Rating: PG-13 for language.

Characters: Maxxie and Tony.

Spoilers: 2x01, it continues on from the end of the episode; call it my own personal Unseen Skins if you will.

Prompt: 021. Friends.

Disclaimer: I don't own the show, it belongs to those lovely people at e4, although I do have Mitch Hewer chained up in my wardrobe right now, but you didn't hear that from me…

Summary: They were at complete opposite ends of the spectrum, but for some reason, they needed each other these days.

The Constant

Covering his hand with mine, I cast a stray glance in his direction, my mouth curling up into the beginnings of another smile. Encouragement, that's what he needs, someone to be there beside him every step of the way, telling him that it's OK if things go wrong and nothing is expected of him, not now, not ever.

I don't know why I'm the only one who has the patience to deal with him, but Tony's my friend and no matter how much of a twat he's been in the past, I don't have it in me to simply abandon him in his hour of need. Deep down inside, he's still the same person, only now he's fragmented, broken and he needs to be pieced back together, however long that may take. Occasionally he'll make a comment, so like the old him, that I have to double-check he's not playing with me. He's not, he never is, I receive that oh so familiar blank stare, the one that breaks my heart all over again and I have to remember that he's changed.

Tony doesn't want sympathy or pity; he doesn't want to be treated like an invalid or like he's incapable of looking after himself. He's not a child. Quite simply, he wants someone to cling onto when things get tough, someone to be there if and when he needs them.

Somewhere along the way, I became that person, I don't know how or even why, but I did and I wouldn't dare change it. Looking back, I'm the least likely candidate, especially after everything that happened between us before the accident. Russia, Michelle, me running my mouth off in psychology and making us both look like complete fucking idiots. But for some reason, he finds my company the least frustrating.

I let my hand linger on his for a moment longer before stepping away from him and over to the wardrobe instead, idly looking through my clothes and picking out something to wear for the dreaded first day of college. It's some ridiculous time in the morning, the dawn chorus are making themselves known on the rooftops of the neighbouring buildings but I have on intention of trying to get any sleep.

Leaving Tony in my bedroom, I retreat to the bathroom to throw some clothes on and brush my teeth.

By the time I return, I find him in the same position, now writing his name over and over again, the letters forming more forcefully with each try, his features contorted with concentration. Smiling knowingly, I move to stand behind him, laying my hands on his shoulders reassuringly and he instantly relaxes beneath my touch.

'What did I say?' I murmur on a breath, my thumbs gradually working the kinks from his neck with adept preciseness.

Tony nods, his hold on the pen loosening off a little as he emits a soft sigh. Finally letting the pen slip from his fingers altogether, it hits the desktop with a dull thud and he leans is head back slightly, eyes fluttering closed.

If I had been someone else, someone like the old Tony, I would have been asking favours for all I'd done to help him. Say thank you and get on your knees. But I'm not and I do it all because I care.

Not two weeks ago, Tony had spent the afternoon at the flat with me, the parents had been out, so we'd happily sat side by side on my bed, Taz asleep at our feet. He'd wrapped his arms around himself and talked slowly, stammering through his words, pausing every now and then, simply to remember what he'd planned to say. I gave him patience in return, fixing him with an intent stare, my hand finding his when he needed it.

He feels alone. He feels abandoned. He doesn't know who he can rely on anymore. He finds that in me though, dependence, something he's told me several times.

'Dad's taking you home in an hour,' I say softly, my hands sliding down to grip Tony's arms instead, my gaze downcast, moving gradually toward the drawing pad sat on my desk and the fruits of his labour. 'Want some breakfast?'

His reply is a shake of his head and I nod, letting him go and perching on the edge of my bed instead, the soles of my bare feet brushing against the striped mat adorning the floor below. There's silence for a minute or so, and then he moves to face me, his eyebrows knitted together in confusion.

Tony blinks several times, obviously gathering his thoughts before making them known. 'They don't fucking care anymore,' he spits. 'Sid's… He's fucking useless.'

I laugh, I can't help it, I've heard him use that term of phrase before. 'They still care Tone, they care an awful lot. It's hard for them, that's all,' is my gentle reply, words coming slowly, hoping that he can at least recognize their point of view, even for a moment.

It's tempting to agree though, they are useless. If Anwar or Chris ever did the same to me, if they treated me in the same way; I wouldn't be able to understand it either. He's frustrated, a sentiment I echo because I know I would be too if I were in his shoes.

'No,' he chokes on the word, the syllable catching in his throat. 'If they fucking cared, they wouldn't fucking do this to me, they'd still fucking be here!'

I'm glad he's dropped the pen because if he'd still been holding it, there's no doubt it would have come flying across the room in that instant.

Biting on my lip, I leave the bed, slipping down onto the floor and kneeling in front of him instead, hands laid lightly on his knees. 'Give it time, all right,' I say, keeping my tone level.

Tony looks down at my hands and sighs, aggravated, but he doesn't push me away.

We stay that way for ten minutes or so, neither of us saying anything or even feeling the need to. Eventually there's a knock at the door and my mum peers into the room, two mugs of freshly made tea in her hands. I offer a thankful smile as she places them down on the desk and then she leaves without a word, merely looking back at us for a second before closing the door once more.

'College today then, Tone?' I ask him, reaching over for a mug and handing it to him so he doesn't have to bother moving. 'Think we can talk them into letting you go?'

Tony considers this for a moment, awkwardly wrapping his hands around the warm pottery and then smiles at me. 'If you promise to look after me,' he says, a smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth.

The Tony we love to hate, it's just a matter of time.