FanFic - Other
Part 51
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, Frozen Ghost.
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
Max watched Isabel’s eyes fly open. She had started screaming right before Alex had finally pulled her out of the trance into which she had gone when she had connected with Jennetta. Her words had been indecipherable but her last scream had gone through him like a knife…


Max hurried forward as Isabel collapsed into Alex’s arms. Her face was white. Max turned her around gently, placed his hands on both sides of his sister’s face. "Izzy? Are you okay?"

"What happened Isabel?" Michael demanded. He was still standing with Liz. Max noted that he seemed to have gotten a handle on himself again. His stone wall was back in place. He seemed to be taking his strength from Liz.

Maria was standing nearby, her hands clenched in front of her, as though that was all that was keeping her on her feet.

"Give her a moment!" Alex snapped. He was stroking Isabel’s hair. She seemed to be in some sort of a daze still. Max stared into her eyes. He wasn’t sure if she was actually back with them yet…

Isabel’s eyes closed briefly and she gasped once for breath but then began to breathe calmly. When her eyes opened they found Michael’s face immediately. "She’s okay!" A smile broke across her face. "She’s fine you guys! I spoke with her!"

Max could see incredulity cross Michael’s face. "You really talked to her?"

Isabel nodded, eased herself away from Max and Alex. "She’s really fine." She brought her hands up to cup Michael’s face, pulled him into a hug. "She told me tell you that she made the choice to be in that pod." Isabel pulled back, looked at Liz and then Max. "She said that neither of you could have stopped her. It was her destiny…"

"But what about the pod?" Maria asked. "It’s falling apart!"

Isabel rolled her eyes. "She’s definitely your daughter." She told Michael, poking him in the chest. "She did that herself. She was trying to get our attention!"

Michael’s face darkened. "I think she gets that from Maria." He muttered.

Max looked at Isabel again. "There’s more Isabel. What else did she tell you?" His sister’s face whitened again.

"She just told me that she was fine, that she would be coming out of the pod soon." Isabel replied evasively. Max frowned. Somehow he knew that his sister was lying to them.

"How soon?" Maria asked.

Isabel shrugged. "She just said soon."

There was a long moment of silence.

"Well, what do we do now?" Tess asked finally.

Isabel looked from face to face, deadly serious. "Jennetta said that we had to let things go back to normal." She told them. "I don’t think she wants us putting our lives on hold any longer…" She paused, looked straight at Michael, then Maria. "She wants us to live our lives to the fullest…which means no more shift work."

"That’s ridiculous!" Michael bit out. "I have no intention of leaving her in this place all by herself!" Maria was nodding, had moved closer to Michael and taken his hand.

"It’s what she wants Michael!" Isabel replied stubbornly. "We have to respect it!"

"No." Michael was shaking his head. "No way!"

"Michael! You don’t understand!" Isabel said, sounding frustrated. "She isn’t a child anymore!" Isabel pointed at the pod. "She looks like a kid, but she’s not! I was talking to an adult in there…a very insistent adult. She is the Chosen One! We have to do what she asks!"

"I will stay with her." Ren spoke up for the first time since Isabel had emerged from her trance. "It is what I am here for."

"But why?" Maria asked, sounding like she wanted to cry. "Why doesn’t she want us with her?"

Isabel’s face softened. "Because she loves you Maria. She knows how hard this has been for you. She wants you to have a life. She’s going to be with you soon enough. You need to live your lives until that time comes."

"I don’t know if I can." Maria said quietly.

"It won’t be a complete break." This came from Kyle who had been listening quietly since he and Liz had come in. "We have other things to do around here."

Max frowned. "What do you mean Kyle?" He saw Kyle’s face harden momentarily.

"I mean that I found something." Kyle replied. "Something that might give you guys all the answers you want." Max saw Tess look at Kyle, one eyebrow raised.

"I don’t know Kyle…"

"I went back." Kyle told her, cutting her off abruptly. "And I got in. I wasn’t imagining things." He looked at Liz. "Show them."

Liz jumped. "Oh. I forgot!" She hurried over to the table where the two purple communicator orbs still sat from where Max and Liz had left them earlier in the evening. She picked up a book sitting beside them. "My journal!" She announced, a smile breaking across her face. Max smiled slightly to himself, momentarily amazed again at how beautiful she was and that she was HIS…

"Where was it?" Isabel asked, sounding relieved.

"There’s like a storage chamber slash library further underground." Kyle explained. "Tess and I found it earlier. Well, I found it…" He amended. "Tess couldn’t see it - she couldn’t open it either."

"But clearly you went back." Tess said. "And YOU could open it…" She looked at Max, her blue eyes perplexed. "What does this mean Max?" Max saw Kyle frown slightly.

"My question is: how did Liz’s journal get in there?" Alex demanded. "I thought Danala had it. And why would it be in an alien library anyway?"

Max scrubbed his hand across his face. He was suddenly exhausted. It seemed like every time they found any sort of answers, a whole new load of questions were dumped into their laps. "Well, I don’t know that we’re going to find out tonight." He finally told the others. As usual, they were all beginning to look at him, waiting for him to make a decision. He looked at Michael. "And I don’t think we should leave Jennetta alone either…we’ll just tone down how often we’re here. We can set up a schedule where a few of us come and relieve Ren for a couple of hours every day, but I don’t think it needs to be around the clock anymore." He frowned again, stared at the leather bound book that rested in Liz’s arms. "We can go check out this library tomorrow. In the meantime, I think we should all go home and get a good night’s sleep for once."

The others seemed to be in agreement, although Michael and Maria decided to stay with Jennetta for at least one more night, just to make sure that the pod was going to stay intact. There had not been another alarm since Isabel had returned from speaking with their sister, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

Alex and Isabel left first, Isabel almost asleep on her feet. The connection with Jennetta had taken a lot of energy. Max knew that she was still hiding something - he could see it in her eyes as she turned for one last look at Jennetta, who was still floating peacefully in her pod. Max sighed, decided that he would try talking to her in the morning. He did not miss that she paused to stare down at the purple communicator orbs sitting on the table though, nor that she carefully picked one up and put it in her purse.

Kyle left next. Max thought for a moment that he was going to offer Tess a ride home, but in the end he didn’t. Things seemed to be a little less tense between the two of them, but it was clear that they had not managed to really talk about what was going on with them.

And so when Max and Liz left, they took Tess with them in the Jeep. The conversation on the way back to town was casual and relaxed, clearly they were all relieved that Jennetta was going to be all right. Somehow now it didn’t seem quite as tragic that Michael and Maria were not going to get the chance to be real parents to her…at least they knew that she was going to live.

The minute Tess exited the Jeep though, Liz turned to look at him seriously. "Okay, what’s going on."

Max blinked at her. "Huh?" Liz just eyed him for a moment, raised an eyebrow.

"Why did you let Ren make the decision about Isabel going in to talk to Jennetta? You know that he would have done whatever you asked him to do…"

Max put the Jeep into gear before he tried to answer. "I’m not sure why I did it." He finally told her honestly. "It just seemed that he needed to decide…I sometimes wonder…"

"What?" Liz asked quietly. "Whether you can trust him?"

As usual she had hit the nail right on the head. "He’s like Tarsus Liz…or at least he was. I know Maria told us that he saved Jennetta’s life when she was a baby, I know that he technically had his emotions returned when he came through the portal…but I needed to know if he was able to make a decision that INVOLVED emotions. I needed to know if he would take a chance on something important. I remember how cold he was when she first went into that pod. He seemed incapable of understanding why we were upset…"

"So you were testing him." Liz finished.

"I guess I was." Max agreed. "To see if he could make a decision, take a chance…she obviously needed to talk to someone. I think she might have been lonely…I needed to know if he is capable of breaking the rules, to let emotion rule him on something that isn’t really going to make a difference in the long run. If Jennetta was going to die in that pod anyway - didn’t it make more sense for her to not be alone? If he couldn’t see that…than I didn’t want him around."

Max realized that he hadn’t even really been aware of what he was looking for from Ren when he had let him make the decision. Now that he knew, he was pleased that Ren had passed the test Max had not even known he had been giving him. Max knew that if Ren had refused in the end, Max would have ordered him to let Isabel be with Jennetta. He was glad that it had not come to that.

If Max had learned one thing on Illyria, it was that losing your ability to feel compassion was the one thing a leader should never allow to happen. If he was going to be any sort of leader, in whatever capacity, it was the one thing he would never allow to happen again. Max knew that the love he felt for his friends, for his family, for Liz above all was what made him strong.

"Why now though?" Liz asked. "It’s been months Max. Why were you testing him now?"

Max just shook his head. "I just have a feeling Liz…something’s coming…and I think that we need to know exactly WHO we can trust. Jennetta coming out of that pod, it’s going to be a new beginning. I have no idea where any of us fit into it…if she’s the Chosen One, where does that leave me, Isabel, Michael and Tess? I can’t believe that our role on that planet is just going to disappear completely."

Max felt the flash of fear that ran through Liz as though it was his own. He turned his eyes from the road, looked at her. Her face had gone white. "Liz?" He asked worriedly. "What’s wrong?"

"Pull over." Liz told him abruptly. They were on the main street of Roswell, close to the Crashdown. Max felt a genuine flash of fear of his own. He quickly pulled the Jeep over, turned it off.

"What’s wrong?" Before he even had the words out again, Liz had her seat-belt off and had turned to face him. She had her hands on both sides of his face, forcing him to look at her. "Liz?" He was truly scared now. He had never seen her act so strangely.

"You remember what you promised me…" She said seriously, staring him straight into his eyes.

"What?" Max touched her face, felt his heart contract when tears began to fill her eyes. "Liz…"

"You promised me that you wouldn’t leave me behind again. I can’t do it again Max…I mean it." She swallowed. "I need to be with you. I have to know that you’re safe. I cannot do it again Max."

Max frowned slightly. For the first time, she was letting him see how hard it had been for her when he had been gone. She had been so preoccupied with helping him to regain his memory when he returned, it had never even occurred to him that she needed to be "healed" in a sense. He was very good at healing physical complaints, but he couldn’t believe that he had not realized how much she had suffered emotionally while he was gone. "Liz…"

She wiped at her eyes angrily. "Max…" She retorted. "If you leave me behind, I swear I will follow you and you are not going to like what happens to you when I do find you!" Max stared at her, felt his mouth fall open.

"Liz, listen to me." He finally managed to say. "I know what I promised you…and I meant it. We are never going to be separated again. At least not because I leave you behind." He reached out, tucked a stray lock of her silky hair behind her ear. He pulled her into his arms. "Because I cannot let you go. Ever. You are my strength. I wouldn’t be me without you."

He felt Liz running her fingers through his hair. "I just know that something awful if going to happen if we let them separate us again Max." She whispered. It didn’t sound like he had reassured her at all - or that it had anything to do with her not trusting HIM.

Max felt a shiver of dread run down his spine as he stroked Liz’s hair comfortingly.

Somehow he knew that he had been right.

Trouble was ahead.

Part 50 | Index | Part 52
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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