A Matter of Perspective by 1917farmgirl

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Drama, Family
Characters:Iggy, Max
Published:2010-05-24 23:48:29
Updated:2010-11-07 22:13:14
Packaged:2021-04-22 02:17:53
Summary:It's the little things that make all the difference, that tie a family together with unbreakable knots. No romance, just good family warm-fuzzies.

Table of Contents

1. Chapter 1
2. Chapter 2
3. Chapter 3

1. Chapter 1

A Matter of Perspective

Disclaimer – None of them are mine. I'm just borrowing them for a bit.

Author's Note – Never written for Maximum Ride before so not sure how this will turn out. FYI, this short story takes place during the second book while the Flock is staying with Anne.


I took my lunch tray (the quality and quantity of food in this joint was seriously lacking, IMHO) and carefully wove my way through the hordes of mingling teenagers to an empty table in the corner, hoping the rest of the Flock would join me soon. We'd been attending this school for a week now, and I still felt like a fish out of water, or to be more correct, a bird-kid stuck on the ground. It took every bit of willpower I had to not gather my Flock and take off but instead to keep coming back to this place everyday.

Out of habit I scanned the room, taking in all the exits once more as I looked for my family. I knew Gazzy and Angel had already eaten with the younger grades, but Nudge, Iggy, and Fang should be making an appearance anytime.

As if on cue, Nudge entered with the group of giggling girls I'd seen her with the last few days. She sensed me watching and turned with a wave, asking with her eyes if I minded if she ate with her new friends. My instincts screamed that we should stay together, but the happy look on her face made me smile and nod. She was still just a kid, after all, and she'd had so few opportunities to be just that – a kid. How could I deny her wish when it was so easy to grant this time?

Waiting for the guys to appear, I took a bite of my chicken taco, grimacing slightly. The cooks here really needed to take a few lessons from Iggy. I'd long ago gotten over any miniscule feelings of envy I might have had that my slightly younger, blind brother could cook way better than me. Heck , the pyro could cook better than anyone I knew. It made eating the slop that passed for school lunch that much harder, but a bird-kid knew better than to be picky. Food was food.

Fang entered the lunchroom alone, grabbed a tray, and made his way to where I was sitting, sliding into the seat across from me.

"Where's Iggy?" I asked immediately. Iggy was still sticking pretty close to Fang or another Flock member as he learned his way around.

"Said he wasn't hungry," Fang said.

Iggy? Not hungry? Iggy was always hungry!

I frowned at him, unsatisfied with his cryptic answer. He met my gaze with a frown of his own and that said volumes in Fang-speak. He was upset by something. My worry skyrocketed.

"What is it?" I demanded in my don't-give-me-any-crap leader voice.


You know, sometimes trying to have a conversation with Fang was like speaking to a rock, only rocks tended to have a bigger vocabulary.

"I got that part, genius," I said as I rolled my eyes. "What's going on with him?"

An Iggy with issues couldn't be good, for him or anyone around him, especially considering his already messed up emotions after the fiasco of last week's midnight parental unit hunting trip.

"People have been…talking," Fang said darkly, his eyes angry.

"Talking?" I repeated, raising an eyebrow.

"Making fun," he growled softly. "Because he's blind."

I sucked in a breath, anger flaring. I knew about the "kick me" sign from the first day, but I figured Fang and Iggy himself had taken care of that. I had no idea the cruelty had continued.

"Tell me," I ground out, my lunch completely forgotten. Iggy had been grumpy and withdrawn lately, but I'd chalked it up to continued moodiness over the parent incident and general unease about being in a strange, noisy, crowded place day after day. I should have realized it was more than that! Some leader I was. It was times like these when I felt much less like Maximum Ride the fearless Flock leader and much more like Max, the clueless fourteen-year-old girl.

"He didn't want you to know," mumbled Fang, shoving some taco into his mouth to stall.

"Too late now," I said firmly. "Spill."

Being a smart bird-kid who knew better than to say no when I used that tone of voice, Fang quickly swallowed his taco and then spilled his guts. As he talked I realized the "kick me" sign had only been the tip of a nasty ice burg. I listened in growing horror and fury as Fang described the ignorant and sometimes downright cruel comments said behind Iggy's back (unaware he could hear them all perfectly,) or worse, the ones said to his face that he was meant to hear. He told me about the "accidental" shoves in the hallway or feet stuck out in the isle. (No wonder Iggy was reluctant to go anywhere on his own in this place!) Fang topped it all off with the list of activities Iggy had been forbidden to participate in "for his own safety" by well-meaning but in my mind incredibly stupid teachers. It included but was not limited to science lab, gym class, and cooking in the Home Ec. class all eighth graders were required to take.

By the time he was done I was fuming! I'd always known people could be cruel – I mean I'd grown up in a cage, tortured and experimented on everyday for the first ten years of my life – but I'd somehow thought cruelty was limited to psychotic, evil scientists. I had no idea it could extend to normal teenagers.

"Where is he?" I demanded, getting to my feet. Fang followed suit, not seeming a bit surprised.

"In the library. He said he'd meet me in class after lunch."

"Come on."

We quickly took care of our trays and then headed to the library. We weren't even halfway there, though, when I heard something that drew me up short. We stopped, hidden around a corner, listening.

"Yo, stupid, why don't you watch where you're going?" a male voice taunted loudly. "Oh wait, I forgot, you can't."

"Yo, ugly, if you weren't so dumb maybe you could figure out how to move your feet enough to get out of the way," I heard Iggy snap back.

"I thought freaks like you were supposed to have one of those white sticks, Blindie, or did you miss that day in retard school?" another voice chimed in meanly.

I winced. That was a sore subject with Iggy right now. Anne had suggested he get a cane before we'd started this school, and Iggy had practically exploded. He'd never needed one before, there was no way he was getting one now. Subject closed. It had taken hours for the tension in the house to dissipate after that discussion and even longer for the scowl on Iggy's face to leave.

"Look, jerks," Iggy said sounding tired and defeated, "why don't you just get out of my way and go steal some second grader's lunch money or something?"

"Or we could just pound on you," one of the bullies said offhand. I took that as my cue to make my presence known.

I rounded the corner, Fang on my heels, and saw Iggy surrounded by a group of five burley kids who had bully written all over them. Seriously, they could have posed for pictures for every anti-bully poster in America.

"Everything all right here?" I asked casually, secretly pleased when the two with their backs to me jumped and whirled around. I strode through the opening they created and stopped next to Iggy, barely brushing his hand with mine so he would know where I was. I had no doubt Iggy could take care of these losers just fine on his own, but I also had no doubt when he was over Iggy would find himself expelled from school and the school itself would be suffering some structural damage. I figured it was best to avoid both those scenarios for now.

"Just helping our new friend around," Jerk One answered, slinging an arm across Iggy's shoulders. Iggy's face darkened in a way that would have sent anyone who knew him running for their lives. He shrugged purposefully out of the guy's hold.

"Oh, really?" I said, leveling the Maximum Ride Death Glare at them as I felt Fang come up silently behind me. "I think you should help yourselves by leaving."

The group all looked to Jerk One, the obvious ringleader, who glared at us for a moment, but finally stepped back when he could see there was no way I was backing down.

"Well then," he said as he signaled his gang to move off, "see ya around, Blindie. Oops," he laughed meanly as he covered his mouth in pretend embarrassment. "Forgot you can't see at all. Guess I shouldn't tell you to keep your eyes open then."

They broke into loud peels of laughter as they sauntered off to who knows where. I nobly resisted the urge to run after them and beat their brains into mush and instead turned to Iggy only to be met with a furious glare aimed in my direction.

"Gee, thanks, Max!" Iggy spat. "As if I wasn't enough of a freak already now I have to go and be rescued by my sister! Let's just reinforce to the whole school how useless the blind kid is, why don't we!"

"Iggy!" I started, shocked. "Iggy, I know you aren't helpless! I would have done the same for any of the Flock and you know it!"

"Just save it, Max!" he snapped and pushed roughly passed me and down the hall. Anger made him clumsy, though, and he turned the corner a second too early, walking right into the wall, which only fueled his fury. Cursing loudly, he shoved off and felt his way around the corner and out of sight.

Gaping helplessly, I just stood there and watched him go.

Fang stepped up beside me, putting a hand lightly on my shoulder. "He's not really upset with you, you know," he said softly.

I turned to stare at him, still shocked into silence.

"He's frustrated, angry at the world and himself, and you were conveniently there to yell at." He stopped talking and just shrugged, letting go of my shoulder to shove his hands back into his pockets.

Realizing I was still doing a good impersonation of a fish, I snapped my mouth closed, mulling over Fang's words. Fang was my best friend and right-hand man and Iggy was my brother in every sense of the word except blood, but I often forgot the two of them shared a brother/brother bond as well. Fang shared things with Iggy he couldn't and wouldn't ever talk to me about, and Iggy looked to Fang to act as a guide and confidant more than any of the rest of us. Gazzy was Iggy's best friend and partner in crime, but Fang with his quiet encouragement and support was the one he depended on to help him get around and listen when life got to be more than he could handle with bombs and sarcasm.

Sighing deeply, I ran a hand through my hair. Anne was right – I was learning a lot at this school. Too bad not a bit of it had come from a book yet.

"You'd better go after him," I said quietly and Fang nodded. Feeling like I was sitting rock-bottom on the Competent Leader List, I watched him go, wishing this day would just hurry and get over with.

2. Chapter 2

Iggy cooked dinner that night, a massive pan of chicken casserole and two cake pans full of cornbread. It kept him busy for most of the evening so I couldn't corner him to apologize, and then he disappeared to Fang's room after the dishes were done, muttering something about a book Fang was supposed to read out loud for English class. I watched him go, a sadness I hadn't felt for a long time settling in my gut.

"He's sad, too."

I turned to the golden-haired little girl who had come up beside me. She was wearing a solemn expression that had no business on a six-year-old's face.

"He is?" I asked softly, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her close.

"Yeah," she answered quietly, looking up at me with her huge, blue eyes. "He feels like he's useless. Like he's not worth anything in the Flock other than as a cook or a babysitter. He thinks we only let him stay because we feel sorry for him."

I sighed deeply, feeling ages older than fourteen and clueless about how to fix this mess.

"Why does he feel like that?" Angel asked, tears filling her eyes as she sounded her age for once – a little girl worried about her big brother. "Doesn't he know we love him?"

I pulled her close, hugging her tightly as I rubbed her back between her wings. "He knows we love him, Angel. I think we just forget how hard it can be for him sometimes, and when he gets frustrated he forgets for a minute how much he means to us." If she hadn't already picked up on what was happening at school from one of our minds there was no way I was going to tell her.

"What do we do?" she asked, her voice muffled by my sweatshirt.

"I don't know, Ange," I muttered too softly for her to hear. "I just don't know."


After that, I was much more aware of the talk around me at school. Over the next several days I'll admit I paid more attention to that than anything the teachers might have said. To be fair, not all of it was about Iggy, and not everyone who talked about our pyro was cruel. I heard kids tell others to shut up and quit spreading rumors. I even heard a few comments of amazement at all he was able to do, but unfortunately the ugly and hurtful comments were plentiful and growing. It took every bit of restraint I had to not start making heads roll.

But apparently, Fang – the emotionless rock – was less successful in the restraint category.

Two days after the fiasco in the hall, Fang missed Pre-Algebra, the only class we had together and the only one he had without Iggy. He slid onto the bench next to me at lunch later that day looking deeply satisfied.

"Where were you?" I demanded.

In typical Fang fashion, he just shrugged. I pushed and prodded, threatened and bribed, but he wouldn't budge.

"Fang, I swear I will seriously maim you if you don't spill your guts right now?"

"Why are we maiming Fang?" asked Iggy, sitting down at the table next to me and stuffing half his hamburger into his mouth in one go before pausing to grimace at the taste.

"Because he won't tell me what's on the History test," I hastily improvised on the spot, too glad that Iggy was eating with us again for the first time since the "incident" to jeopardize his good mood with reminders of it. Fang swiftly changed the subject and I let him, but my face told him we would talk about this later.

Turned out we didn't really have to because Fang wasn't the only one who missed third period. All five of Iggy's tormentors were suspiciously absent as well, only they didn't reappear at lunch time. In fact, they were gone all week. I should have ripped Fang a new one, but I just couldn't muster the words, especially when I was more upset that he didn't let me help than I was that he beat the crap out of the bullies to begin with. Fang may walk around like an expressionless stick but that was just a survival tactic. The Flock knew there was a lot more to him than met the eye.

Fang had a huge protective streak where the Flock was concerned, and threats to Iggy unearthed it out fast. That was something that went all the way back to the awful time when the Whitecoats had brought Iggy back to us, nine-years-old, newly blind, and terrified. Fang was the first to come out of his shock and think straight. From his cage next to Iggy's, he quietly talked our brother through his grief and loss, and then, doing the best a little boy locked perpetually in a cage could, he helped Iggy learn to live without sight. It wasn't long before the rest of us joined in, but when I'm being completely honest I have to admit Fang probably saved Iggy's life. Useless experiments were dead experiments and if Iggy hadn't been able to adjust to the Whitecoats' cruel mistake…

Yes, Fang could be enormously protective of Iggy and so I figured I'd let the incident slide. Besides, I doubted any of those five, when their bruises faded enough to return to school, would ever mess with our blind guy again.

3. Chapter 3

I've never told Iggy this (Note to self – talk to Iggy more often about important stuff.) but I'm constantly amazed by all he does, how effortless he makes being blind seem. That's a problem, though, in its own right. He's so good at it that even we sometimes forget about his eyesight. Add to that his sarcastic, usually good humor, and we just tend to forget, or at least not think carefully, about what him being blind means. Oh, we remember enough to tell him when there are steps or that we're rolling our eyes, but I'm ashamed to admit I very rarely think about how difficult everything must really be for him.

I was thinking about it as I cleaned up from dinner four days after the hallway incident. In fact, I'd been thinking of little else. Iggy had made dinner again but then he'd slipped silently out to sit in the trees, still far too quiet and sullen, and I'd watched him go completely unsure of what to do to help him. My anger at the people who had so flippantly done this to him and my frustration at myself for being so freakin' clueless how to fix anything finally came to a head and I slammed the dishwasher shut with far more strength than was needed.

"Max! Careful with the appliances!" Anne called as she walked passed the kitchen door with her arms full of laundry and a disapproving frown on her face.

"Sorry," I grumbled. I glanced up to find Fang looking at me from the kitchen table where he was doing some lame history assignment. He raised his eyebrows questioningly at me, which for those of you who don't speak "Fang" means "what the heck is wrong with you?"

"I'm fine," I snapped, daring him with my eyes to contradict me.

"Whatever," he said, shrugging his shoulders and going back to his work.

"I'm gonna check on the kids," I said and left without looking at him again.

Angel, Gazzy, and Nudge were supposed to be in their rooms doing homework. I stopped at Nudges' door first, knocking once before pushing the door open and sticking my head in.

"Hey, Nudge."

Nudge was sitting at her desk, writing feverishly, her wings relaxed and open behind her.

"Max!" she cried happily.

"You doing homework?" I asked.

"Yep. We have the most awesome assignment for English class. We get to write a story about ourselves ten years in the future and I'm writing that I'm a famous fashion designer and I get to go to all these really important parties and I – "

With a smile, I held up a hand and cut her off. "That's great, Nudge," I said, really trying to act happy. Unlike some of us, Nudge was blossoming at school, and I didn't want to rain on her parade. "Keep it up and you'll have to show me when you're done with it."

"Okay," she said with a happy grin as she turned back to her writing.

Glad at least one of my Flock was happy and enjoying life, I backed out of her room and quietly shut the door. Gazzy's room was next, door already open.

Gaz was sprawled out on his messy bed looking at an open textbook with a rather glazed expression.

"Hey, Gasman," I said softly sitting down on the bed and ruffling his hair. "How's it going?"

Gazzy sighed deeply and rolled over onto his back so he could look up at me.

"Why do I need to know long division?" he asked me. "It's not like it's gonna help me build bombs, or get away from Erasers, or anything."

"No idea," I admitted. Hey, we've never been big on education so why should I pretend to see reason in learning things I felt were pointless as well. Gazzy's arguments made perfect sense to me. "Because grown-ups like to think of stuff to keep kids busy I guess." I shrugged my shoulders.

"So do I still have to do the assignment?" he asked hopefully.

"Yep," I said, laughing as his face fell.

"Why?" he whined.

"Because you promised not to get in anymore trouble, remember?"

"Oh, yeah," he said sheepishly, blushing slightly. Then, just as suddenly, his face lit back up, and he scrambled off the bed, digging for something in his backpack. "Look, Max!" he said proudly a moment later, holding out a rather crumpled paper. I took it and smoothed it out, my eyes immediately drawn to the letter inked at the top in red.

"A-, Gaz!" I cried, loving the way his eight-year-old face beamed. "Very cool!" I gushed slapping him a high five before glancing back at the paper. I could tell at once it was a writing assignment as the page was about two thirds full of Gazzy's nearly illegible handwriting. I was just about to hand it back, genuinely proud of my little trouper, when the actual topic of the assignment caught my eye. It was titled "My Hero."

Curiously, I read his first lines.

"My hero is my big brother Iggy. He's my best friend and totally awesome…"

Suddenly, there was a strange lump in my throat, and I scanned the rest of the short paragraphs, reading the simple, honest words as Gazzy described and praised his idol. And then, for the first time in what felt like forever, I knew exactly what to do.

"Hey, Gaz?" I said quietly after I finished reading. "Can I keep this?"

"Sure," the kid said with a shrug, already absorbed in the contents of his backpack again.

"Thanks," I said and quickly left.


I found Iggy sitting on a thick branch of one of the trees at the edge of Anne's property, long legs dangling in the cool evening air as his pale, blue eyes gazed sightlessly at the inky sky. I landed on the branch a couple of feet down from him but didn't say anything right away, studying my brother. Out here, away from the others, he seemed to have dropped his guard, and for once he didn't snap it back in place as soon as I arrived even though I knew he was aware I was there. I stared at him, seeing how tired he looked – weary and ages older than fourteen.

"Hey, Ig," I finally said, sliding close enough to place my hand on his knee.

"Hey," he replied back, his voice lacking its usual spark. My heart broke seeing him like this, hearing the doubt in his tone – doubt in his abilities, doubt of his worth, doubt of our feelings for him.

"I know you don't believe me right now, but you have a family back there in that house that love you to pieces and are getting sick of you sitting out here in the cold all alone," I said, keeping my words soft to take the sting out of them.

"Max," Iggy said, closing his eyes and rubbing them with his long fingers, "I'm really not in the mood for pep talks, especially Max-style ones."

"Fine," I said, still keeping my voice gentle, "because I only came out here to drag your sorry butt back in there, but first I need you to hear something."

I pulled Gazzy's assignment from the pocket of my hoody and without waiting for Iggy to respond started to read it out loud.

"My Hero, by Zephyr Ride.

"My hero is my big brother, Iggy. He's my best friend and totally awesome. He's blind but that doesn't matter. He can do anything! He never treats me like an annoying little kid but he lets me do everything with him. He teaches me how to do stuff and how to be strong.

"My big brother Iggy is the smartest, coolest, bravest dude in the whole, wide world. He can invent things right out of his head and build awesome stuff. He cooks the best food ever and can kick bad guy butt without seeing anything! I love him and want to be just like him when I grow up."

I reached the end of Gazzy's writing and glanced up at Iggy, hoping I'd done the right thing by reading it to him. He was sitting statue still, long fingers gripping his legs tightly as his head hung down, strawberry-blonde hair obscuring his face. For several long seconds I held my breath as he just sat there, then finally he raised his head, and I was completely shocked to see the tears leaving watery tracks down his pale face.

"Did he really write all that?" he asked quietly.

"On my honor as a bird-kid," I answered solemnly, putting the rather crumpled paper into his hand. "Got an A- on it, too," I added.

Iggy cracked a tiny smile at that as his sensitive fingers explored the paper, feeling the sloppy writing he couldn't read by himself. "Go Gasman," he said softly, wiping at his cheeks with the back of one hand.

"Iggy," I said seriously, scooting closer and grabbing his hand in my own, heedless of the tears still clinging to it. "You know we love you, don't you? Always and forever, no matter what. And we don't care that you're blind. I mean, yeah we care, and we really, really wish you didn't have to be, but we don't let it affect how we think of you and – "

"Max," Iggy interrupted my stammering, shaking his head as the edges of his mouth turned up in a slight smile. "I get it. Stop while you're ahead."

"But you do know, right? That we love you?"

Iggy sighed. "Of course I know," he said, pulling his hand out of mine and drawing his knees up to his chest. "It's just – you guys are always telling me how easy I make it look, but Max, it's not! It's freakin' hard, and I get so frustrated and tired of the dark!"

As I listened to his anguished words I renewed my vow of vengeance against every single Whitecoat for what they did to him without a second thought.

"What can we do, Iggy?" I asked gently. "Seriously, just tell me what we can do to help."

"Oh, I don't know," he muttered, wiping angrily at his still damp cheeks. "Kick me when I get all sappy like this."

"I can do that," I said, grinning slightly. "Anything else?"

He mumbled something that I wasn't sure I completely caught, even with my super hearing.

"What was that?"

He sighed again, then directed his blind eyes right at me in that uncanny way he had. "Don't take me for granted or treat me like one of the little kids."

An instant protest formed on my lips but for once in my life my brain kicked in before the words escaped. Did I really do that? Take his ability to get around without sight for granted because he was so good at it? Or use his blindness as an excuse to lump him in with the little ones? The answers, the true ones, were painful to admit because he was right.

Iggy, unaware of my inner questioning, continued on. "I mean I know I don't have a lot to offer the Flock, and I know most of the time you'd be a lot better off without me but – "

Anger flared through me. "Stop," I interupted loudly. "Just stop. Ig, I'm sorry for how blind I've been, for how lousy I've treated you and I promise, starting now, I'm gonna do better, but don't you ever say or think anything like what you just said again!" I grabbed his hand and guided it back to the other one that still clutched Gazzy's paper. "Have you already forgotten everything he wrote here? Ig, Gaz worships you! You're his hero! And Angel adores you. You know she won't go to sleep until you've said goodnight. And you may make a big deal over teasing Nudge about her gabbing, but we all know who she goes to when she needs someone to really listen. Fang confides in you, more than he does anyone else. As for me, I know without a doubt that this Flock would fall apart without you. You're our heart, Iggy!"

My voice had been steadily rising and I broke off, blushing slightly, as I watched Iggy. He looked pleasantly surprise and pleased, and rather embarrassed at the same time.

"Think Gaz would mind if I…er…kept this?" he eventually asked, holding up the paper.

"It's all yours," I replied before the awkward silence descended again. We weren't big on the mushy, gushy heart-to-hearts in our weird little family and this sap fest in the tree made it two in as many weeks.

"So…" he said after a moment when he'd finished folding Gazzy's assignment and stuffing it into the pocket of his jeans.

"Erm…yeah…" I answered.

"I think we should go inside now and pretend this whole unmanly little crying party never happened."

"I agree whole-heartedly," I said with a smile, climbing to my feet. "But pretending it never happened to the others and forgetting what was said are two different things, Ig. Remember, no matter what happens, you're still someone's hero."

"So, when Gaz and I set off that bomb we have planned for the boys' locker room, will I still be a hero?"

"What?" I cried as he laughed cheekily and took off for the house. "No, absolutely not! Don't you dare!" I yelled, taking off after him. Yep, things were definitely getting back to normal.


Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.

- Marc Brown


Author's Note: This completes this little story. Hopefully you won't think it too incredibly mushy. And I know some of you were hoping for a longer tale, but this is honestly how I had this planned from the beginning. I do have an idea for a much longer, Iggy centric group piece but for now it will have to wait as I try to finish up some of my other unfinished stories. So let me just say thank you to everyone who has read, especially those who have taken the time to review. I hope you have enjoyed it.