Consequences, Choices, and Confessions
by pari106

Disclaimer and rating in Chapter 1.



A/N: Okay…here's the dealio with this one. I wrote this story, way back when, and
have been posting little by little, as I received reviews (which I did receive quite a bit of,
huh? ;) Thank y'all for the responses. I know it was blackmail…but I love y'all, you
know it ). Anyhow, a problem arose, however. As all these reviews poured in, I became
less and less happy with the final chapter. Guess I started to worry all the built up hype
about the story would leave readers disappointed with the end. So I tweaked. And I
tweaked some more… But there's only so much tweaking one chapter can take. So I
gave up. And probably totally ruined this before I did. Anyhow, here's what resulted.
What do you think?



Chapter 14

Max sat on a ledge on the roof of Foggle Towers and stared out at Seattle. She could
have gone to the Space Needle, she supposed, like she often did. She needed time to
herself to think, but she didn't want to be entirely alone, either. She felt lonely enough as
it was, sitting there with her thoughts.

She shouldn't have lashed out at Zack so harshly. But damnit…where the hell does he
get off asking her something like that?

"Who's the baby's father?"

Even now, as Max remembered his words, her fists clenched.

He made her so angry! And hurt…it hurt, too, that he would ask that. She realized why
he had, of course. She'd already realized how uncertain Zack could be when it came to
their relationship. But understanding why he'd asked didn't make it hurt any less that he
had. All this time she'd assumed he was being so distant with her because he didn't want
the baby…well, at least that fear had been laid to rest. And it did say something that he
wanted to build a life with her and the baby even before he knew for sure that it was his
own. But how could he think she would sleep around like that? Didn't he have any faith
in her? Having Zack ask her about the baby's parentage was just the same to Max as that
day she'd found out about his contact number. When she'd realized he'd given it to
everybody but her because he considered her too reckless to trust. Now he said he loved
her and that he wanted to be with her…but he still didn't trust her?

Then Max tensed as she suddenly realized something.

"Logan always said my family has an annoying habit of sneaking up on people," she said
aloud.

As she'd thought he was, Zack had been watching her from the shadows. For how long,
she didn't know, but now he walked over to her side.

"Logan also says we're a bunch of thieves," Zack countered softly. Max had to smile.

"Perceptive, isn't he?" she said. But her smile faded as Zack sat down beside her, and
their eyes latched. They just sat there for a moment, staring at one another, before Zack
finally looked away.

"Listen, Maxie…I don't know if I can tell you how sorry I am. For hurting you," he told
her. His eyes traveled back to hers. This time Max looked away.

"You never were good with apologies," she said with a shrug to hide how much his
words affected her. The truth was, she'd needed that apology. And it warmed her now to
have had one, even if it also brought a tear to her eye.

Zack reached over and turned her chin so that she was looking at him again.

"I can learn," he told her, not removing his hand. So Max leaned into it, letting Zack cup
her cheek, and her eyes told him that he'd already been forgiven.

"Max…"

Zack pulled her into his arms and they both clung to one another as though they were
afraid to let go. Then Zack silently thanked whatever power existed that had made Max
fall in love with him. God…fate…whatever it was that kept bringing the two of them
back together whenever someone or something managed to tear them apart. He wasn't
sure if Tinga had been right…that everyone wanted love and happiness in their life; that
everyone deserved the chance to find it. But if she were, than surely Zack had used more
than his fair share of chances to find his own.

After a moment, Max pulled back. She turned in his arms so that he wouldn't have to
let go of her while she spoke. "We've both made mistakes," she told him, knowing what
he'd been thinking.

Zack rested his chin on the top of her head. "My mistake was being too afraid to let
myself trust you, Max," he told her. "I do trust you. You know that." Max looked up at
him…surprised he'd read so well the thoughts she'd had only moments earlier. Zack
smiled at her tenderly. "I knew what you'd think. I could see it in your eyes when you
left Zane's. You looked at me the same way when you found out about the contact
number."

Max wanted to deny it, but she couldn't. And Zack was still speaking.

"I'm sorry I made you feel that way, Max. That wasn't about trusting you, you know.
Neither was this. I didn't give you the contact number because I didn't trust myself to be
able to protect you the same as I've protected all the others. I knew if you had the contact
number than I wouldn't have a reason to hang around Seattle so often. And I didn't want
to leave you."

Zack turned her back around in his arms so he could look into her eyes.

"This wasn't about trust either, Maxie. At least…not about my trusting you. It was
about being afraid. I was afraid to let myself believe what I should have already known
was true. I was afraid I'd messed things up with you for good, and believing that the
baby was mine just made that harder to deal with."

Zack couldn't believe he was letting himself say these things, but they were true, and he
didn't break eye contact with Max as he spoke. He simply watched the emotions flicker
in her large, almond eyes and told himself it was time to stop being afraid. He had this
image in front of the world as a fearless leader…well it was time he started living up to it.

"But all being afraid ever got me, Max," he continued, "was to really mess things up with
you. I won't let that happen again."

By this time a tear slipped down Max's cheek, and she reached up to take Zack's face in
her hands. She shook her head.

"I'll never figure you out," she said, but she was slowly beginning to smile as she did.
Zack smiled, too.

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" he asked. She laughed. But then she sobered a
little, settling back into Zack's arms.

"I shouldn't have run from Zane's place," she told him. "I shouldn't have gotten so
angry."

Zack was still smiling. "Yeah, you should," he said, making her laugh. "The left hook I
could have done without, though," he continued.

Max turned around to face him. "Oh, poor baby," she teased, leaning up to kiss the spot
on his jaw she'd punched earlier.

But the touch of her lips to his skin made any laughter cease.

Zack's eyes fluttered closed…feeling like he'd been waiting forever to feel Max's touch
once again.

Max, too, froze in the middle of the movement…feeling Zack tense. And tensing,
herself, as Zack's scent and the warmth of his nearness began to surround her. When she
started to draw back, Zack swept her into his arms, crushing his mouth down upon hers.