Someone, Anyone (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) COMPLETE, 01/20/16

Fics using the characters from Roswell, but where the plot does not have anything to do with aliens, nor are any of the characters "not of this Earth."

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April
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Part 76

Postby April » Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:15 pm

Carolyn:
Finally Liz got the truth about Maria.......and Max's son. I don't blame her for being upset about that news.
It's a big deal that Max has a son, and is he going to take some responsibility?


Yes, it is a big deal, and Liz was pretty blindsided about it. But she's invested enough time and energy into her relationship with Max at this pint that this news isn't going to make her back out of it.

One more secret........cliff hanger here.


Max really likes Liz . . . but yes, there's one more secret, one more thing he's not being completely honest with her about.

Loved the Texas Tech mention......almost time for me to leave and go watch the first game. Hope Kliff and the boys have a better year.


How did the game go?


Sara:
Awww, I am glad Max came clean about Dylan to Liz. And I think AND HOPE Liz and Max can be a good couple together. I want to believe that people can change because we have already seen it in Michael.....


This Max has been very interesting to write. He does have some redeeming qualities, and his relationship with Liz is actually kind of a nice one. And yes, we have seen Michael change for the better in a lot of ways, so it's possible Max could do the same.

Can't wait to see what the surprise is!!


It's a pretty sweet thing that Michael does for her. :)


Thanks for the feedback!

Lyrics in this part today are to the song "Wild Ones," originally by Flo Rida and Sia, but I'd like to include the far superior cover version by Madilyn Bailey. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmyRUhx5Xco And yes, I'm linking to my own video, shamelessly.









Part 76








Isabel listened in amusement as Jesse spoke to his mother on the phone. She’d called right after they’d gotten done fucking, and at first, he’d seemed like he didn’t feel like talking to her. But nearly twenty minutes later, he was still on the phone with her, and they seemed to be having a good conversation. Of course, Isabel couldn’t understand a word of it, since every word they were saying to each other was in Spanish. Jesse spoke so quickly, so fluently, that all she could really make out was the adios at the end.

“Sorry,” he said, setting his phone on the nightstand. “Didn’t know that was gonna take so long.”

“That’s okay,” she said, liking that he and his mom got along well. “I knew I should’ve taken Spanish.”

“What’d you take?”

“French.” She rolled her eyes at what a colossal waste of time that had been. “I thought it was a more romantic-sounding language.”

“Ah, Spanish is romantic,” he said, turning onto his side. “Mi amor.”

She smiled, knowing at least what that meant. “Say something else.”

He leaned in and whispered something in her ear. She couldn’t decipher a word of it, but it sure sounded sexy.

“See?” he said. “Romantic language.”

“You’ll have to teach me,” she said.

“I love teaching you things.” He grazed his fingers along her side, stopping at her hip.

“So are you and your mom close?” she asked, wondering if he had told her anything about the two of them yet. Did Mrs. Ramirez even suspect there was an Isabel Evans in her son’s bed right now?

“We’re very close,” he replied unabashedly. “My dad was never around, and after my older brother got locked up, it was just me and her. She raised me all on her own. She’s my hero.”

“She sounds amazing,” Isabel agreed. She really wanted to meet her someday, but . . . was there a point? She was going off to Princeton in a few months, and she and Jesse hadn’t talked about whether or not they were going to continue this relationship once she was gone.

“What about you and your mom?” he asked. “You do anything special for her today?”

“Not really,” she admitted. “Got her a gift, but I always do.”

“You guys close?”

“Kind of. I don’t know, we used to be.” It made her sad to know that she and her mom had grown apart this year. Not as far apart as her and Tess, obviously, but still . . . pretty far.

“She seems like a nice lady,” he remarked.

“She doesn’t like you,” Isabel informed him, amazed that he would say anything nice about her after how standoffish she’d been to him at their dinner.

“Of course not,” he said. “I made porn with her daughter. She’ll never like me.”

She frowned. Was that true? He didn’t seem bothered by it, but she was. “I don’t think she likes me much anymore, either,” she confessed.

“But she’s your mom.”

“So she loves me. But I don’t think she likes me. Not lately.”

He brought his hand up to brush her hair away from her face. “Why not?”

“Because . . .” She shrugged as best she could lying down. “I’m not perfect.”

He pressed his finger to her lips and assured her, “You’re perfect to me.”

She smiled at the compliment. “But that’s you.”

“So? Do you honestly care what anyone else thinks?”

Did she? It was hard not to. Having grown up in Roswell, having always been popular and well-known, it was hard to toss aside concerns about her reputation. But her reputation was already tarnished. It had been ever since that video had gone viral. Or maybe even before then. Maybe blowing Ryan at prom had been the turning point. Or sleeping with her sleazy neighbor. Whatever had tipped the scales, everyone knew what her life was like now. Everyone knew she was bedding a self-employed porn star, and everyone knew she wasn’t the valedictorian, and everyone knew her ex-boyfriend was happily engaged.

Screw it. She didn’t give a fuck what anyone else thought anymore.

“Jesse,” she said, eyeing the camera on his dresser. “Maybe we could . . .” Before she was able to finish the sentence, though, the bedroom door flew open and in came Courtney. She had one of Eric’s shirts on, but it was halfway hanging off, and she was very clearly naked underneath.

“You guys gotta come downstairs,” she exclaimed breathlessly. “Eric and I are gonna try one of the hardest Kama Sutra positions. We wanna film.”

“Great,” Jesse said, already getting out of bed. “Do you want me to do the honors? ‘cause I was thinking, maybe Isabel . . .”

“You want me to film?”

He shrugged. “Why not?”

Her first instinct was to be repulsed but to politely decline. But then she thought it over and changed her mind. What was the big deal? She’d seen Eric and Courtney knocking boots on more than one occasion. They had done it in the same room as she and Jesse, for crying out loud. It wasn’t a big deal to be the one holding the camera while they got it on again. They were her friends, and they were horny, and they were absolutely willing to put their horniness on display for the world wide web to see.

“Sure,” she agreed. “You pop some popcorn.”

Jesse grinned eagerly. “Alright, dinner and a show.”

Isabel smirked right back at him, sort of excited by the chance to take part in something a little deviant. It was probably a good thing neither one of their moms knew they were doing this.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria took her mom out for lunch that day, not because she particularly wanted to, but rather because . . . well, quite honestly, she felt obligated. It was the one day out of the whole year where moms were supposed to be recognized and feel important. And being a mom herself, she understood how crushed Amy would feel if they did nothing.

Unable to stomach the Crashdown food anymore, Maria took her mom to another local café, one that was, perhaps fittingly, run by a mother and a daughter. No space theme here. Just good old-fashioned meals, real stick-to-your-ribs types of food. And reasonable prices, which was a bonus.

But, of course, Maria’s mom was complaining. “Is our waiter ever gonna come back?” she asked. “I need my meat to be more cooked than this.”

“He’ll be back,” Maria assured her. It was pretty busy at a lot of restaurants today. Many families had the same idea she did, to take mom out for lunch. It made her glad she wasn’t working today, because that would have been killer. Too many customers on holidays.

“He’s not the best waiter,” Amy complained. “He wasn’t very friendly.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Let it go, Mom. You don’t know who he is or what kind of day he’s having.” She sympathized with anyone and everyone who had to plaster on a smile day after day and serve up food to a bunch of people who usually forgot to be grateful and sometimes even forgot to tip.

Her mom fell silent for a moment. Then, in a rare moment for her, she admitted some sort of fault. “You’re right,” she said. “I shouldn’t be so critical. I’m just happy to be here. I have to admit, I, uh . . . I wasn’t sure you’d wanna do anything.”

“Well, it’s Mother’s Day,” Maria said simply. “And you’re my mom.”

“Whether you like it or not.”

Maria sighed, trying to keep things peaceful. It was just a constant effort with the two of them. “Look, I know we might not always see eye to eye on a lot of things,” she acknowledged, “but it could be worse. I don’t hate you and I don’t hate the fact that you’re my mom. But sometimes, to be honest, it feels like you hate me.”

“Oh, Maria . . .” Her mother reached across the table, squeezing her hand gently. “Of course I don’t hate you. It’s just . . . you know how I am. Sometimes I can’t express myself or express how I’m feeling without coming off as . . .” She made a face. “Oh, what’s the word I’m looking for?”

“Condescending?” Maria filled in readily. “Insensitive? Judgmental?”

“Well, all of the above, by the sound of it.”

“Listen, I know I’m not the ideal daughter. I made a lot of mistakes, and it disappointed you. It hurt you.” She really had been a pill back in the day, back before she’d gotten pregnant and she’d first started doing drugs, back before she’d gone to live with her dad. She and her mom had gotten in so many fights about what she was doing to her life. Looking back, Maria knew her mom had been right to warn her about everything that would happen if she went down that wrong path, that she’d only been trying to look out for her. But back then, at fourteen years old . . . she just hadn’t been able to see it.

“It did hurt,” Amy conceded. “It still does sometimes. I wish we were close. You know, I really worry what’s gonna happen when you move.”

“Why?” If her mom launched into a tirade about how she and Michael weren’t going to be able to handle all the responsibilities of adulthood, she was going to have to change the subject fast. Because that lecture was so old.

“I just worry I’ll lose touch with you completely,” she said. “You and Dylan . . . I know I don’t always show it, but you both mean so much to me.”

That wasn’t completely true, that she didn’t always show it. She always showed that she loved Dylan. That was never in question. He was just a little boy. He was too young to have disappointed her or hurt her in any way.

“You’re his grandmother,” she pointed out. “I won’t let him lose touch with you.”

“What if you get pregnant again?” Amy wondered out loud. “What if you have another baby and I never even get to be a part of its life?”

“Mom . . .” She wasn’t planning on getting pregnant again anytime soon. “If it happens, you’ll be a grandmother again. I’m not gonna just forget about you.”

“Do you think it will happen again soon?” Amy asked. “Or are you still being careful?”

Maria lowered her voice, mumbling, “We’re still being careful.”

Very careful?”

“Mom . . .” She really didn’t want to go into the details of her sex life.

“Okay, none of my business,” she said, holding up her hands. “I just . . . I’m just always thinking about what your life’s gonna be like, you know. Hoping for the best.”

“But expecting the worst?” Maria guessed.

“No, I’m . . . I’m cautiously optimistic right now,” Amy claimed. “Or at least I’m trying to be.”

This was the optimistic version of her mom? It was better than nothing, she supposed, but seriously . . . her mom hadn’t asked to see the ring again, hadn’t asked her if she’d ended up purchasing the wedding dress she’d spotted her trying on.

Oh, well. That would have been asking too much.

“Although I have to admit,” her mother added, “I’m a little curious as to why Michael suddenly decided he’s not going to college after all.”

Maria frowned. “How did you hear about that?” Was the town gossip in full swing again?

“Jim told me,” Amy revealed.

“Jim?” Since when were they on speaking terms again? “So that means you’re back together with him.”

“Well, he and Diane split up, so . . .” Her mother trailed off and shrugged.

“You decided to just step back in for your turn in the rotation?”

Giving her a stern look, her mother warned, “If you don’t want me to judge your relationship, maybe you shouldn’t judge mine.”

As much as Maria hated to admit it . . . damn, her mom was right. Judgment could go both ways, and even though she didn’t particularly understand or support her mom’s relationship with a known womanizer, she had no right to insult it. “Sorry,” she apologized, quickly getting back on topic. “So Jim told you, huh?”

“Yeah, I was talking about you and your engagement, and then he just mentioned it.” Her mother gave her an inquisitive look. “So what’s the reason for that, huh? Did he just decide he doesn’t wanna go?”

“No, he’s gonna go next year,” Maria informed her. “He just wanted to sit this year out so we could figure out all our financial stuff. He wants to work so it’ll be easier for us to pay our expenses our first year out on our own.”

“Hmm.” Even though her tone didn’t change much, Amy did say something not horribly judgmental in response. “That’s actually probably a good idea.”

“Yeah.” In some ways, some obvious ways, it was. “Yeah, it’ll work out.”

“Do you really think he’ll end up going to college, though?”

“Yeah, next year.”

Her mom half-smiled, sort of a skeptical smile. “Really?”

“Yes, Mom.” She had made up her mind not to dwell too much on the negative what-if scenarios. “I believe in him.”

“Well, that’s good, I suppose.”

Maria tried to push the question aside in her mind, forget her mom had even asked it. “We’re still moving, though, probably at the start of July. And the plan is to get married before that, so . . .”

Her mom’s eyebrows shot straight up. “Before that?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh my.”

“What?” Why did she sound like that worried her? What was there to worry about? It didn’t make a difference whether they got married this June or the next.

“Things just seem to be moving incredibly fast,” Amy remarked.

Well . . . that much was true. She hadn’t even known Michael for a year yet. But she knew him, knew she would never know anyone else like him or want to be with anyone the way she wanted to be with him. Forever.

“We actually started looking into adoption procedures, too,” Maria revealed. “So maybe by the end of the year . . .”

“Michael’s gonna adopt Dylan?” Amy sounded incredulous. “The boy who’s barely graduating high school is gonna step up and become somebody’s dad?”

“Mom, don’t say stuff like that.”

“Honey . . . he’s eighteen.”

“I’m nineteen,” she pointed out.

“You didn’t have a choice when you became a parent; he does.”

“Right, and he’s choosing this. Mom . . .” The lunch hadn’t been too bad so far, and it was freaking Mother’s Day. For the both of them. She didn’t want things to go south now.

“It’s like I said, I’m cautiously optimistic,” Amy reiterated. “And you should be, too.”

Great, advice, Maria thought. I don’t recall asking for advice.

“His whole life’s about to change, in more ways than he can even imagine,” Amy said, as if Maria didn’t already know that. “Moving to another state when you’re as young as he is . . . that’s one thing. But becoming a husband on top of it . . . that’s another thing. And then becoming somebody’s dad . . . that’s just something else entirely.”

“What are you saying?” Maria wasn’t even sure why she asked. If she didn’t want advice, especially her mom’s, then she should just let the conversation die. But her mom always knew how to say things that just egged on her curiosity.

“You just need to make sure,” her mother replied. “Make sure he’s ready.”

Maria shifted in her seat, averting her eyes. Michael still wasn’t the most responsible, disciplined guy—and truthfully, she didn’t want him to be, because then he wouldn’t be the guy she knew and loved. But at this point, when it came to the future, he was probably as ready as he would ever be. Hopefully it was enough.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Michael had always hated going out on dates. They were just too much pressure. Pressure to wear the right thing, go to the right place, say the right stuff once you were there. He had never taken Isabel out much, and the few brief girlfriends he’d strung along before her hadn’t been any different. But it was different with Maria. He enjoyed taking her out, because he knew she’d spent the majority of her teenage years staying in, hiding away.

“This is a nice surprise,” she said as they walked hand-in-hand down the sidewalk, past E.T.’s Pizzeria. “Date night.”

“It’s part of your Mother’s Day present,” he informed her. “I know I don’t take you out enough.”

“It’s fine,” she told him. “I get out more with you than I ever did when I was alone.”

“But I know I we should have date night more often,” he admitted. “Besides, I kinda like getting to show you off.”

She looked down at herself and said, “What’s there to show off? I didn’t even dress up.”

“You don’t have to.” Maria was one of those girls who could blow his mind in jeans and a simple shirt. She didn’t need to get all fancy.

He led her across the street right as the crosswalk was at the end of its countdown, and then led her down a dimly-lit side street.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“You’ll see.” He’d parked a few blocks away on purpose, just to keep her curious up until the last possible second.

“Come on, just tell me.”

“You’ll like it,” he promised.

“Are we eating somewhere?”

“Not really.” There were pastries and shit like that where he was taking them, but not actual meals.

He took a left at the stop sign, and there was their destination. It was a little family-run coffee shop called the Cosmic Coffee House. It might as well have been the little sister of the Crashdown, what with the alien figure out front, permanently posed in a position to wave at all who entered. He’d stumbled upon this place back in October, right after he’d accidentally gotten her fired. He’d gone in to ask if they had any applications for Maria to fill out, and they’d told him no. But that had given him a flyer listing all the open mic nights they had lined up through the end of summer.

“This place looks cute,” Maria said as they walked in. “Cliché, of course, but hey, we live in Roswell.”

“Everything’s a cliché,” he agreed, looking around. A good handful of people had showed up, maybe thirty or so. A few had instruments.

“What are we doing here?” Maria asked, still not getting it.

He grabbed her shoulders and turned her around so she could look up onto the small stage set up in the lounge area. It was actually more of a platform, just slightly elevated from the rest of the floor. There was a stool up there, along with a microphone. And a guitar. “Notice anything?” he asked.

She stared intensely, and it didn’t take her long to recognize the instrument. “That’s my guitar,” she said. “What is it doing here?”

“Hmm, I wonder.” He grinned, because at this point, it was obvious. He’d made arrangements for her to be the first act up tonight, because he knew that if she heard other people sing, she might get too nervous to go on. And in order to totally surprise her, he’d swung by and dropped off her guitar an hour earlier.

“You want me to sing?” she gasped. “In front of people?”

“You sing in front of me all the time,” he pointed out.

“Yeah, you.”

“This is no different.”

“It’s totally different. I’ve never sung in front of a crowd before.”

“It’s a small crowd,” he said. “Not hostile. Open mic night.”

“Michael . . .”

“Maria.” He smiled encouragingly. “Come on, you’re so good.”

“I mean . . . I’d like to sing,” she said, “but what if I mess up?”

“So?” Chances were, no one would even notice.

“I don’t even know what to sing,” she fretted. “What song would I choose?”

“I don’t know. Just sing any of the songs you sing for me, or when you think no one’s listening.”

Before she could freak herself out even more, the owner of the coffee shop stepped up on the platform, hushing the small crowd, and she said, “Thank you all so much for coming tonight. This is our last open mic night for a while, and I do believe we have some new talent willing to get things started for us.” She glanced at Michael, and he nodded to confirm. Yep, Maria was going up there. No way was he letting her back out. She’d sacrificed a lot in order to be a good mom to Dylan. Now she deserved at least this one moment in the spotlight.

“Michael, this is so sweet but so sneaky,” she said as he pushed her towards the stage. “What am I gonna sing?”

“Whatever you want.” He pushed her so close to the platform that she had no choice but to step up onto it as the owner introduced her.

“I’m gonna kill you for this,” she warned.

He shrugged. “Can’t think of a better way to die.”

People clapped for her as she made her way up to the microphone and the owner stepped aside. Michael found a spot at a table and settled in, trying to predict what she would sing. Sure, “Unchained Melody” was her favorite, but it had that really high note towards the end, and she probably wouldn’t want to do that without practicing it. He’d heard her singing some Dido a few weeks back, and some Skylar Grey before that. But there was always the possibility she’d sing for them the first song she’d ever sung for him. But then again, maybe not, because that was sort of just their moment.

“Oh god,” she said, probably not even realizing she spoke it into the microphone. She reached down and picked up her guitar and sat down on the stool, her left leg folded up beneath her, her other leg down to the floor. She plucked the strings a few times, then reached up to adjust the microphone so that it was lower. “Hi,” she greeted, smiling nervously.

She’s so pretty, Michael thought, feeling proud that she was his girlfriend. He really hoped she didn’t freeze up while she was up there. He wanted everyone in that room to see just how amazing she was.

“I didn’t know I was gonna be singing tonight,” she confessed. “My boyfriend kinda surprised me, like, two seconds ago.”

He smirked. Kind of surprised her? More like completely.

“So, uh . . . I guess I’ll just sing a song or two that make me think of him.”

Like a kid with a crush, he felt his heart beat a little faster.

She positioned her hands on the strings, and he saw that her fingers were shaking. But then she took a steadying breath, waited for a few seconds, and the shaking stopped. And then she started singing.

“Hey, I heard you were a wild one
Oh . . .
If I took you home it’d be a home run
Show me how you do.”


He recognized the song immediately, having heard it on the radio over and over again. But he immediately liked her version better, and he liked that she thought of him when she sang it.

“I wanna shut down the club
With you
Hey, I heard you like the wild ones
Wild ones, oh . . .”


When she sang the bigger notes, she usually closed her eyes, but whenever she opened them again, she looked right at him. No one else. And he loved that.

“I am a wild one
Break me in
Saddle me up and let’s begin
I am a wild one
Tame me now
Running with wolves
And I’m on the prowl.”


The more she sang, the more it intrigued him, turned him on, even. Each word, each note, was dripping with meaning. Maria was no longer that girl who was quietly living her life, content to go unnoticed. Somewhere along the way, she had gotten more in touch with herself, and she was more passionate now.

“Show you another side of me
Something you never thought you would see
Tear up that body
Gotta make sure that you’ve had enough
I hear you like the wild one!”


She definitely hadn’t stayed nervous for long. It seemed so natural for her up there, like she could sing the song without difficulty, play the chords without even thinking about it.

“Hey, I heard you were a wild one
Oh . . .
If I took you home it’d be a home run
Show me how you do.”


Michael couldn’t have looked away from her even if he’d tried, but if he had been able to, he was sure everyone else sitting in that coffee shop would have had their eyes transfixed on her the same way he did, completely captivated by a girl who was completely captivating.

“I wanna shut down the club
With you
Hey, I heard you like the wild ones
Oh . . .”


When she stopped singing and people started applauding, he realized just how enthralled he had been. It was like he had to literally shake himself out a stupor to clap along with the rest of them.

Again, her eyes locked onto his, and she smiled appreciatively. He could see her mind making a quick decision of what to sing next, and he felt like he could listen to her sing forever. Hearing her voice, hearing her do something she loved . . . it drove him wild for her.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max wasn’t ready to meet Liz’s parents yet, so when she invited him to dinner that night, he made up an excuse. He said he was taking his mom to a movie for Mother’s Day, when in reality, she was out with some of her friends.

He stayed in, because he had to. Couldn’t risk going out and possibly running into Liz and her family. Even though the likelihood of that was slim, he didn’t want to risk it. He’d risked enough in his day.

So he sat in the living room, listening to depressing ambient music, a genre he’d only gotten hooked on since he’d started college, and he preoccupied himself with looking through pictures on his phone. He deleted the ones he didn’t care about anymore, which were a lot of high school ones, and kept the ones that still meant something.

Among the pictures he kept was a very, very distant picture of Dylan. Actually, it was more of a picture of the hospital nursery. He remembered going there, feeling completely clueless, feeling like the only way to deal with things was to leave and get high.

****

Peering through the window, Max scanned the rows of babies, trying to locate his. It wasn’t easy. Their little cribs only said their first names, and he didn’t know what name Maria had chosen. And he couldn’t go ask her, because she didn’t even know he was there. And he wanted to keep it that way.

He saw a Joey who had dark hair. Was that his son? Or was it Raul, who was in the neighboring crib? Maria wouldn’t seriously name their kid Raul, would she?

He whipped out his phone and took a picture of the one side of the nursery, then took a picture of the other. He pretty much got all the babies in the shot, except for a few girls on the far side that obviously weren’t his. At least he knew he had a son. At least he knew that much.

A nurse walking past stopped when she saw him and asked, “Do you need some help?”

Did he need help? Oh, yeah. More than she could have ever imagined. “I’m just looking at them,” he said simply.

“Adorable, aren’t they?”

“Sure.” He wasn’t one of those people who thought babies were cute. He thought they were . . . terrifying.

“Is one of them yours?” the nurse inquired.

Of course she would ask that. He was nearly seventeen years old now, but he looked old enough to be in college. He looked like he was at an appropriate age to be a dad. But he wasn’t. This unsuspecting nurse didn’t know that. “Yeah,” he answered reluctantly, “one of them is mine.”

“Which one?” she asked.

He looked over at Joey again, wishing he could just tell, be intuitive about it somehow. But he just wasn’t sure which boy in that room belonged to him. “I don’t know,” he admitted. Maybe he’d never know. And maybe that was for the best.

He needed to go get wasted. That was the only way he could deal with this.


****

Max squinted at the photo. It was the one and only picture he’d had of Dylan over the years, and it wasn’t a very good one. Dylan was in the farthest row back, and even cropping the picture to zoom in on him didn’t help make him more visible. But Max had held onto that picture over the years, through multiple phone changes and upgrades. He’d always made sure that picture stayed with him. Because it was all he had.

He wondered how many pictures Maria had of Dylan. And then he started to wonder if Michael had pictures of him on his phone, too. Probably lots.

That pissed him off.

The front door opened, and Isabel came in. She looked trashed. Max had been around enough debauchery over the years to know that she’d been drinking, probably gotten high, too. But he wasn’t about to ask her, because she’d be too proud and reluctant to ever admit it, even to him.

“Hey,” he greeted, setting his phone aside.

“Hey,” she returned, dragging herself into the living room. “Is Mom home?”

“No, she went out,” he replied. “Where were you all day?” As if he didn’t already know.

“With Jesse,” she replied.

“Well, I guess that answers my next question: What were you doing?”

She rolled her eyes good-naturedly, sitting down beside him. “Actually, I filmed his friends making a movie today,” she informed him.

“Really? One of those movies?”

“Yes, one of those.”

“Huh.” His little sister . . . she was venturing into quite the edgy territory with these friends of hers. He wondered if it would be different when she went to Princeton, or if she would keep venturing.

“So Mom’s not home, you say,” she said as she kicked her feet up on the coffee table. “That’s too bad. I was really looking forward to another Your-boyfriend’s-no-good-for-you rant.”

“Yeah, she’s clearly anti-Jesse,” Max agreed.

“And pro-Liz.”

“Jealous?”

She shrugged. “Whatever. I’m used to it. She never liked Michael, either.”

“Imagine that.” He and his mother might still be getting to know each other again, but they had that very pertinent opinion in common. “Did you know she was asking me about Dylan today?”

“Really? What was she asking?”

“Just, you know, what he’s like.”

“To which you replied?”

He sighed, saying the same thing he had to the nurse three years ago. “I don’t know.”

Isabel tilted her head to the side, staring at him sympathetically. “Max . . .”

“And she asked if she’d ever be able to meet him, and I told her probably not, because Maria won’t even let me see him.” He grunted angrily, finding it really fucked up that, when he didn’t make an effort to see Dylan, he was the bad guy. And now that he finally was making an effort to see Dylan, he was still the bad guy. “You know, when I came here, I didn’t even know they were here. So obviously it wasn’t my intention to . . .” He trailed off, grappling with his own frustration. “But now that I’m here, and they’re still here . . . it’s weird, but it actually matters to me. I want him to know who I am.”

“I’m sure he does,” Isabel said. “Kids can tell who their real fathers are. When I was six, mom brought home her first real boyfriend since she and dad divorced. They were together for a while, and she actually almost got engaged to him. He told me I should start calling him dad, but I wouldn’t. Because I knew he wasn’t my dad.”

“That’s because you spent the first four years of your life with Dad,” he reasoned. “You might not remember him vividly, but you still remember him.” Dylan didn’t have that with him. He didn’t have any memories. He looked at him and saw a stranger. And as awful as it was to admit, Max saw a stranger in Dylan, too. Had he ever just passed him on the street, he wouldn’t have even known he was his son. There was a resemblance, sure, but not a big enough one.

“You’ll always be his dad, Max,” Isabel reassured him. “Nothing can ever change that.”

“That’s not exactly true, though.” He picked up his phone again, resuming his stroll through the old photos. He deleted the ones of him and Maria, not sure why he’d even kept them on there this long. “After they get married, Michael’s gonna end up adopting him, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.”

“There has to be,” she insisted.

He shrugged. “I can make it a hassle, but that’s it.” And what was the point of that? Why should he invest so much time and energy into something that wouldn’t even reward him in any way? His dad had taught him all about investments from a very young age, and he’d proceeded to make many bad ones, but not with money. He’d invested himself in drugs, in dealing, and now that that was all gone . . . he felt sort of lost. Powerless. And he wasn’t used to feeling that way.

“Max, you just have to remember . . . however it works out for you, for them . . . their lives aren’t really going anywhere. At least yours is.”

“Is it?” Lately, he wondered.

“Of course. Michael’s gonna end up being, like, a janitor or something. Maria’s probably gonna be a waitress for the rest of her life. But you’re gonna be this rich and successful lawyer.”

“You think so?”

“Obviously.”

Was it really obvious, though? He had the last name, the one that tended to be equated with privilege and prestige. Every man in his family seemed to do well, and everyone assumed he wouldn’t be any different. But he’d already screwed up so much. What if it was too late to get his shit together?

“What about you?” he said. “You’ll probably be a rich and successful writer.”

“Hopefully,” she said. “It doesn’t matter, though. People around here will always know me as the girl from the porno.”

Max shrugged. “There’s worse things.” He would have loved for pornography to be the worst of his problems.

“I guess,” she said, sighing. “Hey, Max?”

“Hmm?”

She fell silent for a moment, and when she spoke again, she did so quietly. “I know you always boast about being an Evans. We know we’re smart and good-looking and . . . yeah, we probably will be successful. But . . .” She bit her bottom lip, as though she were hesitating to finish her thought. “Do you ever actually feel sort of pathetic?”

He didn’t even have to think about his answer. The answer was in the crappy photo of dozens of babies in the hospital nursery, a picture where he hadn’t even known enough to make Dylan the focal point. He clutched his phone tightly, and gave an honest response to the only person he felt like he could give it to, the only person who would understand. “All the time.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As the coffee house started to clear out, Michael held Maria on his lap. He had yet to move from the table he’d sat down at while she’d performed. Part of him was hoping that, once everyone was gone, she’d hop back up on that stage and sing another song for him. Just him this time.

“Babe, you did so good,” he told her, even though he’d already told her that at least a dozen times.

“Thanks,” she said, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Seriously, you were the best one.”

“I don’t know, I thought the guy at the end was really good.”

“But you were better.” Sure, he was biased as hell, but she’d gotten the biggest round of applause out of everyone, so clearly the crowd had agreed with him. “You were the best.”

“Mmm.” She bent forward and kissed his cheek, then whispered in his ear, “You’re the best.”

He smiled, trying to recall a time when he had ever been the best at anything—besides sex. Couldn’t come up with anything. And even though he knew he wasn’t the world’s best boyfriend, it felt good to know Maria was thinking of him that way. At least for right now. Come tomorrow, he’d say something to piss her off and she’d reconsider.

“I can’t believe you did this for me,” she murmured, nuzzling his neck.

He rubbed her back, wishing he could claim that it had been a huge undertaking, required a lot of effort. “It wasn’t that hard.” All he’d done was come in for a few seconds and ask the owner if it was okay for her to perform, which, since it was an open mic night, hadn’t even really been necessary.

She sat up straighter, resting her hands on his shoulders. “I’ll admit, after the MILF card this morning, I thought that was all I was getting. But then you go and do this, and . . . it’s so romantic.”

“I know, right? I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve oddly been doin’ alright on the romance stuff this year.”

“You have,” she agreed.

“Buyin’ you a guitar for Christmas, kissing you for the first time on your birthday. Now this. And let’s not forget the ‘Unchained Melody’ lovemaking.”

“I’ll never forget that,” she promised.

“Yeah, I don’t know, I got a hell of a streak going here. I might as well ride it out.”

She laughed a little, shifting on top of him. It probably wasn’t supposed to be a sexual maneuver, but when she did it, her ass brushed against his crotch, and it was hard not to think of it that way.

“Hey, speaking of riding it out . . .” Having her on his lap like this was very inspiring.

“And just like that, the romance is gone,” she said.

“What? No. I still got it.”

“No, you don’t. But that’s okay,” she assured him. “I kinda like it when you’re just fucking horny, too.”

He stared at her in amazement. He didn’t know why, but something about the way she said that turned him on so much. “ ‘cause you’re the same,” he concluded.

“Yeah,” she admitted. “I’m, like, in a constant state of arousal for you. It’s not even fair.”

He grinned proudly. “What? How is that not fair?”

“Because I can’t concentrate on anything else. Literally, the whole time I was up there singing, all I could think about was how I wanted to take you home and rip your clothes off.”

Oh, screw romance, Michael thought. His girl was fucking sexy and horny as hell. He’d taught her well. “That can be arranged,” he told her. “Actually, that’s kind of mandatory.”

“Is it?”

“Yeah. Hot sex is part three of your Mother’s Day gift trifecta.”

“Oh, yeah? Are you gonna fascinate me?” she teased, leaning in.

“Yeah, ‘cause you’re a mom I’d like to fascinate.” He held her cheek and kissed her, not even caring that there were still a few people filtering out. They could watch. And be jealous.

“Okay, we should go home now,” she suggested.

“Uh-huh,” he agreed, still unable to stop kissing her.

“I’m serious.”

“Uh-huh.” He, on the other hand, was seriously thinking he wouldn’t make it home without ripping her clothes off. Maybe the backseat of the car would suffice. Or . . . a really animalistic part of him had always fantasized about taking her out back behind the Crashdown, right against the wall.

Possibilities. He wondered just how wild she was willing to be tonight.

“Excuse me?”

His mind barely even registered the voice of the owner, but Maria at least was aware enough to tear her mouth away from his. “Oh, hi,” she said, smoothing her clothes down as she stood up. “Thank you so much for having this tonight.”

“Thanks for singing,” the owner returned. “You were so good.”

“Thank you.”

“See?” Michael stood up. “I’m not the only one who thought that.”

“I’m Leah,” the woman said, shaking Maria’s hand. “Just out of curiosity, do you just sing for fun, or do you actually make some money off of it?”

“Oh, um . . .” Maria shook her head. “No, just for fun.”

“She’s great, isn’t she?” Michael said.

“Yeah, she’s really good,” Leah agreed. “Hey, listen, I know this is kind of out of the blue and all, but I’m actually in a band with a few other girls called Vegas Winter. Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of us. Anyway, we’re hittin’ up the west coast starting Thursday, just doing a few shows at some bars and lounges and stuff. We really wanted an opening act. Any chance you’re interested?”

Maria looked stunned. “What?”

“It’s nothing big, nothing major, but you would make at least a little money. And you’d get some exposure,” Leah tried to persuade her.

“You want me to . . . take a road trip with you?” Maria summarized. “With you and your band?”

“Yeah, it’ll be fun. We’ve got a few talent scouts scheduled to come see us at this venue in L.A. They’d probably be willing to watch you perform, too.”

“Me?” Maria looked like she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Are you sure I was that good?”

“You were great,” Leah reiterated. “Look, it wouldn’t be too intense for you. Maybe just two songs a night, for about a week. We’ve got six places lined up. It’s a win-win. We get an opening act, you get a chance to sing.”

“Wow. Um . . .” Maria’s eyes were wide with amazement. “Yeah, it sounds really fun, but . . .”

“But what?” Michael cut in. “Maria, this is awesome.”

“It is,” she agreed. “But it’s kinda hard to just take off for a week. I mean, I have to work.”

“Oh, trust me, I get it,” Leah said. “My dad—he’s technically the one who owns this place; I just manage it when he’s not here—he was pretty upset when I told him I was going. He thinks singing’s just a pipe dream of mine. But you never know which performance is gonna be the big one, you know. Something might come of it.”

“Yeah,” Maria said. “Maybe for you, and your band, but not for me.”

Leah frowned. “You don’t wanna be a singer?”

“No, I’d love to,” Maria said, “but, um . . . it’s just kinda complicated.”

“Why?” Michael pressed.

“You know why.”

No, honestly, he didn’t. “Just talk to your boss, get some other waitress to cover your shifts,” he suggested simply. “My mom won’t have a problem with letting you off work to go. You know that.”

“Yeah, but what about Dylan?”

“What about him?”

“I can’t just take him up the west coast, Michael.”

“You don’t have to. He’s fine with me.”

“Yeah, but . . .”

He frowned, trying to understand. Did she not think he could take care of Dylan by himself for a week? She didn’t really think that, did she?

“I’d feel guilty,” she said, “leaving him here with you and your family while I’m off on some road trip.”

“Is Dylan your son?” Leah guessed.

“Yeah,” Maria replied. “He’s only three.”

“I understand,” Leah said. “I had a baby when I was pretty young, too. It’s hard to pursue anything for yourself when you’re a mom.”

“Exactly,” Maria said. “So thank you so much for the offer, but . . .”

“No, Maria, come on,” Michael interrupted, not willing to stand there and listen to her pass up a huge opportunity. “You can go.”

“What about your graduation?”

“Graduation?” Leah echoed. “I thought most colleges had already had their graduations by now.”

“No, high school,” he mumbled. “Maria, you’d be back in time for graduation. Which I might not even go to, so don’t even try to use that as an excuse.”

“We have a wedding to plan,” she reminded him, “and pay for. I should be working, not gallivanting about.”

“Gallivanting?” That was a hell of an SAT word. Pretty impressive for someone who’d never taken the SAT.

“I’m really sorry I can’t go,” Maria apologized to Leah, “but thank you so much for even inviting me along. And I hope you and your band have a great time.”

Leah sighed disappointedly. “Okay,” she said. “Well, listen, if you change your mind . . .” She jotted down her phone number on a napkin and handed it to Maria. “Give me a call. Like I said, we don’t leave ‘til Thursday night.”

“Okay,” Maria said. “Thanks.” She grabbed Michael’s hand, and suddenly looking like she couldn’t get out of their fast enough, she headed for the door. Reluctantly, he followed her, wishing she would put herself first for once. Here she was, passing up an opportunity when she was always so worried about him doing the same.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria moaned contentedly as she leaned back against Michael in the bathtub that night, her arms draped back over his shoulders. He smiled at the little sound, enjoying being her human pillow as she recuperated from the two orgasms he’d given her. The first had been when she’d been sitting in front of him just like this, and he’d reached around and put his hand beneath the water to dip between her legs. She’d squirmed all about, splashing water onto the floor, as she’d cum on his hand, and then, without much of a delay, she’d turned around and settled on top of him, riding both of them to orgasm just the way he’d envisioned tonight. He loved to dominate most of the time, but he also loved watching her on top.

“You feel good?” he asked her.

“Yes,” she purred. “That was fascinating.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, happy that he could make her feel this way. Max may have been the first guy to ever have sex with her, but he was the one who had truly taught her about sex, pushed her to discover what she liked and how to get it.

He kissed her wrist, then her cheek, then slid one of his arms around her stomach beneath the water, letting the other rest atop her thigh. Her skin was so smooth. It was hard to control his hands, because he just wanted to keep touching her.

“We should do it in water more often,” she proposed.

“Yeah, I know.” Usually they couldn’t make it out of the bedroom, though. “I got a lot of ideas for locations.”

“Like what?” she asked.

“Like . . .” Aha, perfect time to reveal his back alley fantasy. “Okay, behind the Crashdown, out back. Preferably when you’re wearing your uniform. Just a good old-fashioned fuck.”

“Hmm . . .”

“Yeah, and then there’s—ah, let’s see—the school. Gotta do it there before I graduate.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah. I was thinkin’, you could bring me lunch—once again in your uniform . . .”

“You really have a fetish for this outfit, don’t you?”

“Oh, yeah. You bring me food, and I bring you to orgasm, right on Mr. Frost’s desk.”

She laughed amusedly. “Which one’s Mr. Frost?”

“Chemistry teacher.”

“Oh, you hate him.”

“Exactly.” The guy had been a prick all year. What better way to exact vengeance than to fuck on the place where he sat playing Solitaire on his computer every day?

“Where else?” she asked eagerly.

“Well, the library is a must-do.”

“But you’re supposed to be quiet in the library,” she pointed out.

“Yeah, good luck with that.”

She laughed again, lowering her arms beneath the water to rest on top of his. “Those are good ideas,” she agreed.

“Think we can make ‘em happen?”

“At least the Crashdown one.”

“Good.” That was pretty much the most important.

“Mmm,” she moaned as her eyes fell closed. “I’m so tired.”

“Don’t fall asleep,” he told her.

“Why not?”

“Because, if you fall asleep, I’ll fall asleep. And then we’ll be really shriveled by the time we get out of here.”

“That’s okay.”

He smiled adoringly. Yeah, it was okay, wasn’t it? Maybe he could wait until she was out, then carefully lift her out, carry her into the bedroom, and tuck her in, all without waking her up.

“Michael?” she whispered.

“Yeah?”

She linked her fingers with his on the hand atop her stomach, asking, “Did I really sound that good tonight?”

Perfect, he thought, a segue. He really wanted to talk to her some more about that offer the coffee shop girl had made, but he didn’t want to sound pushy about it. “You sounded awesome. And apparently I’m not the only person who thought so.”

“Yeah.” She opened her eyes again, a thoughtful look on her face. “That really surprised me when that girl said she wanted me to go along with them.”

“You know what surprises me?” he said.

“What?”

“That you’re not even considering it.”

She tensed up, no longer looking tired as she sat up straighter. “You think I should?” she asked, furrowing her brow.

“Yeah.” He rubbed her shoulders, feeling like there was a chance to do some convincing here. Obviously it was still heavy on her mind; otherwise she wouldn’t have brought it up.

“I don’t know . . .” she mumbled. He could practically hear her thinking herself out of it.

“Remember when you were trying to convince me to apply for college?” he said. “And I asked why I should go. You remember what you said to me?”

She smiled softly and echoed her own response. “Why wouldn’t you?”

“Exactly. So why wouldn’t you go do this?”

She turned around so that she could face him better. “It’s just kind of coming out of nowhere, don’t you think?” she said.

“Most good things do.”

“But I don’t even know this Leah girl, or her band.”

“Well, you know they’re all girls,” he pointed out, “so it’s not like you’d be hopping on board with a bunch of guys.” If there had been guys in this band, he probably would have insisted on going with her. But with it just being girls, she could rest assured that she’d be safe and probably have a really good time.

“But it’s for a week,” she said, still talking herself out of it. “I can’t just take off for a week. It’d be selfish.”

“What? Selfish?” He looked at her in dismay. “How is it selfish?”

“I have a son to take care of.”

“And you have a boyfriend who’s perfectly capable of taking care of him.”

She put one hand on his chest, right over his heart. “I know.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“It’s just . . .” She sighed. “You shouldn’t have to take care of him on your own.”

“You did,” he pointed out. “For three years.”

“But I didn’t have a choice.”

He frowned, really not following.

“Look, Michael . . . I really appreciate it, but . . .” She sighed, looking like she was having a hard time articulating herself. “When I had Dylan, I pushed all the singing stuff to the back burner. You know, I kinda just forgot about it because . . . I had to forget about it.”

“Yeah, and now you don’t have to.”

“But I don’t wanna get caught up in all of this,” she protested. “My life changed. I don’t dream about being a famous singer anymore. I dream about Dylan being happy. You know, all of us being happy together.”

“So you think it’d make you selfish to go off and do this because it’d be the one thing in the past three years you’ve done just for you?” he deduced.

“Yes.”

He laughed at the absurdity of that. “Maria, you’re probably the least selfish person I know. You gave up high school for Dylan. You’re moving to another state for me. You’re not selfish.”

“But I’m not some rock star, either,” she pointed out.

“No one’s saying you have to be. Just go with these girls, sing at these places, and have fun with it. You know you’d have fun.”

“Well . . .” She smiled a little. “Yeah, I would.”

“And when you come back, everything will be fine. And you can go back to normal.”

Still, she was reluctant. “I don’t know, Michael.”

“Maria, I just . . .” He stroked her hair, his fingers getting tangled in the wet ends. “I don’t want you to give up this chance.”

“This chance to what?” she asked.

“To live your life a little, do somethin’ you’ve always wanted to do, even if it is just for a week.”

“Really?” She gave him a look. “This, coming from you?”

“What does that mean?”

“You’re giving up the chance to go to college for me.”

“Just this year,” he reminded her. “I’m still gonna go next year. But there’s no guarantee you’re gonna have this same chance next year, Maria. So you gotta take it now.”

She sighed heavily, but he could see her resolve lessening. “But we have a wedding to plan,” she babbled, “and I work two jobs—two jobs. And I don’t even have that girl’s number anymore, ‘cause I threw away the napkin.”

“That’s alright. I fished it out of the trash.” He smirked. “Come on, quit trying to think of excuses.”

“I’m not--”

“Yes, you are.” He put his arm around her waist and lifted her forward so she could rest more fully on top of him. He kissed her and traced his hands up and down her spine. If nothing else, maybe he could bribe her with the promise of mind-blowing sex when she returned.

“I’ll think about it,” she decided.

“Don’t think; just do it,” he urged.

“Huh, see, it’s that kind of attitude that produced Dylan in the first place.”

“Just do it,” he repeated, unable to see a downside. She got a week to remember, and he got a chance to step up and prove to all his doubters that he could be a good dad and take care of Dylan just fine.

“I’ll think about it,” she said again.

Well . . . that was something. Probably all he was going to get for tonight, at least. But he felt like he’d done a good job convincing her, and ultimately, it was obvious what she wanted to do. She just needed another day or so to realize there was absolutely nothing to feel guilty or selfish about.








TBC . . .

-April
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LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

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Re: Someone, Anyone (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) Part 76, 09/12/1

Postby keepsmiling7 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 6:58 am

Michael really wants to please Maria......and I think he would be a very good dad to Dylan.
Then you pop in that Max has been carrying a small picture of his son on his phone all of these years. Maybe he isn't so bad after all.
But he did leave the hospital those years ago to get wasted. Not very responsible!
Thanks,
Carolyn

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Re: Someone, Anyone (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) Part 76, 09/12/1

Postby sarammlover » Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:33 am

Whoa...that was a direction I wasn't expecting....I am SO glad Maria got her chance to sing. I wonder if Michael will end up resenting her if she gets farther in her music...but I don't think so. I think we need to realize that maybe this Michael wasn't meant to be a football player. Maybe he was actually meant to be a stay at home dad supporting his wife emotionally and with her huge music career she will support them financially. Am I looking too far ahead???

Is Isabel really going to Princeton? I think not. I don't think she will go when the time actually comes. Her decisions are lame.
Looking forward to the next update!

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Part 77

Postby April » Sat Sep 19, 2015 11:48 am

Carolyn:
Michael really wants to please Maria......and I think he would be a very good dad to Dylan.


Michael's bond with Dylan is a very natural and beautiful thing. He would be (and already is) a great father to him.

Then you pop in that Max has been carrying a small picture of his son on his phone all of these years. Maybe he isn't so bad after all.


Even though it's tempting to just dismiss Max as a jerk, a loser, a complete asshole . . . he does have layers.


Sara:
I am SO glad Maria got her chance to sing. I wonder if Michael will end up resenting her if she gets farther in her music...but I don't think so.


I don't think so, either. :)

I think we need to realize that maybe this Michael wasn't meant to be a football player. Maybe he was actually meant to be a stay at home dad supporting his wife emotionally and with her huge music career she will support them financially. Am I looking too far ahead???


Maria isn't necessarily viewing this as the first step to some huge music career. She's just viewing it as an opportunity to go do something she loves, just for a week, to have an experience that's just for her. But I think you're right that Michael isn't meant to be some big-time football player, and he knows that. He has the potential to play at the college level, but Kyle's really the one who has the talent to play at the highest level of the sport.

Is Isabel really going to Princeton? I think not. I don't think she will go when the time actually comes.


Well, it's been a lifelong dream of hers, but lately her life has changed, so . . . I can see why you have your doubts.


Thanks for the feedback!








Part 77








Even though she didn’t hate working at the Crashdown, Liz wished she were somewhere else. Preferably back on campus. She’d declined to take summer classes, thinking that it would be nice to be at home with her parents again for a few months. And it was. Yet she found that she missed the college lifestyle. Next summer, she was definitely going to take summer classes, maybe convince Max to take a few with her.

She couldn’t complain about her summer job, though. Working for her parents definitely had its advantages. Like super built-in flexibility with hours and scheduling. Plus, they always let her work the daytime shifts, which always seemed to go faster than the evening ones. Some days, though, like this one, were just slow-going. Even the lunch rush wasn’t much of a rush.

Seemingly enjoying herself much more than Liz was, Maria came back into the café from the backroom, three minutes after her break had ended. Her ponytail was looser than it had been when she’d gone on break, and the top button of her uniform was undone. “Sorry,” she apologized. “Lost track of time.”

“Michael?” Liz guessed, motioning toward the button.

“What?” Maria quickly looked down and buttoned herself up. “Oh, no, there was a . . . there was a cat, and I . . . I fought with it and—okay, don’t tell anyone, please?”

Liz laughed a little. “Don’t worry, I won’t.” She knew Michael could be pretty tempting. If she hadn’t been a virgin when she’d met him, he probably would have been able to convince her to slip back behind the Crashdown for a nooner any day of the week.

“So when did you two officially get together?” Liz asked, taking a seat at the counter. Though there was always cleaning to be done, there were no customers, so she was more than ready to get off her feet. She’d felt lethargic all morning.

“Well, um . . . we kissed for the first time around the end of January,” Maria told her, sitting down beside her. “On my birthday.”

“Aw, that’s kinda sweet.”

“No, not really. He was still with Isabel at the time.”

“Oh.” Liz cringed. “Yeah, maybe not then.”

“But eventually he broke up with her, and then we got together.”

“I figured you would,” Liz said, glancing over to the booth where they had sat together one day, where she had waited on them and just known there was something going on. “When I came back for Christmas break and saw you two together, I knew it was inevitable. I could tell he liked you. And it was really obvious you liked him.”

“Really obvious?”

“Oh, yeah. But that’s natural. I think every girl in this town has had a crush on Michael at some point. You’re just the one who made him fall in love, and pop the question, and do all sorts of things I never thought he’d do.”

“Yeah.” Maria looked down at her ring giddily. “It’s been really surprising.”

“I’ll bet.” Now that she knew Maria’s full story, Liz couldn’t help but wonder how that impacted her and Michael’s relationship. Maybe it made it stronger, a deeper connection somehow. But it was still just head-spinning to her that Michael Guerin of all people would knowingly enter into a relationship where there would always be a third person to take into account.

“Now before the summer’s over,” Maria went on, “I’ll be married and moving to another state with this guy I didn’t even know a year ago.” She beamed. “I feel really lucky, you know? I think it’s pretty hard to find a bad boy who’s a good man.”

“Hmm.” Liz could relate to that feeling. She felt that way with Max all the time. He was a little rough around the edges, in ways most people wouldn’t expect. But once she’d gotten to know him better, she’d realized that there was a lot of substance to him.

Max and Michael, she thought. Damn, she and Maria definitely had a type.

“I can’t believe Michael’s going to college,” she remarked, still struggling to wrap her mind around that. When Isabel had told her, she hadn’t believed her, not at first, not until Max had confirmed it.

“Well, he’s taking a year off,” Maria informed her.

“Still . . . just going at all . . . that’s not the Michael I knew.” They’d had plenty of conversations last year—conversations that had bordered on disagreements—about whether or not college was a sham or actually worthwhile. Michael had seemed pretty determined back then to go against the grain of what most high school seniors did these days and not go.

“What’s college like?” Maria asked. “Since I’ll probably never get to go.”

“Oh, I love it,” Liz replied. “It’s a lot different than I thought it would be.”

Maria tilted her head to the side. “How so?”

“Well, it’s just that I always envisioned myself being the bookworm who would lock herself away in her dorm room, studying every spare second. But it wasn’t like that. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I got good grades because I studied hard; but I also got out there. I met people. I went to parties. I made friends. Even found a boyfriend.”

“Really?” Maria grinned. “Do tell.”

Liz laughed nervously. “Well, actually, it’s—it’s kind of a funny story.” She cringed, reconsidering that. “Actually, it’s not that funny and not much of a story at all. The guy I’m with right now . . . you know him.”

Maria looked surprised. “I do?”

“Pretty well, in fact.” Oh, here we go, Liz thought. This conversation, much like Michael and Maria’s relationship, was inevitable. It had to happen at some point or another. “I’m dating Max.”

Everything about Maria froze, except her mouth. “Max Evans?”

Liz nodded. “Yep.”

Maria stared at her in disbelief, repeating the question. “Max Evans?”

“Your ex-boyfriend, father of your child.” Liz shrugged and smiled nervously. “Small world, huh?”

“Oh my god,” Maria gasped. “Liz. How much do you know about him?”

“I know . . . a lot,” Liz admitted. “Granted, he didn’t tell me about you and Dylan until a few days ago, but I know he used to have a drug problem, and he used to be a dealer.”

“Probably still is.”

“No, he’s not,” Liz informed her. “He doesn’t do that stuff anymore.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Positive.” These last few months of college, Liz had basically lived with Max. Her own dorm room had become a place she only slept in once or twice a week.

“Look, Liz . . .” Maria leaned in, lowering her voice even though no one was around to hear them. “Max is a really bad guy. Trust me.”

“Maybe he was when he was with you.”

“Don’t be naïve, okay? He’s a really good liar. He lied to me all the time. Like the time he said he’d be there for me and Dylan. Total lie. He’s never been there for us. Not once in three years.”

“I’m not excusing how he acted back then,” Liz acknowledged. “I didn’t know him, but he admitted that he did some pretty bad things. He regrets it. That’s why he’s been trying to get to know Dylan now, but he said you won’t let him see him.”

Because he’s a bad guy,” Maria explained. “Do you see how we’ve come full circle here?”

“Maria, with all due respect to everything you’ve been through with him . . . you don’t know him anymore.”

“No, and I’m glad I don’t,” Maria snapped, “because he almost ruined my life. And he’s gonna ruin yours, Liz. That’s what he does.”

“No one’s ruining my life,” Liz claimed. She felt stronger and more confident now than she ever had before. Back in high school, she’d been a meek, self-conscious nobody. Now she was proud to be who she was, excited to be who she was.

“He’s a bad person, Liz.”

“No, he’s not. He’s gonna be a junior in college. He’s studying to be a lawyer. He’s not into drugs anymore, and he’s been a good boyfriend.”

“For how long?” Maria asked. “A couple weeks?”

“More like four months.”

Maria laughed angrily. “Okay, yeah, that sounds familiar. After four months, my relationship with him tanked. Because I got pregnant and he bailed.”

Liz shifted uncomfortably. “Maria, I wasn’t trying to upset you or start an argument. I just wanted you to know.”

“We’re not arguing, Liz. I just wanna make sure you know what you’re getting into. You seem like a nice enough girl, someone I might actually be friends with if we weren’t . . . you know . . .”

“Screwing each other’s exes?” Liz filled in. Although she and Michael had never technically dated, so did he qualify as an ex?

“Something like that,” Maria mumbled. “Look . . . as long as you’re dating him, you’re on a slippery slope. I know that better than anyone.”

Even though Liz could understand where she was coming from, to a degree, she was starting to get a little annoyed. It wasn’t fun to sit here and listen to someone badmouth her boyfriend, even if that person had every right and reason to. “People can change, Maria,” she argued politely, knowing with absolute certainty that Max had. “I’ve changed, and I’m sure you have, too.”

“Well . . .” Maria rolled her eyes. “Okay, of course I have, but . . . just because Max has changed, and even if he’s changed for the better . . . there’s always the possibility that he could change back.” She shook her head, as if the whole thing disappointed her or frustrated her or something, and then she got up when a customer walked in.

“Couldn’t I say the same about Michael?” Liz challenged, not seeing how the situations were that different.

Maria looked like she desperately wanted to have a response to that, but she didn’t. So she left Liz at the counter and approached the customer, practically ushering him over to her section so that she could wait on him. “Welcome to the Crashdown,” she greeted. “Can I get you something to drink?”

Liz got up as well and headed into the bathroom. She hadn’t been feeling well all day, and this conversation had just made her feel worse.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Arms up,” Maria instructed.

Dylan lifted his arms, and she put his pajama shirt on. He was upset because his jersey was in the wash and he wouldn’t be able to wear it to bed tonight. But he was also upset because of the mere fact that it was bedtime. For him, anyway. At least it was supposed to be. But it seemed to Maria that he kept managing to stay awake later and later these days.

“Alright, got the bath done, the pajamas on,” she recapped. “You feeling tired yet?”

He shook his head exaggeratedly. “Nope.”

She groaned. “Why not?”

He shrugged. “I dunno.”

“Well, you’re gonna have to get tired, because I’m tired, and I wanna go to bed,” she informed him.

“No!” he whined.

Yes.” She and Jose had to open the Crashdown tomorrow, and early mornings were rough enough without late nights to accompany them. “Come on, let’s go to bed.”

“No.” He had just started to struggle against her when his eyes lit up. “Daddy’s home!” He darted out of the room, and she lost all will to be frustrated. Because seriously, how cute was it that he was like a little puppy who heard the front door open and knew exactly what that meant?

She followed him out, and indeed, Michael was coming in the door, struggling to get his shoes off as Dylan wrapped his arms around both his legs. He had been over at Kyle’s all evening, cramming for their English final. Michael hadn’t wanted to go, but Maria and Kyle had both insisted. His English grade was a D, but if he bombed the final, there was a risk that it could slide down into the failing range.

“Whoa, hey, buddy,” he said. “Aren’t you supposed to be in bed?”

Dylan shook his head. “Nope.”

“No, huh?” Michael gave Maria look, and she laughed a little. Maybe they needed to be more stern with him, but when he was so damn cute, it was really hard.

“Pway with me,” Dylan said.

“No, I can’t play with you,” he declined. “You gotta go to bed.”

Dylan pouted.

“But . . .” Michael reached into his pocket and pulled out a small roll of Sweet Tarts. Dylan’s favorite candy. “Look what I got you.”

“Yay!” Dylan exclaimed, seizing them from Michael. He pranced into the living room and sat down on the couch so he could focus on getting the roll open and eating.

“Why would you give him that right now?” Maria questioned. “He wasn’t tired to begin with. Now he’s never gonna fall asleep.”

Michael shrugged. “Kid likes candy.”

“Yeah, well, I like my sleep.”

“Maybe he won’t be able to handle the sugar rush,” Michael suggested, “and he’ll just crash right there on the couch.”

“Not likely.” Maria had watched Dylan eat all of his Halloween candy in two days, and he’d never been more energized.

“Oh, well,” Michael said, sauntering towards her. “I’ll stay up with him.”

Maria looped her arms around her boyfriend’s waist, closing the gap between them. “But I wanna sleep with you.”

He raised an intrigued eyebrow. “Define sleep.”

“Michael . . .”

“What? I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted my hands all over you. I’m fucking irresistible.”

She smiled, leaning into him. “I’m so tired,” she moaned. “I didn’t get enough sleep last night.”

“Because of how fascinating I was?”

“And because I just had, like, insomnia,” she complained. “I was thinking all about the whole singing thing, you know.”

“Yeah?” He rubbed her back, asking, “Did you make up your mind?”

“I think so.”

He waited for her to say something more, but when she didn’t, he prompted, “And?”

She sighed, hoping she had made an okay decision. “I think I’m gonna go.”

“Really?” His whole face lit up with excitement for her. “Maria, that’s great.”

“You think?”

“Hell yeah. Come here.” He hugged her, pressing a quick kiss to her shoulder, and then her cheek. “I’m so glad you’re gonna go.”

“Will you miss me?” she asked.

“Of course. But at least it’s just a week. And we can have phone sex. It’ll be hot.”

“Phone sex, huh?”

“Yeah. And I’ll send you dick pics.”

“Oh, how romantic.” She didn’t doubt that he would, though. Michael, with his complete lack of inhibitions, would not hesitate to sext her. “I wish you could come with me, but with your finals and everything . . . and someone has to be here to take care of Dylan.”

“Oh, yeah, he and I are gonna have a great time,” Michael promised her. “I’ll take him to the pool this weekend, start teachin’ him how to swim.”

“Don’t take him to the pool,” she said. Even though she knew Michael would look after Dylan well, she didn’t want to be worrying about him being in the pool for the first time while she was gone. That was something she had to be there for. “Take him to the zoo. And you have to promise that I can talk to him every day.”

“Promise,” Michael said. “We’re gonna be fine here. And you’re gonna have a blast.”

“I hope so.” That was sort of the point. If she had never gotten pregnant with Dylan, maybe singing would have been a pursuit she hadn’t given up on. Maybe she would have been going on a lot more road trips like this. “I just needed to think it through last night to realize you were right: It doesn’t make me selfish to go out and do something just for me. I mean, it still feels kind of weird, because I never thought I’d even have the chance to have a week like this, but . . . it’ll be good.”

“Yeah, you’ll love it,” he agreed. “I’m so fucking proud of you.”

“Why?”

“Because.” He smoothed his hand over her hair, staring at her adoringly. “You’re putting yourself first for once.”

She didn’t argue that, but really, she wasn’t sure if it was true. Dylan would always come first, no matter what. He had to. If she even heard him so much as cough while she was on the phone with him, she would have to fight the urge to hightail it straight back home and make sure he was okay. But in her heart, she felt like she had nothing to worry about, because she knew he would be fine with Michael. Fine with his dad.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“So this is what it’s gonna look like,” Kyle said at breakfast in the cafeteria the next day. When he handed Michael a sketch of what he was planning for his proposal to Tess, Michael’s mind started to spin. Apparently it was happening on Friday morning, and it was so elaborate that he was going to need help getting it ready on Thursday night. But that was a problem for Michael, since Maria was taking off for the week on Thursday night. He told Kyle he’d stay after school and help him with as much as he could, but once 5:00 rolled around, he had to take off.

“You think she’ll like it?” Kyle asked.

Michael grunted. “It’s over-the-top and cheesy. She’ll love it.”

“I’ll make you a copy of the diagram,” Kyle told him, taking it back from him. “I’ll make a copy for the other guys, too, since they agreed to help.”

“The diagram,” Michael echoed. “Dude, I can’t believe you have a diagram for your proposal.”

“This is your fault, you know,” Kyle claimed. “Ever since you popped the question to Maria, Tess has been puttin’ a lot of pressure on me. This proposal’s gotta be bigger, better than she ever could have dreamed. She’s not low-maintenance.”

“No, she’s not,” Michael readily agreed. “Let me guess, though: That’s one of the things you love most about her.” When it came to Tess, every little thing was one of the things Kyle loved most about her.

“It’s just who she is,” Kyle said. “And I must not mind if I’m willing to marry her.”

“Hmm.” Chances were, their wedding, whenever it happened, would require twenty diagrams.

In the midst of their conversation, Michael looked up and saw the strangest thing: his dad. His dad walking into the school. Stumbling, actually.

Oh, shit, he thought. What the fuck is this about?

“Put the diagram away,” he told Kyle quickly.

“What? Why?”

Michael nodded his head in the direction of the entrance. When Kyle saw his dad approaching, he quickly folded up his proposal plan and stuffed it in his physics notebook. “Hey, Andy,” he greeted.

“Kyle.”

Michael rose to his feet, noting that Antonio and the other guys had gotten their breakfast and were coming towards the table. He didn’t want them or anyone else to sit down until his dad was out of there. “What’re you doing here?” he asked.

“I’m here to see you,” his dad slurred. “Why the hell else would I be here?”

“You’re drunk.”

His dad half-grunted, half-laughed. “Aren’t I always?”

“Where the hell have you been these past two days? Mom’s been worried sick.”

“She’s fine. I texted her yesterday afternoon, told her I was just off on my own, gettin’ some space.”

Michael glanced over at his friends again. It was as if they sensed the situation could escalate, because they backed off from the table and went and sat down with some of the cheerleaders instead.

“See, I needed some space after you . . .” His dad pointed an accusatory finger at him. “Dropped the news on me.”

“What news?” Kyle asked.

“Oh, didn’t you know? This kid’s not goin’ to college.”

“He knows,” Michael informed him. “Look, Dad . . . if you’re pissed, let’s just deal with it at home, alright?” He had that damn English final to take today, and as much as he didn’t care about his grades, he wanted to be able to concentrate on it and maybe pull out a D+ in the class.

“You think it’s a bad decision, right, Kyle?” his father kept on. “You—you think he should go.”

Kyle held his hands up and said, “Hey, I’m not gettin’ involved.”

“Go home, Dad,” Michael suggested. He was already making enough of a scene as it was. Michael could sense that people had their cameras out and were taking pictures. The latest in West Roswell High tabloid gossip.

“Wait a minute, he can’t drive,” Kyle said, getting up. He caught Andy as he started to tip over. “Oh, okay, yeah, definitely not driving. You wanna call your mom or someone who can come get him? I’ll take him to the office.”

“Sure,” Michael said, glad that Kyle was there to help. He was always so in control of things, even when they weren’t going his way.

As Kyle escorted him to the office, Michael’s dad started to say things deliberately loud enough for Michael to hear. Things like, “You’re such a good kid, Kyle,” and, “I wish I had a son like you.”

Michael sat back down and took out his phone to dial his mom’s number, knowing he couldn’t let stupid stuff like that bother him. He no longer sensed cameras taking pictures, but there were plenty of murmured whispers now. People were talking, wondering what that had all been about, making up their own rumors and speculations.

Michael closed his eyes and listened to the phone ringing as he waited for his mom to pick up. At times like these, he was so relieved he only had to make a few more tally marks on his bedroom wall.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria sat outside the Crashdown in her car, impatiently waiting. Max was supposed to be meeting her. It had repulsed her to even call him and ask him to come, but it was what she had to do. Dylan was at daycare, because she had to go work at the library after this, and she wasn’t going inside the Crashdown because she was too worried she and Max would start to fight. She didn’t want to make a scene. Again.

Nearly twenty minutes after their scheduled meet-up time, Max tapped on the window. She reached over and pulled up on the lock, since the automatic lock/unlock buttons weren’t working, and he climbed inside, shutting the door.

“You wanted to talk,” he grumbled.

Want wasn’t exactly the right word, but she let it slide. “Max, I need to ask you to do something,” she blurted.

He gave her a knowing look. “If it involves signing over my parental rights, forget about it.”

She exhaled frustratedly, wishing he wasn’t being so damn stubborn about this. Why now, at this point in her life where everything was starting to fall into place, did he have to waltz into town and be a bigger prick than ever? “Max, if you don’t voluntarily relinquish your parental rights, I’m gonna have to build a case against you.”

“So build it,” he suggested. “I’m not relinquishing anything.”

“Why not?”

He snorted indignantly. “Why would I? So Michael fucking Guerin of all people can pass Dylan off as his kid for the rest of his life? No, thanks.”

“Max, what does it take for you to understand?” she snapped. “Dylan doesn’t even know who you are. He loves Michael. He thinks of him as his father.”

“Well, he can rethink that.”

“Unbelievable,” Maria muttered, gripping the steering wheel so tightly her knuckles shone white. “Why do you have to make this so hard? You’ve never wanted to be a part of his life before.”

“Maybe I wasn’t ready then,” he proclaimed. “Maybe I am now.”

“No, maybe you’re just jealous,” she countered.

“Of you, the uneducated high school dropout who’s saddling herself to a future alcoholic for the rest of her life?”

“This coming from the drug addict.”

“Former.”

She rolled her eyes, trying to figure out how to get through to him. At this point, she wasn’t even sure if that was possible. “Max, it’s gonna get messy. Not for me, for you. Don’t you think I’ve got loads of documentation on all the ways you abandoned us? And what about all your drug busts? It’s not gonna be hard for me to build a case, you know.” Truthfully, she was bluffing. She hadn’t documented anything. But if she had to, she could. No problem. “We’re gonna end up in court, and you know a judge is just gonna side with me anyway. Why drag it out?”

“Hmm.” He smirked. “Maybe I just wanna make you miserable, delay your little move to Arkansas as long as I can.”

She didn’t bother correcting him on that. Hell, if he thought she was moving to Arkansas, great. He didn’t need to know it was actually Alabama.

“Or maybe you just hate losing,” she declared.

“You think I’ve lost?”

“I think you lost a long time ago.” He’d had his chance. She’d given him more chances than he had ever deserved. She had tried to hope for the best, but . . . he’d just never been there. Blessing in disguise, as it turned out, but it hadn’t felt that way at the time.

“I haven’t lost anything,” he growled. “Dylan is my son.”

“No, he’s not, Max!”

“Maybe if you’d let me get to know him . . .”

“Maybe if you’d gotten to know him sooner!”

“Screw this,” he muttered, opening the door.

“Max!”

He slammed the door shut and sidled into the Crashdown.

Well, that had gotten a whole lot of nothing accomplished. “Dammit!” she swore, pushing the steering wheel. The horn honked, and a few people passing by stopped to look at her curiously. She ignored them, raking her hands through her hair. It was an incident like this that made her doubt whether or not she should go on this road trip with that Leah girl and her band. She wasn’t going to back out now, but it was hard not to. Sometimes it just felt like there was too much going on for her to leave.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When Maria arrived home with Dylan early that evening, Michael and his mom were already at home. They were in the living room, in the middle of what looked like a pretty serious conversation. But they were talking quietly, because Tina was sitting at the kitchen table, doing homework.

“Teenie!” Dylan yelled, running towards her before Maria could even take his shoes off for him.

She glanced up from her homework just enough to smile at him. “Hey, Dylan.”

“Dylan, let her focus,” Maria said, but when she squinted at Tina’s homework, it started to look more like a love letter to Todd. Huh. Kids still wrote letters these days. Who knew?

She went into the living room, where she overheard Michael saying, “Just divorce his ass, Mom.” Immediately, she took a few steps back, feeling like she was interrupting.

Krista sniffed back tears, shook her head, and said, “I have to go make dinner.” She squeezed Maria’s shoulder on her way past and headed into the kitchen.

“What was that all about?” Maria asked quietly.

Michael sighed. “My dad showed up at school today, wasted. My mom had to come get him.”

So that was why she hadn’t been at work that day. She’d been dealing with . . . her husband. Maria felt bad for her. “Well, at least he showed up,” she said, trying to see the bright side. Now that he didn’t have a job to report to every day, it seemed like Andy was becoming a less and less frequent figure in the Guerin house. “Why did he go to the school, though?”

“He was so drunk, I doubt he even knew where he was,” Michael said. “It was fuckin’ embarrassing.”

“Yeah.” She could only imagine. Hell, Andy managed to embarrass her, even, and it wasn’t like she was his child. “I’m sorry.”

“Whatever,” he dismissed. “I just feel bad for my mom. She puts up with so much of his shit, you know?”

“Is she thinking about getting a divorce?” Maria asked him. “Or are you just trying to convince her?”

He shrugged. “Both. I don’t know.”

“Wow.” As dysfunctional as Krista and Andy’s relationship was, they had been married for nearly two decades. Getting a divorce now would be . . . monumental.

“Don’t tell her I said anything,” he requested. “She doesn’t want Tina to find out.”

“No, I won’t say anything,” she promised, moving closer to him. When she was close enough, she wrapped her arms around him and just hugged him, feeling like he needed it after the day he’d had. And to be honest, she needed it, too.

He kissed the top of her head and asked, “So how’d things go with Max?”

She groaned. “They didn’t.”

“What, he didn’t show up?”

“No, he did. He just didn’t cooperate.” She tilted her head back to look up at him. “Typical Max.”

Michael frowned, looking a bit concerned. “So what happens then? Can he actually prevent us from moving?”

“I don’t know,” she admitted. Any time she thought in-depth about it, her head started to spin. “I mean, he can probably delay it. And he’s a wannabe lawyer, so he probably knows how to drag it out longer than necessary.”

“Crap,” he muttered. “Guess it’s a really good thing I’m not goin’ to college then.”

“We’re not gonna let him stop us,” Maria vowed, “or get in our way for long. He knows he doesn’t stand a chance of hanging onto any legal rights he has with Dylan. He’s just being an annoyance.”

“Well, it is annoying,” Michael said.

“Yeah.” She could tell by that look in his eyes, though, that he wasn’t just annoyed. He was actually a little more worried than he was letting on. But he was trying not to show it, because he didn’t want her to worry more. “Maybe I shouldn’t be taking off for a week with that band,” she reconsidered.

“What?” he spat.

“Maybe I should be here, researching this custody stuff.”

“I can do that,” Michael said.

“And go to school, and take your finals, and take care of Dylan?”

“Yeah.” He made a face. “I can try.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t go,” she repeated, for it had been weighing on her mind all day.

“No, don’t do this; don’t second-guess yourself,” he said. “You’re going.”

“Are you sure?”

He looked her right in the eye, turning the question around. “Are you sure?”

She felt her lower lip quivering with uncertainty. Of course she wasn’t sure. She wasn’t sure about any of the choices she ever made. But Michael wasn’t going to let her back out on this. It seemed like it meant as much to him as it did to her.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max stood aside that evening as Jesse looked through the documents he had assembled. Most of them were pretty damaging to him—arrest records, police reports, that sort of thing. But he had also put some good things in there, like his high school transcripts and scholarship information. Because even though he’d spent the majority of his teenage years high as a kite, he was academically capable as hell. Schools had always liked that about him. It had usually been enough to get him through. Usually.

Liz had come with him, and Isabel, too, of course, since the whole thing was her suggestion. Isabel looked bored, though, and had taken to dusting the house, and Liz just looked uncomfortable. Probably had something to do with the insistent sex smell that seemed to permeate this place, or the noises coming from upstairs. Jesse said his roommates were going at it. Personally, Max was having a hell of a good time listening, but he knew it wasn’t Liz’s kind of thing.

She leaned over and whispered to him, “I thought you said he dropped out of college.”

“He did,” Max acknowledged, “but while he was there, he was a law student.”

“Why not just get a real lawyer?” Liz proposed.

“I will, but Isabel said I should have him look over stuff first.”

“Like a first opinion?”

“Yeah.” Max crossed his arms over his chest and braced himself for the bad news as Jesse closed the folder and set it aside.

“Alright, Max,” he said. “I gotta be honest, it’s not looking too good for you.”

“Obviously,” he grumbled. “They’re taking my son away from me. I know it’s probably inevitable, but I’d like to delay it as long as possible.”

“That could work for you,” Isabel chirped. “Put a little stress on Michael and Maria’s relationship. I like it.”

“Wait, wait a minute,” Liz jumped in, “you’re not trying to break them up, are you? Because that’d be really cruel, Max.”

He rolled his eyes, because he didn’t really care about being cruel or not, at least not to them. But ultimately, breaking Michael and Maria apart wasn’t his objective. “They don’t matter to me,” he claimed. “Maria can fuck whoever the hell she wants, but she better not fuck with me. There was a time when she wanted me to be a part of Dylan’s life; she wanted it more than anything. But now, just ‘cause she’s changed her tune, I’m supposed to accept that? I don’t think so.”

“But Max, what ultimately is your goal here?” Liz asked. “Are you just trying to make things hard on them, or do you actually wanna be a dad?”

“Or do you just not want Michael to be a dad?” Isabel asked, sitting down beside her boyfriend.

More than likely, it was a combination of all three of those things, but Max didn’t know how to admit that without upsetting Liz. “I just wanna be someone,” he replied, mostly to her. “And being Dylan’s dad is part of that.” Better late than never as far as he was concerned. Just because he hadn’t made an effort before, it didn’t mean he couldn’t make one now. “So tell me, Jesse, what lies do I have to tell to put a favorable spin on this?”

“Well, let’s start with child support,” Jesse suggested.

“Never paid any.”

“Maria wouldn’t let you?”

“Well, I never offered,” he confessed.

“Okay, but you’re gonna claim you offered and she never let you. Just like you’re gonna claim she rejected all your efforts to see Dylan when he was born. You gotta make her out to be the bad guy.”

“I . . . I can’t listen to this,” Liz said, flittering out of the living room.

Crap, Max thought. He knew he shouldn’t have let her come along. Liz was a good person. Way too good for this. “Excuse me,” he said, following her.

He went outside, where she was standing near the car now, looking like she wanted to leave. “Max, I don’t like this,” she whimpered.

“Why? Because you like Maria? You two best friends now just because you’ve worked together for a couple shifts at the Crashdown?”

“Of course not,” Liz said, “but I don’t dislike the girl. And I think she and Michael make a really good couple. I don’t know Dylan, but I would think he’s really happy with them.”

“So you’re telling me I should just give up on this? Sacrifice any and all chance to ever get to know my son?”

“No . . .” Liz groaned. “I just think there’s a better way to go about it. Maybe you guys could try cooperating with each other and being mature about it rather than lying and playing dirty and . . . it just doesn’t seem right, Max.”

Well, therein lie the difference between them, didn’t it? Liz had a strong moral compass, a defined sense of right and wrong. He didn’t.

“But if it doesn’t work out the way you want it to,” Liz said softly, “if they do end up moving away and taking Dylan with them and Michael adopts him and becomes his dad . . . maybe that’s the way it’s meant to be.”

Max frowned, hating the idea of that. “No,” he growled. He needed this. It wasn’t just about causing mayhem anymore. If he couldn’t be Dylan’s dad, then what the hell could he be? He didn’t have other options, not anymore.

“Max, I know it’s not a pretty thought,” she acknowledged, reaching out to touch his arm, “but it’s like they say: When one door closes, another one opens.”

He wished he could believe that were true, have that kind of mindset, but enough doors had swung closed for him over the years, and most of them had been his own fault. “I don’t think any doors are opening for me,” he mumbled, turning to head back inside and see what other outright lies Jesse suggested he tell.








TBC . . .

-April
Image
LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

keepsmiling7
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 1881
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2007 9:34 pm

Re: Someone, Anyone (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) Part 77, 09/19/1

Postby keepsmiling7 » Sat Sep 19, 2015 2:32 pm

That was a strange and somewhat awkward conversation between Liz and Maria.
Nothing was really settled.
Maybe it would be best for Michael and Maria to move away, and at some point Max will realize that he should give up his rights to Dylan.
Right now everything seems impossible to resolve.
Thanks,
Carolyn

sarammlover
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 318
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 5:03 pm

Re: Someone, Anyone (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) Part 77, 09/19/1

Postby sarammlover » Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:19 am

Dang it! I was hoping Max would listen to Liz but it doesn't look like that is going to happen. And I have to say, I like that even Isabel was asking what Max was looking for in this whole custody case. my heart hurts so bad for Krista. She is such a good person, a good mom and really a good stand in grandma to dylan. I think Andy needs to fall off the face of the earth. (sorry but its true).

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Re: Someone, Anyone (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) Part 77, 09/19/1

Postby Eva » Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:57 am

Max is going to play it really dirty and i've got the feeling he's going to use Maria's week off in his advantage. But somehow, I'm still hoping Liz can change. I know it's stupid but I'm a bit like Liz: always hoping for the best.
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Part 78

Postby April » Sat Sep 26, 2015 1:05 pm

Carolyn:
That was a strange and somewhat awkward conversation between Liz and Maria.


Yeah, considering they've both slept with the same 2 guys . . . strange and awkward is kind of inevitable, I suppose!

Maybe it would be best for Michael and Maria to move away, and at some point Max will realize that he should give up his rights to Dylan.


Michael and Maria are starting to get very eager to get to that point where they can move away. Especially Michael.

Right now everything seems impossible to resolve.


Because Max is making it impossible.


Sara:
Dang it! I was hoping Max would listen to Liz but it doesn't look like that is going to happen.


Liz definitely tried to talk some sense into him, but he's like a brick wall right now. So stubborn.

my heart hurts so bad for Krista. She is such a good person, a good mom and really a good stand in grandma to dylan. I think Andy needs to fall off the face of the earth. (sorry but its true).


Yes, that poor woman . . . she's so busy taking care of everyone else around her that she barely even takes care of herself. Her husband has been such a burden to her and to their family for far too long now.


Eva:
Max is going to play it really dirty and i've got the feeling he's going to use Maria's week off in his advantage.


We'll see, we'll see.

I know it's stupid but I'm a bit like Liz: always hoping for the best.


That's not stupid at all. I'm that way, too, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that.



Thanks for the feedback!

It just so happens that I have not one but two songs I'd like to recommend today. The first is "Breathe In" by Frou Frou, which I literally just stumbled across one day. And the second is "Behind Closed Doors (Edit)" by Little People, which for some reason really helped me get in the right headspace for a pivotal scene. Click on the emoticons when you see them if you'd like to listen! Enjoy!









Part 78








( :) )

Maria was pretty sure she wouldn’t be waking up the next morning if it weren’t for Michael. He wasn’t much of a morning person, but once in a while, he woke up and was just raring to go. But it wasn’t like he was ready to get out of that bed and get dressed or anything. Michael’s early morning eagerness, when it happened, was always confined to the bed.

She kept her eyes closed and moaned in contentment as he trailed kisses from the small of her back up her spine. By the time he got to her shoulders, he stopped kissing altogether and just breathed hotly against her skin while one of his hands molded her side and the other slid up her arm. He linked his fingers with hers, his body fully covering her now, like a very warm—and very aroused—blanket. He started rubbing his groin against her backside, and she could feel how stiff he already was.

Michael tended to do this—it was one of his little quirks. When he wanted morning sex, he communicated it to her not with words, but with movement. He joked around and said movement was his native language anyway, and she always seemed to understand it. He would just get on top of her, or curl up beside her, and rub his body against hers, gradually waking her up, slowly getting her body to respond. It was like he was just . . . roaming over her, mapping her out like she was his territory. She liked to pretend that she stayed asleep longer than she actually did, just to make him work for it a little more than he actually had to.

“Mmm,” she murmured, rolling over onto her side. He rolled with her, pillowing his extended arm beneath her head, using the hand that had been kneading her side to wrap around her waist. One of his legs slipped between hers, and he brought his knee up to brush against her entrance.

“Oh,” she moaned, unable to conceal the fact that she was awake now. She kept her eyes closed, though, because there was something so thrilling about just letting Michael touch her, concentrating solely on that instead of using the other senses.

Still undulating his hips against her, he slid his hand up her stomach to cup her breasts. He started squeezing and gently pinching her nipples between his fingers. By now, he knew how sensitive her breasts were. One of these days, she swore he was going to make her cum just by paying attention to her there. He didn’t talk about it, but she suspected it was one of his missions.

Today was not that day, though. It was pretty obvious that he wanted sex, especially when he stopped touching her and stopped moving altogether so he could put on a condom. She listened as he ripped open the package, then laughed lightly as he grumbled about how it was taking too long to put on.

When he did finally enter her, he did so swiftly, but with ease. She was just as ready for this as he was, and wanted it just as much. Last night, they had fallen asleep early, and though sleeping naked with him was nice, this was so much better.

She couldn’t help but open her eyes as he started thrusting. His body fit into hers from behind like a puzzle piece, like a glove. He pressed himself so close to her that she honestly started to doubt that he was a separate person. She felt like they just flowed into each other, like neither one of them stopped or began. Every movement was so smooth, so sensual, like water.

“What a way to wake a girl up,” she gasped as he kissed her neck sloppily. When she said that, she could feel his lips against her skin, curving upward into a smile.

He kept his thrusts at a slow, even rhythm for as long as he could, but soon enough, he started to become a little more insistent. He pressed in farther, slipping down a bit further on the mattress so he could get a better angle of penetration. His hands started gripping harder at her body, and eventually, he grabbed her hips and flipped her over onto her back, managing to stay joined with her as he did so. He held both her legs and wrapped them around his hips. She dug her heels into his ass as he leaned forward and put one hand on either side of her. Still in a kneeling position, he started to fuck her harder, but it still somehow felt gentle. It never felt like he was just using her. It always felt like he was making love to her. Always.

She managed to get her pillow repositioned so that she had a better view of what was going on down there. She almost lost it at the sight, because there was nothing that turned her on more than the sight of Michael’s cock sliding in and out of her, the image of her body accepting his. She wished she was able to see it more, the way he was always able to. But then again, she didn’t know how he managed to draw it out as long as he did when he could see such a thing.

“Oh god,” she gasped, digging one hand into the sheets. She reached up with her other hand to touch the tattoo on his arm. It was a constant reminder, even when things were just getting plain hot and heavy like this, that he really loved her, that she had a part of him no one else had ever had. Seeing his tattoo made her want to turn all the way over so he could see hers while he did this, but she was too far gone, too far close to the edge. The way he had moved his body all over hers to wake her up had been absolute foreplay, and she was ready to cum.

He bent forward the rest of the way, his whole body once again pressing against hers, but front to front this time. He rolled his hips forward at a rapid pace, but it wasn’t frantic like an animal. His breathing was becoming more and more labored, and his skin was coated in sweat. She could tell he was trying to get her off, because he wouldn’t be able to hold on much longer. Either by chance or by practice, he started to angle his thrusts just right, because she felt him deep inside, felt the head of his cock hitting the perfect spot.

“Oh god, Michael,” she whispered, inhaling sharply, digging one hand into his back, clutching the sheets with her other hand as she came. It was sudden and overwhelming and absolutely glorious. He picked up the pace of his own thrusts as she rode out the wave of it, and shortly after, he climaxed, too. She watched his face as he did, watched the way it contorted in ecstasy, listened to the way he moaned almost silently, and appreciated the way he tried to hold himself up afterward so he wouldn’t crush her. But when she wrapped her legs tighter around him, he willingly fell against her, still tucked away inside her, and nestled his head against the crook of her neck, recovering.

She smiled dazedly, reaching up to touch his tousled hair. He was spent and probably had no desire to get up and get ready for school now. She was sticky, covered with his saliva and pre-cum, but she could lie here with him for a few more minutes until she got up to shower. There was nowhere else in the world she would rather be.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Michael stood by Kyle’s locker that day as his friend loaded up on his books for the day. Even with the end of the year nearing, they still had to haul their textbooks around. Each day, the teachers promised they would check in textbooks, and each day, they forgot about it. It was all soon to be a thing of the past, though. That was what kept Michael going. Knowing that the days of lockers and tardy bells and disgusting lunch food and dickbag teachers like Mr. Frost were almost behind him . . . it was marvelous. Just a few more days of high school, and then he’d have a few days off before graduation. And once graduation was out of the way, he could direct all his energy to his and Maria’s wedding, and their upcoming move. That was all he really cared about.

Kyle seemed like he was over the high school stuff, too. All morning, he’d been talking about what dorm he was going to live in—the nicest one, apparently, and how he’d met his assigned roommate over Skype last night. “Seems like a decent guy,” Kyle said. “Hopefully.”

“So you think you guys are gonna get along?”

“I think so. He’s there on a football scholarship, too.”

“Oh, yeah? What position does he play?”

“Uh . . . receiver.”

“Huh.” As certain as he was that not going to college this year was the best idea for his family, Michael still felt envious that he wouldn’t be suiting up in that crimson gear this year, running out on that field, or at the very least, standing on the sidelines watching Kyle play. Next year. If he was still in shape enough after going a year without it. “The quarterback and his receiver . . . roommates. See? You won’t even need me.”

Kyle shut his locker and gave him a look. “Don’t say that, man.”

“I’m kidding.” Michael knew his friend was going to need him so he could vent his anger when Tess started going Bridezilla on his ass.

“You better not back out on this move. It’s bad enough you’re backing out on college.” Kyle cringed right after he said the words. “I mean, it’s not . . . I didn’t mean—it’s not bad. You’re not backing out for all time. Just . . . you know what I mean.”

“Yeah, I know.” Michael yawned as they started down the hall.

“Tired, man?” Kyle asked.

“Yeah. I got laid this morning.”

“Well, lucky you. The rest of us have to sneak in and out of our girlfriends’ houses if we want a.m. nookie. You live with yours.”

“It’s convenient,” Michael agreed. At this point, he could barely remember what it felt like to live without Maria.

“You get any backdoor action lately?” Kyle asked quietly.

“No, but she said once we get married, then I can do it again.”

“Nice.” Kyle held out his hand for a low-five, then abruptly withdrew it as something occurred to him. “Oh, speaking of that . . .”

“Of anal sex?”

“No, of . . . marriage.” He ducked into the bathroom, motioning for Michael to follow him. The bell rang, signaling the start of class, but Michael ignored it and slipped into the bathroom.

“Is the proposal still on?” he asked.

“Yeah, but I found out the track team’s using the gym tomorrow night for practice, ‘cause there’s a junior high track meet going on out on the actual track. So I gotta push it forward a day. You think you can help me set it up tonight? ‘cause the other guys can’t now.”

“Yeah, I can help. Actually, that works out better for me,” Michael said, still thinking the whole thing was ridiculously over-the-top. But it was what Tess would love. Thank God Maria was satisfied with his much, much more low-key proposal, because he didn’t have what it took to make a whole spectacle out of it.

“Thanks, man,” Kyle said, slugging his arm. “I’ll see you later then.”

“Alright.” Instead of following Kyle out of the bathroom, Michael unzipped his pants and stood in front of the urinal, deciding it was best to waste some time and take an extra-long piss. Anything to avoid sitting through another boring English class. Poor Ms. Alvarez had slipped back into new-teacher mode, even though she had somehow survived the year. She had lost control of the class at this point now that she’d given her last major exam. Which actually made it more bearable than it usually was, so he’d only show up ten minutes late instead of twenty.

The tardy bell rang as he was heading past the office, but instead of continuing to class, he backtracked a bit and slipped in to see Topolsky. Why not? She didn’t look busy, and he wasn’t busy, and he kind of owed her one last visit before the end of the year. He’d been her special project, after all.

“Michael,” she said, smiling. “How are you?”

“I’m good.” He shut the door and sat down, wishing he’d had her as a guidance counselor for more than just his senior year. He might not have had such a rebellious attitude towards school authorities if she’d been working with him from freshman year onward.

“Ready to graduate?” she asked.

“Like you wouldn’t believe.” He’d been ready to graduate since preschool. “School’s just not really my thing, you know?”

“What is your thing?” she asked.

“Well . . .” Wasn’t it obvious? “Sex.”

“Oh, I’m sorry I asked.”

“No, it’s common knowledge. I’m really good at it. I could probably make a career out of it.”

“That would make you a prostitute,” she informed him.

“I’m okay with that.”

Her eyes bulged.

“Kidding,” he assured her. “Why does no one get that I’m kidding today? I’ll do somethin’ real with my life. I just don’t know what yet.”

“Interesting,” she said. “So have you—have you given any thought to what you wanna do for a job now that you’re putting college on hold for a year?”

“I don’t know. I guess I’ll just have to see what’s available.” He shrugged, wondering if anyone would even want to hire him. He had a spotty record and shoddy grades. But hopefully he could censor himself for a job interview. And Topolsky had already agreed to be a reference for him, so at least he could depend on her. No one else in that school would recommend him for any reason for any job whatsoever.

“Not construction,” he blurted, mentally debating his limited options.

She gave him a confused look.

“That’s what my dad . . .” He trailed off. No further explanation necessary. “I can’t do that.”

Topolsky just nodded, understanding. “I think you should work with people,” she suggested.

“Really?” Was he a people-person?

“Yes. You’re charismatic and outgoing. Not at all shy. I think you need to put those skills to use. I guess I just—I don’t see you working with data or ideas or things. I see you working with people because . . . at the end of the day, you do care about people.”

“A few people,” he corrected. Maria, Dylan, his mom and Tina, Kyle . . . it was a short list.

“Right, but you care about them so much.”

Well . . . that was true. But that didn’t necessarily mean he wanted to do something where he would be helping others or taking care of others or . . . of course, he was helping Maria by taking care of Dylan for the week. But that was a different circumstance.

“Oh, you’ve got plenty of time to figure it out,” Topolsky said. “You’re still young. When I was your age, I thought I would end up being an accountant. It took me until my third year of college to realize that wasn’t what I wanted.”

“An accountant?” He couldn’t picture that. Topolsky was a people person; there was really no doubt about that. She’d definitely landed in the right career field. “Well, I’m glad you ended up bein’ a counselor instead,” he said, “ ‘cause . . . you’re kind of a good one.”

She smiled again, looking a bit tearful this time. “Thank you, Michael.”

“I mean it. Like my whole life, school was always draggin’ me in to see the counselor ‘cause they couldn’t understand why the hell I was always gettin’ in trouble, you know? And every counselor I had was, like, tryin’ to fix me, you know? Like I was broken or something.”

“You were never broken,” Topolsky said. “You were just growing.”

“Exactly, but they didn’t get that. So I guess what I’m trying to say is . . .” Oh, hell, he could definitely rule out any career involving public speaking, because this didn’t come naturally to him. But he wanted her to know, sincerely, that he was appreciative of all the advice she’d given him, all the ways she’d helped him help himself. “I’m really glad I ended up coming to this school this year instead of spending another year at East. Because the counselor there was an ass. And you’ve always been pretty decent to me, even when I haven’t been to you, so . . .” He shrugged, hoping she got the point. He was grateful.

Topolsky always managed to be calm and in control of her emotions, but even she looked a bit touched. She probably wasn’t used to having a student actually thank her. It was a pretty thankless job, being a counselor.

“I think you’re gonna do great things, Michael,” she said, wiping the corner of her eye.

“Oh, yeah, all that hidden potential I got.”

She shook her head. “I don’t think it’s hidden.”

Maybe it wasn’t to her, or to Maria. But to most people, it still would be. There were lots of people out there who just wouldn’t get him, many more who wouldn’t like him. But as long as the people he cared about believed in him, he felt like he was going to be alright, like he wasn’t going to be the complete fuck-up his dad had always envisioned him to be.

“Thanks,” he said, standing up. “Alright, I think I’m gonna go fake being sick so I can lay down in the nurse’s office for a while.”

“Go to class, Michael,” she urged.

“No, you gotta trust me, I had a rigorous morning.”

“Doing what? No—you know what? On second thought, don’t tell me,” she quickly reconsidered.

“I got laid.”

“I said don’t—what part of ‘don’t tell me’ did you not understand?”

He just grinned.

“Go to class,” she said again.

He exhaled heavily, reminding himself that he only had a handful of classes left for the school year. Five days, eight classes on each day. And one was study hall. Hell, a free-for-all study hall at this point. He could handle that. But still . . . he turned in the direction of the nurse’s office when he walked out her door, but she hollered, “Other way, Michael!”

“Dammit,” he swore, reluctantly heading the way he was supposed to.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The Crashdown was nearly lifeless when Isabel showed up. She had really been hoping that Maria would be working there that day so that she could give her a little piece of her mind about this whole Max/Dylan situation. Not that it would matter much, but . . . at this point, it was just something to do to pass the time.

She sat down at the counter, wondering if there was even a waitress on duty, when Liz came out of the bathroom, patting her cheeks. She looked like she had been crying.

“Long day?” Isabel asked her.

Liz jumped back a little, as if she were startled. “Oh, Isabel, hi,” she said. “Yeah, they’re . . . they’re all long, it seems.”

God, she sounded like she’d been crying, too. Her voice was sort of muffled and nasally. “Are you okay?” Isabel asked her.

Liz eyed her suspiciously for a moment, then walked around behind the counter. “Do you care?”

“I don’t hate you, Liz,” she informed her. “I just hate what Michael did with you.” Truth be told, if Liz had been just another girl at West Roswell High, she might have actually been friends with her. Although, with her being a bit of a bookworm and probably pulling in stellar grades in all classes, maybe she wouldn’t have been. Too much academic competition, that sort of thing.

“Yeah, that feels like so long ago,” Liz reminisced. “It wasn’t right, what we did. I’m sorry.”

Isabel shrugged. “I’m over it. The way I see it, we’re kind of in the same boat when it comes to him. He screwed me over by cheating on me twice, and you . . . well, you he just screwed.”

“That he did,” Liz agreed, a flash of sadness appearing in her eyes. Perhaps, at the time, she had wanted something more. Of course she had. Why else would she have given up her virginity to him?

“So now that you’ve dodged my question once, I’ll ask it again,” Isabel announced. “Are you okay?” She spoke the words slowly and precisely, wanting to make it clear that she actually wanted to know the answer. It probably had more to do with curiosity than concern, but . . . she wanted to know.

“I’m fine,” Liz replied unconvincingly.

“No, you’re not.”

“I am,” she insisted. “It’s just . . .” She blinked back tears as they sprang up to her eyes again. “I’ve kind of got a lot going on right now.”

“Max?” Isabel guessed. She knew first-hand how hard it could be to watch your boyfriend pursuing a whole different life than the one he had with you, pursuing a life as the father of a child who many would argue wasn’t his.

“Sort of,” Liz said. “In a way.”

“Well, just bear with him,” Isabel advised. “He’s a complicated guy with a complicated past, but believe me, he really likes you.”

“I hope so.” Liz turned towards the coffee maker and started busying herself with changing the filter. “I hope he likes me enough.”

Isabel frowned. “Enough for what?”

Liz took in a shaky breath and nearly whispered, “Enough to stay with me.”

What the hell was this girl having a meltdown about? Was this all because of the Dylan situation? It had seemed like Liz was handling it pretty well, but maybe not. “Why wouldn’t he?” Isabel asked.

Liz practically forced the new filter in, and then her entire body stilled. “Because I’m pregnant.”

Isabel’s mouth dropped open in shock, and on instinct, she looked down at Liz’s stomach. No bump showing in that uniform. Not even a slight one. But . . . pregnant? “Oh my god.” She didn’t even know what else to say.

“Yeah, that was my reaction.” Liz forgot about the coffee momentarily and came closer to Isabel, gripping her side of the counter with trembling fingers. “I can’t believe I just said that out loud.”

“Are you . . . are you sure?” Isabel asked. Last year, Tess had had a pregnancy scare. It had turned out to be nothing. And freaking Maria DeLuca had just had one. Hers probably would be something within a few months’ time, though. Michael was incapable of keeping it in his pants.

“I’m positive,” Liz confirmed. “I haven’t been feeling well these past few days, and I noticed I was late, so I took a test last night. And then I took another one just to be sure. They both said the same thing.”

“Wow.” Isabel looked down at the petite girl’s stomach again. Max really had a kid in there? Then, a thought occurred to her. “You’re sure it’s Max’s?”

Liz rolled her eyes. “Like I’m some college slut or something!”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Max is the only guy I’ve slept with since Alex. I’ve been dating him for four months.” She sighed shakily. “Four months. That’s a while. So maybe . . . maybe it’ll all be okay. Maybe he’ll be okay with it.”

“Maybe.” Isabel wasn’t about to speculate on how her brother would react, though. He was . . . unpredictable. It was hard to say what he would do, how he would feel, especially with his current fatherhood issues already taking up the majority of his time and energy. And four months really wasn’t that long to be dating.

“You can’t tell anyone,” Liz whispered hurriedly.

“I won’t.”

“I mean, I haven’t told Max. I haven’t even told my parents.” She started to cry again. “Oh god, they’re gonna be so disappointed in me. I’m nineteen. I just finished my freshman year of college. I’m not supposed to be having a baby.”

“You are, though.” Maybe Max would get a vasectomy after this. He certainly had to at least entertain the idea. Having this happen once was unlucky; having it happen twice was a freak show.

“I don’t even know how this happened,” Liz fretted.

Isabel gave her a look. “Uh, Liz, if someone has to explain to you how this happened, you probably shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place.”

“No, I mean . . . I know how. I just . . . I don’t know why,” she cried. “I don’t know what I’m gonna do now, and I don’t know if I’m gonna be doing it alone or if Max will be there with me. I mean, I know he likes me, but what if he doesn’t love me? Or what if he doesn’t love this baby? And what about Dylan? I mean, he already has one kid. What if he doesn’t want another?”

He probably doesn’t, Isabel thought. Or . . . maybe he does. It was yet another thing she couldn’t predict.

“I just can’t believe I let this happen,” Liz bemoaned. “I feel so stupid.”

For whatever reason, Isabel felt bad for her. “Hey,” she said, “we all do stupid things sometimes.” Homemade porno came to mind. Michael Guerin came to mind.

“Yeah, but this is something I can never take back.”

Isabel didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t empathize, because she had never been in the same position. Oddly enough, the one person who probably would understand, the person who Liz would probably end up talking to the most about this, was none other than the mother of Max’s first unplanned child. That was either going to be an incredibly sympathetic or incredibly awkward conversation if and when it did happen.

Before Isabel could offer up any words of encouragement, a man with dark hair came out of the backroom. Liz immediately wiped her tears away when he came out.

“Lizzie,” he said, “Agnes just called. She has a flat tire. Do you mind staying on the clock until she gets here?”

“Sure, Dad,” Liz said.

Oh god, Isabel thought. The dad. Dad in the dark. Not a clue his daughter’s knocked up. Isabel knew this guy, too, or knew of him at least. He was a nice guy, but he used to go to their church, and her mother had always said he was extremely conservative.

“Are you okay, sweetie?” he asked.

Liz put on that kind of nervous smile girls wore when they were trying to conceal just how awful they felt. It was obviously fake, forced, but men weren’t emotionally in-touch enough to realize that. “I’m fine,” she said, her voice wavering over the second word.

Her father studied her for a moment, then just nodded as if he were accepting that response. For now.

You’re not fine, Isabel thought, sitting back as Liz’s dad went back into the kitchen and Liz herself returned to the coffee machine, scooping some into the filter. And I don’t know if you’re going to be.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Productivity was something Max valued. In the past, he had always been productive, even if he had been embarking on less-than-admirable pursuits. He had been a productive dealer, a productive user, a productive womanizer. Had he not been so distracted by all of these things, he may have been a more productive student.

But ever since he had arrived in Roswell, he had felt unproductive, like he had gotten nothing accomplished. It was eating away at him to know that Maria had the upper-hand when it came to their son. He hated not having control of a situation.

He had Isabel to confide in, thankfully, because he felt it necessary that his mother remain blissfully oblivious to the whole thing. Despite the many years apart, she seemed to adore him, far more than she adored his sister these days. And he wanted to keep it that way. He knew what it was like to get on a parent’s bad side; he wasn’t doing that again.

So in the interest of maintaining his relationship with his mother, he agreed to spend the afternoon with her. She had a day off work and no man to occupy her time, so she joked and told him he was the only man she needed. He played along, of course, and accompanied her to the park, where she seemed perfectly content to just sit on a bench and people-watch. Mostly she was watching kids play in the sandbox. It was boring to him, painstaking, actually, but then again, it wasn’t like he had anything better to do. Jesse was reaching out to one of his lawyer friends about this paternal rights bullshit, but until they heard back, it felt like they were at a stand-still.

“It’s a nice day,” his mother remarked, beaming as if simply inhaling the scent of the breeze pleased her.

“Yeah,” he agreed, though the nice day wasn’t even a blip in his mind.

She reached over and put a hand on his leg. “Thanks for spending the afternoon with me.”

“No problem.” He caught sight of two guys standing on the other side of the sandbox, a good distance off, but close enough that he could see them clearly without squinting. They were both wearing long dark coats, which struck Max as odd on such a ‘nice day.’

Drug deal, he registered. They were carrying on a conversation, even laughing with each other a little, as though they were friends. Getting away with it right in public, right under all these people’s noses. It was a rush Max remembered all too well.

“So your father called me last night,” his mother revealed.

The only thing that could have taken his attention from the ongoing deal was the mention of his dad. “Really?”

“Yeah. Caught me off guard. I haven’t spoken to him in years.”

“What’d he say?”

“He just asked if you were staying with me. I told him you were.” She sighed. “I know you two have had a falling-out—that’s what you said. But I’m not quite sure I understand why.”

He shrugged, as if it were no big deal. “I told you, he doesn’t want me to pursue first amendment law. It pisses him off that I’m not following exactly in his footsteps.”

“That just seems like such a small thing to have a big falling-out about.”

“Well, you know how it is. Father/son relationships are complicated.”

“I suppose.” She put her hand on top of his, rubbing it gently, supportively. “Speaking of . . . have you seen much of your son lately?”

She was quite possibly the only person in town who would refer to him that way, as his son. “No,” he replied begrudgingly. “Maria won’t let me.”

“Why not?”

“Because she’s ready to replace me.”

“Replace you?” his mom echoed. “With Michael?”

He nodded bitterly.

“Well, he’s not father material.”

Not so sure I am, either, Max thought, but he didn’t voice it. “I’ve never been a part of his life,” he mumbled. “I’d like to change that, but she’s resistant.”

“How does Liz feel about all this?” his mother inquired. “Is she overwhelmed?”

“I’m not sure.” He hadn’t gotten to talk to her about it as much as he would have liked. Last night, he had invited her over, but she claimed she hadn’t been feeling well and had just stayed home instead. That didn’t bode well. Maybe it was all too much for her. Maybe she wanted out.

“She’s such a sweetheart,” his mother raved. “I really like her. Much more than Isabel’s boyfriend.” She shuddered as though the mere thought of Jesse repulsed her. “I think Liz seems like a good girl.”

“Probably too good for me,” he muttered, returning his attention to the inconspicuous drug-deal in progress. It took a trained, experienced eye like his own to glimpse it, but when the two guys shook hands, one of them handed off a bag to another. Cocaine, by the looks of it. After that exchange, they hugged each other, and as they were parting, the buyer slipped some cash into the dealer’s coat pocket.

“What are you looking at?” his mother asked.

He tore his eyes away. “Nothing.” No need to alarm her. Letting on that he could spot a drug deal from this distance would probably throw up a few red flags in his dear, unsuspecting mother’s mind.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

That night, Max ventured over to the Guerin house. He had to rely on Isabel’s directions to get there, since his phone was a piece of crap and wouldn’t navigate him anywhere. Luckily it wasn’t hard to find. Nothing was hard to find in Roswell.

He was thoroughly unimpressed by the house, but it was exactly what he had expected. Not a complete hole in the wall, but definitely a fixer-upper. The siding was coming off, the porch was in shambles, and the yard was a mess. Max had definitely never lived in a house like that before, nor did he ever intend to. Not if he could help it.

He pressed the doorbell, but upon hearing no sound, he pressed it again. Still nothing. So he knocked, waited, then knocked impatiently some more. Finally, the door opened, but it wasn’t Maria or Michael on the other side. There stood a preteen girl who was wearing shorts that were way too short for her own good.

“Hi,” he greeted. “Is Maria around?”

“Um . . . yeah,” she answered, staring at him uncertainly, like she was trying to figure out who he was. He had her figured out, though. Michael’s little sister. Had to be. There was a definite resemblance.

“Can I speak to her?” he asked.

“Actually, I . . .” She glanced back over her shoulder for a moment, looking like a deer caught in the headlights when she returned her attention to him. “I think she’s about to get in the shower.”

He smirked. Oh, that wasn’t a problem for him. He’d showered with Maria before.

“Who are you?” she asked nervously.

“I’m Max,” he answered, making sure to add, “Dylan’s dad.”

The girl inhaled sharply, and her eyes widened, as if she were seeing a leprechaun or something. Like he wasn’t real.

“Can I come in?” he inquired.

“I don’t . . .” She seemed completely unsure about what she should do, so she called out for assistance. “Mom!”

Excellent, Max thought. If she was calling out for her mother, that had to mean good old Michael wasn’t around.

A woman who might have been attractive once came out of the kitchen with a dish towel still in her hand. “Hello,” she said. “Can I help you?”

“He says he’s Dylan’s dad,” the little girl quickly revealed.

The mother’s expression mirrored her daughter’s as she grappled with what to do. “Oh. Um . . .” She stared at him in equal disbelief for a few seconds, then hollered upstairs, “Maria! Would you come down here, please?”

How the hell did Maria manage this? Max wondered as he waited for her to come downstairs. It wasn’t normal for a family to just let some girl and her kid live with them, even if she was a love interest for their black sheep of a son. Isabel had told him her version of the story, but obviously, having loved and been scorned, she was an unreliable narrator. According to her, Maria had moved in before she and Michael had gotten involved. But that didn’t make sense; Michael didn’t seem like the kind of guy who could be that generous. Max suspected she had been giving him head the whole time she’d been staying there. Maria gave brilliant blow-jobs. He knew because he had been the one to teach her how to.

At last, Maria came downstairs. “What’s up?” she asked, but she froze mid-step when she saw him.

“Hey, Maria,” he said, smiling. Damn, the girl still looked good. She was wearing a blue bathrobe right now that was a little too long for his taste, but still . . . just seeing her in something that was so easy to untie . . .

Don’t go there, he thought. Like any guy, he fantasized about ex-girlfriends now and then, but his current girlfriend occupied her fair share of his fantasies, too.

“Max,” Maria growled, immediately tightening the waist-tie on her bathrobe. “What’re you doing here?”

“I need to talk to you,” he said, seizing the chance to step forward into the house when Michael’s little sister took a step back. Once inside, he saw Dylan just a few feet away, in the living room, playing with some toy cars. Wearing an oversized football jersey with the name Guerin on the back.

He felt like his blood was boiling.

“Um, Tina, can you take Dylan into his room?” Maria asked hurriedly.

“Sure.” The young girl sprang into action, quickly scooping Dylan up and carrying him out of sight, even as he protested against leaving his toys behind.

Of course, Max thought. Of course it’s too much to ask for me to even say hi to him or get to see him for more than ten seconds.

“I’ll just . . .” The mother waved her dishtowel in the direction of the kitchen, then disappeared back in there, like she knew she had no part to play in their conversation.

( :? )

Max waited for Maria to make the first move, come the rest of the way down the stairs maybe, roll her eyes, say something about how he shouldn’t be there. But she just spun around and stomped up the stairs, so he followed her. She ducked into one of the bedrooms, slamming the door in his face. She kept it unlocked, though, so he just shrugged and went in after her.

“Well, well, well,” he drawled. “Maria DeLuca leading me to her bedroom. Some things never change.”

“Save it, Max,” she snapped.

He looked around, noting how small it was compared to the room he was sleeping in. And his room was just the guest room. This room was cluttered, messy, and clearly lived in. The bed hadn’t been made, which automatically made him envision her and Michael rolling around in there. “So this is where you live,” he said, making his way towards the bed. “Where you sleep.” He traced his fingers over the wrinkled covers, mumbling, “Where you sleep with Michael.”

“Don’t touch anything,” she barked, swatting his hand away. “You said you came here to talk. Make it quick.” She laughed angrily and added, “Wait, I forgot, you always do.”

“I only draw it out for the girls I really like,” he shot back.

“Like Liz?”

“Yeah, actually.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Whatever. Best of luck on that whole relationship. I’m really hoping it’s just a matter of time until she realizes she deserves better than you.”

“Maybe Michael deserves better than you,” he proposed. “Or maybe . . . you deserve better than him. Or maybe you just both deserve each other. I have to be honest, I don’t even care.”

“Then what do you care about Max? Besides yourself.”

“You know.” He picked up a picture frame from the bedside table, set out right in front of the lamp. It was a photo of Dylan and looked like it had been taken on Christmas. He was in mid-laugh and was holding up a halfway-opened gift. “I care about my son.”

She grunted. “That’s a first.”

“I know you don’t believe me . . .” He set the picture back down again. “So I thought maybe we could work out a compromise.”

“A compromise,” she echoed skeptically. “More like a deal with the devil.”

“I’m not the bad guy here, Maria.”

“Then who is?” she challenged.

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe there isn’t one. Or maybe you are.”

“Me?”

“Yeah. Tying the poor Guerin fool down like this? He doesn’t even know his life is over.”

“You make such a compelling case to be a father,” she said sarcastically. “If you really think having a kid means your life is over, why don’t you just give yours up?”

“He’s my kid,” Max growled, “so he’s part of my life. Michael can’t make that claim. But it’s not my place to judge.”

“Yet you are judging,” she muttered.

“Here’s my thought,” he announced. “You and Michael pack up and move. Go wherever the hell you want. Get married, pop out some more babies. But . . . on one condition.”

She glared at him, warily asking, “What?”

He looked down at the photo again, wishing he had one of his own. Wishing he had dozens of his own. There was only one thing he had concerning Dylan, and that was the title: father. He wasn’t about to just give that up without a fight. “Michael doesn’t adopt him,” he demanded.

Maria took a step back, lacking a snappy comeback this time. In fact, all she could was repeat, “What?”

“You heard me.” Honestly, he didn’t think it was too much to ask. He was agreeing to let Maria live her life, let her pursue a fairytale with Michael that would inevitably end in heartbreak, letting her drag their son along for the ride. All he was asking for in return was the knowledge that Dylan was still, and in some way always would be, his.

“No,” she said. “No, I’m not gonna do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because Michael is his father.”

“No, he’s not!” Max roared. “I am. We made him before you even met your precious Michael Guerin. He’s ours Maria, and he should stay that way.”

“He’s never been yours,” she argued vehemently, “and he never will be!”

“We’ll see about that,” he warned. “If you wanna take this to court, we’ll take it to court. I’ll drag it out as long as possible.”

“Give it your best shot,” she urged, not backing down. Damn. His little Maria had grown up, gotten stronger, feistier. And therefore, hotter.

“The funny thing about court cases that drag out for a long time, you see . . .” He leaned in, hissing, “Sometimes the verdict isn’t what you’d expect it to be.”

She put her hands on his chest and shoved him back a bit. “You’re not scaring me,” she informed him. “I know my rights, and I know you won’t have any when all’s said and done.”

He flapped his arms against his sides disappointedly. “Here I am, offering up a solution, and you just shoot it down.”

“Drop dead, Max,” she grumbled, turning her back to him.

“Oh, good, threats. Keep ‘em coming. A judge will love that.”

She whirled back around, eyes blazing with anger. “Why don’t you get it?” she shrieked. “You’re a fucking loser!”

“As opposed to your current boyfriend, who’s such a stand-up guy.”

“I don’t care if you’re gonna be some too-rich-for-his-own-good lawyer someday. I don’t care if you live in one of the nicest houses in town. I don’t even care if you’re clean and sober, because you’re still the same old Max Evans to me. And you don’t even exist to Dylan.”

Hearing that was like getting a knife in the heart. Because it was true. It was absolutely true, and these days, it wasn’t for lack of trying.

“Look at this.” Maria stomped over to her cluttered dresser, picked up a folded piece of paper, and then stormed back to him. “He drew this in daycare the other day. Look at it.”

He took the paper from her, fighting the urge to crumple it up the moment he realized what he was seeing: It was Dylan’s version of a family portrait. And he obviously wasn’t in it.

“He drew his family, Max,” Maria said, as if he couldn’t tell. “Me and him and Michael. Not you. Never you.”

The people in the drawing were little more than stick figures, but Dylan had drawn Michael’s larger-than-life hair, drawn a Michael with a smile on his face. He even had a little arrow pointing to the drawing that led to the word Daddy, scribbled and misspelled, but still readable.

Maria seized the drawing back from him, rubbing it in. “Face it, Max: You’re not his dad.” With a coldness that surprised even him, she snarled, “You’re no one.”

He tensed, feeling . . . pissed off. Freaked out. Too many things to identify, because he was feeling them all at once. He was supposed to be an Evans. He was supposed to be great, powerful, notable. He couldn’t be no one. He had to be someone.

“Do me a favor,” she said. “Take your fucking compromise and shove it up your ass.”

He couldn’t even retort with the obvious line about things Michael had probably shoved up her ass. He felt . . . weak. Depleted. Like there was no energy left to even insult her, or give her a hard time. There was nothing. Nothing and no one. Seemed like the natural combination.

She set the drawing back down on the dresser, then glared at him harshly once more, and left the bedroom. He watched as she went across the hallway to the bathroom, took off her engagement ring and put it down on the sink, and then shut the door before he could catch any glimpse of skin underneath that robe.

Fuck this, he thought. It was a losing battle. He wasn’t going to get his way. He’d fucked things up. He always did. He fucked everything up, and it fucked him up in return. Before he had left home to come here with Liz for the summer, his dad had told him that he was throwing his life away, that he was a train wreck going nowhere. And he was right.

Max walked out of the room, stopping suddenly at the top of the stairs. He thought back to what he had just seen as Maria had walked into that bathroom, and mischief got the best of him. He had so many problems, and she was supposed to have problems, too. She was a teen mom, for Christ’s sake. She wasn’t supposed to have a storybook ending.

He turned back around and inched down the hallway, stopping by the closed door. There wasn’t even a lock on it, almost like it was begging him to enter.

He waited until he heard the water start to run, then waited a moment longer, and another moment, just to be safe. And then he quietly, carefully pushed open the door and peeked inside.

Perfect. The shower curtain was pulled, and she, like so many others in his life, was oblivious.

He picked up her ring from where it lay on the sink, sliding it halfway down his left pinky finger, because that was all the farther it would go. The thing definitely wasn’t a piece of crap. It was actually . . . surprisingly nice. Maybe even a little expensive. And it was her engagement ring. She’d be devastated to lose that.

In that particular moment, Max really wanted to devastate her, because she had just devastated him.

He slipped out of the bathroom as unnoticed as he had come in, pocketed the ring, and trundled downstairs and out the front door, disappearing into the night, blending into the shadows, thinking now that that was where he had always belonged.








TBC . . .

-April
Image
LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

keepsmiling7
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 1881
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2007 9:34 pm

Re: Someone, Anyone (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) Part 78, 09/26/1

Postby keepsmiling7 » Sun Sep 27, 2015 5:21 pm

Max.......you jerk.......why don't you leave Maria, Dylan and Michael alone?
The very idea that he wanted to compromise. Guess he always was unpredictable.
Now I am really worried for Liz. She had accepted that he was complicated with a complicated past, but now I wonder about his reactions to Liz's news.
Please hurry back!
Carolyn

sarammlover
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 318
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 5:03 pm

Re: Someone, Anyone (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) Part 78, 09/26/1

Postby sarammlover » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:32 pm

I can't believe Maria let Max take a foot inside that house and then didn't see him OUT the door when she did. Rookie mistake Maria....and Liz..PREGNANT!! OMG!! I have to be honest, I didn't see that one coming at all! It will be interesting to see how this all plays out!


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