FanFic - Max/Liz
"A QUALITY HEART"
Part 1
by Danilise
Disclaimer: Roswell, its characters and situations, are owned by the WB. No infringement intended.
Summary: Max tries to comfort his daughter.
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: PG-13
Authors Note: This story is the part of an evolving future storyline that currently includes (in order): "Decisions," "Looking In," "Christmas Envy," "From Another Place," "Husbands and Fathers," "Claudia and Nicole," "Stars," "Going Home," "The Ethics Lesson," "Redefining Terms," "Beginnings," "First Date," "A Quality Heart," "In Every Ending," "Birth," "Rose Petals," "The Littlest Czechoslovakian," "Joshua and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," "Guysí Night Out," and "Girlsí Night In." More stories may be forthcoming.
A QUALITY HEART

Claudia flung herself face-down on her bed and buried her face in her pillow. It felt so horrible, like her heart was splintering in her chest, splintering into millions of tiny pieces that she would never be able to gather up and put back together again. Like Humpty Dumpty.

She groaned at her childish analogy and rolled over to stare at the ceiling, still clutching her pillow to her chest as if it could ward off all the bad vibes that her Aunt Maria swore floated around in the air after anything bad happened.

"Why did he do it, Puckatigga?" she asked the stuffed white rabbit sitting on her dresser.

"Why did who do what?"

She jumped at the sound of her fatherís voice. She looked up to see him hesitating halfway over the threshold into her bedroom. "I saw you race through the living room on your way up here," he explained when he saw the question in her eyes. He came over to sit on the end of her bed, then reached over to gently wipe away the tear tracks on her cheeks. "And I thought I should check on my little girl."

"Oh, Dad...." Claudiaís face crumbled. "It hurts so much...."

Her father gathered her into the safety of his arms, and she sobbed into his shoulder. She felt his hand smoothing the back of her hair, and instantly she felt like a little girl again, when there had been no hurt big enough that her father couldnít make it go away.

But she wasnít a little girl anymore.

Scrubbing at the tears on her cheeks, hiccuping a little, she pulled out of her fatherís arms and sat back against the headboard. She tried to laugh but it faltered into another weepy hiccup. "Sorry about that," she said, gesturing towards his now-wet sweater. "Itís been a rough week."

"I can see that." Her father gave her a soft, encouraging smile and waited for her to tell him what was wrong.

She searched for the words to tell him because he had always been the first person she poured out her troubles to, even more than her mom. "Dad," she began hesitantly, "Why are guys such jerks?" She laugh-hiccuped again. "I mean, since youíre a guy and all."

Her father grinned. "Thanks for clearing that up." He studied her face for a minute before asking, "What brought this on?"

"I told you. A bad week. Really bad." She took a deep breath and re-tucked her hair behind her ears. She glanced quickly at her father then got up from the bed. To avoid meeting his eyes, she toyed with the various hair clips and little knick-knacks on her dresser. "Okay. Hereís a different question for you. What was it like for you and Mom? I mean, you fell in love so young. You knew you were soulmates when you were my age, sixteen. What was it like?"

She stole another look at her father in the dresser mirror. She could tell that he was feeling uncomfortable, as if it had been the last question heíd expected. Well, she admitted to herself, it was kind of a mom-type question. But she was really interested in her fatherís answer. His answer could help clarify her earlier question about guys being jerks. Not that she thought her father was a jerk. She thought just the opposite. Her father was the standard she used to size up every boy sheíd ever met.

Her fatherís sigh reminded her that he hadnít answered her question yet. She moved away from the dresser and sat back down beside him on the end of the bed. "How will I know what itís like?" she jogged him.

"To be in love?"

She nodded.

He sighed again and looked down at his loosely-clasped hands. "You just do. Itís hard to describe. Love is more enduring that just passion, but it is passionate. The passion part of love makes you feel dizzy, like pleasant vertigo. The love part of love is always growing, changing, expanding to fill every corner of your soul." He stopped, looking a little embarrassed. Then he laughed. "Itís a bit like an addiction to another person. A good addiction. Itís knowing that you need that person with you always."

"I understand," Claudia said, thinking over what heíd said. "Iíll just know."

Her father nodded. "Yeah. Youíll just know." He tilted his head and looked at her carefully. Then he said gently, "Sweetie. I know it doesnít seem like this right now, but this feeling will go away. Most hearts of quality are broken on one or two or three occasions in a lifetime. Then they mend. And once mended, theyíre often stronger than they were before they were broken."

She smiled at how her father knew her well enough to say the one thing that could be remotely comforting. She blinked back the tears that were again stinging the back of her eyes and asked, "Did you ever have your heart broken, Dad?"

Her father was suddenly very still. When he finally replied, his tone was pensive and his expression unreadable. "It was my own fault. Something I did to myself. I hurt your mother in high school. Because I was afraid of how I felt, of how she felt. Of a lot of different things. I told her I needed to take a step back to regain my balance." He smiled wryly. "I guess I was a jerk. But your mother forgave me, helped me see that I could rely on the others around me, that I didnít need to be everything to everyone all the time. But I think I had to get drunk before I really understood what she was saying."

Claudia laughed out loud. It was hard to imagine her calm, gentle, pediatrician father drunk.

Her fatherís own laugh was sheepish. Then he was serious again. "I guess my point is, Claudia, that your mother definitely has a heart of quality."

Claudia giggled at the sappy expression on her fatherís face. Sometimes her parents were too much even for her. Even though her parentsí relationship was the kind of fairy-tale love story that every girl dreamed about.

"So," she said, feeling that she needed to state the next natural conclusion, "If I have a heart of quality like Mom, this is going to happen occasionally, this horrible feeling. But itíll go away. I wonít feel like this forever. And I will be a stronger person for it."

Her father looked relieved. "Yeah. Thatís exactly what I was trying to say." He squeezed her shoulders in a quick half-hug. "But if I were you, I would still talk to your mom about this stuff when she gets back from your Aunt Mariaís house. Your momíll probably do a better job of answering your questions. Especially the ones about guys being jerks."

Claudia laughed again and hugged her father back. "You did fine, Dad. I do think I understand. And Iíll be okay." She smiled at him shyly. "I mean, I must have a heart of quality too. Considering who my parents are and all."

He looked startled for a second, then he grinned. "Youíre good, kid. Really good. Youíll be okay." He got up from the bed. "So. What about some hot chocolate or something? Although I should warn you that hot chocolate is pretty much all I can make in terms of hot comfort beverages, so your choices are pretty limited until your mother gets home."

"Hot chocolateís fine, Dad." She hooked her arm into his, and together they walked downstairs to the kitchen to share two cups of hot chocolate while waiting for her mother to come home.

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