|"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!
It's been five days since that incident in the desert. I haven't seen Max. He hasn't called. I haven't called him. It's tearing me apart inside.
I thought maybe since he opened this connection, I'd be strong enough to start it without him. One night I concentrated on connecting with him so hard that I gave myself a migraine. Four Advil and an icepack later, I gave up. I have no gift. Max has all of the gifts.
I sigh and roll over onto my side and rub my temple. I'm an idiot. I shouldn't have spoken out of turn that night. But I was frightened and people do dumb things when they're frightened. Fear makes people dumb. I'm angry with myself that I couldn't put this back the way it was, that I couldn't say something to him in the jeep on the way home that would fix everything. But, no, I sat as far away from him as I could, huddled up against the jeep door. The body doesn't lie - I was scared to death of him touching me. When he dropped me off, I didn't even say good night - no kiss, no words, nothing. I just got out of the jeep and went into the house. At least I managed to not break into a run.
Yep, I'm an idiot.
And I have no one to talk to about this. I told Mom we had a fight. She misses Max - he'd become somewhat a fixture in our house, even eating dinner with us some nights. I can't tell Mom the truth about what happened because she doesn't know the truth about what Max is. She keeps telling me that we will work it out, that all young people have fights. Well, we didn't have a fight - I almost got sucked into Never-Neverland.
Liz. Liz would understand. If it were anyone but Max. I really don't think she can think objectively about this.
Thinking of Liz, I think of the Crashdown and their milkshakes. Hmm, a sudden craving. And maybe Alex will be there. Or Isabel. Maybe Isabel would listen…no, I'm sure she doesn't want to hear about her brother's sexcapades. But I do need some interaction of the human kind, so I get off the bed and glance in the mirror. My hair looks like crap, so I pull it up into a ponytail. My cheeks are pale so I brush on some powder. There - I look better, I feel better. I smile at my reflection, but it is a hollow, empty smile. I drop the fake grin and head for the Crashdown.
Mr. Parker greets me with his usual happy persona - then he tells me I look thin. Yes, being sucked into the desert and nearly suffocating will do that to a girl, thank you very much. I slide onto a barstool and order a shake. Mr. Parker mixes the shake and returns to the counter to chat. And I do feel better. It was doing me no good to stay at home and mope.
I should have stayed at home. As soon as I start to feel better, Max and Michael emerge from the kitchen. On sight, Michael looks pissed, Max looks stricken. The boys had been laughing about something, but those laughs faded away faster than Seattle sunshine. Now they just stare at me and I realize that I am the only person on earth who is wanted dead by two alien males that she had sex with. Michael gives a disgusted snort and walks away, but Max is the glutton for punishment and comes over to the counter. I wonder if he has told Michael about our incident.
"How are you?" he asks, his fingers toying with the Ray Bans in his hands.
He nods his head and turns to leave.
"Max, wait," I call. I can't stand this.
He turns around and comes back to the counter. I point to the seat beside me and he hesitates. Then he slips onto the stool and asks Mr. Parker for a cup of coffee. I know that he only ordered the coffee to get rid of Liz's dad. Max looks back to me, his eyes sad. God, I want to touch him.
"We need to talk," I say.
He nods again. "Yeah. Yeah, we do."
"Okay, well, I was thinking-"
He holds up a hand. "Not here." He glances toward the back where Michael and Mr. Parker are talking in the kitchen. I'm glad he resists looking upward, toward Liz's apartment. Wow - where did that come from? Max has given me no reason to think he still wants to be with Liz - I firmly believe his little attack at the barbecue the other day was because of his insecurity, not because of his feelings for Liz. Am I becoming a jealous person?
"Where then?" I ask him.
He gives a weak smile. "Meet me in the park." He glances at the clock. "Half hour?"
I nod and watch him leave. He didn't try to kiss or touch me. I think he is afraid of me.
The park. Near dinnertime.
He's sitting on the park bench when I get there. His back is to me, so he doesn't see me approach. He has his arms spread along the back of the bench, his body slumped in TV-watching mode. I can't help the little grin that passes my face - he's staring straight up into the sky. At any other time, I would have sneaked up on him and kissed him upside down. Not this time.
I round the bench and he sits up straight, bringing his hands into his lap and folding them. He looks startled - I guess I did sneak up on him after all. He watches me from beneath those long, dark lashes as I sit beside him. He gives me a half-smile and I half-smile back. We stare at each other for what seems like an eternity, then he gives a soft snort.
"One of us has to start," he kind of laughs.
I can't believe I am uncomfortable around him, talking to him. "Okay," I say, trying to be optimistic. The situation feels fragile - one false move and the whole thing could go up in flames. "Do you want to?"
His expression says it all - no he doesn't. But Max is a standup guy and he inhales deeply as he shifts his body weight sideways on the bench to face me.
"Maria, I would never do anything to hurt you," he begins.
"I know that," I tell him.
He holds up a hand. "Please, let me finish." He scratches his head in that lost-little-boy way I adore so much. "I would never have opened the connection if I thought it was going to put you in danger some way, if my being…what I am would harm you." Okay, someone just rip out my heart and stomp on it and get it over with. I can't stand the look in his eyes, the sorrow in his voice. He swallows. "I'm sorry."
I give a little sigh and shake my head. "Don't be sorry, Max. I wanted you to make the connection. You warned me that you might not be able to shut it off. You didn't know that was going to happen. I know you wouldn't hurt me." I smile gently at him and for the first time since the incident, I reach out and touch his face. He closes his eyes and I'm not sure if it's relief I see or pure agony.
His hand comes up to capture mine and he brings both of them, fingers intertwined, to the bench between us. "What do you want to do, Maria?"
"What do you mean?"
"Do you want to try to make this work? Do you want to try to find a way to fix whatever is wrong? Or do you want to leave me?"
I am a little surprised at option number three. Not because of its existence, but because of the flat, matter-of-fact way he has said it. "I don't want to leave you," I tell him, and I mean it.
He smiles, a full, post-Liz smile and I have to smile in return.
"But, I don't know where to begin," I tell him honestly.
He ponders that for a moment. "Tell me what happened."
I reach back in my memory and dredge up that night. I don't like going there, but this is necessary. "We were - well, you know what we were doing, and suddenly I just couldn't breathe. Then I was somewhere else, in the desert. You were there, smiling at me, holding out your hand. You were saying something I couldn't hear, then the sky started to cloud over and you frowned and I felt really, really scared. That's when I came back to reality." I shiver thinking about it.
He stares at the ground, thinking. "Did you touch me?" he asks.
I shake my head.
He seems like he has decided something. "Maria, if we could go back there, to that place again, what if you did things differently? What if you took my hand?"
I feel myself wanting to recoil involuntarily. "Max, I don't know-"
His eyes are suddenly bright. " This might be the only way. Please, Maria. I won't let anything happen to you."
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