A/N: Guess who's back? Back again! Sorry for the Eminem moment.
Anyway, welcome back! Time for the second story in the "Unpack Your Heart" trilogy, "All This Time." I hope you guys enjoy this story as much as you enjoyed "Count On Me."
Graduations had to be Max's least favorite thing about academia as a whole; not for the accolades but the ceremonies, themselves, were always so tedious. However, despite plans to get far more than just her Bachelor's in Computer Science and Theory, Terry and everyone else begged her to go to this one since she made the Dean's List and was summa cum laude. For her family and only her family, she sat through this horrid drudgery. She couldn't be feel that she would fall asleep if she could get comfortable while the University Chancellor went on and on about nothing. She just really wanted to get this over with and have dinner with her family. She had to admit, however, she was relieved that she didn't have to give a speech unlike in high school. She looked around the stadium and knew that her family was watching and that made her smile. Her parents, more than likely, didn't make it but that was alright. Terry was watching her, along with Mel, Eddy, Sally, Bruce, and Basem. That was more than enough and more than she could ever ask for.
After two hours of monotony, Max was back outside looking for her loved ones. She was trying to call Terry or Mel but neither was answering.
Max turned and smiled to see Sally waving at her. She ran up to her, "Hey, girl."
"Congrats, buddy!" Sally pulled her into a hug. She released the hug and looked her in the eyes, "Super proud of you."
"Thanks. Where's everybody else?"
"Right this way, madam!" Sally presented the way with a dramatic flair that just drew laughter from Max as they both proceeded. They walked the hallway of the auditorium until they rounded the corner and saw Max's family and friends gathered together.
Max got closer and gasped when she saw her mother, Lisa, standing amongst them. Her eyes grew wide as she gasped. "Mom," she whispered.
Lisa did her best to keep from crying, though tears did escape. "Hi, baby. Congratulations."
Tears starting flowing from her eyes, Max ran past everyone and threw herself into her mother's arms, who happily hugged her right back. The group found it hard to keep their emotions from getting a hold of them, even Bruce allowed himself to smile.
"Mom," Max said, "I… I didn't think…"
"Nothing was gonna stop me, baby," Lisa replied. She moved her back, kissed her on the cheek, and stared in her eyes. "Nothing."
Max wanted to cry more.
Lisa exhaled, "My God… look how beautiful you are. You're not my little girl anymore."
Max laughed. "Still your daughter."
"Not a day's gone by that I haven't been thankful for that."
"Thanks for coming, Mom."
"Wouldn't miss it."
She smiled. She looked at Bruce, "I don't know if you two had been formally introduced…"
"Not yet," Lisa admitted, "But I know a famous face when I see one."
Bruce smiled and stuck his hand out, "Bruce Wayne."
"Elisa Gibson," she replied, shaking his hand. "It's an honor, Mr. Wayne."
"The honor is mine, I assure you." He looked at Max then back at Lisa, "You have an amazing daughter, Ms. Gibson."
"Yes. I most certainly do."
Terry smiled. He was beyond relieved that Max's mother made it. He wasn't sure she would but he held on to hope.
Max looked at her boyfriend, "Sorry. Not giving you any attention."
Terry shrugged, "I'm good with that."
She walked up to him and kissed him. He pulled her into a hug and whispered, "Congratulations."
"Thanks," she whispered back.
They all went to eat an early dinner, on Bruce, at Logan's, a restaurant buffet chain. They were laughing and talking and taking various pictures with a good time being had by all. It had been over a year since Terry and Max began their relationship and things were going as close to perfect as possible when it comes to Batman having a relationship. Even with the occasional bumpy roads of supervillains and the usual things that couples go through, Terry and Max found that they were truly happy.
As the meal went on, Max kept looking around, occasionally glancing at the entrance, trying to see if anyone else was coming to join their party. She may not have been thrilled about the graduation but she was glad to see her family. It made her happy that they were all so proud of her. There was just one person who she wished was proud of her, as well.
Mel sighed as she looked at Max. She got up and walked over to her sister. She wrapped her arms around her, "I'm sorry, Max."
"I thought he'd be here," she whispered back, absentmindedly.
"Don't let that ruin your day. You did something great."
She smiled. "You're right." She didn't want Mel to worry and she patted her arm. She stood and Mel let her go. "Be right back." She walked to the bathroom and, after getting there, she stopped and looked at herself in the mirror. She stared at herself for a while before her tears started to fall. She leaned against the sink to steady herself and took some deep breaths to keep herself from crying.
The bathroom door opened and Max, quickly, composed herself. She looked in the mirror to see Lisa standing there.
Max smiled, "Hey, Mom."
Lisa stared at her, somberly. "I'm sorry, sweetie."
"For what?" Max held her smile, trying to wipe her eyes without giving anything away. "You made it. You don't need to be sorry for anything."
"Yes, I do." Lisa walked up behind her and stared at her. "For your father."
Max's smile fell as her façade dissolved away.
"I know you were looking for him. So was I. I was hoping he'd be here for you. So, I'm sorry for that."
"Mom, it's not…"
"But, most of all, for me."
Max looked perplexed. She turned and looked at Lisa, "You?"
"I don't get it."
"Max… your father and I got divorced but it's absolutely no excuse for me being so absent in your life."
"You… you had to provide for me. That's what you did."
"That's not an excuse. I'm your mother." Lisa paused, placing her hand over her face. She lowered it, "I was supposed to be there every day for you!"
"But you couldn't be. I understand. You had to work. You had make sure…"
"Don't make excuses for me, Max! I'm your mother! What I had to make sure of was that I was there for you!" Lisa fought her own tears, taking a second before speaking again. She looked her youngest daughter. "Look at you. You are such an amazing woman." She rubbed her thumb across Max's cheek, "You were valedictorian in high school, you graduated summa cum laude, you've already have a job lined up with Wayne-Powers!" She sighed. "You found a wonderful man who is so clearly in love with you."
Max smiled. "Terry is a lot of the reason I got the job, Mom. His boss is Mr. Wayne."
"I've heard about Bruce Wayne. He wouldn't give you a job in his company, especially at such a high position, if he didn't think you can handle it." Lisa sighed. "But, Max… my point is that… you did all this… without me."
"Mom, no! Don't think…"
"You are so strong, baby. You're so much stronger than me. You had the odds stacked against you and, with all you had to take on, anyone else would've let any little thing stop them. You didn't. I am so proud of you."
Max smiled, "Thanks."
"I just wish I could've had more to do with that."
Max shrugged, "But you did."
Lisa leaned her head to the side.
"You trusted me. A lot of parents know that, if they weren't there, the kids would've gone crazy."
"I've known how strong you are, Max, and how mature. I knew I could trust you. Even if you did things that were questionable, who would I be to judge as often as I'm gone? But…" Lisa shook her head. "It's not about trusting you, which I do. It's about being your mother." She stopped and whispered, "I didn't do a good job of that."
Max could feel the pain in her mother's voice. "Mom…"
"I didn't." Her voice was back to a normal level. "I left you alone. You and Melissa. I know how you must've felt about me! Max, I am so sorry!"
"It's okay! It's…"
"I love you, Max," Lisa cried, desperately. "I hope you know that." She gripped Max's arms. "Please! Please, know that I am sorry! I am so sorry!" She was crying. "Maxine, I love you so much! I am so proud of you!"
Max started crying, "Mom, I love you, too! I know."
Lisa threw arms around her daughter and hugged her as tightly as she could. Max couldn't get over this feeling. It'd been something she wanted for years and, suddenly, all of the pain of her mother not being there didn't matter. In fact, in this moment, she couldn't even remember what that pain felt like.
Terry noted that Max and Lisa walked back to the table, together. He could tell that they had been crying. It wasn't hard to figure out why: Max was staring at the door, Mel whispering to her followed by Max excusing herself, Lisa followed after and both mother and daughter come back with tear stained cheeks. Terry looked at Bruce and Basem and saw that they solved this mystery, as well.
Max's father didn't show and he wasn't going to.
Terry felt guilty. After all, it was his convincing that got Max to send her father an invitation to her graduation in the first place. He knew that Joe Gibson could be a dreg but he didn't think he'd be that big of a dreg. To miss his own daughter's graduation was almost inexcusable. He didn't know why he was so surprised; Joe did miss Mel's wedding.
Terry rubbed his mouth then got an idea. He smiled and stood up, picking up a glass. "Hey, everyone. Gimme a minute."
"You're gonna talk?" Basem asked.
"Not at all of us are the strong silent types."
"I'd settle for silent every now and again," Bruce smirked.
"You and me both," Basem agreed.
"Oh, good, you two are friends now," Terry said. "It only took three years." He sighed in exasperation. "Anyway, this isn't about me." He smiled. "It's about Max."
Max looked at him and smiled.
"Max, there isn't one person here who's life you haven't improved in some way. I think that's a pretty safe bet."
"And how," Sally agreed, while everyone else nodded.
"I know I speak for myself but I think can speak for us all when I say we could not be more proud of you. You are amazing and you should be proud of everything you accomplished." He winked at her, "And I love you."
Max blushed and looked down while Mel and Sally teased her.
"To Max!" Everyone raised their glasses and toasted her.
After dinner, everyone went their own way; Basem headed off to get some rest before the night, Lisa went to her hotel, Sally and Mel and Eddy went to their own homes, and Bruce headed back to the Manor to prepare for the night's vigilance.
Terry and Max went for a walk in the park, taking the air from everything. They were holding hands while Terry kept his other hand in his pocket; constantly dragging his finger across the jewelry box inside of it.
Terry smiled at Max as they walked along. "I'm really proud of you."
She smiled. "Thanks. I'm glad you convinced me to do this. It was good to see everyone."
"Yeah. Hey, I'm sorry about…"
"Don't be. It's not your fault."
"It kinda is."
"No, it's not." She looked at him. "You tried. I appreciate that."
"Thanks." He groaned. "Must feel good to finally be done, though."
"For now. Until I go back for my Master's."
She giggled. "Hey! You're not far behind me."
He sighed. "I know. One more year. Just wish it was over with already. It's like high school."
"Not that bad! You have your own place!"
"True." He stared at her, "That we both enjoy."
"Oh, yeah, we do."
They walked a little further and Terry made every effort to slow his pulse down as he came to his next question. "Max?"
"Are you happy? With us, I mean."
She smiled up at him, "Of course, I am. Stop being stupid."
"No. I mean, yeah! I mean, of course, you are! Wait, that's not…" This wasn't going as he planned. He stopped. "Oh, boy…"
She raised a suspicious eyebrow, "Terry? What are you up to?"
"Trying not to make an idiot out of myself."
"As oppose to?"
She giggled. "Couldn't resist. Look, whatever you got goin' on in your head, just say it. Today is a pretty good day and I'm pretty sure you're not breaking up with me."
"That's for damn sure. Furthest thing from my mind."
"Good. So, it's just take a breath and talk. Okay?"
He scoffed; leave it to her to be the only one who can calm him down during this crucial moment. Irony abounds. He took a deep breath. "Okay."
"So, what…" She couldn't speak. She couldn't utter a sound. She lost all semblances of words when her boyfriend lowered himself down to one knee. Her mouth fell open and, for one of the few times in her life, she felt tears of joy coming to her eyes.
"Okay, I've already screwed up trying to be smooth," he declared, "so, I'll be direct: Max, you rock."
He chuckled in return, "I mean it! You are awesome, schway, amazing, smart, beautiful, sexy, and…" He paused. "…the best thing that has ever happened to me."
It was taking everything she had to keep from crying. "Even becoming Batman?"
He smirked, "It's a close second, yeah." He thought about it, "But even better than that, yeah."
She took that one compliment to heart. Deep in her heart.
"I mean… I wouldn't still be here, I wouldn't still be Batman if it wasn't for you."
"I don't know if I'm wrong here or doing this too soon but I don't wait until some crisis makes me see what I really want… when I already know what I really want. Who I really want." He took a deep breath and took hold of her hand. "So, Max… will you marry me?"
Max tried to answer, verbally, but her emotions stopped her. She just leaned down and kissed Terry with all she had. Tears fell from her eyes all the while and she just couldn't stop herself from kissing him. She loved him so much and this was all she could think to do to prove it to him at the moment. She finally gained ahold of herself and placed one more small kiss on his lips, keeping their faces close.
She nodded, swiftly, "Yes."
He opened his eyes, "What?"
She giggled and moved back a bit to look at him. "Yes. I said, yes, Terry." She smiled wide and let a sigh of relief and happiness, "Yes! Do you hear me?" She shouted, "Yes! Oh, my God, yes! I will marry the crap out of you!"
He chuckled and hugged her like she was leaving, picking her up off of the ground and squeezing her tight. She hugged him right back.
"Hey, hold up!" She said, putting a classic smirk, despite the tears. He set her down. "Where's my ring?"
He chuckled, "Oh, yeah." He reached into his pocket and pulled out the ring box.
"All this time, I thought you were happy to see me," she smiled, suggestively.
He mirrored her smile. "When am I not?"
"Oh, my, Mr. McGinnis." She looked at the ring box and he opened it to reveal a beautiful gold ring with diamonds in the band. "Oh, my God, Terry…" She looked back at him. "You're serious?"
"As serious as I have ever been," he answered. "As I'll ever be." He stared at her. "You're the one I want, Max. The one want I want to be with. For the rest of my life."
She tried to think of some way to make a joke about that because of his nightly duties but she was too lost in this moment to be witty. "The rest of your life…"
"As long as you want that, too."
"More than anything. More than anything, Terry."
He took the ring out and put it on her finger.
She stared at the ring, "Oh, my God! Oh, My GOD!" She screamed in excitement and joy. "I'm getting married!" She jumped and wrapped her arms around his neck.
He laughed. "I can't believe you've become one of those screaming girls!"
She laughed. "Ya think I'm not surprised?" She let him go and looked at the ring. She looked back at him. "Guess it matters… when it's with the right guy."
"I'm the right guy, then?"
"If you weren't, I wouldn't have said 'yes.' I only ever want to do this once."
"Guess that makes the right girl."
"The only girl for me."
She felt more tears fall. "Terry… I love you so much."
"I love you, too."
She threw her arms around him again. "Seriously, I love you. I love you. I love you."
He smiled and hugged her back. "I love you. So much."
A/N: Everyone who thought I was going to break Max and Terry up... HA! IN YOUR FACE! HAHA! I'm kidding. This may be a spoiler but I don't plan to break them up. I've seen plenty of relationships and, trust me, the couple breaking up is not the biggest problem or obstacle to overcome all the time. Couples who have been together forever and happy deal with plenty. Now, imagine that, but the man in the relationship is Batman. Stay tuned! Please leave me some reviews, I love them!
EXTRA NOTE: Because people have been asking, as we speak, I am working on a one-shot Terry/Max with them in a...heated situation. It will have an M rating. You'll know when it's up, don't worry. Stay tuned!