Loving Sam Lynch


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-Sky_lights (Sky_lights@hotmail.com)

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.


Chapter 4



            There were times when Max felt a little whole again, when he'd look around him and see something other than dense fog. He didn't do anything particularly exciting with his life. That was Sam's scene. He studied, ate, and amused himself with little things like his computer and his favourite TV show. His social dates were reserved for Xander and Max, sometimes separately and sometimes together. Sam made it a point to intervene when he called Max and discovered Xander was there.

            The dynamic between the two was amusing to Max because they were like wildcats clawing at each other--albeit verbally, not physically. Apparently they were competing for something. Because of this, even a month after they'd met, they still didn't seem to be getting along.

            By Christmas time, a fresh coat of snow graced the landscape and Max was looking forward to going home and spending the holidays with Sam and their respective families. Xander was heading to Nova Scotia to spend the holidays with his own family and he wasn't aware of what Annabelle intended to do.

            That is, until she called him. He was surprised to hear from her at first, being busy packing since they were leaving the following day, but he contained his shock.

            "Annabelle, what can I do for you?" He replied, slick as a melting icicle.

            "I'm sorry to bother you, Max," She sighed, sounding weary, "But I need to speak to you."

            "Sure," Max replied, feeling himself tense up.

            "Do you mind meeting me for coffee in, say, an hour?"

            "Uh, no, I suppose not."

            She named a place. Max agreed to meet her, having an idea as to what this would concern and not feeling entirely up to it.

            When he arrived exactly an hour later at the coffee-shop mentioned, she was already seated and had a latté in her hands. She looked a bit apprehensive as he sat down. They didn't exchange pleasantries or hellos. Max, because it wasn't what he did, and her because she seemed very nervous.

            "Aren't you going to order anything?" She asked in a clear voice, contradicting her frazzled expression.

            Max shook his head. "Tell me what you came to say, Annabelle."

            She bit her lip, a sure sign of nerves. "I'm not sure how to begin."

            Max gestured vaguely. "Try. We both know what you'd like to say to me, so there's no need for the nerves."

            She smiled waveringly. "You like to cut to the chase don't you?"

            "I see no need to beat around the bush. Does Sam know you're meeting me?"

            "No," She said quickly. "He doesn't know anything."

            "I see."

            Annabelle's blue eyes flashed. "Don't judge me. How could I tell him what was going through my head? You of all people should understand."

            How magnificent she looked in anger! "I'm not judging you, Annabelle, believe me," Max said softly.

            Annabelle took a deep breath, relaxing a bit. "I'm...yeah, sorry. I'm just a bit..."

            "It's alright. I understand." Max assured her.

            "You're not as cold as you seem," Annabelle breathed, cocking her head to side as if trying to see through him.

            "That's beside the point." Max felt the need to point out.

            Annabelle pushed her cup away. "Yes, you're quite right. I came here to talk to you about...Sam."

            Max really didn't understand women sometimes. Of course she came here to talk to him about Sam, they'd established that without words so why feel the need to say it? "Alright..." He prodded, "Now, about Sam?"

            "Yes...it's not easy to say because I love him so much...but...I'm going to leave him, Max," Annabelle said, her voice breaking towards the end. Her eyes filled with unshed tears, looking for the life of her like a troubled Greek goddess with pale hair.

            Max felt the world become icy all of a sudden. He refused to be swayed into compassion by her emotion. "I see. What brought this on?" He asked with chilly quietness.

            "Oh, it's hopeless. Don't act like you don't understand, Max. I see the way you look at him." Annabelle's normally clear voice was suffused with emotion.

            "I don't hide what I feel for any other reason but to protect him, Annabelle. And believe me he will never know," Max said honestly. "I don't keep false hopes and dreams." He released a sigh of weariness--though he wasn't surprised by this confrontation. In truth he'd been expecting it from the way she looked at him.

            Annabelle's eyes misted at that. "I know that, I knew it the entire time but it only makes it worse to see how much you really care for him. Don't you see how much he cares for you in return?"

            Max smiled sadly. "Of course I do," He said with a little warmth so she wouldn't think he was goading her.

            "He doesn't even realize how hopelessly he loves you. It's beyond friendship, beyond...beyond gender and sex! He is in love with you in such a blind way it's heartbreaking." Annabelle seemed more in control now; she met his gaze without blinking.

            "I know," Max said again. Because he did; because he had no idea what else he could say.

            "I'm such a jerk feeling so hopeless when I think about what you might be feeling knowing all of this and having to just...sit back and watch it play out," Annabelle said contritely.

            "I'm alright," Max said yet again. He wondered how often he'd have to say that in this lifetime.

            Annabelle was silent for a moment. "Will you ever...?"

            "No." Max shook his head. "Never. I couldn't." He wouldn't initiate something with Sam. Ever. Because Sam just didn't see him like that: As a sexual being.

            Annabelle nodded. "I must be selfish but I want something like what you guys have, I don't want to be caught in between it."

            "That's not selfish, Annabelle. Part of me really hates what you're going to do because you're going to hurt him...but I understand." Max relented, looking past her while he hardened his expression. He couldn't fault her need for true love.

            "Max, do you think he'll hate me?" She asked with such despair that his gaze veered back.

            "No," Max replied.

            "Do you hate me?" She asked, quieter now, more controlled.

            "No." Max said again, meaning it. "I don't hate you. You're a strong woman." Because she was, because she needed to hear it. He felt a little awkward but the tremulous smile on her face made it okay. 

            They sat there for several minutes. Her coffee went untouched and her arms wrapped about herself as if seeking warmth. He stared at her regal profile while she gazed out the frost covered window, thinking.

            How would Sam feel about this? He couldn't bear the thought of Sam hurting.

            Eventually, Annabelle came to a conclusion of some sort because she turned her face and looked at him with a calculated expression. They silently concluded the meeting and stood together.

            "One thing, Annabelle," He said on their way out. "Don't do it right now...it's Christmas and..."

            "I won't." She bit her lip again. "After, after you guys get back, then I'll do it. And, Max?"


            "I'll pray for you."

            Max nodded wordlessly and chose not to reply. He didn't think prayer would do anything but thought he might keep that to himself. Didn't people always say it was the thought that counted?

            On the drive home, he played their conversation over in his head, confused as to how he should feel and wondering why he hurt. Surely that wasn't normal. It wasn't like she'd broken up with him. Sam was strong, he'd recover, Max assured himself. He'd be there to make sure.

            When he got back to his room, Xander was waiting for him. "Hey," Max said quietly, his thoughts still jumbled because of Annabelle's visit.

            "What happened?" Xander asked immediately although Max was certain he'd betrayed no emotion. Perhaps that was the problem, he thought wryly.

            "Annabelle asked me out for coffee." Max didn't look up to see Xander's expression but resumed packing neatly. He saw Xander sit on his bed from the corner of his eye.

            "What did she say?" Xander asked, not liking where this was going.

            "Things that aren't mine to tell others." Max responded. It was Sam's business and he wasn't going to tell anyone, not even Xander.

            If Xander was hurt, he didn't show it. He nodded once curtly and changed the subject. "I came to say bye before we leave tomorrow."

            "I was going to call you," Max assured him.

            "I know but I finished packing so figured I might come over here," Xander told him, watching his fluid movements as he folded his clothes and placed them in a small suitcase. When Max didn't make any move to reply he went on. "Two weeks off, huh? It'll be so relaxing."

            Max smiled then and stopped his movements, turning to look briefly at Xander. "I'll keep in touch, Red."

            Xander scoffed but a telling heat suffused his face. "I'll be glad to get away a while and not see your stony highness."

            "Right. Well, I'll stick to email then," Max answered, then added, "In case of an emergency."

            "You can call me, dumb-ass." Xander rolled his eyes.

            "I know," Max said, throwing the last of his things in before closing it tight. "You gave me your parents' number weeks ago too, so you wouldn't forget."

            "Yeah but that's only if you can't reach me on my cell, okay?" Xander confirmed.

            "Gotcha," Max said, laughing.

            "Let's eat out," Xander announced. He stood. "I'll call a few friends too if you don't mind."

            "I don't know..." Max wasn't too keen on the idea.

            "Oh come on, they've been dying to meet you!"

            Max thought about it. "I'm not good with people."

            "They're really very nice," Xander said.

            "I'm not scared, Red." Max rolled his eyes. "As surprising as it may seem, the thought of speaking to strangers doesn't result in me trembling and shaking."

            "I'm more scared for them to be honest," Xander admitted, tongue in cheek. "I don't think they've ever met the likes of you."

            "I didn't think so," Max retorted dryly. "I'll come--although on one condition." He held up a finger.


            "You will not tell them an exaggerated story of how we met and how nice I was." Max said. Xander blushed and that told a whole story right there.

            "Never mind, then," Max said, rolling his eyes.

            "You won't come?"

            Max sighed. "I will, I will. Seriously, though you've got to promise you'll stop containing all of these...feelings about me, Xander. Can't you see it won't do the both of us any good?"

            "Why not? I'm better for you than Sam ever will be. The fool has no idea how you even feel," Xander exclaimed loudly.

            The thing about his red-head was that although he saw Max's part of the story, he seemed to be unable to grasp how Sam felt for him in return like Annabelle did. For that, Max was thankful because if Xander saw it, he couldn't trust the rowdy red-head to be tactful, not to mention mindful of everything Max had done to protect Sam.

            "Don't ignore me. You know I'm right. Because of me you haven't even called all those guys you like to mess around with." Xander continued.

            "That's not true," Max replied calmly. "I don't want to give you false hope for anything because you need to drop it right now before it gets worse.  I know it may sound cold but I don't play games."

            "You're missing the point. When was the last time you called Jim?"

            Max counted to three. "Not that long ago," He retorted.

            "Liar," Xander said vehemently.


            "Yes!" Xander said a little desperately this time, grabbing his elbow and tugging so that Max faced him. He searched his face for any expression but Max did what he did best, look blank. "Don't lie to me."

            He had to this time, for Xander's sake, he had to. Xander didn't deserve any of this.

            Max finally saw what they'd been leading up to. The fact was that Max was broken beyond repair and always would be. No one deserved to be loved in half measures and that was how it would be with anyone else for him. He loved Sam too deeply for anything else to work up to a similar potential.

            He loved Xander in a different way, he knew it now, and yet even in its purity it didn't make him feel whole, but rather more aware of his missing soul (whatever that was supposed to be). He understood what Sam meant when he said his relationships always felt `off'.                           

            "I'm not lying," Max whispered brokenly. He was not able to look away from the depth of Xander's pure green gaze.

            "Max, you have to give us a chance. Give yourself a chance. I know I'm not the only one who feels this," Xander all but pleaded.

            He couldn't do it. He couldn't do this to Xander. "No," He made himself say. "You're imagining things."

            Xander released him, and released a breath too. He laughed a little harshly. "I'm not stupid, Max. I get it, you love him entirely but I love you too.  Yes, I love you and it may not be enough but it's something. I can even accept it--that you'll never be able to let him go." He then turned and left without a single glance backwards.

            Words, Max thought, they were just words.


            Despite what happened, an hour later he drove to the restaurant he knew Xander would be at with his friends, uncaring of what Xander might've told them. He spotted them all easily, a laughing group of friends, and felt more like the outsider than ever.

            When Xander saw him, the laughter died on his lips and a hush fell. A petite brunette recovered first and bid him to sit down.

            "I'm so glad to meet you! Xander never shuts up about you. And you do have amazing eyes." She was candid like Xander.

            "Thanks," He replied. "I don't know your names, though..."

            Xander looked at him with a fathomless expression for several moments before recovering and making introductions. The brunette was Charlie and the others he couldn't even remember afterwards. Xander placed a gentle hand on Max's shoulder the entire time, making him feel welcome.

            "I didn't think you'd come," Xander murmured in his ear later.

            Max felt a shiver race down his spine at the softly spoken words. "Of course I came. We're friends, right?"

            "Yes, we're friends," Xander beamed. "I'm sorry about earlier."

            "I forgive you."

            "I can't help my feelings, though. I hope you'll change your mind." Xander said it softly but there was a note of determination in his voice.

            "Red, you know I won't," Max insisted.

            "Don't be so sure," Was all he said before he turned to say something to Charlie, who laughed in response.

            Max felt distinctly cold after those words because it reminded him how determined Xander could be once he got something into his head. Call him selfish but he wouldn't give up his friendship with the Xander. Not even for the guy's own sake. He only hoped everything would turn out alright.


As a note, I'm sorry to anyone who emailed me and didn't get a response or got a delivery failure message. It turns out (being the smart girl I am) I didn't put up the right email. (So THAT was why I didn't get any mail from nifty readers...). Anyway, my stupidity has been brought to my attention and I've put in the right email address below and above, so feel free to get in touch if you loath forums or yahoo-groups or whatnot.

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My other story: Sparkling Combustion