see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
+ Chapter 7
I stood to one side and watched
as Max tried on shirts and vests. I had already been outfitted with the
required pants and a single-breasted shawl-collared dinner jacket in midnight
blue. The black vest with a fine blue grid pattern and its matching tie
went with the suit perfectly. Max had insisted on a "white *wing* collared
shirt" to go with it and he'd given me one of those expectant looks that
turned disappointed when I didn't get whatever reference he'd hoped I
would. He'd given me a gentle smile and told me not to worry about it
when I apologized for missing the joke.
But I couldn't help worrying about it. About my amnesia in general.
Max was being very patient with me. Very understanding and undemanding.
But we were on our *honeymoon* and, thanks to my amnesia, we hadn't exactly
been acting like a typical pair of newlyweds. It had to be disappointing
for him at the very least.
And I wasn't entirely sure that I wasn't a bit disappointed that he wasn't
*more* disappointed. That he was so willing to wait, to delay being intimate.
To put off making love. I appreciated how understanding he was being,
how careful he was to let me set the pace, but - well, it would be sort
of nice to have him make the first move sometimes. To know that he *wanted*
I knew that Max cared about me. That was clear in everything from the
tone of his voice to the way he touched me. But I wasn't as sure that
he desired me.
Or that he loved me. Oh, he called me koi and love and babe and sweetheart
and a whole bunch of other pet names. But he hadn't actually come right
out and said that he loved me. Why? Was that simply part of his "no pressure"
policy brought on by my amnesia? Or was our marriage actually one of friendship
and caring rather than love?
I didn't know what to think. I hoped that Max was just trying not to pressure
me. The thought that he might not love me the way that I loved him made
my throat ache. I didn't know whether I'd fallen in love with him all
over again or whether my love for him was strong enough that it had beaten
the amnesia but there was no doubt that I loved him. Loved him and wanted
"Odin? You okay?" Max's concerned look made me realize that he must have
been trying to get my attention for a few moments.
I nodded and apologized, "I'm sorry. I was just a bit - distracted." I
managed a small smile for him.
"S'okay. What do you think?" He pirouetted like a fashion model and struck
a dramatic pose. Despite my worries, I had to smile and laugh. Which of
course was what he was after. He grinned triumphantly at having banished
"You look terrific," I told him honestly. Max had opted for black from
head to toe. Trousers, jacket, vest, and tie. Only his standup collar
shirt was white and if the double-breasted peaked lapels of his jacket
were drawn across the front it wouldn't even show, leaving him completely
That thought sent my head whirling as a sequence of images ran through
my mind, blurry except for one thing that was present in sharp clarity
in each and every one of them.
Max dressed all in black with only a tiny hint of white at his throat,
even his head covered by a black cap pulled low over his eyes.
Swaying slightly, dizzy and disoriented, I closed my eyes and reached
up to rub my forehead. Hands - Max's, I knew that without even looking
- caught my shoulders, steadying me. "Odin?" he asked softly.
"You - like black, don't you?" I said just as softly. "You used to wear
it a lot..."
He pulled me against him and murmured in my ear, "Yeah, I did. It has
its uses. You got another one of those flashes of memory, huh?"
I nodded silently, still trying to sort through those fragments, knowing
how fast they would slip away again. Max waited patiently until I opened
my eyes and told him, "I'm okay. But it's been a long day. Could we go
back to the room now?"
"Sure," he told me immediately. He drew away from me, making sure that
I was steady on my feet before crossing to the changing room. I sank into
the nearest chair to wait. This latest flash of memory only deepened my
growing suspicion that my dreams weren't just dreams. They were memories.
Back at our room, Max sat down on the couch and turned on the television
"Go ahead and lie down for a while, Odin. I'll just stay out here and
watch a movie."
I hesitated, then made a decision. I really needed some answers. Rather
than going to lie down, I sat on the couch facing Max and placed my hand
lightly on his knee to get his attention. "Max, I know you said I needed
to remember things myself but I'm really confused. The dreams I've been
having are so strange... Guns and explosions and..."
Max's hand against my lips silenced my words. He turned up the volume
on the television then leaned towards me. He shook his head infinitesimally
at me and silently mouthed, "No Odin. Dangerous." He cupped a hand around
my ear casually as if to caress it - but something deep inside told me
it meant something very different, that someone was listening - and flicked
his eyes vaguely around the room. His face was serious - almost grim.
The look in his eyes told me that he was deadly serious about this. Suddenly,
I had all the confirmation I needed that the dreams were really memories.
Out loud, he chuckled, "That's what you get for eating cold pizza at midnight
and watching too many action movies, sweetheart. All sorts of really weird
Even as Max's voice was so light and teasing, his eyes continued to warn
me to drop the subject. I stared in shock, my heart racing. 'What the
hell is going on here?' When he mouthed back, "Complicated. Trust me,"
I realized that I had automatically mouthed that question to him, not
just thought it to myself. Just like I'd read his lips without even thinking
about how unusual such a skill was for someone who had perfect hearing.
Just like I'd instinctively known that the hand cupped around my ear meant
something other than a caress.
I crawled onto Max's lap, wrapped my arms around him tightly, and ducked
my head against his neck, shaking. Who *were* we? *What* were we? What
the hell was I caught up in the middle of?
I wasn't sure that I actually wanted to know the answers to those questions.
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