Disclaimer: Roswell, the characters, and situations are owned by the WB. No infringement indended.|
Summary: A flashback retelling of Max and Liz's relationship as it was depicted in "Decisions," from Max's point of view.
Authors Note: This story is part of an evolving storyline that currently includes (in order): "Decisions," "Looking In," "Christmas Envy," "From Another Place," "Husbands and Fathers," "Claudia and Nicole," "Stars," and "First Date." More stories may be forthcoming.
|She was beautiful, Max thought when he saw her step into the hallway. She looked just like her mother: sparkling dark eyes, innocent blush staining high cheekbones, long dark hair glistening in the light, pinned up and sprinkled with flowers….|
Liz wore flowers in her hair the day they were married. It was a cool New Mexico day in the middle of December. Liz was paler than usual – a combination of nervousness and morning sickness – but so beautiful she stole his breath away. She wore a high-waisted ivory gown to hide the tiny bump of her pregnancy. And those silly small flowers in her hair, which had taken so long to remove.
He remembered the day so clearly: the blue, blue sky, the pale earth, the sunlight-dappled grass swishing in the breeze, a lone song-bird somewhere in the bushes out of sight trilling softly.
He remembered watching Maria squeeze Liz’s hand before she walked down the flower-strewn aisle, watching as Maria smiled and said something into Liz’s ear, and then watching their tight, heart-felt hug.
He remembered Michael’s nudge and suggestion that there was still enough time to change his mind. Then Michael’s mumbled “kidding” which had been like a kind of blessing.
He remembered seeing Alex Whitman standing not far from Isabel as always, although a little off to the side because he had arrived late. Then Alex smiling when he caught his eye, and giving him a typically-Alex thumbs-up sign, one blood brother to another, a sign that had been like another blessing.
And then there was Liz, standing at his side, tucking her small hand in his, standing on tiptoe to whisper to him what first Isabel then Maria had told her before she walked down the aisle, that they thought she and Max were meant to be together.
During the ceremony, he saw Liz’s parents holding on to each other, realizing, he’d suspected, that they were giving their little girl away for good this time. Although if they had been honest, they would have admitted that they had given her to him a long time before that day. He remembered noticing his parents too: his father looking proud, his mother with happy tears in her eyes.
But who he remembered most of during the ceremony was Liz, the bravest woman he had ever known, the one person who knew everything there was to know about him and still loved him.
What he remembered of what happened after the ceremony was finally being alone with Liz and trying to unweave the stems of those silly flowers from her hair. They had turned it into a game that ended with them tangled up together in the bed-sheets, laughing with the sheer joy of being together, of being each other’s forever.
That memory of lying in bed beside Liz on their wedding night melted into other memories of lying in bed beside her, of flattening his hand across her growing tummy, listening to Liz’s giggling protests that he was tickling her. He remembered other times when he would rub soothing oil on to her stomach as they were lying in bed, and the two of them would laugh in surprise when the baby would kick back. And then still other nights of lying in bed, of being so close to Liz that he couldn’t tell where he ended and she began, of making love gently around their baby, of losing himself in her, body and soul.
Sometimes during those nights in bed together, he would read to their unborn baby, because he had read somewhere that fetuses could hear in the womb. He would read everything from Dr. Suess to Lewis Carroll to Jane Austen to James Joyce to T.S. Eliot, while Liz ate chocolate ice cream smothered in Tabasco sauce. He would alternate reading fiction and poetry with reading recent articles in biology and philosophy, until finally Liz would set aside her bowl in exasperation and throw her arms around his neck, kissing him until he stopped reading, telling him that he was her best friend and she adored him, but he was driving her insane.
Liz had had her quirks too. Aside from the ice cream with Tabasco thing, she hadn’t had many food cravings. But she had craved black-and-white movies, particularly “To Kill A Mockingbird.” They had watched it over and over again, play-arguing over whether or not to call their daughter Harper or Jean Louise or Scout, knowing that they would name her after Liz’s grandmother, whose advice in a way had brought them together. It hadn’t all been laughter and teasing, although there had definitely been a lot of laughter and teasing. In the back of both their minds was the small detail about their being different.
To reassure themselves that their baby was developing normally, they would sneak into the hospital using his medical student ID, and run blood tests. They would bribe the ultrasound technician to take early breaks and laugh like little children as they spread lubricant over Liz’s burgeoning belly, then gasp in awe when they saw their daughter on the little monitor.
And their efforts were rewarded when their healthy baby girl was born. He remembered Liz giving birth, looking breathtakingly lovely even though her face was shiny and her hair slicked back with perspiration. His fingers still tingled at the memory of how tightly she held his hand the whole time during labor.
He remembered the acting obstetrician, a friend of his from medical school, telling them to stop staring into each other’s eyes and then telling Liz to concentrate harder on pushing.
Then their baby had been placed in Liz’s arms, and he had had to leave because his heart felt like it was going to explode with all the feelings inside. When he had returned to the room after swapping test tubes, he had stood frozen in the doorway, watching Liz holding their baby, marveling at how her plain wedding band glinted like old gold against the brand-new skin of their daughter.
And then there was Claudia.
The memories came faster, as fast as a child grows up, in the blink of an eye. Claudia, learning to talk, to walk, to read. Claudia, clutching Puckatigga, her stuffed-white rabbit. Claudia all in pink, dressed as a ballerina, showing off her pliés. Claudia, terrorizing customers as she and Nicole Guerin, her best friend in the whole world, raced through her grandparents’ Crashdown Café. Claudia, sitting on the window ledge in the attic, looking up at the stars. Claudia, looking so much like her mother, but smiling his own smile back at him. Claudia’s firsts: a first step, a first tooth, a first day at school, a first date….
“Dad, you’re staring.” Claudia tucked the wisps of hair that framed her face behind her ears, a gesture she had inherited from her mother, along with the color and texture of her hair, her oval face, her petite frame, her pragmatic intelligence. “Is my date here?”
Max smiled. “I let the grasshopper cool his heels in the living room.” He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans and sat back on his heels, studying Claudia’s face, wondering if he had the heart to tease her even more. “I also warned him about what would happen to him if he brought you home late.”
Claudia turned radish-red. “Dad!” She looked appealingly at her mother. “Mom, don’t let Dad embarrass me in front of my date.”
Liz shot him a scolding look as she tucked her arm in his, then reassured Claudia, “Don’t worry, sweetie. I’ll make him behave.”
After they shut the door behind their daughter and her beau, Max turned to Liz, all the memories still fresh in his mind. As always, he thought she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, his forever.
“Hey,” he said, one hand coming around her to pull her into his arms, the other hand reaching up to scoop her hair off the back of her neck so he could kiss her nape. “Want to watch “To Kill A Mockingbird” with me?”
And then her soft laugh and a nod as she pulled him with her towards their bedroom, and he smiled again. She had always been his forever.
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