max knew he wasn't supposed to be here.
he could barely think about that, though- or anything for that matter over the booming music echoing in his skull, the LED lights flashing rapidly, the stench of weed and alcohol, or the sight of so many people dancing.
he was sitting on some torn up couch in the midst of the stereotypical high school party, his mind cloudy and his vision spinning. he felt content. a blunt in his hand, no worries, not a care in the fucking world.
despite living with david for three months now, he was still taking time to adjust- both of them were, really. there was arguments, outbursts, slammed doors, and tearful apologies.
in the shows, adoption was perfect. that's only because it showed the happy smiles, the new life, the gratefulness.
they don't show the baggage.
they don't show the child acting out as a result of not being used to being cared for, they don't show the anger the child has compiled, they don't show the side effects.
they show what people want to see, not what is seen behind closed doors.
this is what was behind closed doors- max's eyes narrowed into slits, light red and pinks replacing the whites of his eyes, a blunt held loosely in his fingers, his window at home left open from sneaking out, the stench of weed wafting off of his hoodie.
max checked the time on his phone, his movements feeling heavy and in slow motion. 2:09am, i should head back. he thought distantly.
he placed the rest of his blunt into some drunk senior's hand, who barely even registered it.
walking was a bit of a challenge, his head and eyelids felt heavy, his breathing seemed louder than the pounding music in his ears, his legs stumbling and tripping over air every now and then.
eventually, he managed to make it to the door, humming in content at the feeling of the breeze wash over him.
he exhaled, letting his legs carry him along.
he thought to himself-
i'm a fucking lost cause.
david was beyond worried.
he had gotten up around 1:50am to get a glass of water, on his way back to his own room he quietly opened max's door to check on him.
he was expecting to either see max cramming for whatever test he had coming up, with crushed cans of energy drinks on his night table- (on those nights, david would sit with the boy and flashcard him, despite his desire to sleep. max always came first and he always enjoyed watching him actually try for school.)
or he would see a lump of teenage boy under the dark blue sheets, eyes closed, breathing slowly, and sleeping peacefully. (on those nights, david would smile warmly and bend over max's bed to push his muss of raven curls back and kiss his forehead before turning off the lamp he always forgot to put off before sleeping.)
however, this time?
he was greeted with nothing but a cool breeze and curtains being wafted by the wind blowing in from the open window.
no max, no phone, nothing.
david could've sworn that for a solid five seconds, his heart stopped beating. eventually, everything caught up to him at once and he scrambled to close to window and grab his own phone.
his breathing was fast, his vision slightly blurred by a layer of tears sitting heavy in his eyes, and his heart was now pumping out of his chest.
he quickly pressed max's contact, bringing the phone to his ear, breathing heavily as he listened to the long trills of the line.
"you have reached the voicemail box of-" david hung up before the rest of the message could play, too scared to even be angry. he knows it's been hard for both of them to adjust, but this? this made david's blood run cold, shivers creep up his spines, hands shake with worry.
this was a feeling he'd never felt before. this helplessness, this fear.
welcome to parenthood, a voice told him bitterly in his head.
after a few more failed attempts at max's cellphone, he heard the front door slam loudly. david's eyes widened as he instantly abandoned his phone in favor of rushing to the living room.
there stood max, in all his glory, looking around the apartment curiously as if he hadn't been living here for three months already.
david exhaled loudly, almost falling on his knees to get in front of max and pat him down rapidly, searching for any sign that he got hurt. before he could finish, the pungent smell of weed made david flinch and crinkle his nose. back in college, david had a stoner roomate, who constantly reeked of the same smell.
david stood from his position slowly, taking a deep breath to attempt to stay level-headed. "max." he spoke softly. "are you high?" he asked, voice eerily calm, his hands shaking.
max didn't even have to answer the question for david to know. the red eyes, the blank look, the stumbling. nonetheless, he awaited an answer. max blinked a few times, his eyes so distant and david really wanted to cry at the way he barely even registered the question, but managed to keep his composure.
david blew out another breath. "alright, come here." he spoke curtly, lightly guiding max to sit on the couch. max eventually made it, settling into a cushion, hands in his pockets, spacing out and staring at the wall in front of him.
"max, i- i know things have been tough lately, but we're supposed to solve it together. i can't have you out here-" before david could finish his lecture, max finally spoke.
"i'm sad." his voice was nothing like sober max's voice. this voice was defeated, no fight, no motivation, no determination, nothing behind it. david opened and closed his mouth, watching max closely as he felt his heart sting.
"like- really sad." this time his voice cracked, a single tear rolled down his cheek as he craned his neck to stare at the ceiling.
david couldn't resist not hugging him anymore. he sighed shakily, gathering the boy in his arms tightly, resting his chin atop the younger boy's curls.
it was silent until max began to sniffle, his shoulders shaking. david would be surprised if he wasn't so worried and disappointed, given the fact max has only cried in front of him once.
david lightly rocked the two of them back and forth, quietly shushing the boy in his arms. "why is it so hard for me? why am i so stupid?" he sobbed, barely breathing. david could've sworn he felt his heart snap. "you're not, you're not. you're so smart, you just made one mistake, it's okay, it's okay." he whispered, massaging his raven black curls.
max shook his head in david's arms, small cries muffled by his shirt. "i'm sorry, i'm so, so sorry. you deserve way better, i'm such a fuck up." max's wrods were quiet and slurred as he continued to grasp onto david.
"no, don't say that. never ever will i think of you as that. you're such a good kid, max. so amazing. it's okay. we're okay." he comforted, mentally wondering where he could set max up for therapy.
david held tighter as his cries and apologies died down, reduced to quiet sniffles. max didn't pull away though, and david had no intention of doing so, still relieved that he was home.
david twirled max's thick curls on his pale finger softly. "we're gonna be okay, max. you just have to promise you come to me, okay? i'm always here. i'm not leaving you, i'm not abandoning you. i'm here." he spoke quietly, his voice barely above a whisper.
max processed the words a minute later, nodding slowly in his arms.
david pressed a soft kiss to his head.
"we're gonna be okay."
and for now, that was enough.