Title: Remember When It Rained
Tag/Summary: They say in every relationship, there is one who loves the other more. Max wished she was the one who did.
REMEMBER WHEN IT RAINED
They say in every relationship there is always one who loves the other more.
Max wished she was the one who did.
“Hey, Maxie, how about we play a lil’ hooky and spend some quality time together?” grinned Alec, wiggling his eyebrows playfully at her. “Just the two of us, whaddya say?”
“I can’t, Alec,” she rolled her eyes at him. “I’ve got so much work to do. You know that.”
He pouted that boyish pout of his.
How many rain checks had she actually accumulated throughout the year? How many “next times” had she promised? Max’s lips curled bitterly. Too many to count. Now, she wished she had actually said ‘yes.’ Even just once.
“C’mon, Alec…we really don’t have time for this.”
He was holding a tray with two bowls of cereal on top. “There is always time for a little breakfast in bed with me.”
She frowned at him. “I’m gonna be late.”
“So?” he drawled lazily. “The whole world ain’t falling apart without your mighty leadership…at least not in the next hour or so.” He grinned.
“A-lec! I’m serious.”
“You’re always serious.”
There had been that tone in his voice, just the tiny creep of sadness that had her heart skipping a beat—not the kind that made her feel giddy, but the kind that made her feel dreadful. She had leaned over and placed a soft kiss on his lips.
“How about just coffee?” she whispered.
He had grinned from ear to ear. “Coffee’s a start.”
Except, she realized, she had never had time for more than just coffee.
Time was an equalizer. Time was relative. Time was all she ever had. A minute of pleasure was never enough. In agony, it was unbearable. And yet, it was the same sixty seconds of time. Max wished now that she had taken a minute to make a memory that would have lasted forever.
“Why don’t you come with me?”
She shrugged and looked over her shoulder at the desk covered with blueprints and papers. “I can’t leave now. Zip and I are planning tomorrow’s supply run. I’ll just see you later tonight, okay?”
He had looked at her, a long searching look that had her feeling bare to her very soul. She had smiled at him, a smile that wavered because she knew that the right answer had not been the answer she had given him. Someday, the time would come when she would finally be able to give him the right answer. For now, she had pulled him towards her and kissed him.
She kissed him long and hard, her mouth slanting over his. He crushed her to him until she was on her toes, their bodies pressed from thigh to shoulder. She poured her soul into that kiss, everything she felt that she could never say out loud.
I’m sorry, said that kiss. I know I’m hurting you, her heart had whispered.
And he had understood. When he pulled away, there was a look in his eye that she never understood. She hadn’t asked. Instead, she watched him get onto his bike and roar out of the gates of Terminal City. She would never know now.
Just like she didn’t know where he had gone. She hadn’t even thought to ask.
“Max, where did he go?”
“I…I don’t know!”
He said so much, but somehow, she heard so little. Max wished she had paid more attention. She wished she had stopped long enough to listen. She wished she had paused long enough to ask.
Then, maybe they would have found him sooner.
Maybe then, they wouldn’t have been too late.
They said it was the rain.
A truck had skidded on the slick road and careened towards a car. The car had swerved right into his bike. It had pushed him and his bike right off the bridge.
He had been knocked unconscious. He had drowned.
Such a simple series of events. Such a simple explanation. It was just the rain. It was just an accident.
Max watched through the glass of the ER as they tried to get his heart to start beating again. She watched through glass as they tried to bring him back. She watched through glass as they failed.
She watched through glass as he died.
She had always thought she was strong. She had always thought that she had been built—designed—to last through anything. She had thought she had it all dialed down. But she had never counted on the death of the one she couldn’t live without.
She didn’t know if she had screamed when one of the doctors had looked up from his body and looked her straight in the eye, and then slowly shook his head. She just didn’t know anymore. She collapsed against the wall. Her legs gave out and she crumpled to the floor. She gasped for air, but her lungs wouldn’t work. Her stomach heaved, as if recoiling and rejecting the knowledge that Alec was dead.
He was gone.
Her whole body felt numb and cold, as if her heart had stopped beating, had stopped flushing blood through her system. Her throat clenched and she couldn’t catch a breath. Her eyes couldn’t see any more than the white sterile floors. She didn’t know if she blinked.
She wished she had the strength to cry. But she had nothing left. He was gone.
Max walked into their apartment hours later, dripping wet from the rain.
His scent from the morning’s shower still hung in the air.
He had smelled the same as she had leaned over to lay her head against his one last time. She used to lay her head against his at night, sometimes her cheek would touch his, sometimes her lips would brush his skin, sometimes all she needed was the warmth of his touch. But tonight, his skin had been cold.
Max raised a hand to touch her cheek. She was cold now, too.
Her eyes found his unfinished cup of coffee on the counter. Her own untouched cup sat next to his. He had bragged that it was the best coffee he’d made yet. He had poured her that cup. But this morning, she hadn’t even had time for coffee. She reached over and finger carefully brushed his cup. The dark liquid rippled slightly. It was cold now.
Just like the hand she had clung to for a moment that had stretched on to forever. The hand that no longer held hers back.
She had never known how much she had needed him until then. His hands had never been cold. His hands always held hers back. She used to cling to his hand on those rare moments of uncertainty—knowing for sure that his would always wrap around hers, fingers entwined. It was the one thing she was always sure about.
But tonight, she had begged him to hold her hand.
Please, she had whispered into his ear. There had been no response.
Please, she had tried again. Please, please, please. She whispered like a mantra, as if it would change the fact that he would never hold her hand again. As if he could hear her and just come back.
Max fought the tears that were now burning the backs of her eyes. She had cried at the sight of him. When the doctors at the hospital had allowed her to see him, she had walked up to the table and almost didn’t recognize him.
He had been so still.
Alec was never still. His eyes danced, his mouth expressed his emotions, his hands waved in the air; he never stopped talking. Alec had always been full of life—even when he was just standing next to her, he had pulsed with life.
And yet, he had been utterly still. Completely silent. Just gone.
Her tears blinded her now and she tripped over a pair of his shoes on the way to the bedroom. He had kicked them off this morning, deciding not to wear this pair after all. He had chosen his scuffed black boots instead.
Max felt a moment of sheer panic when she realized she didn’t know where his shoes were now. They had taken his shoes at the hospital, and she didn’t know where they were. Her sobs choked her as panic rose. She had lost his boots.
Just like she had lost him somewhere along the way.
She kicked his other pair of shoes out of her way, frustration and sorrow fueling her anger. She stumbled into their bedroom and stopped at the doorway, realizing she couldn’t move forward.
Oh God, his clothes still lay scattered all over the place. Jeans, shirts, jackets, towels. She gingerly picked up the jacket he had hung over the back of the doorknob. He had wanted to wear this jacket today. She had told him to wear a heavier one instead. Because it was going to rain today.
She had picked out his clothes to make sure they were right for the rain.
Now, she had to pick the right clothes to bury him in.
And she just didn’t know where to begin.
In a blind rush, she flung the closet door open. It was a mess in there. His clothes and her clothes all jumbled up together. She couldn’t separate them through the blur of tears. She turned her back to the closet and looked all around her.
It was a mess everywhere. His scent and hers clung to everything. His damp towel overlapped hers on the bathroom rung; his toothbrush leaned over hers in the cup by the sink. His sunglasses lay haphazardly on the nightstand next to her half-eaten pop tart. His gray leather jacket hung next to her black one. His life was so much a part of hers.
He was everywhere, and yet, he was gone.
Knees suddenly weak, chest so tight she had to fight for breath, Max released a choked sob that broke the deafening silence in the room. She crumpled onto the bed, sheets still rumpled from this morning. She stared at the empty side next to hers.
His pillow still had that dent in the middle, where his head often lay at night. She reached over, her palm searching for his heat. Of course, it was only the cold that greeted her palm. Her fingers turned into a fist, wrapping around the pillowcase. She pulled it towards her and violently gathered it into her arms. She hugged it tightly and with loud, incoherent sounds, she cried.
She cried because his head would never lay on this pillow again.
Because there would never be an “again.” There would never be a “next time” like she had promised so many times. There would never be time to cash those rain checks. She would never have that chance to say “yes” just once.
They had run out of time.
Time was relative. Time was all they ever had. Unbidden her eyes saw the clock on the wall, the hands of time standing watch over her. The first minute he had kissed her, she had wanted it to last forever. The minute his heart had stopped, time stretched to eternity.
Now, there were no more minutes to turn into forever. She would never hear his voice again, and she would never have the chance to listen.
Most of all…
“I love you, Maxie.”
She had kissed him lightly and snuggled into his embrace. “Good night, Alec.”
They say in every relationship, there is always one who loves the other more. Max wished she had been the one who did.
“I love you, too,” she whispered. But there was only silence, and the rain splashing against her window.
Title inspired by the Josh Groban song of the same title.