FanFic - Other
"Out of the Woods"
Part 3
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
Alex and Maria exchanged glances again. "You do it Maria. I know you'll only interrupt me if I do it, so tell her." Alex decided.

Liz felt her stomach clench. She just knew that this was not going to be good. "What's wrong?" She asked, hardly believing that calm-sounding question had come from her mouth. She was screaming on the inside.

Maria bit her lip. "I almost don't know where to start Lizzie...everything is so different..." Liz just stared at her. Maria continued. "Okay! Just let me get it organized..." She began to mutter to herself.

As Liz waited impatiently, she noticed her dad seated at one of the booths, a cup of coffee clutched in his hands. He was not alone.

She blinked in surprise when she saw Max's dad on the other side of the booth. As she watched, the Crashdown door opened and Sheriff Valenti and Mr. Whitman entered, both making their way to the booth to join the other two men.

"What's going on over there Alex?" She asked. Alex was eyeing Maria incredulously as she continued to talk to herself. He turned to look in the direction Liz was pointing.

"What's my dad doing here?" He wondered aloud. He and Liz exchanged confused looks.

They both snapped their heads back around when Maria suddenly began to talk.

"'kay I'm gonna start with Max," Liz pursed her lips, feeling a sudden urge to grab her best friend by the shoulders and shake it out of her...Maria blanched a little at the look on Liz's face. "Okay! I'm sorry! Maybe you should tell this Alex!" Alex rolled his eyes. "Anyway, after you left.... which by the way I still haven't technically forgiven you for..." She made one of her annoyed Maria gestures. "I mean really Liz! Alex and I come over here and your mom tells us that you've up and gone to one day later...What was up with that? You didn't even say good-bye! You didn't even write...You didn't even come back for school..."

Liz grimaced. "I know....I really am sorry you guys...I promise I'll tell you everything...but, please...."she pleaded. "Tell me!"

"Just let me calm down a bit," Maria took a sniff of cedar oil and plunked herself down on a stool. "Anyway, Alex and I were here when Max came looking for you..." Her blue eyes were distant, as though she was picturing the moment. "He was totally distraught - I mean, I've seen him upset, like when Nasedo kidnapped you, but this was like total craziness..."

"Liz, he wasn't himself...He just kept going on and on about how he hated being who he was - that none of it was worth it if it meant that he couldn't be with you....That he wasn't going to lead anyone if he couldn't be with you..." Alex inserted. Maria glared at him. He put up his hands in surrender. "Sorry! Sorry!" He shut up and sat down.

"Your dad told him that you were gone..." Maria's eyes filled with tears. "His face Liz..."

Liz felt her heart in her throat. She was having trouble controlling her tears as well. "Oh God, Max..." Alex took her hand comfortingly.

"Don't feel guilty Liz..."Maria told her. "He seemed to understand...he wasn't mad at you, or even was more like he just gave up..."

"I talked to Iz the next day," Alex continued. "We didn't break-up right away. She wanted nothing to do with Michael romantically..."he eyed Maria worriedly when she flinched. "She told me that Max was not himself...he was snapping at everyone and refused to come out of his room. When she tried to talk to him, he just stared at her....not blankly, but like he hated her...It was really scary...."

"Anyway, Michael had disappeared at this point. Isabel asked Maria and me to talk to Max to try and get him to see that we needed to find Michael..."

Maria sighed, "Max seemed to snap out of it a bit....we found Michael eventually. He was staying with River Dog on the Reservation, trying to learn how to control his had ended by this time...He told me that he was going to try and figure out if he could control them enough to be with me..." She paused, her voice cracking as she fought the impending tears. "Max decided that he was going to stay too, try and learn more about what he could do...he said that if he couldn't be with you, he would at least try and do what you wanted him to, which was try and be "the leader." Maria spat out the word, as though it was a curse. "Isabel wouldn't stay, she didn't want to leave her mom or Alex, but Tess did...Max let her, but he made it clear that they were not going to be together...he told all of us that he did not need to be "married" to be the leader...Tess stayed anyway..."

"So, the next time we saw the two guys, school had started and they were just...."Alex tried to think of the right word..."I don't know - weird...Isabel said that something happened to them on the Reservation, something that made Max refuse to have anything to do with anyone....except Michael. He seemed particularly pissed off at his parents..." Alex paused, "I mean his HUMAN parents...He like became the classic smart-ass teen-age son....Isabel said it was the weirdest thing she had ever looked like Max, but it wasn't him...she just knew it somehow...We almost thought it was Nasedo again, except Tess managed to get ahold of him at the Special Unit and he was still there...Even Tess is a little scared of Max now...she is still trying to get him to be with her...she can't get off her stupid destiny kick...." Alex snorted, "Anyway, Max doesn't even know she's alive..."

"Michael was just Michael, but like ten times MORE Michael," Maria continued. "He told me that it was no use - his powers were just too much...he loved me but he couldn't be with me...." She flushed guiltily. "So I decided to get back at him...I started dating Neil Freedman...I totally flaunted it in his face...he was still working here then...."

Alex shook his head. "He totally lost it...he quit the Crashdown, stopped going to school...he and Max just holed themselves up in Michael's apartment..."

"Then Max started skipping school..." Liz's mouth fell open.


"Yeah, he's never there anymore...and...Liz, this is the worst part..." Maria stood up and put her arm around Liz's shoulders. "Are you sure you want to hear this?"

Liz nodded mutely, automatically. She felt like ice....she felt so much guilt, it practically strangled her...

"Liz, he's dating Pam Troy..." Liz felt her eyes roll back in her head...Alex grabbed her, forcing her to sit down.

Suddenly Mr. Parker was there, pressing a wet napkin to Liz's forehead. "Honey! Are you okay?"

The Sheriff, Mr. Evans and Mr. Whitman were all standing there too, varying expressions of concern on their faces. Liz pulled away from her father.

"Sorry, yeah, I'm fine dad...." She picked up a glass, asked Maria to fill it with water, and quickly gulped down the contents. "I think it's the climate - I'm not used to it anymore," she improvised quickly.

"Honey, it's January." Mr. Parker replied, confused.

"Yeah, but it's so rainy in London, not dry like here..." Liz pulled herself together.

"What are you doing here dad?" Alex asked suddenly, apparently trying to change the subject so the dad spotlight would leave Liz.

Mr. Whitman blinked behind his thick glasses. "Oh, Jim, Jeff, Phillip and I were planning for the Father's Camp-out in Fraser Woods."

"WHAT???" Alex, Maria and Liz all yelled together, then looked around sheepishly.

Mr. Parker eyed them. "You guys do want to go don't you? We had such a great time last year...Jim suggested that we all go again this year and set up our camps together...We thought you'd want to go, you know be with your friends..." He trailed off uncertainly. The three teens were just staring at him incredulously.

Sheriff Valenti was putting on his hat. He dropped a dollar bill on the counter. "Kyle and I go every year...He's really looking forward to catching up with you Miss Parker." He said to Liz. "Roswell missed you while you were gone." The expression on his face spoke volumes...the Sheriff knew what was going on - he always had.... he grinned sympathetically. "Thanks for the coffee Jeff. I'll see you all at the bus tomorrow evening."

"Mr. Evans, Max is coming?" Maria asked bluntly, then blushed. Mr. Evans sighed.

"Well, he didn't exactly say he would, but I didn't give him much choice." Liz felt sad when she saw the pained expression on Max's dad's face. "He agreed when Michael said he'd come. Izzy is looking forward to it." Alex snickered at that statement. Mr. Evans stared at him momentarily, confused, then continued, "And Tess has agreed to join us too."

"I'm surprised they are allowed to come to a school function, since they're never at school." Alex muttered under his breath, so that only Liz heard him.

"And, of course, Maria you're invited to tent with Lizzie and I." Mr. Parker grinned at her. Maria smiled back weakly, clearly not happy about it, but not wanting to hurt Liz's dad's feelings.

Liz felt weak with frustration. How could their dads all be so oblivious?

The dads left the teens then, as Jeff Parker walked Mr. Evans and Mr. Whitman to the door.

"Oh, this is just great!" Maria fumed. "Forty-eight hours of Michael Guerin in the bloody boonies..." Alex looked hopeful...

"Maybe Izzy and I can do some stargazing again..." Maria elbowed him...

"Climb yourself out of the alien abyss buddy...You know you and Isabel decided that it was just too can't do that to yourself OR was hard enough a couple of months ago..."

Liz just shook her head, still trying to take in all that she had heard in the last half an hour.

"Maria, please tell me you were kidding about Pam Troy..."She said suddenly.

"I wish I was Liz..." Maria wrinkled her nose. "I told you - Max is not YOUR Max anymore. He is totally different..."

While the thought of Max and Pam Troy made Liz physically ill, strangely it also had a galvanizing effect on Liz. It was the one thing that told her that Max could still be reached...

For, suddenly, with utter clarity, Liz knew what was wrong with Max Evans...

He was punishing her...

Dating Pam Troy was the ultimate sign of it...he had deliberately decided to date the one person that he must know would drive Liz literally insane...While Max being with Tess, would have hurt Liz, she would have accepted it, because SHE was the one who had encouraged him to do it, who had told him he had to...

Pam Troy was his way of getting back at her... He could not be more obvious if he tried...

Liz was quickly losing her sadness and guilt...she was beginning to get angry...and determined....

"Mr. Perfect, Mr. Dreamy Max Evans is no more..." Maria was saying sadly, clearly on a roll..."He's been replaced by Mr. Meanie, Mr. I hate the world, particularly anyone who ever loved me Max Evans..."

"We'll see about that," Liz replied.

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