posted on 16-Dec-2002 3:40:19 PM
Title: A Romance to Remember
Author: Lisa
Email: LWo1783⊕aol.com
Disclaimer: I own nothing and owe lots. The characters of Roswell belong to the WB and not me. Poor me! ;-)Neither does Jane Eyre and its characters.
Summary: Based a bit on the book Jane Eyre, one of my favorite books. Liz Parker is hired to take care of a large mansion for the brooding and mysterious owner, Max Evans. Takes place in some deserted, moory place. I guess England will do. Takes place in the 1800's.
Category : Definitely Max and Liz!!! :-) AU
Feedback: Yes please! I would really appreciate it!
Distribution: If you like it enough to take, sure! I would appreciate a link though.

Part 1
Liz Parker looked out the window of her carriage as it carried her away from London and closer to Thornfield Hall. In the previous month, Liz had seen an advertisement in the London Gazette, asking for someone to take the position as head housekeeper of Thornfield Hall. Liz had never heard of Thornfield Hall, but upon further inquiry, she discovered that it was far away from London and civilization in general. That was all she had to know. She immediately sent her resume. When she received a letter back saying she was accepted, she was mildly surprised. However, she brushed away any questions from her mind, rationalizing that perhaps very few people had applied because of the distance.

It was a dusk outside as the sun was setting. Liz watched as the sky turned a deep pink and the fiery ball of the sun slowly descend into the earth. Already, the other end of the sky was an indigo purple with stars shining down. "Thornfield Hall is coming right up, ma'am. We should be arriving within half an hour," the driver called back. Liz started out of her deep reverie and answered, "Thank you."

Liz caught sight of the shadow of the large mansion - almost castle - before her. It was cold outside, winter was coming. Liz shivered. The darkness seemed to surround her, as did a sense of sadness. She mentally shook her head and instructed herself, "Stop this. The past is behind you now. You are going to make a new start. Isn't that why you're here, in this God-forsaken place? Forget the past!"

Before she knew it, Liz had arrived to the hall. It seemed that throughout the place, light could not fill it. She saw a few candles in the windows but it was overshadowed by the darkness. Once again, she shivered. An elderly lady greeted her at the great entrance as the driver brought Liz's bags. "You must be Miss Elizabeth Parker. I'm Mrs. Fairfax. Come in, come in!"

Taking one last look at the carriage about to leave, Liz took a deep breath and stepped in the door. She had done it. She was finally leaving the past.

Once inside, a fire was crackling and the place was warm. Mrs. Fairfax led Liz into a parlor where it was cozy with another fire. Liz was seated and given some tea while Mrs. Fairfax bustled about, trying to make Liz feel comfortable. Finally, Liz asked, "Would you mind just sitting and talking with me?"

Mrs. Fairfax immediately smiled and situated herself across from Liz. "It's so nice to have someone to talk to. It's horrid to be here without some decent company. But, dear me, rattling off again. How was your trip, dear?"

"It was long, especially with the overnight stay at an inn, but otherwise, it was a good trip."

"Yes, Thornfield Hall is a long way off. The nearest town is nearly three miles away. But Mr. Evans likes it this way. 'No one to meddle around,' he says," Mrs. Fairfax replied.

"Mr. Evans?" Liz asked, confused.

"Yes, Mr. Evans. The owner of Thornfield Hall, you know." Seeing Liz's perplexed look, however, Mrs. Fairfax saw that Liz did not know. "Oh my goodness. You mean to tell me, dear, that you came all this way without even knowing who the owner of Thornfield Hall was?"

"Well, I assumed that since you were the one who answered my letter, that you were the owner."

"Me? Oh no! Mr. Maxwell Evans is the lord of the manor, so to speak. He is quite young. Not much older than you, though you do look rather young for your age, dear. I don't know how the master will take to that," Mrs. Fairfax continued, half to herself.

"What is Mr. Evans like?" Liz was somehow very intrigued by this 'Mr. Evans' even though this was the first time she had ever even heard his name. But just the sound of his name sent shivers up her spine.

Before Mrs. Fairfax could continue, the great outer doors slammed and a deep voice came ringing through the house, "Where is everyone?" Mrs. Fairfax hurriedly stood and said to Liz, "There's your chance to find out for yourself, dear. That's the master!"

Liz stood and followed Mrs. Fairfax into the entrance room where she saw her first glimpse of the man known as Max Evans. Mrs. Fairfax went over and took the coat he handed her. He didn't see Liz - at first. When he looked around, his eyes landed on her, and Liz held her breath.

Part 2
Liz realized that she was holding her breath and slowly released it. Max held onto her eyes for a second before abruptly turning to Mrs. Fairfax. "Who is this woman?"

"It's Miss Elizabeth Parker, the new housekeeper. You hired her a month ago, sir."

"Ah, yes. She's to replace you once you are gone. Well," without any word or glance at Liz, Max left the room and went up the staircase.

Mrs. Fairfax then turned her attention back to Liz and said with a warm smile, "You must be tired, Miss Parker. Come, I'll show you to your room. Sam, would you mind bringing Miss Parker's belongings?" Mrs. Fairfax then took two lighted candles and Liz then obediently followed her up the staircase that seemed to go on forever. "This certainly is a big manor, Mrs. Fairfax," she commented. "What did Mr. Evans mean when he said 'When you are gone?'"

"Well, you do know that you were hired to be head housekeeper, dear." When Liz nodded, she continued. "That was my old position, but as you can see, I'm not as young as I used to be. You yourself said that this is a big manor. I can no longer keep up with it now. Mr. Evans has given me quite a nice little sum as a retirement pension, as they say. I am going to go and live with my son in a small town just outside of London. I will be leaving in two weeks. Until then, I will be helping you settle in, teaching you the 'ropes' to this large house."

Liz was silent for a moment. Mrs. Fairfax paused a moment as they walked down a large hallway, "I know it's a bit much to handle at the moment, dear, but it is not as overwhelming as it sounds. Mr. Evans keeps much to himself and is usually satisfied as long as his room and study are tidy. It may be a bit lonely at first but it is quite safe here. There are also some other cooks and maids here during the daytime and early night so that you are not completely alone. Usually though, they live in the servants' house just outside during the night time."

"So, it will just be myself and Mr. Evans in the house during the night?"

"Yes, dear. I know it may not sound very proper, with you two especially so very close in age, but Mr. Evans is very much respected so there will be no gossip. You needn't worry. Here we are." Mrs. Fairfax then presented Liz to a room that was furnished simply. "I gave you one of the smaller rooms, I hope you don't mind. I feel that with the large rooms, it is just so easy to feel lost in one of those."

"No, I love my room. Thank you for the consideration. I prefer a smaller room anyway."

Sam, the general servant, then deposited Liz's bags just inside the door. He gave her and Mrs. Fairfax a quick nod of the head before departing. Mrs. Fairfax said to Liz, "My room is just down the other end of the hallway if you need me. Mr. Evans's room is the one just three doors away. You seem to be quiet, but I feel I should warn you that he does not like to be disturbed in any way. I'll leave you now, dear." She then handed Liz a candle.

Liz gave Mrs. Fairfax a small smile and stepped in her room. She immediately lighted the other candles that were in the room, trying to disperse some of the gloom. She sat down on the edge of the bed and tried to think. It had now been four long months since her life had changed.

Liz Parker was the only daughter of prominent businessman, Jeffrey Parker. Jeffrey Parker and his wife, Nancy, enjoyed the social life that came with Jeffrey's success. Liz as their daughter had been raised by a nurse for as long as she could remember. In her mind, her parents were always dressed up, ready to head off to another party that would last for days. Every once in a while, she would have dinner with them during the holidays, but other than that, she had no other contact with them.

Therefore, it came as a surprise when one evening, they requested to have dinner with her. She was excited, it had been her twentieth birthday last week, and perhaps they were having a birthday dinner now to make up for last week.

When she arrived in the dining room, it was not only her parents there. There were two other men there, one of them her age. He looked handsome but there was also a cold glint in his eyes that she didn't like. Liz was confused as to why these two men were there, but she told herself that perhaps they were friends of her parents.

She sat down at the table. "Hello, Mother, Father. How are you doing?"

Her father looked at her and said, "Elizabeth. I would like you to meet my friend Mr. Valenti and his son Kyle. You'll be seeing a lot of each other from now on."

Part 3
Liz jolted out of her deep meditation. She had been so focused on remembering the past that she had almost fallen asleep. She looked her still packed bags and sighed. It was going to take a while before she would be able to go to bed.

The sun was still not up yet when Liz awoke. She was used to getting up early and felt refreshed even though she had gone to bed late last night. She dressed simply, ready for a day of work. She had never worked before when living with her parents, but things were different now. She didn't need to remind herself of this. In the past few months, she had learned how to work.

Liz then stepped out into the hallway. Since it was so early, she didn't expect anyone else to be up. To her great surprise, Max was up also. In fact, he was heading right past her. She gave a small smile and said, "Good morning, Mr. Evans." He in turn, glanced at her and replied coolly, "Good morning, Miss Parker. Up rather early, aren't we?"

He kept on walking and Liz wasn't sure what to do. So she just hurried and tried to catch up with him. "Yes, well, I always get up this early."

"How nice." With that, Max stepped into one of the doors and closed it. Liz just stared at the shut door and felt extremely put off with his action. "Hmm. Rude much?" she muttered to herself. Just then, Max stuck his head out the door and asked, "Did you say something, Miss Parker?"

For a second, Liz was completely taken aback at being caught. She thought quickly, "No, no, sir. I was just…umm… commenting to myself how lovely that painting over there is." With that she just pointed her finger at the first frame she saw and prayed that there was a picture inside.

Max followed her finger and said, "Yes, that's one of my favorites also. Nice to know you have some good taste." With that, he popped his head back in. Liz quickly hurried away downstairs. As soon as she reached the base of the stairs, she leaned against the banister and sighed with relief.
She wasn't sure if Max had heard what she had really said but, if he did, she wasn't going to bring up the subject again. Then what Max had said replayed in her head, 'some good taste.' Did that imply that she didn't have good taste in another area? How would he know anyway? He had met her less just the other day and he was already making judgements? Well! Then Liz realized that she was getting all riled up, again. 'Calm down, Liz. This is not the time or place to lose your temper. You don't have that luxury anymore.'

Just then Mrs. Fairfax called from the top of the stairs, "Miss Parker! Up already?"

Liz turned and answered, "Yes. You are an early riser also, I take it."

"Yes. Why don't I show you to the parlor where I usually take my breakfast. Leah, one of the maids, will bring it in to us." With that, she led Liz away.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Max's POV
When Max first saw Liz, he was sure that there was something different about her. She looked young, and it didn't even occur to him that she was the new housekeeper he had hired. Something in the manner in which she stood intrigued him. She had an elegance to her stance, but also seemed vulnerable standing alone. When his eyes met hers, Max stopped breathing for a second. Finally breaking off the stare, he had turned to Mrs. Fairfax to inquire who this strange woman standing in his entrance was. When he heard Mrs. Fairfax answer that this was the new housekeeper, relief flooded through him. So, this meant that this Elizabeth Parker was going to be staying. He remembered making some remark, then leaving the room. He didn't dare take another glance at her, he feared that she would see something inside him - the emotions he was feeling.

That night, he had faint rustling coming from her room. He assumed that she was unpacking. This thought gave him great satisfaction because he knew that this meant she would be staying for a while. Max didn't know what he was feeling exactly, just that he had to learn more about her.

Max knew that he had the reputation of being cold-hearted. He didn't mind this, he knew that this was somewhat true. He was cold-hearted because he hadn't found the right one yet. He wasn't in a hurry, he had had plenty of experiences with women, all of these experiences leaving him disenchanted the idea of ever-lasting love. He was young, only twenty-five, but he felt much older. When his parents had died when he was eighteen, he found himself with a large inheritance and fortune. He was one of the most sought after men in the country. He had been young and ignorant of the world at that time, and he had foolishly given his heart away to a woman who had used it to get to his money. When he realized the truth, he had been destroyed inside. The only thing he was grateful for was the fact that he learned the truth before he had married her.

In the last few years, he wandered throughout England and the Continent looking for someone to fill his heart. With each passing year, he had grown more and more bitter. Finally, he returned to Thornfield Hall. He was tired of looking for her. He questioned whether she even existed. But now, he wondered if she had come to him.


Part 4
*Still Max's POV*
The next morning, as Max woke up, his thoughts instantly turned to Liz. He had to come up with a plan with how to act around her. No doubt she would eventually learn of the others' opinions of him. He couldn't very well suddenly act as if he was the nicest man in the world, he knew he wasn't. He knew that he could, and often was, rude and abrupt. So, how would he act around Liz?

'Take one step at a time, Max. You don't want to scare her off, but see what kind of person she is first.' With that temporary plan, Max prepared to start his day. As he was walking off to breakfast, Liz stepped into the hallway. 'Dear Lord, I can't figure out what to say this early in the morning! I knew I should have made up that plan instead of procrastinating!'

She smiled slightly and Max could feel his legs start weakening. 'What's wrong with you, man?!' He vaguely heard her greet him and he desperately tried to think of something to say. He heard his own voice, calm and even answer back, "Good morning, Miss Parker." Then he added something about being up early and continued walking. 'Wait! You have to stop walking away if you want to talk to her!' he commanded himself. But his legs seemed to have a mind of its own. To his surprise, Liz followed after him and answered, "Yes, well, I always get up this early."

Because Max really could not think of anything else to say, he just replied back, "That's nice," and ducked into the nearest door. He shut it and immediately collapsed against it. It was impossible that this woman was causing so many emotions in him! Because he had his head against the door, he was able to hear Liz mutter something about him being rude. A grin crossing his face, he instantly came up with an idea. With a serious face, he opened the door and stuck his head out. The look on her face when he asked her if she said anything was priceless.

Inwardly, he chuckled when he saw her come up with the excuse about the painting. He knew it was weak and so did she. However, he really didn't want to her to feel uncomfortable any longer and left it. As soon as he closed the door again, he knew that he would be seeing a lot of Liz. He now knew that she could be feisty, hidden underneath the calm exterior. He had a feeling there was a lot more to her, and he wanted to know everything.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
*Liz's POV*
As Liz sat down with Mrs. Fairfax over breakfast, the memory of what had just occurred kept popping back up. She was so embarrassed, yet angry over Max's whole attitude. "So, Miss Parker, …" Mrs. Fairfax began.

"Oh, please, call me Liz. I'd prefer that over 'Miss Parker' or 'Elizabeth'," Liz interrupted.

"So, Liz dear, are you always such an early riser?"

"Yes," Liz began. She hesitated before continuing, "as Mr. Evans is too. Can I ask you something, Mrs. Fairfax? Is Mr. Evans always so…rude?"

"Rude? Well, I suppose his manner is not the most polite, but I don't think he's rude. Of course, it could just be myself because I have know n him for so long," Mrs. Fairfax continued. She began to talk about random things, leaving Liz basically lost in her own thoughts.

After breakfast, Liz was given the basic tour of the house. It was large, to say the least. She began to worry that she would get lost, and that would just be wonderful! She could just imagine it, herself wandering down endless corriders just calling out, "Hello? Can anyone help me?" Max, she knew, would certainly love that. 'Max again?!' she asked herself furiously. 'You should be paying attention so you won't get lost!' But it was no use, she was thinking about him.

'Well, I might as well just go with the flow.' He was certainly handsome. There was no denying that fact. Dark hair, soulful eyes, strong jaw. What was that phrase her friend once said? Oh, yeah, 'Tall, dark, and handsome.' That was definitely Max. He annoyed her. There was no other way to put it. The way he acted as if he was too important to pay attention to her, his whole superior attitude. It just reminded her of her parents all too much. She frowned inwardly and tried to focus back on Mrs. Fairfax again.

As it turned out, Liz would not have all too much work to do. A little dusting and general cleaning, but other than that, all the other maids would do. She would just be in charge of keeping track of them. She met all of them, and they seemed to be quite nice. None of them seemed to mind that she was younger than most of them. When Mrs. Fairfax later showed her the drawing room, she was taken aback. It was a beautiful room, light and airy. The view into the country moors was breathtaking. She turned and asked, "Does Mr. Evans ever use this room?"

"Not to my knowledge. Do you draw?"

"Yes. Do you think Mr. Evans would mind if I drew in here once in a while?"

"Oh, I don't think so. Why don't you draw now? I know it's your first day and it must be difficult to settle in," with that suggestion, Mrs. Fairfax left the room. Liz hurried to her room and gathered her portfolio and art supplies. She loved drawing, painting, etc. It had helped her escape from her lonelier days when she was younger. Once in the drawing room, she was oblivious to the outside. She didn't even hear the footsteps behind her.

Part 5
"Miss Parker. What are you doing in here?" Max asked Liz, startling her. She dropped her pencil and it rolled on the ground and landed at Max's feet. He stooped to pick it up.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Evans! I was … I was just drawing. Mrs. Fairfax told me that it was all right, or else I never would have…" Liz stammered as Max handed back her charcoal pencil. She was upset because she didn't want Max to think that she wasn't working. It was just that it was so long since she had a chance to draw.

"No, it's okay. I don't mind if you use this room. I was walking by and I saw the door open. So, you are an artist?" Max asked, truly interested. "May I see your portfolio?"

Liz was a little reluctant to hand it over to him. She had never shown anyone it before, much less to a practical stranger. However, she found that she could not refuse. She silently handed it to him.

Max took it and settled down in a chair. He took his time studying each piece, as if by scrutinizing the art, he would learn more about the artist. He found that in each painting and drawing, there was sadness incorporated into it. When it was a landscape, the scenery would be beautiful, but the sky would be ready to storm. When it had figures, there was always one mournful face.

Max's brow furrowed when he finished. What was it that made her so sad? He carefully put everything back into the portfolio and handed it back to Liz. "Would you mind bringing this with you tonight, Elizabeth?"

"Tonight?" Liz asked, confused.

"Yes, I want you to come to my study tonight at 7:00."

"Yes, sir." With the confirmation that she would see him later that night, Max turned to leave. He stopped for a minute when he heard Liz call after him, "And, please, call me Liz." He turned back to her and gave a small smile. "Liz," and he walked out the door.

Liz gathered her supplies up. She looked at the clock hanging in the corner of the room and realized she had been drawing for an hour and a half. As she took her portfolio, she wondered about Max. He had seemed to be engrossed in studying her pictures. It was like he was looking for something. She then shook her head. 'You're just being silly again, Liz.' Still, why did he want to see her later that night?

Liz later went to Mrs. Fairfax and began to start taking care of the house. Even though her job was fairly light compared to the others, she still had a lot more to do. Liz had to make sure that dinner was being prepared, that the rooms were aired and cleaned, and this and that. Thank goodness Mrs. Fairfax was there to help her out, or else she knew she was going to lose her mind with all that had to be done. "You'll get used to it, dear." Mrs. Fairfax had told her. Liz didn't think so.

Later that night, Max was waiting in his study. It was almost seven. He started pacing when he stopped himself. 'You can't let Liz see you pacing like this! One look and she'll know your nervous about something. No, you have to try and stay calm! Think you can handle that, Max? And what is with this? Why am I talking to myself all of a sudden? Aah!'
Max then smiled to himself when he realized he called her 'Liz.' He was secretly very pleased when she granted him permission to use that name. He liked the sound of it, it fit her. He heard footsteps coming and he looked around. Where could he go and look natural? 'What do I keep telling you about planning!' he scolded himself as he threw himself into the armchair in front of the fire.

Just as he pulled his legs up onto the ottoman, someone knocked on the door. "Come in," he said, thankful his voice didn't squeak.

Liz walked in the door with her portfolio under her arm. It was dark, with only a few candles lighted around but by the fireplace, the fire was giving off a brighter glow. She saw him sitting there casually, as if he had all the time in the world. Slowly, he raised his head and looked over at her. "Well, are you going to just stand there or are you going to come over here?"

Liz dutifully walked over and stood by his side, uncertain. "I see you brought your portfolio again," Max began.

"Yes. You asked me to, didn't you?"

"Ah, yes. Well, seeing how you brought it, I might as well take a look at it again," Max said, taking it right out of her hands.

Liz tried not to make a face when he did that. 'He's like a three-year old. He justs grabs what he wants!' she thought to herself. However, something must have flickered across her face because he asked, "What?"

"What?" Liz asked back in return.

"You just made a face."

"No, I didn't."

"Yes, you did. I saw it. Why did you make a face?" Max said, amused. He was getting under her skin and he knew it.

"I really have no clue what you are referring to, sir. Besides, I thought you were going to look at my pictures again," Liz said, desperately trying to change the subject. He was too observant. It seemed as if nothing she did got by him.

Max gave her another grin, one that told her he knew exactly what she was up to. She flushed slightly but refused to drop the gaze, daring him to first. He did. "Why don't you make yourself comfortable, Liz, and take a seat."

Liz looked around and began to sit in a chair that was to the back of Max. Without even having to look up, he said to her, "Not that far back. Pull it up. I don't want to have to twist and look back every time I want to speak to you."

Liz then took the chair and pulled it even with Max's. She sat down and waited for him to speak again.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Dec-2002 3:51:21 PM ]
posted on 16-Dec-2002 3:42:42 PM
Part 6
As Max flipped through the pictures again, Liz couldn't help but remember back to when she drew those pictures. Because her parents had basically ignored her, she had a lot of free time. Invariably, her mind wandered back to when her life had changed.

~*~Flashback~*~


She sat down at the table. "Hello, Mother, Father. How are you doing?"

Her father looked at her and said, "Elizabeth. I would like you to meet my friend Mr. Valenti and his son Kyle. You'll be seeing a lot of each other from now on."

"What do you mean, Father?" Liz asked, not liking the tone of her father's voice.

"What I mean is, your mother and I have decided that it is time for you to marry. Mr. Valenti and I have decided that you and Kyle would make an excellent match."

Liz's smile faded and her lips tightened. "Oh, really?" She could feel the anger and indignation rise inside. Her parents, two people she had seen a total of less than a day in the last few years, had made of the most important decisions in her life without even consulting her! They didn't even know her, how could they even possible decide whom she should spend the rest of her life with?!

Oblivious to Liz's reaction, Mr. Parker continued. "Yes. The wedding will be in two months. That should be sufficient time for you and Kyle to become aquainted with each other."

"But, Father, …" Liz began.

"But what?"

"Don't you think you should have at least consulted me in something so important."

"Elizabeth Parker! I will not be spoken to like that. I am your father and I will make decisions for you whenever I please. You are embarrassing me in front of our guests! I demand that you apologize to me and them right away!" Jeffrey Parker roared as he slammed his fist on the table.

"Apologize!" Liz yelled back. "The only apologies that will be spoken in this room should not come from me, but from you!"

"Elizabeth! Sit down! Are you a lady or not?" her mother rebuked.

"I don't know, Mother. Why don't you tell me? Oh, that's right. You don't know. Maybe that's because you and Father haven't seen me in months!" Liz said, trying to calm down.

"Please, please. There's no need to argue," Kyle Valenti said, speaking for the first time. "I know this must be a surprise for you, Miss Parker. However, will you at least please give me a chance? The world is a very scary place and your parents cannot care for you forever. You, as a woman, need someone to take care for you, provide for you. I can do that."

"You can? Oh, thank you, sir," Liz said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "That is so very kind of you to offer, but there's just one thing. I don't need you to take care of me! I can take perfectly good care of myself!"

"With who's money, Elizabeth? Mine! The matter is closed. You are getting married!" Mr. Parker said, no longer yelling. His voice was tight but low.

Liz knew that she would only be wasting her breath so she said nothing more. An idea was already forming in her mind. She knew what she had to do: run away. However, she also realized that she would have to plan her escape carefully, she could not just leave in the heat of the passion sort of way.

In the coming month, Liz feigned repentance at her 'unacceptable' behavior. Her parents readily accepted this and forged ahead with the wedding plans and with the new business deal that Mr. Valenti now provided. As for Kyle, he carefully chose to avoid any mention of that episode all together. Liz found that he was polite enough toward her, but she saw his opinions of others, often belittling and cruel. She knew she had to get away.

Liz carefully saved whatever money she had and could get. She had some jewelry that she discreetly sold for a fair amount. Liz also knew that she could only take a little bit with her when she left. But no matter how hard she tried, her luggage was more than she could handle. She had two valises and her large portfolio. She knew she could not walk down to the carriage station with all this. 'This could be a problem, Liz.'

~*~End of Flashback and now Max's POV~*~
As Max flipped through Liz's portfolio, he kept one eye on her. He wanted to see her face and the thoughts that were going through her head. She had extremely expressive eyes that seemed to reflect the emotions that she was feeling. He saw her eyes cloud over and then the anger that showed through shocked him. Anger and sadness. It seemed to permeate through her face and Max wanted nothing more than to comfort her right there. But he held himself in check.

He finally had to say something to her. "Are you sad, Liz?" His voice surprised her, he could tell by the way she slightly jumped. Her eyes refocused to the room, to him. His heart skipped a beat when her eyes locked onto his for the briefest of moments. "Sad, Mr. Evans?"

"Your paintings. Whenever I look at them, I just have this overwhelming sense of sadness. Did you feel sad when you painted them?"

"Really? I had no idea that you were such an art expert!" Liz spat out, shocking him for a minute. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean…" she began.

"I'm sure you didn't. Maybe you're right, I don't know much about these things. Here, take your things back," he said, his voice much harsher than he intended. She silently retrieved it, and he was instantly sorry because he could tell she was hurt by his tone. He tried to start again. But he couldn't think of anything. 'Why do I always have to get so tongue-tied! She probably thinks I'm some idiot he can barely speak!'

"Mr. Evans?" her voice broke through to him. He tried to take his time looking up at her. "Yes?"

"Is there anything else you wanted to see me about?"

Max's mind raced as he desperately tried to think of something to say to prolong his time with her.

"I take my breakfast in the study. I like to have it every morning at 6:30," Max blurted out, the only thing he could of. 'Great job, Max. Remind her that she's the housekeeper when you want her to be your equal.'

"I know, sir. Mrs. Fairfax has already shown me how you like your schedule," Liz answered.

"Good. That will be all," Max said, realizing that there was no chance that he was going to be intelligent at all tonight. As Liz walked out the door, he called back to her, "I would like to talk to you again tomorrow night, same time, please."

Part 7
Liz stopped. "Tomorrow night?" she asked, unsure of what she had just heard.

"Yes," Max said without any explanations.

Liz inwardly was confused. She hadn't meant to snap at him before, when he asked her if she was sad. The truth was, she did feel sad. Right before he had asked her the question, she had been thinking to herself whether she had been foolish or not. For some reason, when it came to marriage, Liz had always just assumed that she would marry a man whom she loved and he would love her back.

Now back in her room, Liz was exhausted. All she wanted to do was sleep.

The next morning, Liz was ready to begin another day. As she headed toward the kitchen for Max's breakfast, she heard the cook and the maid talking. She caught the name 'Mr. Evans' being spoken and crept closer to hear what they were saying.

'Did you hear? She's back in town!"

"Who?"

"You know. Her! The one the Master was engaged to those years ago!"

"You don't mean…"

"Aye. The one that broke his heart."

Liz stood in the dim hallway, stunned at what she was hearing. The news that Max once had been engaged had stunned her but hearing that his heart had been broken really shocked her. She barely had time to contemplate what she heard before Mrs. Fairfax came up behind her and said, "Liz? What are you doing here standing in the hallway? Don't you have to get Mr. Evan's breakfast?" With that, Liz walked into the kitchen, feeling a bit guilty.

However, the cook and the maid didn't notice her look and handed her the tray with the food. Liz took it and headed up toward Max's study. She knocked on the door and heard a "Come in."

When Liz stepped in, she could see that Max was sitting at his desk, apparently working on something. She stood uncertainly for a minute before asking, "Where would you like this, sir?" He looked up at her and answered, "Over here on my desk will be fine, thank you."

Liz walked over and set down the tray. Max stopped writing and leaned back in his chair. He smiled pleasantly at her and Liz found herself giving him a smile in return. "How are you doing this morning, Liz?" Liz was pouring Max a cup of tea when she inadvertently spilled it onto the desk. She instantly apologized and grabbed a napkin. She started mopping the table up before Max closed his hand over her wrist to stop her. "It's all right, Liz, I can clean it myself," Max said, his eyes locked onto hers.

Liz suddenly felt Max's hand still over her wrist and she forced her eyes to tear away from his gaze down to her wrist. Max held on for a second longer before he released her. For some reason, Liz felt a disappointment almost when he let go. Suddenly, what she had heard from the cook came rushing back to her. Her eyes snapped back up to Max's face where he was staring intently at her.

~*~Max's POV~*~
When he first grabbed her wrist, he never wanted to let go. However, he forced himself to and looked at her. As her eyes reached his, he could read pity in it. Pity and confusion. Max didn't know why she had pity toward him…unless, yes, she had learned the truth, or at least had heard the rumors. He inwardly sighed. He knew it would not be long before she found out, but only on the third day…

Just then, they heard someone knocking on the door. Grateful for a distraction, he called out, "Come in." Mrs. Fairfax bustled in and said, "I'm sorry to interrupt, Mr. Evans, but I have some very important matters to discuss with you."

"Yes, what is it, Mrs. Fairfax?"

"I realize that I am not to leave for two more weeks, sir, but I have just received a letter from my son asking me to go to him as soon as possible. His wife has fallen and is not feeling too well and he wants me to go help her get back on her feet. I know this is rather short notice but…"

Max waved his hand impatiently. "I understand, Mrs. Fairfax. You must go immediately. Well, I certainly will not keep you. Here is your pay with a little extra for all the years that you have been here. I wish to thank you for your loyalty to my family." In reality, Max was a little sorry to see her go. She was someone that had always been there, even when he was a small child.

Mrs. Fairfax thanked him profusely but then hesitantly began, "But I am not quite sure that Miss Parker is quite ready to take care all the duties of the household."

Max calmly looked up and said, "I have no doubt that Miss Parker will do very well even though she has not been here for very long. But, I suppose, we should ask her. What do you think, Miss Parker," he said, with an amused tone. If he had learned anything about her in the last day or so, it was that she was independent and determined at what she did.

Liz met his gaze and he couldn't help but give a half-smile at her. He raised his eyebrows just slightly, as if daring her to say 'Yes, I can take care of everything." She turned to Mrs. Fairfax and said, "I am sorry to see you leaving so soon, Mrs. Fairfax, but I am quite sure that I can manage this household. You have shown me the basics yesterday and I am sure that if I need any help, the servants will there." She then faced Max again and her eyes seemed to say, "I have accepted the challenge of running this household, and I will succeed."

Mrs. Fairfax eyed the two of them uncertainly, but said, "Well, I am very pleased to hear that. If you will excuse me, I will have to get my things together."

Max watched her leave before realizing that she might not have transportation. He called out, "Mrs. Fairfax, what time would you like the carriage to be here?"

She gave him a puzzled look. "Carriage, sir?"

"Well, how else are you going to get to your son's house?"

"My gracious, I did not even think of that!" Max resisted the urge to shake his head and laugh. Mrs. Fairfax had always been like that, forgetting the most important things. "I think I would like to leave at noon, Mr. Evans. But you mustn't trouble yourself…"

"It is only fair, Mrs. Fairfax. You once troubled yourself for me over a carriage ride, remember?" Max said, with a genuine smile.

Mrs. Fairfax's face broke into a smile and she laughed at their private joke. "Very well. Thank you, sir." And with that, she left the room.

~*~End of Max's POV and start of both POVs~*~
Liz stood quietly while she watched the interaction between Max and Mrs. Fairfax. It surprised her to hear Max offer Mrs. Fairfax his carriage, but it floored her to see Max really smile. It brought a sparkle of life in his eyes that made them all the more beautiful to look at. And his face just seemed so relaxed, as if there was nothing in the world that was worrying him.

When Mrs. Fairfax left the room, Max was chuckling over some memory. Liz looked at him curiously, hoping that he would explain the joke to her. He caught her look and said, "As you know, Mrs. Fairfax has been here for a long time, even when I was a child. One day, my mother went to the city and I wanted to join her, but she would not let me. I begged and cried and threw a tantrum, but still she said 'no.' Poor Mrs. Fairfax felt sorry for me so she whispered in my ear to go hide in the back trunk of the carriage and not get out until I was sure that I was there. When my mother saw me, she was so angry. However, there was nothing she could do, she could not send me back home. I ended up following her all day while she shopped. I remember thinking, 'I crouched for hours in that thing for this?!' It was true, I was there in that trunk for hours. It was a good thing Mrs. Fairfax helped me because if I did it on my own, I am sure I would have closed the lid completely and suffocated. Poor Mrs. Fairfax must have worried tremendously that she would get in trouble. Luckily, my mother thought it was my impish idea and Mrs. Fairfax never got caught."

Liz had to smile at Max's childhood. She could definitely imagine him as a mischievous child. She could feel her first impression of him as having no heart was rapidly fading away. "Did you get in trouble once you got home?"

Max laughed again. "I got a whipping from Father. Or at least, I was supposed to. Once we were alone though, he said, 'Don't tell your mother I didn't punish you. I think having to follow her shopping was punishment enough.' My father was like that, he never once physically punished me." Max's smile faded as he thought about his parents. Liz could see his good mood fading and she was about to ask if he was all right when he cleared his throat and said, "Well, don't forget this evening, Liz," and busied himself by focusing on his breakfast.

Part 8
Liz saw Mrs. Fairfax off at waved good-bye. Liz wasn't entirely confident that she was ready to take care of the manor all by herself yet, but when asked earlier by Max, she felt compelled to say yes. It was as if he was daring her with his eyes to stay, and she could not refuse the challenge. She would show him that she could take care of the house.

At first, she was lost as to where to start, but then as duties upon duties piled on her, she felt like a chicken with its head chopped off, trying to do a million things at once. By dinnertime, she was exhausted. Before she knew it, she had to go see Max.

She was curious about him. Earlier, he had opened up to her and shown that he could laugh and smile, something surprising to her. She had only known him for a few days, but she felt drawn to him. Besides, he didn't seem that angry at her when she made her 'remarks.' In fact, he had seemed amused with it. And then there was what the cook said earlier. Max having a fiancée shouldn't have surprised Liz, she knew full well that Max was rich and handsome. But him being so in love with someone and being hurt by her, Liz could not imagine that. 'What, Liz? Feeling sorry for yourself because you've never felt love?' she silently mocked herself.

In Max's study, the room was empty. She saw that her chair was drawn though so she sat and waited. When Max finally came in, she took a good look at him. She wanted to see if he knew that his old flame was back. Max could feel her eyes burning into him so he looked at her. "Yes, Liz?"

"Sir?"

"Is there something wrong?"

'Oh no. He's caught me again! How does he do that?! Argh' Liz thought to herself. She could feel herself flushing, which she was not used to doing.

Max could see her blush splotch her face and instantly knew something was up. 'She's heard. She knows all about it. This can't be happening so soon. You might as well tell her now, before she hears all the rumors.' Max felt his face harden into a mask, trying to hide all his emotions. "So tell me, Liz, hear anything interesting lately?" Max winced, he knew his tone was biting and harsh.

"No?" Liz wasn't sure what to say, she was surprised by his sudden change in attitude. He sounded, well, mean.

"Are you sure? Nothing about…oh, I don't know… new people in town," Max stated, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Liz narrowed her eyes. She could feel her little patience snapping. He had no right to use that tone with her, just because some old flame of his was back. She stood up from her chair and faced him and started off calmly, "Well, now that you mention it, I did hear something about your old fiancee being around her somewhere and how she broke your heart." She could see Max's jaw tighten and continued, "But I don't think that that's true at all… because I don't think you have a heart to break!"

The instant the words were out of mouth, she regretted it. The pain she saw in Max's eyes, she wish she had never said those words. His eyes slid away from her and he focused on something…anything… she thought he didn't have a heart. Maybe she was right, maybe he didn't. But he did, he knew he did, or else he wouldn't feel this way about her. He had to make her see. A plan formulated in his head. But first, he had to explain…

"I'm sorry, Mr. Evans. I didn't mean what I said, I truly didn't," Liz said, trying to catch his eye again.

"What do you know about love, Liz. Tell me," he said softly. When he saw that she didn't answer and bowed her head, he knew.

"You have never been in love, have you? I have. Sit down, Liz, and I'll tell you everything."

Liz looked at him, "You don't have to. I was wrong…"

"I want to, Liz. Please let me. I was young, just a few years younger than you. My parents had just passed away. I missed them horribly and I was all alone. I had no one. Yes, Liz, I felt loneliness once too. Just like you do, I wager. I couldn't stay here, there were too many memories of all the happy times we had here. Too many," Max paused, swept back by the thoughts of times past. "So I left for the Continent. And that was where I first met her, Tess Harding. She was an opera singer, popular, beautiful. I arranged to meet her. From the moment we met, she charmed me. She flirted with me.

"I had never felt love, but I was sure that I loved her at that moment. I bought her gifts to show my love. I showered her with pearls, furs, and even an apartment. In return, she flattered me. She called me her 'mon cherie.' She gave me her body. What, Liz, are you blushing? Yes, I had a mistress, although I did not think that that was what she was. I thought she was my lover. Soon, we were engaged. I was not so lonely anymore.

"I was prepared to marry her, yes, I was. One night when she was not expecting me, I wanted to surprise her. I hid in the apartment that I had bought for her. I waited long in the night. I did not mind. I would have waited forever for her, that was how much I thought I loved her. I sat on the balcony, looking and waiting. Finally, I saw her carriage. Her carriage that I obtained for her. When it pulled up, I stood up and looked down. I had a rose in my hand, ready to toss down. I expected her to look up, see me, smile, and run to me. You look surprised, Liz. Is it because I was once a romantic?

"I saw her emerge from the carriage. I was about to throw down the rose when I saw another figure come out from the carriage behind her. It was another man. I was in shock and bewildered. But most of all, I was jealous. Have you ever felt jealousy, Liz? No, of course not. You must feel love in order to feel jealousy. It is not a pleasant feeling, Liz. No matter what you do, it makes you want that person more. I tried to console myself, telling myself it was just a friend, a guest. When they reached the door, I hid behind a curtain. I would emerge once the guest was gone.

"As you've probably guessed by now, Liz, for you are smart, he was not a guest. He was her lover. They spoke at first, about trivial things for they were not intelligent people. I am not saying it because I am bitter, it is the truth. It was not for Tess's brain that I had admired her. Tes spied a picture of me and soon the conversation turned to me. It was soon revealed that Tess had planned to marry me and secretly take my money – to give to him until they had enough. Then she would run away with him.

"You recall the jealousy I mentioned just before, Liz? I no longer felt that. I burst out from the curtains and promptly threw the man out. He put up a struggle at first, but you see, Liz, he was no match. When I turned to Tess, she begged me to forgive her. And I tried, Liz, I tried. But you see, I did not want to, for I realized she was not worth my time, money, or love. So I ordered her to move out that night and I took everything I had ever given her back. She cried, she protested, she pleaded. But I would not yield. I had no heart or mercy for her anymore.

"It has been eight years since, and I have looked for love, Liz. There have been many women who have come to me, but I have not found her yet. Sometimes, I despair that I ever will. You have heard me speak. Now, tell me what you think," Max said quietly, looking at Liz.



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Dec-2002 3:52:31 PM ]
posted on 16-Dec-2002 3:46:15 PM
Part 9
"I think ... that you deserve to find the love you seek, sir. Your story is sad to hear and I pity Tess. She had your heart but did not value it," Liz said softly, still digesting Max's story.

Max's eyes shone softly when he said, "So, I do have a heart now that is worth valuing?" His voice had a slight teasing tone.

Liz however remained serious when she said, "Yes." She paused before continuing on. "Mr. Evans, you once asked me why all my paintings looked sad. I think I am ready to tell you the truth about it." Her words surprised her. She didn't think she would ever be able to tell anyone her life, much less her employer, someone she had known for only a few days.

Max turned all his attention to Liz's voice. It was so easy to lose himself in her. Just listening to her, he could feel the world disappearing and it was only them.

"I am a runaway."

Those words shocked Max. "Excuse me? A… runaway?"

"Please hear me out, Mr. Evans," Liz's voice pleaded. She wanted him to know everything, it was too hard for her to keep everything bottled up.

"My father is Jeffrey Parker – "

"Jeffrey Parker, the businessman in Northampton? I've heard of … Elizabeth…" realization dawned of Max's face as he suddenly remembered news he had heard a month ago. He had been in London and there were notices in all the papers looking for an Elizabeth Parker. It had never occurred to Max that this Elizabeth and that Elizabeth were one in the same.

"What is it?" Liz panicked. It was obvious to her by Max's reaction that he had heard of her. This meant that her family, particularly her father, was looking for her.

"Your father is looking for you. He is offering a large reward to anyone who returns you," Max said, a knot forming in his stomach.

"Mr. Evans, please. Do not tell anyone about me. I can't return, I just can't!" tears came to Liz's eyes as the thought of her being forced to go back and marry Kyle.

"Liz, why? Why are you running away. Your father is rich and you have status, you shouldn't be a housekeeper."

"You told your story, Mr. Evans. Let me tell mine," Liz said with a half-smile, lightly scolding him.

"Well, fine, if you insist, Miss Parker," Max said, matching her tone.

"I insist," Liz said smiling. Her smile faded a bit when she began again. "When you talked about your parents earlier and all the time you spent together, I was jealous. It was so obvious to me how much you cared for them and still do. In return, they must have loved you very much. Mine were nothing like that. As a young child growing up, I rarely saw them.

"I was mainly raised by my nanny and had various tutors. I was not allowed out of the house very often and had no friends. When I did see my parents, it was only at parties my parents held. For a few minutes, I would be called down and be paraded. I always had to act politely and correctly and perfectly. Anything less and I would be punished.

"Drawing was a way for me to escape. I used to spend hours just drawing away. By being so absorbed in my work, I was able to escape from my life. But, as you can see, even in my pictures, my life was sad. I was very lonesome. I was trapped. I knew nothing of the world, all I knew was my house. I use to look out the windows and just stare at the birds, wishing I could fly like they could to faraway places.

"I treasured every minute I was allowed outside. I lived my life like this, year after year. When I was twelve, my nanny was fired and I was completely isolated for most of the day. One day, my parents announced to me that I was to marry a Kyle Valenti. Apparently, the marriage would complete a business deal my father had made with Kyle's father. Kyle was…very cruel toward me in the short time we had talked. He belittled me. I knew I could not marry him.

"One night, when my parents were away at a banquet, I arranged for a carriage to come and I left. I traveled to London, where I could easily get lost in the crowd. I had some money but not a lot. I found a job as a housekeeper in that area. I worked there for a while and saved up some more money. One day though, I saw Kyle on the street. I hid right away but I knew I had to leave. That's when I saw your advertisement in the paper. Mrs. Fairfax answered immediately and I left for here."

With a dramatic smile, she looked Max in the eye and said, "And that, I am afraid, is my life. Nothing very exciting, I'm afraid."

Shaking his head in disbelief, " 'Nothing very exciting?' Liz, then I'd like to see what you consider exciting!" Max was still in shock from hearing Liz's story. To have the courage to take control of her life like that… "So you've been alone for most of your life?"

"Yes. So, will you be collecting on in the reward?" Liz asked nervously. She really didn't think Max would turn her in to her father, but she couldn't be sure. Max confused her. One moment he could appear to be very cold, but she felt deep in her heart that he wasn't.

"What do you mean?"

"What I mean is, will you be contacting my father about my whereabouts?" Liz said, carefully avoiding his eyes.

"That depends."

"On what?"

"Do you want me to?"

"Of course not! That's why I'm here," Liz said, her heart rising a little.

Max said lightly, "Well then, I guess that settles that. Now it's late, we'll talk again later."

Part 10
Over the next couple of weeks, Max was busy with his business affairs. What they were, Liz had no idea. All she knew was, she rarely saw him. He sent for once or twice, and they would speak for a little bit before he became tired. She was worried that he wasn't getting enough rest. He brushed away her words, saying that he was fine.

Oddly enough, Liz found herself disappointed each time he did not call her. She tried to busy herself like he did, but she just couldn't help herself.

Max on the other hand, really was busy. He was constantly going to see his clients and it exhausted him to no end. He wanted to see more of Liz, but just couldn't muster enough energy to talk with her very long. One morning, he awoke to see that it was snowing. Outside, the world was covered in a thick blanket of white already. He was about to get dressed when he saw a figure outside. It was Liz.

Liz was enchanted by the snow. She had seen it falling when she was little, but she had always been forbidden to go outside when it was snowing. Once, she had sneaked out and played for a few minutes. She had never felt so free before that moment. Now, for the first time, she was truly able to run to her heart's content.

She spread her arms out and breathed in the crisp, clean air. She liked the snow. It seemed to hide the flaws in the earth that had been made by man. Suddenly, Liz felt something hit her in the back. Startled, she turned around to see Max grinning wickedly. "Mr. Evans?"

"One of the first lessons you will learn today is how to make a snowball," Max said with a smile on his face. "There's nothing really to it. You take a handful of snow and pack it in. I wouldn't make it too hard because it can hurt if it's packed too tightly," Max was demonstrating this to Liz while talking. "Then, all that remains is the throwing." With that, Max lightly tossed the snowball, hitting Liz directly in the stomach. She looked down and saw where the snowball had landed. Looking up, she said with mock indignation, "Mr. Evans! I cannot believe you just did that!" she said, before a snowball exploded in her face.

"Can you believe I just did that?" she heard Max's teasing voice.

Quickly wiping the snow off her face, she immediately began scooping snow into a haphazard ball and threw it at Max. To Liz's dismay, it fell apart before it even reached Max. Max roared with laughter and pretended to taunt Liz, "Your snowball is supposed to stay in one piece to hit me!"

"Oh really? Thanks for the information," Liz said, trying to bite back her laughter. "Come on, it's my first time."

"Well, seeing as it is your first time, I'll stand still for a minute and let you hit me as many times as you can from there. But, judging from your first throw, I don't think I have too much to be worried about," Max said with a smirk on his face.

"We'll see now, won't we?" Liz was determined to make her shots come. This time, she was careful to pack her snowball tightly so it wouldn't fall apart. Her first throw hit Max in the shoulder and he applauded her. "Wow. You got it. Not bad. Let's see if you can do it again."

Liz smirked and said, "Watch me." Now that she knew what to do, the snowballs came hurtling at Max in a flurry. "Stop! Stop! What have I done?" Max cried, trying to shield his face. "I've created a monster!" Liz shrieked over, "No moving! You have to stay still for a minute!" She was laughing hysterically and could not remember when she had more fun.

"I lied!" With those two words, Max came charging at Liz with snowballs of his own. They ran around trying to chase and evade each other. Before they knew it, they were both soaking and freezing. The snow had let up slightly.

"Do you surrender, sir?" Liz said. Max was defenseless and Liz was poised, ready to throw her last snowball at him. Suddenly, she saw a look in his eyes and knew something was about to happen.

"Never!!" Max roared and charged at Liz. He knocked her over and the two of them fell in the snow. He wrestled her snowball away and pinned her arms down. "The question now is, do you surrender, Miss Parker.

Liz struggled for a moment longer but knew she could get away. Besides, she was acutely aware of how close Max was to her. Their breaths were warm on each other as their faces were only inches away. Liz nodded and Max slowly got off her. When they were both standing he said to her, "Your hair is soaking, Liz. We should go back inside where you can warm up again."

Once inside, Liz quickly changed into dry clothes and dried her hair as best as possible. She went back outside to Max's office, where he was gathering papers. "Are you going somewhere?"

"Yes. Unfortunately, I have another meeting away. I won't be back until later so don't prepare any dinner for me."

"But the weather's still horrible."

"I know, but it can't be helped. This meeting is important."

Liz reluctantly said, "Okay. Be careful though."

Max looked at her with a twinkle, "I will. I know how much you want a rematch." He gathered all his belongings, put on a coat and left saying, "I'll see you tomorrow morning."

Liz nodded 'good-bye' and watched him go. She went through the rest of the day smiling. Never had she had so much fun. Later in the evening, she noticed that the snow had changed over to freezing rain. Hopefully, she thought, Max would stay the night where he was. It was too dangerous outside for him to be traveling in weather like this.

A few hours later, as Liz was about to go to bed, she heard Max's horse trot by. She waited a few minutes before going to open the door. She was freezing with the wind blasting through the open door, but she still didn't see Max. She scanned the darkness, trying to catch a glimpse of him.

Suddenly, she saw him staggering. She started to smile but saw his face. Something was wrong. His color was pale and he looked like he could barely stand. He managed to stagger to the door, leaned against the frame, and looked at Liz. He said weakly, "Liz," before collapsing toward the floor.

Part 11
Liz managed to catch Max in her arms and break his fall a little bit. She gently laid him on the ground and ran for Robert who helped carry Max to his room before leaving again. There, she gently placed her hand on his forehead, then his cheeks. He was burning up. It was no surprise, considering he had ridden through the freezing rain that he would be sick.

Liz noted that his clothes were still soaking wet and his body was chilled. She drew hot water in a tub for Max to warm up. When that was completed, she went back to Max's room where he was laying still on the bed. His eyelids were fluttering slightly and he groaned slightly. Liz said softly to him, "Mr. Evans, I have to take your clothes off, or else you'll become more sick. Do you understand?" Liz's face flushed slightly as she said these words, but she knew it was necessary. For a minute, Max didn't move, but then she saw his head nod weakly and his mouth tried to form some words. "Shh, try to save your strength, sir."

She lifted him up and helped him walk to where the tub was. One of Max's arms was around her shoulder, and she had her arm around his waist. Once they reached the tub, Liz gently sat him in a nearby chair. There, her fingers moved to Max's shirt buttons. 'It's all right, Liz, you can do this. You have to, for Mr. Evans. You don't want him to become even more sick, do you?' As more and more of Max's chest was revealed, the less Liz babbled to herself.

When Max had his clothes on, anyone could see that he was in shape. However, once the shirt was off, Liz was in awe of the mass of muscles in his chest, abdomen, and arms. It wasn't the bulging kind of muscles, but the kind that added a sleek look to him. Liz suddenly had an urge to run her hands softly over them but held herself in check. 'What are you doing, Liz, he's your boss and sick and you want to do what?!' Liz silently chastised herself.

Then, she moved onto the pants. Liz hesitated before deciding what to do. Finally, taking a deep breath, she knew she had to do what she had to do. She had to take them off herself. Averting her eyes from his manhood, Liz pulled down Max's pants. A furious blush spread over her entire body as she then continued to help him into the tub.

After a half-hour, the water was cooling rapidly and Liz was afraid that Max would become even sicker if he stayed in longer, so she helped hoist him out. Throughout the entire time he was bathing, Max had seemed only half-conscious. Liz found a nightshirt and helped him into it. Carefully, she led him to his bed and helped tuck him in. Almost immediately, Max sank into a deep sleep. Liz was exhausted all the exertion. She looked out the window and saw that the weather was still too dangerous for a doctor to come out.

She sighed. Turning back to Max, she once again checked his temperature with his hand. Liz's face immediately wrinkled with worry when she felt how he was still burning up. Taking a small washbowl, she filled it with cool water and started wiping his face. She sat down in a chair that was close to the bed, and as she was dabbing Max's face, she carefully studied it.

As he slept, all signs of the world was wiped from his face. Usually, his face was set determinedly and wrinkles showed around his eyes and brow. However, when relaxed as he was now, Liz could see none of that. She recalled that when earlier that day, during their little snowball fight, when he was laughing and smiling, he had seemed much younger also. Smiling at the memory, Liz looked at Max and smiled.

How much her opinion of him had changed! No longer did she see a man who was cold and emotionless, but a man that could be capable of so much emotion and heart. With this thought, it was as if she was seeing Max with different eyes. Slowly, Liz realized that she was falling in love with Max.

For a moment, Liz froze with this thought. 'In love? With Mr. Evans? How do you know, Liz, how can you be sure?' But one more look at Max's face and Liz knew that she was. 'How do I know? Because I am feeling things that I have never felt, or ever thought I would feel. Because I feel as if just by being at his side right now, I have found my place in the world, that I belong.'

Meanwhile, Max did not seem to be getting any better. Sweat was now pouring from his face and body and his nightshirt was beginning to soak through. 'What do I do?' Liz frantically thought. Pulling off his nightshirt, Liz began to wipe his chest. The fever had escalated and Liz was worried. She went to pour out the old water in the washbowl and got fresher, cooler water.

Grabbing another washcloth, she soaked both of them in the water for a minute. Then taking one out, she wrung it and carefully placed it on Max's forehead. With the other one, she slowly and meticulously wiped his face. Then she began to work her way slowly down (but not that far down! ;), only stopping to dip the cloth back in the water. While sponging his chest and arms, Liz was in awe of just how beautiful Max was. He didn't seem like he had any fat on him, just muscles that Liz was well aware of now.

Over the next few hours, Liz continued to sit next to Max, watching over him and sponging him off. After a while, Liz stopped and put on a fresh nightshirt on him. She then dozed in an armchair that was in the room for a few minutes, only to wake with a jolt and check on Max again. Max tossed and turned throughout the night and seemed restless. Only toward dawn did he seem to be able to sleep peacefully and Liz was able to sleep for about an hour.

The next morning, Liz felt worn out but dragged herself through the mire of sleepiness she felt. Going to the kitchen, she found Robert and the other servants having breakfast. She asked Robert ride to town to fetch the doctor once he was done eating. Because she knew the roads were still horrible from yesterday's weather, she knew it would be a while before he would return. Going back to Max's room, she could see that he was starting to wake up a little. "Mr. Evans? How are you feeling?" Liz asked. However, Max could not answer. "Are you hungry? I'll get you something to eat." With that, Liz nearly ran all the way back to the kitchen and asked the cook to make some soup for Max.

Going back to Max's room with the soup, Liz saw that Max was looking a little bit better. Setting down the tray, she helped him sit up on the bed. She then carefully fed him the soup. Blowing gently to cool it off before each spoonful, Liz took care that Max wouldn't burn his mouth on the hot soup. Her eyes locked a few times with Max's, but each time she would snap her eyes away from his. She was afraid that if she looked too long into his eyes, he would know of her new feelings toward him.

Liz wasn't sure what to make of her emotions as of yet. She knew it was wrong, that she really had no hope for any relationship with Max. She was just a housekeeper, nothing more. He was a wealthy man who was handsome and had money. Society would never let them be together. She knew she came from a good family, but that was her past and she didn't want her new life to have anything to do with that.

~*~Max's POV~*~ Lying on the bed with Liz at his side, Max felt a surge of peace that he had not felt in so long. The day before, when he was with Liz playing in the snow, he envisioned a life with her just like that. They would be happy, laughing and the world would be pure. Her shrieks of laughter made him feel young, revitalized. He knew at that moment that he had to have Liz as his own.

When he had to leave for a client's house, Max wanted nothing more than to just stay the rest of the day with Liz. However, he forced himself to go. Later that night, the weather was dangerous and the client begged Max to stay the night at his house to avoid the weather. Max had refused, he wanted to hurry back so that he might see Liz again before she went to bed. The rain had soaked him through thoroughly and by the time he was back at the hall, he was ready to collapse.

He did not remember most of the night, but that didn't matter. Liz was feeding him with care, and Max could almost convince himself that Liz was his bride at that moment. The only problem was that Liz would not look him in the eye. He wondered why. Did something happen that he didn't know about? Everytime he tried to catch her eye, she would look away.

"Liz?"

"Yes, Mr. Evans?"

"Thank you," Max tried to say more, but he suddenly felt sleepy again and couldn't seem to find the strength.

"Shh. Try to rest, sir. You are still sick," Liz answered. She put the bowl on the side table and Max felt her gentle hands helping him lie back down on the bed. She tucked him in and as Max began to fall back asleep, the last thing he remembered was Liz's hand on his cheek. He went to sleep with a secret smile and dreamt of a happy life with just the two of them.

Part 12
When the doctor was finally able arrive, he had Max stay in bed for a few more days. During this time, Liz took care of him, slowly trying to nurse back to health. It actually did not take much because Max was in such peak physical condition. Love is something that is strange, it makes us bold and invincible, yet it also makes us vulnerable. Such was how Max and Liz felt. Each brimming with a desire for love, for happiness with each other. Both scared to take the first step.

On the first full day Max was out of bed, he sat in his office just contemplating his situation with Liz. Over the last few days, he had sensed that her attitude and feelings toward him had changed, but he couldn't be sure if it was love she felt. In the days that she had cared for him, he had fallen more in love with her gentleness, her kind heart, and everything about her.

He had to find a way to find out for sure that she loved him. He began planning.

~*~ End of Max's POV for a little while. Before you yell at me for the parts that are about to come, the previous sentence is a clue to what Max is planning. Don't worry, happiness insurance! ~*~

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"What is happening, Mr. Evans?" Liz asked, not sure that she had heard correctly.

"I am throwing a party that will last several days. There will be about ten people who will be staying here. I want you to make sure that everything is ready," Max answered, looking directly at her. "Do you think you are capable of this?"

"You wish for me to prepare for all this by myself?" Liz said, already mentally calculating how much work she would have to do.

"Of course not! You'll have the other servants helping you. And if you need extra help, you have my permission to go down to the village and hire a few girls for a few days," Max said with an impatient tone. "I suggest you start, Miss Parker, you only have a few days."

Liz blurted out, "Oh thank you so much for the notice," before she was able to stop herself.

"Your welcome. Now go," Max said with the smirk she had not seen for a while.

As Liz left, she wondered to herself 'He must be getting better because he seems to be going back to his old ways.' She wasn't able to pursue the thought anymore though because soon she was rushing all through the house trying to prepare for the upcoming party. During this time, she spent some time with the various servants of the house. To make conversation, she wondered who would be attending the event. She then caught some of the servants looking at each other and they said, "Surely the Honorable Miss Harding will be here."

For a moment Liz froze. "Miss Harding? Who is she?"

"You have not heard of Miss Tess Harding? Many say that it is she that Mr. Evans will marry? It is no secret that she has taken a fancy to him. They would make such a handsome couple too."

Liz's heart sank as she heard the words. "Is Miss Harding pretty?" she asked as casually as she could.

"Aye. That she is. Her hair is of a golden color and her eyes are clear blue. And her complexion is of envy of all the ladies," the maid rattled on, unaware of the silent dread that was collecting in Liz.

Later that night, Liz laid awake in her bed. 'It can't be true. He isn't going to marry her, it is just a party and he has to invite all the people of social rank here. It's just foolish gossip.' Liz tried to reason. Still, she had trouble falling asleep and tossed and turned all night.

The next day, everyone was on watch for when Max would be returning with his party. Liz was nervous that he would find everything unsatisfactory and went from room to room, making sure that everything looked perfect. In the middle of fluffing a cushion, she heard someone yell, "He's coming." Liz ran to the nearest window and looked out. Sure enough, Max was riding ahead. A smaller figure was on a horse next to him and behind them came a caravan of horses and buggies.

"The honorable Miss Harding," a maid said, looking out the same window. Turning to Liz she said, "You should be there to greet them, miss."

Liz started and nodded, "Yes, thank you for reminding me." Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, she walked out and waited at the door. Max came halting on his horse and jumped off. He apparently seemed to be in good spirits and in very good health.

"Hello, Liz. I have returned with my crew of good peoples who are here to have a good time. I hope everything is all ready for my guests," he said jovially.

"Everything is prepared, sir," Liz managed to get out, her heart clutching in her chest.

"Very good," Max said before the rest of his guests arrived. "Ah, I see you have all managed to catch up to myself and Miss Harding. Miss Harding, you are a most wonderful rider. I compliment you on this," Max turned away to Tess.

Liz saw her first look of Tess. Indeed, the servant's words were not wrong. She was very beautiful. However, Liz also caught the look of haughtiness in Tess's eyes. She saw how they looked over the whole estate with a look of greed that seemed to say, 'Yes, this must all be mine someday.' As Tess saw Liz looking at her, she gave her a look of disdain and purposely turned away. Liz felt her temper rising slightly but pushed it down inside her.

Max must have told a joke for everyone laughed. He then led all the guests inside where they immediately went to their rooms that Liz had taken such care to prepare. Liz and the rest of the servants followed behind them. Almost immediately, they were bombarded with commands from the guests. As Liz was hurrying about, she heard Tess coo to Max, "Oh, Mr. Evans, your manor is so lovely. And all the rooms are marvelous along with all the décor. How do you ever do it?" Liz half-expected Max to make a sarcastic comment, for she knew that he barely noticed anything around the house. To her surprise, Max started a serious conversation with Tess about the various bric-a-bracs in the room.

Liz then thought to herself, 'Perhaps I do not know Mr. Evans that well at all. He seems so very different among all these people. It may be that he enjoys being around them all. No, it is not possible. It is all a façade, it must be.'

She was so lost in thought she did not see Max coming. "Liz. Liz."

"What? Oh, hello, sir," Liz answered, her cheeks coloring slightly.

"Tonight everyone will be assembling in the drawing room. I would like you to be there."

"Oh, no, sir. Please, I would rather not," Liz protested. She had memories of all the parties where her parents had taken her, just to show her off. Also, she did not feel comfortable in the presence is so many people, of so many strangers.

"It is not a request, Miss Parker. It is a command," Max said haughtily.

"Excuse me?" Liz said with a slight edge.

Max's face softened a bit. "I am sorry, Liz. I did not mean for it to come out like that. I would like it very much if you were to attend tonight," he amended. "Please."

"Must I?"

"I would like you to."

"Very well, sir."


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Dec-2002 3:52:56 PM ]
posted on 16-Dec-2002 3:48:34 PM
Chapter 13
At the party that night, Liz sat in a corner of the room by the window. There, she felt safer from the view of the guests. Sitting there among all the people dressed up, Liz could not help being transported back in her memory to her old life. Her parents had always used her to be a decoration piece almost, showing her off so that they could hear the compliments of how lucky they were to have such a beautiful daughter, etc. Liz had always known that those words were as shallow as the people were.

Liz could not have known then how true those compliments were though. She seemed to possess a natural beauty that she did not even know she had. But here, even tucked away in the corner, others saw it. Liz had on a simple dress that she had always liked when she was living back with her parents.

Max then came into the room and all the people just seemed to flock toward him. From her vantage point, Liz now could not keep her eyes off him. Even though she knew she shouldn't feel the way she did, Liz could not stop herself from falling in love with him now that she had started. In her eyes, Max was a man who was not perfect, but that was partly why she loved him even more. The spirit and fire he had just seemed to spark something in her that she never thought she had.

Even as she saw him talk to Tess, she could not help it. Even though she saw him talk to her more than the others, she could not stop the feelings that were stirring inside her. As the night wore on, she saw more of Tess that she did not like. Liz would have given up all hope of being with Max without a fight if she thought that Tess was worthy of his attention, but she knew Tess wasn't. Tess may have seemed intelligent to the others because she seemed to know about everything, but Liz knew that Tess was only conniving. She played off everyone's words so that it seemed to be her own words.

Liz felt alone in her corner and was looking around when she heard Tess mention her. She was standing nearby with Max and asked, "Such a big place and you have such few help, Mr. Evans?"

"I don't clean the place myself, Miss Harding, so I really wouldn't know," Max replied casually.

"Oh, but you employ the housekeepers. I saw one of them here before, where is she? Oh there, hiding away in the corner. Honestly, Mr. Evans, why do you have help coming to parties like this?" Tess giggled. Liz could feel her jaw clenching but she knew she could not make a scene.

"Because it is my prerogative," Max answered back curtly. "Come, Miss Harding, why do you not grace the company with one of your songs."

Liz took this opportunity to slip out the door. She was going up the stairs when she noticed that her shoe had become loose. She bent down to fasten it securely and was standing back up when she heard someone coming. Straightening up, she turned around to see Max.

"Hello," he said softly.

"Hello," Liz replied. Looking into Max's eyes, Liz could feel her deep unhappiness rising. She quickly looked away and shifted uncomfortably.

"Are you all right, Liz? You seem a bit pale."

"I am fine, sir. And you?"

"Oh, as well as to be expected after I almost caught pneumonia after you soaked me with snow that day, Liz," Max said with a hint of a smile, hoping to see something in her react.

Liz tried to smile back, but couldn't. "Yes, sir, I am fine."

"Are you? Please, why don't you call me Max from now on."

"No, sir, that would not seem very professional. As Miss Harding said before…"

"Oh, damn what Miss Harding says," Max interrupted semi-harshly. Then, taking a deep breath, he began again, "I mean, it is my wish to have you at the party, no matter what Miss Harding thinks. You are leaving too early, go back."

Liz shook her head, "No, I am tired, sir."

"And a little unhappy. Why?"

"I'm not," Liz denied, even though she could feel the tears start to well up in her eyes.

"But you are. Why?" Then without waiting for her to answer, he went on, "Very well. I bid you good night then, Liz."

Over the next few days and nights, Liz saw very little of Max. He no longer asked for her to go to the nightly gatherings and she spent the time drawing in her room. She had just picked up a sheet of paper and started sketching. Almost before she knew it, she had a rough sketch of Max on the paper. She was tempted to crumple it and start on something else, but couldn't. 'Oh, well. Why not continue with this?' And so she did, taking her time with the picture.

On the fourth day of the party, a man was waiting for Liz in the parlor. One of the maids tracked Liz down and brought her in. Once inside, Liz stood still. In front of her was her parents' lawyer, Mr. Whitman. He had been one of the few people that her parents knew that Liz liked. "Mr. Whitman?"

"Yes, Elizabeth. How are you doing, dear?"

"Very well, Mr. Whitman. How did you find me?" she couldn't help asking.

"Well," he began with a teasing smile. "I am a very intelligent man, my dear, and I have my sources…"

"I see, I see," Liz laughed. "Why are you here? Did my parents send you to fetch me?" Liz asked softly.

Alex Whitman sobered up then. His face took on a sad expression and his eyes turned mournful. "Well, they are partly why I am here, Elizabeth, darling." Liz had almost seemed like a daughter to him all the years that he had been her parents' lawyer. He had seen the way they ignored her and had tried to show her as much parental affection he could when he saw her. In return, Liz saw him as the closest thing to a parent.

"Why?" Liz asked, a pit growing in her stomach.

"I'm afraid that I have some rather bad news. You parents… they have… I don't quite know how to say this," he started, looking down at the floor.

"Please, Mr. Whitman, just say it," Liz said sadly, half already knowing what he had to say.

"Your parents have passed away," Alex said quickly.

Liz slowly nodded her head. "How did it happen?"

"It was a carriage accident. They were on their way to…"

",,,a party," Liz finished. 'Why am I not surprised,' Liz asked herself.

"It would be best if you could come back as quickly as possible. The funeral must be held and the estate must be settled."

"Yes, of course. I must go speak with Mr. Evans though," Liz stated, almost as if she was in a haze. She then left to go look for Max. She found him in his study.

Part 14
"Mr. Evans? May I speak with you for a moment?"

"Yes, of course, Liz. What is it?" Max asked, putting his pen down and getting up to talk to her.

"I must ask you for a leave."

"A leave? But why? Especially now, when I need you more than ever," Max objected.

"My parents have died," Liz said bluntly.

Max was taken aback. "Oh, Liz, I am sorry. Yes, of course, take as much time off as you wish. You are going back home, I suppose?"

"Yes, Mr. Whitman will escort me."

"And who the deuces is Mr. Whitman?" Max asked, his voice rising considerably.

"He's an old friend. He can be trusted," Liz said, a little touched that he would care. 'Or maybe he is just being a gentleman, Liz. Stop raising your hopes only so they can be dashed.'

"Very well," Max began. Then, he asked as if the idea was just occurring to him, "You will be coming back, won't you, Liz?"

Liz was surprised by the question. It had not even entered in her mind that she wouldn't be coming back. "Yes, of course, sir."

"Very well then. How much money do you have with you?"

Liz silently calculated the amount. "A few pounds, sir."

"I haven't paid you yet, have I?" Max chuckled.

Liz shook her head and answered, "No, sir. But it is not necessary."

"Not necessary? You're going over a hundred miles with hardly any money at all. I would say it is necessary!"

"No, sir, it really isn't."

"Ah, the heiress is returning back home and will not need the money that she has earned from me, is that it, Liz?" Max asked. "But it is well that you will not take it now, it means you must come back for it."

"Money was never the only reason why I took this job, sir. But I must go now," Liz shot back, trying to end the conversation so she could pack and leave right away.

"Yes, I suppose you must. Tell me, Liz, for I am unsure of what to say in these kinds of situations. How do we part?"

'With me nursing a wounded heart' Liz silently said. But aloud she quietly said, "They say 'Good-bye until we meet again.' "

"Well then Liz, good-bye until we meet again."

"Good-bye, Mr. Evans."

After an awkward second, Max then asked, "Is that it, Liz?"

"It's enough for now."

"Perhaps for you, but for me, I find it very cool and heartless."

'Yes, maybe it is better if I were heartless right now,' Liz thought. 'But I can't be, so I must make the best of my situation, as I always have.' Trying to hide the tears in her eyes, "It is enough for now, sir. I must leave you now." With that, Liz started walking to the door.

"Leave then. But remember, you have promised to return to m…Thornfield."

Liz's heart had jumped when she heard him start the second sentence, but had settled when he finished. She stood at the doorway and turned back, "I always keep my word," before leaving the room.

Once in her room, Liz took out her a small valise and packed a few clothes in. She was about to walk out when she saw her unfinished drawing of Max and her portfolio on her table. She contemplated taking it with her but decided against it because it would be too much of a hassle to carry it with her. Besides, she reasoned it would be more than safe in her because she didn't think anyone would come in while she was gone. Taking one last look around her room, she closed the door.

She and Alex left the manor and as she was riding away in the carriage, she turned and looked back at the shrinking estate. She couldn't help but contemplate about Max's 'relationship' with that Tess Harding. She knew he didn't love her. He often spoke to her sarcastically and showed no real affection for her. Yet, she was the one that he often preferred to talk to at the evening parties and they often went riding together. Liz knew that it was possible that he would marry Tess, not for love, but because they would make a good match in society's eye.

Frustrated at herself for dwelling over Max, Liz thought about her parents. She knew that she had not shown any emotions whatsoever over their deaths and that she should. She did love them, she knew that. Not because they deserved it, but simply because they gave birth to her. However, that basic love only filled her so much. After that, Liz had no other emotions toward them.

As she sat contemplating this fact, she began to feel remorse for not having the chance to make up with them, a slim a chance as that may have been. She knew they probably would not have forgiven her for the social embarrassment, but the 'what ifs' seized her. Tears clouded her eyes as she thought of this. In her heart right then and there, she forgave them. She knew that she could not hold the hate in her heart forever and she released it into the air. A wave of peace swept over her.

Alex watched Liz in the corner of his eye and inwardly felt relieved. He had known Liz to be true to her emotions and when she showed no emotions at all, he had been worried. As he watched over her now, he knew that she had grown into a truly well rounded woman. He was going to talk to her about her parents' estate and her inheritance but she looked tired and so he let rest.

They stopped over at an inn for the night and began traveling again. Alex took this opportunity to speak to Liz. "Liz, do you want to tell me what you've been doing while you were away?"

"I've been working."

"Working? As the housekeeper?"

"Yes."

In a confused tone, "But why did you run away? Without even telling me. I cannot express to you how distressed I was when your parents called me. I looked everywhere for you and I had just located you at Thornfield when the unfortunate accident with your parents happened."

Realization dawned on Liz. "So it was really you who was looking for me."

"Your parents cared for you, Liz, they did. They were extremely worried about you."

"I know they must have been. But they never told you why I left?"

"I don't know if they knew why themselves. They mentioned that they were planning perhaps an engagement for you and a Mr. Kyle Valenti and that you were very unhappy about it."

"They were going to force me to marry him! Surely you understand why I had to, Mr. Whitman!"

"Please calm down, Elizabeth. I do understand, I do. But we have other things to talk about – such as your inheritance."

Part 15
Liz was taken aback for a moment. "My inheritance? You mean I am still in the will?"

"Of course. Why wouldn't you be? You are their only child."

"I just thought they would have taken me out or disowned me."

"No. In fact, everything they owned is now yours."

"Everything?"

"Yes, the manor, the jewelry, the money, everything."

Liz was silent as she comprehended all this. In all honesty, she had not even really thought of her inheritance. When she had ran away, she had assumed that her parents would be so angry with her that they would disown her and forget all about her. But now, she had everything they had once owned. A little voice then crept into her head that said, 'Now you are Max's equal.' She shook this thought out by saying, 'I don't want to be his equal only in wealth, I want to be equal in all aspects of his life. But this will never happen.'

Toward midday, Liz finally saw her old home. It all looked the same, as if nothing had changed in the time that she was gone. Liz then experienced some pangs of sadness as she thought of her parents. They had loved this house and they were extremely proud of it. It had an extensive garden surrounding the entire manor that Liz had used to play in when she was allowed to.

As they pulled up to the front entrance, Liz could see that all the servants had assembled outside, waiting for her. When Alex got out and held out a hand to Liz, all the servants craned their heads to look at their new mistress. Many of the servants had been their for years and knew Liz well. When Liz stepped out, they broke out in smiles to see her return.

"Welcome back, Miss Parker. We are all so happy to see you again," Maria DeLuca, the head caretaker warmly greeted Liz.

"Thank you, Maria. It is good to see you all again also. I hope you are doing well," Liz smiled.

"Yes. We are sorry for your loss though. Your parents were good people."

"Thank you."

Alex then interrupted and said, "Liz, you must be weary from all this traveling. Why don't you go and refresh yourself a bit."

"All right." Liz then was headed back up to her old room. When she was there, she took a good look around. It was as if nothing had been moved. All her old possessions that she didn't take with her was still there. After washing her face and brushing her hair, Liz went back downstairs.

The funeral was to be held the next day. Liz tried to help out as much as possible, but she found it difficult. She was used to being in charge of everything from taking care of arrangements at Max's house. She couldn't help but wondering if everything back at Thornfield. She knew that she had promised Max that she would return but now she started wondering.

If she was here, she would not have to worry about seeing him with that Tess woman. She wouldn't have to work at all here. She wouldn't have to worry about her future. But then again, she had made a promise to return. 'Why am I thinking about this now? Think about it later,' she told herself.

All day long, flowers came in along with various people who wished to give their condolences. Many had known the Parkers through Jeff's business and respected the way he handled his business. That night, Liz had trouble sleeping. She just couldn't stop her brain from going into overtime over everything in her life up to this point. Finally giving up, she got up and lit a candle. On her walls, there hung numerous paintings and portraits that Liz had drawn over the years. Her eyes were drawn to a large watercolor that she had been the last one she had painted before she ran away.

It was a family portrait as she wished her family could have been. In the watercolor, she was a little girl of eight and she and her parents were having a picnic outside. The bright colors shine brightly at Liz for a moment before it seemed to dim right before her eyes. Liz sighed and turned away. Thinking about families, Liz's thoughts just somehow turned to Max. 'Why try and fight it,' Liz thought to herself. 'You can't put this off forever.'

She began pacing the room and contemplated her dilemma. 'I love him. There's no denying it now but what do I do? I promised him I would return and I want to, if only to see him again. But will I stay? If he marries Tess, there is no doubt I will not. Not only because she would not allow for it, I would not allow myself to stay. 'It is obvious that he does not love her. I know in my heart that he doesn't. But that won't stop him from marrying her, will it? I must know how he feels. That's the only way I can move on.' With that thought, Liz went back to bed and caught a few hours of sleep.

The next morning she woke up to a stream of sunlight coming through her window. Somberly, she put on her best black dress and went downstairs. After a few last minute preparations, she and Alex rode to the church where the service was being held. Once there, she greeted people who had once known her parents. She sat silently with a sad, faraway look on her face throughout the eulogy that was given by Alex. Her lips were pressed into a thin line when they filed outside where the graves were then slowly lowered into the ground. At that sight, Liz couldn't keep the tears back inside anymore. Slowly they streamed down her face.

When one last final prayer was given, the people began to slowly leave. When she was alone, Liz stepped to the gravestone her parents shared. She knelt down and began to speak. "Hello, Mother, Father. It's me, Elizabeth. I just wanted to talk to you to tell you that I am sorry. I'm sorry for causing you any pain from my running away. However, I hope you can finally understand why I did what I did.

'I also think that it's important for you to know that I am no longer angry with you. You may not have known that I was in the first place, but I had been for a long time without even knowing it. I was angry with the two of you…for…not being good parents, I suppose. But I realize that you were doing the best to your knowledge and that was all you could do. I love you both. Good-bye." With that, Liz placed two roses on the ground and walked away.

Back at the house, Liz told Alex of her plans to go back to Thornfield. When he heard this, he strongly objected. "You can't leave yet, Elizabeth. We have too many loose ends right now that we need you here for. All the legal deeds have to be transferred to your name along with various other possessions of your parents, not to mention the bank matters. Also, there are some parts of the will that still have to be executed that pertain to other people. There's so much to be done…"

Liz then agreed to stay a while longer until everything was under control. She had no idea of how much there still was left unsettled and things just kept popping up. Before she knew it, the weather had turned much warmer and it had been nearly a month. A letter then came for her addressed from Thornfield. It was from one of the maids that Liz had gotten to know while she had been there.

In the letter, it recapped what had happened at Thornfield while Liz was gone. The party had lasted another week after Liz had left before everyone went back to their homes. After that, the rumors that were swirling about the prospective engagement of Max and Tess had grown much stronger. Max had even gone to London to buy a new carriage, adding fuel to the fire.

Then something had happened. The details were unclear but the people were saying that Tess was caught in a scandal where one night her house was holding a party. A man had become drunk and had started professing his love to her. When Tess had told him to leave, he started becoming very loud in describing their *moments* together. Of course everyone knew what he meant and the whole family was disgraced. Needless to say, it came as no surprise to anyone when they just somehow disappeared from their whole social circle.

Liz's heart stopped beating for a minute as she read this. She wanted to stop and just think about everything, but she felt compelled to read the rest of the letter. It went on to name the man who had gotten drunk at the party as a Kyle Valenti. Liz almost fell over in shock as she read the name. Kyle Valenti? As in the Kyle Valenti her father had wanted her to marry? She silently thanked the powers above that she had not married him.

But the fact that Max was not going to marry Tess just caused Liz to rethink her plans of returning to Thornfield. Before, she had a reason to go and sort of declare her feelings. She wanted to before she lost her chance to. But now that there was no obstacles standing in her way, Liz found herself hesitating.

The next evening, the weather was so warm that Liz decided to take a walk outside in the huge gardens. As she was about to go out, Maria stopped her. "Miss Parker, there is a man who is here to see you. He claims you know him."

"It's not that Kyle Valenti, is it?" Liz asked suspiciously.

"No," Maria answered, giving her a puzzled look. "Shall I send him in?"

"Did he give a name?"

"I asked him for one but he refused. He said he wanted it to be a surprise."

"A surprise?" Liz asked skeptically. "Fine. Take him to the parlor. I'll be right in."

Liz waited a few minutes before heading into the parlor. When she did step through those doors though, she stopped. "Surprise," Max said. He looked at her and half-smiled. "I take it you did not know I was coming?"

"No," Liz managed to get out.

"Well, I thought that since it looked like you weren't coming back, I would come and see what was keeping you from returning," Max informed her.

"I was going to," Liz said a bit defensively. "But I was...just...a little..."

"Busy?" Max finished for her.

"Yes, exactly."

There was an awkward silence as they both stood there, not knowing quite what to say. Finally, not being able to take the silence anymore, Liz asked, "Was there anything else?"

"Well...since I'm here, we might as well get this cleared up. Do you plan on coming back to Thornfield?"

Liz didn't know how to answer that. 'Yes, I want to come back, but not as your housekeeper,' she thought. "I – I'm not sure."

"I understand. After all, you are rich now and you certainly shouldn't be working as my housekeeper. But that's just as well because I have already hired another housekeeper."

"You what?!" Liz was shocked for a moment. 'He doesn't want me to come back,' she thought desperately as her heart took a dive.

"Yes," Max replied casually. He started walking around a bit and Liz noticed that he was holding something behind his back but forgot all about it when he started talking again. "I had to. You weren't back yet and I needed someone to arrange the house for the wedding."

Liz gasped. "Wedding?"

"Yes, I'm getting married. Soon too."

'He is going to marry that Tess woman! How could this happen?' the thoughts raced through her head and she could feel the tears start to rise in her eyes. 'Crying won't help right now, Liz! You have to do something!' she commanded herself. However, even as she was thinking this in her head, another part was telling her 'You're too late and it's your own fault.'

She took a deep breath and spoke icily, "Then why are you here?"

"Well, I need a bride, don't I?" Liz could see a twinkle in his eye but she was still confused.

"Yes, but why are you here?"

"Because I need a bride," Max repeated.

"And this has to do with me…?" a stubborn part of Liz would not let her believe what her heart so desperately wanted.

"I want you to be my bride, Liz," Max said softly.

"Me?!" Liz reeled back in shock. Immediately Max was by her side, gathering her up into his arms.

"Yes you. Who did you think I was talking about?" Max asked, affectionately looking down at her. Liz had never seen him to look so happy, to be so carefree.

Suddenly she thought of Tess and pushed herself out of his arms. "No. What about Tess Harding?" she asked bitterly.

"What about her?"

"She was your fiancee. Why then, all of a sudden, are you proposing to me?"

Max sighed and shook his head. "She was never my fiancee, Liz, and you know that as well as anyone. You of all people know that I did not love and she did not love me. She just wanted me for my money. She wanted anyone who had money. Why do you think that she went after that Valenti guy."

Liz's eyes widened at the mention of Valenti. Suddenly, by taking a look at his mischievous look, Liz knew. "You set her and Kyle up," she accused.

Max grinned and said, "Guilty as charged."

"But why go through all the trouble?"

"Because of you. I knew I loved you from the first moment I saw you but I didn't know how you felt about me? And the quickest way to find out was to see if you were jealous of Tess when I started paying her attention."

"You wanted to make me jealous?"

"Yes, but I still wasn't sure if you loved me. It wasn't until you had gone that I knew."

Liz was doubtful. "How?"

"Because of this." With that, Liz saw what Max had held behind him. It was her unfinished portrait of him that she had left in her room at Thornfield.

"Where did you get that?"

"I went into your room," Max began. He saw her rise of indignation and hurriedly continued, "Please forgive me, Liz, but it was all in innocence. I was only looking for smelling salts for one of the ladies had fainted and I knew you had some. When I went in, this was on the table and I knew. I knew then that you really did love me."

Liz was silent and embarrassed for a moment. But realization at his words slowly sunk in. 'He loves me." That thought reverberated in her head, her soul, and her heart. A smile appeared on her face and she softly glowed. Max saw this and took her in his arms again.

This time she stayed in his arms, contented. Her soul felt at peace and a sense of belonging spread through her. Her thoughts went back to the painting in her room of a perfect family. This family could be reality, she realized. It would be her family – with Max.

Max leaned back slightly and looked at her. "So, once again, will you be my bride?"

"Yes." With that one word, Max bent down and kissed her. As his lips descended onto hers, Liz opened up her heart to him and in return felt Max's heart coming through to her.

Max now knew that no one would ever call him cold again because with Liz in his life, he would be happy. In the time that Liz was gone, he had missed her and craved for her presence. When he could stand it no longer, he had came and sought her out. The day he found the portrait of himself in her room, he could no longer stand the thought of having Tess throw herself at him. So he arranged for her to meet the Kyle Valenti that Liz had told him about.

As he knew, his plan had worked perfectly. With Tess gone, he had been able to go to Liz. But first he made sure that one of the maids had written to Liz about what had transpired.

Now that he was with Liz, Max knew that he was complete. They would have a future together where they would each be happy to love the other. Forever.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*Epilogue~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Max and Liz stood next to each other in total contentment and happiness as they looked out at the sunset. It was late summer and they had been married for six months. Liz then turned to Max slightly and said, "Do you know the painting that hangs in the parlor? The one where there's a family?"

"Your perfect family. Of course I do. What about it?" Max asked as he smiled at her.

Liz looked down and took one of his hands. Gently she placed it on her stomach and looked up at him with a smile on her face and in her eyes. Max took a second to comprehend this and with a whoop, gathered her up to his chest and buried his face in her neck. Liz laughed with joy and happiness at his reaction and to her new family. The sound of Max and Liz's laughter slowly subsided as they sank into each other's embrace.

They grew to be old and had three children. Through the passing years, when they thought it wasn't possible to love the other any more, they found something new that made them fall in love even more. Never were they plagued by the fear of loneliness, never did they deny each other the look that filled them with love.

The End

Ack, the embarrassment of old fics - especially the first one. I edited this to change Celine with Tess. Hmm... I don't think Tess was on the show yet when I first wrote this - scary on one hand but so much happier...::sigh::

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Dec-2002 3:54:28 PM ]
posted on 16-Dec-2002 3:57:00 PM
Title: Drops of Jupiter
Author: Lisa
Category: Max and Liz all the way baby!
Summary: Max leaves for Antar comes back with drops of Jupiter in his hair.
Author's Note: The song is "Drops of Jupiter" from Train's new album. Instead of a guy's POV, this is a mix of both Max and Liz. There are also some spoilers just to warn you. And there is definately happiness insurance on this fic.
Feedback: Always wanted. I just love it even if you write one word comments.
Disclaimer: The characters and such belong the WB and the creators. The lyrics belong to Train. I own nothing.

Now that she's back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there's a time to change, hey, hey
Since the return from her stay on the moon
She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey

Tell me did you sail across the sun
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated
Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star
One without a permanent scar
And there did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there

Now that she's back from that soul vacation
Tracing her way through the constellation, hey, hey
She checks out Mozart while she does tae-bo
Reminds me that there's a room to grow, hey, hey

Now that she's back in the atmosphere
I'm afraid that she might think of me as plain ol' Jane
Told a story about a man who was too afraid to fly so he never did land

Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back to the Milky Way
And tell me, did Venus blow your mind
Was it everything you wanted to find
And there did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there

Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken
Your best friend always sticking up for you even when I know you're wrong
Can you imagine no first dance, freeze dried romance, five-hour phone conversation,
The best soy latte that you ever had... and me

Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back toward the Milky Way
Tell me did you sail across the sun
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated

Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star
One without a permanent scar
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?

And did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And did you fall for a shooting star, fall for a shooting star
And are you lonely looking for yourself out there?


Part 1
"Liz, I have to talk to you," Max said one day in school. He had cornered her by her lockers and she had nowhere to run to. It was a month after their Prom, a month after Liz's heart broke a second time when she saw Max and Tess kiss. It was a well-known fact now that the two of them were going out.

During this time, Liz had done all she could to stay away from the both of them. She hid in her room and worked at the Crashdown as little as possible. Anytime she saw either Max or Tess come in, she ran to the back room and had Maria cover for her. But Maria understood.

The truth was, after seeing them kiss, Liz was tired of keeping her secret. But everytime she saw Isabel or Michael, she knew she couldn't. Especially when she saw how Maria was in love with Michael and knew that she could never do that to her best friend. And so Liz went on, alone.

Snapping back to the present, Liz had seen Max coming and was desperately trying to close her locker but her darn Literature book had gotten stuck. By the time she ripped off the cover and pulled the book loose, Max had already gotten to her.

"Talk to me? About what, Max," Liz asked nervously. She shifted and looked everywhere except into Max's face.

"We can't really talk about it here. Meet me in the eraser room seventh period?"

"The eraser room? Max, I don't really think that's a good…" Liz said, shaking her head before Max interrupted.

"Liz? Please?" his voice was low but insistent. Liz finally dared to look into his eyes and saw something there that she knew meant business.

"Okay," she agreed. "I'll be there."

When Liz was finally able to sneak into the eraser room, Max was already there waiting for her. Both of them flashed back to the last time they were there – when Max told Liz to move on and travel. "So you wanted to talk to me about something?" Liz felt extremely uncomfortable. All she could see was Max kissing Tess.

"Yeah. Liz, remember when we were talking about traveling and seeing the world?" Max said, standing and started pacing in the small, cramped space.

"Yes," Liz beginning cautiously. For some reason, a pit in her stomach grew.

"And I said that I couldn't. That I had to stay and…"

"Max, just tell me," Liz said, already knowing what he had to say somehow.

"In this past month, we've received contact from Antar and they want the four of us to return home," Max said, staring straight at her. His gaze was unwavering and he seemed to want to judge her reaction, as if that were some way to judge her heart.

Liz's head shot up at those words and stared back at him. For a minute she forgot how to breathe. When she realized that she was about to pass out, she finally got the strength to draw in a breath of air. She slowly nodded her head and said, "I see. And are you going back?"

"That's the thing. I don't know yet. Tess wants us to go back but Michael and Isabel are unsure," Max said, running his hand through his hair in frustration.

"And they want you to make the final decision," Liz guessed.

"Basically."

"Do you want to?" Liz asked, half-afraid of the answer.

Max gave her a helpless look. He looked at the ceiling for a minute before saying, "I don't know, Liz, I really don't know."

They were both silent for a moment as they thought of their futures. Liz immediately thought of Future Max and his prophecy of what would happen. "What about the Skins here on Earth? What'll happen if you're not here?"

"The Skins are only here on Earth because they want the Granolith. Once we leave, we'll be taking it with us so the Skins won't have a reason to stay here."

"Once?" Liz couldn't help but notice the particulars.

"If," Max immediately corrected. 'Why did I say once? Do I really plan on going?' he thought to himself.

"If I go, then I'll finally get the chance to finally know who I am, where I come from. I can finally have those questions answered," Max said, just throwing out what he felt.

Liz stared at her hands for a minute. "I understand but this is really up to you, Max. Why are you asking me?"

"Because I trust your judgment," Max began before stopping. When he stopped, Liz knew that he was thinking about her 'sleeping' with Kyle. Her judgment there wasn't too great, she knew, but she did what she knew she had to.

"Max, I don't think you should be asking me. This is completely your choice and I … I have no say in your life," Liz's heart broke when she said that but she knew it was true. She didn't belong in his life anymore and never did.

"I just … I wanted someone to talk to about this."

Liz started to put her hand on his arm in a gesture of comfort but stopped. That was not her place. She started to pull it back but saw the look on Max's face. He was just a teenager like her but had the pressure of two worlds on his shoulders. He looked so completely alone that Liz couldn't deny him any support that she could give him. She gently put her hand on his forearm and smiled at him.

He stared at her hand. How he had missed her touch, even a simple one like this one. Tess couldn't make him feel this way. In the time that they were going out, they had tried various memory retrieval techniques and he felt and saw glimpses of his past life. He felt some traces of emotions toward Tess but it didn't compare to what he still felt for Liz.

He took his other hand and placed it on top of Liz's small one. He squeezed and smiled back at Liz. They stood there, just enjoying the small contact from the other that they missed so desperately. Liz was the first to break the spell. "We should go now, Max."

"I guess so."

They both moved to the door but Liz stopped. "Wait, Max. Does everyone know?"

Max looked uncomfortable at telling her the truth but told it anyway. "Yeah. You weren't exactly around this past month when this all happened," he said, as if trying to defend his and the others' actions.

"No, it's fine, I just…. I understand," Liz stumbled. The truth was, she was a little hurt that no one, not even Maria, had told her what was going on.

They went out the door and stood there, awkwardly. None of them wanted to leave the other but knew they had to. "Well, we should go before someone sees us and gets the wrong idea," Max said with a weak smile, trying to lighten the mood.

"Yeah. I don't think Tess would be very happy if she heard that," with that, Liz turned and walked away. Her voice was strained and she was on the verge of tears. When her back was turned, tears spilled out but she continued to walk away from the love of her life. The scene was reminiscent of last summer, when she walked away from Max in the desert so he could fulfill his destiny. She was walking away yet again so he could live up to what he was meant to.

Part 2

"Maria, how could you not tell me about this?" Liz asked in a distressed voice to Maria. They were on the balcony of Liz's room and Liz had dragged Maria up there to talk about why Maria hadn't told Liz about all that had occurred in the last month.

"I don't know, Liz, I'm sorry. But you were just so sad about Max already hooking up with Tess that I didn't want to upset you any more," Maria said, truly sorry that she hadn't told Liz earlier.

"Didn't you think that I would want to know anyway?"

"Honey, I don't know what to say except that I am so sorry for not telling you everything that's happened and that I should have," Maria said, wringing her hands. Tears started forming in her eyes.

Liz took one look at her and sighed. "I'm sorry, Maria. I shouldn't have accused you like that. You were only trying to protect me, I know."

"Don't you think this is hard for me too, Liz? I mean, Michael is going like a billion light years away and I'll never see him again. I don't want him or the others to go either."

"I know, Maria, I know," Liz went and gave her a hug. "I'm sorry too."

Maria sniffled. "It's not your fault I fell in love with an alien, Liz."

At those words, both Maria and Liz started giggling. "I never thought I would say that!" Maria exclaimed.

"It's okay, chica. We're just two loons who love aliens," Liz smiled. Right then, Maria's cell phone rang. Maria went to answer it and Liz could see by the change in Maria's face that it was not good news.

"The podsters want us to meet with them at Michael's. Something about a meeting," Maria informed Liz.

Liz shook her head and said, "I don't know if I should go. After all, I haven't been around…"

"Oh no you don't. You complain about not being in the loop and now that you have a chance to be, you don't want to be? You're coming with me."

Liz then found herself being dragged with Maria's. As they got closer to Michael's, Liz's sense of apprehension grew. As they got out of the car, she turned to Maria and started again, "I don't think…"

"You think too much. Just come on!"

Maria and Liz were the last to arrive. Everyone was already there: the Czechoslovakians, Alex, Kyle, and even Sheriff Valenti. Once the girls were settled, Max began. "I think everyone already knows what this is about. We need to decide soon if we want to leave or not. I'm not going to make the choice for everyone, it's up to you whether you go or not." Max turned to Isabel first. "Iz?"

"I don't know, Max. If I do go, how do I explain it to Mom and Dad? It would just kill them if we left without saying anything. We owe them so much more than that," Isabel stated. This stress was starting to wear down on her. She rubbed her temples and said, "I need a little more time."

"I don't think we can tell Mom and Dad about us being aliens, Iz. I want to be honest with them but if we tell them, it would just put them in danger," Max said a little sharply.

Isabel stiffened at his tone. "You're one to talk, Max," she shot back, staring pointedly at Liz. Liz flushed slightly at her words and looked at Max for the briefest of seconds before looking away.

"All right, Isabel," Max ground out, his jaw set. He always hated it when Isabel and Michael did that to him, telling him it was a bad idea to have told Liz the truth. But he didn't regret it, not one bit. He looked at Michael. "How about you?"

Before Michael could speak, Maria shot out, "I don't want you to go, Michael! Stay here with me! I need my spaceboy!" The quiet pain and desperation she was feeling was etched in her face as she faced him.

Michael said, "Come here," and reached for Maria's hand. Then he pulled her close to him in a rare show of public affection. Maria rested her head on his chest and spoke.

"I know you've always wanted to go home but couldn't you consider me your home?" Michael felt her tears soak into his shirt and knew his answer then.

"I'm staying." Maria and everyone's heads shot up with those words.

"Are you sure, Michael? All our lives, all you've ever wanted was to go back to our home planet," Isabel exclaimed.

"I know," Michael said wryly. "But my priorities have changed." He looked down at Maria, whose eyes were shining brightly back at him.

"If you're sure, Michael, then I'm not going to try and change your mind," Max said slowly. For some reason, he had always assumed that he, Michael, and Isabel would always stick together. "But I can't say that I'm surprised also."

"You mean you want to stay here?!" Tess shot out. Everybody turned to look at her in surprise. "What about your Destiny?"

They all stiffened at the mention of the word 'Destiny.' No one knew what to say but Michael spoke up. "Like Max said once, 'We make our own destinies.' Besides, I don't think Iz would miss me too much as her husband."

"Michael, I don't know when you have ever said anything so true," Isabel joked. However, no one was really in the mood to laugh too much.

"Well, I for one am going home," Tess said loudly.

"Why am I not surprised," Maria muttered.

Kyle's voice spoke for the first time, quietly and calmly. "So what are we doing here? I mean, is it necessary for me and Dad to be here? I told you once that I didn't want to be involved with you aliens and I mean it! Come on, Dad. It's obvious they don't need us here!" with each word, Kyle's voice escalated.

"Son," Valenti said, trying to calm him down.

"No, Dad! We don't belong here and they obviously don't want us here!"

Max said to him, "Kyle, we don't mind if you're here. We want you to know what's going on. That's why I asked the Sheriff to bring you here also."

"You know what, Evans? I don't care what you have to say. You may be some hot shot king back home, but you aren't one here! So why don't you go home and just leave us all alone!" Kyle shouted angrily before storming out.

Valenti looked at all of them and said, "I'm sorry," before turning around and going after Kyle. A few minutes later they heard car doors slam shut and an engine starting. Tess looked a little troubled when she heard the sound of the engine fading.

Alex spoke up then. "Not to sound all like Kyle and everything, but I also fail to see why I'm here. I don't really see how my appearance here will help you guys make your big decision whether you go on the mothership or not."

Liz had to smile at Alex's words but she knew how he felt too. Isabel turned to look at Alex and said, "Because we need your support."

"Well right now, Michael is staying and Tess is going. That only leaves you and Max," Alex said.

Max looked pained at having to make a decision. He knew that whichever choice he made, Isabel would follow him. He looked around the room, almost as if he could see the clear answer somewhere. His eyes settled on Liz.

"Liz? What do you think?" he asked softly.

"I already told you, Max. It's not by choice to make," Liz replied, uncomfortable with everyone staring at her. It didn't help that Tess was glaring at her and Max.

"I know," Max told her. "I just want to know what you think."

Liz looked at him, Isabel, Alex, and finally Maria and Michael. The words that Future Max kept ringing in her ears. "Sometimes we make our own destinies, Max. But sometimes … sometimes, we don't. And I think everything happens for a reason. You've been waiting a long time for this, a chance to finally get to explore that side of you. I think that you owe it to yourself to find all the answers you need. You owe it to your people to be there for them," Liz said, her heart breaking inside with each word. "Go, Max."

Max's eyes never left Liz's face as she spoke. He knew that he had to go then because what she said was true. "Alright. I guess then … that … I'm going."

"If you're going, Max, then I will to," Isabel said. "You're my brother and we stick together no matter what."

"Well, I guess that we can leave now," Alex said. He stood up and sighed. "It's been nice knowing you Czechs but I respect your decision. I'm going to go. Liz?"

Liz looked at Max and unspoken words were both said inside their heads. She then turned to Alex and said, "Yeah, I'm coming." As she left, she could feel Max's eyes burning into her head.

Part 3
"We have to tell them, Max! We can't just have them wake up one morning and find us gone! Do you know how much that would kill them? Especially Mom!" Isabel yelled at Max.

"What do you want me to do? Just go up to them and say 'Hey, Mom. What's up, Dad? Oh, just wanted to tell you Isabel and I are aliens. We're leaving for a planet where I'm a king and Iz is a princess who's married to Michael.' Would that work for you?" Max said sarcastically.

"Yes!" Isabel said before she really thought about it. "Max."

"I know how you're feeling, Iz. We owe them our lives. They taught us how to trust, how to be human. But don't you think that we might put them in danger?"

Isabel didn't say anything. She stood by her vanity and looked at her reflection. She looked around her room. She said sadly, "Look at this, Max. Don't you see how much they love us? We were nobody to them but they stopped and made us their children. How lucky were we? We have all this because of them. We could have ended up like Michael with Hank as a father, but we didn't because they stopped to pick us up."

Max just sighed deeply and rested his head on his hands. "Don't you think I've thought about that? I want to tell them too but…"

"Then let's, Max. We are going to be leaving and we may never be back again. Please," Isabel begged.

Max's eyes were drawn to a picture that was on Isabel's nightstand. It was a family picture of them at Disneyland. He had been so excited to finally meet Mickey. He was nine. His mom years later had told him how happy she had been just to hear him laugh. He knew Isabel was right. "Okay, Isabel. We'll tell them."

"Are you serious?" Isabel was shocked. She didn't really think Max would agree.

"Yeah. Let's go now," Max didn't want to wait. He knew that if he hesitated, he would lose his nerve. Thoughts of insecurity ran through him. 'Will they accept us? What will they think?' These thoughts were not new. He was thinking the same thing when he had told Liz the truth. He only hoped that they could be as accepting as she was.

Liz. 'Thinking about her again,' he mentally teased himself. He knew he was 'going out' with Tess. However, that didn't say much. After their brief kiss at the prom, they hadn't done much. Mostly memory retrieval was what they did on their 'dates.'

'Why do you do this to yourself, Max?' he silently berated himself. 'Try. She was your wife.' He and Isabel walked down to the living room. 'Then why do you love Liz still?' the question played over in his mind as Isabel went to get their parents.

Philip and Diane walked in. By the look on their children's faces, they knew something was wrong. "What's going on?" Philip asked.

Isabel cast a nervous look at Max. "You tell them, Max," she said, not wanting to be the one who said it.

'Once again it's me,' Max thought. He looked at the only parents he knew and said, "Mom, Dad. Isabel and I have something to tell you."

~*~*~*~*Liz's balcony~*~*~*~*~*

Dear Journal,
I have been writing in you consistently for a while now. I have shared all my secrets with you, even the incident with Future Max. Now I have something else to say. Max is leaving. He's really going away and I don't know if he's ever coming back. He is going back to his home planet (I know that sounds ridiculous!) and I wonder now if I should tell him the truth. Michael said earlier today that he was going to stay here on Earth with Maria. When he said that, part of me wished it was Max who said that and I was the reason he was staying. Then Tess spoke. She mentioned their Destiny again. I wonder, what will happen now that Michael isn't going? He is a vital part to their four-square power. How do I tell them that without revealing the truth? There's that word again: truth. It's what I ache to tell so very much. Thank goodness for Maria or else I would have exploded from keeping it all inside. I realize now that if Max leaves, I won't have him. That scares me. I will have to move on, something I'm not sure if I'm ready to do. I love him. That I am sure of. Forever. But I don't think I could be alone forever. But that's how I'm feeling right now, alone. If only…

Liz

As Liz finished writing in her journal, she heard someone climbing up her ladder. Looking around desperately for something heavy, she just found a flowerpot and held it above her head, waiting for the perpetrator. Instead, she saw Max's familiar head coming up.

"Max," her voice betrayed her surprise at his presence.

"Hey, Liz. I hope you don't mind that I came over without calling," he said, eyeing the pot.

"No, not at all."

"Thanks. Umm…are you going to put that down?"

Liz realized that her arms were still stretched over her head. "Oh," she said sheepishly and put the flowerpot back down. "So?"

Max looked around and realized that he hadn't been up in the balcony for a while. "I just told my parents the truth," he said bluntly.

Liz immediately understood. "Oh, Max. How did they take it?"

"Pretty well, considering… well, you know. My mom wasn't that surprised for some reason but my dad thought we were high on some drugs or something. It took a little demonstration for him to believe me and Isabel," Max answered.

Liz knew that there was more that Max wasn't saying. "And?"

"And… they didn't take well to the fact that we were leaving. My mom started crying and my dad got pretty…I don't know. I just know they weren't happy," Max said with a troubled look.

"Max, they aren't angry with you, I don't think. They're just probably angry that you have to leave so soon. I mean, they accepted the fact that you're an alien, right?" Liz said, trying to make him feel better.

"Yeah, but I still feel so guilty," Max grumbled.

"That's because you're Max. You feel like you are responsible for everything. Maybe that just goes to prove that you really are a king," Liz told him. She went and sat down on her lawn chair. Max went and sat down on the other one so that they were facing each other.

"Could we not talk about me being king and all that?" Max asked, getting tired of all the weight he was feeling on his shoulders right now.

Liz felt sorry for him but knew that she had to go on. "Max, there's something I need to ask you. Don't you think that you should have Michael go along with you guys back home?"

"Why? I would have thought that you would want him and Maria…"

"I do…I mean, I don't…" Liz stammered. She took a deep breath and began again. "Do you remember the book that Tess had?" Max nodded his head. "Well, in it, there was this square where you and Tess made up one half and Isabel and Michael made up the other half…"

"Liz, I remember. What are you trying to say?" Max asked impatiently. Liz was not making the most sense to him. Why was she bringing up these memories?

"If you're going back to Antar and to fight the Skins, you'll need Michael to defeat them," Liz said in a hurry.

"How do you know, Liz?" Max asked suspiciously.

"I – I just do."

Max stared past Liz into the sky for a minute. "Like you just know how the Granolith is so powerful, right?"

Liz could see that Max was pained that she wouldn't – couldn't – trust him. She didn't dare look him in the eyes. "Max, I want to tell you, I do. But, I can't," she beseeched him, hoping that he would understand.

"Why, Liz? Who is this person that you're keeping safe? Is he really so important that it's worth all this?" Max asked angrily.

'Yes. You,' Liz thought miserably. Instead, she just looked down at the ground.

"Fine, Liz. I won't ask you again. But I'm not going to ask Michael to change his mind. If he wants to stay here, it's his choice," Max told her. "We'll just find some way to deal without him on Antar."

Liz's tears began to fall without her really knowing the exact reason why. "Please, Max. You can't. You need him, you all do. You have no idea how strong the Skins are…"

"And you do?" Max interrupted. "If you want Michael to come with us, you're going to have to convince him yourself."

Liz was torn. Maria needed Michael, but so did Max, Isabel, and Tess. She would have to find a way to get Maria to help her. She looked at Max and asked the dreaded question, "When are you leaving?"

Max's stomach flipped nervously as he said, "In a week."

"A week? That soon!" Liz exclaimed.

"Yeah."

Liz scanned the sky until she found the 'V' constellation. "So that's where you'll be from now on."

Max followed her gaze and he looked at it too. "Yeah. God, Liz, I don't know what to do."

Liz's head snapped at his confession. "What do you mean, Max?"

"What if this is some trap I'm leading us into? What if I'm not the king that they need? I could end up making it worse for all the people? I just … I'm just a kid," Max's voice sounded lost.

Liz stared at him for a moment, trying to sort out her thoughts. When she spoke, her voice was clear and strong. "You're wrong, Max. You are not just a kid. You are so much more than that. I see the king in you, you must have been a wonderful one, one that was compassionate and cared for his people, or else they would never go through so much trouble to save you. And I know you're scared, Max, but that's natural. But you need to try and save your people. I will always support your decisions, Max. Even from here."

Max looked down from the sky to Liz. Her eyes shone and he saw truth and faith in them. "Thank you," he said softly, for lack of better words.

"You're welcome," Liz answered back. Then trying to change the topic she asked, "So, you still didn't really answer my question why you're here. I mean, shouldn't you have gone to…"

"Oh," Max said, embarrassed. "You mean Tess. I was going to but decided that she wouldn't really be able to understand what my parents were thinking and I knew that…"

"I would," Liz finished.

"Yeah. So, what were you thinking when I told you I was an alien?" Max asked curiously.

Liz tried to remember exactly. "I think part of me knew. You know, how could I not with you healing me and all? But part of me didn't want to believe that you were different."

"So you were scared?" Max knew it.

"No!" Liz shot out. She looked at Max earnestly. "No, I wasn't. I was… shocked, but not scared. How could I have been? You were Max and that was all that I cared about. So what were you thinking when you told me?"

"I was kind of hoping you wouldn't run away screaming," Max smiled.

"It's a good thing you weren't the one who told Maria then," Liz joked.

Max chuckled along with her. "Me too."

As their laughter faded, Max knew that he had to go. He could stay forever like this with Liz and that scared him. He stood up and Liz followed. "Are you going?"

"Yeah. Isabel's going to kill me if I don't get back soon. Besides, I think my parents will have calmed down by now."

Liz nodded and walked him to the fire escape. "Okay. Bye."

Max swung his legs over and started climbing down. "Bye, Liz."

Before Max's head disappeared over the edge, Liz called out to him. "Max?"

Max stopped where he was and looked at Liz. "Yeah?"

Liz hesitated for a minute before saying, "I'm sure your parents are going to be fine with your whole alien status. Just … give them a little time. They still love you," she finished lamely.

'And you?' Max wanted to ask before he bit back his tongue. "Thanks, Liz," he said before climbing down.

Part 4
Maria had just finished her shift at the Crashdown when Liz approached her. Liz's eyes were troubled as she asked, "Maria, can I talk to you?"
Maria was worried because she knew it couldn't be good news the way Liz was acting right now. "Sure, Liz."

Liz led them to her room and closed the door. She looked at Maria and just steeled her nerve. "Oh, God, Maria. This is so hard. I don't want to tell you this but I have to. I'm sorry. I really am," Liz babbled.

"Okay, first of all, calm down! I can't hear a single thing you're saying. And second of all, why are you sorry?" Maria said, going over and putting her hands on Liz's shoulders to calm her down.

"For what I'm about to ask of you."

Maria backed away. She laughed nervously, "And what is that?"

"To give up Michael."

"What?!" Maria shrieked.

"Okay, I know this is really hard but listen to me," Liz could see that Maria was not paying attention. "Maria, Maria, look, blame me if you want but you have to listen to what I have to say!"

"Why?" Maria yelled. "Michael is actually staying here with me. He wants to be with me. Do you know how much I've dreamed of something like this, where Michael finally shows his love? Liz, why would you want me to give that up?!"

"Honey, calm down. Remember when Future Max came? He said that the reason why they all were defeated was because Tess wasn't with them and they needed her. They needed to complete the square. If Michael isn't with them, they won't defeat the Skins and they'll all die," Liz said in a rush.

"But you changed all that, didn't you?" Maria said, trying to find some hope somewhere.

Liz sadly shook her head. "What I did was only so that Tess would stay. It didn't have anything to do with Michael staying."

Maria sat still for a minute thinking of some way, any way for Michael to stay. Liz gently said, "Maria, you have to do what is right. Imagine the guilt Michael would feel if something were to happen to Max and Isabel."

Maria didn't say anything. There was nothing left to say.

~*~*~*~*Michael's apartment~*~*~*~*~*

Michael groaned as he heard a loud banging on his door. He glanced over at the clock and it glowed 2:15 AM. "This better be important or go away," he yelled at the door.

He blinked in surprise when he heard Maria's voice coming through, "Just put your pants on and open the door, Spaceboy."

He went over to the door and pulled it open. "Maria, what are you doing?"

Maria brushed past him and went inside. He stood there for a second and stepped back. "Please, come in," he said sarcastically.

"Cut the chit-chat. I have to talk to you," Maria said.

Michael folded his arms and put on his 'I'm waiting' face. Maria turned her back and said, "I want you to go."

"Go? Maria, this is my apartment and I'm not go…" Michael began indignantly.

"God, you are so dense sometimes!" Maria exploded. "I want you to go back to your planet with Max and Isabel."

"What?! Maria, what are you talking about?" Michael exclaimed. When Maria didn't answer him, he went over to her and forced her to turn around. When he did, he saw her eyes were red from crying and that tears were still coming down her face. "What is it? Why?" he worriedly asked.

Maria almost lost her nerve, but she knew what she had to do. "Where's my cedar oil?" she rummaged around, trying to delay the inevitable.

"Forget the oil and tell me what you're talking about!" Michael roared.

"Alright, alright! You remember the book Tess had last year? The one with your whole destiny written in it?"

"Yeah."

"The others won't defeat the Skins unless you're there with them. You need that little four-square thingy to win."

"How do you know?"

"Women's intuition. What does it matter, Michael? You have to go with them."

Michael was at a loss for words. Confused, he said, "But, Maria, don't you want…"

"You to be with me forever? You to stay with me? Yes. I do. But… this … you're life… what you're meant for. That's more important right now."

"Maria, I don't want to leave you."

Both their eyes were somber as they looked at each other. Maria moved into his arms and said, "But you will. Promise you'll come back to me?"

Michael tightened his arms protectively and said, "Promise."



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Dec-2002 4:01:52 PM ]
posted on 16-Dec-2002 4:05:39 PM
Part 5
A somber group gathered inside the Granolith chamber. The four aliens stood in the middle with a few belongings. Max and Isabel's parents were there, just staring at the scenery. Alex, Liz, and Maria huddled close, trying to draw strength from each other. Kyle and Valenti also were there, a little off to the side.
"How do you know when it's time to go," Philip Evans finally ventured to ask.

Max looked at his dad and answered, "I'm not sure, but we'll know." The other podsters nodded their heads slightly to affirm his answer.

"Well, in case we don't have too much time, I'm going to start saying good-bye," Mrs. Evans said with a noticeable tremble in her voice.

With those words, everyone moved forward toward the four-some. Philip went to Max and Diane approached Isabel. They moved into a huddle and the parents told them how much they loved them and how they accepted them. They added that nothing would ever change the fact that they were their children, now and forever.

Max and Isabel stood there with tears in their eyes and knew that they had made the right choice in telling. They moved into their parents' embrace and held on tight. "Thank you," Max began with a lump in his throat. "Thank you for stopping that night in the desert. Thank you for becoming our parents. Thank you for loving us."

"There is no need for thanks, honey. If there is, we should thank you for showing us the joys in being a parent, for trusting us," Diane replied.

Meanwhile, Tess was talking with Liz. They stood awkwardly for a moment but Liz summoned her courage and spoke. "Look, Tess, I know that we're not really friends and all, but I just wanted to say that I hope you are happy back home. I mean…"

Tess spoke, "I will be happy. I don't think that there will be any question about that. I mean, I will queen. And I will rule beside my husband," with that, Tess pointedly looked at Max. Liz followed her gaze and then turned back.

"Good. It is your destiny, after all."

"So glad you realize that, Liz," Tess responded coolly.

The two stared at each other with nothing less than distrust before they were interrupted by Kyle. "Hey, Tess, can I talk to you?"

Liz then went to talk to Michael, who was busily hugging Maria. "Hey, can I interrupt for a second?" she asked with a small smile.

"Sure, Lizzie. I'll just go…" Maria began.

"No, you can stay," Liz told her. She looked at Michael and said, "I know how hard it must have been for you, Michael, to decide to leave. I know that you and Maria…" Liz trailed off, unsure of what to say. "But it's necessary for you to be with them."

Michael looked at her suspiciously for a moment, wondering at her choice of words. Then dismissing it, he replied, "Tell me about it. But, hey, I want you to do something for me."

"What is it?" Liz asked, truly wondering at what Michael wanted.

"Make sure she's okay, will you?" Michael gestured toward Maria, who was still hanging onto him. "You know, just that she's fine when I'm gone and …"

Liz interrupted. "Sure, Michael, no problem."

"What's the matter, Spaceboy? Don't you trust me? Let me tell you, I'll be fine…"

Liz secretly smiled and stole away from them. 'Always arguing,' she thought to herself. She looked around and saw with surprise that Isabel was giving Alex a fierce hug. 'So, in the end, some emotional truths are revealed,' Liz commented, thinking about her own little secrets. She looked down in her hands and the object she was carrying. In it contained her life, her hopes, and her love.

She saw that the Sheriff and Kyle were talking with Tess. Tess confused Liz. At times, she seemed to genuinely want to be one of the group, but then there were times that Liz honestly did not trust her. Tess would show signs of duplicity and seemed to be conniving some scheme. 'Of course, it could just be that you don't trust her because she has Max,' Liz reminded herself.

At the thought of Max, Liz looked around to see where he was. Nervousness pervaded her body as she saw that he was heading towards her. Then the thought that Max was actually leaving hit her. She might never see him again. This thought gave her courage to what she was going to do.

Max swallowed as he approached Liz. Standing by herself, she seemed to be stoically alone. Yet her face was so expressive, something Max once thought he could read so perfectly. Now, he saw some struggle going on inside of Liz. That seemed to be the case lately. Ever since the incident with Kyle, Liz seemed to have closed a part off to him – something that hurt more than her betrayal.

With each step closer toward each other, the more the words built up in each of them. So much to say, so much to fear. "Hey, Liz."

"Max," Liz said with a brave smile. "So this is it, huh? You're actually going?"

"Yeah, I guess so," Max agreed, slightly nodding his head. "Look, Liz, before I go, I just wanted to tell you something."

"Yeah?" Liz asked, expectantly.

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"For accepting me … and the others, you know, even though we were … different," Max said, his gratitude showing through his eyes. Liz was mesmerized at how his eyes just seemed to glow with emotion.

Just then, the Granolith started glowing and humming. Everyone's eyes automatically locked with each other's and knew it was time to go. Everyone immediately began hugging each other and soon Liz found herself half-across the room from Max. "So how does this all work?" Maria asked.

"I'm not sure but I get the feeling we just step through," Max answered.

"So, let's get this show on the road then," Michael announced. Maria's choked sobs echoed through the room and Michael gave her one last kiss before stepping into the glowing Granolith. He turned and faced them. His gaze lingered on Maria and he waved before he disappeared.

"Michael!" Maria's anguished cries reverberated through the room. She almost ran after him before Alex grabbed her and held her back.

"Tess, why don't you go ahead," Max suggested.

"No, Max, I want to go with you," Tess whined. She attempted to grab his hand but Max gently pulled away.

"Please, Tess. Isabel and I want to spend these extra minutes with our parents," Max replied, trying to be patient while his nerves were being tried.

"Are you sure that's the reason you want me to go first," Tess slyly said, glaring at Liz.

"Tess," Max warned.

"Fine," Tess huffed. She turned to look at everyone but realized that there was no one there that would really miss her except for the Sheriff and Kyle. They both nodded their good-byes and she slightly smiled back. Then tossing Liz one more contemptuous look, she practically ran to the Granolith, not bothering to hide her eagerness to go.

Isabel then said, "I guess then I should go next. Mom, Dad, thank you again for everything. I can't tell you everything I want to say or express all the gratitude and love I feel, but I want you to know that I love you." Tears fell onto her face.

"Oh, Izzy," Diane wept. She wiped the tears from her daughter's face gently with a mother's love and touch.

"Isabel, your mom and I know what you feel because we feel the same toward you and Max. You take care, please," Philip said thickly. He then engulfed her and Diane into a hug, and then pulled Max into it. They stood there for a few more seconds before Isabel pulled away.

She then walked over to Alex, Maria, and Liz. "Thank you, for accepting me," she said simply. Then, as if on impulse, she kissed Alex before resolutely turning to the portal and stepping through. She blew them a kiss before she was transported to Antar.

"I guess this is me then," Max tried to say bravely.

"Take care of yourself, son," his dad said, giving him another hug.

"I will," Max replied, blinking away tears. His mom said nothing but Max knew what she was feeling and no words had to be exchanged as they hugged one last time.

The Sheriff came up to Max and said, "Son, I just wanted to say I'm sorry about what happened when I first suspected the truth. There's no real excuse except that I was scared. Now I know better and thank you for giving me the closure I needed about my father." He held out his hand, which Max took.

Than Kyle spoke up, "Look, Evans, a while back I said some stuff that I kinda regret now too. You didn't ruin my life or my family's. What was meant to be, was meant to be. And you saved my life, which I never thanked you for. So, thanks."

Max was silent for a moment but quickly recovered. "No hard feelings, Kyle," and they took shook hands, reconciling their past disagreements.

The Granolith then gave a louder pulse, which made everyone jump in the air. Max turned and looked at it before saying, "I should go now."

Alex spoke up and said, "See ya then." Max smiled at that, hoping it would be true someday. Maria then tearfully spoke up and said, "Watch Michael for me, Max. You know how he doesn't think most of the time. Watch him please."

"You know I will, Maria," Max reassured her. His eyes then ticked over to Liz's. Liz knew it was now or never.

She went up to him and said, "Max, before you thanked me. You have nothing to thank me for. Accepting you … I already did before I knew. It should be me thanking you." The Granolith gave another angry pulse, trying to signal that time was almost up. Liz hurriedly tried to say all her words. "Thank you for opening up the world, for showing me that there's more in this world than what meet's the eye. For showing me that normal isn't always good. For making me breath, for saving me."

Max stood there listening to her and quickly pulled her into a fierce embrace. In a flash, Liz felt all his emotions – including his love for her still. Max then turned to go but Liz rushed after him. "Max, wait!" she shoved her package into his hands. When his confused eyes met her her's, she explained, "It's my journal. All the questions you have, the answers are in there. Everything," she stressed.

Max quickly looked at the Granolith and back at Liz. "I love you, Liz, still," he said before stepping in. "I love you!" Liz cried desperately at him, hoping he heard her.

The way Max's eyes quickly lit up, she knew he did. But then, overwhelming sorrow engulfed his face and he put his hand on one side of the Granolith. For some reason, Liz felt a sense of déjà vu as she lifted her own hand to mirror his hand on the other side. And with that, Max was gone.

Part 6
Before they had left, everyone in the group had come up with the story that the four podsters were participating in an exchange program in Europe for the rest of their high school years. Because Max, Michael, and Tess had kept a relatively low profile in school, this was not too much of a deal. With Isabel, it didn't take too much to convince her friends about her little hoax.
After the four of them were gone, the humans back on Earth tried to get on with their lives. However, it wasn't easy considering the fact that they lived in Roswell, where practically every storefront had something alien related in the windows.

Philip and Diane kept everything in their children's rooms as they were, half-hoping that they might return soon to those rooms once again. While they grieved over the quick departure of their children, they kept a brave face. Part of their façade was telling the community how their children and their friends were enjoying Europe.

Kyle missed Tess but he moved on rather quickly. He wasn't as pained as the others because he had been distancing himself from the others for a while, even before the aliens had left. He continued to play basketball and football and was made captain for both teams. With this new position, he made new friends and hung out in an entirely new clique of people, and avoided Maria, Alex, and Liz all together.

Maria decided to rejoin Alex's band and they poured their hearts and souls into this project. They often practiced into the late hours of the night and early hours of the morning. Mrs. DeLuca started worrying over the possibility that Maria was taking drugs during these 'practices' and practically had Maria taking urine sample tests. However, Alex and Maria's hard work paid off as they started getting more and more gigs at the local clubs.

Liz meanwhile withdrew and threw all of her time into her schoolwork. When she wasn't working at the Crashdown or studying, she would just blank out. Liz tortured herself with 'what if's' and 'could have beens.' Maria and Alex tried to help Liz out of her withdrawal process and begged her to no end about going out with them to the local clubs.

However, on the rare occasions on which they did convince Liz to go with them, any bystander could see that Liz was ill at ease there. Soon, Alex and Maria stopped trying to convince Liz. Because they spent less and less time together, they drifted apart.

~*~Antar~*~
When Max stepped out, he could sense the others before he actually saw them. The light there seemed to be brighter and more intense than back on Earth. His eyes focused and he saw the other three looking at him. There didn't seem to be anyone else there.

Immediately Tess sidled up next to him and clung to his arm. "Max, I was getting so worried that you weren't coming or something. What took you so long?"

Max absently withdrew his arm and looked around. "Shouldn't there be someone here waiting for us?" he asked.

Michael squinted at him and said, "Yeah, but there doesn't seem to be anyone around. I don't like this, Maxwell."

"Be ready." That was all Max said but everyone knew what he meant. They stood in a circle with their backs toward each other so that every person was facing out. Their senses were heightened as adrenaline pumped through them. Max was silently berating himself already, afraid that he had led them into a trap. In his hand, he still clutched Liz's journal.

"Welcome," a voice came. Instantly, the four heads snapped up to see where the voice was coming from. "Do not be alarmed, your majesties. We are here to receive you."

Max looked off into the distance and he saw some figures coming toward them. They looked…different. Not exactly human, but not altogether out of this world alien like they had on television. As he glanced at the others, he was shocked to see that they also were not in human form. He hadn't even noticed it before – why?

Then he realized it was as if their personalities, essence, soul was on the outside, just so that he could sense them without even having to look at them. It was odd, yet familiar at the same time. By now, the strangers had approached and Max could indeed sense that they meant them no harm.

"Welcome. We have waited so long for this day, King Zan," they said. It took Max a second to realize that this was him. He wasn't quite sure how to respond. 'Yes, well, we really didn't all want to come?' Somehow, he knew this was not the best thing to say.

"Forgive us, you have had a long trip. You must be very tired. Allow us to show you to your rooms," their 'guide' said. As he walked, Max and the others followed him.

"What is your name?" Max managed to ask.

"My name is Akire, your majesty," Akire answered as he led them into a castle that just seemed to exude authority and royalty. It was made of some kind of material that glowed a brilliant white and gold, catching the rays of the sun.

"Wow," Michael said, awestruck. That one word captured basically what the others were feeling about the building.

"Wait, what about our bags," Isabel suddenly asked, remembering they had left them in a big pile where they had 'landed.'

"You will not need them any longer. You will find them completely useless here," Akire replied. "As a matter of fact, King Zan, I will take that … book … out of your hands if you do not want it."

"NO!" Max nearly shouted and gripped Liz's journal even harder. He quickly recovered when he saw the startled look on Akire and the confused looks from the others. "I mean, no, that is quite alright. I want to keep this."

"As you wish."

"Here you are. This room here belongs to Prince Rath and Princess Vilandra. The one two doors away is King Zan's and Queen Ava."

Immediately, Max, Michael, and Isabel knew there was a problem. "Umm… actually, we would like separate rooms for the four of us," Max spoke up.

Akire was puzzled. "Four separate rooms? But why?"

"Well, we're not exactly comfortable sleeping together in the same room like this."

"But you are married."

"Hey, buddy, listen," Michael finally exploded. "That guy there is the king, right? Well, if he says he wants separate rooms, give him separate rooms. And we are not married!"

Akire was taken aback. "Yes, of course. Allow for me to arrange it," before scurrying off.

"Well, that went well," Michael said, after a pause.

"Michael, I don't think you had to be that rude," Max reproached.

"Look, Maxwell – or Zan. I am not sleeping in the same room as Isabel and I am sure she feels the same way." Michael looked at Isabel for confirmation and she vigorously nodded her head. "And we have power here so we might as well use it!"

"But we're not supposed to abuse that," Max said, stubbornly.

"Abuse it! I was just speaking up for you! … Unless of course you want to share a room with Tess," Michael said pointedly.

Max glanced at Tess who was looking at him expectantly. "No, of course not," Max relented softly.

Tess spoke up. "Max, you know Akire is right. We are married and we should sleep in one room."

"We aren't really married, Tess," Max automatically replied. "That was our old life and this is our new one."

Tess appeared disgusted at his words for a moment. But then she noticed the notebook in Max's hands. "What is that?"

"It's…" Max was reluctant to answer Tess. For some reason, he wanted to keep this private, it was his only physical connection with Liz left. He was just dying to go and read what was inside. Luckily, Akire came back at that moment and saved Max from having to answer Tess.

"Your rooms are ready. This room here will belong to King Zan, this one next to it will go to Princess Vilandra and those down there will be Prince Rath's and Queen Ava's."

"Why isn't my room next to Ma – I mean, Zan's?" Tess pouted.

"King Zan and Princess Vilandra always have rooms next to each other. That is the way it has always been," Akire answered. "Now, if there is nothing else…"

"No, thank you," Max replied absently, already heading into his room. "I will see you all later," before disappearing into privacy. Once inside the room, he practically ripped open the cover. He knew he should have started at the beginning, but he couldn't help himself. He flipped to that date that was seared in his brain.

Oh, God, what have I done? He thinks I've…betrayed him – his trust, his love. How can I ever look him in the eyes again, knowing that I love him more than ever but he won't ever know that?

Wait a minute, thinks I've betrayed him? Did this mean that …? Max forged on.

I told Future Max. Wait a minute, Future Max? What was this? Max flipped back a few pages. As Max read about Future Max coming back and everything that Liz had done for, everything that Liz sacrificed because of him, he was filled with so many emotions. There was regret, remorse, pain, shock. But most of all, there was love. His love for Liz just seemed to grow in size, to a level where Max thought his heart and soul would burst.

He looked up. He looked around. He was Antar. She was on Earth. He loved her still.

Part 7
~*~Three years later~*~
"Alex Whitman! If you do not get your butt down here right this instant, I am going up there and dragging you down!" Maria bellowed up the stairs.
"Maria, what is the hurry? I mean, it's not like they're gonna be able to start without us?" Alex replied as he ambled slowly down the stairs.

"The hurry?" Maria shrieked. "The hurry is that we have been trying to get this gig at Caliente! forever and the show is going to start in an hour! That is the hurry!"

Alex grinned and started out the door. He looked back and said with a wicked smile, "Come on, Maria. We don't want to be late now, do we?"

Maria's face twisted in mock anger and ran out the door after Alex. She was about to yell at him when she noticed that he was standing still, staring at something – or rather, someone. "What's going on, Alex?" She followed his gaze and almost fainted. There standing were Max, Michael, and Isabel. "Where's my cedar oil?" Maria managed to squeak out.

~*~*~*~*~*

"So, let me get this straight? You're planning on staying on Earth?" Maria asked skeptically.

"Yes!" Michael shot back, exasperated. "We've said it twenty times already, Maria!"

"Don't you use that tone with me, Michael!" Maria snapped. "You expect me to accept you guys with open arms after three years, just like that? I don't think so!"

Max interrupted at that point before Michael and Maria killed each other. "I know this is hard, Maria, with us just showing up like this. But you have to believe us, we are here to stay this time."

Alex jumped in. "But why? I mean, on Antar you guys are like the big kahoonas and here, well, you're not really…"

"…important?" Isabel finished with a smile.

"No!" Alex defended himself. "You are definitely importantly, at least to us. I was going to say famous." Isabel's smile broadened when she heard that.

"Famous is the last thing we want to be," Max answered. "It was nice on Antar but we wanted to come back home."

"What about the war?" Maria wondered.

For a moment, the three faces of the aliens darkened as they relived their memories of the war on Antar. "It's over," Michael simply replied. Seeing the looks on Maria and Alex's faces, Max realized they probably wanted more information.

"We won the war. Khivar is no longer a threat to us – he's dead. And as for our thrones, Michael, Isabel, and I didn't want it anymore. So right now, it's kind of a democracy."

"Oh. Coolness, democracy is good," Alex said, nodding his head. "So, where's Tess?"

The name 'Tess' seemed to strike a nerve. Backs stiffened and faces hardened. "Gone."

~*~*~*~*~*

It was late into the night, but the five old friends sat up talking, trying to catch up on lost time. The conversations focused mainly on Maria and Alex though because the others did not seem to want to talk about Antar much. Michael wanted to talk to Maria privately and waited semi-patiently for his chance. Finally, when Maria went to the kitchen to get a glass of water, he followed her.

"So, Maria…" he started.

"I'm surprised you remember my name," Maria replied coolly. "Three years, Michael. Three years I have waited and you finally come."

"I know. But I'm back, for good now," Michael pleaded.

"So?"

"So? What do you mean 'so'?" Michael asked in disbelief. This wasn't exactly the welcome from Maria he was hoping for. Then something dawned on him. "Are you going out with Alex?"

"What?!" Maria exploded. Then she burst out laughing. "I'm not going with Alex! How could you even think that?"

"Well, what do you expect me to think? You guys have spent a lot of time together these last few years," Michael said defensively.

"Yeah, cause you've been on some God-knows-where planet meeting other alien chicks and fighting and… and… meeting alien chicks."

"Is that what all this is about?" Michael asked. His eyes softened and he took Maria's hand. "Maria, I haven't been meeting 'alien chicks' while I've been gone. I've been thinking about you constantly. I promised you that I would come back to you, didn't I?"

Maria threw himself into Michael's arms, her doubts and worries over the years suddenly gone. "I've missed you, Spaceboy."

"Me too."

~*~*~*~*~*

"So glad to see you two finally joining us again," Alex said sarcastically when Michael and Maria finally joined them again.

"I know. You must have missed our presence terribly," Maria said.

Max summoned his courage and finally asked the question that had been on his mind ever since he had gotten back on Earth. "Where's Liz?"

Maria and Alex exchanged glances, which did not go on unnoticed by Max. "What? Did something happen?" he asked, panic rising in him.

"No!" Maria quickly answered. "It's just that…well…we don't exactly know."

Isabel was confused. "Wait, you don't know where Liz is? But how…"

Alex answered. "Well, after you guys left, we kind of drifted apart. Liz didn't seem want to be around us anymore. All we know is that she is probably… probably in the Boston area. She got accepted to Boston College on a free ride, from what her parents tell us, and that's all we know. We don't know if she's still there."

Max looked devastated. "I have to find her. I have so much to tell her."

Maria's heart went out to him. "I'm sure you'll find her," she comforted him. "And I'm sure she's waiting for you somewhere."

~*~Boston, Massachusetts~*~

"Elizabeth Parker, will you marry me?"

"WHAT?!" Liz shot out of her seat. She stared down at her date for that night, Sean.

Sean was down on his knees and started following her on them as she backed away. "I would like to have the honor of being your husband," he clarified.

"But…but…" Liz sputtered. "But, Sean, we've only had two dates. Don't you think," she gave a nervous chuckle, "don't you think this is a little sudden?" She continued backing away from him but he kept following.

Liz looked around the small restaurant they were in and her cheeks flushed even more to see that they were the center of everyone's attention. "You should really get up, Sean."

"Not until you say yes. I know we haven't known each other that long, Liz, but I really think we should get married. As soon as possible!"

Liz started panicking. "You know, I don't think…" She paused as Sean started coming even closer. "All right, stop right there!" she yelped.

"You're saying yes?!" Sean asked hopefully.

Liz vehemently shook her head. "NO!! I am not saying yes."

"Then what are you saying?"

Liz could have screamed in frustration at his denseness at that moment. "Look, Sean, I don't think we should see each other anymore. I have to go now."

She grabbed her purse and cardigan and ran out the restaurant as fast as she could. She hailed a cab and got into it. "Where to, miss?" the cabbie asked.

"Chestnut Hill," Liz replied. She couldn't wait to get back to her dorm and just sleep the rest of the night away. As the cab pulled away, she could still see Sean on his knees staring dumb-foundedly at where she was standing before.

'Another loser down the tube,' Liz thought. In the past few years she had been on numerous dates with numerous guys but all she ever seemed to get were the ones from the bottom of the barrel.

It only took a few minutes for Liz to get back to the Boston College campus and she paid the cabbie when she got out. She was walking toward her dorm when she thought she felt someone staring at her. She looked around the dark campus, trying to see if someone was following her. 'Stop being so paranoid,' she chided herself as she hurried back to her single dorm room.

Liz sighed when she got back to her room. It wasn't decorated at all, just the bare furniture, computer, and books. There seemed to be no personality of the occupant present in the room. Liz sunk into the bed and closed her eyes for a few minutes. Then she changed out of her dress and into her pajamas. She thought back to the proposal and chuckled softly. 'Ugh, imagine marrying him,' she thought. 'Maria, would have such a laugh over this.'

Maria. Liz hadn't talked to her in so long. Of course, thinking of Maria brought Liz's thought to Max. It had been a long time since Liz had allowed herself to think about Max. After he left, she threw herself into school and became valedictorian of the class. She wanted to attend BC because it was far away from Roswell. It was a big jump, in more ways than one. Liz was still trying to get used to the snowstorms that took place for seemed like the long winters. Thank goodness spring was here.

Liz stared at a box that was under her bed. She debated on whether to bring it out or not but finally did. Taking the lid off, there were pictures of her and Max. There were mementos of her time with Max. It had been a long time since she had looked at them. 'Why am I thinking about him all of a sudden?' Liz wondered.

Chapter 8
It was dusk when Liz stepped out of Merkert Hall. The new science building was where Liz spent most of her time at BC. All ready, Liz was the president of the science club and she was rapidly becoming known as a 'genius' in biology. She had just come out an extensive tutoring session and was ready to go back to her dorm before going out and roaming the streets of Boston with a few friends.
Around 9:00 that night, Liz found herself wandering around the campus. Apparently, BC was having a championship basketball game that night. Liz didn't feel like going to it and opted for a walk. After half-an-hour, she was ready to turn in. She was in a far corner of the campus by the main road. Suddenly, she heard a footstep behind her but couldn't see anyone.

Liz's mind started going through all the possibilities of a crazed serial killer on the rampage and she was ready to bolt. But then a voice came out, "Liz."

Liz froze. That voice. It had been one she had not heard in so long but it was a voice she would never be able to forget. It was this voice that had ruined her chance at happiness those years ago. Liz turned around. "Tess."

It was Tess. Only, she was drastically different from the Tess Liz had known. The once designer clothes Tess wore were replaced with dirty rags that seemed to come from the trash. Tess's hair was barely distinguishable as blonde because it was now so matted with dirt and grime. But most shocking of all was a long, ugly scar that ran along the side of Tess face from the forehead to her chin.

"You seem surprised to see me, Liz. What? No hug for an old friend?" Tess sneered. "I know, it must be these clothes. I'm afraid that I've just been simply unable to keep up with Earth fashion during this time."

Liz was still in shock to be actually seeing Tess in front of her. If Tess was back, then did this mean that Max and the others were back also? "What are you doing here, Tess?"

Instantly, the underlying fury that had been on Tess's face exploded. "What am I doing here?! I am here in this hell-hole of a place because of you!"

Liz immediately sensed that she was in trouble. She began to back away slowly while shaking her head. "I have no idea what you are talking about, Tess."

Tess's voice was filled with hatred and malice as she continued. "No, of course not. Little Liz Parker, the perfect human wouldn't. God, you are a pathetic human and you ruined my life! You!"

"Tess, calm down. I didn't do anything."

"Don't pretend you don't know anything! Because of you, Max never loved me. Because of you, he never even accepted me. Because of you, I was never queen. And because of you, I look like this!" Tess angrily gestured to her face.

"But can't you just fix that?" Liz asked in confusion.

"No, I can't just 'fix' it! Or else why would I be walking around with it looking like a freak! You are such an idiot!" Tess spat out.

Liz stiffened but held her tongue. She knew that she wasn't in a position to make Tess angry. "Tess…"

"Shut up! What is so special about you? I would like to know that. Why do you have such a hold over Max? Huh?"

Max. What was Tess talking about? "I don't, Tess. I let go of him the day you all left."

"No," Tess shook her head furiously. "No. You never let go. And he never let go of you. It was always 'Liz' for him. But what will he do now if there is no Liz for him to come back to?"

Liz's eyes widened. "What do you mean, Tess?"

A smirk spread across Tess's marred face. "Come on, Liz. You're not that slow, are you?" She slowly raised her hand. Liz started backing away quickly but was unwilling to take her eyes off what Tess was going to do. "You can try to run, Liz, but it's no use and we both know it."

Liz watched helplessly as Tess gathered her energy. As if in slow motion, Liz could see the bolt coming from Tess's hand toward her. She opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out. As the blast came closer, a shield suddenly appeared.

Liz's head whipped to see the source, all ready knowing in her heart who it was. Max was standing next to her, with a protective shield around the both of them. He didn't look like he had changed at all. But Liz could sense that he was different from the Max she knew. She couldn't place her finger on it, but then again, she had almost been killed right now and wasn't thinking all together too clearly.

"Why am I not surprised?" Tess shot out, glaring with obvious hatred at Max.

"What are you doing, Tess?" Max spoke in a low tone. Liz reveled in that voice. It seemed like a dream to actually hear and seen him there.

"What does it look like? I'm trying to kill Liz," Tess explained calmly.

"I'm not going to let you do that. You will not hurt her," Max's voice rang with authority, something he had developed while he was on Antar.

"Hurt her? I'm sure you've done that once or twice yourself, Max."

Max's face blanched slightly as he knew that Tess's words were true. Liz decided it was time for her to speak again. "Tess, can't you just forget about what's happened? It's not too late. You can start over."

"Start over?" Tess asked incredulously. "My chance to start over was when we went back to Antar and you ruined that!"

"Tess…" Max began before Tess interrupted.

"Let me guess, Liz is right. I can start over…blah, blah, blah."

"No, I was going to say that I want you gone. I gave you a chance before and you ruined it for yourself."

"What are you gonna do, Maxie? Kill me?"

"If I have to." Liz looked at Max, surprised at what he was actually saying. However, Tess didn't seem worried.

"Sure, Max. But we both know that you don't have the guts to. You don't have it in you," Tess taunted. She began to walk around and stepped into the road. Liz heard something in the background, coming toward them.

Tess continued. "Max, we could have ruled with absolute power. But no, you wouldn't. What was wrong with you? You were a king and you acted like a boy!"

Liz saw what was coming and said, "Tess…"

"Shut up, bitch!"

"Don't you ever call her that!" Max shouted.

"Look at the way you jump to her defense! You would never do that for me! Never!"

Liz began again, "Tess!" A tractor trailer came barreling down toward Tess. Like a deer trapped in the headlights, Tess just stood there. Liz attempted to run toward her to save her, but Max held her back. Just before the truck hit her, Tess looked back at them.

"Oh my God! Oh my God!" Liz panicked. The truck stopped for a moment, before revving up and leaving. Liz ran to the body and gasped. "Max, you have to do something!"

Max looked at Liz and didn't move. "Max?" Liz whispered.

"I – I can't, Liz. You don't understand," Max pleaded.

"Please, Max. Do something," Liz begged. It didn't matter that this was Tess, someone who had just tried to kill her. It didn't matter that this was an alien. It just mattered that she was a person who needed help.

Max saw the pleading and begging in her eyes and he knew that she wouldn't be able to live with the guilt if he didn't do anything. Reluctantly, he kneeled beside Tess's body and placed his hand over her chest. He concentrated and tried to fix the damage. Beads of sweat appeared on his face.

After five minutes, Max collapsed into a heap. "Max?" Liz ventured.

With a hopeless look in his eyes, despair was heard in his voice. "I can't do it, Liz. She's dead."

Part 9
Liz was numb as she watched Max destroy Tess’s body. Part of her was relieved to know that Tess was gone for good. But this all seemed so surreal to her – like it was a dream. Truth was, Liz did have many dreams of Max returning to her. But then one day, she just gave them up and moved on. With Max in front of her now, things were complicated. But then again, matters concerning Max in any way were always complicated.

Without a word, Liz led Max to her dorm room and he followed without a question. Not until did they reach Liz’s dorm room and locked the door did they really look at each for the first time in years.

“Liz.” Max had longed to say her name to her for so long. His heart ached when there was no flicker of emotion on her face. “Liz?”

Her eyes turned to him and she asked, “Why did you come back?”

Forget about his heart aching, Max’s heart was almost literally breaking with that question. Still, he was determined to talk to her and, hopefully, win her back somehow. “I came back for you.” These words were so reminiscent of the words he had spoken to her that day at the Crashdown after she had come back from Florida. Liz’s heart had leaped at those words and it jumped at these words. However, it quickly settled back down.

“I’m honored that you did, Max, but I don’t know,” Liz began. She searched for the words. “Too much time has passed. I’m a different person than the Liz you fell in love with and you’re different too.”

“You’re right – too much has passed. Too many day and nights have gone by where you weren’t with me. Where we both needed each other and we weren’t there for one another. But, Liz, believe me, I want to make that up to you. I don’t want to let you go.”

“You haven’t had me for a long time, Max,” Liz replied softly. “But tell me everything that’s happened.”

Max hesitated. “Are you sure you want to know?”

Liz thought about that question. Did she really want to be dragged back into this whole alien conspiracy thing again? But then she realized that it was her own decision to become involved with Max and the others back in high school. She nodded.

“What do you want to know, Liz?”

“I want you to start at the beginning. Tell me everything, Max.”

Max then went on and told Liz all the events that had occurred with him as king. He confessed to Liz all the insecurities he had felt when making his decisions and how he couldn’t show it. He described the fear he had experienced his first time in battle and the pain afterwards knowing that he had killed so many lives.

“How did you ever survive?” Liz asked in wonder at the events that Max had to endure. She wasn’t really expecting an answer but Max surprised her.

“It was you.”

Liz laughed nervously. “Me?”

Max dug into a bag he had and pulled out a small notebook. “Every night before I went to sleep, I would read this. Every time before I went into battle, I would look at this. Your words gave me strength, Liz.”

Liz took her old journal incredulously. “You kept this?”

“Of course,” Max answered. “It was my only way to stay connected with you.”

“Max…” Liz began, trying to warn him of where their conversation was leading to again.

“I know,” Max said with a touch of sadness. “I know.”

Silence filled the room before Liz hesitantly asked, “So how did you defeat Kivar? What happened with Tess?”

“Tess,” Max began. The name on his tongue brought back a feeling of bitterness that he couldn’t disguise. “I was such a fool, Liz. Such an idiot.”

“What happened?”

Raising his eyes to look into Liz’s, Max started. “Because I knew everything that you done for me, because I never let gave up on you – Tess … left. We had been there for a few months with the fighting and the war and carnage…” Max closed his eyes as images of horrific events flashed through his eyes. When Max’s eyes opened again, Liz could see they were haunted.

“And during that time, Liz, Tess just kept throwing herself at me and I kept telling her that it wasn’t possible for her and me to be together. But she just wouldn’t, or couldn’t, accept this. Finally, I don’t know, she just stopped. I thought that maybe she had accepted that I didn’t love her and that we could just be friends. Then, she left and joined Kivar. She told him everything she found out about our defense system and our strategies.

“This was a devastating blow to us. We fought for months at a time and Michael and I were out there everyday, doing things to people that I never thought I could do! I … I destroyed lives, Liz. I killed so many people without a single thought about their families! All because of Tess. We had been so close to peace before she left!”

Max continued on, finally finding a release to his pent up emotions that he had been unable to share before. “Because of Tess, we went on fighting for years! We changed our strategies, we adapted and slowly we fought our way back and soon Kivar was on the run. We chased after him and Tess and we cornered them. The two of them alone with just me. Michael and the rest of the forces were too busy with Kivar’s last stringent of forces to help me.

“The two of them attacked me relentlessly. I fought back as best I could but they were so strong. I thought I was going to die there, alone. And I thought of you, Liz.” Max then went to where Liz was sitting and sat on the floor at her feet so he looked up at her.

“I thought about you telling me that you loved me when I left. And I thought about all the strength you had when Future Max came to you. And I drew the power and strength from you, Liz. It all happened so fast that I’m not quite sure what happened. All I know is that there was a blast and rocks came flying down and there was pure pandemonium. When everything died down, the last of Kivar’s men were defeated. We had to dig to look for Kivar and Tess. We found Kivar’s body but never Tess’s. But there was so much destruction we didn’t think there was really any chance of her surviving. I guess we were wrong.

“After Kivar’s death, it took time for us to get Antar back on track. There were so many things we had to do – rebuild whole cities, start aids, schools, hospitals. The planet was in shambles. Michael, Isabel, and I came back as soon as we could though. That was always our thought.”

Liz let all Max’s information digest through her. She looked at Max and knew that she loved him. She knew she hadn’t stopped and she didn’t doubt his love for her – she could feel it radiating off in waves from him. Gently, hesitating, she put her hands on his head and ran her fingers through his hair. The smile and hope that shone in his eyes when she did this sent chills down her spine.

“But how did Tess get here? What about that scar she has?” Liz couldn’t help but wonder.

Max furrowed his brow and thought quietly for a minute. “Now that we’re talking about this, I do remember a few months ago before I left, there had been a report of an authorized launch into space but we just dismissed it. That must have been Tess. As for the scars – even though our bodies are different on Antar, the wounds we receive transfer onto our human bodies.”

Something in Max’s voice caught Liz’s attention. She asked softly, “And how do you know that, Max?”

A sad smile flitted through Max’s face. “I know.”

“Max?”

“You don’t want to see it, Liz,” Max said desperately. He couldn’t let her see him like this. He knew that it would just cause her pain to see the reminders of war on him.

“Yes, I do,” Liz insisted gently. She had to see this – she wanted to have some kind of grasp of how Max’s life was. There was nothing about Max that would be ugly in her eyes.

Max somehow felt her need to see it so he took off his shirt and turned his back to her. Liz gasped at first to see Max’s well-defined chest and abs but then when she saw his back, tears sprang to her eyes. Massive scars of cuts and abrasions littered his back. Liz dropped to the floor next to him and gently ran her fingers up and down the scars.

“Oh, Max.”

Max’s head dipped and his voice was low. “I know – they’re hideous.”

“No!” Liz quickly protested. “Nothing about you could ever be hideous. It just looks so … painful. Why do you keep them? Can’t you heal yourself?”

“I could,” Max replied. “And I probably will someday but for now, I keep them as a reminder that I have done something ten times worse than this to thousands of other people and that I shouldn't rid myself of all the pain just because I have the ability.”

Liz’s heart swelled with his words. Trying to steer the conversation away from wars and death, she knew that it was time to discuss them. “So, how much did you miss me?” she asked, trying to keep her voice light.

Max turned and faced her. Their faces were level and he looked into her eyes – as if looking into her very soul and core. “I missed you with every fiber in my body. I missed having my heart, my soul, my being because without you – I didn’t have those things. Liz Parker, I missed you.”

Liz was taken away with those words. “Good answer,” she breathed.

“What about me?” Max asked, half-afraid of what the answer might be.

“I tried to move on – to forget. I even left Roswell for here in hopes that by increasing the distance from the memories, they would fade. And I made a new life for myself. But, Max, there wasn’t a day that I didn’t think of you consciously and unconsciously. You were always a part of me even if you weren’t with me.”

Max’s smile grew at her words and when she finished, he swooped in for a kiss. Years apart made them savor each moment. “I love you” was whispered into each other’s heads as a connection formed between them. Slowly they moved onto the bed and that night, they made love over and over as two soulmates should.

~*~Epilogue~*~
“Are you ready, Lizzie?” Maria asked her best friend.

“You know I’ve been ready for a long time, Maria,” Liz answered with a sure smile.

“Ok, just let me help you put this on,” Isabel said as she placed Liz’s veil on her head. Isabel attached it securely and all three girls looked into the mirror and smiled broadly.

“You look so beautiful,” Maria cried and all three women almost lost it there.

“Stop it!” Isabel commanded as a tear slid down her cheek. “Look, you’re making our make-up run.” She quickly waved her hand over their faces and they were restored to looking beautiful and glowing. It was Liz’s wedding day and they were back in Roswell about to perform the ceremony.

“Okay, let’s do this!” Liz shouted enthusiastically. It had been six months since Max’s return to her and she was eager to become his wife. Maria and Isabel whooped along with her and the ceremony was soon on its way.

The wedding was to be held outside and Max stood at the end of the aisle, waiting for his beautiful Liz to come. Both Alex and Michael were his best men, just like both Isabel and Maria were Liz’s maids of honor. “Aren’t you nervous?” Alex asked. It amazed him to see how calm Max looked.

Max thought about it for a second and answered with a smile, “No. There’s nothing to be nervous about. I’m going to be with my wife from this day on and I plan on feeling joy and bliss, not nerves, on this day.”

Before Max knew it, Liz was walking down the aisle holding onto her father’s arm. She looked marvelous – serene and glowing. The love in her eyes was reflected in Max’s and the world disappeared as Liz got closer and closer. When she finally reached Max’s side, they both knew of the happiness they were going to share forever.

~*~And the story goes…~*~
All the couples did marry and they all had children. Their children brought them a completeness that added onto the utter joy they already had. Love was never an emotion that they lacked in their households. Never was it questioned because they knew that love was something that was so imbedded within them, it could never be broken.

The End

I really shudder when I see the last paragraph. So cheesy...hehe...it's been so long since I've even looked at these fics.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 18-Dec-2002 3:16:58 AM ]
posted on 16-Dec-2002 4:09:58 PM
UNCOMPLETED AND MOST LIKELY WILL STAY UNCOMPLETED
Title: Ground Zero: Roswell
Author: Denise and Lisa
Category: A little of everyone, but mostly Max and Liz. We can't help it, we are totally helpless Dreamers!!
Summary: The orbs start giving a little trouble for our human friends.
Feedback: Yes please! It's Denise's first fic and my first attempt at a collaboration. If you guys like it, Denise and I might do some more stories together.
Disclaimer: We own nothing. The characters of Roswell don't belong to us, neither do the materials of any spoofs that we may mention.
They gathered in the cave. "They" meaning Max, Liz, Maria, Michael, Isabel, Alex, and Tess. The cave that they were at was the same cave where the aliens learned of their destiny. They were eager to start what they came to do, but they were still waiting for Kyle and Sheriff Velenti. It was a waiting game. And a very boring game.

Maria and Michael were busy trying to ignore each other, but it didn't work. They still kept giving each other looks out of the corners of their eyes, thinking that no one noticed. When the truth was everyone noticed what they were doing except for the two of them. Max and Liz were trying to keep a mundane conversation, asking about the weather and other meaningless bull. Even though they were talking about the weather, Liz had something else on her mind. And that was Max.

Alex was talking to Isabel and Tess about the new spoof song the band was working on called, "Never had my Dream come True Til I met my Alien." Their conversation died too, leaving the group of seven in quietness.

"They should be here any minute," Tess said, interrupting the silence. With that Kyle and his father, Sheriff Valenti walked into the cave.

"So, what's so important that you called this meeting?" Kyle asked.

"This is," Max said, taking the orb out of his book bag.

"Cool remote, man," Alex said.

"Shut up!" Michael quipped.

"Don't tell him to shut up Mi-" Maria was interrupted when the orb staring glowing with a red color.

"Okay, now what the hell was that?" Maria asked, panicking.

"Does it always do that?" Kyle asked.

"No, it just started to yesterday. That's why I called this meeting. We need to find a place to keep this safe from harm, and stop it from getting into the wrong hands," Max said.

"Did anyone else see this glow?" Sheriff Valenti questioned.

"Nope. Just Michael, Isabel, and Tess. And now the rest of us in the cave," Max added.

"What about your house, Isabel and Max?" Liz asked.

"No, it's the first place people will look," Max answered.

"Okay, well my office is definitely out of the question, with the FBI out here looking for me to screw up," Valenti said.

"How about your apartment, Michael?" Alex asked.

"Yuck! No way. He can't keep that thing clean when he's not hiding some alien communicator walkie-talkie. He won't know where he hid it," Maria remarked.

"Well, if he doesn't, then we can probably bet no one else would know either. Problem solved. Michael, you take this and keep it in your apartment," Max said, while giving the still red orb to Michael.

"Sure thing," Michael said.

"You think you'll get free cable with that thing?" Alex asked. With this remark, they all laughed and Michael elbowed Alex's ribs. "I guess that's my clue to shut up, huh?"

"Take it as a yes." Liz replied. With that they all left the cave and returned to their homes.

The next day Maria and Liz were both working at the Crashdown. Alex was sitting at the counter trying to tell them his latest story about the band. Liz started chuckling but noticed that Maria wasn't. "Are you all right, Maria?"

Maria didn't answer for a second. Then she shook her head, trying to get the cobwebs out. "What? Oh yeah, I'm fine. I think I'm coming down with a cold or something. I should go and take some natural herbs," just to prove her point, Maria started to sneeze.

Alex looked at her and then down at his plate of fries. "Well, there goes my appetite."

"Oh, come on, Alex. It's not like I sneezed on your plate," Maria said, but it was hard to hear her because she sounded so stuffed.

"I'm sorry Darth Vader, what did you say again?" Alex cracked before Liz smacked him in the arm. "Oww! What did you do that for?"

"It's not nice to make fun of Maria when she's sick," Liz informed him. She then turned to Maria and said, "Why don't you rest a little. I'll cover for you."

"Thanks, chica. I appreciate it," Maria wheezed back.

Liz started then checking all the tables now that Maria was temporarily out of commission. As people started coming in for the dinner rush, Liz found herself running back and forth from the kitchen to the diners. Then Mr. Parker came and noticed that she was the only waitress working.

"Umm…honey, why are you the only one working? Where's Maria?" he asked.

Liz was too busy to answer her dad so she just kind of shook her head in Maria's general direction before running to receive another order. Mr. Parker looked over at the counter and noticed that both Maria and Alex had their heads laid on the counter.

He sighed and looked up at the sky as if to say, 'what did they do now?' He walked over to the two and leaned over. "Guys?"

Maria's head slowly rose and she tried to focus her eyes. "Oh, Mr. Parker, hi. Umm…I know I should be kind of working right now but I'm not feeling…"

"Okay, Maria. I understand. Why don't you go home and get some rest? How about you, Alex?"

Alex tried to lift his head but found it too heavy. "No, Mr. Parker, I'm not supposed to work tonight."

"Alex, you don't work for me at all."

Alex tried to remember his point but couldn't really think. "Well then, that's good. I needed a vacation anyway."

Jeff Parker's face showed concern for his daughter's friend. "Okay, Alex, I think I should call your parents and ask them to pick you up. I don't want you driving home. I'll call your mom too, Maria."

Maria started to whine, "But I didn't do anything."

Jeff took another look at them and said, "I'm gonna go call them now."

Part 2
The next morning was a typical morning at Liz's house. She was running five minutes late when she heard the telephone ring. 'I'm coming! Just hold on a minute.' Liz was silently thinking. She lunged for the phone when it was on its' fifth ring.
"Liz?" someone asked.

"Maria? Is that you?" Liz questioned. Before Maria could say anything a sneeze came over the phone.

"I guess it is you then." Liz said.

"Yeah, I just wanted to tell you that I won't be in school today. And before you say anything, NO I am not skipping. I'm too sick to do anything remotely fun. I have a fever of 102.3, I'm sneezing snot galore and throwing up every ten minutes, and I feel like a rat is running around inside my brain. Can you tell my idiot boyfriend that I tried calling him before to tell him, but no one answered the phone." Maria replied.

"Sure. Are you suppose to be working at the Crashdown tonight?" Liz asked.

"Damn it! I am. I feel crummy about leaving you in the bind for last night and now today," Maria said.

"Don't worry about it. I'll get Alex to do it," Liz said.

"Hate to tell you this, Liz, but remember he wasn't feeling that great yesterday either? I wouldn't be surprised if he was home swallowing DayQuil by the gross," Maria replied.

"That's right. Don't worry about a thing. I'll find someone to cover for you and I'll tell Michael off for you as well," Liz said.

"Thanks, Liz. You're the greatest. Maybe you can get the Blonde Alien Queen to work," Maria replied. (Meaning Tess)

"No thanks, I'll rather do all the tables myself." Liz retorted.

"I see what you mean. Well, I better go the toilet is calling my name," Maria said.

"Bye. Get better!" Liz said Then she hung up the phone. Okay, now Maria was out of commission and maybe Alex as well, which means she'll have to deal with Max all by herself. Along with the other three aliens. Yep, just another day in Roswell.

"Do you think you can work at the Crashdown tonight?" Liz asked Max later in school.

"Why?" Max asked.

"Well, Maria is home sick with a bug and she was suppose to work tonight and I really need the help," Liz said.

'Sure, anything for... a friend." Max said. Before Liz could possibly think of anything else to say both Isabel and Michael walked up to them.

"So where's your other half Isabel?" Liz jokingly asked.

"Alex is home sick. He called me this morning to tell me he wasn't coming to school," Isabel said.

"Oh, I guess Maria was right then," Liz said.

"You know with both Alex and Maria out with some sort of bug when it isn't even flu season if I didn't know better I would think that something is going on between the two of them," Max joked. He could see that the joke was working by the chin drops made by Michael and Isabel.

'''Max, stop it. You're scaring the lovebirds," Liz giggled.

"Woo, Maria and I aren't love birds. So get you story straight." Michael retorted.

"Oh, by the way, Michael, Maria wanted me to ask why you didn't pick up the phone this morning. She was trying to call you to tell you that she wouldn't be in today. What were you doing?" Liz asked. She turned to see Max and Isabel laughing

"What?" Liz asked.

"Well, I lost the orbs and kind of was looking all over my house for them this morning. Good news is I found them." Michael replied.

"And you wonder why Maria turned to Alex?" Max said laughing.

"Listen, just between they both are sick doesn't mean they... that the... they... you what I am saying," Isabel said.

"Well, I sure hope your right. Because then Kyle and the sheriff was doing the same thing along with them," A voice said. Michael, Max, Liz and Isabel all turned to see Tess standing there.

"What are you talking about?" Michael asked.

"Kyle and his dad are sick too. I heard you guys talking about how Alex and Maria are sick," Tess said.

"Hey, I hate to be the pessimist here but does anyone else see anything strange here about four of our closest human friends are sick with the flu when it's not even flu season?" Liz questioned. Her question will go unanswered for mow because before anyone could say anything, they heard the bell ring for homeroom.

Hmm...I know there's a little more but I don't have it. It might be at home on my old comp but I'll check.
posted on 16-Dec-2002 4:12:24 PM
deleted

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 5-Feb-2003 1:13:11 AM ]
posted on 16-Dec-2002 4:14:31 PM
deleted

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 5-Feb-2003 1:13:35 AM ]