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Summary: Maria has an obsession ... read on!
Authors Note: This is the first part of many to come ... or maybe not so many, but more are on the way.
|He always expected the unexpected. Being an alien, he had to. Max Evans just never expected his best friend Michael Guerin to come banging on his window at four in the morning. Michael used to visit him a lot ... when Michael had to get away from his drunk, abusive foster father. So, in truth, Max shouldnít have been startled. Of course he had a good explanation for not expecting it. Michael had been avoiding Isabel for unknown reasons, which pretty much meant he hadnít been coming by his room. Max knew that Michael wasnít too happy with the Max- Tess situation. He didnít really trust Tess yet, but Max wanted did. He just couldnít help himself ... he had this connection and he had to know why. Max knew that Tess was an alien just like him, but that wasnít enough for him. Sure, Max knew that Liz was hurting, but in truth, Max hadnít really thought about it and that alone was enough to send him on a guilt trip.
Basically, Max had been too involved with his own thoughts to actually listen to any of Michaelís. So, when Michael showed up at his window, Max figured it was time to pay attention to his best friend. He opened the window for Michael and returned to his bed as Michael entered his room, out of breath and apparently upset about something. He just stood there, staring at the wall, hands on his hips, trying to catch his breath and Max waited for an explanation for his best friendís late night visit. Max really wasnít expecting much- Michael didnít like to talk about his problems to Max. Max was fully aware of that- especially after Michael tried to hide his black eye from him and Isabel. He knew that Michael wasnít used to people actually worrying about him and he didnít like people to worry about him.
All Max had to do was listen, but Michael wasnít uttering a single word. He was still catching his breath, keeping his eyes glued to the wall, but ... Max had a feeling that Michael wasnít really examining the wall. Michael was trying to fight a battle ... and probably a personal one at that. Max knew this was a rare Michael to Max moment so he took advantage of it and whispered to his best friend, "Whatís the matter, Michael?" Max felt relieved then because Michael turned his head- a definite sign of recognition- and replied, "Iím scared Max." ĎYep, definitely a rare Michael moment,í thought Max. Michael never said those three words in that order- even in that tone ... well until now. He really was scared and now he had Maxís full attention as Max asked him, "Well, explain Michael..." and trailed off waiting for a response. All Michael said was, "I canít get her off my mind." Maxís brow furrowed in confusion as he said almost amused, "who, Michael?" Max was sure that he knew the answer to that question , but he wanted confirmation. He didnít want to think that Michael was like obsessing about Isabel or something really scary like that. "Maria," Michael replied, "I tried ... I canít..." he trailed off showing how worried he was.
Max knew how Michael would react if he was in this situation. Actually, Max had been in this situation. Max obsessed about Liz lots of times, but he let himself enjoy it. Max didnít exactly have fantasy dreams of the future, but he had fantasies about being with Liz the way he figured most guys his age had about other girls. Max didnít know all the details of Michaelís obsession, but since Michael was warning him not to get attached to Liz, he knew that Michael had connected to Maria and that fact was scaring him like nothing else ever did. Max had to get Michael to explain and the only way he could get Michael to open up his problem was to relate it to himself. Max spoke, "What exactly do you mean by on your mind, because Iíve had that with Liz. I mean she was all I could think of for a while. You and Isabel told me to take a step back ... that I shouldnít get involved. If youíre that scared then maybe you should too." Michael shook his head slightly and replied, "Already tried that. Remember the soap factory? Every time I try to force her out of my mind, she comes back stronger." Max remembered hearing about what Michael said to Maria at the soap factory from both sides. Max asked, "Was she on your mind then?" ĎProbably a stupid question,í Max thought, but he had to know how long Michael had this problem before tonight. Michael was about to reply when suddenly, Max just knew. Well, it happened to him that way so he asked, "It was the first kiss, wasnít it? Thatís when it started for me and Liz. I mean, when we first really noticed it." Michael nodded and said, "I guess thatís how it works. I ... I canít let her affect me this way." Max realized that his friendís problem wasnít only about Maria. He wouldnít be over here all worked up at four in the morning unless there was another factor involved. Max had to ask, "Does this have anything to do with why youíre avoiding Isabel?"
That was a bad question if Max ever asked one. Michael became totally defensive as he said, "Donít change the subject, Maxwell." Max replied matter-of-factly, "Iím not, Michael. I know your actions pretty well. You wouldnít be over here upset unless there was another factor besides Maria." He noticed Michael relax a little and that made Max feel better.
Of course, Max knew that Michael wasnít feeling any better. If anything, Michael was feeling worse. His attempt to relax was just a sign that he was caving in and giving up to his problem. That was not the Michael that Max knew. He knew that when Michael made up his mind to do something, there was no stopping him. He was more stubborn than a bull ... why not this time? Finally, Michael spoke, "Iíve got go, Max." He turned to go, but Max spoke to him- he had to, "Michael, donít run away from this." Michael faced Max for the first time that night and said to him, "Iím not running, Max. I just need some time to think by myself." If that was his decision then Max would respect it so he followed Michael to the window and said, "If you need anything you know where to find me." Michael just nodded slightly and ran off. Max only hoped that his friend would figure out his own mess before he went crazy.
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