Authors Note; I thought of this story when I was at work and listening to some music, it was supposed to be something utterly fluffy, but when I came home I changed the song and it became something else and also a bit longer than first planned. This story is complete in two chapters.

I own nothing but the poem Sketchy recites, the song belongs to Staind is called "Pardon Me"

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The Truth In a Song

It wasn't a normal night at the Crash, for some unknown reason to Max and the rest, it was Talent Night, so anyone who dared to take the scene and woo the crowd were in her opinion; crazy. One of those people was of course Sketchy and he was quoting some poetry or something that was surprisingly very deep.

"..Mysteries and tragedies,

It's all what we've got.

Misery and death,

it's everything we're not.

Passion and despair,

the things won't blend.

Hatred and confusing,

walking hand in hand.."

It was a weird poem and Sketchy lacked the knowledge of how to bring the feelings into his words, but he didn't seem to care and nor did the audience who all cheered and clapped their hands after he bowed, Jam Pony respected their co-workers and it was obvious that it was them who cheered him on. The others? They simply shook their heads and smiled at the tall weird looking guy.

"Damn Sketch, that was kinda deep, you wrote it?"

"Thanks Max and uhm, yeah, I did.."

"Sketch, you fool, if you lyin.."

".. No Cindy, of course not! I wrote it as practice for my job as a journalist, just didn't think people would wanna .. or I don't know, I mean, I might win tonight!"

"Don't listen to Cindy, she's just jealous that no one reads poetry to her, you were good, okay?"

"Good's not gonna make me win though, I need some extra cash."

"In that case, I'm buying us some beer!"

Max was for once in a very good mood, she almost felt like the girl she used to be, maybe even more carefree. She wasn't surprised that the only reason that got Sketchy up on the stage was cash, hell she'd do it to and she'd win without a problem. Only she didn't want to, she didn't see the point of it all and she had enough cash to get buy for a couple of months now, thanks to a heist she'd done, stealing a diamond necklace and fenced it for a pretty penny. Nothing she'd let Logan know, he wouldn't approve.

Feeling her good mood falter a bit, she placed her order for a pitcher of beer and made sure the barkeeper gave her the real deal and nothing that looked like beer but tasted like shit. While she waited for it to arrive, she decided to read the list of who were to perform tonight. The only rule they had on Talent Night was that you'd let the workers of Crash know that you wanted to perform, if too little people showed interested, well, what point was there to have a Talent Night if there weren't that much Talent to show?

She almost didn't notice the pitcher of beer being placed in front of her, to surprised to find Alec's name on the list. What's he up to now?

"Hey, I ain't got all night, pay up!"

"Chill, man and just cause of that, no tip."

"Yeah, as if you could've afford to tip me, sweety."

"Don't call me 'sweety' and yeah, paying a good tip isn't a problem, your attitude is."

Max took the pitcher and left, but not before giving the barkeeper the finger. He was new and she promised herself that she would find a way for him to know that you didn't call Max anything but her name. Once arriving at the table, she found the reason of earlier surprise sitting with Sketchy and Original Cindy.

"Hey, Alec. Didn't know you were gonna perform tonight?"

He sighed heavily and looked around awkwardly.

"I didn't sign up, Normal did and I swear his obsession with me is getting creepy, he's trying to make me sing this stupid ballad, but I refused so he threatened with firing me."

"As if he'd fire you, he freaking adore you, man."

"Sketchy, trust me, he was serious about it."

"You know, I could always have a talk with him, but I had my nails fixed earlier so.."

"Thanks, Cindy, but don't worry, I got a plan."

"Alec, I swear to God, I'm not getting you a new job and you're not going back to the ring either!"

"Whoa, chill, Max! I'm just gonna sing another song, I'm gonna play the guitar too, so it's not like I have to tell 'the band' to change the beat or anything. It's my call."

Okay, so now Max good mood was definitely falling, because when Alec made his plans? They were bound to make her clean his act up and she wasn't really in the mood of sing a duet or playing the drums. The thought of leaving Crash to hear later from Cindy what happened was really tempting. Really.

Not that there was a lot to do at home, she'd left her pager on her bed so if anything, she was bound to her it go off every five minutes. Sometimes she wondered what Logan was thinking with, it couldn't be his upstairs brain, nor his downstairs brain, maybe there's a third? He does make a lot pasta so maybe his brain is in his stomach? Mentally shaking those thoughts away, she concentrated back on the conversation.

"So you play the guitar? Since when?"

"Just a thing I picked up, I used to play the piano as well, but I can't bring myself around to do it anymore and besides a guitar is easier to bring with you when you're camping."

"You like camping?"

"Not really, but still."

Max snorted and started to listen to the poor girl up on the stage, she was singing very off-key and the worst part was the she actually thought she could sing. Once finished, the entire Crash became deathly silent and only then did the girl realize how bad she was as she hurried of the stage.

"Well, I guess this means it's my turn, wish me luck."

A choirs of Good luck was heard and Max really wished him good luck, because if he got fired, he'd loose his sector pass and there was no way for them to get a new one. Plus, she wasn't going to baby sit him or give him a place to stay. She didn't like him that much, Original Cindy was wrong.

The sound of a guitar started and everyone stared at the stage as Alec started to sing softly. The song was painful and Max felt every word he sang, unlike Sketchy, Alec knew how to use his words and his voice as well.

I'm one stop from a breakdown,

Two steps from being safe,

Just try to see this through,

Hearing him sing about being so close to a breakdown made her wanna hit him, how dare he even think of being close to one? When she was the one who had freed everyone? If any one was close to a freaking breakdown, it was Max and not Alec.

I'm three steps from this nightmare,

And four steps from the door,

The rest is up to you,

You didn't need to be a genius to understand that Alec was singing about himself, but Max couldn't help but feel a little bit selfish, did he have nightmares? She had seen him sometimes look too tired for his own good, but never bothered to ask and she instantly regretted it.

Pardon me while I just turn my back and walk away,

Pardon me if I can't listen to the things you say,

Pardon me if I can't fake it while you still believe,

Pardon me,

Max felt a bit worried, was he really thinking about leaving her? Scratch that, leaving them? She didn't need him, but the others needed him, she'd find a way to survive without him, no problem, right?

I'm one step from forgiveness,

And two steps from my grave,

We're all just passing through,

So yeah, they did face death a lot these days, but what did he mean by 'two steps from my grave'? Max tilted her head to her side and tried her best to read Alec's face as he kept singing. Had he received a death-threat he hadn't told her about? Was he thinking of suicide? What the hell was he trying to tell her?

Three steps from redemption,

Four from the Devil's door,

On a path that leads to you,

When he sang about the Devil, Max couldn't help but think about Lydecker and wondered who played the Devil in Alec's world, was it Renfro or someone she didn't even know? Alec stared her right in the eye as he sang the chorus again, it was almost like he wanted to show how serious he was with the song and what it was about. Only Max wasn't so sure.

Pardon me while I just turn my back and walk away,

Pardon me if I can't listen to the things you say,

Pardon me if I can't fake it while you still believe,

Pardon me,

He started to play the guitar and he definitely had talent, Max felt goosebumps all over her body as he started to repeat the chorus again. She was now sure that he was in fact serious about the words, what she didn't understand however was what he was faking, or maybe that wasn't something important from the song? But the way he kept his eyes trained on her while singing told her something else. Every. Word. Meant. Something. So what was he faking? His feelings? He did keep mentioning the word 'you' and.. was he singing about her as well?

Pardon me while I just turn my back and walk away,

Pardon me if I can't listen to the things you say,

Pardon me if I can't fake it while you still believe,

Pardon me,

After singing the chorus twice, Max knew what he was trying to convey, he really was leaving them, but why?

I'm two steps from salvation,

But I'm only taking one,

Pardon me..

As the song came to an end, Max realized also that this was his way of saying he was sorry, all the 'pardon me' in the song made it pretty obvious. But what exactly was he sorry for? Max had forgiven him for messing the cure up, he wasn't really the big screw up as he used to be.

Everyone in Crash started to cheer, everyone had been captivated by his song and when the song had finally come to and end, it was like a wakeup call as everyone screamed and clapped their hands. It was really something, but when Max noticed that Alec had quickly left the stage, she felt worry creeping up her spine.

She thought back to the line 'Pardon me while I just turn my back and walk away.' He had done just that, walked away without saying something. Someone announced that the winner was Alec, but when he didn't collect his reward, they gave it to Sketchy instead. For being so deep and brave they'd told him, but Max wasn't listening, she was leaving to find Alec.

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