Chapter Six: Girls Night or The Three Musketeers Bonding

As he approached the door to the Parker's apartment, Alex was unsure what to expect. When Maria called a couple of hours ago telling him to show up at Liz's with some orange soda by ten o'clock for a girls night, he was surprised but happy. With so much craziness the past few months and the unending emotional turmoil being a part of the alien abyss causes, he was glad to have the chance to have a night of just hanging out with his girls. The last year had been one chaotic event after another and he wanted one night of just normal teenage friendship, no alien clues to follow, no FBI agents, no evil aliens, just his girls, ice cream and some gossip. Opening the apartment door he has not knocked on since he was in grade school, Alex makes his way into the living room.

"Hello, its Alex, is anybody here?" Alex turns as he hears two people exit the kitchen carrying some drinks, a man and woman in their twenties. "Hi." A moment later the front door opens again admitting Maria, still in her waitress uniform, antenna included. She is carrying a small duffle bag and a couple of grocery bags he assumes are snacks for tonight. She strides forward to give him the grocery bags.

"Hey, good, you're here. Can you help Liz setting up the goodies? I am going to hop in the shower real quick. I have got to get this grease smell off of me. I feel like I need to scrub a layer or two to get rid of the smell. Not to mention the way my feet ache…" and stops mid-ramble when seeing the others in the room.

"Hi, you must be Alex and Maria. I'm Sam and this is my husband Riley." The man nodded as his wife gestured to him. "I completely sympathize with the grease smell and the achy feet. I used to waitress at the local dinner during high school for extra cash. I swear after a shift the mere idea of looking at a burger made my stomach hurt." The girls shared a chuckle.

"That sounds about right. What are you guys doing tonight since Liz is going to be busy? And where is she anyway?"

"She's in the kitchen with Graham getting stuff ready for your night. Don't worry about us bothering you guys. We are having a mini-movie marathon in the den before we crash. It was nice meeting you. Come on Ry; let's get back to the guys." The couple makes their way to the den. Maria hands him the snacks and follows down the hall to he assumes Liz's bathroom to start on her shower.

"Well, I'll just help Liz then, shall I?" Shaking his head, he heads to the kitchen.

Alex stopped at the doorway into the kitchen and watched as Liz spoke with the young man he imaged was Graham, who he got from Maria's ramble on the phone earlier was the new possible love interest for Liz, a girl he considered his sister. They stood close together while prepping the ice cream he imagined was for the "girls night" the three friends were about to have. Liz grabbed some glasses and added some ice while the man continued to add vanilla ice cream to one of the bowls.

"I hope you don't think I am abandoning you guys tonight, Graham. But I kind of neglected to share the entire truth about the summer. I really need to spend some time with Maria and Alex and explain some things." Liz set the glasses on the tray beside two more bowls of ice cream and miscellaneous toppings for the ice cream. Graham placed the bowl he was filling on the tray and put the scoop into the sink. Turning to face Liz who now stood next to him, he placed his hands on her hips and smiled down at her.

"It's okay, Liz. We'll just finish the movie and turn in. It has been a little bit of a long day for us. Have fun with your friends. We have two weeks to spend time together." She smiled at him. He leaned his face down near hers. "Permisso?" Her smile turned into a grin at the reference to the movie Alex knew was one of her favorites, having been required to watch it several times with the girls and Grandma Claudia.

"Avanti." He closed the miniscule gap between them and gently kissed her. Alex felt like a voyeur watching such a moment between one of his best friends and apparently her new beau. It seems like he missed a few things in the catching up on summer events portion of their conversations.

After a moment, Alex cleared his throat. They separated and turned their heads in his direction.

"Sorry to interrupt, but I just wanted to let you know that Maria and I arrived."

"No problem." Liz blushed and motioned Alex over to them. "Alex, this is Graham Miller. Graham, this is one of my best girlfriends and de-facto brother, Alexander Whitman." The older male holds out his hand to Alex who shakes it after transferring the bags all to one hand. Sizing him up, Alex immediately saw what he was sure attracted Liz to him. While he was no doubt handsome, Graham Miller also exuded trustworthiness and genuineness. He was definitely someone that you would feel comfortable sharing your secrets with. Of course in the alien abyss that could be dangerous and very misleading. However, he also knew that his friend was an excellent judge of character and that even though they were a part of this huge secret they had to keep themselves open to the possibility of new friends and not isolate themselves.

"Nice to meet you, Graham. Any friend of Liz's is a friend of mine."

"Thanks, you too. Liz has told me so much about you, I feel like I already know you."

"All good things I hope."

"Of course." Graham grabbed the ice cream container, closed it up and placed it in the freezer. "I am going to join the guys. You guys have fun." He squeezed Liz's hand before making his way out of the kitchen. Alex put the bags on the counter while Liz went to the cabinets and got some bowls out. Emptying the snacks onto the counter, he started opening them for Liz to pour into various bowls.

"Gummi worms, hot tamales, Jelly Bellys, caramels, Jolly Ranchers, Crystal Sticks, Sour Patch Kids, Hershey's bars, salt water taffy, tootsie rolls, Blow pops and jawbreakers…Wow, Maria went all out on the candy this time, huh?"

"Yeah, she seems to be having a sweet craving. Let me get another tray for these bowls." While emptying a couple of the bags into some of the bowls, Alex watches as his friend moves to another cabinet and digs around until she finds another tray. He wonders what exactly is going on with his friend lately. She has been so quiet and reserved from the group. He knows the whole destiny thing threw her for one major loop. It was clear to anybody with eyes that Max and Liz shared a connection. But he also saw how peaceful she seemed just now, less stressed than normal. And frankly if that Graham guy was what made her that way he had no problem with the train wreck that was Max and Liz ending.

Finished with opening the candy, he placed to bowls on the new tray and grabbed the bags of soda with his free hand.

"If my lady would be so kind as to carry the ice cream, our sugar orgy can commence." Liz broke into laughter as she grabbed the other tray and made her way out of the kitchen and to her bedroom.

"Don't ever change Alex." He smiled as he followed her.

Setting up the goodies on the table on Liz's balcony went quickly. While Alex put some music on, she snagged a couple of snuggly blankets for them to use as the night got cooler. Alex made his way over to the edge of the balcony next to the telescope Liz used to use and stared off into the distance at the stars.

"Its amazing isn't it?" Liz walked up behind him to also gaze at the stars. "How different it feels to look at the night sky now that we know the existence of the Czechoslovakians, like the whole world feels a little smaller now."

"Yeah." For a few minutes, the friends that belonged to the exclusive "I know an alien" club were quiet, contemplating their own thoughts. They both turned at the rustle of clothing as Maria climbed through Liz's bedroom window and made her way over to the table of goodies.

"Alright, babes, let get this "Girls Night" started." Alex followed Liz over to the table to get their own desserts when he finally noticed Maria's pajamas. While the shorts were nothing special, just black girly boxer shorts, the white tank top had "I was abducted by aliens and all I got was this lousy shirt!" written in black on it with a picture of a little red car that looked suspiciously like her mom's Jetta and a flying saucer over it.

"Subtle, Maria, real subtle." Maria giggles and plops down on one of the lawn chairs scattered around.

"Like it? I had Amidala make it for me after that whole thing in Marathon." Liz and Alex join in her giggling as they get comfortable in their own spots.

"I am surprised she did it."

"She probably figured I could get it made at a store anyway. And the idea of Michael going ape over it probably helped." The friends laugh again at the image they each had of Michael's reaction to it.

"So, Lizzy, what's up with the group that showed up today? Who are they? How did you meet them? And what is the deal with the beefcake you were wrapped around earlier?" Alex stopped his spoon that was on the way to his mouth and raised an eyebrow at this.

"When was Liz wrapped around beefcake?" Liz blushes while taking a bite of her vanilla ice cream.

"I was not wrapped around him. And Graham is not a beef cake, which implies he is just a pretty face and he is very smart."

"Technically, it implies that he is a pretty body but anyway, what is the deal? After you left here all brokenhearted over Max and his destiny, I totally did not expect you to just jump into some relationship with some guy you just met and I mean in all the emails you sent and all the times we talked on the phone you never mentioned you were getting all snuggly with some guy. Why did you lie? You used to tell me everything Liz. I mean do you even know this guy; he could be a Skin or a federal agent. He could be using you to get to the Czechs…" Alex reached over and placed his hand over Maria's mouth. Maria narrowed her eyes at him and looked to be ready to start a demonstration of why she was called Hurricane Deluca. Alex knew the wait must have been killing her but she needed to calm down if she was going to actually hear anything Liz says.

"Take a breath and let Liz answer a question before asking her another one, Ria. You know Liz always has a reason for everything she does. Give her a minute to explain before exploding, huh?" She appeared to calm down and nodded her head after he removed his hand.

"Thanks, Alex. I never lied to you, Maria. I told you I had met some other people while visiting my family and was hanging out with them. I didn't tell you how close I was getting to Graham because I didn't know how. I didn't want you to be mad at me for leaving you here and then making another friend in Florida, as if I was forgetting you or something. I know you and Alex were struggling with dealing with the Czechs here while I got to go away. I felt like I was abandoning you or something. I just needed to get away to breathe and try to deal with this all." Liz leaned forward and placed her half frozen ice cream down. "I want to tell you everything about this summer, how I met Graham and then Riley and Sam; beach volleyball; going sailing; kicking his cousin Tommy's butt at paint ball; spending time with Aunt Madeline and my cousin Nate and all the fun things we did while there."

"I think we would like that, huh, Maria?"

"Definitely, Alex. Don't feel bad about leaving Liz. I understand, I do and I don't blame you at all. I just wish that you felt like you could have been completely open with me." Alex watched as Maria stared at her own dessert before taking a bite. "Ever since I got involved with the Czechs I feel like we are drifting apart. I never thought that would happen you know? The three of us were always going to be closer than anything, the Three Musketeers."

"I know me too. This whole think has been hard on all of us. But I think if we stop hiding things from each other and be honest about everything then we will be stronger for it. And maybe this whole alien abyss won't strangle us."

"Okay, then. We start right now. No more letting the Czechs run our lives, no more secrets, no more avoiding the truth, no more dealing with the pain alone or any of this being strong crap. We ARE the Three Musketeers. We tell each other when we hurt, we rely on each others, we trust each other to help us deal with this insanity we call a life..." Maria put her bowl on the table and held her hand out fist together. "All for one…"

Liz looks at Maria with tears in her eyes as she leans forward and places her hand on top of hers.

"All for one," she says. Both of them turn to look at the remaining member of their little group. Alex looks at his girls and remembers all the times he felt like they were hiding something from him, all the times he wanted to be there for them and was not able to because they were not honest with him; he remembers how he felt learning their secret; how worried he was for them and the others; how hurt he felt when Isabel turned away from his friendship. He looks at the two girls he has considered his sisters since before he can remember and smiles. He leans forward and placed his hand on top of theirs.

"All for one..." The three of them finish the statement together "…and one for all." The friends clasp hands for another moment before sitting back with their snack choices once more.

"Okay, now Liz start talking. How did you meet this Graham?" Alex sensed a story as Liz blushed and smiled slightly. He looked forward to hearing this.

"Well, I was at the beach…"

And so the trio of friends, whose bond had been strained by the last few months, spent the night sharing stories of Liz's adventures in Miami with her family and new friends and strengthened those bonds.