FanFic - Other
"Twists in the Road"
Part 2
by Emily
Disclaimer: Don't own the characters or the concepts; just borrowing them!
Summary: What happens when the gang is ready to graduate from high school?
Category: Other
Rating: PG-13
The Crash Down was busy, even for a Saturday night, and Liz and Maria scrambled to keep up with the constant flow of customers. Max and Michael sat in their usual booth, as they often did when the girls worked the evening shift on the weekend, nursing cherry colas and playing with the last of their fries which had long ago grown cold and soggy from too much Tabasco sauce. Max, his eyes fixed on Liz, looked concerned. "Something's going on," he told Michael. Michael turned from his study of the way Maria's legs looked beneath her short waitress uniform. "What do you mean?"

"Max shrugged. "I'm not sure. But Liz has been…..different….somehow. I can't really put my finger on it."

Michael raised one eyebrow. "You two haven't been doing anything you shouldn't, have you? There's no chance Liz is…uh…"

"No!" Max insisted. "Come on, Michael. You know we haven't … I mean, well…oh, hell. You know what I mean. She isn't, so just leave it at that."

"Okay, okay, calm down. It was just a thought."

"Well keep your thoughts focused in some other direction," Max mumbled, still watching Liz.

"No problem," Michael said with a grin, and turned his attention back toward Maria as she headed their way with fresh sodas.

"Here you go, guys," Maria said hurriedly, setting the glasses in front of them. "Sorry we haven't been too friendly tonight. God, it's a zoo!" She grinned as Michael's arm snaked around her waist to give her a quick squeeze. "Sorry, Spaceboy. No time to play." She leaned over and swiftly kissed his smiling mouth before twisting out of his grasp and heading toward the kitchen.

Michael started shaking Tabasco into his soda. "You want me to ask Maria what's up with Liz?" When Max didn't reply, he passed his hand back and forth in front of his face. "Yo, Maxwell. Snap out of it."

"What? Oh, sorry. No, thanks Michael. I've got a feeling I'll find out soon enough."

"Maybe it's just spring fever," Michael suggested with a grin.

Max shook his head. More like senior fever, he thought. He was beginning to suspect that he knew what was going on. It was just going to take a little coordinating to set things straight. He just hoped his luck would hold.

* * * * *

By closing time the café was virtually empty. Alex and Isabel had arrived just before Maria locked the door, and were lounging in the back with Michael while Max helped Liz and Maria close up. When they finally finished, Liz flopped on the sofa with a grateful sigh. "I hate working this Saturday shift," she groaned. "We seem to get more people every week."

"Why don't you change the schedule?" Isabel asked.

"Yeah, Liz. I hear you may have some pull with management," Alex teased.

Liz moaned as Max sat behind her and started kneading her aching shoulders. "Oh, God, that feels good," she sighed, her eyes drifting closed as her head rolled forward to allow him access to her neck.

"Liz would never ask her parents for special treatment, you guys," Maria said, when it became apparent that Liz was not answering. "You know that." She stifled a giggle as Michael pulled her down onto his lap. "Oh, for crying out loud," Isabel said with obvious disgust. "What's the use of being the boss's daughter if you can't get a little special treatment?"

Sensing trouble, Alex quickly jumped in. "So, folks, what's on the schedule for tonight?" he asked. "You ladies don't exactly look like you're bundles of energy, so I would guess that naked miniature golf is out? Ouch!" he finished, as Isabel swatted him. "I was just kidding!"

"I'm okay," Liz said, turning so she was cuddled against Max. "Whatever you guys feel like doing if fine with me."

"Me too," Maria agreed, her head resting on Michael's shoulder.

Alex and Isabel looked at each other and smiled. "Yeah, right," Isabel said.

Michael nudged at Maria. "You up to some dancing?" he asked her. "They've opened that new after hours place across town and rumor has it they aren't checking ID."

Maria sat up. "I'm always ready for dancing, Spaceboy," she smiled. "What do you guys think? Liz? You've got enough energy to boogie the night away?"

Liz laughed. "I'm game if you are." She looked at Max, who nodded.

Alex glanced at Isabel, then stood and pulled her off the couch. "Okay guys. Dancing it is. Who's driving?"

* * * * *

The club was dark and the music fairly loud, but the crowd was not so big that they couldn't find a table and they settled quickly into a corner near the dance floor. Maria and Michael started to dance immediately and were soon swallowed up by the mass of couples moving in time to the music. After a minute, Alex and Isabel joined them, leaving Max and Liz sitting alone.

"You want to dance?" Max asked, leaning close so Liz could hear him over the music.

"Not just yet. Let's just sit here and watch them for a minute," Liz said, leaning into him as his arm came around her shoulders. She tilted her head against his and concentrated on their friends as they danced, two couples intent on each other, yet still linked as a foursome, standing near each other in a sea of strangers, a unit. She still marveled at how close the six of them had grown in the last two and a half years. Looking back at the first few weeks after the shooting, she would never have believed it possible. The fear, the distrust, the secrets. They had shut Alex out. Maria, terrified of Isabel, had been ready to tell Sheriff Valenti everything. Isabel and Michael had refused to believe Liz was trustworthy. Only Max had believed in her, no matter what, and it was that steadfast loyalty that had provided the glue that held them together. Now they were inseparable, three humans, three aliens, three couples in love. A family. Looking at her four friends, Liz knew they played as much a role in her decision as Max did. Which only made it harder to choose.

Max could feel the tension as Liz allowed her thoughts to wander. He gave her a quick squeeze and kissed the top of her head. He wanted to protect her, to make things easy for her. Yet at the same time, he knew that the choices they were all getting ready to face would not be easy, regardless of the outcome. There were so many variables to consider, so many things out of his control. He wanted more than anything to ease Liz's mind, but until he could be absolutely sure that all of the pieces were falling into place, it was better to remain silent. He stood, took her hand and gave it a gentle tug. "Dance with me?"

"Of course," she said, standing and meeting his smile.

As they walked the short distance to the dance floor, the music shifted, growing slower, softer, trading the heavy rock beat for a lighter, more romantic one. Michael pulled Maria close, her head on his shoulder, and Alex wrapped his arms tightly around Isabel as she gazed into his eyes. But, as Max drew her into his arms, Liz recognized the song and stiffened. Sarah McLachlan's voice poured from the speakers, reaching in and tugging on Liz's heart.

I will remember you Will you remember me? Don't let your life pass you by Weep not for the memories. Remember the good times that we had? I let them slip away from us when things got bad. How clearly I first saw you smilin' in the sun, Wanna feel your warmth upon me I wanna be the one

Max pulled Liz into his arms and tucked her head under his chin and they started to sway. He stroked his hand through her long, soft hair as they moved to the music. As the song continued, Liz was grateful that Max couldn't see into her eyes, because they were filled with tears.

It's funny how we feel so much But we cannot say a word We are screaming inside, But we can't be heard. But I will remember you Will you remember me? Don't let your life pass you by, Weep not for the memories

They all stayed on the dance floor until the club flashed the lights, indicating the last song of the evening, and Liz hoped she had reached a sufficient level of exhaustion to guarantee her a few hours of sleep. Everyone was quiet as they piled into Max and Alex's cars for the drive home. As if by previous agreement, Alex took Isabel, Michael, and Maria, leaving Liz alone with Max in the jeep. Sitting silently by his side as he drove, Liz was thankful that Max seemed willing to ignore her earlier reaction on the dance floor. She still had no idea what she was going to say to him.

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