FanFic - Max/Liz
"Driving Lessons"
Part 4
by Karen
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.
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: R
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!
Max showed up at Liz's house a little before eight, a bouquet of flowers in his hand. He had dressed a little better than he did on their usual dates, and for a change he rang the doorbell.

Liz's dad answered the door, and gave an amused smile. "Can I help you, son?" He decided to play along.

Max cleared his throat. "Well, yes, sir, you can. I'd like to take your daughter out to dinner tonight, if that is okay with you."

Jeff Parker scratched his chin, gave Max the up-and-down treatment with his eyes. "Well, you look harmless enough. Come on in."

Max smiled as he stepped through the door.

Jeff called up the stairs, "Lizzie, some guy on a white horse is here for you."

A few moments later Liz appeared at the top of the stairs, looking confused. She was dressed in a pretty sweater and a short black skirt. Max smiled when he saw her descending the stairs. His Liz.

She kissed him on the cheek, then looked behind her to see if her dad was still there. He'd disappeared into the Crashdown kitchen. "You used the door?" she asked.

Max shrugged. "Seemed like the right thing to do to do, especially with these in my hand." He held up the flowers. "I'd've had to put them in my teeth to climb that ladder. These are for you."

Liz smiled as she took them. She breathed in their scent. "Thank you. Hmm, they smell so good." She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and hugged him. "Hmm, so do you." She looked at him suspiciously. "What's going on?"

"Nothing. I just wanted to wine and dine my girl." He gave her a quick kiss. "We don't go out out very often," he explained. "I never get to show you off. I want every guy to look at me and see that you are all mine."

Liz blushed slightly.

"I made reservations at D'Angelo's. You like Italian, right?"

"D'Angelo's? Max, you can't afford...."

"Yeah, I can. And that's way beside the point."

Liz caved in easily. "Yes, I love Italian. And I'd love to go there with you."

When they got outside, Liz noticed that Max had even put the ragtop back on the Jeep so her hair wouldn't blow around in the night air. He usually reserved the top for rainy days or cold nights, saying he liked to be able to look to the sky whenever he wanted. She was moved that he'd done this for her. He opened her door for her, then held out his hand to help her in.

As Max circled the jeep to the driver's side, Liz suddenly felt that nervous excitement that came from the anticipated of a first date. While she always felt happy and excited to see Max, this was different. From the flowers, to the way Max looked and smelled, not to mention the fact that he'd used the front door, Liz knew tonight was going to be special. Every nerve in her body could feel it.

Max started the engine, then wordlessly pulled Liz's hand over to the gearshift and they shifted together. Liz felt the butterflies start in her stomach at his touch.

At the restaurant, Liz found that Max had reserved the best, most private table for them. She was so touched by all of his effort that she was speechless. He pulled out her chair for her, then gently slid her in close to the table. The waiter stopped by momentarily and took their drink order, then left them to study the menu.

Liz relaxed as the evening wore on, found it easier to carry a normal conversation. Every time she looked at Max her heart leapt at the glimmer in his eye - he was just as excited as she was. She knew her cheeks were pink from all of the attention she was receiving, and any moment she felt like she might melt into a puddle under the table.

After the waiter had cleared away their plates and went to retrieve dessert - Max had picked tiramisu because of its sweetness - Max reached into his pocket and pulled out a small velvet box.

Liz's eyes caught his movements, and she stopped cold at the ring box in his hand. Max suddenly looked nervous, almost fearful of rejection.

"Liz, I'm too young to marry you right now," he began and Liz's heart sank. He saw her dejected expression, and smiled in spite of himself. "But, I want to promise you that I will marry you when we are both old enough." She brightened a little, but still looked suspicious. "I want you to have this...if you will accept my promise."

Max popped open the box and held it before her. Inside was a gold ring, small enough for her tiny finger.

"It's a claddagh," Max explained. "You can't buy a claddagh for yourself. Someone has to give it to you. It's an Irish wedding band."

Now Liz giggled a little. "Irish?"

He shrugged. "I'm as Irish as I am anything, I guess." He took the ring from the box and took her hand in his. He swallowed, then decided he could forge ahead. "Will you accept my promise?" he asked, his eyes hopeful.

Liz felt the tears start, then nodded her acceptance. Max easily slid the ring onto her finger.

"The hands are for friendship," he explained. "The crown is for loyalty." He hadn't let go of her hand, and he started to caress the back of it with his thumb. His voice dropped to a whisper. "And the heart is for love. Friendship, loyalty and love, Liz. That's what I have with you."

Liz felt the first tear roll silently down her cheek and she looked down to the tabletop. With his free hand, Max reached over and wiped it away. He studied her for a while, then lifted her chin so she was looking at him. The look of unadulterated love in her eyes made his throat clench and he felt his eyes start to water also.

"Are you ever going to speak to me again?" he joked.

Liz gasped in a breath. "I'm sorry, it's just, you're so, you're just - perfect." She shook her head slowly. "And I don't know why I deserve you."

"No, Liz, it's the other way around - I don't deserve you." He smiled gently. "I never thought anyone would value me enough to think they were undeserving."

Liz choked a laugh as she wiped away her tears. "I just think about Michael giving Maria such a hard time, and I wonder why isn't that me?"

Max shrugged. "Because Michael isn't interested in you and I don't love Maria." His expression fell serious again. "I love you, Liz."

Liz stopped short. It was the first time those words had ever been spoken. It almost frightened her. "I love you, Max."

He squeezed her hand and reached across the table to kiss her.

"Your tiramisu, sir."

Max sat back and smiled sheepishly at the waiter. "Thank you."

Max knocked on Michael's door and waited patiently for him to answer it. When he did answer it, Max was reminded of a grizzly bear awakened from his winter slumber - Michael's hair was standing on end more than usual, his eyes were red and he had a general pissed off look on his face. Without a word, he stepped aside and let Max in.

Max surveyed Michael's one-room apartment. He was always astonished at what a good housekeeper Michael was - his outward personal appearance was certainly no indication of that.

"How's it going?" Max asked.

Michael shrugged as he flopped heavily onto the couch. "Same old same old."

Max hesitated a moment, then lowered himself to the chair. A broken spring poked him in the rear, and he shifted his weight away from it. "You been okay?"

Michael glared at him, turning his palms upward. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"Because you seem a little crankier than normal. Like something is bothering you."

Michael heaved a sigh and ran his hand through his unruly hair. "Nothing that concerns you, Maxwell."

"Oh, okay." Max tried not to grin. "Hey, listen, there's this dance next Saturday. Kind of a semi-formal thing. Sounds like a lot of fun."

Michael grimaced. "I'm not into tuxes, Max."

"Not formal - semi formal. You could probably get away without a jacket even, maybe just a tie."

"Yeah, but a dance..."

"The Rocket Pilots are playing," Max teased, mentioning Michael's favorite local band.

Michael looked at him, the grimace gone. "Really?"

"Yep - $10 gets you in." Max stood to leave. "$15 if you bring a date. Liz and I are going - if you change your mind and want a ride or anything."

Michael watched Max leave, wondering if he even dared....

Liz was showing Maria her new ring. "I'm never going to take it off," she said.

Maria sighed. "Until Mr. Perfect gets you an engagement ring, I supposed." She groaned. "Why do these things always work out for you, Liz? Why can't I get a guy like that?"

"Because there's only one Max in the world - well, at least in this world anyway," Liz laughed. "And he's all mine."

"You're right. But, if I had gotten to Max first, I wouldn't have dated him."

Liz looked offended. "Why not?"

Maria paused, then shrugged. "Because he's not Michael."

Liz gave her friend a brief look of sympathy, then straightened when she looked toward the Crashdown door. "He's coming, Maria."

"Who, Mr. Let-Me-Buy-More-Gifts-For-You?"

"No, Maria. Michael."

Maria's expression turned from fear, to excitement to hurt. He certainly wasn't there to see her. She didn't have time to voice that thought as Michael slid onto the barstool next to hers.

"Hi, Michael," Liz said.

Michael nodded in her direction, but his attention was focused on Maria. Maria turned to look at him and found that she couldn't paste on the fake smile she'd been wearing around him lately. She suddenly felt like all of her hurt and worry was plastered on her face and she had no way to mask it.

"I'll just go...find something to do, I guess," Liz mumbled as she made a quick exit.

"I want to talk to you," Michael began.

"Well, maybe I don't want to talk to you," Maria retorted.

Michael sighed. "Can we go somewhere?"

"You can go anywhere you want, Michael. Just don't expect me to follow."

He managed to keep his temper down and speak calmly. "Maria, please," he said softly.

She stopped, startled that he hadn't said something mean to her in return. "Where did you want to go?"

"Somewhere private, neutral ground."

Maria shook her head, resigned. "I can't do this anymore, Michael. You can't breeze in here when it's convenient for you and expect me to just be willing to do whatever you want."

Michael was starting to feel panicked. This wasn't the way he'd planned. Afraid she'd get up and leave, he reached out and touched her arm. Surprisingly, she didn't flinch away from him.

"Okay, then we can talk here," he conceded. "I wanted to ask you out."

Maria snorted. "Ask me out?"

"Yeah. On a date."

"A date?"

"Are you going to repeat everything I say?" He didn't let her reply. "That dance that Max and Liz are going to. Are you interested?"

Maria was speechless.

"Look, Maria. I can't be what Max is. I can't be perfect and always considerate. I have issues, I know that. But I'm willing to try. Will you give me a chance?"

Maria could only nod.

"Good." He removed his hand from her arm and stood to leave. "I'll pick you up at seven. Be patient with me, Maria. I want to love you - I'm just not always sure how." And he was gone.

Liz had been watching from the kitchen, and the shocked look on her friend's face drew her out into the dining room. "You okay?"

Maria nodded again.

"What happened?"

"Spaceboy asked me out."

Liz squealed in delight. "What did you say?"

"I think I said yes." Maria looked at Liz, dumbfounded. "You were right, Liz. He said he wants to love me."

Liz hugged her friend. "He doesn't have a choice any more, Maria. He already loves you."

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