Title: Broken Windows and War Music
Author: Pink Freud
Disclaimer: I don't own ''Across the Universe'', any Beatles songs, or any of the characters. I'm a poor grad student who can't even afford strawberries. Gimmee a break.
A/N This is, in my opinion, not overly great, but it wanted to be written, so here you go. Please tell me what you think. Love you all muchly and think you are wonderful.
A rescue. That's what it was. An unlikely, yet wonderful intervention. Max was treading down a path of self-destruction, whether he acknowledged it openly or not. It was self-destruction masquerading as a free-spirited good time.
Max could never control his eyes. They always ended up revealing far too much about how he was truly feeling; often they showed an excessive, troubling vulnerability, which Max then covered up with sarcasm, defiance, and bad behavior.
There was going to be hell to pay, he realized. Max needed to explain to his parents exactly why he was dropping out of college, and that would be a truly ugly confrontation. Truth be told, Princeton wore him out. It was slowly eating away at his soul, small, delicate bites at a time. This Ivy League cage was gilded, full of snobby people trying to force everyone into their snobby, narrow mold. None of it was real and honest; all it promised was a comfortable life built on lies. It made Max sick to his stomach. And the natural reaction to all this discomfort, of course, was to drive golf balls through windows, to smash a tiny piece of fake perfection.
But then of course, he had to run. And he was out of shape.
There was always the chase, everything that Max detested following close at his heels and gaining in speed. There was something about this one particular night that slowed him down more than usual; Max wasn't exactly sure what it was. A heavy weariness had settled inside him, taking its toll. It might have been the terror of staring down an unknown future. Freedom, yes, there was that, but the world was suddenly too wide, and not welcoming at all.
And then there was an open door, flooding light out into the darkness. There was this damn kid with a smirk and dark hair standing like some damn doorman. Light. Safety. Everyone else was still running, heading off in another direction, but Max was soon inside, hiding. Protected. Warm.
And something about this guy with the crazy accent put Max immediately at ease. Jude was alone, from a foreign country; he was a stranger now in a strange land. But he looked so steady, somehow, with the light falling over his soft brown hair, and with that smile playing around the corners of his mouth. Max would soon come to wonder if that light he recalled in those moments around Jude like a halo was real or imagined. And then he would soon come to decide that it didn't matter, because, real or imagined, that light would always, always be there, wherever Jude was in his memory. A halo. An angel. A rescue.
And Max loved Jude, he really did. He tossed that word around a lot in his mind, trying to figure out if it was suitable, or appropriate, wondering if maybe he could come up with a better word, somehow. Or maybe not better, just less dangerous. But then he would see Jude, and there would be that smile, that warmth, that safety and that light, and yes, that was the perfect word, the only word, love was the best word for what this was.
Max brought Jude home with him, using the excuse of the holidays. Holidays always provide a lovely excuse to pull people closer to you, without necessarily having them think too much of it. You are supposed to be nice around the holidays. Nice and generous and hospitable. These were all safe, safe excuses for Max's restless and inexplicable need to pull Jude closer to him, because he was somehow afraid, deep down inside, that if he let his newfound friend get away, the light would vanish, and cold and infinite darkness and jagged fear would be all that remained for him. Jagged fear, and parents and ashes and Princeton and broken windows and fine china. Max couldn't face it all alone. He wasn't brave enough for all that.
And then Max's confrontation with his parents went better than expected, and he was almost giddy. He was so brave with Jude beside him, and in some moment at the table he acknowledged almost hesitantly to himself that if he had not been there, offering that support, it would have been so much colder and uglier a discussion. Instead of feeling absolutely crushed and bitter and saying terrible things that he would never be able to take back, Max was sarcastic and hopeful and full of a strange lightness. Fuck his dumb, pretentious family. Except for Lucy, of course, but she didn't belong with them anyway. Lucy was alright. But fuck Princeton too, and he wasn't gonna pay to fix that window, oh no. The world was wide, and suddenly welcoming, and he wasn't there all alone. Doors would open, Max was sure, like magic.
But then oh no, no, no—he was off to a place without light and safety, now. A dark and terrible foreign world illuminated only by fire and explosions. Soon after being dropped into this mess, Max came to realize that there was a sense of un-reality to war—some blinding, absurdist element. To be tossed from safety into an alternate dimension where you had to fast adapt to jungle and mud, heat and malaria and monsoon, bullets and grenades. Thousands of helicopters. Swarms and swarms of helicopters and endless marching. Unreal. Max spent a disoriented two days truly believing that it was all a strange, drug induced dream.
''Wake me up, Jude'' he'd find himself whispering.
Some nights Max would fall into a half-sleep and see things: memories and also hopes, glimpses of the future set to music.
He remembered that when Lucy was a little girl, she liked to mess with his stuff. She was a curious kid, always wanting to tag along and be like her big brother. She'd wander into his room when he wasn't around and go through his books and records and magazines. And Max hated this violation, because he wanted to have something in the whole damn perfect house that belonged just to him. ''Lucy, keep your hands off my things!'' he'd yell, making her cry and tear off looking for their mother to tell her what a horrible, mean person he was.
''I just want something that belongs to only me,'' was how Max wished he could explain it aloud, but somehow he couldn't bring himself to speak the words because to say them would admit some weakness, some need.
One morning, living in New York with Sadie, Max found Lucy and Jude in bed together. He had sensed that this would happen, ever since his sister arrived. Yet somehow, being directly faced with it was oddly different, and Max wasn't entirely sure why it made him feel so sick inside to see them that way, all wrapped around each other and looking so damned comfortable and safe and warm. And so he pushed past it all, saying ''she could do much better,'' all sarcastic and nonchalant and empty, and oh god it hurt to say it, the words felt like sandpaper. But they sounded appropriately cynical, and so it all worked out.
Inside, Max was screaming, screaming ''Lucy….keep your hands off my things!'' He choked back this bizarre rage, and it felt like trying to swallow cotton balls.
Now, again, he could hear helicopters in the distance, and Max knew that he was being pulled from sleep and memory. He tried desperately to hold himself inside dreams, clawing with his hands and finding only handfuls of mud.
Running, running, running. The sound of breaking glass, breaking forever, running, his own large eyes staring back at him in a mirror, haunted and sad, haunted forever, running. A door,
suddenly swinging open out of the darkness. A figure there, bathed in light, bathed in light forever. He was almost there, just a few more feet, and Max would be safe. But then, no, no, no…the vision and light and warmth evaporated completely and the harsh, grating music of war screamed him into consciousness.