|"The Max Factor"|
Disclaimer: Characters and story idea created by Melinda Metz and the
producers and scriptwriters of the TV show "Roswell."|
Summary: This is a continuation of fanfic based on the plot of the "Roswell" episode called "The End of the World." My version!
|"Okay, okay, let me get this straight---"|
"Maria, will you lower your voice!" Liz hissed.
"There's no one here but us," Alex said, looking around his bedroom.
"You mean to tell me that some guy who looked like an older Max comes through a hole in time---"
"---to beg you to save his planet by screwing around on Max."
Liz sighed. "Basically, yeah."
Maria looked down expressively, then back up.
"It sounds like a B-movie, Liz."
Alex looked away form the TV to say, "The 'B' doesn't mean bad, just low budget."
Liz looked back and forth between the two of them.
"I don't believe you guys. I'm serious. Did we not experience the last six months together? Listen to me!" She threw a pillow at Alex.
"Liz, come on!"
Maria held up her hands. "Okay, here's my take on Future Max. One, he was telling the truth, and you should tell your Max. Two, it was an alien enemy trying to trick you and you should tell your Max. Or---"
"Or three," Alex piped in, "you digested too much Tabasco sauce in memory of you-know-who and it caught up with you, but there's no need to tell him."
"Alex could be right, Liz."
"You have been consuming a lot of Tabasco lately. Hm. I wonder why."
Liz stared at them and felt like screaming.
"What's wrong with both of you? I've tried to put the alien invasion behind me. I broke up with the love of my life, but it doesn't stop. Something horrible has happened to me and all I hear from my two best friends is sarcasm and jokes." She stood up to leave. "Well, I'm sick of it."
Alex blocked her path.
"All right, all right. I'm sorry. Don't leave! Just sit down."
She did, and Maria bit her lip pensively as Alex continued, "It's just that...for me, at least...I'm enjoying being just another unpopular sixteen year old human schoolboy. I've actually missed this." He paused. "Isabel is kinda like the warrior queen now. You know what I'm saying? I mean, I can't talk to her because she shuts me out, and I'm tired of it. She, Max and Michael are doing their thing. They don't seem to need us, and right now that suits me just fine."
Liz was about to speak, but he held up his hands with a small smile. "No, no, I was watching 'Angel', but you made me miss the main part, so now you're gonna hear me out. And you too," he added when Maria started to speak.
"Liz, this is my sincere advice. The alleged Future Max said he couldn't come back. This is good. Tell them all what happened, what you thought you saw, what you thought you heard. Describe it to a tee, leaving nothing out. Then walk away and let Present Max handle it. They'll figure out what to do."
Alex hugged Liz briefly and said, "I'm gonna get some cookie 'n' cream ice cream. You guys want any?"
Maria nodded. "Right here."
When he left, she said to Liz, "Well, he's right on target. I couldn't have put it better myself."
Liz was silent, glumly picking at the notebook in front of her.
"Liz, I'm sorry I haven't been supportive. It's just...any mention of this stuff makes me think of him and I get really, really annoyed."
"I know I've been, like, campaigning for Max and he is a really nice guy. But his issues are so beyond major...that I think Alex is right. Let's just be human."
Liz closed her eyes against Maria's concerned look and lay back on the bed. (But he kissed just like him.)
Liz hardly got any sleep for the next two nights. Every sound in the dark made her jump, so she kept the bathroom light on, her door wide open, and her windows locked.
On the third morning she got dressed and stared at her reflection, feeling lightheaded. She dragged herself down to the kitchen and found her mother sipping tea. It smelled like Kiwi Strawberry this time.
"Mom, I don't feel well. I want to stay home."
"What's wrong, honey."
"I didn't get any sleep and my stomach's upset." Liz slouched down in a chair and wrinkled her nose. "That stuff's strong. What did you do? Use two bags?"
"Um-hum." Mrs. Parker felt her forehead. "Not hot. Well, if you really feel that bad, don't go. You don't have any tests today, do you?"
"Okay." After she called the school, she said, "Well, I gotta go. I'll call you later."
She kissed her daughter, who then stood at the door, watching her drive away. Liz ate some breakfast, watched the morning news, and then decided to go back to bed. She was halfway up the stairs when the hair on her neck stood up.
The familiar humming noise had begun somewhere above her head. Surely enough, when she looked up there was a big white spot of light.
A scream got caught in her throat as two hands reached out and held her head, as the voice rasped, "I'm sorry. This is the only way. No time..."
Liz went to school after all, but nausea kept her in the nurse's office for a while. After insisting that she had recovered, she sped-walked down the empty hall, eager to find out if Maria had what she needed. So intent was she on her task that she didn't notice Max Evans leaning against her locker until it was too late. Turning around would have been too obvious to that penetrating look he was pinning her with now. Was that some alien trick, or was it just that he looked so good right now that she...?
"Why aren't you in class?" Liz blurted.
He didn't blink. "Are you going to report me?"
(Tell him. Tell him. Tell him.)
"No," she said, backing up a step. He noticed and wasn't pleased.
"Liz, I want to talk to you."
Liz didn't like his tone of voice. Or the fact that she was still drawn to him like a rosebud to the sun. (Why don't you tell him??)
"Because I have something to do."
"You've been having 'something to do' for three weeks. How much longer do I have to wait?" Although his voice was demanding, his eyes were half pleading.
Liz swallowed back a confession, and said, "Okay. 7 o'clock on the roof."
"I'll be there." He walked away just as the bell rang.
After school Liz ran to the nearly empty bleachers. Maria and Alex were so engrossed in conversation that they didn't hear her.
"Maria!" she called out shrilly, making them jump.
"Liz, please, you've got to calm down."
"Yeah, Liz, Maria filled me in, and all I gotta say is I got a lot to say. This is not good, not good."
"Yeah, Liz, something's really wrong here."
Liz blew her breath out hard. "No kidding! Did you find it, Maria?"
Maria looked guiltily at Alex, who shrugged, and then she took hold of her friend's shoulders.
"Listen to me, please. This whole thing is just totally bizarre and spooky. I mean, doesn't it seem strange that a guy who supposedly loves you, in the future as well as the present, would scare you this way -- with two chopped off hands in the air, grabbing your head and making you see apocalyptic visions, and then dumping it all in your lap. 'Oh save us, save us!' Why are you going through with this when it makes no sense?"
Alex sighed impatiently. "Scientifically and ethically it's muddy waters anyway, Liz. Even if this is legit, how do we know what's really being changed if you do this?
"Alex, what are you saying?" Liz snapped, as he jumped down to stand beside her.
"I'm saying how do we know that altering history to benefit their planet is right. What if Max's race has been persecuting the Skins or other beings? How do we know that destiny, as it stands now, won't save a dozen other planets compared to his one?"
"He let me see it all!"
"Liz," Maria cut in, "he could probably make you see whatever he wants! This isn't right. Tell the real Max."
"No! And don't you dare tell him! Give me the number, Maria." She held out her hand. "I know you have it, and now I'm pretty sure you didn't even use it like I asked you to."
Maria shook her head and started to pass her a piece of paper, which Alex snatched.
"Oh, and I would like add this. What's up with the number eight? Eight years into the future, 'eight billion lives.' Did he say you had to carry out this 'mission' at eight minutes after eight? Did he click his heels eight times before he disappeared? Seems a little too fairy tale-ish to me."
Without another word Liz snatched the paper from him and ran down the steps and across the field, while they watched with worry. When she was gone, Alex and Maria exchanged looks and ran back into school.
7 o'clock that night on her roof, Liz was a tightly wrapped bundle of nerves. Almost every sound made her jump, and she wished she was somebody else...anybody else.
She nearly choked on a sip of water, then walked over to look down on her visitor. The image of their first kiss immediately came to mind.
"Come on up."
She backed up and felt unprepared for the wonderful sight of Max, alone with her, on the roof. He just stood there, unmoving, waiting, his eyes gently entering hers and caressing her heart. Oh, the possibilities were endless! She turned away to hide what she felt. (No, I can't be me. For his sake, for his people, I'm just Bette Davis.)
"Are you thirsty?"
"You could say that."
She sat down and he followed her.
"What did you want to say to me?"
"Just that I miss you."
Liz trembled inside. No man should have eyes like his. They could make 1 plus 1 equal 3. (God, help me do this!)
"Hm. I don't think that's all your missing. Correct me if I'm wrong, but did you or did you not kill Courtney last Tuesday?"
Max looked at her searchingly.
"Why are you asking me this? You were there. You know what happened."
"What happened was a school dance at The Glass Planet that I missed that night. A nice club full of teenage people like myself just being alive and jamming to some music and not worrying about tomorrow."
"Liz, Courtney was about to---"
"About to cut Michael's jugular. Yes, I know, and I am glad that you stopped her. She was a Skin, a species apparently at war with yours -- but not with mine. Let's make note of this."
"Liz, why are you acting this way?"
"Well, my point is, Max, that you need to be focused on the issues at hand - your own survival and finding out who you really are---"
Agitated, Max stood up, pulling Liz with him.
"No. You're still pushing me away. I didn't come here to talk about all that. Now I want you to listen to my point. I need you, Liz. I can't stand this separation between us. Don't you understand? I'm not me without you."
"Max." She tried to pull away, and he hugged her, whispering,
"No, don't. Please!"
After about half a minute she put her arms around him, unable to help herself, her emotions churning at his intensity. She breathed in his scent, and he tilted her face up to his.
"Elizabeth Jennifer Parker, I love you now and forever. You're part of me. This isn't a schoolboy crush I'm feeling and you know that. But I can understand your need to step back. I don't even want you involved in...whatever's going to happen. But I need---" He swallowed and looked down for a moment. "I need to be with you somehow, in some way. Do you love me?"
Liz stared at him transfixed, on the verge of giving him anything he asked of her.
"You said you did. Liz, do you still love me?"
Her eyes must have told him she was about to confess it, because he kissed her then to make certain. Everything inside her became honey, heat, and springtime until she was sure she'd do anything to cherish this love she felt. That meant rejecting it.
She broke the connection, spinning away from him and the heat turned into pain. She looked at the clock, but she couldn't wait anymore. Max was breathing a little heavily when she turned slowly to him again, finding his face troubled.
"Liz, something's wrong. You wouldn't let me all the way in, but I...I saw...I don't know what, but---"
"Then let me fill you in. Max, I can't be a part of your life. I've lost myself during these past months. I care for you, but it's not worth losing my life. And I'm never going to be safe with you. I'll never be able to follow my own dreams with you." She steeled herself. "Also...while I was away this summer, I---"
"I met someone. We just started hanging out. He's a normal guy, and I need that now." Liz's eyes teared up, mirroring the ones they were looking into. "I want that now, Max. And I don't want...you."
Alarmed by his expression, Liz turned away again, saying quickly in a low voice, "I'll always care about you, but you, Michael, Isabel, and...Tess need to unite and test your destiny. Like I said, you need to find out who you are. I mean, your 'mother' didn't really tell you much."
She turned and Max was only two inches away.
"Right?" she squeaked, as he wrapped himself around her again.
"Liz, don't do this to me, please! Are you trying to kill me?" He plunged his hands into her hair while he desperately searched her eyes. "Are you lying to me? I have to know!"
Liz shut her eyes tight and grabbed his wrists.
"No! Max you can't invade me like this. You have no right. I don't want it! I don't love you!"
He spun away, nearly cursing, and walked to the ledge.
"I'm not sure now which is worse: that you're lying to me or that you're telling me the truth."
"If you hang around my room tonight, you'll find out," she said coolly.
Max stared at her for a long moment -- so long that Liz thought she would tear her hair out. Then her heart broke when one side of his mouth curled up unpleasantly.
"In that case, it doesn't matter."
He leaped to the sidewalk and left without a backward glance.
Liz sat down heavily, resting her head in her hands. She heard a car pull up and then someone ringing her doorbell. It came too late and, as it turned out, was unnecessary.
Because Bette never needed a co-star to put on a good show.
|Part 1 | Index | Part 3|
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