ten ways to (say) "i love you"
Because sometimes Max thinks that she's Supergirl. We'll be flying and flying for hours, and I'll have to carry Nudge and Max will carry Angel and Iggy will carry Gazzy, and we'll all be ready to fall out of the sky and just splat. Max never gives up the lead position, though—she'll stay flying just ahead of us, the point of our little V-shape in the sky. Working the hardest, as usual. And I'll offer to take the lead position, and she'll say no and give me that famous Max-scorn look.
But later, when it's just the two of us after the flock was asleep, and we'll go out flying for recon or something, I don't ask. I just go ahead of her, angling myself just slightly so that she's in my slipstream and doesn't have to work as hard for once in her bird-kid life. And I'll hear her sigh a little in relief as her muscles loosen up, but she won't sigh too loud because she doesn't like to show that she's tired.
Because sometimes Max forgets that she isn't the only one that can bear a burden. She'll stuff her pack so full of food that the seams look like they're about to rip, while I'm left with my pack half-empty. So when Max turns her back to do one of her leader-ly things, I'll sneak my hand into her pack and pull out a couple things and shove them into my backpack. I'm stronger, anyway. I can handle it just as well as she can.
Because sometimes Max forgets that she deserves something good, too. Angel gets her bear, Gazzy and Iggy get to blow stuff up, Nudge gets to carry around all of her Gossip Girl books (even though they are totally useless), and Max gets zilch. So sometimes when it's late and I'm supposed to be on watch, I'll wake Iggy up and ask him to do me a favor and watch the flock for a few minutes. He'll groan and grumble but comply, because he knows that the next day I will have magically come up with some chocolate-chip cookies and Max will smile and the world would light up so bright that Iggy will get sunburnt.
Because sometimes Max really needs a break. None of us ever shower on a regular basis—it's usually more like, "Go jump in that lake as soon as we beat off this horde of whatever's chasing us at the moment." So when we get to crash somewhere with running water for awhile, there are six flock members all vying for a shower. So when it's my turn, I turn on the cold water and jump in, barely rinsing off before jumping out again. And when Max comes out of the shower, she looks happy and peaceful and relaxed, like the hot water is some kind of magical spell that wipes everything away.
And I'll volunteer to fold the laundry with her, because she'll stand next to me with her hair all wet and she'll smell like absolute heaven.
Because sometimes Max's problems don't go away when she sleeps. I'll be in the zone on watch, and suddenly I'll hear Max mumbling something and tossing and turning. So that's when I slide off my branch and land lightly on hers, smoothing her sweaty hair away from her face and whispering into her ear. That's it's going to be okay. That it's all just a dream. That I'm not going to let go of her hand. And she'll eventually still, her face relaxing into a more peaceful sleep. And on nights where I'm tired, I just stay right there and watch her sleep.
Because sometimes Max needs to be alone. I don't understand how she can socialize all day—be a mother to Angel, chat with Nudge, play with Gazzy, banter with Iggy. I can barely hold up a decent conversation for any extended amount of time. So when Max goes to get firewood even though there's still a pile left, I'll just watch her go. Because she knows that I'm right here, and I'll be whatever she needs me to be. And sometimes I want to pull her into my arms and kiss her and tell her that I need her just as much as she needs me. But instead I'll just wait for her to return.
Because sometimes Max needs someone to make her smile. We've got one really good picture of the whole flock. Nudge put the camera on the ledge of a window of a skyscraper and we all flew around. It's Max's favorite picture ever—like some deranged family photo. Both Max and I know that life is stupid and there's times when things just suck, and you just need some reason to smile. So I set that picture as the wallpaper on my laptop and I've never, ever changed it. And when Max flips it open, she smiles to herself and suddenly, my day isn't so bad anymore.
Because sometimes Max is paranoid. She's earned the right to be, I admit. She's woken up to duct tape and mad scientists several times. Max always wakes up periodically during the night, and she'll always do a headcount to make sure that everyone's still here. So I sleep in the moonlight, even though it shines on my face and I'd rather be tucked away in some dark corner, blending into the background. I know that sometimes, Max needs to know that I'm front and center.
Because sometimes Max has irrational fears. Why is it that Max will charge a group of Erasers or Flyboys or angry whitecoats without showing a trace of fear, but she'll freak at the sight of a garter snake? I have no idea. I mean, snakes really aren't that scary, are they? But they scare Max, and that's what matters. So when I scope out caves, I'll always clear out any snakes that I find. Even though it takes forever and it's totally stupid… it's what she needs. So it's okay with me.
Because sometimes Max needs to know that I love her. Maybe she's mad that I never have actually said it out loud. Maybe she's relieved that I've never said it out loud. But I'm absolutely crazy about that girl. She makes me do things that are completely irrational and stupid, and she makes me feel like I'm some kind of a hero. So when we're up late on watch, I'll listen to her and sometimes make smart remarks just so that I can hear her laugh. And I'll bite back the words that I so want to say aloud, because she needs to see it first. Someone once told me that actions speak louder than words. So if that's true, than I've told Max a million times that I love her.
I just have to wait for her to hear.
I really adore Fax, and I couldn't resist delving into Fang's feelings about the whole thing. I haven't really proofread this as much as I liked, so please give me all your criticism by pushing that wonderfully shiny review button.