The breeze was warm against his face, the hum of the engine relaxing him like nothing else could. His hand was wet again, making him wonder why all of his dreams involved water. He opened his eyes to gaze out on the open road in front of him, the red-orange of the desert landscape casting a colorful array upon him.
He scanned the dashboard of the car and smiled when he met a familiar sight. His old car, the pursuit vehicle he'd driven to capture Furiosa, his beloved 1937 Chevy Coupe. He and Slit had been partnered together to battle other mechanic teams for the wheel to that car. When he'd lost it, he'd been heartbroken, not even having his wheel in remembrance of it. It was still lost somewhere in the desert, ruined in part by Furiosa's War Rig and the Great Tornado.
Upon seeing the familiar sight, he thought he must have been dreaming again, but looking to his right he found the angel in the sun driving with one of her legs propped up on the dash. She had her right arm against the window with her head propped up on it, the other gripping the steering wheel tight. He slowly looked down at the floor, not wanting her to know he was awake yet, and found the answer to his question of why his hand was wet. A small black dog with white on his belly, was gently licking the burns on his hand.
Slowly moving away from the dog's tongue, he looked back up at the woman driving. Her deep blue eyes were staring out at the road, but as he looked closer he noticed one was the color of sapphire, the other almost matching his frosty ones. Her skin was tan from the harsh desert sun, and it was cracked and scarred in places. She wore what looked like a loose white shirt worn dirty by the land. It blew in the breeze made by the open windows, revealing a black bra underneath that she apparently wasn't worried about covering up. Her pants consisted of green military camouflage material, stitched in places with odd colored patches sewn in here and there. They were tucked into a pair of heavy black boots, no doubt the ones he'd woken from his dream of Valhalla, to.
She was lean and muscular, looking frighteningly similar to Capable. Maybe it was her hair, the most striking feature about her. Capable's had been rose red, but she'd told him it was actually blonde and that she'd died it red for the blood Immorten Joe had spilled keeping her and the other wives locked up in his Citadel. This woman's, though, was the color of the desert sand, the color of fire. It was pulled into a high pony tail, which was sucked out the window by the breeze. Situated on top of her head was a pair of goggles, something every driver owned, and around her neck were binoculars.
She sniffed, wiping her nose on her arm, and shifted in her seat, making Nux close his eyes. He still didn't want her to know he was awake until he figured out a plan of action. Peeking beneath his eyelids, he glanced at the wheel and frowned. His wheel had looked exactly like that, though it had had a skeleton head on it. The only thing different about his car had been his name painted in white on the brake pedal. He chanced a look at the pedal, just for the hell of it, and his eyes snapped open in shock.
The brake pedal had his name on it, the same as it had in his car. A million things went through his mind. Was he still dreaming? Why was his name on her brake pedal? He looked around frantically at all of the dents and the bent frame, was this his car? It couldn't be his car, it was destroyed by the War Rig. But his name was on the brakes, and there was only one reason it would be there.
It really was his car, and that would mean that this woman stole it. He gritted his teeth together and clenched his fists. Just because he left it there in the desert didn't mean she could just take it! How did she even fix it up this well? She was a woman!
Without giving it a second thought, Nux lunged forward and grabbed the wheel, yanking it to the side. The car swerved off the road, making the woman drop her foot off the dash in surprise and latch onto the wheel, fighting with him to turn the car back onto the road. "What are you doing?" She shouted, turning the wheel to face the car back toward the road.
"That's my wheel!" He shouted back, jerking the car into the other direction again.
In the back of the car, the dog was barking.
"Stop!" She said, trying to duck her head in between his arms so she could put herself in between him and the wheel. He drove his shoulder into her side, making her gasp in pain, and tried to push her toward the door. She braced her feet up onto it, pushing him backwards with all of her strength.
"Give me it!"
She stretched her arm out to brace a hand on his face, pushing his head back so he couldn't reach the wheel. He latched onto her wrist and managed to pry her fingers backwards, and swiftly moved his head to the side to break her grip on his face. He leaped forward, wrapping his arms around the woman's waist, and they went tumbling through the door. They both hit the ground hard and rolled, clutching onto each other as they did, until they came to a stop. The woman straddled him and sent a punch into his face that shocked him. He braced his hands on the ground and smashed his forehead against her face. She cried out and fell backwards, and he took the advantage to straddle her this time. Just as he was ready to send his fist into her face, a blur of black caught his vision, and he flew backwards as the dog who had been licking his hand now latched onto it with powerful jaws.
About a fourth of a mile away, the car came rolling to a stop.
The dog bit into his hand further, making him grit his teeth in pain.
"Enough!" The woman shouted, staggering to her feet. She touched her fingers to her face, where her nose was gushing blood, and then she wiped at it. Flicking off the blood on her hands she yelled, "Scout, I said enough!"
The dog reluctantly let go of Nux's hand, which was also now coated with blood, and sank to the ground with a humph. The woman doubled over to rest her hands on her knees, gasping for breath. He too propped himself up on his hands, his chest heaving.
The woman spit a wad of blood into the sand and then said, "What the hell, man?"
"You have my car." He growled, "That's my drive."
"Excuse me?" She panted, but her eyes flashed, "I didn't see you win the Death Duel for it."
"My name is on it!" He said, "I won that wheel fair and square!"
"I won it from an old man in a Death Duel." She sank to her knees, "So please explain to me how it's yours."
"I lost it." He said quietly, "I got hit by a War Rig in the middle of the Great Tornado. My name is written on the brake pedal."
Her mismatched eyes flicked to his excitedly, "What's your name?"
"Nux." He said, leaning forward to cross his legs, "My name is Nux, thank you very much, and that is my car. I won it in the mechanic battles in Immorten Joe's Citadel."
She looked at the dog, "You hear that, Scout, we finally know what 'Nux' means!" Then she said, half to herself, "You were a War Boy."
"Yes, I was."
She wiped her nose again, wincing at the pain, "Still, that doesn't give you any reason to attack me. I saved your life, you were dying in that War Rig. If the fire didn't get to you, you would have drowned in gasoline."
His eyes widened as he thought back to the stars and the golden doors of Valhalla. I saved your life. So he hadn't been dreaming, those really were the doors. He had almost made it. If it weren't for this woman, he would be feasting with the heroes of old in the halls of Valhalla. He remembered something grabbing his wrist and pulling him from the doors. A ball of grief welled up in his chest and tears formed in his eyes as he said, "You were the one who saved me."
She spit another ball of blood onto the sand, and muttered, "Try not to sound too happy about it."
"You should have let me die." He said quietly, pulling his knees up to his chest.
"Well with that attitude, I should have." She strode over to him and knelt down onto the ground. Gently taking his right hand, she looked over it and said, "Great. Your bandage is gone."
"Maybe you shouldn't have attacked me and you'd still have it."
"I think the dog took it. It was gone when I woke up." Nux said.
Her eyes flicked up to his, "'The dog's' got a name. Scout."
"And you?" He asked.
"Name's Daring." She said without looking at him, "Just Daring."
"Well, 'Just Daring', mind if I have my wheel back?" He asked, hopeful that she would say yes. Instead she grinned and shook her head, "No, you cannot, but I'll let you drive for a while. I'm too tired."
"I'm going back to the Citadel." He said, getting to his feet, "If I'm going to die, and if it can't be on the Fury Road, then it will be there. Besides," He thought of Capable, "There is someone I want to say goodbye to."
"Say goodbye? You act like you're dying already." She crossed her legs and squinted up at him.
"I am. Larry and Barry are starting to get to me." He tapped the tumors on his shoulder before she could ask who Larry and Barry were, "I'm a half-life, and my half is starting to end. That's why I was lying in that War Rig. I wanted to die historically on the Fury Road, so I sacrificed myself to save Immorten Joe's shiny wives. Shiny and chrome, they were."
Daring wasn't exactly sure what he was talking about, but she got the gist. Instead of dying from sickness, he wanted to die in battle and she'd more or less ruined it for him. But an idea formed in her mind, "Then come with me."
"What?" He asked, frowning.
"Come with me and there's a chance you will die on the road." She shrugged, "I'm heading even further west than the Citadel. To the Cannibal Lands."
Nux's eyes widened. The Cannibal Lands were no laughing matter. Anyone who dared venture there had to have balls bigger than the size of a War Rig. They were a long stretch of three hundred miles of nothing but sand and cannibalistic war parties. Many a War Boy had ventured to the Cannibal Lands, and none of them had ever returned.
"You won't survive." He said.
"I have a guaranteed safe passage." She shot back, "All the way to the other side. All we have to do is go."
"How did you manage that?" He asked skeptically.
"I have connections in the Cannibal Lands. It's where I'm from." She said, "I'm not a people eater, just to clarify. There's a reason why I left, and it's that."
Nux shook his head, "I want to go to the Citadel."
She looked slightly disappointed but got to her feet, "Then lead the way."
The feeling of driving his car again was delightful. Many memories of battles and ventures with Slit flashed through his mind. He leaned forward to look out the window and imagined seeing the Great Tornado again, sucking up one of the pursuit vehicles and the War Boys along with it. It was one of the most amazing things he'd ever seen in his life, and he couldn't think of a day that had ever been so lovely.
Daring was stroking the dog's head next to him, her eyes never leaving him. To be fair, he wouldn't trust him either, were he in her place. He had attacked her after all, even after she saved his life. Of course he never asked to be saved, but he supposed, were he in her place, he would have saved him, too.
"How long was I asleep?" He asked, "A couple hours?"
Daring snorted, "Try a couple days, War Boy. I thought you were going to die there in the beginning, but then you threw up a bunch of crud and grumbled about something. You were talking in your sleep."
"What did I say?" He asked, a small smile forming on his face.
"Something about red roses, I think." She said, pushing wisps of hair out of her eyes, "And an angel in the sun with a halo of fire. Some real poetic stuff."
"Huh." He said, and continued to speed down the red road.
"Who do you have to say goodbye to?" She asked, breaking the heavy silence that had fallen between them. She kicked her feet up onto the dash, much to his annoyance.
His eyes flicked from her feet to her wind-burnt face, "A friend."
She arched an eyebrow and picked at her fingernails, "A friend that's a girl?"
"Why does it matter?" He avoided her eyes and grimaced as his stomach dropped from a steep hill they drove down.
"You're the first person I've met out here in months, besides the guys I had the Death Duel with." She shrugged, "And they didn't talk much. It's kind of hard to talk with your guts hanging out all over the dirt. You know what I'm saying?"
"She was one of the wives." He said.
"You've got some balls, guy." She grinned and slapped his shoulder, "So is she, like, your girlfriend?"
"Well why not?"
He shrugged, "I mean, she was a shiny wife and I was just a War Boy. A half life."
"So you didn't want to be her boyfriend because you're going to die and didn't want to break her heart?"
Nux stared at the road, Daring's words startling him. He'd never thought about that before. He truly cared about Capable, and the thought of breaking her heart sickened him. He'd thought about how much his life could change because of Capable, all of the good things that made his stomach warm. But he'd never thought of the bad things that suddenly made him very, very cold. He could never provide the type of life for Capable that she deserved. And, oh, did she deserve a good one.
Daring didn't ask anything else, feeling as though she struck a nerve in the War Boy. She only sniffed and leaned back in her seat, turning her head to watch the landscape rush by. Scout dug his nose under her arm, and she scratched behind his ears.
As they came into view of the Citadel, Nux slowed to a stop and killed the engine. The Citadel was probably three miles away, but he figured approaching on foot was the better idea. He turned to Daring and asked, "I still can't change your mind about giving me back my car?"
"My car." She said, twirling a tire gauge with her fingers, "And no, sorry."
He slammed the door shut and said, "I suppose I should thank you for saving my life, even though I didn't ask you to."
She rolled her eyes and muttered, "You're welcome."
"Goodbye." He said, and then turned to start the walk to the Citadel. His heart was beating rapidly as he tried to imagine how the Shiny Wives, and Furiosa, and his Bloodbag would react upon discovering that he wasn't dead.
"Hey Nux!" He turned to find Daring half hanging out of the car window. She waved to him and called, "I still can't change your mind about coming with me to the Cannibal Lands?"
He smiled, "No, sorry."
"Well, Scout and I'll be here till morning if you change your mind." She said, shielding her eyes from the desert sun. The dog popped up in the window, his tongue lolled out the side of his mouth.
He only nodded and continued on his way. The wind was burning his eyes by the time he reached the Citadel, stumbling into the large open space occupied by the citizens. They were all milling about and shouting, their pots filled to the brim with water. For the first time in his life, Nux saw them smiling.
He grabbed one of them by the arm, turning them to face him, "Furiosa, the Shiny Wives, where are they?"
The woman he held onto grinned, showing two brown teeth, "They're over by the War Boys, Furiosa's somewhat in charge. She and the wives are listening to complaints made by anyone who has them. If you need something, talk to them and they'll give it to you. More food, more water, whatever you want and they'll help you."
Nux nodded, "Thank you."
"Say," She called as he was walking away, "weren't you a War Boy?"
He pushed through the crowd that was gathered near the War Boy camp. Seated at its gates were the four Shiny Wives and Imperator Furiosa. Furiosa was looking at the man knelt in front of her with a motherly gaze. She got to her feet and said, "Please, you don't need to bow to us. We're the same as you."
Nux looked from her to the woman seated at her right. He knew this woman was Capable, but she looked different. Her rose colored hair was now gone, replaced by the blonde she had told him about. It was platinum, shining brilliantly in the afternoon sun. She too rose to her feet and took hold of the man's hands, "Furiosa's right. All of us are equal, no one needs to bow to anyone anymore."
The man clambered to his feet, with the help of Capable, and took her face in between his hands, "Bless you. Bless all of you!"
The crowed cheered in agreement, making Nux's stomach turn warm. All of the good things he'd thought about when he imagined Capable came pouring forth. Sharing all of his secrets and fears with her, being able to hold her in his arms whenever he wanted. Being at her side for the rest of his life.
But the rest of his life wouldn't be for very long, and slowly all of the bad things flooded his mind and body. He wouldn't be able to provide a life for her. She didn't deserve him, a half-life War Boy, she deserved someone much better. He would make her fall in love with him, and he would fall in love with her, but then he would leave her and break her heart and make her cry.
Nux didn't have the heart to make her cry.
And so he stood amidst the crowd, Capable a mere measure of feet in front of him, but he did not call out to her. He didn't move a muscle to wave to her or let her know in any way that he was alive.
Because it was better for her to think that he was dead.
He stood in the same spot for the rest of the day, until night started creeping up on them and the crowd disbursed. The Shiny Wives gathered their chairs and started heading toward the lowering platform, and Nux took one last look at Capable before turning his back on them and heading toward a small gathering of people to sleep with.
Before reaching the group, he felt a hand on his elbow that spun him around. Furiosa looked mildly surprised as she said, "I thought it was you."
"Imperator Furiosa." Nux dipped his head.
She shook hers and said, "No, just Furiosa. I was Joe's Imperator, now I am my own Furiosa." She looked him up and down, "I thought you were dead. We all did."
He half smiled, "Join the club."
"Why didn't you come forward at the meetings today?"
"I'm not staying, I came to say goodbye." He said, rubbing his bare arms to keep warm against the cold.
Furiosa put a hand on her hip, "Funny, I didn't hear any goodbyes."
"I think, sometimes, it's better for people to stay dead." Nux said sadly, "How is she?"
"She's fine, still cries herself to sleep, but it's only been a couple of days. She'll be okay." Furiosa said, "She went back to the wreckage yesterday to see if she could find your body. She didn't."
She lead him to the lowering platform, and gave the signal to the War Boys to take them to the top of the Citadel. Nux followed obediently, but only after Furiosa promised him that the wives would be asleep by then.
Once at the top, he followed her to a small clearing on top of the cliff. It was his first time seeing grass up close in his entire life. He knelt down to touch it, marveling at how soft it was and how fresh it smelled. He stood back up to follow Furiosa to the center of the cliff, where a small stone slab was erected. On the front, his name was engraved into the stone. A bouquet of flowers was placed neatly around it, along with silver coins.
"She had one of the townsmen make it. Paid him a good price to have it done in a day." Furiosa said, crossing her arms, "She said now you can rest in the green."
Nux stared sadly at the small headstone, finding it odd that he was looking at his own grave. Finally he asked, "She did this for me?"
"Yes." Furiosa answered, "She loved you, Nux. Even if she only knew you for a couple of days, you were the first person that ever made her feel alive. And that's straight from her lips, not mine."
He felt hot tears form in his eyes, and when he blinked they rolled down his cheeks, "She was the one who patched me up. I was all broken, shattered inside, and she was the one who pulled all of the pieces together." He sniffled, "But I'll be dead soon. The sickness, it's wearing on me. I can't make a life for her, the only thing I would do is make her cry again."
"I understand." Furiosa said, placing a hand on his shoulder, "Where will you go?"
"West, to the Cannibal Lands."
She frowned, "You know no one ever makes it out of there alive."
He shrugged, "What have I got to lose?"
She escorted him back to the lowering platform and down onto the ground below, handing him a brown leather jacket to shrug into. He ran his fingers over it and asked, "What of my Bloodbag, how is he?"
Furiosa's eyes saddened, "I don't know, he left us shortly after we arrived."
Nux nodded and then said, "Thank you, Furiosa, for the jacket and for," he waved to the top of the Citadel where his grave was, "that."
"You're welcome, Nux. And if you ever need anything, we're always here." She said, stepping back onto the platform.
He watched her ascend to the top levels of the Citadel, waving to her until she disappeared inside. Slowly he lowered his hand to his side, looking around for a place to sleep.
His dreams that night were full of misery and fear. He tossed and turned, sweat dripping down his body like he'd just run across the entire desert. The first glow of sunlight was what woke him, his sleeping self trying to find anything to wake itself up.
Groggily getting to his feet, he looked up at the Citadel one last time before venturing out into the desert. As he was about halfway to the spot where he'd left Daring, a cloud of dust kicked up and the sound of an engine could be heard. He watched as his beloved car grew nearer and nearer before eventually slowing to a stop next to him. Daring removed the goggles from her eyes and squinted up at him.
"Does the offer to join you still stand?" He asked.
Daring grinned and said, "Climb aboard matey!" She turned to Scout, who was sitting diligently in the passenger's seat and said, "Sorry, buddy, gotta make room for the new guy."
The dog groaned in protest, making Daring roll her eyes and point to the back of the car. Nux couldn't help but smile as he slid into the passenger's seat and slammed the door shut. Daring shifted into gear and they sped towards the west.
"You're lucky we saw you," Daring said, "we were just leaving without you."
"So I saw."
As the Citadel grew smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror, Daring asked, "Did you get to say goodbye to your girlfriend?"
He thought about the scene at the meetings, and of his headstone Furiosa had shown him. Despite the fact that he hadn't physically told her goodbye, he felt as though he spiritually did. Tearing his eyes away from the reflected image of the Citadel, he focused on the road ahead and said, "Yes. I did."
Guys, I just wanted to say thank you for the feedback on my first chapter! You guys rock, and honestly I wasn't expecting most of it. I thought, gauging from feedback on other Mad Max fanfics, I would maybe get one or two, but eight was a great surprise! So thank you again!
Also, I asked you guys if doing a Max fic would be something cool of me to do. So I went ahead and did it, and I finally have a good storyline in my head for how it's going to be, and honestly it's a pretty good storyline if I do say so myself! That story is called The Color Blue, just in case you don't know and want to check it out! (Which you should do!)
So thanks again for the feedback, and here's a new chapter that I hope you enjoyed! I try to release the first couple chapters shortly following each other so you have something to read that you can gauge on how well the rest of the story will be. So hopefully you've been enjoying it!
I hope you have a lovely day!