"Dad's here. Can we open our presents?"
"No. Wait for Mom."
"Go away, Ethan. I'll be up soon."
Max laid there for awhile before getting up and dressing. When she got to the living room, Fang was there.
"Hey." He was on the couch, Elizabeth in his lap.
"When did she get here?"
"Right after I did. Ryan brought her home."
Elizabeth looked up as her mother walked over, but was too busy playing with Fang's finger's to acknowledge her.
"When's your mom coming?"
"Should be here in a few minutes," Max told him as she sat down on the couch next to him. "She'll bring her camera."
"You're going to be nice."
"You too, Bruce. She can take photos if she wants."
"What about you, huh? You're not taking any today?" Fang looked at his girlfriend. "I know you to be very into taking pictures of the kids opening presents."
She laid against his arm. "You and Elizabeth seem to be getting along."
Fang immediately snatched his fingers away from the baby and sat her in her mother's lap. "No. I was just waiting for you to-"
Elizabeth started to cry, making Ethan upset.
"See? You make her sad." Ethan ran over there. "It's okay, Elizabeth. Look! I'm happy."
Groaning, Fang gave his fingers back to the baby. She giggled, taking them happily. Max smiled a little, but Fang kept his grim look as he turned his face back to the television.
"I love you," Ethan told his sister to which Bruce rolled his eyes. After patting her head, Ethan went to go sit back next to the pile of presents under the tree and wait for permission to open them.
By the time her mother got there, Max could tell that Fang was pretty much done with the day. He was putting on for Ethan though, so that was good.
The day went fast into the night and Nudge came with her husband, Ella coming with only her pregnant self. Max was so busy that she didn't have time to supervise Fang and make sure that he didn't do something stupid, which she was sure that he was glad about. He and her sister avoided each other too, so that was good.
"Have I showed you my new Buzz Lightyear, Rodney?"
Nudge's husband nodded. "Yes. Multiple times."
"He's the best thing ever. Well, Toy Story is. I know everything about it. Have you ever seen it?"
"Ethan…I actually saw the movie in theaters, so I think I know a little bit more about it than you."
Why did he have to say that? Max groaned.
"No! I can quote it word for word!"
Max could tell that Rodney didn't want to test the boy.
"Alright, I believe you."
Ethan calmed down. "Mom? Where's Ellie? I think that she wants to play with me."
"What makes you think that?"
"Mom, I'm me. Who wouldn't want to play with me?"
Bruce, who was texting on his phone, raised his hand. Max gave him a look.
"I don't know, Ethan. I haven't seen her."
"She's with Fang," Dr. Martinez said. "In her room, I think."
"Go get her for me, please," Ethan said. Max didn't have time to refuse because Ethan launched into another pointless story about Jessica. Rodney whispered something to Nudge and Max was pretty sure it had to do with her son. She wouldn't hold it again him. How could she?
When Max got to her daughter's room, Fang was on the floor, staring at her daughter, who was banging blocks together.
"What are you doing?"
Fang didn't look up. "Nothing."
"Are you drinking?"
"I'm out of liquor."
"You haven't gone out to get more?"
"No. Not yet."
Max went to go sit down next to him, watching her daughter also. "The others are still here, Fang. You've barely seen anyone."
"I don't want to."
"How can someone that likes going to the club be so antisocial?"
"You tell me."
She leaned against his arm. "I need to go on a diet."
She hit him. "Fang."
"You shouldn't have said if you didn't want me to agree." He frowned at the baby when she looked at him, but it just made her laugh. "Ethan liked his toys."
"Ethan likes anything."
"This is true."
It was quiet for a little bit. That seemed to always be the case to Max and it worried her.
"Do you think that we're boring?"
"It's not a bad thing, Max. All relationships are when the people have known each other as long as we have. There's no story you can tell that I haven't heard and there's no lie I could tell that you wouldn't call me out on. I've known you since forever. It's going to be like that for the rest of our lives."
"Do you want that?"
"I wouldn't be with you if I didn't."
He patted her shoulder. "Your baby bores me to death though."
"No one made you watch her today. I thought that Mom had her?"
"I remember her being forced upon me."
"You have a weird memory."
Elizabeth tired of her toys and crawled over to Fang.
She just giggled. Max sighed a little, reaching out to run a hand down her baby's face.
"I didn't feel excitement about today. I thought I would, seeing as it's Liz's first Christmas."
"Yeah, but this ain't the Christmas that counts. When she's able to get excited is when you should."
"Is that when?"
Fang gave Elizabeth his fingers when she wanted them, yawning slightly at the same time.
"You didn't come back last night."
"I was too drunk to find my keys."
"It's for the better then."
Closing his eyes, Fang added, "Plus, I didn't really feel like it. I am paying for that place. Might as well get good use out of it."
"Might as well."
Fang was gentle as he pulled his fingers away from the baby, something Max had yet to see until that point.
"I'm going out."
"Will you be back?"
"I plan to be."
"Not many places will be open, Fang."
"I'm going back to my place. I'll bring a few bottles over."
"If you have to go."
She wanted to stay there after he left, just sitting on the floor, ignoring the others like she was a kid that could still do just that, but she wasn't a kid. These were her guests and she had to go be with them.
Elizabeth hid her head in her mother's shoulder as they came back into the room. Max was pretty sure it was to hide from Ethan, but she couldn't conform this.
"Elizabeth! Toy Story's on!"
When wasn't it? Max sat back down on the couch in between Bruce and her mother.
"Bruce, would you go get me a drink, please?"
"Why couldn't you do it when you were up?"
Grumbling, he got up, Ethan quickly refilling his place.
"See that? It's a movie," he explained to the baby, who was busy being talked to by her grandmother. Ethan frowned.
"She don't listen well," he complained to which Rodney laughed.
"Maybe it's because you talk too much, Ethan," Nudge said, which was almost ironic in a way. Ella shook her head.
"Don't listen to them, Ethan. You don't talk too much."
"Have you lost hearing?" Max asked her sister as Bruce brought her a coke. She'd start her diet tomorrow…or maybe next week…January's always a good time for diets…
Max was washing dishes while listening to the radio. She was home alone at the moment and was enjoying it to the fullest. Then Fang had to come and ruin it.
"Ew," he said, changing the station from rap to some stupid rock station, which angered Max.
"You can't just-"
"More important things to talk about, Max," he said, cutting her off. That just infuriated her more.
"Please enlighten me," she said, turning to face him. Elizabeth, who was in his arms, clapped her hands when Fang prompted her.
"I got a promotion."
Max stared at him. "Change my station back."
Frowning, Fang ignored this request, instead looking at Elizabeth. "At least someone cares about me."
"Thought you didn't like her?"
"We're having a good day."
"What else did you do today?"
"Obviously pick up the baby from Ryan."
"And get promoted."
"…That's about it."
Max sighed as she went back to washing dishes. "You need to pick up Ethan pretty soon."
"Work. And change my station back."
Sighing, he did as he was told before saying, "Fine. Me and Elizabeth will be taking our nap."
"Elizabeth and I," Max corrected. He ignored her and just left. When she was done with the dishes, Max went to the bedroom to change clothes. Fang was texting while Elizabeth slept next to him.
"Hey," she said. Fang ignored her. Sighing, she said, "I'm actually happy about your promotion, Fang. I'm sorry if I made you mad."
"Mad? Me mad? Never."
She was about done with his moodiness for the day. "Whatever. I'll be home late. You're staying here tonight."
"Either that or take the kids with you back to your place. Whatever you decide."
"I like being able to make decisions."
"So long as you don't drink before you drive."
"So long as."
Shaking her head, she went to give him a kiss before leaving for the day.
When Max got home, no one else was there. It was late, so she decided that they went to Fang's house. Fine by her.
It was pretty cold as most nights were in February and Max wrapped up in blankets before going to bed. She was mostly asleep when her phone rang.
"Max? You home yet?"
She closed her eyes again. "Yeah, Fang. I was sleeping."
"Oh. I'm not."
"I can tell."
"I'm not hungry. My stomach's upset." She yawned a little. "I wish you were here to rub it for me."
"I can't drive. You said that I can't if I drink. Plus, the kids are all in bed."
Max sighed. "Why did you leave?"
"Bruce and Ethan both said that they wanted to and I didn't really care one way or another."
"I'm cold though."
"You can come over."
They argued over it for a little bit before Max got up, got a change of clothes, and headed over to his place.
"Where's the baby?"
"Asleep in her playpen in Ethan's room."
Max got into bed slowly, sighing a little as she did. "My day was Hell."
"Wanna talk about it?"
"I thought that you didn't want to talk?"
Max sent him a look. "You must be drunk if you're going to act like that."
Smiling a little, Fang reached out and wrapped an arm around her. "Talk, Max."
"No. Now I don't want to."
"That's fine with me, I won't force you." He kissed the side of her head. "I've been thinking."
"I want to move out."
"Of what?" Max asked, stifling a yawn.
"This place. You know, move back in with you. You said to wait until I can handle, it right? I haven't done anything bad since we got together."
She stared into his eyes.
"I haven't done anything bad since January."
"It's whatever you like, Fang. If you can handle yourself, fine. I'll believe you."
He nuzzled her neck, which was odd for them. Max wasn't sure if she liked all this touching. It gave her a funny feeling in her stomach.
"I'm still cold."
After pulling the blankets up around them more, he opened his wings and laid one across her. Max smiled sleepily.
Neither fell asleep after that though, but they did rest. Fang just laid there, letting her cuddle against him, as he stared drunkenly at the wall. When her eyes weren't closed, Max stared down at the pillow, wondering if this was all going to work out, him coming back home.
"It'll be morning in a few hours," he whispered. How long had they been laying there? She was too lazy to check.
"I'll make waffles."
Even though it was muffled by the pillow, she still asked, "With chocolate sauce?"
"Is there any other way?"
Max smiled. She almost told him that she loved him, but stopped herself.
Fang switched his pillow to the other side, trying to get comfortable. "We're going to be tired, neither of us sleeping and all."
"We've gone a lot longer without it before."
"Still. Kids are exhausting."
Max laughed softly. "Fang?"
"I want every night to be like this, even if it means I never sleep again."
Leaning down, he kissed her head. "Me too."
"I think I'll go for a walk outside now, the summer sun is calling my n-"
"Ethan, if you do not shut up, I will knock you out and stuff your body in the oven."
"Will it be turned on?"
"I'll take my chances." He took a deep breath. "Sunny days, sweeping the clouds away-"
"You make me want to commit suicide!"
Aw, brotherly love.
"If you both don't shut up, I kill you."
Fang made a face. "Max, leave them alone. They're just playing."
"You shut up. If it wasn't for you thinking that we all just wanted to go out to dinner, I wouldn't be stuck in the car with them."
"Me? You're the one that's such a drag."
"I'm a drag?"
"Such a drag that you could win the drag queen beauty pageant."
"You can go fu-"
"Don't you curse."
"Don't you tell me what to do."
Elizabeth whined a little, but Bruce put a toy in her carried to shut her up. Ethan took in the sullen mood and decided to fix it.
"You got a friend in me. You got a friend-"
"That's it! No more Toy Story for a week."
Ethan frowned. "Dad-"
"Max, you can't ban him from Toy Story."
"We should have done it a long time ago."
"Just because you decided to make today joyless, doesn't mean that-"
"Of course, blame it all on me."
Fang shook his head as he gripped the steering wheel. "You're the reason I drink."
"Good. I hope you die from it."
Bruce sighed. "You guys are kind of being childish."
"Shut up, Bruce."
"Don't talk to him like that, Fang."
"Me talk to him like that? You just grounded Ethan from the one thing that keeps him perky!"
"Shut up, Fang."
"How can you get on me for talking to him like that when you-"
"I said shut up!"
Needless to say, it was a quiet ride home. Max immediately went to her room to nap.
It had been a month since Fang moved back in permanently and it had been rough. Before, when one was having a bad day, they could just ignore each other. Now, that wasn't an option.
"Max, you knew that I was coming to nap."
She pulled in her wings, which had been strewn across the bed. "You have your half, I have mine."
Fang got into bed and put his back to her back. There.
For the first hour, neither spoke a word, but neither slept either. It was nice to see how sometimes, the silence isn't for the best.
"Where's the baby?"
The talking was dead after that. Two hours into it and Fang was out. He snored horribly too.
"I wish you would be quieter," she told her sleeping boyfriend. "Some of us are trying to sleep."
He chocked in his sleep and then all was silent. She reached over and poked him just to make sure.
Fang groaned. "I had just fallen asleep."
Hour three and Ethan couldn't take it anymore. He came in there and bothered them both until they got up.
"I thought I grounded you from Toy Story?" Max asked as she followed him into the living room, Fang not far behind.
Ethan gapped at her. "Mom, this is clearly Toy Story 2."
"Clearly," Fang echoed, which got him an elbow in the abdomen.
"Am I really grounded?" He asked as they all sat down on the couch, Ethan in between the two adults.
"No," Max sighed, pushing his head a little. "You know that I wouldn't do that to you. I love you, Ethan."
"Does that mean that you don't love Bruce?"
"Why would you asked that?" Max looked down at her youngest son.
"Because he gets grounded a lot."
"That's because he's bad a lot," Fang said, shaking his head. "He's a big kid, Ethan. You know that they're all bad."
"Yeah, all of them," Ethan agreed, leaning against his father's side. The eight year old smiled a little. "Don't you just love this movie, Dad?"
"It's the best."
"One of the bests," his son corrected. "You can't forget the first movie."
"Yeah, sure, a tie for certain," Fang halfheartedly agreed. Max rolled her eyes.
"Ethan, can we watch something else?"
"Uh, no. Why would you ask such a dumb question? We're in the middle of a movie, Mom. You know the rules. You can't interrupt a movie unless it's an emergency."
Sighing, Max wished in her head that Fang was next to her so that she could lean up against him instead of their son. "Then you expect us to watch this movie again? I feel like I've seen it so many times that I could type up a transcript."
"I don't know what a transcript is, but you shouldn't complain, Mom. Life is short."
"That's why I don't want to spend it watching Toy Story."
"Toy Story 2!"
"Same thing. And stop yelling."
"You and Dad yelled the whole time we were coming home from dinner," he defended, crossing his arms.
"Don't talk back," Fang said which was really his extent of punishment towards Ethan for the most part.
"Bruce would have been grounded," Max mumbled.
Fang was starting to get irritated again. She could tell.
"What exactly are you trying to accuse me of, Max?"
"No, clearly you are."
"I said nothing."
Ethan patted Fang's leg. "It's okay. She's mean to everyone."
Max hit him in the head. "Ethan…shut up before I turn off the movie."
"I mean it."
"You wouldn't have done that to Bruce," Fang mumbled, mimicking Max's previous actions.
The baby crying saved the fight. When Fang made no move to get her, Max decided that he and Elizabeth were on the outs at the moment and went to get the baby herself. She needed to be changed.
"Can I go out?"
Max turned her head and saw her oldest in the doorway. "What time is it?"
"I don't know."
"Where are you going?"
"Tell me where you're going."
"To a friend's house."
"Does it matter?"
"Yes. If I called their parents, would they know that you were coming over?"
"Mom, I don't know."
"Fine! I'll just not go. Happy?"
Not really. "Leave me alone, Bruce. If you had just told me the friend-"
"It's a date, alright?"
Max paused. "Oh."
"Do you need someone to drive you or-"
"Okay. Go. Be home by curfew."
Max finished with the baby and put her back in her crib before going back out to the living room. Ethan was gone, a game show now on the TV instead of Toy Story.
"Oh, now you're back to fight, huh? Guess what, Max, I don't play favorites with the b- What's wrong?"
She went and sat in Fang's lap. "Bruce left on a date."
Picking his words carefully, Fang asked, "Why does that make you sad?"
"I don't know."
Wrapping his arms tightly around her, Fang gave his girlfriend a kiss on the cheek. "He's been going on them."
"He never mentioned it to me."
"Maybe he's embarrassed."
Or maybe she just didn't care to listen.
"Maybe," Max muttered.
"On the bright side, we're alone."
"He remembered that he had to do something. I think that it had to do with saving the world, but I didn't ask for specifics."
"He wants to be like you."
"He doesn't seem to ever remember that I was involved in saving the world. Or anyone else for that matter. He just tells everyone that his dad saved the planet. You're his superhero."
"So I've heard." He kissed her neck this time, lingering long enough for her to notice. "What do you want to do?"
Drag Bruce's ass back home and never let him leave the house again.
"This is nice. Sitting here. With you."
"Was the baby okay?"
"Just needed to be changed."
"Yeah." She leaned against him. "Fang?"
"I'm kind of still tired."
"I'm not. When you get up, I'm going to get a drink."
Max got off him and let him go into the kitchen. Sighing a little, she laid down on the couch, refusing him access to it when he returned.
"Sit somewhere else."
He went and sat in the chair. "Happy?"
Why did everyone ask that when the answer was always no?
"I would be if you changed the channel."
"Remotes next to you. Watch what you want." As soon as he finished his sentence, he was downing his drink. She watched him the whole time instead of the TV as he drowned in the endless stream of whiskey, oblivious of her eyes. For awhile, anyways.
She was brought out of her trance and then had to fess up to it. "I was just watching you."
"I was thinking, Fang, that's all."
"Well cut it out."
He got up, stumbling over his own feet. He landed on her when he was unable to catch himself. Laughing, she tried to push him off, but Fang wouldn't have it.
"I said to cut it out," he growled playfully, putting his hands over her eyes. Max shook her head, trying to get him off, but really wanting him nowhere else except on her.
"You cut it out!"
"No." He was suddenly next to her ear. He smelt of alcohol, but there was some form of comfort in that. It was familiar to her. Fang protected her and Fang always smelled like whiskey. Whiskey protected her, just like it did him, just in a different way.
"I'm sorry," Fang whispered, still right next to her ear. He needed to shave. His face tickled. "About earlier."
His hands still covered her face, but she stopped fighting. "It's okay."
Kissing her ear for a moment, when he pulled away, he mumbled something that sounded like an I love you, but Max couldn't be certain. Reaching up blindly, she found the back of his head and stroked it.
Max heard Fang turn off the TV and then it was silent. He laid there against her, trying unsuccessfully not to squash her. It wasn't comfortable, yet she didn't want to move, she wanted to stay like that forever, if possible. She knew though that pretty soon, the baby would be crying. Or Ethan would be yelling. Or Bruce would call for a ride. At the moment though, there was nothing else to do and she was thankful.
Fang fell asleep after awhile. Max felt tired, but couldn't drift off, not with him laying on top of her. His hard on was pressing into her stomach and she was shocked that he could find slumber. The silence might not been enough for her to doze off, but it did give her time to think.
Think. That's all she wanted these days was to think. Having Fang back at first was rocky, then serendipity, and now it was just mundane. Like with Ryan and Fang before that. Even Dylan, back when he was alive. Then Fang before that too.
The common factor, whether she liked to admit it or not, was the big lug sleeping on top of her at the moment. He was always there. Even when he wasn't in the same town, state, country, or even continent as her, he was there in her mind. All day. She always thought about him. Thought about what he was doing, what he was thinking, how he would react to whatever was going on, replaying the last conversations they had in her head while she drifted off. It was weird, but she really didn't need to be with Fang at this point. She had him in her mind and sometimes, she liked that Fang better than the one he had become.
It wasn't that she didn't want to be with him. Because she did. Didn't she? She wanted him, but not all of him. You can't just pick apart the worse parts of someone though. He wasn't pizza. She couldn't pull off the toppings she didn't want. Drinking wasn't the sauce that she could just ask not be put on. This wasn't Burger King. She couldn't have it her way. Not this time. Not any time, really.
Reaching down, Max put her hands into his pocket. His phone had gone off and she wanted to make sure it wasn't something important. Plus, yeah, she was snooping, but what woman didn't?
It was a text from one of his friends. They wanted to know if he wanted to come over and watch the game.
"It's Charles. Are you going to come over to his place to watch the game?"
No response. He just kissed her head and went back to sleep.
As Max was putting his phone back, her hand brushed the edge of something. Frowning, she returned the phone and pulled it out. It was the photo. Sighing, Max looked it over.
The thing had become old, just like that. For some reason she didn't remember it being that old looking. It was ripped and torn and faded. Her face was haunting really. She had never known life outside of the School at that point and Fang posing to make her laugh was the best she thought life could get. Fang said that the photo kept him going, made him happy, but Max was just saddened by it. It reminded her of the past, something that she always tried to forget.
Staring at the photo that would forever hold a picture of her and Fang, she couldn't fight the urge to throw it away. It was nasty, dirty. It belonged in the trash. She could lie to Fang and say that she had no idea where it went. He would never know and eventually have to move on. No harm, no foul. Besides, it was old. It was trash really. Torn and broken it was…frayed. Who wanted something that was frayed…right? Years of being transferred from pocket to pocket had done that to it and Max would be doing it justice, really. The inanimate object would thank her if it could, right?
"What are you doin' with my picture?"
She looked up into Fang's clouded eyes. "Hmmm?"
"What are ya doin'?"
"Nothing. Just looking at it."
Fang took it from her hands. "I have more."
"No, more of us."
She had never heard that. "What?"
Fang got off her slowly and started to walk away, faltering the whole time. She followed him to the bedroom. When he got there, Fang got on his knees in front of the dresser, where he had put his stuff when he moved back in.
"See?" He pulled open a dresser drawer that held hundreds of photos, just strewn around.
"Where did you get these? Who gave them to you?"
In his drunkenness, Fang just laid down on the ground, not even caring. Max shoved him out of the way so that she could look at them.
"Jeb. I hid 'em from ya because…I don't know. Can't 'member. Ask me later."
There weren't just ones of them. There was little Nudge, talking nearly every time her photo was snapped. Then there was Iggy. Max could tell the ones that he still had his sight in, just by looking at him. He used to seem so…alive, back then. Inquisitive. Of course, Gazzy had his share of photos too. In most of his though, he was pulling up his shirt to show his stomach. For some reason, when he was little, he liked to do that. That and fart. Yeah.
Angel was there too, but she was still so little in her photos. A baby, really. It made Max sad to look at for the same reason that it made her sad that Bruce was going on a date. It made her feel…old. So much had happened. So much that most people would never experience. She had lived a complete life, yet she still felt so…empty. Incomplete.
The flock weren't the only one in the photos that she remembered. There were Whitecoats that brought her back to years ago too. They weren't all bad. Well, they were, but they weren't. Some, typically the women, were kinder than others. They wouldn't be as…rude, really. What they were doing was bad, but they weren't horrible people. Like her mom. Or, as much as she hated to admit it, Jeb.
Ari was also there in a few of them. Those almost killed her to look at, knowing now that he was dead. They were all before he got turned into an Eraser, of course. He was still the cute, kind, little boy that annoyed the heck out of her. Now, looking back, she wished that she had treated him better. Not just because he was her half-brother, but also because...she loved him. She really did.
The ones that really got her, though, were the ones of her and Fang. It seemed that they were never apart. Iggy went with them a lot too. When she looked through them, she found that when one got hurt, the other cried just as much. In one, she had just gotten a shot and was barely crying, having been used to the pain and only a few tears welled in her eyes. Iggy and Fang though, were both throwing a fit. It was cute. As horrible as it was, it was cute.
"Why'd he give them to you and no one else?"
Fang shrugged to the best of his ability. "Told me to give 'em to you guys. Couldn't. Wanted them. Selfish."
Max kept taking out a handful and staring at them, trying to remember those days, but finding that she had shoved them so far back that they really didn't exist anymore.
"Why'd you pick that one?"
"Huh?" Fang sat up a little.
"Why'd you pick the one that you did? To carry around? Why's it your favorite?"
Again, he attempted to shrug before falling back to the ground. "It just felt…special to me. I love it."
She finally looked at him, but only for a moment. "I want this one."
Struggle to get up and move over to her, he stared over her shoulder at the photo that she held in her hands.
It was of all of them, not just her and Fang like he had. Only, it wasn't at the School. Jeb had taken it, probably, when they first got the E-Shaped house. Iggy was flaked out on the couch, a hand thrown across his face, shielding his eyes even though he could only see darkness either way. Nudge was sitting on the armrest next to his feet, rambling while posing for the photo at the same time. Fang had his arms crossed, standing behind the couch, not seeming oto impressed with the place. Max, though, was busy trying to keep Gasman, who had climbed onto the back of the couch, from falling and holding Angel, who was wiggling to be put down.
Falling back to the floor, Fang said, "If you want it, take it."
"I think you should let everyone take one. You should have a long time ago, after all."
He nodded his head. "Sure. Send 'em all a few of them. I don't care. We have so many."
Sitting back on her butt, Max looked at a few more photos, smiling and tearing up at times, but never letting the happiness or sadness overwhelm her. No matter what, the photos were the past. It was over. That's all.
Slowly, Max moved to lay next to Fang on the ground, laying her head on his chest and closing her eyes.
"I wish…I wish I had a photo of Dylan."
Looking down at her, Fang spoke softly. "Yeah."
"We have one of all of your people. Remember? The newspaper took one."
"You still talk to them?"
"Not so much, no."
"I wish Ari was in the one I took."
"Take another. One with him in it. I don't mind."
"Some of those in there aren't just for documentation, you know. They look like Jeb just took them of us. In some of them…we're actually having fun. As much fun as there was to have, of course, but still fun."
Fang nodded again. "Even though we fought, Max…I liked today."
Keeping her eyes closed, she could almost picture the way that her and Fang looked right now. She took a mental picture that she would carrying around with her like Fang and his actually picture.
"Yeah," she whispered. "Me too."
Maybe frayed things weren't so bad…
Max was making dinner a few nights later, which meant putting fish sticks in the oven when Fang came home with Ethan.
"You guys are late," she said, noting the Bruce was with them and they all had ice cream. "How come you didn't bring me any?"
"You can't have any!" Ethan sat down at the table, his eyes red and puffy. "Elizabeth either!"
"You're girls," Fang said simply as he went to go sit next to his youngest. Not before picking up Ellie from her high chair, Max saw.
Ethan sniffled. "Bruce got broken up with."
"I did not! We weren't dating."
"Still, you went on one and she didn't want you," his brother said. "Then I had to break up with Jessica. The ice cream's 'cause we're in mourning. Huh, Dad?"
Max gave Fang a look and he let her come and take the rest of his ice cream cone.
"Yeah." He took one last lick before giving it up to his girlfriend. At least he got to play with the baby.
"I'm sorry, boys," Max said, jumping onto the counter to eat her ice cream. "How do you know that the girl doesn't like you, Bruce?"
"She has another boyfriend. She was just using him," Ethan said, not even letting his brother speak.
"Shut up, Ethan!"
Max sighed, shaking her head a little. "What about you, Ethan?"
He laid his head down on the table, his cup of ice cream in front of him. He didn't like cones, which everyone thought was odd. Most kids his age loved them.
"Things just didn't work out," he mumbled.
"But why?" Max looked at Fang, but he just shook his head. It was Ethan's story to tell. Max looked at Bruce, but he didn't say anything either, which she was shocked about. Why didn't he want to rat out his brother like he had done him?
"They just didn't."
Fang smiled when Elizabeth patted his face. "Tell her, Ethan. It's not that bad…I guess."
Taking a deep breath, he lifted his head off the table and pushed his dark brown hair out of his eyes so that he could look his mother in the face.
"She said that she didn't like Toy Story."
That's it for Frayed. The next part should be up some time next week.