|"One True Thing"
Disclaimer: I own nothing having anything to do with Roswell, but thanks for
Summary: Max opens a connection with Maria with disastrous results; from Maria's POV
Category: Unconventional Couples
Authors Note: Feedback is always appreciated. Thanks!
|The quarry. Noonish.
I watch him swim across the quarry, his tanned arms rising and falling above the water in a graceful, consistent stroke. He's so far out now that he is nothing but a small dot to me. I hope aliens float, because if he gets in trouble there's no way I can help him.
He reaches the little island in the middle of the quarry and pulls himself out of the water. I watch him shake his head like a dog, the water spraying in a thousand directions. Then he wipes his face and I see him squat to look at something.
I don't know how all of this started with Max. It just happened. One day I kind of realized I liked him and he kind of realized he liked me and here we are. I don't know what it is that we have. Friendship? Absolutely. Strong like? Definitely. Love? I sigh just thinking about it.
I thought I would never love anyone but Michael Guerin. But Michael became baggage. I'm sure in some way I still love him, that I will always love him, but I couldn't take it any more. I couldn't take him being so fickle and moody. "Get away from me, Maria - where have you been, Maria?" "I don't want a relationship - you're not seeing someone else, are you?" It became exhausting. I guess someone tossed the last straw of hay on this camel's back and it broke. I simply couldn't do it any more.
Max is not Michael. Not to any degree, except for the fact that they were both hatched. Max blames no one for his situation - Michael blames everyone. I never really understood what Liz saw in Max. He seemed so intense and, well, not fun. But I was wrong. He is intense, and sometimes he isn't much fun, but he's like an onion. Yes, I just compared him to an onion. You have to peel the layers to see what's underneath, and oddly enough sometimes those layers make you cry.
I guess it all started when Liz went away to her aunt's that one summer and Michael was ignoring me. What an awful, heart-wrenching time for Max and me. We'd sit up until all hours of the night commiserating over our lost loves. I got to the point where I'd look forward to his call, or some nights he would even show up outside of my window. We'd sit on my bedroom floor, away from the door so Mom wouldn't hear us talking, and just spill our guts. Sometimes we'd laugh; a lot of times we'd cry. Misery loves company and we were both excellent company at that point.
But that is when I really got to know Max Evans. I didn't feel more than friendship for him at that point, but once things started to cave between me and Michael and between Max and Liz, I knew there was something more there. He knew it, too.
Our first date. Well, we never really had a first date. We've never really done the whole dating thing. We just kind of fell into this relationship. He never asked me out, I never asked him out. We just started doing things together and the rest is history.
I shield my eyes and watch him as he surveys the shore of the quarry island. He picks something up, turns it over, tosses it into the water. He's an inquisitive one, my Max. I'll never be as smart as he is. Liz probably was, but I'll never be. And I don't think that Max minds. I think all of the science talk got to him after a while. Max and I don't talk about school - other than to gossip. Funny, that. Who would've thought that occasionally Max likes to dish? Of course, he always looks guilty afterward, but I'm working on him.
I think he laughs more now that he is with me. I don't remember him laughing so much when he was with Liz. They had this whole intense, I've-seen-into-your-soul thing going on. I don't know if Max has ever seen into my soul, but I know I haven't seen into his. I've only scratched the surface of that onion.
Max slips back into the water and starts swimming back to shore. I watch him come closer, until he pulls himself out of the water only a few yards away from me. He smiles - it's a wide, serene smile. I smile back as I watch him walk over to the blanket, to me. He flops down on his back, his chest rising and falling rapidly as he catches his breath from his swim. In wonder, I watch his muscles expand and contract. He works that body like no man I have ever met. Michael didn't care about how in shape he was - Max is borderline obsessed with it. But I don't mind because I get to touch that body.
Speaking of which…I twist my body so that I'm looking him in the face. He lifts the arm that is shielding his eyes from the sun and watches me as I move my lips toward his abdomen. He thinks he knows what is coming, and I think I see his breathing quicken even more. I lower myself closer until my lips touch his skin. He tastes salty, wet. Then I open my mouth, press my lips against his stomach and blow as hard as I can. His muscles tighten as he laughs loudly. Yeah, I'll bet Liz Parker never made belly farts on his tummy.
In an instant he flips me onto my back and straddles me, tickling the living daylights out of me. I laugh to the point where I can't breathe, but he's relentless. He knows all of the spots, and the bikini I am wearing has exposed all of them to his wicked fingers.
"Stop!" I finally manage to scream. "You're gonna make me pee!"
He does stop. He sit astride me, his lips spread into a wide grin. I have to laugh at his expression. Who could look at that face and not smile? I reach up and put my hand behind his neck, pull his mouth down to mine. His body presses against mine, pushing me into the rock surface of the quarry. Max is an excellent kisser. While Michael was impatient, sometimes sloppy, Max takes his time and savors every moment. And he's not sloppy - I never feel the need to wipe my hand across my mouth after we've kissed. He can be urgent, though; his kiss does not lack passion.
We lie there for a while, the sun beating down on us, our lips moving against each other's. I can feel his heart pounding in his chest, and I'm not sure if it's from the swim, from the tickle fight, or from our closeness. I'd like to think the latter.
Eventually he breaks our kiss and shifts some of his body weight off me. He keeps a leg over my hip. Leaning on one elbow, he plays with a strand of my hair. With my fingertips, I trace a line down his chest.
"You're so tan," I tell him.
He nods, looking down at his chest.
"I never tan," I pout.
He gives a half smile and waves his hand across my forearm. It turns tan instantly. I can't help it - I scream. He looks startled and puts my arm back the way it was.
"I'm sorry," he says, his eyes going straight into kicked-dog mode.
I laugh. I had momentarily forgotten that this is Max - he can control his powers and put anything back that he changes. Unlike others I have dated. Not to mention names, Michael Guerin.
"It's okay," I tell him. "You just startled me."
He looks sad. "You'll never get used to it, will you? My being different?"
No, I probably won't. But that's just another layer of the onion. It's not a bad thing. It's one thing that makes Max distinctively Max.
I shake my head. "Probably not."
He looks stung for a moment, then he bursts out laughing. I know why he is laughing - Liz would have assured him that it was okay to be different, that it made him special. Not me. I'm blunt.
"You'll never get used to me being honest, will you?" I retort.
He shakes his head and kisses my neck.
"I could get used to that, though," I say, my body shivering from the sensation. He kisses my collarbone. "And that, too." He moves lower, pushing aside my bikini top. "Oh, yeah, definitely that."
He laughs again and recovers my exposed breast. "You're never serious, are you?" he asks.
I shrug. "You haven't given me a reason to be."
And he hasn't. Not once I have I had to go medieval on his ass for something insensitive he has done. Not once has he stood me up, made promises he didn't keep. He has given me no reason but to be happy. And as for serious conversations, we've already had all of those - on my bedroom floor or on the phone when we were both miserable. What is there to be serious about?
But he suddenly looks serious. The laugh lines are gone from those amazing eyes as he strokes my hair. His other hand smoothes the skin along my ribs. He's confusing me.
"Do you know what you mean to me?" he asks, his voice barely above a whisper.
I can't respond. I don't know what I mean to him. He waits patiently and finally I shake my head.
He gives a little smile. "You're the most honest person I know, Maria Deluca."
I smile in return.
"What do I mean to you?" he quizzes.
I think I have gotten too used to being asked to not express my emotions. I can't form words for some reason and the close proximity of our bodies isn't helping, nor are his steady motions against my side. I push him aside gently and sit up. He looks at me in bewilderment.
"Did I do something wrong?" he asks.
I shake my head and look down at my painted toenails. "I'm just not used to this."
He touches my shoulder. "To what?"
"Being asked how I feel." I give a little snort. "I'm used to people not wanting to know how I feel about them."
He blinks and his expression changes to one of understanding. "I'm not like Michael," he says gently. Well, he can be just as blunt as I can, can't he?
I laugh. "I know you're not. But, I spent so long harboring all of my feelings, it's hard for them to come out."
He gives a little shrug. "Okay, we'll start slow. I'll tell you something, you tell me something. Fair enough?"
"Oh, God. It's the alien version of the dating game."
He laughs again. I'll never get sick of his laugh. "Okay, we can call it that. I'll go first. The first question is - what is one thing I like about you?" He reaches up and touches my cheekbone. "Your eyes," he answers his own question. "You have the most incredible eyes." He kisses me there, then sits back. "Your turn. What is one thing you like about me?"
"Sorry, dude, I have to steal your answer," I tell him. "I don't have the most incredible eyes. You do."
He looks embarrassed.
"It's as hard to receive as it is to give, isn't it?" I tease him. He nods in response. I wait a beat, then repeat his initial question. "So what do I mean to you, Max?"
His gaze is steady, unwavering. "You're my best friend."
"Friend!" I shriek. "I thought for sure I'd be the love of your life!" I feel a rant coming on. "After I kiss you and bathe you and have sex with you and do, well, that with you - you call me a friend! I don't do that stuff with my friends, Max Evans, I do that with - "
"You are the love of my life."
I stop mid-sentence and just stare at him. He means it. I'm not ready for this. Not that I don't want to mean that much to Max- it's just that I haven't been able to process the whole idea yet. I do the only thing I know how - I make a joke. "Sure, now you say it."
His lips part in protest and for a moment I expect him to slip back into the Max he was when he dated Liz. But then he laughs again and pushes me back down on the blanket. He is kissing me and I suddenly want him more than air itself. I slide my hand inside of his wet swimming trunks and he breaks our kiss to look at me.
"We're kind of in public," he says in amazement.
"Anyone around?" I ask.
He glances up and over his shoulder. "I don't see anyone."
"Then they won't see us."
But his hand has moved to my wrist and stopped me. "Not here," he says. It isn't a command - it's more of a request.
I raise my eyebrows. "Why not?" I ask.
He looks like he is about to give a sensible, old-Max-Evans answer, but then he surprises me. "Because this rock is going to be a bitch on my knees."
I howl with laughter and pull my hand out of his trunks. I wrap my arms around his shoulders and hug him tight to me. "Let's go somewhere that won't chafe your poor knees, then," I suggest.
As we gather our belongings and head back to the jeep, I think about the first time Max and I made love. I wish I could say it was some big dramatic setting, some passionate moment that drove us into each other's arms. But it wasn't. I'd already had sex with Michael. Max wasn't so lucky with Liz. It felt odd to be the experienced one, especially when it came to sex and Max Evans. Actually, we had been talking about sex and the news was spilled that I would no longer qualify to be a virgin sacrifice. Max acted a little surprised - I suppose he expected Michael would have told him - but then he had a million questions. By the time we were done with the Q&A, we realize that we both wanted to do it, so we did. Wow, that doesn't sound very romantic, does it?
I'm not in this for the romance. Max is a romantic guy, and he does romantic things for me, but I don't live for it. I think Liz lived for it. To me, it's an extra, a perk. No, I'm in this because I feel comfortable, safe with Max. And I think I may love him.
I'm not saying our first time was a bust. It was wonderful. I think it was when I truly realized how different Max and Michael are. Even though he'd never done the deed, Max was still very cautious, very gentle and - surprisingly - very good. He's a wonderful lover.
I climb into the jeep and think about that night. The things I found out - he has a birthmark on his left hip, he kind of snores when he sleeps, he sleeps on his stomach (when he's not holding me, that is), he likes a huge breakfast in the morning, he has extremely sensitive feet. The little gasp he gives when he comes - Max's release of pleasure is as reserved and understated as the man himself. He's still a mystery - I'm still pulling the layers of the onion away.
I watch him pull his T-shirt over his head and climb behind the wheel of the jeep. He slides on his sunglasses and I have to smile - he is so sexy in those Ray Bans. He smiles back and puts the jeep into reverse. Looking over his shoulder, he backs the jeep onto the road and we are on our way. I put my hand on his thigh as he drives. His skin is warm from the sun.
"Max?" I ask, breaking the silence.
He finishes shifting and glances over at me. He puts his hand over mine. "Yeah?"
"Do you get flashes from me?"
He is silent for a moment. "Sometimes."
I look at him and I feel a little queasy. What does he see?
He must catch the look on my face and he squeezes my hand reassuringly. "It's nothing bad," he explains. "I'm still here, aren't I?"
I don't know about that. I turn my head and watch the scenery whiz by the side of the jeep. It's an unfair advantage he has over me. If he can see what I see, feel what I feel - he knows things about me that I will never have the equivalent of knowing about him. For some reason I feel a tear sting my eye. It's not fair.
He gives my hand a little jiggle so I'll look back over at him. He looks concerned. He glances at the road, then back at me. He does that several times before he speaks.
I shrug and pull my hand away from his. In a flash, he pulls the jeep to the side of the road and jerks up the emergency brake. He turns sideways in his seat to face me. I look away but he turns my face back toward him. He uses his thumb to wipe away a tear that has escaped and slipped down my cheek.
"Tell me," he pleads.
I pull in a breath and meet his gaze. "I will never know you the way you know me."
He pulls back a bit, the weight of my statement starting to sink in. He looks away for a moment, then back at me. "Do you want to?"
Huh? "What do you mean?" I nearly snap at him. Of course I want to.
"I could make it happen," he says. "But once it starts, I don't know if it would ever stop."
"What do you mean?" I sound like a Myna bird.
"If I make the connection," he starts, patient as always, "it may never go away. You and I could connect if we touched, when we kissed, when he made love." He pauses. "You wouldn't have any secrets from me."
Like I do now? "Okay, do it."
He withdraws. "Now?"
I nod my head.
He gives a little shrug, removes the Ray Bans and takes my face between his hands. "Take deep breaths. Match mine."
I do and suddenly I can't look away from his eyes. I fight it at first, but he reassures me. I'm not sure what he says, or if he even says it aloud, but I know I'm supposed to relax. I do and suddenly I can feel his breath in my body, his heart beating beside mine. It freaks me a little, and I feel my trust wavering. I have those wonderful abandonment issues to deal with - first Dad skipping out, then Michael's noncommittal - and it is hard for me to trust a man this easily. But something else he says calms me and I am suddenly looking at the world through his eyes - breaking free of the pods, Isabel hitting him with a baseball bat as children, seeing Liz for the first time, his all-consuming desire for her, fighting with Michael, making up with Michael, losing Liz, giving up on Liz. And then I see me. My heart flutters with his feelings for me. He adores me. He thinks of me first thing in the morning when he gets up. He likes that I make him laugh, make him not take himself or his situation so seriously. With me, he feels like a child - the child he was never allowed to be. I am his escape, his one true thing.
I am suddenly coherent again. He is looking at me, his expression a mixture of worry and concern. My cheeks are wet - I have cried the whole time.
"Are you okay?" he asks. I think he believes he has frightened me.
I nod, but I can't speak. I reach over and wrap my arms around his shoulders. He returns my embrace and I whisper against his ear, "I love you, Max Evans."
His body shakes as he laughs.
"You already knew that, didn't you?" I ask.
He laughs again. I pull away and kiss him hard. "Find privacy," I command. "Quickly."
|Index | Part 2
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