Maximum Ride: The After Years by eclipsed heart

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Family, Romance
Characters:Max, Nudge
Published:2009-02-08 20:59:25
Updated:2010-06-20 20:47:02
Packaged:2021-04-22 00:39:31
Summary:Ten years ago, the world was saved and the flock split up, all contact lost. Now where are they? What happens when they reunite? Forgiveness is needed, romance is a must, and keeping everyone together when grudges threaten unity is priority. Gotta be FAX!

Table of Contents

1. Update!
2. I Went to the Max
3. Sink Your Fangs into This
4. Nudge me, I MUST be Dreaming
5. She's Not Much of an Angel
6. From Icky to Iggy
7. Total Horror Traveling With a Gassy Man
8. So it Begins
9. Please Pass the Catch Up? Er, Ketchup?
10. The MouseOperated People Trap
11. LowFat Land Left
12. The Recipe for FAX
13. Reflections
14. Remind Me Again Why
15. The Great Escape
16. Where the Fault Lies
17. The Phone Call
18. Bridging the Gap
19. You Thought Wrong
20. When a Betrayal is Beneficial
21. Walk a Mile in Your Own Shoes
22. When Everything Falls Into Place
23. BONUS: Recipe for FAX, Fang's Edition

1. Update!

AN: I'm back with another Maximum Ride fanfic! I really like this idea and I hope you guys do too. It might be a bit slow at first, but I've got lots of ideas for this one churning already! Enjoy!

Maximum Ride: The After Years

Summary: Ten years ago, the world was saved and the flock split up, all contact lost. Now where are they? What happens when they reunite? Forgiveness is needed, romance is a must, and keeping everyone together when grudges threaten unity is priority. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter One: Update!

Ten years ago, Maximum Ride saved the world. Of course, she didn't manage it alone; she had the help of her loyal flock and their faithful worldwide supporters. After that, Max and her flock split up, changed their names and lifestyles, and all but dropped off the face of the earth. The public eye knows no mutants, no human-avian hybrids, but the flock is still here, hiding in plain sight...

Madison Martinez: At 24, Martinez is a successful (and attractive) politician who has dedicated her life to keeping the world in its currently stable position. Though her past is vague, she claims to know the horrors of our world when mistreated and neglected. She is presently engaged to fellow politician David Bowerman, with a date set for May. She is well-known and respected and lives in Tempe, Arizona.

Nick Jackson: The dark, handsome, much-sought-after, 24-year-old webmaster has helped create and maintain some of the world's most popular websites. He is a known supporter of many different organizations dedicated to helping the world be a better place. His past is full of gaps, though he claims to have once affiliated with the main group the set the word straight ten years ago. He currently resides in Long Island, New York.

Jeff Griffiths: Though he claims to have been blind for as long as he can remember, this 24-year-old police officer is the best in the business. Rumor is that he can hear a break-in from a mile away and be on the spot in two seconds flat. Got a bomb threat? It's no problem for him; he can deactivate a bomb in less than ten seconds. Though his shadowy past hints at abuse, this resident of Denver, Colorado, no doubt has a bright, promising future.

Monique Crystal Hart: This popular young talk show host first made it big when she started working backstage and accidentally stumbled onto the set while on air. That was when it was decided that she belonged in the spotlight, rather than operating it. Known for her trademark ranting, Miss Hart's slogan has become: "All Monique, all the time." The 21-year-old calls Hollywood, California home.

Zeke and Ariel Brown: Brother and sister, the two share a house in Richmond, Virginia. 18-year-old Zeke is in his freshman year of college while his 16-year-old sister is wrapping up high school.

AN: Hope you liked it! Please review! Kudos and a chapter dedication to anyone who matches up those names with the flock. It's not that hard. :)

10/06/10 EDIT: So, I have decided that this fic needs some major renovation, especially since I've gotten so many complaints about the sudden POV changes and now that FF has gotten rid of my dash separations. So, soon that will all be fixed.(:

2. I Went to the Max

AN: Alright! Dedications time!





maximumride/twilightfreak14 and


All these guys said that Max is Madison, Fang is Nick, Iggy is Jeff, Nudge is Monique, Zeke is the Gasman, and Ariel is Angel, which is correct!

Okay, so the most common thing in the reviews was commenting on Max's engagement. YES, I am aware that Max is engaged to someone who is pretty much the FARTHEST thing from Fang. YES, I am aware that the summary says FAX. And YES, I am aware that I have a plan to follow through on that. I MUST have FAX, so Max and Fang WILL be together...eventually. As for this David guy...well, this chapter is in Max's POV, so just read it!

But wait! I hope you guys remember where everyone lived, cuz that's kinda important! Okay, NOW, you may enjoy :).

Maximum Ride: The After Years

Summary: Ten years ago, the world was saved and the flock split up, all contact lost. Now where are they? What happens when they reunite? Forgiveness is needed, romance is a must, and keeping everyone together when grudges threaten unity is priority. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Two: I Went to the Max

Tempe, Arizona


I loved the night. It made me feel free, free from the flashing cameras and crowds I had forced myself to get used to. Free from the pressure of fixing the world. And, though I would never admit it, free from David, my fiancé. I knew he loved me, and I felt as much of that emotion that I could for him, but I couldn't help but think about Fang. I'd lost track of him about a year after the flock split up. It was something I strongly lamented. I had been the flock's leader, and I didn't know where any of them were.

But nowadays, or nights, it was harder to get away from David, as he was moving his things into my place and often spending the night in anticipation of the wedding. Yes, wedding. I, Maximum Ri- I mean, Madison Martinez, engaged to be married, rather than engaged in combat. Who would've thunk it? I certainly hadn't.

I've heard that, in a romance, it's not good to keep secrets. If that's the case, then I was going about this all wrong. For one, David didn't know who I used to be, who I still was deep down inside. So, naturally, he had absolutely no idea about the wings grafted into my back. I didn't know how to tell him, didn't really want to tell him. And yet, I used them every night to escape the world.

When I was having doubts about the direction my life had taken, it was then that I most wished the flock was still beside me. I missed all of them and always wished that I could see them again, just once.

I needed them.


I silently flew in through the window that I had left open, careful not to wake David. I wasn't tired, so I tip-toed over to the computer to clear out my email. While I waited for the Internet to start up, I wandered over to the kitchen and grabbed a couple of chocolate chip cookies. They were nowhere near as good as my mom's, but they sufficed.

When I opened my email, I was greeted by the usual haul of messages. Most of it was unimportant, so I skimmed through the subjects, checking most of the delete boxes as I went. I almost clicked the delete when I looked closer at one of the subjects. It announced, in all caps: READ THIS, MAX, but I didn't recognize the email, or the sender. Cautiously, I clicked on it. The message read:


You don't know how long it took me to find you, but I saw you on TV and instantly knew who you were. Madison Martinez? Where the hell did you get that name?

Anyway, you're probably freaking out, wondering who this is and what they want, blah, blah, blah. Do you remember me? Your right hand man from about ten years ago? You might not recognize my new name, Nick Jackson, or you might, seeing as you gave me the name in the first place, but you would remember me most as Fang.

If you remember, email me back pronto. If not, then please don't call the police on me or anything.

Fly on,




Fang found me. Of course I remembered him and was going to immediately reply. But again, WOW!

I clicked reply and typed:

Fang (no freaking duh I remember you),

Oh, my gosh! I was just thinking about how terrible it was that I would never see any of you guys again! Thank you for making my day! Or, uh, night.

Where are you? What have you been up to for the past ten years? Jeez, I miss you. We totally need to talk; I miss hearing your voice. Call me, like, right now! My number is: 555-293-4670.

Oh, and Fang, you might know this already, but you've got to help me! I'm engaged to be married!

Hug after hug after hug for the non-emotional guy,

I shut down the computer, my mind still reeling over that ordeal. I was in contact with my past again. I went to the living room, sank down on the couch, and clicked on the TV, not bothering to look at the time. I stared at the screen for a while before I realized what I was watching. It was a talk show I'd heard some about but hadn't seen yet for myself. The hostess looked vaguely familiar with her dark skin, her uncontrollable hair, her constant smile, her mindless ranting…

Oh my gosh.


The hostess was Nudge.

AN: Yeah, so obviously, this story is picking up pretty darn fast. We've already got half the flock. Anyway, next chapter is Fang's POV, so, if wanna get inside his head, please hit the little button below. It's looking sad and lonely. Cheer up the button (and me)!

10/06/10 EDIT: No major changes here, but more on the way.

3. Sink Your Fangs into This

AN: OMtothefrickingG! This story is already getting so many reviews that I can't help but be amazed! I updated at night last time and checked my email in the morning. What was waiting for me? Oh, just 36 new emails from FanFiction, nearly HALF of them review alerts! I looked at it again later and noticed how it looks like it might do as well as (or even better than?) my most reviewed fic, CinderBella. We've broken FORTY! I am just in utter SHOCK and AWE! I LOVE YOU GUYS!

Ahem, anyway, I'm really glad that you guys like this story, 'cause I know I do. I write pretty much what I'm in the mood for, what I wanna read. I wanted a credible, set-later-on, Fax fanfic that wasn't just pointless fluff. I already read a lot of them, so now I'm making my own. And I actually like writing them better than reading them, 'cause I can change them to my preference. Mwhahaha...

Okay, I'll let you guys go now. The chap is mostly conversation and the first piece of FAX! Read and enjoy!

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunited? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Three: Sink Your Fangs into This

Long Island, New York


An immense wave of satisfaction overcame me as I clicked "Send." I had found Max, my old best friend and the girl I had once loved. I hadn't had any contact with her in the past ten years. She was living the good life in Arizona, as a politician named Madison Martinez. She was twenty-four and beautiful. She was Max. And I was anxiously waiting by the computer for a reply from her.

Sylvia had been hanging around when I clicked on the TV and saw Max's face. She hadn't much liked that I was doting over some other girl, but I ignored her annoyance and immediately started researching "Madison Martinez."

Finally, Max replied. She gave me a phone number and said we needed to talk, that she missed my voice. One more thing: she was engaged. To be MARRIED. Wow. I never would've thought that of Max. Heck, I never would've thought that of anyone in the flock, but here was Max, ready to walk down the aisle, and me, spending almost every available second with Sylvia. I really liked her and all, but...she wasn't Max. No one could surpass Max.

I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and dialed the number that Max had provided. It would be wonderful to hear her voice. She picked up half way through the first ring. I could just see her waiting by the phone.


"Max." One word and I was already intoxicated by her voice. It was incredible.

"Fang! You don't know how much I've missed you! I can't believe you got the email already!" Her voice melted around my name like chocolate, and it was just as sweet.

"Yeah, yeah. Max, calm down." I heard her breath even out at my instruction.

"Okay. So, Fang, what have you been up to these past ten years?"

"I'm Nick Jackson. What haven't I been up to?"

She laughed and my heart gave a squeeze. "I guess. But, don't be offended or anything, who is Nick Jackson?"

"Aw, Max, you're bruising my ego. I'm a webmaster. I make websites and take care of them."

"Oh! Well, I don't spend enough time surfing the web then."

I smiled. I still wasn't too emotional…but Max somehow knew how to override that. "What about you? Who would have thought that the incredible Maximum Ride would sink down to politics and then get engaged?"

She laughed again. "I know! I can't even really believe it!"

"So the engagement is going well then?"

She was silent for a moment, hesitating to tell me. "Um…well, I don't know. He doesn't know, actually."

The wings. Max's fiancé didn't know about her wings.

"You haven't told him?"

"It just doesn't feel right to. He doesn't even know about Maximum Ride!"

"It's not good to keep secrets from him like that." Great advice, I know.

"I just don't have a good feeling about telling him."

Neither of us spoke for a moment, only the phone lines between us producing noise.

"So, how's your romantic life, Mr. Jackson?"

I smiled again. "I've never gotten farther than a girlfriend and none of them have known about the wings."

"'It's not good to keep secrets from her like that,'" she echoed, attempting to imitate my voice.

"But I'm not engaged to any of them, Ms. Martinez," I retorted.


Again, there was silence between us for a moment.

"Hey, Max, I know you're the leader and all, but I was thinking that maybe, if we found the rest of the flock, we could have like a reunion or something. We could just have it be like the good old days."

"Without being on the run of course."

I chuckled. "Don't worry, there won't be any Erasers or Flyboys at this party."

She laughed again. "Oh, and Fang, you will never believe who I just saw on TV."

I thought for a moment. "Miley Cyrus?"


"Britney Spears?"


"Um, The Backstreet Boys?"

"Not even close."

I sighed. "Alright, I give. Who did you see?"

"Monique Crystal Hart."

I smiled. "You saw it, too, didn't you?"

"You mean you knew?" Max gasped.

"Yeah, I figured out a couple days ago. Sylvia was watching the show and I was just thinking, 'Doesn't she look awfully familiar…'"

"I know! Wait, who's Sylvia?"

Crap. I hadn't meant to stick her name out there.

"Oh, uh, Sylvia's just…a friend." Dammit, Fang. You're such a great liar.

"She's your girlfriend, isn't she?" Max's voice was different as she said this, colder, more nonchalant.

"Uh, maybe."

"Whatever. Anyway, I just saw Nudge on TV right before you called. I can't believe it!"

"Funny how you two managed to stick out so much. You were easy to find!"

"If that's so, how come it took you ten years?"

"Um…good question. Here, have a sticker."

"Fang, you can't give me a sticker. I'm in Arizona and you are in…"

"New York."

"Ah, New York. Nice pick."

"Thank you."

"So, if you found Nudge a couple days ago, then have you talked to her yet?"

"Actually, I haven't."

"So I'm the first member of the flock that you've had contact with in the past ten years?"


"Why haven't you talked to Nudge? Why'd you contact me first?"

Crap. I knew very well why I had called Max first; she was the one that I'd missed the most. But I wasn't about to tell her that!

"I had more difficulty finding her contact information."

"Ah. I see."

"So, about this reunion thing, you down?" I asked quickly, changing the subject.

"Of course! Why wouldn't I go?"

"Alright. That's two flock members down, four to go."

"Fang, where exactly are you planning to hold a reunion for six human-avian hybrids? And, possibly, a talking dog that may or may not be able to fly?"

"Total! Of course! I forgot about him…"

"Where?" Max repeated.

"I was thinking Orlando," I replied indifferently.

"Orlando? As in, Land-of-the-Mouse Orlando?"

"That'd be it. Orlando, Florida. What, you don't wanna go?"

"Ugh. I'll still go, but you owe me big, Fang, you hear?"

"Yes, Maximum. I hear."

"Good. So how're we gonna get the rest of the flock?"

"Well, Nudge is in Hollywood, right next door to you, actually. So, if you could swing by there and then head back east, that would work. And then with Iggy, Gazzy, and Angel, we'll just have to cross our fingers and get lucky."


"Can you leave Arizona tomorrow?"

"I think I can arrange that. We gonna fly it or go the slow way?"

"I think it'd be better to drive this one. It'll be easier to maybe stumble across one of the others that way."

"True, true. Alright, so I go to Hollywood, grab Nudge and then head off to Florida with her, by car. Works for me. What about you?"

"I just have to go south and cross my fingers. Maybe one of them is in Virginia, or D.C."

"Oh, and, by the way, how do you know that Nudge lives in Hollywood if you haven't gotten a hold of her contact information?"

"Oh, um, uh…" Damn. I just couldn't keep it together around Max, even over the phone when she was a good 1,000+ miles away.

"You just wanted to talk to me first, didn't you?"


"Don't worry. I'm glad you talked to me first." I could hear the smile in her voice as she said this.


"Crap! David's getting up! Look, Fang, I gotta go. See you in Orlando!"

And then, Maximum Ride did the most amazing thing:

She blew me a kiss through the phone.

A kiss.

She had already hung up by the time I recovered from her little stunt.

"Bye, Max. I love you," I whispered to the dial tone. And I blew back the kiss.

AN: Told ya this had the first piece of Fax. Please REVIEW! Oh, and, as requested by Alienated2, the review button's new name is Bob! So make him (and yours truly) happy!

10/06/10 EDIT: This is probably all the editing I'll do tonight. More to come. Lots more to come...

4. Nudge me, I MUST be Dreaming

AN: I cannot BELIEVE you guys! I have never seen so many reviews flood in to my email! THANK YOU!

Plus, you guys are gonna love me for the first part of this chappie. I think. It's in Max's POV, and...well, you'll see.

The rest of the chapter is in Nudge's POV, so you'll get a peek into her world. I'm gonna warn you now, the way Nudge sees things is very, very, VERY important for the later events of the story. This chap also has a slightly higher rating because Nudge doesn't exactly use the cleanest language. But for now, enjoy your glance into the fabulous, glorious, luxurious life of Monique Crystal Hart.

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunited? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Four: Nudge Me, I MUST be Dreaming

Mojave Desert, California


Has anyone ever noticed that 'David' slightly rhymes with 'livid'? That's something that I learned when I told David in the morning that I was taking a couple weeks off for myself, and that he couldn't come.

"Madison, we are getting married in one and a half months and you want to take off, by yourself, to God knows where! I will not allow it!"

Madison. I couldn't remember anymore why I had taken that name.

Anyway, I told David that I was an independent and free spirit and if he couldn't accept that, then he wasn't ready to marry me. That shut him up for a bit, but it didn't stop him from hovering and breathing down my neck as I packed and made a few phone calls. I had just zipped up my duffle and was heading to the door when he started up again.

"Alright, Maddy. I don't like this idea one bit, but I might let you go if you tell me what you're up to. Are you trying to expand your fame? Campaign for something? What?"

"No, David. It has nothing to do with politics. This is just me and…some old friends. I'm just taking a little premarital vacation. Capiche?"


I put my fingers over his lips. "I'm not telling you anymore, David. I have to leave now."

"Then this is it, Madison. No secrets or nothing at all." He wrapped his fingers around the diamond ring on my left hand.

"It'll be your loss, David. Say what you want, but I've gotta bounce." I took a step back. "Just, while we're playing this little 'break-up' game, hand over my keys, grab you stuff, and get gone." He looked at me, puzzled. "It is my house."

"Fine!" he very nearly shouted. Then, he pulled the ring up hard. And, even for a mutant like me, it hurt.

And that was how my engagement ended, quick and easy, short and sweet, simple and unnerving. No blood, no foul, right?

So now, here I was, in the middle of virtually nowhere. And, let me tell you, Nowhere was the most exciting place I had ever seen, with the most gorgeous sights and diverse colors! Anyone pick up on the SARCASM there? Because, if you didn't, you're a downright idiot.

Anyway, I decided that David's sudden mood shift might not have been just him. I had behaved in such a way that I felt like a teenager again. I hadn't acted up that much in ten years. Maybe I was sinking back into my old self again, back into Maximum Ride, the mutant who had saved the world, the human-avian hybrid who had led others like herself and fallen in love with one of them. That part shifted my thoughts to Fang and what would happen when I saw him. I knew I would be ecstatic and immediately rush toward him. But I didn't know how he would behave, if he would be the Fang that had been around most of the fourteen years I'd known him, or the Fang I had encountered when we found each other again after the fiasco in Germany. Most of me hoped for the latter, but the rest of me didn't think that would be a good idea.

Another thing that registered while Nowhere flashed by my window in a dull golden blur was that I hadn't reacted as I should have towards mine and David's break-up. I should have been either sulking by myself or crying on a friend's shoulder while she handed me Kleenex after Kleenex. But instead I was driving off to Hollywood to surprise a now-famous friend and haul her off to a party on the other side of the freaking country.

What the hell was wrong with me?

Hollywood, California



"Come on, Roger. You know who I am!"

"I'm sorry, Miss Hart. It's for security purposes. Voice recognition or something silly like that."

I huffed. I absolutely detested security sometimes. "Fine. Monique Crystal Hart."

Roger smiled at me. "Thank you." And the tall metal gate opened as I coaxed my car forward.

I was well aware that I was famous and everything now, but I didn't want a fancy-shmancy house in Beverly Hills, so I settled for a quaint little house in Hollywood. The studio, though, had interfered and installed all this high-tech security crap that made my life harder, rather than easier.

I parked the car—a nice red one, though I'm not sure what company—and hopped out, locking it as I walked away. My stilettos clicked on the asphalt as I walked toward the front door and how I loved the sound.

I had gotten so used to my life as a star. I loved being famous, not for what I was, but for who I was. The wings in my back reminded me of this every day when I was forced to look at them. They were so ugly and frail and stiff now; I hadn't ridden on the wind's back in years. They contrasted so much with my dark skin, which was only tanner from living in Southern California.

I walked through the halls of my house, running my hands along the walls and humming a song I had heard recently. I headed to my bathroom, eager to take a nice, long, soothing bath. Ah, that would feel good.

I changed into a comfortable outfit, just some jeans and a shirt that was lying around. I wouldn't be going out again until later that evening. I walked toward my bed, yearning to plop down and just relax. But the moment my butt hit the mattress, the phone rang.

"UGH!" I shouted before lunging for the phone. "Yes?" I snapped.

"Miss Hart? You have a visitor." Roger.

"Who is it?"

"Her name's Madison Martinez. She absolutely insists on seeing you."

"Whatever. Send her in."

I put the phone back on the receiver and stood up to go to the front hall. Madison Martinez? Who the hell was that?

I tugged open the door to discover a tall blond woman waiting there with her hands folded in front of her. She spoke instantly, before I even had the chance to.

"Hi, I'm Madison Martinez. I'm a politician from Arizona." She held out her right hand for me to shake. Reluctantly, I took it.

"Um, not to be rude or anything, Ms. Martinez, but if you're here to get on TV, you're gonna have to get in line, and, trust me, it's a loooooong line."

"Oh, no. I'm not here to be on your show, Miss Hart. I'm simply here to ask you a few questions. First one, may I come in?" She gestured to the space behind me.

"Um, I guess." I held the door wider and stepped aside, leaving enough room for Madison Martinez's slight figure. Once she was in, I shut the door. She had already made herself at home on my couch, so I took the chair across from her.

"So, Miss Hart, I've heard quite a bit about you. But one thing I want to clear up is your past: Why doesn't anyone know about it?"

Oh, jeez. Politician to reporter.

"I just don't like talking about it." I was waiting for her to pull out a pen and pad of paper and take notes.

"You see, I've heard that some…ten years ago, you were affiliated with a group, a very…unique group. Is that true?"

Sh**. I knew exactly what she was talking about and wasn't about to spill. But, unfortunately, I was silent a bit too long.

She smirked. "I thought so, Nudge."

Sh**, sh**, sh**! Politician my ass! Madison Martinez was probably just another whitecoat out to get me. I stood up and harshly jabbed my finger at the door. "Get. Out. Now."

She stood up, too, her hands immediately up, palms toward me. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, Nudge. Don't flip out. Don't tell me you don't remember!"

Somehow, the pleading expression that she wore now didn't fit her, her aura, her personality, her features. I had only ever known one other person like that. And I hadn't seen her in ten years.

"Nudge, please! It's me! It's Max!"


Sh**. My past had just found me.

"Jeez, Nudge! Don't you remember! The School! The whitecoats! The Erasers and Flyboys! The flock! How could you have forgotten me, and Fang, and Iggy, and Gazzy, and Angel! How could you have forgotten your family!"

I couldn't stop myself. I felt the tears rising and the pressure of keeping my ultimate secret for the past ten years came down on me. And I slapped her hard across the face.

Max looked at me, shocked, her hand instinctively rubbing her cheek, my hands covering my face as the tears trickled down it. Crap. I had just slapped my superior. This time, the pressure put itself to better use and I wound my arms around Max, hugging her to me tightly.

"I'm sorry, Max."

"It's okay, Nudge. It's okay."

Minutes passed with me gripping Max and her patting my back in an effort to soothe my sobs. I tried to flutter my wings to show her I was still me. Mostly.

"What happened to you, Nudge?"

I shook my head rapidly. "I don't know, Max. I don't know."

"Listen, sweetie," Max said, sitting us down on the couch and passing me a handy box of tissues. "I know you've lived for ten years without a word from any of us, but that's all going to change. Fang found me and we both found you. We're planning a reunion in Florida, if we manage to track down the others."

I nodded.

"Don't you want to come with me?"

"Yes," I squeaked.

"Alright, hun. Let's go pack up your stuff."

"I have to call the studio."

"Okay. You do that." She patted my back again before I stood and went to the phone.

What the hell had I just gotten myself into? I had tried so hard to suppress my past, but it had found me anyway. I didn't want what my past had to offer, under any circumstance.

AN: So, we've got half the flock so far! REVIEW if you want the others to join the party!
(I know I don't really need to remind you to do so, because you guys are already so GOOD about REVIEWING!)

10/08/10 EDIT: Sorry for the brief delay. More on the way.

5. She's Not Much of an Angel

AN: THREE CHEERS FOR GREAT REVIEWERS! WHOO-HOO! Okay guys, I KNOW that we're gonna break a hundred with this chap! I just KNOW it! Anyways, lately people have been commenting on the chapter titles. Yeah, I'm quite aware that they're names and everyone's name will be part of a chapter title at some point (well, everyone in the flock). THANK YOU for all the reviews. I would totally put a "THANK YOU" for each review, but I don't wanna type that 90+ times.

Ahem. Without further ado, I present to you...Chapter 5! Enjoy. :)

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunited? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Five: She's Not Much of an Angel

Richmond, Virginia


About four days had passed since I first talked to Max. One phone call and I had fallen in love all over again.

She had called two days ago to report that she'd found Nudge and the two were starting the drive. Already, Nudge had fallen into her old self of ranting on about unimportant things. I had left Long Island right after she called, leaving behind a dull apartment and a tempestuous Sylvia. She hadn't been too happy that I was leaving without any explanation besides, "I don't think this is working, Sylvia."

Now, I was in Virginia and in dire need of gas. I decided that, while I was there, I might as well grab a few snacks and a paper.

As I paid the teenage cashier, the front page caught my eye. The headline boasted: GIRL THOUGHT TO HAVE DROWNED, MIRACULOUSLY ALIVE. Newspaper say what?

I began to read the article, my eyes widening at its words. What enthralled me most was this:

16-year-old Ariel Brown was accidentally pushed off a cliff overlooking a reservoir while she was with her friends. In a flurry of panic, her friends rushed to the bottom, frantically searching for her. After nearly twenty minutes of searching without luck, they called the paramedics, as well as Ariel's 18-year-old brother, Zeke. When her brother arrived, Ariel broke the surface, still breathing, and swam to the shore where the crowd was getting ready to go in and search for her body. Paramedics still have not deciphered the cause of her miraculous survival.

The picture showed a girl, Ariel, I assumed, with a towel wrapped around her. Her blond curls were drenched to the point of being limp, but she still wore a shy smile. There was an arm wrapped around her shoulders. The arm's owner wore a serious and displeased face. His blond curls framed his face and everything about him screamed that this was Zeke, Ariel's brother. But then something about Ariel's neck caught my eye. There were red lines on it, fading ones, like something had just been there.

And suddenly, I knew who Zeke and Ariel Brown really were.

A House, Richmond, Virginia

The Gasman

"Gazzy, can you just chilax? Jeez!"

"No, Angel. You screwed up again! What were you thinking? You were under for half an hour! No one is supposed to be able to breathe underwater!"

I was really mad. I had been taking care of Angel for the past ten years, and things always went downhill whenever she pulled a superhuman stunt. Like now. The fiasco this time? She fell off a cliff and into a reservoir, staying underwater for half an hour while everyone labeled her dead, because that's what she should've been: dead.

And, of course, it gave the reporters of Richmond a field day. But to her, it was no big deal.

Damn, since when had teenagers been so hard to deal with?

"Angel, you better not pull a stunt like that again, you hear?"

And then the doorbell rang.

"And that's probably another reporter, come to interrogate us. Again."

"You're wrong, Zeke…"

I let out an exasperated sigh. Living with a mind reader for a little sister could be so freaking annoying!

Still, I walked to the front and pulled open the door, speaking before I saw who waited behind there. "Look, I'm not going to answer any questions about my sister, I'm not interested in buying anything, and—"

I froze when I saw who was there. It wasn't a reporter and he didn't look like he was trying to sell candy or anything. He just looked like a normal guy.

But, he was holding a newspaper.

"May I help you?" I asked sharply.

The man half smiled. "I do believe you can." He held up the newspaper. "This is you, isn't it?"

He was pointing to my grim picture, right beside Angel's smiling one. Reluctantly, I nodded.

Then he pointed to Angel's. "This is your sister then, right?"

"Look, what do you want?" I heard Angel's footsteps coming toward the door. Great. She got there and tried to wedge the door open enough so that she could see the visitor. I turned around and hissed at her, "Ariel, go to the back. He's looking for you."

She continued to struggle against the door. "Gazzy, you have to let him in!" she hissed back.

"Why should I?" I turned back to the man, just as Angel got the door open.

"Because it's Fang," she announced as she looked at him, smiling.


And, before I could stop her, Angel had pushed past me and thrown her arms around the stranger.

"Fang! I can't believe you found us! Gazzy's been trying so hard to hide us!"

And then I looked at him more closely. I took in his dark hair, his dark eyes, his olive skin, the general darkness and secrecy about him. And then I saw the necessary proof: the almost invisible lump on his back.

His wings.

"Wow." It was the first thing that came out of my mouth. "It really is Fang."

"No freaking duh! Now, are you gonna let me in, or what?" It seemed like Fang had changed some, being away from us for so long. He gave Angel a significant look.

"Okay, I'll go now!" And then she ran back the way she had come.

I gestured Fang inside, closing the door behind him. "Where'd you send her?"

"To go pack."

I raised my eyebrow questioningly. "Why?"

"'Cause you guys are coming with me."

Then I noticed something else. "Where're the others?"

"Max and Nudge are heading to Florida as we speak, from Hollywood. I'm not sure where Iggy is yet."

"Why are they going to Florida?"

"Flock reunion. And that's where I'm taking you guys."

Oh. No wonder Angel was packing.

"You guys know where Total and Akila are by any chance?" I didn't think Fang would ask about the yappers.

"Um, Total's somewhere around here, but Akila…" I looked at him sadly.

"Oh. When did that happen?"

"A couple years ago. Since then, Total's only sulked around."

"Who's sulking?" It was Total's voice. He came trotting around the corner, his wings invisible under the sweater we got him to wear. His hair had started to gray in some parts, contrasting sharply against the rest of his fur that had still retained its blackness.

"You remember Fang, don't you Total?"

"Of course. He carried me across more than half the country, didn't he?" Total looked at Fang appraisingly. "You grew, wise guy." Fang smirked at his remark.

"Are you gonna invite me to your little get-together? Or are you leaving the 'sulker' behind?"

"No. Of course you're coming, Total. You're part of the flock."

"Akila was part of the flock, too," Total grumbled.

"Tell you what, once we've got everyone together, we'll have a memorial for her, 'kay?"

"Humph." And with that, Total trotted back to Angel's room.

"Hey, Gazzy, shouldn't you go pack?"

"Oh, yeah. You'll be fine here, right?" Fang nodded, so I dashed off to pack my stuff, barely containing my excitement.

I was gonna see the flock again!

AN: So, obviously, Gazzy and Angel are taking to seeing the flock again much better than Nudge was. Which leaves only one more person! If you can't WAIT for Iggy to be found (cough, Blawwkw, cough) then REVIEW AS FAST AS YOU CAN! Love ya guys!

Oh, wait. You guys know what the little red lines on Angel's neck were, right? They were her gills, the ones she uses to breathe underwater. So, yeah. REVIEW!

BONUS! Copy and paste this (without the spaces) into the Browser thingy and READ THE FIRST FEW CHAPTERs OF MAX: MR5! http: / www. maximum-x. com/ page/ exerupts -max
I just read it this morning and Nudge make me think: Wow. I was right about her and fame...Anyways, you know, check it out :).


6. From Icky to Iggy

AN: On to the next chapter! This one's for IGGY, who I am absolutely in love with (Fang's cool, too, but he totally belongs with Max, and I do not wanna mess with her...). But, before you read about him, I just wanna make a quick remark: More than one person said that Angel doesn't have gills. Well, if I recall correctly (which I might not), when the flock first found out that Angel could breathe underwater, Max had Iggy feel her neck, to see if there was anything there. I think that he did, in fact, feel something there, but they couldn't see anything. So, over the years, the gills just became more prominent. Also, she was using them for a half hour! You'd think something would show...

OH! Who took the link and actually went to read the excerpts of MAX? I CAN'T WAIT FOR IT TO COME OUT!

Ahem. Okay, enjoy the chapter. WITH IGGY!

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunited? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Six: It Was an Icky Situation, But Then it Turned Into Iggy

Denver, Colorado


"…and, oh my gosh, did you see her dress? It was absolutely gorgeous, but who in their right mind would buy something like that? I heard it was some two million dollars! Isn't that just downright mad?"

Nudge was slowly but surely becoming herself again, but something about her ranting seemed…strained, like she didn't want to talk, but didn't want to be questioned either. And I didn't burst her bubble.

We were nearing Denver now, a few states away from our starting point. We had been driving for four days, switching off and stopping at motels every night. Right now, I was driving and I had a bunch of pent up energy from sitting in a cramped car for several hours a day, so I was driving a bit too fast. Like, 50mph too fast.

That's probably what caught the officer's attention.

But, whatever it was, Nudge and I soon had a police cruiser on our tail.

"Sh**! Max, go faster!"

"Um, Nudge, I don't think that would be a very good idea." And with that, I pulled over.

"Oh, come on, Max. We could've been on TV, you know? Give people something to watch! Just imagine! Car chase between two Colorado officers and a politician and a talk show host! It's brilliant!"

"I don't know about you, Nudge, but I actually want to make to Florida. Besides, I think we're on TV often enough," I said as one of the officers—the passenger—got out of the car and walked over.

"Afternoon, ladies," he said, his cloudy blues eyes peering into the car. "Why are you in such a hurry?" He ran his hand through his strawberry-blonde hair, as if he had gone through this a million times.

"I don't know, just felt like rushing, you know?" was my unconvincing defense.

The officer sighed. "I'm gonna need your license and registration, ma'am." I looked over at Nudge, smiling sadly before reaching for my purse.

Then, Nudge did something strange: she waved her hand in front of the officer's eyes, just before he went back to get our ticket. I looked at her pointedly.

"He's blind," she stated.


"Max, didn't you see his hair, hear his voice, look at his eyes? He looks and sounds exactly like Iggy!" she hissed.

I looked at the officer, who was now heading back towards us now. "What about the wings?" I whispered.

She pointed to his back where we both could see a slight lump. Oh my gosh!

"Name?" Iggy asked.

I smiled at Nudge, preparing to make one of my still-infamous, extemporaneous decisions. "Maximum Ride. But you should know that, right Iggy?"

He froze, his pen touching the pad of paper. "Excuse me?"

"Oh, don't play dumb, Ig." That was Nudge. She extended her hand forward for Iggy to take. He obliged.

"Nudge," he whispered. I now held my hand out to him and he also took it. "Max…"

"How've you been, Iggy?"


"You can say that again."

"Wha-what are you guys doing? Here?"

I replied, "Well, you could say that we were looking for you, but that would only be half true. We're on our way to Florida to meet up with Fang for a flock reunion."

"Fang? The flock?"

"Yup. You coming?" Nudge smiled.

"Oh, uh…I don't know. Wow, this is just…unexpected."

Suddenly, the other officer honked the horn. "Yo, Griffiths!" he called out. Iggy waved at him to let him know things were okay.

"Okay, guys, here's the deal: I'll let you off of the ticket and come with you, but I just gotta get back to the station first and let them know I'm going out of town for…a while, I guess. You guys wanna follow?"

Nudge quickly nodded and I agreed with her. Then, I remembered that Iggy couldn't see us nod. Oops.

"Yeah, we'll follow."

"Okay." Iggy closed his pen and pad and began to walk back to the police cruiser.

Nudge and I turned to each other with a look that said, "Wow!"



"What happened, Griffiths?" Jones asked when I got back into the car.

"Oh, they just turned out to be some old friends with a very good reason for rushing," I explained. "Can we go back to the station? I'm gonna need to take a few…weeks off."

Jones didn't ask any questions. "Alright, Griffiths." And he started driving.

I was absolutely amazed, blown away, awed, at what had just happened. I was back in contact with Max and Nudge. I knew it was them; a fingerprint never lies, and I never forget a fingerprint. As for the rest of the flock, I would see them all soon. Figuratively, not literally.

A few minutes later, Jones pulled at up the station and I could hear the wheels of Max's car behind us. I got out of the car and headed into the station. Inside, I went to the front desk and asked the secretary to see the Chief. She called him up immediately.

"Hey, Griffiths. What's going on?" the Chief asked as he came over.

"Hey, Chief. Um, well something's come up and…I need to take a few weeks off." I scratched my head awkwardly.

"What's come up? You've never taken a holiday before, so why now?"

"Oh, uh, well, I just bumped into a couple of…high school friends and they spread the word to me about a reunion going on in Orlando, and I thought that I should go."

I could feel the Chief scrutinizing me. "They're outside if you wanna talk to them."

"No, no, Griffiths! It's perfectly fine!" He clapped his hand onto my shoulder. "You're our best man out there and you've never taken as much as a sick day in the past three years. You're free to go, as long as you're willing to come back, sooner or later."

"You got it, Chief! Thanks!"

"Later, Griffiths!"

I shook his hand and turned to go back outside, where I hoped Max and Nudge were still waiting. They were, so I climbed into the crowded back seat (I thought girls were supposed to be organized!).

"Okay, Iggs, how do we get to your place?"

"You turn right out of the parking, go straight, take the third right, and mine is in the second building on the left."

I felt the car move as Max began to follow my directions. I usually walked back from the station, or caught a ride. I didn't have my own car.

It wasn't long before I felt the car stop and I knew we were at my apartment building. "I won't be too long," I told them before getting out of the car and going into the building. It was relatively easy to get around the apartment complex; there were no booby traps or anything lying around. I had adapted to it quickly.

My apartment was small. Like, really small. I didn't mind, though. It's not like I had much lying around: just the normal kitchen necessities, a tiny couch, and my bed. Nothing else was really needed. I didn't have a TV because that would just be useless. No books because I couldn't see the words printed on their pages. I did have a radio, though, for when I felt like entertaining myself.

Swiftly, I grabbed most of the contents of my dresser, scooping the clothes out of the drawer and into a suitcase I'd gotten some time ago, in case of emergency. I zipped it up and walked right back out.

Orlando, Florida. I remembered when we'd gone there before. It had been fun until Ari came along and stopped the party in its tracks.

But that couldn't happen this time.

REVIEWS are like CANDY. Candy is very good, therefore REVIEWS are very good too. :)

7. Total Horror Traveling With a Gassy Man

AN: OKOKOK, so who's read MAX? I DID! Great book, awesome read, absolutely LOVED IT! So, yah, if you did read it, just pretend that the...stuff in that one never happened, otherwise this fanfic ain't gonna work out (mainly 'cause JP caught on and ******************)(the *s represent what I didn't say 'cause I don't want to spoil it). BUT! if you did read it, wasn't I at least KINDA right about Nudge? Anyways, READ MR5! But once you do, pretend it didn't happen so that this fic can just keep cruisin' along...


Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunited? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX! (Are you guys getting tired of seeing this every chapter? If you are, then I can stop posting it.)

Chapter Seven: It's a Total Horror Traveling with a Gassy Man

Somewhere on the East Coast



"Are we there yet?" Total grumbled for the…27th time.

This time, however, Fang didn't bother answering.

And there went Gazzy again. I knew it was Gazzy, even though he proceeded to mimic Fang's voice, saying, "'Scuse me."

"Ew, Gazzy! Gross!" I whined, covering my nose. Total squeaked and followed suit while Fang grimaced and opened his window.

"That's it. We need to stop for a bit." He pulled off the highway at the next exit and drove into the first gas station available. "Okay, everyone out. Buy a snack, or use the bathroom, or whatever. I need to go call Max and tell her you guys are with me." He then gave Gazzy a pleading look. "Please spare my car and use the bathroom." Then, he got out, grabbed his cell phone, and walked over to a bench.

"Ugh. I need a fire hydrant," came Total's voice. He stood and pawed at the door, asking me if I would open it for him. I sighed and obliged, following him out, but going inside the mini mart.

I peeked into Fang's mind as I browsed the different candies and snacks the store offered. I was hungry.


That one word was what came up most in Fang's thoughts. Oh, jeez. I rolled my eyes. I had known that they were in love since we were still a flock, but get real! He hadn't seen her in ten years! I hoped, though, that when they did see each other, if Max was still in love with him (I know, I know. She was in denial, but really, she just wasn't mature enough to know how to handle her feelings for Fang), they would know how to handle it this time. Ten years was enough time for two people to mature, right?


Now Max's voice was ringing through Fang's mind. He drank it in like a man stuck in the desert drinks water; it was as if each word from Max's mouth, no matter how far away she was, was a piece of life to him. Gosh, I hoped she still loved him, or we might have a lot of trouble.

Now, Fang's voice rang through his thoughts.

What? Nudge AND Iggy?

I could only guess that meant Max had come across both of them and the three of them were all heading this way.

Angel, I know you're listening.


Whatever. Come talk to Max, Nudge, and Iggy. Get the Gasman too.

Yippee! I ran out of the mini mart to the bench where Fang sat with the cell phone, which he was holding out for me. He smiled at my glee and went off to find Gazzy.


"Oh, Angel! Oh my goodness! I can't believe he found you and Gazzy and even Total!" I could hear the smile in Max's voice as she continued. "I can't believe it! Now you're all grown up and everything! My baby is sixteen!"

I laughed. "Oh, come on, Max. I'm not that old. Not like you, Ig, and Fang. You guys are ancient."

"Oh, whatever. I'm still young." I heard some noise in the background. "You wanna talk to Nudge?"

I squealed. Nudge, my old best friend. "Of course!"


"NUDGE!" I screamed into the phone. I felt a few passer-by-ers stare at me.

"Okay, wow, Angel. That was loud."

"Sorry," I whispered meekly.

"I can't believe we're gonna see each other after all these years!"

"I know!" I would've said more, but Nudge just kept on going, still the chatterbox.

"…and then Max showed up and totally took me by surprise, saying she was some politician, and then she started asking me questions, like some sort of reporter, and then she's all like 'Nudge' and I was just flipping out! So I went with her, and we were, like, speeding, and then these cops pulled us over, and the cop wanted all the normal stuff, but I could tell he was blind, and he looked a lot like Iggy, and so when he went back to the cop car, I told Max, so when he asked for her name, she was all, 'Maximum Ride. But you should know that, right Iggy?' And he just looked like 'What the f—'"

"Nudge! Language!" I heard Max warn sharply in the background.

"Oh, come on! I'm twenty-one and she's sixteen! Do we still need that stupid rule?"

"Fine, just tone it down a bit, at least."

"Works for me." Her voice came clearer now. "So, Iggs was all, 'What the hell?' So we explained and he took a few weeks off work and packed his stuff and hopped in the car with us."

"Wow," was my lame reply. Then, "Max is a politician?"

"Yup. She is the great, powerful, famous Madison Martinez."

Madison Martinez? The name sounded familiar. I remembered seeing her on TV once, and someone from the press asked if it was true that she was engaged, and she said yes. Crap! If that really was Max, then she was engaged and Fang…sh**. Fang! How could Max do that to him?

"What about you Nudge?"

"Me? I am Monique Crystal Hart." I heard the smile and pride as she said that. And that was name I could immediately place. I couldn't believe that I had seen both Max and Nudge in the past ten years without realizing it!

"No way! I just love your show!"

"You watch it?" She turned away from the phone and her voice was more muffled. "I told you people know who I am, Max!"

"Uh, no, people do not know who you are; they know who Monique Crystal Hart is."

"Same difference." Nudge's voice became clear again. "That is so cool!"

I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard Gazzy clear his throat. "Oh, um, Gazzy wants to talk to Iggy, I guess. See ya in Florida!"

"Later, Angel!"

I passed the phone to Gazzy, who immediately started discussing bomb-ish things with Iggy.

Nudge was ranting and all, but she didn't seem like herself. On her show, she looked so happy, like it was her home, not her job. She was completely free on the set, talking with all the people that came, but just then, her voice seemed strained, like she didn't want to be in her current circumstance. She was different, I could tell.

Apparently, this would be one interesting flock reunion.

AN: Hahahahahahahaha... Sorry, I just love the chapter title. And that Angel's already caught on to some potential drama.

OMtothefrickinG! Who's gonna get Twilight on DVD? I AM! -squeals like retarded little fangirl- Finally, I can look at JASPER anytime I darn well please...YIPEE!

OOH! I've also been reading JP's When the Wind Blows, which is where Max makes her first appearance. It's pretty good so far...(hint, hint).

Oh, and a little detail I've noticed is that, while this fic is doing better than CinderBella in the review depot, it ain't doing so hot in the hits depot. Which brought me to the conclusion the you Maximum Ride guys are just more diligent in pushing that little review button. Which, in case you haven't figured out, means that I expect you to click on that lil lonely button down there...(please?).

8. So it Begins

AN: Another UPDATE! Finally, they will all meet and kill each other! *demented author laugh* mwhahahahahaha...

So, enjoy the chapter people, and remember that MAX NEVER HAPPENED!

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Eight: So it Begins...

Orlando, Florida


Ah! At last, Iggy, Nudge, and I pulled up to our hotel, the fabulous, luxurious Grand Bohemian Hotel! The drive had taken us forever, which could only be expected, you know, driving cross country. Our butts were numb, Nudge and I had sore eyes (Iggs couldn't drive), and we (or at least, I) wanted to get up and spread some wings. I swear, my butt probably looked like a pancake.

Fang had called a couple days ago to tell us that he, Angel, the Gasman, and Total had arrived at the hotel safe and sound. He got a room for himself and one for the others to share. He told me that he was completely exhausted from the trip, with Total's grumbling, Angel's telepathy, and Gazzy's farting. Poor guy.

And now here we were, arriving in sunny, mousy Orlando. Jeez, the heat was getting to me already. I parked the car in front of the hotel (yes, it was one of those fancy-shmancy ones with valet parking) and the bellhop came to help us unload the trunk. We were ushered inside, where I took my sunglasses off and absorbed the bustling lobby.

The front desk receptionist was fairly friendly. We were all getting separate rooms, already having spent enough time smushed up together in the car.

Angel. I thought, hoping she could hear me.


Hey, baby. Tell the others we're here, in the lobby.

Got it!

Gotta love that kid, even if she wasn't really a kid anymore.

Within two minutes, we heard some commotion by the elevators. It was there that we witnessed three people, and one tiny dog, burst through the scarcely open elevator doors.

The first to hold my gaze was the tallest, obviously the oldest. His dark hair reached to almost his chin, his mesmerizing eyes automatically scanned the lobby. His chest was well-structured and his features were attractive, though there were scars here and there. I knew who he was, without even needing to check for a lump on his back to mark his wings.

And I ran straight at him.

Fang didn't fall over or anything, even though I was going like there was an Eraser behind me. I was pretty sure I knocked the wind out of him, though, when I threw my arms around his neck and buried my face in his chest, taking him in all at once, rather than little by little. He wrapped his arms around me, too, stroking my hair and rubbing my back between my wings.

"Fang," I whispered.

The Lobby


It was amazing, holding Max, seeing Max, breathing Max. My love for her grew at that instant, even though I had thought that impossible. I touched her, stroked her blond hair, rubbed her back where I knew she had liked once upon a time. I wanted to make sure she was real, not a dream, like the many Maxes I had seen over the past ten years. In my dreams.

"Fang." She whispered my name and I almost melted on the spot. No dream could do that.

I wanted to say something, but my tongue was caught in the words. Just something. Anything.

"Took you guys long enough to get here." Yes, that was the best I could come up with, even at a crucial moment like this.

She laughed (enter dream birdies, flying around my head) and pulled back a bit to look me in the eye. "It's so good to see you after all this time!"

"It's good to see you, too, Max." I put a lock of her hair behind her ear. How dare it try to block her beauty! Even if no one had a right to look as gorgeous as her.

Then, all too soon, she turned her attention to Angel and the Gasman, who were engaged in eager conversation with Nudge and Iggy. Both of them had grown taller, Iggy's hair had faded to a more red color, while Nudge's retained its normal dark brown, but it styled in a way that would have been impossible ten years ago. She was kinda pretty, but she put nothing on Max. Iggy was leaner with subtle muscles; his eyes were the same, faded, not-exactly-there blue shade that they had been when I had last seen him.

Max took her time hugging Angel, no longer needing to lean down in order to do so. She gushed some over how old and grown-up Angel was, just like a mother. Then she hugged the Gasman, looking up (yes, up) to ask him how he was. She squatted down and allowed Total to jump on her and lick her face, scratching his ears and pinching his cheeks.

I walked over to Iggy and cleared my throat to alert him of my presence.

"Fang?" he asked.

"You betcha."

And, yes, I hugged Iggy.

Then I turned to Nudge, who didn't look too happy about the lack of attention. "Nudge! Little Miss Motor-mouth! Come here and give me a hug!" She obliged.

I could already tell that this would be a great reunion!

AN: Well, yah, our dear Fang is oblivious to any potential drama. Next chappie is the first official day of the reunion.

REVIEWS are like KLEENEX when you've got a terrible cold. Anyone wanna donate a tissue? Or, maybe a REVIEW?

10/08/10 EDIT: So, this is it for tonight, folks. I'll be back soon!

9. Please Pass the Catch Up? Er, Ketchup?

AN: OMIGOSH! OMtothefrickinG! Okay, so I've been SQUEALING for the past couple minutes 'cause (I'm writing this Thursday night, by the way) THIS FIC IS OFFICIALLY AT 200 REVIEWS! !

AN2: Okay, so this AN is being written in my second period Algebra 2 class on Friday. Blech. Anyway, I just wanted to mention that I have FINALLY posted a SHORT STORY on FICTION PRESS. More info on my profile, as well as a link, for anyone who's interested. Thanks! :)

So, read this chapter and hopefully you'll be as generous in your reviews with this one. Please and thanks!

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Nine: Please Pass the Catch Up? I Mean, Ketchup?

Continental Breakfast, Grand Bohemian Hotel


Food. That was as creative as Fang got.

It was the day after I had arrived with Iggy and Nudge; we had gone straight to our rooms after the hug fest, unpacked some of our stuff, and slept. God knows we needed the rest. And the beds were so dang comfy!

So now we were downstairs, sharing a table and ravenously eating breakfast. Thank goodness it was free or we would've gone broke from all the food we ordered. You see, even though we were all a lot older, we still had the same enormous appetites. Except for the guys; their appetites seemed to have actually increased, even though they were still skinny. (If I was normal, I would probably be jealous of this. But, then again, I'm pretty much the farthest from normal.)

After two hours of pigging out and filling ourselves to absolutely BURSTING, we decided to let the hotel workers set up the lunch bar. Okay, so that's a lie. We kinda got ourselves kicked out because everyone started complaining about how there was no food left (we sampled EVERYTHING!).

But, before that happened, we talked. That is, when we weren't chewing. Or swallowing. Or, in the Gasman's case, inhaling. We all talked about what we'd been up to in the past decade, how much we'd missed each other (Nudge was strangely quiet during this segment of the conversation), how we'd reacted when, A) Fang sent an email, B) Fang showed at the door, C) I showed at the door, and D) Nudge and I almost got a ticket.

Total added bits and pieces into the conversation when no one else was within earshot. It turned out that he could fly even better now (he'd gotten a few clumsy feet into the air when we'd split up) and that he sorely missed Akila (she had died of old age, but at least she had been happy). I still wondered what Total was crossed with, but whenever I broached the subject, he would just whistle and lick his paw, or engage in some other activity and pretend he hadn't heard me.

Total had been quite upset when it turned out the hotel didn't take too well to dogs as visitors Fang, Angel, and Gazzy had told the staff that he was a guide dog, and when they started questioning that, Angel just "influenced" them a bit. (I was so glad that she still had that handy little ability). That charade was more convincing with Iggy here now.

"Hey, Nudge? Do you think we could get on your show? You know, kinda like 'bird-kids reunite' or something like that?" Angel asked suddenly.

Nudge froze, the triangular slice of French toast still in her mouth, mid-bite. She lowered it slowly. "Oh, um, I don't think so…"

"Why not? That'd be so cool."

"Well, first of all, there's, like, a ton of people in line to get on the air with me, and…"

I decided to cut her a little slack. "Angel, remember that we don't want to be found? I know that would probably send the show skyrocketing, but then who knows what would happen to us? Someone might try to kill us or blackmail us. We can't put our identities on the line."

Angel sulked, disappointed. "Oh. Alright…"

For a moment, everyone chewed silently. Then, to avoid any tension, I spoke up. "So, Angel, how's high school treatin' ya?"

Angel's face scrunched up. "Okay, I guess. But it's the sixth one I've attended, on account of Gazzy's paranoia that Flyboys are gonna drop out of the sky at any moment and kidnap us."

The Gasman rolled his eyes and declared, in his defense, "I only move us anytime after Angel's pulled some sort of stunt that could let the cat, or bird, out of the bag."

"What do you mean?" Fang asked.

Gazzy turned to him. "Every so often, she does something supernatural. First, it was some big test that she aced. She didn't get a single question wrong because she plucked the answers out of the teacher's head."

Angel smiled deviously. "I still do that, but I make sure to get a few wrong."

Nudge's fork fell to the floor at this point, and then I saw her look around quickly, before summoning a fork from the table next to us. She continued eating without a word.

Gazzy continued. "The next, she was off with some friends, and this truck was about to hit them, but she 'convinced' the truck driver to hit the brake a couple seconds before he would've. He told anyone that would listen that aliens made him do it."

"Okay, now that's just an exaggeration." Angel was glaring at her brother.

"Then, she decided to practice morphing in the backyard. One moment, she was a girl. The next, there was an enormous bird of paradise where she had been. And the neighbor saw it all."

Angel rolled her eyes.

"And, of course, there's Total's infamous mourning flight."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. This one was not me. It was all Total."

"Yeah, but you gave him the idea," Gazzy retorted. Then, turning back to us, "She had been reading him and Akila the Harry Potter books, and in one of them, Dumbledore's phoenix is flying around and mourning, after he dies. So when Akila died, Total decided to fly around the neighborhood and howl, all night long."

Upon hearing this, Total growled, but I thought it was kind of funny. Apparently, so did Iggy, seeing as he snickered, only to earn a nip from the Scottie.

"And then, she got some fish to play hide-and-seek while she was on a field trip at an aquarium." Now, I laughed out loud, along with everyone else, even Angel.

"Hey, I was really bored, and so were the fish!"

Gazzy sighed. "And we're gonna have to move again, 'cause her latest scandal is breathing underwater."

Fang swallowed whatever he was holding in his mouth. "Yeah, that's how I found you guys. She was underwater for twenty minutes, and everyone though she was dead. The paramedics came and everything, then she popped up, just fine and dandy."

I smirked, and so did Angel. "I can only imagine what she'll do next."

Angel grinned like a little devil, not an angel.

After that, we found ourselves wrapped up in silence again; the only thing to disturb was the clanging of forks and the crunch of food being devoured.

This was around the time we got kicked out, so we all headed up to our rooms, arranging to meet down at the pool. There wasn't much we could do at the pool (swimsuits these days cover NOTHING!), so we were just gonna lie around and continue talking, until we all got hungry again and sought out lunch.

On my way down there, I bumped into Fang, who was sporting a T-shirt, trunks, flip-flops, and a towel.

"Hey," I said. Like I said, we'd bumped into each other, and he had grabbed my elbows by instinct, so I was still against his chest. Jeez, he smelled so good, and don't even get me started on how he looked.

"Hey, Max. Where're you going? Elevator's this way." He pointed behind me, in the direction he was going. One of his hands still held my elbow.

"Oh, I was actually going for the stairs…" I pointed in the direction I was going, where I could already see the door that was labeled "Stairs."

"Ah." Fang—finally!—released my elbow. "I didn't know you were on this floor."

I raised a challenging eyebrow at him. "What, are you trying to say this floor ain't big enough for two mutants?"

He chuckled, an amazing feat for him. "No, but if that's true, then just know I was here first, Ms. Martinez."

I rolled my eyes. "Ladies first, Mr. Jackson." I side-stepped him, so that I could continue toward the stairs. "You coming?" I pointed to the stairs again.

Fang smiled again. "I guess."

The two of us ventured to the door and pushed it open. Fang was a gentleman and held it open, gesturing for me to go before him.

"Why, thank you, sir," I teased as I stepped forward to the stairwell. Then, I bolted down the stairs, shouting over my shoulder, "Race ya!" I heard the door shut and Fang's footsteps as he chased me down. I would win, I was sure. But my hopes were shot down when I felt him grab my waist and literally sweep me off my feet.

"FANG!" I screamed. "PUT ME DOWN!" He just chuckled and continued down, still holding me up.

At last, the final flight was in view. Thank GOD! But…Fang still didn't put me down. By now, I could see the pool and the rest of the flock, but Fang continued running, until he reached the pool's edge and threw me in. I was still clutching my towel, so my hopes for drying off weren't that great. When I surfaced, I yelled out at the top of my lungs,


AN: So yah, hope you enjoyed and all. Oh, and I got a review last chap from...I dunno, I can't remember off the top of my head, but they suggested I send the flock to a theme park and have them pair off (cough, FAX, cough). I WILL be doing BOTH these things, but in different chapters. But they aren't gonna be the main FAX chapters. Sorry folks! But thank you, anonymous reviewer (not really anonymous, but I can't remember who!).

REVIEW! Why? Because REVIEWS are like ANESTHESIA when you're having MAJOR SURGERY. Review?

10/10/10 EDIT: So, about the story on FictionPress, it's still there, but I no longer have a link to it or a description on my profile. Sorry./:

10. The MouseOperated People Trap

AN: GAH! You guys are so GENEROUS with your REVIEWS! Thankyou, thankyou, THANKYOU! Ah, so with this chapter, we are officially half-way through! Whoo-hoo!

AN2: AHH! SO SORRY GUYS! So yeah, update's a day late because I had no computer access yesterday and then my computer was going weird. Eep! Whatever...just ignore my problems...
Read and enjoy! :)

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Ten: The Mouse-Operated People Trap

Fang's Hotel Room


I hadn't been able to sleep all night. Yesterday had just been amazing. It was so good to have the flock back together, so good to see Max in person, talk to her, tease her.

I had thrown her in the pool, waited to see her expression, and then I ran like a bat out of hell. She was pissed, of course, but I couldn't help it; she was just so adorable when she was mad.

After she had calmed down, we joined the others in the pool. We all splashed each other and messed around.

After eating the restaurant in the lobby out, we kinda just hung around before going to our separate rooms.

Today, I had a better plan for fun. Today, I was gonna round everyone up, pack us all into a car, and head off to the "happiest place on earth."

I hadn't said anything, though I was sure Angel knew already. Damn mind reader…

I was sure Max wouldn't want to go at first, but then she'd change her mind after being there for a while, which was when she'd start having a ball.

When I saw the light peek in through the window, I decided that it was time to get up and get ready for the big day.

Lobby, Grand Bohemian Hotel


Fang had said he had something BIG planned for today. Yes, BIG. He wouldn't say what this BIG thing was, even though he knew that we hated surprises. Angel, of course, knew what was up with this BIG thing. Damn mind reader…

We were all here, except for Nudge. She took sooooooooooo long to get ready. Fang kept looking at his watch (and me, though I pretended not to notice), Iggy kept tapping his feet and fingers, Angel was smiling deviously and flipping through a magazine, the Gasman was trying to catch up on some sleep, without much success, and Total was lying on Angel's lap.

Finally, the elevator doors opened with a ding and there was…a fat old lady walking her poodle. Damn. And behind the fat lady...a tall, extra slender, very tan, designer-clad, sunglasses-sporting, good-looking woman, with a purse on her arm. In other words—yeah, you guessed it—Nudge.

No wonder she had taken so long to get her butt down here.

All of us breathed a sigh of relief. At last, we could finally start our BIG day.

None of our cars were BIG enough to legally hold all of us, but we were all pretty skinny and managed to squeeze. We were slightly unsure, as there was a law enforcer present, but when we asked him, Iggy just whistled innocently and said he was on vacation and couldn't say that he was an "eye-witness." Ya gotta love the Igster.

We filled up my car (which happened to be the BIGgest), with yours truly driving, Fang at shotgun, Total between us, and the other four smushed in the backseat.

"Uh, Max? Would you mind if I drove?" Fang asked.

I looked at him questioningly. "Um, okay." We opened our doors, got out and switched. So, he still wasn't gonna tell me where we were going. He wasn't even gonna give me directions! Expertly, Fang started the car and pulled out of the lot. Usually, I don't let anyone drive my car, but me, because I didn't trust anyone else behind the wheel of my car, but me. David had offered to drive once and I'd flat out refused. I'd caught Ella behind the wheel, also, and I nearly lost my head. If someone stole my car, boy, they would get HELL. I'd only let Nudge drive 'cause there was no way I was gonna drive across the whole freaking country.

But Fang… I trusted him with my life. Even ten years of no contact wasn't going to change that. I was still convinced that I knew him almost as well as myself. So I let him drive the beloved car.

After being cramped in the car for a few minutes, I started to hear laughter, screams, and fairground music.

Oh no.

He wouldn't.

I would have his head for this! Fang was so totally DEAD! Now I knew what his BIG plan was. Angel smiled wider, hearing my violent thoughts. Total seemed to catch the drift and rested his head in his paws, moaning, "Oh, dear God…" All the while, Mr. Dark and Slick (and SO DEAD!) was smirking as he maneuvered into a fairly small line, leading into a giant, half-empty parking lot.

I glared at him, catching his eye when he turned. I swear his smirk shrunk. He turned away again, probably not wanting immediate death to result from my inhospitable gaze. I even growled, just for effect.

Fang was going to regret his BIG plan…

Disney World, Orlando, Florida

My legs were killing me.

My feet were probably covered in blisters.

My wings were sweltering hot under my shirt and sticky with sweat, which I couldn't do anything about.

I was starting to have a headache.

My stomach was growling at everyone, especially the characters in costume.

My eyes hurt from glaring at Fang.

My wallet hurt from all the money it had purged.

My brain hurt from thinking over and over again: Fang is so dead! But maybe later…

My hands hurt from gripping on to the rails of all the rides I'd been forcibly put on and tortured in.

And yet…

I found myself having FUN. Yes, FUN. I, me, Maximum Ride, Madison Martinez, whatever the heck you wanna call me, having FUN executing Fang's BIG plan for a great time at DISNEY WORLD.

Prepare for the apocalypse, people.

So, yeah. Disney World. This was Fang's BIG idea.

And it actually wasn't that bad. We got to ride a ton of rides, eat a ton of food, meet a ton of Disney characters, and have a ton of fun.

But I wasn't about to admit that to Fang. I could feel him looking at me, seeking approval, as we pulled out of the parking lot, on our way back to the hotel, with me driving this time.

The others were chatting excitedly, Total enjoying the souvenir he'd insisted that we get (a white dog from Princess Diaries 2 that he thought looked a bit like Akila). Every once in a while, he scratched at his sweater, his wings uncomfortably hidden beneath them.

Back at the hotel, everyone jumped out of the car, except me and Fang. I stayed to put things in order. I had no idea why Fang stayed in the car.

But then I did.

"So…did you have a good time?"

I said nothing, reaching into the backseat to brush some of Total's fur off the seat.



"Did you have fun?"

"Um…" I avoided his eyes, afraid I might bust up laughing.

"I guess not." I glanced at his face, which had suddenly taken on this gloomy look. Then it all burst out. I was laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing. I looked back at him and his eyebrows were raised, wondering what I found amusing.

"Of course I had fun, you dope! I was just having even more fun at the moment!" I playfully slapped his shoulder. He rolled his eyes and leaned in a bit closer than normal, giving my nerves a bit of a jolt.

"Well, I'm glad you had a good time. Just wait till you see what I've got planned for tomorrow!" Now, he laughed and opened the car door on his side, running to the hotel entrance, leaving me behind, no longer laughing.

And, let me tell you, he was running with good reason…

AN: Since we're already kinda on the subject of mice (yay Mickey!), just thought I'd mention that my all-time favorite food is CHEESE. REVIEWS are like VIRTUAL CHEESE for your mousy author, and therefore VERY APPRECIATED! REVIEW! Please&Thanks. :D


11. LowFat Land Left

AN: Hello! Okay, so this is (obviously) chapter eleven! And you know how last chapter I said we were officially half way through? Well, I lied. I added another chapter to the storyline, so the halfway point was...somewhere. And, one of the reviewers (sorry, can't remember the name at the moment) said I should send the flock to Seaworld. Call me a dimwit, but I completely forgot that there was a Seaworld in Orlando, so I can't effectively squeeze it in at this point. Yes, this point. It is very important. Any Phantom fans out there? Well, this is the point of no return. Mwahaha. I feel so evil.

Oh, and this chapter has four different POVs. I know that I have never given a heads up when I'm switching perspectives, and I hope you guys don't mind. It just seems kinda tacky, reading and then some name stuck in there with 'POV' next to it. I do hope you guys have been able to figure out the perspectives. If not, feel free to complain.

Anyway, enough of my rambling, now go read the chapter! :)

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Eleven: LowFat Land Left

Nudge's Hotel Room



I didn't want to get out of bed.

I didn't want to hang with the flock today.

I wanted to go home. I wanted to interview someone, smile and rant freely, mindlessly. Here, I always thought about my ranting. I mean, I am Monique Crystal Heart, the rant-er, unfiltered speaker, the girl that speaks her mind, etc. I was not this Nudge, the one who makes stupid remarks and thinks thoroughly before voicing her opinion. The old Nudge never did that. Nudge was like Monique. They were the same person, but then not the same person. I wasn't Nudge. I was Monique, and Monique could never be Nudge.

Once upon a time, I had been Nudge. In fact, Monique had evolved from Nudge, but Nudge could no longer exist. She couldn't be. But now she was pushing at the walls I had hidden her behind, scratching, clawing at me. She was trying to escape, and she was succeeding so far. Nudge, the monster, was almost out.

I had to push her away, overpower her. Monique would win; Nudge would lose and fade forever.

I would win.

Lobby, Grand Bohemian Hotel


The elevator dinged for the third time. I was in the lobby now, having come from the third floor. I could hear Fang and Max conversing quietly to my right and headed in that direction.

"Oh, hey Ig," Max greeted.

"Hey," Fang resounded.

"How's it going?" They answered in unison, the generic, "Fine." "So what tortures have you got lined up for us today, Mr. Jackson?"

Fang smirked. "You guys really hated Disney World that much?"

I raised an eyebrow and a corner of my mouth. "Nah, man. I just like messing with you. I haven't been able to for ten years, so I'm just trying to milk this cow for what it's worth." I winked.


"Uh…you want me to be honest, or to nourish your ego?"

"A little of both."

"Well, it was way too crowded, it was hot and humid, we walked too much, the lines for the rides were too long, even with that 'Special Guest Assistance' pass or whatever, and the day was too long. But, the rides were fun, the food was good, and it was kinda fun. Kinda." I heard a slight thump and guessed that she'd punched him or something.

"Whatever, Max. But if you hated all that walking yesterday, then you'll probably kick my ass after today."

I chuckled. Fang had always loved teasing Max, but he had always loved her too. And he still did.

I think.

The elevator dinged again and the sound of three, no four, pairs of footsteps came closer, as well as Angel and Gazzy's voices, mixed with Total's hushed grumblings.

"'Morning, Max, Fang, and Iggy!" came Angel's bright voice. I could just barely imagine her, all grown up and pretty. I couldn't believe that the last time I'd been with her she'd practically been a baby! Damn, how time flies…

"Hey guys," the Gasman said, his voice coming closer as he came to stand by me.

"'Morning. What're we doing today Fang? My paws are killing me," Total inquired.

"Jeez, I'm gonna be dead by the end of the day. I can already see the headlines: WEBMASTER NICK JACKSON KILLED BY PACK OF ANGRY MUTANTS. It'll be front page news."

Angel scoffed. "Don't flatter yourself, Fang. You'll be lucky if they put it in the newspaper at all."

I snickered.

For a moment, there was silence, until Max groaned, "Ugh. Where could that girl be?"

I furrowed my brow in confusion. "Who?"

"Nudge. The only one that hasn't showed, the one who's probably getting ready as we speak."

You know how they say, "Speak of the devil, and the devil shall appear"? Well, right then the elevator dinged and I heard heels clanging against the floor, coming our way.

I had never once in my life laid eyes upon Nudge, but I knew her complexion was gorgeous, her hair felt wonderful, and her wings were just lovely. I hadn't felt her wings in a decade, but I knew I would recognize them in an instant.

Okay, that's actually kind of a lie. I mean the first part, not the other stuff, that's all true. But, come to think of it, I had actually seen her a few times, with my eyes, not my hands. Maybe a few times at the School, before my operation, but I wasn't sure. And then in Antarctica, against the pure white, snowy background, I had seen Nudge, not very clearly, but well enough to see that she was really pretty. I wasn't sure now, but I could only imagine that she had grown more beautiful with the years.

Nudge, Nudge, Nudge… Who was I kidding? I was a police officer and she was a Hollywood talk show host. She was also WAY. OUT. OF. MY. LEAGUE.

Sometimes, I just hated life.



Again, Fang drove my car. Again, he didn't wanna tell us where we were going. Again, I was ready to kill him.

To my surprise (actually, I think everyone but Angel was surprised), he stopped the car after a few minutes of driving, parking on a busy street.

"Okay, guys. This is our stop. We walk from here." Fang started to open the car door and the two back doors opened, letting loose the parade of mutants, but I stayed still for a moment longer.

"What's wrong, Max?" Fang inquired in an ever-so chivalric manner.

I smiled at him. "I'm just trying to figure out what you're planning for us," I chirped with false sweetness.

"Oh." I swear Fang looked slightly frightened by my tone. I took the moment to open my door and step out of the car with what dignity I could muster.

The rest of the flock was standing on the sidewalk. Angel was squatting down, petting Total, while Gazzy spoke to Iggy, who seemed to be hovering over Nudge. Huh. Kind of odd, no?

Fang came around the car, still looking a tad shaken, and walked toward us, rubbing his hands together. "Alright, folks. Today we are going to be walking. You can go wherever, but just stick with at least one person, 'kay?"

"Uh, what's the point of this exercise?" Nudge asked.

"To branch out, get to know each other like we used to. And to take in the beautiful city of Orlando. Oh, and of course, to knock out the souvenir shopping."

Nudge rolled her eyes. "Fine. But I got Angel."

"I'm stickin' with Angel, so you're stuck with me, Miss Hollywood," Total grumbled.

Nudge didn't look thrilled at this news. "Whatever," she snapped. She grabbed Angel's wrist and pulled her along as she started walking. Total trotted behind them, trying not to get stabbed by Nudge's heels.

"Come on, Ig. Let's go explore," the Gasman said, towing Iggy in the opposite direction. Fang and I watched them go, not realizing at first that this left us alone together. Well at least I didn't notice at first.

"Where do you wanna go, Max?" Fang looked to me.

"Oh, uh, um…" I blurted, lost for words. But I'm the queen of words, so my obvious desperation didn't last long. "It doesn't matter. Where do you wanna go?"

Fang scratched his head in a gesture of thought. "Why don't we just walk around and see if anything catches our interest?"

I nodded in agreement and we began walking.


"So how do you like this reunion so far?" Fang asked. We had been walking aimlessly for about half an hour, until we found this really nice gelato shop. Fang bought me a cone, as well as one for himself, and we had found an empty booth near the back.

"It's pretty cool. I mean, we're all back together again, most of the time, and all that jazz."

He smiled, making the world spin a bit faster.

I took another lick of my gelato. "The only thing that gets me is Nudge. She's acting kinda strange."

"Really?" Fang asked incredulously. "I hadn't noticed." There was no trace of sarcasm in his voice.

I smirked. "Wow, are you oblivious."

"No, but seriously, what do you mean?"

"I mean the way she doesn't seem to want to be here, the way she talks about most anything just to seem like herself. It's kinda confusing, and irritating at the same time."

"Ah. I kinda get what you're talking about, but to me, she just mostly seems like herself."

I rolled my eyes, licking up more ice cream.

"How do you like the hotel?" he asked, changing the subject.

"It's pretty neat. It's not every day you find a hotel like the Grand Bohemian. I especially like my room. You should come down the hall and see it some time, Mr. Jackson."

"I would, Ms. Martinez, if I only had a key." He took a bite of his gelato.

You know those spur-of-the-moment decisions I'm famous for? Well, my fame keeps rising. Without thinking, I reached into my pocket and pulled out one of the two cardkeys I had on me and handed it to Fang. "Stop by anytime."

Fang looked surprised at my offer, but did his best to cover it up, taking the cardkey from my hand. "Muchas gracias, señorita Martinez."

"De nada, señor Jackson," I answered, giggling just a tiny bit. We continued to eat our gelatos in silence.


By the time the sun decided to get ready for bed, we were all meeting up at my car, ready to journey back to the hotel. Fang and I were still together, laughing and talking, as we had been doing all afternoon. I admit that, at first, it was a little awkward. But once the ice was broken, we were acting fourteen all over again. Hey, we were bound to behave like teenagers some day, and it certainly wasn't when we were actually in our teens.

So we had done a bunch of hands-on window shopping, going through various stores and fooling around. We had gotten ourselves kicked out a couple of times, but never took it personally; we would just continue on our merry way.

Fang had actually given in to his gentleman side and purchased this bracelet that I absolutely adored. It was silver, with a pair of wings hanging off it and the elegantly scripted words: I believe I can fly. As a kind of joke, I had bought him some rubber vampire fangs. But, deciding to be nicer, I also bought him this neat looking computer game. I assumed he had a computer, being a webmaster and all.

When we reached my car at last, Angel, Nudge, and Total were already there, slouching against the side of the car. Nudge looked upset, while Angel wore a mask of disappointment. Total looked asleep.

"Hey guys. How'd it go?" Fang asked.

"Um…" was all the information Angel would release.

"Great! It was an absolute ball!" Nudge remarked sarcastically, throwing her arms dramatically in the air. I noticed she looked a bit shorter and my eyes floated down, resting on her bare feet.

Total was awake by now, yawning and stretching. I gave Angel an inquiring look.

"Well, this guy bumped into Nudge and tried to steal her purse-"

"And she, of course, didn't feel any need to tell me what that bastard was thinking," Nudge interrupted.

Angel grimaced, but continued her story. "And then she turned around, but her ankle kinda twisted in a funky way and her heel snapped, so she fell down-"

"And no one tried to help me up. They just stood by laughing!"

A look of guilt crossed Angel's face, but one corner of her mouth twitched. Obviously, it must have looked hilarious.

Fang mover his hand through the air, as if waving away any problems. "Come on, guys. It's not that big of a deal."

Nudge was livid. She pursed her lips and looked like she wanted to say some nasty comment in return, but instead she sharply turned on her bare heel and said. "Just take me back to the damn hotel."

"We're still waiting for Iggy and Gazzy," I pointed out.

"UGH!" Nudge screamed.



It was hell waiting for those diabolical pyromaniacs, all the while I was eating away at my fingernails, worried that Nudge's head might explode, or that Iggy and the Gasman had rigged up a bunch of bombs to send Orlando up in fireworks.

I was really starting to dislike Nudge. Total and I had wanted to have fun, and we tried very, very hard to do so, but it was kinda canceled out by Nudge's querulous behavior. She kept complaining that her heels were hurting (big shocker there), that it was too hot (uh, hello! It's FLORIDA), and that she was hungry, but the foods were too fatty (ooh, my bad, Princess, but LowFat Land left).

She wasn't my Nudge anymore, the one that had been my best friend, one of my favorite beings in the world. Now, she didn't even make the top ten.

Finally, Iggy and Gazzy came walking down the lane, chuckling and playfully punching each other. At least they had had fun.

AN: Ooh. So finally, the issue of Nudge's attitude addressed and seen from her eyes. I hope you guys might get her a little more, that she's not purposely trying to be a...witch. She just doesn't want to be where I have her *sticks tongue out at Nudge*. And what ever was with Max and Fang in the gelato shop? And Iggy's flattering thoughts on Nudge? Hmmm...I wonder...

Reviews. My candy, tissues, anesthesia, and cheese. Ahhh... WHO THINKS WE CAN REACH THE ALMIGHTY 300 THIS TIME? I do! Comparison? Right here: Okay, so my all-time favorite candy is CHERRYHEADS. They are addictive and good to munch on when you're working on stuff (cough, fanfics, cough). Each REVIEW is like a box of CHERRYHEADS. Yum...
REVIEW! Please&thanks. :)

10/10/10 EDIT: Obviously, I'm labeling the POV changes now. Hope it makes this an easier read. Also, I finally changed the Spanish dialogue between Max and Fang, which got a lot of comments and complaints in later chapters, due to some misunderstanding.

12. The Recipe for FAX

AN: THANK YOU! for all the reviews! And especially to EdgeStrife, for reviewing all the chapters in one day!

Okay, so as you may or may not have figured, this is THE chapter you have all been waiting for. This is THE FAX chapter. My near-perfect recipe for FAX (I would say perfect, but I think JP's is the perfect one). So I'm just gonna send you straight down to read it. :)

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Twelve: The Recipe for FAX!

Max's Dream


"Yo, Max."

Fang. Fang's voice. I blinked and sat up fast, grabbing the sheets. "Wha'?" I panted. "What's, what's—"

"Let's take a little spin." Fang motioned outside

"Why?" I whispered.

He smiled unexpectedly and my heart gave a little squeeze. "Because we can."

Sadly, I usually don't need a better reason than that.

I knew what I was dreaming about: the night Fang and I shared on the docks. But I couldn't find a way to communicate that to the dream Max, a way to guide her through this night.

Fang was looking at everything except me. "Are we back on track?"

I looked at him. "What do you mean? What track?"

"You and me. We…broke up."

Oh, that. I gazed at the water, embarrassed.

"I don't want to split up again," he said.

"No, me neither."


Too late to warn the dream Max; Fang had started the conversation that would change us forever. No one would ever know how much I wished I could go back and change that night, how much I wished I had known the truth and told Fang straight out.

No one could understand how much I would give for a second chance.

I felt someone shaking me awake. Gladly, I left my dream behind and resurfaced in reality.

"Yo, Max. Let's take a little spin."

I froze. Wishes didn't come true, especially not that fast.

"Didn't you say that exact same thing ten years ago?"

"But that's not what you said."

I smiled, my eyes shutting again before I decided to go with him.

I sat up and my eyes immediately found Fang, hovering above me in his pajama pants. My eyes couldn't help but linger on his chest, taking in the well-built muscle. And then I saw the one flaw in the perfection: the scar that remained from so long ago, pink and brazen. I couldn't stop myself; I reached out and brushed my fingers along it.

"Oh my," I whispered. "It's still there."

His eyes were following my fingers, but he wasn't moving.

Finally, he whispered back, "Yeah. It makes it kinda hard to forget Ari."

I smiled slightly. Ari. My half-brother. I could still hardly believe that, or accept that I had killed him the first time around.

"Well, what are you waiting for? Let's bounce." I got out from under my covers, ignoring my scantily clothed figure and extending my wings. Fang didn't seem to mind much. I led the way to the balcony, opening the sliding door and climbing onto the ledge. Fang still lingered behind in the hotel room.


"Of course." He followed me onto the balcony and climbed onto the ledge next to me. "I just got distracted for a moment." And then he took off, pushing his feet against the ledge and diving into the everlasting night.


We were gone for an hour, a long, wonderful hour.

We hardly spoke, just dove through the night. The words didn't matter; all that mattered was that we were together.

As we landed on the balcony outside my room, I knew this would be a night that I would treasure forever. But I didn't know that, as the night went on, I would only have more reasons to cherish it.

I didn't want to go inside yet, so I took a seat on the ledge. Fang stood beside me, his arms propping him up. Silently, we both stared into the star-splattered sky. But then he turned to me.

"Max, do you know what my biggest fear was in the past ten years?"

I glanced at his face, his impassive eyes and rock-solid expression surrendering nothing.

I shrugged. "Erasers?"



He shook his head.

"Itex kidnapping you in the middle of the night?"

He cracked a small smile. "Surprisingly, no."

"Well then what?"

He sighed and avoided my eyes. "My greatest fear was…that I would never see you again." He peeked at me bashfully. "That I would never be able to tell you what a great leader you were, never let you know how much I looked up to you, never say that I thought you were the most beautiful girl to walk the planet, never tell you that you were such a great friend, never…" Fang buried his face in his hands, clearly embarrassed. But to me, this was the sweetest thing anyone could ever say, and before I knew it, my tear ducts sprang into action. But he wasn't finished. "…never be able to tell you how much I loved you." Now, he held my teary gaze, searching my eyes, which were disclosing every emotion possible.

This could not be happening.

Memories swirled back into my mind, the beach after Ari nearly killed Fang, where I kissed him for the first time. The Red-Haired Wonder. Fang comforting me after I confessed seeing myself as an Eraser in the mirror. Fang and me, as we shared a soda and laughed off our latest adventure. The cave, where he kissed me and I took off. When my mom removed the chip from my arm and Fang stood beside me, squeezing my hand. Me, announcing my love to Fang under the valium's influence. Our big fight, when we broke up. The night on the docks that I had just relived in my dreams, the night that I admitted to myself, no matter how brief the second, that I loved Fang. My arms around him, expressing my relief that he was still alive after the deadly explosion of Itex. My tear-stained cheek as he kissed it, when we thought we were seeing each other for the very last time. The soaring feeling of my heart when I saw his email, heard his voice. When I saw him, aged ten years, standing in the hotel lobby. Our excursion through the town, acting like teenagers again. Just now, soaring through the night with him at my side. And one memory I had very nearly forgotten:

the one thing that stood clear in my mind as I wearily made my way back down to the Wendy K in ever-diminishing circles was:

Fang had never said that stupid stuff back to me.

But that wasn't true anymore.

And then I got another surprise.

The Voice decided to join me. It had disappeared after I had saved the world and I had never expected to hear it again. These were it words of wisdom:

Max, he's been in love with you all this time, and you never noticed. But it's not just him; the feeling is mutual, Maximum. I've always told you to go with the flow, and that advice applies best to this moment. You can't exactly be the Maximum without facing every unknown frontier, everything you fear. Go to the max, Maximum.

Thank you, I thought back, grateful tears sliding down my cheeks. I could feel Fang's gaze still on me. I needed to follow the Voice's direction, and suddenly, I knew how.

He's your soul mate, I vaguely heard the Voice add.

I turned to Fang, catching his eyes and holding them. I took a deep breath, realizing that I was about to give the speech of my life, and it was to only be heard by one person. Thank goodness it was the one person that mattered most.

"Fang." I paused, building stamina and courage. Then I said lightly, casually, "Do you know why I never told David about the wings, or Maximum Ride?"


I closed my eyes, taking another deep breath. "I never told him because I knew that if you ever came back into my life, I would immediately choose you over him, that I would follow you, do anything to keep you around. And I knew he would never like that. If he had that kind of information, he would automatically use it to his benefit if he thought it would make us even, make me come back."

"So you didn't trust him."

"No, more like I didn't trust me." I sighed. "Fang, if I had to choose between seeing just you and just seeing the rest of the flock, I would choose you without hesitation. If I had to choose between your life and everyone else in the flock, I would choose your life. If I had to die to save you, I would without a second thought."

Fang interrupted here. "That wouldn't really work, because the moment you were gone, I'd find a way to follow."

"Well, the point is that I don't trust myself where you're involved, because the outcome is too predictable.

"And every day in those ten years when we were apart, I thought of you, tried to imagine where you were. Every time I kissed David, I wished it was you. When I started getting close to him, I couldn't help but think that he was like you. I fell in love with his Fang-like qualities, not him.

"So I guess that that was all just a super long way to tell you that I love you."

Fang was smiling, bigger than I'd ever seen him smile before. It was a smile brighter than the sun, one that could be seen for miles, one visible through walls. It was a smile that Iggy would have no trouble seeing.

"So where does this leave us?" he asked.

"I don't know."

"I'm in love with you, and you're in love with me, but you've got a fiancé waiting for you back in Arizona."

I froze. I had completely forgotten to tell Fang about the break-up.

"Actually…" I held my hands out to Fang, letting him see the lack of the engagement ring's presence. "Like I said, I knew I would end up choosing you."

He stroked my hands, running his fingers over mine. "What happened?"

"He didn't like the idea of me leaving, so I told him that if he couldn't accept that I was a free-spirit, then he wasn't ready to marry me. I kicked him out and he took back the ring."

"Why didn't you say so before?"

I blushed. "I forgot." I turned myself around on the ledge so that I could see Fang better and so that my feet were hanging over the floor of the balcony, rather than over a seemingly endless space.

"Well, now that you remembered…"

Fang didn't finish the sentence, and I couldn't finish it for him. I knew what he was talking about, but I was too busy kissing him to put it in words.

AN: The beginning part that is in italics during Max's dream, and her last memory, were taken straight from TFW. And, the Voice's last comment was taken from MAX. I do not own either.

Haha, I actually kinda edited this chapter before releasing it to the world!

YAY! The FaXNeSs has at last arrived! What will happen? Next up: what is probably the shortest chapter, besides maybe the first one. But never fear! Chapter 14 will be one of the longest chapters I've written.

Ahem. Okay, so REVIEWS are to MY STORIES as PAGES are to BOOKS. They go hand-in-hand, in sickness and in health, for rich or for poor, for flames or for compliments, till at the apocalypse they part. REVIEW!

10/10/10 EDIT: So, that's all for tonight. I'm moving through this much faster than I thought I would, but that's perfectly fine by me. More to come later!

13. Reflections

AN: So glad you guys liked the last chapter. I honestly wrote that one (and this one) a while back, when I was still writing the chapters where they're finding each other. This chapter is fairly short and was originally going to be attached to the next chapter, but that would just have made it much too long. So, enjoy your very short chapter (it's another FAX one).

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Thirteen: Reflections

Max's Hotel Room


After the serious kissing started, the night fell into somewhat of a blur. But, when my eyes opened to the morning's harsh light, pouring in from the open door out to the balcony, three things stood clear and strong in my mind. And they only became clearer when my eyes found him, lying beside me, still asleep. He was so beautiful; it took my breath away. My hand pulled itself out from under the covers and stretched toward his face, gently brushing some of his hair away. Still asleep, he smiled and sighed dreamily.

I closed my eyes and smiled to myself. It was just so electrifying, the feeling of everything being so clear. What was clear? The world, my life, my thoughts, the future…but only three mattered to me:

1: I had told Fang that I loved him. Finally. No drugs or death sentences needed. Just plain and simple. And it was different this time, because I had said it in response to him telling me that he loved me.

2: Fang was finally mine. Maybe, in a way, he had always been mine, but I'd never claimed him. Just imagine that you went to a store and found something you really liked, loved even, but for some reason, you didn't want it, as long as no one else could have it. So, you went to the service desk and asked to put it on layaway, not exactly intending to come back for it. That's what I'd done with Fang, put him off to side, but made sure no one else could have him. And I had finally taken him, claimed him.

3: It had been the best night of my life.

Now, before you freak out, I did not, I repeat, I did not, have sex with Fang. We had just kissed and kissed and kissed. It was amazing, nonetheless. We eventually decided to lie down, but we kept kissing, until we were both so tired that our eyes felt like they were going to fall out of their sockets. Then we just held each other. It felt so right, so perfect. Nothing could've ruined the moment. It felt like we just fit together precisely, like my shape was imbedded in him and vice versa. Kinda like a memory foam mattress, I guess.

So perfect. The night was just soaked in utter perfection.

I opened my eyes, letting them find Fang again. His face was so peaceful in sleep I couldn't help but stroke his face again. Suddenly, his eyes fluttered open, wary at first, but changing when he saw who I was. He smiled. "Morning."

"Good morning yourself." I smiled back at him.

"Wow. So that really happened then?"

"Yeah. It really did."

Fang smiled even more. "Well that's good to hear."

I shifted under the covers, moving so that I was closer to him. He wrapped his arms around me and kissed my hair.

"What should we tell the flock?" I whispered, closing my eyes again.

"The truth. They're not so young anymore, Max."

"I guess. What time is it?"

"Don't worry. It's not time to get up yet."

"Alright…" I felt his lips on my skin once more as I drifted back to sleep.

I woke up a couple hours later, I guess, to the sound of someone moving. I opened my eyes to see Fang walking around. He didn't look like he had been up long and he was still wearing just the pajama bottoms. He leaned down and gently kissed my lips.

"Morning, sunshine."

"Hello." I stretched sleepily, trying to shake off the last bits of sleep.

Fang came over and sat on the bed. It barely sank down at the added weight. "You in the mood for food?"

"When haven't I been?"

He chuckled. "I thought so." He kissed my forehead. "Well, I'm gonna go to my room to change. I'll come back here after. Then, we can go down together."

I smiled groggily. "I think I'm gonna shower."

"Alright, Max. See you in a bit," he said, kissing my lips before going to the door…

…Leaving me in my bubble of unlimited happiness.

AN: Haha, this one kinda makes me wish that I'd officially tossed FAX in earlier. Anyway, next chapter is going to be VERY long, one of the longest ones I've written in a while, maybe in forever. So, if you want this super-long, super-important chapter up soon, you'll review. Regarding reviews, I have what may seem to be an impossible request: I would like to reach 400 with this chapter. That's right, folks, four hundred reviews. I know, I know, that seems like a lot. Okay, it is a lot. That means that I would need, like, fifty reviews. But chill. If I don't get to 400 it's not like I won't update. Or...hmmm...that's actually not a bad idea...jkjk! But FOUR HUNDRED (400) REVIEWS WOULD BE REALLY, REALLY NICE! :D

Ahem. So, REVIEWS are as essential to the writing of this fic as FAX is to the overall plot. See? REVIEWS are very important. So make a DIFFERENCE (and help me reach my goal) by leaving me some important REVIEW!

14. Remind Me Again Why

AN: OH. MY. FLIPPING. ZEUS! You guys did it! This fic has officially reached 400 reviews! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I really went crazy about that. If you don't believe me, go look at my profile page. Pronto.

Also, I wanna comment on one of the reviews. As usual, I can't remember who sent it in, but the reviewer said that they wished Max and Fang had actually had sex. I'm gonna admit that, originally, that's what happened. But then this review that I got for one of my other fics said something along the lines of how the person [the reviewer] was quite upset that all the fanfics nowadays have sex in them. So, I wanted this one to be above that, hence Max and Fang not having sex...which seemed to pay off, as another reviewer commented that they were glad Max and Fang didn't have sex. I hope you guys can kinda understand that.

Now, go read.

WARNING: Potentially teary chapter. I swear, I nearly cried writing it. It's also really long. Like, 3000+ words long (kinda making up for last chapter being really short). And, it might get a bit confusing, 'cause I include a really long flashback that just might enlighten you guys as to what happened when the world was saved, and why Nudge is so bitter. Enjoy! And have the Kleenexes ready...

Maximum Ride: The After Years

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Fourteen: Remind Me Again Why

Gazzy, Angel, and Total's Hotel Room

The Gasman

As I woke up, I really, really hoped that Fang didn't have anything planned that required a lot of energy. I was freaking tired. Like, more tired than I had been when first semester finals had come around and I stayed up for 48 hours straight, cramming. The moment that finals were over with and I had made it back home, I crashed for the whole weekend.

After Disney World, and walking around all yesterday, my feet were sore and I was suddenly grateful that we had wings and hadn't had to walk throughout all our past adventures.

When Iggy and I had finally made it back to Max's car yesterday, Nudge was fuming and Angel had no fingernails left. Total was asleep and Fang and Max were conversing quietly, sitting on the hood of the car. I asked what happened and Nudge just kinda roared and stomped into the car, everyone else following suit. Angel thought at me that she'd explain later.

I was horrified when Angel and Total told me of their afternoon with Miss Hollywood. I was also pretty mad; I mean, this is my little sister we're talking about here, and the dog that's been around more than half my life. I couldn't understand why Iggy liked her so much…

Yeah, you read right: Iggy had a crush on dear old, stuck up Nudge. Unless he was lying to me when he said so, but I didn't think that was the case.

He ended up telling me because we had been discussing the concept of Max and Fang. Like, Max with Fang. Weird, I know, but it was too obvious that they're in love with each other. Way too obvious. Then Iggy had said that they weren't the only ones in the flock with romantic feelings, or something like that.

Dang. Our flock was like one big love fest. Besides me and Angel, of course. Yuck…

Fang's Hotel Room


Today was a chill day, a sit-back-relax-and-don't-kill-Fang day. At least, I hoped it was.

We were all crowded in my room, each of us in our own individual spot that we had taken over, like miners staking claims in the Gold Rush. Max and I were sitting on my bed, Angel was sprawled out on the floor, Total at her side, Gazzy was under the window, Iggy was next to the door, and Nudge was curled up in the chair in the corner.

It was silent.

And then Angel cleared her throat, looking at Max and me meaningfully, like she expected us to say something. Max then turned to face me, her eyes asking permission. I nodded stiffly. Here went nothing.

I cleared my throat first. Then I uttered the words that would lift me to the heavens, or damn me for all time. "Uh, guys, well, um, you see, Max and I kind of…well, we—"

Iggy let out a loud sigh. "Took you guys long enough!"

Gazzy looked me pointedly in the eye. "Yeah. You guys are trying to say that you finally caught on and got together, right?"

Max blushed. "How did you know?"

Nudge rolled her eyes. "Are you seriously asking that question? We've practically been counting the minutes it would take you guys from the moment we left the School with Jeb!"

Here, Angel blushed a bit. "Actually, I have been keeping track." She paused, her eyes finding the clock. "It has taken you guys…seven million, eight hundred eighty-eight thousand, three hundred seventy-three, er, four, minutes to figure yourselves out, from when we left our cages to last night." She smiled smugly, obviously quite proud of her time-keeping skills.

I stared at her, disbelievingly, along with everyone else.

Then Nudge spoke. "Did you guys make looove?" she asked in a sing-song-y voice.

Max went pale. What was with her?

I scratched my head, letting Nudge's question sink in. "Uh, um, it depends how you classify that…"

Nudge and Angel's eyes went wide. Gazzy's face twisted up. Iggy pursed his lips. Total let out a sound that sounded vaguely like a chuckle. Then Max jumped in.

"What Fang means is that if you're asking if we had sex, the answer is no. If you're asking if we slept with each other, the answer is yes. Fang and I both stayed in my room for the night and shared the bed."

Nudge smirked. Angel grinned. Gazzy looked like he was choking. Total had his paws over his ears. Iggy looked as if he hadn't heard anything.

Max blushed again. "Um, so, how 'bout them apples?"

We all proceeded to look at her as if she were a crazy lady escaped from an asylum. A very random way to change the subject…

But surprisingly, it worked.

"I like apples," Angel smiled, making us all laugh lightly.

Again, it was silent for a moment.

"Max, why exactly did we split up?" Angel's words once again broke the silence. My first thought was, whether Angel was listening or not, That's a very good question.

Max looked puzzled, her brow furrowing. Angel was obviously still waiting for an answer, and everyone else, even Total and Iggy, seemed to be looking at Max and listening intently for their leader's answer.

Then, she began. "Well…"

~Ten Years Ago~


Ruins. Fire. Destruction. Everywhere, as far as the eye could see. This was how the saving of the world happened: chaos before rebirth.

I stumbled through the wreckage, resulting from Iggy and Gazzy's biggest bomb yet. I coughed, feeling dust in my lungs and between my feathers. My throat was dry and scratchy.

"Report!" I yelled. "Repor-" My lungs couldn't take the volume, and I coughed again. There was no answer. I felt tears beginning to fall down my cheeks, washing away the dirt and leaving behind clean streaks in the grime.

I tried again. "REPORT!" The sound, though loud, was scratchy and sounded nothing like my own voice.

Itex was gone. We had uprooted the last of its kind. But Iggy and the Gasman had underestimated the power of their own bomb and we hadn't gotten far enough away to avoid the explosion. One of my wings had been hit by something and wiggled feebly and painfully. I could feel its dampness, from blood.

I coughed again, doubling over. I felt like I was going to lose anything that had managed to stay in my stomach from the past week. At the last cough of the round, I swear a cloud of dust exited my mouth. I stood up as straight as I could manage, suddenly realizing that there was a sharp pain in my left leg. I looked down and saw the torn material, red around the edges, soaked in blood.

REEEPOOORTTT!" I screeched at the top of my lungs, thinking they might explode at the pressure.

Then, in a flutter of hope, I heard a muffled cough to my right, one that was not my own. "Gazzy," I whispered, limping over to him. His blond hair was dusted brown, one of his eyes shut and coated in filth. He had a cut from his eyebrow to his jaw line that didn't look too deep, but was gushing blood.

"I'm okay," he coughed out, struggling to his feet. I grabbed his arm in attempt to help, but he didn't need it. "Where're the others?"

"…" I couldn't speak, too much debris in my throat. I shook my head and shrugged.

Gazzy coughed again. Then he called out, "Report!" I looked at him gratefully, mouthing my thanks.

A movement to my left. Another member of the flock, emerging from the waste. I cleared my throat, pounding my fist against my chest, trying to loosen some dust.

Gazzy jogged over towards the moving pile. I limped behind him weakly. "Iggy," I whispered, my voice gradually finding its way out.

He was in a similar state, coughing and dusty. "Who's there?" he choked out.

"It's me, Max. And Gazzy's here, too." Iggy sighed in relief.

"My arm…" He coughed. I looked and saw a sharp-looking piece of wood, penetrating his skin, opposite his elbow, and poking out. It was drowning in a river of blood that was flowing out of the main artery there. He was keeping pressure on the wound, doing his best to stop the bleeding. He would be fine. Eventually.

"Max, I'm sorry. I should've known that the blast would be that strong. I should've warned you. This is all my fault."

"No, Ig. It's no one's fault," I whispered before proceeding to cough up my guts.

I felt a reassuring hand on my back, but couldn't see the owner. At the end of my coughing fit, I stood straight, still feeling the hand on my back. But Iggy and Gazzy both had their hands where I could see them.

I spun around, immediately wary. All the whitecoats should've died in the explosion.

Fang. It was Fang. Fang, Fang, Fang. Leave it to him to scare the crap out of me, after we'd nearly died. But he was alive. Before I could stop myself, I threw my arms around him, letting the tears spring from my eyes. "You're alive," I whispered into his ear.

I felt him nod, his arms slowly encircling me. My hand ran through his hair, but I soon pulled it away. I looked at my hand and saw that it was covered in blood. I stepped back from Fang and showed him my hand. "You…took a hit to the head."

"I'm fine," was the reply of Mr. Wordy.

"Angel," I whispered, "We have to find her."

He nodded. "Report!"

I turned back to Iggy and Gazzy, smiling slightly. "Thank God you guys are alive."

I heard a flutter of wings behind me. I turned around and angled my head up. There was Angel, barely three feet off the ground, flying toward us. "Angel!" I tried to yell, tears of joy finding their way down my face. My baby was okay.

I limped toward her, catching her in my arms and hugging her to my chest. "Oh, Angel…"

"Don't worry, Max. Everything will be okay." She smiled down on me in her innocent six-year-old way.

I turned to the guys. "Is that everyone?"

"Where's Nudge?" came Iggy's voice.

Of course. It was still strangely quiet.



Blackness swirled around me, consuming me, eating me alive. There was a heavy weight upon me, shielding me from the outside world.

Before the dark, there had been blinding light and scalding heat. I could barely remember it. And then I heard the muffled voices and remembered.

"Angel. We have to find her."

Then a different voice. "Report!" Something in my mind knew that I was supposed to respond in some way to this. But I lay there limp anyway, unresponsive.

"Thank God you guys are alive."

Then there was a different kind of noise, almost foreign to my ears. "Angel!" yelled the voice. Then quieter. "Oh, Angel…"

Angel, Angel, Angel. Such familiarity. Weren't they the ones that came for you when you died? Were they here for me?

"Don't worry, Max. Everything will be okay."

Max, Max, Max. Again, it rang a bell.

"Is that everyone?"

"Where's Nudge?"

Nudge. Nudge, Nudge, Nudge. Nudge! That was me! But…they had nearly forgotten about me…

"Nudge!" someone called out. I should have responded, I knew. I should have showed them that I was there and that I heard. I should have presented myself in some way.

"Nudge." This time, it was a whisper, closer.

Some of the dark disappeared. "I found her."

And then the light invaded.



This was it. This was the end of our time together, the story of Maximum Ride and her loyal flock. Fang, Iggy, Angel, the Gasman, and Nudge. Our story was over.

My mission was accomplished. Itex was destroyed, the world was saved, and we were all alive and well. And now, it was time for us to disappear.

I had discussed it in-depth with myself. Right now, it would be best for us to vanish. And today was that day.

So, just a little fill-in: Jeb had disappeared, as well as the Voice. I didn't expect either of them to pop up again. Total and Akila were with Mom, who had come from Arizona after the bloodiest interim of the battle. Ella was back in Arizona, staying with her aunt. Brigid Dwyer had been exposed as a spy for Itex and killed in that last explosion, along with Anne Walker and many others.

We were in Australia, just getting ready to leave. At the airport, I would tell the flock my decision. I wasn't looking forward to it.

When I finally got up the courage to utter the words, the tears spilled over, as I knew they would. No one argued. We all knew this was best. It had to be done. And I would hate myself for it.

Angel reacted first, stepping up to me and hugging me tightly, as if she would never let go. My baby…I would never get to see her grow up. I kissed her hair in a motherly way, missing her already. She finally let go, her eyes leaking.

Gazzy hugged me next. "Don't worry, Max. I'll take good care of Angel."

I kissed the top of his head. "Thank you."

I walked up to Iggy, watching the tears creep out of his sightless eyes. I wrapped my arms around him in a sisterly way. "Stay strong, Ig. You'll make it." He nodded.

I then went to Nudge, my little diva. "Remember who you are, Nudge. Don't ever forget." I kissed her forehead.

Fang. This was the good-bye that would no doubt hurt the most. It would eat away at my heart and I knew that I would still miss him ten years from now.

I hugged him without restraint, squeezing my eyes shut and letting the tears flow out more. "I'll never forget you, Fang. Never."

He pulled back and looked me in the eye. He was the only one that wasn't crying. "No. Max, I promised that I would never leave you again. I'm not about to break that promise," he said firmly, his jaw set.

I shook my head defiantly. "This is different. I'm leaving you." And Fang cracked. I saw the tears, at first just reflecting in his eyes, then slowly but surely crawling down his cheeks.

"I'm sorry," I croaked. He nodded, then, in front of the entire flock, he leaned over and pressed his lips to my tear-stained cheek.


I cleared my throat and my mind, trying to push back the dreadful memories.

They really wanted an explanation. Not just Angel, who had asked the question, but now all five, no six, of them were, staring at me, expecting an answer.

"Well…" I began. "I made the decision that was best at the moment. The world didn't need us anymore. We didn't want to be freaks. It was necessary."

"But it might not have been the best decision for everyone, especially for so long." Iggy's voice was quiet.

Suddenly, Nudge stood up from her chair in the corner. "Well you know what?" She began sharply, her words practically cutting into my skin. "I'm glad I left. You hear? Glad. I was glad to be able to start over, glad that I could be someone new. I was glad that I didn't have to be with you guys anymore, with people that would forget me in an instant! I could have died in that explosion! I almost did! And you guys totally forgot about me!"

Her words struck a dangerously unstable cord, cutting deep into my soul, searing through my vitals. Her words were more venomous than those of a deadly snake. They could kill, as could her menacing face.

"And then you had to come along and ruin me!" She jabbed her finger through the air, at me. "You ruined it all! I was living my dreams! I was somebody in the world, somebody that wasn't Nudge, the human/bird freak! You took away my new life and dropped me back down to your level, the one infested with outcasts. And I hate you for it. I hate you all."

Without another word, Nudge bolted from the room, slamming the door behind her.

AN: Not that there's really much I can say after that, but I'm gonna try anyway...

REVIEW! No specific goal this time, just send in the REVIEWS!

15. The Great Escape

AN: At last it has arrived! I won't tell you yet what exactly has arrived, but it's good! Nudge sees a bit of sense (enter choir of angels singing, "Hallelujah!") and this chapter marks the beginning of her redemption. I hope you enjoy it!

Dedication: Wow, I haven't done this for a while. Anyway, I would like to dedicate Chapter Fifteen of MR: The After Years to one of my best friends, the reviewer known as milla. I've known her forever and I love her very much. (There was a heart here, but it wouldn't show up ;_;) :D

Also, milla said it might help if I indicated when the POV changes. I don't really like to stick 'So&So POV' in the middle of a chapter because it seems kinda...I dunno, gaudy. But I do try to drop enough hints so that you can figure out who is narrating. However, if you agree with milla and would like me to clearly indicate perspective changes, then review and tell me so. :)

And THANK YOU for the reviews!

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Fifteen: The Great Escape

On the Way to Nudge's Hotel Room


Run. That was my mission. I had to run, leave as fast as was possible. I had to catch a taxi, go to the airport, and get on the next flight to LAX. After three days in a car and four in a hotel with her, I was finally sick of Max.

I had spent the first eleven years of my life with her before I realized that she didn't need me, didn't even want me. She forgot about me, almost let me die, before she pushed me out from under her wing. Then, after ten years, when I finally didn't need or want her around, she showed up at my doorstep, ready to take away the life I had built for myself. But now, I was showing her that I didn't need her. This time, I was leaving her.

Max, Max, Max. This marked the end of her reign over me.

I took the elevator to my floor, sprinting to my room. I fished in my pocket for the cardkey, letting myself in. I didn't bother closing the door all the way.

I grabbed my suitcase, which was already mostly packed. I had never planned on staying long. I set it down on the bed, rushing to the bathroom to grab my toiletries. Almost there, almost there, almost…

Sh**. I had left the door to the room open. And I had been in the bathroom, collecting my things. And now, exiting the lavatory, I could see the door was all the way shut.

Instinctively, I spun around, looking at the bed to make sure my suitcase was still there. It was. But the chair in the corner was now occupied.

"What do you want?" I asked him harshly. He ran his pale fingers through his light hair, looking down.

"Don't do it, Nudge," he stated calmly.

Okay, that pushed me even more over the edge. "I. Am. Not. Nudge."

He turned to face in my direction. "Monique. Don't leave."

I crossed my arms fiercely over my chest. "And why should I listen to you?" I asked defiantly.

Finally, Iggy stood up. His cloudy blue eyes, though they could not see me physically, seemed to look straight through me. I don't know how he managed it, but he was soon looking directly into my eyes.

He took a slow, unsure step toward me. "Because I never forgot about you. Not once. Ever." He took another step, and another, until he was just inches away. "How could I ever forget you?"

Oh. My. Flipping. Zeus.

My mind began to fog up, my intentions pushed away. How the hell was he doing that? I felt like I had just downed an entire bottle of vodka, and then some. Whatever he was doing, I didn't like it, but I didn't want it to stop

Did I ever mention how Iggy was just utterly fine? Because I don't think I did. In fact, I don't think I actually noticed it before.

And he was right. He hadn't forgotten me. He was the one who found me, the one who brought my slipping existence to notice. And it looked like he never had forgotten.

Unconsciously, unintentionally, still under Iggy's intoxicating spell, I reached out a hand and stroked his cheek. I let my bag of toiletries drop from my grasp, hearing them hit the floor with a soft thud.

"Iggy…" My voice was quiet, barely a whisper. He looked so beautiful, standing in the flattering light of the setting sun. My arms somehow coiled around him, wrapping around him like a boa constrictor, only gentler. I found myself leaning into him, pulled by some invisible force and his arms. My head rested on his chest and I registered that he was taller than me, something that I should have noticed before. I took a deep breath, soaking in his smell. He smelled fresh, minty with a little bit of ginger. Ah…

"Nu-, I mean, Monique. I will never forget you."

"Go ahead. Call me whatever you like. Just…thank you."

I felt as if my insides were being nibbled at, but not in the same way as before. This was different. I felt no anger, no pain, no thirst for revenge. The feeling banished all bad, leaving me to immerse in the goodness. Wide grassy fields. Beautiful spring flowers. Butterflies and ladybugs. Rainbows on clouds. Unicorns that could fly.

Oh, Iggy. Iggy, Iggy, Iggy. Iggy, Iggy, Iggy! I felt like I could stand there for an eternity, just breathing Iggy, doting on Iggy. I could never get sick of Iggy.

And I could never forget him, either.

I looked up at him only to find his face, his lips, inches from my own. I wanted Iggy. Bad.

"I'll never forget you, either." I saw, for a brief moment, that his face lit up at my words. And then I closed my eyes and pressed my lips to his.

Oh my dear Lord! Just when I had thought it couldn't get better, my world flipped upside down. In a good way, of course.

Everything was Iggy and Iggy was everything. His lips seemed to move in sync with mine, following my every move. His hands were on my back, causing my wings to shake with what little strength they had. My fingers combed through his smooth strawberry hair, stroking his face and neck. Oh, he was just paradise.

I felt his hands on my waist as he tilted his head, deepening our kiss. I could honestly say that I had never felt so good in my entire twenty-one years of living.

And, for the first time in over a decade, I wanted to fly. I wanted to stretch out my feeble wings and just soar. I wanted to twirl and scream and shout and freefall a thousand feet before snapping my wings out and catching the air again. I. Wanted. To. FLY.

How long had we felt this way? Or did the "we" not belong there? Was it only me, feeling this bliss? Or was the wondrous feeling mutual? Oh, how I hoped it was!

Without planning on it, I broke away. Jeez, I was turning into Max!

I looked Iggy in the eye, knowing that he couldn't see me, but feeling he could. Shamefully, I remembered what I was supposed to be doing.

I pushed away from Iggy, picking up my bag of toiletries. I walked over to my bed, where the suitcase lay, still open. I stuffed the bag in there and zipped it up. That was it.

I felt Iggy's hand on my arm. "No. Please. Please don't go."

I turned to face him. "Come with me." Great, another Max moment.

His sightless eyes filled with surprise. "What?"

"Pack your bags and come with me, back to Hollywood."

I saw the indecision flicker on his face. To go or not to go? That is the question, dear Hamlet.

"Give me seven minutes, ten tops," he said, his mind made up. He kissed my cheek and jogged to the door. I pulled my suitcase off the bed and hurried after him.

And that was our brilliant escape.

AN: OH MY FLIPPING ZEUS! There go Nudge and Iggy, off to Hollywood! And Nudge has fallen for him! See, she still has some good in her, no matter how subtle it is. And Iggy loves her enough to see it. But now what will everyone else do? What happened to Max after Nudge's big tantrum?

REVIEW and you'll find out...500 seems pretty close...

And...did you know that REVIEWS are like ICE CREAM on a hot summer's day? Did you know that REVIEWS are actually just as lovely as a beautiful summer's day? Heck, since I'm on a roll here, did you know that when Shakespeare was writing the sonnet "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?" he was actually referring to REVIEWS for poor little fanfiction writers that need a little boost in their self esteem? Okay, that one was a lie, but that won't stop you from REVIEWING, right? RIGHT? x)

10/12/10 EDIT: Obviously, as I do believe I mentioned before, the perspectives are now being labeled. Hopefully, that helps you guys.(:

16. Where the Fault Lies

AN: So, there were lots of different opinions on the last chapter. Some of you kinda warmed up to Nudge a very, very, very little bit. Others of you still hate her guts. As for the POV thing, not many of you commented on that. The only ones who did said they liked it how it was, so I shall keep it as is. Another thing I like about not labeling the POV is that I don't have to immediately decide who narrates. Like this chapter, for instance. I had no idea who would be narrating when I started writing it, but then a few paragraphs in, I'm like *lightbulb!* So, yah, some of you might be clueless the first few paragraphs, but then the narrator becomes pretty obvious.

This is also a potential tear-jerker. Have any leftover Kleenexes?


Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Sixteen: Where the Fault Lies

Lobby, Grand Bohemian Hotel


Today was different than the other days, and yet exactly the same. Nudge was taking eternity and then some to get her feathery butt down here. But it wasn't only her; Iggy, of all hybrids, was taking just as long. Weren't police officers trained to be ready for action in, like, a minute? Oh, wait…that was firefighters.

After Nudge's outburst yesterday afternoon, we had decided it was best to leave her be. But not too long after, Iggy insisted he go check on her. We didn't hear from either of them for the rest of the night.





Iggy had gone to Nudge's room to check on her and we didn't see them after! What if they'd…whoa. Kinda disturbing. But I had just known that there was chemistry between them, even if it wasn't as strong as the fireworks between Fang and Max.

Ah, love. What a beautiful, wretched thing it was. It was the most beautiful rose in the garden of emotion, but it also had the most thorns. I remembered the feeling well. But nothing is fair in love and war. And life, come to think of it. Love united Akila and I, but life ripped us apart, as well as Itex, which might fit under the "war" column.

Well, anyway, my theory was that Nudge and Iggy were too busy with each other to bother with us. Angel saw the logic behind this brilliant theory, but disagreed, saying that if that was so, she wouldn't have been able to sleep a wink. Poor kid…

Sometimes, I wonder how I ended up in situations such as these. I mean, get real. I am a dog (sorry though, I'm not a female). Dogs were supposed to play fetch and be taken for walks and stick their heads out car windows and pant and run and stuff like that. But instead, I was genetically enhanced, smart enough to study myself (move over, humanity), able to think coherently, speak "human", fly, see more logic in things than most humans, jump, like, fifty feet, and I was always stuck in a stupid sweater to cover up my wings. See the difference? What about the fairness?


See now, my normal dog/puppy life had been very short-lived. I was only a couple months old when Itex stumbled across me. Damn whitecoats. Now that I was more human/bird than dog, I demanded to be treated so, but most people couldn't tell that I was different, thanks to aforementioned sweater. And, unfortunately, the fleas could tell I was different, but they didn't give a rat's poo.

Sometimes, being a dog really sucks.

Max looked at her watch once more and then sighed before speaking. "I think we should go check on them, or Nudge at the very least. She might still be upset."

Fang shifted from his leaning position. "Okay. I'll go with Gazzy to Iggy's room, and you take Angel with you to Nudge's."

Max shrugged. "Works for me." She kissed Fang's cheek. "See you back here in a few."

As they strolled over to the elevators, I had half a mind to sit there and wait for them, but then I had the unpleasant notion that some rude lobby pedestrian might pass by and claim me as their own, so I quickly trotted after them.



Angel, Total, and I got off the elevator at Nudge's floor and walked over to her room while Fang and Gazzy continued up. Nudge had gotten one of the nicer rooms, one that wasn't just a bed, bathroom, and balcony, like mine. Hers had a Jacuzzi in the bathroom and a TV with a couple of couches. She hadn't given any of us her spare cardkey, but she'd been sure to describe her room in detail. When we reached the room, I automatically knocked, hoping she'd answer.

I waited about ten seconds before knocking again. Total grunted and sat. Then, Angel looked pointedly at me, right before the door opened, revealing none other than…

A maid.

"Oh, um, sorry. I was just looking for Miss Hart?" I asked.

"Miss Hart?" repeated the maid with a thick Spanish accent.


Pleased that I spoke some Spanish, she told me (in Spanish) that the room was vacant.

Puzzled, I thanked her and led Angel and Total back to the elevators. We went down to the lobby, straight to the front desk. The receptionist smiled at us in her business-like way. "How may I help you?" she greeted.

"Ah, yes. I'm looking for the room of a Miss Hart?"

"Could you please give me the full name?" she asked, typing something on the computer.

"Monique Crystal Hart."

"And you are?"

"Uh, her sister. Alex," I lied.

"Miss Hart has checked out, Alex. Last night," she stated calmly.

"What?" I exclaimed, surprised.

"Your sister is no longer staying at the Grand Bohemian Hotel. I'm sorry."

I sighed. "Well, thank you for your time."

I turned away, Angel and Total following me back to where we had been waiting before. Angel was unusually quiet.

Finally, she turned to me. "Um, Max? The guys can't find Iggy," she mumbled.

"What? Not him, too!" I groaned. "Ugh. Great. Just great."

Total sniffled. "And we were gonna go to SeaWorld, too."

I was still thinking, but I couldn't fathom why they would both just up-and-leave. "Where could they have gone?" I asked myself aloud.

Suddenly, Fang and Gazzy burst from the elevator, running towards us. "He's gone!" Gazzy was shouting, causing the heads of clueless bystanders to turn and focus on us.

"I know," I muttered. "Nudge is, too."

"What? But why would they both go? Where would they both go?" Fang asked, puzzled.

With his question, the four of them turned to me, as if they had telepathically decided that I would have the answer. Which just might be the case.

I put my hand to my forehead, smoothing my hair back, my 'stressed out' motion.

"I don't know…"

Max's Hotel Room


None of us knew where Nudge and Iggy had gone. Total was positive that they had hooked up or something, but that didn't give us a where. Gazzy thought that they had gotten into an argument with each other and both taken off. Fang thought Iggy might have gone back home. I was sure Nudge was back in Hollywood. Max didn't know what to think anymore.

I tried calling Nudge's cell a few times, even sent her a text. She dropped the call and ignored the text.

Gazzy called up Iggy, knowing he didn't text. No answer.

Max was in an absolute frenzy. Her thoughts had shifted into mild panic mode, rushing here and there without sputtering out anything coherent. Her face looked like the worry lines would just freeze as wrinkles and never fade away. Fang was doing his best to comfort her, though she only told him that she was okay, that she would be fine.

Total spoke up, his thoughts leaning towards cheering everyone up.

"Well, where ever they are, they're probably together, and that'll make them less likely to do something stupid."

Max glared at him, her face reading murder. "Total, don't you get it? It's not that I don't know where they are, well, not completely anyway. It's that they aren't here, with us, their family. It's that I screwed up ten years ago and almost left someone behind. It's that I overlooked my mistake and flat out forgot about it. It's that Iggy's siding with her, and I know he has every right to do so. It's that you guys have every right to revile me and tell me you don't want me, because you have the same right as Iggy, and Nudge."

Max looked like she was gonna cry, and all her thoughts turned to concentrating on swallowing those tears.

I pulled myself back into the physical realm. Fang, Gazzy, and even Total looked taken aback by her statement, her accusations against herself. Fang's hand no longer massaged her back, having frozen in place. Gazzy's bored eyes went wide. Total's eyes held a glint of sorrow in them, sorrow that went out to one of the strongest people I'd ever met.

But I was mad. I was angry, upset, enraged, and just downright livid that she would dare allow such thoughts to enter her mind, let alone exit her mouth. I was pissed and I let it out.

"Shut up, Max! The only right we have to revile you comes because you've stopped believing in yourself! What the hell happened to you, to MAXIMUM RIDE? What happened to the Maximum that I knew, the one who raised me, and loved me, and cherished me? Where'd she go? And why did she have to leave some wimp in her place, a fake we could see right through?

"Nudge and Iggy made their own choices, of their own accord. What happened after that explosion ten years ago was a mistake. You know that, I know that, Nudge knows that. She could've let that go the second Iggy found her, the second he even mentioned her. But she chose to hold on to it, to make it bigger than it really was. She decided to transform a simple mistake into a grudge that she would barely have the strength to hold onto. AND IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!"

I had shouted nearly all of my speech, letting off my steam. Max was staring at me, her russet eyes boring deep into mine. For a moment, it was as if she was reading my mind, checking to see if I meant it, if I really, really meant it.

And I did.



I had never before witnessed Angel completely lose her marbles like she just had. Of course, she could've done so at any moment in the past ten years, when I wasn't around to witness her do anything.

But it seemed her words hit home, knocking some sense into Max. Her beautiful chocolate eyes shone in the dim light.

She shook her head. "No. I failed as your leader. I was supposed to protect you guys, to save the world. But I couldn't even make sure all you guys were alive and well. I couldn't…I couldn't even face myself for 24 years, swallow my own fears. I screwed up.

"Angel, you were always right. You should've been leader. You always knew what was best for everyone. I couldn't even figure things out on my own, but you always had all the answers…"

I couldn't take it. I loved Maximum Ride with all my heart and I couldn't bear to see her do this to herself. Part of me wanted to keep quiet, to put my hands over my ears and block out her hurtful words. But the part of me that had come into control over the past years, the part of me that spoke up, that would voice anything it thought it should, wanted to tell her off just as Angel had done.

I stood up. "Max, Angel's right. This. Is. Not. Your. Fault. You should hear yourself right now. You sound absolutely absurd! Just because you made one mistake, one which was immediately fixed, at that, doesn't mean that you're a terrible leader! And you're not!

"Max, we love you, I love you. I thought you knew that. I know Iggy still cares about you, and Nudge probably does, too! They just need some time, because ten years obviously wasn't enough.

"But we're gonna stick around, whether you like it or not! We're not gonna leave your side. We still love and need you! Please, Max. Understand that. Please, just grasp that. Please, Max. Please."

All eyes we're on me. Most of them had never heard me say so much in so little time. And I had just professed my love for the one most perfectly beautiful, loving, and strong woman in the world, for the second time in the past three days.

And all the world felt better.


The Gasman

Wow. Something was up with Fang. For one, he had not only spoken, but he had defied Max. And for two, he had told her he loved her.

Max had her head in her hands, her elbows on her knees, looking like she just wanted to hide away from the world and cry. Angel still looked quite upset, no shock from Fang's speech seeping through her carefully assembled mask of emotion. Total had his paws over his ears, his furry face the picture of depression.

Fang looked more relaxed, standing beside Max, next to the bed where they had once slept together in peace.

It took a few minutes for Max to regain her composure, but when she finally did, she looked up at Fang feebly, sadness depicted across her face.

"Why do you guys want me to stay? I don't deserve you guys. You need someone better, someone else. Don't you understand that?"

She looked around the room, seeing us all staring straight back at her. She caught my eye and I didn't let her go. I held her gaze, trying to tell her silently that they were right, that she should listen to them.

And then the incredible, indescribable Maximum Ride began to weep like there was no tomorrow.

AN: A portion of the last line does not belong to me. I'm sure you can figure out which portion that is.

Oh, and for any fans of The Hunger Games out there, I'm working on a oneshot for it, if you're interested. I'll try to have it up today, tomorrow at the latest.

REVIEWS and FANFICS go together like FLOWERS and BEES. The bees need the flowers to live, the flowers need the bees to live. They lean on each other, through thick and through thin, in sickness and in health, for rich or for poorer, to have and to hold, till at some point they part. So, yah. REVIEW!

10/12/10 EDIT: That's it for tonight. Hope these edits really are making a difference.(:

17. The Phone Call

AN: Okay, first piece of business: as some of you may have noticed, I've changed the summary from what it is below to something a bit different, mainly just some rewording. Next, THANK YOU for the many reviews. :DDD

Warning: This is THE chapter. I know, I know, I've said that for two or three other chapters, but this is THE chapter. What do I mean by that this time? Haha, this is the chapter where EVERYTHING gets messed up and scrambled around. Bwahaha... This is where everything just kinda COLLAPSES into ruins, all because of one phone call...

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Seventeen: The Phone Call

Max's Hotel Room


I cried a lot. All through the afternoon, some during the night, and even in my sleep. Angel and Gazzy eventually went back to their room, carrying a sleeping Total with them. Fang didn't leave my room, though, doing anything I asked (except leaving). He massaged my back, dried my tears, called the front desk when we ran out of tissues, ordered some food, got the bath running, tucked me in, kissed me goodnight, and he told me countless times that he loved me.

When I woke up, he was still there, having claimed the floor and used his jacket as a pillow. I immediately felt bad that he hadn't slept up on the bed with me, or even taken the pillow. He was still sleeping, so I dragged the blanket off the bed and gently threw it over him. Then, I dashed off to the bathroom to shower.

Ah. Even I was surprised at how calm and relaxing the warm water felt, thumping on my bare skin. My wings shivered with satisfaction.

With one towel wrapped around me and another being used to dry my hair, I walked out of the bathroom a good forty-five minutes later. Fang was sitting on the now-made bed, looking quite at home with my copy of The Looking Glass Wars open in his lap. He looked up when he heard me, taken aback by my attire. Lemme tell you, those hotel-provided towels are very short when wrapped around you.

I felt myself blush as I watched his eyes take it in, the blood creeping into his cheeks too.

"Oh, um, I-I just need to get a change of clothes and I'll…"

He rose, picking up the book and using his finger to mark his place. "I'll just step out for a sec…"

I closed my eyes. "No, no. Please stay. I'll just change in the bathroom.

He smirked. "Alright." Then, he plopped himself back onto my bed and continued reading.

Hurriedly, I grabbed a change of clothes from my suitcase and scurried back into the bathroom.

It was some time before I was through dressing and over the fact that Fang, of all people, had just seen me wearing nothing but a towel, and one that barely covered anything, at that.

Fang had found the time to return to his room and change while I still sulked in embarrassment. Angel and Gazzy, we discovered after a phone call to their room, were already wide awake and ready for a brand new day. More embarrassment followed when I saw that it was nearly noon and I had only been up for an hour.

We didn't really have anything planned for the day, as we all felt it would be wrong to go out and do something BIG for our flock reunion when we were missing two members.

Besides, all plans that we would've had were scratched at half past noon, when my cell phone began to buzz.

Now, I'm the kind of person who puts the pesky little fellow on vibrate. Plus, I hadn't had a call in some…six days, so when we were all cooped up in Angel and Gazzy's room and my cell phone started to move, I jumped about a foot in the air.

Across its tiny screen, I saw the word ELLA flashing by. I hadn't spoken to my half-sister since the day before I left, and I sure as hell had not told her (or Mom for that matter) what I was up to.

Intrigued, I motioned to the others to give me a minute, then stepped out and flipped open the phone.

Before I could even provide a simple, "Hello," I was cut off by Ella.

"Max!" Ella and Mom were the only ones back home who still called me that. "Max, where the hell are you?"

"What, not even a, 'Hello, how are you?'"

"Hi, Mads. How are you?" she asked in a fake sweetie voice. I could almost see its accompanying smile. "Now tell me where the hell you are!"

"Uh, I'm in Florida?" It came out sounding a lot more like a question than an answer.

"And what exactly are you doing somewhere other than Tempe, Arizona, a freaking month before your wedding?"

El didn't sound too happy. Heck, lots of people have been upset at me during this past week. Ella, Nudge, David. Wait…David? Wedding?


The wedding.

Wait. Hold your horses, Max. What wedding? You guys broke it off before you left. No secrets or nothing at all. That's what he'd said.

"El, what wedding? David and I called it off."

"Well maybe you called it off, but David's had me working my butt off for the past week to get ready for this wedding. AND NOW YOU'RE TELLING ME YOU CALLED IT OFF?"

Ella Martinez was a lot more like me than most people thought. She had my attitude sometimes, used my lingo sometimes, and even got mad like me sometimes. This was, unfortunately, one of those times.

"Actually, I'm surprised that he didn't tell you. When I was leaving, he got all pissed off, telling me," I deepened my voice in a weak imitation of my ex-fiancé, "'No secrets, or nothing at all.' I wouldn't tell him where I was going, so he took back the ring and I took back my key."

"No way! You're telling me that there's no wedding after all?" I heard something fall to the ground on her end of the line. "Well then I'm done working!"

For a moment, there was silence.

"Hey, Max, why didn't you tell me earlier? I mean, about the break-up. And why did you just leave all of a sudden? Wait, what exactly are you doing in Florida?"

Great. Confessions time, or so it seemed.

"You really wanna know?"


"Really, really wanna know?"

"What, did you get some dirty new job or something?"

My face melted into a mask of horror. "Oh, ew! No, El, hell no."

"Then what? Spill!"

I sighed. "Fine. I'm here for…I'm here for a flock reunion."

There was silence. "Wait…did you just say a flock reunion, as in, Fang, Iggy, Gazzy, Angel, Nudge, and you? As in that flock?"

"Yeah. Me, Nick, Jeff, Zeke, Ariel, and Monique are, er, were all here. But at the moment we're missing Jeff and Monique."

"Iggy and Nudge? What are they up to?"

"We're not really-"

"Hell, scratch that. What're you and Fang up to?"

I blushed, even though Ella couldn't possibly see. "Oh, uh, um…" I stammered.

Ella giggled. "I thought so. You two keep it safe!" I listened as my sister burst out laughing at my expense. Then, she was suddenly silenced. "Wait. You knew where you were going before you left, right?"


"Is that why you broke up with David first?"

"What? No, El! I swear I didn't plan on anything happening, but it's just that…I love Fang. I always have and I always will. I love him more than I could ever love David, or anyone else."

"Aw, that's such a sweet thing to say. So you want me to break the news to David? Or would you like me to find him and hand him the phone?"

I thought for a quick moment before answering, "Neither. I think I should do it in person, ya know? Like, I think he deserves that much."

"Well you better do it fast, hun, because he plans for those wedding bells to ring soon. I'll try to stall him, maybe stop him from ordering more stuff."

Relief washed through my body. "Oh, thank you, El, thank you! You're the best sister anyone anywhere could ever have! Give my love to Mom!" I blew a kiss.

"You got it, Max. Stall the ex, give Mom some love, and try not to grow a big head from all your compliments. Later, sis!"

I heard the dial tone on the other end and flipped my phone shut. Then, I turned to open the door, and saw the curious looks plastered on all the faces of the remaining flock.

"Well, guys, that was Ella. Turns out I have an urgent meeting to see to back home, so I have to head back."

"Can we go with you?" Angel asked, her face scrunching up. Most likely, she was confused as to why I was blocking off my mind. I didn't want to tell them that the wedding was still set to happen.

"Um, I'm not sure…"

"Well, if we all go then we can also head over to Hollywood and see if Miss Hart and Mr. Griffiths are hanging around by any chance."

Crap. She had me there.

"Okay. I'm fine with that. Terrific!"

AN: Anyone catch the sarcasm in that last line? Hahaha.

Disclaimer: The Looking Glass Wars is a fantastic book that I absolutely love. It was written by Frank Beddor, who, obviously, is not me. *sigh*

POV Changes: A couple others have commented on this and expressed their desire for clear displays of perspective change. So guess what? I'm off the hook! I've decided that most of the rest of the story will be in Max's POV, with one chapter in Iggy's perspective, and possibly one chapter from a character who has yet to be an actual part of this story. This way, I don't have to say constantly whose viewpoint it is and no one has to get majorly confuzzled. :)

OH MY CHRISTIAN LIONS! (Anyone heard that joke before? If not, it's below.) Whatever shall Max do about the wedding? What will change? Why won't she tell the others what's really going on?

Christian Lion Joke: So, there was this hunter/explorer guy in a jungle. Suddenly, this lion started chasing him, so he ran. When he figured out that he couldn't outrun it, he got down on his knees and prayed: "Please, God! Make it a Christian lion!" The lion caught up to him and was about to eat him, but the lion suddenly stopped. Then, it put its two front paws together and prayed: "Lord, I thank thee for this food which I am about to receive."
Moral: Be careful what you pray for...

REVIEWS are to this story as CHOCOLATE is to a CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN. (I love those things!) A chocolate fountain couldn't be what it is without the chocolate, and this story could never be what it is without the REVIEWS. :DDD 600 anyone?

10/16/10 EDIT: Sorry for the delay. I've been quite distracted lately. Only a few more chapters to go, though, so I expect to be done soon.(:

18. Bridging the Gap

AN: Rats. Three reviews away from 600. Oh well. It doesn't much matter, so here's your eighteenth chapter! Not much dialogue, mostly Max thinking, quite intensely, I might add. Anyway...go on and read it!

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Eighteen: Bridging the Gap

Parking Lot, Grand Bohemian Hotel


I really, really, really hadn't wanted Fang, Angel, Gazzy, and Total to come with me to Arizona. I didn't want them to know what mess I'd gotten myself into, especially Fang. I feared that if he knew, he might never forgive me.

But, as it was, they came with me, ready to embrace the Arizona heat and see if they could locate Nudge and Iggy.

Fang and the Gasman seemed clueless to my ulterior motives, but I could tell by the confused glint in Angel's eyes, as blue as the skies we once flew through, that she had a hunch. Total was just mainly asleep.

Angel brought her suspicions to light when we were packing up my car. She and Total were riding with me while the guys were taking Fang's car. Anyway, Total was all curled up in the backseat, the luggage was in the trunk, and Angel was just about to open the passenger door.

But she paused, turning to look me in the eye.

"Max, what aren't you telling us?"

I quickly dropped my gaze, anything to avoid her prying eyes. "What makes you say that?"

"You're tense." I opened my mouth to object, but she voiced my thoughts. "More so than usual."

"Well, two members of my flock are missing, once again, and I'm suddenly needed back home, while these two are still missing, so I think I have plenty of reason to be more tense than usual," I defended.

Angel looked at me, trying to find a breach in my mental block. "Max…"


She sighed. "Look, Max, it's obvious you're not gonna spill, but I just don't think it's a good idea for you to hide things, especially seemingly important things, from us, and definitely not from Fang. I sure do hope you know what you're doing."

With that, Angel turned back around, her curls cutting through the air, and opened the door, climbing into the passenger's seat.

Call me stupid, but at the moment of Angel's confrontation, I hadn't considered the fact that I was lying to a stubborn teenager who could amazingly read my mind, and who would be spending the next three days sitting next to me in my car, while her opinionated talking dog hung out in the backseat. There was no escape, besides the ever-so-unwelcoming highway pavement that sped by at an average of seventy miles an hour.

I know. I'm a genius, an absolute freaking genius.

The other thing I didn't consider was that she would have the opportune moment every night, while we were staying at some crappy motel in the middle of nowhere, to go and spill to her brother and my lover. Or she could just settle for telling aforementioned talking dog, if she caught him at a time when his eyes were actually open.

I should get a Nobel Prize, being the genius that I apparently am.

Removing all sarcasm from the current catastrophic circumstance, I am totally screwed.

Damn it, Maximum. Why didn't you just tell them in the first place? Then you wouldn't be so jumpy and paranoid, worrying that Angel will pick through your mind or that David will appear out of thin air and screw everything up even more!


So, after a loooooooooooooooooooong drive, with only two stops for gas and snacks, we crashed at a motel for the night. Angel, Gazzy, and Total got one room. Fang and I shared another.

Now, before dirty minds start cranking, nothing, and I mean NOTHING happened in that motel room.

Okay, fine, maybe that's a lie.

Nothing big happened in that motel room. I was still a little shamed and guilty about not telling Fang what I had found out from Ella, so I couldn't bear to do anything beyond what we had already done.

That night, when Fang's face was peaceful in sleep, lying next to mine, I could find no solace in rest. My sleep was disturbed and staccato, not peaceful like Fang's. I was lying to those I loved most, something I seemed to be doing a lot lately.

I didn't want to cry, not again, so I instead considered how things would've changed had I deleted that email from a then-unknown sender, despite its subject line screaming to me: READ THIS, MAX, a name I was only called by my mother and sister. If I hadn't let my curiosity get the best of me, then I would've deleted that email with the rest, gotten myself a glass of warm milk, and gone to bed. I never would've gotten into this mess.

Heck, in that alternate universe, right now I would've probably been in Arizona, helping Ella with the wedding details, getting fitted for a dress (cringe), and picking out a cake, rather than sharing a bed with Fang in the middle of nowhere, on my way to stop that wedding. Yikes. Even though life was not at its best, I was glad that I had opened the email that had changed everything, the one factor that had set everything in an unstoppable course that would leave me at an unknown destination.

Ah, the thrills and chills of the unknown.

That's probably what I would've thought ten years ago, when I was still young and a teenager. If only Fang had found me earlier, before I was in too deep with David, before my career was so important, before I left childish things and emotions behind and taken on the grown-up world.

Everything changes when you move on. Fang, Iggy, and I had moved on, no doubt. Nudge thought she had, but she was still on the other side of the river, too far from the bridge to even know it existed. Gazzy was standing on that bridge, crossing over from childhood to adulthood. I could tell he was sometimes reluctant, but he usually tried not to look back. Angel was still on that other side, blissfully enjoying her last moments there. And I had a feeling that Total had crossed that bridge long ago.

At the time of my crossing, I ran, not bothering to even take one glimpse at what I was leaving behind. But now that the bridge was out of sight, I was backpedaling, sneaking peeks when I thought no one would notice. And I wished that I hadn't run so fast.

Another thing that came to mind was this: Did I bring my childhood feelings for Fang with me across the bridge, or was what I felt for him from those peeks I kept sneaking back, trying to see the other side of the bridge again?

I knew what I wanted the answer to be. Yes, I definitely took my feelings for Fang when I crossed the bridge, and I had kept them close since.

But part of me, that scary, ominous part in the back of my mind, that stupid, belittling voice we all have somewhere, considered the other option to be correct. And the rest of me cowered away, terrified to even consider hypothetically if what I felt for this beautiful creature beside me was false. I loved Fang with every fiber of me being, even that stupid mocking voice in the back of my head. I had always loved him, and, damn it, I always would.

But everything changes when you move on. Everything.

This wasn't the Voice speaking to me, the one that had told me Fang and I were soul mates. This was the voice we all have, the one I actually feared.

And with good reason.

But what if it was right? I could feel doubt creeping into my mind, consuming even the most recalcitrant parts of me, and I knew there was no resisting it.

What if I didn't really love Fang?

I rose from the bed, growling through my teeth at no one in particular. I opened the door and stepped into the cold, dry, night air. I didn't bother putting on more than I had worn to bed (which, honestly, wasn't much). The night was dark and silent, throw in a handsome and it's who the fortuneteller said you'd meet. There wasn't a soul in sight, so I expanded my wings and started running, my fists clenched tight, stretching my skin over my bones tight as a drum. My eyes shut themselves, as if to stop tears from breaking out and polluting the night. My bare feet hit the concrete hard with each step, sending an ignored pang of sharp pain to my brain. My chest ached, as if I'd skipped one breath too many. My wings were the only part of me in good condition; they felt fabulous as the cold air banged against them, feathers going every which way.

And I took off.

AN: DUHDUHDUHDUH! Oh, no! What ever shall happen next? *jaws hit floor*

Next Chapter: David comes in, drama ensues (of course).

OH! And earlier this week, I found out that MR6: FANG is set for release on March 15, 2010. EEEEEE! The summary thingamabob said that the flock goes to Africa, where they get sent a mysterious message that "the sky will fall." Creepy, huh? To top it off, Angel, who has apparently received more powers, prophesies that Fang will be the first to die. Max, of course, freaks out and all. And that was pretty much all the summary said. Grrr...

Now, awhile ago, a reviewer said that in The Lake House, one of the books that inspired Max Ride, the character Oz is the equivalent to Fang and that he and Max get...intimate...before Oz dies. I hope the same doesn't happen with Fang, don't you?

Now, REVIEWS are like the INTERNET CONNECTION that FANFICTION needs to operate functionally. Without the Internet connection, FanFiction wouldn't be here. Without the REVIEWS, this fic wouldn't have gotten so far. So...who's gonna REVIEW?

19. You Thought Wrong

AN: So, thanks for the reviews. Gotta go fast. School starts soon. Enjoy!

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Nineteen: You Thought Wrong

Tempe, Arizona


Ah! Finally!

It had taken us three days and two nights, but we had finally made it to Tempe! Quickly, I called Ella, letting her know that I had made it. I stopped at my place first, unloading the luggage and giving Fang, Gazzy, and Angel the grand tour. They were supposed to be staying here while I went off to my urgent meeting, aka the telling off of my ex fiancé.

According to Ella, David was over at his place. I wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible, so instead of driving like I had become accustomed to doing, I snuck into an alley and unsheathed the majestic beauty of my wings and soared into the clear day's air.

I made sure to get high enough to look more like a bird than Madison Martinez, from the viewpoint of someone on the ground.

Within a minute, I could see the pale green roof of David Bowerman's house. I had become quite familiar with it over the years, but all familiarity would end today, if things went according to plan.

I made sure to land a little ways away, to prevent him from spotting me. I smoothed out my wind-ruffled clothes, tucked my wings in extra tight, then lifted my head high and began walking towards his place. Of course, I knew I couldn't really look dignified; I was dressed a bit too casual, in jeans and a light gray T-shirt that was Fang's and too big for my small form.

David's house was very cliché and definitely Better Homes and Gardens material. He had the classic white picket fence along the perimeter, a little footpath, a few rosebushes, a couple of small trees, and three steps leading up to a homey little porch. Like I said, very cliché.

I usually didn't bother to knock, but this time, I did just that. It was a couple moments before I saw his face in the window to the right, peeking through the blinds to get a glimpse of who was disturbing him. I suddenly hoped that he wasn't ordering more things for the wedding that would never be.

The door opened in a flash, one moment dark wood before me, the next, the features of David's face and his chubby body. I admit, he was never the fittest guy on the planet, but he wasn't falling off both sides of the bed just yet.

"Mads!" he exclaimed, reaching out to hug me. "You're finally back! See, I told Ella you'd come see me the instant you were back in town! How was your trip?"

I also admit that I was unable to answer immediately, due to the fact that I was squished between David's arm and David.

After waiting a whole ten seconds for him to loosen his grip, I firmly pushed against him.

"David, we need to talk," I said sharply.

"Alright. The couch is always free." He tried to usher me inside, but I shook my head.

"No, I don't have much time. But I need you to listen up and listen good."

I held up my hand, the one he had so roughly torn the engagement ring from.

"Do you see any ring here? Take a good look, because I can't see any ring."

"That's because you gave it to me for safe keeping before you left. It's in my room, if you want it now."

I glared at him. "Actually, I do recall that you violently ripped the ring from my finger when I wouldn't tell where I was going. You said, 'No secrets or nothing at all.' And I chose nothing at all.

"So what the hell are you doing, here, now, making preparations for a wedding that you let slip away? Why are you making Ella work her butt off, all for nothing?"

By now, I wasn't the only one glaring daggers. Boy, if looks could kill, the entire rose garden would have shriveled up and died.

"Madison, face it. We are getting married in front of all of America. This is my big break! And besides, I figured you only needed a bit of time and then the wedding would go through as planned. It was supposed to be a surprise, but apparently your knucklehead of a sister had to spoil it all."

"HEY!" I yelled. "HOW DARE YOU INSULT ELLA LIKE THAT?" I shoved my finger into his chest, pushing him against the doorframe. "And, newsflash! I don't need a wedding to be on national TV. If that's the only reason you're trying to marry me, then you can take your stupid wedding and shove it up your ass!"

I knew that I was starting to cross the line, starting to get a bit too harsh and cold. Oh, but I was on a roll and it felt good.

"Madison. I. Am. Going to. Marry. You. Face it. Get over it. Grin and bear it."

I reached my hand up to slap him, but he moved before me, his strong hands grabbing my shoulders and pulling me toward him. We were so close together that a piece of paper would have trouble fitting between us. Normally, it would have been reflex for me to close that tiny space and kiss him, but now the thought only disgusted me.

Unfortunately, it didn't disgust David. I felt his mouth smash against mine, open and wet, but my lips stayed together firmly, in a taut line that wouldn't budge. His eyes were shut, his tongue licking my lips and all I could do was stand still and be disgusted.

The worst part wasn't that my ex had only wanted to marry me for the publicity, or that he was still trying to persuade me to give in to him, but what happened at the very next moment.

Or, rather, who happened.

Fang chose this moment to walk through the little gate, the moment when I was unpleasantly glued to another man, right in front of the man that I really loved.

Does that suck or does that suck?

Anyway, I knew Fang was there because I heard his footsteps, and no one else could step as quietly as Fang. I pushed David back and turned to behold the sight that I knew awaited me.

Fang's face, as usual, betrayed no emotion whatsoever. His eyes were cold and hard, impossible to decipher. His mouth was in a straight line, neither a smile, nor a frown. Damn it! What've you done, Max?

"Max. I just wanted to see how your…" he appraised David, seemingly sizing up the situation. "…meeting was going."

David looked back and forth between the two of us. I disentangled myself from his arms and walked toward Fang, sorrow and shame swimming in my eyes. Fang sent me a barely perceptible nod, giving me the chance to explain later, once I was away from David.

And it was in that moment that I knew, with all my heart, that I really did love Fang. These were no glimpses to the other side of the bridge; this was the real deal. Yes, everything changed when I ran across that bridge, every single thing, even my feelings for Fang. But they changed for the better. They grew in such a way that I found myself able to express them, something I never would have been able to accomplish on the other side of the river.

But I. Still. Loved. Fang.

I closed the distance between us and wrapped my arms around him tight, never wanting to let go. And I whispered it to him, plain and simple.

"I love you."

I felt him nod, his attention still taken by David. I turned back to him. He was standing on the porch, his arms crossed, looking like he was ready to beat some poor soul to a bloody pulp.

"David, I'd like you to meet Nick. Nick, this is David."

"Nice to meet you," was Fang's chivalric reply.

"Can't really say the same thing about you," was David's rude answer.

"Look, David. There is no you and me. Maybe there once was, but there isn't anymore, and there never will be again. I'm sorry, but you're the one who said the words that led me to that decision. I'm not blaming it all on you, but you do share in the blame. Now, if you'll excuse us, I do believe Nick and I have some unfinished business."

I turned on my heel, taking Fang's hand in mine and leading him out. I did not look back.

Once we reached the takeoff alley, Fang stopped. I turned to look at him, explanation at the ready.

"Max, what was going on back there? What happened to your 'urgent meeting'?" His typically emotionless eyes pleaded with me, begging for the truth.

"My urgent meeting was with David Bowerman."

"I thought you guys had broken up."

I sighed. "Exactly. That's what I thought. And then Ella called and asked why I wasn't in Arizona a month before my wedding and I freaked out that David was still trying go through with the wedding, and I didn't want to tell you because I didn't want to disappoint you, but when I got here, he was all, 'Face it. We are getting married' and then he started kissing me and you showed up and I wished I'd told you first thing what was going on and—"

He put his finger to my lips. "Sh, sh. Max, it's okay. I forgive you. Max, why did you think I'd be disappointed in you? What happened wasn't your fault. What matters is that I love you and you love me." He kissed me. "That's all that matters."

My eyes were clouding with tears of joy. Oh, jeez, not again. I had already cried too much lately.

Fang stopped a tear in its tracks. He smiled.

"You know, the only time I can remember actually crying was that day, ten years ago, when I thought I'd never see you again. But I was wrong. Here we are today, together."

"And that's the only time I can remember tears coming from your eyes. Oh, Fang." I wrapped my arms around him, holding him tight.

"There's something I've wanted to try…" I felt his wings flutter beneath my hands, slowly extending out. "You, too." I spread my wings out. "Ready…fly!"

Fang and I still embraced each other, flapping our wings and climbing up, slowly but surely. I looked at him and laughed, feeling a thrill I had never felt before. The thrill only increased when Fang tilted my chin up and kissed me, gently, softly, smoothly, nothing like the way David had kissed me. To add to the contrast, I kissed him back, eagerly, passionately, remembering back to that night in my hotel room. Ah, the bliss!

And I let Fang kiss me into paradise.

AN: Sorry if you expected a fight. I don't think we'll see those for a while. 3 chapters left to post! Oh my vicious cobras! I've only got a couple more chapters to write but I obviously have to go faster!

REVIEWS are like TIME when you know you're going to be late for some important event. Crap...

10/16/10 EDIT: This is all for tonight. More to come soon.(:

20. When a Betrayal is Beneficial

AN: Just so you know, this chapter is in dear old Iggy's point of view. Enjoy! It is one of the last chapters! Two to go after this! But...more possibly? See AN below.


Now...enter IGGY!

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Twenty: When a Betrayal is Beneficial

Hart Manor, Hollywood, California


I had been in Hollywood for nearly four days. I was staying with Nudge at her elegant manor, but I couldn't see any of it. Nudge was trying to keep my presence on the down-low, not wanting anyone to know where she had been and why she had brought a boyfriend back with her. The only ones who officially knew of my being here were Roger, Nudge's security guard, and Bej Elderbatch, her producer.

I had never imagined that she was so busy. She was always bustling around, here and there, memorizing questions, working things out with her producer, and so on. But she didn't seem to mind; she actually seemed to enjoy it.

Besides, we always had time for just us, every night, lying together in her humongous bed. Oh, how I wished I could see her.

This evening, she was out shopping with a few friends. Before she'd left, she'd been on the phone with Bej. He was the guy who had propelled her to fame, and they'd stuck together since.

Her producer seemed to be a really intriguing person. I liked him, though I had yet to meet him.

But, sitting all alone in the gigantic Hart Manor, one thing that kept bugging me, front and center in my mind, was Max. And Fang, and Gazzy, and Angel, and even Total. What were they doing right now? What did they do when they woke up and found Nudge and me gone? Would they forgive us?

I hoped they could forgive us. I knew Nudge just needed time to resolve how she felt, the opportunity to let go of her grudge. She had forgiven Max already; now she just needed to apologize and forgive herself.

With that on my mind, I got a brilliant idea. I knew I had Max's number stashed somewhere. Besides, Angel had already wanted to go on the Monique Crystal Hart Show. This would be everyone's big break.

I leaned across the couch, groping for the phone. I found it successfully and tried to picture in my mind where the numbers were. I searched through my head for Max's cell phone number and dialed.

One ring.

Two rings.




"Who is this?"

"It's Iggy."

"Iggs? Where're you calling from?"

"Hollywood. The Hart Manor, to be more specific."

"Oh my gosh! We've been trying to get a hold of you for days! What happened?"

"Uh, well, my cell phone died and I left the charger at the hotel. But Nudge just hasn't wanted to answer her phone."

"Ah. She's still mad at me, isn't she?"

"Actually, I don't believe so. Anyway, Max, I'm gonna ask a huge favor of you. Please agree."


I smiled. "Okay, so I have a little proposition for you: come to Hollywood. I think I can book a spot for you guys on the show."

"When, in three years?"

"No. How about three days?"

There was silence on the other end. Then: "Iggy…what're you up to?"

"Oh, nothing. But this little conflict has to end sometime and the sooner the better. Plus, I kinda want to be the peacemaker."

"Well, we can get there soon. We're already in Arizona, so we'll be there the day after tomorrow."

"Perfect. I'll just make a few phone calls and squeeze you guys in. And Max: be yourself."

"Alright. See you soon, Iggs!"


I heard the dial tone and hung up the phone on my end.

Down to the next piece of business. I now had to call Bej, to persuade him to make changes in Nudge's schedule so that the flock could be on the show in three days.

I hit the recent calls button, only able to distinguish it because it was a different color than the rest of the buttons. I went to the second one, which I assumed would be Bej's number. I hit the Talk button and crossed my fingers, hoping I had gotten it right.





"Uh, hello. May I please speak with Bej Elderbatch?"


"Um, yes. This is Jeff. I'm a guest of Miss Hart's. I believe she's mentioned me…"

"Ah, yes! Jeff Griffiths! What can I do for you, son?"

"Well, you see, Monique has recently gotten in touch with a few intriguing figures. Do you remember Maximum Ride?"

"Maximum Ride? The flying kid?"

"She's not really a kid anymore. And neither are the other four, for that matter."

"But wait…aren't there supposed to be six?"

I knew that Nudge would hate me for an eternity if I spilled that she was the sixth member.

"Monique could only find five of the six."

"You mean she's really found them?"

"Yup. They're scheduled to arrive the day after tomorrow. She just left a while ago, but she asked me to contact you and see if you could somehow book them for the show three days from now."

"Did she want me to cancel on the scientists?"

My stomach churned. "Yeah. She specifically mentioned that. Cancel the scientists and put in Max Ride, plus her flock. She felt that an interview with them would be of utmost importance to the community."

"Well it most certainly is! No one's been able to find these guys for ten years! They saved us all and vanished, like that company did! Wow. You know, I think I'm actually gonna try and go international with this one! I've been trying to do that for years, get one of my clients on international television. At last! Give Miss Hart my regards, dear boy. You've just boosted everyone's career! I'm gonna cook up something for her to say. Thank you so much. G'bye!"

I smiled. "Bye!"

This would be interesting. Oh so interesting…

AN: The After Years is coming to a close. It's inevitable. Nothing lasts forever, people. Especially fanfics...

...Which is exactly why some brilliant mind invented SEQUELS!

More info on that to come. :)

Oh my gurshies! School is finally out! Good for me 'cause I get to catch up on sleep and read a ton and have a vacation. Good for you guys 'cause it gives me more time to write, hence more updates. :) (And hopefully more reviews!)

REVIEWS are like FRIENDSHIP. Wonderful, powerful, influential, desired... Make my day and leave me a pretty little REVIEW! Please? :)

21. Walk a Mile in Your Own Shoes

AN: So, a few of you figured out who Bej Elderbatch from the last chapter really was. Many of you did not. But that's alright. :)

Special Note to Stars_Have_Feelings_Too: Hm, that's a pretty good question. I guess stars could have feelings. That would be really cool. ;)

Special Note to Marissa: Haha, I'm not gonna tell you how old I am, but I will say that I'm not really old enough to be a professional author. Yet. Thanks though!

Anyway, this is a chapter that you're gonna have to use your brains. I'm not gonna tell you whose perspective it's in, or how this person is very significant. I will, however warn you that this chapter is also a potential tear jerker. You learn (from the pup himself!) the shocking truth of what happened to Total at the Institute (or at least what I think happened). Plus, this is the climax people. It's supposed to have you on the edge of your seat, biting your nails, and whatnot. This is it! Well, not really. There is still ONE CHAPTER AFTER THIS! But for now, enjoy the climax. :)

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Twenty-One: Walk a Mile in Your Own Shoes

Backstage, Monique Crystal Hart Show


Anxiety. That was definitely the number one emotion today. Cameraman was anxious about seeing the near-mythical hybrids. Make-up artists were anxious about making the stars shine. I was anxious about seeing them again, after so many years. Nudge was anxious about what she would do when she saw them. The audience that had squeezed into the tiny set seemed anxious. Even the pesky flies seemed anxious!

Perfect, everything had to be absolutely perfect. I wanted the set to be dripping with perfection, screaming it out to the audience around the world and in the studio.

International TV! I could hardly believe it! I had been searching for the flock since Itex's fall, and since then I had only been successful in finding Nudge. But I had known that she would eventually lead me to the others. And I had been right.

Only the cosmeticians had seen them so far. Nudge was pacing back and forth, panicking. She had been shocked at the prospect of nearly everyone in the world having the ability to watch her show. But I had a feeling that something else was biting at her nerves.

Ah, Maximum. At last, I would be able to see her again.

"Bej, do I really have to stick to the script?" Nudge asked me, her facing reading displeasure at the concept.

I sighed. "Yes, sweetheart, I'm afraid you do. We can't afford for any mistakes here. This is the biggest show of our entire career! And it's live!"

She frowned.

I put a tender arm around her shoulder. "Oh, come on. Don't be nervous."

"Whose idea was this anyway? To go on live international TV with a bunch of genetic freaks?"

I was surprised, not only at her rude remark, but at the fact that she seemed to have no idea of her guest's actions.

"Wasn't it your idea?"

"What? Are you crazy? No way!"

"But Jeff said…"

Oh! I thought I understood—

"What did Jeff say?"

"I thought he would be here. Where is he?"

Nudge pursed her lips and turned up her chin. "I'm not at liberty to discuss his whereabouts."

"Monique! Bej! We're on live in one minute!" the cameraman called to us.

"Alright-y then, cupcake. You go do your thing, and good luck. Be yourself, stick to the script as much as you can, and don't gawk."

Nudge rolled her eyes at me at strutted off, her heels clacking on the floor.

I got with the program and began to count down. "5, 4, 3, 2, 1." I signaled the numbers to Nudge from behind the camera.

"Good morning, Los Angeles, D.C., Montreal, Mexico City, London, Sydney, Auckland, Rio, Lima, Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok, Jakarta, New Delhi, Cairo, Nairobi, and all the other many cities of the world. I'm here live on the Monique Crystal Hart Show, and I'm your host, Monique Crystal Hart.

"Now today, we have some very special guests here with us. But first, a bit of background.

"Ten years ago, our world was in great distress. We needed a hero, but we all knew that supers were just the creation of comic books. But luckily for us, a heroine emerged out of the dust and saved us all when we faced mass destruction. Because of her and her sidekicks, I'm standing here today and you all are watching me. Please welcome Total, Angel, the Gasman, Iggy, Fang, and, last but most definitely not least, Maximum Ride!"

Nudge gestured toward their entry way and they each entered when their name was called. It was a wonderful sight. Angel had grown up. Total sat at her feet (I always knew there was something special about that dog). The Gasman had never looked better. Iggy stood tall and proud, though his cloudy eyes were unable to smile at the world. Fang seemingly reveled in his glory, a dark disposition but a pure heart. And finally, Max. My Max. Boy, was she a sight to behold.

The flock made their way over to the colossal couch while Nudge took the lone solitary chair.

"So, Maximum, what exactly happened way back when you guys brought down Itex?"

Max blushed. "Please, call me Max."

"Alright, Max. So, what did happen?" Nudge smiled, but it seemed insincere.

Max scratched her head nervously. "Well, actually, most of that's classified information, but I'll tell you what I can.

"You see, the real drama started, not ten years ago, but almost twenty-five years ago, when I was born.

"When I was growing up, I didn't have the privilege of knowing who my real parents are. I was born, then almost immediately taken from them, as were most of us." Max paused to gesture to the rest of the flock.

"Many different tests and experiments were performed on us, the results of which are still very prominent today.

"The scientists who did these things to us were sponsored by and under the direction of Itex, a company with global power. No one really knew what went on behind the walls of where we grew up, and many of those things are too terrible to relay, but we can show you some of what was done to us."

In unison the flock stood up and, on Max's cue, unsheathed their wings. A gasp could be heard from the studio audience, looks of amazed horror the uniform. None of them extended their wings to their full 10+ foot wingspan. Even little Total proudly let his wings loose, though they were only miniatures of the others.

I saw a picture of longing framed on Nudge's face, as if she wished she, too, were standing before the world, her wings on display for all to see. Why she didn't, I had no idea.

"What these scientists did is graft avian DNA into our own and the result was this. Wings, red blood cells with nuclei, hollow bones, air sacs, a greater lung capacity… They gifted us with the power of flight, but burdened us with the curse of secrecy," Fang's voice rang out, stern and loud, gracing the world with its sound, a rare occasion.

He turned to Iggy. "When I was about five, the scientists took me away for an operation. They wanted to see if they could somehow enhance my vision. As a result, I haven't seen in nineteen years."

"My sister and I weren't taken from our parents, like the others, but we were sold. Our parents willingly gave us up for a ripe price of ten thousand dollars apiece." The Gasman, I knew, had never liked the truth of the matter. He had always preferred to think that his parents were wonderful people, still searching for their children. But they were not.

Angel cleared her throat, her delicate voice tumbling out. "I've never been like other teenagers. The scientists went overboard on me. They 'gifted' me with mind reading and controlling abilities, gills, the ability to communicate with fish, and transfiguration. 'Normal' has never been an option for me."

Total gave a little doggy cough. I could almost taste the shock coming from the crew and audience alike. "I am a whopping thirty-five human years old, and still young. You see, I wasn't always like this. Fur. Fleas. A tail. No, no, no. I used to be human." Most everyone, even Max, Fang, and Iggy seemed taken aback by this revelation. "But when an experiment went wrong and left my body dead while my brain thrived, I was put into the first available receptor: a little stray Scottie that was unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And now I will never know what it's like to grow up human, to play checkers, to read a book, to hold hands with a loved one while I walk down a beach…" Total shook his head sadly, whimpering.

Nudge cleared her throat conspicuously, obviously upset to have had the attention ooze away from her. "Max, if I may ask, weren't there seven of you?"

"Ah, yes. Today, we are missing Nudge, the third youngest of our flock. We were with her just a few days ago but…complications arose that tore us away from each other…" Max nervously pushed her hair behind her ear. I saw Fang put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"Oh, alright. Now, Max. Would you mind maybe sharing with the world the secret behind your great leadership techniques? I mean, you guys have been together for, what, twenty years? How do you keep everyone so loyal to you?"

Max gave a faux laugh. "Twenty years? Oh, no. It hasn't been that long. Fifteen, sixteen years tops. And, lemme tell you, my leadership is nothing special. If I were really a great leader, there would be seven of us, telling the world our story."

"What do you mean? Is it because of some mistake you made that Nudge is no longer with you?"

Uh-oh. Monique had taken a detour from the script.

Max went red in the face. Fang took her hand in what I guessed was a show of comfort, and support. (Or maybe love?) What would Max say?

"Well, actually, yes. I messed up ten years ago and it threw our relationship off kilter."

"What, exactly, happened?"

Fang spoke up. "Um, Miss Hart? This isn't really a subject we're comfortable discussing. I'm sure you understand." He glared pointedly at Nudge.

Max shook her head. "No, no. it's okay," she said to both Fang and Nudge.

"What happened was that I momentarily forgot that Nudge was with us. And because of it, Nudge nearly died in a pile of garbage after the final explosion. It's something that I deeply regret and I'd give nearly anything just to tell Nudge that I'm sorry, to beg for her forgiveness, which I probably don't deserve. I know that she hates me and thinks me a cruel tyrant, but I just want her to give me a second chance to show her that I'm not like that. That I'm not perfect and I made a mistake, like everyone does. I'd do it all again if I could get that second chance."

A single tear dripped down the cheek of Max, but no more. She had never been big on crying.

Nudge, on the other hand, could've filled a swimming pool with her tears. Then, she lunged across the space between the chair and the couch and threw her arms around Max. Soon enough, she was sobbing. Max patted her back awkwardly, trying to provide some comfort.

"No, Max. Don't be sorry. I'm the one who should be apologizing. I knew that you were stressed and disoriented and I just added to your burden. I should've gotten over it and just left it. But I was stupid and I was a bitch and I'm really sorry I put you through all that. Please, Max. Please, please, please tell me you forgive me or I'll never be able to forgive myself!"

Max closed her eyes, her arms encircling Nudge tighter, all awkwardness effaced. Now, they were like they had always been: sisters.

Finally, after the heartwarming embrace that confused our worldwide audience, Nudge turned to the camera.

"There's been a slight misconception in the show today." She stood. "All six of Max's followers are present. One of them just hasn't wanted to come forward. I'm Nudge."

The studio fell dead silent, as if their tongues had been cut out, denying them the right to speak.

"And, we may have been reunited with each other nearly two weeks ago, but today, we are really reunited."

Max put her hand on Nudge's shoulder comfortingly. Iggy stood up and carefully made his way toward her, swallowing her in an embrace. One by one, the others stood up giving Nudge a big hug, as if welcoming her back home from a long journey.

I could feel my heart swell with pride. I had stuck with Nudge all these years, hoping she would lead me to Max somehow. And she had. And, I also knew that without me, none of this would have happened. Of course, I couldn't take all the credit; I couldn't have done it without Iggy.

The show took a commercial break and everyone continued to be stunned at the revelation of Monique Hart's true identity. I smiled gaily, still next to the camera. Suddenly, Max looked in my direction and caught my eye. Her brow furrowed, scrutinizing me. If I didn't know any better, I would've thought she recognized me.

I saw as she leaned over to Nudge and barely caught the words she whispered: "Who is that?" She pointed subtly at me.

Nudge didn't whisper back. Instead, she grabbed Max's hand and towed her over to me. Immediately, I decided this wasn't a good thing. If Max figured out who I was, then everything would go downhill. So I began to hastily walk towards the men's room, where I knew Nudge would dare not go.

I came back right before the break ended and almost instantly, I was found by Nudge and Max.

"Hey, Bej!" Nudge called out to me.



"Come here! Meet my friend, Max." She beckoned me to where they were standing. I walked over.

"Max, this is my producer, Bej Elderbatch. Bej, this is Maximum Ride." Politely, I extended my hand out. Max shook it but continued to look at me as if she recognized me, but just couldn't place my face with a name.

Slyly, mainly just to tease her and get her brain gears moving, I winked at her.

Max's eyes widened, at first in shock then in what might have been horror. Discreetly, I put my finger to my lips when Nudge wasn't looking. Max opened her mouth, as if to speak, but instead her lips curled up into a smile that made her look much younger than twenty-four.

Then, as Nudge walked away, my daughter leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Thanks, Dad."


As the show ended, I still stood beside the camera, smiling happily. The biggest day of my career as a producer was over. But, perhaps, the biggest day of my life had just begun.

Max and the flock all went over to the Hart Manor afterward, for a bit more time together without the stress of the world watching them.

I may not know everything, but at that moment I knew seven things:

Max left the studio a brighter person, knowing at last that her father, Jeb Batchelder, was still in the shadows, watching over her.

Fang had found love and learned to show emotions, even if it wasn't something he exercised frequently. I could see him and Max together far into the future.

Iggy had found satisfaction within himself, after a lifetime of feeling too little. He proved to himself, and the world, that he was not worthless.

The Gasman was growing up. He had a pure heart and was an excellent mentor for his sister, who could often be enticed by the dark side.

Total was indeed an extra-ordinary dog. Er, human. I had never been able to look up his background, and I never expected him to be smart enough to remember it.

Angel was still a child in some ways, but the wisest of elders in others. She knew so much of the world around her, but still had plenty to learn about the world she was in.

And Nudge walked away from the studio that day, ready to face the world, but most importantly, ready to face herself.

AN: WAIT! Don't go away yet! You guys gotta stick around for the last chapter and this über importante Author's Note!

First order of business: Sequel. Need I say it again? SEQUEL! MAXIMUM RIDE: PASSING THE TORCH is coming soon. Whoo-hoo! I'll give a basic plot summary next chapter. :D

Second order of business: Who needs something to read over summer break? On FanFiction, I mean. I just finished reading this absolutely FANTASTIC fic (for Max Ride) called The Wings of Wrath by AvengingMyInnocence. It was honestly THE best fic I've come across in the two years I've used this site. Warning: It's kinda long. Okay, fine. It's REALLY long, so I suggest you only read it if you have a ton of free time on your hands. But it was absolutely SUPERB.

Third order of business: Review. I've found a gazillion different ways to ask for reviews. Review. I think you guys get it by now that I really do appreciate your reviews and opinions. Review. I read every single one. Review. Review. ReViEw. REVIEW. REVIEW! Por favor?

22. When Everything Falls Into Place

AN: Yes, guys. Sadly, this is it. Chapter Twenty-Two, aka, the very LAST chapter. Sad, isn't it? Anyway, I couldn't end the story without Dr. Martinez and her famous choco-chip cookies making an appearance, could I? And things gotta be figured out, right? So this is the resolution, when things are pretty much resolved (hence the name). Also, some suggestive stuff at the very end that sets the ground for the sequel, which, by the way, has left a summary down at the bottom. :) So for now, enjoy the very last chapter of MAXIMUM RIDE: THE AFTER YEARS!... After a bit of business...

First off, a very special note to AlongfortheRide: Thank you so very much for reviewing and giving me your honest opinion. A bit of criticism once in a while is healthy, I think. I know I'm no JP, and I don't think I'll ever be, because it's impossible to be someone I'm not. I really appreciate your suggestion and for trying to help me improve my writing. That's what I'm here for, after all. I'm sorry there wasn't much action, but as you guessed, I'm not really an action-y kind of person. I like action, but so far I suck at writing it. My measly excuse: the flock has been in hiding and the bad guys are still trying to get their bearings, after their ultimate downfall. However, by the time the sequel rolls around, the bad guys will be back on their feet and play a big part. I'm definitely gonna try for more action. Again, thank you very much, AlongfortheRide. Your review was very helpful! :) (PS: I'm not that old!)

Also, AlongfortheRide comented on something that a lot of you guys pointed out in your reviews that I should've cleared up earlier. Flipping back all the way to Chapter Eleven: LowFat Land Left, many of you guys mentioned something about Max's Spanish. Now, I've spoken Spanish for as long as I can remember. When Fang says, "Gracias," (thank you) Max follows by saying, "No porque." Lots of you said this was incorrect, but actually, it is a form of "You're welcome." Directly translating it (no because) makes it lose its sense. But it is actually a form of "You're welcome," even if it doesn't directly translate to that.

Now you can enjoy the chapter!

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Twenty-Two: When Everything Falls Into Place

Hart Manor, Hollywood, California


Two days after the big show, Mom and Ella showed up in Hollywood for congratulations and to see the rest of the flock. Ella had already spent a bit of time with Angel, Fang, and the Gasman (who, I couldn't help but notice, looked at El adoringly), but she hadn't seen Nudge and Iggy for a longer time than me.

Mom was absolutely ecstatic. She hadn't seen any of them for a decade. She was also Nudge's biggest fan. Er, uh, Monique Crystal Hart's biggest fan. I think I was her excuse to gush and squeal over a celebrity like she was thirty years younger than she actually was.

But whatever her reason for coming to Hollywood, it gave us all a reason to indulge in some wonderfully excellent homemade chocolate chip cookies…

…which she should NOT have let me touch!

By the time the 'lumps of coal' (as Angel dubbed them) were out of the oven, everyone had smelt enough smoke to not even dare to touch them.

"Oh, Max. What happened?" Mom asked.

I scratched my head and blushed some. My mother always knew how to make me feel like a child.

"Uh…I don't know…"

Mom looked around, searching for the evidence of my mistake.

"Aha!" she said, pointing to the temperature monitor. "You set the oven to 500 degrees, when I said 350 degrees."

I heard a little doggie chuckle from the floor. I blushed even redder.

"Well, I'll just start a new batch." As she said this, Mom walked over to the sink and began washing her giant mixing bowl.


The night was far spent. Darkness shrouded L.A. with its blanket of stars, slowly lifting, fading away as the sun awoke from his merry sleep.

My head rested on Fang's shoulder, his arm securing me to him. I felt his warmth emanating from under his shirt, mingling with mine. Ah. It was hard for me to find this much pleasure in my life.

Iggy and Nudge were snuggled up on the other couch, Nudge cradling a mug of hot chocolate in her caramel hands. Iggy's wings enclosed them both.

Angel sat cross-legged on the floor, stroking Total's midnight fur in her soft hands, her blond curls framing her petite face.

Ella lounged across the other couch, her feet resting on Gazzy's lap where he absentmindedly massaged them. Both of them seemed quite content.

"So what's gonna happen now, Max?" Angel asked meekly.

This was a question I had been trying to answer for quite a while. I mean, how could we split up again? I don't think any of us could take that for a second time.

Besides, what was the point of hiding anymore? The world knew who we were now, so hiding was nearly impossible.

But if we were all together, all the time, and everywhere, we would probably be swamped by unending questions.

No, sticking together would be too hard.


And just like that, I knew what to do.

I sat up straight, my breath hot in my throat. This could work.

All eyes were on me as I was clearly the only to have received this revelation.

Angel was the only one who didn't look completely lost.

Without thinking out the knots and details, I explained my plan rapidly, but from the looks of my family, they hadn't caught a word.

So I repeated myself.

"Look, we obviously can't all stick together, as that would just be hell, but that doesn't mean we never have to see each other again. Iggy could stay here with Nudge, Fang could come back with me, and then Angel and Gazzy could move somewhere close by.

We could keep in touch online and on our phones and whatnot, ya know? Immerse ourselves in modern technology. We could get together every so often, take a week off from our lives and hang out. And I think we just might work this out."

Ella gave me a meaningful look. "Max…do…do you think I could tag along when you guys meet up?"

I smiled at her and winked, quickly shifting my gaze to Gazzy's pink face. "Of course, Ella. I wouldn't dream of leaving you behind again while I take off on an adventure." Discreetly, when I was sure Ella wasn't looking at me, but I could see Gazzy's bashful eye focused on me, I gave him a little thumbs up. He turned red as a tomato.

"So what do you think, Angel?"

My little psychic, who wasn't so little anymore, smiled up at me, her name very fitting at that moment. "I think it's a lovely plan. Besides, I've always liked Nevada. Haven't you, Gazzy?"

He rolled his eyes. "Sure, Angel. I guess we'll try Nevada."

Angel smirked smugly.

"So Nudge and I could stay here then?" Iggy asked, his sightless cloudy blue eyes almost meeting mine. It could be scary sometimes how un-blind he seemed.

"If that's what you guys want."

Nudge smiled gleefully and I could see the expression mirrored on Iggy's pale face.

Fang leaned over and kissed my cheek.

"So that means I get you all to myself…"

I grinned at him. "Of course."

Ella stood and stretched. "Well, I think I'm gonna turn in for the night."

Nudge and Iggy murmured in agreement as they rose. Gazzy followed suit, Total at his heels.

Only Angel was left, besides Fang and me.

As she stood and walked away, she turned back to us. "So you can truly be alone," she whispered, winking deviously. I heard her retreating footsteps as she headed toward one of the many guestrooms.

I turned to Fang, my Fang. Words could never describe how much I loved him, verbal or written. But I could try.

"I love you."

"I love you, too, Max. And I'm glad that you want me to stay with you."

"Of course I want you to stay with me. Why wouldn't I?"

He shrugged. "Anything's possible."

I looked him in the eye. "Do you not want to stay?"

I swear, Fang looked hurt, or, at the very least, insulted. "Max, I promised I'd never leave you and I've already broken that promise once." I opened my mouth to protest, but Fang put a finger over my mouth. "I know, I know. You're the one who left me. But I let you do it, so I'm as much at fault as you are. Bottom line is, I'm never gonna break that promise again. You mean too much to me, especially now."

Gently, lovingly, I wrapped my arms around his middle, snuggling into his chest.

"And I'm never gonna leave you again. That's an impossibility now," I whispered.

"I'm glad to hear it." Fang tilted my chin up so he could look into my eyes.

"Truth is, I can't live without you, Max."

I remember everything about that night so clearly. And I can't see how I'll ever forget. The feel of Fang's lips on mine. His warmth becoming my own. His body against mine. My desire taking over me, pulling me into my own personal ethereal paradise.

The final AN: *sniffle, sniffle, tear, tear* Okay, before going into some business-y things, I just want you to know that I have really enjoyed working on this fic and I am thoroughly grateful for all of the reviews that have been sent in. I swear to carbs, I read every one. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Now, a brief plot summary for Maximum Ride: Passing the Torch (Just be aware that things are subject to change): 15 years have passed. The flock has kept in contact. Max and Fang had two twin girls and married. Iggy and Nudge married and had a son. Ella and Gazzy (yes, them) fell in love, etc., etc., and had a son as well. Angel has fallen in love, but he doesn't know who she really is. Though they've seen each other sometimes, it's been fifteen years since they've all been together. So, intent on changing this, they all meet up at Lake Tahoe for their second official Flock Reunion. But, when the original flock (including Ella) is kidnapped by an ominous force, it's up to their kids (and Total) to save them.

Interested? Sit tight for two weeks, three tops.

REVIEWS are like little seeds. Plant them in my mind and ideas grow until they become fics, which I then, in turn, present to you. So we've come full circle now, which means that to keep this little circle of FanFiction life going, you need to REVIEW!

With mucho amor,
triste author,
eclipsed heart.

23. BONUS: Recipe for FAX, Fang's Edition

AN: Yes, I'm back. I realize that it's been nearly a year since I've touched this fic, but this is a little something special that I cooked up as an extra for the sequel. I decided (at last) to post it here. It's nothing new, really. Just a look at something from a different perspective. Ever since I first posted Chapter Twelve, I'd wondered what happened that night in Fang's eyes. And this is it. Enjoy.(:

Maximum Ride: The After Years.

Summary: The world was saved and the flock parted ways. Ten years later, where is everyone? What will happen when the flock reunites? Old flames will be rekindled, old memories revisited, and old passions relit. Gotta be FAX!

Chapter Twelve: The Recipe for FAX, Fang's Edition

Fang's Hotel Room


I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned in the hotel bed, my head aching. She was back in my life, and now she refused to exit my thoughts. I would see her hair blowing in the wind, hear her laughter in the air. I saw her flying, though the last time I had flown with her had been ten years ago.

I was in love. I had been for a long time, but now that she was back by my side, it was as if my love for her had been revived. It was no longer something lurking in the corners of my heart; it was a living, breathing thing, and it was consuming me.

I had to tell her. Maybe, just maybe, this time she would accept it.

She's not yours to take, a dark voice whispered in the back of my mind. It was right. She was engaged. She had fallen in love with another man and she was going to marry him. Even if she was ready to let me love her, she couldn't allow it. She belonged to another and their love was marked with a ring. She could never be mine now.

Still...what harm could it be to tell her? Not bothering to put a shirt on, I rose from my bed, grabbed her cardkey from my nightstand, and left my room. I went down the hall until I found her room and I put the key in the slot, letting myself in.

She was asleep, her hair spread out around her head like a fan, resting on the white pillow and sheets, almost like a halo. She looked beautiful in sleep, but there was a frown on her face. She tossed and turned, muttering in her sleep. No, she gasped. What did she mean? No, what?

I shook my head. Now I was just being stalkerish, hanging out and watching the woman I loved sleep. I reached over and began to shake her shoulder.

"Yo, Max," I whispered. "Let's take a little spin."

Max's eyes fluttered open, but she didn't look at me. "Didn't you say that exact same thing ten years ago?" she said cautiously.

Mentally, I cringed. Yes, I had said that, and Max had broken my heart (again) shortly after that. But I swallowed my emotions and replied, "But that's not what you said."

I watched her lips curve into a smile as she closed her eyes again. Then she sat up and looked straight at me. She seemed to drink me in for a moment, and then she stretched out her hand to me, her fingers brushing the scar given to me by her half-brother. Without moving, I followed her fingers with my eyes as they explored.

"Oh my. It's still there," she said, surprised.

After a moment or two, I whispered back, "Yeah. It makes it kinda hard to forget Ari."

She grinned a bit, her eyes a thousand miles away. I couldn't help but wonder what she was thinking about.

Finally, I said, "Well what are you waiting for? Let's bounce."

She seemed to remember my presence as I spoke and she got up out of the bed. As she walked over to the door that led out to her balcony, I noticed that she wasn't really wearing much. A pair of shorts were on her legs, but they were obviously made for pajamas, not public appearances. She also wore a low-backed spaghetti-strap shirt that allowed for her wings to easily be freed. She looked amazing in the moonlight, her skin smooth and flawless, her hair shimmering.

It was then that I noticed that she was prepared to take off while I still lingered in her room.

"Coming?" she asked, looking at me pointedly, as if she was trying to decipher my thoughts.

"Of course." I walked out to join her. "I just got distracted for a moment," I told her, and then I plunged into the darkness of the everlasting night.


I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her. I had to tell her, I had to tell her, I HAD TO TELL HER.

My mind was like a broken tape recorder, reciting this over and over. I had to tell her, I had to tell Max how I felt. I had to tell her that I loved her.

For an hour, I tried to get the right words out. For an hour, I failed.

And then, as we came back toward the hotel, I thought I had a way to tell her. We stopped at the balcony outside Max's room and perched on the ledge. Well, she did; I stood, leaning against the ledge right beside her. She looked up at the stars and I looked at her, absorbing her beauty, and the courage I knew I would need in order to tell her the truth. She looked at me just as I began to speak.

"Max, do you know what my biggest fear was in the past ten years?"

She searched my eyes, confused by my question. Then she shrugged. "Erasers?"

"No." I almost slapped myself. Maybe I'd worded things wrong.

"Flyboys?" she guessed again.

I shook my head in reply.

She thought for a moment. "Itex kidnapping you in the middle of the night?"

My lips twitched. "Surprisingly, no."

"Well then what?"

I sighed, looking away from her searching gaze. This was it, the life-changing moment, and whether the change was for better or for worse was all up to her.

"My greatest fear was...that I would never see you again." I glanced at her briefly to gauge her reaction. She surrendered nothing, and I continued and the words were suddenly flooding out of my mouth. "That I would never be able to tell you what a great leader you were, never let you know how much I looked up to you, never say that I thought you were the most beautiful girl to grace the planet, never tell you that you were such a great friend, never..." I stopped, resting my face in the palms of my hands. I didn't dare look at her, for fear of what I might see. This would be the hardest part. "...never be able to tell you how much I loved you." Finally, I looked into her eyes, opening myself to her.

She looked horrified. For the longest time, too long, she just sat there, staring into my eyes and saying nothing, her mouth a flytrap. She looked away then, leaving me hanging, wondering what would happen next.

After a few minutes—or an eternity?—she caught my gaze and took a deep breath, as if she were about to dive underwater.

"Fang," she whispered before going silent again. Then her mood seemed to change, her tone becoming light. "Do you know why I never told David about the wings or Maximum Ride?"

"No..." I said plainly, though I was utterly shocked. I had just confessed my love to her and she had changed to subject to the man she was engaged to!

She closed her eyes and breathed again. "I never told him because I knew that if you ever came back into my life, I would immediately choose you over him, that I would follow you, do anything to keep you around. And I knew he would never like that. If he had that kind of information, he would automatically use it to his benefit if he thought it would make us even, make me come back."

She looked at me sadly and I tried to understand the meaning of her words. "So you didn't trust him."

She sighed. "No, more like I didn't trust me." She paused, then her tone became serious. "Fang, if I had to choose between seeing just you and seeing just the rest of the flock, I would choose you without hesitation. If I had to choose between your life and everyone else in the flock, I would choose your life. If I had to die to save you, I would without a second thought."

I cut her off. "That wouldn't really work, because the moment you were gone, I'd find a way to follow."

She shook her head. "Well, the point is that I don't trust myself where you're involved, because the outcome is too predictable.

"And every day in those ten years when we were apart, I thought of you, tried to imagine where you were. Every time I kissed David, I really wished it was you. When I started getting close to him, I couldn't help but think that he was like you. I fell in love with his Fang-like qualities, not him.

"So I guess that that was all just a super long way to tell you that I love you."

I started smiling, and then I just couldn't stop. She loved me. Max loved me. I was the happiest man in the world, all because she loved me.

"So where does this leave us?" I asked.

"I don't know," she responded, looking confused.

I elaborated. "I'm in love with you and you're in love with me, but you've got David waiting for you back in Arizona."

She froze, as if she had forgotten something important. She looked at me sheepishly. "Actually..." She held her hands out for me to see. "Like I said, I knew I would end up choosing you."

For a second, I was puzzled. Then I realized that there was no engagement ring on any of her fingers. I took her hands in mine, stroking them.

"What happened?" I couldn't help but ask.

"He didn't like the idea of me leaving, so I told him that if he wasn't ready to accept that I was a free-spirit, then he wasn't ready to marry me. I kicked him out and he took back the ring."

"Why didn't you say so before?" The fact that she would keep something this important from me was frustrating.

Her cheeks turned a light pink. "I forgot."

She turned around to face me then, looking into my eyes. I was still smiling.

"Well now that you remembered..."

And I pressed my lips to hers, enjoying the feeling of them against mine.

She loved me. Maximum Ride loved me. And I was finally ready to keep the promise that I'd made so many years ago on that little beach...

"Don't ever leave me again."

"I won't. I won't. Not ever."

AN: So I hope you liked that. As I said, nothing new, but I still hope you found it enjoyable. Just so you guys know, the sequel (Maximum Ride: Passing the Torch) is up and has been completed, for your entertainment. If you haven't, you might wanna think about checking it out some time.(:

I'm also finishing up another fic, titled If Only, and I have a couple of MR oneshots posted, too. They're also available for checking out. ;]

Believe it or not, I'm still after REVIEWS. Are you guys still up to feeding them to me? Yes? Then REVIEW!

10/18/10 EDIT: Well, the editing of this story is officially complete. I really hope the renovations have improved it some. I also hope to be able to reach 900 reviews some time…That would be very nice, I think.(: