Save Me

A/N: I do not own Batman Beyond or the lyrics to "How to Save a Life" by The Fray.

"I'm asking for real now."

"My answer is still the same."

She frowns deeply at him and it makes lines form in her usually smooth forehead. Her whole body changes, radiates the anger, the attitude that was her personality. Hips thrust out to the side, slim but muscular arms crossed under her breasts, posture tight and upright. She had snuck into the Cave, against his orders, against their orders, just to prove him—them—wrong like she'd done so many times before. She was rebellious, strong-willed, bullheaded, and intelligent. He just couldn't take that chance.

Step one, you say "we need to talk"

He walks, you say "Sit down; it's just a talk"

He smiles politely back at you

You stare politely right on through

"Why?"

"I've told you a million times why, Max. You aren't ready for this."

She lifts an accusatory eyebrow. "You're getting twenty-plus stitches in your arm and I'm the one who isn't ready?"

Terry winces as old man Wayne's needle goes into his skin again. She had a point.

"That's not the point—"

"Then what is?" She shouts at him, finally losing that infamous temper. The fierceness in her eyes is not something that can be quelled by calmly explaining it to her. Hell, he wasn't even sure if he could even explain it if he tried. So he hardens his eyes, his face, into something cold and business-like.

Some sort of window to your right

As she goes left and you stay right

"I don't want this life for you or anyone else, Max. It's not a thrill ride or some heroic adventure. It's life or death. I'm the one who chose this. I don't want to see you get hurt."

"Oh, blow it out your ass, McGinnis. This isn't the Boy Scouts or the Army. You just don't trust me."

She turns on her heel and stalks out of the Cave, not bothering to say anything else as he calls after her. Wayne says nothing. He knows the score. Terry just sighs.

Between the lines of fear and blame

And you begin to wonder why you came

At night, he lays on his back to avoid pressing into the stitches and stares up at the ceiling, his mind churning slowly, sluggishly. Why couldn't he just give her a chance? Even against Bruce's will, she'd make a good partner. She had so far against the Jokerz, against Spellbinder, against Curare, against Kobra. Would it really hurt to just let her in?

Terry closes his eyes and sees what he always sees in his nightmares; Max's body trembling beneath his, red everywhere, a hole in her heart, her bloodstained hand reaching up to touch his face, warm wetness all over his hands and arms, her lovely face twisted in pain. Dead.

He shakes his head. No. He couldn't do it.

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend

Somewhere along in the bitterness

And I would have stayed up with you all night

Had I known how to save a life

His eyes are wide and his breathing is irregular as he stares at the writhing, groaning bodies around him. He'd watched her do it from afar, unaware of what she was capable of. Her smile, vindictive and condescending, is bright in the darkness of the alleyway.

"Told you so."

Let him know that you know best

'Cause after all you do know best

He ignores the fact that the suit fits all too well in certain places and grabs her by the arm, dragging her behind him as anger builds in his chest. She struggles, demanding what the hell he was doing, and he pushes her up against the scummy wall out of the Jokerz' earshot.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Max snatches her arm away. "Proving you wrong. You saw me. I got every one of them without breaking a sweat. What do you have to say to that?"

He can barely speak past his anger. "Do you think this is a game? What if one of them had been better than you? What then?" he hisses. She smirks slightly.

"You would have come in and saved me, right?"

Try to slip past his defense

Without granting innocence

Lay down a list of what is wrong

The things you've told him all along

For a second, he can't say anything to that because she's right. He just moves away from her and narrows his blank, white eyes.

"Give the suit back. This is your last warning."

He blasts off, getting swooped up by the batmobile as it passes overhead. She stares after its retreating shape in the night, eyes softer, hurt swelling inside her body hot enough to make tears arise.

And pray to God he hears you

And pray to God he hears you

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend

Somewhere along in the bitterness

And I would have stayed up with you all night

Had I known how to save a life

The blood is bright red against the blackness of the suit as it drips down onto her thigh. She presses gauze to it and hisses, amazed at how quickly the blood leaves the long, jagged cut in her side. Terry comes barreling in her room and throws the First-Aid kit on the bed, ripping off the cowl in fury.

"When are you gonna get some sense and listen to me for once?!"

She feels a bit lightheaded but pushes past the feeling and glares right back at him.

"Because you're not my father or my keeper. I have every right to protecting this city as you do. I don't need your help—I was doing fine on my own!"

As he begins to raise his voice

You lower yours and grant him one last choice

Pain shoots from the wound and makes her grunt softly. She wasn't stopping the blood fast enough. Terry comes close, grabbing her wrists.

"Here, you're doing it wrong," he mutters, pressing a firm, gloved hand to the wound. It hurts worse but she sucks it up. She knew this was part of the job anyway.

"I'm not letting you do this any more. I don't care if you hate me for the rest of your life, you are not putting this costume on ever again." Max pushes him away and stands, ignoring the blood and the pain.

"Terry, they raped my sister! What was I supposed to do? Sit around and let this city fall apart even worse? This isn't about cheap thrills any more! Ridding this city of the scum that live here is all that I have left!" Tears begin to slip from her eyes and he can see the raw pain in them. Her shoulders shake slightly, but not from blood loss or shock. He hates what he and this city have done to her.

Drive until you lose the road

Or break with the ones you've followed

Terry sits her down and wraps her wound with bandages, silent because he has nothing to say. He can't tell her not to care. He understands what she's going through. He feels it every time he dons the mask. It hides the shame, the anger, the hatred, the agony that he felt about his father's murder. There is no way he can tell her not to do this any more. It was already too late. For a long moment, he looks into her dark brown eyes and fights to find something to say.

He will do one of two things

He will admit to everything

Or he'll say he's just not the same

And you'll begin to wonder why you came

Nothing comes to mind so he goes and does a stupid thing. He kisses her. She stays frozen against his lips, his chest, but slowly slides her fingers through his slick, sweaty hair, opening her mouth to his. He moves close and lays her down on the bed, his hands fumbling with the clasp on the back the lower half of her suit, drowning in her and their pain and their lust and their stupidity. She makes a sound as his bare chest touches the bandaged part of her stomach but doesn't tell him to stop because she doesn't want him to. He bares her skin to the air and heat envelopes them both, turning them both into simple beings with simple needs. She doesn't cry when he reopens the wound. They're both already bleeding.

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend

Somewhere along in the bitterness

And I would have stayed up with you all night

Had I known how to save a life

She's mad at him, mad at Wayne, mad at her mother, mad at the city, mad at everything. It seemed like months ago, none of this would have happened. She would have been valedictorian at Hill High with scholarships to anywhere she wanted to go. Now she was bruised, broken, tired, and mad at herself for becoming this way. She stays up too late fighting, she sleeps in class, she has no friends left, her family has shunned her and now all she has left is a mask, Terry, and old man Wayne. So she buries herself in her "job", does what the old man tells her to, opens the door for Terry when he knocks, buys the condoms once a week, and remembers what he'd told her at the beginning. It would ruin her life. Her smiles are only bitter now. What life?

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend

Somewhere along in the bitterness

And I would have stayed up with you all night

Had I known how to save a life

How to save a life

How to save a life

How to save a life

She can't believe she almost left him, left the city. The tears burn and burn and burn on her face as she stares down at him on the table, breathing through a ventilator, his skin ghostly pale against the brown of her hand as she cradles his face. Wayne squeezes her shoulder gently and tells her he'll be alright in a few days. She nods and promises herself she will never leave again. Not even if this city kills her. She would never wait for him to save her again. Never again.

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend

Somewhere along in the bitterness

And I would have stayed up with you all night

Had I known how to save a life

How to save a life

How to save a life

How to save a life.

END

A/N: I worked hard on this so I'd love it if you guys would let me know what you think. :D

Kyoko