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Stronger

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Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list January 18, 2001

Title: Stronger
Author: Livia
E-mail: livia001@hotmail.com
Author's Website: http://www.debchan.com/livia/library.html
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters.
Category: Slash, Max/Michael
Rating: NC-17
Archive: Yes to RSA.
Feedback: I welcome all feedback, especially constructive criticism.



I always make too much noise climbing up to Max's window. This time, though, he doesn't go for his baseball bat. Doesn't get up. Just lies there. Moonlight streaks his collarbone, paints him with a pallor that creeps me out. At first I think he's asleep, but then he turns his head on his pillow and croaks, "Michael. What is it now?"

If I didn't know him, I might be fooled. But I do. So I don't say anything; I just shut the window and kneel next to his bed. He turns his head to the wall, and I get to look.

It blows my mind. I swear it does. I can name a thousand reasons why most people are idiots. But one stands out of the crowd. It's that no one sees Max Evans. Not like I do. He combs his hair over his forehead, hunches his shoulders and he's just another geek. They don't see his eyes. They don't see the fire.

They wouldn't notice if it was gone.

I would notice. I have.

"It's late," says Max, but his voice wobbles and I know just how he feels, here in this room full of shadows. He's such a jerk. He made me talk about my pain, dragged it out of me when I would have just lived with it. And now he won't ask me for help. And I have to touch his face. I have to.

He stares at me for a second, then another. Then he closes his eyes again-- he always fights me, goddamn him. "Michael--"

"Shut up, Max." I climb onto the bed.

I know Isabel's room is on the other side of the wall. I know Mom and Pop Evans are just down the hallway.

I don't care.

My legs pin down the bedspread on either side of Max, and I clutch his arms, holding his shoulders. Eyes locked on his, I lower my mouth to his throat. And I almost kiss him, but I don't. I just breathe him.

"What are you doing?" he hisses, and I lean back, and his eyes have life in them.

I have one chance at this. "Max... just... See what you can see."

And I move again, taking his face in my hands, and I fit our mouths together.

I see stars. Blood. And I see Max with manacles cutting into his wrists and a needle in his arm, white shapes looming-- and then the flash is over and he's shuddering, panting into my neck, clutching my arms. "Don't. Michael..."

I don't know what I expected to see, if anything, but that wasn't it. Maybe Max needs to go back there, though. Maybe he needs to see it, to live it again, before he can leave it behind.

Maybe he could have talked about it with Liz. I was just starting to accept them, the fact of them, and the fact is, maybe she could have helped. But she's not here, and she may not be coming back.

So I kiss him again, and this time I put some force behind it. I can taste Max and I see the doctors again. They have masks over their mouths and scalpels in their hands. The scalpel bites into his flesh and he grunts into my mouth.

He's got a hard-on now. I can feel it through the blanket. Shock flares in his eyes as I move my hand, move past his blankets, reaching for him and finding him.

"Trust me, Maxwell."

He can't always be the leader.

"Oh please God," he gasps as I fondle him through the slit in his boxers.

I push his hair out of his face, and my mouth waters as I watch his throat work. "Thought you didn't believe in God?"

"I don't." His face contorts and he tips his head back on the pillow, still fucking fighting me. Fuck. Can I be the only one who's touched him since the White Room? Really touched him? "Michael. Don't make me- -"

"Shut up." I grip his dick, look into his eyes, and then I lower my head and kiss his cheek, just once, gently. "You gotta live, Maxwell."

He closes his eyes, presses his lips together, as I jerk him off, not gently. I don't know what he likes, but I know what works for me. A sound escapes his throat as he shudders, coming. Something spikes between us. Electricity. Almost pain. And then he relaxes utterly, lips parted.

"Oh my God," he says again, distantly, and laughs at himself. And maybe his laughter still isn't what it used to be, but I'll take it.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

After Max falls asleep, I climb out his window again, dropping to the lawn with a grunt. I glance back up at Max's window once, then turn to go. In all the times I've crashed at Max's for the night, I've never stayed till morning.

Now probably isn't the best time to start.

I crash for a few hours, then manage to drag myself out of bed to report for work at the Crashdown. We get the usual early-morning customers; truckers, people heading off to work outside Roswell, people who come in early to get the coffee when it's fresh and to avoid the tourists, who usually come in later in the day. The usual.

Oh, and Max.

I'm in the back working on a batch of eggs and sausage. The bell on the door jingles and I know it's him. The heat from the stove seems to suffuse the room, suddenly. And then he's there in the doorway.

"What do you want?" I look up. And all of a sudden I don't know what to do. I've always been the screwup, the rebel, the punk; no one's ever looked at me like this before. Max has never looked at me like this. It's weird, and I don't know if I like it or not.

"The scar is gone," he says, and moves into the kitchen, letting the door swing shut behind him.

"What?"

"The scar." Max jerks his baggy T-shirt up to his chin with one hand, almost angrily, and I stare. I felt the pain as they cut him, last night. I saw the blood on his shirt when we brought him home. "It's gone," he says, and I drag my eyes up from his chest to his face. "Michael..."

"Michael, I need that Scully Platter," Maria says, leaning in from behind the front counter. She sees Max, who's hastily crossing his arms in front of his chest, and smiles, in a way that I can never decide is sardonic or sweet or both. "Max. You're up bright and early."

"Hi, Maria," he says, and smiles at her too. She gives me a weird look, which I shrug off. Grabbing the plate of sausage and eggs that I hand her, she leaves.

"You did it," I say, cracking two more eggs onto the grill, "not me."

"Listen--"

"Maybe you just didn't want to before. Couldn't bring yourself to do it."

"Michael," he says, softly, like he's disappointed in me.

"Hey, I can understand that." I look up at him again, letting some of what I feel twist my voice into something like anger. "Believe me, Maxamillian, I can. But it's over now and now you just have to fucking get on with your life. Not just for yourself, but for all of us."

I turn back to the stove, swearing under my breath as I dig a metal spatula under the eggs and flip them over. He stands there for a long time. I can still feel him watching me.

And then, the next time I look up, he's gone.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

I see him again a few days later. Maria's off shift and they sit together at a table near the front of the Crashdown and talk for almost an hour. Maria's voice carries, sometimes even into the kitchen, so I can hear snatches of her advice on how to get over Liz, how to deal with a breakup, how to get over the fact that you liked a complete idiot. "Oh wait," she says, a little more loudly, "that was me. Never mind."

Whatever. She'll get over me.

So will Max, if he puts his mind to it.

I mean, we both know it wasn't me that healed that scar; I can't do that. I wasn't made for that. I just gave him a reason to do it for himself. But I can't be Max's reason. He's our leader; he has to be stronger than that. Should be stronger than that.

We both should be.

[end]

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