Thank you for your patience! Your reward for waiting is Max featuring War Boys and well...I guess you'll have to read the whole chapter.
For the record:
xXx: means a change in time or location for the same character's perspective
the horizontal line is a change from Max to Furiosa or vice versa
Trouble arrives six days later.
Max finds himself in charge of a group of War Boys, in a manner of speaking. The War Boys know how he is and he anticipates their nonsense, but with one look from Furiosa, they follow his every lead. They're situated at the entrance of the Citadel, a small group of War Pups present as the War Boys want to show them some of the new gadgets they have added onto their vehicles. Furiosa leaves him, as she wishes to oversee work at the towers, smirking a little as a few of the War Pups run up to him in excitement, begging him to let them in the War Rig.
He finds himself quietly entertaining the tinier War Pups as the bigger ones follow the War Boys into the vehicles. A few of War Pups are still nameless. The War Boys have not figured out a suitable name for them yet. The only ones who have names are Club and Twitch, and he watches in amusement as the two try to figure out names for their friends.
"What do you think we should call him, Max?" Club asks with worshipping eyes, pointing at a War Pup who has huddled into his side like a dog.
Max shrugs. "Maybe he can name himself."
Club seems to ponder that idea for a moment before shaking his head with a smile. "No, it must be us who name him. But sometimes a person can have many names. Like how Furiosa calls you Fool. Why….are you a fool, Max?"
"The biggest fool you'll ever meet."
They all giggle at him, a sound he knows they must not be used to.
After some time, the War Boys finish their lesson and send the War Pups back to the towers. They tug at Max's hands, begging him to let them stay, but he's as firm as he can be, telling them he will have another lesson for them soon.
The War Boys are thankfully well and away when Max spots the rising dust in the distance.
"Max!" One of the War Boys (Switch, he thinks) runs up to him, pointing in the direction of the dust. "Raid, do you think?"
He nods slowly, trying to gauge how large it is and if they have any shot at all.
"What's the order?"
He turns blankly, a little startled at the question. He's no leader, but Furiosa ordered them to follow him and obey him. For a moment, he wants to find Furiosa and maybe Capable or Toast and take them with him. They would be furious if he left without a word.
But the haunting of their dead bodies is too powerful. His ghosts flash before his eyes and he knows he has made a decision. He shakes his head and points out to the encroaching dust.
"We take them out there. Far from the Citadel. We have the eight vehicles here, they have about five. We take them out quickly."
He climbs into the War Rig, the yells of his War Boys filling his ears as he starts the engine and Switch climbs in next to him. Swallowing his guilt, he hits the pedal and they roar to the road, heading straight for the raiders.
"Five of them, just like you said!" Switch says excitedly, their speed picking them up so that the dust has formed into the shapes of cars. The War Boys to his left are picking up their weapons and he can't help but feel the thrill with them, grabbing his gun as he presses down on the pedal just a little harder.
"Let's make this quick."
Four out of the five vehicles finish quickly. These raiders aren't prepared for the likes of them, as it only takes a couple shots for them to go skidding off and to go up in flames. The energy is wild amongst them and he feels Switch try to catch his eye, to bask in this road rage that has long been overdue for them. But he keeps his gaze locked on that fifth car, the biggest and clearly holding the leader of the raid.
The vehicle is fast and manages to pull up against the War Rig, its weight knocking the rig slightly off. From the mirror, he can see two of their attackers leap onto their rig and he knows exactly what he has to do.
"You have to drive," he turns to Switch. His eyes widen.
"Me? I'm not..I can't…"
"You can," Max gruffly positions the pedal for him and he pulls the hood of the roof open, climbing up and preparing for whatever wants to meet him outside.
The first raider goes down easily. Max blocks his every move and with one last push, knocks him to the ground. He notices the War Boys are slowly, but surely taking care of the last car. He spares the Citadel a look, knowing they'll be back soon, then turns to his final opponent.
Who is a lot tougher than anticipated.
A few punches that would have finished the job are not enough. Max struggles to find his balance as he tries to grab the raider to throw him off, but he's too quick. They take turns having each other by the neck before the other manages to break loose.
His mistake is one of balance. The War Rig shifts ever so slightly and Max falls backwards, watching as his attackers falls with him, but not before the man swings the knife down with him so that it slashes right down his leg.
The pain creates a blazing burn in his entire leg and he cries out as he attempts to get up. His cry seems to summon everyone, for suddenly the War Boys are leaping onto the Rig and pulling the last raider off of him and flinging him to his death.
"You alright, Max?"
"We finished them off, Max!"
"We got you."
They all surround him and begin ripping parts of their pants to wrap around his bleeding leg. A few of them push down to try and stop it, as he feels the War Rig slow and then turn back towards the Citadel.
"Don't worry, Max, you'll bring you back down," and with pure ease and gentleness, the War Boys lift him and then ease him back into the War Rig, making sure to lower the seat to he's down.
"Can you believe it, Max? I drove the War Rig!" Switch looks down at him in such joy that Max has to smile back, although it probably appears as a grimace. He keeps pressure on his throbbing leg as they venture closer to home and he wonders just how much trouble he'll be in.
When they reach home, he sits up to look outside, only to be met by everyone. He sees Furiosa, The Sisters, and some of the people gathered at the entrance as they slowly come rolling in. Switch pulls the War Rig to a stop and Furiosa is running to the door, climbing up to look at him through the opening. He almost cowers to see the fury in her green eyes and he knows she's about to start reprimanding him until she looks down on his calf, blood just starting to seep through the many layers of cloth. She refuses to look at him, instead looking up to meet Switch.
"Did we lose anyone?"
"No. Just injuries, Boss. Max was hurt bad."
"Take everyone to get patched up. I'll take care of Max," she sends an icy glare at him and hops down from the door, opening it in the process. He notices the Sisters have joined her and they all help ease him to the ground.
"How is your leg, Max?" Cheedo asks him, worry evident in her voice.
"Painful, but numbing."
She nods. "I'll grab what we need and meet you in our rooms," she says, turning to look at Furiosa. Furiosa give her consent and Cheedo is running ahead of them.
Everyone is silent as they make their way to his and Furiosa's room, only broken by Capable soothing him with kind words.
When they finally make it to the room, Dag grabs some sheets and lays them out on the floor. They lay him down, putting their few pillows under his head to prop him up. Toast carefully begins to cut away the cloth covering his wound as Capable runs to fetch bowls of water. The only one to have not moved is Furiosa, who can barely look at him as she tightly holds his hand.
After a couple moments, she lets go and stands, still refusing to look down.
"I need to check on the War Boys," she says and leaves the room.
Toast looks up at him to see his pained expression. "Serves you right, Max. What were you thinking? Going out without her and without any of us? You scared her…and now you may be infected."
He shouldn't be surprised to hear the anger from her, but he is and he grits his teeth when she pulls a piece of cloth off of some dried blood.
"I was scared too," is all he manages to say, but it just causes Toast to laugh.
"Oh, and that didn't give you enough reason to find us and back you up?"
"Can't let you all die," he tries again.
Dag comes up and places her hand on his shoulder. "Max, we have been through so much. You know we can protect ourselves, on and off the road."
"One day, we won't be lucky. You'll turn into ghosts."
She shakes her head at him, like a daughter annoyed with her father, just as Cheedo comes in, holding bowls of ointments in her arms. She places them down next to him and calmly waits for Toast and Capable to finish cleaning the wound. There's just a hard throbbing in his leg now, a throbbing he hopes Cheedo can find a remedy too soon.
When it's her turn, he grips the sheets as the ointments sting the wound, bringing back a harsh pain that seems to now course through his entire body. Furiosa walks in halfway, leaning against the wall in silent anger. He keeps his eyes on her the entire time, just wanting her to show some sign that she understands. With that glare, he really doubts it.
"And once again, you're a lucky man, Max," Cheedo finally says, smoothing out one more layer of a cooling cream on his leg. "I can mend this more tomorrow, once I'm sure any infection is gone."
"Thank you," he mumbles as she reaches to grab the clean cloth she's brought in to cover the slash.
"I'll do that."
Furiosa moves forward and takes the cloth, putting a hand on Cheedo's head. "I got it from here."
The Sisters all stand and leave, giving Max looks of sympathy (except Toast of course).
She places herself next to his leg and begins to wrap it.
There's a seething anger in her movements, which only makes the wrapping slower due to her metal hand. Every time he leans down to help, she slaps his hand away, giving him a withering look before attending to the slash. Hearing the door creak, he looks up to see Capable slowly closing their door and he once again appreciates their respect, alhough he's a little nervous to now to be very alone with a furious Furiosa.
"Shut up!" she cuts him off with enough anger in her voice to silence him and he sits patiently. As she continues to work and silence reigns, the anger seems to drain considerably replaced with her concentration and a sadness he wish he hadn't caused. Once she's finished, she smooths out the bandage with a gentleness that doesn't match her anger, refusing to look up at him but conveying no intention of leaving.
With this little encouragement, he puts his hand in her hair, spreading out his fingers in a slow and comforting manner.
"I should have told you…I'm sorry…"
She breathes out a heavy sigh. "Yes, you should have."
He can hear a soft tremor in her voice and realizes she's trying not to cry. Overcome, he brings his hand to her cheek, stroking it with his thumb.
"I'm so sorry. You could become ghosts like the others…I can't let that happen."
She continues to stare at his wound, until she finally raises her head to look at him.
"I once came back from a raid and you were waiting for me, worried and concerned. Did you not think I would feel the same for you? We belong side by side, not apart."
He feels the heavy tension of her choice of words, nodding in agreement and continuing his tiny strokes of her cheek, the only thing keeping him at bay from embarking on other things.
More time is passed in silence as Furiosa regains her composure, where she then surprises him by taking his hand and kissing it.
"I'm going to wash up. You get in bed and don't you leave it, Fool." She gives him a small smile, a tiny token of her forgiveness, and leaves him to maneuver into bed, taking care not to break the bandage.
Furiosa spends a long time in the washroom, thinking of her Fool and what damn…well, fool he is. She knows he was protecting her and their people…his quiet decision to go out without her. If Max were not there, she would have done the same in his position. Just her and her War Boys. Max would rather die than watch her die….just like her. Perhaps she's a fool as well.
It's very late when she finds her way back to their room. The Sisters make no peep as she walks by them, the day having completely exhausted them.
Max is fast asleep when she sees him, sprawled out on the bed, his injured leg (the right one, thankfully) on top of the covers in an attempt to keep the wound away from the sheets. Ever so gently, she joins him, choosing to lie on her side and look down upon him as he sleeps peacefully.
She notes the small aging wrinkles on his face, the signs of his hard life beginning to appear. What an honor it would be for both of them to die of such a thing…old age. It would be a miracle if they ever reached such a late stage of life. It brings her back to how he almost died today…how he barely manages to survive every nasty encounter he meets up with. One day he won't be so lucky anymore. There has to be a day when that luck runs out.
The image of a dead Max snaps something inside Furiosa. Without any hesitation, she leans down and places her lips gently against his. She barely presses into him and pulls back in a moment.
His eyes snap open.
The panic sets in instantly and she leans away until his hand on her shoulder stops her. The moon is full tonight, giving her the light to look upon Max's face as he stares at her with an expressionless mask.
"Sorry," she barely manages to whisper to him, caught somewhere between embarrassment and shame.
His hand moves up to cup the back of her head and he hums a little, a little spark of something lighting up his eyes.
"It's okay," he says, in answer to the guilt that must be plain on her face and his gaze drifts down to her lips, making his wish abundantly clear.
She kisses him again, a real one this time as Max responds gently, showing her how it must be done. When they lean away for a breath, she's quick to go back in, feeling the addiction seep in every time his lips touch hers. She notes how Max keeps his hand by his side, the other remains in her hair. He is a far cry from the men she knew before and she wants to thank whatever gods there are for his existence.
"Greedy woman," Max says after a particularly long kiss and she feels his smirk as she kisses him a little harder, just to shut up him.
She eventually finds herself curled against him and she soon pulls her lips away, their breathing haggard and a lingering curiosity of this new intimacy hanging between them. She lets Max bestow one last kiss to her before pulling her close to him.
She's almost asleep when she feels him chuckle.
"I think you have forgiven me."
-grins happily because the slow burn is killing me too and i needed something-