I walked silently over to Max and wrapped my arms around his torso, squeezing him tightly. He hugged me back briefly, but then he took my hands and placed them by my sides, before taking a step backwards.
"Sit down," he told me, and he said so forlornly that I did what he said without complaining about how wet the floor was. "I don't know how to phrase this."
"You could start by telling me why you suddenly got so upset," I suggested calmly as he sat opposite me about a meter away. "Or why you're sitting all the way over there."
He nodded and put his head in is hands. "Right, OK. I think... this is getting to much."
"It's getting too much for everyone," I said.
"No," he contradicted. "You don't understand."
"Well," I sighed. I could already tell what was coming so I set to thinking how to resolve it. "Why don't you explain it to me, then?"
"I'm worried it'll annoy you."
"I don't give one," I told him.
"All right, then. I'll start with something good 'cause it'll be worthless when you're mad at me," Max leaned forward and took my hand. "I really am sorry about Abbie going away. I didn't mean to, I just..."
"Don't worry, it's fine," I smiled at him.
"So you're not annoyed?"
"I am annoyed, of course I'm annoyed," I admitted. "Mainly 'cause it's really inconvenient that we now have to go and find her, but I'd already forgiven you."
Max smiled, leaning towards me, and kissed my forehead. "I love you," he said, rather desperately. The mood he was in was so weird, I didn't know what to think of it. "And I say it now because I... don't think you'll believe that I mean it after I've said the other thing."
"I love you too," I said, then pulled him closer so that we were kneeling up and pressed my lips to his with as much force as I could manage. I think he hadn't been expecting me to do that. I heard him inhale sharply as if it had startled him, and he was hesitant as he placed his hands on my waist. But as soon as the shock wore off the kiss became more intense and then...
And then he pushed me away.
"What did you d0?" He asked breathlessly, his expression completely confused.
I looked around, frowning, and then I realized what had happened. "Oh, I accidentally stopped time," I giggled as I restarted it.
"Oh, Sara," Mam smiled slightly, but then his face fell. "It's too much, it's too much."
I took his hands in mine. "What's too much?"
"This. It was so much easier before this."
"This!" Max exclaimed, tearing his hands away and waving them around. "This!" He stood up, suddenly angered, and moved away from me. "THIS! It was all so much easier, so much simpler! Before all of this!" He was getting ever angrier, and I began to worry about what he might do to both of us. "Before we went on this pointless hike! Before I needed to care so much! Before we had powers! Before everyone disappeared! Before I met you, Sara!"
I almost choked. I didn't know which had hurt me more: what he had said and how much it offended me, or that it was true.
"What?" My voice shook just on that small word, and I was aware of the unconscious choice that my body made to back away.
Max seemed to snap out of his infuriated state and his eyes went wide as he realized what he had effectively just said. "No, Sara, I-"
"No, no," I forced myself to stop moving backwards. "No."
"I didn't mean-"
"Stay over there," I warned him in a whisper when he tried to walk up to me. "Please."
Max started to beg, already in tears. "Please, Sara. Please, I didn't mean it. I, I, I don't... Please, please believe me, Sara. I was angry, I wasn't concentrating on what I was saying. I'm so sorry. It's just all this. It's so... just so ridiculous!"
I looked up at him through the veil of liquid that blurred my vision. "You're right," I agreed, nodding and wiping my eyes. "You're right. It is ridiculous. It's just a whole bunch of stupid, unalterable ridiculousness!"
I started to giggle despite myself, and Max snickered, and then it was full on laughter. This random hysteria lasted for ten whole minutes, and when we finally calmed down we looked at each other, and Max just hugged me wordlessly.
I think a new kind of relationship developed between us, in a way. He definitely looked at me differently, and i could confidently say that I did understand him that little bit more.
I have always been a believer that most clouds have silver linings, even if those clouds happen to be pelting paused exploding raindrops at you. There is always a possibility of something good coming out of even the worst situations.