FanFic - Other
Part 30
by Kath7
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the story. The characters and concept belong to Jason Katims and Melinda Metz. Tarsus of Dernia and all Illyrian characters belong to me. Lyrics by Sarah McLachlan, Phil Collins, Amanda Marshall, Garth Brooks.
Summary: Sequel to "Out of the Woods." I highly recommend reading it before trying this one. It is archived at the Crashdown. Basically, Max is gone, and the others have no idea whether they will ever see him again.
Category: Other
Rating: PG-13
Isabel stumbled through the hospital’s automatic doors, trying to control the sobbing that wanted to erupt.

He hated her. Her own brother hated her.

And it was different this time.

The last time he had acted this way towards her it had all been an act. It had hurt but, looking back, she could remember instances where Max had clearly been trying to shield her from the brunt of his anti-Max behaviour. He had stayed away from her for long periods of time, ignoring her the majority of the time. It had hurt, since they had been so close, but it had been better than the cruel way he had treated their parents, their teachers, their friends.

But this time…the contempt in his eyes was real.

He hated her.

And to top it all off, she had been replaced.

He had another sister, one he clearly adored. Max did not need her anymore. She had thought that maybe he was snapping out of it when he had asked her take him to Liz, but the way he had just turned away from her…

Nothing had changed.

Isabel leaned forward against the wall of the hospital corridor, rested her forehead on her arm.

This was worse than losing him had been.

She felt a light touch on her shoulder. "I’m sorry Izzy."

Alex. Thank God for Alex.

Isabel turned, threw her arms around his neck and let the tears come.

Michael crept down the hospital corridor, Jennetta holding his hand tightly as she trailed behind him.

The hospital was quiet, the early morning cleaning staff the only people visible. Michael could hear a doctor talking quietly to a nurse nearby, but basically they were alone.


They reached Maria’s hospital room moments later. Michael stared through the glass at Amy Deluca. She was seated at her daughter’s bedside, stroking her hair gently. She had her head on the bed beside Maria’s and was staring at her quiet daughter in a way that made Michael shudder.

It was like Amy was trying to memorize what she looked like…so she would remember when she was gone.

Sheriff Valenti was asleep on the couch near the wall. Michael was glad that the Sheriff was around. He would help Amy if this didn’t work.

A brief thought tried to penetrate his consciousness… "But who will help me?" Michael suppressed it ruthlessly.

There was still hope.

Michael glanced down at Jennetta, who was standing quietly beside him, watching Maria and Amy through the window.

This little girl was his last chance - Maria’s last chance. Max had told her that she would know what to do….but she was so small, so fragile. How could he deposit all of the pressure onto her skinny shoulders?

Jennetta’s face was serene as she turned to look up at him. "I can do it Michael. I know just what to do."

She closed her eyes.

Michael blinked when a doctor suddenly appeared at his elbow. The doctor pushed open the door to Maria’s room. "Mrs. Deluca?"

Amy sat up with a start. "What? What’s wrong?"

"I need to speak with you right away." The doctor’s voice was sympathetic but with an underlying tone that brooked no refusal. Amy glanced down at Maria a moment longer, smoothed her hands over her hair, but stood up.

"Michael." Amy said as she passed him. "You’re back." She glanced down at Jennetta. "Who’s this?" She asked, perplexed. Jennetta’s eyes were still closed.

"Oh, she’s Isabel’s new sister, Jennetta." Michael told her quickly. "Er - the Evans just adopted her."

Amy stared at him. "Really? That’s weird."

"Mrs. Deluca?" The doctor motioned impatiently for her to follow him. Amy stared at Jennetta strangely for another moment, but followed the doctor.

Jennetta’s eyes popped open. "Well, that was easier than I expected."

"What? You did that?" Michael asked her, amazed.

Jennetta grinned at him. "Yup. He was getting ready to ask the nurse he was talking to on a date when I entered his mind and told him to come and get Maria’s mother."

Michael grinned back despite himself. For the first time, he actually let himself begin to hope…

This kid knew what she was doing.

Jennetta pushed open the door to Maria’s room, looked at the Sheriff. "We can trust him can’t we?"

Michael nodded.

"I think I’ll make him stay asleep anyway." Jennetta told him, waving her small hand in front of the Sheriff’s face. "I can’t be interrupted once I start."

Michael scratched his head in amazement. This kid was powerful…much more powerful than any of the four of them. She was going to be a powerful ally.

Jennetta was now at Maria’s bedside, her gaze locked on Michael’s girlfriend’s peaceful face. "She’s very beautiful." She commented to Michael.

"I know." He replied quietly.

Jennetta tilted her head slightly. "It’s time to wake up Maria." She said confidently.

Michael held his breath as she climbed up beside his girlfriend and placed her small hands on Maria’s temples.

Dreams* Maria

Maria held her baby against her neck, patted her back comfortingly.

Jennetta was wailing, had been for close to twenty minutes.

Maria did not blame her daughter one bit. She was terrified herself.

She was seated on a small bench in a cavernous hallway, her head leaning back against the stone wall. She had been there for so long, her butt was seriously starting to ache.

But Tarsus had told her to stay there, and stay she would. At least until Max or Michael came to get her.

Today was the day that her fate was to be decided once and for all.

They had been recaptured close to a month ago and while they had been much more closely guarded, very little had changed. She and Michael had been thrown back into their tent, the one they had lived in for more than a year now. Tarsus had wanted to take Jennetta to a wet-nurse, but Maria had flat-out refused. She had been amazed by how easily Tarsus had accepted it.

Max had been separated from them. They had not seen him for close to a week, until Maria had caught a glimpse of her friend one day while she had been peeking out of her tent in direct defiance to Tarsus’ orders.

He had been across the camp, talking to Tarsus…well, arguing was probably more accurate a term. Maria had never seen Max so worked up. He had been waving his hands in the air in frustration, clearly yelling.

It had worried her. Whatever had gotten Max so upset could not be good for her - or her baby.

For while Maria had been treated with the utmost courtesy since their return to the camp, there was an underlying menace in the way everyone regarded her that caused her to be fearful. She knew that she was an unwanted outsider. She had been safe since the original judgment, and also while she was pregnant, but she knew it was because she carried Michael’s baby and not because they were suddenly softening towards her.

And finally the day of truth had arrived.

When Max had come to their tent that morning she had still been curled up on their bed, Jennetta having just finished nursing. Michael had been lying beside her, half-asleep, his hand stroking the baby’s back.

Michael had sat up abruptly when his best friend entered. "Maxwell! How did you get in here?"

Max had not replied immediately. He had been staring at Maria and Jennetta, a strange look on his face, like he was coming to some sort of decision. Maria had felt a shiver run down her spine.

"Tarsus let me come." Max finally replied quietly. "You guys need to get dressed. They’ve come to a decision about you."

Michael climbed off the bed, pulling a tunic over his bare chest. "What did they decide?" He asked warily.

"You’re going home." Max replied.

"What!" Maria shrieked, flinching when Jennetta started to cry. She started to rock her daughter comfortingly. "I’m sorry baby." Jennetta settled against her shoulder, making small noises. "What do you mean? Just like that? It’s been over a year and just like that they decide that we’re going home?"

Michael said nothing, just stared at Max, a suspicious look on his face. "I don’t buy it."

Maria saw Max close his eyes briefly in annoyance. "Guys, why would they let me come in here and lie to you? It’s the truth. You’re going home."

Maria glanced at Michael. That didn’t sound right at all. Shouldn’t Max be saying "WE’RE going home?"

"Why?" Michael demanded.

"Because I told them you were." Max replied simply. Michael glanced at Maria. "They’ve accepted me as their leader."

Max had refused to say any more after that. Neither Maria or Michael had been at all pleased by his recalcitrance, but had both shut-up when Max had stared them down with those sometimes disturbingly serious eyes of his.

The fact that they had both quieted so immediately - it made Maria wonder now if he had done something to them with those eyes of his…hypnosis or something.

They had been brought to Tarsus’ headquarters, which was currently a large manor house in a town near the tent-village that made up the Dernians camp. It had made Maria wonder why the Dernians were all living in tents when much more comfortable quarters were nearby.

She had been told by Tarsus to stay out in the hallway. Her guard, Ren, was standing nearby, his face expressionless as usual. Michael had managed to squeeze her hand quickly before being thrown through a nearby doorway into what Maria assumed was some sort of conference room.

Maria could feel Jennetta settling down against her shoulder, clearly on the verge of going to sleep. Her baby was generally an easy one, but she was very in tune with her surroundings. She seemed to know whenever Maria was upset and those were the only times she cried.

"Do you have any idea what’s going on in there?" Maria asked Ren now. He stared at her for a moment, shook his head. "I thought they had already decided that we were going home. What’s left to decide in there?"

Ren just shook his head again. He could be a most frustrating individual. Sometimes he talked like there was a leaky faucet in his brain that needed to drain as much information as possible and other times he was stoic and silent in a way that irritated Maria because he had so recently been the complete opposite.

Maria had begun to amend her original assessment of him as being emotionless. Ren’s eyes sometimes gleamed in such a way that she wondered exactly how much emotion was still roiling around inside of him waiting to erupt without notice.

Her thoughts on Ren were interrupted when the door to the room where Max and Michael had disappeared flew open. It was smoking. "NOOOOOO! I won’t allow! Max! No!" Maria realized that Michael had used his powers on the door.

Maria jumped to her feet. "MICHAEL!" She screamed.

"Secure him." Maria blinked. That was MAX talking. "Get the girl." Maria just turned to stare at Ren in shock when he gently took her arm, trying not to jostle Jennetta, who had begun to wail again.

The events of the next ten minutes were a blur to Maria. Ren shepherded her down the hallway and out into the bright Illyrian sunshine, which was accentuated by the yellow sky. Maria was frantically trying to catch a glimpse of either Michael or Max…neither had emerged from the room although she could still hear Michael yelling, although slightly muffled now.

The next thing she knew she was gently thrust into a transport by her guard and it took off without further ado. She saw Dernian faces staring at her as they passed through the town’s streets but could see no sign of either Michael or Max.

What seemed like moments later, the transport ground to a halt. Ren was seated across from her. He pushed open the door, stepped out, helped her to do the same. Maria had Jennetta clutched tightly against her chest. The baby was still screaming as though she was in some sort of great pain. It was making Maria panic even more than their wild flight through the Dernian countryside.

For Maria had figured out fairly quickly exactly where they were going…

The Ring.

And there it was, standing silently and majestically amid the yellow waving grass. Maria hated it, hated the way it seemed to be watching them. She knew is was ludicrous…it was just a bunch of rock, but she swore that those stones had ears.

"Where are they?" Maria asked Ren in an undertone. There were people everywhere, starting at her in their silent, judgmental way.

"Coming." Ren replied quietly.

He was right. Moments later another transport arrived. Maria watched Max swing down, his expression grim. He stood to the side, turned back to stare at the door.

Maria gasped when Michael was pulled out of the transport by two guards. He was bound hand and foot and gagged as well. Maria gasped, clutched Jennetta tightly, only eased her hold slightly when the baby squawked in protest.

Despite Ren reaching for her, Maria managed to evade his grasp. She was at Max’s side a moment later. "Max! What’s going on?" Max glanced down at her briefly, looked away.

"Michael and I had a little disagreement." He finally told her, his tone sad.

"Well, what else is new? Why is he tied up?" Maria could see Michael’s eyes practically spewing fire above his gag. He was glaring at Max in such a way, it made Maria take a step away from her friend.

Max finally sighed and took her by the hand, leading her slightly apart from the others. "I’ve managed to negotiate your return with Michael and Jennetta to Earth." He told her.

"Ummm…that still doesn’t explain why my child’s father is tied up like a criminal Max!" Maria could hear a slightly hysterical not creeping in to her voice. This was NOT what was supposed to be happening. Max and Michael were supposed to be working together, not against each other.

Max glanced back at Michael, looking sad again. "They won’t let us all go Maria."

"What?" Maria stared at him in horror. "You’re not staying?" This COULD NOT happen. What was she going to tell Liz? This would kill her best friend. "Max, that is unacceptable! We’re not going without you."

Max grabbed her by the shoulders. "Maria! Please. Michael is giving me enough problems. You need to get the baby out of here. I don’t think they know how important she is yet. You need to get her safely out of here. She is the future of my entire people. This is the only way."

Maria could feel her mouth hanging open. Her baby was in danger! "Okay." She finally managed to croak. "I’m guessing Michael was not in agreement with you?" She asked wryly, understanding why Max had had his best friend tied up. There was no way that Michael was going to leave willingly without Max.

Max smiled slightly. "Good guess." He sobered again immediately. "Maria…I need you to tell Liz…that I’ll always be with her." His voice cracked.

Maria closed her eyes briefly. Liz was going to be absolutely devastated…and Isabel too…in fact all of them. How were they going to manage without Max? He was the glue that held them all together. "I know Max." She could see the tears that were beginning to well in his eyes. They matched her own.

But she knew that Max would not cry. He was sacrificing himself for her daughter. She would not LET him cry. "We’ll find a way to get you back." She told him fiercely, hugging him, Jennetta squawking again at being crushed between them. Max stepped back, gently touched the baby’s face.

"Keep her safe. She is the key Maria." Maria nodded.

Tarsus joined them. "It’s time. Our agents tell us that your sister is opening the portal." Maria stared at him.

"How does he know that? And how does Isabel know what to do?" She asked Max. Max shrugged.

"Nothing here makes sense." He replied, just shaking his head.

"They need to be in the Ring. You too my lord." Tarsus inclined his head towards Max. Max swallowed nodded. He lifted a hand, motioned to Michael’s guards.

"Bring him." Maria watched Michael struggling against his captors, his eyes shining with an almost mad light of desperation. Max went over to him, laid his hand on his friend’s shoulder.

"Michael. You need to accept this. You have to protect your child." Max removed the gag from Michael’s mouth as it was clear that he wanted to say something.

"This is insanity Max. I should be with you. I’m your right-hand! Your mother told us so."

Max’s eyes narrowed. "Michael, I don’t want to have to order you to go." Maria flinched, saw Michael’s jaw clench. She buried her head in Jennetta’s clean-smelling neck, tried to control her tears.

It appeared that Michael was going to continue to argue with Max, but was interrupted as the Ring began to come to life. Maria watched in amazement as light seemed to shoot from the stones, binding them all together, to create a central pillar of red light so intense, she shielded Jennetta’s eyes.

"It’s time." Tarsus announced. Max began to push Michael towards the light.

"MAX! No!"

Maria walked quietly behind them. She knew that Michael was going to be furious at her for letting Max do this, but she had to respect his wishes. Besides, no matter how much she cared about Max and how much she was going to miss him…her baby came first.

Jennetta had to be safe.

And she almost was.

Maria was only moments away from stepping into the light, when someone’s hand on her shoulder stopped her. She whirled.

It was Tarsus.

Maria could see Max swiftly untying Michael’s bonds. He didn’t even seem aware of Tarsus’ presence with them in the Ring. Maria stared at the being who had caused them nothing but trouble since the first time they had met him.

His eyes, as usual, were blank.

"Don’t tell me you want to say goodbye?" Maria asked him sarcastically. He didn’t reply, just watched Max for a moment. Max was done with Michael’s bonds. Michael was still struggling but Max had him in a firm enough grip that he couldn’t free himself.

"Tell Isabel that I love her." Maria heard Max say to Michael. He glanced at Maria once, his eyes narrowing slightly at the sight of Tarsus.

Yet he did what had to be done. Maria watched him tuck something into the small bag that hung at Michael’s hip. And then he pushed Michael with all his strength.

His friend stumbled slightly, seemed on the verge of being able to catch himself. But it was too late…he was in the light. He managed to turn around. Maria could see the devastated expression on his face, just heard him yelling, "MAX!"


Michael was gone.

Max turned to Maria. "It’s time." He took a step towards her, clearly wanting to say good-bye.

And then the unspeakable happened.

Tarsus grabbed Jennetta from Maria’s arms, thrust her tiny form behind him. Maria’s arms were still reaching out for her child when the shapeshifter, thrust an orb into her hands, picked her up and threw her bodily into the light. Maria screamed. "JENNETTA! NOOOO!"

The last sight she had of her child was of her guard Ren holding the baby tightly, staring after her.

She couldn’t see Max anywhere.

Then blackness.

Part 29 | Index | Part 31
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
Crashdown is maintained by and . Design by Goldenboy.
Copyright © 1999-2004 Web Media Entertainment.
No infringement intended.