FanFic - Other
"Out of the Woods"
Part 12
by Kath7
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. I am just borrowing them with thanks to Melinda Metz and Jason Katims and the WB. Lyrics to songs by Joe Cocker and Amanda Marshall.
Summary: This story is derived from a challenge from Actrez. The gang heads back to Fraser Woods (from Into the Woods) during their junior year. Tess and Michael join the Evans, while Maria goes with the Parkers. This story is post-Destiny. Liz had just returned from a lengthy stay in England. She returns to find a completely different Max and Michael.
Category: Other
Rating: PG-13
Max stumbled through the bush, trying to put as much distance between he and Liz as he could. It had taken all his self-control to push her away when she had kissed him...

Feeling her lips against his had been his dream for the seven months since she had walked away from him at the pod chamber...and to have to push her away - it was like torture...he almost couldn't understand how he had been capable of it.

He could hear Liz following him back to the camp. He knew that he couldn't face her again so soon - he had to keep his distance, had to build up his strength to reject them all again.

Max abruptly turned to the right, headed in the direction of the lake. He paused briefly at a tree, leaned against it trying to catch his breath. Max closed his eyes, tried to erase Liz's face from his mind...but she was still there...she was always there....her beauty, her goodness, her love for him taunting, torturing him...

He pulled himself together with effort. Okay Max, just breathe...remember why you're doing're doing if FOR Liz - for all of keep them safe.

It was never going to work if Liz kept confronting him though - he could feel his resistance to her wearing down everytime. When Michael had threatened her a few minutes ago - it had made his heart stop, because the minute he had known that she was not in the camp, he had known exactly where she was...her presence had called to him, even though he had been unable to see her.

It's your own fault though, he reflected. Why on earth did you go near her at the campfire?

It had been easy to stay away from the others - he was used to it and basically hid from them when they were at home...but Liz...she was a different story...

He had been sure that she had been asleep. When Max had become aware of her so near, her cheek cradled on her small hand, her dark hair tucked up under a woolen hat accentuating every delicate feature on her beautiful face, her breathing deep and even, it had been impossible for him NOT to go to her...When she had shivered in her sleep, he had had no control - of it's own volition his hand had reached out, had stirred up the air molecules surrounding her, had tried to make her more comfortable.

And he had revealed himself to her. He had put her in acute danger.

Max remembered the look of shock and hurt that had crossed her face when he had blown her off while they were doing the dishes the previous night...he had felt his own heart breaking with hers - completely in sync with her emotions, just like always. It had been like the seven months they had been apart had disapeared...his heart - which had been frozen since she left him - had cracked and had started beating again.

I don't know how much longer I can keep this up, Max thought now. I need to figure out a way to end this one way or another...even if it kills me. His expression became grim, shuttered, a mask hiding his true feelings.

I will not let anything happen to them - any of them, but especially Liz.

He went off in search of Pam - ready to continue the farce that had become his life.

Liz was pleased to see that almost everyone was up when she returned to the campsite. She couldn't see Max anywhere, assumed that he hadn't yet returned.

Kyle was frying eggs over the fire. She went to join him. "Hey."

He looked up at her worriedly. "Hey Liz. Are you okay?" Kyle asked quietly. "Maria said that you were gone when she woke up - when Isabel came looking for Max, we got worried." He eyed her, his concern evident. "Any luck?"

Liz just shook her head. "I can't really go into it Kyle....I'm still not exactly sure what' s going on...but I will tell you this - Max is in there and he's hiding something..." Kyle looked at her, his expression doubtful.

"I don't know Liz...don't you think you're just setting yourself up for disapointment?" He shrugged. "I mean, I didn't think Max Evans was capable of some of the stuff I've seen him do over the last few months..." Liz just smiled weakly.

"No one knows Max like I do Kyle." Kyle nodded.

"Yeah, Max told me once that you saw into each others souls...I mean he was drunk at the time...but who knows with these Czechs?" Kyle looked sad for a minute. Liz saw him glance across the campsite at Tess, who was trying to tame her curly blonde hair into some semblance of order.

"Kyle, is there something you want to talk about?" She asked him sympathetically. "I mean, I know you really liked Tess, before all the stuff that happened last year..." Kyle shrugged again.

"Just a case of wanting something that belongs to Max Evans again." He muttered, turning away. Liz let the matter drop, decided that she would ask Isabel about it later. It was clear that something was going on with Kyle and Tess, whether either of them wanted to admit or not...

Liz filled the coffee pot with water, set it on the fire and plunked down on a nearby log to wait for it to perk. She had barely slept the past two nights - well really since she had returned to Roswell, she amended. Her fatigue was beginning to take a toll on her ability to think straight.

"Hey Lizzie!" Maria emerged from their tent, pulling on a sweater as she approached the fire. She eyed her friend, concern on her face. "You don't look like you slept at all's still early...don't you think you should go back to bed for a while?"

Liz just shook her head. "No, I'm all right. Where's Izzy?" Maria sighed.

"So much for protecting them from themselves," she replied, her tone resigned. "She and Alex went to collect fire wood..." Maria's voice revealed that it was very unlikely that their friends would return with anything to keep the fire going.

Liz smiled. "Oh well, they need each other." She replied. "But I do need to talk to Izzy..." She lowered her voice, glanced around. She could her Pam bickering with Tess near the Evans' tent. Mr. Evans was staring at them both, clearly unsure what to say to either of them. Liz looked back at Maria. "I spoke to Max again this morning Maria..."

Maria raised her eyebrows. "Oh?"

"I know for sure he's faking Maria...I heard him talking to Michael..." Liz eyed Maria, wondering how she was going to handle what she had to tell her. "Maria, Michael is holding something over Max..." Maria's eyes widened. "I heard him threaten Max - telling him he had to stay away from us...from me." Maria was shaking her head.

"Are you saying that Michael actually spoke?" She demanded, hope beginning to appear on her face. Liz grimaced.

"He spoke alright...but I don't even know if it was Michael." Maria looked perplexed. "I mean, Michael could be difficult know that better than anyone...But he wasn't was always clear that a lot of that tough stuff was a way to try and protect himself..."

"His stonewall..."Maria inserted, a sad half-smile on her face.

Liz nodded, "Yeah, anyway....this was more than that...he threatened Max with actual physical harm...and it wasn't in the heat of the moment either...not like when they used to fight..." Liz shivered involuntarily. "It was cold and deliberate...and real..."

Maria gulped. "So what are you planning to do Liz?" She asked, her tone frightened.

Liz didn't reply right away. Max had suddenly appeared from the woods, his face shuttered and cold...He didn't even look in Liz's direction, just headed straight for Pam. She threw her arms around him and pulled him off into the bush again. When Liz turned back to Maria, she could see that her best friend was watching her, concern on her face.

Liz gave her a determined look. "Michael is the key here...It's clear that Max is trying to alienate everyone because he thinks he is keeping us safe. I have to get Max to open up to tell me what's going on. And I know just how to do it."

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