|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.
Author's Note: Flashbacks are in italics. Feedback always appreciated!
|Max followed Maria for another day, watched from a distance as she met people who were familiar to her only. She kissed a young man on the cheek at a local coffee house before she sat down, crossed her long legs and pulled some charts from a portfolio. She laughed with the man and gave him another kiss before they parted. Max followed her to a salon where she had her nails manicured and polished. He smiled to himself as she shrieked in joy at the new color the manicurist had chosen for her. Some things never changed. He watched her stop at an open-air market to pick up fruits and vegetables. She held each piece to her nose before placing it in her basket.|
Eventually he decided he couldn't stalk her forever. From his stoop across the street, he watched her return to her apartment as the daylight hours waned. Once the door had closed behind her, he looked upward to the third floor and waited for light to shine through her windows. It was his cue.
In the hallway outside of her apartment, Max paced nervously. Through the door, he heard her talking to someone, but it appeared to be a one-sided conversation - was she on the phone? Then the talking ceased and he heard music filtering through the door. It was her stereo, but shortly Maria's lovely voice joined the recording. Max closed his eyes, savoring the beautiful tones of her singing.
He popped his eyes open and knocked on her door. Suddenly his hands were sweaty and he realized that he hadn't thought of something clever to say. "Hi, honey, I'm home," he laughed nervously, then knocked again, louder. A few moments passed, then the door was jerked open.
"Can I help you?" she asked.
Their eyes met and Max found that he couldn't say anything, clever or otherwise. He watched her hazel eyes go from unemotional to recognizing. She gave a noise that was half cry, half laugh, then her eyes rolled back in her head and she slumped towards the floor…
Max caught Maria's limp form by the shoulders and hoisted her into his arms. He entered her apartment and kicked the door closed behind them. As he walked towards her couch, he realized he could smell her jasmine perfume and he briefly closed his eyes to savor the sensation. He'd forgotten how Maria smelled. Of course, she had always dabbled in the art of aroma therapy, so she'd frequently smelled like many different things.
Max lowered her body to the couch, cradled her head with a flower-shaped throw pillow. Kneeling on the floor before her, he ran the back of his hand along the side of her face, trying to rouse her.
"Maria," he said softly. "Wake up, Maria."
In a few minutes, she started to stir. She rubbed her face, then opened her eyes. She glanced around unknowingly for a few moments, then her eyes settled on Max. Drawing in a sharp breath, she sat up quickly and drew her knees to her chest.
"Who are you?" she demanded.
Max blinked. "Max."
"Are you a shapeshifter?" Her voice quivered.
Max shook his head.
"Are you some other kind of alien? Because Max is…" Her voice trailed off and tears started to roll down her smooth, flawless cheeks. "…dead"
Max withdrew, then he gave a gentle smile, trying to reassure her. "I'm not dead, Maria. I'm back. Honest." She didn't look convinced. He struggled to think of some trivial thing they had in common. "When you first met me, you were afraid I was going to eat you," he offered. "I nicknamed you Peapod."
She stopped sniffling, her eyes round. She appeared to be studying his face and he met her gaze, his own unwavering.
Then she burst into tears and threw her arms around him. She hugged him so tightly that he choked.
"Sorry!" she said and only released him enough so that he could breathe. "It's really you," she said against his ear. "It's really you, Max Evans."
Max nodded and squeezed her a little tighter. He felt some tension in his throat, but he didn't want to cry in front of her. Having someone who cared about him in his arms, warm and vital - it nearly split his heart in two. He wove his hands into her soft hair and buried his face against her neck.
Maria pulled back and took his face between her hands. She looked at him with blurry eyes and gave him a caring smile. Then she pulled his lips to hers and gave him a warm, tender kiss.
Max had forgotten the feel of human lips beneath his and his head reeled with the sensation. But her lips weren't the ones he longed for. The kiss was over quickly and Maria was hugging him again. Eventually she released him and, holding both of his hands, pulled him to his feet.
"Look at you!" she said as she sized him up. She patted his tummy, grimaced. "Oh, you're skinny." With that, she turned and went into her kitchenette and started to pull stuff from the refrigerator.
Max gave a little laugh. So far the women of earth had been hell-bent on feeding him. Not that he minded…
"Maria," he said. "Later."
She looked over her shoulder. "Hell, no! You're about to waste away!" She motioned to a barstool at the kitchen counter and he obediently slid onto it. "I'm vegetarian these days," she apologized.
Max gave a shrug. "Maria, really-"
She turned and cut him off with a raised finger. "There will be none of that. I'm going to feed you, end of story."
He laughed again. "Okay, Mother Deluca."
She stopped, her smile fading. She shook her head slowly. "I can't believe it's you, Max. I can't believe you made it back."
He nodded his head solemnly. "Me neither."
She studied him for a moment, then reached across the bar and ran her hand through his hair. "I'm giving you a haircut, too," she announced, which produced another laugh from Max.
He endured all of her mothering, rather enjoyed it, actually. After they ate a delicious dinner of rice and vegetables stir fried to perfection, they sat on her balcony and looked at the city lights twinkling around them. The city was alive, vibrant, much like Maria herself.
Max discovered that Maria had a boyfriend - his name was Jacob - and that she fronted a band. Jacob (she called him Jake) was the drummer. Max smiled at that. The band made enough money for Maria to pay her bills and not starve to death. When she felt like it, she took a college class or two. If she didn't feel like it, she didn't. If she needed extra cash, she went back to her old waitress trade, sans antenna, she was happy to report. Max laughed, remembering the silver headpieces the poor Crashdown waitresses had been subjected to.
Sadly, Max also found out that his father had passed away a few years prior. Maria didn't remember how exactly, but it had been of natural causes. Amy Deluca had married Jim Valenti and Maria had a half-sister named Allison who was three years old. Kyle wasn't married, but had become a deputy in the sheriff's office.
Maria never mentioned Michael or Isabel and Max didn't ask.
"Tell me about Antar," Maria prompted, sipping from her bottle of water.
Max's expression fell and he looked down at his hands. "It wasn't welcoming," he said softly.
Maria eyed him for a moment and decided she wouldn't press him for details. He didn't appear like he wanted to talk about it. But there was one thing she needed to know. "So, did you find him? I didn't notice you toting a baby stroller."
Max looked at her and gave her a half-frown. "My son is dead."
Tess tried to wiggle out of his grasp. "I'm leaving," he said. "I'm taking him with me. Get him." "I can't," she protested, still struggling. Max gave her body a good jerk and she stopped squirming. "You're hurting me," she said, her voice small. "I don't care," he replied. "Tell me where my son is." From behind him, Max heard the sirens, heard many voices approaching. Soon they would find him. Soon they would kill him. "He's dead," Tess said flatly. "Killed." Max stopped, nearly released his grip on her. "You're lying." She shrugged, unconcerned. "Why would I lie?" He looked deep into her emotionless eyes and he knew it was true. Slowly, he dropped his hands. "How?" She shrugged again. Max started to raise his hand to her and she quickly spoke. "Khivar. I was to turn the baby over to him." All of this time, all of this space…only to find out all of his efforts were in vain. Max suddenly felt like he was going to vomit. He'd alienated everyone and everything…for nothing. The voices were suddenly dangerously close. With his last Antarian act, Max slapped Tess as hard as he could, sending her sprawling on the red ground, then raised his hand to the sky to open the wormhole…
Tess tried to wiggle out of his grasp.
"I'm leaving," he said. "I'm taking him with me. Get him."
"I can't," she protested, still struggling.
Max gave her body a good jerk and she stopped squirming.
"You're hurting me," she said, her voice small.
"I don't care," he replied. "Tell me where my son is."
From behind him, Max heard the sirens, heard many voices approaching. Soon they would find him. Soon they would kill him.
"He's dead," Tess said flatly. "Killed."
Max stopped, nearly released his grip on her. "You're lying."
She shrugged, unconcerned. "Why would I lie?"
He looked deep into her emotionless eyes and he knew it was true. Slowly, he dropped his hands. "How?"
She shrugged again. Max started to raise his hand to her and she quickly spoke. "Khivar. I was to turn the baby over to him."
All of this time, all of this space…only to find out all of his efforts were in vain. Max suddenly felt like he was going to vomit. He'd alienated everyone and everything…for nothing.
The voices were suddenly dangerously close. With his last Antarian act, Max slapped Tess as hard as he could, sending her sprawling on the red ground, then raised his hand to the sky to open the wormhole…
Maria watched the conflicting emotions cross Max's face and she put a hand on his knee to comfort him. He gave her a weak smile.
"Albuquerque," she said.
Max raised his eyebrows.
"Liz is in Albuquerque."
Max started to open his mouth to say something, but found that he couldn't ask anything that he wanted to.
"I'll write the address down," Maria offered with an amused smile. "No, she's not married. No, she doesn't have a boyfriend."
Max gave a little laugh and looked to the balcony floor in embarrassment.
"Yes, I think you should see her," Maria added. She glanced towards the horizon, which was starting to lighten with the rising sun. "But for now, you and I have been up all night." She stood and stretched, then reached for his hand. "Come to bed with me."
Max's gaze snapped to hers and his mouth dropped open. "Maria, I don't think-"
"I'm not going to jump your bones," she clarified with a giggle. "It's just that I can't believe you're here, and if I wake up in the morning and you aren't there I'm going to think I'm crazy." Then her expression softened. "Come to bed with me," she repeated, her voice soft. "Let me hold my friend tonight."
Max relented and in the bedroom Maria spooned him from behind. She hummed softly as she fell asleep. As Max fell asleep, he thought of Liz and cried silently.
|Part 3 | Index|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|