Disclaimer: Characters belong to Whedon, Metz, Katims and UPN. No infringement intended.
Category: Crossover - Buffy/Max
Summary: Two people getting away from it all have a chance run in. Spoilers: Buffy The Vampire Slayer season 5 episode 2. Roswell season 3 episode 1.
The sky blue Chevelle pulled into the nearly empty lot, kicking up the smallest of dirt clouds. Haunted amber eyes swept the parking lot before the man hauled himself out of the car and through the doors of the motel lobby. One step inside the greasy doorway and he backed right out again. There were too many people there.
The night enveloped his body halfway to his car. Even the oily leather jacket he wored couldn't keep the chill off him. Stopping, he took a good look around. Where was he? It didn't look like New Mexico and he'd seen Arizona enough to know he wasn't there either.
His sun bleached hair fell in his eyes as he thought of her once again. She had counted on him and he had let her down. He kept doing that to her and she kept taking him back. Only this time, even that wasn't a sure thing.
He put his keys in his pocket and reached down to let the air out of his tires to keep it safe from thieves while he took a walk. He just needed some time alone to get his thoughts straight. He was too young to have so many people depending on him, to have so many secrets from the people he loved.
With his eyes on the ground, he kept walking. The dirt turned to concrete turned into grass and trees. He couldn't even think one single thought at a time. They all bombarded him at once with no time for reprieve. When he looked up, he was standing in a graveyard. "Figures that you'd end up here," he told himself aloud.
"What part of 'I'm okay' do you guys not get? If one more person tries to make me happy, I'm seriously gonna kill someone." A voice growled out of nowhere. He swallowed thickly and held perfectly still. It sounded like a girl but still very scary. "I can hear you breathing. Leave me alone. You'd think this was the last place in the world I would want to be and I come here to get away from all the nosy friends I've got."
"Um... are you talking to me?" He managed to get out. "I... I'm not from around here and I think I'm kinda lost..."
"Oh." He looked up just in time to see a thin blond stand up from behind a large tombstone. "Sorry."
"I'll just go. You need to be alone and I need to be alone... and I need to be finding my car." He glanced around, not even sure which direction he had come from. "Happen to know where the greasy motel place is?"
"Sorry. I'm more of a townie. Outside of town... I try not to go there if I can avoid it." She shrugged and hopped up on an above ground tomb. "You are most definitely not from here but you look like you belong here."
"Um... ok?" He turned once more to try and get his bearings. "I am really lost... what state am I in?"
"Ok. You're lost. I believe you. This is California." She gave him a small smile and he leaned on the tomb next to her, slightly stiff with the realization that he was in a cemetery and this girl was extremely comfortable with it.
"Yeah. I took a major wrong turn back in Utah. I'm supposed to be in New Mexico." He shut his eyes.
"I'd say." She threw her eyes down to her hands.
"Yeah. I'll just leave you to... yourself." He pushed himself away from the tomb with a little relief. If he could find the road, he could find his car.
"You don't have to. It's... kinda nice talking to someone who doesn't know me." She whispered.
"I know what you mean..." He stopped and turned to her. "Have you ever been happier than you ever thought possible... only to have it all torn away from you?"
"Talking to the Queen of having happy places torn away." She gave a wry laugh. "We're quite a pair, then. Two normal looking people in hell meeting in a graveyard. Story of my life. How about you?"
"Can't say that I've ever met anyone in a graveyard but I've... seen too many people come this way."
"Yeah it does." He swallowed thickly. "Ever feel like the fate of the whole world rests on your shoulders?"
"Everyday that I'm alive." She took a deep breath. "I've become like the backbone of my group of friends. I... just wish someone else could wear the leadership crown once in a while."
"I know what you mean." He gave her a small smile. "I can't say that I'm the backbone, though. It's like by being who I am, I create just as many problems as I solve."
"Yeah." She gave him a small smile of her own. "My name is Buffy."
"Nice to meet you, Max. Let me guess... you've got a girlfriend at home wondering where you are?"
"Yeah. She's wondering probably, if her parents have let her on the phone. Then she'll know that my father gave me an ultimatum and I couldn't give in to." He nudged a stray rock from it's bed near the tombstone. "Her parents probably gave her one too. Difference being that I can legally leave home and she's bound until she's 18."
"Romeo and Juliet." Buffy muttered.
"No kidding." He gave a dry laugh and looked up at the sky. "Star-crossed lovers... in the literal sense. Being with her kills her and being without her kills me."
"I had that once. He... he was night and I was day. We had a place in the dusk, in the predawn where we could meet but how many times can you catch that exact moment where it's no longer night and still not day and vice versa." Buffy looked up at him. He shook his head at her. "You're right. Not too many times... until finally you have to give it up."
"I've tried that already. Sometimes you have to try to catch it." Max told her. "I have to think that I can catch twilight every night or else I'll go crazy." He watched her look away. "We all have our dark places, our dark secrets. If I don't hold out hope, I die... and so many other people. I might not have chosen to be the leader but it's what I am. What I was born to be... I am the chosen one."
It was Buffy's turn to give a wry laugh. "How many times have I heard that speech? How many times have I given it? Being the leader isn't so great. There is always someone to step up and fill it... if you know where to look. In my case, it's in the place no one thought to look. The wrong person stepped up..."
"Who replaces you when you're not the leader?" Max asked softly.
"Faith. She's in prison though. She's not that bad a person... this I realize after I tried to kill her. She's wild and unpredictable... and she gets scared but she's the one. She's the chosen that is supposed to fill my shoes when I'm gone." Buffy flicked her gaze over to Max to find he had taken a seat on a grave marker in front of her.
"Michael. He's usually wild and unpredictable. He never admits to being scared and I'm afriad that he's too... human to take the job anymore. It's good and bad but if something happens to me, he'll step up." Max took a deep breath. "I have a son... and if he survives... he'll take my place as leader."
"You don't look old enough to have a son." Buffy commented absently.
"He's only three months old and already he'll be expected to be like me and I can't stand it. No one deserves the pressure I have." The silence of the graveyard allowed him to think freer and more linearly. "My sister wants to live a normal life and I'm trying to make sure that happens for her but when I need her to admit that she isn't, she puts up a fight."
"My sister isn't normal either and she knows it." Buffy nodded. "She's just a teenager with hopes and dreams that she thinks she can't have and I want her to." The chill of the sacred earth reached up and chilled them to the bone. The wind picked up and Buffy grimaced slightly. "It's getting late. Let's find your car."
"Um, thanks." Max helped her off the tomb and couldn't help but notice the scrapes on her hands but decided against saying anything to her about it. They began the walk toward the road. "Let me guess, you got a boyfriend worried sick about you."
"Not anymore." She whispered. Their feet made squishy noises as they walked over the soft earth. She glanced around. "Stay close to me. There are a lot of weirdos in this town at night." She grabbed his arm by the elbow and quickened their pace. "I've had a few somebody's in my life and I couldn't keep any of them."
"it's okay. Really." Buffy shook her head with a sad smile. "There was Angel. He's the love of my life and we couldn't be together because of who I am and what he is. It's all very complicated and you don't have the time for it. Then there was the rebound guy whose name shall never be spoken aloud. Then there was Riley. I needed him so much more than I was capable of showing him and I was too late when I realized that I needed him. There's Spike..."
Max squinted his eyes at her. "Spike?"
"He thinks it sounds better than Billy... and I gotta say that it fits him better. Anywho. I don't like him. I barely tolerate him because he's like... attached to my sister Dawn and I don't even know what that's about. He's just always there and he swears he loves me but I can't... even think about it." Buffy glanced around and slowed her pace somewhat. "So tell me your girl problems."
"Okay. Liz is the love of my life."
"That's it?" She scoffed at him and let go of his elbow. "She bears your child and that's all you have to say."
"She didn't." Max almost faltered in his step thinking about it. "I... We got together and then this girl showed up and then all hell broke loose. Liz left me and when she came back, she tried to get Tess and I together. I have loved her this entire time but we let ourselves drift so far apart that... I don't know.
"She started seeing Sean and I was seeing Tess... well not seeing but friends and not dating and... I got her pregnant." Max winced at the words and wanted to stop. "So I still love Liz. We're trying to patch things up."
"What about Jr?"
"I don't know. Tess took off with him and I... I've never seen him. I can't get to him. It really sucks. Liz wants to help me find him and she wants to be with me again... but I don't want to put her through that."
"Did you love Tess?" She stopped them in their tracks to look up at him.
"Not the way I love Liz."
"But you cared about her?"
"Yeah but that was before.."
Max didn't answer her and started walking again, barely noticing the concrete under his feet. He heart her shoes as she struggled to catch up with him. "She wasn't the person I thought she was... well actually she was the person I first thought she was... but not the person I thought she had become. I lost a fairly good friend because of her. She tore up my group of friends."
"She killed Liz's best friend, Alex." Max answered her before he realized what she was saying.
"Oh. Guess that'll do it." Buffy watched his mouth move up and down. Then she realized that he hadn't meant to share that tidbit. "I won't say anything. I kill things for a living. Like an exterminator... and I know a gal in prison. Killing doesn't surprise me."
"I try not to." Max muttered under his breath. "Buffy, I..."
"It's okay. You won't explain and I won't, Max." She glanced around a bit. "Let's get you back to your car before the big uglies come out. Sunnydale is only pretty in the daytime."
They walked in silence for about 50 yards before Max spoke again. "I've ruined more lives in my short life than I thought possible. Who knew that saving a single life would change so much?"
Buffy bit her lip. "I do."
"I... found out about myself back 6 years ago. This guy showed up one day and said he was supposed to teach me to fulfill my destiny, that he was late showing up but he had to be sure that I was the one." Buffy sighed. "Saving lives is what he taught me to do... until one night, I got myself into a trap and he died.
"I moved here so I could get away from it, my destiny and being chosen but they sent another teacher to me. I just wanted to walk away from it but I saved a few lives, lost a few and ruined two lives, then several more and one night I died. For a moment in time I stopped breathing and my heart stopped beating. The next was called but I didn't meet her for a while.
"She died doing what we do to save lives. The next was called but she had a chip on her shoulder and we started out as friends that soon became enemies. She killed the wrong person one night and was never the same. Faith just couldn't let herself be good. Angel... he got her to do what no one else to do and that was turn herself in." Buffy sighed deeply. "Max, I've died twice more and been brought back twice more. No one else can be called until Faith has left this earth and that's not happening anytime soon. This last time... I'm sure I was in heaven. It was perfect and calm."
"Heaven?" Max asked softly as they approached his car. "It exists."
"I don't know if it was heaven but it makes this earthly life feel like hell." Buffy pointed to his flat tire. "Bummer."
"It's not a problem." Max motioned for her to get in. "I'll give you a ride home. Just let me air this thing up."
Once the door clicked shut, Max knelt and put his hand over the hole he had created. Before getting into the car, he leaned on the door. "If you were in heaven... why did you come back?"
"They called me back... Willow, Xander, Anya and Tara... They called me back and I came." She turned to look at the motel. "I guess this world needs me a little longer."
Max nodded and got into the Chevelle. Starting it up, he drove down the road they had just walked up. "Three years ago I saved Liz's life. I had a crush and I never did anything about it but I couldn't stand by and watch her die."
"How'd you save her life that got you in trouble?" Buffy read his eyes even as they focused on the road. "Are you a healer?"
"Something like that." Max nodded. "Michael almost died because we found something that told us about ourselves. Liz is continually putting her life on the line to help me... all of them... Maria and Kyle still do. Alex... he gave his life..."
"Can you start at the beginning?" Buffy asked softly.
"I'm adopted. I didn't know anything but Isabel, my sister. Then we found Michael and just knew we were the same. Then I saved Liz three years ago. Maria found out... Alex found out... the FBI found out. We were dealing with it until Tess showed up with her father. They knew where we were from and even after they found us, they kept it from us so they could control it.
"Michael had to kill, then Isabel... I was almost killed several times but they always came for me. I can rely of them when I'm in trouble but I shouldn't have to. I don't want to hurt people. There's this group of people that want us dead and they almost got us a few times. Tess saved us, made us trust her... and all she did was drive a wedge into the group.
"I should have seen it but I thought Liz was with Kyle and that she didn't want me and... I was so stupid. I found out that I was not born. I was engineered to be this way." Max stopped, knowing he shouldn't have said that.
"Wow... heavy." Buffy muttered and gestured for him to make a right.
"Alex died. It seemed as though it was an accident and then a suicide. Liz knew it wasn't but I wouldn't listen to her because Tess had just taken over completely... Then, after she intentionally got pregnant we found out that she killed Alex. And then she was gone. Gone with my son... to fulfill our destiny.
"Liz didn't want to trust me again. I had lost her faith in me and I've worked so hard to regain it only to have her ripped from me again. I've lost any chance of getting my son back and seeing Liz again..." Max punched the steering wheel. "But I'm not giving up."
"You shouldn't." Buffy told him and instructed him through a few more turns until they sat in front of her house. "Max... I gave up on Angel and I was too jaded for Riley. They knew what they were getting into... and it sounds like Liz does too... if she's willing to give it all up for you... take it."
"I don't want to hurt her anymore."
"Max... I died. I've been to that happy place and talking to you has made me realize that things happen for a reason. I was in a dark place tonight, Max. I was fully prepared to be sloppy so I could go back. I was brought back because they need me." Buffy opened the door. "Ever think that Liz might need you? That your son needs you to have her? If this Tess chick is for real.. he's gonna need a better mom."
Max blinked and it all became clear. He was on the brink of giving up completely. Leaving Michael in charge and Isabel hanging in the balance. He started laughing. "I had to make a wrong turn to find out it was a right one."
"What?" Buffy blinked at him.
"If everything happens for a reason... maybe we were supposed to talk each other into fulfilling our destinies." Max shook his head and then smiled. "Buffy, listen to me. We make our own destinies. I've said it to Liz and believed it at one point or another."
"I'll do it my way if you do it your way." Buffy countered and swung out of the car. "Max, you seem nice. Hope the people in the calm place realize that."
"Thanks and you're a good friend. Hope your friends realize that." He told her. "If you're ever in Roswell... Look me up."
"You ever take another wrong turn... I'll be here." She stood up. "Go be a good leader."
"You too." Max nodded and pulled away from the curb. He had a lot of things to think about and a few thousand miles to make up his mind about. He actually had a little perspective now. He glanced back at Buffy through the rearview mirror. "Weird Girl."
Buffy watched him turn a corner and disappear into the night. Thanks to a complete stranger, she got a little perspective on her life. "Weird guy." She turned her face to the sky. "I'm supposed to stay here huh. I hope I can live up to what you've got in store for me... and for Max."