FanFic - Other
"Out of the Woods"
Part 13
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
Isabel tried to keep her mind on the task at hand. Just collect the wood and go back to the fire Izzy, she kept telling herself. Just because you're alone with him doesn't mean're friends. You can do this.

Alex was about ten feet away from her, kicking at a log, trying to break it into smaller pieces. Isabel could feel a smile beginning to break across her face. He was so adorable!

It amused her how incompetant Alex was when it came to outdoorsy matters...he was so capable when it came to anything technological, but throw him into the Great Outdoors and it was like he had never even learned to walk. He was glaring at the log now, clearly perplexed.

"Ummm...This might help." Isabel went to join him, handing him the small hatchet Mr. Whitman had given her when she and Alex had left. Alex turned and stared at the tool, his eyes brightening.

"This is why my dad bought that..." he muttered, as though he had just solved the riddle of the Sphynx. Isabel laughed despite herself. Alex raised his eyes to her face. "What's so funny?" He demanded, clearly offended. Isabel continued to giggle.

"You are Alex." She replied teasingly. "How is it that you can break into any computer system in the country but you can't even figure out how to collect firewood?" She asked.

Alex grinned. "Firewood is boring." He shrugged. "And you're one to talk...didn't you tell me that your dad was so surprised when you and Max asked to come on this trip last year, he spat his coffee into his cornflakes?" He raised an eyebrow at her.

Isabel's good mood disappeared at the mention of her brother. She flashed back to that morning, when she and Max had ambushed their father, working as a team to get him to agree to take them on the trip...they had had ulterior motives of course, to investigate the sighting, but it pained her to remember how close she and Max used to be. She missed her brother so much...

Isabel dropped her eyes. "Good job Whitman." She heard Alex berate himself. "I'm sorry Iz...I I could have forgotten for one minute..." Isabel placed her mittened hand on his arm.

"It's okay Alex, really." She forced herself to smile. "I think Liz is going to break through to him...I mean, I KNOW she is..." Alex smiled back weakly, clearly unconvinced.

"I hope so Iz..." He looked down at her hand, which was clutching his sleeve. Isabel watched him lick his lips, clearly wanting to say something more.

"What is it Alex?" She asked softly. Alex blinked, looked up at her face. Isabel had always liked how they had always been able to look directly into each other's eyes. They were almost exactly the same height...she suddenly became acutely aware of how close she was to him. Her heart sped up.

"Izzy..." Alex raised his hand, stroked her cheek. "Do you think....I mean...can we try this again?" Isabel did not reply immediately. She just gazed at him, not wanting the moment to end. Alex continued, "I know why we broke up before...because Max and Michael were so upset about Liz and Maria...but, even though I want if for them more than anything, they may never find their way back to each other." Alex looked sad for a moment. "I don't like to be selfish, but is it really fair for us to be miserable just because they are?" He moved closer to her, until only a breath separated them. "I need you Izzy and I think you need me...I know that I can never replace Max and Michael, but I love you. If I can't replace them, at least let me try and make you smile again."

Isabel stared at him, her love for him almost painful. Being away from him these last months had been like torture - no one had ever understood her like Alex, had made her feel so special. She ached for him that he thought that he wasn't enough for her. "Alex, you don't need to feel like you need to replace Max or Michael...the way I felt...I mean, the way I FEEL about you has nothing to do with them....I love them and I miss them, but I miss you too..." Alex's expression brightened.

Isabel reached out and hugged him tightly. "I think we made a mistake." She continued. "I don't know why I thought not seeing you would help Max...I think it sort of made things worse actually...he seems to have forgotten how lucky we are to have you guys...all of you." Isabel pulled back. "I want to be with you to Alex. I think we both need to be a little selfish...both Max and Michael need to realize that the world doesn't revolve around them. I have a right to be happy..." She could feel tears welling up. "And I can't be happy if I'm not with you." Alex grinned at her, brushed a tear off of her cheek.

"Screw destiny!" He exclaimed, kissing her fiercely. He pulled back, kept his arms around her waist. "Maria's going to be really pissed off." He said jokingly. "She's going to tell me that I've let myself be pulled back into the alien abyss..." Isabel felt a momentary pang.

"Do you feel that way Alex?" She asked worriedly. Alex continued to grin at her.

"Nah...I never managed to climb out in the first place." He replied softly. Isabel grinned back and sighed with happiness as he leaned in to kiss her again.

Alex and Isabel were lost in each other for a long time, trying to make up for the months they had wasted. Isabel finally became reaware of her surroundings when she heard someone clear their throat.

She looked up to the sight of Liz, Maria, Kyle and Tess staring at them. "Are we interrupting something?" Kyle asked, his tone sarcastic. Liz was smiling, Tess' expression was unreadable, but Maria looked furious.

"Alex!" She exclaimed, clearly perturbed. Alex moved away from Isabel but kept a firm grip on her hand.

"Maria!" He replied, his tone just as annoyed. Maria scowled at him.

"Bah! Well, don't say I didn't warn you." Alex shrugged, squeezed Isabel's hand.

"No, I certainly won't say that." He grinned again.

Isabel turned to Liz. "Did you talk to Max again?" She asked hopefully. Liz's mood was clearly better this morning, although she did look really tired.

"Yup," Liz replied. "I don't want to go into too many details until I talk to Max again..." She paused when she saw Isabel practically jumping up and down in excitement. "Don't get your hopes up too high Iz..." She cautioned. "I found out that Max is faking it...I think he's going to keep faking it too...but, basically, ignore anything he says to you...he doesn't mean any of it."

"Did he tell you that Liz?" Alex asked. Liz shook her head.

"No, but I overheard him and Michael." She looked sad. "I think you were right about something happening either to them or between them at the Reservation Isabel. It was more than clear from what I overheard that they are not friends anymore, no matter how much time they spend together."

"I don't get it." Kyle said, voicing what Isabel was thinking. She didn't understand why Liz was being so evasive.

Liz grimaced. "I really want to tell you guys, but I think its better that I keep the details of their conversation to myself." She glanced at Maria warningly. "I don't know if they're going to want us interfering with what happened between them when they're back to normal." Isabel felt her confusion mounting.

"Are you telling me that you can snap them out of it Liz?" She asked, barely daring to breathe, her hope was becoming so strong.

"I think so." Liz sounded confident, but her eyes reflected her uncertainty. "But I need your help guys. I need to get Max alone somewhere private...and it needs to be somewhere he can't escape from." She smiled and Isabel started at the determined gleam that appeared in the other girl's eyes. It was clear that Liz was ready to do ANYTHING to get the real Max back. "You guys also need to keep Pam occupied."

Isabel nodded. "Anything you want Liz." She could see that Tess was unconvinced however. While Tess had warmed up to Liz, there was no question she was still jealous of the bond between Liz and Max that Liz took no pains to hide.

"Okay then..." Liz stared at them all with determination. "Here's the plan..."

Part 12 | Index | Part 14
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