|"Epiphanies 2: The Anasazi Road"|
Disclaimer: I would be the happiest woman on Earth if I owned any of these people, but sadly, only Josh, the Holbrooks, and Paul Hernandez are mine.|
Summary: This is the sequel to EPIPHANIES 1: The Ties That Bind. It picks up the evening of the Evans barbeque that ended the first story. Here, Max and Liz must come to terms with a shocking revelation about Liz and her Grandma Claudia. They search the past among Native American ruins and history to find the truth and each other.
Authors Note: I have done extensive research on the Anasazi for this fic. Most of what you will read is either factual or widely accepted speculation. I have, on occasion, filled in a gap or made an assumption that suits my purposes. The alien connection, of course, is my own Roswell-loving imagination.
|It was about 5:00 p.m. when Paul Hernandez pulled into a parking space in front of the Crashdown Café. Although Max and Liz had each taken a turn driving, he had done most of it, and his body ached from being in one position so long. He looked at his two young passengers. They had held each other at every opportunity. When Max was driving, he kept one arm around Liz. When she wasn't dozing on his shoulder, they were talking in low tones, every conversation punctuated by loving glances and feathery kisses on his cheek or the top of her head. During her shift, Max had kept one hand on her leg and the other was making a list of things they had to tell everyone, decisions they had to make. Paul could only observe and wonder at what lay ahead for them.
They stretched their legs as they emerged from the cramped vehicle and peered through the window of the Crashdown. Business was light and Liz didn't see her parents anywhere.|
"Come up with me, Max. My dad will have a million questions and I don't want to face it alone. Besides, it'll be good practice for your house." A weak argument, but Max could be persuaded to do almost anything when Liz turned those doe eyes on him. He took her hand and nodded.
"Mr. Hernandez?" Liz turned around to find Paul unloading what little was left of their possessions from the car. "Please come up and meet my parents. Dad knows you were close to Grandma, and I know he'd love to meet you. Besides, we owe you so much, they'll want to thank you."
"I'd like that, Liz," he answered. They gathered their scant belongings, walked through the restaurant, and climbed the back stairs. When they reached the top, Liz turned toward the living room. A small noise caught in her throat. Max was behind her immediately, looking over her head at the unnerving scene. There in the living room were their parents, all four of them. There were coffee cups and tissues and a bottle of aspirin, and four of the most haggard looking faces Liz had ever seen.
This could not be good.
Paul had stopped short at the scene, as well, wondering what he had walked in on. Then it hit him. They were having "the talk." Jeff and Diane were telling Philip and Nancy the truth. He sighed. He wasn't really a part of this, but he hoped he could help.
Nancy Parker rose, and everyone held their breath, not knowing if they would witness a tantrum, a fainting spell, or an act of violence. She walked shakily toward Liz, staring with large red eyes at her daughter who she had thought she knew. Before Liz could react, Nancy reached for her, pulling her into a tight hug. "Oh, Liz! Thank God you're safe." She pulled back and held Liz's face in her hands, trying to reassure herself that Liz was truly all right. "I can't believe . . . ." She just shook her head and started to cry again.
Her attention turned to Max. Liz tensed and reached back for him, shifting to stand between her mother and Max. Max stepped out from behind her, ready to meet what was coming his way. To his astonishment, Nancy threw her arms around him as well. "Thank you, Max. Thank you for saving my daughter's life. I owe you so much!" The tears returned full force. Jeff walked to her side and gently took her by the shoulders, guiding her back to a chair.
Max was so surprised by the show of gratitude that at first he hadn't noticed his father standing to face him. Max's face began to crumble. This was his childhood fear--that his father would find out his secret and reject him. Max, who had looked confident and prepared when Mrs. Parker approached him, looked like a small child as he faced his father. This time he accepted Liz's hand, his only anchor in a sea of uncertainty. His eyes were full of pain and fear, but he stood perfectly still, waiting for his father to speak.
"Max, I wish you could have trusted me."
The two men battled their impulses for only a few seconds. Then they stepped toward each other at once and embraced. Max shuddered with relief, his demon fear faced and conquered. Everyone in the room was touched beyond words at this first honest meeting between father and son. They would have to start over from here, but it would be a happy road to a new relationship.
With the initial awkward moments out of the way, Liz remembered Mr. Hernandez standing off to the side.
"Everyone, this is Paul Hernandez, a very close friend of Grandma's. They did their Native American research together and he's been helping us all weekend. We couldn't have survived without him."
That alarming announcement prompted a battery of questions and renewed concern for everyone's safety. They settled into the now-crowded living room and began to listen to the story of the last few days. Liz and Max sat on the floor, never letting go of the other's hand, taking turns relating what happened, filling in each other's details. They realized they hadn't even had a chance to compare notes on most of it. Paul helped by making the completely unbelievable story sound rational, and he took every opportunity to emphasize the courage and ingenuity exhibited by Max and Liz. The parents sat spellbound. No matter how ready Jeff and Diane thought they were to hear this, they were shocked at every turn. Nancy and Philip were barely absorbing it at all, having exceeded their capacity to comprehend long before their children came home.
Their heads did jerk up when Paul tried to explain that Max was the leader of his people and that he would be having contact with them regularly now. Even Jeff, who knew of Max's status, hadn't realized it would be an active role, now that contact had been reestablished. It was even harder trying to explain Liz's place in all this. The fact that they were compatible and planned on a life together, having received the blessing of Max's Voyan mother, was way beyond what Nancy and Philip could cope with. Jeff and Diane, however, looked at each other knowingly. They had expected this to come up soon. Today seemed a little too soon.
When the highlights had been covered--no one thought this audience was ready to hear the details--Max turned a questioning eye to his mother. "Why did you tell Dad before I got home?"
It was like someone had pressed the mute button on the remote control. All sound evaporated, replaced by almost desperate looks from one parent to the other.
"Mom?" Liz frowned. "What's wrong?"
Surprisingly, it was Philip who spoke first. "Nancy and I let our imaginations get the best of us, that's all. The private conversations this week between Jeff and Diane began to look like . . . like something was going on between them. It just came to a head this morning." He looked embarrassed. Even ashamed. He knew better, but that was 20/20 hindsight talking.
Max was incredulous. "You thought Mom . . . and Jeff . . . ?"
"Mr. Parker, Max," his mother corrected automatically.
"No, Diane. I asked Max to call me Jeff while we were camping. It seemed a little silly to be so formal considering the circumstances."
Diane nodded. There were a lot of adjustments they were going to need to make.
"We should get home," Philip said. "Come on, Max."
"Wait, one more thing," Max interrupted. There was a tone of command in his voice now and everyone turned their attention to him.
"Liz and I . . . ." This was going to be hard. Liz squeezed his hand and nodded her encouragement. "Liz and I will need some . . . space," Max announced. Immediately, two of the faces looked horrified and two looked resigned. Paul just looked slightly amused. Max pushed on. "Liz and I are perfectly aware that we're 17 years old, but what you've just heard today should make you realize that we aren't typical. We've had to grow up fast, and we have no idea what our future holds. We do know one thing, though. The bond that we share, the love we have for each other is forever. I know how that sounds. Every teenager has said that about someone they thought they loved. Please trust me when I tell you, this is different."
"Mom, when Max saved my life, we formed a connection. We've seen so deeply into each other's hearts and minds and souls that there are no secrets left. I can tell you without hesitation that I will never love anyone in my life as I love Max. We are a part of each other; we belong together."
There was a stunned silence in the room. Finally, Diane, the least surprised of the parents, asked, "What do you mean by 'space'?"
"I mean," Max answered, "that we know we still need you. We have so much to learn. We still need to go to school, we need the normalcy that living with our parents will provide for the benefit of the outside world, and we need the love and support of our whole family. But what we need most is each other."
There was no response.
"Liz and I have fought our feelings for the past year, each for different reasons at different times. Now we have our answers. Whatever the future looks like, we are facing it together. My Voyan family has accepted this. We hope you will, too."
Paul couldn't keep silent any longer.
"I know I'm not a member of this family, but I have been close to Claudia for years, and she talked of this family constantly. I've spent the last few days sharing the most extraordinary experience of any of our lives with your children. I have observed them closely, watched them together in the most harrowing circumstances. I can tell you, I was struck by the unique nature of this relationship. It transcends anything in my experience, personal or otherwise. I hope you will believe me when I say, this is special. And for what it's worth, Claudia thinks so, too."
Nancy Parker was at the end of her rope. No one should have to process this much shocking information in one day, she thought. Then she looked up at Max and Liz and caught one of those moments in time that you usually just read about--a slow-motion moment when time gives you a chance to study every detail. Liz was giving Max a reassuring smile, their fingers were laced, their eyes locked. She could have sworn there was a faint glow around them. She watched what was happening between them. It was alive. Just that simple. It was a living, breathing, tangible energy that encircled them.
She stood and walked toward her daughter. Liz and Max both rose to face her. "I don't understand any of this, but I know what I feel, what I see. I pray that whatever this is is strong enough to keep you safe, and strong, and together." She opened her arms to embrace them both, and the three shared a moment that Max and Liz thought would never come. One by one, the others joined their tight circle, and new relationships were born.
Eventually, it was time to go. Jeff asked Paul to spend the night and he gratefully accepted. The Parkers showed their guests out and helped Paul to the guest room, leaving Liz and Max alone for a few moments to say their goodbyes.
"You were magnificent tonight," Liz whispered against Max's chest. "I'm so proud of you." She lifted her face to his. "I love you so much."
"Liz," Max choked, feeling the emotion so common after a trauma, and this had been traumatic. "I couldn't live if they tried to keep us apart." He bent his head to kiss her. It was gentle and sweet. The urgency was gone for the moment; they knew they would have their time together. Parting now was hard, but it was temporary, and tomorrow, they could start living their lives with a little less deception, a little less fear, and a lot more honesty. If felt good.
"I guess I can't call you Mrs. Evans yet," Max said softly, "but that's who you are to me from this point on. Liz Parker Evans, the first lady of Voya."
Liz sighed and kissed the man of her dreams.
|Part 34 | Index | Part 36|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|