Disclaimer: Roswell, its characters and situations, are owned by the WB. No
Summary: Max tries to comfort his daughter.
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.
// "Patient was hyperventilating and complained of severe abdominal pain before fainting a second time. Heartbeat rapid. Maternal complications have initiated fetal distress. Treatment is immediate delivery." //
"So, whereís Max?" Alex asked as he wandered around Liz and Maxís living room, picking up and putting down photo frames one after another, killing time while Liz and Maria were doing whatever it was women had to do right before they could go anywhere.
Lizís response floated into the living room from another part of the house. "There was an emergency on the other side of town. He didnít want to go, but he couldnít not go. I donít know when heíll be back."
Something wasnít quite right, Alex decided. He followed the sound of Lizís voice and found her in the kitchen. As soon as he saw her leaning against the counter, trembling and pale, he rushed to her side.
"Liz, are you okay? You seem--"
"No, Iím fine. Really." She looked up at him reassuringly and pushed away from the counter. Tucking her hair behind her ears, she turned to face him. He noticed that her movements seemed agitated and restless. "Iím just pretty eager for this baby to come out, thatís all. This was a lot easier when I was 22 years old." Then she laughed and tried to deflect the conversation away from herself. "So. Whereís Izzy?"
Alex let her deflection stand. "With Michael actually. Thatís why today the Three Musketeers ride again." Alex felt better when Liz laughed at his gratuitous reference to Mr. Raddishís fifth grade class and the year he, Liz, and Maria had become a trio of best friends. He felt so much better that he enlarged on his explanation. "Michael and Izzy drove together to Albuquerque. Sheís beginning a trial there next week and wanted to get some prep in this weekend, and Michael has another meeting with the same gallery curator as last time."
"He has a new show in the works," Maria added proudly as she walked into the kitchen. She was in the middle of a telephone conversation, and was still holding a cordless phone up to her ear. "Great, thanks. See you later," she said into the phone, then pressed the "off" button and put the phone down on the table. She brought them up-to-date: "The babysitter has solved her own problem. And all the kids are going to be okay at my house until we get back. So--" She stopped mid-sentence, noticing Lizís still-pale face. "Are you sure youíre up to this trip, Lizzy?"
"Yeah, donít worry. I really want to do this." Liz hugged both Alex and Maria, reminding Alex of how often they used to hug and just hang out when they were younger. They had been the Three Musketeers against the world. But that was before they had gotten to know the three Czechoslovakians from another world. Not that he would change how things turned out for anything. "Besides," Liz continued, interrupting Alexís clichťd stroll down memory lane, "Max is going to be gone for a while. And Claudiaís out with a friend."
"Oh, great," Alex said with mock-indignation. "Did you hear that, DeLuca? Weíre just the substitutes."
Maria laughed and slapped Alexís arm playfully before she turned back to Liz and looked her up and down. "Okay, Liz. If youíre sureÖ?" She looked critically at Lizís face. Apparently satisfied with Lizís assurance that she was fine, Maria nodded. "Okay. Weíre out of here."
Watching his two best friends since grade school as they puttered about with their urgent last-minute details, Alex was glad that Isabel had suggested he hang out with Liz and Maria today. They were always fun to hang out with, especially on a lazy Sunday. And it had been way too long since the Three Musketeers had spent quality time together. Families were great, but they could be time-consuming.
Watching Liz and Maria as they puttered, Alex also thought that they looked good. Happy. Fulfilled. All those words that were supposed to go along with good marriages.
Mariaís reputation as Roswellís very own flaky blonde dynamo of ceaseless activity and boundless enthusiasm had given way to a whole different life. She was all focused energy these days. Not angry, not purposeless. She and Michael Guerin had found their peace in each other, a peace that tamed restive spirits and made up for unhappy childhoods.
Liz and Max had also found their peace in each other. Their relationship was different from Michael and Mariaís, though. Less volatile. In a lot of ways, it defied description. But describing their happiness together was easy; it was a living, breathing, tangible thing. It was like the giddiness of first love and the timelessness of old love wrapped up together. Soulmates, Maria always called them, and Alex had to agree.
Silently, he laughed at himself. Definitely he had been hanging out with Liz and Maria too much. And the day was only half over. He was about to tell them about his fanciful ruminations when he noticed that Maria was staring at Liz and frowning.
"Are you sure youíre all right, Liz?" she was saying. "Because you donít look so good."
Liz tried to smile reassuringly. "My stomach is hurting a bit. Thatís all. Donít worry."
Examining Lizís pale, shiny face, noticing how white her knuckles were where she was rubbing her pregnant belly, Alex wasnít convinced. And it seemed Maria wasnít either.
"Whatís hurting, Liz?" Maria persisted.
"My stomach hurts. Itís no big deal. I think itís false labor, which isnít that surprising at eight-and-half months. Really. You guys are going to start sounding like Max soon. Heís always so paranoid."
Maria laughed. "That sounds like our Max all right."
"True," Liz agreed, laughing herself. "So letís go. Our carriage awaits."
And Alex laughed too, finally reassured by the normalcy he could hear in Lizís voice. "I think Ďcarriageí might be too optimistic a term. The jeep was never the same after Isabel tried to teach your daughter how to drive it, Maria."
Alex led the way to the car and was further reassured when he heard Maria and Liz laughing together behind him over Nicoleís various other exploits. He was just unlocking the doors when he heard Mariaís shout.
"Liz! Ohmygod, Liz!"
With a sinking feeling in his chest, Alex dropped the car keys on the ground and whirled around.
Liz had collapsed on the porch. Maria was on her knees beside her, trying to wake her.
Alex took the steps three at a time and was on his knees beside Maria in an instant. "Itís okay, itís okay. This is real labor, not false labor. Weíll get her to the hospital, and everything will be fine. Donít worry, Maria. Everythingíll be fine."
Maria looked up at him frantically, and he sat back in confusion when he saw how panicked her eyes were. "No, Alex," she said, shaking her head. "Somethingís really wrong. Iíve been through enough of these to know. This isnít right. We need to find Max."
Liz tossed her head and murmured at the sound of Maxís name, but she didnít regain consciousness.
* * * *
// "Patient experienced no trauma before loss of consciousness. Diagnosis of labor failure is premature. However, given advanced stage of pregnancy and incipient maternal and fetal distress, advice is to remain on stand-by with oxytocin drip." //
"We need to find Max," Alex stated as he leaned against the wall of the hospital waiting room and stared up at the ceiling.
"No kidding," Maria sighed. She dumped the contents of her bag on to the chair beside her. "Youíd think Iíd be able to find the proverbial kitchen sink in here with all the junk I carry around. I canít believe I donít have my address book. Worse, I canít believe I donít know his number off by heart, considering heís my kidsí doctor, not to mention one of my best friends." She dove her fingers into the mess, scattering papers and bobby pins and hot sauce packets on to the floor. "Wait. I found it." She flipped through a small red-cloth-bound book. "Here it is. Maxís pager number."
"Iíll call," Alex said, holding out a hand for the address book. "You find out whatís going on with Liz."
* * * *
// "Maternal and fetal distress have forced the issue. Diagnosis is labor failure due to uterine inertia. Prescription is oxytocin injection to induce labor." //
"Has she regained consciousness yet?"
Alex was relieved that Max had made it to the hospital. Alex checked his watch. Max must have broken every speed limit in town to make it so fast, actually. Good thing the current Sheriff Valenti was on their side these days. In any case, Kyle knew Liz was expecting, and was probably willing to cut Max some slack given the situation.
Keeping an eye on his brother-in-lawís features, Alex replied carefully, "We donít know much of whatís going on. But we think theyíre trying to induce labor."
"What?!" Max sounded so furious all of a sudden that Alex found himself involuntarily backing away. He stared as a normally even-tempered Max Evans paced back and forth in the small waiting room, muttering to himself, sounding simultaneously anxious and irritated. "Of all the stupid things.... She canít have been in labor long enough to require oxytocin or dinaprost. Did they even check her sensitivity to the drugs?" Max looked down the corridor, his face set in determined lines. "Whereís the doctor? I want to see Liz."
Alex watched Max disappear through the doors marked "hospital staff only," thinking to himself that doctors shouldnít mess with other doctorís families. Definitely the old adage about the shoemakerís wife and children not having shoes did NOT have a parallel in the Evans house.
It was funny, Alex reflected after another minute, that Liz and Max were usually the calm ones, usually the voices of reason in their group. Michael and Maria were liable to fly off the handle at the drop of a hat. Alex smiled at his own mixed metaphors but finished the comparison; he and Isabel usually remained calm, but they werenít leaders the way Liz and Max were. All of them had always looked up to Liz and Max as the calm, rational center of their group.
But where each other were concerned, it had always been a different story for Liz and Max. Like night from day. In one of her more un-lawyerly moments, Isabel had described it as the violence of existing only for each other. That was exactly what it was, Alex thought. Nothing about what they felt for each other was calm or rational. And that was exactly why this whole thing with Liz was so scary.
* * * *
// "We have a problem. Patientís unexpected and unusual sensitivity to oxytocic drugs has contributed to uterine perforation. Prep for immediate c-section. Get the husband out of here." //
Alex noticed Max and Isabel sitting close together in the corner of the waiting room. For a second, he felt an odd twinge of jealousy, wondering if it was their being Czechoslovakians or simply their being siblings that made them seem so separate, so insulated from everyone else.
Alex shook off the odd feeling as unworthy of the gravity of the situation.
Max looked terrible. Worse than heíd ever seen him, and theyíd been through a lot together, and heíd seen Max looking pretty terrible before. But when the doctors had kicked him out of the delivery room, Max had walked into the waiting room looking like he was in shell shock.
Neither Alex nor Maria had been able to get anything out of him about Lizís condition. Neither of them knew why he was no longer with Liz in the delivery room.
Nothing made sense.
Max had only come out of his shell shock when Isabel and Michael arrived at the hospital fifteen minutes ago. They had brought with them Maxís parents, Lizís parents, and Liz and Maxís daughter, Claudia. It was when he saw Claudia, who was the image of her mother, that Max fell apart.
And the only person who had been able to comfort him was his sister Isabel.
So now Max and Isabel were sitting together in the corner of the waiting room. Maxís face was blank, but his eyes were alive with a pain Alex could make out even from across the room. Isabel was trying to get Max to explain what had happened.
"Rupture," he said bleakly, and the word carried across the silent room, as loud as a gunshot. "The obstetrician said it was a uterine rupture."
"What does that mean, Max?" Isabel sounded confused. Alex saw her cast a worried glance at Claudia, who was curled up between her grandmothers not far from where Isabel and Max were talking.
Max dropped his face into his hands and rubbed his closed eyelids with his fingertips. "In medical school, you learn that the rupturing of the uterus almost always means that the baby dies from suffocation. Usually the rupture severs the placenta from the uterine wall, leaving the baby without oxygen." Max swallowed, and his voice sounded raw and pained when he continued, "In the event of a uterine rupture, the mother is at severe risk. Any organ rupture causes severe bleeding; a rupture near a major artery can be fatal. The treatment is always immediate surgery." His voice broke. "If they can, theyíll save the baby by doing an emergency caesarian section. Usually, their priority is to save the mother."
And it occurred to Alex that something about that didnít sound right. Something that Max wasnít saying. Something about the weird emphasis Max placed on the word "usually."
* * * *
// "Max. Tell them to save the baby."
"No, Liz, please. Donít say that. I canít--" His voice broke.
"Take care of Claudia. Tell her I love her." She squeezed her eyes shut as another pain ripped through her abdomen. "I love you, Max."
"Get him out of here," the doctors barked, but Max hardly heard them. He was trying to concentrate on telling Liz how much he loved her. He was drowning in a sea of pain, not knowing whether it was Lizís or his own. //
Michael slumped down on the chair beside Alex. "He canít live without her."
Alex snorted. "Like you could live without Maria." He couldnít believe he was making jokes at a time like this, but that was how he dealt with things. "I know all about your tough-guy mud thing, Michael. As if Iz wouldnít tell me. Geez."
Michael stared at Alex, his expression half-bemused, half-grateful, Alex guessed, that someone was trying to ease the situation a little. Not that there was much to feel good about right now. Not that this didnít feel like he was trying to drum up laughter through tears. Not that it wasnít a nightmare.
"Canít you guys do something?" Maria asked suddenly, interrupting their male-bonding moment. It was the first thing she had said in a long time. It occurred to Alex, as it had frequently over the past couple of hours, that Maria looked almost as terrible as Max did.
Clearly Michael thought the same thing because he put an arm around her and said gently, "Shhh, baby. Donít say that so loudly."
But Isabel had heard Mariaís question. She left Max and came over to sit with them. When she slipped a hand into Alexís, he felt better just having her near.
As she looked back at Max who was holding Claudia close, trying to console his daughter when he couldnít console himself, Isabel said softly, "We canít, Maria. Weíre not gods. We canít just heal people. Sometimes things are supposed to happen, and we canít interfere."
Maria practically jumped out of Michaelís arms. "How can you say that? That this is supposed to happen?! Thatís so stupid. You can do some kind of wiggle-your-nose, magic thing. You can make Liz okay. Why arenít you doing something?!"
"Maria, youíre regressing to high school vocabulary." Michael reached up and pulled his wife back into his arms. "Calm down. Izzyís telling you the truth. It bites, but itís the truth."
"I know, I know, Iím sorry." Mariaís voice faltered, and she buried her face in Michaelís chest as her tears started again. "Itís just so frustrating."
"I know, baby. I know." Michael tightened his arms around Maria.
And Alex pulled Isabel close too, knowing that both he and Michael were thinking the same thing. Life was too fragile to be apart from the one you loved, even for a minute.
* * * *
// "Do you remember shoveling snow in our driveway in Boston?" she asked, reaching up to touch his face.
"Liz. Why are you worrying about snow?"
"Shoveling snow in our old driveway is how I love you, Max."
"I love you too, Liz. But youíre delirious."
"No. Listen to me for a minute, Max. Do you remember? The driveway was so long. We would shovel different ends of the driveway, always lifting and carrying in different directions, but always working towards the middle of the driveway and each other. We were always working towards the same goal, working together to make something better. Us." Another pain slashed through her, and she tightened her grip on his hand.
"There will always be an Ďus,í" he said softly. The words felt like a vow.
"Yes." Her agreement was a breath of sound that he had to lean in to hear. She reached up again to cup his cheek gently, somehow trying to comfort him despite the pain he knew was crashing into her in waves. "Max. Itís going to be okay," she whispered.
"I know," he whispered back, not sure if he was telling the truth. //
They had been at the hospital for hours. Forever, Alex thought. About an hour ago, Max had been asked to follow the doctors through those ominous swinging doors. But the family left behind in the waiting room had heard nothing since.
Tired of waiting and doing nothing, Alex got up from his chair. He tried not to look at Maxís and Lizís parents. They were too upset. He didnít know how to make them feel any better. But he had an idea that he might be able to help Claudia. He had a daughter of his own after all.
She looked up at him when he sat down beside her, her big eyes very serious. Alex was hit by the random observation that in Claudiaís face, Maxís eyes were less disconcerting; his long, curling lashes suited a girl better. Both Maxís and Claudiaís eyes were beautiful in a strange, Czechoslovakian way. They were always dark, but that darkness was changeable, from dark honey to dark chocolate to dark night-sky, depending on their moods. He saw a similar kind of changeableness in Izzyís eyes sometimes, and even in their daughter Annaís eyes. Alex halted his musings and focused on his niece. "You holding up okay?"
Claudia nodded. "I have a feeling that things are going to be okay. I donít know why I think that, though." She glanced at Alex and made one of those leaps of feminine logic and wisdom and maturity that left a typical, non-Czechoslovakian male breathless. "And thatís good. Because Dad canít survive without Mom, Uncle Alex. Theyíre so absorbed in each other. They need each other in a way that they donít need anybody else. Even me." She paused when he looked startled. "Donít get me wrong, Uncle Alex. You know I love my parents. And I know they love me. Itís just hard being their kid sometimes."
She shrugged and gave him a brave smile. And Alex observed again in her face that wise maturity that seemed to belong to someone a lot older than sixteen-going-on-seventeen years old. She said softly, "I couldnít be their child and not know how deep their feelings ran. Thatís why Mom has got to be okay. They need each other."
Claudiaís insight into her parentsí relationship reminded Alex of Isabelís description of Max and Lizís love for each other, the description he had been thinking about earlier in the day, about the violence of Maxís and Lizís existing only for each other. He offered up a quick prayer that Claudia was right, and that her mother would be okay.
More minutes passed as Alex sat beside Claudia. The hands of the clock swept around the clock-face in achingly slow, agonizingly lethargic circles.
After the clock-hands had swept around another fifteen circles, Max walked back into the waiting room. He looked completely different from the first time heíd come back after being on the other side of those swinging doors. This time, Max looked relieved and happy, not remotely shell shocked.
Knowing in that instant that everything was going to be okay, Alex directed a quick look of thanks at the ceiling.
And Claudia ran into her fatherís arms, asking the question at the forefront of everyoneís mind: "Momís okay, Dad?"
Max nodded as he kissed the top of his daughterís head. "And, by some miracle, you have a brother too. Both of them are fine. Your mom is going to be recovering for a while, but sheís fine." Max grinned, looking almost like his old self again. "But I almost forgot--" his voice dropped-- "We need your blood, Alex." Then he grinned again. "At least this time I can offer something in return. A namesake. Joshua Alexander Evans."
And Alex smiled back, knowing that Max had offered them all a lot more than that when he healed Liz all those years ago, and brought them all together in the first place.
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