Disclaimer: Roswell, its characters and situations, are owned by the WB. No
Summary: When Nicole Guerin uses her powers during a visit to the Evans' home in Boston, Max poses an important question to Liz.
Authors Note: This story is 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," "Guys’ Night Out," and "Girls’ Night In." More stories may be forthcoming.
Max Evans walked into his kitchen, rubbing a tired hand around the back of his neck, longing for coffee.
He found his daughter Claudia and his niece Nicole already sitting at the table, eating a late breakfast. Every available surface in the kitchen was covered with open boxes of cereal and cartons of milk and plates of fruit and half-filled mugs of coffee and half-empty glasses of orange juice.
Shaking his head at the mess in the usually neat and orderly kitchen, Max cleared off a chair and sat down. He looked from one girl to the other then asked, "So, where is everyone?"
Claudia frowned at him. "Dad, you don't look so good."
Max sighed, rubbing his forehead wearily. "Thanks, sweetie." He tried his question again. "So, where are your mom and your uncle and aunt?"
"Mom said that you came home late from the hospital last night and needed to sleep more. The twins and Molly wanted to go to the big toy store downtown -- you know, the one where the song, "welcome to our world, welcome to our world, welcome to our world of toys," plays over and over again -- so Mom said she'd take them. And Aunt Maria wanted to spend time with Mom, but Uncle Michael didn't know whether he should stay with us or go with them, so Aunt Maria said that we were big girls, and that he should go with them because the twins are a handful all by themselves let alone with Molly, and Nicole and I could stay by ourselves quietly until you woke up. So Uncle Michael went with them, but he complained to the twins about having to listen to yakking girls before they left, and they're all downtown now, probably at FAO Schwartz."
Smiling, Max watched Claudia push her dark hair behind her ears and take a deep breath after her long speech. He could visualize the scene she had just described with little difficulty. It sounded just like everybody. He was glad his oversleeping had allowed him to miss the early-morning chaos.
Rubbing his forehead again, he got up to pour himself a cup of coffee. He leaned against the kitchen counter, sipping the coffee slowly in the hope that it would filter into his bloodstream faster, while he watched the girls flick Cheerios at each other off the ends of their spoons. After a couple of minutes, Max decided that he needed to interrupt their game before the kitchen became irretrievably indistinguishable from a garbage heap. "I guess that means that it's just us today?"
Nicole nodded violently and jumped up from her chair, her hands waving in excitement as she assured him: "But we're going to stay out of your way, Uncle Max. Like Auntie Liz and Mom and Dad told us to. So don't worry. Claudi and I have a plan for how we're going to stay out of your way. We're gonna--"
Suddenly, one of Nicole's waving hands caught one of the cartons of milk. The carton tipped over as if in slow motion, and milk spilled everywhere.
"Oops," said Nicole in a small voice, staring in dismay at the spreading puddle.
"Oops," Max agreed dryly.
"Don't worry!" Nicole cried. "I can fix it! This happens all the time at home. Don't worry." And she waved a glowing hand over the mess, and it was gone.
Max spat out his coffee. "Nikki," he began, stumbling a little over his words. "You know?"
Nicole shrugged in typical Guerin fashion, looking exactly like her father for a second, minus the spiky hair. "I've always known. Mom and Dad don't really talk about it, but I've always been able to do stuff." She looked sheepish. "Well, mostly I break stuff, but I'm getting better."
Max glanced at Claudia questioningly. She gave him one of her slow, sweet smiles then got up from her chair and came over to stand beside him. She patted his arm sympathetically. "You know I know, Dad."
Max returned her look thoughtfully. "Yeah, I know. I just didn't think."
Claudia and Nicole exchanged a puzzled look while Max just stood there, leaning against the counter and looking thoughtful, his longed-for cup of coffee forgotten.
Liz Evans, Maria and Michael Guerin, and the rest of the Guerin children -- the twins, Stephen and Leo, and the baby Molly -- came home late that afternoon. They found Max sitting in the living room with his legs stretched out in front of him and his feet up on the coffee table. He was staring unseeingly over his steepled fingers at an Italian league soccer game on the television.
"Hey." Liz sat down beside him and placed a hand on his knee. "What's wrong? Did the girls drive you insane?"
Max's eyes were pensive when they met Liz's. "No," he said seriously. "I think they spent most of the afternoon playing with their hair and listening to 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.'"
Michael grimaced at the word "hair" and slumped down on the sofa on Max's other side. Glancing at the TV, he heaved a sigh of relief. "Thank God you're watching sports, even if it is in a different language. I've got to get away from women for a while, Maxwell. Today was too much. Liz and Maria actually made me go shopping after the toy store. The yakking, the shopping...." Michael's voice sounded peculiarly Kurtz-like as he described the horror of his day. Dropping his head against the back of the sofa, he continued, "I am not doing that again. I don't have that much of a feminine side."
Max laughed. "Good thing you weren't here this afternoon then. The girls--"
And at that moment, the subjects of their discussion waltzed into the living room in their usual boisterous high spirits, singing a loud, off-key medley of "Lovely Rita" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," mixing up the words with at least four other Beatles songs, so that it sounded like Lovely Lucy the Meter Maid was singing "love, love me do" in the sky because she was leaving home after so many years, and a nowhere man was sitting in one of the newspaper taxis that were waiting on the shore, wondering if he shouldn't be driving his car instead. The two girls danced around together, singing the parts they remembered and humming the parts they forgot and making up the bits in between, until Claudia grabbed Stephen, and Nicole grabbed Leo, and then they waltzed around the living room in separate coupledom with the hapless twins.
"Hey, Dad, Mama," Nicole sang, weaving her greeting into the crazy medley as she twirled her little brother around the room.
"Yeah. Hi, Mom," Claudia added, laughing as she dipped Stephen backwards.
"Help!" Stephen squeaked, and Leo just looked miserable.
And the four adults tried not to laugh at the twins' plight.
Then Maria swung little Molly around and began to sing too. And Liz pulled Max off the sofa and into the song-and-dance routine, although in their case, it was mostly an excuse to be close to each other after a day apart.
And Michael just shook his head, muttering under his breath about yakking and singing and dancing, and wondered out loud why every time they got to Boston, everyone got all weird.
And wrapped up in Liz's arms, Max forgot about what had been worrying him all afternoon.
But that night, when he and Liz were curled up together in bed, Max remembered. He kissed the back of Liz's ear and tried to decide how to bring up the subject. The afternoon of dancing and silliness had truly gotten his mind of his worry, but alone in their bedroom, it came back with a vengeance. He said quietly, "What would you say if I said that I thought it might be a good idea to go home?"
Liz rolled over to face him. "Go home, Max? We are home."
Max shook his head. "No. I mean, home home. Roswell."
"Roswell?" Her voice sounded carefully expressionless.
"You sound like you don't like the idea."
Liz sat up. "I'm not sure I do." She wrapped her arms around her knees and looked at him solemnly. "If we go home, will I lose this Max? The one who is relaxed and playful? Will this Max be replaced by the Max who is always looking behind him, always worrying about everyone else, always carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders?"
Max sighed and tugged her back down into his arms. "I don't know," he said honestly. "But I'm worried about all the kids, Liz. I saw Nicole use her powers today. And it really hit me that all of the kids are growing up with these abilities ... and it's not like Michael is into enforcing rules or anything. Not that he needs to. I mean, I know it's just not who he is. But then I was thinking that on top of having powers, maybe the kids are susceptible to different illnesses." He paused, trying to think of the words that would make Liz understand. "Do you remember when Claudia got sick?"
Liz nodded, finally grasping what was bothering him. Stroking his hair off his forehead, she asked, "So, do you need an answer now?"
"No. Let's think about it for a while." He laughed softly. "We wouldn't be us if we didn't."
Laughing back, Liz tightened her arms around him. "Yeah, let's think about it. We've got time."
"We've got time," Max agreed. "Although we probably shouldn't wait until Nicole gets too much farther into puberty."
Liz laughed again. "You know, Max, it's a good thing that I get your sense of humor. Hardly anyone else does."
"What humor? I was being serious."
"Oh, were you?" Liz tickled him partly to undermine his pretend indignation, but mostly so she could hear him laugh again.
And Max looked sheepish when he eventually did laugh. "Mostly serious," he admitted. "I mean, if Nicole's anything like Iz, let alone Michael and Maria...." He laughed again. Then he looked down at Liz, and his eyes darkened.
"Okay, you," he said as he rolled her under him. "We've talked enough for tonight. We have better things we could be doing right now." And the only sounds coming from their bedroom for a long time after that were soft rustlings and the occasional giggle.
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