-Max allows himself to be ten for just a moment with his odd guardian.-
“Max?” The smaller boy didn’t look up from his game, but David could tell he had his attention. They had learned each other’s body language quite fast.
“May I hug you?” He asked, his voice never once leaving it’s somber tone.
Max’s eyes tore away from his DS, and maintained eye contact as he plopped his stylus into its slot.
“I-, Um? Are you,” Max looked around their cabin for anything that would cause David to ask such a question, “Okay?”
David looked as fine as he always was, the same smile and demeanor he kept up despite Max’s constant nagging on how annoying it was.
David laughed at the question and he sat down and crossed his legs in front of the couch.
“May I have a hug?” The older male held open his arms, Max hesitantly slid off the couch, leaving the handheld game on the cushion, and stood awkwardly in front of David.
He stared uncertainly at David who waited poised, ready to wrap the boy up in a tight hug.
Max took a deep breath, and closed his eyes as he walked into David’s chest, and almost gasped as David wrapped his arms tight around him.
He had always fought against David’s hugs, but this one felt different than all the others. David’s green hoodie had provided twice the warmth, plus it provided twice the cushion from David’s thing arms. David held him so tight.
Max wondered why he hadn’t let David do this more often.
“Your really mine, Max, aren’t you? Your my kiddo?“ David asked his words muffled by the messy curls that covered half of his face.
“Uh, yeah? You’ve had me for six months now, dumbass.” Max said as though all of this was very obvious.
David chuckled and sat his chin on top of Max’s head. “That mean’s you’re my son, doesn’t it?”
Max was taken back by the question. Not once had he ever thought of their relationship on such an intimate level such as father and son. When anyone said the word ‘Dad’, Max thought of sharp suits and cigar smoke that made the whole house reek.
Max thought of disappointing stares coming from every direction, a night shared long ago by a naive girl and a manipulative older man. He imagines a son who had to suffer for the mistakes two people made so many years ago. David was not even the definitions of what a dad was too Max.
He had a whole definition of his own.
If somewhere to say the word sweet, visions of David would swim in his head. Memories of David baking various treats, all with copious amounts of sugar and icing, stacked high on several trays. David had fussed over his weight back at camp, before he could really monitor the others eating habits. Always making comments on how he would blow away at the rate he was going at. At Max’s third doctor’s visit, the lady had announced Max was only a few pounds away from being a healthy size and David was ecstatic. They celebrated with homemade pizza and ice cream.
And if you said understanding, so many memories would jump out at Max.
When Max first arrived he had nonstop nightmares, some that’d last the entire night leaving him exhausted in the morning, and others that would require him to jolt out of bed in a panic. Those were the night David would lovingly open up the covers to let Max in, and when the temperature began to drop David lovingly made his way out of bed to prepare hot chocolate to soothe his nerves and provide Max with some very ‘sweet’ dreams. The joke had gotten a laugh out of Max.
If you said pride Max would think of their latest camping trip and how David made the best s'mores. David had been setting up the tent while Max collected the firewood. Max had tried to start his first fire while David tried to figure out how to blow up an air mattress without the forgotten pump. When Max had gotten a steady blaze built from twigs and paper, nothing matched the proud grin David had given Max. Max couldn’t stop himself from returning the gesture.
David was not a father, he was so much more.
A father was cold in both touch and demeanor. A father had a son that he considered everything but.
David was a David, and that meant so much more than any title given out by a piece of paper and blood.
Max pulled away to look him in the eyes. David’s hand fell to his shoulder and Max held them there tight.
“I’m not your son because your not my father.” Max’s tone sounded so much more childlike then David was used to, and it was such a surprise to be matched with such a grown up sentence.
David’s shoulder slumped but he kept up his smile, despite the stinging of upcoming tears.
“You’re not my dad, but that’s… That’s okay, because you are something so much better. You’re my David, and that something, so much more physical than a word, it’s right here.” Max grabbed the fabric covering his chest, and used his other hand to copy the movement with David’s sweatshirt.
“It’s right here. You’re my David because you’ve been everything but my father to me. That means so, so much more.” His chest tightened.
“But if you want to do the whole titles, I don’t have to just be your Max.” Max stepped closer, burying himself back in David’s arms.
“I can be your son, David,” Max look back up and saw David’s quivering lip and quickly tried to play off his emotional speech, “But it’s whatever, you don’t have too.”
Max found himself high in the air staring down at David.
“You’re my son, Max! You’re my entire world, you are my happiness, and that makes you my son and I’m your David.” David spun in a circle, drawing dizzy giggles from the ten year old.
“Yes, yes you’re my David!” Max confirmed, hoping that would calm down the other enough to put him down, but he could contain the burst of energy that resonated through his body making him smile and laugh.
He threw Max up in the air and grabbed him to pull him into a hug. They couldn’t help but grin and falling into each others happiness. “My Max!” He cried.
This meant something so much more to the both of them.
David squeezed the boy and fell once more to the floor. Max with his limbs wrapped around David tightly, and David stroking the smooth curls.
“I love you, son.” David whispered after a moment, the sentence feeling so foreign on his lips yet so good.
Max breathed in deeply, every muscle in his body screaming at him to reject the soft words, to counter it with something snide. Max forced himself to be ten for just a moment longer
“I love you too, David.” And it meant so much more.