FanFic - Other
"Out of the Woods"
Part 20
by Kath7
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. I am just borrowing them. 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
"We still haven't figured out what we're going to do about the dads..." Liz was frustrated. She wanted to get moving. After hearing about Isabel's dream conversation with Maria, her concern for her best friend had increased ten-fold.

"I talked to my dad - tried to calm his suspcions a bit." Kyle put in. "He actually thinks that you should tell your dad the truth Max. He thinks that keeping your secret from him has driven you to behave the way you did."

Max frowned. "There's no time for that right now." He sounded annoyed. Liz knew that telling his parents the truth about he and Isabel was a sore subject with him. She knew that he wanted to tell them, but that he felt totally incapable of doing so. Not only did he not want them endangered by the knowledge, although he would never admit it, Liz knew that he was terrified by what their reaction would be. While Isabel trusted her parents implicitly, Max had always been more naturally cautious. He had once said that he only trusted five people in the world...Liz realized that number had diminished further now that Michael was gone...

"I have an idea." Tess spoke up. Everyone turned to look at her hopefully. They were all huddled around the campfire, desperate to go after Michael and Maria, but also still trying to come up with a plan to keep their dads out of the loop... "I could make them SEE you guys here..." She looked around hopefully.

"But Tess can you hold an illusion of that magnitude from where we're going?" Kyle asked, concerned. "You might hurt yourself."

"It's the only way Kyle." The curly-haired blonde replied. Liz noticed that Max's eyes narrowed in thought.

" could work. But we can't take any chances'll need to stay here and keep a close eye on your illusion." Tess looked like she wanted to argue with him, but Kyle interjected.

"I'll stay with you Tess." She gave in.


"Kyle what did you tell your dad?" Max asked, looking pleased that one dilemma was resolved.

Kyle shrugged, "Just that he and Maria were hanging out and that you had snapped out of your ridiculous behavior because of Liz." He grinned teasingly at Liz, who felt herself blushing.

"Good. He really can't come with us." Max decided. "If we can bring the REAL Michael back, well, I don't want the Sheriff to know how he's been acting. He's already been in enough trouble with the law."

"You can trust my dad." Kyle said, sounding offended. Max looked at him.

"I know we can - but he's a man who has to go with his conscience. I don't blame him, but when he hears that Michael has been holding Maria at gun-point, I mean wouldn't he feel an obligation to bring him in?"

Kyle nodded reluctantly. "I guess you're right."

"Okay, let's get moving before our dads stop playing poker. Tess can you give us about twenty minutes and then make it look like we're all coming back to camp?" Max asked. She nodded.

"But Max we still haven't figured out where they are." Liz said suddenly.

"I think I know." Max replied as he reached out and took Liz's hand. He stared at Alex and Isabel. "Before we leave, one more thing. I'm going to tell you guys what's going on with Michael on the way to find Maria, but you have to promise me that you're going to do everything I tell you to. We're going to try and get Michael back, but if we can't we're going to have to leave him..."

Isabel looked like she wanted to disagree, but Alex reached out and put his arm around her warningly.

"I mean it Iz," Max continued. "I know what's going on with Michael, you don't. If I don't get your word on this, I'm going alone."

Isabel finally nodded. Max looked satisfied. He seemed to already know that Liz and Alex were in agreement.

"So, let's go." Max led the way over to the dads, who were laughing about something. Liz felt his nervousness approaching his father. He still had not talked to him since his decision to stop acting like an idiot.

Liz squeezed his hand, spoke for them all. "Dad, we're just going to do some stargazing okay?" She saw Mr. Evans give Max a questioning look. Max looked away. Mr. Evans' face fell. Liz knew that Max did not know what to say to his dad, but he was not dealing with the situation very well. Liz smiled reassuringly at Max's dad. Mr.Evans brightened a bit.

"Okay Lizzie." Mr. Parker replied, staring at his cards intently. "Don't go too far...we wouldn't want you getting lost in the woods like last time..."he teased. Jeff Parker suddenly looked up. "Where are Michael and Maria anyway?" He asked suddenly. "Amy Deluca will kill me if I lose her daughter again this year."

"Oh, they're still down at the lake," Liz replied nervously. Sheriff Valenti was giving her a penetrating look.

"I think I might join you kids." He said abruptly, getting to his feet. Liz glanced over at Kyle.

He played his part to perfection. "Hey dad! Can you come over here for a minute?" He called from the fire, where he and Tess were sticking marshmallows on the ends of sticks. "Tess doesn't believe that you can put ten marshmallows in your mouth at one time..."

Sheriff Valenti glanced at his son. Just as Kyle had known it would, the Sheriff's dad-guilt kicked in and he went to join the other two, giving Max another assessing look as he walked away. Liz glanced at her boyfriend, tried hard not giggle at how hard he was trying to look innocent.

Alex and Isabel led the way into the woods. They stopped after they had gone far enough that the glow of the fire had disapeared. Their flashlights created dancing shadows on the trees as they turned around to wait for Liz and Max. "Where to?" Alex asked Max.

Max frowned, scanned the area. "That cheese smell Maria told you about you remember the time dad took us to the Santa Anna Hot Springs?" Isabel nodded, looked confused. "We took the old highway - which ends at Fraser Woods. I think the hot springs must be on the far side of the forest..."

Isabel wrinkled her nose. "That's right. I'd forgotten about the stench of that place."

It all suddenly became clear to Liz. "Sulfur springs?" She asked Max.

He nodded. "Yeah. I think if we head straight west, we'll come out on the highway. It's not very far. The springs should just be another two or three miles north of there."

The two couples began to carefully pick their way through the woods. Liz could feel the hair on the back of her neck beginning to stand on end. She was glad that Max had such a tight grip on her hand. If any of them got seperated...they only had two flashlights. They might not find the person again.

"Does anyone else feel like they're suddenly in the Blair Witch Project?" Alex asked suddenly, breaking the tense silence. Liz could feel herself wanting to giggle hysterically.

"It's weird that they're no stars out..."Isabel commented. "Good thing none of our dads decided to look up." She glanced back at her brother, who looked pensive. Liz was worried about Max - THEIR Max was back, but he seemed a little distant sometimes he did not want to get TOO close to them again. "So Max, when do we find out what's going on?" Isabel continued impatiently.

"It's a long story." Max said quietly, for what felt like the two millioneth time to Liz.

"Well, it isn't going to get shorter, the longer you wait...the sooner you start, the sooner you're done." Alex grinned encouragingly.

"Okay, well you know how I've told you guys that it's Michael, but it's not OUR Michael?" They all nodded. "Wait - I think I better start at the beginning..."

Alex, Isabel and Liz all listened closely as Max began to tell his story.

Part 19 | Index | Part 21
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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