I didn’t know if I would be able to do this. not this soon after the news. But with all the Max hate I’ve been hearing, I felt like I needed this. like it was my own brand of therapy. I know that the first part was a lot hotter, but this is how it came out when I started typing. I hope you like it though, no matter what.
Shannon opened her eyes and looked around the room. Max was sitting in a chair by the window. He was staring at a spot on the wall. An empty spot. And he looked miserable. She wrapped the sheet around her body and stepped over to him. Placing an arm on his shoulder, she bit her lip to keep from laughing when he jumped.
“Hey handsome. Big day today, eh?”
“I pretty much have my mind made up.”
“Oh yeah… anything you want to talk about?”
She sighed as he pulled her down onto his lap. He buried his face in her neck and she heard, and felt, him take in a huge breath.
“What I said the other night… that I’d take you with me…” he paused and she watched him swallow, the action looking like it was costing him dearly. “Would you ever consider it?”
This was new territory. They had always just kept it simple. She was head over heels in love with him though. And for him to say something like that… he must be pretty serious about her as well. But to jut drop everything and move to a new city… that was asking a lot of someone who wasn’t even called ‘girlfriend.’
“Are you serious?”
“More serious than I’ve ever been about anything in my life. The thought of losing you… that’s worse than the thought of leaving Pittsburgh. Or maybe it’s similar… because in order to leave this city… I have to leave you too. I don’t want that. In one day I don’t want to lose everything that I’ve come to lo… love.”
She gasped and turned her head, staring into those beautiful eyes. He looked as though he was going to cry.
“And I would hate for you to leave. That would mean learning to love someone all over again. I don’t want to learn how to love someone else. I want to love you. Just you.”
“Is it actually possible for you to just move though?”
“I’m a writer. I can write from anywhere. It’s the whole ‘finding a new place to live’ and all that stuff.”
“With me,” he whispered before grabbing her neck and pulling her close for a kiss. She moaned as his mouth devoured hers. He tasted like coffee. And caramel. That meant that…
“You went and got Starbucks without me??”
“Non. It is downstairs, waiting for you.”
Shannon hopped off of his lap, ignoring his grunt of discomfort, and tucked the corner of the sheet into the rest of the material. In her makeshift toga, she carefully made her way down the stairs and came to a halt in the kitchen, eyeing the large to go cup and the bag sitting on the counter. By the time Max joined her on a second barstool, she had already downed half a muffin and was blowing across the top of the drink, watching him through the rising steam.
“So, are you going to tell me where we’re going to be living come fall?”
Max almost choked on his bite of muffin.
He had only hoped… prayed actually, that she would agree to come with him. It was going to be a rough road soon, once the bargain was struck and the deal was made. And then… all hell was going to break loose. The first season on the new team, it was going to be hard. Having her in his corner… he’d get through it all if he knew he had her on his side.
It was her turn to choke. He gently thumped her back until she turned and looked at him, eyes wide.
“You’re going to be a Flyer?!”
He nodded. It was a strange feeling. A mixture of excitement and sickness. He’d thought he’d play in Pittsburgh his entire career. Thought that he would always be a Penguin. Like Mario had been. Like Sid undoubtedly would be. But they couldn’t offer him what he really felt he needed, and so he and Ray had sat down and discussed it. And they had shook hands and parted on good terms.
“I think so. They’re offering me a great contract. Long-term, good money. It’s going to be a complete 180 from living in the ‘Burgh and all, the way this city has embraced me. But… I couldn’t get something worked out with the Pens, and as much as I would love to stay here, be a part of this organization until I can’t play anymore… maybe this is what I need. Maybe one day I can come back. Finish here. But I believe that for now, this is the way to go.”
He took a deep breath and waited for her to tell him he was crazy. Or to tell him she couldn’t do it. He couldn’t blame her in the long run… she’d been born and raised in Pittsburgh. It came as natural as breathing to feel nothing but hatred and disdain for the City of Brotherly Love. But he was banking on her love for him being enough to get them both through this insanity.
“What do you say, Shan… Help me make this new adventure a good one?”
She didn’t give him a vocal answer. She didn’t laugh at him or give him one of those Brooks stares… She just took his hand in hers and squeezed it tight. He brought it up to his lips, brushing his lips against her knuckles. They finished breakfast in silence and then went upstairs to get ready for the insanity of the day.
When the news broke that afternoon, the announcer explaining that he had signed with Philly… Max was sure he felt the entire city of Pittsburgh gasp in outrage and hurt. Jagr had just signed with the Flyers, yanking everyone’s dreams of a final season of him here, and now he was breaking their hearts as well.
“They’re going to hate me,” Max said as they sat in the living room of her condo. She had suggested that they lay low for a few days, and not at his place. It wasn’t like his house was unknown… and it was probably better if no one knew where to find him until the news died down. She had sat and held his hand as he spoke to some of the boys on the phone.
Geno had even called long-distance. The Russian wasn’t angry, he understood how the business was. He just made Max promise not to go after his previously injured knee. Max had blanched at the thought. She made a move to get up and grab a drink when her buzzer rang. Strange.
“Hello,” she spoke into the com.
“Allo… Shannon… ees Marc. Do you know where he is?”
“Come on up hun.”
A moment later she heard a knock on the door and opened it, finding Flower and Vero standing there, concerned looks on their faces.
“I went by his house, but he wasn’t there. His car was gone and I didn’t know if someone had killed him or what!” Max came over and stood beside her, his arm resting comfortably at her waist. Marc visibly relaxed and tackled his friend in a vicious man-hug. “I don’t know what we’ll do without you mon ami.”
Vero rolled her eyes and tugged Shannon toward the kitchen.
“They will be forever… worse than two women… Come, let us talk away from this, what do they say.. bromance?”
Shannon smiled and followed, grabbing the two of them something to drink before sitting down at the table. They made small talk for a few moments, and then Vero laid it all out on one sentence.
“So, you’re going to go with him and be there for him and help him when both fan bases hate him, yes?”
“I am. I can’t leave him. Not now. Not ever.”
The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent talking with them, answering phones, and listening in for any other big signings. When they fell into bed that night, she curled herself around his frame, getting as close as she could to him.
“You think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew,” he asked as he breathed in the scent of her hair.
“I’ll watch your back babe.”
He chuckled and wrapped his arms around her. She felt his breathing even out, the hold become a little more relaxed. In sleep, the lines of worry he’d been wearing all day vanished and he was her Maximus again. Her proud, strong warrior. She placed a kiss over his heart and snuggled against him. Tomorrow they could start the battle, tonight she would keep him safe. She was just drifting off when she heard him whisper.
“I love you Shannon.”
“I love you Maxime.”
In the glow of the city lights through her window, she saw him smile. Things were definitely going to be hectic, but she would be okay. They would be okay.
Watch out Philadelphia, Max Talbot is coming, and you better be prepared.