Jackson was sitting at his desk, but he didn’t go back to paying the bills and balancing the checkbook. Instead, he had spent the past twenty minutes gazing at an old photo of his wife holding their infant son. He remembered how reluctant he was at first even after they agreed to take Max in. But day by day, he fell more and more in love with that beautiful, blue-eyed baby boy who became theirs.
Jackson couldn’t blame Max for his reaction that morning to learning the real truth about his origins. He honestly wasn’t too sure himself if he had made the right choices in regards to not telling Max for all these years. He did know that he loved his son and would do whatever it took to protect him. Even if it meant having to lie to Max everyday of his life.
The day they adopted Max, was the day the world stopped being so black and white for Jackson. Suddenly, it seemed that secrets and deceptions had to be made in order to do what was ultimately the right thing.
In the photo, Eve was absolutely glowing as she held their sweet, serene baby in her arms with the brightest smile on her face. How he wished she was still here. Would things have turned out differently? Would they have told Max themselves? Or would they have made the exact same choices together, as he did alone?
It pained Jackson to know how fearful and confused Max must have been feeling over the past few days. He couldn’t comprehend what it must be like to suddenly have your body perform amazing, but inhuman feats. But this was what Jackson decided several years ago. If he could do it all over again, would he have done things differently? He didn’t know. But his son was born to be something great, yet Jackson knew Max needs to be free to make that choice for himself.
When he started running, he didn’t know where he was going; but he wasn’t surprised he ended up here.
Most Beloved Wife & Mother
Max stood in front of his mother’s grave with a mix of emotions. He was sad that she never lived long enough to tell him the truth. He was angry that she, like his father, lied to him for all those years. And yet he wanted more than anything, for her to be here right now.
In one moment, everything that Max had hoped for, had dreamed, had planned; came crashing down all around him, and he had no idea how to start picking up the pieces. At the young age of twenty, Max thought he had it all figured out already. He had a job that he loved. He was still in love with Alicia and had hope that maybe one day they would end up together. But now he didn’t know how any of these things could continue on, or how he can fit into this familiar world that has suddenly become strange to him.
Max couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that he wasn’t even human. A large part of him was still in denial and yet there was another part of him, slowly growing, that realized he had no choice but to accept this truth. He was afraid of and uncomfortable with his own body. He didn’t know if he would be able to control his newfound strength and speed or if he would ever learn how. He’s invulnerable now, and though he’s been lucky so far, how long would he be able to conceal this in his current occupation? Not to mention he’s pretty sure that he has the ability to make himself invisible, but has no idea how to control it.
He felt helpless.
Alicia was worried. She was currently driving to a spot about fifteen miles outside of town. Max had called her not too long ago, asking her to meet him there. He didn’t say too much; he only said that he just needed someone to talk to.
In all the years that she’s known Max, he rarely asked for anything like that. Max was usually so calm and reserved in almost every situation, no matter how dire. Even right after his mother’s funeral - when his father was on the verge of an emotional breakdown and there was a young baby sister that needed to be cared for - Max still managed to keep it together in the end. But over the phone he sounded wearied and unnerved; he didn’t sound like himself.
Something big must have rattled his world for him to be like this.
Max called Alicia, because there was nobody else that he rather’d talk to. He had no idea what he was going to tell her yet; he just wanted to be with her right now.
It was already noon and he had come in a little closer to town. The cemetery was about twenty-five miles out and he didn’t want Alicia to know that he had gotten himself that far without driving.
This was not the first time that Max was disillusioned and didn’t have things go according to plan in his life.
It was in the seventh grade that Max discovered he had feelings for his life-long and closet friend, Alicia Anderson. It would take the shy, young teenager five years before acting on these feelings. Partly because she didn’t seem to have those same feelings towards him.
But at the beginning of their senior year of high school, Max finally told her how he felt and asked her out on a date. To his pleasant surprise, she actually said yes. They ended up going on a few more dates and decided to officially become boyfriend and girlfriend. Max couldn’t have been anymore ecstatic at the time.
Max hoped that his life would turn out much like it did for his adopted parents: Date the girl of his dreams in high school, marry her, buy a house in Humbleton, raise a family, and basically live happily ever after. Their one-year dating anniversary couldn’t come soon enough for Max, because that was the day he was going to go out and buy an engagement ring for her. But they never made it that far.
Shortly before their high school graduation, Alicia broke up with him, saying that she just wanted to be friends. Shortly afterwards, Alicia went away with her parents for a two-month vacation as part of her graduation gift.
It was a long two months for Max. He was unsure on how he felt about her during that time. But as soon as he saw her again, the old feelings came flooding back. If he really loved her, then he believed he should put her interests before his. So he feigned not having those kinds of feelings for her anymore and they’ve been back to being close friends ever since.
He had held out hope that maybe one day, when things were different and the timing was right, a relationship like that would work between them. But now he’s not so sure if that can ever happen now.
“Max! Is everything ok?”
He turned around to face the familiar, almond-haired woman who just got out of her car. She was taken aback by how exhausted he looked. She then noticed his truck was no where in sight.
“Did you walk all the way out here?”, she asked with concern.
He hesitated before carefully nodding, “Yeah...”
She came to him and took in the tired, burdened appearance of her old friend.
“Max, what’s happened to you?”
“My dad and I kind of had a... falling out this morning.”
Alicia has never known of a time where Max and his father had any sort of major conflict. At least not one bad enough to make Max like this.
“I learned more about where I came from; who my biological parents were”, he continued, “It wasn’t something I was prepared for. But what really got me is the fact that my dad knew everything, but kept it from me for all these years. Even my mom knew and she went to her grave without ever saying anything to me!”
“Well, what did you find out exactly?”, she asked carefully.
Max was quiet, trying to find the right words to say and figuring out how truthful he could be right now.
“I’m just not ready to talk about it yet”, he said softly.
Seeing the sincerity in his eyes, she nods and gives him a small smile, “That’s ok.”
He returns her faint smile and looks away, lost in his thoughts.
Alicia paused and thought about what she would say next before continuing, “Max, you know your father better than anybody else does...But I know that your father loves you. Very much.”
Max turns his head to meet her gaze once again.
She continued, “And he would never do anything to intentionally hurt you. What your dad did may have been wrong, but I’m sure he was just trying to protect you.”
She smiled a little and took a step closer to him, “And deep down, I bet you know all of this already.”
Max starts to slowly nod in response. He can see her point. The weight of everything he learned today was still there, but he was beginning to think more rationally again.
She was right, a part of him did know that his dad was just trying to protect him. Would he really have taken the news any better, if his parents had actually told him the truth at any point during his childhood? He didn’t know, and he never would so there was no point in dwelling on it.
Though, Max did know that he still needed a little more time and he wasn’t ready to go home just yet.
“So. You need a ride back into town?”, Alicia asked light-heartedly.
Max smiled at her and nodded, “That’d be great. But, I’m not exactly ready to go home.”
She smiled brightly at him, wanting to cheer him up.
“OK then, how about we go over to B&B’s? You look like you could use a little caffeine. And I just got paid, so it’s on me!”
Max allowed himself to temporarily let go of his burdens as he followed Alicia back to her car. All he wanted right now, was just to feel human.