life is busy.

disclaimer: i don't own maximum ride.

Max

It was the afternoon of the next day after work that I received an, well, I couldn't say unexpected... but I didn't think he would come, either.

And yes, I did have a job. It was the only way to pay for the things I wanted, and while my mom paid for rent, I wasn't going to have her pay for everything else. I paid for my clothes, I paid for my food, I paid for the things I have in my house...

Opening my door, I was immediately greeted by a cat running quickly over to my feet. I looked down in surprise at her, kneeling to pet her back and feeling the rumble of her purr through her pristine white fur.

"Hey, there. What're you doing inside my apartment, Mrs. Abbeys must be looking all over for you."

The last thing I expected was for a deep voice to answer.

"She was scratching at the door so I let her in."

I startled into throwing my Panera bag clear across the room with a yelp. The cat that had been at my feet bolted away in fright and went who knows where, but I barely paid attention to where she went. In a fighting stance, I looked sharply toward the source of the voice to see none other than Fang sitting there, on one of my couches, looking like he hadn't broken into my home and waited for me to come inside like some kind of stalker. I'd completely missed him upon coming in. In the darkness of my living room, he'd blended in easily.

Seeing the smirk on his face, I scowled at him while relaxing my stance. "Fang, you scared the crap out of me."

He shrugged carelessly, still with that infuriating smirk on his face. "I try."

Sending him a sharp glare, I picked up my discarded paper bag and went into the kitchen, "What the hell are you doing here?"

And just like that, the air in the room became heavy and serious. I already knew what he wanted even before he opened his mouth to speak, "We need to talk."

God, if those words didn't sound like one of those cheesy break up lines. I looked at him over my shoulder, then to my balcony doors where my sheer white curtains were billowing in the wind coming in through the open entry. "So you broke into my apartment?" I asked, hoping to delay the inevitable.

Again, he shrugged.

Some help.

Wanting to dispel the uncomfortable silence, I turned around and looked through one of my cabinets. I pulled out a can of tuna then grabbed a can opener from the drawer near the sink and proceeded to cut open the top. The sound of the can opening worked to draw Mrs. Abbeys' cat from wherever she had been hiding. Before I could shake the contents onto a small plate, she was at my feet, making impatient noises as she waited for me to put it on the floor. She barely gave me a chance to set it down before digging in. Smiling, I watched her for a moment, until it faded, and I tried to collect my thoughts. I could feel Fang's expectant gaze on me like a tangible touch, making me have to suppress a shiver.

I don't know why I hadn't expected him to show up, especially when I had been waiting for him to do so all night. When he didn't, I had convinced myself that he had let it go, and I went to bed.

Yeah, right. Erasers would fly before that happened.

I played with the idea of pretending like I didn't know what he was talking about, but just as quickly discarded it. Not only had I waited too long to answer but he would quickly see through my ruse so my only other option was stalling.

So I announced, "I'm going to change my clothes." I was still wearing the ones I had from work and while I felt comfortable already in what I was in, I needed time to come up with something to tell him when I got back.

Predictably, he said nothing. I disappeared down the hall to my room. I was tempted to take a shower, making him wait even longer. He'd deserve it, breaking into my home like that. But Fang would probably think I was using it as a distraction or something to get away and come looking for me. And since I didn't actually want him to, you know, see me naked and all...

I sighed and changed into something more comfortable before walking back to the living room. He was looking out the balcony doors with his arms crossed but hearing me, he switched to watching me sit on the sofa separate from the one he was on.

We were quiet a moment. I don't know if it was because he was waiting on me to start saying something, but I still hadn't come up with anything. I'd thought all through changing my clothes but no excuse came to mind. It may have been years, but I still felt like he would see through my lies. He had been the only one who was able to read me like a book, and I doubted a few years' gap would help to rust those skills.

Then he said, "Nice place."

"Thanks," I said almost automatically. Then slower, "Mom got it for me."

He raised a brow at me.

"I wanted to be alone. You know..." I trailed off, shrugging, but God, so much for stalling. "It was the only way to keep her safe," I said firmly.

He finally seemed to get tired of waiting. "Max... what happened?" And he looked at me as if to say "and don't you lie to me," which I probably would have. I was right, it seems he still knew me better than I thought.

I sat and went over the words I wanted to say in my head. I didn't want to tell him everything. In fact, if I had my way, I wouldn't tell him anything at all. Then I opened my mouth and began to speak. Starting with when I left his house to how I traveled around the US and a little bit of Europe, to jobs I did, and all the places I'd seen. It wasn't always easy. Some jobs didn't want some orphan kid working for them, especially one that seemed like they were on the run. Sometimes I was forced to dumpster dive, other times forced to sleep out in the cold because I had no money for a motel. Nothing new. It was only luck that landed me on Jules and my current place of employment where they didn't care what my past was as long as I wasn't a fugitive and did my job well.

Of course, there were times I bumped into trouble along the way. The Erasers were always on the prowl but I told him how easily I took care of them, and kicked butt here and there. Nothing the Indescribable Max couldn't handle. There were a few close calls. I wasn't going to lie (completely anyway). I had to make it convincing in some way. Being alone was hard and even though I thought myself invincible, the reality was I wasn't prepared for everything. And I liked to think I was pragmatic.

When I was finished, he was giving me a contemplative look. I was wondering what he was thinking when he said, "Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why did you leave? You could have stayed with us. We weren't going to kick you out."

I shook my head. "You know that wasn't possible. Your mom—"

"Forget about my mother!" His outburst caught me by surprise. And him, too, it would seem. But before I could tell him anything, he cleared his face and gave me this intense look.

"You're hiding something."

I froze at that then looked away. "What makes you say that?" I said with an indifferent tone, trying to brush him off.

"Max."

"Seriously, Fang, I'm not hiding anything."

"Yes, you are. You always bite your fingernails when you have something to hide." I looked down at said fingers in surprise, one in my mouth. I didn't realize I was doing that. I quickly pulled it out, settling my hand on my lap.

"That doesn't mean I'm hiding something," I denied, scowling.

"Tell me what happened."

"Nothing."

"You're lying."

"No, I'm not."

"Max, why can't you just admit that something happened and talk to me."

"Because it's none of your business!" I snapped, forcing his jaw to close with an audible click. I inhaled, took a deep breath, and clenched my fingers around the edge of my sofa. "Why don't you just let it go? You can't just break into my apartment and expect for me to tell you everything that happened."

"...you used to."

I frowned sadly at my lap. "That was years ago. You ever thought that things won't stay the same?"

"...it is for me," I heard him mutter. It didn't look like he meant for that to be said out loud.

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