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» 05 July 2021 || Your Love Is Scaring Me, Tag: Max
Posted: Apr 15 2018, 04:47 AM
Merel is Offline
26 years old
The events that led up to the knocking on Val's door at 7.30 in the morning had been a rollercoaster for him. All of yesterday he'd been incredibly nervous and uncertain. He had contemplated the idea over in his head to ask Max to join him in his bed that night. The main reason he had wanted him to come over was so that he wouldn't be lonely on his birthday. The one day of the year he absolutely did not want to wake up alone. The thought had scared him- to ask this of Max, even if he was sure he wasn't going to mention his birthday. He couldn't help himself. He didn't want to feel lonely because he knew he wouldn't be seeing his family this year. Max already was a comfort and he needed that comfort. He needed Max, he had concluded.
His apartment had always been shrouded in darkness and that was a huge problem for him. It was something he hadn't wanted Max to witness. He was scared, too, that by bringing him to his apartment that somehow it would cause Max to run away from him. That the darkness that had called itself home would get him. On the other hand, he had thought that maybe, maybe Max could drive away the darkness with his light. Because Max was a fire that Val couldn't ignore. It was destructive in a way that Val had never experienced before. Destructive in the way that fires burned away awful things to create new opportunities, to purge any unwanted filth.
Val had eventually found his way to Scarr's to invite Max over and in return, they had actually gone on a date. Val had internally freaked out. He'd wondered if Max had known it was his birthday, but that hadn't seemed the case at all. He had seemed to genuinely want to take him out. A thought that was comforting and incredibly glorious. They were just going where the road was taking them and Val enjoyed every moment of it. Their dinner adventure had been amazing. Using money from a stolen wallet they'd paid for a meal that they had to lie to get. The lies had been the most fun- if not somehow strangely thought-provoking. They had been stopped at the door for not being dressed appropriately for the establishment. A pretend story about the tragedy of dragon pox and anniversaries, of worry and pain- all reasons for why Max was underdressed. Val had even mentioned he loved him and in that moment he had been a little confused if that had been real or if he had just imagined saying it. It had sent a small wave of panic through his body, but he reminded himself that it was all a lie. To get into the restaurant. That's what it was. They were playing pretend. Yet... There were certain parts that somehow felt real. The sad eyes Max had thrown at the wait staff to establish a sad story had killed him inside, a reminder of the night he was never, ever going to forget- even if nothing happened between the two of them again.
Once dinner was over, they'd had a good laugh on the way home to Val's. Though, he found himself getting quieter the closer they got to his place. Every step filled him with more anxiety. It had seemed stupid to him, to be filled with such nerves over inviting Max to his apartment. The moment he had opened his door for Max he had held his breath, let Max go in first so the other man didn't need to see him clench his jaw so tightly he couldn't even talk. "Welcome to my humble abode," he'd managed to say but wasn't sure he had sounded all too convincing. Max eventually extinguished the nerves until the moment he fell asleep beside Val. Val had been too far in his head, trying to battle Babs and his own thoughts, to sleep but eventually drifted off into something resembling sleep...
Knock. Knock. Val stirred, his eyes widening at the sound. He rolled out of bed quickly. Who the hell was at his door? Nobody good. Who the hell even knew where he lived? Tugging on some pants he grabbed his wand just as there was another knock sounded. "Who is it?" He stood near his couch, facing the door, wand pointed straight at the door, cautious. He didn't want to run into any trouble. Not today of all days. But he couldn't be too careful, not when he had Max in his bed.
"Valère. C'est ta famille. Ouvrez la porte, ma chérie*." The voice called through the door. He knew that sweet voice anywhere. He flicked his wand to open the door for his family. His maman's voice had brought a bright smile to his face. The door opened and the first face he saw was his maman. His little brother immediately ran inside and grabbed a hold of him. Val was too shocked to react at first. He watched his parents walk into his apartment and his papa closed the door. Before he could even ask what they were doing here he found himself picking up his little brother, crouching first to pick him up by the waist and hug him tightly.
"Bon anniversaire!**" Wyatt said, laughing and tried to place a big kiss on his cheek. "Surprise, frère!***" Val put him down and found that tears had started to form and they were running down his cheeks. Happy tears. He was so fucking happy to see his family. They were actually here! He couldn't believe that they were here right now.
Next, his parents walked over and he opened his arms to them. His maman was also crying and smiling and hugging her was such a relief. This was what he had been missing. This was what he thought he was going to miss today. His family meant the world to him and it seemed that he meant the world to them. This had to have been a huge sacrifice for them. "(We're sorry to come unannounced. We wanted it to be a surprise. So, happy birthday, my little soldier. We're so happy to see you)." His maman said while she was buried somewhere under his arms. The two of them were an absolute mess but in a good way. This was the happiest he had been in relation to his family since before he had told them the news he was leaving.
After pulling away, he wiped at his face and suddenly realised. Max. His eyes flicked over to his bed to find him still there. "Give me a moment," he said, rushing over to Max's side and knelt beside him on the ground and rested a hand against his chest, drumming his fingers against it out of nerves or happiness or excitement or fear, he wasn't quite sure. "Um. So, this is my family. I didn't realise they were coming today. It's uh-" he scratched the back of his neck as he glanced over at his family, who were watching him. Looking back at Max he shrugged lightly. "-My birthday today." This was not how he had thought this morning would go.
*Valère. It's your family. Open the door, sweetheart.
** Happy birthday!
Note: Text in parentheses indicate spoken in French.
Posted: Apr 16 2018, 12:08 AM
Cassandra is Offline
22 years old
your house. oops.
Almost two months after he'd met him, Val had asked Max to follow him home that night. It was almost impossible to keep a straight expression, to play at nonchalance in the face of such an invitation. Here was Val's place of vulnerability, and perhaps the most solid expression of reciprocated...whatever they had that Max had encountered to date. He couldn't explain exactly why that was cause for celebration, but what he could do was steal a wallet, and arm in arm, lie his way into a fantastic dinner for the two of them. It had become a wonderful little game, up until the point where Val had played at saying he loved him. Max held it together for a remarkable amount of time before he escaped to the toilets to lock himself in a stall and have a little panic. Cold water on the face did wonders, especially in the aftermath of realizing that a part of him might have longed for that reality. He couldn't have it. He could probably never have it...but he wanted. Max had told Val that wanting gave him courage. Maybe, even if they were only pretending, even if he'd had several glasses of wine before following Valère home, it was at least a little bit true.
Once they'd returned to Val's place, Max had taken it all in with an artist's eyes. Details he met with blue eyes or perhaps a brush of the fingers were recorded in color and planes and curves and lines. The not-furniture beanbags on the floor made his smile wicked. The wall by the bed covered in little notes and drawings and pictures made that mischief disappear. So he had found his note after all. When Val was out of the room Max used the time to hastily scribble another note in his cheap red pen, by his cheap, tattooed and scarred up hand. I think you're a goddamn work of art.
Val didn't notice it when he came back in the room, but that could have been the fault of an extremely distracting conversation about how Val had broken his collarbone boxing, of all things. It could have been because that confession had been so attractive to Max that he was compelled to kiss said collarbone until Val gave him the proper tour of the bed.
Max was a very light sleeper, and if there really was no rest for the wicked, that seemed somehow fitting. When he woke, it was as if someone had left a television on, and Max squinted his bleary eyes to try and discern what was going on. French? A whole lot of French, and a variety of voices he did not know. Max had taking a passing interest in Latin during school, and so he picked out words here and there. Family. Brother. Slow nervousness began to take root in his chest at the sound of them, and he became instantly and exceptionally aware of how much he was wearing...which was to say, well, Val's sheets. The only thing to do was pretend to sleep until he had an escape plan figured out. Maybe that wasn't quite fair, considering he'd sort of forced Val to meet his own little brother, but the situation here seemed infinitely more complicated. Should he stay? Go? What did Val want?
When he felt Val near, he opened his eyes, the seconds of amazement at how he could just recognize the other man's presence fading to affection at the drumming of fingers against his heart. While he didn't think Val knew how calming that little gesture was for him, Max smiled at the way the fall of his fingers broke apart his nervousness into smaller, more easily digestible pieces. There were tears in Val's eyes, and Max didn't even think before reaching up to thumb any remaining trails of salt from his lover's cheek. "Happy birthday, duckling." The surprise that it was Val's birthday would ordinarily have been quite enough to startle Max into overthinking, but with such a rich variety of things to freak out over, it seemed impossible to pick just one. He lowered his voice to a whisper. "I think you've already unwrapped the only thing I thought to bring to you. Which, by the way…"
Max tilted his head toward the floor, knowing he was going to have to complete a most undignified under the cover wiggle. He had to hope Val's parents were polite enough to pretend they didn't notice. His brother was a literal child. Max scrubbed his hands over his face, and knew he was going to have to do it anyway. "Distract them for a minute, sweet? I'll meet you out there...unless, em, you want me out the window."
Posted: Apr 17 2018, 12:42 AM
Merel is Offline
26 years old
It was strange, to have his family and Max be in the same space. He'd somewhat prepared for having Max in this space but definitely hadn't prepared for his family. Somehow, it felt worse with them here. The apartment felt too tight. He felt too uncomfortable- the only comfort was his hand on Max's chest, the warmth of Max's body making him a little calmer. These were the three people in the world he kept hidden from the darkness in him and now they were at the heart of his darkness (so he believed it to be). Now he had to juggle that with the happiness he also felt at seeing them and the happiness he felt about Max being here. Though, he hadn't expected to introduce Max to his family, well... He had never thought about it. Yet, here they were. "Thank you, darling." He placed a light kiss on his cheek. He would have liked to have given him a bigger kiss, a much more intimate kiss, but his family was right here.
Val’s eyes travelled down the bed, where he knew Max’s body lay and grinned at him, imagining the sight without his sheets to cover him. He leaned down to Max’s ear, his lips practically pressed against it. “That’s the only present I need to unwrap,” he whispered in his ear, before kissing it lightly. “Why would I want you out the window. Don’t be ridiculous.” He looked up at his family, realising that the first words out of his mouth had been about how he had to go see Max. It hadn’t been about his family and that somehow felt very significant. He pushed the thought to the back corners of his mind and smiled a little awkwardly. This wasn’t the first time his parents had caught him in bed with someone naked, though that person had been Babs… The idea they were seeing Max didn’t bother him apart from the fact they hadn’t known he had existed until this very moment. That's what made this more awkward than it needed to be, well, that and the fact that Wyatt was here too. Wyatt certainly didn't need to see all of Max.
He cleared his throat, catching their attention. “Could you all just… Turn around for a minute, have a seat on the couch? He needs to get dressed.” His parents looked at him for a second with raised eyebrows. His dad with a mischievous smile. Val knew what they wanted to ask but tried to pretend he didn’t. Wyatt covered his eyes and quickly turned around, bumping into the couch as he tried to walk towards it. His parents turned around and finally sat on his couch. Val couldn't help the grin that spread across his face as he looked back at Max. Damn, he looked so good in his bed. Still kneeling on the ground he crawled a little and reached over for Max's clothes before throwing them at him.
“Anyway! I’m so happy to see you guys. I can’t believe you’re here! This is the best birthday present I could have asked for.” Val called out to his family to avoid the awkward silence that had fallen. He crawled back over to Max and gave him a wink. "You kept that hidden very well, Wyatt." He could hear Wyatt laughing away.
"It was hard! I really wanted to tell you. Maman and papa swore me to secrecy." His little brother called out. "I've missed you so much."
"Happy birthday, my little soldier." His maman said, making Val blush a little and avoid looking at Max. The childhood nickname would forever stick around, but it seemed odd to be said in the presence of the man who had given him his own nickname. Duckling. He loved it when Max called him that. Val hadn't been called little soldier in over 10 months (that didn't include the letter) and he'd gotten used to hearing duckling. It was a slight shock to his system to hear this other nickname.
Val had to admit he felt a little guilty that they were here. That they had spent money to come all the way here just to see him for his birthday. Money that they could have used to expand the store or for anything other than him. He had never liked it when they spent money on him. It had always made him feel uncomfortable, even if he accepted the gifts they gave him. “You shouldn’t be here,” he said, lightly. He didn't want to sound harsh.
“Don’t you want us here?” His maman asked.
“No, but-” he started.
He heard her tsk at him and he quickly shut his lips. “Well, then don’t complain. We made a decision to spend money on you. Because we love you dearly and we miss you and we didn’t want you to be alone on your birthday.”
Wyatt chuckled. “Looks like he wasn’t going to be alone, maman.” Val couldn't help look over at Max, nodding as if to agree, wondering if Max had figured out that was part of the reason he'd invited him over. To not be alone.
Once Max had decently dressed he grabbed his hand, squeezed it tightly and dragged him over to the beanbags. Val finally got a good look at his family and noticed the difference that 10 months could do. His papa… Val understood what Wyatt had meant. He didn’t look sick but he did look much weaker. His face much slimmer, it had lost some of its colour. He just looked more tired- not exhausted, but as if he just didn’t quite have enough sleep. It was sad. But Val kept a straight face, later, when he was alone he'd be able to deal with that.
"Um. So, this is Max." He looked at Max with a smile before gazing back at his family. "Max. That's Wyatt, my little brother." Wyatt waved enthusiastically. He remembered how Max had introduced him to his little brother, 'Nicky, this is my French kiss, Val'. Now Val felt stupid for how he had introduced Max. "My mum, Adèle. And my dad, Adrien." His parents smiled politely at Max.
"Max, who exactly?" His maman asked, her eyes taking in Max, looking both inquisitive and judging.
"Max... Ramsey?" Val said, wondering where this conversation was going. He glanced over at Max and shrugged, trying to apologise for... Whatever was happening.
"What is he to you?" She asked casually. The question was far from casual in Val's mind.
"Maman!" He exclaimed, horrified by the question she had just posed to him. The question did make him think. What exactly was Max to him? A beautiful soul that ran alongside him. A treasure he cared about and wanted to explore. He was a man that meant so much to him already. A man he wanted to protect. A man who made him feel terribly alive. But how could he explain all that to his family?"Uh- " Val didn't even know how to answer. He couldn't look at Max or else he would start to freak out. Though, he was already halfway there. Why did his maman have to question this? Why did she need to know?
"Val has got a boyfriend!" Wyatt exclaimed in a sing-song voice. Val's eyes widened and he seemed frozen in place. His stomach dropped at the word. Boyfriend? That couldn't be right. The word sent a nervousness through his bloodstream, affecting every part of his body. This time, he couldn't help but look over at Max, needing to see what those blue eyes were telling him. Needed to know if he was just as terrified as he was of the word.
Posted: Apr 18 2018, 09:12 PM
Cassandra is Offline
22 years old
your house. oops.
The word darling sounded beautiful on Val's lips. Max smiled from where he was. It was a bit more of a tentative smile than he wanted to offer, but that unease brought on by the sound of family members in the flat was immediately forgotten when he felt Val's breath on his ear. If there was one thing in the world that could push every compacted worry, each layer of thought over thought right out of his mind, it was lips against his ear. "Unfair," was all he was able to murmur. Then, after he caught his breath, Max let out a laugh like he'd remembered something wonderful. "Cheat if you can't win." he suggested, wondering who or what he had cheated to find someone who called him darling and touched as deep as his dirty soul with just a hand upon his chest.
And why wouldn't he want the window, as dirty as he was? Max blinked, surprised that Val had spoke as if there wasn't any other way he could have answered. "Oh good," he whispered, joking as if the answer hadn't rattled him. This was his family, his birthday, and Val wanted him to stay--or at least leave via the door. That seemed more likely, the more Max considered it. "Naked down your fire escape wasn't exactly the way I wanted to go." The joke rolled off his tongue far more casually than Max felt about all of this, particularly when Val just outright explained to his family they would need to turn for him to make himself decent. Someone needed to be picked on for it, and when that gorgeous someone tossed Max's clothes in his direction, when his family had finally turned their backs, Max leaned over far enough to steal a silent kiss. It was much more innocent than the teasing his hands had gone for after.
Max threw his clothing on more quickly than the last time he had climbed out Lowen's window to get away from whatever Orsen had over, and, reluctantly, he left Val's bed. If he could have stayed, he would have. He would have stayed, and that was a new enough realization to shock him into speechlessness even if he wasn't face to face with a starry eyed man whose jawline he could use to open the boxes he'd packed to move in with Nicky. He patted his pockets down for the various items he always kept within: cigarettes, lighter, keys. Picks, red candy, red pen. The tiny glass duck he had stolen just under two weeks ago. His wand he stowed in the side of his boots as always. Finally he stood, an easy grin keeping what probably should have been guilt off of his face. More importantly, it disguised the terrible scabbing itch of a deep cut want.
Want. Of course he wanted, each time he saw Val. There was a part of him that whispered that this was suddenly beyond fixing, that Val had finally asked him here on purpose and the too-soon appearance of his entire bloody family would shatter what they had, fist through a window. There was a part of him that saw that family and wanted, just for once, to greet everyone who was immediately Ramsey with similar loving tears and brilliant excitement. He scrubbed his free hand hand through his dark hair and curled his fingers around Val's hand. Dragged off to meet the family immediately. Lightning could strike him and the past 24 hours would still be less surprising.
He studied them behind his smile. Val's mother was beautiful, in that handsome way mothers who had seen quite a lot of life often were. His own mother was beautiful like that, but much sadder. Adèle looked so much happier than his own mother, but then, she had Val for a son instead of Max, Adrien instead of Elias, and who wouldn't be in that situation? Adrien looked worn, like he'd battled a long illness or a sudden loss...and his brother Wyatt was full of brightness and mischief of a far less sinister variety than Max's own. He smiled, and pretended to cough, reaching his hand up to shade the quick, knowing raise of his brows he shot the young boy. Of course he wasn't going to leave Val alone.
That was when it occurred to him. Val hadn't wanted to be alone on his birthday. Was it simply that, or did his presence specifically make a difference? Max stole a glance toward Val, looking for clues before he turned back to smile his best effort at charming for the Moreau-Lapointe family. "Hello," he greeted them, trying to keep as many troublesome words from his mouth as possible. To Val's mother, he said with a grin: "Thanks for giving us this one, all those years ago."
Which was when she asked Val, so directly Max could have choked on the cherry candy he had popped into his mouth, what he was to him. Everything stopped, and anxiety sucked the breath from his lungs…
... because no one had ever been able to make him feel like his heart was hinged on the answer to such a simple question.
Max stayed silent, which wasn't at all fair to Val. Guilt laced through him and found his pulse, so close to where their fingers were interlaced. Boyfriend? Wyatt had said boyfriend, and Val turned to meet his eyes. At first there was only shock between the two of them, wide eyed confusion like they were caught holding a stolen something that they didn't know who they should hand it over to. It occurred to him suddenly and with the same ferocious want he'd experienced only moments before that the pit in his stomach indicated he might actually want that.
There it was, that courage for wanting he had talked about last month at Scarr's. There it finally fucking was. Max turned to Val. Confusion lingered in his expression, but there was the want so close behind it that he felt dizzy. Then Val's eyes changed, full of fear and urgency. Of course, Max thought, of course I can't have this. I never should have thought I could. Val didn't want it. The very thought looked enough to scare him away. How oddly fitting, that he should trip like this over the green eyes of a man who might have only wanted a slightly more familiar plaything. Even as he thought it, he was scolding himself. He's not like that. He wouldn't, not to you. But why wouldn't he? Who was Maxwell Ramsey to anyone?
"Max Ramsey." he offered again, trying to save Val from having to break his heart in front of his family, on his birthday. "I'm a tattoo artist, and if you saw my flat, an ameteur librarian." Always joking to push away how raw rejection felt. Usually he was rejecting himself, but not always. Not always. "Should I leave you all to birthday celebrations? I've work at noon, duckling." He shot Val a fearless wink to pass alongside his favorite nickname for him, and it was, like so much of what made up Max, a lie.
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