In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult) COMPLETE 3/10/13

Finished stories that feature the characters from the show, but there are no aliens. All fics completed on the main AU without Aliens board will eventually be moved here.

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult) COMPLETE 3/10/13

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:44 am

In The Course Of a Lifetime

Author(s): Double Trouble

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Banner by: Us

Disclaimer: All characters and plot lines that appeared in the series or in the books are not ours. The concept of Roswell does not belong to us either. They all belong to Melinda Metz, UPN, yada, yada, yada…

Pairings: M&M, M&L, K&T, and A/I

Rating: Adult… Seriously? This was in question?

Summary: (AU without Aliens) The effect that one life can have on many is unknown until that life is taken away. Every life is filled with multiple paths and choices that lead to the ultimate goal. Perhaps the goal is not the thing that changes… perhaps it is the paths and choices that each individual makes that determine the length and difficulty of that journey. The goal waiting at the end of the road, of course, is love.

Author’s Note 1: This fic was written for Novy a.k.a. Alien_Friend, who won us for the Support Stacie Author’s Auction in September. Novy, thanks for giving us such an awesome idea to work with! We hope you enjoy this crazy, emotional ride!

Author’s Note 2: While the fic does center around the death of a character, it is not a canon Roswell character!

Link to Our Trailer – Made by us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT7mOXwAqSE




Part 1

Miami, Florida was sunny and warm as the end of September approached and in the distance the surface of the ocean, gently rolling in small waves, sparkled in the sunlight. The streets were heavy with traffic as she maneuvered through the city, eager to reach the place she had called home for the past ten years. After several turns she finally left the traffic behind and slowed down as she drove through the quiet residential neighborhood.

She pulled around the circular driveway and shifted the car into park as she looked up at the sprawling house and a feeling of emptiness swept over her. She sat there for several moments before she finally forced herself to open the door and get out of the car. Some days it was a chore just to get out of bed, she thought as she selected the front door key and inserted it into the lock.

Stepping inside the foyer used to feel so welcoming and now it just felt suffocating. She swallowed hard as the feelings and emotions hit her once more, the reminder that her husband would never walk through the front door again almost crippling. It didn’t seem possible that he had been gone for almost six months; that she hadn’t heard him laugh heartily or tell one of his stupid jokes in… dear God, had it already been over a year?

The telephone rang somewhere in the house, the sound distant and vague as she stared at the marble floor as if it held the answers to her questions. The voice on the answering machine drew her attention, but before she could identify either the caller or the message a loud beep signaled the end of both. She walked into the living room and crossed over to the telephone, pressing the button to play the call back.

“Mrs. Evans, this is Principal Hawthorne again,” the man’s voice grated out and she could hear the impatience and the irritation in his annoyed tone. “Your son is sitting in my office at this very moment and I would appreciate a meeting with you this afternoon.” He huffed and she could just picture his heavy jowls jiggling with the motion. “It’s 1:37pm now, and I will be keeping Andy in my office until you come in to pick him up.”

Principal Hawthorne was so precise about everything and she hated dealing with him, but her son had made sure that she had been in the man’s office at least twice a week since school had started up. Barely a month into the new school year and she had already been called in to the office nine times.

“Make that ten,” she muttered as she turned with the intention of going back out to the car.

A loud bark drew her attention to the back of the house and she walked out of the living room and down the hall to the kitchen. The door that opened to the backyard also provided the dog with his own entrance because her husband had insisted on putting a doggy door in so the animal could come and go as he pleased. She could remember the argument they had gotten into over such a stupid thing and she bit her bottom lip to stop the tears she could feel filling her eyes at the memory.

She opened the door and stepped out onto the wide porch that wrapped around the house and before she could snap her fingers or whistle for the dog another sound had her turning to face the end of the house. A man wearing a uniform shirt that identified him as an employee of the local electric company was pinned to the side of the house by a pair of large paws and he was doing his best to avoid the canine face that was inches from his own.

“There’s a large sign on that gate that says we have a dog,” she said.

“Sorry, ma’am, just tryin’ to get the readin’ so I can finish my route,” he explained. “I just took over this neighborhood on my route and the previous reader did leave a note that I should make sure someone was home before comin’ back to get the readin’, but I didn’t get an answer and when I looked I didn’t see your dog.” He shrugged one shoulder. “I won’t make that mistake again.”

She nodded and snapped her fingers and the large German shepherd dropped to the ground and loped across the yard to join her on the porch. She watched the man as he read the meter, his nervous gaze shooting over to glance at the dog constantly and by the time he left she was certain that her next bill was either going to be too high or too low because he had probably recorded the numbers wrong.

“Good boy, Theo,” she said, reaching down to pet the dog. Her husband had loved Greek mythology and when he had brought the dog home he had named it Theseus after some figure in Greek history or mythology. She couldn’t remember which it was now.

She sighed and turned to go back inside, leaving Theseus to maintain a watchful eye over the property. She went back to the living room and grabbed her keys off of the table by the phone and hurried back out to her car. She had a meeting to get to and she knew from experience that the longer the grumpy principal had to wait the more unpleasant he would be.

*****

Andy Evans was slouched down in one of the chairs across from the asshat that kept calling his mother to come and get him. He had been getting in trouble for months now and he wasn’t sure she even really noticed or cared beyond her initial reaction. Ever since his father’s accident she had just checked out on him. It was like she had forgotten that he was even there. Until he did something that she couldn’t ignore, he thought.

She would be pissed about this one though, and he knew she would read him the riot act all the way home. In those brief moments when she was ripping him a new one for whatever trouble he’d gotten into she forgot they were alone and she was like she used to be. It seemed to be the only way he was able to get her attention anymore.

He looked up when the asshat’s secretary buzzed in to let him know that his student’s mother had arrived. His first instinct was to stand up or at least sit up straighter when she entered the room, but he defied what his father had taught him and remained in his I-don’t-care position.

“Mrs. Evans.” Principal Hawthorne stood up when the woman walked through the door of his office and he motioned for his secretary to pull the door closed behind her. He leaned over and held his hand out to the woman and as soon as she released his hand he waved to the chair beside Andy.

“Principal Hawthorne,” she said as she turned to look at her son. He was slouched down in his chair, his long legs bent at the knee and his right leg bouncing up and down erratically. He was tall like his father with the same dark hair and amber eyes, the same big hands that were curled over the arms of the chair as his long, artistic fingers clenched around the wood spasmodically.

He lifted his head to meet her gaze and she could see the accusation there, the anger and hostility that he no longer tried to hide from her. She winced when she saw the bruise already showing under the swelling around his left eye and her heart thudded painfully in her chest when she reached out to touch him and he jerked away from her.

The principal cleared his throat to get her attention and he leaned forward, clasping his hands on the desk between them. “There’s really no point in beating around the bush, Mrs. Evans. This is not the first time your son has been sent to the office for getting into trouble and frankly, I have reached the end my rope.”

“What are you saying?” she asked, pulling her gaze away from her son to look at the principal.

“What I’m sayin’ is that your son is a menace, Mrs. Evans; he’s been causing trouble since the first day of the school year and I think I’ve been patient and considerate in light of recent… events.”

“Why don’t you just say it?” Andy interrupted. “There’s no need to sugarcoat it, you asshat. My dad’s dead. I’m a big boy. I can handle people talkin’ about it.”

“I will not tolerate this type of disrespect in my school, Mrs. Evans – “

Andy’s temper escalated when his outburst went without comment. “I’m sittin’ right here! Stop talkin’ about me like – “

“Andrew, this is not the time!”

“No, Mom, it’s never the time, is it?” He shoved himself to his feet and grabbed the doorknob with the intention of jerking it open but he froze when his mother placed her hand on the door, and he found himself eye level with her wedding ring.

“Sit down right now, Andy.” She met his defiant gaze, holding it for several minutes before he backed down and took his seat again. She sighed and lowered her hand from the door, well aware of the fact that she was trembling.

“As I was saying, Mrs. Evans, I will not tolerate this behavior. You obviously have no control over your son and he won’t stay out of trouble at school, so I have no choice – “

“Don’t talk to her like that!” the teenager snapped.

“I have no choice but to suspend your son.”

A major headache was building behind her eyes and she rubbed at her temples for a moment as she pulled in a deep breath. “Principal Hawthorne, it’s quite obvious that Andy got into a fight, but if you could give me the details I would appreciate it.”

“He got into a fight with another boy in the cafeteria and when one of the monitors stepped in to break it up, he took a swing at the man. Your son’s behavior has escalated from pranks to physical violence and that causes me great concern. I realize you’ve both suffered a great loss, but that is no excuse for this type of acting out.”

“How long is his suspension?”

“It’s a ten-day suspension and we’ll be reviewing his file; there will be a hearing to determine whether or not he will be allowed to return to school.”

“What?”

“Mrs. Evans, I know this must be difficult for you, but I have students and employees to protect and if it is determined that Andy is a danger to them then he will be expelled at that point. I chose not to involve the authorities, but this is not the first time your son has gotten into trouble this year and I’m afraid his record will speak for itself.” He leaned back in his chair. “You’ll be receiving a notification letter in the next few days to inform you of your rights at the hearing.”

*****

Andy threw himself into the front seat of the car and crossed his arms over his chest as he watched his mother walk around to get in on the driver’s side. He waited for the expected lecture, part of him hoping that she would just tear into him for his behavior instead of giving him that disappointed sigh and letting it go. The other part of him was silently daring her to chastise him for his actions so he could go off on her.

She slid in behind the steering wheel and started the car, staring out through the windshield for several minutes before turning to look at her son. Tears clogged her throat when she realized that she had no idea what to say to him or how to deal with the situation. She knew he was acting out in response to his father’s death, but he was also acting out because he was angry with her and she didn’t know how to fix it.

“We’ll talk about this after we’ve had time to – “

“Whatever. Who cares, Mom? What the hell does it matter if I graduate or not? It’s not like any of this means anything. Dad did it all right and what good did it do him?”

“Andy, you can’t – “

He turned so that he was looking out through his window and refused to say another word. It had become a familiar pose over the past few months and she knew he wasn’t going to listen to anything that she had to say. She sighed, disappointed and exhausted, and no closer to reaching a solution than she had been since the accident that had eventually claimed her husband’s life.

The drive home took about 25 minutes but it felt like an eternity. Silence was nothing new between them; it had become a fairly balanced mix of the silent treatment and arguments since her husband had died. Andy had become sullen, confrontational, angry and belligerent and it was only getting worse as time passed. He had been in counseling for a couple of months, but he had refused to cooperate and eventually she had been told that she should look for a new therapist because of the lack of progress being made.

She had started to look for another counselor for him, talked to half a dozen or so, but Andy had been adamant that he wouldn’t continue his sessions. She had tried begging, pleading, yelling, and threatening to ground him for life, but nothing had worked. She was reaching the end of her rope and she didn’t know what to do to turn things around between them.

Andy stomped through the front door and headed for the wide staircase that led up to the second floor where the bedrooms were located, ignoring his mother’s voice as she yelled at him to stop and listen to her.

“Andrew Evans, do not walk up those stairs,” she ordered as she reached the foot of the staircase.

“Can I assume I’m grounded?” He nodded when she just stared at him. “I’m goin’ to my room,” he said and took a couple of steps.

“Do not walk away from me!”

He jerked around and looked down at her. “I’m not the one who walked away, Mom!”

She met his challenging gaze and her heart clenched painfully as she was once again faced with her husband’s features staring back at her through her son. It hurt so much just to look at him sometimes and she still hadn’t found a way to deal with that.

Andy saw the look of sadness enter her expression and he knew he was the cause for it. He knew how much he resembled his father and it was impossible to miss those moments when she looked at him and saw the man she had lost instead of the son who was still alive and waiting for her to see him. Anger and hurt collided inside of him and he turned and stomped up the stairs, hurrying to his bedroom and slamming the door shut behind him.

The music was cranked up to a ridiculous volume within seconds of the door slamming and she sighed as she followed him, pausing at his door before continuing to her own bedroom. She closed the door and leaned back against it as she removed her shoes, rubbing each foot before placing it on the floor again.

Her feet made the merest whisper of sound as she padded across the thick carpet to pick up the framed photograph that sat on the nightstand. She sat down and ran her fingers over her husband’s smiling image and the grief came crashing in on her, the pain driving her to curl up on the bed and hold the photograph close. “God, I wish you were here,” she cried, the words stuttering out and mixed in with choked sobs. “I don’t know how to do this alone.” The tears poured from her eyes, burning as they trailed hotly down her cheeks to splash on the pillow beneath her head.
Last edited by Double Trouble on Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:19 am, edited 133 times in total.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult) Part 2 - 11/8/09

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:09 am

nibbles2: Thanks!

No, no, we didn’t kill off any canon characters, promise!

keepsmiling7: All will be revealed… some in this next part.

begonia9508: Are you sure it’s Liz? But, no, Mrs. Evans and Andy have had a difficult time.

mary mary: And now we will attempt to keep it!

Alien_Friend: Thanks! We’re so glad you shared this awesome idea with us!

Poor Andy and Mrs. Evans, they’re both struggling and in need of each other.

Andy is in a difficult position and wants so badly for his mother to see him again but he doesn’t know how to make that happen, so that need has manifested itself in him acting out. Unfortunately that is only making the situation worse.

April: We’re glad you’re intrigued!

LOL, somehow, we were just waiting for that rating comment from you!

Maiqu: Liz, huh? We’ll see soon!

sarammlover: It was a tough start. LOL, not even a guess? Well, we’ll take one option off of the list with this next update.

Eva: No guesses?

abbs007: Hmm, we’ll see in this next part if you’re on target.

kismet: Ah, c’mon, we wouldn’t do that! Not without warning anyway, lol.


Part 2

The heat rose up from the rooftop in unrelenting waves and the man standing in the center of the chaotic activity ran a hand across the back of his neck to wipe away the sweat trickling down from his hairline. He looked over the crime scene photos in the folder he held and he moved to a different location to match them up against the current crime scene.

“So, what d’you think?” the eager man next to him asked.

FBI Special Agent Kyle Valenti slid the photos back into the sleeve and closed the folder as he shook his head. “You’re lookin’ for a copycat, Agent Lawson.”

“Sir, the M.O. is the same.”

“The M.O. is similar, but it’s not identical. The suspect we’re after is methodical; he’s meticulous about his victims and the place he chooses to leave their bodies.” He turned and pointed at the skyline to the east. “Your vic was found lying facedown, body facing east.” He shook his head and turned to point at the debris scattered around and the obvious drag marks. “This isn’t consistent with his previous kills; there’s evidence of a struggle here, the body is in the wrong position, and there was no message left with the body.”

“Maybe he’s getting sloppy.”

“And maybe you’re lookin’ for an excuse to avoid doin’ anymore work on this case than you have to because the vic is indigent.”

“Excuse me? Are you implying that I’m tryin’ to get outta doin’ my job?”

“I’m implying that you wasted Bureau resources when you requested the involvement of me and my partner. You clearly stated in your request that there was evidence directly linking this case to mine, and Agent Walters…” He turned in a circle with his right arm outstretched to indicate the entire rooftop. “The only similarity to my case is the fact that the body was found on a rooftop; that’s it, there’s nothin’ else.”

“This’s sloppy field work,” a tall man wearing a cowboy hat over close-cropped sandy blond hair said as he joined them. “Who’s the moron who got us called in on a weekend and ruined my date with Shayna, my red-headed exotic dancer?”

Kyle grinned and slapped his partner’s shoulder with the folder in his hand. He and Agent Jack Kelley had been partners for the past four years and they spent more time together than apart, whether it was on the job or off. “This’s Agent Walters, Jack; he’s the reason the lovely Shayna will be performing onstage tonight instead of doin’ a pole dance on you.”

Agent Walters glanced at his watch. “I’m sure you can be back in Atlanta before the alcohol and dollar bills start flowin’ freely at whatever sleazy little club she works at,” he remarked snidely.

“Nobody asked for your opinion, dickhead,” Jack snarled. He pulled his hat lower over his eyes to block the sun. “We’re not here in an official capacity, so if you wanna take it outside off the clock, I’d be happy to oblige.”

“Okay, Country, calm it down.” Kyle stepped in before Jack could take Walters out for an old-fashioned ass-kicking. His partner had grown up on a ranch up in Montana and he had the cowboy mentality deeply ingrained.

“He’s talkin’ shit about my girl, City.”

Kyle grinned at his partner. Jack had started calling him ‘City’ from the moment they met because he had been raised in Chicago and in return he had given Jack the nickname ‘Country’ and the names had stuck even after four years. “You don’t need any trouble down here, so why don’t you call in, see if we can get a flight back to Atlanta tonight, and I’ll wrap things up here.”

Jack glared at the other agent as he stepped back at his partner’s suggestion. “Better hope we don’t ever meet up in a dark alley,” he warned. “I’ll make that call.”

“Agent Walters, we’ll be takin’ our leave now since this case isn’t related to anything we’re workin’ on.”

Walters nodded. “I may have jumped the gun a bit, Agent Valenti. Sorry for draggin’ you out for nothin’.”

“I know you’re lookin’ for a case that’ll get you promoted and into the big leagues, but this isn’t the way to do it.” He reached for his cell phone when it chirped. “I hope for your sake this isn’t my partner callin’ ‘cause we can’t get a flight back tonight; he’s very touchy about missin’ dates with his girl.” He frowned when he recognized the number for the home office and he walked away to take his call and find his partner.

*****

The smell of engine oil and other mechanical fluids hung heavy in the air but she didn’t even notice them as she walked through the middle bay of the automotive shop. Her gaze rapidly scanned the area, noting that both of the other bays were occupied by cars in various stages of repair. She sidestepped a wrench when it hit the concrete and skidded across the ground.

“Sorry ‘bout that,” a gruff voice apologized.

She turned to look at the man who had spoken and she waved one hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about it, Josh.”

“Boss would have my ass if I dropped somethin’ and broke one of those pretty feet,” he said, winking as he motioned to her sandal-clad feet.

Yeah, if he even noticed, she thought. These days it was doubtful that he’d notice if there was anything amiss. “Why’s the shop still open?” she asked, shoving those thoughts away.

“Just runnin’ a little behind,” he answered, fidgeting with the wrench he had just picked up off of the ground.

“And why’re you the only mechanic workin’ this late?”

“Well,” he glanced around uncomfortably, “Jamie’s on vacation and Rick had some family thing tonight so he couldn’t hang around after hours.”

“Where’s Ben?”

“Oh, well, he uh…” He shrugged and cleared his throat as he leaned in under the hood of the car he was working on. “He quit about a week back.”

“Oh, right, I must’ve forgotten.” She sighed tiredly. Easy to forget when you didn’t have a clue about what was going on. “Where’s he at, Josh?”

“Office, last time I checked.”

She walked through the shop and went into the office, frowning when she found it empty and in disarray. She turned and went outside, going around back and pausing when she saw the solitary figure sitting on the back of the tow truck.

“You could’ve called.”

Max Evans lifted his head and turned to look at his wife when she spoke up from behind him and he sighed as he shifted to face the fence that ran along the edge of the property.

“You missed dinner.”

Again.

He heard the accusation in her tone, the reminder that he was slipping in his duties as a husband and father, and he took a deep breath before lifting the bottle he held in his right hand and taking a long drink from it. “I’ve got customers expecting their cars to be ready by mornin’,” he said tiredly.

“You’ve got three children at home who expect their father to be involved in their lives!” she shouted, angry at his emotionless tone. They had been going like this for months now and she could feel him slipping away from her a little more each day. Her temper spiked when he remained silent and lifted the bottle once more. “You are not the one who died and I will be damned if I sit back and watch you crawl into a bottle to escape from the pain!” she yelled, slapping the bottle out of his hand.

His shocked gaze flew to hers as the bottle hit the ground, shattering on impact and leaving a large foamy wet spot peppered with shards of glass. “What the hell, Liz!”

“Kara has a recital tonight and she’s expecting you to be there. Do you think you can manage to find your way home in time to get ready so that you can ride to the school with your family?” She smacked the palm of her hand against the truck’s frame as she moved closer to him, ignoring her body’s reaction to his nearness as she jabbed him in the chest with her forefinger. “You have one hour to get home and get ready to go. Do not come home with alcohol on your breath.”

She stalked back to the front of the shop and pressed the button on her keychain to disarm the alarm, jerking the door open on her car and sliding in behind the wheel. She realized she was shaking when she reached out to grasp the steering wheel and she leaned forward to rest her forehead on her hands. For months they had been walking a tightrope, doing everything possible to keep things at home normal for their children even as they were slowly falling apart as a couple.

She drew in several deep breaths in an effort to calm herself and when she felt like she was in control once more she started the car and pulled out onto the street. She had two teenage boys who weren’t interested in going to a ballet recital and a four-year-old girl who couldn’t wait to get ready and show off for Daddy waiting for her at home. She could only hope that Max would be able to pull from that reserve of inner strength that she knew he had so he could get home and ready to go in time for them to leave.

*****

Max stared at the foam as the bubbles slowly dissipated and he reached up to rub his eyes. He was doing everything he could to keep from coming apart at the seams and it was killing him to see the disappointment and hurt in his wife’s eyes. 16 years of marriage had strengthened their bond, it had enhanced their attraction to each other, and now his inability to deal with his older brother’s death was threatening to destroy everything he and Liz had built together.

It was getting harder to go home every night after struggling to keep his mind on work all day, but he didn’t know how to fix things. He felt like his world was slowly falling apart and no matter what he did he kept screwing things up. He and Liz were living a lie; pretending that things were fine for the kids’ sake, smiling and keeping up appearances in public, but at the end of the day when they were alone behind closed doors the ugly truth was waiting to stare them both in the face.

They rarely turned to each other in the night and making love felt more like something that was expected on occasion instead of the loving and heated connection it had always been between them. There was a gnawing ache inside of him, an emptiness that he didn’t know how to fill, and he knew without question that the loss of his brother was slowly eating away at him and erasing the man he had always thought himself to be.

His older brother had been his rock, the steadying force in his life from such a young age, and having that anchor taken away so suddenly had left him adrift. He felt like he couldn’t get a grasp on anything and each day that passed by took another piece of what was left of the rope tethering him to reality. He had a family that needed him and for the first time he wasn’t giving them every bit of himself to make sure that they knew they were cared for, loved and the most important and cherished people in his life.

He dropped down off of the tow truck and crossed over to the shop so he could get a broom and a dustpan. He sighed as he crouched down to clean up the broken glass and he winced as he recalled his wife’s parting words.

“Do not come home with alcohol on your breath.”

“Damn it,” he muttered as carried the mess over to the trash and dumped it. Had things gotten that bad? Jackass, his mind screamed, she’s never caught you drinking at work! He had never been a heavy drinker, usually just having a few with the guys after work on occasion. He wasn’t much fun to hang around with these days though, and nights out with the guys were few and far between.

He put the broom and dustpan away and walked into the shop, pausing beside the car one of his remaining mechanics was working on.

“What’s up, boss?” Josh asked, his right hand stilling on the socket wrench he was in the process of turning.

“Why don’t you cut outta here,” Max said quietly.

“Mayor DeWitt’s wife expects her car to be ready at 8am.” He cleared his throat. “I was able to stall her when she came to pick it up at closin’ time, told her the part had come in late, but if it’s not ready first thing in the mornin’…”

Max nodded, knowing that it was his fault the car hadn’t been ready on time. He had forgotten to place the order for the part and because of his oversight his employee was working overtime to cover the boss’ ass. “Go on, Josh,” he said, waving his hand, “I’ll finish this up tonight.”

The dark-skinned man smiled widely. “Nah, y’know how I am about finishin’ the jobs I start, boss, and you gotta little girl who’s gonna miss you if you’re not at her little ballet thing. Go on, man, I can close the shop up when I’m done.”

He felt completely undeserving of the man’s loyalty and devotion as he gave in and went to close up the office and clean up before leaving for the night. He grabbed the shaving kit he kept in his locker for those nights when he worked later than planned and had to freshen up on the run and he went into the private bathroom.

He braced his hands on the sink and stared at his reflection in the mirror. If he looked hard enough he could almost see his older brother and before long the image changed to a sunny afternoon in the Everglades, his boys and his nephew scouting around for their campsite for the night while his brother told some lewd joke that both of their wives would’ve stopped before it had even gotten started.

It had been a perfect day for hiking and the trail had been well marked with no signs of danger, so when the ground beneath Andrew’s feet had disintegrated and he had fallen Max had thrown his body forward, just barely managing to grab his brother’s hand. He squeezed his eyes shut as he tried to force the images from his memory, but his mind wouldn’t cooperate. His grip hadn’t been very secure and sweat had made it even more unstable. He had leaned over the edge as he had fought to reach far enough with his other hand to get a grip on his brother and he had felt his own body inching towards the edge as Andrew’s weight started to pull him down.

He had seen the look in his brother’s eyes, known the exact moment that he realized he was going to pull Max over before his brother could pull him up. Time and gravity had both been working against them and despite his best efforts to hold onto him, Andrew had shaken his head, whispered a few last words and released his brother’s hand.

He barely made it to the toilet in time when his stomach revolted at the intense memory. He rinsed his mouth out afterwards, brushed his teeth and rinsed again. He slumped back against the door and slid down as he covered his face with his hands, the weight of his greatest failure making it hard to breathe. He rocked back and forth as he tried to force it all back inside that dark place where he hid the feelings and emotions associated with that day.

It was taking longer and longer to control this fragmented feeling, he thought as his body finally stopped shaking. He suddenly realized that he had broken out in a cold sweat and he took a deep breath, running his hands over his goatee several times before forcing himself to his feet. He had to clean up well enough to make it into the house without raising anyone’s suspicions. He needed to be strong; he couldn’t allow himself to be seen as weak. He met his reflection once again and he drew himself up to his full height. He was the man; husband, father, employer, and business owner, and he had too many responsibilities and obligations to just let this weakness take over. His family needed to know that they could count on him and in order to make sure they knew that he needed to stop letting his feelings get in the way. He couldn’t let Liz see that he wasn’t the man she thought he was. He had disappointed her enough already. He would continue hiding the feelings of guilt over his failure to save the man who had been so influential in his life. Eventually he would be able to put it behind him for good, he was sure of it.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult) Part 3 - 11/15/0

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Nov 15, 2009 6:45 am

keepsmiling7: Max has fooled himself into believing that he can handle things by not dealing with the situation. Unfortunately, that never works out.

Eva: Max and Liz have been together for a long time and she knows how to handle him. She isn’t used to him shutting her out and that behaviour is affecting their whole family. But, don’t worry, she’s gonna fight for her husband and her family!

Yes.

Not gonna share though? Well, we suppose you’ll know if you’re right soon enough!

begonia9508: Nope, there’s nothing he can do to change the past, but if he doesn’t take a hard look at what he’s doing he’s gonna destroy his relationship with his family.

mary mary: Max isn’t dealing with the situation well, but dealing with it by locking everything away isn’t really dealing with it, is it?

nibbles2: He’s got to open up and let himself be helped by the people who love him.

April: The road to healing is usually painful and in the case of someone who is fighting so hard to convince himself or herself that he or she is alright it’s even worse.

Earth2Mama: He’s shouldering a heavy burden… and until he shares that it’s only gonna get heavier. That’s what this fic is all about! Healing and finding a way to move on with life.

Good guess… could be…

sarammlover: Michael, the white knight, huh? Could be… he’s definitely got white knight potential! Max is having a difficult time and knowing that his brother let go because he didn’t believe Max could save him… that makes it even harder for him.

Alien_Friend: We promise, they’re gonna come through it in time. Thanks! These two could do with a lot of hugs!

FBI Special Agent Kyle with a gun and badge… can’t go wrong there, right?


Part 3

Alex Whitman had been an accountant long enough to know when a business was headed for trouble. The small chain of automotive repair shops that his client and friend had jointly owned with his older brother were slowly inching their way into the red and Alex was beginning to worry that all of his advice was falling on deaf ears.

He pulled his glasses off and dropped them on his desk before leaning back in his chair and rubbing his eyes tiredly. He sighed and shook his head as he scanned over the numbers staring back at him from the screen. He knew Max was having a difficult time dealing with the loss of his brother and that he had taken over managing the chain of repair shops, but his head wasn’t in the game and he was putting the entire business in jeopardy.

Max was so busy trying to be everything for everyone that he couldn’t see just how badly he needed help. He was aware that his client had stepped in and taken over management, allowing his brother’s widow time to grieve without worrying about the business. From what he had been told she had never been involved with the business and since Max was managing things Alex answered to him so technically he had no authority to approach the sister-in-law about the problems with the business. He had known her in high school but she had been a couple of years ahead of him so they had never really known each other beyond the acquaintance stage.

He glanced up when he heard the front door slam, followed by the sound of tennis-shoe clad feet pounding through the hall. He hid a tired smile a few seconds later when the door to the office flew open and he reached out to minimize the screen just as a pair of skinny arms looped around his neck from behind.

“Top secret project?”

He grinned at his daughter’s teasing tone. “Um-hmm, I’m on the verge of uncovering the truth about the big alien cover-up in ’47.”

15-year-old Samantha Whitman rolled her eyes at her father’s words. “Let me know how that goes, Dad.”

Alex swiveled around in his chair when she stepped back and he shook his head when he saw her disheveled appearance. “Football with the twins again?”

She wrinkled her nose and shrugged one shoulder. “Yeah, but Justin and Nicky weren’t really into it… they’re really messed up about their parents.” She wandered around the office, running her fingertips over the cherry shelves filled with books.

“What’s on your mind, Sam?”

“They think their parents are gonna get a divorce.”

He frowned. “Have their parents said anything to them about that?”

“No, but, they’ve always been really close, y’know?” She sighed and turned to lean against the shelves. “There’s this… I don’t know, silence I guess, between their mom and dad. It used to be so warm and happy at their house and now it’s all different.”

Alex stood up and crossed the room to take his daughter in his arms. “The Evans’ have been through a lot recently, honey, and sometimes these things get worse before they get better.” He pressed a kiss to her head and hugged her tighter.

“It just bites, Dad,” she grumbled.

“I know.”

“So, what’s for dinner?” she asked as she wiggled out of his embrace and turned to walk back into the house.

He went over to his desk and shut everything down for the night before following her inside and going to the kitchen where she was snooping through the refrigerator. “We could do dinner and a movie,” he suggested.

“Um, well…” Sam winced as she stared at the milk, wondering how to get out of this one. She loved her dad, but it was Friday night and she could not go to a movie with him when everyone else would be there!

Alex winced, unconsciously mimicking his daughter’s expression. “Ah, I get it,” he said after a moment, “it’s not cool to be seen in public with your old man.”

“No, it’s not like that, Dad,” she denied quickly. She turned around to face him and ducked her head as she shrugged one shoulder. “Well, yeah, it is kinda like that, but only on Fridays and Saturdays… the rest of the week it’s cool.”

He nodded. “It’s okay, honey, I understand.”

“Are you sure?”

He waved her concern off. “Yeah, yeah, it’s fine. Why don’t you go on and get ready and I’ll make dinner.”

“Thanks, Daddy.”

She hugged him and he shook his head as she ran from the room. He looked down when the sound of small hooves clicked against the hardwood floor and he heard the snuffling snort before he saw his daughter’s pet. Oscar, a black and white teacup potbelly pig, had become part of their family when Sam had discovered the animal while she had been dragging her father through the local animal shelter in search of a suitable dog. She had been seven years old and she had fallen in love with the pig as soon as she had seen him, naming him Oscar before she had even spent two minutes with the animal.

He had no idea why Oscar was called a teacup pig because he weighed in around 60 pounds and there was nothing petite about him. He rolled his eyes when the pig, small in comparison to a regular farm pig, he admitted to himself, ambled over to him and rubbed his head against Alex’ right leg in a show of affection. He leaned over to pat Oscar’s side and then straightened back up to go and pull the bag of pig feed out of one of the cabinets. After pouring food in the bowl he put the bag away and tugged on the door to make sure the childproof lock was still holding. He had been surprised to learn just how intelligent the little pig was and he had eventually been forced to re-install childproof locks on just about everything. He had been so glad to be rid of the things once Sam had been old enough that he had felt safe without them, but Oscar had become quite adept at opening doors so he could root through everything he could reach.

Life hadn’t exactly gone the way he had expected it to, he mused as he started pulling out what he needed to make dinner. He hadn’t been expecting 3am feedings, colic, and diaper changes at 19 years old, but that was exactly what he had gotten. While other guys his age had been going out and getting drunk he had been keeping his nose in his textbooks and learning how to care for his infant daughter. He had been predictably terrified when his long-time girlfriend and high school sweetheart had told him their first year in college that she was pregnant, but he had never thought twice about taking care of her and his child.

His girlfriend had become more and more distant as the pregnancy had progressed and she had broken up with him during her sixth month. She had shown no interest in reconciling their relationship despite his best attempts and even though she had allowed him to be involved in things and even called him when she had gone into labor she had made it clear that they were over as a couple.

He had been the first one to hold Sam and he had known immediately that in spite of his fears they could work something out and raise her together. He had been shocked when his ex had calmly stated that she thought it would be best if they gave the baby up for adoption and he had begged her to give it some time. Even though she had reluctantly agreed he had been afraid that his time was limited and as soon as he had left the hospital he had started looking for a lawyer.

That had turned out to be unnecessary though. Sam had been four days old when his ex had shown up at his front door, handed their daughter to him, dropped several bags on the floor at his feet, and turned around and walked out of their lives. He had been completely lost and out of his element and he had quickly discovered that reading every book he could get his hands on about babies hadn’t prepared him for actually caring for one.

Thank God for Mom and Dad, he thought with a grin. He had called his parents in a panic and they had been on the next available flight to Boston. After several very long conversations and a lot of internal debating he had decided to transfer to a college closer to his hometown so that he could take them up on their offer to help and so that they could be involved in his little girl’s life. Being an accountant hadn’t been his dream job but he had wanted to be able to spend as much time as possible with his daughter; he hadn’t wanted her raised by daycare facilities and babysitters.

The opportunity to take over his father’s business when the older man retired had given him the perfect chance to learn the business from the ground up while earning his degree. He had been given an opportunity that had been too good to pass up and the career choice had given him the ability to work from home and give his daughter the stability he wanted for her. His parents had helped him get started when he had decided to buy a house and his father had helped him to convert the garage into an office.

Sam’s mother had never been a part of the girl’s life other than the occasional birthday card that showed up in the mail. The envelopes never had a return address and they always had different postmarks on them; he had no idea where his ex was, but he wished he could tell her to stop sending the cards because all the gesture did was cause confusion for his daughter. He had long ago stopped thinking of Sam as having two parents and as far as the courts were concerned he was the only parent involved.

“Dad, I can’t find my jacket,” she hollered from the living room where he could hear her tossing things aside in her search for the missing article of clothing.

“Worry about it after dinner,” he said, his voice raised to be heard. He glanced at her and motioned to the table when she came into the kitchen. “Where’re you goin’ tonight?”

“We’re gonna go bowling and if we get bored early enough we’ll go to a movie.” She smiled and crouched down next to the pig, petting him and fawning over him when he turned his attention to her and snuffled happily.

“Um-hmm,” Alex murmured while filling their plates, “and who exactly is we?”

“Dad,” she groaned.

“This is not a new rule, so don’t start that.”

“Me, the twins, Jenny, Scotty, and A.J.” Sam rolled her eyes and filled a couple of glasses, placing them on the table with the plates he had prepared. “The same people I always hang out with. And no, you don’t have to remind me when curfew is.”

Alex hid a smile as he listened to her grumble about overprotective fathers and curfews. He couldn’t really complain; Sam hadn’t discovered any interest in boys as of yet and he’d be perfectly happy if she stayed that way for the next ten years. Oh, he had no illusions that he’d be that lucky, but it sure would save him a lot of headaches.

*****

Tess Evans stared at her reflection in the mirror over the hairdresser’s station and her expression went from calm to surprise to utter disbelief in the space of a millisecond. Her right hand lifted to finger the ends of her hair before she turned to look at the woman who had massacred her beautiful, long blond hair.

“What did you do?” she shrieked.

The stylist took several steps back when Tess jumped out of the chair and advanced on her, blue eyes blazing as she advanced on the woman.

“You butchered it!”

“That’s exactly what you said you wanted,” the woman insisted.

“I did not tell you to do this! I could’ve just asked one of the landscaper’s to take a weed whacker to my head and gotten this result!”

The stylist sighed and took another step back. She had tried to talk her client out of making such a drastic decision, but Tess was angry over spotting an ex with another woman and cutting her hair was how she had chosen to distract herself. Mission accomplished, she thought. Chances were good that Tess wasn’t thinking about her ex at all. It wasn’t a bad look for her; it was just long enough to brush her shoulders, curling at the ends and giving it a fuller look.

Tess turned when she heard a low whistle of appreciation coming from behind her and her expression went from angry to flirtatious in a heartbeat. She reached up to flip her hair back over her shoulder when her eyes settled on the muscled, tanned god standing in front of her. He was the reason she had moved to San Diego. Well, not him specifically, but sexy, hard-bodied studs just like him.

“Think it works for me?” she asked with a teasing grin.

He shook his head slightly as he exhaled loudly. “It definitely works for you.” He winked at her as he leaned against the entrance between the salon and the rest of the mall. “Works for me, too.”

She giggled and was just about to take a couple of steps towards him when a woman walked up behind him and smacked the back of his head. Tess felt her good mood evaporate when they walked away, the woman dragging him while yelling at him. She threw herself down in the chair again and crossed her arms over her chest as she shook her head at her reflection.

“Men are total dicks,” she muttered.

“Not all of them, sweetie,” the stylist assured her.

“Enough of them.” She rolled her head along the back of the chair and looked at the woman who had been cutting and styling her hair since she had been living in California. “You managed to actually land a decent guy, Becky.” She sighed. “Possibly the last one in existence.”

“Um-hmm, what about that fella you told me about? The one in high school?”

“Kyle Valenti?” She snorted inelegantly. “I wouldn’t give that over-sized ego, macho prick know-it-all the time of day if his life depended on it.” She raised her head, tone completely superior. “He had his chance and he blew it.”

Becky hid a smile as she started putting her tools of the trade away. “And yet, when you say his name you still get flushed.”

“Well, I’m not denying that he was hot, but that was high school! Besides, I’m sure he’s gotten fat sittin’ behind a desk all day and he’s probably startin’ to go bald.” Oh, what she’d give to be right about that, she thought gleefully.

“I’m sure you’re right.” It was almost closing time and since it was the middle of the week it was slow so Becky sat down in the next chair and turned it so that she was facing Tess. “Have you decided whether you’re going home or not?”

“Roswell isn’t really home anymore,” Tess said quietly.

“You have family there,” the other woman said quietly. “That makes it home.”

“My brother and I have nothing in common, Becky; we haven’t talked in I don’t even know how long.” She sighed heavily and stared at her freshly-manicured nails. “I saw him at our brother’s funeral and…” She swallowed hard. Andrew’s death had been such a shock and she still hadn’t fully recovered from it. “I don’t think we said more than a dozen words to each other and I was there for an entire week.” She smiled. “I did enjoy spending time with my niece and nephews. My brother and his wife are fallin’ apart and they think they’ve hidden it so well.”

“You could tell when you were there?”

“No, but I’ve talked to the kids. If it was summertime I’d suggest having them come out here and stay with me, but school’s already started. They know something’s not right with their parents and they’re scared.” She propped her elbow on the armrest and placed her chin in her hand. “Eventually they’re gonna start to resent my brother and his wife for not bein’ honest with them about what’s goin’ on. They don’t need the specifics, but…” she shook her head, “I know what it’s like to know that your parents are goin’ through somethin’ and feelin’ like they’re shuttin’ you out.”

“And your brother and his wife are only trying to protect their children,” Becky said.

“Yeah. I don’t even know if me bein’ there would make any kind of a difference.”

“Do you want to be closer to your brother?”

“I’ve thought about it a lot since Andrew’s death.” She scratched her chin thoughtfully. “He tried to get us to work our differences out and we were close at one time, way back when we were kids, but now… I don’t know.”

“It’s never too late, Tess.”

“Maybe not.”

After settling her bill Tess made her way through the mall but she had lost all interest in shopping after talking about her family and dredging up memories from her childhood. She finally gave up trying to shop and just went home, prowling around the house restlessly before ending up on the deck that looked out over the ocean.

She had moved to California to attend college and afterwards she had decided to stay there because she hadn’t felt like there was any reason to go back home. She had made a good life for herself in San Diego, she had a good job, and she normally wasn’t lacking for companionship, but after her last disastrous attempt at a relationship she hadn’t bothered to do more than flirt with the guys who crossed her path.

She felt like something was missing, something that she couldn’t define, and she was beginning to think that going home and getting her relationship with her brother straightened out needed to be taken care of for her to move forward. It was what Andrew had wanted and she had promised him the last time she had seen him that she would make an effort with Max. She was still sitting on that promise and it nagged at her constantly.

Maybe it was time to go home, she thought, brushing the tears away as she thought about her family. She was tired of the emptiness inside and she just wanted it to go away. She knew from talking to her nephews that her brother and his wife were having problems; the boys couldn’t say what exactly was going on because their parents were doing their level best to keep it from affecting their children, but the kids knew something wasn’t right.

Yeah, she decided, it was time to go home. It would take a few days to make arrangements and find someone to housesit while she was gone, but she couldn’t put it off any longer.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult)Part 4 - 11/22/09

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Nov 22, 2009 6:56 am

chanks_girl: That’s part of the storyline that will be explored a little bit later.

They’ve never gotten along from the time they were children. Max will come to understand that in time.

Sam’s mother may or may not make an appearance in the fic.

We’re glad you like Oscar!

Earth2Mama: Now that would be the life!

Parents have a tendency to think they can protect their children from everything including themselves… what they don’t seem to realize at times is that their children are not blind and deaf to situations even if Mom and Dad aren’t fighting in front of them and are trying to maintain a sense of normalcy around the kids. Alex hasn’t had it easy, but he’d do anything for his little girl. Now if he could just find a way to stop his ex from sending the sporadic cards.

Of course!

begonia9508: Oh, they do!

Alien_Friend: Alex and Sam have a very good relationship.

You’re right about Tess! Hopefully, her being in Roswell will help her family.

They do, and they’re gonna need it.

We love the pets too!

mary mary: You’re so right. Understanding that sharing that pain is necessary to healing sometimes takes time, and right now Max is fighting that.

keepsmiling7: Posting more… again…

sarammlover: Yup… twins, as well as another child.

We’ve just about rounded out the introduction to our cast for this fic, so anyone we haven’t met yet will soon be showing up.

Eva: Alex is a great father and he tries very hard to give her a good life.

Thanks! The story will really get rolling once we finish the parts with the character introductions.


Part 4

Justin Evans leaned back against the wall next to Sam’s locker, tossing a football up in the air repeatedly and staring at the cheerleaders grouped together at the other end of the hall. His attention was pulled away when a pair of hands reached out and snatched the football out of the air when he tossed it up again.

“Oh, hey, Sam,” he greeted lazily as he motioned for the ball to be returned.

Sam rolled her eyes at him and threw it to him. “You do realize that it would be ridiculously cliché for you to date one of the cheerleaders, don’t you?”

“What’s wrong with cliché?” he asked with a grin.

“Besides the fact that you don’t know what it means?”

“He knows what it means,” Nick said as he joined them. “He can’t spell it, but he knows what it means.” He grinned and gave his twin a playful shove. “What? I’m the brains and you’re the brawn, that’s just the way it is.” They were both on the football team, but he considered himself to be the smartest since his IQ was four points higher than his brother’s.

“You guys have practice?” Sam asked, glancing between them.

“Nope, coaches all had to attend some meetin’ or somethin’. We told Mom we’d pick Kara up from the sitter and save her the stop on the way home.”

They all walked out of the school and turned toward the twins’ neighborhood. “How’re things goin’ with your parents?”

The boys exchanged a look. “Not good,” they answered at the same time.

“Are they still actin’ like everything’s fine?”

Justin kicked a rock across the ground and shifted his backpack higher on his shoulder. “Yeah, like we’re stupid or somethin’, y’know?”

“Yeah, the other night after Kara’s ballet thing they hardly said a word to each other,” Nick muttered. “Like we’re not gonna see through that.”

Sam watched them, listening to each of them as they grumbled about the situation at home; Justin was the more volatile of the two, tending to act without thinking first, while Nick was the complete opposite. The twins were identical with dark hair and their father’s amber eyes, and they were both tall with slender, athletic builds. When they reached the house belonging to the woman who picked Kara up on days when their mother was in meetings or teaching the drama club at the high school after their last class of the day Nick waited at the sidewalk with Sam while Justin went to collect their little sister.

He emerged from the house a few minutes later and he quickly lifted Kara up to sit on his shoulders. He held his right forearm across her legs and reached up to take her left hand in his just to make sure she didn’t fall. It was cool outside but when she asked to go to the park the twins gave in with very little whining from their little sister, eager to put off going home for a little while longer.

She watched them as they took turns playing with her, pushing her on the swings, and going down the slide with her. If she hadn’t known that Kara was adopted she never would have suspected it; there was a slight difference in their features, but the three of them were as close as any siblings she had ever seen.

“You guys wanna do somethin’ this weekend?” Sam asked when the twins switched places and Justin dropped down to sit next to her while Nick chased Kara around the playground equipment.

He sighed and shrugged one shoulder. “We’ve got a game Friday night. Dad’ll probably be at work all day Saturday and then Sunday Mom’ll be with the drama club, extra practice or somethin’.” He ran one hand through his short, dark hair and his eyes were sad when he looked at her. “The silence isn’t as bad when they’re not at home together.” He shoved his hands in his jacket pockets and turned to look at the ground. “I miss my parents, Sam.”

“I know, Justin,” she whispered, taking a chance and hugging him. He was the one who played the tough guy, the one who didn’t need anyone, and she knew he was hurting when he allowed her to wrap her arms around him in a tight hug.

*****

Miami was uncomfortably warm as Kyle stepped off of the plane and crossed the tarmac, talking to a couple of his fellow agents as they discussed the case that had brought them to Florida. He had caught a ride in with them because he had personal business to attend to, but first he was going to catch up with a couple of buddies on the local police force. He was going to get a good night’s sleep before dealing with the business that had made him decide to take a leave of absence from work.

After collecting his rental car he headed over to the hotel and checked in, rushing to his room and grabbing a quick shower before going down to the bar. The guys he had planned to meet were waiting in the hotel bar as agreed when he arrived and he shook his head when he saw that one of them was still wearing a suit.

“Detective Garrett,” he said with a grin and shook the man’s hand. “Bit overdressed for a night out with the guys.”

“Thought maybe you needed a date, Valenti,” the other man said.

Kyle snorted at that. “Thanks, Morgan, but the blonds I date are a lot prettier than he’ll ever be. Not to mention there’s that whole heterosexual thing I’ve got goin’ on.”

Garrett shook his head at their teasing. “I think my wife can vouch for my preference for women and I’m technically still on duty, so there won’t be much in the way of fun for me.”

“So, the suit isn’t for my benefit?” Kyle slapped him on the back and laughed. “I’m relieved since I’d have to turn you down and it’d just break your heart.” He motioned at the room around them. “Y’all just wanna hang here since Garrett’s still on duty?”

“That’s cool with me,” Morgan said with a nod.

The three men sat at a corner table and talked and laughed for several hours before the evening was interrupted by a call coming over Garrett’s radio.

Kyle only listened with half an ear since the call didn’t involve him, but when the dispatcher mentioned the name of a missing teenager he gave it his full attention.

“It’s that Evans kid, again,” the dispatcher said, sounding disgruntled.

“Most likely he’s just run off again,” Garrett muttered. He pressed the button on his radio and called back to let dispatch know that he would look into it. Once he was finished with the call he glanced at the man seated across from him. “Interested in givin’ us a hand? Unofficially, of course.” He knew what the call meant to the agent and he knew that Kyle would have insight into the search that would save them time locating the teenager.

“He’s been missin’ for a few hours now?”

“About seven hours; the mother’s in a panic and most likely the kid just needs time to cool off.”

Kyle nodded and slouched down a little further in his seat so he could fish around in his pocket to pull his keys out. He reached for the pen and small notebook that Morgan dropped on the table, scribbling out a few locations where they might find the boy. “I’ve got a few places in mind that I’ll check out, but if you guys could check these we’ll be able to cover more territory.”

“No problem, man. I’ve got my backup radio in my car,” Morgan said as he stood up. “I’ll get it for you so we can stay in contact on a private channel.”

*****

Andy entered the building that housed the firing range and walked through it, taking the exit at the back and looking around at the different areas set up for target practice. The summer before his father’s accident they had spent a lot of hours at the range; he could still remember his parents arguing about whether or not he was old enough to go hunting with his father and it was one time that his mother’s persuasive abilities hadn’t helped her argument one bit.

He had enjoyed hanging out with his father at the firing range, learning about weapons and eventually being allowed to fire them at the paper targets. He had loved hunting; learning how to track the animals, how to draw them out, but the first time he had gone with his father and he had seen a deer taken down he hadn’t been able to stomach it. That had been the first and last time he had gone hunting. He had still come out to the firing range with his father, but he had declined any other offers to go hunting with him.

It was late enough that the range would be closing soon and he knew it wasn’t smart to be out without the proper gear on, but he didn’t care. He just wanted to be someplace where he felt close to his father, someplace that reminded him of happier times and where he could forget for a few hours that his life totally sucked now. He had run out of the house after another argument with his mother and he knew his father would’ve been disappointed in his behavior and he would have been in so much trouble for raising his voice to her the way he had a few hours earlier.

“Thought I might find you here.”

Andy turned around and his features expressed surprise at the man’s presence. “What’re you doin’ here?”

“I got into town a few hours ago,” Kyle explained as he turned to wave to the owner of the range to let him know he had found the boy. “Catchin’ up with some of the guys when the call came over the radio that you had gone missin’.” He pulled a radio off of his belt and sent the message that Andy had been found and that he would return him to his mother. “How many times is this now, kid?”

Andy shrugged. “I don’t know,” he mumbled.

“You know,” Kyle countered, shaking his head. “Do you have any idea how much your mom worries when you do this? Or how much time you take away from cases that could be focused on if the cops weren’t out lookin’ for you?”

“I didn’t ask anyone to look for me.”

Kyle hid a smile at the kid’s stubborn tone. “No, your mom did because she’s worried about you.”

“Whatever.”

That was one argument that wasn’t going to be won tonight, Kyle realized. “Wanna tell me what’s up with the school suspension?”

Andy’s shocked gaze flew to his and he frowned. “How d’you know about that?”

“One of the reasons I’m here. Your grandparents are concerned about you and your mom, and I came to talk to her about some things.”

“Won’t do any good. She won’t care.” He kicked a rock across the ground. “She doesn’t care about anything anymore.”

“Andy, you both suffered a very painful loss and you need to be closer to the people who can really help. You guys are isolated out here – “

“I’m not gonna go see another stupid shrink and I don’t wanna go back to that crappy little town where she grew up.”

“Let’s talk man to man here for a minute, okay? You know your mom as a mother, not as a woman, wife, sister, daughter, or friend; you can’t understand her pain from her perspective just like she can’t understand yours. Your mom’s in a very dark place right now and she needs to be around the people who can help her begin to heal. Whether you wanna admit it or not, they can help you, too.” He reached out to place a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “You guys aren’t the only ones who need that, Andy. Your dad wasn’t just a husband and father; there are people who aren’t dealing with the loss any better than you and your mom.”

“So?” The teenager’s eyes narrowed as he practically spit the next words out. “It’s his fault that my dad died! His weak ass couldn’t even hold on long enough – “

“Andy, I didn’t come here to argue with you; I’ve seen the file, I’ve read the reports, and if your dad had held on any longer he would’ve pulled Max over the edge with him.”

“Lies!” the boy shouted angrily.

Kyle sighed, knowing the boy wasn’t ready to face the truth yet. “Alright, let’s just leave that alone for now. Why don’t we try this from a different angle, hmm? You may be hurt and angry with your mom, but in spite of that, you want her to get better, don’t you?”

“She doesn’t care! Not about anything!”

“Don’t say things like that, Andy. Your mom loves you and she cares about what happens to you; why do you think she pesters the cops when you’ve been gone for a couple of hours and she can’t find you? You say you don’t wanna go back to Roswell… is that because you don’t wanna deal with seein’ your uncle?”

“I’m not stupid, y’know. They train you guys to get in people’s heads and I’m not fallin’ for it.”

Kyle couldn’t help the grin at the boy’s suspicious tone. “Not denyin’ that, but that really has nothin’ to do with why I’m here.”

“You’re here ‘cause you wanna talk Mom into goin’ back to Roswell.”

“She needs to be around family and friends, Andy, and regardless of how much you may deny it, you need the same thing. Your mom’s the kinda person who needs that connection, more now than ever before. You’ve seen the way she’s pulled away from everyone since your dad died; she closed herself off, she’s there but she’s not… trust your family to be able to reach her. We can help both of you if you’ll just let us.”

“She’s talked about goin’ home recently. Not for a visit, but actually movin’ back there.”

“And that’s one of the things you’ve argued about, right? You don’t wanna leave what you know, the friends who’ve been there for you when your mom’s been so lost, or the place where you last saw your dad. Those are all good reasons, but you’re not lettin’ your dad down if you leave him here and try to move forward. That’s what he would’ve wanted, Andy.” He watched the teenager, seeing the struggle between the boy he was and the man he wanted so badly to be.

“He wanted my mom to be happy, y’know? And she’s not happy… she’s sad all the time and no matter what I do I just can’t fix it.” He moved a few feet away when he felt his eyes stinging and he realized he was on the verge of embarrassing himself.

“Part of bein’ a man is accepting that you can’t fix everything by yourself, kid; there are gonna be times when you’ve gotta reach out and take help when it’s offered.” He shook his head. “That’s not bein’ weak, it’s just a matter of understanding that we all need help every now and then.”

Andy wiped his hands over his eyes before turning to look back at the man who had come looking for him on more than one occasion when he had run off. “You really think goin’ back to Roswell could help Mom?”

“Yeah, I do, and I know it’s not easy for you to even think about such a drastic change in your life right now, but your mom needs this, Andy.” The kid needed it too, but he wasn’t going to get anywhere if he used that as part of the argument.

“So, I should stop fighting her and just go along with it.”

“That’d be my advice, yeah.”

The boy drew himself up to his full height and nodded. “Alright.”

*****

Theo barked loudly and ran from the room when a car pulled up in front of the house and he looked up at his mistress when she joined him at the front door. As soon as it was opened he ran outside to greet Andy, pausing to sniff the man with the boy. He immediately recognized the man’s scent and he barked in welcome before trotting up to the house beside the teenager.

Kyle winced when the boy dodged out of the way before his mother could touch him and he saw the immediate hurt in her expression at the outright rejection. He knew she was struggling to hold it together and having a hard time with it and his heart went out to her. He walked up the front steps and stood in front of her.

“How’re you doin’, Maria?” he asked gently.

She shook her head, biting her bottom lip to keep from crying.

“C’mon, girl,” he said gruffly, pulling her into his arms, “the kid’s fine. He just needed to calm down and get his head on straight.”

“What’re you doin’ here?” she asked finally, the words mumbled against his shoulder.

“I got in earlier tonight. I took a leave of absence so I could get you and Andy back home where you belong.” He patted her back. “Mom an’ Dad really want you to come home; it’s not healthy for you to stay here, closed off from everyone who cares about you. And it’s not helpin’ that boy of yours either.” He shook his head when he saw the tears welling up in her eyes. “Hey, hey, hey,” he said softly, “I’m not placin’ any blame here. You both need somethin’ you’re not getting here and if I don’t bring you back to Roswell, our parents are gonna have my ass in a sling.” He held a hand up when she started to protest. “I’ve already straightened Andy out and he’s gonna keep his little ass in line.” He grinned. “Long enough to get him back to Roswell anyway.”

Maria leaned against Kyle, taking strength from his familiar presence. “I’m so tired, Kyle,” she whispered. “Tired of all the fighting, tired of forcing myself to get out of bed every morning…”

“C’mon, girl, we’re gonna get you past this.” He walked her inside and closed the door. “Why don’t I go scrounge somethin’ up for dinner while you keep me company and after Andy goes to bed we can figure out the details and call our parents to let them know you’re comin’ home?”

She nodded, happy to let him handle things and figure out the details. She just wanted to curl up in a little ball somewhere and never come out again. Even though she knew she needed to find a way to deal with this, to begin moving past it, she just couldn’t seem to get up the energy to do it.

Kyle sat her down at the kitchen table and started digging through the cabinets. He wasn’t exactly a master chef, but even he could make a decent meal when it was necessary. He had been 12 years old when his father and Maria’s mother had gotten married and even though he had only been around during the summers until he had turned 16 he and Maria were close. At first they had bonded to protest their parents’ engagement, but as time had passed and they had accepted the relationship their bond had shifted and become more like that of siblings.

He had been out to visit every chance available since her husband’s death and he shared their parents’ concern that she wasn’t in an environment that was conducive to healing and during their last conversation a few nights before he had promised to do what he could to convince her to come home. Their mother, Amy, had been certain that Maria wanted to come home, but the fear that it was only going to further alienate Andy was preventing her from making the decision. Well, that was one problem down, he thought. Two, if he counted her consent to return home with him.

It was a victory whatever way he looked at it and he simply accepted it for what it was and continued with his preparations for dinner.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult)Part 5 - 11/29/09

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:46 am

Earth2Mama: Andrew was Tess and Max’ brother. Michael isn’t related to them.

Neither of them have dealt with the loss, but being around family will help them to deal with their loss.

Nope, kids are rarely as clueless about what’s going on around them as people think they are – especially in their own homes.

begonia9508: Nope, Michael hasn’t been introduced yet.

Andy is having a hard time, but things will slowly start to get better.

keepsmiling7: Thanks for reading!

mary mary: Thanks for reading!

Alien_Friend: Look for them to get home in this next part! Yes, we’re finally getting into that new territory!

Max and Liz have done well raising their children and the values they’ve instilled in them will help them to weather the storms ahead.

sarammlover: Well, soon enough our comedy relief will be appearing in scenes together.

Maiqu: Well, ya untangled that web pretty thoroughly, lol!

They will get through this, promise.

Hmm… why don’t we introduce you to Michael here in this next part?

Eva: Somehow we just knew you had pegged Maria as Mrs. Evans – you were just keepin’ those cards close to your vest!

Every good story needs a white knight.

carolina_moon: Thanks! We update every Sunday!


Part 5

Amy DeLuca-Valenti ran out of the kitchen the moment she heard her husband call out. She had been waiting impatiently for more than a week for her children to return home with her grandson and she had been certain that the phone would ring at any moment and that Maria would tell her she had changed her mind.

Jim was waiting for her at the front door and he held it open, letting her rush past him before following her outside at a more sedate pace. Even though he was more physically fit than most men his age, a by-product of his years as the sheriff of Roswell, he saw no reason to rush unless it was absolutely necessary.

The sun was shining brightly and the temperature was comfortably warm as she met her stepson’s hazel gaze over the top of the car. He shook his head slightly and she nodded in understanding. It had been about a month since she had last visited Maria and despite her offers to stay in Miami her daughter had insisted that she go back home. They had kept in contact through phone calls and emails and she had known that Maria wasn’t doing any better than she had been since her husband’s death.

Kyle knocked on the back window. “C’mon, knucklehead, get outta the car and gimme a hand.” He hugged his stepmom and dad when they joined him at the back of the car. “He’s not happy about the move and he’s barely said a word to Maria the past few days.”

Amy walked around the car when her daughter finally opened the passengers’ side door and stepped out. She could see the exhaustion and stress in the weary slump of the younger woman’s shoulders and she quickly enveloped her in a warm embrace.

“I’m so glad you came home, sweetie.”

Maria nodded, unable to speak because her throat felt so tight. She buried her face against her mother’s shoulder and inhaled her familiar, comforting scent.

“How’s my little girl doin’?” Jim asked as he wrapped his arms around his wife and daughter. He could feel her trembling and he knew she was doing everything possible to keep from falling apart. “Why don’t I take Andy and go get dinner while Kyle takes everything inside and your mom gets you settled in?”

Maria was silent as she opened the back door and reached for Theo’s leash and the dog jumped down and walked beside her obediently. She was barely aware of her mother talking as they went into the house she had grown up in. As soon as they reached her old bedroom she unsnapped the lead from Theo’s collar and collapsed on her bed.

Amy watched her daughter, worried when she could see very little life in the deep green eyes as they stared at the far wall. The dog stretched out on the floor next to the bed and she knew he wouldn’t leave Maria’s side. She had her work cut out for her and she was going to have to talk to her husband when everyone settled down for the night because they needed a strategy.

*****

Isabel Russell brushed her long blond hair back over her shoulder and rested one elbow on her desk as she took a deep breath. She had been the principal of West Roswell High for several years and some days she had to wonder why she hadn’t gone into something simpler and less stressful. She rubbed her forehead tiredly, wishing that she could shake the headache that was only getting worse the longer she stared at the file in front of her.

“That’s not the look of a happy principal.”

She looked up at the growled comment and a brief smile crossed her features when she recognized her visitor. Michael Guerin was a little over six feet tall with shaggy, light brown hair and dark brown eyes set in a rugged, attractive face. They had met in college and become friends through their mutual interest in helping kids. When a spot had come open on her staff at the end of the previous school year she had given him a call to see if he was interested.

“It’s a little bit late for guidance counselors to be out, isn’t it?”

“No later than it is for high school principals,” he countered.

She motioned to the bags of Chinese food he was holding in his right hand. “You can’t come in here with food after hours. It doesn’t look right.”

He pushed things back on one corner of her desk and set the bags down. He pulled the cartons out and took one, leaning back and slouching down as he lifted his right leg to rest his ankle on his left knee. “The hell with that, Iz, you need to eat just like anyone else,” he muttered as he dug into his fried rice.

“Why don’t you ever get anything healthy?”

He rolled his eyes at her complaint. “You like the teriyaki beef from Senor Chow’s, so quit makin’ so much noise and eat.” He motioned at her figure with his chopsticks. “It’s not like you’re gonna suddenly add fifty pounds if you eat somethin’ you like once in a while.” He leaned forward and snatched the folder she had been staring at when he had come in and he resumed his position as he flipped it open. “What’ve we got here?”

“15-year-old with a behavior problem,” she answered with a sigh.

“New student?”

Potential new student,” she corrected. “He’s high-risk, Michael; we’re barely more than a month into the new school year and this kid’s already been suspended from school for hitting a monitor during a fight with another student.” She rolled her eyes and took a bite of food, chewing slowly as she thought. “He’s trouble and his mother was called to the school ten times, and that’s just since the beginning of this school year.”

“Well,” he mumbled around a mouthful of food, “you’re lookin’ at some pretty serious underlying issues here and anger is definitely a factor.” He flipped a page over and glanced over the kid’s transcripts. “He’s smart though; even with the trouble he was getting into his grades are in the top five percent for his class.”

“But we’re potentially putting our students at risk by allowing him to enroll here.”

Michael chewed on the end of his chopsticks as he stared at the small photograph stapled to the inside cover. “Give him to me.”

“What?”

“Assign him to me, Iz.”

“The new kids normally – “

“There’s nothin’ normal about this kid. He’s angry, hurt, and right now he feels like there isn’t anyone in the world who understands him.”

Isabel shook her head when she realized where he was going with his request. “Michael, I’m not sure you’d be the right counselor for the Evans kid.”

“Iz, listen to me,” he said as he sat up and met her gaze, dark eyes intense. “This kid needs to be handled by someone who understands what he’s goin’ through; I’m the only counselor you have on staff who will be able to reach him from that angle.”

“It’d be too easy for you to get attached to this kid.” She knew enough of his history to know that he would see himself in the teenager.

“What’s wrong with getting attached to these kids? Didn’t we choose the careers we’re in to help kids? What’s the point if we turn out backs on them just because we might get too involved or even attached?”

She sighed and took another bite of rice. “Alright, but if he decides to hit someone it had better be you.”

Michael grinned and slouched down again as he lost himself in the information compiled in the folder. This kid could’ve been him twenty years ago, but at least Andy still had one parent living that he couldn’t or wouldn’t connect with. He could help the kid, he was sure of it.

*****

Amy pushed the cart through the grocery store, navigating the aisles with practiced ease. She had insisted on Maria and Andy joining her since Jim had taken Kyle to work with him and she didn’t want them sitting at home alone. It had only been a couple of days since Kyle had brought them home and it was impossible to overlook just how much the two of them were hurting.

She rolled her eyes and reached for the box of snack cakes that her grandson had just tossed into the cart, putting them back on the shelf and shaking her head at him when he just looked at her.

“You don’t need a bunch of junk food.”

She sighed when Andy just glared at her and then stalked ahead of them. Defiant teenagers were one thing and it was obvious that he was doing his best to antagonize a response out of his mother, but so far it hadn’t worked. She wasn’t sure how to help them and her husband kept telling her to be patient, but patience was not one of her strong points, especially when it involved her family.

“So, Maria, have you heard back from the school yet?”

Maria nodded absently. “Yeah, the principal called and said that she had decided to allow Andy to enroll with the stipulation that he would agree to meet with one of their guidance counselors on a regular basis.” She sighed and shook her head. “As you can imagine, he isn’t happy about that. He’s refusing to cooperate and...” Her voice cracked and she paused, swallowing hard to regain control. “I don’t know what to do with him, Mom.”

“Do you know which counselor she wants him to see?”

“No, I don’t think she gave me a name, but it won’t matter if he won’t deal with them.” She rubbed her temple. “I have a meeting with the principal on Monday morning to go over some things, enroll him in school, and I’m sure she’ll take that opportunity to tell me how she won’t tolerate any trouble from my son. She came across as very strict and I don’t think it’s gonna take long before Andy makes her reconsider her decision to allow him to enroll.”

“Maria, you can’t think like that,” Amy chastised gently. “Andy’s in a new environment; it’s gonna take time for him to settle in here, but you have help now.”

Maria nodded. “I just... I wish I knew how to reach him.”

“Maria?” a surprised voice spoke up from behind them.

They turned around and Maria hesitated when she saw her sister-in-law standing there. “Liz... um, hi.” There was a time when she wouldn’t have thought twice about her welcome where Liz was concerned. They had been best friends in high school, drifting apart when she had married and moved away. They had gotten their friendship back on track after a while, but things had been strained after Andrew’s death. Liz had married his younger brother and Max hadn’t dealt with the loss any better than she herself had so it had created a rift between all of them as they tried to deal with the loss by pulling apart instead of coming together.

She forced a smile and glanced around as she looked for Max or any of the kids. “You’re here alone?”

Liz’ smile faded as she remembered the little fight with Max before she had left to pick up some things for dinner. She had just asked him if he wanted anything special for dinner and his reaction had been offensive as usual lately. Like thinking about dinner was too much to ask, she thought bitterly. “I’m alone.”

“How’s everyone?” Maria bit her lip as she heard the undertone of... was it anger? in Liz’ words.

Amy glanced between the two girls... women, really, she mused, but to her they would always be girls. She could see that both of them were hurting and having a hard time with the hand that life had dealt them.

Liz shook her head sadly. “Not so good to be honest.” Maybe they hadn’t been real friends lately, but Maria would know for sure that she was lying if she told her that everything was fine.

Maria swallowed hard and nodded. “Yeah, things are difficult all around here lately.”

“How long will you be in Roswell?”

“We’re moving back. My brother came to visit and bullied me into making the decision.”

Liz’ face brightened up a little when she heard that. “Really?”

“Yeah. I’d been thinking about it, but...” She ran her hand over the side of the cart nervously. “I know it hasn’t been easy for Max and Andy’s been difficult... I wasn’t sure if it was the right decision or not.”

Liz shrugged. “Speaking for myself, I could definitely use an old friend here.”

“Really?” Maria could hear the insecurity in her own voice and it annoyed her. “That makes two of us.”

“Cool.” Liz sighed, relieved, and finally moved to hug her friend. “I’ve missed you,” she told Maria quietly.

“I’ve missed you too, girl.” Maria sighed and smiled sadly. “It seems like it’s been so long.”

“Mom,” Andy groaned impatiently, gesturing for her to hurry.

“Andy, come over here and say hello to your aunt,” Maria insisted.

“Hello,” he said nonchalantly, but stayed where he was.

“Sorry,” Maria apologized. “He’s going through a phase that just won’t stop.”

“Don’t worry,” Liz assured her, “I understand.”

Andy rolled his eyes and wandered off again.

“Okay,” Maria sighed, “I’d better go now.”

“Wait, Maria, before you go...”

“Yes?” She turned around again.

“Would you let me throw you a welcome home party? Ya know a barbeque over at the house? Nothin’ big, just the family, maybe a couple of friends if they’re free on such short notice?” She continued when Maria remained silent. “C’mon, Maria, I could really use the distraction.”

Maria thought about it for a while and finally shrugged. “Okay, but let’s just keep it simple. Just family.”

Liz nodded and gave her friend a small smile. “These days simple’s about all I can deal with.”

“Alright, let me know if ya need any help, okay? I could use some distraction as well.”

“Okay, great, I’ll call ya. I’m really glad you’re home, Maria.”

“Yeah, me too,” she admitted quietly.

Amy watched her daughter as they resumed shopping and she had to admit she had been relieved to see a spark of life in Maria while she and Liz had been talking.

*****

Max was sitting in the driveway working on the lawn mower when Liz pulled in and parked behind his truck. He had torn the engine apart several weeks before when it wouldn’t start and now the yard was overgrown and she had gotten on his ass about it just that morning.

The twins had made themselves scarce as soon as yard work had been mentioned and Kara was sitting beside him, happily handing him tools and listening to him mutter about the thing not working no matter what he had tried so far.

He barely glanced up when Kara scrambled to her feet and ran down the driveway to greet her mother.

“Hey, honey.” Liz set the grocery sacks down to lift her daughter up in her arms. “Are you helping Daddy?”

Kara nodded enthusiastically and held up her hands, revealing grease-smeared palms.

“Uh-huh, you’d better not touch me then.” She kissed the little girl’s cheek and placed her down on the ground again.

Max looked up when Kara ran past him carrying a couple of the grocery sacks and he glanced at his wife when she walked towards him, several sacks in her hands and her gaze moving over the still uncut yard.

“No, I haven’t gotten to it yet,” he muttered before she had the chance to comment about the state of the yard.

Yeah, as usual, she thought but bit her inner cheek. “I ran into Maria at the store. She and Andy are moving back to Roswell.”

Max dropped the wrench he had been using and he looked up to meet her gaze. “What? Why?” He sighed. That hadn’t come out the way he had meant it, he thought.

“Because she needs her family, Max, that’s why!”

“I just meant that...” He ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “Andy doesn’t want anything to do with me, Liz.” He shrugged. “Nevermind, we might not even run into each other.”

She snorted. “Roswell is not that big, Max. Besides that, they’re family and I decided to throw a little welcome home party for her and Andy.”

“You did what? Without even talkin’ to me about it first?”

“Max, every time I’ve tried to talk to you over the last couple of months all I get are the same answers… and I’m sick of hearing ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t feel like it’ from you.”

“Yeah? Well, I can tell you that I sure as hell would’ve given you a different answer for this. We’re not havin’ a party here.”

“Why? Because you want to avoid your sister-in-law and nephew for the rest of your life so you don’t have to deal with them?”

He got to his feet and faced his wife directly. “No, Liz, because the kid doesn’t want anything to do with me! Because when he looks at me all he sees...” He nearly choked. “He doesn’t need to be forced to be around me... neither of them needs that.” He hadn’t told her that the last time he had been to visit Maria and Andy in Miami that the kid had been openly hostile and accused him of letting his father die.

Liz felt a big lump in her throat and she reached out to touch the side of her husband’s neck. “Max, we won’t force Andy to come here.”

He reached up to cover her hand, holding it against his neck as he reveled in the small comfort. “He won’t come here of his own free will, Liz.”

“He’s just hurting, Max. He misses his father and he’s lookin’ for someone to blame. I’m sure Andy knows that you’re not responsible for Andrew’s death; he just doesn’t want to hear it right now.”

“You have no idea what you’re talkin’ about,” he said as he dropped her hand and moved back away from her. “I need to finish workin’ on this.”

Liz stared at him in shock for several seconds before she pulled herself together again. She should be used to his withdrawn behavior by now. “Yeah, whatever.” She turned to walk into the house. “We’re having the party tomorrow night. So you can either take part in it or you can just stay at work.”

Max felt his hand tighten around the wrench in his hand and after a moment his temper boiled over and he threw the tool towards the garage. He swore under his breath as he turned and he froze when he saw the twins standing at the end of the house watching him.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

User avatar
Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult)Part 6 - 12/6/09

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:50 am

begonia9508: Their friendship is important and it’s something they both need, especially now.

We’ll see if Max decides to stay at work…

Eva: Andy probably won’t be too happy when things begin to go in that direction for his mom, but we’ll see how he deals with it.

You’re right, these girls need each other!

Alien_Friend: We’re glad you enjoyed that! Michael’s gonna be a good influence in Andy’s life. Well… eventually.

Poor Maria, she has a lot to deal with. Although, so does her good friend and sister-in-law, Liz. Having each other for support will be good for them.

You guess correctly.

We’ll be seeing that get-together soon.

Tess’ entrance… watch for her to make her appearance soon!

mary mary: Definitely not an easy thing to deal with, and it doesn’t help that Andy doesn’t really want to deal with it either.

Kara is a cutie. We’ll be seeing more of her in this next part.

Earth2Mama: Feel free to do so, he could use it! Maria has a tough road ahead of her, but she knows she has to do something to get back on track and to reach her son. Michael will definitely be a part of that process!

April: LOL, well, as long as you mean it in the best way possible! Make sure you get some rest because there’s a lot of rough territory to cover!

sarammlover: Aww, we’re sorry! Max and Liz will go back and forth for a while, but as you said, they’re in a rut and that’s gonna take time to get out of. We’re glad you’re likin’ the direction though!

POM: We’re very sorry to hear about your loss. It’s a difficult topic to write and at times it’s nearly impossible because it is a painful subject.

Unfortunately, Max hasn’t been able to see past his own pain just yet, but he has a wife and a family that loves him, so he’ll get there.

kismet: You’re right on target! But with time and a few important events along the way Max will begin to open up and heal, which will allow him to move on.

killjoy: Thanks!

It will happen in time.

Oh, you can look for Tess to enter the picture soon. And unfortunately those hopes are going to be dashed, lol! Look for the fireworks to begin immediately with those two!

Maiqu: Oh my, you are good, aren’t you? Michael will find a way to reach Andy.

Max… well, it’s gonna take some time, but we’re workin’ on him!

Liz and Maria are gonna need each other, so that reconnection was important!


Part 6

Justin and Nick exchanged a glance before nodding and splitting up. Nick left his brother outside with their father and he loped across the yard, taking the porch steps two at a time and going inside to find their mother. Instead he found his little sister and his eyebrows lifted in interest when he saw the groceries sitting on the table.

Kara had climbed up on one of the kitchen chairs so she could empty the sacks and set everything out on the table. She smiled up at Nick when he ruffled her hair as he passed her.

“Where’s Mom, squirt?”

“She be back soon.”

“Okay. You need some help?”

She nodded and pointed at the pile she was making, sorting everything into groups.

“Oh, you want me to do the heavy lifting,” he teased as he grabbed an armful of boxes and carried them over to the pantry. He smiled when she just chuckled quietly but otherwise remained silent.

Their parents had adopted Kara when she was two years old and she had always been very quiet. She had been neglected by her biological parents and her learning had been severely impaired for a child her age when she had come to live with them. It had taken a long time for her to start coming out of her shell and even now that she had adjusted to being part of the family she was still quiet most of the time.

He turned around when he heard his mother humming as she entered the room and he grinned when she saw him putting things away and suddenly fell silent. “What? I do stuff.”

“Uh-huh,” Liz said, shaking her head. “Not unless you’ve been threatened or you want something.”

Nick rolled his eyes. “Well, you’re wrong.”

“Um-hmm.” Liz hid a smile and reached for a frying pan so that she could get dinner started. She didn’t know what Nick was trying to get her to let him do, but he’d eventually give himself away. “Do you have a lot of homework tonight?”

“Nope,” he answered simply.

She unwrapped a package of hamburger and placed it in the pan, leaving it to cook while she filled a large pot with water. Nick was usually a much easier read than Justin, but he was getting better at keeping his expressions neutral. “You’ll never guess who I ran into at the store.”

Nick turned around to look into his mother’s face. Whoever it had been, it obviously made her smile. A rare sight lately. “Who?”

“Maria and Andy. They’re moving back here. I thought we’d have a little welcome home party tomorrow evening.”

“Oh, wow. I can honestly say I wasn’t expectin’ that,” Nick admitted. He hadn’t seen his aunt or his cousin since his uncle’s funeral and he wasn’t sure how to feel about it.

Liz smiled and set the pot of water on the stove to heat before moving to the refrigerator to pull out an assortment of fresh vegetables. “Well, it was a surprise, but a nice one for a change. So, I want you and Justin to make sure you come home right after school tomorrow so you can give your dad a hand getting everything set up in the backyard.” She refused to consider the possibility that Max would choose to stay at work just to avoid a family get-together.

Nick snorted. “You mean you want Justin and me to set up the backyard while Dad does whatever he does lately.”

Her smile faded and she blinked back the tears that quickly rose to the surface at the reminder that no matter how well they thought they were hiding it, their children knew something was wrong. She was glad she was facing away from her son as she washed the vegetables in the sink and she tried to pull herself together before answering him.

“Nick, your dad’s just going through some things right now.”

“Uncle Andrew’s been dead for half a year now, Mom. I understand that it’s a big loss for all of us and especially for Dad, but are things ever gonna be normal again?”

Liz took a deep breath as she turned to look at her youngest son. “People grieve in different ways, Nicky; they experience loss at different levels and no one deals with it in any one single way. But, you have to believe that things will get normal again.” Anything less was unacceptable and she wouldn’t even consider it. “Things will get better, honey.” She choked before she could finish the sentence, knowing that she was in no position to make promises right now.

Nick placed everything he was holding on the counter and hurried to hug his mom. He didn’t know what to say or do, but she looked so sad and she sounded like she was going to cry.

Liz had to fight back the tears again when her son took her in his arms, touched by the gesture. He was gentle and caring, but he was still a teenager stuck in that awkward stage between being a boy and a man and hugs weren’t given as often as they had been when the twins had been younger.

She leaned back and looked at him as she reached up to pat his cheek. “You just make sure you and Justin are home in time to help get everything set up, okay?”

Nick nodded, swallowing hard when he saw the tears glistening in her eyes. “Okay, Mom.” He turned to his little sister. “Hey, whaddaya say? Wanna go outside again and play some basketball?”

“Okay.” She took his hand when he held it out to her and he waited for her to jump down to the floor before he started walking to the back door. “You can be on my team this time since Justin picked you last time.”

“Daddy play too?” she asked, looking up at him.

Nick tried to force a smile. “I think he’s too busy right now, squirt.”

“Uh-uh,” she denied adamantly. “Not for me.”

Liz watched them walk outside, playfully arguing over nothing and a few minutes later she could hear the basketball bouncing against the sidewalk as the kids walked around to the driveway. She wanted so badly for everything to go back to normal but she didn’t know if it was possible.

*****

Justin looked down at the dog walking beside him, leaning over to scratch the floppy ears before he took the necessary steps to join his father. “What’s up, Dad?”

“Not much.” He leaned over to pick up the tool he had just thrown. “Where’ve you two been?”

“Nick and I were just comin’ back from the park.”

“Where’s Lucky’s leash?” Max asked when he noticed that the dog didn’t have a leash attached to his collar.

“Well… he doesn’t really need a leash.”

“We do not need another citation for Lucky getting away from you and chasin’ after the neighbors’ pets.”

Justin sighed and pulled the leash out of his jacket pocket, snapping the hook on the Yellow Labrador’s collar. “He’s never hurt any of them; he just chases ‘em.”

“No, but the neighbors consider him a nuisance and your mom and I would appreciate it if we could avoid anymore of the calls or citations that we get after he’s treed one of the neighbor’s cats or stood up on Mrs. Barrows’ back gate so he can bark at her rabbits.”

“What’s wrong with the mower?” Justin asked as he crouched down next to his dad.

Max jerked the pulley and grinned when the motor kicked to life. He released the lever and let the engine fall silent once more. “Nothin’ now; I don’t suppose you an’ your brother feel like mowin’ the grass?”

Justin made a face. “Can’t we just get a couple of goats?”

“As I recall your mom didn’t care for that suggestion the first time you made it. And even if she were to agree they wouldn’t be fast enough to get the yard ready for tomorrow evening.”

“What’s goin’ on tomorrow night?”

“Your aunt and cousin are in town and Mom wants to invite them over, have a barbeque…” He glanced up when the screen door slammed shut with a loud bang and a few seconds later Kara plastered herself against his back and her little arms came around his neck, hugging him tightly.

“Play ball, Daddy?”

“Daddy really needs to get to work on the yard, baby.”

“Aw, c’mon, Dad, shoot some hoops with us,” Justin said as he stood up again. “Me an’ Nick can give ya a hand as soon as we get home from school; we’ll rake the yard an’ Kara can keep us hydrated.”

Kara wrinkled her nose as she looked at her brother. “What’s that, Daddy?”

“It just means you can bring the boys water.”

“An’ you play ball wif us now?” She nodded enthusiastically when he gave an affirmative response. “’Kay, I do that.”

From the window in the dining room Liz watched the kids as they tried to talk Max into playing with them. She knew the exact moment he gave in to their request and her heart ached when she saw the grin on his face. It had become a rare sight and even after so many years together it still took her breath away when she saw it. She couldn’t take her eyes away from him as he got up and stretched, the movement dragging his tee shirt up to reveal a strip of tanned skin. He lowered his arms after a few moments, sending Justin to turn the dog loose in the backyard and motioning for Nick to put the lawn mower away.

It didn’t seem possible to miss someone you lived with, but she felt like they were so far apart that they had become virtual strangers. She knew he was dealing with his brother’s death, or at least trying to, but it was the first time something had come between them and threatened the bond that they had shared from the very beginning. They had always been able to go to each other with everything no matter how big or small, but for whatever reason he had withdrawn after Andrew’s death and she couldn’t figure out if he was protecting himself or her by refusing to talk about what had happened.

Max had always been a good father and he still was, there wasn’t the slightest hint of doubt in her mind about that, but lately he had started to be absent on occasion when it came to things like helping with homework and attending games. A ghost of a smile settled over her features when the sound of the basketball bouncing caught her attention and she stood there for several minutes watching her family as they played together.

*****

Amy smacked her husband’s hand when he reached around her to steal a snack before dinner and he immediately pulled his wounded limb back. “No snacking before dinner, mister.” She turned and gave him a small kiss before handing him a stack of plates. “Give these to Andy and have him set the table.”

Jim rolled his eyes and went to do her bidding. He returned a few minutes later, shaking his head and leaning up against the center island. “He wasn’t thrilled with that.”

“I wasn’t suggesting that he set the table so he could enjoy himself. He needs to settle into a routine.”

Jim nodded and poured himself a cup of coffee. He tended to defer to his wife when it came to household chores and how the kids were involved in them and he had learned over the years that it was just better and smarter that way. And there was also that little side benefit of getting out of doing the chores himself, he thought.

“So, I talked to Kyle while he was riding around with me and experiencing small town police patrolling… he’s taken an open-ended leave of absence from the Bureau, so he’s gonna be around for a while, too.”

Amy smiled. “It’s nice to have the house full again, isn’t it?”

“Would’ve been nicer if you an’ Maria hadn’t used up all the hot water between the two of you this mornin’,” he grumbled, but smiled to let her know he was just teasing. “How’s she really doin’?” he asked, his tone serious.

Amy sighed. “I’ve never seen her like this before, Jim. She’s so hurt and I don’t know how to reach her.” She turned to meet her husband’s gaze. “And there’s still this thing between us, ya know? Like she thinks I’m still against her marriage to Andrew or something.”

Jim set his mug down and moved to take her in his arms. Amy hadn’t approved of the relationship between Maria and Andrew at the beginning; she had been concerned because her daughter was several years younger than the man she had fallen in love with. She had been certain that at 17 Maria hadn’t been ready to be in such a committed relationship, but nothing she had said had swayed the girl from the 21-year-old man who had stolen her heart.

When the relationship had withstood time and distance Amy had been forced to accept that it wasn’t going to end simply because she didn’t think it was the best choice. But she hadn’t been happy when Maria had gotten pregnant early in college and there had been a lot of arguments between mother and daughter when the couple had decided to move to Miami. It had taken a while for the two women in his life to make peace and his grandson’s birth had helped it along in a big way.

Amy hugged her husband back. “I know I didn’t approve of her relationship in the beginning, but I never would’ve wished for her to lose him like that.”

“Hell, Amy, she knows that. I can’t imagine that a thought like that ever even entered her head.”

“I wish I could do something to make her feel better, Jim.”

“Just bein’ there for her an’ Andy is probably the best thing any of us can do right now.” He knew she felt the need to fix things for Maria very strongly and he also knew that it was an unrealistic expectation.

Amy straightened up again and brushed away a single tear. “Yeah, you’re right.”

“Hey, listen to me... we’re gonna get through this, okay? And more importantly, we’re gonna get them through this.”

Amy nodded and felt better after her husband’s confident words. “Okay.”

“Hey, Mom, you need any help in here?” Kyle asked as he stuck his head through the doorway. He was hungry and ready to chow down so if there was anything he could do to move things along then he was willing to pitch in and help.

“You can go upstairs and get Maria; dinner’s almost ready.”

“Well, is it gonna be a while? ‘Cause I can just grab a sandwich first.”

Amy rolled her eyes at him. “Kyle, go get Maria.”

“So... no sandwich?”

“No sandwich,” Amy said, glaring at him.

Kyle held his hands up when she shot the ‘Mom look’ at him. He knew better than to argue with that look! He hurried out of the room and headed for the stairs so he could get his sister and hopefully hurry her along so he... they, he meant they, could eat.

*****

Liz looked up from setting the table when the back door opened and the kids stampeded into the house, making more noise than necessary as they talked over each other in an effort to be heard. Max came in behind them and sent them all out of the room to clean up for dinner and he turned around when the door that he hadn’t quite shut yet was pushed open and Lucky barged inside.

“Ah, damn it!” he yelled when the dog immediately spotted the tabby cat stretched out on the floor across the room and barked. “No, Lucky!” He made a grab for the dog’s collar when he darted after the cat, missing it and nearly falling on his face before he caught the edge of the island to pull himself back up.

The cat that the twins had found abandoned in a busy parking lot scrambled to his feet and took off running with the dog mere inches behind him. The cat had been named Ariel because Kara had insisted on the name despite the fact that the kitten was a male, so they had shortened his name to Ari to limit his humiliation.

“I’ll get him,” Max said and took up the chase before the animals could tear the house apart. He lucked out when Ari jumped up on the mantle above the fireplace and walked back and forth, hissing on occasion when Lucky would jump up on his hind legs and bark. He rolled his eyes when the cat settled at one end, lying there with the front of his paws hanging over the edge as he stared at the dog with a look of disdain on his features.

Max grabbed the dog’s collar and pulled him away from the cat, shooing him out of the room and following him back into the kitchen. “I swear, that damn cat taunts him.”

“What, when he’s safely out of reach?” Liz asked as she reached for the salad and put it on the table.

“Yeah.” He walked over to the sink and washed his hands before turning to look at her. “You need help with anything?”

Liz paused in front of him as she shook her head. “No, I’ve got dinner under control.” She wrinkled her nose as she reached out and tugged on his shirttail. “Besides, you need to get cleaned up before dinner.”

He nodded and glanced at the pots on the stove. “You makin’ spaghetti for dinner?”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t pack any for my lunch tomorrow.”

She frowned. “You always take leftover spaghetti to work for lunch.”

“I’ll heat it up when I come by early tomorrow afternoon.” He shrugged one shoulder. “Instead of mowin’ the lawn I was playin’ ball with the kids, so I’ll come by and mow the yard tomorrow. The boys will get it raked after school that way it’ll be ready for tomorrow evening.” He shook his head when he saw the hopeful expression on her face. “I’m not sayin’ I’m gonna be here for the party, but I’ll do my part to get things ready.” He raised his right hand to cradle her cheek, brushing his thumb over her soft skin. His heart skipped a few beats when she leaned into his touch and she shifted to lean against him.

“I want you to be there, Max.”

“We’ll see.”

“I wish you’d talk to me… let me in like you used to.”

He lowered his head and kissed her before easing away from her. “I’ve gotta get cleaned up for dinner. I’ll check on the kids and try to move them along.”

Liz sighed when he hurried out of the room, once again avoiding the issue.

*****

Maria glanced up from the book she was reading while she lay on her old bed when she heard the floorboards in the hall creak. Her bedroom hadn’t changed since she had moved out and left Roswell and it was a small comfort. Someone knocked on her door and she wasn’t sure if she really wanted to see anyone right now. She shook her head at that thought. It could be Andy. “Come in.”

Kyle opened the door and leaned against the frame as he crossed his arms over his chest. “Time for dinner, Sis, so get a move on.”

“I’m not very hungry,” she said, trying to excuse herself from the meal. Sitting at the table with all of them was kind of a scary thought. She knew they all just wanted to help her, but it just felt like too much right now.

He walked around her bed and grabbed the book, tossing it aside and taking her hand so he could pull her to her feet. “But, I am and you do know it’s all about me, right?” he teased.

She ignored him intentionally. “Where’s Andy?”

“That little rascal is settin’ the dinner table and quietly bitchin’ about it because he knows if Mom catches him he’s in trouble.”

Maria smiled a little. Yeah, that sounded like her son.

“So, you settling in okay?”

She nodded. “Let’s go.”

Um-hmm, translation: I don’t wanna talk about it, Kyle thought as he followed her back downstairs.

The table was set and Andy, Amy and Jim had already taken their seats when they came down again. Kyle made himself sit down first before reaching for the roast. He knew if he dared to grab it before sitting down he would be told to wait while everyone else was served first.

Amy shook her head as she watched Kyle. “A stranger would think you haven’t eaten anything in weeks.”

“I feel like I haven’t eaten anything in weeks,” he said and grinned at her. “I usually eat out and y’know nobody cooks like you do.”

Maria rolled her eyes at his praise. “You’re such an ass-kisser,” she hissed.

Kyle just shrugged. “It’s the truth.”

“That you’re an ass-kisser? I know.” She grinned when he scowled at her. “You’re a momma’s boy, too.” She elbowed him to get to the mashed potatoes first, feeling like a teenager without a care in the world for just a brief moment.

Amy smiled at them. Just like the good old days, she thought sadly.

Jim watched them, enjoying the light-hearted moment, and he glanced at his grandson to see how he was dealing with it. Andy was eating quietly, ignoring what was going on around him. “Tomorrow’s Friday,” he said after a few minutes. “We should go out, do something as a family.”

“Well,” Maria started, “we ran into Liz earlier at the grocery store and she invited us over to her house tomorrow.”

Andy snorted and shook his head. “Count me out.”

“Andy...” she started, but didn’t really know to continue.

“No, why should I go over there and hang out with him? I’m not gonna do it.”

Amy shook her head at her grandson, her expression one of warning. “You do not take that tone with your mother in this house, do you understand?”

“Whatever,” he mumbled and let his fork drop to his plate.

Maria sighed. She knew she had to get control of the situation before it escalated; but she had let it go for too long and now it just felt like she and Andy were never going to get back on-track. “We’re going tomorrow night and I expect you to behave. You’re gonna treat your family with respect.”

Andy slouched down in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest as he stared at her defiantly. “Why can’t I just stay home?”

“Because you can’t just avoid your uncle for the rest of your life, Andy.”

“Besides, your cousins will wanna see you,” Kyle said, trying to diffuse the tension between mother and son.

“And I want you to be there with me as well,” Maria added.

“Yeah, there’s a change,” he muttered and turned his head to stare at the floor.

Kyle nudged his nephew under the table and shook his head at him when he finally met his gaze. “So, I’m invited to the barbeque, too, right?” he asked. “I assume it’s a barbeque and there’ll be lots of food.”

“Sure,” Maria said quietly.

“Excellent.” He rubbed his hands together in anticipation. “So, are there any new girls in town who might just happen to be at this shindig?”

Maria rolled her eyes at his terminology. “You’ve been hangin’ around with that partner of yours too much.”

“What? I haven’t had a woman in weeks.”

“No, Kyle, just family... this is not a dating service.”

“What a shame,” Andy muttered, knowing that it would annoy his mother.

Maria bit her tongue and paused a moment before taking a deep breath. “You can either act like a civilized human being who has some manners or you can go to your room.”

“I’ll go to my room then,” Andy said and stood up.

She glanced around the table at the others when he ran from the room. “I’m sorry,” she apologized.

Kyle glanced at his food for several long seconds and sighed. “I’ll go after him.”

Maria quietly placed her fork on the edge of her plate and reached up to wipe her eyes when her brother left the room.

Amy reached across the table to squeeze her daughter’s hand. “Don’t read too much into this, sweetie. He’s just being a teenager.”

“I’ve completely lost control of him, Mom, and I don’t know how to get it back.”

“Give it some time, Maria,” Jim advised. “You’ve both been through a lot and you’re just startin’ to come back from it.”

Maria shook her head. “I feel like the worst mother ever.”

Amy made a sound of sympathy as she moved around the table to take her daughter in her arms. “I know you feel that way right now, but you’re not, honey.”

Maria couldn’t hold back any longer when her mother’s arms came around her. Strong sobs were shaking her body and she held onto the other woman tightly.

Kyle paused outside of his nephew’s bedroom and reached up to knock on the door. His knock went ignored as the radio was turned on and the music was turned up to an obnoxious level and he shook his head as he turned the doorknob. Had he been this difficult as a teenager? Damn, he hoped not! He didn’t bother adjusting the volume. Instead he just grabbed the cord and yanked it out of the outlet.

“Leave me alone,” Andy told him harshly.

“Leave you alone,” he repeated as he dropped the cord on the floor. “You wanna be treated like a man, but you’re actin’ like a spoiled little brat. Let me tell you somethin’, Andy; any man who treated your mom the way you just did would’ve been meetin’ the floor up close and personal.”

“That’s none of your business,” Andy replied. He knew that he was hurting his mother, but in a screwed up way he was just trying to get some attention from her.

“None of my business,” he mused quietly. “We’re family, Andy, and when we talked not that long ago, you agreed to stop fightin’ her every step of the way. I talked to you man to man then... you don’t want me to talk to you man to man right now.”

“I don’t want to go there, Uncle Kyle.”

He reached for the desk chair and brought it closer to the bed where the boy had taken refuge and he flipped it around, straddling it and resting his crossed arms on the back. “Why? And don’t give me a bunch of bull; talk to me like you actually care one way or the other about my opinion.”

Andy stared at the ceiling for several long seconds before glancing at Kyle. “Because I can’t look at him.”

“Because he reminds you of your father?”

The young boy shrugged. “Because of everything that’s happened.”

“You remember us talkin’ about how this family’s bigger than just you an’ your mom?” He held a hand up when the boy started to protest. “There’s been too much hurt already, Andy; I know it takes time, but someone has to be willin’ to take that first step.”

“And that has to be me? Why?”

The room was quiet for a moment and they could hear the sounds from downstairs since Kyle hadn’t closed the door fully. Andy winced when he heard the muffled sounds of crying from his mother and he had no doubt that he was the reason for it.

“Doesn’t feel too good, does it?”

Andy ignored his question and rolled over to turn his back to his uncle. “I wanna be alone.”

Kyle’s hands tightened around the back of the chair as he stared at his nephew and he stood up after a few minutes of silence. “Nobody wants to be alone, kid, but keep pushin’ people away like you are and you’re gonna find out what bein’ alone is all about.” He put the chair back under the desk and walked out of the room.

He knew it wouldn’t do any good to try and force the kid to listen to him and it wasn’t something that was going to be fixed overnight. It was going to take time and there were things that had to be dealt with before they could really start to heal, but he was confident that it would happen.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
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In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult)Part 7 - 12/14/09

Postby Double Trouble » Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:26 pm

begonia9508: It is difficult, but they are gonna get through this.

Earth2Mama: It’s not gonna be easy, but they love each other and that will work in their favor. We’ll see in this next part if Max decides to show up.

keepsmiling7: It does, but it’ll be worth it!

Maiqu: Oh, you are! We’re glad you’re enjoying those relationships!

Alien_Friend: We’re so glad to hear that!

Kyle has many layers and we’re about to add another one!

Andy is a handful, but Maria’s got a great family and friends who want to help her. She’s finally reaching a point where she’s realizing just how out of control the situation has gotten with her son.

We love writing blended families! Especially this one!

On to the Evans family… Liz has been shouldering things for so long and it’s a heavy weight for one person to carry.

The scenes with the kids and their parents are some of our favorites!

These two are so in love with each other, they’re just going through a very rough patch. But, they’re gonna come through it stronger than ever!

LOL, had to have the chase! Anyone who’s ever had a cat and dog has probably experienced that at least once or twice! We love those little details because they bring a scene to life.

kismet: Things will begin to get better.

sarammlover: Kyle is definitely an important part of the mix. Let’s just check in on that BBQ now, huh?

mary mary: Definitely a direct and to-the-point move on Uncle Kyle’s part!

We’re glad you like Kyle. And Kara, she is a sweetheart, isn’t she?


Author’s Note: Ooookay…. Here we go… Reposting again! :shock:


Part 7

Michael unlocked his front door and stepped inside the darkened foyer of the comfortable, two bedroom house he had purchased after moving to Roswell. He heard nails clicking on the kitchen floor as he flipped the light switch and he shook his head when his dog peered around the doorway before running through the hall to greet him.

“What’s up, Mojo?”

Mojo was a large, muscled Rottweiller that he had adopted from an organization that rescued the breed; the animal had been rescued from an owner who had abused him and it had taken Michael months to earn the dog’s trust. The dog was often mistaken for being intimidating but the truth was that Mojo was timid and was perfectly content to lie on the back porch and watch the squirrels rather than chase after anyone or anything.

He patted the dog’s side and smiled when the stubby tail wagged so fast that Mojo’s hindquarters swung from one side to the other. “How’s a steak bone sound for an after-dinner snack, huh? Yeah, I kinda thought that might make you happy. Dinner first though.”

After grilling a steak, baked potato, and a couple pieces of corn on the cob he sat down on the back porch and opened up the file sitting on the table. He had convinced Isabel to let Andy Evans enroll at the high school but he could see that the kid was going to be a handful. He could understand his friend’s concern because the kid had gone from model student to troublemaker in just a matter of months.

He took a bite of his steak and flipped to the next page, reading over the extensive notes written by the guidance counselor at Andy’s last school. The woman’s notes were very clinical and detached as they documented the kid’s behavior and he wondered why people like that got into career fields that dealt primarily with children.

He knew from personal experience what it was like to deal with such a devastating loss at a young age and without a guiding hand from someone who understood it was easy to make the wrong choices. He had gotten into plenty of trouble before the right person had intervened in his life and turned him in the right direction.

He was pulled out of his musings when Mojo rested his big head on his thigh and he reached down to stroke the dog’s ears. “Sorry, buddy,” he apologized. “Got busy and forgot your bone, didn’t I?” He cut the rest of the steak away and then offered the bone to Mojo. The dog wiggled around until he was under Michael’s chair with the upper half of his big body stretched out between the man’s feet.

Michael slouched down in his chair and wasn’t surprised when Mojo crawled forward to remain between his feet. He set the folder aside and stared out across the backyard as he considered the information he had been reading. He stretched his arms over his head as he felt the excitement of a new challenge; the ability to reach kids, to prevent them from ruining their lives or someone else’s, was something that was rewarding in a way that nothing else was.

*****

Max parked on the street in front of the house since the driveway was already filled with cars and he sat there for a few minutes, staring at the Florida license plates on his sister-in-law’s car. He had stayed at work late, working on... well, he hadn’t actually been working on anything other than avoiding going home.

He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he debated going back to the shop and just waiting until the party was over. Party, he thought with a frown. There was nothing about this that he wanted to be a part of, but Liz was insisting on his presence and he knew if he didn’t show up things would be decidedly arctic after it was all said and done.

He walked up to the house and around to the side, propping his arms on the fence and resting his chin on them as he watched the activity taking place in his backyard. There was a time when he would have been in the middle of the chaos, but these days he felt more like an outsider watching someone else’s life.

Liz looked happy as she laughed at something Kyle said when he took a break from chasing Kara around the yard. Even with the distance separating them he could see the strain around her eyes, the sadness that had taken up residence there as they had started to drift apart and he knew he was the reason for it.

The twins and his nephew were engaged in a football game and when they yelled for their uncle to come out and play he scooped Kara up and settled her on his shoulders before running out to join the boys.

His gaze shifted to his sister-in-law and he sighed when he saw her solemn expression as she watched her son. He wondered what had made her decide to move back home after so long. He had expected it after Andrew died, but it had been six months now and after his last visit to see her and Andy he had realized that he was more comfortable with the distance between them.

He forced a smile when Maria looked up and noticed him and a moment later Liz turned to follow her gaze and he was pretty sure he could feel the temperature drop a few degrees. He shook his head and turned to walk back to the front, entering the house and going inside to wash up. He went up to his bedroom and stripped off his work shirt as he walked into the bathroom and turned the water on in the sink. He ignored his reflection as he cleaned up and when he was finished he grabbed a towel and turned around to find his wife watching him from the doorway.

He stayed silent as he reached for the tee shirt she held out to him but he knew it wouldn’t last for long. She could hide it from most people, but he knew damn good and well when she was pissed off.

“Where have you been?” she asked, trying to keep her voice normal, but it came out sounding exactly the way she felt – angry.

“I have a business to run, Liz.” He didn’t want to do this right now, but he knew her so well and she wasn’t going to drop it.

“Yeah, funny how business has never been this busy up until a few months ago.” She shook her head and walked past him to clean the sink from the grease he had left there.

“Liz, I can’t just expect my guys to do all the work while I cut outta there early. Especially not after leavin’ them earlier today so I could come home and take care of the yard.”

“Which would not have been necessary if…” Liz sighed. “Y’know what? Nevermind. We both know that you’re not here late because of that, Max.”

“I don’t need you on my ass about this,” he snapped, irritated because she was pointing out what they both knew.

“Was it too much to ask you to be home on time? Just this one time, Max? I don’t think so.”

“What’s the big deal? Damn it, Liz, the freakin’ party’s still goin’ on and it looked to me like things were goin’ along just fine without me.”

She shook her head sadly. How had things changed so much that they weren’t even able to have a simple conversation without hurting each other anymore? “Fine.” She tossed the towel to the floor after wiping her hands on it and walked out of the bathroom. “Ya know, Max,” she paused in the doorway and turned around to look at him sadly, “I thought Maria was the only one who lost her husband after Andrew’s death, but I’m not so sure about that anymore.”

She didn’t wait for a response from him. She just turned and walked down the hallway.

Max staggered back to sit on the bed and he stared at the towel that she had thrown on the floor. Were they ever going to get back to where they were before his brother’s death? He sighed and got to his feet, heading down to join the others in the backyard.

“Hey,” Liz greeted Maria when she came back outside again. “You need anything?”

“No, but thanks.” Just watching her son relaxing and having fun with his cousins was enough for her. She glanced at her friend and frowned. “Is everything okay, Liz?”

“Yeah, of course,” she hurried to say and took a seat next to her friend.

Maria nodded and let the subject drop. She knew Liz would talk about it when she was ready. “Is Max joining us?”

Was he? Liz wasn’t sure if he was or not but before she had to come up with an answer he walked out through the back door. “Seems like he will.”

Max took a moment to take in everything that was going on around him before he moved down to join his wife and sister-in-law.

“How’s it goin’, Maria?”

“Hey, Max,” she stood up to give him a short hug. “We’re just trying to survive, ya know?” What else could she say? My life is hell and some days I wish I could just stay in bed? That just seemed like an unsuitable response.

He nodded and glanced at Liz. “I guess I’ll get started on the grill?”

Liz nodded and bit back any harsh comments. They had managed to avoid fighting in front of everybody and it should stay that way.

“Hey, Dad, c’mon out here an’ toss the ball around with us,” Justin yelled.

Max glanced at the boys and he was sure he could see panic in Andy’s eyes at his son’s request for him to join them. He shook his head slightly. “Maybe later. I’ve gotta get dinner started, Justin.”

Nick made it a point to bump his shoulder against his brother’s as he passed him to retrieve the ball. “Told you not to bother,” he muttered.

Justin glanced at his father one more time. “Yeah,” he mumbled and turned to follow his twin.

Kyle watched the exchange between the twins and he glanced at Max. He turned to look at his nephew when he realized Max was staring at the kid and he saw the openly defiant look on Andy’s face.

“Why don’t you guys carry on without me,” he said as he took a few steps back toward the house. “I think I’m gonna go see if Max needs any help.”

“I help Daddy too,” Kara insisted as she grabbed Kyle’s hand. She released him and ran up to the deck when he didn’t move fast enough to satisfy her.

Andy took the ball out of his uncle’s hands and nodded.

Kara tugged on the leg of Max’ jeans to get his attention. “I help you, Daddy.”

Kyle jogged up to the house and hopped up on the deck, leaning back against the railing and crossing his arms over his chest. “Can I give ya a hand with anything?”

“The steaks are on the counter in the kitchen, if ya wanna get them,” Max answered as he reached down to pick his daughter up. He didn’t know how to feel about Kyle’s presence. He had never really gotten to know him very well and he had a feeling that he was just there because Maria was.

“Sure.” Kyle was used to people warming up to him fairly quickly, but it looked like it might take some time with Max. He tapped the cooler on the deck with his right foot. “I brought some beer... want one?”

“Sure,” he took it out of Kyle’s hand when the other man retrieved one and held it out to him. He glanced at Kara when they were left alone and he smiled at her when she reached for the bottle he held. “None of that for you, baby girl.” He set the bottle on the railing and moved to a second cooler that Liz had put on the deck, opening it up and reaching inside for a juice box.

Kyle retrieved the steaks and came back outside to hand them over to Max. “So, you’re runnin’ things with the business now?” he asked when the other man came back to get started on the grill.

“Well, somebody has to, right?”

Okay, he thought, the guy wasn’t gonna make conversation easy. “Right.” He shrugged. “So, you a football fan?”

“Of course,” he motioned to his family, “we all are.”

“So, who’s your team?”

“Cardinals,” he answered simply.

“Perfect,” Kyle grinned. “They play my team in Week 9. The Bears don’t take prisoners.”

Max snorted and took a sip of his beer.

Maria glanced at the two men as they cooked meat over an open fire and discussed their favorite Neanderthal sport. “At least they’ve left their clubs in the cave,” she muttered, rolling her eyes.

Liz laughed at that and she sighed as she thought about how much things had changed over the past few months. She watched as Justin ran to catch the ball his cousin had thrown and he leaned on the railing near Max after throwing it back.

“Hey, Dad, you want me to take Kara?”

“No! I help Daddy!”

Max set Kara on the deck and then crouched down in front of her. “You really wanna give Daddy a hand?” He bit back a smile when she nodded solemnly. “Tell ya what, you go back out there with Justin and keep an eye on him an’ Nick while I finish getting dinner ready, okay?”

She bit her bottom lip as she considered his request.

“We can read your favorite storybook when it’s bedtime,” he offered, making the deal sweeter.

She nodded finally, giggling when he swung her up in his arms and kissed her cheek before handing her over to Justin.

“So, how long’re ya stayin’ in Roswell?” Max asked, turning back to the grill when the kids went back out into the yard.

“Indefinitely. I’m on leave from the Bureau right now. I’ll stay long enough to make sure they’re settled in well and that she can handle Andy.” He glanced at his sister and grinned when she just shook her head at him. He kept his voice low, knowing that she thought they were still discussing football. “They’re both havin’ a difficult time, but now that they’re here with family, I think it’ll start to get better.”

“You think so?” Max asked doubtfully. Being around his family wasn’t helping him at all. This place – Roswell – was full of memories of Andrew. How could that make anyone feel better?

Before Kyle could respond the family dog started barking and ran across the yard to jump up against the fence. The kids took up the chase and he wondered what all the commotion was about when the boys pushed the gate open and pulled Lucky back away from the new arrival.

His mouth dropped open when he caught sight of the blond-haired beauty being bombarded with hugs and questions.

“This evening’s just getting better and better,” Max muttered.

“Oh, man, I didn’t know your sister was gonna be here.” He glanced down at himself to make sure he looked alright and then straightened up.

“Yeah, that makes two of us.”

Kyle stared at her as she laughed and talked to all of the kids and he found his mind wandering back to high school. He had lived in Roswell for the last two years of high school and for a very few brief weeks their senior year he and Tess had dated. Until she had dumped him for doing something incredibly stupid. Damn, if only there was a way to go back and change the past, he thought.

He smiled when she glanced up, her blue eyes scanning the backyard, but it slipped when her gaze slid over him as if she hadn’t even noticed him. Which was impossible unless he’d suddenly become invisible in the last couple of minutes. He glanced down at himself and frowned. “Yo, Max, you can see me, right?”

Max slowly turned his head to look at his guest. “What?”

Kyle shook his head. “Nothin’, man.”

“Max doesn’t look happy to see Tess,” Maria observed quietly. “They’re still not getting along?”

“They haven’t even talked since the funeral,” Liz answered sadly.

“Were you expecting her?”

“No, I had no clue she was coming into town.”

“Have you kept in contact with her?”

“We’ve talked on the phone a few times.”

Maria nodded. “Same here. I think it’s been difficult for her to talk to me, but she’s been really good about keepin’ in contact with Andy.”

“Maria,” Liz glanced at the other woman unsure, “I know I haven’t really been a good friend to you lately. I should have called more, I know that...”

“Liz, you’ve had your hands full here. If I didn’t know it before I know it now.” She could tell that something wasn’t right between Max and Liz, but she didn’t want to pry. She went on before Liz could say anything or try to deny it. “I have my hands full with Andy... you’ve got three kids, a husband, and a job.” She smiled and patted her friend’s hand. “I’m here now and we’ll work on getting to know each other again.” She smiled sadly. “I think we both need that and it’s just too bad that we’ve let things slide between us.”

Liz nodded quietly and bit her lip.

Tess sent the kids back out into the yard and she walked over to join her sisters-in-law where they were sitting at one end of the deck. “Surprise,” she said softly, unsure of her welcome from the adults.

“Hey, Tess, good to see you again,” Liz said and stood up to gave her a little hug.

Tess carefully hid her surprise at the unexpected welcome. She and Liz had never really been very close because of the issues that had always existed between her and Max. “You too, Liz.”

Kyle took a deep breath as he moved away from the railing and took a few steps towards the women.

“Wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Max warned.

“What?”

“My sister and I may not be close, but even I know that she’d be happy if the earth opened up and swallowed you whole.”

“Come on,” Kyle said, “she can’t still be mad at me because of somethin’ that happened in high school.”

Max snorted. “Okay, if you just wanna humiliate yourself, go for it. Tess is very good at holdin’ grudges, but if you’re not worried about bein’ castrated in public, go ahead and take her on.”

Damn, what to do, Kyle thought, considering his next step.

“Hey, California girl,” Maria greeted the blond. They had been good friends in high school even though Tess had been a little younger than the rest of them.

“How’re things goin’, Maria?” Tess asked carefully. She had a tendency to just blurt out whatever she was thinking and she knew that her blunt manner probably wasn’t needed just now.

She kept an eye on the jackass at the other end of the deck while trying to act like she hadn’t noticed his presence. There was only one problem with that, she thought. He wasn’t bald or fat... no, just her luck he had only gotten hotter as he had gotten older. Damn it!

“You’re still mad at him, huh?” Maria asked with a smirk and hugged her as well. Maybe Kyle had been right; being around her family and friends felt better then expected.

“Mad?” Tess scoffed. “Mad would imply that I am in some way still emotionally involved with his stupid ass.” She shrugged one shoulder while casting a surreptitious glance in his direction. “At the same time though...” she growled, “I’d just about give my right arm to get a piece of him.” She shook her head at both of them. “Never repeat that, especially not to him.”

Maria laughed. “You’ve always had a thing for my brother and there is no way you can deny it.”

“I don’t deny that I might... and I stress the word might... want to take him to bed and ride his ass like the wild stallion that he is, but I don’t think he could handle it when I walked away the next mornin’.” She leaned back against the railing and studied her nails. “And as much as I’d like to see him destroyed in an appropriate manner, it’s just cruel for any man to discover what he could have with me only to pull it away from him just after he’s had a taste. So, he can just look from afar and imagine what it’d be like to share my bed.”

“Uh-huh, don’t talk like that in front of the kids, do you hear me?” Liz said with a smirk.

Tess rolled her eyes. The kids were far enough away and she had been talking quietly enough that she knew the ears of the innocent were safe from her rant.

Max approached the women, but didn’t bother to greet his younger sister politely. “Why’re you here, Tess?”

She turned to look at her brother. Oh, he was going to ruin all of her good intentions with his attitude. “Why?” She glanced over her shoulder at the kids and she smiled at Nick who had paused to watch what was going on between the adults. “I’ve decided we’ve let things go for too long and I’m here to fix that,” she said and hugged him tightly. She backed off before he had time to respond. “I think I’ll go get a beer.” She pointed at the door that led into the house. “You don’t mind, do you?” Her tone implied that it didn’t really matter one way or the other whether he minded because as usual, she was going to do what she wanted to do.

Max stood there, his mouth opening and closing several times but not a word escaped his lips. What the hell?

Kyle glanced at the steaks on the grill and then back at Max, grimacing when he realized that the man was completely unaware that he was about to burn dinner. Tess was on her way inside and that was the perfect time to corner her and get her alone for a minute. “Damn it,” he muttered.

“Max,” Liz called him, “watch the grill.”

“Huh?” He was still shocked by his sister’s behavior. He turned to follow her pointing finger when she gestured to the steaks on the grill. “Oh, right.”

Kyle nodded at Max when he came back over to the grill. “Be right back, man... gotta go get a fresh drink.”

“Yeah, whatever, man!”

He made a mental note to grab a new bottle as he pushed away from the railing. Keep it cool, Valenti, he reminded himself. Despite the urge to hurry he kept his steps measured. He couldn’t appear too eager to see her because that would give her the upper hand.

Tess opened the refrigerator and looked inside, trying to decide what she wanted to drink. She had booked a room at a hotel not far from the house, so she didn’t need to worry about driving back there at the end of the evening. “Alright,” she muttered, grabbing a beer.

Kyle crept up behind Tess and debated the intelligence of touching her. After a few reckless seconds of letting his mind wander to what it would feel like to have her skin under his hands he decided he liked his hands attached to his body and he kinda needed them in his job, so he shoved them in his pockets. “How’s it goin’, Tess?”

Tess smirked when she heard his voice from behind her. Oh, yeah, she had expected him to follow her – predictable bastard! Her features turned serious before she turned around. “How’s it goin’?” she repeated. She placed her hand on her hip and pretended to think about it. “Well, let’s see, one of my brothers died a few months ago and my other brother isn’t talking to me. Other than that everything’s just fine, thanks.”

Kyle nodded. Oookay, so her reception was a little frostier than he had been hoping for. “So, this would be a bad time to ask you out then?”

“Any time would be a bad time for that, Valenti.”

“C’mon, Tess,” he complained, “high school was a long time ago.”

She snorted. “That doesn’t matter.”

His eyebrows shot up. “It doesn’t matter? Then what’s with the attitude?”

“You had your chance, Kyle. And you went the wrong way. Despite that good old sayin’ that everyone should get a second bite of the cherry, my cherry’s already been taken as far as you’re concerned.”

“So, no chance of us startin’ over?” He leaned in close to her as he reached past her to grab a beer. He watched her closely as his body pressed up against hers and he knew he wasn’t misreading her when her blue eyes darkened just slightly. “We never did make it very far back then... I could rock your world, girl.”

Tess took a deep breath to get some control back. “We never made it far because you preferred to fuck Stacy Portman in the eraser room,” she reminded him.

Kyle braced his hands on the refrigerator, holding her hostage. “I told you back then that I didn’t fuck her... yeah, I fucked up when I made out with her in the eraser room, but it never went that far.”

She shrugged. “Yeah, because you got caught before you could get into her cheap, department store panties. It doesn’t matter if you fucked her or not, Kyle. The point is you knew that I hated her. She was just making a play for you because she knew we were together and you fell for her.”

“I didn’t fall for her, Tess!” He ran one hand through his hair as he took a deep breath. Damn it she could make his blood boil in a matter of seconds and she was so fucking irritating! “Tell me you don’t want me,” he rasped as he nudged her with his hips. “And just for the record... that’s NOT my weapon.”

No matter how hot I am right now, you’re gonna lose this game, Valenti, she thought confidently and straightened up. She bent forward slightly and stared into his dark eyes and a small smile appeared on his lips. Good, he’s thinking he’s got me right where he wants me, she realized, amused. Her lips were only a few inches away and she made sure that he could feel her heated breath against his skin.

She smiled back saucily. “I don’t want you, Kyle.”

Ha, she thought she was winning this round? No way! He shook his head. “Maybe you don’t want to want me, but that doesn’t change the fact that you do,” he said confidently.

She rolled her eyes and stepped out of his way. “You wish, Valenti. This is gonna be a big shock for you, but you’re not irresistible. Your hands and this,” she gestured along her perfect body shaking her head, “that was long time ago.”

Kyle shrugged one shoulder dismissively as he tipped his head to one side and let his gaze slide over her chest. He took a drink of his beer and then gestured at her breasts with the bottle. “I think your right breast is higher than the left,” he said, taunting her. There was absolutely nothing wrong with her body, but if she wanted to play this game, well, he could be as juvenile as she could.

Oh, no, you didn’t go there! She bit her inner cheek to keep herself from yelling at him. “Um-hmm, maybe you should consider payin’ a visit to an eye doctor then, ‘cause I remember many times when you told me how much you liked my breasts. Besides that, maybe you should have a look at your own, you middle-aged jock. Seems like you’ve put on some weight since the last time I saw you.”

He glanced down at himself and reached up to touch his chest. “Are you sayin’ I've got man boobs?”

She shrugged with a smirk before she turned to leave the kitchen and go back outside again.

Kyle frowned when she didn’t bother to answer and he glanced around before setting his beer aside and pulling his tee shirt up to look at himself. Nah, he assured himself as he smacked his palm against his washboard abs, he was in peak physical condition. Not an ounce of fat on this body.

“Uh, Valenti, why’re you showin’ skin in my house?” Max asked when he came inside for the steak sauce.

“Just proving a point,” he muttered and went back outside. She wasn’t gonna resist for long.

Max just shook his head and grabbed the sauce before following Kyle back outside. The man was back at his post, sitting on the railing and staring at Tess.

“So, Maria, are you just here for a visit or are you stayin’ in Roswell?” Tess asked as she sat down across from Maria and Liz.

“No, we’re stayin’ I think. A lot will depend on how Andy does here.” She glanced at her brother and then back at Tess. “Kyle’s taken a leave of absence from the Bureau so I’m not sure how long he’ll be here.”

Tess nodded. “And you’re stayin’ at your parents’ house?”

“Yeah, for now. I’ll start lookin’ for a place in a few weeks. I love my parents, but I’d really like my own space.”

“Yeah, I think I’m gonna look for an apartment as well. The hotel will be too expensive to stay there for long.”

“Maybe we can look around together.”

Liz nodded. “Yeah, and I can help you guys with that.” It would be nice to get out of the house every once in a while for something that wasn’t related to shuttling the kids around to school and their various activities, grocery shopping, or work.

Tess nodded. “That’d be cool. I also have to look for a job.”

“What about your job in California?”

“Well, I’ve been assured that when I get back it’ll be waiting for me if I want it, but I don’t know how long it’s gonna take to get through my brother’s thick head, so in the meantime I’ll need to find somethin’ to do.”

“Got anything specific in mind?” Liz asked, mentally running over the businesses in the small town that were hiring.

“Not yet. But I like to work with other people and I’ve been livin’ in California, so something with styling and trends would be cool.”

“Well, I’m not sure how trendy anything around here’s gonna be... it’s still Roswell, y’know?”

“Do ya have a good hairdresser here?” Maria asked. She couldn’t think of any that had been in business when she had left Roswell years ago.

Liz just shook her head. “Are you kidding? No, to get a decent cut or style I have to drive to Dexter and if I really want it done right, Clovis. And honestly? Half an hour versus two hours one way? I usually settle for what I can get in Dexter.”

Well, that could be an opportunity, Maria thought but didn’t say anything.

Tess mused over what Liz had said but she kept her thoughts to herself. “So, when’re we goin’ out for a girl’s night?” she asked.

Maria smiled at Tess’ question. She couldn’t even remember the last time she had been out for a girl’s night, but she had a feeling the younger girl would be on the prowl. “I’m not really interested in goin’ out to pick up guys, Tess.”

“Who said anything about guys? No, come on, I don’t want to pick up a guy either.”

Liz glanced at her husband and wondered how he would feel if she went out with his little sister for a night on the town. She had no doubt that Maria was right on target and that Tess would be looking for a guy to hook up with.

Maria rolled her eyes, not believing Tess one bit. “Okay, fine, but if you’re gonna just leave us sittin’ alone while you go off talkin’ to one guy after another we’ll leave you there by yourself.”

“Whatever. I’m sure the same can be said for the men in this town as well as the hairdressers... inadequate.”

“What about tomorrow?” Maria asked. Suddenly, she felt excited about going out again and having some fun. She hadn’t been out in what seemed like a lifetime. “Andy asked me earlier if he could go to a movie with the twins tomorrow night so maybe Max could watch Kara since it’s the weekend. That way we’d both have the night off, Liz.”

Liz nodded. “That sounds like fun.”

“Where should we go?”

Kyle strained to hear the answer when the women started to debate about where to go the next night. He hadn’t intentionally been listening until Tess had suggested they all go out the next night.

“There’s really only one choice,” Liz answered. “There’s a new club in town.” She wrinkled her nose. “Well, I say new, but it’s been here for a couple of years now. The only other place would be the bar near the end of Main Street and it’s not the kinda place that any of us would hang out at.”

Maria made a face. “Yeah, I remember that one.”

Tess snorted, familiar with the bar they were talking about. “Oh, c’mon, just because Max would have a coronary if he caught you there...” she teased, but she frowned when Liz forced a smile and nodded.

“It’s a bar you go to when you wanna get laid,” Liz defended herself. “And as you said, we’re not goin’ out for that.”

“Uh-huh,” she said slowly as she glanced between her brother and Liz. The kids were right, something was seriously wrong between the couple.

“So, let’s just go to the club,” Maria said when she realized that Liz was getting uncomfortable. And she wasn’t looking for a man either. God, she couldn’t even think about being with anyone other than Andrew.

Tess was just getting ready to deny that she was looking to get laid when she realized that Kyle was just about to fall off of the railing because he was leaning so far to the side as he tried to listen to their conversation. God, he was so obvious! “Well, I’m pretty sure that I can find a guy no matter where we go.”

Maria had seen her brother’s behavior as well and she rolled her eyes. “Yeah, and I’m sure you won’t have to look for long.”

Kyle glared at his sister when she gave Tess the thumbs-up for her plans. He’d be damned if Tess was hooking up with someone else! He had to be there tomorrow night... but, how? Hmm, looked like he needed to make a call to an old friend.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
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In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult)Part 8 - 12/20/09

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Dec 20, 2009 12:06 pm

mary mary: Thank you, glad you enjoyed it!

Earth2Mama: They’re gonna be great together! Oh, she’ll give him a chance… in time.

Not telling, but they will!

A bad feeling, huh? Hmm….

Maiqu: Mojo’s a sweetie… we’ll see more of the two of them in this next update. Kyle and Tess are gonna create fireworks, aren’t they?

Alien_Friend: Tess definitely knows how to work things in her favor, lol!

We’ll see the outing soon. Max does get points for showing up.

Liz is reaching the end of her rope, but they’re gonna work it out. Despite where they are right now, they do love each other and they won’t let their marriage or their love be destroyed without a fight.

The guys may need each other for support once these girls start hanging out together, lol. Max and Tess will eventually reach a point where they can work things out as well.

We’re glad you like Michael and Mojo together! We’ll see them again soon.

sarammlover: Trust that good feeling! Things are gonna work out for this group, it’s just gonna take some time.

begonia9508: Oh, the complications are still coming, lol!

keepsmiling7: Oh, yeah…


Part 8

Isabel juggled her briefcase, laptop case, purse, and two grocery sacks as she unlocked her front door and stepped inside. She shifted everything again as she reached for the light switch, flipping it up before walking through the apartment to get to the dining room. She dropped everything on the table as she looked around for her unusually quiet roommates.

The two tiny troublemakers had been a gift from her two best guy friends in college. She had gone through a messy break-up with a boyfriend and Michael and Kyle had decided that the perfect way to cheer her up was to present her with two rambunctious kittens that were constantly getting into trouble.

The guys had even named them for her and she hadn’t had the heart to change their names even if they were completely ridiculous. Caesar and Brutus… the guys had a weird sense of humor. She finally gave up on locating the feline duo and started putting the groceries away. They would come out of hiding as soon as she opened their food and set their bowls out. She prepared her dinner and slid it into the oven to cook and then went to take a shower.

She went through the same routine every night, she thought an hour later as she was taking her dinner out of the oven. She couldn’t even remember the last time she’d had a date and these days it seemed like the only men she met were parents of her students or faculty members and both would just be a conflict of interest. Not to mention it just wouldn’t look right to be seen with a man whose child was in her care for the majority of the year.

Her reputation was flawless and she wasn’t willing to risk it, but damn, she was a woman and she had needs! Sometimes she wished she was more like her two friends, willing to let her hair down and just cut loose. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go out and just do something crazy once in a while, she just felt safer in her comfort zone. She was a woman who knew what she wanted in her life, in her career, and in her men, and unfortunately that tended to scare a lot of potential dates off.

She removed the pan from the oven and set it on the stovetop to cool and turned her attention to filling the food bowls for her cats. As expected it was only a matter of seconds before they came out of hiding and wrapped around her calves, showing affection and mewing pathetically. She knelt down and played with them, giving them attention before standing to finish preparing their food.

“I should’ve renamed you Michael and Kyle the way the two of you behave,” she chastised as she set the bowls on the floor and the cats ignored her in favor of feasting on their food. “You do know you’re completely uncivilized little beasts, don’t you?”

*****

“I’ll get it,” Max said when the phone in the house began to ring after dinner. He was glad to find a reason to finally leave his family for a few minutes. It had been awkward to sit at one table with all of them while they all acted as if nothing had happened.

He took his plate inside with him and set it on the kitchen counter before going to the living room to pick up the phone.

Andy jogged up to the house, not even bothering to check with any of the adults before going inside to get a drink. He pulled the refrigerator open and glanced at the contents, finally settling for a bottle of water. He unscrewed the cap and was turning to go back outside when his uncle stepped into the room.

He had managed to make it through the entire evening without being alone with the man or even
speaking to him and now that he was faced with him he felt angry. “Us bein’ here doesn’t have anything to do with you,” he said hatefully. He didn’t even understand why he had so much animosity towards his uncle; as Uncle Kyle had reminded him recently, it wasn’t Uncle Max’ fault that his father had died. He was the one who let him fall, his conscience reminded him.

Max frowned at the boy. “Andy...” What could he say?

“We’re here ‘cause Mom needs to be closer to the family, but that doesn’t include you. We don’t need you.”

“Andy, what happened to your father... my brother... I wish I could’ve saved him.” How could the boy think he would have let his brother die if there had been a possibility that he could have saved him?

“You wish,” the teenager sneered. “That makes me feel a lot better... too bad your wishes can’t make my mom stop cryin’ herself to sleep at night.”

“That’s enough, Andy,” Max snarled. He didn’t want to scream at the boy, his nephew, but he was making it very difficult for him.

“Whatever, man.” He refused to even give him the respect of addressing him correctly. He turned to walk back outside and nearly ran into Kyle. His uncle’s disapproving expression told him that he had heard the entire conversation. Damn it, was the entire universe against him or something today?

Kyle watched Andy go back outside and he glanced at Max. “You okay?”

“Kid’s got a right to his feelings,” Max said as he brushed past Kyle to go back outside.

Kyle just shook his head and followed him out, glancing around until he found Andy and the twins sitting on the ground some distance to the adults. “Andy,” he called for his nephew and motioned for him to follow him.

Maria looked up when Kyle called her son and she felt an uneasiness settle over her when she saw the boy’s mutinous expression. She remained sitting when Kyle motioned for her to stay where she was and she wondered what Andy had done.

“What’d you do, man?” Nick asked.

Andy shrugged. “I don’t know. They’re on my ass about everything all the time.”

Justin looked back at the deck, his gaze searching for his father and he frowned when he realized that he was nowhere to be seen.

After a minute Andy got to his feet and went to join Kyle. “What’s up?”

“What was that in the house, Andy?”

He shrugged. “Just tellin’ it like it is.”

“Like what is? You telling Max that it’s his fault that your father died? You accusing him of letting his only brother die?”

“He’s the one who let him fall.”

“I’m sorry,” Maria said as she looked at Liz when she overheard part of their conversation.

Liz lifted her eyebrows in confusion. “For what?”

“I had hoped that Andy would be past this by now, but it seems like he’s still blaming Max for Andrew's death.”

He was still blaming him? Liz had to work to contain her shock. She’d had no idea that Max had been dealing with that. He’d never said a word.

“You didn’t know?” Maria asked after seeing her friend’s face.

She had to bite her lip to keep from crying at even more proof that she and Max were falling apart. “He’s never said anything.”

Maria didn’t know what to say. She was sure that Andy was just searching for someone to blame right now and that he didn’t really hold his uncle responsible.

“Why would Andy blame Max?” Tess asked.

Maria felt her eyes water and turned away, shaking her head. “I don’t know.”

“He’s just lookin’ for someone to blame and Max is the perfect person to shoulder that blame,” Kyle answered as he joined them. “We should probably get him home, Maria; he’s feelin’ pretty bad right now.” He looked at Liz. “I’m not excusin’ his behavior, Liz, and deep down he knows that Max isn’t responsible for Andrew’s death.”

“Yeah,” Maria wiped away a single tear. “Thanks for the party, Liz. It was really nice for all of us to hang out together again.”

“Tomorrow night, Maria,” Tess said quickly. It was even more important now that they all get together. Her family was shattered and someone needed to start picking up the pieces.

The other girl nodded. “I’ll be there.”

“You too, Liz.”

“Okay,” she said, but she didn’t sound very excited about it.

Max listened to the conversation from inside the house and his hands gripped the counter when he heard what was being said. He had been so careful to keep Liz from finding out that their nephew blamed him for Andrew’s death and now they all knew about it. Damn Kyle and his big mouth! It wouldn’t be long before she came looking for him, wanting to talk about it and he wasn’t ready to deal with that.

“Andy,” Maria stood up and called for her son. “We’re leaving, come on.”

“I’ll catch you guys later,” he said as he stood up. Kara was sitting in Justin’s lap and he reached down to ruffle her hair. “You too, kid.”

The little girl giggled and waved her hand when he turned to leave.

Tess watched the others file out of the yard before turning back to Liz. “I should probably call it a night, too.” She took a deep breath. “I know things have been kinda weird between us because of the problems Max and I have, but please call me if you need anything.”

Liz smiled sadly and nodded. “Thanks.”

Left alone on the deck she watched her children as they discussed something and after several minutes they seemed to come to a conclusion. Much to her surprise the three of them got up and started to clean up the yard and she left them to their task as she walked inside to find her husband.

Max had retreated to the bedroom he and Liz shared when their guests had finally started to leave and he was slouched down in one of the armchairs in the sitting area near the large windows that looked out over the backyard.

As if he didn’t have enough to deal with now he was faced with his sister-in-law and his nephew. Oh, and just for shits and giggles, let’s not forget little sis showing up unannounced, he thought with a frown. Could his day get any worse? His fingers stopped their irritated drumming when the door to the bedroom was thrown open and Liz entered the room, her expression a conflicted mix of concern and anger. Yes, apparently it could get worse.

“No, I didn’t tell you what Andy said,” he muttered before she could even get on that topic. “There was no reason for you to know.”

“No reason for me to know,” she repeated incredulously. “No, Max, I’m only your wife, why the hell should I know that our nephew has been blaming you for your brother’s death?”

“Look, it doesn’t matter,” he argued. “He’s got a right to work through this however he needs to.”

Liz sat down on the bed, staring at the back of his head as she tried to come up with a suitable response. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to me about it.”

“There’s nothin’ to talk about. You wanna talk about somethin’ let’s talk about you invitin’ Tess here without talkin’ to me about it first.”

“I didn’t invite her, Max. She came here by surprise. To help her family, but I’m startin’ to think that I should’ve done that a long time ago.”

“Oh, yeah, she’s gonna help alright,” he muttered.

“What the hell is wrong with you, Max?” She got up from her seat and walked around the chair he was sitting in to face him.

“Why does somethin’ have to be wrong with me?” He knew his tone was defensive but he didn’t even try to control it.

“Because you’re not taking a part in this family anymore. And I hate to have to say that to you, Max, but you have three kids and they want their father to be there for them.”

“Oh, so, now I’m not a good father?”

“Right now, you’re just livin’ with us like a stranger, Max. We rarely eat together, we don’t help our kids with their homework together, we don’t go to the park with Kara together on Sundays… We do nothing together.”

“What d’you want me to do, Liz? Just ignore the shop and let the business slide?” It wasn’t a strong argument but he was just looking for something to hide behind. “I can’t help it if I get home late and the kids have already had dinner and done their homework! And don’t get started on Sundays either! Seems to me you’re the one who’s workin’ this Sunday.”

Liz shook her head sadly. “Yeah, Max, it’s the same thing.” She started to leave the room again to help the kids with the backyard and get Kara ready for bed. “I want you to sleep in the guestroom.”

“I don’t pay a mortgage payment every month on this house so I can sleep in the goddamned guestroom,” he snarled. He shoved himself to his feet and stalked past her. “I’ll put Kara to bed when she’s ready.”

*****

Maria knocked on the door softly, waiting to see if her son would invite her inside or not. Their arrival home had been silent and everyone had gone their separate ways and avoided talking to each other. After lying in bed for almost an hour wide awake she had gotten to her feet again and had gone to the kitchen to get a glass of milk. On her way back she had seen a bit of light through his closed door, which meant Andy was still awake.

“Can I come in?” she asked quietly when he didn’t respond to her knocks.

“Whatever,” he muttered, staring at the wall.

She took that as a yes and entered the room slowly, closing the door behind her without making any noise. Her heart clenched painfully when he didn’t even bother to turn and look at her, keeping his back to her instead. “Andy...” she started, “... I need to talk to you about what you said earlier.”

He was surprised that she was there but he didn’t show it. “So talk.”

She nodded to herself and sat down on the edge of the bed. “Look at me, Andy.”

He honestly thought about ignoring her but after a minute he gave in and rolled over to look up at her.

Okay, Maria thought and took a deep breath as she debated the best way to start. “I know you miss your dad,” her voice started to tremble at the mention of her dead husband. “I miss him too,” she continued in a whisper.

“Mom, you don’t have to talk about this.” And he didn’t want to hear it.

She bit her lip and glanced down at her hands where they were knotted in her lap. “Max and your dad were really close, Andy. If there had been a way to save him, then Max would have done it, you know that, right?”

“You weren’t there, Mom.” He looked at the wall again. “Dad wouldn’t have let go...” He crossed his arms over his chest and his voice shook when he spoke again despite his attempt to control it. “And I don’t care what anyone says, he wouldn’t have just let us go like that.”

“I’m sorry that you had to see that, Andy,” she said as she tentatively reached out to place one hand on his crossed arms, not sure if he would allow her to touch him.

“Uncle Max is wrong... Dad wouldn’t have let go.” He hadn’t actually seen what had happened; he and his cousins had gotten there and found Max frantically searching for a way to get down the side of the mountain they had been on. His uncle had sent the twins back for help because they hadn’t been able to get a cell signal. He had refused to go with them, staying with his uncle and looking for a way down.

He looked at his mother’s hand and after a moment he shook it off and rolled over again. “I don’t wanna talk about it anymore.”

Maria tried to hide her disappointment. “I... I just want you to stop accusing your uncle, Andy. Max isn’t doing well and the last thing he needs is a load of guilt on his shoulders now.” She sat there for several minutes and waited to see if Andy had anything else to say, but he just ignored her. “Okay,” she finally said and reached out to let her hand caress her son’s head for just a brief second, “good night then.”

He shrugged but remained silent. He had been waiting for so long for his mother to reach out to him and now that she was he felt the need to push her away and he didn’t understand it.

*****

Michael had just finished breakfast and was putting his dishes in the sink when he glanced up and noticed the woman walking her dog through the park across the street from his house. He tipped his head to one side when he noticed her lips moving and a moment later the large German shepherd at her side barked and nudged her hand playfully. She reached down to unhook the dog’s leash and then threw a tennis ball across the grounds. The dog ran after the ball and returned it, tail wagging happily as he waited for her to throw it again.

He smiled when she repeated the process multiple times before she finally called it quits and walked over to take a seat on a nearby bench. He glanced over his shoulder when Mojo finished his own breakfast and used one big paw to flip his bowl over. He grinned and flipped the bowl back over before patting the dog’s side. “Just for that, I think it’s time for the two of us to take a jog, Mojo.”

He hurried to get dressed and when he came back he checked the dog’s collar to make sure it was secure then he grabbed the leash and looped it around his right hand. He rarely used it, but because of the dog’s intimidating looks he carried it to make people feel better.

He shook his head when the dog sprawled out in the patch of sunlight that had warmed the tiled floor, showing absolutely no interest in going out for a morning jog. “C’mon, Mojo, gimme a break, man.” He snapped his fingers and motioned for the dog to join him at the front door. After a few moments the dog got to his feet and lumbered across the floor. He crouched down and pointed at the park, and more importantly, at the woman sitting on the bench.

“Okay, buddy, that’s our target, got it? Now, we’re both guys here, so I need you to have my back, right?” He nodded. “Right. Now, when we get in the park... don’t do that thing where you run from the squirrels or you wander off to smell the flowers, okay? Guys, Mojo, guys!”

The dog snuffled and just looked at him. “Okay.” He opened the door and the two of them stepped out on the porch. “Remember, Mojo... guys.” He slapped his thigh and hopped down off of the porch. He set off at a slow jog, crossing the lawn with the dog at his side. He glanced around the park as they jogged through the entrance, making sure there weren’t any other guys around. Once he was sure that there was no competition to be seen he took the trail to the right, knowing that it would lead them around the park and right past his mystery woman.

Maria glanced up when Theo barked. “Theo, come here,” she called, when she pinpointed someone else with a dog not far away from her.

Michael smiled when he heard the woman call her dog and he shook his head as he glanced at his own dog. “Theo,” he muttered. “What the hell kinda name is Theo, huh, Mojo?”

The dog just looked up at him for a moment before turning his attention to a butterfly that was fluttering across their path.

“No, no, no, big guy. No butterflies,” Michael begged as he jogged backwards and snapped his fingers to get the dog’s attention.

Maria held Theo by his collar as she watched the other dog. “How can he let him just run out here without a leash,” she muttered to herself. “It’s a Rottweiler.”

Michael finally gave up trying to coerce Mojo into ignoring the butterfly and before long the Rottweiller caught up with him and settled into a gait that matched that of his owner.

They reached the far end of the park and followed the path that curved around and sent them towards his target. The sun wasn’t up very high yet, but it was warm enough that he had broken a sweat. After a few minutes they reached the opposite end of the park and he could see the woman still sitting on the bench a few hundred yards ahead of them.

“You don’t go after that dog, do you hear me?” Maria warned Theo when she felt the dog next to her straighten up.

“Alright, Mojo, play it cool, buddy.” He slowed down as they approached the woman and he saw her fingers clench around her dog’s collar. “He won’t bother your dog,” he said as he started walking towards her.

“What makes you think that I’m worried about my dog?” she asked ironically.

“Well, either you’re worried about your dog or mine and judgin’ by the death grip you’ve got on his collar, I was assuming you were worried that my dog might go after yours.”

“Aren’t you supposed to have your dog on a leash?”

He grinned and shrugged. “Well, I asked him how he felt about it before we left the house and he didn’t seem to be very excited about bein’ dragged around on a leash.”

She just rolled her eyes at him. So much for a quiet visit in the park, she thought.

“Not funny?” he asked. He had expected it to at least get a small smile out of her.

“What was funny about that?” she asked, while caressing Theo’s head with both of her hands.

Okay then, he thought as he scrambled for something witty to say. Normally he didn’t have this much of a problem, but despite her lack of engaging conversation he found himself completely tongue-tied.

She tried to ignore him when he didn’t show any sign of leaving. Okay, yes, he was good looking and if circumstances were different, she would have enjoyed his attempt to talk to her. But right now, it just seemed wrong.

He scratched his right eyebrow as he motioned to the dog sitting at her side. “You train him yourself?”

“He was in a dog obedience school when he was a puppy.”

“You shouldn’t have to worry about him chasin’ after other dogs then.”

Maria shrugged and leaned back on the bench. Maybe he would just go away if she ignored him again.

Michael was getting the unsubtle vibe she was sending out, but he was reluctant to leave. “I don’t recall seein’ you around town.”

Damn, he wasn’t giving up, she thought. It wasn’t a question, right? So she didn’t have to answer it or anything.

He was gonna develop a complex at this rate! “Are you here for a visit? Vacation maybe?”

She glanced at him, studying his features for a while and felt sorry that she couldn’t let this small talk happen. He seemed to be a nice man and he was definitely a good looking one, too. It was possible that any woman in Roswell, married or not, would have liked to talk to him. But she couldn’t do that right now. It felt somehow wrong to talk to him while everyone was still suffering from her husband’s death.

She glanced at her watch in a way that he had to notice it. “Sorry, but I need to go. My kid’s waiting for breakfast,” she said, well aware that she had mentioned her son in front of him. If there was one thing that was daunting for a man trying to flirt, then it was the mention of a kid that wasn’t his, she thought.

“You’ve got a kid, huh?” He shifted, trying to get a look at her left hand, but there was no way to see it from his position.

She was well aware what he was looking for and she made it a point to caress Theo’s head with her left hand so he could see the ring Andrew had put on her finger so many years ago. She hadn’t managed to take it yet. Maybe it was better if he thought she was married. At least he wouldn’t be so hurt that she wasn’t flirting back if he thought she had a husband.

Michael suddenly realized why she wasn’t responding to anything he had said – she was married. Damn it! He nodded at her and leaned over to pat Mojo’s side. “Well, we’ll see ya later; we’ve got squirrels to watch and a lawn to mow.”

She could hear the disappointment in his voice as she got to her feet. “Goodbye then. Come on, Theo, we’re goin’ home.”

He watched her walk away and he shook his head as he turned to go in the opposite direction. “C’mon, Mojo,” he said quietly.

The big dog looked up at him when he heard the odd tone in his owner’s voice and he shifted, leaning his weight against the man’s leg in a comforting gesture.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
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In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult)Part 9 - 12/27/09

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Dec 27, 2009 11:57 am

Earth2Mama: Oh, boy… well, don’t punch him just yet. You’re right about where that suggestion could lead, but hopefully that won’t happen here. As for why he’s shutting Liz out, well… we’ll find out eventually. No, he doesn’t want Liz to give up, not at all.

Yup, Isabel has Michael and Kyle for best friends. Hmm… we’re thinking you’re probably right.

And again, probably right! Oh, little man has definitely got some anger issues! Michael will be working with him soon though.

Alien_Friend: Nope, not yet. Michael is interested, but he did the right thing. He’ll be discovering the truth soon though.

It was a painful scene between uncle and nephew, but it was going to happen eventually. Kyle does his best to provide a guiding hand for Andy. Max is doing everything he can to hide the way he feels from everyone, refusing to share his pain or his grief, and he needs to share that with someone.

Liz is having a hard time trying to hold things together, and Max isn’t making it any easier. But they are gonna get better in time.

There’s nothing like having a couple of little furry troublemakers under foot to help ease the loneliness!

We’ll miss ya – we’ll be waiting to see ya back!

mary mary: LOL, never heard that one, huh?

So true! Max will eventually get there, but it might take an unexpected event to push him to that point. We’re glad you’re enjoying the characters – Tess is a trip! Mojo’s a big sweetheart.

Well, we’re updating Double Trouble on Wednesday… does that help?

Merry Christmas to you, too!

keepsmiling7: It’s quite possible.

They’re gonna drift for a while.

POM: Sometimes it only takes a tiny thing to make someone who is grieving reach the breaking point. For Max… well… we can’t give it away, but it’ll be a significant moment for him. Thank you for your heartfelt feedback. We’re touched by what you’ve shared and by your amazing compliments to our fic.

begonia9508: You’re so right! Nah, not stupid at all. It was a natural assumption for Michael to believe that she was married… wedding ring, mention of her child… we know, he shouldn’t assume, but better for him to assume she was married and back off than ignore the sign and think she was married and still make a move on her.

Hmm… you just never know…

We’ll see more of them soon.

sarammlover: Don’t worry… there are gonna be sparks! Aww, they’re not doing well, but they’re gonna get better. As for Andy… he’ll be meeting his counsellor soon.

Maiqu: He’s gonna come around. Ya gotta love that web, huh? Mojo’s a sweetheart and he’ll have more scenes!


Part 9

Liz finished putting the dishes from dinner into the dishwasher and wiped her hands on a towel that was lying on the counter.

“Mom, where’s my black shirt? The one I got last Christmas?” Nick asked. He had looked everywhere and he couldn’t find it.

“Well, maybe it’s in the laundry.”

“What? But I haven’t worn it the last two weeks.”

Damn it she couldn’t be that far behind with laundry! “Nick…” Liz turned around to look at her son.

“It’s okay, I’ll wear somethin’ else,” he said quickly when he saw the look in his mother’s eyes.

She nodded sadly. “Have fun at the movies.”

“Thanks.” He walked around the center island to kiss her cheek quickly. “We’ll watch Kara tomorrow, okay?” He knew his mother was exhausted from the last few weeks... months...

Liz glanced up when Max walked into the kitchen. She waited until her son was out of sight before she started to talk to him. “Where were you during dinner?”

Max glanced back over his shoulder to make sure the kids weren’t close by. “I called and left a message, told you I was workin’ late.”

“It’s Saturday, Max.”

“And? It’s a busy day at the shop. Why didn’t you just hold dinner up if it was such a big deal?”

“’Cause I’m plannin’ to go out in about an hour. Now that you’re finally here, would you put Kara to bed so I can get ready?”

“Goin’ out,” he said slowly. Sure, he had heard them talking about it but he hadn’t really thought she’d really go. “To a bar with Tess an’ Maria?”

“Yeah, I already told you we were goin’ out tonight.”

He ignored that for a moment and started looking through the refrigerator for something to eat. “You didn’t set a plate aside for me?”

“We just had pizza. There’re some pieces leftover,” she gestured to the table where it was still in the carton.

Max slammed the refrigerator door shut. “I’m not that hungry anyway. Back to you goin’ out...”

She rolled her eyes and walked over to take the leftover food from the table.

“Are you gonna tell me where you’re goin’?” He didn’t know why he was protesting; anymore it felt like being with a stranger when the kids weren’t around to act as buffers between them.

“To the bar on Main Street.”

“Is it really smart for a teacher to be seen out at a bar alone?”

“I’m not alone, Max. And just because I’m a teacher does that mean I’m not allowed to go out or somethin’?”

“Just might appear inappropriate’s all I’m sayin’. This town’s not that big and everyone knows everyone... people talk.”

“Yeah, whatever. I can handle them.” She put the leftover pieces of pizza on a plate and covered them before putting them in the refrigerator.

“You just don’t normally make it a habit to hang out at bars with a bunch of single women.” Why the hell was he picking a fight?

She slammed the door of the refrigerator shut and whirled around. “God, Max, what is the point of this conversation? I wanna go out with Tess and Maria to have a little fun, that’s all.”

“Fine, Liz, go out and have fun! I’m just your husband. I don’t know what I was thinkin’ when I asked where you were goin’.”

“You don’t tell me where you go, Max,” she almost screamed at him. He had gotten to the place where he would go off by himself so often, never telling her where he was going or what he was doing while he was gone. “I spend my whole day with children and then I come home and spend the rest of my day runnin’ between games, practices, makin’ dinner, cleaning up, doin’ homework, and getting the kids ready for the next day so I can do it all over again. Is it too much to ask for a few hours to myself once in a while?”

“So, what? You’re pissed about that so you’re just gonna go off and leave me with the kids?” It wasn’t an issue of being alone with the kids. He enjoyed spending time with them, but he was exhausted and irritable and didn’t feel like dealing with anyone.

“I’m not just goin’ off. I’m goin’ out... for once.”

“Do whatever you wanna do, Liz.” Max shook his head. “What’re the boy’s doin’?”

“They’re goin’ to the movies with Andy and Sam. Alex is picking them up and he’ll bring them back home afterwards.”

“And tomorrow? You’ll be workin’ with the drama club at the high school?”

“That’s right. I’ve already prepared something for lunch and told Justin how to warm it up when you guys get hungry.”

Max was drumming his fingertips on the counter when a horn honked outside and the boys ran down the stairs, making as much noise as possible. The two of them barreled into the kitchen, pushing and shoving to get through the doorway first and it was impossible to miss the way their laughter stopped as they looked between their parents.

“You two come back home right after the movie,” Liz reminded them to break the silence.

“Um, Mom, it’s Saturday and the movie’ll be out at nine,” Justin said.

Nick elbowed his brother and shook his head slightly. “We’ll be home after the movie, Mom.”

She nodded, glad that she didn’t need to discuss the subject any further with the boys. “Have fun.”

They glanced up when someone knocked on the front door and they hurried out of the room, racing to get there first.

Max heard Sam’s voice as she reprimanded the boys for holding things up and he couldn’t help the slight smile that crossed his features when the twins mumbled apologies, blamed it on their parents, and followed her outside. His smile faded when he turned his head and he saw the expression on his wife’s face. He sighed when she looked at him and he raised his hands. “Is Kara ready for bed?”

“I think so.”

“You think so?”

“I was busy with the dishes, Max. She wanted to get ready for bed by herself and I haven’t been upstairs yet to look in on her.”

He bit his tongue before he could say the first thing that came to mind, knowing that with their current moods it would only escalate into a fight and so far they had managed to keep that to a minimum around the kids. “I’ll take care of it.”

“She nodded and turned her back on him to finish up in the kitchen so she could go and get ready.

Max watched her as she moved around the room and he wondered at her decision to go out with Tess and Maria. Usually when she went out it was with mothers of the kid’s friends; his sister liked to party and he couldn’t imagine her and Liz actually spending time together. “So, why are you goin’ out with Tess? I mean, I can understand why you’d spend time with Maria, but... my sister?”

“Because she asked me and Maria to go out, and what is wrong with goin’ out with her? Just because she’s a little crazier than others doesn’t mean that I’ll do the same thing.”

He nodded. “I’m goin’ upstairs to check on Kara.” He paused at the entrance. “What time are you plannin’ to leave tomorrow?”

“Around 10am.”

He walked upstairs and it didn’t register until he reached the landing on the second floor that it was too quiet. Kara was an active four-year-old and as a rule it was hard to miss her when she was awake. He glanced around her bedroom and didn't see her inside so he started looking through the rest of the rooms.

He finally found her in his bedroom, curled up in bed and hugging the family dog. “Kara?” He frowned when she barely shifted to look at him. He crossed the room and reached out to rest his palm on her forehead when he noticed her flushed cheeks. He brushed the animals off of the bed and sat down beside her when he felt her elevated temperature.

“Don’t feel good, Daddy,” she whined.

“Does your tummy hurt?” he asked.

She barely moved as she shook her head. “All.”

All... what’d that mean? “Liz!” he shouted loud enough to get her attention without scaring his daughter. He brushed her hair back from her forehead as he lifted her up and held her in his arms.

Liz heard her husband call for her upstairs and she rolled her eyes. What now, she wondered. She tossed the dish towel on the counter and went to see what was wrong. She saw her bedroom door standing open and wondered why they would be in there. “What’s wrong?” she asked when she entered the room and saw the answer right after that. “Sweetie, what’s wrong?”

“She’s runnin’ a fever,” he said.

She sat down next to them on the bed and caressed the girl’s head.

Kara started to whimper and cry softly. “Mommy, Mommy, don’t go away.”

Max pressed a kiss to the little girl’s forehead and transferred her into Liz’ arms. “I’ll go get the thermometer.”

“Don’t worry, baby girl, I’m not going anywhere, okay?” She gently rocked her in her arms to calm her down.

Max came back quickly and he used the ear thermometer, getting a reading within seconds. He held it out so Liz could see it. “She’s runnin’ a 101 degree temperature.”

“There’s some children’s Tylenol in the bathroom; get it while I take her to her room,” Liz said quietly and stood up with the girl in her arms.

Max followed her instructions and grabbed the medication from the cabinet, taking it to Liz and watching her fuss over their daughter. “Should I give her pediatrician a call?” he asked.

“No, not yet. We’ll try this first and see if it helps. Maybe she can get some sleep then. If it’s not any better in the next hour, then we’ll call him.”

He nodded and cupped Kara’s cheek. “You want Daddy to get you anything, baby girl?”

She didn’t answer, just wrapped her hand around a couple of his fingers and moved his hand down to cover Liz’. He swallowed hard and nodded, sitting down on her other side and glancing at his wife.

Seems like the only time we can act normal is when our kids are involved, Liz thought sadly. “I have to call Maria,” she said after a while.

Max stared at his hand where it covered his wife’s and he found himself wishing that things hadn’t gotten so out of hand. He knew he was to blame, he had been pushing her away since his brother’s funeral and he didn’t know how to fix it now. He looked up at her when she spoke and he nodded.

She pulled her hand away slowly, trying to enjoy his touch as long as possible since it had become so rare lately. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

He missed her before she had even left the room and he sighed raggedly as he ran his right hand over his face. They had fought more in the past six months than they had in all the years combined since they had started dating in Junior High.

Liz went down to the kitchen again and picked up the phone. She dialed Maria’s number and waited for her friend to pick up the phone so she could tell her that she couldn’t go with them for their girl’s night.

*****

“Andy, can you answer the phone?” Amy asked when it rang, knowing that Maria was upstairs getting ready for her night out with the girls.

He was waiting for his mother to finish getting ready because she was going to drop him off at the movies on her way to hang out with his aunts. He crossed the room and reached for the phone. “H’lo?”

“Um, hello, Andy, it’s Liz.”

“Oh, hey, Aunt Liz... did you wanna talk to Mom?”

“Yeah, if it’s possible.”

“I’ll get her for you. Um, have the guys already left to go to the movie?”

“Yeah, about ten minutes ago.”

“Okay, hold on an’ I’ll get her for you.” Great, it took all of five minutes to get from one end of this backwater town to the other; he was gonna be late if his mother didn’t hurry up.

“Okay, I’m ready,” Maria came downstairs just when Andy was about to go up.

“Aunt Liz is on the phone, Mom.”

“Oh,” Maria frowned, “okay.” She walked over to the phone and lifted it up to her ear. “Liz?”

“Hi, Maria,” Liz greeted. “I hate to do it, but I’m gonna have to cancel for tonight.”

“What? Why? You can’t leave me alone with Tess, Liz!”

Liz laughed softly at Maria’s reaction. “I wouldn’t, but Kara’s runnin’ a fever.”

Maria sighed. “Okay, that’s probably a good reason.”

“We’ll make it another night, okay? I really was looking forward to us spendin’ some time together.”

“Okay,” Maria agreed. “Uh, I’m already late,” she said when she looked at Andy’s impatient expression, “I have to run Andy to meet the boys first, so... give my love to Max and Kara, okay?”

“Will do.” Liz smiled. “Don’t let Tess talk you into doin’ anything crazy.”

Maria laughed. “I won’t.”

*****

Maria drove along the main street of Roswell after dropping Andy off at the theater, looking at the storefronts that she had grown up just waiting to get away from. As an adult, coming home after so many years away, she could appreciate the effort that went into maintaining the look and style of the businesses.

She glanced at the quick note she had written and she smiled when she saw the hotel up ahead. Of course Tess would choose the newest hotel, built out by the highway, she thought as she turned into the check-in area near the entrance. She could see Tess in the lobby, leaning against the counter and flirting with a tall, sandy-haired man who could easily be pegged for an out-of-towner.

She was debating between calling Tess or honking the horn when her sister-in-law happened to glance up and notice her. Tess waved happily and hurried out of the lobby, pulling the door open and sliding into the passenger’s seat. “Hey, girl, you’re a few minutes early.”

“Early?” Maria muttered, glancing at her watch. From her point of view, she was five minutes late.

“Well, as far as I’m concerned you’re early... did you see that gorgeous hunk of man candy I was talking to?”

Maria rolled her eyes. “You haven’t changed a bit in the last few years, girl.”

Tess snorted. “I took no vows to remain celibate...” She wrinkled her nose. “Or whatever you vowed to do, although from what I understand married people just don’t have sex all that often. Nope, I’m not saddling myself with a husband.”

“It’s not only about sex in a marriage,” Maria said quietly.

“Well, no, but I happen to enjoy sex... I mean, can you imagine getting married and then one day suddenly realizing that you’re perfectly content to just sleep beside that person because there’s just no fire between you anymore?” She shuddered. “No thanks.”

Maria bit her lip to keep from saying anything.

Tess didn’t notice Maria’s silence as she went on. “So, did Kyle say anything about me last night?” She studied her nails, feigning disinterest.

Maria groaned. “No, he didn’t, but then again I didn’t really see him after we left your brother’s house. He went to bed when we got home and he was already gone when I got up.”

“Gone where?” she asked, eyes widening when she realized how that would sound. “Not that I care, just wondering where he’d be going since he doesn’t live or work here anymore.”

“I think he said something about visiting some friends.”

“What is that? Code for an early morning booty call?”

“Tess, if you want him, then go for it, okay?”

“What? I don’t want his short ass!” she denied.

“Okay,” Maria said sweetly, “then we don’t have to talk about him anymore.”

Tess started to say something else and then realized that if she stayed on the Kyle topic that she’d eventually be forced to admit that she had way too many conflicted feelings where he was concerned.

“Liz called earlier; it’s just gonna be the two of us.”

“What?”

“Kara’s sick.”

“But she’s okay, right? I mean, should we stop by the house and check on her or anything?”

“No, she’s just running a fever. That happens now and then with young children, but I think it’ll be okay tomorrow.”

“Okay, good. The last thing they need to deal with right now is a seriously sick kid.”

“You think Max and Liz have problems?” She was pretty sure they were, but wanted to hear Tess’ opinion.

“I think they’re havin’ a rough time and they’re tryin’ to hide it from the kids. Like most parents, they seem to think if they act like everything’s normal they can fool everyone around them. The kids aren’t stupid though.” She bit her lip, debating if she was breaking any of the kids’ confidences. “They know something’s wrong with their parents, Maria.”

Maria nodded. That made sense. “Kids usually do.” Maria parked the car in the parking area next to the bar.

“Do you have to leave early or anything to pick Andy up?”

“No, the twins were meeting up with a friend and his dad will drive them home.”

“Cool, so no mom curfew tonight.” Tess grinned. “Let’s party, girl!”

“Promise me that tonight isn’t just about men, Tess.”

Tess rolled her eyes. “It’s never just about men, girl! They’re like expensive sports cars; you take them off of the lot and take them for a ride every now and then and afterwards you turn the keys over to someone else.” She grinned unrepentantly. “Seriously, I really just wanted us to hang out, Maria.”

“Uh-huh,” Maria said doubtfully.

“Seriously,” she promised.

*****

Andy shoved his ticket stub in his pocket and quickly located his cousins near the concession stands. “Yeah, I know,” he muttered when Nick glanced at his watch, “I’m late. Mom took her sweet time getting ready.” He looked around. “I thought we were meetin’ up with a friend of yours? Sam, right? So, where’s he at?”

“Bathroom,” Justin muttered with a glance at his brother.

Nick bit back a grin and nodded.

“Who’s in the bathroom?” Sam asked when she came back to the twins with a large bucket of popcorn.

Andy stared at the girl who had just joined them and he hurried to close his mouth when he realized it was hanging open.

Justin grinned as he looked over Sam’s shoulder. “We’re waitin’ for our friend Sam. Our cousin Andy doesn’t know what he looks like.”

Sam slapped the back of his head and rolled her eyes. “Hey, Andy, I’m Sam and as you’ve probably already noticed, I’m a girl.”

The twins roared with laughter when Andy made an inarticulate sound and continued to stare at her. “You’re Sam?” he asked when he finally found his voice. He was doing his best to ignore the blush heating his cheeks at his embarrassing behavior.

“The one and only.”

“So, you’re datin’ one of these losers?”

“You serious?” she asked, feigning surprise as she winked at the twins.

Justin draped one arm across her shoulders and pulled her up against his side. “She’s afraid of breakin’ Nick’s heart,” he said as he grabbed a handful of her popcorn.

“Don’t listen to him,” Sam said and grinned at Justin.

“Ignore both of them,” Nick advised. “They can flirt or fight at the drop of a hat, so get used to it.” He rolled his eyes. “It is kind of annoying, but after a while you won’t even notice it anymore.”

“That bad, huh?” Andy asked with a smirk.

“Yeah, if I didn’t know better I’d think they were datin’.”

Too bad, Andy thought as he glanced at Sam again.

“My dad would have a cow if I started datin’ one of you guys,” Sam snorted. She nudged Justin with her elbow. “Especially you.”

“Our dad wouldn’t even notice,” Nick said.

“Hey,” Sam said softly as she handed the popcorn to Justin and reached out to wrap her free arm around Nick’s waist. “Things are gonna get better, Nicky.”

Andy rolled his eyes. He wasn’t here to talk about parents. What’d they have to complain about? At least they still had a father.

“You’ve been talkin’ to your dad again, huh?” Nick asked, well aware that her dad had a very positive outlook on life.

“I think I’ll get some popcorn, too,” Andy said, even though he wasn’t really in the mood for it. He just needed to get away for a few minutes.

“Maybe we should lay off the dad talk for a while,” Sam suggested.

“Yeah.” Nick glanced at Andy.

“We can’t just act like we don’t have dads,” Justin said. “I mean, I feel for the guy, but, we still have our dad.”

“But that doesn’t mean we have to talk about it right now,” Sam said. She didn’t want any of them to feel uncomfortable.

“Well, alright... the movie’s about to start anyway.”
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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In The Course Of A Lifetime (CC, AU, Adult)Part 10 - 1/3/10

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:16 am

mary mary: Andy has definitely found an ally. Kara may get them to thinking. Tess is definitely going to keep things interesting.

Earth2Mama: Sam and Andy will definitely get closer as the story unfolds. Hmmm… what’re you thinkin’?

LOL, we can understand your attitude towards Max… he does need a good beating.

Kara’s gonna be fine – it’s nothing serious. Poor little girl, she knows something’s wrong but she doesn’t understand it.

Oh, we’ll see soon!

keepsmiling7: The kids always come first and Liz would never go out while one of them was sick. Things will be fixed between Max and Liz.

Natalie36: Max will definitely be kicking himself.

Maiqu: We think you’re right about Sam and Andy.

Eva: Sam does have a lot of her dad in her.

The kids are an important piece of this puzzle and they’re gonna help bring their parents back together.

begonia9508: Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you really wake up and see the damage you’ve done.

sarammlover: They definitely needed a girls’ night out. Things will get better for Max and Liz, but it’s going to take time.


Part 10

Michael decided to walk the short distance between his house and the bar where he had agreed to meet Kyle. He had been surprised when his friend from college had called him earlier that day and told him that he was in town. They hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years and he hadn’t yet made any friends in his new town, so he was really looking forward to the promised guy’s night. He pushed the door to the bar open and entered the large room, which was already crowded with people.

“Hey, Guerin, you up for a game?” a man called out to him and pointed at the pool table.

“Nah, not tonight,” he hollered back. Clint Hudgins was his next door neighbor and they had met up for a beer and a game of pool on a few occasions. He glanced around until he finally located Kyle sitting at the bar... in the company of two girls. Of course, he thought and rolled his eyes as he made his way towards them. “Agent Valenti,” Michael greeted him with a smirk.

Kyle turned and grinned at his friend. “Counselor Guerin, how’s it goin’?”

“Fine... so far.” He shot a quick skeptical glance at the women next to Kyle.

Kyle grinned at his friend’s suspicious look. “Michael, meet my date Amber,” he said, motioning at the blond on his right. “And this lovely lady on my other side is Jenny, your date for the evening.”

I’m gonna kill him, he thought and forced a smile as he turned to his date. “So, Jenny is it?”

She giggled and brushed her blond hair back. “Hi!” she greeted enthusiastically and popped her bubble gum.

“So, should we go on over and grab a table?” Michael asked and nodded to his left.

Kyle nodded and bit back a grin when Jenny latched onto Michael’s right arm and immediately started talking his ear off.

“You’re gonna pay for this, Valenti,” Michael hissed quietly so the women wouldn’t hear the threat.

He lost control and grinned widely. “But it’s gonna be sooo worth it,” he laughed.

“So, when you say you’re a counselor... is that like a therapist?” Jenny giggled as they sat down. “There’re so many kinds of therapists... marriage, family, sex... which one are you?”

Michael inwardly rolled his eyes. “I’m a guidance counselor at the high school.”

“Oh.” She seemed to ponder that for a moment. “Well, that must be boring, bein’ in school all day with a bunch of kids.”

“Not really,” he said. “What d’you do?”

“I’m the receptionist at the local radio station.” She nodded with a serious expression. “It’s a very important position; I have to screen all the calls.”

“Nooo,” Michael said ironically.

“Oh, it is!” Her eyes widened. “Just yesterday – “

Kyle cleared his throat when the waitress stopped at their table, thankfully interrupting Jenny’s update on the happenings at her job.

By the time the waitress had taken their orders and left again the receptionist had forgotten all about her topic.

“So, how long are you gonna be in town?” Michael asked Kyle.

“Not really sure. Takin’ care of some family business,” he answered, keeping it vague because he wasn’t interested in sharing details with their dates.

Great, so they had to keep their conversation impersonal and low-level. The night was shaping up to be a whole lot of fun, Michael thought sarcastically. Yeah, he was a guy and he enjoyed getting laid, but he had reached a point in his life where he wanted so much more than the occasional empty one-night stand.

“So, how’re things goin’ at work?”

“It’s goin’ good. I’m still getting to know most of the kids.”

“And Isabel? How’s she doin’? I haven’t been able to catch up with her since I got back.”

“Well, the principal job really fits her.”

Kyle snorted. “Well, a position that holds any kind of power would be fittin’ for her.”

Michael chuckled. “Yeah. Now she can tell lots of people what to do.”

*****

Liz watched Kara as she slept. The medicine had allowed the fever to begin to break and also helped her to get some rest and she was pretty sure that it wasn’t anything serious. Her thoughts drifted to Maria and Tess, who where probably already at the bar right now.

She had been looking forward to a night out with them, but on the other hand it was probably better this way. Not just because of Kara, but also because of Max. She knew he hadn’t liked the thought of her spending too much time with Tess.

She leaned forward to place a soft kiss on Kara’s forehead, careful to avoid waking her up again. She smiled a little as she remembered the day they had brought Kara home with them a few years ago.

Liz climbs on the bed next to Kara and gently brushes her hair back from the chubby, tear-stained cheeks. The little girl had been crying for several hours after they had picked her up from the children’s home earlier and was now sleeping, mostly from exhaustion. She glances up when Max opens the door quietly, carrying a glass of water with him.

He crosses the room that they’ve spent the past few weeks decorating and furnishing, preparing it for their little girl’s arrival. “How’s she doin’?” he asks as he sits next to Liz and rubs her leg. “Poor kid must be exhausted.”

“Yeah, she went to sleep a little while ago. We’re still strangers to her, Max, even if we’ve visited her a lot lately. It’ll take a while for her to get used to her new surroundings.”

“She’ll be fine. The boys already love ‘er,” he says, smiling as he thinks back over the twins’ reactions to the little girl. “I know it’ll take time for her to settle in, but this’s much better for her than that children’s home.” He shakes his head. “I can’t imagine kids growin’ up feelin’ safe an’ happy there.”

Liz nods and sits up to take the glass of water from him. “Yeah, it’s so... cold there. It didn’t feel like a home.”

“No, it didn’t,” he muses quietly as he reaches out to run his fingertips over her cheek. “It was a good decision... to adopt. I’m glad we decided to go ahead with it.”

Liz’ eyes water at her husband’s confession. She leans her head against his shoulder and takes a deep breath.

Max’ hand slips around to cradle the back of her neck. “I know you wanted another baby, Liz, but the risk...” He swallows hard and nearly chokes on the words that he can’t force past his throat.

She places her hand on his chest. “Yeah, I know,” she whispers, remembering her pregnancy with the twins and all that she had been through.

“The pregnancy with the twins... it almost...” He can’t say the words, not even after all these years. “I almost lost you,” he whispers harshly. “I don’t think I could survive that a second time.” The twins had been born early, almost too early, and the doctors had warned him that he could lose all three of them due to the complications.

For weeks he had practically lived at the hospital and once Liz had been well enough to go home she had been put on bed rest for several more weeks and it had been almost another two months before the twins had been released from the hospital.

Liz snuggles closer against her husband. “I love you, Max.”

“Love you, too,” he whispers gruffly and wraps his arms around her tightly.


Liz glanced up when the door to Kara’s bedroom opened quietly and Max came inside. “She’s finally sleeping,” she told him in a hushed voice.

He nodded. “You want me to sit with her for a while? You’ve gotta get up early tomorrow.”

I wish you had just asked me if you could join me instead of that, Liz thought as she avoided his gaze and looked at the little girl. “Yeah, I still need to shower.”

Max didn’t know what to say when he heard the disappointment in her voice. Somehow he had just asked the wrong question and screwed up... again.

“If she wakes up again then try to make her to drink something.”

He bit back the words balanced on the tip of his tongue and took her place when she stood up.
“Is there anything I need to do tomorrow? Anything the kids have scheduled that I need to know about?”

“The twins said they’d go to the park with Kara, but I’m not sure she needs to go anywhere tomorrow. So, other than making breakfast for them...” She thought about it for a moment. “Nothing that I can think of, no.”

Max brushed Kara’s hair back and rested his palm on her forehead for a moment, relieved when she didn’t feel as warm as she had earlier. “Alright, I’ll take care of it.” There had been a time when neither of them went anywhere on Sunday mornings because it was the one day when they didn’t have anything going on and it gave them a chance to just enjoy a relaxing morning with the kids.

“Okay, I shouldn’t be home that late. Maybe around 3 or 4 pm.”

Max nodded wordlessly and wondered just how sad it was that this was one of the most civil conversations they’d had since his brother’s funeral.

Liz stared at them for several more seconds. She wanted to say something else, but what? And why should she? She had been trying to hold her family together for months now and she was tired.

“I’ll come get my stuff once her temperature’s back to normal.” He had deferred to her wishes the night before and slept in the guest room despite his declaration that he was sleeping in his own bed. It wasn’t what he had wanted to do, but he was tired of arguing, and if he had refused they would’ve only ended up fighting.

“Okay,” Liz whispered quietly. She hadn’t meant to kick him out of their bedroom for longer than a single night and now she didn’t know how to change it back. She left the room before he could see the tears in her eyes and headed for the bathroom.

Max sighed when she left without an invitation to return to their bedroom. He leaned back against the headboard and ran his hands over his face. How had things come to this point?

*****

Maria and Tess had found an empty table at the end of the bar earlier and they had just gotten their second round of drinks from two men who were sitting at the bar, trying to flirt with them.

“Tess, we shouldn’t accept these drinks. They’ll think we’re interested in them,” Maria complained.

Tess rolled her eyes. “We’re accepting a drink, Maria, not an engraved invitation to find out whether they wear boxers or briefs.”

“Uh-huh,” Maria said doubtfully. “If they come over then you can have both of them.”

“Oh, honey, I don’t want either of them; the tall one’s wearing a toupee and the other one is either recently divorced or pretending to be single.”

“See, they’re ...” She glanced at them again and shook her head. “Ungh. Besides that, Tess,” Maria turned serious, “the last thing I’m looking for right now is a man.”

“Okay, but... and I know this is completely personal information, but...” She lowered her voice. “Don’t you miss sex?”

Did she miss sex? Hell, of course she missed that, she couldn’t even say when she’d had sex the last time, but it was so much more than that. Maria nodded and decided to be honest. “Of course I do, Tess. But it’s not only the sex, okay? I... I miss so much more than that.”

“So, tell me about it.” Tess could sense Maria’s hesitation and she shrugged. “I just got out of my last relationship a while back.”

“I guess you broke up with him, huh?”

“Well, I’ve been tellin’ everyone that I broke up with him, but that’s really now how it went down.”

“How long were you together?”

“Almost four months... not exactly a lifetime or anything, but I thought it was starting to go somewhere.”

“And what happened?” Maria took a sip of her drink and ignored the smiling guys at the bar who were trying so hard to catch her eye.

Tess sighed. “I don’t know.” She sighed. “Well, I do know... what happened is Maryann Roberts.”

Maria looked at her in surprise. “He cheated on you?”

“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “I could deal with it if he had just dumped me for another woman, but Maryann used to be Marvin, so, that one stung a little bit, y’know?”

Maria almost choked on another sip as she tied to avoid laughing, but after a few minutes she burst and started to giggle uncontrollably. “Sorry.”

Tess rolled her eyes. “It’s much funnier now than it was when he dumped me.”

“Uh, yeah,” Maria fought to get serious again, “I can imagine.”

“Okay, to be honest, it was only really funny after a lot of tequila and seein’ Marvin in a strapless dress.”

“Oh, my god, I’m really sorry, Tess. That’s kind of really weird.”

“It’s okay, they can have each other. I know I look a helluva lot better in a dress and high heels than Marvin did.” She shuddered comically.

“But I’m guessing this guy wasn’t the last one you had sex with, huh?” Maria asked knowingly.

“Oh, hell no. It was just that I kinda liked him... a lot.”

Maria nodded. “Thought so.”

Tess shrugged. “No matter. I mean, it sucked because, seriously? I got dumped for a guy! But, I guess it’s better to know now than later.”

“True.” Maria held her breath when one of the men at the bar started to move towards them, but luckily he veered off at the last second and went to the restroom.

“So, feel like sharing?” Tess pried gently.

Maria shrugged. She felt uncomfortable with this topic, especially since Andrew had been Tess’ brother. How would she react? “It’s something I’ve never told anyone before, Tess.”

Tess could hear the undertone of worry and uncertainty in Maria’s voice and she leaned forward to rest her hand over her sister-in-law’s clenched fists. “What is it, Maria? I mean, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” She barely made it five seconds before she was contradicting herself. “What? What is it? You can tell me.”

Maria had almost laughed about Tess’ impatience, and probably would have if she hadn’t had to think about how to start this. Well, actually, there was no way to start it in a good way. She took a deep breath. “Andrew and me, we had problems.”

“Bad?”

“I don’t know how to explain it... we drifted apart, it was like we were becoming more and more like strangers with every passing day.” Maria stared down at her hands nervously. Maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to talk about this in a bar.

Tess stared at her, shocked. She’d been to visit them many times because she and Andrew had been close, but she had never suspected. “I’m so sorry, Maria.” Just last summer she had been to visit them and Andy had confided that things felt off with his parents, that it seemed like his dad was spending more time traveling, and she had reassured him that there was nothing for him to worry about.

“It wasn’t that we fought very often or anything. We both knew that it was happening and we couldn’t really do anything about it. Our interests, what we wanted... they suddenly seemed so different, like we were just growing further and further apart.”

“But you still loved each other.” She couldn’t have been that far off base, right?

“We still cared about each other...” Maria shook her head. “We loved each other, but love... not really in a romantic way anymore.”

Tess didn’t know what to say to that. “I... I wish that I had known...” How lame was that, dumbass? What would you have done?

“I didn’t want anyone to know at that time, Tess, and neither did Andrew.”

“I just can’t believe he didn’t tell me.”

Maria shrugged. “I guess he didn’t want anyone to know either and we both wanted a good, stable home for Andy.”

Tess forced a smile. Damn, how had she not seen that? “I wish I could’ve helped, Maria.”

“We wanted to have a second kid a few years ago,” Maria suddenly blurted out.

“You changed your mind?”

Maria shook her head sadly. “No...” she glanced at Tess sadly, “it just... it didn’t work.”

“What’s that mean, it didn’t work?”

“I didn’t get pregnant.”

“Why? I mean, it obviously couldn’t have been from lack of trying. Right?”

Maria laughed quietly as a tear rolled down her cheek. She wiped it away quickly. “No, the sex wasn’t a problem, Tess.”

“So, it just didn’t happen? Why?”

“I don’t know. We both went to the doctor for a checkup but they told us that everything was fine and we should just try to relax and it would happen eventually.”

“So, how long did you guys try before you gave up?”

Maria shrugged. “I don’t know... a long time. But nothing happened and we started to believe that it just wasn’t meant to be... we weren’t even together very often that last year.”

“Oh.” What exactly did one say to that kind of admission? she wondered. ‘I’m sorry’ just seemed wrong somehow.

Maria sighed. “Now I’m kinda glad it didn’t happen though.”

“Because you’d be raising two kids on your own?”

Maria nodded, new tears glistening in her eyes. “It’s hard enough trying to get through to Andy right now. I can’t imagine having to look after two kids right now... You know... I had already started thinking about moving back to Roswell before Andrew’s accident. I felt so lonely most of the time, even when he was there. But now that he’s gone, I just… I wish he was here. Andy was so close to his father and it was so hard for him to lose him.”

“Yeah,” Tess laughed quietly, “it was pretty obvious from before he could even walk that he was gonna be a daddy’s boy. I know he’s had a difficult time with this, Maria... you both have, but you’re gonna get through this. We all are.”

Maria smiled and wiped her tears away again. “This really isn’t a conversation for a bar.”

“Says who? We can discuss anything we wanna discuss.” She smiled, knowing that Maria needed a subject change. “Okay, it’s time for us to see if there're any good-looking men in Roswell.”

“You must’ve been talkin’ about me,” a male voice said from behind them.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas


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