FanFic - Other
"Out of the Woods"
Part 8
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
"I think I should go back." Pam whined as Isabel hauled her through the bush. They had been walking for about twenty minutes now and Isabel realized that she had probably gotten them all good and lost at this point.

That's what I'm trying to do though, Isabel reflected. The longer we're gone, the more time Liz will have to try and get Max to open up.

"Oh don't be such a wuss Troy." This came from Kyle, who was helping Tess over a log. "Everyone knows the best stargazing is on the far side of the lake." Isabel shot him a grateful look. Who knew Kyle Valenti would turn out to be so helpful?

"I just don't understand why Max got stuck back there with that wench Liz..." Isabel halted abruptly, turned and stared at Pam. Was she that clueless? Everyone else was staring at Pam as well.

"Uh, newsflash Pam." Alex said evenly. "We're all Liz's friends." Pam snorted, tossed her head.

"Which makes you all as loserish as she is..." Maria stepped forward, a murderous expression on her face. Alex and Tess quickly grabbed her by the arms, Alex wrapping his arm around her waist and clamping a hand over her mouth.

Isabel shot Maria a warning look...they had to give Liz more time.

"Well, we can't all get along..."She said to Pam through gritted teeth. "Why don't we just drop the subject." Unfortunately it wasn't going to be as easy as that. Pam was evidently on a roll.

"Liz is just so pathetic. I mean, everyone knows that she ran off to England because she couldn't deal with the fact that Max dumped her. No one could believe he wanted to go out with that little nerd to begin with...He might have been quiet when they went out, but he was studly man. He could have had any girl in the school. Does Liz put out or something?" Pam asked with false concern. Maria's eyes were practically bugging out of her head above Alex's hand. Tess was eyeing Pam with annoyance.

"Do you even know Liz?" She demanded suddenly. Pam blinked.

"Huh?" Pam's mouth was twitching.

Tess continued. "You obviously don't know Liz Parker at all, do you?" Maria and Alex were both eyeing Tess with suspicion, wondering where she was going with this. "I don't know her very well either, but from what I've seen she's loyal and friendly and sweet..." Alex and Kyle exchanged glances of wonder.

"I really like Liz too." Isabel inserted, picking up from Tess. "I think she was the best thing that ever happened to my brother." Izzy suddenly realized that this was true...she had never seen Max as happy - as complete - as he had been when he was with Liz. The entire disaster that WAS Max had begun after Liz had walked away from him. Everything had gone wrong from that moment on...

Sort of how nothing is right when Alex and I aren't together. She glanced at her ex-boyfriend from under her lashes, wishing that she could be the one holding his hand right now, not Maria.

Thinking of Maria made Isabel think of Michael. "Hey!" She suddenly cut off Pam, who was muttering under her breath about them all being idiots. "Where's Michael?"

Maria's head snapped up and she wrenched Alex's hand away from her mouth. "He was here a minute ago." She began to twist around frantically. "Michael! Where are you?"

"Oh he wondered off into the bush a few minutes ago." Pam told them dismissively. "Who cares anyway? He's weird." Alex quickly grabbed Maria again before she could make a move. Maria was just ignoring Pam anyway.

"We have to find him! I don't think he even knows what he's doing half the time." She looked at Isabel pleadingly. "Izzy can you like find him somehow? That destiny crap has got to be good for something." Isabel looked sharply at Pam, stared back at Maria meaningfully. Pam knew nothing about their secret, unless Max HAD truly lost his mind. She had no intention of having her find out by accident.

Maria snapped her mouth shut, looked embarrassed.

Pam was glaring from one to the other annoyed. "You guys are so weird." She said snootily. " I can't even understand what you're talking about half the time. I am so glad Max has decided to ditch you all 'cause let me tell you, there is no way I'm hanging out with you freaks on a regular basis."

She turned suddenly to Kyle. "Even you Valenti - you're hanging out with losers all the time. Your position at school has been totally compromised. Dating Parker last year was bad enough, but this..." Pam pointed at Alex with disdain. "The geek of the junior class? And Miss Snotty Isabel Evans, not to mention that dingbat Maria, who's mom is the town tramp. And then there's little Tess Harding, who everyone KNOWS is a slut, I mean everyone heard the rumors from her old school when she moved here..."

Alex grinned at Pam, put a comforting arm around Tess. Tess looked at him in surprise, clearly not that upset about what Pam was saying since she KNEW that Pam had started all the rumors about her..."Ah Pam, you're a real laugh-riot, you know? Could you be any less original? EVERYONE knows I'm a geek. I mean, if you're going to hate us, at least let it be because WE loathe you..." The rest of the group had been staring at Pam, but all turned to stare at Alex instead. Kyle started to laugh.

"And know Pam," continued Maria, "We really, REALLY loathe you..." Isabel giggled. So much for trying to be friends with Pam she thought. Isabel found that she was not at all surprised that it was going to be impossible. I would have felt like I was betraying Liz anyway, she thought. She and my brother might have made me ill on occasion, but at least I like Liz. Tess is right. She is loyal and kind. Isabel realized that she trusted few people as she trusted Liz. She even trusted Liz to save her brother from himself, since Isabel had been so incapable of doing so.

"Enough of this tomfoolery." Said Alex. "We have to split up and find Michael." Isabel was glad that someone else was taking control. "Kyle can you take Izzy and Pam with you?" Kyle nodded. "I'll go with Maria and Tess." Isabel felt it like a stab to the heart that Alex didn't want to search with her. Oh focus Isabel, she reprimanded sharply. This is not the time.

"I'm not going anywhere," pouted Pam. She sat down on a log, crossed her arms and glared at them all. "I hope he drowns."

"Oh for crying out loud..." Kyle rolled his eyes. " can just stay here then...maybe the bears will eat you." Pam stood up immediately.

Isabel was ignoring the arguing going on around her. She was trying to connect with Michael.

Since the last year, she had become much more adept at entering other people's minds. She had been practicing and now she didn't need to have a picture anymore and could USUALLY penetrate others' thoughts when they were awake. The only people she had no success with were Max and Michael unfortunately. They seemed to know exactly what to do to block her access...

Of course, before they had never bothered to block her...they had trusted her completely. Now that Max was no longer MAX and Michael was always out of it, they had shut her out. And she had definitely tried to get to them...if even to get a little hint about what was going on in their stubborn heads since the whole destiny fiasco.

Isabel shuddered when she remembered the one time she had actually gotten anywhere with Max. He had been asleep, but he had known the instant she had entered his dream. It still hurt to reflect on how the dream Max had forcibly thrown her out...

Isabel opened her eyes. She could see that Maria was watching her hopefully. She just shook her head regretfully. Maria's eyes shadowed. Pam was still complaining.

"Why can't someone just take me back?" She whined. Alex was scrubbing his eyes in frustration.

"Oh, don't we wish we could...back to hell, where you belong..."he muttered.

"Someone's coming!" Maria said suddenly. They all stopped talking instantly, even Pam.

"What if it's a bear?" She whispered. Alex just rolled his eyes and Kyle snickered.

Michael appeared suddenly from behind a tree. They all just stared at him. They all stared more when they realized who was with him.

It was Max.

And he did not look happy.

Of course, when does he ever look happy? Isabel thought. She felt herself about to giggle hysterically.

"Did you finish the dishes?" She smiled inanely at her brother.

Max did not respond, he just shot her an annoyed look. "Are you guys done pumping Pam for information?" He demanded. Isabel flinched.

"Where's Liz?" This came from Maria, who was glaring at Max. If anyone hated Max now, it was Maria.

Max glanced at her and then away dismissively. "She's probably off somewhere bawling," he replied coldly. He turned to Pam. "Nice of you to try and get along with THEM for my sake, but it's not necessary. Let's just go." Pam stuck her nose in the air, went to stand beside him. She shot Maria a look as she passed her.

"Make sure to say hi to Liz when you go back to the campsite." She said. Then she reached up, grabbed Max's head and kissed him.

Isabel turned away. It was revolting. She hated her brother at that moment. Hated him for doing this to himself.

Max broke the kiss, took Pam's hand and led her off into the bush. Michael followed, still not having said a word.

Maria, Tess, Alex, Kyle and Izzy all stood there in silence.

"Well, that was anticlimactic." Kyle finally said. Maria snapped to attention.

"We have to get back to Lizzie..." She looked worried. "Even if Max was just being a jerk, which is more than likely, I'm betting their talk didn't go very well."

"That's an understatement." Alex muttered.

So much for stargazing, thought Isabel as they all trooped back through the woods. She shot a sad look at Alex.

Part 7 | Index | Part 9
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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