My Fairytale
by pari106
pari106@hotmail.com
http://www.pari106.homestead.com/damain.html

Summary: post-"Hit a Sista Back". Max finds out a little about what happened after Manticore got Tinga
and she reflects.

A/N: This isn't necessarily companionate to "In the Happy Now", though it's written in a pretty similar
tone. What can I say? I've been feeling pretty angsty lately. And "Hit a Sista Back" was such an
emotional episode – it really inspired me. Thanks to all you who gave such kind feedback on my other stories. I really appreciate it!





My Fairytale
by pari106

Seattle.

Such a big city. But up here, from the top of the space needle, it seems so small. The world seems so
small. And all the shit going down, down there, back at Manticore, up here in my head…all of it seems a
little smaller, too. Usually.

Usually I come up here and stare down at Seattle, and all the crazy thoughts and ugly emotions churning
around in me calm down for just a little while. Usually, when I come up here, the ghosts don't follow. I
can get away. Away from Eva and from losing Brin to Manticore and from Ben…especially from Ben.
But tonight those old ghosts are riding my tail…and they've got a new friend to join them. Her name was
Tinga.

As I sit here, I try so hard not to cry. Zack would say crying is a weakness. Maybe. He'd say its pointless
since Tinga brought this bitch on herself…and crying about it just does the same for us. But I'll be damned
if I'll believe that. Still, I try not to cry. I didn't come up here to cry. I came to tell a story. A fairy tale.
If only just to tell it to myself.

"Once upon a time…"

Once upon a time, there was a princess who lived in a big castle with her brothers and sisters. They lived
with an evil king who was mean to them, so they ran away. And the princess met her handsome prince
charming…

So went the fairy tale Tinga had told her son, Case. The day before they'd taken her away.

…but one day the evil king found the princess. And to save her prince, and her little prince, the princess
had to go back to the castle.

I listened to Tinga tell Case that story. A fairy tale is what she'd called it. But I didn't see that it was much
of a fairy tale. Fairy tales have happy endings, don't they? I sat there, listening to Tinga talk, and all I
could think was 'how the hell is she gonna give this shit a happy ending?' How the hell was Zack and I
gonna give *her* a happy ending? We already lost Brin. And now we lost Tinga. And she knew it was
going to happen.

"There's no happy ending for us, Max," Tinga had said, that last night we talked. No happy ending. But
Tinga had been happy…for a while. The story might have ended badly, but it was well worth the read. I
tell myself that now, as if it makes things better. As if it makes it okay. I even made up my own ending to
Tinga's fairy tale.

"There was no happy ever after. Only the happy now that had been hers for a little while. And no matter
what happened to the princess, nothing could ever take that away from her."

I repeat that to myself now, now that one of Logan's informants told us what they'd found out about the
night Tinga was taken. Told us she reportedly got away…and I repeat it to myself, especially that last line,
over and over, knowing that Tinga didn't escape. She couldn't have wrestled four soldiers and an X5, Brin,
jumped out of a moving vehicle and been okay. And even if she had, she'd have contacted us by now.

No, Tinga won't get her happy ever after. And, yeah, she had her happy now, but sometimes I wonder if
that'' enough. Is what I have now, with Logan, whatever it is, would that be enough if my story suddenly
ended? The way Tinga's did. Would it be enough? Was it enough for Tinga? Enough for her family?

We didn't tell Charlie or Case. Logan didn't think we should – not until we're sure. That's just like him;
he doesn't want to give up total hope, for my sake and for Charlie's and Case's. Even Zack is still holding
on. Like so many other things, Tinga was right – he won't give up until the proof is right in front of him.
Tinga even told me so.

"There's no happy ending for us, Max," she'd said. "We both know what happens to X5s that go back to
Manticore. Either they end up like Brin, or…"

"Tinga…"

"You know it, Max." Her eyes were more sad then than I'd ever seen them, and I suddenly felt a lot
younger than I am, and a lot older than I should. "I know it, and you know it…" She was trying not to cry.
I was nearly bawling my eyes out. "…Zack knows it, even if he won't admit it. He talks tough now…but
he won't admit it. He'll hold on to me, like he does to all of us, till there's nothing left to hold on to. But
deep down he knows…that's why he's so angry. Why he's so hard. Because he's always known." Her
words made sense then, and they do now. They made me hurt for my brother that night, the one I'd been so
angry at just a short while before; and they still make me hurt for him now.

And even though I can feel the truth, in my heart, I don't tell him he's crazy for continuing the search.
He's out there, looking, and I'm just sitting here, looking down at Seattle. And it's all because of what
Tinga told me. And what she'd told me after that.

"We know it, Max," she'd said. "But they don't; Charlie and Case, they don't know. And Zack, he doesn't
want to know. So they won't…" She looked at me then and her eyes were pleading. "Promise me, they
won't. I don't want Charlie or Case to have any false hopes, but I don't want them to…to think…to know
that I might…" She couldn't even voice her fears about the worst of the things that could happen to her at
Manticore. Things worse than death. And I wouldn't have been able to listen if she had.

"Fairytales have a purpose," she'd said.

And she was right. Fairytales have a purpose. That purpose is keeping Charlie and Zack sane; it's helping
Case sleep at night. It's helping me to try and see things Zack's way, or Logan's way. It's helping me
imagine that maybe Tinga really is ok somehow.

That's my fairytale. But somehow I don't believe it. Ben and Tinga were both better at telling stories than I was.

I wish they were still here to tell me another one.

I wish Tinga could tell me everything will be alright.

I wish I could believe her if she did.