AN: It's been a very long time since I had the inspiration to write anything. But, thanks to PunandRobots, Kyoko Kasshu Minamino, Silver Scribes, Neo Nails, SweetpeachyTrina, and LibraDiva83, the inspiration for a special Christmas story was just what I needed to make Christmas official.
Disclaimer: Now, you know for a fact that I don't own a darn thing in Batman Beyond. Though, trust, if I did, Max and Terry would be together and instead of 3 seasons, we would have a least 6!
"Every Time a Bell Rings"
"Daddy, listen! Do you hear that? A bell is ringing!"
"That's right, honey! And every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings!" the vid screen chimed. It became sort of an unofficial holiday tradition to watch this home vid of the Gibson family enjoying a moment in time during a Christmas party, which has become even harder to watch every year.
"I don't know why I put myself through this." Max mumbled to herself as she switched off the vid screen, lifting herself off the couch, and walking towards the kitchen for a mug of hot chocolate. It's been about fifteen years since she saw her entire family together like that and it's been at least ten years since she felt what Christmas actually felt like. As much as she loved the snow covered sidewalks, buildings, and cars parked along the streets, it just didn't feel like Christmas unless you had a family around.
Seven years had passed since Max finally moved out of the apartment home that her sister and mother had lived in all of her life. Every since her father died not longer after she moved into her own place, things just seem a bit empty. Her mother and father had been divorced since she was fifteen years old and her mother has since moved on to someone else, whom she couldn't care less for. Her sister, Charmayne, stayed out of the house roaming the streets with her many boyfriends and didn't care how worried it left her at times. So, when Max moved far across Gotham city, it didn't seem like her mother or sister really noticed or really put up a fuss about her leaving. All but one person made a big stink about it. All but one person really and truly cared.
Max chuckled to herself as a familiar face appeared in her mind. She remembered that face all too well. It was a face that she saw more than her own family. A face that brightened all of her dark cloudy days and kept her company during the cold nights. Max sighed deeply as leaned forward resting herself on top of the kitchen counter and taking a few slow sips of her hot chocolate. Before Max could get completely lost in her thoughts of the good ole days, a bouncy tune emitted from her cell phone in her bed room and Max hurried to answer it. As she picked up her phone and looked to see what name popped upon the screen, the name showing across it unexpectedly startled Max.
"Terry…what a coincidence." Max thought to herself as she answered the phone.
"You must have been reading my mind because I was just thinking about you, McGinnis." Max quipped as she stretched out onto her bed.
"Max, you know that's impossible for anyone to be able to do. Nevertheless, you were on my mind as well and I had to call you to see how you were doing. I haven't seen you in four years, Max." Terry admitted sweetly.
"I know, Terry. When I moved out of my old neighborhood five years ago, I wanted to start a brand new life for myself; I wanted to get started on my career in Computer Sciences as quickly as I could and make something of myself. I guess I got caught up. I didn't mean to go all M.I.A. on you, Terry." Max said sympathetically.
It seemed she had forgotten about everyone else, too, not just Terry. The last time she spoke to Chelsea or Blade was about three years ago at a club. It was brief, though, as they were with two crazy acting guys. But, that was when she saw them last. And as for Dana; when she graduated highschool, she and her family moved out of Gotham. She and Terry were still dating at the time and tried to make it work long distance, but eventually it was just too much for Dana to handle. She met someone else and stopped speaking to Terry not long after. No explanation or anything. No one knows where she is or how she is doing now. There was a time where it seemed like Terry never would get over that. But, as the months passed, he did move on and soon Dana was just a distant memory. At least that was what she thought.
"Hey, I know how it is. Remember how many times you would cover for me when I would go missing in action? You just want to get out and handle things on your own. Only for me, I didn't want to be totally alone. I wanted at least one other person there with me. But, she was gone before I could ask her to go with me." Terry's voice deepened with hint of sadness when he said that. Max could tell that he was still a bit sensitive from what happened the day Dana dropped him and she couldn't help but offer sympathy for her best friend.
"Hmmph, yeah. I remember how hard it was for you when Dana moved and how even harder it was for you when you found out that another guy was involve—"
"I wasn't talking about Dana, Max." Terry interjected. "I wasn't talking about her at all." Max fell silent on the phone. She didn't know what to say. But, decided against trying to say anything and listened further.
"Dana moving away and her silently cheating on me was nothing compared to when you moved and went off to college. For that short period of time when Gotham's crimes were at their lowest and I decided to go out of town for my four years of college, I didn't think of anyone else but you. I made no friends in college because I chose not to. Every attempt when I tried failed because I would compare them to you. Even when I had to continue doing the duties of Batman in a new city, I had no one to confide in on those late nights, no one's window to climb into, and no one there to patch me up. I had no one, Max." Terry admitted.
A quote of wisdom that Max's mother told her before she moved out was that when a person goes off to college, the experience and the years can change a person. But, she never expected this kind of a change. Max's heart raced as she tried to comprehend what Terry was saying. Oddly enough, there were many days where she felt the same way when she was in college. But, now things seemed so obscure and Max didn't know how to sort it out.
"Terry, you have me at a loss for words. And you know how rare that is." Max giggled as she continued. "You could have called or emailed me at anytime, ya know? I would have been there. I would have. You know that, right?" Max asked trying to emphasize how much she cared about her best friend as much as she felt he cared about her.
"Yeah. Listen, I know its short notice but I graduate this Friday and will be coming back to Gotham on Sunday. Would it be an inconvenience if you could try to be there at the ceremony? It would mean a lot. Mom and Matt will be there and I know it's been a very long time since you have seen them." Terry said meekly.
"Yes, it has been a very long time. Gosh, how old is Matt now? Fourteen or fifteen?" Max asked.
"He's fifteen now. Can you believe it? We've gotten so old!" Terry joked.
"Yeah! I feel like I've sprouted just as many liver spots as Wayne!"
The two friends laughed, which is something they hadn't done in a long time. And it felt so good to do so,too. This was just what Max needed to lift up her holiday spirits.
"Terry, I would love to come to your graduation. It would be good to see you after such a long time. Just let me know what time the ceremony starts and where it is, ok?" Max asked smiling to herself as she fiddled with her finger nails.
"Schway, Max. I will email you and call you on Wednesday with the info, ok?" Terry beamed through the phone.
" You got it, Ter. See you soon, ok?" Max said as she hung up her phone and continued laying on her bed as she stared at her phone. Terry said a lot earlier in the conversation that Max just couldn't shake out of mind. She never heard him speak to her like, let alone be that open with her before. He sounded like he had been deprived yet yearning for her companionship all of this time. Granted, she acknowledged again that she felt the same way, but it seemed like Terry meant it beyond just wanting a friend to confide in. It sounded much more than that.
Max shook her head as if trying to shake the idea of Terry thinking of her as more than a friend. That idea was silly. Wasn't it?
I'm a bit rusty, so forgive me for any grammar mistakes I have made. This was written in the whee hours of the night. But, I hope you will enjoy it none the less. This story will only have 2 chapters. ^_^*~*