FanFic - Max/Liz
"The Road Not Taken"
Part 3
by MJ1071
Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated in any way with The WB, Melinda Metz or Jason Katmis. Being Australian, I have no idea about US laws , but I'm hoping because this story is just an attempt by a hopeless Dreamgirl to make herself feel better means nobody will sue me. That and the fact that I have nothing of value anyway, so trying would be an exercise in futility.
Summary: After 'Destiny' - Liz walks away from Max or does she? Author's Notes: This is a 'time- line/alternate reality' type of story (a lá Sliding Doors). I would recommend reading parts 1 and 2 prior to this. I guess I should mention Mazzy Star is a real band (a really great one in fact) - their music exactly fits my perception of Maria and Alex's band.
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: PG-13
~ The Past ~
Max continued to stare after Liz until he could no longer distinguish her from the landscape below. As each step took her further away from him, he felt a little more of himself die. His entire world was crumbling into dust.

He was startled when Tess asked him what they needed to do now. He hadn't heard her come up beside him. Looking around he realised that Isabel had also joined him and Michael on the mesa. The numbness in his heart was spreading through his entire body. Max looked at Tess. He had no answer to offer her, to the others or.himself. Turning from them, his gaze and thoughts returned to the path Liz had taken - away from him.

The next thing Max knew he was sitting in the passenger seat of the Jeep with Isabel driving them back towards Roswell. He was grateful when Michael insisted Tess stay with him. He didn't notice the hopeful gaze she shot at him, as she reluctantly climbed out of the Jeep and followed Michael into his building.

Tess's look hadn't escaped Isabel's attention. She narrowed her eyes as she watched Tess disappear into the building. Was the girl insane? Had she been experiencing a different reality from the rest of them? One look at Max should have been enough for her to work out he really loved Liz. Why wouldn't she just give it up? Isabel shook her head. The next instance she shivered as a little bolt of fear shot through her. How far would Tess go to ensure the past repeated itself?


~ The Present ~

Maria slammed down the phone. Then for good measure picked it up and threw it against the wall. She knew Liz wouldn't have brought this up after all this time if it wasn't important but.GOD! she was so angry.

For the first time in ages, no years, Maria had been feeling like she was in control of her life. No 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' pining about a certain Czechoslovakian guy. No Pollyanna fantasies about a husband, two spiky haired boys and a house in the 'burbs. No dreams where Michael was driving her insane, running his hands up her body, kissing her senseless that invariably caused her to wake screaming his name. Oh God, his lips, those hands!

Maria took a deep breathe, her anger spent. Bending down she picked up the scattered pieces of the phone. Damn! Who was she kidding? One conversation and here she was daydreaming about making out with him.

Looking at the pieces of the phone in her hand, Maria realised she had better go find her cell phone. She needed to talk to Alex.


Liz sat in bed thinking about Maria's reaction. Calm, way too calm. She wondered whether she should have called Alex first, wishing for about the millionth time she lived closer to them both.

The Whits had gone the way of most garage bands. To this day, Maria said it was the drummer's fault. For a while both Maria and Alex avoided the subject of music altogether, convinced they would never see eye to eye. After the others left Roswell though, they both seemed to draw comfort from their music and it wasn't long before they were collaborating and writing songs together that blew everyone who heard them away.

After graduation they were both accepted at NYU, but they continued to focus on their music. Finally the hard work paid off when a music exec heard them performing at a little club and offered them a recording contract on the spot. The down side was, after they got the contract, they decided they really needed to be on the West Coast and relocated to L.A.

That was just over 2 years ago and now Mazzy Star, as they called themselves, was on the verge of becoming really successful. Liz knew how important it was for Maria, in particular, to have music as an outlet. No matter how bitter her words, the sorrow she felt over losing Michael somehow made it's way into their music. 'Rhymes of an Hour' made Liz cry every time she heard it, knowing why and for whom it was written.

Liz dialled Alex's number and listened as the call connected. Engaged. Damn. Liz hung up and tried again. No luck. Liz knew Alex had a habit of taking his phone off the hook when he was in a writing frenzy, then forgetting to replace it. Looking at the alarm clock on her bedside table, Liz realised it was pretty late. She'd have to try again in the morning.

She should probably try to get to sleep. Liz felt her heart start to pound in her chest. Maria thought she was crazy, but she had to try this. She had to know if what she was really feeling a connection to Max. And the only way she could think of doing that was to run an experiment.

Taking a deep breath to help her calm down, Liz turned off her bedside lamp, shuffled down under her covers and closed her eyes. With an effort she tried to clear her mind. As she focused on the sound of her own breathing, she felt all the anxiety of the past few days slip away from her. When she felt herself relax, she reached out with her mind and tried to find his. 'Think about Max', she chanted in her head, 'nothing but Max.'


Dale heard Liz switch off her lamp and realised she must be turning in for the night.

Quietly backing away from Liz's bedroom door, she made her way through the lounge to the front door and silently let herself out. Once out of the apartment building, she headed down the street.

When Dale reached the 24hr laundromat she and Liz frequented, she hurried inside and towards the public phone that was wedged awkwardly between 2 driers.

Her hands shook as she punched in the number. It answered on the first ring.


~ The Past ~
Tess watched, mute and motionless, as Max turned and practically ran out of Michael's apartment.

She was still standing in the middle of the lounge room when she heard the engine of the Jeep turn over and accelerate out of earshot.

The anger building inside of her had little to do with losing the battle with Liz over Max's affections. She had failed.


Max pulled into the curb, cut the Jeep's engine and stared down the street at the Crashdown. In the darkness is was easy to stay seated in the drivers seat and stare up at the garish lights outside the café. He admitted to himself he was stalling.

In the 2 weeks since Liz broke up with him, Max had become familiar with this particular scenario. It repeated often, like every night. He wanted to go talk to her so badly; he just couldn't seem to make himself leave the Jeep. But that was going to change.tonight. A hint of a smile drifted across his serious features as he imagined Izzy's reaction if he came home without seeing Liz.

The events of the past few months had indelibly changed them all. Isabel's sea change, however, was the most obvious. Max was aware of how close to the surface her emotions were at the moment. That edge she'd always had to her, even with him sometimes, was gone.

Max sighed. He wished he could like the changes he felt in himself as much. He'd recovered physically from his experience with Pierce and the white room. Emotionally was another matter. Isabel had pressed him talk about it, but he just.couldn't. The abject terror he felt creep up his spine when she even mentioned it was horrifying. He just wanted to bury the whole experience as deep as he could. He'd deal with it.later. And it wasn't like he didn't have anything else to think about.

He had an assortment of life changing events available for consideration these days. Take your pick. Max felt an all too familiar sensation of panic sweep through him. He was the leader of this.this mission. Being the leader wasn't the problem. His entire life, Max had always felt responsible for the others, always felt it WAS his job to decide what they had to do. It was something about himself he'd never questioned. But how was he supposed to help his people, when he had no real idea what that involved. Frustration replaced Max's panic. By recognising the evil within? Heaps of help that. 'Vague much?' he thought sarcastically.

And say they actually managed to accomplish their mission - what then? How did they know it wasn't already too late to help anyway? If it wasn't too late, how would they return to their own planet? Would they be given the choice to stay? Max wondered if he would be able to leave Liz. If she chose to come with him, would it be allowed? Would they recognise their 'other' family - even themselves? So many questions and precious few answers at this point - and that was just about the mission.

Then there was Nasedo, whom Max simply didn't trust. Which was great, since their lives - all seven of them - were in his hands. Regardless of his supposed status as his, Isabel, Michael and Tess' protector, Nasedo's casual disregard for human life was something Max knew he was going to have to deal with. Sooner rather than later. He didn't know what he would have done if Nasedo had hurt Liz. That he'd even tried, made Max seethe with anger. That he still could worried Max more than he cared to admit.

And to top things right off there was the whole Tess situation. To say Max found it overwhelming to know some part of him had existed before was an understatement. It was overwhelming and not a little frightening. Particularly since Max couldn't even get a sense of his 'other' life. And looking at Tess made him feel nothing other than his normal reactions to her behaviour in the here and now. He'd made it clear to her this morning they had no future together, despite the past. Yet something about how she took it chilled him. He couldn't really say why. He could add it to his growing list of things to worry about he supposed.

If he was finding it hard to handle all this stuff, how must Liz be feeling? Max knew she loved him, but he was so afraid Liz would feel it was all too weird for her to deal with. It was the real reason why he hadn't been able to get out of the Jeep these past weeks. When he'd finally confessed his fears to Isabel last night, she had looked at him like he'd lost his mind. Right before she spent 20 minutes telling him why that wasn't even an option for Liz. Just thinking about Isabel backing up Liz made him smile. Isabel's acceptance of their love for each other meant so much to him.

With everything he was, Max knew he belonged with Liz. He spoke truth to Liz last year, right before they'd kissed for the first time - no matter what happened, it was all worthwhile as long as they were together. Being without Liz was driving him crazy. So many things in his life seemed to be spinning out of his control. He needed to get a grip and get on with things. Max finally realised he couldn't do that without Liz. He needed her in his life. He needed to go talk to Liz and convince her of that.

Which wasn't going to happen unless he got out of this Jeep.

~ The Past ~
Max couldn't see his face, but he didn't need to - seeing Liz's was enough. She was standing in profile talking to a dark-haired guy who was seated at the counter. Even through the glass of the doors he could see her expression clearly. And his breath caught in his chest. This time, he knew he wasn't overreacting. He knew that was how she used to look at him.

When Max found himself capable of thinking clearly, he realised he had to move before she noticed him staring at her. He couldn't seem to make his feet move though, he just continued to look at her, the hurt welling up inside him making it harder for him to breathe with each passing second. Somehow he managed to turn away. He ran blindly down the street to where he 'd parked the Jeep. He had the engine turning before he landed on the drivers seat.


Liz saw a flash of movement outside the Café doors and turned away from the counter slightly to see what had caught her eye. For a second she could have sworn she saw someone race away.and stranger still.she almost thought it looked like.Max. A really upset Max. She got a strange feeling in her chest at the thought of it and she shivered a little. In the next moment Liz felt melodramatic and stupid. Of course she hadn't seen Max. That was impossible!

Max noticed her reaction and pulled her towards him, looking at her quizzically. Liz shook her head slightly in reply and relaxed into his embrace. How could she possible explain what had been going through her head? Pulling away from him slightly, she looked up into his eyes. Nothing was wrong, he was right here with her, where he belonged. And the next minute, she forgot about everything as she lost herself in his eyes.

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