Title: What Was the Name (2/3)
Word Count: 1,743
Disclaimer: Still don't own the movie. Sad, but true.
Summary: Max is pretty messed up after experiencing what war had to offer. He's shut himself off from everything, including himself. Only he doesn't know he's doing it.
A/N: So... This is written weirdly. I know this. That's how I wanted it.
The bartender waved as he closed the door, giving one last uneasy look as you walk away. You sigh as you make your way back to the apartment.
At least the weather's nice. A bit chilly, but that's a welcomed relief from that heat. You hated that heat. It never went away, not even at night, over there... not even now. It's like your body is always overheated, and you can't do a thing to bring it down. It just eats at you, choking you until breath can no longer enter the lungs. You shiver.
Like now, you're boiling. That coat is making things worse. You tried to tell Lucy you didn't need it. Does she listen? Of course not. Women. At least she works a lot during the day. You can't stand her overprotective, maternal, whatever-the-shit-it-is mode she gets into around you. She treats you like a baby. Or a really old guy. Either one works. Like you need to be watched constantly.
Damn, you're at the apartment already. Looking up the building, you sigh. Walking is always a blur. You really don't want to go back to the apartment. Shrugging to yourself, you journey upward. Nobody will be there, you think. That's good, though; people tend get in that damn mode around you. You are not an invalid; you can take care of yourself.
Finally making it to the door, you enter the little pad. Immediately, you begin to rip off the extra clothing you've got on: jacket, shirt, shoes, and socks. Would have tossed the pants, too, but you were yelled at for doing that once. Never done it since. They land helter-skelter in different piles as you walk to the couch, your favorite spot. You just seem to plop there whenever you have nothing to do, which is almost always. The cab company doesn't want you driving too much; they even treat you differently.
You don't know how long you laid there before you heard the door open.
“Hey, ___!” Prudence calls, skipping into the room. You offer a smile for her. Only Prudence never lost to the Must-take-care-of-you-for-some-reason Battle. Prudence's smile faltered a little. Then again, maybe she wasn't perfect.
“C'mon, ___,” she knelt down so she was your eye level, “smile for me.” She placed her hand on your head, ruffling the blonde hair. This confuses you. Hadn't you smiled?
“Look. Here's a smile for you, Prudence.” You look at her and smile. Again.
“Fine, don't smile.” She sighed and scooted you over so that your head was in her lap. Why doesn't she see your smile? This annoys you. “You know – and you probably do – everyone's worried about you.” You roll your eyes. You both just sit there.
“That's the thing,” she said finally, “right there.” She turned your head where you could look into her eyes and traced your features, stopping at the mouth. “They never change.”
You furrow your brow, confused. “What doesn't change?”
She sighed. “Lucy's really worried.” She continues as if she never heard you. That pisses you off.
“Prudence, answer the question!” You glare at her. Prudence just stares at you, that same concerned expression etched onto her face.
“She cries, you know.” She said after a moment, once again ignoring the question. You would have been furious if it weren't for the bit of information she presented. “She thinks no one sees her, but I do.” Prudence began running her fingers through your hair. “It's hard for her. I mean, her brother won't respond to anything anyone does.” What? “That's a hard thing to come to terms with.”
You scowl. “What the hell are you talking about?” You glare back into her concerned eyes. You think you've finally gotten through to her because her hand stops moving. She stares back at you, her brows furrowed. Then, she sighed.
She looked tired. Worn out. “This isn't easy for Lucy.” Prudence looked across the room. “Not only does her brother come back from the war injured and unresponsive – ” You glare at her again. “ – but her lover gets deported.” Your eyes widen. It's suddenly hard to breathe. “That was a shock, too. She didn't even say goodbye to Ju – !” She was cut off as you sit up suddenly.
You scoot as far away from her as you could. Why were you breathing so hard?
“Hey...” Then Prudence is there, kneeling in front of you, shock over her face. “Your eyes are wide... and you're breathing hard!” She exclaims as if it's the best thing in the world. It's not. Far from it, actually. You try to calm yourself. Prudence continues to stare disbelievingly at you.
“What was it, ___?” She grabbed your hands. “What did I say? What made you react?” She squeezed your hands, her voice and face pleading. You just stare at her. Why was she acting so crazy today? Then, something clicked inside Prudence's head; it was visible on her face.
She brought your hands to her chest, hugging them. “Oh, ___, was it because I brought up Ju – !” You didn't let her finish as you immediately stand up, almost knocking her over. You move to the other side of the couch, the farthest you can. It was hard to breathe again. Why?
Prudence stood on the floor, just staring at you. She didn't make to move or to speak as you gain control of your breathing. She just stayed still. So did you. A wave of exhaustion slowly hit you. You repositioned yourself so that you were lying on the couch. Prudence never moved. Just as sleep was about to take you, the phone rang.
Prudence jumped in surprise, then, after composing herself, went to answer. It's probably Lucy, wanting to check up on you. You roll your eyes. “Hello?” There was a pause. A long one. Weird. Normally, Prudence would be trying to calm Lucy down at this point. You turn your head slightly so you can see Prudence. She seemed stunned.
“You son of a bitch!” She yelled, an incredulous laugh escaping her lips. That startled you. “It's about damn time you call me back, you limey bastard.” She was delighted, bouncing a little bit. You raise an eyebrow. Who could be on the phone? You don't know any limeys.
“No, she's not here.” A pause. “Yeah, he is.” A sideways glance at you. You close your eyes before she sees you're awake. “Sleeping.” Worked. “I could wake him...?” A brief pause. “Okay. Then when you get here? Okay.” Someone wanted to talk to you? “Actually, he's in bad shape.” You opened your eyes a bit. Prudence was looking at the floor, her brow creased. “He needs you, you know. Can you come back?” There was a long pause. Then, a smile graced her lips. “Seriously? That's awesome!” She laughed. “When? I'll send someone to get you. Oh, hold on. Let me get paper and pen.”
She reached for a tablet and a crayon. “Okay, shoot.” She wrote down whatever she was hearing, adding little mhmms here and there. She laughed when she was finished. “Who do you think I'm sending?” A pause. “Duh. You two need to see each other. Badly.” She giggled. Then, she sobered up. “No, Lucy can wait. He needs you more.” A pause. An irritated Prudence. “Because he's unresponsive! To anything. No reaction. No words. Just a blank face all the time! We don't know what to do...” She fumed. Then sighed. “You're the only one who can help.” Another pause. “Because I said so, you stupid limey ass.” She smiled. You heard a laugh on the other side of the line. Your blood runs cold. Your eyes widen. So familiar...
“Okay. See you in two days, Jude.” Prudence hung up the phone. She turned and gasped. “What's wrong?” She asked as she rushed to your side. It was so difficult to breathe. Your heart was pounding in your chest, throat, ears, head, everywhere. You hug yourself. It was cold. It was so cold. Where was the ever present heat? “God, you're shivering!” Prudence reached for a blanket and threw it on you. “Come on, Max, tell me what's wrong.” Your eyes widen even more.
You stare at her, panicked. Something was happening. You shivered, pulling the blanket closer. “Max!” Prudence grabbed hold of your shoulders. “Max, what's wrong?” You break away from her, grabbing your head. Make it stop! Everything hurts! God, make it stop! “Tell me!”
You try to get away from her, but she wasn't having it. You couldn't breathe. It was freezing, and everything hurt. She kept saying it. That word, that name. Who was that? Was it you? Everything doesn't make sense. So confusing... Make it stop! Memories came flooding in. Bad memories. Ones you didn't want to remember. “MAX!” Prudence yelled, grabbing your shoulders again.
Then, everything fit.
“Stop!” Max screamed. Prudence let go, shocked at hearing him speak. He panted, his eyes wide. He remembered; he remembered everything. “Stop it!” He whispered, his voice hoarse. He didn't want to remember the war, Jude, who he was, any of it. And now he did. “Just stop it...” He mumbled, tears falling down his cheeks. Prudence embraced him, hugged him close, shushing him.
“Max?” She felt him flinch. At least he was still there. “Calm down, okay? Everything's gonna be alright.” She pushed him back so she could see his face. He looked at her, tears still trickling from his eyes. He was scared. “You have to calm down. Understand?” He nodded like a little kid. “Good.” She smiled and hugged him again.
Max sniffled, hugging Prudence back. Damn everything, he thought. “I'm glad you're back, Max.” Max didn't say anything. “Now, you have to go pick up someone in two days.” Max tilted his head. “No arguing, just go pick him up.” She released him, moving to get the tablet and handed it to him. He read the information, still confused. “You two need to catch up.” She smiled and went into the kitchen area.
Max was left there holding the tablet. Who was he supposed to pick up? He tried to remember the conversation Prudence had on the phone. He winced a bit; his head still hurt. Closing his eyes, he recalled what Prudence had said: a limey bastard, a stupid limey ass, Jude. Max stilled.
He was picking up Jude.
And then Max opened his eyes.