I must have looked like a deer caught in the headlights, shaking like a leaf, and a couple of other fitting idioms, as Max's father calmly looked at me with something akin to amusement in his eyes.
"Mr.- Dr. Evans," I stuttered and was gripped by the ridiculous temptation to curtsey and mumble apologies under my breath while moving backwards with my eyes fixed at the ground.
Like the perfect embarrassed servant girl from the 18th century.
But I fought the inclination and remained straight, swallowed back my mortification at getting caught, and forced myself to meet his dark brown eyes straight on.
"Are you trying to break my son's window?" Mr. Evans asked curiously.
My throat was dry. My hands were trembling. "It's stupid, really." I forced a nervous laughter across my dry lips. "I wanted to talk to Max about something, but I don't have his number. So-"
"We have a front door, Ms. Parker," Mr. Evans enlightened me, lifting one of his eyebrows in beguilement.
I bit my lower lip. "I didn't want to bother you." I let the two pebbles I held in my hand - which I had not had the chance to throw - drop to the ground, and I followed their descent with my eyes, avoiding Mr. Evans' eyes. "Really. If you could just let Max know that I'm-"
"Actually," Mr. Evans interrupted - again - and I looked up at him to notice him fold his arms across his chest and casually lean against the white washed wall of his impressive home. "We were just about to have dinner. We would love it if you would join us."
There was something of a warm smile on his face while I felt my own face pale and instant cold sweat dampen my palms. Dinner? With the Evans family?
Eh. I would rather eat cigarette buts and roll my body over broken glass.
"That's very kind of you, Dr. Evans," I responded politely. My face felt tight and clammy. "But I've already eaten."
"Please," Mr. Evans said, his face softening further. "We've come to understand that you are now a rather big part of Max's life-"
I frowned. I am?
"-and both the missus and I would really like to get to know you better."
Well, if you put it that way.
No. No way in hell.
I shook my head, my polite smile wobbling. "Really. Thank you. But I'll catch up with Max at school. It was nothing urgent."
I froze as Mrs. Evans appeared around the corner, her eyes widening in surprise as she saw me.
Great. I guess my 'sneaking around'-career was officially deemed extremely brief and unsuccessful.
"Liz?" She frowned before her face lit up with a beautiful and welcoming smile. "Liz Parker?"
I felt stupid. The initial fear about standing face to face - on my own - with Mr. Evans was quickly evaporating. Mr. Evans seemed to be in a good mood today, and Mrs. Evans just seemed very warm and maternal. Something my tired heart craved right now, in the wake of my mother's death.
"Yeah," I replied sheepishly.
"What are you doing here?" Mrs. Evans asked, coming to stand next to her husband.
"She wanted to speak to Max," Mr. Evans replied easily, smiling at his wife.
"Oh," a shadow briefly fell over Mrs. Evans' face before she smiled.
I frowned. What was that about?
"That's nice of you to come over," Mrs. Evans continued. She indicated towards the front door. "Won't you come inside? We were just about to have dinner and there's plenty of food to go around."
"I already tried that," Mr. Evans said good-naturedly and their neighborly behavior had me cringing with danger.
I felt like I was part of a replica of 'The Truman Show', with the cheery smiles and the overly fake and polite conversation. Of course, Mrs. Evans had been nothing but polite to me during our prior interactions, but Mr. Evans was a totally different matter.
"Apparently, she is not hungry," Mr. Evans added, his eyes darkening as he looked back at me, and a shiver raced down my spine.
"Nonsense," Mrs. Evans said, brushing the argument away with big waving hand movements before stepping up to me (I tensed) and placing her arm around my shoulders. "When was the last time you had a home cooked meal, honey?" Her tone turned softer as my body stiffened at her close proximity. "Considering what you've been through, you poor thing."
The tears built quickly and uninhibited in my eyes and I swallowed with panic.
Don't cry. Don't cry.
I felt her concerned eyes on my profile and she gave my shoulder a squeeze before guiding us towards the front of the house. "That's what I thought. Come on. Let's get you something to eat."
It felt surreal to be walking between Max's parents to the front door of his house, his mother's arm wrapped comfortably around my shoulders, in some way shielding and protecting me against her own husband.
"Look who we found!" Mrs. Evans announced as we walked through the door and my eyes fell on a stunned Isabel, who was descending the stairs. She momentarily froze, her hand on the railing, before an uncertain smile bloomed on her perfect lips.
"Liz?" she walked up to me and I stiffened as she stepped straight into my personal space, her mother making room for her by taking a step back and releasing her hold on my shoulders, and Isabel kissed both my cheeks in greeting.
With the pecking of cheeks, I had now entered the French version of 'The Truman Show'.
Isabel pulled back, intrigued curiosity on her beautiful face. "What are you doing here?"
"I-" I had to clear my throat, my vocal cords too stunned to function, "I wanted to talk to Max about something."
Isabel smiled in understanding. "Oh. Of course."
"And we figured that we would invite Liz to dinner," Mrs. Evans clarified behind me before closing the distance between herself and the bottom of the stairs. Grabbing the railing, she leaned forward, angling her face upwards, and called out, "Max! Dinner's ready!"
My heart beat tripped at the anticipation of his arrival. I tried to tell myself that I was just relieved that he would be joining us - because his presence made me feel safe - but I knew deep down that there were more feelings involved than mere anticipated protection.
"Helena, we have a guest," Mrs. Evans said to a dark-haired petite girl - a couple of years older than me. "Set the table for one more person."
The girl curtsied (she actually curtsied!) and nodded, "Yes, Ma'am."
I jumped as I felt someone take my hand. I looked into Isabel's apologetic eyes as she tugged on my hand. "Your seat is over here."
If this was a dream, I really wanted to wake up now. This family was making me really uncomfortable.
"How are you doing, Liz?" Isabel asked with deep, concerned eyes as she led me to a seat. For a second I thought she was referring to my injuries; the burns that Max had healed and no one but Max and I knew about.
But then I realized that she meant my mother. She was wondering how I was dealing with the loss of my mother.
I managed a semi-grateful smile for her concern as I sank into the seat, even though I really didn't want to talk about what had happened. "Better. Thanks."
Isabel's nod of understanding was interrupted by her snapping her eyes up to something behind me, a brief second of darkness and worry across her face, before her composure returned.
I followed her line of vision, turning my head over my shoulder, and couldn't stop the gasp that fell from my lips.
It was Max. Coming down the stairs. Sporting a black eye with a cut across his bottom lip, and a very ginger walk.
I shot up from the beautifully cut mahogany chair and took an instinctive step towards him. That's when he saw me, his careful steps on the stairs halting. The horror on his face arrested my movement.
Pain cut through my heart. He was in pain. Why was he hurt?
As Max tried to reign in his shock at seeing me in his house - with his family - I whipped accusing eyes towards Max's father. Whatever had happened, I was certain that he was somehow involved.
I trembled as I found his eyes already trained on me, a silent challenge in those dark brown eyes, and I paled as the truth hit me.
This was a warning. This is why Mr. Evans had invited me inside, which went against all of his previous notions towards getting Max and I to not see each other.
Mr. Evans wanted me to see this. He wanted me to see that Max was hurt.
My breath was stuck in my throat as I tried to control the tears of anger and fear from flooding my eyes.
What kind of monster are you?
I was almost certain that he could read the unspoken question in my eyes, because he inclined his head slightly to the side and gave me a polite nod in acknowledgement.
Anger was building as I looked back at Max. His eyes were trained on me as he reached the bottom landing of the stairs.
"We have a guest, Max," Mrs. Evans said brightly, as though immune to the tension in the room.
Max grimaced with pain as he attempted to straighten some. I took a half-step towards him, but stopped myself. I felt Mr. Evans' eyes on me, analyzing my every move.
"Yes, I can see that," Max practically grunted as he seemed to have to use a lot of energy to get his feet moving.
I turned my head in Isabel's direction, who was standing rigidly next to me, without removing my eyes from Max's face. Under my breath, I bit out, "What happened?"
"He got into a fight," Isabel answered without missing a beat. But her voice was weak and unconvincing.
I clenched my fists along the sides of my body. Why were they using Max as a punching bag? And why hadn't he healed himself? He should be able to heal himself, right? He had, after all, been without burns the days after the fire. So he must have healed himself.
I flickered my eyes towards Mr. Evans - who was still watching me speculatively - and wondered if he also had the ability to heal. And if so; why hadn't he healed his son?
Instead, they were all standing around watching Max as he, with barely disguised effort, tried to cross the floor to the table. As though him being hurt was nothing out of the ordinary.
My anger at the lack of humanity in this room was threatening to make me explode. Ignoring the looks of his family, I walked straight up to Max.
His eyes widened as I paused in front of him, his warm, hurting eyes (my tears were threatening to fall at his displayed vulnerability) searched my face.
"What are you doing here?" he whispered, low enough to be meant only for my ears. There was wonder in his voice, like he could not quite believe that I was standing in front of him.
"Another unprovoked attack?" I bit out sarcastically, referring to his precedent explanation as to who had hurt him the last time.
I wasn't angry with him. I was angry with this whole situation. With the unfairness of whatever the hell was happening to Max.
And for some reason, despite my annoyed question, he seemed to understand this as he gave me a half-hearted smirk. "Something like that."
I swallowed, before moving to his side, ducking my head under his elbow, grabbing his hand to drape his arm across my shoulder while aligning the side of my body with his.
"You don't have to-" he started, but fell silent as I glared at him angrily.
You're in pain, Evans. Let me help you.
"Thank you," he mumbled reluctantly under his breath as I guided him to the table. His body was like a furnace next to mine and I was overcome with a desperate desire to wrap myself inside the confines of his whole body and hug him tightly.
But we were not alone.
Their eyes were following our movement to the table silently. My mind flashed to the night of the latest party I had attended. Of the beautiful silent people with their penetrating and eerie stares.
I helped Max sit down and tried to let his faint groans of pain float past me unnoticed. But I noticed and it made me seek out Mr. Evans indifferent face repeatedly.
"Such a pleasure to have you here," Mrs. Evans said, a tinge of nervousness betraying her cheerfulness, as she clapped her hands together and ordered everyone to take a seat.
The dinner proceeded surprisingly uneventfully. Max was seated next to me and I was highly in tune with his body heat and the way his eyes kept traveling to my face - when he thought I wasn't noticing. The conversation was polite with even a few funny lines from Isabel (who knew that she could be funny?) which eased up on the tension.
To my relief, the family left the subject of the death of my mom more or less alone. Mrs. Evans offered her condolences at one point, but other than that it was the regular 'What are your plans after finishing High School?' and 'Which colleges are you applying to?' type of questions.
Surprisingly, dinner was not nearly as dreadful as I had anticipated. And the food was delicious.
"Max, Liz," Mr. Evans announced as everyone had scraped their plates clean, standing from his chair and looking across the table to where I was seated next to his son. "Would you please join me in my study?"
And just like that, the small piece of comfort I had built up in the company of these people was squashed. I glanced at Max, saw him blanch, and felt my own body grow cold.
Judging from Max's reaction, this was not good.
"Sure, Dad," Max replied and painfully got to his feet.
I fumbled with my hands in the air, wanting to help him, but he brushed them off. I put the serviette, which I'd kept across my lap, onto the table (yep, fancy people had serviettes around even during casual dinners), looked briefly at Mrs. Evans with a "Thank you so much for dinner," and missed her warm smile as my eyes immediately returned to Max's uneasy rise from the table.
"My pleasure, honey," Mrs. Evans replied and I stood up next to Max.
As he slightly bent at the waist, grabbing onto the table for support (what the hell had happened to him?!) I grabbed his hand. He resisted me at first, trying to pull his hand away, but I gave him a firm warning look and squeezed his hand tighter.
Holding his hand was not only for his benefit. I needed the comfort it brought if I was going to 'join Mr. Evans in his study'.
"We'll be right back," Mr. Evans promised with a smile directed towards the remaining dining members, before he lead the way to the back of the large dining room, turned right around a corner and walked down a long corridor.
I clenched my hand with Max's and tried to focus on breathing. My nerves were wreaking havoc on my emotional control.
I felt Max's eyes frequently stray to my face and could hear his laborious breaths with every step, but I forced my eyes to look forward. To keep my eyes on the enemy: Mr. Evans.
He stopped at a dark wooden door, swung it open and stepped to the side while gesturing us inside.
"Please," he smiled at me and I almost stumbled on the threshold, which had unexpectedly appeared out of the floor.
Max's body brushed against mine as he silently buffered my stumble and there was a silent click as the door closed behind us.
We were alone.
With Mr. Evans.
"So, Ms. Parker." Mr. Evans looked at me intently and I fought the impulse to hide behind Max. Broken Max. "How much, exactly, has Max told you?"
Max went stiff beside me and my courage evaporated.
"About what?" I asked, surprised that I could actually get any words out around the big lump in my throat. But my voice was weak and wavering. Not the confident one of someone that was telling the truth.
Mr. Evans chuckled, but there was nothing funny about the look in his eyes. "About himself. About what he can do."
"Dad. She doesn't know anything. Leave her out of this."
Max's presence was strong behind my back. He demanded space and authority, even when he was pushed into a corner weakened by encompassing physical damages.
"Lying is what got you into this mess, son," Mr. Evans said with a pointed look at Max.
Was he referring to me being here? To Max being injured? What mess?
"He hasn't, for starters-" I said, my voice gaining strength as anger crept back into me, "-told me why he keeps on getting hurt. Is it you? Are you hurting him? Or is it Sean's father, the Sergeant?"
Mr. Evans' facial expression was bemused up until the point when I mentioned Sean Carter's father. His eyes narrowed with danger and in two rapid steps he had closed the distance between us, grabbing me by my upper arms.
"Ow," I cried out in surprise and startled fear.
Max reacted by grabbing a hold of one of his father's arms and hissing out in warning, "Let her go."
"How does she know about the sergeant?" Mr. Evans snapped, his hold on my arms tightening painfully, as he stared at his offspring.
"You're hurting me," I gasped, imagining bruises forming already.
"I don't know," Max replied, his hand still around his father's bicep, pulling, but not helping much in his weakened state. His eyes kept flickering worriedly to my face. "She came up with that all on her own."
"Liar," Mr. Evans accused his son and abruptly let go of me.
I inhaled sharply and took a quick step backwards, my back slamming into a large picture frame hanging on the wall behind me.
Max turned to look at me, asking softly, "You okay?"
I nodded mutely, rubbing the sore spots on my upper arms. I should report that guy. I really should.
Mr. Evans tiredly shook his head. "Have I taught you nothing? Along comes a beautiful girl and you start thinking with your dick."
I swallowed, unintentionally blushing at Mr. Evans' choice of words. Max was as tense as a violin string as he bit out, "She saw me heal Isabel, okay?"
Wait. What? I saw what?
"No, no, I didn't-" I started but Mr. Evans interrupted me with an eye roll, still in conversation with Max. The eye-roll almost looked comical on his face. Completely misplaced.
"That's old news. I got as much from Sarge."
"What I would like to know is why you haven't eliminated the problem? Even after Sarge's recommendation..."
"I did," Max objected sullenly.
It felt like I was taking part in a regular father-to-teenager reprimanding, but my gut was telling me something very different. This was much too serious.
"She doesn't remember me healing Isabel," Max said and gestured in my direction. "Right, Liz?"
I shook my head in earnest. This was probably the only thing I would be able to be truthful about.
"But now that you've so subtly revealed to her that I have," Max pointed out and I watched Mr. Evans' face grow darker.
"Don't get smart with me," he warned and I searched out Max's hand again.
He let me take it, squeezing my fingers gently after weaving his fingers through mine.
"There's something else," Mr. Evans mused slowly, thoughtfully. "She knows something. Why else do we keep finding her in these 'odd'-" he smiled as though he had uttered a joke, "- 'situations'?"
"I've already told you," Max said through clenched teeth. Impatient frustration in his voice. "I found her at her house, at the fire, and since then she's been having a lot of questions. Why I was there? Why I didn't help her mom." Max shot me an exasperated look. "She won't stop asking questions."
His hand squeezed tighter around mine. He was nervous. Even though I couldn't tell from the mask he was putting on towards his father, I could feel it in the dampness of his palm in mine.
I mustered up a strained smile. "Yeah. That's me. Nosy as hell."
Mr. Evans paused for a second and I felt a foreboding of darkness creep up my back. What would he do?
"I might as well take a look myself then," he stated emotionlessly.
I froze. What?
Mr. Evans took a step closer to me again and I automatically walked sideways, pressing myself into Max.
Aliens. That's the word that was flying through my head. They might be aliens.
Sudden blinding fear was making my knees weak and I was fighting the adrenaline pumping harshly through my heart as Max pulled on our joined hands, angling me behind his body.
"I'll do it," Max objected, and there was a no nonsense sharpness to voice.
"I think you've done enough," Mr. Evans said slowly, taking a hold of my free arm and roughly pulling me out from behind Max.
"No," I whispered brokenly.
I was scared now. I didn't know what Mr. Evans meant by 'taking a look'. Millions of frantic thoughts were running through my head. Most of them of my dead mom and how she had been special and maybe that's why she was no longer with me. Thoughts of how dangerous these people probably were and that they wouldn't shy away from committing murder - if needed.
"Dad, please," Max said quickly, breathlessly, as he still held tightly onto my hand.
Mr. Evans shook his head in cool annoyance. "Just a look, Max. Relax."
"Give her a second, okay? Just a second."
Max's plea was quietly considered by Mr. Evans before he reluctantly nodded his assent. "Make it quick."
Max spun around, facing me. His eyes were frantic and scared, but they softened at the tears in my eyes. He released my hand and brought both of his hands up to cradle my face.
My eyes drifted closed at the contact and my closed eyelids pushed tears, which had been collecting in my eyes, down my cheeks.
"Don't let him," I whispered brokenly.
"He won't harm you," Max whispered back. "Okay?"
His question coaxed me to look up at him and there was a small encouraging smile on his cut lip as he added, "Trust me."
"What will he do?" I asked thinly.
Max turned serious. "He's going to look through your mind. Your memory. And then he'll remove the ones that are connected to me - the atypical memories concerning me."
No. No. I shook my head. I didn't want him to remove them. He was going to make me forget? Everything that I've learnt? I would go back to thinking that mom's death had been an accident? That Sean Carter was harmless?
That Max Evans was an arrogant jock?
"Don't let him," I repeated.
The pad of his thumb repeatedly brushed against my cheek. "Thank you for these last couple of weeks."
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Unbreakable - A Beautiful Lie · (Roswell Fanfiction) · √Fanfiction
I saw him right before Max did. When he did, his gasped "Fuck" magnified the jump of fear made by my body when I found myself standing merely two feet from an alien. His large bottomless black eyes were staring emptily into mine and I could see the...