Linkin Park, Somewhere I belong
I had nothing to say
And I get lost in the nothingness inside of me
I was confused
And I let it all out to find
That I’m not the only person with these things in mind
Inside of me
But all that they can see the words revealed
Is the only real thing that I’ve got left to feel
Nothing to lose
Just stuck, hollow and alone
And the fault is my own, and the fault is my own
I wanna heal, I wanna feel what I thought was never real
I wanna let go of the pain I’ve felt so long
Erase all the pain till it’s gone
I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m close to something real
I wanna find something I’ve wanted all along
Somewhere I belong
And I’ve got nothing to say
I can’t believe I didn’t fall right down on my face
I was confused
Looking everywhere only to find
That it’s not the way I had imagined it all in my mind
So what am I
What do I have but negativity
’Cause I can’t justify the way, everyone is looking at me
Nothing to lose
Nothing to gain, hollow and alone
And the fault is my own, and the fault is my own
I will never know myself until I do this on my own
And I will never feel anything else, until my wounds are healed
I will never be anything till I break away from me
I will break away, I'll find myself today
I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m somewhere I belong
I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m somewhere I belong
Somewhere I belong
Torment swirls inside his weary mind only second to the horrendous pain that lives in his battered bones as he stares at his reflection in the bathroom mirror.
Water drips slowly from his ruggedly handsome albeit aged face marred with a scar that will forever evoke the memory of innocence lost.
Again Max splashes cold water upon his heated skin as a result of another hot New Mexico night hoping to calm his growing ever present cripplingly anxiety.
Standing in only a towel fresh out of the shower he grips the edge of the sink for strength as he looks up at the back of the bathroom door and the black dockers and white button up shirt hanging there.
An outfit picked out by Isabel along with instructions to shave and get a hair cut to at least try and look presentable.
It is the night his parents will learn of his return.
The night they will hear of the lies of his heroism fighting as a marine over dinner and dessert.
Tonight Isabel will spin her tales of bravery and life altering wounds hoping they buy the story of where he has been, his current state of mind, and drastic change in appearance.
She will speak of finding him in a hospital with a near fatal head injury and his miraculous recovery.
How it was a twist of fate that in the bed next to him was a friend of Jessie's from back home also injured in the war leading her back to her long lost brother and family.
Leaning back against the wall he watches as his image blurs contorting back and forth from the young clean cut moralistic responsible boy he barely remembers to the hardened ruthless warrior he has become.
Smoothing his wet jet black hair back that he refused to cut he held the razor in his hands contemplating Isabel's instructions briefly before placing it back in the medicine cabinet.
He was no longer this boy, this obedient innocent son they knew, and nothing would change that.
There was no use pretending.
Flickering his intense amber eyes up to the mirror, he knew that the last of the Max that they knew was left on the bloody battle field littered with bones and fear back on Antar in the death camps.
It was Zan that gazed back lost and alone numb so far gone that it didn't matter what lies were told just as long it would keep them from asking questions he could not answer.
Just as long as it meant they would keep their distance.
Just as long as he didn't have to feel emotions he had tried so hard to bury over the years.
Thinking back to his younger self his anger and resentment seemed to grow.
The boy that tried so hard to please, to be the perfect son, the perfect brother, friend... human.
Always denying what he truly was, always living in shame, turning his back on the one thing that could have released him from all his fears and doubts.
Harder on himself than anyone could possibly be, feeling responsible for everyone, feeling the need to save them all, protecting them from the dangers they seemed determined to seek out.
Maybe Max understood his parents turning on him, his father's investigations, his mother's judgments so long ago, but the person he had became could not.
Rubbing the scruff on his face he decided that he wasn't going to change a thing, maybe Max was content jumping through hoops, but he was a man now.
A man that had been through a kind of hell they all could never even begin to imagine.
His days of conforming to fit into others preconceived ideas of what he should be were over.
Leaving the bathroom he threw on his worn jeans and a black tee shirt before securing his knife in his boot and grabbing his keys.
Riding too fast for the sharp curves he skidded recklessly as thoughts of Liz flooded his mind.
It had been a week since that night on the street where he had witnessed the budding relationship with Charlie the doctor.
He could still feel the fire sparking from his fingers as he grazed her skin awakening what he knew was lying quietly beneath the surface of her most intimate places.
He tried to block her out knowing, always knowing that her choice had been made.
But still she called out to him in the power of their bond.
The urgent pull of her restless spirit reaching out to him, the scent of her skin lingering like wild flowers bringing him to the edge, the coy flick of her long dark eye lashes kissing the pink hue of her cheek beckoning him in her dreams.
Charlie may have had her during the day but the night belonged to him.
While she slept her dream world wove a different story, a contradictory vision of where her true desires lived and breathed, where her soul was truly alive.
Gripping the bike he tried to block out that night on the street, the stranger's arm possessively wrapped around her waist caressing the small of her back, evoking a smile from her lips.
Feeling his heart rate begin to rise he took a few deep breaths as he pulled tentatively up to Isabel's house.
For what seemed like forever he stood just outside the door, his stomach full of knots, churning with dread not knowing the reaction he would get.
He wasn't ready for this, he was still learning the ways of a world so different then what he was used to.
His heart filled with uncertainty anticipating the hurt he knew would be overwhelmingly evident in his mother's eyes and dominating judgmental glare of his father's intimidating cold demeanor.
Taught over and over how emotions were a weakness, a sure way to die, Max had become trained to block his feelings.
It was a life and death lesson one that he had to learn the hard way, these lesson aren't easily forgotten.
He had become an expert at putting up walls of course with the exception of his love, his Liz.
She was his Achilles heal, one that was used to Kivar's advantage in more than one instance.
Leaning his forehead to the door he knew this was a mistake, they had no idea who they were about to meet but it was definitely not the son they remembered.
Just as Max was considering leaving he felt a strange warmth penetrating through the door pressing gently against his skin.
He felt her energy on the other side, light and pure, open with unconditional love free of judgment or demands.
He watched as the doorknob slowly turned revealing a mop of golden curls and piecing blue eyes.
“Everyone! He's here! Uncle Max is here!”
“Hello Lily, how are you tonight?” he softly replied genuinely relieved and happy to see her smiling up at him.
Immediately grabbing his hand Lily brought him inside the house and pulled him down to kneel beside her so she could look into his eyes.
She was wearing one of her father's tie's, a bowler hat, and a mustache drawn over her upper lip with black marker.
Whispering against his ear she pointed towards the living room. "I've been spying on them, I know what they're feeling."
Nodding seriously trying to hold back the need to hug her he listened intently.
“I know this is hard for you, but you are not alone Uncle Max. They are forcing me to go to bed but I will be here.”
As she emphasized the word 'here' she pointed to his heart.
Squinting her eyes she tilted her head questioningly.
“Do you understand what I mean?”
Wishing so much that she could stay with him he nodded again smiling weakly feeling nauseous knowing his parents were just a room away.
“Yes my sweet Lily, I know what you mean, that will help a lot.”
Straightening her hat her expression became serious.
“I was hiding under the table, heard it all. Grandma cried big tears, happy tears mommy said, but I feel It's grandpa that you have to worry about. I don't like the vibrations I got from him. Just be careful Uncle Max, and remember I'll be right upstairs if you need me.”
Brushing his thumb across her bright red plump cheek he whispered quietly feeling strange that in some ways Lily was the only one who really understood him.
“Thank you sweet heart. I'll be fine.”
A crooked smile of sympathy crossed her ruby lips as she held his hand to her face knowing it was a lie.
“Lily! Honey go up stairs with Emma, I'm not going to tell you again!” Isabel yelled as she came briskly walking into the entryway.
A look of nervousness mixed with fury flashed in her eyes as she waved Max towards the living room.
“As if this isn't hard enough you have to make it more uncomfortable by being over an hour late! Just follow my lead, remember let me do the talking, they have to buy this!”
Her harsh degrating whisper made Max want to turn and leave but it was too late as he caught the skeptical glare of Phillip's eyes coming from the living room.
Feeling burning hot but shaking from a cold chill rushing through his body at the same time he stood paralyzed as Diane stood with tears streaming down her face.
Grimacing uncomfortably he braced himself as his mother threw her arms around him hugging the air from his lungs.
How strange he thought to himself at that moment.
There were times in the beginning years of his disappearance he would've given anything to feel the safety of his mother's arms securely wrapped around him.
But now her affection felt unfamiliar and awkward as she spouted out a string of indiscernible words while grasping his long hair.
Forcing a smile he found it hard to look her in the eyes as she pulled away from him to get a good look at the fierce knife wound on his face that was too prominent to ignore.
The words choked up from his throat like he was reading lines from a play that were not his own.
“Hi mom, its good to see you.”
Hearing the distinct deep cough from Phillip that was meant to bring the attention back to him, Max gently stroked his mother's back while she worryingly tilted the side of his face to get a better look at the jagged scar.
“It's alright … I'm fine mom.”
Walking slowly examining every inch of Max, Phillip moved in for a stiff quick hug before stepping back to look him over.
No longer afraid of secrets being revealed or cold harsh rejections Max stood tall, the bags and lines under his dark eyes evident of the horrors of what he had seen.
“Max... its been a long time.”
Almost defiantly Max yelled inside his head as if he was back on Antar speaking telepathically.
It's Zan, and its been longer than you can possibly imagine!
Unsure of where exactly his anger was coming from Max balled his hands into tight fists resting them along his sides.
Anxiously Isabel stood by wringing her hands as Jessie sat on the couch with his head down resenting the entire charade.
The night before they had argued all night about his participation in lying to her parents.
He felt strongly that Max being back was dangerous especially for their children, more significantly Lily.
After years of raising Lily to hide her powers for her own safety she was caught more then once practicing her abilities without fear or shame.
It was almost like Max opened a door that could not be closed and Jessie was afraid they would all suffer for it.
The tension in the room was almost unbearable as Max and Phillip stared each other down.
Isabel held her breath as little Lily watched from the top of the stairs undetected.
Nervously Isabel motioned to the living room.
“Why don't we all have some coffee and dessert, I have one of Amy's special coconut custard pie's if anyone's still hungry.”
The tension in the room was more than palpable as they each sat struggling for a way to start a conversation no one was expecting to have.
Balling up a napkin anxiously Max's mom's eyes teared up in disbelief as she slowly discovered each scar visible from his arms, face and neck.
“I-I don't understand, your scars … it hardly looks like a professional worked on you. Did they not have surgeons where you were, who took care of you Max?”
Phillip's eyes narrowed at Diane's comment as the wheels in his head turned quickly.
“Mom, I don't think Max wants to discuss his injuries right now. Why don't we just catch up on what's being going on with the family.”
Isabel's attempt at a civil conversation was a noble try but clearly it was not what Phillip had in mind.
“I'll catch him up on what's been going on with the family Isabel. In fact why don't we start with your mother? See for the past ten years she's been tortured with the fact that she had no idea where her son was, in fact for the first five years she cried herself to sleep, she even hired a detective to try and find you convinced that you were dead in a ditch somewhere because her son Max would never ever put her through such hell as disappearing off the face of the Earth - “
“Dad! You promised!!” Isabel in full panic mode stood knocking over her coffee on the living room rug.
Diane was crying even harder now with her head in her hands her voice muffled by her on going sobs.
“Phillip please... he's been through too much... this is not the time to interrogate him.”
The word interrogate struck a horrible cord deep inside Max as he rose to feet.
Instantly he had a flash of one Kivar's henchmen endlessly torturing him desperate to pull out memories of the Royal family he had no way of knowing.
Hours of mindwarping leaving him wrenching with pain and confusion on his knees bleeding from his ears, eyes and mouth begging for it to end.
Without saying a word Max turned for the door.
“Max wait! Please, let me talk to him!”
With Jessie's insistence Isabel let Max leave as the two worlds he knew rocked painfully inside his head.
Jumping on his bike he looked quickly up towards Lily's bedroom watching as she held her tiny hand over her heart and out towards him.
Max took off into the night after repeating it back to her.
For what seemed like hours he drove aimlessly into the night wanting nothing more to escape from this world he no longer knew or understood.
Fueled by frustration and displaced anger he found himself being pulled inexplicably towards the desert.
Before he knew it he was deep into the vast emptiness of the wide open space of darkness with a ceiling of brilliant flickering white stars that seemed to over take the sky above him.
Skidding across the rocky sand he left his bike on the ground and started pacing back and forth between two towering pointed rocks.
Running his hands through his long thick hair as it fell back across his brandy colored eyes he tried to calm down but it was no use.
With his heart pounding and his chest heaving with distress he reached his hand out towards a six foot rounded stone and blew it into a million pieces sending debris flying everywhere.
Covered in brownish soot he raised his hands towards the ground in front of him and watched as flames shot up from the desert floor rising high into the night sky.
It was that moment that he noticed two headlights in the distance coming his way.
Under his breath he groaned as he gathered his energy getting ready to face whatever had followed him.
Standing without fear tall and intimidating grasping his knife in one hand and holding out his palm almost hoping for a fight he waited for the car to slow to a stop directly in front of him.
Gnashing his teeth he rattled off incoherent threats telepathically so far beyond upset momentarily forgetting where he was.
Blinded by the streaming headlights Max couldn't make out the person that exited the car but it didn't matter who it was to him.
Emotions spanning from rage to unimaginable pain bubbled up to the surface with lightening speed from his gut to the edge of his throat fighting their way out in an explosive burst of energy.
The fire he had started blew up like fireworks on the forth of July zig zagging across the dry desert floor in every direction like Roman candles and cherry bombs.
At this moment all he could think of was inflicting as much pain as possible to whoever this threat turned out to be.
He didn't care about right or wrong, he felt as if he was being pulled apart inside, and he couldn't take it anymore.
Flashes of all the suffering he and others endured flickered with intensity behind his eyes forcing him to relive moments he would rather die than remember.
His hands began to tremble as he focused all his energy on destroying this intruder.
Slowly the bright headlights from the car formed a brilliant glowing halo outlining her body as she stepped closer.
She looked like an angel, much like the angel that had come to him many times in his darkest hour when he thought death was coming to claim its prize.
Tears formed in his stunned wide eyes as she carefully walked towards him.
Her loose raven curls floated around her delicate bare shoulders as the cool desert breeze chilled her skin causing her to shiver.
As a single tear fell from his cheek he whispered her name almost in disbelief dropping the knife letting it fall to the ground.
Running towards him she collapsed in his arms burying her face in crook of his neck.
“I heard what happened, I'm so sorry. I'm here now. I'm here...”
Barely able to breathe Max laced his fingers through her hair holding her to his body letting his tired eyes slide shut.
Was this real he thought to himself or had he finally gone crazy.
The warmth of her breath on his body as she whispered his name over and over trying to calm him convinced him otherwise.
Standing under a blanket of stars alone with her as she quivered against his broken body he let out a shuddered breath as the fire that had been raging wildly around him slowly calmed to a circle of burning ambers by his boots.
"Shh, I'm here now. It's going to be alright Max, I promise ... I promise."
Her voice was sweeter than honey as it flowed through his tense body relaxing every muscle, soothing his nerves, releasing the breath he had been holding in while anticipating the fight he thought was coming.
There was no denying the immediate affect her body was having on him as his heart fluttered helplessly against hers but her words in the end would hold no peace for him.
While the comfort she brought him gave him the temporary solace he so desperately needed, her promises that everything would work out might as well have fallen on deaf ears.
The life he fought so hard to return to was no more than a mere pathetic existence with one worthless hour leading into the next.
With family full of resentment and accusations, friends that feared or worse had no need for him, a pointless dead end job and a hellish past that refused to let him move forward he questioned his very reason for being there.
But beyond the agony that waited day in and day out for him, there, above all, was the ever present horror that brought him to his very knees.
The true dagger that pierced his heart, that tied him to a deep black hole so dark and empty it rivaled the torture inflicted upon him for the last ten years.
A realization that haunted each night his waking hours and beyond...
The love that saved his life again and again with just a memory and a faded picture was happy without him.
No matter how hard he wanted to dismiss the facts that tore at his gut, the truth blinded him like the sun refusing to allow him to look away.
She was better off without him, she deserved a life he could never give her no matter how hard he tried.
He loved her enough to know that, problem was getting his heart to accept it.
That would prove to be the hardest challenge he would ever have to face.
Still as they collapsed to the ground and held each other in front of the warmth of the fire he sighed desperate for just a little more time before having to let go.
Not just yet...