Daydream by flYegurl

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Angst, Tragedy
Characters:Fang, Max
Published:2010-09-15 17:01:09
Updated:2010-12-07 17:49:45
Packaged:2021-04-22 01:14:52
Summary:Iggy has lost his memories, and is now a young boy named 'James'. Angel has inherited his memories, and Max and Fang are now discovering a new Iggy they had never known. And that Iggy's childhood was worse than they could have guessed. Sequel to 'Awake'.

Table of Contents

1. Beginning
2. Dreaming
3. Looking
4. Talking
5. Epiphany
6. Building
7. Memories
8. Cutting
9. Reminding
10. Watching
11. Bullying
12. Hurting
13. Waking
14. Surprise
15. Lissa
16. Understanding
17. Living
18. Funeral
19. Reminiscing
20. Happy Ending

1. Beginning

Okay. You've all been asking. You've all been waiting. So here it is, the first chapter of the sequel of the sequel of Asleep! I'm so happy I've got this far! Please be considerate and favorite, subscribe and review at the end. Pretty please? I think I deserve it!


After the shock had worn off, we'd all started barraging Iggy with questions. How long were you in the School? How old are you? Who are your friends? Have you ever heard of us before? What's your name again? How old are you?

The answers, respectively, were All my life, seven years, I don't have any friends, no, James, and I already said I was seven!

And then the conclusion was drawn. Iggy was changed. And, again, it was all our fault.

We'd had the party anyway, but instead of it being Iggy's Sweet Sixteen, it was for mom 'getting some special promotion'. We hadn't given him the presents, of course; the bomb supplies were now safely housed with Gazzy's, and the glass orb was sitting next to Fang's bed. Quite a bright adornment for his normal decoration, but for some reason, he had asked for it. I had the lighter with the word 'Ignite' on it in my hand. I would keep it until Iggy came back.

I'm sure both me and Fang had the same idea. We wanted a piece of Iggy with us, however small. These were the presents intended for him. We'd keep a firm hold on them until we could finally give them to him.

I stared at the small silver lighter in my hand. Ignite. My eyes blurred, and suddenly the word looked remarkably like Iggy.

We had sent Gazzy, Nudge and Ella to sleep, or at least to bed, after the party. Iggy was sleeping on a blow-up mattress in Gazzy's room. Iggy's own room was untouched, as it would remain. For some reason, it didn't seem right for a not-himself Iggy to sleep in his own room.

"Max, what are we going to do?"

I looked up and into Fang's haunted eyes. Mom was standing in the doorway, looking worried. Meagan was sitting with her back against the wall, her head back and her eyes closed. Angel was sitting next to me, her eyes penetrating.

I didn't answer Fang, instead talking to Angel.

"Angel," I said hoarsely. "You knew something was wrong the minute he woke up."

"Yeah," Angel answered. Her voice was high, young, and yet she seemed so old.


Angel's expression twisted.

"While we were in the School, Iggy sent me a message. He said that if he didn't make it, he'd give me all the memories he had hidden. When he woke up, they hit me."

I ponder this. All the memories Iggy had never revealed, all his pain, all his suffering, every little speck was now with Angel. This could be useful.

"Do you mean to say that… that Iggy's dead?" Fang asked, question in every syllable.

"I don't know. No. But Iggy's… gone."

"But isn't it just amnesia?" mom spoke up. Her hand was clasping the locket at her throat, and she looked worried, yet calm. "It can be easily treated. Well, not easily, but the memories are still there. A jolt will knock them back to the surface."

Angel shook her head at the same time Meagan replied "No."

"What is it, then?" Fang asked.

Meagan is the one who spoke up. "Amnesia causes people to forget any length of memories. It could be any amount. From their entire life to a single day."

"Well, Iggy did forget nine years of his life," I pointed out, going over the number again in my head. Sixteen minus seven was, yes, nine.

"Nope," Angel said this time, shaking her head. "If he'd had amnesia and forgotten nine years of his life, he'd still be Iggy, just at age seven."

I realized she was right.

"Then why…" Fang asked, his voice lowering.

"Does he think he's a different person? I don't know," Meagan answered. "You'll have to ask Angel, she's the only one who really can."

We all turned to Angel, our eyes searching, hopeful. She looked back at all of us. Her blue eyes were so wide, so reflective. And I suddenly wondered what that onslaught of Iggy's memories had done to her.

"Iggy… well, that's not Iggy," she finally said, answering our unspoken question. "I mean… what I mean is, there is something that can happen where one thinks they're someone else. I guess it could be considered a form of amnesia. Like, after a shock, a different person surfaces."

"So? Is that what happened to Iggy?" mom asked. "The shock of the surgery caused him to switch personas? Couldn't you just switch them back with your powers?"

Angel looked to the ground. "No. I mean, if that is what happened to Iggy, Iggy would still be buried there. His memories would still be contained in his mind. But they're not. They are utterly gone."

"What does this mean?" It was Meagan's turn to ask.

Angel sighed, and she picked at her dress. She had put it on the instant we'd returned home, covered in lace and frills. A gift Iggy had bought her with his own allowance. I remembered the incident well. The six of us, my mom and Ella were at the mall, clothes shopping of course. Angel found this dress, totally impractical, silly and useless. She had begged and pleaded, but I told her if she wanted something like that so bad, she needed to buy it herself.

Of course, little Angel had no money. Mom only gave allowances to me, Iggy and Fang, since apparently we were old enough. So Angel had pouted over to her 'big brother', aka Iggy, pitifully relaying the sad tale to him. He'd lifted her up and whispered into her curls, brushing his long, slender, sensitive fingers across her cheek to wipe away her tears. Then he had pulled out a wad of cash he had been saving to buy himself a pair of really expensive sneakers, and gave them to her to purchase the dress.

At the moment, the two had seemed like the most caring pair in the world. A little sister off to tell her brother about some cruelty. Also, at the moment, all I had really taken in was how adorable Angel was, especially when pouting, and how annoyed I was at Iggy for giving in to her.

Now I finally realized something I had never actually noticed before, not ever. Just how selfless Iggy was.

He always thought of others before he thought of himself. He always covered for Gazzy when one of their bombs went wrong (blowing up on accident, or having too wide a rang, etcetera). He always got up and moved when one of us wanted to sit in a certain place. He always followed mine and Fang's orders, mostly without complaint, even though I now realized how unfair that was. I mean, we actually had been treating him like a seven-year-old, even though he was our age.

Oh gosh. We had treated him like a seven-year-old.

And now he was.

"What it means is that all of Iggy's memories have been virtually taken from his brain," Angel continued. "They're simply not there. They're gone. And these new ones have taken their place."

"But that means…"

"Yeah," Meagan said. "It means that probably some creep at the School downloaded his memories off his brain during the surgery."

My face paled, and I knew I was white as a sheet. So that was what Mr. Evil Scientist had been doing with all that equipment.

"So," said Angel, speaking up yet again. "Iggy's memories aren't there. Even though it's Iggy's body and brain. Now, that person sleeping with Gazzy is some boy named James. And Iggy's gone." She choked back a sob, and now I saw tears in her eyes. "Iggy's dead," Angel continued, the water finally escaping her lashes and running down her cheeks, "In all the ways that count."

Big surprise to you all. Yes. From here on out in this fic, Iggy is no longer alive. In his place is James. Let's hear it for James! No? I don't blame you, you all must hate me now.

Anyway, please review. I'll love you forever.

2. Dreaming

Okay, so, Pandorad24, you have your wish. Another chapter of Dreaming, here and now. I hope you're happy. Really, I do.

Okay, yeah. So, thanks for those who reviewed on the first chapter, it made my heart sing. Keep up the good work and all.

That reminds me, I need this…

Disclaimer: I do not own Maximum Ride. This is simply a fanfiction written by oh-so-humble me. You need not sue. Oh, and this goes for the whole fic. Thank you.


After Angel said that, we pretty much just all went silent.

Dead. Iggy was gone, pretty much dead.


That was Fang, gazing in Angel's direction with so much pain in his eyes, it was unbearable.

"Well," Angel began yet again. "It's like… it's like, what if you were never taken into the School. What if you had been raised by your mom, and you went to normal school, and had normal friends. Would you be Fang?"

Fang paused. "No."

"It's like that. You would be a totally different person. And now, so is Iggy. He's… he's just a different person now."

We all were quiet, we all were silent. We couldn't talk, we were all too hurt and upset. So instead, we did the only thing we really could do.

We went to bed.

Meagan would be sleeping on another blow-up mattress on the floor of my room, where she was now flopped, almost lifelessly, the blanket pulled over her head. Fang went silently to his room, pausing outside of Iggy's. He stood there, looking through the open door at Iggy's unmade bed, his messy dresser, drawers ajar. Then, Fang moved on and closed the door to his room silently behind him.

Mom went to her room almost as silently, still clutching at her locket. I don't know what exactly what was about it, but whenever she was worried her hand immediately went to it.

I picked up Angel and carried her gently into her bedroom. I set her gently on her bed, and pulled the blankets up to her chin. Then I kissed her nose and turned to leave.

I was stopped by her little hand clutching at the hem of my shirt.

"What is it, Angel?" I whispered, turning back and sitting on the edge of her bed. Only after I said it did I realize how stupid it sounded. I mean, her closest non-biological brother was now 'dead', in his place and body a totally different boy called 'James', and not only that but she had received all of Iggy's old memories. That had to be difficult.

"Max," Angel whimpered softly. "It's… Iggy's… it's worse than any of us thought."

I remained calm, but inside my mind was racing. "How… how so?"

"Well…" Angel closed her eyes and snuggled into her blanket. "I can't really separate the memories, but… but I can feel the emotions. It's… it's not… it's horrible."

My heart beat, and I sighed. "Angel, do you want to come sleep in my room with me?"

Angel opened her eyes, and I was shocked to find them watering.

"Yes, please."

I picked her up again and brought her quietly into my room, her face nuzzled into my neck. Then I climbed into bed with her, and we clambered under the covers and the blankets and curled up together, struggling to fall asleep.

An hour later, Angel was asleep, but I was still awake. And I was sure one other person would be, too.

So I pulled back the covers and climbed out of bed without waking Angel, then tiptoed out, across the hall, and to Fang's closed door.

I opened it to find the room empty, and the window open.

Stepping silently, trying not to tread on any articles of discarded clothing, I moved to the window and stuck my head outside. As I had thought, there was Fang, perched at the edge of the roof with his legs dangling in midair. His back was slumped, his wings spread behind him. I never fail to find him here on nights when we just have too much on our minds.

"Hey," I say softly, and Fang answers without turning to look.


I moved forward carefully, making sure the shingles I stepped on weren't loose, and sat next to him.

And we both stared off into the distance in silence for a long time.

Finally, I managed to find words.

"We're going to get him back."

Fang continued staring, his eyes half-mast, his lashes fluttering. His bangs were long and flopping all in his face.

"How do you plan to do that?"

I was at a loss for words.

"I… I…"

"Yeah. Max, I know we've always been able to fix everything in the past. We're experiments in the School? We can escape. Jeb's gone missing? We can survive without him. Angel's kidnapped? No big deal, we can get her out in no time. But Max, it's not like we can just make Iggy remember everything again. You heard Angel; it's all gone. Iggy's… gone."

I didn't answer, because Fang was right. It's not like I knew any way to get Iggy his memories back. Mr. Evil Scientist had probably just erased them, like he would a file. They probably didn't exist anymore. And it was my fault.

"I… I know." Finally I replied, my voice cracking. "I know. I know."

And that answer was so sad.

I turned to Fang to see him gazing at me with those penetratingly dark eyes of his. His eyebrows were drawn, and he looked so lonely, so lost, so sad, that my heart broke. The steadfast, strong Fang that I loved, was broken

"Max," Fang said, his voice soft, looking at me with understanding. "You…"

Then he froze, stiffened, and his eyes opened wide, his pupils dilating so wide I couldn't see his irises, and his eyes were completely black.

"Fang..?" I asked, worried, frightened…

Then it happened to me as well. A horrible, skull-cracking pain, a headache worse even then those that the Voice used to give me, and I wanted to die, I was going to die…

"There's never enough food," Max complained, and I felt a pang in my chest. Max was hungry.

"Yeah," Nudge answered. "All we ever get is bread and beans. I don't even like beans. Why do we have to eat beans? Beans are brown and slimy and they get stuck in my teeth and make me want to throw up, but there's not enough for me to throw up!"

"I'm hungry too," Fang said, and I was surprised. Fang never admitted to trivial things like hunger. It was one of the things I admired about him.

I turned my eyes in the direction I knew my food was in. It's not like I could see it, anyway. I never really cared about eating, it didn't make much sense to me. It's like, why do I eat if I don't even want to live?

So I decided that, if my friends were hungry, then they should get more food. And since I never wanted the food, they would get the food from me.

The next morning I woke up early. Well, as early as I could, because it's not like I had an alarm clock. Luckily, thought, none of the rest were awake yet, and the food was already here. I scrambled forward to the smell of beans that was only a few feet away and placed my hand carefully on my tray. As usual, sitting on the cold plastic was a bowl of beans and a piece of stale bread.

I felt then for the trays of the rest of my friends and moved them in easy reaching distance. Then I dipped my hand into the beans and removed a small portion, emptying my palm into Fang's bowl. I did the same four more times into Gazzy's, Angel's, Nudge's, and Max's bowls. There was a little left at the bottom, so I put the rest into Max's bowl.

My hands were now filthy, but it didn't matter. They always were after I ate, since I never used the forks they gave us, ever since that first ill-attempt after becoming blind when I'd poked holes in my cheek.

Now, only the bread was left. I decided I'd eat it, because I needed at least a little energy.

About thirty minutes later, my friends woke up and came to eat.

"Iggy, you ate without us!" Max protested, and I heard her pull her tray over.

"I'm sorry, when I woke up I was really hungry," I answered.

"Ooh, look! They gave us more than usual today!" Nudge said next, and the sound of her chewing on the hard bread began to echo in the room.

"Yeah!" Max noticed. "That's so awesome! I'm so happy!"

I smiled a little smile. I'd made Max happy. And the hollow feeling in my stomach didn't matter if Max was happy.

So it continued like that for a while. I ate the bread so I wouldn't keel over, but gave the rest of the food to my friends. And I noticed them steadily growing happier. I guess food actually helps with that.

I wonder what would happen if I stopped eating the bread. That would make everything better all around; my friends could share the bread, and I could die. It was better for everyone.

I tell Him about my plan, and He agrees whole-heartedly.

"Look at that, Subject 9!" He laughs. "My words are really making a positive impact. Only seven years old, and you've contemplated suicide every waking day of the past three years."

It's good if He agrees with me, since He's always right. He...

The horrible nightmare suddenly ended, and I was shocked into reality, gazing into Fang's confused eyes.

"What was… That was…"

MAX! Angel screamed in my mind.

Fang and I both stood and scrambled through his window back into his room, then raced down the hallway to find Angel and Meagan sitting up, Angel sobbing and clutching her head.

"What is it?" Fang asked hurriedly, kneeling by Angel.

"You know what it is! You saw it too!" Angel sobbed, burying her face in Fang's shirt. "It was Iggy's memory! I dreamt it! But… but it was so powerful, it projected… anyone who was awake when I dreamt it saw it too…"

So that's what it was. Iggy's memory.

That was Iggy's memory?

Because I remember that time well, when the food we received in the School had increased dramatically. Well, not dramatically, but by a decent amount. We had all been happier, growing steadily stronger. Except for Iggy.

I even remember waking up each morning and wondering why Iggy never waited for us to eat before he started. How it seemed so odd.

And I also remember, about a week after the proportions increased, asking every morning if I could have his bread.

He always said yes, every day, and gave it to me without so much as a hesitation.

Thank you so much for reading, and please review. Thanks!

3. Looking

Hey guys. I'm sorry for being late with updating, unlike usual, but unfortunately I have three honors classes, plus all my others. I have had a lot of homework lately, and I'm sure it will only get worse, not better. Therefore, it will take me longer to update. If it starts taking too long, you are welcome to PM me begging me to update. I will try to finish the next chapters as soon as possible. Thanks for being so patient!

Fang POV

Of course, after seeing the memory it was even harder trying to get to sleep than before. Because, in addition to feeling guilty that I had let them take his memories, I now felt majorly guilty about having eaten his food while we were all practically starving in the School.

I rolled over in bed, clenching my eyes shut. But no matter what I did, I couldn't get his face out of my mind. My little brother, looking at me. His bangs hanging in his eyes. Hiding them.

He's looking at me in reproach. He's mad at me, I know it. I couldn't keep my best friend from disappearing.

I rolled over some more. I needed to see him, the real him, just once more. To tell him I'm sorry.

But that was impossible. I'd never get the chance again. There was no way. Iggy was gone, and I'd have to live with myself.

I stood. I couldn't sleep; wouldn't be able to. And with Max gently trying to coax the crying Angel back asleep, I was alone.

But I couldn't stay here.

I stood silently for a moment, just out of bed, looking around me at everything. It was night, plus the lights were off, so it was dark and I could only see basic outlines and small details.

But it was more than Iggy ever saw.

Gently, I closed my eyes and put my hands carefully out in front of me. I tried to listen to my surroundings, but it's not like they gave off any sounds. I tried to remember the way to the door and stepped forward.

Have you ever tried walking anywhere with your eyes closed? You always feel the urge to open them, like the urge to scratch an itch, or that uncomfortable feeling you get when you were about to sneeze, but it wouldn't come. And even if you knew that there was an open space in front of you, you still always felt like you were about to walk into something.

I felt like giving up after about the time I finally reached the doorway. I hadn't bumped into anything, but not seeing anything was beginning to bug me.

But I didn't open my eyes, because it's not like Iggy ever could. He had to walk around like that all the time. I wonder, did he feel like I do? Like he just wanted to give up and open his eyes.

But they were already open.

Suddenly I felt a pit in my stomach.

I ignored it and continued forward, just walking slowly, running my hand along the wall. Waiting for something. Something to happen. I don't know what.

But then something did happen when my hand met empty air. I was so surprised, I opened my eyes involuntarily.

It was Iggy's room.

Empty. Iggy's room, empty of Iggy. Devoid of the soul reason it existed. It was a hollow feeling, looking in there and not seeing Iggy.

But still, I wanted to go in.

So I did.

Iggy's bed was unmade, as it had been since we'd taken 'James' from it that evening. I passed it wordlessly, moving on to his dresser. The drawers were ajar, so I shut them carefully.

I noticed something that I really hadn't paid attention to before. I mean, I had known it, but I hadn't realized it before, you know? Like how sometimes while you're half asleep, it will be raining. And you'll know it. But then after a while, you'll suddenly go 'whoa, it's raining'. It's like that when I realize that Iggy doesn't have anything decorating his room.

In mine, of course, it's mostly dark colors. But there are posters and stuff, and things crammed all over the top of my dresser and desk. In Max's room she doesn't have posters so much as paintings and pictures given to her by her mom, and there are lots of random crap. Nudge has her room decked with baubles and fashion stuff. Gazzy's has superhero stuff, and Angel has all these stuffed animals.

Iggy, his room isn't exactly bare. There's his bed, of course. His bedside table has a few items on it, but his dresser doesn't and his desk is tidy. There's nothing on the walls except for a page from a magazine he'd found a while ago; it was brilliantly Technicolor and seemed almost iridescent, and Iggy loved to feel the colors.

I moved on to his desk. I noticed one other thing then; on Max's and my own desk, there's a reading lamp. No such lamp on Iggy's, although he wouldn't have needed it anyway. There wasn't a lamp on his bedside table either.

I moved and opened the top drawer of the desk. It contained a row of sharpened pencils, a pencil sharpener, erasers, and lots of pencil shavings. I frowned, wondering why Iggy would have pencils. It's not like he could write.

I moved to the next drawer, and that's where I found my answer.

A huge stack of paper. All covered in sketches.

I pulled them out, intrigued, and struggled to make them out, but it was too dark. So I took them back to my room and turned on the light at my own desk, setting the papers down.

The first sketch was just a paper covered in random lines and scribbles. I grinned half-heartedly at Iggy's somewhat weak attempt. Then I moved to the next one and my eyes just about popped out of my head.

It was me and Max, when we were about five. We're smiling widely and laughing, decked in our old School uniform. The faces are so perfect, they look almost like a photograph. I stare at it for a long moment, trying to figure out how Iggy could have drawn this. I had never had the slightest inkling he had any artistic talent.

I put the page to the side and looked at the next one; baby Gazzy, with his hair spiked up and his eyes shut tight, probably sleeping.

The next one was a smiling little Nudge, tugging at my hand with Max holding Gazzy at my side. We were probably on our way to some training exercise.

Next was an Eraser, half-morphed, snarling cruelly and bearing down on a wailing Nudge.

Then, a huge hulking form in a white lab coat; it reminded me of that odd scientist, Professor Jordan or something, that we had confronted at the School.

I flipped through more drawings. Cages. Mutants. Dying animals. Me again. Nudge. Gazzy. Max. Max. Max. Another scientist. A huge, bright light shining down on a gurney. A scientist wielding a scalpel. Blood spattered on a wall. Max. Nudge. All of us.

These were all portraits of snatches of Iggy's memories of the School from before he lost his vision.

But eventually the pictures changed. They became slightly different, almost unearthly. Something I could make out as what could be the E-shaped house, but different. An oddly-shaped tree. An almost mythical-looking bird.

Then a portrait. Someone. It could be me, but it was different; I could recognize myself in it, but it wasn't exactly me. There was a similar one of Max, and of Angel and Gazzy and Nudge.

This was how Iggy saw us.

I moved on some more. There were more of these almost-exact replicas of ourselves. There were pictures of shapes, of objects, of trees and grass and rocks. And bombs.

Then there came a portrait of someone that looked exactly like Max, and for a moment I wondered how Iggy had known what she looked like. But this girl had her wings spread behind her, and they were black.

It was Meagan.

I stared at it for a long moment.

Then I moved on to multiple pictures of us, of the entire flock. Me and Max and Nudge and Gazzy and Angel.

Then I noticed something and frowned. I stared at the picture, then I moved back through the pile I had already looked at, flicking through them, and found I was right.

There were none of Iggy himself.

With growing apprehension I turned again to the pictures I had yet to look at and flipped through them, quickly. More of us. More of objects. And then, at the very bottom, one that seemed like it was supposed to have been Iggy; long arms and legs, very tall, very thin. But there was no face. Instead, Iggy had left that part completely blank.

And over the top were words, scrambled, uneven, lopsided words, with some backwards letters and other letters that looked incorrect, all spelling out the same thing; a long string of words that flowed over and over in an almost rhythmic way.

I don't want to be here. I don't want to be here. I want to leave. I want to die.

Poor Iggy, totally traumatized and with some serious mental issues. And stupid, stupid flock for not noticing it sooner.

Well, thanks for reading. Please, PLEASE review! It helps me update faster!

4. Talking

Okay. I decided to write a new chappie, because I have time and I've been thinking about it for a while. So, to all my faithful readers, here is the new chappie.

Oh, and I appreciate the amount of reviews I got. I am hoping to break 300 with this fic, since the second one broke 200 if I'm not mistaken. I hope all of you take my goal to heart and update bunches! Thanks!

Fang POV

By the time I had finished staring at that final picture, it was morning. I had spent all night going through Iggy's art.

I stood with the pile of papers in hand and made my way out my room and into the kitchen, where I found Max. She was standing up by the stove and struggling to light it. On the stove was a pan lathered in olive-oil, and next to it was a bowl full of lumpy pancake batter.

"Max," I said, and her shoulders slumped, her head turned down. I heard her sniffle.

"Fang, it won't work for me," she said. "Iggy's pancake recipe. I thought maybe if I made it good, he would… but it's not working, it's just not…"

I continued to stand there, watching the love of my life cry into an oiled pan. I moved forward cautiously.

"I found something. In Iggy's room," I said, and Max turned to look at me.

"Yeah?" she asked, wiping her hand across her eyes. "What is it?"

I held out the papers, and she took them, staring. The top one was the picture of me and Max from the School.

She looked at it for a long time.

"You drew this?" she finally asked.

"No," I answered. "Iggy did."

Max frowned and looked up at me.



She looked back down at the papers and began to flip through them. She did so quickly, all the way down until she got to the last one; the 'self portrait'. With the horrible words. Then she froze.

"I think Iggy had some problems," I manage. "We should talk to your mom."


I nod, staring at the words.

I don't want to be here. I don't want to be here. I want to leave. I want to die. I don't like it. It's too horrible. I don't like it here. Why can't I die? Just let me die…

I don't like those words. Those horrible words.

And Iggy had written them.

Without even knowing what I was doing, I reached back and turned the stove off – don't want to start a fire – and began walking towards mom's room with Fang. We got there quickly, because it was closest to the kitchen.

Mom was already awake, her door ajar. When I pushed it open, she turned from putting some clothes in her dresser. She was fully dressed, though her hair was slightly rumpled.

"Max? Fang? What are you…"

I held out the pictures.

"I need you to help us find out what was wrong with Iggy," I say. Mom frowns and walks forward.

"Wrong with Iggy? I don't know what you mean," she answered, then reached forward and took the pictures. She took one look at the top one and gasped. "Max, did you draw these? These are amazing!"

"No," Fang answered for me. "Iggy did."

Mom's happy smile slipped slowly from her face and she turned back to the penciled sketches.

"But these are…"

"This one," I said, and showed her Iggy's not-quite self-portrait. She took it and looked at it for a while, her eyes flitting across the page as she read Iggy's sloppy, uneven scrawl. I don't even know how he was able to write those many words, not even being able to see them or spell that well, but he had obviously managed.

Mom sat heavily on the bed, quite suddenly, and I jumped.

"Max, this isn't… this isn't good," she said softly. "This isn't good at all."

"We knew that much," Fang said, sounding slightly harsh, but I didn't care, because at the moment I was numb.

"But this… this shows sever psychological torment!" mom said, gesturing to the paper. "Iggy must have had really traumatic events in his youth…" she read further, and her eyes widened. "These last few lines…"

I snatched the paper back swiftly. I hadn't been able to really read any further than the first few sentences before I became slightly sick, but now I read through it. And mom was right, the last few lines…

They all keep whispering all at once and I can't make it out, but they just talk louder and louder and it hurts, it hurts… and He's just touching me and laughing and I can't stop it and he's touching me and I don't like it and it hurts so bad…

Mom started talking again. "Max, there's an exercise doctors sometimes perform on mental patients, where they ask them to just write words and to never stop or pause until a specific amount of time has gone by. When this happens, it usually starts out random and then evolves into deep, suppressed feelings or memories. This often helps uncover what type of trauma is causing the mental disorders." She paused and looked at me and Fang. "That seems like what that paper is, just words that Iggy wrote, and…" she bit her lip.

"And what?" Fang asked.

"I studied psychology in college," mom continued. "In fact, I majored in it. I just became a vet instead because I couldn't find a job. This… what Iggy wrote could indicate severe stress, anxiety, obviously some mental problems. Past trauma. Suicidal thought. Maybe Schizophrenia. And I know you were all abused at the School, what with the experiments you were forced through, but this…" she gestured at the paper. "This just indicates possible… well, not just physical abuse, but mental abuse and even sexual abuse as well."

Fang's eyes widened, as did mine. We had all been through physical abuse, it came with the whole mutant bird-kid thing. And I had known about the mental abuse from Jeb, all of Iggy's psychological torment with Mr. Evil Scientist. But… but sexual abuse? It hadn't crossed my mind. I hadn't thought it possible. But then again, Iggy had been freaked more than I would have thought normal by Mr. Evil, especially when he touched him.

It would also explain Iggy's absolute submission. He would have never just stood around, not talking or disobeying if the only threat Mr. Evil posed were words. The way Iggy had acted, it had definitely been something more, something deeper. And if it was caused by… by sexual abuse, then…

Then Iggy was scarred more than we had known. And we hadn't even bothered to find out what it was. All those times Iggy came back from experiments shivering, or weak, or hurt, or terrified, and we had just watched it, whispered words of confidence as we always did to each other. Not even bothering to find out if it was something more.

And we had never even noticed. We hadn't noticed when Iggy had stopped eating, giving us his food instead. We hadn't noticed the psychological torment he had been put through. We hadn't noticed any particular reason why he was always so small and weak. And we hadn't noticed this.

God, we were horrible.

I just sort of stood there, staring at the paper for a moment. Fang moved next to me and placed his hand over mine.

"Max, Fang… I'm sorry," mom said, sounding tired and old. Then she handed us the pictures. "Don't worry, though. These things… these things can be fixed. They can be helped. We can help him if you…"

If you get his memories back.

I turned and walked out of there, because Iggy had lived a horrible, tragic life, and now he was gone. And we couldn't even fix it. And it was my fault.

"Max!" Gazzy said, and I turned to look at him. Iggy… I mean 'James' was standing behind him, holding his hand and looking confused and nervous. "Iggy… I mean, um, James is hungry," Gazzy continued. His eyes darkened.

"Okay," I finally answered. "I've got pancake batter ready."

I handed the pictures to Fang, and he walked over and into his room with them. Just then, Meagan, Nudge and Angel materialized into the hallway from their rooms.

"Is it breakfast time?" Nudge asked.

"Yeah," Angel answered. "Max is making pancakes."

Nudge's eyes grew sad. "I wish Iggy could make them. He makes them the best," she said, so softly I think I may have been the only one who heard.

"It's a good thing Miss Max is making them," Ig… 'James' suddenly spoke up shyly. "Because I can't cook."

Okay. So, now you know some things about Iggy that you hadn't before. The Schizophrenia thing also explains the voices in his head in the fifth chapter of Awake. I hope you 'liked' this chapter, and keep reading! And, please, REVIEW!

5. Epiphany

Okay. Here it is. Chapter… five, I think. I have to say, I was disappointed with the amount of reviews from the last chapter. Only about four or five, I'd say. Was it bad? Did you not like it? If so, I'd rather you review constructive criticism or just plain criticism than not reviewing at all. And, if you do like it, nice reviews are always dearly appreciated.


Have you ever said something was 'awkward'?

You don't know the meaning of the word.

'Awkward' isn't running into your ex on a date. 'Awkward' isn't eating dinner with your divorced mom and dad and your step-parent. 'Awkward' isn't tripping on your way down the aisle on your wedding day.

No. 'Awkward' is eating breakfast at your table with your previously-younger-turned older brother who had recently had his memories deleted and replaced with different ones, virtually becoming a completely different person. And that person being nine years younger and having never known you before.

The table was pretty quiet. We just sat there for a moment while mom made pancakes with the batter I had readied. 'James' was sitting in-between Nudge and Gazzy, looking uncomfortable and anxious. The rest of us were all staring at him; I assume that's what was making him uncomfortable.

Mom finally had finished with all the batter, and so set out a plate for everyone. Forks too. She had already put on the butter and syrup.

I didn't start eating in favor of watching 'James'. Fang was doing to same.

'James' seemed nervous at first, sitting stiffly. Then he awkwardly lifted his hand and felt on the table for a fork. Then for his plate.

Mom had thoughtfully cut up the pancakes – she would never have done such a thing for Iggy, but had obviously thought that any blind seven-year-old wouldn't mind. It in fact made it easier for 'James' to eat, because he obviously wasn't as coordinated as Iggy is.

As Iggy… had been.

I finally began to eat my pancakes, but Fang was still staring at Iggy. Er, 'James'. There was this strange look in his eyes, and I wanted to know what he was thinking. Unfortunately, I wasn't Angel.

Everyone finished unusually fast, even 'James'. Actually, the boy hardly ate anything. When asked by Ella why he wasn't hungry, 'James' answered "I'm not used to eating that much. And this food is so filling."

It made my own belly ache to think of Iggy not being hungry, since him and Fang were always the biggest eater.

Fang POV

I went back into my room with Max after we were done with breakfast. I couldn't stand being with 'James' for much longer. It was too hard, to look at my best friend, to look into his blind eyes, to listen to his voice, and have it be a different person.

It was too hard.

I moved instantly to my bed and sat down. Max followed, putting her hand over mine. We sat like that for a while, not talking, just sitting and being sad together.

"What are we going to do?" Max finally asked.

"You're the leader, Max. Lead."

She was quiet some more.

"I don't know how to get Iggy back. It's probably impossible."


She paused and turned her head to my desk, where Iggy's drawings were.

"But his body is still here. It's still his mind, his brain, right? So technically, it's as if Iggy had been… I don't know, reborn. Maybe he doesn't know us, but we can still build memories."

I thought about what she was saying for a long time, and realized it was true. I mean, if Iggy actually had died, and been resurrected or something as a baby, we would still love him. We'd still want to build memories. We still could, just in a different way.

"But…" Max continued. "But… it's still not actually Iggy. And I know we're going to be guilty about that for the rest of our lives."

I turned my eyes to train them on the floor.

"I know."

Max took a deep shuddering breath.

"Also, we need to understand Iggy more. We need to get all of his memories from Angel, so on the slight possibility that he will ever come back, we can help him."

My mind went back to the memory we had witnessed last night. And I thought, there are probably many, many more things about Iggy we had never known. That boy I used to know, the best friend with the talent for sarcasm, that teenage boy with a hunger for descriptions of hot girls and a perverted sense of humor… that wasn't the real Iggy. The real Iggy had been buried deep, too deep, so deep that we had never caught a glimpse of it until he had been about to die.

The real Iggy was someone I had never really spoken to. But I planned to change that.

Iggy had suffered. And I mean really suffered. He had problems, complexes, disorders. Serious trauma. Mental stress. Horrible memories that, we had discovered, may include scenes of sexual abuse. Yet he had never told us, never talked about it, and had still managed to keep up his façade and pretend to be a happy-go-lucky, optimistic sort of person.

We'd change that. If he came back, we'd talk with him until he got everything off his chest. And then he'd be better, much better.

I had a sudden flashback to our life before he had been kidnapped, before he had had that dream programmed into his head in the first place. No sign of any of the pain he had always lived with. We had been happy, we had had fun. What if none of this had ever happened, and we could go back to that?

But no. Because then, I wouldn't know anything about Iggy. And he would still have to live with his past. The only difference being that we would be oblivious to his pain.

That wasn't ever going to happen again.

Listen, I'm sorry this chapter was short. But it really wasn't meant to be long. It was sort of an epiphany on Fang and Max's side, and I needed that to be in here. I hope you enjoyed it, and the chapters will be getting longer in the future. And, I promise, there will be much Iggy. You can count on that.

By the way, Pandorad, so sorry this is late. I promised it'd be up last night, but I had a last minute thing my parents forced me to do. So sorry.

REVIEW! Please!

For poor, traumatized Iggy's sake!

6. Building

Okay. I know I take whiles to update, but you can blame that on pandorad24 (heh heh). No, it's not like she tied me up and I was incapable to reach the computer, but I've decided to only update when she does. Therefore, if she's late in updating, I'm even later. TAKE THAT, PANDORAD! HOW'S THAT FOR MOTIVE?

Ha. Anyway, sorry. And here you go.

Meagan POV

It was unspoken among the flock, but I was an outsider. I knew it. They knew it. Everyone knew it.

I mean, I hadn't been with them all their lives. But that wasn't exactly my fault then, was it? No, it was the Whitecoats. They cloned Max and then raised me all alone, separated even from the other experiments. Oh, they treated me just like all the rest of them. Experiments performed daily, tortures, etcetera. But I was alone with it all.

Max had her family, made special for her. Can you believe it? Lucky Max got a family that were practically programmed to love her. What do I get? I get a special, shiny cage all to myself.

Oh, how I wish I was Max. Max had everything. She had friends, she had family. She even had a real mom and a real sister. I guess genetically they were mine as well, but it's not like they saw me that way. Max even had… well, she even had Iggy.

Yeah, Max doesn't know how lucky she is. She grew up knowing Iggy for her whole life. Does she know how much I would give to have had that opportunity? All I got was five-hundred days in a dream.

She never even appreciated him! No, while Iggy was secretly in love with her, giving her absolutely everything he had, she was making kissy-lips to Fang. No offense to Fang, of course; he was Iggy's closest friend, and I had no grudge against him whatsoever. But still, why would Max even look at other boys when she had Iggy right in front of her?

So, I may be desperately in love with Iggy. And Iggy may be in love with me as well. But however this went, whether Iggy and I started dating and fell in love and got married… well, Iggy would still be in love with Max. And I'd know it, because I knew what Iggy was made for, and no matter how hard he tried, it's not like you can just discard that. It was in his genetics.

Besides, there was always the little problem that Iggy's memories had been deleted.

No, I'm not undermining that problem. It was a very, very big problem… it's just that I knew that if I thought about it any more than I was, I would break down, and probably nothing could get me to stop crying.

But now, I had to cope. I had to cope with living with actual people for the first time in my life. I mean sure, in the dream I had lived with Iggy. But Iggy was more like… like my second half then a different person. I wonder if he felt that way too…

Anyway, I'm getting off-topic.

I have to learn to cope with living with my new not-so mother and my new not-so sister. I have to cope with living with the girl I was cloned from. I have to cope with living with Nudge, a girl I have done absolutely nothing to and yet still seems to dislike me. I have to cope with fitting into a family I barely know.

And I have to cope with living with a person who looks and talks like Iggy, but isn't.

How ever will I?


"Miss Max!" 'James' called eagerly as I walked into the room. He and Gazzy were down on hands and knees, playing with toys. I don't know how he knew it was me; but then again, he was in Iggy's body. His ears probably picked up the sounds of my footsteps and breathing. It was always so amazing how Iggy could do that.

"Yeah?" I replied, struggling to keep my voice normal. Building memories, building memories, I told myself.

"Wow, Gazzy has told me all about you! You're so awesome! You can save the world!"

I stared at Iggy's excited face and struggled not to break down.

"Yeah? Well… thanks."

'James' continued to grin broadly at me. I noticed some slight differences between him and Iggy.

Iggy… well, Iggy was sixteen. He obviously was more mature than this 'James'. Whenever Iggy smiled, his smile was… I guess you could say slightly reserved. 'James's smile was much more open, free, childish. Also, 'James' had much more childish mannerisms. Just the way he moved and acted was different.

The change, though, that struck me most, was the way he kept his bangs.

I know it seems weird. I mean, why would that be too drastic? But the change made me realize just how much Iggy had communicated by the way he kept his bangs.

I mean, Iggy's bangs were always really long. Once, when we were both chilling in the living room, I had reached over and tugged at them. They reached just above his nose.

"Why do you keep your bangs so long?" I asked. Iggy pulled back from my hand.

"I just do. Okay?" he answered snappily. I huffed.

"But you're hiding your eyes!"

Then again, looking back, I guess that was kind of his point. Keeping his bangs long, hanging directly in his eyes. None of us ever questioned it, because obviously he was blind, so it's not like it bothered his vision. But it must have been part of his insecurities.

You know. It's not like we didn't notice it. We never even mentioned it, because we never wanted to embarrass him. But it was true that whenever all of us went out to the city, whether it was shopping, to the park, or out to dinner, people always stared at him.

I mean, he's tall. Just about six foot four. Plus, being a ginger is sort of obvious; strawberry blond hair and pale skin sort of stands out. Then, being blind and all, that just about tops it.

So he grew his bangs out to cover his eyes, so that people wouldn't stare as much. It's sort of a defense mechanism of his, like the way he drums his fingers against his thigh and picks at his sleeve. Hiding from the world behind his bangs.

But 'James'. 'James' is different. In fact, he's brushed Iggy's bangs behind his ears, revealing his face and eyes clearly. Totally an opposing personality. Bright, happy, and not at all withdrawn or shy.

It makes my heart hurt, looking into Iggy's gorgeous blue eyes, to think that anyone would find a sick fascination in gawking at him.

"Miss Max?" 'James' asked again. I shook myself out of my reminiscing.

"Oh! Sorry, Iggy. Oh, I mean, James."

'James' cocked his head. "Everyone keeps calling me that. 'Iggy'. Who's he? Do I look like him?"

"Uh…" my voice cracked. "Yeah."

'James' grinned. "Cool! Is he a friend? Can you tell me about him?"

"He… Iggy… he…" Just then, Fang walked in and shot me a questioning glance.

"Oh! Mister Fang!" 'James' spoke up. "Miss Max is telling me about someone named Iggy."

"Is she now?" Fang asked quietly, sending me a strange look. His eyes were sad.

"Iggy, well…" I took a deep breath. It's never going to change. I can't act like this all the time. Despite the fact that my closest brother was virtually dead, I couldn't just break whenever someone mentioned his names. I had to be strong. I was going to get him back eventually, right? So there was no reason to be sad!

Deep down, though, I knew I was just deluding myself.

"Iggy looks a lot like you. He has strawberry hair, just like you. And… and he's really pale like you. And he's also really tall for his age." 'James' was eating it all up with an eager expression. Probably excited that someone looked just like him. If only he knew.

"Yeah. And… well, yeah. He, he is a really, really good friend. We all, we all love him."

'James' frowned. "I didn't know he was here. I just know Dr. Martinez and Miss Nudge and Angel and Gazzy. And you and Mister Fang."

"Well," I started again, wondering how much longer I was going to be able to take this. "He… well, he's not here."

"Where did he go?" 'James' just seemed curious.

"He went away."


"Because he was… taken." I looked up and shot a glance at Fang, who was still standing there.

"Taken? You mean… was he kidnapped?"

"Um… not exactly," I answered, started to feel uncomfortable explaining where Iggy went to… well, to Iggy.

"Then how?"

"Well, I guess he disappeared."

'James' scowled quite unexpectedly. "He sounds stupid."

"Don't ever, ever say that again." It was Fang, and I looked up to see is Fang stone cold and angry.

'James' flinched at Fang's harsh voice.

"It's just, if I lived with you guys, I would never ever ever ever disappear. If he did, he's stupid."

"It's not like he had a choice," I said softly, my bottom lip quivering. Fang noticed and hurried over, standing beside me. 'James' looked apologetic.

"I'm sorry, miss Max. But if I was Iggy, I would have stayed. I wouldn't have let anything take me away. 'Cause he was so lucky to know people like you!"

I frowned.

"It's okay."

Fang relinquished as well. "Yeah. I'm sorry I snapped at you."

'James' smiled. "You know what? When I grow up, I'm gonna be just like mister Fang!"

Fang looked taken aback. "Why?"

"Because you're so cool! And you protect Miss Max! I wanna be able to protect her, too, because when I grown up I wanna marry her!"

There was a thump from the other side of the room, and the two of us looked up in time to see Meagan, eyes wide, glistening with tears, turn and dart from the room.

There you go. I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Drama, huh? Anyway, thanks for waiting so long! I do try to update, but I have so much stuff going on. Bear with me.

7. Memories

Well. I was bored. So for about thirty minutes, I sat at my computer making exactly 21,905 pages of capital I's. Yeah. I know. I have no life. Then, I thought, wait! I could just write a new chapter! That's where this new chapter comes in.


When I saw Meagan run out of there, my first thought was 'Why the heck is she running?' Then I realized.

She had spent the entire however-many years of her life in the School, the only good part having been being in that 'dream' and falling in love with Iggy. Now, she could finally be reunited with him, and he doesn't even remember her. And this new person… he's in love with me still.

I run over that in my head. It hurts.

"Uh… sorry, Ig… James," I said, standing. "I gotta go see Meagan."

"Okay!" 'James' answered. "Me and Mister Fang will play!"

"Just call me Fang," Fang said as I started out of the room. "And you can just call her Max."

I walked quickly out of that room and tried to listen to where Meagan might be. Even though my ears weren't as good as Iggy's, I could still hear pretty well. But nada.

I decided to go outside, thinking that any mutant bird-kid in her right mind would like to go into a forest when she was feeling down. I know that's what I would do if I didn't have my spot on the roof with Fang.

I stepped into the kitchen and to the back door.

"Hey, Max!" Ella spoke up. "Meagan just rushed out there. She looked like she was crying. Do you know what happened?"

So I was right.

"No, Ells. I'm gonna go get her right now."

Ella smiled and waved as I darted out the door and through the yard. Now I would be able to track her.

And I did, through the trees and the grass and moss and dirt. We bird-kids travel distances fast, so it took me about half a mile before I could hear her in front of me.

It took me another quarter mile to catch up.

There she was, standing in the middle of a clearing, stretching her black-and-indigo wings as if about to take off. She was rubbing her eyes furiously with the back of her hands and sniffling.

"Where do you plan to go?" I spoke up, and she jumped, turning around to see me.

"I… I don't know," she answered, sounding utterly helpless. I stepped forward, holding out my arms.

"So why are you even planning to go?"

"Because!" she shouted back at me. "It's not like anyone cares if I go! I bet half of you wouldn't even notice!"

Meagan was angry, tears running down her face. There was a crazed, almost terrified expression in her eyes.

"Iggy will care." I said this stiffly, my voice cold. Iggy will care.

Meagan froze, frantic.

"Iggy's not even here! And he loves you!"

I averted my eyes, knowing that what she said was the truth. But still, I just couldn't let her leave. Iggy needed her.

"Iggy will care, and maybe the rest of us won't. But we'll notice."

"Ha," Meagan scoffed. "Like that matters." But she had let her wings relax slightly, and I knew she wasn't planning on taking off anytime soon anymore.

"Meagan," I started again. I was having an effect on her. I didn't want her to leave. "If you want us to care, you need to stay so we can get to know you. I mean, we hadn't known you existed a week ago!"

Meagan continued to stare vaguely up at the sky, blinking furiously. She rubbed her sleeve against her nose.

"You," she said, her voice soft. "You have everything. I wish I was you."

I paused. I felt slightly flattered. No one had ever told me they wanted to be me before.

"But… but you're not." I was beginning to understand Meagan a little more. "And no matter what you do, you'll never be. You are your own person. And you now have people who are willing to get to know you, become your friends, and eventually love you. Even if you can never be me, are you willing to give that up?"

Meagan shook her head. I took several steps forward until I was right in front of her.

"And Iggy. Did you know, after we rescued him from that 'dream', he was so depressed? He always used to talk in his sleep, all about you. About how much he missed you, etcetera. He used to sleep all the time, and he never said anything, but I knew it was just so he could dream about you."

"Really?" Meagan implored, looking into my eyes. I noticed that she was a tad bit shorter than me; it must be because she spent a longer time in the School, therefore receiving less nourishment.

"Really. And just because he's become a different person… well, I'm going to fix it somehow. And when he comes back, and he knows you're here, he'll be ecstatic."

"Really?" Meagan asked again.

"You have no idea."

All was quiet for a few moments, then Meagan spoke up.

"I… I'm sorry," she said, drawing her wings back into her back. "I don't know what I was thinking. I guess I should give you guys a chance before I go darting off into who-knows-where."

"Of course," I answered. "Besides, you're growing on me already. And Ella and mom are absolutely delighted to have a new sister and daughter."

She grinned at me, and I smiled back. Then we headed back to the house together, side by side.

Fang POV

'James' was fun.

I mean, no matter the fact that he was in my best friend's body, he was an adorable seven-year-old boy. He was so excited to have friends. 'James' had lived in the School his whole life, with no friends, no one to care for him. And now he was playing with me, and despite how much I missed Iggy – so much I felt as if my heart and lungs had been torn out – I couldn't help it. It was like playing with Angel or Gazzy when they were little.

"Fang, this is fun!" 'James' said. We had been going over the different toy cars Gazzy owned; 'James' had inherited Iggy's ability to feel colors, and was marveling at all of them.

"Yeah," I agreed, looking into my brother's face. I wouldn't give up on Iggy, but I needed to do what me and Max had promised; build memories. Maybe all of 'James' entire identity had been artificially created, but 'James' didn't know it. He needed a friend. And even though Max said we'd get Iggy back, I couldn't delude myself. Iggy was gone, and I doubted anything could bring him back. So I was going to make friends with 'James'.

"Boys," Dr. Martinez said, sticking her head into the living room. Her gaze lingered for a moment on 'James'. "It's time for lunch. Wash hands."

'James' cocked his head, then turned to me. "Wash hands? I never did that for meals."

"Well, you have to do it here," I told him, standing. "Here, I'll show you where the bathroom is."

I'll have to admit, but even if I could accept 'James' being a cute little boy, it was still slightly unnerving for a 'cute little boy' to be taller than me. And, hey, maybe Iggy didn't have the ability to actually grow a mustache or beard, but he definitely had facial hair. That was sort of awkward.

Then again, we could always say it was just amnesia when we were out in public. It wasn't at all, but it would make sense to a stranger.

I showed 'James' the bath, shower, toilet, sink. I washed my own hands, then Iggy… um, 'James' washed his.

But 'James' merely put his hands under warm water for a moment, then pulled out.

"No," I spoke up. "That's not proper hand washing! Use soap."


I sighed. "Here."

I took Iggy's long hands in mine and stuck them under the faucet, turning on the water, and put soap all over Iggy's hands. 'James' rubbed them half-heartedly for a little while, then rinsed them off and turned off the water. He then dried them with the cloth towel.

"Give them here," I said, taking the hands to inspect them. I don't know why, but little kids generally brought out this paternal instinct in me. 'James' was no exception.

"Good…" I said, inspecting them. Clean hands.

But then I noticed something.

My eyes widened in shock as I saw marks over Iggy's wrists. I pushed up the sleeves of the long-sleeved shirt, and got an even bigger shock when I saw the marks go up all the way to the crook of his elbow.


And they aren't scars from Erasers or experiments. These scars are neat, even, criss-crossing, straight. Perfect. Yet so horrible.

"What…" I whispered, horrified. "These are…"

The scars cover both of Iggy's forearms, so completely that it looks as if all the skin is entirely scar tissue. Of course, we mutant bird-kids heal quickly, easily, so our scars are often barely noticeable. These scars even look faded enough to have occurred maybe two years ago.

But two years ago, we were out of the School. Supposed to have been out of the reach of all harm. Safe.

And we hadn't been attacked recently in any way that could have injured Iggy's arms so.

Which leaves only one alternative.

And it means that the razor Iggy bought when we were ten had been used in ways it wasn't supposed to have been.

I'm sorry that I haven't been updating as swiftly as pandorad24. She's just too awesome with the updating. Seriously. I can't even compare. I hope you all forgive me.

And please REVIEW. Criticism. Advice. Suggestion. Praise. I love it all.

8. Cutting

Okay, so pandorad24 has been so awesome at updating that I decided I would grace you all with a new chapter. I hope you enjoy, because I've actually got homework that I'm supposed to be doing right now. Ha. Hahaha. HAHAHAHA.

I don't know why I did that.

Chapter time…

Fang POV

I didn't tell Max; just pulled James' sleeves back down and led him back to the kitchen. The lunch table was set with sandwiches, cut fruit, and drinks aplenty. I grabbed a turkey sandwich, some apples, and a glass of water from the sink faucet. Much less than usual, but then again, practically everyone was eating less than usual.

Thinking. That's all I could do while I ate. Think.

Iggy had cut himself.

Just those four words.


Oh gosh.

I shuffled through alternatives in my head. It could have been Erasers. Some sort of experiment done on him before we escaped the School. He could have fallen or tripped and got scraped-up on something on the ground – concrete or twigs. Maybe…

But even suggesting them was stupid. If it had been Erasers or an experiment, we would have noticed. I mean, it would have bled a ton. And he would have come to us for bandages and stuff. And we bird-kids don't trip, not unless we're totally not paying attention to where we're going. It was true that Iggy tended to trip more than the rest of us for obvious reasons, but he could never have gotten so hurt from a fall.

So, Iggy had cut himself.

I was starting to hate myself. I mean, sure, our healing powers greatly benefit with the fact that our scars fade quickly and become barely noticeable. But still. Iggy shouldn't have been able to do that for so long without us noticing…

Unless we really had ignored him.

Like Angel said, we hadn't really paid attention. I mean, we had managed to not notice him sneaking out to fly during dinner several days in a row. That's what had started the whole 'dream' instance in the first place; Iggy was taken while we weren't noticing.

Had this been going on for longer than we had thought?

Okay. The facts;

Iggy had had a horrible, traumatic childhood.

Iggy had an inferiority complex.

Iggy had drastic insecurities.

Iggy felt unloved, unwanted and disposable.

Iggy… used to cut himself.

The scars were faded enough to have ceased two years ago.

That would be two years ago for Iggy, being less than one year ago for us.

They were numerous enough to have been occurring for years before then.

But when had he started?

The only thing I could figure was that it had definitely been after we escaped the School; that was the first time any of us had had any privacy. He wouldn't have been able to do it any other time. Also, he had bought a razor for apparently no reason the first time we had ever gone shopping. I had never seen that razor again.

But when had he started? Was it right when we escaped? Was it weeks later? Months? Years?

I didn't know.

Fang, Angel spoke in my mind. Stop hating yourself. It made him feel better.

I was shocked for a moment, my mind a blank. Then I responded.

Angel? You know about this?

I've known ever since he started.

And then I was mad.

"How could you?" I snapped, standing and bringing my hands down on the table. Hard.

Angel flinched, and everyone else stopped eating and turned to look at me. James was confused.

"Angel!" I said again.

"What's going on?" Max asked.

"Fang found out I died his favorite jeans pink," Angel responded sheepishly. "Sorry Fang. I'll go die them back."

She jumped out of her chair and walked steadily out the kitchen and down towards my room.

"I'm going with you," I growled under my breath, following.

I reached my room to find Angel sitting on my bed. I loomed over her.

"So, tell my just why you thought the little fact that Iggy was cutting wasn't important enough to tell us all? Or stop him?" I asked, furious. Maybe Angel was just a little girl, but she was more mature than Gazzy, maybe even Nudge. And right now, I didn't feel like going easy on her.

Angel drew back, cowering.

"I didn't think it was bad."

"Not bad? This is Iggy! Cutting himself!" I realized I'd raised my voice, so lowered it hurriedly, hissing through my teeth. "That is really bad."

Angel looked up at me with wide, watering blue eyes.

"I was little, Fang. And you should have heard it. I can read minds, remember? He always felt so much better afterwards."

"Oh, really?" I asked, sighing, my anger still present but no longer at Angel. At myself. "Please, Angel, just tell me. Tell me everything."

Angel turned her eyes back to the floor and began twirling her forefinger in circles on my blanket.

"He started a few months after we got out of the School. I… I walked in on him. He made me promise not to tell anyone, because it was a secret. That it was his secret medicine and it made him feel better." She paused for a moment, looking up to me. I nodded to her to keep going. "He, uh… well, I was young. I believed him then. And he always was happier after he did it.

"I got older, of course. That's when I started to learn what he was actually doing. But Fang, I'm only seven. I know I'm smart and all, but until two years ago, I was barely able to add two and two to get four. He made me promise. So I kept it."

"Wasn't there any time where he got worse?" I asked. Angel was just a little girl; I felt sorry pumping her for this information. But I needed to know this.

"Well, I guess," she answered after another long pause. "But, by the time I turned five, he was able to block his feelings pretty good. And when I was six, he could block them except when he was sleeping. And now, he just has automatic shields. Well, he had automatic shields."

I winced as I was reminded of the distinct lack of Iggy in this house. Then I glanced down at the ground and asked Angel another question.

"How was it supposed to feel… good?" I asked. Angel glanced up.

"I can… I can show you," she ventured reluctantly. "Here…"

Everything hurt. So bad.

It was really too hard.

Everyone had someone except for me. Gazzy had Angel. Max had Angel. Nudge had Fang. Fang had Max. Who did I have? No one.

I was along. I was surrounded by friends and family, but I was never more alone. Not even when I was stuck in the School.

Sometimes it got so hard, I just couldn't take it. So I did what I do now. I went into my room. Late at night. I'd lock the door. And I'd take my razor out of its drawer.

It wasn't like depression. That wasn't it. I heard of people cutting for depression… but this was different. Those people, they had a reason. They were sad. The only reason I had was that I was a miserable failure who deserved to die.

But I couldn't die, because that would hurt my friends. So all I could do was help myself forget everything.

It was so easy; the blade was sharp. Clean. No chance for infection, I washed it after every round.

I didn't need much to feel better. Just two or three. Clean, strait lines, oozing red, and sharp, crisp feeling. So soothing. Like the feeling of the breath you take after being underwater for a while. Refreshing.

It made me forget for a moment. I could just be me, Iggy, and revel in the feeling. I felt a smile grow on my face, and my heart lightened. Iggy. Iggy was a good person. Iggy had a family that loved him. Iggy loved his family. Iggy was safe. Iggy was sweet and nice.

And then, like clockwork, the blood clotted and the good feeling vanished. All I knew was that there were a few more scars and dried blood on my wrist, and that I had to wash it off before anyone else found out. If they did, they'd make me stop and I wouldn't even have those few moments of precious feeling…

I blinked as my mind was drawn from the memory Angel had shown me.

Then my first thought was, if that was Iggy feeling happy, we were terrible friends. And we shouldn't feel so sorry for ourselves.

And I should stop blaming myself, because… because Iggy wouldn't want that.

And that I just had to get Iggy back, because when I did, everything would be alright. Right?

Okay. That chapter's done. I'm sorry if my writing was bad and I offended anyone, really I am. I have no firsthand experience. However, what Iggy was going through was slightly different than what other people go through.

I'm sorry, still, if anyone found it offensive.

And please REVIEW. Criticism and kindness are greatly appreciated.

9. Reminding

I'm so sorry that I haven't been very fast at updating. The problem: I am, indeed, in high school. And my parents (mainly my mom) are trying to get me to actually try to get into a good college. I'm only a FRESHMAN, people! And I did summer school and do honors math, biology, and language arts! Plus, I do French, PE, and art! What more do you want from me?

Anyway, back to the point; mom wants me to join clubs. Unfortunately, I am horrible at going to clubs, because I'm so freaking lazy I'd rather just sit around all afternoon on the computer writing fanfiction. Anyway, I discovered the only loophole to not doing clubs and still being a first choice for a college is by getting my novel published. I started writing it a while ago, but after getting tangled up in fanfiction I stopped for a little bit. Now, I'm going to try to start again and finish it, send it to a publisher, maybe even get famous. I'm certain you all would read it if it was published, right?

Anyway, yeah. I won't be updating nearly as much because I will be struggling to finish this novel. I'm only about 130 pages into it, which is about halfway, but still. Please encourage me.

Anyway, on with the chapter.

Angel POV

I looked at Fang and wondered; had I really done something wrong?

I had never even thought of it. That one time… I was little, I know. I was young. But I was still pretty smart, right? I had my psychic abilities then, only they weren't known to anyone. I hadn't known how to express it then – or that it was something unnatural.

Yes, for a long time I thought that everyone in my family could read minds, everyone could hear each others' thoughts. But that's not the case.

And then I walk in on something like that… it just sort of stops you, makes you freeze up inside, like the whole world is spiraling around you and you are the center of everything. It's dizzy, disturbing.

I just walked in, and there was Iggy, sitting with his back against the wall and his head tilted back, blood running down his arms and landing on a towel. His eyes snapped open and he looked towards me; in my mind I instantly heard him think I thought I locked the door!

I hadn't known what to say; my instinct, mind and heart were telling me three different things. My instinct was to run up to him, help him stop the bleeding. My mind told me to just turn away, I wasn't meant to see this. My heart told me to call for Max.

But before I could do a single thing, there was Iggy, opening his mouth and speaking. "Angel," he said, "don't tell Max. Please."

I couldn't ignore him; I loved him so much. He was my daddy. I had to acknowledge what he was saying.

"Why?" I had answered, and he had responded quickly.

"This is good for me. It's my secret, ultra-special medicine. It makes me feel so much better, Angel. Please. Don't tell Max. She'll take it away."

The desperation in his voice and eyes was heartbreaking, so I had nodded.

"Okay," I promised.

I always knew he was doing it. I heard about stuff like that on television, too… people cutting themselves to feel better. Being 'emo'. I looked at those people on the TV and thought that it was okay, because it was making them feel better. Like it was making Iggy feel better.

I grew up and learned things. About life. About the way people are supposed to act. I started questioning things; when Fang and Max were sad, they didn't cut themselves. So why did Iggy?

The answer was quite simple. Iggy's different than them. He's different, but that's not worse. It's just… different. And I knew a little, tiny bit of what he had been going through in the School. After all, even though Iggy had mental shields, Nudge didn't, and she frequently thought about it. I couldn't understand it at that age, but I knew it wasn't good.

So what, I thought. Iggy cuts himself, but if it makes him feel better, why is that bad?

But eventually I started worrying. He was never dangerous about it. He never cut too deep. He always wore long sleeves to cover up his bandages. But even though he may have never cut deep, he did it in increasing numbers. It got to the point to where I could smell the scent of his blood whenever he walked into a room. I wanted him to stop. Maybe he would.

So I talked to him. I told him that I was scared. That I didn't want him to stop, but he needed to cut back. I told him how I had overheard Jeb telling Max about how too much medicine could be bad for you. I told him that I could smell his blood.

So he did cut back, for a little. But then Max and Fang got into the adolescent phase where they were insensitive towards differences, even made fun of them. Me and Nudge were confused about that, because Iggy never went through any such phase and, after all, we were all as different as different could be. But it didn't stop them, and they often had horribly cruel conversations about things.

We all watched television except for Iggy. We did it so that we could learn how to be more like real kids. The difference between me, Nudge and Gazzy and Max and Fang? We watched different shows.

Gazzy and I tended to watch our TV with Nudge, who loved those sappy, soapy dramas. The kind in which people are depressed or get pregnant at young ages or are gay and oppressed or bullied? Yeah. So we were really sensitized to stuff like that, and always empathetic.

However, Max and Fang watched different, more… well, masculine shows. You know, the kind in which the nerds are beat up and people use 'gay' as an insult and stuff. So while in that horrible adolescent phase, they developed the ability to be mean about that.

And frequently made fun of 'emos'. Which, in their mind, included cutters. Which included Iggy.

I didn't like them talking like that right in front of Iggy, so I tried to get them to stop. But they wouldn't. I wondered halfheartedly if maybe knowing Max and Fang were apathetic towards people who cut would make him stop, but no. It only made him get worse.

I tried to get him to cut back again, and maybe he did. Maybe he didn't. All I knew is that he managed to make the scent of his blood go away.

I was nervous, but keep in mind I was still a mind-reader. Even if his mental blocks shielded his specific thoughts, I could still sense his emotions. Every time he came out of his room, from behind the locked door, he felt so much better. And every time he did it, that little bit of depression that slipped through his shields and into my mind was lessened.

So, I confess. Maybe I did know it was wrong. Maybe I did understand what he was doing. I was intelligent. I was smart. I could understand what he was doing, but deep down I knew it should just stop. I knew I should've told Max.

I used excuses, though. 'Max isn't nice to people like Iggy. She wouldn't understand'. Or 'I promised Iggy I wouldn't tell anyone'. But I was just deluding myself, disguising my real reason for not… for not wanting him to stop.

Because when he felt that happiness, it leaked through to me. Can someone be addicted to a feeling? Because I was. I was addicted to that happy feeling that soaked through my soul whenever Iggy cut. I didn't want him to stop.

Gosh, no matter how much I love him, I shouldn't have let him do that. I know that now. I'm a horrible person.

My eyes began to water and tears streaked down my face. In surprise, I raised my hands to my lashes, feeling the water. Then I covered my eyes in shame and began to cry.

"Angel? What's wrong?" Fang asked hurriedly. "Are you okay?" He bent down to me and put his hands on my shoulders.

"I'm awful, Fang," I sobbed. "I should have told you about Iggy. I just… I just…" I broke off into choked gasps.

Fang pulled me close to his chest in a hug, patting my hair.

"Shh. Shh. It's okay. You shouldn't be thinking such things. You're only seven."

"I don't care," I gasped, gulping in air. "You said it yourself. I'm mature. I'm smart. So why, why didn't I..?"

"It's the past. Angel, there's no way you can change it. So don't be beating yourself up about it. It's okay. It doesn't matter. Even though Iggy's dead, he…"

Fang POV

The second I said that, I froze, my eyes widening and staring straight ahead to the wall opposite me.

I had just said Iggy was dead.

It was something that slipped out of my mouth. One of those things I never mean to say, but just happens. It simply bubbled up from my lungs and escaped through my teeth. I couldn't stop it. It was involuntary.

To say something like that though, when Iggy was… going to get better. Right? Did that make any sense?

Angel noticed my freezing and pulled away slightly, looking up at me. Her eyes were wide as well and still glistening with tears.

"F-Fang, you just said…"

"I… I have to go," I interrupted, and stood, turning out of the room. I don't know what I was thinking, leaving my little sister crying on my bed like that. But suddenly, I had to get out. Out of the house. Out of the place were everything reminded me of Iggy.

Out of the place where I could even think that Iggy was dead… gone.

The family was still eating lunch in the kitchen so I went to the living room and the front door. I stopped and breathed deeply for a moment, just standing in front of the door. Then my eyes suddenly grew fierce with fire and I furiously struck out into front of me, punching a hole in the plaster wall near the doorframe. The whole damn house smells like him.

When I pulled my fist out, my knuckles were scraped up and bleeding. Of course, not even my bloody knuckles could distract me from my best friend. It just reminded me of the time at Anne's when he had lost it and punched a pole. He'd battered his knuckles then, too…

I nearly tore the doorknob off as I smashed open the door, darting out into the day and spreading my ebony wings as I took a running start and took off into the sky.

I hated the sky. The sky was so blue. So freaking blue. So happy and blue, with those little fluffy white clouds.

It just reminded me that blue was Iggy's favorite color.

"It feels so happy, so calm," he used to tell me.

I turned my eyes away from Iggy's favorite color to see the forest canopy beneath me.

Green. The color of Iggy's favorite long-sleeved tee.

I froze, hovering in midair for a moment, looking around desperately for something, anything, that didn't remind me of Iggy. Of course, since I was thinking about my best friend so much, that wasn't possible.

The sun. Iggy always loved feeling sunlight, because it almost reminded him of how it looked like.

Look. It's that clearing where Iggy was taken back in time.

The city. Iggy never really liked the city. It was too noisy for him. He always had to keep close to us.

"Even if Iggy's dead…"

I suddenly doubled over, clutching my stomach. I gasped and felt my eyes burn as streams of tears poured down my face. I choked, feeling as if my heart was in my throat, falling towards earth in a fit of misery.

I thought I didn't show my emotions, I wondered vaguely as I cried. I guess they're coming back.

Fifty feet before I hit the ground, I yanked my wings out stiff again, letting them painfully catch the air so that I could land pretty harmlessly. Nevertheless, when I landed I crashed and had to do a couple somersaults so my momentum wouldn't break my legs.

I lay there on my back in the dirt for who knows how long, just staring up at the sky as tears overflowed my eyes and streamed down my face. I don't know how long I was there. All I knew was that I would be there for a while.

And that I had said Iggy was dead.

10. Watching

Okay, I finally decided to update. You better be happy, because I'm actually supposed to be working on a mini-speech for English that's due TOMORROW and I haven't even started yet. Yeah. So, good for you guys. New chapter and all that. Seeya.

Fang POV

I really didn't think I'd be out there in the middle of the forest for that long, but eventually I realized that I was awake. As in, I had just awakened from a deep and troubled sleep.

I guess my body had been more fatigued than I thought for me to fall asleep in the dirt. But still, I had, and now I was a wake.

I sat up blearily, wondering what time it was. I hope no one was worried about me. After all, we all had much worse things to worry about. Like, what if Iggy never came back?

No… that was just too horrible a concept.

Still slightly dazed from just waking, I stood unsteadily and stumbled a bit.

And then I noticed it; a manila folder, lying innocently on the ground in from of me.

But why the heck would a manila folder randomly show up there in the middle of nowhere while I was sleeping?

This meant that someone had been here while my guard was down.

I winced worriedly and bent to lift the folder; it was slightly heavy, no trouble at all for one like me with mutant strength, but still a decent couple pounds. I wondered what was inside.

But first, I glanced around me. The trees were empty, normal. The birds were singing, crickets chirping. Therefore, whoever had been here wasn't anymore.

It made me feel sick to my stomach to think that someone had been so close to me while I was so vulnerable. Ugh. I must never, ever let my guard down like that again. I could have been kidnapped, or killed.

I turned my gaze, then, to the folder clutched in my hands. Turning it over, I found the flap, slipped my fingers between the paper, and opened it, tipping the contents out into my hands.

There were stacks and stacks of large, glossy photographs. And a DVD in a plastic case.

Looking at the DVD made my head ache in remembrance of the one we received from Dr. Hans Gunther-Hagen, offering brand new eyes for our Iggy. I suppose, looking back, part of Max's and my reasoning for not showing it to Iggy was that is was 'dangerous' and too 'risky'. But really, I think we honestly, somehow, deep down, didn't want Iggy to be able to see again.

I mean, with Iggy blind it's not like he was overly enthusiastic or happy about it. But he never really complained, save a few times, and… well, and it had sort of become a part of him.

But mostly, I think we would be threatened by him if he could see again.

I hated myself for saying this, but it was true. Iggy was just as good a fighter as the rest of us, even though he was blind. Plus the benefit of being able to cook wonderfully, make bombs from scratch, and pick locks. Also, his hearing and sense of touch was better.

Therefore, if Iggy could see, he could end up better than us. And he could easily take over my place as second-in-command, or even Max's role as leader if he wanted.

Of course, it was terrible for us to think this way, but it was true. Really, we were just selfish people like all the rest. The only truly virtuous person I have ever known was Iggy, and therefore he would never try to take over or anything.

It make me want to go back in time and try to get him that surgery. Then he would be able to see in real life, rather than just in his 'dream'. And maybe, just maybe, his inferiority complex could be cured.

I stared at the DVD for just a little longer, then moved on to the photos.

And my heart stopped.


"Max, where's Fang?" Angel asked me, looking up at me with her wide, blue eyes.

"I don't know, sweetie. You're the mind-reader. You tell me."

Angle paused, cocking her head.

"He's blocking me."

I gritted my teeth. So now Fang could block Angel as well. I guess the only one who couldn't was me and Gazzy.

"But I don't think anything's wrong. I just don't know where he is."

I reached out and ruffled Angel's hair.

"Don't worry, honey. He'll be back soon." I paused and looked up, rolling my eyes. "Or else," I added angrily.

Seriously, the guy had been gone for, like, four hours. Mom was already starting on dinner, and it would be ready in just a bit.

I knew of the argument between Angel and Fang… not exactly what it was about (Angel insisted it was private), but that that was probably why Fang had took off. But still! No matter the reason, the guy didn't have the right to disappear for so long without telling anyone where he was going. I grudgingly admitted I did that all the time, but still…

"Max!" Fang yelled, banging open the front door. I took in his rumpled, almost tired expression and rolled my eyes.

"Finally!" I said, throwing my arms in the air. "Seriously, Fang! If we didn't have so much going on right now, it wouldn't be as big of a problem, but disappearing for hours in the middle of all of this? What were you thinking?"

"Max, look at these!" Fang insisted, rushing straight up to me and placing a stack of paper in my hands. Upon closer inspection, they appeared to be photographs.

"Yeah? Where'd you get these?" I examined the first one. "Hey, isn't this..?"

"The school we went to while staying with Anne? Yeah," Fang finished my question before I had even finished asking it. "Look at the others."

I took the top photo off the stack and moved it to the bottom. The next picture was of the E-shaped house. I raised my eyebrows, then moved to the next picture. Anne's house. And the next was the base we had stayed at in Antarctica.

"What the heck? Pictures of all the places we've ever stayed?"

"Yeah," Fang answered. "And there's more." He sounded grave.

Angel reached up and took the pictures of the places from the stack, examining them herself. I looked at the next picture.

"Wait… this is our house!" I gasped. It was my mom's house, a picture taken as from the street.

"Yeah… but Max, the important ones are after that," Fang continued, pushing me hurriedly. I handed the picture of the house down to Angel.

The next was of the School.

And then mom's veterinary practice.

And then the theme park the six of us went to while we were flying to get Iggy his surgery.

And then… Iggy.

It was a picture taken from right after we got the makeovers, not long after we saved Angel from the School. He was looking towards the camera, frowning, lingering behind the rest of us, who were all looking away from him.

"Huh?" I said, frowning myself, and looking to the next photo.

It was Iggy in his school uniform from Anne's, his back pressed up against the brick wall of the school, a red mark on his cheek and an angry glint in his eyes, his face turned away. It looked like he was in the principal's office; it must have been that time he was called there after him and Gazzy set off a stink-bomb.

My frown deepened, and I looked at the next picture. It was Iggy after he punched the telephone pole, his knuckles torn up, and he was talking angrily to us while Fang and I looked on with sympathetic expressions.

The next photo was Iggy lying on his bed in his room at the old E-shaped house, his arm across his eyes, his chin set in frustration over something.

The others were similar; Iggy cooking dinner for us in the E-shaped house's kitchen, Iggy sleeping in a tree with the rest of us asleep around him; it must have been when we were in New York.

Then was one taken from Anne's house. Iggy was wearing casual clothes… and it looked like he was in Anne's room. It looked almost as if he had been thrown on her bed. His bangs were covering his right eye, but his left eye was clearly visible, looking frightened and determined at the same time. His shirt had been ripped open, clearly revealing his chest and stomach, the buttons lay scattered across the sheets. There was a bruise forming just under his collar-bone.

I gawked at this picture for a moment, wondering what was taking place. Iggy was in Anne's room, but it didn't look as if Anne was taking the picture. Looking closer, I saw her shadow hanging over him and felt sick.

Fang took the picture and looked at it, his eyes looking sad.

"Yeah, I know," he said softly. Angel tried to take the picture, but Fang held it away from her.

The picture underneath that one was of Iggy again. In this one, Iggy was in what I could recognize as his 'parents'' house. He was sleeping somewhat fitfully on a small bed, his face twisted up from some nightmare. He was sleeping without a shirt, and I could see more bruises trailing down his torso.

"But these are all from when we were supposed to be safe!" I objected. "At the E-shaped house, and mom's, and Anne's…" I winced and remembered the picture of Iggy on Anne's bed. My heart suddenly skipped a beat as I wondered, terrified, what had happened after the picture was taken.

"There are some from the School. Look…" Fang stepped forward and took a couple more pictures. And then there were, indeed some from the School.

The first was Iggy in his cage, staring out directly into the camera. He looked young enough to be three; he wasn't blind yet.

Then one of him in the room, the very same room Mr. Evil had taken him into, alone, while we were waiting for the operation room to be ready. He was sitting in the hard wooden chair, his wrists bound to the arms. The spikes on the inside of the bindings were piercing his skin, and blood trickled steadily down to drop on the floor. His head was turned down, his hair in his eyes.

I turned to the next photo and nearly dropped the entire stack.

It was still Iggy… he looked about seven. He was sitting against a cold, concrete wall, his arms chained above his head. His blind eyes seemed to look straight at me, echoing complete submission… he looked as if he'd simply given up. His eyes seemed empty. They looked hollow, haunted, sunken and dark. He was naked. And dark black and purple bruised covered his hips, his thighs, his chest, his neck.

I couldn't tare my eyes away from his face. I brought my hand up to run my fingertips across his cheek… he looked so broken, so hopeless. Like he was just waiting to die.

I finally pried my eyes away, flipping the picture over so I was just looking at the white back. Then I lifted my gaze to Fang.

"Where… where did you get these?" I asked quietly. Angel looked curiously towards the photo.

"I lost it," Fang began. "And flew out into the woods. I… sort of fell asleep. And when I woke up, these were there in a manila folder. With this." He held up a DVD in a plastic case.

I stared at the DVD in apprehension.

"Get Meagan. We'll go watch it on your laptop."

Fang nodded and turned to find Meagan.

"Max," Angel said, gazing at me. "I want to come with you."

"No, it's inappropriate," I said, then remembered that she could read minds and wondered if she hadn't seen the photos in mine.

"Max," Angel said again. "I have his memories. I need to know."

I stared at her.


I made my way with Angel to Fang's room, getting his laptop from his desk and opening it, turning it on. Meagan and Fang arrived shortly, shutting the door behind them. Meagan raised her eyebrow at Angel but didn't say a thing.

"Okay," Fang said quietly.

The DVD slid into the proper slot, and there was a whir as the laptop processed the information. Then a black square appeared on the screen, and a picture flickered to life.

Professor Jordan, aka Mr. Evil Scientist.

Hello there, Maximum Ride. I need to tell you something. I'm sure you've looked through the photographs I've provided you of my dear Subject 9. I thought they might look nice in frames.

He chuckled darkly.

Just to let you know, Maximum, you and your flock have never truly escaped the School. We've followed you everywhere you went. Nothing was unplanned. In fact, it was scheduled years in advance the precise date and time my Jebidiah Bacheldor would take you six from within these walls. The house had previously been equipped with security cameras in every room. That's how we got such splendid Candids of Subject 9. Jebidiah later returned to us, and we were able to determine the six of you could survive by yourselves. So we kidnapped your youngest to test your endurance. When you finally retrieved her – I must admit, Maximum, it took you far longer than I had expected – we had you delivered to my good friend Anne. She agreed to keep you six under careful supervision in exchange for nothing but a little money… and the permission to toy with your Subject 9. Anne gets a little lonely living in that big house.

The man laughed, and I was beginning to feel ever sicker, remembering the horrible photo.

Then our previous associates, none other than Subject 9's parents (though they don't know it), were hired to pose as the remorseful parents of a lost baby. Anne let you see that news broadcast for a reason, Maximum. Oh, and you might be wondering why your god friend Subject 9 never told you what was going on. Well, a good threat to kill your family never fails. Subject 9 submitted wonderfully.

There was a pause, and Mr. Evil looked at us with his piercing dark eyes. Then he grinned.

If you haven't realized it by now, we have never let you go. You are our experiments, Maximum Ride. We have followed Subject 9 wherever it goes. After all, it does have a tracking device… implanted in its heart.

My eyes widened at this statement, and Meagan put her hand over her mouth. Fang sucked in a breath. A tracking device implanted in Iggy's heart? There was no way we would ever be able to get that out without killing him!

Yes, Maximum. By the way, Subject 9 was supposed to die on its sixteenth birthday. I wasn't going to just let you ruin our plans. How do you like our friend James? Is he a good replacement?

I gritted my teeth, and Mr. Evil bared his teeth, tilted his head back and laughed. Then he turned and pulled something from his desk; a hard drive.

This, Maximum, is the hard drive that contains every last scrap of your brother's sentience, every last one of his memories. This is the only thing that could possibly restore him to himself.

Then he smiled evilly, turned, and threw the little hard drive into the fireplace that flickered behind him.

I watched as the very last hope I'd ever had of getting Iggy back melted into a twisted mass of burnt plastic and metal.

Oh my gosh. So deep. And isn't it horrible what Anne did to Iggy? I can't get over with how disgusting Dr. Evil is!

Anyway, thanks for reading, and please review.

11. Bullying

I wanted to say something. I updated really fast! You all better be grateful. And this better motivate you, Pandorad. I will now be caught up to your updating awesomeness.


"No," Fang said, staring at the screen. Then he lurched forward and took it between his hands. "IGGY!"

His eyes were wide open, frantic, panicking. They roved across the screen as Mr. Evil smirked silently. Then the movie fizzled out and the DVD ejected from the laptop.

"No no no no no no no no no no no no," Meagan muttered, rocking back and forth on Fang's bed. "No no no no no no no no…"

"It's a trick," Fang continued. "It has to be a trick. That can't be the real hard drive, it's a different one, or there's an extra…"


Angel, Fang and Meagan turned towards me with confusion written over their faces.

"… No?" Angel asked timidly.

I shook my head, sitting stiffly on Fang's bed. My eyes were wide, staring at the blank screen of Fang's laptop.

"No. It's no trick."

Fang gestured wildly at the computer.

"How do you know?" he asked furiously. "It's not like you saw him put Iggy's memories on that thing! For all you know it is a trick!"

I shook my head. Fang was just… deluding himself. And it pained me to admit it.

"No. It's not a trick. Iggy was going to die, remember? The only reason he didn't was because we threatened to kill Mr. Evil… Professor Jordan."

The three of them continued to stare at me. Fang was breathing heavily, his eyes wild.

"I mean, Iggy was supposed to die. What use would Mr. Evil have to keep him alive? Of course he would do anything he could to take Iggy out of our lives. What purpose would he have to keep Iggy's memories? It's not like he wants us to have Iggy back."

I could see the realization dawning on their faces, and tears filled Meagan's eyes.

"I'm gonna… go," she said, standing and rushing out of the room. A few moments later, I could hear the front door open and bang closed. But I wasn't worried. She didn't have anywhere to go. She'd come back.

I looked to Fang, who was just standing there.

"Kids! Dinner!" mom suddenly called from the kitchen. I looked up to the door.

Fang turned and flopped into his bed, pulling a pillow over his black hair.

"Tell her I'm not hungry," he said softly.

"Yeah… okay," I agreed, taking Angel's hand, shutting the laptop, and exiting his room.

"Shut the door behind you," he called. I did as he asked.

James POV

This place was so strange and new. So, so different from the School. For one thing, scientists and giant wolf-men weren't attacking me and sticking me with needles.

For another, all of these nice people were being kind to me.

Gazzy and Miss Ella had been playing with me all day since Mister Fang went outside. They were so fun, letting me share their toys and hold things. It made me happy that they talked to me and told me things, because no one had ever just talked to me before. I got this fuzzy feeling in my tummy whenever someone said something. Like a candle lit inside me.

Miss Ella was the one who brought me to the table when Dr. Martinez called us for dinner. I let her sit me down at a wooden chair and hand me a plate piled with food – so much food, more food than I had ever had at any point in my life before. I smiled and thanked her repeatedly, and she just laughed and said it was nothing.

"Max, why aren't Fang or Meagan here?" I heard Dr. Martinez ask.

"They, uh, they're feeling… ill," Miss Max answered. I became worried. What if they were sick? That would be so horrible…

"Okay," Dr. Martinez accepted.

Then we started eating.

I listened quietly while the rest of the people talked lightly amongst themselves. It wasn't in my place to interrupt. Besides, whenever I said anything, I always felt all of them turn to look at me and it made me feel embarrassed.

But then…

"James," Miss Max suddenly spoke up. "Why aren't you saying anything? You know, you can say whatever you want when you're with us."

I felt a different, stranger feeling erupt in my chest. A sort of warm, fluttery feeling. As if butterflies were living inside me. I smiled.

"Uh, okay!" I responded, eager to please her. I heard her smile, if a little bit sadly. She must be remembering that boy I look like. What was his name..?

"Max! Guess what! I found something cool in my room!" Gazzy spoke, and I grinned again. I had been there when he found it.

"Really? What was it?" Max asked in response. There was a pause as Gazzy took a deep breath.

"I found the old photo album! You know, the one we lost? It was under my bed."

Max gasped. "Seriously, Gasser? That's great! We can look through it later!"

"Yup!" Gazzy agreed happily. Then he added something sheepishly. "Actually, it wasn't me that found it. It was… James."

There was another pause, and I blushed.


"Yeah, we were in my room, and I told him to look for my box of Lego's, and he found the album under my bed."

Max turned in her chair so she was facing me, and I cringed, expecting her to yell, or hit me. I didn't want it, not from Miss Max, but it was to be expected every time I stepped out of line. I was just grateful that they hadn't kicked me out yet.

But what Miss Max said next totally surprised me.

"Good job, James. Thank you so much."

I smiled, totally overjoyed. She had complimented me! Me!

"You're welcome! I'm glad I could help."

I winced at my voice, suddenly wondering what was wrong with me. When Gazzy talked, his voice was normal. My voice was a lot lower, but I was younger than him! I had never really paid attention to it before, but still. Gosh, I'm such a freak…

Then again, when you're two percent bird, that's something to be expected.

Fang POV

I listened to them all eating dinner. Every single time James's name was mentioned, I winced. Every single time I heard Iggy's voice, something inside me hurt. Because it wasn't Iggy. It would never again be Iggy.

I know I had promised Max I would build memories. Build memories with James. But no matter how hard I tried, it's not as easy as you would think to do that.

Because every time I looked at Iggy's face and knew he wasn't there, it killed me.

So I lay there, just listening, until my family had finished with dinner, cleaned the dishes. I just lay there and listened until they went to bed.

And then I waited some more… waited for Angel to go to sleep.

Because I wanted to witness Iggy's memory.

It took a while. Probably an hour, or thirty minutes. Max was probably making sure everyone else was asleep before Angel slept. She didn't want anyone besides me and Meagan to see the memories.

But I just waited, until finally the back of my mind began to tingle.

And then the mind-numbing headache hit, and I slipped into Iggy's past…

"Do you need me to go with you?" Fang asked.

I rolled my eyes and sighed.

"No, Fang. I don't need a chaperone to the bathroom."

Fang paused for a moment before answering.

"Well, hurry it up. Our next class starts in six minutes and we have to be on time."

I felt around the wall for the door and pulled it open.

"It won't take me six minutes to pee, Fang. Besides, if we're late, you have an excuse. 'The blind guy missed the toilet.'"

Fang chuckled, and then the heavy wooden door shut behind me.

I paused for a moment, listening to the echoes the noise made among the tiled room. I quickly noticed the placement of the sinks and stalls and did my stuff.

By the time I had finished and made my way over to the sinks – less than a minute, mind you, Fang – more kids had entered the bathroom. I was feeling a little self-conscious, so pulled up my sleeves and quickly washed my hands.

But suddenly, I realized someone was standing directly behind me.

"What are you…" I started, but then the guy let out a loud laugh and grabbed my arm, yanking it towards him. "Hey!"

"Bros! Check it! It's a cutter!" the boy jeered, and I felt my cheeks reddening as about five other guys cam and gathered around me. My scars suddenly felt extremely noticeable and I yanked my arm away, pulling my sleeves down past my wrists.

"Back off," I growled, and the guy laughed.

"You're the blind one, too. Well isn't this just heartwarming." One of the boys started giggling madly, and I tensed up, wondering if I would have to fight my way out of this.

Just don't talk too loud, I pleaded internally. I don't want Fang to find out

"No one wants you here, freak," the boy hissed in my ears.

"Yeah, why don't you just go home and cut yourself?" one of the other boys offered.

"Ha, yeah!" another one spoke up. "Maybe since he's blind he'll do us all a favor and accidentally kill himself!"

I listened to what they were saying with no anger. I mean, how many times had I just wanted to cut a little too deep? Try to get the voices out of my head? They never talked to me while I was bleeding…

"Ah, whatever. Go to your classes, cutter. Just watch your back." The guy slapped my back just then, and the rest of his cronies started guffawing madly. I scowled and quickly moved away from them, out the door to where Fang was waiting.

"Yo, Iggs! I thought you said it wouldn't take six minutes?"

I struggled to stick my normal, fake grin across my face.

"It didn't take six minutes. We've still got time, right?"

Fang laughed and turned, walking beside me, guiding me through the hallways with a finger brushing my wrist.

I tried to keep my head up and not look towards the floor as I walked, but it was hard. I could feel people staring at me in the hallways, and all I could think about was the boys in the bathroom. Maybe he'll do us all a favor and accidentally kill himself…

People started laughing at me. I mean, I think I was who they were laughing at. It's sort of hard to tell when you're blind. Plus, when you have constant voices in your head, it's also sort of hard to tell which voices are real and which are not…

Then a hand was on my back and I jumped. There was a crinkle of paper, and Fang pulled his hand back, snarling.

"What?" I asked.

"'Kick me' sign. It was on your back," he answered, his voice rough and gravely. "Don't worry, I'll take care of it…"

My eyes stared straight up, directly at my ceiling fan. I sighed and closed my eyes, massaging my temples, and feeling sad all over again.

If I had known what had been going on in that bathroom while Iggy was in there, maybe I could have stopped it…

I wonder if the bullying had continued even after that.

But it's not like I could answer that right now. All I could do was pretend I would be able to do something about it in the morning and drift off to sleep.

Thanks so much for reading! Please review.

12. Hurting

Okay. Finally, pandorad24 updated, so now I can as well.

By the way, pandorad24 wants me to let you know that she has a TERRIBLE SECRET. SHE….. IS AFRAID….. OF PUFFINS!

Okay, not really. But I am. No, seriously. I was traumatized when I busted my big toe on coral and was bleeding everywhere and needed stitches and couldn't really walk, but my mommy was all like "go find your father, I'm looking at the puffins." My dad was back at the summer house. Like, two miles away. Up the beach and a steep hill. I ended up riding home piggyback on the back of the woman who we were staying with. Hence, I detest puffins. I can't even stand the cereal.

Ha, now you have a little fact about me. I'm also a needle-phobe…..


My eyes snapped open and I stared at the ceiling. I felt a tightness in my throat, as if I was almost choking. There was a coldness in the pit of my stomach… I felt sick.

Iggy… had cut himself? It wasn't true. It couldn't be true! How many times had I looked at his arms? How many times had he smiled and waved at me? How many times had he worn short-sleeves in the summer? Was I really so ignorant?

I would have had more time to be shocked and horrified by the revelation, but… at dinner I had slipped Angel a sleeping pill so that she wouldn't have another sleepless night. And if she didn't wake up, apparently, the memories didn't stop…

My mind was foggy as I steadily came to consciousness. My head ached as if it had been bashed by Erasers. I felt the normal bruises across my chest and hips throbbing just as painfully as ever… and my eyes hurt.

And it all came rushing back.

Accepting the surgery. No, asking for it. So that maybe, just maybe, Max would finally be proud. I mean, I was going to have super night-vision after this, right?

But the pain. The agony. I could remember it. Like hot knives poking straight through my eyes and into my skull. As if nails or screws were boring into my head. Just horrible, horrible pain…

"Subject 9."

It was Him.

I nodded, showing that I had heard him. I had learned long ago not to speak in his presence unless he specifically ordered it.

"A very unfortunate incident has occurred."

At His voice, a thousand instances suddenly ran through my head. Max or one of the others had died or been grievously injured. There were so many different ways it could have happened, so many horrible ways… gosh, and I had just been in here, while they had been going through so much more…

He had apparently seen my expression and chuckled at my reaction.

"The rest of your 'friends' are safe. No, the incident was to your eyes."

I stared towards Him, wondering what He was getting at.

"You're retinas have been permanently damaged. You are… blind."

I didn't react. I was blind. That was odd.

What did it mean?

He sighed, and then answered my unspoken question.

"You will never again be able to see. Your eyes don't work anymore."

I froze stiff. I should have known. Ever since I went in there and saw the gurney and the shiny silver tables with scalpels and other tools all over them. I should have known, what with all the pain I'd felt. I would have known, if I'd know that becoming blind was possible.

But it was.

I was an idiot. It was my fault. Get an offer to become better, and I take it without a second thought.

But I'm young! I thought that all needed to increase eyesight capability would be pills, or a change in diet, or maybe a couple more injections than usual. No. It had to use sharp objects.

And then it hit me. I was blind.

Everything seemed to zoom into sudden focus, even though I couldn't see anything. The whole world froze. Everything was standing still. I could hear the echo of air by my ears. Everything was spinning around and around and around…

I was blind.

I couldn't see.

Couldn't dodge.

Couldn't fight.

Couldn't walk.

Couldn't look.

Couldn't see.

Oh gosh.

They wouldn't want me anymore.

My eyes suddenly burned, and I reached up with quivering hands to feel them. Wide open. And unseeing.

"We'll take you back to your 'flock' now… I wonder what they'll say when they find out…" He chuckled, and everything clicked back into place. He turned to talk to other scientists. "Take it back to its 'family'…"

"NO!" I screamed, tears suddenly streaming like a river out of my burning eyes. "NO! DON'T TAKE ME BACK! KILL ME! KILL ME! PLEASE, JUST KILL ME!"

My throat burned from the volume at which I had screamed, but I didn't care. I sank to my knees, holding my hands out, palm up in surrender. "DON'T MAKE ME GO BACK!" I shouted again. "DON'T! JUST KILL ME! KILL ME! KILL ME!"

A crushing blow hit the side of my head as His boot connected with my cheek. But I didn't care about the pain. I was used to the pain. I lived with pain. I hardly noticed it anymore.

"Shut up! Don't talk! You're going back!"

I shook my head furiously, so hard that I could have sworn my brain rattled around in my skull. Tears continued to pour out of my new, sightless, painful eyes. "No. No. No no no no no no no no no no no no…"

"I said be QUIET." Another blow across my face. Right on my right eye. I felt a large bruise forming. Then a kick to my stomach. I felt the air whoosh out of my lungs. I gulped in great quantities of precious oxygen to make up for my loss.

"Please, no… just no… please… please…" I begged, sniveling and wincing on the ground at His feet. "Kill me. Kill me."

He sighed and I heard him bend down.

"Do you really want to die?" He asked in a sympathetic voice.

I nodded wretchedly.

"Then," he continued with a sneer in his voice, "You are going to live a long time yet."

My eyes widened and I started to panic. "NO!"

Large, rough hands grabbed my arms and lifted me into the air. I struggled, but it was useless. I was too weak. I was always too weak. That's why, now that I was 'blind'…

"Take him to our… special room," He commanded, and a scream tore from my throat.


I didn't want his rough hands all over me, not again. I didn't want it. Not now that everything had been taken away. I had always wanted to die, but not so much as I did at this moment. I was useless now. The flock wouldn't need me anymore. They would never love me, never accept me now. I was now a hindrance.

Max would never love me.

And now he was going to touch me…


The pain of the bruises all over my body suddenly flared up. I felt as if a fire was growing in the pit of my stomach. Growing and roaring to life. Eating me whole.

I wanted so much for that to be true. Anything so that I wouldn't have to bare this anymore. I didn't want this anymore. I just wanted it all to end. I didn't care if I was going to disappear forever. 'Nothing' was better than this.

"Please, no, don't, not again," I pleaded in vain. But nonetheless, I was dragged away, my eyes still burning painfully, the bruises throbbing, my head aching, my heart feeling as if it was being wrenched apart.

They didn't want me anymore. They couldn't. They had most likely never wanted me in the first place.

A door opened and my back met cold concrete. And I was taken to the place against the wall, where my clothes were torn off and my arms chained above my hand to incapacitate me. Not that I would struggle much in the first place. I was too submissive, and I knew it. I would do anything He told me to, because… because if I didn't, he was going to kill them…

His footsteps echoed as they walked into the room. It was dark in here, I knew from experience.

The door clicked as it swung silently closed, and then the echoing of His footsteps got closer. So much closer. I listened until they were right in front of me. Then he bent down.

I shivered and bit my lip, staring towards where I knew he was. My eye was quite swollen by now, and my cheek ached to blazes. I felt painfully exposed, as I always did. I never got used to it. The chill of the musty air, stinking of mold and mildew. The cold of the concrete, pressed against my back and my legs and my wings. His horrible hands…

He reached forward until his palm was resting on my stomach. My skin quivered under his touch, but he dug his filthy fingernails into my skin. More bruises formed under his harsh touch.

"I thought you knew not to make a noise in my presence," He said, and his voice was cold, low and deadly. I knew I was in trouble.

I looked down a nodded silently, feeling more tears drip down my cheeks. Then began to punish me, violating every inch of my skin. I struggled not to whimper, because I knew if I did he would drag it out longer.

More bruises were forming. It was always a mystery to me why I wasn't just permanently colored purple.

I let out a shuddering breath.

"You're going back to your 'flock' whether you like it or not," He growled suddenly, at the same time as he pulled a feather from my wing. I bit my tongue so as to not cry out, and shook my head. "You will do as I say. Or you know what will happen."

My eyelids fluttered and I nodded, my tears finally drying up. My sightless eyes still ached, but the pain was by no means over…

That's when the voices first started speaking to me. Whispering words of hate and fear into my ears. I didn't know where they were coming from; I had thought no one else was in the room besides me and Him.

And there wasn't. I knew it for sure. He never did this in front of people.

So where were they coming from?

Look at you pitiful weak awful heartless die just pain die please die it's not going to stop hurting it's going to keep hurting look at you crying there I want to laugh at you it's just so funny you can't see stop trying they won't care they stopped it's die just they won't they're going to die don't listen die pain they can't hear you you're screaming too die loud voices in your ears I'm whispering you can't plug it up stop die trying to make it go away but you can't pain die just stop die ha pitiful die weak don't try it won't work you can just die stop now just die…

That's when I knew I was insane.

Wow. This chapter was hard to write. But I feel like I did a good job. Please review! Tell me how you liked it! I tried really hard!


13. Waking

Someone reviewed and said that this was getting too 'deep' for them, and that they wanted more progression. I promise this story will progress quite soon, but I really want to focus on the emotions of Max, Fang, Meagan, Angel, and maybe even James. It's going to be really important for the end of this fic and for the plot of the sequel. That's why it's going to take a little longer for time to pass.

Meagan POV

I looked up at the sky. I hadn't gone back inside after the rest of them had finished dinner; no, I had flown around until dark, when I had perched on the roof outside Max's window, my head leaning against the cold glass. Then I had waited.

I needed to know more about the life of my love. I needed to know what had happened to him in the past.

And it was so much worse than even I had hypothesized.

I know I hadn't exactly had the most happy childhood… held captive far from everyone, being constantly experimented on, being constantly put into the 'dream' simulations with various experiments. But none of them had made an impression… until I met the un-expecting Iggy.

With his piercing blue eyes, the way he taught me things. The way he truly cared about me and wanted to help me. The way he protected me, at the same time as he allowed me to defend myself. His strong, warm embrace. His smile. The way he talked. How he was always so truthful.

But I guess he wasn't, not entirely, if that entire time he had never once mentioned 'Oh, just to let you know, I was blind since age five'.

And I had never had the slightest inkling of the horrors they had put him through. Professor Jordan. The horrible…

And then the memories, flooding into my head like water. Days at the real school, with constant bullying. His arms, covered with scars.

Then, of course, Him. I remember Him well. Always came in to 'update' me on the activities of the flock.

But I had never imagined…

And Angel still hadn't woken up. I didn't understand it. All that, and she hadn't woken? This could get dangerous…

I tried to struggle, to leave, but almost instantly something solid collided roughly to a spot just under my collar-bone. I knew a bruise would be there tomorrow.

"But Jeff," she said in a voice that was sickly sweet, like rotten fruit. It almost hurt my ears, made me cringe. "Are you going to make a scene? You're siblings are in their rooms, and I'm sure if you're too loud, they're going to wake up and wonder what's happening…"

"Please don't bring them into this," I answered, backing up against the door, my hand searching frantically for the knob. "Anne, please, I don't want this…"

"Now Jeff, honey, let me give you the facts," Anne answered, her voice growing colder by the second. "First, if anyone finds us here, do you honestly think they'd believe it to be my fault? After all, your reputation would not help your name. I need only act like a victim, and voila, Max will believe me. Second…" I could hear a snarl in her voice. "Second, Professor Jordan explicitly agreed to let me play with you. If you disobey his orders, what do you think is going to happen to your precious 'family'?"

I froze, standing stalk-still. So… Anne was in league with the School. I should have known. And now, I had to listen to her. Because if I didn't, He would be angry, and I knew what would happen then…

My mind sort of blanked out there, and the fight and defense left my body. My tense muscles relaxed, and Anne laughed.

"There now, Jeff, that wasn't so hard now, was it?" she asked, approaching me. Her hands reached up and grabbed the collar of my shirt, and I was half-dragged, half-pulled over to the foot of her bed. Her long fingernails brushed against my chest, and suddenly my shirt was torn open, the buttons detaching and falling all over the bed. I sullenly stared through my bangs at the woman, but she continued with a sort of pleased ferocity.

I wrenched my mind away from the memory, because the softest sound from the real word had permeated through the vision. A whimper.

Max was lying on her bed, her eyes wide open, staring directly at the ceiling. Her pupils had dilated until they obscured her irises; they were completely black.

Angel, on the other hand, asleep on the bed with her eyes clenched shut, was whimpering and erupting in harsh spasms; her hair was matted down with sweat, and her cheeks were flushed. I struggled not to slip back into the memory and made my way towards her…

I felt so dirty. I knew I had been violated in the School, by Him… but this was different. I had never had my virginity taken from me…

I tugged my mind away from the memory once more, and finally found myself at Angel's side. I reached down – it felt as if I was trying to move through thickening Jell-O – and took her shoulders in my hands, shaking her harshly. She didn't wake.

So I went to my last resort, bringing my hand back and slapping her harshly across her cheek.

Angel's eyes snapped open, and water immediately fell from them and streamed down her face as salty tears. Her face crumpled and she began to sob.

"Shh, shh, don't worry, it's okay," I comforted, bending to take her in my embrace. Next to us, Max was shaking free of the remnants of the memory, looking confused. She turned to see me holding the crying Angel, and her confusion turned to surprise, then fear.

"What's wrong?" she asked hurriedly, struggling to turn and pat Angel's damp hair in an affectionate sort of way.

"What's wrong is that Angel couldn't wake up, and her mind was being overloaded by the memories."

Max's eyes widened and she looked guilty, pulling back, her hand lingering in the air for a moment as if reluctant.

I narrowed my eyes at her in suspiscion.


Max averted her gaze from me.

"I, uh, gave her a sleeping pill. I thought it would help her sleep."

I frowned, but before I could question her judgement, Angel spoke up from in my arms.

"Max, the memories don't come back after I wake up one time. But if I stay asleep, they just keep coming and coming…" she broke off again in another sob.

"I... I'm sorry," Max apologized, sounding truly sorry.

I turned my softened gaze to Angel. "Are you okay?"

Angel nodded, sniffling, stifling a sob, and withdrawing slightly from my arms.

"Yeah. I guess."


I was shocked at my own reaction to this girl's pain; after all, I was an outsider, wasn't I? I had barely been with these people a few days, and already I was feeling affection to this little girl. I felt warmness inside me, and thought that maybe, just maybe, I would be able to become a part of this family. I would just have to try.

Sorry, that was a short chapter. However, I really need to skip forward to 'tomorrow'… a very, very surprising thing is going to happen. Can you guess what?

14. Surprise

Okay, here we are. And enter the surprise character, which I'm sure none of you ever guessed would be coming into the picture. In fact, I didn't, even. It just seemed very appropriate.

Fang POV

When I woke the next morning, I wasn't feeling any better than I had been when I'd gone to sleep. On the contrary. I was feeling even more guilty, because I'd dreamt about Iggy.

It wasn't a particularly sad dream. It wasn't even a bad dream. I don't even remember what it was about. I just remember Iggy's face and voice, and when I woke up… I was guilty.

I sighed and rolled over in the bed, sitting up and putting my legs over the edge. I reached up to rub the sleep out of my eyes and brush my hair back slightly; it was just short enough so that I never needed a hairbrush in the mornings.

Finally, I decided I couldn't just mope around in my bed all day. So I stood and dressed in my normal basic black ensemble.

As I put my hand on the doorknob, my eyes turned to the laptop on my desk. My memories flashed to the stupid DVD we'd watched yesterday; and the reality that Iggy was never coming back.

Before I could lose it again, I quickly turned my thoughts elsewhere and exited my bedroom.

As I stepped out, I almost collided with Nudge, who was racing down the hallway towards the stairs. She turned back to me, hopping for a second on what foot to catch her balance.

"Hey, Fang! Good morning! I didn't see you at dinner last night, where were you? Max said you and Meagan felt sick, so I'm sorry, I'm sure your stomach was hurting. Anyway, everyone's already downstairs. I just had to brush my hair really quick. We're having pancakes! Iggy's recipe!" There was a flash of sadness that flickered through her eyes, but her expression remained as happy as ever. Her smile was wide, bright.

"Okay. Let's go eat."

I made my steady way through the house behind the bouncy Nudge, and staring at her back, suddenly thought of Iggy. But not in the way I had been lately.

I guess I'd never caught it before, but Nudge sort of had a crush on Iggy.

And it totally made sense. The way she was always helping him out, how she always went to him when she really wanted someone to listen to her; especially how she always acted sort of hostilely towards Meagan, who Iggy was in love with. I felt a pang of regret, because Nudge had never really got her fair chance, and now she never would. But unrequited love felt like that. I remembered the feeling well; before I had got together with Max.

But we hadn't really had much romantic interaction for quite a while. After all, our lives had been filled with the importance of Iggy for some time now. No time for romance. And it was okay. I was still in love with her, and she still loved me. That was enough for now. Until we sorted everything out.

Nudge and I finally reached the kitchen, where pancakes were set out on the plates. Max seemed unusually quiet, and Meagan and Angel were softly conversing. James and Iggy were talking loudly together; James looked so unbelievably happy, his face glowing, his eyes bright. I couldn't help but crack a grin, seeing that kind of joy on Iggy's face.

"Pancakes," Dr. Martinez said, handing me a plate. I sat down besides Nudge and Ella and dug in; I hadn't eaten a good meal in a while.

Syrup, butter, blueberries, and of course the pancakes completed my breakfast. I ate until I'm not sure I could have eaten any more without exploding. Finally, I gulped a tall glass of milk and lay back in my chair, relaxing, and letting my mind wander.

Of course, the first thing I remembered was the guilt I felt towards Iggy; but I couldn't lurk on that forever. No matter how much I hated myself for all that I had allowed to happen, I knew Iggy would never want me to feel this way. I had to move on.

And then the doorbell rang.

"I'll get it!" Nudge called, leaping up from her chair. She had already finished with her meal, her plate literally licked clean. I grinned slightly at her exuberance, and watched her go. The visitor was probably one of Dr. Martinez's associates; and they were in for a big surprise, when motor-mouth Nudge greeted them at the door.

"That's odd," Dr. M silently admitted. "I wasn't expecting anyone today."

My gaze immediately flashed to Max's face, and she looked towards me as well, our eyes meeting with the same thought; the School.

"Nudge!" I called, and the two of us leapt from our seats and charged towards her and the door. "Don't open, it, it's..!"

But the sound of the door opening was all I heard as response, and I winced, expecting a crash as Eraser's or something deadly like that erupted from the outdoors.

Then, I heard Nudge speak up to whoever was on the other side of the open door;

"Oh. It's you."

Max and I finally entered the ante-room to see Nudge standing at the open door, staring at the person waiting outside with a skeptical expression. We rushed next to her and looked outside, wondering who it was.

"Who..?" I started, and then I saw the person.

It was someone I had never, ever expected to see again. And it wasn't someone like Jeb, or Ari, or Anne, or someone like that who would probably, according to the law of irony, always manage to work their ways in to our futures at one point or another. No. It wasn't anyone like that. I had honestly never expected, ever in my life, to see this person again.





Freaking Lissa was at my door!

"What the heck do you want?" I asked. If I sounded a little angry, it's because I was furious. All thoughts of Iggy and the School had temporarily left my mind, and all I could think was this; she freaking wants to steal Fang.

Lissa opened her mouth, obviously about to say something – probably about it being a coincidence or something, and she just happened to find our address – but I cut her off.

"Don't you even think that you're about to waltz in here and just become part of the family. Don't even think you can just be 'friends'. You kissed Fang. I can't forgive you for that. And you're not about to take him back, by the way. He's mine. We're in love."

Nudge was staring at me, gaping, her mouth opening and closing like that of a fish. Lissa stared at me, looking aghast, possibly even confused.

I have to admit, I'd never given the girl a chance to speak. I mean, she at least deserved a chance to defend herself, right? Equal opportunity in court?

No way. She didn't deserve anything. Acting all stalker-ish and randomly showing up at our house. How the heck did she even know that we were living with my mom now? That was sort of creepy. Maybe she was just so scarily infatuated with my Fang, that she couldn't leave us alone and stalked us all the way here.

Nah. Impossible. I think.

Lissa did look a bit different than the last time I had seen her. When we had last tearfully parted (note my sarcasm), she had had long, glossy red hair down to her waist. And, I have to admit, her hair was still glossy and red; but it was now cut in a shaggy pixie-cut, which made her look a lot less like a freaking slut – pardon my stereotypical language. Her face wasn't totally covered with makeup anymore, so you could make out softer, more pleasant features. Her bright green eyes stood out sharply against her pale, freckled skin; she seemed slightly nervous looking, leaning on each of her feet alternating-ly.

"So? What do you have to say? Don't just stand there gawking," I finally stated, staring her down.

"Uh," Lissa started, stuttering-ly, her voice lacking all the spite and venom I had remembered. "I'm terribly sorry for imposing. I just wanted to say thank-you to Jeff… to Iggy."

My heart froze a second there.

Pardon once more for the short-ish chapter, but I think two within the same hour sort of makes up for it. I hope you enjoyed reading. Thank you very much.

15. Lissa

Okay. Lots of you randomly jumped to the conclusion that Lissa had DONE something to Iggy in the past. This confused me, after all my struggle to emphasize the fact that she looks nice and talks nicer. Doesn't that make it seem like she's a nice person? You people confuse me at times.


"Uh, Iggy? You want to talk to Iggy?" I asked Lissa with a skeptical expression on my face.

"Yeah," Lissa murmured in response. "If it's okay."

"Come in," Fang said, and I shot him a dirty look. Nonetheless, Lissa made her way through the doorframe and into the house.

"Thank you," she said, giving me a small smile.

Suddenly, I heard the rest of the family filing into the room and turned to see Angel and Gazzy staring at Lissa in apprehension, Ella, Meagan and mom in confusion; and 'James' was just sort of standing there, waiting for someone to tell him what was going on. Lissa turned, saw him, and smiled broadly.

"Iggy! Hi!" she called, and 'James', obviously remembering our little discussion, answered instantly.

"Oh! I'm not Iggy, I'm James. I just look like him."

Lissa frowned.


That's when Fang grabbed her hand and dragged her heavily from the room, up the stairs, and down the hall into his room.

Not to be left behind, I followed. I didn't want Fang alone with Lissa for any period of time.

Of course, the rest of our usual group followed; Angel and Meagan rushed up the stairs almost directly behind me.

When I entered Fang's bedroom, I saw Lissa sitting uncomfortably on Fang's bed and Fang standing in front of her with his arms crossed.

Lissa's eyes were darting around the room, taking everything in. Her eyes lingered on the laptop and the stack of Iggy's sketches on Fang's desk, and I quickly moved over there to put them away.

"So," Meagan started. "Who's this? And how come you all reacted so weirdly to her?"

Angel frowned at the red-haired girl, and Lissa stared back sheepishly.

"This," I began, "Is a girl from the normal school, when we were staying with Anne." I glared sharply at her, but Lissa just continued to look at me with a solemn expression. "And we reacted weirdly to her because… it's a long story."

"Not really," Angel spoke up. "She kissed Fang and Max got super jealous."

I turned my glare to my little girl and she grinned at me. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay mad at her.

"But that doesn't answer why the heck she's here," I said, once again staring Lissa down. "Or why the heck she knows Iggy's real name."

"Uh," Lissa opened her mouth, starting to answer. "Well–"

I cut her off. "And no lies. We want the complete and honest truth. And if you don't tell it, we'll know." I was pointedly talking about Angel's mind powers, forgetting temporarily that Lissa didn't know about it. Or, that is, she shouldn't know about it.

Lissa sighed and started again.

"I'm here because I wanted to say thanks to Iggy, for what he did for me. And I know his real name because he told me."

I scowled. Fang furrowed his brow. Angel twirled her hair absent-mindedly around her finger, and Meagan sort of stood there looking confused.

"Why would Iggy tell you his real name?" Fang spoke up. "And thanks what for?"

Lissa shrank back onto the bed, picking at the blanket with her forefinger.

"Well, because we were… friends, I guess. And thanks, because he helped me get out."

"Of what?" I pressed further. Lissa wasn't being very specific.

"Get out of the School's control."

The four of us gaped at her. I'm pretty sure I must have looked like a sort of fish, my mouth opening and closing like that, my eyes wide. Fang's expression, of course, hardly changed… but I knew what emotions he felt by the look in his eyes and the tightness of his mouth.

"The… the School?" Meagan asked. "You're from the School? Are you a hybrid?"

Lissa turned her eyes to the ground. "Yeah."

There was a long pause as all of us stared at her, then I asked another question.

"Care to expand on that subject, deary?"

"Um…" Lissa continued, looking at me in apprehension. "I wasn't raised in the School. They kidnapped me and my younger sister from our home in Connecticut when I was eight. They put the animal DNA into us then – my sister became part snake, and I became part fox."

I couldn't help but laugh when she said this; it was so obvious. With the red hair, and the – I hated myself for saying this – the 'foxy' body and attitude, Lissa just read 'fox'.

Fang shot a glare in my direction, and I pouted.

"Continue," Fang directed at Lissa, and Lissa nodded and, indeed, continued with her story.

"My sister became quite ill due to the alteration in her genetic makeup," she started. "It didn't affect me as strongly seeing as foxes and humans are both mammals, but snakes and humans obviously aren't. So she became the School's bargaining chip. They kept her safe and healthy if I did as they bid. If I didn't, they would kill her." Lissa's expression fell when she mentioned this.

"Yeah?" I prodded her to continue. I guess it wasn't very sympathetic of me, but what can I say, I have a sort of sore-and-angry spot in my heart reserved specially for her.

Lissa glanced at me, then frowned and continued.

"So, a while ago, it became clear that the flock of Maximum Ride would be attending a school. So I was enrolled. My job was to seduce the boy named Fang so that both he and Maximum Ride would be distracted."

Fang's eyes widened, and my heart started to beat faster. Lissa turned her gaze to the floor once again.

"So I tried to seduce him, because my sister's life was at stake. But I didn't do a very good job. I mean, I didn't not like him or Maximum Ride. I didn't want to wreck a relationship I had no place to interfere in. But… my sister. I couldn't just abandon the mission because I had misgivings. But I really hated it. Acting like some sort of… I don't know. I used to go behind the school during recess and cry." Lissa's bottom lip quivered, and, despite myself, I gradually felt my anger towards this girl fade.

Lissa took a deep, shuddering breath.

"But then, one day, I came back around the school wall after crying… and Iggy was there. He turned to look at me, and said 'They're making you do it, aren't they?'. And I told him yes. So he told me he understood doing stuff like that. He said he was made to do horrible things too. And he told me it was okay."

Immediately my mind flashed to visions. The picture of Iggy, bruised and naked and broken, chained to the wall. Of him blind, being touched by Mr. Evil. And Anne…

Lissa had sort of a sad smile on her face, her eyes reminiscent.

"I was really happy that someone I had been tricking had forgiven me. And then Iggy told me his real name, and said that he could be my friend if I wanted. So I told him I wanted to, that I would like that. And he smiled. And he told be not to worry about tricking Max and Fang, because that was a lot less bad than what could be happening." Here, Lissa frowned. "I still don't know what he meant by that. But I knew that he had something horrible happen in his past. And his Schizophrenia couldn't have been too easy on him."

"Wait… what?" I snapped, jumping up. "Schizophrenia?"

Lissa leaned back, away from me on the bed. Her eyes widened and she looked panicked.


Then my own eyes widened, and I quite suddenly remembered Iggy's memory – the one I had witnessed just last night. And at the end, the voices in Iggy's head…

Schizophrenia. My brother was a Schizophrenic.

And I had never known.

Depression, cutting, abuse, molestation, rape, and now Schizophrenia. And I had never known, never thought to know, never tried to know.

I began to feel sick to my stomach. And the fact that Lissa, the girl I had despised for so long, had known of the voices in Iggy's head before me, his 'love', had made me angry. So, so very angry.

So I stood, quite suddenly, and glared at the girl sitting on Fang's bed.

"Yeah? How would you know? And why are you here, anyway? How did you find our house? When we were at that school, none of us even knew that Dr. Martinez was my mom. So? How?"

Lissa scowled at me, and I could tell that she was finally beginning to let herself be mad at my attitude. But I didn't care.

"Your friend 'Jeb' or something told me the address and that you needed me right now. So I came here. After all, I had nothing else to live for. My little sister, apparently, had died a few months before the School even assigned me to distract you. They… they didn't even tell me… I wasn't there when…"

Lissa suddenly burst into tears and buried her face in her hands.

Fang, Meagan, Angel and I just sort of stood there in front of the girl. Lissa's tears were trickling through her fingers to drop onto her lap. Her sobs echoed through the room.

I, of course, had no idea what I was supposed to do. Here was this girl that I had despised, and who I certainly did not trust, crying so heartbrokenly right in front of me. I didn't understand. Should I comfort her? Should I just chase her out of my house? What?

My indecision was solved for me when Angel and Meagan both stepped forward at the same time to comfort Lissa, putting their arms around her and patting her back, muttering soothing words. Fang hung back next to me, his fingers twitching against mind, a skeptical expression on his face as well. And we stood like that.

There. I hope, now, you have some sympathy for Lissa. I always hated the way they portrayed her in the books, because for some reason I just couldn't believe she could be so bad. I'd always thought she should have come in later as a better person. And now, thanks to my handy-dandy fanfiction, she can be! Yay!

Anyway, thanks for reading. Please review.

16. Understanding

Okay. So, just to let you people know, this fic is shortly drawing to a close. I think there will only be three or four more chapters. However, never fear! There WILL be a sequel! This sequel with be titled 'Nightmare', and I do believe it will be the – GASP! – final installment in my Dreaming series. Anyway, thanks for reading so far, and please continue!


When Lissa stopped crying, we all sort of stood there awkwardly for a while until she broke the silence.

"Do you… do you mind telling me what's going on with Iggy?" she asked softly, and there really was no way we could deny her that.

"Well," I started. "Iggy's memories have been erased and replaced by others. He is 'James' now. Iggy's gone."

My voice broke, and I could see a flicker of something interesting in Lissa's eyes, but it was gone within a moment.

"Yeah. He's… gone."

Fang, to, sounded unbelievably sad. To be honest, I really think he was having the worst time of this of all of us. He felt so guilty.

"That's… that's…" for a moment, it looked as if Lissa was about to burst into tears again, but she stopped herself.

"Lissa, would you like to stay today?" Angel asked innocently.

I sort of wanted to say 'no way in HECK is she staying here', but as of now, and with her relationship with Iggy, I really had nothing against her.

So Lissa smiled weakly and agreed.

And that was why we all ate lunch together.

"So, Lissa!" Nudge spoke up, her voice eager and ever-quick. "Did you, like, finish school where we were? Or did it shut down after that whole incident?"

She was, of course, talking about the day we all ran down the hallways with evil people chasing us.

"Um," Lissa started, nervously holding a spoonful of tuna-fish a few inches from her mouth. "Well, there was a break when everything was, you know, settled and stuff. It started again after that. But I ran away before it started."

"Oh, yeah!" Nudge spoke again. "And how did you meet Jeb? He's not all evil or anything, is he? Because I don't think you can trust him…"

Lissa shook her head. "No. Not evil. Not that I know of. He works as a sort of double-agent against the School. He helped me find a job and get back on my feet. I've been saving up money for a while now."

"Yes, you sure have," I said, but refrained from finishing with a 'where did you work, a strip-club?' No, I was far too mature for that kind of rudeness. I think.

"So, what made you… cut your hair?" Fang suddenly asked, and I winced inwardly. We all know just how much Fang loves his red hair.

Lissa shrugged. "I always had my hair short. I was wearing a wig at the school. Apparently long hair was supposed to be 'sexier', and therefore it would be easier for me to seduce you."

Fang stared at her open-mouthed.

"Better close your mouth, Fang. You'll attract flies," I stated moodily, picking at my sandwich and chips.

"You sound really pretty, miss," someone said, and I turned to see 'James' with a nervous smile, looking meek. "I always liked the color red. But I also like green and chocolate and yellow and blue…"

'James' stopped himself short, suddenly realizing that he had been babbling. He blushed bright red.

Lissa smiled warmly in his direction.

"Thank you very much. That was such a nice thing to say."

A brilliant joy grew in 'James' eyes, so overpowering that I smiled. And then I grew sad.

Because that's not how Iggy's eyes looked. I had just realized Iggy's eyes had almost never looked happy.

"Uh," I suddenly spoke up, standing harshly. "I'm sorry. I have a stomach ache. I'm going to go rest in my room."

Mom nodded, and they all said goodbye, and as I retreated Lissa stared at my back with a penetrating expression. And for some reason, I knew that she was here for a reason. And I was worried that that reason wasn't good.

Fang POV

I had to be honest with myself. I still was rather taken with Lissa. Even more so now that she was actually nice and honest.

I don't particularly understand why she attracts me so. It's this sort of aura she has – it makes me feel calm and serene and happy. Of course, it hasn't drowned out the empty feeling I have now, the absence of my absolute best friend and brother. No, that's never going to happen.

But still. Having her here made it a little easier to handle. Maybe knowing that the girl I had been infatuated with wasn't really so bad after all. Or knowing that Iggy had touched her life. It made her feel closer.

I would never turn my back on Max. I loved her for everything she is, ever was, and will be. But something about Lissa made my heart flutter, and I couldn't stop it for the life of me.

"Gosh," I muttered quietly as I watched the younger kids – which includes James, by the way – playing with a board game on the floor of the living room.

Max was still up in her bedroom, being sad, I suppose, and me, Meagan, and Lissa were watching a movie. I was staring intently at the screen. And then, quite suddenly, I realized that the two girls beside me had retreated from the couch and to the corner of the room, and were whispering together. Quite interested, I decided to listen in, using my super hearing to the best of my ability.

"So you love him, don't you?" That was Lissa, whispering harshly. There was a pause, during which I assumed Meagan must have nodded. "But… you grew up there? Do you know… Him?"

Another pause, and I assumed, another nod from Meagan.

"Yeah. He came in so often. Never did many bad things to me, though. Just told me what he was doing to the rest."

"And Iggy?"

"Yes. I always felt… bad, for him, you know? But I didn't know the kid. And then I heard that I was supposed to be plugged up in this 'dream' simulation with him, and I got freaked out. Spend five-hundred days in a 'dream', I thought? No, thank you. But… I did. And I fell in love."

Her voice started to get dreamy at the end, but then Meagan reverted to her usual, more Max-ish tone.

"Anyway. You knew Him, too. What..?"

"He was the one who bargained with me, using my sister as the bargaining chip. I always hated Him. And then, see, Jeb got this plan…"

Meagan and Lissa's conversation was suddenly cut off when the phone rang. Dr. Martinez walked in to pick it up, and talked for a few long minutes about some dog that had an injury at the office.

"Kids, I have to go. Lissa, I've made a bed for you in Max's room. Meagan, would you mind sleeping with Nudge and Ella for tonight?"

"No, m-mom," Meagan answered. I hadn't known she had started calling Dr. Martinez 'mom.'

"Right then. Why don't you guys start fixing us some dinner. I won't be home early enough to cook it. Fang, you could help them."

Then Dr. Martinez left, and I guided Lissa and Meagan in to the kitchen so we could begin to make dinner.

Nudge POV

Dinner turned to ashes in my mouth. I tried to be cheerful all day, I really did. I smiled, I joked, and I pretended that I hadn't witnessed Iggy's memories every night. I tried to pretend. And it was hard, but I succeeded. No one really cared to look close enough at me to notice the shadows under my eyes from lack of sleep, or the way I moped around now, instead of bouncing.

No one had ever noticed those things before. No one except for Iggy.

Which was why, with him being gone, everything was so much more difficult than usual.

No going to my Iggy at night to talk to him about all my worries and fears. No Iggy to help me sleep better when I was especially tense. No Iggy. No boy I loved.

And it pained me so.

Everything had been so much harder. Since she came to the flock.

Meagan. Every time I saw her, something inside me hurt. Every time she talked, I felt as though she was spiting me. And I knew I shouldn't, because she wasn't, but it was hard.

I had been so angry when we'd discovered she was real. After all, with Iggy being in love with Max, how was I to compete with Max's clone? There really was no way Iggy would ever choose me. And it hurt so bad.

I had understood everything from the beginning. When we were in the School. Whenever Iggy came back from 'experiments' with the bruises all over his hips and abdomen. How he never spoke up for himself. How he always put others first. How he was never afraid of the Erasers or the scientists, but whenever That Man walked by, how he'd cower and submit. I understood.

I wanted to shout at him. I understand you! I know what you're going through! I listen to you and talk to you! I love you! Don't you understand? Max doesn't do any of that. She hardly notices the pain you're going through. So why can't you fall in love with me?

But it was of no use, and never would be of any use. So I had to settle with watching from the sidelines, because Iggy was always so near, and yet so far I would never have him in reach.

So all I could do was go to bed, stare at the ceiling, and wait for the memories to bombard me with pain. And I could think Iggy, I knew all of this. Why didn't you talk to me? You knew I knew…

And yet I was always just one step behind. First Max. Then Meagan. There was no way I could ever compete. And I knew it. And I hated it.

But I loved Iggy too much to let it put me down. Because as long as I was near him, everything was fine.

The problem was that he was no longer here, and I was slowly breaking.

There, a little insight on Nudge. I love that girl to death, and I find she gets paid almost as little attention as Iggy. It makes my heart cry.

By the way, I'd like to point out that I make subtle hints as to Fang's and Max's perceptions of James. You can tell, because Max always calls the boy 'James' with those quotations, while Fang simply calls him James without them.

Please review. It would so dearly cheer up my heavy heart.

17. Living


I accidentally typed it while I was reading X-Men while the computer was on my lap.

I like it. It's my new favorite accidentally-made-up word. Tied with phenonenon.


I talked to Fang that evening. We were both sitting on the roof in his room. Lissa was on the floor in my room, sleeping, I think.

"So. What do you think about Lissa?" I asked. Fang shrugged.

"I don't know. I think we can trust her. Let's keep her here a while, though. Question here about stuff. She might know things."

I nodded, agreeing. "Yeah, you're right."

We remained silence for a while longer, staring up at the stars. And then Fang said something.

"You know, Max… I don't think Iggy's coming back." His voice cracked when he said this, and I could hear him quivering. He was desperately sad at this moment.

My bottom lip began to quiver as well.

"I… I know. I know. We were just… deluding ourselves."

"Yeah." Fang remained silent for another moment, and then began again. "But I still want to get revenge. On that Professor Jordan, for what he did to Iggy. And on Anne… for what she did."

"Of course," I agreed. "There's no way we couldn't."

Fang turned and grinned slightly at me.

"We're going to make it so Iggy can rest in peace."

"Yeah. It's decided." I held my hand out to Fang, and we shook on it.

There was another long silence. I stared at the boy next to me, and realized something.

Fang had changed in these past months. Ever since Iggy had been taken away by the School. He had softened, somehow. Become a great deal more emotional. Less constrained.

This Fang I saw before me was someone I could put my trust in. Someone in whom I could confide. Someone who I knew would do anything to protect me and the people he loved.

Fang wasn't the silent, moody, masculine boy anymore.

He was kinder, sweeter, more accepting and understanding now.

I liked him better this way.

I flashed Fang a smile, and he looked deep into my eyes. Then he bent forward and kissed me.

And I kissed him back.

And this was unlike any of the other kisses. I could sense his feelings through it. It was soft and sweet and yet passionate at the same time. Gentle and calm, yet exhilarating.

But I had to pull away, because just a second later…

Suicide seemed like such an easy way to go. Such a kind way to go. Just slip away into everlasting peace and comfort. I liked the idea.

There were so many ways I could do it, too. Ways that wouldn't be painful. Ways where I could just… go to sleep.

I could swallow a bottle of Aspirin.

Maybe drink some bleach.

Cut myself a little too deep.

I could hang myself.

What I constantly thought about, though, was simply flying up high into the air and falling, spiraling through the air, having my last moments of life be that exhilarating and exciting and wonderful feeling. And that's what I decided on.

And it was settled.

Except for the, you know, doubts.

Should I really die? Was that really my only option to get rid of all this pain I had to live with?

My whole life. Fourteen years. And I don't have a single truly happy memory. There is no memory in which I am not depressed about my past. And it hurts.

So, I was making up that doubt. I really did know that it was my only option.

I mean, I would never tell anyone about this. What would Fang or Max do if I told them?

They'd probably be totally grossed out. I remember what they used to say. Making fun of 'cutters'. If they found out I was one, they'd probably never want to be affiliated with me again.

But I was really just trying to ignore the fact that I new, just new they'd be horrified if they found out about Him. And what He did to me. Maybe they'd be so disgusted they wouldn't even want to touch me anymore. And they wouldn't let me hold their hands or belt-loops. And it would be that much harder for me to get around.

Or, you know, maybe if they found out they'd just ditch me. Just leave me somewhere. They don't want some sort of raped psycho living with Nudge or Gazzy or Angel. If they knew about the voices…

I know, I know. Max and Fang were too kind to ever just ditch me. I know it. But it didn't stop me from worrying about it.

Which is why it made talking about it not an option.

So I was going to commit suicide. It would be so nice. Just silence. No more voices. No more painful memories. Just… nothing. Precious nothing. I was so looking forward to it.

And then Fang had to go and get an idea as to where our parents were living. And I had to check it out.

I don't know why I got my hopes up. There was no way we were going to find my parents. I just… wanted to find them. So the flock could leave me with them, and then they wouldn't have to be the ones to find my body. They wouldn't even have to know that I had died. They could carry on with their lives blissfully ignorant.

Of course it was a false lead.

I was so frustrated; I struck out in front of me and ended up with a horrible pain in my knuckles. I had punched a pole.

Then I felt like I had to say something. Quick, Iggy, think of some excuse… why did I punch a pole? Certainly not because finding my parents was my only hope to not let you guys have to deal with my dead body…

"This sucks!" was what I could manage, and had to quickly sort out a reason why.

"I'm sorry, Ig–" Max said, and I quickly interrupted, ad-libbing on the spot.

"I don't care if you're sorry! Everyone's sorry! That doesn't matter!" I felt my heart hurt. I hated shouting at anyone. After all, the only one who deserved anger directed at them was me. "What matters is that we find where we belong!"

I could feel the whole flock staring at me, and heard Angel's shuddering breaths meaning she was tearing up. I tried to control my emotions so that she couldn't read my pain.

"I mean, I just can't take this anymore!" That much was true. I couldn't take life anymore. "Always on the run, always hunted…"

I cursed as my voice broke, and struggled to keep myself under control. However, it was hard. And even harder when Max stepped forward and tried to put her arms around me.

No, I thought, pained. Don't hold me. I know you don't love me. You could never…

I pushed her off me and stepped away when Max spoke up.

"We all want answers, Iggy. We all feel lost sometimes. It's just – we have to stick together. We won't stop looking for your parents, I swear."

I felt slightly better, hearing the emotion in her voice and knowing she meant it. She wouldn't stop looking for my parents.

I wanted to apologize, to just say sorry and turn away. But I had to keep up the personality I had built, maintain my façade

"It's different for you," I started. "You don't know what it's like. Yeah, I make jokes, I'm the blind kid – but don't you see? Every time we move on, I'm lost all over again. You guys – it's so much easier for you. Even your lost isn't as bad as my lost, you know?"

I think that's what I really would say, if this was happening to a me with a past that wasn't my past. It was feelings of mine… but feelings that were often dulled in comparison by my memories.

"We're your eyes, Iggy. You don't need to see when you've got us."

Oh, Gazzy. He was so kind to me. I loved the little guy to death. But… I needed this venting. And maybe this would encourage Max to find my parents, and they'd find them, and I could leave and die without anyone knowing…

"Yeah, but I won't always have you! What happens if you get killed? Of course I need to see, you idiot!" I winced internally. I had just called my little brother an idiot. "I remember seeing! I know what it's like! I don't have it anymore, and I won't ever have it again. And someday, I'm going to lose you, lose all of you – and when that happens, I'll lose… myself."

Please, please find my parents, Max, it's the only way…

But maybe I didn't need to go to my parents. It would work just as well if I was… was arrested or something…

In mock-anger, I reached to the ground, lifted a large chunk of the sticky asphalt, and threw it furiously at where I knew a storefront was. I heard the satisfying noise of glass shattering, and sirens began to blare.

"Uh-oh," I said, trying to make it seem like an accident.

There was a pause, and then Fang spoke up.

"Let's split."

I heard the rest of them taking off, and smiled. It was better this way. The police could take me away, and they'd never have to see me again…

"No," I said softly. Unfortunately, Max heard.

"What? Come on, Iggy. The alarm's going off."

I frowned.

"I know. I'm not deaf too. I don't care, let them find me, take me now. It doesn't matter. Nothing matters." Except for you and the flock. It's better for you guys this way.

I sat down on the curb.

"Iggy, let's go, get up," Fang commanded. I ignored him.

"Give me one good reason."

Suddenly, the voices came back, muttering and whispering into my ears, to add to the already painful blaring of the siren and my own thoughts. I pressed my head into my hands. It was no use. There was no good reason for me to stay with them.

Then, suddenly…

"You guys go," Max said, and she walked towards me as the rest paused, then took off into the sky. She leaned down next to me. I could feel her warmth.

"Listen, Iggy, I'm sorry about tonight," she started, and I could hear the panic in her voice, and wondered if it was about the police or the fact that I might be arrested. Probably the police. "I know how disappointed you are. We're all disappointed. And I'm sorry you're blind. I remember when you weren't, and I can't even imagine what it's like to lose that."

I felt something inside me getting warmer, and wondered what Max was getting at. Was she trying to give me a reason not to give up? If so, it wasn't going to work. My mind was set.

"I'm sorry we're mutant bird kids, I'm sorry we don't have parents, I'm sorry we have Erasers and people trying to kill us all the time."

I tried to ignore the voices, but they just kept clamoring, almost drowning out the sound of Max's voice.

"But if you think I'm going to let you give up on us now, you've got another think coming. Yes, you're a blind mutant, freak, but you're my blind mutant freak, and you're coming with me, now, you're coming with us right now, or I swear I will kick your skinny white ass from here to the middle of next week."

I was glad she didn't want me to leave them. But the police were almost here, I could hear through the voices, and I was on the way to a private death…

Then Max had to go and make life worth it.

"Iggy, I need you, I love you."

Everything froze. My whole life flashed before my eyes. All my feelings, all my hopes and wishes and desires. And it all focused on that one little fact.

Max loved me.

I hadn't even heard the rest of her speech; just those little three words had convinced me.

And I stood and followed her into the air, and knew that I would never cut again.

Hooray! I liked that little different perspective on that chapter in Maximum Ride, 'School's out – Forever'. It made me happy to write, just to let you know. Please review! Thanks bunches!

18. Funeral

Okay. The only reason I didn't update yesterday was because I had TWO friends over to spend the night, and the whole day before we were shopping at the mall. I got an epic My Chemical Romance T-shirt, and a Slytherin T-shirt. I am happy with my results.

And guess what! I went to Borders today and found The Lake House, which is the second in a series that is basically the adult version of Maximum Ride. Or rather, Maximum Ride is the teen version of it. The alter-egos go as follows: Maximum Ride – Maximum, Fang –Ozymandias, Iggy – Icarus, then Nudge – Matthew (I think), Gazzy – Peter, and Angel – Wendy. So far, it's pretty good. Icarus is even blind and awesome! The only weird thing is that apparently Max and Oz have sex, then Max lays two eggs. Um…


Fang and I fell asleep together that night, there on the roof. It felt so warm, so comforting, that I could almost forget about everything. But there was always that horrible, aching sadness, echoing in the core of my being that was the loss of one of the only people in this world whom I truly trusted.

Iggy was everything to us. He was our center; the core of the flock. And none of us had ever realized how much we truly needed and loved him until now, now that he was gone. It made my heart hurt to recognize this.

Maybe Iggy was never supposed to have been born. Maybe he was an accident. Maybe the only reason he ever lived was by some weird, illogical twist of fate. Maybe the scientists should have terminated him before he even met us. Maybe he shouldn't have escaped from the School with us. Maybe we should never have gotten attached to him, never should have cared for him, never should have loved him. But those were all maybes.

All I knew was that Iggy was important to me, as well as to the rest of the flock. All those moments we had ever shared with him were dear, and would always be held in high esteem. Though Iggy was now gone… I knew that all of us would always keep him in a special place in our hearts – no matter how cheesy that may sound. Because Iggy was an amazing boy, with amazing talents, and the amazing ability to make people laugh. He brought out the better in all of us, generate joy as though it was effortless.

We knew though, now, that it hadn't been effortless. Our Iggy had had to try, really try, to be such a loved member in the flock. And he still hadn't believed it, not until his final moments of consciousness. I wanted so much to have my Iggy back, laughing and joking and making delicious foods. I wanted him to jump onto the roof and complain about how annoying me and Fang were always making 'lovey-dovey' faces at each other… because 'even if he couldn't see us do it, he still knew we were'.

"Fang," I said suddenly, after having been staring out at the trees of the forest for a while and thinking. Fang moved and turned his eyes to me, nodding.


Pausing, I studied the earth about the beginning of the forest. There was a small weeping willow tree, just on the other side of the lake. Mom had planted it several years ago, hoping it would grow large. No such luck. But staring at the tree, I could think of Iggy, sitting by the trunk among the branches, his eyes closed softly, his head leaned back, listening to the sounds of the forest and the chatter of all of us around him. He used to love that tree; he told me that he enjoyed the way the world sounded from among the hanging, leafy tendrils of the branches.

"Let's hold a funeral."

Fang POV

I stared at Max for a long moment, pondering her idea.

"Yes. Let's."

We clambered back into my room through the window and out the door, walking down the hallway and passed the closed door to Iggy's room, and into the kitchen. No one was down yet except Ella, who was making eggs and toast. She turned towards us with a little happy smile on her face.

"Hey, guys! How's it going? Sit down, I'll give you breakfast…"

I sat next to Max, happily accepting plates. Then Max spoke up to her sister.

"Hey, Ells. Listen… we need to talk to you all about something important. Do you think you could call everyone down? Everyone except for 'James'."

Ella looked quizzically at the two of us, then nodded, turned, and trotted up the stairs.

A few minutes later, Gazzy had tramped down with Nudge, Angel and Meagan at his heels. Nudge looked worried.

"Max," she said hurriedly. "Lissa's gone. I looked into your room and she wasn't there. I think she left."

"Oh," Max answered, looking surprised, then blowing it off. "It's fine. She's free to leave if she wants."

Dr. Martinez walked down with Ella a few moments later, and we were all gathered in the kitchen.

"Um… okay," Max started, as everyone stared at her expectantly. "I wanted to talk to all of you because… because me and Fang have realized that Iggy is gone, and he's not coming back."

"What?" Gazzy protested, his lip quivering. "That's not true! He just… he just doesn't remember anything… but we can get him memories back, right?" Silence. He turned his head, looking at all of us imploringly. "Right?" His face fell.

"Sorry, Gasser," I answered. "But we found some things out. At the School, there was this evil scientist named Professor Jordan. During the surgery, he deleted all of Iggy's memories. James isn't Iggy, he's a completely different person, just in Iggy's body. Iggy's gone."

There was total silence.

"Well, Max," Dr. Martinez suddenly said, looking at her daughter with an air of sadness and loss about her. "What are you proposing."

Max sighed.

"Listen… we don't want Iggy to just disappear from out lives. None of us want him to go. We all… we all loved him. But since he's gone, the only way to truly honor that is with a funeral. So that's what we are going to do."

Everyone remained quiet, then Meagan nodded. The rest soon agreed as well.

"That's it, then," Max said softly. "We'll leave 'James' in bed. Please, come outside. I know just the spot."

As we walked, Max and I led the rest to the weeping willow tree by the lake. It had been Iggy's favorite place to relax.

Suddenly, Nudge spoke up to my right, and both Max and I turned out heads towards her.

"So, you're not going to tell any of the others about Iggy's past?" she asked, her eyes soft, yet cold. I stared at her, mouth agape.

"What are you talking about?" I asked, but Nudge's sad expression didn't change.

"You don't think I'm stupid, do you?" she asked, a tone of anger in her voice. "I was awake for all of those memories Angel was 'dreaming' every night. I know everything you do. Maybe more."

"Nudge," Max said, confused. "How..?"

"How?" Nudge responded, her voice quiet. "Max… I know everything. Even before you guys. My whole point of existence is to 'understand', right? That's what Jeb's note said." Max and I continued to stare at her. "Max, you guys… I knew what Professor Jordan was doing to Iggy even while we were in the School. I was too young to notice that you hadn't, though. Didn't you see? He came back from every 'experiment' shaking and quiet, but unharmed. Either that, or with bruises all over his hips and neck in the shape of handprints and fingerprints."

I gazed at Nudge in a new light, hearing the passion and despair in her voice.

"I knew everything. And yet, you didn't even consider letting me in to your little 'team'. You even let Angel in! Why not me?"

"I… I'm sorry, Nudge," Max spoke, her voice shaking. We had reached the tree now, and were waiting for the rest of them to catch up.

Nudge shook her head.

"Max, you need to learn to trust us. I think even Gazzy would be able to handle it. And Ella is more mature than you like to think. And Dr. Martinez is your mom, Max. But… we're not here to argue. Let's do this right."

The place was beautiful. The lake was shining, reflecting the blue sky above. It would have been a perfect day for flight. Birds were chirruping in the woods, and the trees ruffled with a mild wind. The billowing fronds of the willow tree waved in the breeze. Iggy would have loved this weather.

Max and I walked silently to the lake and waded in up to our waists. Then, Max spotted a large, smooth rock that looked almost to be shimmering under the surface We each bent and lifted it easily up to the air; once it exited the water, it became a great deal heavier, but manageable. We carried it back to where everyone was standing around the tree, through the hanging fronds and to the trunk, setting it down gently.

The stone was a pale pinkish color that reminded me of the color of Iggy's hair and wings. Though not quite. The stone was utterly rounded and smooth. It made me wonder if the emptiness I felt without my absolute best friend would ever go away.

Angel stepped forward and bent down to the rock, setting a tiny flower on it. Then she stepped back.

"Iggy, we all love you very much. You are our laughter and hope. You keep the flock together when everything looks like it's falling apart. Without you… we are almost nothing. But we will always keep you close to our hearts and treasure every memory we have of you."

Angel's little speech was so mature, it brought me to the point that my eyes teared up. But I swallowed my sadness listened as Gazzy stepped up to the stone.

"Iggy… y-you were m-my b-b-best friend in the whole w-world. I won't ever have anyone I c-can't build bombs with. And you won't ever be able to teach me everything you know. And I'll always regret that. I wish you were here. And I still don't think you're gone."

He said that last part rebelliously, throwing a furious look at both me and Max. I just smiled sadly at him, noticing the tears streaming down his cheeks.

"Iggy… I loved you. I… I still love you. And nothing can ever change that. I wish we could have grown up together, and maybe one day got married and had kids. But… but that's not going to happen, and I'm sorry for that. Thank you for being the one light in my dark life. I'm glad I could have been in yours."

Meagan turned away from the rest of us and buried her face in her hands. My heart went out to her; she felt the same for Iggy as I did for Max. I know the pain she is feeling. It hurts.

Ella was next, with a sort of sad expression.

"Iggy, you really seemed like an awesome guy. I didn't really get to know you or the rest of your flock as well as I would have liked to, and I'm sorry about that. I would have liked to become more of a sister to you than I am now, but now that can't be helped. Right now, that's my biggest regret."

Following Ella, tears glistening in her eyes, hand clenching the locket at her neck was Dr. Martinez.

"I always considered all of you as my own children. I loved you as I would have any son, and I couldn't have loved you more if we were related by blood. I'm sorry I couldn't have been there for all of you when you needed a parent. I hope I even fractionally made up for the loss of maternal love in your life."

"Iggy… I understood everything. I did. I knew everything about you, and I'm sorry I never acted on it. I should have tried to help you, but instead I just tried to catch your eye from the sidelines. I know now that if I was really focused on winning you, I would have actually made an attempt. But since I knew how you felt about Max, I never even gave it a try. But Iggy, I did love you with every fiber of my being. I still love you. Nothing, not anything can ever change how I feel for you. But I know that you don't feel that way for me, and that's okay. Just know that I love you and I always have."

Nudge finished with a fierce, strong expression, and she turned her eyes to meet Meagan's. For a solid second they stared at each other… and then something in Nudge changed, and I knew that she wouldn't be cold towards Max's clone any longer. She had let go.

I decided to go next. I stepped forward and tried to look inside myself for any words to describe how I felt. None suited it. None could truly express how terribly sorry I was.

"Iggy…" I started, then my voice cracked. "Iggy. You were always my best friend. The one I turned to when I was upset. The one I talked to and hung out with. I've known you since we were both babies in the School. I watched you grow up, and you watched me grow up." I paused and took a deep breath. "Sixteen years," I said, my voice starting to shake. "Sixteen years is no full life. Sixteen years it less than a fifth of a hundred. They took your whole life away, Iggy. They took away your life." My shoulders shook slightly, and I was trembling with the force of my emotions. "I'll only have known you for fourteen years of my life, Iggy… but that won't change anything. And even if you'll only ever be in those fourteen years of my life, I'll never, ever forget you. Because you're my brother. I love you to death."

Max stepped up next to me, and I felt her hand, suddenly, in mine. I turned to her to see tears glistening in her eyes.

"Iggy, I'm sorry. That we weren't there for you when you needed us most. I'm sorry we never noticed any of the pain you were going through. It hurts me to think that you suffered your entire life, and we could have helped. We all loved you so much, and we will never be a whole family again. But we can move on. I hope you know that."

And it was over.

And that hole in my chest was even more painful, now that we had finally, fully accepted it.

Iggy is gone.

Lissa POV

I walked swiftly down the old road, until finally the small apartment building came inside. It was a tiny, two-floor building, with barely fifty apartments total.

I finally stopped at room A10, and knocked swiftly at the door. There was a long pause as Jeb assumedly looked through the peep-hole, then the door was pulled open and he stood there, looking worried and disheveled, and ushered me in.

There was an uncomfortable silence until Jeb broke the ice by asking me the question.

"Well?" he said, in a voice that was slightly raspy. I stared at him.

"They're so distracted. At this rate, no, Max will never be able to save the world."

Jeb's face crumpled and he collapsed, distraught, into a hard armchair. He put his head into his hands.

"No! I tried… I tried so hard… I tried to make it so that they wouldn't get attached to him! I prohibited him from playing with them, tried to make them unable to bond, so that this very thing would not happen…"

I stood there, staring at the man. I knew that Jeb had the flock's best interests at heart, but really? I knew of all of his secrets. How he didn't want to even rescue Iggy from the School in the first place; it had been Max, calling to his attention that he had 'forgotten' to let Iggy out of his cage that was the only reason they had left with him. And then trying to keep him from becoming friends with the rest… 'It was all for the greater good,' he said, but I myself wasn't so sure. I scowled at him.

"This is all your fault," I said. "They're so depressed and wracked with guilt. They can barely function."

Jeb shook his head, looking up at me.

"You must have read them wrong," he said, his voice quiet. "Please, you must have read them wrong."

I shook my head furiously in disagreement.

"I'm an empathy. The second I stepped into that house, the depression, loss and guilt almost overloaded my senses. I stayed the night to humor you, but I knew the instant I met them that it had completely wrecked them."

There was a silence as I glared accusingly at Jeb and he tried to look anywhere but at me. Then, with regret in his voice, he stood.

"I tried. I really did. But now… there's nothing else I can do."

Ooh. I'm excited! Guess what? I already have the plot PLUS certain scenes for the sequel of this fic all planned out! I can't WAIT to write them! Please keep reading and reviewing. Thanks bunches!

Oh. And the 'funeral' sort of made it final. It was a very sad scene to write, I can tell you.

19. Reminiscing

Okay. I'm really looking forward to the sequel, so I decided to try to finish 'Daydream' as fast as possible. There will be two more chapters, so I might finish it tomorrow. Exciting, huh?


Lunch was a somber affair. We all ate quietly, pondering what had happened previously.

We had had the funeral and said our words to Iggy… then me and Fang had taken Nudge's words to heart and told everyone what we knew about Iggy.

I hadn't really wanted to, because I was so overprotective of my flock. But then again, I guess that caused more problems in the long run. Like how I underestimated Nudge, and hurt Iggy by not including him. I was protecting them, but it hurt them instead.

So now they all knew. About Iggy's Schizophrenia, and his mental disorders. About his depression and cutting. The psychological torture he had been subjected to at the School… as well as the sexual torture. About what Professor Jordan had done, and what Anne had done. About Iggy's four percent bird DNA. And about the injections they had given him to make him weak.

Gazzy had handled it a lot better than I had predicted. I don't really think he understood all of it, and he didn't ask any questions, but by his silent demeanor it was obvious he was still thinking about it. And probably wondering about certain… things.

I hadn't wanted to tell him; he was so small, so young. I had known Angel could handle it, but Gazzy?

But Nudge had been right. I had to trust my flock with more. And if I did, I could be a better person. I could be a better friend, mother, and caregiver. I can be a better all-around leader. So I'm looking forward to the new, more trusting me.

'James' was eating quietly, and I could tell why. Ella and Gazzy kept throwing him glances – Gazzy's were distraught, Ella's were slightly intrigued, slightly wondering, slightly sad… and I also thought I saw a small hint of disgust, but I couldn't be sure. Anyway, 'James' was squirming under their gazes, until it got to the point to which I decided to relieve him of his discomfort.

"'James', lets go play," I said, and the boy looked up towards me and nodded happily, standing and walking around the table, exiting the room with me.

I led him down the hall and into the living room, where I retrieved a box of Gazzy's toys. There wasn't much, as, being a mother of seven children, mom didn't often have dough to spare, but it was like a treasure trove for us mutant bird-kids. You know, having grown up in the School and all.

Anyway, I lifted the lid to the box and peeked inside. There were cars and trucks, board games and marbles. I lifted a variety of the items from the container and set them out on the floor for 'James'.

"Here," I said, continuing to sift through the box, handing more of the toys to him.

Then, at the very bottom of the box, I spotted it.

The photo album.

I remembered Gazzy telling me about finding it just nights ago, but I never got around to looking at it. Now, I decided I would find the time. After all, 'James' would most likely be entertained with the toys, being the seven-year-old boy that he is, and the rest of my family was still eating. It was the perfect opportunity to be reminiscent.

As 'James' played with the cars and the marbles, I flipped open the first page in the album.

We hadn't had many pictures from our days in the E-shaped house, so most of them were from our time spent here. But the first picture in the book was one of my flock surrounding Jeb, barely a year or so after getting out of the School.

I grinned at how young we all looked. Angel was not even four years old, small and innocent-looking, wrapped in a blanket with just her eyes and nose peeping out. I was ruffling her hair from the side, gazing at her with rapture, still in my little gosh-isn't-Angel-just-the-cutest-little-thing phase. Nudge and her corkscrew hair was all over the place, jumping excitedly next to Fang, her mouth open; she was still in mid-sentence, chattering about how cool the automatic camera was, so that 'we could all wait and no one would have to press the button but it would take the picture anyway and we would all be in it'.

Fang was standing behind Jeb, looking slightly sullen, his arms crossed and his eyes shadowed by his hair. I had almost forgotten how long it used to be. Gazzy stood, laughing, clutching Iggy's hand.

My heart went to my throat as I saw him. Iggy was wearing this soft little smile, his eyes warm and kind, looking vaguely to the left of the camera. He looked nervous, as if he was scared to be in the photo. His hair was shorter then, his bangs barely reaching his eyebrows and falling no longer than his earlobe. In that year out of the School, he had grown a bunch; he was Fang's height in the picture, though I knew that, later, he would grow way taller than him.

My eyes passed right over Jeb, not wanting to pay him any heed. He had abandoned us and left Iggy for dead. I didn't care about my pseudo-dad anymore.

The next picture I looked at was one of when we had just moved in with my mom. We were all gathered at the front door, grinning and happy. Iggy had his mouth open in a laugh; I was tickling his ribs furiously after he had 'threatened' to blow up my dresser.

I went through these family portraits, then moved on to the sectioned ones. See, mom is this real neat-freak. She had all the photos categorized. 'The flock before they lived here'. 'The flock after they moved in'. Then she had the 'family' pictures, then the group pics of each individual person. I flipped straight to the group of Iggy photos.

There was a slightly smaller amount of Iggy than the rest of us, mostly because he disliked having his picture taken seeing as he'd never see it anyway. But me, Nudge and Angel had had a project of getting as much as we could; therefore, a lot of them were of him when he wasn't paying attention.

The first my eyes landed on was one of him, asleep on the couch; Nudge was giggling, a blue Crayola marker in hand, drawing a curly handlebar moustache on his upper lip. I grinned. Iggy had fallen asleep after drinking way too much soda, then crashing while we watched a movie. His head was tilted back on the couch cushion, and his mouth was slightly open, so he was drooling. I grinned and shook my head, moving on to the next picture.

There was Iggy, sitting under the very same willow tree where we had just laid his memories to rest. I quickly turned the page.

In the next one, Iggy was perched up in a large tree, leaning back against the trunk. His eyes were closed, but due to his position and the attention on his face, I knew he was awake. Why open your eyes when you can't even see?

I laughed out loud as I came to the next one; Iggy was frowning towards the camera, laying long-ways on the couch, his mouth open in some sort of protest; Angel was sitting by his head, giggling furiously, giving him 'bunny ears' with her index and middle-finger in a peace sign.

"Hey, Max, what are you doing?" 'James' suddenly spoke up, and I glanced at him to see Iggy's face looking back with a curious smile. I paused.

"I'm looking through the photo album. The one that you found for us."

'James' nodded, then walked over and sat next to me, looking intrigued.

"Is it fun? You were laughing. I like it when you're happy." The kid gave me the cutest smile; unfortunately, when I looked at his face all I saw was my Iggy looking back. I kept trying to tell myself not to, though; I should never mix up Iggy with 'James', or I might confuse the two and forget about Iggy altogether. That could never happen.

"Gee, that's great. Thanks, 'James'."

Maybe this boy wasn't so bad after all. Maybe I could live with 'James' as I would with any normal bird-kid. Maybe he could become part of the family.

Maybe I could stop being in denial. 'James'.


Maybe I could grow to love that boy. After all, it wasn't his fault all of his memories were created by evil scientists. It wasn't his fault he had been put in Iggy's body. It really wasn't. And it wasn't right of me to blame him.

James. I smiled.

Then, the doorbell rang.

"Max!" mom called from the kitchen, where I could suddenly hear the sink running. "Could you get that? The rest of the kids are out back, and I'm washing the dishes."

"Sure thing," I called back, standing. "James, stay here. I'll be right back."

Laughing to myself, I realized I'd been so enraptured by the photo album that I hadn't even noticed my flock tramping past us and out the back door. What an air-head I could be, at times.

Feeling good about my newfound acceptance of James, I skipped to the front door an pulled it open.

To find Lissa.

"Well, isn't this a surprise," I said, feigning shock. "Fancy seeing you here, after running out on us last night."

Lissa kept her face expressionless.

"I had to come, Max. And I brought someone."

She stepped to the side to reveal… Jeb. Hatred boiled up inside me. I would never forgive him for what he did, never trust him again. Never.

"What do you want?" I growled, narrowing my eyes at him. He simply stared at me for a few moments, looking tired and upset about something.

"I'm sorry, Max," he finally said.

"Yeah, like that makes up for anything," I spat back at him.

"Really." He looked repentant. Too bad I wasn't in the forgiving mood. Not now, not ever. "I'm really sorry for all I did. I tried to keep you from getting attached to Iggy, but it didn't work, and I apologize for that. You were supposed to save the world, Max, and now you're too distracted to do anything. I hoped that maybe with Iggy out of your life you could focus, but…"

Sudden fury burned within me. Lissa frowned.

"Jeb, you're making her angry. Stop."

I cast her a glance that managed to fit a question in with the anger, and she answered with a short sentence.

"I'm an empath."

I turned instantly back to Jeb.

"Jeb," I spoke, and every syllable I spoke afterward dripped with disgust. "You raised the six of us for two years and took care of us in the School. Iggy was one of those kids. We all loved you back then, even him. And now he's gone, and you're standing here complaining to me about how I can't 'save the world'. You know why? Because one of the only people in this world that I trust, one of the only people I have ever and will ever love is gone. And you're not even feeling a speck of remorse. You know what, Jeb? I'm sick of your crap."

I stepped back and was about to slam the door in his face, but he stepped in the way. He sighed and looked at me with those familiar eyes that I hated.

"But Max, that's why I'm here. You need to save the world. You can't if you're distracted. Max, I have the mechanisms and the means to get him back."

Then, wordlessly, he held up a small hard drive.

Ooh. Exciting. Last chapter soon to come! Then keep your eyes out for the first chapter of 'Nightmare'!

Please review!

20. Happy Ending

Right then, folks. This is the final chapter of 'Daydream'. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it so far. I really like writing this series, and I am really excited to begin the next and final sequel… 'Nightmare'. If you wish to read it, please either subscribe to me or keep a lookout on my profile. But I don't think it will be more than a week before I get the sequel out.

Thank you all for reading, and please continue!


Fang and I trotted behind Lissa and Jeb, our hearts beating quickly in our breasts.

We were going to get Iggy back.

There was just such an intense level of happiness and bliss at this moment, and I could hardly pay attention to anything else except that simple fact.

I was getting my brother back.

We were headed towards the tiny apartment complex where Lissa and Jeb were staying; Jeb had all of his equipment there.

"Max, please, where are we going?" Iggy's voice comes from behind us, nervous and confused.

Ah. That's right. James was with us.

"Um… we're going to see Lissa's apartment," I answered anxiously. There was that one, tiny little speck of doubt I had. James would undoubtedly disappear once we got Iggy back. Was that like… murder?

He was just a little kid.

But I reminded myself that he was barely even human. Just a series of memories that were artificially created in some machine. Not actually a person.

I convinced myself this was the truth. Besides, it was Iggy's body, Iggy's mind. Iggy deserved it.

Fang was holding James' hand, guiding him softly. He looked excited and sad at the same time, his gaze continuing to flick to James/Iggy's face.

"But Max, why am I coming too?" he asked. I could see the apartment coming into view, just a block away by the coffee shop. I shrugged halfheartedly, and Lissa glanced back at me with a frown on her face. Ah, yes. She's an empath.

"Because. Because, James, okay?"

I said this with undue harshness, and James winced, looking down at the ground and continuing to follow helplessly.


Fang's voice sounded strained. I looked him in the eye in a way that seemed to communicate what I wanted to; do you want Iggy back or not?

And Fang wanted his best friend back. He really, really did.

"Here we are," Jeb spoke, stopping outside apartment number A10. He fumbled in his pocket for a key and slid it into the lock, quickly opening the door and leading us through. James tried to linger outside, but Fang pulled him through and sat him on a chair.

"Now then, where is this machine?" I asked Jeb. He gestured to his laptop, which was resting on his bed. I stared at it for a moment, and then looked back up at him, an incredulous expression on my face.

"It's a highly advanced computer," Jeb explained. "It's a smaller version of what Professor Jordan used in the first place, but since the process of putting the memories back is much easier, we don't need the original."

I nodded, not particularly understanding. I stepped up.

"How does it work? When can you do it?"

Jeb stepped up next to me. Involuntarily, I took a step away from him. If he noticed, he didn't respond.

"I have some needles that will need to be inserted into certain energy points. As well as one inside his neck. You see, there is a microchip inside each of you for the purpose of downloading data. The needles just help as a sort of pathway, to make sure none of the data gets lost in the process. See?"

Jeb opened his laptop and carefully inserted the small hard drive into the appropriate slot. I nodded.

"Lissa, please get the equipment," he said, his eyes far away, lost in thought as he opened files and fished through documents, the mouse clicking at about a hundred clicks-per-minute.

Lissa frowned and turned towards me. She gestured silently at James.

"You might want to take care of him," she whispered, then turned to retrieve, most likely, the equipment.

When I turned to him, it was to see his eyes wide and fearful, his bottom lip quivering, and sitting tense in the chair. Fang was staring silently at Jeb and what he was doing, as if he was trying not to look at the pitiful boy in the chair.

"James, what's wrong?" I asked, trying to sound calm and affectionate. He turned his face towards me.

"Max, I don't know what's going on! Why am I here? You're not telling me, and I can't see what's going on…"

Tears were glistening in the boy's eyes, and I honestly didn't know what to do. I couldn't tell him the truth. 'Well, the reason we are here is because we're going to forcibly shove you from Iggy's consciousness so that he can return'? That was too cruel…

Lissa stepped up just then, and held out a syringe. I gaped at her, but she simply nodded in his direction and gazed meaningfully into my eyes. It was a look that said 'you don't have to do this'.

But that just made me resolve my nerve.

I silently took the syringe and bent next to James, looking into his eyes, though he couldn't see me. His eyes were frightened. But all I could do was anticipate Iggy's return.


"Honey, do you trust me?" I asked, and he gazed at me for a few moments before nodding. "Okay, then please, stay very still."

And I stuck the needle into his arm, pressing on the end until all of the liquid drug was in his system.

It took moments for him to fall asleep, but right before he did, as his eyes fluttered closed, he whispered three words.

"Max, I'm scared."

And then he was asleep, and I knew that he would probably never wake up. Because the next time those eyes opened, it would be Iggy.

"Okay," Jeb said, and Fang and I exchanged a deep, meaningful look. "It's ready. Bring him to the bed.

The two of us hoisted Iggy's body and pulled him over to lay him on the rough mattress. Once lying down, Jeb took some thin needles and inserted them into the flesh at several different points on his temple. They were so thin; it probably didn't even hurt at all.

"You ready?" he asked, his fingers lingering over the buttons of his advanced computer.

I felt one tiny, infinitesimal spark of guilt for crushing James out of existence.

But the boy had only 'lived' for a few days. And Iggy… was just so much more important to us.

Because I had tried, tried so hard to be strong. I had spoken words at the funeral, told myself I could accept his disappearance, and try to ease the guilt. But nothing could erase the gaping hole in my life with a member of my flock gone.

I nodded, as did Fang beside me.

"Alright, then…"

Fang POV

Thirty minutes later, Max and I were sitting anxiously together on either side of Iggy on the bed. I stared at my best friend's face, so excited for him to open his eyes and to speak to him again. It would be so, so nice.

The guilt would never go away, I knew, from all of this. But with Iggy back with us, I knew I would be able to cope. Because we would fix it all.

"How much longer?" Max asked, trying to keep a whining note from her voice, but I knew how much it ached in her chest to know that we were so close to getting our favorite blind pyro back, and yet had to wait so much longer.

"Ten minutes," Jeb answered, and we returned to staring at him.

I couldn't wait for him to wake up.

We would apologize for everything we'd ever done. We'd make sure he was okay. Then we'd go home, and we'd 'introduce' Meagan to him. I couldn't wait to see his face when he learned that his love was alive and very real, after all.

Then we'd all have dinner. The flock would be ecstatic. Ella and Dr. Martinez would be overjoyed. Maybe Iggy would even make dessert.

Then we would all sit around for a long time, just basking in his company.

And then, after waiting a few days, we would talk to him about his past, so he could get that weight off his chest.

"Done," Jeb said, and then, "You can take the needles out. All of his memories are in place."

Max nervously reached forward and carefully, oh so carefully pulled out each of the needles and set them aside. Jeb picked them up and put them someplace; I wouldn't know, the two of us were focused completely on Iggy's face.

It took another two minutes, and he moved.

And then he struggled to prop himself up on his elbow, and fell back, lifting his long, pale hand to his forehead.

"Ow," he moaned. "Killer headache. Max?"

"I'm here, Iggy," Max said anxiously, reaching out and grabbing his hand.

"Oh. Is the surgery over? Is everyone safe? Are we out of the School?" he asked urgently. Max teared up, and the biggest smile grew on her face.

"Yes, Iggy! Oh, yes yes yes!" and she leaned forward and hugged him tight.

It was all I could do not to hug him myself, but he looked pretty out of it, his eyelids drooping, patting Max hesitantly on the back.

But I knew that now, everything was right again.

Thank you for reading this fic. I thank each and every one of you for reading. To all those who reviewed, my special gratitude. You all deserve pieces of my heart, so here… a fragment each –reaches in chest and pulls out little bits of heart, then throws them at audience like confetti-.

Anyway, it would please me very much if you continued on to read 'Nightmare'. I promise it will be worth your while. It will be the final sequel, and so will wrap up everything to do with Iggy's past, Meagan, Mr. Evil, and Anne. I hope you all read it, because I PROMISE that there will be some GIANT surprises that will make you just want to keep reading to the end. I swear it. I'm so excited to get started.

Even if this will be your first time, please review, so I can know how much you have liked this series. And keep a lookout for 'Nightmare'.