Disclaimer: No one in the WORLD would take ownership of this one but me! The characters aren't mine, though. Life's a bitch.|
Summary: A teen sci-fi show's director is unhappy with the chemistry (or lack thereof) and believability of his characters. He gets permission to take them to Roswell for a bit of atmosphere and a reality check. (You may notice some similarities between these characters' names and those of our beloved cast and creative team.)
Authors Note: Acknowledgment: The premise for this story is really based on a fic idea from Jane of my Roswellnet list. She has not only allowed me to use the idea, but to warp it just a bit for our purposes. Thanks, Jane! Caution: Most of you who read my fics are used to some serious plot, character development, etc. Quit looking. This is a fluff piece I wrote over the holidays. The readers at Jenn's board VOTED on what would happen at the end of each installment from 3 choices I gave them. They dictated the direction and emphasis. (I've kept the choices they had to choose from in here, so you could see what they DIDN'T choose!) So don't think too hard! Just sit back and enjoy! Here's what I told them to begin: Setting: We want everyone getting along in this one, so let's say it's just after "Sexual Healing"
|Max drew a deep breath, suppressing the panic that swept over him as he realized that someone other than Liz had had access to that journal. |
"Max! Oh, Max! What have I done? I swore I would give up writing in this after what happened last fall, but it's so much a part of me, and I thought if I never took it out of this room, it would be safe. It was hidden in the wall. How could Cheryl have found it?"
Her eyes teared up and she looked at Max helplessly. His mind was working furiously. He thought back to the look on Mason's face before he went with Cheryl on that walk. And then he remembered how anxious Cheryl had been to leave. Now he understood why! But why didn't they say anything? Fear. They thought Max would incinerate them or something, so they concentrated on escaping. This would be world news by morning. They had to find them!
"Liz, we have to find them. We have to know what they intend to do. I'll call Michael and Isabel and have them start searching, too."
Max dreaded those phone calls. He knew what Izzie and Michael would say, but it had to be done. He wouldn't tell them why they had to find Mason and Cheryl, just that it was important.
Max successfully fended off Izzie's annoyed questions and gave her the job of alerting Michael. Then he and a very contrite Liz got in the Jeep, searching Roswell's streets, teen hangouts, and the deserted set. There was no sign of them.
"This is bad, Liz. I don't know where else to look. Let's stop by my house and see if Mason's things are still there."
They drove to the Evans home in silence--Liz drowning in a pool of guilt, Max already planning how to leave Roswell if things turned sour. He ached at the thought of leaving his parents; his heart froze at the possibility of losing Liz just when he'd found her, or rather, she had found him. But he would cross that bridge when he came to it. First, find Mason and Cheryl.
They leapt from the car and ran into the house. Diane Evans was at the stove, squinting off to the side at a recipe as she stirred something in a large pot.
"Max! Hi, Liz. Nice to see you again."
"Mom, have you seen Mason?"
"Yes, honey. He and Cheryl were talking out back, but I don't know if they're still there."
Max took off across the kitchen and out the back door, Liz following close behind. He almost knocked her over as he suddenly turned back toward the house. "They're not here."
He headed toward the stairway, taking the steps two at a time and coming to a halt in the hallway as he heard voices. It was Cheryl! Max knocked loudly on the guest room door.
"Come in!" Mason called out.
Max opened the door and stepped into the room. He searched the two surprised faces that greeted him. Liz stepped out from behind Max and took charge. This was her fault and she wanted to accept the brunt of their reaction.
The four pairs of eyes darted from face to face for several agonizing seconds. No one seemed to know what to say. Finally Liz spoke up.
"Cheryl . . . ," she began, still searching for how to broach the subject. What if they were wrong? What if Cheryl hadn't seen anything? Liz didn't want to give away any information that Cheryl didn't already have. Cheryl saved her the trouble of finishing her sentence.
"Liz, Max, we have something to talk to you about."
Max nodded and sank into a chair. Liz stood firm, her eyes filled with fear.
"We both want to thank you for your hospitality and friendship while we've been here. You've reminded us what real people and real life are all about. We hadn't realized how much we had lost touch with all that. And we want you to know that we consider you our friends."
Liz threw Max a confused look, unsure of how to proceed. Mason watched the exchange and realized that they were barely suppressing their overwhelming fear.
"Yeah, Cheryl speaks for both of us. But now we need a favor."
Here it comes, thought Max. He's going to try to blackmail me.
"Cheryl and I are going to share a secret with you, but we want you to promise to keep it to yourselves."
Again, Max and Liz exchanged bewildered looks. This wasn't going at all like they expected.
"Cheryl and I have talked about it, and we're going to try to make a go of things . . . you know, together." Mason drew Cheryl toward him and she smiled at him.
"I don't know what you did to him, Max," she beamed, "but he's a new man. And I think you had a lot to do with that. You and Liz."
The stunned expressions on their hosts' faces made Cheryl and Mason laugh out loud. "Is it that hard to believe?" Mason asked, pretending to be hurt.
Max was still speechless, his eyes turning from Cheryl to Liz to Mason in constant motion. Liz stepped back toward him, almost afraid to believe what was happening. They hadn't read the journal? They didn't know Max's secret?
Isabel and Michael flew into the room, breathless. "What's the big emergency?" panted Isabel. "Max, you've had us searching all over for these two and they're right here in our house! What's the matter with you?"
"You were searching for us?" asked Mason, feigning surprise. His acting skills were a blessing at this moment.
"Yeah," Michael replied angrily. "Why was that, Max?"
Max looked at Liz, desperately seeking an answer.
"We were worried about Cheryl. This was her first time out of the house since the accident and we got worried when she didn't come home." She turned to Mason. "Sorry, Mason. We should've known you'd take good care of her."
"Damn, Maxwell! I was busy. Next time, don't panic so easily." He turned and stomped downstairs, mumbling something about Maria being pissed. Isabel smiled after him.
"He only thinks he's in charge of that relationship" she grinned. "I'm headed for a nice hot shower and bed. Night all." She turned to walk down the hall. "And yes, I do plan to use all the hot water."
Max and Liz were still feeling awkward, not at all sure what had just happened--or not happened.
"We'd better get the girls home, Max, don't you think? We've got one more big day of shooting tomorrow and then a flight back to LA. We all need our rest."
The four rose and returned to the Jeep in the driveway. Mason and Cheryl snuggled close in the back seat and no one spoke. Liz and Max rode stiffly in the front, lost in a fog of doubt and confusion. When they reached the Crashdown, Cheryl and Mason walked to the door hand in hand. Mason turned toward Cheryl and smiled into her eyes. "I'm afraid they don't know what to make of all this," he whispered. "But thank you for playing it my way. I just want them to be left in peace."
She nodded. "The more I think about it, the more I agree. You're a good guy, Mason."
"Just hold that thought," he teased, and bent to kiss her. She met him willingly, hardly able to believe everything that had happened. But she was happy and excited and feeling deeply satisfied at the turn of events.
Liz reached up to touch Max's face. He couldn't tear his eyes away from the two of them, still wondering if this was a ruse, just their way of getting out of town untouched until they could break the news in a media circus. She turned his face toward her.
"Max, I'm so sorry. I'll burn the journal, and I'll never keep another one. I'd rather die than put you and Michael and Isabel in danger."
"What's going on with them, Liz? Did they read the journal or not?"
"I don't know, Max, but it looks to me as if they're going to move on either way. Maybe they didn't read it. Or maybe they didn't believe what they read. Or maybe," she said, looking over at the couple as they kissed, "maybe, like me, they decided they're better off because of you."
Suddenly Liz had all of Max's attention, and the look of love that came into his eyes took her breath away. "Is that how you really feel, Liz? Because sometimes I think I've just messed everything up for you, you know, because . . . ."
Liz touched her fingers to his lips to silence him. "No, Max. You are the best thing that ever happened to me. Don't ever doubt that. Ever." She went up on tiptoe and slipped her arms around his neck. "Now kiss me."
Max gazed with awe at this beautiful girl in his arms. There was not a doubt in his mind that she was the best thing that had ever happened to him. He lowered his lips to hers and drank in the love he could feel radiating from her. They had already been through so much together, and here she was, ready to stand with him for whatever was next. The kiss went on and on, neither one willing to break it off, neither wanting to leave the warmth and tenderness they found in each other's arms.
A throat clearing nearby brought them back to the street corner. "I really do hate to interrupt but . . . ." Mason was grinning at them, and Max and Liz couldn't help but smile back. Max turned back to Liz and stared into her loving eyes. "It'll be okay," he whispered and kissed her forehead gently.
"I know," Liz smiled at him. "Goodnight, Max."
The girls waved as Max and Mason sped down the street. Liz turned to Cheryl.
"Cheryl?" Liz began.
"I'm bushed," sighed Cheryl. "And I have an early day. I'll see you in the morning, okay?"
Cheryl laughed lightly as she ran up the stairs. Liz could only stare after her.
As it turned out, Cheryl was gone when Liz checked on her before school. "She had an early call," Nancy told her. "She said you all could come say goodbye after school at the set, if you want."
Liz nodded, still uneasy about last night's incident. She would talk to everyone at school about going over to the set later. Max, especially, would want to see them one more time before they left, she was sure.
As she was about to leave, her phone rang.
"Good morning, Max," Liz smiled. "Is everything okay this morning? I mean, with Mason and all?"
"That's what I called to tell you. I asked Izzie to dreamwalk him last night. At first, she didn't want to do it without knowing why, but I convinced her I wanted to see if . . . well, if he was interested in you."
Liz giggled at Max's embarrassed silence. "She believed that?"
"I don't know, but she didn't ask any more questions. Anyway, this morning she told me that he was dreaming about Cheryl, and she didn't say she'd seen anything else, like about us or anything, so I guess we're okay. I still don't know if he knows anything, but he doesn't seem to be worried about us."
"Then let's try to relax. And Max? In case you're interested, I dreamt about you last night."
There was a long pause. "Same here," he said quietly. "I'll see you at school."
At the end of school, they met in the parking lot. Everyone was anxious for one more chance to see Hollywood in action, and Maria wanted to thank Brent for all his encouragement. When they arrived at the set, they found that their names had been left with the guard, and they were waved in. They crept quietly toward the interior set. Max squeezed Liz's hand as they came close enough to hear the dialogue that was being shot.
Mason: I've already told you. What you saw was a lie! She kissed me. I don't love her. I love you!
Cheryl: I hear what you're saying, but I know what I saw. You were just as involved in that kiss as she was. I don't understand how you can stand there and tell me it didn't mean anything.
By now, they were close enough to see the action, and Liz smiled up at Max, his face embarrassed once again as he remembered what had happened the last time they'd heard those words.
Mason: You are a part of me, don't you understand that? [Mason stepped closer and took Cheryl's face in his hands.] We are connected in a way I don't even understand. [Now Mason pulled Cheryl close, gazing deeply into her eyes.] I know you feel it, too.
Cheryl: I do feel it. I'm just not sure you do anymore. [Cheryl raised her face to his, warily]
Mason: Let me prove it to you. [He pulled Cheryl into a passionate kiss that continued even after the Jamison yelled, "Cut! That's a wrap!"]
"Wow!" breathed Maria. "It almost looks like they're not acting!" Max and Liz exchanged a meaningful look and worked hard as suppressing a smile. Mason saw the group standing off in the wings.
"Hey, come on over! We've just finished up."
"We just came to say goodbye," smiled Maria. "We're gonna miss you guys."
Soon everyone was hugging, shaking hands, and exchanging thank yous. When Mason extended his hand to Max, Max hesitated briefly. Mason leaned forward and took his hand. "I really am grateful to you, Max. You've made more of a difference in my life than you could know."
Max nodded modestly. "No problem, Mason. Good luck with your career . . . and with Cheryl." He allowed himself a small smile, feeling surprisingly comfortable around Mason.
"I guess it's a good thing we're headed back to LA, though," Mason went on. "I don't think Jamison could take any more of my rehearsing with Liz. That was downright dangerous." Max looked at him guardedly. "Especially with you in the wings." He winked at Max and moved on to give Isabel a hug, leaving Max with his mouth gaping open. What exactly did he know?
Maria made sure her hug with Brent was short and sweet and watched with satisfaction as Michael and he exchanged a cursory handshake. Brent turned back to Maria as he climbed into the waiting limousine. "I'll be calling you!"
There was shouting and waving as the limousine pulled away toward the airport. By the time they had reached their own cars, though, a melancholy had settled over the group. This visit had injected some real excitement--non-alien excitement--into their lives and they each realized that in some way, they would miss it.
"Okay, everybody, there'll be a 'UFO Undercover' party at my house in two weeks when they begin the new shows. We'll watch them together from now on, all right?"
"I can't wait," muttered Michael, and everyone laughed.
It was a Monday night and 'UFO Undercover' was premiering in its new time slot. It was odd to watch the edited version of the show, having seen so much of it filmed in small pieces right in Roswell.
"I can't believe all the stuff they left out!" complained Maria. "They didn't even use the part where Brent got to make all those rocks explode just by looking at them."
"Maria," Isabel sighed condescendingly, "they always do that. They shoot lots more than they can use and then the editors piece together what they think tells the best story."
"Well, it sucks," replied Maria. "They wind up throwing away some really good stuff!"
"Wait!" interrupted Liz. "They're about to show the last scene."
They watched, fascinated, as the scene between Mason and Cheryl that was shot on their last day in Roswell was aired. The final kiss was just as convincing onscreen as it had been on the set that day.
"I think something is going on between those two," hypothesized Alex.
"Don't be ridiculous, Alex," contradicted Liz from her comfortable spot snuggled up against Max. "They're actors. That's what they do. Do you think everyone who kisses on a TV show or a movie is actually in love with their costar?"
"Of course not," frowned Alex defensively. "It's just that those two, I don't know, it just seems like there might be something there."
"They're just talented, Alex. That's all." Liz felt Max squeeze her shoulder and kiss her lightly on the head.
"Oh my God!" yelled Maria, pointing at the screen. The scene had ended and a black screen popped up with a message on it.
"Dedicated to our out-of-this-world friends in Roswell."
Maria began jumping around, yelling. "They mentioned us on TV!!!!!" As the group laughed and high-fived, Max and Liz looked at each other, wondering if there was a hidden message there for them.
"I guess we'll never know, Max," whispered Liz.
He looked down at her serious, shining eyes, suddenly uninterested in anything but kissing those lips. "I guess not, " he agreed, and sank contentedly into the world he loved best.
|Part 11 | Index|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|