FanFic - Crashdown After Hours
"Growing Up, Growing Apart, and Falling in Lovw"
Part 24
by Dee
Disclaimer: Roswell, the characters, and situations are owned by the WB. No infringement intended.
Category: After Hours
Rating: NC-17
Liz continued to pretend to be asleep even though her stomach was churning as Max laid her gently against the cushions of the booth as he eased to his feet. She forced the tension to ease from her body so that she wouldn't alert Max to the fact she was awake. Her heart began pounding crazily but she drew a small comfort from feeling Max press a tender kiss to her temple.

Max rounded on Tess, his voice low and angry when he said, "You've got a lot of nerve showing up here, Tess. This is an engagement party for me and Liz in case you didn't know!"

"I know what is it is, Max!" Tess snapped, dragging all ten of her fingers through her blonde curls. "Do you think I would come here if it weren't really important?"

Max folded his arms across his chest in a defensive action. "I don't know. You tell me."

Tess cast a nervous look towards Liz's sleeping form and then at the door of the Crashdown. It was already 7:45 by the wall clock and Tess knew that their party was due to start at 8:00. She glanced back at Max, immediately lowering her gaze because he looked like he wanted to strangle her. But she didn't care. This was her last chance to win Max back and she was willing to do anything to get him. She concentrated hard and managed to dredge up a fair amount of tears. Somehow she managed a genuine look of agony when she met Max's gaze again. "Maybe we should go somewhere more private. . ." she prompted slowly.

"Say whatever you have to say right here, Tess, or get the hell out now."

Tess resisted the urge to stamp her foot in frustration. He wasn't being the least kind or sympathetic to her situation at all. She was sure he'd change his tune once she dropped her little bombshell, however. But still she had to keep up the pretense. "Max, please. . ." she pleaded, her crystal blue eyes swimming.

But instead of softening Max her tears annoyed him. Oh god, why did she have to show up now, Max thought in exasperation. He and Liz hadn't been married two hours and already there was drama. Max dragged his hands down the length of his face in a gesture of frustration. "For the love of God, just get on with it, Tess!"

"Fine," she spat, "I'm pregnant!" A satisfied smirk settled on her lips. Everything in the Crashdown seemed to temporarily stop. Max looked as if she'd just slapped him in the face.

In the booth Liz's eyes popped open and she sat straight up in the booth. "What the hell!" she exploded. Max jumped at the sound of her voice. Liz hopped from the booth, striding up to Tess until they stood nose to nose. "You're a fucking liar!"

Both girls glared at each other, looking as if they would come to blows any second. Max stood there, shocked, silent and scared. He suddenly wanted to run for cover. And just when he thought things couldn't possibly get any worse. . .they did.

The bells to the Crashdown clanged loudly as Maria DeLuca strode inside. "The fun has arrived!" she cried out in a loud, sing-song voice, her arms wide-spread. However, her smile faded when she registered her best friend standing nose to nose with her most hated enemy while her husband to be looked on with a sick expression. Maria was thinking that none of it was good. "There's something not right with this picture," she quipped, setting her numerous bags on the floor. She snapped her fingers and Ed her bodyguard came instantly to attention. "Take em upstairs, will ya," she ordered without even looking in his direction. Her eyes were trained on Tess Harding.

Maria strode up to Liz, pulling her away from Tess and setting her aside. "Ok," Maria began calmly, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is your engagement party, right?"

Liz nodded jerkily, glaring at Tess. "Then what is she doing here?" Maria asked, jerking her head towards Tess.

Angry brown eyes jerked from Tess to Max and then to Maria. "She came here to tell Max she's having his baby."

Maria was floored by Liz's statement. The only thing she could think to do was to say something flippant to relieve the tension. "Damn, Max, you sure are a fertile son of a bitch!"

Her caustic comment seemed to snap everyone out of their daze. The impact of what was happening finally hit Liz and she felt as if she'd been punched in the stomach. She pressed her hand into her mouth. "Oh my god," she whimpered. And then she did the only thing she could think of. She turned and ran upstairs for her bedroom because she couldn't stand to be where she was another second.

"Liz!" Max started after her, his expression agonized, but Maria caught his arm.

"She doesn't need to see you right now," Maria advised softly, "I'll check on Liz. You straighten things out with the Gila monster." Although he was reluctant Max did as Maria asked. He stayed downstairs even though everything inside him was screaming that he go to Liz.

Max didn't say a word until Maria had disappeared upstairs. "Are you really pregnant?" Max asked in a defeated tone. Looking at his anguished expression Tess almost confessed the truth. Almost. Someday he would understand, she told herself consolingly, she was doing this for his own good. They belonged together. He just didn't know it yet.

"I'm not trying to ruin your life, Max." She reached for his hand but he jumped out of her reach.

"Are you pregnant!" Max demanded, his voice rising with anger and despair.


Max stared at her hard, scanning her face for deceit. All he saw was tears and fear and love for him. Max's legs began to tremble and he gripped the top of a table to support himself. "It can't be mine, Tess." His expression belied his denial. His face had completely drained of color. He looked as if he were going to be sick.

"There was no one else but you, Max." Again Tess felt a pang of guilt. She wanted to comfort him, to hold him, but she knew that if she even attempted to touch him he would push her aside. Tess could wait. Max was an honorable man. He would never go through with his marriage to Liz knowing that Tess was pregnant with his child.

"I want proof," Max said quietly.

"What proof can I give you? We can't have a blood test without revealing the truth about ourselves to everyone."

"Take a pregnancy test then."

"Max, look at me," Tess ordered softly. Max met her gaze with difficulty. He felt like he was dying a slow, miserable death. With every word Tess uttered she chinked away at his heart. The only thing he could think of was Liz. Liz. Liz. Oh god, Liz. Sweet Liz, who had made such passionate love to him only two hours earlier. Beautiful Liz who was the mother of his child. His wife. He could feel his chest filling with a massive burning anger as he stared at Tess' earnest face. "I'm not trying to trap you, Max," Tess continued, watching him closely, "I just thought you should know the truth." Max felt like he was in an alternate universe. He remembered those words being uttered to him before. Only they had been by Liz when she had first told him that she was pregnant. That day Max hadn't thought that any agony could match the pain that he'd felt in that moment when Liz had admitted that she wasn't sure if he was the father. The agony he felt now was unbearable in comparison. The thought that his marriage to Liz was over before it had even begun caused tears to burn in Max's throat. Max fought to remain calm, fought to reason out the situation in his head.

"If you're pregnant, Tess, that would make you almost four months along."

"That's right. . ."

"Well, you don't look pregnant. How do I know that you're telling me the truth? You've manipulated me in the past."

"I'm not manipulating you about this, Max. I love you. I don't want to hurt you."

"Well, I love Liz. Do you understand that? I love Liz!"

"I know you do," Tess conceded quietly. She and Max had played this game before and she had won. Tess knew she would win this time as well.

Max glared at her. "You still don't look pregnant, Tess."

"Look again," Tess told him softly.

Max brought his tortured gaze to Tess. She concentrated hard, implanting the vision in his head. He had to see her pregnant, see the slight changes in her breasts, the gentle curve of her abdomen. Tess put every ounce of her energy into focusing and Max saw what she wanted. He stumbled backwards, overwhelmed anew. "Oh god."

"We'll work something out, Max," Tess assured him, "I don't want to ruin your and Liz's wedding plans. What I mean is I hope you guys don't call off the wedding or something like that because of me." But that was exactly what she wanted.

"It wouldn't matter anyway. Liz and I are already married."

Now it was Tess' turn to be stunned. She actually paled. "What?"

"Liz and I got married tonight."

"You've already married her? Why? I thought your wedding was three days away!"

A slow realization began to dawn on Max. He became suddenly stiff with fury. He lifted eyes full of angry hatred to Tess. "You planned this, didn't you? You planned to break up my wedding with your little newsflash! Only you didn't count on Liz and I already being married, did you?"

Tess shook her head in denial, but she was so taken aback with shock, she couldn't hide the truth, which was plainly revealed, on her face.

"Well, your plan isn't going to work, Tess! You might be pregnant, but I'll be damned if you break up my marriage! You can see yourself out. I have things I need to discuss with my wife!" Max stalked past her without a backwards glance.

Upstairs Max hesitated before knocking on Liz's closed door. His fist hovered for several seconds before he finally let it fall and simply twisted the knob.

Inside the bedroom, Liz lay curled on the bed, her back to the door. Maria stroked her shoulder consolingly. At Max's entrance she glanced up. "She cried herself to sleep about ten minutes ago," Maria told him as she came to her feet.

"What did Tess say?"

"She's pregnant."

Maria's face remained impassive. "Is it yours?"

Max ducked his head, feeling ashamed. "I was her first so I can believe the baby is mine," he whispered softly, "I don't think she's been with anyone else."

Maria nodded, folding her hands in front of her. "Liz, told me you guys got married tonight."

A knot of sorrow worked spasmodically in Max's throat. "We did."

"Well, this is a helluva honeymoon you've given her, Max," Maria snapped scornfully.

"Please, Maria," Max begged humbly, "I just need to be with her tonight. Please don't make me leave."

Maria felt her heart go out to him but she fought to remain neutral. "I don't think she wants you here, Max."

His eyes were full of pleading emotion. "Please, Maria. . . ."

"I'll just go downstairs and stall your guests," Maria conceded with a sigh.

After the door had clicked shut Max removed his sneakers and climbed into bed beside Liz. He curved his body around hers, spooning against her. At first she stiffened and tried to pull away but Max held her tight. "I love you," he whispered fiercely, "That hasn't changed. It won't ever change."

"Max, I can't. . ." He could hear the tears in her voice and they tore him apart. Her small frame began to shake with sobs. Max held her tighter.

"Please, let me hold you, Liz," Max pleaded in her ear, "Don't send me away."

Liz closed her eyes, tears leaking from their corners. She relaxed against him gradually. Max lifted his hand and began stroking her hair tentatively. He wondered how in two hours both their worlds could have changed so irrevocably.

After a long while they both eventually fell asleep, each one locked in their own private hell.

TBC. . .

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