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Two Down, Two to Go, Part Three
Reply to Watcher TaraPosted to the RoswellSlash mailing list June 9, 2001
It was nine thirty that night when Alex answered his phone. "Hello?"
The caller didn't bother to identify himself. "So, what'd you come up with?"
Alex ran a hand through his short hair as he sighed, "I don't know. Nothing that'll work, I guess."
"Geez, Whitman. I thought you were supposed to be the smart one here - aside from Liz of course."
"Can it, Valenti, unless you've got something...?" Alex couldn't help the hopeful tone of his voice. Even the mention of Liz's name caused a twitch in his nether regions.
"As a matter of fact, I do. As I see it, we've got three separate problems: Lack of trust and too much desire are the first two. Liz doesn't trust Tess. She would rebuff any attempt on Tess's part to get closer. That means no initiation. And secondly, Max wants her so much that he's afraid of losing her so he won't even tell her about the initiation. And lastly, and this is the big one, there's Liz's modesty. I just can't see her unbending enough to let Tess and Isabel get that close to her."
"Yeah, I'm with you so far. What's your plan?"
"What are your plans for tomorrow after school?"
"I was gonna hang out here with Isabel. My folks are in Florida visiting my aunt, so we've got the house to ourselves. Why?"
"The way I see it, we can kill two birds with one stone here by making Liz spend some quality time with Tess and Isabel. That way she can get to know the girls a little better, you know, work on the trust issue. Why don't you invite Liz to join you guys - for a couple of hours?" he hurried to add before Alex could make some sort of comment about cramping his love life. "While she's there, I want the both of you to invade her personal space. If we can get her used to Isabel and Tess's presence then maybe the idea of the initiation won't be such a shock."
What do you mean by 'invade her personal space'?"
"What do you think, Whitman? Just go slow. Don't scare her off."
"What about you?"
"I'm going to invite her over to go swimming on Thursday." Alex could see the possibilities there. "We'll keep going at her until she's completely accepting of Tess and Isabel in her circle. Then we'll worry about Max and getting him to agree to the initiation. What do you think?"
"It could work. Let's give it a try."
* * * * * *
Maria nervously led Liz into her bedroom and firmly shut the door. The sound of the lock was loud in the hushed stillness. She'd invited Liz back here because people didn't tend to barge in on her unannounced as much as they did to Liz.
"Ok, Maria," Liz said as she set her purse down and sat on the edge of the bed. "Spill. You've had something on your mind all day."
Maria didn't answer right away. Instead, she stepped over to her window and made sure it was locked before pulling the curtains tightly closed. Turning on the small desk lamp that barely illuminated one corner, she turned back to her friend. "Liz, I have this thing and I really need your help with it. Now I know it's a lot to ask, but we've always shared everything every since we were in grade school and I know it's a terrible thing to put on you, but I really need your help."
"Maria, of course, whatever it is, I'll help you. Is this about Michael?"
With a sigh, Maria nodded. "I want to be with him so badly, but I can't, I mean he won't let me. And I know it's because I'm not good enough for him, Liz and I just can't stand knowing that one day, he's gonna leave me and find someone who is worthy of him," she ended on a whisper, "just like my dad."
Liz rushed to embrace her friend. While she stroked her hair, she reassured her, "Of course you're good enough. You're the best thing that's ever happened to Michael Guerin and he knows it, Maria. He isn't going anywhere."
"You don't know that, Liz. You don't know what happened."
"Tell me, " Liz implored.
Maria thought about telling her everything, but in the end decided against it. "I can't. Please just trust me on this one. You don't want to know."
"How can I help you if you won't tell me what's wrong?" Liz asked.
Maria moved out of the warm circle of her arms. It didn't feel right asking what she was going to ask her friend while standing in the warm comfort of her embrace. Taking a deep breath, she let the words rush out of her before she changed her mind. "I want you to show me how to be a better lover."
"WHAT?" Liz was shocked and not a little confused. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, I need..." Unable to find the words she needed, Maria stepped forward and taking Liz's face between her warm hands pressed a soft kiss to her lips.
Liz's reaction was swift, and exactly what Maria had been expecting. The shorter girl jumped away and backed toward the door. "What was that?" she asked.
Maria licked her lips. God, she could taste Liz's strawberry lip gloss. Her best friend was staring at her like she was an alien. Maria almost laughed at the thought. Ten to one, Liz had never looked at Max the way she was looking at her now. Turning away and sitting dejectedly on the edge of her bed, Maria whispered, "I'm sorry, Liz. It was a stupid idea. Just forget it." She hid her face in her hands and added, "Please just go. We'll pretend that none of this happened."
Liz couldn't bear seeing her friend like this. Slowly she took a tiny step forward, then another until she was standing next to the bed. "Maria, I want to help you. I do, but I can't do what you want me to. I mean, I just can't." Her voice pleaded for understanding. "We've been friends forever and I know some girls are close like this, but I've never wanted... I mean, the only person I want is Max. I can't pretend otherwise."
"I know." She raised her wet eyes to her friend's. "I'm so sorry, Liz. I just couldn't think of any other way. I want him so badly, I'll do anything. I shouldn't have brought you into this."
"No, it's ok. We just need to figure out another way." She wanted to hug her friend in reassurance, but suddenly, she felt awkward to be near her. Trying not to think about it, she focused instead on the problem at hand. "Let me just get this straight; what you need is to learn how to be a better lover. And we're not talking specifically about pleasing Michael in particular."
"OK. Let me think about this tonight, and we'll talk some more tomorrow. And Maria," Liz said while reaching out to stroke her soft hair, "no matter what, I've got your back, ok? We'll figure this out."
The next morning dawned bright and sunny. Liz had spent a restless night but the answer to Maria's problem had finally come to her about four in the morning. She couldn't wait to talk to her friend, but there was someone she needed to talk to first. Grabbing her books for first period out of her locker, she went in search of the person who could be the answer to Maria's prayers. Spotting him talking to Isabel by his locker, Liz hurried over.
"Parker." Alex said by way of greeting. "Where's DeLuca this fine morning?"
"Are you kidding? The first bell hasn't rung yet. She's probably just now getting out of bed."
Alex grinned at that accurate guess.
"Look, Alex, I need you to do me a really huge favor. You know how you get every channel on the planet? Would you mind if Maria and I went to your house for lunch today? There's a program on that we need to watch for a project, only we don't get the channel at my house. Please?"
"Well, sure. My folks are in Florida and you know where the spare key is right?"
Liz hugged him enthusiastically. "Alex you're the best."
"That's what they keep telling me," he said, waggling his eyebrows at his girlfriend. She rolled her eyes in return.
"Oh," he said, "We wanted to invite you over tonight. We were talking and decided that although we know you've had good reason, you've been pretty distant lately, and it's time to stop hiding and rebond with your friends."
Liz blushed, "I know. I'm sorry, Alex. It's just with..."
"The destiny thing?" Isabel finished for her when she trailed off.
"Liz, trust me when I say you don't have to worry about that. Tess and Kyle are officially going out now. There's nothing standing between you and Max but your own stubbornness."
"I'm not sure, Alex."
Isabel hurried to assure her, "Max is not invited. Just you. This isn't a trick, Liz. We miss you and it's time for you to rejoin the group."
"So," Alex broke in, "You are expected to be on my doorstep at six o'clock sharp and we're not taking no for an answer."
She smiled at him, at both of them, and said, "Well, since you put it that way, and I feel so welcome..." she couldn't help but tease, "Ok. I'll see you guys at six."
After she walked away, Alex turned to hug his girlfriend. "Thanks Is. You're the best."
"Well, it was your idea. I have to admit, this is better than anything Tess and I came up with."
"Oh really? What were you two thinking?"
Alex nearly fell over.
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