First, let me tell you this is going to be just a few chapters. It's also a songfic, but rather than limiting it to a single song, there are several songs by Evanescence used, with just a few lyrics scattered throughout. There's a link on my profile that will take you to where you can listen to them all.
You may remember a drabble or two I wrote that loosely relate to this. So here we go…
All That's Left of Yesterday
You're not alone
No matter what they told you, you're not alone
I'll be right beside you forevermore
Fang stood motionless on the edge of the cliff, absorbed in a stream of thoughts and memories. Around him, an unspoken sadness filled the air, so thick he could almost taste it.
The blanket of darkness that surrounded the Flock was brightened only by the light born of the moon, and as Fang looked down at Max, her feet draped over the rocky edge of her perch, he noticed how the light outlined her features so perfectly.
With a resigned sigh, he sat down next to her and watched as she regarded him with careful eyes. After a few quiet seconds passed, the two both looked out ahead. A valley lay below, cast with unforgiving shadows as wispy clouds danced overhead.
Light footsteps could be heard from the cave behind them and Fang turned his head to find Angel cautiously approaching. His eyes flicked from her face to the inside of the cave, where he could see lambent flames slowly fading into ashes.
"Is everything going to be okay?" Angel asked quietly when she was just a few feet away.
Unforgettable scenes of the day's events instantly burst into his mind, blurring his thoughts again. Flyboys. Close to eighty of them had seemingly come from nowhere and descended upon the Flock with newly programmed vengeance, leaving the bird-kids bloodied, bruised, nearly broken, but alive and victorious, if only for now. But he could still hear the shots that rang out from their attached weaponry. It made him flinch ever so slightly…
"It's all going to be fine, sweetie," Fang told her, trying to force the sound of reassurance into his voice.
Her gaze lingered on him for a moment longer as her lips formed a tight, sad smile, before she turned and walked back to the others, letting silence reclaim its reign outside the cave.
Fang let his eyes wander to Max again, taking in the sight of her as if terrified to forget a single detail. The simple idea of forgetting her, his best friend and leader extraordinaire, made him feel an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of his heart. It would be intolerably tragic.
"Max, we need to get out of here," he said finally, his sullen voice shattering the discreet stillness of the wintry air.
"In the morning," she said, slowly nodding in agreement.
"No, I meant… out of this lifestyle. We need to find somewhere safe and just hide until this mess is all over." He'd said it all before, time and time again. All of the distress and suffering of the past year could have been avoided if she would have just considered the notion for more than thirty seconds.
"Fang, the Flock kicked major Flyboy butt today," she grinned half-heartedly. But Fang was too exhausted to return the fake expression that Max tried to lighten the grave mood with.
"We almost died today, all of us. You can't deny that," he paused. "It was too close." His tone held a certain asperity, which he knew would make Max uncomfortable, but he wanted, needed, her to understand the rarely experienced fear that had recently built up to unnerving proportions within him.
"I know that. But turn around and look in that cave. They're all alive. They just had a decent meal and they're getting rested. Do you think I stopped caring about that? I didn't. Everything I've ever done was for them…and you. But I just think it would be best if Itex was destroyed and the world was finally saved, instead of the Flock running away and hiding while all hell breaks loose out here."
Fang nodded hesitantly, understanding her point, but not exactly acquiescing with the logic.
"So then, what about you? What if-" he stopped abruptly, not comfortable with elaborating on the thought.
Fallen angels at my feet
Whispered voices at my ear
Death before mine eyes
Lying next to me, I fear
"Hm? If what?" Max prompted.
But he had fallen back into a silence, outfitting himself yet again with his stoic, reticent demeanor.
It was safer that way. If he didn't show it, it didn't hurt as much, didn't scare him as much. He knew that was a lie, though. It only scared him that much greater that he didn't tell Max these things more often. Because perhaps she would have been more careful, had she known he still worried about her and still cared just as much as ever before. Far too often, he'd seen her at Death's doorstep. But only once did he ever voice how much it killed him to see her like that, and ironically enough, it was the one time she'd put herself in the position.
Fang considered the possibility that maybe a profound weight would be lifted if he just came out of his recluse for a moment and said something…
So he tried, making a quick, determined statement…
"You can't leave me," he whispered matter-of-factly, a blank stare concealing the anxiety and fear he so blatantly felt inside. Much to his complacence, the sound of his voice held no feeling, either. Yet he watched as Max's expression turned incredulous.
"I- Wh-" she stammered, then quickly shut her mouth, and after a moment she lightly shook her head, wearing a barely existent smile. "Fang, they won't take me away, if that's what you mean. I promise. But, since when do you need me, anyway? You're my right-hand man for a reason. You're perfectly capable of taking care of the Flock alone." She quickly added, "Not that I plan on going anywhere, anytime soon."
He seemed to absorb what she was saying, but he was obviously not satisfied with her answer. He took a deep breath and looked away with an involuntary sigh.
"We've only talked about this once before, and Max, I honestly don't know what we would do without you… What would I do without you?" he asked, his voice betraying a slight hint of the emotion he's always been able to hide expertly.
Don't leave me here by myself
I can't breathe
Blinding wall between us
Melt away and leave us alone again
Humming, haunted somewhere out there
I believe our love can see us through in death
A faint, transient, wistful smile lightened his brooding face as she laid her cold hand delicately over his.
"You would be fine. Just like you told Angel a moment ago, it's all going to be fine," she said softly. It was a convincing statement, for a bystander's ears, but Fang could hear the lie behind it. They both knew the Flock wouldn't be okay if they lost anyone, especially their leader.
Sure, he could take on her responsibilities. He could make sure the kids were fed and had somewhere to sleep. He could embrace the same lies that she always did, telling the kids they would be free from this life one day, that they would settle down, live as a family. But that was all he could do. He couldn't be Max.
Fang's eyes locked with hers and he knew she was looking right through him, right through the impassive mask that took all of his remaining energy to hold in place. She could see all of his thoughts laid out in a display of doubt and hesitation, laden with fear.
And suddenly, Max turned her whole body to face him, slowly reaching her hands up and placing them on his cheeks. Her skin felt cool and soft against his, like a gentle, snowy breeze. She held his gaze firmly as she spoke with unwavering certainty.
"You don't need me. You never really did. And you'll be fine when I'm not with you anymore."
Fang's eyes widened the slightest bit, unnerved by the seeming finality in her words, and he placed one hand over hers, where it still rested on the side of side face.
"Stop talking like you'll be gone tomorrow," he said in a half-choked whisper. Fang wanted her to stop talking altogether if this was the only thing she would talk about, to stop bringing on these waves of cold anxiety, to be as sparing of speech as he was.
"I might be," she countered, so low he wasn't sure if he'd heard correctly.
"Max…" he frowned, feeling his stomach tighten into a legion of knots. She responded with a warm smile, one reserved only for Flock-comforting purposes, but rarely had it ever been used on Fang.
"Isn't it usually me drowning in pessimism? What's gotten into you?" she asked, aiming to put his mind at ease more so than looking for an actual answer.
With a sigh, Fang closed his eyes, trying to figure out exactly what had gotten into him. So he almost surprised himself when an unanticipated question escaped his own lips.
"Fine. But how can I be sure we aren't going to lose you?"
At that, he opened his eyes, staring back at Max expectantly.
Her next words came out barely louder than a breath, yet Fang heard them as if she had shouted them with a fiercely honest determination, resounding throughout the deserted valley below them…
Hold on to me, love
You know I can't stay long
All I wanted to say was
I love you and I'm not afraid
"I love you."
Whoa, right? So… I know I'm usually first in line to oppose Max and Fang saying those words, especially in the first chapter, but it was necessary for the purposes of this story. Out of character, I know. Just roll with it for now. You'll see… And remember, it's only a couple of chapters.
Reviews are wonderful.
Next chapter will be posted… Tuesday, unless demanded otherwise.