Disclaimer: I don't own Roswell, I know it and you know it so why don't I save
Summary: This is a sequel to my story Growing Up...
Category: After Hours
Authors Note: Feedback: Is necessary for my existence.
|The loud banging on the front door jarred Max from his slumber. He jerked
upright with a suddenness, disturbing his sleeping wife who was sprawled across
his naked chest. “What is it?” Liz asked in groggy confusion as she lifted her
head. She sat upright completely when Max slid out of bed and began pulling on
a pair of discarded sweats.
“Some lunatic is downstairs banging on the door.” Hot on the heels of his statement their bedroom was jarred by another series of violent thump, thump, thumps, followed this time by the insistent ringing of the doorbell. Liz glanced at the clock, which read 4:48 a.m., then Max in terrified confusion. “Who could that be?” she whispered.
“I don’t know…” Max said as he rummaged through their closet to retrieve his baseball bat, “…but whoever it is had better be armed.” He slammed the bat against his palm before stalking out of their bedroom. Liz leapt out the bed quickly pulling on her bathrobe and flying after him.
By the time she made it downstairs Max was already pulling open the front door. The next thing Liz knew Max’s head snapped back unexpectedly and he hit the floor with a thud. The bat clattered to the floor and rolled away. Just as Liz rushed forward Michael Guerin stepped through the door to tower over a still prone Max. Liz knelt down at her husband’s side and assisted him to his feet while glaring at Michael. “What the hell’s the matter with you!” she shouted at him.
“Yeah, Michael,” Max said, flexing his jaw, “why did you hit me?”
“That was for Maria, you bastard!” Michael spat out, taking another step towards Max with the obvious intention of punching him again. Liz stepped between them. She leveled Michael with a cold glare. “If you touch him again, you’ll have me to deal with,” she warned him implacably, “Now either come inside or leave. You’re letting out our heat.”
Her words seemed to restore order to their world for a few moments. Eyeing one another with wary suspicion and distrust Max and Michael made their way into the living room while Liz secured the latch on the front door. When she turned around she found Michael slumped down in the recliner, eyeing Max with unconcealed hatred. Max, on the other hand, would not meet his stare, but instead fingered the cut on his lip before healing it. Liz crept into the living room. She folded her arms across her chest. “You know I wasn’t aware that you guys counted telepathy among your many powers,” Liz quipped crisply, “Are you two going to talk or just stare at each other all night?”
Before Liz could get a response the telephone began to ring. With one last disgusted look at the both of them she headed for the kitchen to answer it. She knew before picking up the receiver who was on the other end. “Maria?”
“Michael’s back, Liz,” Maria sobbed into the phone the moment she heard Liz’s voice.
“Yeah, I know…he’s here now.”
“Oh my god!” Maria moaned, immediately picking up on the tension in Liz’s voice, “What did he do?”
“Besides punching Max…nothing really.”
“God,” Maria uttered hoarsely.
“Do you need me to come over?” Liz asked.
When Liz strode back into the living room a few moments later Max and Michael were still as she had left them. Rolling her eyes, Liz headed over towards the hall closet to retrieve her coat. “As much as I’d like to stay and referee this little reunion between you two…Maria needs me.” As she said the last of that she leveled Michael with a penetrating stare. He at least had the grace to look guilty. She shrugged into her coat and then went to give Max a kiss good-bye. “I won’t be long,” she told him and then she added in forethought, “…hopefully. Try to work this out, ok?” She ran upstairs quickly to change. Later when she left, she gave Max one last wave good-bye before heading out the door. Max stared after her, repressing the urge to call her back.
“So how long have you been sleeping with my girlfriend?”
At Michael’s bitter question Max jerked his gaze from the door. “I’m not sleeping with Maria, Michael,” he stated as calmly as he could, “I don’t even know where you would get such an idea…you’ve been gone for months.”
“This isn’t about me and where I’ve been.” His tone was one of cool stubbornness and thinly veiled rage. “This is about you…and Maria.”
“I’m sorry, Michael, I hadn’t been under the impression that you gave a damn.”
Michael closed his eyes, mentally checking the impulse to smash Max’s face in. His fingers contracted spasmodically against the armrest of the chair in an effort to keep control of his temper. But it was a hard thing to do. Especially, when Max was sitting across from him acting so damned smug and self-righteous. He made Michael want to throw up. It galled Michael that Max could pull the shady shit he did and still come out everyone’s golden boy and champion. Michael made one mistake and everyone was ready to lynch him, with Maria leading the pack. But on the other hand, Max could make a mistake and everyone’s would be patting his hand and telling him how sorry they were that he’s so misunderstood.
Just thinking about it made Michael’s rage reach a new boiling point. When he had first seen Maria and Max together he had been too numb to feel anger or pain or betrayal. It was like watching a clip of someone else’s life. He hadn’t really let himself feel it until a few days later. And it had almost killed him. That Maria had found someone else…now that hurt. That her someone else had been Max…that was torture. More so because Michael knew that Max would never feel for Maria what he knew Maria would eventually grow to feel for him. Max belonged to Liz Parker. Max couldn’t have more so been hers if Liz had branded her name into his chest. Michael knew that. Hell, everyone knew it! And he had thought that Maria did, too.
For the first month he had waited for her to realize that. He had waited patiently for her to break off her ever-growing closeness with Max and realize that it was Michael she truly loved. Michael had waited and waited…and waited. After so many months of waiting, however, Michael original hurt began to transform into anger, hardening and growing until it became an almost blind rage within him. Which was exactly why he’d sent that letter to Maria. Michael had wanted her to hurt just as much as she had hurt him. He had wanted her to experience that same agony. And Michael accomplished his goal and, in the process, pushed her even closer to Max.
Michael glared at Max now, feeling his hate for Max flowing in him like a river. “I never figured you for such a low-down dirty snake, Maxwell.”
“And I never figured you for one to take such a sanctimonious attitude, Michael,” Max retorted pointedly, “Need I remind you that you left Maria of your own volition. No one made you do anything you didn’t want to.”
“I guess the same can be said for what happened between you and Maria while Liz was in Cedar Ridge, huh, Max.”
Guilt caused Max to quickly avert his gaze. “That was different.”
“Why?” Michael spat out. “Because you say so?”
“Because Maria and I never set out to hurt anybody, Michael.”
Michael launched himself out of the recliner and loomed over Max, glaring down at him in fury. “What are you saying, Maxwell? That I left to deliberately hurt Maria?”
“Don’t put words in my mouth, Michael,” Max replied calmly, his entire body tense. “Just sit down and let’s try to talk this out like adults.” Michael continued to hover above him for a few tension filled seconds before retreating back to his seat. Max took a deep breath before beginning. “Michael, I’m not saying what happened between Maria and I was right…because it wasn’t. But I am promising you that we did not sleep together…that our relationship did not get physical.”
“Not that you didn’t want to, right, Max?”
Max sighed in exasperation. “Won’t you even try and meet me half-way, Michael?” Michael remained belligerently silent. “We share too much for you to end it this way and you know it.” Michael only glared at him. “Damn it, Michael! You think you’re the only one allowed to make stupid mistakes? I’m not the epitome of perfection!”
“That never stopped you from acting like you were,” Michael accused sharply.
“No, Michael,” Max contradicted softly, “I never believed that of myself…you did. Ever since we were kids you’ve always put all this pressure on me to always know the right thing to do…to always find the solution. And what you never realized is that I’m just like you. I don’t have all the answers, Michael.” Max’s words were beginning to crack the wall of anger Michael set up around his heart, but he was careful not to show it. “I don’t know why my son died…I don’t know why Liz tried to commit suicide…I don’t know why I turned to Maria when she did…I don’t know anything, Michael. I’m just trying to get along the best way I know…the same as you.” Max looked at Michael for a long, telling moment. “And I don’t think you want to hate me,” he said.
“Well, you don’t know me as well as you think you do.” But when Max looked stricken by his words he reluctantly added, “But no…I don’t.” He clinched his hands into fists. “As much as I want to scrap you off, Maxwell, you are a part of me. So I can’t hate you, not really, even though you do deserve it.”
“Well, what do you want, Michael.”
He answered that question without hesitation. “Maria.” And then Michael Guerin did something he never thought he’d do: he swallowed his pride. He would have never done it if not for one overwhelming reason: Maria. Lifting solemn, sincere eyes to Max he said brokenly, “I don’t want to lose her, Max…please…please, help me not to lose her.”
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