Loving Sam Lynch
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Any errors are mine, I apologize. I'll get this edited sometime. It's easier now, just to get out to you lovely boys and gals.
It turns out it wasn't too late to pay Jim a visit, but as a result, Max was exhausted the next day. He was yawning and trying very hard to contain them all morning as he worked on a problem. His eyes itched a bit and the sunlight hurt them when he went to class.
Max yawned fastidiously on his way out of the engineering building two hours later after a rather boring lecture. He saw red-hair in the distance on his way to the library later that afternoon, but it wasn't his red-head, he mused. Just as that thought came to him he felt a tap on his shoulder. He stopped mid-step and turned. There, the redhead stood, big smile and all on his face. His hair was brushed off his face and stood up a little at the front, giving him a boyish appearance.
"Xander." He stated needlessly, realizing he was an inch or so shorter than Xander.
"Max." Xander replied in kind. "I sort of figured I'd be hearing from you." He said cheekily in his plain manner, being the cut-right-to the chase sort of guy he was. Max wondered if he had any patience at all.
He looked away from those green eyes and decided to be frank. "Yeah about that...I don't think it's such a good idea."
"Why not?" Again, Max blinked at the outright question. Sometimes the boys he knew could be so over-dramatic that he was surprised at the open manner with which Xander conducted himself.
"I'm not sure it's wise." He hedged.
"Are you in a committed relationship?"
"Are you a convicted felon?"
"Are you dying?"
"Uh, no to that too..."
"I can't think of anything else right now, but that gives me no reasons why we can't get together." Xander said bluntly. "And for the record, the icy thing is a turn-on so not even that is a problem."
Max wasn't good with sharing his feelings. "Look, trust me when I say that I'm really bad for you." He made sure he stared into Xander's green eyes for emphasis.
The other guy paused, seeming thoughtful, and then he shrugged. "Okay, I trust you."
Max almost recoiled. "That easily?" Then he shook his head and laughed. "I don't know if I should be insulted."
"Here." Xander passed him another piece of paper. "I figured you'd lost it or something."
"No I threw it out." He tucked it into his pocket.
"That's really sweet and insulting at the same time." Xander said, grinning widely.
"I guess we've both got that covered then." Max said. "Listen, I have to go study. I'll call you though. I'd like to be friends I guess."
"Well don't be so sure of yourself, Shirley." Xander rolled his eyes.
Max grinned. "It's the ice." He explained. "I don't make friends all that easily."
"Ah. I'm flattered, really. I've got to go too though. Make sure you call me, Max." he added before heading off.
And Max did call him, later that night in fact. Of course, Xander insisted on coming over and who was he to argue with a will so strong? He relented and was pleased he did so because he found he enjoyed Xander's company very much. The sheer exuberance, the vitality each act possessed gripped Max. He wanted nothing more than to be in the presence of such energy.
Max's room felt sterile, cold and blank—much like him—usually. With Xander there, the walls seemed less stark, the floor less hard, and the room less small. He found himself opening up in a way he had never done with another human being, not even Sam, because although Sam knew the blueprint of his soul through and through, overtime he'd begun distancing himself.
"So what's your big deal?" Xander asked eventually when they were seated comfortably in his room. He sat at the foot of the bed and Xander stretched himself out over the bed his room-mate neglected to use because he'd now dropped out.
"I don't have a `big deal," Max said.
"Please, you're not the lying type," Xander maintained.
"That's untrue," Max insisted.
"Lying by omission then," Xander relented.
"Alright, fair enough," Max said. "I don't have a `deal' though."
"Then where did that chip on your shoulder come from because it's ginormous!" Xander half-joked.
"Let's just say that I don't have a lot to be happy for," Max replied, not liking his words. Especially not liking the way they painted him as weak and unhappy—pathetic really.
Xander didn't joke this time though, much to his surprise. "It's a guy isn't it?" He asked ruefully.
"You could say that," Max admitted lightly. "Nothing to get worked up over, I've never harbored any expectations of any kind. This is life for me."
Xander looked at him in a way that told him he didn't quite like what he saw or heard. It was a gaze far too knowing than he would have liked. Finally, Xander said, "Well I won't make it worse by forcing you to talk about it. I'll be your friend. You could definitely use one, Chip."
"What?" Xander asked coyly. "It's all I can see when I look at you! It's not my fault the word slips out."
Max grinned. "Alright, Red. If that's how you want to play it, that's how it'll be."
In the ensuing weeks, Max and Xander (Chip and Red, really) formed a friendship that wasn't unique—by far—but still Max could feel the difference it made in him. In Xander, he'd found someone he could respect enough not to fuck with—literally. He considered Xander his only other real friend besides Sam. The former was further from him now then he'd ever been, despite the fact that they spoke on the phone occasionally and even hung out.
A wall had been built up between them and Max wasn't brave enough to break it down because he knew it had been built up by his dysfunction. Max could hear the slight strain in Sam's voice when they spoke. He could sense the change in their outright camaraderie and he knew he was hurting his precious Sam. And though that was a blessing in some dark form—the fact that he could cause hurt to his Sam still—he never liked it when Sam was unhappy.
Occasionally he'd completely withdraw into himself and force a happy external image for Sam, just to see that light in Sam's eyes again that came when things were okay between them, when he was certain Max was alright. It drained him more than ever, and he ran to Xander after because wit him he could be that ugly painful person.
Xander never asked questions, although there was always this speculative look in his eyes. He just let him in and grabbed him something to eat, talking about all sorts of nonsense to make it alright again. Max began to crave it, the way Xander tried to fix him again, because he was really broken. He knew it was all for him, just like the way Xander always had healthy food on hand because he knew Max was a nutrition freak. Sam never even made him eggs anymore...
Xander wasn't always available though, and it was during those times that he'd feel compelled to call Jim. He always came through and made it worth his while without getting all wishy-washy on him and asking him to spend the night. He hated when they did that because the thought of waking up to their faces honestly made Max sick. Once he was done, he usually got out of there as fast as he could.
He'd known Xander for a month or so when he went home after one of those particular nights. He was quiet and composed and really withdrawn into himself. He didn't see anyone at first and walked slowly down the hall, so when he looked up and saw Xander, he blinked.
"Where have you been?" Xander asked rather lightly, too softly. Those knowing eyes perused his form, taking in the slightly rumpled red t-shirt. He stood with his arms crossed, his head turned slightly toward him, regarding him with an inexplicable expression.
"Out." He replied, making no moves to open his door.
"I know that, Chip. Where did you go? You've got that major ice-box look on your face again."
Max sighed. In such a short time, the red-head could read him so well. Xander was right, he didn't like to lie. "I went to see someone, alright?" He said.
"I can tell." Xander plucked at Max's shirt. Max didn't blush, didn't blink, and didn't look away from Xander's green eyes. "Did lover-boy pull through then?" He asked, his voice lethally silky. Their eyes met and held. Blue against green.
Max was genuinely flabbergasted. He looked away, moved Xander and opened his door, throwing his key on some surface or the other. He then collapsed into a chair, feeling entirely exhausted. Xander shut the door behind him with his foot and leaned against it.
"Well?" He asked.
"What do you want me to say? No, he didn't. He wouldn't, because you see, he has no idea," Max said, waving a hand as if to say: `whatever.'
Xander wasn't fooled. His expression gentled and he sat across from him. "Listen," He said softly, staring into his eyes for emphasis. "Do you think it's wise for you to be...well fucking around?"
Max was slightly amused because Xander actually seemed to be reserving his thoughts for once instead of belting out the first thing that came to mind. "I don't know what you mean by asking that, but trust me it's all good," Max said, easily telling the lie because he believed it himself.
Xander seemed frustrated now. "Max, I don't think you realize it, but..." He paused as if searching for the right words—another unusual thing to be doing. "Your behavior isn't entirely...well, healthy, okay?"
Max laughed outright. "I know." He said as the laughter faded from his throat, the smile slipping off his face. He'd admitted it for the first time and he didn't like it, he thought, frowning.
"Oh." Xander recoiled as if bitten. He hadn't thought Max would admit it and he'd felt there would be convincing on his part. "Well..." He was at a loss for words.
"I assure you that my neurotic self is alright." Max said wryly, reaching across and touching Xander's hand, lingering there. Xander's eyes went immediately to where Max's fingers were as if he were completely taken off guard. Max never touched him. He looked up into Max's eyes and saw tenderness. He found himself smiling.
"You touched me." He breathed.
Max forced himself to appear unruffled and not quickly remove his fingers. He shrugged. "Yeah, I'm touching you." They both looked back at his fingers. Xander adjusted his hand slowly so that his fingers were intertwined with Max's, and that confused Max because it felt like compassion was pouring from Red's hand to his soul. He was frightened he'd contaminate Xander.
"I'm glad." Xander said simply, clearly at a loss for words for once in his life. Then he was back to normal and the moment passed.
"Cut the sensitive act, Chip or I'll begin to think you're not a human cooler. How will I keep cool in the summer, then?"
Max was silent for a moment, allowing the moment to pass. He felt a loss he couldn't comprehend. Then he smiled and removed his hand. "I wouldn't dream of it. I don't know what the heat would do to your temper, Red."
"It comes with the territory." He pointed to his red hair and green eyes and shrugged.
"I figured that was it." Max said wryly. "What else could it be?"
"Shut up." Xander laughed.
"That's: `please shut up.'" Max corrected and felt a pang because that reminded him of his Sam.
He'd caught that? Damn. "It was nothing." Max waved it off.
"Max, you don't fool me!" This was said with a dramatic voice.
Then everything went silent because the front door rattled, opened and in walked Sam.
He was the last person Max was expecting. Sam had barging in rights though, so it was alright. Except for one little thing: For some inexplicable reason he'd wanted to keep his Redhead and his Sam separate and that desire was about to be shattered.
Sam's eyes narrowed as he took in their seated figures. He closed the door behind him, turned to Max and smiled in that way of his. All bright white teeth, lean cheeks and flashing grey eyes. He'd gotten a haircut too, Max noticed. "Don't I get a hello, buddy?"
Max smiled because even through the pain, Sam made him happy just by breathing. "Sam! What are you doing here?" He finally said, noticing how he was pointedly ignoring Xander. Xander had noticed it too and wasn't too happy by the looks of it. Oh great, Max thought, you'd think Sam's desire to drive away any guy in Max's life would have dissipated a little.
"I was in the neighbourhood," He explained. Their universities were fairly close to each other. "I thought I might drop in to see my reclusive best friend, but judging from the looks of things," He finally flashed a glance at Xander, "He's not as reclusive as I thought." Max could read behind the smile and knew Sam was a little angry.
Max forced himself not to respond to that anger, not to get affected by it. Sam didn't have a right to know every damned thing. Who was he kidding? Instead, Max decided to do the polite thing. "Xander, this is Sam Lynch. Sam, this is Xander Davenport."
"Xander," Sam repeated, rolling the word around on his tongue. "Is that short for Alexander?" Max was proud of Sam for containing his mocking voice and being a little friendly.
"He's a genius, isn't he, Max?" Xander laughed, brushing his fore-arm in way that was all too proprietary. Sam had noted it judging from the sharpening of that gaze. It looked at him then and demanded to know who the hell this guy was. Max didn't allow skin-privileges easily. Why was this guy touching him so freely? Something was different this time.
"He sure is." Max said honestly. "Grab a seat, Sam or must I allow you to do so?" The joke was easily made and it caused Sam to smile.
"I think," Sam sat down right beside him, "You're mistaking yourself with me."
Max grinned, meanwhile Xander looked confused. "Inside joke," Max explained.
"Ah, I see. So...how long have you two known each other?" Xander asked, his gaze settling on Sam and returning to Max's, he saw in minutes what Sam hadn't seen in years. Max returned the stare, raised his chin. `Shut up,' his expression said.
"Since we were five actually. I'm surprised Max hasn't told you about me. You must not have known him for long." Sam said easily, leaning back and making himself at home.
"Not as long as you have, but I think with Max, a month or so of friendship usually means you won't be tossed aside." Xander said. Max was a little surprised at how proprietary Xander was acting, although he gave him a little smile to let him know it was alright.
Sam was taken aback a little. He looked at Max questioningly. "A couple of months? Are you guys..." He wasn't sure he liked the sound of this. He didn't like Xander either, didn't like the way he touched Max and looked at him like he cared when he knew all Xander cared about was Max's face and not the beautiful person inside. Who the hell did he think he was?
"No, we're just friends." Max answered him this time. "Aren't we, Xander?"
"Of course," Xander said with false cheer. "Max cares too much about me to mess around." He added.
Max was composed most of the time but this time he actually felt his jaw drop. He hadn't realized Xander saw through him that easily. He didn't entirely like how he was saying all these things in front of Sam either.
Sam looked at him a little amusedly, knowing that Max never cared about anyone. No one but him. "I suppose if you feel that way..." He said politely, flashing a smile.
"What was it you said the second time I gave you my number?" Xander asked him, ignoring Sam's remark entirely. The little devil, Max thought, knowing he remembered exactly what he'd said. Xander and Sam were both looking at him expectantly now.
He gritted his teeth. "I said that I wasn't good for you."
"Something like that." Xander agreed. "You're such a sweetheart."
Sam's brows knit together; he changed his opinion about this Xander character and Max. It seemed like Max actually did care. Max was being a sweetheart? His Max? His Max was cool and reserved and as frosty as an ice-princess except when Sam made him smile, because only he could do that after all.
Why hadn't Max told him about Xander? Why didn't Max tell him anything anymore? So many questions and no answers.
"Well, I have to go now. Call me the next time you feel the urge to..." Xander trailed off, glancing surreptitiously at Sam. Max felt like laughing at Red's childish antics. Really, was this a competition of some sort? `Who knows Max better?'
"I did call you." He said just as easily. "You didn't answer. I will do whatever I feel like though, alright Red?" He forced a smile. "Now, scram."
"Jeez, Chip, it's a warm night, thaw a little alright?" And then he was out the door.
"Chip?" Sam wondered aloud, as soon as Xander was out the door—much in the same tone of voice Max had used the first time.
Max laughed at the look on his face and shrugged. "Chip." It was all he said in response.
"I don't get it." Sam frowned.
"It doesn't matter."
"Ask him." Max shrugged. "He started it."
"Your name is Max." Sam said a little stupidly. Max shoved him forward. They went into his room.
"Thank you for reminding me of the fact, Samuel Lynch."
"You know, I may not be seventeen but that voice still has the ability to scare me." Sam grinned and fell back onto his bed.
"Unless you're planning on punching someone behind my back, I think we're good." Max said lightly, throwing a knowing looking at Sam.
"I might be." Sam muttered darkly.
"What was that?" Max asked, grinning.
"Nothing." Sam returned a little loudly.
"It better be nothing, Sam, because I don't want to hear Xander telling me you tried to punch him. It wouldn't be too good for you to try. That guy is nuts."
Sam scoffed. "You actually think I'll get hurt this time and not your little...person."
"Sam, Xander is not little, he's taller than you." Max said evenly. "Besides, I'm not dating him."
"But you'd like to be." It was a fact.
Max only shrugged. "Maybe. I'm not going to though."
Sam felt a little relieved but also a little apprehensive. "Why not?" At least if they fucked, the guy would get lost sooner rather than later.
"I like Xander. He's my friend."
Sam scowled and Max wanted to smile and stroke his skin He didn't like lying to Sam but what else could he say? Xander made him feel less broken.
"How's Annabelle?" He asked instead. He was genuinely interested.
"Why's it always come to her?" Sam asked gruffly. He was tossing a little paperweight around. Max hoped it didn't hit him in the eye.
"Because she's the love of your life, brute, that's why."
Sam grinned at that, and then became sulky again. "I'm not too sure about that." He said matter-of-factly. "Something isn't right...I dunno..."
Max felt his heart break a little more. Oh, Sam. Oh, sweet, Sam. Would he ever figure out what that `something' was? The love they shared was just too all encompassing to be compared to any other love for anyone else. "Maybe it's in your head, maybe you're expecting too much." Max suggested gently.
"I don't know. I don't think so, but it just isn't right. I love her, man, don't get me wrong, but there's always something...off." Max seemed slightly agitated now.
Max didn't know what to say. "It'll be alright." He said instead.
"I know." Sam grinned. "Besides, if we break up, you'll be there to make sure I get back up and running again."
"Of course," Max replied whole-heartedly. Was there any doubt?
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