FanFic - Crashdown After Hours
"Growing Pains"
Part 13
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.
Maria fidgeted nervously in her seat as she waited for Liz to be escorted into the waiting room. For the sixth time in the space of ten minutes she asked herself if her decision to come here had been the right one. Sure her reasons were noble as hell, but what exactly was she going to say to Liz, “You need to get your act together or I’m going to bone your husband?” Maria supposed she should just be honest. After all the point of her coming here was merely to convince Liz to reconcile with Max. However, she did that it didn’t matter as long as it was done.

Maria wondered how it would be seeing Liz again after so much time. Eight months, Maria thought, my god, where had the time gone? How could so much have changed in their lives in such a short amount of time?, Maria wondered.

Impatiently, she drummed her fingernails against the wooden table while she watched the waiting room door with the intensely of a stalking animal. She had a number of reasons to be nervous, however, what was really causing her palms to sweat was the prospect of seeing Liz again. Maria hadn’t seen her in almost three months, not since her suicide attempt. It was hard for Maria to think about that day. She could still remember how warm Liz’s blood was as it seeped against her fingers. Maria shuddered with the memory. She realized, with a sense of disappointment, that she was not as strong a woman as she had previously believed herself. There was something inside of her that couldn’t bear the idea of seeing her best friend in a mental institution. Even now the reality of where she was, where Liz was made her feel dizzy.

And then, of course, there was the guilt factor. Only the night before Maria had been kissing Liz’s husband and enjoying it. In light of what she’d come here to say to Liz, Maria knew she would have to put her personal feelings about Max aside in order to accomplish what she intended. It would be hard to look Liz in the eye, feeling the way she felt about Max. She worried if her emotions would be plain on her face. Maria fervently hoped not. Because, in spite of the fact that Maria had driven 3 ½ hours outside of New York to convince Liz to fight for her marriage, she was dying inside to have to do it. Considering those things, it was going to be hell facing Liz and Maria hadn’t even begun to address her situation with Max.

Max. He had called her first thing that morning. She had recognized his number immediately on the caller I.D. and that was the reason why she didn’t pick up. But she had wanted to. She had really, really wanted to. She doubted that he’d gotten any sleep for worrying over what had happened between them. Maria knew she hadn’t. He was probably anxious to fix things and put the matter behind them. But Maria knew better. It wasn’t as simple as saying they were sorry it happened and moving on. Maria now knew that she had to put distance between her and Max. Distance was the only thing that would solve the dilemma they were in.

Which was why that morning before she left Maria had made arrangements with her agent to do a two-week publicity run in Hawaii. She had called her mother afterwards and had no trouble convincing Amy DeLuca to take her granddaughters for the next two weeks. The thought of leaving her kids for so long pained Maria, especially Adrienne because she was so young, only a week old, but Maria didn’t see that she had a choice. Now all that was left for her to do was to convince Liz to go back to Max.

Maria was jerked out of her thought when the mechanical waiting room door slowly swung open. Liz Parker glided through purposely, her facial expression blank and remote. It changed, however, when she found Maria sitting outside and not Max as she had expected. And she instantly panicked. “What’s the matter!” she cried as she rushed over to the table and gripped the edge so hard her knuckles turned white, “Did something happen to Max? To Claudia?”

It took a moment for her wild questions to penetrate Maria’s brain; she was too busy taking in the changes in Liz. “You cut your hair,” she breathed in awe, “I like it. It’s kind of funky.”

Liz ignored her comment. “Maria, what’s going on?”

“What? Oh, Max? He’s fine and so is Claudia so you can stop mad cowing.”

An audible sigh of relief leaked from Liz’s chest and she sank down into the chair opposite Maria. “Thank you, God!” she uttered in a thankful breath.

Maria regarded her with a degree of amusement. “For someone who was threatening divorce not a month ago you sure seem awfully concerned about Max.”

Because Maria’s teasing observation made her uncomfortable Liz took refuge in anger. “Just because I want a divorce doesn’t mean I want him dead, Maria. What are you doing here anyway?”

“If I didn’t know better I’d think you weren’t happy to see me, Liz.”

“You haven’t bothered to come before now, so what’s the grand occasion?” Liz snapped.

“Well, maybe if you gave people the impression that you would actually welcome your visitors maybe you’d have a few more,” Maria pointed out sarcastically.

“It could be I just wanted to be left alone,” Liz retorted.

“Well then you shouldn’t act like such a bitch when you get what you ask for!” They glared at each other in hostile silence. Finally, Maria sighed, her faced loosing its angry edge. “I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have snapped at you.”

“No, I’m sorry….just being inside this place is really starting to get to me.”

“I hate seeing you here, Liz,” Maria admitted tightly.

“And I hate being here.”

The sadness and dejection in her words made Maria’s heart hurt. She reached across the table and gave Liz’s hand a gentle squeeze. “Then why are you still here?”

“I don’t have any place else to go,” Liz whispered hoarsely.

“You can go home….to Max.”

“That’s not an option,” Liz said, averting her gaze.

“Why?” Maria persisted, “It’s obvious you still love him, Liz.” Liz could only nod her agreement. “He needs you.”

“I can’t.”

“Why the hell not?” Maria asked again.

Liz looked at her as if she had just asked the most stupid question in the world. “Where have you been the last eight months, Maria? I’ve put Max through hell. I just can’t waltz back into his life like nothing happened. He deserves better than some flake of a wife who tried to kill herself and ended up in the nuthouse.”

“Oh my god,” Maria breathed, finally beginning to understand what had been motivating Liz for the last few months, “That’s why you asked him for a divorce. You don’t think you deserve him.”

“I don’t.”

“Liz, you’ve been deliberately driving him away!”

“I’ve been pushing him towards happiness,” Liz countered, “God knows he’s not going to find that with me.”

“You idiot! You’re his life!” Maria couldn’t believe it. All the hateful things Liz had said and done had been because she loved him, because she thought he deserved better than her. All this time when both she and Max had been thinking that Max hadn’t crossed Liz’s mind the entire time they’d been apart, here it was that Max had been all Liz had thought about. Max and his happiness. And she thought she wasn’t good enough?

“Liz, you have to go home,” Maria told her again.

“Maria, no. You didn’t see his face the first time he came here to see me. He was devastated, Maria. I could see just by the way he was looking at me that I had destroyed him. I can’t hurt him like that again.”

“Liz,” Maria began carefully, “you’re hurting him now.” When her words didn’t seem to penetrate Maria threw up her hands in disgust and leaned back in her chair.

Suddenly, Liz squealed and clapped her hands on her cheeks, exclaiming, “Maria, you’re not pregnant anymore!”

Maria flashed her a wry grin. “Gee, Liz, it only took you a whole ten minutes to notice.”

Liz ignored her sarcasm and asked excitedly. “Boy or girl?”

A sappy expression overtook Maria’s face. “Girl. Her name is Adrienne and she’s just the most adorable little thing. She’s got this curly blond hair and these wide blue eyes….thank God she doesn’t look like Michael.”

“I take it he still hasn’t come home?”

Maria gave Liz a surprised look. She didn’t expect for Liz to be aware of the Michael situation since he’d taken off during Liz’s non-lucid period. “I guess you weren’t as out of it as you let everyone believe,” Maria guessed quietly.

Liz lowered her eyes. “No, I wasn’t.”

Maria wanted to question Liz more about that admission, but because Liz looked uneasy she didn’t push the conversation. Instead she said, “Now that I know the reason you’ve been hanging out here all these months, I can’t leave until you agree to come home with me.”

“Maria, don’t-,”

“Liz, come on, this has gone on long enough.”

“I can’t…face Max,” Liz whispered disjointedly, “He must hate me.”

“No. But he’s angry, Liz, and he’s really, really confused,” Maria said, stressing “really.”

It was obvious that causing Max pain didn’t bring Liz any joy. She looked absolutely miserable at Maria’s admission. “And Claudia? Is she angry, too?”

“She’s four, Liz. She misses her mom, that’s all she knows.”

Liz bent her head, causing her teardrops to plop into her lap. “I’ve screwed up so bad, Maria….”

“Come home and make it right, then.”

“Easier said than done,” Liz mumbled.

“God, Liz, when did you become such a coward?” Maria uttered.

Liz snapped her head up at Maria’s disgusted inquiry. “What?”

“Girl, I remember how strong you were after you got pregnant with Claudia and Max left you. Any other woman would have curled up into a ball and died, but you just picked up the pieces of your life and kept going. What happened to you, Liz?”

Liz could only shake her head as the tears rolled silently down her face. “I lost my baby, Maria.”

“So did Max.”

“I don’t always make the right decisions, okay! I’m sorry,” Liz cried angrily, swiping at the tears on her cheeks, “I’m not perfect, dammit!”

Maria got up from her chair and wrapped her arms around her friend. “Babe,” she whispered as she stroked her hair, “no one ever expected you to be.”

Part 12 | Index | Part 14
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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