Pale Morning Sky

Maxie stood outside of her father's hospital room, looking through the window watching him sleep. He was so still, and she concentrated on watching the rise and fall of his chest. There was something calming about the constant movement that settled something inside of her. She felt so drained, emotionally and physically but she couldn't go home and sleep, not while Mac was there because of her, not while he might die because of her actions. She looked down at her watch and saw that it was nearly six thirty in the morning and she smothered a yawn. She didn't know how long she'd been standing there but it felt like days. She'd sent Georgie home a few hours ago, against her sister's wishes of course. Maxie said another thank you to God that her sister had gotten out of the burning Port Charles Hotel safely. She had been so close to losing two of the people that she loved most and she couldn't even imagine life without either one of them, but she'd come so close. She wondered if Zander had been able to escape safely. She'd just heard that it had been Scott Baldwin's body that they'd found in the basement. She felt responsible for his death even though she knew that it didn't help anyone, least of all herself. But if she hadn't hid Zander down there then the DA wouldn't have been there when the fire had broken out, Mac wouldn't have been there, Serena Baldwin wouldn't be fatherless. Maxie forced down tears, she'd deprived a little girl of her father, she might have deprived herself of one as well.

She ran her fingers through her hair, wishing her mother were there to comfort her, wishing there was someone, anyone, that would make this horrible pain go away because it was unbearable. She wished that she could turn back the clock and make everything okay, but she couldn't so she'd have to live with the consequences of the decisions that she'd made. She wasn't sure that she could do that if Mac didn't make it. Maxie jumped, her heart beating a mile a minute, as she felt a hand on her shoulder and turned around to see Lucky Spencer. He looked as tired as she felt, standing there, his clothes covered in black soot, exhaustion written all over his face. She gave him a hesitant smile, wondering why he had stopped to talk to her.

"Is there any change in his condition?" he asked looking at Mac through the glass window, his hands still on her shoulder. He pulled her close and she allowed herself to rest in the crook of his arm, snuggled against his side. The smell of smoke burned her nose but she didn't want to pull away, at least not yet.

"No, he's still unconscious, the doctors... they... they said they don't know if he's going to make it." She heard the quiver in her voice and she hoped that he hadn't. She was trying so hard to be brave but the reality of it was sinking in. She might never come home to Mac asking about her day or telling her to do her homework or sitting on the couch making fun of the teen shows she liked to watch on TV. As much as he claimed to hate them he still watched them with her. The sound of Lucky's voice interrupted her thoughts and brought her back to reality.

"You should go home and rest for a little while. Let me drive you." He gently began to turn her away from the window but she stopped him and pulled away. She wasn't going to leave Mac alone. He had always looked out for her and she wasn't going to leave him when he needed looking after.

"No, I can't leave him, if he wakes up he's going to want to see me and if... if something happens I need to be here for him." She decided to try and change the subject hoping that he would understand and that he would just drop it and let her be. She just wanted to make sure that someone was there for him. "How are your dad and Nikolas?"

"Luke is fine, he inhaled a lot of smoke but he's going to be okay. Nikolas... Nikolas never made it out of the building, they don't think he made it." Maxie hadn't noticed until now the look on his face. She had been so absorbed with her thoughts that she hadn't seen the grief that was written all over his face. She saw it now.

Lucky turned away from her and Maxie felt tears form in her eyes, why did such terrible things have to happen, why did people have to die? She wanted to say something but she didn't know what to say. What did you say in a time like this? How could a few words make it better? "I'm sorry," she mumbled knowing that the words fell very short of helping or making him feel better in any way. She rested her hand against his shoulder hoping the small gesture conveyed more than words could.

He was silent for a very long time and she began to wonder if maybe he couldn't think of anything to say either. They both were in danger of losing love ones. Lucky's pain was more real than hers. He didn't have the luxury of being there for Nikolas, being able to watch over him and make sure that he was okay. She realized how lucky she was the Mac had gotten out alive. That he was here in the hospital where people were taking care of him and trying to make him better. Lucky finally spoke.

"Thanks, Maxie," he said softly and after a few moment he turned around. "I just have to concentrate on the people who are still here... Nikolas would want me to try to do everything I can for the other victims of the fire." She could tell by the look on Lucky's face that he was trying to be strong and that he didn't mean a word of what he said. The grief was too fresh and she knew that the only thing he wanted to do was grieve. He didn't want to think about anyone else but he couldn't tell her that. She didn't know why, she wanted him to open up to her and stop with the brave bravado but she was having trouble finding a way to tell him that.

"Lucky, it's okay to grieve for him, he was your brother," she offered hesitantly and she could see him put up a wall over his feelings and hide them from her. It hurt a little. She just wanted to be able to share her grief and she wanted him to share his to. She wanted to feel less alone. She wanted to know that she wasn't the only one that just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.

"There will be time for grieving later. I have to go back to the hotel soon, maybe there's some news about...Ni... him." Maxie almost broke down. He wasn't even able to say Nikolas' name. What had she done by helping Zander? To see Lucky like this was as much punishment as watching her father lie in a hospital bed fighting for his life. Why did the people she love end up hurting like this? She wanted to know why she wasn't blessed with the ability to fix everything and make the badness go away. She felt so helpless. The tears began to fall.

Lucky pulled her close and she buried her face in his shirt. The smell of smoke and sweat was overwhelming and made her dizzy but she didn't care, she just wanted someone to take it all away and make it better. He ran his fingers through her hair and whispered soothing words to her that she couldn't quite hear but they helped anyway. It made her feel better because she wasn't alone, she wasn't carrying the burden of grief all alone. Finally the tears stopped and she pulled away from him. He'd been so good to her earlier when she'd discovered that Georgie had been trapped in the hotel and now... well she couldn't ask for a better friend, and she was very thankful that he was in her life.

"You're exhausted," he said softly, wiping away a tear away and leaving a trail of soot in his wake.

"I'll see if they can put a cot in Mac's room for me, I'll be fine." She wished she could just sleep in an empty hospital room but she knew with all of the fire victims all of the rooms were needed.

"Kelly's is right down the road, you can stay in my room and if Mac's condition changes you can be back here in two minutes. Let the nurses and the doctors do their job with out having to worry about you too. He'll be okay and if anything happens I'll make sure that they call you first so that you can be here for him."

Maxie couldn't deny how tired she was and she knew that if she stayed here she wouldn't be able to sleep, and her body was bordering on exhaustion, she needed to rest so she could be there for Georgie and Mac both. There were so many things that she had to do and she couldn't do them now, not feeling like this.

"Okay, only for a few hours though." Just the thought of being able to sleep, of forgetting everything even if it was only for a little bit, made her want to curl up and fall asleep on the first viable surface. He put his arm back around her and led her way from the hospital room.

Maxie asked Bobbie to call her if there was any change in Mac's condition and then she got in Lucky's car and she looked out the window. The sky was a soft, pale pink, with tints of orange and the sun was just beginning to rise. It was a beautiful morning but marred by a column of dark smoke that was still rising from the ruins of the Port Charles Hotel. She shuddered and looked away, wondering how many lives had been lost, how many families were grieving for loved ones.

They arrived at Kelly's and Lucky nearly had to carry her up the stairs, all of the strength that she'd been holding onto disappeared and it felt like she had nothing left. She collapsed on the soft bed and she vaguely realized that he'd taken off her shoes and covered her with a blanket. She fell asleep, thankful that Mac was alive, Georgie was safe and that she had a friend like Lucky.