Title: I'll Never Let You Go
Disclaimer:The characters of "Roswell" belong to Jason Katims, Melinda Metz, WB, and UPN. They are not mine and no infringement is intended.
Summary: This is the sequel to Lean on Me, which was set at the end of Cry Your Name. This story begins the morning after.
Author's Note: I couldn't tell from the episode Cry Your Name if Alex's funeral was held during the week or at the weekend, but for this fic I have assumed that it was held on a Thursday and so the next day is a school day. The title is taken from the Third Eye Blind song Never Let You Go. This was my first long story, written between 2005 and 2006.
The loud beeping of the alarm clock woke Liz at 7 a.m.. She was confused at first when she opened her eyes and reached up to rub the sleep from them. She didn't remember climbing the stairs to her room, let alone going to bed. A few moments later it dawned on her: Max had come over last night; he'd comforted her and apologised to her and then had been kind enough to hold her until she fell asleep.
Liz smiled as she remembered how safe she had felt in his arms and turned her head towards where he had been lying beside her. Her smile faltered when she realised that he was no longer there, but she then realised that he must have returned home to his parents and Isabel. They would probably be worried if he had been out all night.
Her thoughts turned to Isabel. God, how was she coping with all of this? It had taken a lot for her to finally let someone in and to allow herself to get close to Alex and now any chance they had to be together had been taken away. Liz made a mental note to ask Isabel if there was anything she could do for her when she next saw her. She had heard from Maria that Isabel was planning on graduating a year early and going off to college in San Francisco. To Liz, it sounded an awful lot like she was running away from the situation which was possibly not the best thing to do right now.
After a couple of minutes of contemplation over the events of the night before, especially of Max's insistence that they would discover the truth about Alex together, Liz decided that it was probably best get out of bed and face the day. She had no idea how she was going to act around Max when she saw him. Was the closeness between them last night just a momentary lapse due to everything that was happening around them or could it really be that they were on the way to becoming good friends again?
Liz had really missed spending time with Max. There had been so many times over the last few months that she'd been on the verge of going to him and blurting out the truth about what he'd seen the night of the Gomez concert back in October. Seeing the hurt on his face every time he'd looked at her afterwards had almost torn her apart. She just wanted to tell him that it had all been a lie and that she was still in love with him. But whenever she caught a glimpse of him with Michael or Isabel or Tess she was reminded of their destiny and what might happen if their four-square was ever broken up.
Liz shook her head to rouse herself from the deep thoughts consuming her and returned to getting ready for the school day. Maria had promised to give her a ride to school so that together they could face the whispers and stares that Liz knew would be aimed at them by the rest of the student body. She was glad that she wouldn't have to brave it alone.
As she got dressed and brushed her hair, Liz wondered how Max was holding up this morning. When they had spoken last night, she had been so caught up in her own emotions that she hadn't thought to ask him how he was handling everything. She couldn't even imagine how he must have felt being the one to climb into that van and attempt to save Alex. It must have been devastating for him to realise that he couldn't help him.
Liz placed the hairbrush down on her dressing table, staring at herself in the mirror as a lone tear escaped from the corner of her eye, slowly making its way down her cheek.
Max was awake long before his alarm sounded that morning; in fact, he'd barely gotten any sleep at all, his mind consumed with thoughts of Liz. He hadn't wanted to leave her alone, but he'd known that his family would be wondering where he was. So he'd waited until she was sleeping peacefully before he'd slipped out onto her balcony and down the ladder into the alley behind the Crashdown.
Actually, that wasn't strictly true; it took all of his willpower to leave her asleep on her bed. After removing his arm from behind her head and making sure that she was comfortable, he had just sat on the edge of the bed and watched her sleep.
As his eyes roamed over her drawn, yet still incredibly beautiful face he'd questioned how it was that they had grown so far apart. They had almost been like strangers to each other recently and he hated that. Although he still felt hurt and betrayed by what he had stumbled upon in her bedroom that night in October, he had to admit that he needed Liz in his life, especially now. He wasn't sure how much more he could handle. Seeing Alex lying in that van outside the morgue and realising that he could not heal him, had affected him more than anything else had in his entire life. All he'd wanted just then was to break down, to fall apart in someone's arms. But instead, he'd had to be the strong one, comforting everyone else; desperately attempting to convince them all that everything would be okay.
That was partly why he'd gone to see Liz the night before, to talk to someone, but when he'd seen how distraught she was, he immediately pushed his own feelings aside, focusing on her alone. At that moment Liz's feelings were more important to him than his own and he would have done anything to help ease her pain. Max hoped that Liz would be okay, that she would recover from all of this. He'd truly meant what he'd told her, about working with her to find out the truth. He was more than willing to put the past few months behind them and start over.
However, there was still the question of Tess and their supposed destiny. He didn't think that he could just abandon that part of his life, no matter how screwed up it was all becoming. Tess would most likely be offended if he told her that he no longer wished to work on memory retrieval exercises with her. To be honest though, he'd much rather concentrate on the present and his life on Earth than on a past life that no longer existed. Thinking about it, he realised that he had mostly gone along with it for her sake, not because he had any real desire to explore his past.
Liz had told him that she knew he'd kissed Tess at the Prom, and that she was okay with it. But he knew that deep down she probably wasn't. His own blood boiled at the mere thought of Liz even touching anyone else, let alone kissing them and if she had once felt about him even close to the way he'd felt about her all these years, he guessed that maybe she was not as okay with it as she claimed.
With that thought, he decided that he had to talk to Liz again, to explain exactly why he and Tess had kissed, that it really wasn't what she obviously thought it was and that he wasn't okay with it. In truth, he really had no idea what had possessed him to kiss her. One minute he was merely telling her that he had remembered their first kiss back on Antar and the next they were re-enacting it! How exactly had that happened?
Max was startled out of his thoughts by the blaring of his radio, indicating that the time was now 7.15am and he realised that he needed to stop contemplating and get his ass out of bed if he was going to make it to first period. As he pulled on a clean blue T-shirt and his favourite faded jeans, he made a resolved decision to find Liz at school today and talk to her. Deciding that he would track her down during fourth period (which fortunately they both had free) he sighed and swinging his backpack onto his shoulder, he made his way out of the house towards the jeep, where Isabel was already sat waiting for him.
Liz was still seated at the dresser when she heard the impatient beep of a car horn, the sound coming from outside her window. That's probably Maria she thought and stood up to gather her books for the school day. Her suspicions were confirmed when her mother's voice drifted through the apartment.
"Liz, are you ready? Maria's here."
"I'll be right down, Mom" she called, frantically stuffing everything into her backpack and pulling it onto her shoulder. She made her way through the apartment and down the stairs to the Crashdown.
"Bye, Mom, I'll see you later," she said, giving her a quick hug before walking through the swinging door into the café. She picked up a muffin from the counter and half walked-half ran outside to Maria's Jetta.
"Hey, Maria," she murmured as she slid into the passenger seat of the car. They exchanged a quick reassuring hug.
"Morning, Liz. How are you holding up after everything?" asked Maria, her voice filled with concern for her closest friend.
"I'm surviving, practically," she sighed. "It's just so hard, you know? To realise that he's really gone."
"I know what you mean. I keep reaching for the phone to give him a call, but I get halfway through punching in the numbers before I remember that he's not there to pick up."
"Oh God, Maria, what are we going to do?" Liz was distressed. "I haven't even been here for you over the past few days. How are you doing? Is Michael taking care of you?"
A small smile graced Maria's face at the mention of Michael. He had been so supportive and loving towards her. "Oh, Liz, he's been so great. He's even been spending time with me and my Mom while Sean's out of town."
Liz blanched and looked out of the window when Maria spoke about Sean. She really did not want to think about him right now. Instead she turned back to face Maria.
"You are so lucky to have him, Maria," she said.
"I know; can you believe it? Who would've thought that Michael Guerin was capable of being so sensitive and caring towards another human being, right?" said Maria. Liz smiled at her in return.
"He's not driving with us this morning?" she queried.
"No. He said he had something he wanted to do before school, so we arranged to meet up later," replied Maria.
She then seemed to suddenly remember something. "Look, Liz, I'm sorry about that whole argument that happened between all of us yesterday. I know that you have a theory about what happened to Alex, but as far as I'm concerned it was an accident. I love you, Liz, but I don't think my brain can handle any more than that right now, so do you think that we can agree to disagree about it and leave it at that?" Maria was practically pleading with Liz by this point.
"Maria, I can understand how you feel, but I don't think I can drop it. I need to know what really happened, not just for my own peace of mind but for Alex's sake as well " She held up a hand to stop Maria before she could even begin to protest. "But I won't try to drag you or anyone else into it," she chose not to mention her agreement with Max in her speech. She felt that right now it should just be kept between the two of them. She continued, "And if I do find out the truth and you don't want to know about it, I won't tell you. But please understand that this is something I have to do." She finished with unshed tears glistening in her eyes. Maria noticed this and immediately softened.
"Oh honey, if it's that important to you, I won't stand in your way. And thank you for accepting my feelings." She pulled Liz into another quick hug. As she withdrew she caught a glimpse of the dashboard clock, "Oh God, Liz, we're gonna be so late for school. We'd better go."
With that she started the car and swiftly manoeuvred it onto the road heading towards the school.
Five minutes and some borderline dangerous driving later, the Jetta pulled up outside the school. Several students were still milling around outside, indicating that they had made it on time Liz stepped out of the car and clutching the shoulder straps of her backpack braced herself for the day ahead. Maria saw this and approached her, linking an arm through hers.
"Come on, girl. We can do this," she said, her tone determined. She glanced in the direction of the group of students at the school's entrance; already there were a few stares directed towards them. "Just ignore everyone else," she advised and then tugged on Liz's arm to get her moving.
Liz took a deep breath. "Okay," she exhaled, "I'm ready, let's go."
Ignoring the speculative gazes of their peers, the two girls made their way into the school towards homeroom.
A few moments after Liz and Maria had entered the school, an old army jeep pulled into the car park and Isabel and Max got stepped out quickly. They too were late because of a conversation between them. As he made his way into the school building, Max recalled their words a few minutes earlier.
…He was apprehensive as he approached the jeep parked in the Evans' driveway. Isabel was leaning against the side of the vehicle, her arms folded across her chest and a very annoyed expression showing on her face.
"Where were you last night, Max? Mom and Dad were worried. We needed you here Max; I needed you here. Do you have any idea what it's been like for me the last few days?" she cried, her eyes filling with fresh tears. She tried to will them away, but it was no use.
Max's expression softened and he pulled her into a comforting hug. "I'm sorry, Iz, I really am." He pulled back to look into her eyes. "I didn't mean to be gone that long, I lost track of time," he explained. He had honestly been intending on checking on Isabel when he'd arrived home, but it was so late and he had truly been exhausted.
Isabel wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
"Where were you, Max?" she asked again.
"I went to see Liz," he said and Isabel's features softened in understanding.
"Oh God, I didn't even think about how Liz was feeling. She and Alex were so close. She seemed so together and determined yesterday. How is she?" she enquired.
"She wasn't doing so good last night. So I stayed with her for a while," Max explained. "I apologised to her as well, you know for how I spoke to her at the Whitman's yesterday. I was angry with myself but took it out on her. We talked through some things and we're okay now," he paused momentarily. "I'm sorry that I wasn't here for you last night, but it was so late when I got back. I didn't want to disturb you."
"Max, it's okay, I understand. But about what Liz said yesterday, what if she's right and it wasn't an accident? We don't know who could be out there, looking for us. Oh God, what if it was Kivar? What if what happened to Alex is my fault? What if he used him to get to me? What if…" she was cut off when Max placed a consoling hand on her shoulder.
"Iz, calm down. It wasn't your fault, ok? Alex knew the dangers involved with knowing us and he still stuck around. He still wanted to be with you. I would never blame you for something like this, none of us could, not even Alex himself," he reassured her.
She raised her tear filled eyes to his and gave him a small watery smile. "Thank you, Max." He smiled back at her.
"Come on, it's getting late and we'd better get to school." He pulled her into a quick hug and helping her into the passenger seat of the jeep before getting in himself. He gave her a quick, reassuring glance before pulling out of the driveway.
As he drove, he thought back to their discussion. He hadn't offered any more information regarding his conversation with Liz. He didn't think that either Isabel or Michael would approve of he and Liz investigating the accident right now, especially with Isabel's decision that she was going to graduate early and move away to college in the fall.
He grimaced as he recalled that information, he would have to talk to her about it later. In his opinion, his sister was using college as an excuse to run from her emotions and that wasn't going to solve anything. It was also important for all of them to stick together right now, particularly if he and Liz did manage to uncover something in their search.
A smile crept onto Max's face at the thought of Liz. He would be able to see and talk to her again in a just couple of hours…
An urgent tug on his arm pulled Max out of his memories. He looked up; Isabel was standing at his side looking at him with an incredibly vulnerable expression. He nodded at her briefly and took her arm, linking it with his reassuringly before continuing into the school.
He understood completely how she was feeling at the moment. She was afraid to face their peers, unwilling to deal with the stares and whispers behind her back. He gave her arm a gentle squeeze as they swiftly walked through the corridors towards homeroom and the beginning to the school day.