Hey guys, sorry it's been so long since I've written anything, I've been busy. This is a birthday fic for Maiyri, so go over and read her stuff, she's awesome!

Disclaimer: I do not own Maximum Ride.

Max doesn't know why she's the only one who sees how beautiful Ari is

For a long time, Max didn't understand why she was the only one who saw how beautiful Ari was. She really couldn't figure out why people always thought she was an escort paid to be at his side, or a trophy wife to a deformed genius, or something like that. She didn't get why strangers always spoke to him through her, why men hit on her when they were together in public like he wasn't even there. She knew she was pretty, but what she didn't know was why Ari's lack of in-your-face-good-looks rendered him invisible to other people. Why didn't anyone else see his little perfections, and focus on those instead of the ugly whole? And why did they do the opposite for her, noticing only her long, lean body and her pale complexion, but ignoring her frizzy hair or her long nose?

She spent a lot of time thinking about it, more than she should have been, really. She wondered, was it because she alone had watched him sleep countless times, when he was completely relaxed and utterly vulnerable? She dismissed that theory quickly enough; she knew he had had at least one other lover, someone who was a widely acknowledged great beauty. Ecstasy-what a self-fulfilling prophecy that name had turned out to be-was also cruel, selfish, and constantly derided Ari for his looks, even when they had been together.

Maybe it was because she knew him best, out of anyone else on the planet. He got along with Angel and Gazzy surprisingly well, had formed tentative friendships with a few human men, was tolerated by Nudge and Iggy, and civil with Fang, but had no other close confidante aside from Max. Of course, knowing someone's personality well didn't necessarily make you appreciate their looks, so that couldn't be it either.

She finally concluded that it was because she was the only person who had ever bothered to look for beauty in what seemed to be a walking collage of deformities and screw-ups. And that, at least, made sense. Because who besides the one person who loved him as much as she could, despite all her inhibitions and neuroses surrounding romance, would be able to appreciate the bits of him that were beautiful? Who else could ignore his overall ugliness, and find the perfection of his parts?

Max knew she was the only woman, no, the only person, who would ever be able to savor the self-indulgent experience of running her fingers through his luscious, almost decadent dark curls. She was the only one who would understand how his hands, large and scarred and heavy, could be the most delicate, gentle things in the world. She alone would notice the perfect curve of his lips, almost feminine in their fullness. She was the one who noticed little things about him, like how well-proportioned his long legs were, unlike hers, which were sticklike and almost comically spindly by comparison. Or even how, when he slept in the dull light of dawn, his long, dark eyelashes cast shadows onto the planes of his ravaged face, the dim light managing to make him look almost normal.

She was the only one who would ever be able to find out these perfect little things about him, things that even he was incapable of seeing.

But whenever she tried to tell him this, to try and comfort him after yet another idiot on the street pointed and laughed at him, or asked if he was paying her by the hour, he would shake his head in disbelief and ignore her words. He would interpret her words as a roundabout plot on her part to get more praise from him-Something he had learned from Ecstasy, she thought bitterly-and would eagerly concede, worshipping her in every way he knew possible. He was frantic in his devotions, like he was trying to plaster over imaginary wounds he caused her by his own ugliness.

She hated it.

After another one of his desperate adorations, Max lie there, idly tracing patterns down Ari's bare back as he dozed lightly, his head resting on her stomach as she ran her toes up his lean legs, wondering if things would always be like this. Wasn't that fact that she was here, in his bed, instead of Fang's down the hallway, or even Iggy's next door, proof enough that she didn't find him repulsive or hideous? Apparently it wasn't, or at least, it wasn't now. Perhaps, in time, he'd come to realize that he wasn't the monster he saw himself to be.

But for now, she would have to be the beautiful one with ugly parts, he the ugly one with beautiful parts.

Maybe that was how it was meant to be.

Hope you liked it!