FanFic - Other
Part 54
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 Liz’s back disappear through the doorway into the Crashdown, a slight frown on his face.

There was no doubt that she had been behaving strangely ever since she had gone to have her talk with Tess in the library. She had been doing her best to hide it but he knew her. The tension had been coming off of her in waves, and yet, no matter how many times he asked her, she just denied that anything was wrong. She had even kissed him a couple times in hopes of distracting him, but what had been MORE distracting was the fact that she had clearly clamped down on all of her emotions before doing so.

When she shut off the connection Max knew for sure she was hiding something.

Tess was acting just as peculiarly. She had been glassy-eyed and staring when she had come back to the library after talking to Ren. She had looked right at Liz, shaking her head slightly.

"Where’s Kyle?" Max had asked the logical question but had been perplexed when Tess had replied that he had called his dad to pick him up. Something about basketball practice she explained, but Max had not bought it for a minute. Her tone of voice had been choked and it was clear that Tess was holding in her feelings by the barest thread.

Max had raised an eyebrow at this, but hadn’t pushed the point, sure that Liz would tell him what was going on eventually. But even when they had been alone she had chattered on about inane things - about how exciting the library was, about their biology test on Monday. Her hands had been clenched in her lap and she had stared straight out the front wind-shield of the jeep, effectively not allowing him to get a decent glimpse of her face in an attempt to figure out what was going on.

And when he had finally pulled up in front of the her parent’s restaurant she had seemed actually eager to get out of the car. He had never seen her like that before. Usually they dragged out every minute until they had to be separated, even to the point that sometimes he had to pretend to leave and would then come and visit her on her balcony. But this time, she couldn’t get out of the Jeep fast enough. She had kissed him distractedly and told him that she would call him later and then she was gone.

Something had happened. There was now no question. And there was only one person who could fill him in.

Max backed the Jeep out of its parking spot and drove to Kyle’s. *******************************************************

Liz hung up the phone, sighing in frustration. She had just spent twenty minutes talking to Tess. Ren had been unable to really tell her anything about the book. The language had apparently been Illyrian, but a strange dialect of it which had made deciphering the text the work of several days - like Chaucer’s English in comparison to present-day English. Tess had left the book with Ren in hopes that he would be able to make heads or tails of it.

It was then that Tess had told Liz about what Kyle had overheard.

"He totally flipped out Liz!" Tess had exclaimed, how upset she was reflected in her voice on the telephone line. "He wouldn’t even listen to me. I’m not even sure WHAT he heard…but clearly he took it the wrong way! I couldn’t even tell you in front of Max because he doesn’t know about any of this."

"I’ll talk to Kyle. It will be alright Tess." Liz had promised. And she had every intention of doing so, but she had something else to take care of first.

She knew that Max was more than aware that she was hiding something from him. The hurt look on his face when she had kissed him goodbye an hour before had almost made her spill everything, but she had to get more information first. She had to protect him, had to find out what all of this meant, if it would hurt him in any way.

As soon as Ren told her anything, she would tell Max everything.

In the meantime, she had to go have dinner with her parents. Which was perfect, because she had every intention of finding out what they knew about the insanity that had suddenly become her life.

Several minutes later Liz was seated at the dining room table. Her dad was at one end, her mom at the other and they were laughing about some strange customer who had been in the restaurant that day.

"So then he says "Have you ever seen any aliens?" Jeff told them. "I told him only every day and that he was certainly among the strangest I had ever seen…and then he THANKED me."

Liz smiled weakly as her parents broke down into gales of laughter again.

"This crazy town." Nancy Parker wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. "It’s certainly never boring!"

That was the understatement of the year Liz thought.

Jeff was still chuckling when he noticed that Liz wasn’t really paying attention to his story. "Is something wrong honey?" He frowned slightly. "Did you have a fight with Max?"

Liz felt a flash of annoyance. "No! I do think of things BESIDES Max you know Dad!"

Liz mentally kicked herself as Jeff blinked, looked down the table at his wife, who shrugged. "I know that honey. You just seem sort of distant."

"Did you know that Max is adopted?" Liz asked her parents suddenly. Great Liz, she reflected, as Nancy and Jeff exchanged another perplexed look, now they’re really going to think you’re bonkers.

"No I didn’t." Nancy replied finally. "Did you just find this out sweetie…is Max upset about it or something?"

Liz shook her head. "No." She told them. "I just thought that you might not know." Liz examined both of her parents, trying to look casual. She searched for a flash of guilt or surprise or anger on either of their faces but they both looked completely open.

"Sometimes I feel we don’t know much about Max." Jeff told Liz, clearly pleased that she had broached the subject. "Maybe we should have invited him for dinner tonight."

"Maybe." Liz replied non-committaly. She was more confused than ever. She wondered if she should just come out and ask her parents if she was adopted…but then they would want to know why…and what was she supposed to say? Oh, because I found my picture in an alien book and it looks like I am linked to an alien king for some reason that I don’t understand.

That would go over just great.

"He’s been back for quite a while." Nancy interjected. "Is he getting caught up at school? How is he doing?"

"He’s doing great." Liz said hurriedly. "I’m sure he would love to come over for dinner some night."

"I often think about how hard that whole situation must have been for his family." Nancy continued. "What a miracle it was when he came back! But it must have been even more difficult for Max…to not know WHO you are for all that time - where you came from!" Nancy just shook her head in sympathy.

Liz stared at her mother. She seemed to be opening the door for this conversation!

"Do you ever wonder about where YOU came from mom?" Liz asked quickly

Nancy blinked again. "I know where I came from Liz. I came from Florida. I was born there. I met your dad in university and we’ve been happy ever since." She smiled down the table at her husband, who smiled back affectionately.

"What’s this all about Lizzie?" Jeff asked a moment later.

"I just realized earlier that we never talk about what it was like when you and mom were kids." Liz told him. "I want to know more about you. I mean, I need stories to tell MY kids about their grandparents."

"Liz, don’t you think its a bit soon to be thinking about YOUR children?" Nancy inquired. Suddenly she blanched. "Wait a minute! This isn’t about what I think it is?"

Liz frowned. "What?" She asked in confusion.

"Liz." Nancy looked like she was about to be ill. "You and Max…"

Liz glanced at her father, he looked just as confused as she, Liz, did. "What mom?"

"You aren’t pregnant?" Nancy almost choked on the last word. "Is that why you’re always so secretive?’’

"WHAT!!!" Both Liz and Jeff yelled at the same time. Jeff turned to look at his daughter in horror while Liz just brought her hand to her forehead in frustration and then started to laugh, although this situation was certainly the farthest thing from funny there was.

"No Mom!" She managed to say, through giggles. She placed her head down on the table and laughed. "I just wanted to know if I was adopted!" She finally managed to tell her parents.

The room became deadly silent. Liz stopped laughing as abruptly as she had begun.

Nancy and Jeff were staring at each other.

"Mom?" Liz asked, feeling scared suddenly.

"Liz! Whatever gave you that idea?" Nancy finally asked, sounding forcibly cheerful. "Of course you’re not adopted! You look exactly like your father!"

Liz turned to look at her dad. He was avoiding her eyes. "Dad?"

"You’re not adopted Liz." Jeff said firmly, finally looking her right in the eye. "I was in the hospital room with your mother the day you were born."

Liz looked from one to the other suspiciously. She believed them…she knew her parents and she was pretty sure that she would know if they were lying to her…

And yet…

She excused herself several minutes later and went to call Max.

It was time to tell him the truth. She needed him. ******************************************************

Max flopped back on his bed in frustration, glancing at the clock on his bedside table. It was late - almost eleven o’clock.

Where the hell was Kyle?

There had been no one home at the Valenti house when he had gone there from the Crashdown. Max had then driven to the school, remembering what Tess had said about basketball practice - but the school had been locked down tightly. Clearly no practice had taken place there recently.

Max had even gone so far as to call the Sheriff at work. Valenti had told him that he had no idea where Kyle was…as far as he knew he was still working on that school project with Liz.

"What is this about Mr. Evans?" The Sheriff had asked suspiciously when Max had been silent for a moment or two after that announcement.

"Nothing." Max replied quickly. "Can you just ask him to call me when you see him?"

The Sheriff had agreed but Max could tell that he was not satisfied. Max felt bad. They had done their best to keep the Sheriff out of as much of their business as possible since the whole White Room/Destiny fiasco. He had been extremely helpful when Max had disappeared too, but Max still felt wary about getting him too involved. He didn’t want what he was to get the Sheriff into trouble, worried still that the Sheriff might get into trouble for bending the laws he already had on their behalf.

They owed the Sheriff too much already.

Unfortunately Kyle’s connection to Tess was making keeping the Sheriff out of it more difficult with every passing day. The fact that Kyle was changed by what had happened when Max healed him…it meant that nothing would ever be the same for the Valenti family again.

Every single person Max came into contact with suffered in some way.

When Max had finally returned home from his search for Kyle, his parents and Isabel had been standing in the front hall with their coats on.

"You’re just in time Max!" Diane Evans had exclaimed, sounding pleased. "We’re going to Senor Chow’s for dinner. We thought you might be at the Crashdown for dinner, but now you can come with us."

Max had considered begging off but one glance at the dirty look Isabel sent him and he agreed. Max knew that Isabel still thought that he was a little stand-offish with his parent, wanted him to change…

It was just hard for Max. He was grateful that his parents knew the truth, that they loved him anyway, but he was still Max Evans. The only person he ever really opened up to was Liz…that wasn’t ever going to change, no matter how much Izzy wanted them to be one big happy family.

He loved his parents, and trusted them, but he was still always on guard…

The Evans had not returned home until about fifteen minutes before. Max was now exhausted and full of food that wasn't sitting very comfortably in his stomach.

Nothing was right with his world when things were weird with Liz.

He sat up with a jolt when at that exact moment a soft tap came at the window. He knew it was Liz immediately. He could feel her presence and the only other person who ever came to his window was Michael, a ritual that had virtually ended when Michael had gotten his own place.

Besides, Michael rarely had any qualms about barging right in. A polite little tap was NOT Michael.

Max hurried to the window, opened it, smiling with pleasure at Liz, who lit up at the sight of him.

"Finally!" She said as he helped her through the window. She threw her arms around his neck, sending them both careening across the room and tumbling onto the bed. She kissed him until he was dizzy. "Where have you been?" She demanded several minutes later when he finally managed to come up for air. "I came over earlier but when you weren’t here I went to Alex’s to wait. He didn’t know where you guys were either!"

"Out for dinner with my parents!" Max gasped, pushing her long dark hair away from her face. "What the heck is going on Liz?"

Liz’s expression darkened. "I guess I don’t have to tell you that I haven’t been straight with you today." She finally managed to say, sounding guilty.

The feeling of relief that flooded through Max was almost weakening in its intensity. "I suspected as much…" He replied lightly, stroking his hands through her hair. "What’s wrong?"

"I don’t know if ANYTHING is wrong." Liz replied evasively. "I don’t think I know anything anymore."

Max ceased the movement of his hands which seemed to have a mind of their own when it came to Liz. "What do you mean?" He could feel her confusion and fear, and yet there was a mingled sense of complete happiness as well.

Liz touched his face, her expression tentative. "Tess and I found something today…" she began.

It took a good fifteen minutes for Liz to finally manage to tell him everything. He just stared at her in shock when she told him about the book, about their pictures, about the fact that Ren couldn’t decipher it, about questioning her parents about her heritage…

When she had finally finished, he was silent for several moments. An overwhelming sense of peace was settling over him, as though the missing pieces of a long-running puzzle were finally falling into place.

He had know it all along. Liz WAS his destiny. It wasn’t even a matter of choosing it anymore…although it was the thing he wanted above all others. She was HIS. For good. And no one could deny it anymore.

"Max?" Liz’s voice was small as he continued to lie beside her silently, just enjoying the way her hair brushed against his neck when her head was on his shoulder as it currently was.

"I don’t think I’ve ever been so completely happy in my entire life." He finally told her. He felt Liz shudder in relief. He flipped over onto his elbow so that he could look at her face. "But why didn’t you tell me this right away?" He asked, not angry, just curious. He knew that she had to have had a good reason.

Liz was staring up at him, her eyes dark pools of doubt. "Max, we don’t know for sure what it means! This is why I didn’t tell you right away…I knew that you would get all dreamy and we can’t let this cloud our judgment. What if it doesn’t mean what we think it means? What will we do then?"

Max raised an eyebrow. "Do you think I care?" He asked gently. "This only reinforces what we’ve known all along. We belong together."

Liz still looked worried. Max was determined to make her feel better. He lowered his head, kissed her gently on her forehead, her eyelids, her cheeks, her nose. She was sighing when he finally reached her mouth.

He felt the connection open between them immediately, let himself fall into it…the love she felt for him was humbling and yet, it completed him as well.

There were no more words for a very long time.

Part 53 | Index | Part 55
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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