FanFic - Other
"Out of the Woods"
Part 5
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
Mr. Parker and Liz picked up Maria on their way to the high school to meet the bus. Liz laughed when she noticed that her friend was wearing the same big, fuzzy boots she had worn on the trip last year.

"Tradition?" She inquired teasingly. Maria rolled her eyes.

"If you must know, they really annoy Michael...thought I might as well have some fun if I have to be in his presence." Mr. Parker eyed her in the rear-view mirror.

"How is Michael anyway? Haven't seen much of him around the restaurant lately."

"Dad!" Liz exclaimed. It astounded her on occasion how totally clueless their parents were. It was perfectly obvious that Maria and Michael were not exactly on the best of terms - of course, they had not exactly been on the best of terms even when they HAD been dating...

"What?" Mr. Parker asked.

Liz sighed. "Never mind. Just please don't like ask Michael a ton of annoying questions when you see him..."

Mr. Parker looked hurt. "Okay honey." He said quietly.

Liz sighed again. * Oh, great. Now I've hurt his feelings.* The stress of anticipating her first glimpse of Max was beginning to take its toll on her.

They pulled into the school's parking lot. Maria had her face plastered against the window, scanning the crowd. "There's Alex. Looks like he and Mr. Whitman actually brought a tent this year."

Liz followed Maria's gaze. Actually, it looked as though Mr. Whitman had brought the entire stock of Mountain Equipment Co-op. Alex was standing in the middle of a pile of camping articles, looking mildly bemused. His dad was showing him how to light the Coleman camp light in his hand.

The girls and Mr. Parker joined them. Alex addressed them in relief. "Thank God you girls are here. My dad has gone all Mr. Bush-man on me." Mr. Whitman looked up, blinked and said.

"Hey Jeff. Girls."

Alex, Liz and Maria left the two dads talking and went to stand near the bus, conferring quietly. "Any sign of the Czechs yet?" Liz asked nervously.

"Nope." Alex responded. "Isabel called me this afternoon." He looked suddenly happier. Liz and Maria exchanged looks.

"Alex, how many times do I have to tell you..." Maria began. Alex scowled, cutting her off.

"I know, I know. Just drop it okay...she just wanted to let me know that Max and Michael were officially coming. She said that Max actually seemed semi-excited about it..."

Liz felt her mood lighten. Maybe this wouldn't be so hard after all.

"What about Tess?" Maria asked. Alex grimaced slightly, glancing at Liz.

"Unfortunately she's coming too. And there's even worse news. Max invited Pam and her father to come as well." Liz felt momentarily ill, but then shrugged.

"Well, it's to be expected. I knew that this wasn't going to be easy."

The three friends froze when they suddenly recognized the Evans' car pulling into the parking lot. They were all distracted though when Kyle Valenti suddenly appeared from the other side of the bus. He had a fishing rod in his hand.

"Hey Liz!" He came forward, a happy expression on his face. "It's great to see you! My dad told me you were coming." Liz smiled at him, surprised that she was genuinely happy to see him. She hadn't actually laid eyes on Kyle since the day he was shot and Max had healed him.

"Hi Kyle." She walked forward, hugging him. As she tried to pull back, she realized that his fishing rod had become entangled in her hair. Kyle tugged on it, but it only became more caught. She felt herself giggling, realized that she was quickly losing it - she NEVER giggled. Kyle still had his arms around her as he attempted to unhook her hair.

Of course, at that exact moment, Max Evans walked right past them.

Liz felt her heart stop. She was surprised to see that he looked exactly the same. With all the talk about how different he was, she had expected him to somehow LOOK different...

But no, he looked great. His dark hair still curled adorably at the back of his neck, he was still attractively muscular and walked with that shy, don't notice me gait that had always made Liz's breath quicken. He was wearing khakis and a dark sweater, and was swinging a back-pack up over his shoulder as he walked.

Her heart was racing, her skin tingling...Max! Max....oh, my love....

And right beside him was Pam Troy. Liz blanched.

Max didn't notice she and Kyle right away, but she knew it was only a matter of time. She tried desperately to untangle her hair, but every move she made just made it worse. Maria had sized up the situation quickly and was slapping Kyle's hands, trying to get them off Liz.

"Ow!" Kyle exclaimed, staring at Maria, annoyed. "What the hell Deluca?" Liz sighed. So much for escaping Max's notice.

He stopped abruptly and stared at her. His dark eyes were bright for one, heart-pounding moment, and then they narrowed.

It was only then that Liz noticed that Isabel, Michael and Tess were there too. Her entire being had been focused on Max - and Pam.

Isabel was biting her bottom lip, looking upset, but hopeful. She kept glancing between Liz and Max. Tess was watching Liz with interest, not maliciously, but not kindly either. Liz felt briefly like some peculiar lab specimen that Tess was about to do an experiment on.

Michael just looked weird. He stared right through all of them, seemingly oblivious to anything going on around him. Liz glanced briefly at Maria, who had retreated behind Alex and was trying to appear like she was fixing the strap on his backpack.

"Hey guys!" Alex said, much too cheerfully. It was clear that he was trying to break the akward silence. Isabel smiled weakly at him, Kyle stared and Liz felt like she was going to faint.

She grabbed the fish hook in her hair and gave a quick yank. It broke free, taking what felt like half her scalp with it...She looked back at Max. His expression was unreadable, but his eyes...

They were scalding.

Pam Troy looked a little different. She wore her hair a little longer, but her attire, as usual, was entirely inappropriate for her surroundings. She was wearing a very low-cut blouse, tight jeans and so much make-up, Liz briefly wondered if she was auditioning to be Tammy Faye Baker in her next life...

"Well, if it isn't Liz Parker." Pam said, in her false sweet voice. It had nastiness barely veiled under the surface though. It grated on Liz's nerves as much now as it had during her sophomore year. "Back from her little European jaunt. Funny, didn't really notice she wasn't around..." She said this to Max, who was still staring at Liz, unmoving. He glanced briefly at Kyle's hand on her arm, then back at her face

"Liz!" Isabel stepped forward and started chattering in an entirely un-Isabel-like manner, giving Pam a dirty look. Pam wilted a little under Isabel's icy stare. Even Tess was sneering at her. "It's so great to see you! How was England? Did you see any shows, do any shopping?"

Liz couldn't answer. She was still staring at Max, waiting for some sign from him...

There was no sign...he just looked at her like she was a total stranger - no, actually he looked at her like she was the same lab experiment Tess was involved in...

The eyes she had gazed into so many times were cold and hard. He was staring at her with a look of distaste on his face.

And then he did something that was deliberate and so cruel, Liz felt her heart shatter. He picked up Pam's hand and pulled her away. About ten feet away he stopped abruptly, dropped his backpack and started kissing her.

Maria gasped. "Let's get out of here." She put her arm around Liz's shoulders and started to lead Liz away. Isabel stared at her brother and his girlfriend, a disgusted look on her face. Michael was eyeing Liz with interest, not unkindly, just in a way that was totally unlike Michael. She again felt like she was under a microscope in some horrible lab experiment gone awry.

Kyle looked shocked. "Hey Evans, you're a real jerk, you know that!" He called after Max and Pam. Max broke the kiss briefly, grinned at Kyle. Liz could understand how her friends had thought that the new Max was Nasedo at first. His smile was just as heartless as Nasedo Max's had been when he had scraped his gaze up and down Liz during their brief adventure together the previous year. Max gazed coldly, challengingly, at Liz once more, picked up his backpack and led Pam away.

Part 4 | Index | Part 6
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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