After I inhaled about eighteen packs of cookies, Fang decided to launch the beginning of the very first Max and Fang Movie Night Extravaganza in over two years.
"So, what would you like to do, Miss Maximum? I've got all the food you could eat, games, and a heck of a lot of your favorite movies."
I was just so happy - I couldn't stop smiling. My best friend was back! It didn't hurt that he'd blown off Lissa to be with me, too. That was a definite plus.
"Um, let's start with food," I decided. I was hungry. Even after all the cookies. "We're gonna need our energy if we're going to do pull an all-nighter."
Fang nodded in silent agreement, and headed into the kitchen with a frozen pizza in his hand.
I swear, it's been years since I've smiled so much.
During Fang's house-wife stint in the kitchen (can you say whipped? Ha. I wish...) something poking out of his bag caught my eye.
I avoided my gaze and settled back into the couch, waiting for him to come back, because I knew I'd hate it if Fang pried into my personal things. So I decided to respect his privacy, too.
...You couldn't have fallen for that, right? I mean, honestly, as if I'd ever respect anyone's privacy - especially Fang's. However much I wish I had that much self-restraint, I don't - and, therefore, I couldn't stop myself from creeping up to his bag. Upon closer inspection, I had to notice that it looked like... a scrapbook?
Why the heck would Fang have a scrapbook?
I picked it up to examine it, since I'd already gotten so far. My breath caught as I read the words decorating the front; Max and Fang; Forever Best Friends. Shocked, I flipped to the first page. In fancy script, it was written;
Together forever, never apart; Maybe in distance, but not in heart.
I flipped through the pages, pages that were filled with the many great memories from my - our - childhoods.
I didn't realize I was crying, until the salty tears splashed onto the pages, staining the whiteness with gray splotches.
"Pizza's in the oven," Fang said quietly, and I jumped when I realized he was right behind me. "Max, a-" He caught a look at my face, and stopped immediately. I wiped my face with the tips of my fingers, catching.
Fang pulled me into a wordless hug. After a while of just holding me, he whispered, "What's wrong?"
I sniffled, and nodded to the book that was on top of his bag. "You made a scrapbook of us." Another tear slid down my cheek, and Fang brushed it away with his thumb.
"Sorry," he murmured. "I can get rid of it, if you want..."
"No!" I shouted, yanking the scrapbook from it's place on top of his bag and hugging it to my chest. "Don't! I was just surprised, seeing it! I just - I just realized how much I really missed you, before. How much I miss you now." My voice dropped a bit at the end.
Fang pulled me back to him, in another hug. "Those are the best memories I have," he admitted reminiscently. "Mom started making that, when we met in kindergarten. She said that she knew, from the start, we'd be good friends."
He didn't say anything more, and I rested my head on his shoulder. His mom had probably added more and more pictures, as we got older. She was like that.
"I would look through it, every night," Fang said suddenly. "I'd look through it, and remember all the good times." He smiled at me, a sad smile that I returned.
"We, young Fang, will be looking through this scrapbook!" I announced, pulling away from him and grabbing it.
"Yeah, OK. The pizza still has a while to go, anyway."
After sitting down on the loveseat, I handed him the book. The first page, after the title page, was of us learning how to ride a two-wheeler. We were so small.
"Do you remember that day?" I asked wistfully.
"We'd been begging our parents for ages. And then we complained all the time. And then you fell over into a bush and cried like a baby."
"Max, that was you," he reminded me. "You pouted a lot, too," he added, smirking.
"No it wasn't! I don't pout."
"Yeah you do. Matter of fact, you're doing it right now."
Grumbling, I turned to the next page. It was during our the-aliens-are-coming phase. I snorted when we got to the picture of us hiding behind our 'fort'. It was just a stack of sheets, pillows and couch cushions. We were wearing huge coats and pots on our heads.
"You were one screwed up kid, Max," Fang snickered.
"Hey, you mean we both were."
"You were weirder, though. It was you who convinced me that the aliens were coming, after all."
"You believed me!"
"You nearly knocked me out, putting that thing on my head!"
"Well..." I muttered sheepishly.
We were so engrossed in looking at the silly pictures of us, neither of us noticed when Mom walked in the room. "Max?" she asked. "Who was at the door?"
Mom stopped short, when she saw me and Fang, laughing, just like old times.
"Oh, my. Is that... Fang, is that you? Wow, look how much you've grown!" Mom exclaimed.
"Hi, Dr. M," Fang greeted politely, giving her a half-smile.
"Don't just sit there! C'mere and give me a hug!"
Fang obliged, looking as if he didn't want to - he wasn't very touchy-feely, after all - but he embraced her anyway. He was a good foot taller than her, too.
"You've grown into such a handsome young man, Fang. It's so good to see you again!"
"Thanks," he said, sitting down beside me.
Now that the greetings were over, she went back to being the mother; "What are you two doing, up so late?"
"Well, we're overdue for one of our famous movie nights, so..." I shrugged, grinning.
Mom crossed her arms, and said sternly, "I hope you realize you have to get up for school at seven, tomorrow morning."
"It wouldn't be the same if it wasn't, now would it?" I answered.
Mom shook her head exasperatedly, and headed back to her room. Not before calling over her shoulder; "I don't want to hear one complaint tomorrow morning!"
I snorted, and saw Fang smirking out the corner of my eye, too.
We turned back to the book, and Fang flipped it open to a random page. It landed on our eighth grade dance, which just so happened to have been my first date with a boy.
"That night was a complete disaster," I muttered. Fang tensed, and nodded.
What a first date, I thought wryly.
I scowled down at the picture. What a crappy night.
-A few days prior to the dance-
"It's obvious you like her, dumbass. You should stop saying you don't. Everyone - but her - can see it, too. You. Like. Her. And not just in a buddy-buddy way, either. I bet you picture her naked at night."
I coughed, and ignored his last statement. "Ig, even if I did, it wouldn't matter. She doesn't like me back."
"You idiot! Of course she freaking likes you! I bet she pictures you naked at night, too! Oh, bad image," he added under his breath.
I raised an eyebrow, and Iggy shouted exasperatedly, "How can you not see it? You and her look at each other in the same way - all lovey-dovey and shit. She. Likes. You. So ask her to the friggin' dance already! She just needs a push, is all."
Annoyed, I snapped, "Yeah, well maybe I need a push, too."
"Oh, you want a push? Fine."
Before I could say anything, Iggy grabbed me by the shoulders, and practically threw me in the direction of Max's locker.
"You got your push - now ask her before some jerk does!" Iggy yelled after me, making heads turn. I flipped him off, but made my way to Max anyway.
"Hey, Max," I greeted her, leaning against the locker beside her.
"Hey, Fang," she answered, jumping a little at my silent approach. I smirked - I loved how I was the only one able to sneak up on her.
"Can we talk? Um, alone?"
"Sure," she said easily. "Just wait a sec, while I get my crap together."
She bent over - poor girl, getting a bottom row locker - and I tried very hard not to check out her butt. I, of course, failed. Once she was done, she straightened. We were about to head out to the courtyard when we were suddenly surrounded by Nudge and J.J.
"Max, you have to come with us - now!" Nudge screamed at her.
"Hang on, Fang needed to tell me so-"
"That can wait - this is imported! Now get your rear into gear!" J.J. said excitedly. Max shot me an apologetic look as she was dragged away.
After dragging Max away, they stopped suddenly in front of a poster. I felt disappointment settle in my gut as I read it. A complete jerk, Dylan Cummings, stood in front of the poster, smiling - fakely - and asked, "Max, will you go to the dance with me?"
Max looked like a deer caught in headlights, before slowly nodding. Dylan smiled again, took her hand, and kissed it.
I turned on my heel and headed out the door, passing a confused Iggy.
"Fang, what happened?" he called after me. I just kept walking - he'd find out sooner or later.
*End of flashback*
Max flipped the page, and her eyes grew wide as she took in what the next picture was of.
"You got that on film?" she yelled in shock.
I smirked. "Iggy took it. He showed me a bit later. Mom thought it was the highlight of the night. So it was added. She also liked how it got me under house arrest for, like, months." However funny the story was, I had a hard time remembering how much I hated him, right then, in that moment. The picture was of me bashing Dylan's head in, after I'd caught him pinning Max to a wall, with his hands sliding over her stomach, and her yelling at him to stop.
"Dude, I need a copy of this!" Max enthused, grinning.
I snorted, remembering what had happened that night.
*Night of the dance*
Max and I decided to get ready at my house, and meet our dates at the dance, rather then picking them up. I had, stupidly, agreed to go with a girl named Brigid. What can I say? I'm a sucker for crying girls.
Nudge, insisting on making Max look 'drop-dead gorgeous' - as if she wasn't already - had stolen her away, leaving me to wait while Nudge prepared her for her 'hot date'.
I fought the urge to gag as I thought about her and that scumbag. I could imagine him holding her, swaying to the music, kissing her. That was my job. At least I was able to say that I was her first kiss - Max had confessed she'd rather kiss someone she'd known for ages, rather then some stranger.
I was wearing an all-black ensemble, except for my tie - which was white. My hair was uncombed, and all I did was run a hand through it - I did it repeatedly, actually, whenever I was pissed and thinking of Max with him.
As I was walking downstairs, I heard Max complain, "Nudge, that got in my eye! Ow! Are you trying to blind me? Ah! Keep that thing away from me! Crap! I plan to use my eyes when I'm older, you know!"
"Max, stop being such a drama queen. It's an eyelash curler! Now hold still!"
I paused, listening to them bicker for a while - if bicker means scream bloody murder - before everything was silent. Oh, God. Max better not have killed Nudge...
"Nudge!" Oh, good. "You made me - I actually look - wow, I don't - oh my God, I'm actually - I look pretty - oh my God!"
Curious, I opened the door to see what had make Max incoherent. I sucked in a breath when I saw Max, reflected back at me in the bathroom mirror.
"Wow, Max," I murmured, when she turned to face me. "You look beautiful."
She flushed and muttered a quick, bashful, "Thanks."
We matched - she wore a black dress, patterned with flecks of white. There were no flowers, or girly designs - it was simple, stunning, just like Max herself. Her makeup highlighted her features, just right, and her lips - God, her lips - begged to be kissed. And, trust me, it was very tempting.
Once Nudge had curled one stray hair, we went downstairs for the dreaded Kodak moment. As soon as we stepped off the last stair, we were attacked. Blinding flashes of light flickered everywhere, and I swear everything went black for about a minute.
"You look great!"
"Max, that dress is a little short..."
"Fang, fix your collar!"
"Our babies are growing up..."
Thankfully, we escaped, leaving our mothers in the middle of a major sobfest.
Upon reaching the dance, I was molested by my date as she hugged me, 'accidentally' groping my ass.
I ground my teeth together as Dylan asked Max to dance. My fists clenched when she agreed, and he led her to the dance floor, right as a slow song started.
I went to grab some drinks, and when I returned, what's-her-face kept asking me to dance, but I declined. Every time.
"I'm going to get some air," I muttered, but as I made my way out, a voice caught my attention before I could escape.
"Dylan, I said no!" Max's panicked voice reached my ears. "No! Stop!"
I saw two figures, in a dark corner. Dylan had Max pinned against the wall, brushing his hands along her abdomen, getting higher. She was struggling, to no avail.
I rushed over to them, anger making me blind. I got to them, just as Dylan's hand disappeared under Max's dress.
I ripped Dylan off of Max, and smashed my fist into his face with a satisfying 'crack'. I threw him up against the wall and continued to pound his face in.
"Touch her again, you bastard, and I will make sure you'll need to be tube-fed for months. Are we clear?" I hissed, sucker-punching him in the stomach. Max kept trying to pull me away, but I didn't stop - he deserved everything he was getting. No one touches my Max like that. No one.
"Fang, stop!" Max pleaded. "He's not worth it!"
Once I was done - leaving Dylan, bloodied, on the floor - I pulled Max into a hug and whispered, "Sh, it's OK. He won't bother you again, I promise." Max buried her head in the crook of my neck and held me tight, showing no signs of letting go.
"Fang, let's go home. Please?"
I gave her a last squeeze, before saying, "I'd love to."
When we made it home - I didn't even bother saying goodbye to my date - our parents bombarded us with questions - why are you home early? Max, are you OK? Jeez, Fang, what happened, son? Max, why is your dress ripped? Fang, is thatblood?
Calmly, I recited what had happened, Max backing me up.
My anger-management - or lack of - landed me in two-week detention, and a hardcore grounding. For a month. Even though my reasons were totally honorable. It was definitely worth it, though. Dylan kept his distance, and his family packed up and moved away not long after.
*End of flashback*
I was brought from my reverie by the timer going off, telling us the pizza was done. I got up quickly, and returned to the lounge room with six slices, three per plate. The grease stained the cardboard, but I didn't care - neither did Max, who was still looking through the scrapbook. When she noticed me, she snatched the pizza from my grasp, and took a soda that I offered, too.
I followed her lead, inhaling my pizza alongside her.
After we finished, I put a movie in and she snuggled up to me. I smiled contentedly. We spent the rest of the night like that. By the time it was one in the morning my eyelids were heavy, and Max was snoring lightly in my arms.
I scooped her up, bridal style, and hauled her heavy ass to her room.
I laid her down, and, before I left, placed a soft kiss to her forehead, before turning to leave. Before I could take a step, she grabbed my hand and mumbled, "Sleep here. Don't leave." She pulled the covers back groggily, and I hesitated before thinking, what the heck, and sliding in with her. I pulled the covers over us, and she moved closer to me. For the first time in a while, I knew I'd get a nice, peaceful sleep.