Mighty Max is not mine; I take no credit for the creation of the characters, toys, merchandise, or those little ketchup packets in CBC's cafeteria that never seem to have enough in them.
This is what happens when I'm feeling silly and melodramatic at the same time: I attempt to give Virgil's take on something that has befallen the Mighty One in the past. For anyone completely mystified, this takes place after "Max Versus Max," and before "I, Warmonger." I realize that this is more a probing into Virgil's psyche than the fast-paced, action-adventure that many fans have come to know the Mighty Max continuum as, but I rather like dissecting the fowl, being able to figure out what makes him tick, and placing him in certain situations to see how he'd fare. Also, I do not intend for this to read as Norman/Virgil slash, for what it's worth.
"I'm glad you're alright, Mighty One," Norman proclaimed. "And I'm sorry you had to be put through all this."
The boy looked saddened, fumbling with the rim of the red baseball cap in his hands. "At least someone is."
"D'you mean Virgil?" Max nodded, sullenly, and Norman sighed a bit. "I know it's hard to understand, but . . . well, he's under a lot of stress, lately, and tends to jump at the slightest bit of doubt or possibility that he's going about his role in the whole Prophecy business wrong. It's nothing personal."
Max looked thoughtful. "Does he still . . . believe in me?" he asked, a tinge of hope, as well as doubt, in his voice.
Norman smiled, and reached over to tousle the boy's goldenrod hair playfully. "I'm sure he has no reason to doubt it, now: you are the Mighty One, and no one can ever take that away from you."
I stopped pressing my head against the door of the bathroom, where I'd excused myself to, and sighed deeply. I would have to make a point to apologize to Max, but I wouldn't let on that I knew he and Norman had been discussing my behavior; there were some things better left unsaid.
"Might we rest here for a moment or two? I'm rather fatigued, and we've got quite the way to go," I inquired. Norman stopped in mid-pace, most likely interrupted from the free reign of his thoughts; it was the first time either of us had spoken for a good number of hours. I plopped down tiredly on a large, flat rock, quite common in these parts, and allowed my feet to dangle over the edge as I unrolled the parchment map I always carried with me. In all honesty, we'd traveled this route many times before, and could have managed to get home without the aid of the scroll; this was merely something to keep me occupied, away from Norman's perceptive eyes.
Curiosity managed to get the better of me, and I stole a quick glance in his general direction; the warrior was leaned up against a gnarled tree, arms crossed, legs bent slightly, and sword tucked safely into its sheath. My eyes traveled to his dusty, dirt-covered boots, long since molded to fit the shape of his foot, and he cleared his throat. Damn it; I knew this was a lousy cover-up.
"I do hope the Mighty One isn't terribly angry with me," I fretted aloud, fiddling with a corner of the scroll. Norman snorted lightly; he always did have impeccable manners for a Viking warrior. Just the same, I looked up at him, rather surprised to be greeted by the mixture of annoyance, anger, and amusement.
"You practically told him to his face that you don't trust him and he can be replaced; if those aren't reasons to be pissed off, I'm not sure what is," Norman retorted, a bit more harshly than I expected. I gulped and looked down, unable to meet that piercing glare anymore.
"I've been so on-edge ever since Skullmaster's escape from the Underworld, and this was just so ... unexpected and bizarre. I couldn't just ignore the possibility that perhaps we hadn't found the right person to don the Cap. I know Max can't understand that completely, but Gods, Norman, you could attempt to see where I'm coming from, instead of always immediately siding with him!"
"Siding with him?" Norman echoed, his eyes twinkling with dry amusement. "You drag the poor kid into a life-changing situation against his will, and force him to confront goons like Skullmaster, and when he finally accepts his 'destiny,' as you say, you expect him to be gung-ho about the fact that you're questioning if he's the One, after all? Just admit the simple fact that you were wrong for once, Virgil, that maybe you Lemurians aren't as worldly and perfect as you like to believe, and that maybe even you have something to learn."
I pointed a shaking, accusatory finger in Norman's general direction, realizing my voice was rising in pitch, but wanting to make my point clear. "You're mocking the very fabric of destiny, and the core essence of the very Prophecy we've taken such pains to ensure is fulfilled! And how do you think I feel, always having to prod him along and spoil your fun? He doesn't even like me!"
Norman shook his head and furrowed his brow. "Of course he does."
I let out an angry breath, and gave my emotions free-reign: "he puts up with me; you both do. When I'm out of earshot or not attempting to steer the conversation towards something halfway related to our mission, the two of you are off gallivanting and chattering about swordplay and video games. If it weren't for the fact that I'm so directly involved in making him fulfill his destiny, I doubt he would even notice I was there." Realizing that tears were beginning to form in the corners of my eyes, but not caring, I continued, my head down and shoulders sagging: "sometimes, I think that the two of us were in peril and he could only humanly save one, he wouldn't even bat an eyelash before he went to aid you."
"Virgil, stop it!"
"It's true!" I exclaimed, sobs wracking my body. "And he has every reason to feel that way; apparently, your friendship is more solid than my intuition, since you were able to distinguish right away that he is the one and only Mighty One, whereas I couldn't figure it out until Skullmaster spelled it out for me. I was wrong," I concluded. "I was wrong, and now he hates me."
A soft pat on the shoulder startled me; I looked up, blinking moist eyes at Norman, who was doing his best to awkwardly comfort me. I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself; I was suddenly exhausted, as well as relatively embarrassed for being quite so blunt.
"He doesn't hate you; he's just as confused and anxious about the whole situation as you are, and works hard to please you. Do you think he would have even bothered trying to prove his authenticity if he didn't have some inkling of affection for you? In fact, he was just asking me earlier if you still had faith in him as the Capbearer."
"You . . . do? How?"
"I was listening from the bathroom," I confessed, focusing my gaze downward once again. "I wanted to find out if you were both angry with me, and. . .I'm sorry. It was wrong to eavesdrop."
The corners of Norman's mouth turned up slightly. Still feeling slightly less-than-myself, I tucked the scroll back into its secret compartment in my sleeve, and pulled out my trusty pocket watch. The rusty-haired warrior recognized this as a sign that we should get going, and helped me to my feet, standing up, himself, a moment later. We once more began the tedium of walking home.
This time, however, the silence was blessed and welcomed.