FanFic - Crashdown After Hours
"The Forging of a Lifebond"
Part 4
by Tasyfa
Disclaimer: This story is not affiliated in any way with Roswell or the WB. No copyright infringement was intended.
Category: After Hours
Rating: NC-17
Authors Note: This takes place after RTM/ARCC, about mid-January after everyone's back in school. This story is dedicated to bluecornmoon for her support and encouragement in my writing endeavours.
By unspoken agreement, Liz and Max avoided each other at school all day, knowing that they wouldn’t be able to keep up the charade of just friends in close quarters. Max finally caught up with Tess and Kyle at the beginning of last period at Tess’s locker.

“Hi guys,” he greeted them. “Listen, I was wondering if we could talk today after school—all three of us, I mean. I could meet you at your place. Would that be OK?” he asked.

Kyle and Tess looked at each other, perplexed, then Kyle shrugged. “Sure, no problem, Max. We’ll see you there maybe half an hour after school’s out. Sound all right?”

Max nodded. “Sounds fine. I’ll see you then.”

At about 4:30 p.m., Max knocked on the Valentis’s door. Tess opened it and waved him in.

“The sheriff’s not home right now, so we can sit in the living room,” she said, closing the door behind him. “Kyle’ll be back in a sec, he just took something out to the garage. Can I get you anything? A glass of water, maybe?”

“No, thanks, I’m good,” Max replied. Tess ushered him to the plaid couch, and he sat down. She took a seat in an obviously new rocking chair, its wood burnished to a gleaming finish.

“I don’t remember that chair,” Max said. “Is it new?”

Tess grinned. “Yes, this is my Christmas present from Kyle and the sheriff. Isn’t it nice?”

“Mmm-hmm,” Max agreed. Just then, Kyle came in the room. He kissed the top of Tess’s head on his way to the couch, where he flopped down beside Max.

“So, what did you want to talk about?” he asked, snagging a handful of chips from the ever-present bowl on the coffee table.

Max took a deep breath. “A couple of things, really. The first one is that I want to thank you again, Tess, for saving our butts from the Skins. I know that Nicholas is still out there somewhere, but he has a seriously diminished power base now, and that’s because of you. And,” he went on, “I know that we—well, mostly me—haven’t treated you like you were a real part of the team. But you are, Tess. Just as much as any of the rest of us. I—I’m sorry for my past behaviour. It was—rude, and unkind, to say the least. I consider you to be a friend now, and I’d like it if you would consider me to be the same.”

Tess looked at Kyle, then back at Max. “I do think of you as a friend, Max. I’m glad you’re finally acknowledging me, though,” she said quietly. Max nodded and shrugged, and Tess smiled in return.

“OK, the second thing has to do with you, Kyle,” Max said, his stomach clenching with nervousness. “I want to thank you for what happened with you and Liz.”

Kyle and Tess both stared at him as if he’d gone crazy, and Max laughed weakly, realizing how that had sounded.

“I meant, for helping her, Kyle. I know the truth now,” he said softly. Comprehension dawned on Kyle’s face, but Tess was still confused.

“Would one of you gentlemen be so kind as to explain to me just what the hell that’s supposed to mean?” she asked, a dangerous edge in her voice. Kyle beat Max to the explanation.

“Liz and I didn’t really sleep together,” he confessed, looking at Tess. “She asked me to help her make Max think we’d slept together, but we didn’t do anything. I’ve seen more of her at the beach,” he snorted. He looked at Max.

“She wouldn’t tell me why she was doing it. I’ve got to admit, I’ve thought about telling you more than a few times, especially after she got so upset that she hadn’t said anything before we left to take out that time field. But I didn’t think it was my place. I take it you know why, now, too?” he queried.

Max nodded, then noticed Tess’s grin. “What is so funny?” he asked, bewildered. Her smile widened.

“Kyle owes Liz big time. When you and Isabel left us in the Jeep to check out the Universal Friendship League, Max, I asked Liz about what had happened—and she told me you were great!” she laughed at Kyle.

He grinned back at her, flushing a little. “Well, aren’t I?” he asked archly. Tess’s cheeks reddened, but she was still smiling as she retorted, “Not on your life, Valenti!”

Max cleared his throat and requested, “Could we get back on topic here, please?” They both smiled at him, and Kyle waved at him to continue.

“As I understand it, mine and Liz’s future selves found a way to modify the granolith so that my future self could travel back in time 14 years to change the future and prevent the end of the world. This future self came to Liz and told her that she needed to find a way to make me fall out of love with her. We had several painful conversations, but I wasn’t giving up, so she went to you, Kyle, for help. Are you still with me?” he asked with a half smile.

Kyle nodded, and Tess said, “Yeah, I can see that—I know how devastated you were, but…why?”

Max sighed and steeled himself. He looked at Tess as he replied, “Because the closer I grew to Liz, the worse I treated you, Tess. Eventually, you reached the breaking point and you left Roswell. When all hell broke loose and Earth was invaded, the three of us weren’t enough. We failed. At the point that my future self returned, Michael and Isabel had already been killed; presumably you were dead as well. We needed you, and you were gone, because of me.”

There was an uncomfortable silence in the room as they digested the information. Finally, Tess looked back up.

“Max, you and Liz—you’re back together now, aren’t you. That’s why you’re here, why you needed to get this out into the open,” she stated. Max nodded, and she continued speaking.

“You and I are…we’re not the people that we used to be, Max. Just like Isabel is not Vilandra, you’re not Zan…and I’m not Ava. I think I always knew that if you were ever given a choice, that choice wouldn’t be me.” She looked down, tears swimming in her eyes. “All my life, Nasedo told me that you were my destiny. But you—love someone else. And I care about someone else now, too.” She glanced at Kyle, who smiled at her. Tremulously she smiled back.

“Max, since the day that everyone disappeared and I somehow tapped into that firestorm, I’ve felt that you respected me, even cared about me. I see the way you look at Liz, the way you’ve always looked at her, and I know that no matter who we were in that other life, in this life you will never look at me like that.

“You said once that we create our own destinies. I don’t know what mine is yet, but I think that yours…is with Liz.” She wiped her tears away, smiling at the expression on Max’s face. He looked dazed. “I’ve been thinking about this for a while, now, Max, I just—I couldn’t quite bring myself to say it to you. Roswell is my home now; I belong here. Just not—as more than your friend,” she concluded.

Max looked in shock from her to Kyle, who was nodding in agreement. “Well, um, I guess that’s it then,” he managed. “I must say, Tess, that’s—more than I had any right to expect from you. I want to keep on being your friend—both your friends,” he amended.

“Sounds like a plan, Max,” Kyle said, rising from the couch and going to stand behind Tess. “Friends are the flowers of one’s soul.”

Tess winked at Max as she reached up to hold Kyle’s hand. “Just remember, Max, love makes people do crazy things. Be careful.” She tilted her head back and she and Kyle shared a long look.

Max coughed. “I think I’ll leave now before my teeth rot from all the sweetness,” he remarked sarcastically. Kyle looked sheepish and Tess giggled.

“Seriously, you two, thanks. I appreciate everything you said,” Max stated. “I’d better go before I’m late for supper.”

Part 3 | Index | Part 5
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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