“She’s sixteen?” Max asked as if to agree, but also to state it with amazement, as he murmured “Liz works too much?”
“Yeah, given the time that Olivia and the cloud she was born under. Liz tried to pick up the piece and go to school and get her degree. She made it into medical school, and she is now a doctor working in her own practice. During those years, our parents and Jeff and Nancy, and they still do, but of course Olivia is now sixteen and she has always been more independent because of the nature of dealing with living with a working parent. So, Liz cannot be there for her daughter as much as she would like. And even when she does, well, Olivia is a teen girl, and they rebel…”
“They do,” Max murmured as he remembered back to that time. And how Liz had gone against her parents to see him, and he wondered sometimes what if they had been forced to split, and they hadn’t tried again, but then he couldn’t live his life knowing he didn’t have Liz’s love in his life, and now knowing they had created something so precious. It led to a lot of conflicting feelings and yet to see that his wife was able to achieve her dreams and was now a doctor. Which was something he had always wanted for her. He did not want to be the reason why she could not do something.
“So, she and Alex, they are getting serious?” Max asked as he did not like this entrance into parenthood, and the fact she was now her own person. Hearing Isabel say that his daughter was influenced by not having a father, it did not make it easy to hear or to know that his sister was, right, he had changed many of a life when he chose to confess. Max knew he didn’t regret it because I was preventing too much from happening but still it didn’t make it easy to know he had made things difficult for his wife, and she had taken too much of the burden in raising their daughter without him being there.
“In some ways, too serious” Isabel murmured.
“Oh,” Max said taking the hint, and he did not like that feeling You were not there Max, so you can’t have an opinion because being a absentee parent doesn’t give you a right.
“They have been dating since they were fourteen. In the early days, it was easy, and just two teenagers spending time together, but now, it has progressed, and it is not easy on your wife, or Michael and Maria to know. But they cannot stop it. Because they are afraid of what they might do if they step in, and Liz is guided by what happened with the two of you?”
“Right,” Max acknowledged as he remembered how much Jeff Parker had disapproved of their relationship after Utah, and how Liz had rebelled to be able to spend time with him, and it makes it hard to say no to the actions of your own children if you ignore sanity to be with your boyfriend after you robbed a convenience store and was nearly sent to prison, but had done time in jail.
Isabel knew both Max and Liz could not help but remember their trials while dating. “They are both good kids. In a lot of ways Olivia is very much like the both of you, and she’s going places because she has a lot of ambition, just like her mother, but still she can’t help herself, and Alex is a teenage boy so he’s not going to show much restraint,” she laughed. “Liz is trying. She and Olivia are super close, but still…”
“She can’t be there?” Max asked.
“Nope,” Isabel shook her. “Someone has to pay the bills?”
“She was so confident to come here of all places, and act like she didn’t have a worry at all” Max commented as he still remembered his encounter. “She didn’t think her mother would be happy” he asked of his wife. “She didn’t want Olivia to see me, right?”
“She wasn’t,” Isabel admitted. “But given what Olivia did find out about you, the lectures were shelved”
“The guard told her, didn’t he?” Max asked. “I saw on his face the glee in finding out Olivia was my daughter,” he murmured as he thought of the parts of his life that he didn’t want his daughter knowing and knew it was going to be hopeless. “Does she hate me?”
“She did have some strong opinions because she was able to do research and was able to find out some of the gory details but without any context to the what might be other side of the story,” Isabel admitted. “It’s 2019. The way of the world is different than it was twenty years ago. Violence against women is deplored regardless of motivation or consent. So, last I heard Liz has been giving your daughter a glimpse into the past…”
“She is?” Max asked surprised. “Why?”
“So that your daughter doesn’t look at you as a monster who attacked her mother, and almost killed her…” she muttered And, to prevent any traipsing down similar paths maybe…
“God,” Max sighed as he hated himself, and still tortured himself over those memories of what he had done as Clayton, and how his soulmate had come so close to losing her life at his hands, and if he hadn’t brought out the energy field, than she might have been dead, and he might have killed her.” I would want to be dead if that were have happened. And maybe I would have, if Liz had not survived and kissed me, and brought me back. We might have both been dead, and it would have gone down at my hands. My family would have had to live with that.
He hated his life.
“In some ways to Olivia, she can look past the massacre even if you were guilty of that. But violence against her mother, that took everything to different level.”
“I never wanted to hurt Liz,” Max said quietly. “The last thing I would do was ever lay a hand on her, if I was in my right mind” he murmured. “I would want to be dead if I had been successful. And I am in this place because of it so yeah, I still live to regret those times, and how even earlier I reacted in the wake of Alex’s death with you…”
“I am past that Max,” Isabel murmured as she thought back to those times when Tess had gotten into Max’s mind and change his behavior in some ways, and the way he reacted was so not typical for her brother. “We all were acting badly during that time” she sighed as the door opened and Michael came back in. “Important call?”
“Yeah,” Michael murmured.
“They are going to bust this talk shortly,” Max murmured. “So, do you think I have a chance?” he asked. “My case…”
“It’s not going to be easy,” Isabel murmured. “We have no proof that Tess is guilty except a photograph and our own knowledge. You confessed. You probably could get time served on the other charge that relates to Liz. But the army base explosion and massacre, that is going to be tough to do unless we can prove you weren’t there…”
“I wasn’t,” Max muttered. “I was with Liz part of that day until Mom invited us to dinner to talk about that videotape. Then Tess showed up with the baby, obviously having committed the first burst of violence at the base” he sighed. “She even admitted it to me, and Jim and Kyle are proof that they were initially looking for a blonde girl, who had disappeared with the baby?”
“Liz is someone you stand convicted of attempting to kill. And because she is married to you, she can’t testify against you, but they aren’t going to take her assurances that you were nowhere near the base when Tess first showed up because she can’t say for sure that you weren’t there” she sighed. “You were living on your own, and it was the middle of the night, and she went home after she dropped off Tess, and experienced the explosion. It was the middle of the night, and everyone was asleep…”
“I saw the spaceship crash,” Michael murmured as flashes popped into his brain of those days because he had been himself sullen and annoying to be around because he was dealing with the side effects of his time having been engrained with the seal once Max had died, and come back to life. He had not taken well to the resurrection of his best friend who he had seen turn into ash, and to know his best friend was now back in a new body. The adjustment period had been just as rough for him as it was for Max. So, he was alienating everyone and was just out for a ride on his bike when he saw a flash of a ship crashing, and then also a army base planet going down, and he weas forced onto a mission to save that the human pilot from the Special Unit because the pilot had seen too much in the days before Tess created ultimate carnage by killing people at the base. “We know the government lied…” he muttered. “They knew it was a UFO ship?”
“Your son was at the scene, but he was a baby so he’s not a useful witness” Isabel sighed as Max was forced to think of the child he had put up for adoption. “Michael and I have been looking at the case since you first went to prison Max, and it’s very tough because the government won’t want to help us, and they wanted you convicted in the first place” she sighed. “Unless we find proof?”
“So, let’s take some tentative steps” Max asked. “First though, I want to see Liz. Can you get me permission?”
“The court won’t like it…” Isabel muttered. “It will be something for them to fight.”
“She’s my wife. If she wants to see me. Should they not allow it?” he asked. “I am allowed overnight visits with my spouse. I haven’t asked for it all these years, but aren’t I allowed this privilege?”
“One of your convictions relate your wife. So, they might say no.”
“Ask Liz if she wants to see me,” Max asked praying that his wife did want to see him as desperately as he wanted to see her. “Tell her that I am sorry for staying away, and hurting her but I do want to see her if would come and see me…”
“I’ll will check with her,” Isabel murmured because she did sense Liz would want to see Max, despite it being almost seventeen years. Sometimes your heart will not stop loving despite the years that have gone by, she mused as the door open and the guard came in and ending their discussions. “I’ll deal with what I have to on my end and will be back within a few days,” Isabel murmured as she hugged her brother who gladly took the hug because he had missed it, and missed the connection to those he had loved. “I need you to stay safe, okay?”
“I will,” Max nodded and acknowledged Michael who nodded as he watched them walk out before the guard came back and escorted him back to his cell and he felt the coldness of the room as the cell bars opened, and then closed on him, and he looked around and it became clear that he wanted out of this place.
He needed to see his wife and daughter again…
Meanwhile Liz’s tale and wild journey into the past was interrupted by a phone call. “Yeah, I understand. I’ll meet you two there, as I don’t think there is much to worry about but yeah, you don’t want to be on the safe sound,” she murmured as she looked at her daughter and knew it was another night of working to late, and getting home late into the night. No wonder her daughter was in the state that she was, given how independent Olivia was.
You cannot pressure her to spend time with her grandparents when she has her driver’s license and can pick up her boyfriend and go anywhere their heart desires. She remembered that time. She remembered how she would get into Max’s car on a split-second notice and they would leave the state on missions, and while they were not reckless in their intimacy until they were older and committed despite close calls. Still they had engaged in dangerous activities together, and she was not stupid or hypocritical to call her daughter out on it when she had done the same stuff, with more lasting implications back when she was sixteen herself. As she hung up, she turned to her daughter. “Um…”
“I know, you have to go to work?” Olivia muttered.
“Yeah,” Liz nodded. “I am sorry, it’s an emergency and I promise to meet a patient at the hospital. They might be overcautious, but I know the daughter has been having issues lately, so I need to check up on it.”
“Go ahead,” Olivia mumbled.
“I’ll try to be home as soon as I can, okay?” Liz asked. “Please stay home will you. I don’t want to worry about you driving around town in the dark.”
“Yes Ma’am” Olivia sighed, and Liz paused because she could see the wariness in the teenager’s eyes, and knew that look well, because she had felt the same way many years before…
“I do love you; you know…” Liz murmured as she glanced into her daughter’s eyes. “As you can obviously see from my story that we have to table until tomorrow that given the nature of my life as you’ve heard until now, it would easily be described as dramatic, and I don’t want that same drama to befall on you okay? So, yes, I might be a little overprotective, but I worry about you, and still I know you will make your choices. And you will have to live with the consequences of those choices. All I am asking is for you to be careful, okay?”
Olivia sighed but nodded because she still could not come to terms with how dramatic things had been for her parents. How could two people survive that kind of angst she mused to herself. But maybe they did not. Dad ended up in prison and Mom ended up with me, as a single mother as she again nodded and hugged her mother who gladly took the embrace, as soon Liz left the house, and Olivia was moments later looking for trouble by going to the phone and calling Alex and invited him over.
“When I drop you off, I’m headed over to Liz’s” Isabel murmured as she and Michael had not talked much on the drive home. The tension was thick in the car, because the pandora box of the past had been reopened and neither knew what it would mean because they both desperately wanted to succeed so that they could bring Max home.
Visiting Max in prison was a showcase how their lives had moved on, and his had stayed the same. As they married and had children. He grew older in a small cement cell with guards making sure he did not go anywhere he should not and monitoring his every move. It was no life to lead. And they had it easy. They found love and raised families and Max had not had that option. Even if Liz had told him about Olivia. Still the same would have happened. Forced behind cement walls and unable to come out, and now they had to figure out how to get him out when he confessed Tess’s crime, and there was no proof that she committed it.
And the only witness was a tiny baby.
“Sure,” Michael nodded.
“He’s lost a lot of weight?” Isabel murmured of her brother. “I can’t help but think he’s paying for crimes we all did at the time. Both of us should be in there with him, and yet he’s taking the brunt of it while we have been happy out here…”
“How can we prove that Tess did it?” Michael asked.
“I have no idea,” Isabel murmured as she drove back to the town they had grown up.
“That is wild,” Alex said as they sat in the living room of the home that she shared with her mother. She had known how much her mother had slaved to make it a home for her, after her early months of life was spent with her grandparents over the Crashdown. But when she was a year old, Liz wanted out of the small apartment. Since Maria and Michael were married, and had the twins, she could not room with them, so she found an apartment of her own, and saved money and worked through medical school and finally found the home of her dreams. It did not take being a rocket scientist to know how much her mother had sacrificed for her, and here she was on the catalyst of her own life changing situation.
She had just filled in Alex on some of the story, and what she had learned so far. She could not help but think of her situation more and more after days of trying to ignore the subject. She knew she had to come to terms with it.
“Alex…” Olivia murmured as her tone changed.
“It’s up to you,” Alex answered immediately as if he had some psychic connection into what she was thinking. They both knew her powers so far was mostly in her mind, as she was like her mother in many ways, and his was more physical. Still all of them seem to know when one of them needed help, and Alex knew what she had to be thinking. “I will totally support you, whatever you do or decide?”
“I am sixteen…” Olivia muttered.
“And I am almost,” Olivia acknowledged his sixteenth coming up within weeks. “We were reckless, but we did use protection.”
“Yeah, but I guess not everything is 100% safe” Olivia answered. “I hear what Mom and Dad went through, and we haven’t even gotten past the fact Dad has another kid besides me, and to think what both of them had to go through…”
“You don’t have to go through it alone,” Alex asked. “I am here…”
“I know,” Olivia sighed. “I do want something from my life, and yet I know this baby might be special. My brother was human or so they say, and that is why Dad decided what he did. But this baby is from both of us…”
“I think of my mother when she had me. She was 18. She did it the hard way. She could have very easily have gotten rid of me because Dad was in prison and she would have had to do it herself. She had the support sure, but it was all on her. Dad wasn’t letting her in, and even if she had told him, what kind of a father could he be behind prison walls, and someone I only saw when Mom took me to visit.”
“Your mother did take a chance,” Alex agreed.
“We have been together a long time now, but I don’t know if we are long-term potential. Do you?” Olivia asked.
“I love you…” Alex murmured. “I can’t know what our future is but if you decide to go forth with the baby, then I will help out. And even if one day we cannot continue, I will always be there for you and the baby. You are someone special to me, and I don’t want that to end, just because something lasting came from us being together.”
“I love you too,” Olivia murmured as they kissed. “But we haven’t gone through nearly as much as Mom and Dad did before I came along. I have always lived in the moment because the long term is so fluid. Everything changes, and life has never been kind to Mom or me. Sure, I have a loving family. But I did not have my Dad. Mom did not have the man she loves. To this day she loves him. No matter what he might have done, or to her, still she loves him.”
“We’re still young…” Alex admitted. “Who knows what the future will be” he muttered. “None of us can know?”
“Oh god, I wish I could see the future, and know what to do” Olivia murmured. “So, I think I’ll continue to live in the moment and divert this decision to some other time,” she sighed but knew she did have to decide, and soon…
“What do you want to do?” Alex asked.
“Mom’s going to be late. I know this patient is going to require time because she doesn’t get called to the hospital unless it’s an emergency, so how about we go and have some fun and talk later,” she smiled and led Alex upstairs to her bedroom, and slammed the door behind them as she was prepared to live in the moment, and leave the dreaded questions to another time.
“Where are the kids?” Michael asked as arrived at home and saw Maria walking towards him with a beer. Isabel and he had dropped off and picked up some pizza on the way back from the prison. “It’s quiet?”
“I prefer it quiet because who knows what will happen if there is mayhem” Maria sighed. “Amelia is out with friends at a movie and Alex is…” she sighed, and Michael knew the answer.
“With Olivia?” Michael wondered as if he did not know where his son was although it surprised him because he did not think Liz would let his son near her daughter if she was given the choice. “Where’s Liz?”
“Called into work,” Maria sighed. “I don’t know Michael about those two, I really don’t” she sighed. “I wish they would quit given they have bigger matters to deal with but…”
“But they want to be together,” Michael asked. “Who are we to stop them? They already have the weight of the world on them, regardless of what they choose. We have seen what happens when we try to prevent two people from being together. They have had it easier than us, until now, and there is reason why it could not continue to be an easier ride. All of the kids deserve an easier life…”
“What do we do about that other matter?” Maria muttered as she was forced to reconcile the subject that neither of them were prepared to or wanted to discuss.
“All we can do is support them, and hope they make the decision that enables them to handle the consequences of it, now and in the future” he allowed. “I am only glad we never had to deal with this kind of decision when we were their age.”
“If we had, what would you have done?” Maria murmured as she faced her husband. “I know Max dealt with it later, in a whole other manner with
Tess and then Liz, but she was married by then. If it had happened with us…”
“You could have counted on me,” Michael murmured “I would have still been with you”.
“Would you?” Maria asked. “Come on Michael. We were seesawing so wildly when we were their age. When we did sleep together, well, you had one foot off this planet?” she muttered as she wanted to remind him that he did even tell him of his leaving until after they had ended up in bed, but did not mention it.
“But I ultimately stayed, did I not?” Michael declared, of his choice to stay even before the truth about Tess was found out and it allowed Maria to smile and nodded. “I wanted you. The question is whether you would have wanted me?” Michael asked. “I know what I brought to your life back then, sure you got pregnant shortly after Liz and we made it work with twins of all things, but still…”
“I loved you when I was fifteen and I love you today. I do not regret taking our chance. Yes, getting pregnant with the twins did force our hand” Maria sighed knowing that she was indeed pregnant when they got married. Given the upheaval in their group. She and Michael had eloped with her mother and Liz as their only witnesses in the wake of Max’s trial. Isabel was off the reservation dealing with the aftermath of losing her brother. Michael and Maria hadn’t wanted to wait until Isabel showed her face, and so they found themselves a priest, and yet neither of them regretted it, or wished for a better life because they knew did see the other side of it. Of how it could have been if they had not taken their chance.
“The kids,” Michael asked as he was forced to remember the life altering drama involving their son and Olivia.
“I guess you’re right, and we’ll help them deal with it,” Maria sighed and wanted to drop it, so she moved onto topic number two. “So, what happened with Max?” she asked. “Was his overture to Isabel serious?”
“Yeah it was,” Michael acknowledged as he was forced to deal with the other matter on his mind. “I’ve got to say that it was a jolt to the system to see him again after all these years. God, it was so bizarre. Because our lives have all gone on, and he has stayed the same, except he’s also older now.”
“It should never have happened” Maria muttered because while she had conflicting feelings about Max and his choices and how they affected her best friend, well, she did know that he took the bullet for all of them, and especially her husband and that prevented downright hatred for the guy because she knew what it would have meant if the government had gotten any of them, in Michael and Isabel, or even Liz for the matter.
“Well we all agree about that,” Michael sighed. “Regardless, he is asking for help. It seems that Olivia’s visit may have made him to realize what he’s missing…”
“He should have realized that years ago,” Maria muttered as she thought of all the pressure it had put on her best friend to step up the plate and be both father and mother to their daughter. “So, what now?”
“He wants to get permission to see Liz, alone…”
“Whoa,” Maria sighed. “Do you think the prison, or the court will agree to that” Maria asked. “They won’t be happy…” she asked as she envisioned a very unhappy government when they get the news. It might had stabilized over the years but still, things were not happy, and it was itching to be released once again.
“Which is why Isabel is going to see if Liz is interested in it, otherwise it might be a tough call” Michael sighed. “But prisoners are allowed the privilege, but most have to fight for it before they get it, so we’ll see…”
“About time he wanted to see Liz…” Maria sighed.
Isabel pulled up in front of the home that Liz and Olivia called home. She knew Max would proud of how the two were able to make this place a home, but a giant hole remained and that was that her brother could not be involved. Because he knew how much her brother and Liz loved each other, and how many arrows they got hit with, and it was a tragedy that their happy ending could not hold. So, she prayed that she could get help for her brother and bring him home to his wife and daughter.
That is if his wife wanted her husband home. Sometimes it was easier to be married on paper, instead of having the body in bed with you. Liz had spent sixteen years being a mother to Olivia alone, albeit with a lot of help along the way, and now Max wanted to come home to them, and Isabel needed to know what Liz would have to say about it.
Olivia’s visit had opened a can of worms that she prayed could be fully released. And yet she knew gaining Max’s freedom was not going to be easy. But she would not know until she took the step.
Parking her car, she got out. She did not see the car out front and knew sometimes Liz and Olivia shared the car now that Olivia was of driving age It makes me happy Maxine and Kate are too young for this stage of life.
She knocked on the door, rang the doorbell but did not get a response. “Maybe Liz had to go into work?” she wondered. “And who knows what Olivia is up to?” she asked of her niece. Still, she checked the door, and found it open.
Sighting she opened the door, “Liz, Olivia” she called out. “It’s Isabel, and I need to talk to you because it is important.”
Still nothing, Okay,” she sighed and was ready to leave and then she saw Alex’s skateboard which means he was in the house. Since he would not be leaving it at Olivia’s place and she knew he liked to use it, and the Guerin house was nearby.
“Oh damn,” Isabel muttered to herself as she walked upstairs and she knocked on her niece and goddaughter’s door before opening and then looking, and then closing it again. “I so didn’t need to see that…” she muttered to herself as she deeply sighed at her nieces’ quest to complicate her life.