I own neither the story nor the characters of Roswell.

"Well," said Nancy, "I think first of all we need to cool them off... to stop this from going any further in the near future. I mean... the sneaking out... the staying out all night... even the making out... that's got to stop. We need to separate them... at least for awhile."

"And more than that," said Philip, "... we can't let them get away with tonight, especially after what happened at school, and the promises they made after that. They need to understand that there are real consequences for breaking the rules. It can't be just talking to them this time. They need to be grounded... punished. They need to understand that if they can't discipline themselves... well, their parents will do it for them."

"And I don't think either one... especially not Max, really has dated enough to know their own minds well enough to be making any kind of a lifetime decision... certainly not at their age. He may think that Liz is the one and only... simply because she has been the only one he's ever even kissed," said Diane. "It's not fair to him or to her to let them feel that their first real puppy love is forever... that just doesn't happen. I think that they both need to date other people for awhile... once they are no longer grounded. Maybe what they have really is special... maybe when they look around enough that they know their own minds... maybe in a year or so, it'll turn out that they really are right for each other. Liz is a lovely girl, ... it'd be really nice if some day... but they are both way too young... way too inexperienced to have a serious relationship right now. They both need to mature more."

"So I guess what I'm hearing," said Jeff, "Is that initially they are going to be punished for breaking the rules and for lying to us, but then they are still not going to be permitted to date... at least not each other, for some period of time. After that, if they still are interested in each other, ... then we can let them get back together... more closely supervised, with a lot stricter rules. Basically, the two of them will have to start earning back our trust by doing the right thing once we're done with the punishment phase. Does that sound right to everyone?"

"Even before that, Jeff," said Philip. "It makes a big difference how they accept their punishment. I think if they are remorseful, acknowledge that they fouled up, accept our judgment and comply with it, well... they'll be showing enough maturity that maybe we can hurry the process along a little bit... even back off from the punishment, once they've obviously learned their lesson."

"I agree, Phil. I don't want our daughter mad at us forever... or moping around the house all depressed. It might be easier to give them a substantial punishment, then back off some of that once we are sure they understand how badly they have screwed up. It's really not about the punishment. It's about correcting the behavior... correcting the behavior and preventing something tragic from happening... something that will mean they both get hurt. Like I said, Nancy and I like Max. And it's not his fault any more than it's Lizzy's fault. They've both just let this spiral out of control, and so unfortunately the adults are left with the messy job of reining it in, and dealing with all the teenage angst that's going to cause."

All the heads seemed to be nodding slowly in agreement. Diane looked at the other faces at the table. Nobody was looking forward to this, but there seemed to be unanimity that it had to be done. She had to admit to herself that she'd really liked seeing her son come out of his shell... that the young Parker girl had brought a spark of life to Max that he'd never had before. And in a way, Diane would always be grateful to her for doing that... even if Max wound up with someone else. Liz would always have a special place in Diane's heart. But this was much too soon, and much too much, and they needed to put the brakes on now, and put them on hard.

"Well," said Diane, "How long do they get grounded? A couple of months?"

"I think we need at least that to get Liz's attention." said Nancy. "I picked her up at school when the principal called, and she was basically in denial that she'd done anything wrong. I had 'the talk' with her about sex... she told me it embarrassed her and really wouldn't even listen. Now after two warnings... it's almost 6 AM and she isn't home? Her curfew was at 1 AM... and we might have extended that, if she'd given us a call... but she didn't even call. I'm thinking three months, here."

"Well Max is every bit as responsible for this as Liz. If it's three months for her, it needs to be three months for him. Or actually, six months at first... then if they show some remorse... handle it maturely, we can talk about backing that off to three months maybe. What does everyone think about that?" Philip asked.

"That sounds quite reasonable, actually. Maybe if they don't make a fuss, just acknowledge that they've been screwing up right from the start, we wouldn't even have to go quite that far... but what if they don't? What if they don't accept that... try to fight us on it."

"Well, Jeff, then I don't think we have any choice but to go for the whole punishment... and if they cheat on that... they've got to understand... if they cheat on that even once, it'll get worse."

"What would be worse?" asked Nancy.

"Well we certainly can't let them scoff at their punishments... either refuse to accept them or, worse, to lie and go behind our backs about them. If that were to happen, maybe it would be necessary to physically separate them. I mean, we could send Max to a boarding school, it wouldn't have to be Liz."

"No Phil, if that becomes necessary, I already have an application package for a school in Vermont... it really is very good academically, it's for girls with... troubles. Drugs, alcohol, ... inappropriate relationships... it's very strict, but it may be just the thing. Maybe only for a semester or two, just enough to break this up."

"And one other thing," said Nancy. "Everyone has an understandable reluctance to publicly criticize the other couple's kid, but... well, we are all in this together. Liz has heard from her father and me that what she has been doing is unacceptable. We ARE her parents but sometimes... well, it's the old 'familiarity breeds contempt,' sort of thing. I think it's important for the two of you to also let her know that it's not just her parents who consider her actions unacceptable. Maybe it will get through to her better if it's someone more disinterested... not just her parents talking to her."

"That's an excellent idea, Nancy," said Philip. "And that goes the same for Max. If I were the two of you, I'd flat out tell Max that you want your daughter to have nothing to do with Max ever, unless he can show he has appropriate respect for Liz and for the values you have taught her. His mother and I have always taught him to be respectful of young ladies... not that he's ever gone out with one before Liz. But it needs to be brought home to him that truly caring about someone entails a respect for them that does not include even putting their reputation at risk, let alone being... licentious."

"So then everybody agrees about that...?" asked Jeff. "When it comes to laying it on the line... it doesn't matter if it is your kid or the other couple's kid, ... you don't hold back. Nobody will have their feelings hurt because someone is tough on their kid... we're just trying to keep them out of trouble and we need to do whatever it takes to get their attention? Agreed?"