shot up and he briefly wondered if she’d heard him.
“Um, no,” Max replied. When Liz started to turn away, Max began to panic. He would never ask her if he kept putting it off.
Liz turned around quickly, as if she’d been hoping he would call her name.
“Can you sit down a minute?”
Liz flashed him a bright smile and nodded happily before she sat down across from him in the booth. Max looked around worriedly.
“I don’t want to keep you from your duties, or get your dad mad at me,” Max said. Liz waved her hand in the air.
“It’s no problem. Maria can handle the front, Michael’s actually working in the back for once and my Dad likes you, so he won’t get mad,” Liz replied. Max was still dwelling on the fact that Liz’ dad liked him when he blinked and met Liz’s expectant eyes.
“Did you want to talk to me about something?” she asked, gently prodding him. Max shifted in his seat and folded his hands, concentrating on the nicked formica table.
“Yeah, I did. It’s just kind of hard to just blurt out. And I don’t want you to feel obligated to say yes either. Isabel was telling me, and I couldn’t miss all the talk at school, about this dance coming up. She said it’s the big dance for the fall and I was wondering, if you weren’t busy, or if someone hadn’t already asked you. But if you are busy, or if you were going to go with Michael or Alex or something, that’s ok—“
Liz halted his rambling with her hand on his. He looked up from studying the table to meet Liz’s eyes, laughing a little. She looked happy, which he took as a good sign.
“Max, I’ll say yes.”
Max breathed a sigh of relief, amazed that she had known what he wanted to say in the end and how difficult it was for him to ask her.
“Liz, will you go with me to the Homecoming Dance?”
Instead of saying yes, Liz nodded eagerly, her ponytail bobbing up and down. And he felt her fingers tighten on his hand and he grinned at her, reveling in the way her touch made his heart race. She made him feel so alive and so happy, more than he’d even felt before. And then Max realized that he had a whole new set of things to worry about.
Their first date.
Max brushed those worries aside, they were trivial in comparison to the fact that he would be the one walking in with Liz to the dance. She would be standing next to him, holding onto him when they danced and cradled against him all through the night. Liz stood up quickly, her eyes excited.
“I have to go tell Maria! She’ll be so excited. I’ll be right back Max!” Liz said, giving him a little wave as she bounced behind the counter to where Maria was fixing another pot of coffee. Max couldn’t hear them, but he saw their heads lean towards each other and then Maria’s yelp filled the air. Max shook his head at amazement from the unintelligible sounds coming from the girls. Michael stuck his head through the window to the kitchen and he looked at Maria and Liz, puzzled.
“What the hell is going on? Did someone win the lottery?” he asked.
“Better! Max asked Liz to the Homecoming Dance!!!” Maria exclaimed. Michael rolled his eyes at the announcement and then ducked his head back into the kitchen. From far in the back, Max heard Michael yelling.
“Nothing to worry about Dad. Maria and Liz were just excited because Max asked Liz to the Homecoming Dance.”
Max wondered if there was anywhere to hide. He should have known that with Maria around the news would spread like a fire. He knew she was just excited for Liz and he didn’t mind, but it would have been nice to keep as their secret for a little while. Liz and Maria were excitedly discussing what he assumed to be plans for the dance when a new song started on the jukebox. Maria and Liz froze at the sound and Max watched with curiosity as they shared a glance and then Liz leaned into the kitchen, calling for her father.
“Dad, it’s our song,” she said, and Max watched as Jeff came out from behind the café and held out his hand to his daughter, who giggled and ran to him.

Hey where did we go?
Days when the rains came
Down in the hollow
Playing a new game
Laughing and a running
Skipping and a jumping
In the misty morning fog
With our hearts and you
My brown eyed girl
You my brown eyed girl

Now whatever happened?
It’s Tuesday and so slow
Gone down the old man with a transister radio
Standing in the sunlight laughing
Hiding behind a rainbow wall
Slipping and a sliding

Max watched as Jeff spun Liz around and she laughed, her eyes lighting up. Max realized that he was seeing what Liz must have been like as a little girl. Her father was much taller than he and they danced easily together, a testament to the fact that the song probably played often in the Crashdown Café and Liz and her father danced to it every time.
Jeff watched his daughter’s every move as she twirled around in front of him. It had been tradition, for him to dance with his brown eyed girl whenever the song played on the jukebox. The record had never come out of the jukebox since Lizzie had been old enough to stand on his feet when they danced. As time had passed she could stand in front of him on her own, letting him guide her around. Then, something happened and she started to dance with him, knowing how to move, when to pull away, turn under his arm and come back.
And Liz had gone from being a little girl to becoming a graceful young woman who still loved to dance with her father. And as Jeff had watched her the last few weeks, whenever Max was around, he knew that Liz was no longer just his. And, glancing over at Max watching them carefully, a smile on his face as his eyes were locked on Lizzie, Jeff realized he couldn’t have asked for a better person to care for his daughter. It was hard to be gracious when it came to letting his daughter go, but in the same breath, he realized it was actually easier than he thought. All he had to do was look at Liz’s eyes brushing over Max’s face and he knew. With practiced ease, Jeff guided them over to Max’s table and gestured to the young man.
“Max, since you’re going to be taking Lizzie to the dance, don’t you think you should practice?” Jeff suggested. Max found himself nodding slowly and rising from the booth and walking towards them. He caught Liz’s soft smile of thanks to her father and Max thought he saw something akin to bittersweet happiness on Jeff’s face. It wasn’t easy to let Liz go, Max realized.
Jeff stepped aside and Max reached for Liz. She came to him easily, one hand settling on his shoulder and the other clasped in his. His hand found the small of her back and pulled her close. She brushed up against him and Max struggled to ignore the shudders of his body. She was waiting for him, so Max moved to guide them towards the back of the café, at least a little bit away from the eyes of everyone else. The song was quick, so they moved fast, Max spinning Liz around, her laughter filling his ears, her smile the only thing he saw.

With you
My brown eyed girl
You my brown eyed girl
Do you remember when we used to sing
Sha la la la la la la la la di da
La di da

So hot I find my way
Now that I’m all on my own
I saw you just the other day and my how you have grown

My brown eyed girl
You my brown eyed girl

The song ended much too quickly for Max’s liking, but he stayed close to Liz, his arms at her sides and her hands on his shoulders. One of his hands stole up to her face, cupping her cheek and locking her eyes with his. Breathlessly, Liz knew he was going to kiss her. Her eyes fluttered closed, waiting for the welcome pressure of his lips.
“I said today!”
Liz’s eyes snapped open at the angry sound of yelling, coming from the front of the café. Max, still holding her, turned to look with her. Two men were arguing and then one stood up, smashing some plates and a glass.
“I want the money today! Not tomorrow!”
Maria looked at Liz fearfully and Michael was poking his head through the door from the kitchen. Liz held Max next to her, her fingers gripping his arm.
Then she saw the gun.
Liz gasped as the light glinted off the metal of the gun and it suddenly felt like the world slowed down. She heard Maria yell her name and noticed that everyone in the café had ducked down. It seemed like she was moving too slow. She heard the deafening sound of a gunshot once, then a second time. When she hit the ground it almost didn’t hurt. Her head banged against the tile, but she barely noticed.
She felt the weight of something on her, pining her down. Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes. Max was covering her, his body almost limp. Liz moved a little so that Max was next to her, on his back. She leaned over him, and feeling her hands were wet, she wiped them on her apron. Then she brought her hand up to Max’s face and she gasped at the sight of blood, dark red, covering her hands.
Looking down, she saw that blood covered the front of her uniform, she hadn’t even noticed when she wiped her hands. She knew it wasn’t hers. Then she looked over at Max’s chest and saw the dark red covering him, seeping out of him. Max’s eyes were mere slits as he tried to focus on her and he nodded slightly, seeming reassured she was fine. Then he somehow he touched her face briefly before dropping his hand to the ground and his head lolled to the side.
Liz felt fear and despair course through her veins as she placed her hands over the wound on Max’s chest, trying to put pressure on it. Tears ran down her face, but she didn’t bother to wipe them away. Her voice became a litany in her mind, her own words jumbling together as she frantically tried to call him back.
“Max!!! Oh my God! No, no, no, no, no, no!!!!”

TBC . . .

Proud to be a Dreamer!!

Liz: I could feel everything he was feeling. I could feel his loneliness. For the first time I was really seeing Max Evans. I saw me as he saw me, and the amazing thing was, in his eyes, I was beautiful.
Liz: The difficult part is when you follow your heart, you leave normal, you go into the unknown. And once you do, you can never go back.
Max: You're my dream girl, Liz.
Max: What's so great about normal?
posted on 16-Sep-2001 7:39:02 PM
Part 10

Serendipity n. The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them.

Michael stood up slowly from the floor of the Crashdown kitchen. He’d heard the shouting and had been about to go out front and check when the gunshots went off. Instinctively he’d dropped to the floor, listening and, after a few moments of silence, he stood up. Before he even had a chance to speak, yell out for his sister and Maria, he heard Liz’s anguished voice, full of fear as it ripped through the air.
“Max!!! Oh my God! No, no, no, no, no, no!!!!”
Michael ran to the door and pushed through it, looking around quickly as he entered the main part of the restaurant. He gasped at the sight in front of him and felt frozen where he stood. Liz was kneeling over Max, who laid sprawled on the ground, his head lolled to the side and his body completely still. There was blood everywhere, all over Max’s chest, Liz’s arms and the front of her uniform. He realized that it wasn’t hers, she was trying to hold pressure over the wound in what he knew was a futile effort. Max was pale and the blood was beginning to seep onto the linoleum floor.
The restaurant was deathly silent except for Liz’s anguished sobs. Maria had finally stood up, shaking her head slightly and then her hand immediately went to her mouth, which gaped open in shock at the sight of Liz and Max. People in the restaurant were beginning to get up. Some fled in a hurry, not wanting to stay at the scene. Michael looked around carefully and saw that no one had really noticed Max and Liz behind the counter. His father had gone down the street to the bank a few minutes ago.
Michael paused, his mind racked with indecision. He didn’t know if he should even try to save Max. He didn’t think he’d be able to, he’d never tried anything beyond the most simple of healings. Once he’d mended his sister’s broken arm, but that was it. And if he healed Max he’d have to tell him the truth. Max would see images of his life and he’d know Michael was different. And there were people around, what if they saw him? In the end, his sister’s cries forced him to move.
Liz blinked furiously against the tears streaming from her eyes. Her hands were sticky and wet from Max’s blood where she was trying to put pressure on his wound. She whispered his name over and over again through her sobs, unable to believe he could actually be dying. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Max had just asked her to the dance, she was supposed to be giggling with Maria over dress and shoe details while casting glances at Max, sitting across the restaurant, unable to tear his eyes away from her.
They’d been dancing only minutes before. She still remembered the feel of Max’s warm hand on her back, the gentle pressure and reassurance that she was secure in his arms. He’d been about to kiss her, she’d felt his breath on her lips, and her eyes had begun to flutter closed in welcome anticipation. And now, Max was lying on the ground in front of her, his life flowing out of him in seconds. She could feel the warmth leave his body through the blood covering her. She didn’t care. If Max was going to die, she wasn’t going to leave him.
“Maria, keep them back.”
Liz heard her brother’s voice somewhere far away, then she felt hands lifting her, taking her away from Max. She struggled against them, refusing to move.
“NO! I’m not leaving him! Don’t make me leave him!” Liz sobbed, fighting as hands gripped her forearms. She moved to look at Max, still on the ground. She didn’t want to blink or look away from him for fear that he might vanish. Through the haze of her despair she realized Michael was trying to get her attention and she reluctantly looked into his eyes.
“LIZ! Listen to me. I’m going to help him, you just have to move a little bit away, ok?” he said, keeping his voice low. She gulped and tried to nod.
“You’re going to help him? Please Michael, don’t let him die alone,” Liz pleaded, her voice full of tears. Michael nodded slowly, shocked by his sister’s despair. He let go of her and moved to lean over Max. He could see the bullet hole in Max’s t-shirt, low on his stomach. Taking a deep breath and not entirely sure what he was doing, Michael put his hand over the wound and tried to concentrate. He didn’t know if he’d be able to connect with Max while he was unconscious, but he knew he had to try. He realized that Liz had joined him on the floor, she was holding one of Max’s hands against her and stroking his face gently. She whispered his name softly, a chant to call him back.
Michael shook his head in frustration. He wasn’t getting in. Max had to open his eyes and look at him, and he didn’t know if Max was alive enough to do that. And Michael was starting to feel the pressure and exposure of where he was. The police would be there soon, he thought he could hear the sirens in the distance. That meant too many questions. And he knew his father had probably heard by now and would be racing back to the café.
“Dammit! Max, you got to help me out here, you have to look at me,” Michael muttered. Just when he was ready to give up, he saw Max’s head stir a little. And he heard Max’s voice, very weak, as he looked up at Liz.
“Liz . . .”
“Max, I’m here. I’m here,” she whispered, clutching his hand tight. Max started to close his eyes again.
“So tired . . .”
“I know you’re tired Max, but you have to look at Michael, ok? Please, look at Michael,” Liz begged. She helped turn Max’s head to look at Michael and he met Max’s brown eyes, dark with pain. And then he was in.
He saw the flashes of Max’s life, moving swiftly past him as he tried to concentrate on Max’s pain. He ignored Max’s memories, knowing that he didn’t have much time. Max was fading fast. He found the source of Max’s pain and quickly dissolved the bullet. Metal was easy, it was a solid object. Human tissue and damage to organs, bone and skin were another matter. They were alive and much more complicated. And he could tell the damage was extensive. The bullet had torn through Max’s stomach, ripping through muscle and stomach tissue. His liver was a gaping hole and the bullet had richoceted off of Max’s vertebrae, cutting at the bone and nerves there. Michael worked on the bleeding organs first, mending and bringing the tissue back together, containing the blood. Then he moved to the bones in Max’s back, knowing that Max wouldn’t be able to walk if he didn’t reverse the damage to the nerves and bone.
Amazed and satisfied at his work, he worked on the muscle and skin, mending and repairing the last of the damage. He could feel Max’s body like it was his own and he noticed the returning steady beat of Max’s heart, and his body beginning to return to normal. He was almost finished when he heard Maria’s voice, calling to him desperately.
“Michael, the police are coming inside. You have to get away from him,” she whispered urgently. Michael nodded to himself, knowing he was putting himself in danger. He couldn’t help it, if it were Liz, Maria or Alex he would have done the same thing. Michael knew he was done and he was about to break the connection with Max when he saw an image of Max’s life that made him stop and stare in shock.
It was an image that looked like it had been taken underwater. Then there were childlike hands, pushing in front of him, pushing at a barrier ahead of him. He could sense the urgency, the need to get out of the water around him. And then he was free, pushing out through what looked like a pod into a damp, cool cave. His eyes, or the eyes Max saw in his memory, looked around and saw more pods, one broken open and another still solid. With a flash, Michael blinked and the connection was gone. His hands shaking, he looked down at Max, still unconscious and he waved his hand over the scene, getting rid of the blood and patching the hole in Max’s shirt. He waved his hand over his sister, making the blood disappear, even though she barely noticed. He rocked back on his heals and took a deep breath, running a hand through his spiky hair.
Those memories of Michael’s he’d seen were more than a little scary. Because not only were they just like his, they were a little different too, which meant they had to be real. Max had to be an alien like him.

Max was cold. His head was swimming with pain and he groaned a little, not wanting to open his eyes. He kept feeling flashes of memory, but he couldn’t focus, couldn’t remember what had happened. All he could remember was dancing with Liz, her lips invitingly close, then the cold, hard floor. And Liz’s cries, calling him, demanding that he not leave. He’d opened his eyes, seen her crying and only wanted to comfort her, tell her not to cry anymore. But he’d been so tired, and sleep had seemed so wonderful. Then something happened, and now he was cold. Not tired, but aching all over. He slowly opened his eyes and squinted against the bright lights on the ceiling above his eyes.
He felt the warmth of someone against his side and he moved his head a little, seeing Liz stooped over him, her hands holding his and her face anxiously looking at him. The relief and joy on her face as he looked at her puzzled him. Why was she so happy? He moved his head around some more and he saw Michael at his feet, shock written across his face. Struggling to sit up, he leaned against one of the cabinets and rubbed the back of his head. He winced at the bump he found there, he must have hit his head when he fell. But why had he fallen?
Max was so confused. And as Liz scooted closer to him, he suddenly remembered. He’d been shot. Realization dawned across his face and he looked from Liz to Michael, wanting to find an answer.
“I was shot,” he managed to choke out. His hands searched across his stomach and he found no wound, no hole in his body or clothes. Liz’s hands moved over his on his stomach and he tried not to jump at her touch. His senses felt heightened, and Liz touching him had a tendency to make him jump even in ordinary circumstances.
“Yeah, I healed you,” Michael whispered. Max looked at him, unable to answer when the police burst into the café and Michael stood up, moving out of eyesight. Max stayed on the floor with Liz, not wanting to move and feeling unable to. He looked back at Liz and saw her brown eyes filling with tears that spilled down her cheeks. He reached up and wiped them away.
“Are you ok?” he asked, his voice a whisper. He ignored all the voices swirling around them and concentrated on her. She looked shaken and he suddenly worried that she might have been hurt.
“I’m fine. I should be asking you that question,” she replied.
“I’m ok, I think I’m ok,” he said, trying to reassure her and himself. Liz was trembling next to him and he rubbed her arms.
“Max, I watched you almost die. I could feel you dying,” she said, her voice watery as the tears began again. And Max felt the gravity of her words. He had almost died. And her voice had brought him back, had made him open his eyes. When he told her this she began to cry in earnest and Max pulled her onto his lap, his arms hugging her close as her arms circled his waist. She curled up against him and buried her face in his neck as he stroked her hair. He didn’t try to talk, just holding her seemed to calm her down. And holding her calmed him down as well. His stomach was tight with fear and it only seemed to lessen as Liz sat with him.
He had no idea how long they sat together. It seemed like hours, but was likely only a few minutes. Liz’s fingers were wrapped in his shirt, clutching at him until his hand reached up and laced his fingers with hers. She relaxed under the contact and when she finally looked up at him, she smiled. He realized that the police were milling around, talking to people and he knew they would want to question him. He just didn’t know what to say. And what had Michael meant when he said “I healed you”? How was that possible? The only way he could have done what he said he’d done would be if he was just like them. As Max stood, his legs wobbly, he realized that Michael had to be one of them. Michael was an alien.
Immediately he looked around and saw that Michael had disappeared. And he knew he couldn’t let the police think anything had happened, they couldn’t know that he had been shot. He leaned down and whispered into Liz’s ear.
“If the police ask, just tell them you knocked me down when the gunshots went off and I hit my head. I was unconscious for awhile, that’s why I didn’t get up,” he said. Liz’s eyes met his and he begged her with his own to trust him. Instead of questions he thought would follow, she nodded.
Max was still a little puzzled. Liz went along with his plan so easily, she didn’t question why. She didn’t seem all that fazed by the fact that Michael had healed him. She must still be in shock, he realized. Max knew he had to find Michael, talk to him about what had happened. They had more in common than both of them had originally thought. Max was beginning to get flashes of memories he’d seen in Michael when they’d been connected. And he realized that Michael probably had questions, just like he did.
Liz stayed close to his side, not relinquishing her hold on his hand. The police questioned them and seemed to accept their story. Maria was off to the side, gulping in huge breaths of something coming from a small bottle in her hand. Max knew she had to be in shock too. None of them seemed to be looking for Michael, in fact, Liz had lied to the police and told them Michael wasn’t there that day. Could they possibly be in on Michael’s secret? No, he decided, they were probably just selectively remembering what had happened. But there was no way Liz would be able to gloss over the facts, she had been right by him the entire time. And Liz was a scientist, she would ask questions and would want to figure everything out. He had to talk to Michael to decide what they were going to say to her.
“Oh my God! Max, are you ok?” Isabel said, rushing into the café with Alex close behind. She ran up to him and gave him a quick hug before she pulled back, her eyes examining him closely.
“We were just down the street when we heard there’d been a shooting. They wouldn’t let us in until now. What happened?” she asked.
“Max knocked me down when the gunshot went off and hit his head in the process,” Liz said. Max watched Isabel’s eyes narrow. She had an uncanny ability to tell when people were lying. Not an alien trait, but more of a sixth sense. Plus, Liz was a terrible liar. He’d realized that right away and was glad no one questioned her too extensively.
“Later Iz,” Max urged her under his breath, so Liz wouldn’t hear. She gave a barely perceivable nod of her head and then turned to Maria, who was talking with Alex. Max turned to face Liz, talking both her hands in his.
“Listen, I need to find Michael, see if he’s ok. Will you be alright?” he asked.
“Let me go with you,” she suggested. His answer was quick.
“No! I mean, I think it would be better if you stayed with Maria while she calms down. I’ll be back later, ok?” he said. Liz finally nodded and he sensed the reluctance she felt. He wanted to talk to Michael alone, he couldn’t let Liz find out about his secret. He felt a pit of dread in his stomach, thinking that it might be inevitable anyway, but he wanted to pretend for a little while longer that Liz would look at him like a normal human being. Because all that would change once she found out. He backed away from her slowly, walking towards the front door. As he pushed the door open he looked back at her. She looked so small, standing in the midst of all the police. He climbed into the jeep and, after casting one last glance towards Liz, peeled away from the front of the Crashdown. Maria walked up to Liz.
“Do you think he knows?” she asked quietly, her voice betraying some of the worry she felt for Michael.
“He knows something happened. Michael will have to tell him,” Liz said. Maria felt her throat constrict.
“What’s going to happen then?” she asked. Liz shrugged, suddenly unsure.
“I don’t know.”

Max drove through downtown Roswell, not really sure what precisely he was looking for. He had no clue where Michael might go and he had even less of an idea about how to make his way through the town that he wasn’t yet familiar with. So he drove aimlessly, turning down streets and hoping for a sign of Michael somewhere. He was almost ready to give up when he passed by an old rundown building just outside of town. The old soap factory, he realized. Some of the kids at school had mentioned it as the hotspot for a lot of parties. Pulling the jeep up to the front, he thought it looked like an ideal hiding spot.
Max pushed through the large door, careful to shut it behind him. Light filtered in through broken glass and highlighted the dirt and dust in the air. The building had a tall ceiling and Max could smell the lingering scent of beer, probably from the last party. There were several levels to the building, and climbing the stairs, he went to the highest point, rounded a corner and found Michael, sitting by a window under the now low, stooped ceiling. He looked up as Max approached and watched warily as Max sat next to him, dangling his own feet out the window.
They sat in companionable silence, both still trying to digest all that had happened. When Michael finally spoke, Max actually jumped. The air had seemed so still, an absence of sound.
“Are Liz and Maria ok?” he asked, instantly worried for his sister and friend. Max nodded.
“Yeah, they were a little shaken up, but they’re fine. Isabel and Alex are with them now,” Max said.
“Good, Alex will take care of them,” Michael replied. The silence engulfed them both again and they sat until Max finally couldn’t stay silent any longer.
“Michael, what happened back there? Do you realize what happened? I mean, that you healed me, that you and me are the same?” Max asked, finding it hard to put his emotions into words. Michael nodded, then gave him a lopsided grin.
“You mean that you and I are both aliens? Yeah, I kind of figured that out,” he replied.
“How long have you known?” Max asked.
“Since the beginning. I remembered breaking out of my pod and leaving the cave, but I didn’t remember that there was anyone else there until I saw your memories. And I never could find that cave again, I’ve searched for years. I could always do things, like fix things, move objects, but I’ve never been able to heal someone like that before,” Michael said.
“We’ve known since the beginning too,” Max said softly. Michael’s head shot up.
“Me and Isabel. We were both there,” Max said, knowing that keeping Isabel a secret was not an option.
“Wow, I knew there was something familiar about you guys, but I had no idea it was this,” Michael replied.
“Listen, Michael, thank you, for saving my life. That must have been hard, to make that decision to risk being found out,” Max observed. Michael nodded slowly.
“It wasn’t easy. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, growing up with Liz and being friends with Maria and Alex, it’s that you always have to look out for your friends. And I could never stand to see Lizzie in that much pain,” Michael whispered, the image of Liz crying over Max flashing through his mind, permanently seared into his memory.
“We told the police that I fell and hit my head. They seemed to buy the story. But what are we going to say to the others? To Liz and Maria?” Max asked worriedly.
“We tell them the truth,” Michael replied, as if there were no other option. Max shook his head violently.
“No! We can’t tell them!”
“Why not?” Michael asked, confused. Max’s heart beat with fear, thinking about the look on Liz’s face, the revulsion, the horror, when she found out that he wasn’t a normal human.
“Because I don’t want to lose Liz because I’m not from this planet.”
Michael nodded slowly, realization dawning. Max thought that the others didn’t know about him, that he’d kept his identity a secret all these years. And he suddenly realized the fear and panic that must have caused him. It made sense, why Max was so on edge. He put a hand on Max’s shoulder.
“Max, you don’t have to worry. Liz won’t look at you any different,” he tried to reassure him. Max shook his head, not believing his words.
“Think about it Michael, how would any human react to knowing aliens walk among them? She’s your sister, aren’t you worried about her reaction?” he asked. Michael shrugged.
“Max, Liz already knows. She knows everything, she was there when the Parkers found me ten years ago.”

TBC . . .

Part 11

Serendipity n. The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them.

“Wait, what do you mean, ‘Liz knows’?” Max asked, trying to grasp at what Michael was telling him.
“I mean that Liz and the Parkers found me when I hatched from the pod. I was wandering through the desert and they drove by and stopped and took me home. I saw Liz and I knew. She held out her hand and I knew then that I didn’t have to be afraid. I don’t remember much from coming out of the pods. I’ve never been able to find the cave where I came from, I just don’t have any clear memory of that night,” Michael said thoughtfully. He fixed his eyes on Max.
“I thought I was the only one.”
Michael’s voice sounded amazed and happy and Max couldn’t help feeling less alone knowing that there were three of them now.
“I don’t remember much from that night. Isabel has told me that she hatched first and she went out into the desert before she got scared and came back inside. She found me, she says I was scared from something and relieved to see her. We walked out into the desert together and then the Evans found us,” Max replied. Michael’s head shot up.
“Wow, this is a lot. All this time, and you guys were out there,” Michael replied. Michael stood up and began to pace over the dusty floor. Max stayed sitting, watching Michael walk back and forth.
“We moved to Colorado really soon after that and we never found the cave again. Isabel’s been wanting to look since we got back though,” Max said, thinking of how Isabel’s request had made him cringe. Something about that night, the night they’d come out of the pods, he was almost certain it connected to his nightmares. He just wasn’t sure he wanted to find out what the root of it all was. His nightmares were terrifying, he hated even thinking about them. And Isabel had never been able to dreamwalk into his nightmares to see what they were about.
“I remember when Liz figured it all out. Our parents don’t know, they just assumed I was an abandoned child. Liz broke her arm playing softball or soccer or something and I sat with her and mended her arm. She saw my memories and she knew. She never treated me any different Max, and she won’t do that now, I promise you that,” Michael vowed. Max nodded, knowing that Michael might be right. But he felt a pit in his stomach. It didn’t really change the fact that they were different and now she would know why. He’d liked the idea of being a normal guy with the prettiest girl in school as his girlfriend. He couldn’t help but feel that it would all change, even if Liz accepted how he and Isabel were different.
“What do we do now?” Max asked softly.
“We have to back and tell the others. Liz will have questions, she saw me heal you. And she and Maria will worry about letting you in on the secret. Not that she wouldn’t trust you, but she worries about anyone finding out,” Michael said. He looked through a broken window and grinned. Max stood up at the sound of car tires on gravel and he looked through a few boards, feeling his heart lurch as a red Jetta halted next to his jeep.
“Looks like they found us,” Michael commented as Liz, Maria, Isabel and Alex climbed out of the jeep. Liz looked up to the high window of the soap factory, catching sight of her brother’s spiky hair through the opening.
“They’re inside,” she said, leading the others through the dusty factory. Finally when they got to the room where Michael and Max were, Liz felt her heart beat a little faster. Michael had a different look on his face, she would almost say happy. And Max, Max’s eyes were downcast, and he seemed to be staring intently at his sneakers. Isabel quickly rushed over to Max while Liz turned to her brother. She touched his arm and he turned his eyes to her.
“Michael, are you ok?” Liz asked, her voice conveying more than the simple question. She could tell he was physically fine, but she worried for him, now that more people knew his secret. She still couldn’t believe the look up happiness on his face, like he’d been given the world.
“I’m great Lizzie, better than I ever have been,” he said truthfully, glancing over at Max and Isabel. Liz was confused.
“Michael, what do you mean?” she asked, her voice low. Michael gently moved past her and walked over to Maria, who was standing with Alex by the door. Maria’s eyes swam with tears as he approached.
“I’ll explain in a minute,” he murmured. Liz nodded numbly and watched her brother go to Maria. They simply looked at one another for a minute and then Michael whispered something to her. Maria’s face crumpled and then she hugged Michael fiercely, her arms holding his shoulders tight. Michael lifted her off the ground a little as he crushed her against him and Liz felt her own eyes fill with tears.
Maria had been so worried for Michael on the ride over. Max had been shot and Michael had exposed himself to save him. And Maria had been angry at Michael too, angry that he’d put himself in harm’s way. Liz had managed to tamp down her urge to retort that if Michael hadn’t acted then Max would be dead, a thought that chilled her to the bone. She would always been in awe of her brother for doing what he had to save Max.
Liz glanced over at Max and Isabel and she looked on with interest as Isabel’s face went from shocked to ecstatic in a matter of seconds. She hugged Max quickly and then turned to Alex, who was the closest. She hugged Alex and he grinned, not really sure why she was so happy but eager to comply with her happy attitude. Maria and Michael had finally pulled away and Michael was wiping the tears from her cheeks.
Liz looked over at Max again, wishing he would look at her. She knew if she could just see his eyes she would know what he was thinking. Michael brought Maria over to the group and Liz watched with surprise as Michael reached out for Isabel’s hand. Isabel smiled and took his hand to everyone’s surprise. Liz was perplexed, she hadn’t thought they were even that close.
“I think everyone knows what happened this afternoon,” Michael said after clearing his throat. “Max was shot in the café and I healed him. He would have died if I hadn’t. But what I don’t think everyone knows is what it all means. I healed Max because he’s my friend and it wasn’t his time. When I heal someone I see images of their life and because we connect they see images and memories from my life as well. What I didn’t expect to see in Max’s memories were the same things from my memories.”
Liz listened carefully, knowing whatever Michael had to say, it was important. As she processed his last words, her jaw dropped. She quickly looked at Max and then at Isabel, realizing what Michael had to mean.
“Max and Isabel are like me. We were on the same ship in 1947. Together,” Michael finished for Liz. No one spoke, the air was practically frozen around them. Liz heard the scratching of a rat somewhere deep in the factory and the sound almost echoed in the silence. Her head was reeling.
Michael wasn’t alone.
Max and Isabel were aliens too.
Max had almost died.
Max was an alien.
Max was an alien.
Liz shook her head, trying to sort out the words tumbling around, confusing her. She looked at Max and her heart fell at the sight of his stricken face, staring at her. He looked away quickly and she saw him blinking rapidly, like he was trying not to cry. Suddenly his shoulders straightened and Max moved back from the group and towards the door.
Desperate, Liz raced after him, having to run. Max moved faster than her and she didn’t know why he was running, but she had to catch him. She just knew he’d been hurt by the shocked look on her face. She couldn’t help it, she’d never thought that there would be more like Michael out there. And it was a bit of an adjustment to realize that the boy she had a crush on was an alien.
“Max! Please, Max, wait!” Liz called. He either didn’t hear her or he ignored her, because Max kept running. He climbed into the jeep and tried to start the car. The engine stalled and Max turned the key again, cursing loudly as tears streamed down his face.
He could hear her plaintive voice, calling his name. She sounded confused, hurt. And it was taking every bit of willpower to run away from her. But he had to. No matter what Michael said, they were different. He knew Michael had been accepted by Liz, Alex and Maria, but Max couldn’t comprehend the possibility. And he didn’t want to see that look on her face, the shock, the horror, every again. The engine stalled again, and by the point Liz had jumped into the passenger side of the jeep, gripping the seat tightly.
“What are you doing, Liz?” he asked angrily. She was just making it harder, and Max couldn’t stand that. He didn’t want her to feel some kind of obligation to him because of what had happened to him.
“I’m going wherever you’re going. Max, please look at me,” she said, her voice trembling. He shook his head.
“Why not?” she asked softly. Max shook his head again and jumped out of the jeep, walking swiftly away from the factory and the cars. He groaned as he heard her light footsteps coming after him.
“Max, what’s wrong? Please, why are you running away from me? What did I do?” she asked helplessly. Max finally spun around and looked at her. Liz looked stunned as she took in the tears on his face and the desperation in his eyes.
“Liz, you didn’t do anything! It’s who I am, what I am! Don’t you see? I thought things could be normal, I thought you and I could be normal!” he said, his voice exploding.
“We can! Max, nothing’s changed!” Liz yelled back.
“Everything has changed!” Max replied. Liz fell silent, not sure how to respond. His tone of voice had been so strong, and so final. He was breathing hard, gulping in huge breaths of air and angrily wiping the tears from his face.
“I’m not the same person you thought I was,” Max said softly. Liz took a tentative step forward.
“Yes, you are Max. If I thought you were the same person then you’re right, everything would have changed. You haven’t changed Max. You’re still the guy who rescued me from Kyle that awful day. You came up my balcony that night and held me all night. I sang to you at the Pizza Pan. We danced in the Crashdown. Max, you are the same person. I am the same person,” Liz said, her voice lowering to a whisper.
Max studied her face, seeing the honesty there, the truthfulness. He wanted to believe her, he really did. And he thought that she might even believe what she was saying. But something held him back. How would she ever be able to trust him again? Shaking his head, he backed away from her.
“I’m sorry, Liz, I wish I was the same person, but I’m not,” he said before turning away and running. And Liz, too stunned to move, didn’t follow him.

“So, you and Max were in the same crash as Michael was?” Alex asked. Isabel nodded, gauging his reaction. A grin swept his face.
Isabel smiled at Alex, hopeful that his response was as positive as it seemed.
“How do you feel about all this?” Isabel asked. Alex shrugged.
“You mean that you and Max are aliens too? I think it’s awesome for the three of you, there are more of you than you all thought. I also think that it’s pretty cool that I get to be the only guy in school who’s taking the gorgeous alien girl to the Homecoming Dance this Friday,” Alex said, his eyes softening as they met Isabel’s. She breathed a sigh of belief and launched herself into his arms.
“You still want to go? With me?” she asked. Alex stroked the back of her hair gently.
“Of course I do. Isabel, nothing has changed about who you are. We all have little pieces of our family genetics that maybe we wish we didn’t have. Yours just happens to be more widespread,” Alex said. Isabel pulled back and smiled at him.
“I’m not sure that description is entirely accurate, but I’ll take it,” Isabel replied.
“Good,” Alex replied, rubbing her shoulder. Isabel was about to say something else when Liz entered the room. She’d run out, after Max, a few minutes before and the rest of them had wisely remained where they were, opting to give Max and Liz some space. Now, Liz was back, and Max wasn’t following her.
“Liz, where did Max go?” Michael asked, approaching his sister. She shook her head helplessly.
“I don’t know. He ran away from me, nothing I could say made a difference,” Liz replied. Isabel stepped forward, taking Liz’s hands in her own.
“Liz, I know this probably doesn’t make any sense, but this is what Max does. He’s never thought that he could be a normal guy, and he’s been living in fear since we got here. And he likes you Liz, more than he’s ever thought he could like anyone. It just makes it harder for him, he thinks he has more to lose,” Isabel tried to explain.
“But I tried to tell him that doesn’t matter to me! It was like I was talking to a brick wall, nothing I said made a bit of difference. And then he just ran away and I didn‘t go after him. I should have, but I couldn’t, the idea that he was running away from me just didn’t sink in,” Liz said, running a hand through her hair. Isabel nodded, realizing her brother was probably using typical avoidance tactics.
“Isabel, what do I do? How do I make him hear me?” Liz asked desperately.
“You have to wait. Just give him some time.”

TBC . . .

Part 12

Serendipity n. The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them.

Liz stood with Michael, Maria and Alex outside the school Wednesday morning. Her three friends were laughing and talking about something excitedly, but she barely paid attention. Her eyes were searching the parking lot, looking for the exact second that Max and Isabel would arrive at school. She desperately wanted to see Max, to talk to him. Isabel had convinced her not to find Max the night before, to give him a few hours to be by himself, but Liz felt anxious, like Max needed her. Needed her to talk to, to explain things to, something.
She felt her heart beat rapidly as she heard the telltale sound of Max’s old jeep probably a block away. She saw the dark jeep pull into the parking lot and claim a parking spot and Liz was off at a run, determined to catch Max before he managed to duck away. She was breathless as she ran to the driver’s side of the jeep and finally stopped.
Liz’s face crumpled as she looked to see Isabel sitting in the driver’s seat. A quick survey of the jeep told her that Max wasn’t there. She met Isabel’s sympathetic eyes.
“He stayed home today. He told Mom that he was sick and since Max has never been home from school sick from anything it was everything he had to do for her not to call 911. He wouldn’t even talk to me, not really. I tried Liz, but he kept cutting me off. And then he slammed the door in my face. I’m sorry,” Isabel said, sliding out of the jeep. Liz shook her head.
“No, it’s not your fault. It’s mine. I shouldn’t have let him walk away from me last night. He thinks that I think he’s some kind of freak or something and even though nothing could be further from the truth, I don’t know how to make him believe me,” Liz said sadly. Isabel nodded.
“I think you’re right. He’s always been fearful of what we really are, ever since we were young. He has these nightmares that are so violent and scary that I’ve never been able to see what they are,” Isabel said.
“Nightmares? How would you be able to see them?” Liz asked curiously.
“I can walk into someone’s dreams, see what they see, be a part of the world in their head. Once Max asked me to try and figure out what he dreams about, because maybe then he would understand why they are so violent, but I couldn’t get into his head, he was blocking me or something. He doesn’t always dream about them, but when he does, it even scares me,” Isabel said.
“I think maybe he’s worried that they say something about our alien heritage, about who he is, and he doesn’t want to know. Sometimes not knowing is better than the truth,” Isabel continued. Liz shook her head.
“I don’t think even Max really believes that. I know he’s scared, I could tell yesterday, but I also know that part of him wants the truth,” Liz said, holding out her hand.
“Can I borrow your car?”
“Right now? Liz, school’s about to start!” Isabel exclaimed.
“I know, but there’s somewhere else I need to be right now. Please, Isabel,” Liz said softly. Isabel nodded and handed over the keys. Liz climbed into the jeep and started the engine, putting the car in reverse with a lot of effort and pulling out of the parking space. Isabel watched her, her own face troubled, as Liz sped out of the school parking lot as the warning bell rang. Alex came up behind her, touching her shoulder gently.
“Hey, where’s Liz going?” Alex asked. Isabel turned to meet his eyes.
“I’ll give you one guess,” she said dryly.

Max listened as his mother walked away from his room towards the kitchen. He sighed and glanced over at the plate of food she’d just brought in. He wasn’t hungry and even the tantalizing bottle of Tabasco next to the eggs didn’t look appetizing. He kicked off the sheets and comforter on his bed and sat up, staring at his flannel pajama bottoms. Even in his tank top he felt hot. He put his face in his hands and sighed.
He knew Isabel hadn’t been fooled. They never got sick. And he wasn’t sick, not physically anyway. He just kept seeing the look on Liz’s face, like a nightmare haunting him, that look that told him he could never be normal, that he could never be with her. And even though he’d tried to tell himself that it could happen exactly that way, somehow he’d hoped. He’d hoped it wouldn’t be. And even if Liz tried to convince him otherwise, he’d seen that look in her eyes.
Max turned his head as he heard the jeep coming towards the house. That was strange, school had started a few minutes before. Why would Isabel be coming back? Probably to convince him to come one more time. It wasn’t just that he didn’t want to face Liz, he didn’t want her to have to face him. When he heard the knock on the front door Max sat up even straighter. Why would Isabel knock?
Max felt his heart begin to beat faster and he realized that his body knew before his eyes could even rest on her. Liz was here, he was sure of it. And after the murmuring voices down the hall, coming closer, Max looked around desperately. Then he sighed, where was he going to hide? Under the bed? In the closet?
The slight knock on the door made him freeze and he waited, completely uncertain of what to do. There was a long pause and he could almost see Liz on the other side, her head leaning towards the door, her hand resting on the knob to turn it.
Max closed his eyes painfully at the sound of his name from her voice.
“Max, can I come in? Please?”
He tried to open his mouth, to say the words to make her go away, but the sounds just wouldn’t form in his throat. He just couldn’t make her go away, he couldn’t knowingly send her away from him.
“Max, if you want me to go, just say the words. If you don’t say anything in the next ten seconds I’m going to come in, ok?”
Max waited, ten seconds passing like ten years. Part of him wanted to say something, but his heart wouldn’t let him. He kept quiet and he waited, growing more and more anxious as the seconds ticked by. Finally, the door knob started to turn and he took a step back, looking up as Liz entered. She looked at him shyly and shut the door behind her, closing out the world.
“Your mom let me in,” she explained.
“Hasn’t school started? I thought I heard the jeep,” Max commented. Liz nodded.
“Yeah, school started awhile ago. I borrowed the jeep from Isabel. Max, I couldn’t just sit around at school while you were here, thinking about yesterday and thinking about what I was thinking,” Liz said. Max held up his hands.
“Liz, you don’t have to explain—“
“Yes, I do! Max, I didn’t react the best way possible, and I’m sorry. I just never thought that we would ever find anyone else like Michael. You have to believe me Max, it doesn’t change anything about how I feel about you,” Liz said forcefully. Max sighed.
“I want to believe that, I do. But I don’t know that I can. All my life I’ve felt different and I just don’t know that I ever actually can be normal. I want more than anything to believe you,” Max whispered. Liz nodded slowly, then her eyes lit up and she stepped closer to Max.
“What if I could prove it to you?” Liz suggested. Max gave her a skeptical look.
“How could you do that?” Max asked, curiosity getting the better of him.
“I’ve connected with Michael before, when he’s healed me. I would get a rush of images from his mind, and that’s how I realized that he wasn’t human. I saw things from his life, images and things flashed into my mind and I knew how he felt about them. Maybe we can make the connection go the other way,” Liz suggested. Max looked up at her, staring into her eyes, unbelieving. He couldn’t believe that what she was suggesting could even be possible. Liz took another step forward so that she was close enough to feel the heat radiating off him. Her voice lowered to a murmur.
“So you can see, you know that, that I’m still me.”
Max studied Liz’s brown eyes, seeing no uncertainty, no fear. He realized that she wanted to prove to him that she hadn’t changed, that she was the same person. He nodded slowly, wanting more than anything to see where this might take them. It might give him the answers he needed, it might save him.
“I have to touch you,” he whispered. Liz nodded and he reached forward tentatively, his fingers brushing her face and burrowing at the sides of her chin in the silky smoothness of her hair.
“Now just take deep breaths and try to let your mind blank out,” Max said. Liz pulled air into her lungs and released it, making Max almost lose concentration at the feeling of her breath against his face, soft and warm. His eyes locked on hers and then he saw a flash of light. Images flew past him and he tried to blink, tried to slow them down.
He saw Liz as a little girl, finding Michael in the desert. Her gentle smile coaxed him near and he felt the overwhelming love she had for her adopted brother.
He saw the day Michael healed Liz, revealing himself to her. And he saw Liz’s gentle understanding, the way she took her brother’s hand and led him back to the playground.
He saw Maria, Alex, Michael and Liz, playing at the resevoir, laughing and having fun like ordinary teenagers.
He saw Liz, sitting on her balcony, waiting anxiously for Michael, her anxiety increasing with each passing minute. He saw the relief flood her face as she heard his voice calling from the ladder and saw his face over the edge of the balcony. And he saw the way she embraced him, tight and crushing.
He saw her sitting on the bleachers on the first day of school. He felt her fear as Kyle grabbed her and shoved her against the wall. Her terror screamed to him until suddenly it stopped and he was looking into his own eyes. He felt how she instantly felt safe, how she clung to him, how she needed him as he picked her up.
He felt how embarrassed she’d been, singing on stage in front of everyone at the Pizza Pan. But he felt how she wanted to say something somehow to him, anything to try and make him see what she felt for him.
He felt her terror as she realized he’d been shot, that he might die. Her grief felt like a knife in his stomach as she desperately called to him. And he heard her pleading, wishing him back.
He felt her confusion as she considered what her brother told them, that Max was one of them. Then the wonder she felt, the absolute joy that her brother was not alone almost knocked him over.
He felt her sadness as he ran from her, and how she felt for hurting him. She blamed herself and the only thing she wanted was to prove to him that she didn’t see him any different.
Max felt the flashes slipping away, becoming more transparent and he wanted to hold on. Liz’s mind was a safe, comforting place that he never wanted to leave. As the images faded into the shapes and colors of his room, Max realized he was still staring deep into Liz’s eyes. And she stared back, a look of surprise on her face. He was reluctant to pull away from her and unable to contain his joy.
Liz needed him. Her view of him hadn’t changed. He was still the same person to her. Max pulled her into a hug, crushing her against him and sighing with relief. He felt her relax in his arms as she hugged his shoulders tightly.
“I guess it worked,” Liz said softly. Max finally pulled back and nodded happily. He touched her face with his hands, tracing her delicate jaw with his fingers. His head leaned down as he watched her breath quicken and her eyes begin to close. Her face turned up towards his and he finally closed his eyes letting himself go as he kissed Liz.
Max felt like all his defenses were down for the first time as he immersed himself in the feeling of her lips under his. How she responded, pulling him closer, moving her lips against him, hungrily showing him what she felt. Max realized that their connection had sparked to life again as they kissed and their hands roamed, touching as many places as they could find. Her firm hands holding the back of his neck, playing in his hair and tracing his shoulders urged him on as he pressed against her, his hands tracing around her waist, fingers dipping under her shirt. Suddenly she gasped and Max pulled away, instantly chiding himself.
“God, I’m sorry Liz, I shouldn’t have—“
“No, no Max, it’s not that,” Liz was quick to insist. Her eyes were wide as she took deep breaths, her lips swollen and her hair rumpled from his touching.
“Did you see it? Max, did you see it?” she asked urgently.
“What? What are you talking about, what did you see?” he asked.
“When we kissed, we connected and I saw it, I saw in your mind Max. I saw where you, Michael and Isabel crashed. And I saw the one thing that scares you the most, the reason you have nightmares. Max, I saw everything.”

TBC . . .

Part 13

Serendipity n. The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries
when not in search of them.

Max looked at her, astonished. She was handing him every answer
he was looking for, things he’d never been able to see himself. Meeting
Liz had been the catalyst to everything in his life. He was both
apprehensive and excited at the same time. What if she saw things about him that revealed how truly despising his alien side was? Even if it was a comfortable illusion, he liked to consider himself to be nice, normal Max Evans. Finally, he realized Liz was waiting for his response.
“What did you see?” he asked. Liz shook her head.
“I think it would be better for me to show you. Come on,” Liz
replied, taking his hand and leading him out his bedroom door. The
anticipation seemed to flow from Liz, Max could feel it rolling off of her.
He barely had a chance to grab his jacket as she pulled him out the door and to the jeep. He let her climb into the driver’s seat and she backed the jeep up and onto the street. Both Max and Liz were silent as Liz drove the jeep through downtown Roswell and headed into the desert. He’d never felt more nervous in his entire life. Liz was offering him something he thought would always remain untold.
The truth. And he didn’t quite know what to do with it.
“Where are we going?” he asked over the wind washing over them.
Liz turned the wheel and took the jeep off road as she slowed down to accommodate the dips in the ground. Liz glanced over at Max and smiled.
“The place where you, Michael and Isabel came from. I saw it, I
know where it is,” Liz said excitedly. Max couldn’t stop his jaw from
dropping open in amazement.
“You-how did you know where it was? Why didn’t Michael know?” Max
“He never had a clear memory of the actual place, just the inside
pod chamber. He could never remember what the desert looked like when
he came out. And there’s too much desert around Roswell to search and
hope that something might appear. I saw the rock formation when we
connected. Michael, Alex, Maria and I used to play in the area all the
time. It has great hide and seek places,” Liz said thoughtfully. Max
“I guess so, if that’s where the chamber has been hidden all these years,” Max replied.
Suddenly, Liz hit the brake and stopped the car. Max looked at her and she nodded ahead of them, her eyes shining with
“There it is,” she whispered. Max followed her gaze and turned his eyes to the jagged rock formation slanted towards the sky. He looked at it with apprehension, wondering if that rock somehow held answers to everything he’d questioned about himself. He hated that it might confirm his worst fears about his true alien nature, that he was a freak.
But a strong part of him couldn’t just walk away, couldn’t know that the answers were out there and that he had chosen not to hear them. Even though it might hurt, he had to know the truth. The only way he could avoid that was if it meant losing Liz. He might be able to
accept ignorance if he couldn’t be with her. But then he also realized
that avoiding the truth was ignoring a part of himself and he knew deep
down that even Liz wouldn’t accept that. She would urge him to find
out all he could. He just had a hard time telling himself that he could
be who he was and she might still care for him.
Nodding his head and deciding, Max climbed down from the jeep and
joined Liz on the ground in front of the car. She stood with him and
then her small hand slipped into his and squeezed gently. He looked down at her, the wind blowing her hair, and smiled. Her hand still in his, he climbed with Liz up the rock, finding his way carefully. He used Liz to both stabilize his path and keep her from losing balance as they climbed.
The closer they got the more he felt the pull of something.
Something that was telling him where to go. He felt like he needed to hurry and Max quickened his pace until both he and Liz were panting heavily. Liz followed him close behind, her hand still anchored in his until Max stopped. She bumped into him from behind and she looked around his shoulder at the face of the rough rock wall in front of them. She glanced up at Max’s face and saw him concentrating, his brow furrowed as he looked at the wall.
“Max, what is it?” she asked. Max shook his head.
“I don’t know. Something’s telling me this is where we need to
be,” he whispered. Liz smiled at his inclusion of her. She noticed he
still seemed uncertain.
“What else do you feel? Trust your instincts Max, they’ll guide
you,” she urged. Max nodded and he took a deep breath, letting go of
everything but her right hand in his left hand. He heard Liz take a sharp breath and he opened his eyes to see his right hand reaching for the rock face and passing over the rough tan rock surface. The rock glowed and shimmered, bending the light almost until is seemed to disappear. Max realized they were looking at the dark shadow of an entryway into the cave. Liz was pulling him forward when he stopped her.
“Wait, Liz. I don’t know if you should go in there. What if it’s
not safe?” he asked. Liz looked at him incredulously.
“Then I’m certainly not letting you go in there alone. Besides, I
know this cave, Max. I saw it in your memories and I can tell you what
you need to know. Come on,” she urged, pulling him after her. They
entered the cave together and Max followed Liz as she led them towards a wider opening.
Max felt the air whoosh from his lungs as he suddenly realized
where they were, that he recognized it, that it felt like the one place so far in the world that he remembered from before he and Isabel had been found. The ceiling was high and carved roughly into the rock to fit the pods circling the middle. The pods were covered in dust from the rocks and cobwebs from years inside the rocks. There were four pods.
Liz passed by the first three pods, cracked and broken, the places that long ago Max, Michael and Isabel had broken free. Liz slowed her steps as she approached the fourth pod, intact and covered with a film of brown dirt. Hesitantly she reached her hand towards the rounded covering and wiped away some of the dirt. She gasped and stepped back, immediately falling against Max’s warm chest. She looked at the pod and then at Max, her face full of sadness.
“Max, she’s—“
“She’s dead,” Max confirmed softly, putting his palm against the
glass. The person inside had been preserved perfectly through the years, a small blond girl with short curls floating in the water surrounding her and a peaceful expression on her face. Like she was sleeping. Max felt a wave of sadness as he looked at the young girl.
“She was Michael’s sister,” he whispered. Liz reached forward and
pressed her own hand to the glass under Max’s, not questioning how Max
knew what he’d said to be true. She simply accepted it.
“How did she die?” Liz asked, hoping Max would have an answer she
could tell her brother. Max shook his head.
“I don’t know. There’s no power left in these pods, it almost
seems like maybe what happened in the crash was an accident and we weren’t supposed to stay in the pods so long. It seems like we were lucky to break out when we did, or we might have died when the power went out too,” Max said. Liz looked at the small girl wistfully.
“I’m sorry you didn’t get to meet our brother. I’ll take care of
him for us both,” she promised her. Max put an arm around Liz and
hugged her close.
“We’ll come back, with the others, and we’ll bury her. She
shouldn’t stay in there forever,” Max said. His eyes shifted to the next broken pod and he squinted as he realized he knew automatically what he was looking at. He pointed to each of the pods in turn.
“That was Michael’s. And then mine, and the last one there was
Isabel’s. God, Liz, how do I know any of that?” he wondered. Liz took
his face in hers and met his eyes.
“Because you have the memories, they’re just locked away in your
head. I think I can help you get them out, if you’re ready,” Liz
suggested. Max looked uncertain and she reached forward, kissing his lips softly.
“Nothing in there could every scare me away. I promise you that,
Max,” Liz said, her voice strong and truthful. Finally, Max nodded and
she pulled him towards the pod that had been his.
“You said this one was yours. What do you remember about being in
it?” she asked. Max closed his eyes and tried to think back, using
Liz’s words to try and search for a hint or a clue. A glimmer of light, a sliver of a memory seemed to finally poke through the darkness of his
“It was warm. Like being surrounded in honey. I woke up and it
felt like I’d just been born. I didn’t know where I was, but I felt
safe. I didn’t want to move. Then it didn’t feel safe anymore. I
couldn’t move through the liquid and I couldn’t, I couldn’t—“
“Breathe, you couldn’t breathe,” Liz said softly, finishing his
sentence where he couldn’t. Max nodded, knowing without opening his eyes that Liz had her eyes closed as well, that she was sharing his
“The place that had felt warm and safe suddenly felt hot and like a prison. I pushed against the walls around me, but nothing would give.
My hands finally found the front glass and I pushed and pushed, but
nothing happened. I felt like I was going to black out, like I’d never
get a breath of air when the glass finally gave way and the liquid
flooded out. I fell to the ground and finally, finally I could breathe.”
Max’s eyes popped open and he looked at Liz, his eyes meeting her
wide brown gaze.
“Oh, my God, Liz, that’s it. That’s what happened. I almost
Liz nodded slowly and took both his hands in hers.
“Yes. That’s what I saw when we connected. You panicked because
you couldn’t break free. And you almost drowned. For some reason you
had a very hard time trying to get free of your pod and you almost died. Are you ok?” she asked softly. Max nodded slowly.
“Yeah, I just never thought that was it. I never thought it was
something so—“
“Human?” Liz supplied with a grin. Max nodded.
“Yeah. I never thought that this thing that has terrified me for
years and plagued me in my dreams was something as innocent as that,” he replied.
“Do you see why you have nothing to be afraid of? Do you see why
none of that matters to me?” Liz asked, knowing this was her moment to
show him, to prove to him, that all the doubts that ran through his head had no meaning for them being together.
Max took her face in his hands and she met his amber eyes as they
darkened to almost midnight black. His thumb lightly caressed her cheek
and she shivered against his touch and the damp coolness of the cave.
“Yeah, I do,” Max replied. Then he crushed her against him, his
hands gripping her waist and holding her as close as he could. Liz held
the back of his head, stroking his hair gently as he held her. She
could feel how grateful he was for her help, how lucky he felt for her
presence in his life. She didn’t know how to show him she felt the same
way, so she tried to send him the same feelings through her caresses and thoughts, hoping that he felt them.
She got her answer in the tightening of their embrace and the
bright happiness she could feel practically glowing everywhere from him. So they stood, tightly together as Max embraced the past he’d felt as frightening and his future with Liz at the same time, together in the cave where Max had been born.
They stood still for a long time, Liz had no idea how many minutes or hours had passed. They only broke apart when Liz heard scuffling noises outside. Liz looked at the entrance to the cave and felt her stomach drop as shadows played across the entrance to the cave that led to the sunny outside world.
“Max . . .” Liz’s voice trailed off, worry lacing her words. Max
squeezed her arm gently.
“It’s ok, it’s Michael and Isabel and the others,” he said. Liz
relaxed and watched as her brother stood up through the entrance, his
spiky hair grazing the low part of the entryway. As he straightened Liz
met his eyes and immediately saw the anticipation on his face. He met
her gaze, determined, and stepped towards them. Maria, Isabel and Alex
followed Michael into the cave and Max noticed how Isabel automatically
reached for Alex’s hand as she looked around, her brown eyes widening
in surprise at the place she suddenly recognized.
Michael immediately walked over to the lone unbroken pod. He
stopped a few feet away and Liz watched, her heart breaking, as he laid a hand hesitantly over the smooth surface. When Michael’s face suddenly
crumpled with anguish and he raised his other hand to cover his eyes, Liz rushed over to him. She wrapped her arms around him and held him tight as he took deep gulps of air and cried softly, his voice shaking.
“She was so scared, and so alone. I wish I’d known. It happened
before any of us even woke up. I can feel her, like an imprint in this
place, right here. If she had been able to talk she would have called
to me. She tried to call for me, but I didn’t hear her, I didn’t wake
up,” Michael sobbed. Maria joined Liz in holding Michael and his arms
went around the girls, clutching them close.
“There was nothing you could have done, Michael,” Maria whispered. Liz nodded.
“But I should have! I should have been there for her!” he
exclaimed. Liz looked at him, locking her eyes with his
“Michael, listen to me. Did you ever wonder why you came to me in
the desert? Why I was able to coax you out and why you trusted me? I
never did, but this, today this has made me wonder if maybe it was
because you were supposed to be an amazing brother to someone and I just got lucky. It could have been her and I wish you had known each other, but there isn’t anything you could have done to make things different. And you’ve always been an amazing brother to me. Do you hear me?” Liz demanded. Michael finally seemed to hear her and he nodded slowly.
“Yes, I hear you,” he whispered, gracing Liz and Maria with a rare wide smile as he hugged them close. He kissed Liz on the forehead and gave Maria a kiss on the cheek.
“Thank you.”
Liz nodded and Maria burrowed closer to Michael as Liz gently
stepped away and walked to Alex, who was watching Isabel with Max. Alex put an arm around her shoulders and she leaned against him.
“How you holding up, Parker?” he asked seriously
“I’m fine. Better. How did you guys all get here? Isn’t school
going on?” she asked. Alex gave her a wry smile
“We were in P.E., the period was almost over when Isabel and
Michael both got this feeling that they needed to be here. Isabel got Maria and they came running from the girl’s class to us. I was worried
because Isabel was almost hysterical and Michael was more hyped up than I’d ever seen. Maria and I managed to get them to wait until the end of
the period and we got in the Jetta and came here,” Alex said simply.
Liz laughed.
“Well, I never even showed up to first period and now Michael’s
going to show up as skipping more classes. Our parents ought to have a
field day with that,” Liz observed. Alex nodded, his eyes turning to
Isabel, who smiled at him as Max hugged her.
“Yeah, but it was worth it,” Alex said. Liz looked over at Max,
looking truly comfortable and completely relaxed really for the first
time since she’d known him and she nodded.
“Yes, it was.”

TBC . . .

Proud to be a Dreamer!!

Liz: I could feel everything he was feeling. I could feel his loneliness. For the first time I was really seeing Max Evans. I saw me as he saw me, and the amazing thing was, in his eyes, I was beautiful.
Liz: The difficult part is when you follow your heart, you leave normal, you go into the unknown. And once you do, you can never go back.
Max: You're my dream girl, Liz.
Max: What's so great about normal?