There's not much to keep you going in the hospital.
Sure, they have a TV in the leisure room and visitors are allowed from 9-5 everyday. But some guys just don't have many friends. And Max is one of them.
Lucy, of course, comes in pretty regularly, and at the beginning JoJo would try to stop by. Some of his old buddies from Princeton even showed up once. But it's kind of boring talking to a man with nothing to say except, "You wouldn't believe it over there."
So Max contents himself with humming old songs to himself and, when he gets really desperate, he reads. Max Carrigan reads. Who would've thunk it, huh? Then again, they say war changes people, so it only makes sense that it would change Max.
It's a pretty normal day when he starts reading Great Expectations. If he's totally honest with himself, he's probably not going to finish it, because it's about five inches thick and his brain isn't all that big. But it will occupy him, if only for a little while.
The other patients are going to watch some TV that day and they invite him to come along. He thinks about it, too. It's just that they only ever want to watch footage from the war, and that stuff hurts, you know? So he's alone in his hospital bed with only his roommate for company.
Rocky, his roommate, is screwed up. There's no other way to put it. He was shipped out from Vietnam a few weeks ago with the big, gaping hole in the back of his head, and now all he does is sleep and hallucinate about the past. He's conked out right now, which means Max can finally get some peace and quiet. It's loud being in a room with twenty-something, boisterous ex-soldiers; so loud he can hardly hear his own thoughts.
It could be hours that passed, he doesn't know. He tries not to look at the clock, because then all he can think of is all the men dying every passing second. All he knows is he's about three chapters in when a feminine voice interrupts him.
"Do you know how long he's been asleep?"
Max looks up exasperatedly to who he assumes is Rocky's girlfriend. He recognizes her because she seems to always be there, murmuring to the psycho sitting next to him. It seems stupid, really, because he'll never be able to respond, and everyone knows that.
"Nah. Sorry," is all Max can bring himself to say. She nods.
"Right. No problem." He waits for her to turn back to her boyfriend or leave or something, but she doesn't. She just stands there, watching him read.
"You need something?" he finally demands, and her entire face flushes bright red. For some reason, that's the moment he realizes that she's really quite gorgeous, with her chocolate hair and emerald eyes and 5'4" frame. It's nasty of him, but he can't help but wonder why the crazy guy gets a girl like that to come visit him everyday, and he gets... nothing.
"No, no... It's just... You look familiar. Do you have a sister, or something?"
"Yeah, actually. Lucy." Understanding dawns on her face.
"Oh, yeah, Lucy - we actually work together. Fighting for the cause, you know? She's been such a great help to Paco and everyone." Max glowers. He's heard plenty about this Paco guy and he sounds like a real piece of shit, yet somehow Lucy worships him. "I'm Maggie, Maggie Mae," the girl continues. Max doesn't say anything before realizing that he should probably tell her his name.
"Max," he says simply, but not before silently noting that Maggie and Max sound great together.
Time continues on, and Maggie doesn't say anything to Max again. Sometimes she'll smile at him, but then she'll turn back to Rocky and continue tending to his every need like some kind of slave. It's wrong to be resentful of someone like Rocky, because he's obviously had a rough time, but sometimes Max just hopes that Maggie will come in one day for him. That's not to say she does. So everyday he has to watch her, even when she's coming to visit his roommate, the love of her life. He just wants her. With every fiber in his being.
Finally, the day comes when Maggie acknowledges his existence once again. It's not very pretty, though. Because nothing can ever be pretty when someone dies. And that's exactly what happens. Rocky goes to sleep, and doesn't wake up, and Maggie sits on Max's bed, watching her boyfriend's lifeless body being rolled away, and cries.
Max really wishes Lucy were there, because she might tell him what to say. She might tell him to hug Maggie, say it's gonna be okay. But they're alone, so he finds himself incapable of acting. He just watches her, like he's been doing for the past two weeks, and lets her sob.
"I-I'm sorry, Max. I should g-go," she finally stutters, and he decides this is his cue.
"Maggie," he begins. But she's gone.
Months pass, and he doesn't think of her. Not consciously, at least. Occasionally he'll dream he's in Vietnam, and Rocky's been shot, and Maggie is just begging Max to save him. But he can't.
It's weird, he thinks. Everyone else's world is going back to normal. Jude and Lucy are together again. Sadie's on tour with JoJo. Prue's... still Prue. But no amount of normalcy can bring Max back from that war. He can't go back to being the affable college-dropout who doesn't give a fuck if everyone hates him. He can still still screw every girl in sight and shoot up when he's bored, of course, but he can't be so... careless. Now he knows that one day, this is all going to end. And everyone's gonna have someone to be with except him. And that makes him feel even lonelier, so he screws another girl and does another line and the whole things starts over again.
Then, suddenly, she's in his taxi. Her hair's in a messy bun, and her clothes are rumpled, and she kind of looks like she's going to cry. Just like that day when Rocky died, Max doesn't know what to do. So he drives. Then she speaks.
"Max?" she asks. "You- you're a taxi driver?" She sounds surprised, though he doesn't know why. Everything about him screams failure. It's only right he has a dead-end job.
"I needed something to do." He shrugs before continuing. "Maggie, right?" he guesses, like he doesn't remember her name. "How have you been?" She sighs.
"Okay. It's been hard since Rocky passed, but I'll get through it." She doesn't elaborate any more than that, until-
"I've been thinking about you," she blurts, her entire face red. "I-I wanted to know if you were okay. That someone made it out of the war unscathed." Max smiles at her in the rear view mirror. She's been thinking about him. Surely that means something, right?
"Not quite unscathed," he laughs. "But, yeah. I'm doing okay."
"We should catch up sometime," she suggests, even though they were never friends, so there's really nothing to catch up on. "Uh, here." She hands him a piece of paper with a phone number on it as they pull up to her destination. And just like that, she's gone.
Just like that, he's in love.