Fanfic - Max/Liz
"The Quest"
Part 3
by Karen
Disclaimer: All Roswell characters are the property of UPN .
Summary: Max returns from a very long journey to find that everything and everyone has changed.
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: R
Author's Note: Flashbacks are in italics. Feedback always appreciated!
"I want to go."

Michael's voice was not pleading or suggesting. It was demanding.

Max circled the coffee table to regard his friend at a closer proximity. "I know you do," he acknowledged. "But I don't think I can keep the wormhole open long enough to get both of us through."

"Then send me," Michael demanded, pointing both of his forefingers into his own chest. "I want to go home. I want to see our world. Maxwell, you know I've dreamed about this my entire life."

Max glanced to Isabel, who was perched on the arm of Michael's battered couch. Her arms were crossed defiantly over her chest and her expression looked capable of killing.

"Michael, it might not be safe," Max rationalized. "I don't even know if I'll live through this."

"But why should you be the one to try?" Michael asked.

Attempting to keep this from turning into a full-fledged brawl, Max waited a beat to let the tension subside. "Because," he began calmly, "I need to find Tess. I need to find out what happened to my son. I've found a way to do that."

"So - what? It's your gift and you're going to keep it all to yourself?" Michael challenged. "This isn't football, Max. You can't threaten to be quarterback or you'll take your wormhole home."

Max gave a sigh and ran his hand through his hair. "I have to do this, Michael."

"Why? I could track down Tess, find your kid. Max, I have nothing to lose."

Max gave his friend a surprised glance. "You don't? What about Maria?"

Michael shrugged. "She knows this is a possibility, that I might leave some day. We talked about it. She understands." He fell silent for a moment. "Have you told Liz?"

Max looked to the floor. "Not yet. But I will." He looked at Isabel, who hadn't moved, then back to Michael. "I wanted to tell you two first."

Michael watched him silently, then gave a disgusted snort. "You're really doing this, aren't you? Nothing Iz or I could say would change your mind, would it?"

Max met his gaze, dark eyes to dark eyes, and slowly shook his head. Michael gave another disgusted snort, turned on his heals, grabbed his coat and left the apartment. He slammed the door so hard that a picture hanging on an adjacent wall crashed to the floor.

A deafening silence filled the small apartment. Max stared at the floor and Isabel stared at him. Finally, Max raised his head to regard his sister.

"Did you want to go, too?" he asked her, his voice quiet.

She shook her head. "No. I want to live in this world, Max."

"Are you mad at me for not giving in to him?"

She have a little, sarcastic laugh. "No, Max, I'm mad at you for many other things."

He raised his eyebrows slightly.

"I'm mad at you for being inconsiderate enough to dump the rest of us with the responsibility of covering for you." She rose to her feet and stood before him. Nearly the same height, she could look him straight in the eye. "Have you thought about that? Have you thought about what to tell Mom and Dad? You haven't, have you?"

Max looked to the floor again. She had a point.

"And what about what you have here?" Isabel continued. "What about Liz? You're willing to just leave her behind to go chasing after some floozy? You yourself said you didn't know if you'd live through this. Wonderful. What would that do to the rest of us?"

Max could feel rage emanating off her in waves. He paused a moment before he spoke again. "Isabel, I need you to try to understand -"

"Whatever," she interrupted. "Michael was right. I don't know why I'm wasting my breath. Have a good trip, Max." With that, she bent to pick up her coat and exited in Michael's footsteps…

Computers hadn't changed much in terms of usability in the time Max had been gone. He assumed that advances had been made to the processors based on the speed with which his searches returned results, but other than that, point-and-click functionality was still being used.

Max sat in the Zanesville public library most of the morning, accessing public telephone records, trying to track down his friends and family. It had been a long time - there was no telling where everyone had scattered. The natural place to start was in Roswell, NM. In the phone directory, he saw that his parents still lived at 6025 Murray Lane and that their phone number had remained the same. He gave a small smile as he thought briefly of his parents, but didn't allow his nostalgia to linger for long.

Jim Valenti still lived in the same house. Kyle Valenti lived on the same street. There were no listings for Amy or Maria Deluca, Michael Guerin, Isabel Evans or Liz Parker. A small frown creased Max's brow. His parents and the Valentis…that's all he'd been able to locate.

Something instinctive clicked in Max's head and he tried another search - Isabel Guerin.

Isabel Guerin lived on Hudson Street in Roswell. Max stared at the returned information and felt a sense of loss, of hopelessness. He guessed sometimes you just couldn't fight fate.

Max didn't want to see Michael and Isabel yet. Their parting had been too traumatic. He couldn't approach his parents. Not yet. He didn't know where Liz was…not that he was ready to see her, either.


Maria had been the one to watch him leave, to send him on his way with only positive thoughts. It was only fair that she should be the first to know he'd returned. But his internet search had not produced any results for her. Maybe she married. Maybe she had an unlisted number. Maybe she moved away…the marriage of Michael and Isabel may have been enough to send her packing half way across the country.

Half way across the country. Chicago.

Max's eyes brightened. The House of Blues, home to some of the best music in the country. Maria would definitely be into a place like Chicago. Quickly, his fingers moved over the keyboard and demanded in his new search. A few moments passed, then the results flashed on the screen. There were four Maria Delucas listed in Chicago. For the first time since his return, Max felt a little excited. He printed off the results and stuffed them into his pocket.

At the Greyhound station, Max was delighted to find out that Chicago was only 8 hours away, that he could be there by nightfall. Trying to suppress his eagerness, he paid the fare and boarded the bus.

Even through his excitement, his recovering body demanded rest. Though it was only a little after noon, he felt incredibly tired, but thankful that the coughing had apparently ceased. With any luck, he'd experienced the worst of the physical reaction to re-entering life on earth. Reaching into the backpack that Martha had given him, he pulled out the jacket, balled it up and stuffed it between his head and the window.

As the bus jerked to a slow start and pulled out of the station, Max thought of Hal and Martha Green. They had been incredibly kind people and Max had been extremely fortunate that they were his first human contacts. Hal and Martha helped reaffirm to Max that there were people in the universe who weren't out to harm him, who didn't want him dead…

"I don't know what's going to happen, Max." Tess's blue eyes were round, innocent-looking.

Max looked at her through the bars of the cell. "What do you mean?" He felt a sudden, sickening feeling in his gut.

"Maybe you shouldn't have come here."

Max tried to reach through the bars to touch her, but she backed out of his grasp. He looked at her quizzically and she relented and stepped closer to the bars. She ran her hand along his cheek, her eyes following the movement of her fingers.

"I did love you," she said, never meeting his gaze. "Once."

Max swallowed, not positive he trusted her to touch him.

Her voice dropped to the temperature of ice and her eyes snapped to his. "In another life. You shouldn't have come here."

Over her shoulder, Max saw sudden bright light, heard the clack of shoes on the metal floor of the brig. The sickening feeling in his gut caused acid to rise to his throat. He glanced desperately at Tess.

"Who is that?" he asked, his voice shaking.

Tess smiled and Max felt his blood run cold. "Come on, now, your majesty. You don't remember your old friend Khivar?"

"Dude, you okay?"

Max jerked awake, his heart slamming into his ribs. He sat up shakily and looked out of the bus window. The sun was starting to set on the horizon - they must be close to Chicago. His vision clearing from his sleep, he looked at the teenager seated beside him.

"Dude," the boy said, "you were saying all kinds of shit."

Oh, God. Max rubbed his eyes. "I was?"

"Yeah, must've been one hell of a dream." The kid shook his head and put his headphones on. Max thought that must have been a good sign - the kid didn't seem too concerned about the gibberish that Max had been spouting. A quick check of the seats around him proved that no one else looked worried, either. Max made a mental note to himself - avoid sleeping in public.

Within the hour, the bus pulled into the downtown terminal and dispelled its passengers into the warm summer night air. Max hoisted the backpack over his shoulder and surveyed the tall buildings. They reminded him of his trip to New York.

With Tess.

He frowned and started walking towards a Holiday Inn sign he saw in the distance. How long would it be before he had erased her from his mind entirely? How long was she going to haunt him? Max feared it was forever.

He secured a room for a week at the hotel. Once in his room he did a quick check of his stash and determined that he was still okay in the money department. He kicked off his shoes and pulled the list of addresses from his pocket. In the morning, he would start his search.

Maria Deluca #1 turned out to be a woman in her sixties who lived on the city's east side. Max loitered around her apartment complex and watched her movements for a day to make sure she was indeed Maria Deluca and not someone who was staying with Maria Deluca. Towards evening, he heard a neighbor address her as "Mrs. Deluca" and crossed her off his list.

Maria Deluca #2 was, surprisingly, a Notre Dame nun. Max gave a little laugh at the thought - Sister Maria - and crossed her name off as well.

Maria Deluca #3 was a college student that in some way did remind Max of the Maria he knew, although Maria #3 was dark-haired and short. But it was her character, her vitality that drew Max in. He followed her to school one day, watched her interacting with her friends, then he tracked her to the bar she worked at to obviously pay her bills. All of the patrons loved her. She sang, she danced, she entertained as she served them. She was a fun person. Sadly, Max crossed her off the list, too.

Despondence settling in, he wearily got up on his fourth day in the hotel to seek out Maria Deluca #4. If he didn't find her, he only had one option - get back on the bus, go to Roswell and deal with either his parents or Michael or Isabel.

He knew, of course, that was inevitable. He would have to confront them some time. But he'd feel better if he had Maria on his side first.

Max checked the address and located the apartment building it belonged to. He got a coffee from a street vendor and sat on a stoop across the street and waited. A glance at his watch told him it was just after eight in the morning. He sat there, his hope waning, until after nine.

Then he saw her.

She came out of the apartment building, a guitar case slung over her shoulder. She was wearing a pair of jean shorts and a tank top, her golden hair pulled into a knot atop her head. Her arms and legs were tanned a warm brown. On her feet were a pair of beaded sandals and she wore small, round sunglasses. She looked like a flower child of the sixties.

Max's breath caught in his chest as he watched her walk away from him. She was the most beautiful, welcoming thing he'd ever seen.

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