|"Growing Up, Growing Apart, and Falling in Love"
Disclaimer: Roswell, the characters, and situations are owned by the WB. No infringement intended.
Category: After Hours
|Liz stood there, unable to speak, her heart pounding in her throat. He was
there! She couldn't believe it! After almost six months of separation he
was less than three feet away from her. A barrage of emotions assailed Liz
all at once. She wanted to fall down to her knees and weep for joy. She
wanted to cover his face with a thousand kisses! She wanted to shout her
undying love for him then and there. But she didn't do any of those things.
Liz remained rooted in one spot, staring at him as if she'd never seen him
He looked different and yet the same. He wore a red St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap. It looked fairly new despite the bill being so curved that it shadowed his marvelous eyes. Hats were unusual for Max. Liz had never seen him wear one before. She had to admit that she liked the look though. The hat accentuated the tiny gold hoop that now adorned his right earlobe. Max with an earring, Liz mused with an inward smile, who would have ever figured. But it did possess a sexy appeal and so Liz decided that she liked his new look altogether.
Max's heart slammed against his ribs as he drank in the sight of Liz with an obvious hunger. God, she was beautiful! More beautiful than he'd remembered. His mouth went dry just looking at her. He wondered vaguely if she could hear his heart, it was thumping so loud. She stared at him now like a deer caught in headlights, as if she expected him to pounce on her at any moment. Max didn't know what he planned to do, he was too enraptured by the face he hadn't seen in over two months.
He had watched her for a long time from where he sat. Her hair was much longer now. Max had noticed as she waited her other tables. The thick braid she wore reached the middle of her back and swung softly whenever she turned. Max had the insane desire to see her hair free, to run his fingers through it. How long had it been since he had touched her, Max wondered with longing. He wanted to touch her now. He had missed her so much.
Max's eyes traveled downward, coming to rest on her distended belly. Over the summer the knowledge that Liz was pregnant hadn't seemed real at all. Now there was no denying. The truth was staring Max in the face. Literally. His eyes slowly traveled upward, back to Liz's face. He swallowed, carefully planning his next words.
"You look good, Liz," he said simply. Profound words, to be sure. What he had really wanted to say was, "God, I've missed you. The last two months have been complete hell without you."
"So do you," Liz replied, "I like the hat." But what she really wanted to say was, "Oh, Max, I'm so sorry. I never meant to hurt you like I did. Please come back to me. I love you so much." Instead they both spoke their polite sentences because neither of them had the courage to say what was in their hearts. Max felt it was too soon. Liz felt it was too late. Neither spoke of what needed to be spoken.
"What brings you by, Max?" Liz asked as casually as possible, as if he were some distant high school acquaintance. What else could she say, Liz thought wildly. This was the man she'd loved for forever, the moment she had waited for forever and now that she had everything she had ever wanted she was at a loss for words. "I thought you were traveling with Michael and Tess." She hoped he didn't notice how she choked over Tess' name.
"We came back this morning. I'm visiting with my folks now. Is came home with us."
"That's nice," Liz smiled woodenly, "How is Isabel?"
"She made the Dean's List at Yale."
She twirled a loose tendril of hair around her index finger. He fiddled with his thumbnail. Liz coughed. Max readjusted his hat. They couldn't meet each other's eyes.
"So, Liz. . ."
"So, Max. . . ."
"I've been thinking," Max began haltingly, "about you and the baby all summer. You know, as to whether it was mine or not?-"
"It's yours, Max."
His amber brown eyes zigzagged to Liz's solemn face. "It's mine?" There was a little catch in his voice when he said it. Liz nodded slowly. "How do you know?"
Liz wasn't offended by his question. She couldn't blame him for wanting to be sure. "I'm 23 weeks pregnant. That's almost six months, Max."
Max quickly did the math in his head. That meant that Liz was pregnant long before. . .he couldn't finish the thought because, almost three months since he had left her, he was still struggling with the fact that it had even happened at all. But still Max was grateful. An intense relief flooded his body, leaving him limp. He leaned his head back against the booth. He was glad the baby was his. "What do you want me to do, Liz?" he asked her softly. God, he was happy! At that reflective moment Max Evans was completely at peace, completely content. The moment didn't last long.
"Nothing," she said as she slid into the seat across from him, "Listen Max, the same rules still apply. I meant it when I said I don't expect anything from you."
"What about school? We start back in three weeks. You can't take care of the baby by yourself, Liz."
"I'm not going back to California."
"What? Why not?"
"I'm deferring the Fall semester to have the baby. And then in the Spring I'm transferring to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque so I can be near my folks."
"What about your scholarship, Liz?" And what about me, Max added silently, what about being near me! It seemed she had everything figured out and none of it included him. It didn't occur to Max that he really had no right to be angry since Liz was doing exactly what he'd said he wanted. Max had asked for space and now she was giving it to him. Buckets and buckets of space.
"It will be hard to raise the baby alone if I move back to California. At least if I'm in Albuquerque my folks will be close enough to help."
"I'll help, Liz," Max said softly, "It's my baby too. Let me help you."
Liz shook her head. "I don't need your help, Max."
"What are you saying? You don't want me to help you with the baby?"
Liz's gaze skittered away from his. "It would only complicate matters."
"Complicate matters how? I want to be in my baby's life and help raise it."
"Max, since we broke up a lot of things have changed," Liz explained carefully, "I've changed. I need to do this by myself."
"Well correct me if I'm mistaken on this point, but did you make the baby by yourself?" Max spat out sarcastically.
"I just want to do it on my own," Liz gritted through clenched teeth.
"Hah! I know exactly what this is about."
"It's because I'm with Tess now isn't it? You know we're together?"
Liz had expected that to be the case, but to actually hear it with her own ears was gut wrenching. She managed to hold her tears back, however. She'd be damned if she cried in front of him again. "Why am I not surprised?" she snapped bitterly.
"She was a friend when I needed one."
"How touching," Liz bit out sarcastically, "All the more reason for me to raise my baby on my own!"
"Because I'm with Tess?" Max burst out incredulously.
"Because things are complicated enough without making them worse!"
They both glared at one another from across the expanse of the table. Liz squared her shoulders and slid from the booth. "I think we've said all that needs to be said, Max."
When she would have walked away Max grabbed her arm in a rigid grip. "Is it that easy for you to dismiss me?"
Liz jerked away from him angrily. "About as easy as it was for you to dismiss me!" She knew she had no right to be angry that he'd left her, but all her hurt and frustration had, unexpectedly, come boiling to the surface. She narrowed furious eyes on him. "How easy was that!?"
"You were the one who cheated, Liz, not me!"
Liz crumpled at his angry words, losing her battle with tears. "I'm sorry, Max! God, I never meant to hurt you! I'm sorry." Liz was starting to feel that she could say it a hundred times and that it would never make a difference.
The sight of her tears made Max feel instantly guilty and he pulled her against him, running his hand down her hair. He tried to ignore how right and perfect she felt against him. "I'm not trying to hurt you, Liz. I don't want to hurt you."
Liz nodded against his chest, caught between heaven and hell being in his arms again. "I know."
"We'll figure something out," he reassured her, kissing the top of her head. "I promise."
TBC. . .
|Part 10 | Index | Part 12
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours