FanFic - Crashdown After Hours
"Growing Pains"
Part 14
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 clicked on the light in her living room then stifled a scream of terror to find Max sitting on her sofa. She collapsed back against the door, clutching her chest. “What the hell are you trying to do” she demanded irately, “give me a friggin heart attack?”

“Sorry,” Max said, but he didn’t look at all apologetic.

Perceiving his lack of contrition, Maria demanded impatiently, “What are you doing here?”

“We have things to discuss,” Max replied as he came to his feet, “I’ve been trying to call you all day. Where have you been?”

“I had an errand to run,” she said evasively. Maria had decided on the drive home that it was best not to mention to Max that she had driven to Pennsylvania to see Liz. It was something private between her and Liz and she wanted it to stay that way. “Where’s Lydia and the kids?” she asked when she suddenly realized the living room was empty.

“I sent Lydia home. Adrienne’s asleep and Mickey and Claudia are upstairs watching The Lion King….for the fourth time, so I figure we’ve got a good hour.”

Maria lifted her brows at the tone in his voice. “An hour to do what exactly?”

“Talk…,” Max said softly, “….about last night.”


“Wait,” he interrupted, holding up his hand for her to keep silent, “it should not have happened. Maria, your friendship means a great deal to me and the last thing I want to do is wreck it.”

“I’m glad you said that, because I’ve been doing some thinking.”

The way she said that made Max feel uneasy and that feeling was heightened when she followed that statement with, “Maybe you should sit down.”

Max settled back against the sofa, trying not to portray the anxiety he felt. All day long while he’d been a work he’d been unable to think about anything else but last night’s kiss. And it filled him with guilt. After he had left Maria he had gone back to his empty apartment. Upstairs in his bedroom as he had pulled on his pajamas he had caught of a picture he, Liz and Claudia had taken almost two years earlier. They were smiling brightly, their eyes sparkling with love, their daughter a miniature of them both. Max had sat on the edge of his bed, traced the lines of Liz’s face with his fingertip. And for the first time in months, he cried.

He hadn’t expected to feel so guilty or so crushed and the pain of it caught him off guard. It was like acknowledging for the first time in months that his marriage had really fallen apart. And in that realization Max finally understood that he had lost the most precious and wonderful thing that had ever happened to him. It made him feel lost and desolate and alone. He realized on some level that he had used Maria as a distraction so he wouldn’t feel that loneliness or desolation.

Maria. She and her family had been lifesaving angels to him and his daughter. Maria and her girls had breathed life back into them again, had made them a family again. And Max didn’t want to lose that. He didn’t want to go back to being desolate and alone. His marriage was over, that much he knew, but did he have to lose everything? Romantic interest aside, he needed Maria’s friendship. And that was why he had been so desperate to contact her because he didn’t want to lose that friendship. He couldn’t afford to.

“So,” he began somewhat reluctantly, “what having you been thinking?”

Maria curled up in the recliner across from him, pulling her feet beneath her. “Well, as you know, things between us have been getting somewhat complicated…” She waited for Max’s nod of agreement before continuing, “Well last night after we….uh, kissed, I realized that some changes were in order.”


“Wait, before you say anything, hear me out,” Maria told him quickly, “Look, I know you think you’re in love with me or whatever, but Max, you’re not. In fact, we both know you never would have looked twice at me if it hadn’t been for all this stuff going on with Liz. We got close. You were there for me during one of the hardest times in my life and I was there for you. And of course we would start to feel things for each other, but that’s not real, Max, and I think you know it.”

“But our friendship is real, Maria, and that’s what I want to fight for,” Max insisted.

“That’s not possible,” Maria told him hoarsely, “You see, friends don’t kiss like we kissed last night and friends don’t have erotic dreams about each other…friends don’t make love, Max, and if we keep going on like this that’s exactly what is going to happen between us.”

“Not if we don’t want it to,” Max argued.

“And I guess we wanted to kiss last night, huh?” Maria pointed out with a touch of sarcasm, “Please, Max, let’s just end this for now. You need a break and so do I.”

“Maria, you’re the only reason I’ve come through the last eight months sane! You’re my best friend.”

“That’s just it! I shouldn’t be, Max. Do you know who should? Your wife. Liz. That’s her responsibility not mine!”

“I didn’t know you thought of me as a “responsibility,” Max uttered, stung by her choice of words. He rose unsteadily to his feet. His mind was suddenly spinning with all she’d said. “I’ll just get Claudia and go.”

“Max, please-,” Maria pleaded, rising with him.

“No, you’ve made your feelings clear. I’ll respect them.” And with those words he climbed the stairs to get his daughter.


“You’re in a foul ass mood tonight,” Isabel noted of her brother as she motioned for her housekeeper to clear away the dinner dishes.

“So what’s new?” Alex cracked from across the table before taking a sip of his wine.

Max rubbed his temples in frustration. It had been a bad, bad idea to accept Isabel’s dinner invitation. But he really hadn’t felt he had a choice. It was either have dinner with the family or stare at the walls of his apartment and go stark, raving mad. He opted for dinner. But since arriving he’d done nothing but gripe and complain and snap at everyone who dared strike up a conversation with him, even Claudia.

“Why don’t you just call her?” Alex demanded in exasperation, meaning Maria, “You don’t even have to worry about the long-distance.”

“Who said I wanted to talk to Maria?” Max snapped, glaring at him.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Alex sighed sarcastically, not the least bit ruffled by Max’s surly attitude, “It could be that twitch you get above your eye every time her name is mentioned.”

This time Max didn’t even bother with a response. Instead he moodily pushed his desert, key lime pie, around on his plate with his spoon.

“Max, you’re acting like a spoiled brat!” Isabel snapped.

“Then why the hell did you invite me to dinner then!” Max retorted back.

“Because I wanted to tell you I was pregnant!” Isabel yelled and then hot on the heels of that statement she burst into tears.

Her shouted response stunned him. He sat there with a stupefied expression on his face. “God, Is…I’m sorry,” Max sighed, feeling lower than dirt.

“Don’t bother!” Isabel choked, scrapping her chair back from the table, “Excuse me!” After she ran from the dining room Alex rose to follow her but not before glaring at Max, saying, “You can be a real ass at times, Max.”

Left alone in the dining room Max dropped his face into his hands and heaved a self-pitying sigh. He had never imagined it would be so hard with Maria gone. Without her there to distract him, he couldn’t help but think of Liz and how much he missed her. Twice he’d had to stop himself from packing up the car and heading up to Pennsylvania to see her. It wouldn’t do any good anyway. She’d only end up rejecting him. And now to make matters worse he’d been harsh with Isabel when all she’d wanted to do was share her happy news with him.

Alex was right. He was an ass. After a few moments Max gathered himself up and shuffled into the living room. Alex and Isabel were snuggled together on the sofa. Alex was gently kissing the underside of his sister’s cheek. Seeing them together made Max’s throat ache with unshed tears. He’d missed that, being so close and in love. It hurt immeasurably to think he’d never share that with Liz again.

As Max came more fully into the living room Alex and Isabel jerked up their heads. Alex gave Max a warning look. “So help me, Max, if you start with her again I'm gonna deck you.”

“Whoa!” Max said, holding up his hands in surrender, “I come in peace.”

“Max,” Isabel said softly, “I know you’re having a hard time with Maria being gone-,”

“It’s not just Maria, Is, it’s everything….I just really need some time to myself tonight.”

“Just leave Claudia here then,” Isabel suggested gently, “She doesn’t need you biting her head off every ten minutes.”

The drive home for Max was lonely and quiet. Sometime during dinner at Isabel’s it had begun to drizzle snow. He hardly noticed at the flakes fell lightly against his windshield. His mind was on other things. As he drove past countless streets, he thought about his next life move, something he’d avoided doing since Maria had left. Instead of contemplating his life and where it was headed Max had nursed his anger towards Maria. But he had to be honest with himself now. He wasn’t angry with Maria. He was angry with Liz. Because she had left him alone to deal with all these confusing emotions and pain. Because she had stopped loving him.

And that was the only explanation he could come up with for Liz’s sudden coldness towards him. She wanted a divorce, for crying out loud; of course she didn’t love him anymore. Max could almost deal with that if it hadn’t been for the fact he loved her so damned much. Maria had been right when she said that he wasn’t in love with her. He wasn’t. He had only loved one woman in his whole life and he realized sadly that he would probably love her for the rest of it. At the moment, Max didn’t find that revelation entirely comforting.

As Max rounded the block towards his condo he noticed a figure sitting, huddled, on his front porch. “What the f-,” Max frowned as he pulled into his driveway. As he quickly alighted from the car the figure on the porch stood. When the stranger lifted his head the glow of the street lamps illuminated his face, revealing his identity to Max. Max blinked his eyes several times and stumbled forward, unable to believe what, who he was seeing. “Oh…my…god,” he breathed in awe, “….Liz.”

Part 13 | Index | Part 15
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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