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One More Time: Part 1

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Sent to the Roswell Slash Archive March 31, 2003


        Max walked into his astronomy class with a huge smile on his face. A sleepy-eyed Maria DeLuca raised an eyebrow and motioned for him to sit next to her. This had to be good. "What's with the ear-to-ear-smile that's making me want to puke?"

        "She talked to me last night." His smile grew even larger if that was possible.

        "She did? Oh. She did." Maria suddenly found herself awake. "So you're back together I gather?"

        "No. We're friends." He nodded his head up and down.

        "You do realize that is the kiss of death, right?" She sighed heavily and watched a cloud cross the amber eyes of her friend. "You didn't know?"

        "We were happy about this, Maria. She's been avoiding me since she got back from Florida. Liz and I agreed last night that we would be friends. I take it to mean that she misses me as much as I miss her. I'll take her friendship if that's all I can get." He turned back to his desk and stared at the supernova on the cover of his book that he had never gotten a book cover for.

        "Sorry. It's just that normally when a girl tells a guy she wants to be friends... that's when it is officially over. Now, granted that you and Liz have a rather unique relationship. Yes, this is good news... Max." Maria waited until he looked up at her. "Don't get your hopes up and don't push her. If it happens, it'll happen naturally. But... of course, if Michael can come around... so can Liz."

        Max glared at her smirk. "You are going to gloat about that forever aren't you?"

        "As long as I got him. Hell yeah!"

        "Good luck. Michael's not one to get attached." Max couldn't help but bring her down off her high horse.

        "Whatever. I know this already. He tells me all the time. Now, do you think you could kill Courtney for me?" Maria tilted her head at his shaking head until he relented.

        "Fine. I'll put it on my to-do list." He groaned and got up to get to his own seat before the bell rang.

--

        "Can you just not hang your bras on the shower rod?" Kyle Valenti pleaded with semi-new housemate, Tess Harding.

        "Where do you want me to hang them? Your dryer never works." Tess spun around and blushed when she realized that Max was at his locker a couple of lockers down and could have heard her.

        "I don't care but I don't want to touch them when I'm half asleep and have no clue what they are at seven in the morning." Kyle groaned. "And the pantyhose on the towel rack?"

        "God, Kyle. Fix the dryer and I'll consider doing something about it but until then, I'll hang my... delicates wherever I damn well please." Tess crossed her arms and stared at him. "Are we done? Is this a one-way thing? Can I complain about the incense?"

        "It frees the mind. It opens you up."

        "Can the Budd-" Kyle quickly cut her off with his hand.

        "I told you to watch saying that stuff in public."

        "Oh please. Hey Max." Tess saw him whip his head around. "What do you think of Buddha?"

        "I don't believe in God." Max said quietly and turned around.

        "Buddha is not a god." Kyle mumbled.

        "See. No one would even know what you're talking about." Tess rolled her eyes. "I doubt there are many Buddhists in Roswell."

        "Why are you guys talking about Buddhists, anyway?" Max asked, pulling a few books from his locker and then replacing them, having given up on waiting for Liz.

        "No reason." Kyle silenced Tess with a glare. "But that is a good question. If you guys don't believe in God, a god, or anything... What do you believe in?"

        "Never given it much thought." Max started walking, Kyle and Tess on his heels.

        "Then how do you know you don't believe in anything?" Kyle shook his head in confusion.

        "I just don't. I mean, I've studied religion as a hobby but none of it means anything to me. What about you Max?" Tess pulled Kyle along to catch up with Max's long strides.

        "I just don't think about it. With all that I am and am supposed to do... how can there be a god? I'm not staying that everyone else on the planet is wrong... I'm just staying that I don't. Isabel believes in God and I'm not going to tell her different..." Max sighed and turned to them. "Can we just not talk about this?"

        "Where are you eating lunch?" Tess tilted her head at him.

        "I was supposed to meet Liz to talk to her but she never showed... so I guess I'm going to the quad." He shrugged.

        "Okay. Let's go." Tess had pulled him through the doors, her arm looped through his, before he could protest. Kyle rolled his eyes and hoped that no one had seen him with the two of them. Tess pulled Max to the table where Isabel and Michael were already sitting. Upon seeing Tess, Isabel and Michael immediately went quiet. "Hey guys."

        "Hey." They chorused cautiously.

--

        Liz strolled through the halls lost in thought. That dream had just stayed with her. It was silly really. The end of the world had been caused by she and Max making love. Like that would even happen. She was only seventeen and a junior in high school. Sure, she had thought about it but not seriously. What the hell was that dream even supposed to mean?

        When she looked up, Tess was pulling Max into the quad. It stung, just a little; they were friends and Max was doing what he was supposed to. He was supposed to start seeing Tess. Now that Liz had told him that they were just friends, he could date Tess without a guilty conscience.

        Slowly, she walked out to the quad and sat at the table, next to Maria, who had sat next to Michael. This placed her at the other side of the table from Max. He immediately moved to the other end of the table. "Hi. Liz."

        "Hi." Liz managed a small smile then turned her attention to what Maria was telling her about what a heinous bastard Mr. Crulick was. Then Maria moved on to the magazine in front of her.

        "I'm telling you... Freddie Prinze, Jr. can cross my border any day." Maria was practically drooling over the full-page picture of the actor.

        "I prefer older guys. David Boreanaz is just..." Isabel sighed. "Well, I wouldn't mind taking a bite of that."

        "Isabel!" Max groaned and tried to focus on his lunch, ignoring the conversation that was getting the female attention at the table, including Liz's.

        "What? Like you don't drool over Christina Ricci." She shot back.

        "Just leave me out of this." He shook his head, catching the annoyed look in Michael's eye across the table. Neither one of them wanted to be witness to this conversation.

        "He just loves those doe-eyed damsels in distress." She jabbed once more before Liz cleared her throat.

        "Now, Skeet Ulrich..." Liz tilted her head at the magazine. "Now there's something to look at."

        "Oh yeah." Maria nodded at the abs proudly portrayed on page 30. She glanced at Max and noticed the expression on his face. He apparently didn't like to think that Liz could be attracted to anyone else... even people she would never meet like the men in the magazines.

        "Is that Ethan Embry?" Liz and Tess both jumped up at the same time when Maria turned the page. The two girls locked gazes for a split second, then turned away and sat back down, pretending they just hadn't both expressed interest in the same heartthrob.

        Silence covered the table. Maria idly turned the page. She and Isabel picked up their perusal of the magazine over Michael's lap, which annoyed him to no end. Liz noted how Tess looked so lost on the other side of the table. For the first time, she realized how much of an outsider the girl still was.

        "Tess, have you seen... 'Empire Records'? I really like him in that movie." Liz realized that Tess had never been included in a conversation that she didn't start.

        "He wasn't in that movie." Tess turned to look in Liz's general direction.

        "Yeah he was. It was under the name Ethan Randall but it was him. Let me tell you, major drugee but adorable as always." Liz smiled at the memory of the goofy guy and the brownie scene.

        "Isn't he though? I've loved 'Can't Hardly Wait'." Tess admitted with a small smile. Isabel and Maria quieted just enough to hear the conversation. Tess scooted down towards Max to hear Liz better. "And 'White Squall'?"

        "Oh My God!" They said together, laughing. "Wet shirts and muscles."

        "I think we have just entered the 'Twilight Zone'." Maria hissed to Isabel and Michael.

        "I think you're right." Isabel agreed.

        "Oh, they so could have done more flashbacks in Disturbing Behavior although... Nick Stahl and..." Liz trailed off to think of the actor's name. Then she and Tess remembered at the same time. "James Marsden!"

        "He is so hot. I couldn't think of his name but Max dragged me to 'X-Men'. Have you seen it?" Tess rambled on. "Anyway, total hottie even if Cyclops is so uptight."

        "Have you ever seen 'Bella Mafia'? My mom and I watched that movie over and over. He plays this Italian guy kinda literally born into the mafia. His name is Luka and oh! It's just an awesome movie." Liz finished, becoming aware of the stares she was getting from the others at the table. "What are you people staring at? Can we have a conversation like normal teenagers? Or is that something that we don't do anymore?"

        "Chill Parker." Michael muttered, receiving elbows in the ribs from both girls on either side of him. "Oof!"

        "Geez. Anyway, like I was saying..." Liz continued to tell Tess the story of 'Bella Mafia'. Max watched in wonder at this girl he loved. She was amazing. He knew that she wanted to hate Tess. Everyone knew that. He knew her train of thought though. If he and Tess started dating, it would be better if Liz were friends with the girl. Max would have to just get it through Liz's head that he was never going to be with Tess. "And it turns out that she killed her own son. Then her mafia of women poison all the male heads of the families. It's undetectable and untraceable. They like inherit the mafia."

        "Wow. Can I borrow it?" Tess was definitely interested in the movie.

        "Don't give her any ideas. Just because it worked in a movie doesn't mean it would work in real life." Michael complained.

        "I hadn't actually thought about it. Thanks Michael." Tess nodded sincerely. Only Liz caught the teasing light in the girl's blue eyes.

        "We should all get together and watch it." Liz suggested.

        "Liz..." Max caught her eye successfully that time. "I think it's time that you and I got around to that talk about us?"

        "Talk?" Tess inquired. She didn't want to push anybody but they did have a destiny that they shouldn't ignore.

        "It's nothing. I think Max just needs to know the ground rules where him and I are concerned. We've decided to just be friends and today's just been a little awkward, which is partly my fault." Liz patted his hand and nodded sympathetically. "We'll talk later... during our free period."

        "Okay. So long as we actually get to talk." Max nodded. He hadn't wanted to tell everyone like that but if Liz thought it was best, then he would go along with it.

--

        Tess sat next to Liz in study hall. "Hi."

        "Hey." Liz gave her a slight smile.

        "Can I ask you a question?"

        "Shoot." Liz knew she had to be wary but lunch had been so much fun.

        "Why are you being so nice to me?" Tess looked over the brunette next to her. "I know you don't like me. No one does..."

        "Let's put it this way. If I can only have Max as a friend... I have to look out for him. You're his... destiny... and we have to become friends or else everything is just going to fall apart. I just need him in my life." Liz sighed. She stared at her hands for a moment. "Let's just say that I realized today that I never gave you a chance."

        "Well, I did try to steal your boyfriend..." Tess trailed off with a slight smile. "Is Max really thinking of..."

        "No, but he will. I really think he will. You know how hard that is for me to admit." Liz's eyes clouded over for a moment. "That's why I tried to stay away from him and obviously that wasn't working. I can help you... if you want. No one knows him better than me."

        Tess tilted her head away, wary of Liz's intentions.

        "I just mean that I've been inside his head. I know how he thinks."

        "Thanks. I don't think anyone's ever been this nice to me before." Tess admitted.

        "Hey, it just goes to show that brilliant minds think alike... and are attracted to the same kind of men." Liz smiled, reminding them both of lunch.

        "I guess so. Anyway... if Max doesn't come around... oh well. I tried." Tess smiled back. Maybe having friends wouldn't be so bad after all.

--

        "Max..." Liz prodded. "What exactly do we need to talk about?"

        "Well. Just friends. I want to know what's acceptable, what's not." Max sank onto a lounge couch and waited to see where she sat. Placing her bag between them, Liz sat next to him. "I don't know how it works."

        "Okay... well. We can talk, do things together, hang out..." Liz shrugged her shoulders.

        "Like you and Alex."

        "Almost. I just can't be as comfortable with you as I am with him. He's not a threat to me." She tried to explain but could see that she was losing him.

        "I'm a threat?" Max's shoulders sank, dejectedly.

        "No... it's just... Where Alex is a girlfriend type guy... you can't be."

        "So it's like, Maria is alright with Alex being there while she changes, she's still not close enough to me to do that..." Max nodded his head in understanding. No way could he take sitting idly by while Liz changed in front of him. "Ok. I understand."

        "Good. Answer me this. Is it weird that me and Tess could possibly be getting along now?" Liz had already endured drills from Maria and Isabel. After study hall, Liz had seen no reason why the two couldn't bond over their affections and lack thereof for certain people.

        "It's odd but I'm sure everyone will get over it." Max sighed heavily. "You aren't like... gonna try to hook us up are you?"

        Liz dropped her gaze to her hands and raised her eyebrows. "Is that a problem?"

        "Yes!"

        "Max, really. Forget about it. From what I can tell, she's getting kinda fed up with you as it is." Liz shrugged. At least she didn't have to worry about them getting together. Having both as friends would be great.

        "What she said at lunch about me dragging her to 'X-Men'... that's not true." Max took her hand in his. "It's not."

        "Max..."

        "Listen. We all went to the movies together. All of us. I didn't want to watch chick flicks. Michael and I were sick of them so I convinced the girls one by one to watch it. I didn't take her to the movies." Max felt he couldn't press the point enough.

        "It doesn't matter, Max. You and I are friends. Just friends." Liz made no move to untangle his hand from hers. "I'm just trying to make this work. You and I cannot be together. We just can't."

        "Just don't walk away from me again. I couldn't take that."

Continue to part 2

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