FanFic - Max/Liz
"Husbands & Fathers"
Part 1
by Danilise
Disclaimer: Roswell, the characters, and situations are owned by the WB. No infringement intended.
Summary: A very pregnant Maria goes into labor: will the baby be okay?
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: PG
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," and "Stars." More stories may be forthcoming.
“God, I look like a truck.” Maria turned sideways in a vain effort to slenderize her reflection in the mirror. “And my back is completely killing me.”

“Should I give you one of my famous backrubs?”

Maria swatted Michael. “You may recall, spaceboy, that it was one of your famous backrubs that turned me into a truck in the first place.” She glanced at Liz. “Was Max this impossible when you were nine months pregnant?”

Liz laughed and cuddled her three-year-old daughter, Claudia, who had fallen asleep in her lap. “Don’t put me and Max in the middle of this. You and Michael have always done things your own way. Besides, I don’t think Michael was being impossible. I think he meant it.”

“There. You see.” Michael held out a hand, palm-up, as if Liz’s words had proved his point. “Liz is on my side. If anyone’s being impossible, it’s you, Maria.”

Maria glared at him and flounced out of the room, if a heavily pregnant, petite woman could ever be described as flouncing. Michael watched her leave, a smile playing about his lips, his face unknowingly soft and vulnerable. He looked down at Liz who was trying hard not to laugh again. A little embarrassed to have been caught mooning after his own wife, he shrugged and turned to follow Maria out of the room.

“You guys are perfect for each other, you know,” Liz said behind him. “Completely perfect. We probably could have guessed it in fifth grade, especially after the paint fight.” She laughed at herself. “Except we were fifth-graders and not thinking that way.”

Michael turned back and considered the wife of his best friend. Liz Evans was as beautiful and sweet and kind as ever. She was the female equivalent of Max. Thank god they had finally gotten together. And not just because the romantic and sexual tension between them was driving him and everyone else insane. He twitched an eyebrow at her and said mock-severely, “You’re one to talk, Mrs. Evans.” Then he left in search of Maria.

He found her complaining to Max about back pain in the kitchen. Max was listening patiently, with a small, bemused smile on his face.

“Maria,” Michael chided. “You remember, right, that Max is a pediatrician, not an obstetrician, and definitely not a chiropractor.”

She turned on him. “Quit following me around the house. This is all your fault. You men – and you realize that I’m using that term loosely – don’t understand what women go through for this.” She gestured to her huge belly. “I’d like to see you carrying around an extra forty pounds of kicking, indigestion-inducing thing!”

“Hey! That’s my child you’re calling a thing.” And they were off, shooting witticisms and insults back and forth, enjoying themselves enormously, completely forgetting that they had a guest in the room.

Sighing, Max got up from his chair. “I think I’ll go find Liz and Claudia, and let you guys be alone for a while.” They didn’t hear him. “Maybe we’ll go visit my parents or Liz’s or something,” he said a little more loudly. He grinned when they still didn’t hear him. “I guess we’ll leave them a note.”

* * * *

Liz and Max and Claudia arrived at the hospital late. It had taken a while for the message from Maria’s mother to find them. Michael came out as soon as he heard they had arrived. He felt a wreck. Judging by their expressions, he looked even worse.

“Maria’s been in labor for a couple of hours,” he said without preamble. “I think the doctors are beginning to get worried. They’re saying something about Maria being too small, and the baby being too big.” Without thinking, Michael lowered his gaze to Claudia, who was concentrating hard on holding tightly to both of her parents’ hands. Then he lifted his gaze back up to the best friend he’d ever had. “I’m scared, Max.”

Immediately Max and Liz were hugging him, enveloping him in reassurances that Maria would be okay, pulling him back to the delivery room, Max offering to talk to the doctors to figure out what was really going on, Liz offering to just be with Maria.

Hours passed, and little changed. Finally, the doctors ordered that Maria be taken back to her room in the maternity ward to wait. So they waited. And as they waited, Michael paced a tread into the white linoleum floor.

After another hour of waiting, Max decided that Michael needed a break from the stress of waiting and Maria needed a break from Michael. “Hey,” he said, putting a gentle hand on Michael’s shoulder. “I’m going to check on Claudia. Your mother-in-law’s been great about watching her, but she probably needs a break. You feel like coming?” Max checked with Liz and Maria: “Assuming that’s okay with you both.”

Michael looked at Maria, who was resting back against the hospital-white pillows with her eyes closed, clearly savoring the space in between contractions. “Sure,” he said absently, tearing his eyes away from Maria to glance at Max then at once returning them to Maria. “Will you be okay if I go for a while?”

Maria cracked open an eye and nodded. She waved a hand in dismissal. “Go. Get out of here. You’re making me nervous. Liz’ll keep me company.”

Feeling like he was in fifth grade again, Michael trailed Max out of the maternity room and into the waiting area. He hung back, dawdling over buying a cup of coffee from a vending machine while really taking the time to watch Max with his daughter.

“Hey, sweet,” Max said, ruffling Claudia’s hair. “How’re you doing?”

Claudia gave her father a serious look. “Is Aunt Maria going to be okay?”

Max smiled. “Yes, I think so. There are some very good doctors taking care of her.”

All of a sudden, the tiny father-daughter moment was more than Michael could take. He pivoted on his heel and stalked away, dropping his untouched cup of coffee into a trash receptacle on his way out of the waiting area. The cup bounced off the rim of the trash can and landed on the floor. Muddy-brown liquid sloshed everywhere.

Max caught Amy DeLuca’s eye as he scooped Claudia up into his arms and started to head out after Michael. “Guess I’ll follow him,” he said dryly. “Thanks again for watching Claudia.”

Max eventually found Michael sitting in a dark corner of the hospital chapel. “Hey,” he said quietly.

Michael looked up. “I can’t live without her, Max.”

“She’ll be fine. And the baby will too. Just think positively. There is absolutely no reason why she shouldn’t be fine.” Max paused to let the words sink in.

“You know,” Michael continued, staring at Claudia who had tucked her dark head into the crook between Max’s neck and shoulder, “She thinks the baby is a girl.”

Max laughed. “All the more reason for you to not be worrying right now. You should be thinking ahead and worrying about the really hard part. Being a father. To a daughter. You have to worry about fighting off the multitude of boys who will come looking for her. Ruffians like us.”

“You were never a ruffian,” Michael inserted. “But I was.”

Max laughed again. “But Amy liked you anyway. God knows Maria did. Why else would she have put up with you?” Max reached out the hand that wasn’t holding Claudia tightly against his chest. “Come back with me. Maria only let you go for a little while. She needs you now.”

* * * *

Nicole Maria Guerin came into the world the way her parents and their friends would have expected her to – joyously fighting her way to the light. She was a blonde moppet with deep-brown eyes. The nurses commented immediately on the baby’s eye color, surprised that they weren’t blue.

After the nurses left, Michael leaned over and kissed Maria’s cheek. She frowned at him. “Why does she have brown eyes?” she asked as if it were his fault somehow that their daughter wasn’t perfect.

Michael shrugged, hardly listening, enthralled by the baby’s strong grip on his index finger. Maria nudged him impatiently. Thinking over the best way to answer, he shrugged again. “Liz told me that Claudia was born with brown eyes, too, and that they never changed. I guess it’s a Czechoslovakian thing. What you see is what you get, even at the start.” He stopped looking at the baby long enough to wink at Maria suggestively.

Maria chuckled, curling her arms more tightly around little Nicole. “Yeah. What you see is what you get. I can believe that.” And they smiled at each other over their baby’s downy blonde head.

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