Disclaimer- Max Steel does not belong to me, it is the property of Mattel, Sony, and Foundation Imaging

Disclaimer- Max Steel does not belong to me, it is the property of Mattel, Sony, and Foundation Imaging. This short is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for language. Yes, I am aware that Easter has just passed. But it SNOWED today here in Morgantown, (muttered grumbles,) and this bit me. I also have been doing various experiments in literary styles recently, and this is another. Let me know how it works out, okay?

Lifeline

            "MAX!"

            "Oww.... You don't have to shout, Rache. I can hear you just fine."

            "You weren't responding, Mr. Steel. Not that I expect you to, after being caught in that avalanche... how are you?"

            "You tell me. You're the one with the readouts, remember?"

            "Oh, yes. This takes a bit of getting used to. Now, let's see. According to this, you have some minor internal injuries, but the probes are already taking care of them. And... Max, your ankle..."

            "Now that one, I felt. How bad is it?"

            "A bad sprain. Looks like some cartilage is torn. Your probes should have already taken care of it--"

            "Except that they're already working overtime on the internal injuries, not to mention keeping me from freezing to death. Hell of a way to spend Christmas Eve."

            "Any sign of the Mercury Brigade member you were chasing?"

            "Lemme flip on my light and check."

            "... Oh dear. I'd say he's dead."

            "Real dead. Can I turn off the light now?"

            "Yes, please."

            "Thanks."

            "Rachel?"

            "Hmm?"

            "Does it ever get any easier?"

            "Seeing things like that? I'll be honest with you, Max... No. No, it doesn't."

            "Good. If I ever stop being bothered by things like that, I'll be turning into Smiley."

            "Never happen."

            "Nice to know you have so much faith in me."

            "I always have, Max."

            "Mmm. So, what's a nice girl like you doing on a link like this?"

            "Mr. Steel, that is the corniest line I have ever heard you deliver. And that's going quite a distance, believe me."

            "I'm hurt, Rachel. And you're evading the question."

            "Shouldn't you be conserving oxygen?"

            "Nope. I can feel a breeze on my face, so there's an opening SOMEWHERE. I'm just not in any shape to go looking for it."

            "You should stay in one place anyway. I dispatched a team after you as soon as the avalanche occurred. They'll find you more easily that way."

            "Rachel. I'm stuck in a crevasse in the Cascades, buried under a ton of snow with a sprained ankle and a corpse. Stop dancing around and give me something else to think about."

            *Sigh.* "Max, you already know the answer to that. Berto and Cat had already left on his flight for Colombia when the assassination threat came in. They needed you, you needed a monitor. I volunteered."

            "That's what I mean, Rache. Why you? Not generally part of the duties for Director of Operations."

            "Well, I do have some experience dealing with you and your abilities. I assume you would prefer someone who had an idea what they were doing."

            "But why weren't you already on a plane home for the holidays?"

            "That wasn't an option this year."

            "Too much paperwork?"

            "Something like that... To tell you the truth, Max, no. I just... I can't face the holidays with my parents. I can't face my parents, period. They drive me insane."

            "What's the problem?"

            "They think my job at a sports equipment company-- heck, my entire time in America-- is 'just a phase' I'm going through. Every time I talk to them, they try and convince me to come home and marry one of those 'nice young men' they have picked out for me. I'm just not up to it this year."

            "I'm sorry."

            "Don't be. I'm used to it. So, what were your plans for Christmas this year?"

            "Same as every year. Head up to Dad's family's big Chistmas celebration at Gram and Grampa's house in the mountains. Eat myself into a coma, get pounced on by rugrats, that sort of thing. Dad already left... I told him I'd take the Hawk up when I was done here. Guess I'm gonna be a little late, huh?"

            "We've already called him, Max. It took a lot of convincing to get him to stay put until we got you out."

            "Mmm. Rachel, how're my levels?"

            "What?"

            "My T-juice levels. How are they?"

            "Um... why do you ask?"

            "Because I'm COLD, Rache. I'm not supposed to be cold..."

            "Your levels are lower than normal, Max. Nothing life-threatening yet, but I'd guess the probes have dropped climate control from the list of necessary abilities."

            "I can just hear Dad now... 'Maybe this will teach you to wear a coat when you go out.'"

            "Max, stay awake. You can't go to sleep."

            "Believe it or not, Rachel, I'm well aware of that. I passed survival training, just like you did. Where's that rescue team, anyway?"

            "They've followed your signal, Max, but it's a very big snowfield, and those tracers are only so accurate. They have to sweep by hand. Don't worry, it won't be much longer."

            "Sure. So, what are you wearing?"

            "MAX!"

            *chuckle* "Hey, gotta keep warm somehow. One of your business suits, I'm sure, but which one? That pinky-purple one, right?"

            "The color, Mr. Steel, is called 'mauve,' and actually, no. I'm wearing the navy blue one."

            "Rats. The other one's got a shorter skirt. What color's the blouse?"

            "Gray. Dark gray. Completely opaque."

            "Ha ha, Rache."

            "Oh, and by the way, Mr. Steel... my underwear is green. Hunter green."

            "..."

            "Just trying to keep you awake."

            "Damn."

            "So... tell me more about your Christmas plans. You do this every year?"

            "For as long as I can remember. Every Christmas, Dad and I'd pack up the car and go to Gram and Grampa's for three or four days. There's this huge feast... more food than you've ever seen in your life, Rache. Traditional stuff like turkey and mashed potatoes, and some family favorites like Aunt Sandra's chili con carne. The deserts are heavenly..."

            "Oh lord, stop it. I don't think Berto would appreciate me drooling on his console."

            "You know... why don't you come up with us, Rachel? If you don't already have plans, I mean."

            "Oh, no, I wouldn't want to impose."

            "Rachel, you wouldn't... wouldn't be imposing. The house is huge, and Gram always has extra futons and sleeping bags for unexpected guests. Dad brought Jim home the first year they met, and she never even blinked an eye."

            "She must be an interesting woman."

            "Ninety-four years old and still into everything. She's got a cane, but she uses it more for whapping errant relatives than to actually walk. You'd love her, Rache. If they'd had N-Tek when she was young, she'd probably have been running it inside of a week."

            "So that's where Smith gets it."

            "Yep. Genetic..."

            "Max, stay awake, I'm losing you. Damn it, where is that team?"

            "'M here. What were we talking about?"

            "The Smith family Christmas gathering."

            "Oh yeah. Say you'll-- *yawn* come up? Come on, Rachel, they'll instantly adopt you. My aunts'll feed you into oblivion, my cousins will flirt, and Gram will probably haul out the naked baby pictures. Blackmail material."

            "I'll think about it, all right?"

            "Can't ask 'nymore than that... hey, Rachel? 'm not cold 'nymore..."

            "Max! Max Steel, you answer me right now. JOSH!"

            "Rachel!"

            "Jake?"

            "We've found the kid. He looks like a Popsicle, but he's breathing. We're loading him onto the plane now. Heading back to base, ETA twenty minutes."

            "Thank God. I'll call Smith... he'll want to be here."

            "Acknowledged. And Rachel? It's after midnight... Merry Christmas."

            "Yes... it is, isn't it? Merry Christmas, Jake."