ORIGINAL CH. 8 PASSAGE NOTE: Several things were slightly different when I had been writing , before my computer had crashed. Mainly, Mary was not supposed to know of what happened in Termoli, whereas in the final version, Mary knew already. Also, whether or not one wishes to keep Max's death scene in this passage apart of the canonical TSW is the decision of the reader. I consider the manner in which Max died - by friendly fire - to be canonical, though my mind is still out on his final words to Scott. But again, ever man to himself.

Hm. Scott closed his eyes. I guess its better late than never.

"Scott….." Mary turned away. "Look. I know you have a problem dealing with your feelings. And I know you haven't been seeing a doctor, so don't lie and say you have. I know you're mad at me. But I think….I think I should publish this. I think its something I need to do. I mean…." Mary started to walk. "So many men are talking about their time over there now. I see the way I tell it as….a way to explain it, but to kids, like Sherry. I mean, I admit, I still don't understand parts of why this war happened, but…..I think….simplifying it helps. I think the hedgehog helps, because…..he's you, Scott. He helps me to put your thoughts in perspective, to see you as…something better than how you think yourself to be." Mary turned back to Scott. "And so I don't care what you say about it, either. I'm going to publish this, and you can beat me until my face turns blue, because it won't change my mind this time."

He took her hand and clenched it tightly. Looking down at her trembling hand, he began to speak again after several moments.

"….I don't think you understand."
"…Scott…." Mary looked down. "I just told you-"
"…No, its not that." Scott shook his head. "Its not you….its me."
"…Scott…." Mary's voice was slightly irritated. "How many times have I told you-"
"No, Mary. That's not what I have a problem with." Scott shook his head. "I've gone past blaming myself, from blocking out all of what happened."
"Then why are you still dwelling on it?"
"…..Because I have to." Scott turned to Mary. "Maybe it's the battle fatigue coming back, but I just have had this….feeling….to think about it. I mean," Scott quickly smiled. "I don't think about it all the time. It's not like before. I just think about it in my sleep, where no one can interrupt my thoughts. I somehow have far better control over it….because I'm not suppressing the memories this time."
"All the same." Mary shook her head. "You should see a doctor."
"….No." Scott made a turn onto another road. "The doctor wouldn't believe what I have to say."
"What you have to say?"
"Mary…." Scott turned to Mary. His eyes flickered. "What I really want to know……is whether you would believe me if I told you the truth about what happened in Termoli."

Slowly, at this, Scott looked up at the sky. Sometimes, at night, before he went to sleep, his conscience would nag at him about his feelings, and he could almost hear the voices in his mind arguing, particularly after he argued with Mary when he had first come back from the war. This time, however, there was no nagging. He knew it was time to tell.

"It feels like yesterday, Mary…..I was flying over Salerno with my co-pilot, RAF Miles Prowler. We were shot down." Scott closed his eyes. "He died……in my arms….."

Slowly, but surely, his mind drifted back, back to those terrible moments he had always tried to get rid of. He had always tried to push it to the back of his mind, knowing - or at least thinking he had known - it had been his fault all along the two men who had helped him had died a cruel, slow death.


Scott could barely see through the smoke and flames of the fire as he fell over his friend. Quickly, he sat him up.

"Miles!! Miles, are you all right?!?!?"

Miles' head bobbed towards Scott, and the boy could see the burns on his partner's face. He breathed slowly as blood flowed from his head, and from his eye sockets, the right one with an eye missing.

"I'll be fine….." The smile on Miles' face reciprocated that of Scott's expression of horror at the disgusting. "Just don't…..let them take me…….I'll…..I'll be fine………"

Yet when the smell of blood came to Scott's nose after four years, he realized it was not so easy to forget. He became scared again when he felt Miles' frame shudder and fall silent, scared of what he would remember; two years could not have lessened the blow anymore than a hundred women could have, if he had not been with Mary.

"He died of his wounds. I managed to bury his body, before the Germans caught me." Scott took a deep breath. "They took me to Termoli."
"Scott, please…"
"Let me continue."

There was no anger in Scott's voice, as there had been the last time, those many months before, when Mary had been foolish enough to first demand of him what he tossed and turned in bed for.

"I was captured by the Germans," his voice was soft, sad. "They tried to get information from me, anything they could get. I had nothing they didn't already know, but they still tortured me, hoping to get more. They did everything to me…..everything short of killing me…"
"Scott…" Mary shut her eyes.
"They locked me in a small cell." Scott's voice was distant. "It was two feet wide on all sides. They give me no food; they figured to starve me. But….but Max….."

Scott paused. To continue, to continue would bring everything back. But he was too far to go back. The sun was starting to sink below the horizon.

"Max…was a German officer my age." He slowly closed his eyes. "He….saved me. He hated his people. He told me of these rumors he heard, that they shipped people off to camps to die. I didn't believe it. But he did. That's why, he said, that's why he joined the resistance behind his country's back. He'd give reconnaissance information to the Americans. And then…..he was almost caught."

A small tear came down Scott's eyes as he spoke. His voice shook slightly as he spoke.

"But I saved him that one time. I managed to convince the Germans, that I had been sending the messages. So I was punished. Tortured again….but still, not killed." He involuntarily touched his shoulder. "They poked me good with that machine, whatever it was. I think it was a cattle prod, with a battery in it. They stuck me naked in a bucket of water, and slashed it all over my body. I couldn't scream; I was gagged."
"…..Oh, god…" Mary turned away. "Please, don't tell me anymore."
"I survived." Scott knew better than to stop. "It was the beginning of October when they did that; I was still burnt up when……when the Americans attacked."

He opened his eyes to return to the present, and almost gave a start. He was wide awake; he had opened his eyes. Yet he wasn't in front of the club. All around him was blood, and the sound of thunder. Mortar shells.

Then he turned. He shut his eyes.

"They came at night…..They came, and destroyed the town…..and….Max…."


He screamed without logic, without control, as the pain of the bullets in his side came back over his adrenaline rush. The pain, the bullets, the sounds, the smells, the sight of the ruined houses around him, the people screaming around him, in languages his tongue had not heard in three years.....

He couldn't stop himself now; he knew what year it was, what day it was. It was September 29, 1947. He was in California. Yet he had also somehow traveled back, back into time, his mind unable to awaken, yet fully awake and aware. He choked on himself.

He was back in Termoli, re-living the day he should have died.

"I tried to stop them, to tell them he was in the resistance…..but…."


The blood splattered everywhere from his red-haired friend as he lurched up. One of the sniper bullets had hit the German square in the chest; the other his him in the jugular. His eyes were wide with terror as he fell to his knees, the blood spurting and pulsing out of his injuries.


With no control from the present, he ran, clutching his side, screaming, as the German fell to his knees. He could feel the bullets whizzing all around him, and could see the buildings collapsing around him. But his concern was Max.


He slid on his knees as he got to his friend, catching him before his head could hit the ground. Max's eyes were wide from the pain, his face was white as a sheet; he looked up towards the sky that peeked through the broken ceiling.

"M-max!" Scott squeaked. The feeling of helplessness came back to him, and he was reduced to a child as he burst into tears. "Noo.....please, don't die!"

As Scott fretted, his mind snapped suddenly. Behind him, another door exploded, and the splinters shattered over him.

"Whenever I played the scene…in my mind…." More tears came down. "I had always blamed myself. But….lately…….Something…..resurfaced. Something I completely blocked out."

"Miles.....the mortar....." Scott shut his eyes, forcing the tears back. "Max, I....I have...I have to save you! I'll go get a doctor!"

Scott's eyes widened. He saw Max's facial expression change. Where there had been terror before, there was a strange calm and tranquility in his eyes, which overtook the ash hue of his face. He kept staring up at the starry night sky over the destroyed building, his blood flowing out of him and onto Scott and the floor. Yet there was a strange satisfaction in his eyes.

"My dreams…..I saw the truth. I was stunned. I did not remember seeing Max looking so tranquil as he died....I had only remembered the terror and the fear in his eyes....."

"....He's.....vaiting..." Max gasped.
"Max?" Scott saw the terror in his own eyes as he grabbed Max's hand tightly. "Max, no..."
"Mein....friend...." Max closed his eyes. "Vas dis....a beginning.....of.....it is up there........the next.....stage....."

Scott stared down at his friend, unable to understand. He was too gripped in fear, too frightened, to truly understand what his friend meant. Death was an

"Max?" Scott could only look at him in confusion even as fear gripped him. "What....do you mean.....beginning?"
"Leave me."

The next thing that happened made Scott's blood go cold in shock as he looked to Max's face as he began to limp, as the dark red blood began to course from Max's mouth, as the dust of death's much-traveled dirt road began to cloud his eyes.

He turned to Scott and

He smiled brightly, as if he had seen something so wonderful that not even his impending end could contain the strange joy that had seeped into his soul.

Scott could only look down, horrified with realization, at this smile. And it was then he knew what Max had really wanted that night.


There was still no struggle in Max as he went limp in Scott's arms, as the last of his blood and strength gave out. He still smiled, even though his muscles relaxed into a lifeless dormancy. Scott froze, his lip quivering.

"I had forgotten that smile, or had taken it differently, or perhaps had not even realized it had been there. I'm not sure…..but….."

And as Scott wept violently over his dead friend's body, returning to the moments that had been remembered, he had begun realized why. What kind of happiness could Max have seen in him, in the fact he would never live to marry, or to have children, or to grow old? Would he have lived that long afterwards? He closed his eyes again, wondering, knowing now he had not abandoned Max as he had fooled himself into thinking. Max had, in truth, told him to live, and to let him die. But why?

......Wait.............Max.... Then the meaning of the memories had hit him, as oblivious to it as he was. You said.....sonic wind.......!!

Scott took a deep breath. And just as suddenly, he was back. The coolness of the desert night hit him, and he was back where he had started.

He looked down at himself. There was nothing on him to commemorate what had just happened; no wounds, no Max...no blood. No blood, not even on his hands, as he looked.


He turned to face Mary. Her face was completely pale; pale, and confused. Scott knew she wouldn't understand. Not yet.

"….Why….." Mary looked guilty, her face turned down towards the floor. "….Why did you tell me this?"
"…….Because." Scott turned her face up towards him. "….My work……and, when I tell you, Mary, please, you must promise me…..never say a word……..my current work….is dedicated to solving a problem concerning wind resistance. It-"
"The sonic wind?"
"…Yes." A look of surprise came on Mary's face. "You know, Mary, you're….the only person I've told this to. Because…..somehow, I feel like…..I'm supposed to be here. Now, I understand that I have to be here, right now, working on this. Of course, most people would think of that as crazy talk, especially the fellas where I work." A cold wind began to blow; Scott took Mary into his arms. "That…..what Max said……I may never understand what he saw…..maybe he saw my future." Scott gave a huff, one of slight disgruntlement. "I must admit, I always felt myself to be the last to know anything; all the time, even here at my job in California, everyone seems to know something more than I do. Maybe that's why I blocked it out, why I could never face it, why I blamed myself for what happened…because I was disturbed by that realization. Yet, I guess I have little choice in that anymore. Everything's a surprise, but I'll just have to take it in stride, as best as I can."
"…I…." Mary paused. "I….thank you for your trust, Hedgehog."