"Fang? Is that you?" the woman asks, a grin breaking out on her face. "Is it really you?" she repeats.
The man standing in front of her as they both waited to go through security at the airport turns around at the sound of his name—a name he hadn't heard in… well, a long time… through a voice he hadn't heard in just as long. "…Max?"
"Oh, wow! This is uh, funny," Max stammers, her face flushing a bit, not from the cold, but because of the face of a man she had crushed on for the longest time. "Fancy seeing you here, huh?"
He chuckles, his soft laughs low and husky. "Nice to see you too, darling." He can't help but add the 'darling' at the end of the sentence, curious to see what her reaction would be.
It doesn't fail him.
The reddish color of her face deepens as the words leave his mouth, and she curses at herself in her head. Stop it, Max! It's not like he still…She shakes her head. No. Those feelings were buried a long time ago, when we parted ways. Correction, when he left.
They move forwards in the luggage check line, taking off their shoes, jackets, belts, and bags, placing their items in the plastic bins provided. After walking through the full body scanner, the two rejoin again.
"How's life been?" Max wonders curiously as they make their way to the boarding areas, which, coincidentally, are the same. What's he doing back home? She wants to ask, but holds it in.
He stares at her for a moment, the corners of his lips quirking up. "You've been improving your patience and verbal filter," he comments, causing her to scoff and roll her deep chocolate brown eyes. "I've been fine. But tell me, Max, what did you really mean to ask?" He knows she's holding something in by the way her lips are pressed together and the way her fingers wring.
"Why are you back?" Why did you leave in the first place?
She doesn't mean to say it candidly, and he doesn't expect for her to ask so bluntly. Fang sighs, shrugging in response. "Home for the holidays." Home to see you.
"Ah." Max stares out of the window by the boarding area for a moment, watching the furious winds blow snow everywhere and layers of white coating everything in sight. Another question pops into mind and she blurts it out without thinking. "Were you here before the 2012 apocalypse warning?"
Fang hesitates before nodding. "Yeah; wanted to visit the family and everything just in case, y'know." And to see you.
"Oh." Why didn't you visit me? "Okay."
They fall silent, both young adults staring outside through the window. The blaring sound of the intercom intrudes upon their thoughts.
"We are sorry to announce that all flights will be canceled due to the blizzard blazing outside. All roads are closed off as a safety hazard, and flights will be rescheduled in the morning. We apologize for your inconvenience."
Max groans. "Oh come on!" she exclaims, similar to the complaints of the people surrounding her. "Seriously?" Normally, she would be grumbling and griping more, but for some reason, she felt oddly… happy. She blames it on the man standing next to her.
"We're… going to have to stay the night here, aren't we?" Fang murmurs quietly, almost to himself. "Christmas Eve… in an airport." Christmas Eve with you.
She nods in response, wondering what's on his mind—he always seemed as if he could read her like a book, but she never could tell what he was thinking. It was so tempting just to ask…
But she held it in, not wanting to intensify the atmosphere of awkwardness that had already settled in between them. "Yeah… that's a first, eh?"
His eyes connect with hers. "It can't possibly be that bad." Especially with you here.
Normally, she would hold someone's gaze straight on until they were the ones to falter first, but for some reason… she just couldn't. She looked away.
Fang's eyebrows furrow as Max turns away from him, breaking their gaze. She never did that. Ever. Max was always a stubborn one… so why would she turn away now? He was curious as to what her reasoning was, but he let it go.
Just like he had let her go, many years before.
They had moved away from the window, ending up on the connecting chairs in the boarding area lounge. "So where are you going, Max?" Fang asks, reclining back in the stiff seat and stretching his arm across the tops of the one beside him.
Her face grows warm—this time she blames it on the cold of the seats—and she has an urge to say something that was false. No. Just tell him the truth. Don't elaborate on it though."I… I was going to go see a… friend," Max breathes out.
He nods, his mind whirling. "In… Boston? Or are you switching flights?" he asks hesitantly, hoping she would say what he wanted.
"… In Boston," Max relents with a sigh, telling herself it was only because he was an old… friend… and she should at least pay him the respect of knowing where she's heading.
Fang nods again, a small smile breaking out on his face, unnoticed by Max. Who is this friend? Is it… me? He wants to ask those questions so much—it's as if the devil himself was deciding to tempt Fang at that moment—but he holds it in.
Just like those three little words.
"Where are you going?" Max asks, although she knows even without asking.
He cocks his head sideways at her question. "Home." After a moment, he elaborates a bit more. "Boston."
She slowly nods as if this it was new information she had acquired, when really, she was heading to Boston to see him. Not like it matters anymore, she says to herself. You've already 'caught up' with him… no need to go to Boston anymore, right?
Wrong, her subconscious counters. Completely, utterly wrong.
She huffs to herself, her lips curling upwards to blow out air in frustration. Fang watches do this, and again, he smiles to himself. Cute. Heaven forbid if Max ever heard him call her that though.
They grow quiet, both staring off into space, with thoughts that had tried to dismiss over the years invading their minds. Thoughts of each other.
Max sighs to herself, feeling all her unwanted emotions of love, lust, Fang, bubbling inside her again—Not now. Not again. You can't expose yourself again—while Fang shares the same, but with another emotion eating at him, raising above all the others.
I should have told her something… I should have let her know… But if I did… I wouldn't be able to leave. I wouldn't be able to leave her if we were face to face.
Her fingers were wringing together again, Fang notices, before noticing the way his own hands were clenching and unclenching. Man up, Fang. He coughs, causing Max to jerk and turn his way. Taking a deep breath in, he finally says the words he wants to say. "How have you been, Max?"
There are so many things Max wants to say, but she holds most of her comments back. "Honestly?" she asks. Fang nods, causing Max to chuckle wryly. "I feel like I've been through Hell and back." There. That pretty much sums it all up.
"Why?" He doesn't even bother trying to put a lid on his words.
The wringing in her fingers becomes more consistent, and he notices the look of anxiety on her face, but it doesn't make him drop the question. Rather, he repeats it. "Why do you feel like you've 'been through Hell and back'?" Is it… because of me?
Max mutters something under her breath,—something Fang doesn't quite catch—looking downwards to the ragged blue carpeted floor. "You wouldn't know." She shakes her head, turning to look at him. "How have you been?" She points the question in his direction this time. "Has life been good for you?" Please say no.
He pauses before shaking his head, his black hair that Max has the urge to run her fingers through—NO—falling in front of one of his dark, obsidian eyes. "Nah. I've just been… getting through."
Fang chuckles a bit. "Pretty much." My life sucks without you.
There's another question Max wants to ask, but she doesn't, in fear of losing him again. Why did you leave? Why didn't you stay? Did you not care about me?
"Are you hungry?" Fang wonders, before shaking his head to himself. "You're always in the mood to eat," he says, almost to himself, causing Max to bite her lip and look down in her lap.
"It's true," she sighs, smiling sadly a bit. "I'm insatiable." Is that why you left? Because nothing is ever enough?
She looks conflicted with herself, Fang notices once again. This time, he chooses not to question her, instead, changing the subject. "Should we get something to eat?"
Max sighs at the way Fang says 'we', remembering when they were once… well, a we. "Sure, why not?" she replies, slightly startling Fang with her indifference.
He nods in reply, looking away from her, not because he didn't want to look at her… but because he couldn't.
He looked away, she thinks with a sigh. He looked away.
"One coffee, two hazelnut creams, no sugar, stirred counter-clockwise, please," Fang says to the lady at the counter of Starbucks. He scoffs to himself about how he remembers Max's peculiar coffee… desires. She always claimed there was one key ingredient to the making of coffee, and it always had to do with the stirring techniques.
Max leans upon the counter, the side of her head resting against the palm of her hand. Her eyebrows raise and she smirks to herself as she realizes, after all these years, he still remembered her specific coffee run requests. He remembers.
"You remember." She says it pointedly, almost accusingly, as she stares at him, her gaze unfaltering.
He doesn't look at her, but nods in response, unable to keep a small smile from forming on his face, just as it was on Max's. "Of course."
The coffee is done being prepared and the lady at the counter hands it to Fang, who then gives it to Max. Her hands clutch around the Styrofoam cup, inhaling the scent of hazelnuts and coffee. Fang watches her anxiously; curious as to see how this coffee would rank amongst the many others he's sure she had had in her life.
His obsidian eyes stare at her lips, watching how they smack together, her tongue running along them to wet it, as she debates whether or not it was satisfactory. "It's… good," she finally says, tilting her head to the side.
They walk over to an empty table in the near empty food court area of the airport. "But… it's not the best," Max says, nodding to herself as if solidifying her decision.
Her face flushes slightly and she gives a curt nod. "Not the best. Definitely." The red deepens as she notices how he is still staring at her expectantly.
"The best is…" he repeats.
"Yours," she relents, averting her gaze to anything but the man sitting across from her. "Haven't found anything that can beat it," Max adds.
Fang smirks to himself. No matter what happens today, she'll always remember me, he thinks knowingly. Because I will always be connected with her number one coffee. And Max can't live without her coffee.
"A penny for your thoughts?" Max asks when she sees that Fang has drifted off into his thoughts. She checks her pockets only to realize she doesn't have a penny. "I mean a sip of coffee for your thoughts?" she amends.
He shakes his head breaking out of the bubble of thoughts that had formed. "Did you just say… you'd willingly give me some of… your coffee?"
She smiles, nodding. It wasn't every day that she offered her coffee out to someone. "Just a sip, but a sip nonetheless."
"I… was thinking… about…" He pauses for a moment, wondering whether he should tell her what he was really thinking. "You," he winks, causing her to blush once more.
Dammit Max, stop turning into a tomato! She scolds herself. "Oh." So much for playing it off! Argh! She yells at herself in frustration. Why did that have to sound so high-pitched?
"Of course, love, who else?"
Why can't I act so… collected like Fang? Why can't I just be angry at him for everything he's done to me, to my life? "Why did you have to leave?" Shhhhiiiitttt.
If he's startled by her sudden outburst, he doesn't show it. However, what startles him is the question itself. I don't think she meant to say that out loud… He notes to himself, cautiously taking in her wide eyes and opened mouth. But she deserves to know the answer either way.
"I…" He cuts himself off. "A long distance relationship never would have worked."
Max opens her mouth to comment on his words, angrily, but Fang interrupts her. "Just let me speak. Please."
After a tight nod from Max, he continues. "Admit it. After I saw what happened to you after your relationship with Dylan… I just knew—we both knew—it wouldn't have worked. I wanted you to be happy and that wouldn't have happened if I was at college in another state, thousands of miles from you."
"What makes you think you know what makes me happy? Who said you could decide?" she nearly screams at him.
"You're always happiest at sunrise, despite not being an early bird. When you're awake, watching the sunrise, it makes you feel like you're in Heaven. Chocolate chips and vanilla ice cream will almost always cheer you up in any situation, unless it's more extreme, then beating up something or someone will, until you get over it. Being around Angel always calms you down and that's when you feel safest—when you know your little girl is safe too—and even though you claim you hate surprises, it always makes you happy, knowing that someone cares about you so much that they're thoughtful enough to do that," Fang says, trying to stare deep into Max's eyes, her mind, her soul, but she's already put up her guard.
Her hands clench around her coffee to the point where the Styrofoam is about to break. "Again with the assumptions! Even though—most—everything you said was true… you're missing something! Yes, those things cheer me up, and yes, I'm happy at sunrise, but that's not when I'm happiest!" She pauses, taking a deep breath, struggling with what she's about to say next. "I'm happiest… when you're with me," Max confesses softly, all her pent up anger letting go in small puffs.
She straightens her back. "I'm happiest… with you," Max repeats, her voice growing louder. "And you just… you just went and stripped me of that! And here you are saying it was for the best! To Hell with that! Don't you know why when you asked me how I was, I said I felt like I had been dragged through Hell and back?" She shakes her head, the adrenaline in her body not being enough to look at Fang. "Because you left without even saying goodbye."
Max stands up, out of her seat and she slams the coffee cup on the table. "Take it. I don't want it anymore." She adjusts the scarf around her neck and grabs her bags, starting to walk away from the table.
Fang jumps out of his own seat, grabbing Max by the corner of her elbow. "Why are you leaving?" She doesn't even bother to reply, and she shoves herself out of his grip. "Aren't you going to visit your friend?" he asks, desperate to find a reason for her to stay—for her to not leave him. Just like I left her.
She turns around to glare at Fang. "I don't need to anymore. I'm going home." Crap, Ella dropped me off. Rummaging through her purse for her wallet, she feels stares on her back.
"You're taking a cab? At… almost midnight? When all the roads are blocked off?" he questions to the annoyance of Max.
"Glad someone's finally decided to talk," she grumbles to herself sarcastically. "What's it to you? Don't want me to leave you, especially without saying goodbye?" Max mocks. "If you didn't want that to happen, why'd you do it in the first place?"
"Why'd you even call my name in the line at security?" Fang counters, his annoyance starting to sink in. "If you didn't want any of this to happen, why would you even start it?" He stares at her, not in a glaring way, but more of a curious one.
She huffs, redirecting the question at him. "Why'd you respond, huh? If you wanted to leave me, why not ignore me and be through with it?"
His response is instantaneous, and it tumbles out of his mouth before he could think. "Because I love you, God dammit!"
Max freezes at his confession. "I just… Dear God… I just love you so fucking much, Max," he repeats, pulling her stiff body to him. He wraps his arms around her, his front to her back, and his head leaning down on her shoulder. "I couldn't let you go again. Not when you were so close."
"What makes you think I'd want you again?" she says, her voice demanding, body frozen in place. This is all too familiar. He's too familiar. Being with him… like this…
He turns her around in his arms and stares into her eyes. Fuck this all. And then he leans down, pressing his lips to her own.
Her body is stiff and rigid, but he keeps their lips connected until finally, her body begins to mold along with his own.
She pulls back, both of them panting hard.
"Tell me you didn't feel anything there," he says into her ear, his voice low and ragged. "Tell me you don't love me, Max. Tell me, and I'll leave your life… forever this time."
She stares up into his eyes, before clamping hers shut.
"I…" Breathe, Max.
"Just say it, Max, those four words, and then I'll go." Please don't.
"I…" Max takes another deep breath. "Merry Christmas, Fang…" He looks down at her, waiting for the next words that would come out of her lips. "I… love you." I love you.
He lets out the breath he didn't know he was holding, and pulls her to him, giving her another kiss. "Merry Christmas, Max."
And neither Max, nor Fang, could believe that they'd get their happily ever after, from one apocalyptic meeting.