It's Been Awhile

A/N: This is the sequel to "Save Me". Make sure you've read that first please. I do not own Batman Beyond or the lyrics to "It's Been Awhile". Rated for mild language in the lyrics.


Three weeks. That's how long it's been since he's seen her, talked to her. He's such a jerk.

And it's been awhile

Since I could hold my head up high

And it's been awhile since I first saw you

There wasn't much he couldn't have done to prevent what happened: Max hadn't been there to back him up and he had to make a decision. The underground splicing community wanted to boost their sales so they started testing with dinosaur DNA. To make a long story short, Terry had taken a 200 lb T-Rex tail straight to the chest. The impact alone, which had been into that of a brick wall, should have killed him but the suit did its best to protect him. All his ribs had been shattered, his left lung nearly shredded, and most of his internal organs were badly bruised. Three weeks. He should have called.

And it's been awhile since I could stand on my own two feet again

And it's been awhile since I could call you

The cave is as dark and damp as ever. He hears the occasional whisper of a bat's wings overhead yet his eyes do not snap to follow its shadow across the floor. He sits hunched over on the table he'd been lying on since the incident and thinks slowly, sluggishly, one thought pouring into the next. He thinks of past events; of the first time Max set foot in the Cave, of their continued argument over letting her become part of the "team", of the tears tracing the smooth lines of her cheeks when she told him what those Joker bastards did to her sister, of the crimson streaks that dried on her suit the night he tried to get her to quit, of the soft sounds she made when he traced his rough hands down her hips to her thighs…

Terry shakes his head slightly. He doesn't want to believe those things had happened—he wants to close his eyes for a second and he'd be a month back when there had been less danger, less pain, less worrying. The more and more he thinks about it, the more he wants to lay back on that table and forget everything that happened.

And everything I can't remember

As fucked up as it all may seem

The consequences that I've rendered

I've stretched myself beyond my means

Bruce had always told him not to blame himself for things that were not in his control, but Terry is no fool. He knows Wayne had felt the same disgust, the same shame, as he when he donned to cowl and watched his friends, his family, his loved ones suffer one by one. There is a guilt there that eats his insides like acid, spreading outward from his stomach until it feels like it has consumed his entire body. But he never tries to stop it; never blames the old man, or Max, or the city. Instead, he piles it all in a corner of his heart and lets it remind him night after night of why he continues to protect the city. It os worse than an addiction, this blame. It rules him, drives him down paths so dark that he knows only Bruce Wayne has walked them before. That's why the old man was the way he was.

It's been awhile

Since I can say that I wasn't addicted

And it's been awhile since I can say I love myself as well

But Max…well, she had a way of making him forget all of that, sometimes. Terry smiles. Yeah, she was the one thing that made the job just a bit easier, even with his hesitation at letting her fight by his side. It wasn't just the physical presence of her but her quick wits, vast intelligence, and overwhelming spirit in all her emotions. Max had a way of transferring her moods onto him whether he wanted them or not. There were nights where they got their asses handed to them and all she had to do was summon a single one-liner and he'd grin for the rest of the night: black eye, busted lip and all. And for all his overprotective behavior, he knows he can trust her with anything and everything. Which was why he was such a jerk for not calling her now.

And it's been awhile since I've gone and fucked things up just like I always do

And it's been awhile but all that shit seems to disappear when I'm with you

And everything I can't remember

As fucked up as it all may seem

The consequences that I've rendered

I've gone and fucked things up again

Terry sighs deeply and hops down from the table, wincing as his sides ache with dull pain, and wobbles his way over to the phone on the console of the computer. He pauses at bringing the receiver up to his ear, considering how she might react. Anger, of course, was one of Maxine Gibson's favorite emotions. He's been awake for a good four hours or so and every time one of them woke up from unconsciousness, the other was supposed to be notified immediately. Not to mention how things had gone before the accident; they'd been in a fight—a particularly nasty one—that ended in harsh words and a door slammed in her face. He can never exactly recall what their spats were about; he just knows that a day later, he would shuffle up to her door and ask for forgiveness. They are all each other has, after all.

Why must I feel this way?

Just make this go away

Just one more peaceful day

He dials her number by heart and gets the answering machine. He hangs up. No sense in leaving a message—he hadn't the slightest idea of what to say. But still, he knows things have to be different.

The trip to her apartment is painful and slow, but he makes it in well enough time. He'd called Wayne on the way and told him where he was going. The old man was less than thrilled, but he didn't voice any objection. That was rare, these days.

He knocks twice on her door, letting out a slow breath.

"Who is it?"

"It's me."

A pause. Terry holds his breath. Slowly, he hears the soft click of the locks sliding back and watches the door open to reveal Max standing there in her pajamas, mouth slightly agape with shock. Despite her expression, she looks as cute as ever in the lavender tank top and royal purple boy shorts. He spares her a small, tired smile.

"May I come in?"

She nods gently, stepping aside to let him in. His stride is steadier than earlier, but he's sure she can pick up on his slight limp. She helps him out of the jacket and hovers around his form worriedly, lifting the edge of his t-shirt to inspect his bindings. He catches her wrist gently and shakes his head to dissuade her.

"Sorry. Habit," Max mutters, perching on a stool in front of the kitchen counter.

"How are you feeling?"

Terry shrugs, winces, and reminds himself not to shrug again for another three months.

"Like somebody dropped a house on me. And then a meteor crashed into it. Before the atom bomb went off."

Max shakes her head, crossing her long legs and tucking her arms under her chest. "You always had a way with words, didn't you?"

He grins lightly. "It's a gift."

Slowly, their smiles fade and she realizes he came for a reason.

"So…" Her voice is suddenly soft and careful. "Why did you come?"

He takes a moment to choose his words, compiling all his thoughts until they start to make some kind of sense.

"I…realized that things need to be different."

"Which things?"

"All of them."

She nods, rubbing her bare arms uncomfortably. "How different?"

Terry shakes his head slightly, staring at the floor. He hates to look at her when he has bad news; her face is too gorgeous for sadness and disappointment. She can give him that one look and he'll promise her anything, even the impossible.

"Like with us. I…can't keep doing this to you. Fighting and making up and pushing you away and wanting you back…you deserve better than that. We both know it."

Max looks at him then, her face darkening into a frown. "You're making it sound like it's all your fault."

He begins to sigh. "Max…"

"No, Ter, we've been through this already. Everything that we've done is a decision we both made. Not just you. I'm not a poor, innocent victim of your 'brutality'. I have just as much control over my life as you have over yours."


"Look at me, dammit!" She grabs a handful of his shirt and pulls him close, sliding her fingers to the side of his face to make him look at her. She sees him pull the shields up over his eyes and is not fooled by them—she's had her own for so long that she can recognize his. She knows that he blames the fault of the world on himself because she does it too sometimes. That was the curse of the job, of devoting oneself to an impossible mission.

"I have never regretted anything since this started. And deep down, neither do you. I know you want to save me and everyone else you protect, but you can't because you won't even save yourself. So do me a favor and stop blaming yourself or you'll get us both killed."

From this close, he feels like their sharing more than body contact. Beneath all the beauty and sarcasm and fierceness, he knows she understands him. That is what scares him more than anything else; the thought of giving in to woman like her who can read him in an instant. How could he be cruel enough to love her if his life hangs by a thread every night?

He opens his mouth one last time and she lays a finger on his lips, leaning her forehead against his. His arms automatically slide around her waist and her legs around his, holding him close.

"Shut up. Just shut up, Ter."

When they kiss, he feels the warmth of her tears against his skin. He knows she's right. There is no going back from here. And the only way to defeat the guilt inside him is to love her even though everything inside him is afraid to lose her.

And it's been awhile

Since I could look at myself straight

And it's been awhile since I said I'm sorry

And it's been awhile since I've seen the way the candles light your face

And it's been awhile but I can still remember just the way you taste

Her skin is just as soft and flawless as the last time he touched her. The bed is just as warm and inviting as the last time he laid her down, paused to watch the moonlight gleam across her gorgeous curves, let his fingers glide up along her long legs. But this time, he takes his time, patiently spreading kisses over his favorite part of her body: her stomach. He loves the way she giggles when he does it, the way her slender fingers smooth through his hair. For once, he forgets about the city and the crime and his own internal battles and focuses on the one thing he forgot to fight for: love.

And it's been awhile

Since I could hold my head up high

And it's been awhile since I said I'm sorry.



A/N: Definitely not my best work, but the idea came to me last night while I was listening to the song. Please give me feedback: I need to know if it's too serious or too boring. Let me know please, wonderful readers.