FanFic - Other
"Out of the Woods"
Part 6
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
"What the hell is up with that guy?" Kyle asked, obviously perplexed. "I mean when I heard he was going out with Pam, I was floored," he shot Liz a sympathetic look, "But that - man - that was just cold." He looked at Michael, thinking he would be the one most likely to answer him, even if he was snotty about it. Michael just stared at him without interest and walked away after Max and Pam.

"God, Liz, I'm so sorry." Isabel said. Liz smiled weakly at Max's sister. It was becoming more obvious by the second that Isabel was not the same person she had been the last time Liz had seen her. She was quieter and sadder, but somehow kinder too. "It's not just you." Izzy continued, obviously trying to make her feel better. "Everything he does is like that - totally calculated to make whoever it's directed at feel like the lowest being on earth."

Liz straightened her back. "Well, if that's the worst Max Evans can dish out, this is going to be a piece of cake," she replied, trying to use a cheerful tone. The others all stared at her.

"What the hell are you talking about Liz?" Kyle asked. "That was the most brutal thing I have ever seen."

"Thank you Kyle," Alex inserted, "I think we are all aware of how brutal it was..."

Isabel was gazing at Liz, her eyes questioning. Liz addressed her. "Iz, can we sit together on the bus?" She saw Maria scowl out of the corner of her eye. "Please Maria - Alex needs a seat-mate too. I need to talk to Isabel about Max." She turned to include the whole group, even Tess, who had yet to speak. "That was NOT Max guys. I don't know what's wrong with him, but we are going to snap him out of it. I refuse to just ignore it," she held up her hands, when Tess seemed about to protest. "I know you guys have tried, but I'm the one who caused this...I'm going to need your help to fix it, but in the end, it has to be me." She glanced around the group quickly. "We have no secrets anymore you guys. Max is keeping something from us, I don't know how I know...but I just feel it."

Isabel had brightened considerably. "God, Liz, I know I've been a jerk you in the past, but this has been so hard...I'm so glad you're back. The way Max felt about you... I mean, I think maybe you can reach him..." Tears welled up in her eyes. Maria frowned at Alex when he looked like he wanted to go put his arm around her. Alex scowled and looked away.

Tess snorted. "I don't know if anyone can reach him anymore." She inserted. "As Michael would say, all he seems to do is think with his energy source, Pam Troy being People's Exhibit A." Kyle snickered at that. Tess looked at him, smirked as well.

Isabel blinked. "That is definitely the first thing we need to take care of. It is like the most repulsive thing I have ever seen." She looked at Liz. "I mean you guys used to gross me out, but at least I knew you loved each other. I KNOW Pam is only going out with Max to piss me off - not to mention you."

"She's like the black widow spider." Alex supplied. "She mates and kills." They all laughed despite themselves.

Liz could hear Coach Clay calling out their last names, trying to get everyone loaded on the bus. She saw her dad chatting with Sheriff Valenti. The Sheriff wasn't really paying attention though. He was watching Max make-out with Pam right under Mr. Evans' eyes, his eyes narrowed, a thoughtful expression on his face.

Liz felt momentarily ill again. Just don't think about it, she ordered herself. You know that is not YOUR Max...the real Max is still in there somewhere and you're going to find him...

"Evans!" Coach Clay yelled. Isabel jumped, saw her dad looking around for her.

"That's me. I'll save you a seat Liz. C'mon Tess." With that, Izzy hurried away, taking a wide circle around Max, who was looking back in their direction, his expression unreadable. Pam was nibbling on his ear, but he was currently ignoring her - Liz felt his gaze come to rest on her, then quickly move away.

Liz's gaze rested momentarily on Michael, who was standing just to the left of Max and Pam. He was staring off into space, no expression on his face. Liz shivered. It was freaky... and very unlike Michael. The old Michael would have been scowling at everyone, trying to piss someone off - likely either Max or Maria. But no, he just stood there, occasionally tilting his head and examining Max with interest, but usually just looking like the stereotypical pod person.

Liz giggled to herself, feeling a little hysterical. Of course, technically, he IS a pod person... She saw Kyle and Alex give her weird looks, clamped her lips shut.


"C'mon girls!" Mr. Parker called. Liz turned back to Alex and Kyle.

"See you guys on the bus." She grabbed Maria' s hand, pulled her towards the bus.

As they climbed aboard, she saw Max sitting by himself near the back of the bus. He was staring out the window and for a moment, Liz saw HER Max.

He looked sad - and lonely. Liz's heart sped up. * Max...*

"Hey Liz! Back here!" Isabel was standing in her seat, a few in front of Max. Tess and Michael were sitting together directly in front of Max. Michael was staring straight ahead, he expression blank. Tess was turned around in her seat, lecturing Max, who was ignoring her completely.

"If you make out with that trollop the entire way to the campsite, I will personally murder you hear me Max? I mean, you're like making everyone ill. Everyone knows you're supposed to be with me... even Liz. I don't know why you're fighting's been six months for Pete's sake." Max turned to stare at her briefly. He glanced past her, directly at Liz. She shuddered when she saw his eyes darken, freeze over.

"Shut up Tess." He said clearly.

"I'm coming Max!" This came from Pam, who was behind Liz in the aisle. Maria, in front of Liz, moaned.

"Oh great...I can tell already this is going to be a really long bus-ride. Alex is going to moan about Queen Amidala the whole way, I just know it, and just my luck, the only seat left is right behind where the Widow is going to be with Mr. Meanie. Could my life get any worse?"

Liz patted her friend's back reassuringly. "It'll be okay Maria. Just sniff your cedar oil. At least Michael seems to be behaving himself." She continued quietly.

Maria sighed. "Yeah...he didn't even comment on my boots..." she said sadly. Liz's heart went out to her best friend. While she had never understood why Michael and Maria had liked to bicker so much, it had been an integral part of their relationship.

Sort of like me and Max with those staring contests....

Liz felt tears welling up in her eyes as she joined Isabel. Be strong Liz, she ordered herself.

"Are you okay Liz?" Isabel asked, concerned.

"Yeah, thanks. It's just hard to see him like this... I knew he'd be upset, but I never imagined he would go crazy." Liz replied. "I can't even imagine what you've been going through these past months Izzy."

"It hasn't been that bad for me really. He mainly just ignores me." Isabel said. "It's the way he treats my mom and dad that's the worst... It's like he hates them or something. And they're just so hurt - they go from having the perfect son... to like Genghis Khan...Liz, he plays Metallica for God's sake."

Liz patted Isabel's shoulder. "I really am sorry Isabel." Isabel just sighed. Liz decided to change the subject for the moment.

"What happened with you and Alex? It is so obvious you guys are still crazy about each other." Isabel sighed again.

"It was just too much... I was so happy when I was with Alex, but I just couldn't do it to Max, you know? He was so miserable after you left Liz...more like you would have expected him to be...Not this..." She gestured to Max behind them, who had gone back to kissing Pam. "Seeing me with Alex, it just seemed to make him wilt. So we decided to cool things for a while." Isabel turned in her seat and smiled briefly in Alex's direction. He didn't notice as he and Maria were laughing as he made evil facial expressions in Max and Pam's direction. Kyle was across the aisle from them, sitting with his friend Paulie. He was grinning as well, but Liz noticed that he was watching Tess out of the corner of his eye. Interesting, thought Liz.

Tess was currently snapping her fingers in front of Michael's face, saying "Will you snap out of it Michael? Tell Max to stop're the only one he listens to these days." Liz watched Max briefly. She shivered when she realized that his eyes were open and that he was staring at her, even though he was kissing Pam. Blech! Thought Liz. She looked away quickly.

"What is up with Michael?" Liz asked Isabel. "He is totally zoned out." Isabel eyed him momentarily.

"I'm not really sure. He came back from the reservation and he was just like that. It's actually kind of creepy. He watches all of us, all the time, like he's waiting for something. He and Max hole up in his apartment all the time... I have no idea what they talk about, but he's the only one Max will be even remotely civil to..."

"Well, what are we going to do about this?" Liz asked, feeling suddenly very close to Isabel. She had always wanted to bond with Max's sister, not just because she was his sister, but because she admired and liked her. Isabel had always been distant and disapproving in the past, making it virtually impossible. The only person she had ever opened up to, besides her brothers, had been Alex. It seemed that if one good thing was to come out of Max's crazy behavior, it would be that she and Isabel could finally, truly become friends.

"I think that we should arrange for you to be able to be alone with Max - you know, try and talk to him..." Isabel replied. "Are you okay with that?" She asked worriedly. "I know it will be hard...How are you anyway? Did going to London help at all?"

"England was really cool...I loved it, but it certainly didn't take my mind off Max if that's what you're wondering." She stared out the window, trying to explain to Isabel what the past few months had been like for her. "I felt so guilty. I was a coward Isabel... I didn't even call anyone to see if you guys were okay... I was just so freaked out by that whole destiny thing... the weeks before we heard that message from you mother...." She turned back to look Isabel in the eye. "I kept telling Max that we made our own destiny, that we got to choose who we wanted to be with...and then when it came down to the wire... when Max really HAD to make a choice... I ran away..." Tears filled her eyes again, but she wiped them away angrily. Isabel pulled a tissue out of her purse, handed it to Liz. "Thank you...anyway, I totally failed him... I was so scared that he wasn't going to choose me... when he told you guys that it was the four of you now, I just wanted to die... I had to leave..."

"I think what you did was really brave Liz..." Isabel told her. Liz could see that she really meant it. "I couldn't leave Alex...not until there was absolutely no choice...I think you knew that Max WOULD choose you... you didn't want him to have to make that choice... That's real courage in my books." Liz snorted briefly.

"Well, it obviously was all for nothing anyway. I don't understand what's happened to him... I didn't even think that Max was capable of being the person I've seen him be today..." She giggled despite herself. "I mean, Pam Troy...what the heck is up with that?'

Isabel laughed too... "It's like we've entered the Twilight Zone...I'm expecting that guy to do his voice-over any minute...Welcome to Roswell, where nothing is ever easy and where people go bonkers at the drop of a hat..." she intoned. Liz laughed again, the first genuine laugh she had had in a long time.

"What's so funny girls?" This came from Mr. Evans who was seated across the aisle from them with Liz's dad. Liz rolled her eyes at Isabel.

"Dads are so oblivious." She murmured under her breath. Isabel giggled again.

"Nothing daddy... we're just really looking forward to the marshmallows tonight...Liz was just telling me about the time she ate 25 in one sitting..." Mr. Parker grinned beside Isabel's dad,

"I remember that," He added. "We had one very sick little girl on our hands...but I think Maria was worse...didn't she have about 30 Lizzie?" Liz nodded, laughed again.

"Yeah but she was fine...that was when Mrs. Deluca was going through her weird sugar diet phase. All Maria ate then was sugar anyway..."

"Well, that can't possibly be any weirder than when Izzy and Max used to put tabasco sause on THEIR marshmallows," Mr. Evans argued. "Max did it first, if I recall correctly...he was about eight...he wanted Diane and I to try it too...Di did...I'll never forget the expression on her face..." He laughed affectionately, but then stopped abruptly, turned in his seat to stare at his son sadly, who happened to be looking in their direction, clearly curious about what they were talking about...Liz watched as Mr. Evans met Max's eyes...She couldn't believe it when Max glared at his father, deliberately took Pam's chin in his hand and started kissing her again.

She felt Isabel flinch beside her. She patted Isabel's arm reassuringly..."Don't worry Iz...we're going to fix this...somehow..."

Part 5 | Index | Part 7
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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