Title: You Can Always Count On Me
Disclaimer:The characters of "Roswell" belong to Jason Katims, Melinda Metz, WB, and UPN. They are not mine and no infringement is intended.
Summary: Best friends Max Evans and Liz Parker have just graduated from High School and are spending the summer before college travelling across the country together. But what happens when they realise that maybe they didn't know each other quite as well as they thought; that there are things that each of them kept from the other? Will their friendship survive the trip?
Author's Note: This is an AU fic – no aliens, but with the usual CC couples (M/M and A/I, but the jury's still out on the status of Max and Liz's relationship ).
I'm standing at the top of the bleachers, just staring out over the football field, lost in thought.
High School. I can't believe it's finally over. It's been my entire existence for the past four years, and now…it's just ended.
I'm pulled from my thoughts by an arm being slung across my shoulders and squeezing me tightly.
"Having deep thoughts again are we, Parker?" an amused, deep voice questions beside me. "Better be careful, you don't wanna hurt yourself."
"Oh, ha ha, very funny, Evans," I retort dryly, elbowing him in the ribs playfully. I turn my head to look at him properly. He looks good in his Graduation robes, very grown up. I study his profile for a second before turning back to watch the rest of the senior class celebrating with their friends and families.
"It's hard to believe this is it, we're done," I say softly, partly to myself.
"Yeah, I know, four years," he replies wistfully.
We stand there in silence for a couple of minutes, just taking it all in, the atmosphere, the excitement. But I can tell the exact instant when the sombre moment passes and Max relaxes, returning to his usual teasing self.
"So, now we have exactly three months of freedom before we have to leave for college and start growing up. What will we do with ourselves?"
I know he's joking around, but I can't resist getting a jab in, "Oh, you know, I'll just be here, working at the Crashdown, maybe getting a head start on the whole college preparation thing…"
He looks worried for a second, although he should know perfectly well what my plans for the summer are. "Liz, come on, you're not seriously gonna spend the whole time studying? You promised me you were coming…" he trails off, giving my his puppy-dog eyes.
I can't stop the grin appearing as I nudge him, "Max! Of course I'm coming with you, we've been planning this for months! What do you take me for? I'd never let you down," I feign disbelief at his suggestion that I would just leave him in the lurch. "But, the look on your face when I said it – " I crack up then, unable to take it any longer.
He just shakes his head and rolls his eyes, as his arm tightens slightly around my shoulder before letting go completely.
"Come on," he holds out his hand and I take it. "Let's go mingle, I have a feeling our parents are itching to congratulate us and take pictures."
As he pulls me down the metal steps towards the ground, I can't help smiling. Right now, everything is great in my life. I graduated in the top five of my class; in three months I'll be heading to Harvard to study Biology and right now, I have my best friend in the whole world by my side.
Less than five minutes later we're posing for photographs. For some of them it's just me and Max together, for others I'm standing alone and the last ones are the whole group together – me, Max, Max's sister, Isabel and his other best friend, Michael, Michael's girlfriend and my best girl-friend, Maria and last but not least, our good friend and Isabel's boyfriend, Alex.
It's standing there smiling and joking with them that I realise how lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life, to have Max Evans in my life. Max is my best friend; we've known each other for years, pretty much since kindergarten. We've grown up together in Roswell and amazingly, managed to stay friends all through Junior High and High School, despite the whole puberty, becoming young adults thing that usually causes boy-girl friendships to evaporate. But now at eighteen, although we're obviously different now than when we were eight-year-old kids playing together in the park, he's still the one person I can talk to about anything, the only one I really trust with my problems (well, the non-girly ones anyway – that's what Maria's there for) and I don't know how I'm going to survive in the Fall, not being able to see him everyday. He's going to be at UNM and living in Albuquerque next semester, while I'll be living two thousand miles away in Massachusetts.
Which is why this summer, we've arranged a trip away, to see the country, just him and me. One last hurrah, if you will.
Well, actually the original plan was that we would all go travelling together; but the others can't make it. Michael has to work the whole summer to pay the bills and Maria didn't really want to go without him. Isabel is planning to move up to San Francisco early, for a pre-college summer course and Alex has been offered the opportunity to work as an intern for a local computing company during the summer.
So, it's just going to be Max and me. We're leaving in three weeks. Max wanted to go sooner, but I realised that I would need to work for a few weeks to earn enough money for the trip. We've already paid all our expenses, but I'm going to need spending money for food and everything. To be honest, I can't wait! We're taking Max's jeep and just driving round the country (well, as much of it as we can, anyway), having fun on the way. It's going to be great!
Three weeks later
"Come on, Liz! Aren't you ready yet?" I hear Max's irritated voice shout from downstairs.
"I'll just be a minute, okay?" I call back; slightly annoyed at his anal-retentive attitude to making sure we leave on time. We're going on vacation, for God's sake, we're supposed to be relaxing!
Where was I? Oh right, the suitcase. For some reason, I can't get it to close. I've been trying to shut it for the past half an hour, rearranging everything, taking stuff out and repacking it, but nothing's working. I've even tried sitting on it, but that didn't help.
Oh, great. Now I can hear his footsteps coming up the stairs. I take a quick glance around my room – shit, it's a mess. Max isn't going to be pleased when he sees this and realises that we won't be able to leave until I've tidied everything up.
"Liz, what the hell are you doing up here?" he demands as he flings open my bedroom door. "Oh, holy shit…" he trails off in disbelief when he notices the state of the room.
I cringe and smile at him sheepishly, "Um, do you think you can give me a hand here, Max?" I ask. At his sceptical look, I start pleading, "Please, Max? I can't get this case closed…I'd really appreciate it…I promise I'll make it up to you, I'll buy you dinner later…the quicker I get this fastened, the sooner we can leave…" He's now staring at me with an incredulous look on his face, so I flutter my eyelashes at him and give him my best pout.
Eventually he sighs and rolls his eyes. "Fine, Parker. But just so you know, I am only doing this so we can finally get on the road."
He makes his way around the tangled mess of clothes on my bedroom floor and begins struggling with the suitcase as I bend down to gather up some of the clutter. Eventually he manages to zip it closed and takes it down to the jeep while I finish straightening out the room.
Once I'm done, I grab my jacket and run downstairs to where my parents and our friends are waiting to see us off.
Max already said goodbye to his parents back at his house and he's not really one for hugs and teary farewells, so he's just outside by the jeep with Michael and Isabel, waiting for me. I throw my arms around each of my parents in turn and give them each a kiss on the cheek, promising to be careful and look after myself. I then turn to Maria and Alex who suddenly engulf me in a big three-way hug and won't let go even when I try to wriggle out of their grasp and head for the back door of the Crashdown. I end up leaving with one of them one each side of me, our arms linked.
We approach the jeep in time to see Michael and Max giving each other a manly hug and a pat on the back, before pulling apart and exchanging a complicated, yet somewhat juvenile handshake. Amused, I clear my throat to alert them of our presence and Max sighs in relief.
"Finally! Now maybe we can get this show on the road?" he says, exasperated. I should be offended by his comments, but I know he's not being completely serious; he just likes to tease me about my lack of time-keeping skills. I simply raise an eyebrow and refuse to comment.
He rolls his eyes at me as if to say 'Women!' and exchanges a knowing look with Michael, which causes Maria to glare at them both. However, Max just shrugs and turns to Isabel. He wishes her good luck in San Francisco, since she'll be leaving soon and then hugs her fiercely. He and Isabel are really close considering they're siblings; maybe it's a twin thing.
When he's done, he turns to me and grins. "Ready?"
"Yep," I reply excitedly and turn to the others, "I guess this is it, guys." But, I find I'm unable to move; I'm just rooted to the spot. "I'm going, then. Here we go," but I'm still not leaving. I don't know what's come over me.
I'm pulled out of my trance, however, when Max grabs me by the arm and literally drags me to the car, "What is the matter with you, Parker? Geez, anyone would think you didn't want to go," he says as he deposits me in the passenger seat.
I look at him indignantly, "Of course I want to go; it's just…" I gaze back at our friends. "I don't want to leave them."
"They'll be fine without us, Lizzie," he reassures me. "Won't you, guys?"
They all nod simultaneously, which makes me giggle. "Alright, fine. Let's go then, shall we?" I try for perky, but inside I almost feel like crying. Sure, I've been looking forward to this trip for ages, but now it's actually happening, I don't know if I can survive the whole summer without seeing everyone.
I don't have time to worry any more because Max hops in and starts the engine. "Bye, guys," he calls as he starts driving. "See you in a few weeks."
I just have time to swivel round in my seat and wave to my friends and my parents, who have now joined them, before we turn the corner and they disappear from sight.
I turn back to face the front and relax into the passenger seat. Max turns his head towards me, a big smile on his face and I can't help but grin back.
This is going to be the best trip of my life.