FanFic - Crashdown After Hours
"Growing Pains"
Part 21
by Dee
Disclaimer: I don't own Roswell, I know it and you know it so why don't I save the mantra?
Summary: This is a sequel to my story Growing Up...
Category: After Hours
Rating: NC-17
Authors Note: Feedback: Is necessary for my existence.
Max collapsed in exhaustion on the sofa next to Maria. She was slumped over the armrest half-asleep but she roused when she felt Max plop down beside her. “Is she asleep?” she asked Max in a thready whisper.

“Yes, finally,” Max sighed, “but don’t breathe too loud or shift or anything because the slightest movement can change that blessed fact.”

Both Maria and Max both watched the playpen where her sleeping daughter lay with baited breath. The apartment was finally, thankfully quiet. Although the girls had been put to bed long before Adrienne had remained stubbornly awake. Maria and the baby had been home from the hospital for only a week and Adrienne hadn’t stopped crying in all that time. For someone so small Maria was surprised at just how much air her little daughter could work into her lungs.

Maria lay back against the cushions of the sofa gingerly and heaved a humongous sigh. “I do not remember Mickey ever being this rowdy. Or Claudia either for that matter.”

“She might have colic,” Max suggested as he leaned forward, rubbing his eyes in exhaustion.

“Oh, is that what they’re calling it now when babies never fall asleep?” Maria commented dryly.

“I can stay the night if you want,” Max said, leaning back against the sofa and turning his head towards her, “you know, to help out. Cause it seems like she’s gonna be a real handful.”

Maria opened one weary eye. “Would you?” she sighed in exhausted gratitude.

“I’ll just make up the sofa,” Max said with an exaggerated roll of his eyes.

Maria honored him with a wide, gracious smile. “You are a doll,” she said and before thinking about it she wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a sound kiss on the mouth. The shock of it stilled them both and for a moment they only sat together, surprised. And then as if by some silent mutual understanding their mouths met again, softer this time, more deliberate.

Max’s hand slid up to cup her cheek as he angled his head to deepen the kiss. Perhaps it was that small gesture or maybe the tentative touch of his tongue that jerked Maria back to reality. She ripped out of his arms suddenly, staring at him with a horrified expression. “What the hell was that!”

Her violent reaction brought Max back to reality as well. “I know, I know….I’m sorry,” he stammered, “I don’t know what I was thinking….what came over me…”

Maria leapt off the sofa and began pacing the room like a caged animal. “We agreed at the hospital…just friends! Remember!”

Max rubbed his hand over the lower half of his face in agitation. “You kissed me!” he pointed out irately.

“That’s right! I did! And it was wrong! Wrong! WRONG!” She stopped pacing long enough to stab him with a desperate look. “You have to go home, Max!”

“Maria, it’s eleven o’clock at night! Claudia’s asleep for crying out loud!”

“You can leave her here, then!” she shot out wildly, gesturing her arms in wide, fluid motions, “but you, you, you have to leave! Now! Now, leave!”

Max didn’t bother to argue with her especially when he knew she was upset and in no frame of mind for rational talk. Reluctantly, he scooped up his jacket and headed for the door. “I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?” he told her before stepping through the door into the night.

When he was gone Maria’s knees gave out from beneath her and she sat in the middle of the floor, her chest heaving with panicked, guilty fear. What on earth had she just done? Why on earth had she done it? After all they had talked about, after everything she and Max had agreed on at the hospital… She felt like such an idiot. But then she’d known better, hadn’t she? Alex had told her to back off. He and Isabel had seen where things were going long in advance. But oh no, Maria was so smart and Maria was so in control, she knew what she was doing.

Had she really thought that she could keep tempting fate and not end up paying a heavy price? It had started with a kiss, but Maria knew if she didn’t put a stop to things now it would escalate to much more. She couldn’t afford to sit there and lie to herself, not when she knew that Max and Liz’s marriage was at stake. Oh yes, she could brush off the kiss, let Max have his little speech about what a mistake it had been and how it would never happen again, and, oh yes, how they could just go on and pretend it had never happened.

And that would work for a few weeks. Both she and Max would convince themselves that whatever happened was over and then they would go back to things as usual. But after awhile it would happen again and they would go through the routine again and again and again until they began making excuses for themselves. And in the end they wouldn’t just hurt themselves, but most of all they would hurt Liz.

The feelings that Maria had for Max were strong, but not strong enough to destroy a friendship that she had been building since the third grade. Alex had been right when he said that Maria knew better. No matter what excuse Maria gave herself where Liz was concerned Maria knew that she didn’t deserve betrayal. Maria wasn’t so naïve as to believe that she and Max shared some great, undeniable love. She knew that any price they paid to be together would not be worth the heartache they would cause to those who trusted them. And though, it had killed Maria to send him away, because part of her had really wanted him to stay, she had known that it was the best thing. Because Max didn’t belong with her. He belonged with Liz. He always had.

Beyond that Maria knew that, deep down, Max didn’t really want to be with her. Sure he had feelings for her and yes there was attraction, but all that sprung from Liz’s constant rejection of him. Max Evans would have never looked twice at Maria had it not been for that fact. Although, Max probably didn’t realize it Maria was aware that he was probably confusing his gratitude towards her with feelings of love. She had been there for him at a very emotional time in his life, a time when his wife had emotionally shut down on him. But he didn’t love her, not really. However, the difference for Maria was that she did. She loved Max. And because she did she knew it was up to her to do what was best for him.

Perceiving that, Maria knew she couldn’t allow things to go on between her and Max as they had been. And so she made her decision. Tomorrow she was taking a trip to the Cedar Ridge Mental Facility in Pennsylvania. She was going to see an old friend and, hopefully, talk some much needed sense into her.

Part 20 | Index | Part 13
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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