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Posted to the rwguiltypleasures mailing list May 13, 2001

Title:  "First" 1/1 (final version)
Author: Mala
Distribution: GP, ttk.
Rating/Classification: PG-13, angst, Max POV, slashy, language. 
Disclaimer: I don't own them. Grr. Aargh.
Summary: Max.  Michael.  Fight.  UST.  The End. Companion to Mere's "Second.
Dedication: To Mere for the beta read, for helping me find Max's voice, his nuances, and his feelings for Michael. I've never had it so good, lol. You totally, completely, rock!

        You fought with me, again, after Vegas.  Like you always do.  I don't know why, except that you don't back off when you should.  And you're always yelling, and you don't listen. 

        It's you who's always pushing.  Always telling me that you have to make your own decisions, that I'm not your leader...and then you get upset about all the decisions I'm forced to make because I *am* your leader. You don't respect me. You make me so angry.

        And I know why.

        I just can't tell you.

* * *

        I dropped my pen when you didn't use the window. You're not supposed to surprise me. You're not supposed to change the rules of the game or throw out your lines and start improvising in the middle of the performance.

        But, then again, you couldn't know that, could you? You never come over and watch "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" with me anymore. You spend your Thursday nights with Maria, making up for whatever asinine stunt you pulled Thursday morning.

        It seems the improvisation that used to rule your entire life--all that chaos--is reserved for just me now. Because you want to shock me into action.

        It won't work.

        Don't look at me like you expect something, Michael. Don't come in here and give me that look and hover on the edge of sentences you can't finish.

        I can't help that you love me, OK?  I can't help that you...

        That *everyone* loves me and looks up to me and expects me to be something I'm not..  I was just born this way, into this stupid position that makes that gives me power that I don't *want* over you..  I guess that was their...

        No, I KNOW it was their intention. They made me like this.  Made me first in Zan's image...all powerful...but second in everything else. Second best, second rate, second string. A sheep in wolf's clothing.

        And you want to hate me for it...I know you do. But every time you start to tell me so, you stop...and I can see the hurt in your eyes...and I think maybe you can see it in mine....and you can't stay mad. I know you can't. Neither can I...but two minutes later we start all over again...

        I'm just amazed it only takes that long for everything to be at odds between us and I don't even know why you...

        Why you bother...

        When I just stand here, silent, and frowning, like I do every time we fight. When I hold it all in, I don't know why you don't just say something. Why you don't take it back or let it all go...why you don't call me on my act.

        All right, I *do* know why. Because I don't let you. You push and I push back, but I do it with my words, not my fists. I pretend to be calm, I patronize you, I tell you I'm sorry...and that makes it worse. Because you're sick of me, aren't you? You're sick of my crap, my King rap, my whole deal. Well, I am, too, Michael. I am... 

        Sick of the same thing over and over for two lifetimes...and I do remember the first. I remember you all. How Isabel and Tess were everything to you were *more*. How I would've died without you. How I *did* die without you. And I can't tell you that. I can't. Because I...I can't forget it...and I hope you never remember.

        I hope you never remember how we used to wrestle by the we would fall in and float for eons in the cradle of thick, cool, mud.

        I hope you never remember how I cried when they told me I had to be you punched me in the arm and congratulated and then dragged me into your arms and let me sob.

        I hope you never remember the way you whispered "Zan, it's not too soon."

        I hope you never remember that I was your first.

        That you were mine.

        Yeah, fuck me.

        F-U-C-K me. I can see it in your eyes. You think I'm a conceited asshole who always has to be in charge.

        And you're right.

        You should've realized I was just going to stick to the script like always. You know me too well. You know it's not worth it. Somewhere deep inside you, you know that it was worth it once, but not now. That I won't give you what you need.

        I understand what you mean to say when you get defensive and stutter and swear and look at me with dark brown anger. It's from you that I've learned anger isn't red, you know. I know that you think it's not your fault, that you can't help how you feel about me....that you love me. You think it's ingrained, beyond your control.

        It may be beyond your control, but it isn't beyond mine.

        I can't feel like this. Somewhere inside you, you know that. There's too much. I can't let you know how much I care...I can't make the same mistakes I made then...I have to be strong and it's not my fault that you can't do the same.

        Just let me try and make this square between us.

        Let me fall back into our pattern. I apologize and you grunt and go your own way. Back to Maria. To the grill at the CrashDown. To the things you in this life that you *can* taste and touch and make your own.

        You're not sorry you came here. I know you're not. And I know you want to at least *pretend* we're okay. You want to take that much back with you even if you won't admit it.

        I have to do this. I have to tell you I mean it, that I'm sorry for ignoring you and I'll make it right. That this is how things are...who we are now. Don't look at me that way...DON'T....with all that betrayal and sadness that makes me want to break down and tell you I still love you, that I'll always need you...I have to FINISH the rote...I'll come over...we'll talk, we'll play Final Fantasy and keep pretending...everything will be fine. So fucking fine.

        Just tell me I can come by whenever...that you'll be waiting.

        Don't worry, I won't bring Liz. She has no place between us.

        And I can't bring Zan. Neither does he.


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