Post Season 2, Zack and Max finally meet again. OneShot, MZ.
author's ramblings/why I wrote this: Two very unsettling matters that I noticed at the end of Dark Angel. I was waiting for the next Zack episode, wondering what happened to him, if he'd be able to remember his old life, and how he would connect again with all the other transgenics, and especially Max. Also, that Lydecker was never shown again. I still believe he was alive, but anyway, that's for a different fic.
summary: This fic is pure MZ, if that bothers you, I guess don't read it.
Only 2 chapters, chapter 1 is to explain the background, current situation, and also some of my take on what Max is thinking right now. Chapter 2 deals with Zack's thoughts and what actually happens at their first meeting in over 2 years.
current situation: It's been 2 years since the start of TC. Max and Logan are done. Max finally meets up with Zack, for the first time since sending him off to a farm after he attempted to kill Logan.
Her large brown eyes were wide with anticipation. Though she hadn't realized before, she'd been waiting for this moment for the past 2 years.
Her eyes met his own blue-gray ones. His were tired and worn, much like his Southern outfit.
It wasn't like Zack to not plan ahead. His clothes would surely draw suspicion. Of course, ever since the pulse, this type of attire was more fitting than Max wanted to admit. Especially given their location. Terminal City was not as prosperous as she wished. Not that they weren't making progress. 2 years ago Max wasn't certain if there would ever be a day like this, where the world wasn't against her, where she could simply live and not worry about exposure or, say, killing the one you love by accidentally touching him.
Max smiled, thinking of older times. The virus had been her focus for so long. But that really wasn't the reason why she and Logan would never work. As similar as she had at one time wanted to think they were, she knew the truth. They just weren't meant for each other. They would always carry a deep love for each other, but they would never share more intimacy than friendship and business associates.
She was staring not at the older brother who had led her through so many hard times. She wasn't looking at the man who turned himself in so that she could stay in Seattle; who had cried with her as their sister Brin was taken from them; who had killed for her so that she wouldn't have to, because he knew she wasn't strong enough, because he'd wanted to save her innocence. This wasn't the one who had fought beside her, against his own wishes, just to make her happy and back up her own risky plans; the one who allowed her to expose him to the man they'd been running from just to go with her planning. Max felt her heart skip a beat as the next memory flashed before her eyes. This wasn't the man who had died for her.
Max didn't know the extent of what he had done for her, what he had gone through. But she could guess. Manticore would have tortured him, injected him, probed him, erased his memory, rewritten his past, retrained him to be theirs.
Zack was a fighter. He had probably resisted. Which only meant more pain.
He had always said he'd rather die than go back. He had always avoided connections with people, knowing they tie you down and make you weak. Yet, in the end, he'd chosen those paths, for her. He went through what he had not wanted to most in this world, because he must have realized there was something there that meant more to him than everything else. Something had caused him to go through his worst fears, to sacrifice his own life to benefit something new. Something he must have decided was worth more, something that was everything.
It was Max.
She realized now, finally being mature enough, responsible enough, to accept it. She had known before. But she was too innocent to realize it. To accept this when she knew she'd done nothing to deserve it was a difficult task.
Her heart was beating fast, a strong and steady beat. It was his. Her heart was his.
She wasn't looking at the young X-5 who'd given her freedom, love, and life at the expense of his own. She was looking at a different person, finally ready to let go of their traumatizing past.
He had never appeared afraid. He had always been able to stand at attention, bearing the perfect stance of a fearless soldier. But there were moments where he had allowed her to see without intending. She knew that even though he was free, he was still running.
This man wasn't running. He seemed to have learned from his mistakes, and from his successes. She knew he didn't regret any of his decisions. In her heart, she knew, he would do it again.
She thought painfully how she had sent him away after he'd escaped. He clearly had regained all of his memories at this point, otherwise he wouldn't have made it here. She thought of her actions with regret. At the time, she now realized, thoughts of Logan had clouded her judgment, just as Zack had always warned her about.
She had sent him away, denied him fooling herself into thinking it was better that way for him, that he would be safer. She had told herself she was making a sacrifice for him, giving him the normal life he'd always wanted.
She realized that 2 years had made her wiser. Looking back on their last meeting, she felt guilt and shame at her naïve considerations. Had she not known him at all back then?
She knew the answer.
She did know, within her, but she wasn't ready to face it at the time. She knew Zack never wanted a normal life, sent away from everything he'd ever known, cared, and fought for. Hell, he'd done more than that, he had died for it. Yet she sent him packing, acting self-righteous at the time, as if she was the one suffering by parting with someone she relied on for comfort.
Zack's confused face stopped along with his heart at the face. Her brown eyes met his with recognition, or so he thought, as he sat, apparently recovering in the hospital. "Do I know you?"
Her eyes quickly changed to something colder, unfamiliar, as she avoided his gaze. "No. I don't think so."
Max scolded herself, she had allowed herself to believe that she thought of him every day, and that it was the hardest decision she'd had to make. She knew even at the time of those thoughts, they were lies meant only to keep her safe from the guilt that she was facing right now. If she really had thought of him every day, it wouldn't have taken 2 years for this meeting to happen. If she really was acting for him, she wouldn't have just sent him away like any other random Eyes Only informant. This was someone who had given his life for her, and she'd looked him in the eye and denied claim to him.
She knew that because of her, he'd bared the brunt of much pain. But she herself had inflicted more hurt on him than she wanted to admit. But she had to. She was different now, and ready to accept the truth of her actions, and of her true feelings for the man in front of her.
She realized, looking at him, they shared more than their past. They shared everything, their freedom, their lives, and their love.
She stroked his blond hair out of his face affectionately, wanting to see all of the man he'd become, her first true contact with him, breaking the ice built up over their time apart, and even the times they were together when she'd been too afraid to really see him and his actions.
She smiled softly, finally able to realize it, though not to speak it. She did love him.
He grabbed her hand gently, guided it into his own, and held it lovingly, still staring at her, not blinking, taking in everything, taking in Max.
They didn't need to speak to understand each other. But she did anyway, she wanted to hear his voice. She hadn't in so long. He had stories to tell, that she was ready to hear.
authors quick note: I didn't make up the claims here, she said in Some Assembly Required that she felt letting him go was the hardest decision she had made, and she also said that Zack was living the normal life he'd always wanted.
For the record, in my mind, killing Ben was Max's hardest decision to make.