|"The Road Not Taken"|
Disclaimer: : Don't own them, wish I did. If I owned Roswell, I'd be a happy
camper. So the day it goes up for auction, I'm there.|
Summary: Set in the future. Liz is put in a difficult position when Max Evans walks back into her life after 12 years. Liz's POV.
Authors Note: To clear up confusion, I wrote this after "The Balance." I just never got around to submitting it until recently. So it's not quite up to speed.
|Everyone is scared of something. Fear seems to be one of the most defining
things about a person. When you think about it, it seems silly that we would
let fear control our lives. But we do.|
Some people are afraid of the water. So they go out of their way to avoid it. They don't swim, they don't get on boats, they only draw a couple inches of bath water.... But why are they so afraid of it? It's just water. It's one of the elements that is essential to life. Yet they fear it.
I think people are afraid of what they don't understand, or what they aren't familiar with. Some people are afraid of people who are different. They've never tried to understand who someone else is. Since they don't attempt to understand, they don't trust. So they fear.
Some people claim to have no fears, which is completely untrue. Everyone is scared. We don't always recognize our fears. Sometimes we deny them. We realize them too late.
What am I scared of? That's another story entirely.
What have I done? I could feel my heart in the pit of my stomach. Oh God, what have I done?
I had just betrayed someone who had trusted me with his life. I had just betrayed someone who had once meant so much to me. Who STILL meant so much to me.
I walked back to my laboratory slowly, dreading what I would find. In my laboratory, in Containment 1-B, was the only man I had ever loved.
And here I was, the source of his pain, physically and emotionally.
I walked in my laboratory and sank into my chair. I laid my head on the table and squeezed my eyes shut. I was a horrible person.
How could I have let myself sink so low? How could I go through with this? Hadn't Max gone through enough in his life?
But what about me? I sat up. He had been the source of my pain. In a way, Max had locked me in my own prison. A prison I hadn't left in over ten years.
I felt my anger coming back. Why should I feel any remorse? It wasn't like I was the one who had turned him in. I wasn't the person who brought him in here. It was his own fault. He shouldn't have gotten caught. He should have been smarter.
I couldn't believe I was thinking this, but I was. The Liz Parker who I had been in high school would never have felt that way about anyone, especially Max. The Liz Parker I used to be cared about people and didn't wish pain on anyone.
That's when my tears started to fall. Not because I was angry, and not because I had betrayed Max. I cried because somewhere along the line, I ceased to exist. I became the shell of Liz Parker.
I opened the door to the Containment room. Max looked up from his position on the floor. "Here," I said, tossing a hospital gown at him, "Get changed."
I turned around to let him dress in privacy. Finally, he walked out and took a seat in a chair. "Ok," I said, looking at my sheet. "Basic information first. Name?"
He gave me a bemused look. "Come on Liz, how long have you known me?"
"Fine." I quickly filled out everything I knew. "Go stand on the scale so I can take your measurements." Max quickly obeyed.
We completed most of the tests in silence. I measured every inch of Max, blushing whenever my fingers grazed his bare skin. I took blood samples, urine samples, saliva samples... every kind of body fluid I could get. I put them in the refrigerator so I could analyze them later. I finished the tests quickly. Looking at my watch, I saw that it was only one o'clock. I had four hours left.
I sat down in a chair. Max appeared uncertain as to what he was supposed to do. "Should I go back in the room?" he asked. I shrugged.
"You can stay out here if you want to."
Max thought for a moment, ultimately deciding that anywhere was better than his cage. So he took a seat opposite from me. For a little while, we sat in silence. Finally, I asked the question that had been bothering since I found out he was here. "How did they catch you?"
Max was silent, as if deciding whether or not to tell me. He shrugged. "I was teaching high school science in California. One day, I was called into the main office. There were two men waiting there. They asked me to accompany them. They said something about Isabel being hurt. I wasn't thinking. I just went with them. The next thing I know, we're heading out into the desert.."
"Why didn't you use your powers?"
Max was quiet. "I don't know," he said, "I guess I didn't want to hurt them. But maybe it was something else. Maybe it's because I stopped caring."
I looked at Max for a few moments. "So why don't you use them now?" I asked.
Max put his hand on the back of his neck. "They knocked me out and when I woke up, I had bandages on my head. I thought it was from the wounds, but then I realized that all of my powers were gone. I felt differently. They're controlling it somehow."
I nodded. "They're probably stopping whatever causes the synapses and neurons to send signals."
Max smiled slightly. "Leave it to you to use 'synapses' in a conversation."
I smiled slightly. "I haven't really changed."
"Yes you have." Max looked at me curiously for a moment. "I can't place it, but you are different. You're still Liz. You've just... grown up, I guess. More reserved, maybe."
"Is that a bad thing?"
Max just shrugged. "I'm hardly one to judge. Besides. Who knows the difference between good and bad anymore?"
I rested my elbows on the table. "I'm not the enemy, Max."
His words stung, but they rang true. He observed my face for any signs of a reaction. I kept my face as blank as possible. He shrugged. "I don't know what to believe anymore. I've been in here for God knows how long. I don't know what's happened to Isabel and Michael. I don't know if my parents are alright. I don't know what happened to my house or my job. And worst of all, for the first time in my life, I feel completely disconnected."
"From you." He looked at me. "It's been a long time, Liz, I know. But I always believed that no matter what, we would have a bond. Maybe we aren't meant to be together, but I truly believed that no matter what, we were there for each other. Maybe it's my fault that it got this far."
"How could it ever be your fault, Max?"
"I hurt you. My own fears and insecurities hurt you. I thought I was protecting you. I was really running." He leaned forward. "I can't make up for the past. I can't change the future. But I can apologize for hurting you. Can you accept my apology?"
I didn't say anything for a moment. I looked him in the eyes. I had forgotten how brown they were. How expressive. I saw a thousand emotions and thoughts run through his head in the ten seconds it took me to respond. Fear. Pain. Hope. Desperation. Loneliness.
I exhaled, not realizing I had been holding my breath. "It's two o'clock. Time for you to go back in your room. I have paperwork to finish." That was all I needed to say. He nodded and walked back, without a word.
Love means never having to say you're sorry. I heard that in a movie. I'm not sure whether I believe it or not. In my experience, love means saying you're sorry all the time. I'm sorry I'm late. I'm sorry I didn't call. I'm sorry I hurt you. I'm sorry, but I don't love you anymore. A thousand apologies, all meaning the same thing. I'm sorry I am who I am.
People go into love thinking their partner will never change, but change is inevitable. Seasons change. Fashions change. People grow older and grayer. Soon they're dying and wondering where the time went. A hundred people might come to your funeral, but maybe fifty care that you're dead, and only ten will cry.
Am I pessimistic? Yes. Why shouldn't I be? People suck. They hurt you and manipulate you. They serve their own purposes. They scheme and maneuver, twist and lie. I'm no different. That's the worst part.
Ice cream. Good for what ails you. I was in desperate need of two scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream with chocolate sprinkles.
The sun was hot and the day was hotter. My rental car had no air conditioning, so I decided to park on the road and sit on the hood, eating my ice cream.
Thank God it was Friday. I wouldn't have to go back into the lab until Monday. The joys of government work. No Max until Monday. Good thing? Sure. Bad thing? Probably. Things were never clear cut with him.
"Liz?" The voice broke me from my thoughts. I turned my head towards the sound of the voice and lifted my hand to block the sun. I saw a mass of blonde hair before me that could only belong to one person.
There stood Isabel Evans, in all of her majestic glory. She looked the same as she did in high school, only older. 'My God,' I thought, 'Do things never change?'
I wasn't particularly happy to see her, and from the expression on her face, she wasn't thrilled either. Why would she be? Isabel Evans hated me with a passion. I wasn't afraid of her, but the fact that she could kill me with a touch did cross my mind once or twice.
"I heard you were back," she said. "Didn't really believe you'd have the nerve to show up here."
I collected myself and stood up. I walked over to her, trying to show her that I wasn't afraid. I'm sure I was very intimidating, seeing as she was about 6 inches taller than me.
"I did grow up here," I said. "I'm surprised to see you here. Shouldn't you be in New York, terrorizing a more diverse group of people?"
She squinted at me and tilted her head. "So what are you doing back, really?"
"That is none of your business." I was no fool. What was I supposed to say? I'm back in Roswell to perform experiments on your alien brother, who, ironically, I used to date? That would go over so well.
"Doesn't matter if you don't tell me," she said, "I already know some of it. Rumor has it that little Miss Liz Parker is working for the government now. Should have known this day would come. I knew you would be our downfall. Max should have let you die back in high school."
I flinched. Not at her comments, but at Max's name. She noticed my reaction, as expected. "So tell me Liz. Just between friends. What do they REALLY keep down there in Area 51?"
I blinked a few times and put on my best poker face (not that it would help much with someone who could probably feel my every thought). Saying anything would just get me in trouble, so I said nothing. She nodded. "They've already got you, haven't they? You're one of them now. To think I actually once trusted you! I'm going to cut to the chase right now. Max is gone and I have the feeling that you know something about his disappearance. I want to know right now what you know."
"I don't know what you're talking about. I haven't seen Max in-"
"Don't give me that crap, Liz!" She was yelling now. "It's a little too coincidental that Max disappears and you reappear. He is my brother. I will not let my family be torn apart! Now I don't think you're a bad person Liz, and I don't think you'd want Max hurt." Her ice queen facade melted and for the first time in years, I saw the true face of Isabel Evans- sad, lonely, and just wanting to be normal. "I just want my brother back, and if there is any chance that you can help him... well, I'm willing to forget all of the Hell you brought on me and my family. I just want Max safe."
I thought about telling her. Isabel was right. I was a horrible person. I was imprisoning someone I was supposed to always care about. It took every ounce of energy I had to respond. "I'm sorry Isabel, but I have no idea where Max is."
Her shoulders slumped. "I didn't think so. I hoped... well it doesn't matter now. Max is gone and I'll probably never see him again. I didn't really think you had anything to do with it... But like I said, it doesn't matter anymore. Nothing does."
I watched Isabel leave, shoulders slumped, composure wavering. For once, she didn't seem confident. For once, she wasn't so guarded and holier-than-thou. For the first time, Isabel Evans, whoever she really was, seemed almost human. Almost like me.
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