- - - AFTER.
or: the innermost thoughts of a bird kid, sans heart.
It's true, when I said I had no words.
I think... I think I'm dead. Like some part of me has just been shot, sliced to ribbons. And I'm bleeding on the inside. And all the words that I could say are all busy trying to staunch this flow, stuck inside of me. Scabbing over my heart.
You selfish freak, how could you LEAVE ME!
Maybe it was Gazzy's fault.
He voted for us to leave. All his stupid fart jokes, they'd annoy Fang. He was growing up, growing out of all that. Why, why--
Maybe it was Nudge's fault.
Do you think, maybe, that she exasperated him? That all her Gossip Girl and fashion magazines and meaningless prattle just finally made him up and leave. And she voted for us, she raised her hand.
Maybe it was Iggy's fault.
Name the elephant in the room, right? Well, now that elephant has stepped on you and squashed you flat, Ig. You and your stupid 'let's take a vote.' You think it's rough not being able to see? How about not being able to feel, because as soon as you open yourself up the pain breaks from the scab, and you just want to scream and scream until you're Feeling-Impaired again--
Maybe it was Dylan's fault.
Why'd he even have to show up, anyway? I don't need him, his touchy-feely crap, his warm chocolate-chip cookies, and his utter perfection. And he's the one who made him come up with that idea, that he needed to leave. Dylan and his stupid 'oh, help me Maximum, I can't fly' nonsense, his 'you're so wonderful.' And just-- your total randomness! I mean, suicide by non-lethal injection? How dumb can you get? You think those scientists would have fixed THAT bug--
Maybe it was Angel's fault.
She started this, even more than Dylan. Wanting to usurp me, that little witch. How could she? She's seven years old, she was my little girl. I want to comb the tangles out of your hair like you're six again, I want to see the love and gratefulness in your eyes as I sweep you away from the bad guys in white lab coats. And now, you've hurt me in the worst possible way. YOU, Angel, MY LITTLE GIRL! You turned my leadership into a farce, you turned my flock against me, and now you've taken away my love. Maybe I should slap that smirk right off your--
Maybe it's my fault.
I wasn't strong enough, that was it. He knew that I couldn't handle him, and he had to leave. You stupid, idiotic, mutant freak! How could you do this? I messed up the best thing I ever had. I should have been stronger! Crying like a baby, that'll just get you killed, Maximum.
Well, now I'm dead anyway. Only, my body hasn't gotten the message.
Maybe, my love, it's your fault.
Dang it. I'm bleeding again.
Why can't I say your name?
It has not been twenty years yet. It has been fifteen days, four hours, six minutes, thirty-three seconds.
You do realize what you've asked me, right? I must live without you twenty years. My heart must beat 1,471,680,000 times. When I dumped that adrenaline into your heart, you'd been dead for ten minutes, maybe. A measly 1,400 beats. That's how long you survive without me. Ten minutes.
It feels like it's been more than twenty years.
I have dreams now.
I dream of you. I dream of your arms encircling my waist. Your hands scratching between my wings. Your lips on mine, then they slide down my neck. You're breathing hard, but it's still not enough. Your hair is mixing with mine, and your leather jacket is smooth against my skin. And then you finally break the kiss I've been waiting 1,471,680,000 beats for. You look up, and I tilt my eyes upward to see yours--
I wish, more than anything, that I could hate you.
Well, second-most. I wish you would come home first.
You know I could find you, right? We're winged mutants. We don't do low-profile. Nudge could hack, trace your blog. Gazzy and Iggy would explode the doors to where you're staying. Angel would mind-control you out. And then I would ask you, very nicely, to please come back.
It would be easy.
It would be impossible.
That letter said wonderful things. I have it memorized, of course. I keep it-- okay, don't laugh-- I keep it tucked in my bra. Right over my heart. Sentimental and a little bit of TMI, right? But if any bad guys catch me... Well, they won't be going there until I'm dead. And then, I suppose, it won't matter anymore. But Angel hasn't made any predictions about me yet.
I wish I didn't understand why you left. I wish you couldn't have.
I wish our love was irrational.
The Voice was right. We're too similar. Look at that, our logical nature and self-sacrifice got us here.
I don't know how to feel about you.
Should I hate you? Should I continue to love you? Should I want you to feel this kind of pain I do, because that means you love me just as much as I love you and this is just as hard for you? Or should I want you not to love me, to move on with your life? Should I wish you nothing at all, erase you out of my life?
Like I said. I don't know how I should feel.
You selfish freak, how could you LEAVE ME!
I know how I do feel, though.
You idiot. As if I could ever stop loving you.
I still don't have any words. This isn't telling you how I feel, this is telling you what I wish and what I think. I can't tell you how I feel. You're not here.
FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG FANG--
Like I said. I think I'm dying.
You said you'd never leave me. You liar. How are you different than Angel, then? Wait, I know-- when Angel decided to rip out my heart, she at least told me straight-up, right away. You were a conniving little rat.
You were so perfect. Everything in that note, it was more than I could ever ask for-- in a note of that kind, anyway. I don't think anyone's ever talked to me like that. No one but you knows I want it. To be told that I'm lovely, to be told that I completely enrapture you... That's heady stuff. You just know me.
I can't help but pick at this scab. This bleeding pain, it just keeps opening up. Wish I was a self-healer. That'd be nice.
Is it twenty years yet?
I don't think you'll really make me wait that long. It's not your style, Fang.
(Saying your name... It sure doesn't get any easier with repetition.)
I think you'll be here sooner.
I hope so.
I need you here. Now.
You're my right-wing man. There's a reason for that, stupid... It's because a left wing doesn't cut it. You need both. It's simply physics.
It's simple chemistry.
I can't fly without you.
You must know that.
So. Here's my firm belief, supported by physics, chemistry, and the note tucked into my bra over my heart.
You'll come back. Soon.
You will and won't be sorry. I will and won't forgive you.
There will be lots of kissing.
(I'm looking forward to that part.)
And everything and nothing will be okay.
Because, Fang, life continues to find ways to screw us over. I'm sure it's not done with our scrawny winged butts yet. It's why you're not dead. It's why my pain scabs without bleeding me out. It's why we ended up together after all that sexual tension, and it's why we're apart now. It's why I want to punch you in the face, then kiss away the blood.
I can't fly without you.
If I can't fly, I can't save the world.
And if there's one thing that has stayed constant in this mess, it's that the world has deemed me qualified to save it.
The world has made it clear that it ain't gonna wait twenty years.
So, therefore, you'll be coming back. Soon.
Here's the closest I can come to words:
I'll be watching the skies.
Make it quick.
This is not proofread or cleaned. It's an outpouring of raw emotion, and I decided to keep it that way. If this is truly going to be an outpouring of Max's thoughts, as I want it to be, it's not going to be censored or beta-ed. It's just it, right in your face.
Jeezums. Patterson, you've made me write angst for the first time in years. Never before have I been so heartbroken and so proud of a book's ending. You better put the seventh book out soon.
Review if you felt at all like Max did here.