After my little chat with Fang at lunch, I just felt so much better. It - the talk - was something that I had really needed to do. It just made me feel like I had my best friend back. Or, at least, I was on the right track to getting him back. A road of recovery, so to speak.
I was feeling reallygood, actually, even though Sam seemed to be in a bit of a sour mood after I had blown him off. I kept catching him shooting Fang cold glares. I was beginning to get pissed off, but remained cool - barely. I had to remind myself that I was spending time with my best friend tonight, so I didn't get tooannoyed - which isn't saying much, you know, considering my usual idea of "annoyed".
As soon as the final bell rang, I got up and sprinted out of my seat and out of the door, before the teacher had the chance to finish going on about the functions of mitochondria.
I already had the car running and was ready to shoot off before I realized that I had to drag Ella home along with me. And she always took forever. I did not have the patience for this, to have her take her own sweet time getting to the car.
Annoyed, I sent her a text message: get your Prada covered butt to the car now. Any longer than 60 seconds, you're walking home and when you get their all your precious clothes are going to Uganda and less fortunate children. Lots of love xoxo.
As drastic as the message was, it seemed to do the trick. Before I could count to sixty, Ella had plopped down into the passenger seat and was panting as if she'd just finished a five kilometer long race.
"Jeez, Max, what's the rush?" she managed between choked gasped, buckling in and trying to catch her breath. I shrugged and pulled out, cutting off three cars as I did so.
"I have plans," was all I said, even though I was freaking out.
Ella's eyes twinkled and she grinned at the news. "Oh, really? Hot date with Sam, perhaps?"
My eyebrows rose, slightly surprised at her suggestion. I'd completely forgotten about Sam wanting to talk to me later on. "No, not Sam. Fang's gonna come over and hang for a bit."
"Oh, really?" she repeated, this time adding wiggly eyebrows to her words.
I caught her expression out the corner of my eye. "What are you doing, you freak?"
"Nothing, it's just...you seem a little excited about Fangcoming over." She smirked at me.
"Yeah, so? He's my best friend, is he not?"
"I suppose that's true," Ella said, sinking back into the seat. Under her breath, she muttered, "But you wish you were more."
"Ella!" I hissed. "That is so not true. I have a boyfriend, unless you've forgotten!"
"You wish you'd forgotten Sam. Right? I mean, just because you have a boyfriend doesn't mean you don't want Fang in his place instead. Although you really should dump Sam before getting caught up with Fang."
I demanded through gritted teeth, "Ella, do you want to walk? Because I am this closeto dumping you in the gutter and making you walk home."
"I was just saying," she huffed.
I revved the engine and sped down the highway, hoping to drown the truth in her words.
I waited out the front of Max's house. I was calm. Cool. Collected. Hot.
As per usual.
I might have been a little nervous, but mainly I was high on adrenalin. And, yeah, confidence. Nudge's plan hadto work. She was a girl, Max was a girl...Nudge knew how the female mind worked, right? Therefore, it was foolproof.
I was constantly cracking my knuckles, however, the only sign of my (practically nonexistent) nerves. Because if I were to fail, however unrealistic that notion was, well...I doubted I'd be able to look Max in the eyes again if I did.
I grabbed everything that Nudge had given me, balancing the stuff in my arms as I moved around her gate and into her backyard to get my plan into action.
I set it all up. Everything was perfect. The blanket was straight and away from any signs of ants nests. The Hershey's kisseswere all facing the same way and were in line along the pathway. The lights were strung carefully and meticulously, the timer set for them to turn on at exactlythe right time. Perfect.
The only problem I'd have to face was probably keeping Max from noticing everything until it was time. After all, the girl is...yeah, pretty nosy.
After putting the finishing touches on the outside decorations, I decided everything was as good as it was going to get (a.k.a., perfect). I brushed off my jeans and packed it all up, putting the remains in the trunk of my car before heading to the front door.
I was just about to knock when the door flew open and a small something threw itself at me, gripping onto my leg and not letting go.
I bent over and pried Angel off of me, tossing her up into the air a few times before hugging her tightly. Angel's arms wound around my neck in a death grip as she hugged me back.
"Hey there, Ange. How's it going?"
"Good," she sang as I carried her inside, kicking the door shut behind me.
"That's great, kiddo."
I hauled Angel into the lounge room and sat down in an armchair, dropping her off on the couch beside Ella on the way.
"So what's new, you two? Miss me much?"
"Nope," Ella said, not looking up from her phone.
"I got to color in today," Angel told me enthusiastically, before frowning and adding, "It was really good but I couldn't finish it because Mike stole my red crayon."
"That sucks," I sympathized, although I wished that my problems were as simple as hers. I'd trade a stolen crayon over dating a cow/witch/she-wolf (equipped with the talons) any day.
"So. Where's Max?"
"She went to get something. Said she'd be back later," Ella answered, stretching out on the couch and resting her legs over Angel's lap. Ange giggled and squirmed, trying to get Ella to release her.
Angel gave up and resorted to looking at me and saying, "Max was really excited that you were coming over. She was dancing really badly and singing really badly. I think she missed you."
I snorted. That was easily imagined.
Before I had thought of an appropriate answer, Max burst through the door, her arms filled with bags.
"A little help here, guys?" Her voice was muffled from a bag she held with her teeth.
I got up and took half the bags. Angel was still trapped and Ella was still texting.
"When's the food shortage I didn't hear about?" I asked, helping her unload all the junk food once we reached the kitchen.
Max rolled her eyes. "I was just getting everything we had when we hung out as kids."
I grinned nostalgically as I pulled out a bag of one of our (many) favorite candies from when we were younger. But then my eyebrow rose as I pulled out ten Wonder Balls.
"No...," I said. "They stopped making these ages ago!"
"I have connections, dearest Fang. It wouldn't've been a real Max'n'Fang night if we didn't have these babies!" Max said, taking one from my hand and unwrapping it.
I started opening one as well, my grin broadening as my prize fell out. A tattoo of a cartoon character. I broke mine open and bit into the chocolate outside.
"God, I missed these," I said. Max nodded, moaning in delight.
"This. Thisis my childhood, right here," she declared, popping the mystery candies from inside into her mouth.
"What's your prize?" I asked, trying to get a peek to see if hers was better than mine. Just like old times.
Max ducked and covered the inside of her box, keeping the prize hidden from me.
"I...am not sure," she lied. "What did you get?"
I rolled my eyes at her and answered vaguely, "A tattoo..."
"Oh, yeah? Of what?"
"Doesn't matter. What'd you get?"
"A tattoo," she repeated, a bad impression of my earlier words.
"Oh, I see. Of what?"
"Max. Show me."
She grinned and surrendered, flipping over her tattoo and showing me the picture.
"Buzz Lightyear? Give it to me! Now! You know I'm supposed to get all of those!"
Max turned and ran, laughing. I followed her, hot on her heels. The chase brought back old memories of when she would purposely keep the prize that I wanted, leaving me with all the crappier ones.
"Max! Get back here!"
"Never!" she called over her shoulder, speeding towards the bathroom. Just as she went to slam the door in my face, I caught it with my foot - ouch - and pried it open. I forced her back, shutting and locking the door behind me.
I pinned her back against the wall. Max made a noise that was a mixture of protest, excitement, and even a bit of worry.
"Maximum," I warned, holding her arms against the wall and trapping her body with mine. "Tattoo. To me. Now."
"Never," she said smugly.
I moved closer. It took all my willpower not to press my lips against hers. Her eyes darted back and forth between my eyes and my lips.
I was about to kiss her. I really was. But then the most stupid, cliche, infuriatingthing happened.
"What is all this screaming and door-slamming about?" The deep, muffled voice came from the other side of the door - Max's dad. He added gruffly, "You two better not've broken anything!"
We trudged out of the room, sheepish. A mumble of sorry'spreceded us, along with a promise to settle down. Dr. M stood behind Max's dad, smiling indulgently. They left to go to their room.
Max and I were silent for a while until she cracked up. I raised an eyebrow at her and she managed, "Just like old times!" before erupting into another fit of hysterics.
I sighed and rolled my eyes, unable to help saying, "You know, we never would've got in trouble if you gave me my tattoo." I stared at her pointedly as I hopped up onto the bathroom counter.
Max let out a dramatic sigh. "Fine.Fine! You can have Buzz." She paused. "But I get the sponge."
I shrugged and we swapped. "That's cool."
"OK! Do me, Fang," Max demanded, rolling up her sleeve.
My right eye twitched as I fought the urge to say, Yeah, I'd love to. When and where? Oh, here and now? Shirt off. Thanks.
But, you know, we were in the proximity of razors and girl's deodorant - and Max knowshow much I hate being sprayed with that shit.
I shook off my thoughts, grabbing a washcloth and wetting it before I made my way over to Max. I held her arm in place and readied the tattoo.
Max pretended to tense up as she said, "Do it. Do it now. I can take it!"
I rolled my eyes at her and squeezed some water onto the tattoo, making her shiver slightly. We sat in silence for a while, our breathing the only thing to be heard, until I removed the washcloth and paper. A colorful image of our favorite sponge was tattooed on her arm.
"See, Max? Not that bad."
She stuck her tongue out at me and poked my arm with her finger. "Fine then, tough guy. It's yourturn. Let's see how you handle the heat!"
I nodded, just as she asked me where I wanted my tattoo. I grinned as an idea occurred to me, and I lifted off my t-shirt.
"Here." I pointed to just above my heart. "Buzz and I will be together forever."
Max kept her expression remarkably straight. She didn't even stare much. But I did see her gulp a bit.
"Oh, yeah, OK." Max paused slightly, taking a moment to get her bearings, and brought the tattoo to where I wanted it. She brought the washcloth up to my chest and held it there, looking everywhere but me. I smirked.
About a minute later, her hand dropped - much to my disappointment. She peeled the paper back and declared that it was "all finished" in a rushed voice. I watched Max as she hurried to clean up, rushing out of the bathroom and leaving me alone. Shirtless.
I sighed, pulling my shirt back on as I headed out into the living room. There, I found Max watching Angel play Dance Dance Revolutionwith a grin on her face. Angel was actually pretty good.
I took a seat next to Max, discreetly checking my watch. It was almost time to put the plan into motion, and I was getting a littlenervous. I just needed the sky to get a bit darker, and then it was go time.
After watching Ange beat her high score eight times, I decided that it was dark enough. I took a deep breath and started: "Hey, Max, can-," I was cut off suddenly by Ella, yelling out from another room somewhere in the house.
"Max! MAX! Come here, quick! You have to see this!" she shrieked, sounding beside herself and slightly deranged. She appeared int he doorway, bouncing on the balls of her feet. She ran to the other side of the room, pulling the drapes away and giving us a full view of the front yard.
Max's lips quirked, a pucker forming between her eyebrows. Confusion and curiosity emanated from her as she approached the window and her excited sister.
I followed Max to the window, not even caring if it seemed like I was dropping into her business or not. Max's breath caught as she took in whatever it was.
"Holy...fucking...my...fuck!" Max whispered, making her way over to the door and outside. She seemed to be in a daze.
When she had gone, I looked out the window from behind Ella. My heart dropped as I took in the sights.
Third Person (Oh dear God.. bare with me.. Don't worry, Kenzi. I'm here for you. And I'll defend you from the rabid fangirls when they hunt you down for squashing the fax.)
Max made her way outside and just...stared at the scene before her in shock. On top of her car was an arrangement of rose petals. They were full and waxy and, Fang had to admit, perfect. He didn't care that their perfection out-perfected his, though. What he did care about was the question that the petals spelled out.
Fang watched from the window, his face a mask but his insides were dropping with dread as Sam appeared out of the darkness and stepped closer to Max.
He had a perfect rose in his hand. "So?"
Max was confused. At first, for a small nanosecond, she had thought that Fanghad arranged this. But now...well, now she didn't know whatto feel. Moments ago, she had been practically begging Fang to kiss her. And now her boyfriend was asking her to prom!
"Shh," Sam said, pressing a finger to her lips. "I know you're speechless at what I've done for you. Don't worry. It's happened to many girls, many times."
On the other side of the window, Fang's fists clenched as he watched everything happen. He couldn't hear the words spoken, but he saw the awe in Max's face, the smugness in Sam's.
"So," Sam was saying, "you'll go with me. Right?" It was more of a statement, really, but still he waited for Max's confirmation.
Max swallowed, trying to find her voice, but unable to. She didn't know what to do! Her mind was telling her to say yes. But, however cliche it was, her heart was pulling her towards the boy she grew up with. The boy that was watching her head nod slowly, subconsciously.
Sam ducked in for a triumphant kiss. Max didn't return it.
"Righto then, babe. I'll see you later!"
Max watched him get in his car and drive off. Her heart was in her throat as she stood, leaning against her petal-scattered car - Fang noticed furiously that the fuckwit hadn't even cleaned up the PROM?petals! - with her heart lodged in her throat. She didn't know how to get rid of this horrible tight feeling in her throat and chest. All she knew was that she had to get out of there.
So she did. She turned and ran.
Fang paused for a moment, before slipping past a confused Ella and sprinting after.
If Sam is what makes Max happy, he thought, then I'll just have to endure him.