Tiny Fragments of Truth:
Sometimes you have to get lost before you can find your way home.
A Dreamers One Shot
She hated crowds, parties bored her with their predictable adolescent nature, but Liz Parker loved chaos.
She liked to blame this juxtaposition of her character upon her best friend: Maria DeLuca. Where as Liz was scientific and precise, Maria was just a little bit more than slightly kooky. She was loud and boisterous, fun loving, and a total free spirit. Though they had been physically separated since graduating high school more than three years earlier – Maria going off to New York to pursue a music career, while Liz stayed in New Mexico and lost herself in her molecular biology undergraduate studies, her flighty friend was never far from her mind or her heart, and, after being nearly joined at the hip since the moment they sat together on the bus during their first day of kindergarten, it was hard for Liz to break her Maria honed habits, habits that included music, the cacophony of people nearby, and bright, energizing lights when she studied... which was why she currently found herself sitting on a barstool in the center of her campus' biggest and more popular bar, her notes for her midterm spread out around her and sticking faintly to the mahogany bar-top on which they rested. It wasn't the first time that she had taken up such prime drinking real estate without actually imbibing, and it certainly wouldn't be the last.
The bartenders despised her.
Though she always made sure that she ordered something every night, it was never alcoholic, and bartenders only made good money from customers who were there to drink. However, her patronage was technically not loitering, and what were they going to do anyway? Call the cops? She didn't think so, not when she knew for a fact that there were dozens of kids on campus, perhaps hundreds, who used fake ID's at that particular establishment on a nightly basis. So, in order to not incur the wrath of campus security, Liz was tolerated, and she didn't mind the staff's thinly veiled hostility. After all, she wasn't there to make friends; she just wanted to mind her own business, study, and then slip easily away when her work was finished. And, besides, she could commiserate with the bartenders.
Growing up as the only daughter of a small town diner owner, Liz had put her time in waiting on the public. Nothing had annoyed her more than high schoolers lingering at the Crashdown all night to do their homework after ordering nothing more than a milkshake. They had never tipped well, and they prevented her from cleaning a table or a booth and getting out of work just that much sooner. Now, though, she was the annoying customer, so, whenever she saw a bartender glare in her direction, she said a silent apology to all her classmates whom she had glowered at in a similar manner in the past.
The Crashdown, though, was probably another reason why she couldn't sit at night in her still and lonely apartment and study, why she had to constantly seek out interaction even if she only lingered on the fringes of her school's nightlife. Entering college, she had been so involved in the daily swing of Roswell life. Between her school activities and working for her parents, not to mention being Maria DeLuca's partner in crime, Liz's life had been bursting at the seams with constant activity. Though she had eagerly anticipated a little down time upon entering college, anticipated going to a place where everyone didn'tknow her, her parents, or her daily schedule down to exactly when she brushed her teeth every morning and night, she had been unprepared for the culture shock and not adept at handling it. Instead of savoring her peace and quiet, she had felt lost. Before her grades could suffer, though, she sought out the familiar once more... at least on a surface level.
Now, three years later, she was still trapped between the two opposite worlds, unsure of how she would ever bridge the gap between them and learn to appreciate the silence. If only it didn't seem so empty; if only she could find someone who could and wanted to share the still moments in life with her.
"I saw you from across the room, and suddenly I knew that being with you will help me find my home planet."
Without looking up from her notes, Liz responded blandly, monotonously, "wow. Original. Did you think of that all on your own, or did it take your entire table of liquor laced Lotharios to come up with that gem of a pick up line?"
When he didn't immediately turn away or call her a bitch but, rather, laughed – a deep, friendly sound that reverberated inside of her and warmed her otherwise pale cheeks, she relented somewhat and peeked at the man beside her. While a pick-up artist he was not, he was definitely something. Attraction ricocheted through her, electrifying her skin, making her fingers tremble, and illuminating her gaze as she found her own brown eyes meeting the intrigued, dark orbs across from her. He was leaning down upon the bar, his forearms bare, and she had the sudden desire to trail her fingernail along the ridge of his wrist bone and then up the heavily muscled, tanned appendage it was connected to.
"Cheesy attempt at seduction aside, do you care if I sit down beside you?"
Liz shrugged nonchalantly. "Be my guest. If nothing else, your drunk presence might make the bartender stop shooting death rays in my direction if only for a few minutes."
"Sorry to disappoint but I don't drink."
Doubt laced her voice. "You don't?"
"Had a bad reaction the first time I tried it," the stranger informed her. "Ever since, I've stuck to the soft stuff – cherry coke and coffee mainly."
"So, you came up here without liquid courage?" Liz laughed. "I doubt that. No one could possibly come up with such a ridiculous pick up line sober unless..."
Folding her arms over her chest, she swiveled on her bar stool and observed him cooly. "Who told you?"
His handsome brow furrowed. "Told me what?"
"That I was from Roswell. There's no other reason why you'd reference aliens otherwise."
The man across from her held up his hands in the classic defensive gesture. "Honestly, I had no idea."
"Just because I said that I don't drink, do not assume that my friends show the same restraint."
Glancing back over her shoulder, Liz saw two other guys sitting at the booth from where her would-be seducer had wandered over from. They were grinning and laughing, hooting and hollering, pounding the table and giving their buddy the thumbs up sign. The sight of them reminded her of why she typically didn't date guys her own age. After several disastrous relationships in high school, she had finally learned her lesson. Though she was far from convent ready, she was particular.
"Hence why I wanted to stay here with you for a little while." At that, she quirked her brow, silently requesting more of an explanation. "They're great. We've been friends for years, but, when they get like this, when they're..."
"So drunk that they think 'being with you will help me find my home planet' is a good pick-up line," Liz finished for him, causing the stranger who didn't seem so strange now to laugh.
"Exactly," he agreed with her. "I just needed a break."
"I can understand that." And she did. Needing a break had been part of the reason why she chose to remain in New Mexico instead of following Maria to The Big Apple. "What I don't get, though, is why me? There are a dozen other women in this bar tonight, women far more approachable than I ever appear to be. Their weak pick-up line or not, you took advantage of it; you used it. Why?"
She had to bite her lip to hold back a smile when she saw his ears suddenly burn red. Glancing away, her discussion partner replied, "they might have been aware of the fact that I've noticed you in here before."
"Because I sit at a bar and read?"
Taking an out when she presented one to him, he jumped upon her question and posed one of his own. "Why do you do that?"
"I like the company," Liz answered without missing a beat.
He chuckled. "But you don't talk to anyone."
"You don't have to be a participant in a conversation to appreciate what's being said."
"Philosophy major," he guessed with narrowed, appraising eyes, his attention unwavering.
This time, it was her turn to laugh, but Liz was surprised by how joyous the gesture proved to be, how infectious his good mood was. Tossing her head back, she appreciated the humor of the moment to its full potential, relishing the unexpected pleasure of a new acquaintance's companionship. "Hardly. I'm studying molecular biology." He whistled, obviously impressed. Though she was used to inspiring several different reactions from men when she revealed her choice in future careers – intimidation, dismay, and sometimes even disgust that a woman would ever major in something so unfeminine, his instantaneous acceptance and approval were a new experience, one she found to be exhilarating. Why his opinion should matter to her, she had no idea, but it did. "What about you?"
"Oh, well, I'm supposed to be a lawyer – follow in my father's footsteps and join the family firm."
Her joy dimmed somewhat at his apparent unhappiness. Gently, Liz remonstrated, "that's not what I asked." Clarifying, she continued, "I don't care what your dad wants you do; I want to know what you want from life."
"You don't hold your punches, do you," he asked rhetorically, the right corner of his mouth quirking up wryly. "Straight for the kill. Shouldn't we at least exchange names first before we delve into the big stuff?"
"No, I don't think so," she spoke quickly, confidently. "In fact, I think your answer will determine whether or not I even want to find out who you are."
She shrugged dismissively, pretending to not care when in all actuality she cared far more than she was comfortable even admitting to herself. Physically, she had found him attractive from the second she peered through her lashes to catch a glimpse of him, and, mentally, they had been bantering back and forth for several minutes now, both qualities which she believed to be positive signs, but Liz needed to know his answer to her question. For some reason, she just instinctively knew that if he passed this one small test, he'd be able to pass all the others. That realization was stunning, nerve wracking, and absolutely dizzying all at the same time, but she had learned at a young age to trust intuition, whether that was very scientific of her or not. After all, it was there for a reason.
"So, something tells me that I shouldn't go with the tried and true 'I don't know' response in this situation, huh?"
She chuckled. "Yeah, I wouldn't recommend it."
"Alright, then," her acquaintance accepted her advice. Quirking a brow, he asked hopefully, "give me a minute to think about it?"
She nodded her assent before turning back around on her barstool to gather up her notes and papers. Though she still had more studying to do, Liz knew that she wouldn't be able to return to her task that evening. Right or wrong answer, the man beside her had somehow managed to distract her from both her work and her own thoughts, no small feat in and of itself. In just a few short minutes, he had succeeded in making the rest of the bar, even the rest of the world, fade into the background, the crowd around them nothing more than a persistent yet ignorable buzzing from the shadows. Though she intended for her movements to be calm and steady, she felt her hands move disjointedly as though her mind's instructions were not quite making their way through her central nervous system smoothly. Something was distracting them, and that something was far more intriguing than anything her college textbooks had to offer. When it came to science, Liz could honestly say that such an event had never occurred with her before – no man had ever seemed more appealing than learning.
"Ten minutes ago, I would have told you that I just wanted to be happy. Whatever I ended up doing in the future, I would have said that I wanted to like my job." His words had startled her, drawn her back towards him, her things forgotten as she intensely focused upon what the guy beside her had to say. "But right now...?" He met her gaze, held it, refused to blink. "Right now, I don't care about what I'm someday going to do for a living. My career... that'll eventually work itself out. Right now, what I want from my life is truth, friendship, love. I want a wife, and kids, and a dog who's afraid of his own tail but chases garbage trucks. I want you to tell me your name so that I can tell you mine."
She didn't hesitate to respond. "Ten minutes ago, if you would have used that as your pick up line, you would have been calling me Liz this whole time."
She rolled her eyes, amused by his formality. On the other hand, though, the inquiry also impressed her, for, if he wanted nothing more from her but bragging rights and yet another number saved in his cell phone, he never would have bothered to ask for her last name in the first place. She would have just been 'Liz from the bar.' By asking for her last name, he was telling her that she was more than just a random woman his friends had sent him over to flirt with. So, with that in mind, she held out her hand to shake his, finishing the introduction. "Liz Parker."
He grinned – a wide, infectious grin that seemed to make his eyes dance with pleasure – and returned the gesture. "Max Evans."
And that's when it happened.
From the moment he stepped up beside her, he had made the rest of the room dim, second by second causing more and more of her surroundings to fall away and disappear, but, when his hand touched her own, when his slightly calloused palm slid against her much softer one, when his fingers webbed around and linked with hers, for the first time in her life, Liz knew the beauty and serenity of quiet, the ecstasy of stillness. His touch sent fire sizzling through her veins and chills racing up and down her spine; his touch made her see things: the endless desert sky at night sprinkled with millions of tiny, brilliant stars. Suddenly, she was no longer in a typical college bar but lost in an infinity she recognized as safe, as home, as Max Evans.
The peace evaporated just as quickly as it had unexpectedly engulfed her. Looking down, she saw that her hand was now empty.
"What the hell was that?"
Picking up her gaze, she locked eyes with the man sitting across from her once more. "I... I don't...?"
"Has that ever happened to you before," he pressed her, leaning forward. In his intensity, he moved to grab her shoulders, both as a means to root them both in the here and now and to steady her suddenly shaky form, but, at the last minute, he held back. She watched as he glanced around to make sure that no one was looking at them and felt relieved that he restrained himself, not because she didn't want him to touch her again but because she was afraid of what everyone else might see if he did. "I've never felt anything like that before."
She startled him when she stood up, when she hastily threw her things into her bag and moved to leave. "What are you...?"
Stopping behind him, Liz waited until he spun around to face her once more. "That was the most... amazing thing that has ever happened to me before. I can't describe it, and I'm not even sure that I would want to try to. What I do know, though, is that I want it to happen again." Though he said nothing, she could read in his eyes that he felt the same way. With his eagerness spurring her on, Liz did something completely out of character, something that would make her parents sleepless with worry, something that Maria would be proud of. "Come home with me tonight."
Max didn't touch her again until they were safely ensconced in her apartment, the door locked and the curtains closed against the rest of the world. Though it was only a little more than a ten minute walk from the bar back to where she lived, the mile had seemed to stretch on endlessly. By the time she crossed the threshold of her home, Liz felt breathless with anticipation, her heart beating out a tattoo that, if she didn't know any better, she would said screamed 'touch, feel, taste, connect, live' on a constant loop. And, as he shut the door behind them and turned to face her, she saw a similar desperation raging across his attractive features. Trapped in the web of his gaze, she thought of what it must be like to be hunted while, at the same time, cherished beyond what their short association should ever have been able to inspire.
Instinctively, she took several steps back until she was pressed up against the wall, not in an effort to escape from him but in the hopes of making him follow. He did, stalking forward. In response, Liz's body prepared for his touch. Her pupils flared, widened, nearly extinguished the mocha brown of her irises; her breathing became shallow, causing her chest to rise higher and higher with every successive inhalation in what she knew appeared to be a blatant invitation; and, despite the sexual tension arcing between them, her muscles relaxed, became loose and supple in their need and anticipation. Never before had she felt so aroused... and all that occurred before he even touched her again.
With just the barest caress of his fingers against the material of her coat, Max slid the garment effortlessly to the floor. Though in the back of her mind she knew that she should have heard it land at her feet, Liz couldn't hear anything but her body's reaction to the man standing before her. Dimly, she realized that he wasn't wearing a coat and fleetingly wondered, in their haste to leave the bar, if he had accidentally – or maybe even on purpose – left it behind. She didn't linger on that thought very long, however, for in the next moment, she felt Max brush against her bare skin once more.
As he trailed his index finger down the modest v-neck of her sweater, outlining her exposed flesh, her head fell to the side and lulled languidly as she enjoyed the sensual sensations flooding both her body and her mind. Liz gasped. Sparks of adrenaline and temptation jumped from his hands to land and then rekindle upon her chest before returning back to him tenfold, and, in that connection, she saw a red sky - thick with a syrup like atmosphere, tasted the sting of tabasco sauce, and smelled the crisp, fresh scent of lemons. Somehow, she just knew that, growing up, Max had gone to sleep at night and woke up every morning to that very smell blossoming, flourishing, breathing outside of his bedroom window.
Hearing the excitement laced with fear in his voice, she opened her eyes and then followed his gaze down to where it was locked upon her chest. What she found rocked the scientist within her to the core, but caused the base, instinctive woman inside of her to flare to life. Wherever Max touched her, her skin would glow with a radiant, soft warmth of light. With every moment she spent with him, he was illuminating aspects of her that she had never known existed before... literally and figuratively.
"What... I don't... Max...?"
"I... this has never happened before." Simultaneously, they both looked up to reunite their gazes. "I... I don't know what's happening here. Do you...," she could hear the regret in his voice. "Do you want to stop?"
Without thinking, Liz replied, "no."
Missing the feeling of being close to him, she lifted her hands to trail her own fingers over his jaw, luxuriating in the sensation of his rough, shadowed skin prickling against the tender flesh of her digits. As soon as they were reconnected, she saw a set of kind, blue eyes and just simply knew that they belonged to his mother... yet, at the same time, didn't. Breathing heavily from her all consuming, near over-powering arousal, Liz answered, "I don't want to stop. Rationally, I know that we should, but..."
"It just feels too good," he finished for her.
She stood up on her tiptoes, bringing their faces close enough so that she could nuzzle against him, her nose flirting dangerously close to his. Their breaths mingled. "And I need to see where this all goes, how far we can take this, what it means."
Though her lids were closed, her lashes heavy against the apples of her cheeks, Liz could feel Max grin in her direction as he lowered his mouth towards hers. Just before their lips touched, she heard him whisper, "my little scientist," and then everything else faded to a blissful nothingness. They and the feelings they inspired by being together were all that existed.
When his tongue pressed against the seam of her mouth, begging for entrance, she saw a lake as thick as molasses and somehow knew what it would be like to swim in such a mysterious environment. When he slipped his hand underneath her sweater and flattened his palm against the small of her back, tugging her just that much closer, she saw a little blonde girl reach out towards him. When he lifted her off the ground just enough so that their lower bodies could burn against each other in an imitation of what it would be like to be joined as one, she saw a night sky with three moons. When Max trailed his lips away from her own to feast them upon the vulnerable skin of her neck, she saw a little toy house and knew immediately just how important it was to the man whose arms she was cradled in so suggestively, so possessively, so wantonly.
When she raked her fingers through his hair on their stumbling way back to her bedroom, she ran with him as a child through the fluttering laundry in his backyard, the scent of clean wash obliterating everything else for just a brief second. When they melted into the folds of her blankets, his body coming to rest on top of hers, deliciously heavy in its intent, she could hear the sound of the galaxy passing around her, through her as she soared through both time and space. When she helped him unzip his pants and push them down his trim, narrow hips, she licked her lips in a blatant suggestion and tasted cherry coke again for the first time. And when the crisp hair of his thigh brushed against the more sensitive skin of her own legs, Liz touched death through their connection and didn't even care.
When he finally slid into her, slowly at first and then in a rush as though his patience had snapped, the images came faster, were brighter, held more meaning, and she started to see some of her own past, especially glimpses of Max seeing her over the past three years of college and admiring her, wanting her from afar, never quite daring to touch. It was like a tumbling kaleidoscope of memories that didn't fit together until their simultaneous climaxes were upon them, and, as one, they shattered into tiny fragments of truth. Her release was the most brilliant, electrifying, haunting moment of her entire life. And, as Liz floated on a cloud of sexual euphoria and unnatural warmth afterwards, she realized that she knew real honesty for the first time.
Max Evans was not of this world... and she was in love with him.
Several hours had passed and her body was still pleasantly humming, but Liz knew that she and Max needed to talk... and then they needed to do whatever it was they had just experienced together again. And again. And again. Though she had been half laying on top of him, her head pillowed diagonally over his chest while their legs tangled helplessly together, Liz rolled so that she was resting on her side, facing him, but kept their limbs wound together if for no other reason than because she was still glowing from his touch and wanted to see his face while they talked.
Despite the near cataclysmic seriousness of their actions, her mood was light, her spirit playful. "I've never said this to a man before, but you would make one amazing... thesis topic." He laughed, pulled her closer, and then teasingly slapped her bare backside. "So...," Liz continued, a wickedly naughty gleam to her sparkling eyes. "Did I just... de-virginize you?" That comment earned her derriere a playful pinch. "Seriously, though, how did you ever... explain this to girls in the past?"
"Like I told you earlier, this has never happened with anyone else."
Pleased by his response, she blushed and then, seeing that he had noticed her pleasure, dipped her head and began to draw lazy pictures upon his chest. Despite their recently intimacy, her next question was offered almost shyly, "so, why me?"
She felt Max shrug. "Maybe the timing was right. Maybe I needed to feel a certain way about a woman before this could happen. Maybe it was... our destiny."
"Destiny," she repeated, slightly disbelievingly.
"Or fate. Serendipity. Luck. Call it whatever you want, but I don't believe in coincidences," Max informed her. "Whatever the reason, this was supposed to happen with you; I was supposed to figured out who... what I am with you."
"So, now what?"
Making her giggle, he rolled them both over so that he was hovering over top of her, his legs spreading her thighs apart once more to cradle him. "Oh, we need to do research – lots, and lots, and lots of research."
Pretending to want to sit up, Liz pressed against his chest and began to lift her upper body away from the bed. "Well, in that case, I have an access key to the campus' lab. We could go there now and run some..."
Her teasing words were cut off when he ran his tongue invitingly along her lower lip. "Or we could just stay here."
"Here works, too," she agreed, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him down further.
As their mouths fused together, the sparks of images coalesced into memories once more, only this time, instead of watching Max's life unfold before her, she began to wade through his heart, his feelings, his emotions transcending into and through her. Opening herself and clearing her mind, she tried to return and give the awe-inspiring experience back to him as well. Just as she was becoming lost in the sensation of being with Max, he surprised her by rolling them over so that she was hovering above him.
"To think this all started with a pick-up line."
Grinning in both recollection and amusement, Liz complimented, "the top pre-seduction line ever."