Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Roswell.
Summary: Max makes Liz a promise; Liz and Max conspire to bring Michael and Maria together.
Authors Note: There are no evil aliens here, no FBI to run from, no Tess to deal with. This is just the way I would envision M&L's relationship to be if things were normal. Enjoy!
|As they drove home, they were both quiet - mostly because they were tired,
but partly because they had become comfortable enough in each others'
presence that they no longer felt the need to fill the empty air space with
meaningless conversation. Liz spoke first.|
"What do you think about the whole Maria/Michael thing?"
Max took his eyes off the road long enough to glance at her. "What do you mean?"
"Do you think he'll ever give in? Do you think they'll ever quit fighting and admit they like each other? Will they ever be as happy as us?"
"No one can be as happy as us," he laughed. "We're disgusting."
Liz laughed, too. They were pretty sappy these days. "So sweet our teeth hurt," she agreed. "But what do you really think about them?"
Max pondered this for a while, then shrugged. "Michael isn't good at caring about others. He's spent so much time trying to keep his own head above water that he's never experienced what it's like to have someone else along for the ride too."
"Are you saying Michael doesn't care about Maria?"
"No, I'm saying he does and he doesn't know what to do about it."
Liz thought about this and nodded. "Is there any hope?"
"It's a big hurdle for him. In a lot of ways Michael is just now learning how to live like, well, like a real human being. That's ironic, eh?"
Liz touched his arm, smiling. "You seem to have done okay."
They could see a faint glow in the distance - Roswell on the horizon. Liz suddenly wished she were back on that cliff, naked, nestled in Max's strong arms. "Are we home already?" she pouted.
"Almost. Did you like our little trip?"
"Oh, yeah, Max. Can we go again some time?"
He smiled over at her. "Of course we can. It's our special place. I've never taken anyone there. One night I couldn't sleep and I went out driving and came across it - I've been saving it for something special. For someone special."
Liz leaned over and kissed his cheek. "Thank you."
When they reached Roswell, all of the stores and restaurants were closed. Max walked Liz to the fire escape, then climbed up behind her, enjoying the view of her round bottom above him. They'd become so accustomed to climbing up and down the ladder that neither of them used the front door any more.
They stopped at her window, holding hands and facing each other. Max kissed her lightly, then smoothed her silky hair with his hand. "Good night, future Mrs. Evans."
Liz was startled for a moment, then her face broke into a wide grin. "Good night, future Mr. Parker," she replied, causing Max to howl with laughter.
Liz climbed back through her bedroom window and stopped in her tracks - someone was on her bed. She tiptoed closer, a feeling of apprehension creeping its way to her stomach. As she got closer, she began to realize that the person in her bed was Maria.
Liz sat down gently on the edge of the bed and watched her friend sleep. Maria was still fully clothed, shoes, jacket and all. Liz touched her arm and Maria's eyes slowly opened.
"What time is it?" Maria mumbled, rubbing her eyes.
"A little after two," Liz replied. "How are you doing, honey?"
Maria rolled over on her back and stared into the dark. "Wow, I must've fallen asleep. Sorry about that."
"It's okay. Have you been here long?"
"Since 10 maybe. Where were you?"
Liz wanted to tell her about her wonderful night, about her wonderful boyfriend, but their conversation earlier in the day prevented her from doing so. "With Max," she said simply.
"The Boy Wonder," Maria sighed.
Liz bit her lip, telling herself that Maria wasn't trying to be offensive - she was just hurting right now. "Did you any Michael have another fight?"
"What about this time?"
"The usual - get away from me, leave me alone, can't you find someone with human DNA to pest. That kind of stuff."
Liz stood and held out her hand. "C'mon."
"Only ice cream will cure this one."
They crept past Liz's parent's bedroom and down the stairs that lead to the Crashdown's kitchen. Liz opened the freezer, surveying its contents. "Rocky road, butter pecan, vanilla, chocolate, fudge ripple..."
"Better get the rocky road - I think I'm in for one any way."
Liz took out the tubs of Rocky Road and vanilla, got some bowls and spoons and together they sat in one of the booths. She dished out the ice cream, then got up to retrieve some chocolate syrup for herself.
"Got any of those brownies left?" Maria asked.
Liz grabbed those, too, then watched in amazement as Maria crumbled a brownie into her ice cream, then drenched it with a large amount of chocolate sauce. Evidently, it was worse than she thought.
"So, tell me all about it," Liz said, sliding back into the booth and squirting a small amount of chocolate on her vanilla ice cream.
Maria sighed, swallowing. "I don't know why I do it, Liz. I know I should just stay away, but I like can't."
"Yeah, I know." Liz tried not to smile as she thought of Max.
"So, I got off work tonight, and I - for some hideous reason I can't explain - decided to just pop in to Michael's apartment. Why I do these things, I don't know. It's like I have no control over my feet - they like walked there all on their own."
Maria scooped up another heaping spoonful of the ice cream and ate it before continuing. "So I get there, and he answers the door looking like he'd been asleep. Which I know isn't true - because I don't think Michael ever sleeps. He's weird that way. Doesn't matter what time of day, he's up."
She was babbling, and Liz let her.
"So anyway, I ask if I can come in and he shrugs. Shrugs. What's with that? He didn't know if I could come in, or it didn't matter if I came in? But he stepped out of my way, so I guess it meant he didn't care. So, I went in, and just stood there while he sat back down on the couch and started watching the hockey game. He didn't even speak to me. There I was, standing there feeling stupid, and he's just squatted on the couch with the remote in his hand."
"So, what did you do?"
"I asked him if I could talk to him without the TV being on."
"Is that the way you said it?"
Maria rolled her eyes. "Well, not exactly. I think I said something like, 'Do you think you could turn that stupid thing off and at least talk to me?' Okay, I admit, not my best moment. But I was feeling a bit trapped and nervous and he was just sitting there like a lump."
"So, then what happened?"
"That's when he told me to go pest someone else. Pest, Liz. He called me a pest." Maria had stopped shoveling the ice cream, and Liz could see tears in her eyes. She reached over and touched her hand.
"What did you do?"
Maria gave a choked laugh. "I called him an asshole and ran out of there as fast as I could."
Liz blinked, wondering if the two of them really were hopeless. "Okay, Maria, here's what I think you should do."
Maria stopped mid-scoop and looked intently at her friend.
"You're not going to call him. You're not going to visit him. But you aren't going to be a bitch to him, either, Maria. If you run into him, speak to him but only if he speaks to you first. You're going to smile - a lot. Like nothing is bothering you."
Maria gave an exasperated sigh. "What good is pushing him away going to do?"
"You aren't going to be pushing him away. You're going to make him come to you this time. Maybe if he doesn't have your attention all the time, he will realize what he's missing." Liz paused, remembering her conversation with Max in the jeep. "This is all new to Michael - I don't think he's ever had anyone care about him the way you do."
"But Max and Isabel have always cared about him."
"It's not the same, honey." Liz gave a gentle smile. "Max and Isabel are his brother and sister. You - you're dangerous because anything Michael feels for you is new, foreign, alien to him. Give him some time to get used to it. He'll come around, you'll see."
Maria attempted a return smile.
"And I'll help you," Liz volunteered. "If I see you wavering, I'll pull you right back. Be patient. It's gonna happen."
Maria reached across the table and hugged her true best friend. She sobbed a little, then sat back in her seat. She eyed the mess of brownie, ice cream and fudge sauce in the bowl in front of her and grimaced. "I think I'm gonna be sick."
Michael watched Maria prance past him in her turquoise waitress uniform, a cup of coffee in each hand. "Waitress," he called tartly. "Could we get some service?"
Michael was seated in a booth with Max - the same booth Maria and Liz had occupied the night before. Max kicked him under the table.
"You don't have to be rude to her," he warned in a low voice.
"She's taking her freaking time on purpose," Michael spat.
"Michael, we just sat down."
"Well, I'm ready to order. The sooner we order, the sooner we eat, the sooner we leave."
Max heaved an agitated sigh and was about to reply when Maria stopped at the end of their table. He looked up at her and was surprised to see a smile - it even looked sincere - on her lips.
"I'm sorry, guys," she apologized. "What can I get you? Max?"
"Uh," Max flipped the menu open, scanning it quickly. "I'll have a Close Encounter, hold the moon poppers."
Maria jotted his order on the pad, then turned to Michael. "What would you like, Michael?" she asked, cheerful.
"Same as usual. Same thing I always get."
Another kick under the table.
"Okay, then, one Will Smith." Maria tucked the pad into her apron. "Be out in just a few minutes, guys. In the mean time, would you like me to bring you some drinks?"
"Ice tea?" Max requested. "Lots of sugar."
"Cherry coke," Michael muttered, wondering why she wasn't falling all over him like usual.
"Alright. Be right back with those."
Maria walked confidently through the swinging doors to the kitchen, then collapsed against the wall, inhaling deeply. Liz walked past her, then stopped.
"They're here," Maria explained.
Liz broke into a smile. "Really?" She looked through the diamond-shaped window into the dining room. Her heart did a flip-flop in her chest when she saw Max. Then she saw he was with Michael.
"Did you wait on them?"
Maria pasted on her I'm-so-happy smile. "Just fine."
Liz took her by the arms. "Great. Keep it up. You're doing fine. I'm going to go see Max."
Liz walked out into the restaurant and caught the last part of Max's sentence as she approached their table.
"...doesn't deserve to be treated like that, Michael. Quit being such a jerk."
"Am I interrupting anything?" Liz said cautiously.
When Max saw her, his face went from irritated to overjoyed. He stood, gave her a quick embrace, then sat back down in the booth. "Hey, baby," he chimed. "You're not interrupting anything. Was she, Michael?"
Michael gave a noncommittal wave.
"Hi, Michael," Liz said.
Michael squeezed out of the booth. "I have to use the can."
After he'd gone, Maria returned with the drinks.
"Maria, I'm sorry," Max began.
"Max, it's fine," she said as she placed his tea before him. "Not a problem."
He reached out and squeezed her hand. Liz smiled - she'd learned that once you got to know Max, he liked to demonstrate his affection, regardless of who was around. Other girls may not have liked to see their boyfriend touching their best friend, but Liz knew that Max loved Maria because Maria was so close to her, and she could never be jealous of that.
"I'll try to talk to him," he reassured, removing his hand.
"Don't bother, Max. It's all up to Michael now."
With that, Maria turned on her heel and left, leaving Max staring after her in confusion.
"What's with that?"
Liz shrugged. "A little 2 am girl talk, I guess."
Max smiled, knowing the girls had probably been up half the night. "So, listen. I was thinking about maybe taking professional driving lessons."
"Why would you want to do that?"
"So I can drive the big trucks - semis."
Liz gave a laugh. "Is that your new career choice, Max?"
"Not really." He gave a devilish grin. "But they do have something like 11 gears."
Liz gave a horrified shriek and slapped him on the arm. Max laugh aloud, delighted he could still make her blush. He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her onto his lap.
"How about a driving lesson tonight?" he asked softly as he kissed her ear.
Liz inhaled sharply, then nodded. "Eight?" she breathed.
He nodded in return, then released her as Michael slid back into the booth. Maria brought out their lunches and placed them on the table.
"Will you guys be needing anything else?" she asked, chipper.
Max shook his head. "This is great, Maria, thanks."
"Alrightly, then." She ripped the check off her pad and put it on the table, "You can take that up whenever you're ready. Enjoy your lunch, gentlemen." And she turned and walked away.
Michael watched her go and had to fight off the urge to scratch his head in confusion.
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